An Open Letter of Thanks and Advice to Mitt Romney
Thank you for the gift of a picture showing you in a "Reagan-like" pose in blue
jeans standing outside of a weathered barn decorated with an American flag. So now a few words of advice as a gift for you.
Your campaign will succeed to the extent you are able to show that your work
at Bain benefited your fellow Americans. But it will fail to the extent your
opponent, President Obama., is able to create the impression that your activity at
Bain did not benefit other Americans.
The difficulty here is the education that must be given to the American
people so they understand what Bain did and how those activity benefited not
just you and your friends but also Americans generally. For instance, if Bain
took over a failing firm with three divisions; and then Bain decided to close one division completely, to move
another division's plants to China, and to cut wages at the remaining
division. Further assuming Bain justified this by saying these acts were done to allow the firm to survive for the
long term. A sophisticated well educated American might say I'm glad Bain did
those things to save at least a few jobs for the long term, but the typical unsophisticated
American on first review of the facts is likely to say Bain was harming
So you can easily see how difficult your task is. You only have three months
- the "Aug., Sept., and Oct." time frame - to accomplish this complex task of
education and explanation. If you fail to accomplish this task your opponent
will shape the facts to your disadvantage.
Both you, and your opponent, are Harvard trained lawyers and are knowledgeable
about how much molding of opinion can be done by the partial or incomplete
presentation of facts to decision makers. The voters are decision makers in this case, and they need a complete accurate education.
Thanks again for the picture.
....................... (prepared by Hugh Murray on July 20, 2012)
The Citadel is Treated to a Tocqueville Lecture by Barone - In early 2012 Michael Barone gave a lecture to a class at the Citadel in Charleston SC on Alexis de Tocqueville. The course dealt with Conservative Political Thought and Barone found much of a conservative nature in Tocqueville writings to report to the class.
There was the American tendency toward solving problems locally, there was the deep religious faith of many Americans, there was the American tendency to form voluntary organizations to solve problems, etc.
Barone then came to the need for subsidiarity in governmental decision making which both Tocqueville and Barone thought was important. (Subsidiarity is a moral requirement derived from the natural law. It holds that any political decision be made at the level of governance as close as possible to the individual. So the family would be preferred, the local government next , state government would come next, and federal gov't being the least desirable level for decision making.) Barone now had to explain how the rule of subsidiarity squared with the current "omni present", heavy handed Federal control of nearly all governmental activity.
Going beyond Barone - Race Relations, a Special Problem for Subsidiarity
Barone pointed out that it was the rise of the abolition societies in the north combined with the south's unwillingness to abolish or even limit slavery that led to the Civil War and the attendant legal changes gradually stripped the state governments of most of their powers, transferring more and more power to Washington. At first this transfer of power was largely theoretical; seldom really being acted upon.
However, race would again be a triggering factor; although slavery was abolished by the Civil War, the South continued to use its local laws and customs to segregate blacks from whites. So in the 1960's and 70's a series of Federal moves in law, regulation, and constitutional interpretation brought Federal control into every small business, every school room, and every transportation facility ending the south's locally enacted laws and rules separating the races. These Federal impositions were aimed at altering very basic individual to individual attitudes and behavior; these impositions touched substantially all governmental activity and at lot of business and personal activities as well.
Unfortunately once used "successfully" this new Federal activism was not to be put back on the shelf. Today intrusive Federal mandates can be seen controlling the local delivery of healthcare, individuals use of their own land, the states' rights to work cooperatively to construct such things as pipelines, etc.
Tocqueville had argued an "over weaning" distant government, even one with a democratic form, could become a soft despotism. Barone felt that things have not become desperate but that substantial movement has occurred toward a government manned by well meaning but heavy handed regulators ........... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 8/8/12)
What Institution can make "Non-people into People" and "People into Non-people"? - Is it a advanced medical lab in Transylvania run by a mad scientist? No!
It is the Supreme Court of the United States.
In the Citizens United case the court said a corporation has the same rights as an individual to spend as much as it wants to influence the results of a Federal election. The court felt that since people have freedom of speech, corporations should too.?
Right? or Wrong? You decide.
But what about turning "people into non-people". The Supremes pulled this trick out of their hat in a case called Roe v Wade which declared that unborn babies did not deserve the protection of the government. Now medical professionals have always said that human life is a natural progression from moment of conception until natural death. They say there is no point on this progression when one can logically say this "living person" was not human yesterday but is human today. Not birth, not viability, never - so the Supreme Court, known for its ill-logic, stepped in and declared this continuum was not really a continuum at all and that death could be meted out to people during their first several months of life.
Who decided to vest such powers in nine robed lawyers to make "people into non-people" and "non-people into people". Well history informs on this point. It turns out this very court gave itself this massive power in 1803. What happened to the idea that power derives from God who has entrusted it to those that are governed? What happened to the idea that the people must exercise power in accordance with the truths learned from a study of nature and nature's God? There has to be a clear distinction between people who are made in the image and likeness of God and "non-people" be they animal, vegetable, mineral or the creation of some lawyer, be it called a trust, a corporation, a partnership, or whatever.
So what are the consequences of just these two decisions:
.1) Millions of people who should have been in the US work force, getting married, having children, enjoying life, and, to be sure, paying into social security. Accordingly America's social safety net is showing huge holes and massive adjustments will have to be made. All programs will have to be "means tested" and America's middle class that exercised prudence and built retirement savings are going to see their savings spent down before the social security payments and medicare payments promised them are paid to them. This will devastate the middle class but it will also shrink the nation's pool of capital available for future investments and productive improvements. All Americans are looking at a much reduced standard of living.
.2) The moneyed interests represented by corporate leadership and large shareholders are going to react to this decline by using their new found power to influence elections by massive pushes for more government granted advantages:
. - free trade, such as Romney demand for a new Latin free trade zone,
. - will be more loudly trumpeted as Americans continue to lose manufacturing jobs including the high skilled manufacturing jobs, tax preferences for certain financial activities favored by the wealthy, such as hedge funds, will be pushed ,
. - loose regulations will be demanded for large complex corporations because of their "special needs",
. - little attention will be paid to the screams from their small competitors as they sink under the regulations they can't escape, etc.
America already has a balance sheet that resembles Greece's. The difference is America doesn't have a European Central Bank watching the numbers and ringing the alarm bell. All America has is the Asian tigers who hold US bonds and are so far content to just watch without ringing the alarm bell. But the day is coming when America's bell will toll.
America has to find a way to put the Supreme Court in a box and limit its scope of activity.
Recently two elderly, Catholic, recovering heart patients, one a lawyer, one a non lawyer, were exercising on adjacent machines under the supervision of a nurse. The non lawyer said to the lawyer "don't you think Todd Akin's support of the unborn is essentially the same as the Catholic position of the issue?" the lawyer responded vehemently "the Supreme Court has spoken on the issue, just shut up an accept it, there is nothing more to say, Akin should quite the Missouri Senate race". The nurse seeing the lawyer's body language and red face rushed over to intervene in time to hear the non-lawyer say "I just asked him a simple question". However, the emotional reaction from this lawyer spoke volumes - when it come to doctrine, Catholic lawyers, even lawyers who have had near death experiences, are inclined to side with the Supreme Court not the Church. ........... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 8/24/2012)
Romney Preferences Send US Toward More Global Integration and Empire
- Romney has come out in favor of more free trade agreements and a strong dollar policy. Romney sees the US continuing to import more than it exports.
Wonderful for some but what about jobs for the millions of America who currently have skills deficits and lack the mental agility to deal with the constantly changing workplace.
America is a polyglot society with all kinds of people with all kinds of abilities or lack thereof. So America needs all kinds of work places some that require highly skilled highly flexible people but America also needs lots of jobs for people with limited skills and limited ability to acquire new skills.
Romney doesn't understand what America's demographic and what those people need.
Furthermore he seems oblivious to the fact that the bottom levels of America are increasing their proportion of the population while the upper levels are opting for fewer children. Romney needs to develop policies that will work for people who don't acquire new skills easily and who don't coop with frequent change real well.
If elected, he is likely to focus heavily on the bright, highly skilled sector of American society. He will probably take up the idea that every foreigner who gets a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) degree from an American University will automatically get permanent residence status.
But since the Republicans really want Hispanic support, he is unlikely to seal the border with Mexico
............ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/25/2012)
Washington DC Sets a New American Record
- Washington has the highest per capita income of any city in the country, and Washington has greatest concentration of" self important" people in the country .
However, Washington DC has now become the place with the most automobile accidents. The typical driver in DC sustains an accident every 4.7 years whereas the national average is about 9.0 years.
What does this say about drivers in Washington DC. Are they spending too much time clapping themselves on the back or checking their hair or texting.
No, all kidding aside, Washington is about 50 % black and these folks are known for their easy going ways; perhaps putting pleasant easy going people on the same streets with thousands of "type A" political types from around the country who have come to Washington to be near power is a formula for lots of accidents.
................ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/25/2012)
Doctors and Lawyers Handle their Roles as Professionals Differently - Professional people help people with existing complex difficulties or the desire to avoid future difficulties.
Medical doctors have the challenge of understanding the complex system known as the human body. This system was invented by God and remains basically fix as to components and functions. The universe of knowledge in this area is basically fixed with addition knowledge such as new drugs or procedures, being added rationally, incrementally, and slowly. Knowledge about all this is readily available and with diligence can be understood by anyone. Some patients research their conditions and learn an immense amount about their conditions and the vast majority of doctors encourage this learning so patients can become involved in their own care.
Lawyers on the other hand are engaged in advising people about a highly variegated constantly changing set of factors that effect the clients situation. Not only is the law variable but so is the uncertainty found in the typical courtroom when any of this law is applied. Accordingly lawyers do not want their clients looking into the details of their case or attempting to help in the effort.
So why the difference . Doctor's knowledge builds on a fixed platform. the human body. There is disease and there are cures but all builds logically off of a fixed starting point the body. This logical growth of knowledge is something any intelligent person can follow.
Lawyers on the other hand are dealing with a body of knowledge (e.g. legislation, judges' decisions, regulations, etc.) that has been built in a sometimes logical, sometimes illogical, way with literally hundreds of limited individuals putting their ore in the water at various points along the way. Thus the legal backdrop for the lawyer on any issue is multi-faceted . Add to this the process questions involved, When some correction of an actual injury has to occur. The lawyer has to take his client into a court with a jury that may view the facts differently than the lawyer and before a judge who might give undue weight to a part of the law that the lawyer felt was not really applicable.
So the doctor has far more underlying certainty than the lawyer and accordingly the client or patient is logically either encouraged or alternatively discouraged from getting involved in the process or bringing relief to a difficult situation.
Now the doctors have organized their world pretty logically. The study the body constantly getting more detailed, the devices and drugs used to treat are subjected to carefully reviewed - success is rewarded, failures are rejected. Old treatments and procedures are constantly being reviewed. and if needed replaced. Doctors have a strong attachment to what they call "best practice". They are always assessing and implementing new and better ways to treat.
Lawyers on the other hand keep the old whether is works well or not. The processes that have been shown effective in other countries are not accepted because they were not invented in the US. The law is allowed to be altered by at least six different entities: state and federal appeals courts, state and federal legislatures, state and federal regulators. All speaking with extreme detail as to what the law is or what it means. Then you have court process that features a flood of words mostly words aimed at juries of limited ability.
Is it any wonder that the public tends to be happy with the results from their visits to doctors and unhappy with the results from their visits to lawyers. ....... (prepasred by Hugh Murray on 9/25/2012)
Double Standard by TSA Defending Americans from Terrorists - Plane passengers are screened but bus passengers are not screened. There is no logic particularly as cockpit doors have been hardened against penetration.
So the question that needs to answered is simple. Why does America's leadership spend so much money protecting airplanes from terrorists and so little protecting buses from terrorists?
It is true a plan could kill hundreds by crashing into a building but a speeding bus could mow down hundreds in a crowed fair ground. No the answer lies in who might be attacked. A plane might kill an assemblege of leaders who have congregated in one well guarded building where as no bus would be likely to get through to such a building.
So the answer is not concern that human life might be lost. No it is concern about which human lives might be lost.
In the middle ages all effort was expended by the people so the king's castle was not attacked or captured. America today does not have a royalty ..... or perhaps it does? ........... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/25/2012)
Military Leadership Training Shapes all of American Business - There are two basic kinds of leadership styles : top down and collabrative.
The US military trains its people to use the top down approach because of its need for unity of command particular when things get tough and peroples' lives are on the line. However, when people trained in this way of thinking leave the military they bring their mental framwork into there new civilian workplace,
If their new workplace has a clear objective day to day, or month to month, this top down approach works fairly well. But in today's modern America these kinds of organizations are more and more being transferred overseas. Labor intensive manufacturing and call centers are examples of the sorts of organizations which operate well under top down management and these are being transferred off shore.
Collabrative organizations ( e.g. Google, Facebook, etc.) are those that are always seeking better, different ways to do things. They are usually designed for creative thought with informal work spaces, informal work hours, and causal dress codes. These kinds of organizations avoid uniforms or time clocks just the sort of things military people are trained to prefer.
With the US continuing its steady military commitment around the world, the country is likely to see a steady flow of ex military entering the civilian workforce and they are likely to reduce the creativity and collabrative capibility of many organizations.
Of course, if the US can reduce its military footprint (either through budgetary constraint or preferrablly policy decision in Washington) the unleasing of American creativity will be helped as fewer and fewer military types are available enter the US civilian workforce.
............ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/25/2012)
Percentage Calculations Should be
Used for both Tax and Expenditure Calculations - The government's primary method of calculating taxes is using a percentage calculation - when economic activity drops off the dollars of gov't receives is reduced.
The government tends to put a fixed dollar amount of the dollar payment to gov't workers and recipients of transfer payments.
If these outlays were percentages of gov't revenues rather than fix dollar payments - the cost of these programs during economic downturns would be more manageable.
........... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/25/2012)
Open Letter to Retired US Legislators Working on Budget and Debt Problem -
Dear Sen xxxx,
Watched your program on the nation's debt which aired on C-SPAN .
A few items were missing from the panel and discussion:
1) It appears there is only one black or no Hispanics on your panel of nearly two dozen former officials. The nation will soon be majority non-white so no solution can be crafted without their public involvement.
2) Our social safety net programs were crafted with the assumption that a large group of young Americans possessed of the same basic skills and natural abilities as the older generation will be there to pay into the system (social security, medicare, etc.). Unfortunately birth control, women's liberation, and legal abortion has caused this "pay in group" to be greatly reduced. The numbers lost have been replaced with blacks born out of wedlock and illegal Hispanics who mostly lack the skills needed to contribute - in fact they are net users of government resources. So tax money needed to support retirees is missing.
3) Capitalists (reacting to gov't regulations, the lack of easily trained workers, their own greed, and free trade policies) have shipped "low skill", labor intensive manufacture jobs overseas. If these managers had been forced to provide "on the job" training to the blacks and Hispanics these workers would be further along in the process of becoming contributing members both for the support of their families and the broader society. And gov't would not have seen it necessary to promote construction jobs and govít jobs so excessively.
4) Older Americans must spend more time praying for God's guidance and less time running to doctors. Death must be seen in a religious light, as a natural and welcomed transition to a better life with God. Although suicide can't be promoted, death should not be seen as something to be avoided at all costs. But gov't has to stop pushing religion out of the public square and gov't programs must be designed to work with and respect religious organizations that deliver care to the elderly. (The Catholic Church is on the verge of a major withdrawal from health care if Obama doesn't back off.) Perhaps govít should have older Americans, who are still fairly healthy, work in hospice facilities run by religious organizations for a small wage or a bump in their social security payment. Many would come to see death in a different way. (Werenít the founders right when they said our form of government would only work for a religious and moral people?)
5) Increased tax revenue has to be on the table. But the wealthy will just flee if you try to hit them very hard. They already have their factories and much of their capital offshore already, so all they have to do is change their mailing addresses. That leaves the middle class and that's the group that has been striving mightily to payoff their debts so they can become a stronger backbone for the country. But if the nation's debt is really 104% of GDP, you may have to destroy the nationís backbone just to keep it alive.
6) Social Security is a little easier problem than medicare. (Here SSI and Disability need to be split off so they don't get caught in the cuts. These two programs should never have been put in under social security in the first place.) I suggest the law be written so the age of eligibility is always figured as a deduct from the current average date of death . If the average American dies at age 75 the retirement age might be say 4.5 years less than 75, thatís 70.5. As medical science extends life, the retirement age would rise accordingly. Cost of living escalators should be eliminated for the first 5 years of retirement when people are generally healthier and can pick up odd jobs (see Para 4 above).
7) Why not have Gov. Jay Nixon and a few legislative leaders from Missouri give you ideas on how to keep a AAA credit rating. Of course, Missouri has a balanced budget requirement and a cap on total state spending as a percent of state GDP, the people of Missouri see the advantage of these controls because things here are very local and the advantages of subsidiarity are apparent to all. You at the Federal level operate with political gaming that pits one faction against the other trying to gain unfair advantage. The outgrowth of that is tax loopholes, handouts that have ballooned our national debt, and a flood of ill considered laws that have saddled small business with impossible regulations. (Again the Founders were so brilliant setting up a system that kept most political power at the state capital level where subsidiarity could work. Of course, Marbury v. Madison and the Civil War destroyed their fine work shoving most political power to Washington.)
8) America's foundations are eroding, manufacturing business have fled to other countries, the achedemic performance of young Americans is declining, nearly 50% of all children are born out of wedlock, church attendance is anemic, etc. Yet the Washington elites insists that America is going to remain the world's policeman, the world's "essential nation". But the essential nation can't function with a crubling foundation. So America has to begin its withdrawal from center stage, this withdrawal can be graceful or sudden via a "kick in the pants". Soon the elites in Washington must make a choice, but so far they have not realized the choice is upon them.
9) The American military is an all volunteer force. This elite force, drawn from only one percent (1%) of the population, is supported by a vast array of contractors that receive huge payments to feed, house, transport these volunteers. The cost to maintain a soldier in the field is three times the cost when soldiers were draftees. However, the real big cost of this force is the cost of helping the soldiers that are injured for the rest of their lives. These costs are a big reason why American can no longer be the policeman of the world.
Could I think of some other points, sure? But these came to mind quickly as discussion points for coming panels. ...............(prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/25/2012)
The Role of the Holy Spirit and God's Grace in Successfully following the Tenth Commandment
- It is generally true that man is not capable of following any of the ten commandment without Godís help. This help is called grace and is carried to us through the workings of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.
Since the Tenth Commandment (like the Ninth) deals with the interior emotion of coveting, it is extremely important that the action of the Holy Spirit and Grace be actively sought. There are five other commandments that regulate our relationships with our fellow man. But since these involve outward, visible behavior they are also regulated by social and governmental sanctions. There is always a need to call on God for grace to resist all sin but when other exterior sanction can apply, perhaps there is not as great a need for internal control activated by Godís grace.
There are three aspects of the Tenth Commandment that deserve some added discussion:
1) Society needs to make certain all people have at least a subsistence living, otherwise people not only have a duty to covet their neighbors goods, but if they are hungry or cold, they actually have a duty to steal to preserve their lives.
2) Unhealthy coveting of that which is harmful to us is the problem that AA deals with every day across the world. The two key elements for success with AA are submission to a higher power and a through examination of conscience. The ninth and tenth commandment involve accepting the grace offered by the Holy Spirit and an examination of conscience followed by going to confession. Is it any wonder that in 1940 a Catholic priest, Fr. Ed Dowling from St Louis, pointed out the similarity between St Ignatiusí Spiritual Exercises and AAís twelve step program? (See article in the Catholic Digest Ap Ď91).
3) Finally society has a duty to provide access to employment so adults are not forced to extreme actions to keep their families feed.
It should be mentioned that Spain has an interesting organization which was originally organized by a Basque priest named Fr. Joseí Marie Arizmendiarrieta. He noted that following the Spanish Civil War there was a lot of unemployment. So in 1941 he set up a cooperative called Mondragon which today is in more than a dozen businesses and employees over 80,000 people. Mondragonís two most important policies are "no layoffs or firings" and the maximum gap between the top wage earner and the bottom wage earner is 5 to 1. The cooperative has many divisions some employee a few as a dozen people while their largest division has over 10,000 workers. When competition or technological change require that a division or operation be closed down, those employees are absorbed into other divisions that are doing better.
This operation contrasts with the typical American business where layoff and terminations are common and the gap between the highest wage earners and the lowest wage earners is often 50 to 1 or even 100 to 1.
It is apparent that a community dominated by the Mondragon model will likely see fewer violations of the Tenth commandment as opposed to a community dominated by the America model with its winner take all ethos. ..............(prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/26/2012)
An Interesting Rotary Lecture which would Always be Relevant Particularly to any American group
(What follows is a Rotary meeting presentation which would also be relevant and would probably generate interest among those at the meeting. This presentation sets out the basic differences between the US Legal System and the Legal System found in continental Europe (e.g. France, Germany, etc.))
Introductory Remark - The presentation today in on the difference between the European Legal System found in places like France and Germany and the American legal system. The presentation is divided into three parts: the civil area, the criminal area, and the appeals process.
Now I will hand out three pages on each of these areas. I will read each point. Please make your notes and/or questions on the pages so you'll have these when we get to the discussion session at the end.
(Now hand out the pages - each person gets three sheets - and begin reading the points on each page beginning with the civil law page, then the criminal law page, then the appeals page. click the following link for the three page handout (it is "pdf" which any computer with Adobe can open)). ............ (prepared by Hugh Murray on 9/28/2012).
This page hopes to bring a common
sense, old fashioned view to today's news. The comments displayed
on this page were prepared by
Hugh V. Murray, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org