Monday, September 26, 2011

Letter To The Editor

Truth be told, Barack Obama is a disappointment. I think we are better off now than we would have been if John McCain won the election, but that is not a very comforting thought. On the other hand, if the current contenders are what the Republican Party has to offer in 2012, voting for Obama is the only option.

I don’t believe it is unfair to have had incredibly high expectations for President Obama since it was he who encouraged us to do so - he raised the bar for himself and he has not delivered. I can’t tell you whether or not what he did prevented a depression or saved the auto industry. I can tell you that what he did with healthcare was far from what I had hoped for – I favored a public option. I also expected to see our troops leave Iraq. Afghanistan is beyond anything I imagined.

As for the Republicans, they came to realize that President Obama is a nice guy. Unfortunately for us, they decided to see him fail at any cost and if that meant destroying our economy, then so be it. Rush Limbaugh was the very first American citizen to publicly express his desire to see President Obama fail and now that is the basis for everything the Republicans do. Again, unfortunately for us, President Obama is not a fighter. He has been bullied by the Republicans to the point of national embarrassment.

President Obama is clearly capable of courageous action. He got Osama bin Laden. He authorized an actual boots on the ground raid deep inside Pakistan. Go figure?

I tried to watch the Republican Party’s candidates’ debates. They were painful. Nothing of substance came out of them. The Republican hopefuls seemed to be competing for one liners of limited comedic value. I’m not sure who they were appealing to. I have a great deal of respect for Dwight D. Eisenhower – were he alive, I can’t imagine him sitting through such a tawdry display of no-talent presidential wannabes. I can’t imagine him even being considered as a candidate for any office in the Republican Party today.

It’s not easy to be president and it’s all too easy to judge presidents harshly. I’m not sure where we are going anymore. I am sure that our elected officials cannot create jobs. The jobs are gone because a lot of our industries and jobs have moved out of this country leaving too many people here, in the United States, unemployed. The unemployed people here have no money to buy anything and thus there is an ever diminishing market here in our country. If you understand that, you understand that everything being said by everybody about job creation is just a lot of hot air.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Letter To The Editor

Our family left Suffolk County, New York in 1980. By then we were starting to feel the results of the unbridled development that was transforming our county. Suffolk County used to be referred to as “the country”. It was rapidly becoming an extension of New York City. Nothing was spared from this unplanned overdevelopment; that included everything from our native shellfish industry to our property taxes.

When we moved to Delaware in 1996, we witnessed the early stages of the overdevelopment of Delaware. As in Suffolk County, the various legislative authorities seemed to be bending over backwards to accommodate the developers at the expense of both the existing residents and those newly arriving in Delaware. By the early 2000s, the price of land in Delaware had ballooned beyond anything anyone could have predicted and undeveloped space was disappearing at an alarming rate.

Homeowners’ associations became de rigueur. In order to purchase a home in a development, you had to agree to accept membership in the homeowners’ association. Homeowners were saddled with responsibilities they knew nothing about. These responsibilities would remain in effect forever and it did not matter whether or not anyone in the homeowners’ association had the necessary knowledge or experience to handle those responsibilities. I believe in 2003, Kent County made membership in a homeowners’ association mandatory for anyone moving into a development with a common drainage area.

I’ve had years of experience with homeowners’ associations. I’ve found that people often run for the board in their homeowners’ associations with the very best intentions only to find that they are ill prepared for the responsibilities facing them. The homeowners themselves are legally bound by the decisions their boards make and can find themselves legally obligated to pay exorbitant fees for poorly conceived decisions on the part of their boards. Because in almost all cases the homeowners’ association’s by-laws indemnify the various board members, members have little or no recourse for their board’s administrative and/or financial mismanagement. I just spoke to a friend of mine from Smyrna who lives in a development with a homeowners’ association. His board was stopped (at the very last minute by its members) from making a $10,000 commitment to have work done on their drainage area. Thankfully someone knew to question this expenditure and they are now facing an expenditure of between $2,000 and $3,000.

What the legislatures have allowed to happen is neither good for the homeowners nor good for the community as a whole. Calls for comprehensive planning are nothing new. Comprehensive planning is necessary. What is also necessary is for the county and state to step up to the plate and address the problems of those who are now locked into homeowners’ associations with no end in sight.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Letter To The Editor

In a manner reminiscent of “The Perils Of Pauline”, Congress has raised the debt ceiling. What could have been done in a day was done in months. Among the many things that were not done was resolving the FAA shutdown. As taxpayers, we have paid our leaders salaries while they took turns over-emoting and avoiding their responsibilities. Now we are paying them to take a vacation while continuing to avoid their responsibilities.

Raising the debt ceiling has done nothing to improve employment opportunities. Raising the debt ceiling has done nothing to resolve our fiscal problems. Raising the debt ceiling has not produced a budget. Among the other things that raising the debt ceiling has not done are: tax code reform; immigration reform; energy policy reform; health care reform; entitlement reform; and military policy reform. Avoiding the FAA shutdown has put thousands of people out of work and reduced federal revenues while leaving air travelers to pay an unnecessary premium on their tickets.

I don’t know how things got this bad. We have certainly allowed ourselves to be bamboozled. We have continued to elect the shills of campaign contributors. To win our support, those shills wrap themselves in the flag, religion, and national security.

We need to end the wars. That should be the first hurdle any candidate has to clear with us, the voters. Imagine what would have happened if the last bunch of freshman we elected had been elected on an “ending the war” platform. If you are tempted to vote for someone because they are campaigning on Christian/family values or strict adherence to the Constitution, stay home and do us all a favor. If you plan to vote either Democratic or Republican, stay home and do us all a favor. If you are gullible enough to be taken in by campaign slogans and buzz words, stay home and do us all a favor. Vote for people with specific, unambiguous agendas such as ending the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

When it comes to economic theory, if you are in debt or living beyond your means, you should consider the possibility that you are not necessarily the best person to articulate or identify an economic strategy for our country. When politicians make economic solutions sound too simple, maybe they are just running a scam or maybe they are just stupid or maybe they are both. I don’t think following fools will help the situation. TV and movie stars and celebrities make their living feeding us fantasies, they just might not have the answer to anyone’s political or economic problems.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Letter To The Editor

In case you don’t know it, what the Democrats and Republicans have been treating us to over “raising the debt ceiling” is called Kabuki Theater. Kabuki is a highly stylized form of classical Japanese drama. The costumes and makeup are exaggerated. The song and dance is mesmerizing. No one falls asleep during a Kabuki performance.

The problem with relegating national economic policy debate to Kabuki Theater is that the audience gets so caught up in the action that it totally forgets whether or not what is being debated has anything to do with reality.

I’m reasonably sure that everyone now believes that if the debt ceiling is not raised the economy of the entire planet will collapse. The reason that everyone believes this is because that is all we see and hear on the evening news – regardless of what network we choose to tune into. The fact that FOX, CNN and MSNBC all are espousing this is “proof positive”. Who knows, it may even be true, but that is not the point.

The legislation necessary to raise the debt ceiling is historically very simple. It has traditionally been a one line sentence that says the debt ceiling is now officially raised to X dollars. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. It does not and has not required any other language such as that dealing with “budget cuts” and “tax hikes”.

Ideologues of both the Democratic and Republican persuasion all agree that the debt ceiling must and will be raised. I’m guessing there will, at the very least, be a simple vote to raise the debt ceiling that will pass both Houses of Congress and be signed by President Obama.

This debt ceiling charade is the Kabuki version of next year’s presidential election campaign. That’s right; this has nothing to do with the debt ceiling. It also has nothing to do with our budget deficit. This is Kabuki.

The real killer of our economy is the money we spend on war. The billions we have spent each week for over a decade has put us in debt, yet no one is focusing on that. Our financial problems are first and foremost a result of war spending.

The fact that our elected leaders are in the pocket of all their major campaign contributors has only made matters worse. The money-men have looted our economy and devalued our dollar. This is nothing new – it has been happening for decades. Also over the last few decades our technology has steadily displaced human beings in our work force, our manufacturing has been relocating overseas and our jobs have been outsourced overseas. This is why our unemployment is so high.

If our leaders want to drastically reduce our budget deficit, they need to end the wars and bring our troops home. If they want to strengthen our dollar, they must prosecute all those who have ill-gotten gain from manipulating our banking and insurance industries. If they want to help bring employment back to the United States, they must tax those industries that have relocated manufacturing abroad and outsourced jobs overseas.

Professional wrestling is our unique form of Kabuki. It is rapidly being replaced by Washington politics. In the meantime, people are dying and our wealth is being concentrated into the hands of fewer and fewer people. This is what is truly happening. This is our current reality. The legislation we so sorely need has nothing to do with the debt ceiling. We need a national energy policy, we need immigration reform, we need health care reform, we need so many things – we need responsible legislators – we have third rate Kabuki actors.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Letter To The Editor

The Casey Anthony trial is over and many people are clearly unhappy with the outcome. I watched a good deal of the trial and that included all of the opening and closing statements on the part of both the prosecution and the defense. I have tried not to watch the various commentary on the part of various experts and network pundits.

During the course of my career I have testified in both federal and state courts. I have also testified before various legislative bodies in several states. I have also worked as an advocate. In all that time, going back as far as 1965, I have never seen a judge that I had more respect for than Judge Belvin Perry. I think Judge Perry’s performance is something that other judges should aspire to. The prosecutors, Jeff Ashton and Linda Drane Burdick, were also to be commended for the way in which they conducted themselves.

I understand that we must live with a jury’s verdict. That is the nature of our system. What I don’t always understand is what happens after a verdict is rendered. I understand that Casey was acquitted of the 3 felony charges. We cannot go back and retry her on those charges. What I don’t understand is why no one has been charged with not reporting a death and illegally disposing of a body. I assume Florida has laws in regard to this. Casey’s defense was based in large part on allegations that Caylee Anthony accidently drowned. That is what her attorney opened the defense’s case with. Casey, through her attorney, has indicated that her father was not only present at the time of the accidental drowning but that he was also responsible for why she covered it up. The jurors that have spoken to date have all said that they could not rule out accidental death. So be it.

If an investigation were launched into whether or not someone failed to report a death and illegally disposed of a body, could not either or both Casey and her father, George, be charged with a crime? No one has been charged with these crimes to date and I do not believe this would be a case of double jeopardy. I think I would feel a lot better with all that has happened if this too were pursued. I can’t help thinking a lot of other people would too.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Letter To The Editor

There is no winning in war. It is possible to physically vanquish an army and occupy a country, but that’s about as far as it goes. War is a monumental foreign policy failure. War is costly in terms of life and wealth. A war does not end with the signing of a peace treaty.

Over 140 years have passed since our Civil War and there are still those who are “fighting” that war. The political divide in our country resulting from the Civil War is very real. After World War I Germany was vanquished and it didn’t take 20 years before we were plunged into World War II. Israel has won all of its wars and has never known a single day of peace. If there are any winners in a war, it would have to be the arms merchants and war profiteers.

How many great empires have collapsed as a result of overexpansion from their many conquests? We have been in Korea and Europe for over half a century. We have been in Iraq and Afghanistan for over a decade. Now we are opening new hostilities in Libya and Yemen. There are those pushing for us to go into Syria as well. When will it stop? We spend over 2 billion dollars a week in Afghanistan alone. We pour countless billions into countries like Pakistan. If you total it all up you will understand why we are in debt.

I have no simple answers in regard to this. I think we needed to respond to Japan and bin Laden. I think things like slavery and genocide have to be addressed. I just wonder if there aren’t better, more effective, less violent ways to address things. I’m very sure that world peace is not furthered by selling arms to other countries. I’m very sure that giving billions in foreign aid to countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan has not furthered world peace or brought stability to the Middle East.

I find it ironic that so many of the people who assert that this is a “Christian” country are such strong advocates for war and violence. Christ was an advocate for peace. Those advocating war may be doing many different things, but one thing they are not doing is following the teachings of Christ.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

2 Letters To The Editor in Sequential Order

1.
I think people assume that other people think the way they do. That is often not the case. People do things for different reasons. People do not all value the same things equally. Some people will not even voice their wants and some people will kill you for not meeting their needs immediately.

Do you ever wonder why someone would run for public office? To what extent do you think that people who run for public office are beholding to those who give them money for their campaigns? Are our elected officials trying to work things out among themselves in good faith on our behalf or are they there solely to press a personal or ideological agenda? Given the current state of affairs, what do you think is the likely answer to that question?

What is happening in our country is not happening because there are not many possible solutions to the problems at hand. What is happening in our country is happening because most of our leaders are not interested in possible solutions. Most of our leaders are personally only interested in one particular solution and it is not clear as to why each of our leaders is only interested in the one particular solution he or she is striving for.

People do not always do things in their own best interests. I’m not sure that most people ever take the time to consider what their own best interests really are. Voting at prescribed intervals does not appear to be resolving our problems. I think we all need to do more than just vote.

To varying extents I think we all take the position of Cain when he said, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” That position is certainly present in the concept of “caveat emptor”. There are certainly people among us who are foolish and susceptible to predators. What do we do personally and as a people to protect those people from the wolves and sharks that live openly among us? Banks, insurance companies, investment houses, realtors, builders, manufacturers and corporations (to name but a few) all need some form of regulation. So why is there so much animosity within our leadership toward the very concept of regulation? Why was Elizabeth Warren treated so poorly when she appeared before Congress last week?

If it’s not okay to take candy from a baby, why is it okay to financially ruin a foolish adult? Why is there so much resentment toward ideas which seek to insure the common good?

2.
I don’t believe there is a legislative fix for our economy. Looking to any leader for such a fix is foolish. Any leader who believes he/she has such a fix is probably not going to do much good.

When American manufacturing jobs were moved off shore, unemployment increased. When American service jobs were out-sourced abroad, unemployment increased. When our banks, our insurance companies, our money managers, our realtors, our stock brokers, our industries, etc. began engaging in unscrupulous business practices, the value of our currency decreased. When our legislators removed regulations that prevented unscrupulous business and financial practices the rate at which the value of our currency decreased increased. When we began engaging in wars our national debt increased.

Our government has plundered our Social Security funds. The Medicare prescription drug program was never funded. We have elected fools and scoundrels to every level of public office. Those we have elected to public office have appointed fools and scoundrels to administer our government agencies. We tend to elect people who run expensive election campaigns. Where do you think the money for those campaigns comes from? Why do you think large campaign contributors give all that money to political candidates?

What we are seeing and experiencing is the result of the intellectual, moral and spiritual corruption of our electorate. We are the electorate. We are realizing the results of our own decisions.