American Business Has Become New Federal Government

I can remember a time, not too long ago, when my peers were very upset with federal employees and a large bureaucratic, inept federal government.  Today, businesses in America have become the new federal government.  Of course, the federal government is still as incompetent as it ever was, but now businesses have become just like the government.

How can that be?  Well, I suppose those pods we saw the government leave on the doorsteps of businesses could be the answer.  But my better judgment tells me that American society and business is on the decline… and a rather steep one at that… perhaps like falling off a cliff.

If you contact a business today by telephone or email or on line, you will find a bureaucratic process in front of you.  Typically, the process is so inept and filled with “glitches” in the system that were never ironed out before presenting it for public consumption, that you will give up after the first hour.  And some say that this is by design.  The companies know that if they set up a difficult communication system, then a majority of their customers will not take the time to break through the barriers.

In effect, customer service of today’s businesses is exactly like the service still offered by the federal government – non-existent.  Let me give you an example.  I attempted to contact a business the other day and after several minutes of letting the system know I wanted to communicate in English and finally getting a “representative,” somebody answered the phone with a foreign accent, who was obviously struggling to speak English.  Neither of us could understand each other, so I asked for a supervisor.  The supervisor had the same accent and same difficulty in talking to me.  I think I am going to study Spanish so that I can actually communicate with somebody.

I am retired, so I am fortunate to have so many hours to waste on waiting for somebody to get back with me.  When I go online, they indicate that they will get back with me in two to three business days.  After the fourth business day, I go online again and send them another message, and they tell me that they will get back with me about “not getting back with me” in two to three business days.  And this goes on and on without end.

If you are lucky enough to get to a “representative” who speaks clear English, they will not know how to help you.  The businesses either don’t train these employees or the employees cannot be trained.  Actually, it is probably a little of both.

I was talking to one young lady about signing up for a business program and she told me that I first had to register and then I could apply.  I was fine with that.  She spent about fifteen minutes registering me and then told me that I had to call back to apply for the program.  Since I already had spent thirty minutes waiting to get to a “representative,” I asked her why I had to call back.  She said that was what she had always done.  I asked her why she couldn’t just enter all the information she had for my registration into the application?  There was a long pause.  Finally, she said, “Well, I guess that would be easier for both of us.”  She did it within less than a minute and all I could say was, “Omigod!  What has happened to American business?”

American business has become the new federal government.  It is just as incompetent and bureaucratic as our government.

Remember the Past to Protect Our Future

Welcome veterans and active duty to our Memorial Day program … “Remember the Past to Protect our Future.”  This is your day.  You and all the fallen warriors are to be honored this afternoon.

How many of us in here today know how much freedom is worth?  I think all of us have our own idea.  It’s probably like that ad you see on TV when you learn that something is priceless.

We are honoring veterans from WWII and the Korean War, fought by a generation known as “The Greatest Generation.”  Would those veterans please stand or, if you cannot, please raise your hands.  These GI’s didn’t want recognition, but they were willing to die in the fields with their band of brothers to protect our fragile freedom.  They made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, but wanted nothing in return except to know that they were making America safe and free for their children and grandchildren.  Thank you (applause).

We also are honoring veterans from the Vietnam War, fought by “The Marred and Scarred Generation.”  Would those veterans please stand.  The stories that you  heard about these veterans returning home and being spit on by fellow Americans are true.

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was a problem both over the pond and back home as these warriors received a double whammy as they were shot at in Vietnam and then came home to unwelcoming arms.  Our freedom cost these veterans more than most.   Hopefully, this program today can help bring you peace, knowing that this audience greatly appreciates what you did for your country.  Thank you (applause).

We are also honoring veterans who served in the Middle East.  Would those veterans please stand.  You stood tall in serving your country in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.  You know that freedom came at a cost as you watched your fellow-soldiers crash to the ground, bleeding on foreign sands.

You know that America was at the top of its game in the First Gulf War.  President Bush stated the goal of getting the Iraqis out of Kuwait, and he gave this singular assignment to the military to get the job done, which they did after losing several hundred soldiers against the fourth largest army in the world at that time.  This may have been America at her best in wartime.  But any loss of life was a high price to pay, but these heroes never complained.  Thank you (applause).

We also want to honor those active duty military who are here today.  You keep us safe at home, while fighting on foreign soil.  Would you please stand to be honored.  Thank you (applause).

Finally, we veterans want to thank the First Responders… those policemen and firemen from our communities who serve and protect our families when we are overseas.  Are there any policemen, firemen, paramedics, or family members here today?  We want to thank you since you stand tall every day serving your country in a different way.  Your comrades have also died saving lives.  You know the cost is very high, but you do it just the same.  Thank you again (applause).

Please give a standing ovation to all these great American heroes.

As I said, the presentation today is:  “Remember the Past to Protect our Future.”  Quite frankly, I borrowed this idea from Confucius who said: “Study the past if you would define the future.”  In effect, if you learn from the past, you may avoid prior mistakes and build a brighter future.

However, you needn’t dig up our peaceful past and study it, because times of peace are not as valuable in forecasting our future.  Of course, peaceful times are important, and analyzing these periods can show changes and patterns, but they typically don’t help us in protecting our future.  Why?  Because hard times present the true challenges to our integrity and beliefs.  It is easy to support your beliefs in peacetime, but it is more difficult if somebody is shooting at you because you support those beliefs.

The older generation generally worries about the younger generation losing moral ground.  Decade after decade, older generations shake their heads and wonder what the future will be like with the younger generation in charge.  Elvis, the Beatles, acid rock, heavy metal, punk rock, and rap made older generations think that each succeeding generation was worse than the last.  History tells us that moral values deteriorate more during peace time, so one theory is that America’s loss of values occurred during decades when either there was peace or no war on our soil, much like what led to the fall of the Roman Empire.

On the other hand, the younger generations thought the older generations were in the way of progress… their progress, and should not be trusted after age 30.  But these past events probably will not matter that much in the future scheme of things.

It is wars and hard times that seem to matter the most.  We must remember and study past wars and depressions and revolutions in order to protect our future.  Analyze how we made it through those hard times.  How did we survive the tough tests of life?  Remember that saying:  “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”?

These difficult times typically had battle lines drawn by two major forces:  (1) self-serving interests and (2) community-serving interests.  And we need to study the past so that we can ensure that community-serving powers overcome and are never controlled by self-serving interests in the future.

The bottom line for the past is summarized in a question:  Were the generations that went through those hard times willing to die for their country?  In other words, were they willing to die for what they believed was the right thing?

Then the most important question for future generations will be:  will they be willing to die for their country?  In other words, will they first believe in something and secondly will they be willing to die for those beliefs?

Some of you might argue that younger generations form their moral codes and beliefs in times of peace, so that peace is an important time to analyze their development or lack thereof.  Even though this is true to a certain extent, the hard times are much more important for analyzing the human spirit.  I have seen criminals and nere-do-wells change into powerful leaders during hard times.

Just because people appear to have no backbone or moral standards in peaceful times does not mean they will not fight for their freedom to the death.  In fact, terrorists are examples of young people who will die for a cause.  But there is a significant difference between dying for your personal beliefs and dying for somebody else’s beliefs that have been imprinted in your brain.  But I will save the discussion on brainwashing for a little later in the presentation.

Let’s first analyze WWII.  We were very lucky that two self-serving interests, Hitler’s right-wing totalitarian society and Stalin’s left-wing totalitarian society, did not prevail against our Band of Brothers.  So how did the community-serving side win the war?

To answer that, I will rely on my dad’s experiences.  I remember waking up in my early years with my dad screaming because of his nightmares from WWII.  My dad served in combat under General George Patton for almost three years.  Let me repeat that.  He was shot at for almost three years.  So, he knew the answer as to why we won the war.

He told me that we won because of the “DC rule.”  The DC rule is when the leaders in Washington DC are finally motivated to Delegate and Cooperate.  The generals in the Pentagon delegated decision-making powers to the soldiers in the field, while Hitler demanded that no troop movements be made without his approval.  The Band of Brothers then cooperated by making excellent tactical decisions, while the Nazis waited for a self-serving dictator to tell them what to do.  We need to focus on what is best for our community and not on selfish pursuits in order to protect our future.

The Korean War was more of the same.  The selfish totalitarian forces of China and North Korea lost out to the powerful teams of soldiers formed through delegation and cooperation, working together to defeat a common enemy.

The Vietnam War showed us what happens when selfish interests overpower community interests.  The American soldiers were never given the green light to do what they needed to do to win the war.  Politicians held them back based on their self-serving interests.  There was no delegation and cooperation.

But we learned from our mistakes.  In the First Gulf War in 1991, Papa Bush as President told the military to remove the Iraqis from Kuwait.  He then delegated that mission to the military, allowing them to do their jobs.  America cooperated with many other countries.  With United Nations Security Council sanctions, we formed a coalition of 34 countries, including eight Arab countries, to remove the Iraqi army from Kuwait.  At that time, the Iraqis had the fourth largest Army in the world with the vaunted Republican Guard, which had over eight years of experience fighting the Iranian army.

Since the Iraqi army had the advantage of being dug into solid defensive positions, we expected to lose about two to three times as many soldiers as the Iraqis would in the ground warfare.  As it turned out, we only lost 148 troops, while the enemy had 20,000 to 35,000 killed in action.  That was amazing.

What made for this unbelievable result?  Primarily, it was because of Delegation and Cooperation.  Our military made decisions in the field while the Iraqis waited for guidance from Hussein.  We also were patient and waited until we had built up worldwide support to remove the Iraqis from Kuwait.

We also cooperated by following international law or the Law of War, which is the civilized rules for fighting a war.  One of the important rules of war is that you should minimize civilian casualties.  Hussein ignored this rule and it hurt him on the international front and in the press.  Hussein just plain didn’t care, so he used civilians as human shields for his military and he placed his military in schools.  How do you think we handled this?  We bombed the military at night after the school day was over.

Did you ever wonder why President Bush didn’t go into Baghdad and oust Hussein?  Many in America thought it was the right thing to do, but this was based on American selfish interests and not the needs of the communities in the Gulf to maintain stability in the region.  Bush, who had many years of international experience, including being Director of the CIA, knew Hussein’s value in Iraq was that he controlled the diverse and fractionalized religions and cultures.  If you removed Hussein, the area would become a powder keg.  Iraq also was the neutralizer of Iranian power in the region.

Bush knew that the international community and coalition forces had agreed to remove Hussein from Kuwait, and to go further than that would have been a violation of international law.  You can only secure your military objective and you have to stop.  If you go beyond your military objective, then you are in violation of the Law of War, which has not only international implications, but also carries sanctions.

If we had not followed international law, we could not have maintained the fragile coalition.  If President Bush had gone into Iraq attempting to oust Hussein, he would have been going beyond the military objective.  To go after Hussein would have been a breach of international law.  Bush was experienced enough to know the consequences of that.

“Didn’t have to do it.  Didn’t have to go to Baghdad.  Only had to get ‘em outta Kuwait.  Did it and did it quick.  Followed the rules.  Followed the law.” 

In my mind, Papa Bush was the best war president we ever had.  He knew the national security interest, announced the goal, and then stood back and let the military do its job.  And the military did its job extremely well, always following the law.

I served as a JAG in both the Army and the Air Force during the wars in the Middle East.  JAGs and military attorneys were even used to examine the targets to avoid violations of the Law of War.  As an example, these attorneys told Gen. Colin Powell and Secretary of War Dick Cheney that they could not bomb a triumphal arch in Baghdad because it was a cultural object just like the Washington Monument.  Powell and Cheney were not happy and shook their heads that attorneys were running the war, but they scratched this target from the bomb list.

International law is that important in cooperating in the world today.  As an example, Bush’s son did not fare as well as his dad did in understanding international law.  When he used water boarding at Guantanamo and other torture at Abu Ghraib, he probably was in violation of international law.  We lost world respect and, more importantly, fiscal and physical support and cooperation from other countries.

I taught the CNN Test to the pilots who were going into war environments.  I told them to see if the targets passed the CNN Test.  In other words, how would that target look on the news the next day?  For example, we advised Gen. Powell not to bomb a statue of Hussein because it was a cultural object and did not have much military necessity… not enough to risk getting a CNN story about how our pilots risked their lives to bomb a statue.  The media supported the First Gulf War and it was used very effectively to obtain worldwide support.

By issuing general orders and delegating the details to your troops in the field, you enable soldiers to think outside the box.  I worked in the Pentagon and I believe that most of the people I worked with thought that thinking outside the box was coming up with new excuses for not coming to work.  And when you did run into people who thought outside the box, they were still touching the box.

One of my favorite Pentagon stories involved one of those meetings with all the big whigs and mukety mucks and the big brass.  And at this meeting, the generals were handing out new emergency plans to evacuate the building in case of any emergency.  After the meeting, I took the map and followed the directions right into a dead end.  The staffers who had prepared the map had not actually walked the course.  They based it on the old blueprint.  To me walking the course is not even thinking outside the box.  It is just simply thinking.  You should at least get out of your office and check out the course before handing it out to people.

It is interesting.  When you place bureaucrats in the field to face hard times, assuming that you can ever get them there, they actually think differently.  They quickly get outside the box and start thinking much clearer as bullets are whizzing and bombs are bursting around them.  War is surrealistic.  It makes people think and sometimes makes them think differently.

I served in four military services over four decades.  Let’s go back in time to the early 1960’s when John Kennedy was president.  I started my service in the Viet Nam war.  It was a difficult war for those of us in the military and also for those who were at home.  President John Kennedy first sent our troops into Viet Nam as trainers.

“I uh, was not certain that we were doing the right thing, but I couldn’t just stand idly by and allow the communists to overrun the country.  So, I sent small military teams over there to train the Vietnamese to fight.”

The Viet Nam war continued and we sent more and more soldiers overseas, but our leaders would not allow the military to do what they needed to do to make it a short and victorious war.  President Lyndon Johnson took most of the heat for the political bureaucracy that bogged down the military.

“Mah fellow Americans.  I come to you tonight with a heavy heart.  Ah think it’s that dadburned chili I ate.  I want you to know that ah nevah lied to you about Viet Nam.  I may have kidded you a lil’ bit, but ah nevah lied to you.”  

I remember when we finally pulled out of Nam, our military leaders met with the Viet Cong and angrily told them that we had won every battle that we fought with them.  The Viet Cong leaders quietly told them, “Yes, but that was irrelevant.”  The point is that you have to think differently than the selfish bureaucratic leaders in order to win the war.  You can even win all the battles, but if the leaders in DC don’t delegate and cooperate, you can still lose the war.  President Richard Nixon finally brought our troops back home.

“Let me say this about that.  I was the one who brought our boys home.  Give me credit for that.  You may kick tricky Dicky around for other things, but I brought our troops home from Nam.”

I remember President Jimmy Carter was on the television show, “What’s My Line?” when he was Governor of Georgia, and the panel didn’t know who he was.  He was elected president a short time later.  His inexperience hurt him when he tried to deal with the Iranian hostage situation.  It was another failure to delegate and cooperate.

“Hidy, hidy.  I relied on experts around me, but I didn’t have many experts with military experience.  I had served with the Navy, but not in combat.  I wanted to work things out with the Iatolla, but I had to learn the hard way that you can’t negotiate with fundamentalists.  I did better with Sadat and Begin because I learned to delegate and cooperate.”

And it is not a matter of Republicans vs. Democrats.  Unfortunately, both parties carry bad and selfish records into wartime efforts.  Both Bill Clinton and George Bush, the son, did not understand or appreciate international law.  First, Bill Clinton.

“Hillary, have you seen the latest polls?  I want to find out if I need to take more military action in Bosnia and Serbia today.”

Presidential decisions should not be made based on public opinion.  Decisions should be based on protecting national security interests while complying with international law.  Gen. Colin Powell, recommended allowing the European powers to handle the problems in former Yugoslavia because America had no national security interest involved.  We should have delegated and cooperated with other countries.  Clinton got America involved in the Bosnian-Serbian war based on opinion polls and not America’s national security.  Presidents must be civil servants protecting our national interests, not securing votes for the next election, a selfish interest.

Next, George W. Bush.

“Those are evildoers out there in Iraq.  They tried to kill my daddy!”

Presidential decisions to attack a country cannot be based on emotion or a personal vendetta.  Again, these decisions must be based on national security interests while in full compliance with international law.

After 9/11, Bush went on the offensive in Afghanistan going after the terrorists.  That was a reasonable response to the bombing of the Twin Towers.  It was similar to a policeman’s “hot pursuit” policy when chasing a criminal into another jurisdiction.  We definitely had a national security interest at stake, and the international community understood our response and considered it appropriate.  But we should always have an exit plan.  We need to get in and then get out.  The longer you stay, like in Vietnam, the worse it gets.

But what was our national security interest in invading Iraq?  There were several reasons given:  (1) Hussein was an evil dictator, (2) Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, (3) Iraq needed democracy, (4) terrorists were being protected in Iraq, and (5) Iraq was one of the countries in the Axis of Evil.

I don’t really need to talk about any of these because they were all distortions of the reality of Iraq’s role in the Middle East.  No matter what you thought of Hussein, Iraq was a great counterbalance to dangerous fundamentalists in Iran.  By removing Hussein, we allowed both Iraq and Iran to become a serious threat to peace in the Middle East and to our national security.

It’s really not an issue about which party you belong to, but it is an issue about following the path of what is best for our community or nation.  Sometimes, the two-party system creates two extreme positions, neither of which is helpful for our country.

I was raised in downtown Louisville in the 1950’s.  It was a time for the Jets and Sharks.  Gangs were a way of life.  I remember that those gang members who were extremists never became leaders of the gang.  The leaders were assertive, but not aggressive.  Whether you are fighting in a gang or as a soldier in a war, if you are aggressive, you will get yourself and your friends killed.  The best leaders in war are assertive.

I remember my dad telling me that the new soldiers were ignored because most of them were too aggressive and would get themselves and anybody around them killed.  The combat hardened soldiers took their time and never jumped into the fire.  They were assertive, but not aggressive.  They actually adopted an approach to war that avoided aggressive, self-interest actions, but focused on group-assertive activities.

If your friends pressure you to take an extreme position, do you conform or do you think for yourself?   If your boss tells you to do something that is illegal, do you do it?  If you join a terrorist group and you strap a bomb to your back and blow yourself up, did you do this because it conformed to your belief or was it somebody else’s belief?  Generally, the terrorist leaders who instruct followers to blow themselves up, rarely strap any bombs on themselves.

An experiment was conducted at a university using students being directed by a person in authority telling them to administer shocks to test students.  Initially, it was thought that about 1% of the students would actually shock their fellow students under the direction of an authority figure.  They weren’t under duress or offered money, it was just simply somebody telling them what to do.  It turned out that 65% of them shocked the other students, even to the point of causing severe pain.  And the painful sounds made by their fellow students didn’t deter them.  Of course the students receiving the shock were hidden behind a screen and were only faking it, but the students administering the electric current didn’t know that.

The actions taken at Abu Ghraib and at Guantanamo Bay were based on instructions from above.  Nobody questioned the authority from above.  These were Americans torturing people in violation of international law.

During the McCarthy hearings and during the witch trials and during the rules of Stalin and Hitler, most people did nothing to stop these extremist positions.  You may be afraid of consequences to yourself if you say anything, but the worst consequences are from doing nothing.  Do you think Hitler would have stopped with the Communists?  With the Jews?  With the Catholics?  With the Protestants?  You can keep silent until your group comes up for annihilation.

When I worked with Exxon, I made a two-hour Power-Point presentation to the president.  After it was over and questions had been answered, the President asked, “Is there any way I can do nothing?”  And that’s what he decided to do.  And by doing nothing, there were environmental consequences.  Yet, I was the only one in the meeting who spoke up.  If others had said something, he might have actually done something.

An 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke believed, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”  How many times have we done nothing after we saw that something was wrong?

Many politicians are self-serving, doing nothing for their constituents.  It’s very difficult finding politicians who are more interested in doing the right thing than in getting elected and then re-elected, but hopefully they will come forward, especially if times get really bad.

Many people today are like the politicians… out to serve themselves.  But if times get tough, I wonder if Americans will take action to defend our beliefs.  If we recall the past things that awakened America, Pearl Harbor and the Twin Towers come to mind.  These were actions that awakened the sleeping giant.

I see where military bases have stepped up their security since ISIS is taking actions in the United States.  I believe that at some point, ISIS will awaken the sleeping giant.  It may be an attack at a mall or an elementary school, but there will be a line that they will cross that will bring out the Hulk in America.  ISIS will go too far and awaken America from its slumber just like Pearl Harbor and the Twin Towers did.  And when it does… watch out!  When these tough times reach our soil, that is when I believe young and old Americans will unite against the enemy.  As we transition from peace to war, the genetics in Americans that is found in our ancestors who were tough immigrants and hard-core pioneers will reappear in an independent spirit of America.

When we reach that point, we will need to be smart.  We need to follow the past recipe for success:  “DC” – delegate and cooperate.  The political leaders in DC need to delegate the details to the military and law enforcement officials, who then need to share information and cooperate in a coordinated attack.  It might even be our cells against their cells, as we form Terrorist Tactical Teams throughout the United States combining specialists from federal, state, and local levels for the teams.  And all the different agencies must share information and cooperate.

Should the Federal Government Be Turned Over to Local Governments?

America can still be saved by turning over much of the federal government to the state, city, and country governments.  The primary reason is because the federal government is broken and cannot be fixed.  There are three major problems.

One.  Morale among federal employees is at a record low.  The 2014 annual survey showed that only about half of the federal employees were satisfied with their jobs.  About 72% of the private sector employees were satisfied.  Younger federal employees are even less satisfied because they have to work for incompetent older employees and promotions are not based on merit.

Two.  Our federal government is not innovative and does not offer incentives for employees who are creative.  The Partnership for Public Service’s innovation index score is the lowest it has ever been.  Typically, old guard leadership in the federal government fears new approaches which could make them look incompetent.  These leaders do not have the confidence to welcome new ideas because they believe they will erode their power.

Three.  Customer satisfaction with federal services is at the lowest it has been since 2007.  The American Customer Satisfaction Index indicated that only 64.4 percent of the government’s customers were satisfied with the results.  Any business with this low customer satisfaction would not be able to stay in business.  Part of the problem is that federal employees don’t even know who their customer is.  When asked, they will tell you their customers are:  (1) supervisors, (2) department heads, (3) Senior Executive Service positions, (4) other federal agencies, (5) the executive branch, and (6) the citizens who request assistance.  They never say the American taxpayer is their client and yet that is who is paying them for their services.  The bottom line is that federal employees are generally motivated to satisfy their leaders in order to advance their careers.  “Careerism” is much more important than customer service.

The federal government is broken beyond repair because the system protects itself from repairs.  Even though the federal leadership is poor, the system is the problem.  The only way to remedy this defect is to minimize the damage it is doing to our country.  Transfer the powers and budget for the federal government to local governments.  They will do a better job because they will be more focused on local activities than the federal government would ever be.

Even though the local governments are not perfect, they will be better at addressing local issues.  The local politicians will be motivated to make their neighborhoods a better place to live.  This is called Politics in My Backyard, “PIMBY.”  Even when the local politicians are selfish, they generally will spend money to protect themselves and their families by making the community stronger.

It is important for Congress, with the power of the purse, to start sending more money to local communities and governments, cutting off the weak efforts of an incompetent federal government.  It is time to go local, freezing out the federal government.

The Passing of the Greatest Generation and its Values

Tom Brokaw wrote a book in 1998 called, “The Greatest Generation,” about the American generation that survived the Depression and went on to fight for freedom in WWII.  Brokaw wrote in his book, “… it is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.  He believed that the men and women in this generation fought not for fame or recognition, but because it was the “right thing to do.”

We are losing this WWII generation on a daily basis and as they pass the baton to the younger generations, I wonder if this older generation’s values are being passed along or are they being passed over.

Former president Jimmy Carter wrote about this in “Our Endangered Values: America’s Moral Crisis” in 2005, which was “dedicated to our children and grandchildren, for whom America’s basic moral values must be preserved.”  Carter wrote, “I am convinced that our great nation could realize all reasonable dreams of global influence if we properly utilized the advantageous values of our religious faith and historic ideals of peace, economic and political freedom, democracy, and human rights.”

What is causing this erosion and endangerment of our former values?  I call it a “creeping extremism.”  You see it increase every day as extremists throughout the world are committing egregious acts without significant consequences from moderates who used to be in the majority.  Extremists have begat extremists, so that they are becoming the new majority.  This is polarizing our world, removing the moderates, who in the past made our world a better and safer place to live.

What is happening to the generations that follow the Greatest Generation?  Well, they have not had the same moderating influences.  Going through a depression will significantly influence your value system.  I remember my father and mother both believed in “doing the right thing” no matter what the consequences might be.  They were selfless and made moral decisions based on how their actions would impact others.  Today’s generations, without the moderating influences of major economic and wartime pressures, are selfish and their moral values are based on how their actions will impact them.  It’s all about me and not you.

Now, these are generalizations.  Clearly, there are some members of younger generations who are wholly committed to serving society and not themselves.  But it is a matter of percentages.  A great majority of the younger generations have not gone through economic deprivation and therefore have placed themselves on a high pedestal.  They believe that “greed is good.”  If these individuals were asked to give their lives for their country, I suspect I know what most of them would say.  And their question would be, “What is in it for me?”

The problem with extremism and fundamentalism taking over the world is that it will lead to worldwide totalitarianism.  There are those in powerful positions today who believe that they should control the world for themselves, not for the benefit of others.  There is a big difference between philosophical Marxism, which is designed to benefit the working class, and the real-world communism, which controls and subjugates the working class.  The new world leaders will want the rest of us to be completely under their control.  When “freedom” is no longer important to the masses, it will be replaced by “free” government entitlements.  The masses will become addicted to the government and just like drug addicts will give up their freedom for a fix.

So as we lose the Greatest Generation, I pray that moderates within the following generations can maintain some modicum of control to protect our children and grandchildren for a few more years.  However, I think the most we can hope for is to preserve democracy for the remainder of this decade.

Federal Executives Under Fire Should Be Fired

The “Federal Times” in a front page article on December 1, 2014, written by Andy Medici, indicated that the Senior Executive Service (SES) needed a major overhaul in the wake of recent scandals and criticism from lawmakers.

Former SES employees stated that things could be improved by increasing pay and incentives, by emphasizing positive achievements of SES’s rather than negative actions, and by encouraging movement between agencies.

Are you kidding me?  How will the SES’s be held accountable for mismanagement by giving them more money, bragging on them, and shuffling them around between agencies?  Well, just consider the source.

I was a fraud attorney for the Air Force, Navy, and Marines.  I proposed criminal prosecution against SES members who broke the laws.  None of them were ever prosecuted.  I worked for over four decades in the military and only rarely were there consequences for SES’s when they violated laws.  And there were few consequences for incompetent and inept SES’s.

My opinion for over four decades remains the same.  They need to be prosecuted for unlawful activities and fired for incompetence.  The average salary for these overpaid managers is about $166,000.  In 2016, over half of these SES’s will be eligible to retire.  This would be a good time to recruit competent supervisors from the private sector.  The system of promoting home grown federal employees into management positions has only advanced the best “suck up’s” and career advocates in the system, who were not competent enough to enter private practice.  Over the years, the federal government loses its best employees because they can make more money on the outside and they get tired of working for incompetent management.

There are outstanding retired supervisors from the private sector, who would jump at the chance to help improve the federal government.  Simply downsize the pool of SES employees through attrition.  Don’t hire replacements for those who retire.  The federal government will be better without them in the work force.  Then take that money and hire former managers from companies to run quality control surveys throughout the federal government.  These managers must have power to fire the remaining SES’s and any federal employees.  They should also be empowered to make changes that will improve our government.  They must be given the ability to recommend prosecution and terminations for cause.

Federal executives who are under fire for incompetence should be terminated.

Politicians Are Like Disposable Diapers

Politicians are like disposable diapers:  they frequently need to be removed and thrown out… and for the same reason.

Now, most people will think that is because they are both full of shit, but that’s not the entire story.  They both need to be removed because they are dirty without any possibility of being cleaned up.

When I was a fraud attorney in the Pentagon and the Navy Yard in Washington, I was amazed at how quickly the new congressmen turned to the dark side.  Even the Tea Party candidates were consumed by the corruption blender in DC.  The insiders inside the beltway told me that about 98% of senators and representatives were accepting money from third parties.

As a fraud attorney, I approached federal investigators and DOJ to see if we could prosecute these individuals, but I was told that these amounts are considered to be campaign contributions.  I explained that I had information that indicated otherwise, but I was told that this was part of the DC culture that I couldn’t change.  In fact, I was told that we would lose our jobs if we took any action against these congressmen.

Quite frankly, if politicians didn’t join the ranks of those who were paid off by special interest groups, then they were blackballed by the majority and were relegated to being in the dungeon of Congress, where they could never get anything done.

Even if you voted all the Congressmen out of office, the system is set up for failure so that the newly elected Congressmen eventually would be exactly the same.  Even though the majority of politicians is corrupt and needs to be removed, the system is flawed beyond repair and a changing of the guard will not solve the problem.  Most citizens know that our political system is failing, but they don’t know how deep the cancer has spread.  In effect, the cancer is inoperable.

So, we can make jokes about how bad politicians are and can laugh about it.  But there are some very difficult times ahead for our country because we no longer have congressmen who are willing to do the right things for their country.  They don’t ask what they can do for their country; they ask what their country can do for them.  And they don’t represent you; they represent themselves.  I guess just like disposable diapers, we are stuck with them until we can get rid of them.

Politicians Are More Dangerous than Terrorists

It is a very sad comment that today’s politicians are more dangerous than terrorists.  Politicians are much more likely to destroy the American system and our way of life than any terrorist organization.

One of my favorite jokes around springtime tells the rest of the story.  Towards the end of March, I would state that it was time to clean out the house… but don’t forget to also clean out the Senate.

So both Democrats and Republicans are guilty.  They may have good intentions early in their careers, but they get sucked into the corrupt system within a few months of arrival in Washington.  When I worked at the Pentagon and the Navy Yard as a fraud attorney, I had occasion to work with NCIS, the Department of Justice, and the FBI.

I was constantly bringing up good fraud cases against Senior Executive Service civilians and high ranking officers of the military, but these cases never went anywhere.  Why?  Because the culture in Washington was corrupt from middle management up to the top.  Everybody wanted to look the other way when federal managers did something unethical.  The only cases I successfully prosecuted were against lower managers and regular employees.  There is a double standard in Washington.

And this is even worse with politicians.  I asked an FBI agent why we never prosecuted Congressmen who were taking bribes every day.  He told me that it was difficult proving that the amounts given were not campaign contributions.  He also told me that there was a wicked culture in DC that was entrenched.  Anybody attempting to change that would lose their jobs or disappear.

It was difficult for me to watch all the politicians… and let me repeat… ALL the politicians accept compensation from special interest groups.  The real compensation for politicians is not their salaries, but it is the tremendous amount of money they receive from organizations who bribe them to do their bidding.

Several decades ago, Congressmen were only dangerous to our country because they did not represent Americans, but only their self interests.  However, today there is a new breed of politician who is even more dangerous.  These new politicians are interested in creating a world order that will be totalitarian in nature.  But don’t think for a second that it will be beneficial to you.  It will benefit these new leaders because they will rule the world.  They can then take anything they want and leave the rest of us in the cold or dead, which is very typical of all totalitarian leaders throughout history.

You can see the political posturing in the news, but please try to think what a politician’s real motivation is.  For example, when President Obama promised executive action that would give nearly five million illegal immigrants temporary work permits and amnesty, this really is designed to add more voters for a Democratic president who will continue pushing for a new world order.  The White House was spinning that Obama’s unilateral action was not “amnesty” and that it would “ensure that everyone plays by the same rules.”

Republicans are pushing for comprehensive amnesty legislation in order to avoid losing the next presidential election because of these potential voters.  Some of these five million immigrants may find ways to vote at the polls, but the real increase in voters who will support the Democrats are the families and friends of these immigrants.  Also, new Democratic supporters may rise exponentially in the next two years as Americans may become frustrated by the “gridlock” that could be caused by the actions of both parties.  The Republicans will take the greatest part of the blame.

Executive Agreements and Executive Orders have been used for decades and the Supreme Court has never ruled any of them unconstitutional.  The best option for Congress is to exercise its control of the power of the purse.  However, we have never had the executive branch so intent on using its agreements and orders for political purposes to create a new world order or worldwide totalitarian regime much like in Huxley’s and Orwell’s books.

Because of the nature of the political beast that exists in DC, it is not likely that America will avoid being drawn into the giant totalitarian whirlpool that awaits it.  I predict that millions of people will be sent to concentration camps and murdered until only weak-minded citizens remain behind to be enslaved by the new world order.

It is interesting to note that history has not been kind to the original leaders like Lenin, who might have had a genuine interest in helping the people.  The only survivors will be those who are completely evil and those who are completely dominated and offer no resistance.  Where will you fit in this new scheme of things?

 

 

Senior Leadership in the Federal Government Gets an F

In any school, whether elementary, junior high, high, undergraduate, or graduate level, anything under 70% on tests would be considered as failing.  The senior leaders in the federal government received an F from their employees in 2014.

The annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey indicated that only half of the federal employees believed that their supervisors had high standards of honesty and integrity.  This grade was down 7% since the last survey in 2011.  And the federal leadership received the same grade of 50% for a question about respect.  Most Senior Executive Service employees demanded respect, while the employees countered that they had to earn it.

The senior leaders received an even worse grade of 38% for providing high levels of motivation and commitment.  This also was down 7%, which may be more than a coincidence.

It didn’t seem to matter whether the federal agency was large or small.  The employees were all equally displeased with their managers.  Typically, the private sector is much better equipped to motivate its employees, both financially and psychologically.  Federal leaders are too busy advancing their careers and do not see their employees as being helpful to that cause.  On the other hand, corporate management incorporates its success with team building opportunities, riding on the coattails of its hard working employees.

Mid-level and high level leaders in the federal government spend most of their time speaking and not listening to their employees.  Consequently, they miss the opportunity to bond with their employees and motivate them to seek higher levels of performance.  The employees on the floor and in the field generally find better and more economical ways to do business if encouraged by management.  The federal government has a poor environment for growing ideas.

In a word, federal managers are all about “themselves.”  They basically do not care about their work force.  Their primary motivation is to advance their careers.  When they receive bonuses and promotions for decreasing the number of employees and the amounts spent on protective gear, such as bullet-proof vests, the federal employees know whose lives will be in danger to support bonuses for senior leaders.

Freedoms of Religion and Speech

The American Constitution makes freedoms of religion and speech a number one priority in the Bill of Rights.  The First Amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”

The references to freedom of religion are commonly referred to as the “establishment clause” and the “free exercise” clause.  Both of these clauses have been expanded to apply to state and local governments by separate Supreme Court decisions.  Even though the Founding Fathers clearly were concerned about the federal government and not local governments, both the state and local government now also contribute to restricting religious freedom.  Justice Clarence Thomas has correctly argued that the Court was wrong in extending these clauses to the state and local governments.

The rights of the states were significantly curtailed after the Civil War, probably in violation of the Tenth Amendment, which some would say has been emasculated by the Supreme Court.  James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers # 45:  “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.  Those which remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”  Madison went on to say that one of the powers definitely reserved to the states was our liberty.  This includes both the freedom of religion and speech.  In effect, Madison was saying that the federal government has no power to interfere with religious liberty.  The First Amendment does nothing more than tell Congress to stay away from religion.

Thomas Jefferson said that there should be a wall separating church and state.  Jefferson was interested in walling off the church from the state in order to protect secular interests.  On the other hand, Roger Williams, an English Protestant theologian from Rhode Island who was an early proponent of religious freedom, believed that religion should be protected by a “sturdy fence” from the secular segment.  Both sides wanted the same thing:  to keep the federal government separated from religion.  Thus, freedom of religion and speech were both guaranteed by the Constitution, and they walk together hand-in-hand as our most important liberties.

The Founding Fathers agreed that government and religion do not mix any better than oil or water.  So, they decided that Congress should neither establish nor interfere with religion.  In other words, there should be a separation of church and state for purposes of preventing the federal government from either taking positive action for or negative action against a religion.  In effect, our government should have a “hands off” policy regarding religion and religious rights.

The only legitimate concern for the Supreme Court is determining what religion is.  The Court generally attempts to avoid formulating a definition, skirting its real job.  Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taosim, Shinto, and other well formulated religions are accepted as world religions.  This is not to say that it will be an easy job determining what religion is, but it is what the Court should be focusing on rather than how it can interfere with religions by using the establishment clause.

How has the Founding Father’s clear message been misconstrued so that our government not only interferes with the beliefs of Christians, but many times goes out of its way in an effort to destroy these religious rights?  There is nothing in the First Amendment that gives the government the right to discriminate or harm Christianity, or any other religion for that matter.  A hands-off policy means “hands off.”  The Founding Fathers did not want the federal government to have anything to do with religion, because they wanted to steer clear of the religious persecution practiced by the English government.

If the government were to create a religion and compel participation, this would violate both provisions.  But the confusion occurred when Supreme Court decisions parsed these two provisions and focused on the establishment clause.  For example, if the government provides for chaplains in the military, this was argued to be the government establishing religion.  However, if the government tells military chaplains what they can and cannot say, it is denying the free exercise of religion and speech under the guise of the “establishment clause.”

In the Supreme Court case of Lemon v. Kurtzman, the government violates the establishment clause if the government’s primary purpose is to advance religion or if the principal effect is to aid or inhibit religion.  This makes no sense because the primary purpose of the government is to advance religion every time it acts to protect the free exercise of religion.  The Supreme Court has recognized this friction between the two clauses, but the problem is that the two clauses should have been interpreted together and not separately.

If you examine both clauses, they both refer to religion.  In Everson v. Board of Education, Justice Wiley Rutledge wrote in his dissenting opinion: “’Religion’ appears only once in the Amendment.  But the word governs two prohibitions and governs them alike.  It does not have two meanings, one narrow to forbid ‘an establishment’ and another, much broader, for ‘securing’ the free exercise thereof.”

The Constitution includes both clauses as being consistent with each other, so that the message is for Congress to stay clear of passing any laws or taking any action that would impact religion by either establishing it or prohibiting its free exercise.  In effect, don’t do either one, but the bottom line is to not infringe on our freedom of religion.  Both freedom of religion and speech are the trump cards in the First Amendment which sometimes are overlooked by the Supreme Court.

In the above example of military chaplains, the government is not establishing a religion even under the Lemon case, because its primary purpose is not to advance religion.  The primary purpose is to provide faith based support for our troops who are in harm’s way.  By removing the chaplains or restricting what they can preach to our military is definitely a denial of America’s freedom of religion and speech.

When I was in grade school, we had our morning prayer and a short Bible verse.  This is not permitted anymore.  And “Merry Christmas” has been replaced in federal offices with “Happy Holidays.”  This is a governmental hands-on policy with a strangle hold around the neck of Christianity.  The federal government’s actions are clearly a violation of the Constitution because these actions prohibit the free exercise of religion and speech.  If I am a Christian, I can practice my belief anywhere I want, even in federal buildings and at federal functions.

Americans fought and died for their freedoms of religion and speech.  Many early Americans left England because they were persecuted for their beliefs and speech.  Today, we are losing our freedoms of religion and speech without a shot being fired.  Our government is taking away our freedoms a piece at a time, and few seem to care.

If you don’t fight for what you believe and if you don’t fight for your faith, then you deserve to lose it.  But why would our government want to take away our beliefs, faith, religion, and speech?  Well, if you want to form a worldwide totalitarian government, you need to neutralize religions and speech.  How do you do this?  You get the different segments in a majority to turn on each other.  And you stifle speech by making the majority embarrassed about being a member of the majority.  Did you ever think that you would be embarrassed to tell people that you believe in God and that you enjoy working for a living and that you don’t need anything else beyond having a loving family?  How sad that this is now considered “nerdy” or even worse.

If Muslims, Jews, and Christians enter into a religious war or jihad, this would create a vacuum for potential worldwide domination that could be filled by totalitarian leaders.  How does a minority control the majority of the world?  A minority can control when the majority is at odds with each other and is too embarrassed to say anything.  A majority that is divided becomes weak minorities.  That is how Hussein ruled Iraq with his minority Baath party.  The Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds could not agree on anything.  Divide and conquer.  If all the religions in the world hate each other and are trying to kill each other off, this would be a perfect environment for a totalitarian government.

Think about it.

Ganging Up On Others

There have been gangs since early man.  There is strength in numbers, so if early hominids wanted to bring down large game, they had to form a hunting team.  Because of man’s human nature, these early teams more than likely became gangs, which are defined to be a group of people working together, sometimes for selfish needs or control.

Prehistoric man, recognizing the power wielded with these associations, formed not only hunting parties but also war parties that would joust with other groups for prized hunting grounds.  Weapons used by gangs may have evolved over the centuries, but the basic elements for gangs have remained the same.

Gangs typically were formed based on long-time associations in specific geographic areas.  In early days, gangs were created among workmen in shops in the United Kingdom.  However, gangs quickly evolved into power hungry associations, which carried a negative connotation.  For example, an Irish community called Hell’s Kitchen in New York was a springboard for many Irish gangs, including the vicious Gopher Gang.  Many gang members grew up and formed close friendships and loyalty over the years.  They were fighting for their “turf.”  The New York gangs were very active, leading up to mass killings in gang wars of the 1860’s.

Gangs seem to be more prominent in larger cities, but with drugs penetrating smaller communities and rural areas, gangs have spread throughout the United States like cancer.  The early gangs, primarily in New York and Chicago, competed for control of illegal drinking during prohibition.  The gangs became more sophisticated as they became the mafia and other business-like associations.  One of the famous lines became, “It’s not personal.  It’s business.”

But today, youngsters are enticed into a lucrative drug business run by gangs.  Gangs are so widespread that they have captured a large segment of American society either as gangsters or drug users or other victims.  Gangs are so pervasive with international connections, including the Mexican and South American cartels and the Russian mafia, that it is impossible to conduct business as usual in the United States.

The prognosis for America is not good.  Our government, like Boss Tweed in New York, utilizes the gangs for their benefit.  Politicians can gather more votes and obtain more money by working with the gangs.  Are all politicians on the take?  I don’t know, but we know that many are and those who are not can be eliminated easily.  And once politicians take their first taste of graft or payoffs, they are hooked.  If they try to get out of taking additional bribes, they will be turned in for the original crime.

The gangs are becoming so powerful that they will be the source of all future government and leadership.  If you go against them, the gangs will kill you and your family.  They will gang up on you, and you will have nowhere to go.  This environment is fertile grounds for a totalitarian government.