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Dateline: Richard’s World

What’s Old Is New: Village Post Offices Coming Back

You probably know this. The United States Post Office is broke. Bad broke. Really bad broke. The USPS stands testament to what is wrong with today’s federal government … unionized government workers, defined pension plans, bloated workforce, non-performance based hiring and promotions, government trying to compete with the private sector … basically a government bureaucracy run amok.

I have long stated and believe that an entity such as FedEx or UPS or maybe a combination of both, could take over the USPS and it would be making a profit in less than a year. We’d have better service and probably lower rates for first class mail. But hey, even if we didn’t have lower rates for first class mail, at least our tax dollars wouldn’t be wasted to the tune of billions of dollars. Let the hate mail start flowing from the unionized government workers.

But we all know there aren’t enough politician around who will take the bold and necessary steps to eliminate the USPS. No offense to all my female friends … but they don’t have the balls.

So, I ran across this tidbit of info from the USPS Postmaster that was included in his recent speech about closing about 3,600 PO locations, primarily in small rural towns. He said, “The agency is looking to contract with about 2,500 small groceries, pharmacies, and other retailers to create ‘village post offices’.” He got my interest.

Granted, this alone will not save the USPS. It will probably delay the inevitable. But I have to give the Postmaster credit … not a bad idea.

When I was growing up on the southside of Atlanta back in the 50s, our PO was in the local grocery store … a Mayberry type grocery store. Yes, I’m that old. So I know what he is talking about when he speaks of ‘village post offices’.

At least these contracted Post Offices will be operated by business people. Your tax dollars will be going to a local business person who will then turn around and put it back into their local community. And many of these communities with closed POs will still have service … and probably better service.

Nope, I don’t think it will save the USPS but it’s a good idea. But who knows, maybe one good idea will lead to another good idea and another good idea.

Until next time,

Richard


Power Pride and Arrogance or Ignorance and Naiveté

Speaker Pelosi has placed herself in the position of defending the wording of her message to Syrian President Assad.

The issue is really not whether or not she delivered the wrong message – the issue is Speaker Pelosi’s obvious naiveté regarding politics on the world stage. Her demeanor is scary, dangerous and somewhat foolish.  She is the person only two steps away from assuming the Presidency of the United States and she is acting like a power crazed court jester.

Perhaps she did not violate any diplomatic rules when communicating with President Assad but she put herself in the position of being second guessed and criticized.  She is operating in an arena where she has no qualifications and obviously fewer skills on the world stage.  Does she really believe King Abdullah cares one bit about the number of women in authority in Saudi Arabia?  The comment did make for some good sound bytes however.

So now we have Prime Minister Olmert of Israel telling us that Speaker Pelosi delivered a message he did not authorize.  Speaker Pelosi’s press machine is already in full defense telling anyone who will listen how she did not break any rules and stayed within the boundaries of her office.  Once again, I say it does not matter what message she delivered it matters that she is not qualified to play in this sandbox. 

Will Syria now assume they are more than a second class country on the world stage?  No one really knows but visits from self important demagogues will certainly not take away from this perception.  Will King Abdullah realize the error of his ways and appoint more females to important posts within the Saudi government?  When pigs fly!!!  As a matter of fact King Abdullah is now preaching the rhetoric that the U.S. is an invader in Arab lands and needs to leave the area post haste.  He is putting a multi billion dollar arms deal with the U.S. in jeopardy with his current stance on U.S. Mideast Policy. 

One would have to suspect that King Abdullah is concerned with his power base in Saudi Arabia due to the large influence of radical Islamist in the country.  Perhaps we need to stop selling arms to the Saudi’s and let them slowly return to the 7th century.  The radicals talk about returning to the glory of ancient Islam but I really wonder what they would do if they no longer had air conditioning and Coca-Cola.  Remove the facade they have installed and we might see they really like Western culture. 

Speaker Pelosi – please keep up the good work and you may find yourself wearing a veil and being the servant matron for King Assad.  Should radical Islam get their wish and dominate the world stage including the United States, it will be ironic that individuals such as Nancy Pelosi would be the first to have their power diminished in a male dominated culture.  Good thing she does not qualify for one of the 72 virgins’ positions.

Terry


If you don’t read Orange County Register columnist Steven Greenhut on a regular basis, you should.  His column from February 25th is a jewel. It’s entitled, Customers Rule. In this opinion piece, Steven’s main point is this: Why in the hell does the American public and media get themselves all worked up into a lather and put all of their focus on the occasional bad practices of the private sector but rarely focuses this same level of outrage on Bad Government. Here’s a great quote from Steven’s piece: “No matter how demonstrably bad the government may be, legislators, and even many regular folks, focus much outrage at the private sector – the only portion of society that works relatively efficiently and humanely.”

I wonder this, too, Steven. It’s a great question.

Yes, there are bad people in the business world and there are bad businesses, too.  Yes, there is no excuse for fraud and abuse and for the bad people who took Enron down. But where’s this same outrage over BAD government? Sure, JetBlue screwed up badly during the recent snow storms and left a bunch of people on airplanes for WAY too many hours. These people were abused for sure.  But JetBlue came right back and offered to make it right with customers and create a customer Bill of Rights. Now consider the abuse we take from the government, day in and day out? Steven asks a great question on this subject,  “When was the last time the government offered to reimburse you for being stuck on one of its highways or in one of its offices?” Can you say “NEVER!”

At least the majority of businesses listen to the customer. We can’t say that about government. But it’s about time the American public started demanding that government start listening to it.

As it stands now, the American public is sliding down the razor blade of life as long as we do not demand better service from our government officials.  There is nothing worse than energizing incompetents and this is what the American public is doing by not complaining more about our incompetent government.  Start complaining and holding government officials to the same standards we profess to hold business executives to.

As Steven states, “Government always seeks to stop, regulate, control, tax and put the kibosh on new ideas and entrepreneurship.” I couldn’t agree more. In business, one has to think to be successful. Not too many government officials know how to think. In our capitalist economy, if you know how to think, the rewards are sensational for those who can make things happen.

It ain’t brain surgery.

Richard


Let me say up front … I am not against anyone coming to America legally and playing by the rules; which should include speaking English. I ran across the following AP story about some proposed changes to immigration law in Australia. To me, this is another clear sign that this immigration issue is not just about Americans becoming paranoid or something. People in civilized nations across the globe are giving this issue attention. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s about time. A civilized society does not operate well without rules and guidelines and laws. The people create laws for a reason. It ain’t brain surgery. And I suggest we Americans start enforcing our laws on the books.

Australian PM Announces Citizenship Test

SYDNEY, Australia —  Migrants who want to become Australian citizens will have to take English exams and prove their knowledge of local history and customs under new guidelines introduced Monday by Prime Minister John Howard.

Would-be citizens and permanent residents will also have to sign a statement saying they understand commonly held Australian values, such as respect for the law, religious and individual freedoms, and the equal rights of men and women.

Howard said the tests are not intended to exclude non-English-speaking migrants.

“It is not designed in any way to keep some people out … but it is designed to ensure that people understand and have a working capacity in the national language, which is English,” he told reporters.

Read the full AP story here.

Write letters to the editors of papers. Write your congress representatives (link at right). Let your opinions on this issue be heard. Don’t be the silent majority. Do something. It ain’t brain surgery to figure out things aren’t working at the moment.

Have an unbelievable day!

Richard


Someone recently sent this to us and based on what we can learn online, it has been around for awhile. There appears to be several versions with slight text modifcations. It says the Author is unknown. If you know who the author is, shoot us an email.  This is a great reminder of why we need to get this country back on track before it is too late.

Today, we mourn the passing of an old friend by the name of Common Sense.

Common Sense lived a long life, but died from heart failure at the brink of the Millennium. No one really knows how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He selflessly devoted his life to service in schools; hospitals, homes, factories and offices, helping folks get jobs done without fanfare and foolishness.

For decades, petty rules, silly laws and frivolous lawsuits held no power over Common Sense. He was credited with cultivating such valued lessons as to know when to come in from rain, the early bird gets the worm and life isn’t always fair.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you earn), reliable parenting strategies (the adults are in charge, not the kids), and it’s okay to come in second.

A veteran of the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, and the Technological Revolution, Common Sense survived cultural and educational trends including feminism, body piercing, whole language and new math.

But his health declined when he became infected with the “if-it-only-helps-one-person-it’s-worth-it” virus. In recent decades, his waning strength proved no match for the ravages of overbearing federal legislation.

He watched in pain as good people became ruled by self-seeking lawyers and enlightened auditors. His health rapidly deteriorated when schools endlessly implemented zero tolerance policies; when reports were heard of six year old boys charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; when a teen was suspended for taking a swig of mouthwash after lunch; when a teacher was fired for reprimanding an unruly student. It declined even further when schools had to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student but couldn’t inform the parent when a female student is pregnant or wants an abortion.

Finally, Common Sense lost his will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became businesses, criminals received better treatment than victims, and federal judges stuck their noses in everything from Boy Scouts to professional sports.

As the end neared, Common Sense drifted in and out of logic but was kept informed of developments, regarding questionable regulations for asbestos, low-flow toilets, smart guns, the nurturing of Prohibition Laws and mandatory air bags.

Finally, when told that the homeowners association restricted exterior furniture only to that which enhanced property values, he breathed his last.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son Reason. His three stepbrothers survive him: Rights, Tolerance and Whiner.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

~ Author Unknown

Pass it along.

Richard & Terry


This post is about one of those instances in your life that happens in about 3 seconds but it takes about 15 minutes for you to tell it. I promise, I won’t take 15 minutes.  This is about my desire to bring back vehicle inspections for all cars. You see, in GA, they did away with car inspections years ago and gave into the tree huggers and now we just do emissions inspections. If we still had car inspections – you know, make sure crap doesn’t fall off of your car – I wouldn’t be writing about this incident.

My wife and I carpool to work. I travel a total of about 15 miles – mostly on I-75 north from my home in west mid-town. Her office is about halfway to my office. About 4 miles into the trip, cruising along at 70 MPH in the far right lane, a pickup truck in the next left lane about 50 feet ahead runs over something with his tire. It shoots out into my lane about 40 feet in front of us.

First thought – a piece of wood, I can survive hitting it. In a flash, a nano-second, I see sparks coming off of this object. Definitely not wood – this is something metal … not a good thing. Nano-seconds later, this metal thing hits my car – I’m thinking it has gone under the carriage and will certainly punch a hole in an oil pan or tear up something vital to the vehicle. Wrong.  It hit the bumper.

Nano-seconds later, this thing has shot out again to about 40 feet  in front of me. My mind is saying, “What the hell is this thing – it’s alive!” It’s in the air again. It bounced off the pavement like a spring. Brain computes … “Damn, it’s a freaking shock absorber.” Headed dead center for my car and at a much higher elevation – like eye level.

Nano-seconds later, I make an evasive move to the emergency lane to try to avoid hitting this flying shock absorber. Too late. Impact. Like someone had shot this thing at us like an arrow. One end of this flying shock absorber nailed the windshield right in my vision. Almost made it all the way through The inner layer of the glass sprayed all over my lap. The impact noise was deafening. Where it ended up I have no clue. But the damage was done.

Thankfully, my wife and I were fine – just a bit shooken up. I’m out $635.07 for a new windshield – I have a $1000 deductible on my old ’94 beemer. By the time I dropped off my wife a couple of miles down the road, we had had time to compose ourselves and catch our breathe. I had a very small crack about where this flying shock absorber hit the windshield, I had planned to have a service do the small repair to keep it from spreading. As we exited the freeway to her office, sitting at a traffic signal, I said, “Well, we don’t have to worry about fixing that crack any longer.” We both had a pretty good laugh.

What ticks me off is that I was almost killed by a damn flying shock absorber. A shock absorber just fell off someone’s car. Just ain’t right. If I’d been killed, at least I know I would have been breathing clean air as I took my last breathe, thanks to the idiots who did away with the inspection process.

Requiring people who get behind the wheel of tons of steel to keep them in good working order ain’t brain surgery. Bring back vehicle inspections.

Have a great weekend.

Richard


Who are the real losers of the mid term elections of 2006?

 

Certainly not the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party. Power brokers in both parties will continue to live the a life of luxury and power spending as many tax dollars as they can possibly appropriate from the American public.  (Substitute the words ROB and steal for appropriate. Against my better judgment, I voted for the Republican Party again this past Tuesday, primarily because I fear the ideology of the Democratic Party.  Upon close investigation however, the ideology is not all that different between the two parties.  Under Dubya, government has expanded faster than it did under the boogie man Bill Clinton. How did that happen?

 

Citizens who vote for a more conservative government usually vote for the Republican Party. Citizens who want to control illegal immigration, cut taxes, reduce government spending and increase national defense usually vote for a conservative candidate.  Republicans have filled this bill since 1994 and have failed in every area with the exception of National defense.  No wonder we will now suffer through at least two years of increased socialism.  Who will wield enough power to block the likes of Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton and the elitist in Hollywood from keeping their hands out of our pockets and our personal lives?  NO ONE, thanks to the idiots in charge of the Republican Party. Frankly we are screwed and we have no one to blame but the party who just lost national confidence. 

 

I sincerely hope and pray that my gut instincts are incorrect and that the Democrats have learned from the Republicans.  We will know in a very short period of time.  I suspect by the end of 2006 we will know the direction of political policy in the United States for the next two years.  My suspicions are no more tax cuts, increased social programs, increased gasoline prices, increased unemployment by mid 2006, immediate reduction in troop strength in the Middle East, increased pressure for Illegal amnesty and more liberal judges on the bench. 

 

Those of you speculating on making money through the process of buying and selling real estate better get ready.  There is already a movement to tax the amount of appreciation on a real estate sale to be taxed as income.  The capital gains tax should be enough but with some homes having appreciated at fantastic rates during the past 5 years there is a possible treasure trove of pent up tax revenue.  Consider that when buying a piece of property and consider what will happen to the market if this comes to fruition.  Should this sound like Chicken Little screaming about the sky falling, I strongly suggest you do some serious research.

 

Who are the real losers?  You and I my friend!  The individuals going to work every day and depending upon our elected officials to keep our best interests in mind, but guess what, NO ONE IS KEEPING OUR INTEREST IN MIND.  The pundits may be correct when they say we have already lived through the best times our country will ever experience. 

 

Where is the Bull Moose Party when we need it?


As I’ve mentioned before, I live in Atlanta, GA, a one-paper town. I know, cry me a river. But really, a one-paper town these days doesn’t mean what it used to – you know, with the Internet and all. I can pretty damn much read any paper I want to over the Internet. Besides, this post ain’t about a one-paper town. It’s about whiners.

A letter writer in today’s edition of the AJC was responding to a guest editorial about voting – how hard it is, how incovenient it is, blahblahblahblah. Here’s what he (I guess it is a he) said – no names, to protect the ignorant (you read that right).

Ease unfair burden of time constraints

Why can’t the United States place enough value on elections to designate one day each year – or if we need to be parsimonious, one day every two years – as Election Day and mandate the shutdown of everything but emergency services, and shortened shifts for those?

Today’s working class, with fixed hours and inflexible schedules, is severely burdened by time constraints on Election Day, not to mention the machinations involving disparate placement of voting machines. Is a timeout for Election Day asking too much?

Now I don’t know this person but I can tell you he/she is a whiner. Notice the “key” words used in the letter … “severely burdened”, “time constraints”, “working class”, “fixed hours”,  and “inflexible schedules” because we all know “THE MAN” is in charge and it is all FIXED! And he/she uses BIG words like “machionations” and “parsimonious” …. ooooooooooh, I’m impressed. You think this person leans left or right?

Is a timeout for Election Day asking too much? Give me a break!!!!! This person would have the greatest nation on Earth shut down to vote. Damn people. I voted a week and a half ago. I never left my house. It cost me a little time to order the absentee ballot and two stamps – $.78 for gosh sake. How much easier can it get people?

This letter writer would have us shut down the entire U.S. ecomony so it is more convenient and easy for them to vote. How much easier can we make it people? Go online, download the absentee ballot request form, get it, fill it out, and mail it in. Or … go vote early … as you can do in GA and many other states. Or, do as Oregon does and have everyone do a mailed in ballot.  This ain’t brain surgery!

Folks, seriously …. this ain’t brain surgery. Voting ain’t hard. It ain’t unfair. If you want to vote, you’ll figure out a way. Vote, you get to complain about the outcome. Don’t vote, don’t complain. But shutdown the U.S. economy for a day so whiners can be accomodated? Give me a freaking break. Catch the clue bus. Use technology. Let your fingers do the walking. But for goodness sake, stop your damn complaining!

Have a great day … and by the way, don’t forget to vote!

Richard

PS – it will be raining in Atlanta on Tuesday, Election Day – I guess we better figure out how to get umbrellas to a few 100K people 😉


Perhaps I am becoming a bit more cynical in my adult years but for the life of me I cannot understand why the American public insists on re-electing the same individuals year after year. One prime example is Massachusetts. I know Edward (Teddy) Kennedy has the legacy factor working for him but my goodness the man can no longer create logical sentences. He crowns himself as looking out for the rights of the poor and underprivileged through the use of taxpayer money. Remember it is always easier to spend OPM (other peoples money) on social programs. The Kennedy’s have enough money to fund most of the welfare programs in Massachusetts without using Federal dollars.

The upcoming election could result in a lot of changes among the Beltway Barons. Should the reigning party loose a majority in the house we may see an awakening not witnessed since Rip Van Winkle. Perhaps those currently in office will see the error of their ways and realize that rule 13 is not for sissies. (Rule 13 was popularized by Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, simply stated it says “When put in charge, take charge.”) Those currently in charge have wimped out on their constituents. (Think illegal immigration.)

Our elected officials now spend a majority of their waking hours strategizing how they will be re-elected. The game has changed from being public servants to one of leeching off the public. My fear is for future generations of American citizens who may end up paying exorbitant tax rates just to fuel the never ending needs of big government. Regardless of the great job George Bush and company are doing fighting the war on terror the fact remains that government expenditures and personnel have increased at rates far greater than under the great spender … Bill Clinton.

The time is right to shake up our majority and make them work for our votes. Our fear should not be the mid-term election of 2006 but rather the Presidential election of 2008. Change may be painful but sometimes it is good.

Expert gardeners all know that we need to trim our plants on a regular basis if they are to grow properly and in the correct shape.

It ain’t Brain Surgery!

Terry


I have to admit. I stole the title of this post from an ABC World News segment. This week, they are doing segments on health care and what can be done to fix it. This one last night got my goat. It just amazes me how these supposedly intelligent “leaders” can’t do anything right it seems any more. Discussions on reforming health care have been going on now for years and years. Lawmakers and politicians and burueacrats want to make out like there is no easy solution. Truth of the matter is … it ain’t brain surgery to fix the health system.

As you’ll read in the article linked above, the answer has been right in front of their Pinocchio noses all along. Representatives and Senators are part of roughly 8 million federal employees and their families, from postal workers to the president, who are covered by insurance that is flexible, affordable and transportable from government job to government job.  The plan is so good that it oughta be offered to ALL Americans. Why is it not?

Among its advantages is the competition it creates between providers, which results in lower costs. The federal plan is made up of more than 280 health plans available to federal workers across the country.  In New York alone, a federal employee can choose from among 18 plans

Advocates said that competition keeps costs low: While the price of private insurance premiums is expected to rise 7.7 percent this year, the federal plan will go up just 1.8 percent.   Okay … stop right here and ponder the previous statement a minute. 7.7 percent rise versus 1.8 percent rise. This ain’t a brain surgery decision.

“It can show you what choice can do, what choice actually means, what intense competition and cost control can result in,” said Robert Moffit of the Heritage Foundation policy institute.

Hmmmmm …. choice to keep costs down. What a novel idea. Sounds like good old, pure American capitalism and market demand to me. 8 million of your fellow Americans get this choice because they work for the federal government. You don’t. Your congressman (or woman) gets this kind of coverage but you don’t. Don’t seem quite right does it?

Folks, this ain’t brain surgery. Write your representatives today and tell them you want the same health care choices they have.

Have a great day!

Richard & Terry