My college roommate responded to the Dance Video with the best comment of the year:

“Thanks for the respite from current reality. I felt a strong emotional connection throughout to our beautiful human race and the good things we can do. The video shows us that dance and music are universal human needs that bring us joy and pleasure as individuals and as part of a group.

But how ironic that one of the video locations was Erbil, Iraq, where today hateful and violent Islamofacists are raping and killing the people, including perhaps those in this video, because they want to think and live differently and will not submit to Islam.

I hope our truly wonderful nation built by people from all corners of the eath “yearning to be free” will lead the LIBERAL (in the original sense of the word) nations of the world in opposing and expunging this hideous Islamofacist cancer that seeks to obliterate the natural human rights of all people. We must find the strength to protect our way of life using all the economic, political and military tools we have–without mercy or moderation. And we must stop telling these vile vermin, wherever they are in the world, that they don’t have to worry about being sent to Allah by US “boots on the ground.”

Thank you Mark!

There is enough sadness, enough fighting, enough bad news.  How about a brief break from all that with something truly beautiful?

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- Beautifully created and crafted by Matt Harding and Melissa Nixon

The following was sent to me by a friend.  I find it hard to fault.  It will offend a lot of my more liberal friends but I think the reason it will hurt them is they understand the truth behind most of those lines and are embarrassed by it.  What do you think?

 

“If we concentrated on the really important stuff in life, there’d be a shortage of fishing poles”
By Junius P. Long                  

Food For Thought
 
If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for being in the country illegally, you live in a country run by idiots.
 
If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion, you live in a country run by idiots.
 
If you have to show identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor or check out a library book, but not to vote on who runs the government, you live in a country run by idiots.
 
If the government wants to ban stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines with more than ten rounds, but gives 20 F-16 fighter jets to the crazy leaders in Egypt, you live in a country run by idiots.
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ThreeIdiots
 
If, in the largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not a 24-ounce soda because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat, you live in a country run by idiots.
 
If an 80-year-old woman can be stripped searched by the TSA but a woman in a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched, you live in a country run by idiots. 
 
If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more, you live in a country run by idiots. 
 
If a seven year old boy can be thrown out of grade school for saying his teacher is “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable, you live in a country run by idiots.
 
If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government intrusion, while not working is rewarded with EBT cards, WIC checks, Medicaid, subsidized housing and free cell phones, you live in a country run by idiots.
If the government’s plan for getting people back to work is to incentivize NOT working, with 99 weeks of unemployment checks and no requirement to prove they applied but can’t find work, you live in a country run by idiots.
 
If being stripped of the ability to defend yourself makes you more “safe” according to the government, you live in a country run by idiots.
 
If you are offended by this article, you probably voted for the idiots who are running our country into the ground.

As you will soon see, the answer is not simple.  The reasons are many and varied.  There is one reason, however, that strikes a real chord with me: the way in which our Federal Government buys equipment and supplies.

The $800 hammer  (and the $800 toilet seat) used to be the poster child of the waste that occurs in Federal Government purchasing.  Today we long for the days when our government could purchase hammers for such a reasonable amount.  I will explain with a personal story.

thanks to ips-dc.org

thanks to ips-dc.org

My company manufactures concrete mixers and batch plants.  The ones we make are small, mobile, and produce quality concrete at very reasonable costs.  We recently had the opportunity to make a proposal to the U.S. Army to build about 250 small (2 cubic yard capacity) concrete mixers.  We were pretty excited.  At somewhere between $35,000 to $50,000 each (pending the bells and whistles that the Army will want in the final accepted version of the unit), this contact could be worth between $8,000,000 and $12,500,000 over a five year period.  That would be huge for our small company.

In the real world, it would be our job to either convince the Army that we have a concrete batching and mixing system that fills the Army’s needs, or that we can build exactly what they now purchase but to a level of quality equal to or better than their current supplier and at a price and delivery that are better than the supplier of record.  That is the reason that the Army goes out to bid: to take advantage of the free market to find the best product for the best price.  Or is it?

In my view, the current request for proposal is designed to allow the Army to purchase from their current supplier (the easiest thing for them to do) while giving the appearance of offering the opportunity to others.  Let me explain.

Congress has written laws and the GSA (Government Services Administration) among others, have written administrative rules to ensure (the public) that everything the government buys is purchased at the lowest price for that item.  Sellers to the Government are required to show that they are selling at a price lower than they would to any commercial customer (for the identical unit  with the same terms and conditions).  In other words, the Government will get the best deal on everything they buy.  That’s the theory and the appearance of the purchasing system.

The reality could not be more different.  Rather than getting the best deal, they typically get the worst deal.  Why?  First, vendors must comply with  hundreds of pages of written requirements to be considered for the bid.  That sounds like an exaggeration.  The fact is that for this simple purchase of a single machine in a quantity of about 250 units, the “provisioning requirements” or rules and specifications that must be followed add up to 515 pages.  The description of the unit runs 41 pages.  The actual solicitation to vendors to offer product runs 112 pages.  The  Solicitation has some 22 attachments, like, for example, the “General Publications Requirements For Page Based Technical Manuals.”  It runs only 5 pages, but, requires that your manual must conform to very strict requirements for both style and content.  That style and content is further described in at least 72 other different referenced Federal Government Regulations and International Organization Standards, Specifications, and Regulations, most of which are tens, if not hundreds, of pages long.

Fortunately, Congress passed the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 to help reduce the amount of paperwork required by the Federal Government of Private Citizens who wish to work with the Federal Government.  One requirement is that the Agency asking for information from the public (like the Army asking for a complete competitive proposal for concrete mixers) must estimate how much time will be involved in the preparation of the required paperwork.  In this case, the Army estimates that there will be 220 hours of paperwork required to bid on this solicitation.  I estimated that for a first time proposer, like we would be, the number is closer to 1,000 hours.

So, I was discouraged but still saw the benefit of going ahead and bidding on the 250 concrete mixers.  I just had to find a professional proposal writer to do the paperwork.  We were competent to design, engineer, build, and test the equipment.  We just needed help with the paperwork.  Thankfully, online with the Army solicitation is a list of “interested parties” who have asked the Army to keep them informed about anything new with the solicitation – date changes, new or changed requirements, etc.  On the list of interested parties were 5 parties who listed their interest as professional proposal writers with government solicitation experience.  As a side note, 4 of the 5 were minority women owned businesses, but that is a different topic for another time.  I contacted one after checking her references.  She was in Atlanta and claimed to have written over a Billion Dollars worth of proposals.  Her bid to us was 2% of the total contract value with $40,000 up front.  Assuming the total value of the proposal was $10,000,000, that would be a $200,000 fee to write the  proposal for us.  If we assume that the Army’s statement (that it would require 220 hours to complete the required paperwork) that means the consultant charges over $900 per hour for her services.  By the way, we decided not to bid on this opportunity.  The paperwork, etc. has effectively weeded out the competition.

Who is to blame?  It is a long list.  Start with Congress.  Often with the best of intentions, Congress will pass a law which turns over administration to a bureaucratic agency.  The Agency wants to cover its butt and writes rules and regulations to implement the new law but which leave no chance for the Agency to ever fail to meet the requirements of the law.  It doesn’t hurt the Agency when it can show the GSA or Congress that it requires more personnel to write all these detailed rules.  More people means more power in Washington, D. C.  Is it no wonder that by the time we get the opportunity to bid on 250 concrete mixers, one requirement is that we write at least 5 different manuals for the equipment: safety manual, safety training manual, parts manual, field maintenance manual, maintenance training manual?  Is it  a shock to you:  That there is a “Publications Style Guide” developed by the Army which controls the exact requirements for these manuals?  That every manual requires a 12 digit alpha-numeric Technical Manual Designation?  Did I mention that this style manual is 252 pages long?

I’m sure all this waste does many things:  It probably makes the concrete mixer easier for the troops to repair and maintain without too much experience; It likely makes very safe and secure the jobs of the bureaucrats who write and update the manuals, the rules, the regulations, and who do the purchasing and accepting of government goods and services;  It makes the heads of the Agencies and Departments who do all the bureaucratic work more powerful as they have more people working for them.  It gives the Congressmen and Congresswomen the ability to tell their constituents that they have written a new law the rids the government of some evil, like paperwork, or failed purchases of concrete mixers.

Even the largest, most bureaucratic, and least efficient companies can’t waste anywhere near the time and money that our government does.  No wonder we have a huge debt.  No wonder our government can pay $800 for a toilet seat that you and I can purchase for $40.

 

I don’t like to just copy other’s work to this blog but this is a must.

Watch the 10 minute video then ask yourself:

Why is this not reported by the Press?

How do a President and a Secretary of State get away with lies like those exposed here?

Why is Congress not in the midst of impeachment proceedings agains our President?

How can Liberals, especially in the media, continue to hide this information from the public and continue to lie about it when challenged?

If anyone can challenge any of the facts presented here, please comment to this blog.  All I have found corroborates these facts.

Show this to everyone you know.

Comment to this blog if you have any idea how to spread this information or if you believe it to be untrue.

“Settled Science” is the great oxymoron of the politically correct movement.  I don’t say it belongs to the Environmentalists, or the Liberals, or the One-World Order folks, though most of them use the term.  It is a politically correct term because it it makes sense in no other realm.  The number of people and groups that accept Man-Caused Global Warming as “Settled Science” is very large and very disheartening.

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Thanks to rezn8d.net

Thanks to rezn8d.net

Science by its very nature is observation, experimental investigation, and above all, keeping an open mind to whatever might be the result of such observation and investigation.  Most scientists make their living by challenging what others before them have discovered or believed, not by running around saying, “Me, too.”  Saying that science is settled is just a political method to quell dissent.

400 years ago, Galaleo said, “Who would dare assert that we know all there is to be known?”  It was a great question then, and, is still a great one today.  Are we so conceited that we think we know everything?  Are we so conceited that we think that after millennia  of the earth warming and cooling in cycles effected by solar activity and natural cycles, that now, in the past century, man has changed the balance of all our ecosystems?

I would love to see the proof of  global warming as a long term phenomena caused by humans.  I would also love for humans to be humble enough to open their minds to believe that what they “Know” may not be so.

I’m not holding my breath for the Al Gores of the world to change their minds or their tune.  They have too much power and influence wrapped up in the myth that they have helped create by stifling all other voices on “climate change.”

This Monday we celebrate Memorial Day.  Each year we set aside one day to remember the men and women who gave their lives in the service of their country.  With its roots in the aftermath of the Civil War, the idea was to remember, or more correctly put, not to forget those who gave the greatest sacrifice that we might remain free.

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thanks to the Napa Valley  register-Jorgen Gulliksen

Thanks to the Napa Valley
Register-Jorgen Gulliksen

The secession of the Southern States from the Union was precipitated in large part by cultural differences between the North and South, principal among those being the issue of Slavery.  Over two years into the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in the then 10 Confederate States.  Many believe he did this to free up more conscripts who could join the North in the war.  Over 600,000 people died in the Civil War changing the lives of most families on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.  The cultural impact of memorializing that many people led to a day to remember all who have died in service to our country.

Most historians believe that the key issue for which the South Seceded was States Rights as outlined in the Constitution.  The South believed that the issue of slavery was left by the Constitution to the States to decide.  In any event, the two long-lasting results of the Civil War were the continued union of all the states and the ending of slavery as it was then practiced.  Since the Civil War, our nation has remained free through the efforts and lives of hundreds of thousands who fought and died in two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan among others.

So Memorial Day’s roots lie in the hope that we should remember those who died to keep us free.  For descendants of slaves, this should be among the most important of holidays.  For everyone who enjoys the freedoms of life in the United States, this is a day to pause and reflect.

Whoever you are, whatever your background or ancestry, the chances are that in your heritage there is a person who gave his or her life that we might remain free.  I think the least we should do on Memorial Day is to say a small prayer for those who have gone before us.  And, we should redouble our efforts to return to a Federal system that grants most rights to the States and leaves us free to do as we wish as long as we don’t injure others.

Happy Memorial Day.

A very good and long-time friend is retired and politically active.  He reads a lot, including a variety of views, many of which I am either  unaware of or don’t take the trouble to read.  Yesterday, he sent me a short description of America today.  I thought it worth passing on through this blog.  I apologize if this just deepens your depression over the state of our government.   I assume most of you are already in a bad mood since you are busy sending tax money to Washington to misspend on your behalf.

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Conundrum

As you know, the definition of the word Conundrum is: something that is puzzling or confusing.

Now that you have been reminded, check out the following email message I received today. If this isn’t confusing, I don’t know what is!!!

The six contradictions of socialism in the United States of America:

1. America is capitalist and greedy – yet half of the population is subsidized.

2. Half of the population is subsidized – yet they think they are victims.

3. They think they are victims – yet their representatives run the government.

4. Their representatives run the government – yet the poor keep getting poorer.

5. The poor keep getting poorer – yet they have things that people in other countries only dream about.

6. They have things that people in other countries only dream about – yet they want America to be more like those other countries.

And that, my friends, pretty much sums up the USA in the 21st Century.

 

A good friend sent me the following this morning.  For me it does put things in perspective.

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WWIITankManufacture

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Putting things in perspective:

March 21st, 2010 to October 1st, 2013 is 3 years, 6 months, and 10 days.

December 7, 1941 to May 8, 1945 is 3 years, 5 months and 1 day.

What this means is that from the time we were attacked at Pearl Harbor to the day that Germany surrendered is not enough time for this progressive government to build a working webpage to sell its new health plans.  The mobilization of millions, building thousands of tanks, planes, jeeps, subs, cruisers, destroyers, torpedoes, millions upon millions of guns, bombs, ammo, etc., turning the tide in North Africa, Invading Italy, conduction the D-Day Invasion, the Battle of the Bulge, and the Race to Berlin – all while fighting the Japanese in the Pacific were all done in this amount of time, but, our current government in a longer period of time can’t build a working webpage.

Three years ago, in March of 2011, I wrote the blog post you will see below.  I guess that around tax season I spend more time thinking about all the taxes we pay and where they go and why they are so high.  This post is much as I would write it today, except that I would likely have have added the additional costs to the city of “The Affordable Care Act.”   I think when I have the time I am going to make a long list of all the things government does for us  and highlight the ones it does better today or more effectively today than it did them 10 years ago.  Here is the 2011 post:

Here is a simple example of the changes that have resulted in an increase in the cost of government without an increase in services to the tax-paying public.  To simplify, my example uses constant 2011 dollars.  This is not a bedtime story and you may want to read it slowly.  You will likely shake your head slowly when you are done reading.

It is 1975 in Hometown, Georgia.  The Public Works Department of Hometown has 2 laborers who spend the vast majority of their time repairing and maintaining sidewalks.  Their total pay and benefits (adjusted for 2011) is equivalent to $20,000 each per year or $40,000.  The tools and equipment they use were purchased at a cost amortized over 5 years of $8,000 per year. They use about $2,000 annually in materials.  So, without getting fancy, Hometown spends $50,000 a year and the city has a nice looking, well cared for sidewalk system.  The 25,000 resident tax-payers of Hometown are pleased with what they get for the $2 per capita annual expenditure on sidewalk repair/maintenance.

In 1980, the City Council decides to save money.  They let both laborers go and they contract out for sidewalk services.  They budget $40,000 for sidewalk repair and maintenance.  Seven local contractors bid on the work.  The winning contractor has added one of the ex-city employees to his contracting crew and can do the job with existing equipment.  The contractor will just have to work a bit harder and more hours, but he has incentive since this contract will increase his profit by almost $5,000 a year.  The sidewalks are equally or better maintained and the City has saved $10,000.

In Neartown, just 20 miles from Hometown, there is a big scandal in 1982.  The Public Works Director is found to have given a sewer cleaning contract to his brother-in-law for about 25% more than the contract bid at the previous year.  In response to the outcry in the neighboring town, Hometown passes a new law that all contracts over $10,000 must go out to bid.  All contractors must apply and qualify to bid.

By 1985, the Public Works Director feels overworked and begs for help in administering City Contracts.  The City hires a Contracts Administrator for $35,000 per year.  The low bid on the sidewalk repair contract for 1986 comes in at $45,000.  The increase is due to the increased costs of the paperwork needed to qualify to bid and the increased number of inspections and specifications required by the contract.  Since the contract administrator has 10 major contracts to watch, we assign $3,500 to the cost of the sidewalk repairs.  Hometown is now spending $48,500 annually.  City savings have dropped to $1,500.

In 1988, the city’s employees are organized by the SEIU and the first City Labor Contract with the SEIU is negotiated.  Since the City is a bit strapped for money, it tries to hold off on wage and salary increases, but it does allow for a large increase in benefits and pension promises.  The actual cost to the City of the Contracts Administrator (her new pay grade is Administrator III and she now qualifies for a step increase because of her 3 years of service) with all benefits is now $42,500 per year.  The new contract cost comes in at $47,500.  Add to that the 10% of $42,500 for contract administration and Hometown is now paying $51,750 annually to keep up the sidewalks.  The City now pays $1,750 more per year than before and has accrued a pension liability for the Contracts Administrator that is equal to $4,250 per year.  Fortunately, City revenues have increased as property values have gone up, and, the pension liability won’t come due for many years.

In 1990, the SEIU opens negotiations with the City on its contract with a demand for a 10% increase in pay and benefits plus a simple 7% cost of living allowance (COLA) for each year of the contract.  The SEIU claims its demands are very reasonable since 50 miles away in Atlanta the contract is approximately 15% more expensive than the contract with Hometown.  There is a protracted period of negotiation.  The SEIU members are encouraged to slow their work down to put pressure on the City.  Finally after 6 months, the contract is settled and signed.  The City accepts a 5% increase in pay and benefits and a 6% COLA for a three year contract.  Part of the deal the City had to accept included hiring of an assistant (Administrator I) for each of the five City employees rated as Administrator III and above.  The Contracts Administrator is assigned one of the Assistants, along with his $30,000 in pay and benefits.  The low bid on the sidewalk contract comes in at $51,500.  Again, contractors complained about all the new requirements, the new inspections, and the costs of increased paperwork to do the job. Ten percent of the cost of the Contracts Administrator and her Assistant now comes to $7,462.50, not counting the ever growing pension liability.  Now the city is paying $58,962.50 for sidewalk repair.  Because of the slowdown during contract negotiations, repairs and maintenance are behind schedule and sidewalks are starting to show significant wear and tear.

The City does not have the revenue to support the increased costs.  The City Council debates four choices: 1. Defer a large part of maintenance and repair of sidewalks; 2. Increase revenue through an increase in property tax; 3. Add to the sales tax; or  4. Float a City Bond of $1,000,000 to pay for a number of repair and maintenance projects around the city.  The City Council determines that the most politically viable solution is to ask the taxpayers for an increase in property tax.  The vote is very close, but the forces in favor of the tax convince enough people to vote and the tax measure passes.   Tax proponents were successful in making the argument that the extra money will help the city keep sidewalks and parks and the library, etc. in much better shape thus protecting the City’s investment in infrastructure.  Among their strongest arguments was that this very small tax will improve property values and a taxpayer would more than recover his tax dollars when he sells his house.

Each ensuing year, with the increased costs of the COLA and new pay raises granted with each new contract, the initial surplus created by added property tax goes away.  Two years after the property tax increase, the City asks for and gets a 0.5% addition to the sales tax.  Three years later the City Council needs to further defer sidewalk repair and maintenance.  It seems the addition of the second administrative assistant to help with Contracts Administration plus the increased costs of asphalt and concrete have increased costs beyond the City’s ability to pay.

By the year 2000, the City, in a move to save money, consolidates all Contracts Administration under a new Purchasing Division.  All three Contracts Administration employees now work for the new Director of Purchasing for the City (an $80,000 job plus benefits).  The Purchasing department now employs eight people.  The new department finds time to write a complete new set of purchasing guidelines, specifications, and inspection requirements.  The application form to bid on City Contracts is now an 11 page document that must be notarized to be submitted to the City.  A $50 fee for submitting a bid has been added to defer the cost of handling the paperwork.  Four bidders on the sidewalk maintenance contract decide not to bid this year because they can’t afford the paperwork overhead.  Only the two largest contractors (both from Atlanta, not Hometown) are approved to bid and not surprisingly, the new contract for 50% of the work previously done (more deferred maintenance) goes for $75,000 in 2000.  ABC Construction, the winning Sidewalk Contract bidder the previous year closes shop. One of ABC’s ex-employees gets a new job with the City as an inspector for City Contracts.  He is hired due to his experience with sidewalk repair and maintenance.  Inspectors now make $47,500 a year to start.

In 2010, the SEIU and the City almost come to blows as the combination of higher union demands and lower tax revenues would require that either the City lay off 25% of its workforce or reduce pay, benefits, and pension contributions.  The SEIU leads its members out on strike.  It lasts almost a month.  The parks are overrun with trash, sidewalks go unrepaired, the city sewage plant overflows and sends raw sewage into the river.  The strike is finally settled and the City agrees to a “modest” 2% increase in pay plus a “reduced” COLA of only 4% per year.  To pay for the higher costs, the City must do as it threatened and lay off almost 25% of City employees.  The Council is now considering the idea of the Bond Measure to raise needed revenue to meet their budget.

Don’t think this could happen?

It just did, while you were going about your daily business.

So how do we stop and then reverse this?  Any ideas?

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