Monday, December 31, 2012

Golf and the New Year

I am passing time this New Year reacquainting myself with the game of golf.  Often termed by those who play it as the “greatest game”  invented by mankind…I have new respect for the various aspects of the game.  The only downside is the time commitment it takes to play or practice effectively.  Yet, there are so many lessons to be learned from golf…I think it is a key sport that every person should have the opportunity to learn.  I also was thinking how so many aspects of golf apply to living successfully in general…so for this year, I strive to apply these aspects of golf as my “New Years” resolutions:

Fundamentals and preparation:  You cannot play this sport well without preparation and knowing the fundamental skills of the game.  People who succeed in life are usually well prepared (educated) and continue practicing the fundamentals of what has made them successful in the past, copying the attributes of those who have succeeded before them.

Discipline: It takes discipline both mentally and physically to play golf well.  Having the discipline to repetitively do the things that repeatedly bring positive results is what makes the difference between those who are successful and those who are not.

Accuracy: Before hitting a ball, you have to know what your target is…in this case a small hole in the ground.  It is best to know what obstacles lie between you and the hole and how far away it is so you plan your strategy and know which club to use.  Your choices along these lines will determine how accurately and quickly you reach your goal in the fewest amount of strokes (effort) possible.

Mental concentration: The beautiful thing about golf is that it’s not always the best physical specimens that win…but is more about mind over matter.  If you don’t have clear mental concentration and control over your body and emotions, the ball will not go where you want it to.  Mind controls matter more than vice versa.

Physical shape: The above being said, being in good physical shape does help improve distance and accuracy.  Today’s field of professional golfers are paying more attention to their physical conditioning because guys like Tiger Woods and others came into the sport able to drive a ball almost 400 yards.  The physical conditioning is important in performing at your maximum potential and for sure to enjoy the fruits of your labors with more vigor.

Imagination & overcoming obstacles: Without imagination, pursuit of life and well-being will be difficult.  Daily life brings various obstacles and distractions across our path.  Being able to see beyond the obstacle and adjusting your swing to the difficulties life brings is paramount to living successfully.

Spirit of camaraderie and competition: Finally…one of the most rewarding parts of the game is the friendly competition and observing others struggling the same as yourself to reach their goals.  Life should be lived in friendly competition and mutual encouragement. It is much more fun to make a good shot in front of friends than to only enjoy your accomplishment alone.  I am rich in lifelong comradeship and fellowship.

Whether it is playing golf, pursuing business or living in thriving relationships…may we all be successful “golfers”  in achieving our desires in 2013.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

USA recovery checklist...

Instead of just criticizing and rebuking all the senseless politicos that run the USA and most countries of the world as I usually do...I end this year with a simple (and yes, oversimplified) checklist of what should be done to recover the positive values our country used to have.  
First and foremost...just because you are the Federal Government doesn't mean you can operate without a sane budget.  We must have responsible financial people in government who know how to balance a budget and reverse the deficit spending and take away the blank checkbook these politicos see to think they have. That also means the government cannot make commitments or entitlements it cannot fund.
Part of re-balancing the budget should include reduced global military spending and refocus those military budgets on more cost effective defensive technologies and weapons.  With Satellites and drones in our arsenal now, we don't really need thousands of boots on the ground in scores of different countries...unnecessarily putting soldiers in harms way with costs that are wasteful and ineffectual. If our armed forces support a foreign state, that foreign state should have to pay the tab for those resources, not the American people.
Put more of the federal budget into Research and Development of new businesses, technologies and industrial production. Instead of bailout moneys to failing corporations and banks, a federal government should simply incentivize private enterprise to domestically compete more effectively in the global marketplace and provide more jobs for the massive underemployed populations of our country.  Small, competitive business is the key to this, not slow moving, elephant sized mega corporations. The government should NOT be the fastest growing enterprise in the country. Reduction and streamlining should be the mantra of the day. Free and open markets need to be re-enforced by government...not controls and more regulations. 
Governments cannot mandate or legislate morality. Morality comes from the core of the society...its families and local institutions such as schools...and yes even churches for those who need them to control their darker sides. Quit prohibitions such as the war on drugs...and reapply those funds and efforts to education, trade schools and medical/psychological care for addicts and substance abusers. The substances are only symptoms of the problem...not the problem. It is a false sense of order when order is based on laws and punishments. People have the potential to regulate their own behaviors in a society of true values, mutual responsibility and education. 
Social securities of all forms should be paid and settled at the local level with gaps working  their way up to the national level.  Instead we have created an inverted pyramid where 500+ federal legislators are responsible for all the welfare and problems of the whole country.  You have to break this up to where local communities and each state has more responsibility...and handle the social needs and economic gaps in their communities.  Washington DC has obviously shown its inability to handle the welfare state we have become.
The USA needs to become the most competitive tax country for doing business.  This means DECREASING versus INCREASING taxes on productive businesses and corporations. This also means EQUALLY taxing all industries and businesses.  The USA tax code is hideous and full of exceptions and reductions for special interests and cronies of politicos in Washington.  We need simplification of taxation and incentives to hire American workers...not more regulation and costs put on the back of business leaders.  You are killing the cow in order to get more milk!
We need reductions of Federal powers and turn their focus to simply protecting our borders and foreign interests of our citizens...the federal budget could probably be reduced in half...and most of these congresspeople can be part time, voluntary positions for SUCCESSFUL Americans who don't need to be paid to serve their country in leadership.  No lifetime entitlements or extraordinary POWERS for legislators.  No "Cadillac"  healthcare plans that their constituents can't also qualify for. This will bring the great leaders of our country forward, and send the cockroaches of cronyism scurrying back to the holes they came out of. 
There you have it:

  • Balance the federal budget
  • Reduce external military spending in the world
  • Spend more on R&D for business and technology leadership in the world
  • Stop trying to legislate morality...especially that which is based on religion
  • Social programs should run from the local government level, not vice versa
  • Become more tax competitive in the world
  • Reduce Federal powers by keeping more leaders local and more in touch with their constituents instead of serving big money interests in DC

Sure...these points are simplified macros...but they are doable. The current government leaders of the USA cannot begin to turn things around in our country until they agree on the fundamentals.  With no fundamentals agreed upon, all the complicated detailed solutions they discuss and argue about have no chance of providing a long or permanent solution.

So...there you have 2013 wish list of changes I would like to see if the USA government is to have any chance of recovery. Only by agreeing on the fundamentals for recovery do we have a chance for restoring peace, love and prosperity to a country of people who have lost their way towards liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Prohibition is profitable

I have been writing this in my mind bit by bit for years now. It has become very evident to me that based on the ¨war on drugs¨, increasing excise and VAT taxes on drugs, alcohol and tobacco... and the increasing incidences of money laundering...PROHIBITION IS PROFITABLE!

It is obviously difficult to prove any large system of collusion or clandestine collaboration behind modern day prohibition, yet it is hard NOT to think that so many of our institutions are in cahoots in the continued proliferation of programs designed to make drinking, drug use and smoking illegal or hyper controlled.

It is a given that my Libertarian life philosophy (not political as you might note) runs against the grain of today's commonly accepted practices of religious and state sponsored programming that condemns or vilifies the huge populations in our societies that choose to drink, smoke or use recreational drugs. I am in no way suggesting that it is preferable to use or abuse any substances so readily available in natures world. Yet, I think it prudent for us to admit that for THOUSANDS of years, mankind has enjoyed and been fascinated by the in-gestation of various substances that might bring momentary physiological and/or psychological changes to our existence that sometimes produces pleasant affects for the living. It is also my observation that many millions of the world`s inhabitants use such substances for pleasure or for social enhancement without totally obliterating the rest of their daily pursuits. Those of us who appreciate freedom and individual pursuit of happiness should support every human`s right to make their own choices on consumption of substances as long as they are not impinging on the rights of another human NOT to consume or have their life affected by those that do so.

The COST of the drug war on humanity is greater and more devastating than any of the costly wars being fought in Syria, Afghanistan and various Arab states. Here are a few stats to mull over on the COSTS of the ill advised "drug war". Just a few to highlight are:

Amount spent annually in the U.S. on the war on drugs: More than $51,000,000,000
Number of people arrested in 2011 in the U.S. on nonviolent drug charges: 1.53 million
In 2007, the cost of illicit drug use totaled more than $193 billion. Direct and indirect costs attributable to illicit drug use are estimated in three principal areas: crime, health, and productivity.
Crime includes three components: criminal justice system costs ($56,373,254,000), crime victim costs ($1,455,555,000), and other crime costs ($3,547,885,000). These subtotal $61,376,694,000.
Health includes five components: specialty treatment costs ($3,723,338,000), hospital and emergency department costs for non-homicide cases ($5,684,248,000), hospital and emergency department costs for homicide cases ($12,938,000), insurance administration costs ($544,000), and other health costs ($1,995,164,000). These subtotal $11,416,232,000.
Productivity includes seven components: labor participation costs ($49,237,777,000), specialty treatment costs for services provided at the state level ($2,828,207,000), specialty treatment costs for services provided at the federal level ($44,830,000), hospitalization costs ($287,260,000), incarceration costs ($48,121,949,000), premature mortality costs (nonhomicide: $16,005,008,000), and premature mortality costs (homicide: $3,778,973,000). These subtotal $120,304,004,000.
Taken together, these costs total $193,096,930,000, with the majority share attributable to lost productivity.
These costs above don't begin to touch the cost of destroyed lives who because of criminalization and felony convictions cannot get an education, job or find acceptance in society.  If you run the millions of incarcerated numbers above by the amount of welfare they must rely on upon reentering society...I'm sure those numbers would be staggering. I'm still looking for valid data on that front.

So...WHO profits from all these trillions spent or lost to the "drug war"...and why might they have selfish interests to maintain the devastating status quo? Well, lets see...lawyers and court systems gaining over $61 Billions per year in spoils of the "war".  Healthcare industry gaining over $11 Billion. And how about the $51 Billion that flow through the federal government coffers to "fight the war".  Where is this money going?  Who profits from that?  If you think about it clearly for just a couple should understand why the institutions of the USA are so anxious to promote this war and pass more and more laws.

While I will not take space here to count the various cases in the world, please accept the fact that various governments and militaries of the world have been in COLLUSION with the illegal trafficking of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other "illicit" drugs. Do you think these government and military entities want to go without the budgets and profits that this "war" brings in?  Sure, billions are confiscated each year in various global locations in the "fight", but where do those billions go?  Do they burn up the cash, homes, cars, jewelry, bank accounts and other valuables confiscated from the illegal traders?  Of course not!  They go into various government coffers to "continue the good fight".

The "drug war" of today is the biggest "smoke and mirrors" issue in global politics.  There is no justice in the current laws and prohibitions! All we have done is take money OUT of the hands of users and sellers...and put them in institutional coffers world produce more guns and arms to control the world with...or continue lining the pockets of drug lords and cartels. There is no justice in these statistics produced by former President Jimmy Carter who while being a socially conservative religious leader has spoken out against the fallacy of "drug wars"...
  • The Global Commission on Drug Policy reported that between 1998 and 2008, global use of opiates increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent, and cannabis 8.5 percent.
  • Carter said when he left the presidential office in 1980, 500,000 people were incarcerated in America.  At the end of 2009, the number jumped to 2.3 million.  If the number of people on probation and parole are included, the figure totals 7.2 million people, or more than 3 percent of all US adults.
  • In 2011, 50.8 percent of Federal inmates are incarcerated for drug offenses.  This compares to just 4.2 percent for robbery, 2.7 percent for homicide/assault/kidnapping, and 4.7 percent for sex offenses.
  • Since the mid-1990s, violent crimes (murder, rape and sexual assault, robbery, and assault) and burglary have steadily declined.  What has skyrocketed is arrests for drug offenses.
While I am sure there are many justifications projected behind this institutional "war on drugs" that I am not aware of or even imagined yet...I don't need more proof or statistics than we have already stated to assure me that prohibition and drug wars are hurting the masses to the benefit of the institutions that manipulate them.  As former President Carter himself concluded and I agree with...
1. Decriminalize the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and add a full program to treat addicts.
2. Remove mandatory minimum sentencing and “three strikes you’re out” laws.
3. Don’t rely on controlling drug imports from foreign countries.  It doesn't work and is responsible for “a terrible escalation in drug-related violence, corruption and gross violations of human rights in a growing number of Latin American countries.”
4.  Experiment with legal regulation of drugs and thus take away the power of organized crime.
The 18 states in the USA who have legalized medical uses of Marijuana are starting in the right direction on this topic. It is time to take this issue out of the control of federal governments and organized crime.  This dance is only benefiting a huge cost to the majority masses who either enjoy recreational drug use or don't really care about the issue.  Lets stop funding this unconstitutional and costly "war" that only organized crime and institutional governments are profiting from. This war can only be won by educating the masses, bringing values back to the home and family, giving people more productive things to do with their time and money than using drugs (such as perhaps a good job on the line making these substances?), and not victimizing or criminalizing users in the privacy of their own homes.  By decriminalizing drug use, we will bring millions of currently disenfranchised citizens back to more productive and inclusive citizenship. By decriminalizing drug use, we will have much more money for productive activities such as education, counseling, treatment centers instead of prisons...and just a basic advanced humanitarian approach to helping and supporting those who are addicts.

These decades of criminalization have not worked.  Let give peace and tolerance a chance to sort out this issue in our society.  Organized crime and Big Brother have had long enough to profit from the "war". Lets now take them out of the game and let markets and regulation of product quality and production determine the price and distribution of these substances.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Iraq thanks us...

In case you missed it, here is an article featuring the latest "thank you"  from our "friends" in Iraq. You know...the people we liberated from that tyrant Saddam Hussein at a cost of  "about $1.9 trillion...or $6,300 per U.S. citizen". Oh...and don't forget the cost of almost 5000 American lives.  Almost twice as many people as died on 9/11 in New York.

Now our Iraqi friends are one of the sole suppliers and supporters of the Syrian butcher President Bashar al-Assad. Are you still feeling good about our USA government's invasion of Iraq to get rid of "terrorists"?  Thanks Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Obama...

As every week and month unfolds more of the demise of American international foreign policy and despise and abhorrent reaction grows deeper and more sure against my home country's government. They continue to spend our tax dollars and invest many future generations of our children's economic futures for the sake of these sick wars and interventions.  I truly believe 50-60 years from now history will find these governmental leaders and decisions to be the most ill advised and ludicrous examples of leadership in the history of the USA. 

An even sadder revelation is realizing that Iraq is working WITH Iran to support the oppressive government of Syria. What a sad outcome based on our national arrogance and irrational egos that continue to determine the fate of our country and economy in the face of these real facts and results.  This is the same game these Arab states have been playing against various USA administrations for decades now. When is enough enough?  When will someone in our country stand up against our government's wasted efforts and lack of understanding in the Middle East?

You are welcome Iraq. Enjoy your new found "freedom".  Excuse me while I go to the restroom to vomit in disgust.