Category Archives: Congress

Stop Killing Our Kids!

Since the tragic school shooting in Florida, there have been no shortage of theories as to why it took place.  And, as is common in today’s society, there is no shortage of blame.   I have a different theory from most, but it requires some background history.

In the late 80s and early 90s I was very much involved with the military.  For some unknown reason, my fellow officers and I and the NCO’s were continually being contacted about joining the NRA.  For the most part, none of us joined the NRA.  I am not a member today, even though I strongly support the 2nd Amendment.   There was a major controversy taking place at the time about assault weapons in the United States.  All of us in the military were very familiar with the M-16 rifle.  The Vietnam veterans were intimately familiar with the rifle and its characteristics as they utilized the weapon in a combat environment.  The M-16 was adopted by the military in 1964, replacing the heavier M-14.  The rifle utilized a high velocity 5.56 mm cartridge, with a 20 round magazine.  Later, along with other improvements, that capacity was increased to a 30 round magazine.  By taping two  30 round magazines together, 60 rounds were available in a matter of seconds by changing magazines..  With the use of a selector switch, the military version rifle could fired automatic or semi-automatic.

So here we were with the NRA facing off against Congress to determine the future of assault weapons in the United States.  I place part of the blame on the NRA, because they were using the 2nd Amendment (and their political contributions) as a sledge hammer to bludgeon politicians into assuring there would be no restrictions on any weapon.  Let me point out that this is the primary purpose of the NRA; to assure there are no restrictions on any weapon.  In other words….they were doing their job as required by their very extensive paying membership.

But, I also put part of the blame on Congress.  Many of these politicians received significant funds from the NRA in their election and reelection campaigns.  So at a time when common sense could have prevailed, nothing happened.  For instance, there could have been a limit as to the number of rounds for magazine capacity.  I was a hunter, and the largest capacity that any of my hunting rifles or shotguns had was 7.  Where I hunted, if you didn’t hit what you were aiming for in the first three shots, you were pretty much screwed.  Mostly, the third shot was a desperation/frustration shot after having missed with the first two shots.  So could the magazine capacity been limited to 8?  10?  Should assault style weapons have been banned from the beginning before becoming available to the civilian population?

The reason my fellow military compatriots and I did not join the NRA was because we felt that only the police and the military should have that weapon.  Military and police ‘wannabes’ began buying the M-16 and other assault style weapons by the millions, even though they weren’t for hunting and were not very good target weapons.  There have been over 8 million M-16’s produced.  But the real winner of the assault weapon sweepstakes is the Russian AK-47.  Originally designed with a 30 round magazine, later versions allowed for a 40 round magazine and a 75 round drum magazine.  Russia was the initial manufacturer of the weapon, but then China and many of the old Soviet satellite countries began knocking them off.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, the gun markets were flooded with some version of the AK-47.  While attending gun shows in the early 90s, a person could purchase some version of the AK-47 with a case of ammunition for $200!  There are over 100 million AK-47s or it’s knockoffs in the world!

Now we fast forward to today and face the tragedy that there have been over 200 school shootings in the United States.  In order to be classified a ‘mass shooting,’ there must be four or more victims.  In the first two hundred years of this countries existence, there were 7 mass shooting school incidences.  (The first occurred in 1764 in Pennsylvania, when a schoolmaster was shot by marauding Indians, and nine students were bludgeoned to death!)  Since July 4, 1976, this country has experienced 17 mass-murder school shootings!  Twelve of these shootings have taken place since 1999, beginning with the infamous Columbine School shooting in Littleton, Colorado.  If we include school shootings with less than four victims, the number of school shootings would increase to 17 since Columbine.

Why the large increase since 1999?

Well, for one thing, let us look at our entertainment since 1999.  For starters, our television and our movies have become more violent, more sexually explicit, and more vulgar.  During my childhood, what use to take imagination now takes little imagination as everything in so explicit.  We did not see the murder, but would see blood on a wall or shadows on a curtain.   Today, many programs are a compendium as to how many ways a victim can be murdered.  The more gruesome, the better.  What happened to comedies?  What happened to shows showing a normal, stable family environment?  What happened to westerns?   What happened to variety shows?  If you don’t remember these shows, ask your grandparents.  They can give you a list.

Video games.  Have you seen some of these?  They are very similar to our TV and movie entertainment, except worse!  You may think they are a cartoon, but these games are nothing like any cartoons during my childhood.  Killing, sex, and vulgarity are the mainstay of many of these video games. (Can’t the Angry Birds become the Happy Birds?)

Our news reporting does not miss an opportunity to sensationalize a tragic event.  I had to stop watching the news for four days because of the Florida school shooting.  There was not a facet of that event that was not discussed at depth….24/7.  Unfortunately, because of this extensive news coverage, what is a tragic event for the sane becomes a pathway to infamy for the disturbed.  (Gee, if I kill a bunch of people, I can be on television!)  And, because of their extensive, in-depth coverage, they almost provide a road map as to how the crime can be done.

What happened to respect?  We don’t respect the police.  We don’t respect our teachers.  We don’t respect the opinion of others.  We don’t respect the rights of others.  It appears to me that the word ‘compromise’ has been removed from the English language and replaced by the word, ‘confrontation.’  I was continually told while growing up that I should ‘respect my elders.’  Now that I am an elder, that is not working out real well for me.  What’s with that?

So how do we stop school shootings in America?  It has been proposed to arm certain teachers.  An ‘in-school’ reaction squad.  Check.  We can provide in-depth background checks for gun purchasers.  Check.  We can raise the minimum age for purchasing a gun.  Check.  We could ask for military and police retirees to volunteer to assist in providing school security.  Check.  Have our legislators enact legislation against high capacity rifles and pistols.  (Pistols are actually the murderer weapon of choice.)  Check.  Increase gun violation punishments.  Check.  There are a myriad of things that can be proposed or enacted.  Many of which I do not agree.  But here is the one thing and one problem no one has ever approached……..

Our world and our society has changed significantly during my lifetime.  The technological advances have been amazing.  The technological advances have impacted every facet of our society:  how we eat, how we travel, our recreation, information resources, our military hardware, health treatment and services…..the list is endless!

But the one thing that has remained constant during this entire tumultuous period?  Parenting.  Our kids are bombarded and are exposed to sensory overload like no other previous generation.  Who is responsible for the movies and television that children are subjected to and watch?  The parents.  Who controls the usage of video games?  Parents.  Who teaches respect for others?  Parents.  Who has the best idea if a child is emotionally or mentally disturbed?  It would be the parent.

I empathize with anyone who has lost a child to violence.  But the fact remains, a gun or rifle did not load itself, jump out of a box, and then deliberately kill.  It requires the human element to pull the trigger and that is where the weakness of our murder prevention system lies.  Most mass school shootings are done by the young.  Blame others if it makes you feel better, blame the guns if it makes you feel better, but until our young are raised by parents that get into every aspect of their children’s lives, you can expect more of the same.  Stop being a friend and begin being a parent.  Its a much more difficult job, but society will get a better result.

Retirement and Politics…..Bad for Your Health?

Being retired definitely has its advantages.  I can play video games any time I want….and in my pajamas!  I can go days without shaving.  I get ‘old fart’ discounts at restaurants.  I can watch anything I want on television, anytime I want.  Vacations aren’t a problem…we can go whenever and wherever we please.  We just need to make a withdrawal from the grandkids college funds. Voila!  We’re sailing in the Caribbean!

But, alas, there are some disadvantages.  For instance, If Grandma P and I did not have doctors appointments, we would not have a social life.  In that regard, it sucks to get old.  Another disadvantage is that Grandma P knows she can shame me into doing any repair work around the house, any time it needs to be done.  In her eyes, I am a ‘handy man’ available 24/7.  Change that light bulb.  Mow that yard.  Paint those faded lawn ornaments.  You get the drift.

But there is one really, really big disadvantage about being retired.  As I am doing the fun things I want to do, usually in my office, usually with the television on, I get to watch all the political machinations that are taking place in Washington, D.C.  I get to watch the daily press briefings.  I get to watch any congressional fact finding commissions or panels.  And, as a result, I have noticed two things.  Firstly, how stupid most of the reporters are at the press briefings and how stupid most of our elected officials really are.  Secondly, it is obvious that most politicians are not concerned about what is best for our country.  They are far more concerned about pandering to their political base (whatever that is!) and getting reelected.

As I am writing this blog, the government is approaching its third day of shutdown.  A very unnecessary, dangerous shutdown.  As a former business owner, there were times, because of the economic environment, when I had to expand or contract my work force.  It is logical that I would want to hire the best most productive people possible.  It is also logical that in times of contraction, I would release the least productive people.  So, how is it that the people, in this case the Congress of the United States, that are responsible for this shutdown are the only people exempt from the ramifications of the shutdown?  I think their paychecks should be the first casualties of a shutdown!  Just sayin’.

Our country is currently facing many challenges.  The war in Afghanistan.  The federal budget.  North Korea has not gone away.  The wall.   Dreamers.  Illegal immigration.  And now, we have a government shutdown.

My frustration grows…..

A couple of weeks ago, much media attention was given to Donald Trump allegedly referring to Haiti as a ‘shithole.’  Many people attending this meeting said that the POTUS did not say this.  The POTUS stated he did not say it.  The one person who got the press was Senator Dick Durbin (D) from Illinois. (Nothing is sacred or secret in our government if the slightest tinge of political gain can be gotten.)  So this issue became a political hot potato.  It got better.  There was a Senate Judicial Hearing concerning Homeland Security.  You know these Homeland Security people, they are responsible for  everything about public security in the U.S., including TSA, Immigration, border security,  cyber security, the Secret Service, etc.  During this hearing with the Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Neilsen; Senator Cory Booker (D) New Jersey, decided that rather than asking pertinent questions about the public security of our country, he would go into a tirade about how he cried when he heard the purported remarks the POTUS made about Haiti from Dick Durbin.  He passed up his opportunity to better our country to pander to his constituents. After all, Cory Booker has never met a television camera he did not like.  (This is not an uncommon trait among senators!)

I have to admit, when this story first broke about what the POTUS said, I was a little perplexed.  But then I had to fall back on common sense.  I had to consider the source.  In this case, this was the same Dick Durbin that was quoted as saying we need to cease using the term, ‘chain immigration’ because it reminds the black race that their ancestors came to America in chains. Say what?  Are you kidding me?  If that is the case, then there should be marching and burning in protest to the term, ‘ minority whip.’  That is the person from the minority party in the House of Representatives that is tasked with keeping the party members in line with the party platform by supporting the platform with their vote.  In this case, the minority whip would be a Democrat.   I digress.  (Dick Durbin’s analogy is absolutely stupid.)

I wish that the POTUS  would not use the term ‘shithole’ when referring to a third world shithole like Haiti.  It upsets people and creates liberal press fodder, even though it is a spot-on descriptive.  Haiti has had billions of dollars poured into it, without any benefit to the common people.  Where did the money go?   I don’t really care if Trump said it or not, as I know that Haiti is a shithole because it is the only country in the Caribbean that Grandma P and I have not visited in our 20 cruises throughout the area.  If it were anything else, it would be a port of call.  (We have been to the Dominican Republic numerous times at the other end of Hispaniola.  It is beautiful!)  What concerns me is that a US senator turned a serious Senate Judicial hearing into a carnival sideshow.  All of this because another US senator decided to mow political hay with the purported description used by Trump.

Frustration building…..  (1.  Take a deep breath.  2.  Paint some faded lawn ornaments!)

How about the political circus surrounding the government shutdown itself?  95% of the Republicans voted for the funding measure to fund the government, effectively ending the shutdown.  95% of the Democrats voted against the funding measure and initiated a filibuster to halt the vote in the senate.  The Democrats want the funding of our nations military and security apparatuses to go unpaid while they are wanting a full amnesty for the ‘dreamers.’  You know who the ‘dreamers’ are.  They are the children brought into the US by their illegal immigrant parents.  But the Democrats want to take it further.  They want citizenship for the ‘dreamers’ as well as their parents who illegally entered this country.  But, with the assistance of an all-too-willing liberal media, the Democrats are blaming the POTUS and the Republicans for the shutdown.  Hopefully, most people in America are smart enough to see through this.

Speaking of the media, you should have watched the news conference about the president’s health.  The examining doctor was kept on the podium for over an hour because of some of the dumbest questions you would ever want to hear.  How can you say he is physically fit?  How can you say he is mentally acute?  How can you say he is physically fit when he eats cheeseburgers?  (As do 300 million other Americans!)   Apparently these people are of the belief that if you ask the same question four times, the answer may change.  Not likely.  Many press briefings follow this same, repetitive scenario.

(Where is the President’s doctor when I need him!  Blood pressure..up!   Heart rate..rising!  OMG!  I ate a cheeseburger last week!  I’m a goner!)

Did you know that five representatives are not attending the State of the Union Address because they claim that Trump is a racist.  Is that how you want your representative to represent you?   What kind of respect and cooperation can these five people expect in Congress, when they don’t show any respect for others.  These people may be loud, and brash, and get reelected, but they will not get much legislation passed that will benefit your legislative area as other Congressmen will not show respect and cooperation for them.

So I have a challenge for my retired friends.  Please take time to observe a weeks worth of White House press briefings.  Observe the stupidity of the press corps and their questions.  You will be astonished.  For those still working, I am sure you can tape these briefings and watch at night.  They do provide some of the best entertainment on television.

My second challenge is for everyone to make an attempt at observing your federally elected officials at work.  There is no question that some of these people are brilliant and have the best interest of our country at heart.  There is also no question that some of them are egocentric, stupid, and are more concerned about reelection than results.  I have pointed out a couple, but you can make your own judgement.

I get so upset about the maneuvering that is taking place to create shutdowns, belittle the President’s physical condition, belittle the President’s mental condition, and basically ‘stonewalling’ anything that is positive for this country that I have to turn off my television.  Are these the people you want to represent you?  Observe your politicians at work.  You may be surprised  how they represent you.

(Shut off the television.  Heart rate…declining.  Blood pressure…normal.) 

Well, its rainy and dreary outside.  Time for a nap.  Ah. yes.  The advantages of being retired.

We Defeated the Communists, and Then We Became Them!

My oh my!  Recently, there has been no shortage of world-wide events that have distracted our government from taking care of domestic issues.  There was hurricane Harvey, hurricane Irma, and now, once again tearing through the Caribbean, hurricane Maria.  These were catastrophic to the United States, and they totally destroyed some small Caribbean countries.   Last week, there was a ‘bucket bomb’ that exploded in a London subway.  And, much like an infant with a broken rattle, we can always count on Kim Jong-un to fire another missile anytime he thinks he is not getting enough attention on the world stage.

Because of these major events, not much attention has been given to our domestic problems. Obama Care has not been repealed or replaced.  The tax codes have not been revised.  And, have you recently heard any news referring to the federal budget?  This got me to wondering.  How is the federal government currently spending our money?  It is our money, isn’t it?  More importantly, how has the government spent our money in the past?  So, as a matter of personal interest, I have decided to compare our 2016 federal budget to the 50 year earlier, 1966 federal budget.  This was not an accidental choice, as I graduated from high school as a wet-behind-the-ears, know-it-all eighteen year old in 1966.  And, yes, I can still muster up enough memory to remember the era.  Let me set the stage.

1966

1966 was just over 20 years after the completion of WWII.  There were no shortage of veterans from that war.  They were our parents.  We fought an on-going war in Korea.  Because of what was called the ‘domino theory’ we sent military advisors to a country called South Viet Nam.  Eisenhower began this program, Kennedy expanded it, and Lyndon Johnson turned Saigon into the  twenty-third largest American city.  Little did we know in 1966 that Viet Nam would ultimately cost us over 57,000 American lives.

Our WWII ally, Russia, was now our dreaded enemy.  They became the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), which was comprised of Russia and all the countries it decided to keep in its ‘sphere of influence’ after WWII.  The majority joined unwillingly by the use of Russian military force. We had NATO, and the USSR had the Warsaw Pact.  They built the Berlin wall and shot anyone that tried to cross it.  Winston Churchill dubbed this policy of isolation as the ‘Iron Curtain.’

In 1962, we had a little dust-up in the Caribbean called the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The USSR wanted to install nuclear warheads and missiles in Cuba.  US versus USSR.  Kennedy versus Khruschev. Good versus evil.  Eagle versus the bear.  Democracy versus communism.  According to all historical accounts, it was the closest the world has come to a nuclear holocaust.

In 1963, Kennedy was assassinated.  (I was hoping I would find out who was responsible before I died, but time is running out!)

On the domestic front, the ‘baby boomers’ were entering the workforce.  As a high school graduate, there were three life choices available:  go to college, get a job, or get drafted.  That was pretty much it.  The economy was booming because there was a war to fuel it.  Just about anyone that wanted a job had a job.  As eighteen year olds, we could not wait to move away from home and become independent.  We never moved back home.

With these events as a background, how did our government spend our money?  Our GDP in 1966 was $4.12T.  The total government receipts were $689B.  Our total outlays were $708B.  (Yes!  We dealt in billions and not trillions!)  Our deficit that year was $19.5B.  Ah yes, don’t you long for the good old days now?  42% of all revenues came from individual income taxes.  Payroll taxes accounted for 20% and corporate taxes accounted for 23% of revenues.

On the spending side, 43% of all funds were spent on national defense.  But here is the biggie….medicare and general health spending was only 2% of the budget that year.  Spending on social security, unemployment and labor in 1966 was about 23% of all outlays.

In raw numbers, the Dept. of Defense got $298B, Health and Human Services got $30.1B, Social Security Administration got $109B, Treasury got $61.9B and NASA got $31.2B.  The Treasury received their money largely to pay the interest on our $1.74T national debt.  Of course there are other departments, but these are the largest and pertinent to this blog.

2016

Now we fast forward 50 years to 2016, the last year of the Obama budget.  There were only two budgets put forth by the Obama admistration in his eight years as POTUS.  Harry Reed, the senate majority leader, promised not to bring a budget to the senate floor and the ‘gatekeeper from hell’ kept his word.  In 2016, the government took in $2.99T in tax revenues.  (Yes, we got to the trillions!) 49% of these revenues came from individual income taxes.  Payroll taxes accounted for 33% and corporate taxes accounted for 9% of total revenues.  The national debt now exceeds $16.7T!

The sources of revenue did not change substantially in 50 years.  But how the revenues have been spent have significantly changed.  Remember that the defense department accounted for 43% of the 1966 budget?  Well, even with all the shenanigans going on with terrorism and wars, the 2016 budget only spent 15% on the defense department.  Wow!  Where did that money go?  The 2% of monies spent on medicare and general health spending in 1966 now consumes 28% of the spending.  Spending on social security is now 37% of the budget as compared to 22% in the past.   Entitlement programs now consume 65% of our national budget!

The raw numbers are staggering.  The Dept. of Defense now spends $515B.  The Dept. of Health and Human Services goes from $30.1B to a staggering $995B!  The Dept. of Treasury goes from $61.9B to $484B!  Much of this is to pay the interest on our growing, inflated national debt.  Not to be outdone, the Social Security Administration received a nice bump, going from $109B to $866B!  NASA, on the other hand, had its 1966 budget of $31.2B reduced to $17.2B in 2016.

I need to provide a small history lesson at this point.  Do you know what the original responsibities were of the federal government?  Why the federal government was founded?  It was founded for two reasons; national defense and international trade.  End of list.  It is astounding how the federal government got to its present size.  Back to the blog.

There are some logical explainations for these large differences in these federal budgets.  In 1966, the huge ‘baby boomer’ generation entered the work force.  They worked.  They paid taxes.  They paid into the social security fund.  In 2016, guess what?  The ‘baby boomers’ aged.  They retired and they began collecting the social security in which they paid for after about 50+ working years.

In 1966, there wasn’t any government provided health care program.  We never expected a federal health care program.  But now look at what is happening.  Obamacare happened, and it has pretty much been a mess ever since.  Everyone agrees it needs to change, but we can’t get two people in a room of 100 senators to agree on how it should change.  Personally, I think the federal government should get out of the health care business altogether, but the proverbial cat has been let out of the bag.  Unlike the old days of 1966 where we did not believe in such a thing as a free lunch, we have people perfectly capable of working that expect a free lunch.  In 1966 we were raised under the mantra that, ‘you ate what you killed.’  Now our national conscious is that everyone should eat, even if they haven’t done one thing to feed themselves.

As amazing as it is to see the differences in our budgets after 50 years, it appears this is outdone by our expectations as to what the government owes us in entitlements.  Most of these entitlements did not exist 50 years ago, and yet we survived.  This is borne out by a Health and Human Services budget that is over 30 times larger than in 1966.  (Think ‘welfare’)

During the Cold War, we spent trillions of dollars to defeat those socialistic Communists.  Russia has turned from its socialistic/communistic society.  You remember socialism/communism.  That is the economic and political theory that advocates the means of production, distribution and exchange should be regulated by the community (government) as a whole.  Our electorate has seen fit in the last 50 years to elect officials that institute welfare programs that we can’t afford,  with money we don’t have, for people who should not receive them.   We have given up our independence.  Now, with our dependence on our federal government, we have taken the place of the former USSR.   Have we become the New Socialists/Communists?

It gives a whole new context to the motto, ‘Land of the free……..’

Let’s Kill All the Lawyers!

‘Let’s kill all the lawyers’ was a line spoken by Dick the butcher (how appropriate!) in Shakespeare’s play, Henry the Sixth, part 2, act 4, scene 2.  Dick’s Utopian idea to kill all of England’s lawyers is his addition to the promises of the traitorous Jack Cade, who envisions a quasi-communistic social revolution with himself installed as autocrat.  Why would Cade want this revolution?  Cade alleges that all lawyers do is shuffle parchments back and forth in a systematic attempt to ruin the common people.  His demagoguery is simply a calculated appeal to simple folks’ longing to be left alone.  Holy bat crap, Robin, does any of this sound familiar?

I have three close, personal friends who are all lawyers.  Each one is a very great guy and fun to be with.  But you know what my real problem is with lawyers?  Well….here it is….there are just too damn many of them!

This is just not a personal opinion, but an opinion that can be verified with statistics.  Do you know how many people graduate from law school in the United States each year?  Well, that number would be approximately 50,000.  Do you know how many lawyers the United States needs each year?  Well, that number would be about 25,000.  Doing simple division from Mrs. Meyers’ third grade class tells me that 50% of graduating lawyers do not end up in the legal profession.  What other college degree would do this?  Doctors?  Teachers? Nurses? Accountants? Engineers? Without doing the research, I am confident that the vast majority of people with those degrees will find employment in their chosen profession.  Over 70% of all lawyers in the world are in the US even though we account for only %5 of the world population!  That equates to one lawyer for every 300 people in America!

As parents of future college students, you may want to evaluate the profession that your future college bound student is pursuing.  This is especially true if they are thinking of a legal profession. There is more bad news!  These are the words of the managing director of Daimler Benz: “In the US, young lawyers already don’t get jobs.  Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans.  So if you study law, stop immediately.  There will be 90% less lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain.”  He goes on to say many other predictions for the future, but you get the gist of his message.

Here is my second problem with lawyers.  What do they actually do?  Well, some time ago I attended a sales convention that was geared toward construction general contractors.  I forgot who the guest speaker was, but we had many good ones.  Fran Tarkington, Joe Theismann, and Brian Billick (All football players and coaches.) were all speakers.  I digress.  The speaker at this particular convention pointed out that general contractors ‘created wealth.’  By constructing buildings, this allowed companies to expand, thereby causing them to purchase more equipment and material and requiring them to hire more employees.  This stimulates the economy!  Hip-hip-hooray!  What do most lawyers do?  Well, they bring lawsuits and handle divorce proceedings.  Yes, I know this is a simplification, but indulge me by following my reasoning.  Our guest speaker at this convention went on to say that, “attorneys do not create wealth, attorneys redistribute wealth.”  If you have ever been a party in either a lawsuit or a divorce, you will recognize the brilliance of this statement.  They take money from one party, and give it to another.  All of this after a healthy legal fee has been collected.

There is a third reason why I don’t like lawyers.  I think some lawyers are destroying our country…piece by piece.  

Do you think the cost of health care is too high?  Why is that?  Well, one reason is because we have become a litigious society because of all those lawyers.  Some medical specialties can have medical malpractice insurance costs exceeding $200,000 per year per doctor depending on their medical specialty and location.   Some states have placed caps on the size of a medical malpractice claim. George ‘Dubya’ Bush tried to establish medical malpractice limits throughout the US during his first term.  It was defeated by a congress that was full of……. quess what?  Lawyers!  But the lawyers are not done.  How many times have you seen that TV ad that says; “If you have used drug XYZ anytime in the last 250 years and suffer from or experience any of the following 539 symptoms, you may be entitled to a settlement!”  Call the following number: 1-800-WESUE4U.  Who do you think answers that phone number?  The FDA?  Disease Control?  Your local doctor?  NO.  You are calling a law firm and they are bringing suit against a drug company.  The drug companies protect themselves with very expensive product liability insurance which again increases the cost of drugs and health care.

Remember, only 50% of all law school graduates find employment in the legal profession.  Where do the unlucky 50% go?  I know some that are excellent real estate brokers and insurance agents and I am sure that they end up in other interesting fields.  But unfortunately, many of these lawyers end up pursuing a political career, and that is where they can do the most damage.  Do you know where you can find a whole slew of lawyers?  Washington, D.C!  One out of every twelve residents in Washington is a lawyer!  Holy double bat crap, Robin!  Washington accounts for only 1/5 of one percent of the US population, but has one of every 25 lawyers in America!  Luckily for us, there is a decreasing trend in the number of lawyers in congress.  Today that number is slightly less than 40%, compared to 80% in the late 1800’s.

But do you really want to know where you can find the most lawyers, those people that are masters at redistributing wealth?  In the Democratic Party, which in one article is referred to as the ‘Lawyer’s Party.’  Need proof?  Barack and Michelle Obama are both lawyers.  Bill and Hillary Clinton are both lawyers.  John and Elizabeth Edwards are both lawyers.  Every Democrat nominee since 1984 went to law school, although Al Gore did not graduate.  Every vice presidential nominee since 1976, except for Lloyd Bentsen, went to law school.  Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are both lawyers.  The Republican Party is significantly different.  Both Bush presidents and vice president Cheney were businessmen.  Newt Gingich was a history professor.  Tom Delay was an exterminator.  Dick Armey was an economist.   Paul Ryan has degrees in economics and political science.  Former House Minority Leader John  Boehner was a plastic manufacturer.  Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is a heart surgeon.  And of course, our current POTUS is a businessman.  Do you remember the last Republican president that was a lawyer?  Gerald Ford, over 40 years ago.  Oh, the Republicans have let a couple of lawyers sneak into the party, most notably Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The Republican Party is made up of real people doing real work, who are often the targets of lawyers.

Why do I think lawyers are destroying America piece by piece?  In the words by author Bruce Walker: “Lawyers seek to have new laws passed, they seek to win lawsuits, they press appellate courts to overturn precedent and lawyers always parse language to favor their side.  But it is an awful way to govern a great nation.  When politicians as lawyers begin to view some Americans as clients and other Americans as opposing parties, then the role of the legal system in our life becomes all-consuming.  Some Americans become adverse parties of our very government.  We are not all litigants in some vast social class-action suit.  We are citizens of a republic that promises us a great deal of freedom from laws, from courts , and from lawyers.  Today, we are drowning in laws; we are contorted by judicial decisions; we are driven to distraction by omnipresent lawyers in all parts of our once private lives.  America has a place for laws and lawyers, but that place is modest and reasonable, not vast and unchecked.”

He summarizes by saying: ‘Perhaps Americans will understand that change cannot be brought to our nation by those lawyers who already largely dictate American society and business.  Perhaps Americans will see that hope does not come from the mouths of lawyers but from personal dreams nourished by hard work.  Perhaps Americans will embrace the truth that more lawyers with more power will only make our problems worse.”

I could not have said it better, so I did not try.

Some of my liberal readers may take exception with my statement calling the Democratic Party the ‘Lawyers Party.’  It should be easier for you to understand when you know that 97% of the political contributions from the American Trial Lawyers Association go to the Democrat Party.  Then you realize who is responsible for our medical and product costs being so high.

So in the broadest sense of the word, “I really hate most lawyers!’  (Except Duane, Don and Jim.)

It’s a Shake and Bake Society, Baby!

During my lifetime, I have experienced, and seen, technological revolutions that can only be described as miraculous.  These technological advancements have made life easier and faster.

Let me provide a few examples of some great technological advancements, both big and small.

Do you know when the first TV dinner was created?  Do you remember who created it and what that dinner contained?  The first TV dinner was created in 1953 by the Swanson Company, thus the Swanson TV dinner which is still available today.  That first dinner was designed for a Thanksgiving meal.  It contained turkey, cornbread dressing, frozen peas and sweet potatoes.  It was packaged in the aluminum tray that was used by airline companies to serve food on their airplanes.   The cooking directions called for 25 minutes in the oven at 425 degrees.  That first meal cost 98 cents, and they sold a whopping 5000 dinners that first year!

What an advancement!  Up until that time, in our house, either Mom or Grandma had to make everything from scratch.  Because we lived on a Midwestern farm, we had animals and a huge garden.  Our Thanksgiving turkey took 7-8 hours to cook.  Oftentimes the bird was stuffed the night before Thanksgiving, placed in the refrigerator, and then someone had to get out of bed by 5:00 AM to place it in the oven in time for dinner.  All rolls and bread were baked from scratch as were the pies. Grandma’s pies were to die for!  All the crusts were made from scratch as was the filling.  No pumpkin pie filling, cherry filling or blueberry filling came from a can.  The pumpkin pie filling came from pumpkins grown in our garden.  The cherries were purchased and pitted.  The blueberries were picked in the summer and frozen until used.  I know all about blueberry picking as my grandmother made me go with her.  For the uninitiated, blueberries grow in low-lying areas and ripen about the same time as the bumper mosquito crop matures.  We had to wear nets over our heads and wear long sleeve shirts even in the summer, so as not to get bitten hundreds of times.  Unfortunately, because of the small size of the blueberries, we could not wear gloves.  Our hands became the ultimate mosquito target and we would spend almost 2 hours picking and swatting, picking and swatting to get enough berries for 3-4 pies.  It was not uncommon for a Thanksgiving feast to take three days of preparation.  Whew! What a difference from 25 minutes at 425 degrees!  (Honestly, our meals were bigger and much better.)

But the food industry was not done.  In 1969, the first TV breakfast meal was made available.  That was followed in 1973 by the Hungry Man Meal.  Do you remember who the first spokesman was for the Hungry Man Meal?  It was Pittsburgh Steeler footballer, Mean Joe Green.

But wait….there’s more!  In 1986, the first microwavable TV dinner was made available because 25% of the American homes had microwave ovens.  Microwave ovens were the next great technological leap for food preparation.  My parents bought me a microwave oven as a Christmas gift in the early 1980s.  It cost almost $500, and it took two men and a boy to lift it from the trunk of a car to my counter top.  After its usefulness as a microwave, it could have been easily converted to a boat anchor!   A BIG boat anchor!

Do you know how many years it was between the first airplane flight and landing the first person on the moon?  The first flight by the Wright brothers was in 1903.  The moon landing?  1969.  Sixty six years between airplane invention and an almost unbelievable space travel accomplishment!

During my lifetime, communication in our house went from having no phone to having a party line phone.  Yes, you could actually pick up the phone and hear your neighbors conversation.  And yes, they could hear your conversations.  Next came the invention of mobile phones.  Those first mobile phones were the size of a brick and weighed about the same as a brick.  Then we went to light-weight small pocket sized phones and now you can have a phone on your wrist!  A wrist phone just like the one Dick Tracy used in the 1930s comic books!  (Okay.  Dick Tracy had a wrist radio.)

When I was in high school and college, we were never allowed to use calculators.  That is because the first pocket calculators cost $250, and not everyone could afford them.  Remember….the minimum wage was $1.00 an hour!  While in high school, we could use slide rules.  Right now, no one under the age of 50 has the slightest idea of what I am talking about.  A slide rule was one step up from an ancient abacus, but multiplication and division could be done on a slide rule.  To show the real advancement of technology, my first pocket calculator cost $250.  When it finally broke, the exact replacement cost $59.99.  When that pocket calculator broke, the exact replacement cost $19.95.

The first computer that I bought in 1991 was a butt-kicking 40 megabytes!  I say it was a butt-kicking computer because all my competitors had 25 megabyte computers.  I was king of the hill.  That computer, monitor and daisy-wheel printer cost me $2200.  I now write this blog on an 8 gigabyte computer that cost me $600 six years ago.  The monitor and printer were extra.  My printer not only prints, but it is capable of scanning, copying, and faxing….if I knew how to set it all up.  The printer cost me less than $150.  In the late 1980s, my old boss bought a fax machine for $2500.  He was bragging about what a great deal he got because he got a free case of fax paper with the machine. Do they even sell fax only machines today?

These are just some of the marvelous technological improvements I have observed during my lifetime.  Just think of all the improvements in the medical field.  Look at the new devices that are a standard feature on an automobile that were unheard of during the 1950s.  GPS?  Back-up cameras?  Alarms?  Many of the new advancements have been for safety, but many of our advancements are popular because they either save time, eliminate work, or provide instantaneous information or instantaneous gratification.  (Who researches using encyclopedias when google and Wikipedia are available.)

But the one thing I have noticed over my lifetime is that people and society have become less patient and tolerant.  People today want instantaneous results.  They want things to happen fast.  They want things to happen faster than getting their food in a short line at a ‘fast food’ restaurant. (What a great belt-busting invention fast food has become!)  I am convinced that some people believe that Rome was built in a day.  The mantra seems to have become, ‘I want it and I want it now.’

Unfortunately, the attitude and mantra of ‘wanting it and wanting it now’ has permeated our expectations as to how our federal government should operate.  I am glad that the ‘First 100 days of the Trump presidency’ have finally passed.  How many times did you hear this:  “Donald Trump’s presidency will be considered a failure if he doesn’t (fill in the blank) within his first 100 days.”   Here were the most popular ‘fill in the blank’ items:  1.  Replace the Affordable Care Act,  2, Have a budget,  3.  Build the wall, and, 4. Provide a tax reform system.  I heard each one of these items, attached to a 100 day timeline, being touted as signifying a failed presidency if not accomplished.  Of course, these notions were mostly advanced by liberal politicians on liberal-leaning media sources. There were more ‘fill in the blank’ items, but these were the biggies.

So here is my advice…..”GET A GRIP AMERICA!”  Rome was not built in a day.  Do you really believe that these major issues, some of them decades old, could be reasonably alleviated in 100 days?  I am glad that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act was defeated early in the Trump presidency. Why?  Because, unlike the original ACA passage that was shoved down the throats of all Americans by the Democratic party without Republican input, this repeal will have the input of both parties.  I would much rather have a ‘good’ bill than a ‘fast’ bill.  But if you want to believe the media hogwash, we wanted a fast bill.

It amazes me that any Democrat would have the cajoles to fault this administration for not having a budget (it was passed recently) when Harry Reid, the Senate Majority leader for 6 years, promised to not have a budget reach the Senate floor as long as he was Senate Majority leader.  The ‘gatekeeper from hell’ kept his word.  Our government ran for 6 years without passing a budget.  (The next time you see a street corner hot dog stand, remember, he probably has a budget!  Our federal government did not.)

I am sure that with a little time, there will be tax reform for both corporations and individuals.  No one seems as concerned about building the big, beautiful wall now that illegal aliens attempting to enter this country has been reduced by over 70%.

But here is where the rubber meets the road; our society seems to have a disconnect between reality and expectation.  Because of our faster than lightning technological advancements and our fast paced society, we begin to believe that all things should be fast.  That may be true in some instances, but certainly not all.  When it comes to governing, I would much prefer ‘slower and better’ than ‘faster and crappy.’

After all, it took my grandmother over 3 hours to make one of her delicious pies from scratch.  She enjoyed making them and we really enjoyed eating them.  Sara Lee would have been easier, but my grandmother would not let us have any of that.  You were the perfect example of ‘slower and better.’   I love you grandma!  You always took care of us.

Happy Mother’s Day.