Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Major Benefit of This Grassroots Effort

A Major Benefit of This Grassroots Effort

Almost two years ago I met a family at the 2009 AFP Defending the American Dream Summit in Washington, DC.  They were newly engaged conservatives in the battle to defeat Obamacare.  I made a point to introduce myself to the woman after her speech because she mentioned they resided in the hometown both my parents grew up in, in SC, a place I still visit 2 – 4 times a year.  She spoke eloquently, but said that type of situation was foreign to her.  She said she was a brand new “activist.”  Because of similar interests, and the hometown connection – we have remained in contact via Facebook these past two years.

This week their entire family (of 7) was in Washington DC protesting FDA regulations.  On their way home, they stopped to have dinner with Suzy, David and I in Fredericksburg tonight.  We are planning to get together again in the future when we will be in South Carolina.

Three Saturday’s ago I had the privilege of sharing a meal at Stone Mountain outside of Atlanta with individuals from at least 10 States, who were in Atlanta for the weekend to strategize ways to reclaim our republic for the conservative principles we hold so dear.

In February, at another strategy session in Phoenix I shared several meals with some of those same folks and many others.  One of the couples in Phoenix (their families) had fled Eastern Europe in the 1940’s and then lived through the riots and revolutionary times in France in the 1960’s.  Those folks cautioned about the mentality that was so pervasive in France at that time and shared why they fled Europe to come to America.  They continued to share how, based on their experience they now see how that mentality has infected American Culture and are engaged in the conservative grassroots movement in the US because there is nowhere else to escape to.

While ABSOTULETLY NONE OF US wants to be in this battle to save our republic - we would rather be building our businesses, raising families and pursuing our own happiness; one of the greatest benefits of being a part of this huge grassroots effort is to be building relationships that cross state lines – and literally span our great nation from sea to shining sea.  It truly is an honor and privilege to get to know so many folks from across our republic that possesses a commitment and passion to do good for our country. 

I could write more about this passionate volunteer army of patriots that are sacrificing time, money, and other resources, but I don’t want to write a book. I simply want to reflect on the relationships that are being built.  Many of us, when we sit alone at our desks or computers studying the issues, we become overwhelmed and discouraged – but it is the relationships that are being formed that should help inspire us to press on.  Alone, the task may seem impossible – but as someone said – we outnumber them.  “We surround them.” 

We have some tough roads ahead, but these relationships give me encouragement, and I hope and pray they give you encouragement too.  We will prevail.  And when all is said and done, we will have gotten through the hard times together, and will have built some amazing relationships and friendships along the way – friendships that will last a life time.

Having been on numerous conference calls and in strategy sessions at the local, state and national level clearly we will have disagreements and struggles in coming to consensus on certain items – but in the end after we have prevailed.  We will look back on these trials and be grateful for the skills, talents, leaders and relationships that Providence established through these trials.

I close reflecting on the relationship of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.  Both were on the committee of five to author the Declaration of Independence.  They worked very closely together on that project – then spent time together in Europe representing our new experiment, then both served in The Executive Branch during Adam’s presidency (Jefferson as Vice-President), then, as the political party process started they became bitter rivals for a very long time.  Before their death, 50 years to the day after the signing of The Declaration of Independence, they had reconciled and were Facebook Friends – well, they wrote hand written letters to each other on a pretty regular basis about everything under the sun.  

It is my prayer, that 50 years from now, we will look back on this turbulent time: we will have restored the concept of Federalism, Limited Representative Government, personal responsibility, ended the welfare state, promoted individual charity, individual rights, property rights, the rule of law, restored a strong American work ethic, and most important the importance of virtue and all that entails.  We will also being corresponding with large number of friends, in whatever mode of communication exists at that time, from all across the republic, who never would have even known each other had we not lived in such a time as this.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

We The People Are To Blame

There is a huge uproar these days about the direction our republic is headed.  There is a lot of discussion about spending, debt and entitlements.  There are a lot of suggestions out there about what could and should be done.  During these discussions, many display anger and frustration toward our elected officials, but ultimately, all the problems we currently face can be placed right back in our laps.  What is happening today is a direct result of our lack of engagement – or perhaps our engagement, exacerbating the problem.

We have been electing leaders to go to Washington for decades to “bring home the bacon,” when that was never the intent of our founders.  When I think of our founders risking their lives and pledging their sacred honor for our freedom, when I think of the bloody feet of the soldiers in the snow at The Battle of Trenton, to enable our elected leaders today to “go get bacon,” I know they would be disgusted with us. 

Our good intentions are killing us.

In the last century, we allowed our Government to begin a “war on poverty,” (an unwinnable war) which is not defined anywhere in our constitution.  This war has failed miserably and has become rampant with fraud.  I saw first-hand some of those who are defrauding our government while I was in the banking field.  Quite honestly, this war has permitted extended families and churches to shirk their God given responsibilities in this area, “because the government takes care of that.”  It is time the Federal Government had an exit strategy from this war, and placed the responsibility for this where it should really be.

We allowed our government to begin insuring seniors in the last years of their lives, a plan that was never part of the vision for America, and is not defined anywhere in our constitution.  This one area now controls the largest portion of the liabilities that are bankrupting our nation.  In the last few decades our Federal Government has led millions of people to not plan for themselves, but to be dependent on the Federal Government for their existence.  Sadly, I met a lot of these elderly people while I was in the banking field.  In addition, this system has quite honestly permitted extended families and churches to shirk their God given responsibilities in these areas, “because the government takes care of that.”  Our founders did not risk their lives to create a dependency – they wanted to provide freedom for their posterity. 

We allowed our government to take over providing medical care for seniors, another colossal failure. 
This take-over has stifled the free market and created huge opportunities for fraud.  Furthermore, (you probably are catching a theme), this system has permitted extended families and churches to shirk their God given responsibilities in these areas.

We have allowed The Federal Government to federalize education.  Every year we add new federal regulations and increase federal expenditures in this area and we see overall performance continue to decline.  Fortunately we have seen homeschooling and private and charter school’s explode, not only in numbers but also in performance.  Certainly there are some good public schools out there, but on the whole, our investment in Federalized education has not seen a good ROI.  Where we see the best performance taking place is at the lowest level, not the Federal Government, often that level is the homeschool.  This is despite the ever growing size of the Department of Education.

Finally, we have allowed the government to become the fastest growing segment of job growth in our republic.  Despite the lack of success in the areas listed above, as well as so many others – Federal and State Governments continue to hire at record levels.  Having spent 20 years in private industry, this is completely mind boggling to me. 

Up front, let me say, I know countless “Type A,” extremely hard working folks within the federal system, but I do want to refer back to my title, “We The People Are To Blame.”  I have met countless people pursuing jobs within the government, often not because of the great work that they plan on achieving there but simply for security.  Higher salaries, benefits and retirement plans, as well as the fact it is virtually impossible to be fired are the reasons I routinely hear for people seeking jobs at the Federal Level.  Countless people have told me, it is far too risky to go start a business or work in private industry.  During my banking career, I could not tell you the number of people that told me they would wait to purchase the home they had just been pre-qualified for “until after they began working for the government.”  Because they knew their personal risk factor was vastly reduced at that point.    

So it goes back to my second paragraph where I mentioned our routinely, for decades, electing people who could “bring home the bacon.”  Now that the bacon (or the credit line) has virtually run out, should that continue to be our priority?  I say that for our elected officials, but also individually.  We need to stop thinking about “what’s in it for me” and decide if this republic worth saving?  We are rapidly approaching the tipping point, where 51 % of our citizens depend on the government for their sustenance.  That is a huge dilemma.  If we believe the republic is worth saving the question must no longer be “what’s in it for me?”

What is needed now is the hand of God and a couple of generations of Americans who are willing to give back to their country, and perhaps risk everything like our founders.  If we place our resolve, like our founders did, as they closed the Declaration of Independence: “With a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,” I believe we can.

Some personal thoughts on what I feel is needed later this week, but a clue to my thoughts were included here.

Blessings to you and yours!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thoughts on Fathers Day 2011

Thoughts about Fathers’ Day 2011

Today I spent a little time thinking about fathers, fatherhood and of course as always, I spent a little time reflecting on the direction our republic is headed in.  A couple thoughts came to my mind. 

First of all, I am extremely grateful for my father, for several reasons.

My father, through the course of my four decades of life has demonstrated many things to me.  He demonstrated a tremendous work ethic, which has helped shape my life and the way I approach what I do with my time.  Because of his example, some of the energy I spend is dedicated to earning a living for me and my family, but also because of his example I invest time in causes that are greater than our existence.  People sometimes ask me why I invest time in so many things outside of my immediate benefit.  I can honestly point back to my fathers’ example, who while he possessed a PHD and could have focused his entire career on simply earning a living – several times while I was growing up, I witnessed him take lesser paying jobs to participate in an issue that he believed in.

My father also demonstrated the importance of family, in the hard times as well as the good times.  He was blessed with my mother, who also was committed to this effort.  I am not going to list all the difficult times, but there were times, like the death of my brother, that I know applied a lot of stress on our family, and through it all – we remained intact.  This is a testimony to both of my parents.  I have also witnessed my father contribute to extended family in ways that were not required, but he did – because that is the kind of man he is.

Closing my thoughts on my father, I know that in large respect I am the way I am because of his example and the role model he has been for my life.  I also recognize that in large part, he lives his life the way he does due to the impact his father had on his life – especially the example of work-ethic and importance of family, including extended family.  During the great depression, my dad’s dad, my grandfather welcomed the entire extended family (three sisters, their husbands, etc.) return to “the home-place” to live.  They survived together during the hard times – a very large extended family – living off the land, each one contributing.

When I think about our republic today, and the many crisis’s we face, and reflect on Fathers’ Day, I am greatly saddened, because many kids today are growing up without fathers, and without the type of examples I outlined above.  I had a hard time getting current statistics, so these numbers are likely to actually be worse.  Here are a few statistics (If you get tired of the statistics, please skip to the bottom, to see my closing thoughts):

·         According to 72.2 % of the U.S. population, fatherlessness is the most significant family or social problem facing America. Source: National Center for Fathering, Fathering in America Poll, January, 1999.
·         An estimated 24.35 million children (33.5 percent) live absent their biological father.  Source: Krieder, Rose M. and Jason Fields. Living Arrangements of Children 2001. Current Population Reports, p. 70-104. Table 1. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau, 2005
·         Of students in grades 1 through 12, 39 percent (17.7 million) live in homes absent their biological fathers. Source: Nord, Christine Winquist, and Jerry West. Fathers' and Mothers' Involvement in their Children's Schools by Family Type and Resident Status. Table 1. (NCES 2001-032). Washington, DC: U.S. Dept of Education, National Center of Education Statistics, 2001.
·         Sixty-three percent of black children, 35% of Hispanic children, and 28% of white children are living in homes absent their biological father. Source: Krieder, Rose M. and Jason Fields. Living Arrangements of Children 2001. Current Population Reports, p. 70-104. Table 1. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau, 2005.
·         The 1997 Gallup Youth Survey found the following among U.S. teens:
33 % live away from their father
43% of urban teens live away from their father Source: Youthviews, Gallup Youth Survey 4 (June, 1997).
·         50% of mothers see no value in the fathers continued contact with his children.
·         63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. [U. S. D.H.H.S. Bureau of the Census]
·         90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
  • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. [Center for Disease Control]
  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes. [Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14 p. 403-26]
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. [National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools]
  • 70% of juveniles in state operated institutions come from fatherless homes [U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept., 1988]
  • 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. [Fulton County Georgia Jail Populations and Texas Dept. of Corrections, 1992]
  • Nearly 2 of every 5 children in America do not live with their fathers.  [US News and World Report, February 27, 1995, p.39]
Children from fatherless homes are:
  • 4.6 times more likely to commit suicide,
  • 6.6 times to become teenaged mothers (if they are girls, of course),
  • 24.3 times more likely to run away,
  • 15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders,
  • 6.3 times more likely to be in a state-operated institutions,
  • 10.8 times more likely to commit rape,
  • 6.6 times more likely to drop out of school,
  • 15.3 times more likely to end up in prison while a teenager.

As we celebrate fathers’ day, an institution that I think should be celebrated, I could not help but reflect that as a nation, we continually look to higher levels of government to fix our problems.  Government cannot fix this problem – fatherlessness.  Indeed, there are government programs in place that actually exacerbate this problem. 

In my opinion, we will not be able to turn our republic around, if we don’t reverse this terrible trend.  I know it is complicated, and the thoughts toward solutions are too lengthy to write in a simple blog.  Perhaps the most important thing we can do this fathers’ day, is to commit to praying for an end of this scourge of fatherlessness that has plagued our land.  It surely is having a deadly impact on our republic and way of life, and this subject is worthy of our prayers, and effort.