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Archive for November, 2011

I’m sorry to say that the leadership (I use this word very loosely) in Washington DC is absolutely inept.  This so called super committee which was charged with finding a mere trillion or so in cuts over the past few months, seems to be coming up at the end of the race empty handed.  They were sent off to make the hard decisions that the rest of the congress apparently weren’t up to making and they still failed!  They all should be FIRED!  The government will spend in excess of 44 trillion over the next 10 years, and this group of supposed elite lawmakers could not come up with a about 3% in savings?  We are only talking 3%.  I’m sure that putting a little bit of pressure on every department in the US Government – including entitlements, the intelligent people who actually are working for America could think of ways to improve a process here, save a few dollars there, and get to 5% savings without a sweat!  LETS GET REAL HERE!  You can not tell me the government is running at its most efficient point at the moment. Simply by taking some actions to look at how we are spending money department by department we would find that perhaps, just from doing things smarter, we could eliminate in excess of 10% from most departments.

The Super Committee was a very bad idea.  It’s time for the congress to get to work to do what they are paid to do and get to the business of preserving and protecting America and getting our government in order.  Stop the petty politics, get to work or get out of the way.  The current administration is deteriorating our country and its time for real change.  We need a major transformation in how Government does business, and how its measured.  We need to stop the madness.

If I were on the committee, I would insist the Government freeze spending at 2001 levels.  Cut every line in the budget by 12%.  Each department would need to live within this 12% reduced budget by finding process improvements, head count reductions as appropriate, and potential changes in services provided.  I use 12% as I feel while there are a number of government agencies where process improvements could yield even more.  I also feel there may be areas of the government that may be operating at higher efficiency, and may not be able to reduce spending by as much – so maybe we end up with a savings of 9 – 10% (which is more than 3 times what the inept Super Committee tried to accomplish).  Each department then would be measured on productivity, and rewarded at some level based on specific productivity criteria.

Right now the government is running like a ship with the throttle wide open, heading into a pile of rocks, and the captain off on the deck politicking.  We need a captain who will pull back on the throttle and steer the ship into calmer waters.  We need a leader who will take charge and get America heading in the right direction.

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A little Monty Python humor there,  but really – after months of listening to the variety of Republican candidates, Newt is beginning to grow on me.  If you really take the time to listen to his rational thinking, you might just find someone who really is making a lot, and I mean a lot of sense.  While he’s been a politician most of his life, he is talking business speak – AND he understands the underpinnings of what could truly work in DC.  He has spent the past 12 years in the private sector running 4 businesses and writing a book or two, and his time in congress gives him a clear understanding of how to get things accomplished.

If you have an hour and really want to learn about Gingrich – take the time to really listen (Heritage Foundation Speech).  His application of lean six sigma principles to government is exactly what the government needs – and needs big time. I’ve personally seen the concept of lean six-sigma in action, applied in both the back and front office.  Companies like Motorola, Toyota, Danaher, and others who subscribe to a similar culture have consistently been successful.  There is absolutely no reason why the concept of continuous improvement can not be applied to government.  As I commented in my post of Nov 7 (Budget Cuts), the government can and must look to do more with less.  Listen and learn about what Newt is prescribing. There are not just two options – cutting spending or raising taxes – that ideology is leading us down the tubes faster than the sinking Titanic.  It’s turned into a political nightmare that has polarized Washington DC.  I’m in complete agreement with everything Newt touches on in this discussion.  The super committee is an abomination of our democracy – 12 out of more than 500 are tasked with coming up with  a few trillion in cuts – so what are the other 488 doing – are they really representing their constituents as elected to do?  It’s time for fundamental change in Washington– and Newt’s formula is rational – it makes sense.  I’m quickly becoming a Newt fan!  Maybe a Gingrich/Romney ticket?

This is the time to learn about who we might be electing to office – take the time to hear this speech.

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This post is being “penned” on Veteran’s Day, which also coincides this year with 11-11-11 (not really that big a deal people!).  I wanted to say thanks to my Dad, who served in the Navy during WWII, my father-in-law who served in the Navy for more than 20 years protecting our country, and all those who served in the armed forces and their families.

Why, as a peace-loving Nation, do we find ourselves in the midst of wars?  I talked a bit yesterday about freedom – and freedom is precisely why at times, war is a necessity.  There are ideologies in this world, that unfortunately what to destroy our freedom.  An ideology that outwardly wants to eliminate us.  We saw this on 9/11, and countless other times and places around the world as terrorism fueled by this fanatical culture attacked peace-loving people.  As Americans, we have an obligation to protect our freedom by taking a stand against those that want to do us or our way of life harm.  Yes, freedom has a responsibility that goes with it – the responsibility to protect it – and protect it at all costs.  America and Freedom are synonymous – we must protect both.

So why do we need to fight for others who are not free?  Two reasons –   First, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”  The opening to our Deceleration of Independence, our deceleration of freedom, says ALL are created equal, and if we believed in this so much as to create a nation around it, then we must consider this does apply to ALL.  We can’t stand by and let those who suffer and outwardly seek our help to continue being oppressed.  War is only the absolute last option – we, as a generous and wealthy nation have many options to choose to help the oppressed.  Second, oppressive ideologies can spread like cancer and must be contained or eliminated as they emerge.  Again, war is the last option, but we always should be prepared to make a stand for those who can not make a stand on their own.

So please thank a Veteran, and thank those who currently serve – because they have volunteered to stand up for freedom, to protect our natural given rights, at tremendous risk, and at tremendous sacrifice.  The men and women who have served and are serving tonight deserve our gratitude, our respect, our love, and our prayers.  Because of them, we get to sleep well tonight, we get to watch football tomorrow, we get to sit in a park in NYC and protest, we got to cast our votes earlier this week, we get to hug our children and spouse, we get to sit in front of a laptop and blog, we get to live in a country where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are OUR unalienable rights, endowed by God.

Thank you Veterans, and God Bless…

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Some food for thought – the difference between being in control vs under control.  When I think about what America has stood for over it’s relatively short existence, it’s been freedom.  What does freedom really mean?  Webster defines it as “the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : independence c : the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous <freedom from care> d : easefacility <spoke the language with freedome : the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken <answered with freedomf : improper familiarity g : boldness of conception or execution h : unrestricted use <gave him the freedom of their home>

I would define freedom as being “In Control”.  In control of your life, your being, your everything.  Being in control of my life means I also choose not to be a victim – I don’t place blame on others for the demise of my being.  When you begin to blame others, especially those who really have little impact on how you live your life, you choose to become a victim – no longer in control.  At the point you become the victim, you release yourself from responsibility of actions you have taken, or could have taken.  This line of thought continues – blame others, then demand restitution.  Wall Street is rich, they are greedy, so that’s why I’m broke – take money away from them and give it to me!  Let’s get the government to punish these greedy bastards.  So look at what’s happening here – instead of being in control, these people now want others to be under control (i.e. not free) because they were successful in building wealth.  What they fail to realize is that they are now also under control – all the hand outs allow the government to constrain (definition a) your choices – do this, don’t do that or we’ll take away what we are giving you.  All this just leads to socialism – big government, controlling your life, and in turn, controlling how you live (see definition b).

It’s easy, and it’s lazy to always seek blame for everything that occurs in your life;  fail a class – teachers fault; show up late to work – some slow poke driver; relationship falls apart – it was their fault…and on and on.  The problem is now people are wanting to place blame on their demise to almost everything.  I’m out of work because of Bush; my life sucks – it must be Wall Street; it’s just so frustrating, that no matter what happens – we immediately want to place blame on someone.

It’s time for America to be free again!  Everyone needs to look inward – are you in control of your life, or are you under control of someone else?  It your choice – and I choose Freedom!  Stand up and take responsibility for who you are and who you want to be – the possibilities in America are endless – if you choose not to make excuses and blame others! Be In Control!

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The Super Committee is working on how to cut 1.2 trillion in spending over the next 10 years.  There is a group of 145 congressmen pushing for something closer to 4 trillion – what’s a few trillion among friends?  The one thing that gets me is it seems that quite often, when someone in Washington DC talks about cuts in the budget, they really mean we won’t increase it by as much as we wanted to.  OK, so I think I need to increase my budget say by, $50k, so maybe I should ask for $150k – just in case it gets the ax (or more appropriately, trimmed back).  I get cut back by , say 50% of what I asked – Great! I now have $25k more to spend that I really didn’t need in the first place!

This is absolutely crazy – and since we have a limited amount of true business savvy in the congress, or for that matter the White House, then our problems continue – with no end in sight.  It seems like with good intentions, a program is initiated to help a specific group of people – but with little effort to truly measure the effectiveness of the program.  After a number of years, it gets lost in the tons of programs added to our ever-growing government – and continues to get funded, and funded – without regard to any sane measurement of its effectiveness.  A program that is worth having, can always be made more efficient by employing continuous improvement techniques.  You CAN do MORE with LESS if you take the right approach and eliminate waste.

If we are to get serious about getting America back on track, to shut down the whining dribbles of the OWSers, to be the America we surly can be – it’s time for a radical change in three areas.  First, the government needs to stop adding ANY new program without an objective means test;  what is needed to be spent, and specifically, what will the return be – benefit to dollars spent.  Second, all programs currently in the budget, should be rolled back to 2001 levels and go through this means testing – any found below acceptable levels must be eliminated, or improved to meet an acceptable return.  Third – entitlements must be reformed dramatically – stop SS to anyone entering the job market for the first time.  Develop a plan to encourage savings though a wide range of investment programs or other financial instruments.  It is NOT the duty of the government to subsidize everyone’s retirement.  Implement changes to healthcare that will encourage innovation and competition.  Encourage a new national commitment to health and well-being and a preventative ideology.

On the revenue side – we’ll see revenue improvement just by getting government out-of-the-way – but there still needs to be tax reform.  Simplify the system, and make sure taxes are fair across the board. Encourage US business development by minimizing the tax burden on companies that generate significant US jobs.  Companies should be taxed based on their inefficiencies, based on their ratio of foreign to US payroll, based on their negative impacts to the environment.

My biggest fear is that the current administration is incapable of understanding the basic business principles that can get us back on track.  Obama lacks the critical skills required to provide the strong leadership that is needed to bring about the hard work to get the right things done.  Instead, he is running around the country, campaigning, encouraging the rioters (sorry, protesters) by his class warfare rhetoric, and at the same time, wasting a bunch of our money while he’s at it!

In order for America to regain its status as a nation leading the world in resource development, innovation, and entrepreneurship, government must shrink.  That’s all I have for now – more to come on this subject in the coming weeks!

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Barricades Go Down!

Just a quick update to the previous post on the Milk Street Cafe.  Bloomberg removed the barricades blocking patrons from getting to the Cafe – hope this helps!

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OK – here’s one for you…The owner of Milk Street Café is cutting back his staff due to the commotion caused by the OWS protesters.  His business is being cut off from patrons due to the police barricades and other goings on at Zuccotti Park.  While it is such a wonderful thing that Americans have the right to protest, freedom of speech, and so on – the blatant disrespect on how this is affecting the local businesses around the park is unfathomable.  The article at FoxNews.com ( Café Owner Says He Was Forced to Cut Staff by Nearly a Fourth Because of ‘Occupy’ Protests ) sites the Milk Street Café’s business is off more than 30% in the six weeks since the protests began.  Other businesses in the area are off as well in the 20% range.  The one thing I just don’t understand is what message is OWS delivering?  From all of the media surrounding this hoopla, the only take away is that there really is no message.  Some people are upset because they are out of work and are having difficulty finding something to do; others believe that we must become a socialist society; others are most likely encouraged to spend a few shifts down at these protests from some liberal leaning organization who wants this noise to continue for political purposes; others are just frustrated, tired, and need to shout out at someone – anyone.  Given a 9%+ unemployment rate (higher if you really count in those who have just given up), there is a bunch of pent-up frustration that is being released in these Occupy movements.  If you just dive into the thick of it, there does not seem like there is any end game in mind – not like the civil rights movements in the past, not like the Vietnam protests of the past, not even like the Tea Party movement – Each one of those had a cause you could get behind – equal rights, end the war, elect a more conservative government.  What is the end game of OWS – re-distribute wealth? Kill capitalism?  Or let’s just muck things up for a while – and cost the taxpayers even more money on extra police support and clean up?  Epstein, the owner of the Milk Street Café said it best as he was indicating he didn’t want to blame either group (police or protesters) – he didn’t want to get in the middle of that, “but everyone should understand the consequences of their actions and nobody is” says Epstein.  Read it again – Everyone should understand the consequences of their actions and NOBODY IS!  See my previous entry – everyone is a victim – someone else is to blame….need I say more!  I hope Mr. Trump can talk some sense into the city officials to help clear out this area so the local businesses can thrive again.

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