Jim’s musings. .


This section could be about ANYTHING. .

Democracy may be a good form of government but it is not a substitute for GOOD management. Examples:  Democracy knows that it is a good thing to provide health insurance for its citizens.  Management knows that the insurance must be paid for.  Democracy lets a Congressman advance a bill that gives some service or benefit to his citizens.  Management knows that the service must be overseen and managed long after the Congressman has forgotten his bill and is dreaming up another one.

It was amusing to hear the President talk last night about our aspirations to reach the “middle class”.  I never knew anyone who set out to be in the middle class.  Everyone aspires to reach the upper class.  Then we don’t quite make it and end up sort of happy in the middle class.

I’m shocked by the stupidity of our foreign policy of the past twelve years in which we undertook to reform the despotic governments of Middle Eastern nations by trying to install democracy.

I could hardly believe that we undertook to replace Saddam Hussein in Iraq using the excuse that he possessed “weapons of mass destruction”.  As soon as it became known that Saddam did not possess weapons of mass destruction we should have backed off and allowed him to remain in place.  (I do wonder what nation does not have “weapons of mass destruction” but that’s just me.) The fact that Saddam was a despot and a murderer was not our concern – these were the concerns of the people of Iraq.  The idea that we can go into a nation and “establish” democracy is idiotic.  Democracy can only be established by the people of the nation itself who want democracy so badly that they will fight for it.  Instead we decided that we would give it to them. It hasn’t worked.  And it has established the United States as the most–hated nation by the Middle Easterners – almost all of them. 

The Iraqi deaths that were caused by our intervention now total more than 100,000.  Saddam was horrible but he didn’t come close to that figure of 100,000 deaths. Foolishly, we hanged Saddam instead of punishing him by putting him back in charge of his country.  Our Iraq intervention did establish Al Quaeda as the focus group of millions of non-Al Quaeda members who now and forever will hate the United States.

We started our downhill direction with the Presidency of George W. Bush.  I have to admit that I voted for this incompetent President.  And I am ashamed that I did. As we see the destruction that is called Iraq and Afghanistan we should remind ourselves that before W decided to endow them with democracy they were functioning nations with populations that functioned fairly well even if every now and then a citizen was killed by the ruling despots.

I wonder if democracy is actually the best form of government for everybody anyway. It certainly is for us but I cannot imagine it working in the tribal nation of Afghanistan.  Tribes are not democracies.  Tribes are their tradition and history. But we are superior Americans and we know what is best for the world.

If we really barged into Iraq to secure our oil supplies then we should have said so. Plain selfishness has always been the honest motivation for the external explorations of nations

The USA has tried to fight guerilla wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for years without conclusion.  We tried this before in Korea and Viet Nam.  At some point our Presidents and military leaders must admit that we are not now and never will be able to successfully complete an action against guerrillas.

So, here’s my idea: We will leave Al Quaeda and ISIS alone in the Middle East. If the Middle East nations actually want Al Quaeda to take over their governments then the USA can attack these nations and eliminate Al Quaeda because running a government will be a much different task for Al Quaeda: they must have offices, warehouses, government installations of all kinds and armies. We – the USA – are very well equipped to overwhelm governments.  We are not equipped to fight guerrillas.  If the Middle East nations do not want Al Quaeda to take over their governments then they, the Middle East nations, will have to do what is necessary to eliminate Al Quaeda all by themselves – without the help of the USA.  If they can’t eliminate Al Quaeda then we can attack an established government instead of playing Al Quaeda’s and ISIS’s game of guerrilla war.

We need people control even more than gun control. People who own guns should be required to keep their guns secured. Enforcement of this requirement would be to charge the gun owners as accessories to crimes that are committed by another person who used the owner’s guns.

I have my usual problems with my religious faith or lack of it and then Bishop Spong put it into words this way:

“The best way to lose all is to cling with desperation to that which cannot possibly be sustained literally. Literalistic Christians will learn that a God or a faith system that has to be defended daily is finally no God or faith system at all.”

(Reply to a friend):

I voted as you did for the lesser of two incompetents.

Incompetent Number One President Obama may be the most likable President we’ve ever had but he did not have the knowledge to go against Geithner’s pressure to bail out the Wall Street banking giants instead of letting them twist in the wind for their sins of investing in worthless mortgages. The President should have imitated the Swedish bank reform which allowed the banks to go bankrupt (note that the word was specifically made for banks) while helping to bail out the victims of the banks’ – the borrowers. Sweden’s actions revived their economy. Obama/Geithner’s action revived the criminal banks and damned the economy. Obama turned out to be George W Bush reincarnated.

Incompetent Number Two Romney couldn’t even run his campaign – not his mouth and misfiring brain nor the amateurs he hired to run the campaign. If you wonder how Romney would have run the country as President just check out his success with his election strategy called Orca. 

What a lousy disappointment this election was. It may not be possible to find statesmen to run for President so we have to make do with clowns.

Super PAC ads should be identified. Free speech is wonderful unless we don’t know who the speaker is.

The Super PAC TV ads are getting away with murder because we do not know WHO is talking. We make the drug manufacturers tell us all the bad side effects of their drugs in their ads (“in case of an erection lasting four hours…”) and we know which drug manufacturer is talking, but in an ad that shows one of the candidates for president in all his worst and most embarrassing moments we do not know WHO is talking.  It does make a difference. For example: if I see that Barbara Streisand paid for the ad then I take her criticism of the Republican with a grain of salt, and if I see that the Koch brothers paid for the ad then I take the criticism of the Democrat with a grain of salt.

The guy who starts a panic by hollering “fire” in a not-burning theater can’t be controlled if you don’t know who he is.  Free speech does not mean that the speaker is anonymous.

We are reminded of this Charles Darwin quote: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

Hatred does not belong in an election.

I have friends who hate President Obama and other friends who hate Mitt Romney. I happen to think that both are good men and I’d be happy to have them as friends. I also happen to think that people who run for President are selfless, unreasonably optimistic, and probably crazy, but hate them? No, I can’t. This is undoubtedly a futile wish, but from now on I wish the Presidential campaign could deal with proposals, ideals, and qualifications. And leave the hatred out.

Letter to Editor:

An automatic is a gun that keeps firing as long as the trigger is depressed.  If our country is going to allow every citizen to own a gun let’s at least eliminate their right to own automatics.  Some of the citizens who own guns are crazy and if they decide to shoot me I at least want to have a chance to duck.

Why is Obama hated by most of my friends?

I look at Obama and I see an intelligent guy, great speaker, good athlete, in good shape, human (he smoked and so did I), and a guy I’d like to have a beer with. I think he’s conscientious and wants Americans to have a good life and a government that is kind to people. I think he is not a good manager, and he does not understand business people – neither their best motivations nor their worst – and he’s not enough of a leader to get Congress to agree on anything.

My friends – good friends, not despised acquaintances – hate Obama.  My friends don’t just disagree with him, they think he hates successful people, hates businessmen, and is motivated by some secret agenda to convert the USA to a socialist nation.

I think that their hatred of Obama is racially motivated.  I won’t vote for him but I’m not going to hate him.  (And then I ended up voting for him when some dear friends begged me with their reasoning.)

The worst President of my lifetime (Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton, Bush W, Obama) was W. Bush. Once again, a likable man, but he was the President who was at the helm during the dismantling of the regulation of banks and financial markets, and got us into both Iraq (with some small and erroneous justification) and into Afghanistan with no justification, and the President who missed the fraudulent government-sponsored ballooning of the real estate market that led to the depression we’re in.

I had to get all the way to age 60 before I fully applied this business advice from Peter Drucker.  I just hope my kids learn it before they hit 60: Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two — and only two — basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.

Restore the draft

Every young man should be drafted into the military for a two year period. This would teach those who had never learned the value of discipline the value of discipline. It would prevent the next incarnation of G.W. Bush from starting unjustified wars because he would be killing young men who didn’t choose to go.

Is our country going down the drain because of legislators who will take a bribe instead of governing their conscience?

60 Minutes interviewed Grover Norquist who described how his anti-tax pledge succeeds in getting so many Congressmen to refuse to even consider the possibility of raising taxes.  The punishment for failing to adhere to the pledge is that Norquist will put opponents against them in their next primary election.  So far, few Congressman have backed out of their anti-tax pledge.  If their re-election is more important to them than their consciences we can say farewell to representative democracy.  

That article April 7 “More teens will drink if wine sold in groceries” got me imagining this situation:  I’m in line on Senior Day for 60 and older, to get my discount and the clerk asks me for my ID to prove that I’m old enough to buy the 6-pack of beer.  And right behind me the 15 year old asks the checkout clerk “Can you recommend a nice red wine that has finesse with a fruity finish—maybe a cab or pinot noir?”       

    I love all these rules..

Feb. 05, 2011

I think I know part of the reason why unemployment hasn’t dropped—why it still is over 9%. Part of the answer may be that when their sales slowed companies released workers and managers whom they had continued to employ long after those employees had become partially replaced by technology and then they didn’t hire them back. When you have people working for you, you tend to keep them when business slows down a little, and then you release them only when business gets very slow.  I had a small business that employed 35 people and I tended to keep marginal employees when business was good—even though I didn’t really need them.  I hated to ever release one of them. Meanwhile, my little company kept improving its computers and other technology and the need for employees was reduced so we rarely hired back the people who had been laid off.

I think that this recession has happened during a “perfect storm” of bad circumstances: business slowed down at a time of intense technological upgrading during which there were many people employed whose functions were being partially replaced by machines. The employees got laid off when business got slow. But when the economy improved they didn’t get re-hired because many of these now-unemployed people had worked for companies that had almost lost their need for the employees because of the incredible advances of the past ten years in computerization. The employees had become obsolete.

The technologically unemployed person can improve his chances to be hired if he learns how to do something that machines can’t do or learns how to fix the machines.

A person who is unemployed does have an option in this seemingly impossible situation. He has the ability to perform some tasks much better than a machine can, and better than a machine will ever be able to match. I think of those companies who have a machine that tells us “Your call is important to us. (yeah, right!) All of our salesmen are busy now but your call will be handled in the order in which it was received.” My suggestion: hire people to answer the phone. (I did in my mail order business.)  I think of those companies whose Customer Service representative is an email form that tells us to “Check the reasons for your complaint and send this reply to  an email address.  My suggestion: hire a human being to handle the complaints and give him a telephone.

While our Congress fiddles around with their “principles” of either avoiding taxes or offering programs they can’t pay for,

the country has gone to hell from a lack of management and control.  Government’s mismanagement gave us Congress’s gift to people who could not afford to own a home and whose mortgages then failed. Our government’s lack of management let banks over-lend so badly that they failed when they had a withdrawal. The birth of ridiculous new “investments” such as derivatives and then credit default swaps was caused by government’s failure to regulate and supervise the stock markets, the insurance companies and the laughable rating services that were supposed to have some idea of credit worthiness.  So…to Congress and the President: quit playing your games of “high principle” and get on with managing the country!

While our Congress continues their idiotic argument over their issues of supposedly great principles: cutting taxes, and on the opposite side proposing programs that we can’t pay for, the country has suffered terribly from a lack of government management and oversight. Examples: The government failed to regulate banks which then gambled and over-leveraged themselves so badly that they weren’t able to lend money to expanding businesses, and almost failed when customers simply withdrew money. Our inept government then failed to regulate a huge insurance company which resulted in that company selling their shaky invention of Credit Default Swaps and then going bankrupt when the Swaps were cashed which caused the near failure of the investment banking industry. Next, our government’s failure to regulate investment banks let one of them fail and then required huge government expenses to bail out the others. Our non-functioning government failed to take a look at the laughable rating services that were supposed to give us some idea of credit worthiness. Meanwhile, our government’s regulatory agencies have been reduced so badly that they can not regulate.

The effect? Our country has been put into a depression by our dysfunctional “government”. So, this request to Congress and the President: quit playing your games of debating about your “principles” of tax reduction and increasing largess and instead get on with managing the nation!

Letter to the Editor Tennessean, May 30, 2015:

Is “isolationism” still a bad word?  We liberals thought that isolationists were non-thinking people who were naïve about the larger needs of the world.  But, maybe now it’s time to accept the fact that experience should have taught us that we still don’t know how The Middle East works; we still don’t understand its tribalism; we still haven’t found out that we cannot install democracy in places that don’t want it; we haven’t yet figured it out that Saddam’s eliminating a few thousand of his competitors each year was not comparable to our presence that caused the deaths of over one-hundred thousand; we haven’t figured out that our presence in the Middle East caused ISIS and ISIL and Al Quaeda to arise against us: and we still have not accepted the fact that we no longer need the Middle East for its oil.  Hasn’t the time finally arrived?  All in favor of leaving the Middle East say “Aye”.

Letter to Editor, The Tennessean, July 24, 2015

The McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act which regulates the financing of political campaigns left out any provision which would require the identification of the authors of a political ad. This is unfortunate because we can not fully understand the motivation for a political ad if we do not know who is speaking. If, for example, we see an ad that calls for the legalization of any person carrying weapons into a public gathering and the ad shows law enforcement officers carrying the weapons we would have a different opinion about the message if the buyer of the ad were identified as a terror group.  While this example may sound silly, the lesser versions such as an ad that might show happy consumers while the ad speaks of the necessity of lowering business taxes very much needs to be identified as being bought by the businesses. An ad that shows business executives nodding in agreement over spoken words that are saying that all businesses should be owned by the government would be better understood if the buyer was identified as the Communist Party.

Maybe these are ridiculous examples but the buyer of every political must be identified or free speech becomes simply free lying.


Letter to Editor, The Tennessean, July 31, 2015

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said: "We never fix anything here."  He should have said “We never run anything here.”  Our government is not governing. Our government is not running the nation. Our infrastructure is decaying and our government can not even decide on a budget to maintain our highways.

Our Constitution calls for a form of government that negotiates and compromises to run the nation.  It is not working.  Does anyone know how to make it work again?

Quote from Paul Krugman:

“The problem with American politics right now is Republican extremism, and if you’re not willing to say that, you’re helping make that problem worse.”

This hit me today:

It is not a case of how you were brought up but whether your existence was even acknowledged.

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