Saturday, May 24, 2008

The 545

A friend of mine recently sent me a very interesting article. It was allegedly written by a reporter named “Charlie Reese”. Frankly, I don’t know if this person is real or not, and I try to stay away from articles like these when writing my blog. However, something about this article rung true, and it’s a topic that would diffidently interest me—government’s inability to solve our nation’s problem. The title of the story is “The 545”. Read it for yourself. I think you’ll agree that regime change begins at home:

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The President does. You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does. You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does. You and I don't control monetary policy, The Federal Reserve Bank does. One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president and nine Supreme Court justices - 545 human beings out of the 300 million - are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered but private central bank. I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority.

They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall.

No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it. The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes.

Who is the Speaker of the House? She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to. It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts - of incompetence and irresponsibility.

I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people.

When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair. If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red. If the Marines are in Iraq, it's because they want them in Iraq. If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way. There are no insoluble government problems. Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like 'the economy,' 'inflation' or 'politics' that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people and they alone, are responsible. They and they alone, have the power.

They and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses - provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees.

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

Charlie Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel newspaper.

One more comment from BT: Charlie Reese is correct. These 545 people have created many of the problems this country faces. However, it is also true that we, the citizens of this country, reelect approximately 90% of the 545 every election. Therefore, we bear a great deal of the responsibility for the mess we have created.

(I should point out as well that under the old Soviet system, the Communist Politburo had a higher rate of turnover that the US Congress---Editor)

China’s Lethal Mix of Earthquakes, Corruption, and Greed By Peter Navarro, author of THE COMING CHINA WARS: Where They Will Be Fought and How They Will Be Won.

Imagine that your government forced you to have only one child – under penalty of sterilization, beatings, and/or stiff fines. Imagine further that your one child is crushed to death during an earthquake because that same government allowed your child’s school to be built with shoddy building materials and in violation of numerous building codes.

For many grieving mothers and fathers in China, this stark imagining has become the harshest of realities. In fact, the real tragedy of the recent China earthquake is that a significant number of the deaths and injuries were not the result of a merciless Mother Nature but rather a lethal combination of government corruption and entrepreneurial greed.

The quake in question hit Sichuan province on May 12th and registered a highly destructive 7.9 on the Richter scale. While the official death toll has already risen to more than 20,000, when all of the bodies are eventually counted, that toll will likely exceed 50,000. The grim reality is that many of the dead and injured perished in poorly constructed schools and homes and other buildings that had no absolutely chance of withstanding the earthquake’s deadly force.

The problem of shoddy building materials is endemic in China, and it is a particularly severe problem with cement and steel. It’s not that the Chinese don’t know how to properly make these materials. Rather, inferior cement and steel creep into the construction process because as a common characteristic of the Chinese business culture and lax regulatory environment, entrepreneurs regularly skimp on product quality as a way of boosting profits.

A similar problem exists with ultra-lax building code enforcement. At least on paper, China has a set of building codes almost as tough as those of the United States or Japan. In practice, however, the central government’s codes are rarely enforced at the local level – particularly outside the confines of major cities like Beijing and Shanghai and particularly in poorer provinces such as Sichuan.
This problem of local autonomy goes far back into China’s history and its imperial times and is reflected in the ancient Chinese proverb “the mountains are high and the emperor is far away.” It is a problem that plagues China on everything from environmental protection and worker health and safety to the construction process.
On top of this, China’s extremely weak legal system makes it virtually impossible for victims to seek any proper redress. Not only are the laws unclear, but the judiciary is often pro-developer. Moreover, as a by-product of the repressive nature of the Chinese regime, would-be claimants are subject to beatings. The result is precisely the kind of shoddy construction that has claimed so many lives in the recent quake.

Given China’s incredibly dark earthquake history, there is absolutely no excuse for the government to allow any of this. In fact, in 1976, China suffered an earthquake that resulted in the highest number of quake-related casualties in the last four centuries. This earthquake occurred in the Tangshen area of China and damage reached as far as Beijing. While official statistics place the number of dead at 255,000, the actual number is more likely to be well above 600,000.

The only close competitor in modern times is the deadly Sumatra earthquake of 2004 which killed 228,000 – but many of those died not from the quake but the ensuing tsunami. And it must be noted that the only other quake topping 200,000 in casualites was also in China – the deadly 1920 Gansu earthquake. That’s why there is absolutely no excuse for government officials to condone the type of fly-by-night development process that exists.

There are important lessons in these frank observations for both a repressive Chinese government in desperate need of reform and a world increasingly reliant on Chinese manufacturers who are far too willing to cut corners on safety. Chinese government officials must come to understand that the brutal suppression of free speech and the lack of legal protection for Chinese citizens provide the ideal breeding ground for corruption and greed. At the same time, consumers in the West have yet another data point to illustrate the deadly hazards of relying on Chinese manufacturers to provide us with everything from car parts, food, and toys to pharmaceuticals and, yes, building materials.


Dr. Peter Navarro is the author of THE COMING CHINA WARS: Where They Will Be Fought and How They Will Be Won.He is a business professor at California-Irvine and wrote the bestselling investment book If It’s Raining in Brazil, Buy Starbucks, and The Well-Timed Strategy: Managing the Business Cycle for Competitive Advantage. His work has appeared in Business Week, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. A gifted public speaker, he has appeared on Bloomberg, CNN, CNBC, NPR, and all three major network news shows and has also testified before Congress at the U.S. – China Economic and Security Review Commission’s hearing on the U.S. – China relationship.

For more information, please visit

Book Review: Pennsylvania Avenue: Profiles in Backroom Politics.

Washington is about power and access to power. We're simultaneously attracted and repulsed by the audacity of those plying their trade in quiet darken anterooms. Authors John Harwood and Gerald Seib, in their book, "Pennsylvania Avenue: Profiles in Backroom Power", shined a spot light on those who work and play in the shadows of Washington politics. Through great background research and first hand interviews with key players such as Karl Rove, Ed Rogers, Ken Duberstein, this is an excellent book for those wanting to know how deals are made, and how the wheels of power are greased". If you want a glimpse into how the game is played, this book is for you.

Genealogy DNA Research

A lot people these days like to do genealogy (I’m one of them), and the latest twist is doing DNA research. I’d like to recommend one such company by the name of DNA Heritage ( They offer a very affordable test and excellent results with great follow up. Check out their site and give it a try.

Funeral for a Friend

On Wednesday, May 21, 2008, a co-worked and good friend of mine by the name of Robert Ludwig died of a massive heart attack. Rob was only 56 years old. Rob was something of a curmudgeon-in-training and would have probably scoffed at this article. You rarely saw Rob without a cup of coffee in one hand and cigarette in the other. Rob was a hard core conservative who was sick and tired of what he called the “religious right controlling my Republican Party” and thought the Democrats were little better than Socialists. Rob felt that both parties have abridged the Constitution and he wanted his country back…now. He had no love for McCain but loathed the idea of an Obama Presidency. I always thought Rob would be more at home as a Libertarian.

Rob treated everyone the way he meet them. He believed in hard work, honesty and fair play. He had a great and slightly warped sense of humor which probably one of the reasons we got along so well. Rob was also a self taught computer geek. Many of the updates you see on this blog were as a result of his efforts. Rob also had one heck of talent for which I could only admire and quietly envy. He could sing and play guitar like a pro. You may remember that several months ago I listed a link to spoof he wrote called “My Hezbollah” (you can still check it out at: What a talent.

Rob was one of those few people you come across in a lifetime. Once you’ve meet them you’ll never forget them. Rest well my ole friend and thanks for everything.

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