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The Time Has Come For All Americans To Step Up!

July 8, 2010 1 comment

Our federal government is really in a bind. It has become so large now that it cannot fix itself, but that is what it tries to do.

Something that really drives me nuts is this notion that employees of our government must sell things to each other. The sheer amount of money and energy spent selling so called ‘good ideas’ and ‘personal agendas’ is overwhelming. But there are bigger problems.

Our government is broken. It is badly in need of repair. The only way to fix it is to cut off the money. Stop paying for it. Require the budget to be balanced and only spend what it takes in.

Will that be painful…yes! But what is the alternative, more government spending? I think not.

To get the conversation going, why don’t we push senior entitlements out to age 85 for everyone under 55 today and for those under 60 cut all the senior benefits in half.  Reduce federal government payroll costs by 25 percent with an immediate across the board pay cut, and cap federal executive pay at $125k for all government employees including the Congress. We must restore the civic duty of service and not continue to bankroll federal corruption.

It’s time for drastic measures America. We all need to step up. There is no easy way out. Government employees and Congress are incapable of fixing it from the inside. They lack the knowledge and the incentive. Reform can’t happen under the current spending arrangements and it won’t happen unless the American people step up.

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Give President Obama a Break!

February 5, 2010 Leave a comment

We’ve all seen the campaign promises and inconsistencies from his administration on video throughout the last year.  Those are facts that no one can dispute and will be dealt with at election time.  But I think there is a larger issue that is being overlooked.  The President called for transparency, it didn’t happen and mistakes were made.  It’s true he is in charge of our government and should be held accountable, but the American people need to understand that it is not entirely his fault.  He is our President, so I think all Americans should, in spite of any evidence to the contrary, give him the benefit of the doubt about wanting transparency until the next election.  We have to work together or our nation will fail, and a transparent government is a good start.

For many Americans who have not worked with the federal civilian workforce this may be a surprise or a shock.  In the federal government, it is widely known that outside of law enforcement and security, probably about 25 percent of the people, at the most, do all the real work.  The other 75 percent have jobs and that’s about it.  It’s an employment program – some insiders call it a welfare program, that’s all it is.  Anyone who works with feds knows this – it’s a privately held known fact.  Federal workers are paid more than their private sector counterparts and they produce much less.

So when the President calls for transparency in government he might be sincere but there are a lot of folks standing in his way.  Take Congress for instance – they are hiding things as we just learned about in health care reform.  The President said the other day that some of the provisions that got “snuck in” might have violated his pledge.  He said he would fix it, and that’s all we should expect.  He is our President, and we should take him at his word, nothing less.

However, the President has an even bigger problem than that.  For what I estimate to be the 75 percent of worthless bureaucrats populating the ranks of our government, well, they have a lot to hide.  They know what happens when we find out they don’t contribute anything productive at work.  And boy, I don’t have to tell you that they are sharp to criticize anything that does.  They use their position power to protect themselves from being revealed, and that is what we have to stop.

So the solution isn’t just to cut spending or to raise taxes or anything like that.  The solution is to remove the power from the federal government brick by brick.  The American people should go line by line in the budget and pick out programs they want and then decide – who does it – a government bureaucracy at the federal level, or somewhere closer to the people like the state, local or even the private side.

It’s not going to be fixed from inside the federal ranks and it’s not going to be fixed fast.  To make government transparent the people have to do it from the outside-in.  No blue ribbon commission of ex-Senators and Congressman or top bureaucrats can fix the problem from the inside.  There are too many strong forces with bullshit jobs and lucrative contracts producing little or nothing to hide.  The real fix is for the American people to elect officials who have the guts to make the tough choices and shed the pork.

We also have to look-in at the problem from the outside.  We need real transparency.  The President has called for it, so we should take him at his word.  It’s the only way anything will get fixed.

 

Great Presidents Believe In People Not Government

December 5, 2009 Leave a comment

 “You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”
President Ronald Reagan

 

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

 

“That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and, hence, is just encouragement to industry and enterprise.”
President Abraham Lincoln

 

Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.
President George Washington

 

Breaking News!

November 21, 2009 5 comments

Welcome to another edition of  News brought to you from the Book of all Knowledge Blog.  In this edition I have some BREAKING NEWS!

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote at 8pm tonight to determine whether debate can go forward on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s 2,074-page bill to dramatically change the U.S. health care system. This could be one of the most important votes in the history of our country. I sent an email to Virginia Senator Jim Webb’s office this morning that I would like to share with you today. I encourage all Americans to contact their Senators immediately because time is running out. The vote is scheduled for tonight America. Join me. Stop freedom’s demise!

Here is the email I received from Senator Web last night:

From: correspondence_reply@webb.senate.gov
Sent: Fri, Nov 20, 2009 8:35 pm
Subject: Senator Jim Webb’s Response to Your Message.

November 20, 2009

Dear Mr. Edwards:

Senate Health Care Bill Now Available

Visit http://www.webb.senate.gov

Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts about health care reform and the current debate taking place in Congress. Reforming health care in our country is one of the most monumental undertakings by Congress in decades, and the American public’s participation in this process is critical.

Over the past several months, my staff and I have met with citizens, health care experts and community leaders from across the ideological spectrum. In addition, my office has received and responded to more than 100,000 e-mails, letters and phone calls from Virginians on the health care debate.

Last month, I sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid calling for the text and complete budget scores of the health care bill to be posted on a public website at least 72 hours prior to both the first vote and final passage.

I am pleased that the bill is now available for the American public to review.

I want to continue to hear from you on this pressing issue. I invite you to share your thoughts and ideas with me on my newly updated website: www.webb.senate.gov

Thank you again for your time and interest in this important issue.

Sincerely,

Jim Webb

United States Senator

Will More Government Fix Our Problems?

November 12, 2009 Leave a comment

 IS MORE GOVERNMENT REALLY THE SOLUTION? 

 

$  OUR GOVERNMENT IS GOING BANKRUPT  $

POST OFFICE ~ AMTRAK ~ SOCIAL SECURITY ~ MEDICARE ~ FANNIE MAE

 

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again

and expecting different results”

 

ALBERT EINSTEIN

(if you don’t know who he is google his name, he was really smart)

 

*******************

ARE WE INSANE?

 

 

$40,000 cash prize for Citizen Involvement in Government Innovation!

November 10, 2009 2 comments

A friend just sent me the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Network Challenge and I love it!  A $40,000 cash prize will be awarded to the first entrant to submit the latitude and longitude of all ten balloons.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the Internet, DARPA has announced the DARPA Network Challenge, a competition that will explore the roles the Internet and social networking play in the timely communication, wide-area team-building, and urgent mobilization required to solve broad-scope, time-critical problems.

The challenge is to be the first to submit the locations of 10 moored, 8-foot, red, weather balloons at 10 fixed locations in the continental United States. The balloons will be in readily accessible locations and visible from nearby roads.

How to compete:

  1. Register on this web site on December 1, 2009   http://networkchallenge.darpa.mil/ 
  2. Find other people interested in helping you solve the DARPA Network Challenge.
  3. Starting December 5, submit locations to the web site immediately after you find them.
  4. For updates, follow us on Twitter  http://twitter.com/DARPA_News 

Schedule:

Announcement October 29, 2009

Registration Opens December 1, 2009

Balloons Launched December 5, 2009

Submission Deadline December 14, 2009

Additional information:

DARPA Network Challenge Website: http://networkchallenge.darpa.mil/ contains latest rules and other links

 

DO YOU KNOW ABOUT GOVERNMENT INNOVATIONS IN THE WEB 2.0 WORLD ?

An American Approach to Government Reform

November 9, 2009 Leave a comment

I sent the following proposal to both presidential political campaigns (Obama & McCain) in 2008 prior to the election.  I received no responses.

September 2008

My fellow Americans.

To be better citizens and informed stewards of our government, we must improve our skills so we can lead our nation through this century and beyond. We need to think and innovate more, and we need to communicate and collaborate more effectively as a nation.

I am not a politician, comedian, psychic, actor, pundit, or expert in any particular area of government. I’m just an American citizen who is trying to take care of my Family and do the right thing. I am writing this article because I don’t know what else to do. All I know is that I believe in America, I believe in Americans, and I believe in the American Dream. The same dream that my parents taught me and the one that I learned about in school. The dream that says I can do anything I want to do if I work hard and am willing to sacrifice.

My dream today is that we come together as one nation. I offer that we start by considering the original pledge of allegiance from 1892, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands: one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.”

We have to start somewhere America, so can we agree to be indivisible?  

If we can agree not to divide ourselves as a nation, then let us please consider another challenge facing us today. We have made our government too complex. I read the U.S. Constitution again recently, the charter for our country. It is simple and it makes sense to me. Now look at what we did with it over the past two centuries. Federal regulations and the tax code today touches every American and both are too complex and broken. If the regulations and tax code don’t serve us, then they need to be fixed. (one year later in 2009, look at TARP, bailouts, health reform, and cap and trade – all no less complex)

A quick Google search tells me that our U.S. Constitution has 4400 WORDS and the tax code has more than 10 times as many pages. I have no idea how many pages of regulations we have in our government, but my guess is that there are more than needed to make it work for us. The fact that we are beginning a major bail out of financial institutions that probably has many volumes of regulations is perhaps some evidence that quantity of regulation does not necessarily equal quality. With so many financial regulations already, we probably do not need more regulations for the financial industry; we just need regulations that are simple and make sense to the American people.

For example, I can understand a rule that says you have to know how much something you own is worth in the marketplace. Our income tax code requires that I know that rule when I donate to charity or sell something for profit or loss as a small business owner. If I don’t follow that rule, then I hear from the IRS – even if it is not my mistake, and they make me pay just like any other American taxpayer. If we don’t have the money, then we get into trouble. To pay our government, some Americans have to cash in their retirement savings, sell a car, lose a home to foreclosure, and default on loan obligations they made which takes away our pride and tarnishes our honor.

What I cannot understand is how major financial institutions were not required to do the very same thing that every American citizen is required to do under the law, and why the American taxpayer has to be accountable and suffer for their bad behavior. Perhaps it is too complicated for me to understand as a citizen and I should just agree to go along. But if it is too complicated for most other Americans too, then I believe this is a symptom of a larger problem. All Americans don’t have to agree on everything our government does, but we do have an obligation under our Constitution to understand what our government is doing.

I think we need to consider and reflect on what our nation’s founders were telling us as we tackle this latest financial crisis and begin to address the many other problems we face as a nation. In all the words in our Constitution, one important theme that I see is that our founders strived for transparency in our government by devising the shortest written Constitution of any major government in the world. By making it more complex over the last two centuries through legislation, the courts, and our government departments, we, as stewards of our country have drifted from the principle of transparency and we need to get back there.

Can we agree that we need to create transparency in our government? If so, let’s start talking about how we can do it.  

Americans agree that there are sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour, and 24 hours in a day. We believe that the moon orbits the earth in about 28 days and we measure a calendar year using 12 months. Most companies report their results every three months called a quarter, and after four quarters companies are expected to report the results of their past fiscal year and future plans. We expect all these things to happen and we can measure them. If something does not happen that we expect or something we did not expect happens, then we know we might have a problem and we will have to work together to fix it. If there was negligence or incompetence, then we punish the offenders.

Can we agree that the American people need to set measurable expectations for our government that allow us to see problems and hold our elected officials accountable?  

Our politicians won’t say this so I will. All our problems with our government are our fault – the fault of the American people. We have been asleep at the voting booth. We have elected officials to serve as our leaders and representatives and we are shocked when they do not measure up. It is our problem, we created it, and we have to solve it. Perhaps we have not expected much good out of our government. We have accepted the way it regulates, the way it spends our money, the way it taxes us, the way it prioritizes our needs, and we just sit back and we hope someone is interested enough to fight for us and do what’s right. Or we hope that some small group will be loud and rich enough to carry our cause.

Can we agree that hope is not enough collateral to expect change? Can we agree that if we are going to have real change that we have to be able to measure it?  

What solution makes sense for the American people? If we can’t understand why we do something or don’t do something as a people, then maybe we need to pay a little more attention to our government. What I prescribe here is a simple approach, one that may be too simple for our Washington bureaucrats but one that I believe many Americans can understand and support so we can quickly create greater transparency across our government enterprise. If we keep it simple and transparent, we can succeed. Like our pledge to be indivisible, we have to start somewhere America, so why can’t we start here?

A Baseline Report to the American People  

Keep it simple. We need to establish some understandable context for our government that allows us as a nation to collectively think and innovate. We need a fuse to ignite participation across our nation not just for the latest crisis, but to start that long journey of national self examination and knowledge that is built from a shared understanding of what our government does, and then on questions and answers that build our knowledge and a new citizenship for every American. We need to be free to identify and discuss our problems and start the process of working through them openly, being limited only by our imagination and courage. We need to simplify and understand what our government does.

All long journeys start someplace, and here is what I propose to get us started.  

First, require every federal government department starting at the cabinet level to provide a report that answers the following questions. Require that each cabinet head publish a new report annually under their signature, no later than the anniversary of the first report which should be due within 30 days of the State of the Union each year. Post all these reports on the Internet for everyone to see immediately, and require that they be submitted using 4400 words or less, just like our Constitution. Link these reports prominently to the IRS website and every federal website in the entire government where a citizen might interact so they are easy to find. (or post to social networking sites one time)

All initial reports should be limited to answering five fundamental questions.

1. What is your mission?

2. What is your vision?

and for each of the following:

· Lead and manage

· Organize and assign resources

· Execute policy

· Perform processes

· Use enabling technologies

3. How do you (insert each item above) now?

4. How did your department (insert each item above) 2 years ago?

5. How does your department plan to (insert each item above) in 2 years?

Place the name of the department at the top of the first page and number each page. If the department struggles with these questions or has to make up answers, then that absence of knowledge or the weakness of each response will tell Americans a lot. It will explain our loss of confidence or show us why we should be confident. This is what the Baseline Report to the American People is supposed to show us, now let’s discuss how it will be used.

Provide quarterly progress reports through High Tech – High Touch Town Hall meetings in all 50 states.  

American citizens can create transparency by being offered substantive opportunities to communicate and collaborate in their homes, localities, and state institutions with Washington officials both in person and using available technologies. Our mobile phones, televisions, and the Internet have given us a gift of communication and collaboration our founders never could imagine possible. Let us make America better by using all enabling technologies in our homes, schools, and communities in new and creative ways to improve communication and collaboration across our nation. Let us remove all unnecessary barriers to citizen participation and involvement by investing wisely in interoperable solutions and capabilities that ensure every American has a chance to participate in creating transparency of our government. If we are wise, investments to improve our country here can also serve our economy as well. There is no problem we cannot solve together.

To get started, we should exploit all available capabilities across all technologies simultaneously to connect our government through volunteers, community service, and philanthropy for each initial federal report to spontaneously and rapidly create a broad citizen network. There are so many possibilities beyond online blogs and forums, websites, videos, television broadcasts, and mobile messaging and alerts; conducting public meetings and broadcasts; working groups and think tanks. Each cabinet level department head should be accountable for explaining their mission to the public, describing their governance, networks and affiliations, and how they are changing or planning to change our government to serve the public. They need to explain the problems we are facing as a nation and allow the full power of our citizens to participate, provide immediate feedback, and be informed. The public can participate real-time in polling and other data collection to ensure we are focused on the right priorities and issues at the right time. This not a modification to what our founders sought, this is simply transparency of our government inside a modern democracy.

My dream is that we come together as one nation and become better citizens and informed stewards of our government. I believe that all Americans are accountable for our government’s performance and results. We don’t have to agree with everything our government does. But if we can agree to not be divided anymore and take responsibility for what our government does or does not do as a nation, then perhaps we can also agree to unite by sharing a common goal to begin creating transparency of our government by starting with the Baseline Report to the American People. By emphasizing opportunities for communication and collaboration through all available channels, we can foster a solid foundation for renewed citizenship of transparent government that serves as a springboard to a new economy in America and the rest of the world. If we start today, together we can begin to imagine where our nation and the world will be in 100 years and beyond. And that dream can be our American Dream, one we created together that all Americans can believe in and share.

the end