Reflections on America’s Greatness

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On the 4th of July I took time to reflect on the greatness of our country, the United States of America.

Some of you may dismiss my comments as the rant of an 87-year-old Irishman. However, I feel strongly that too many “ill-informed” people are complaining about America. Why? I don’t know. This country gives opportunity for all Americans.

This is the land that turns dreams into reality!!

If people believe in themselves and their opportunities, they can achieve greatness. America is replete with one story after another of people who started with little, only to become millionaires. They achieved success through their personal grit and determination, and in spite of the road blocks they encountered. My dear friend and employer, Ewing Kauffman, is but one example.

I live in Kansas City, MO near where the Oregon Trail originated. You don’t have to drive far to see the ruts of the wagon trains heading west…a 2,000-mile journey that took four months. Thousands of brave, hardy souls made this journey to a land they had never seen because they believed in the American dream and the promise of a new life.

How many Americans today would embark on that journey?

Our Future Leaders

Millions of families save their money to send their children to college or technical schools, hoping their knowledge will be expanded and their career opportunities improved. I interact with college students all the time, and I am impressed and encouraged by their desire to succeed.

Unfortunately, too often the media overlooks these positive role models and instead focuses on uninformed young people…holding misspelled signs. Let’s encourage the media to shine more of the spotlight on our future leaders.

The Press

America is becoming the country of negative news. Biased, opinion journalism is replacing strong, factual reporting. As a result, newspaper sales and TV viewership are down. Alternative media of various persuasions is now the only source of news for many Americans. Is this a better source of news than we had before? I don’t believe so.

Capitalism vs. Socialism

Socialism does not work!!!

Taking from the rich to share with the poor has been tried in many countries. Noble in theory, but there aren’t enough “rich” people to pay for their crazy schemes.

Free college. Free health care. Free. Free. Free!

Our schools need to do a better job teaching the reasons for, and benefits of capitalism; how it works to everyone’s benefits.

Racism

I don’t believe we are a country of racists. Opposing sides of differing issues are too quick to accuse one another of being racist when their other arguments fail. That’s a cheap shot. As a result, many people are reluctant to speak out, knowing others are ready to accuse them of racist motives.

Critics of America

Too many Americans, including Members of Congress, athletes and entertainers attack our country and what it stands for.  Yet, they enjoy the benefits of the greatest country on Earth.

Summary

I am very proud to be an American!!!  (I love that song.) I believe in our country and the endless opportunities it offers. So do the majority of Americans.

I urge you to speak out. Let your voice be heard. Make sure Congress knows how you feel.

On the 4th of July, and every day, we are blessed to live in a great country. Let’s keep it that way.

God Bless America!!

The Real Cost of Illegal Immigration

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Few issues are fraught with so many emotional twists and turns as immigration. People on both sides of this issue share an empathy for the poor and displaced. But we are also concerned about the impact of illegal immigration on the security, economy and health of our country.

Illegal Immigration Costs Billions

The economic costs of illegal immigration are staggering. It’s estimated that Americans pay $200 billion annually in illegal immigration costs, including:

An estimated $18.5 billion in health care costs
paid by federal, state and local taxpayers plus uncompensated care borne by hospitals and our insurance premiums. Source: American Enterprise Institute

Another $59.8 billion to educate the children of
illegal immigrants, borne almost entirely by property taxes at the state and local levels. Source: Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

Billions of dollars more to fight the war on drugs, fueled by opioids that kill more than 70,000 people a year.

The costs of border security, enforcement and detention.

In recent history, the bulk of illegal immigration has come from Mexican citizens, but now things are shifting as we see growing percentages of Central and South Americans coming through Mexico to the U.S. “Plus, men, women and children from central Africa–mostly the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola–are showing up at the United States’ southwest border after embarking on a months’ long journey,” according to the New York Times.

 

U.S. Border Patrol Southwest Border Apprehensions by Citizenship, 2008, 2013, 2018

 

Note: Figures may not add up to 100 percent due to rounding. Sources: Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Homeland Security Border Security Metrics Report (Washington, DC: DHS, 2018), available online; U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “U.S. Border Patrol Nationwide Apprehensions by Citizenship and Sector, FY2007- FY2018,” accessed April 19, 2019, available online.

 

Infectious Disease a New Threat

While Americans are being reawakened to the imperative of getting their children and themselves vaccinated against common diseases like measles–which was practically eradicated—there is no requirement for proof of vaccination from those entering this country except for those migrating legally.

Infectious diseases are an equal opportunity scourge. Measles, tuberculosis, typhus, Ebola, zika and others know no boundaries. With 100,000+ people a month being apprehended trying to enter the U.S. illegally–plus thousands more we don’t catch–there is no practical way to enforce any massive health check. Government and non-profit agencies are “seeding” the problem when they relocate migrants to far flung cities across the U.S.

A group called Independent Women’s Voice (IWV.org.) is trying to address this issue. It has launched a petition for the White House to redouble its efforts to secure the border, while also asking the CDC to expand the rule requiring proof of vaccination to everyone entering the country.

Summary

Tammy Bruce, president of IWV says, “Something must be done. This is not a political issue. If we are serious about saving lives and stopping a humanitarian crisis affecting citizens and migrants alike, securing the border and requiring proof of vaccination for everyone entering the country legally must be done.”

Do our lawmakers not remember the polio epidemic of the 1940s and ‘50s the AIDs crisis of the 1980s and the Asian flu outbreaks of recent years? Write your Member of Congress and the President. We must act now to protect the health and safety of our country!

The Rising Death Toll of Fentanyl

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It is estimated that up to 72,000 people are dying in America every year from drug abuse, and deaths are
increasing thanks to a new menace…Fentanyl.

  • Fentanyl was developed as a potent pain killer in patch form to treat severe chronic pain associated with cancer.
  • It is very potent; 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine or heroin. As little as two milligrams can kill you.
Two milligrams of fentanyl is a lethal dose for most people.

Fentanyl is a man-made drug that requires far less time and expense to produce than its plant-based counterpart, heroin made from poppies. Heroin requires vast expanses of land, manpower, time and capital to grow, transport, process, package and smuggle. Chemists can easily make fentanyl in small inexpensive labs and ship it out in regular envelopes.

Cheap production isn’t the only economic benefit suppliers have on their side. Fentanyl is said to produce a better high and is more addictive than heroin.

Deaths from Fentanyl Overdoses are Increasing Significantly

The Perfect Storm for Drug Deaths

When you have these factors present, it makes for a potential tragic disaster:

  • Low cost and ease of production.
  • Far greater potency than current products.
  • Low or no quality control.

This will invariably lead to more deaths.

Action Needed

More must be done to raise awareness of this menacing drug. Current and future users are playing Russian Roulette with their lives every time they use or handle fentanyl. Even casual contact can cause tragic results. We have had a national drug crisis for decades, but fentanyl could be the “Atomic Bomb” responsible for thousands upon thousands of needless deaths.

Summary

We must acknowledge that this is a national crisis that is getting worse every year. Fentanyl is the new, far more potent player in this field of death.

People must be made aware of its ability to kill. All it takes is two milligrams.

Our Tax Dollars Only Go So Far

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When I was a boy growing up in Minnesota, the State Fair would happen every Fall. Mom dropped me off at the gate, gave me a dollar and told me to have a good time.

I knew that dollar had to last all day. I budgeted every penny…ten cents for a ride, a nickel for a hot dog, two cents for a drink, etc. I learned at a very early age that a dollar only goes so far.

I think our leaders in Washington could use a similar lesson in budgeting.

The Office of Management and Budget recently released this year’s proposed budget and the outlook is grim. It showed that Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare and Social Security are the largest programs in the budget. When combined with interest on the national debt, these programs are the fastest growing elements of the budget. At their current rate of growth, they will consume every dollar of taxes paid by 2041, leaving nothing for defense, infrastructure, education, or other domestic programs without going further into debt.

 

 

Let’s take a closer look.

  • Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare subsidies account for more than a quarter of all federal spending. Ten years from now, they are projected to consume more than a third of the budget.
  • Social Security is our nation’s single largest program. Trustees project its costs will exceed its income starting next year, forcing it to dip into its $3 trillion trust fund. Unless something’s done–like cutting benefits or raising the retirement age–the trust fund will run out of reserves by 2034.
  • Other income security programs like veterans’ benefits, food and housing assistance, federal employee retirement, and disability account for 16% of the budget.
  • Defense at 15% and Interest on the national debt at 8% are the last two major categories of federal spending.

Everything else the federal government does–education, highways, national parks, our courts, foreign aid, etc.–represent just 9 cents of the federal dollar.

America’s leaders in Congress and the Executive Branch need to take a hard look at every government program. They must stop robbing future generations by raising the national debt and begin thinking like a kid from Minnesota with only one dollar to spend.

Our Dysfunctional Congress

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Could things be any more dysfunctional in Washington, DC? Very little is being accomplished by Congress while our nation’s problems grow and grow.

Let’s reflect on what is and isn’t happening.

Mueller  “Investigation”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s “investigation” wasn’t a true investigation. Why? Because there was no underlying crime to investigate.

The Democrats claimed that there was collusion between President Trump’s campaign and the Russians in the run-up to the 2016 Presidential election. However, according to legal experts, collusion is not a crime even if it occurred…which it did not as the Mueller report concluded. This was a search looking for a crime.

The “investigation” started on May 17, 2017 and lasted 675 days–nearly two years. It cost over $25 million and included 19 attorneys who interviewed 500 witnesses, issued 2,800 subpoenas and 500 search warrants, according to Fox News. Through it all, many Americans believed that this whole process was designed simply to harass the President; aided by the news media with their daily attacks on him.

When it concluded, the Attorney General issued his summary saying, “The Special Counsel’s office determined that it “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia.”

Now that the Mueller team has disbanded, does this mean the case is closed? The answer, unfortunately, is no!!!

Democrats have announced they will continue to “investigate” and harass the duly-elected President. They cannot accept the fact that he won the election and has been successful in his presidency. Have they forgotten that we have elections in this country? The results may not please the opposing party, but they must accept the results and move on until a future election when things can change if the voters choose to do so. That’s the way democracy works. No one has the right to undermine the winner, especially if it is the President of the United States.

Illegal Immigration

We have a crisis on our southern border. The Democrats are again the party of “no” with their claims of “no crisis.”

To the contrary. According to official reports, our immigration facilities are overwhelmed. As a result, untold thousands of illegal immigrants are swarming into our country. We don’t know where they’re from, who they are or where they’re going. When will we say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!

In the face of this crisis, the President has issued an Executive Order declaring a state of emergency along our southern border. His decree should be supported by both parties.

Summary

The Mueller report pleased some and disappointed others. The President has stated all along that there was No Collusion and No Obstruction.

Isn’t it time to close this “witch hunt” and let the President do his job? There are so many important problems that Congress should be working on rather than relitigating this issue over and over again.

Chief among these critical problems is securing our southern border. Fox News and other observers estimate one million illegal immigrants will cross our border this year. At what cost and with what consequences for our nation?

It’s time that Washington faced up to our problems and solved them. We are tired of the excuses that “we can’t act because we don’t control both houses of Congress.” To that we say, “Get to work.” Develop solutions that both sides can agree on and vote. Americans want action, not excuses.

America is a great country. We don’t deserve a dysfunctional Congress.

America Has Achieved Energy Independence!

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What does U.S. energy independence mean to the American consumer?

  • $2 per gallon gasoline in many states
  • Cleaner burning natural gas for energy production
  • We are no long dependent on the OPEC cartels
  • We are now exporting natural gas to Europe, breaking up the Russian monopoly.

All of this was achieved by American advances in fracking technology in spite of government obstruction.

A Tale of Two States

Unfortunately, this success story has not been supported by all states. Here is the sad tale of New York State vs. Pennsylvania and the vast Marcellus Shale deposit that lies below them both. Marcellus is one of most prolific sources of natural gas in the country, according to the Wall Street Journal.

  • Pennsylvania elected to develop their deposits, while New York did not. What happened:
  • By the end of 2018, Pennsylvania drillers were producing about 18 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day. That’s more gas than Canada now produces.
  • Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry employs 106,000 people and generated $247 million in gas related fees to the state last year.
  • And now, ironically, Pennsylvania supplies two thirds of the natural gas consumed in New York.

NY Restricts Gas Pipelines

While Pennsylvania moved forward, New York Governor Mario Cuomo blocked a 124-mile natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to New York and New England. The pipeline would have allowed millions of citizens in the region to convert to natural gas from dirtier and more expensive heating oil, saving residential users about $1,000 per year. The restraints have forced Consolidated Edison to place a moratorium on new natural gas hook-ups in New York City’s Westchester suburbs.

New York State has serious fiscal problems. High wage earners have left because of their high tax burden. The state would be well served to embrace fracking and natural gas production.

Energy and Its Many Benefits

Unfortunately, many Americans oppose fracking despite its resulting low energy costs.

There is a place for solar and wind energy, however the sun doesn’t always shine nor the wind blow. We still need electricity 24 hours a day, regardless of its source. In short, our energy strategy should be “all of the above”.

Our low-cost energy serves us well competitively with other countries. U.S. electricity is one-third the cost of Germany’s. That’s why German manufacturing plants are moving to the USA.

Summary

In little more than a decade, we have gone from an energy importer to an energy exporter. Costs have dropped dramatically, expanding our work force with more high paying jobs.

A win-win for all Americans!

The China Challenge

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Guest Article by Bill Musgrave

For years, our “leaders” have been mired in political disputes over everything from healthcare, to the environment, to taxes, and more. All the while, a major threat has been steadily growing in the East.

Paying homage to the ancient Silk Road trade routes, China created the “Belt and Road Initiative” to expand trade and its influence around the world. If successful, many experts believe China could become the dominant economic, military and political global force.

Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer recently told Congress, “When it comes to China, the bottom line there is the checkbook,” he said. “Not only in the dollars and cents that they are writing to support their military expansion and their technological work, but what they’re doing around the globe…weaponizing capital.”

“Their open checkbook keeps me up at night,” he added.

U.S. negotiators–led by Robert Lighthizer– are renewing talks with China over tariffs, intellectual property rights, dumping of steel and other issues. Lurking in the background will be the immense impact China is making around the world, particularly in Africa and other third world regions. With virtually unlimited amounts of money and manpower, China is financing vast military, transportation, hydropower, and other infrastructure projects in strategic locales.

For example:

In Africa, China is lending billions to build railways, dams, bridges, oil refineries, mining operations, highways and more. Their “no-strings-attached” lending policies mean human rights abuses by totalitarian regimes are overlooked. China says this is all in the name of economic development. Critics call it neo-colonialism. Is this a debt trap that will bind these third world countries to China forever? Time will tell.

Closer to home, China is building:

• 12,000 km freight rail line from eastern China, through the country’s industrial belt on through Russia, Poland, Germany, France and ending in London. An 18-day journey.

• A $54 billion highway plus infrastructure improvements to connect China with the Gulf of Oman and its Middle Eastern shipping lanes.

• Four pipelines to carry natural gas from Kazakhstan and other nearby regions to China.

• Many more projects to enhance trade and commerce. To learn more visit the South China Morning Post website—www.scmp.com.

• China is also devoting trillions of dollars to upgrade its military into a global fighting force by 2050, capable of defending not just its homeland, but its growing interests around the world, according to Pentagon reports.

Clearly, the impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative is world-changing. A report by the Brookings Institute states, that “with China’s enhanced role in Africa is the reality that the U.S. is being increasingly edged out of the continent politically and economically. To compete with the Chinese presence and to counter the negative consequences of China’s approach, the U.S. must become more engaged in Africa with effective strategies.” 

That may be true, but with our divided government and a consistent lack of support for “foreign aid” we may be in for a seismic shift in global relevance, unless our “leaders” and policy makers can convince the American people to look beyond our own parochial interests.

America is still a great country.

But we must always work to keep it that way.

Happy New Year

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When one reflects on 2018 and its many successes, we have much to be thankful for. A few highlights:

Economy

Our economy is booming. Record low unemployment levels…by most standards we have full employment. If you want a job, you can find one. You see “Help Wanted” signs every place; on the sides of trucks, billboards, in store windows.

Energy

We Achieved Energy Independence in 2018!!!

This was accomplished via American know-how, in spite of liberal opposition. The result of this success is low energy costs across the board, including natural gas and gasoline. This means more money in the customer’s pocket.

Contrast this with France with their $7 per gallon price on fuel due to their anti-energy agenda.

The Tax Cut

The impact of the tax cuts is being displayed in many ways:

  • Employers passing out significant bonuses to their workers.
  • $1,000 to $2,000 more take home pay per worker.
  • More optimism in the economy.

Regulations

Excessive regulations have had an oppressive impact on business and life in general. Thanks to Washington leadership, this is changing for the better.

For example, the Brookings Institution’s Center on Regulation and Markets lists about 150 Trump administration deregulation initiatives completed or under way affecting the environment, telecom, finance, housing, health, agriculture, labor and education.

Supreme Court

Two excellent choices have been made to the Supreme Court plus hundreds of lower court judges as well. This will have a long-term impact on the future and the importance of following the Constitution. We want our judges upholding the Constitution, not writing legislation from the bench.

Attitude

Most Americans have a positive attitude about our country. We believe in our future and what we can accomplish by working together. Unfortunately, this attitude is not reflected by much of the media. They try to find fault with each success that is made.

My suggestion to all of us is to maintain a positive attitude. Johnny Mercer, the song writer, expressed it well:

“We must accentuate the positive,  Eliminate the negative and don’t mess with Mr. in between.”

Summary

Great things are happening in America. The economy is booming. People have more money to spend. Couple that American “Can-Do” attitude with strong leadership and we have a winning formula for continued success.

Let’s keep America great!

2018 Year in Review

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The year 2018 is drawing to a close as the fighting between Republicans and Democrats continues. As a result, many key issues are not resolved…immigration, “The Wall” and excessive debt…to name a few.

The press, and their distorted news coverage from all sides, continues to shield our citizens from the truth. Sad! We have real problems that need to be solved by both parties.

Mueller investigation

This committee–all 15 of them–continues to look for a crime. To date, there are no tangible results linking the President to the so-called Russian election collusion. According to the legal experts, “collusion” is not a crime even if it occurred, which it did not.

2019

The Democratic House has proposed more hearings including impeachment of the President. The American people are tired of disputing election results in the courts and endless non-productive hearings.

Kavanaugh hearings

The Kavanaugh hearings were an embarrassment for the Senate and the American people. The Democrats paid a heavy price in the Senate elections. I hope future “hearings” will be more productive.

Tax bill

We are now seeing the results of the tax cuts. People have more money to spend for their families. Congress now needs to make these changes permanent.

Forest fires

For years, the federal government has run its ad campaigns featuring Smokey the Bear. “Only you can prevent forest fires,” he says.

Unfortunately, this is only partially true. They forget the impact of state and federal governments’ role in preventing forest fires. Proper forest management has been under assault for the last 50 years. The results have been tragic with loss of life and fires that have had a major impact on our environment.

Urban areas are vulnerable to uncontrolled fires, ala Santa Rosa in 2017. The whole city could have gone up in flames. We have the opportunity to minimize future loss of life and damage by permitting state and federal governments to pursue strong forest management programs. Even the environmentalists finally agree that action must be taken to reduce risks.

Summary

We have real problems facing our country. They can only be solved by working together and doing what’s right for all Americans. We have a right to expect Washington to do its job and solve the problems we face.

Be Kind!

As we enter a new year we need more kindness and less partisan bickering. Let’s all of us take this opportunity to better understand other peoples’ challenges. In short, be kind!

Take the time to drop a note to an old friend, call them up, wish them a Happy New Year. Time goes by quickly. Use your time wisely.

America is a great country. Let’s make it even greater!

Reflections on the Election

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The mid-term election outcome was consistent with many voters’ expectations. The Republicans added more seats to their majority in the Senate. The Democrats now have the majority in the House of Representatives.

There is considerable speculation on what the Democrats will do with their new majority.

Will they LEGISLATE OR INVESTIGATE?

This is the key decision for them. If they launch a series of vindictive hearings, this will not go well by the people who elected them. Many Democratic party leaders have gone on record wanting to impeach the President, with no basis for their actions.

The “so-called” Russia probe has led nowhere. Unfortunately, many in the Democratic party are looking for headlines and not facts. The Democratic Speaker will have to provide leadership or risk voter revolt.

Election Thoughts

America’s 50% voter participation rate is dismal and disappointing. With so many critical decisions needing action, why are so many Americans sitting on the side lines?

In contrast, Australia requires its citizens to vote and they have a 90% turnout.

Election Process

Election processes are run by state and local governments. Too many make it a challenge to vote. We need more early voting, not less.

Some voting districts, including the entire state of Oregon, have adopted mail-in paper ballots only to speed up the process. Regardless the method used, election results should be available within hours, not days. Florida’s Broward County is a chronic offender in “finding” ballots after the voting is over. Why is this?

Voter Attitude

When surveyed, 50% of voters say they have lost confidence in our electoral system. Why?

With our current abilities to capture and convey data, why is our election process tied to outmoded methods that are susceptible to fraud?

Washington, DC

President Trump calls for “draining the swamp.” Indeed, it needs draining.

Our so-called leaders have forgotten the voters they serve. Thanks to the abundance of media outlets, we see one grandstanding politician after another spewing their opinions labeled as facts. Then, when they leave office, they stay in Washington to become high-paid consultants and lobbyists earning millions from the special interests.

Summary

With the election behind us, I urge both parties to SOLVE PROBLEMS!

Don’t just talk about problems.

It’s time to LEGISLATE INSTEAD OF INVESTIGATE!

We have a great country. Let’s build it up rather than tear it down!