will of the people

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.

Our Greatest Hockey Game

IMG_2344Reading time – 59 seconds  .  .  .

The story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team is well known, both because of the 2004 movie Miracle and because if you were alive on February 22, 1980 you remember what happened, where you were and who was with you. It was one of those defining moments, like Pearl Harbor, the space shuttle Challenger disaster and 9/11. This, though, wasn’t a tragedy. And it wasn’t about a hockey game.

Coming into the Olympics the Soviet team had won 27 of its last 28 games. They had beaten the U.S. Olympic hockey team in an exhibition game just 3 days before the Olympics began by the bone crushing score of 10 – 3. They were simply the best.

And then the Olympics began in Lake Placid, NY and a bunch of American kids beat the greatest hockey team the world had ever seen. The pandemonium, euphoria and tears went on and on and even now those who remember find tears in their eyes and a lump in their throats just remembering.

That most unlikely of sporting event outcomes happened at a time that was particularly dark for Americans. Fifty-two of our countrymen were being held hostage in Iran. The Soviets had invaded Afghanistan and we were powerless to do anything about it. And we were doing an automotive conga line into gas stations to purchase 5 gallons when we could get it at all. We were a dispirited people.

And so it is today. We are feeling dispirited, distrusting and we are doubting ourselves. Our mistakes are gnawing at us and self-serving cynics with big egos and even bigger mouths are firing poison darts into our hearts every day. So many of us have simply dropped out in order to stop the pain and are hunkered down, now just going through the motions to sustain ourselves. How in the world will we get this train wreck back on track?

Wayne Coffey in his book The Boys of Winter offers his clarity about what those days in February, 1980 were really about. He writes,

“You watched them play and you were struck by the power of a simple, single thought: Hey, we really can still do it. In a time of malaise, they brought spunk and spirit.”

“It was to believe again in the nation’s capacity for greatness.”

”  .  .  .  you  came away feeling that greatness wasn’t a realm strictly for the superhuman, remote and unattainable, but rather something much closer, real and reachable, something within every one of us.”

Herb Brooks, the head coach of that team, has died and the team members have gone on with their lives, so they won’t come to rescue us from our funk. But, truly, we don’t need an Olympic hockey game because our ”  .  .  . capacity for greatness  .  .  .  is real and reachable, something within every one of us.”

The dream – the miracle – is alive if you say it is. Our greatest hockey game is still ahead of us.

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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.

The Heavy Lifting

Reading time – 53 seconds  .  .  . 

There are grayed-out Boomers working in organizations and sitting on committees focused on creating reform in America. Truly, some never lost their ’60s idealism. But what is happening now is nothing like what happened when we protested for an end to the war in Viet Nam, for civil rights and for voting rights. Today, so many Boomers are just dealing with the demands of ordinary life. They are now focused on a questionable financial stability into what used to be called retirement years but now is quite different than what was promised and is laced with uncertainty.

There are some X-ers involved in creating reform, too, but not too many, as most are, like so many Boomers, hunkered down and just dealing with the demands of ordinary life. For them it’s the house, the kids, jobs (that’s plural because of today’s need for dual incomes), the vet bill and their eye-crossing debt in the midst of – guess what? – uncertainly.

So, who is going to power the reform that we so desperately need?

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s Millenials!

Yes, it’s Millenials. Strange beings from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man. Okay, enough of the Superman introduction.

I wrote last week of the amazing journey of the folks at NewEraColorado.org and their quest to wrench sky clogging, climate crashing fossil fuels from the clutches of Big Energy and start Colorado down the path of citizen control of power generation. When they win their fight, they will have shown the rest of us the path to breaking the stranglehold of oligarchy in America. These are Millenials showing the rest of us the way forward. Wake up to the reality that it is their future and they are motivated to make it what they want it to be.

“I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA
May 7, 1960 (est.)

Our Millenials are doing most of the heavy lifting, but chances are that you want pretty much the same future. So pitch in – with your actions. Find a way to contribute. I know you heard the call:

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

JFK, January 20, 1961

He was right then and he’s still right today.

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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.

The Playground

Reading time – 47 seconds  .  .  . 

Boy, was I wrong.

I grew up the same way everyone did. I was a kid. Adults were bigger. They were in charge. They knew stuff. They were really good at making a serious face. Parenthetically, as I write these words, I now wonder why I ever wanted to become like them.

In any event, they were the models. Be like this. Don’t be like that. This is how adults behave and it is a bunch different from the way children behave. Grow up.

So I did. We all did.

Except for one thing. As Al Capp, creator of the L’il Abner comics, frequently wrote in his offerings, “It is immediately obvious to the most casual observer,” that adults aren’t so different from children.

When I was 10 years old I was a part-time tough guy on the playground. When I wanted to get my way and persuasion wouldn’t work, I’d just muscle my way to it, so I understand self-centered bullying behavior that discounts the wants and needs of others. Adults would never do that, right? I mean, they’re grown ups and they’ve gotten over childish behavior, having learned that it isn’t just all about them, that they have to live with others and – dare I say it? – compromise. They get that, right?

Actually, no, not right. George W. Bush repeatedly told us, metaphorically speaking, that he would hold his breath until he turned blue unless he got his way. Unless they get their way John Boehner, Ted Cruz and others are all about shutting down the government once again, spitting in the face of 313,000,000 Americans.

Recently, we were treated to an audio recording of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. This five-term legislator, serving as a leader in the world’s most august deliberative body, spoke to a bunch of really rich guys on Fathers Day. He promised that if he didn’t get his way he would attach a rider to every bill to prevent any expenditure of money and thus paralyze government.

Clearly, some people didn’t grow up; they just grew older and they continue to behave like 10-year-old bullies on the playground. Tragically for so many of us, lots of them work in Washington, DC.

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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.

What We Need

Granny DReading time – 126 seconds  .  .  .

Doris Haddock is not a well known name, but you might know her as Granny D. She saw clearly the corrupting influence of big money in our politics and on our country and determined to do something about it. To draw attention to this issue she set out on a 3,200 mile walk across America, from California all the way to Washington DC. When she began this brave journey on January 1, 1999 she was 88 years old. When she completed it on February 29, 2000 she was 90.

Granny D saw something that ever-more Americans are seeing, that our democracy is in grave danger due to the dishonesty and inequality inherent in our present election system. Whatever issue is of greatest importance to you, be it global warming, gun safety, human rights, international trade, voting rights, immigration, fracking or any of the vexing challenges before this nation, big money in our politics is the mother of the dysfunction that prevents solutions from being implemented and allows things to steadily get worse.

We have massive unemployment and, every bit as bad, massive under-employment. We have brilliant people who cannot find a job. Perhaps that is an issue that you don’t deeply feel just now, but when your knees go bad, you will wish that some truly gifted person had been working in a lab and had found a way to re-grow the cartilage in your joints. When you contract cancer, as so many of us will, you will wish that one of our people with a head full of amazing potential had been able to get the education that might have led to a cure. When your adult children are living in your basement, burdened by overwhelming school debt and without a chance for a job, you will wish that our politicians did more than tell us that it’s all about jobs, jobs, jobs. You’ll wish they had done something about it.

Both Pew Research and the Gallup Organization have done polling on how we Americans feel about our government. The staggering truth is that 81 of every 100 Americans does not trust our government. In recent years one of the biggest trust killers has been the growing economic disparity between the rich and all the rest of us and that is aggravated largely by money-driven political actions and inaction.

Elections are insanely expensive, largely due to the cost of television and radio advertising. The 2012 presidential contest alone cost $2.1 billion. The senate contest in Massachusetts between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown cost $77 million and the current senatorial contest in Kentucky looks like it will cost over $100 million. About 75% of that money will come from outside the state, meaning that the decision on the next senator from Kentucky will be driven largely by very rich people who don’t even live in Kentucky but who want to ensure a senate that does their bidding.

Don’t imagine that all politicians are dishonest because that simply is not true. On the other hand, it is impossible to raise enough money to mount a serious campaign in most federal elections if money is raised solely through small contributions from local citizens. That leaves candidates having to solicit large contributions from big donors. Another way to say that is that the system requires that anyone who wants to serve must put themselves in a position of becoming beholden to rich benefactors. And that is the problem.

In a study done by Larry Bartels of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, it was found that only wealthy constituents gain the ear of their elected officials. Nobody is listening to the rest of us, so rich people get what they want and everyone else goes wanting.

A study done by Gilens and Page found exactly the same thing about policy making. And these studies have proven with research what every American has known for decades. The problem is that the situation continues to become worse and is bringing us to an America that almost none of us wants.

People in power rarely give up their power unless they have no alternative – that’s just human nature. They have engineered a system that keeps people afraid of speaking up for fear of losing what little they have managed to secure for themselves. But while part-time work at minimum wage and with no benefits can be tolerated for a while, there will come a time when the patience of the American people will run out, when people simply won’t have it any longer. We the people will let the politicians know that if they want to serve, they must serve us.

If 81% of us don’t trust our government, that is not a partisan issue. If 90% of us believe that there is way too much money sloshing around our political system, that is not a partisan issue. If for many years nearly all the economic gains have gone to the richest 1% of Americans, that is not a partisan issue. We really are all on the same side of this.

It is time to wake up. It is time to stop ridiculing the Occupy Wall Street crowd just because they don’t have a formal hierarchy and a central organization. It is time to stop ridiculing Tea Party people just because some of them are flamboyant. The words may sound different, but the demands of those two very different groups are remarkably similar regarding money in politics. It is time to unite as Americans, left, center and right.

Granny D was correct: When we solve the big money problem, we’ll be ready to solve all the rest. And that is what 99% of Americans want.

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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.

Changes

Reading time – 46 seconds  .  .  .

I was sitting in a comfortable chair on my patio surrounded by garden flowers and trees on a quiet Saturday morning reading David McCullough’s Truman and sipping my thick, rich, dark roast coffee. Then neighbors diagonally across the back yard turned on their music and the quiet was interrupted by some ’80s rock and roll I couldn’t identify.

Which made me think about Boomers.

We taught the world to wear jeans. No, young ones, before the ’60s jeans weren’t “fashion” or even acceptable attire except for cowboys and workers in manufacturing shops. And pretty much nobody ate pizza before then, certainly not as a food of choice on Saturday night. And the Boomers made rock and roll an enduring painting on the cave wall of man’s existence. Indeed, the music of the ’50s ’60s and ’70s is still being played and Beatles albums are still hot sellers, even though the band broke up at the end of 1970.

Boomers changed the world politically, as well. Young people in the ’60s and ’70s made the American establishment end the war in Viet Nam. They made them lower the voting age to 18 through a Constitutional amendment and made them end the military draft, too.

Enduring changes all, considered on a quiet summer morning, sipping coffee on my patio.

Now, somebody has to explain to me how some from the very same generation of rock and roll, jeans and Saturday night pizza are bizarrely devoted to further enriching the rich, impoverishing everyone else and paralyzing our nation.

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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.

When You Ain’t Got Nothin’

VIDEO NEWS FLASH!

Mike Papantonio is the host of Ring Of Fire Radio, along with Bobby Kennedy and Sam Seder.  He was the main speaker at a recent event and I was honored to be asked to do a short presentation to set the tone for the day and to introduce Mike. You can watch that program here.

And Mike’s wonderful presentation is online. He is a master and I urge you to have a look – watch it here.

Now, on to this week’s post.

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Reading time – 66 seconds  .  .  .

Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone hit the charts in 1965 and quickly became a classic. One line in the song is,

“When you ain’t got nothin’ you got nothin’ to lose.”

And, of course, that’s true. If you’re at the bottom, there is no downside risk to nearly anything. Now let’s flip that around.

People who have amassed lots of wealth and who have before them the opportunity for even greater wealth have everything at risk. Or, paraphrasing Dylan’s words, when you have everything, you have everything to lose. It’s human nature to want to protect what we have, so the more one has at risk, the more fiercely one will resist change and fight to protect all that one has accumulated.

And now you know why the 1% maintains a stranglehold on the status quo. Now you know why America’s vexing challenges never get met, why you don’t get what you want and why prospects for your children and grandchildren look so bleak.

All that fierce status quo protecting is going to require a great force in order to change it. Yet if things are to get better, if our problems are to be solved and if the future is to be the way you envision it for your children and grandchildren, the status quo will have to change. But what do you think we can do about it?

Hint: Anthropologist Margaret Mead gave us the answer:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

You just might be one of those thoughtful, committed citizens who will change the world. In fact, here is something you can do TODAY.

CRITICAL HEADS-UP: Tonight at 7:30PM EDT there is an important online screening and discussion (yes, you can watch in your jammies) of the 30-minute movie LEAKED: The Internet Must Go. If you want tLeakedo find out what net neutrality means, if you think the internet should not be a tool solely for the benefit of the wealthy, sign up, show up and tweet up tonight.

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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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