Friday, December 30, 2011

Who Sponsors the UN?

My curiosity arose recently, when I heard GOP presidential discussions on contributions to the United Nations. Obviously I thought that these monies were based on some sort of GNP, or equitable assessment, on a by country platform. I pulled what is the most recent year of reporting (2009) and was shocked beyond belief.

Please do not misunderstand my concern. I naively perceived all countries gave on a fair basis and the US might have a minimal larger share, as a result of housing the operation in our country. I do believe and understand, that many countries need our support and are not financially as well off as we are. This is not my dilemma.

I learned we actually contribute 25%, or about $589 million dollars of the entire budget, according to the spreadsheet below. China contributes $64 million, or about 2.5% of the United Nations budget. Think about that for a moment. Let it roll around your brain for a brief period. Our recent economic woes, have forced us to borrow a substantial quantity of money from China (in the billions of dollars), just to stay afloat and operate our ever expanding government. Why are we not knocking on their door and discussing this?

This link reflects the per country share of the United Nations budget for 2009. Please make note of the European contributions (even though the Euro is sinking rapidly) and donations from Canada and Mexico. Something is horribly wrong with this picture and our government needs to address the situation with the members who are not paying their share.

Each year we import 160 million barrels of oil from Saudi Arabia to keep our personal and corporate fleets moving. At $100 a barrel this is approximately $16 trillion dollars (how much is our national debt?). Saudi Arabia contributes a meager $18 million per year, according to the spreadsheet, or .6% of the United Nations budget. Help me understand why we contribute 50 times more than Saudi Arabia.

The link below is an article reflecting which countries we import oil from and the amount of barrels bought annually. The imported oil figure has gone from 28% (price per barrel was about $38) in 1980, over thirty years ago to 60% (price per barrel is around $100 these days) currently. Realistically, isn't it time to start drilling on our properties and develop our oil fields? How can you argue against this, when we are so upside down and purchasing massive amounts of foreign oil?

I know some of you are also arguing that we need to end our dependence on fossil fuels. I have no issue with that either, but it will not happen over night and we need to drill until other means are established. As Solyndra and other projects have proven, we cannot stop the use of fossil fuels in the short term and there is no quick alternative.

I am, by no means advocating we isolate ourselves from the rest of the world, but I do find it appropriate to demand other countries step up and set this right. We cannot and should not bankroll the entire world. We need to create a system of payment at the United Nations, that has countries compensate on a more equitable basis.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Fear of Bullying

When I was 12 years old, I went to Bess Rankin elementary school in Arlington Texas and was in the sixth grade. I was on the honor roll and played football, but I, along with all my classmates, was deathly afraid of one kid. He had had failed to pass several years and should have been going into high school, in all likelihood. Funny, I can't remember his name, but I can recall one incident, that I discussed with my middle son yesterday.

We were outside and running around the playground, when this imbecile approached me and asked why I had to embarrass him in class and why I was such a wimp (he actually used another word associated with a the female anatomy, but I choose not to repeat it). Apparently, in the class prior to recess, I had answered a question that the teacher asked me. He (and I did not remember this), was asked the same question prior to me and didn't know the correct response, as he never studied. So because I actually studied and responded to the teacher I was under attack.

He grabbed me by my coat collar and started literally pulling (dragging is probably a more appropriate term) me across the playground out of sight of the teachers, who were supposedly watching over the students. We were followed by many of my classmates and a few, Thank God,  ran to get the teachers. He berated me the whole way and was about 6 inches taller and outweighed me by 20 lbs to 30 lbs. I knew I was going to get killed or at least have my face re-arranged.

Then I remembered the axiom "Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones but Words Will Never Harm Me"! He released me and instructed me to stand up, fight him and get ready for my rear end to be killed. I told him that wasn't an acceptable choice and he could hit me all day long, but I was going to take a less resistant path and not hit back.

This infuriated him and made him call me more names and increase his volume in my scathing. In return I just looked at him. I knew any minute he would crush my skull. but I also knew I had no chance. He had made mincemeat out of a few others and I had seen the results. He called me "Chicken", many other dirty names that I shall not repeat and kept trying to egg me into a fight. I knew quite well that I would be defeated miserably by his attack if I allowed him to provoke me.

He was a bully and well aware of his dominance. He had ruled over the playground for some time. No one had taken this type of stance before though and he wasn't really sure how to handle it. I was able to stall and put off a fight long enough, to have the playground teachers run up and put a stop to it. The only issue was I had to live with this shroud for the rest of my life and the fact that he terrified me. I don't think I slept for a week.

The incident stayed with me through junior high and my shame was only matched by embarrassment, when someone would bring it up. Kids never let well enough alone. My salvation is, that my face was not restructured and in the end I have had a nice life. My son had a similar incident and wore glasses during Little League. His "Bully" was the son of another coach and had my son in the same situation. As he was intelligent, he took the same road and parents intervened before the bully could massacre him.

Bullying in today's society, has taken on new and dangerous proportions. Children are actually committing suicide, as a result of Social Media intimidation. It breaks my heart every time I hear of this (and to be honest it brings back my scenario). We as a society have to intervene. We have to bring the process to a screaming halt and quit sacrificing our kids. Please help in any fashion you feel compelled!

Can Corporations Survive in the US?

Several months back, before my oldest son left for Japan, he and I watched a segment of "60 Minutes". The segment referred to the Corporate Tax Rates in the US, as compared with other countries around the world. I was floored. I had no idea that we were among the highest rates in the world. We charge almost 40% for corporations based in the US.

The show then began to discuss countries like Ireland, Iceland and Chile that had rates of 17% or less. It brought to light the fact that many corporations had set up dummy headquarters in Ireland, which charged 12.5%. Let that sink in and sit back and think about this.

If you were a CEO of a large company and were responsible for bringing as much profit to the bottom line as possible, would you "home office" in the US with almost a 40% rate or would you home office in Ireland with a third the rate? A company making $10 billion dollars a year in profits, would reflect at least a variance of $2.5 billion dollars in profits. This is a topic that needs to rise to the top of the congressional legislation and be brought to the forefront immediately.

Our country's congress is so busy fighting among themselves that they don't have the time to debate or talk about issues, that could resolve our massive debt cycle. The latest request from President Obama, is for an additional $1.4 trillion dollars, which will extend our debt limit to over $16 Trillion dollars. We cannot continue this charade and leave our children with an impossible debt structure.

First of all our congress has to completely do away with the insane "Line in the Sand" mentality (and both sides are guilty of this) and sit down and start actually governing. I have been on this earth for 60 plus years and never have I seen such an embarrassing situation, among out country's politicians. Think about how other countries must perceive our inability to work together and how this hurts us in International trade.

We are upside down and importing over $40 billion a month more than we export. That is a minimum of $480 billion a year! China and its cohorts are laughing at us and taking every penny to the bank (literally). It is time for everyone to become involved in politics, regardless of your age and tell your representatives how upset you are at our country's situation and standing in the world.

Please make the effort to obtain your congressional member's name and contact info and write, email, fax or call them with your opinions. It is time the feedback and ground swell outnumbered the garbage coming out of Washington DC! We have to stop it and we have to stop it now! Please tell them to stop acting like elementary age children and tackle issues like the corporate tax rates with an urgent frame of mind. We need action now!

House of Representatives:
Us Senate:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Honest Journalism is Dead!

Growing up with my father, in the newspaper business (and helping him publish a weekly newspaper) gave me a close definition of his expectations of true journalism. My father was a very intellectual individual and studied various religions, philosophies and was constantly searching for truth and all definitions of honest journalism. He would move papers at the drop of a dime, when editors would sacrifice accuracy for local political factors.

I have always admired and respected his position and truly was effected by his work and our many discussions and debates. He revered the prominence of Edward R. Morrow and Walter Cronkite. He felt their work was the essence of real newscasting and tried to emulate their perspectives throughout his career. I sadly, never exchanged my true thoughts, in regard to his ability and his influence on me, to his face. I will forever regret this misgiving, as he passed this year, without all his faculties. Dementia had overtaken his frail body and he was a mere ghost of his self.

I look at today's writing and literally at times want to wretch my guts up and am forever castigating the majority of TV analysts and news editors as they eschew honesty for attention and ratings. My standard bearer was raised at a time, when legitimate news was reported with a professional and dignified doctrine. Principles were never abandoned and articles were written with veracity.

These individuals were never interested in making themselves "The Story" and would not embellish content or chronicle adjectives just to draw attention to themselves. I struggled for years subscribing to local newspapers, in whatever city Kim and I resided. I am OCD and read the dailies from cover to cover religiously and digested the entire content, until recently, when I have become overwhelmed with remorse. I have dropped my subscription and no longer read the local newspaper.

I can no longer accept the unadulterated bull crap that is construed on a daily basis and TV news that is reported from a "Got Ya" mentality. Our current crop of newscasters have sold their souls to the devil and my father is turning over in his grave! I do believe if you look deep enough and research enough blogs, you will find writers who still are interested in the truth.

I yearn for the day, when all editors make a decision to return to the truth and refrain from political pressures and billionaire owners who think that money is the only reason to publish!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Politics and Friends

I recently decided to use my conservative viewpoints and enter the political arena, by campaigning for a specific GOP candidate this year. Although I am 61 going on 62, I have never really been involved in a political race and have found this endeavor more than entertaining. With Social Media a rising influence in communications and advertising, especially in regard to political races, I have found that this is a serious venture and I have sufficiently alarmed several friends or what I thought were friends.

My Mother-in-Law and I have debated for decades (33 years of marriage to the same lady--My wife Kim) and we are usually docile in our discussions. With my entry into Facebook several years back I learned that a  person can pick up relationships from years past and make it just like we were never separated. Facebook has been a wonderful tool and has allowed me interaction with individuals from junior and senior high school that I thought would never transpire.

On the other hand some of my Facebook friends have turned downright ugly with their vocalizations and close to violent criticisms. I am more than shocked at what is said and how I am threatened, almost on a daily basis, for exercising my constitutional right and on my personal wall on Facebook. One individual (I think because of a lack of education) resorted to using every curse word in the book and chastising me beyond belief. I had to "Unfriend" him as his comments became absurd.

I have no qualms with discussing varying beliefs in a civil and adult manner and there is a large portion of the Facebook contingent, that actually can talk about politics without involving emotions. Those individuals I admire and offer free interaction. The close minded egos that refuse to consider any opinions beyond their simple minded mental activity. These creatures will be shown the door sooner rather than later going forward. I hate to be placed in this position, but I am left with no choice. life is too short to tolerate demented personalities.

As the campaign intensifies I will have to devote more and more time to helping my choice, especially in Texas, where we have two other candidates, he is running against. I sincerely feel that he will be the best choice and will refrain from mentioning his name since this is my profession. In addition, I have realized that I have devoted way too much energy and time to his campaign and need to restart my writing. In the end my writing pays the bills and not my charity work for a presidential campaign.

I have always heard that the two things you do not discuss without major dissension are religion and politics and I have discovered this axiom is true beyond belief! So to all my friends and readers more to come! Thanks for your patronage and I appreciate your support! May 2012 be good to us all and may our economy make a turn for the better.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 1, 1969

I am sure that many of my readers will recognize this date. It is part of history and one that I shared with three friends; Tim McGee, Bob Hundley and Phil Bristow. It was the first lottery for the Viet Nam war and birthdays were pulled one at a time, to determine your draft order for the following year. I believe it was at my house that we sat, drinking a few beers, as we watched our future determined and scared to death. We only knew that if our number for the 1970 draft was drawn, we had no choice but to go to Viet Nam.

Two of us drew low numbers right away Bob and Phil. Tim and I had numbers that were at the end of the spectrum. Mine was 236 and I will never forget that number until I die. I foolishly went 1-A in January of 1970, as the draft board stated we would only hit about 150 for the remainder of 1970. It turned out that one (can't remember if it was Bob or Phil) had a bad knee and one had bad eyesight so in the end none of the fearsome foursome had to go immediately.

Then President Johnson decided that we needed to escalate the war to actually have a definitive result. In his opinion this would no doubt help us win the war. This decision also helped him choose not to run for a second term and expedited his death. All it did in reality, was to escalate the action and aid in the maiming and killing of many more young men from our beloved country.

Numbers started being pulled that were supposed to be safe and young men were being ordered to their particular draft boards like crazy. It was torture to those with low numbers and it was a game of chance. Of course the hell didn't compare with the action many young men saw in Viet Nam and I do not mean by any form or fashion to belittle that aspect, as several of my friends and acquaintances served in the idiotic war.

As the months passed in 1970, the threshold increased day by day and I started looking into reserve activity. I figured that if it got close enough, I would enlist in the Air Force or Naval reserves. No way was I enlisting in the Army or Marine Corp reserves, as that was an automatic ticket to the battlefield. I also did not want to cross the border and live in Canada as a few of my friends did.

With about a month and two draws left (I think they pulled every two weeks, but it has been almost 42 years) my number got close and I was calling the draft board daily, to verify what number was being pulled. My 236 was all of a sudden not looking very good. I think, if I remember correctly, the last number pulled in 1970 was 221. Fifteen numbers from my pull number.

Call me chicken or unpatriotic, but I felt we had no business in this war and did not want to give my life for something that really had nothing to do with our country or the defense of it. If the war was a matter of defending our shores and population, it would have been a different matter altogether.

My uncle who was a Marine lifer went to Viet Nam his last year in the Corp and has not been the same since. He was on a 3-hole port-a-potty when a mortar wiped out the other two young men. This, I think effected him more than any other aspect of the war. He hardly talked about the event, but I knew down deep he was deeply bothered by his being saved and the other two losing their lives. I think he felt a sense of guilt that he survived the mortar, to some extent.

Friends that I lived with and survived would return and have horrendous nightmares. Waking up in the middle of the night and screaming at the top of their lungs was common behavior and one that I could not tolerate. I felt guilty and lucky at the same time. I turned to alcohol and other things to get my mind off the issue. Then I usually would have to move as I gained no sleep, debating my guilt and the fact that my roommate had served.

Being a conservative these days, I am sure that a great deal of readers will be surprised to know that I was totally against this war and every war we have fought since then. This was the second war in a row, that essentially resulted in a draw or we lost. We have not, regardless of any mantra, decisively won any war since World War II. Yet we continue to put our troops in harm's way and rationalize the reasons behind our endeavors.

Again, we hear saber rattling from the White House lately, over the Iran affair and the fact that they are building a nuclear bomb. I understand that we have interests in this arena and are dependant on the Middle East for some of our oil. My true dilemma is though, exactly how will President Obama spin it so that he can place the blame for going to war in Iran, on George W. Bush? Time will tell.