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.

April 30, 2011

The Loss Of Innocent Trust

Americans are afraid!

Americans by the thousands are fearful of their future. By itself this is nothing new. There have always people who say the end is just around the corner. Every event, every disaster, every bump on the road of life is just one more piece of evidence to them that we’re on the edge of impending collapse. As such, these people are usually ignored by the vast majority of people. Or at a minimum the brunt of jokes and parody.


But more and more Americans – decent, hardworking, middle and upper-middle class people – are perceiving that something is intrinsically wrong. And that frightens them.

Americans see what has happened to their cities and towns over the last 2-3 years.
Americans see what is happening to their jobs and the jobs of their friends and neighbors.
Americans see what is happening to their savings.
Americans see what is happening to their purchase power for food, fuel, clothes, entertainment, travel etc.
And now Americans see (and feel!) what is happening to the price of gasoline and heating oil.

At the same time Americans are hearing nothing but sun shine and Champaign reports from the news about “recovery” and “growth” yet don’t see it in their own lives. And they hear the same from their elected representatives up to and including the President.

When Americans call their elected officials to voice their concern they meet with condescending attitudes. When they send letters to their elected officials they receive no response; Not even a “Thank you for your opinion” notes.
When they attend town hall meetings and peacefully but with passion express their concerns they are labeled “extremists”, “radicals”, “hate mongers”, “racists”, and every other vile label you can imagine.

At the same time they see their elected representatives time and time again vote in favor of legislation they have emphatically expressed opposition to. But their opinions seem to fall on closed ears. Or worse, are ignored in favor of a “we know better” attitude.

So in this fertile environment the idea of a collapse of sorts (from currency to economic to Mad Max, take your pick what kind) finds a rich bed to grow. MasterPo isn’t referring to the usual suspects – the people who shave their heads and wear leather jackets, or, who carry shotguns in the back of their pickups painted like the rebel flag. The people today feeling more and more like this are the hardworking white collar as well as blue collar) professionals that are the engine of the country.

But even if none of these dire claims come anywhere near happening, the mere fact that soooooooooo many people are finding this line of thinking to more and more strike some cord of making sense is itself a symptom of the problem:

Americans less and less trust the official word from their elected leaders.

(And, moreover, more and more Americans are acting on that belief in terms of stock piling food, water, clothing and other supplies at a time when financial resources are too precious to squander on frivolous endeavors!)

It has been well written about having a healthy suspicion of politicians. That isn’t new. What is new is the breadth and depth of the suspicion across so many social-economic levels these days. And that does not bode well for America’s future.

When a crisis happens if people believe they cannot trust the “official” word from their government as to the nature of the crisis and what they should be doing about the crisis that feeds into a potential state of panic and chaos. And that’s not to mention the potential for their own health and security, as well as the health and security of the nation as a whole.

For example, in 2010 Swine Flu/H1N1 virus scare. Yes, it was a bad disease and some people did ultimately die from the infection. But quite a few people refused the H1N1 vaccine for themselves and their children. They did not accept the official government assurance the vaccine was safe but instead chose to side with the arguments that it has been rushed to development and (supposedly) missed many of the usual testing and QA reviews of the regular annual flu vaccine. In this case fortunately H1N1 didn’t become the great killer pandemic it might have been. But if it had been much worse than it was there still would have been great resistance to the official policy and that puts individuals and society as a whole in danger.

nation cannot survive, much less prosper, when the people do not trust their leaders.

Not blind trust.
Respectful and cautious trust.

April 26, 2011

Israelis or Arabs: Pick Your Side

MasterPo fears that very soon there will be yet another conflict between Israel and the Arabs. Probably involving various Arab terrorist groups as well as Iraq, Syria and Saudi Arabia (MasterPo thinks Egypt will sit this one out unless there is a sudden political change in the country like a coupe – it has happened before).

When this happens the world, most notably the U.S., will need to pick sides. Staying “neutral” isn’t an option. Sending in “peace keepers” won’t do it this time. And unfortunately President Obama has done an excellent job of adding fuel to the world fire against Israel.

Before you go off and spout about “occupation” and “human rights” take these points into account:

- Israel is the only true Democracy in the Middle East. Its government is based on the UK-style parliamentary system which is also what the American government system was originally modeled after.

- Israel’s #1 export is hi-tech! Nearly all the world’s best technology companies have significant R&D facilities in Israel: IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Texas Instruments, Intel, Microsoft, General Electric etc etc etc.

- Teva Pharmaceuticals (a publicly traded company by the way, symbol TEVA) is a major world researcher and producers of both brand name and generic drugs (look on the self behind your pharmacist next time you go and you’ll see boxes with the Teva name on them).

- The Weizmann Institute in Tel Aviv is a world leading research university in the fields of physics, mathematics, and computer science.

- Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem is a world leading hospital in researching cures for cancer and AIDS.

- The Israeli Phil Harmonic orchestras has played to packed audiences around the world. Many world famous musicians and conductors have been part of the group.

These are just some examples.

By contrast:

- ALL the surrounding Arab states are either monarchies, military dictatorships, or religious fanatic pseudo-republics. A few have parliaments but the leaders are under no obligation to follow the parliaments’ rulings.

- Most of the exports from Arab countries are minerals and other natural resources, some produce, and cheap-labor manufactured small items.

- When was the last time you heard of the great technology and development centers of say Syria or Lebanon?

- Public performances of orchestral music is banned in most Arab states as being against Islamic law.

The argument can go back and forth forever.

But the bottom line is the bottom line: When you compare side-by-side Israel and the Arab world it is clearly Israel that, in a mere 62 years, offers the world more productivity and benefits than has ever been produced (save for oil) by all the other Arab states in the same time.

Pick your side based on reality, not hyperbole.

April 21, 2011

Screw Unto Others?

Screw unto others as others have screwed unto you.So it's not exactly Biblical – so sue me.

But it does reflect a point of view: Why be a nice person when there are so many others out there happy to stick it to you without so much as batting an eye?

Yea, MasterPo knows the old school saying "Two wrongs don't make a right" and the other BS teachers tell kids about being better than they are, doing the right thing always, they will get theirs in the end etc etc etc.

MasterPo just doesn't buy it, much.

2008 was a bad year for MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo in terms of getting screwed over by people with ease.Individually, at work several co-workers (including managers) shafted both of us in terms of much deserved recognition for our work and with holding vital information that made us appear inept. One can say that's par for the working world and to some extent that's try. But this seemed to be done for no other reason than it could be done. Like a sport. MasterPo has heard of such things before but not seen it until now.

Then we had a tenant who up and left mid year and stuck us for the balance of the last month's rent. He said quote "If I pay you I won't have the money to move else where." So he scammed a free month from us. MasterPo could have sued. But he was an asshole and a hot head. And MasterPo suspects used drugs. MasterPo wouldn't have put it past him to vandalize our home in retaliation. As screwed as we were by him and his girlfriend (they lied too saying they were married!) better to be riddance of them. But still, that not only screwed us out of a month's rent but in mid-year it's tough to rent out an apartment. So we had to carry the cost of the building ourselves for 4 months! That hurt the old bank account!

Together, we got screwed BIG time by several people in the adoption processes. And not just the children but the cost. Think as ill of MasterPo as you want but we spent over $50,000 that year and no child. And no, there is no legal recovery of the money. You can't sue or contract or anything like that (MasterPo have a whole article on that BS later!).

So we got screwed more times than a porn star and it costs us money, time, and nerves.

No one cared.

Everyone looked out for themselves.

We were required to follow all sorts of rules and laws and conducts.They were required to do nothing.

So why be a nice guy?

Screw off!

April 17, 2011

Of Winners, Losers, Money, and Children.

Recently MasterPo was watching a show with his eldest daughter on Nick Jr. The show was a cartoon with a group of children ‘space friends’ flying a magic spaceship in a spaceship race. Near the end of the show (and the race) this group of ‘space friends’ had to fly their ship through mountain tops and when they emerged they were in the lead to win the race.

But suddenly the driver kid of the spaceship turned it around, much to the surprise of the others in the ship.

When the other kids asked why he turned the ship around and not win the race he said quote:

“I don’t care about winning” – (astonished look from the other kiddies) - “ It’s not important to me. So long as I have fun flying through the mountains with my friends I’m happy.” (now smiles from the others)

What kind of feel-good touchy-feely BS is that to teach children?!

Winning is not important?! Striving to be the best and proving it doesn’t matter?! Gaining the REWARDS that come with being at the top aren’t worthwhile?!

MasterPo immediately told his daughter the show was wrong and that winning is the goal of a competition (if you don’t want to win then don’t enter the competition to begin with!). Hopefully this will sink in with her. MasterPo and Mrs. MasterPo have a lot of work ahead of them on this topic. But just stop and think about that: Winning – being the top, the best, the first, the #1 – isn’t as important as just having fun!

This is exactly the same kind of thinking that gets young people today to consider life is good working for $9/hr at Wendy’s so long as they can come back to their tiny apartment (which they share with 3-4 other slacker roommates) and play Xbox Live all night long! Or that consider lottery tickets a worthwhile “investment” but the idea of putting into an IRA or an S&P500 fund is too risky!

Someone is probably already pressing that COMMENT button to slam MasterPo for being “greedy” or “selfish” or “cut-throat”.

Since when is having the desire to win be any of those things? Since when is striving to be the best you can be wrong? And if being the best you can be means being better than someone else why in Heaven’s name shouldn’t you garner the benefits thereof??

Whether you like it or not there are real, tangible (and often financial) rewards for being a “winner”. Not just money and gifts per se but also opportunities for additional achievements, access to resources and information, etc that otherwise would not come no matter how much fun you had being a “loser”.

Further, the path to being a “winner” in life is rarely a singular event. In spite of TV game and reality shows the vast majority of “winners” worked long and hard all their life, saving and investing along the way. More than likely these people took steps very early on that was intended to come into importance years later. Sure, they could have taken it easy and cheaper back then but they knew most likely the day would come when whatever they did years back would now bear fruit. No guarantees either. That’s the concept of risk for which no “winner” can ever escape.

Perhaps their path to winning is also the continuation of their parents or even grandparents path too (e.g. an inheritance or continuing the family business). No crime in that (nor should it be!).

Being a “winner” is never evil or greedy. That is just rhetoric “losers” use to justify their own short comings rather than accept the reality that someone was better than they were at some contest or task.

The end does not justify the means (albeit depending what the circumstances are). But within the boundary of the norms for the given situation having a “winner” and a “loser” is normal and natural.

Consider it a teachable moment.

April 13, 2011


MasterPo is sure that at some point in the life of the people who make up “the rich” in America they or their forbearers have said “Enough!” to the taxes and regulations and overall targeting of them as the national bottom-less piggy bank. But what can they do about it?

Like everyone else they can vote, contribute to political parties and candidates they feel better represent their interests, write letters, make calls etc. But short of leaving the country (and many have already or are making plans to do such) they are stuck.

But while they can’t (or simply don’t) leave the country they can and often do send their money overseas.

And that is the problem.

The problem isn’t “the rich” aren’t taxed enough. It is what they have left after taxes - whether it be jobs, profits, or simply investment funds – is not kept in the U.S. but much is sent and kept overseas.

And why not?

“The rich” didn’t become wealthy by being stupid. They see there is a bulls-eye on their front and backs for years and years. They see the wealth they keep here in the U.S. is being targeted again and again for confiscatory taxation.

MasterPo doesn’t think [too] many of “the rich” would argue the need for some level of taxation. After all, even “the rich” benefit from public services like roads, police/fire, national defense, a legal system etc. And certainly their employees and associates benefit from the same and more. That’s not the issue.

The issue is the constant attack on what is left over after taxation. It just is getting less and less desirable to keep wealth in the U.S. Between taxation and legal challenges (e.g. easy law suits) accumulating and protecting wealth is becoming ever increasingly harder.

And that is the fault of the government at all levels.

Doesn’t matter who the President is or which party controls the Congress. They all have added bricks to this road.

Rather than encouraging and incentivizing positive reasons to make wealth and keep that wealth here like reasonable one-time taxations, asset protection, estate planning, etc. the policies and laws have made the U.S. very un-friendly to wealth. And that’s not good for the future health of the nation.

You can’t have a strong, healthy, prosperous economy without someone becoming “rich” and keeping it!

April 10, 2011

Entitled to Entitlements?


The word is all the buzz of recent years in terms of budgets and shortfalls, government programs and public works, and business employment with benefits. But MasterPo believes the word itself is too often being improperly used, or at least in the wrong context. Or, simply we as a nation and society need to get a better grip on what is “entitled” vs. what has been earned.

This topic came to thought because recently on another blog MasterPo read a comment stating VA and other veterans’ benefits are “entitlements”. MasterPo has known, unfortunately, some veterans who are clearly using and milking the system (and regrettably are actually proud of it!). But those are few. The vast majority of veterans have well paid into the system through their military service, a job few want to do but is so vital to the nation.

The word “entitlement” in the current economic and political landscape conjures up visions of someone receiving money or a functional benefit simply for the asking. No specific payment or pre-payment for it (general taxation not included). No service or other non-payment contribution. No nothing other than filing papers.

Without question that is all too true for a whole host of government programs and services.

But not really for others.

Take Social Security as an example.

Presuming no fraud and no political favoritism (a hard one granted) everyone who pays into the SS system should be “entitled” to get at least their money back. And some percentage interest compensation would be even fairer.

It is not an “entitlement” to receive that for which you have paid!

April 5, 2011

3 Fears of Adoptive Parents

The following is a guest article from a long time reader of The Po File who wishes to remain anonymous.

With the recent case about the child adopted from Russia allegedly being abused (do a Google search) by his adoptive mother, the usual suspects in the anti-adoption crowd are again beating the drums about the ‘evils’ of adoption.

Get a new tune!

One of the many complaints these agitators have is the sometimes lack of communication the BM (birth mother) has with the adoptive parents after the placement is made. They claim the BM has the right (?!) to know all about “their” child even after placement.

For the benefit those unfamiliar with adoptions there are three kinds of adoptions scenarios as far as post-placement communication:

Open – The BM and the adoptive parents remain in frequent/close communication, perhaps even speak or meet often, and even arrange for periodic meetings throughout the years with the adopted child after being adopted. In this scenario the BM is very much still part of the adoptive parents' and the adopted child’s life.

Semi-Open – The BM and the adoptive parents remain in occasional communication throughout the years typically by status letters and photos the adoptive parents send to the BM. Maybe at some point in the future depending how things evolve they may be more direct connect between the BM, adoptive parents and adopted child but it isn’t pre-planned.

Closed – It is mutually agreed that after placing the child with the adoptive parents there is no further communication and no contact again between the BM and adoptive parents or child. This is also the case when the BM (or other family) of the child is unknown (such as an orphan or protective custody with Child Services).

Back in the 50’s and 60’s and even a good part of the 70’s most adoptions were closed. It was often for the very simply reason that back in those days many of the women giving up a child for adoption were either unwed mothers or women who had affairs and the social stigma of an unwed mother and child or child from an affair was too great. Today however social attitudes, and due to the activism of various BM “rights” and anti-adoption groups, have changed (good or bad) about unwed mothers and even married women who have children by other men. As a result more and more adoptions are being at least semi-open if not totally open (this applies to domestic U.S. adoptions; Foreign adoptions are almost always closed as children usually come from orphanages).

With that said, in spite of all the noise these people make the fact remains that a great many potential adoptive parents harbor three main fears about open adoptions:

1) Shake Down – Adoptions cost a lot of green. The adoptive parents frequently pay the for the BM’s living expenses before she gives birth. That includes rent, food, clothes, utilities, transportation, medical, etc. as well as her legal fees associated with the adoption. Even without using an agency the expenses can easily be $30,000+. Adoptive parents fear the BM will “request” (demand) more money to complete the adoption process and sign surrender papers, maybe even after placement too. This is not an unfounded concern. It happens as much as some would like to deny it. It is not unheard of either that a BM will threaten to make complaints to Child Protective Services against the adoptive parents, accusations of child abuse, baby selling etc. unless the parents pay up. This isn’t at all common. By no means. But it does happen often enough to be a realistic concern.

2) Change of Mind – Most states have a statutory limit as to how much time the BM has to change her mind about the adoption. The period of time usually runs for some period during the time when the court places the child with the adoptive parents and the adoption itself is finalized. It can be a matter of days, weeks, or months. After that period of time the BM looses the statutory right to change their mind. At best they would need to hire their own lawyer and show some significant legal process wasn’t followed or some significant material information was false or not disclosed in order to even have a case. Nevertheless, the fear of the BM coming back months or years later wanting the adopted child back weighs heavily on the mind of an adoptive parent.

3) Too Many Cooks – Many adoptive parents don’t want the BM watching over their shoulder, giving “advise” on raising the child, and certainly not second guessing their decisions and actions. A child doesn’t get raised by committee (nothing good ever comes from a committee!). Adoptive parents fear the BM will try to interject herself into their family decisions and cause friction. Or perhaps even legal trouble if she believes the adoptive parents aren’t doing what she wants them to. The child is in a family, not a boarding hose.

I have no doubt it is a mere fraction of BM’s that give all BM’s a bad reputation which leads to these kinds of fears. And the media doesn’t help when they plaster the few stories about these kinds of things (especially #2, remember the Baby Jessica saga?) all over the front page.

But real or not these are true concerns of adoptive parents.