Wednesday, December 29, 2010



Thinking is a conscious process. Most people live their lives in the unconscious stream of stimulus and response. We do things from habit; we do things by rote. With little more thought than an ameba moving through its environment, we move through our daily life, controlled by schedules and guided by beliefs, conjectures, emotions, opinions and the influences of others. As humans we like to think we are animals of reason, but in reality we are automatons reacting from societies program. We do as society dictates and we think what our peer group demands.

All men are not created equal (another fallacious adage.) We are each endowed with varying degrees of intelligence – and as we all now know, education does not necessarily equate with intelligence. Intelligence, as I see it, is the ability for critical thinking applied with logical reasoning.

Critical thinking = understanding causality.

Logical reasoning = therefore.  (A=B, B=C, therefore A=C)

In Buddhist practice we are told to WAKE UP! We should also be told to THINK!

How many people attending religious worship have actually applied critical thinking and logical reasoning to the presupposition of their religious doctrine? How many people take a critical and objective look at their political party affiliation? We all use some degree of intelligence when tasked to do so, but mostly we react according to our program and installed beliefs.

Living an intelligent life would entail consciousness with an objective view of the world. The reality of our existence is mostly unconscious with a world view based on a system of dogmas.

Let’s break this down further:

Reason is a product of IQ, available facts, personal experience, critical thinking and logic - applied to reach a reasonable conclusion. Reasoned conclusions are open to change and modification as factual information changes.

Dogma is a product of facts, fancies, opinions, emotions, conjecture and the influence of others. Dogma is more rigid and resistant to change, regardless of facts.



Most of us operate in some middle zone: opened minded on some subjects and closed minded on others. However, the further to the right you appear on the VIEWS scale the more intolerant, prejudice and confrontational you are likely to be.


Subject clarification is the process of critical thinking in order to clarify one’s convictions. Let’s use a loose form of Socratic questioning to clarify our thinking on the confrontational subject of abortion.

Question: What do we know about abortion?

Answer: It is the termination of a human zygote  at some stage of development.

Question: At what stage of development can an zygote be considered a human life?

Answer: During the first eight weeks the zygote is classified as an embryo, after which it is classified as a fetus. Generally, the viability of the fetus becomes a possibility after the first six months.

Question: Does circumstances make a difference?

Grey areas: Rape, incest, age of mother, financial responsibility, emotional instability of mother, retardation of mother, physical or mental deformity of the fetus.

Answer: This is a vlaue judgement.  The conclusions will differ according to the individual’s position on the VIEWS scale.

Question: How do we view other terminations of human life?


Allied war casualties

Enemy war casualties

Death from collateral war damage

Police line of duty shootings

Self defense



Capital punishment

Terminating life support

Suicide when quality of life is gone


Answers: Again, a values judgement.

Question: Should a woman have the sole right to decide whether to carry a fetus to term?

Answer: Arguable. Again, your answer will depend on where you appear on the VIEWS scale?

Question: Should a woman be forced against her will to carry a fetus to term.

Answer: Arguable.

Question: Should terminal patients be required to become organ donors?

Answer:   It would be good for society but what of personal freedom. 

Question: On what grounds can we oppose abortion?

Answer: Religious, humanitarian…

Question: On what grounds can we support a woman’s choice?

Answer: Humanitarian, protecting personal freedom, extenuating circumstances …


“I imagine a man must have a good deal of vanity who believes, and a good deal of boldness who affirms, that all the doctrines he holds, are true, and all he rejects, are false.” Ben Franklin

Some teachers have caught real grief for presenting values clarification in their classroom. The lunatic religious and political fringe always objects to any scrutiny that might bring their dogma into question.

Once we have completed our subject clarification we should ask ourselves:

I believe __________ therefore I should __________.

I believe __________ therefore you should __________.

You believe __________ therefore you should __________.

You believe __________ therefore I should __________.

Is there any one right answer? I don’t think so. I don’t believe there is any absolute answer to any question in this world. We are in constant flux and everything changes by the minute…There are no absolute black and whites, only varying shades of grey. So where does that leave us? Does any of this really matter? Hell, I don’t know. Let’s move on to the final question.



I’ll share a ZEN story called THE RITUAL CAT.

In a remote Buddhist monastery the teacher and his disciples would begin their evening meditation each day at sunset. The young cat that lived in the monastery made such noise and commotion during meditation that the teacher ordered that the cat be tied up during evening practice. Years later, after the teacher died, the cat continued to be tied up during the evening meditation. When the cat died, another kitten was brought to the monastery and it too was tied up during evening meditation. A century later philosophy majors would write scholarly treatises on the religious significance of tying up a cat during evening meditation.

My next blog will deal with the state of education in the United States - from the prospective of an professional educator - me.   

Thursday, December 23, 2010



To establish my bones on this subject; I spent 22 years in the military including deployment to Viet Nam.

The men and women I served with were fantastic. The professionalism of the units I served in was beyond question; BUT, the U.S. military complex as a whole operates like a big sow, eating up a huge portion of our federal budget – growing larger and fatter than necessary. This results in the inability of our government to fund important social programs; and, it tempts our politicians to use our military injudiciously.

The military is made up of mostly young men and women from the lower socio-economic classes that go into the military for a pay check, for job training or, in some cased, to act out an adventure scenario they experienced in a Play Station video or saw on television. The reality of war and death is not a concept they truly understand.

Once in the military they are indoctrinated on valor, flag, country and corps. They are animated to become the cannon fodder that can be deployed by politicians and manipulated as expendable chess pieces by senior officers on career tracks (who, in almost all cases, are not themselves in harms way.)

I find it sad to see veterans lined up with their flags, their hats, their campaign ribbons and their military insignias in support of wars. For a great many, a military deployment in a combat zone is the high point of their life. It is their only bragging right. They have never been able to separate their membership in the “band of brothers” with the ignoble mission and carnage of war itself. They came home, married girlfriends, sired children, worked in a mill ,or some other dead end job, and on occasion line up at the bar in the VFW and drink beer and get misty eyed about their experiences. Hey, I’m not knocking them, they are my brothers.

But, my Viet Nam vet brothers seem not to realize: WE LOST THE VIET NAM WAR!   58 thousand men died – and we lost.   300 thousand wounded – and we lost.   Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese died – and we lost.   Billions of dollars spent – and we lost.

We had no legitimate reason to be in Viet Nam – all bullshit aside, we were trying to establish a permanent military presence on the southern border of China – but we lost.

I get tense when I hear the about a young man or woman who has died in our present wars. They gave their all for our country. Bullshit! They are dead – and for no good reason. They will never have a family; they will never experience beauty; they will never have joy; they are dead. But, the politicians who declared the war are doing just fine. In an off moment, between reelection campaigns and feathering their nest, they may feel the obligation to utter some catch phrase of lip service for the dead, but it is as quickly forgotten, and their life and priorities go on.

Enough beating the antiwar drum – WAR SUX and the military should never be deployed except in a response to an imminent threat to our country. And, at such times a draft should be instituted so that all share equally in the burden and pain.

SNAFUA word coined by military men and women.

Situation Normal All Fucked UP.

We have the image of the military as a lean mean fighting machine. In reality, the movies Catch-22 and Mash were not far afield. The military as an entity often appears to the men or women in uniform as a comedy of errors. During war time I would express it as a tragedy of errors

The idea of the military as a smooth operating, efficiently functioning autocracy is a misconception. In some cases military units are run by officers that are not screwed down tight. I served under one Commander who was obsessed with parking regulations and would threaten court-martial if the tire of your car extended a few inches beyond the gravel parking lot onto the grass. Another Commander in Vietnam refused to issue pistols to flight crews flying covert missions over the North, because his Pentecostal preacher had named him a missionary to the Vietnamese people before he deployed. A junior officer I knew pulled a pistol on his flight crew because they were not cleaning the wheel wells of his aircraft in a timely manner. Another Commander risked the lives of 23 crew members by refusing to abort from Iceland to Scotland during a blizzard and subsequently crashing his aircraft in the rough between runways. I could fill pages of mission SNAFU’s and erratic leadership from my experience of twenty-two years in the military. Yet, the junior officers and enlisted men and women on the ground always seem to be able to pull it together, protect each others ass and complete the mission.

The military is an integral part of the American experience. As mentioned earlier, our history is denoted by wars and the time periods in-between. There have been times when military service was a requirement; and, at all times (Viet Nam a possible exception) military service has been honored.

Big Brother, in George Orwell’s 1984, has a lot in common with our Republican Party. In Big Brother’s Party the word doublethink denoted the ability to accept two opposing concepts at the same time. The Republicans practice doublethink. They believe in decreasing the size of government, decreasing revenue and decreasing government spending; and, at the same time, increasing the size of the military and increasing military spending.


One of the biggest goals of our government should be to balance the National Budget and pay down the National Debt. If we are ever to achieve this goal we must bring our military spending under control.

President Obama’s budget proposal for 2011 is for $3.83 trillion (with a deficit forecast of $1.56 trillion, increasing our national debt from $13.8 trillion to over $15 trillion.) Approximately one third of the budget is slated for defense.

Our government spends over one half of the world military expenditure. Our military budget is greater than the next 168 largest national military budgets combined. It is more than six times the military expenditure of China.

At present we have military troops stationed all over the world. It has been estimated that there are over 700 military detachments on foreign soil. The following is a list of major U.S. bases located overseas. Very few of these are actually necessary for our defense.


Armstrong Army Heliport, Buedingen, Hessen, Germany

Brasschaat Army Airfield, Brasschaat, Belgium

Bucholz Army Airfield, Kwajalein Atoll, Kiribati, Marshall Islands

Camp Able-Sentry, Macedonia, Skopje

Camp Bondsteel (Army), Kosovo, Urosevac, Serbia

Camp Comanche, Bosnia-Herzegowina

Camp Doha, Kuwait City, Kuwait

Camp Eagle (Army), Wonju, Korea

Camp Gary Owen (Army), Munsan, Korea

Camp Henry (Army), Taegu, Korea

Camp Monteith, Kosovo, Gnjilane, Serbia

Camp Page (Army), Chunchon, Korea

Camp Udairi, Kuwait City, Kuwait

Camp Walker (Army), Taegu, Korea

Cochran Army Airfield, Camp Stanley (Uijongbu), Korea

Coleman Army Airfield, Mannheim, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

Combat Maneuver Training Center (CMTC) - Hohenfels AAF, Regensburg, Bayern, Germany

Conn Barracks (AHP Schweinfurt), Schweinfurt, Bayern, Germany

Fort Kobbe (Army), Colon, Panama

Hanau Army Airfield, Hanau, Hessen, Germany

Heidelberg Army Airfield, Heidelberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

Hohenfels Army Airfield, Hohenfels (Regensburg), Bayern, Germany

Kastner Army Airfield, Camp Zama, Japan

Katterbach Barracks Army Airfield, Ansbach, Bayern, Germany

Mayaguana Army Airfield, Mayaguana, Bahamas

Patton Barracks (AAF Heidelberg), Heidelberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

Schweinfurt Army Heliport, Schweinfurt, Bayern, Germany

Storck Barracks Army Airfield, Illesheim, Bayern, Germany

Stuttgart Army Airfield, Stuttgart-Echterdingen, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany

Wiesbaden Army Airfield, Wiesbaden-Erbenheim, Hessen, Germany


Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait

Akrotiri Royal Air Force Base, Akrotiri, Cyprus

Al Dhafra Air Base, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Al Udeid Air Base, Al Udeid, Qatar

Alconbury Royal Air Force Base, Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire), UK

Ali Air Base, Nasiriyah, Iraq

Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait

Andersen Air Base, Yigo, Guam

Aviano Air Base, Aviano, Pordenone, Italy

Bagram Air Base, Parvan, Charikar, Afghanistan

Balad Air Base, Balad, Iraq

Bitburg Air Base, Bitburg, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Camp Adder (Ali Air Base), Nasiriyah, Iraq

Camp Anaconda (Balad Air Base), Balad, Iraq

Cha Shan Air Base, Hualien, Taiwan

Cheong Ju Air Base, Cheong Ju, Korea

Clark Air Base, Balibago (Luzon), Philippines

Croughton Royal Air Force Base, UK

Diego Garcia (Air Force), Diego Garcia, BIOT

Einsiedlerhof Air Station, Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Eloy Alfaro Air Base, Manta, Ecuador

Eskan Village Air Base, Saudi Arabia

Fairford Royal Air Force Base, Fairford (Gloucestershire), UK

Feltwell Royal Air Force Base, Thetford (Norfolk), UK

Ganci Air Base (Manas Intl. Airport), Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Geilenkirchen Air Base (NATO), Geilenkirchen, NRW, Germany

Ghedi Air Base, Vicenza, Italy

Greenham Common Royal Air Force Base, Greenham (Newbury), UK

Hahn Air Base, Hahn, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Howard Air Base, Panama City, Panama

Hualien Air Base (Cha Shan), Hualien, Taiwan

Incirlik Air Base, Adana, Turkey

Istres Air Base, Istres, France

Izmir Air Base, Izmir, Turkey

Kadena Air Base, Kadena, Okinawa, Japan

Kandahar Air Base, Kandahar, Afghanistan

Kapaun Air Station (KNCOA), Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Khanabad Air Base, Khanabad, Uzbekistan

Khost Airbase, Paktia, Khost, Afghanistan

Kimhae Air Base, Pusan, Korea

King Abdul Aziz Air Base, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

King Fahd Air Base, Taif, Saudi Arabia

King Khalid Air Base, Khamis Mushayt, Saudi Arabia

Kunsan Air Base, Kunsan City, Korea

Lajes Field Air Base, Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal

Lakenheath Royal Air Force Base, Lakenheath (Suffolk), UK

Mazar-e-Sharif Airbase, Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan

Mildenhall Royal Air Force Base, Mildenhall (Suffolk), UK

Misawa Air Base, Misawa, Honshu, Japan

Molesworth Royal Air Force Base, Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire), UK

Moron Air Base, Sevilla, Spain

Osan Air Base, Osan, Korea

Paya Lebar Air Base, Sembawang, Singapore

Ramstein Air Base, Ramstein, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Rhein-Main Air Base, Frankfurt/Main, Hessen, Germany

Richmond Royal Australian Air Force Base, Australia

Riyadh Air Base, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

San Vito dei Normanni Air Station, Brindisi, Italy

Sembach Air Base, Kaiserslautern, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Seoul Air Base (K-16), Seoul, Korea

Soesterberg Air Base, Soesterberg, Netherlands

Sola Sea Air Base, Norway

Soto Cano Air Base (Camp Picket), Comayagua, Honduras

Spangdahlem Air Base, Spangdahlem, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Stavanger Air Base, Stavanger, Norway

Suwon Air Base, Seoul, Korea

Taegu Air Base (K-2), Taegu, Korea

Tallil Air Base, Nasiriyah, Iraq

Taszar Air Base, Pecs, Hungary

Thule Air Base, Thule, Greenland, Denmark

Torrejon Air Base, Torrejon, Spain

Upper Heyford Royal Air Force Base,

Upwood Royal Air Force Base, Ramsey (Cambridgeshire), UK

Woomera Air Station, Woomera, Australia

Yokota Air Base, Tokyo, Honshu, Japan

Zweibruecken Air Base, Zweibruecken, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany


Andreos Island Naval Air Station, Bahamas

Munoz Air National Guard Base, San Juan (IAP), Puerto Rico

Borinquen Coast Guard Air Station, Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

Futenma Marine Corps Air Station, Okinawa, Japan

Keflavik Naval Air Station, Reykjanes, Iceland

Guantanamo Bay Naval Air Station, Cuba

Cubi Point Naval Air Station (Subic Bay), Olongapo City, Philippines

Atsugi Naval Air Facility, Sagamino, Honshu, Japan

Guam Naval Base, Guam

La Maddalena Naval Support Activity, Sardinia, La Maddalena, Italy

Lajes Field Naval Air Station, Terceira Island, Azores, Portugal

Naples Naval Support Activity, Naples, Italy

Yokosuka Naval Station, Yokohama, Honshu, Japan

Subic Bay Naval Base, Olongapo City (Luzon), Philippines

Roosevelt Roads Naval Air Station, Caguas, Puerto Rico

Rota Naval Air Station, Rota, Spain

Sigonella Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Sicily, Italy

Souda Bay Naval Support Activity, Chania (Crete), Greece

Why do we need this world deployment of U.S. forces? The expense to maintain these bases is mind boggling.
Imagine the accomplishments we could make if we could channel this money into social programs, health care, education, medical research and scientific research.


As I mentioned; in another life time (Solzhenitsyn) I was a career military man. One thing I can state for certain is that the military spends like a teenager with a credit card. They pay too much and buy things they don’t need. We want our military to be the best armed and best trained in the world; however, we are stuck in a mentality of tradition that is costing our government trillions of dollars.

One huge chunk of our military budget goes to maintaining five separate and distinct military organizations (not including Homeland Security) that overlap in order to do one job – protect the United States.

Each one of our military organizations has distinctive uniforms. When I was an enlisted man in the Navy I had two summer uniforms, two winter uniforms, two dress uniform and three working uniforms which I had to maintain. Granted, the maintenance of these uniforms were at my expense after the initial issue, however the government had to contract with clothing manufacturers to produce the distinct pieces of clothing apparel. Add to this list a pea coat, rain coat, working jacket, fatigue jacket, shoes, boots, hats, flight suites, flight jackets etc, and you can see how the expense adds up – Navy officers had totally different sets of uniforms of their own.

If we multiply uniform expenses times four, for the Army, Navy/ Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Air Force, you can visualize the cost to the defense department just in uniform contracts (Coast Guard and Navy share the same uniforms.)

And then there is equipment: the Navy has a grey flashlight, the Army has a green flashlight, the Air Force has a blue flashlight – each one of these had to be produced to military specifications under contract which included research and development: In other words, expensive, identical, flashlights of different colors. The list is unending; military equipment, including vehicles is duplicated for each specific branch.

Major crossover expenditures come in aircraft. Here there is more duplication. We have the Air Force, Naval/Coast Guard Aviation, Marine Corps Aviation and Army Aviation. Each of the branches issues contract for research and development of aircraft specific to their needs. Each branch has its own training commands that train pilots and support personnel to fly and maintain their specific aircraft. All of these aviation missions could and should be transferred to the Air Force, which could operate them cheaper with multipurpose aircraft.

See Military Budget of the United States.

Combining the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and Home Land Security into one force (U.S. Forces) makes sense. The defense department would have to supply only one set of uniforms, one set of equipment, one set of training commands per mission, one administrative branch and one supply corp. This merger alone would save the government at least a quarter of its defense budget.

Why don’t we do this? Can you imagine the flack the politicians would have to take from veterans groups? No more Army, Marine Corps, Coastguard, Navy, Air Force – just American Forces. How would it work?


It would take a strong, resolute president to assert him or herself as Commander-and-Chief to totally reorganize the military. As Commander-and-Chief I do not believe the President would require Congressional approval for the reorganization. Reorganization would be extremely unpopular with military veterans who live in past glories. The outcries would be horrendous, but the results would increase our security and decrease out expenditures.

Suggestions for a leaner meaner combined force:

• Organize the military into five specialized units: ground command, air command, sea command, homeland command and support command. Each command would have a specific mission with no duplication.

1. Air command assigned all missions of aviation nature.

2. Sea command assigned all missions of sea security.

3. Ground command assigned all missions requiring ground troops.

4. Homeland command assigned all missions effecting homeland security, including response to natural disasters such as fire, flood and earth quake relief.

5. Support command assigned joint administrative, supply and medical support.

6. All commands would have specialized training but work cooperatively under one central command i.e. the air command would be tasked to supply air support for the other three commands, as needed.

• The defense department would adopt one set of uniforms – distinguishing each command by unique rank insignias and different color berets.

• Equipment would be standardized

• Where possible commercially available materials and equipment would be purchased in place of more expensive government contracted designs.

By drastically reorganizing the military we could cut waste and duplication. Our military should be strictly a defensive force. With the technology and weaponry we have, we should be able to decrease the size of our military and increase our secure, while cutting our total military expenditures by at least fifty-percent.


If we are to bring military expenditure under control, we can not continue with a world police mentality. We must restructure our military to a formidable defensive force

We can not and should not police the world. We will not survive as the world power if we hold all countries we disagree with under the threat of an American first strike. The cost is too great in lives and money and world opinion for us to engage in continual warfare.

There are countries where military intervention should take place. Nations in chaos like Darfur should be occupied by United Nation’s troops and the killing of civilians not tolerated. It is not, however, the place of the United States to go it alone. And, it is not the place for the United States to form a coalition and intercede. If we unconditionally backed the United Nations, supported it financially and militarily, and accepted the U.N. resolutions as law we could turn over the job of world police to the world body. Without our world wide police actions they would have to step up.

Here we have dealt with the financial cost of supporting the largest, most expensive military in the world, and the effect on the national budget and by extension the effect on our inability to fund social programs.

The problem in defense spending is to figure out how far you should go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.
President Eisenhower

We have not focused on the morality of war.

War is like fire in the human community, one whose fuel is living people.
Dalai Lama

I will propose a simple solution to war:

The reason our leaders do not flinch sending our young men into battle is because they have no personal vested interest in the mortality of the outcome.

I propose that when countries are destine for conflict, we should take the major political leaders ( ie. President, Speaker Of The House, Leader Of The Senate, and the Minority Leaders From Both Houses) of the United States and pair them with the top six leaders of the opposing country; we should strip them all naked, give each two single edged razor blades, and place them in a small room and cut the lights out. The first ones to surrender are the losers and must accept the terms of the winners.

If this was the recipe for war - there would be no wars.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Pie in the sky
The musing of a mad man
Changing a world that can’t change
A Fairy Tail

I opened an earlier BLOG post with the statement: What do we need to turn the country around and make it what we would like to believe it is? We will continue with the subject of moving toward a more perfect democracy – or what needs to be fixed.


The recent crash in the stock market and banking industry is the final results of years of the flawed Republican Regan economic policies to deregulate markets and backing big business with tax cuts and subsidies. The idea that promoting an environment where the rich can become richer, with a results that it will trickle down to a stable economy for the rest of us, has not worked.

The government must control spending. We must have price controls; we must have clean energy; we have got to quit subsidizing businesses that are not making a profit; and we must close the loopholes that allow business to move manufacturing jobs outside the U.S. in order to profit by avoiding U.S. tax on their products.

Recently the government had to bail out a number of businesses that if allowed to fail would have would have brought about the total destruction of the U.S. economy. We need to learn from this near disaster. The word should go out to all businesses: Never Again.

If the product is good and the business practices are sound the business will survive on its own. A policy of bailing out companies in order to save their work force is encouraging the companies to run inefficiently. Taking a lesson from history, we can see government subsidized businesses in the USSR produced poor products and eventually bankrupted the Soviet state.

American manufacturing companies can not compete against third-world companies, where a workers daily salary equals the hourly salary of an American worker. This type of company is not viable in the United States. We are going to have to allow these companies to restructure or go under. The billion-plus dollars we are spending in the Middle East per-day needs to be channeled into retraining displaced workers, and tax and grant incentives for entrepreneurs to begin new businesses. Steel workers, mill workers, manufacturing workers must be helped to train and find work in other fields. The money spent to save an insolvent company should be used instead, as a safety net to assist displaced workers. There are workers needed in health care, transportation, education, construction…

Manufacturing (the Industrial Revolution) built the wealth of America. With the turn of the new century manufacturing is becoming a third world industry. We must not stagnate – we must move our workforce into the new era of technology. We must have an educated work force with specialized training, if America is going to remain a super power.


I love the railroads. My granddaddy worked for the Illinois Central for sixty-five years. I remember the era of the elite passenger trains: the Humming Bird and the City of New Orleans.

The City of New Orleans in Covington, Tenn.

A few years ago, my wife and I took a trip on Amtrak. We scheduled a compartment from Seattle to Washington D. C. but ended up dumped in Chicago because our train was four hours late (no hold-ups, just not on schedule.) We missed our connections and had to rent a car to complete our trip. It was an expensive and depressing experience.

Amtrak is another company that is poorly managed but subsidized by the government. Rail traffic, however, makes sense. It should be a thriving industry instead of an inefficient government subsidized program. The problem is the infrastructure and technology has remained in the twentieth century. While the oil industry and automobile industry promote the trucking industry with lobbyist in Congress, there are no spokesmen for the rail roads.

An updated freight train should be able to haul a semi-truck load of goods a hundred miles for just a few dollars operating expense, and with a fraction of the energy consumption and pollution. One freight train should be able to replace a hundred semi-trucks.

With grants and tax incentives we need to encourage a renewed interest in railroad transportation. With a network of new tracks and new equipment we could more profitably transport goods, decrease pollution by removing thousands of semi-trucks from the highways. It could relieve the stress on air travel by offering an economical and efficient alternative. Our government would have to accept the decline of the trucking industry and all its support industries. The compensation would be new jobs and new industries to support the modernized rail system.

Right now our rail system is government controlled. Retired railroad workers receive government pensions. The government needs to get out of the railroad business (which they are not running very well) and return it to private, free market control. Privatized railroads, without government subsidies, would run more efficiently. It would initially be costly and require government seed money, but a revitalized railroad system could revitalize the country and eventually operate without subsidies. .


The American oil industry and the sheiks of the Middle-East are raping our citizens. They have convinced us that oil consumption is necessary, while they control the supply.

We are presently at war in Iraq because that country sits on the second largest oil reserve in the world. Saddam was a bad guy, but no real threat to America. He did not have nuclear weapons and he did not have a delivery system, but he did have an undeveloped oil reserve. American companies had wanted to develop that oil reserve but were denied access because of an Allied embargo on the country.

Along comes the 2000 presidential election and the oil industry finally take over our government. Cheney was an oil man and the CEO of Halliburton. Bush W. failed as an oil man but is from an oil dynasty. Rice was a lawyer for a major oil company, etc. The dynamic duo of Bush/Cheney came into office with the intention of taking over Iraq and opening the oil fields to American Companies. It was a business move, plain and simple. They just did not understand the complexity of the Middle-East.

We have the technology for wind power; we have the technology for solar power; we have the technology to tap geothermal energy; we have the technology to tap tidal energy; what we do not have is the desire at the government level. Oil company lobbyists, and lobbyists from related industries, are insuring that America remains on the oil standard. And, as long as we remain on the oil standard, we can never truly move toward a low cost, green environmental friendly energy policy. The answer, again, is term limits.


The shout in Washington is to reduce revenue, increase spending and balance the budget. If you buy into that you probably plan to spend your tax return on a season pass to the Noah’s Ark Theme Park in Kentucky.

The proposed U.S. budget for 2011 request $3.83 trillion ($3,830,000,000,000.00) in expenditures with an estimated revenue of $2.57 trillion – resulting in a deficit of $1.267 trillion. This will effectively increase our National debt from $11.9 trillion to $13.8 trillion.  See: How Big Is A Trillion? in my Blog of November 22, 2010

In my next BLOG I will look at the big sucking black hole that accounts for over one quarter of our budget.