No Party For Me?

I am not a Democrat, nor a Republican.

I am not a member of any third parties.

I doubt that there will be a political party that covers/agrees with what I value:

Reduce the size and scope of our Federal Government.

Toss out our current income tax system and change to a flat tax on all income, or even better, a sales tax which is based on consumption.  (Both have flaws, but I believe will be more fair than our current system.

Universal Health Care funded by the same methodology that Social Security is funded as a payroll deduction.

One of the arguments against some of the elimination of certain programs that our Federal Government is currently in charge of and transferring those programs to the states is that the states don’t have the money to pay for those programs.  I say when we eliminate the Federal involvement, then the states get to keep the money.  In other words, the states may need to increase their taxes to their citizens, but it’s money that is currently being paid to the Feds, that would not be paid to the Feds anymore.

Here’s the problem with all of this:

States have limited income and do not print their own money.  If they go in debt, they have to borrow and some states are already in trouble do to owing too much.

Our Federal Government doesn’t have this restriction.  It has become routine for our Federal Government to vote to increase our national debt ceiling, meaning we can go further into the whole.  What’s the alternative?  Cut back and spend less.

That’s where the fighting begins between the parties.  Cut here and you don’t care about _________.  Both sides have their causes.

Lobbyists, lifetime politicians and bureaucrats are really the enemy of the people in many cases.

Everyone will ultimately look out for themselves and that is sad.  Yes, we need to protect ourselves, but also be our brothers keeper.   A big question is how much of being our brothers keeper is the responsibility of our government and which level of government.

I’d love to find a group of people who are sick and tired of something in their political party and not fond of the other party either.  A group of people who can take some of these ideas and work on solutions instead of blaming and name calling.

Any takers?

 

Time to Grow Up

I shake my head and wonder at people who mean well but don’t understand the balance of power.

This time I’m talking about the role of our Federal Government balanced with State and Local Governments.

Have you taken a look at the amount of money that our Federal Government owes recently?  It will blow your mind.  The debt has been increasing at an alarming rate for years and up until now, there was no end in sight.

This week the next proposed Federal Budget was released and there are a whole lot of people claiming it will ruin our country.  The cuts to the E.P.A. and the arts and education and, well nearly everything has been proclaimed to be disastrous.

The problem is that no one wants to see cuts to the programs that they benefit from, or that their family benefits from, or “someone” benefits from.

The usual argument is that these cuts will hurt the poor and benefit the rich.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

The argument should focus on the balance of power, like I stated earlier.

Our Federal Government has overstepped it’s boundaries and is imposing national programs on us that should be taken care of at a more local level.

We are the United States of America.  There is a distinction between each state that is being lost as the feds have control over more and more.  That’s not the way our Government was designed to operate.

In the current Federal Budget proposal, the slashes in spending also correspond with cuts in power that the Feds have in our lives.  They are handing the power back to the states where decisions can be made more effectively by people closer to the situations.  Instead of the Federal Government dictating all the rules, they want our State Governments to decide how to spend our tax dollars.

Granted, some programs that get Federal Dollars will be hurt if those Federal Dollars are taken away.  But that just means those programs need to revamp and find funds from other sources.

I have served in multiple capacities as a volunteer on committees, Boards of Directors, etc for several not-for-profit organizations over the years that did not live or die due to Federal funding.  We sometimes received grants from organizations besides the government.  It can be done without a Federal hand-out.  It might be a State hand-out, or it might be a private source of funds that allow these organizations and programs to continue.

You can do more than flood social media with your cries of outrage.  You can do better than Washington politicians and bureaucrats when it comes to spending money.  You can demand changes with your votes and town meetings and if they are aimed at the people who actually live in your city and state, you have a better chance of being heard.

It’s time to grow up.  We need to stop piling on Federal Debt for ourselves and our kids to pay and clean up our act.  Hold the Federal Government accountable for doing what they are supposed to do and demand they get out of the areas of our lives that they are not supposed to be involved with.  Demand your state and local government leaders step up and take back the powers they have instead of waiting around for the Feds to do the work.

It’s going to get messy but we have been creating this mess for over 200 years.  We have a framework to untangle this, if we use it.

Immigration BS

I heard it on the radio.  I saw it as a trending story on Facebook. Today, 2/16/17 is supposed to be #ADayWithoutImmigrants.

The Washington Post article on the topic lists a number of establishments that  are”closing out of solidarity or necessity”.

Here’s the problem I have with stuff like this…

The liberal left argument that we are a nation of immigrants so we any immigration control is wrong defies logic and the law.

The conservative right argument that we have over 11 million illegal immigrants and the implied argument that they are all here from Mexico is also wrong.

Here’s what drives me nuts about the liberal argument…

They like to make no distinction between legal and illegal immigrants. I understand that they want to make us all feel bad and if we kick out people who are simply here to make their lives better… that’s why they crossed the border illegally to escape the poverty/horrors of their home country and we are the United States of America that welcomes the masses, you know the rest.

Like I said, my issue and that of many others is that there really is a distinction between legal and illegal immigration.

To my liberal friends:

Do lock your doors on you house and car?

Would you welcome anyone to come move into your home and take over a room or two?

When I say anyone, I mean anyone without any preconditions?  Where you have no right to say no?

I have yet to find a person who actually lives with the open door/open house policy I just described.

I am not anti-immigration.  Most conservatives are not anti-immigration.  However we are just like the liberal friends I know who want some set of standards as to who we allow move into our houses and we want to have the ability to say yes or no based on conditions that make sense.

Have you ever looked at the number of ways a non-citizen of the United States can legally live here?

There are tons of visa and refuge status programs that allow non-citizens of the United States to come here.  We have a pathway to permanent non-citizen status residency in the United States of America.  We have a pathway to become a full fledged U.S. citizen where you can doing anything that a natural born citizen of the United States can do, except become President.

So please, please, please… Stop lumping legal immigrants and illegal immigrants into the same group.  It’s an insult to those who followed the laws to come here and follow the processes and requirements to have legal status.  My grandparents who are no longer alive but came here from Europe in the early 1900’s would be dismayed at what is going on.  They were so proud of the hard work it took to become a citizen of the United States one hundred years ago.

Now my rant against the right:

Please stop implying all the “illegals” are from Mexico.  That’s a lie.  Dig a little and uncover the truth and you’ll discover that the estimated number off 11 million consists of less than 2 million from Mexico.  The rest are those who overstayed their visas or some other status that made them illegally here.

Finally, I don’t have answers on how to solve all these issues, on what to do about families where the parents are illegal but the kids who were born here are legal by birth.  We need to take these on a case by case basis and apply similar standards that cops use when they pull someone over for a speeding ticket.

 

Thinking Out Loud on the Cusp of the Trump Presidency

It’s that transition time.  The 2016 national election has come and gone and for the most part, the counting is over.

The incumbents are either breathing a sigh of relief if they ran for re-election and won, or planning their next steps if they ran and lost.  Some never ran and they didn’t have skin in the game, so their future plans were made months ago.

We have seen a real ugly side of politics this election cycle and both the Democrats and Republicans should be scared.

Why?

Because both of their parties were rejected.

I’ll start alphabetically with the Democrats.

If there was strong support for the Democratic party, then Hillary Clinton would have own the presidency with both the popular and electoral votes.  But I saw this campaign season as a rejection of not just her, but the Democratic party “business as usual” platform.

Here’s my case:

Bernie Sanders.

Eight years ago we saw the same with a different name: Barrack Obama.

Both elections were supposed to be shoe-ins for Hillary.  1st female president, most qualified, most experienced, you name it, she was a winner on the achievement tally sheet compared to her primary opponents.

But in 2008, the candidate that beat her had the enthusiasm vote.  It was a vote for Hope and Change.  We were tired of the war and distrust of the government under the Bush years.  Barrack offered a clean slate and there was not a damn thing the Clinton’s could do to stop him.

Eight years later they were better prepared with enough Democrat Party Super Delegates in their back pocket that there was no way Hillary would not be on the ticket in November.

Problem was this old Socialist dude from Vermont who looked like the crazy Uncle that everyone dreads coming over for the holidays, Bernie Sanders.  The Democrats expected him to be nothing more than a pesky mosquito but instead Bernie created a movement.

Bernie was the Hope and Change for hundreds. Those hundreds became thousands and then millions.  The Democratic party panicked and stooped to dirty tricks to help Hillary.  There was no way that Hillary was going to be tossed out of the general election but then came “commie lovin’ Bernie”.  But did you see the crowds that Bernie drew versus the crowds that Hillary gathered when they did campaign stops? Here in Fort Wayne, Indiana the number of people who were, “with her”, were outnumbered by those that “felt the Bern”.

Bernie should have been the Presidential Nominee for the Democrat Party, but the math of delegates with the Super Delegate factor made it impossible.

At the moment the leader of the Democrat Party is not named Clinton.  The leader is named Obama, and his time expires in January to hold office.  The Democrat Party is leaderless.

The Republican Party isn’t in much better shape either.  Imagine the people who wanted some one with conservative values were so dissatisfied with the field of nominees that Donald Trump beat all of them.

Donald Trump doesn’t represent the Republican Party.  They tried everything they could to prevent Trump from winning enough delegates to secure the nomination, but they failed. Then when he won the Presidency, many sucked up to him who were in the nasty fight just months before.  Those Republicans are not sure if they should ride on the Donald’s coat tails but they certainly don’t want to be left behind.

The only reason we still have just two major parties is the idiotic choices the other parties have offered.

Gary Johnson may be a nice guy but when he failed to name a foreign leader that he respected during a national television interview, he lost credibility big time.  When I saw that clip, I know how I would have handled it.  He was sitting with his V-P partner, and he should have simply said to Mr. Weld, “Gee, Bill, I’m not sure which one to pick, who do you think would be on the top of our list?”

That shows the ability to think on ones feet and maybe it’s because I’m in sales, but I know how to answer questions that I’m stumped on.  And most questions I am asked, I know ahead of time what my answers will be.

So the Republicans have lost their party to the likes of Donald Trump and the Democrats have simply lost and need to find a spokesperson.

Bernie and Donald both represented the 2016 Hope and Change that Barack Obama presented in 2008.  Each of those three men simply offered Hope to different segments of the voting population who wanted Change that would affect their own interests.

Now…

What are you and I to do?

It’s time to do some thoughtful thinking and have some open discussions with people of all political leanings.

Pick issues that are important to you.  If you need a list, you can use a website like https://www.isidewith.com/  and look at the issues and choices listed.  A word of caution with this website, is that some of the questions are geared to steer you towards a certain mindset, so feel free to challenge the questions wording and perhaps rework them to your own liking.

I suggest doing this exercise on your own first.  When I did it, I discovered that I don’t have opinions on some issues.  That’s because I don’t know enough to decide where I stand on the topic, or it’s not as important as other items on the list.

Forget about liberal or conservative labels.  Forget about party positions.  Think through your ideas and beliefs and then share with others in a discussion.

Every action will have unintended reactions.  Nothing operates in a bubble.  We cannot predict the future but we can learn from the past.

I want to be part of a better future for myself, my family and for strangers too.  Are you with me?

 

 

The Worst of The Best

Too much has been said during this years presidential race by the candidates, their surrogates, their supporters and those who are anti-___________.

So I don’t add to the noise on social media or in public conversation.

It’s not that I don’t care.  It’s just that I have nothing to contribute that can be said in a tweet, or Facebook post that will make much of a difference.

I just finished reading the book, Think Like A Freak, by the authors of the Freakonomics series and handed my copy to my son.

The idea behind this book is to teach people how to open their minds by discovering predispositions and examine stuff deeper than we often do.

It’s the kind of stuff that I love to do, to play detective, to do experiments and to learn.

What caught my attention in the first place was stuff that they authors discovered about violent crime and abortion, in their first book, and the whole series along with the movie is worth your time.

But let me present my own thoughts today on the current Presidential election.  It’s about 9am on Sunday October 9, 2016.

Election Day is November 8th this year so in 4 weeks and about 3 days we will know who our next President of the United States will be.

The primary season ended a couple months ago with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump emerging as the candidates chosen by each party to run as the Democrat and Republican party presidential candidates.  For that reason and that reason alone, I’ll call Hillary and Donald, “The Best“.

Not the best people to run for office or to serve as POTUS.  But they were the winners of the series of contests that each major party held leading up to their conventions this summer and thus were designated to move on to the next round, the final round.

Applying the Think Like A Freak methodology you can spend a lifetime trying to uncover how we got here, but today it doesn’t matter.  Clinton and Trump won the races they were running and now we are in a sudden death battle that will determine the executive leadership of our country for the next four years and have lasting effects on our country beyond our lifetimes.

Now that I’ve explained why Hilary and Donald are the Best, let me tell you why I titled this article, The Worst of The Best.

It’s all the dirt and mudslinging that is going on.  By nearly everyone.

Trump’s past, Clinton’s past along with their present words and actions are being used to bring each other down.  And there is plenty of bad stuff that happens now that provides even more material.

The people who are truly passionate about wanting Trump to Make America Great Again are no better or worse than those who want Clinton to do what ever she says she wants to do, and are passionate about her.

I wish we could have an election about policy and direction, not about Hillary’s health and Donald’s, well you name it.

In Indiana, we are seeing and hearing a similar battle for an open U.S. Senate Seat with back to back to back TV ads attacking each candidate with sound bites.

I wonder what would happen if the Federal Election Commission would apply similar Truth in Advertising Rules that the Federal Trade Commission has in place.

You have perhaps noticed that up to this point I have not mentioned the 3rd party candidates. For President I will have a third choice, Gary Johnson is on my ballot.   No, he and the Libertarian Party are not going to pull an upset and win the presidency but I am glad that they made the ballot, simply to see how many votes they can pull away from the two major parties.

Here’s the truth.  Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be elected November 8th.  Ballots have been printed, early voting has started and we will have one of them declared the winner, The Best of the Best according to the rules of our election process.

Time for me to attempt to research all the candidates on my sample ballot and pick who will get my votes next month.

15 years and counting

Some things we wish had never happened.  The events of September 11th, 2001 changed my world and the world of my wife and kids in ways we could never imagine.

Other generations had similar events of war that changed their lives and all of ours for that matter.

My Dad was 11, my Mom was 8 when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941.  I wish I had talked with them and discovered how that and our subsequent involvement in World War 2 impacted them.

All of my Uncles and my Dad served in the military as it was the thing to do.  Then came the 60’s and the beginning of public protests against our governments involvement in, well I was going to say foreign wars, but from what I read, (and barely recall), the 60’s were filled with lots of questioning of our governments actions.

What I recall in the days following 9-11-01 was a unity of Americans. The terror attacks were not aimed at Democrats, Republicans, men, women, straight or gay, or any particular sub-division of our citizenry.

It was against all of us. Our ideals, our freedoms, our lifestyles.

We are not the perfect country.  We have come along way and we still have a long way to go.  Hopefully we are not becoming the country that our Forefathers sought and fought for independence from in the late 1700’s.

My 1st wish is that we didn’t have to remember 9-11-01 because the attacks never happened.

But it’s my second wish that is more realistic.  That is a wish to set aside the political and social and (fill in the blank) differences and celebrate the freedom we have to have those differences.

Also that we talk and take responsibility for our own actions, behaviors and attitudes.

 

Hype & Ignorance

As I write these words we are in between the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention.

We have had plenty of people talk about how wonderful and terrible Hillary/Donald are and how the only answer is moving to Canada.

But the topic of Hype & Ignorance applies to many hot topics unrelated to our current Presidential race.

I’m not aware of the bias of the news media when I was a kid in the 60’s and 70’s but I’m guessing there was less than we have now.  Walter Cronkite was Uncle Walter, the legendary CBS Evening News Anchor that told my family what had happened in the last 24 hours.  You watched it at 5:30pm, because that’s when it aired.  Catch it live or miss it was the only option.

The 24/7 news cycle that began with CNN and has grown to include other cable news channels needed to fill 168 every week with news and so more than what Uncle Walter could squeeze into 30 minutes each day was needed.

Eventually with the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, the doors were opened for more opinion oriented broadcasts on radio and TV, because the Federal Communications Commission did not require broadcasters to provide equal time to opposing views.

This ability to present just one side in broadcast media grew even further with the accessibility of the internet and eventually social media which has given anyone with a smart phone the ability to share their views with everyone.

No longer do we have a standard of truth to hold people accountable to present just the facts without bias.

This has led to both hype & sensationalism along with stubborn ignorance.

The polarization of the people on issues is a natural occurrence.  I’m not saying it’s right, but it develops naturally.  We tend to hang out with people we agree with rather than those we disagree with.  It feels better to be friends with someone you have something in common with versus someone you have nothing in common with.

The reality is that we really have plenty in common we disagree with, if we just have meaningful conversations that don’t dissolve into name calling.

  • The only way to resolve this is to learn what the bias is of the person or media that you are listening to/reading/watching.
  • Once you know the filter that the information is being presented through, you begin to see the Hype that is also going on to magnify and justify that position.
  • Then seek out the opposite or opposing view and see what they say about the same issue.  This is how you can combat Ignorance in your own life.

There is plenty of Hype on both sides of any issue along with individual Ignorance because of staying in our “safe zones”.

I urge you to do your homework and stop blindly agreeing with what others are saying. Become informed and determine your own opinions.  Or you may also find yourself with simply a greater understanding of the various issues and pick up some new friends along the way like I have.