Why the @*#!! Is Everybody Swearing All the Time?

 

Profanity.  It’s What’s for Supper.

Have you noticed that our nation has developed a serious case of potty-mouth?   Many Americans think they make a big impression on others by punctuating their speech with F-bombs, dirty put-downs, scatological pronouns and just mindless ugliness.

I began to notice the change about a decade ago.  As a musician I spend a fair amount of time in bars (the only time you will see me in one is when I am paid to be there.)  These joints are places where people are hard at work trying to impress each other, and inhibition is nonexistent.  It seems to have started with the young women.  I was startled to hear how so many of the twenty-something aged girls talked to each other – even those who came to the bar straight from their high-class professional jobs.  I recall one group who, I swear, had an ongoing contest to see who could drop the most F-bombs in one sentence.  It reminded me of the hot-selling New Jersey T-shirts that boldly read, “F you, you F-ing F!”

I had seen enough East Coast mafia movies, and heard enough gangsta rap that the language wasn’t completely foreign to me.  But these were girls – otherwise attractive, presumably intelligent young ladies.  And they had no clue that their choice of adjectives made them repulsive to any civilized human being.

Of course they weren’t trying to impress me – I long ago became invisible to young ladies, unless they need help changing a tire.  But I can’t understand how filthy language makes them appealing to each other.

The next group to jump on the “Trash Talk Express” was the political left.  After a long string of electoral defeats they decided an image change was in order.  Ordinary victimhood just wasn’t working consistently – they had to take the offensive and BE offensive.  Talking like sailors makes them sound tough and edgy, right?  Why stop at calling everybody racist when F-ING RACIST is just so much more descriptive?

Lately the left-wing politicians are proudly pronouncing profanity at the podium, and it’s no accident – they believe it helps their audience relate to them as “real people”.

This tactical change by the left has had a profound effect on American youth, who matriculate from our public Democrat schools as leftist automatons.  Potty-mouth syndrome has spread virally to the millennials-and-younger.  Ask your junior-high kid what it means when he texts that it was hot AF.

And unfortunately many of my right-wing friends have begun to fight fire with fire.  Or fecal matter with fecal matter.  The quality of articulation on my Facebook timeline is in a toilet-swirl of decline.

Now, I’m no prude.  I don’t need a safe zone to protect me from offense, and I certainly can’t claim that there are no expletives in my lexicon.  Some of the songs my band performs are, well, not squeaky-clean.  But I, for one, would appreciate a move back toward more civil discourse.

Now, if I can just get my seven-year old grandson to stop calling everybody “poopy-head”.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

The cow’s giving kerosene,
Kid can’t read at seventeen,
The words he knows are all obscene,
But – it’s all right.  I will get by!

Touch of Grey – Grateful Dead

 

Things Business People Know That Government People Don’t

The more business-savvy people we get in government, the better.  Assuming they are there to serve rather than be served.

In order to succeed, or even survive in a competitive market, business managers have to take advantage of the best tools and knowledge available to them.  On the other hand, government does not have any competition, so our leaders and administrators can basically stink the place up every day and never face any consequences.

Last week one of the administration’s sharpest business minds, OMB director Mick Mulvaney, presented the president’s 2018 budget, and it was refreshing, to say the least.  Mulvaney called Trump’s plan “compassionate.”  Only this time, they are showing compassion for the taxpayers, by cutting out unnecessary and wasteful spending programs that have grown on auto-pilot for decades without appreciable results.  And the budget is balanced from year one.  Congress probably doesn’t have the cajones to get on board, but it’s a start.

Today I would like to offer a few tips and techniques from the world of business and finance that our government leaders should consider:

• Borrowing money can be a good thing if it helps you leverage your productivity – but only if the cost of interest doesn’t eat all of your profit.  Fellow Tea Partiers:  remember when we were all worried to death about our national debt reaching $10 trillion dollars when Obama took office?  It is now just a hair under $20 trillion.   Picture a stack of $1000 bills 1,358 miles high.  Nobody seems concerned about it now, because the economy is recovering and there doesn’t seem to be any downside to spending more than we take in year after year.  But what happens when the Fed can no longer hold interest rates to near zero?  I’m afraid it won’t be pretty.  Congress must pass balanced budgets going forward.

• We hear a lot of talk about “creating jobs” and “spurring economic growth” by tweaking tax rates and policies.  There is one single tax item that makes every CFO salivate, even more than the corporate income tax rate.  It’s depreciation.  When a business hires an employee, it can deduct the cost of that employee immediately, reducing net income and taxes.  But when the company buys an asset, like a truck or a piece of machinery, it must depreciate that cost over a period of years.  It’s like paying taxes in advance, making a loan to the government for ten or twenty years.  If you want to see the economy take off like a rocket, just allow businesses to “expense” assets as they are purchased or to accelerate the depreciation.  This was a major feature of Reagan’s Economic Recovery Act in 1981 and the results were dramatic.  My company experienced explosive growth as a direct result of accelerated depreciation, and it was reflected in our employment and pay rates.  It was the strongest period of economic growth, both locally and nationally, in my lifetime.  My advice to Congress is to make accelerated depreciation the first order of business in tax reform.

• Business managers live and die by the performance of their employees.  They must be able to hire, retain, and fire employees at will.  Our government operates at a pace and performance level that would never survive in the real world, and this is largely because federal managers are not accountable for their union employees who basically can’t be fired.  We must either eliminate government unions or create a mechanism where government employees can be disciplined or fired.

• One sure-fire method businesses use to improve productivity is to take advantage of current technology.  Our federal government is ridiculously tech-deficient, and it’s no accident.  Government supervisors leverage power and compensation based on the number of employees they have, not what they accomplish.  To reduce the size and overreach of government, we must greatly reduce the number of government employees, sending them back to the private sector where they can produce something of value.  The fastest way to reduce employees and improve results is through information technology.

Here’s our chance to do it right.  Seminar over.  No charge.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Baby we can do it
Take the time
Do it right
We can do it, baby
Do it tonight!

Take the Time, Do It Right – SOS Band

 

Honesty Is On Life Support

 

I’ll bet you feel uneasy about the state of affairs in our world today.  Almost everybody does.

We know something is going wrong and we sense that we are gradually sliding downhill, toward an unknown fate.  We have that hinky feeling that whatever awaits us at the bottom of the hill is not good, and we are powerless to stop it.

I suspect the cause of our angst is the decline of honesty.

Our grandfathers lived in a world where one’s most important possession was his or her honor and reputation.  Business and real estate deals were often made with a handshake rather than a contract.  Out of wedlock births and adultery were pretty rare.  Thieves and hucksters went to jail.  Schools and churches taught children that dishonesty is wrong.  Liars were not tolerated.  News reporters triple checked their facts to make absolutely certain they were accurate.  Yes, there were bad guys, but they were vilified by the general public.

That world is gone.  Today we are barraged by news reports that are purposefully false.  Politics has become a lying contest where partisans have no problem with their leaders uttering obvious fabrications, justified because “the other side lies too.”  We have become numb to dishonesty in politics and in the news media because it is so pervasive.  Nothing surprises us any more; corruption has become expected and normal.

And it’s not just politics.  In the course of my business career I witnessed an appalling decline in the standards of honesty and fairness.  When I started in the corporate world, almost all large companies operated with the balanced interests of their customers, employees, vendors, and owners always in mind, based on the goals of long-term success and good citizenship.  Before I retired I witnessed, firsthand, appalling chicanery and deceit by corporate executives, whose goals were maximizing their personal income and power.  With today’s astronomical executive salaries and bonuses the situation continues to worsen.

Most men and women no longer marry because commitment to an honest relationship is just too hard (forget about the impact on the kids).  Schools and colleges fill young minds with disinformation and revised history while emptying their pockets and mortgaging their futures.

Today my news inbox is absolutely stuffed with illustrations of dishonesty:  proven vote fraud in Texas, politically motivated false charges of impropriety in Washington, DC, police officers looking the other way instead of dealing with criminals.

Thankfully, there are still honest people in our world.  We are in decline, but it is reversible.   Honesty is on life support.  God help us.  Please.

Tom Balek, Rockin’ On the Right Side

  1. Honesty is such a lonely word
    Everyone is so untrue
    Honesty is hardly ever heard
    And mostly what I need from you

    Honesty – Billy Joel

ObamaCare vs. “SwampCare”

photo by Salon.com

Yes, ObamaCare sucks.  It is unsustainable, and insurance carriers are dropping out of the exchanges left and right.   So our fearless leaders in the swamp feel compelled to replace one failing top-heavy government program, ObamaCare, with another.  I call it SwampCare.

Unfortunately, in their effort to grind out a replacement plan, our leaders keep bumping into an unfortunate truth:  in a free market some people will get more stuff than others.

I’m not saying that health care should not be available to everybody.  I’m just saying that in the real world you can’t drive a Cadillac if you ain’t got no money, honey.

Today the Sunday news talking heads were breathlessly grilling Paul Ryan and Reince Preibus over how many people will needlessly die because they have stripped the ObamaCare “pre-existing conditions” feature from their new health insurance bill.  The swamp boys fell all over themselves denying it.  “No!  SwampCare will cover everybody for everything all the time, and costs will go down!  Trust us, we’re the government!”

Yeah, right.  And it don’t rain in Indianapolis in the summertime. (That’s a musical allegory for both of you readers who are under age 60).

Covering pre-existing conditions without requiring continuity of coverage is like wrecking your car and then buying a policy to get it repaired.  It is certainly not insurance (shared risk).  And the whole discussion is pointless anyway, as long as health care providers are required by law to take care of patients regardless of their coverage, ability to pay, or even citizenship.  The mandate requiring everybody to buy insurance is unAmerican, if not unconstitutional.  So is requiring a doctor to care for a patient without any compensation for this work.

Adult Americans know there is no such thing as a free lunch.  But most politicians promise it anyway. They don’t dare take away the guarantee of insurance coverage for people who are uninsured and have a pre-existing condition.  But somebody has to pay the freight.  Both ObamaCare and SwampCare pass the cost on to the taxpayers; the former through premium subsidies, and the latter through funding assigned-risk pools.

ObamaCare, a product of the nouveau-left, is all about fairness, so it requires young people to buy policies and pay higher premiums to subsidize the high-cost old timers.  The designers of SwampCare think that’s terrible.  So their solution is to have seniors pay a little bit higher premiums, and stick the rest of the cost difference on the taxpayers via subsidized tax credits.

Every time government sticks its nose into private industry trying to make things “fair” the market is distorted and everything gets screwed up.  And while Nancy Pelosi dreams of an America dotted with gleaming white government health care centers, stuffed with highly-paid Democrat-voting unionized health care employees, we all know the two reasons why PelosiCare could never work: 1) big government can’t do anything right  2) we couldn’t afford it even if it could.

By the miracle of free markets, most of us have access to great cars, reliable refrigerators, skilled veterinarians, safe and inexpensive food, and internet service that gets better by the second.  The best healthcare system in the world was developed in this free-market environment with minimal government intervention.  Churches and charities played a large role, and families took responsibility for their own destinies.  People expected to pay for their own health care, just as they paid for their own food and housing.  At one time it all just worked for most Americans.

We all want everybody to have the best health care possible.  But can everybody have CadillacCare?  Realistically, no.  Instead of destroying the health care system for everybody with experimental regulations and laws, why not let the free market work its miracle for most of us and concentrate on how to provide adequate care via public clinics and hospitals for those who fall outside margins?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

 

Swamp, swamp, swamp, swamp music
When the hound dog starts singin’
I ain’t got them big ol’ city blues

Lynyrd Skynyrd – Swamp Music

 

It’s Time To Do Away With Indian Reservations


*update 4/18/17   My article seems to have touched a nerve among some reservation Natives who have sent comments.  While I don’t retract my premise (that Natives are getting screwed by the federal government and racial segregation is not acceptable today) I can see that parts of the article appear to broad-brush all reservation Natives, and I know better than that.  My article is based on US Census Bureau and other federal statistics, and my opinions reflect the aggregate data of the reservation system, not any individual Native, tribe, or reservation.  My apologies for any poorly chosen remarks, no offense intended.  The article follows unedited.

Oh, and yes, the song I chose sucked.  I did remove that!


*update 4/24/17  I just discovered the excellent work performed on this very subject by Naomi Schaefer Riley.  Her book published last summer is titled “The New Trail of Tears – How Washington Is Destroying American Indians”.  And here is a link to her excellent video for Prager University, published today: American Indians Are Still Getting a Raw Deal 

I’m pleased that this topic is getting some attention.

 


 

 

About 1 million Native Americans live on reservations, most of them in poverty.  Crime, unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, bad schools, poor health and other hardships are common.  While they are not required to stay on the reservations, federal policies effectively keep Native Americans there, dependent on their benefits.

There is no longer any justification for continuing the archaic, immoral, and wasteful practice of racially segregating Native Americans and subjugating them to perpetual poverty.

Surely nobody would argue that the quality of life for families isolated on Indian reservations is acceptable.  Yet no effort has been made to assimilate reservation Native Americans into the American mainstream.

The reservation situation is not only inhumane, it is a fiscal disaster.  Billions of federal dollars flow to the reservations, with little evident result.  Corruption is rampant.

The tribes have also been used by big-government and left-wing organizations to seize property, wealth and control from landowners and taxpayers.  The Flathead Reservation Water Compact threatens to claim water rights for the tribe that far exceeds their dominion and would cripple the agriculture industry.

Total government spending on the reservations is hard to determine due to an intentional lack of government transparency.  I found a chart prepared by the Dept. of the Interior that shows a 2017 budget estimate of $21 billion targeted to tribes and Native American communities.  The cost of health and welfare benefits, including food stamps, disability, housing subsidies, unemployment, education programs, health care and other programs could easily exceed that figure.  Many seemingly unrelated federal programs concentrate spending on the reservations that just blurs into oblivion – for example, I observed eight years ago that the largest proportion of Obama “stimulus” money in Montana went to the reservations and tribes.

The 2016 elections made clear that now is the time for swamp-draining and fiscal reorganization.  Now is the time to end racial discrimination in every form.  Why not transform this large group of Americans (many of whom have distinguished military service) into happy, healthy, productive taxpayers? Now is the best opportunity in many decades to take a fresh, honest look at what our government is doing, and make sweeping changes.

We could, within a year, eliminate the embarrassment of Indian reservations from our landscape.  Reservation tribes could distribute their commonly-owned property to members, and preserve their privately-owned property.  All federal agencies, departments and programs related to Native Americans could be sunset.  And I submit that two years of federal spending on the reservations and tribes could be calculated, divided, and paid to reservation dwellers in a lump sum.  My cursory math:  $100 billion divided by 1 million reservation households = $100,000 per household.

Here’s your share of the property.  Here’s a check.  The reservation is no more, welcome to the United States of America.

This does not need to threaten the Native American culture or traditions.  Eliminating the reservations would blow up the subjugation of this group by an over-reaching and cold-hearted federal government.

This is a simple first look at a very old problem, but the situation can’t go on, and nothing gets done until we start.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

 

 

 

Right and Wrong

ussoldierafghanistanThroughout our nation’s history there has been conflict between religion and government.  In fact, our nation came to be largely because of this conflict.  And our founders established, through the first amendment to our Constitution, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The USA was born as a Christian nation; developed by Christians, and governed by Christians.   Still, the separation of church and state has been, and remains, the subject of considerable debate.  That’s partly because we view most offenses in terms of severity.  A crime, in the eyes of government, might fall anywhere in the range of “not so bad” to “extremely bad”.  Some crimes are rigidly enforced by the government; others are completely overlooked.  Sometimes overlooking a minor crime can lead to one that is unthinkable.

When it comes to that “extremely bad” category, we Americans pretty much unanimously agree on one thing.  Regardless of religious or political affiliation, we do not tolerate the murder of innocent people.  Period.  Anybody disagree with that?  Anybody?

It’s the ultimate “right” and “wrong”.  Most of us believe we’re born with an understanding of it.  Still, we allow a few excuses for murder.  Insanity.  Crime of passion.  Capital punishment? Abortion?  War, maybe?

What happens when another culture or religion has a different view of “right” and “wrong”?  Some radical Muslims are raised and required to believe that the murder of non-Muslims is not only acceptable, it is righteous.  Their treatment of women, children, and minorities is abhorrent to us.

Should we non-Muslims accept their religious belief that the murder of innocent people is okay, in the name of tolerance?  Conversely, if a non-Muslim kills a Muslim terrorist to protect innocent lives, is that righteous?  What about killing a communist (that’s government, not religion) to protect innocent lives?

What sometimes seems simple (right vs. wrong) seldom is.  There comes a time when tough decisions must be made, by our mortal American men and women – soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and political leaders.  All we can do is base them on who we, as a nation, are and what we believe to be true and right.

Maybe that’s why “our” God gave his only son to die for our forgiveness, and to grant us peace.

Merry Christmas and God bless our military men and women and our leaders.

Rockin' On the Right Side

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing over the plains
And the mountains in reply,
Echoing their joyous strains.
Gloria, in excelsis de-o

Pentatonix – Angels We Have Heard On High

 

 

 

Abuse – The Dirty Little Secret of the Illegal Immigration Issue

immigrants

The assumption is that conservatives oppose illegal immigration and open borders because we are selfish.  Some say we just don’t want to share the wonderful opportunities and wealth in our country with outsiders.  Others call us racists.

Do I believe in “America First?”  Sure I do.  I think that American citizens should have first claim to jobs, schools, and taxpayer-provided benefits, and I know that in a world with poverty in every corner, the combination of open borders and liberal benefits for immigrants is unsustainable.

Closing our borders is not just to protect those on the inside.  Here’s the dirty little secret:

Illegal immigrants to our country are often abused.

Human trafficking is commonplace, and some who seek the good life in America pay a heavy price.  Many immigrants fork over their family’s life savings or even borrow money to pay coyotes and arrangers for their passage.  Forced prostitution and enslavement are more common than we would like to believe.

But even after an illegal immigrant has landed inside our borders, dangers abound.  Immigrant laborers often earn less than minimum wage, work long hours, and live crammed twenty to a room, unprotected by our laws and in fear of deportation.  Without education or language skills, they are easy prey for unscrupulous profiteers, both foreign and American.

Some time ago I reported that a beloved local businessman and school teacher, Jesse Campbell, was murdered at his home by Kevin DeJesus, an illegal Mexican who had worked for him as a laborer.  At first blush, it appeared to be another one of those “bad illegal immigrant kills innocent American citizen” episodes.  But here’s the rest of the story, reported in the Rock Hill Herald after the murder trial:

DeJesus’ lawyer said Campbell’s “secret double life,” of extortion for sex led to the vicious death. There was a struggle for a gun after Campbell forced DeJesus to perform a sex act, and refused to pay DeJesus for work done at the home, according to testimony.

Campbell had, in this case and at other times with other Hispanic men he hired, “refused to pay them unless they had sex with him.”

Dejesus will serve a 12-year sentence and then be deported.

Some will say that the solution to the abuse of illegal immigrants is to give them amnesty and full access to the protections enjoyed by American citizens.  But the only real-world solution is to prevent them from entering illegally in the first place, for a number of very good reasons.  A nation without borders and laws is not a nation.  It makes more sense to help other nations improve their own governments and living conditions.  And we can’t afford to care for the poor of the entire world within our borders when too many of our own American citizens struggle as it is.

We must seal our borders.  For our sake, and theirs.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Tax the rich
Feed the poor
‘Til there ain’t no
Rich no more

I’d Love to Change the World – Ten Years After

Here’s Alvin Lee’s classic, from 1971 – a time that was a little less politically correct than today.