- Product highlight
- Brainpower tip
- Time tip
- Finance tip
- Security tip
- Health tip/Fitness tip
- Thought for the day
1. Product Highlight
translator, part two|
We had a quick review of the iTravl
(9-language version) in our last issue. It also comes in individual
languages, such as Spanish (click image at right), and of course
that means you get all of the iTravl features for a lot less money.
You just give up 7 languages. Not a bad deal, really.
The iTravl is about half again as large as an
iPod. This product is made by Ectaco, not Apple. It has controls
familiar to any cell phone user.
The iTravl features full text translation
(enter your own sentences), voice output, speech recognition, a
language learning program, and an extensive travel guide. Over 3.37
million words and 63,000 categorized phrases. Color touch screen
with adjustable color schemes and adjustable font sizes.
2. Brainpower tip
I know a guy who wreaks havoc in almost anything he does.
He is fond of saying, "I think outside the box." What he fails to do is ask
why the box is there in the first place. He is making a virtue out of his
personal deficiency of being too
lazy or too arrogant to learn the way things are done. Consequently, he
rarely does anything well and he causes problems for everybody else
unfortunate enough to be standing in his splatter zone..|
practices and standard procedures save a great deal of time and mental
energy, allowing you to put those resources to good use, rather than simply
This isn't to say you can't bend a rule here or there. But you need to
understand the collective wisdom behind any area of endeavor, rather than
just charging ahead.
You may be thinking, "Hey, aren't you saying to avoid reinventing the
It's always smarter to build upon what's been done before. Standing on
the shoulders of giants is easier than climbing hand over hand to where
they've already been.
This doesn't mean you can't question basic assertions. In fact, you
should. That's part of the learning process, which brings us back to
learning those accepted practices and standards. If you want to go outside
those enablers (which some may call "limitations"), first develop the
expertise to do so in a manner conducive to yielding positive results.
3. Time Tip
4. Finance tip
In 2005, Harris Interactive submitted a report to the American Bar
Association. This report contained the embarrassing findings of a survey
that, statistically speaking is representative of the American
Here are some startling facts:
- Only 55% of Americans can correctly identify the three branches
of government. Even when it's a multiple choice question. The
choices were not tricky in the slightest, but nearly half of the respondents missed
them anyhow. For example 22% chose "Republican, Democrat, and
- Less than half can correctly answer a multiple choice question
as to the meaning of the concept of separation of powers. But 2/3
think they know.
- On a multiple choice question about the principle of checks and
balances, 36% of Americans could not select the correct answer.
Every naturalized citizen (read, "immigrant") can
tell you the correct answers without reading any choices. It's good they
aren't ignorant. What's not good is if you subtract them out of the poll
results, the picture is much more bleak than it appears.
Ignorant people don't understand our system of checks and balances,
but they do understand government checks with their names on them. And
therein lies the cause of your single largest expense. It's larger than
all of your other expenses combined.
I'm talking, of course, about the cost of funding the government
(such that it is) and its pork barrel spending.
Addressing finances without talking about your
single largest expense gets us squarely
into the elephant in the living room scenario.
Most people, when referring to "taxes," are referring to the federal
graduated income tax even though their paychecks get hit even harder by
the federal flat income tax (the SS Tax), which is nearly 16% of their
pay. "Oh, but my employer pays half." No, your employer does
half. Your employer can afford X number of dollars per labor unit and
that's it. The money to pay for "your employer's half" comes out of
this. It doesn't grow on trees.
You may be surprised to read that I am not going
to recommend anything in the way of reducing your federal income taxes.
But I think that whole line of discussion is a red herring.
If you go back and look at your
2006 Federal Income Tax (the federal progressive income tax), you'll
probably see that percentage-wise it was less than half than the 15.3%
you paid in federal flat income tax (which is a regressive tax). If it's
more, then you are just not a typical taxpayer.
Most taxes are not explicit or very visible. They are
buried, like termites in your walls. They eat away at the very structure
of your wealth. You pay 121 different taxes on a single loaf of bread.
Can you name even three of them?
The four largest forms of taxation are:
- Inflation. This is a deliberate debasing of
the currency caused by putting more currency into circulation. There
are many ways this is accomplished, and it has nothing to do with
"printing money." Similar concept, different execution. The
government uses this method so it can pay its debts in cheaper
dollars. The same effect on your personal finances would be achieved
by simply stealing money from your wallet or anywhere else you keep
- Capital scarcity. When the government borrows money to pay for
its "responsibility-free" spending sprees, the law of supply and
demand kicks in. Capital, which is the fuel of our economy, costs
far more to acquire. The result is you pay for this in every product
and service you buy. This is a national sales tax added to
the national graduated income tax and the national flat income tax
you're paying. The same effect would be achieved by passing a sales
tax legislatively, but this sneaky method allows them to raise the
tax much higher than people would otherwise permit.
- Excess regulation. Compliance costs are enormous. Businesses
employ vast armies of people to deal with government regulatory
agencies and paperwork. That costs money, and it does absolutely
zero to produce income. You pay for this in every product and
service you buy.
- Useless processes. How much time did you spend filing your
federal income tax, last year? On average, an individual spends 8
hrs per year on that pointless task--not including the ongoing file
keeping. A small business owner typically spends 10 to 12 times that
many hours (which effectively consumes the vacation time a small
business owner would otherwise be able to enjoy).
It's just another tax--except it takes the form of direct labor
(prohibited by the Constitution). You are being conscripted to
provide agency employees with busywork. It would be cheaper to pay
them a stipend to stay home and not conscript millions of us to
engage in this silly, useless game.
[Please note that I am not advocating any kind of "Constitutional"
tax rebellion or any other form of law-breaking. I am just pointing
out the facts. Make sure you do file your taxes in a timely
manner and pay them. Unjustly or not, you are required by law to do
so. Change the law, don't break it].
These are the four taxes that hit you hardest. How can you reduce
them? To answer that, you have to understand why they exist. In a word,
"spending." The only meaningful way to reduce your taxes is to be very
vocal in opposing the way CONgress tosses your money around without
seeming to have a care in the world that you worked hard for every
dime of it.
"Ah, but I am only one person. I can't make much of a difference."
That's true, the old saw about "for want of a nail" notwithstanding.
Fortunately, the National Taxpayer's Union has been working on that very
problem for many years. And they've accomplished a lot. Check them out
at www.ntu.org. I'm not
promising they can fix this problem any time soon, but their approach
strikes me as the most sensible one going.
5. Security tip
Federal bureaucracies in the United States have grown
in size and power, but not competence, since their massive expansion began in the
Roosevelt era. As I am much less familiar with the bureaucracies in other
countries, our non-USA subscribers will have to draw parallels to
their own situations from what I present here.|
Background: To understand the relationship
between government growth and diminished security, we first need to be
clear on how and why government is so dreadfully deficient.
The problem with these agencies is not that all of
their employees are stupid (even though the 03AUG2007 issue of The Week
reported that a 44 year old French civil servant was found to have
almost no brain due to hydrocephalus--my guess is he is a manager). Nor is it because they are lazy
Yes, those kinds of people tend to overpopulate
agencies. But you'll also find some of the sharpest folks around working
in those agencies. I'll say it right now--I have dealt with some
wonderful people who happen to work in government. But, there's a
problem that makes them the decided minority and that undermines the
very reason most of them took those jobs to begin with.
Because of "wink and nod" politics, nearly
all of these
bureaucracies (agencies) exist primarily to redistribute money (your
money) rather than to achieve an outcome of any particular benefit to
society (there are notable exceptions, such as the VA and the Forestry
Service). It's true that some people working within those agencies manage
to make a difference, but they do that despite the agency rather than
because of it.
Root cause: Here's how agencies get twisted about, resulting in the
mess we have now:
CONgressman A agrees to pork barrel some new agency that will
"provide jobs" in CONgressman B's district if CONgressman B will
reciprocate by voting for some utter nonsense that rewards one of
CONgressman A's major campaign contributors. Thus the emergence of costly agencies that, in net, reduce
employment in America because they divert resources into the
nonproductive government sector (government "services" are not part of
What goes on in these agencies? The culture
in most of them is all about bloating processes and introducing
inefficiencies so that someone can go to CONgress and "justify" a larger
budget and the hiring of more people. As more people are hired, that
means more "managers" are "needed" and existing employees can be
promoted into jobs in which they don't work toward a specific
Put another way, federal agencies generally strive for
incompetence because they are rewarded for it. In the private sector,
the opposite holds true (allegedly).
In the private sector, a company must
continually increase its efficiency or its competitors will displace it
and people will lose their jobs. A federal agency must continually decrease its efficiency, or it can't justify the "need" for more
staffing and more funding.
Budget appropriations in CONgress are not
performed through any kind of reasoned analysis of cost/benefit to
society. They are done by young staffers who figure out for the CONgressman which favors need to be traded back and forth. That process
is what passes for "Congressional oversight."
A manager from, say a manufacturing plant, would be aghast at the way a
department is run in a typical federal agency. Most people believe they are "working
hard" simply because they are busy doing things--even if those
things don't matter.
In a factory, you
measure yourself by how much product goes out the door. In government,
you measure yourself by how much paper you shuffle--results aren't relevant.
Yes, we do have those folks who go into government
service to accomplish things--to contribute in ways that matter. But,
that isn't the normal way of thinking in these agencies. The political
environment punishes these people, sometimes severely. That's why in
government you have 20
people doing a one-person job. And it's why only a few government jobs serve any purpose other than
bloating the agency. Making matters worse, the folks who are in there
giving their heart and soul are weighed down by all of the deadweight
around them and by the mind-numbing array of rules, procedures, and red
Your security problem
Obviously, since you are footing the bill for all
of this (via the hundreds of different taxes you pay--including
inflation and higher capital costs), you experience a deleterious effect on
your finances. But it doesn't stop there. It also diminishes your security in many ways:
Federal agencies have access to your personal
information. Remember, these agencies strive for incompetence. Part
of getting there is to skew hiring practices toward people whose work
habits just don't make sense. These people handle your personal
information. They will pack rat it in places where it doesn't belong,
and they will be careless with it. They even manage to undermine the
efforts of their competent coworkers who would otherwise be able to
ensure your information is secure.
The largest of these agencies has 115,000 people
on its payroll and manages to "lose" some 4,500 laptop
computers a year. Yet, this agency claims those laptops don't contain
sensitive information. So, what are those folks doing with laptops that
aren't being used for work purposes? Answer: The GAO reports they spend
half their office time visiting p*rn and gambling sites. Your federally
funded agency, hard at work? Why do "we" trust them with anything having
to do with money?
As agencies grow, your privacy shrinks.
Agencies thrive on paperwork. If you doubt that, just look at all of the
www.irs.gov. And look, line by line, at what they are asking for. This is
pretty dangerous information you're sending them. But refuse to send
it, and you go to jail. You just have to live with the risk and hope
you're not one of the victims.
As agencies grow, your stature shrinks. At
one time, long ago, we had a "check and balances" system. There were
only three branches of government: legislative, judicial, and executive.
The Constitution, which was once relevant to the conduct of government,
gave each branch certain powers and they balanced out. Members of the
legislative branch were elected, unlike today--we just pretend to elect
Unintended consequences from illegal laws. If you think the CONgress cares
about the Constitution, ask yourself why the first anti-drug laws
required a Constitutional Amendment--which was later repealed. Now we
have even more far-reaching and socially devastating anti-drug laws
without an Amendment. What happened? CONgress decided to favor two
specific recreational drug industries (both of which provide enormous
amounts of campaign financing) while penalizing others. This, of course,
is unethical and unconstitutional. CONgress doesn't have the moxy
to either ban all drugs (which has unintended consequences we can't
afford) or to legalize all of them (which would have the
reality-challenged among us screaming).
So, they take the coward's way out. Which is why
we have drive-by shootings and overcrowded prisons today. And this "war
on drugs" is the main factor driving burglaries and street violence in
our neighborhoods today. In short, your single largest personal security
problem is a direct result of the establishment of a specific federal
For sale. Today, laws are purchased by special
interest groups. It's simply not true that regular citizens have representation in
government. Today, the three branches are largely irrelevant to how
government is actually run.
Independent and uncontrolled. So, how are things run? Mostly, the agencies run things.
Many of these agencies pick and choose which "will of Congress" items
they will abide by. One agency is particularly notorious for making its
own laws on the fly and cherry-picking which stupid things it can say CONgress made it do.
Worse, it has even managed to get its own court system established--one
where the defendant lacks the right of discovery and many other
protections routinely afforded to serial murderers, bank robbers,
rapists, and others who have committed crimes apparently of lesser
offense than simply running afoul of some arbitrary rule created by
employees of this particular agency.
Those who run
the agencies can use the power of those agencies to destroy individuals
who oppose them--including any employees who want to do what's right. This is why, for example, members of CONgress roll over to the wishes of agency honchos.
And it's why CONgress lets any agency whistleblower twist in the breeze.
No cajones. Or, maybe I should say "no spine/" Rumor has it that members
of CONgress will soon be officially reclassified as invertebrates.
The roles of government
servant and citizen master are reversed from what the Founding Fathers
intended and codified.
What to do
As you may have surmised, the cancerous growth of government isn't a
good thing. But, it's not inevitable, either. Anarchists would have us
believe all government is bad, and they can point to the mess we have
now to support their view. But they're wrong. What we have is simply a
case of too much of a good thing. Way too much.
Here are my top
suggestions on how to reduce the gross security problems resulting from
the problem of runaway government growth:
- Don't vote Demopublican. I cannot understand why anyone in their
right mind would rubber stamp the behavior of CONgress by voting
"yes" in every "election." It amazes me that most Americans
actually believe we have two political parties. No matter which
"party" you vote for, you get the same result: more spending, more
regulations, higher taxes, more agency growth. Isn't it about time
we all voted for somebody else? Sidenote: Prior to the mid-1800s, this party was
known as the Democratic Republicans. It had a temporary split, which
healed within a generation. How nice that it can be a
monopoly by giving people the illusion of choice!
- Go to "town hall" meetings. Many politicians hold public
meetings. These meetings are normally held while taxpayers are
slaving away during normal working hours. When they are held at
other times, working people are too busy or too exhausted to go.
Consequently, politicians get a very skewed view of what the public
wants. They listen to people who are on the government dole and demanding
more dole. Make time to go. Speak out against any and all new spending,
no matter what it's for.
- When you receive those fund-raising letters disguised as
surveys, make your input show that you don't want any additional
government. Period. No matter what the issue, mark it as unimportant
unless it is about reducing the size of government. If there aren't
any choices along that vein, write a comment on the survey.
- Vote NO to any referendum or other measure that expands the size
or cost of government. Beware the "do it for the kids" scam. This is
often manifested in voting against some draconian school cut by
voting for some tax increase. Call their bluff.
- Contact your CONgressman and your two senators, quarterly. You
can find their contact information easily, online. Just send a short
letter asking them to oppose all new spending measures. A single
paragraph is far more effective than a two-page letter. Here is a
sample text: "I oppose all new government spending, regardless of
the reason, and ask you to do the same if you want my vote."
- Don't challenge the agencies. Some people believe you should
make an agency show you why they need this or that information, and
that you personally should hold them accountable to prove it. This
strategy ignores the fact that logic does not work on these people.
It also ignores the fact that you are the servant, and they are the
master. There are two consequences to this strategy, beyond the
personal cost to you. First, the agency people will assume whatever
information you object to giving must be vitally important or you
wouldn't object. Second, they will use the time consumed in dealing
with you to justify hiring even more people.
- Share your pain. When you are forced to fill out senseless
forms, let your CONgressman know. Understand that your CONgressman
is probably a millionaire and your senator surely is. These people
are almost completely insulated from the consequences of their
actions. Send them a form and ask for assistance filling it out.
Mark it up and ask questions about each item. State that you don't
want a response from the agency responsible (or irresponsible) for
creating this idiotic form. You want your CONgressman (and senator)
to reduce the size and staffing of that agency because if they have
time to sit around creating such idiotic forms asking for
information they can't possibly use and nobody will ever read, then
they have too large a payroll.
Do keep in mind that appeals to your "representatives" won't result
in a sudden insight and action that benefits you. The idea there is to
let them see the victims' side of the story. The typical CONgressman
doesn't see what really happens, and so feels no remorse about his
irresponsible actions that undermine your security.
6. Health tip/Fitness tips
You've no doubt heard that humans tap only 5% to
10% of our brainpower (and CONgressmen don't even bother tapping). But
did you know the average person can be considerably stronger physically?
If you watched much Star Trek in the 1960s (or
reruns of same, later), you know that Spock--being Vulcan--had the
strength of four humans (or maybe it was five, I'm not sure). As
"science fiction" as that sounds, being as strong as four humans is
entirely possible. And it's possible for you.
For example, the average American male has a grip
strength of 25 to 30 lbs. I know several people who have tested at a
grip strength of 140 lbs (including myself) and one whose grip strength
is an astounding 200 lbs. These are well above "normal times four."
"But, that's just in your hands," you say. OK, how
about in your arms? If you observe gym rats with a curling bar, you'll
see they typically have 40 to 50 lbs on that bar and are "curling" it by
swinging their backs. Their actual one-arm curl weight is around 20 lbs
(test with a dumbbell and remove the hips from the exercise).
For someone who weighs, say, 160lbs (fairly
muscular male 6' tall with medium-low body fat), that's roughly 13% of
bodyweight. If you multiply that times four, you're at about 50% of body
weight. Is it possible to curl that much weight?
The answer is, "Absolutely yes." To find out how,
read this article:
- An Octopus has 3 hearts. The IRS has 115,000 employees, all of whom
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8. Thought for the Day
much you accomplish depends on whether you find ways to fill your time or you
find ways to save time.|
Wishing you the best,
The views expressed in this e-newsletter are generally not shared by criminals, zombies, or brainwashed individuals.
Except where noted, this e-newsletter is entirely the work of Mark Lamendola. Anything presented as fact can be independently verified. Often, sources are given; but where not given, they are readily available to anyone who makes the effort.
Mark provides information from either research or his own areas of established expertise. Sometimes, what appears to be a personal opinion is the only possibility when applying sound logic--reason it out before judging! (That said, some personal opinions do appear on occasion).
The purpose of this publication is to inform and empower its readers (and save you money!).
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