Conservatives – We Got To Keep On Truckin’

Keep-On-Trucking-LogoI talk politics with friends, acquaintances, family, and even strangers, all the time.  You probably do too.  Many of these people have a growing sense that something is wrong, but they have not been engaged in politics or receiving real news and honest information about what’s going on.

They find their financial security under stress due to stagnant or declining wages and hours, difficulty finding suitable jobs or promotions, more work for less pay, relentless price inflation for most consumer items, and no place to invest their savings (if they have any) that offers reasonable safety and any kind of return.

On top of that, the people I talk to don’t understand why their biggest concerns are not aggressively confronted by our government, while much attention is given to relatively small-scale issues, like gay marriage, or who should pay for birth control pills.

These ordinary folks are concerned about national security, education, health care, deteriorating race relations, privacy, property and water rights, and a host of other things, and they don’t find comfort in the words and actions of anybody in Washington, DC – Democrat or Republican.  Trust level is at an all-time low, but the guy on the street doesn’t quite know what to do because he is not getting enough facts.

After I gave an interested but under-informed friend a mini-seminar on the many threats posed to us and our children by our over-reaching government’s accelerating failure rate, he asked, “Where do you get all this information?”

Conservatives, this is our challenge.  We can’t let up.  Not now.  People know something is wrong, and they are beginning to seek the truth.   It’s up to us to keep putting that truth out there.

I lamented to Bill Whittle, renowned conservative blogger and writer, that it seems we conservatives mostly “preach to the choir” and seldom actually win a convert to the “right” side.  Bill’s reply: “There’s nothing wrong with preaching to the choir.  When the troops are in the trenches, worn out and outnumbered, somebody has to walk down the line, hand out some more clips of ammunition, and tell them to keep their heads down.”

Keep your heads down, my friends.  Keep on Truckin’.  And keep Rockin’ On the Right Side!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Ain’t nothin’ holdin’ me back . . .  nothin’!
I’ll keep right on, right on truckin’.
Ain’t nothin’ holdin’ me back . . .  nothin’!
I’ll keep right on, right on truckin’.

Keep On Truckin’ – David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks

 

Made in the USA – By Mexicans

mexican concrete crewMy wife and I are building a new home.  We are doing some of the work ourselves but the majority of the work is done by subcontractors, mostly hired through our general contractor.  Working on a major project like this brings many current political and economic issues from the big-picture level down to the up-close and personal level.

Today, as our driveway was being installed, I had quite a discussion with the owner/operator of our concrete finishing company.  Alex (not actual name) is a legal Mexican immigrant and has been doing business in the US for almost twenty years.  He went through channels, got a green card, and studied English for two years.  Alex pursued the American dream, and got it.  He has handled several segments of our construction project, and does top quality work at a fair price.  Working in the same space every day we got to know each other and today we spent some time discussing business and politics.

Alex’s business is doing well.  In fact, there is much more demand for his work than he can fulfill.  He would like to hire more employees and expand his business, but he can’t see a way to do it and still maintain quality.  As a retired corporate manager and business owner, I offered some growth strategies and personnel practices that have worked for me.  But his circumstances are quite different than mine were.  You see, all of his employees are (probably) illegal Mexican immigrants.

In fact, almost all of the residential construction work in the Carolinas is being performed by illegal Mexican immigrants.

Why?  Have Mexican immigrants taken all of the construction jobs because they will work for lower wages than American tradesmen?  Are American men now too lazy or pampered to take on the difficult, physical work required in the construction trades?  Have our schools convinced every American student that anyone who doesn’t pursue a college degree and a desk job is a failure?  Did our government over-regulate our traditional construction businesses into extinction, so that only “under-the-radar” groups of illegal immigrants can function at a feasible cost?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

But there’s more to it than that.  I talked with another general contractor today who was interested in hiring Alex and his crew for some of his projects, only to learn they are over-booked.  “It’s a shame,” he said.  “Most of the (American) subcontractors went broke during the housing bust five years ago, and they aren’t coming back.”

Alex and many entrepreneurial Mexicans like him are able to seize the market opportunities because they are connected to the available army of illegal Mexican immigrant workers.  Alex can find them, hire them, manage them, communicate with them, and help them with the considerable personal challenges they face working in the shadows of American life.   Still, his business growth is limited because he employs these men.  “My business can’t grow,” he said.  “None of my workers can advance to be managers because they don’t even try to learn to speak English.”  He would employ English-speaking American construction workers, but there just aren’t any.  It’s a very complex business model.

I had heard that Latinos are being barraged with liberal propaganda, painting conservatives, Republicans and especially Tea Party guys as hateful monsters to be avoided and feared.  So I made it a point to tell my new Mexican friend Alex that I am a conservative.  Tea Party, even.

Alex winced.  “I’m not a monster,” I said.  “I’m not a racist and a hater.  You know me.  You can’t believe the stuff you hear in the media.”

“Well, the conservatives don’t want to allow any immigration,” he said.

“Not true,” I countered.  “We want LEGAL immigration for people who can bring value to our country.  What we don’t want is  dangerous, uncontrolled borders, or slackers coming here to take advantage of taxpayer-funded benefits.   And we DO want our legal immigrants to assimilate – to become patriotic, law-abiding, productive Americans, not Mexicans who just happen to live in the US.”

Like you, Alex.  Without you, and men like you, there would be no new homes under construction in my neighborhood right now.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Save me from this prison, Lord, help me get away
‘Cause only You can save me now from this misery
‘Cause I’ve been lost in my own place
And I’m getting’ weary, how far is Heaven?
And I know I need to change my ways of livin’
How far is Heaven?
My favorite Mexican band – Los Lonely Boys! (this song is also on my set list)

Workin’ in the USA – the ‘Saudi Way’

The United States is looking more like Saudi Arabia every day.  Check out this week’s headlines:

Labor Participation Rate Drops To Lowest Since 1978

 

Natives accounted for most of the growth in population,
but all employment growth went to immigrants

So what, you say, does this have to do with Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia was a poor country until the 1930s when the world developed a thirst for oil and discovered that this desolate desert nation, barely more than a collection of loosely-related tribes, had a lot of it.  In the years since, the demand for oil increased exponentially, and so did the wealth of the ruling families who controlled the land from which it is extracted.

It wasn’t long before these wealthy Saudis no longer needed to perform any physical work.  There was so much money flowing into the country that the ruling families shared it liberally – first with anyone who could claim to be a blood relative, no matter how distant, and later (in smaller increments) to anyone who had family roots there.  Eventually most native Saudis could choose whether or not they wished to work.  Many didn’t, and those who did were far removed from anything that resembled physical labor.

photo by Vocativ.comThere is, of course, physical labor to be done.  For that the Saudis have imported legions of hungry, foreign workers from Africa and East Asia.  An estimated 6.5 million foreign laborers toiled in Saudi Arabia a year ago, before rioting against inhumane treatment brought a government crackdown on illegal immigration and a slight reduction in their numbers.  The few and vague immigration laws, however, are still not well-enforced.

In Saudi Arabia, the second-class immigrants do the work, enduring slave-wages, appalling conditions and all forms of abuse, while the native-born and well-connected enjoy a leisurely lifestyle.  Children and women get the worst of it.  But Saudi Arabia’s gravy-train won’t last forever.  Their oil reserves are depleting, and other nations are learning to develop their own energy sources.  Saudi Arabia will soon face some major challenges and changes – the current path is not tenable.

Does this sound familiar?

Go to any residential construction site in the United States.  You will see few, if any, native-born Americans in the craft or labor jobs.  Here In the Carolinas, most are illegal immigrants from Mexico.  They are working hard, and some do high quality work (many don’t).  They earn substantially less than American-born construction workers did ten years ago.  Twenty years ago.  Thirty years ago.

You see, native-born Americans, like the Saudis, can now choose whether or not they wish to work.  Many don’t, and those that do are usually far removed from anything that resembles physical labor.  Where the Saudis’ wealth comes exclusively from oil, our American wealth was built up by the sweat and skill of our parents and grandparents, and is further being borrowed from our children.  We are racking up debt and printing fiat currency so that right now half of us no longer have to work.  Like the Saudis, we are bringing in legions of hungry, foreign workers to do our labor.

At some point they, too, will tire of slave-wages and bad treatment, and will rebel.  The United States, like the Saudis, will soon face major challenges and changes – the current path is not tenable.  But fortunately, we have options the Saudis do not.  We still have rich, untapped energy resources.  And we have many other opportunities to create wealth, if our liberal government will allow it.

Our liberal friends, including our president, would love to erase the borders and bring in hordes of cheap immigrant laborers (and, they hope, future government-dependent Democrat voters).  I hope they will look at Saudi Arabia’s predicament and get a grip on the immigrant labor situation before we completely forget how to work.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

 

Some days won’t ever end,
And some days pass on by
All be workin’ here forever
At least until I die

Workin’ For A Livin’ – Huey Lewis

 

A favorite from my very own set list – rockin’ live version by my man Huey!

Reacting to Crises vs. Thinking About Tomorrow

crisis-economica-empresas-internetEvery now and then I complain that the news media/liberal government is totally geared to our tiny little attention spans (the news media and liberal government are now inseparable and indistinguishable). They fully understand and exploit how soon we forget one earth-shaking news story when the next one comes along.  We don’t care whether the last crisis was explained, let alone resolved. Instead we lurch ahead to the latest shocking crisis.  And the news media/liberal government seemingly never runs out of crises.  We’re so busy dealing with the latest crisis that we never take the time to look ahead.

Do you feel manipulated?

A few weeks ago the earth stopped rotating because Central American kids were walking across our southern border expecting (and receiving) amnesty.  It was 24/7 news.   What happened?  The hand-wringing, the speeches, the headlines, the passion, the crisis – it all just . . . stopped.

Benghazi?  Forgotten.  Kidnapped Nigerian girls?  Who cares.  Even the Ferguson riots don’t matter today.

The VA scandal?  Hmmph.  The IRS targeting of conservative groups?  No big.  Trayvon Martin?  Operation Fast and Furious?  Free birth control pills for Sandra Fluke?  Syria?  Ukraine?  Hamas lobbing rockets into Israel?   Fagettaboutit.

I thought ObamaCare was a BFD.  Joe Biden said so.  But I haven’t heard anything about it in the news for a long time.  Have you?  Everything must be just peachy.

Today it’s all about ISIS.  Or ISIL.  (Why can’t the news media/liberal government just pick one label?)  The shocking beheadings supercede any and all previous shocks. Until the next shock.

Rahm Emanuel said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”   Hillary Clinton doubled down on the same strategy.   They are disciples, along with Barack Obama, of Saul Alinsky and the Cloward-Piven Strategy, which advises socialists to stir up as much crisis as possible in order to drive the frightened and under-informed into the warm and waiting arms of a big-government oligarchy. Cloward and Piven were deep-thinking socialists from Columbia University – Barack Obama’s alma mater.  But I digress.

Wouldn’t it be great if our political leaders would, just once, look ahead a little instead of just reacting to the latest crisis?

They could be figuring out how to match up the capabilities of the work force with the needs of employers.  Or maybe what role our tremendous energy resources could play in the world economy.  We could be working on a mathematical solution to our insolvent social security system (it is do-able).  Shoot, maybe somebody could be thinking about how to deal with the cancerous radical Muslim ideology that threatens to overwhelm the politically-correct Western world.  Our president says, “we don’t have a strategy yet.”

We need political leaders who are thinking about tomorrow to replace those who only react to the latest crisis.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone

Fleetwood Mac – Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)

Yup, the gig with the USC marching band – Classic!

“Talking Heads” – Think Before You Talk

photo courtesy of yourblackworld.netI don’t know about you, but sometimes when I watch the news I wonder what planet these talking head “experts” are from.

Michael Eric Dyson is regarded as an expert on race relations.  He is an author and professor at Georgetown University, and a devout liberal Democrat.  He was the “go to” talking head on Face the Nation this morning.

The topic was the riots in Ferguson, Missouri that resulted when a white policeman shot and killed an unarmed young black man who had allegedly just robbed a local store.  The details of the shooting have not been released by the police department.  Last night one person was shot and seven arrested in the rioting.

Here are Dyson’s talking points about the community, the shooting, and the riots – all wrapped up in a neat, little political package.  Moderator Bob Schieffer dimly grinned and nodded throughout Dyson’s soliloquy as though his hearing-aid battery had just gone stone cold.  Following Dyson’s points are the questions Schieffer should have asked:

  • “You’ve got white flight – this formerly predominantly white suburb is now 65% black . . . ”  (Um, okay.  Are you saying that having more pigment in one’s skin causes one to smash store windows and steal stuff?)
  • “You’ve got 22% poverty . . .”  (Is that because liberal government officials made fatherhood obsolete by paying single women to stay home and make babies?  Or because liberal government officials won’t allow parents to remove their children from failing government schools?  Or maybe because the policies of our liberal government over the last six years have driven the economy into the dumpster?)
  • “You’ve got the over-policing of an entire community, who feel racially harassed by the police . . . [only 3 African-American officers on a staff of 60]”    (How many applicants for the police academy were black?  Have any African-American applicants have been rejected?  Most police departments will do almost anything to train and hire minority applicants.  Are there any?)
  • “Every 28 hours across America a black person is killed by a security guard, police officer or some other executive of the state or police force . . . ”   (Did you know every 58 hours a policeman is killed in the line of duty.  Aren’t there a lot more bad guys than there are policemen?)
  • “The militarization of the police force . . . ”  (Yes, they say all that armament given to police departments since Obama started disassembling our national military forces is “surplus” military equipment.  Do you suppose the administration is worried about a revolution here at home?)
  • This president knows better than most what happens in poor communities that have been antagonized by the hostile relationship between black people and the police department . . .  (How would he know that?  He was a pampered rich kid who got a free ride to Harvard.  His wife spends more on designer purses than you make in a year.)
  • There is no functional equivalence between police who are armed to the teeth with military-grade weaponry trained at vulnerable black communities who are inflamed now as a result of decades of negligence.   (Why do blacks keep voting for the same guys who neglected them for decades?)
  • This is one of the key points that we expected from (Obama) as an African-American male.  (You voted for him only because he’s black?  That explains it.  He certainly had no experience or knowledge.)  He could inform American society why people might be hurt and angry.   You can deploy political strategies and public policies at the same time.  (Obama makes his decisions based on politics instead of good policy?  Shocking!) He’s an oratorical genius!  (With or without his teleprompter and speech writers?)   Deploy that to . . . white people whose white privilege obscures from them what it means that their children can walk home every day and be safe.  They are not fearful that somebody will kill their child who goes to get some iced tea and candy from a store.  (Is that because they left the neighborhood when the gangstas took over?) 

Expert talking head Michael Eric Dyson may not know it, but he finds fault with all the policies of Obama and the liberal Democrats.  And still, I will bet you a dollar to a surplus militarized police department donut that Mr. Dyson will vote straight Democrat in the next election.   Go figure.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side
And you may ask yourself
Am I right?…Am I wrong?
And you may say to yourself
My God!…What have I done?

THE TALKING HEADS – Once In A Lifetime

 

Can’t have an article about talking heads without a song by THE TALKING HEADS . . .

What’s That Smell Coming From the RNC?

So you went to the Lincoln-Reagan dinner and you wrote a check to the Republican Party.  You thought your money would be spent to defeat liberal Democrats, right?

Well, maybe not . . .

It seems the establishment GOP feels more threatened by the Tea Party and other conservative Republicans than by the liberal Democrats.

I first experienced this in the 2012 Montana governor’s campaign when our local Republican committee threw a wing-ding to endorse and support one of the seven Republican primary candidates – a year before the primary election!  I was stunned.   I thought the party is supposed to remain neutral while its candidates compete for the right to represent their party in the general election.  My conservative candidate, a straight-shooting Tea Party favorite and long-time loyal Montana Republican, started the primary race with his own party working against him.

This practice (using funds from Republican donors to defeat conservative Republican candidates) has accelerated this year across the country.  But the recent episode in Mississippi goes way over the top.

Senator Thad Cochran, an aging (some say senile) and ineffective member of the DC permanent ruling class, was about to be knocked out of the Mississippi GOP primary race by a young, aggressive Tea Party candidate, state senator Chris McDaniel.  Cochran had made almost no effort to campaign, assuming that his seat was safe from any challenge, as it had always been in the past.  After all, he had been “bringing home the bacon” for 36 years, right?

The Republican insiders realized that their boy was in trouble, and there was no time to waste.  GOP operative Henry Barbour (nephew of Haley Barbour, former RNC chairman) was sent on a scorched-earth mission to take out McDaniel in the last few weeks before the primary.  He shuffled funds between some PACs under his control and hired DEMOCRATS to convince black voters to cross over in the primary and vote for Cochran.

Here is where it gets really sickening.  Barbour used money from Republican donors to print posters, broadcast radio ads, and make telephone robo-calls all claiming that Republican candidate McDaniel and the Tea Party are racists who are trying to prevent black citizens from voting!  Cochran_Race_BaitingBarbour’s propaganda campaign further claimed that McDaniel and the Tea Party would do away with food stamps and other benefit programs and cut funding for education, especially black colleges.

One radio ad said, “A victory by tea party candidate Chris McDaniel is a loss for the state of Mississippi. It is a loss for public education. … It is a loss for the citizens of this state in a time of natural disaster, for our public universities and particularly our historically black universities. A victory for Chris McDaniel is a loss for the reputation of this state for race, for race relationships between blacks and whites and other ethnic groups. Mississippi can’t afford Chris McDaniel.”

It is unthinkable that Republican donor funds would be used to smear loyal conservative Republicans (and the Tea Party) as racists – to convince gullible Democrats to cross over and vote against a Republican primary candidate.  But it worked, and Cochran won the runoff election by a few thousand votes.  The election results are under scrutiny, with numerous complaints of illegal votes.

The Tea Party Patriots demanded the Republican National Committee censure Henry Barbour.  Their “white paper” study detailed the many illegal and immoral activities of the establishment Republicans.

At its summer conference in Chicago this week the RNC not only refused to read a censure resolution brought by the Missouri state committee, RNC chairman Reince Preibus doubled down, threatening Missouri GOP chairman Ed Martin with his position for even raising the issue.

Apparently the insider Republicans have no fear of losing conservative voters – they assume we will continue to spend our money, our effort, and our votes to elect anybody who does not have a “D” after his or her name.

So next time you pull out your checkbook to contribute to the battle against the ongoing Democrat decay of our nation, think twice.  You may be supporting Republicans without principles who will do or say anything to hold on to their gravy train.  Even race-baiting.

It’s time to do some serious disinfecting in the leadership of the Republican party.  It’s really starting to smell in there.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Ooh, that smell!
Can’t you smell that smell?
Ooh, that smell!
The smell of death surrounds you.

Lynyrd Skynyrd – That Smell

 

 

Guitar Heaven! – Skynrd’s “That Smell” live in Nashville 2003

 

 

 

 

Is Federal Waste and Fraud Inevitable?

graphic courtesy of ProofDirectory.orgMy congressman, Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), frequently holds town hall meetings in his home district.  Each meeting includes a half-hour presentation of current, relevant information and a one-hour question and answer period.  Mulvaney tells his constituents what is on his mind, and then really listens to them.   His responses are honest and direct, no evasion or weasel-words. He is knowledegable, articulate, engaged, and pragmatic.

Mulvaney sets the bar high for transparency and communication from a US Congressman.  A while back I attended a meeting by a Republican congressman from North Carolina and the contrast is striking – from the outset he was defensive, unprepared, and seemed to consider the attendees to be combatants rather than constituents.  He cemented his position as a Washington insider, solidly aligned with Boehner and the good-old boys, was not up-to-speed on facts and details, and had no intention of listening to any conservative point of view from his audience.

So I’m tickled to have Mulvaney representing me in Washington, DC.  Still, I always leave his meetings totally bummed.  Here’s why:

Congressman Mulvaney sees the waste, fraud, and over-spending in government first-hand and with clarity.  He is loaded with anecdotes and examples of Washington’s out-of-control checkbook and frequently quotes from Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) “Waste Book”.  Mulvaney knows how bad the corruption and ineptitude is, and hates it as much as we taxpayers do.

But then, after exploding our heads with his tales of fiscal terror, Mulvaney pulls the chain.  “There’s not really much we can do about it,” he says.  “The federal budget is so huge that it is impossible to find and correct problems in large enough increments to make a difference.”

Mulvaney points out that only 29% of our $3.5 trillion annual federal spending is discretionary – the rest is mandatory.  If 5% of that $1 trillion in discretionary spending is wasted, we would need 50,000 fiscal repairs of one million bucks each to fix it.

So nobody even tries to stop corruption and waste.

Does that sound horrific?  It’s actually worse.  I would bet the percentage of waste and fraud in the discretionary part of the budget is much larger than 5%.   Further, I submit that the waste and fraud in the mandatory part of the budget is just as bad or worse!

Our legislators have oversight responsibility, but do not have the time or resources to even begin to supervise federal programs and departments.  And do you think for a minute the government bureaucrats give a damn about 5% of somebody else’s money being wasted or stolen?  Quite the opposite – the more money their respective departments spend, the greater their power, prestige, and salaries.  They know nobody is watching, and they know nobody ever gets fired.

So is our federal fiscal viability as hopeless as Congressman Mulvaney fears?  It shouldn’t be.  And I hate that we, as a nation, have given up.

Here are some suggestions from a retired CFO (me) who has run businesses by the numbers and knows that waste and fraud are not inevitable:

  • Eliminate government employee unions – it is impossible to manage people who can’t be fired, and it is immoral that the campaigns of elected officials are funded by the very employees they are supposed to manage
  • Prosecute any officials who are caught stealing or wasting federal funds
  • Pass a balanced budget amendment, with restrictions on raising taxes – in other words, set and adhere to a real budget
  • Audit and/or eliminate the Federal Reserve – the cancerous growth of our federal government will continue until we stop printing fiat money
  • Return most government functions and authority to the states – restrict the federal government to only those functions specified in the Constitution
  • Require detailed public online reporting of all federal spending – sunshine is the best disinfectant

And that’s just a start.

Could federal government waste and corruption be brought back under control?  You bet!  But, like Mulvaney, I fear that it won’t.  Because as of now not enough Americans give a damn.  Too many of us are under-informed, disengaged, overwhelmed, or mired in self-interest.  Just the way the Washington insiders like it.

It will take a big bang – something really strong – to get our attention.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

I’ve been feeling so much older
Frame me and hang me on the wall
I’ve seen you fall into the same trap
This thing is happening to us all, yeah

Something so strong could carry us away
Something so strong could carry us today, yeah

Something So Strong – Crowded House

The lights went out but the sound system was working – so the band kept playing!  Crowded House playing in the dark in 2007.

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