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Sunday, September 22, 2013

A winning strategy for the war that LBJ declared half-a-century ago

The War on Poverty is the unofficial name for legislation first introduced by United States President Lyndon B. Johnson during his State of the Union address on January 8, 1964. This legislation was proposed by Johnson in response to a national poverty rate of around nineteen percent. The speech led the United States Congress to pass the Economic Opportunity Act, which established the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) to administer the local application of federal funds targeted against poverty.
The United States Census Bureau had the following information: "In 2012, the official poverty rate was 15.0 percent. There were 46.5 million people in poverty." As of 2011 according to the USDA's website SNAP, 47 years since that war on poverty was first declared, we've spent $803,303,430,000.00 on food stamps alone. If you add the nearly two hundred billion dollars added to that total since 2011, we've spent a trillion dollars on food stamps. That trend is soaring upward with no limits in sight. Look at this chart I generated with SNAP's data:

If you add in everything else from state and federal welfare, subsidies, housing, educational assistance, the gamut, we could've paid off over half the national debt! Nevertheless, after eleven trillion dollars, we still haven't won that long-declared war. Our eleven trillion dollars has succeeded in reducing a 19 percent poverty level to 15 percent. A four percent decrease. There are 313 million people in America. Four percent is 12.5 million. It has cost us $880,000.00 per person—taking half-a-century—to lift 12.5 million people out of poverty. I don't think this is the way it was supposed to work.

If you subsidize a thing you get more of it. The more cash you throw at a problem, the bigger the problem gets. It's not solving the problem it's exacerbating it. You feed the pigeons at the park, you get more pigeons, whole flocks of pigeons. If you had sufficient bread to throw at the problem of too many hungry pigeons at the park...why I'd venture to say that in a few years everyone in the city would wear galoshes as they waded knee-deep through a veritable ocean of bird poo! You solve problems by solving them.

Why is a person hungry? He has no money. Why hasn't he got any money? He has no job. Why hasn't he got a job? He has no salable skills. Why no skills? He slept his way through high-school, or skipped it altogether. Why no unskilled labor job like grocery bagger, lawn maintenance, ditch digger? He hasn't got the self-discipline required to show up on time every day. He joined a gang. He got a girl pregnant. He got several girls pregnant. He grew up to be a sorry excuse for a human-being just like his parents were. There I've identified the problem. The poor person's parents were in the vast majority of cases entirely inadequate to the task of properly raising a child, much less several.

The solution then to the massively growing problem of poverty in America is requiring a license to have children. The way it looks to me is that there are at least 40,000,000 Americans who couldn't pass the written exam much less the road test. Sorry Charlie, pull your pants back up. You're not allowed to operate that equipment without a license.

Friday, September 20, 2013

On my way to work I encountered two who weren't

Today is my son Alex's birthday. He's been begging for a Nintendo 3DS. It's some kind of handheld game system that Alex has been dreaming of for several months. There's money in the budget for it—just barely—so today my wife will be taking the family's debit card to Game-Stop and buying one. NOTE: I don't normally leave the debit card with my wife. I've regretted it in the past and likely will again in the future. Crossing my fingers today.

On my way to work I stopped at Kroger because I knew I wanted some soda to drink during the day's labor. I drink Diet Mountain Dew because it's got plenty of caffeine and no sugar. I also picked up some cream cheese. (for lunch I make two little sandwiches from small croissants cut in half—they are easy to cut when refrigerated—and toasted in my little toaster-oven. Onto the toasted croissants I put cream-cheese, pepper-jack cheese, ham, and pepperoni. Delicioso!)

As I was walking into the store with my eight dollars I noticed an African-American couple walking out with a grocery cart full of food. It's possible they paid for that food with their own money but not only am I a cynic, I'm also a pragmatist, and based on their appearance, attitude, gait, and other indefinable externalities, I merely assumed that taxpayers had funded their shopping extravaganza. Note please that I don't claim it, merely assume it based on years and years and years of watching people in line ahead of me with their American Flag decorated cards. I can't speak for the vast majority of the nation. I don't know how it is in your neck of the woods, but it's not profiling when it's ubiquitous like it is here in Memphis Tennessee. Am I profiling a mosquito when I say that by-and-large most of the time they're going to try to suck my blood? It's just what they do.

I was running a little bit late. I'd gotten up at 4:00 AM gone to the gym and done my daily cardio and weights. Since today is my son's birthday and since all the kid's are out of school today—for some reason—I'd also stopped by McDonald's to get breakfast for everyone. It was closing on 6:00 AM, and I on my way to work. I plan on working until 6:00 PM.

I make a living. I do it by being at work 75 hours a week. Most people can't imagine hours like that. Some not only can, they're in the same boat. Notice that I'm not complaining, I'm just laying out the facts. Uncle Sam doesn't pay for my family's food. (6 people, 4 of them teenagers.)

But these two people with their cart full of food were in no hurry. I got the feeling that this shopping trip would be the grand total work required for them today. As I hurried into the store, a few questions crossed my mind. What would it be like to have little or no responsibilities? No-one expecting me at a certain time, no jobs waiting to be finished, no demanding phone-calls, no worries. It would be like that Lion King movie and "Hakuna Matata":

Nothing is asked of them and so they're content to do absolutely nothing. Living for the day and only the day. What a waste! This isn't how people are supposed to live, like a giant ant-farm with Uncle Sam the zoo-keeper tossing in the day's supply of grub. The food-stamp and welfare system is ruining the lives of millions of people! How would it be if mama bird never pushed the little chicks out of the nest? Living on government handouts is a life with no purpose. Scavenging for food, begging for food, eating bugs and trash, all of these ways of continuing to exist are unworthy of human-beings. Using food-stamps is begging. Why not be honest and stand on the road with dirty clothes a sign and a sad story?

Now some of you are thinking that I have no right judging people based on a few seconds of observation as I cross their path. Oh yeah? Well, I'll tell you something. I'm done! I'm done apologizing for being white. I'm through worrying that somebody will call me a racist because I happen to notice that black people in Memphis always pay for their groceries with an EBT card. I will no longer be shouted down like some poor schmuck on a talk show when my opinions don't meet with the liberal media's approval.

If you're living on government charity then you should be ashamed. That shame should—in any kind of sane world—cause you to do something to change your circumstances. But everything is broken now. Living in shame is no longer shameful it's just another way of living Hakuna Matata...growing up as perpetual children with mommy and daddy providing all your necessities and then growing old with the state taking over that job. What good are they? What use are they? A vote for a Democrat is a vote for more people doing nothing of use to anyone.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Navy shooter, why did he do it?

Why did the Navy Shooter do it? Simplest answer is because he wanted to. He hated his life, he hated the people in it. He hated everything and everyone enough that the consequences weren't a factor. When these rampages happen everyone wants to think that the person just snapped. As though there was all this pressure and suddenly something inside just gives way and shazzam! a psycho killer appears where a regular nice guy used to be. I guess that it might happen that way, but my belief is that this guy fantasized about it. Thought about it. Told himself everyday as rude people ticked him off, as supervisors and co-workers stabbed him in the back etc. that "one of these the moon Alice!"

In this case we'll never know. The difference between these days and the days of the Honeymooners is that violence is inculcated and nurtured within us by our non-stop culture of violence on TV, in moves, music and art, comic books, video games, and toys. In a world where a video game like Grand Theft Auto is a number-one best selling video game franchise, honestly were you expecting something else? It's not the guns it's the sick culture.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Victory will only come from out of the blue

When I was a kid about eight-years-old, give or take, a friend taught me how to play chess. I explained the rules to my brother and from that day we played a lot of chess, if not too skillfully. I was always the one sweeping across the board announcing checkmate. Except for the problem that usually my checkmate was anything but. Michael was a grinder. He'd try to take bigger pieces while losing smaller pieces, or smaller pieces with no retaliation possible. I always believed his gameplay was flawed but never had the native ability to see far enough ahead to exploit his petty pawn-grabbing tactics. I continued to develop my strategy while he continued to employ the same aggravating piece grinding tactics. I realized I could—with judicious sacrifice—crowd all his pieces back in a corner of his side of the board. Sometimes I was able to exploit this poor development, but often found myself too poor in remaining pieces to deliver the coup de grĂ¢ce.

Whenever Michael found himself losing and in an untenable position, he'd stall and then cheat. We didn't have a turn clock and didn't even actually know that such a thing existed. We could take as long as we wanted. Finally, I'd get up to use the bathroom or get some more tea, but when I came back the board would have a subtle difference that would allow Michael to avert his impending defeat. I could often even pinpoint which piece he'd moved, whether it was his or mine, but Michael would intransigently insist that the board was the same. I had no one else to play against—the friend who'd taught me had been left behind long ago as the Army transferred my father here and there across America. It was perhaps this unfortunate circumstance that informed my strategy and play style. It was only possible to defeat Michael with a sudden sweeping checkmate from the blue. Anything else and he'd stall and cheat.

It's these lessons we learn in childhood that allow us to understand the world and those people we share it with. My brother's tactics are evident in the way the Democrats handle the big elections. The 2012 election was the Republicans' to lose. After four years of scandal, over-reach, tragic foreign policy, economic stagnation, ruinous energy prices, tax increases, and a litany of economic cliffs nearly leapt from, it was ours to lose. Romney's strategy was to present himself as an unflappable financial guru who could turn around our economic woes as he'd done with the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics:
Scaling down the Washington office was one of the many moves that Romney made to wipe out the scars of profligate spending. Recruited in February 1999 to take over the beleaguered Olympic committee, Romney deferred his $280,000-a-year salary until the Games were over and its finances secure, then donated it to charity. (He had taken a leave from Bain Capital, but was still receiving substantial payments from it.) He got rid of catered food for board meetings and instead offered pizza at $1 a slice.

Romney frequently touts his success running the Olympics as an example of his strength as a chief executive. The experience also demonstrated his skills as an agile politician — one who touted the committee's new frugality and deftly parried questions about the role the Mormon Church would play in putting on the Games.
The Democrats used the same aggravating tactics that they've always used. The skillful exploitation of the Trayvon Martin death was enough to sew up an automatic 100 percent of the black vote—13% of the population. Sandra Fluke got them another 18%. Obama also extended an olive branch to the LGBT community by backing gay marriage. Finally Obama sewed up the game by cheating. He had an operative—Jimmy Carter's grandson, James Carter IV—illegally videotape a private meeting at Marc Leder's house. In the tape we can hear Romney explaining—quite realistically that the 47% of voters dependent on government entitlements for their living would almost certainly vote for the party of government entitlements:

Grab all the low-hanging fruit possible, then cheat. That's how Obama won. That's how the Democrats play the game and once you realize this fact, once you realize that there's no-one else to play against, and once you realize it's either play by their rules or refuse to play at all, you'll realize that only a sweeping checkmate from out of the blue will ever win us the game. What kind of strategy will be sufficient to set up that checkmate? In chess, development of pieces is vital. We have to get those who'll be effective, to a place where they can act in the most forceful manner possible when the time comes. The 47% lesson should teach us that either we're actively playing the game 24/7 or we are conceding. There is not a single moment when our candidate is not under some liberal operative's surveillance! If you're a Republican candidate and you have skeletons in the closet, feet of clay, a weak moment, a foolish turn-of-phrase, or non-PC comment to share with like-minded friends—Smile! You're on Democrat Candid Camera!

Position is everything. Let them think the election is in the bag, then pull a Tortoise and Hare upset from the blue. It's okay to sacrifice pieces. That's what Romney was unwilling to do. He hunkered down and refused to take any risks. We can't win elections by taking more pieces off the board than the Democrats, because they're going to cheat. They're going to stuff the ballot boxes, they're going to bus illegal immigrants to polling booths all over town. They're going to block overseas military absentee ballots. They're going to recount and recount subtracting here and adding there until the equation balances in their favor. It's what they do and we know it, despite their intransigent insistence that the board is exactly the way we left it. No more getting up for tea and a bathroom visit. If you're running for office don't even blink.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My telephone proves nearly everyone is a cynic

Selwyn Duke has an article called: The Babe and the Cynic. It's an interesting read but in this writer's opinion it falls a little too precipitously into the trap of a false dichotomy. Selwyn Duke would convince the world that being a cynic is as foolish as ... well being a fool. His argument is that trusting no one is as foolish as trusting everyone. In that regard he's somewhat correct but this argument lacks sophistication. No one—not even the proverbial eighteen-year-old-victim of an accidental cabbage-truck ejection—trusts everyone. Likewise even the most steadfast Ebenezer Scrooge variety cynic will at some point trust someone.

Whether in personal relationships, or public relationships, the world loves to present us with these false choices. Coke or Pepsi, if you will. Think about the old adage trust but verify. Most think this simple wisdom. Trust people, but check their story. Trust but verify is—at best—merely a non sequitur. Obviously if you do trust them you won't need to verify, while if you don't trust them you will need to verify. And again what about earning trust? People earn trust by being honest, by telling the truth and dealing fairly. If trust must be earned then we begin without any.

Think about a phone ringing. It's your phone and it represents a responsibility, a duty yet unanswered. Who is it? What do they want? Questions asked before you ever pick up the phone. Caller ID often answers these questions before you leap into the dark by picking up that call. A 1-800 or 1-866 usually means you don't know this person. A stranger calling your home means they want money from you. Now is that a cynical thing to say, or merely the honest truth? When was the last time a stranger called you to just talk? "Hi, this is Jack. What's your name? Didja catch the game last night? Etc." Not gonna happen. Ever.

So the phone is ringing and you don't recognize the number on your caller ID, moreover it's not a local number. If you answer the call you fall more towards the naive end of the spectrum and if you don't you fall more towards the cynical end. Even here there is further variation. On one day in a good mood you might pick-up the call, while on a hectic or stressful day you wouldn't.

Now you pick up the phone and the person hastens to let you know that this isn't a sales call. Stop. Why did this person feel the need to inform you what the call isn't about? Because he knows that this is what everyone assumes when a stranger calls. We all start by assuming that they want our money. Okay, so they say they don't want our money, but they called so they must want something! The next thing down the list is time. Is this a survey? Unfortunately time is money. Suppose you have a nine-to-five job. You're not at work; you're at home relaxing with the family. Maybe you're trying to watch a show on television. Maybe you're helping the kids with homework. Maybe you're reading a book or sleeping. You're boss knows that your time is worth his money, that's why he pays you. How much is the survey caller going to pay you for your valuable and limited time? Keep in mind that since your boss already has you for forty hours, your personal time is worth time-and-a-half. At the end of your life, as you breathe out those last few breaths, what would you give for those fifteen wasted minutes?

On the subject of wasting time, the following site is more fun than answering a fifteen minute survey from a complete stranger. I promise. Trust me.
"A biologist, a chemist, and a statistician are out hunting. The biologist shoots at a deer and misses 5ft to the left, the chemist takes a shot and misses 5ft to the right, and the statistician yells, ‘We got ‘im!’ ”

Why it’s funny: Because it’s mean.