Santa Claus wears four stars

When I enlisted, it wasn’t for the money. Every month, the $540 odd bucks that hit my bank account weren’t near what I made selling stereo equipment- but, I also didn’t have to pay for food, housing or my daily fashion. I also had a comprehensive health care plan, and a great personal trainer that made me do a lot of push-ups, sit-ups and run 2 miles before most of you rolled out of the sack. Pay is slightly better now, many years later- but we still have young soldiers on food stamps to try to support their families.

If you think about it- the military is a socialist organization. The systems were fair, utilitarian, and the rules were clear. Do this- get a promotion. Screw up- get a demotion. It worked better than most civilian businesses I’ve been in.

In all my time in the service, Generals were people you saw drive by in a car with a flag on it, or on a parade ground. A Bird Colonel was as close to God as you wanted to get (I was in the Army- and when I first walked on base at WPAFB- at the BX- I thought I’d taken a wrong turn and ended up at the planetarium- there were stars everywhere).

I’d actually been pretty good friends with a Marine Corps Major when I was in high school, helping him coach pee-wee hockey. He came from money (his last name was the same as one of the big banks that’s too big to fail) but never seemed overly well off. He worked hard as the head of recruiting- and was driven to serve his country. He was the real deal- having done tours in ‘Nam- that left him unable to go through a metal detector without setting it off.

I move in different circles now, and have friends that hang out with Generals (not around here) and know how much they make. One four-star who used to be on TV a lot, is now pulling in several million a year, in addition to his pension. Something never sat quite right with me with this knowledge.

So now, we find out courtesy of USA Today, via the Dayton Daily News- that Generals have been working both sides of contracts right after retirement, to the tunes of millions:

The Pentagon and Congress are looking into whether retired senior military officers have a conflict of interest when they serve as paid advisers, or “mentors,” to the Defense Department at the same time they are being paid tens of thousands of dollars to help defense companies try to win military contracts. The investigations follow a series of reports by USA Today on the topic.

USA Today reported that it identified 158 mentors across the military services, including former Air Force Gen. Gregory Martin, a retired commander of the Air Force Materiel Command. Martin now is chairman of the Colorado-based Durango Group LLC, which provides paid “mentor” advisers for the Defense Department program that allows retired senior officers to participate with active-duty officers in war games exercises and share expertise.

via Former high-ranking military official limits his consulting work.

Sure is nice work if you can get it, but, when I think about how far removed these brass asses are away from the dirty work that’s being done by the grunts and jarheads who have their actual asses on the line, it makes my blood boil.

Greg and I talk about these double dipping criminals in today’s Dayton Grassroots Daily Show, but, I think we went pretty easy on them.

And while I don’t agree with bankers getting million-dollar bonuses after having to be bailed out, I think that if you “support our troops” and think that this chicanery should be stopped tomorrow, you should be sent to the front lines in Afghanistan on a GI’s E-3 pay and see how you like it.

There is a difference between serving one’s country, and serving your own interest- and I expect better from those who wear the uniform and especially those who have the stars.

Quality, Certifications and Guilds- and why medical care costs so much

How can an Army Spec-4 do a vasectomy on a solider, without 8 years of college and a medical degree, yet 3 stitches will set you back $1,400?

Is it that we’re demanding over qualification? And who makes the decision on when it’s ok to do whatever? Before we had unions, we had craft and trade guilds that required competence- now we have unions that just require membership.

America used to be known for making quality. Since WWII we seem to have lost that reputation to the very countries we beat. Germany and Japan both have a better reputation for quality.

An old post on this site recently started picking up comments again- the one on the cost of three stitches at Miami Valley Hospital. Greg had also sent me this post about the decline of the American economy that was interesting:

Decision makers focus on the only metric they care about—the cost and how to reduce it, not the only one they understand.

Ideally, companies exist to provide products and services to people. If the products and services are good, the companies prosper; if they aren’t, the companies fail. That’s risky, so American companies inverted this model. They fed the public the notion, which has rarely been questioned, that a company’s responsibility is solely the financial welfare of its stockholders. Products and services are no longer the goal of business; they are merely means to profit. That reducing quality leads to greater profits quickly became evident.

via The Long Decline of the American Economy.

We try to pull these things together in today’s Vlog edition of the Dayton Grassroots Daily Show v.36


Day old Dayton Daily News

In today’s Dayton Grassroots Daily Show,  we look back at yesterday’s Dayton Daily News. Greg Hunter and David Esrati discuss the hoopla surrounding the shifting of our economic foundations from private corporations to, well- the no-tax-base non-profits as we’re seeing with UD taking over NCR world HQ.

Should we be overjoyed at the news that the building will be occupied, even if it won’t directly contribute near the economic impact for the community? Why can’t Dayton land new large employers? Could it be that we’ve lost track of how to do the basic services that make things work on their own without government intervention? After all, one could think that the money that UD is using to buy NCR is coming from the Federal research contract they just won.

And when it comes to major corporations, including the ones that engineered this financial meltdown- is their any responsibility of corporate boards? This New York Times article about corporate board accountability will make you wonder about Greg’s “Screw up, Move up” mantra.

Should we be looking to create a local “stock exchange” where it’s possible for local companies to raise funds from local investors? Not with tax dollars,  like  Ohio “Third Frontier program”- but a real local stock exchange ?

And if you think you are getting answers from us- you’re dreaming. We just like asking the questions.

We believe Dayton should have just as much right to bring companies like NCR here.We’ve got nothing to be ashamed of as a region, other than our insufferable “newspaper” and our plethora of impotent politicians ruling over their mini-fiefdoms.

What do you think?

Investing in youth sports?

We’ve seen the last twenty years of failure by local governments investments in private corporations. We’ve also seen a rise in gangs, drop out rates, crime.

Why? Because the City of Dayton stopped investing in the youth- and youth sports programs. We’ve cut our parks and rec’s program to bare bones. Look at Kettering- a BMX track, Delco park with it’s multitude of soccer fields- the Rob Dyrdek designed skate park. Dayton has amulti-million dollar fountain that misfires.

Greg Hunter and David Esrati talk about youth sports in todays Dayton Grassroots Daily Show v34

Let’s start investing in people- not corporations if we want to move Dayton forward again. Strong neighborhoods, strong youth programs, strong place to do business.

When fear is a good thing

Today’s Dayton Grassroots Daily Show goes where no one really wants to go. How many billions does it take to stop a terrorist? The only answer is zero- because that’s the nature of terrorism: it only works because it’s unexpected. The ultimate surprise attack.

The latest actions by a Nigerian Muslim on a plane from Amsterdam, are just one more justification for a country gone mad. While our neighbors get foreclosed on, our jobs go overseas, our civil liberties are diminished and our armies are engaged half-way around the world- the tail continues to wag the dog.

And it’s nothing new. President Eisenhower warned us in his farewell speech in 1961 of the dangers of the military industrial complex.

With this latest “attack” justifying the drastic changes we’ve made, it’s time to listen to the last General who became president:

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Greg Hunter and David Esrati in today’s Grassroots Dayton Daily Show talk about terrorism, and try to remind all of you- that it’s your job to be “alert and knowledgeable” and that we hope, by watching us- it inspires you to think twice about your duties as an American.


Avatar, Pantheism and vlogging

Merry Christmas.

For something entirely different (but you are still stuck with me and Greg)- we went to see Avatar in 3d. Amazing visually.

Of course, the movie wraps up a sugarcoated version of religion and politics as a subtext- which gives us something to talk about.
They even have a vlogger in the movie….
You can also read this article by Ross Douthat of the NYT to further add to your confusion:

“Avatar” is Cameron’s long apologia for pantheism — a faith that equates God with nature, and calls humanity into religious communion with the natural world.

via Ross Douthat: Hollywood’s religion of choice found in ‘Avatar’.

A lot of people will see this movie over the holidays, how many will draw parallels to our world here is the question.

Science fiction was always a place to make political commentary under the guise of fiction. Is Avatar just a movie, or a political statement?


I miss radio ads that sell stuff

I realize fewer of us listen to broadcast radio these days, but I still have one in the shower- and my 1995 car isn’t easily iPod adaptable- so I find myself tuning in while showering and driving.

And, even though I don’t drink- I miss beer ads. And, even though I won’t be buying a car- I miss car ads. In fact, I miss ads that sell stuff.

If our economy is supposed to be bouncing back, you wouldn’t be able to tell by listening to one local station. Day in, day out, the ads are to sell your gold, buy foreclosed homes, credit repair or if I’m lucky- how to save more money at Kroger.

It’s depressing. Not just from the standpoint of being in advertising- and watching the demise of an art form (writing great radio spots is much harder than TV or print- trust me), but the idea that our collective psyche is being beaten down with these ads that almost announce the end of the American Dream.

So, here’s to you, Real American Heroes,  Mr. Creative Radio Ad Writer, never has one man, been missed so much….

and if you miss those ads too- you can listen to a whole bunch of them here:

Now we’ll all know how to tell when the recession is really over: When John Stafford wants to sell you a diamond again, instead of buying your gold, and when banks advertise loans, instead of ads to sell homes that banks don’t want.

That’s my wish for Christmas.

Set-asides, preferences, HUBzones and 8a

My business is Ohio EDGE certified, HUBzone certified and an SDVOB. For all that, it’s not done much to help acquire government business. Most of you have no idea what any of that means- and it’s just as well. Not only does doing business with the government require a whole new set of skills and the learning of a new language: govspeak. What takes 4-6 pages to do business in the real world, becomes a 150-page proposal when dealing with the government.

So when the City decides to start creating its own set of preferences for awarding contracts, we get one more set of hoops to jump through and another language to learn:

Key features of the revised Procurement Enhancement Program include:

* Sets annual goals for awarding construction projects — 17 percent for minority businesses, 5 percent for female businesses and 20 percent for small businesses — and all other city contracts out for bid.

* Establishes a local preference for hiring businesses in the city first and county second.

* Helps local minority, female and small businesses get certified for inclusion in the program, provides them with technical assistance and conducts outreach to improve their chances in the city’s bidding process.

* Requires a good-faith effort from major contractors to partner with local minority and female businesses before bidding on contracts.

* Tracks the effectiveness of the program by reviewing the monthly data on spending with minority, female and small businesses.

via City wants more participation from female, minority businesses.

Of course, Greg and I have something to say about all this-so you have a short post and a video to comment on.


Clueless in Columbus

Two opinions in today’s Dayton Daily News about the state of affairs in our fair State.

The editorial board, bless their hearts, decided to question the actions of our local Republican senate members including Jon Husted who has managed to escape their wrath for so long.

On the opposite page we had Governor Ted Strickland complaining that banks aren’t lending to small businesses. Of course, why should banks have any incentive to lend to small business at a paltry 5-7% when they can score big with credit cards by charging 29% to those who can least afford it?

Greg and I get into a somewhat heated discussion over the disconnect between the legislators we elect, and the people they “represent” in today’s Dayton Grassroots Daily Show v.30