Dollars and Sense – Inflationary Spending and Fiscal Insanity

Bobblehead DollThese articles have discussed money, monetary policy, fiscal sanity, and government spending several times this year.  Some have called me alarmist for raising fiscal sanity during a “Global Health Crisis.”  While COVID-19 (Sars-COV-2) is undoubtedly a viral disease with a 98%+ survival rate, I cannot in good conscience call this a “Global Health Crisis.”  The pandemic declaration was a political move, the mask mandating, business closures, and every other hysterical move have been carefully formulated to present a problem where none exists.  Has Sars-COV-2 mutated; absolutely, but the emotional hysteria has mutated far faster.

Dollars and SenseApathy

When you pass paper to a store clerk, are you spending money; no, you are spending confidence.  Your confidence in the dollar’s strength, as represented by a check, cash, money order, credit card, etc., is what is being spent.  Why was the Great Depression so lasting and detrimental; a lack of confidence in the US Dollar.  People who saved their money formed sane fiscal policies personally and acted logically lost their confidence in the US Dollar, and the dollar went into a great depression.

Since President Clinton, the US Government has been on a drunken spending spree and does not appear to be stopping unless the citizens demand they cease and desist!  What does this mean for you and me; everything costs more for two reasons inflation and interest.  When the government prints money, too much money increases prices, and too few goods chase too much money, resulting in people suffering.  When the government borrows money, the interest must be serviced; the interest will increase prices and usually absorb some of the extra capital on the market to bring down inflation.Lemmings 2

Except, Quantitative Easing (QE) is hindering the absorption of money on the market.  Hence America is witnessing something truly remarkable for the first time in financial history, the debt (principal), the interest, and the extra capital, all of these storms are combining into a major conflagration economically speaking.  Usually, at this point, a country begins to look for a place to go to war, which explains China and its expansionist policies in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean.  Too much debt, too much interest, a military needing worked, and assets need to be stolen from other countries.  Typical historical thinking, war truly is grand larceny on a massive scale!

Where are America and China headed; let’s ask Czarist Russia, USSR, Nazi Germany, East Germany, China, North Korea, Italy, Venezuela, Greece, France, and who knows how many other economically unstable countries historically and presently.  Going to war will not solve this economic crisis, though some may try that solution.  The only solution worth advancing at this critical juncture economically is reducing the size of government, placing a firm halt on all government spending, and refusing the politicians to get into debt for at least two decades!  Yes, this means changing Social Security, Welfare, Medicaid and Medicare, and every other government benefit program to fit a reduced budget and smaller government model.  Failure to tighten belts for the next two decades will bankrupt America, and most of the world, making the Great Depression look like a summer picnic.Lemmings 4

Gold and Oil, real estate, Gross Domestic Products (the goods manufactured in America for sale), trade, all of these wealth tools and more cannot support the debt incurred, the money printed, nor the size of the government from the city and county to the White House.  As this trend continues, Wall Street will continue to be tumultuous, at best, and the confidence in the US Dollar will continue to slide.  But, as the dollar slides, which global currency will begin to take up the slack?

The Euro has discredited itself and is not worth the paper it is printed on.  China thinks they will step into the void and take up the slack with the Yuan, except their financial situation is almost as bad as Venezuela’s and Cuba’s, but their size and government type keep this hidden from the public.  Even though the Yuan is in junk status, the Communist government hides these facts; the truth is leaking out in higher trade tariffs and other global trade and finance costs.  Russia’s economic situation still has not stabilized with the fall of the USSR and will probably need another two to three decades until it can compete on the global economy again.Gravy Train 2

I heard a postulation that the Arabian Oil Rich nations of the Middle East would produce an OPEC-backed currency if the US Dollar fails.  I highly doubt this as a solution, but the potential is there.  Another person claimed the lack of confidence in the US Dollar would lead to the World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) issuing currency for the world; boy, would that be a significant problem!  Yet, the American Dollar is being purposefully destroyed by the current crop of politicians, and nobody is standing up and declaring ENOUGH!

Inflation

The US Government, and many others globally, have increased their drunken spending since Jan/Feb 2020 to incredibly extensive levels and used a “Global Health Crisis” as the excuse.  Except when Ebola was sweeping the world, we did not have this level of insane spending and government intrusion.  Ebola is far deadlier, easier to spread, and yet the Ebola disaster is barely remembered.  Bird Flu, Swine Flu, SARS, MERS, all these viruses have had their time in the media hysterical spotlight, every single one of them is deadlier than Sars-COV-2, easier to spread, and they were never a cause for a global pandemic.Gravy Train

Inflation is caused by poor economic policy, where the government grants itself the ability to print money.  Inflation is not just money and monetary policy; inflation is also confidence, faith, and trust.  Inflation is how the government acts, thinks, and behaves.  Inflation is as real as COVID-19 and just as deadly as Ebola while being more problematic for everyone.  From Dec 2020 to the end of July 2021, inflation has increased the price of goods and services by 3.8%, seasonally adjusted, or 5.4% non-seasonally adjusted, which means that prices go up as a seasonal adjustment in the summer.

Fiscal Insanity

Consider with me an analogy; you live in a community of houses and pay a Homeowners Association (HOA) Fee.  Your neighbor has decided they can write checks on your checking account, and the HOA has granted them legal protection to write checks on your bank accounts.  Because your neighbor has legal protection, you sell off assets to provide the funds for your neighbor.  You sell to other neighbors letters of credit that you promise to pay interest on, provided your other neighbors hold those letters of credit for specific amounts of time.  Except, your neighbors stop buying those letters of credit over time because they do not like how your neighbor keeps writing checks and spending your money.  How do you keep this house of cards from blowing over and losing everything?

Tax BurdenAmerica is in this position right now!  Trend lines show a steady downward trend in the value of the US Dollar.  Inflation will keep increasing prices as too much money is chasing too few products on the market.  Debt needs to be serviced and interest paid.  But, when the interest payment is the only thing being paid, and the principal will also need to be serviced, where and how does the principal get serviced when the interest is absorbing all the monthly payments?  Simple economics, money once created and put into the money market, cannot just be absorbed or disappeared.  Just like food doesn’t disappear once consumed, the offal must come out and be handled responsibly.  Well, the dollar is in an offal position and needs responsibly handled!

© 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.

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.

The Proper and Improper Role of Government: Chapter 4 – Tax Freedom Day – Do you know why this is important?

Working DollarIn 2019, Tax Freedom Day was 16 April 2019.  For those not in the loop, Tax Freedom Day is the day all Federal, State, County, and Local taxes are paid from your paycheck.  This date gets further into the new year every year, and with the amount of inflation seen since 16 April 2019, you can bet that Tax Freedom Day will shortly be in the middle of May or July.

What is Paper Money?

Dr. Clarence Carson wrote an article about paper money and the US Constitution, quoted heavily below.  Paper Money, “… Paper that was intended to circulate as money but was not redeemable in gold and silver was technically described as bills of credit at the time of the Continental Congress and writing of the US Constitution and US Bill of Rights. The description was (and is) apt. Such Paper is a device for expanding the credit of the issuer.”  The credit of the issuer is improved, not the benefit of those forced to use the Paper as credit.  Hence, the US Government, to improve its credit, began printing money, and the problems in American Economics took off like a rocket sled on greased rails!Plato 2

Paper Money only has value when the person holding that Paper has confidence in the government printing that money.  In every nation across the globe, the only thing keeping value in the paper currency is confidence in the government by citizens paying taxes.  Hence, the problems with depressions, the confidence in value are shaken, and the holders of Paper Money become restless and lack confidence that their money is valuable.  Bills of credit, Paper Money conveying the value of debt have been around for a long time, as discussed in a previous article on money.  Why did the USSR fall; the currency had been worthless for years, and when the citizens had finally had enough, the government fell apart.  A fitting tribute and pattern to be heeded from history if we, the government owners, cannot get the government to cease and desist forthwith!

Government and Paper Money

The US Constitution, as originally written, forbids the US Government from printing paper money why; because of how fast the government abuses this power, creating inflation.  The Continental Congress was well aware of government abuses with Paper Money, thus restricting the Federal Government to coinage and tying the value to the gold standard.  Inflation is nothing more than a hidden tax, where the government controls how much value your money is worth.  Every person using US Dollars to make a purchase pays this tax.  Thus, by the time a consumable product has been paid for in a store, that tax, inflation, has been paid multiple times, and the consumer is always worse for every point of inflation the government allows.

IronyDid you know that the Federal Government allows 2% inflation every year as a “target?”  Consider this for a moment; the government wants your money and calls this tax a “good thing” for the economy.  Thus, your prices for everything increase 2% or $.02 every year because the government wants it to.  The 2% devaluation of your money is part of the Federal Reserves’ “Dual-Mandate” to achieve 100% employment and price stability.  Do you see any logic in making money less valuable as a means to improve employment and stabilize prices?  I don’t!  Now, consider this, inflation has hit a this year (2021) and has not stopped climbing.  Worse, inflation is expected to continue to grow as the government prints more Paper Money, which will eventually end in a depression preceded by massive deflation of the value of the US Dollar.  Keep in mind; inflation has become a global problem, as the majority of governments spent money they did not have during the pandemic.  Imagine lemmings racing for a fiscal cliff.

Lemmings 5Josiah Quincy wrote George Washington “that there never was a paper pound, a paper dollar, or a paper promise of any kind, that ever yet obtained a general currency but by force or fraud, generally by both.”   Yet, Congress still refuses to learn the lessons taught during the Continental Currency.  Debts, runaway inflation, legal enforcement to demand paper money be accepted, all of these lessons were experienced by the Founding Fathers, with Rhode Island being the Continental equivalent of California for bad fiscal policy and idiotic fiscal enforcement.Tax Scheme 2

The founding fathers met during an economic period of deflation, which quickly became a severe depression caused by states issuing paper money that was useless.  The founders “hoped to erect a system that would endure, and to do that, they wished to guard against the kind of fiscal adventures that produced both unpleasant economic consequences and political turmoil. Paper Money was reckoned to be one of these.”  Paper Money, without the backing of silver and gold, has led to speculation, inflation, deflation, cycles of economic depression, and Congress essentially stole the right to print paper money and borrow from the citizens unconstitutionally!  This cannot be stressed enough; there is a direct causal relationship between Congressional action, Executive Orders, and the economic problems America is suffering, including the bondage of debts insurmountable and the abuse of tax schemes!  All of which were powers strictly limited in the US Constitution because the founders knew the government would abuse the power of Paper Money!Bait & Switch 2

History shows that when paper money was discussed, the states overwhelming voted to remove the power to print money from the US Government, seeing this as the best method for long-term economic success in America.  “The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of removing the authority of the United States to emit bills of credit. The delegates voted by state, and 9 states voted in favor of the motion while only 2 opposed it. (New York delegates were not in attendance, and Rhode Island, of course, sent none.) It is a reasonable inference from the discussion that the delegates believed that by voting to strike out the words, (from the Articles of Confederation, which made up the bulk of the US Constitution), they had removed the power from the government to emit bills of credit.”  It is important to note that allowing states to issue bills of credit, print their own money, or stamp coinage was also forbidden.  To avoid the economic crisis, the founding fathers were in the middle of when framing the US Constitution and the US Bill of Rights from the Articles of Confederation.  How many problems, and how much lower would your taxes be if the Federal and State governments had simply followed the law instead of stealing rights and powers from the governed?

Facts About Tax Freedom Day

IRSPlease note, the federal deficit, state deficits, pension crisis, student loan debt crisis, and interest are not included in the numbers quoted below.  The following information comes directly from the Tax Foundation (linked above):

      • Tax Freedom Day is a significant date for taxpayers and lawmakers because it represents how long Americans as a whole have to work to pay the nation’s tax burden.
      • This year, Tax Freedom Day falls on 16 April or 105 days into the year.
      • In 2019, Americans will pay $3.4 trillion in federal taxes and $1.8 trillion in state and local taxes for a total bill of over $5.2 trillion, or 29 percent of the nation’s income.
      • Americans will collectively spend more on taxes in 2019 than they will on food, clothing, and housing combined.
      • If you include annual federal borrowing, representing future taxes owed (interest on the debt), Tax Freedom Day would occur 22 days later, 8 May.
      • Tax Freedom Day in 2018 and 2019 was five days earlier than it was in 2017, primarily due to the recent federal tax law, the Tax Cuts, and Jobs Act.
      • From 1930 to at least 1995, Tax Freedom Day has taken 1.27 days longer per year to reach. – I do not have an updated reference for this information since 1995.
      • In 2019, on average, it took:
            • 42 days to pay the income taxes
            • 26 days to pay payroll taxes
            • 15 days to pay sales and excise taxes, not including surcharges and government fees for services
            • 11 days for property taxes – states control this, some municipalities, it took a lot longer
            • 5 days for Corporate Income Taxes
            • 6 Days for other taxes that always get passed along to the consumer.

Tax BurdenI have read economic reports from noted minds in economics that claim had the dollar not been loosed from the ties to the gold standard, America could not have produced the tools needed to win WWII.  To which I continue to claim, as Colonel Potter from M*A*S*H so aptly stated, “HORSE HOCKEY! and BULL COOKIES!”  Having Congress issuing massive letters of credit, borrowing tremendous sums of money, and the economic fallout remains a millstone about the financial neck of this country.  How much longer will Americans pay for debts created during WWII?  What about the ever-increasing debt burden and interest that is driving prices and taxes ever upwards?

Knowledge Check!The US Government has acted improperly since establishing the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service.  Not just improperly but illegally under the US Constitution as drafted.  Illegally, immorally, and unethically towards the founders, and distorted the intent of the US Constitution to protect America from runaway government debt and inflation/deflation/depression cycles common when issuing Paper Money.  This is the utter truth, and until this problem is rectified, removing paper money is the right thing to do, even if it means some financial hardship!  America can survive financial difficulty; we cannot survive the bondage of runaway debt, interest that sucks all the GDP, and the socialism projects being paid for by tax dollars to buy votes from envious people looking for “equality and fairness.”

© 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.

$1.8 Trillion Annual Deficit – The Problems with Biden’s Budget

Angry Grizzly BearWith gratitude to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), their analysis of the proposed budget was broken down, and some sense was made.  Not that the news is logical, acceptable, or palatable, just that the budget documents were broken down, which was helpful.  We start with the most bass-ackwards aspect of the budget by asking one question, “Where is the money supposed to come from?”

The 2022 Budget Proposal left President Biden’s desk requesting Congress to spend $6 Trillion and add $1.8 Trillion in new deficit spending to the bloated debt the government already owes.  “Who is going to buy the bonds and make money on this debt?”  When a person employs a search engine, asking this exact question, many answers come forward, and some do not make any sense.

Peter Schiff stated:

The government doesn’t have money that it doesn’t take. Any dollar that the government spends is a dollar that the private sector can’t spend or can’t invest. The government has to take money out of the economy before it can put it back in. Nobody seems to understand this basic point because they see the Fed creating money, and they think, well, we just print money. They don’t realize that when they print money, they destroy the value of the money that’s already there. So, they’re not adding new purchasing power. They’re just redistributing it” [emphasis mine].

Thus the first problem with America’s debt and proposed budget transparent; there is no money that government can spend unless it first forcefully removes it from the owner.  That is theft, or as we recently discussed, legalized theft.  The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has ruled that legalized plunder, legal theft, or forced taxation are the price we pay for civilization, thus making legal the government’s actions to steal money.Government Largess

Let me be clear; I am not an economist.  I select several very bright and experienced people to help explain things to me.  However, I can help others with less interest in economics understand what is happening in America right now to answer the question put forward, “Who is buying America’s debt instruments?”  The simple answer is that the Federal Treasury is buying the debt instruments, as the whole world sells their bonds and other American debt instruments.  What the Federal Reserve is doing is called “monetizing debt.”

Monetizing Debt

Gravy Train 3The definition of monetized debt is as follows. “Debt monetization or monetary financing is the practice of a government borrowing money from the central bank to finance public spending instead of selling bonds to the private sector or raising taxes. It is often informally and pejoratively called printing money or money creation.”  Money can only be created in two ways: selling products and services and lending money where the borrower pays interest.  While there are many different debt instruments, i.e., credit card, home loan, student loan, bonds, Treasury Notes, etc., the principle remains the same: you either sell goods and services to make money or lend money and make money on the interest.

Why does monetizing debt matter?

Two simple reasons the government allows debt to be monetized.  To hide debt, it doesn’t want the public to know about, and to absorb cash on the market as a tool to fight inflation.  Here’s the problem, there is too much debt on the government’s books to hide it from the public any longer.  Add to that the sheer volumes of cash in the marketplace after handing out money during COVID, and the Federal Reserve will monetize debt.  Even if the chair of the Federal Reserve denies monetizing debt, debt is being monetized.Burning money - THE JOSIAH BARTLETT CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY

In short terms, your pocketbook is going to take another hit on the chin, and possibly two.  First, your interest rate on privately held debt, credit cards, student loans, homes, etc., is going to go up, all while making lenders nervous and refuse to lend money.  Second, inflation is already making the dollars held less valuable.

Inflation first; inflation is the devaluation of dollars.  The government floods the marketplace with cash, and the currency you hold will drop in value.  For example, recently the inflation was reported to have been 4.6% higher year-over-year.  This announcement was made in April 2021, so all the money you earned last year suddenly became 4.6% less valuable this year, all before the interest rate increases affected those dollars.Inflation - 8 Things Everyone Ought To Know.

Case in point, the US Government sent me $1000 in January; I held onto those funds due to a move that was coming and spent the money in June.  However, between January and June, inflation moved up at a steady pace, and when I went to spend that $1000, it was only worth $850.  That is the power of inflation in your pocket.

Have you asked for a credit increase recently and been denied?  What about your credit limits on your credit cards, have they shrunk?  Both are indicators that the lenders refuse to lend due to the tremendous risks caused by fiscal insanity in the Federal Government.  What about home loans, have you had to produce more documentation, prove more income, and work harder to qualify for a loan?  What about student debt?  The government controls the lending of student debt.  Even here, the Federal Government cannot demand a lender loan money to student’s and many students have found their college expenses grow, and their ability to borrow shrunk.Inflation pickpocket | Cayman Compass

In a simple fact of life, every household in America understands perfectly. When your credit scores go down, your ability to borrow reduces, and it becomes harder to meet all your bills every month.  Every city, county, state, and even the Federal Government should know this lesson, but they refuse to believe problems arise when credit scores go down.  All because those elected believe they can tax some more, and the money magically appears.

Does money magically appear in your pocket; of course not!  It must be earned through working, selling goods and services, or trading your time for employment with an employer for a paycheck.  Does the law allow you to write blank checks, kite checks, backdate checks, or simply float a check waiting for a future payday; of course not!  Yet, this is what the government is doing right now with your money.  The government is spending money, promising the lenders that a future payday will be theirs, but the government has to spend money to get money.  Does that excuse work for you when the electric company, gas company, cellphone, and other bills arrive?A Helpful Chart : How Inflation Changes Mortgage Rates

The most heartbreaking statement I have heard in a long time was recently made by a physician’s assistant, who claimed, “Aren’t we all just one paycheck from disaster?”  The simple truth, mostly, yes!  Studies exist that talk about financial resiliency in America.  Financial resiliency is all about being able to weather a patch of trouble without losing your possessions in bankruptcy.  The conclusions were all but unanimous. Along with most industrial nations, America has no financial resiliency due to government fiscal policies that hinder saving money and the need to live on credit cards to keep the basics of life paid for each month.

When inflation is stealing the value of your money, no wage can compete with government theft, all before taxes.  Add in tax laws that are counter-productive, job-killing, and increase the cost of doing business, and the job you have becomes tenuous at best.  Add in the hidden debts the government is trying to hide, and nobody in America is making money.

QuestionWhat about those who consider themselves “Rich?”

The same problems you are having with inflation are the same problems everyone is having with inflation.  Let’s go back to my $1000 that became $850 through six months of inflation.  We all spend the same money, and inflation is killing everyone’s dollar equally!  Hence, I beg you, do not allow the media hype about rich versus poor to derail the point.  Inflation and monetized debt are killing the US Dollar, which is why so many foreign investors have dumped their US Debt instruments for safer financial shores.

While some people have more financial resiliency than others, everyone’s dollar is dropping in value.  Inflation and low financial resiliency mean making budget cuts to charities, hiring someone to maintain a lawn, and a host of other ways and means American’s share our money.  It can mean turning off services, weighing how much fuel can be used, and a host of other belt-tightening decisions.  All things the government should first be doing, and they refuse.24+ Inspirational Quotes For Unemployed - Audi Quote

Yours and my liberty and freedoms depend upon stable economic policy, firm fiscal policies, and elected officials scrutinizing the government for waste, fraud, and abuse.  Yet, what do we regularly find; fraud, waste, and abuse!  The Department of Defense has lost multiple trillions of dollars; not a single politician is asking for an audit and an explanation or is willing to withhold additional appropriations until the lost money is accounted for.  The Department of Veterans Affairs continues to mismanage funds, misappropriate funds, and waste money like overripe fruit; yet, still, we have zero interest from the politicians elected to scrutinize government.

I repeat Peter Schiff, only for emphasis:

The government doesn’t have money that it doesn’t take. Any dollar that the government spends is a dollar that the private sector can’t spend or can’t invest. The government has to take money out of the economy before it can put it back in. Nobody seems to understand this basic point because they see the Fed creating money, and they think, well, we just print money. They don’t realize that when they print money, they destroy the value of the money that’s already there. So, they’re not adding new purchasing power. They’re just redistributing it” [emphasis mine].

Inflation Quotes | Inflation Sayings | Inflation Picture Quotes - Page 2In redistributing your money, the government has proven they are the problem, and the solution begins locally!  Change your mayor, city council, county board, school boards, and every other elected official.  Getting the local governments in fiscal shape allows state governments to begin practicing fiscal health and sanity.  Then, we put people into the Federal Office more interested in scrutinizing the government than in writing endless laws and abdicating their legislative role to the executive bureaucrats and the judicial branch.

Knowledge Check!The budget put forth by President Biden is the height of insane, and I have only covered less than 1/10th of the budget problems in this article.  Granted, I covered the most egregious problem, but the fact that the legislative branch is even negotiating a compromise is beyond insanity and borders on criminal negligence!  We, each citizen of a representative government, must stand and tell our representatives NO MORE!  No more fiscal insanity, borrowing to buy votes, entering into debt obligations that make captives of unborn millions of other people.  No more will we allow them to buy votes to maintain power.  End the financial abuse of the taxpayer; your wallet will thank 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.

Division vs. Unity, Labels, and Big Tech

Angry Wet ChickenLast week, while scrubbing my SPAM folder on Gmail, I discovered that Google had arbitrarily been sending several emails containing news of a more conservative slant straight to SPAM.  Why would Google arbitrarily act in a manner to thwart the delivery of email?  A topic for discussion later in this article.

America faces a huge test right now; division is costing us opportunity, liberty, freedom, and potential.  Worse, it will eventually destroy the United States of America, a free Republic (if we can keep it).  What is this nefarious foe; a lack of unity.  The political parties have become so divisive that families are being torn asunder over something as petty as which political party to embrace.  Religion, lifestyle choices, employment opportunities, and so much more are being used to erode America at the family foundation.quote-mans-inhumanity

Socialsolutions.com reports some disturbing statistics from 2018.  However, the COVID-Farrago has seen these numbers only increase, and the numbers for 2020 are still not compiled and updated.  ACLEDdata.com provides some of the statistics from 2020, and the political violence inflicted on families is stunning!  Where does the blame lay for all this violence, property damage, public property destruction, and the host of terrorism committed in George Floyd’s name; the US President, Vice President, Speakers of the House and Senate, the governors, the mayors, and state legislators.

Bait & SwitchI am not excusing individual accountability for specific acts, but every silent politician in America has condoned the divisive behavior.  The corporate media have fed the violence and division, and the press has even been videoed participating in the violence.  My wife stated something, “The problems have become too great for any single individual to make a difference.”  I vociferously disagreed then and state unequivocally now that good is still in the majority of America and Americans and that one individual who declares enough is enough can make a world of difference!

Charmaine Yoest, Jack Spencer, John G. Malcolm, and James Carafano, writing for The Daily Signal, published an article on 11 June 2021 worthy of reading.  The twelve points they outlined are listed below, and additional commentary is mine.

      1. Protect Our Vote – I cannot stress this enough. The November 2020 elections, like all elections since we allowed computers into the mix, were fraught with illegal and illicit behaviors and reflects malfeasance towards the voter. However, that problem is specifically targeted at the local political leaders and judges who refused to allow time for transparent investigations.  President Biden and his administration are definitely not helping the situation.  Getting the Federal Government out of elections is the pre-eminent step we need to return State Rights to State Governments.President Adams
      2. Secure Our Border – America was built on defensible borders, and neglecting those borders is the height of Treason! Webster defines Treason as “The betrayal of allegiance toward one’s own country, especially by committing hostile acts against it or aiding its enemies in committing such acts.”  Hostile acts can be refusing to act when problems arise if the failure to act benefits you personally.  The continued flaunting of National Security on America’s borders (North and South) is treasonous, and those committing these actions of inaction need to be held accountable before the bar of law!photo_slideshow_max
      3. Stop Adding Debt – Of all the points raised in this Daily Signal article, this point is second most important, only behind defensible borders! Inflation must be fought with smarter monetary policies.  Want a good reference for smarter economic policies; Mark Skidmore is a leading economist in the field of government economics and is almost entirely unknown unless you have a hobby in following government monetary policies.  Dr. Skidmore has worked with a highly intelligent team of economists to try and find more than $94 Trillion in lost money in the Federal Government.  Before America spends another dime, a full and transparent audit must be completed, all the books opened, and criminal charges brought!Plato 2
      4. Stand Up To China – One of the things I particularly loved about President Trump, and honestly, there weren’t very many, was his hard stance against China! I applaud President Trump’s efforts at leading America while surrounded by enemies foreign and predominantly domestic!  But to take a hardline stance against China is still desperately needed; yet, what do we see in the capitols of America, kowtowing to China by America’s elected leaders.  ENOUGH!  Stop committing Treason with a dedicated foreign enemy!Apathy
      5. Do NOT Raise Taxes – [Emphasis Mine] You cannot spend yourself out of debt, and you cannot tax your populace for personal benefits to remain elected by buying votes through forced taxation and government largess! America has never had an income problem; we have always had a spending problem!  Debt is captivity, captivity to our enemies is Treason, and those committing Treason need to be held accountable before the law.  From the bureaucrat to the politician, every single one needs to be held responsible for what they have and have not done in properly honoring the funds delivered to the Government through forced taxation!Life Valued
      6. Stop the woke! – From Critical Race Theory to wave upon wave of identity politics, America is being divided so as to be more easily conquered. If you cannot see how dangerous these lines of division are, we need to talk about waking up mentally and recognizing the 800# Gorilla in the room!  You do not need to have special identity laws for every single invented identity, and going down that slippery slope produces nothing but harm, chaos, and destruction.  Ask Caesar from Ancient Rome how identity politics worked in Ancient Rome.  History relates what happens at the end of the identity politics games, and the results are never beneficial!Courage
      7. Cut Red Tape – Another one of those things I applaud President Trump for doing was cutting the Federal Government Red Tape to free the American worker, businesses, and manufacturing. Want a startling statistic; besides inflation, the only other driver of higher costs is government red tape.  I learned this as a kid when I saw the taxes included in a gallon of gas.  I asked if the same was true of all prices and my parents had no idea.  Thus began my hobby of understanding and tracking economics!  But, do not take my word for it; look up the cost of bread from 1940 to today, and look at how much government red tape has influenced just a loaf of bread.  We, the proper owners of the Government in America, must regain the reigns from the asylum patients and cut government red tape!The Duty of Americans
      8. Help Us Sleep Safe at Night – Talk about a conjoined issue with defensible borders! Tell me, why are portions of America’s National Parks just as deadly as Northern Mexico?  I have read first-hand accounts of scouts stumbling upon drug manufacturing facilities, landmines and guerilla war tactics employed to dissuade investigation, and the armed terrorists living in America’s National Parks to produce drugs for the American markets.  Before Big-Tech thought this would blacken certain political parties’ chances at re-election or election, many of those stories were scrubbed from the Internet.  Tell me, do you sleep safer at night right now than you did three years ago?  My home security costs have skyrocketed, 24/7 surveillance makes me feel like a prisoner in my own home.  Yet, the elected officials have blocked all attempts at using the military to root out the terrorists and gangs from America’s National parks and defend the US Borders.Plato 3
      9. Stop Big-Tech! – Have you noticed the censorship occurring across the Internet? How one day you can find stories on a specific topic and the next you cannot locate those same sources?  Perfect example, in February 2020, I could find Dr. Fauci’s research on Coronaviruses and many other research topics.  Now, I can find nothing of those early research projects that proved Dr. Fauci is either lying in his research then or lying to the public now.  I have emails being sent arbitrarily to SPAM if it is content Google opposes politically.  I have witnessed LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media restrict access, shut down accounts, and destroy people’s livelihoods, all because of content the Big-Tech does not find politically palatable.  I am done being censored, censured, and prohibited, all because some tech company does not like the truth!PACT_model
      10. Deliver School Choice – Long have I written that K-12 education is sexually grooming and abusing America’s children instead of teaching them how to read, write, and think logically through arithmetics. K-12 education in America, since the 1860s, has been purposefully designed not to teach students how to read because a literate society knows freedoms and liberties, and an illiterate society can be controlled.  Hence, I disagree with these authors; even school choice cannot save America’s youth from abuse at the hands of teachers and bureaucrats embedded in the education system.  The individual states need to be freed from the Federal Department of Education.  Then, the states need to revamp what education means and begin to throw out the bureaucrats and increase the abilities of teachers to lead and instruct in their classrooms!Patriotism
      11. Empower Patients, NOT Government – [Emphasis Mine] Being a disabled veteran, having my medical care through the VA, I could not agree more that the Government needs to be ripped out of healthcare and the doctor-patient relationship. However, we also need the litigious nature of society to be corrected.  The cost of malpractice insurance is so exceedingly prohibitive that doctors cannot practice independently, and the corporatization of medicine has been growing twice the government intrusion rate!  Thus, the red tape needs to be removed, government intrusion needs to be clipped, and people looking at the judicial branch as a gold mine need to be shunted and stopped!Social Justice Warrior 2
      12. Make Our Streets Safe! – Again, we find an issue with root causes behind defensible borders, military action to fight the drug trade, and the overhaul of the criminal justice system. When the criminal has more rights and protections than the victims, justice is not served!  When sentences do not include community service to repair damage to a society, justice for the community is not served.  When jail has more privileges than not being incarcerated, the criminal justice system is everything but bringing justice to criminals!  We have enough trash, graffiti, weeds, and other community service work needing to be performed for three armies of criminals.  Get them on this service instead of sitting all day.  Worse, all those “peaceful protestors,” a.k.a domestic terrorists, need to be out repairing the damage to the communities they wrought!

Knowledge Check!Unity is a precious resource America has always enjoyed in abundance, and the political enemies of America despise America for the unity that has always been here.  We might fight like brothers amongst ourselves, we might have ancient grudges and family disputes that spill over state lines, but we are inherently a unified people.  Stop allowing the media to preach division, hate, and identity politics.  Stop allowing those elected as representatives to divide you and your family.  America, we have a choice before us, unite and live, or divide and fall.  All of the changes discussed stem from a simple point, will we choose to unite and live or allow division to separate us to be conquered as unpitied sacrifices in a contemptible struggle?

Image - Eagle & FlagJoin me!  Join with your neighbors and family members!  Let us for a community of responsible and intelligent citizens, who are informed, and active in halting the government abuses at every turn!  As a united front, we can win!  Believe that, and we are halfway to restoring America to the ”Shining city on a hill!”

© 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.

NO MORE BS: Come, Let Us Reason Together – Chapter 2

Bird of PreyAs American state, city, and county governments, begin to become greedy little children over the $350 Billion the Federal Government is “handing out for COVID relief” to “spur a national recovery from the economic toll of COVID-19.”  I wanted to take a minute and speak some reality to the situation.  Let us logically review what has happened since November 2019 in the light of a non-partisan, apolitical review.  I urge you to take what is said, conduct your own research, and come to your own conclusions.  As Dumbledore said, “I could be as wrong as Humphrey Belcher, who believed  the time was ripe for a cheese cauldron.”

    1. COVID-19 started in Wuhan Province, China. It was delivered around the world by the Chinese Government’s intentional decision to allow travel while infectious.  The virus was further enhanced by the political nature of Government, the intrusion of Government, and the mass hysteria whipped up by the global media.  Power-hungry people looked upon a virus with a 99.02% survivability rate and saw a golden opportunity to seize power from those who elected them to office.Apathy

These are basic COVID-19 facts that have never been refuted, and the adults in the room have recognized the power-mad politicians and the media usurpers from the beginning of the “pandemic.”  While politics continues to play an over-sized role in COVID, while people are still suffering, and while some “normality” is breaking out, the money spent to date will eventually need to be repaid, and no one is discussing this problem.  Worse, more money is being printed and pumped into the economies of the world to “spur growth,” and this is never good fiscal policy!

    1. Printing money causes inflation. Too much money, not enough goods, raises prices beyond sustainable limits to rebalance the economy; hence inflationary prices will continue until excess money is absorbed.  This is a fundamental economic fact everyone should know.  Money is created through several processes, but printing it to throw at a problem, does not resolve the issue; it only prolongs the misery of the original problem.   The original problem was not COVID-19 but a runaway government from the Obama reign, where the economy stalled, the money pumped in did nothing, and a recession dragged on artificially due to the political hands in the economy.  The same problem from Obama’s reign will lead to the same economic issues under the fraudulent president.Plato 3
    2. Fiscal insanity is not fixed by Federal impropriety and investment. Too many states, California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Maine, and so many others, are in dire financial straits.  However, their fiscal health was already failing before COVID-19.  Investment by the Federal Government will not change the underlying issues and make a fiscally insane state fiscally sane.  In fact, the opposite will occur; the funds being handed to the states under the auspices of “spurring growth” will exacerbate fiscal problems.  More to the point, the excess money in the markets will mean more financial problems for the rest of the United States, which will bleed into the global economy!Plato 2

You cannot buy your way out of fiscal problems!  The only answer to spur growth is to reduce Government!  Reduce regulations!  Reduce the intrusion of Government!  Eliminate taxes!  Instead, the same tired act is being performed, print money, give it to the states, complain about inflationary prices, blame the rich, and increase taxes!  The only thing the Trump Presidency proved, without a shadow of a doubt, if America can get the millstone of Government off her neck, her economy BOOMS!  Yet, what has Washington and too many state capitals done, doubled down on policies that do not work and try to call this “progress.”

Knowledge Check!Agree or disagree, your choice and your consequences.  I have made my case; the money being pumped into the states will lead to inflationary prices, above and beyond a sustainable level.  The states all have sticky fingers and wet lips looking for these funds.  Sure, there are many promises regarding how these funds will be spent. Still, I guarantee most of the promises are empty. The politicians will have their special interests fed first—leaving the citizens to pay exorbitant fees for food, clothing, housing, services, and products until the extra money is consumed, which might occur sometime in the next 5-years at a minimum.  Who benefits, nobody!  Who loses, everyone!

© 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.

NO MORE BS: Learned Helplessness Leads to StagNation

Government Largess 2Cash Nickerson wrote a powerful book, “StagNation: Understanding the ‘New Normal’ in Employment.”  In discussing the housing bubble, Nickerson made a point worth understanding about people’s psychology as a group.  The middle-class survives upon the hopes and dreams of lower classes of people striving to move into the middle-class.  When the housing bubble broke, and millions of lives were destroyed, with their hopes, dreams, and home investments, the financial livelihoods, and the dreams of those financial upward mobility into the middle-class were blasted into oblivion.

By failing to strive to get into the middle-class, the middle-class shrinks and dies; worse, the lower-classes learn helplessness and become devoid of hope.  Then, along comes President Trump; hope in the lower-classes of people becoming financially upward mobile was rekindled.  Suddenly, a president was recognized as an honest person, working to work with those whose dreams had died, and new energy to be upward financially mobile were reborn.  The lower-classes leaving the plantation provided by the government and liberal leftists scared those in power; President Trump had to be destroyed, hopes and dreams of financially upward mobility crushed, and learned helplessness needed to be restored in America’s working-class neighborhoods.

Do the demise and demonic possession make more sense now?

Detective 4The working class has to be kept miserable, hopeless, and dependent upon the beneficent government bureaucrat, or power and prestige are lost.  These people have no idea how to live if they are not oppressing someone else.  Five-years of “Trump Derangement Syndrome” has not improved the power hold of those governmental powers who desire to oppress.  Instead of bringing the working classes into despair, hopelessness, unemployment, and returning them to the plantation, the working classes are ANGRY!  The working classes are inspired.  The working classes are madder than a pen full of soaked chickens with an acute case of hemorrhoids.  Worse, they have met the enemy, and the enemy is the “beneficent” government and their media lackeys and lapdogs.

Speaker Pelosi, along with the rest of the US House of Representatives majority and minority leadership, is expected to represent the working and middle classes in the “People’s House” in a representative government.  These people have failed to do their jobs, abused, harassed, defiled, and demeaned their positions to the point that the working and middle classes want her jailed, or worse, depending upon where you obtain your information.  I heard someone wanted to outfit Pelosi and her ilk with stakes, an anthill, some honey, and leave them in the Arizona desert.

People are not returning to the plantation as humble orphans awaiting their daily bowls of gruel; the people are standing and fighting back.  Those in government power, their assistants, their employees, their staff, the lobbyists, etc., all expect a different outcome.  They will be shocked when they open their eyes and see the people rising in rebellion.  Throwing off the chains of learned helplessness and discovering they are strong, capable, and able Americans [A(h)-ME-I-CAN].

The Duty of AmericansFacing Truth

The housing bubble, like COVID-19, was artificially created by the government to adversely affect the working classes of people as they strive for financially upward mobility into the middle class.  The same is true for the coming Educational Debt bubble, the Consumer Credit Card bubble, and the National Debt bubble, among other looming disasters.  The government leaders refuse to believe that bubbles burst, and if the bubble bursts after they are out of office, then they can claim, “It didn’t happen on my watch.”  Enabling them to lie about their own willful misconduct creating bubbles of problems for the American Citizen to handle, clean up, and correct.

Welfare State BeginsLet us talk frankly and honestly, openly, and directly.  America is in a mess; K-12 Education was purposefully designed from the 1860s to create a dependent class of poor citizens.  Hopeless, learning helplessness from their first day in K-12 classrooms, and forever cast out of American Society’s mainstream because of their literacy abilities.  Since this population needed neurological stimulation after K-12 Education, other government programs were introduced to keep America’s populations divided, opposed, and barely managed.  Illegal immigrants were introduced, sports were made a “profession,” and media channels flocked to host sporting events.  Through lies, deceit, and drugs, “education” became 12-years of neurological stimulation, not a free mind’s education.  All actions which taken by the government are very similar to Rome’s problems where “Bread and Circuses” were the answer—raising the Roman National Debt, forcing the Roman Armies and Navies to continually find a new enemy and a new source of wealth to pay for the lower-ranked citizens to sit around watching circuses and eating bread.Welfare State Ends

The American Republic is ours, IF we can keep it![emphasis mine]

Benjamin Franklin is reported to have made that statement.  I find it applicable today, and one worth knowing the full history.  Click the link!  Know your history, for your enemies in government know that if you lose contact with history, they can control you!  By reducing your literacy, the powers in government hope to keep you from discovering they are not benevolent but tyrannical.  Not helpful, but harmful, deadly, and like acid, they are consuming this country from within.

ProblemsWhile reading the cases of families in family court, I wanted to weep at the lost potential.  A great-grandmother has custody of her daughters, granddaughters, and great-granddaughter’s children.  Why, because a couple of the girls are in drug rehab, one is still a minor, and her great-granddaughter just became pregnant at 12 for the food stamps, WIC, and other government benefits.  I have read of people, all races and creeds, in inner-cities selling government benefits for cash, to buy drugs and alcohol.  I have read stories of how a grandmother pimped her granddaughters for cash, among other cases where the granddaughter was required to get pregnant quickly so the family could maintain a level of government subsistence.

LinkedIn ImageLearned helplessness leads to StagNation… The lesson is clear, the writing is on the wall, and the next major government catastrophe can make America stronger by cleaning out the trash in power, or will destroy America as we know it forever.  People need hope, upward financial mobility, and less government intrusion.

© 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.

Uncomfortable Truths – An Open Letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Congressional and Senatorial Representatives of the United States of America

I-Care

I write by way of greeting; I write by way of exhortation to action, as the current status quo is reprehensible and unacceptable.  Uncomfortable truths are those realities where bureaucracy has superseded logic and leadership, creating situations where the harm of the patient/customer is the first and only business.  There are good people at the Department of Veterans Affairs; but, these people are being crushed by the bureaucracy, the stifling mental inertia, and the lack of actionable leaders to propel change at the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and the National Cemetery.

An example of uncomfortable truths: I witnessed a veteran enter the emergency room of the VA Medical Center, and be actively, but passively, abused.  Because he was a regular, and sometimes came in and was obstinate, and because he was homeless, he had a history with this emergency room and staff.  The staff actively overlooked him, they talked bad about him, they cussed him out behind his back, and his service was suboptimal at best when he was finally treated.  As this veteran was not the only one being treated in this manner, this was brought to the attention of hospital leadership; the person reporting the abuse was terminated without cause.  This is a leadership issue, a process problem, and an excuse not to change.

Another example of uncomfortable truths: the VBA needs/wants “New and Material Evidence” to process/review/correct a claim.  The Primary Care Provider and all specialty clinics at the VA cannot provide “New and Material Evidence,” as they are not diagnosticians.  Thus, the veteran is left stuck between two bureaucracies that refuse to help, because the rules do not allow the providers to help; this a leadership problem and a process issue.  How can the veteran afford outside insurance to obtain the “New and material evidence?”

Earlier this month, the OIG sent out a report over death at the VA due to leadership inefficiencies and can be found here, VA-OIG report.  Over the last week, three more incident reports have been discharged from the VA-OIG.  Report 1: Has a veteran dying of suicide, because the decision-making process, a process designed specifically to improve communication to aid high-risk patients were not implemented, tracked, and reported properly.  The decision-making process is expected to employ a full patient-care team (PACT) in evaluating and making decisions that affect the patient’s care.  The process was not followed, and the veteran who is already at high-risk for suicide and known to the PACT was deactivated, leading to a veteran’s death.  The VA-OIG made a recommendation to improve the process, the same process that was disabled, leading to a dead veteran.  How does this make sense?

The uncomfortable truth is multi-faceted in this case.  Leadership does not do record audits to ensure the deactivation of high-risk patients does not become “lost” in the bureaucracy.  Leadership is not flagged when the PACT disagrees with the treatment of a patient.  Finally, the VA-OIG has no teeth to reprimand, insist, and improve compliance; they can only make recommendations after the fact.  Congressional representatives and Senators, you allowed the VA to have its own dedicated inspector general, why?  What will you do to enhance the leadership at the VA?  Do not tell me again; we will hold “Committee Meetings.”  These committee meetings have been, and continue to be a feckless waste of taxpayer time, money, and never addresses the core issues apparent.

Report 2: Covers a veteran needing an appendectomy and had to wait for three hours for the surgeon to become available to perform the surgery.  The VA-OIG confirmed the delay in care, but essentially settled for, “Well, the patient lived, so no problem here.”  If that statement seems overly simplified of the process, tell me why the patient had to wait.  Why pay records and timekeeping records were messed up for a single month (May 2018), and how pay and timekeeping records got messed up in the first place.  The VA uses a national system for reporting time worked, but not all employees use the same payment system.  If true, why aren’t all employees, to include residents, surgeons, and staff using the same pay system?  The wait is blamed on poor communication, communication in scheduling surgery, communication between resident and surgeons, and communication because the “appropriate documentation” was insufficiently maintained.

I know from sad experience that there are nurses and doctors who write things down in notebooks, on scrap paper, and on paper charts, when the computer on wheels (COWS) is readily available.  The excuse is always, “I am too busy to use that thing.”  I know the VA has spent an excessive amount of money to get digital records, installing digital records, getting digital records to work when needed, and delivering the digital record available to mobile stations to document what is happening with the patient.  I have some grave concerns for checkbox medicine; but, blaming a surgical delay on improperly maintained documentation remains a wholly inexcusable and unacceptable statement in an official investigation.  Why was this lame excuse allowed to stand?

Report 2, exemplifies a multi-faceted problem presenting a need for a multi-faceted approach to correction.  Leadership at the hospital must be actively engaged, ensuring processes and procedures are optimized to deliver the “I-CARE” customer promise.  Communication chains are a leadership tool, and when broken, correction demands accountability and responsibility to resolve correctly.  Reporting is a leadership function to ensure liability and corrective action as a normal operating procedure.  Did anyone ask why the documentation was not maintained?  Was this lack of documentation maintenance a design flaw to hide what happened during this incident as an extension of designed incompetence?

Report 2, demands answers on two distinct issues double-dipping, and the continued practice of collective design incompetence. Double-dipping by providers working for the VA at the same time they are working at other medical institutions, is this occurring?  Why?  I understand there is a provider shortage at the VA.  I know doctors need to make money, and doctors make money by seeing patients, surgeons make money performing surgery.  The VA-OIG report appears to gloss over the practice of double-dipping e.g., on-call from one hospital while working at another, or working at another hospital while the VA expects you to be at their hospital.  Senators and Congressional representatives, are you investigating the potential for double-dipping?  Will it take a dead veteran before you even care about double-dipping occurring?  I make no accusations; I am asking honest questions on this issue in an attempt to learn more.  Will you do the same?

One of the most egregious problems at the VA is designed incompetence to allow a malefactor the ability to hide behind bureaucracy to avoid accountability and responsibility.  Designed incompetence remains a significant problem and I do not see any of the mid-level managers, leaders, supervisors, trainers, etc. acting to eliminate designed incompetence to the improvement of the Department of Veterans Affairs.  During President Obama’s Administration, I watched a Congressional Committee meeting where whistle-blowers were invited and testified about the designed incompetence that allows for an individual to pass the buck, duck responsibility, and protect their jobs and power at the VA.  I keep discussing design incompetence, because the mid-level managers, directors, and supervisors at the VA refuse to address and correct this issue.  Senators and Congressional Representatives, why do you allow this practice to continue?  Did you know that this is the primary method for discriminating and harming whistle-blowers?  Of course, you did.  I have seen several committee meetings where this exact issue was discussed, and the bloviation from the committee does nothing.  You are the leaders in our Republican Society, when are you going to act, in concert with Secretary Wilkie (who’s doing an exceptional job), correcting and insist these practices cease?

Report 3: Involves 60,000+ veterans, is this number sufficient to warrant permanent action on the proper billing of insurance companies and veterans, or does this number need to exceed some other level before it warrants your attention.  If a different level is required, what is that magical number?  I guarantee that veterans from all states and territories are involved here, as their representatives, what will you do?

Directly from the VA Website, we find two different uses for funds collected:

  • “VA is required by Public Law 87–693; 42 USC. 2651, commonly known as the Federal Medical Care Recovery Act, to bill the health insurance carrier that provides health care coverage for Veterans to include policies held by their spouse. The money collected goes back to VA medical centers to support health care costs provided to all Veterans.
  • Funds that VA receives from third party health insurance carriers go directly back to VA Medical Center’s operational budget.”

You, the elected officials of the Republic of the United States of America, enacted these laws and improper billing of veterans and insurance companies, causes financial harm and distress; this is your problem!  Do you understand that even if money is returned to a veteran, the financial injury has been done?  Those veterans who have paid a bill, or the insurance company that paid a statement, they didn’t need to pay is an interest-free loan to the government, and this is wrong!

There are literally tons of money at stake here; I know my local VA Hospital said, “The funds collected when we bill insurance companies come directly to this hospital for construction projects, renovations, new equipment, and so forth.”  Report 3 is but one of how many VA-OIG reports where improper billing is occurring. Incorrect billing drives the cost of healthcare up.  Hence, Obamacare costs more because the VA is not accurately billing.  Medicare costs more because of improper billing.  You the elected officials are directly responsible for ensuring proper billing occurs as an aid in reducing the costs of healthcare.

Where are you? Will you act?

 

© 2019 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.

Leading the Call Center: Flavor of the Month Philosophies

Chinese CrisisHaving just completed a project that saw me leading a team in a call center, I want to make something clear; quick fixes and flavor of the month philosophies do not work.  I cannot stress this enough; yet, the practice continues to the detriment of call center employees and the organizations served by call centers.  Flavor of the month philosophies is the latest bestseller to fix the problems in business.  We have all seen these programs including, FISH, WAIT, Strengths Quest, and so much more.  These ideas are good ideas, and they possess value, but when changed monthly, these programs, never do more than briefly mark the surface intellect of the call center.  I am not disparaging these ideas in the least; let me elaborate as to why the flavor of the month idea fails.

The project previously mentioned when concluded saw the call center director very much converted to a program of definite value in and using one’s strengths entitled Strengths Quest as presented by Clifton, Anderson, and Schreiner (2006).  The culture of strength promotes unity, and by extension, organizational power, when combined intellectually, becomes the corporate culture.  Integration in business, especially in call center operations, remains crucial to bottom-line health.  The call center director invested a lot of organizational resources to capture everyone’s strengths, publish these advantages, and use this information to measure the call center.  The problem was the staff has no idea why they are investing company time in completing the “Clifton Strength’s FinderÒ (CSF),” and many completed this assignment while taking calls and distracted.  How verifiable is the data if the attention of the person completing the task is diverted?

My assignment, as a call center supervisor, included gauging the employees in the call center about their strengths.  Of the 10-employees in the call center, two had forgotten and blatantly said they do not care.  Three expressed a desire to retake the CSF to more fully focus on the task instead of completing it between calls.  Four employees asked why and what is the purpose of taking the CSF.  Finally, all the employees, when asked how they use the CSF data in their daily actions, expressed the same answer, I do not know.

Let’s be clear; there is nothing wrong with the latest flavor of the month programs to improve an organization, provided the leaders understand change, embrace change, train and teach “the what” and “the why,” and then remain committed long after the excitement over the bright new object fades.  I had the misfortune of working in a call center where the entire corporate culture was expected to change with every fresh flavor of leadership, and the organization is a mental mess.  What is a leader to do when each new flavor-of-the-month is presented as a potential fix for organizational dilemmas?  I suggest the following as a launching point for corporate discovery and leadership support.

  • If the organization is going to invest resources in a particular program, do not change for a set period, which includes pre- and post- measurement and evaluation. If the organization does not know where they start, they can never know what happened or where to go in the future.blue-money-burning
  • Organizational change must be more than surface polish or potential money (Blue Money) is lost, never to be recovered. Organizational change needs to fundamentally affect the organization and be allowed to produce measured results.  Does this mean that if something is not working, we keep at it?  No!  It means to provide sufficient time and measurement to gauge the application and the organizational change.  Many times beta-testing the proposed change can identify the processes, procedures, and other trouble points to be mindful of, or correct in beta-testing, to ensure full organizational change may occur with a higher chance for success.
  • Get everyone involved, enthused, and a willing advocate for the change. Getting everyone involved is not producing marketing materials and desk references.  Getting everyone involved requires explaining why and detailing what in the organizational change.  Getting everyone involved means there will be feedback, pushback, and rebellion.  Expect pushback, but never allow pushback to derail reform.  Pushback is a healthy activity that provides essential opportunities for the leader to explore solutions, answer questions, and evaluate the results.
  • Teach and train; train and teach. Learning should be a constant and desirable outcome of organizational change.  Teaching is not training, training is not teaching; but, both are critical skills needed for leaders and learners.  Teaching is helping someone else acquire knowledge.  Training is teaching a behavior or ability.  Teaching is usually one-way communication using measurement tools, e.g., tests to gauge knowledge learned and retained.  Training should be two-directional communication, is completed through experience in closely monitored environments, and includes 360-degree feedback to improve the training environment.  Never allow teaching and training to become the same confused term; while the words are closely related, they are not the same action.
  • When was the last time you discussed what you are reading with front-line employees? When was the last time you engaged a front-line worker about what they are reading, thinking, and ask for suggestions to improve?  When was the last time you asked to be trained on a process, procedure, or organizational action by those who do it all day?  If recently, did you ask why, a lot?  I promise you will be surprised when you have these conversations, especially since they open up opportunities to explain and expound, learn, change, adapt, and engage with those you lead.
  • Organizational change requires enthusiasm from all parties to begin to engage and deepen the shift from surface polish to fundamental culture adaptation. Enthusiasm takes many shapes, sizes, and colors, including the loyal opposition of followers, opinions, and feedback.  The leader must exemplify and honor, or support, the enthusiasm around them as a tool for succeeding in changing the organization.
  • Clarify intentions. Clarify processes.  Clarify procedures.  Clarify by asking follow-up questions and reflectively listen to obtain mutual understanding.  Clarification remains one of the most critical tasks in organizational change.  When confusion rears its ugly head, respond with explanation and follow-up, as detailed in two-directional communication.  When the comprehension is doubted, ask for feedback as an opportunity to increase clarification.  Clarification is both a tool and an opportunity; do not waste this opportunity and tool by neglecting those needing clarification.
  • Organizational change needs a mechanism for gathering data from many sources, including the employees affected, the vendors, the suppliers, and the customers. Open the valve for data to flow back.  One of the most horrific organizational changes it has been my displeasure to witness was increased because the leaders operated in a vacuum and never allowed data flow that was contradictory to the previously agreed upon results.  The leaders in this organization worked hard to refuse hard data, which contradicted their bias, and this ruined the business, the employees, and the customers.

I cannot guarantee following all these points will make organizational change succeed, roses bloom, bottom lines inflate, rainbows dance, and all of life fall into organized lines leading ever upward.  I can guarantee that without these points, organizational change that promotes an environment of learning will never be more than polish.  Consider the axiom, “Lipstick on a pig.”  The lipstick is not bad, the pig is not bad, but placing lipstick on a pig is out of place and does nothing to improve the pig.  Flavor-of-the-month changes are lipstick on a pig, not bad, but out of place until the entire organization is on board and enthusiastically supporting the move, and proper measurements are in place to gauge, measure, and report the change.

Business theorist Chris Argyris put forth a model, later discussed by Senge (1994) explaining our thinking process as we interact with the world.  This seven-step method is called the Ladder of Inference; according to this model, as we move up the ladder our beliefs affect what we infer about what we observe and therefore become part of how we experience our interaction with other people.  Organizational change can be plotted along the same model or ladder of inference.

Leadership LadderOrganizational change begins with information output; then collect data, preferably through listening and observation while doing the work; interpreting the data includes obtaining data, evaluating meaning, deciphering intent, and understanding value.  Please note, the assumptions should not be made in a vacuum and could be wrong; thus, always return to the data producers and ask questions to ensure mutual understanding.  Once conclusions are mutually understood, they become beliefs; but, don’t stop until beliefs become actions.

If a model is needed, please benchmark Quicken Loans and Southwest Airlines, both organizations are doing a tremendous job with the ladder steps, especially moving organizational beliefs into motivated organizational action.  Remember, one does not climb a ladder to view the horizon and scenery, they climb a ladder to begin working, carrying the tools needed to perform the work, and possessing certain knowledge that the work can be accomplished.  Climb the ladder of success with the intent to work, achieve, and move forward.

References

Clifton, D. O., Anderson “Chip,” E., & Schreiner, L. A. (2016). Strengths quest: Discover and develop your strengths in academics, career, and beyond (2nd ed.).

Senge. P. M. (1994). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. New York: Currency Doubleday.

© 2017 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.

Understanding Money: Shifting the Paradigm on Money

Several years ago, I spent a significant amount of time trying to explain the different types of money to a very inexperienced young man.  I was highly unsuccessful; so, I take this opportunity to explain various types of money and how they work in the scheme of things.  I hope this explanation helps others to not only understand their own money, but also to become more cognizant of how governments spend your tax money.

Green money is cash.  Green money is the dollars and cents in a bank account or your pocket and is easily spent.  Image result for images, green moneyGreen money is often called liquid money or liquid assets, liquid because the holder is presumed the owner, who is in possession of it and who can spend it freely any way he wishes.  Possession is nine-tenths of the law.  One of the first lessons most of us learned growing up was if you wanted to buy something and your pocket was empty you went without.  Liquid assets are cash, green money, and are available to be spent in any way the holder chooses.

Non-liquid assets are consideImage result for images, house, car, boatred green money as a result of their sale; this is why a house, a car, a boat, and other such items are considered assets.  The sale of the asset provides the opportunity to turn a non-liquid asset into a liquid asset.  However, since many times the asset is employed as collateral for a loan, the sale of that asset means the loan holder is paid first from the sale.  If the resale value is insufficient to cover the full loan owed, the loan, which is red money, can still be collected; this process is why red money is so important to understand.

Red money is debt.  Red money always comes with a penalty called interest.  Interest is green money turned red to return the profit to those who lent the initial funds or principle.  That debt, be it a loan, a credit card, or other debt model, remainImage result for images, red debt traps a burden to the borrower, continues to accumulate interest, and can be called due at any moment in time.  While some laws protect the borrower from excessive interest rates, it remains important to know about and be cognizant of the interest rate trap.

The interest rate trap comes in several forms.  While in the US Navy, stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, a sailor buddy bought a beautiful car for $4000 with a 45% interest rate.  He put $1500 in green money down, so the full loan amount, principle and interest, for 60-months was $7805.49, including the sales tax.  When the car was stolen, later that month, the insurance company valued the car at only $1000, leaving the sailor to pay immediately $6805.49.  This is one type of interest rate trap; another comes from Payday Loans.  Borrow your next paycheck today, get the money today, and pay your paycheck back during the next 36-months at an interest rate between 30-60%.  By the time the payday loan is paid off, more than four separate paychecks to cover a single paycheck loan will have been invested provided payments have been made on time and as quickly as possible.

While paying off this loan, you lose your job.  You can lose your car as well because your car is sometimes used to insure your payday loan.  If the resale value is insufficient, you lose your car, you lost your job, and now you still owe a considerable sum that gains interest.  Red money is dangerous; like the sword of Damocles, the danger hangs by a tiny thread above the borrower; one wrong move and the sword falls.  Debt, red money, can be helpful; but, careful planning and budgeting are required before entering into debt obligations.  Always it is better to save and budget green money, or obtain investors, before contemplating debt.

Black money is dead Image result for images, black moneymoney.  Consider the person who takes green money and places those dollars and cents under a mattress or in a coffee can in their home.  The cash is out of circulation, is not valuable enough to collect, and no one is benefiting from the money through interest.  Black money can be created in other ways that will be explored later in this article.

The next type of money is blue money, also referred to as potential money.  Consider a hammer. The hammer might cost $20.00 in green money to buy and bring home.  In the hands of a trained construction worker, a $20.00 hammer, over the course of the hammer’s effective working life, has the potential to earn thousands of dollars in green money for the construction worker.  Image result for images, blue dollarsIn the hands of an inexperienced worker, the hammer has the potential to cost thousands of dollars in green money.  Training a person to improve their performance might cost $300 in green money; but, if that employee is able to improve his performance on the job, potentially millions of dollars are able to come into the company because of the training.

Money is created when it is borrowed and interest is paid on the loan.  For example, Jack has an extra $500 (green money).  He gives this money to his friend Joe in the form of a loan (red money).  Joe takes the loan, adds to his business potential (blue money), and through increased profits is able to pay Jack his $500 loan plus the interest of $300.  Hence, $300 (green money) is created as profits for Jack.  While a simple analogy, understanding money should be simple.

Joe’s loan to Jack showed on Joe’s books as red money until the loan and interest were paid.  During this time, Joe was also making green money, or profits sufficient to pay his workforce, his other obligations, and still retain sufficient to pay himself.  Small business owners are not paid until everyone else is paid, and it is not uncommon for small business owners to be scraping by on the smallest margins because all their non-liquid assets are locked up in loans to keep the business afloat.  When poor business practices begin risking inventory and equipment and shareholder investments are added into the equation, is it any wonder why small businesses struggle.

Money is also created when saved in the various saving tools offered by banks.  The diligent saver can save $40 a week until he or she is 65 years of age and potentially have millions in the bank for retirement.  Why, because the bank will pay interest to the saver from the interest collected on the loans the bank makes with the green money invested.  Many different savings tools can be considered as non-liquid assets because of the agreements made between the saver and the bank.  Generally, the longer the agreement for the bank to hold the money, the higher the interest rate paid as the bank can schedule payments and loan the same dollars more easily when the money of the saver is scheduled to be in the bank for a longer period of time.

Often Federal treasury departments of governments create money by printing more or larger bills.  The problem with printing more money is one of surplus, which begins to increase interest rates and decrease value.  Consider for a moment, if the only way to create money is to work money through lending, improving business, etc., then printing only makes harder putting money to work.  Too much money on the market creates negatives; negatives include lower dollar value, which makes items cost more, and increased interest rates, which makes borrowing costs increase.  More importantly, except for necessities, the willingness of producers to spend money stops.  These are normal cause and effect actions.  A long enough period of decreased willingness to spend money and an economic downturn is initiated.

State, City, County, Town, municipal governments are even more pernicious with their plots and plans.  On the local government level, money cannot be printed; hence, debt is entered into and municipal bonds are sold to create money in the private sector, which is then paid to the government in increased taxes, but the money lent to the local government was already spent.  One truth discovered about government, when taxes are increased, money is asked of the voters to borrow.  The truth is, the government body asking for more has already spent the increase, spent the budget, and usually spent twice as much as they are asking the voters to allocate.  Consider special elections for increasing taxes, the money being asked for has been spent, the budget was spent, and now the voters are asked to pay for the cost of the special election.  Many times, the increase being asked for has been spent three to four times before the election is even considered.

Poor fiscal planning increases debt by decreasing the value of the original municipal bonds, and the government has to borrow more to get relatively close to the value of the first municipal bond sold.  Note, municipal bonds are considered as debt to the local government and as green money non-liquid assets to the purchaser; municipal bonds are able to be bought and sold on the private market.  Government focuses upon the holder of the most bonds; because elected leaders are focused upon the holders of the most bonds, citizens bear no weight in being heard.  Money talks!

Municipal bonds, in several different locales, can be held as unseen debt, or black money kept on other books, not currently open to the public.  The monies owed are not considered red money, because there is no plan by those in power to pay these debts; thus, the amount of a city’s debt could be significantly higher than reported.  This is called an unfunded liability.  Unfunded liabilities never have a plan for repayment by those in power.  Unfunded liabilities can be a mixture of a lot of different debts (employee retirement, some municipal bond types, unpaid bills to local service providers, etc.), but the common denominator remains.  No plan is in place to meet that obligation and no budget item covers these debts; thus, black money increases.  Unfunded liabilities are hopes of current politicians on future prosperity, and sometimes, depending upon laws, unfunded liabilities are part of the government’s credit rating. Whether it is, the debt does not go anywhere, might or might not accrue interest, and always is hidden from the taxpayer, who is responsible for paying the bills.

While this explanation is very basic, the lessons contained are sufficient to protect the Image result for images, blue dollarsbottom-line, improve knowledge, and provide opportunity for improving circumstances.  Some key ending points when bottom lines are failing include:  before anything else, look to lost blue money as the cause.  The more blue money is disregarded is exponentially equal to red money increases, and green money evaporation; this formula is set in stone.  Potential blue money is not elusive, but it takes keen observation to protect and grow.  Grow enough blue money and green money multiplies exponentially.

© 2017 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved