21st Century

Piñatas


Ed. note: Please help – see the note below and pass this along so that we make the kind of difference that needs to be made. America thanks you.

Reading time – 41 seconds  .  .  .

There they stand, the hopeful – hopeless? – wielders of sticks, lurching and whacking at the piñatas of political issues, wishing that their mighty blows will crack open and let drop at their feet an action figure costume. They believe that costume will grant them unlimited power and control and that the Oval Office will magically be theirs.

Say hello to today’s pretenders to the throne in 2016. And pay special attention to their ultra-crafty remaking of themselves, frequently in perfect contradiction (“to say against”) of other intentionally misleading, ultra-crafty things they’ve said to some different audience. Perhaps they believe that recording devices have not yet been invented. More likely, though, they believe we are too ignorant, lazy or stupid to notice. But notice we will, as the fact checkers have their way and the action figure costumes fall apart, revealing the disingenuous self-promoter beneath who doesn’t want to serve, but only to denigrate, bully and line others’ pockets with cash at your expense.

The whacking at piñatas would be humorous and entertaining, were it not for the destruction it causes.

The key as you endure the inane political rhetoric of this hyper-extended (make that “never-ending”) election season is that nearly all of the blather is about the self-serving candidates, never about you nor about America except in some childish idealistic or apocalyptically frightening way. Our job is to find one who speaks to our circumstances and to the betterment of America. If you and I fail in this we will be kicking The Dream to the gutter for a sackful of nothing and relegating America to suffer a self-deluded figurehead and all the abandonment of the American people that implies.

Get up and get active.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Every Life is Precious


Reading time – 71 seconds  .  .  .

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal  .  .  .” My life is precious and if we’re all created equal, then all lives are precious. It’s a simple syllogism and we all believe it. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Really?The Nation Tweet

The city of New York officially observed several minutes of silence starting at 2:07PM on December 23, 2014 for Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, cops assassinated in Brooklyn, NY by a mentally ill man with a gun. They also dimmed the lights of Christmas trees in New York for five minutes starting at 9:00PM that night, this, too, in honor of those slain officers. Oddly, the city did not similarly honor Eric Garner, who was choked to death by a gang of New York City cops and whom the New York City paramedics didn’t so much as touch, much less try to resuscitate. Perhaps we have a sliding scale of preciousness.

Back in the days when Chevy Chase did the Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live!, one bit went roughly like this:

“This just in: A Japan Airlines 747 crashed on takeoff from Tokyo International Airport, killing all 379 passengers and crew. But it’s okay, because there were no Americans on board.”

It’s always a relief when it isn’t us, as when we find that the fire trucks are parked at someone else’s house or that the tsunami struck half-way around the world. While we care about the suffering of the relatives of the 747 crash victims and the people living where the fire trucks are parked and the survivors of the tsunami, the farther away from us geographically and relationally, the less invested we human critters tend to be – the less precious those lives seem to be to us. That’s why those television commercials imploring us to donate money to help malnourished, pathology stricken children are so graphic and have that wailing music playing in the background. It’s what it takes to get through to us.

So, to be accurate, we don’t care to the same extent about every life until we can at least relate in a personal way or imagine ourselves in similar circumstances. For any of us to be moved to action we have to feel it – the preciousness of life – maybe our own – and that presents us with a challenge that we must overcome if America is to solve its problems.

So many young people today are disinterested in current affairs and tune in only to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for their news, and then really only for the humor. A tiny fraction of them vote, even as many of our elected officials act for self-aggrandizement instead of for the benefit of those same disinterested young people. Their preciousness seems to be less important to elected officials than it should be and that puts our next generation at risk.

We’re not going to change human nature, so young people today who are disinterested in current affairs are going to stay that way unless something precious to them is at risk, like themselves. Likely it’s opaque to them how today’s affairs dramatically and sometimes diabolically limit their future lives. But they will run this place in just a few short years, so it falls to us to figure out how to get through to them so that they feel it enough to take action.

We must do that because every life is precious, including the lives of people who will inherit what we leave to them and who don’t yet feel the peril that’s right around the corner.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

An Open Letter To . . .


Reading time – 32 seconds  .  .  .

.  .  .  our lip-flapping, self-serving senators and representatives

Caution: Contains snark. Sensitive readers should man up.

___________________________________________________

Let me say with all due respect and appropriate decorum that:

– Pretending that continuing to refuse to have relations with Cuba enhances American security is idiotic.

– Treating Cuba differently than we treat any other repressive regime has completely failed to influence Cuba to change any of its policies and hoping otherwise is folly. Get over it.

– Refusing to have diplomatic relations with any country (i.e. refusing to be in dialogue) ensures that nothing good will happen.

– Limiting Cuban cigar imports to what is smuggled into America and believing that will pummel the Castros into submission is brainless.

– Treating Cuba as though it is still a Soviet satellite state suggests you’ve had complete amnesia for the past 25 years.

– Continuing a policy that has so obviously and consistently failed will not cause things to get better. (Note to legislators: Slapping your forehead and exclaiming “Duh!” right now is appropriate.)

– Having a hissy fit over at last having a dialogue with Raul Castro is grandstanding, self-serving politics that abdicates your responsibilities to the American people.

Special note for Sen. Marco Rubio (R. – Moon): Your pretty face doesn’t imply any mental ability or even common sense. Grow up. Learn something before it’s too late.

End of open letter.

Action Alert to readers: When you hear anyone in Congress telling you that the sky is falling now that President Obama has had the courage to do what generations of presidents before him should have done, change the channel, turn the page or click the “Off” button immediately. Then pass this message along to those you love and respect as an act of compassion, because nobody should have to listen to that drivel.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Mojo


Reading time – 51 seconds  .  .  .

This week President Obama declared an executive action that redirects our immigration people so that about 40% of our undocumented residents need no longer fear deportation. Families get to stay together. American children will no longer have to fear that they will come home from school to find that mom and dad are gone forever. Some of these people might even stop being exploited by nefarious employers.

The President telegraphed the importance of this issue starting when he was a state senator in Illinois. For years he has been telling Republicans in Congress that they must take action on immigration reform or that he will. He’s stated that promise repeatedly for over 500 days, ever since the Senate passed an immigration bill and sent it to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Obstruction) for consideration in the House. Boehner is still sitting on that bill, refusing to bring it to the floor of the House for a vote. And can you believe that guy – the President? He went and did what he said he would do. He signed an executive order reforming the parts of our broken immigration system on which he has the authority to take action.

And the Republicans had a brain inversion for 24 hours, claiming his action did everything from grant amnesty to criminals to infecting everyone in America with both Ebola and Benghazi fever. (That’s a Republican-crafted disease invented by Darryl Issa (R-Meanie) which causes complete issue amnesia, such that everything has to be investigated forever.) And within 24 hours the Republicans shut up, because President Obama has the high ground on immigration and the Republicans look like jerks. They set themselves up in the clown suit suspended over the tank of water and the President obliged them by pitching a perfect strike into the triggering mechanism.

This is what leadership looks like. It is about taking a stand on the right side of the tough issues. It is about doing what can be done and setting aside whining because things are hard or can’t be made to be perfect.

This is President Obama’s last rodeo. He’s off the bucking bronco in just over two years. Do you want to see him go out in a blaze of legacy-creating, lasting glory? Encourage him to continue to lead boldly. Let him know that you respect him most when he answers the call of his own mojo. That is what you hired him to do.

For more on the frequency of presidential executive orders, have a look at this chart. Hint: No president has issued fewer executive orders than President Obama since Grover Cleveland in the late 1800s.

For a discussion on whether President Obama’s executive order on immigration is legal, read this short article.

Thanks to SDA for the references.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

It’s All About Us


Reading time – 17 seconds  .  .  .

I was recently facilitating workshops at a leadership conference -The Trust Summit – and it was and is all about leadership and trust.

I worked with an advanced group of leaders to explore self-trust, relationship trust and organizational trust and I’m confident that it all begins and is driven by the individual. As Steven Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, puts it, “If you think the problem is out there, that very thought is the problem.”

This conference was conducted by the LGL Leadership team in conjunction with the National Council on Culture & Leadership and it’s as clear as can be that without trust there is no leadership and people hunker down into self-preservation mode and we’re all worse off. Combine that with the findings of the Pew and Gallup organizations that have found that 81 of 100 Americans don’t trust our government and it is easy to understand why we as a nation are mired in paralysis.

We have to trust ourselves and care enough to make change for the better.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

You Know This, But Still . . .


Reading time -41 seconds  .  .  .

Thomas Jefferson told us that,

An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight.”

That means that we must educate the next generation so they can do their job. It means that we must stay informed about what is going on so we can do our job. It means that it is our job to “exercise oversight,” to monitor and enforce accountability. Now is the right time to do that. Of course, “now” is always the right time for accountability, but my reference here is about this week.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014  is election day. If you have not already voted, show up on Tuesday. Polls are open roughly 6:00AM – 7:00PM in most states. It is time to hold accountable those who have or would represent us and govern us. And because our politics is so broken, because big money influence is so pervasive and corrosive, our job right now is to elect those who would reform our crazy system. Many have already committed to reform.

Vote for the reformers. Here’s a link to find some.

If no candidate in a race where you vote has already declared that s/he is committed to reform, vote for the person most likely to be a reformer.

Vote for the reformers.

Nothing ls likely to get appreciably better until we get election reform. Your part is to send off to Washington and your state capitol the folks who will make that happen. Then hold them accountable.

Did I mention something about voting on Tuesday? Here’s a caution: DO NOT go to the polls alone. Bring your neighbor who needs a ride or who hasn’t been actively interested. Pick up your crazy brother-in-law on the way. Make sure your significant other does the same thing.

A while back you either took a civics class or citizenship was taught in another class. You had to pass a Constitution test in order to graduate, so I know that you know that it is both your right and your duty to vote. Do it this Tuesday.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Mass Resignation


Reading time – 57 seconds  .  .  . 

Three more high school children are dead and three more are in critical condition because a handgun was easy to obtain and was the preferred method of dispute resolution for yet another hurt/angry American.

In the first year following the murders of 20 little kids and 7 teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, over 12,000* Americans were killed by guns.  There have been 87 school shootings since then. That number does not include things like random drive by shootings on the south side of Chicago. It solely considers kids bringing heat to school and shooting fellow students. Kids making dead kids – lots of dead kids – and hoards of emotionally scarred souls dealing with that horror as a lifelong legacy.

Of course, there are also crimes of passion, as spouses settle their grievances with whatever might be handy, like the Glock in the closet. Youngsters play with daddy’s toy and one puts a bullet through the head of his brother. And so many distraught people end their pain fast, all because guns are easy to get, even by people who should never have a firearm.

Had enough of the madness? According to Mark Glaze of CNN, “74% of NRA members and 87% of non-NRA gun owners believe all gun buyers should get a criminal background check.” Glaze wrote further, “A CBS/New York Times poll released on January 17 found 93% of those living in households with gun owners and 85% in households with NRA members support background checks.” Both NRA members and other American gun owners have seen enough dead kids and have had enough of the madness.

So, how come the NRA opposes universal background checks? It’s because the organization doesn’t represent gun owners. The NRA is the lobbying arm of the gun manufacturers. Those folks don’t want universal background checks because that might mean that they would sell slightly fewer guns. That’s more important to them than the lives of our kids.

So, when there was to be a vote in Congress for universal background checks, the NRA spent millions of its dollars threatening and cajoling legislators desperate for campaign cash, demanding them to reject universal background checks. The result is that the big money gun manufacturers got what they wanted, but you didn’t.

Getting the big money out of our politics is the real solution to that, but it’s going to take a while for you and I to bring that about. For now, the best thing is for NRA members to renounce their membership en masse.

Are you an NRA member? Quit the organization that has never represented you. Turn your back on the organization that turns its back on your kids. Stop giving your money to people who don’t care that six more kids just got shot, two of them are dead and that one of them could have been your 14 year old daughter.

Now, pass this blog along to the gun owners you know.

* This is a rough number based on gun deaths reported by media. The generally accepted total is over 30,000 Americans dead from guns per year. Every year.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

I Just Want You To Know . . .


Reading time – 57 seconds  .  .  . 

The Forbes 400 was recently posted and we are told that the 400 richest people in America are worth about $2.29 trillion. That is more than the bottom 150 million Americans combined, or about half of all Americans. And that $2.29 trillion is up 13 5% over last year. Your wealth increased 13.5% over the last 12 months, too, right? Let’s look at this another way.

The television and radio ads that end with a candidate saying, “I’m [CANDIDATE NAME] and I approved this message,” are paid for by the candidate. If you don’t hear those words – and that accounts for the vast majority of the ads that are pumped into your head – the ad was funded by outside money through PACs, Super PACs and 501(c)4 organizations.

These outside money message manipulators have already spent over $390 million in this election cycle to twist your brain and, more important, twist the brains of low information voters. What that means is that people who aren’t tuned into politics and are just going about their lives are hearing misleading, false, disingenuous, just-this-side-of-outright-fraudulent messages and they don’t know it, so they get manipulated. They aren’t aware that they are voting against their own best interests. What you know is that they are voting against your interests and against your vision of what America should be.

About those outside money groups – 94% of the money they spend to twist voters’ brains comes from just 200 fabulously wealthy people and corporations. Now, why would these rich people contribute all that money?

Because doing so means that they keep on getting richer. They get what they want, but you don’t get what you want. You don’t get gun safety legislation, a climate bill so we stop hard boiling our planet, legislation that would create good paying jobs, healthcare reform, student loan reform and issues all the way down to pothole repair.

If that isn’t okay with you, you better do something about it. You better vote on November 4 for people who will legislate for reform. You better bring your disengaged neighbor and your crazy brother-in-law to the polls with you. You better volunteer at a call center to remind voters to show up and vote.

The big money people have a really big megaphone and they know how to use it. That means that we small money people have to band together and collectively overpower the big megaphone people to make your American dream possible for you and your kids. Watch this.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Crazy


Reading time – 67 seconds  .  .  . 

I’m nearly through Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs and have a noggin full of takeaways. Jobs was a mercurial fellow, obsessive about detail and adamant in his views to the point that compromise was virtually impossible for him. A more than substantial driver of that was his ability to envision a different world. “Think Different” was, in fact, the Apple slogan after Jobs returned to run the company in 1997. That, of course, is what Apple did and what it encouraged others to do. Think Different.

That didn’t and it doesn’t mean to think differently. It means to think and see that things can be different, that there are possibilities just awaiting your invention, your particular genius. it means that things don’t have to be as they are and that it is possible to create something that is not just evolutionarily better, but revolutionarily better. That kind of thing doesn’t happen if we are apathetic or give just enough of ourselves to get by. It requires our passion, our mindfulness and, more than anything, our belief that Different is possible.

Jobs recorded his own eulogy and it was from a promotional piece in 1997. As you read it, imagine that this might apply to you.

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. They  push the human race forward.

“While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

I’m crazy enough to believe that I can change the world. One blog at a time. One presentation of Money, Politics & Democracy: You Aren’t Getting What You Want at a time. One conversation at a time. One vote at a time. One meeting at a time. One idea at a time. One spark at a time. One declaration that, “We won’t have it any more!” at a time. One look into my grand-children’s future at a time.

Are you that crazy? Are you nutty enough to believe and to see that things can be better, that we don’t have to “respect the status quo,” that we can shake the stuffing out of it and unmask it for the fraud that it is and make the quantum leap to the Different that is so much better and is just waiting for us?

The place to start is to believe.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

Backlash Quiz


Reading time – 127 seconds  .  .  .

Mohammed Mosaddegh was the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran. In 1953 he was deposed in a coup d’état orchestrated by British MI6 and the American CIA, along with foreign oil firms. They established Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi as the absolute ruler of Iran. That was a handy thing for the Brits and the Americans, as it ensured an uninterrupted supply of cheap Iranian oil. On the other hand, the Iranian people did not like that very much.

The Shah turned out to be a brutal dictator. Not surprisingly, his people did not care for that either, and in 1979 he was shoved out of the country as part of the Iranian Revolution. To express their displeasure with America for forcing this monster on them, the Iranian Guard took 52 people from the American embassy and held them hostage for 444 days. Today the Iranians are making atomic bombs. Funny how pissing people off has a way of producing backlash.

The west and most notably the United States has maintained an enormous footprint in the Middle-East for over one hundred years. For example, we have provided the assurance of control of Saudi Arabia by the House of Saud. That has kept American oil interests firmly established and has ensured – guess what? – an uninterrupted supply of cheap Saudi oil, often to the detriment of the local population. Come to think of it, Osama bin Laden was a Saudi. Hmmm. Funny how pissing people off has a way of producing backlash.

In addition, over those decades the cultural imprint of the U.S. has been both enormous and anathema to the locals. Again not surprisingly, the locals haven’t liked that and that, in part, led to al Qaeda. Those people want their section of the world to themselves and have devised a strategy to get it back. Here is a part of their strategy:

  1. Provoke the United States and the West into invading a Muslim country by staging a massive attack or string of attacks on US soil that results in massive civilian casualties.
  2. Incite local resistance to occupying forces.
  3. Expand the conflict to neighboring countries, and engage the US and its allies in a long war of attrition.
  4. Convert al-Qaeda into an ideology and set of operating principles that can be loosely franchised in other countries without requiring direct command and control, and via these franchises incite attacks against the US and countries allied with the US until they withdraw from the conflict, as happened with the 2004 Madrid train bombings, but which did not have the same effect with the July 7, 2005 London bombings.
  5. The US economy will finally collapse by the year 2020 under the strain of multiple engagements in numerous places, making the worldwide economic system which is dependent on the U.S. also collapse leading to global political instability, which in turn leads to a global jihad led by al-Qaeda and a Wahhabi Caliphate will then be installed across the world following the collapse of the U.S. and the rest of the Western world countries.

Funny how pissing people off has a way of producing backlash.

Which brings us to ISIS/ISIL. They are barbaric. They rape, torture and kill indiscriminately. They have beheaded two Americans and a Brit and we want revenge, our pound of flesh. While that may be a normal human reaction, think about the consequences of killing more Muslims. Those still living would not like that and, well, it’s funny how pissing people off has a way of producing backlash.

This post touches on just a few examples of predictable retribution for our long history in the Middle-East and of course there are more. The point is that when we do things that produce impoverishment, suffering and death for others, those remaining want to hit back, just like we want to hit back at ISIS/ISIL right now. If we do that, if we allow ourselves to be sucked into that rope-a-dope, we will be playing right into the strategy outlined by al Qaeda and ensuring the next atrocity that will be visited upon Americans.

If you always do what you’ve always done,

you’ll always get what you always got.

I understand muscular chest-thumping and I appreciate the desire for simple solutions to complex problems. But, really, we’ve seen this movie and we know how it never ends.

Pop Quiz

  1. Are we dumb enough to set ourselves up like that again?
  2. Exactly who will benefit if we stay at war in the Middle-East? Hint: Follow the money.
  3. Bonus question: The Soviet Union collapsed in large measure because they had to keep up with U.S. militarily expenditures and at the same time they bogged themselves down in a long term war in Afghanistan. In the process, they spent themselves into economic collapse. Is there anything in that for us to learn? If so, what is it?

You get 10 points for each correct answer and a perfect score gets you entered to win an all expense paid trip to the next Ground Zero.

Insert your answers below.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue. Please help by offering your comments, as well as by passing this along and encouraging others to subscribe and do the same.  Thanks.  JA


Copyright 2018 by Jack Altschuler
Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

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