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Month: June, 2012

5-to-4 America is here!

The “Newsroom” premiere show on HBO this week began with a university forum with two typical talking heads bickering and Jeff Daniels character, a cable news anchor, blasting both and the college audience with a well-written diatribe from Aaron Sorkin’s pen. A diatribe that I wish was preached from the White House to ever state house to every city hall. America’s greatest days are, indeed, probably over. With the gutless leading both parties and no rival 3rd party hope, we may very well now be something like a cross between nanny-states of Russia/China and resource-rich banana republics like Venezuela/Brazil.

There was a day when we lived within our means, sacrificed when defending the world against horrors, and we allowed for a minimal safety net to avoid elderly poor-houses. Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided by a 5-4 vote that our safety net expands again. We’re now about 70 years into the socialization of this republic. It’s just another verse to the same old song. The price of freedom is taxes. It began with personal income and business taxes, which we all pay. The fare increased with mandatory social security and Medicare taxes out of every American paycheck and match by employers, which is approx 20% of every dollar earned…with the “IOU” that we will have a benefit when we are old and maybe retired. Now, our government has been validated regarding the constitutional right to mandate healthcare or tax those who avoid insurance coverage. Again, this historic decision was a 5-4 decision.

But, this is our new normal. We are a 5-4 nation. Obamacare. Taxes. Welfare. Gay rights. Belief in God. Electing a President. You name it. About 11% really decides about everything. About 89% are equally fighting over every issue. Rarely do you ever see a 70%+ majority agree about any political issue, policy, or candidate. Justice Roberts did what he did, sided with the liberal justices for the first time, and offered the 11% vote for Obamacare. Done deal. This fall, the 11% of voters of PA, FL, MI, VA, and OH will probably decide who will be our re-elected or new President. Bank on it and thank our founders love of the electoral college for the power of a few electing for all.

So, the next time you think about the future of America, think about the transformation of this country from a boot-strap reality and tough, independent generations to one of social welfare promises, ever-rising costs & taxes, and a growing dependency of current generations…with trillions in debt that can never be paid off. How does one handle the deepest budget, character, and moral deficits facing America moving forward? Well, honestly…no joke…safe 3rd world countries are looking pretty good. Beautiful places where tourists always go and ex-pats have created their own colonies. No kidding. It may just be a better alternative to move where most people agree to “live and let live”. A place where partisan politics is not an all-consuming issue, where the weather is almost always nice, and where the local mentality is one that welcomes all who visit.

With an American citizenship that is losing value with every election, congressional or White House battle, and with each trillion in debt, I can think of at least 5 better places to raise our children and grow old together. It’s just a matter of time, for this American.

Fathers Day. Happy & otherwise.

Today, it’s here again. One day on the calendar to do what we should do for most of 68 million Dads in America. Simply saying thanks and I love you will do. Our two boys did just that in voice and handwritten card form this morning. Very sweet. On the other hand, my Dad will be sleeping late in the same home that I was raised in and will not recall what day today is, let alone the holiday itself. Alzheimers never takes a day off, it seems.

I may be a very profitable, family business manager. A hit and miss entrepreneur. Any career politician’s pain in the rear. An intolerant, bitter, and disgusted ex-husband. And many other things….but, more important than anything, I am a 20+ year father and almost 17 year husband of unconditional love. Today’s gifts are sweet and appreciated. But the year-round challenge, laughs, stress, and privilege of being a fulfilled man at just 43 is the very best.

As our parents age, we are educated even more about the priorities, challenges, and opportunities ahead when our parent role declines again. What will Ginny and I do? Where will we be. I have a few ideas to explore far from here in God’s Country. Wherever it is…this family’s fulfillment will lead the the way. Dare to be different, as we say, today and everyday.

May all dads out there have a blessed day with those you love and who return such a blessing unconditionally.

The point.

Gin and I found ourselves wallowing in the past again yesterday. Literally & metaphorically wallowing through cobwebs of our huge storage unit of “stuff”. Stuff we just don’t need. But, stuff we saved for our kids to use someday. Well, that day is here. Today, we set up our oldest girl in a new town for a well-deserved internship. The best possible use of furniture, lamps, a solid bike, and a bounty of food-stuff.

Letting go of “stuff” is difficult for many people. Walking through various homes, garages, and basements prove it. Seeing that packed storage unit proves it too. However, we hold on for that girl’s first pad where she will want for very little as she starts her career. That’s great use of stuff. Downsizing is cathartic…and so is helping a loved one make a new place a “home”.

In a sick, personal replay of “Groundhog Day”, I ask myself “what’s the point?” every single day. I’m strange that way. Why are we here and what is the point today? Well, today, it’s about a young woman moving “…on to the next big adventure of my life!…”, as her facebook status update just announced. That is today’s point.

Fathers Day is almost here and we’ll be batting .500 with kids here. But, that’s okay. Our girls are always here with us in photos, stories, and memories. It is, to be honest, just another day. It’s a day like today that is really Fathers Day. It’s days at the park, the Zoo, the Great Smoky Mountains, around the dinner table, and walking or relaxing on the Gulf Coast…those are real Fathers Days to me.

What’s the point of life? I would argue, without a doubt, it’s making as many kids (yours and/or others) feel safe, smart, and confident about today & where they are headed down the road. Nothing else gives one greater purpose than giving the world productive future adults who get “the point” too.

God bless you Dads & great role models out there this and every Fathers Day to come.

Want small government? Then, let’s dismantle it.

Last night, our local elected officials voted for a budget that shorted the modern vision for educational tools and outcomes. “no new taxes” was the mantra of the opposition. Not a vision of their own. No specifics to follow our Governor’s lead and TN’s “Score4Schools” with local solutions. Just “no new taxes”. Same old story of re-election concerns trumping any real leadership and vision. Ironically, the “Invest in Excellence” opposition was led by folks who have no children or are too old now to understand the modern demands of kids, parents, and educators. Education in America is now a global technology challenge and career politicians are not capable of understanding anything past thier own re-election priorities.

When asked on a softball radio show about what our Mayor Shrinkage envisioned for our county, he replied “smaller government”. Not higher graduation rates, smarter workforce, making our region more attractive for business relocation and expansion….just smaller government. Hmm. Let’s go even further. Let’s scrap it and start over with professional bidding for the work of government and have all work overseen by volunteer committees of conflict-free citizens. We could do this. A qualified CPA firm manages tax receivables and payables. Fee office services are fulfilled mainly on-line and by mail. Most county administration is eliminated. All paid political positions are eliminated. Schools are transitioned to charter or private management, with a volunteer-driven School Board. And safety and security is transitioned from public trough to private or public community professionals, much like volunteer fire departments do. It would be the ultimate “smaller government/no new taxes” effort ever undertaken.

No Metro Government. That just isn’t enough. Let the City struggle with their own challenges with overhead, pension nightmare, and “island” convention center debt. No. Just freeze county tax rates for years to come (but taxes almost always go up, thanks to the Property Assessor…who we will fire first) and outsource to the most-qualified, lowest bidder for public services in a modern age. Slashing overhead will lead to paying down debt and a slashed public payroll leads to slashed pension demands over future decades…to eventually $0, when all retirees are dead and gone.

You want smaller government? Support the transitioning to no paid government bureaucracy. We still elect those volunteers to oversee the school performance and outcomes, law enforcement, and much smaller services. But, we eliminate a bloated administration and disappointing political environment. And, remember…NO NEW TAXES, y’all.

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