IS THIS A CULTURE CRISIS OR THE BEGINNING OF A CIVIL WAR? – PART II

In our opening salvo in this series, we looked at what is going on in the educational arena; the attempts to curtail free speech, the distorted view of political correctness, the increasing segregation of campus life and the lack of faculty diversity.

Now we turn to explore two other segments of our societal life—the public arena and the government/political arena—both as disturbing as the school culture.

The Public Arena

Just as is happening in the educational arena, the activists and loud mouths in the public arena try to sway the debate by name calling.

On America’s immigration crisis, if you use the term “illegal alien” or “immigrant,” you’re branded as a racist.  The Left wants you silenced to ensure their political agenda can’t be challenged.

Or try this:  mention to a liberal that you have doubts about man-made climate change.  Suddenly, you’re a denier and you must be silenced!

Say anything positive about capitalism and the freedoms it has ushered in and you’ll be told you support “white male privilege” and “you’re part of the problem!”  The same holds true about many other important national discussions—from radical Islamic terrorism to attempting to address violent inner-city street gangs.

Conservatives, libertarians and anyone who refuses to toe the line are being told to shut up—or else!

In the first days of the Trump presidency we had anti-Trumpers yelling about impeachment, and the impeachment chorus continues.  Somebody ought to tell them not liking someone is not an impeachable offense.  The anti-Trumpers created a mantra we haven’t heard after previous elections.  and the continuing cry of “He’s not my president.”

All violate the historical precedent that once elected, like it or not, he was the president.  Their protests were not just vocal but destroyed property to emphasize their bitterness.

This isn’t dissent, this is anarchy.

There now appears to be an ongoing and very uncivil war against Confederate statues.  The impoverished and crime-ridden city of New Orleans recently spent more than $2 million to take down four monuments.  Other cities and towns across the south are making plans to move or demolish dozens of other statues, and Baltimore trashed four monuments in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

Of course, reasonable people can make a powerful argument that statues of Confederate soldiers have no place in America.  These men fought to defend the odious practice of slavery.  But no one should ever believe this will end with a few dozen statues.  The left is on the warpath against anything it considers distasteful in America’s past.

Slaveholders appear to be next in line; and in that regard, Yale University is especially instructive.  Last year, university president Peter Salovey vowed that Yale’s Calhoun College would keep its name, even though John C. Calhoun, Yale class of 1804, was a powerful defender of slavery.

Just a few months later, Salovey caved to pressure and announced that Calhoun’s name would be sandblasted off any buildings.  Salovey exemplifies the “courage” many college administrators are displaying these days.

But why stop with John C. Calhoun?  Elihu Yale, himself, was a slave trader whose actions were arguably worse.  You don’t think there are lots of aggrieved people who want the entire university renamed?  Think again!

Princeton has its own issues, but not with a slave owner.  Former school president Woodrow Wilson, who later moved to the White House and was a liberal hero, held some truly retrograde views of blacks.  The university recently removed his photograph from a dining hall because it was deemed “unduly celebratory.”  It was also, you know, not in keeping with Princeton’s eternal desire to be “truly diverse and inclusive.”

While Princeton and Yale are in the north, hundreds of schools in the south are named for slave-holders and Confederate officers.  If statues of Robert E. Lee have to come down, why in the world does Washington and Lee University get to keep its name?  General Lee became the school president soon after he surrendered to General Grant at the Appomattox Court House.

When the left is finished with Robert E. Lee, they might begin tearing down all the monuments dedicated to slave-owners George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.  Sure, that’ll take a while, but left-wing protestors seem to have little on their minds these days but time and anger.

The war between the states was a defining moment in American history and all Americans need to understand the two sides—who they were and who did what.  Ripping down their statues doesn’t advance the cause or history or the understanding of that period.

Maybe there are a few too many statues but we must be very careful about overkill and the attempt to expunge history with so-called liberal political correctness.

We’ve always had activist groups in the public arena, but there’s a new air of anger and volatility in the groups we see today—in the white supremacists, in Black Lives Matter, and the anti-fascist ANTIFA—all disturbing signs.

This is all reminiscent of the Soviet Union or China’s Cultural Revolution, where out-of-favor officials simply got whitewashed.  Their images vanished from photographs; their names were eliminated from history books.

In the Soviet Union, the whitewashing of history finally ended when the evil of communism was toppled, along with statues of Lenin and Stalin.  Now we are the ones doing the toppling—Civil War generals, slave owners, just about anyone who is not deemed politically correct by the standards of 2017.

Personally, I’m more offended by the protests and the mayhem than I am about the statues.

Colin Kapernick started it and now, USA Sports reports, 17 other millionaire NFL football players are protesting by not standing for the national anthem.  This is a game with rules they are forced to respect.  What exactly are they protesting?

Maybe they ought to donate 80% to 90% of their bloated compensation to the problems they would like to see corrected.  In the meantime, respect the flag that has offered you the opportunity to make so much money.

Now The Political Arena

The biggest accomplishment of the Trump presidency is that they finally got his hairdo under control.

It might have helped if Trump had concentrated on learning how to govern in his first days instead of launching a re-election fundraising effort.

I personally didn’t like Trump before he was a candidate but when he became our president I was hopeful that with a Republican Congress we could get tax reform, a real infrastructure program and an overhaul of Obamacare and our health care system.  It doesn’t look promising.

The White House staff has been in total disarray.  The only clear functioning appointees so far appear to be the retired military people.  Donald, unfortunately, doesn’t have a clue on how to lead, how to govern or how to negotiate with the Republican leadership in Congress.  Maybe his approach to the Democrats will work better.

Congress, apparently, can’t function any better on their own.  The Republicans spent seven years screaming about repealing Obamacare and in seven months this year they couldn’t come up with an alternative and couldn’t even muster enough votes even for repeal.

Congress ceases to function as a forum of debate and compromise.  They obviously need a strong presidential leader and they don’t have one.

Trump was not qualified by experience or temperament to become president of the U.S.  His future is clouded by the Mueller investigation, not the Russian collusion fantasy, but what Mueller will uncover about the finances he didn’t want exposed by not releasing his tax returns.  That may well be his downfall.

Let me be clear, I don’t believe Trump has contributed substantially to the fraying of our democratic principles but he has done nothing to help it.  He’s just an obstacle in the way.  Actually, I personally think his election was a beneficiary of all this craziness.

If things weren’t bad enough on the national scene, there are hardly any government entities—city, county or state—that are not on the verge of bankruptcy, all mainly due to the overblown pension benefits accorded to employees, some starting at age 55.  How ludicrous!

College Park, Maryland and five other towns have decided to let illegal aliens vote in their local elections.  Are people on death row next?

In our final blog, we’ll try to tackle how this came about, where it’s going and what may help remedy the problem.

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IS THIS A CULTURE CRISIS OR THE BEGINNING OF A CIVIL WAR?

I don’t know about you, but I’m alarmed and disturbed.  Actually, I’m frightened!  We appear to be witnessing the fraying of the basic foundations of the America we’ve known for over 200 years.

It’s bad enough we are confronted with the threats of North Korea, ISIS and Iran, but my concerns today are what’s going on here in our country.  Our country is more polarized and volatile now than at any time in my life and it’s scary!

Yes, we’ve always had political disagreements, as well as hotly contested protests and elections, but we’ve never seen anything like what is going on now in every facet of our society.

I have been concerned for sometime about the increasing segregation of students on college campuses, the absolute stupefying efforts to curtail or even respect free speech in the educational environment, as well as the increasing lack of diversity in the makeup of college faculties.

The shocking tragedy in Charlottesville last month was horrifying.  The neo-Nazis came to try and preserve a statue they didn’t care a whit about.  The black-clad ANTIFA activists came to confront the white supremacists.  Both sides came armed, not with arguments, but with weapons to inflict personal harm, while a governor attempting to be politically correct had the police stand by to watch the mayhem.  It was all disgraceful.

Then we have to add in a Congress so stagnated with bitter and hostile feelings on both sides of the aisle that there is no compromise and nothing gets done.

To try and understand all this disintegration of the basic fundamentals of our democracy, let’s try to explore what is going on in the educational, the public, and the political arenas.

Quite frankly, it’s all very upsetting because it can’t land to anything good.  It’s diversity in full retreat.

The College/University Arena

In his retirement address, the provost of Stanford University said, “The biggest threat to the future of higher education is the decline of free speech and the rise of intolerance on college campuses.”

Only a generation ago, colleges were places that celebrated free speech and the expression of many different viewpoints.  Students came to college with the expectation that they would be exposed to a variety of ideas and opinions, in the classrooms and in the dormitories.  It’s one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children.

But lately, something insidious has been taking over college campuses.

Left-wing academics and administrators have advanced a frighteningly fascist-like movement—political correctness.  It comes with speech codes, sensitivity training and “rapid response” teams to help enforce “correct thinking,” as Mao called it.

Like a cancer spreading across our nation, speech control has oozed into our homes, our workplaces, our news, our movies and television—it’s destroying our culture and our heritage of freedom.

So it should no longer surprise us when we learn, for example, about administrators at Vassar College last fall shredding a copy of the United States Constitution, all because one student complained that she felt “triggered” by its distribution on campus.

Then there is research by Samuel Adams, Professor of Political Science at Sarah Lawrence College in New York:

  • He found that in 1989, the faculty numbers were 40 percent liberal, 40 percent moderate, and 20 percent conservative. But by 2014, 60 percent call themselves liberal, 30 percent moderate, and just 10 percent conservative.
  • Nowadays, self-proclaimed liberal professors outnumber conservatives nearly five to one! The general public and the student population is not moving so firmly in this same direction.  It’s only the professors.
  • What’s more, it’s incorrect to believe that some campuses have moved far left while others are more balanced. Almost all colleges—91%– have seen an increase in the proportion of liberal faculty members.

While in the South, the ratio of self-proclaimed progressive professors to conservative ones was three to one; in the Northeast, where many of the nation’s top universities are found, the ratios are far more unbalanced.  Progressives now outnumber conservatives by a factor of 28-to-one!

Recent polls suggest seven out of 10 college students favor banning “intentionally offensive” speech.

Can you believe that?  Well, neither can I.  But it’s the truth; our country’s next generation of leaders would rather sacrifice the First Amendment than suffer the possibility of hurt feelings.

And what, you ask, may be considered “offensive” speech?  Well, here are just a few examples that have surfaced in recent months:

  • Chalk marks supporting the election of Donald Trump.
  • A Yale lecturer defending the right of blonde children to wear a “Mulan” Halloween costume portraying the female Chinese warrior featured in the Disney film.
  • Questioning the priorities of Black Lives Matter.

While the anti-free speech bullying on college campuses has drawn the most media attention, the problem really starts…in high schools.  We must reach students before they reach college.  This means turning the tide in secondary schools away from stifled “tolerance” and towards a true diversity of viewpoints.

  • A high school student in Woodbury, Connecticut, was researching gun control for a class paper. The school computer blocked access to the website of the National Rifle Association, while those sites supportive of gun control were easily accessed.  So he dug further and found that the high school had also blocked access to numerous websites sponsored by conservative or Christian organizations—including the Vatican.  The reason?  The superintendent was trying to weed out “hate speech.”
  • When a senior at Central High School in Philadelphia published an opinion piece in his high school newspaper that was critical of the recent protests at the University of Missouri, his piece was removed from the paper’s website as “insensitive.” Even worse, other students threatened on social media to “deal with” or “shoot” him.

Such stories are, unfortunately, commonplace.

Lively discourse—the free and unfettered exchange of ideas that made our country great and serves as the basis of true intellectual diversity—is dying in contemporary education.

Taking its place is a poisonous mixture of intimidation, bullying, and, on the part of those intimidated and bullied, silence.  In the long run, this spells disaster.

Here are just a few more of the outrageous actions we’ve witnessed:

  • California’s Modesto Junior College threatened a student with disciplinary action for distributing a copy of the U.S. Constitution in celebration of Constitution Day. The student was not in the “free speech zone.”
  • Students at the University of South Carolina were disciplined for hosting an event promoting free speech.
  • At UC-San Diego, the student newspaper satirized “free speech zones.” The administration took away all of the paper’s funding.
  • For years campuses have bullied and sought to ban conservative speakers. In 2014, Rutgers faculty and students succeeded in getting former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice scratched as their commencement speaker.  UCLA students and faculty did the same to First Lady Laura Bush in 2002.
  • The University of Oregon’s Bias Response Team works to control student behavior. In one instance, the team investigated a student who put up a sign that encouraged students to “clean up after themselves.”  The complaint?  The sign was “sexist.”

This is insanity.  Every inch of every college campus in America should be a free speech zone!  This march of anti-diversity must be stopped.  It benefits no one and our country will be its victim.

Next week, we’ll tackle how the public and political arenas are doing their part to help the disintegration of our democracy.

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THE PHOTOGRAPHS IN MY MIND – PART V

Here’s the last installment in this series.  My memory of all our trips has just about given out.  I hope you find some places you might enjoy visiting.

The Great Lakes – Our sail started in Duluth, Minnesota and went through four of the freshwater lakes mostly on the Canadian side.  We saw a bit of Lake Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario, as well as the rivers and channels which connect them.

We had stops at Thunder Bay, Mackinac Island with its storied mansion and spectacular views of Niagara Falls on the Canadian side.

You can follow the path of the great lakes to the St. Lawrence River through all of the eastern Canada and right into the Atlantic Ocean.

For us, the cruise ended in Toronto and was a most enjoyable treat.

Hearst Castle will rival any European castle, and it’s right here about half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Hard to imagine one man built this opulent estate with an indoor swimming pool and its own zoo.  There are three tours to see this extravaganza.

Japan – We had a short land tour of Japan and liked what we saw, so we took a cruise around the whole island.

We’d been to Tokyo before—an amazing overcrowded city.  On this trip we started out in Yokohama and headed south.  We saw some truly spectacular gardens and had stops at Hiroshima and a port town in South Korea.

It was an enjoyable way to see more of Japan.

Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine – A true delight in the fall when the leaves are changing colors.  We started with a bike trip in Vermont, and the colors were already changing.  We kind of circled the area around Stowe and enjoyed it all including the stop at Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream headquarters.

Then it was back in the car and headed to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  The scenery is beautiful everywhere.  The highlight for us in New Hampshire was a visit to the Toland Sand Glass Studio.  He specializes in colorful prisms and it was fascinating to see how he creates and produces his beautiful glass sculptures.

Maine was something of a surprise.  Bar Harbor and the coastal towns were picturesque and charming.  The biggest surprise was Acadia National Park—what a treat.  It is 49,000 acres of islands, lakes and coastal shoreline.  A great place to bike or hike and a wonderful place to visit!

Egypt – We were in Alexandria on a USAID assignment and got a chance to visit Cairo a few times.  The traffic and the reckless speed of the cab drivers is unbelievable.  People living in the cemeteries are hard to fathom!

The pyramids outside of the city are a must to see and visit and the Cairo Museum is a huge wonder.  The King Tut Exhibit was colorful and well organized.  The rest of the huge museum is filled with priceless antiques, all scattered about with no organization or order.

After our five-week assignment concluded, we got to take a cruise down the Nile where we visited Luxor, the Aswan Dam, the Valley of the Kings, and Abu Simbel, a thousand-year-old temple carved into a mountain that had to be moved to make way for the dam.

What a fabulous trip!

Down south in Charleston and Savannah – Charm and history just oozes out of both cities.  Savannah is built around a series of squares with good restaurants in old manor houses.  You can even sit on the bench where Forrest Gump talked about his mama’s chocolates.

Charleston is a whole different kind of city with houses you enter from the side and a bay where the opening shots in the Civil War were fired.  It is home to the Citadel, the oldest Jewish Temple in America and well preserved Southern architecture.

Visiting both is a great vacation trip.

Sicily – An Italian island filled with great ruins and remains from a rich history.  It’s a rewarding seven or eight-day destination.

Morro Bay, California – Sometimes called the Gibraltar of the Pacific, the Bay is dominated by the picturesque Morro Rock.  Just 12 miles north of San Luis Obispo, which is a delightful town by itself.  Half of the town’s area is water and open for kayaking, beaches and home to the annual avocado and mango festival.

Brazil – Rio de Janeiro is the popular attraction in this big diversified country, home to famous Ipanema Beach and the Christ statue on the mountain.  The highlight for us was Salvador de Bahia, a coastal city about 200 miles north of Rio.  It was the port of entry for the slaves of West Africa and maintains a rich history of many colored houses and the emancipated slaves.

Another highlight is Manaus, a city of two million with its own opera house.  It is also the gateway city to the Amazon and a look at how people are still living on the river as they have for hundreds of years.

The visual of seeing the brown Amazon and black Negro rivers where they actually meet is quite a picture.

New Zealand – A great country with great scenery and great friendly people.  The north and south islands both offer a wide panorama of beautiful sites.  The parks and trees of Christchurch and the snow-covered mountains around Queensland are terrific sites.

San Francisco – Wow!  So much to see and do!  The Golden Gate Bridge, Embarcadero, Union Square, Chinatown, the great museums, the cable cars, fabulous food, major league sports—you can’t get tired of visiting.

Seattle and Chicago – Two very different but great cities to visit.  Seattle has Pike’s Fish Market and the gateway to Mt. Rainier.  Chicago, right on the shore of Lake Michigan, has some of the best museums and both cities have on/off buses/trolleys which offer great, easy-to-use city tours at reasonable prices.  They’re available in most major cities in America and Europe.

That about wraps up this series of The Photographs In My Mind.  I hope some of my memories stimulated you to put some of these destinations on your travel list.  I enjoyed visiting them and remembering them with you has been enjoyable, too.

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WE NEED MORE LABOR FOR KIDS

As we approach Labor Day 2017, I’m reminded of the purpose and significance of the American worker whom we honor on this day, as well as the scarcity of opportunities our children have to learn about working.

First, Labor Day itself.  It was created somewhere around 1882 here in the U.S. by a labor union to call attention to the social and economic achievements of the American worker.  It’s celebrated now on the first Monday in September, and on the same day in Canada, to honor the contributions workers have made to the strengths, prosperity and well-being of our countries.

We have parades and speeches.  A lot of outdoor activities and a general good time.

I’m reminded of my first employment as a worker when I was 12 or so and got my first bike.  I delivered Mahjong tiles and annual rules for my mother to supply all her neighbor students.  Then it was on to deliver for a local butcher shop.  From high school on I enjoyed a variety of working experiences; over Christmas I delivered printed holiday cards to fancy N.Y. department stores, then it was on to camp waiter, dishwasher, and the big time as a resort bus buy.  Along the way I traveled chain retail store routes for the Silent Watchman Co. to pick up last week’s store opening and closings and reset the clocks for next week.

You are probably thinking about all the early jobs you had—and what you learned from each.

As others following this trending theme have noted, fewer kids are working these days.  They aren’t gaining the skills that come from those first jobs until they’re in their 20s, which goes a long way to explaining the millennial attitudes showing up in the workplace.  It puts them at a tremendous disadvantage when they start their real careers.

Some of the on-the-job training is obvious.  You have to show up on time and actually do the work, or you risk getting fired.  Such rules can be new to people whose only commitments were in school, where the institution is required to keep you at least through age 18 as long as you want to hang around.

Then there’s the issue of your boss.

In one of my first jobs, my supervisor was a man about 45 years old.  He had attained the rank of manager of this small operation.   This was his sole means of support.  Even at my young age, I recognized his working life had plateaued at a very modest level.  But my trajectory—presumably through high school, then college and beyond—compared with his didn’t matter one bit.

What counted was that he knew how to run the office and my job was to show up and follow his instructions.  Period!  This wasn’t a democracy, or even a meritocracy.  It was an autocracy, and the manager of the place set the rules as he saw fit.  If I wanted to remain employed, I had to work within the rules.

On the plus side, I wasn’t always lumped with my co-workers, as was the case in school.  There were no “group projects” at work.  If I did well, I was rewarded with continued employment and extra shifts.  If my co-workers chose to goof off or show up late, they were fired.  Each of us was assessed on our individual merits.

And the education didn’t stop at the front door.  When I received my first paycheck, it took me a while to figure out who FICA was, and why he got so much of my money.  Then I had to deal with opening a bank account, depositing and writing checks, and, eventually, W2-s and taxes.

It wasn’t the coddled world of education.  Employment could be mind-numbingly boring, fast-paced, infuriating, rewarding, and even depressing.  But learning to navigate the workplace early allowed me to develop interpersonal skills and understand employment dynamics long before I started my career.  Apparently I wasn’t alone.

After spiking above 25% after the downturn, unemployment among teens from 16 to 19 dropped back near its long-term average of 16%.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Unemployment statistics only apply to those who want to work.  A better way to understand the change that took place is by considering the labor force participation rate of those from 16 to 19 years old.  This statistic counts how many people are either working or looking for work compared with the entire population in that age range.

From the 1970s through the 1990s, more than half of all teens were in the labor force.  But since 2000, things have changed dramatically.  Only about one-third of our teens are either working or looking for work.

I don’t think all the others are sitting at home playing video games, although some certainly are.  Many are probably involved in sports, camps, band, or a myriad of other activities.  That’s great, and I know that such interests are beneficial.  But there’s a world of education that can’t be obtained anywhere but in the workforce, and waiting until your 20s just slows down the process for the workers as well as the employers that have to deal with them.

And now we have another hurdle to teen employment—rising minimum wage.

Forcing companies to pay more will only shrink the limited employment opportunities that are available to this age group.

As more cities and states increase what employers must pay at the bottom rung of the work ladder, it will make more sense for companies to automate.  We’ll see more kiosks for ordering at fast-food restaurants and more tap-to-pay systems at retail stores.  Such changes might keep companies competitive, but they’ll also limit the employment opportunities for teens, so even fewer of them will have the menial jobs of our youth that paid so little, but taught so much.

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RETIREMENT 103

In our last installment on this subject, we offered a rough rule of thumb to ascertain how much you need for retirement.  That figure was 10x your last year’s compensation.  Don’t forget, you have to include your liabilities as a deduction to your assets as well.

Remember to also include the value of your home or condo, as well as the capitalized value of your social security and any other monthly income.

If you’re still a little short, consider working another five years, particularly true if you like what you do.  Working another five years gives you the opportunity to save more and increases your social security benefits.

Now, let’s talk about where and how you may want to live.

There is a growing segment of real estate options for adults 55 and older because they offer a lot of amenities and advantages.  At the very least, they are worth exploring.

Yes, you may want to stay right where you are in your own home and/or apartment.  You’re comfortable there.  You know where everything is in your neighborhood and nearby.

Starting out in a whole new environment may seem a bit scary at first, but it’s worth checking out and comparing the advantages and perhaps disadvantages senior housing offers compared to where you are now.

There are three basic cost models in senior housing and several iterations of each.  Most communities are nicely landscaped with well-groomed outdoor areas and make a welcome first impression.

Model No. 1:  Substantial down payment investment (between 500M and 1,000M) as well as monthly carrying charges.  In the event of your moving out or passing, between 75% and 90% of your initial investment is returned.

The actual cost will depend on the size and location of the unit you choose.

Model No. 2:  Similar to Model No. 1 except the initial investment is lower, but the monthly carrying charges will be higher.

Model No. 3:  Much lower as an upfront investment, but a straight rental agreement.

The principal decision should be based on how you want to live if you have the resources, not on the numbers as a real estate investment.

Some communities are right in the heart of the city while others are more spread out in the suburbs.  Depending on the specific community you find, you’ll see some of the following amenities provided or available as part of their package:

  • One, two or three meals per day provided
  • Available eating facilities for pay
  • Electric and gas utilities
  • Cable TV and WiFi
  • Swimming pool(s) and Jacuzzi
  • Fitness facility with staff trainers
  • Transportation to stores, doctors and entertainment venues
  • Affiliation with a nearby college or university
  • Numerous classes, clubs and organizations for special interests
  • Wellness monitoring and/or nurses on duty
  • Group trips to events and travel
  • Golf and/or tennis

One of the big advantages of senior housing is that it offers a built-in support system, as well as a social community for those who may not have one.  That’s a real value.

If you compare the costs of what you pay now to what’s included in the new senior community, it can be a little more reasonable than you think.

Another aspect of exploring these facilities to consider is the type of ownership and management.

Some older communities especially are set up as condominium associations where the homeowners, through a Board of Directors, are responsible for the management of the community.

A great many of the newer communities are owned and operated by private companies.  Because of the normal turnover, they have more incentive to keep the facilities up to their standards.

If you decide to explore one or more senior housing communities, you should check out which amenities are provided and consider a few other questions:

  1. How far is the nearest emergency room?
  2. When was the community built?
  3. What are the demographics regarding age, single or married, religious preferences?
  4. Are religious services held on the premises and/or how close?
  5. How long is the waiting list?

Well, that pretty much sums up most of what we learned about retirement.  I wish you a happy and fulfilling new life.

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A RIVALRY THAT SHAPED AMERICA

Long before Hamilton became a smash Broadway musical sensation, I was interested in the man who came to America without pedigree or support and climbed a ladder of obstacles to become an aide and cabinet member to George Washington.

His accomplishments for our country were enormous and his long-running disagreements with Thomas Jefferson, as well as his early demise at the hands of Aaron Burr were monumental incidents in our history.

Hamilton came to New York City about the age of 25 from the Caribbean with little formal education.  He attended several prep schools and then Kings College, now known as Columbia University.  At the start of the American Revolution, he joined a local N.Y. militia.  During his first year, he served as an artillery captain and quickly moved up the ranks to spend four years as one of George Washington’s military aides.

After the war, he studied and passed the N.Y. bar exam.  He became one of N.Y.’s most prominent attorneys.  He attended the Philadelphia Convention to draft a new constitution for America.  In what became the Federalist Papers, he co-authored a series of essays with Jay Jay and James Madison in support of the new constitution.

When Washington was elected our first president, Hamilton became Secretary of the Treasury.  Thomas Jefferson was appointed Secretary of State and it was here the rivalry and idealist combat emerged.  They had widely differing views on how the country could function and grow.

The two men differed on many subjects, including whether the country would be agrarian (Jefferson) or a manufacturing business society (Hamilton).

In Washington’s cabinet, the main issue dividing the two became the creation of a National Bank.  Hamilton argued a strong national bank could pay off the nation’s numerous debts and give creditors a personal stake in the success of the country.  Jefferson feared a national bank would take money from the poor and put it in the hands of the rich.  Jefferson worried that corrupt politicians could gain access to advance their own personal wealth.  In spite of Jefferson’s concerns, Washington ultimately supported the establishment of a National Bank in Philadelphia.

The enmity between the two festered from there.

Alexander Hamilton was only 5’7” tall, but always well-dressed and neat.  He had an organized mind, was intense and energetic.

He felt power should be concentrated in a strong central government and supported shipping and manufacturing.  His foreign policy was pro Britain.

Jefferson, on the other hand, tended to ramble when he talked, jumped from one topic to another.  He was 6’2” tall, poetic, creative and tended to dress in worn clothes.

He wanted decentralized government with power to the states and believed with education humans could be trusted to champion liberty.

His vision for America was for westward expansion and to be primarily a farming community.

He was very pro France.

It’s interesting to note that Jefferson’s early creation of a Republican political party became the forerunner of today’s Democratic Party.  Today, the roles have reversed somewhat.  The Democrats want a loose, living interpretation of the Constitution while the Republicans want a strict view of the document as written.

In 1795, after six years in the cabinet, Hamilton returned to NYC to his law practice.  A few years later, he wrote a series of essays against another rival, Aaron Burr.  * Burr felt that Hamilton was responsible for his loss to be governor of New York and challenged Hamilton to a duel.  Burr shot Hamilton on July 11, 1804, when he was only 47 years old.

We lost a great contributor to the growth and success of our country.  He provided a creative foundation to paying off our debts and generating revenue for our government to operate while encouraging the dynamic growth of the manufacturing and business communities.

In a relatively brief career, Hamilton:

  • Championed the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
  • As Secretary of Treasury, he put the U.S. on a stable financial basis, paid off the debts of the states and the national government with a tariff on imports and a tax on whiskey.
  • Set up the Central Bank to make liquidity on financial markets possible.
  • Authored George Washington’s farewell address, which remains one of the finest statements of conservative principles.

We owe a lot to this unheralded hero of our formation.

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AT WAR WITH FIRE OFFICIALS

I’m not sure who declared it—or why.  No lives were lost, but it took its toll on me and accelerated my aging process dramatically.

It was February for sure and I think it was 1986.  I was at the Pasadena Convention Center with our small consumer woodworking show.  It was our second or third show in Pasadena.

The show had 100 or so exhibitors and attracted about 8,000 to 10,000 visitors who wanted to see all the small tools and gadgets to make woodworking easier and more fun.

The show opened on Friday at noon with a typical light crowd.  The meat of the crowd didn’t usually show up till after 5pm.

Now it was about 3pm or so and the local Pasadena Fire Marshal came storming into the office right off the exhibit floor to tell me “he was closing the show.”  To answer my pleading “Why?,” he said, “There’s a law against visitors being next to operating machinery.”

“What are you talking about?”  I agitatedly asked.  “That’s nonsense, there is no such law.”  Now, at that point, we had done shows in Los Angeles, Orange County, and even in Pasadena and never heard anything like that before.

He was unmoved and told me he didn’t have to show me the actual law.  He was closing the show—and he did.

If I never felt panic before, I certainly did now.  He got on the PA system and announced the closure and told all the visitors they had to leave.

That’s when the onslaught of exhibitors came crowding into our office area wanting to know what was going on and threatening to sue or lynch me.

I called a lawyer, who told me a fire marshal or a policeman can’t carry a law library with them and there wasn’t much we could do to countermand his order.  We could go to court next week, but that wouldn’t solve the immediate problem.

You may recall my blog on 2-22-17 and one of the “Three Experiences That Changed My Life” was the Phoenix Fire Marshal wanting to close the Arizona Home Beautiful Show.  I was able to get him to waive his order by opening up the stands in the coliseum so people could sit and watch the Dancing Water Show.

That was my first encounter with an arbitrary fire marshal, but he was a lot easier to deal with.  This second encounter in Pasadena was a lot more difficult.

I put a call in for the convention center manager, but he was nowhere to be found.  I told the exhibitors we would have a meeting Saturday morning before the show opened at 10am.  At that point, I didn’t have the slightest clue what I was going to tell them.

Friday evening was a gut-wrenching, tension-filled couple of hours.  Not sure I slept much at all.  Very early Saturday morning I finally connected with the convention center manager, who told me he had been aware of the situation, had talked to the fire chief and had a compromise solution to offer.

If we had each exhibitor with operating machinery set up some kind of barrier to keep visitors at least three feet away from the machinery, the fire marshal would allow us to open the show.

We got a lot of short pipe and drape and were able to keep our show attendees three feet or more away from the machinery.  It wasn’t pretty and the visitors wanted to get up as close as possible but at least we got the show opened.

That wasn’t quite the end of it, however.  I was issued a summons to appear in court for “obstructing the order of a fire marshal.”

The eventual outcome was dismissal of the charges if I paid about $3,500 in court costs, plus about $5,000 in lawyer fees.  What’s a few more gray hairs?

Some months later we were at the Long Beach Convention Center doing another woodworking show and here comes the fire marshal.  I groaned and said, “Here we go again!”

He told me he was thinking of closing the show because we had very crowded aisles and he heard I was likely to cause trouble.  I guess he and the guy in Pasadena were buddies.

After an hour or so of negotiations with the convention center manager and the fire marshal, we convinced him there was no real problem and he could go home for the weekend.

Then there was Cincinnati, where the fire marshal insisted we put turnstiles at the entrance so he could count the number of people entering.  The inference of course was that at some point he would close off new entrants.

He didn’t think he would stand there himself but come by every so often to check.  If that wasn’t bad enough, the real kicker was he had no turnstiles to count the number of people leaving the show.  Another fiasco!

About 1987 we moved our much larger woodworking machinery show from L.A. to the Anaheim Convention Center and everything seemed to work out quite well.

Right before our second show in 1989, the fire department asked for a meeting with us and the center management.  They said they wanted a form from all the exhibitors who had operating machinery as well as a $30 fee to cover their administration.

Now we had about 800 exhibitors in this show for the trade and trying to alert out exhibitors and have them comply at this late date seemed to be difficult, at best.

Most important of all, would the form or the fee make anything safer or less harmful.  No answer!  So we distributed the forms and we paid the fee.

Truth be told, our shows, which included demonstrations of operating machinery, were a bit of a puzzle to fire officials.  There were no standard procedures and they just didn’t know what to do.

This was not a war we wanted or enjoyed.

Producing trade and consumer shows was a fun and exciting business much like the definition an Air Force pilot told me about flying the first jet fighters; “Hours of boredom, punctuated by moments of shark terror.”

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