||INDEX FOR 2008
|Jan 2, What is Stereo?
Jan 22, What Americans Can Learn From Europeans
Feb 4, A Tribute to Jay Williams
Feb 22, Slavery and Abortion
Mar 8, Political Definitions
Apr 2, Death Statistics
Apr 3, Pigs, Cows, Horses & Lawyers
Apr 9, Ecology & Common Sense
Apr 15, Blessed Few
Apr 15, Gullible Masses
Apr 15, Political Benevolence
Apr 19, Clueless Comcast
May 5, Navigation Error
May 8, Go Sailing!
May 25, Memorial Day
Jun 3, Pregnant Turtles
Jun 3, Turtle Troubles
Jun 19, High Gas Prices
Jun 22, Why We Walk
Jul 8, A Graphics Lesson
Jul 21, Time Capsule
Aug 5, NJ Highways
Aug 9, Rewarding Bad
Aug 9, Penalizing Good
Aug 22, What Are You?
Aug 22, Who Are You?
Aug 22, The Media
Aug 22, Who Owns Your Mind?
|Sep 3, "Well-Being" Rights
Nice Catch, John!
Sep 17, California Dreamin'
Sep 17, Flying Light
Sep 25, Expensive Two Weeks
Sep 25, Living Within our Means
Sep 25, We did it all Wrong
Sep 27, Peanut Butter War
Sep 30, Why I Retired in New Jersey
Sep 30, Laws and Ethics
Sep 30, My Solution to our Fiscal Problems
Oct 6, Rewards and Punishment
Oct 6, New Jersey and Delaware
New Jersey and Louisiana
Oct 7, Joerg Haider, an Austrian Idol Dies
Oct 19, The Silent Majority
Oct 23, Eminent Domain Abuse in NJ
Oct 29, Bird Seed Made in ???
Nov 3, Stealing Elections
Nov 6, NJ Ballot Questions
Nov 14, Burning Bush
Nov 14, President's Citizenship
Nov 21, NVI Stamps
Nov 27, Time to Thank or Tank?
Dec 6, Verizon Tries Hard
Dec 16, "Hard to House" People
Dec 18, Beneficial Casinos
||I'M GETTING OLD FAST !
January 2, 2008
This year I turn "threescore and ten" years old! When I was a teenager, I thought anyone with grey hair or no hair was ancient! It reminds me of two seniors who met on the street.
Sam complains about all his aches and pains and then asks Jake how he is doing.
Jake says, "I feel like a newborn baby!"
That reply was a little much for Sam to swallow, so he asked him to explain.
Jake replied, "I have no hair, no teeth and I have to wear diapers!"
Fortunately, I am not that old, but I am getting there fast!
We visited our California kids and grandkids between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My wife took a picture of our 4-year-old Jonathan and he wanted to see the picture. He had never seen a camera that didn't have an LCD display on the back.
I saw Debra with a roll of Scotch Tape and decided to have some fun with her. I stuck two pieces of the tape on the palms of her hands and told her to hold them over her ears. Then I asked if she was listening to stereo tapes.
She didn't know what "stereo" meant, nor had she heard of tape recordings!
Happy New Year!
||WE CAN LEARN FROM EUROPEANS
Europe is far from perfect!
After living in Europe for nearly four decades, I can name many areas in which Europe could learn from America. Europeans, for example, have finally discovered peanut butter, but it is still hard to find the chunky kind. But this blog is about things America can learn from Europe. I will devote a later blog to what Europe can learn from America.
The same is true for America
I have written about European political solutions to some of the big problems America faces elsewhere on this website and will not repeat these here.
I will start with the car service book, which comes with your new car. Every service is listed and items that need attention are listed for each service. You can do it yourself if mechanically inclined, or have the work done in a shop or dealership. If you choose to do the latter, the serviceman stamps your service book, giving a record of what has been done and when. In America, people buy a new car and run it until it breaks down. Then, they either have it fixed or trade it for a new vehicle. Except for oil changes and replacement of tires, most owners never take their car to a garage because the mechanic will ask, "What is the problem?" If you say that you are going on vacation and want to know if everything is okay, you are offering him a pile of money for unneeded things. He will do a complete tune-up, replace the wiper blades, battery and belts; rotate or replace tires, change the transmission oil and coolant whether it needs it or not. I buy second hand cars, but in
America, I never know if or when the timing belt/chain was replaced.
When traveling by car on main highways in Europe, you are never far from help in an emergency. Telephone call stations are located at regular intervals along the highway, usually 4 kilometers apart. Anyone can call for assistance, report an accident or poor driving conditions. Arrows on guardrails and markers point to the nearest phone.
Car radios in Europe have features that we in America can only dream of. Stations with traffic reports give a signal identifying themselves. If a motorist is tuned in to such a station, he or she can listen to a CD or nothing at all and not miss the traffic report. The radio automatically turns on to a preset volume level, interrupting the CD. The feature can be turned off if desired. Also, the type of station is identified in the digital display by the type of content (news, classic, rock, local etc.). If you drive out of range of your classic music station, for example, the radio automatically seeks the next station of that genre.
Another neat feature - at least in Austria, is the possibility of obtaining "Wechselkennzeichen." The German language has many long words that are simply several words run together. This word means swappable license plates. If you have two vehicles, but only drive one at a time (like summer and winter cars or an RV) you register both with the same tags and insurance. The tags can be switched back and forth between cars.
While still on the subject of transportation, I would like to mention the excellent public transportation systems. Children and students get to their schools with the same public transit that workers use to get to their jobs. The kids are expected to walk a mile if needed. After all, they will be working somewhere after graduation and should get used to this.
The unified Eurocard system is recognized by all banks and nations in Europe. It is accepted in all automats and most businesses. If your salary is deposited regularly in a bank account, you are allowed up to a month's salary overdraft without penalties. You only pay a modest monthly interest on the overdraft. This eliminates the need to keep larger sums of money for an emergency.
Finally, I think America should finally adopt the metric system. It almost happened back in the seventies. The kids got on to it quickly, but some politicians figured that lazy seniors would vote for them if they threw a traditional wrench in the works. America is about the only nation in the world that still uses this antiquated system. As a result, we can't compete with the rest of the world and buy everything from China. A tool and die worker once told me that they had to pay 20% more for milling machines that operate with our measuring system. Some people tell me it won't work, but they use metric in photography, in finances, in hospitals and with computers. Why should it be more difficult to measure with millimeters instead of a quarter, eighth, sixteenth or thirty seconds of an inch?
||A TRIBUTE TO JAY WILLIAMS
Southern New Jersey lost one of its outstanding citizens when Stephen J. Williams Jr. passed away, Thursday, January 31, 2008
Back in 1951, I started odd-jobbing for local farmers at only 13 years of age. I picked tomatoes, cultivated corn, helped to bale hay and moved irrigation pipe.
Our neighbor, Jay Williams, soon engaged me “part time” for $10 a week. I was too inexperienced to ask what “part time” meant and accepted the offer. After many months of working for Jay, my mother asked how many hours I worked. I kept track for a week and discovered that feeding 50 cows and several calves seven mornings and evenings a week, plus helping with the milking, took at least 30 hours, and I usually worked all day on Saturdays. To be fair, I doubt if Jay knew how many hours I worked, and $10 was more than any of my friends had to spend, so I didn’t really care.
I came to appreciate Jay’s great sense of humor. He was always thinking of a new gag or a practical joke to play on anyone who happened by and I was always eager to cooperate. I probably got my sense of humor from Jay.
While cleaning out an old house on his farm, Jay found a stuffed pheasant that had seen better days. On the first day of hunting season, he told me to place the bird on a fence post within sight of the barn. It wasn't long before a car stopped. The driver grabbed his shotgun and shot the bird, which lost one wing but not its composure. Realizing that he had been tricked, the would-be hunter returned to his car and drove away. Within minutes, another hunter stopped and took a shot at our decoy. This time, it was knocked off the post, so I ran out and placed the pheasant back on the fence post. By this time the bird was looking rather ragged, but the pheasant managed to elicit shotgun blasts from two more hunters before being permanently laid to rest!
When Jay bought a new pair of barn shoes, he put the old pair in the shoe box, tied it and told me to place the box in the center of the road. Cars would stop and we secretly watched as drivers opened the box, only to discard the stinking contents in disgust. We were able to "re-set the trap" several times before someone tossed the unopened box in the back seat and drove away.
WATERWORKS or WATERPLAY?
Once we were putting a new roof on the milk house when a thunder storm came up. Quickly, we covered the unprotected building with a large canvas. It really poured and when the storm was over, the canvas was full of water. Johnny Grice dropped by just as we were ready to dump out the water and resume working. Johnny called, "That was quite a down-pour; did you guys get wet?" Jay replied, "No, we were under this canvas!" He gave me an unnecessary wink and both of us heaved with all our might. Johnny was drenched by a hundred gallons of fresh rain water!
Jay Williams and a neighbor, John Hitchner, shared an irrigation pond and a healthy sense of humor. Once, when I was helping Jay prime his pump to start irrigating, John approached his pump on the opposite side of the pond to do the same. Powered by car motors, the irrigation pumps were capable of pushing a lot of water. Jay gave me one of his ornery grins and said, "Watch this!" He then disconnected the irrigation pipe except for one elbow, which was directed towards his neighbor across the pond. He gave the pump full throttle and moments later, farmer John was thoroughly drenched! He reacted quickly however, and soon, two grown farmers were back in their childhood, enjoying a water battle that has yet to be equaled!
THE "GOVERNOR" OF SOUTH JERSEY
After the State of New Jersey allowed casino gambling in Atlantic City, taxes were supposed to drop and the economy to flourish. Thousands of tourist busses loaded with gamblers converged daily upon this resort city, which until then had been known mainly for its sandy beaches and the annual Miss America Pageant. Money began to roll into the casinos but New Jersey residents saw no benefits whatsoever. They were convinced that the only real winners were the Mafia and crooked politicians. Taxes and insurance rates escalated even faster than before the casinos opened. South Jersey farmers, whose hard work gave the "Garden State" its nickname, complained loudly about high taxation, but their complaints went unheeded by New Jersey law-makers.
Being an educated farmer, Jay asked in a 1974 committee meeting of Upper Pittsgrove Township what the legal procedures for succession would be. The following day, a brief article in the Salem Sunbeam, was titled, "How to Secede from North Jersey". By the end of the week, Jay was entertaining reporters from all over and soon became known as South Jersey's most celebrated resident. He correctly predicted that the proposal of secession would get nearly 100% support from the residents of Southern New Jersey. Jay argued, "We have agriculture, atomic energy, tourist trade and the casinos. We can cut taxes and surely, farmers can do a better job of running a State!" People who knew Jay laughed at his newest practical joke, but lawyers began to earnestly study their law books to see if such a thing was feasible. Word has it, that concerned State politicians were making long distance phone calls to Washington. It never happened of course, but Jay became a celebrity whose reputation as a practical joker was only surpassed by his fame as "Governor of South Jersey".
Once, Johnny Grice was helping John Hitchner blast tree stumps in his pasture and I was hired to help clear away the debris. I was fascinated by the destructive force of those little sticks of powder. The explosives were stored in wooden boxes packed with sawdust on the back seat of Johnny's dilapidated Model-A Ford. I kept looking for an opportunity to steal a stick.
Soon enough, the opportunity availed itself. Johnny had to get something from Woodstown and invited me to go along. Since the front passenger seat had been removed, I rode in the back with the explosives. I slipped a stick of dynamite under my belt, a blasting capsule and piece of fuse into my jeans pocket and pulled out my shirt tails to hide the tell-tale bulges.
Johnny decided to take a shortcut down a seldom used dirt road that was full of potholes. He drove as fast as the old car would travel and I looked nervously at the open box of blasting caps, bouncing around just inches from where I was sitting.
I tried to get Johnny to slow down, but he only laughed. I reached down and picked up the box of blasting caps, cradling them carefully in my lap to keep them from banging together. Several times the car jolted and I nearly dropped the box. I thought of the Bible verse which my parents often quoted after one of my many misdemeanors: "Be sure your sins will find you out!" I considered asking God to rescue me from my precarious situation, but it didn't seem fitting to pray with the contraband still on my person.
Fortunately, we reached town with no casualties. Johnny took the regular road back to the farm and I stilled my conscience by determining that the dynamite was reward for my close call with death.
A few days later, my friend Paul came by and we placed the dynamite in an old cast iron stove, inserted the blasting cap and lit the fuse. We then hid behind a corn crib and waited for the detonation. Nothing happened. Knowing that the fuse could still be glowing and re-ignite, we decided to leave for a while and return later with a new fuse.
I got involved in something else and my father discovered our "bomb" first. "Where were you planning to watch the explosion?" he asked. I replied, "Behind the corn crib." His face turned ashen and hands began to tremble. I expected the spanking of a lifetime but that was one time when I escaped the whipping I deserved.
A feed company was looking for new-born calves to test with a new line of calf feed. Jay Williams thought, "One less mouth to feed!" and offered a calf for six months. The calf was delivered to Avis Mill near Woodstown and remained there for the duration of the testing period. When the animal was returned to Jay, she had become a beautiful heifer that could have won first prize at the County Fair. She never made it to the fair, however.
After being pampered and pestered by customers at the feed mill, we had nothing but trouble from the heifer, which we nicknamed "Dynamite." She certainly lived up to her name, repeatedly breaking out of the barn, pasture, pen or wherever else we tried to keep her. She once got into the silo and ate so much that she couldn't squeeze back through the opening. We had to tie her jaws shut to keep her from eating until she had slimmed down enough to get out. One night Dynamite broke loose and began to terrorize the other cows. Jay awoke to their loud complaints and ran to the rescue. Dynamite effectively avoided capture for nearly an hour. Finally, Jay lost his usual composure and threw a pitchfork at the beast. When I arrived the next morning to help with the milking, Dynamite had already been transformed into beefsteak, goulash and dog bones.
Shortly after that incident, I was trying to start Jay's Farmall A-V tractor to spread manure. It was extremely cold and the battery was dead as usual. I attempted to start it with the crank, but the engine refused to respond. When the engine finally did fire, the crank whipped back and almost broke my arm. Furious, I took the crank and rammed it through the radiator. While antifreeze gushed out of the gaping hole, I contemplated on how I would explain this to the boss. Nervously, I walked back to the barn and confessed my evil deed to Jay. To my surprise, he didn't get upset at all. "Well," he said, "let's tow the tractor to the garage and get her fixed; I better buy a new battery while I'm at it."
A WHOLE LOT OF BULL
While working for Jay, one of my tasks was driving the cows in from the pasture before milking. I learned how to crack a bull whip and whenever a cow lagged behind, I snapped the whip to get her moving. Such shock therapy usually convinced the cows to cooperate, but on June 4th, 1953, the trick backfired. A cow was not cooperating and I snapped the whip just above her head. Jay's prize bull apparently didn't like the way I was treating the object of his devotion. I heard hoof beats behind me and turned to look, but it was too late. The bull caught me in the chest, one horn under each armpit and gave me my first and only raise while working for Jay! I landed on my belly a few yards from a barbed wire fence. With the angry bull hot on my trail, I scrambled on hands and knees for the fence. I am certain that the barbed wire would not have slowed that creature, but fortunately, Jay observed my solo flight from his kitchen window. He grabbed a shotgun and fired both barrels at the charging bull. Fortunately for the bull, the gun was loaded with bird shot and fortunately for me, birdshot was a strong enough deterrent to stop the bull.
I was pretty sore after my encounter with the bull, but seemed otherwise uninjured. I finished my evening chores and helped with the milking before heading for home and going to bed.
The following morning my alarm clock rang at 5:00 o'clock as usual, but when I tried to turn it off, I couldn't move my arm. I discovered to my horror that not just my arms, but my entire body was immobilized! Although completely conscious, I couldn't move a finger or even turn my head! Fear gripped me as I helplessly listened to the alarm clock run down. I was totally paralyzed! I began to ponder what it would be like to spend the rest of my life in a wheel chair! For what seemed like an eternity, I lay there fearing the worst, but gradually, movement began to return. First I could wiggle my fingers, then my hands, arms and feet. Within an hour, I was able to get out of bed and get dressed.
I didn't see a doctor but years later, a chest x-ray revealed that I had cracked my collar bone.
I could write many more experiences, but this must suffice for now. Jay Williams will never be forgotten and I am indebted to him.
||OWNERSHIP OF THE HUMAN BODY
America and Slavery
I am probably opening the proverbial "can of worms" here, but I warn people on the opening page of this website that some things I write may not be considered politically correct.
I watched a film on public TV last night about slavery in America during colonial times. It would be difficult for anyone to watch that film without feeling sympathy for the plight of slaves.
Europeans are obviously sympathetic to the feelings of "Indianer" and "Neger" (not politically correct terms, but Europeans don't seem to worry about that sort of thing). When we lived in Austria, we often heard people slamming America for allowing slavery and for stealing the native Americans' land and confining them to reservations. The first time this happened, I didn't know how to respond but the next time, I was prepared. I let them go on with their harsh accusations as long as they wanted and then commented, "You are absolutely right -- except for one thing." They would of course want to know what that one thing was. I told them that the early settlers who took the Indians' land and confined them to reservations were mostly from Europe. A great majority of slave holders were European born, and to my knowledge, all of the slave traders were Europeans.
If they wanted to learn more, I would tell them that many wealthy Europeans also kept slaves. Most changed the subject, but those who still wanted to argue would be reminded of an incident that transpired while we worked in Linz, Austria. I would tell them that Harry Belefonte is quite popular in America, but Austrians threw him out of a night club because he was black. There was a sign on the door that stated, "Neger verboten!" The bouncer didn't recognize Harry and was just doing his job. That is what Nazi soldiers claimed, who arrested Jews and threw them into concentration camps. They were just following orders.
Getting back to America and slavery, it was Thomas Jefferson who wrote the opening statement of the Declaration of Independence, , "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." Jefferson kept meticulous records. He owned 187 slaves and recent DNA evidence shows that one of his slaves, Sally Heming, gave birth to at least one of Jefferson's children.
Having painted a pretty ugly picture of hypocrisy in both America and Europe, I now want to focus on another related topic.
The basis for abortion is the same as for slavery. It is all about ownership of human beings.
I can already hear someone shouting, "Oh no! Abortion is different!" This is a normal reaction, because the people who defend abortion as one of those unalienable Rights (overlooking the mention of Creator and creation in the same sentence) also demand compensation for descendants of Native Americans and slaves. The former are allowed to operate casinos and the latter get the shortest month of the year as Black History Month.
Some define abortion as occurring only during certain stages of pregnancy, while others consider the purposeful termination of a pregnancy in any stage as an abortion. Some restrict the term to medical procedures, while others use it for any premature termination of pregnancy including miscarriages. The abortionist doesn't like that word and I can understand why. "Abort" is German for toilet. Abortionists prefer phrases like "pregnancy termination, family planning, or expulsion of an embryo or fetus." The word "death" is avoided especially.
Even if the abortionist insists that he or she is not killing a human being, but only preventing one from emerging, the basic argument for abortions is human ownership. The woman is said to "own" her body and all that it contains. She should be free to do anything she wants with it. Because very few women perform abortions on themselves, and because men and women have equal rights, this must be interpreted to say, "anyone should be permitted to do anything to any person if granted permission."
Supposing this "right" is applied in other situations! Suicide and euthanasia would also be our personal right. How about shooting heroin? Does this right only pertain to our human bodies, or perhaps to animals or things that we own? A man was taken to court by the animal rights people because he shaved a design in the fur of his cat. The judge threw out the case because the accusers couldn't explain the difference between that act and shaving a poodle.
A Comparison of Slavery and Abortion
Slave owners recognized that slaves were human beings. Abortionists claim that they are only removing a fetus.
Slaves were considered assets. The child to be aborted is an unwanted liability.
Slaves had names. The aborted child remains unnamed.
Slave owners care for their slaves when sick or injured. The healthy unborn baby gets mutilated with medical instruments by a doctor who has taken the Hippocratic Oath.
The slave brings gain to his greedy master as long as he or she lives. The baby brings gain to greedy doctors when it dies.
The slave is given a humane burial. The dead baby is tossed in the garbage after all usable organs are removed.
Please correct me if I am wrong.
The word "change" is a favorite expression of politicians in this election year, but you have probably noticed that they never tell us what they intend to change. We know that it will involve higher taxation, but if If you pay careful attention to their rhetoric, you will discover that they are changing our English language. Words that have traditional dictionary definitions, suddenly become meaningless when uttered by politicians.
Adequate ("take adequate measures") = means nothing
Timely ("we will address this issue in a timely fashion") = means nothing
Relevant ("relevant to the matter at hand") = means nothing
Even the word, "meaningful" becomes meaningless! Most of us know what this word means. We all desire meaningful relationships and establishing them in a marriage is very simple. The husband puts the toilet seat down after use and the wife cooks her husband's favorite food even if he has high cholesterol.
When a politician uses the word "meaningful," however, it means nothing. They may speak of the "meaningful and significant measures" which they intend to take in order to bring about "far-reaching change," but it simply means that they will do nothing in order to accomplish nothing.
Meaningful = meaningless
Significant (substantial)= insignificant
Measures = incapable of being measured
Far-reaching = far fetched
Change = same old rhetoric given new or no meaning whatsoever
We would not be very impressed with a politician who promises to do nothing, even though it would be cheaper and probably much better if they did nothing. So they give old words new meanings and hope we don't notice. Judging by the number of kids carrying placards at their rallies, it is working!
Recently, this trend has taken a new twist and entire sentences are being rendered meaningless. Last week Senator Obama made the statement, "Say what you mean and mean what you say."
I recall a statement he made at Drexel University last year. He was blaming Republicans for the high gasoline prices but was forced to concede that the prices had gone back slightly in recent weeks. Then he said, "But just wait! After the election, the prices will go up again!" The audience gave him a standing ovation.
I am rather hesitant to declare that his statement meant nothing. My problem is deciding which interpretation is correct. Either the Democrats are going to lose the election and the Republicans will raise gas prices or the Democrats will win and raise gas prices. Either way, Obama at least said what he meant and meant what he said.
On March 8th, I attained the ripe old age of "threescore and ten years," but according to official statistics, I am dead. Men only live to be 69. I didn't like that statistic so I kept looking and found another that says I will live to be 83.5 years of age. Statistics are great! You can make them say whatever you like.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died in the prime of life at 35, but that was nothing unusual in his time. Many died as infants, others in wars or from diseases. The black plague killed about one third of all Europeans in the 17th century; 76,000 died in Vienna in 1769!
Consider the situation in early America. A large number of early colonists died within a few short years of their arrival in the new world, but the effect of European immigration on native populations was devastating! Estimates of how many people were living in the Americas when Columbus arrived range from 8.4 million to 112.5 million persons, but geographer William Denevan uses a "consensus count" of about 54 million people. This is reasonable since there were about 25 million Aztecs and 12 million Incas. According to the lowest estimates, 80% of these native Americans died of diseases imported from Europe by 1600!
All this does NOT mean, however, that there were few older people living in previous times. The age-spread of people living in Mozart's day was probably not much different from today. True, many babies died, but people also had more babies. Many people died in the prime of life, but numerous others lived to a ripe old age. I assume that older women outnumbered older men just as they do today.
There are at least four reasons for the increased life expectancy reported today.
1) Infant mortality has been reduced by introducing strict sanitary rules and taking certain precautions.
2) Modern medical procedures extend lives of those who would have died a century ago.
3) Relatively few Americans die in wars.
Many are critical of President Bush for leading us into a war that has cost 5,000 lives in five years, but Americans have suffered fewer casualties in Iraq than in any other war we have fought. Had we not reacted swiftly and forcefully after 9-11, the number of civilian casualties due to terrorist attacks would have been conceivably higher.
4) Cheating and juggling of statistics.
According to official government statistics, about 220 out of 100,000 citizens die of heart failure each year. Actually, every death is due to heart failure but such a statistic would be worthless, so only those with defective hearts are counted. When it comes to cancer, the rules are reversed. Statistics show that nearly 200 out of 100,000 die of cancer, but cancer is merely a disease which attacks vital organs (or the blood in the case of leukemia) until they no longer function properly, ultimately leading to heart failure. Accidental death, homicide and suicide are other reported causes of death, but in reality, these are only physical acts which lead to death. I call this juggling statistics.
A million babies are aborted each year in the United States and these are not counted as deaths even if they are still very much alive when removed from their mother's bodies (desirable for organ transplants). Those babies are not even regarded as statistics. That constitutes cheating in my book (see February 22,
2008 blog entry)!
||THE GOVERNOR AND ANIMALS
Governor Jon Corzine wants to close down the Department of Agriculture in New Jersey. He says that the farmers can get by just fine without the Department. Corzine admits that there are a few details which the Department of Agriculture does that still need to be taken care of, but he argues that the Department of Environmental Protection can assume these responsibilities.
Most New Jersey farmers were not able to make a decent living milking cows or growing asparagus and tomatoes, so they went out of business. Many farms were sold for housing developments and shopping malls, but some are still farms. The owners of these farms are not farmers, but they do have animals. They keep horses - 83,000 of them in New Jersey!
According to the Department of Agriculture website, the Garden State has only 7,000 pigs and 11,000 milking cows left on a total of 9,800 farms. 5,233 of those farms reported less than $2,500 per year in sales, so I suspect that these are horse farms.
In order to prove that he is not an animal hater, Governor Corzine donated $80 million of the tax payer's money for corporate welfare to race tracks and horse owners last year.
I got to wondering who owns all these horses. It's only a hunch, but I read in the April 2, 2008 edition of the Atlantic City Press that there are 66,443 registered lawyers in New Jersey. Most politicians are also lawyers.
Perhaps someone reading this can bring clarity into the mystery.
||A VALUABLE COMMODITY THAT WE DON'T NEED TO CONSERVE
There is a lot of hype these days over CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs. Environmentalists, the government and manufacturers of these bulbs are all agreed that we should replace our inefficient incandescent bulbs with CFLs.
There are many Americans, however, who point out that the CFL bulb contains mercury and gasses which are dangerous for the environment and people. One story has been circulating of a mother who broke a CFL bulb in her daughter's bedroom and called the Maine DEP to ask what she should do. The DEP suggested she call the HAZMAT hotline, which said the cleanup would come to around $2,000.
Although the above story is apparently true (I checked Snopes.com), the Maine DEP later admitted that it had over reacted and the HAZMAT people had simply read the guidelines for mercury contamination clean-up. The same precautions are necessary with a CFL bulb as with the long tube-type fluorescent lights. Nearly every community accepts these for recycling. If any fluorescent light breaks in the home, you should NOT use a vacuum cleaner to clean up. Open a window to air out the room. Put on rubber gloves and pick up the pieces manually; then use pieces of duct tape or masking tape to clean up whatever dust particles and miniature pieces of glass you can find. With a damp cloth, wipe up the residue and place all in a plastic bag. Put the bag in the recycling bin and hope that the guys who take it from there are as meticulous as you.
It is claimed that if every household in the USA would replace just one old fashioned bulb with a CFL lamp, we could save the equivalent emissions of a million automobiles. I figure that if there are 225 million people in America, there could be perhaps 100 million households and twice that number of cars - give or take a few million. If Al Gore and company are correct, then 100 old fashioned light bulbs produce the equivalent emissions of one automobile.
Here is where common sense should be used. When I drive our big Roadmaster station wagon with its powerful Corvette LT1 engine, I doubt that I pollute 10,000 watts worth of emissions. The engine turns a mere 2000-2500 rpms at 60mph and I still get about 20mpg. A small Honda or Toyota may get better mileage, but probably gives off a similar amount of emissions at 5,000 rpms.
I can get a 4x8 sheet of plywood inside my Roadmaster wagon and close the hatch! If our Roadmaster and one of these little cars collide, which car would you rather be in?
I only paid $3,500 for our 1994 Roadmaster but would have to pay much more for a used small car in similar condition. These are in greater demand with gas at $3 per gallon. When my Roadmaster is ready for the junk yard, I will get $500 scrap price, but a rusty little Toyota is hardly worth tossing in the crusher.
Common sense would be helpful in saving electric. As a rule, we probably use no more than 300 watts of light for a few hours each day. Only an Al gore could afford to have 100 light bulbs burning 24 hours a day. According to our electric bill, we use about 350 kilowatt hours or 350,000 watts of energy per month. A 100-watt light bulb uses only a tenth of a kilowatt, so I use the equivalent of 3.5 million 100-watt bulbs burning 24 hours a day! My common sense tells me that there must be many other places where I could save energy. The air conditioner uses 3.5 kw, so we keep our thermostat set at 78 degrees in summer. If everyone did the same, we could save the equivalent emissions of 20,000,000 cars. Weather permitting, we hang our clothes on a line outside to dry. If everyone followed suit, that would save another 20 million car emissions. I doubt if Al Gore's wife does that.
Here is another thought. The cost of energy, whether from fossil fuel, atomic power, hydroelectric or solar power, is at least half taxation. Most of the other cost is for labor and transport. We know from experience what happens when we use less energy. The prices increase accordingly.
What can we learn from all this?
If you want to get rich, become a politician and write books about ecology. If you would like to save money and our planet; use your common sense! It is our most valuable resource and we don't need to conserve it.
||THE BLESSED FEW
In June, 2007, Warren E. Buffett openly criticized our taxation system that allows the very rich to pay taxes at a lower rate than the middle class or even the poorest Americans. Buffett cited himself as an example. In 2006, Buffett paid 17.7 percent taxes on his income of over $46 million while his receptionist was taxed at about 30 percent.
Paul C. Campos wrote in yesterday's Press, Atlantic City, that Bill and Melinda Gates paid only 15% taxes on his $366,577,390 stock dividends last year. Because neither he nor his wife receives a salary, they pay no Social Security tax like other workers. Even the least paid workers who work for minimum wages must pay around 15% of their income for Social Security.
||THE GULLIBLE MASSES
Many people are in financial trouble because they believed in miracles. Millions tried to perform their own miracles with little plastic cards. Realtors working for commissions convinced people to buy a house they couldn't afford with the promise that it would increase in value faster than they could make payments. Car salesmen, who also earn provisions, sold people cars with zero down, zero interest and zero payments for a year.
When the government lives beyond its means, it simply raises taxes or prints more money. Normal tax-paying citizens don't have that privilege, so where do they go for help when they have problems? To their government of course!
Some politicians are quite generous. New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, whose income last year was around 11 million, donated more than $800,000 of his personal fortune to fellow Democrats and liberal charities last year. The Governor's tithe doesn't help troubled tax payers of course, but you can't accuse him of being a tightwad!
I believe he and everyone else should be free to spend or give away their own money as they see fit. I have a problem, however, when benevolent politicians give away OUR money! Those gullible Americans who thought they could get something for nothing and are now faced with losing their homes are being offered a bail-out with OUR money! Because people are not in a spending mood, our politicians have come up with something they call "economic stimulus." It's just another name for OUR money!
People who live on Social Security have the least money, so they naturally want some of that economic stimulus. They normally wouldn't have to file a federal Income tax return but in order to get the stimulus, they have to file. And the government has to hire extra workers to process their forms.
It's late and I need my sleep. I hope no benevolent politician figures out how to rob me of my sleep and give it to those who can't sleep because of the mess they created.
Just three big hedge fund operators earned over 9 billion Dollars last year, betting that a mortgage crisis was in the offing. The Wall Street Journal reported back in January on how John Paulson pulled that off: http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB120036645057290423.html
Paulson's 2007 earnings were $3.7 billion (spelled with a B!). According to a Washington Post article published in the Press of Atlantic City today (April 18), George Soros (sound familiar?) also earned $2.9 billion and James Simons earned $2.8 billion.
||COMCAST IS CLUELESS!
Comcast enjoys monopoly status in our area. I waited years for DSL because cable was so expensive but Verizon slept. I finally condescended and bought into Comcast because I had to have more speed for managing seven websites and listening to Internet radio broadcasts. I have written elsewhere on this site about radio programming and Internet radio.
I wasted hours of precious time yesterday trying to fix a problem with my email. I was going to the wrong people for help. Comcast is the last place to go if you need help with Comcast because they are clueless!
I use Outlook Express for email because I can keep all my addresses on my own computer. Comcast doesn't like that. They (and many other providers) want your addresses on their servers. I won't go into the probable reasons for this but you can guess.
When I tried to send an email yesterday, I got a message saying that it couldn't be sent because Comcast had blocked all outgoing mail. I went to the Comcast site and searched "Help" only to discover the following:
Comcast's security experts have observed an increase in spamming exploits - specifically, attempts by spammers to hijack and use unprotected or infected computers to deliver their spam. The spammers' intent is to disguise their own identities - and they can accomplish these attacks without the knowledge of the computer owner. Therefore, if you received one of these e-mail error messages, it's possible that your computer is being used by these spammers without your authorization.
The message went on to instruct me what to do about it and I did it all including reinstalling McAfee and running a complete manual scan of my computer. I have automatic updating of both Windows and McAfee, so that should have detected any mischievous activity on my computer. The message also explained that my account had been blocked from sending email for a period of 24 hours.
After 30 hours, it was still blocked, so I tried a Comcast chat. That was a waste of my time, but Comcast always asks if the help was helpful and you have the satisfaction of clicking or kicking a little box.
I finally did what I should have done in the first place. I googled the key words of my problem. Many others have the same problem, so all you need to do is connect with them. I found a forum and the advice I needed in seconds! I changed the settings in Outlook Express and everything works fine.
I wish there was a way to tell Comcast, but they don't permit customers to communicate with their clueless "techies", nor do they
Google and they certainly don't read my blog!
||THAT'S HER JOB!
Everyone knows that men will never ask for directions. Nor do they read instructions when putting a new toy together. They don't need to if they are married.
I recall an incident that occurred shortly after our wedding. We were living temporarily in a 27-foot trailer behind my parent's house. After digging a cesspool, we needed to lift the trailer off the cement blocks and roll it to a new location. My father and I and an employee were trying feverishly to get the trailer off the blocks and onto its wheels again, but all to no avail. The jacks sank into the soft ground; a wooden beam we tried using to pry with broke. A second one was too short. My wife Verna came over and asked if she could help. Three grown men responded in chorus, "No, we can handle this ourselves."
Verna watched as we sweated and huffed and puffed with no success. Finally, she asked, "Why don't you get a shovel and dig under the blocks?" (No further commentary needed)
An elderly couple (it wasn't this one) was taking a longer trip and the weary husband finally
relinquished the steering wheel to his wife after hours of driving. The wife got into some traffic and became entirely frustrated and confused. Turning to her husband, she asked, "What do I do now?" Without hesitation, the husband replied, "If you were sitting here you would know!"
On Saturday, we were invited to the Williams home for "Hour's Devours" (I don't know how to spell it, but it is a French term for lots of little bits of good tasting food that take an hour to eat). Many of our good friends were there on time, waiting politely for us to arrive so they could begin.
I had been to the Williams home three times, but each time, we traveled with someone else and each time they took a different route. Still, I was convinced that I could find their place. If all else failed, we had a cell phone.
When we were within a mile of the Williams residence, I realized that we could drive hours without finding the place, so I asked my wife to call. She forgot bring the cell phone.
No problem! Husbands never forget to bring their GPS. There was an appropriate cartoon in today's paper that even gives my name, which is not taken in vain.
I poked the Williams' address into my GPS and gave the command, "Route to this address!" GPS stands for "Global Positioning System" and it is sometimes called "Navigation System." It is a fantastic device that never fails to tell you where you are and in the absence of a wife or in the presence of a wife who forgot her cell phone, it can tell men where to go. Our GPS can even be programmed to tell me in German, but every talking GPS only has a female voice. Men are accustomed to taking orders from women. The only place men give orders to women is in restaurants and the woman expects a nice tip for that humiliation.
My GPS told me to turn around and head in the opposite direction, so I obliged. After a mile or two, I said to Verna, "Something is wrong! I am certain that the Williams' house isn't in this direction. Verna assured me that the female GPS voice had to be right, so I continued driving where she told me to go. After a couple of miles, I insisted that the GPS was wrong and that I was right. I made a "U" turn and the GPS lady said, "Off route! Recalculating!" After several more such remarks, I had had enough and turned her off.
My wife took over where she left off. I dutifully turned the GPS back on and followed instructions until I "arrived at destination." I was in the right municipality, the road sign and house number were correct, but this was definitely NOT the Williams' residence. I headed for home and there was complete silence in our car.
We discovered later that there are two identical addresses in that town, but they are miles apart!
When we got home, Verna called the Williams homestead and told them not to wait for us. She wrote down instructions and we departed a second time. This time I had both a GPS and a cell phone, but I didn't need either one. My reliable navigator-wife got me there in record time.
||WHY I LIKE BOATS
I went sailing for the first time this year on Tuesday. The wind was irregular but the weather was otherwise perfect.
Some people ask me why I like boats and sailing. I grew up by a lake not far from the Delaware River and Atlantic Ocean, and I always loved the water. Along with cars, roller skating and a thousand other things, I enjoyed boating. I have nearly always owned a rowboat, canoe, motorboat or sailboat. I even built a few boats, the first of which I named "Miss Quito." The name had nothing to do with Ecuador but I felt it was a fitting tribute to early Swedish settlers in South Jersey, who made friends with the Indians, but were driven out by mosquitoes.
I once built a mailbox out of an old outboard motor. I gutted the engine compartment, making the gas tank into a hinged lid. I put a bright red plastic handlebar grip from a bicycle on the tiller. This could be folded up to let the mailman know there was mail in the box. I then painted the motor silver and red, lettered the family name neatly on both sides, and mounted it on a post next to the road. Someone took a photo of it and sent it to "Popular Mechanics" Magazine, where it was published without mentioning the name of the ingenious inventor! Someone else probably forgot their camera and stole the mailbox.
MY FIRST SAILBOAT
We had lived in Austria ten years when I got my first sailboat. While fueling my car in a service station, I saw a center board, mast, sail and rudder piled on the ground with a "For Sale" sign on top. I asked the attendant where the boat was and he said that it had been destroyed in a storm. I offered him $50 and he took the money, obviously happier than I was about that deal! I placed a want ad in the local paper in quest of a boat to fit my sailing rig. Someone responded and sold me a little 8 foot dinghy for about $100. I could hardly wait to go sailing.
For two weeks I was too busy and when I finally did have time, there was no wind. I rowed for an hour and finally loaded the dinghy back on the top carrier and drove away. In departing the lake, a nice wind came up to bid me "good bye.“ Winter soon arrived and the boat was buried in snow for several months.
Our financial situation as missionaries was always precarious and when Spring came, we desperately needed money to pay some bills. We had few saleable items, so the boat was first to go. It sold for double what I had paid, but this didn't cheer me much.
In August of 1985, we were busy with summer camps and I was fixing broken window panes, a constant attraction for Frisbees, soccer balls, kid's hands, feet or even heads. I drove to the city to order glass and had to wait for it. To kill time, I roamed about a large hardware store. There was a public bulletin board near the entrance where customers could place notices, so I stopped to read them. Someone was selling a small sailboat complete with car top carrier and slip wagon for only $250! It was a Kolibri (German for humming bird) just like the ones I had often drooled over in sporting goods stores. I remembered the prices too. They cost over $2000 new. I still had an hour and decided to drive to the address given. Surprisingly, the seller was at home, the boat was in excellent condition and no one had bought it. This was clearly the "leading of the Lord" so I purchased it!
Verna was not so elated about my bargain boat. "The summer is almost over, we have piles of work to do and are flying to America in a couple of days; is this the time to buy a boat?"
MY FIRST SAILING EXPERIENCE
It was the day before our flight to America, the weather was great and the winds were blowing briskly. I talked Verna, our daughter, Becky, and an Austrian student named Klaus into going sailing with me. Klaus was six foot four inches tall and I needed him to help me get the boat loaded on the roof of the car. Before long we were actually sailing at a good clip. The boat was not built to hold four adults, and water was dangerously close to the top edge of the boat. Verna couldn't swim well and we had no life preservers. Verna recognized the danger and asked to be taken back to shore. Obligingly, I turned the boat, but discovered that the wind was now against us. After several futile attempts to aim the boat towards dry ground, I decided that the wind was no longer a friend. We would have to row. After what seemed like an eternity, we finally beached, loaded the boat onto the car and headed for home. We had to leave for the airport at 4:00 AM and it would soon be dark.
On the way home, it was quiet in the car. Klaus was probably wondering why anyone in his right mind would enjoy sailing. Verna was packing suitcases in her mind and Becky slept.
DO MISSIONARIES HAVE SAILBOATS?
Word got out to that I had purchased a sailboat and a fellow missionary asked how I could justify such a luxury. I had not really given it much thought, but I explained that his television set had cost more than my boat and he probably spent much more time watching TV than I would ever spend sailing. We didn't own a TV, but that missionary soon bought a sailboat.
By the time the second person asked that question, I had an even better answer. I told them that the only biblical sports are fishing and sailing! Jesus COMMANDED the disciples to fish and sail. He once preached from the boat and on another occasion, he slept in a boat. Jesus often went sailing with his disciples on Lake Galilee. Jesus not only walked on the water, he even told the winds when to blow and when to stop blowing (Mark 6)! I have often wished I could do that. The Apostle Paul also went sailing, but he preferred to walk(Acts 20:13). It is no wonder either, when you read about his shipwreck experience!
This Saturday, I am driving to North jersey to pick up my 18th sailboat, of which seven are still in our yard for sale or to sail.
||MEMORIAL DAY MEMORIES
This is a time for remembering our military and veterans who have or still are serving us and our country. I salute them!
I have many cherished memories connected to this special holiday. First of all, my parents met each other at Camp Okanikon on Memorial Day and they later got married on Memorial Day. For that reason, we did special things as a family on Memorial Day, like go to the beach and get sunburned. In fact, my first beach date with Verna (my wife of 45 years) ended up that way. We couldn't touch each other for days! Fortunately, our lips didn't get sunburned.
Memorial Day is considered the kick-off of summer, when back yard grillers are fired up and kids start getting itchy for the end of the school year. For me, it is time to go sailing again.
I have accumulated many memories of sailing experiences, a few of which I share on the pages of this website. I struck a telephone pole with one sailboat and the mast fell through the bottom of another boat. I have many more tales to tell and hope to put them into book form someday. Perhaps I'll just publish them on this site. Stay tuned!
My most recent memory-making experience took place this past week. It all started when a good friend called and asked if I would like to have a sailboat that was sitting in his yard. It belonged to his son, who was willing to give it to me. He had no pictures but said he thought it was built in Sweden and the title said it was a 1986 Lofano sailboat, 19 feet in length. I Googled that information but found nothing.
I explained that I normally didn't mess with boats longer than 15 feet and even had to pay the landfill to get rid of two boats of 15 and 16 feet. I offered them on Craigslist free, but there were no takers!
A few days later, my friend had a visitor with a digital camera. He took pictures and sent them to me. The boat was nice looking and sitting on a decent trailer. When my friend said that a small Honda outboard came with the boat, I decided to go get it. My brother volunteered to go along to help with loading and driving. After a delicious meal, we returned to New Jersey. It rained for most of the seven-hour round trip but my brother did most of the driving. Thanks Dave!
I discovered that the boat had been re-titled in 1986, but the boat was definitely built in the 60s or even earlier. They used to build fiberglass boats of laminated material but today they spray it in a mold. The boat measured only 17 feet instead of 19 and according to a hardly legible tag on the transom, It was built by Lofland Sailcraft Inc. (not Losano).
Armed with this information, I started another web search and my real adventures began. There was almost no information about Lofland Boats on the web, but I found a couple of people asking about a Lofland Picnic on www.boatus.com/forum.htm/. One person gave a link to the Rhodes website where there was a photo of a Picnic. When I followed the link, there was no doubt that the boat I had hauled home was a Picnic. The PicNic was not built in Sweden but in Wichita, Kansas.
A man named Nils Lucander also got into the forum discussion, saying his father designed the boat. I wrote Nils, asking for information and he sent me a scan of the boat's design. He also asked if I would be willing to sell my Picnic. He had always thought it would be nice to own a boat his father designed. The owner of another Picnic undergoing restoration also asked if I would sell the boat.
I Googled the words "Lofland" and "Wichita" to see what I could find, and came across a Lofland family website which contained several sailboat graphics. I wrote an email to the address given under "Contact" and received a very nice letter from Allen E. Lofland. His father manufactured boats including the Picnic. He gave me a wealth of information about the boat and also mentioned that it would be nice to own a Picnic. I discovered that we have much more in common, which brings another Memorial Day memory to mind.
On Memorial Day, 1956, I attended a meeting at Camp Haluwasa in Hammonton, NJ and became a follower of Christ. That occasion changed the entire course of this old boy's life.
I had spent a few hours in jail shortly before Memorial Day of 1956 but the judge let me out because he knew my grandfather and I promised to scrape up a lot of money to pay my fines. In New Jersey, driving privileges are normally revoked after accumulating 12 points, but I garnered 22 points for various traffic violations faster than the cops could count - and I still had my drivers license! It was finally revoked when I left for college.
A lot more than my bad driving habits has changed since 1956. For one, I have made many good memories. And for all those readers who think life without God is more fun; take my word for it: It's not! I've been on both sides and you haven't!
||MY PREGNANT TURTLES
By the time I got married, I had owned 38 cars, and only two of them fell into the "pregnant turtle" category. One was a 1950 Mercury and other a 1950 Packard. That must have been a good year for turtles. A High School buddy owned a 1950 Hudson of the same caliber. I made fun of those oval-shaped bulky cars and vowed I would never own one. It turned out differently.
Coming from a large family, I had almost no financial help from home to cover college expenses. I gathered small bits of soap in the shower room and pressed them onto my cake of soap so it lasted all year. I worked summers and during Christmas vacations in the family construction business. I held various jobs both on and off campus during the school year. I picked broken umbrellas out of the trash or "Lost and Found", repaired them and sold them when it rained. I bought cheap (rusty) cars in New Jersey, patched and painted them, and drove them to college in South Carolina to sell. For the return trip, I bought rust-free collectible cars in South Carolina and sold them in New Jersey. One of them was the above mentioned 1950 Mercury.
After graduation I stayed at the college to work in the Art Gallery to pay off my school debts while my future wife was finishing her studies. When Verna graduated in January of 1963, it was time to buy another car for the trip back to New Jersey. I had three paying passengers lined up so I wouldn't have to pay for gas, but I desperately needed a car that would make the trip - and I only had $50. That was just enough for an injured pregnant turtle.
An art professor had pampered his 1950 Packard but it was no match for a large tree, which fell on it, caving the roof down to the back of the seats. His insurance called it a total loss, so he sold it to me for $50. I crawled inside, laid on the seat and kicked out the roof. I rented a U-Haul trailer, packed it and the Packard with all our luggage and found room inside for my three paying passengers, Verna and myself. Except for fixing a leaky radiator, buying tire chains to get through a blizzard and running out of gas in the same, our trip was uneventful. One of the passengers disclosed that he had no money and would send me a check. He still owes me the money, but if he contacts me, I will gladly forgive him the debt and be satisfied with collecting the interest.
Our pregnant turtle served us for our honeymoon and during the time Verna was looking more like the car with each passing month. After she gave birth to our first child, the Packard was sold for $10 profit. My brother worked at the local Volkswagen dealership and called to say there was a nice '50 Olds 88 for sale cheap. I was at work and told Verna to buy it.
||PREGNANT TURTLE TROUBLES
Right now I am concerned about the troubles of pregnant painted turtles in Malaga Lake. I am assuming that the problem is not confined to our local lake. There are many large painted turtles in Malaga Lake. Both male and female turtles share some problems - they can get caught by a fisherman or attempt to cross Route 40 and get run over by cars bent on supporting the Atlantic City casinos. Female turtles have an additional problem. When they get pregnant, they have to crawl out of the lake onto a sandy or muddy beach to lay their eggs. The warm sun incubates the eggs until they hatch. The newborn turtles make a dash for the lake, hoping to escape hungry birds.
Fortunately, turtles can live for many decades, but most of them never hatch. The few places along the lake that are not built up and landscaped are open to the public. And there are young people out there who don't particularly care about pregnant turtles. They drive 4-wheel drive pick-up trucks with powerful engines and big wheels. It is now fashionable to have a truck splattered with mud, so the owners of these vehicles look for dirty and wet places to get their trucks messy. They drive them around in circles, spinning their wheels to make certain the truck is totally covered with dirt. And then they leave to show off the results to their peers. Kids being kids, the peers ask, "Where did you get that cool mud job?" Soon other trucks are roaring around the back beach at Malaga Lake.
We take our daily walk through the woods and along the sandy beach. In May, we see the trails made by pregnant turtles, which laid their eggs on the beach. A day or two later, the eggs are smashed. Another year with no young painted turtles. Like the Detroit variety of turtles, the few survivors of the painted turtle may someday become valuable enough to conserve and preserve. If turtles are to survive for the next generation to enjoy, they must be kept in garages or zoos.
||OUR ENERGY CRISES
For centuries, man's primary need of energy was for heat. He also needed fuel to provide light, but because few could read, this was not especially crucial. Most people burned wood or perhaps coal to keep warm and lamps were fueled by oil from plants and whales.
With the arrival of the industrial revolution, the demand for energy began to spiral upwards. Grain and saw mills were built and powered by water. Glass factories and foundries used wood or coal in their furnaces. Factories were often powered by steam turbines, which were also wood or coal fired. In order to settle America's frontier, transportation became crucial. Railroads and mighty steam engines were built. Canals with elaborate lock systems soon crisscrossed the country for ship transport.
By the mid 19th century, oil for lamps and lubrication had gotten expensive due to the gradual decimation of whales. Just in time, oil was discovered in western Pennsylvania and the first oil wells created a euphoria that was unequalled even during the height of the California gold rush ten years earlier. Within three years, a barrel of oil was selling for ten cents; the barrel was worth much more than its contents. Talk about cheap energy! (for more on energy read my article: Truth or Tolerance?)
By 1900, America had become the world's major oil producing nation, but other nations soon began to search for oil in their own soil. For the most part, American oil companies provided the expertise and equipment for this quest. In 1938, American oil prospectors struck oil in Saudi Arabia. Arab nations were among the poorest in the world, with little more than sand to call their own, but oil soon changed that!
The first automobiles appeared around the turn of the century, but it was another 20 years before they were taken seriously as a viable alternative to the horse and buggy. It was a similar story with air travel.
Who is to blame for high gas prices?
The answer to this question is very simple: The greedy and the needy are the cause of high gas prices. We are needy and the others are greedy, but none of us is very generous when it comes to energy. If you consider yourself to be generous, why are you upset about high gas prices?
Today, we want and need energy for just about everything we do. Like air and water, energy has been plentiful and therefore cheap in the past. Because it has cost less than it was worth in past decades, we seldom thought about conserving energy. Now, China, India and other nations also require huge amounts of energy to fuel their booming economies. Our own growing appetite for oil is getting some stiff competition and oil-producing nations are simply reacting to the law of supply and demand.
Supply and Demand - or Free Trade
We can play the blame game for a little while, but sooner or later we need to get realistic. We are all subject to the rules of supply and demand, especially in a democratic society. Venezuela and the Arab oil lands have plenty of oil and it's all under government control. They don't need to be concerned about conservation. You have probably seen pictures of the extensive construction projects in Dubai that range from gigantic artificial islands with luxury hotels to indoor ski resorts in the desert.
The rest of the world has been accusing America of not being concerned about the ecology of our planet. I contend that there is no nation on the face of this globe that has done more sooner to protect the environment than the USA! We were first to make strict requirements for car and factory emissions. We have set a precedent for others in cleaning up our rivers and streams. No nation on earth has so many laws in place to restrict new construction and hinder development of properties where nature might be compromised. We have brought back countless species of animals that were near extinction, some of them to the extent that they have again become a nuisance or even a threat to human beings.
While Europe depletes its own energy reserves and Japan had few of its own to begin with, the Arab oil lands continue to pump oil unabatedly. No one knows how long this can go on, but there has to be a limit. Only America is sitting on its reserves. We presently get 17% of our oil from the Prudhoe Bay area but Congress forbids drilling in most regions where we have billions of barrels of proven soil reserves. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge alone could provide an estimated one million barrels of oil per day!
Americans are divided over the wisdom of this decision. Some argue that we should not use our reserves as long as we can import oil. It is perhaps the only thing of value that we will leave to the next generation. Others believe that we should tap these reserves now to rescue our floundering economy.
One strong argument for using our reserves has to do with international laws that govern offshore drilling. China, Cuba, Canada and others are drilling or preparing to drill 50-150 miles off our coasts where US companies are not permitted to drill. As long as we have no power to prevent others from sucking up the oil along our coasts and selling it to the USA for exorbitant prices, a Congressional ban on drilling for US firms doesn't make any sense at all.
One problem we face is the lack of modern refineries. We have not built one new refinery since 1976, yet the EPA requires at least 15 unique 'boutique' fuel blends that can be sold in different areas around the nation. This means that U.S. Refinery capacity is stretched so tight that even the slightest problem at a refinery causes enormous supply problems and price spikes. Building refineries may be necessary, but it doesn't increase supply.
Democrats have been blaming President Bush and the Republicans for high gasoline prices, but the price of gas has risen much more sharply since the Democrats took control of Congress. High gas prices are a boon not only to the oil companies, but even more for the government. For every Dollar the oil companies earn, the government receives four Dollars and doesn't even have to collect the money!
Other Energy Sources
Alternative energy is not a viable solution to our problem. Solar, wind and water power can only provide a small portion of our present energy needs.
Some argue for more atomic energy plants. We now have 104 nuclear plants which produce about one fifth of our total energy. European nations produce 40% or more of their power with an ever increasing number of nuclear plants, but we haven't built a nuclear facility in a decade. Nuclear energy is cheaper ($1.72/kilowatt-hour) than coal ($2.37) or natural gas ($6.35), but this is only economics. We must also consider the dangers and ecological factors. The proper disposal of spent fuel is a matter which has not been resolved.
What about taxing the windfall profits of energy producers?
A basic understanding of economics and politics would be helpful here. Higher taxes mean more governmental regulations and therefore more government, and taxpayers pay for government. Energy companies will simply raise fuel prices, which means the government gets even more of our money. We pay more and more while energy providers and the government get fat.
Environmentalists preach that we must conserve energy and urge the government to pass regulations designed to minimize the use of energy. These measures cost millions or even billions, yet they bring no relief and only frustration to Americans. Only the rich can afford hybrid cars and solar cells. The recently passed law requiring energy-saving (CFL) light bulbs is ridiculous (read my April 9th blog)! There is virtually no public transportation and the little we have is a catastrophe. At airports, we wait in long lines, go through countless security checks, pay extra for everything from earphones to drinks and then arrive late without our baggage. Rail travel is little better and in most parts of America non-existent. Should the government legislate building more railroads, taxpayers will pay for it. And I promise you that we will pay more to ride trains than to drive cars.
Americans who are worried about runaway energy and food prices should keep in mind that the upcoming election is not just about choosing a new President. We'll also pick a new Congress. I want to hear what the candidates plan to do when they get elected besides spend our money.
There is much that can and should be done to protect nature, like curb the chemical industries - which produce poisons that destroy birds, butterflies and bees - instead of subsidizing them. But these companies have strong lobbies and feed political coffers. Politicians seldom bite the hands that feeds them.
The reason for high energy prices is a combination of need and greed.
It isn't a simple matter to place the blame for high gas prices on any one person, industry, nation or political party. Nor does blaming solve our energy problems. We need to curb our needs and fight greed.
||WHY WE WALK
Two blogs back, I wrote about our concern for painted turtles. A local newspaper read my blog and decided to do an article on it. Our picture made the front page!
Although I repeatedly told the reporter that we were not upset with fishermen, she mentioned them along with the 4-wheel-drive trucks that tear up the beach and destroy turtle eggs. She also had us saying other things that we didn't say, but that is not the subject of today's blog. That is just media.
Many people recognized us in the newspaper because they see us taking our daily walks along the lake, through the woods and on roads through their neighborhood.
One woman saw us and told her husband, "Look! There is that couple that doesn't have a car." We corrected her and said that we did own a car. The woman looked astonished and asked, "Then why do you walk?"
Perhaps we are just too embarrassed to be seen in a "wooden car." That is what one little boy told his grandmother when he saw our station wagon.
People who read my last blog about high gas prices might think that this is why we walk, so perhaps I should reveal the truth.
We walk to keep healthy and because we love nature.
There is plenty of nature around our house. Verna has transformed our yard and garden into a colorful paradise that delights birds and bees, and even groundhogs and moles enjoy our garden to the fullest.
We have a screen tent in the back yard where we often eat. It has natural air conditioning and a panoramic view of our little paradise. We watch healthy happy humming birds feasting on sugar at their feeder while we avoid sugar at all costs. We follow the doctor's orders, eat healthy and take walks, hoping to get through a year without an operation.
There is something romantic about taking a walk on the beach and through the woods. I chose a special place in the woods where I always steal a kiss from my bride of 45 years. Not to be outdone, Verna picked a tree shaped like a large "V" which signals her to return the favor. That is such a nice path; we usually do a second round. Our kids coined a special name for that kind of silliness: "Childish parents!"
We see ducks, cranes, red-headed woodpeckers, frogs, painted turtles and other forms of wildlife on our daily walks. A wild turkey recently did a loud dancing number right in front of us. Verna soon discovered the reason for the excitement. I was standing on one of her chicks! When we came along, the mother turkey apparently gave a signal to her chicks and they all froze in their tracks. They were so well camouflaged that we would not have seen them had I not stepped on one. The chick died, but its memory lingers whenever we pass that spot.
Have you ever watched a water snake devour a frog?
The mosquitoes, ticks and strawberry flies in our area are tame. They will eat right out of your hand - or any other part of your body for that matter. We have learned that rubbing peppermint or basil leaves on exposed skin is a good deterrent.
People who don't take walks miss out on all that excitement, but they probably watch more violence on TV and live longer too. We are the only people in our neighborhood who take daily walks. That is why the turkeys are multiplying.
||A GRAPHICS LESSON
Summer has been very busy and I haven't written many blogs lately. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so this should make up for the blogs I didn't write. I took most of these pictures myself, so they can be considered my "words" - and I don't need permission to publish them here.
Graphics are useful to accentuate an important message or to help clarify something that is unclear. I will illustrate this truth using an advertisement which I received last week.
Graphic designers know to make the most important information stand out. Note what is placed in large, bold type. The reader should notice immediately that he or she can save a lot of money. This is the most important message and it got my attention. $467.55 is a lot of money to save, so I read the advertisement with interest.
But the graphic designing and advertising department made a couple of mistakes on this ad.
1) Because the sum given in bold print was unusually exact, my curiosity was aroused more than was necessary. Liberty Mutual doesn't know how much I presently pay for insurance, so how can they know - to the cent - how much I can save? I got suspicious.
2) That caused me to read the small print. Small print is not intended to be read. It is used to negate the significance of that which is shown in large print and the small print in this ad certainly accomplishes that. But the "small print" is not nearly small enough. Even a senior citizen like me can easily read it.
It is a proven fact that people pay more attention to symbols than to words. There are several reasons for this. Many can't read and write. Even American high school and college graduates are often illiterate. They do text messaging using smileys and other symbols. Another reason is that there are so many foreigners in the country who can't speak English, let alone read it. A third reason for the popularity of symbols is that it takes much less effort and time to recognize and understand a symbol.
This sign is a good example of the combined use of words and symbols. Because many customers of this Shop Rite store complained about getting lost on the parking lot, the manager had a helpful sign made with lots of arrow symbols. They neglected to paint the yellow, blue and black arrows on the asphalt, however, so we still got lost.
Unfortunately, the proliferation of symbols has a down side - no one notices them anymore. In fact, they are often treated as decoration.
My computer screen has dozens of pretty symbols (called icons) on it. I only use a few of them regularly, but they make an attractive wallpaper.
There are so many red and white stop signs along the highway that old-timers like me wonder if the Burma Shave signs are back. If you have read one stop sign, however, you've read them all. Stop signs are not as interesting as Burma Shave signs were, but they do add some color to the landscape without distracting drivers talking on their cell phones. Stop signs are so much a part of the scenery, that many people overlook them and cause accidents. The highway department had to invent 4-way stops in hopes that at least one of the vehicles will stop.
It is the same with symbols on packages. Those arrows and broken glass symbols are merely decorative to the people who handle them.
We also had trouble exiting this ice cream parlor on Route 47 in Blackwood, NJ. The symbols are obviously decorative in nature.
Really effective advertising no longer uses graphics. Many TV ads are now simply entertaining video clips, the most popular of which can be watched on YouTube.
Using interesting words to attract customers is also becoming quite popular and this method of advertising may even induce students and illegal aliens to learn English. The old Burma Shave signs were ahead of their time.
Here is an example of this trend from Austria
Enjoy your summer and pay attention!
||A TRIP BACK 50 YEARS
We just returned from a trip to Meadville, PA where my wife celebrated her 50th High School class reunion. Actually, it was a trip into the past! Only her classmates have gotten old!
Many of the roads around Meadville are not paved and our car was soon covered with dust. We stayed with friends whose telephone line is little different from 50 years ago. They do have Internet, but it takes several minutes to download an email that has no attachments. A simple photo takes half an hour. There is no such thing as cable or broadband where they live, so I didn't watch TV and was not online for ten days -- and I didn't even miss it.
Other than these little inconveniences, life in the 50's was great! We took walks through the woods and fields, picking berries where it is so quiet you can hear butterflies flapping their wings. One evening we counted 7 deer grazing near the woods - all of them bucks! In a few weeks their velvety antlers will be grown and hardened and they will fall in love. Then they won't be so nice to each other! Lightning bugs near the ground blend with the stars in the clear sky. We couldn't count all the groundhogs and no one complains if you shoot them -- some cars even swerve to hit them! Raccoons are also very numerous and we saw where a bear had marked its territory by scarring a tree with it's claws.
Not far from Meadville, we watched people feeding bread to the huge fish at the Pymatuming Lake spillway just like they have been doing since the early 30s. Ducks and geese can be seen actually walking on the backs of fish, hoping to snatch a few crumbs. Politicians and environmentalists have decided to put an end to this practice on January 1, 2009. They want visitors to buy fish food from them.
The Class of '58 was the last class to graduate from the old Meadville High School, so we took a tour of the building which has since been tastefully converted to apartments and commercial offices. We also visited the football stadium that has artificial turf. I asked if it contained lead but nobody knew or cared. 1958 was the last year the Meadville Bulldogs had a perfect 10-0 winning season.
We bought lunch at Eddie's Foot-Long, which has been around for 61 years and got our desert at Hank's ice cream, which has also existed since the early 50s. We traveled to all these places on yellow school busses that had no AC or seat belts -- just like 50 years ago. Saturday night after getting the class picture taken, we had a delicious meal in a restaurant on Conneaut Lake -- managed by a classmate. A band played and sang 50's music to which some of the forever young members of the class jitterbugged, rocked and rolled.
Now we have returned to the 21st century. There are mountains of washing to do and 70+ emails screaming for our attention. The car needs a tune-up and the tank is empty again!
It's difficult to believe that all this hectic began 150 years ago right there in the paradise where we stayed last week! In 1859, Edwin Drake drilled the world’s first oil well, leading to a boom that surpassed the “California Gold rush” ten years earlier.
Like the area around Drake's Well, the region of Sutter's Mill is also a quiet paradise today. There are 180 species of birds, black-tailed deer, wild turkey, coyote, fox, and even mountain lions.
What will New Jersey be like in another 100 years?!
||HELP GOVERNOR CORZINE BALANCE THE BUDGET!
An annual survey done by the Reason Foundation and released July 31, 2008, finds that New Jersey's highway system is the nation's least cost-effective. Professor David Hartgen, of the University of North Carolina, who conducted the study, found that New Jersey ranked 47th in road conditions and 50th in cost-effectiveness. New Jersey has been at the bottom of these ratings since 2000.
(Read the entire report published in the Press of Atlantic City, August 1, 2008:
According to the report, each mile of New Jersey roadway presently costs taxpayers $2,209,394. Administrative costs alone come to $71,720 per mile!
New Jersey has a $5 billion budget deficit and the state highway system costs $6.5 billion. You've seen the signs encouraging people to adopt a highway. There are only 2,900 miles of highway in New Jersey, so less than 3,000 citizens of New Jersey could step forward and adopt one mile. This would balance our budget and even give us a surplus! Governor Corzine could set an example for others interested in balancing the budget. For less than what he spent to get his present job, he could adopt 25 miles of New Jersey highway.
I am certain that private citizens could figure out how to reduce spending and still improve New Jersey highways.
Bridge construction is a good example of how tax money is wasted in New Jersey. Just seven miles from where we live, on Route 40, the highway department has been working on a small bridge for two years. It is half finished. It was half finished a year ago, but someone made a mistake and they had to destroy what was already done and start all over again. Because no one accepts the blame, taxpayers are footing the bill. It has taken even longer to build half a bridge on the second attempt; the highway department is probably determined to do it right this time.
Bridge construction in Elmer, NJ after two years. Note that the sign which has been there from the beginning says, "Road Closed" instead of "Lane Closed." Police could ticket the thousands of motorists who drive through here every day!
The bridge construction in Elmer is not an exception, but rather the rule in New Jersey as any observant motorist can verify.
Our town of Malaga recently had to suffer through an expensive and senseless rebuild of its roads and bridges over two years time. When plans for the construction were released, all the important people in our region converged on Trenton and begged them to make some logical changes. Their petitions fell on deaf ears. "It's my way or the highway."
A few years ago, another small bridge was replaced on Route 40 in Sharptown. That job also took about two years to complete while millions of cars and trucks were detoured several miles over secondary roads.
There is at least one positive exception to the highway malady in New Jersey and hopefully there are more. I am full of praise for the construction of the Somers Point Bridge and Causeway leading into Ocean City. Both the bridge and the construction process are commendable accomplishments. Perhaps the job was outsourced?
There was also a positive note in the Reason Foundation's Report. New Jersey had the seventh lowest highway fatality rate in the nation.
Not many people are killed in slow or stalled traffic.
||INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY
The founding fathers of our great nation were determined that this country would not suppress or mistreat minorities. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were carefully worded to assure individual rights of every citizen. Liberty and justice was for all, not just a privileged few.
An important part of this was the idea that a person was considered innocent unless proven guilty by a court of law. It is not like that in much of the world. Even in Western Europe, the burden of proof lies with the accused. A person accused of a crime must prove his innocence.
When we lived in Austria, I was driving in another Province for a conference. On a free afternoon, I took several others into town to do some shopping. On our way into town, several oncoming motorists blinked their headlights, which is the standard warning that police are checking for speeders. Everyone in my car looked at the speedometer and saw that I was doing the legal speed limit. I rounded a curve and a policeman waved me over and issued me a ticket for speeding. I argued that I was not speeding and all my passengers assured him that this was so. The policeman was unmoved and simply said, "You can appeal the ticket in a court if you like. If you convince the judge, you won't have to pay." Ticketing out-of-town motorists is cash income for many communities.
||PUNISHING GOOD CITIZENS
Today, the constitution of our founding fathers has been twisted and re-interpreted to the extent that exactly what the founders intended to prevent is occurring.
The innocent are punished and the guilty rewarded! Hard-working, decent, honest, tax-paying citizens are penalized while illegal aliens, lazy bums, criminals, unscrupulous CEOs, and corrupt politicians enjoy special privileges and legal protection.
Consider the following scenarios.
1) Keep your property in good repair, clean and environmentally friendly and the government raises your taxes. Lower taxes are the reward for neglect.
2) Owners of rental properties have few rights. Renters who don't pay their rent or utilities and trash the place are protected by law. The owner isn't even permitted to refuse to rent to a person who has a record of not paying bills.
3) Criminals get away with murder, robbery, rape and other crimes because their clever lawyers discover a "technical error." Recently, three young men gang-raped a 13-year-old girl. They video taped everything, laughing and joking while the girl cried. They got off the hook with probation because the police had not gone to law school. They made a technical mistake when confiscating the video tape.
4) Home owners who have fiscally sound mortgage policies and faithfully make their payments are being charged $300 billion Dollars to bail out speculators who gambled with risky mortgages and the companies who got rich off these speculations.
5) While waiting for a flight, I saw a wallet lying under a seat in the Newark Airport waiting area. I gave it to a lady at the Information Counter. She reprimanded me, saying that if I had given it to a policeman, I would have missed my flight and been the subject of intense police interrogation until my innocence could be ascertained. No wonder people look the other way when a crime is taking place. They are not so much afraid of reprisals from the criminals as they are fearful of legal implications.
6) About a year ago, police were hunting for an escaped prisoner in our township. A farmer called 911 and reported that he saw someone lurking behind his shed. Two police cruisers soon showed up and captured the escapee. In the process, however, one of the officers tripped over a plow in the dark and injured his leg. He sued the farmer!
7) A pastor and his wife had raised their three children successfully and decided to take in a state child. Their request was refused because "they could be expected to instill religious ideas in the child." The child was instead placed with a pair of homosexuals.
8) Our founding fathers inserted precautions in the Constitution against the formation of a church-state or state-church in America. Much of Europe was ruled by church-state coalitions for centuries, assuring privileges for the elite and suppressing the peasants. Most Arab nations are still ruled in this fashion. Women and non Muslims have no rights. Our Supreme Court has re-interpreted the Constitution to declare that America must be an atheistic nation - a nation without God! Only one other nation in history was thus declared. Albania, the homeland of Mother Theresa, was soon reduced to the poorest nation in Europe.
Belief in God should be voluntary. Mandating a specific religion is wrong, but outlawing God and religion is worse! We are already observing the consequences!
||WHAT ARE YOU?
They say you are what you eat. You probably spend about 15 hours eating each week, but there are 168 hours. This only pertains to the physical part of you but that is important.
You spend around 50 hours sleeping or trying to sleep. That is also important, but few people I know have much influence over that part of their life.
Unless you are retired, you are probably employed. You take orders and fulfill obligations 40 hours a week, in order to get money to feed your family. If you are retired, you may or may not take orders. Enough said.
So much for what you are.
||WHO ARE YOU?
You are what you see, hear and do in the other 63 hours.
If you are a typical American, you spend half that time doing things like getting dressed or undressed, working around the house, spending time with the kids, attending games or other functions and shopping. The other half of that time is spent reading, listening and watching the various media forms.
A millennium ago, few people could read, so communication was mostly confined to speech and artistic expression, the bulk of which took place in churches. Few understood Latin, so paintings, statues and stained glass windows communicated the only message common people could understand. There was little communication with nobles. We can conclude that media made up a minuscule portion of a person's week.
A century ago, publications had become very popular. Many people learned to read and write and they read anything they could get their hands on. But they worked long hours and reading was mostly confined to the daylight hours on weekends.
That situation has changed drastically! Tiny tots hardly out of diapers spend hours a day watching TV and videos. Children watch an average of 28 hours of TV per week and the average adult will spend over 10 years of his or her life glued to the tube. We have radios in our homes, workplaces and cars. Most households subscribe to a weekly or daily newspaper and several magazines. And now the Internet is demanding a lot of our time.
||WHO OWNS YOUR MIND?
We should be concerned about who owns and controls the media, but most people couldn't care less.
They are just consumers.
A tiny article in yesterday's Press of Atlantic City aroused my curiosity. The headline read, "120 Gannett workers cut at six NJ papers".
I bet you never heard of Gannett either, but they own a sizable portion of our minds. Gannett has been gobbling up media for nearly a century and now owns over a thousand newspapers including 85 dailys in America. Gannett also owns 23 television stations and online operations that amount to 15% of the Internet audience. Gannett employs 46,100 people.
I had never heard of Gannett.
My appetite was whet to learn more. I Googled "media conglomerates" and discovered that Gannett was not listed among the top five media giants. They are General Electric, Time-Warner, Walt Disney, News Corporation and CBS. In fifth place, with only 14 Billion in revenues (2006 figure), CBS has only 27 TV and 140 radio stations. http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart/main
This is an election year. We should really know who owns our minds.
||AN INTERESTING PROPOSITION
Professor Richard P. Sloan, of Columbia University wrote an article that was published in the Press of Atlantic City on September 1, 2008. http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/145/story/244542.html
I can't allow his article to stand uncontested. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions, but by the same token, when I hear or read opinionated statements of faith from someone else, I am entitled to agree or disagree. In this case, I feel obligated to counter Professor Sloan on the basis of my own faith. If you quit reading here because you don't like to talk religion, please read at least the next paragraph.
Everything you do, say and think (also what you don't do, say or think) is a statement of YOUR faith. You may not like it, but it is very true and it is also important to think about this fact.
||"DOCTORS MUST NOT PUT RELIGION AHEAD OF PATIENTS' HEALTH"
This is the title of the article I am referring to and not my own opinion.
Professor Sloan lauds the California Supreme Court for ruling against two physicians "who allegedly denied - based on their religious opposition - a legal medical treatment to a patient based on her sexual orientation. The decision was issued in a lawsuit filed by a lesbian against doctors in a Vista, Calif., medical group who refused to artificially inseminate her."
Here is my argument:
First of all, the insemination of a woman, lesbian or not, is in my humble opinion, neither a "medical treatment" nor a health issue. How the Supreme Court of California could rule otherwise is a mystery - unless they had an agenda.
Secondly, laws must be obeyed, but there is no law requiring a person - not even a doctor - to do everything that is legal. Why the courts should think differently must be explained.
Thirdly, a medical doctor must consider the health of the whole person and not just that person's body or, as in this case, his or her personal wishes.
Professor Sloan probably got his job teaching "Behavioral Medicine" at the Columbia University Medical Center because he shares the same agenda as the California Supreme Court.
Sloan is offended that a "Pharmacy for Life" opened in a Washington DC suburb, that doesn't sell condoms, contraceptives or the "morning after" pill. He claims that pharmacies have an "ethical obligation to act in the interest of patients."
He further states that 14% of US doctors give their patients "substandard care" because they "believe that their religious convictions are more important than the well-being of their patients."
Sloan seems to equate "well-being" with whatever a person desires. A good doctor would hopefully have a different definition. A doctor's definition of a "patient" would also be vastly different from Sloan's. Sloan would definitely consider a woman who demands an abortion a "patient." Could a girl who wants her tongue pierced or a guy who wants his butt tattooed be considered patients for whose "well-being" the doctor is "ethically obligated?"
Professor Sloan tells his readers about the intent of our founding fathers, who framed the Constitution. In his opinion, religious freedom is a person's right to be "free of religious domination by others."
I contend that the "unalienable rights" mentioned in the Constitution do not refer to entitlements. And "well-being" is not synonymous with health. Selling contraceptives and artificial insemination have nothing to do with personal rights or health.
Please, Professor Sloan, explain to me how refusing to artificially inseminate a woman or refusing to sell condoms can be considered "religious domination"! Is the refusal to sell pornographic material (often legal) "religious domination?" McDonalds refuses to sell alcoholic beverages here in America (they sell it in other lands). Are they infringing on the "rights" of their customers who need alcohol for their "well-being"?
I am neither a Roman Catholic nor am I opposed to the use of contraceptives, but I respect the rights of people who believe differently. I am not Jewish, but I respect the rights of those who keep the Sabbath and dietary laws. I am not a Jehovah's Witness, but I respect their religious refusal to serve in the military and to accept or give blood transfusions. A person of that faith would hardly choose a career as a surgeon or military officer. The Amish have horse and buggies instead of cars, and they do without electricity. I espouse no such convictions, but I would gladly fight (Amish refuse to serve in the military) to defend their rights to that life style.
Professor Sloan would likely say that my blog is "religious domination." Insisting that doctors do whatever the patient demands is also "religious domination." It is just a different religion.
||WHEN YOU CATCH A NICE FISH IN ALASKA, YOU DON'T HAVE TO THROW IT BACK
I doubt if liberal Democrats listened to Mrs. Palin last night. What I like about her is she seems to be a listener and not just a good speaker. We need more listeners in Washington. Thank you John McCain for that great catch! You caught her in Alaska, so you don't have to throw her back. In New Jersey, tax-paying sport fishermen have to throw the 17" flounder back while big fisheries are able to keep anything that swims into their nets. Sort of like NJ politics, don't you think?
I am writing this blog in California, where the sun
always shines and it seldom rains. Cars don't rust here, but you see fewer
oldies on the road than in New Jersey. The 16-lane freeways are stuffed full
of late-model SUVs and Hummers. You wouldn't guess that gas prices are
highest in the nation. California uses about 20% of America's energy and
there is enough oil off shore to supply the state's needs, but Californians
don't want drilling along their coasts.
If you see someone with a nice tan, he or she is
probably Mexican. Many Californians have pools in their backyards, but they
prefer air-conditioned living rooms with big screen TVs.
Swimming pools are filled with drinking water fed
through green-coded pipes, but lawns and parks are irrigated with water from
purple- coded pipes. Purple indicates recycled water. They use recycled
water on field crops like spinach, peppers, tomatoes and salad. A couple of
years ago, New Jersey farmers took a beating because of an e coli outbreak
that was finally traced to California spinach. More recently, it was traced
to tomatoes and peppers. Uncooked veggies that are irrigated with recycled
sewer water are not good for your health, but the FDA won't tell you that.
California agricultural exports are worth billions. New Jersey's crop loss
was just a drop in the bucket in comparison.
Please don't think I am picking on California. I am
writing in this state and it is somehow refreshing to realize that New
Jersey is not the only rouge state.
We are flying with Southwest Airlines. It is probably
the only airline that allows two bags per passenger at no extra cost. In
order to show her gratitude for such generosity, my wife crammed all of our
things into one suitcase. As a result. the bag was a pound too heavy and the
lady at the check-in desk said we would have to pay a $25 penalty. I opened
the suitcase and removed a few items, putting them into a carry-on. Carry-on
bags are never weighed.
In my rush to redistribute our belongings, I forgot
that I was carrying a 2 1/2-inch Swiss Army Knife. It was of course
discovered and confiscated, but I didn't land in jail. When they checked our
carry-on bags, we discovered that shaving cream and Crest toothpaste are
potential weapons of mass destruction. These too were confiscated.
When boarding a flight from Kansas City to Phoenix, we
showed valid passports for personal identification. The officer rejected
them and asked if we had any other personal identification. I argued that
the passports were issued by the United States of America Embassy in Vienna,
Austria, but he remained unmoved. Only after showing him our New Jersey
drivers licenses was he satisfied.
It's a good feeling, knowing that Homeland Security is
doing its job.
We have made four flights so far and have two to go
before we get home. Stay tuned!
||An Expensive Two Weeks
We left home for Kansas City September 8, flew to Southern California on the 12th, returning home on the 22nd. The flight was cheap - less than $1,000 round trip for two persons. Our children treated us like royalty (while the grandchildren treated us like their slaves), so we had few expenses. Total expenditures for the two weeks came to around $500 for a total of about $1,500. That is a little more than our monthly Social Security income, but we only do this once a year.
One day prior to our return trip, I picked up a newspaper and discovered that the US government had ripped us off to the tune of $4,000! That would be our share of the $700 Billion bailout of American financial institutions.
||Living Within Our Means
As missionaries, we always tried to live
within our means. In four decades of marriage, we never owned a home or had a personal credit card. We lived frugally and saved about 10% of our meager income in a 401 for our retirement.
We retired in 2003 and decided to purchase a 3-bedroom, single bath rancher. By cashing in most of our 401, we could pay half the purchase price. That is when we were introduced to American financial ethics. The real estate agent told us we would never get a mortgage for the other half because we had NO credit ! We never made debts and in America, you only have credit if you have debts.
Only because we were personal friends of the President and the Chairman of the Board of a local bank were we able to get a home equity loan. The gas, electric and telephone companies all demanded a large caution fee before giving us services. In order to get car insurance, we had to prove that we had money in the bank. We had to pay a higher rate even though I showed the agent a letter from our European car insurer of 35 years stating that we had never had a claim.
The previous owner of our home was paying $2,400 a year for property tax, but our rate jumped immediately to over $3,000. We built a garage for $7,000 and taxes went up another $700 per year. In order to save on heating, we chopped down a few oak trees and installed a fireplace. The tax increase for the fireplace was more than our fuel savings! We now pay over $4,000 and people tell us that is cheap for New Jersey!
||We Obviously Did It All Wrong
We should have made a lot of debts and then applied for a mortgage on a huge house at the beach. We wouldn't need to insure the house either. If a hurricane destroys it, the government will declare a disaster area and others will pay for rebuilding. We don't need insurance on the car. Let others pay the uninsured motorist fees. No one would sue us because we have no equity. In a worst case scenario, we could lose our home for not making payments. The government would give a bank money to loan us for another house. Instead of paying $4,000, we would be receiving a much larger handout.
It's the American way of life!
||This Story Hits Where it Hurts!
I love peanut butter and can hardly live without it. When my wife goes out to eat with her friend, I rejoice because
I can finally have a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.
Yesterday, I read a sad story in the Press of Atlantic City that really disturbs me.
The Long Beach Island School District has decided that kids who eat peanut butter sandwiches are not permitted to eat with the rest of the kids because some
of them might be allergic to peanuts.
Reporter Donna Weaver writes, "Nine-year-old Jasper Feudi has a decision to make: Eat peanut butter or sit with his friends at lunch."
The school district's Web site gives its explanation for such a drastic measure. "Since 1960, the incidence of food allergies in children has
grown fivefold, from one in 100 children to one in 20 children." School District Superintendent Garguilo said that the state Department of
Health and Human Services now requires schools to come up with new policies to deal with students who have food allergies.
This decision reminds me of the Philadelphia restaurant owner who was told to remove a sign from his establishment requiring customers to place their
orders in English. The court said his employees must learn Spanish. It amazes me that no one complained about this blatant prejudice against speakers
of 5000 other languages!
Why did the school district single out kids with peanut allergies? What about kids allergic to tomatoes, french fries, milk or a thousand other foods?
This is a typical example of the stupidity and illogical "thinking" prevalent in our modern society.
The next step will be chasing us peanut butter lovers out of restaurants and making families eat separately if one of the family members has an allergy.
I doubt if the ACLU will go to bat for us peanut butter lovers. They only fight for the rights of abortionists, gays and criminals.
Peanut butter lovers, stand up for your rights or lose them!
Not long ago, it was like that with smoking rules. One smoker had more rights than a thousand non-smokers. If we non-smokers didn't like their stench,
we could go elsewhere - and most of us did.
The rules have changed and smokers are now the ones who have to leave if they don't like the rules. That didn't happen because non-smokers stood up for
their rights, but because of greedy smokers and lawyers, who started suing the tobacco companies for big money.
Which gives me an idea. We peanut butter lovers are still in the majority and those with food allergies only make up 5% of the population. We must fight
for our rights and threaten to sue if this situation is not reversed.
Are you with me kids?
||WHY I RETIRED IN NEW JERSEY
A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me why on earth I would retire in New Jersey, where the taxes are highest in the nation.
You have probably seen the Honda ad for used cars. "It may be used, but it's still a Honda!"
I may be a retired foreign missionary, but I'm still a missionary. Missionaries go where there are needs. For 38 years, we helped poverty stricken people in Eastern Europe, worked with drug addicts in Western Europe, and we assisted political refugees who had experienced persecution and hardship under brutal dictatorships. Economic and social needs were part of our work, but a major part was dealing with spiritual needs.
No one wants to talk about spiritual needs today even though these are often the root cause of many other needs. In fact, if spiritual needs are met, many can solve their problems with little help from others.
||LAWS, MORALITY and ETHICS
I have been blogging and writing a lot about greed, but was surprised to hear both presidential candidates talk about greed in their debate as though this was some sort of criminal offence.
Please! Greed is the American way of life and there is nothing illegal about greed. That is a spiritual problem and we dare not mix religion with politics. That is a matter for churches -- and churches dare not talk about politics. Somewhere in our Constitution, there is purportedly a statement to that effect although I have not yet located it.
For the secularist, greed goes hand in hand with generosity. Many of our elected government representatives want to be generous to financial institutions which are floundering due to their greed. Because politicians need all their own money (often donated by lobbyists and unidentified foreigners through Internet transactions that can't be traced, so it would be unethical to use it for anything other than personal needs), they become greedy for taxpayers' money.
Greed, like laziness and many other things, is not criminal. Having sex with anyone who is willing is not illegal unless one of the partners is underage. Even lying is no crime unless it is under oath before a court of law. Even there, it could be explained away as a false interpretation or understanding. These are all matters of religion, which has been banned from public life since the sixties.
That is why some people are furious about Sarah Palin running for a high political office. She is a religious fanatic. She shoots innocent animals and eats moose soup. She shows a contempt for science because she believes that nature with all its beauty and intricateness could not have been the product of mere chance while the simplest inventions of man are heralded as strokes of genius. She was cold-hearted enough to allow her Downs syndrome baby to be born rather than have it slaughtered.
||MY SUGGESTED SOLUTION TO OUR FISCAL PROBLEM
The original $700 Billion bailout document was only 2 1/2 pages long. My solution to all of America's problems can be formulated in one paragraph.
First of all, we divide America into two separate parts. We are almost there already. Those of us who deal with spiritual needs and believe in God should have no part in the secularist government. We neither contribute nor receive anything from them. The same is true for them. We do what we believe is right in our part of America and the secularists do what they want in theirs. That is complete separation of church and state, which is what the secularists want
anyway. Any secularist who wants anything from us must cross that line and join us. We promise not to meddle in their affairs. The secularists can do whatever they want to each other, with each other and against each other completely free from religious restraints. They can not argue their case on the basis of greed, honesty or other religious premises. They will have to figure out how evolution will solve their problems.
Are we ready to vote?
||REWARDS AND PUNISHMENT
You can't always reward people for doing the right thing, but I think it is time to stop the government from punishing good citizens and rewarding the ones who do stupid and illegal things.
||NEW JERSEY AND DELAWARE
New Jersey has been rated one of the the
least friendly to business for years already, but it finally hit rock bottom according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.
Delaware was among those listed near the top, so it can't be the location. Read the entire article in the Press of Atlantic City http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/106/story/276997.html
||NEW JERSEY AND LOUISIANA
In the same edition of the Press of Atlantic City, A reader commented on Governor Corzine's attempt to blame Washington for New Jersey's lousy economy: "Only two states have not had surpluses in the past three years: New Jersey and Louisiana. Louisiana had Katrina,
New Jersey has Corzine and Democrats."
||AUSTRIAN POLITICIAN DIES IN CRASH
The radical but charismatic Austrian politician named Jörg Haider made the covers of major US news magazines -- along with a US Senator named John McCain (Feb. 14, 2000 TIME; March 13, 2000 Newsweek, international editions).
On Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 1:30 AM local time (7:30 PM Friday Eastern time), Haider lost control of his car while passing. His car rolled several times and although belted in, Haider was killed. This marked the end of a personality who some claimed was on the way to becoming another Hitler.
Haider was a personal friend of Sadaam Hussein, Muammar Ghadafi and other extremists. His positive statements about Hitler and the Nazis got him into trouble on several occasions, but he had a strong following in Austria and even in the European Union. Many felt he had been setting his sights on more EU influence. He was good looking, athletic and a popular speaker who knew how to work the crowds. Like Hitler, he often held his rousing speeches in beer halls.
This news hit me especially because we lived in Austria for nearly 4 decades and watched political developments there first hand.
Haider's rise to power reminds me in many ways of the rapid political ascent of another politician here in America and I am concerned about the stark similarities that I am observing.
||THE SILENT MAJORITY LOSES
A German of aristocratic descent, who owned a large industry and estate prior to World War II, said that very few
Germans identified with National Socialistic politics. Most were too busy to care. He said that he and others believed the Nazis were a small bunch of radicals who would soon fade into oblivion. He rested in the fact that the great majority of the German people were hard-working and peace-loving people.
"Before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control," he said. "My family lost everything. I wound up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories."
Most Russians just wanted to live in peace when the Communists came to power. Over 20 million Russians were murdered by Stalin and his cohorts. The peaceful majority was irrelevant.
The same was true of the Communist takeover in China. Although the great majority wanted peace, 70 million died and a billion were enslaved by Communism.
Prior to WWI, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across Southeast Asia, leaving 12 million Chinese dead -- in spite of a majority of peace-loving Japanese citizens.
We are told that the great majority of Muslims are peace-loving, hard-working people. It is only a few radicals who create problems. The fact is, that radical Muslims now rule Islam and the silent majority can only give silent consent. Radical Muslims own most Arab nations and mosques. Radical Muslims are waging about 50 shooting wars around the world at this very minute. They teach children in Mosques and schools to hate Jews and Americans. Parents who offer their children as suicide bombers are honored and rewarded.
Need I remind readers of recent events in Rwanda, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria and Algeria?
The silent majority always loses control to a radical minority, but it is also true that a minority which speaks out and is willing to defend truth and freedom, can hold the fort and defeat those who would like to own us.
What is true on the international scene, is also true nationally, state-wide and in the local community. A vote is important and keeps one from becoming part of the silent majority, but it may not be enough to keep us from being owned. If you don't like that prospect, you had better start praying, speaking out, writing letters, making phone calls and taking actions to defend our freedoms.
||EMINENT DOMAIN ABUSE IN NJ
"The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management." --Thomas Jefferson
New Jersey Continues to lead in Eminent Domain Abuse
State Director of Americans for Prosperity, Steve Lonegan writes:
"Yesterday I attended a press conference in Trenton with Cindy Gallenthin. The conference was in front of the Department of Environmental Protection where bureaucrats were meeting to plan an aggressive use of eminent domain to take Cindy’s farm. Cindy was prohibited from attending or partaking in the very meeting that could determine her future.
"This was the not the first time Cindy fought this battle. She and her husband George Gallenthin won a historic property rights lawsuit when the New Jersey Supreme court ruled 7 to 0 in their favor, defending them against an unlawful attempt to take their family farm by the Gloucester County Improvement Authority. The case took years and more than $500,000 in legal fees, as well as an emotional toll on the family.
"When George Gallenthin left for Iraq with the Defense Department where he is currently embedded, he thought his farm was safe. He was wrong.
"The Gloucester County Improvement Authority is planning another attempt to take the Gallenthin Property—this time using a different approach-- claiming the land is needed for “public” access to a private business and therefore constitutes as “public use.” Cindy Gallenthin is alone and trying to defend the family farm against a coalition of Big Business and Big Government.
"The Founding Fathers understood the importance of owning property without the fear of government powers interfering. Do not think the Gallenthin family farm is an isolated incident. Everyone reading this newsletter could become a victim of eminent domain abuse. I am urging all of our citizen activists to come to the aid of Cindy and George by calling your legislator, calling talk radio and writing letters to the editor. While George Gallenthin is in Iraq, that is the least we can do to stop this abuse. "
||BIRDS DON'T CARE
The birds in our area are welfare recipients. All summer, my wife fed sugar water to the humming birds. Now that it's getting colder, she feeds seed to other birds.
If we didn't feed the birds, they would have to work for a living, but my wife doesn't have the heart to pull the plug on their lifestyle. She could get a job working for the US Government. When the birds find an empty feeder, they look quizzically towards the kitchen window and my wife gets the message. Soon, the bird feeder is filled to the brim with top quality nourishment.
I also spend money to feed wildlife. My wife provides assisted living for birds while I provide assisted suicide for rodents and groundhogs. I buy glue traps and Juicy Fruit chewing gum for mice and moles. I once fed a groundhog dry hominy grits, but it rained. The meal swelled up before it got into the groundhog's stomach.
My wife just came home with a package of thistle seed for the birds. She wanted to be certain that the birds wouldn't suffer the same fate as babies who drink Chinese milk or play with Chinese toys, so she read the label carefully.
In bold print and in three languages, the package clearly stated: "Made in USA".
After arriving home, she read the small print (also in three languages). It said, "This package contains products of one or more of the following countries: India or Ethiopia." Because she had not heard of any poisoned stuff being imported from these two countries, she decided that it would be safe to feed her birds. She took out the feed bag and hung it on her feeder. Guess what! "MADE IN CHINA" was printed in bold letters on the bag (only English).
The glue traps, Juicy Fruit gum and hominy grits I bought were NOT made in China! I wonder if mice, moles and groundhogs eat bird seed...
||TOMORROW IS ELECTION DAY IN AMERICA
Tomorrow is election day, but we may not know the results for weeks if ever. The presidency may not be determined by the votes of eligible citizens, but rather be decided by lawyers in court. They will argue and fight and accuse each other. They will order recount after recount until one side wears down and concedes defeat. The winning side will breathe a sigh of relief that all the cheating and illegal activities had paid off. And then a spokesman will tell the public that their noble efforts had resulted in the largest voter turnout in history. They won't tell you how many dead Americans or non-Americans voted, or how many voted twice or how many ballots vanished before they could be counted.
The noted political scientist, Walter Dean Burnham, said that America has "the modern world's sloppiest electoral systems." Our system is not only vulnerable, but actually invites fraud.
I just finished John Fund's excellent book on the subject of voter fraud, titled Stealing Elections. The first edition had a few flaws, but the 2008 printing has been updated and is well-documented with the latest facts. Every American should read this book!
Fund, who writes for the Wall Street Journal and other publications, not only gives a clear picture of what is wrong, but also outlines what must be done to correct this miserable situation. He effectively counters arguments of politicians and parties who fight every attempt to clean up the mess.
I highly recommend this book!
ELECTION DAY IN AMERICA
On the left are news releases and my comments are on the right:
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) New Jersey voters decided Tuesday to put tighter restrictions on how the state borrows money.
But they also rejected a measure that would have allowed local officials, rather than the governor, to appoint joint municipal judges who serve multiple communities.
With about 76 percent of votes counted, the borrowing question was backed by 57 percent of voters, while 43 percent opposed it. The judicial appointments question was rejected by 55 percent of voters.
We received a sample ballot ahead of time which had two questions for voters to answer.
Although my wife and I are both university graduates and have good eyesight, we could make little sense of the wording of these two questions.
We read the "interpretive statement" and were just as confused.
We knew what we wanted and didn't want, but were still confused. The "NO" or "YES" boxes were the only part that we understood, but we couldn't figure out which of the two boxes we should check.
I suppose the experts would attribute this to our senility.
Based on a survey by Fairleigh Dickinson, we are not the only ones who had trouble deciphering the statement. (You can read the Associated Press report on the lower left side of this page - I hope that is not too confusing).
Poll finds voter confusion about wording of N.J. ballot question
by The Associated Press
Monday November 03, 2008, 5:35 AM
A poll found that how a ballot question is posed has a great impact on the amount of support it receives in New Jersey.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll out today focused on the ballot question that would put more restrictions on how the state borrows money.
When asked whether they support an "amendment to the state constitution to require all state agencies to get voter approval for any money they borrow through issuing bonds," 75 percent of respondents said they would, while 9 percent would not. That statement was formulated by the FDU pollsters.
However, when the question was put to respondents using the actual "interpretive statement" found on the ballot, which is intended to explain the proposal, only 46 percent said they would support it and 28 percent would not.
I am not very bright, but can tell you that a Democratic lawyer formulated both the question and the interpretive statement. If the question had been formulated by an ordinary English teacher or even an average grammar school pupil, everyone would have understood it and it wouldn't have had a ghost of a chance to pass.
November 14, 2008
The Star-Ledger of Tuesday, November 11, 2008, reported that a New Jersey man was charged in a flag-burning incident. Terrence Byrnes, 57, was issued a disorderly conduct summons after he was spotted burning a flag that was flying on a pole in Bergenfield.
It made headlines because that doesn't happen very often in America. Americans only burn their President.
We have had a "Burning Bush" for eight years and Americans will continue to burn him for the next four years, led by our new President. The Republican battle cry was "Drill, Baby, Drill!" Democrats and not a few Republicans cheer, "Burn, Bush, Burn!"
A friend of mine sent an article about this situation to his friends including me. You can read the article at the following address if you want:
One recipient sent a short response which I also received. He or she wrote (I only got the email address with no name attached): "I am sure President Bush will be
perceived [sic] by history as one of the worst presidents we've ever elected to office....he is a good man but has not been a good leader."
I must comment on the above statement about President Bush. Please forgive me if I step on toes here. I am more than willing to be corrected if wrong.
I am not a died-in-the-wool Republican nor was I always happy with what President Bush did. I was unhappy that Bush signed a law allowing the media to hold monopolies. That cost McCain! I was also unhappy about the $700 Billion bailout that he (and most other politicians) pushed and finally got passed. I only voted for Congressmen who were against the bail-out.
But I believe in honesty and clarity when condemning Bush or anyone else including Democrats.
Since America elected a Democratic Congress in 2006, we have seen regular gasoline soar from $2 a gallon to $4 per gallon and back down to under $2 per gallon again. It just isn't fair to make high prices President Bush's fault and give the Democratic Congress credit for lower prices.
When war was declared in Iraq, the Dems accused Bush of going after the nations' oil. During the presidential campaign they ran ads accusing Bush of NOT taking their oil.
When George W. Bush took office in 2001, the unemployment rate was 4.76%. When the Dems won a majority in Congress, 2006, it was 4.63%. That was in spite of the attacks on September 11. Since 2006, the unemployment rate has shot up to a 22-year high of 7.6% (when Ronald Reagan inherited the White House from Jimmy Carter).
America's economy was thriving and home equity was rising in 2006 when the Democrats took control of Congress. American households have seen their home equity drop by $1.2 trillion dollars since then.
Stocks and mutual fund losses amount to another $2.3 trillion in that same time period.
I would never contend that the Democrats are wholly to blame for unemployment or the housing crisis, but blaming George W. Bush is unethical.
Remember it's Congress that makes law and not the President.
Taxes under Clinton 1999
Taxes under Bush 2008
Single making 30K - tax $8,400
Single making 30K - tax $4,500
Single making 50K - tax $14,000
Single making 50K - tax $12,500
Single making 75K - tax $23,250
Single making 75K - tax $18,750
Married making 60K - tax $16,800
Married making 60K- tax $9,000
Married making 75K - tax $21,000
Married making 75K - tax $18,750
Married making 125K - tax $38,750
Married making 125K - tax $31,250
Keep these statistics for a year and see what they will look like on Obama's watch!
Remember, he promised over and over during his campaign to cut taxes for 95% of all Americans! And the reason he will give for raising taxes? You guessed it! Bush gets burned!
We have been hammered with the propaganda that the Iraq war and the war on terror is bankrupting us. Consider the following statistics:
About 12 MILLION illegal aliens have entered our country through the southern border and as many as 19,500 illegal aliens from terrorist harboring countries. Millions of pounds of drugs, cocaine, meth, heroin and marijuana, crossed into the U. S from our southern border.
$200 Billion Dollars a year are paid in wages to illegal aliens.
In 2006, illegal aliens sent home $45 BILLION to their countries of origin.
$11 Billion to $22 billion is spent on welfare to illegal aliens each year by state governments.
$90 Billion Dollars a year is spent on illegal aliens for Welfare & social services
$2.2 Billion dollars a year is spent on food assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC, and free school lunches for illegal aliens.
$2.5 Billion dollars a year is spent on Medicaid for illegal aliens.
$12 Billion dollars a year is spent on primary and secondary school education for children here illegally and many don't speak English!
$17 Billion dollars a year is spent for education for the American-born children of illegal aliens, known as anchor babies.
$3 Million Dollars a DAY (not year!) is spent to incarcerate illegal aliens.
30% percent of all Federal Prison inmates are illegal aliens.
Illegal aliens have a crime rate that's two and a half times that of white citizens.
Nearly one million sex crimes committed by illegal immigrants in the United States.
The National Policy Institute estimated that the total cost of mass deportation would be between $206 and $230 billion or more than $40 billion annually over a five year period.
||WE THE PEOPLE...
November 14, 2008
There used to be a document floating around that started out, "We the people..." It was called "The Constitution of the United States of America." Has anyone seen it lately?
In 1791, ten amendments to the Constitution were ratified. Commonly called the "Bill of Rights" (although the tenth amendment had nothing to say about rights), these amendments are more familiar to most citizens than the Constitution itself.
Of all the amendments, the first has probably received the most publicity, and only the first parts, generally called "freedom of religion, speech, the press and assembly", are well known. We hear a lot of talk about the "Separation of Church and State" clause in the First Amendment. This is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution or Bill of Rights.
Actually, the First Amendment guarantees the free exercise of religion including speech and the print media anywhere in this great nation, including in public places. Read it for yourself!
The First Constitutional Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Today, I want to talk about the lesser known part of the First Amendment. It concerns the people's right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The word "petition" could refer to any one individual, but it would seem, rather, that this refers to petitions voiced by a large number of citizens. This is in keeping with the tone of our Constitution that begins with, "We the people..."
To "redress" means to "rectify" the matter addressed. Citizens have the right to a proper response. This right has been violated time and again by the very elected officials who are obliged to assure our Constitutional rights! It has gotten so bad that most citizens no longer sign petitions because experience tells them that it will do no good. In most cases, the petition will not even be recognized.
Some government officials try to explain this inaction by arguing that it is in the government's competence to determine whether a grievance is valid or not. I insist that our Constitution gives citizens this right. As already stated, the Constitution is clearly a document of the people designed to limit Congress and not the other way around. Lincoln emphasized this in his Gettysburg Address when he said that our government was "of the people, by the people and for the people." The obvious interpretation is that citizens have the right to petition and be heard.
Some argue that citizens with a grievance have the right to petition but not necessarily to have their grievance heard, let alone redressed (rectified). Proponents of this interpretation compare it with the right of free speech. You have the right to speak but not necessarily to be heard. Although this sounds logical, the First Amendment was definitely not passed with that idea in mind. The whole concept is that a grievance be properly considered before being rejected as inappropriate.
One example of the failure to redress a citizen petition is in regards
to the President elect's citizenship. Our Constitution (Article II, Section 1) requires the President to be a natural
born citizen of the United States. Barack Hussein Obama claims to fulfill the qualifications for the office of President
but has consistently refused to provide documentation. Citizen petitions and even lawsuits have failed to achieve this
desired objective. He refuses to provide documents that could prove that he is a natural born citizen of the United States
who has not relinquished his American citizenship at any time. On the other hand, he has denied access to documents
which some contend could prove otherwise.
I am aware that a couple of websites go to great lengths to argue the case for Obama, but the fact remains, that the
original "Long Document" birth certificate and other pertinent documents remain under lock and key. What is
shown can be easily counterfeited or falsified.
Hundreds of thousands have viewed the video of the attorney, Philip J. Berg:
regarding the lawsuit against Obama and the DNC regarding Obama's eligibility to be President of the US.
An Associated Press release published October 25, 2008, reported that U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick had dismissed
the case. Judge Surrick ruled that Mr. Berg "has no standing" (is unqualified) to question Obama's citizenship
(I read the entire PDF document of Surrick's ruling). Apparently, our judges are more concerned about a citizen's qualification
to file grievances than they are in a person's qualification to be President.
What is most alarming to me is the fact that both Obama and the Democratic National Committee are refusing to answer all
accusations and to produce evidence that could refute these serious accusations. This is at best, an admission of guilt and
at worst a statement that says neither the US Constituion nor the people of the United States are important to them.
The plaintiff, Berg, is now appealing to the Supreme Court.
Regarding the AIG. and Wall Street bail-out plans, I contend that using taxpayer money without the people's explicit consent to
bail out private corporations and financial institutions is unconstitutional. The FDIC guarantees the investor's money, but not losses of the institution.
The insurance giant and bailout recipient AIG has already received over $120 billion from the Treasury and Federal Reserve. The initial bailout was made days prior to the passage of the "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008" without congressional authority. There is no Constitutional basis for such an act, yet citizens and organizations which have filed grievances are not being heard. Now many large corporations including the three auto giants are claiming billions in bailout money that belongs to taxpayers. The cities of Atlanta, Phoenix and Philadelphia are also clamoring for bailout money that belongs to us. Both Republican and Democratic politicians are deliberately robbing tax payers on the pretense of an economic crisis.
There is no doubt about the crisis, but the greater danger is the deliberate ignoring and violation of the people's Constitutional rights.
||GET EDUCATED AND VOTE!
When I hear people complain about the government, I ask
if they voted. If they answer negatively, I ask why. They often say, "they are all corrupt" or "my vote won't count anyway" or they will give some other lame excuse. If they voted, I ask them why they selected a particular candidate. I am amazed at the answers I get. Some say, "I am Republican" or "I always vote Democrat." Many voted for Obama because he is young, or eloquent , or good looking, or because they hate George W. Bush, or for all the above reasons. Those voting for McCain had to have other reasons, but some voted for him because he is white or because his running mate was a woman.
Many Americans and illegal aliens have grievances who do all in their power to milk the system for supposed entitlements. Others are incarcerated for committing heinous crimes or don't pay their taxes.
People like those described above may not deserve to be heard, but I am concerned that the grievances of responsible citizens are not being heard and redressed.
Political candidates make promises and everyone knows that they seldom keep them. These are only bait designed to get votes. I don't listen to what a candidate promises, but check his or her track record, philosophy of life, concept of government and ethical views. These are of great importance to me. Regardless of whether I vote for a candidate, however, I expect an elected official to serve the people of the United States and not his own interests, those of cronies, campaign contributors or of special interest groups.
Many and perhaps most Americans swallow commercials whole without reading the fine print. They overload the Internet with forwarded messages that contain preposterous claims without checking their verity. And they are gullible enough to believe whatever politicians, activists and the media tell them without checking their verity.
I appeal to all good Americans to study the important and hopefully still pertinent documents of our founding fathers. Let's fight for our rights!
November 21, 2008
This blog was motivated by my brother, who is totally frustrated with the US Postal Service. He is not alone!
The USPS prints and sells what they call NVI (no-value indicator) stamps. According to Wikipedia, "Non-denominated
postage is intended to meet a certain postage rate that retains full validity for that intended postage rate even
after the rate is increased. It does not show a monetary value on the face."
The US Postal Service has its own definitions (plural) and customers are left in the dark.
Most postal consumers think that a NVI stamp, which has no value printed on it, is the much heralded "Forever Stamp"
Consumers like Forever Stamps because when postal rates rise, they are not forced to purchase stamps in small
denominations to make up price differences. The Postal Service doesn't lose anything either, because the purchase
of Forever Stamps represents an interest free loan. Some stamps will be lost, damaged or come into albums of collectors,
which is also a gain for the PO.
Forever Stamps in Canada are marked with a "P" so you don't get confused. In the good old USA, NVI can indicate
anything the Postal Service wants it to mean. When you purchase NVI stamps, you must ask many questions and write
the answers down on a piece of paper which is clipped to the stamp so you know what it is worth. Don't write on the
stamp or it will be invalidated. Always ask lots of questions. Ask what the stamp costs, if it will still be valid
after postage rates are raised or if it is a Forever Stamp.
If you buy anything in the supermarket or drugstore, you know what you are purchasing and it probably has a price tag
on it. If the product is perishable or has a time limit (gift certificates etc.), law requires this information to be
stated on the product or package. This protects the customer from being cheated or overcharged.
Not so when you are dealing with the government. If you purchase stamps at a Post Office, you hope the person at the
counter is honest and that the stamp will still be valid the following day. Only the Postmaster knows what a stamp is
worth and what it will cost to send your letter or package. He or she will not know when rates will change and may
have to check the books for all the different stamps, size and weight restrictions and the destination. The customer
has no book and he never knows when rates may increase.
That is why most people have turned to the Internet.
Most of us still send Christmas cards by snail mail. If I have any money left after all the bail-outs, I may send a
few cards to my best friends. I will try to remember to tell the Postmaster, "Not NVI stamps, but Forever
Stamps." I hope that is what I get.
November 27, 2008
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the USA.
It all started when a group of Pilgrims crossed the ocean on the Mayflower and landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620.
Half of the Pilgrims died that first winter, but thanks to helpful Indians, the others made it through the second
winter. In order to show their gratitude to the Indians and to God, the Pilgrims invited the Indians to a meal.
Nearly 2 1/2 centuries later, Abe Lincoln proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving.
Much has changed in America since 1863 and even more since 1620.
TIME TO THANK OR TANK?
This morning's newspaper reported that Thanksgiving Day has the highest number of drunken
drivers on the highways. I thought New Years Day held that dubious honor.
This sad statistic seems to have something to do with sports and food. Thanksgiving Day is a time to eat and watch football.
And many Americans consume a generous amount of alcohol. They drink with meals and continue drinking while watching the game.
If their team wins, they celebrate by drinking and if it loses, they "drown their sorrows".
And they drive.
Thanksgiving Day is also the heaviest travel day of the year. Thanksgiving Day was originally a day for thanking God, but
it has become a day for tanking gods, both the belly god and the chrome and metallic variety.
The Romans built temples to their gods and coliseums where they held sporting events like racing chariots and burning
Christians. And they consumed a lot of alcohol. Americans are simply continuing Roman traditions rather than following
the Pilgrim's example.
The Pilgrims and Abe Lincoln would turn over in their graves if they could see what has become of Thanksgiving Day.
Appropriately, tomorrow is called "Black Friday!"
||VERIZON TRIES HARD
December 6, 2008
We received a friendly letter from Verizon today. After disconnecting from Verizon and going with Vonage, Verizon says
it is sorry to see us us go. Verizon wants us to reconsider. They have great deals for returning customers. They write,
"We value your business, and we are ready to do what it takes to bring you back, and keep you satisfied."
Verizon tries hard!
We tried futilely for six years to get Verizon broadband. We received dozens of advertisements in the mail,
encouraging us to subscribe and saw hundreds of other ads for Verizon DSL in magazines and local newspapers. We
really would have preferred Verizon to Comcast (see my April 19, 2008 blog)
and we actually signed up for it. We were placed on their waiting list several times, but couldn't get DSL.
||WE TRY HARDER
We live where three major highways connect. Twenty thousand cars pass through here every day and a thousand jets
fly over our house on their way to or from Philadelphia Airport. At night, the lights of Philadelphia metropolitan area are reflected in the
sky. But Verizon DSL still isn't available in our area.
The Director of Marketing for Verizon, Stephen Williams, added a P.S. He wrote, "Don't wait. Call 1.877.625.4407 (Mon-Fri 8
am-6 pm ET) to speak with a Verizon representative."
I think I will call on Monday. I am going to time how long it takes to get a real person on the line. I already know what he or
she will tell me. "We are sorry that Verizon DSL is not yet available in your area. Would you like to be notified when it becomes
When you have time, read my article titled Our Telephone.
||HOW TO DESTROY COMMUNITIES AND GET VOTES
December 16, 2008
Hundreds of small towns in New Jersey have been mandated by unelected bureaucrats in Trenton to submit plans for the construction
of 100,000 low income housing units, by January 1, 2009.
Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Director, Joe Dorea (non-elected), has refused a request from hundreds of
small town (elected) mayors to extend this deadline.
Governor Corzine's Council on Affordable Housing (COHA) has instead mandated an additional 100,000 units!
Here is the Mission Statement of the DCA housing council:
"The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and its affiliate agencies are
dedicated to providing New Jersey residents with a choice of housing that is affordable,
sound, environmentally responsive, well-maintained and located in communities that are
attractive, safe, economically mixed and easily accessible to employment and services.
DCA and its affiliate agencies will work to ensure that community integrated housing
options exist for residents with moderate, low and very low incomes, senior citizens and
residents with special needs."
The main reason housing is not affordable in New Jersey is high taxation. That is why thousands are
leaving the State every day. Government regulations, fees and paperwork also double the cost of home
construction, upkeep and sales. Because the government is building these "Affordable Housing Units",
all work is done by members of labor unions.
My wife and I are senior citizens living on Social Security. Property taxes on our little 3-bedroom rancher
have doubled in the past six years. We invested much of our savings to install an efficient gas furnace and we
built a chimney for alternate heat in event of power failure. Property taxes were promptly raised $1,000. That
is more than a friend of our pays annually on his new $300,000 home in Delaware.
Proponents of COAH claim that building 200,000 "affordable housing units" will provide homes for
many low income people. Page 15 of the 2006 Housing Report
explains what that means:
"Special Needs populations include a number of groups such as homeless individuals and families; mental health consumers;
persons with developmental and physical disabilities, victims of domestic violence, veterans with disabilities, persons with AIDS/HIV,
ex-offenders re-entering communities from correctional facilities, and youth aging out of foster care or leaving the juvenile justice
The report speaks of "hard to house" persons who will be "mainstreamed" into your neighborhood. The state
places ex-criminals, AIDS infected persons, sex offenders and pedophiles in these housing units. Visit the State police website
and find out how many of these individuals are in your community. We have a pedophile living on our dead-end street where a
number of school children also live.
The existing government in Trenton knows that it cannot survive if too many NJ residents are hard-working, tax-paying, upright
citizens. They desperately need "hard-to-house" persons at election time. Beneficiaries of government handouts seldom
bite the hand that feeds them - and houses them. In order to keep low income, hard-to-house people living in the most expensive
state in the nation, the State is condemning small communities to build low-income housing for them.
Tom's River has 102 known sex offenders, but is mandated to build 4,386 Low Income Units. Hoboken, home of Governor Jon Corzine,
is one of New Jersey's largest cities, but has only 5 registered sex offenders. Politicians don't want them in their own
December 18, 2008
Casinos generally don't reveal statistics on their operations, but after doing some extensive research on the Atlantic City
casino operations, I came up with some revealing facts.
In 2005, 35 million people visited the 14 Atlantic City casinos. That comes to nearly three million per month or 96,000 per day,
making Atlantic City the most frequented tourist attraction in America.
These same casinos generated $5 Billion in gaming revenue, an average of $142.86 per customer and day. Because slot machines have
a high rate of payback, it takes quite a while to get rid of that much cash. Every time the slot machine spits out money, it is
counted as winnings and the slot machine keeps a tally for you. You can readily see why a gambler's "winnings"
can be many times the amount he actually spends. The money is "recycled" until nothing is left. It can take hours,
but players always manage to get rid of their money. That is why many gamblers claim that it is simply entertainment.
||CASINOS AS BENEFACTORS
When the casinos opened in 1978, we were told that taxes would go down. New Jersians now carry the highest tax burden in the nation. Property
taxes are double the national average with the average private home-owner paying $15,000 per annum.
One fourth of our Social Security income goes to pay taxes on our suburban 45-year-old rancher, with 3-bedrooms, a single bath and crawl space.
Any candidate for public office who fails to put tax relief foremost on his platform hasn't the ghost of a chance to get elected.
In 2005, Democratic Senator, John Corzine, campaigned successfully for the
office of Governor with promises to ease the tax burden. One of his first acts
as Governor was to raise the sales tax from 6% to 7%. Political talk about
lowering property taxes has gone on for years, contributing to global warming.
In January, 2007, State politicians grudgingly agreed to cut property taxes for everyone except senior citizens living on Social
Security (like us). Few have seen any relief, however, because any reduction in property taxes is more than compensated by higher assessments.
Haddon Heights citizens met in a church on June 26, 2007 to protest the sudden hike in their property taxes. The 100-year-old house of one senior
citizen was re-assessed for three times its previous value! The owners feared losing the home they had lived in for decades.
Casinos like to boast about how many jobs they create and the generated taxes "which benefit seniors, the disabled and economic revitalization programs
in New Jersey.” They employ PR people to inform the public about all the benefits they receive from gambling. And they hire clever accountants
who manage to keep profits down and owners rich.
One third of Atlantic City's casinos reported losses for 2005! We have all heard that 2008 was a bad year for the casinos. Don't expect any tax money
from them this year!
In order to escape taxation, the "Casino Reinvestment Development Authority" (CRDA) was formed. Yesterday's December 16 edition of the Press of
Atlantic City announced the opening of the Atlantic City Express Service (ACES), a new $20 million double decker train that brings gamblers to
A.C. from New York and Philadelphia. That is how casinos "benefit seniors, the disabled and economic revitalization programs in New Jersey."