Thursday, October 29, 2009

Red Counties and Blue Counties and Education

The electoral map of the United States shows that the blue or democrat counties are concentrated in the large cities while the rest of America is painted in nothing but red or republican voting counties. You can quickly see that almost all of that "fly over" country between the coasts is carried by Republicans in Presidential elections.

We find ourselves in the situation that Thomas Jefferson most feared, even though he is considered the forefather of the democrat party,(of course he wasn't that didn't happen until Martin Van Buren did as a means to protect slavery.) Thomas Jefferson's beliefs were exactly 180 degrees away from what the democrats are pushing today. Jefferson believed strongly in State's rights over Federal government, and he wanted a small and weak Federal government. Jefferson was a believer in rural America and had no use for large cities. If you recall he was one of the leaders of the American Revolution to end what they believed to be excessive taxation, and an oppressive government.

Let's see what Jefferson had to say and how timely it is today.

"When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe." Thomas Jefferson

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.
A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world." Thomas Jefferson

" I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."
Thomas Jefferson

"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.." Thomas Jefferson

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." Thomas Jefferson

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." Thomas Jefferson

"To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." Thomas Jefferson

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." Thomas Jefferson

If you continue with the thought of the red and blue counties and their uneven distribution, I have to query what the counties would look like if we defined them by high school graduation rates and SAT scores? I will bet that we would find that it would fall again to nearly the very same counties that were red and blue. Marion County Indiana is a blue county and the Indianapolis Public Schools boast a nearly 20% graduation rate.

Our founders differed on many beliefs, but they were nearly speaking in unison that the only way to guarantee the American Republic's survival was to have an educated population. Our founders lived in a knowledge explosion. America had nine colleges and twenty five newspapers in 1776 serving a population of 2.5 million. Benjamin Franklin was partly responsible testifying that "reading became fashionable" in America in the 1730s. Since Americas had "no publick amusements to divert their attention from study," they soon became "better instructed and more intelligent" than people in other countries.

The founders were passionately concerned with instructing their peers, and their children. The intelligence they wanted to develop was political and practical. As John Adams made his way to Philadelphia for the first Continental Congress in 1774, his thoughts turned to the children he had left behind in Braintree. "Fix their ambition, " he wrote his wife Abigale, "upon great and solid objects, and their contempt upon little, frivolous and useless ones." They believed that the people would shape America; their children would shape to future.

Jefferson wanted education for everyone, and lots of education for the talented. Since even "the best forms" of government tended to revert to tyranny over time, "the people at large" had to have enough knowledge of history "to know ambition under all it's shapes;" the most talented people needed additional training, to enable them "to guard the sacred deposit" of liberty.

George Washington, in his first State of the Union address told his audience that "nothing...can better deserve your patronage" than education. His reasons, like Jefferson's, were political. He wanted people to "value their own rights"; he also wanted them to be able to acknowledge "the necessary exercise of lawful authority."

Of course it is fine to want knowledge, but what kind of knowledge would the founders ask for? Franklin's central subject was history. "As nothing teaches so nothing delights more than history." He was always tugging in in practical directions,however, applying it to the present, or using it to teach a skill. Franklin's students would study journalism as well as rhetoric. In studying history "questions of right and wrong" would "naturally arise." Students should debate them. "Publick disputes warm the imagination, whet the industry, and strengthen the natural abilities." Franklin also wanted students to study religion as a historical and civic subject; "History will afford frequent opportunities of showing the necessity of a publick religion and the excellency of the Christian Religion above all others ancient or modern."

If our founders believed we needed to have an educated electorate to keep them from being fooled by tyrants offering something for nothing, where are we today. How many Americans have adequate knowledge of history, economics, civics, or philosophy?

Reading a historian describing the America that Alexis de Tocqueville met when he researched for his book "Democracy in America" during the Andrew Jackson administration. What he said was that Americans considered themselves to be well educated because most all read newspapers, unlike the founders though, they had no real education in history, civics, and philosophy. The author's comment was that these Americans were full of current events but without the depth of knowledge in those above learning's to filter it through so they couldn't assimilate the information and were like bobbers tossed and turned onto of waves of never ending information. If that was the case then, what is going on now?

If we are were we are today because we have an ignorant electorate who are being misled by those who promise them something for nothing there are three questions we must consider.

1.How did this happen to our schools, was it just incompetence in our school systems?

2.Is it possible that our schools are failing our students on purpose as Mason Weaver stated in his excellent book "It's Okay to Leave the Plantation." Weaver strongly believes that the mission of the left is to hold people in poverty to enslave them to government hand outs to guarantee their votes for democrats.

3.What do we do about it now?

If it is the first and only incompetence we need to as parents, and as citizens start volunteering to help in the education of our youth if they are our kids or not, they will soon be voting. If it is the second we need to go to war and fight back this rape of our children's minds.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I Want To Be Obama

There is no job on earth that has to be more stressful than is that of President of the United States. We have, for generations, watched men go in their first day fresh and vibrant, and watch them age beyond their years during their tenure. It is hard to imagine the overwhelming weight thrust upon your shoulders as you become responsible for running such a huge country, massive government, military, and all that includes. Knowing that the decisions you make, or don't make will have serious impact on the lives of all Americans, possibly for generations to come. I know as vp of sales for a company I more often than not had sleepless nights knowing that I was responsible for helping my team and company succeed. It weighed upon me knowing that if my team didn't deliver over a hundred families in the company would suffer the consequences. Can you imagine multiplying that by three hundred million?

Our first President, the one who showed the way for all future Presidents, George Washington whispered to John Adams as he was about to take his own oath of office as the second President, "I am fairly out, and you are fairly in. See which of us will be happiest." Even Washington, the most popular man who ever lived in America, was also criticized and ridiculed in his decisions as President. Years later John Adams was the first of only two Presidents in history to know the joy and trepidation of seeing their son elected to the same office. John Adams told John Quincy Adams "No man who ever held the office of President would congratulate a friend on obtaining it. He will make one man ungrateful, and a hundred men his enemies, for every office he can bestow."

It is hard to imagine how hard this job would be, you would be being pulled in a million different directions from every advisor, friend, and enemy. The weight of your decisions would have to haunt your every waking moment, no wonder we watch them age so.

However there are some awesome perks, you may only make 400,000.00/year for a job that in the private sector would pay millions, but your lifestyle would be one of the richest in the world. Nice home, great vacation spot at Camp David, private jumbo jets, helicopters, on and on and on. Who wouldn't like the deference you are afforded the power and celebrity that all is part of the package. But with the weight of the world on your shoulders, I am sure that you would be very pleased to finish your term and get out of the pressure cooker.

From watching Barrack Obama and how he is handling his Presidency, I have to say, I want to be Obama! He is truly enjoying all the perks, flying all over the world visiting and being wined and dined, going on multi-million dollar dates with his wife, playing golf, on and on.

In fact Playing is the best description of Obama's presidency, he is enjoying the perks and the play, but seems distant and unaffected by the work. He doesn't talk to his generals running his wars, he doesn't seem to pay much attention to the economy, he doesn't seem to care about what the unemployment rate or what direction it goes, he doesn't seem to care about much of anything but getting his pet programs in place.

He spends almost all his work time in campaign mode, in his comfort zone. Even when he campaigns his programs he only speaks to hand picked friendly crowds who are guaranteed to adore him, he won't do interviews with any journalists that doesn't pay homage at his feet. He lives in a protected cocoon where only those who sing his praises are allowed to enter.

If you didn't care about your military, even if they win or lose a war, how many die, or for what it takes a lot of pressure off.

If you didn't care what happened to Americans, their jobs and their futures, in fact the worse it gets for Americans the easier it would be to get them to let you put your programs in place, it has to make it less stressful.

If you didn't care about American sovereignty, safety, and standing in the world, it would be easier to not worry about making mistakes that can destroy America.

When you even don't care if your Health Care program actually works or if Cap and Trade do what they are advertised to do, as long as they increase your own power it has to keep your hair from going gray.

If you didn't care if your own parties political future is damaged by aligning themselves with you and your programs that sure would take stress off as well. If you didn't care about anyone, or anything but you and your own power life has to be pretty stress free.

Obama simply doesn't care, he is Playing President, enjoying all the perks while we all twist in the wind. I want to be Obama, but know I couldn't ever be I was born with a conscience and a soul.

Monday, October 26, 2009

HSE Referendum

Dr. Brian Smith, Hamilton Southeastern School's Superintendent of Schools, was the guest speaker at the Hamilton County Division of MIBOR (Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors.) He was there to promote the November 10th, 2009 special election on the HSE Schools Referendum and their upcoming law suit with the State of Indiana. He gave a very compelling speech as to why it was important for those homeowners in his school district to voluntarily raise their property taxes the very first year that they would enjoy the new hard fought for new tax rates.

In his speech Dr. Smith spoke of his concern for the budget cuts costing up to 60 teachers positions increasing class sizes for the elementary kids from around 24 to 30 or even more. He spoke to studies on how if children are not fully integrated to become readers by third grade that they never catch up. He made the point that "from grades 1-3 they are learning to read, and from then on they are reading to learn."

One of the things he mentioned was that he has had a very difficult time getting in front of people to explain his proposals since the meetings he has attended to present this referendum were very scantily attended, unlike the swine flu meetings that overflowed. Dr. Smith made slightly veiled threats that one of the places that they may have to cut would be High School athletics, including possibly football. He suggested if he made that proposal he would expect a much larger crowd attending the meetings.

Let me first state that I have no intention of taking sides on this issue, I don't have children in the HSE school district, and I don't own property there. While I may have ideological preferences, this is something that those involved should decide. My goal here is to present information to help make those decisions, and maybe through in an editorial comment on the concept in general.

Some of the ironies that he pointed out in the way the Indiana Legislator distributes funds to school systems was that the more a school system grows and the higher the test scores the less the State allows for each student. Conversely for schools that are failing and have an ever decreasing enrollment the State gives more per student. This is a formula that rewards failure while punishing success. Hamilton Southeastern Schools are suing the State for this system. He claims that if they win this suit that they would "voluntarily" end the referendum and stop taking the excess funds. I would question this without a legal binding contract saying that and not leaving it to their good intentions.

Over the past ten years HSE has had a 136% increase in student enrollment, and a 127% increase in teachers and a 95% increase in administration staff. When you compare HSE's ratio of 160:1 of student's to licensed employee to Noblesville's 137:1, Lawrence Twnp's 110:1, Carmel's 74:1, IPS's 48:1, and Gary's 45:1 you can see that they are already stretching their resources.

The State's General Fund is distributed to school systems in a most interesting and inequitable way. Once again, dropping enrollment and failing scores increase the state money while high scores and growing populations bring less. The legislators are telling them that they believe that students whose parents make more money need less of their tax dollars distributed to them to succeed. To give you an example the State gives Gary Schools 10,000.00/student where HSE is given 5,800.00/student, HSE is asking for about 500.00 more per student.

There is, according to Dr. Smith, a 5 million dollar structural deficit. This comes after the district already made up 3.3 million in reductions for the 2009-2010 school year. To close this 5 million dollar gap with more reductions would require extreme measures, such as cutting another 50-60 teachers.

Hamilton Southeastern is trying to close that budget deficit for year 2010-2011 with a 5.5 million dollar referendum. State laws permit a community to raise funds through property taxes by passing a referendum with an election. This referendum, by law, would be in effect for seven years, paying mostly teacher's salaries with an additional 5.5 million dollars each year for the next seven years. The special election will cost HSE Schools around 50,000.00 to 60,000.00 since it isn't run during a normal election day cycle.

What effect would this have on home owner's property taxes? It would raise them about 11.00/year for a 100,000.00 home, 44.00/yr for a 250,000.00 home, and 75.00/yr for a 400,000.00 home. This of course would be a property tax increase the very first year that Governor Daniel's new 1% tax rate would go into effect. Something that should be considered is how hard it was to get the state to work out the reduced tax rates. If you add this little bit, then the police dept, does a referendum, then the fire dept. then park dept, etc, tax rates are soaring once again. Be careful opening the gate.

Dr. Smith also mentioned that it is against Indiana law for funds allocated for buildings to be used for salaries, so cutting costs in the buildings wouldn't solve this issue. However, I would have to ask, if the cost of buildings were reduced significantly couldn't the overall costs be shifted maybe even at legislative level. I question why we must keep building these temples of excess as our schools? Why not copy the trend we see the mega-churches are building with glorified pole barns, they are functional, last with low cost to maintain, and while more modest, cost a great deal less. It would seem to me that the lower the costs in total, the more that can be directed toward actual education.

Further could this be an argument for a school voucher system? Why not stop paying nearly 10,000.00 per student in failing school systems, and only half that in successful schools? Why not find a middle ground in a voucher where parents can take their kids to whatever school they want and not trap their kids in bad schools? If we open the educational factory systems to true free market competition, even allowing those vouchers to go to private as well as public schools. If this was done the competition would reduce overall costs and would improve educational results. If a school wasn't working parents would take their kids out and move them where it is.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Obama Learned His Lessons Well.

As we watch how his White House deals with critics either in the media, or from the people at large, we learn how well Obama has learned his lessons from his long history of being taught and then teaching Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals."

"Obama learned his lesson well. I am proud to see that my father's model for organizing is being applied successfully beyond local community organizing to affect the Democratic campaign in 2008. It is a fine tribute to Saul Alinsky as we approach his 100th birthday." --Letter from L. DAVID ALINSKY, son of Neo-Marxist Saul Alinsky

"True revolutionaries do not flaunt their radicalism", Alinsky taught. "They cut their hair, put on suits and infiltrate the system from within." Alinsky viewed revolution as a slow, patient process. The trick was to penetrate existing institutions such as churches, unions and political parties. Do you remember Van Jones? He nearly quoted this in his own putting aside the joy of being an open revolutionary to be more effective by hiding his radicalism.

Barack Obama is an Alinskyite.... Obama spent years teaching workshops on the Alinsky method. In 1985 he began a four-year stint as a community organizer in Chicago, working for an Alinskyite group called the Developing Communities Project. Camouflage is key to Alinsky-style organizing. While trying to build coalitions of black churches in Chicago, Obama caught flak for not attending church himself. He became an instant churchgoer. Of course whose church did he attend but the leftist radical Rev. Wright's.

"he very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history... the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.” Saul Alinsky

Tactics as defined in Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals."

"Tactics are those conscious deliberate acts by which human beings live with each other and deal with the world around them. ... Here our concern is with the tactic of taking; how the Have-Nots can take power away from the Haves." p.126

Always remember the first rule of power tactics (pps.127-134):

1. "Power is not only what you have, but what the enemy thinks you have."
2. "Never go outside the expertise of your people. When an action or tactic is outside the experience of the people, the result is confusion, fear and retreat.... [and] the collapse of communication.
3. "Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of the enemy. Look for ways to increase insecurity, anxiety and uncertainty. (This happens all the time. Watch how many organizations under attack are blind-sided by seemingly irrelevant arguments that they are then forced to address.)
4. "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity."
5. "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage."
6. "A good tactic is one your people enjoy."
7. "A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. Man can sustain militant interest in any issue for only a limited time...."
8. "Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions, and utilize all events of the period for your purpose."
9. "The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself."
10. "The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition. It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign."
11. "If you push a negative hard and deep enough, it will break through into its counter side... every positive has its negative."
12. "The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative."
13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and 'frozen.'...
"...any target can always say, 'Why do you center on me when there are others to blame as well?' When your 'freeze the target,' you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments.... Then, as you zero in and freeze your target and carry out your attack, all the 'others' come out of the woodwork very soon. They become visible by their support of the target...'
"One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other." (pps.127-134)

"Alinsky's second chapter, called Of Means and Ends, craftily poses many difficult moral dilemmas, and his 'tenth rule of the ethics of means and ends' is: 'you do what you can with what you have and clothe it with moral arguments.' He doesn't ignore traditional moral standards or dismiss them as unnecessary. He is much more devious; he teaches his followers that 'Moral rationalization is indispensable at all times of action whether to justify the selection or the use of ends or means.'...

The qualities Alinsky looked for in a good organizer were:
Ego:Reaching for the highest level for which man can reach, to create, to be a 'great creator,' to play God"),
Curiosity: raising questions that agitate that break through the accepted pattern.
Irreverence: "nothing is sacred, the organizer detests dogma, defies any finite definition of morality"),
Imagination:"the fuel for the force that keeps an organizer organizing",
•A sense of humor:"the most potent weapons known to mankind are satire and ridicule", and an
Organized personality with confidence in presenting the right reasons for his actions. "as a moral rationalization after the right end has been achieved.'

"'The organizer's first job is to create the issues or problems,'
and 'organizations must be based on many issues.'
The organizer 'must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression.

He must search out controversy and issues, rather than avoid them, for unless there is controversy people are not concerned enough to act. . . . An organizer must stir up dissatisfaction and discontent.'"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Three Story Townhomes

After the housing market cooled, one of the hot new markets started seeing the turn down first, and is still pulling up the rear in the industry those three story town homes.

During their hay day there was a lot of talk, and questions as to what was the big draw to all of those three story town homes popping up all over Greater Indianapolis. Until very recently, I am not sure that there has been a very good answer. Now we see the damage done by too many mistakes by developers and builders as well, leaving them, and their customers holding the bag.

When the first community went up and sold well, most other builders took a "me too" approach and jumped in with their own versions to get in on the action. However, I don't think that any of us really understood what made them attractive, we all tried to work off of the old paradigms we used in building any community, to keep the land price as low as possible, to keep the overall price as low as possible, and worry about the floorplans. I become aware that was the exact opposite of what is required to build a successful townhome community.

I was given a great opportunity for me to get a real handle on the town home market. I was our contact person for any lead coming in for Gunstra Builder's community in Carmel, Monon and Main, and their newest one in Broad Ripple, The Townes of Winthrop until I turned them over to a sales person when they were officially opened. I then took over sales for their Zionsville community, Manchester Square, This enabled me to speak with more potential town home buyers than maybe anyone else in our market.

Through this one on one discourse with several hundred potential town home buyers it taught me so much that I really don't believe any builders, Realtors, or most clients understand about what the keys to success in a town home community truly is. I wish we could take credit for being smarter than most but the truth is I was able to just see a large sampling and was able to listen to buyers.

What finally drove the message home to me was another family vacation to Washington D.C., one of our families favorite places to go. During this summer where I was just dealing with all of these townhome buyers, their comments were rolling around in my head while I was on vacation. All of a sudden it hit me, one of the things we love about visiting D.C. is the lifestyle of walking out our rented condo to restaurants, activities, and the Metro to go anywhere we want. Rarely do we ever start our car again once we get into D.C., we walk or ride the Metro. That is what the draw to a townhome buyer, that walk out your door lifestyle.

It became crystal clear that while the key to all Real Estate is Location, Location, Location, when you are looking at town homes multiply that by 20. The overriding key to having a successful town home community is determined by if once you arrive home and put your car in the garage in the evening or weekend, you don't have to get back into your car to go to dinner, out to drinks, entertainment, shopping, or to recreation activities. In other words everything has to be within walking distance or the town homes aren't in the right location. I guess one clue is that the word Town is in Townhome, and they need to be in town not the suburbs.

The new (old idea) concept of mixed use zoning has brought the opportunity to live, work, have recreation, and social life all within walking distance. There is a connection happening with baby boomers on this that I think is happening at a subconscious level. It is like going home again, but not to any we have known since our youth. Where you knew your neighbors, had chats as you went about the community, you knew the local business people and they knew you. In other words, pretty much how most of us boomer grew up before zoning rules in the 70's segregated every portion of our lives, isolating people from each other to the point we live in subdivisions not neighborhoods. When people get a taste of this town home living it is something that touches them at a very deep level.

Of course a lot of singles, or newly singles with children, have gravitated to town homes, but also both young professional couples and empty nesters as well. Many thought we wouldn't see the empty nesters with three story town homes, but it isn't the floor plans that draw them to their new homes, it is the location, the lifestyle within walking distance. The young couples are saying that they want to "do this for them" while they can, before the suburbs and minivans come into their lives. The empty nesters are saying that they are "doing this for them" while they are young enough to handle the stairs and they are forced to consider a one story lifestyle. However, it is all about "doing it for yourself" if only for a few years.

What became clear is that very few people buy a three story townhome because they love the floorplan, they will buy one in spite of the floorplan if it is located in the heart of their desired lifestyle and allows them to afford to live in a very pricey area. The concept of building a townhome in a cornfield dooms it to struggle to find an owner, they might make good rentals if bought priced low enough though.

One word of caution to anyone looking to buy a townhome, or condo in today's market. Be sure that it is a PUD (planned unit development) and not a HPR (Horizontal Property Regime.) I will do a blog on this later in detail, it is just a great deal more complicated getting a mortgage on an HPR if the community is under 75% sold out.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Obama, JFK, and George W. Bush

Obama and his promoters are known to compare him to JFK, even going to the level of dressing and doing Michelle's hair to look like Jackie. However, I remember JFK, JFK was a president of mine, and Obama is no JFK. Below I will outline a major policy difference between Obama and JFK on a fundamental issue.

During a visit to West Germany in 1961, Chancellor Ludwig Erhard impressed upon JFK the idea of cutting taxes to create growth. Erhard instructed JFK to avoid the British model of high taxes, which had all but killed economic growth in England. This frustrated liberals in JFK's own party when Kennedy delivered a speech to the Economic Club of New York in which he rebuked the critics: "Our true choice is not between tax reduction... and the avoidance of large federal deficits...It is increasingly clear that ... an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough jobs or enough profits."

JFK favored tax cuts, but not to jump start the economy, it wasn't in recession, but to generate wealth that would produce more tax revenues. Put simply, Kennedy realized that government could grow with tax cuts if there were no corresponding spending cuts. This is where he departed from the conservative ideas of small government and reduced government spending to go along with tax cuts. He reduced the top tax rates by 21% and 6% from the lower income tax rates. He added depreciation incentives for new plant and equipment purchases, framed in Keynesian defenses. Yet it was pure Melonism: giving those at the top a large cut so that they could invest, start new firms, and add production facilities, employing still others who themselves would pay taxes. Critics typically called it trickle down economics, but it was common sense, and it worked. Over the next six years, personal savings rose from a 2% annual growth rate to 9%: business investment rose from an annual rate to 2% to 8%: GNP rose by 40% in two years; job growth doubled; and unemployment fell by 1/3.

Federal income rose, and Walter Heller, a Keynesian economist who had tried to talk Kennedy out of the tax cut, admitted in testimony to the Joint Economics Committee in 1977 that the tax cut paid, "for itself in increased revenues...(because) it did seem to have a tremendously stimulative effect."

This is the same policy that Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush implemented; Obama's plan is the opposite of Kennedy's, but the same as Carter's and Hoover's. Reagan wanted to shrink government but was thwarted by Tip O'Neil and then Jim Wright in the Democrat controlled House, Bush truly believed in cutting taxes to increase the government's revenue by growing the economy, but then using that money to grow government as did JFK.Once again, Obama is surely no JFK. The irony is it was actually George W. Bush who was almost a politically ideological clone to JFK. Even if you consider that it was under JFK that his Attorney General Robert Kennedy implemented a system to listen in on every phone call in America for key words, if these words were used it called for an audit of the call. This system was pretty much what we have lived with ever since until the Patriot Act where it was updated to be able to monitor foreign calls that are routed through an American server to monitor for terrorist activities.

How ironic that the man that the current liberals hated everything thing about, George W. Bush, was nearly a political clone to their own iconic hero John F. Kennedy. It shows how far left both parties have moved in the last generation.

Friday, October 16, 2009

You Know You're a Wrestler when.....

My son sent a funny email to me that is an inside joke to anyone who spent years of their life on a wrestling mat in a hot wrestling room. I forwarded it to others I knew who could relate. I then got to thinking of one more thing that can be added to this list that is also a very good lesson on how good intended government programs and laws have devastating unintended consequences.

You Know You're a Wrestler When....

Cauliflower isn't a vegetable.

You can't wait for Christmas...because you'll get 2 pounds.

Shoving cotton in your nose seems normal.

You wonder how much hair weighs.

The coach asks you to do 50 push ups and you think "that's it?"

You see someone bend over and you imagine how easy it would be to put them
in a cradle.

You won't even take a nap on your back.

You won't lock your hands when hugging your boyfriend or girlfriend

Your coach tells you "cut him" and a knife doesn't cross your mind.

You see someone lying on their back and you feel the urge to slap the ground
beside them.

Gyms look weird without mats on the floor.

You'll know exactly how much weight you will lose when you take off your

You have a black eye but don't remember how it might have happened.

Asics, Cliff keen, and Brute are more familiar to you than Nike or Reebok.

You tape your shoe laces before the Prom.

You have to go to the bathroom before weigh-ins, and the rest of the team
high-fives you because of it.

Every time you go to shake hands with someone, you have to fight off the urge
to arm drag them.

When you put clothes ON before bed instead of taking them OFF

*** You get angry when you hear the words Title IX****

This was that well intentioned law that while maybe successful for it's original intent, has had horrible side effects to men's athletics. Just last year under the Bush administration the College Wrestling Coach's Association had their lawsuit they had filed in 2002 against this law denied.

What is Title IX?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, renamed in 2002 the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in honor of its principal author, but more commonly known simply as Title IX, is a United States law enacted on June 23, 1972. The law states: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance..."

Although the most prominent aspect of Title IX is its impact on high school and collegiate athletics, the original statute made no explicit mention of athletics

With respect to athletic programs, the Dept. of Education evaluates the following factors in determining whether equal treatment exists:[7]

(1) Whether the selection of sports and levels of competition effectively accommodate the interests and abilities of members of both sexes; (2) The provision of equipment and supplies; (3) Scheduling of games and practice time; (4) Travel and per diem allowance; (5) Opportunity to receive coaching and academic tutoring on mathematics only; (6) Assignment and compensation of coaches and tutors; (7) Provision of locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities; (8) Provision of medical and training facilities and services; (9) Provision of housing and dining facilities and services; (10) Publicity. Unequal aggregate expenditures for members of each sex or unequal expenditures for male and female teams if a recipient operates or sponsors separate teams will not constitute noncompliance with this section, but the Assistant Secretary [of Education for Civil Rights] may consider the failure to provide necessary funds for teams for one sex in assessing equality of opportunity for members of each sex.

Three-prong test of compliance
In 1979, the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare under Jimmy Carter's administration issued a policy interpretation for Title IX, including what has become known as the "three-prong test" of an institution's compliance.[9][10]

Prong one - Providing athletic opportunities that are substantially proportionate to the student enrollment, OR
Prong two - Demonstrate a continual expansion of athletic opportunities for the underrepresented sex, OR
Prong three - Full and effective accommodation of the interest and ability of underrepresented sex.
A recipient of federal funds can demonstrate compliance with Title IX by meeting any one of the three prongs.

What has happened is it has simply become a head count quota program where the schools to stay compliant discontinue many of their men's sports programs such as Wrestling, Baseball, Gymnastics, Golf and others. What they find is that if they have a football team that has 83 players there are no women's sports that have that many athletes, so to offset the football program they remove other men sports to try to balance the overall numbers.

Washington article: Since 1979, the number of Division I programs has declined from 152 to 86. Division III programs declined from 150 to 100 during that same time. Overall, there were only 229 wrestling teams to chose from last year.

Of all the high school sports nationwide, boys' wrestling presently has the sixth highest total (244,637) of participants (according to the 2002 Participation Survey press release linked from here). There are a quarter of a million high school wrestlers despite the relatively lower popularity levels of indoor sports in states with warmer weather. Anyhow, elsewhere we have read that that's a record high quantity for humanity's oldest (and arguably its toughest) sport.

When Northern Iowa athletic director Troy Dannen announced he was cutting the school's baseball team to save money, he didn't sugarcoat his reasoning.
"From a proportionality standpoint, we're really not even close," said Dannen, citing the school's male-to-female athlete ratio. "We weren't going to look at a women's program, we had to look at the men's side of it."

The conundrum plagues nearly every athletic department that is contemplating cutting a team to save money. Although most men's teams tend to bring in more revenue, they're often the first on the chopping block so schools can remain compliant with Title IX laws.

If Congress writes a law that has the simple goal of making educational opportunities equal for women as well as men and it becomes a quota program that creates rationing and in effect death panels for college team sports, what will happen with something as complicated as Health Care?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ERISA Laws and Your Retirement.

Aren't you glad that you have a strong 401 k, or IRA so you don't have to depend on Social Security? Do you have a strong one? Do you really? Have you considered how the ERISA laws are going to effect your retirement plan? Are you aware of them?

In 1973 when tax deferred savings plans were begun with 401 k, IRA, Keogh's, etc. were first approved, the IRS wanted to know when they would get their tax money. The deal was that when you turn 70.5 years old, by law you must start cashing in 8% of your retirement fund in each year.

Our society has been greatly effected by each stage of the baby boomers moving through our economy at each life stage. Now we get to start seeing the impact on retirement. In 2012 the first birth year of baby boomers turns 70.5 years old and will be law start cashing in 8% of their retirements, that is 2.5 million people! Not all will have investments to cash in, but each year after that will have another 2.5 million turning 70.5 years old and start cashing out as well.

What happens to investments when more people are cashing out than are putting in? That's right, it goes down in value. If it keeps going down in value, how long will the young worker keep investing in a program that is losing value? If they quit putting money in, your retirement savings free falls.

We, members of the baby boomer generation need to be aware of this math so we can take steps to protect our resources. With the obvious coming massive inflation that must come when the government monetizes all the deficits they are spending, we need to be in commodities and Real Estate. With current Real Estate values it could be our ticket out.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reagan Foreign Policy Success:

As we watch the tentative and indecisive steps in our current foreign policy under Obama where personal political advantages always trump America's best interests, it is good to look back on one of the most successful foreign policy administrations in any of our lifetimes.

Reagan dealt with foreign terrorists and usurpers quickly and decisively. Warned of a possible Cuban takeover of the little Caribbean nation of Grenada in 1983, he ordered in troops to thwart Castro’s invasion. When a terrorist bombing in 1986 of a West German disco frequented by American GI’s was linked to the radical Islamic state of Libya and its unpredictable dictator Muammar al Qaddafi, Reagan authorized the bombing of the terrorist camps. American aircraft also struck Qaddafi’s home, but the colonel was not home when the bombs fell. Nevertheless, he got the message, and Libya dropped off the international terrorist radar screen for the remainder of the decade. World terrorism fell sharply alongside the declining power of the Soviet Union, to the point where the number of reported incidents by 1987 was about half that of 1970.

Only in one foreign policy situation - removal of the communist government in Nicaragua - was Reagan unable to make the progress he had hoped for. The communist regime in Nicaragua under Daniel Ortega, funded and equipped by Castro, not only gave the Soviets a foothold on the Central American mainland, but it also provided a staging area for terrorist activities against neighbors, such as El Salvador and Honduras. Reagan was committed to evicting Ortega’s regime by supporting the pro-American rebels in his country, the contras. Congressional democrats had continually thwarted any assistance to the contras, raising fears again and again of another Vietnam. Despite Reagan’s concerns that Nicaragua could become a second Cuba, the democrats turned back several aid packages. Frustration over this festering problem mounted within the administration.

Later, in his dealings with the USSR, Reagan added yet one more strategic objective, known as the Reagan doctrine. Rather than contain the Soviet Union, the United States should actively attempt to roll it back. Freedom, he observed, “is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings.” He predicted that “Marxism-Leninism would be tossed on the ash heap of history like all other forms of tyranny that precede it.” I wonder what he would think to see someone so close to the presidency who seems to embrace that very thinking?

It was all that point that the new computer information sector converged with Reagan’s steadfast goal of defeating Soviet communism to produce one of the most amazing wonder weapons of all time. Perhaps the most amazing thing about it - the weapon was a space based defense shield called Star Wars - was that it was not built and still not been truly deployed, other than a test on a falling satellite. It did create the strategy used by President Bush to create a missile shield in the Chech Republic and Poland, the same one that Obama just gave away for nothing.

Computer technologies played a critical role in ending the cold war but only when they were placed in the policy “hands” of a leader who had the insight to use them to the fullest advantage. That leader was Ronald Reagan. In his first press conference, the president announced his opposition to the SALT II treaty, which the Senate had not passed in the wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Announcing his intention to rectify the imbalance in forces between the United States and the USSR, Reagan signaled to the communist leadership that he would never allow the Soviet Union to attain military superiority. It was a message that terrified the entrenched Soviet leadership. In one of a Yuri Andropov’s final decrees before stepping down from his fifteen year term as chairman of the KGB, he stated that the most pressing objective of all Soviet spies, whatever their rank or specialty, was to ensure that Reagan was not reelected, according to Andrew and Mitrokhin in “Sword and the Shield.”. Soviet resistance only convinced Reagan all the more. In short order, Reagan had authorized the construction of one hundred B-1 bombers, continued funding of the controversial B-2 Stealth bomber, commissioned a speedy review of the MX missile to determine the most survivable deployment disposition, and ordered the armed forces to deploy cruise missiles on all available platforms. At the same time that he ditched SALT II, Reagan offered genuine reductions under the new Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START), but movement from the Soviet side occurred only after the Reagan build up. Moreover, the powerful Trident submarines went on station under Reagan’s watch, and so, in a heartbeat of time, the window of vulnerability America found her self in under Carter slammed shut.

Speaking to the American Association of Evangelicals, Reagan gave it another twist when he told the audience that “appeasement is folly” and that they could not ignore the “aggressive impulses of an evil empire.” Intellectuals and the media were angered and dumbfounded by the speech, which was received quite differently behind the Iron Curtain. Two former Soviet historians later reminded westerners, “The Soviet Union finds life giving energy only in expansionism and an aggressive foreign policy.”

The “evil empire” speech paved the way for one of the most momentous events of the post WWII era. On March 23rd, 83, in a television address, after revealing previously classified photographs of new Soviet weapons and installations in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Grenada, and reviewing the Soviet advantage in heavy missiles, Reagan surprised even many of his supporters by calling for a massive national commitment to build a defense against ballistic missiles. He urged scientists and engineers to use any and all new technologies, including, but not limited to, laser-beam weapons in space.

A hostile press immediately disparaged the program, calling it Star Wars, but unwittingly the media and critics had only underscored the moral superiority of the system. In the movie Star Wars everyone knew that Luke was the good guy and the evil empire was a decrepit and corrupt dictator, much like the Soviet tyrants. Reagan’s concept baffled reporters and Washington liberal elites who secretly viewed it as lacking sufficient intellectual weight. Stu Spencer, a political strategist, explained why Reagan was at once so popular with the public and so despised by the chattering classes: Reagan’s solutions to problems were always the same as the guy in the bar.”

The Gipper had always viewed MAD as an insane policy. He told Lou Cannon, “It’s like you and me sitting here in a discussion where we are each pointing a loaded gun at each other, and if you say anything wrong, or I say something wrong, we’re both going to pull the trigger.” As early as 1967 he had been asking scientists and engineers about the technology of defeating ICBMs with antimissiles. He found support from Admiral James Watkins, the chief of naval operations, a devout Catholic who hated MAD and was outraged by a pastoral letter from the U.S. Catholic bishops condemning the nuclear arms race without ever implicating the USSR as its cause. Watkins and army General John Vessey were encouraged to get beyond MAD thinking that had shackled the USA for 20 years.

Kremlin insiders were terrified about the proposed program, largely because they knew it would work. Since the early 70s, Soviet scientists and engineers had conducted a dedicated program of testing for ruby quartz lasers and charged particle beam weapons. When confronted by the massive cost of such weapons the Soviet Union gave up on lasers in favor of blunt instruments like the single warhead silo buster missiles. The SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative) or Star Wars intended use was to render obsolete, once and for all, much of the USSR’s advantage in nuclear missiles.

Reagan and national security advisor, Robert McFarlane, both despised the MAD strategy, believing it was both immoral and destabilizing. It locked the country into a position of barely staying even with the Soviets instead of permitting opportunities to seek superiority. Once he and McFarlane agreed on SDI, it took only a year to flesh out and propose in a national policy initiative. Star Wars was an example of Reagan’s ability to grasp a big new idea, simplify it, and sell it to the American people with consummate skill. He wanted reductions, not limitations, but he knew that the Soviets would never negotiate while they held all the cards. Star Wars changed all that, literally in the space of an hour.

In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev became the new general secretary of the Soviet Union, and was immediately celebrated in the western media as a new type of communist who, journalist contended, understood incentives. He was lauded as a sophisticated and sensible reformer; however, he differed little from his three predecessors. He did admit that the Soviet Union was in trouble. A dedicated Marxist-Leninist, married to a teacher of Marxism-Leninism, Gorbachev had no intention of abandoning the dream of victory over the West. When Gorbachev ascended to power, he intuitively concluded that the last hope of Soviet communism lay at “Euro missiles,” and Soviet propagandists mounted a massive campaign to intimidate the Europeans into demanding the removal of the NATO weapons. Soviet spy Vaili Mitrokhin reported that the KGB was confident it “possessed a nerve hold on Western public opinion when it came to European attitudes toward the United States and NATO.

Still attempting to shape American public opinion, the Soviet supported and funded the nuclear freeze movement, which sought to freeze all new construction or deployment of nuclear weapons, leaving the Soviets with a huge strategic advantage. This included a status quo ante, that would return Europe to its condition before the missiles were installed. Virtually the entire European left mobilized, using massive parades and demonstrations to intimidate the NATO governments.

Reagan appreciated Gorbachev’s position, and he sensed in him a Russian leader who could actually be approached on a personal level. In 85 at a Geneva meeting, Reagan managed to get Gorbachev away from his advisers, just the two men and their interpreters and he spoke plainly face to face. Reagan told Gorbachev bluntly, “You can’t win in an arms race”, then he offered the olive branch by inviting the Russian to America. Gorbachev accepted, and then insisted Reagan come to Moscow. Meeting privately the leaders of the two superpowers had accomplished far more than their advisers ever thought possible.

Not since 1972 had a starker contrast been put before the American electorate than in the election of 84. Reagan’s conservatism had ridden a wave of triumph since 1980. The tax cuts had produced a tremendous boom, the stock market had taken off, and the armed forces were resupplied and rearmed. More important the nation had shaken off much of the self doubt that had lingered since Vietnam and deepened under Carter. Reagan crushed Mondale, winning every state but Mondale’s home state of Minnesota, and nearly won there as well.

The phenomenal expansion put in place by the tax cuts in 81 had produced astonishing growth. Contrary to Reagan’s critics, who claim the “rich got rich and the poor got poorer,” the blessings reached across the entire racial and class strata of American life. From 82 to 88; per capita income for whites rose 14% and for blacks 18% compared to the Carter years of 2.4% for whites and 1% for blacks. Black unemployment was cut in half under Reagan, with 2.6 million African Americans joining the labor force, and the number of black families in the highest income bracket 50k and over rose by 86%.

In 1987, Ronald Reagan while visiting the Berlin Wall in one of history’s most memorable moments, he demanded, “Mr, Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Monday, October 12, 2009

A History of Ronald Reagan’s presidency; Economics.

Today we see that the Obama administration is considering giving short term tax breaks to companies to hire new employees admitting that tax cuts create jobs and increases destroy them. Since they are suddenly open to "new" ideas, and since we also know that Eric Holder has people trolling Facebook, Myspace, and other social networking sites along with conservative blogs hopefully they read this one. If you do Eric please give this to Obama, maybe as the second president from Chicago he can follow the wisdom of the first. Hey Barry, here is a little history lesson.

Going into the 1980 elections, on every front, the United States seemed in decline. Economically, socially, and in international relations, by 1980 America was in retreat. Yet at this point of weakness, the nation stood on the edge of its greatest resurgence since the months following Doolittle’s bombings of Tokyo. The turnaround began with an upheaval within the Republican Party.

Since the defeat of Goldwater in 64, the American conservative movement had steadily given ground. Nixon and Ford, at best, were moderates on most hot-button conservative issues, and other potential republican alternatives to Jimmy Carter, Nelson Rockefeller, for example, represented the blue-hair wing of the country-club GOP, which offered no significant change in philosophy from Jimmy Carter’s. Then onto the scene came a sixty-nine-year-old former actor Goldwaterite, and governor of California, Ronald Reagan. At one time a New Deal Democrat, who had voted for FDR four times. Reagan was found of saying that he “didn’t leave the democrat party, it left me.” Reagan contented that the liberals of the 70’s had abandoned the principles that made up the democrat party of JFK and Harry Truman, and that those principles - anticommunism, a growing economy for middle class Americans, and the rule of law, were more in line with the post-Nixon republican party.

Born in Illinois, he was the first president ever to have lived in Chicago, Reagan created an alter ego for himself with his portrayal of Notre Dame Football player George Gipp in “Knute Rockne, All American” in 1940, where he immortalized the line “Go out there and win one for the Gipper. When he was a student at Eureka College, he led a successful student strike aimed at restoring faculty members whom the school had fired, which later gave him the distinction of having been the only U.S. president to have led a student protest march. He headed the Screen Actors Guild in 1947, the Hollywood labor union for motion picture artists, energetically working to excise communists from its ranks, while at the same time endeavoring to clear the names of noncommunist who had been unfairly targeted by the FBI or HUAC. Just as the student strike had made him unique, the union experience marked him the only 20th century American president to have served in a union position.

In the general election campaign, Reagan ran on 3 simple promises: he would revive the economy through tax cuts and deregulation, cutting the size of government; he would wage the cold war with renewed vigor, and he would address the nation’s energy problems by seeking market solutions. He mollified moderates by naming George H. W. Bush, former CIA director, as his running mate. Turning Carter’s own once winning question around on Carter, the Gipper asked, “Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?” He also dusted off the misery index, which had risen sharply under Carter. Short term interest rates, which had stood at 5.35% when Carter took office, had more than doubled to 12.29% in 1980.

On election eve, despite surveys showing Reagan trailing Carter, Reagan won so easily that the stunned democrats conceded the campaign while the polls were still open in California. Reagan carried the Electoral College 489-49, the most stunning and overwhelming loss for an incumbent since Hoover.

Liberal textbook writers have endeavored to distort and taint Reagan’s record more than they have any other subject except the Great Depression. They began by attempting to minimize the extent of Reagan’s massive and shocking victory by pointing to a low turnout, which in fact had been exacerbated by massive drives by liberals to register voters who in fact had no intention of ever voting.

Reagan was in fact widely read and perceptive too, in 1981, he had latched on to a path breaking book by George Gilder, “Wealth & Poverty,” which to the lament of mainstream academics, turned the economic world upside down with it’s supply side doctrine and stunning insights.

The Reagan Revolution shocked the FDR coalition to its roots. Even unions started to splinter over supporting some of Reagan’s proposals, and although publicly the democrats downplayed the extent of damage, privately democrat party strategist Al From was so shaken the he initiated a study to determine if Reagan was a fluke or if a broad transformation of the electorate had started to occur. He did not like the answers.

Going in, Reagan knew fixing more than a decade’s worth of mismanagement in energy, monetary policy, national security, and others areas of neglect would be a long-term process. It required a policy style that didn’t veer from crisis to crisis, but held firm to conservative principles, even when it meant disregarding short-term pain. Equally important, it meant that Reagan had to ditch the Carter “malaise” that hung over the nation like a blanket and replace it with the old-fashioned can-do optimism that was inherently Reaganesque.

The Gipper accomplished this by refusing to engage in Beltway battles with reporters, or even democrats on a personal basis. He completely ignored the press, especially when it was critical. Laughing and joking with democrats, he kept their ideology, which he strenuously opposed, separate from the people themselves. These characteristics made it intensely difficult even for Washington reporters and die-hard democrats to dislike him.

Reagan flustered his opponents, who thought him intellectually weak, precisely because he didn’t micromanage and thus devoted himself to the truly important issues, often catching his adversaries completely unaware. His grasp of the details of government, clear in his autobiography, “An American Life,” shows that in one on one meetings over details of tax cuts, defense, and other issues, Reagan had mastered the important specifics.

To say that Reagan had a single most important issue would be difficult, for he saw rebuilding America’s economy and resisting Soviet communism as two sides of the same coin. Nevertheless, the key to the second came from success with the first, reviving the economy had to occur before the nation could commit to any major military expansion to resist the USSR.

Reagan steadily gravitated toward supply side economics, touted by economists Arthur Laffer and Jude Wanniski, The supply-siders emphasized tax cuts to stimulate investment by making it more lucrative to build plants and start businesses instead of stimulating consumer demand, a Keynes and democrats had practiced for years. Cuts in the margin made a tremendous difference in purchasing and investing, the supply-siders argued, and the Laffer curve proved that tax cuts could actually increase revenues. It was a revival of Mellon’s and Kennedy’s tax policies, both of which proved extremely successful. In Reagan’s hands it became Reaganomics.

With the economy in such disrepair, Reagan easily persuaded Congress to back the concept, but he asked for an immediate 30% across the board tax cut, instead Congress, afraid of appearing to favor the rich, strung the cut out for three years in 5, 10, and 10% increments through the Economic Recovery Act, passed in August of 81. Spreading the tax cuts minimized the stimulus impact Reagan had sought. The economy recovered, slowly at first, then after the last segment of the cuts were in place, rapidly. Lower capital gains rates caused investors to pump money into the economy as never before; their reported taxable income soared sevenfold and the amount of taxes paid by the investor classes rose fivefold.

When the tax cuts started to have their effect, production, employment, job creation, and entrepreneurship all surged, soon achieving near record levels. True to the supply-side promise, government revenues soared, increasing by more than 1/3 during Reagan’s 8 years. Yet despite the oceans of new money and Reagan’s constant foot on the brake, government continued to spend more than it took in, increasing outlays by nearly 40% in the same period. To restrain spending, Reagan cut a deal with Congress win which the democrats agreed to hold spending down in return for closing tax loopholes, this in effect raised taxes on industries producing luxury items. No sooner had Congress closed the deal than it passed new higher spending, generating sizable, but not record, deficits.

One of the most oft-repeated mantras of the 80’s that Reagan’s military buildup accounted for the extra expenditures was utterly false. Military budgets did grow, but barely. Defense spending never much exceeded 200 billion per year, whereas social spending under the democrats consistently remained slightly higher. After Reagan left office, domestic, non-defense spending was nearly double that of the Pentagon’s budget.

None of this seemed to faze average Americans, who could see by their wallets that the economy was growing by leaps and bounds. At the end of 8 years of Reaganomics, America’s revived industrial might had produced 14 million net new jobs. This was nothing short of stupendous, given that since 1970, all European nations combined had not generated a single net new job.

Most of the “gloomsters,” as one economist called them, were stuck in the manufacturing mind-set, but even manufacturing had not declined as they claimed. Production as a share of U.S. GDP dipped in the 70’s, but rose throughout the 80’s, reaching 36.1% in 89, the highest level in American history.

Without question, however, America’s traditional heavy industry had been taking it on the chin since 1970, causing the formation of the word Rust Belt. While the rust belt suffered a whole new computer industry grew up. Silicone Valley took over for Detroit as the most important economic hub in the nation. By the end of 80’s it took half as much labor to purchase a gallon of milk as it had in 1950, the peak of heavy-industry America; and the cost in labor of a gallon of gasoline had fallen by 2/3.

The result of the tax cuts, therefore, was not only revival of the economy but also restoration of confidence in American productivity and purpose. In addition Reagan had mounted a strong counterattack on liberalism’s dependency mentality, cracking it with the assistance of “blue-dog” democrats who supported his tax relief. If he had not entirely rolled back government, Reagan had at least destroyed liberal assumptions that only a steadily growing government sector could produce economic stability and prosperity. Yet tax cuts and the resurgence of the American economy only constituted part of Reagan’s success.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize

When I awoke this morning to learn that Barrack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize I first thought it must be a joke, how could anyone in their right minds give any award to someone who has never accomplished anything but to pad his resume in his entire career? After I wiped the tears of laughter off my face, I realized that I had to thank Obama for giving me such wonderful moments of mirth two Fridays in a row first his snub on the Olympics, and then this absurd award. Not since Sarah Palin was brought in as the VP candidate were we shown so vividly how totally unaccomplished Obama truly is. Personally I love Sarah Palin, but we have to admit that her resume was a bit thin to be a VP candidate, yet with her resume exposed next to Obama's you would have to be a hard core Kool-Aid drinker not to realize she was much more experienced and qualified than was Obama himself.

As the day progressed and having thoroughly enjoyed the lunacy of this award I finally came to realize that there may have never been a more perfect choice to honor the origin of the Nobel Peace Prize than is Obama. Are you aware of the original reason that Alfred Nobel created the Nobel Prize?

We all know that every October all of the world’s media turns its attention to Stockholm, Sweden as they wait to hear the recipients of the Nobel prizes. When you hear the word “Nobel” what do you think of….. Peace.

Several years before his death, at the death of his brother, Alfred Nobel opened the paper to read his brother’s obituary. He wanted to make sure that the paper had done it correctly. What he saw to his horror wasn’t his brother’s obituary at all, but his own! The obituary of Alfred Nobel, the paper had the wrong brother dying. As he read it, he was further shocked to realize how they were summing up his life. They described him, accurately, as one of the inventors of Dynamite. However, they outlined all of the death and destruction that had come from the misuse of Dynamite. It dawned on him that if he died right then, he would be forever remembered as a man of destruction. So, he decided that he had a rare opportunity, a chance to rewrite his own obituary. He made a decision, if it was the last thing he did, he was going to change how he would be remembered. So, he created the Nobel Peace Prize.

He did it, who thinks of Dynamite when they hear Nobel? We think peace don’t we?
He arranged that at his death in 1900, his fortune, most of which came from Dynamite would start the Nobel Prize Foundation.

The Nobel Peace Prize was created by Alfred Nobel to hide his true story from history and to create a new image for himself. It was about style over substance, and about self aggrandizing himself building a manufactured legacy for his name. When we consider the origin of this prize who better represents it than does Obama?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Current History Lesson

It is interesting to read the posts on social networking sites, from democrats, libertarians, and republicans blasting President Bush. What is truly interesting is how much of the conversation by all of them is the regurgitation of media and democrat talking points that people on both sides have embraced and parrot. I will be the first to admit that President Bush was anything but a conservative, but once this current fever dies down and history is written on these years, it will be very kind to George W.

After the 1996 election and before the impeachment process had gained momentum, Bill Clinton stood atop the political world. He successfully claimed credit for reforming welfare and for getting NAFTA passed; and he had mastered the new political art of triangulation. Pockets of hard-core liberalism on the West coast and in New England especially, but Clinton thrived largely by taking credit for conservative legislation, such as welfare reform, passed by the republicans. Most of all, he pointed to the apparently healthy economy. All of these benefits fell on the obvious democrat nominee, incumbent VP Al Gore, who had easily won the democrat nomination. Seldom in American history had a sitting vice president lost during times of peace and prosperity.

In late 1999 a new star appeared on the GOP horizon, when popular Texas Governor George W. Bush threw his hat into the ring. The son of a former president, Bush or Dubya, as he was called to differentiate him from his father, had gone to Midland, TX, to Andover and Yale, where he admittedly achieved mediocrity. A typical frat-boy, Bush graduated and served as a lieutenant in the air national guard, where he flew F-102 fighter planes. He received his MBA from Harvard, the first president to do so, where he began to take his education more seriously. Returning to Midland, he attempted to make a career in the oil business, but it went badly, Bush and other investors had started a small company just as oil prices plunged worldwide. When his father ran for president in 88, Dubya worked on his campaign as a speechwriter and made enough contacts to put together a partnership to purchase the Texas Rangers baseball team in 89. Running the team as managing general partner, Bush later joked that his only noteworthy accomplishment had been trading home run star Sammy Sosa to the Chicago Cubs. In fact, he did an excellent job restoring the team to competitiveness on the field and solvency on the books.

After a wild youth in which he gained a reputation as a regular partygoer, Bush experienced a religious conversion in 88, later becoming the first modern presidential candidate to specifically name Jesus Christ as the chief influence on his life. During the debates with Gore, Bush handled the pressure by fingering a tiny cross in his pocket. Time and again, whether in the post election recount turmoil, Bush’s religious faith was front and center. He had become, easily, the most publicly religious president since Lincoln.

Bush and Gore finished a historically close election, with recounts, law suits, and finally going to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the hand counting process that Gore’s team was pushing for violated federal equal protection clauses because of the absence of objective standards on the dimpled chads and other ballots. Gore conceded, Polls showed that most people believed the Court had reached its opinion on merits of the case, not partisan leanings. Numerous media-sponsored recounts occurred in the wake of the election, well into may 2001. Most concluded that Bush would have won under any standard. A more ominous overtone emerged from the election. It revealed a divided America identified by the colors on a countrywide map. The counties Bush carried were colored red and Gore’s blue. Gore carried only 677 counties in the United States, whereas Bush won 2,434, encompassing more than 2.4 million square miles to the blue states of just 580,000 square miles. Most striking, with few exceptions, from New York to California, the entire map is red. Gore won some border areas, the coasts, and a thin line stretching from Minnesota down the Mississippi River. The visual representation of the election was stunning, with virtually all of the interior United States, or as the elites call fly over country, voting for Bush. It appeared that the democrats had been isolated into a few urban coastal cities, increasingly divorced from middle America.

Although, the transition was delayed by the Gore election challenge, Bush had his cabinet lined up even before the election. Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was secretary of State, and Donald Rumsfield, a former secretary of defense in the Ford administration, was tapped to be secretary of defense. Not only did Bush appoint the highest ranking African American in American history in Powell, but he also named black Stanford professor Condi Rice as his National Security advisor, making her the highest ranking black woman in the United States, and the first woman named to a national security position. Rod Paige, Bush’s secretary of education, became the first African American in that post. By the time Bush finished his appointments, he had more African Americans, women, and minorities in positions of power than any other administration in history.

Bush’s agenda of programs included a tax cut, partial privatization of Social Security, education reform, and deployment of the Strategic Defense Initiative, (SDI), Pressing ahead with his agenda, Bush advanced a broad tax cut plan to revive the economy that had started to stall during the last year under Clinton. The tax cuts involved a tax rebate for every American as well as longer term tax reductions. With support from several Senate democrats the package passed. An education reform bill also emerged from Congress, emphasizing teacher accountability and test scores. The democrats stalled Bush’s judicial nominations, effectively blocked any discussion of Social Security reform, and nipped at the edges of the tax cuts.

September 11th , 2001 the world changed. One of the worst days in American history, once again showed the metal that is in the back bone of Americans. I am not going to write the history and stories from that day, here, they deserve full attention and not to be lost in this study on George W. Bush as president, even though they are now as much a part of him as his own DNA.

As soon as the second tower was hit, and it was then known that this was a concerted terrorist effort and not an accident Bush and the Joint Chiefs of Staff immediately ordered a massive manhunt for those responsible. “We’re going to find who did this. They’re not going to like me as president,” he said. Bush was more blunt to Cheney, We’re going to find out who did this and we’re going to kick their asses.” That evening the president went on television to address the nation. “These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat, but they have failed. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America.”

Six months after the attacks, FBI agents, diplomats, and reporters produced shards of evidence that the United States had had warning about 9/11. Yet a memo here and a report of suspicious activity there, dropped into the massive pile of more than three million pieces of intelligence information accumulated per day by the CIA and NSA alone, constituted no warning at all. If anything, Congress learned that much of the information that intelligence agencies had accumulated had crashed into bureaucratic walls. The separation of the CIA and FBI prompted by the democrats in the wake of Watergate and exacerbated by a directive in the Clinton administration (referred to as the Wall Memo) now returned to plague the U.S. Intelligence services. Over the next several months, the Bush administration studied the breakdown in intelligence, proposing the massive reorganization of the government since the New Deal, highlighted by the creation of the Dept. of Homeland Security, which would facilitate information flow between the FBI, the CIA, and NSA.

Immediately after 9/11, the president still had to rally the nation, displaying the proper balance of defiance, sympathy, compassion, and resolution. Arguably his best speech, and one of the most moving presidential speeches since Reagan’s ode to the Challenger crew in 86, it was delivered on 9/14/01, designated by Bush as a national day of prayer and remembrance. One of the first things that the president did was to request that all Americans pray, and pray often, not only for the victims and their families, but also for the nation.

“On Tuesday, our country was attacked with deliberate and massive cruelty. We have seen the images of fire and ashes, and bent steel. Now comes the names, the list of casualties we are only beginning to read. They are the names of people who faced death, and in their last moments called home to say, “Be brave, and I love you.” War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.”

After Bush spoke to a room bursting with emotion, he flew to Ground Zero. He walked in amid the firemen and rescue workers he took the only public address system available, a bullhorn and began to address the crowd. The bullhorn cut out during the president’s remarks and someone shouted, “We can’t hear you.” Bush tried again, an again the shout came, “We can’t hear you,” at which point the president reacted on instinct, responding, “I can hear you, the rest of the world hears you, and” (pointing to the spot where the buildings stood, he shouted, “and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear from all of us soon!”

“It starts today!”

On 9/17/01, Bush met with the war cabinet, presenting the members with an unequivocal task. “It starts today,” he said. “The purpose of this meeting in to assign tasks for the first wave of the war against terrorism.” Bush had already solicited advice: “I want the CIA to be the first on the ground” in Afghanistan, he instructed: “We’ll attack with missiles, bombers and boots on the ground,” he concluded. As for Bin Laden, Bush told the press he wanted the terrorist “dead or alive.”

On 10/7/01, a massive series of air strikes in Afghanistan smashed mainline Taliban forces, allowing the special forces and regular military, who bad been airlifted in, to join forces with the Northern Alliance of anti-Taliban fighters, Code-named Operation Enduring Freedom, this was Bush’s “new kind of war,” lacking long clear battle lines and instead of using selected air power, highly trained commando and special forces units, and above all, electronic and human intelligence to identify and destroy Al Queda and Taliban strongholds. The UK Telegraph reported that a handful of U.S. Green Beret teams, directing air power before finishing the job on the ground, had killed more than 1,300 Taliban and Al Queda fighters. “You bomb one side of a hill and push them over and push guys the other way. Then, when they’re all bunched up, you drop right on them.”

Nevertheless, it took the press only a few weeks to flip from patriotic to harsh, with journalists invoking the shopworn “Vietnam” and “quagmire” lines less than a month into combat. Newsweek’s Evan Thomas prophesied that the United States would need 250,000 troops on the ground, the real total was 20,000. Terry Moran, the White House correspondent for ABC, dourly asserted, “I think the bad guys are winning.” ABC’s Cokie Roberts grilled Rumsfeld, claiming, “There have been stories that give the perception that this war, after three weeks, is not going very well.” In fact, the journalists missed the evidence in front of their faces. Once the war on terror had been engaged, it played out along the same lines as most other western versus nonwestern conflicts. American air power utterly dominated the battlefield, and as in the Gulf War, the “combination of the information revolution and precision munitions produced a quantum leap in lethality.” Small units of special ops troops on the ground guiding the bombing with laser targeting, provided pinpoint targeting to enable the smart weapons to shatter Taliban forces on the ground. War analyst Victor Hanson summed up the combat situation; “Glad we are not fighting us.”

The U.S. military employed dynamic, not static, tactics. An armored division might be used for one purpose, a smart bomb for another; Green Berets and Delta Force for certain tasks; air power for yet others. In many ways, Operation Enduring Freedom was even more successful than Desert Storm, routing the Taliban and Al Queda and searching them out in Tora Bora Mountains, where Bin Ladin was thought to be holed up, either injuring him or at least driving him further underground where he made no verifiable appearance in two years. The more subtle American financial attacks were shutting down much of the worldwide financial network supporting Al Queda and establishing a civilian functioning government in Afghanistan. One year after the attacks, it was thought that close to half of Al Queda’s leaders were dead or in custody.

Bush has promised to carry the war not only to the terrorists but also to “those who harbor them,” a clear threat to such Muslim states as Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Yemen. Bush made matters even plainer in his January 2002 State of the Union Speech in which he referred to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea and other “states like these” as an “axis of evil” that had allied themselves with terrorists. It was abundantly clear which rogue states were next on the 9/11 hit list. Evidence that Saddam Hussein had links to Al Queda terrorists, combined with continued reports that Iraq had violated United Nations resolutions requiring the nation to allow in weapons inspectors, made Hussein the next obvious target in the terror war. Soon, other nations were reminded that 9/11 was an attack on all nations that embraced freedom and democracy.

The results of the first year and a half of the war on terror were impressive but difficult to fully evaluate, given the secretive nature of man of the important accomplishments. At minimum:

Several hundred Al Queda were captured and interrogated.
Approximately two dozen of bin Ladin’s top Al Queda leaders were dead or in custody.
The Taliban were eradicated as the governing force in Afghanistan, and a new democratic government was installed. Schools previously closed to women were opened, and a spirit of liberty spread through a land that had known little before.
The FBI and CIA and allied intelligence agencies had successfully prevented another attack. Riady and Jose’ Padilla (the dirty bomber) had both been arrested before perpetrating any terrorist acts; several Al Queda cells (in Buffalo, Detroit, and the Pacific North West) were captured. In addition, British Spanish, Moroccan, German, and other foreign intelligence networks had bagged several dozen Al Queda suspects.
Millions of dollars in assets tied to Al Queda worldwide were frozen in U.S. and friendly banks.
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, Ramzi Yousef’s uncle and the tactical mastermind behind the 9/11 plot was captured.
In 2004, a raid in Pakistan captured one of Al Queda’s top computer nerds, Muhammed Khan, whose treasure trove of information threw the doors open to capturing dozens of cell members and breaking up a planned attack on the United States.

Many analysts suggested that the Bali bombings, the multiple attacks in Africa on Israeli embassies in late 2003, the Spanish train bombings in 04, and bombings in Turkey and Saudi Arabia in 04 indicated that Al Queda could no longer get through U.S. security and was therefore forced to strike softer targets. Of course no one in the Bush administration or in the security agencies of America’s allies believed the war on terror was over, but important inroads had been made into enemy geographical and financial strongholds.

Going into the summer of 2002, the Democrat controlled Senate, thanks to it’s one-vote margin provided by the defection of Jim Jeffords, had elevated South Dakota’s Senator Tom Daschle to majority leader position. With his slim margin, Daschle successfully blocked Bush’s judicial nominees, held up drilling for oil in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, (ANWR), and stifled any attempt to cut taxes or otherwise stimulate the economy. Going into the 2002 mid-term elections historically would go to the opposition and the democrats believed that they would pick up two dozen seats in the House and two in the Senate. However, the republicans actually gained seats in both houses of Congress and increased their state legislature gains by some 200 seats. The results was an unprecedented midterm elections. This feat was even more impressive historically because of the timing of the Senate seats, the republicans had to defend twenty, but the democrats only had to defend fourteen. In the fall Bush brought a war resolution to Congress forcing the democrats, including John Kerry, to put themselves on record as supporting it. Bush then took his case to the UN in a powerful speech in which he offered not one shred of new evidence against Saddam Hussein, quite the contrary, he outlined eleven years of Iraqi violations of the UN’s own resolutions. It was a masterful performance to the extent that it forced the UN to either act against Iraq or admit impotence and become completely irrelevant. The UN gave the administration a new resolution, and even Syria voted yes.

Unlike Reagan, Bush used his majority to push big government programs such as a prescription drug bill and education reform, signing the single biggest entitlement since the Great Society, the Medicaid prescription drug bill. He rolled back some traditionally liberal bastions, such as in the area of abortion, where his executive orders actually restricted abortions on federal property and with federal funds. In 03 he signed into law a ban on partial birth abortion, where the abortionist delivers the late term baby feet first leaving only the head in the birth canal and then drive a tube into the back of it’s head and suck out the babies brains. Later Obama came out on record that it was a terrible day in America that this procedure was no longer legal. What a creep.

Since 9/11, the administration had received information tying Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to Osama bin Laden’s terror network. Salman Pak, a training facility in Iraq, featured 737 jetliner fuselages that served no other purpose except to give terrorists practice at taking over aircraft. The Iraqi foreign minister paid a visit to Czechoslovakia prior to 9/11, where, according to Czech sources, he met with hijacker Mohammad Atta. There were numerous other connections. Bush and his team decided that it was too dangerous to allow Al Queda to obtain chemical or biological weapons that virtually all nations had conceded were in Iraq. Clinton and Gore both had warned of the dangers of WMD’s in Iraq. Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, however, refused to allow United Nations inspection teams to search his facilities, and he defied 14 UN resolutions. Bush gave him one last chance.

Behind the scenes, France, Germany, and Russia, all with powerful economic stakes in maintaining Saddam in power, sought to derail American and British attempts to establish a final enforcement date of Resolution 1441. Building a larger alliance of nations than even his father had in 91, Bush termed it “the coalition of the willing” on 3/17/03, Bush gave Saddam and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq or face war.

Bush launched a single intensive air strike against a location where informants had said Saddam and his sons were. Saddam wasn’t killed but instantly the Iraqi army began to behave as though it has lost all command and control. Coalition forces tore through Iraqi resistance. Never had so many prognosticators and journalists been so wrong about so much, the elite Republican Guard, which supposedly would fight for every inch of Baghdad, collapsed without a fight. On April 9th, in just over two weeks of fighting, mostly against irregular troops, American armor swept through the desert and into the center of Baghdad. Once local residents realized Saddam was indeed gone, large celebrations began, with Iraqis throwing flowers and cheering American soldiers with “Bush, Bush, Bush,” and “We love America!” That day, in what was sure to be one of the most memorable scenes in the new century, Iraqi civilians, aided by American trucks, tore down a massive statue of Saddam in the center of Baghdad, then proceeded to drag the head around town as people beat it with their shoes and spat on it.

Nothing less that a complete transformation of war had been witnessed by the world, which saw 20th Century mass tactics with ancillary large casualties replaced by a techno war of unparallel proportions. The United States and allied militaries added a new element of unprecedented levels of special ops forces used laser targeting devices to focus precision bombs so finely that there was virtually no collateral damage to civilian buildings or noncombatants. Yet the precise targeting was so perfect that tanks hiding underneath bridges were blown up without damaging the bridge above them, and Saddam’s main command and control buildings were obliterated while shops next door remained open for business.

Iraq was a demonstration on the “western way of war” at it’s pinnacle, or what one Middle Eastern commentator glumly labeled an example of “Mesopotamian show and tell.” The message was not lost on other regimes in the region or around the world. Libyan dictator Muammar al Qaddafi soon announced he was giving up his arsenal of WMDs. It was unstated that he didn’t want the United States to have a Libyan version of show and tell. On June 28th , an interim free Iraqi government took official control of the nation and Hussein entered pleas before a judge within a week. Within a period of two years, Bush had effectively cleaned out two major terrorist harbors, neutralized a third, and prompted internal democratic change in Saudi Arabia.

We won the wars but once again as we had in previous conflicts screwed up the after game just like we did in Afghanistan in the 80s while supporting the Afghans against the Soviets. Now once again we are paying the price for not finishing what we started well. If you read this to this point, you will see that though many on both sides of the political aisle like to beat up on President Bush, much of what he accomplished was quite impressive and history will treat him very kindly.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Death of Illusions

If Congress doesn't extend the 8,000.00 first time buyer's tax credit, or something equally effective to the market we will all need to strap things up a bit tighter as we start December. I thought of a talk I gave a sales team and thought I would share it with you. You might be very happy that you weren't working for me, truly I was just trying to help.

Early in 2007 there was evidence of a tightening new home market. With that I was finding that the sales team I was leading was split with five who were continuing to find good success and five who were struggling. As many managers I found myself investing more time trying to "fix" those who had fallen into a sales slump.

Of these many had enjoyed great success for years but had hit a proverbial wall. One night in a conversation with one of my past stars who had fallen upon a very tough time. What I realized was that this person had been a star throughout his entire career, he was a very good closer, and had always been stationed in a strong community in a very hot market, but had never had to sell through real adversity and had no experience in how to overcome it.

This helped me write my sales meeting for the next day. I went back to the office and wrote what I will show you below, and then prepared the conference room for the sales meeting the next morning. I took yellow police tape and circled the room with it, so anyone entering would have to duck under it. I then used it to make an outline of a body on the table.

The next morning I intentionally came in a few minutes late and hadn't alerted anyone in the office what I had done. As I got there it was obvious that there were some very confused people trying to figure out what might have happened, or what was going on. People were not sure if they should go into the room or not. When I got there, I invited them in and told them that they might notice the outline of the body, and that it was in advance of a killing, that I was going to kill any illusions that anyone might have about what it takes to succeed in this business. I then gave this talk:

The Death of Illusions

Today, my goal is to kill any illusions you may have on how this business works, and what it takes to succeed in it.

I want to apologize to each of you, I didn’t see what was right in front of my eyes, so I was trying to treat the symptoms and not the cause. I was trying to figure out how to instill the work ethic of a hand full of people on the team to everyone, was trying to figure out what it would take to motivate you to do what I thought you needed to do to succeed, but couldn’t figure it out.

There were comments made to me by several in the team that set off a nerve in me, but I still couldn’t really figure it out. I would hear things like “needing balance” etc, of course we all want that, but there are times, seasons if you will, that isn’t possible. The question is how to understand that truth, or when that time comes.

Then the other day, in a conversation with a sales person, it all came together for me. I was told that the current slump that the sales person was fighting through was the first time in their years in the business to have such a time. How frustrating it was, how you question yourself, what you’re doing, have you lost it, your confidence is shot, everything about what you’re doing comes into question. Does this sound familiar to anyone? What was said that I finally heard was this person has been in the business less than 14 years, meaning that their entire career was in an up market, never did they experience a tough home sales market. That is when I realized that the hand full of sales people who were doing what needed to be done, had all weathered such storms before, and the others hadn’t. So the ones who hadn’t simply didn’t have a clue at what level your work ethic has to be to survive if not thrive in a down turn. They simply don’t know where that other gear is.

What dawned on me was when you hear long time salespeople and myself tell stories about what it was like when interest rates where in the 18 - 19 % range, it probably sounds like your dad or granddad telling you about walking 5 miles to school through the snow, uphill both ways each day. Just one of those “old stories” that have no bearing on your life at all. Definitely not something you can relate to. Well, now is your time to live your stories, these are the times where you will be doing things you never thought you would to make a sale. Going the extra mile, and then some. I have told you about driving to Atlanta, Georgia to get one on paper before the end of the month once, that is a true story. To get that sale, that is what it took. Not long ago, I was offering to fly to Houston to write one in Hawks, and would have been happy to do so. You do whatever it takes. Success is built on inconvenience, not convenience. If it was convenient everyone would do it. See I was trying to work on the symptoms with getting you to read “The Go Getter” and watch “Get a Message to Garcia.” I wanted you to understand the work ethic required, but didn’t tell you that what has worked for you in an up market isn’t going to work now, at least without ratcheting it way up.

During good markets, we can make a very good living and coast, that is when we have balance in our lives and do all the wonderful things that brings. However in a down market we have to bust it. I was going to have my wife come in and talk about this, but she said she would be talking to the wrong people in you and not your spouses. What I wanted her to talk about was how much she and the kids saw me in down markets. There were weeks that went by where I had left before they awoke and didn’t come home until long after they were all in bed. These were the times Jodi was key to the success in our home, she was in effect a single mom, but she edified me to the kids about what I was doing, she set the emotional tone making me a hero not an absentee father. You have heard me say before I couldn’t have had the success I have had in this business without her partnership.

In a down market the work load is simply “whatever it takes.” If you’re smart, you will be going to a Real Estate office each morning dropping off spec fliers, then calling the offices roster that afternoon at work to see if they received the flier and answer questions, invite them to come out, etc. Then stay and call prospects on your follow up lists until 9 at least a few nights a week. In other words push yourself.

I remember in the last down turn in 90,91,92 there were a lot of very good sales people who got out of the business, they had been successful between the mid 80’s and then, but started doubting themselves, the business, their builders, everything, until they no longer were in the business. The only problem that they had was they didn’t know how hard they would have to work to get through it, and they frankly were spoiled and lazy, but didn’t know it. Most of the people who survive or thrive in a down turn got in the business during a downturn and learned to work at that time. Very few who get in during good times make the transition, if you are one, I challenge you to make the change mentally to fight hard enough to make it happen. Anyone can do it, it just takes that old fashioned work ethic spoken of in The Go Getter.

One of my biggest fears as a father was how to teach my kids a proper work ethic, not the ones I see that most people have, but the old fashioned one. I grew up on a farm, and didn’t know how to reproduce that for them. My dad had me working for as long as I can remember, I know at 6 I was driving tractors in the field on my own all day. On a livestock farm, it meant that on Sundays or Christmas, whatever, we only had to work maybe 3 or 4 hours in the morning and again in the evening, and didn’t have to work all day like normal. The animals didn’t care if it was Christmas, or if we were sick, they still wanted to eat, drink, have warm bedding, and if they were sick or having babies needed us there to care for them. Growing up like that, I was concerned how to keep my kids from becoming soft.

When it comes to your work in the models, your job description is WHATEVER IT TAKES. Keep in mind, if you are only working the posted model hours you are really nothing more than an overpaid assistant, and I would be better off having an assistant in that model reporting to a sales person who was doing WHATEVER IT TAKES.

I believe in each and everyone of you, or you wouldn’t be here. I believe that you can do this, if you want to, if you aren’t willing to let me know. But now you know what it is going to take, there is no illusion that the work ethic that works in an up market will work now. So Go Make It Happen!