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Archive for October, 2011

I find it interesting that the “Occupy” protesters have become just like the people in Washington, D.C. They began with a wonderful purpose and now they have degenerated into a mob without purpose, infiltrated by those hell-bent on merely having vandalistic ‘fun.’ The detritus they are leaving in cities like New York, Boston, Oakland, and other cities is shameful behavior for what are supposedly intelligent American citizens. It would appear that other ‘causes’ have used one issue to feather their own beds, and this is wrong!

There is no question in my mind that the head of Exxon, the chief executive officer of Bank America, the big bosses at the automobile companies, non-profit top guys, and the presidents and executive officers of many of our ‘top’ – that’s certainly a misnomer – organizations in the country are screwing the little guy. Cripes, it’s been going on since the days of Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, and long before Henry Ford came into the picture. According to Wise Geek, “The term ‘American Dream’ is used in a number of ways, but essentially the American Dream is an idea which suggests that all people can succeed through hard work, and that all people have the potential to live happy, successful lives.“ It’s a Utopian concept that was nearly possible in the ‘50s. It might even have been possible up through the eighties, but the minute the 21st Century rolled around the dream died. Was it because of actions taken in Washington? Of course, it was, but NAFTA and other legislation was just a small part of the problem. One cannot lay all of the problems that exist in America on poor decisions made by the Federal Government. Insider trading, Ponzi schemes, unrealistic union demands which began the outsourcing craze, and many other somewhat nefarious individuals brought about the termination of the American dream as it was originally conceived. In addition, America and its citizens have a propensity to “live in the now” and not look far enough ahead or even at other nations before jumping into something with both feet.

I watched a television program recently where political officials, a union leader, and a worker who had been laid off talked about their plight. The city was Evansville, Indiana. Shortly after NAFTA was signed, the town’s largest employer, Whirlpool, closed their plant and moved to Mexico in June 2010. Oh, wait a minute, did I say “shortly” after the bill was signed. Let’s see… the bill was signed in December 1993 and it took effect January 1, 1994. The Evansville plant was already known not to be cost effective, so what could one expect. Those 16 years between 1994 and 2010 should have been a time when Evansville should have been trying to bring more business in and start looking to every manufacturer in town as a potential liability rather than as a current asset. No one was looking ahead. Everyone was too damned complacent. Company loyalty is a great thing; the only problem is that it’s a one-way street. Yes, there was a time when the company rewarded loyalty. I believe it was one day in the 70s that the concept was destroyed. “Loyalty is fine but the buck is finer;” that should have been the phrase, but the average gullible American refused to see it. Company executives saw it; governing boards saw it; stockholders saw it, but it went right over the head of the average worker.

Today, the pendulum has swung too far the other way and as a result, everyone loses. Business as well as Washington seems to center everything and every action on three words: Deniability, accountability, and responsibility. Politicians, business leaders, and even the average citizen believe that they can deny everything; that they are not accountable for anything; and that nothing is their responsibility. I call it the Lindsay Lohan Syndrome.

We are a nation in turmoil. When I hear someone from the conservative side of the aisle in Washington say, “We can’t let him win one,” implying that they will not allow the incumbent President to achieve the smallest of victories, that’s not American; that is the highest caliber of ignorance possibility. I find it impossible to believe the rest of the conservatives feel that way, for what it says in effect is that, “We will bring America to her knees and let her citizens suffer in every way possible because we hate one man!” One Southern Congressman was overheard to say, “I wish we could just lynch the son-of-a-bitch!”  Sounds like a line out of the thirties and early forties.

Then we have our high and mighty business leaders who have absolutely no interest in anything but profits, particularly for themselves and let the rest of the country be damned. They don’t seem to understand that if it can happen in Egypt, Syria, and Libya to the heads of state, it can probably happen to the heads of companies. We are a democracy so it won’t necessarily happen to the people in Washington, but the moguls with their big boy toys…ya just might wanna beef up your security.

The one that kills me today is the NBA lockout. The players make millions and bitch. The owners make millions and they bitch. The little guy outside TD Bank north Garden or Madison Square Garden or wherever other pro teams play is getting screwed again. Think about the little souvenir shops, the bars, the coffee shops and restaurants that are dependent on fans for their livelihood. These are the people who are getting the short and dirty end of the stick. They’re the ones who will suffer because the millionaire players and the millionaire owners are too busy splitting hairs over who’s going to get an extra million or two.

So you see, it’s becoming so commonplace in America to screw the little guy that the little guy is afraid to pick up the penny on the street for fear one of the big guys will find a way to screw him out of it just as he goes to put it in his pocket. This country is so ripe for a catastrophe that it’s a wonder one hasn’t already occurred.  

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“What happened the day you were born?” It’s one of those ‘suggested topics’ that WordPress throws  your way whenever you put a new post on ye olde blog.  I could, of course, make it short and sweet by saying, “What? You don’t believe that my birth was significant enough?” However, in the interest of good sportsmanship, I suppose you need to be informed. After all, there were a few other births in that year, Hank Aaron and Gloria Steinem to name a couple…baseball and feminism; now there’s one helluva combination. In September, the month of my birth, I was joined by a pair of “ooh-la-la’s” in the persons of Sophia Loren and Brigitte Bardot. Only problem is that one was born in Italy and the other in France; ah, so near and yet so far.

The year, 1934, the one of which I’m speaking – yes, I’m 77; build a bridge and get over it – saw, as I guess all years do, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Among the good, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to curb abuses in the Stock Exchange. Joe Kennedy Senior was named the first Commissioner – looking back at it, this was somewhat akin to turning the fox loose in the chicken house. The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series and Lord Stanley’s cup went to the Chicago Black Hawks. Claudette Colbert, the movie star on whom I had a tremendous crush as a child appeared in the original “Cleopatra and also starred in Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night.” Both films have been redone so often, people often lose sight of who the original and best actresses were.

On the bad side of the ledger, Adolph Hitler became President of Germany and predicted that the Reich would last for 1000 years. Mussolini orders that all school teachers wear uniforms. Why not? If the nuns who teach can do it, why not all teachers? In the ugly category, John Dillinger breaks out of prison and is gunned down four months later outside of a Chicago theatre; Bonnie and Clyde are killed in a police ambush, and Pretty Boy Floyd is fatally shot while trying to escape from Federal agents.

I thought it might be fun to jump ahead 50 years, just to do some comparisons of what things were like in 1984…thank you, George Orwell. In 1934, a gallon of gas was ten cents; fifty years later it had jumped by a dollar. Whereas a new car cost $625 in the year I was born, by the time I turned 50 that had jumped to nearly $9,000.  The price of a house had jumped significantly from almost $6,000 in ’34 to $87,000 half a century later. Ronald Reagan was the President and like Obama, Congress was giving him a ration of grief, this time for mining the harbors of Nicaragua. What ever happened to the days when the President could just tell Congress to go to hell; get the job done, and wipe his hands together and say, “Next?”

Was there other news 50 years after I was born? Oh sure, but do I remember all of it? What are you, nuts?  I do remember when Prime Minister of India, Indira Ghandi was assassinated. That was a sad day for the world. The Celtics defeated the Lakers for the NBA Championship. The space shuttle, Discovery, made its first flight into space and DNA profiling began to be accepted in the courts.

These are but a few of the things that happened when I was born and again, fifty years later. It was fun to do a little research but best of all…WOW, Sophia and Brigitte!

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There are days, and then, there are days! Today, unfortunately, was one of the former. When you’re still healing a cracked rib, it’s not wise to lift a case of anything, particularly a case of paper…in Italy, this is known as “stupido!” The Scandinavians are just so logical; Norway, Sweden and Denmark call it “Dum.”  Whether you wish to call me any or all of these or “pabu” or “glup’ (Korean and Croatian), it was an idiotic thing to do and I am paying for it dearly today.

My personal idiocy, however, is not the point of this diatribe. The morning was spent watching the tube. That, in and of itself, should tell you how rotten I was feeling. I discovered, once again, just how bad morning programming is, but how unbelievably gullible advertisers believe the public to be. I leaned, for example, that by walking just an hour a day on the new Bowflex machine – the one that combines a stairmaster, treadmill and elliptical machine into one – I can trim my waist,  tone my body, lose pounds that will just melt away and bring me back to the way I was in my prime. I should probably hate myself for admitting this, but I never really had a prime.

In high school, I was six feet, three inches tall and weighed probably 140 pounds soaking wet. There were advantages and disadvantages to being pencil thin, bony, and capable of hiding behind telephone poles to avoid people. The advantage was that in playing basketball, I was taller than most people in our conference. When I went up for a rebound, for instance, most people tended to shy away from my elbows which some regarded as lethal weapons if they made contact with ribs! The major disadvantage was that I was really unable to play “down in the post.” A stiff wind would pretty much put me in the bleachers, so if the other team had a short football player, I was bounced around like a pinball. The solution was simple: I would take my shots from outside the perimeter where I could see over everyone and only go to the basket when I knew my elbows would be useful. Therefore, despite my height, my weight tended to ‘de-prime’ me.

Marriage, an office job, and three kids mean that you never really have a prime. Several years, 120 additional pounds, and two inches shorter than I was in high school means that prime that never was has finally past.  The old phrase, “Don’t take life too seriously; you’ll never get out of it alive,” probably is well applied to what happened to yours truly.

Back to the television: If you are not sick, by the time you finish watching the ads for various health products, you’ll figure you have every disease in the world. Then they begin talking about the side effects of these drugs…”may cause itching, fainting, kidney failure, low blood pressure, sores inside your pores, fuzzy vision, headaches, and death.” They tell you that last one like it’s no big deal. You may die, but what the hell, it’s just taking the faster route. Each of these ads is generally followed by some lawyer who says that if you’ve taken any of these drugs and suffered any of these symptoms, call them because they have a class action suit to which you may be eligible.

The ads that are better than most are for some of these matchmaking services. The guy who is currently doing e-harmony looks like a sexual predator and talks like Count Cholula. The other one I love is, “If you’d like a Christian relationship….” Hey, Jack, I don’t care if the person is Christian, Jewish, or an Orthodox Greek; if we happen to hit it off, that’s great, but don’t be so prejudiced, that it has to be a Christian. Next, it will be, “Are you looking for a relationship with a well-endowed male,” or “Searching for a big breasted woman…” I mean, I’ve heard  of specialization, but let’s not push the relationships bit to the point of absurdity.

There are voices on TV that drive me up a friggin wall. Have you seen the one for Britta? There’s a poor Inuit, hunkered down on an ice flow, slurping cold water with his hands when this middle-aged creature yells “whoo-hoo; try this. It’s water from the mall.” She doesn’t say where in the mall she filled this bottle, but it’s filtered by Britta. The bloody Eskimo drinks it and smiles. The whole ad is ludicrous. I often wonder who the hell approves these ads and just how drunk were they when they gave the OK?

After a couple of hours of watching shows that are only 40-42 minutes in actual length, I finally found my own cure for the 18-20 minutes of advertising and station breaks. My Kindle was my salvation. Books don’t have ads; books can be dog-eared or bookmarked; the Kindle will open to the last page of the book you were reading, and the Kindle weighs far less than a case of copy paper!

In summary then, (1) don’t lift anything heavier than an 8-ounce glass while recovering from a rib injury; no more 16-ounce curls for a while: (2) Don’t watch television; you may die of an advertisement: (3) read a light book…no, not a comic book; light in terms of weight…for God’s sake, don’t pick up War and Peace or anything by Tom Clancy: or (4) Stay in bed for a while and sleep your way to recovery!

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There was some big news this morning. The population of the world has reached seven billion. It doesn’t even come close to America’s debt, but that’s really beside the point since we’re talking about The World and not just one tiny little country. I figured I’d sit down and write some kind of a humor piece about how we all need to stop, well, you know what I’d be saying…we need to stop making whoopee! Then I began to do a bit of research, and I learned that procreation is a problem all right, but not a problem of too much exchange of bodily fluids, but in the case of, in many countries, too little.

It would appear that the infrastructure of the world is somewhat out of balance. In Japan, for example, it seems that more and more college-educated women are choosing to remain living with their parents, becoming more self-centered, indulging in the beautiful things in life, and putting off marriage until into their thirties. If they elect to have children, one appears to be the maximum. The same is true of Japanese men who remain with their parents and because of the culture, work long hours and have little opportunity to meet, woo, and marry.  Japan’s annual birth rate has been falling at an alarming rate. The problem is that the average Japanese life span is 86+ years for women and 79+ for men. What does all of this mean? There will be fewer people to support the elderly, a smaller work force, and a gap between those who are paying into state pension plans and those who are taking those funds out. It’s reached the point where several Japanese companies are encouraging their married employees to take more time off and spend that with their spouse. There are also cash incentives from the government for married couples to have more children.

This gap between the working age population and the aging population is a problem in many countries, the United States included. According to Deutsche Welle, an international media organization in Germany, “Steffen Kröhnert of the Berlin Institute for World Population and Global Development says that With arguments abounding that the density of the world population is already too much for our natural resources to sustain, there is the question of whether it is justifiable to continue pushing for greater human growth rates at all. Kröhnert says the aim is not to spawn a continually bigger population, but to find ways of dealing with the steady decline and the reality that each generation is a third smaller than the one it succeeds.”

The problem of declining birth rates is international in scope. Sure, I joke about a seven billion population and that seems like a huge amount, it’s the manner in which the youth or work-age population is decreasing as the elderly or “grey population” increases in numbers. The economic results can be disastrous for individual countries as well as for the entire world economic system. China’s one-child policy, which is about twenty years old is now being questioned by today’s Chinese government. In rural areas, in particular, families are being encouraged to have more than one child. In Russia, where nearly six out of ten pregnancies end in abortion, President Putin in 2006 indicated that the nation must do something to support motherhood.

What does all of this mean? I’m no economist, but it would seem to me that employees are going to be encouraged to stay longer and that governments around the world are going to have to reconfigure how that care for the grey group. In addition to all of this, what is going to happen to the natural resources that are being used up by an increasing population, even if that increase is minimal? I recently watched a BBC program that dealt with a farmer in Jordan. The soil looked so inhospitable for farming, I found myself wondering what kind of crops could possibly grow in such an arid and barren land.

It seems that the longer I live, the more frightening the world becomes. It would serve every country well to realize that we are all intertwined – what is done by one affects you all. A market free fall in the U.S. can send stocks plummeting throughout the planet; the same is true in every nation. In the military, the saying goes, “Get you shit together, soldier; you’re not an individual; you’re part of a team.” That has now become true of nations. Without international cooperation, none of our nations will survive. Eventually, some idiot will probably push a button and blow everyone to hell in a hand basket! Not a particularly pleasant prospect but there always seems to be someone who doesn’t get the memo.

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America has become a dirty country since the year I was born. I mean that in both a literal and figurative sense. In the literal sense, much of it has to do with increased population trying to occupy the same amount of acreage. Yes, it was after the Louisiana Purchase and quite some time after Lewis and Clarke made their way to the Pacific.

To put things into perspective…two months before I was born in 1934, the US population was a bit over one and a quarter million people. Twenty years later, when I took a cross country trip, the population was just over one and a half million citizens. Today, we’re over 310 million strong. No matter how hard I try, I cannot justify why the filth of our country has multiplied exponentially to the increase in population.

“Oh, but our little town is really clean. We all work hard at it.” Yes, your little town in Missouri, Mississippi, Massachusetts, Montana, Minnesota, Wyoming, or wherever may be sparkling, particularly on the outside, with clean streets and immaculate parks, etc., but I’m willing to bet there’s a lot of filth lurking just below the surface. Like every single one of you, I see the signs of grime along the highways and byways. My own State, Massachusetts is covered with litter. Certainly, we have prisoners on work details, cleaning up the litter, but they aren’t responsible for the strip malls that seem to have jumped up everywhere. Many of them are empty when just a short time ago they were fully occupied. What they leave behind is a blight on our landscape. That’s the kind of filth that I’m talking about. I see office buildings and even complexes that are nearly or even completely empty, with cracked asphalt, weeds sprouting up through the parking lots, and all of it just increasing the ugliness of a country that used to care.

What I really don’t understand is why we continue to construct more office parks, more townhouses, and more developments that more and more people cannot afford. What’s going to happen? Is there a money tree somewhere that will suddenly be unveiled? Or, perhaps, these places will all become our future Route 66. I drove Route 66 when it was in its heyday; before the construction of super highways that made the road and everything on it obsolete. From what I can gather, there has been something of a rebirth of the famous road, but much of it is in the way of historic preservation and shops built on the legend of that famous road. You can still see empty motels and closed gas stations, all grown over and being choked by local fauna.

A while ago, I spoke with a man from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I spoke of how beautiful I remember it from my cross country trip over half a century ago. “Don’t come back,” he told me. He said that like nearly every other city and town in the United States, it had its problems. Drugs, gangs, crime of all kinds were now an integral part of Coeur d’Alene. How sad that is. A colleague at Babson, whose sister lives in Albuquerque said basically the same thing about that community that I remember well. I didn’t believe it until I went on line and read about some of the problems in what is now a city in New Mexico.

When I speak about the dirt of America in a figurative sense, I’m speaking more about our sense of responsibility and accountability. “If not me, who; if not now, when?” It’s an ancient Hebrew call to action that screams out for the individual to take responsibility for his or her actions. We had that spirit in the United States when I was growing up; we had it when I went to college; we even had it for much of my working life. We don’t have it anymore. Today it’s more, “Not me; that’s for somebody else; now is too soon; maybe manana.”  It’s not my problem appears to be the motto of today’s America. If the country is going broke, let Washington fix it. If one percent of the population owns more than 67 percent of the wealth in this country, gimme some is what the other 99 percent are saying. Don’t make me work for it; just gimme.

Ours seems to have become a nation of “gimme’s” and that’s a huge figurative mean of the word, “filth,” when I speak of today’s America. Me, I worked my ass off from the day that I turned 16. Going to college was no easy matter, but I made it. Whoopee, three freaking cheers for me, right? Wrong, there are a lot of people who did exactly the same thing. My first job after college was in the Evening School of Business at Northeastern University in Boston. We would ‘volunteer’ (read as “do it or else”) to work a counter as evening students came in with questions about this, that, or the other thing. I remember one student in particular. I’ve long since forgotten his name, but I’ll never forget his schedule. He worked at General Electric in Lynn. He was married with four children, attending school three nights per week, majoring in Accounting, and keeping a straight ‘A’ average. In addition, he was one of the most pleasant people you would ever want to meet. I wish I knew more people like him today. Near the end of my working career, the college seniors I met usually were so damned self-centered, they couldn’t care less about their fellow man.

Perhaps I’m just becoming an old curmudgeon with a faulty memory; I don’t know. Sure, the three boys across the street are great. All have an entrepreneurial spirit that I’m certain has been encouraged. The young man who lives diagonally across from us quit one college after his freshman year – ‘It wasn’t as tough as high school – and transferred to a university where he was challenged for his four years. Today, he’s a Massachusetts State Trooper. Why? Because an FBI scandal in Boston changed his mind about joining the Bureau. He preferred to work somewhere less corrupt. Pretty harsh decision-making, but that was how he felt. If I’m beginning to sound a bit wishy-washy, nothing could be further from the truth. These four young men are the exception to my “me first” statements.

I think that rather than protest and deface public property, some of these “Occupy” assholes, should go down to Georgia and help harvest peaches or go down to Florida to help harvest the orange crop. Yes, it’s menial work, but at least you’d be doing something productive instead of just sitting on your collective asses, whimpering and whining that you want yours; you want it now; and you don’t want to work to get it.

C’mon America, clean yourself up, both literally and figuratively.

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I vowed never to do it. Me, become a victim to a certain type of technology? No, it wouldn’t; it couldn’t happen…ever…never…not in a thousand years…liar!

It’s true; I have succumbed. No more sniffing ink on pages; no more reading the jacket to determine its worth; no more cracking the spine. No, all of these things are passé, for I have discovered Kindle. I could just have easily discovered Nook or I-Pad or any of a number of choices, but I have become a “Kinaddict!” For months I used the excuse that I would no longer be able to feel the paper as I turned the pages of the latest James Patterson, David Baldacci, John Sanford, or Sandra Brown. No longer would I feel the heft of a Tom Clancy or W.E.B. Griffin novel or a Ron Chernow biography. No longer could I turn back to have something clarified. I’d be totally lost…bullshit!

I am now a victim of “Kindlization.” (Doncha just love how I make up these words?) While this may not be a paid endorsement for Amazon’s electronic reader, it very well could be. I used every argument in the book – so to speak – to avoid becoming one of “those people.” Granted, I have a cell phone that can take pictures or video, and it leaves me messages when someone gives me a call. It does not give me access to the Internet, although I’m told it could. It won’t do what Blackberries, Blueberries, Strawberries, or any other electronic berry can do…and I don’t care. It does what I want it to do. In other words, I’m really not into ‘techie stuff.’

Let’s get back to the Kindle. It’s light…you know that you’re holding something but it isn’t going to blow out of your hand in a strong wind nor will your hands cramp up from holding it. It’s really remarkable in several ways. You can download a book in seconds. You can search through literally millions of titles and/or authors. You can go back and forth as you’re reading. However, the selling point for me is the fact that if I’m reading at the beach or in the sunny backyard, I don’t need sunglasses and the screen does not glare. Will e-readers replace books? No, I don’t believe so. While we might be breeding a generation of kids who will exit the womb with a cell phone to their ear, I rather doubt that books will become a thing of the past; at least I hope not. I suppose one could argue things like saving the trees or whatever is used to make paper these days. Authors might be concerned over royalty figures unless a way can be found to count downloads. No matter what the ads say, e-readers, if you want a decent one, are not cheap. So no, there will always be a place for books in our society. Should this not be true, I will be long dead, cremated, and my ashes scattered, before any critics can say, “Nya, nya, you were wrong!”

I still have books that I have purchased and not read. I probably should read them. After all, what the hell did I buy them for? In addition, I should tell you that I downloaded Baldacci’s One Summer because I had loaned by book copy to my daughter.  She has a way of forgetting that it is not hers to load and then forgets to whom she loaned it…I’ll never see it again, but I have my e-copy, and yes, it is a book that I will read again.

Truth to tell, ‘e’ is the wave of the future. Perhaps I should say that the wave has already broken, and newer and better e-waves are breaking on the unsuspecting public daily. People camp out overnight to own the newest and the best. Look at it this way…in 1998, it was estimated that 42 percent of American households had at least one computer; by 2000, that number had increased to 51 percent. Estimates differ markedly today regarding computers actually in the home. Some put the percentage as high as 81, while others feel that 62 percent is a more accurate census-related figure. Whatever it is, it’s increasing. Children have access to computers in day school. By first grade, they know far more about computers and how to use them than their parents certainly did at their age. Where does it end? I don’t think we know. The Kindle of today can be obsolete tomorrow.  The Chairman of the Math/Science Department at Babson said to me, in answer to my question, “When should I buy a computer,” “Today or never!” The electronic tsunami has engulfed the world and made it the size of a pea. The earth and all of its people have been forcibly brought together by something that actually began on March 10, 1876, when Alexander Graham Bell uttered those famous words, “Mr. Watson, come here. I need you.” Since that time, man has been trying to improve on that simple device, and it has brought us to this moment.

Think of what you have seen in your lifetime. I’ve been around for 77 years. I’ve seen certain diseases eradicated. I’ve seen a man or two or three walk on the surface of the moon. I’ve watched someone I knew as a child walk in space, and I cannot even begin to tell you the other miraculous things I’ve seen because there have just been so many. Can you just imagine what the 22nd, 23rd, or 24th Century will hold? It gives me goose bumps just to think about it.

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Excuse me but I don’t quite understand why Mexican President, Felipe Calderon, is so pissed that America is dumping illegals back at the border rather than prosecuting them. He cites that it has increased violence in border towns in Mexico. Big deal; I really don’t recall it being all that bad when Fidel Castro emptied his prisons and sent them all to Florida. It wasn’t great because the majority of Castro’s prisoners were political dissidents, but still, it wasn’t as bad as the Mexican President would have us believe it is along the border. Okay, so the Customs Enforcement Office deported over 400,000 in the year ending in September, so what? That’s 400,000 illegal immigrants who do not belong in this country for one reason or another. My bet is that many of them were already in hot water in their own country for one crime or another. “Oh no, those poor people were only seeking work in the United States that Americans won’t do,” the bleeding hearts will say. Well, fine, you want your crops harvested, Americans will harvest them. If they don’t the rest of the country will start screaming bloody murder, including some of those who don’t want to do the work but who want to reap the results. Hmm, sounds to me like the Little Red Hen Syndrome. Instead of occupying Wall Street, get your collective ass’s to the states that need help and stop bitching that you don’t have a job. No, you won’t make a million bucks, but at least you’ll be doing an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage.

The Rio Grande is not our only border with Mexico.  It’s merely the one we hear the most about. According to the Office of Border Health, the US-Mexican border is approximately 2000 miles from the Southern tip of Texas to California. In places, yes, it is the Rio Grande, but the river doesn’t prevent illegals or dope smugglers from trying to cross. In too many other places, it is a fence that can (a) be climbed or (b) can have holes through which drugs can be passed, or (c) have tunnels dug under. There are over 21,000 border patrol agents trying to police a border that runs along four states; Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, the population of which is nearly 65 million. Even if the number of agents was to be expanded to 210,000, it wouldn’t be enough to keep the border safe.

People seem so surprised when they hear of a border guard who has been tempted by one of the Mexican cartels to assist in the smuggling of drugs into the United States. We’re talking about human beings here. Human beings have weaknesses. The kind of money that the cartels can wiggle in front of an underpaid border agent is paralyzing. Nearly all of men and women of the US Customs and Immigration Service recognize that the job they are doing is payment enough. Sound altruistic in a nation where altruism is a myth? No and no. There are still patriots and these people are among the best. Don’t kid yourself; it’s always the bad guys who get the publicity; the good guys just do their jobs.

If President Calderon and President Obama really want to have an impact on smuggling, let’s clear a three-mile zone on either side of the border. That’s right; clear it…no towns, no people, no nothing. It could actually create jobs in both Mexico and the United States. First, the job of demolition; next, jobs of helping temporarily relocate families to new areas of the four border states in the US and the six Mexican border states. Finally, rebuilding homes in both countries; creating towns where people could safely live. Temporary jobs would be created by turning the overall six-mile zone into an untenable crossing area.

Am I going to screw the 154 Native America tribes who number nearly a million and who are living along the four US Border States? I’m sorry, but if that’s what it takes to drastically reduce the number of illegals and the amount of drugs coming into the US, yes, goddamit, that’s exactly what I would be prepared to do. Will I be putting farmers out of their homes, particularly along the Texas and Arizona borders? You’re damned right I will. Many people along Yuma, Pima, Santa Cruz, and Cochise Counties in Arizona already live in fear for their lives on a daily basis. The same is true for those who live in the thirteen Texas border counties, in San Diego or Imperial Counties in California, or in Hidalgo or the other five counties in New Mexico. I would ask that you remember just one thing: Three of the poorest counties in the United States are in the border area, and Twenty-one of the counties on the border have been designated as economically distressed areas

People cannot have it both ways. You cannot live on the border of a foreign country which appears to be doing nothing to stop illegals from entering the United States; piss and moan about them doing so, and; then stand by and complain when some action is offered that may well inconvenience you, but may also save your lives.   

This is a drastic measure. I certainly recognize that. I also recognize that Mexico has done very little to be of assistance to the United States in terms of stopping illegal immigration and the smuggling of drugs into this country. Let me make an accusation here: I believe that the Mexican government is actually encouraging the cartels because it creates work for many of their people. I sit here and accuse Calderon and many of his predecessors as being sympathetic to the drug smugglers because it keeps the drugs away from their citizens who are too damned poor to pay for them anyway and what the hell, it contributes to the economy of Mexico.

In his speech about the nasty Americans, President Calderon also “lashed out about the ‘absurd’ and ‘irrational’ immigrations laws of the United States.” Obviously, he hasn’t taken a look at the immigration laws of Mexico recently. In an article several years ago, I stated them. Among the most ridiculous are that someone immigrating to Mexico cannot own property. They are also allowed entrance according to their ability to contribute toward national progress, ie, we want your money, not you.

We will never win the war on drugs. As long as we have people like Felipe Calderon in leadership positions in Mexico, the only answer is to put more distance between our border with Mexico and insist that Mexico do the same.

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