Saturday, October 25, 2008

Save America

My experience has taught me to be rather skeptical of forwarded emails that I get through the Internet. But I received an email today from a friend of mine that was especially intriguing. I was so taken by it, I decided to contact the original author, John Dini.

He was kind enough to send me an immediately and personal reply, verifying his original authorship. He also included the original verbiage of the email. (Things tend to get scrambled a bit after they have been forwarded several times.)

Here is something that I have never done before. (And I probably will never do it again, so don’t even ask.) Today’s posting is written entirely by John. It speaks for itself. Feel free to contact John yourself or to spread his message.

-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------

Dear Joe,

Before you mentally check out because of the “Save America” headline on this email, please read the next 2 paragraphs.

This is not a conservative or liberal, Republican or Democratic letter. This is for anyone who is angry about how our government is running, or who is frustrated by a feeling of helplessness, or who feels unable to do anything about our current mess.

A legislature that has a 9% approval rating, one month before an election, just passed a bill that constituents’ comments ran 100 to 1 against! Not only did they ignore voter opinion, but under extreme scrutiny they still added lots of breaks for cronies, and they did so knowing that 90% of them would be re-elected anyway. This letter is long, but at the end I will tell you how I think we can do something about it.

My name is John F. Dini. I am a small business owner in Texas, with 4 employees and well under a million dollars in gross revenue. I have lived in both red and blue states, on the east coast and the west. I don’t think what I have to say should offend anyone. That’s why I’m willing to put my name on it. My email is Unlike many of our legislators, I will take personal responsibility for my actions. You are welcome to let me know what you think, and whether you’re signing on to this.

If you don’t want to read about the bailout bill, skip down to where the bullet points end.

Last week Congress passed hb 1424, the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.” As you’ve probably heard, it was a bit more than just the bailout bill. I’ve gone through all 451 pages. Here are some highlights:

• Sec. 103: The Treasury can also purchase mortgages on apartment buildings. To my knowledge, those who own apartment buildings aren’t usually in danger of having their house taken away.

• Sec. 110 allows the regulators (there is a whole new bureaucracy being formed) to make any change to any troubled mortgage, including giving the property away.

• Sec. 116: Keeps the bureaucracy in place until the last asset is sold, or the last loan is paid.

• Sec. 122: Raises the debt ceiling to $11,315,000,000,000. For historical reference, we broke the $1 trillion debt limit in the Reagan administration. That runaway borrowing is what George H.W. Bush called “Voodoo Economics” Last week we borrowed another trillion in a day.

• Sec. 132 suspends fasb 157. That’s what made banks show the real value of their assets on their books, even if it had fallen to zero. That is no longer necessary, (but we will form a commission to decide later on what they should be showing to their shareholders, presumably something other than the actual value of their assets.)

• Sec. 136 raises the fdic published coverage limit to $250,000 per account. What they haven’t mentioned is that this higher “coverage” expires in 15 months, and the fdic is ordered not to adjust the insurance for these new risks. That law actually just orders the fdic to change the number $100,000 to $250,000 everywhere, nothing else.

That is the first 112 pages. The next bill (actually several different laws, passed on the same vote) extends a bunch of energy tax breaks for wind, clean coal, biofuels, geothermal, and others. It also gives credits to the steel industry, for plug in vehicles (in addition to the $25 billion handout to gm and Ford last week), for the black lung trust fund, and for home appliances that recycle gray water.

The next bill tacked on is a Tax Relief bill. That one raises the amt trigger by a fraction (from $66K to $69K) and has special tax breaks for:

• Restaurant and retail depreciation
• Rum from Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands
• Businesses in American Samoa
• Mine rescue training
• Businesses on Indian Reservations (casinos)
• Railroad tracks
• Motorsports Racing Facilities (the “nascar” break)
• Employees of companies affected by Hurricane Katrina
• Investing in Washington dc
• Wool producers
• Film and television production
• Wooden arrow manufacturers
• Winners of Exxon Valdez lawsuits
• Farming Machinery purchases

Also, the failed 2007 Paul Wellstone mental health bill is included here, which requires all health insurers to cover mental health treatment just like physical illness. I’m not sure how long this bill has been trying to get passed, but Senator Wellstone died in 2002.

Under “other” that bill has another 100 pages including the following:

• Funding for schools, roads, weed control, forest ecosystems, improved cooperation among Federal agencies and the Oregon & California Railroad.
• Secure payments for states with Federal Lands, which you would think was everybody, but is defined as only la, ca, or, pa, sc, sd, tx and wa.
• A call for proposals to cooperate with Federal agencies, which upon reading is actually a requirement that blm accept a minimum of 50% 0f timber logging contracts over the next 3 years.
• Doubling of the “Mine Reclamation Fund”
• Rewording of the Katrina relief bills to include il, ia, in, ks, mi, mn, mo, ne, and wi
• Further extension of Katrina Relief to anyone “affected” by Hurricane Ike.

My sympathies to the folks in Maine and North Dakota, who appear to have been left out (unless that’s where the wooden arrow makers cluster.) Actual outlays are not $700 billion, but an estimated $852 billion, apparently not counting tax reductions.

Are you angry yet?

end of bailout bill discussion

In her 1957 novel “Atlas Shrugged” Ayn Rand foresaw an America where corrupt businessmen and politicians allied to loot the country for all they could get. They got away with it because most people either believed that a bit more hard work, a bit more struggling, would see things turnaround eventually, or that everything was beyond their ability to control anyway. Many people disagree with Rand’s conclusions and philosophy, but on this she was truly clairvoyant.

Most voters believe that Congress is full of bad actors, except for their guy! Your congressman (or woman) came to your Rotary meeting, or saved a local industry, or got funding for your favorite park, and therefore is one of the “good guys.” I put forward the idea that if any one of them was truly above the corruption, he or she would have been back in your district screaming bloody murder rather than in dc casting a vote for or against this farce. Instead, every single Congressman is telling you that it was the other guys who got us into this mess. They are cultivating and depending on our fear of each other to stay in power.

what you can do to save america
I don’t “do” chain letters, even the ones my relatives send me that say “return this to show you care for me.” This is my first-ever exception. I care enough to risk your annoyance with me for sending this. It’s up to you to decide whether you care more about saving this democracy, or having a friend, customer or client think you are “too political.”

I believe that if we continue “business as usual” by returning over 90% of Congress to office, we are rewarding their arrogance; and surrendered any fantasy that our government is answerable to the people. They obviously don’t believe it. That is why Congress has exempted itself from labor law, equal opportunity, osha, Social Security and any liability. This may be our last chance to remind our elected officials that this is supposed to be a government by the people.

“My vote can’t do anything”
You can’t vote to throw out the other guy’s representative, you can only vote for or against your own. In 2006 the Democrats won their average district with a 54.8% vote, considered a landslide. The so-called Republican Revolution of 1994 was won with an average of 51.6% of the vote. So if one person in twenty changed their vote, the result would be an almost complete turnover in Congress!

Our Founding Fathers designed the checks and balances of government well. The Senate is supposed to change slowly, so that it provides a longer-term perspective. Congress changes every two years because it is supposed to reflect the current mood of the people! Returning 90% of Congress to office year after year, decade after decade, is surrendering the responsibility that Jefferson, Adams and Washington placed in us. It confirms their belief that they are untouchable.

On November 4th, vote for whomever you feel would be the better President, Senator, Governor, and for any state or local office, but vote against your incumbent congressman or congresswoman. It doesn’t matter who it is. It doesn’t matter who the other candidate is. Cross party lines. Close your eyes or hold your nose when you do it, but do it. In 30 days we can send the biggest message to Congress of the last 100 years. It’s a message that says “You aren’t above the law. You are answerable for this mess. You still serve the people of this country.”

And pass this along widely and quickly. Remember, we have less than 30 days, and it will only take one in twenty.

Thank you.
John F. Dini, cmba, bcb, cbi
President, mpn Incorporated

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