Sales Tax Holiday’s – Pure Politikal-Gimmickry

Angry Grizzly BearUntil I moved to New Mexico, I had never heard of a “Sales Tax Holiday.”  As a kid, I learned about rebates from an economist who defined rebates as money that did not have to be charged, which pays for a program to give some money back after the purchase concludes.  However, rarely are rebates actual cash returns, but get “built” into the price to sell the product.  Consider all the gimmicks and rebates involved in selling a car, and you know the truth and deceptiveness of rebates.  Sales tax holidays are one of the biggest scams perpetrated in 17-different U.S. states, and it is time to rip the bandage off this festering wound and apply some sunshine disinfectant!

What is Politics?

Politics is too often a word with so much baggage; people become confused and stop listening after hearing the word politics.  According to Webster:

As a Noun, “the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power.”

    • The activities of governments concerning the political relations between countries.”
    • The academic study of government and the state.”
    • Activities within an organization that is aimed at improving someone’s status or position and are typically considered to be devious or divisive.”
    • A particular set of political beliefs or principles.”
    • The assumptions or principles relating to or inherent in a sphere, theory, or thing, especially when concerned with power and status in a society.”

As a Verb, politic/s is derogatory and is defined as “engaging in political activities.”

Knowledge Check!From Old French Politique “political,” Latin from Greek Politikos, and Polits “citizen” and Polis “city.”  Thus, we have described the term politics in all its glory and inhumanity.  Is the term more understood?

Politics is a descriptive tool used to identify certain human activities where power is sought, and devious means and divisive gestures are employed to obtain that power.  Every action tied to securing power through devious means and divisive gestures is politics or political, which means derogatory.  For those needing more, derogatory is “showing a critical or disrespectful attitude.”  Thus, at the root, politicians by their very name and nature are derogatory towards those who elect them into power.

What is Realpolitik?

Bobblehead DollRealpolitik is politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral and ethical premises.  For a long time, the American public has witnessed the same political gamesmanship (realpolitik) in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Presidency.  All because those in power have intentionally blurred the line between a Republic and a Democracy to stay in control.  Never does realpolitik benefit the rule of law or provide equality as a primary and fundamental governance position.

Sales Taxes

Use the link on Sales Taxes to appreciate progressive and regressive taxes more fully.  The sales tax sits at the highest pinnacle for regression of all the progressive ideas needing to be eliminated.  Consider this, in states with the highest sales taxes, the sales tax is a reversed pyramid scheme where the final consumer winds up paying taxes on business-to-business transactions, dynamically increasing the price of the final goods or services delivered.Gravy Train 3

From an article on sales taxes by the Tax Foundation, we find the following important information:

“Narrow sales tax bases reduce collections, but more importantly, they make the tax less neutral and less economically efficient. Many states exempt certain goods (like groceries or clothing) from the sales tax for political reasons, excluding many consumer services (such as dry cleaning, haircuts, or tax preparation) largely by historical accident. Most states instituted their sales taxes during the Great Depression, when services made up a much smaller portion of the economy. Since then, the portion of total U.S. personal consumption dedicated to services has grown significantly, while the purchase of goods has declined. This trend has contributed to the erosion of states’ sales tax bases over time, an unintentional base narrowing that puts upward pressure on sales tax rates.

How can a person tell that sales tax schemes create inequitable tax bases:

Curiously, a policy expressly designed to inject progressivity into sales taxes—an exemption for groceries—largely fails to accomplish its purpose. Studies suggest that the exclusion of groceries beyond the necessary exemption for food purchased using SNAP or WIC does not favor lower earners.”

What is a Sales Tax Holiday?

Lemmings 2Simply put, a sales tax holiday is a day, usually just a single day when the government allows you to purchase goods and services without paying a sales tax on the receipt.  However, all the other sales taxes are still built into the cost of the good or service; just on this special day, the final receipt sales tax is not charged.  Sales tax holidays are one of the most inefficient and ineffective methods of “sharing unanticipated government money surpluses with the taxpaying public.”

How do we know sales tax holidays are a gimmick, are ineffective and inefficient, and are nothing but the practice of realpolitik?  In 2017, the Federal Reserve researched and found that sales tax holidays only shift normal patterns of purchases, not spurring economic growth, not increasing sales, just moving sales to a holiday to see a minor benefit on regularly planned purchases.  What’s worse, sales tax holidays discriminate unequally, making taxpayers the fool.

Tax Scheme 2For example, Florida in 2021 held a “Freedom Week” where camping supplies and outdoor hobby supplies were tax-exempt.  As a disabled person, I cannot camp.  As an empty nester, there are not many outdoor hobbies for myself and my retired spouse to enjoy where we need supplies.  Thus, people like myself and my spouse would not benefit from “Freedom Week.”  The same goes for tax-exempt school supplies; not having children in school, we do not benefit from a sales tax holiday as kids prepare to go back to school.

Worse, those in the lowest income brackets, guess what, they do not benefit from sales tax holidays either!  Just like in the example above regarding the sales tax “exemption for groceries—largely fails to accomplish its purpose and does not favor lower-income earners.  Hence the politikal-gimmickry of sales tax holidays.  If your circumstances do not allow you to participate in the sales tax holiday on the exact day (or days) provided by your state, you lose, and the politicians could care less.

Janelle Cammenga, writing for The Tax Foundation, makes the following case:

Sales tax holidays are political gimmicks that distract from genuine, permanent tax relief. Sales tax holidays are free marketing for businesses to advertise for a 4-7% discount on products.  If a state must offer a “holiday” from its tax system, it is implicit that the tax system is uncompetitive. If policymakers want to save money for consumers, they should work to reduce the sales tax rate year-round.”

Tax BurdenI agree, mightily, sales taxes are progressive, which makes them a poor tax, to begin with.  Adding sales tax holidays make a sales tax worse!  Yet, they are sold to the public as if they were the best thing since sliced white bread.  While it may be true that taxes are the cost of society, there are better ways to collect taxes, and there are infinitely better ways to spend taxpayer dollars than the profligate waste we see happening daily!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Knee-Jerk Actions – Micro-Aggression or Humor: A Choice!

Exclamation MarkLet me be clear, upfront, and personal; I am not here to tell you what to think, how to think when to think, or where to think.  I will not force my opinions and ideas upon you as the global corporate media does.  I will offer ideas and suggestions and how you proceed is your affair.  Your choices will determine your destiny.  I aim to aid you in understanding and viewing the world a little differently to improve your destination.

Action vs. Reaction

Action encapsulates intention, producing accomplishment from organized activity; action is a process of thinking, acting, and becoming.  Only in physics should we ever consider every action having an equal and opposite reaction.  Why; because for humans, any reaction gives control to someone else and removes intentional controls.  A reaction is all about response to stimulus, no thinking, no changing, no intent, no organized activity, and no recovery until we, the human agent, retake control of our action.Paradox

Easy example, consider the toddler throwing a fit.  The toddler is trying to obtain a reaction from the parents favorable to that toddler’s individual desires at that moment.  However, any good parent will not respond to the toddler’s demands and usually provide behavior correction to enforce the thought that the toddler cannot make demands.  To regain control over the stimulus provided, the toddler must correct behavior or will not gain control over the future individual actions without additional parental intervention, an undesirable activity.  Thus, early on, the toddler will realize actions do not bring reactions but decisive action by parental figures, which is generally not the desired outcome.

Action versus reaction is an essential principle with foundations in moral agency, individual agency, and long-term consequences.  However, if the parent reacts to every toddler fit, the toddler gains power over the parental figure, which is an undesirable activity for the parent.  Action versus reaction is not splitting philosophical hairs or linguistic nuance; action is an intention-producing accomplishment; the reaction is an intentionless activity where self-control has been given to others.Calvin & Hobbes - Irony Hurts

Victor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” and Robert Solomon, author of “Not Passion’s Slave: Emotions and Choice,” both speak to this action versus reaction principle in a manner easily grasped.  We, as individuals, might not be able to control our every environment nor control the activities of others upon us, but we can control our actions in response.  Retaining control of self, improving who and what we are, and keeping the power of intentional activity.

Knee-Jerk Reactions

The ‘knee-jerk response’ is any reaction that is done automatically, without thought.  The knee-jerk reflex is what’s known as a mono-synaptic response. The impulse only has to jump from one nerve to another once.  Thus, the medical definition for a social activity, a knee-jerk reaction, requires no cognitive thinking, no intention and is the worst form of response to the intentional stimulus of others.

Bait & Switch 2For example, Speaker Pelosi tore up President Trump’s State of the Union speech record on live, national TV as a knee-jerk response to the sitting US President.  Of all the US President’s Speaker Pelosi has experienced, her behavior to President Trump was the most toddler-like, and people quickly excused this behavior as “Trump-Derangement Syndrome (TDS).”  Thus, we can drop the “knee” in knee-jerk responses and describe the activity aptly as being a jerk.  No thought, not intentional activity (even though the action has intention, the brain does not register cognitive effort), and the reaction to the stimulus is mono-synaptic.

Micro-Aggression and Macro-Aggression

Micro-aggression, according to Webster, is “a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).”  What is missing in this definition; individual perspective.  Micro-aggression is a personal choice to take offense at “a comment or action that” is judged to be “subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally” expressing what is considered by person one to be “a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority).”

Social Justice WarriorMacro-aggression is the complete opposite and are “obvious, intentional, above-board insults, where there is no chance of a mistake on the part of the transgressor to be provoking, insulting, or otherwise discourteous.”  But, again, the definition does not include the fact that the person claiming another person’s activities are macro-aggressive is a personal choice, a judgment, and a socially powered decision.

Social Justice Warrior 2Micro- and macro-aggression are often claimed to be “triggered” by specific words, colors, foods, waters, fruits, and a host of other items.  Essentially using fear and envy to demand people act differently or the consequences are toddler-like fits and fussing, picketing, rioting, looting, e.g., acting like a terrorist.  Thus, micro- and macro- aggression is nothing but the toddler throwing a temper tantrum because they are not getting what they want at that moment.  While claiming their aggression is on behalf of someone else, and their acts of terrorism are excusable because the aggression was triggered by someone or something else.  This is like the eight-year-old older brother or sister throwing a fit that the toddler was punished and claiming they are behaving irrationally in support of the toddler’s tantrum.  How many parents will buy this logic; I do not!

Humor

cropped-laughing-owlLove them or hate them, comedians have changed since I was a kid sneaking peaks of comic relief on cable while washing dishes late into the night.  Comedians now carefully pick their materials based upon their perceptions of the audience.  Thus, we have classes of comedians, including “Shock Comedians,” who try to be as offensive as possible and still get laughs.  We have political comedians; some come down equally on both sides of the political aisle, others are as cemented to a political agenda as they can be and use their “comedy” as a tool to influence their audiences towards that political agenda.  We have a host of comedians dedicated to helping people laugh and others who see themselves as able to influence, regardless of consequences.

I am not providing marketing to any comedian by giving examples of the statements made above.  You can certainly use a search engine to find these examples for yourself if interested.  You might even be able to think of several instances from history, especially recent history, that fit into the descriptions provided.  As I said in the beginning, you remain empowered to think as you prefer.

Bobblehead DollMy point is that humor, like every other emotion, can be a tool to build or a tool to destroy, and the choice of build or destroy rests in the user, but the consequences rest in the hands of the audience.  Consider this for a moment, how fast would a “Shock” comedian change their tune if the swearing, foul and degrading language, and behaviors manifested on stage did not get a single laugh, or worse, resulted in people standing up and walking out?  Some would change quickly, others it might take a little more pushing, but the result would be the same, a changed comedian.  Why; because capitalism works!

The comedian is the greatest example of capitalism at work in the world.  People will pay money for entertainment, but if the entertainer insults, denigrates, and derides, that entertainer is history and is told to find a different line of work through capitalism.  The pattern of comedians can be witnessed and applied across the spectrum from politicians to judges, from businesses to non-profits, all because capitalism works.

Why?

Why this article; why now?  On Monday this week, I received an email talking about micro-aggression.  The author used greeting cards and their sayings as representations of trigger events for micro-aggression.  We have the US President (Fraudulent or Not) being hostile and aggressive towards unvaccinated people.  But unvaccinated people are not spreading the Delta-Variant COVID virus; vaccinated people are.  We have social unrest in Cuba, where nobody is taking notice because for too long, the social elite has said that Cuba, as a Marxist-Leninist country, is a good thing and cannot stand watching their lies become evident.

Knowledge Check!Like the disc-jockey’s of my youth said, “And the Hits just keep on coming!”  Pick a spot on the globe, and you will find problems, issues, and concerns driven by micro- and macro-aggressive people who refuse to understand the difference between action and reaction—leaving this article as an attempt to aid in making better decisions.  How you choose to respond to the day’s events informs the political leaders and social influencers if they are winning or losing.  Thus, choose better, knowing that the social influencers and political leaders want you to react, not act!  Hence, choose to act.  Choose to use your moral agency and individual agency as a tool to intentionally choose your following action in the process of becoming who you want to be and not what others want you to be for their selfish gain.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Flexible Workspaces – Alternative Work Options

Bobblehead DollAfter my service-connected injuries went crazy in 2010 and my nerves decided I needed to be a “bobblehead doll,” I quickly realized there was a need for alternatives to commuting to an office every day and working as a traditional employee.  However, alternatives to conventional employment continue to be few and far between, primarily due to the IRS in America.  2020 saw a breakout in other options to the traditional employment paradigm, and I would like to continue this discussion to generate more alternatives to conventional employment.

Olmstead and Smith (1989) wrote what I consider to be the quintessential and sentinel book on alternatives to traditional employment, “Creating a Flexible Workspace: How to Select and Manage Alternative Work Options.”  Flexibility in the workplace is not just a Human Resources (HR) duty but is helped by having HR people with imaginations and who are empowered to be creative to keep good employees.  Flexibility is not merely limited to a wide variety of work schedules which can be offered optionally.  Flexibility in the workspace also includes on and off-site employment, and cross-training, as key fundamentals in empowering employees and driving workplace flexibility programs.  But flexibility always begins with the realization that flexibility is a two-directional relationship between employer and employee and a means for enhancing the talents, skills, and abilities already hired as part of a dedicated appreciative inquiry desire to innovate.

Appreciative InquiryQuestion

Appreciative inquiry is a growth mechanism that states that they already have enough of what a business organization needs, provided they listen to their employees.  Appreciative inquiry and common sense tell leaders who want to know and change their organization how and where to begin.  Appreciative inquiry-based leadership is 6-continuous steps that start small and cycle to larger problems as momentum for excellence permeates through an organization.  But the first step, just like in defeating a disabling addiction, is admitting there is a problem.

The six operational steps of appreciative inquiry:

      1. Admit there is a problem and commit to change.
      2. Define the problem.
      3. Discover the variables and stay focused on the positive.
      4. Dream BIG!
      5. Design the future and outline the steps to that future.
      6. Destiny, create the destination you desire.

Follow the instructions on a shampoo bottle, “Wash, Rinse, Repeat.”  The appreciative inquiry model can be scaled, repeated, implemented into small or large teams, and produce motivated members who then become the force to building change.  Allow yourself and your team to learn, this takes time, but through building motivation for excellence, time can be captured to perform.

Call Center Agent - FemaleFlexibility and Viability – Not just Terms, but Lifestyles

Flexibility in an organization is understood as accepting change and positively using that change to grow and develop more flexibility.  Viability in an organization is where the continuing effectiveness of flexibility generates new growth markets and creates the organization’s potential to flex to meet the growth areas.  Flexibility and viability are interlinked and interwoven ideas that every employee should be conscious of and striving to enhance personally as part of their brand.

Andragogy - The PuzzleErroneously called “Employee Engagement,” flexibility and viability are the continued efforts of all employees to participate in the business’ success.  Appreciative inquiry is the sum of the efforts to flex and be viable in competition with other businesses, recognizing that the answers to your current problems are always found in listening to employees.  Please note, you can think your business is flexible enough, but when the winds of change blow, will your business collapse or grow?

For example, as a consultant and subject matter expert, I was called into a manufacturing company to improve flexibility.  The company had been around for more than 100-years, and the owners, a family business, figured they were pretty flexible.  From day one, though, it was apparent the business had stagnated, and there was no flexibility or viability left in the organization.  When the 2008 market recession occurred, the company lost 5 of its 6 operating shifts and barely survived by draining all remaining liquidity to stay afloat.  The company has limped along ever since, to the amazement of everyone who has worked at this facility.

GearsHence, one must understand the principles of viability, flexibility, and appreciative inquiry as a lifestyle of daily choices where the leadership is engaged in and listening to employees.  Failure to listen remains the number one reason businesses, and governments fail.  Who should governments be listening to; average citizens, not statisticians, not special interest groups, not lawyers and political cronies, the people who voted them into power.  Who should businesses be listening to; their employees, not customers, not vendors, not shareholders, all of whom need to have a voice, but the front-line employee has answers.

Realities versus Fiction

Having worked with many a small businessperson across the continental US, the smaller a business understands the need to listen to employees, but the bigger a company becomes, the less desire they have to listen to anyone, let alone employees.  This is a reality.quote-mans-inhumanity

The fiction is the proclamation that the customer should be listened to, the shareholders know what the business needs, or the vendors have essential information for the company.  While all have a seat at the table, the front-line employees remain a wealth of information generally untapped, unused, and depressingly denied the ability to help.  As a consultant, I spend most of my time listening to the employees, then presenting their ideas to management.  I have never claimed another employee’s ideas as mine and never will.  Yet, I know too many consultants whose ethical and professional brands might be slightly less demanding than my behavior standards.  This also is reality, watch the ethics of a consultant; if they waiver, there is duplicity nearby!

Creating Flexibility in the Workplace

As an industrial and organizational psychologist, I affirm in a language most somber that no single tool will be a “magic bullet” for fixing employee concerns and building flexibility and viability.  Holistic solutions are not just a current “buzzword,” but an actual truth.  The solutions must grow from an apt quote from Captain Jack Sparrow:

“The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can’t do. For instance, you can accept that your father was a pirate and a good man, or you can’t. But pirate is in your blood, boy, so you’ll have to square with that someday. And me, for example, I can let you drown, but I can’t bring this ship into Tortuga all by me onesies, savvy? So, can you sail under the command of a pirate, or can you not” [emphasis mine]?

People ProcessesWhat can your company do, and what can your company not do?  Between these two extremes are a lot of different possibilities, opportunities, and areas for exploration.  For example, as a call center, can you home shore your agents?  Maybe the technology is there, but are the legal questions regarding data security and safety open to home shoring?  What about contingent employment, where you use knowledge vendors to fill in during peak times, thus allowing your call center to flex off and not have to work overtime so much?  Would your call center do well with phased retirement, partial retirement, or voluntary reduced work time programs?

Each of these options builds flexibility and viability, but they come with consequences, and the valuation of those consequences should include input from the front-line employees.  For example, a call center I am familiar with used to have stepped departments, where a rep could learn the basics, then promote into the next higher step.

3-direectional-balanceExcept, the model was broken by HR, and the depth of available personnel dried up.  Thus, the call center went to a universal agent model, where all agents were expected to know all the different departments and steps and act accordingly.  The universal model was sold as a cost-saving measure.  The employees did not like the new model as all the business processes were built on the old stepped agent model.  The universal model failed, the company could not afford to return to the stepped model, and knowledge was walking out the door at an exceeding pace.

The answer was to listen to the front-line employees, but it took more than five years and ten different consulting firms and technology firms to reach this point.  But the cost of lost potential sales and lost business knowledge is still hindering this company from a full recovery.  Why; because the change that broke the company has never been fixed, just plastered over, and the universal agent approach destroyed organizational trust between employees and the employer.  Decisions have consequences, and if you do not know what your company can do, you do not know what your company cannot do; especially, if you refuse to listen to the front-line employees.I'm not listening - boring :: Funny :: MyNiceProfile.com

What will your employees do?  What are your employees already capable of doing if provided the opportunity?  Where is the focus in your company, customers, vendors, shareholders, or employees?  Why?  Who of your employees can you absolutely trust to accomplish a task?  How do you know that employee is trustworthy?  What makes that employee happy to return to work every day?Michael Shurtleff quote: Listening is not merely hearing, it is receiving the message...

When you listen to your employees, honestly and openly communicate with them, and know the why to share the why your employees can work marvels you could not believe possible.  If you desire flexibility and viability in your company, build it!  One employee at a time using imagination, honest communication, and build organizational trust.  You will be surprised at how often the answer to improving your company doesn’t have a dollar sign but a living person and a debt of gratitude.

Reference

Olmsted, B., & Smith, S. (1989). Creating a flexible workplace: How to select and manage alternative work options. American Management Association (AMACOM).

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

I Hate Being Lied To – Follow-Up on Diabetes and Dieting

Angry Grizzly BearEarlier this week, I went to a doctor’s appointment that included diabetes boot camp and was instructed by Dr. T., a clinical pharmacist for the El Paso VAMC.  At the time, I thought the only liars were the Food and Drug Administration and the food pyramid I have been living for 40+ years.  After some additional research, I have to add Dr. T. to the list of liars using peer-reviewed sources.  Well, at least he is in good company.  The list of liars includes a neurologist who claimed all calories are the same and reducing caloric intake and caloric burn will help a person lose weight.  The advice I have been following for the better part of six years to no avail.

Cave Man Foods

The “Cave Man Foods” pitched by Dr. T. were sourced from Keto-Diets, not “14-years of research at the VA.”  The problem with the Keto-Diets is Ketosis, and if you have a liver problem, which I do, you can do serious damage to the liver by eating eggs.  Eggs are a staple of the Keto-Diets; do you see the problem here?Gravy Train 2

I have a friend, and he and his spouse went Keto about 16 months ago.  Earlier this year, his wife had liver failure, and the Keto-diet helped create a liver problem for someone who has never had liver problems in their life.  The correlational relationship between consuming eggs and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NFLD) is pretty solid based on my research.  However, as I am not a dietician, a medical doctor, or a food researcher, I can only rely upon medical advice and encourage you to seek medical opinions (plural) before starting any diet regimen!

Calories are not the same!

Let us establish a base of information.  A calorie is a unit of energy defined as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of a quantity of water by one degree.  In Junior High School, we used peanuts, sugar cubes, and other home ingredients to explore calories in chemistry class.  I still remember setting foods on fire and measuring water temperature correctly to get the caloric burns right.  However, dieticians never discussed then and not discussed now that one calorie is not the same as another calorie.  Just like rocks are not all the same size, have the same value, or can be used in the same manner.

RocksFor example, calories from sugar are not the same calories from kidney beans, even though both are units of energy, and 2000 calories of chocolate are not the same as 2000 calories of carrots.  If we are clear on this, let’s discuss why this is important.  2015, a neurologist told me all my problems with my nerves lay in how much fat I was carrying around.  He claimed that if I reduced the amount of calories I consumed and increased the number of calories burned, I would quickly lose weight.  Losing weight never happened, nor could I keep any weight lost off for any length of time.

Three years after this meeting, I was told I had developed diabetes and a non-alcoholic fatty liver, as well as gallstones, and my GERD was out of control.  This was when I was first introduced to the notion that not all calories are equal, even though all calories are units of energy.  I did not understand this discussion totally then; after Dr. T.’s discussion, I still do not fully understand the entire argument.

Lemmings 3I am sure that energy sources are not equal, even though calories are simple units of energy, per the laws and rules of physics.  However, I am not a chemist, a physicist, nor exceptionally well versed in diet and health.  I am not a dietician and am left to try and figure out the best advice and live that advice.  As a foodie, I have yet to find any diet, as the first part of a diet is “die” dying of hunger!  Before you ask, yes, Garfield is a hero of mine and has been my whole life.

Complications to Weight Loss

2017 thru 2019, I had been more active and had lost a little weight.  July through December 2020 come along, and all the weight lost is back in spades; why, the injuries sustained at the hands of the VA Police in arresting me for not wearing a mask at the VA Hospital in Phoenix, AZ.  According to research conducted on people with spinal cord injuries, the following are key variables in weight loss:

      • Age
      • Race
      • Marital Status
      • Employment Status
      • Family history of overweight/obesity
      • Level and duration of injury
      • Cholesterol level at baseline.

Thus, it is only logical that since my fallacious arrests and injuries at the hands of the VA Police at the Carl T. Hayden VAMC in Phoenix, AZ., exercise and weight loss would be impeded, acting as complicating factors in improving my health.  Why is this important; because, my new primary care provider does not think I have any problems and refuses to renew medication until other specialists claim the medicines are needed.  I find it interesting that the doctors would vary so significantly between VISN 17 and VISN 22.Lemmings 4

Mask Policies

While the following is not a variable in weight loss, it is part and parcel of the lies and problems I have experienced since Feb 2020.  The Las Cruces, NM., VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) had no problems accepting my doctor’s note regarding my inability to wear a mask.  When I arrived at the El Paso VAMC, the VA Police had no problem with my doctor’s letter regarding my inability to wear a mask, handed me a face shield, and then provided protection for me with other bureaucrats who took umbrage that I was not wearing a mask.

cropped-bird-of-prey.jpgMeaning that what I have been declaring about the mask policy, the mask mandates, and the hypocrisy of zealot VA Police Officers at the Carl T. Hayden VAMC is 100% true, and my treatment was not in accordance with the mask policy (emailed directive) from Washington DC.  I hate being lied to, detest being arrested and injured when I am right and refuse to be silent about how poorly the VA is treating veterans!  Does anyone know a lawyer who is willing and hungry enough to take on the VA?

References

Chen, Y., Henson, S., Jackson, A. et al. Obesity intervention in persons with spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord 44, 82–91 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.sc.3101818

Gundry, S. R. (2017). The plant paradox: The hidden dangers in “Healthy” Foods that cause disease and weight gain. HarperCollins.

Joshi, S., Ostfeld, R. J., & McMacken, M. (2019). The ketogenic diet for obesity and diabetes—enthusiasm outpaces evidence. JAMA internal medicine, 179(9), 1163-1164.

Mokhtari, Z., Poustchi, H., Eslamparast, T., & Hekmatdoost, A. (2017). Egg consumption and risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. World journal of hepatology, 9(10), 503.

Taubes, G. (2008). Good calories, bad calories: Fats, carbs, and the controversial science of diet and health. Anchor.

Taubes, G. (2011). Why we get fat and what to do about it. Anchor.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Loyal Oppositionists – A Leadership Principle Requiring Focus and Explanation

ToolsThe last time I discussed being a loyal oppositionist, I am afraid people missed the point.  Apparently, the thought absorbed was that only a person could be a loyal oppositionist in politics, which is incorrect.  Thus, I am revisiting the principles of choosing to be a loyal oppositionist.

Loyal Oppositionists

It is less that you are an adversary and more that you are someone with an opinion that (although frightening to me) might in some way enrich my own. And if I raise myself to being a partner with you on this mutual journey of ours, and if I refuse to bow to the posture of being a frightened adversary as you intersect my journey with a journey different than my own, we can profoundly change what we would have otherwise both died wrestling over.”  ― Craig D. Lounsbrough

Webster defines “Loyal Opposition” as “a [person] whose opposition to the party in power is constructive, responsible, and bounded by loyalty to fundamental interests and principles.”  If we are ever in a position of power, we, the loyal oppositionists, stay mindful of our actions, responsible and accountable to those who supported us to power. We remain true to the organization’s fundamental principles, giving us the privilege to serve as a leader.

Lemmings 5Loyal Oppositionists never use violence to control the thoughts of others.  We refute ideas with more potent ideas.  We employ words, conviction, and confidence.  We love the freedom found under the “Rule of Law.”  We are constructive in our comments, truthful, and we research and report, even if it means we must improve our individual actions to meet our ideals.  Now, more than ever in American History, America needs loyal oppositionists to step forward, answer the call, and defend liberty against the tyranny thrust upon us.

You see, the point is that the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.”  ― Henrik Ibsen, An Enemy of the People

Principles of Loyal Oppositionists

Trust is earned, respect is given, and loyalty is demonstrated. Betrayal of any one of those is to lose all three.” – Ziad K. Abdelnour

Thus, the first principle of loyal oppositionists is to adhere to and commit to understanding this basic equation.  Failure to know and live this basic equation means loss of leadership, wasted resources, and chaos.  Important to note, these principles come before being “constructive, responsible, and bounded.”

Exclamation MarkWhile not precisely a ranked principle, a person’s character is witnessed; they are not spoken, not listened to, observed, and judged by others.

You can easily judge a man’s character by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Like trust in a relationship, a person’s character is built upon mutual experiences, time, and consistent behavior.  Loyal Oppositionists understand the power and reputation inherent in a person’s character; they are slow to judge, quick to observe and create their own opinions about other people’s character.  Realizing that a person’s character is built, allow yourself and others time to get to know your character.Virtue

The following cannot be stressed enough:

Loyalty means nothing unless it has at its heart the absolute principle of self-sacrifice.” – Woodrow Wilson

Self-sacrifice is not equivalent or comparable to being a floor mat for everyone to walk on.  Self-Sacrifice is all about knowing the why and being a volunteer.  Not to the point of burn-out, and not to inflate an ego or anything other than an honest desire to render assistance to the best of one’s abilities.  Loyal oppositionists want to help!  Failing to understand this mental desire is the number one reason why loyal oppositionists lose positions, roles, and employment.  Leaders, do you know who to trust as a loyal oppositionist?  Do you know how to use a loyal oppositionist to advance ideas to solutions?

DetectiveConfucius makes a powerful statement here for loyal oppositionists and their leaders.

Base yourself in loyalty and trust. Don’t be companions with those who are not your moral equal. When you make a mistake, don’t hesitate to [admit and] correct it.”

How often has a team failed in competition because one team member has the moral integrity of a louse and the entire team suffers, without ever knowing why they keep losing?  Consider your favorite sports teams, how many make the news for acting without moral integrity, and you can answer the first question quickly and easily!  Doubt this fact, pick a team, any team, any sport, and job, and you will find the truth glaring at you.  Morality matters!

Leaders…  Never Forget

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.” – Edward R. Murrow

Remove America, insert your company or branded organization, and you will find significant truth in the statement from Mr. Murrow.  Dissent is defined as concluding contrary to the majority, expressing an opinion different from prevailing opinions or an official position, or simply a disagreement.

cropped-bird-of-prey.jpgI was working in a call center for a prominent online adult educator, where I questioned the software being changed and the rollout of the new software system.  The software would not be finished and thoroughly user-friendly for an additional five years after the initial rollout.  I expressed my dismay at rolling out a partially completed product when time and energy should have been put into finishing the software before rolling it out for all the employees.  My director felt this was disloyal to the organization, trumped-up fallacious claims, and wanted to punish me for disloyalty.  I walked out of that job; I was not disloyal then, I am still not disloyal to the brand.  I am not loyal to that director or the supervisor who craved a promotion and signed off on my being punished on fallacious claims and charges.

Mr. Murrow’s point is extremely critical for leaders and followers to embrace.  Loyal opposition lives as long as leaders, and followers, agree to disagree.  In the middle of two extreme points, truth is found, solutions improve, and people are built.  Thus, loyal oppositionists’ value is the second point in an extreme to aid in changing perspectives and building a better product, service, country, or nation.

Knowledge Check!While killing loyal opposition is most visible in the political spectrum where partisan politicians cannot agree to disagree and work together, the problem with killing loyal oppositionists is everywhere.  From sports teams to board rooms, to political forums to every business, refusing loyal opposition has become the disease we are strangled with.  Some try to blame communication skills, others try to blame the “speed of business,” others will use one of a thousand other excuses, but as the axiom goes, “Excuses are like butt-holes, everyone has one, and they stink!”  Embrace your loyal oppositionists and allow them to help you!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

I Hate Being Lied To: Highlights From Diabetes Boot Camp

Lemmings 32015, The day I went to the VA Emergency Room with killing pains in the upper-right quadrant of the abdomen was a game-changing day.  Yet, it also marked the day that doctors started lying to me.  I was diagnosed with three things, gallstones, obesity, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, also known as metabolic-associated fatty liver disease, is excessive fat build-up in the liver without another clear cause, such as alcohol use. There are two types; non-alcoholic fatty liver and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, with the latter including liver inflammation. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is less dangerous than NASH and usually does not progress to NASH or liver cirrhosis.  Essentially, my liver was having problems policing itself and had developed fattiness, not alcohol-related.

2021, a clinical pharmacist in charge of teaching diabetes at the El Paso VA Medical Center, holds a “boot camp” for veterans to help them understand and better handle diabetes.  I spent 30-minutes with Dr. T. getting the low-down on diabetes and getting questions answered.  I hate being lied to, and I hate not being able to get simple questions answered.  Today’s diabetes class changed my understanding, and I have just scratched the diet/diabetes topic.

Let me be clear right here; I am not an authority on these topics.  I am not a medical professional, and sources outside my own research have provided all medical information.  I am still learning on these topics and am simply describing my experiences.  If the same issues spark your interest, may this information help and support you and your doctor’s path moving forward.Exclamation Mark

Obesity

Obesity is the amount of fat carried on a person, above a specific level, as determined by the health and activity of the person.  Please note, no single person is identical in where their fat vs. health into obesity levels are.  I have met people who look overweight, but they are not unhealthy because of how their body works.  Whereas, I have met skinny people with very little fat on their bodies who were exceedingly unhealthy.  Thus, calling all heavy people “fat” and “obese” is the first set of lies and misconceptions we must learn and unlearn when discussing obesity, diabetes, and diet.

Obesity, and the linked diseases to obesity, is also a misnomer and a horrible series of lies.  Diabetes is considered a disease; obesity has just now (2018 or so) been changed from a symptom to a disease.  Want to hear something to blow your mind; both descriptions are 100% wrong!  Obesity is a consequence of being addicted to foods.  Diabetes is a consequence of having the addiction overcome the body’s natural defenses and cause independent problems.

DietGravy Train 2

I am not advocating any diet/weight-loss plan, nor am I using this term to describe specific foods in a health regime; in using the term diet, I am discussing the foods we eat.  The foods we eat form our diet, and our diets are killing us.

If you are around 40-years of age, you grew up with the food pyramid, as detailed by the Food and Drug Administration, as a way to select healthy foods and improve your diet.  You were taught that grains, especially whole grains, were essential for your diet and should be the bulk of what you eat daily.  You have been carefully trained and programmed that dairy, especially drinking Milk, is extremely important to a growing body.  You have been instructed that calories in, plus exercise, is the path to weight loss and healthy living.  You have been taught that salt is bad, sugar is good in moderation, and that there are pills to correct the issues if you are having problems.  Would you believe a single voice that told you those are all lies; I wouldn’t, but the researchers continue to affirm the truth of these things if you desire to learn.

Today, I finally learned just how bad these lies are, and my “cherub-like” demeanor has been brutally beaten by reality.  Since 2015, I have been told these lies multiple times, specifically to reduce the problems I am experiencing from a lifetime of eating the food pyramid!  Nothing is more dangerous than an honest person lied to, and the government needs to fear this consequence.  Salt is good in moderation, as established by your blood work.  Drinking Milk is bad for the body.  Sugar is worse for the body than dairy!

VaccineLet’s talk about historical facts for a moment.  You will not find this discussed in your history books, but I promise the history is 100% accurate, and the Internet has sources for what I am about to declare.  The East India Company, a powerful trading company from England, wanted to increase sales of sugar cane and offered what is essentially bribes to farmers to feed their animals sugar cane.  The animals quickly developed sores, open wounds, and a host of health problems, leading to death.  When this experiment failed, the focus was pushed back to sugar crystallization, which began injecting crystallized sugar into people’s diets worldwide.  Who eventually had the same problems as the animals eating raw sugar cane, only the length of time between consumption to health problems was longer, and thus more easily overlooked as the cause.

Research using fMRIs has shown that sugar and heroin have the same effects on the brain, opening the same receptors and releasing the same feel-good chemicals into the body.  Worse, the addiction between sugar and heroin is very close chronologically.  Two weeks is the upper limit to reach to begin changing the body’s dependence to both, which means that it takes roughly two weeks after the last hit to start the addiction recovery process.  The only difference between heroin and sugar, sugar does not come with a stigma and legal problems that heroin carries.

DiabetesBait & Switch

In simple terms, diabetes is the overproduction of insulin in the body until the pancreas cannot keep up and begins to fail.  If you have a Gastrointestinal problem, the levels of insulin in the body are the cause.  The powerful pancreas is directly tied to a person’s health.

Carbohydrates are the problem; carbohydrates (carbs) are comfort foods and always contain higher sugar levels.  Carbs make it very difficult to break the sugar addiction and stop the pancreas from not hitting the proper amount of insulin in the body to digest foods.  I have always preferred brown rice to white rice, beans and legumes, whole grains, and I love making my own bread.  Yet, these foods especially are why my pancreas is overworking, and I have gastrointestinal issues and diabetes.  The nine-grain cereal I love any time of the day to consume is hurting me, but for my whole life, I have been told that nine-grain, whole grain cereal cannot hurt you.

Cave Man Foods

Knowledge Check!The following were suggested to me as foods to focus on eating, cutting my meals from three to two per day, and I have a follow-up in two weeks with Dr. T.  Dr. T. called these foods “Cave Man Foods” as they are closer to what cavemen ate, and they did not have diabetes.  I include these foods as a permanent record, not as health advice.  Please consult your physician and your body for what is best for you.

      • Eggs
      • Cheese
      • Avocados
      • All types of leafy green stuff (I knew they would stick these nasty things in somewhere.)
      • Non-Starchy Vegetables
          • Cucumbers
          • Colored peppers
          • The greenest lettuce to be found, Romaine is best provided it is GREEN! If your lettuce is white, RUN AWAY, THROW IT AWAY.
          • Spinach
          • Cabbage – Oh, I love Red and Green Cabbage with brats!
          • Broccoli
          • Radishes
          • Fresh Tomatoes – If your tomatoes are processed, look at the added sugar content, and be amazed at how sodas have less sugar than spaghetti sauce. But sodas get a bad rap, and spaghetti sauce gets a pass.
          • Asparagus – I love red/purple asparagus, can never find it, but I prefer red/purple to green.
          • Mushrooms – Oh, I have a great recipe for stuffed mushroom caps for the grill!
      • Raw nuts, but any non-sugar added nuts are good.
      • All berries.
      • Coffee and Tea, no sugar – Frankly, I drink neither, for I hate the taste of green/black/white/etc. Teas and I have finally kicked the coffee habit.
      • Drink Water! As a firefighter, as a person who has suffered three major heat stress injuries, I am a huge proponent of drinking water.
      • Meat – Any type.
      • Avoid – Bread, Rice, and Pasta

IronyWhat I found unique on this list is the missing fruits, watermelon, peaches, pears, apples, oranges, pineapples, etc., and Dr. T. claimed this was because of the need to pump the body full of insulin to digest the fruits.  If the goal is to heal from diabetes and be free of the drugs, shots, needles, etc., the body needs to be weaned from sugars to allow the pancreas to heal and the insulin levels and liver functions to return to normal.  As the pancreas heals and liver functions rise, the intestines will see a marked change in healthy bacterial populations without needing to add bacteria to your foods.  Have you seen the amount of added sugar in yogurt?  The bacteria are killed by sugar, but to eat yogurt, you get a considerable amount of sugar; tell me, does this make sense to you?

References

Gundry, S. R. (2017). The plant paradox: The hidden dangers in “Healthy” Foods that cause disease and weight gain. HarperCollins.

Taubes, G. (2008). Good calories, bad calories: Fats, carbs, and the controversial science of diet and health. Anchor.

Taubes, G. (2011). Why we get fat and what to do about it. Anchor.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Questions – Mostly Why!

QuestionFrom their Dark Horse Album, Nickelback sings, “If Today Was Your Last Day.”  The central theme discusses a principle I am struggling with, centered around a question, “Why do we wait?”  The song’s lyrics include the following:

“My best friend gave me the best advice
He said, “Each day’s a gift and not a given right.
Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by.
That first step you take is the longest stride.”

If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say “goodbye” to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you had?
If today was your last day.”

From the Live Like You Were Dying album, Tim McGraw, sings a similarly themed song of the same name, with the following lyrics:Rescued Butterfly 2

Said I was in my early 40’s
With a lot of life before me
When a moment came, that stopped me on a dime
I spent most of the next days lookin’ at the x-rays
Talkin’ ’bout the options and talkin’ ’bout sweet time
Asked him when it sank in
That this might really be the real end
How’s it hit ya, when you get that kind of news
Man what ya do
And he says

I went sky divin’
I went Rocky Mountain climbin’
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
And I loved deeper
And I spoke sweeter
And I gave forgiveness I’ve been denying
And he said someday I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin’

The follow-up question continues, when will you finally start living big?

Why do we wait?

LaughterWhy do humans wait to begin living until they get a death sentence?  Look, I have lived my life as hard and as full as possible, not because I am dying, but to eventually be an interesting old person.  I remember sentiments from reading books as a kid, things like, “it’s not how wide or how deep you live that matters; it’s proving you lived at all.”  Or, “if you go through life without collecting scars and enemies, you’re a coward or worse.”  I do not understand about waiting for some earth-shaking revelation before you take time to laugh, be adventurous, explore, or forgive.

I talked to a person back in Ohio; his Father-In-Law dropped dead suddenly.  There were no health indications, no warning, no previous symptoms, just got up one morning, took a step, and fell down dead!  The man I was speaking to claimed this shook his wife, marriage, and family, but it would not change him.  He was rushing to a meeting for a job he hated, to go home to a family in turmoil, and he had no clue what to do.  Just a casual conversation, the man was not looking for answers; I would not offer advice.  I wished him well!Paradox

He had a long list of things to do in his “Some-Day” Bucket List.  When is someday?  I cannot find this as a day of the week on a single calendar.  Yet, how many times a day is a person dreaming of “someday” when they plan to start living?  Please do not get me wrong; I am not claiming we all need to be “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry for tomorrow we die” people.  I am arguing we might want to stop waiting for the bus to someday, to take us to a place called somewhere, so we can become people we refused to be all our lives.

Why finally start living big?

Ernest Lawrence Thayer wrote a poem I favored as a child called “Casey at the Bat.”  Not to ruin the poem, but the last stanza is essential.

“Oh, somewhere in this favoured land, the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out” [emphasis mine].

The land of somewhere, where people live like they never lived in real life, is that mythical place of rainbows, lollipops, roses, and summer bands. Casey at the Bat | Tolley's Topics

James Wilson wrote a sequel to “Casey at the Bat” titled “Casey’s Revenge.”  Again the final stanza holds a clear message for us.

“Oh, somewhere in this favored land, dark clouds may hide the sun.
And somewhere bands no longer play, children have no fun;
And somewhere over blighted lives there hangs a heavy pall;
But Mudville hearts are happy now — for Casey hit the ball!”

The final Casey poem is called “Casey 20-Years Later,” authored by Clarence P. McDonald.  The Mudville Nine were hurt; they needed a player to finish the game.  The coach appealed to the crowd for a player to come and play.  An older man from the crowd, unknown and unnamed, claims he knows baseball and can help finish the game.  The game continues, and the stranger comes to bat; he hits the game-winning hit and stands there and cried.  For the stranger was Mighty Casey, the man chided and derided by the crowd so many years before.

Mighty Casey at Bat - Welcome to Wayne Hunt Huebner 4 ArtI have always wondered what happened between the first, the second, and the third poems about Mighty Casey.  The humility it took to play again.  The kindness he showed to the audience and other players, the respect he showed to the umpire.  So many lessons, but the number one among them all, why are we not living larger, deeper, fuller?  Why do we worship sports heroes instead of being sports heroes?  Why do we settle for the daily grind when even in the daily tasks, there are things to discover, new things to learn, new experiences, and new methods of doing things that will surprise us if we but take a risk.

Growing up in Maine, I learned something the day I had 20 loads of laundry to complete, no dryer, and the temperature was dropping like a rocket sled on rails.  Did you know you can hang clothes on a line outside, in the freezing cold, and they will dry?  My fingers just about froze stiff, the laundry was freezing faster than I could hang it, and I had to iron a bunch of wrinkles out.  But, what a cool (pun intended) lesson.  The clothes came in dry, smelled of the Maine woods, wood smoke, and had a crisp smell that I cannot forget.Lemmings 1

On my 30th birthday, I was in Maine again; my wife bought a birthday dinner at Red Robin.  I had some great food that day, but the memory that stays in my head, clear as a new spring morning, was the table cube.  On this cube was a picture of a man, standing outside a plane hangar, looking for all the world as confident as he can.  The heading, “All I want to be when I grow up is an interesting old person.”  At this moment, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew old, an interesting old person.

Plant JokePeople had been asking me what I wanted to do or be when I grew up for years and years.  I never had a clue.  I had already been a fireman, a diesel mechanic, a truck driver, a shepherd, a dairy farmhand, a blueberry harvester, a paper delivery boy, been through the US Army and US Navy, as well as a trip through the US Army National Guard.  I had worked in call centers, been a general contractor, a business consultant, worked in multiple warehouses in different roles, and so much more.  When I turned 30, my wife and I had already racked up 20+ moves, traveled uncountable miles across the lower-48 states, and had some crazy life experiences.  The US Military had already sent me ¾’s of the way around the world.

But, I finally found what I wanted to be, an interesting older person.  Thus, when I hear these songs by Nickelback and Tim McGraw, I cannot understand why wait?  Why live large and adventurous only after getting a life sentence?  Why withhold forgiveness and forget the past only after it becomes apparent you are going to die?  Did you forget that everyone has a death certificate waiting?  Did you get stuck in a rut, put on blinders, and forget that life is more than just breathing in and out and turning food into mulch?Mediocre Joke

A Final Thought

Would you volunteer?  The poem “Casey 20-years later” is a perfect ending for this topic.  Especially with the question, would you volunteer?  Would you volunteer to pull some weeds for a neighbor?  Would you volunteer to shovel a little more snow for another person?  Would you cross a lawn and pick up a trashcan the wind had knocked around?  Would you volunteer to buy some groceries when the teller asks for more money, and it is clear that the person does not have enough?  Would you buy gas for a stranger?

Knowledge Check!The poems of Casey relate a tale of humanity and the songs of Nickelback and Tim McGraw relate that it is never too late to help someone unless you’re dead!  Why wait?  Why hold off on living larger, deeper, fuller lives?  Why not volunteer?  Why do we wait to act like we care until a few days between Thanksgiving and Christmas but spend the rest of the year not living at all?  These are just some random questions, two really good songs, three incredible poems, and my brain trying to make sense.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Ender’s Game: The Morality of Fighting, the Manner of Winning

Dont Tread On MeEnder’s Game is a book authored by Orson Scott Card and is on the level of some of the best military sci-fi I have ever read.  While I have not read all of the Ender books, Ender’s Game is by far one of the most intellectually stimulating sci-fi books I have read in the fiction genre. Essential to the present, raised and created by President Obama and the Democratic Party, is the question, “Does the manner of winning matter?”

When I understand my enemy well enough to defeat him, then in that moment, I also love him.” – A. E. Wiggin

The Morality of Fighting

From a previous article, we draw the definition of morality.  Various sources define morality; in fact, morality has been considered a philosophical debate, and much is written on this topic.  For this reason, the definition of morality is as follows:

Morality is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal.”

I am not here to dictate what is and is not moral between you, your conscience, and your supreme being worshiped.  However, I will emphasize that America was founded upon the morals of Judeo-Christian theology, and these morals have been a solid anchor in the chaotic push and pull of beliefs and morals across time.

WhyHistory is replete with wars, contention, the loss of life, and examples of fighting for moral and immoral reasons, depending upon your choices and moral codes; but, is fighting someone else moral?  In the Judaic religion, the Rabbi’s will point to the Books of Moses and declare that the Children of Israel had to obey because God commanded, and wars were begun.  The Koran has similar writings.  The Old and New Testaments and the different Popes of the Catholic church can point to writings and claim similarly.  But, does a commandment from a supreme being make war moral?

I cannot tell you how to answer; thus, I will not be pontificating on this topic.  You, individually, must decide the morality or immorality of fighting and what is worth fighting and dying for.  I know my answer and am comfortable with my answers, for I have done the research and reached logical conclusions.  I beg you to decide what your answers are individually, for, in answering, you will better understand yourself, your beliefs, your mental positions, and the world around you.Question 3

The manner of Winning

An enemy can be crushed in any manner of methods from baroque to technical; the enemy is just as dead as yesterday’s fish.  Comb through history, and you will find man’s inhumanity to man is as great as man’s humanity to man.  I find this fact very comforting!  As cruel and vicious as man can be to each other, the fact that man continues to have a spark of divinity and can show compassion and kindness equal to or greater than his inhumanity a great hope.  Bringing us to the question, does the manner of winning matter?

In this world, there are many absolutes; the manner of winning absolutely does matter!  No equivocation, no double-speak, no half-truths.  If you cannot win by the rules, you are not worthy of competing!  I know no better method of stating this absolute; how you win is more important than winning!

QuestionDoes this absolute suggest there are rules to fighting; unequivocally YES!  There are always rules to fighting, and only the most despotic criminal would shuck the rules and win at all costs.  For in winning at all costs, that person has thrown off the cloaks of humanity, the ties that bind human to human, and have become an animal most vile.  One must never forget the lesson of Ender Wiggin.

When I understand my enemy well enough to defeat him, then in that moment, I also love him.” – A. E. Wiggin

From the “Five Rings,” Mao Tse Tung is quoted as declaring, “When you surround an army, leave an outlet free. Do not press a desperate foe too hard.”  Why; because universal truths win out, today’s enemy is tomorrow’s ally.  Both Mao Tse Tung and Ender Wiggin recognize the same lesson, but from different perspectives that there is never much difference between a trusted ally and a despised enemy.  Thus, how one wins is more important than winning!

Exclamation MarkConsider this principle in real life.  We have the November 2020 elections, which began with the 2020 primaries, where fraud, the inability to count, too many votes for a precinct, and a hundred other issues popped up.  Yet, none of those issues were considered fraudulent, just politicking—business as usual.  The most extensive problem areas promised to have everything fixed by November, business, as usual, no worries.  What happened in November, the same problems in the same regions produced an election that 40% of Pennsylvania does not trust to have been truthful.  How one wins matters more than winning!

Another example; Syria, President Bashar Assad, who employed chemical weapons against his people, in a massive violation of law, morality, and ethics.  President Obama blurred his own “Red Lines,” and Assad is still in power, only a little more circumspect in using banned chemical weapons.  The Syrian civil war (2011-Present) continues, the crimes against his enemies and people continue, and the only change is how Turkey continues to be flooded with refugees.  How you win matters more than winning!

Bait & SwitchThe battle continues in Ukraine with Russia, unabated, where America refused her ally (Ukraine) for Russia to gain “political influence” with Turkey and Syria.  One of the most remarkable historical facts, Russia continues to forget, then remember, then forget that how you win is more important than merely winning!  The history books of Russia are replete with this cycle, and every few generations, the cycle repeats.  Usually, after a glorious loss, Russia remembers that how you win is more important than winning, and the people rally to clear off the invader, previously Germany!

Since the First Sino-Japanese War onward, China has refused to believe that how one wins is more important than winning.  Unfortunately, Communism has only made this country more blood-thirsty and less willing to follow Mao Tse Tung’s advice on war, even though they continue to use his philosophies against everyone else.  Worse, China is offering war to every nation on Earth, and the majority of the countries are asleep.  Japan learned this lesson well and has used this lesson to dominate the Pacific Rim nations economically.

Knowledge Check!America keeps trying to learn and apply this lesson.  However, her political leaders since Vietnam continue to refuse to allow the military to do their job with a clear set of Rules for Engagement.  Worse, the political leaders keep trying to give away US Constitutional Rights to enemies of America.  All because too many refuse to understand that how you win is more important than winning.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot: The Illinois Edition

Exclamation MarkThe story is linked in case you missed the news on 09 July 2021; Illinois has become the first state in AMERICA to mandate ASIAN History be taught in K-12 education.  Let that sink in for a moment.  AMERICAN History has been abused, twisted, contorted, and NOT taught in AMERICAN schools in ANY of the 50-US States.  But Illinois wants students to learn Asian History.  Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot Illinois!

What is the reported reasoning for this move?

According to a statement from Governor JB Pritzker, the reason for this move is as follows:

With the recent rise in acts of violence and bigotry against the Asian American community, teaching students about the rich culture and important contributions of the Asian American community throughout history will help combat false stereotypes” [emphasis mine].

For your information, the legislation is called the “Teaching Equitable Asian American History Act,” and the special interest group pushing this legislative nightmare is Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago.  The website includes a Los Angeles branch, the Asian Law Caucus, AAJC, and an Atlanta branch.  Another special interest group involved in this legislation is PAVE (Pan Asian Voter Empowerment). My first question about this legislation comes from the name, “What is equitable Asian American History, especially when American History is not being taught?”Lemmings 5

What is in the curriculum?

The curriculum declares it is compliant with Common Core standards, which doesn’t mean anything as teaching masturbation to first graders is compliant with Common Core Standards.  However, PBS Learning media has a website dedicated to the curriculum plan for teaching Asian American History, even though the curriculum does not describe “equitable.”  PBS Learning media claims to be “pleased to present over 30-lesson plans based on a fiver hour documentary Asian Americans in American History.  While the Illinois legislation claims that K-12 will begin learning about Asian History, the reality on the PBS Learning media is that the published lesson plans only go from third grade to twelfth grade.  Leading to my next question, “Where is this push for historical teaching coming from?”

Plato 2I have not viewed the series; I have barely scraped the surface of the curriculum offered.  What I have seen of the curriculum worries me.  I call it “whitewashing” history, to glance over the actions of one group to reflect how other groups were treated, with the intent of stirring the racial divides and creating more chasms based on race alone.  What I see in this curriculum does nothing to “ … teach students about the rich culture and important contributions of the Asian American community throughout history” or to “combat false stereotypes.”  I ran a search engine using the string, “Violent migrant worker strikes, involving Asian people,” and the first item on the list returned originates with the Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project, sponsored by the University of Washington.

The context, labor union organizing, which everyone should know, includes the growth and development of Marxist ideology in America.  How did the labor unions create a space for themselves?  They drove wedges between groups of people based solely upon race, creating contention, becoming violent, and hiding behind equity and fairness to escape responsibility and accountability for laws they sundered.

Let me be clear!

Knowledge Check!Let me be clear; every group across the skin color spectrum has historically had problems in American society.  Any time race separates, chaos, confusion, and violence are bred!  I am proud that America has grown out of oppressing people based on the color of their skin and do not judge American history as racist just because historically, people acted out of fear when treating their fellow men fairly.  History is full of people who made terrible choices, and teaching that these choices were poorly made is important, but race, religion, handicap, etc., should NOT be the focus on the content in history.  The focus of history should be on what grew out of specific actions in specific epochs of time.

America IS better for the Civil War, even though the US Government continues to hinder economically and is biased against the states that formed the Confederate States.  A dumb historical decision that has kept many states from achieving greatness is due to President Lincoln’s death and the hostility in the US House of Representatives, the US Senate, and President Andrew Johnson.  All of whom believed that the Confederate States needed to be mightily punished.  In contrast, President Lincoln was pushing for national forgiveness.  Thus, we need to focus on the events, not the race, color, lines of separation and division, but on the outcomes and the fruits from those decisions when teaching history!The Duty of Americans

State’s Rights

I affirm in clear language that a state has the right to set the curriculum of government-mandated schools.  I support state’s rights to the fullest and would see each state prepare their students to meet the world and win!  Paradoxically, I also affirm in language clear that this legislation will do NOTHING to “combat false stereotypes” but will only increase racial division and disharmony in Illinois and any other state who refuses to learn the lessons from history.

History and Racial Focus

Content of their CharacterThink about this quote for a moment, who are the biggest race hustlers in America?  History has taught that when race is the only concern worth knowing people care only about race, to their demise.  Focusing on race is the sole reason why I have questioned, and continue to question, the validity of the arguments for National “Name your Favorite Minority” Month celebrations.  There are absolutes in this world; focusing solely upon race as a choice, will breed racial tensions as a consequence, is an absolute.  Recent history under President Obama reflected this exact issue to the Nth degree, yet nobody wants to have that discussion.  Why; because of race!

Bob MarleyWhen your focus is solely upon an individual’s race, race will be the only thing learned, the only lesson absorbed, and the fruit of that lesson are bitter.  Have people from various races achieved great things; absolutely, but why should their achievements be diminished by focusing solely upon their race?  Why should their achievements only be mentioned during “Name your Favorite Minority” monthly celebrations?  Has the 1960s taught us nothing about the character, knowledge, talents, curious minds, and the work performed where race was NEVER an issue?  I have books galore in my home; I continue to collect books about famous people of great accomplishment; I have never cared a whit about that person’s sex or gender.  Why; because their sex and gender, race, skin color, religion, handicap, or heritage have never been a factor.  As a kid, a thrill ran through me when I read the preamble to the US Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness [emphasis mine].

Even today, these words continue to guide me.  Show me; where in the Declaration of Independence does it discuss sex, race, heritage, religion, handicap, etc.?  NOWHERE!  A lesson America needs to relearn if she is to survive.  What hinders the pursuit of happiness, capturing inalienable rights, and stops liberty; focusing upon that which divides instead of that which unites!

PatriotismFrom the National Archives website, we find the following regarding the Declaration of Independence:

The Declaration of Independence states the principles on which our government, and our identity as Americans, are based. Unlike the other founding documents, the Declaration of Independence is not legally binding, but it is powerful. Abraham Lincoln called it “a rebuke and a stumbling-block to tyranny and oppression.” It continues to inspire people around the world to fight for freedom and equality” [emphasis in original].

Think about this for a moment.  The American Identity, the bedrock principles upon which America was built, the power cell for liberty and freedom across the world, begins with a simple truth:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness [emphasis mine].Image - John Wayne Quote

A document that is not legally binding holds power to inspire actions that unite people, provided our focus is not on those things which separate us.  Cementing the lesson discussed herein, focus on race and racial division is the only lesson learned, and the resulting fruit is bitter, chaos ensues, and problems abound in violence.  Why have we not learned these lessons from the 1960s, the Watt’s Riots, the death toll in Chicago that makes war zones safer than the streets of Chicago; the focus is on race, not the potential.  The focus is on the sex, the invented genders, the handicaps, the religions, the heritages, etc., not on what is essential, character and potential, freedom, liberty, and equality under the law.

Knowledge Check!We need to get back to teaching history, where the focus is on how the decisions and actions from the past hinder or help the present so that the future can be better.  Failing that, we desperately need to cease focusing upon race, gender, sex, religion, handicap, and heritage as these things only matter to the individual and not to historical records.  Failing that, America fails, and the light of liberty and freedom will be lost to the annals of history forever.  So, gather the fruit you choose, focus on race if you prefer, focus on gender, sex, handicap, veterans status, and every other line of separation.  Your fruit gathered will be most bitter indeed, for you will miss the rich tapestry of human interaction, for the dirt caught in the fabric.

Powering my third and final question to the legislative and executive branches of Illinois, “Knowing all this, why are you focused on race and forcing students to focus solely upon race?”

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Las Cruces – The Come To Visit Stay a Lifetime City

Monumental award | Las Cruces BulletinIn 2016, my wife and I washed up as flotsam against the Sandia Mountains in Albuquerque, NM.  We enjoyed our time in Albuquerque, but the politics and politicians are really extreme and insane, to boot!  We thought about, briefly, moving to Santa Fe, Angel Fire, Las Vegas, and several other northern cities and locations in New Mexico, but nothing worked out.  So, we began looking into southern New Mexico.

Very Large Array Radio Telescope - Electronic Manufacturing Services | Carlton IndustriesNot having much luck, I took my wife to Phoenix for her birthday and showed her the “Very Large Array,” which took her breath away and showed her places in Arizona and New Mexico I thought she might enjoy.  On the return trip, I took the southerly route through Tucson, and we spent a night in Las Cruces.  My wife was amazed at the green that just “popped up” in the desert.  The green she mentioned were the miles and miles of pecan and pistachio trees that line the highways of Las Cruces.

Christmas in Cruces - Visit Las Cruces New Mexico - Las Cruces CVBLas Cruces, New Mexico (U.S.)Well, some time passes, and in trying to find a home, we finally found something in Las Cruces.  The longer I stay here, the more the place feels like home.  Better, the people and the architecture, the policies and politics, and New Mexico State University in Las Cruces make this southern location an incredible jewel hidden in southern New Mexico.  El Paso is close enough to visit if you want the big-city experience, but truth be told, everything you need can be found in Las Cruces; the people are friendlier, and the climate is fun.

While living in Albuquerque, too many people thought Albuquerque was all to New Mexico and referred to their time as time spent in the land of entrapment.  Thankfully, employment took me around the state several times.  I got to see the influence of federal government policies on land use, and despise them for the theft of this land.  I had the privilege of seeing just how logically insane the government in Santa Fe is and detest them for their inaction, stupidity, politicking, and infernal bickering.  But, every time I came south, Las Cruces captured my attention, my notice, and my wonder.

Best things to do in Las Cruces, New MexicoDeming is another location in southern New Mexico, but they are struggling.  Mainly because of the government politics and previous economic choices, which are still creating problems in the town.  Dependence upon the federal government in New Mexico is endemic, robbing potential, crushing souls, and destroying hopes and dreams.  This reality can only be changed if the federal government shrinks to the 1940 (pre-WWII) level of government.  However, if you look, you can find small pieces of potential, like spring flowers poking up out of snow, especially in Deming, Las Cruces, and the other southern New Mexico towns and locations that are missing, almost entirely, from northern New Mexico.

At a time when people seem to be restless, are looking for new horizons, and want an escape from the insanity of politicians who refuse to listen to the electorate, may I suggest a visit to Las Cruces and Southern New Mexico.  The change is refreshing, the potential is exciting, and the possibilities for growth and development are all but limitless.  Better still, there is an undercurrent of enthusiasm found here that appears to be missing in a lot of the other places my wife and I have visited in our 26 years of marriage and 28 different moves across the continental United States.

Outdoors in Las Cruces - Biking and Running - Visit Las Cruces New Mexico - Las Cruces CVBPlease note, Las Cruces is not all roses and rainbows, lollipops, and chocolate-covered peanuts.  There are growth areas in politics, agriculture, the railroad, the highways, and the need for manufacturing industry.  Some growth areas include an embedded mañana attitude where a business operates a little slower; outdoor workers quit before the heat comes on too bad.  Siestas and taking your time is problematic if you want things done in a hurry.  But, these are also some of the things that make this little city such an exciting experience.

One of the growth areas that might not be a growth area, except for volume, is the food!  Holy…  Gustatory Experience!  The food in Southern New Mexico is like an inverted food chart for Italy.  Northern New Mexico has different foods entirely from southern New Mexico, and Southern New Mexican food is head and shoulders above Northern New Mexico.  In Italy, it is said, if you want good food, eat in Northern Italy; in New Mexico, when you eat, eat in the south!

Las Cruces makes most overlooked cities listSure, Northern New Mexico has Monroe’s, which is a phenomenal gustatory experience capturing New Mexican food at its finest.  The Owl Café in Albuquerque is a gustatory experience not to be missed in any visit to New Mexico, save room for dessert and order a Chili milkshake.  However, Monroe’s and The Owl Café are but two places for food in Albuquerque worth visiting.  Las Cruces has Caliche’s Frozen Custard, La Neuva Casita Café, A Bite of Belgium, and Salud! De Mesilla, just to name a few!  The food in southern New Mexico is incredible, and the small places are wonderful.  Just remember about mañana.  Get impatient, and you get rude service.

Hasta mañana - TnRelacionesI cannot stress this enough, mañana is in the culture, in the air you breathe, the dirt, the sand, and in every action taken.  You do not come to southern New Mexico to be in a hurry!  Want hurry, eat fast food and flee at your earliest opportunity, for southern New Mexico is not for you.  Want a little slower pace, time to enjoy conversation, time to explore, and time to get to know people; come to Las Cruces and enjoy the experience!

Knowledge Check!When you visit, bring your manners!  Say please and thank you.  Say you’re welcome.  Hold the door for strangers and ladies.  Wave, especially if someone waves at you.  Drive the speed limit!  When I was in the US Army, I was given some advice for my visit to South Korea, “show respect, get respect.”  Well, the same is true to Southern New Mexico, show some respect, and you will have a great time here.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.