Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gerald Ford

(President from 1974-1976, 38th)

Historical Essay

By Richard E. Noble

Leslie Lynch King, Jr. (biological name) otherwise known as Gerald Rudolf Ford, Jr. received the most extensive background check of any president of the United States. That’s because he was appointed by Congress and not elected by the people. He was selected by Congress via direction of the twenty-fifth amendment to the Constitution.
Spiro Agnew had been forced to resign under criminal charges relating to tax evasion and taking bribes, and Richard Nixon and the Congress were appointed the task of selecting a vice president and, under the Watergate circumstances, a possible future president.
After Nixon’s resignation, Nelson Rockefeller was selected as Ford’s vice president. This is the first time in the history of the American presidency that neither the president nor the vice president was elected by the people.
The Congress must have been exhausted from all of their investigations into the “squeaky clean” Gerald Ford and had no heart for pursuing a similar course with the vise presidency. But then again almost anybody looked clean when placed aside Richard Nixon - even Nelson Rockefeller.
It is said that Gerald Ford was selected because of his honesty, decency and his “unimpeachable” character. This may be the case to some, but the fact that he was a diehard, right wing, conservative Republican certainly didn’t hurt. His loyal, yeoman duty on the Warren Commission investigating the Assassination of JFK I would imagine served him favorably also. And his congressional economic managing on the committee funding the C.I.A. and defense spending probably didn’t hurt either.
My guess is that if you asked Jerry who his presidential idol was, if he were true to his George Washington cherry tree status, he would select Herbert Hoover.
Jerry’s answer to the economic problems of his day were right out of the Hoover handbook; give big business and the wealthy and super wealthy a tax cut; increase spending on internal and external security, cut minimum wage to working people, and stop any social spending, while guaranteeing a “free market” to all foreign and international investors and traitors - I mean traders. He also voted to weaken civil rights legislation; he voted against the establishment of Medicare and denounced Johnson’s War on Poverty as a lot of washed up old programs. Johnson in return is quoted as saying of Ford; “He is a nice fellow but he spent too much time playing football without a helmet.” Jerry did believe in fighting inflation; but to a Republican all that means is firing a lot of working people, raising interest payments on mortgages, and giving the super wealthy extremely attractive interest rates on their Treasury bonds.
Ford was an all-out Nixon fan. He adopted nearly the entire Nixon cabinet. He even defended Nixon against charges of Nixon’s personal involvement in the Watergate cover-up.
He criticized Johnson’s Vietnam policy for not being tough enough or dropping enough bombs. He was also a Barry Goldwater fan. He didn’t end the Vietnam War and probably wouldn’t have. He was strongly anti-Communist, never even spoke out against McCarthy, and he was heavy on defense and defense spending. He was on the Appropriation’s Committee and became prominent on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. In his retirement he helped out at AMAX, GK Technologies, and Santa Fe International. The Vietnam War ended only after the Congress, pushed by enormous public pressure, refused to renew any more spending for the War.
It is also said that “possibly” Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard M. Nixon was a factor in his defeat in the presidential election of 1976. It is not only possible but highly likely. The American people were not happy with what they considered the let’s-make-a-deal antics of the obviously corrupt Republican administration. Ford even went before Congress to testify about a conversation that he had privately with General Haig, Nixon’s envoy in the matter. Haig supposedly propositioned him on the notion of a pardon and Jerry refused. Which hardly explained that one month after assuming the presidency, Ford granted Nixon a FULL pardon from all and any crimes that Nixon may have committed while serving as president. So he made the deal while not making any deal.
Republicans are always hot to point out that the “American people” were really not all that upset, and that the 1978 election between Jimmy Carter and Jerry was very close. And so it was. Even in the popular vote, Jimmy only won by a million and a half votes. But one must always remember that even in the most popular of American Presidential elections only half of the American people care enough to vote. And in this election the half who did vote picked an unknown peanut farmer from Georgia over the incumbent president. I should think that alone would be statement enough.
I have never bought Jerry’s explanation for pardoning Richard M. Nixon. At the least Nixon should have been tried and found guilty and then pardoned. The issue would then have been settled and no contrary claims could ever have been made by any diehard Nixon fans or relatives. It would have been established once and for all that Richard Nixon was a crook plain and simple.
Gerald Ford did point out in his memoirs that he did make Richard Nixon sign a paper (a part of his resignation) admitting his guilt. So even though Nixon was not brought to official justice the American people would know forever that Richard Nixon was a cook and had admitted to his crimes. But how many Americans even know today of this signature and this admission of guilt?
My personal opinion is that the Republican Party of that day could not have withstood a serious outside criminal investigation of their affairs. To say that the American people couldn’t handle the trauma was ridiculous. It is like letting a murderer go Scott free because the victim’s family supposedly could not stand to go through the trial. The American people would have liked nothing better than to see Richard Nixon brought to justice - certainly this American person. And the notion that Gerald Ford would have been too distracted to perform his duties as president and Commander in Chief is an equal joke. A president’s ability to handle his responsibilities certainly wasn’t of concern to the Republicans when it came to the Clinton administration. Who’s kidding who here?
The Republicans had all they could handle with Ehrlichman, Haldeman, Eichmann and Herman Goering - or am I getting my political parties mixed up here?
The Democrats went along because they were probably in no more “honorable” condition. The Republicans had Nixon but the Democrats had Johnson and they both had Vietnam and the Military Industrial Complex up to their ears. What Americans should know and remember is that war, any war, means lots and lots of “free” money for piles and piles of people and industries - that is a fact of war, my friends - and it cannot be denied. It can be rationalized and justified given one war or another - but it can not be denied.
What we should have been investigating is not Richard Nixon or Lyndon Johnson or the politics of Vietnam or Diem or Lieutenant Calley - we should have been investigating military expenditures and procurements, over-spending, false bookkeeping, and overall excess profits and war profiteering. We should have been investigating the proliferators of war and not their puppets and unfortunate dupes. But that wasn’t even the case in Nuremberg after World War TI - so why should we have expected it with Vietnam.
Actually the biggest thing that I remember during the Ford Administration was the Mayaguez Incident in May of 1975. That was a big deal in the newspapers. Cambodian gunboats seized the Mayaguez, a merchant ship. In a daring rescue two days later U.S. forces recovered the vessel. Thirty-nine crewmen were saved - of course 41 Americans were killed in the preparation and execution of the operation - but all of America was proud once again.
Jerry also offered clemency to Draft evaders and deserters from the Vietnam Police Action. This proposal really POed the VFW. They were basically of the opinion that all of these type people should simply be shot. The sad part of their action was that they had escaped a proper firing squad.
But to the draft evaders and deserters who believed that they had stood up to an unjust demand and acted in accordance with human moral conscience, the clemency offer with all of its provisions was hardly acceptable. Evaders would have to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States and serve two years of public service and any deserter would also be required to swear allegiance and serve two additional years in whatever branch of the service they had defected from. The defectors and deserters on the other hand felt that they were more in line for a medal for exemplary service to mankind in the avoidance of crimes against humanity. So Jerry’s offer of clemency was not really much of a hit with either side.
Actually “Squeaky” Fromme, a Charles Manson disciple, just missed getting the “hot seat” over her “affair” with Jerry. Her Colt 45, though fired point blank and within inches from the president had no bullet in the chamber. She was mighty lucky - but Jerry was even luckier. Then Sara Jane Moore in San Francisco on September 22 tried to get Jerry with a .38. You know Jerry was once a male model and a football star. He was offered a professional contract by both the Green bay Packers and the Detroit Lions. Girls were supposed to be on the sidelines cheering for this guy. What was it with these girls?
What I liked best about Jerry is the fact that he denounced his real biological, wife-beating rich-twitch father and even changed his name to that of his adopted dad. I am also quite proud of Jerry because he fried hamburgers in a greasy-spoon somewhere, washed dishes at the fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon, bused tables at the university hospital dining room, worked in an amusement park, and as a park ranger feeding bears and directing traffic. He was obviously a working stiff who was willing to take any job no matter how demeaning - even work in Congress and a year or two as President of the United States after Richard Nixon was not below his dignity and work ethic. He was my kind of guy.
Jerry was really left with the dirty end of the stick when he became president. Not only did he have to clean up Tricky Dickey’s White House fiasco; Nixon’s creative campaign financing via F.B.I., C.I.A., and I.R.S.; he had Vietnam to deal with also, not to mention problems in the economy. Everything was a mess. But, nevertheless, Gerald Ford will have to go down in the annuals of American history not only as Mr. Nixon’s replacement but as Richard “Tricky Dickey” Nixon’s best friend.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006



“Charity as an Economic Political Policy”

By Richard E. Noble

Charity has been around for a good many centuries. Charity is a principle espoused by nearly every religion that has ever existed. I hesitate to say that Charity is a basic principle of every religion that has ever existed because I am not personally knowledgeable of “every religion that has ever existed”. I do know that Buddha, Jesus Christ and Mohammed were all proponents of Charity. I know that Jews believe in Charity. I really don’t know if it was Abraham, Mosses or who; but I do know that the Old Testament is filled with recommendations to Charity and charitable acts.
Governments, on the other hand, have a tradition of the “Separation of Charity and State”. There are no Governments that I have ever read about that have had a Department of Charity.
It has recently been announced over and over on the TV and elsewhere that Americans have given over two billion to Charities this past year. Of course only 10% of that money went to help the poor and less fortunate – which is what I thought the concept “charity” intended. Over 90% of all those “charitable” contributions went to Harvard, Yale, the old Alma Mater football teem, Art Museums, and other Gala events celebrating the lives of the rich and famous. And at the risk of being somewhat unkind, I hesitate to mention that these “charitable “contributions netted 50 billion in tax right offs. Of course giving to other than the poor and depressed is still a nice thing to do – but should we be calling it “Charity” and should it be tax deductible?
I have always thought of Charity as a nice thing to do - nice people are always involved in Charities. I have never thought of it as a political solution for poverty, pestilence, disease, famine or any of the short-comings of “society” or “societies” in general.
Poverty, for example, has been around for as long as Charity - maybe longer. But nevertheless even here in the “most prosperous” country in the world we still have poverty. Of course, not everyone agrees with that statement. Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize winning economist, is quoted to have announced at one of his lectures not too long ago that there was no poverty in the United States of America. Someone in the back of the audience screamed an expletive to the contrary.
I would venture to say that Milton has a definition of Poverty that may be different from, say Mother Teresa’s or Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed or ever John Kenneth Galbraith’s for that matter. But opinions differ. For example, learned people on the Nobel Prize Committee awarded Milton Freidman a Nobel Prize for Economics for his leadership in the promotion of ideas like the above. I find that somewhat scary. But as far as I know even Milton Friedman was not against Charity.
So we know that Milton wasn’t worried about American poverty, I wonder what he felt about sickness and disease? Should we let the charitable organizations and various kindly religions take care of the sick and diseased now that they have conquered poverty here in America?
But it was only recently that I realized that many people consider Charity as the proper method for curing the problems of mankind, society - sickness, disease, old age, unemployment, education and whatever. I am very naive. I have always known that this idea was out there but I always thought that the advocates of this idea were just spoofing - playing me along. I really didn’t think that they were serious. But they are. Here in America people of this sort have actually formed their own political party. And it seems that there are advocates of this idea in both political parties.
Actually I am more Conservative than most Conservatives. I have never believed in giving anybody anything. I have always believed in employment, job opportunity, education, equal opportunity for all classes, living wages, a fair distribution of wealth and so forth. I have always thought that Charity was for unusual and tragic cases - emergencies.
Speaking of emergencies, Mississippi comes to mind. I keep hearing commentators on the tube criticizing the Government. Some, on the Right, have gone so far as to tells us that the Government has been totally useless and that Wal-Mart, Conoco, the Actors and Entertainers Guilds, the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Oprah and the Angel Network, and others have been the true saviors of the displaced in Mississippi. And their conclusion seems to be - “Why don’t we just do away with the Government altogether?” Of course, once again, nobody likes to mention that most established charities are subsidized by the government – state, federal, county, city etc. – in one way or another.
I must admit getting rid of the government does sound like a pretty good idea but there is one thing that sticks in my mind.
Shortly after the disaster in Mississippi there was a huge worldwide celebrity fund raiser. Every comedian, singer and rock and roll band in the world, it seemed, joined in. Which was wonderful and generous and all things good and kind. The results of that extravaganza were that this Celebrity Gala raised more money than had ever been raised in such an event, in that period of time ever in history. They raised One Billion dollars in a week or two. Fantastic!
But, in even less time than the Gala Celebrity Fund Raiser, the United States Government alone deposited on account for use and distribution in Mississippi - Forty Billion dollars. After discussion in the Congress, that amount was then raised to, I think, One Hundred and Fifty Billion dollars.
Now granting all the problems that come with the distribution of these funds - which we can assume the Charity Gala will also experience - who would you rather have trying to cure your mother’s Alzheimer’s or your baby sister’s M.S., or the next disaster - the Government or Oprah, Sting, Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Fortress America

“Fortress America”

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

I bought this book recently, realizing full well, that it was already out of date. It was published in 1998 by William Greider - a journalist and political writer with a sophisticated economic slant on the national and world situation. I read one book by Mr. Greider and then decided to read all of the books that he has published.
This book “Fortress America” was written during a period in Modern American History that may, in retrospect, be considered a time warp. It was after the disassembling of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Russian Empire and before 9/11. It was written during that brief period of time when the American government was looking at a balanced budget and what was assumed to be a ballooned, anachronistic Military Industrial Complex looking for an viable and justifying enemy. The Cold War had suddenly vanished. Our enemy of nearly the last hundred years was vanquished and now standing in line for American assistance - in the new Capitalist welfare world. The political talk around the Nation was of a “peace dividend”. At long last it was no longer necessary to keep expanding our Military Industrial Complex which had been necessitated by World War II, justified with the fall of the Iron Curtain, and expanded paranoiac proportions ever since. Finally the Military Complex could be simplified - money could be given back to the taxpayers or recycled to enhance social responsibility or national well-being. But this would be easier said than done and “Fortress America” was a book designed to highlight that problem. Trying to stop the growth and expansion of the Military Industrial Complex was like trying to stop a rushing locomotive or to skid an Aircraft carrier at full sped ahead to a halt - or maybe more realistically like trying to stop a avalanche in progress or turn back a tsunami.
During this brief moment in time the United States was suddenly dumping tanks into the ocean and sinking battle ships to make fishing reefs in the ocean. We were giving away battleships and aircraft and selling weapons of all sorts at ten cents on the dollar. It was like a military clearance sale or going out of business give away. But overall the whole idea was impossible. Trying to cut back on the Military was like trying to become less pregnant. War ships had to be maintained, crews had to be trained, modern computer technology couldn’t be moth-balled - it had to be used. Not only did it have to be used it had to be upgraded and improved.
Cutting military preparedness sounded good but in the short run it was nearly impossible, and in the long run things didn’t look that much better. As strange as it might seem it might just as well have been easier - politically and economically -to start another war.
Of course, Mr. Greider didn’t say this. He established in “Fortress America” exactly what I had expected that he would. He detailed the expense and the costs; he outlined the enormous difficulties; he pointed out the political pressures and he closed with an array of positive suggestions on how an economic “peace” could be attained while down-sizing and converting the huge Military Industrial Complex into a quasi Military/Consumer Complex. Just as the Consumer Industrial Complex was gradually converted into the World War II Military Industrial Complex now the time had finally come to start the reverse process. It would be difficult and it would take bold political leadership and courage but ... with the advent of 9/11 all of Mr. Greider thoughts and suggestions will no longer be necessary; for better or worse war and the threat of future war have been re-established. It will - from this day forward - be business as usual. It seems at this day in the year 2006 the Military Industrial Complex is alive and well; there may even be a revived new style nuclear arms race.
At the end of this book Mr. Greider has a number of quotes by a Senator McCain on how America should avoid “foreign entanglements” and wars of moral righteousness - which all seem so very interesting when one considers what Mr. McCain will be saying in a year or two from now. Actually most of what he says is rather revealing when read today - but it should sound even more ironically sad in 2008.
I ordered this book knowing that it would not contain a picture of the future America. I bought it because I knew that it would be filled with numbers and the dollars and cents of the exorbitant and wasteful costs of the Military Industrial Complex. I figured that this might be the last time - for a long time - that I might find such numbers displayed so openly.
I’m thinking that this book by Mr. Greider may become a collector’s item. A few years from now it will probably be inconceivable to think that there was ever a time when the theme of this book - How to Downsize the Military Industrial Complex - was ever a serious topic for political discussion. This book is already an historical classic. Another like it will not appear in my life time - maybe never ever again. Once again we have been saved from the horrible prospects of “peace”.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Love, Marriage, and the ‘Old Gang’.

By Richard E. Noble

Ray, as with many others of my generation, had an “unfortunate incident” with his high school sweetheart in the back seat of his car at a drive-in movie one evening. I meet him at the local tavern one night and he told me that he was about to make the honorable sacrifice. He would marry Helen. About five or six kids and ten or twelve years later they were divorced.
Gus fell head over heels in love with the town tramp. Everybody knew it, even he knew it. “But you guys don’t really understand,” he told us. “She really likes knitting and baking bread.” Yeah, right Gus, we all thought to ourselves. Gus and the town tramp had two kids and have been married now for over forty years.
Billy was a sexually precocious little devil. He dated many - and often. He met little Nancy, an ingĂ©nue just out of high school. He taught her all the tricks he knew. One night his phone rang. It was Nancy’s Dad.
“I have just finished reading Nancy’s diary,” he said. “Nancy’s bags have been packed, and she is sitting out on the front porch. She is all yours. Come and get her, or I’m am going to come and get you.”
Billy rushed over, wedding ring in hand. They were married within a week. They have two daughters and have been married now for over forty years.
Tom married on the rebound. He had this hot affair going with one girl. She dumped him and almost immediately he married this girl none of us had ever seen before. They had two kids, and stayed married up until he died just a few years ago.
Ron was a romantic idealist. He had this ideal woman in mind. He would often describe her to us in conversation. She was a wonderful cook. Never served the same dish twice in the same month. She was sexy (possibly a nymphomaniac) and of course, beautiful. She loved kids and keeping house. She could sew, and could actually make and design all the kids’ clothes. She loved to throw parties and entertain. She was well educated and could keep up an intelligent conversation on any subject; brewed her own beer, aged her own whiskey, even made her own Hershey bars.
Ron is now approaching retirement age. He has been a bachelor all his life.
Georgie married a girl that we all thought was too good for him. She was beautiful, well educated and from a nice family. We were right. It took her about ten years but she finally dumped him. They didn’t have any kids.
My personal story is also rather unique. I was a BIG success, working in Miami, driving a BIG expensive car. Went to my FANCY office one morning and there was Carol laying in the parking lot. She was beat up, drunk, and whacked out on drugs. I took her home with me, as much I would do for a stray dog, and nursed her back to health and respectability. It cost me my BIG job, my FANCY office, and my BIG car, not to mention my personal FORTUNE. She has been a terrible struggle and a strain on my constitution, sanity, health and youth, but one day I know, though it may not happen in this life, God will make it right for me.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


By Richard E. Noble

There are only two kinds of people in the world - those that love Christmas and those that hate Christmas. I have always been a born and bred, true blue, Christmas hater. And I have very good, rational justification for my adherence to such an attitude. But as fate will have it and just to break my chops and bust my bubble, the all-knowing messengers from the above; the designers of the expanding universe; that impossible infinite brain who controls all the planets - sent me a bride whose birthday just happens to fall on ... December 25th.
What do you think of that? You’ve heard of the odd couple? How about a situation comedy with Ebenezer Scrooge and Santa Claus living in the same apartment?
It happens every year at about this time. My mind starts to search the dark and dingy corners of my bleak, unhappy childhood for all those tales of misery and neglect that linger like scar tissue on my inner personality and my wife starts bouncing around like a little elf, putting up Christmas lights, doing red and green needlepoint things, and playing Dean Martin’s “I’ll be home for Christmas” around September. That’s when I dig out my Edgar Allen Poe, and start making my annual inquires to the suicide hot line number to see if they are taking on any extra help.
I’ve always figured that I have the perfect attitude to talk to potential suicide candidates. First, I would listen to their terribly depressing story, and then, I’d say; “Well, sounds to me that you have a perfectly good reason for committing suicide BUT ... let me ask you this. If God could do all of this to you, what makes you think that He is going to lighten up if you commit suicide? You must realize that you are a person who is on God’s pooh-pooh list - if you know what I mean. Did you ever figure that it ain’t gonna get no better than this, and that maybe being a hopeless alcoholic is going to be the high point of your eternity? He put you here and did this to you – do you really want to find out what He has planned next?
To tell you the truth, for the first five years or so of our marriage, just looking at my wife’s bubbling smile and rosy cheeks at this time of the year, gave me chronic morning sickness. In fact, this year, I’ve sent for my own home pregnancy test kit. Boy, that’s all that I need.
But enough of this fun and games, I’ve sat down here today to make all of you cry - after all, this is Christmas. But first, I have to get you all in the mood.
Tell me, do you have any retarded children? Anybody in your immediate family have an incurable disease? Did you ever back up out of the drive, over one of your own children? Come on, THINK! You couldn’t have lived through all of these Christmases without being miserable at least once in your life. Didn’t you ever say, “So what if our little Nancy got bit by a strange dog. How does anybody really know if that was actual saliva foaming around its mouth? And besides, this tetanus shot business is just another plot by Doctors to make themselves a bunch of extra bucks.”
So, are you getting into a crying mood yet? No? Then let’s think - cancers? terminal brain tumor? unemployment? bankruptcy? stock market crash? hunger? pestilence? poverty? starvation? nuclear fallout? war? Global warming? experimental research on the Easter Bunny? That’s not a lump, Honey, it is just a little fat - too many kielbasa sandwiches, more than likely.
But can you believe this! Do you see what’s happening? That’s right - my wife is starting to rub off on me. She is beginning to win the battle. I sat down here today to write something depressing. I hoped to make everyone cry, or, at least, get sick to their stomachs and puke. But, instead, all that I can come up with is this light hearted dribble about disease and suicide. I’ll tell you; this makes me want to barf! I’m disgusted with myself. I might just as well go write a Christmas list, or hang some silver tinsel.
I’d really like to tell all of you little kids out there that Santa Claus is really dead. But, I have recently read that he was a secret witness for the FBI. Seems that he was involved in some political gift-giving bribery scam and the FBI has issued him a new identity. He is presently living under an assumed name in some remote sheep herding village in northern Argentina. Don’t expect him this year, boys and girls.
So, you see, nothing is working out for me today. I really don’t think that I could depress anyone. Everything that I write about is positive. I think that I will just scrap this whole article, and ask my wife to write something cheery about how it feels to be sixty. I mean, she is the one who was born on December 25th, not me. Oh well, happy birthday, honey.
So, tell me, has anyone in your family ever lived long enough to collect Social Security? And I mean lived! Laying in an iron lung for fifteen years, back in the laundry room of some Jamaican nursing home in Miami, doesn’t count.
Well, the heck with this – everything that I think of sounds just too Rudolf-like. I guess that I am just going to resign myself to directing my feet to the sunny side of the street and decking the halls with bombs of holly – I mean balls ... that’s balls of holly.
So okay, have a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Jesus Christ/Redemption

By Richard E. Noble

One aspect of “Jesus” that has always fascinated me is how mankind turned Jesus, the prophet of peace and love, into a military general who would return at the end of the world with a vengeful sword in his hand.
For decades and centuries after the death of Jesus, followers of this prophet of peace were practitioners of non-violence. If they were struck on the right cheek, even by an enemy, they would turn the left cheek also. This presented the Romans with almost as much fun as Adolf Hitler and his Nazis had with his Jews. And yet by the year 300 or so, Christians formed a significant part of the army of Constantine. How did this happen? Somehow the interpretation of the life and teaching of Jesus had changed.
As far as I can see, two major theological transformations took place. The first was that Jesus’ death on the cross was interpreted not as a political act of passive resistance by a brave and courageous prophet to the cause or principle of non-violence, but as a pre-ordained, mystical sacrifice, performed by Jesus through a divine collaboration with or within the spirit of “Godness” for the salvation of mankind. The death of Jesus would be interpreted as a sacrifice to heavenly justice to be offered to God for the sins of mankind and in particular to re-open the gates of heaven closed to mankind due to the disobedience of their Biblical parents, Adam and Eve.
Non-believers have never accepted this divinely, mystical view. Non-believers claim, for example, that the death of Jesus could no more atone for the sin of Adam or the sins of mankind in general, than a loving mother or grandmother could substitute herself in a gas chamber or electric chair in the place of her convicted, guilty son.
In other words, even if Jesus wished to sacrifice himself on behalf of sinners, even human standards of justice and fair play could not accept his offer. If man is guilty, he alone must suffer the consequences for his sins. No other man or even Son of God can “justifiably” take up this burden.
Saint Augustine did not put the sword into the hand of Jesus, “the warrior”, but he thought up the rationale for its justification.
Jesus, it is true, would not defend himself even against an enemy, Augustine admitted, BUT certainly he would not stand idly by, a witness to injustice. Jesus would, undoubtedly, come to the defense of an abused, and even defend such, against an abuser, or offender. So, even though, Jesus would allow himself to be crowned with thorns, whipped, tortured and then crucified, without lifting a “divine” finger in his own defense, he might very well be willing to bust somebody’s head open with a baseball bat if they unjustly attacked an undeserving child, for example. And thusly the Christian was redeemed from his pacifism.
Others also ask why Jesus, the savior God-man and lover of humankind, did not step in and defend the future lives of his apostles against their unjust torture and abuse; or his people, the Jews, from the Romans; or babies from disease; or mankind from death? It has been suggested that it was easier to open the gates of a fictitious heaven for eternity than cure mankind of even one real disease in the present. As Wimpy was prone to say; “I’ll gladly pay you for two hamburgers tomorrow, in exchange for one hamburger today.”
The non-believer, for centuries has also had a problem with this notion of a son being held guilty for the sins of his father. In other words, even human justice, as inferior to Divine justice as it must be, could not imprison the child of a thief as atonement for the crimes of his father. So then how can God justifiably hold the sons and daughters and future descendants of Adam and Eve responsible for the mis-deeds of their Biblical ancestors? And so then, where is the justification for atonement or redemption in the first place? The only injustice here, being the cruel and unusual punishment of God against the innocent children of Adam and Eve. Even humans have a higher standard of justice than this.
They ask how the Creator of sin, Himself, is relinquished from any responsibility in this Biblical scenario. Does God not also possess “free will”? Is He not the culprit who decided to create evil and consequently precipitate this whole horrible chain of events? And how could a loving father allow his son to be tortured to death if it were within His power to do otherwise?
This whole story is a simple case of abuse. Should not the Authority of True Justice arrest this God of Christianity and imprison Him for all time for his crimes against his own child? In addition should He, the God of Creation, not be charged also, with crimes against humanity? God could, of course, plead insanity which may be His best defense.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The National Debt with a "Noble" solution

The National Debt

With a “Noble” Solution

Richard E. Noble

A few presidents ago the National Debt was the most pressing thing that our political leaders and political hopefuls had on their minds. Ronald Reagan in his campaign for the presidency in 1980 told us all about a stack of dollar bills stretching from the planet earth to the moon. This stack of paper money was to represent the one trillion dollar mark in our advance to national bankruptcy. Our National Debt had not yet reached this benchmark in fiscal irresponsibility and Ronald Reagan was to be our knight in shining economic armor who would stop this catastrophe from happening.
Today this stack of dollar bills is probably bumping up against the planet Pluto but we hardly hear a murmur of the once prophesied impending catastrophe. I wonder why? Was the National Debt not really a legitimate problem? Was the Great Communicator merely communicating greatly or grandiosely? What the heck is the National Debt anyway?

The National Debt is the total amount that the government currently owes from all of its past borrowing. I guess that we could safely say that it is the mortgage that our governments, past and present, have borrowed on the United States of America. A budget deficit, on the other hand, is the amount by which expenditures exceed receipts in a single year. Today there is a simple way for the lay person to distinguish between these two things - the deficit is tabulated in Billions and the National Debt is now tabulated in Trillions.

In the two hundred years B.R. (before Ronald Reagan) the entire accumulated debt of all of our previous presidents amounted to 909.1 Billion dollars. So B.R., our country’s National Debt had not yet reached one trillion dollars - that stack of dollar bills had not yet reached the moon. Now, remember, that figure included all the debt accumulated from George Washington through Jimmy Carter. That 909.1 Billion dollars included all the monies borrowed for the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

By the time that Ronald Reagan left office in 1988 the National Debt was 2,601.3 Billion or 2.6 Trillion. In just eight years Ronald Reagan had more than doubled what all the previous presidents from Washington through Carter had accumulated in the prior 200 years.

Okay, let’s give Ronnie a break. Let’s kick it up a notch. Let’s go to George H. W. Bush - Number Forty-One, as he is so lovingly referred to today.

Number Forty-One is the Yale graduate who accused Ronald Reagan of advocating Voodoo economics. By the time Number Forty-One left office in 1992 the National Debt was 4,002.1 Billion or approx. 4.0 Trillion dollars. If Ronald Reagan was practicing Voodoo, one must hesitate to ask what Number Forty One’s economic principles were based on. And, you know, these presidents today have a Council of Economic Advisers. The only problem with the Council of Economic Advisers is that when a Council member disagrees with the president or speaks out publicly against a president’s economic policy, he suddenly finds himself in search of a new Council to counsel.

But this is all beginning to sound like Republican bashing. Let’s go to B. J. Clinton. In my neighborhood B. J. stood for something other than Billy Jefferson, but we won’t get into that. So B. J. came into office in 1992 and by the time that he left, the National Debt was 5,606.1 Billion or 5.6 Trillion dollars. So Reagan gave us 2.6 Trillion, Number Forty-One gave us 4.0 Trillion, and B. J. gave us 5.6 Trillion.

Everyone says that what B. J. accomplished was good. Well, when it is compared to what Ronnie and Number Forty-One did, I suppose? Sounds to me like saying; Well, my Grandfather was hanged, my Daddy got the electric chair and now I’m serving life in prison. Guess that I am doing better than they did, huh? - I suppose, but most of us wouldn’t consider life in prison all that much of an accomplishment.

Today we have Bush Number Forty-Three.

Number Forty-Three has the debt up to somewhere between 7 and 8 Trillion. It is estimated that by the time that Number Forty-Three leaves office the National Debt will be somewhere around 10 Trillion dollars - give or take a Trillion. Like some famous politician once said; “A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you’re talking some real money.” Billions no longer matter, it’s trillions now.
So there you go. And what does this all mean?

I was listening to one economist on the TV the other day and he said;

“Economically, we are like the man who just jumped off the top of a one hundred storey building. The falling man passes the eightieth storey and a guy sticks his head out of a window and screams to the falling man; ‘How’s everything going?’
‘Everything is O.K. so far,’ the falling man replies.”

But, let’s not be pessimistic about this - you know - is the glass half-empty or is it half-full. Let us be “half-full” about all of this. It does no good to be half-empty because we are a lot worse off than half-empty. If we were only half-empty that would mean that we would still have something in our glass. At 10 Trillion dollars in debt we don’t even have a glass anymore. But whatever - let’s be positive.

Some politicians claim that the National Debt doesn’t really matter because it is money that we owe to ourselves. So even when the federal government just pays the interest on the National Debt it is infusing dollars into our economy - like giving a tax cut to the rich. But since Reagan, unfortunately, this is no longer true.

Before Reagan our government’s borrowing was financed by Americans. After Reagan our National Debt became so enormous that Americans didn’t have enough money to finance the Government’s borrowing - so we borrowed from foreign countries. Or would it be more economic to say that we sold our debt to foreign countries. In other words, we sold the mortgage, or foreigners bought our mortgage. Now countries like Saudi Arabia, Japan, China, the U.K etc. own a good part of our mortgage. If in the last few decades, it has appeared to you that your government has been acting like a foreign country, this may be a part of the reason.

But certainly, one day, we will pay off this mortgage and the American people will once again own their country?

This does not even seem to be in the realm of possibility. Politicians talk of balancing the budget as they did in the year 1999 for the first time in many decades. By the way, this supposed surplus that we had, momentarily, was only accomplished by pilfering money from the Social Security Trust Fund. Excess monies had been accumulated in the Social Security Trust Fund because of an increase in the Social Security tax in 1983. An increase was mandated to compensate for the baby boomers.

From that year on, the Social Security had a surplus but everybody from Reagan to Clinton used the Social Security surpluses for other general fund spending purposes.
Balancing the budget - or having a year in which the government does not produce a deficit by spending more money than it receives - only manages to pay the interest on the National Debt. A balanced budget pays nothing on the principal or the debt itself. In order to pay down the debt itself, the government must create a surplus - spend less money than what it takes in every year. And then use those surplus monies to buy back Debt (treasury bonds).

Is this a possibility? Seems not. I have never heard a politician in my lifetime talk of paying down the principal on the National Debt. The political answer to the National Debt seems to be like our policy towards gays in the military - don’t ask; don’t tell.

So, I was thinking, why don’t we sell all of our mortgage to foreign countries and then claim bankruptcy. The only way these countries could get their money is if they have a bigger army than ours.

Or maybe these foreign countries who own our debt would forgive our debt like the World Bank sometimes does for under-developed countries - or like we did after World War II for a number of countries. But, of course, this is all ridiculous - we’re the richest country in the world, remember? Well, if we are the richest country in the world, why don’t we just pay everybody off?

Because we don’t have the money. So we are the richest country in the world but we don’t have the money to pay our debts - our mortgage anyway. I have many friends who are rich in a similar manner. How can we be rich and, at the same time, be the biggest debtor nation in the world? Are we rich, or aren’t we?

But don’t despair, I have more realistic solutions to this problem than depending on the charity of the rest of the world. I wouldn’t expect or hold my hope out for a European Marshall Plan for the U.S.A. either folks. My solutions are dynamic and they don’t involve raising taxes.

Today we have approximately 200 million working people, or tax paying people in America. These 200 million people pay about 1.2 trillion dollars in taxes each year. If we can increase the working population of the United States about 10 times its present number and we tax them all at the present rate, we would have a national income of 10 or 11 trillion a year. So then, if we could get our government to put one trillion aside each year, we could pay off the National Debt in about 10 or 11 years. I admit, this solution has its problems but, come on - is the glass half-empty or is it half-full? This would take care of any Social Security short fall also, I might add.

My second idea is even better. We don’t need any new taxes or new workers. This idea is a classic.

We simply continue with Number Forty-Three’s borrow and spend policies. As all of us economists know this can do nothing but increase the rate of inflation - but that’s good. If we can get the inflation rate to rise faster than the rate at which Number Forty-Three and his successors can borrow, one day we will have more pieces of paper with pictures of dead presidents on them than we have debt to pay.

This is that same idea that they told you about a few years ago. Remember they said; Buy yourself a big house that you can barely afford now, and pay off your balloon mortgage – twenty years later - with cheap, inflated money from your naturally escalating high paying job.

The Germans tried this print-more-money idea after World War I. It worked real well. They had a few minor problems. Like trying to figure out how many wheelbarrows full of paper money it would take to buy a loaf of bread. But so what, I mean, look at Germany today? They’re doing all right.

So there you go - is the glass half-empty or is it half-full. What me worry? Just call me Alfred E. Newman. To tell you the truth when I look at the past illegal immigration rate and the true rate of inflation over the last few decades, I think that my two suggestions are the government’s plan - or has been anyway. In 1974 I bought a Chevy van for $3,400, today a similar van sells for $34,000. I think that the inflation rate has been somewhat greater than the presently claimed 2.2%.

My advise to the next two generations of Americans is - buy wheelbarrows.

I have one other idea.

When the government spends more than it collects every year - it borrows. It prints up Treasury Notes and Bonds etc. Then it has the Federal Reserve - its personal banker - sell them to Americans and foreigner investors and foreign countries, at a specified interest rate. This is what makes our National Debt. This puts the government in a catch-22 situation. It can’t raise taxes - nobody likes that. It can’t charge tariffs on products coming into the country and put the cost of our government onto foreign countries and foreign manufactures. It could do this, especially when one considers that we now import 80% of what is sold here domestically - but it can’t, because we believe in “free trade”. Besides, most of our imports are from American based companies who went over seas to avoid paying taxes and hire cheaper labor in the fist place. Raising tariff rates would spoil their whole plan. So then how else could the government earn some money to pay its bills?

It could rent out rooms at the White House - but that is how we finance our political campaigns. So what can the government do?

Well, how about just printing up so much money every year and buying back some reasonable portion of our debt, without going through the debt making process of selling Treasury Notes, Bonds and Bills etc. via the Federal Reserve?

The first thing that everybody yells and screams about this idea is that it is inflationary. Yeah? And borrowing and creating more debt via the Federal Reserve and selling our country to China is better and un-inflationary? I suggest that we pass a law allowing only a certain percentage to be printed up in this manner - taking into consideration GNP and Inflation and the predictable population and economic growth.

The second problem with this idea is that it is against the Constitution. Yeah! So who gives a flying flip? This hasn’t stopped the last five or seven administrations from doing anything. Why should it stop us on anything as important as this? Besides, the Constitution on this particular point could very easily be reinterpreted - we wouldn’t even be forced to change anything or seek a Constitutional Amendment.
The next complaint with this idea is that when the American people and the other nations of the world find out about this shenanigans they will lose faith in our government.

I don’t think so - no one understands economics anyway. And if you think that will be the case, don’t tell them. As the debt miraculously goes down gradually every year, just tell everybody that it is because of good business management on the part of that particular administration - cook the books; or just add it to the total of taxes collected, nobody will know the difference; or tell everybody that it is a miracle. Everybody believes in miracles these days. When the press investigates and discovers that what is happening is economically impossible - just lie to them, like we do on everything else. What is the problem here?

As for the American people? What the heck do they care? They’re too busy trying to make a living to start trying to comprehend economics - least of all the Federal Reserve System. And need I point out that at this point in world economics – if the U.S. currency fails – the entire world economy fails. U.S. dollars are now used around the world in place of Gold. The U.S. dollar is today’s gold.

The bottom line is this: Printing money and skipping the Federal Reserve will no doubt create some inflation. But, using that money to buy back Treasury Bonds (Debt.) will be anti-inflationary. On the one hand, we are printing money to put into circulation, but using it to take money out of circulation by reclaiming debt on the other. If it is done properly - with due diligence - the one will cancel out the other and America will one day be debt free and it will cost nobody anything. This will not be a loss or gain - it will simply be a monetary transfer. We will transfer a bunch of one type of paper for another type of paper. If it is done right, nobody will know the difference. And if we want to add an additional check on inflation, when we start buying back our treasury bonds from the Federal Reserve with our “free paper”, temporarily raise the required reserve security demands. In other words, if the banks are required to hold 10% in reserve - raise that requirement to 12% or whatever. Then as time goes on and we see that inflation is under control, lower the requirement.

The last criticism that I can think of is that this idea would be putting trust in our government to do the right thing and keep things under control. In other words, somebody has to be sure that they don’t print up too much money every year. So set up an oversight committee - with the Federal Reserve Board, if that will make you happy. They will not like the basic idea in the first place - but they will just have to deal with it. As it is now, they (the Banks) are the only ones who profit from this National Debt business - so they like it; but if the debt is allowed to continue growing, it will mean possible bankruptcy for them and everybody else. As it is now the only hope for the world economy is continued projected economic growth, coupled with reasonable inflation. Today we have inflation and debt. With this suggestion we will still have the inflation - but we will eliminate the debt. And it is the Debt that will eventually kill us, not the inflation. The world can live with a controlled inflation - it has for centuries. And if this is done correctly we will have no more inflation than what is currently being created. Besides, there aren’t any good choices here; you can trust your government or you can trust the Federal Reserve and the International Banking community.

As I said earlier, facetiously, Germany did this but failed and bankrupted their country after World War I. But the Germans wanted to bankrupt their currency. They didn’t want to pay off their war debts and the smart money wanted to turn the middle class against the occupation government. So they simply printed up paper until it filled wheelbarrows. They did not use due diligence and have proper controls. They didn’t care. What they did was not a accident. It was a planned bankruptcy. You can be sure that the big boys in German currency had all their cash in something other than the Mark. Of course, there is the possibility that our National Debt is also planned. The design of the plan being to keep the general population thinking that they are broke, so that they won’t be suggesting any “free” social programs for the “welfare” state. I mean, you must have noticed that no matter how large the National Debt, we always have enough money for another war.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Income Tax

“The Great Tax Wars”

By Steven R. Weisman

Book Review

By Richard E. Noble

“Politics: a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles; the conduct of public affairs for private advantage.” Ambrose Bierce.

Considering the above cynical definition as accurate, it is difficult then to imagine under what circumstances any democratic nation would ever agree to an “income tax” burdening a majority of citizens. If self-interest and perverse private advantage were the goals then a general income tax would certainly appear to be convoluted.
On one particular occasion I was talking to a “better off’ friend of mine and he informed me that he and the majority of his friends were not opposed to paying income tax but, on the contrary, considered it a “privilege”. On another occasion I heard Steve Allen, the comedian, say that he felt that he wasn’t paying enough taxes when he considered all of the benefits that he was receiving from this society. I wasn’t sure whether he was serious or making a joke.
Other than those two individuals what I have heard from Americans with regards to income tax - and taxes in general - has not been so gracious.
If I had been forced to guess under what presidential administration the nefarious “income tax” was enacted, I would have guessed that it happened under the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration - and probably in his first term. I would think this because in 1932 the nation was in big trouble - the Depression was raging. With a Great Depression raging one could presume that there would be a great majority of lesser-off when compared to better-off and in such a situation it would not be surprising that the majority of lesser-off in a democracy would vote themselves a share of what made the “better off” better off. But I was wrong.
Income Tax found its first proponents in Abraham Lincoln and his Treasury Secretary, Salmon Chase - Republicans. The bottom line was that there was a war going on and somebody had to pay for it. The Federal Treasury was dwindling, gold reserves were being depleted and the banks were beginning to wonder who was actually going to win this war - banks want to side with the winners of wars not the losers. Some type of tax was necessary. On July 1, 1862, Lincoln signed the first income tax in the History of the United States.
In the 1850s 92% of the Federal governments revenue came from tariffs placed on imported goods. The logic was that tariffs placed on imported goods not only protected and encouraged domestic industry but in addition protected American workers - there were even surpluses during times of high tariffs.
But as war costs escalated and tariffs grew - the price of goods skyrocketed and even with no Ralph Nader, the consumers began to scream.
Now the tariff argument took on a negative spin - tariffs were filling the pockets of the super wealthy and the war profiteers. Consumer prices were rising, manufactures’ profits were rising, and wages were not. The workers and the poor were fighting the war; spilling their blood on the battlefields and being worked to death in the factories while the rich industrialists and capitalist were raking in huge profits. Lincoln “the rail splitter” was also a railroad lawyer for the new corporate America - and was filling the pockets of the wealthy with railroad track bonuses, cheap government land and no bid contracts.
The Federal government tried every way to raise money but the poor didn’t have any; the workers were earning so little that they couldn’t buy anything and pay the tariffs; the businessmen and bankers didn’t want to make loans or buy bonds being issued by a country that was at war with itself and so the income tax was looking better and better.
The first year of the war had cost 530 million. In February of 1862 The Legal Tender Act was passed and the Federal Government began issuing “greenbacks” - paper money with no gold backing - though most agreed that it was unconstitutional because printing paper money had nothing to do with Congress’s right to “coin money”. Prior to the Revolutionary War, there had been paper money failures that turned the colonialists against paper money and supposedly this precipitated the “coin money” clause in the Constitution. But Constitutional or not it was deemed necessary.
When an income tax was finally passed it was 3% on incomes over 600 dollars per year and 5% on incomes over 10,000 dollars per year. Even with a bottom of $600 very few Americans had to pay this new tax. It was primarily a tax on the wealthy and the super wealthy. The idea that the rich should pay higher income taxes was a first in U.S. tax law.
The argument against the income tax and especially the progressive nature of the tax was that it was merely a confiscation of the wealth of the minority on behalf of the more populous majority; it was a tax on the rich to punish the rich for being rich. The rich liked the tariff much better - everybody paid the tariff.
Those who favored income tax and its progressive nature “saw wealth less as the product of hard work and conscientious ingenuity but as a product of good luck, exploitation of others, political favoritism, and predatory conduct toward rivals. The income tax could be used as a tool to promote equity and curb the power of great wealth over government.”
The Civil War had cost both sides nearly 5 billion and left the new nation with a National Debt of 3 billion.
After the war the opposition to the income tax did not arise from the “masses” but from the ranks of the super wealthy. By the 1870 less than 100,000 Americans paid the income tax and by 1872 the income tax was gone.
It is estimated that the income tax during the Civil War never affected more than 10% of the Union population and some estimates as low as 1%.
The war had enhanced the ranks of the super wealthy a hundred fold or more but the debt would be left to the citizens who would pay the tariffs and whatever other taxes of a less progressive nature the government could devise.
“…the income tax was gone. Its abolition had one more important and lasting effect. That was to guarantee that the Federal Debt, which had been incurred to preserve the Union for all citizens, would now have to be retired largely by the working classes and farmers. The fact that the American debt - its bonds, notes and other forms of loans - was owned by the wealthiest Americans meant that the taxpayers of modest means were working to pay off the investments of the richest taxpayers. As the tax historian Sidney Ratner notes, the Civil War debt ‘became one of the most powerful instruments in America for the enrichment of the rentier class, the leading capitalists.’ For the next forty years, farmers, workers, small merchants and other working class Americans carried this debt burden, to the benefit of the rich.”

Ah yes, and it does seems that nothing has changed.

After the war and the removal of the income tax, the tariff came back with a vengeance. But as the rich grew richer and the poor grew poorer the debate of tariff vs. income tax became prevalent once again.
Being anti-income tax was a bipartisan issue - both wealthy Democrats and wealthy Republicans were against it. Today we know that one sixtieth of the population in those days owned over two thirds of the wealth and three quarters of American families were not worth more than $600. In another estimate it was suggested that only 9 families owned 71% of America’s wealth.
William Jennings Bryan, “the Great Commoner” spoke for the income tax and Burke Cockran and Senator Nelson Aldrich and a host of others from the ranks of the rich and famous spoke against the income tax. Senator David Bennett Hill, a democrat from New York submitted a list of 23 amendments to modify or defeat the tax. “The income tax,” he said, was a product of little squads of anarchists, communists and socialists bringing their pernicious ideas from across the ocean to American shores.” We were already into the “Cold War” mentality.
The argument was put to rest temporarily when the Supreme Court decided that an income tax law passed by the legislature of Massachusetts was unconstitutional. The case that came before the Court was Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan and Trust Co. On this particular issue Conservatives were not against “legislating from the Bench” but the Liberals were.
But with the onset of America’s next war at the turn of the century the need for money and the demand for sacrifices from the wealthy was renewed. McKinley’s Treasury was once again depleted due to shenanigans of J. P. Morgan and friends manipulating a gold crisis during the Cleveland administration. Tariffs were taken to a new high - averaging 57%. The new higher tariffs only succeeded in stifling imports and lowering federal revenues - but nevertheless all attempts at reinstituting an income tax failed.
The argument raged on through McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt and Taft. The progressives along with labor and the new socialists argued for the income tax. They claimed that the wealthy and the super wealthy were being exempted from paying their fair share while the poor and middle class were picking up the whole burden via conventional taxing policies and inflation. The rich and wealthy argued that the whole idea was nothing but Anarchism and Socialism. Income tax was a singling out and a punishment on the few for working hard and becoming prosperous - it was simply social prejudice.
By the time we get to Wilson the arguments had gotten more sophisticated. Senator Borar suggested that the rich needed to understand that a more equitable tax system would protect their own livelihoods against the dangers of class resentment. On the other side men like John D. Rockefeller argued that “... when a man has accumulated a sum of money within the law, that is to say, in the legally correct way, the people no longer have any right to share in the earnings resulting from the accumulation.” Another interesting argument against the income tax was that taxing the rich inhibited their desire to contribute to charitable causes.
Even though the Federal Supreme Court had ruled against the income tax, they nevertheless left that option open to the individual states. And the income tax was then pursued on a state level by legislation and by amendment to state constitutions if necessary.
Wisconsin was the first to adopt a permanent income tax in 1911. A corporate income tax - interpreted by the Supreme Court to be an excise tax on the privilege of doing business in a corporate capacity and not an income tax - was passed and several states passed estate taxes. The national mood was changing.
It wasn’t until the controversial election of 1912 and the success of Woodrow Wilson and a Democratic takeover of both houses that an amendment permitting income taxes was ratified. Wyoming in February of 1913 became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the sixteenth amendment. On Feb. 25, 1913 the Sixteenth Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution:

“The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

Though it was now legal to pass a federal income tax it was left up to the Wilson administration and the legislature to devise one that was acceptable. The first income tax passed affected less than 4% of all Americans. It began with a 1% tax on incomes above $20,000 and climbed to 6% on income above $500,000.
Before the outbreak of World War I the U.S. still collected more than 90% of its revenues from tariffs and excise taxes but with the spending on the war that would change.
With the war, imports plummeted and federal revenues went into the red. But as the war progressed exports skyrocketed and profits went through the roof. But wages didn’t follow with the raging profits and the soaring prices. The workers became resentful, agitated and rebellious. Some called the situation “industrial feudalism”.
Countries involved in the war even began adopting an “excess profits” tax - in Briton the excess profits tax actually reached a rate of 60%. Business was seen on the positive as the driving engine of military might but on the negative as a vicious bloodsucker squeezing unreasonable profits out of the horrible struggle of war.
With the advent of World War I and then with American participation, the tax arguments took a patriotic twist. It was commonly accepted knowledge that the rich had profited from the Civil War and that the American people had picked up the bill via national debt and inflation. There was a strong push to change this situation in World War I - with income taxes on the wealthy, excess profit taxes on the corporations an the general population supposedly ready to “bear any burden and undergo any sacrifice’ according to president Wilson.
The reality was that World War I had greater resistance than any war yet in American History. As during the Vietnam Era the country became divided against itself. But the basic argument that the rich and prosperous should, at the least, pay while the poor and average fought was fairly standard among the overall population. Of course the rich saw it otherwise. Conservatives screamed of communism and socialism “... we shall no more hear the nonsense that this is a ‘capitalistic’ war, waged for the benefit of the men of capital. It is a poor man’s war, waged at the expense of capital, and one of its collateral efforts will be to diffuse wealth.”
Income taxes soared up to as high as 77% and excess profit taxes up to 65%. The new war had been waged and funded with taxes and bonds sales to the general public - “Liberty Bonds”. The taxes paid for about a third of the cost of the war. Selling bonds to the middle class was considered to be fairer than had been the case during the Civil War and with this new tax system the tariff system disappeared.
Out of a work force of 106 million in 1920 only 5.5 million paid income taxes - and only a fraction of the wealthiest of these accounted for a majority of the revenue received. By 1930 two thirds of federal revenue came from income and corporate taxes. The fairness or unfairness of this system has been one of the main points of controversy in the American economic philosophy ever since.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hard Work?

What is it?

By Richard E. Noble

What is “hard work”? My experiences in “talking” about hard work are that it always ends up in a debate; and the usual result of the conversation is the diplomatic conclusion that “everybody who works, works hard”. I don’t agree. All work isn’t “hard work”. The world needs a definition of “hard work” as opposed to “work work” or “just another day at the office” work or “devising a theory of relativity” work or even “good work”.
Oprah Winphrey recently said that she thinks that she may be the hardest working black woman in America - I think that she said this in response to a supposed claim made by James Brown some time in the past, that he was the hardest working black man in America.
John D. Rockefeller was the richest man in the world; yet I’ve read that he carried a brown paper bag lunch to “work” with him everyday and sat at his desk to eat it. He claimed that he “worked hard”.
Many years ago I read where the government was trying to devise a comparable pay scale trying to equate the stenographers pool with the motor poor. I don’t think that they were successful.
I have always associated hard work with “the Old Man River” notion - you know, “tote that barge and lift that bale”. In my very brief experience in studying physics I learned that “work” as defined by physics involved moving something - lifting, carrying, humping, huffing, puffing, digging, bending, rowing, pulling, dragging, chopping, pounding, scrapping, picking, climbing ... these things mean “work” to me. Sweating is often a part of working hard. When we say something is easy, we say - no sweat. That’s right - if you are not sweating - it can’t be considered all that hard or “hard work”. But on the other hand just because you are sweating while doing something, it does not follow that you are necessarily performing some sort of “hard work” - for example having sex in a sauna or relaxing in a tanning salon.
In my life I have had jobs that I didn’t want to do; that I hated to do; that I didn’t want to get up and go to each morning but many of these jobs weren’t hard. Some of them were very, very easy - I just didn’t like doing them which made them very, very difficult…
On the other hand, I have had jobs that were extremely challenging and terribly physical - but I liked doing them. But even though I liked doing them, they were still hard. They were “hard work”. And anybody who tried to do one of these jobs would admit that it involved “hard work”. So what is hard work?
When I started out in the restaurant business; I was the dishwasher at a very busy restaurant. Being the dishwasher at this particular restaurant involved bending, scrubbing, pushing, moving, standing, humping - and at the end of a long evening dragging a huge garbage can through the kitchen, out the back door, down some steps, across a parking lot, then hefting it up to a height above my head and dumping it into a big dumpster. It was hard work.
Six months later, I was managing that restaurant. As a manager I often worked eighty to a hundred hours a week. It was a long, tiresome, fatiguing job. I considered it difficult and challenging but doing the dishes was harder work. There is no doubt in my mind. Eventually I got paid three or four times the dishwasher’s salary to be the manager; but as the dishwasher I worked harder. As the manager, I did a lot of thinking, planning and organizing - but that was not like humping, hefting, and scrubbing.
In my working career I have done farm work of all kinds. I picked oranges, apples, peaches, grapes, cherries; I’ve dug holes for construction companies; I’ve tonged oysters, drove a delivery truck, unloaded freight cars, picked cucumbers and humped sides of beef. On the other hand I’ve studied books at a University; I’ve managed businesses; I’ve worked as a reporter and journalist; I’ve published my own small newspaper; I’ve written and published my own books and I’ve owned and operated my own small retail businesses. All of these jobs were difficult and challenging - but they weren’t all “hard work”. They were all work. I did them all for a salary or a paycheck or a profit - or no profit. But they weren’t all equally hard or “hard work”.
I can still manage a restaurant; I can still write a book - but I can’t make a days pay tonging oysters or picking oranges or unloading freight cars. I might be able to wash the dishes in a not so busy restaurant - but I could never do what I did back forty years ago at that busy restaurant in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida - You know that place where all the rich people live. I remember working at that job for one hundred hours and taking home one hundred dollars.
I think what you get paid for doing something also reflects on its “hardness” or softness. Any job seems to be much harder if you feel that you are being underpaid; and conversely even a very difficult job seems like “no sweat” if you feel that you are being well compensated. Interesting to note - no one is ever “overpaid”. We are all often underpaid but no one is ever overpaid. We are compensated fairly, well compensated, sufficiently rewarded; even John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and today’s Oprah Winphry feel that they are “justly” compensated or rewarded but never have any of them ever been “overpaid”. I have never been “overpaid” myself - as I see it.
I have also had the experience of doing the same work but with different people or in different locations and in one instance the job is rather easy and in another quite difficult.
I have also found that wanting to do something and being forced to do something contribute to the rate of difficulty or “hardness”.
I have always liked the story of the runaway slave who was captured and brought before the judge. After questioning the slave the judge summed up what he had learned; “So you have admitted that your owner was a kind man; you have testified that he always treated you fairly; you have told us that you have never been beaten or abused; nor were you ever starved or not fed or clothed properly. What I can not understand is why you ran away.”
“Well, Your Honor, as I understand, the position is still available if you would like to apply,” the slave responded.
Another thing that makes a job difficult in my opinion is the fact that this job is all that you are capable of doing, it has no future, and you can’t do any better - either because you don’t have the education, you don’t have the legal status or you lack the ability either mental or physical. In other words this is as far as you can go in this life. You have hit your glass ceiling, your education ceiling, or your natural ability ceiling or your credit card ceiling. This circumstance can make almost any job “hard”.
So, hard work has to do with physical effort, sweat, amount of pay, freedom of choice, environment, co-workers, and hope for the future. So if you are working in this dirty, horrid, filthy location, lifting and humping your ass off for no money, for some abusive SOB, at a job with no future that you can’t afford to quit because you will starve to death if you don’t have the money, and nobody working around you cares or feels that you deserve any better position than what you have - you are working hard.
I don’t think that John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie or Oprah Winfrey qualify under any of the above criteria for “hard work” ... sorry.

Monday, November 20, 2006

William Jefferson Clinton
(President from 1992-200 1)

Biographical Essay

By Richard E. Noble
Bill Clinton has the unique distinction of being the first president ever in the history of the United States to be younger than me. God, I hate that! I am of the generation who vowed never to trust anybody over thirty. Now I don’t trust anyone who is not over sixty five. He is also the first Democratic president since F.D.R. to be elected for a second term. Clinton was definitely not one of our X-war hero/general presidents. I am sure that he was probably “shot down” many times in Europe and more than likely by any number of little “spit-fires”, but none of this won him the Distinguished Cross though I am sure it “wounded” his pride on several different occasions. Bill Clinton is also the first president to get a blow-job in the oval office (and possibly the Red Room, Blue Room, and Green Room) and while still engaged in conversation on the telephone. (I wonder who he was talking to? Probably Hilary.) He was obviously not the first person to look the American people in the eye and lie (I wonder? Could he have been getting a blow job at that time also? Wow, something to think about, isn’t it?). Lying is really a very old presidential political tradition.
Clinton also has to be the first president to be investigated for his entire eight years as president (Travelgate, Whitewater, Lewinski etc.). I always wondered what this was all about. His presidency is unique in that he didn’t get caught doing something that then led to an investigation. He was always being investigated in order to try and get him caught doing anything that might lead to an investigation. And like his democratic predecessor, Jimmy Carter, he may have brought it all onto himself by inviting a special prosecutor’s investigation all the while proclaiming - Bring ‘em on. I Have nothing to hide - Gary Heart the second.
We could look at Clinton as one in a long line of the Hatfield and McCoy vendetta that has been going on between the Right and Left in American politics since George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. But without going that far back, let’s just review slightly.
While Bill was championing the leftist, anti-Vietnam war position on his Rhodes scholarship to Oxford in England, his future bride was serving as one of the new young Turk-ettes investigating, and digging up dirt for the Independent counselors working on the Richard Nixon Watergate scandal.
The Watergate scandal, stems back to Nixon’s active participation in the McCarthy investigations. Bernstein, of the infamous Woodward and Bernstein, watched his dad’s legal and political career go down the drain at the hands of Nixon, McCarthy, Cohn and the boys. Bernstein’s father was a promising young lawyer who defended many a “communist” at those now very questionable hearings. Bernstein’s dad ended up owning and operating a dry cleaners in an unsubstantial neighborhood around D.C, or Baltimore, as opposed to his probable aspirations as a famous something or other in the Democratic Party.
McCarthyism stems back to the World War II battles between the Communists and the Nazis. In our own country those who leaned towards the Fascist or Nazi dictators were “right”. Those who leaned towards Stalin and Marxist Socialism were “left”. McCarthy-ism was really a “rightist” tactic to get the Government diverted from the “pro-Communist” and anti-Nazi leanings of the never ending Roosevelt and Truman administrations.
Clinton, while under continuous and constant legal scrutiny and investigation, along with sporadic but seemingly ceaseless sexual encounter, somehow managed to preside over THE most successful period of economic prosperity in the history of U.S. Government. Every biography that I have read mentions this fact in one way or another. So I presume that it is true or at least undeniable. This leads one to wonder, was it the constant investigation or the ceaseless sexual engagement? Like Lincoln in regards to Grant’s Whiskey drinking (Send all my other Generals a case) I’m inclined to send all of our future presidents a “case” of Monica. If it were the investigating that provided the positive economic stimulus then I would presume that Nixon would have done considerably better. Therefore the results of my scientific investigations and research conclude that presiding presidents clearly need a blow job every now and then in order to boost economic prosperity. I don’t know if it is necessary that they be engaged in telephone conversation at the time, but this could be studied in the future.
Clinton also becomes the second president in U.S. History to be impeached. For whatever reasons Richard Nixon lost that honor because the Republicans at that time felt that impeachment proceedings would hamper the necessary operation of the Government. I guess that at the time of the Clinton Administration the Republicans felt that the government was doing well enough to withstand an impeachment process. It is also interesting to note that Republicans felt that this impeachment for Clinton was permissible even when they knew that they didn’t have the votes to sustain it in the Senate, but in the case of Nixon where it was a sure thing in the House and the Senate they decided that the American people and Government couldn’t withstand the disgrace.
Andrew Johnson is the only other president to undergo an impeachment proceeding. He was also impeached but not put out of office. He was also a Democrat who was being challenged by right wing extremists. Clinton’s childhood background leads me to only one conclusion - Clinton was poor, white, southern, trailer trash. His mother was married to a traveling salesman who turned out to be a bigamist. His step father owned a used car lot, drank excessively and beat his wife. Bill, it seems, had to physically protect his mother on occasions. His mother went to school nights and eventually became a nurse. This is a pretty sorry background for a president of the United States I suppose, but we had others. Andrew Johnson and Andrew Jackson both come immediately to mind. All three of these presidents had very strong Right-wing opposition, and all three stood up to the challenge, and all three were “good ole boys” from the South.
Jackson was as tough as nails, but common folk loved and admired him. Johnson was also as tough as nails but he was not so loved or admired. He had a real hard go, but eventually was re-elected to the Senate and was welcomed back to the floor with flowers and cheers from his fellow Senators and the gallery.
For Bill Clinton and his Mrs., we all know, to the distress of many, that it ain’t over, ‘till it’s over. Mrs. Clinton has already returned to Washington as a Senator. And Bill, “America’s first Black president”, as I heard him referred to on TV by a black man at a black political forum, has opened some kind of political office in Harlem. Yes, HARLEM.
To tell the truth, I don’t really believe that Bill Clinton is black. I’m for an investigation.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mien Kampf

Chapter 6

By Richard E. Noble

In chapter nine of Mein Kampf, Adolf meets his initial backers, and eventually becomes a member of the ‘German Worker’s Party’. The two hopefuls who were attempting to start this party were Anton Drexler, ‘a simple and sickly man who had been declared unfit for military service’, and an advocate of nationalism for the German worker, and Herr Harrer, a journalist.
Adolf was still homeless at this time, living in an army barracks feeding the rats every morning pieces of his left over bread. Adolf clearly had little respect for this German Workers’ Party but in his humble way he decided to bestow on them his divinely inspired greatness and potential leadership.
“… I had been accepted as a member of the German Workers’ Party ... I was actually more than astonished at this manner of winning members [He had to come to a meeting and explaine to the other members why he wished to be a member of their group.] and I did not know whether to be annoyed or to laugh at it. I was just about to send the gentlemen my written reply, when curiosity gained the upper hand and I decided to appear on the day fixed in order to define my reasons orally ... Terrible, terrible; this was club making of the worst kind and manner. And this club I was now to join?”
To Adolf this was a group of inept, poor stumble bums. It almost seems ludicrous, Adolf Hitler, already a legend in his own mind - certainly a man of classist, elitist mentality - joining the German Workers Party. Adolf was certainly no worker in his mind. These people were simple stupid peasants or workers, but to whom would he go? The intellectual crowd certainly didn’t and wouldn’t accept him. He didn’t have any money; therefore he couldn’t start his campaign at the local country club. He spoke the words of the peasants. He had the attitude of a street fighter. He had the prejudices of the poor and uneducated. He didn’t like the college crowd, and felt rejected by the wealthy. What could he do but stoop to the level of the poor, but stupid working class. He appears to me to be a kind of a poor, homeless, broke William F. Buckley. But he was only William F. Buckley on the inside, on the outside he was more of a Jimmy Hoffa, or Jimmy Breslin type personality, rough, gruff, and out-spoken.
“... I do not belong to those who start something one day in order to end it again the next day ... I knew that for me this would be a decision forever ... Even in those days I had always had an instinctive aversion to people who start something without, however, also carrying it out; I loathed these jacks of all trades. I considered the activity of these people worse than doing nothing.”
And we already know what he thought of those who did nothing.
“… The longer I tried to think about it, the more the conviction grew in my mind that just here, out of such a small movement, some day the rise of the nation could be prepared, but never from the political parliamentarian parties which clung much too much to the old ideas or even shared the advantages of the new regime. For what was to be announced now was a new view of life and not a new election slogan ... that I had no means and was poor seemed to me the most easily endurable, but it was more difficult that I simply belonged to the great crowd of nameless people, that I was one among the millions who are allowed to continue to live by sheer accident, or who are called from life again without even their surroundings condescending to take notice of it. To this came the difficulty which was bound to result from my lack of schools ... To these ‘educated’ ones the greatest empty-head, provided he is only wrapped in a sufficient number of certificates, is worth more than even the most clever boy who does not possess these priceless paper bags …”
So Adolf would stoop to take this simple group of working peasants to greatness by bestowing upon them the wonder and graceful benevolence of his leadership, and he would show those rich, wealthy, and educated who would reject him, what a foolish mistake it was on their part not to recognize his greatness just because he had no money and no education.
“… in those days I still believed people to be better than they unfortunately are, for the greater part, in sober reality. This, of course, as everywhere else, lights up the exceptions much more brightly. Thus I learned to distinguish all the more between the eternal ‘pupils’ and the really competent …”
So by lingering in the camp of the poor, stupid worker, he realized how brightly his lamp glowed, and thus it was really a good experience for one such as him to be cloaked by the circumstance of capricious life, in the temporary garb of the lowly.
“... Thus I registered as a member of the German Workers’ Party and received a provisional membership ticket with the number seven ...”
Lucky number seven!? And what a lucky break for Germany and the world at large.
Vanity! Ego! Self indulgence! All too human and very undemonesque. Adolf, like many a man living under a bridge somewhere today, along with most of you and I, thinks of himself in terms of unfulfilled greatness. Oh but someday ... Oh but someday, the world will hear from me! And then will they ever be ... sorry!

Friday, November 10, 2006

My Little Friend



When I was little, I had a friend.

We said that we would be friends,
… until the end.

We didn’t lie.

And when he died,
… I cried and I cried
… and I cried.

Richard E. Noble

Monday, October 30, 2006

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

A Memoir

By Richard E. Noble
The phone rang in our little kitchen. We lived in a tiny apartment in Lawrence, Massachusetts. I spent the first twenty seven years of my life there. It was a mill town with layer after layer of blue collar tenement houses. My mother rarely answered the phone. It was usually never for her but someone calling for one of us kids. We all rushed to her side, ready to grab the phone when she said for whom the call was actually intended. But we were all stopped short, as she hung onto the receiver and began to speak;
“Yes, I know who you are, Bobby. Yes, I know that it is your brother, John, who is running for president.”
“What the ...? Who are you talking to Ma?”
“She’s talking to Bobby; you know Johnny’s brother.” We all laughed, as she went on as if she were talking to one of our school chums.
“Yes, I realize that tomorrow is Election Day ... Oh yes, I certainly intend to vote for your brother. I understand ... Yes, I certainly will ... I will ... I will! I’m going to be there the first thing in the morning. I wish you and your brother the best of luck ... Oh, don’t you worry Bobby; you have my vote.”
Bobby Kennedy had called our house the night before his brother was elected President of the United States.
J.F.K was one of us.
An Irish Catholic, Massachusetts boy, was going for the presidency. This was as close to home as it could get; our little State, our maligned faith, our dumpy neighborhood, our blue collar apartment in the inner-city slum, and our telephone. It was unbelievable. My mother was talking to Bobby about the election; my mother who was probably the least political person that I have ever known. But, that next morning she donned her winter coat and hat and went prancing off with her pocketbook hanging on her arm. I ran out on the porch. I didn’t know whether to cheer, applaud or what. She looked like a miniature Eleanor Roosevelt parading down Chelmsford Street to the corner where they were all lined up at the voting station.
She had received her orders and was marching to her destiny which was to personally elect John F. Kennedy president. And she did it. It was the closest election of the twentieth century thus far.
Johnny won by slightly more than 100,000 votes. He was the youngest man yet to be elected president - the first Catholic president. And though I was just slightly too young to vote for him myself, he was my president also.
He was the president of all the young people. He was as sharp as a tack. He knew his ABC’s. He had all the answers. The press was no match for him. He was smarter than they were. He smiled, had a huge grin and told jokes about his dad and his wife and brothers and sisters. He was a big tease, just like your older brother, or your own dad. He was a hero during the War. I went to see the movie PT-109 at the local movie theater. I bought his book, “Profiles in Courage”. I still have a copy. It was a real book.
“Profiles in Courage” was no political biography book about how I was born in a log cabin. It was not about himself. It was about men in history who had acted courageously, even if it meant their political careers. John F. Kennedy was more than another pretty face.
“Profiles in Courage” was a book about ideals, about principles. It became a TV series. I can remember lying on the parlor floor with my head up against a hassock watching this week’s excerpt with the whole family. At the end of each episode there was somebody crediting John F. Kennedy, and some bit of his personal idealistic inspiration. If I’m not mistaken, he introduced the show, or signed it off - or something.
John F. Kennedy, the War Hero, who had saved his buddies; the intellectual and Harvard graduate, the Journalist, the TV show writer, the first Catholic president, the youngest elected president, the family man with a picture book wife and regular kids hiding under his desk at the White House, the little rich boy who had a feeling for the working stiff. John F. Kennedy, the man who was going to bring peace to the world at last.
By the time I got to college everybody was enrolling in the Kennedy Army for Peace. They called it the Peace Corps. They say that it was really Hubert Humphrey’s idea, but it was Kennedy who pushed and promoted it. Every student that I talked to was joining the Peace Corps. They were all making me feel guilty and hypocritical. Finally we had a president who stopped the tradition of talking about peace while making war; a president who was going to turn it all upside-down. He was going to actively make peace and try to keep the war mongers talking. The whole world got his message and everybody was cheering - except the Russians and Fidel Castro.
Then suddenly it was eyeball to eyeball. The end of the world was on the horizon. But this was O.K. It was all for one and one for all. It was no pull-a-name-out-of-a-hat deal. If we were going to die, we were all going to die at once - BOOM! And who gives a damn. It was a relief. No more hiding under the desks, or looking for a designated bomb shelter, or storing up supplies in the cellar, or contemplating a slow death by some kind of horrid radiation poisoning. If the world really couldn’t be saved, then let’s end it, once and for all. We would prove T. S. Eliot wrong. The world wouldn’t end with a whimper but a BANG! We finally got this chicken-chicken stuff over with. Khrushchev pushed, and Kennedy pushed back - the Cuban Missile Crisis.
When it was over Khrushchev had blinked. Russian ships were on the TV loading up their ships and heading home with their bombs and missiles. Kennedy had stood up to the bullies and they were tucking their missiles between their legs and heading back to their own school yard. If there was anybody who doubted Kennedy’s policy at that time, I don’t remember that they had time to voice their opinion. The missiles were there; we were on the brink of destruction, and then it was over. It was scary, but we all went through it together - holding our breath.
I have heard many say that Kennedy did it all wrong, we should have invaded Cuba and put Castro to rest. But information from the Russian Archives has since proved that Mister Kennedy and his brother were more than correct. The Russians had tactical nuclear weapons on Cuban soil and submarines off the East Coast of the U.S. with orders to fire if the U.S. had attacked. And due to problems in the Russian communications system the order to retaliate had been given by Khrushchev and couldn’t have been changed in time to stay a holocaust. The East Coast of the United States from Washington D.C. to Tampa Florida would have been gone - along with a heck of a lot more. The incident scared the heck out of both Kennedy and Khrushchev and they consequently had the infamous hot lines installed.
But, Kennedy was a president to whom the presidency wasn’t the culmination of his life and career. He was too young. He was just starting. He was going to really be something special. He would write history or be a movie star, or teach at Harvard. The presidency was just a stop on his way to bigger and better things and everybody knew it.
I was in my college History class at Northern Essex Community College. It was a renovated Haverhill grammar school. It cost me one hundred and fifty bucks a semester. I had a 1946 Desoto, fluid drive that had to be jump-started every day. I parked it on a hill outside the school and everybody watched and laughed each day as, my buddies and I, all pushed it down the hill to get it rolling and then jumped in when I popped it to a start. It was bright yellow, and we called it the Banana Boat. A phrase made popular a few years earlier by Harry Belafonte. This new junior college and the state-wide junior college program was one of Kennedy’s new ideas. A kid of my Class, and my finances, and my academic background had very little hope of getting a college education.
A young office worker stepped into our classroom, unannounced. He walked up to the teacher’s desk and handed him a piece of paper. The teacher read the note, silently. Then he looked up at the class, and spoke:
“The president of the United States has just been shot in Dallas, Texas. The class is dismissed”.
A boy in the back of the class jumped up and started mumbling something about his tuition and that he was paying that teacher’s salary and he wanted the class to continue. The teacher repeated; “Class dismissed.” Then he turned and started gathering things up from his desk. The mouthy boy kept grumbling. He grumbled all the way down the corridor and out into the school yard. In a matter of seconds he had a crowd around him and was in a fist fight.
In the cellar of the grammar school we had a small make-shift cafeteria. It was just vending machines, a small bookstore and a couple of TV’s. We were glued to the TV’s. The girls were all in tears and sobbing. Their eyes were all wet and raw and their noses red from the constant use of tissues and table napkins.
My father had died suddenly and without warning a few years earlier. This assassination was the exact same experience all over again. Once again I was waiting for the doctors to announce that everything would be all right and that he would live, but just as with my dad, this wasn’t to be the case.
I was stunned in the same way as I had been with my dad when they announced that the president was dead. But, I was steeled to the concept of death now. I had no tears. I had no why’s. Death has no explanation. The Nation would go on as it did after Lincoln, after Garrison, after McKinley. It would go on as it has after all the different presidents who had been killed or who had died in office. We had a system, and the system would go on; just as my life had gone on after my father’s death. Just as everyone’s life continues and goes on after the death of any loved one. You have no choice.
But a lot of dreams would now die and be forgotten.
At my father’s funeral, they kept saying; - He was so young - and I thought, silently; does death have an age limit? Is anyone too young or not old enough to die? Hardly. Here was the hope of the world and he had just had his head blown off in Dallas, Texas.
Watching the funeral on the TV was tragic. Little John-John being prodded forward by his mother and saluting the coffin; the horse with no rider; the hauntingly slow, and penetrating cadence of the drums - a whole nation in mourning. The memories of those days never seem to die.
Maybe they’re not supposed to.
John F. Kennedy holds the unique distinction of being the only president to be assassinated more than once.
He was first assassinated on November 22, 1963 when he had his head blown off in Dallas, Texas. Since that initial assassination, John F. Kennedy has been slowly assassinated, day by day, by the written word in newspapers, periodicals, books, and documentary films in what seems to me to be an attempt to prove to us, the American people, that John F. Kennedy was such a terrible man that he really deserved to be killed in the first place.
I view this with the same attitude that I have learned to view rape. It doesn’t matter if she looks like a whore, acts like a whore, or even if she is a whore, no man has the right to take her without her voluntary consent.
Somebody murdered a president of this United States, and not only got away with it, but has since convinced us Americans that it doesn’t even matter.
John F. Kennedy, no matter what his character faults, did not deserve to be murdered. He may have been an S.O.B., but, as someone has said before me, he was our S.O.B. And if our government knows what happened, it is time that we were informed and the information, at least, made available to our historians. I feel that I have a right to know the truth before I die. The time is here.
The suspects in the murder of J.F.K. include nearly everyone. The only prominent person or group not yet accused of the crime, I think, is the Pope.
Things we know: The Warren Commission Report was a blatant cover-up. The autopsy was fudged. There was more than one gunman. It now seems that there were so many bullets fired, one wonders how innocent by-standers weren’t hit - Oswald’s nest, the grassy knoll on the right; the grassy knoll on the left; somewhere from the front; somewhere from the back; from the sewers. Assassins seem to have been all over the place. Shoplifters got better police protection than Oswald received walking up that ramp to his death at the hands of Jack Ruby. Who are they kidding!
To me, one thing does seem to be certain here. A whole bunch of prominent people have been lying on this matter. Why?
Americans have the right to know their own history. Open up all this secret stuff and, at least, let the academics in. Most everybody involved is probably dead by now. It won’t change anything, but it should be important to a people who keep making claim to be living in - the land of the free and the home of the brave.