I Am One Stupid American

I was just starting to drive when the Arabs realized they had us by the short hairs and started pinching the pump. Soon we were paying a buck a gallon to feed our vehicles. Of course at that age my main concern wasn’t the mileage my car got; my concern was having a car, period. And for kids of the 70’s our rides were often vehicles held together with spit and bailing wire…if you were lucky the wipers and the heater worked (but we always had loud music).

Jimmy Carter was the president at the time and he told me,

“We need to come up with ways to produce our own energy so we can not only get off our dependence on foreign oil but to protect the environment as well. And to help you get onboard with this I will give you tax credits as an incentive.“

Guess what, like an idiot I almost fell for it. I began drafting plans for an earth sheltered home that would utilize solar for heat and wind power for electricity. I began figuring ways to run my cars and trucks on hydrogen or batteries.

ronald reaganBut then along came Ronald Reagan to put my mind at ease. He said,

“Stop worrying about oil, we have plenty of it and if we need more we will just ask our friends at Exxon to start punching more holes. Solar and wind power, what a joke. Our electrical grid is one of the most efficient in the world so let those power companies do their job. And as long as we don’t need your help you don’t need those tax credits.”

I let out a sigh of relief knowing my prez was watching out for me.

When people began whining about global warming I said, “Hey, I am tired of Minnesota winters. Is there any way to speed this up?”

I loved it when Wal-Mart figured out how to bypass our overpaid American manufacturers/workers and start bringing in more reasonably priced products from China and Taiwan. After all, it is our responsibility to make sure those countries make money as well.

I was inspired when I ran across a list of the highest paid CEO’s and saw that the head of Reebok tennis shoes was making 80+ million dollars a year and he even figured out how to get paid after he quit (golden parachutes) and died (golden coffins).

After the 9/11 attacks on America and Bush sent us into Iraq I was just glad we were kicking somebody’s ass for a change.

When I read about how the top executives at Enron bled their company dry while their employees had their pension plans wiped-out I thought too bad, so sad, but I don’t work for Enron so why should I care.

Since Northwest airlines is located in my home state and I fly them often, when they filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection I wondered how it would affect me and my costs for a ticket. But the CEO came up with a plan; he convinced the employees to take a 40% pay cut and that would put them back in the game. And the day after they announced they were out of chapter 11 he rightfully gave him-self a 25 million dollar bonus for coming up with this brilliant strategy.

When the 35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis I was glad of one thing…our new baseball stadium was already underway because if the bridge would have gone down first the whiners would have said we need to spend public money to inspect and repair bridges instead of a stadium and the owner of the Minnesota Twins would have had to pay for it out of his own pocket. After all, baseball is America’s pastime and we need those major league stadiums.

gas station at night

When gas prices started climbing I was grateful I had already bought my one-ton, duel wheel pickup truck with the V-10 and the trick paint job because the government started talking about requiring pickups and SUV’s get better mileage and that means I would end-up with a wimp-mobile that could only pull a boat, not a house off it’s foundation.

And I cheered as I watched those stupid kids build high-buck homes (they couldn’t afford) down the road from me because it tripled my property values and allowed me to refinance my house to the max and pay-off my credit cards, get that new plasma TV and buy that beautiful truck.

I was amazed when I learned (from TV commercials) at how many illnesses I was suffering from and ran off to my doctor demanding these wonder drugs gobbling them by the handful.

Oh wait a minute…I guess that wasn’t me, at least not entirely.

You see even as a punk kid running on beer and hormones I realized if a handful of foreigners could control an entire country with a single product we were in trouble and we should have spent the last 25 years working on oil/energy solutions rather than ignoring it.

I also had enough common sense to know that although mother nature may be capable of cleaning up her own messes (forest fires, volcanic action, animal poop, etc) asking her to take care of the tons of pollution we pump into the air and water everyday may be a bit much and we should try slowing it down.

I also knew that a warm Minnesota winter may be convenient for me but if it was warm here in January it was going to be warm somewhere else where it is not supposed to be (like the north pole) and downright hot in others. It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.

According to legend, Sam Walton was a good man that believed in our country and primarily sold American made products while trying to work with small, outlying communities to enhance them. But that changed (some say when his kids took over) and the sole purpose became making record profits. To do this they began demanding American manufacturers lower their prices, and when American companies couldn’t go any lower they went overseas to counties where the workers got paid in pennies and the products are made just plain cheap; even dangerous (does lead paint on children’s toys ring a bell? How about poison in pet foods). At the same time they began invading communities and purposely putting thousands of small family owned businesses under.

And this greedy attitude of winning at all costs has become the template for all businesses. Home Depot, Lowes, Sears…they have all given up on well-made, American manufactured products that may cost a little more in favor of the cheap crap made overseas to stay competitive with Wal-Mart.

How could a man justify paying himself 80+ million dollars when all he was doing is buying tennis shoes for a few dollars from slave labor companies, paying some big name athlete to do a commercial and convincing kids to demand mom pay a markup of few thousand percent so they can get those high-buck shoes.

And it wasn’t a brilliant business strategy that rescued Northwest Airlines; it was the employees that agreed to take a huge pay cut that bailed the company out. If anyone deserved a bonus it was them, not the overpaid, greedy jerk that helped put them in the hole in the first place.

Answer me this; how can a company that just got out of bankruptcy afford to give a bonus to anyone?

stack of money

When the State of Minnesota said we were facing a deficit I asked, “If we are 930 million dollars short this year then why are we shelling out 400 million dollars to build a baseball stadium for a billionaire?”

It’s not just a few that are running on greed and outright stupidity…it seems everybody is doing it. Look at the CEO’s that run their companies into the ground and the stockholders lose money, but because they stack the board of directors with their friends they can give themselves huge bonuses and their friends go along with it. Getting paid millions in a bonus should only happen when you make money, not lose it.

Even our government is in on the game. Our politicians go running off to Washington rubbing their hands together like Fatty Arbuckle on his way into a candy store thinking, “Lets see…how many billions of tax dollars can I spend on things we don’t need?” They use my Minnesota tax dollars to build a $225,000,000 dollar “Bridge to Nowhere” in Alaska that even Alaskans say they don’t need, a half million dollars for a sculpture park in Washington State that I will never see, $300,000 outhouses in Pennsylvania that I will never use. Oh yes, this is a great way to spend money.

They give billions of dollars to foreign countries while people here are losing their homes and have no health care. Even when they loan money to other countries they often forgive those loans.

Hey, I take out a loan and I have to pay it back…why don’t they?

And when these irresponsible idiots spend more money than they take in they borrow more. Right now this country owes more than 9 trillion dollars which our grand children will get saddled with paying because the people/counties we borrowed the money from won’t forgive those loans.

President Clinton was the only president in recent history that didn’t drive us deeper in debt…he actually balanced the budget and came out 200 billion dollars to the good during his term, but he had that Monica deal that ruined the world as we know it.

And something that really irritates me is, no one bothered to call and ask, “would you mind if we give billions of U.S. tax dollars to countries around the world so they can fix their problems?” No, they just do it. I mean I’m not cold blooded…when a country is hit with an earthquake or a flood we should help, but I think Americans should come first before giving major money to these countries for mosquito nets and toilets. And to add insult to injury, many of these countries don’t even like us with many cheering in the streets as they watched the World Trade Centers collapse on live television (but they love our money).

After the attacks on America I was all for striking back, but even I knew if we were going to drop the most powerful military hammer in the world on someone we needed to do it right, and Iraq wasn’t right. Husain was a brutal dictator that ruled his country with an iron fist, and one of the reasons he was so good at it was because he did not allow terrorists in his country. In fact if bin Laden would have gone into Iraq Husain would have done us a favor and killed him.

But did our president bother to factor this into his decision…no. He sent our people off to be killed and maimed under the battle cry better to fight terrorists over there than over here. Now look at Iraq, terrorism is running rampant and with no Husain to keep them in check, Iran is building nuclear weapons. Oh yes, we really fixed things didn’t we. And look at the money it is costing us (that means the taxpayers); more than a half trillion dollars at this point and going up with no end in sight.

Now before you say I am a left-wing pacifist that supports terrorism, this planet is a better place in the fact that I was not in charge on September 12, 2001 because I would have unleashed the most brutal retaliation the world has ever seen. Mess with the bull and you get the horn. And when other countries started complaining about my harsh methods I would have told them, “Oh ya, you want some of this? We got a lot more…we will put you on the list and get to you sometime next week. You are either with us or against us, their are no neutral countries. Join our side or prepare to get your ticket punched.”

Foreclosures are at the worst rate in history…Why?

When the money lenders started making loans to people they knew couldn’t afford it and would default, did our government leaders bother to say, “Hey, maybe you should be qualifying people to make sure they can pay you back before you start giving out high-risk loans.” No. Instead they let them go unchecked because that hot housing market kept everybody’s mind off what was going on and now with foreclosures and bankruptcies at record levels our leaders are saying we (the American taxpayers) should bail these money lenders out. No…they got themselves into this mess because of their greed, they can get themselves out. After all, when I spend too much money I am the one that has to pay it back.

house for sale

Drug manufacturers are using their tremendous profits to not only convince us to take more pills but also control congress…they have passed laws that tell us we can only buy those pills from them (not in Canada or Mexico where they are cheaper) and how much we will pay for them. They, the pharmaceutical companies, even managed to write and pass a bill that will bankrupt the Medicare system in 10 years.

You see I knew these things and have modestly tried to fight against them by driving more fuel efficient cars and trucks, refusing to gobble drugs by the handful and not mortgaging my house to the hilt in the name of a plasma TV. Where I am stupid is it took me 50 years and three beautiful grandchildren to prompt me to start telling other people about it.

What does this have to do with you? Get a clue boys and girls; big business runs this country and our elected officials are working for them, not you.

Americans as a group have been stupid because we have chosen to ignore the fact that our politicians have climbed into bed with private industry and special interest groups and have even taken on their role of going for profits.

Cities aren’t expanding treatment facilities because it protects the citizens; they do it to bring in cash, higher property values (higher taxes) and lure developers.

And if you really want an example of how we are on our own; most think car manufacturers want higher oil prices. Nope. They will build whatever the customer wants. If we demanded pickups that got 40 miles to the gallon (like they do in some other countries) they would build them, but we haven’t. The oil companies…you are going to buy gas/diesel no matter what. In fact the higher the cost the less you are going to buy.

The one player in the game that is making out fat (but everyone thinks is on our side) is the federal government because 18.4% of every gallon of gas sold goes for federal taxes. Near as I can tell, at $4.00 a gallon the feds are raking in a billion dollars every 2 or 3 days. That’s some serious loot Jack. Is it any wonder why some of our cars get worse mileage today than they did just 10 years ago?

Note-My wife said a few years ago, “Every generation finds fault with the government. Stop complaining because it will all work out…it always does.” That’s true; things have worked out in the past because people went into public office as a public servant whose goal was to make things better for us, the American citizens. Sure they did some stupid things but not catastrophic.

Today going into public office is a career, and because they write the laws, they can change those laws to make themselves rich. Don’t think so? The senator that pushed the pharmaceutical/Medicare bill through (in what has been described as the ugliest night in congress) and will bankrupt the Medicare system in 10 years, has retired from politics and now works for the pharmaceutical industry for 2 million dollars a year. If you or I pulled that we would be sitting in prison.

And the general public has become so focused on their personal lives, possessions and Paris Hilton, we have ignored their behavior which has allowed them to run unchecked. Politics has become an out-of-control cesspool of personal greed and corruption and the decisions they make today control our future…unfortunately our great grandchildren will be stuck with the bill.

People will be looking back at this chapter in history saying,

“Why did Americans let this happen?”