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My Fellow Americans, It’s Time

I just wrote a piece about our President, Donald J. Trump.  It’s an open letter asking for him to Make America Great Again by resigning.

That is one step to end the current Washington political chaos and stalemate in our federal government.

But it’s time for the people to come together and set aside the labels and blind loyalties that have created a series of divisions.

I wish we could break up the current national Democrat and Republican Parties and start over.

See most Americans can find more in common than those parties are willing to admit.

A few issues to demonstrate:

Health Care.  It was an issue that was on the back burner for decades until Obamacare was passed in 2010.  The premise and promise was that if you liked your plan, you could keep your current health insurance plan and the same with your doctor.

That was the mantra that was repeated over and over and over again in the selling of the Affordable Care Act.  Turned out to be a lie.

Many of us liked the idea of making health care affordable.  There was a few years in my 30’s that I had no health insurance. I took a job with a decent wage that offered no benefits and I worked that job for two years.  Any medical expenses for our family we had to pay ourselves.  We were fortunate. Nothing big happened.

I also had 9 months in my 50’s that I had to buy private health insurance for myself and my wife and it was the same monthly cost as what I was paying out of pocket from my previous employer.  That was a surprise.

My original objections to the passage of the Affordable Care Act was that it was not under the Federal Government’s authority to create a nationwide health insurance plan that was mandatory.  You might remember that one of the selling points is that this was RomneyCare on a national level.  It was modeled after the statewide healthcare plan that was implemented under Mitt Romney when he was Governor of Massachusetts.

And then my objection was that it didn’t go far enough.

I know that contradicts what I just said about state versus federal government authority, but so be it.  If we were going to have a nationwide healthcare plan, I wanted it modeled after the Social Security retirement model that was passed last century somehow.

Social Security is a safety net.  It is not the only way Americans are allowed to plan for income when they retire but it provides a bare bones, baseline income when you qualify due to age or other disability related circumstances.

My wife took early retirement with Social Security and continues to work on occasion.  I have a friend in his 70’s who has both his retirement income from Social Security and continues to work.

A basic universal policy for every citizen of the United States that would destroy the current health insurance model would be great.  No, it’s not free.  But replace my health insurance premiums with taxes to run this program and don’t fill it with loopholes and I’m fine with it.  A huge chunk of Americans would be too.

The current health insurance industry would reinvent themselves to provide policy’s that expand on the basics.  Just like the Financial Planning/Retirement industry offers plenty of ways to have income besides a monthly social security check.

Another issue is Tax Reform.  Like the debate over Health Care is polluted by special interests lobbying our elected officials, so is the taxation debate.

I like the idea of a consumption tax instead of an income tax.  Pretty simple and fair. When you buy something there is a federal sales tax.  Rich people buy expensive stuff, middle class people buy according to their income and the poor buy what they can afford.   With a flat consumption tax, the loopholes are gone and everyone pays the same rate. Fair? Yes.

There is an argument that the poor will be hurt by this because the cost of the stuff they are already buying will go up with the additional national sales tax and they are at a poverty level right now that they are not paying income tax, so the net is they lose money.  That could happen.   But it also might free up companies to be able to pay higher wages to increase those poverty wages to a better standard of living.  I’d like to see and explore this further.

But right now, these couple of issues are stuck in partisan debates and sub-partisan debates.

The way the Republicans argue in the Senate about the alternative health care plans, some say the plans are too liberal, others say they are too conservative, and I get the feeling they are just as motivated by their own re-election than their principles…

We saw the same sub-partisan debates in the Democratic Party between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

We need non-partisan conversations instead.

As Americans, nearly everyone wants to pursue their version of an American Dream.

Freedom to be yourself, to be ambitious, to be free of stupid discrimination based on nearly anything.   An even playing field isn’t possible simply because of learned biases and culture, but with each successive generation, we can become less intolerant and better friends and neighbors can’t we?

Most of us are somewhere in the middle, not like the lunatic fringes that make the headlines.

Seek others who have different views than yours and talk, listen and learn why they are passionate.

We all become better and that’s where we can start.

 

 

Donald J. Trump, It’s Time

An open letter to our current President of the United States.

Donald J. Trump, it is time to cancel this game show where you occupy the White House.

Before I go any further, what is it that finally got me to speak out publicly and not just privately?

Anthony Scaramucci.

I am tempted to use similar (but not so graphic) swear words to describe my outrage of what he did this week.  But I won’t because I know better.

He doesn’t. He proved it by talking to a reporter and then blaming the reporter for his own words.

Communication Director? If this is the way he is going to represent the Executive Branch then he is the worst possible candidates.

I had a sliver of hope that Anthony could be the professional that could clean up the leaks coming from your branch of the government but he has turned out to be a bigger buffoon than you Mr. Trump when it comes to communication.

I did my best to look the other way when I would cringe at your tweets and off the cuff comments that you have made since that day in January when you took office and renewed your campaign promise to Make America Great Again.

I tried to look at all the dirt they dug up on you as simply part of your very non-p.c. past.  The bragging of an insecure millionaire talking with Billy Bush was from your past and once you were in the oval office, you would act the part and be humbled.

Nope.

The tweets kept coming.

Your staff seems to never be able to get the story straight about anything.

You, Mr. Trump are an Apprentice that has no mentor and from all appearances, you don’t want one.

In my fantasy world, you would meet privately with each of the living former Presidents and seek their wisdom.  They are the only ones on this planet that have had the responsibility that you now have and each of them were rookies when they were in office the first time too.

Jimmy Carter, the Bushes, and Barack Obama have wisdom that you need to learn. And you better include Bill Clinton too.

Imagine a humble man in the White House.  Even though it was long before my time, I picture Harry S Truman to have been humble.  The biographies I read of Harry when I was young portrayed him as a man of power who also was humble. I’m guessing that the 5 living Presidents also had various moments of humility as POTUS too.

But I am afraid that my just-described fantasy, will never occur.

And while I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt regarding Russia, even if you and your team were duped by those more experienced in political and covert operations, there are so many other blunders that are occurring and your reaction is to blame others.

I wish you would shut up publicly.

I wish you would stop lying or having “communication errors”. (They are really lies.)

I don’t wish anything bad or evil on you or your family, but again, I don’t wish it on anyone.

What’s next?

It’s time for you to retire.

Turn over the reigns to your Vice President.

Mike Pence was my state Governor before you picked him as your running mate and he was not my favorite but at the time he had values and principles.  Some of those were controversial and he made some enemies too but he actually had a fan base of support that wasn’t built on hype.

Right now, Mr. Trump you are in a no-win situation.  The Russian investigation has steamrolled the agenda that you promised and you personally have no self control.

Either your time in office will continue as is with perceived chaos every day as the media continues to push out the possible scandals until you become completely ineffective.

Or they do find dirt to go thru the impeachment process and due to the frustration by the American voters, Congress flips to the Democratic Party in the 2018 election and you are run out of town in disgrace.

Or you can say to hell with it.  Leave on your own.  Take the family and return to your choice of homes and try and salvage your Trump empire while attempting to stay out of jail.

Mr. Trump, if you really want to Make American Great Again, walk away and leave now.

The sooner the better so we can start to restore civility.

(I just wrote a follow-up that I encourage you to also read: https://scloho.wordpress.com/2017/07/28/my-fellow-americans-its-time/ )

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.