The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘hard work’ Category

GAMBLING WITH YOUR LIFE (PART ONE)

A  couple flew to Las Vegas to get married in one of the city’s many Wedding Chapels.  They were young, starry-eyed and deeply in love.  They were also prudent and had set a budget for the amount that they would spend on gambling while they were in town.

They enjoyed a marvelous wedding dinner at a five star restaurant and, afterward, before retiring for their wedding night, they decided to take the five hundred dollars that they had allocated for gambling and play some blackjack at their hotel’s casino.

Things didn’t go well.  The dealer refused to break and before long the wife had lost her entire stake and the husband was down to ten dollars.  Dismayed, they went up to their room and took solace and joy in each other’s company.

A few hours later, the husband found himself unable to sleep.  He kept replaying all the bad hands he had received at the blackjack table and felt sure that his luck was bound to change for the better.  So he got out of bed, told his bride that he would be back soon and took the ten dollars that remained, once again armed to do battle at the tables.

When he sat down in an open seat, he exchanged his ten dollars for two brown five dollar chips and put them both in the betting square in front of him.  His first hand, a winner – so he pressed his twenty dollars.  His second hand a blackjack, so he pressed his fifty dollars and let it all ride.  Another winner and another.  His little streak caused one of the floor men to come over to the table to make sure there were no shenanigans going on.

Certain that God was smiling on him, he risked his two hundred dollars on the next hand.  Another winner.  Soon the four hundred dollars became eight and then sixteen hundred.  Our newlywed was beside himself.

“If I just make one more hand I will have recovered the five hundred we lost, paid for our trip here and have something to put in the bank,” he thought to himself.  So he pushed out his entire stack.  At that point the dealer pointed out that the table carried a single bet limit of one thousand dollars.

The floor man in the pit had been watching the gambler’s run.  The player asked if he would raise the limit on the table.  After thinking for a moment, he agreed to increasing it to a five thousand dollar limit per bet.

The gambler put his sixteen hundred in the betting square and waited for his cards.  A pair of faces and the dealer showed a nine.  He tucked his cards under his bet and waited for the dealer to reveal his down card.  It was a ten and the dealer swiftly placed sixteen hundred in chips next to the original bet.

Our gambling friend was giddy with delight.  He knew that he couldn’t lose.  If he only won one more hand he and his bride could really start their new life together in style.  So he stacked up the thirty-two hundred he had for yet another last bet.

The cards were dealt.  Again he had a twenty.  The dealer showed a ten and had another one down.  Push.  The decks were spent and the dealer picked up the cards to shuffle as the gambler eagerly awaited his chance to cut them.  By this time a small cheering section had gathered around the table to watch his incredible and seemingly unbeatable streak.

The dealer presented him with the red cut card and he deftly sliced it into the two decks.  It felt like a good cut to him.  And the hand was dealt.

Once again, two picture cards for a twenty – and the dealer showed a six – the worst card for either a player or the house.  He was nearly counting the money as the dealer turned over his down card.  It was a three.

“Okay, get a ten,” he said to himself.  But the dealer drew a four for thirteen and had to hit again.  The next card was an ace for fourteen and then a deuce for sixteen.  “Hit a big one,” the gambler said out loud.  And the dealer took the next card.  It was a five to make a hand of twenty-one.

Stunned, the young man waited for the dealer to flip up his cards revealing the almost perfect twenty – and to put his thirty-two hundred dollars worth of chips in the dealer’s rack.

The crowd behind the player quickly dispersed and both the dealer and the floor man offered their condolences to the deflated gambler.  He was so light-headed, he barely heard them as he tried to gain the strength to rise from his seat and make his way to the bank of elevators that would take him to his room.

His wife was awake and as soon as he came in asked if he had any luck.

The young man said, “No, I couldn’t get any cards and I lost the last ten bucks.”

As you have probably heard, Las Vegas’ nickname is “Sin City”.  That moniker seems to me to be highly unfair and not truly descriptive of this little oasis in the desert, despite the fact that later this week we are hosting the annual “Adult Entertainment Expo” (a/k/a Porn Convention)..  So I am planning  on suggesting that we officially re-name ourselves, “The City With The Right Vision For The Future”.

As you probably know, Las Vegas has a number of establishments where you can gamble with your hard-earned savings, or for that matter with your EBT cards.  And making gambling available to one and all, irrespective of race, religion, creed or ability to pay your rent or mortgage or feed your children certainly makes us an inclusive dot on the map.

After many years of looking at people who gamble I notice several underlying threads that run through almost all of them.  Most are lazy and they want to get something for nothing – and if that isn’t an accurate reflection of the mindset sweeping the nation, I don’t know what is.  Given this mindset, you will not be surprised to learn that the residents of Las Vegas who cater to those “about to be fleeced” in a large majority belong to the Party of the People – the Democrats.

If you happen to be in Las Vegas at a convention or for a vacation and want to have a little entertainment with twenty dollars, you might enjoy your time playing some slots or some blackjack or by going to a movie.  You will probably get more bang for your buck at the BJ table than the movie – because at least you will have to use a little strategy and exercise your dormant brain cells to add up to “21”.  (Fortunately, Las Vegas casinos do allow the mathematically impaired the use of a calculator if necessary for the player to accomplish this feat).

Recently I have been playing in a twice-weekly blackjack tournament run by one of the casinos which is about a ten minute drive from my home.  Nothing big – $20 entry fee and a field of 96 players maximum.  I took a first and a fourth place in two of the tournaments out of the seven times I played – so I have enough in winnings to pay my entry fees for the balance of the year.

After playing in one tournament in which I was knocked out early I decided that I had a little time to play before going home to take Gracie to the dog park on our second excursion of the day, so I wandered over to one of the Blackjack tables that was open and sat down.  There was one other player at the table, an out of town visitor from San Diego who was sitting there with his wife watching him.

The dealer was in the process of shuffling the two decks as I took my seat, produced my player’s card (so that I can accrue “comps” at the casino based on my wagering) and exchanged my cash for chips.  It was not until the first hand was dealt that I realized the other player was a newcomer to the game.  He had one of those little “cheat sheet” cards that gave him the basic correct strategy to use in playing blackjack.  (The casinos allow  players to consult these cards).

I gave up playing blackjack as an income supplement a few years after I moved to town.  Part of the reason is that in blackjack, the actions of one player (good or bad) have repercussions on the entire table.  Taking a “bad hit” or failing to take a good one, affects the distribution of cards and it affects the results of everyone sitting at a table.

I compensated for that by playing late at night, generally head to head against the dealer.  But after awhile, coming home at four in the morning got stale and I decided I would be better off getting a good night’s rest and spending quality time with the dogs rather than sitting in a smoke-filled casino.  (The dogs agreed with my decision).

Now the reason I reference this new blackjack player is that he epitomizes the reasons that we have so many casinos in this town – all of which seem to be doing pretty well, despite the downtrodden economy and a bit of Obama-bashing a few years back.

Walking into a casino is not the place to get on-the-job training for learning how to gamble.  In all honesty, I was gratified that this young man had taken the time to purchase a card which provides the perfect basic strategy in playing the game.  He clung to this card as though it were his family Bible.

And then he received his hand.  A sixteen versus the dealer’s ten.  That card told him that he had to take a hit.  He looked it up on the card – but was hesitant to follow its advice.  Sixteen is a hand that frequently breaks.

So despite the fact that his card told him he should take a hit, he hesitated and asked the dealer what he thought.  The dealer (knowing the correct play and knowing what the card would advise) said, “What does your card say?”

“It says, hit it.”

At that point I chimed in.  I asked the young man, “Did you purchase that card?” – to which he answered that he had.  I then said to him, “I suspect you purchased that card because you are unsure how to play in certain situations – as in this one.  But if you bought it and don’t follow it’s proven advice, you have wasted whatever money you spent to buy it.”

The dealer, realizing that I was a player who knew the game, looked at me with a knowing glance for stating the obvious which was that the card was the result of looking at the outcomes of millions of hands dealt and reviewing the mathematically best choices for playing each of them.

The young man acquiesced to taking a card and received a ten.  Of course it busted his hand.  But the dealer turned up another ten – so he was doomed to lose this hand no matter what he did.  But the thought of that ten-busting hit lingered with him.

About fifteen minutes later he was dealt another sixteen.  Remembering what had happened the last time he had hit this hand, after looking several times at the card and hoping that the print on it had changed, he tucked his cards under his bet and refused to execute the proper strategy.  The dealer revealed his down card, a five and took a hit, getting a five to make a hand of twenty.

The young man would have had twenty-one and won the hand had he followed the proper procedure.  I had to stay on a nineteen so I also lost.  Looking at the next card which I was dealt, which would have been the dealer’s had the young man followed the rules, the dealer would have busted the previous hand and both of us would have been winners instead of losers.

Now the reason for my detailing this experience has nothing to do with this young man’s inexperience or failure to act correctly but it provides a setting and some background for the next post – which will be about how following rules that are well established and based on sound reason – can improve our efforts should we choose to gamble with our money – and, more importantly, should we choose to gamble with our lives.

OPIE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE

Life in the Mayberry in which Opie grew up on “The Andy Griffith Show” was simpler.  It was a time in America when people in small towns left their doors unlocked, their lives focused around work, going to church on Sunday, putting up preserves and canning vegetables for the winter and offering a helping hand to their neighbors and strangers who happened to pass by.

It was the America that Norman Rockwell and Grandma Moses captured so well in their art.  Today their work is one of the few remnants of a kinder, gentler, more caring nation where a little kid’s biggest concern was wondering what Mom was making for dinner, if he’d studied enough to get a good grade on tomorrow’s history test and whether the Erector Set would be under the Christmas tree.

There were the dances sponsored by the B.P.O.E. and the ice cream socials.  On the Fourth of July the town folk looked forward to the annual parade down Main Street as the band walked in patriotic step to the well-known marches they had played for so many years.  And the adults and the kids, hoisted on their fathers’ shoulders so that they could see, would passionately wave the flag which was the symbol of the great land in which they lived.

It was an era of home health remedies, but if those failed the doctor would come to your house after the town’s switchboard operator put your call through to him.  He had probably been the one who helped bring you into the world as well as one or both of your parents and this was as much a social as a medical call.  The only specialty he could claim was that he did it all from cradle to grave.

It was hard to keep a secret here.  But there wasn’t much to tell and little to hide.  No young couple’s hand-holding went unnoticed and would start the stories flying that John was “sweet” on Mary.  The barber shop and the beauty parlor served a dual purpose as places to go for tonsorial upgrades and to get the latest news about the town council’s meeting last night.

People purchased things that they did not make themselves with an eye to questioning whether the quality of the product was good enough to last not only for their lifetime but was something they could hand down to their children.  Most products made then were  But if something went wrong there was always Tom Johnson’s repair shop.  He could fix anything.

The little extra cash that folks had was as likely to be found in the cookie jar as in a bank account.  It was always good to have a little extra cash on hand – since that was the only way you could buy something.  But if you happened to have left your money at home it was okay.  The man who pumped your gas down at the filling station would just ask you to pay him the next time you happened by.  People trusted one another to do the right thing – and they usually did.

On a Saturday night the family might sit out on the front porch after dinner.  Dad would smoke his pipe and Mom would just relax after she had finished putting the dishes away, resting from a long day of washing and ironing and cleaning and cooking.  The stars filled the sky with their brilliance and the only sounds that were heard were the creaking of the swing on which they sat and the music of the crickets.

Those of us who met people who grew up and lived in these small towns thought of them as “bumpkins”.  Perhaps that was out of ignorance – perhaps out of envy.  Their ways were certainly different from ours.  And in the full measure of things, perhaps what they valued held a great deal more worth and merit than those about which we busied ourselves.

In small towns, courtesy and kindness and neighborliness were not theoretical.  They were part of everyday life.  Because these folks understood that they were a thread in a common web that had been woven – one in which respect for one’s fellows was not only expected, it was innately understood as the underpinning of a humane and caring society.

People in these towns had a distinct sense of morality.  Perhaps it was instilled by their religious beliefs.  Perhaps it came about because in a small town it was hard to be anonymous – whether you did good or ill.  In the light of day and with watchful neighbors, it was impossible to be a miscreant without drawing the attention of the community.

Perhaps anonymity is the reason that there is so much rudeness and selfishness and crime in our cities.  Or maybe it’s because that one moral standard to which most Americans at one time gave at least lip-service, God passed with the declaration of His death in “Time Magazine”.  And that set us free to do and choose as we wanted.  We’ve wanted and coveted a lot and haven’t been too particular about how we got it.

There has been nothing which we have conjured up with our technology or our science which has yet to fill that vacuum.  We have launched our boats and set ourselves adrift on the mindless, turbulent sea of self-gratification.  Many of us have no sense of ethics, no guiding light and certainly no heroes who are our standard-bearers.

Our news sources, such as they are, report to us daily about the latest scandal whether that is theft or adultery or murder.  We have come to expect that sort of behavior – and those in the limelight have not failed to disappoint us.  That is the centerpiece of this tragedy in which, ultimately, all of us are the victims.

Opie left town.  He hoped to find a better future for himself and his family.  Perhaps he made the transition to his new environment successfully and found what he wanted.  I certainly hope so.

But when all is said and done, I often pull down my volumes of the collected works of Norman Rockwell and Grandma Moses and enjoy the comfort of the times and places and people that they captured in their work – and wonder, “What if …?”

RICHARD HAYES SPEAKS (AND WE SHOULD LISTEN)

Perhaps the name Richard Hayes doesn’t ring a bell with you.  No doubt in the next few days that will change.  Mr. Hayes is a Sanitary Engineer (garbage collector) who apparently works on the route that includes Mitt Romney’s house in San Diego.

AFSCME (the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) has produced a new attack ad featuring this gentlemen.  The copy reads:

“My name is Richard Hayes, and I pick up Mitt Romney’s trash.  We’re kind of like the invisible people, you know. He doesn’t realize, you know, that the service we provide, you know, if it wasn’t for us, you know, it would be a big health issue, us not picking up trash.”

“Picking up 15, 16 tons by hand, you know that takes a toll on your body.  When I’m 55, 60 years old, I know my body’s going to be break down. Mitt Romney doesn’t care about that.”

I’m not quite sure what the thinking was that AFSCME employed in creating this ad using one of their members.  I know that the going rate for salaries for people in Mr. Hayes’ profession range nationally between about $35,000 – $55,000 per year, depending on the area.  So Mr. Hayes would be required under Federal Law to file an income tax return and presumably pay some amount of Federal Tax to the Treasury.  Thus, he is one of the 53%  – not the 47% that Mr. Romney described as “committed to voting for the President,” – although I think that might well be his intent.

Perhaps we’ll find a little more about their thinking later as there are apparently two additional ads which are forthcoming – I presume with the same theme.  And what is that theme?  Mitt Romney is an insensitive, uncaring SOB who is out to rape the poor of the last dime of their entitlement dollars.

In truth, I wouldn’t want Mr. Hayes’ job if it paid three times the amount he earns performing his duties.  And I probably don’t have the physique to be able to discharge his responsibilities in a satisfactory manner.  I believe he makes a valid point about the potential health threat if he and his fellows were to walk off the job.  In fact, it was exactly for reasons of public safety that Sanitary Engineers in several major cities were ordered to cease and desist from the strikes on which they embarked during the last several decades.  On this point he is absolutely correct.

Furthermore, I believe his statement about having a broken body when he is older is also probably true, unfortunately.  We have seen the relatively short professional life spans of NFL players due to on-the-job related injuries, including brain traumas.  At least pro football players receive significant compensation for risking their bodies and their futures – a risk that I’m sure they evaluated before they made the decision to play the game.

Perhaps it is ironic but today, when I first saw this ad, it happened to be one of the semi-weekly garbage collection days in my neighborhood.  What is more ironic is that I actually had something at the curb to be picked up.  I had managed to accumulate one half of a medium-sized garbage can and had it out and waiting for the crew.  That was the first time I had placed any refuse outside in five pick ups.

I work diligently to buy things with minimum packaging and to recycle and compost as much as I possibly can – for environmental reasons.  The fact that this makes life easier for Mr. Hayes’ fellow Sanitary Engineers here in Las Vegas is a definite plus.  To me they are not invisible – as I always remember them with some homemade preserves during the Holidays and frequently offer them a cold beverage in the summer heat.

But let’s return to the point of the commercial – that Mr. Romney must be a hard-hearted and uncaring person because he doesn’t have an intimate relationship with those who provide scavenger service at his various residences.

Is there any reasonable person out there who believes that Madonna, Warren Buffett, Lady Gaga, Tiger Woods, Lee Saunders (the President of AFSCME who just won election over a reform candidate who pledged to reduce the salaries of the union’s top honchos), or Presidents Clinton or Obama are on a first name basis with those who provide the same service to them?  Let’s get real people.  I doubt that any of those I have named even knows when their garbage is collected.

However, despite the main thrust of the ad at disparaging Mr. Romney, there is an important lesson to be learned from it.  That is with regard to Mr. Hayes and all the others whom he believes have been “dismissed” by Mr. Romney.

If you’ve been a reader for several months you may remember that at one point in my life I had my own executive search and temporary help business.  The search business dealt with mid to upper management white collar individuals and the primary focus of the temp business was on support staff for people who held mid-level corporate positions.

Although I would be hard pressed to document it, I am guessing that during my twenty-six years in that business, I interviewed no less than ten thousand people, both for our clients and for my own staff.  After the first thousand or so, if I say so myself, I became pretty good at interviewing.

Now, if I as an interviewer were to review Mr. Hayes’ statement (transcribed exactly as it appeared on Yahoo News) as his introduction to our firm, I would give him the courtesy of a cursory interview, because I believe that we ought always to be courteous, but I would never have considered him for any positions which we had available.  I would probably have recommended that he would have better opportunities if he were to apply to a firm specializing in people who had greater numbers of job openings for which he might qualify – a firm such as Manpower or other day labor temporary help agencies.

This would not have been a dismissal of Mr. Hayes as a human being.  Rather, it would be a realization that the gentleman had either received or chosen to accept only a very limited and probably not very good education.  His speech told me that without needing to review his application.  I know because I have taken my time to interview many Mr. Hayes’ – and if I doubted that assessment I would only have had to look at their applications to confirm my conclusions.  I guarantee that basic words which we use every day would have been misspelled and that the handwriting would have been difficult to read.  I’ve seen it hundreds of times.

Does that make Mr. Hayes an “unimportant” human being?  I don’t believe that any of us has the right to make that sort of assertion about anyone.  But it does make him a poorly educated one – a man with few employable skills.  That is most likely the reason that he is doing the work he is doing – not because Mitt Romney “looks down on him” or has “dismissed” him.

There is a lesson we should all take from Mr. Hayes and all the other Mr. and Ms. Hayes’ in America.

Fundamental to our problems in America is that the quality of education for which we were once renowned has fallen – and it’s fallen dramatically.

We are willing to give movie stars and professional athletes millions of dollars a year to entertain us, paying them directly through the money we spend on tickets.  But we are not willing to recognize those gifted teachers who are educating the next generation by offering them incentive raises based on the quality of the work they provide.  That is because we apparently, as a nation, consider entertainment far more vital than education.  Could this be one of the reasons that so many American jobs have moved overseas to be done by workers who were better educated than our own?

I think that Mr. Romney is too much of a gentleman to “retaliate” with a similarly negative ad to the ones that AFSCME has produced.  But I can’t help but wonder what someone riding the garbage truck that services the White House would have to say to him, should he encounter President Obama.  That is, if the President weren’t attending to important matters of state on the golf course.

IN SEARCH OF A PIECE OF MEAT

Dad was born in the Bronx, NY in 1906. (For those of you who are wondering about my age I was born very late in his life).

He was the second son among seven siblings. Dad’s family was poor. Dirt poor.

Each of the children was expected to help contribute to the family’s welfare. (In those days, welfare meant survival). There was no unemployment insurance nor were there government subsidies. If you couldn’t support yourself you had only family and friends to whom you could turn. The alternative was death.

The immigrants who came to this country at the turn of the 20th century understood this – and they conducted themselves accordingly.

Dad used to tell me that having meat of any kind on the dinner table was truly a reason for celebration. Most meals would consist of some home-made bread and a bowl of vegetable soup (the soup being determined by whatever veggies were currently in season and the least expensive). Nevertheless, the family survived and was never in excessive want.

Dad was a dreamer. Although the highest form of meat that he had ever experienced was “chopped meat” – what we today call hamburger – he had heard about something that was truly miraculous. It was called “steak”.

Dad held down a job as a newspaper delivery boy. At this he earned eight cents a week. But dad, the entrepreneur, told my grandparents that he actually earned seven cents a week at the job. Apparently he had a secret place where that precious extra penny went each week. 

One day he had that “Eureka” moment. Dad was born in July and the fireworks displays that went on for the 4th gave him an inspiration. He realized that people liked to set off fireworks. You could buy them in his neighborhood for three cents each. But dad realized that fireworks were a Chinese invention – and he wanted to see how much he could buy them for in Chinatown. So he took 40 cents out of his stash (all of which was still in pennies) and took the streetcar to Mott and Pell Streets. In Chinatown you could find fireworks in many varieties – and you could buy them at a cost of five for a penny.

Dad’s mind rushed as he computed the profitability. A penny would return a 14 cent profit! This was huge. This could truly help his family.

Dad converted the remaining 38 cents he had (there was a charge of one cent each way on the street car) and went back to the Bronx with his cache of fireworks. Along the way he saw a sign on a little restaurant that had a “blue plate special” with steak on the menu for only 69 cents. He knew he was getting closer to this steak. Closer by the sale of each firecracker in his little bag.

Dad sold out his inventory in just a few hours. He hadn’t told his parents about his enterprise and now armed with well over five dollars, the next day he returned to Chinatown to buy more inventory. He was again successful in unloading the entirety of his purchases. He was ecstatic – as were his parents when he handed them $65 and told him how he had earned it. This was rent money for more than six months. This was as much as his father earned in three months. 

The family had a celebratory dinner. Grandma went out and bought “chopped meat” and prepared it for the meal.

What dad didn’t tell them was that he had sniggled away several dollars – so that he could go to the restaurant and buy the “Blue Plate Special”.

It was several weeks before dad could get away to consummate his desires – but the day finally came. He boarded the streetcar and got off at the restaurant’s stop. The sign was still in the window – “Blue Plate Special. Salisbury Steak, Mashed Potatoes, String Beans and Mushroom Gravy – 69c”. Dad went into the restaurant and ordered the special. Imagine his surprise and disappointment – “CHOPPED MEAT”!

Think about how grateful we should be. We live in a nation where our grocery stores are fully stocked. There is no rationing of essential goods and services. We can buy whatever we want within the constraints of our incomes and budgets – and thanks to the liberality of credit extension – we can exceed those merely by signing a form and using a piece of plastic.

Thanks dad for teaching me a valuable life lesson. I love and miss you.

Grandma gets promoted!

I don’t believe I mentioned that grandma lived with us.  That was a wonderful thing.  She doted on me and spoiled me rotten.  I admit it – I loved it!  Not only did I gain the benefit of hearing about her life experiences – what I call “common sense” – but she was a fabulous cook.  Every night mom, dad and I were treated to a wonderful freshly prepared gourmet meal.

As with learning her English, grandma had learned how to cook through on-the-job training.  Shortly after beginning her “career” as a cleaning woman, grandma decided that this was not what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.  As it happened, an opportunity presented itself several years later when a friend of her aunt’s, who owned a little Czech restaurant, needed someone to wash the dishes and scrub the pots at her establishment.  It was essentially the same work that grandma was doing – but there was the prospect of learning how to cook.  And the wages were an additional five cents per day!  What an opportunity.  Grandma jumped at it.

And so she began her “culinary career”.  She worked at that restaurant, washing and drying the dirty dishes for two years when she was promoted to be the chef’s assistant.  Yet another raise – five cents more a day.  Thus began years of chopping vegetables and cracking eggs and occasionally stirring the pot of whatever the specialty of the day was.  And years of obvserving what the chef did to make wonderful food for the loyal patrons who dined there.

Grandma came to work one day to find that the chef and the owner had gotten into a heated argument and the chef  had quit.  This was a crisis as it was Saturday, the busiest night of the week with 80 diners expected  – and no chef.  The owner was beside herself, trying to decide whether she should close her establishment for the night – meaning a big loss in revenue – or try to muddle through.  Grandma spoke up – “I can do it.”  She had just turned 15 years old and had never actually done more than clean dishes, chop vegetables and stir pots.  The owner was apparently stunned at that statement – but out of pure desperation agreed to let grandma try.

The evening, as grandma told it, came off with only a few minor glitches.  Grandma became the new chef and received an increase in salary of three dollars a week.  She had hit the big time!  (By the way, a week meant seven 12 hour days).  Things were a little tougher back then.

You are probably asking yourself – what does this all have to do with solving present day America’s problems.  The answer is that I am trying to provide you with some background and create a context from which we may move forward.

Yes, things are bad in America – but contrast our “bad” with what my grandmother went through a hundred years ago.  I think that most of us would be unwilling to trade places with her.  I know that I wouldn’t.

Juwanna

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