Thursday, October 31, 2013

Of Spying

Ridgecrest Conference Center, North Carolina – People do in private things they would not do in public. We say to ourselves, sometimes aloud, things we would never say to another, and certainly not in giving a speech. We say to our friends what we would never say to some other people. But are you being watched?
It has now been released that in one month alone, the NSA, tracked about 60 million calls in Spain, and also in one month, about 30 million in France. According to some reports, even Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany’s phone was being tapped.
Apparently, according to recent revelations from newspapers such as The Guardian, and The Washington Post, without their knowledge, major information sites with lots of traffic, such as Yahoo and Google, are also being gleaned for information, without even the use of a court order.
These leaks, which have been coming at least in large part from Edward Snowden, former American contractor, are causing widespread debate and even attempts to end these processes from congress. It reminds one of the necessity of privacy in one’s own life. Even the NSA gets embarrassed and sometimes changes things when everybody else knows what is going on behind closed doors.
In, it appears, an attempt to find the reasons for the leak and to kill the story, several news agencies have reported having their records collected, and documents taken, to find sources by the authorities.
Just as the freedom of the press is protected by the first amendment to the constitution, so also it is one of the first necessities of a free society. Many prison camps have remained open, many corrupt politicians who were stealing money from the working classes have remained in office, until a photographer showed up to document the suffering, or until a journalist arrived to tell the truth.
But as the governments of the world must be kept a watch over by the people, the people still have a right to privacy. To live their lives in peace. To call their house during a hard day of work, and not have to know that that call is being monitored by some agent somewhere. To send a message to a friend without the fear that it will be tapped and read because of the possibility that an email about a birthday party may be a terrorist plot.

Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Advancement of Health

Calico Rock, Arkansas – Sunday, according to the Associated Press, there was another difficulty with the Affordable Care Act website. (Obomacare.) By now, nearly everyone of is aware of the disaster of the rollout of the website, despite millions of dollars being poured into it. Congress is seeking answers, even asking the secretary of Health and Agriculture for the mess.

In a USA Today poll, it was found that nearly 40% of Americans are now less enthusiastic about the new law. Over 40% do not even know where to go to get information about what is all means. According to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the law is about 20,000 pages long. The stack is taller than a person.
About 15% of Americans are uninsured.
The government shutdown was, partially, about delaying or defunding the Affordable Care Act. Over forty times, the Republican filled and led House of Representatives has attempted to repeal the law. It is still in place. By next year, more of the law will go into effect.
There is a consensus in Washington, even joined by the president that, in all reality, the rollout of what is currently in effect has been a failure and a disaster. It leaves some wondering what it will look like when it goes into full effect.

Andrew C. Abbott

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

World Synergy

It is an anomaly that we can split the atom, but we are nearly powerless to persuade each other to embrace justice. We can recombine our genes, but we cannot ask each other, in simple ways, for love… In short, we have learned to dominate people as things, but when it comes to relating to people as people, we still tread wearily through the dark ages. – Gerry Spence

Phoenix, Arizona – America won the revolutionary war with the aid of the French. Some historians believe it would have been about as close to impossible as one can come, for us to have won without their help.
There is much Americans can do. We were the first to go to the moon. We developed cars, airplanes, and the ideas of special relativity quantum mechanics. But we cannot build everything alone. But we know that there are some things we cannot do alone. When we built the atomic bomb, we did it with the help of scientists from other countries.
Patriotism is a good thing. A powerful force. But patriotism should not change into exclusivism. The world has many types of people, and many of them have ideas about science and inventions and ways to make the world a better place, not all the great leaders in the world are Americans.
To have peace there must be respect. Nations cannot blatantly cross each other’s borders, make gigantic shows of force, build high flung rhetoric, and pout and turn their backs when they do not get the ninety-seventh clause in the treaty of trade that they wanted. I am reminded of a world war two poster I once saw which stated a great truth “United we are strong, united we will conquer.
And speaking of world war two, one of the greatest shows of synergy between nations in the history of this planet of ours was during that war, and especially at D-Day.
Thousands of men, massive amounts of ships, floating docks, marines, paratroopers, planes, supplies, generals, rangers, artillery, and men from nations from around the world. When those men hit those beaches, they were not concerned about the different accent of the man next to them, they stopped thinking about the differences of food, color, or things like that.
What mattered was the job that needed to be done, not where the person was from that you were doing it with. And that is something that should be remembered as a lesson to us. There are still tyrants in the world, there are still things to invent, there are still huge projects to pull off, still places where people are not free, still things to do. The tyrants of world war two would never have been toppled, the world would never have been saved, the beaches would never have been won, if the different nations there had not had each other backs. As sons of Adam, we’ve got each other’s backs. Now, let’s do this.
Andrew C. Abbott

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Trial by Power

Nearly all men can stand adversity. But if you want to test a man, give him power. - Abraham Lincoln.

San Jose, California – Huey Long, possibly the inspiration for the novel All the king's men, was known as the man of the people, the small-town boy next year. He was the son of farm owners, and homeschooled. He was so poor that when he won a scholarship, he was still unable to use it because he could not afford even the textbooks.
Long was the governor of Louisiana, and then a senator until 1935. He advocated a "share the wealth society." His works created hospitals and brought textbooks to poor children. His political career began when he was 25.
But then his social plans began to backfire. The governor tried to bring in new taxes to fund his programs. Soon, an attempt was made to impeach him. He was called out for blasphemy, bribery, and embezzling, along with misuse of power, etc.
Fifteen senators promised not to vote against Long, no matter what the evidence, he won his case. Afterwards, the man of the people was surrounded with bodyguards at all times. His work paid off, and a road system was made in the state connecting the back roads and small disparate parts of the state. His opponents claimed he had become the virtual dictator of the state.
FDR and the New Deal were not progressive enough. Long wanted a redistribution of wealth. He thought there should be a cap on how much money you could make in a year, how much money you could have, and on how much you could inherit. "This plan is the only defense this country's got against communism.”
Long continued to effectively control his state. The governor was his lieutenant. The senators were his allies. When he was in the capitol, he would take over the governor’s office, and sit on congressmen’s desks to explain to them how he needed them to vote.
Soon, his clubs had millions of members. He regularly has twenty-five million listeners on the radio. He received more letters every week from supporters and others than the president. Soon, he decided to run for president himself. He wrote a book My First Days in the Whitehouse. In his home state of Louisiana his detractors said he was so bad armed opposition may be all they had left. He probably would have crushed them had it come to that. He boasted he controlled everything but the Red Cross and the Community Chest.
But you may have never heard of Huey Long, that is because he never became president, not because he lost, but because, on September eight, 1935, he was at the state capitol building trying to pass "House Bill Number One.” A bill to remove Judge Benjamin Henry Pavy, a long time enemy.
At 9:20, Dr. Carl Weiss approached Long in the hallway as the session still went strong. He shot the senator in the stomach and killed him.
Men who seek for power may win it for a time, but they too shall fail. It is only virtue that will in the end triumph. Power is like fire. Handle is carefully, or it will burn you.

Andrew C. Abbott

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Who sat up with the Sick Cow?

San Jose, California – Under Communism, just about everything is free except the people. Under the optimum strategy, all private property is abolished, and jobs are, apparently, assigned according to what the social planners think is the best place for them. The way everything will be is planned according to a select group’s decisions.

According to the established laws of economics this is a disaster. It is impossible to know what everyone in society will want, so impossible to assign it. Communism has historically been the cause of famine, bloodshed, and civil unrest. Under Communism, because everyone will eat and live regardless of how much work they do there is not much incentive to work at all. Thus, when one Communist says there enough potatoes to touch the face of God, and the other tells him there is no God in Communism, he can reply that there are also no potatoes.
The cow is an important part of the economic system and market. It gives milk, leather, and beef. If you are the settlers on the Great Plains, it also gives fuel. For a long time, in some places, your wealth was measured in cattle. The cow has been so important to some societies that when the cattle began to die off, or if there was an outbreak among them, the people quickly followed them to the grave.
Sitting up with a sick cow all night is not necessarily the most glorious or fun job. If there is no incentive, it will not be done, and even in a Commune probably not delegated, it being one of those things that planners do not think about; the creation of the department of watching sick cows.
Since it is no one’s job, in Communism, it will most likely not get done. In the end the cow will usually die, and so will Communism.

Andrew C. Abbott

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Default Button

San Jose, California –Congress faces another deadline. On Thursday, Jacob Joseph “Jack” Lew, Secretary of the Treasury will run out of ways to borrow money. He will have about thirty billion dollars remaining on hand-pocket change. By the first of next month we will begin to miss payments on the interest for our debts-default.

America is about 16.7 trillion dollars in debt. That is an amount of money so astronomical that it is hard to imagine. However, if the debt ceiling is not raised for the 43rd time since 1980, the government may default on its bond payments. If the single largest creditor in the world, the one with more debt than the entire European Union combined defaults, it could be a disaster. However, it is doubtful that that will happen. It is considered by most analysts that the debt ceiling will be raised again. However, we cannot leave out the possibility that it might happen, as, traditionally, the joke in politics has been that congress and deadlines are two things that should not be mixed. At the White House Press Dinner the President said that he proposed a toast at a dinner with some congressmen, but it died in committee.
America has had a long history of being in debt, stretching to its founding. The Continental Congress, during the Revolutionary War, printed so much paper money that it became so worthless that a phrase was made “not worth a continental” showing just how much the money was worth. To alleviate the problem, money was borrowed, which only made things worse.
Alexander Hamilton did a rather good job, at least in some areas, of cleaning up the disaster, as first Secretary of the Treasury. However, the nation was still in debt. And we continued to be in debt until the Presidency of Andrew Jackson, the president of the Trail of Tears. He was the only president to ever pay of the entire national debt, and to also shut down the National Bank.
However, his successors got the nation in debt again. It continued from millions to billions to trillions. To demonstrate the numbers, one billion minutes ago it was around one hundred A.D. Our nation is in debt around 160 hundred billion dollars. It has been a few years since we balanced the budget. Currently a fight is going on in Congress over cutting about 70 billion dollars from the budget, which everyone recognizes in not exactly fixing the problem.
Several world leaders have asked America to resolve the crises before Thursday, knowing that if America defaults, it could plunge us into another recession, and the rest of the world would almost certainly follow us down. The JP Morgan financial firm has spent large amounts of money preparing for the possibility of a default.
The default button is not really an option, but neither is the idea of a few trillion more dollars in debt. The interest will continue to climb, until we may, someday, be no longer able to pay that either.
This is what is, by any measurement, bad debt. Such massive fiscal irresponsibility could easily, one day, cause massive, global catastrophe if the largest economy in the world defaults. If the house is not shored up better, it will fall. And if it is not, it will come down. America is the two pillars of the world market.
If the pillars of the world money system collapse, so will the house.

Andrew C. Abbott

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Part 2: The People

Tulare, California, – Government is not the solution to all of the world’s problems, even our president understands that, and has said so. Just because government may be in a mess is no excuse to do nothing ourselves.

We have millions of dollars being pumped each year in benefits, and it is not doing great deal to alleviate poverty. We could say a great deal about numbers, and unemployment, and yes, things are doing slightly better than when the recession began, but we have always had the poor in our nation, and, as great as we may be now, and as far as we may advance with new programs, we will still have poor with us when a thousand presidents have come and gone.
Many of our ancestors, including possibly some of my own, came to America through Ellis Island. And when you get there, after that long run on the ship in, coming from the old world with all its history to the new world with all its promise, you will see Lady Liberty. And you will see everything it stands for. Liberty is not just something that was put into a Declaration to be forgotten about, it was something the Founding Fathers expected us to live.
Because we don’t just keep that precious liberty to ourselves and lock it up in dusty old documents, we share it, because if we don’t give it away, it must not be really worth having.
Giving away has been a part of the American Tradition. We are a strong nation not because we have Aircraft Carriers that can wipe out other nation’s entire navies. We are not strong just because we have the greatest military of the most organized government. It is the people that make America strong.
That is why it is “We the People,” because we are the ones who have the right to say how we are governed. And we know the government has its problems. The American people may not have the power of their government, but they have something that no bureaucracy, no matter who runs it; and that is a heart.
We cannot just take one look at Lady Liberty when we get here and forget all about her, and everything she stands for. We have to reach out to those around us, and create communities, which was what those Irish and Italians and Germans created when they got here.
When the “important” people fail, it is time for the world to see the real heroes. Because the real heroes are not the senators that show up to make a speech after the disaster is over. The heroes are the firefighters who actually fight the blaze, and some of who die in the attempt. They are the ones who make America strong, they are the real heroes.
The real heroes are the ones who walk the streets after the big speeches promising prosperity, and hand out food to the starving. The real heroes are the ones with charity.
Faith-Americans must believe that there is a future, or they will work for it. Hope-we must trust that the future will be better, or we will become cynical and simply watch while the nation deteriorates. And charity-which is the fuel that a nation runs on. Now these three abide, but the greatest of these is charity.

Andrew C. Abbott

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Part 1: Political Peace

Tulare, California, - According to Fox News yesterday, about over 60 percent of Americans think the nation is headed the wrong way. About half of the nation is unhappy with the way the president is running the country, and over half of the populace thinks that both Democrats and Republicans are acting like spoiled children over the shutdown battle.

I once subscribed to an almost daily email of economics from a rather well known group of somewhat revolutionary economists. They said they wanted to convince America with their articles that we should be on a completely free market basis. They made their arguments with mathematics, long historical arguments from three thousand page books to prove who made up their ideas first, inserted many long quotes from authorities of their own, and made bad jokes about anyone who disagreed with them. I think I was more sympathetic to them before I began reading than after. I fell asleep and unsubscribed.
The people of America have heard political debates for over two hundred years on everything from where new wagon roads should go to whether we should have a bureau of tea tasters. Americans watch the debates in which only one to take a pounding is the facts, and, I would guess, probably fall asleep and unsubscribe, maybe permanently.
Those in the public eye need to remember that everyone is talking at once and almost no one is listening. “New Plans” “News Ideas” are all over and opinions are free but also worthless. Not many speeches change anyone’s mind. And the nation yawns and shakes its head.
There are people that are really hurting. Joblessness is a real problem. Hundreds of thousands are unemployed. That is a real issue. They are not numbers, they are people. I recall that it was said of Ronald Reagan that he was so loved because he talked to the people like they understood about things they understood.
Much of the political malice does not come from anger against ideas, it comes from anger against people. Against old scores and many times bad jokes. That goes all the way back to the Continental Congress, when John Adams called John Dickenson a “piddling genius” and caused such a massive rift it almost derailed some things.
The Scriptures say that the meek are blessed, not the one who can make fun of the other guy the best. “Swift to hear, slow to speak.” It is not a trophy to run with your fingers in your ears shouting at the top of your lungs “I will not change!” You could be wrong about some things-you are certainly wrong about something. If we all lower our voices until they can be heard, if we have more love instead of jokes, and listen more instead of shout louder, we just might get things done. We have to remember none of us are perfect. Even Ronald Reagan changed his mind at times.
Andrew C. Abbott

Saturday, October 5, 2013

"Liberty is too important to be buried in books"

Below is the link to an excerpt from Jimmy Stewart's classic film "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" a film in which a corrupt group of men frame the only man who is trying to stop them-Mr. Smith.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Government: Closed Until Further Notice

Los Angeles, California – The showdown to slowdown the shutdown is now over. One of the members of the house, at midnight on Monday stated “It is now midnight, and the great government of the United States is now closed.” One senator said the government was completely shut down, another lawmaker said that the other side of the aisle lives in a parallel universe, and yet another from the other side said that it was like Alice in Wonderland. In Washington we are told by the Washington Post that multiple veterans broke down the barriers of a war monument, closed due to lack of funding because of the shutdown, to pay tribute to their fallen comrades, although no one seems to know who did what, and the President said the Republicans are trying to make an ideological point.
One Rep. from Michigan said that the American people would get better government from Monkey Island in the local zoo then they would from their Federal Government, according to the Associated Press.
So we see that in government there is a lot of talk going on right now. And there is usually a lot of talk. Emotionalism. Excitement, fear, hope, madness, from all corners of the political realm. That is why our Constitution is our nation’s great safeguard. Because men are not angels, and they let their heads get away with their reason. The constitution is the bulwark behind which our liberties reside. If its wall are breached, it must, in the end, be to arms.
There is talk about America and the debt ceiling crisis, but it is not likely that the government will default on its debts. And if it does, the world will not end. The world lasted over fifty-five hundred years without us, and will continue to do so long after we are gone.
This is a great nation, a nation full of people and ideas and beauty and industry. I have travelled from sea to shining sea, I have seen the amber waves of grain and I have climbed the purple mountains, in all their majesty. There are still a few righteous in the city.
When John Adams, the second president of the United States was elected, some predicted America and its liberties were forever gone. When Andrew Jackson, just over twenty years later was elected, other predicted the same thing. Our nation has through one crises after another, from the tax on tea just before the Revolution to our current government shutdown. We have survived nearly a dozen wars, one of which ripped our nation in half. We have gone through the Great Depression, and stock market crashes. But our nation is still here, because all those things were just crises.
Rome, the empire that lasted over 2,000 years, had one crises right after another, and the empire seemed to always look as if it was on the edge of collapse. When that happens, when we are afraid of everything falling apart, that is the last time to run around screaming, because in your wild career you might knock down the walls that guard our liberty.
It is a time for thought, and careful planning. It is a time for the men of wisdom to sit down and talk of what must be done, and hen to do it. It is a time to ask of God, with Solomon, for wisdom, for who can judge this Thy people that is so great?

Andrew C. Abbott