Righteous Indignation

This blog has never been a home for rationalizing, justifying, defending, or supporting Donald Trump. It’s author is not about to start now. That said, this blog is a home for defending and supporting traditional GOP principles. We are a nation of immigrants. It is our core and our strength. All of us are immigrants.

This week’s hullabaloo was all about President Trump’s alleged (it was, after all, in a private meeting behind closed doors) reference to Haiti and several African countries as, in short, “Shitholes”. 

Lesson #1-There is no longer such a thing in Washington DC as a private meeting.

Lesson #2-Donald Trump really doesn’t care whether participants in a private meeting violate the implicit pact of silence. If he is so inclined, he will simply deny he said that which he is accused of having said. 

Lesson #3-The President’s mind boggling, endless bombshells are used by his detractors  to pursue their agendas with just as much disdain for the truth as that of which they accuse the President!

In short, truth, honesty, and transparency are in short supply in Washington. “This is nothing new”, you may say. Perhaps that is the case, but certainly this administration has brought out the worst on both sides of the aisle.

Lest I lose the plot, let’s take a look at the context of the conversation in which the President is alleged to have made his defamatory remark. A group of Republican and Democrat congressional representatives were gathered to talk about immigration reform. This is when the President is alleged to have made his remark. Within 12 hours, there was global uproar. The vast majority of the tumult was about his blatant, unrepentant racism.

I’m sorry, what did I miss? Where does racism enter the equation? You see, this is classic spin. The President made a callous, very un-Presidential remark. Is anyone, at this point in time, shocked by that? But he did not say anything about race. For the record, and for balance, the President tweeted this remark. “Never said anything derogatory about Haitians other than Haiti is, obviously, a very poor and troubled country. Never said “take them out.” Made up by Dems. I have a wonderful relationship with Haitians. Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust!”

In the years 2010-1014, the biggest percentage increase in immigrants to the United States came from these countries; Saudi Arabia (up 93 percent), Bangladesh (up 37 percent), Iraq (up 36 percent), Egypt (up 25 percent), and Pakistan, India, and Ethiopia (each up 24 percent). (Click here for more details.) Now ask yourself; if, by chance, the subjects of the conversation had been Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, India, and Ethiopia, do you think the President would have had any different comment?

His commentary had nothing to do with race. He simply thinks there are a lot of crappy countries in the world, and, surprise, surprise, a disproportionate amount of our immigrants come from those countries. You, (and I, for that matter) may argue that opening our arms to those from the most depressed countries in the world is what we are all about. The President may disagree. He would tell you that disagreement is the crux of the discussion that took place last week. Alas, that was not the proverbial take-away.

Mr. Trump’s intemperate remark (as reported by his detractors ) opened the door for another round of media and late night President bashing, but the at the heart of these diatribes there lies a farce. There was wasn’t anything blatantly racist in or around his comments. They could have been about the vast majority of countries from which immigrants flee to come to the United States. You see, folks, they want to leave their countries too! Why? Because THEY think their countries are shitholes, and they want to come to the last great land of opportunity and hope left on this planet.

Have you ever seen Brittany Hughes on Reality Check TV? Watch this video. Bingo!

Now, the typical media response was more like this one, when MSNBC interviewed Congressman John Lewis. I don’t have a quarrel with much of what the Congressman says in the interview. But the leap to racism is subjective! Across the board, people have played the race card on Trump based on their own feelings, tastes, and opinions. NBC published this article entitled “Is it Finally Time to call Trump a Racist?” Perhaps more than anything, they label President Trump a racist simply because they detest the man. They hate everything about him. Let me be clear one more time. There is much about President Trump that I do not like! But don’t lose your own personal virtue and integrity by throwing around disingenuous labels.

I’ve had enough of the righteous indignation. It seems to me that the President gives his detractors plenty of valid reasons to form opposing positions without them having to resort to tangential, obfuscatory, pandering attacks.

More to follow-

 

Chuck, Shut up. You Sound Like an Idiot!

He has dug his hole so deep he has no way out.

Yes, I am breaking my rule and writing about tax reform for the third consecutive time. Alas, I can’t help it. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are not stupid. They know their personal tax payments are probably going to increase. I know mine will. The difference between Chuck, Nancy and me is that I know those on the upper end of the economic ladder are not getting tax breaks, and the lower middle and middle class are. Well, actually, Chuck and Nancy know that too. They are just too entrenched in the politics of envy to tell the truth to their constituency. Shame on them. 

Immediately following the passage of the tax reform bill yesterday, several Fortune 500 companies announced  they would be distributing bonuses to their employees. I thought it was a moment reminiscent of the Little Rascals. Click here for a 10 second trip down memory lane. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are already feeling the benefit of this tax reform bill, and it hasn’t even taken effect! Click here to read what USA Today had to say. Concurrent with the myriad positive announcements, Mr. Schumer was outlining how the tax bill would have no meaningful impact on America’s working men and women. Click here for that nonsense. Whoops!

Facts are facts, and they are prickly little things when they don’t fit the populist narrative.

Before my centrist friends accuse me of going all hard-ass on them, let me be clear; the GOP is still a fractured lot, and the President manages to boggle the mind with some regularity. But folks, this bill is good for our country, and as its benefits become more and more clear, all but the willfully blind will recognize and acknowledge the benefits. The willfully blind include the likes of Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winning economist. Check out this article he wrote. An excerpt (if you, as I, feel nauseous reading too much Krugman) now follows. ” The core of the bill is a huge redistribution of income from lower- and middle-income families to corporations and business owners. Corporate tax rates go down sharply, while ordinary families are nickel-and-dimed by a series of tax changes, no one of which is that big a deal in itself, but which add up to significant tax increases on almost two-thirds of middle-class taxpayers.” I left his link to to the progressive Tax Policy Center data intact. Have at it. Krugman has never encountered a Republican policy he doesn’t disdain, and he has been wrong since God was a small child. The discipline of economics has always been too closely linked to political dogma. Paul Krugman is the poster child for that statement.

One can do anything one wants with data. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 will rest on its own result-based laurels.  

If the GOP will now muster up the nerve to take on run-away entitlement spending before the mid-term 2018 elections, they may just be able to overcome the general sentiment that they don’t get much done!

More to Follow-

Off and Running…

So here we are, two days into a Donald Trump administration, and divided as ever. Following are some observations. Hopefully you will find something of interest herein!

The President is thin skinned. This hardly makes him unique. He replaced a man who could not countenance any viewpoint but his own. Mr. Obama not only eschewed Republicans on the Hill, he spent the better part of eight years ignoring members of his own party. Barack Obama came to Washington on a mission to change our country. There are those in mourning because his time ran out. There are also those who were counting the days until he left office. You can put this author in the latter category. History will judge and, of course, history is written by the winners. It will take time before history does its judging.

President Trump’s thin skin seems to lean toward the trite and insignificant. He is a showman, and any criticism aimed at him or his audience will draw an immediate response. The most recent example of this is the mainstream media’s suggestion that the inaugural crowds may not have been all that large. President Trump took umbrage and spent most of his first full day in office attacking the media for its outlandish lies. I fervently hope our new President grows a thicker skin. If he doesn’t, he will be like a 95 year old on coumadin who falls and cuts himself.

The March on Washington. Ummmmm, ok…but just a few questions for all y’all. 

  1. Do you feel horribly treated by the United States of America?
  2. Can you think of another country where you have more rights and a better ability to pursue your dreams?
  3. How much time have you spent trying to help millions of Muslim women who aren’t allowed even a semblance of freedom?
  4. Are you focused on human trafficking and what you can do to help those lost souls?
  5. Has Donald Trump hurt you and prevented you from living your life? I mean, has he already done so much damage that a march protesting him in advance of day one has an iota of rational thought behind it?
  6. Once and for all, stop using every excuse under the sun to talk about your right to do whatever you want with your body. Nobody in 2017 is telling you what you can or can’t do with your body. There are laws written and millions of Americans who believe that you cannot decide what to do with another person’s body that happens to reside within you. So let me be clear. I am not touching the “A” word here. I am simply saying that the majority of people are tired seeing a false argument become the premise for yet another demonstration against anyone, anywhere, anyhow.

OK, now some of you are mad at me, because those are obnoxious questions, and I am touching the third rail of political discourse. I get it, but here’s the deal. You have your right to protest, and you have your right to disagree. And we Republicans support your right to do so. But here is a news flash. We are allowed to disagree with you. What we implore you to do is recognize that people have different opinions and its time for those on the left to engage in civil discourse and not immediately disparage all those who disagree with them. Republicans have been banished from the playing field of expression for the past eight years. We’re back. Deal with it.

As for all you anarchists who broke windows and destroyed property across the country, we Republicans have no time or sympathy for you. You are law breaking muckrakers, and the sooner you spend some time in the crow bar motel, the better. Try this on for size; get a job and become a productive member of society. And when you go for your interview, take the nose ring out; boogers get stuck on it, and it can be off-putting for the person interviewing you.

I remain solidly behind the vast majority of President Trump’s cabinet choices. The irony of democrat criticism is rich! Did any democrat protest the personal wealth of John Kerry when he was approved as Secretary of State? The answer is “no” and the point is that that they shouldn’t have! Since when is personal wealth a crime? Since when is it wrong for people to succeed in our capitalist system? The world has been turned upside down when personal success and the wealth that comes with it are deemed to be unworthy. Shame on the democrats for incessantly playing the demagogue game. Politics of envy are insidiously evil and destructive.

The mainstream media lambasted Mr. Trump for his failure to address all Americans during his inaugural address. Say what? You can read the text of his address here. Following is an excerpt. 

“At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public. But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now. We are one nation – and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.”

I’m sorry, but you you tell me how Mr. Trump was excluding some Americans in his speech? Give me a break. Here’s the deal folks. The left will never give this man a chance. To the left, we are doomed and we will be until another democrat is elected President. So buckle your seats belts, because the ride will be bumpy from day one. The interesting thing is that President Trump and his press secretary aren’t going to take this lying down. They will be on the offensive from day one, and they will take their message straight to the American people if they feel they are being stymied by a biased press. It’s a whole new ballgame.

Back to the cabinet, the choice who seems to be taking the most heat is Betsy DeVos. She supports school choice and myriad forms of voucher programs. Her vocal support for alternatives to failed public schools that have left so many of our inner city children behind has put her right in the public teachers’ union bullseye. Ladies and Gentlemen, Betsy DeVos does not advocate dismantling our public school system. She wants to create choice and alternatives when and where our public school system has failed us. We can’t do any worse than the status quo has managed to do for us, so for crying out loud, let’s see what she and the Trump administration  can do to help the people who most need to be helped!

I could go on, but researches say readers start losing interest after 1250 words, and I am at 1243. 

More to follow!

A Review of Trump’s Cabinet-Put Me Down as Pleasantly Surprised

General James Mad Dog MattisLet’s face it. No one knew exactly what would forthcoming from the Trumpster. I mean he is not exactly Mr. Predictable. But I have to say I am not just ok with the people he has chosen to help him lead our country, I am overwhelming supportive. Let’s take a gander, shall we?

Director of the Office of Management and Budget–Mick Mulvaney–a fiscal conservative. This guy will not condone wasteful spending or increases in our deficit.

Secretary of the Interior–Ryan Zinke–a former Navy Seal and professed lover of our land; he will be a champion of our national treasures.

Secretary of Energy–Rick Perry–former Texas Governor–I am no Perry supporter, but for a government agency we seek to downsize and simultaneously install someone who is not hostile to hydrocarbons, Perry is as good a choice as any.

Secretary of State–Rex Tillerson–ExxonMobil CEO–borderline genius move. Tillerson has met and negotiated with most leaders of rogue nations across the globe. Remember, God did not put oil and gas in very many nice places (Texas aside), and Tillerson earned his way to the top spot at ExxonMobil by demonstrating negotiating brilliance and a calm demeanor. I love this choice.

Secretary of Labor–Andrew Puzder–CEO of CKE Restaurants–a smart guy, and one who has experienced first-hand the negative impact of excessive regulation and the long arm of federal government over-reach. He is a great choice.

EPA Administrator–Scott Pruitt–Oklahome Attorney General–he can’t stand Federal Government intervention in matters that should be up to the states to decide, and he is openly pro hydrocarbon. After 8 years of an administration living on some cloud wherein they thought we could flip a switch and continue to drive planes, trains, automobiles, and industry on power generated by wind and solar, Pruitt will be a refreshing anti-regulatory new face at the EPA.

Administrator of the Small Business Administration–Linda McMahon–former CEO of the WWE–what an inspired choice. She understands what it takes to build a business, and she knows how destructive over-regulation can be.

Secretary of Homeland Security–General John Kelly–former Marine General–nuff said.

Ambassador to China–Iowas Governor Terry Branstad–he has been a China expert for decades and immediately received the plaudits of former President George H W Bush. Branstad is the real deal.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development–Dr.Ben Carson–can anyone actually say they dislike this guy? I mean, he is the personification of the American success story. Good for Trump for giving him a meaningful position where his philosophy around self-sufficiency can make a difference.

Secretary of Defense–General James “Mad Dog” Mattis–This guy is amazing. Smart, literate, a thinker, and most importantly, someone his troops always wanted to follow. This is another inspired choice.

Commerce Secretary–Wilbur Ross–Find a person who has worked with this man who does not respect him. I dare you. He is widely respected and will champion American business interests.

Treasury Secretary–Steve Mnuchin–former Goldman Sachs banker. Apparently that drives the liberals nuts, notwithstanding how many former bankers have run the Treasury Department for democrat presidents. But more importantly, since when does being an outstanding banker preclude one from being considered for running our top Treasury post? I suppose the left would prefer someone with no financial background?

Transportation Secretary–Elaine Chao–a seasoned expert who served George W Bush for 8 years. She will run the Transportation Department ably.

Health and Human Services Secretary–Tom Price–Congressman from Georgia–a great pick as we know it means the President will focus on repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a market based program that actually works for the American people and does not lead inevitably toward a single payer system, run by the government, for the government and of the government.

White House Counsel–Don McGahn– a lawyer who has long championed conservative causes, this is another pick that silences those who feared Trump may be a democrat in Republican clothing.

Education Secretary–Betsy DeVos–a dedicated advocate for school choice, charter schools, and the voucher system. Ms. DeVos is a great pick and the polar opposite of what Hillary would have done on the education front. Those of you who follow this stuff will know that Hillary campaigned against all school choice, and like her buddy Bill de Blasio (NYC’s nutty mayor) she advocated the elimination of charter schools.

US Ambassador to the United Nations–Nikki Haley–South Caroline Governor–amazing that when an accomplished woman such as Nikki Haley is nominated for an important position the democrats find ways to criticize her. If the Republicans were to be so small, they would be accused of being woman hating bigots. Nikki Haley will serve us well in the UN.

CIA Director–Mike Pompeo–Congressman from Kansas–he has been outspoken in the matters ranging from Benghazi to the Iran nuclear deal. He is a no nonsense guy and that is what we need at the CIA.

Attorney General–Jeff Sessions–US Senator from Alabama–has outstanding credentials. The left is concocting rubbish about his allegedly racist past. Hogwash. The progressives will never quit.

National Security Advisor–General Michael Flynn–no nonsense straight talker who isn’t afraid to associate Islam with terror attacks around the world.

Senior Counselor to the President–Steve Bannon–former Breitbart Executive Chairman–a hardass, yes. but to listen to the left, you would think this guy is the devil incarnate. Simply not true. And no, contrary to current progressive speak, he is not anti-zionist.

Chief of Staff–Reince Priebus–former head of the RNC—we’ll see how Reince does. I think he earned the job. 

Bottom line? These are good picks. I am far more confident today than I was the day after the election. I actually think we can get some amazing things done in year one. Time will tell, but put me down as pleasantly surprised!

More to Follow-

Lost in the Ozone Again

Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen“These are the times that try men’s souls.” So said Thomas Paine in his 1776-1783 newsletter by the name of “The American Crisis.” Indeed, little did he know how that phrase would have just as much applicability centuries later. We aren’t engaged in a life or death revolt against the Brits, but we sure as hell are girding our loins for a fight to restore the foundation of the house that was the United States; a structure barely recognizable today. 

The whole country is caught up in a Trumpian moment; so much so that few people bother to marvel at the fact that an avowed socialist is giving Hillary a run for her (large sum of) money. How many of you remember one of the rockabilly bands that put Austin on the map and became a cornerstone of the Austin City Limits music movement?  (Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen)  were lost in the ozone, and folks, so are we.

We have a generation (or two) of Americans (voting age 18-40) who feel disenfranchised. Astonishingly, when they listen to Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, they are not horrified. There are any number of reasons for this generational divide, but I suggest one of them is captured in my earlier blog College Education Run Amok. Think about it. We have seen the onslaught of progressive liberal brainwashing in our schools and colleges for a minimum of the past two decades. So why should we be surprised if Americans in their twenties and thirties think capitalism is a dirty word? The Berlin wall came down in 1990. Most of these kids don’t even know what evil was represented behind that wall. They didn’t grow up in a world where democracy and capitalism were inextricably intertwined, and tied just as inseparably to better lives lived. History is a long line of repetition. Alas, we are coming full circle on a straight line to a point where two generations of Americans find the lure of socialism to be a desired outcome. Lord help us.

If we take this explanation for the seemingly imponderable rise of socialist populism in the US as a credible theory, then we don’t have to go too far to see that by combining it with the reality of a large segment of the American population that feels disenfranchised and left behind, we are led directly to where we find ourselves today: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. We have not only arrived at the doorstep to the Brave New World, my friends, but we have crossed the threshold. 

Between now and March 2, we will witness caucus and primary events in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Caroline, Nevada, and then a swath of southern states in the so-called Super Tuesday event. If the pollsters are correct, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will emerge on March 2nd as the run-away leaders of their respective primary campaigns. Once again, Lord help us. 

I remain skeptical; I think the pollsters are missing the plot. But in the not too distant future, I will either be proven right, or dead wrong!

In 2012 I made the case that we stood at a tipping point where four more years of Obama could push us irretrievably down into a national death spiral. We are in that spiral now; executive orders have routinely circumvented the Constitution. Liberal federal judges now populate the bench from coast to coast; subverting our Constitution, (a document most of them see as an anachronism) and making new law is their agenda. Black Lives Matter protestors call for death to police and the President of the United States refuses to condemn their rhetoric. Instead, he says “…change takes time.” It is important to understand that this President meant to change this country from day one of his time in office. His is a community agitator/activist agenda. All one has to do is look at what he has said and done for over 7 years. I have been crystal clear since this blog began; President Obama may love the United States, but he does not love the United States I love, and he has done everything in his power to destroy it. 

So yes, we were pushed past the tipping point in 2012. We are most assuredly lost in the ozone again. So now the question is whether or not we can muster enough courage to stop the downward flow into the abyss of European mediocrity. America, do you really think Donald Trump is the person with the skills to help us start climbing back up to re-attain our position as “The Shining City upon the Hill?” (if you have never watched President Reagan’s last remarks from the Oval Office, I recommend you do so now.) 

In the next month, many of you will begin to decide. Good luck.

More to Follow

The Pursuit of Happiness and It’s Relevance to the 2016 Election

Ronald ReaganIt is never easy to swim against the tide. If he were alive, you could ask Winston Churchill. He warned England (and the world) of the growing Nazi menace for nearly ten years before he was heeded. Alas it was too late and the world was plunged into a war that took the lives of more than 20,000,000 people.  (Listen to this radio broadcast in 1934.)

One could argue that all Republican Presidential candidates are swimming against the tide. The democrats have become remarkable successful at convincing the electorate that Republicans are the party of the 1%, and their policies are policies of greed, avarice, war on women, and destruction of the middle class. Nothing could be further from the truth, but it matters not that you and I know that. What matters is what main street America thinks. So the question is , what do we do about it?

The first thing we need to do is stop talking about what we are against. America needs to know what we are for! We can’t be seen as the harbingers of doom. It is our role to lift people’s spirits and give them reasons to be optimistic about the future. We do that by outlining how our policies will give them and their children more opportunity. We do that by outlining a path to happiness from the depths of despair; a path millions of Americans desperately need to see in front of them. I do not use the word “happiness” lightly. Neither did Thomas Jefferson. When our founding fathers settled on “…the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence, they did so specifically to make the case that each American should have the right to pursue what he or she considers to be happiness. It could be a pursuit of God, family, love, job satisfaction, self-worth, you name it. The possibilities are endless, and that is exactly what our founders had in mind.

The pursuit of happiness has been drowned by a waterfall of leftist regulation, entitlements, and entrepreneurial stiff-arms. The path to happiness is impeded by the misguided notion that the government can create happiness for its citizens. This deception highlights the fundamental flaw underpinning the foundation of progressive liberal politics. If I had to identify the one tenet of liberal activism that most incenses me, it is the false promise that democrat social engineering produces a desireable outcome for the recipients of its largess. Democrats aren’t stupid. They know that their policies have failed for more than five decades. Their profligate unending social spending has only increased the ranks of our homeless and underprivileged, while simultaneously pushing our national debt and annual deficits to unsustainable levels. Yet they continue to mislead and deceive their political base. I cannot fathom how they have placed manipulation of the people who need them most and pursuit of raw political power ahead of our national interest. I equally don’t know how any rational person can look at what their policies have done to hurt those less fortunate while incurring obscene amounts of debt, and come to any other conclusion!

Conservatives have always cared about and for those less fortunate. There has always been a view that it is government’s job to provide a safety net for those less fortunate. But conservatives build their safety nets with pathways and incentives to upward mobility. Democrats put people in nets and then sew up the exit door; thus trapping the recipients into lives of permanent dependency and nearly impossible means to pursue true happiness.

For at the end of the day, what is happiness but a state of contentedness? At its core, happiness is the satisfaction of knowing that “it’s all good.” And as mentioned above, “it” can be anything!

Republicans need to lift people up by explaining in simple language how our policies are those which can create equal opportunity. Economic history is on our side. We must talk about solutions, not why democrat ideas are so bad. We have to talk about why our ideas are so good! In 1981, Ronald Reagan gave a televised speech to the American people. He didn’t mince words. He told them our country was a mess. He told them in terms everyone could understand. Then he told them how we could fix that mess. And he told them in ways everyone could understand. I encourage you to take 20 minutes to watch this speech here. Ronald Reagan knew just not how to communicate, but to do so in a way that gave people a reason to believe in their future.

No matter who our 2016 nominee is (and I continue to maintain it will not be Trump, Carson, or Fiorina) our candidate must find a way to express how our values are those which are time tested and will provide the best opportunities for those who need a break. Hillary Clinton is a flawed politician and a flawed candidate. She can be beaten. Many would argue the very soul of our nation hangs in the balance. I am one of those many. Let’s hope our candidate is smart enough to campaign about what can be done to lift people up, and not just what is so wrong with everything the democrats have done. let’s face it; we already know how bad it is. Now what are we going to do to fix it?

More to follow-

 

An Ode to Self Sufficiency

On this 71st anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, I forward this letter from a father to his children...

On this 71st anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, I forward this letter from a father to his children…

As we think back to the sacrifices made by our fathers and grandfathers, I forward this note from a father to his children. May it resonate with you and yours. Tell me what you think in the comment section below.

Kids,

Every now and then I am compelled to write to you. Now is such a time.

For your entire lives, I have consistently prepared you for the reality that when you get out of college you will be living on your own. In effect, how well you prepare yourselves and how hard you work (in high school, college and after) will have a direct bearing (by no means a guarantee, but a strong influence) on the lifestyle you are able to create for yourselves.

Savings- every penny of savings you have or ever had has been given to you; whether in the form of allowance, equities, or savings accounts, you haven’t earned any of it. That said, some of you have saved money, and others have spent it. Money is finite. If you are frivolous and treat it as something that cannot be depleted, you will end up with no money. Maybe finance does not interest you. Well, I will say this; you have to choose your career. You don’t have to be a banker to take an interest in your own personal health and wealth. I encourage each of you to learn the fundamentals of investing and understand the importance of saving money and protecting your principal.

Do not embrace debt. It is a killer. You don’t have to worry about that while you are in school, but you will have to think about it when you get a job and establish your own credit line, and get credit cards and start to pay bills. Always live within your means. A home mortgage is reasonable debt, when the time comes that you decide to plunge into your first major investment.

There is no gravy train. There are hundreds of millions of kids on this planet who get nothing/zilch/nada in economic support from their parents. They are the hungry ones who will take your job from you and never look back. Because the only world they know is a world where hard work is the path to success. They do it in school, and they do it after school.

On to jobs:

Does it help to know people who can help you get jobs? Absolutely. Is there anything wrong with pursuing every possible person/angle you know to seek employment? Absolutely not. Will “connections” ensure your success? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

You are or will be entering the most competitive workforce in American history. There are unemployed Masters and PHD’s looking for starting level jobs.

You and only you will be able to determine your futures. If you wake up every morning and throw a pity party for yourself, you will end up trapped in a pity party.

There is not a successful person on this planet who does not wake up every day and figure out what he or she is going to do to conquer that day, and make it a better day.

There was a day in America where kids from successful families could get jobs and keep jobs because of an implicit safety net that had been cast around them. Those days are gone; full stop. They simply do not exist anymore. The last 25 years has turned the traditional world upside down. Ours is now a global economy, and so too is your job competition. Traditional jobs that existed for centuries in the US are shrinking and new industries such as data programming (the ability to write code for software) is where the money is headed. It is a brave new world. To ignore this fact is to do so at your peril.

This is not a note designed to create angst. This is a note to get you to focus on reality. High school matters. College matters. Jobs in the summer during college matter. Securing job opportunities for your future during college matter. If you want to be able to do the things you have grown up doing when you are living on your own, you need to embrace the knowledge that the ability to do so is solely in your hands.

Your first job does not have to be the job you will love. Your first job gets you in the workforce and positions you to pay the bills and begin to spread your wings. If you feel like there is a bigger world out there, it is hugely better to be looking for another job opportunity as someone who is gainfully employed! Get into an industry that pays well enough to make a living. The opportunities will then open up.

Does hard work guarantee success? Absolutely not. There are millions of people who have worked 12-14 hour days for decades and have not one penny of savings to show for it. But just as hard work does not guarantee success, the lack of hard work will absolutely guarantee failure. At the end of the day, maybe (and only maybe) the hands you shake will allow for an opportunity. But only the grades you make (sports, school, work–it is all the same) will position you to succeed in that opportunity.

Over the years, my advice has rarely been heeded and often ignored by each of you. It is easy to say I am old, stubborn, and don’t know what I am talking about. Maybe that is true. But please know this. On this vision and in this note, I am dead right. And if you do not pay attention to me, you will regret it.

You are who you are because of the choices you make. Much like Admiral McRaven in the 2014 UT graduation speech, I implore you to wake up every day and conquer that day.

In the real world, there is no mom or dad there to hold your hand and cover your indiscretions and mistakes. Only you have the power to position yourself to succeed, and NO ONE OWES YOU ANYTHING.

So, whether it is athletics, academics, a job search, or an actual job, your attitude cannot be anything other than one where you commit to making every day better than the day before. On every test you face (and a test can be an athletic practice or game, or a quiz in school, or a paper in college, or an assignment at work, you name it) you better finish the job and be able to look yourself in the mirror and say, “I did the best I could. I gave it my all.” If you think you can excel by doing the minimum required of you (again, whether it is sports, school, or work) you are sorely mistaken. The ones who get ahead are the ones who show total commitment and an unquenchable thirst for being the best.

There is an old expression. If you meet an idiot every day, that is unfortunate. If you meet two idiots every day, that is peculiar and should cause pause for thought. If you meet three idiots every day, YOU are the idiot. Think about it.

When you find yourselves in challenging situations, (whether it is a teacher, athletic coach, professor, interviewer, or boss) if you think they are the idiots, I hate to break it to you, but you are. What you need to understand is that everything you do in life is a test. And every time you blame someone else because things aren’t the way you want them to be, you are failing the test. You have to commit yourselves to taking adverse situations and being smart and diligent enough to work your way out of them. The cop-out and dead-end approach is to quit and blame others.

Let me be clear; sometimes you will have coaches, teachers, and bosses you don’t like. And sometimes you may be wholly justified in your reasons. But guess what? You cannot resign yourself to being less than you can be by copping out and blaming others for where you find yourself. Only you can improve the situation. Be smart. Using the shortcomings of others as a rationale to try less hard or throw a one-person pity party is a road to self-defeat.

God. Ours is (or should be) a family that respects God and understands:

i) he exists,

ii) it is virtually impossible to explain his existence in rational or scientific ways,

iii) it is ok that there is a disconnect between scientific theory and recorded history (by the way, there is no similar recorded scientific history) in the Bible. The two (contrary to the way members of the progressive elite would have it) are not mutually exclusive.

iv) Each of you is free to express/follow your religious conviction as you see fit.

v) It is not, however, appropriate behavior to judge members of your family because you either a) think he or she is irreverent and disrespectful of/to God, or b) think he or she is too respectful/dependent on God.

Neither of the views (in [v] above) should be countenanced. You will eventually find a role for God in your lives. …and the role will be different for each of you. In the meantime, respect each other and each other’s lives. You may not like some of the choices your siblings make, but it is not your job to render judgment.

I truly hope you have gotten this far and read all this and equally, I truly hope it sinks in. It will make you better people, and as I said above, while there are no guarantees in life, if you commit yourselves to being the best you can be, you will be much more likely to lead fulfilling, contented lives.

Remember that I write this because I love you.

Dad

Philanthropy Is An American Tradition

Benjamin Franklin | A Founding Philanthropist

Benjamin Franklin | A Founding Philanthropist

Philanthropy in the United States is as American as apple pie. As a people, we give more of our money to charitable causes than any other citizens in the world.

I was prompted to write about this topic by a note I saw on Facebook. I am Chairman of I Am Waters, a wholly non-political 501© 3 Foundation committed to providing physical and spiritual hydration to America’s homeless population. We recently held a successful fundraiser in Houston, Texas. In discussing the success of the event, I made the comment that we have a growing homeless population in the United States, and I Am Waters is committed to working with and helping this “underclass” of our society. One comment (in reference to our growing homeless population) posted after my observations was “Thanks to the Republicans”.

After shaking my head, and deciding to ignore the comment, I started thinking, “how can people be so misinformed?” This comment was offensive on at least two levels. It:

  • politicized a wholly non-political charitable foundation, and
  • explicitly (and groundlessly) blamed Republicans for our homeless population.

Do these people ever stop and wonder why the 10 cities in the United States with the highest level of poverty and unemployment are cities with a legacy of democrat mayors and entitlement spending that have done nothing but encourage indigence and cultures of unfulfilled expectations? George W. Bush called it the “soft bigotry of low expectations”, and he was spot on.

I write about the historical connectivity between private sector success and philanthropy because it is clear many people today have not the slightest inkling of how the United States of America became such an incredibly exceptional nation. The lack of understanding and appreciation for the work ethic and philanthropic mentality that helped us grow yesterday is part of the reason we are so challenged by such destructive social and economic redistributionist policies today.

The art of giving is not a new phenomenon. Benjamin Franklin epitomized the charitable nature of our founding fathers. Alexis de Tocqueville, when writing his book on the uniqueness of the American experiment, noted that ours was a nation that believed in creating opportunity for the private citizen to succeed; partially so that citizen (not the government) could initiate “private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of life”.

Indeed, until the last few decades, it was implicitly understood that if one were to achieve success in life, it was incumbent upon that person to find a way to give some of that success back to the greater good. This was an intrinsic American way of life, born of our pioneering colonial “can-do” attitude, and infused with and by a strong Judeo-Christian ethic. While many choose to remember George H.W. Bush’s “no new taxes” pledge in the 1988 Republican Convention in New Orleans, many also remember his call to all Americans to give of themselves to others, and for each to become one of a “1000 points of light”.

Somewhere along the way in the madness of our inexorable post WWII rush to political correctness, we lost the thread of connectivity between success and philanthropy. The progressive left began to disconnect the historical association between living the American dream and voluntarily giving back. Worse, these liberals (those who denounce our history [the way we grew into ourselves] in the 17th-19th centuries, and view virtually all past events in apologetic terms) began to build and perpetuate a new reality; namely, that success is evil, and private sector philanthropy should be largely replaced by something mandated by the federal government.

In essence, while the democrats still talk about philanthropy, (and many democrat citizens still give large amounts of money to worthy causes) the reality is that the democrat party believes in forced philanthropy though taxation, with the end game being one in which our successful producers are diminished by way of their accumulated capital being involuntarily redistributed to those less successful.

History matters! And to that person who thought to politicize the good work of I Am Waters, I implore you to look at the homeless populations and poverty levels of every government in the recorded annals of man that tried to socialize its industry, commerce, and engines of societal production.

Whenever it has been the goal of government to create equality of outcome for its people, there has been failure. Our unprecedented success and growth as a fledgling nation was, in large part, due to:

  • access to property, and
  • a governing philosophy that was driven by a desire to create equality of opportunity. By so doing, our founding fathers and those who followed in their footsteps ensured that a man’s work ethic and a burgeoning private sector economy lifted the spirits and livelihoods of far more people than ever possible in a redistributionist state.

The left refuses to acknowledge that employment and hope cannot be created by the whims of social progressive politicians. Long-term jobs are only sustained by the private sector. And only with jobs and a viable economic outlook will philanthropy thrive.

Ronald Reagan understood the importance of our history. You may see him say it for himself here:

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