Friday, October 5, 2012


Ok, its time to get real.  I have really gotten tired of the distortions over Governor Romney and Mr. Obama's comments throughout this campaign season. Everybody reading this blog knows what each candidate means when they make a statement and what the actual contexts of those statements are. I am equally tired of the ads by both sides. Discussion should be on policy and what is best for this country.  The discussion should not be devisive, turning people against each other as it is doing today.

Yes I have an opinion and I am smart enough to realize that Governor Romney's depiction that Big Bird shouldn't be paid for with American Tax Dollars is a good visual to discuss government waste.  Come on folks, PBS will not die without federal tax dollars.  The real questions to be asked is - is PBS a critical government service for federal tax dollars to be spent on.  With a deficit the size it is, should we be funding non-essential programs such as PBS? How many programs does the federal government, the state government, the local government provide for that are simply not essential and should be paid for out of private dollars? That is Governor Romney's point and I agree.

The issue each of us should face relates to who is the best person to lead this country. There is a lack of discussion over policy in this country and a lack of accountability on performance. We desperately need, tax reform in this country.  The system is broke.  Tax increases or repeal of previously given tax credits and deductions is not tax reform.  It doesn't fix the problem.  Mr. Obama talks about wind and solar energy.  Who is talking about the use of natural gas and hydrogen fuel cell technology.  The environmentalist groups all talk about wind and solar until it is time to set up a windmill farm or solar farm.  Then the NIMBYs come out and oppose.  What about Healthcare reform.  Obamacare has not brought cost down.  The reality is it has caused everybody to buy into a broken system.  My premiums for my employees went up more than 25% this year causing me to shop for a new provider. The system that causes the costs to be so expensive has to be fixed. What about jobs.  Outsourcing is a fact of life in a global economy.  Why are we villanizing it instead of facing the reality that we are not educating our own children to take the jobs that are available. Yes, we have plenty of jobs (3.5 million reported this morning) avalable. We don't have a properly trained workforce. Why?  Yes I have an opinion and it relates to a lazy acceptance of mediocrity as a society.

As a business owner, Mr. Obama is throwing me a bone.  He will not increase my taxes as a small business.  Please sir.  No thank you.  Reform the tax code to where my business and I are not one in the same. Give me a tax code that encourages me to reinvest and not spend down profit so my personal financial position is not penalized.  Give me a tax code that encourages me to continue to take risks in order to create jobs.  You see, as a business owner, if I save money, put it in the bank, so I can invest in new technology or a new position, that may take a year to become profitable, that revenue is income likely causing a profit. If I don't have an offsetting expense within that same year, then I personally will be taxed.  Wait a minute.  I am saving money for my business to help it do better, to create a new job and it is my personal salary.  I never saw the income. No all this money the IRS said I made personally is a shadow.  Hum, what's wrong with this picture.  Mr. Obama has had four years to fix this BS and yes it is BS. Shadow income drives a lot of small business owners over Mr. Obama's $250,000 per year salary threshold for his "Greedy Rich  Person" tax.  A lot of good hard working risk taking small business people will pay the additional tax that Mr. Obama states will only affect the rich. No, he is wrong and he knows it, it will impact many small business owners trying to reinvest into their business.

We have serious problems in America that must be faced.  I am dissappointed however in so many people because they are not talking about the real issues.  I am tired of hearing Bain Capital demonized while supporting mediocrity and yes Big Bird.  I will happily give Big Bird some money, but if our country is in as bad a shape as it is now then I would have to say Big Bird is not an essential service.

What really bothers me, I do see real solutions for energy, tax reform, economic development, healthcare reform, education and multi-modal transportation. Its not rocket science.  It requires thought and people willing to step up to the plate to communicate and not simply draw a line in the sand.  Instead what we got was a no compromise down your throat strategy. It's time we stand up for excellence and not mediocrity, otherwise, my efforts and yours, are for not.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Its been a while.

Yes, it has been a while since my last post.  There is so much to write about yet I never seem to have my key board in hand to start entering the thoughts running through my mind.  That in itself may not be a good thing as these thoughts tend to create too many run on sentences and blended ideas.

Much is happening in the world and it usually is not pleasant.  I have gotten to the point that when I see a political commercial I hit the mute button. I have tired of hearing Mr. Obama bash business through his attacks on Mr. Romney and BainCapital and I am equally tired of hearing Mr. Romney's ads calling Mr. Obama a liar. Come on folks, wake up, we live in a world economy where the parts of American made automobiles are manufactured oversees and assembled in Mexico or Canada and Foreign manufactures buy their electronics out of Huntsville Alabama and assemble in Tennessee. And while I agree with very little of Mr. Obama's policies I don't think he cares any less for this Country than I and I don't believe he is a lier.

What I am most tired of is this myopic view of a Utopian life that isn't real. The Fourth Branch of Government (News Media) is so shallow in its understanding of what is going on with any issue it is no longer a trusted source for educated information and does little more than propagate the story of the day that will generate the most ratings for its network. This lack of depth causes me great consternation.  I see the problems and I see the answers and again, I am frustrated that others will not take the time to look. While we may not agree on how to go about a solution we can agree on the goal. If we can do that, just maybe we can come to a compromise on how to achieve the goal. It is a shame we consider compromise an art.   

When you point your finger at someone in blame, three fingers are pointing back at you.  This is especially true in politics.  We all want Health care reform but what we received through the Supreme Court Ruling was a mandate to buy insurance.  Hardly reform. Not once has any body tried to address why insurance costs are so high. We complain constantly that there are not enough taxes or there are too many taxes yet no one in Congress will take the time to determine if our tax structure even makes sense for today's economy.

Congress has as much responsibility for the problems we face in this country as anybody yet they somehow always seem to be able to point their finger elsewhere. The Ds have no monopoly on raising taxes and both parties have never looked at eliminating a program created by a prior congress.

We are a lazy country.  A country of complainers who have no clue at how good life actually is in  the USA. Our forefathers wanted us to participate.  We can't even do that well.  Its easier to complain and do nothing than it is to think of how to make constructive change and to find solutions that we can agree on.

Well, I have given this enough thought for the day and will think of something else to write about later.  Hopefully there will not be as big a gap in time for my next missive.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Weakening National Power

Peter Gillespie was my partner in my first business, an advertising agency in New Orleans Louisiana. Peter has lived abroad for most of his life in numerous different countries and brings a global perspective of life in France of which I am happy to share. ___________________________________________

The problem posed by the French election is how to reconcile French national ambitions and perceived global responsibility as a nuclear power and the world’s fifth economy with diminishing expectations at home and the difficult sustainability of the French social model.
 First though, we should take a moment to understand what the French understand as their “social model”. The French government does what it does in the international sphere to promote French industry and create national wealth. It sells Rafale jets, negotiates treaties, builds nuclear reactors and high speed trains and signaling systems. The fruit of this work is national income or the “common wealth” which is captured through income taxes (a regressive tax which produces a relatively small percentage of fiscal revenues), value-added taxes (a consumption tax paid by everybody across the board and representing the bulk of French government revenues) and property taxes which are collected by the national government but essentially redistributed to local authorities. (You should note that education, health services, fire and police protection are organized and financed nationally.)
The question is, what should be done with excess wealth? In other words, how should it be distributed?
Some say the excess wealth should be kept at home and used to “ensure the domestic tranquility”, i.e. support a 35-hour work week, retirement at 60 years and a high minimum wage, saying, “after all, we earned it”. These people do not generally concern themselves with paying down sovereign debt or the competitively of French industry. The other side argues that this national wealth be reinvested in promoting the productivity of French industry, and that the French labor, despite apparent productivity, has not worked hard enough (they are overpaid) or long enough (retirement should be postponed to 65 or 70 to reflect longer life expectancies).
I have no doubt about where I stand on these issues, except that Sarkozy’s flamboyance, his in-your-face style sends a message that quite understandably offends French sensibilities. (We should note that the threshold for being considered “flamboyant” in France is much, much, much lower than it is in Italy, for instance, where Berlusconi flaunted his money and virility to make a mockery of virtue and traditional Italian values.)
So what we have on the one hand is a socialist party organization that smells the blood of a wounded adversary and positions its candidate as the “mild mannered, nice guy next door” devoted to his party, best-in-his-class public servant and scorned husband to boot. (It does not hurt him that many French find his former wife, Ségolène Royal to be an ambitious “hussy” who lost patience with her plodding husband and ran for president herself.) Here we have a first reflection on how the social model is broken, or at least, “exposed” in an unwelcome way. The French genuinely believe in women’s liberation but found (in 2006/2007) the public behavior the Socialist Party First Secretary (at the time, Francois Hollande) offensive and demeaning of traditional gender politics and values. The Socialist Party in question is not offering anything new . It is merely old wine in a new bottle.
On the other hand, Sarkozy has governed well but the rashness and impetuosity of youth. In my opinion he gambled his political capital on reform. Also in my opinion, he won his bets. France is better and stronger for his first term (five years) and for his management of the sovereign debt and Euro crisis. But how much of this success is due to the man and UMP party faithful, and how much of this is the result of the inevitable, of bureaucratic (in the noble sense) continuity?
Unfortunately, the Sarkozy camp are discouraged, and two days out from the first round of the general election, don’t see their way to a clear-cut victory. And also unfortunately, the left has fielded two excellent candidates (in the sense of competitive politicians) who between them stand a chance winning over 50% of the popular vote on the first round. (Because they are two candidates there will still be a run-off. But if the left remains united that does not argue well for Sarkozy.)
The “financial” versus the “real” economy
Any analysis is necessarily a simplification, a reduction of complex processes to a single snapshot in time, and that, a snapshot described through the eye of the beholder, in this case your friend and humble servant, moi.
Since 1984 France has been reforming its institutions to provide greater autonomy and freedom of action to its territorial administrations. By order of size, these are, from largest to smallest, 27 regions corresponding more or less to the feudal divisions annexed to create modern France, 83 departments (sometimes compared to counties) set up following the Revolution of 1789 as the administrative units for implementation of public policy. And finally, there are some 36,000 cities, villages and towns, of which only 255 are “cities” of more than 30,000 inhabitants. It is in these cities that the “real economy” takes place.
The gutting of French industry by low-cost producers (read, low labor-cost producers) has a deep effect of the viability of these local economies in a globalized and globalizing world.
With the advent of consumerism (an economic layer predicated on the need to consume to ensure full employment and productivity), the disappearance of physical barriers (both transport and telecommunications) village and town communities are threatened with transformation as supply territories, destined for rural impoverishment by big city "consumption machines” that monopolize energy and concentrate resources to accumulate ever more wealth. We are talking here, about mega cities and urban centers, as well countries and ideologies.
Some on the left maintain that our troubles are produced by globalization and the blurring of traditional barriers. Others, mostly on the right, argue that the French are not sufficiently globalized, that France must defend itself from cultural and economic colonization, not by protectionism and introspection, but by offering new models of social organization, renewing the national capacity for empathy as a means to resolve persistent (and growing) inequalities, not only at home, but as humans. There is no turning back. If we are to survive as a species, to retain stewardship of the blue planet, with its oceans, forests, atmosphere and soils rich in diversity and teaming with life, we much propose new models of growth and social authority.
What does all this mean for the choice of candidates in 2012?The 2012 general election presents a choice between those who slow the pace of globalization and if that were to prove impossible, erect barriers to ensure that for them at least, the world would not go too fast and those who consider that liberal democracy is the way forward: On the one hand, reactionaries and would oppose modernization by obstructing, and on the other hand those who believe that for France and indeed, the world, the only way forward is through closer integration and improved stewardship.

States this way, the choice is obvious. But from a French perspective, looking at Sarkozy the flamboyant, man of power head of state, the choice is somehow transformed into a choice between
consumerism and family values, between the local economy which the French left has fairly successfully co opted, and the globalized economy and progressive colonization by financial, political and industrial elites.
The candidate who most engaging is Jean-Luc Melenchon. I think this is because he is an effective speaker, a performer with a populist socialist message. He is to the far left of the socially acceptable socialists and he is dangerous, like a bad-boy lover. One of the articles of his platform is constitutional reform, a 6th Republic. I cannot imagine that this would benefit France in anyway, but it is useful to think that the alternative to another five-year term with Sarkozy would be constitutional reform. And that is not an option!
Finally, and to his credit, it should be mentioned that Sarkozy has been open to shared sovereignty in areas that can no longer be successfully managed as national domain; the seas, the atmosphere and carbon entitlements, food security and water. Europe needs effective institutions, and the way forward clearly lies in strengthening these. The direction offered by the Sarkozy camp is the only way forward if you would live in the Star Trek utopia proposed by Jacques Cheminade (currently polling less than ½ of one percent) while avoiding the disaster of the shy, teddy-bear-like anti capitalist, Philippe Poutou (currently polling less than 1% of first round voting intentions).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Thoughts on Treyvon Martin

Watching the daily news seems an effort in self depression.  Each day more and more bad news fills the airways insulted with sloppy reporting by the Fourth Branch of Government, the news media.  With such reporting espousing belief through innuendo I find myself perplexed by what I hear and see. Recent incidents relating to Treyvon Martin typify sensationalism in reporting  and more importantly raise many questions as to right and wrong, prejudice, basic use of commonsense, grandstanding.

Was Treyvon Martin in the wrong place at the wrong time? Obviously yes. Did he have justification being in that neighborhood?  We may never know. Should George Zimmerman have stood down when told to?  Yes. Has the media taken advantage of this situation to benefit viewership?  Yes. Would this issue have been taken up by a special prosecutor if it had not been brought up by the news media? Unfortunately I don’t think so. Would George Zimmerman have thought anything about Treyvon Martin if he were a white kid in a hoody?  I would like to think yes but I am doubtful. Would the DA have brought charges against George Zimmerman if he had shot a white kid in a hoody? Here I have two observations, yes the DA would have arrested George Zimmerman and if he had not, no the news media would not have reported on it.

There are a lot of issues relating to this incident that are simply bad statements about society today and the third branch of government.  The first is yes I believe we still live in a racist society where people treat blacks different simply because of thier skin color. That is not acceptable and the discussion should be had in each and every household within this country.  Was young Mr. Martin up to no good?  We will never know because the police were not provided the opportunity to intercede and the question will always remain as to whether Mr. Zimmerman would have even looked at him if he was white.

I will save my comments relating to the Fourth Branch of Government for another article.  However, while the news media is responsible for bringing this issue to light, it did so without consideration for responsible journalism. There was a day when reporters simply reported the news and didn’t try to make up its own version.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

So much thinking.

Its been some time since I last posted my thoughts. Let's see, so much to consider. Punitive punishment against my Saints, VCU making it through the first round, democrats and republicans, vacation.  That is a lot to think about.  Unfortunately, or not, during the past ten days I have been away from my computer and my Blackberry is less than adequate for posting to a Blog.

During this time I have considered much and given much thought  to these bouts of wisdom as to what I might write on each and every topic. Yes, I have had much to say in this regard and have looked to express those thoughts so that Tom, Don or Peter could thoughtfully respond.  Yet, as I sit here today, pondering what wisdom I can share, I find myself unusually interested in writing solely about nothing. Yes, while I know it difficult to believe I find myself lacking in any opinion right now about with nothing I care to share and as such simply wish to see if I might wax poetically about just that - Nothing.

So as I and others ask ourselves why we are reading Bud's Blog in the middle of the work day, let us relax our minds and chuckle just a bit at the amusement of releasing our thoughtful minds to, well you know how this ends.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Whose not counted?

At Church today I met two very interesting people.  The first, a young black women in her thirties, looking to start her own business. The other, a gentleman in his fifties, worn face, long silver beard and hair. The Rector brought these two to meet me during the coffee hour as they both shared with me that Big Easy Connection. The conversation drifted to unemployment and governing policies relating to jobs creation. No, I did not push this but was interested in their thoughts. Yes, my new found friends, especially that of my silver haired fellow caused me to dig a bit deeper into my own mind as to the solutions for the issues of today.  This gentleman, down on his luck, simply getting by, wants to move back home to the Gulf.  Unfortunatly he cannot seem to find a job, long enough in duration that will allow him to make enough to move back home. I found my new silver haired friend to be of deep intellect, well thought out and guiding our conversation in an unexpected direction.  He, I believe accurately, placed responsibility for today's economic woes squarely on both sides of the political aisle. His observation was simple.  The work is there. Companies are ready to invest and hire.  The government won't release job creating work ntil such time that it feels the political environment will pay for it. Hum, that causes many questions.  Then my new found friend did the unmentionable.  We began talking about the unemployed that simply didn't want to work. He brought up a new class of citizen.  A person that just feels beaten .  Not unable to work, not unwilling to work.  Just tired and beaten.  They aren't depressed.  They are simply tired.  They have tried for so long.  They did well when times were good and they did well when times weren't.  Now that times are bad, they have been trying for two, three or more years, they are just too tired to try any more.  This is a subject I may delve into more over time.  It represents the worst in our society. You see, as society I believe we are looking for nice and easy black and white solutions. Oh and yes, we want those solutions now.  After all, we're in the internet age.  Everything is now. To bad life isn't that easy, and again as I say, the answer is grey.

Whose at Fault?

Watching this morning's news, reading the posts on Face Book and just listening to people's thoughts on the issues of elections and policy I find myself disappointed at the lack of thought people give to how we got here. We live in a democracy that requires people to act. You and me.  Politics is a participatory sport. It is not made of of politicians.  It is the people.  "We the people" - Yet, we the people, if we do vote, we don't call or write a letter expressing our beliefs. We simply point a finger of blame at the other side.  Well guess what. Someone gets it.  Someone did write a letter or made a call expressing an ultra right or ultra left position. However, there is this large contingent of Americans today wondering what happened?  How did we get here?  We got here expecting people to act on our behalf without the benefit of our input. "We the people" have left governance up to s small contingent of LEFT and RIGHT extremist advising those elected to do the right thing. We have simply set-up our elected leadership to fail.  So instead of saying my voice doesn't count, take some time to express your vote.  Remember, before you point your finger to blame someone else for why government isn't running as you believe it should, three fingers are pointing back at you.  Be careful whom you blame.