The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Archive for the ‘reality’ Category


When I was a child, one of my friends invited me to a Birthday Party at her home.  Her parents had hired a man whose name was “Peter Presto-digitato”.  He was a magician.

PP entertained us kids for about a half hour.  He made all sort of things appear out of thin air.  This included coins, bunny rabbits and a scarf that was long enough to have circled the globe at least once.  We were all highly taken with this young man and his command of the supernatural.

There are some who claim that there is no magic – merely misdirection.  Clearly, former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi is in that camp – particularly the misdirection part.

The other day, Ms. Pelosi organized a “team photo” shoot of the female members of her caucus on the steps of the Capitol.  Unfortunately, four members of that group were late to the party – and because it was a blustery day in Washington, (when isn’t it at least verbally so), rather than waiting for the late arrivals, the former Speaker authorized the go-ahead to take the picture so that the frail members shouldn’t get too much exposure to the mid-50’s weather.

The photo was published – and then re-published.  Presto digitato, the missing four members were included in the second picture.  Of course, the former Speaker defended this alteration, which I found strange since when we took our Grammar School yearbook pictures, children in the class who might have been ill on the day of the photo shoot were merely listed as being absent.

This is the link to the Yahoo News Story and the two photos.–election.html

Of course, making things appear that weren’t there formerly is not the greatest trick in the world of magic.  Apparently the former Speaker has learned her craft in the same school as Peter Presto-digitato.  But when it comes to the higher forms of the esoteric art, I bow to the great genius of David Copperfield.  He makes things disappear.

I’m thinking about starting a fund to raise money to hire Mr. Copperfield for a special mission.  Does anyone know the former Speaker’s address in California?


Now that the Republican “leadership” has ceded what little remnant of moral authority they might have held to the dark side, it will be time for us to turn our attention to the issue of gun control.  Fortunately, we get a break from Washington “willy wabbering” for a period until the new Congress is convened.  Time to go out and buy some Tylenol to prepare ourselves for the two years ahead.

While I am not an NRA member and have never owned or fired a weapon, this debate has caused me to think whether that is an intelligent attitude in light of the real world in which we live.  So I am going to engage in my own, private gun debate.  I never thought I would ever consider having such a conversation.

It’s estimated that there are far more weapons in the United States of America than there are people.  If it is true that “guns kill people” then we should not be having this debate at all.  Our weapons would have picked themselves up, fired at their owners and they would all be dead., leaving their liberal opponents to say, “See, we told you so.”

While the Founding Fathers, I believe, crafted the Second Amendment with the clear intent of allowing the citizens of this new country to have the ability to resist a tyrannical government, that same principle also applies to their right to defend themselves from those in society who are violent and a menace.  People like Adam Lanza form a part of that group.  I believe that the appropriate PC term is that he was “mentally challenged” which translates into English as insane.

But the insane represent the smallest portion of those who commit violent crimes.  Most of those are perpetrated by thugs who do this for a living, never having learned, as products of our school systems and single family homes, to do anything else.  These are people who have never been functional members of society – and like the devil’s minions, their numbers are legion.

Should there be any liberal readers who stumbled upon this post, I want to prepare you for what’s coming.  Perhaps you should begin Googling from your latest version of the iPhone in your chic white suburban home and look up the number for the Federal Thought Police so that you can turn me in.

There are now well over 2.5 million who are incarcerated in the United States.  According to “The Sentencing Project”, a liberal dink tank, the rates at which black Americans are incarcerated versus their white counterparts is five times as great and for Hispanics, nearly twice as great.  Naturally, the conclusion that the authors draw is that fat old white conservative SOB’s are far more anxious to punish the darkie or the spic than they are to put away someone who has the potential of becoming a good ole boy.

What a load of crap!  (I hear the phone ringing at the central office of the Thought Police).  Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to go to jail because, for  a very large percentage of both those communities, they are born into, grow up and live in environments which offer poor education, little opportunity and no reason to hope for anything better.

They turn to crime because it is the only “job” for which they qualify and, frankly, if they get away with it, they will make substantially more than their parent or parents.  And if they get killed while performing their activities, well, they didn’t really have the expectation of a long life anyway – so why not go out with a blaze of glory?  This is not much different than the mentality to which a suicide bomber clings.

So how did these communities get this way?  The answer, in no small part, is due to our government organizations which offer the sop of welfare as a way to insure a poor quality of life and to buy their votes.  The Prez has proven the master of expanding the welfare rolls and enslaving even more to become dependent on the state rather than on their own initiative.

As an exercise, I recently went to, input a little information about myself as a single, non-parent and found that there were 22 different programs for “assistance” for which I might qualify.  I returned to the site and claimed to be a single mother of three and found that I was eligible to apply for over 56 different programs.  This is pure insanity.

But government is not the sole reason for the horrifying conditions in our black and Hispanic communities.  Look at (I’m holding my breath as I write this even knowing that I’m going to use quotation marks), look at the “culture” of those at the low income end of those communities.

My first exposure to “rap music” was about twenty years ago.  It was gratuitously offered by some picnickers in the park across the street from my apartment.  It was hard to miss because the volume was so loud, I could clearly hear the lyrics from the boom box a half block away.

I also use the term “lyrics” in its broadest sense.  This was before the evolution of “gangsta rap” – and yet there was no lack of the usage of “nigger” and “Mo Fo” and “ho’s” in this particular piece.  That has only gotten worse.  And if you don’t think that constant exposure to that sort of negative, demeaning language has a role in why those who listen commit crimes, you need to go back and take a remedial course in human behavior.

Of course, those on the left will consider this music as “expressive” of the community which has authored it.  In this I would agree – which is exactly my point.  I’m sure that the press, which has no difficulty overlooking the conservative voices in this country, would be horrified if someone were to classify this “expressive music” for what it actually is – toxic waste.  And you can throw in most of the garbage that spews from Hollywood and on our televisions into the mix as well.

This may seem like the greatest work of prejudice that you have seen me write.  And you are correct.

You see, I am prejudiced in favor of anyone, white, Asian, native American, black or Hispanic who has worked his butt off to get an education, become a businessman or a doctor or a mechanic and who has endeavored to raise a family based on old fashioned principles of responsibility and doing what we all know, though few choose to admit, is the “right thing”.  It pains me that they are sadly painted with the broad brush strokes of bigotry because so many others didn’t have the willpower or the gumption to take their lives and make something of them.

So how does a law abiding citizen who works, pays taxes and tries to be an asset both through personal example to his family and as a member of the community deal with people who have never been exposed to, let alone practiced, any sense of morality?  I guess the answer to that for many is that they go out, buy a gun and have the confidence to be able to defend themselves if one of these thugs encroaches on their civil rights and liberties.

And there is good precedence for this – which comes to us from the Bible.  Before that document goes into PC revision, there is one story that I recall – and this is the way I read it.

David and the Israelites were confronted by the Philistines who had a “secret weapon” in the person of the giant, Goliath.  In the original version (1 Samuel:17), David, on seeing his fierce opponent did not say, “Well, hello, Goliath.  My you’re a truly vertically challenged person and you have a countenance of anger, probably as a result of not being breast fed by your Mother.  Come on over to my place and I’ll give you a nice hearty bowl of Range-free chicken soup with some lovely organic whole wheat noodles in it.  Then we can hug and everything will be fine between your people and mine.”

(Sorry, I got the PC version first – but back to the original).

”And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine.”

”And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.”

If you like this piece, please don’t hesitate to leave a reply.  I promise never to share any personal reader information with the Thought Police.  But then, if you do like it, they probably have your name, IP address and more personal information than you would ever willingly give out, in their files already.


I was thinking about auto insurance the other day – specifically mine.  The impetus was that I had just heard that commercial from Allstate which tells us that they will send safe drivers a check for every six months they go accident free.  While I don’t know how much Allstate charges in their premiums to pay for this rebate, it got me thinking.

Since I’ve been with my insurer for quite a few years and have never had either an accident or received a ticket (for over twenty-five years), I thought I would be what I presume most insurance companies consider a safe driver.  I was getting ready to call to find out, given my spotless history, whether the rate I was currently paying couldn’t be negotiated down.  Just then the mail truck pulled up and my letter carrier dropped my daily dose of catalogues and a few first class items.  One of those was my auto insurance renewal packet.

There I was thinking about my auto insurer and they were thinking about me.  Hence the title for this post.

When I returned from the mail box I opened this which contained quite a few sheets of paper – twelve to be exact describing both my policy coverage, my premium costs and my new insurance identification cards, effective mid-January.  (As one of the “discounts” I receive is for having a paperless account with my insurer, I can only imagine what I would get if I had the old send it in the mail on paper type of policy).

You can imagine my surprise, poised as I was to advance my argument that I should actually be getting a discount beyond all those I now receive because of my driving record, when I saw that my insurance premium had not only not remained at the same level as during the past several years – it had increased by 30%.

So I picked up the telephone and called my insurer.  First, there was the eleven digit phone number; then there was selecting “2” because I was an existing customer; next I got to key in my eight digit policy number; then I got to verify that I still knew my birthdate – so I typed those six digits in; then, since there were probably others of their customers who shared my birthday, it was the last four digits of my SSN.  Finally, the computer system figured that I was both who I said and knew who I was and it then transferred me to “the next available customer service representative.”  Ten minutes later.

The nice young lady asked how she could help me and rather than mince words, I asked her how I could get my insurance premiums below the level that I had been paying, let alone lower than their currently quoted rate.  (I guess this was the first time the question had been posed to her as there was a noticeable lull in her end of the conversation).

So she reviewed my “case” to make sure that the quote was right and that I was being credited for all the “discounts” for which I qualified.

Let’s see – I had an EFT Discount; Home Owner’s Discount; Online Quote Discount (which means I dealt with the company directly and they were able to stiff an agent out of a commission); Continuous Insurance Discount; the Platinum Three Year Safe Driving Discount (I guess any time period beyond that is outside the realm of their imagination or experience); Five-Year Accident Free Discount (“Ditto”); Airbag Discount and “Snapshot” Discount (the program in which a driver installs a device in their car and the insurer monitors their driving habits.  I had gotten the maximum 25% discount they allowed as part of this program).

So I had all these discounts and a 30% premium increase.  It just didn’t add up to me so I asked her the reason for the increase.  What had I done to offend them or cause them to lose sleepless nights over my driving?

The answer I received was that they had experienced “a significant increase in their claims and were passing those costs along to all their customers.”

My first, almost involuntary response was, “Well why don’t you send those customers who are responsible for this increase the bill for it and leave those of us who are faultless drivers and whose premiums represent 99% profit to you alone?”  Perhaps it’s just me but I thought that seemed reasonable.

At least I was vindicated that nothing I had done or left undone was the cause of this increase.  Although that was small satisfaction.

Well, of course, I knew when I made this call that I was dealing with a person who has less authority than the computer system that generates these premium notices.  But once in awhile, it is nice to firmly (but politely) express your opinion to the representative of a company that will collect hundreds of thousands of dollars from you over the course of your lifetime – if you let them.

So I explained that I was sorry to consider terminating our relationship – but I was going to shop around for another company which could provide me with the same coverage, identification cards and a lower premium.  And I hung up.

As I was thinking about this afterward a thought suddenly occurred to me.  Was an increase in the number of vehicular accidents really the reason for this raise in premium rates?  Or was it something else.

After a little investigation, I discovered that the number of car accidents in Clark County, NV is actually down by 9.2% in the six month period ending June 30th compared with the same period last year.  (This was the most current data I could locate), and would have been data that my insurer used since, appropriately, insurance rates are based on locale.  So the answer I got from my insurer’s representative was completely bogus.  I do not blame her for answering that way as I’m sure that she was instructed to do so by her superiors.

That leaves only two other answers that I could think of which would explain the premium increase.

First, the company wants to make more money and is raising premiums to accomplish that goal.  Okay, I can understand that.  I can also understand that is not the answer you would want to give your clients if you hoped to retain them.

Second, and I say this realizing that this is speculation on my part – is Obamacare.  We know that mid-sized and large companies across the country are trying to find ways to cope with the costs inherent in this bill.  Some are reducing employee work hours to avoid having to pay for their health insurance or the head count penalty tax if they do not provide it.

We also know that for those employers who are left with a large workforce that their health insurance premiums are going to see a massive increase.  This might give you an idea of how the cost of health insurance is exploding.  Social Security recipients will be getting a 1.7% increase in benefits and a 5.0% increase in the cost of their Medicare Part “B” premiums next month.  And the increase in Part “B” is scheduled to go up an additional 20% over the 2013 rates in 2014.

Any reasonable businessman is going to try to find a way to maximize profits.  That will take either the form of charging more for their products and services or reducing costs.  And when you have a cost that is as mind-boggling as Obamacare, one way to defray that expense is to pass it along to customers.  And I suspect that is the real reason that I got my 30% premium increase renewal notice.

If my assumptions are correct, this is not a tax on the super-wealthy or the moderately well-off.  Rather, it is a tax that everyone who drives a vehicle will pay.  It is a hidden tax under the guise of being a premium increase.

There is one bit of irony in the whole thing.  The Chairman of the Board of my soon to be former insurance company is Mr. Peter B. Lewis.  He has been one of the largest financial contributors to President Obama and has long been involved with a cadre of liberal-minded thinkers who share the President’s view of reshaping America into a socialist paradise.

And you might ask the name of this company.  It is “Progressive” Insurance.


I seldom begin a piece with a video, but this scene from “Trading Places” will set the stage for the balance of this post.  (Please pardon the vulgarity – but I was not in charge of writing the script).

If you remember this movie (one of my favorites despite the misrepresentations about how the commodities markets really work), you might remember this scene.  What is omitted from the video is that after Eddie Murphy realizes that the guests at his party are taking advantage of his largesse, the butler, played by Denholm Elliott says to him, “These people are not your friends, sir.”

Would you consider a friend a person who thought that he was justified in stealing from you?

Would you consider a friend a person who thought that lying to you was not only acceptable but laudable if it served his purpose?

Would you consider a friend a person who thought that murdering you was not only something that would be forgiven but was a righteous act on his part?

Would you consider a friend a person who believed he had every right to ridicule your faith but had the right to exterminate you for criticizing his?

Would you consider your friend a person who subscribes to Islam?

Let me be clear that I am not writing this post to be critical of anyone else’s religion.  But Islam is not a religion – rather it is a political ideology.

The Prophet Mohammed (Blessed be his name) spent thirteen years in preaching the faith he had received from Allah.  He had 150 converts at the end of this effort.

He then went from Mecca to Medina (where the second version of the Koran was written).  The Koran of Mecca which regarded other faiths inclusively was supplanted by the the Koran of Medina – in which non-believers were depicted as lower than dirt and it was the duty of the faithful to destroy them.  And they did.

Islam, the faith had failed.  But Islam the political ideology had gained precedence and it truly succeeded.  It swept over the Arabian peninsula and extended it’s grip to Anatolia, north Africa and tried to make inroads in Europe.  It left a swath of devastation and death in its path.   And it abolished all remnants of the cultures it subsumed.

If you are not an adherent of Islam, those who subscribe to its doctrines are not your friends.

Those in the Western world who are apologists for the Islamic philosophy are not only misguided but as foolish as Clement Atlee when he engaged in his appeasement of Hitler by ceding the Sudetenland to him.  (Hitler was greatly admired in the Islamic community for his vision of exterminating the Jews).

We in America are privileged to have, for the moment, a Constitution which protects our rights to belief or disbelief in a Supreme Being.  No such freedom of choice exists within countries that have adopted Islamic Sharia law.

There is in Islam no greater edict than following the example of the prophet Mohammed (Blessed be his name).  Nor is there a greater sin than blaspheming against him.  (Blaspheming against Allah bears nowhere near the same consequence or retribution).  And it is for that reason that I view Islam not as a religion but as a political movement.

So what does the doctrine of political Islam teach us?

First and foremost, that we are to accept every tenet and every doctrine of Islam without question and are to emulate the example set for us by Mohammed (Blessed be his name).  We are to pattern our lives after his life.

Thus it is not only acceptable but correct to marry girls who are only six years old and have sexual relations with them when they reach eight.

That women have only half the worth of men.

That men may have multiple wives and an unlimited number of concubines but women must remain chaste in devotion to their husbands.

That we will be forgiven for the murder of three of our co-religionists during our lifetime.

That killing as many Kaffirs (heathens) as possible is the path to Paradise.  The more the better.

Setting aside the question of whether your are a member of a religious group or not, most of us have a “Western mindset” which is based on Judaeo-Christian principles.  We believe it is wrong to lie, to steal or to murder others in our society.  That is the reason that when people commit these acts they make news and we are shocked at how they have violated the social contract that we think of as normal.  No such mindset exists within the world of Islamic Sharia law.

I would have thought that those in Washington who are apologists for this alternative political agenda would have read and perhaps even understood a history book or two.  But I realize that my expectations may well have been misguided.

Instead, we have self-deprecating statements coming out of the Administration regarding events like those that occurred in Libya.  “It is all the fault of the nasty video portraying the prophet Mohammed (Blessed be his name) in a derogatory if, historically accurate, way.

The values I hold – and which you probably do as well – have no relevance to the political philosophy of Islam.  The Koran of Mecca – that we each of us have a right to co-exist in a peaceful manner is not the scripture which guided  Islam on 9/11 nor of those who wish to eradicate the “pigs” who live in Israel and, by extension, those Kaffirs who live anywhere else.

It is essential that those in authority get a grip on the reality of what the Western world is facing and take a long hard look at their apologetics, seeing them for what they are.  Nothing more than what the Byzantine emperors attempted to do in buying off the invaders with silver and gold – a strategy which ultimately failed

While we may love our enemies we should also guard ourselves carefully in our dealings with them.  Those who follow the political doctrine of Islam are not our friends.  And they never will be.


We know that if we give a junkie a dose of heroin she’s going to use it and come back asking for more.

We know that if we send government our tax dollars they’re going to spend them and come back asking for more.

We call the junkie a law breaker.  We call the politician a law maker.  That’s about the only difference between them.

If we apprehend the junkie, we the taxpayers pay for her support either in a rehab facility or a prison.  We the taxpayers who elect the politicians pay their support through our tax dollars to ensure they have ready access to what little they leave us in our pockets.

My friends used to laugh at my view of owning a car.  I summed it up one day on returning from a repair shop where I had some mechanical work done.  As I put it, “Owning a car is like having a vacuum cleaner permanently attached to and sucking at the contents of  your wallet.”

That’s a lot like the way government operates.

Many years ago my father was audited by the IRS.  For three years in a row.  The focus of their pogrom was on determining whether the business deductions he took were legitimate.  The result of these audits were three “No Change” determinations by that esteemed agency.  In other words, dad had documentation for every penny that he claimed and those deductions met the definitions of the Internal Revenue Code.

Nevertheless, it’s always stressful when you are accused of something and are assumed to be guilty until you prove your innocence – which is the approach that the IRS takes with us taxpayers.  So dad dreaded these encounters passionately.  I think that was mostly because he was an honest man and the implication that he was otherwise challenged his sense of decency.

At dinner one night, I believe it was at the conclusion of the second audit, my father told us that he had said to the auditor, “Wouldn’t it just be easier if you took everything I made and then just refunded what you think my family and I are entitled to live on?”  Little did he know that would be the direction this country would turn a half century later.

As we are now little more than three weeks from the much touted precipice of the “fiscal cliff,” who is in charge of making rational decisions to repair the folly we have already wrought?  It should not surprise you that it is the very people who have brought us here in the first place.

Our players consist of the Ashen Vizier and the 535 Mental Midgets – a cartoon cast that would be the envy of both Walt Disney and Cecil B. DeMille.  (My apologies to the twenty or so responsible people in Congress who have a pulse, a brain, common sense, and the moral courage both to understand and to tell the truth).

So here’s where we are.  Stuck over defining who’s “rich” and who should pay more of their “fair share.”  As though that matters any more than renaming a school in honor of Horace Mann will provide the students inside with a better quality education.

The facts are (and amazingly both sides agree on this) that if we follow the Ashen Vizier’s plan and start taxing the “rich” more, we will raise less than three percent of the money we need to balance our budget.  In other words, this “plan” leaves ninety-seven percent of our problem unresolved.

Since it’s hard for any of us to contemplate something that has burgeoned into the size of our deficits with all those zeroes, let’s look at this from a standpoint which we all can understand because we all have to deal with it.  A family and its budget.

You and your spouse have been wasteful and indulgent of the kids.  You’ve let your finances get out of control – but you’ve finally decided it’s time to deal with reality and get yourself back on the right path.  (Those annoying phone calls from creditors might have given your decision some impetus).

So you go down to Ashen Vizier & Associates credit counseling service.  You’ve seen their ads on television (a lot) and they promise that they have the solution to your financial woes.

The nice receptionist asks you to fill out a profile of your monthly income and expenses and then you are brought in for an audience with the Vizier himself.  He is a very self-assured and impressive sounding chap.

After he reviews your situation, he astutely points out that you are spending one thousand dollars a month more than you are taking home.  You and your spouse, in awe at this wisdom, nod your heads in agreement.  Okay.  The Vizier has identified your problem.  That’s a great start.  But, you ask him, “What do we do about it?”

As he stands up from behind his desk and completes the putt he was working on when you came into his office, he says, “No problema.”  He turns to the reference library which is on the wall behind him, filled with hundreds of the largest books you have ever seen.  He immediately pulls one down from the shelf and turns expertly to the middle of this tome where he finds the solution to your difficulty.

On page 462, Paragraph 7 he shows you a program which the Federal Government has developed just for people who are like you.  All you need to do is complete the paperwork and every month thereafter you will begin receiving a special allotment of thirty dollars.  It’s the program called “A Little Something Extra For The People Who Are A Little Short Each Month Entitlement.”

it is with some trepidation that you point out that will still leave you nine hundred seventy dollars a month deeper in debt.  But the Vizier grins broadly at you and says, “Don’t worry – that will take care of itself.”

Armed with this wisdom (and the promise of an extra thirty dollars a month) you and your spouse leave the office in an upbeat mood.  You decide to go to a movie, buy some popcorn and a few sodas and spend the thirty dollars you will soon be getting plus a little more.  Like your old hero, Alfred E. Neuman and your newly found one, the Vizier you are comforted with their life-guiding principle, “What, me worry?”

Somewhere I have quite a few copies of “Mad Magazine” stored away.  I think I know where they are.  Talking about all this financial stuff always makes me a little dizzy.

If I can find them, maybe I’ll curl up with a couple and drift off to sleep.  As I think about it, they are nearly forty years old and may be worth something.  Which is more than I can say for the Ashen Vizier and the 535 Mental Midgets.


When we hate someone we are engaging in war.  We might describe this war as a dispute, a vendetta, a retaliation or a feud.  But when you get enough people feeling the same way not about another individual but about a group of similar individuals you now have a full fledged war with rockets and drone planes and assault rifles and atomic weapons on your hands.

In other words, what we call war is merely the aggregate expression of the anger and hatred of a collection of individuals towards another collection of individuals.  So to stop having wars, we each of us, have to stop being hateful.  Of course, this is easier said than done and if I had invented the magic pill to enable us to do that I would certainly be the most lauded person on our little pebble in space.

Let me say that I earnestly believe that we must each do our part to bring peace to our world.  We cannot leave it up to anyone else because there is no one else who’s actions we can control other than our own.  And if we don’t set a peaceful example through our dealings with others, our words are mere rhetoric and unabashed sophistry.

This is an example of the fundamental principle of taking responsibility for our actions.  The same principle applies to everything in our lives – whether we are willing to admit that or not.  As long as we are in denial about where both the praise should be offered and the blame should be placed, we primarily do ourselves a disservice but it is one which also affects our friends, our families, our neighbors and, ultimately, the entire world.

I am now nearing my 500th post in a little more than a year.  I happened to look through the statistics of the tags I have used in these posts which were most frequently used in searches by prospective readers.  I thought the list was interesting.  The top searches were:



Common Sense



Apparently, there are at least a few of us who are grappling to find answers to many of the complex issues which we confront – and which, in large measure we have caused.

If we do not approach our lives with a standard of values, it is hard to claim responsibility for our successes but easy to dismiss our failures.

If we do not approach our activities using basic common sense we arrive at solutions which simply don’t work.

If we do not have an attitude of caring and compassion, it is easy to find the fault in another while ignoring our own failings.

And if we are not honest, we have simply built our lives into a house of cards that will inevitably fall, often taking down those around us as well as ourselves.

Making choices can sometimes be difficult.  But if you think about this one, it really is quite simple.

Would you choose death or life?  Do you choose war or peace?


When my business partner of twenty-six years left town with all the funds in the company account while I was away for a long weekend, it came as a bit of a shock.  I mean after that long you’d think you know someone pretty well.

I won’t go into the sordid details of the event, but it forced me to consider my options and to re-group.  It was a struggle but I survived and, as it turned out, he had done me the biggest favor imaginable.

It took almost four years but I found myself in a new business which was far more fulfilling and financially successful than my previous one.  Of course the intervening time was difficult but I struggled through.  I had to.  I had two dogs at home who relied on me for their support.

Thinking about this event it always amazes me when I hear a fellow American complain about how rough their life is.  Well, let’s face the facts.  Some of us are born into better circumstances than others.  And the roads on which some of us travel have a few more bumps in them than others.

But the fact that we are born here gives us the opportunity to take the hand we’re dealt and make something of it.  Whether we play the hand well or fold it is up to us.

I thought about this because the other day, Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs football team killed his girlfriend and then himself leaving their three month old baby behind.

Other than what I read in the story that reported this I know nothing about the man.  I don’t know if he was a phenomenal line-backer or a run of the mill player.  He obviously had some issues which he resolved in an unfortunate way.  He folded his hand – and in the process took another life down with him.

My guess is that he was making a pretty good salary as that seems to be the case with most professional athletes.  So I doubt that money was at the center of his actions.  And that’s strange because we seem to focus on that as an almost absolute standard for determining our sense of achievement.

In the long run, having money does not insure happiness.  I’ve seen far too many wealthy people succumb to what it will buy for them – drugs being one of those items near the top of the list.  When we give ouselves up to something that is stronger than we are, the inevitable result is that we have agreed to enslave ourselves to our new master.

While things in America are far from perfect, the vast majority of us have a roof over our heads and enough to eat.  We have the right to express our opinions and to assemble with those whom we choose.  That is not the case everywhere on planet Earth.

In Timbuktu, Mali, six young people between the ages of 16 and 22 were each given 100 lashes in the public market.  Their crime was talking to each other on the street.

In Afghanistan, a 14 year old girl was beheaded because she refused a man’s marriage proposal.  This was the fifteenth such incident in that country reported this year.

So you think life is rough?  Unplug yourself from your iPod.  Turn off your 60 inch entertainment center and take a look at what’s happening throughout the world.  And if you still think your life is rough, I have a good relationship with a travel agent who can book you on the next flight to Timbuktu.

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