Monday, July 3, 2017

PERSPECTIVE: THE DIVISIONS THAT HAVE CAUSED US TO BECOME UNCIVIL

Our Nation has become nearly as divided as during the Civil War. Then it was Slavery. Now, it is something about the political parties. The Republican policies are mostly Free Market oriented which is mostly consumer driven. If the customer does not like the product, it can stop buying it. If the stockholders don’t like the profitability or stock value, they can and will change the management. By contrast, the Democrat policies are mostly Government driven. Government management is expensive, and not easy to change since the customer is forced to take the product, often the civil employee can’t be fired, and changing the top management requires a couple of years of intense political battle. Thus we have a divide that has been widening and is still widening to the point that it is now a virtual shouting match, if not  worse. 

Capitalism unregulated can be bad. Government locked in bureaucracy that cannot be fired or easily changed, is equally bad. However, the two can be compatible, and if the adherents work together, the best of both worlds can be found. Our democratic Republic, with its division of powers, has managed this conflict quite well for two centuries. During this period there was camaraderie among our representatives that made deals possible, no matter how strongly the individuals held to their party beliefs. The ability to accomplish this peacefully is what has made America great and the envy of the world.  But somehow we have lost this vital skill in the past few decades. 

The “debate” over what to do about Obamacare epitomizes the political divide and why. The Republican approach involves mostly free market principals with some government help for the very poor; the Democrat approach is all government. They even call it “single payer”.  

This issue illustrates how Big Government is completely out of touch regarding the effects of their programs. Medicare created in the 1965 was based on life expectancy of 65 years. Today life expectancy is 82 years for a woman and 77 for a man. By 2050 a mere 33 years from now, a woman’s life expectancy will be 100 years. A man will reach the 100 year life expectancy by 2080. 

Now, consider this dilemma: Big Government, whether they know it or not, is subsidizing medical research and thus extending life expectancy. At the same time government is encouraging businesses to shift from human labor to robotic devices. They it does this by raising the minimum wage, which makes human labor so expensive that it further encourages businesses to purchase and install robots. Then they allow the businesses to write off the expense of the purchase, installation and operation of the robot against their taxes. Meantime the robot pays no Medicare taxes. In other words Government is cutting off the source of income for Medicare while it subsidizes the scientific medical developments that are permitting the life expectancy to grow increasing the expense of Medicare. If you are told that in a decade or so Medicare is going broke, and you are not surprised as to the cause, go to the head of the class. A CEO who ran his business like this would be canned..

So, just what has happened to cause us to divide in our civility to each other? Three revolutions have hit our Country since WWII. The first was globalization when the US encouraged under developed countries to enter our markets. The second is digitalization which is recent and impacts every aspect of our businesses, government and society. Then since the 60s we have been experiencing a cultural revolution. These phenomena have happened too rapidly for our leaders to grasp, much less be able to explain to their constituents, namely, “We the People”.  

Globalization permitted capitalists to move their factories overseas to employ the cheap labor of the undeveloped countries. 70,000 such factories were shut down in virtually every town and city if front of our eyes. Then about two decades ago the digital revolution and its robots started replacing more and more workers, and the rate of this change is exponential. Today, due to globalization and robots replacing human labor, only 60 percent or so percent of the potential work force is fully employed.  Big Government is subsidizing those who are unemployed with food stamps and other government handouts, and that  along with other out of control government programs is what has caused the National Debt to quadruple in a mere 17 years from 5 trillion dollars in 2000 to 20 trillion dollars today. 

The Cultural Revolution which began in the 60s is probably the main reason for the interpersonal divide. Prior to the revolution the basis for good behavior was good manners. Two key rules understood by and practiced by nearly all were that in public “a child should be seen and not heard”, and “if you get in trouble at school, wait until you get home”. A parent knew what a parent’s job was; the neighbor and the school respected that and became willing partners in the raising of the child and nearly everyone when to Sunday School. 

That cultural structure is gone. A parent is more of a pal than a parent, because they will be sued by the parent, the neighbor and school management will not be partners, and then virtually no child goes to Sunday School. 

Today, a child can be “obscene and absurd” in public and no one does or says anything. If the child gets in trouble in school, the parent races to chew out the teacher and the administrator. And let’s not forget what texting brought in the 90s. It has virtually destroyed face to face communication in the Millenial generation, who will be our future leaders. Should we be surprised that the use of  Facebook, Instagram, and the modern digital means of communication where one’s identity can remain secret further exacerbates poor manners? 

This Presidential election cycle two outsiders, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, entered the arena and spoke to this mass of voters, Trump with a Capitalistic sounding message, Sanders with a Socialistic sounding message. Trump won an overwhelming majority of our Electoral College votes and became the President, which the Established Parties and the Mainstream Media refuse to accept. Consequently, the Country is more divided than ever. Should anyone be surprised the politicians of both parties along with the Main Stream Media are out of touch with the problem? You see they have not and still do not go down to talk to the individual workers from the 40 percent of the work force that has been unceremoniously dumped from their jobs during this period. What is even more amazing is that they denigrate this group from whom came the votes to elect President Trump. “We the People” have spoken and the “establishment still has not heard us and evidently doesn’t want to hear us! 

Finally, despite the enormity of the problem and the divide it has produced, we must find a way to bring back civil discourse. We can start by reminding ourselves that we may be Republican, Democrat or Independent, but we are first and foremost Americans and our Democratic Republic and its great Constitution is still the best government we Earthlings have. One by one with each other we can be Civil and we can expect Civility of each other. Therefore, we should not be afraid to stand our ground and demand Civil Behavior from our neighbors and our government representatives, and ourselves.

 

 

 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Perspective: American Democracy is Alive and Well


Charles Krauthammer’s article entitled “American Democracy” which appeared in the Bradford ERA on Friday March 24th is right on and should be required reading for all those naysayers who fear that President Trump is the new Hitler. Quoting Krauthammer “Turns out that the much feared, much predicted withering of our democratic institutions has been grossly exaggerated. The strong man cometh, it was feared. Who and what would stop him? Two months into the Trumpian era, we have our answer Our checks and balances have turned out to be quite vibrant.”

 Let me summarize the points that Krauthammer cites to support his case.


  1. The Courts stopped Trump’s temporary ban for undocumented immigrants coming from the countries that President Obama had labeled as dangerous was to develop a stronger vetting process. Although the President has the Constitutional authority to take this action, and the Law by Congress supports it, as well, President Trump is permitting the case to go through the lower Courts where it will ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.
  2. The States Republican Governors have been pressuring Congress to oppose the President’s health care reform.
  3. The Congress, having Republican majorities in both houses, would not support the President’s proposed health care reform bill.
  4. The Media is clearly the opposition party, with their front pages covered with anti-Trump editorializing, presented as news. This in contrast as to how the Media lavishingly worshiped Obama.
You add this up and you find that the keys to the separation of powers that the Founding Fathers created in our Democratic Republic are functioning as they should despite what the anti-Trump groups claim Trump is doing to destroy our system.

Put this together with the way “We the People” chose Trump to be our president, via the Electoral College, also a Founding Fathers creation, and you have a system that we can be proud of and should support instead of disparaging with the foulest language one could imagine.

Finally, there are two more things that need to be said to understand President Trump. First and foremost, is that he did not run as a third party candidate as did Ross Perou and Pat Buchanan. Instead he ran as a Republican and won all the way not because the Party high-ups wanted him, because they did everything they could to defeat him, but because “We the People” overcame the Republican establishment and elected him fair and square as our President.

Secondly, is that Trump speaks bluntly and to the point. This is the way the ordinary person in the “We the People” crowd speaks. For example Trump will say, “President Obama wire tapped me”. That is not precisely correct because Obama did not personally break into Trump Tower and place a bug under Trump’s dinning room table.

But consider what probably happened. A Fisa Court approved a surveillance of foreign spies which when implemented probably caught Trump people talking to the people the Fisa Court had approved to be surveyed. Michael Flynn was such a person who was exposed. Who sought the Fisa Court approval? Oh, that was someone high up in the Obama Administration. Ask yourself where the “Buck” stops? President Harry Truman told us: “In the Oval Office on the President’s desk”.  Period. 

Ergo did the Administration order a “wire tap”,i.e, a Fisa Court Warrant, and was it Obama? The answer, it was equivalent to a wire tap, and if the ‘buck stops there”, it was Obama.

Now ask yourself this question. How many citizens know what a Fisa Court is let alone what it does? Fisa stands for “foreign intelligence surveillance”, and it is a court warrant permitting the government to survey foreign spies in the United States. The answer is very very few ordinary persons know. Now, ask yourself, how often you have heard the elite Media tell you what Fisa means. Never.

 Now ask who knows what wire tapping is? “We the People” know what precisely that wire tapping is to survey persons who are suspected of wrong doing. The super educated journalist school graduate only understands precise language. That is why they missed the Trump movement. They never bothered to talk to “We the People” in their language.

 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Perspective: President Trump at One Month


The United States is a Democratic Republic, and President Trump is our duly elected President. He was elected with 306 of the required 270 Electoral College votes. Importantly also, is the fact that he won 30 of the 50 States and at least 2500 of the 3000 counties in the Nation. Hillary did win the popular vote in California, but President Tromp even won half of the counties of California. In other words, he won decisively.  

This is exactly what the Founders had in mind when they set up the Electoral College. They envisioned that the population of big cities such as Boston and New York could out-vote the citizens of the hinterlands. That is exactly what happened in this election. Hillary received the majority of the National votes gaining them from the big cities on each coast. Still she lost overwhelmingly to the hinterland, exactly the way the Founders wanted it. 

President Tromp has been in office a mere five weeks, and despite the democrats in Congress blocking and stalling the proposed members of his cabinet, he has made huge progress on addressing the problems he identified as the major ones and told his supporters that would do something about. To name a few:

  • Authorized construction on the Wall
  • Announced hiring 10.000 new ICE and 5000 border security agents to enforce existing laws
  • Promulgated a program to vet refugees and immigrants from the seven countries in the Mid East countries Obama labeled  unsafe.
  • Eliminated numerous regulations that impede job creation, including a freeze on Obamacare
  • Authorized the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines and unshackled the restrictions on coal mining
  • Withdrew America from the TPP treaty
  • Said out loud: “Radical Islamic terrorism” in his inaugural address
  • Appointed Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court
In addition, he announced plans for replacing Obamacare with a better program, and stated his plan for tax overhaul would be ready in 2-3 weeks.  

More than this accomplishment, he has convened meetings with just about every major group of leaders and experts in the Country such as the Silicon Valley high tech heads, the automotive CEOs and the top union leaders, to name just a few organizations. Adding to this he has met or spoken on the phone with many of the top world leaders. The business community is already responding, and consumer confidence is rising. The rise in the Stock Market reflects this. 

Despite the amazing Electoral accomplishment and despite keeping his campaign promises right out of the starting gate, a substantial number of democrats are in the streets claiming he is illegitimate and calling him all sorts of the worst kind of names. Now, they are not just disparaging President Trump; they are disparaging “We the People”, their working class fellow Americans who voted him into office. The members of this group needs to be respected, because they have been the victims of the horrendous policies of both established political parties that have caused more than 70,000 factories to shut down terminating the working class jobs and leaving a grave yard of rust belts that spans the Nation. 

If the democrats want to change from the Electoral College to election of the President by Popular Vote, they need to know that that will require a Constitutional Amendment. According to Article V of the Constitution: “Whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which in either case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of the Constitution when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States.” Since President Trump won 30 of the 50 States, and Hillary won only 20 States, it seems unlikely that the democrats can round up the 38 States required for such an Amendment. 

The Electoral College is the law of the land, and Donald Trump is our Electoral College elected legitimate President. Therefore, it is the duty of each and every citizen to accept that. As Americans we often may not agree with the occupant, but we always should respect the office of President itself!

 

So, let’s unify and get on with dealing with the business the voters need and want now!!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Perspective: The Millennials and the Global and Digital Revolutions


This 75 million person generation is living at the time of a Revolution the likes of which the older generations have never seen, and we fear that many of the group may be insufficiently prepared to cope with the challenges they face. We say that because many Millennials are having difficulty getting jobs and fitting into the modern society.

What is the revolution, you ask? The globalization of economic activity and the digitalization that affects everything. And then there is the Cultural Revolution. The rapid pace of globalization and the digital explosion are difficult enough for the older generations to grasp, but the Millennials must do it with few mentors to guide them and in a culture that is a state of disarray.

Moreover, their being wedded to their Smart phones exacerbates the problem because it causes them to virtually live alone. The authors of a book entitled, “The End of Conversation” ran an experiment as part of the research for their book that illustrates this. They invited the Millennials to bring their parents and grandparents to a meeting. At that meeting they seated the Millennials on one side of the room and the parents and grandparents on the other side. Then the authors watched to see what happened. Not surprisingly, the older generations were busy chatting away and getting acquainted. The Millennials, by contrast, sat in silence fiddling with their Smart Phones. The Millennials do in fact live alone, and that is a scary place to be in such a time as this.

Let’s examine the main components of the revolution.  Globalization has manifested itself in that millions of factory jobs have been shipped overseas during the past three decades. During this period 70,000 or so factories that have been shut down and the jobs eliminated. This has mostly affected the boomer generation, and generation x whose jobs were taken.

Digital technology is more insidious. On the surface it looks great; it increases productivity for all kinds of economic endeavors. But the robot, an outgrowth of the digital age, replaces the human worker just as the foreign worker replaced the US factory worker.  It is true that human workers are needed to keep the robots running, but that requires skills beyond the high school education that was what a factory job required. The probability of a 50 year old with a high school degree, who was replaced after working in a factory for 25 years, acquiring such skills is problematic.

The Millennials are also having trouble finding meaningful jobs, even when they have college degrees. Moreover, their jobs may be as much at risk as the high school graduate factory worker who was a victim of the factory closings. The Millennial’s competitor is the robot. Rapidly developing artificial intelligence means that many jobs that required college degrees can now even be done by robots. Eventually, this will include robots maintaining and repairing robots.  Despite this new “employee” taking jobs left and right, the Media and the Politicians don’t even mention it.

Now, we have seen revolutionary changes before. The Industrial Revolution brought all kinds of change from the steam engine patented by James Watt in 1781, to the railroad, the automobile, radio, television etc. But the pace was much slower. Mostly it required decades and in some cases a century. The digital age has reduced that to a decade or less. For example, the Smart Phone is less that a decade old and nearly 2 billion persons already have one.

However, there was one thing that the older period had; namely, a cultural construct that nearly all persons were integrated into. The Church was at the center of it. Workers displaced by the Industrial Revolution could congregate at their Churches to find solace, commiseration and even sustenance if they needed it.  Ask yourself, does such support exist today? Unfortunately for the Millennial this Cultural Revolution has occurred at the same time as the Globalization and the Digital Revolutions.

Before the Cultural Revolution Society had four pillars to assure that a child could be taken from the cradle and eighteen years later exit the home as a responsible citizen. Unfortunately for the Millennial, Society decided to discard the four pillars just about the time they arrived. It was as though Society “threw the baby out with the bath water”.

What were the four pillars? First, there was the parent who knew what the job entailed and what was expected. That job was converting the helpless new born baby into a responsible citizen in eighteen years so the child could safely leave the parents home and enter the armed services, go away to school for advanced education or enter the work force. Secondly, the neighbor was pleased to be a partner with the parent and to be the surrogate parent when the parent was not there to save the child from dangerous situations. Third, there was the school. The teachers had the parent’s approval to be surrogate parents, and the parents were so pleased with the arrangement that they admonished the child that “if you get in trouble at school and are punished just wait ‘til you get home!” Fourth was the Sunday school. Nearly child went there, where the moral structure the parent promulgated was fortified. In addition, the child learned about God, the Ten Commandments and the importance of “loving one’s neighbor”.

Unfortunately, many of, the Millennials have not had such integrated societal support.  The parent has become confused about whether to be parent or a pal. The neighbor and the school found out that they would be hauled into court if they interfered, and hardly any Millennial attends Sunday school on regular basis.  Just visit any Church and count the number of Millennials! The number is virtually none. In fact it could be said that the Cultural Revolution is destroying the Church.

If you look closely, you can see the Millennials kind of a-drift in this complex and ever changing society. The fact that the second highest cause of death in this generation is suicide is a major clue of their problem.

Society had better figure out how to help the Millennials,  because a  generation growing up in the midst of a globalization and digitalization revolution, with little or no face to face human contact, largely isolated from the older generations, and with no mentors to guide them, will have difficulty becoming the leaders this Country will need. This is the challenge for all of us.

Future blogs will explore this question further, and seek answers that can be helpful to all of us, and especially helpful to the Millennials, who will be living with the problems, challenges and opportunities of this rapidly changing global and digital age the rest of their lives.