Fed Up: An Insider’s Take on Why the Federal Reserve is Bad for America

If you would like to know how and why our nation is in such dire economic straits, and you are not an economist, stock broker, CPA, or financial planner then Fed Up: An Insider’s Take on Why The Federal Reserve is Bad for America provides the answers you’ve been waiting for.

Author Danielle DiMartino Booth spent nine years inside the Dallas Federal Reserve as an advisor to Richard W. Fisher, former CEO and President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. She is a financial expert who Market Watch hailed as one of four economists to take note of in the Trump era.

By now I suspect that anyone paying the slightest attention to the economy knows that central banks manipulate rates, most importantly, interest rates. This is neither shocking nor news. What is news, and definitely shocking, is DiMartino’s revelations regarding the incompetence prevalent within the Federal Reserve and the unwillingness as far back as Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, and now Janet Yellen, to admit that what these academics worship in theory simply does not work in practice.

DiMartino Booth saw the crash of 2008 coming and tried to ring that bell. But, lacking the requisite PhD and peer published articles that seem to be the insider credentials revered over common sense, she could not get the Fed to take her warnings seriously. After the crash, she once again warned and watched, as did Fisher, the disastrous consequences of repeated quantifying easing (QE) by the Fed… disastrous only to pension holders, money market accounts, retirees and well…regular Americans. To the contrary, repeated QE combined with bailouts of the banks that should have been allowed to fall on the sword of their own greed and corruption, became the boon that have now made these “too big to fail” banks even bigger.

As a lay person who definitely falls within the category of “average American” who is most adversely affected by the Fed’s uncontrolled tampering with rates, the book is infuriating. It makes you want to scream that the same people who inflict so much pain through their hubris and incompetence are the very people who continue to profit from it. They keep making their millions, unaffected and outside the parameters of the conditions they create through the idiocy of their decisions.

The most recent example? Former President Obama, alleged champion of Main Street and abhorrent of income inequality, nominated Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as Chairman of the Federal Reserve when he could have done otherwise. Janet Yellin, who never saw a rate decrease she didn’t like and who lives in a theoretical bubble that is removed from all economic reality. Janet Yellin, who has said that if she could take the country to negative interest rates she would. Do you know what that means? It means banks charging you, rather than paying you, for the pleasure of holding your money.

So where does private citizen Barack Obama make his first stop to earn income? To a Wall Street firm who is paying him $400,000 for a one-hour speech. Yes, Wall Street.. the beneficiary of Barack Obama’s and Janet Yellin’s fiscal policies which, while pumping up Wall Street, devastated average Americans, exponentially increased national debt and exploded unemployment.

Really, it makes you want to scream. Which is disturbing because when the effects of this manipulation and debt come crashing down, as they must, I can see a dangerous level of collective rage emerging from those who have born, and continue to bear, the brunt of the pain inflicted by these arrogant and greedy people who care not a whit about average Americans. They care about themselves first and their cohorts in crime, in and out of government, second.

DiMartino Booth is no shrinking violet. She has a great deal of courage. She is taking on the most powerful people in this country. Fed Up is not the ravings of an unhinged conspiracy nut. To the contrary, it is a well-documented, factually substantiated expose of an incompetent group of individuals running a corrupted system. Most of the book relies upon actual quotes and minutes from Fed meetings which paint a picture of systemic failure and a stunning refusal by allegedly educated people to admit just how wrong they continue to be.

Combine the people within the Fed with the monetary policies coming out of it and you’ve got the classic definition of insanity: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

DiMartino Booth has done her job. She is once again ringing the bell. This time we can all hear it.  Now it is up to us to do our part. I only hope we find a more constructive way of channeling the rage that will surface when all that she has exposed inevitably hits the proverbial fan.                  Carole

The Heart of the Presidency

I abhor war. Any sane person does.

I also don’t support the concept of nation building or think it is the job of my country to impose its culture or form of government upon other nations. I am not a nationalist or isolationist. I’m just an American who knows she is blessed to have been born in the United States.

I am also a Jew.

So when I watch Syrian children writhing in pain and unable to breathe because a barbarian named Hafez al-Assad used nerve gas on innocents, I am vividly reminded of the abhorrent use gas played in the 20th century history of my people. It reminds of a world that stood by silently and watched. And it makes me surprisingly proud of President Trump.

Why?

Because at the very least, bullies only understand an equal and opposite force. They don’t understand diplomacy, they don’t care about public opinion, and they mock “red lines in the sand” that are all talk and no action. In fact, they call it cowardice.

Such was the case with Barack Obama and Assad. What every Arab, and every Israeli, knows is that in tribal cultures such as exist throughout the Arab world, the failure to meet force with force is perceived not only as cowardice but also as an invitation for even greater brutality. Barack Obama invited the growing chaos of the Middle East and the spread of ISIS precisely because his repeated inaction was taken as weakness and he would not, or could not, see the damage he was doing due to his own ideology and ego.

Some are saying that in raining Tomahawk missiles down on Syria Trump was finally “Presidential.” It reminds me of Michael Douglas’s line from the movie “American President” when he orders a retaliatory bombing strike against a munitions warehouse in Libya, knowing he would, in the process, kill the innocent night watchman who was just doing his job. One of Douglas’ staff remarks,”Mr. President, what you did tonight was very Presidential.” To which Douglas replies, “What I did tonight is the least Presidential thing I do.”

Killing is never something to be glorified.

What President Trump did last night had nothing to do with being presidential. It had everything to do with being human. Regardless of your politics, we are Americans and do not stand by and watch children’s lungs incinerated in real time while we stand frozen in either ineptitude or fear. We do not make political calculations or take a poll to see what the popular response should be. We aspire to elect people who, in such moments, understand what is at stake and have the personal fortitude to stand and say, “No. Not on my watch.”

I watched a Syrian man interviewed on CNN who had suffered the chemical attack by Assad’s forces and survived. He was thanking President Trump for his action last night. He said it brought hope to the Syrian people who have been pleading for 6 years for some sign of support from the United States. He begged our President not to stop. When the CNN anchor then asked him what he thought of the President’s immigration ban, he said, ‘We do not want to be immigrants. We want safe zones in Syria. We want to live in our own country without being slaughtered.” So much for the anchor’s failed attempt to invite criticism into a moment of praise.

I rest easier tonight not because my President bombed a country and flexed a muscle. I rest easier because he saw those children, as did I, and his heart hurt.  Oh yes, and because last night he said to bullies everywhere, “No. Not on my watch.”                 Carole

Why You Matter

It’s so easy to blame the politicians and the media. It’s always easiest to blame someone, or something, other than ourselves. But the dire situations we find ourselves in, politically and socially, are no one’s fault but our own.

For decades we have turned a blind eye to wrong doing. For those same decades we have become dependent upon, even expected, government to take care of us.  We have abdicated personal responsibility in almost every aspect of our lives for the corners we cut, the white lies we tell, the principles we say we believe in yet neglect to be heard in their defense.

Politicians are not our masters. They are simply individuals in public service who reflect the health or sickness of the society they serve. Our leaders have not been forced upon us. We have stood by and allowed the inept, the dishonest and the corrupt to seek and obtain positions of power. We have willingly enslaved ourselves to them and those who keep them in power.

After 2008, ask almost any trader on Wall Street and they will tell you they saw it coming. They saw it coming but did nothing about it. It was too lucrative. Mortgages and private school tuition had to be paid. Vacations were booked. Cocaine was costly.

It’s easier to go with the flow than swim against the current. Isn’t that always the case? But what happens when the current is carrying you to your destruction? Blame the current…or your unwillingness to fight against it?

A group of boys and young men of various ages, raped a 14-year old girl in Chicago this week and they did it on Facebook. Live. At least 40 people watched it and not one called the police.

It seems like a long way from the banking collapse of 2008 to live rape…but not really. The perpetrators in both cases knew what they were doing was wrong and so did those who watched. It’s a slippery slope when you give up conscience and all that is decent about human behavior; when self-satisfaction is the ultimate goal and any means to getting there is acceptable.

Every day we read about the corruption in Washington and fake news by the media. It’s all a distraction. The real news and what we should care about is how each of us in our daily lives lays another brick in the foundation of cultural destruction as we justify the corners we cut, the blind eyes we turn and the irretrievable and precious time we deny friends and family because we are addicted to our iphones.

It’s never about someone else. It’s always about ourselves. While none of us may have any control over what Washington or the New York Times does, each of us has total control over what we do in our own lives. Where we invest out time, what principles we stand for, what we value all define, in a very literal sense, our immediate world.

You comfort and excuse yourself because you are, after all, just one person and so what can you do?

Last year I moved into a condominium in Austin, Texas. I quickly learned that there was corrupt management that had drained the finances of the community and neglected the maintenance of the structures. I also learned that for 12 years, various homeowners had tried, unsuccessfully, to do something about it. So , everyone had given up and acquiesced to the corruption and neglect.

I spent a year investigating and compiling evidence of both the corruption and the neglect. I uncovered a privileged relationship between certain owners, the Board of Directors included, and the corrupt management company. I presented the findings at association meetings. I endured an organized effort by those involved to discredit me, including being sued, individually, for my efforts. But I  knew that what was occurring was wrong and I was determined to, as Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” In spite of it all I endured.

It took 12 months, several court appearances and all the energy and skill I could muster. But the Board resigned and, as new President of the Board, I fired the corrupt management company. We now have exceptional, new management and a law suit against those who depleted or finances and neglected our physical assets.

Was it hard? About as hard as anything I’ve done in my life. Were there times I thought I could not go on? Absolutely. Was every conceivable effort made to stop me? Yes. So why did I keep at it?

The whole is no more than the sum of our parts. I am a part of my community, my society, my country, my species. If I do no stand for what I know to be right, what hope is there that others will do the same?

It’s never about anyone else. It’s always about ourselves. In humanity, it’s not top down. It’s what we as individuals are willing to put on the line for what we believe in. This is what makes the difference and that is what ultimately defines us.

A Christian Polish woman who fed Jews and kept them alive less than than a mile from a concentration camp was asked, recently, how she came to do the right thing given the behavior of those around her. Her reply was simply, “The righteous didn’t suddenly become righteous. We just refused to go off the cliff with everyone else.”

We are each confronted daily with personal cliffs. Now more so than ever with the rapid pace of technology and the warp speed at which AI is developing. If, in hindsight, you can see why it wasn’t such a long way from 2008 to live rape…wait until you see what’s just around the corner. One voice, one person, one principle upheld can save the world. Remember, the next corner you cut, blind eye you turn, or principle you fail to uphold… could be our last.                Carole

Hacking Trump

Maureen Dowd doesn’t believe in moderation. If she did, she would have written a column about the pitfalls of hubris and the learning curve that is the Presidency. Instead she came after Donald Trump with the literary equivalent of a chainsaw.

Dowd makes certain valid points about the failed process of attempting to “replace” Obamacare this week, for which Trump owns the consequences. But in her haste to take down the President, she is both obvious and unapologetic in her glee to have the opportunity to do so.

Whenever I wrote about then candidate Trump, or now President Trump, I always feel the need to set the stage: I neither supported his candidacy nor voted for him. I restate this all the time because, when finding anything remotely good about him, #nevertrump’ers immediately draw certain conclusions about my political affiliation and agenda. Its a mistake to do so since the assumptions are almost always wrong. I am now a 15 year recovering Democrat and blossoming Libertarian.

Dowd’s scathing column is indicative of a larger problem.

We no longer seem capable of seeing any good what-so-ever in people who have differing opinions from our own. Even more disturbing is the “waiting to pounce” viciousness that erupts at the slightest opportunity to condemn one another for our differences.

Diversity, like “Hope and Change” is nothing more than a bumper sticker unless we find common ground in defining it. Diversity is more than just having a person from each race perfectly positioned, in full camera view, behind a politician’s podium. Its more than making sure that a certain number of minorities are admitted to a university.

Diversity of thought is the cornerstone of a free society and the free expression of ideas is the foundation of a tolerant society. When we find it necessary to destroy, verbally or otherwise, those whose ideas or actions differ from our own, we undermine that foundation.

I am not saying that Donald Trump is a good or bad President. It would be premature to draw a conclusion either way. But while we are busy picking over the carcass, following the withdrawn Congressional vote this past week, like vultures on roadkill…where were the voices, to be quick and on the record, in praise of President Trump for a brilliant and ethical Supreme Court nominee? Those same voices, now front and center like Dowd’s, who wish to seize the moment and “take down” the President were nowhere to be found when credit was, and is, due.

If we, as a nation, were in our right mind (which as of late is dubious at best) we would dismiss the hawkers of polarization and give little consideration to those who are quick to throw the baby out with the bath water. Trump is not perfect. But he is not always wrong, either. I prefer patience and tolerance to the alternatives.

Maureen Dowd and I differ on this. Yet, I can and will say she has written many good and thoughtful columns. This was just not one of them. Such is my ability and willingness to give credit where it is due… and withhold it when it is not. Perhaps we all need to take a refresher course in diversity.                   Carole

“Get Out” – Movie Review

Some horror films have been great in adding a spice of social commentary to the genre. The Stepford Wives was a poignant film about the feminist movement and its male backlash. District 9, which centers around the living conditions of Aliens living on earth really addressed the plight of living conditions for many blacks in South Africa. The latest in this line of cinematic social commentary is Get Out.  It lifts the veil of “post-racial” America to reveal its underlying ugliness. The dialogue is sharp and pointed…culminating in a daring portrait of American society

The story centers around Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, who are going home to meet Rose’s parents for the first time. In any budding romance the trip would be a rite of passage; but, Get Out has an added dimension: Chris is black and Rose is white. While she thinks nothing of the trip but Chris is clearly worried about what her family’s reaction might be.

Upon meeting Chris, her father seems a bit too hip, immediately addressing Chris as “my man” and making sure to point out that he “loved Obama” and “would have voted for Obama for a third term.” The father’s continued efforts to appear “not racist” makes him seem foolish. The mother, a hypnotist, seems unaffected by race but is eager to get her hands on Chris in order to hypnotize him.

The family has two housekeepers, both black. This clearly makes Chris even more uncomfortable. Both of them seem quite out of place, They are extremely subdued in their expressions and attitudes, which seem completely out of place.

Chris’s growing concern throughout the weekend becomes more heightened when a slew of people descend the second day for the family’s annual party. For the most part, the party goers are all white, successful and the take quite a liking to Chris. He is prodded and poked by the guests about typical black stereotypes such as his prowess in bed and his enhanced physical prowess to the point of absurdity.

While the director could have taken the easier and more oft-taken Hollywood route of exposing the racism of rednecks, Christians and Conservatives, he decided to target the underlying bigotry of rich, white liberals. In doing so he has made a bold and original movie. The guests don’t consider themselves racists; but, their incessant comments about how much they like Tiger Woods, Jesse Owens and Barack Obama expose how they view the world along racial lines.

As all of these incidents begin to add up, Chris decides to leave the party. In some ways , Chris’s  experience becomes a sampling of what many Black people experience in their daily lives. But the director isn’t interested in purely making a point, he’s out to make a horror film and he doesn’t disappoint. Chris, by his nature and disposition, calmly and glumly accepts the rampant racism around him before letting his anger take over. NO SPOILER here. But, the film’s combination of racism and control of others is at the heart of this horror movie.

Get Out mentions the presidency of Barack Obama repeatedly and so I want to address the director’s vision of it. Obama was elected, in some ways, as a symbolic gesture to show how far America had come…that we could elect a Black president in a post-racial society. The dialogue in the movie pokes fun at this idea through by the many comments people make about how they voted for Obama and, therefore, can’t be racist.

Some might chuckle and view the comments and message of Get Out as simplistic and far-fetched. In reality they are all too common. A few years ago when I accompanied a rich, white liberal from Boston to meet an Indian client, the head of the financial desk where we worked had to tell the salesman, “For God’s sake Billy don’t tell the client you can relate to him because you saw Slum Dog Millionaire.

Here is the irony: thinking and voting for a candidate because of his color as a testimony to your lack of concern about it. If they (we) were truly color blind, Obama’s policies would have been the deciding factor, not his race. Here is where liberal America fell short while at the other end of the political spectrum even his detractors were afraid of being called racist if  they opposed him on substantive matters.

We were so busy denying racism we made fools of ourselves committing it.

Get Out is a clever movie that speaks to all the subtle forms of racism to which we remain blind and that we dare not mention. In the end, the horror of this horror film is the real, unaddressed discomfort between races and the twisted lengths to which we go to prove it doesn’t exist.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

President Trump’s False Idol

Who someone admires tells you a great deal about them and their guiding principles. It’s why I am so disturbed by President Trump’s admiration for Andrew Jackson.

Jackson was a bully, to put it mildly. He believed in force, physical and otherwise, as a means of exercising power; he bought and sold slaves; he decimated native Americans such that they suffer to this day from the remnants of his policies; he instituted the system of civil patronage positions that remains the bane of our governmental bureaucracy; he punished by way of tariffs; he set himself up as an authoritarian, dictatorial President who destroyed his opposition while accumulating great personal wealth. Andrew Jackson was a bad President who stood for much of what Americans have come to find repugnant.

This is President Trump’s role model of choice?

I was neither for nor against candidate Trump. Mostly, I was appalled that both he and Hilary Clinton were the best we could come up with in a nation of 350 million people. And I posted my perspective, here, more than once. But once elected, I believed that respect for the Office of the Presidency warranted a period of grace to allow for fact-based evaluation of the man’s ability to act in the best interest of the nation. I want our President to succeed at moving the country in a better and more prosperous direction.

I simply don’t want us to achieve that end at any price.

With the disclosure of President Trump’s admiration for Andrew Jackson, I am deeply concerned that the price we may pay for more “prosperity” will be an almost total disregard for what originally made America great: the throwing off of the yoke of privilege, the rejection of kingship and the adherence to a system of checks and balances that made public servants accountable to each other and the People.

In 2016, enough of the country was desperate for a new direction and the resurrection of national pride that we voted into office a man who was unapologetically in support of both. But desperation causes people to act without first thinking through the ramifications of their choosing. Similarly, in 2008, half the country wanted Barack Obama as President but did not care what his guiding principles were, either. They bought a slogan “Hope and Change” without questioning what change meant to the individual touting it.

Words can mean different things to different people and actions based upon those differing definitions have corresponding consequences.

Candidate Trump promised to “Make America Great Again”; but, greatness can be defined differently depending upon your vantage point and the use of one’s greatness depends upon one’s guiding principles.

Andrew Jackson defined greatness as a means to decimate, control and bestow favor based upon his personal predilections, prejudices and lust for control and personal wealth. He is an astonishingly poor choice for a role model.

It is unlikely that now, having gone public with his admiration for Jackson and recent laying of a wreath at Jackson’s gravesite, that President Trump will change his mind about who he venerates. So it is now the job of us, the citizenry, to keep a close vigil upon our President’s definition of greatness as well as his use of the means at his disposal for getting us there.  It is just possible for the price of “greatness” to be more than the nation can afford to pay.

The Pope and Polarization

Polarization is not a political problem.  It is a human one.

As this nation turns into something just short of “armed camps” against one another… black vs. white; rich vs poor; left vs. right; Republican vs. Democrat; Trump vs. #NeverTrump; straight vs. LGBT etc., there is its global counterpart. Russia vs. the U.S.; Democracy vs Socialism; Muslim vs. Christian and now, the old canard and ultimate absurdity…the New Testament vs the Old Testament (the Torah).

In Italy, there is growing concern with the Pope’s use of verbiage and catch phrases that harken back to a time that preceded the progress made in closing the gap between Christianity and its predecessor, Judaism.

Rabbi Giuseppe Laras, the former chief rabbi of Milan, has written an open letter to the Pope expressing what he and many others have been feeling about statements by the Pope.

“The biblical dichotomy between Old and New Testaments, Laras argues, signals “the resumption of the old polarization between the morality and theology of the Hebrew Bible and of Pharisaism, and Jesus of Nazareth and the Gospels.”

The rabbi also underscored the Church’s “embracing of Islam, which is all the stronger as the Christian side is more critical toward Judaism, now including even the Bible and biblical theology.” He also identified an undercurrent “of resentment, intolerance, and annoyance on the Christian side toward Judaism.”

How absurd it is that religious belief and the institutions it has spawned, should become the disseminators of the disease of polarization. Polarization spawns fear of the “other” and it is this fear which allows the few to remain in control by pledging to dominate, control or eradicate the opposing force.

Power by the few over the many is as old as recorded human history. And for all that time there has been a yearning by individuals to throw off the yoke of such control and live as we were created to live: sovereign and autonomous.

Yet, when so many aspects of our global persona are at figurative and literal war with one another, we have lost our inherent sense of oneness and succumbed to the manipulators of fear. Our misperception is what enables them to continue their control.

Only with the realization that whether it be by governmental or religious institutions, no human being was ever created to be held captive by or subservient to another…will we be set free. Only by refusing to be manipulated into intolerance of others to the point that their mere existence becomes the basis for our fears and the justification for our hatreds…will our eyes be opened to truth of oneness.

I respect the right of anyone to choose a path to God other than the one I choose. What I do not respect are religious leaders who use their bully pulpits to spread a political or biased agenda that moves people in the direction of slavery to antiquated thinking.

There are no secrets to power. There is only each individual’s awakening to the truth of free will, which is much more than a religious precept. It is the right of every human being to think for themselves and, by so doing, create a world where creativity trumps control and where polarization is an extinct concept replaced with tolerance.

There is but one unifying principle and one testament:  Love.

Carole

How Informed Are You?

If you are a news junkie like me, you tend to think you know the issues. But I know this is not true. Because for many of the news stories I read, I know I am only getting a sliver of the truth.To really understand any issue takes time.

In college I read hundreds of books on military history, politics and government policy and I thought I had a basic understanding of how U.S government policy worked but I quickly realized I did not know much when I entered the Marine Corps. It was there that my true formal education began on how international affairs functioned.

I spent four years on active duty as a Marine Corps Officer and most of that time was spent in the middle east. It was there working hand and  hand with our allies did I truly begin to understand how things operated. I noticed a  huge disconnect between what I saw and read in the media an what actually took place on the ground. What I discovered to be true was that the media had a story line, a narrative to write- and looked for things to fit that story wether it was true or not.

In one particular instance, our units were in Kuwait and a reporter wanted access to one of the units in the battalion. The reporter tried to bully the Marines to get what she wanted but was stopped by one of the company commanders. He called her a lying and deceitful journalist and she slinked away not to get her story. I later found out that the company commander was well aware of her news reports and her many fabrications and he would not allow her access as he felt she would just lie about what she saw.

Later when I worked in finance, again the things I saw and lived were quite different than the way things were reported. This was most apparent during the banking crisis in 2008 when the banks were taken to task for the risks they took and the abhorrent mismanagement of their institutions. Yet the media also failed to tell the other side of the story that the root of the housing crisis was the Community Reinvestment Act which forced banks to make loans to the poorest of communities lest they lose their banking license. Most of these loans went bad and then the government sued these banks for making these predatory loans.

Even in the online space, what you are shown is also edited. When I left Wall Street and started to work in the technology space in lead generation, I became quiet adapt at Search Engine Optimization. S.E.O as it is better known is simply optimizing the content on your site so that the search engines can find you. All of the search engines have said that they reward good content as it makes their jobs easier as it lets people find the most relevant sites. But when my sites started getting ranked on the 1st page of  Google, Bing etc, I would notice within weeks my sites would be dropped into the nethers of the net. What happened? Business plain and simple. Since my sites were being found by users, there was no need for me to advertise my sites with the search engines, so they moved me out of the top spot. The point being even in the online world, know that the search engines are not necessarily showing you the most relevant sites but rather the ones that make the most economic sense to them.

But we have entered now has truly become scary.News sites are becoming smarter and smarter at feeding you things for you to click on. And as you click on the articles, the sites learn. So the next time you go that site, they feed you more of the same. Many sites are now so customized that two people might access the same site and see totally different content. This is being done to maximize the time on site and advertising dollars. In the end I might think I am informed on an issue only to realize I am only being shown only a small subset of the content.

Part of the great divide over Trumps presidency is just the sheer unbelief by many that he got elected. For them, all of their friends, news stories and cable shows all said it was impossible for him to win. In their world they were right. They could not believe it because they could not see it. They did not see the other news sites showing how well Trump was doing and the real possibility of him winning.

This is the real danger of the digital age, the continued  segmenting of audiences to maximize revenue. But what is being lost is the truth and a common ground that we can all relate to.

 

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

Mexico And The Border Wall

Given all the discussions about the border wall to be built, it is amazing to see how many people are up in arms about the idea. The border is just a line that demarcates one piece of land from another. In reality a difference in a few miles should mean very little, but the fact is that border means a lot.

That little plot of land that separates two countries in reality separates two ideas, two ideologies. Those differences in thoughts that get transmuted into laws and systems of governance have profound affects. Don’t believe me, go into any border town that separates Mexico and the Unites States and you can see with your own eyes what I mean. The contrast is stark. On one side of the border you have 50 million people living in poverty, while on the other side you have massive wealth.

All countries in the world have a border. And if you have ever travelled for any length of time you will notice that at every country that you enter there is a border agent to check you in. The fact is most countries worldwide realize it is good policy to see who enters your country.

The current upheaval in Europe is due to large part of the mass immigration from foreign countries without any proper vetting.Germany and many of the other European  countries have allowed millions of immigrants into their country with mindsets and religious outlooks completely different than their host country. They have let in millions of people into  countries that they do not respect or want to assimilate into. The only reason they are there is because the economic prospects in their own country is worse.

I lived in Australia in the late 90’s and one of their major concerns was illegal immigration. Given the land mass is as big as the U.S but with only a fraction of the population, 20 million at the time, many Australians were very afraid of losing their culture via illegal immigration. The Australians knew that small changes in their country could potentially have devastating changes on their cultural and political landscape. They knew their “Australian Culture” could be wiped out if they did not assimilate the new immigrants into Australian culture.

So yes it is important to vet people that come into your country. No sane country wants to bring in criminals, terrorists, or the infirmed into their country. It is irresponsible and reckless to do so. In addition it is equally risky to bring in people into your country who will never assimilate our contribute to the well being of the country.

Many of the planned proposals being offered by Trump seem sane and reasonable but for many on the left, the whole notion of restricting immigration has people up in arms especially as it relates to Mexico. But even Mexico does not have an open border policy when it comes to immigration. For example here are some of the Mexican immigration laws:

  • immigration authorities have a record of each foreign visitor
  • foreign visitors do not violate their visa status;
  • foreign visitors are banned from interfering in the country’s internal politics;
  • foreign visitors who enter under false pretenses are imprisoned or deported;
  • foreign visitors violating the terms of their entry are imprisoned or deported;
  • those who aid in illegal immigration will be sent to prison.

So even Mexico which has no problem exporting their people to the rest of the world is very conscious of vetting people who want to come into their country.

The reason that Mexico exports so many people is because the country is a mess.  Currently one out of four Mexicans now live in the U.S. With a country of over 120 million people , 50% of the people live in poverty.  The economic policies in Mexico just do not help its people. Even after N.A.F.T.A which now has 60 billion dollar trade deficit with the U.S.- all this money that has flowed into Mexico has not helped the average Mexican.

The question always asked me the media and the immigrant rights groups is how it possible that the U.S can be so cruel to the plight of these Mexicans? But the question remains why isn’t this same question asked of the Mexican government? Why is the Mexican government not asked how can they be so cruel to their own citizens that they would allow half of its population to live below the poverty line and allows 25% of its population to live overseas?

The fact is Mexico exports its poor and oppressed to the U.S which finds them employment. The Mexicans who live outside the country then in turn  remit over 20 billion a year  back to Mexico. Even with all of this money coming back to the country, Mexico still can’t raise its people out of poverty.

Where is the outrage! Mexico fix your country! If you fixed your country your people would not leave.

I have met many Mexicans who would have gladly stayed in Mexico if there was more opportunity. Many of these poor people who come here  are so desperate that they are willing to trek through the desert risking their lives for the chance of a better life. In addition many come here not knowing the language and essentially are living in a culture where they can’t even read or write English.

The fact is the Mexican economy is so bad that the people have simply given up. They believe their government is ineffective and corrupt. When I see illegal Mexican immigrants protesting against the U.S. for its immigration policies, it makes me cringe. The outrage is misplaced. They should be screaming at their own elected officials, not ours.

Since they are not citizens here , they have no rights. They are protesting against people who have no connection to them nor do they represent them. If they attacked and demonstrated as loudly as they do here maybe their leaders would have enacted policies to help them.

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com

We Are Broke

We are broke. The nation is broke.

The national debt is at twenty trillion and counting. That number does not even include all of the additional unfunded liabilities which, when included, add trillions more.

For the most part know, the average person knows nothing of this. We live in an era where we are told to carry on and move forward as if this mind-numbing debt means nothing.  Most of the stories being reported today are about the overreach and abuse Donald Trump is inflicting on America through proposed cuts; but, the fact is many of these cuts are desperately necessary and overdue.

This same scenario played out a few years back in New Jersey. There, governor after governor used taxpayer funds to aid public sector unions. When Chris Christie became governor and began changing policies that affected many of these programs, there was tremendous backlash accompanied by calls to throw him out of office.  Christie responded in a speech before the state legislature as follows: “Year after year governors have lied to you, administrators have lied to you; but, when I come in to tell you the truth about the status of the states finances, I become the bad guy. Shouldn’t the people who lied to you for years be treated as the bad guys and not me?”

Trump has been given the unenviable task of governing a nation completely buried in debt. He said he plans to cut many government programs because of the debt and, predictably, the Left is outraged. Some of the programs rumored to be cut are:

  • National Endowment for the Arts (eliminated entirely)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities (eliminated entirely)
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting (privatized)
  • The Minority Business Development Agency (eliminated entirely)
  • The Economic Development Administration (eliminated entirely)
  • The International Trade Administration (eliminated entirely)
  • The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (eliminated entirely)
  • The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (eliminated entirely)
  • Violence Against Women Grants (eliminated entirely)

What’s most fascinating about the Left’s outrage is how it sees the role of government. The Left argues that the monies the government generates from tax revenues should be spend it wherever there is a need. For example, for the Left, many rural communities only have access to the arts through government grants given to local artists.  Therefore, spending government money on this is a worthy cause.

For those who are politically Right or Libertarian these programs as wasteful. The government’s role in society should be safety (the police), strong defense (border security, and enforcement of laws (courts and contracts). The Right does not, or cannot, understand the outrage in response to Trump’s attempt to de-fund many programs because, again, the government should not be funding these projects in the first place

Take for example Public Radio…commonly known as NPR. Taxpayers fund this network even though today technology provides us with radio, satellite radio, streaming radio  and podcasts.  You would think there would be no complaint about cutting NPR radio given the multitude of readily available and easily accessible resources. The market would not miss NPR because there are enough alternatives existing elsewhere.

Similarly, public television. We live in an age where people are daily cutting and limiting  their subscriptions to cable companies because there are so many other ways to access this medium. Apple TV, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu are leading the charge into this world of “on demand” customized content. In addition, free media is available all over the net these days… especially with sites like YouTube which provides free access to all of its content.  So, again, in a day where T.V is ubiquitous, why do we still need the government involved?

Finally, do any of these programs matter at all when you have no money or capacity to pay for it?. Has the public lost its collective mind and sensibility?  The nation is broke. Even if we saw a need for it, we no longer have the ability to pay for it. 

Doesn’t it logically and rationally follow that there is the need for cuts?  The same way a family will cut back when it needs to tighten its financial belt, the government should as well.

Ronald Reagan once quipped there are only a few certainties in life: death, taxes and a government program. Donald Trump is beginning to realize how hard its going to be to cut funding or eliminate these programs. For many in the private sector, industries grow and die all the time. For the displaced, they have to learn new skills and adapt to meet the needs of the marketplace to find work again. Only in government does this natural process fail to occur. Good ties…bad times…government jobs are forever.

This is the reason for the outrage.

A government job is about as good as it gets. A steady paycheck and no competition.  Its why all of the private suppliers who sell to the government are upset with the new changes. They know all too well the best client in the world is the U.S government.

We are long overdue for a reality check and cuts in the public sector…now made more pressing because we no longer have the ability to pay for unnecessary programs.

As with Chris Christie, should we be mad at Donald Trump for exposing the cuts that need to be made or the politicians who lied to us for years about the status of the country’s finances. Shakespeare had it right. Read your Henry V.

“Don’t shoot the messenger.”

 

Steve

sleeclark@gmail.com