Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Webster’s definition is:
An exclusive trading privilege; the sole right or power of selling something; or full command over the sale of it; ---the possession or assumption of anything to the exclusion of others; ---
I started this letter with the dictionary definition to put my comments in the context of its content. It is my opinion that a true democratic society must have safeguards to protect the citizens from some monolithic entity with sole power over some segment of services whether it is banking, energy, transportation, utilities or other. Our government used to protect us but now it seems nothing is too big for them to be concerned. For example the current financial crisis which has created three super banks; Citigroup, Bank of America Corp. and J.P. Morgan Chase &Co. Wachovia and Washington Mutual Inc. were themselves huge entities who both had been absorbing others until they purchased one poison pill too many and self destructed in the process.
The first order of business for the next Administration and Congress should be to start breaking up these monopolies into smaller and smaller segments at the same time assuring protection from takeover by foreign entities. It will do no good to downsize if the result is a takeover by an overseas entity. The last thing we should allow is foreign ownership of major business any more than has already occurred. As this process unfolds then protections must be installed to keep these companies honest. Excessive CEO pay and benefits should not be accepted as legitimate business expenses which reduce their tax liability. If the Boards want to grant excessive compensation, then so be it, but let them pay the taxes due. Regulations should be established and the agency enforcing them should be adequately funded and not interfered with by politics.
I can envision a final grouping of three or less energy companies controlling everything in the energy field. Make no mistake when alternative sources really start to make a difference they will be ready to buy in and profit from them as they have for decades now with oil.
If the American people don’t wake up and demand change, and by that I am not parroting Obama’s campaign slogan, I mean real change. If we go back to sleep, the status quo will remain in effect. Only the people can change things for the better. The millions who called or wrote killed the bailout bill. Nothing else did it, only the rage of the people. The same thing happened with the Amnesty Bill last year. It also was sailing through until the people spoke. We do have the power. We can come together and put pressure on them whether we are Democrats, Republicans, Independents or other political persuasion. What I am asking for transcends your political persuasion. Give it a try. Be part of the solution. Don’t just sit at home crying, “Woe is me”.

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
September 30, 2008

White Knight to the Rescue

With great dramatic flare our esteemed Senator flew into Washington to save the nation, disregarding his campaign. This is the one who would rather lose a campaign than lose a war. This bailout was on a par with Iraq.He must have taken Arizona Representatives for granted as they voted as a bloc to defeat the legislation. Republicans and Democrats alike turned it down, perhaps for different reasons, but vote it down they did. They heard from their constituents. I guess John is to busy to listen. In the interest of fairness Barak doesn't get it either.
Jack B. Walters

3961 N. Hillwood Circle

Tucson, AZ 85750

(520) 722-2958

September 30, 2008


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Words to live by

Trying to make sense out of the current meltdown of our financial system is very difficult for those of us not directly involved. There are many theories and enough blame to share, which is enough for me to put that aside in my attempt to state what to date, I at least have not read or seen on a news report. I am referring to who is getting bailed out and the forgotten who are off on the sidelines wondering if in fact we were stupid or not savvy enough to get on the gravy train or just plain gullible.
Let’s start with who will be blessed by the bailout and other legislation hurriedly being enacted as Congress prepares to resume campaigning.
1- American auto makers; Ford and G.M. They get 25 billion to retool. These companies did all they could to delay the inevitable. They built and pushed the least fuel efficient vehicles they could. G.M built electric cars a decade ago then pulled them back and crushed them to remove all traces that they ever existed. Both companies build fuel efficient cars in Europe. If they can do it there, why not here? Lastly is this not unfair to companies like Honda and Toyota who have spent billions on factories in America and as of now are the leaders in fuel efficiency?
2- The CEO’s, their Corporate staffs and Board of Directors who are so highly paid and in my opinion realized that the government would have to bail them out. They get to keep all of their ill-gotten gains and for the most part will remain except for those who chose to take their marbles and go play somewhere else.
3- Those people who will claim to be duped but none the less should have realized that the homes and goodies being acquired could not possibly be kept without retaining a safety net to cover adverse circumstances. Interest only mortgages, credit cards maxed out. They acted totally irresponsible and in my view should just suffer the consequences and start over. No, no. They will stand in line and be saved.
Now let’s get to the purpose of this letter. I want to talk about those who will not receive handouts except in a peripheral way, meaning that perhaps their assets will not be harmed anymore than they already have. These people in their naivete' have tried to live their lives using religious principles such as;
Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
Neither a lender nor a borrower be.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
Don’t covet your neighbor’s possessions.
Live frugally within your means.
Don’t be a financial burden to your parents or your children.
As parents, sacrifice as necessary to provide for the children in your household.
Support the charities and your house of worship as best you can.
Prepare yourself and your family in such a way as to be protected in case of emergency including health issues.
Have sufficient life insurance to cover the loss of the breadwinner’s wages while your children are still of need.
These are the people who live in abodes that are within their financial capacity. They maintain a zero credit card balance. Should for any reason this not be possible, then they cut back on unnecessary expenditures until they can once again pay off their debts. They may go to Goodwill or other used clothing stores rather than shop the mall.
They don’t succumb to the need to have everything their neighbor has.
They don’t gamble or buy lottery tickets excessively trying to strike it rich. They don’t play with the stock market. They instead look for stable investments which can provide gain with the least amount of risk.
These are the forgotten Americans who have lived by a moral code. All that they will receive is the self satisfaction that comes when you live responsibly.

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
September 28, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A History Lesson

As the politicians and media gurus debate ways to salvage our financial system, I believe it might be of some interest to show how it all came about. In the interest of brevity, I will of necessity not elaborate too deeply into each item but rather give this the broad brush treatment. I will leave it to you to fill in the voids.
Let us start during the depression. This followed closely on the heels of the flapper years where everyone had fun. Prosperity was here for all. Let the good times roll. The problem was that everyone thought they were betting on a sure thing. They bought stocks with high leverage, similar to today, with the idea that someone else would pay for bad guesses. It didn’t work out that way. When the market started down, there was nothing to stop it and everyone lost, even those not in the market, as credit dried up banks defaulted with ordinary people losing their life savings. The government policy under President Hoover was to just sit back and wait, assuming it would correct itself. It didn’t and couldn’t because there was nothing to stop the downward cycle. Desperate times for our citizens.
The people overwhelmingly turned to F.D.R. and the recovery began. He was ready on day one and sent a flurry of bills to the majority Democratic Congress. In my book review of his life I enumerated many of them. I will not repeat except to state that his philosophy was to try something, anything, to kick start the recovery. Most programs worked, but some didn’t. These he discarded. His overriding thought was that as people received a boost that they not be idle as they received it. He did not want a welfare state just a temporary fix until order could be restored. All of his programs were resisted fiercely by big business but he rejected their advice. Many of his programs clamped tight control on the big money men to keep them from taking control and repeating the cycle.
As the “New Deal” was winding down, along came WWII. This created a boost to industry that provided full employment. As the men became soldiers the women filled in admirably doing work that previously had been considered for men only.
After the war President Roosevelt in his continuing wisdom created the GI Bill of Rights which was made available to all veterans. There were loose guidelines. They could go to college, a trade school, take flying lessons or whatever. In my case tuition and books were paid for. I was also given
$75/ month in living expenses. When I graduated I had a minimal debt to pay. While this was going on, the need to find immediate employment for the millions of veterans was reduced, and an orderly restart ensued. For the next 16 years during the Presidencies of Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy prosperity was enjoyed by all. As a government, there were surpluses created all the while great programs of assistance were enacted such as The Marshall Plan which saved Europe from going communist and planning the trip to the moon.
All of this stable progress was under Democratic controlled government. Eisenhower was not a true Republican, as were those that followed later, In fact he was courted by the Democratic Party to be on their ticket. He kept things under control. He was called a do nothing president. Sometimes, in my opinion, just letting the process work is the best course of action. We do, of course have him to thank for the interstate highway system. Also, he kept the military industrial types under control.
Lyndon Johnson the successor to Kennedy, with the Vietnam War and his Great Society Programs took the country deep in debt from which we have never recovered.
The Republican Party has done everything it could over the decades to wipe out all vestiges of New Deal programs, particularly those that kept controls on Corporations. They finally succeeded. The only programs left are federal deposit insurance and Social Security. If they are successful in privatizing Social Security, then this too will be gone for future generations.
In the interest of fairness I need to discuss government under President Carter. How it happened or why has always been a mystery to me. Unions were powerful and they were pushing their agendas. Regardless, this was the beginning of the downward cycle of manufacturing in America. We were treated as enemies of the people and many programs were enacted which made life intolerable for those of us on the line. We could no longer devote our full attention to making quality products at a price acceptable to the consumer. Unnecessary cost burdens were added all the while the resurgence of products from the new Europe were being unloaded on the docks at an ever increasing rate. Then came OPEC and the bottom fell out.
If you have read my political journey you can follow my flip flopping from one party to another. During these times I was as stanch a Republican as anyone could be as I resisted a government seemingly dedicated to destroying manufacturing in America.
This was when Reagan came to power with my full support and vote. He told us government was the problem and we agreed. What we didn’t know was how swiftly he dismantled financial controls starting the trend to bigger and bigger companies with their strong influence on the market. I guess we didn’t care as the Soviet Union was brought down and prosperity was abundant. There used to be programs to keep companies from having monopoly power. The definition, I guess, kept changing, as they have grown exponentially.
All of the administrations to follow both Republican and Democrat kept following this same course in effect allowing markets to operate as they saw fit without oversight. In addition American markets were opened to many other nations, which continued the demise of industry here at home. Legislation was enacted that provided incentive to ship jobs overseas without regard to American workers. Retail giants like Wal-Mart put pressure on industry to relocate in China or other low cost countries.
I want to pause to make a statement. The two decades after WWII were times of unparalled prosperity. I use Firestone as the litmus test. All through those years we expanded on a fast tract basis. This was the reason someone like me could advance as quickly as I did. It seemed to start about the time I joined Firestone in 1954. Prior to then the plants had been monolific, solid unchanging, stable. The plant managers all had grey hair and had 30 or more years of service. Wages and benefits improved steadily. Factory workers owned their homes. Some had fishing boats and lake cabins or travel trailers. Nothing fancy, but satisfactory. A good life for them and a solid future for their children were possible. Farmers still lived on their land and worked their acreage. Those who were not of the white race were pulled along with high paying jobs becoming available. Under union contracts there was equal pay for equal work. They were still discriminated against and so were denied other of life’s pleasures. That didn’t start to change until passage of civil rights legislation in the 60’s.
Without unions’ health insurance, life insurance, pensions, good wages and vacation time would never have been possible. Even as a plant manager much of the benefits I received were built on the success of union bargaining. The problem of union demands starting in the mid 70’s was that they could not or would not accept the reality that our cozy little club had been upset by boatloads of tires being shipped from Europe and Japan and sold in retail stores all across America. By the time they did it was too late. OPEC had already devastated the tire industry worldwide forcing all manufacturers to cut and cut deep. Chaos resulted. In the end American tire manufacturing was reduced by over 50%.
I find myself digressing. The point I want to make is that before the 70’s life was good for working people on or off the farm. We were living in nice homes. We as men earned enough to allow mothers to stay at home providing solid support for our children. We were entering a phase that should have kept improving our life style with every passing decade. It didn’t continue. Wages and salaries stagnated. Women were forced into the workforce not because they wanted to but because their income was required to maintain the life style we had come to enjoy. For decades now income for average Americans has stagnated. Consumer debt has been relied upon to fill the void that even working mothers could no longer fill. In desperation lottery tickets and gambling of other kinds were tried to provide instant relief, to no avail. Money spent this way only aggravated the situation. Gambling with stocks placed in 401K accounts proved disastrous when severe corrections have occurred including the current crisis. If the money is needed at those times then it was just tough luck.
Our government worships at the altar of bigness. Tax policies encourage huge farms driving average farmers off of their land. Deregulation has created huge conglomerates which lose touch with the basic premise of their mission with profit the only measure of success.
Where we go from here is anyone’s guess. I am a pessimist. The money to be made is just more than patriotism can counter. Because of the outrageous request for a trillion dollar payout, the people responsible for creating this mess will still be in control being rescued by taxpayers when justice would have them behind bars after paying full restitution.
F.D.R. would be starting employment programs getting money directly into hands of people willing to work. I guess that is just too simple a concept in today’s mega buck world. The fact that his programs worked is just not clear enough for Congress to understand.
I conclude this letter with the title of Lee Iacocca’s latest book,” Where have all the Leaders gone”.

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
September 23, 2008

A Bridge to Nowhere

On a CNN program last night there was a feature on this subject. Sarah Palin got applause when she stated at the convention that she had said “thanks but no thanks” to the Federal Government request for 25 million dollars to build the bridge. I take her at her word for this; however what she didn’t say is that 28 million of federal dollars had already been spent on a road from the airport to where the bridge would connect. To be fair this had been granted before she took office. The design was complete and bidding awarded to construct. The program showed aerial views and on the ground of the finished highway that she allowed to proceed. There is no traffic on it. There are fewer than 100 people on the island. Most are there to support the airstrip. The city of Ketchikan is on the coast next to mountains. The island I assume was the easiest flat land available. It takes a ten minute ferry boat ride to reach the airport. I have to assume most users are tourists or fisher people who are not on a tight time schedule. Even when the bridge is finished a car ride could not be less than ten minutes.
I visit Alaska at least twice per year. They still allow studs in snow tires which causes severe grooving. There are many gravel roads in this Wilderness State. My point being that a prudent caretaker of the public’s funds could put the 50 million dollars for needed road repair or paving.
I said I will take her at her word. She cannot now ask for federal dollars but with the windfall the State has enjoyed from the spike in oil revenues she will build the bridge with oil revenue.
Do you believe that this person should be given control over billions with this as an example of stewardship?

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
September 22, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Are there any politicians who care

McCain, Obama and Biden continue giving speeches about the economy all over the country. If they really cared wouldn't they be in Washington adding their voices and ideas to resolve the meltdown of our financial institutions. Kind of reminds me of a time long ago when a ruler fiddled while his capitol city was in flames. The Congress people still in Washington are rushing through the deliberations so they can all get out of Dodge City and resume their own campaigning. Why was our political system allowed to deteriorate to this mediocre status where we are given platitudes without substance?

Financial Bailout

The Congress will relieve these financial barons of the burden of bad debt. Of that I am sure.
The only way it should be given is if all the executives in the top tier of management and their Boards of Directors be forced to return to their company all compensation including salary and bonuses received for the past decade, the time in which their outrageous, greedy pursuit of profit occurred. I want their corporate jets, penthouse apartments, golf club memberships, box tickets for professional sports and everything else that I have not mentioned. From what I have read some CEOs have already walked away with twenty or more million dollars. Others are protected with their golden parachutes worth millions more. How can we as a government or as citizens allow these predators to continue their fabulous life styles while the carnage goes on?
I continue to see AIG television adds nightly while this is going on. You would think they would have the decency to hold off while they are crawling on their bellies pleading, save me, save me.
On a previous occasion I wrote an article comparing the depression of 1928 to 2008. I concluded that the chips be allowed to fall and that in the end it would sort itself out and people would be able once again to afford purchasing a home. The costs had reached astronomical levels that any fool should realize could not be sustained. I guess that means that all those involved in my opinion were fools in spite of their huge obscene compensation.
How dare anyone compare this to the Chrysler loan given many years ago? Lee Iacocca paid back every cent borrowed plus interest. All the while the loan was in effect he received one dollar per year in salary. At the end an important segment of production was saved. What will we have with these robber barons; they will gobble up any entity weaker than themselves and create another monster that will have to be saved when it happens again.
Is anyone concerned about the other financial institutions that are not included in this bailout? While they struggle day by day to survive shouldn’t they also be granted relief?
President Clinton was in office when banks, investment and insurance were allowed to merge. This is when it all became so confusing and uncontrollable. The Republican Party as a whole has been crusading for decades now to eliminate all vestiges of FDR’s programs which were enacted to protect the little guys. Even during this crisis, McCain is touting privatizing Social Security, should that happen, this lifeline will disappear, while Wall Street gorges on the goodies placed at their disposal. Company pensions which people like me still live on are no longer available. People are forced into 401K’s. How many billions have they lost this week? How many college funds have been ravaged? People like me dutifully put money aside to aid grandchildren as well as parents who put off things they might like to own or do for the sake of their children’s futures.
What should really concern us is that this trillion dollar bailout is just the tip of the ice burg. Hedge funds that leverage one dollar against one hundred could tank at any time if they bet the wrong way. Bet is the proper term. These money making entities add nothing to the health of our country. They just suck the life blood out of the economy.
I really feel sorry for McCain, Obama and all the other people running for office. They have lofty goals. There will be nothing left to pay for their programs. The next administration will have its hands full trying to keep America solvent. When I think of the trillions in bonds owned by China and OPEC countries I shudder to think if we will not just be taken over as they purchase our assets at bargain basement costs.
Why do we as Americans allow this to happen? Are we so shallow that all we need is a can of beer and a football game to amuse us? My writing efforts have been a dismal effort. They have accomplished nothing of tangible benefit. That will not stop me from trying to make a difference. I am past the age of getting into the arena and taking them on but believe me I would enjoy it if I could.

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
September 20, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Most Noble Adventure- a book review

The Marshall Plan and the Time
When America Helped Save Europe

By Greg Behrman

We are all creatures of our own past. I admit I am continually drawn back to my youth and the momentous happenings that occurred during that time. I found this book at Bookman’s in Phoenix before my annual visit to Lockport, N.Y. to visit family and friends. For my 80th birthday I received gifts of books. They were all worthy of reading. I finally got around to this one. It was like saving the best for last. For those of you born after the war it might interest you if you are a student of history as I am, but unless you were alive it could not be as meaningful to you as it was to me.
In actual fact it filled in voids in my knowledge as the events described mainly occurred while I was serving in the army of occupation of Japan from 1947 to 1949. As a serviceman there were other things to occupy my mind and Europe was light years away from Japan. I witnessed the remarkable rebuilding of Japan. I was not aware of a massive infusion of funds from America. There may have been but other than basic food stuff right after the war it was my impression that it was the Japanese people who got the job done. At any rate little is said about Asia in this book. President Truman and George Marshall believed that if Europe could not be saved as a capitalistic nation that America would be cut off from trade with the continent and our growth stifled as a result. Europe was in ruins. The bombing and ground combat had destroyed most of the infrastructure: roads, bridges, rail roads, airports, utilities and housing. The people were starving and destitute. They were accepting communism as the way out of their misery and countries were on the verge of becoming communist.
Mr. Marshall gave a speech at Harvard University, June 5, 1947. In it after stating the dire condition of Europe, he proposed an aid plan of massive proportions to save it. This was like a shot heard around the world. On April 3, 1948 President Truman put his signature to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1948. He said, “This measure is Americas answer to the free world” and it was, “perhaps the greatest venture in constructive statesmanship that any nation has undertaken”. It was forever referred to as The Marshall Plan in honor of this great man who conceived the idea and did what was needed to persuade the Congress to enact the legislation. It was a hard sell. America was in turmoil itself with millions of returning veterans and industry in a massive restructuring from military to civilian goods.
Most of the book describes the many problems encountered and gives praise to a number of men whose skill and devotion shepherded it through. What made it more difficult was that European leaders were called upon to work together as they had never done before. Marshall and the rest were determined that this not be run by Americans country by country but that Europeans had to do the hard work of building a structure which was within reason as far as our funds were concerned. To accomplish this, each country was forced to accept projects for the good of all, not just their own. The ultimate goal was to create a union of countries like America without trade barriers, with free flow of goods and people. Great progress was made but it was many years later that full unification took place. In 1992 the European Union was finally established. It is generally accepted that it would never have been accomplished had there not been a Marshall Plan.
This was a four year program. During that time over 13 billion dollars in goods and services were given to Europe. The author estimates that in today’s dollars it would be equivalent to 100 billion dollars. It is important to take this into account so that the enormity of this transfer from Americans to Europeans can be appreciated. Never before or since has there been anything to compare with the generosity of our people.
At the beginning Russia and the satellite states under their control were invited to participate. Marshall Stalin would not allow it. It is stated in the book that Russia took from these countries as much as we gave.
Other interesting facts are
The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) was created by the passage of The National Security Act of 1947 to counter communist propaganda.
The Berlin airlift began June 27, 1948, when Stalin closed all land access to Berlin. His goal was to drive us out by starving the 2.4 million Germans living there. He gave in on May 12, 1949 which was the first day trucks began to roll. On the same day the new German Federated Republic was formed. The occupied zones by America, Britain and France were combined into a complete country. Since everyone was wary about Germany rising again as a threat the allies retained veto power should that be necessary. It was never used.
Towards the end of the program on April 4, 1949, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was created for the mutual defense of the European nations. This began to drain funds from the economic program but the threat of Russian intervention was so grave there wasn’t any other choice.
In June, 1950 North Korea invaded the South which by necessity diverted attention from Europe. President Truman directed General Macarthur to send troops to counter. Macarthur was successful but when the Chinese crossed the border our forces retreated and a stalemate ensued. Macarthur was relieved of command after a fundamental disagreement with his boss, President Truman. Macarthur felt we were fighting Europe’s war in Asia but Truman and the European allies did not agree, neither wanted to squander the progress made by getting mired down in Asia. I guess we will never know who was right. I agreed with Macarthur but then my position and 10 cents at the time would buy a cup of coffee.
I want to conclude with President Truman’s inaugural address January 20, 1949. He was so happy with the results of the Marshall Plan that he proposed a new one. He said, “More than half the people of the world are living in conditions approaching misery.” Beset by starvation and disease, “for the first time in history, humanity possesses the knowledge and skill to relieve the suffering of these people.’ He proposed a “bold new program” of investment and technological transfer to provide resources, opportunity and hope to all the world’s peoples. It was called The Point Four Program. It was an inspired speech but unfortunately was never enacted by Congress.
I feel I cannot finish this review without further reflecting on the contribution made for world peace by President Truman. It was recommended that the plan be called the Truman Plan instead of the Marshall Plan. He rejected the thought knowing that with his name attached partisan politics being what it was, that the plan would never be approved. From reading this book I must conclude that he was correct.
Others may disagree but there is no doubt in my mind that his decision to drop atomic bombs brought the war with Japan to an end. The deaths of thousands of our American troops and countless millions of Japanese would have ensued had the invasion been initiated. Having been there after the war I was convinced and other servicemen there agreed on this point.
When you add up all that occurred during his presidency I am amazed at what he accomplished. Very few other presidents have contributed as much. He has never been credited as he should have been. People liked to belittle him since he was not an elitist from Harvard or Yale and did not have lineage tracing back to the beginning of our country.
A friend recently shared little known tidbits of information, which I will add to wrap this up. After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove themselves home to Missouri without Secret Service protection. He had a military pension of $13,507.72 per year. Congress discovered that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them. They granted him an allowance, and a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year. The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence, Missouri. The house was inherited from Bess’s mother.
Corporations offered high paying positions which he rejected, stating, “You don’t want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale.”
On May17, 1971, Congress was prepared to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday. He refused to accept it, writing, “I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any such award, Congressional or otherwise.”
I rest my case.

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
September 17, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

John McCain-Ready to Serve

The United States Senate has voted on issues 180 times so far this year. McCain voted 24 times for a percentage of 13%. Most of those occurred on two dates 2/12 & 3/13. He must have been campaigning nearby and stopped in to chat. Just Google John McCain voting record, it will show every vote he ever cast.
He likes to refer to his military service. If he was still in, his performance would be categorized as AWOL (absence without leave), a court martial offense usually punishable by prison time. I guess the good old boy’s club does not have any rules like this.
I may be wrong but I have believed we were living in critical times requiring vigilance and leadership. I must be wrong or else John would have stayed on the job and exerted his will to resolve.
Our current President has taken more vacation time than any other in history so I guess the pattern is set. I am sure that after winning the election John will take a much deserved rest until sworn in next January.
Doesn’t anyone but me detest the American election process?

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
September 14, 2008

John McCain article

I heard John McCain state that his favorite president was Teddy Roosevelt. Hard to disagree. He was a great president. He loved wilderness and wildlife. Because of him we still enjoy the beauty of the areas he set aside for posterity. McCain has also expressed his concern about global warming even if the current president doesn't. I find it strange that he chose as his running mate a Governor who has sued the EPA to keep that department from taking steps to protect polar bears from extinction. She also has promoted aerial hunting of wolves and offers a bounty of $150 for wolf feet. She does not accept that humans have any responsibility in regard to global warming. Sorry John, you can't have it both ways. You could not have picked someone whose beliefs are more diametrically opposed to Teddy Roosevelt. Just a heartbeat away. What damage could she inflict upon an already fragile environment.
Jack B. Walters

3961 N. Hillwood Circle

Tucson, AZ 85750

(520) 722-2958

September 13, 2008


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Election Primary System Must Be Changed

I am writing this as a follow up article to the first entitled, “There is no other way”, the theme of that one was to remove corporate money from politics. This one deals with the process itself which must be simplified.
We are nearly finished with this season’s election process which began early last year and now has 60 days left, after which the process will start over again. It is like a perpetual motion machine; once you start it spinning it just keeps going, as if it had a life of its own.
A number of political entities jockeyed for position in the primary process realizing that their States voting citizens would be also ran votes while the real decisions were made earlier in the process. Michigan and Florida went against the Democratic Parties edict and moved their primaries forward only to find that their votes when finally recognized had been diminished so that they had no effect on the outcome.
I live in Arizona which is one of the last to vote. By that time the field has been winnowed down to two viable choices whereas when it all started there were eight Democrats and eight Republicans. The Democrats were; Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson, Mike Gravel, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. On the Republican side were, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee and John McCain.
It all starts in Iowa. I lived in Iowa from 1971 to 1993. I was active politically and did attend the Caucasus which chooses the candidates. I never felt good about it. To participate you go to a school or church auditorium and after preliminary instructions, head to an area assigned to a candidate. The total number attending dictates how many votes are needed to get a point count. Once settled in with those you can count on then you roam the place trying to get someone to change their vote and go for your candidate. Once it is concluded then it announced which candidates received points. When these are added together with the other 99 counties then the results are reported. Why I did not respect the system is because it is usually held on what is usually a very cold February evening. This year it was moved forward to January 3rd. Who wants to be away from home for four hours and drive home on slippery streets and then try for a little sleep before heading to work the next day? The percentage of potential voters actually participating is very small, as I recall less than 10%. When I lived there it was a nearly lily white farm state with a large insurance industry, government and little else. No state could be less representative of America than Iowa. The candidates knowing how important it is to win the first state spend inordinate amounts of time traveling the state. Many, including I recall, John McCain visiting all 99 counties. They must grovel for votes by extolling the virtues of ethanol or they are dead meat.
Next comes New Hampshire, another must win state. Again, it is rural and mostly white, not at all representative of America as a whole. This is where it paid off for John McCain. He had lost in Iowa and was counted out but his town hall meeting process garnered affection for him. He won and the process continued, next to South Carolina and on and on until all states votes have been tallied.
My objection to the process is that these first states essentially decide who the finalists will be. A candidate who I might admire will have dropped out before my turn to vote and it angers me that I am not given the same opportunity as the states mentioned above.
How this cane to be, I do not know. I do know that Iowa became the first state in the primary season in 1972. Party officials seem to think that it is cast in stone. If it began in 1972 then it could be changed for the next election. I haven’t tried to research what the schedule was before 1972 but whatever it was it could not be more unfair than the current system. This is certainly a windfall for the state, millions of dollars are spent there and considerable media attention is focused on a state that most people could care less about. The same is true for the others. In fact dragging it out for such an extended length of time causes expenditures of billions before it is concluded.
Other countries have limits on campaigning time. In Canada all Provinces vote at the same time so in effect there is no primary just an election with the highest point count the winner of each district. They are not voting for a President. They vote for their representative. The party with the most votes then selects their leader. To illustrate this point, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that on Sunday, September 7, 2008, he plans to dissolve Parliament and call for early elections in hopes of strengthening his minorities hold on power. Voting will be done on October 14, 2008. Just imagine a voting process lasting five weeks whereas ours is an ongoing process seemingly without end.
If the process started in January of the election year I suppose we could live with it but it doesn’t. I started seriously in 2007. If truth be told it started years before as candidates who lost before sometimes re-appear. This is a boon to all areas of news reporting; particularly television with their talking heads arguing in defense or opposition to candidates. Every word used by a candidate is dissected to search for its true meaning. I can’t begin to imagine the revenues they receive from advertisers as well as the parties and candidates, probably in the billions. It certainly represents full time employment for correspondents traveling with the candidates. The states and communities also receive revenue as people flock to these locations whenever any action is occurring. I, of course believe all of this to be wasted funds which if available could certainly be put to better use. You can’t turn on your set without your program being disrupted by a commercial most of which are negative in nature.
Here is my suggestion to limit the time and increase fairness. Compress the time. Instead of January, let the voting begin in June of election year with all states voting at the same time. Allow the candidates to travel the country visiting all states if they wish to put out their message asking for support. A clear winner may not be produced so let the delegates to the conventions work it out as they used to do and select their candidate during their convention. There are probably many good reasons why this is a bad idea but using it as a starting point for discussion I am asking that dramatic changes be made for the good of us all.

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
September 8, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

There is only one answer

I have been struggling for a number of years now trying to find the answer to return our country to an election process that removes Corporations from contributing to candidates and political parties. I have read many books and articles including the two books written by David Cay Johnston entitled, Perfectly Legal and Free Lunch. I am firmly convinced that only by taking out of the election process the enormous funds required can sanity be restored. Billions are spent each election cycle and while more and more small givers have entered the process, big money is still what greases the wheels of Congress to enact legislation for their benefit. Not only are the politicians of all parties beholden to the rich, the lack of time to address major issues is just not there. The time spent raising money detracts from their ability to study, discuss, read and meet with others to find solutions for the many and sundry items on the agenda. How many times have we heard that massive pieces of legislation are voted on based on the advice of subordinates with the elected officials never reading what they are voting for? This is outrageous.
Congress recessed (8/1/08) for five weeks without agreement on legislation to resolve the energy crisis. Both presidential candidates were not there. Perhaps had they been, consensus might have been reached. Why must everything important to our country, be put on hold waiting for the next election, after which it starts all over again with candidates competing for the next election without staying on the job and finding compromise solutions to our many problems. In my lifetime it was not always like this, FDR in particular stayed in Washington on the job. He didn’t even campaign after his first two terms. He was needed to lead us to victory over the Axis powers. I am not even sure when it started to change. It was probably when television became so important with sets in every household.
There have always been lobbyists. I myself lobbied for my company, usually to prevent State government officials from enacting legislation detrimental to the well being of my factory in Des Moines. Prior to working in Des Moines it never occurred to me that this was something I should be concerned about. My full attention was in the factory. This all started to change, at least for me in the 70’s as government started interfering with the manufacturing process. Year by year new laws and regulations were enacted, all of which detracted from our mission of making quality products the public would purchase. I did actually visit Washington on one occasion with other Iowa manufacturers. We were summarily kicked out of a Senator’s office. I remember him stating that he had no time for us since we didn’t support him in his re-election contest. He was a Democrat and we were all Republicans at the time. During that visit and others to State officials it never occurred to me that money should be handed over. I believed our message was logical and should be accepted on its merits alone. Perhaps that was true before but certainly not today. Those with the most to give have their ear, not the rest of us peons who are just concerned and are only making input because we care. We ask for consideration not for our personal benefit but for the good of all.
I have no illusions that writing this paper will have any influence on those in power. The most I can hope for is that others reading might discuss or share with others and in this way begin the thinking process on ways to resolve. To this end I have searched the internet asking how other countries conduct elections. I will share findings from several for comparison.


I received a very detailed response from Canada. The complete report can be found by using the web and going to;
Canada has a parliamentary system. There are numerous parties. While the Conservative and Liberal parties are the largest, after most elections the party that wins the most districts usually doesn’t have a clear majority, which means that the smaller parties are needed to pass legislation which gives them opportunities to add items from their agenda. The election cycle is 5 years but if a no confidence vote occurs then the government must dissolve. A new election is called usually 36 days after the election committee is ready.
Another aspect I like is that a candidate of the winning party with the most votes is declared the Prime Minister. Whereas in our country the candidates for President has in my opinion deteriorated into a very expensive beauty contest. We vote for a person instead of our own personal conviction.
I will now list pertinent items I gleaned from the report;
Contributions are tightly controlled.
Third party expenses are limited to $3,866/district and a total of $183,300 for all districts. This is in effect between April 1, 2008 & March 31, 2009. These numbers are usually revised upward based on inflation.
The limit for nomination expense is between $14,000 and $21,000 depending on the size of the district with an average of about $16,000.
Personal contribution limits are:
$1,100/year for a political party
$1,100/year for a district association, nominating contestants & party endorsed candidates
$1,100/year for independent candidates
$1,100/year for leadership contestants
I know all of these are confusing. In looking thru the list of donors I noticed that some people gave money to more than one candidate. The amounts are indexed to inflation.
The government encourages contributions and provides a tax credit of a max of $750 for contributions over $1,275.01, again indexed to inflation.
Candidates cannot receive gifts except from relatives or as a nominal expression of courtesy or protocol. This statement looked like a loophole to me. I tried for clarification but none was forthcoming.
As of 6/12/2007 all gifts over $500 must be reported while a candidate. Parties cannot transfer funds to candidates.
During the 39th election, which was the most recent, the expense limits for political parties ranged from $68,158 endorsing one candidate to $18,278,279 for all 308 districts. Limits for candidates ranged from $62,210 to $106,290, again based on the size of the district.
I found it interesting that the process has evolved over the life of the country I assume to keep it within reasonable control.

Of the following countries I will be reporting on, they are democracies with executive, legislative and judicial branches. In the interest of brevity I will only write about their election process. To check on other countries, you just google the name of the country and ask about their government. This will lead you to various web sites to find what you need.


When I started on this country I was excited. They have enjoyed being as close to a pure democracy as any country. The citizens with a petition drive can challenge a law passed by the parliament and overturn it or have it modified. They are governed by a seven member executive council called The Swiss Federal Council. The leadership changes each year selected from the council membership. The members are selected based upon the largest percentage of votes received by a major party. It had included two each from the Free Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Christian Democratic People’s Party plus one member from the Swiss People’s Party. In the 2003 election the People’s Party took one seat away from the Christian Democratic Party which normally would be OK except for the fact that there are no restrictions on financing elections and Peoples raised $17 million while the second largest raised $1.7 million. I realize that $17 million is chump change in America, but once it starts where will it end. There is consideration to control but as of now this is the way it is, which means to me that they are deteriorating. following our example with the party with the most income to invest increasing their control as they persuade the electoric to vote as the money dictates. I certainly hope this will be curtailed.


I was disappointed to learn that Corporations and Unions are allowed to contribute large sums to candidates and parties. In 2004-2005, the Labor Party raised $64.8 million from the corporate sector, while the Liberal Party contributed over $66 million. While again this pales to the huge amounts contributed in America, it is a disturbing trend. Hopefully they will adopt Canada’s policy which prohibits corporations and unions from giving funds.

New Zealand

In this country there is an Electoral Commission which allocates funds and time for broadcast election advertising. In 2006 they made an allocation of $3.2 million which parties can use for radio or television advertising, along with 72 minutes for opening addresses and 30 minutes for closing addresses. This was the same as the previous year.
Parties cannot use their own funds although candidates are allowed $20,000. Further, broadcast advertising can only be used five weeks before Election Day.
Wow, can you imagine what a blessing this would be instead of the constant year round haranguing we put up with in America.


There is little reason for me to keep checking other countries. What I have gleaned above is that there are problems everywhere with corporate type gifts. Most of the countries listed control it to various degrees. Canada and New Zealand have the best systems as far as I am concerned. The others appear to be heading in the wrong direction. The one saving grace for them is the quickness of the election process.
America cannot continue spending billions each year with the debilitating effect it has on the efficiency of elected officials. Perhaps in a small way this effort of mine may prompt discussion leading to legislation to curb this obscene process and restore sanity. The campaign finance legislation pushed and passed through the effort of Senator McCain did not accomplish the objective. Another effort must be initiated, hopefully by the next Congress, whoever is in control. I will not be holding my breath as they will not considered it critical as I do.

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
September 5, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Thousand Splendid Suns- a book review

A Thousand Splendid Suns
By; Khaled Hosseini

I purchased this book because on the cover it stated that it was a novel by the author of “The Kite Runner”. That was a very powerful book describing life in Afghanistan the past 40 years. This new book parallels the same time period only from a different perspective. This was every bit as powerful as the other. I have also read, “Three Cups of Tea”, which takes place in Pakistan. This is a true story whereas the others are fiction. I am willing to grant Mr. Hosseini that what he writes describing life during those decades reflects what actually happened.
Life in this country was relatively peaceful until the communists came to power followed by the invasion by Russia. A Muslim country but strict enforcement of Sharia law was not enforced. Some women wore burkas but not all. Some men had beards but not all. Some men had one wife, others had more than one. Men were the authority figures but cruelty was not rampant. Over one million Afghans were killed during the war. When the Soviets withdrew, factions vied for supremacy. This is when barbarous treatment of Afghans began. They had been united against the Soviets but not now. In September, 1996 the Taliban became the ruling party. That is when darkness descended on the land. Their strict interpretation of Muslim law was harshly administered. Page 248 lists the rules all were to obey. Pray five times per day, singing and dancing prohibited, men to have beards, girls forbidden from attending schools, women forbidden from working outside of their homes and to be attended at all times by a male family member, etc.
By 2002 the Taliban had been defeated by the coalition forces and some semblance of normalcy descended upon the land.
The book chronicles the story of two women and their lives during these years. Sometimes they enjoyed happiness but mostly sorrow. It is not a nice story. For me they were just the vehicle required to put people into these years so the reader could sense what it would have been like.
I do recommend reading particularly by people like me who try to make sense out of the world we live in today.

Jack B. Walters
3961 N. Hillwood Circle
Tucson, AZ 85750
(520) 722-2958
September 2, 2008