MasterPo says: This blog is about topics and issues that are of importance to me. I am not one of the countless blogging lemmings that are tripping over each other scurrying down the hill and off the cliff of blogging oblivion trying to write the greatest blog on the latest topic de'jour. Your comments are welcome.

January 31, 2012

I Walk These Streets Alone.

As many long time readers of the Po File have observed, the articles are becoming further between.

MasterPo has promised never to let this blog become just another blog site regurgitating the same lines and talking points de jour. But the handicap of that stance is sometimes the muse fails you. Yes, there is clearly a LOT of material MasterPo could write about but it is being covered well on other sites (MasterPo’s influence seems to be growing).

Along with family and personal commitments time to research and write articles is becoming more difficult to find too.

With this in mind, MasterPo will be taking an undefined sabbatical from the Po File for the time being.

Thank you to all faithful readers and friends throughout the years.

Be good.
Be safe.
God bless us all.

January 7, 2012

How The “Smart Phone” Has Changed The Work Place (And Not For The Better!)

You would be hard pressed these days to find someone who doesn’t have a “smart phone” – Iphone, Android, Blackberry, etc. We sure have come a long way from the Brick or bag phone!

MasterPo mainly texts and makes a few calls. MasterPo doesn’t have the need to surf the web from anywhere. MasterPo doesn’t Twitter and rarely is on Facebook these days (too much a time sink). And MP3’s never held much interest for MasterPo.

As it is, Mrs. MasterPo says MasterPo spends faaaaaaar too much time on the computer at home! (And she’s probably right.) So why take it on the road?

Last year MasterPo reluctantly started using a smart phone too. And new world opened up!
MasterPo still doesn’t Twitter or Facebook. But now MasterPo can check stock prices and market news any time of the day. MasterPo can do a variety of online banking and other financial transactions from the phone. Youtube videos are available at any time. And nearly any genre is available on internet radio any time – even during work.

That got MasterPo thinking.

While it’s a good thing MasterPo can do much of his banking and other important transactions from his phone as oppose from the work PC, which is monitored and tracked by MasterPo’s employer, it occurs to MasterPo: How many tens of thousands of man hours a week is likely lost by employees surfing the web in private (more or less) from their phones during work hours?!

Not just during lunch or coffee break but just sitting at your desk and surfing away. MasterPo knows of no study looking at this phenomena but it’s only logical to conclude smart phones are costing a lot of lost productivity at the office.

MasterPo isn’t suggesting any work place policy changes. There are safety and privacy issues involved too. As long as it’s your own phone, what does the employer have to say about how you use it?!

But as MasterPo writes this article, while listening to internet radio and has live stock quotes streaming in, one has to wonder how many others coast to coast are doing the same thing?

No good deed goes unpunished.

November 22, 2011

A Happy Holday Season to All!

MasterPo is calling it an early holiday season.

Thank you to all MasterPo's readers and friends.

MasterPo will be back early next year for more cutting edge commentary and insights.

Untill then,

Have a happy and safe holiday season!

November 16, 2011

The “Right” To An Education??

It seems every day we in America, and the entire Western world, are discovering all these amazing new “rights” we have. Food, housing, clothing, a job at a “living wage”, health care, and of course an education. It is to the latter this is addressed.

Sounds lovely on the surface. Everyone has the right to be educated. And indeed you can’t have a successful democracy and/or a thriving economy without an educated population. But the Devil is in the details as he usually is.

To what level an “education” is the right?

High School?
Trade or vocational school?
2-year college?
4-year college?
Graduate school?
Post-graduate school?

If you have the “right” to an education does that include the “right” to attend whatever school you want?

So if we say that the right to an education includes through a 4-year college does that mean everyone has the right to attend Harvard or Yale or Princeton or MIT?

What about admission requirements like grades and SAT scores? (as much as those are bogus indicators) If you don’t make the scores the school wants has the school violated your rights?
Does the school have any say in who attends? Or is that now discrimination?

After World War 2 the U.S. military GI Bill paid a very generous schooling allowance: Veterans received 1 year of full tuition for every 6 months of military service they completed. In terms of a college program that meant the government would pay for a 4-year degree course after 2 years of military service. Not too shabby! The veteran had to apply to the school and get in. No guarantees there. But if they did the government picked up the bill.

Will similar be the same now if education is a “right”?

Moving on…

Once you’re into a school, can you ever be dismissed? In other words, what if you fail the courses and school wants to expel you from the program – is that now violating your rights?

Not every student will be a Calculus master or a Shakespearean writer. If someone doesn’t learn the subject material, at least enough to squeak by passing, who’s at fault? The school? The teacher? “Society”? (as usual) Was the student’s rights violated?

Or what if you just don’t show up to many class? Don’t do the home work and term projects and now fail the class? They didn’t educate you as evidenced by not passing the class so have your “rights” been violated? Why not?

And does your “right” to an education also include the necessity of being provided with text books for the courses?
Note paper and pens?
A bag to carry all your school supplies?
Transportation to/from school?
A wake up call to make sure you’re up in time for class?

This gets very silly very fast! But that’s what happens when “rights” are created out of the ether because it sounds oh sooooo good and noble.

At some point very very soon (if not already happening) the decision has to be made, as a collective society, where the line is between what society can provide you and what you must do for yourself. You can send a person to a brand new school building filled with the latest computers and technical gear and staffed by al PhD’s in their field, but, if the person just sits there in a daze and does apply themselves to the material, doesn’t do the assignments, doesn’t participate, then nothing can be done. Some subject matter is hard to comprehend let alone master. If it were that simple everyone would be a PhD.

A “right” isn’t always right.

November 12, 2011

Identify Theft – In Reverse!

Identity theft (which used to be called “impersonation”) is all the rage to talk about these days. Many companies make a tidy sum selling various services they claim monitor your identity and warn or even prevent when someone tries to impersonate you. MasterPo has heard mixed reviews of these but they – and the entire indentity theft conversation – overlooks the reverse scenario.

That is: What happens when someone or some entity insists you are someone else?!

That sort of happened to MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo a few years ago.

We bought a new cell phone and was assigned a phone number from the carrier. But as it turned out the phone number had previously been used by someone in New York City, apparently as their primary number. We kept getting calls for that person.

At first it was typical stuff like sales calls, notice your Rx is ready, etc.

Then it got a bit more personal in the sense that why didn’t this person notify these people of their new number? We received calls from a mechanic shop that his car was ready and other seemingly important businesses calling to tell this person something they ordered or requested or wanted or paid for was ready for them.

Then came the next step: Calls from utility companies.

Apparently this guy owed a lot to utilities, especially Time Warner Cable.

We tried very hard to say that we aren’t this guy, we just bought a new cell phone and this is the number that was assigned.

But they didn’t listen.

Realistically MasterPo can see the other side. Someone owes a lot of money, this is the number the creditor has on file for them, but now the voice on the line claims they aren’t the one who’s on the owed account. Frankly if someone who owed MasterPo money and when called the voice at the other end claimed this wasn’t them MasterPo would be skeptical too.

But try as we did MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo just couldn’t stop the calls that came at all hours of the day and night.

In the end MasterPo had to change the number again and then the calls stopped (but not before we had some fun at the company’s expense!).

In this case there was little the businesses could do to MasterPo. But this does show identify theft in reverse. Maybe call it “Identity Assignment”?

November 7, 2011

This Is America’s Future (?!)

The future of any nation lays with the next generation – the children. We can debate the effectiveness or the lack thereof of the American education system but as the saying goes it’s attitude that makes the difference. And the attitude of today’s American youth is, to put it mildly, appalling!

Here are some examples:

Several years ago there was a young man by the name of Patrick who was very active on all the saltwater fishing forums in the Northeast. (MasterPo has written about Patrick before). He was a lad of about 16/17 when he came on the scene and tried so desperately to want to run with the big boys – experienced sport fisherman who had twice is age in fishing experience. Alas, poor Patrick took soooooooo much heat and criticism for many of his comments. Most were well deserved in MasterPo’s opinion too.

Finally, when Patrick couldn’t run with the big dogs he took to impugning them, their tackle and techniques, fishing reports etc. So much so that it was said several tackle manufactures threatened in writing from their lawyers to sue him for slander! Bet that made his parents happy. MasterPo understands he even received threats of physical harm.

Patrick then went on to pretty much take whatever opposing stance these people expressed on subjects of work, politics, religion, school, professions, etc. Very very sad that he was only able to relate to his seniors by insulting them. MasterPo wouldn’t be surprised if Patrick is now one of the Occupy Wall Street rioters now.

After about 3 years Patrick disappeared and to MasterPo’s knowledge hasn’t been seen on a fishing forum again since. Probably his parents got tired of having to pay lawyer fees to respond to slander cease&desist letters and took away his computer. Most likely they told him if he has the time to slander online he has the time to get a job! Today, young Patrick would be nearly 30 years old. MasterPo wonders if he has changed his ways. Hopefully.

Then there was the story of Paul, aka Martini.

Paul was a young kid in his early 20’s when MasterPo encountered him at work. His nickname was Martini after the character from “One Who Flew Over The Coo-Coo’s Nest”, part because he was one of 4 Paul’s in the office and part because he was a simplistic young man.

Paul could have had a decent career at that organization, maybe even risen to a management level, if he was just more conscientious and paid attention. Instead, he listened to the 20-30 year veterans of the organization and their tainted views of the world. Maybe they really did have a beef at some point, maybe not. But that’s literally decades ago for many and Paul shouldn’t let their experiences sour his fresh starting career. But he did. Within months Paul was talking smack about the managers and the organization as whole as if he too was a 20-year veteran. A lost and bitter soul at such a young age.

Finally and especially sad is the ongoing current story of Donald (not his real name).

Donald is young boy of 17, a High School Senior, and not a bad kid at all. MasterPo wouldn’t even call him lazy. Just unthinking, unconcerned, uncaring.

Last year Donald showed an interest in the culinary arts. So he attended a cooking program at a local school (in addition to High School). Late this year he was dropped. Didn’t pass because he didn’t attend enough classes and didn’t finish his cooking assignments. Now he wants to be Police.

All this time he has also been taking part in a Navy High School program called Sea Cadets. He (and I think his parents) wants to go into the Navy after High School and the Sea Cadets gives them a pre-view of Navy life as well as getting him in at a higher grade than an off-the-street recruit (think ROTC for enlisted). That he’s doing decently in. But he has to take the Armed Services Aptitude test (ASVAB) to be in the MP’s.

Here’s where it gets really sad: He will tell you all he needs is a score of 50 to be a Military Police. (Top score on the test is 100 which we calls “rocket scientist” level.) But 50 is only the minimum score needed to just be considered for the MP’s. It doesn’t guarantee anything. In fact, if Donald gets a 50 and someone else has an 80 and the MP’s only have one opening in the next training slot who do you think will get that slot? Yet Donald will just say all he’s aiming for is a 50.

MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo (who is trying to tutor him in the math part of the test, but even then Donald doesn’t do his homework rather than hanging with his friends!) have tried to explain this to him. He doesn’t seem to get it. Deer-in-the-headlights stare. Worse still, Donald says his parents and his uncle will pay him $100 if he gets just a 50 so that’s what he’s aiming for! In fact, Donald says that all his life his family has told him to just do the minimum needed to get by!

What kind of lesson is that to teach a child?!

MasterPo will grant that sometimes a minimal effort is the best you can do. That is, in a few very specific situations (which are generally also very situational) there is a time and a place to “just get by”. But now is not that time of place for a young man like Donald! He’s too many years away from encountering that kind of scenario much less being able to make an informed judgment as to whether or not to “just get by”.

This is the future of American. The next American generation.

Heaven help us all!

October 29, 2011

Adoption: For the Love of a Parent

Note: The following is from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous.

In a previous article I discussed the issue of a birth mother who many years ago gave up a child for adoption and now, perhaps decades later, decides to go searching for the child. In this scenario it was a closed adoption meaning no contact at all from the adoptive parents. Now the birth mother feels a yearning to find out what happened to "her" child and to reconnect.

In my prior article, while I sympathized with the feelings of the birth mother, I also pointed out there are many ways such a reunion might go much different and darker than she envisions. That is, the child who is now probably at least in his/her teens may not react as openly and lovingly as you believe they will for a variety of reason. Read that article for the different scenarios.

It is my thesis that a birth mother searching for "her" child years/decades later has to be prepared for all scenarios, not just the one hopeful starry-eyed mother/child reunion. It might be a Hallmark moment but it might not be too.

Now I want add another set of scenarios to that thesis.

Look at it as well from the adoptive parents' point of view.

If the parents adopted a child in a closed adoption arrangement they did not expect any further communication or contact from the birth mother (or birth father too if he is in the picture as well). In fact, as alien as it may seem to many die-hard adoption devotees, many adoptive parents specifically do not want contact with the birth mother after the placement! That is, the adoptive parents want a closed/no contact adoption.

Now years perhaps a decade or more later, the birth mother makes contact from out of the blue.

I acknowledge it is certainly a possibility the adoptive parents will be open about it. It is possible they will be glad you contacted them and will be open to considering meeting you. Then arrange to re-unite you and the child. This would be the ideal scenario.

But not the only possible scenario!

Do not underestimate the love of a parent to protect their child, biological or adopted!
As in my prior article, you don't know what they child has been told about the circumstances of his/her life (i.e. if they even know they are adopted much less the situation around the adoption). And, like it or not (and I'm sure you don't), the adoptive parents may view you as a threat to the child and their family. Not a physical threat (I hope not!) per se. But rather an upsetting factor. Even a problem they want to avoid.

From their point of view they may see the situation as having parted ways with you years ago and that's that.

Or, perhaps they see the situation has never intending or even wanting contact with you after the adoption.

To that end, be prepared to be rejected by the adoptive parents. Maybe even receive a hostile greeting from the adoptive parents if they view you as a threat to the child or the family.

The love of a parent is not merely from blood relationship. As such, a parent will fight to protect their child from what they perceive as danger.

As I had indicated before, finding a child given up for adoption is a noble concept. But it isn't just you the birth mother (and father) involved.

Think before you leap.

October 26, 2011

Biting The Hand That Feeds You? (Why a Government-Run Healthcare System WILL Destroy Your Freedom!)

There already has been so much written about the pros and cons of a government-run healthcare system. I'm not going to rehash the same old-same old that can be found all over the blogosphere and forums. But there is one aspect of such a system that I have rarely seen addressed that I do believe must also be taken into consideration.

How can you have freedom of speech and protest against the same government that you rely on to provide for your and your loved one's health??

Think about it.

In a government run healthcare system you need the government to review and approve all your healthcare requests. Especially serious, chronic life&death treatments that are usually time consuming and very expensive.

So how can you bee free to voice opposition, much less strong impassioned opposition, against the same government that you then need to turn to in order to save your life or the love of someone you love?!

The answer is simple: You can't!

Just imagine an outspoken critic of the government then needing a major medical procedures – or worse, someone in their family needing it – and now having to apply to this same government that they have been soooooooo critical of to approve the treatment and payment. One would hope that politics remains out of the decision process but nothing in government is without some measure of politics.

Just imagine someone like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannety, Mark Levine, Bill O'Reilly, Lou Dobbs, Dick Morris, Laura Ingrham, et al. suddenly needing cancer treatment or a organ transplant or perhaps life time treatment for something like MS or Parkinson's. Do you really think the government would be so quick and eager to provide it? MasterPo doesn't.

Not that government would outright say "No!" to the treatment (they might, who knows what politics will be like in the future!) but through weeks and months and possibly years of bureaucracy and the red tape government is famous for treatment will be delayed, withheld, or denied.

When you rely on someone else for literally your very life and the life of the people you love and care for how can you speak freely in criticism of them?

You can't!

Thus is how freedom dies.
Not with a gun shot.
But with something much worse – good intentions.

October 22, 2011

Not Out Of Touch!

This article is in response to a friends’ article on his blog (not going to post the link for personal reasons).

The up-shot of his article is that he recently visited a friend in the mid-West who is in a very dire situation financially. A common story these days: Divorced, child support, lost good job, living in small rental apartment with roommate, gave up car etc. All too common in America these days.

By contrast MasterPo’s friend feels he is in a much better position financially and doesn’t worry (right or wrong) about such things. Not being married and having no kids helps the situation (a sad commentary too on America!). But he feels he has lost some prospective on the national environment. He claims he too was in that similar situation some years ago and through a lot of time, hard work and risk made himself better off.

In MasterPo’s opinion this guy has nothing to feel “out of touch” or more likely guilty about!

Different people live different lives. We all make decisions that lead to different results. Sometimes we think we know the outcomes of our decisions and other times we don’t have a clue where it will lead. MasterPo isn’t going to second guess the life decisions of MasterPo’s friend or the friend’s friend. But whatever those decisions were it lead to where they are today:

Plus a dose of the X Factor: The unknown often uncontrollable events in life that we have know idea will happen nor any real ability to change or prevent them from happening (example: could anyone reading this have truly known for a fact terrorists would strike on 9/11? Even if you felt it was possible what could you personally have done to stop it?).

It’s human compassion to feel compassion for someone in a bad position. And it’s normal to pause and consider: By the grace of G-d go thee.

But there is no need to feel out of touch. Either by hard work or circumstance or just good luck you didn’t end up in a similar position (at least not yet, things tend to run in cycles). It speaks well that you have empathy for someone’s plight and self reflection to recognize you too could easily be in the same circumstances. But just because he is in a bad place and you aren’t does not make you “out of touch”.

Just don’t say “Let them eat cake”.

October 18, 2011

Business and Government in a Petri Dish

By this point in modern American history the “great experiment” of government economic and social planning verses private sector/business should have proven to all that, on the whole, to be a great failure!

MasterPo isn’t going to list all the reasons that are so often listed on other sites. But there is one significant difference between the plans of government and the plans of business.

Government can create a plan (program), allocate funds that typically means borrowing which is fine, then projects that 5 years (or whatever time frame) the results (return) will be whatever.

Business often does the same thing.


When a business starts project, borrows money to pay for it, makes a time line projection as to the return on the project, if at that future time the project doesn’t yield the return expected or fails in total the business takes a big hit! Maybe even goes out of business if the risk was so high. (Realistically, the business isn’t waiting until whatever future time, it already knows long before then if the project is doing well or not and may cancel the project is things don’t go as well as expected.)

By contrast, with government when the future time comes no one even bothers to look back and see if the program returned anywhere near what the claim was at the start. And more over, any return, even a mere 1% or less is deemed “successful” and therefore justifies the expense and resources expended. So all the money borrowed for the program that wasn’t made back just gets dumped on the ever growing pile of the national debt. There are no ramifications for those who proposed the program, voted for it, implemented it, managed it etc. No one gets fired. No one gets sued. No one even gets called before a committee to explain the failure. Just life goes on willy-nilly.

What business could survive doing that?! None. And that’s why government can’t be deemed a player, a “competitor”, in the business environment. Government can operate for years, decades even, at a loss without serious ramifications to those involved. Now we are finally seeing the weight of all that spending and Devil-may-care lack of planning and review. But even still, who is being taken to task officially for it? Who lost their job and reputations in disgrace? Who went to jail?! No one.

Government’s ability to borrow money pretty much at will and with few limits (Federal level at least) or print money (Federal) makes it the ultimate anti-competition entity in the universe! No private for-profit organization (and many non-government not-for-profit organizations too) can compete for years much less decades with such an entity under those conditions.

No business ever welcomed help from the government. The same can be said for government “competition”.