Category Archives: Growing Up in America 65 Years Ago

Xmas

How We Celebrated Christmas in the 1950’s

Earlier this week, President-Elect Donald Trump finished a victory tour speech in Wisconsin.  At the end of his speech, he said, “Merry Christmas.  God Bless America.”

It did not hit me at the time, but then I began thinking, ‘when was the last time we heard that from an elected official?  From a president?’  I know we haven’t heard it in the last 8 years and I finally quit straining my brain to remember if we heard it from George ‘Dubya’ Bush.

Then I began reminiscing about Christmas when I was growing up in the 50s.  About our small town.  About our family.

I grew up in a small Midwestern farming town with a population of less than a thousand.  Within a 10 mile radius, there were probably another thousand people.  (Our town was so small, we had to take turns being the town drunk!)   As I was growing up, that time after Thanksgiving always, always got you greeted with a hardy “MERRY CHRISTMAS!”  Before Thanksgiving it was always, “Happy Thanksgiving!”  After Christmas it was, “Happy New Year!”  I really don’t believe I heard anyone greeted with “Happy Holidays” until I left to attend college in the big city.

Our little town tried to keep it simple with the standard, stock greeting of Merry Christmas.  We had three churches in our town; a Methodist, a Lutheran, and a Catholic church.  They all did special programs and services for their parishioners.  But the best program was put on by the high school music department.  It involved both the choir and the band playing the traditional Christmas songs. When I was in high school, I was a participant in this program.  Everyone in the audience knew the words to every traditional number that was presented.  Our town kept it simple.  No modern, hippy-crap music for us, by God!

Santa made his annual appearance…at the local movie theater.  Every child got a bag of candy and a chance to sit on Santa’s lap.  For a small town, it was a very big deal!

The merchants went out of their way to make Christmas special.  We had two big events a year in our town, the first was a Midsummer celebration that is still held on the third weekend of June.  And, coincidentally, Christmas is always around the third week in December, exactly 6 months apart. The local newspaper would have a Santa with reindeer picture, which was the foundation of a coloring contest.  Every kid would color the picture, submit it to the paper, and then wait to see if they were one of the top three finishers in their age group. I believe the age groups were 5 to 12 years old.  Even if you were not the winner in your age group, it was a big deal to see your name in print.  (The big prize was seeing your name in print.  There were no participation trophies!)  The winners got prizes.  Some of these prizes were cash!  The winner would get two whole dollars! Today, two dollars would not get you two candy bars; but in the 50s, that would get you four trips to the movie theater with soda and popcorn!

Each merchant would place ads in the newspaper with entry forms for a drawing that they were having in their store.  There were about a dozen entry forms taking up a whole page in the paper. Our paper was a weekly, so these entry forms appeared three times before Christmas.  Everyone, including my family, would meticulously fill out each entry form and deliver it to the sponsoring merchant.  For a small community, these drawings generated a lot of ‘buzz,’ and a whole bunch of local sales for the merchants.

Our town had about a dozen pair of street lights through the commercial area.  These lights were the old mercury-vapor lights which always had a slight orange tinge to the otherwise bright light.  At Christmas, the local electric company would string cable across the street from one street light to its corresponding partner across the street.  They would then run green garland and lights up each lamp pole to the top.  Then, they ran green garland across the street draped from the cable.  This garland was not lit.  The crowning touch was the face of a big illuminated jolly Santa right in the middle of the street.  The same decorations were on a dozen pair of poles, about 50 feet apart.  One night, I drove into town.  The streets were empty.   There was  light fluffy snow falling to the ground on a windless night. The street lights were casting their ‘orangish’ hue on the falling snow.  Between that, and the lit posts, the lit Santa faces and the store front decorations….it was magical.  Not bad for a town so small that the city limit signs could have been located on the same post.

Here is a big change between today and the 50s; Christmas did not begin until after Thanksgiving! Even in the big city, no Christmas merchandise or decorations were displayed until the day after Thanksgiving.  Our small town followed that unofficial rule diligently.  Now, I am seeing Christmas decorations and merchandise in October.  There is nothing quite as sobering as hearing Christmas carols on Musak on October 1.  I know this has been done for commercial reasons, but don’t you think it detracts from the holiday and the purpose of the holiday itself?  Its the same principle as the last election campaign season. Too long.  Its over.  Good riddance.

Christmas was very special for our family.  The biggest focus was on our Christmas tree, and we had some really beautiful trees.  By trade, my dad, Big Daddy G, was an automobile body work repairman.   Dents, dings and crashes were his specialty.  Big Daddy G was a Picasso when it came to painting cars.  He carried this talent to our Christmas.  He would flock our fresh cut trees in his paint spray booth.  When he flocked a tree, it looked like snow had fallen on it.  He got creative for many years, but I remember one year and one tree in particular.  He bought a Norway pine tree with the long needles, took it to the shop, and flocked the whole tree in a very light blue color.  It was gorgeous!  Then, it was decorated with red and green ‘bubbler’ lights.  Bubbler lights were about three inches long and the thickness of a pencil.  Once plugged in, they would heat up and create bubbles that gently ran from the bottom to the top in some kind of liquid.  With the addition of silver tinsel, the customary glass bulbs and the crowning expensive glass ornament……….this tree was spectacular!  I would pay $200 to have a color photo of that tree today. Unfortunately, all photos were black and white and I have not seen any bubbler lights for over 50 years.  Maybe they were radioactive or cancer producing, but they sure were pretty.  When the tree came down, the ornaments, especially the crowning ornament, were all carefully packed and stored as they were not only expensive, but were all very fragile glass.

Of course our family had Christmas gifts.  And I, being a hellion in training, would search out the aforementioned gifts, find them, open them, play with them, and then wrap them up again.  All of this without anyone being any the wiser.  I was really good at expressing surprise while opening the gifts at the family gathering.  I started all this larceny at the ripe old age of 6 years old, and continued until my teens.

The two worst ‘Christmas snoops’ in the family were by mother and my grandmother.  In retrospect, they were both worse than the kids when it came to wanting to open the presents early.  The anticipation of what they got almost became an obsession.  They would both pick up a package, look at it to see if they could see through the wrapping paper for a clue to the contents, and then shake the package to see if there would be a ‘tell-tale’ sound.  This procedure was begun about two weeks before Christmas, but generally about a week after I had already played with and re-wrapped my gifts.  One year, Big Daddy G bought my mom a very expensive coat.  It was what she needed and what she wanted.  Before wrapping the gift, Big Daddy G placed a small bell into the box.  It drove my mother crazy!  She picked up that package and gently shook it at least 50 times before Christmas trying to figure out what it was.   It was hilarious and provided the rest of the family with much entertainment.  Not to be outdone, the following year my uncle and I decided that grandma needed a lesson, too. I had gotten Lincoln logs for Christmas a previous year.  The Lincoln log container was a round cardboard cylinder with a metal screw top.  So we took this container, filled it with broken glass, wrapped it,  put a tag on it saying it was from Santa for Grandma, marked it ‘extremely fragile’, and put it under the tree.  We knew the ‘extremely fragile’ marking was not going to stop Grandma from shaking that present, and we were right!  Both of us perpetrators were in the room when she picked it up and shook it for the first time!  The sound of the broken glass and the corresponding look on her face was priceless!  It was funny as hell and my uncle and I had to leave the house.  We were both suffering from a very strong fit of laughter to the point of producing tears in our eyes.

Our family was small.  We all got together, aunts. uncles, cousins, grandparents on Christmas eve for food, eggnog and other liquid libations.  Christmas day was for each individual family.  Even though our family and our town enjoyed the ‘Santa’ tradition of Christmas, it was never forgotten that the purpose of the holiday was the name of, and the birth of Christ.

I miss those days.  My small town is no longer small.  We don’t have the flocked trees with bubbler lights and fragile ornaments anymore.  Two dollars doesn’t get you into four movies.  The older relatives are gone.  My, how things have changed.

But there is one thing that I can do that immediately puts a smile on my face and reminds me of  the Christmases of my youth……………

“MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!”   “MAY GOD BLESS YOU, YOUR FAMILY, AND AMERICA!”

Grandpa T

 

 

voter-id

Is Donald Trump Right About Election Fraud?

Donald Trump has been pounding on the podium recently contending that there is ‘election fraud’ during this upcoming election.  Is he right?

I believe that there could be election fraud, but not for the same reasons as Trump.  Are you familiar with the Voter ID Laws?  A voter ID law is a law that requires some form of official identification in order for a person to register to vote, receive a ballot for an election, or to vote.

In the United States, voter ID laws have been passed in thirty-three states.  At the federal level, the 2002 Help America Vote Act requires a voter ID for all new voters in federal elections who registered by mail and who did not provide a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number that was matched against government records.

Voter ID laws first generated controversy in 1999 when Virginia attempted to implement an ID requirement in a pilot program.  Proponents argue that the laws are a common-sense effort to reduce voter fraud and place little burden on voters.  Opponents argue that voter fraud is extremely rare and has been magnified as an issue to create barriers to voter registration and voting that discriminates against minority groups and others who are statistically less likely to possess photo IDs.

So here are the ways that the states have dealt with voter ID requirements.  Seven states require strict photo ID in order to vote.  Three states have a strict non-photo ID requirement.  Nine states have a non-strict photo ID requirement, which includes my state.  I find this interesting as my home state would not issue us a ballot without a picture ID, so I am confused as to what non-strict photo ID requirement actually means.  It’s not the first time I have been confused.  I digress. Thirteen states have a non-strict non-photo ID requirement.  Appallingly, there are eighteen states and the District of Columbia that do not require any ID to vote at the ballot box.

By now, you realize that the voter ID requirements are certainly diverse and nondescript. If I could provide simple definitions for those five levels of voting requirements, I would.  But here is where I become concerned.  I view my vote as being precious as it is a part of the great democratic process by which we elect our political representatives.  Nowhere in any of these laws does it require proof of citizenship.  There are many states that will issue photo IDs without requiring proof of citizenship.  Thus, with the photo ID, an illegal alien is now voting in our elections.  With the number of illegal aliens now in the United States, there is little doubt that they will influence this election.

I have needed a photo ID to board a plane, to board a cruise ship, to renew my car insurance, to use a credit card, to write a check, to buy Sudafed, to see a doctor, to check in to a clinic or hospital and to vote.; to name a few.     How is this discriminatory as people of all races and backgrounds do at least two or three of what I have listed.  Provide a birth certificate and get a photo ID.  How difficult is that?  Yet, I have seen people vote by presenting an electric bill with an address that is located in the polling place precinct.  No ID was required as to whether the voter was the name on the electric bill.  How many times could that electric bill be used to vote?  How many times can dead people continue to vote?  No, I am not making this up.

Minnesota has had two election recounts in recent years.  In both instances, the Republican candidates where leading by small margins.  After the recount, both candidates lost.  In both cases, uncounted ballots were suddenly located in the heart of the liberal metropolitan area.  Surprisingly, just enough Democrat votes were found.  Voter fraud?  Ballot box stuffing?

Also in Minnesota, a young reporter went into a courthouse in a Minneapolis suburb with a hidden mini-camera.  He went into the courthouse with the following story, “I work in a nursing home, and I am concerned that some of our patients will have difficulty getting to the polling places.”  The result? The clerk handed him 25 absentee ballots without question, without proof.  What happened next? He was able to do it again with the same results at another courthouse!  Voter fraud?   That little item appeared on 60 Minutes.

It astounds me that we now have chips on our credit cards to avoid theft, but far less care is taken to protect the sanctity of our elections. If this is what Trump is referring to when he speaks of election fraud, then I certainly can concur.

Or, is Trump referring to the biased media reporting?  During the last debate, he came under fire for what he said about women in a tape from 2005.  His type of talk was referred to as ‘locker room talk.’ I have referred to it as ‘gutter talk.’  (By the way, this kind of talk would eliminate 90% of the men I have known in my life from being president, as well as an equal amount of women!)   Either way, the screaming liberals came out of the woodwork to express their disdain for such talk.  Republican politicians began jumping ship from his support. Donald scored some points during the debate by saying that talking about women was one thing, but abusing them in action was another.  Of course, this was a not so veiled reference to Bill Clinton. That pretty much rocked Hillary for the rest of the debate.   An then….and then….just as Grandma P predicted  (which I found very uncanny and somewhat frightening) women could not come forth fast enough to tell their stories of how Donald Trump groped them and made sexual advances upon them.  This was no doubt to bring Donald down to the level of Bill (he would have to practice to match Bill!) and to detract from those damn pesky deleted emails that Wikileaks keeps publishing.  As I am writing this, more of these accusation stories have proven to be fictitious.

Those deleted emails are getting more interesting by the day.  They have indicated that there is collusion between the Clinton campaign and the media.  There is plenty of evidence of what was done to erase those damaging emails.  There are references about influence peddling as Secretary of State coupled with  contributions to the Clinton Foundation.  There is now evidence that they attempted to pressure the FBI to declassify some of the emails, so the campaign can say that no classified emails were sent on a non-secure computer.  It appears Hillary received the questions concerning the debates before the debates.  Bill Clinton received a million dollar birthday gift from the country of Qatar, while at the same time, the State Department was indicating that Qatar was sponsoring terrorism!   I am waiting for the shoe to drop on Benghazi and the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation being the personal piggy bank of the Clinton family and no doubt funding a huge portion of her election campaign with foreign contributors.  Of course, this is illegal, but that has not stopped the Clinton money machine yet.

But with all of this information about the missing emails….with all the serious illegal, immoral and indecent items that are being released in these emails….the mainstream media has devoted seven times more TV air time to Trump’s female accusers than they have on the deleted emails.  In fact, some of the major TV networks are not reporting about the released emails at all!

The timing of these women accusing Trump could not be more suspicious.  If they were so concerned about how he treated women, why did they not come forth during the primaries.  Certainly these maidens of virtue would have been Ted Cruz supporters and would have wanted to do the proper Christian thing.  But noooooooo, after winning some points against Bill during the last debate, that is the response that Trump received.  I am not saying Trump is an angel, but the timing and the number of these accusations appears to be coordinated.

It is obvious to me that these ranting self-righteous Liberals are not students of history.  The Democratic party has had more than their fair share of presidential and political bad boys   When Franklin D. Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia; he was not with Eleanor, his wife.  He was with his mistress of decades, Lucy Mercer.  We all know that JFK was a presidential bad boy.  So were his brothers Teddy and Bobby.  Then we go to LBJ.  Another presidential bad boy who had mistresses in the White House.  Then there is Bill Clinton.  “I did not have relations with that woman.” Well, he did have relations with that woman and lied numerous times about it.  “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones!”

If Jesus Christ would appear on earth and run for president as a Republican, I am convinced the liberal, biased media would tear him apart.

This is the sleaziest election of my lifetime.  The personal attacks have no boundaries or limitations. I fear it will only sink further before election day.   It is very disheartening to see the media, our watch dogs of society and of truth, fall lockstep into this biased reporting and smear campaign.  Forget the issues, don’t report the relevance of those missing emails….smear, smear, smear!

Does Donald Trump have justification for saying the election campaign is rigged?  If you take into consideration the biased media, fictitious accusations, voters voting without an ID, voters voting who may not be US citizens, well, how could you disagree.

God Help America.  God Bless America.

respect

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find out what it means to me!

Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul.  In 1967, her big hit was a song titled, ‘Respect.’  It was a fantastic song, as were most of her songs.  My favorite Aretha song was, ‘You Better Think.’  Even though it was released in 1968, it really hit popularity when she sang it in the 1980 movie, ‘Blues Brothers.’  The movie and the song are some of my all-time favorites.

Even though ‘You Better Think’ would be an excellent subject for this blog, today it happens to be about RESPECT.  Not just the song, but the character trait.  Do you have respect for anything in today’s world?

When I was young, I was always told to respect my elders.  If an elderly person entered a room, I was taught to get off my duff and offer my chair.  Recently, Grandma P and I were visiting some of our grandkids.  I was making a move toward the chair with the best view of the TV, when my grandson, Spike, decided it would be hilarious to run around me and plop his butt into this chair before Grandpa T could nestle his posterior comfortably in the aforementioned chair.  Coercion and threats did not work to move Spike.  Finally, it became physical.  Spike and I would arm wrestle for the chair!  I cheated and won!  I had to cheat as Spike is one pretty tough nut for a 6 year old.  Anyway, we decided to compromise.  We both sat in the big comfy chair and watched TV together.  I made sure (as the elder!) that I got the biggest portion and most comfortable spot.  He just wanted to jerk the chain of his Grandpa and spend time with me, and I respect him for that.  Now whether he respects me is a whole different ball game.  Time will tell as we have plenty of time to mold his little body into something respectful.

Do you respect authority?  I would like to limit this portion specifically to teachers and law enforcement.  Do you know how many officers have died in the line of duty so far this year?  The answer is 99 officers.  In 2015, the number of officers killed in the line of duty was 130.  Of the 99 officers that have died this year, 44 of them were killed by gunfire.  Does that show respect for law enforcement?  Growing up in a small town as I did, I knew all the local policemen, most of the deputy sheriffs, and practically all of the local highway patrolmen.  They were all great people with wives and kids just like everyone else, just attempting to do their jobs in the best possible manner.  They were all respected as law enforcement and they were all respected for being contributors to our community.

As I was growing up, we were to respect our teachers…..or else!  Three of my six elementary school teachers had husbands that worked with my dad, Big Daddy G.  Big Daddy G did not have to attend any parent-teacher conferences, because the drums of misbehavior beat often and loudly in our small town.  Between Big Daddy G knowing all the policemen, and working with the husbands of my teachers….I could not get away with diddly squat!!  If I went to a drive-in movie 12 miles from our hometown (there were two in opposite directions) on a Friday night, by Saturday noon he knew where I had been, who I was with and what movie was playing.  I digress.  I could not be a teacher today and I admire those that are.  Some of the school districts across the nation are not only turning out substandard students unwilling to learn, but the teachers are at risk of bodily injury.  Every day, an average of four teachers are accosted in the Baltimore school system.  From all indications, this is not uncommon.  If I would have ever been brain dead enough to attack a teacher, I would have had to call the police to protect myself from what Big Daddy G was going to do.  The teachers were right, no questions asked.  The student was wrong.

How about that media!  You know who they are.  Their job is to ‘report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.’  As I am writing this, the latest Gallup poll indicates that only 32% of the population either has a ‘great deal or fair amount of trust’ of the media.  That’s less than 1/3 of the population!  It is also the lowest rating ever given to media in terms of trust since Gallup began polling this question in 1972! The level of trust has dropped 8% from last year.  I am using trust and respect somewhat interchangeably as the New York Times and the Washington Post have slumped to levels only achieved by the National Enquirer and The Star publications.

I witnessed a perfect example of misrepresentation recently.  Donald Trump was making a speech in Ocala, Florida.  Early in the speech, the TV networks were flashing one of those banners at the bottom of the screen while the speech was still going on, saying that Donald Trump said, “If you are not registered, get the hell out of here.”   What he really said was, “If you are not registered, get the hell out of  here and register!”  If you did not see the beginning of the speech, you would have been resigned to reading the banner that was flashed numerous times during his speech telling perspective speech listeners to get out if they were not registered.  How can you respect a media that omits pertinent information, adds fictitious information or generally massages a story to express their political beliefs for personal gain?  You can’t, as the Gallup numbers indicate.  The media is suppose to be the ‘society truth filter,’ and sadly they are anything but that.

For all twelve years of elementary and secondary school, we all began the day by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.  Whenever we heard the national anthem, we sang it with gusto and reverence.  In our town, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and the American Legion were large and very much respected organizations.  We had three generations of my family that all belonged to the American Legion.  My grandfather and uncle were members of the VFW.  Grandpa had fought in WWI.  Never, ever, would we have ever thought of disrespecting these veterans by disrespecting the flag under which they all fought and served.  When I see these people that do not stand for the national anthem and pay homage for the privileged life they lead in this country, because of the sacrifices of others….it makes me sick….and angry.  I have often thought that this country should institute a policy of mandatory military service for males, just like the countries of Israel (includes women), Switzerland, most of the Scandinavian countries…22 countries in all.  Why?  An opportunity to gain maturity, responsibility and direction in making future life decisions.  A dose of discipline does not hurt anyone.  But more importantly, it is difficult to disrespect your flag and your country if you saluted the flag every day, and fought for your country.  In other words, unlike a certain spoiled NFL quarterback, a veteran has ‘more skin in the game.’  While the NFL QB is sitting on his ass and collecting millions, there are military people fighting and sacrificing to keep his freedoms secure for 2% of what he makes in a year.  But, why has the media dubbed him a hero?  What kind of demented media would ever impart one word of praise on anyone that is a selfish, self-serving dickwad.  And now…college teams and high school teams are following this idiot’s example because they feel they are victims of an oppressive society, too.

Do you like the direction our government is going?  According to the 2015 Pew Research report, only 19% of the respondents feel the government is doing a good job, ‘just about always (3%) or ‘most of the time (16%).  This is a far cry from say, 50 years ago when in 1965, about 65% of the people thought the government was doing a good job.  Do you know the last administration that achieved over a 50% approval rating?  That would be between 2000 and 2003 during the George W. Bush years.  My, how things have changed.  This country faces some real problems and some real enemies, and we are focused on political correctness and what bathrooms everyone can use – depending if you feel like a man or woman on any particular day.  How can you respect a government that appears to be lost for direction and unable to establish priorities.  How can you respect a government full of people more focused on getting reelected than of doing what is right for America?  This includes accepting money from special interest groups whose interests are nowhere near to what would be best for the country.  I have said it in previous blogs,  Grandpa T’s Rule #2, “A politician in power is most concerned about getting reelected, rather than in doing what is right for the country.”

So there you have it, readers.  Why are so many organizations losing respect?  The media and the government are less trusted and respected than a crooked used car salesman.  Our teachers and law enforcement personnel are attempting to function in areas that approach combat zones.  We have millionaire athletes disrespecting our flag and national anthem because they feel America is an oppressive country.  These are our children’s role models.

After all is said and done, I do know this; respect is earned, not granted.  If you have lost respect, then you are failing in your job, such as the government and the media.  I am determined to earn my respect, even if it means arm wrestling Spike one more time for the comfy TV chair.

baby-boomer-parenting

How the Heck Did We Get Here: Blame it on the Baby Boomers??

I am sitting in my office scratching my head about the upcoming election.  How did we get to this place where neither candidate is trusted or believed, and a large number of citizens are considering a third party candidate just to avoid voting for the two primary party candidates.  Our country has become a country of entitlements, political correctness, and media manipulation.  I certainly don’t have all of the answers, but I think my generation contributed to this mess.

I am a baby boomer.  Most of the time, I am proud of being a ‘seasoned senior citizen.’  We baby boomers were born between the years of 1946 and 1964.  That would make the oldest of us 70 years old, and the youngest would be 52 years old.  In some respects, the younger generations would consider us ‘overly seasoned’ or perhaps, ‘fossilized.’

Our generation was the first that had a name.  We were those people born immediately after WWII. Take a bunch of war veterans and mix them with a bunch of women that haven’t had a real date in years, and BOOM, the world experienced an explosion of births.  Our parents were a tough bunch. They all lived through the Great Depression.  Then, as teenagers and 20 somethings, they fought and won WWII.   Tom Brokaw later referred to them as the ‘Greatest Generation.’  They knew of, and sometimes experienced the atrocities of WWII.  Immediately after WWII, we were back in Asia fighting a war in Korea.  It became apparent that not all countries wanted world-wide peace.  At the same time, numerous countries were conducting nuclear bomb tests.  That warm relationship between the US and Russia during WWII was not all that warm.  The possibility of a nuclear war hung over us for most of our childhood years.

This made our parents a rather tough bunch.  We were taught the difference between winning and losing.  We did not receive any ‘participation’ trophies.  We were instructed in ‘bomb drills,’ in the event of a nuclear attack.  Our teachers were always right and were always respected.  Any deviation from good behavior resulted in punishment.  In my case, I got spankings by my mom and five ‘beltings’ by big Daddy G.  I deserved every one of them.  This was not considered child abuse, it was considered parenting.  There was no pretense that our parents were going to be your ‘best friends.’  They were going to be disciplinarians, and they filled that role marvelously.  (My dad was not my friend until I was in my 30s.)  We were taught to be independent and to work hard.  Being blue collar was not a stigma.  It was instilled in us that if we wanted something bad enough, we could obtain it through hard work and diligence.  Anything was possible!

Every school day was started with the Pledge of Allegiance.  We sang our national anthem with fervor. Then, as we got older, we were called upon to represent our country in another war….the Viet Nam conflict.  Many volunteered or were drafted and performed their duty to fight in a war without a genuine purpose.  To this day, the best explanation for fighting this war was the ‘domino theory.’  That theory was the belief that if one country fell to Communism, then others will fall to Communism.  But Lyndon Johnson took this to the extreme by committing over 500K troops to Viet Nam.  He made Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) the 23rd largest American populated city in the world.  Over 57,000 Americans were killed in this war, with hundreds of thousands more suffering psychologically from what they had experienced and from the way they were treated once they returned home.  Americans believing they had served their country were now being spit upon and called ‘baby killers.’  Many lives were lost, and many more minds were destroyed because of this war.

So there you have it.  A very brief description of what formed and what affected the lives of the baby boomer generation.  What was my purpose for relating this information?  Well, because of the way we were reared, we, as a generation, decided not to be as strict and structured as our parents on our children and our grandchildren.  We became adherents of the ‘live and let live’ theory.  We became more concerned about ourselves and our families to the point of missing the gradual changes to our society.  And now, as I look back at the way our country has evolved since my childhood, I want to publicly apologize to Generation X, Generation Y (Millennials), and Generation Z as to how the Baby Boomers have failed you.

We Boomers need to apologize for the level of entertainment on our televisions and our movies. In our youth, all movies and TV programs were appropriate for all ages.  We did not need a rating system designating P, PG, R or anything else.  I am not a wilting flower, but it is difficult for me to believe the amount of profanity, sexual innuendo, sex, violence and gore that has permeated our entertainment.  Parents of today need to realize that your children are seeing this garbage and they are being affected by it.  How could they not see it?  It is on at prime time on numerous channels. Instead of having three good TV channels like when I was young, we now have hundreds of bad channels.  Look at how few good comedies we have today.  We had many while growing up.  Reality shows and cop shows seem to be the general format of TV today.   Garbage entertainment really began in the late 60s and early 70s.  TV was still somewhat regulated, but the movie industry had taken a definite turn for the worse.

Our Boomer generation invented the computer.  This led to the popularity of PC’s and laptops in every home. Technology is marvelous for all it can do.  But as one pundant has surmised, home computers have become a ‘pipeline for pornography.’  Do you think people are being affected by that?  Coupled up with violent video games, do you think our children are being affected by it?  I am not quite sure how we could have stopped this garbage, but I will apologize anyway.

I apologize that we appointed a Supreme Court that overturned term limits on federally elected officials.  Yes.  Legislation was actually passed during the Clinton administration limiting term limits, only to be overturned by the only organization without them…the Supreme Court.   Now we have career politicians and all the graft, corruption and personal enrichment that are a result of it. Decisions are being made every day by our elected officials for personal gain without regard for what is best for the country.

Our newspapers, magazines and TV news at least attempted to appear impartial during elections held in the past.  This year?  The gloves have come off with such notable organizations like the New York Times and the Washington Post not even attempting to hide their support of Hillary Clinton.  In previous elections, news organizations would show their support for a particular candidate in an editorial.  Not now.  They show their support by smearing their candidate’s opponent.  The latest is the release by the New York Times of Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns which show a loss of over $900 million being carried into following years to reduce any future tax burden.  The crime here is not Trump’s taxes and carry-over as that is perfectly legal and by IRS statute allowed.  The real crime is the publishing of his taxes by the New York Times.  They claim that they received them in the mail. Yeah. Right.  Any CPA doing such a thing would lose their license to operate.  I believe the IRS themselves did it.  This is the same group that targeted conservative groups prior to the 2010 mid term election.  In particular, the Tea Party movement.  Who would investigate this matter?  Well, the FBI.  That same group that let Hillary off the hook for emails even though the FBI director’s brother provides legal services to the Clinton Foundation.  Sound fishy?

Isn’t it a shame that most of our printed media has reduced itself to the level of the National Enquirer?  In some instances, the National Enquirer is more believable.

Do you trust the government?  During the 60s, when the unemployment rate was reported, it actually meant the number of people who were without jobs that wanted them.  Today’s unemployment rate has been reported at less than 5%.  I assure you, this is for purely political purposes in an attempt to show how wonderful our economy is faring before this election.   In fact, the real unemployment rate is just under 10%.  Why?  Because so many people have quit attempting to find work.  But wait….there’s more.  Do you know how many households in America do not have anyone working?  Over 22%!  Yes.  Over 22% of the households do not have a breadwinner.  How are they surviving?  Working for cash?  Welfare?  How wonderful does our economic picture appear now?

Do you like our current policy of allowing anyone to use any bathroom depending on what sex they feel like on that particular day?

So, as I look back on my life, the goal I have always had is that I leave the world a better place than when I entered it.  My generation of Boomers has failed.  We have made mistakes.  We allowed the country to become so liberal, so politically correct, so dependent on the government and so militarily weak that it is not the same country of our youth.  We have taken free speech to such an extreme that we now have public disrespect for our flag and our national anthem being considered heroic. Yet, only 1% of our citizenry has served in the military to protect our country and our freedoms.  We now have groups of people attacking and killing our police because they think they are ‘entitled’ to do so. We have had deadly Islamic terrorist attacks on our people.  We allow people of unknown origin to enter this country every day without having any idea of their true purpose in coming here.  Many times, it is not to assimilate like previous immigrants.

I want to make a plea.  I know many people who are not enamored by either candidate.  For their personal beliefs, they are going to vote for a third party candidate.  That has been tried before with disastrous results.  Rather than giving George H.W. Bush a second term, Ross Perot siphoned off  enough conservative votes to give Bill Clinton the presidency without having received a plurality.  Do you want to vote for the Libertarian candidate who did not know what an ‘Aleppo’ is, or could not name his favorite foreign leader?  If you like the policies instituted by the present administration, by all means you should vote for Hillary Clinton.  If you truly believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction, then do not waste your vote on a third party candidate, hold your nose and vote for Donald Trump.

I am considerably older than those members of Gen X, Y, and Z and here I am apologizing for the direction our country has taken in the last 60 years.  My fervent hope is that in 30 or 40 years, you will not be writing a blog apologizing for the bad decisions your generation has made and suffering from the consequences of bad decisions.

campaign_promises

Common Sense Applied to Campaign Promises. Are We On the Same Planet?

In the twentieth century, campaign slogans and campaign promises were much more simple than those of today.  In the 1900 presidential election, William McKinley used the slogan, ‘Four more years of the full dinner pail.’  How many millennials would even know what a dinner pail is?

In 1916, Woodrow Wilson’s big slogan was, ‘War in the east, peace in the west, thank God for Woodrow Wilson.’  Well, this slogan is interesting for two reasons: firstly, the US got involved with WWI one year later, and secondly, who today would include God in their campaign slogan?

The most famous campaign promise/slogan was used by Herbert Hoover in his 1928 election.  His famous slogan?  ‘A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.’  Now common sense would easily indicate that the Federal Government was not going to buy everyone a chicken and a car.  The gist of that slogan was that America would be so prosperous that everyone would be able to afford food and a car. It was still an era of self-sufficiency and independence in the US.   Well, like Wilson entering WWI, Hoover got thrown for a loop because of the stock market crash of 1929, less than a year after he took the oath of office.

Hoover lost the election to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932.  FDR’s biggest campaign promise was to provide a ‘New Deal.’  FDR quickly turned on another one of his campaign promises….balancing the budget.   According to one historian, FDR issued in a government that created a ‘firm desire on the part of the American people to use the government as an agency of human welfare.’  FDR determined that balancing the federal budget was outweighed by what he termed, ‘government activism.’

Now we get to some of the more recent campaign issues and promises.

Have you seen the Hillary Clinton TV ad stating that she would tax corporations and wealthy individuals, as it is time for them to pay their fair share of taxes?  I have seen this ad too many times already.  But be that as it may, one thing has become evident, no one from her staff knows how to use a computer for research, … only for sending classified emails.  Here are the most current statistics, easily found by anyone who is familiar with using google.  The United States pays the highest federal corporate taxes of the 34 industrial nations of the world. The maximum federal corporate tax rate is 39%.  In the worldly picture, the US is tied with Puerto Rico, and only behind the United Arab Emirates (55%) and Chad (40%).  The US federal tax rate is 16 percentage points higher that the worldwide average of 22.8%.  (For my info junkies, the federal tax rate in Mexico is 30%)

But, just like the TV commercial, there is more.  There are also state corporate taxes.  Would you like to guess which state has the highest corporate tax rate?  New York?  California?  New Jersey?  All good guesses but the state with the highest corporate tax rate at 12% is……………..Iowa!  Yup, those Hawkeyes finally got to be #1 at something.  Four states levy a maximum state corporate tax rate higher than 9%.  Those states are Pennsylvania (9.99%), District of Columbia (9.4%), Minnesota (9.84%) and Alaska (9.4%)  Ohio, Texas and Washington forego state corporate taxes but instead impose gross receipt taxes on businesses.  Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming levy neither corporate income nor gross receipts taxes.  All the other states have a maximum corporate tax rate.

Here is an example of why US corporations are moving their headquarters and facilities out of the US.  Medtronic is located in Minnesota.  They make sophisticated medical devices.  Let us imagine that Medtronic makes $100 million profit in a year.  According to our present taxing structure, they would pay $39 million to the federal government and almost $10 to the state of Minnesota.  In round numbers, they pay $49 million in taxes and get to keep $51 million of their profit.  But wait….Medtronic is moving their entire operation to Ireland.  Why?  The new corporate tax rate is going to be 18%, with no state corporate taxes.  Under this scenario, they pay $18 million in taxes to Ireland and get to keep $82 million of their $100 million profit.

And Hillary Clinton wants to tax corporations more?

Let us take this one step further.  Do you know what percentage of federal tax receipts are attributable to corporations and what percentage are attributable to individual income taxes?  Here is a simplified breakdown of where the federal government gets its money:  Social insurance (payroll) taxes are 33.9%, excise taxes are 3.1%, Miscellaneous taxes account for 6.3%, corporate income taxes account for 10.6%, and individual income taxes account for a whooping 46.2% of federal tax revenue.   Would it be common sense to lower corporate tax rates to keep more companies within the United States, thereby creating more jobs?  If we would cut the corporate tax rate in half, would we not create more jobs?  Jobs that would provide more federal income to make up and exceed the difference in lost corporate taxes?

But wait, what are we going to do with all those high income tax payers that are not paying their fair share of taxes?  Well, here again, all those computers at Hillary’s campaign headquarters must be on the blink.  Did you know that the top 1% of the top wage earners in the United States, those people having an adjusted gross income (AGI) higher than $428,713, contribute 37.8% of the personal income taxes paid to the federal government.  The top 5%, those with an AGI greater than $179,760, pay 58.55% of the personal income taxes paid to the federal government.  The top 50% of the US wage earners, with an AGI greater than $36,841 contribute 97.22% of all federal personal income taxes.  Those 50% that are below $36,841 contribute 2.78% to federal personal income taxes. That’s right, 50% of the US population only pays 2.78% of the total federal income tax revenues.  So who pays their fair share of taxes????  There may be tax loopholes that need to be addressed, but if Hillary wants the higher wage earners to contribute more is she advocating a flat tax for everyone?  I doubt that.  That would be too much common sense for today’s political climate. (Remember Mitt Romney being castigated by mentioning that 47% of the population does not pay taxes?  All true.)

How about that campaign promise of free college for everyone.  OK all you college bound students, who will ultimately pay for your education?  That would be all of us, even though there are other ways to pay for school.  I know this is out of vogue, but you could begin working part-time jobs and start saving money.  I had one year of college paid for before I started.  There are scholarships and grants.  There are, heaven forbid, jobs to do while in college.  I did that as well and graduated without a college debt.  You could go into the military and gain use of the GI bill.  Viet Nam prompted my generation to make early life decisions, but until you know what you exactly want to do, why waste your money and flounder in college.  A little maturity goes a long way when it comes to life decisions.

In 2013, the average cost of tuition and fees in private colleges was $32,405.  In state resident public schools, tuition and fees averaged $9,410.  For out of state residents attending a public college, the tuition and fees averaged $23,893.  None of these costs include living expenses.  This year, there will be 21 million students attending college.  If the government were to pick up the tab at an average of $20,000 per student, that would cost, if my math is correct, $420 billion a year.  That would be almost 15% of our $3 trillion annual budget.  It would match our defense budget.   Oh, don’t forget, our federal deficit is almost $20 trillion and we are expecting a $600 billion shortfall for the 2016 budget.  So, do you members of the ‘give me a trophy for participating’ generation and the ‘I can’t work, I’m going on spring break’ generation really think the government should pay for your school?

We will build a wall.  How many times have we heard that recently?  I am neither a proponent or an opponent of this particular campaign promise.  But, having said that I would like to ask a question, “Would you get on an airplane without seeing everyone going through security?”   Not in today’s environment.  The same procedures apply if you want to board a cruise ship.  Your bags are taken and examined as well as your carry-on baggage.  So if we would not board a plane or a ship without going through stringent security, why would we oppose stopping illegal aliens and drugs from entering this country.  I have no problem with work permits or temporary visas, but everyone needs to be vetted.  I would hope some smart people could come up with a quick efficient way of granting work permits and temporary visas.

There are many more campaign promises and slogans circulating during this election year.  I just selected some of the juicier ones for review in this blog.  The next time a candidate comes up with something that smells a little fishy, all in the hopes of buying votes, do a little research.  I am sure your computers work just fine.