Saturday, April 23, 2011

The American Dream?

What exactly is the American Dream? Is it to live your life in the manner that you wish to as long as you are not hurting others or is it to live off the backs of others? Looking at the current state of affairs in the country I would have to venture a guess that the majority of Americans think it’s the latter; I personally believe it to be the former.

In the 1700’s, before the term came into popularity, the American Dream was the dream of liberty, freedom of ones own thoughts and beliefs. The American Dream was the dream of a country where people would have a chance to become what ever they were capable of; the dream of building a country out of a wilderness rife with dangers.

In the 1800’s the American Dream expanded to include the dream of discovering and taming the lands of the west, to build a life out of a harsh land that offered no help. The lands to the west had a magnetic draw for those that wished to discover more; those that had a strong independence.

In the 1900’s the American Dream started to change. In the 1930’s during the Depression the American Dream became being able to put food on the table and a roof over your families head. Unfortunately many began to believe at this time that it was the duty of the Government to help accomplish this dream.

Now as we are at the infancy of the 21st Century the American Dream has gone full circle. It is now the dream that everyone is equal and should have the same advantages as everyone else. No longer do people believe that everyone is created equal and that it’s up to each individual to succeed or fail. Now the belief is that the Government will level the playing field, even if that means taking from those that have worked for everything they have obtained and give it to those that are not willing to work.

This belief is not the belief of every American, but it is the belief of enough Americans to cause a split in America that has not been seen since the War of Northern Aggression and the Revolutionary War before that. In the Revolutionary War the split was between the Patriots and the Loyalists. The Patriots were trying to win their independence from the King, the Loyalists on the other hand wished to stay part of England regardless of the actions the King was taking. In the War of Northern Aggression the split was between the “Rebels” of the southern States and the Northern States, which included the Federal Government. The South believed that the Federal Government was overstepping it’s power and the that Northern States that were pushing for tariffs in the Southern States were breaking the pact that had been made when the Constitution was ratified. The Patriots and the Southerners were trying to live and preserve the American Dream, the original American Dream.

Today the split is not very different from either the Revolutionary War or the War of Northern Aggression. Today the Patriots are the ones that are trying to preserve the Constitution, get Government spending under control, and try to get back to a limited Government as defined by the Constitution. On the other side there is again the Federal Government which is drunk with power and the ability to spend without restraint, and, for lack of any other term, the Loyalists. The Loyalists are the Unions that are protesting for the Government to protect their benefits, there are the liberals that believe the Government should regulate anything and everything, and then there are those that have become dependent on welfare and believe the rich owe it to them. I honestly believe that it will take a miracle to repair the split in the American People today. No matter which way our future goes there will still be a split. If the Patriots win it will mean substantial cutbacks to entitlement programs, reduction in the size of Government, power transferring back to the States, and the return of our Military back onto American soil. If this becomes our future the liberals and unions will erupt. They have already shown that they are more then willing to protest, create chaos and employee violence to be heard and to get their way, just like a toddler pushing a parent to learn its limits.

If the left comes out on top America as we know it will change forever. The liberals and progressives are calling for higher taxes from the rich to pay for the entitlement programs they want to keep and the ones they want to add on. Even with tax increases on the “Rich” our Politicians tell us that this will just reduce the budget deficit, each Presidential candidate talks about cutting the “deficit” in half, they never talk about how to actually reduce the “debt”. Once our “rich” have been tapped out the Government will have to start taxing the middle class, after the middle class is tapped out there is the lower income levels. The problem is that very few of the lower income group pay taxes. When I say the lower income levels do not pay taxes it means that even though taxes may be taken out of their paychecks they get it all back at the end of the year either by being below the minimum income level or by having enough deductions to reduce their taxable income below the minimum. Even if our Government taxes our working classes to the point that they can get no more it will not help to reduce our debt, probably not even reduce the budget deficits. This is also assuming our rich continue to be rich and continue to create jobs. This is assuming our middle class continues to earn enough to be above the minimum income level to pay taxes. All of these things affect the amount of taxes that will be collected, the amount of money coming into the Government. When you lower the taxes that are collected without reducing the budget the deficit spending goes up and the debt goes up. The question at this point has to be where does the country go? Are we headed for George Orwell’s 1984? Will we get to where no one earns an income, we just earn credits. Credits that will be used to only purchase Government approved items and Government approved foods. Are we headed for only Government housing that will be issued to you based on how good a citizen you are? Are we looking at a country that tells you where you will work and when, where you no longer have a say in your future? Are we looking at a country in which all the profits a company makes are paid directly to the Government? Of course if no citizen gets paid an income then the only profit that could be made by a company would be from sales overseas and just look at the stability of the other countries in the world.

I’m not a doomsayer or a conspiracy theorist but it’s not hard to look at the direction the country is heading, look the protests that are happening throughout the country, and listen to the uninformed people throughout the country without being a little worried about what the future has in store for us. When you look at the turmoil in the rest of the world it really paints a grim picture. I wish I had answers that would not be painful to anyone, but that is just not the reality of it. If we do not get the spending under control, if we do not create an environment in this country that attracts business to stay and new businesses to open then our financial future is bleak. If we reduce the spending now the largest pain will be in entitlements to the low income and the no income. If we do it now while the average person and the upper class still have control over their incomes personal charity will increase and those that really need it will receive help. By keeping entitlements high along with ever increasing budgets we are going to get to a point where their will be no money to spend on entitlements and the average person will not have the money to be charitable. We will all need charity at that point; we will no longer have an American Dream.

Steve Avery

Sunday, April 17, 2011


The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “Hypocrisy” as a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially: the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion. While listening to everything that has happened over that last several months it came to my attention that this country is full of hypocrisy, especially in our Governments, Federal and local.

It really hit me when the President made his speech to justify getting the American Military involved in the uprising in Libya. The President at one point said that we Americans are a noble people, we’re a what? Noble is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as possessing outstanding qualities. In my job I get to travel to all corners of the lower 48 States and nobility is not something I get to see a lot of. Nobility is severely lacking in our inner cities where many Law Enforcement Officers won’t go without backup, even for routine patrols. Nobility was not a factor in the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford; nobility was not displayed in the union protests in Madison, WI nor in the death threats to the WI State legislatures that followed. There is a severe lack of nobility when the main stream media demonizing the peaceful protests of the Tea Party and then turns around and supports the violence surrounding the WI Teachers Union protests. Where are the noble people you speak of Mr. President?

I finally decided to write this piece when I was listening to the quibbling going on over the Federal Budget. One of the programs that was on the Republicans list for cutting was Planned Parenthood, a sacred cow for the Democrats. During the debates a left leaning talk show host attacked the Republicans for trying to cut the funding by saying they were trying to take the formula from premature babies; in other words the left wants to use the argument of feeding premature babies to keep open an organization that is pro-abortion; seems a bit hypocritical to me. If that is the way the left is looking at it then it seems to me that smoking cessation clinics should be handing out cartons of cigarettes and making reservations for iron lungs, oh yea, they will also give you info on ways to try and stop smoking.

The Federal tax code and the debates for increasing taxes brings to light a whole crop of hypocrisies. Our public schools need more funding to keep operating; notice I did not say to better educate our children, that’s a lost cause; but in the tax code the more children you have the more you can deduct off your taxes so that means less in the schools coffers. We need to increase the taxes on the rich but the rich are the only ones that can afford the tax attorneys that can find all the loopholes written in the tax code that allows them to claim less of their income as taxable. Medicare and Medicaid are funded from taxes but we can write off health care costs. Federal housing is subsidized with tax dollars so we allow home owners to write off mortgage interest. Does any of this make sense? If we got rid of the entire tax code and lowered the tax brackets for everyone there would probably be more money collected while still leaving more money in the tax payers’ pocket. It probably wouldn’t hurt if all the other taxes that were collected, such as fuel taxes, were actually used for the reason it was collected, not on some Congresspersons pet project.

Unfortunately our Military has become one of the bigger examples of hypocrisy evident in the United States. We will protect the border between North and South Korea while our own Northern and Southern borders are as secure as an open gate. We will send our Military into the Middle East to support uprisings against Governments while ignoring the cries of our own people in this country. In Libya we are embracing those that are against the Government even when some have been proven to be the very people we were fighting in Afghanistan; in other words when in Africa you’re my friend, when in the Middle East you’re my enemy. Along those same lines we are trying to install Democracy in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Egypt while displaying the early stages of Socialism in America. While our Military is supporting humanitarian efforts to over throw brutal dictators all across the globe we have Judges, both Federal and local, supporting Shria Law in various cases; isn’t Shria Law itself considered brutal and inhumane? There is hope in this case; just recently an Arizona judge upheld a murder indictment for a Shria style killing. A father ran over his 20 year old daughter because she had become too westernized and was not following his traditional Muslim views. What message are we sending? You too can install Democracy and end up with a dictator that looks good when on camera.

Our treatment of the poor and attempts to reduce unemployment are also great examples of hypocrisy. The welfare program in this country is not designed to try and help people; it’s designed to enslave them forever by making them totally dependent on the Government. I am not personally aware of all the programs that fall under welfare but there must be a whole slew of them and there must be classes taught on how to get your slice of that pie. I would expect welfare to provide basic funds for survival and job training. Welfare should not encourage people to bring more mouths in to the family that would require feeding and it should not be something that you would expect to be handed down from generation to generation, but it seems to do both of those things. The more children a welfare mother brings into the world the more Government money she will find in her mailbox. There are stories of generations of families that have survived solely off of Government subsidies, welfare. There are welfare recipients wearing name brand clothing, driving new cars, talking on the latest and greatest cell phones, and drinking beer in front of their flat screen TVs.
Reducing the unemployment rate in America is another great example. The people that create jobs are typically the ones that have the money, the capital, to invest in starting businesses. In this country that is the very group that is being targeted for increased taxes thus reducing their available capital. When investors capital is reduced they have two options, one is to reduce their overhead by either not opening new business or by cutting back in existing business; and two, move their business somewhere that costs less to operate, typically overseas.

Before I started writing this today I was checking my e-mail when I came across an article that just hit me square between the eyes because it affects me personally and professionally. The United States Environmental Protection Agency is funneling money through the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to provide for emission retrofits of trucks owned by Mexican trucking companies. This affects me in a couple of ways. It affects me personally since it’s my tax dollars being used. It affects me professionally since I can not go to California because of the emission rules in CA relating to the refrigeration that is on my truck. There is no program in place that the owner I drive for can use to update this reefer so it takes potential revenue from both his pocket and mine. This is the same kind of hypocrisy that is shown when we watch sites like Detroit fall apart while we send money overseas to rebuild countries devastated by both natural and man made disasters, help everyone else but ourselves. Don’t get the wrong idea from that statement, I still believe that all programs should be at the State levels, including funding for the Federal Government, I’m just saying that if you are going to spend my money regardless of how I feel then spend it in America.

So just what kind of great and noble country are we when we are rife with hypocrisy, especially at the Government level, in the people we have elected to do our bidding and to look out for our interests?

Steve Avery

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Comfort Zone

The definition of the good life is living in the middle of a 9 acre field with a moderate but comfortable house and detached shop. Living in the country without all the headaches of actually having to make a living off the land with good neighbors and family all around you is the epitome of a safe and comfortable life. Throw in having the space to do some woodworking strictly for a hobby and not as a necessity is icing on the cake. It’s the perfect recipe for getting too comfortable. When you get too comfortable something unexpected and sometimes costly will happen.

That is exactly what happened a few days ago for us, we got too comfortable and we got sloppy. I have been playing around with woodworking, on a very small scale, for the better part of 30 years; nothing special, just as a hobby. It has been enough that I am familiar with power tools and power tool safety. None of that seems to matter when you get comfortable with what you are doing and get in a little bit of a hurry, that’s when the power tools fight back and most of the time, they win. I was doing a simple test cut on a table saw using a piece of scrap wood that was too small and not using a push stick or any other precautions. That’s when the table saw decided to argue with me and try to show me who was boss. Well let me tell you, I now know, it is. It just let me take advantage of it’s abilities as long as I respect what it is capable of. I got off lucky though; I didn’t lose anything; it just barely bit the tips of two fingers, really just the finger nail on one and enough of the second to leave a small scar. It was a lesson I won’t forget soon. Now after being stupid I did the right thing and had my smarter half take me up to the hospital to get it checked out. That’s when the second step of getting too comfortable jumped up and bit us.

Where we live we are surrounded by lots of close and distant relatives and friends. They all know that we spend a lot of time on the road so they all try to keep an eye on our house while we are gone. To top that off my parents live not more then 200 yards from us with nothing blocking their view of our house. All of this means that we often leave the house unlocked when we are going to be gone for just a short period of time. When we left the house to go to the hospital we didn’t even think about locking the house, I wasn’t thinking of the house and my wife was worried about me, not to mention the fact that so far this has been a safe and quiet neighborhood for quite some time. After I finally got through the sign in process and the initial checks by a couple of nurses assistants and a PA we were able to call my parents and let them know where we were and that I was fine. After we called my Dad walked over to our house to clean up the shop since I left in a hurry, lock up the house and take our dog over to their place. After 5 hours in the ER we finally get home, drop everything on the counter and head over to Mom and Dads to let them know I’m fine and to finally eat diner. So far everything seems normal, well, as normal as it can be after arguing with a power tool that shows no mercy. By the time we got home I was ready to just sit and watch a little TV, that’s when reality hit. Our TV, 2 laptops and 2 brand new bottles of whiskey were gone, not misplaced, gone. There was no evidence of any type of forced entry so it appears someone just walked into our house during the time between when we left for the hospital and when Dad came over and locked up, maybe 2 hours at most in broad daylight. I’ll give them this, they were either real gutsy or they were real stupid. In our case we were real lucky.

The reason I say we were real lucky is that I came off with just slightly more then a cut that hasn’t given me any problems and we lost very little in the burglary. Other then feeling violated we learned some lessons that could have been much more painful. The feeling of being violated will diminish in time but the reality of there being people that have no respect for others will not go away.

These are the same lessons that seem to have been forgotten in America with respect to our Politicians and our Government. The American People got comfortable in letting the Government run the country unchecked; we left the back door open because we thought we were safe with their decisions on what was best for us as a country. We, as a country, kept allowing the President to take more and more power until the office of the President has become a power that has no mercy. We were comfortable and we are now about to pay the price. Hopefully there is still time for us to make sure that it is price that won’t be too high, not one that could end up crippling the United States forever or taking everything that is valuable or precious to us, like our individual earnings or even more painful, our freedom.

Steve Avery

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Big Jigsaw Puzzle

I was sitting here trying to get my thoughts together on what I wanted to write about. I know I don’t write every week but with everything that has been happening I just couldn’t let the week go by without spewing out my thoughts. Anyhow, as I was starting to type a commercial came on the TV for a thing called the Ready Box. It’s a box that contains some first aid supplies, water, food and a multipurpose flashlight/radio. I started realizing that with all the talk of stocking up on precious metals, seed banks and food storage we were headed to the same place that the country was in back in the 60’s with the Bay of Pigs and threats of nuclear holocaust. Is this something we need to worry about? While it may not be a nuclear holocaust there are all the earmarks of some sort of major event on the horizon, if not; it’s sure missing one heck of a chance.

Right now the Middle East is on fire; then again they have been for what the last say, 3000 years. So really there is nothing new there, or is there. We have had an uprising in Egypt that luckily ended relatively peaceful. Our politicians like to downplay the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood was a major player in the protests in Egypt and now the Brotherhood is making its play for power. Evidently Libya was encouraged by the events in Egypt; or were they encouraged by the words of our President supporting the protests in Egypt? Libya has only been under the rule of the same man for 42 years so the good honest peace loving citizens finally decided it was time to do something about it. The thing is these good honest Libyans are supplemented by many of the same people we were fighting in Afghanistan. During all this there are all sorts of humanitarian atrocities going on in the Middle East, but like I said before, this is the way it’s been for around 3000 years. There have been a couple of things that have really stood out. First is with all the events’ going on our President decides to violate our Constitution and send our Military into Libya without going through Congress. Sounds like a small thing but in truth, it’s just another way this President has shown that he is above our laws and our Constitution. For now let’s stick with the Middle East, I’ll get back to America later.

What the major news organizations are not reporting on are how all the events in the Middle East are tied to the religious beliefs of the People in the Middle East. Up until just a few days ago we have all heard about the Koran, what we have not heard about are the Hadiths. Hadiths are narrations or communications of the words or actions of the prophet Muhammad. These Hadiths are taken very seriously in the Islamic faith. Evidently the Hadiths refer to the coming of the 12th Imam, Al-Mahdi, for Christians this would be the equivalent of the return of Christ. The problem with the 12th Imam is that in order for him to return chaos must ensue first. There also seems to be a Hadith that directs the destruction of Jerusalem and the west, guess who the west is. In the Christian world no one knows when Christ will return and no one is trying to hasten the return. Not so true with the 12th Imam. Apparently one of the Hadiths has been interpreted, correctly or not, to state that a certain leader would have to be in power for 72 months and at the end of that the 12th Imam would return. The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has claimed to be named as the one that will bring in the return of Al-Mahdi. Whether we or Muslims that don’t believe in the return of Al-Mahdi like it or not; Ahmadinejad has been in power since August 2005; that is about 65 months. Is this the recipe for a self-fulfilling prophecy? During the “Cold War” there was restraint shown by the leaders of the United States and Russia because they knew any actions taken could mean a war that could potentially destroy the world, unfortunately the believers of the Al-Mahdi do not have that type of restraint, they are not afraid to die for what they believe, right or wrong.

I’m not trying to be a doomsayer or a conspiracy theorist; I’m just trying to put pieces together. The President obligates our military resources to support the UN sanctioned no-fly zone in Libya under the pretense of National interests, which no one else can justify. This created a lot of discussion about just how much leeway he has with our military without going through Congress. The bottom line on that is that he can not go charging off on his own without Congress support unless it is a defensive action based on an actual attack or actionable intelligence that the Nation is under threat of imminent attack. Neither of those apply to Libya, it is possible it could apply to Iran but I’m not in the Intelligence world so I don’t know if we have actionable intelligence to support that. What I have gleaned from all the information spewing out of the media makes me nervous about our Presidents motives. For years Egypt has been a strategic partner for Israel, albeit a cold relationship, a mostly peaceful relationship just the same. This relationship has minimized the possibility of full scale war on Israel by other Muslim Nations; in fact Egypt has been key in several cease fire negotiations between Palestine and Israel. Our President supported the uprising and protests in Egypt that could potentially put the anti-Israel group, the Muslim Brotherhood, in power in Egypt, if not in power at least in a more influential position. Two years before the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center Muammar Quadaffi pledged Libya’s commitment to fighting al-Qaeda in an attempt to improve its relations with the west. This would put Quadaffi at odds with the rest of the Muslim world, or at least the Muslims that are trying to make the world Muslim. From what I have read about Quadaffi I agree that he is a brutal dictator that continually commits crimes against humanity, but, he is not the only brutal dictator in Africa and he is not the only one that is committing crimes against humanity. As for the National interest to the United States, Libya only supplies about 1% of the oil that is imported into the US and it’s not in any strategic location that is important to the US, so what interest do we really have there?

While all this is going on back home in America our Government is encouraging, and in some people’s minds, supporting union uprisings against State Governments. This is the same Government that refused to acknowledge the Tea Party movement, which so far has been a peaceful movement, even going to the point of calling it “astro-turf”, rednecks clinging to god and guns and comparing it to the South trying to cling to slavery. This is the same Government that has tried to rationalize our involvement in Libya by appealing to the nobility of the American People. What nobility? We are broke so our nobility is being shown in the form of protests by Unions wanting more money that the States don’t have, our nobility is being shown in the crumbling of our inner cities, our nobility is being shown in cities like Detroit where downtown is starting to look like bombed out portions of England during WWII. You want nobility; look at how the Japanese People are conducting themselves in the midst of one of the greatest natural disasters in recent history. With all of this happening our Federal Government is 6 months into the fiscal year and still can’t get a budget approved so we are facing a potential Government shutdown. Maybe a Government shutdown would be a good idea, or maybe that is the real plan. This is just my opinion but with everything our current President has done since taking office it appears to me that he is views himself as a dictator, not as a President. With the limited research I have done over the past couple of years I also have to wonder if this has not been an on-going plan for close to 100 years. Were our major political players steering the country to this moment? Were past Presidents being handled in such a way to gently guide us into a country totally dependent on the Federal Government? We know that the States have lost or given away their sovereignty without ever changing the Constitution. We know that the State of welfare has become a way of life for some. And we know that more and more people are expecting the Government to solve all their problems and provide for all their needs from cradle to grave. This is too much for one President to have engineered in a short 2 years, so it’s not just this President.

Here is where I throw all the pieces on the table and try to put together the puzzle, not that I’ll be able to but here goes. The strength and resolve of our once great country is being weakened and our military is being stretched to thin. The United States credit is just about tapped out and our Government is still acting like we still have checks in the checkbook. Our creditors, other countries, are also facing financial problems so the potential for them calling in debts is right on the horizon which we won’t be able to pay. A little history now, how many remember the reasons Japan attacked Pearl Harbor? Japan was trying to take parts of Indochina and China in the 40’s to gain access to natural resources, oil in particular. The United States and other countries didn’t want this to happen so we placed trade embargos on Japan. Japan tried to have the embargos lifted and when they weren’t they attacked Pearl Harbor hoping to cripple the Pacific Fleet which was the only thing standing in their way of taking the territories they wanted. With America on the brink of insolvency what action will our Government take? With the Middle East on fire and countries of the United Nations interfering, what action will they take? Are we on the brink of another World War? Are we ready for it? I hope not since I don’t believe we are. I am purposely leaving out the questions about our Presidents religious leanings because for me it’s just to scary a thought that maybe he is working in conjunction with the Middle East to make the world Muslim, it’s not something I’m ready to believe. (Guess I did throw it out there after all, just too really make everyone think).

Steve Avery