Friday, April 18, 2014

Regular People

In 2001-2006, I was a part-time adjunct instructor at the Ozarka College in Melbourne and Ash Flat, Arkansas. One of my students once asked me what the difference was between Democrats and Republicans and regular people. This seemed like a strange sort of question, especially since I only taught computer courses.

I don't quite remember my answer, but it was short and got a laugh from the rest of the class.

Of course, there really is a difference between Democrats and Republicans and regular people.

Democrats depend on government to care for them from cradle to grave. They think of government as a charitable welfare organization and feel they are entitled to a redistribution of wealth, which includes plundering those who prosper and rewarding those who don't (through a progressive income tax, estate taxes, etc.).

Republicans believe government's main purpose is to stimulate economic growth (by supporting corporate interests), and anyone not contributing to the economy should be rebuked or incarcerated. They also believe in maintaining a superior (expensive) military force to protect their global economic interests, by force if necessary.

Democrats think of Republicans as greedy money-grubbers who don't care about the welfare of others. They see themselves as champions of the common people and don't consider stealing from the rich to be stealing.

Republicans think of Democrats as a drain on economic resources. They see themselves as champions of the greater good, by prospering from the labor of others and by being a self-appointed global police force. 

Between them, the Democrats and Republicans have continually spent more money than they have taken in and have driven this country into a deep financial hole. We now have a national debt exceeding $17 trillion that keeps growing with no end in sight. Future generations will be required to pay for our current exorbitant, reckless spending habits.

Regular people try hard to ignore Democrats and Republicans, but every four years they're forced to endure months and months of campaigning by the two political parties that have each selected one of their own to be one of two choices they will bestow on the public to become our next president. To regular people, a choice between two candidates doesn't seem like much of a choice but they go along with it because they understand they're only one voice in a country of several hundred million people and assume their voice will not be heard.

So the Democrats and Republicans fight it out while masses of regular people bang their heads against the wall and wonder if there isn't a better way of doing things rather than being overpowered by those in control. Most regular people figure there probably is a better way of doing things, but they also realize that the Democrats and Republicans have a stranglehold on a power structure that they will never relinquish.

Some regular people take a more realistic approach. They don't bother to bang their heads against the wall because they don't allow themselves to be affected by the system. They've resigned themselves to the notion that the world isn't exactly fair, and probably never will be fair, so they'll just try to make the best of it without getting involved. If you mess with it, it will mess on you -- if you ignore it, maybe it will go away.

Democrats and Republicans don't respect regular people. They believe everyone should be involved in the political process and fail to understand that excessive government is often the problem rather than the solution.

Regular people don't respect Democrats and Republicans either. They would rather go through life without being monitored by a gaggle of lawmakers (mostly lawyers) in Washington; most of whom are so far out of touch with regular people that they actually believe they deserve every salary increase they vote for themselves.

Regular people just want to go through life without too many hassles. Getting an education, earning a living, raising a family and putting food on the table is hard enough without interference from a system that seems to be dominated by special interests and maintained by people who create more problems than they're able to solve.

If it weren't for regular people, I'd move to another planet.

Quote for the Day -- “I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” Thomas Jefferson

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where more government always means less freedom.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Abe Lincoln and JFK Coincidences

There is a remarkable set of coincidences between President John Kennedy and President Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln.

A week before Lincoln was assassinated -- he was in Monroe, Maryland.
A week before Kennedy was assassinated -- he was with Marilyn Monroe.

Both Presidents were shot in the head on a Friday.
Lincoln was assassinated in a theater named Ford.
Kennedy was assassinated in a limousine made by Ford.

Both Presidents were succeeded by Southerners named Johnson.
Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

Both assassins were known by three names composed of 15 letters.
John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln, was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who (purportedly) assassinated Kennedy, was born in 1939.

Booth ran from a theater and was caught in a warehouse.
Oswald ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theater.
Both were assassinated before their trials.

Quote for the Day -- “Coincidences are spiritual puns.” G.K. Chesterton

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where what you resist, persists.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ferrtile Mind Gathers No Moss

I like to collect strange facts. It keeps my fertile mind from gathering moss.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most difficult tongue twister is “The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.”

In 1980, Dr. Paul Ashton, anesthetics registrar at Birkenhead General Hospital Merseyside, in England, worked a 142-hour week.

In 1977, Reverend Tony Leyva of West Palm Beach, Florida, delivered a sermon that lasted 72 hours.
*  *  *
Things to say if caught sleeping at your desk:
·    Actually, this is part of the Stress Level Elimination Exercise Plan (SLEEP) that I learned in the last mandatory time management seminar you had me attend
·   Darn -- I had almost figured out a solution to our biggest problem
·   They told me at the blood bank this might happen
·    I was trying to pick up my contact lens without smudging it with my fingers
·    Guess I left the top off the liquid paper
·    Amen
*  *  *
I spent about eight months working on a computer contract in Memphis in 1999 leading up to the potential disaster known in the computer industry as Y2K. There were lots of rumors about what might happen if the problem couldn’t be resolved. Some of the myths included:
·    All microwave ovens and toasters will explode on 1/1/00
·   We will be required to dress in 1900 fashion
·    It’s all part of a vast right-wing conspiracy
·    World War III will be triggered by an essay on Global Warning written by a third grader from New Jersey
·    A new number system, excluding the number six, will be imposed by Congress to prevent the arrival of the Beast
·   Computers will refer to human beings as U2X Bugs
·   Microsoft will win the next four Super Bowls
*  *  *
Someone sent me the following interesting bit about political philosophies explained in simple terms. Suppose you have two cows.
·   Socialism – You keep one cow and give one cow to your neighbor.
·   Communism – The government takes both cows and provides you the milk.
·   Fascism – The government takes both cows and sells you the milk.
·   Bureaucracy – The government takes both cows, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk (once you fill out the proper paperwork) and then pours it down the drain.
·    Democracy – The government taxes you to the point that you must sell both cows in order to support a man in a foreign country that has only one cow which was a gift from your government.
·   Corporate – You sell one cow, force the other to produce the milk of four cows, then act surprised when it drops dead.
·         Capitalism – You sell one cow and buy a bull.
*  *  *
Someone sent me the following quips.
·    The shortest sentence in the English language is “I am.”
·    The longest sentence in the English language is “I do.”
·    If you ate pasta and antipasta, would you still be hungry?
·    If an Oriental person gets dizzy, does he become disoriented?
·    If people from Poland are called “Poles,” why aren’t people from Holland called “Holes?”
·    If someone asks “a penny for your thoughts” and you put your two cents worth in, what happens to the other penny?
·    If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, then it should follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, tree surgeons debarked and dry cleaners depressed.

Quote for the Day -- “I've lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” Mark Twain

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and where the road less traveled is less traveled for a reason.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

South of the Border

In 1980, when I was married and living in Los Angeles, my wife and I took a trip to Club Med in Playa Blanca, Mexico. We boarded a 707 passenger jet, chartered by a travel agency, on a Friday night bound for Manzanillo.

To my surprise, the plane landed in La Paz on the Baja Peninsula where each passenger was given a card by the stewardess and told to fill it out. Then we all disembarked from the plane, stood in line in the terminal, handed the cards to a customs agent, got back on the plane and eventually took off for our original destination.

Apparently, this exercise in inefficiency was standard procedure for entering Mexico. Even though no one got on or off at La Paz, it was a "port of entry" into the country so we had to go through this bureaucratic absurdity.

While my ex-wife always seemed to enjoy our travels, this sort of nonsense generally caused my blood to exceed the boiling point of tungsten. But it's nothing compared to the rigors involved in moving to Mexico.

A director with SW Bell in St. Louis recently posted an Internet account of his ordeal in relocating to Mexico.

In order to receive a permanent work visa, called an FM3, the man had to submit the following original items:

1) Birth certificate (plus his wife's birth certificate)
2) Marriage certificate
3) High school transcripts and proof of graduation
4) College transcripts and proof of graduation
5) Two letters of recommendation from supervisors he had worked for at least one year
6) A letter from the Chief of Police of St. Louis indicating he had no arrest record, no outstanding warrants and was "a citizen in good standing"
7) He also had to personally write a letter about himself clearly stating why there was no Mexican citizen with his skills and explain why his skills were important to Mexico.

The above documents then had to be certified as legal transactions, notarized and translated into Spanish.

Next, he and his wife spent five hours, accompanied by a Mexican lawyer, visiting various government offices where they were photographed and fingerprinted three different times. At four separate locations, they were instructed on Mexican tax law, Mexican labor law, Mexican housing law and Mexican criminal law. The couple paid out a total of $4,000 in fees (and bribes) to complete the process.

They were required to obtain a Mexican driver's license. Once again, photographed and fingerprinted. They were instructed that if ever stopped by a policeman to never give their driver's license to the policeman (instead, hold it against the inside of the window) otherwise they would have to pay a ransom to get it back.

At that point, the man was issued a "permanent" FM3 work visa, which was good for three years and renewal for two more years after paying additional fees. Hell hath no fury like a bureaucracy scorned.

As U.S. citizens, the couple was not allowed to purchase a home and required to rent in compliance with Mexican law. In addition, to submit their annual Mexican income tax required about 20 legal-size pages.

The U.S. Congress is currently working on new immigration legislation that may include some improved security across the southern border, temporary work permits for Mexican laborers, etc. However, the Mexican government is opposed to any such legislation because they consider it to be an insult and inconvenience to their people.

Note to the Mexican government -- Life is a two-way street and convenience isn't exactly your specialty.

The USA needs seasonal Mexican laborers (jobs most Americans won't do) and the laborers need the work.

There must be a simple solution to this problem, but adding more government bureaucracy probably isn't it.

In an imperfect world, where fruit grows on trees, there are growers and pickers and consumers; and those whose sole purpose in life seems to be to make it more difficult for everyone to venture from Point A to Point B.


Quote for the Day -- “The greatest power of bureaucracies is to make the smart act stupid and the good to act evil.” Raul Ramos

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a dog named Buddy Lee and rarely ventures from Point A to Point B unless it's absolutely necessary.