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Mindconnection eNL, 2007-08-05


In this issue:

  1. Product highlight
  2. Brainpower tip
  3. Time tip
  4. Finance tip
  1. Security tip
  2. Health tip/Fitness tip
  3. Miscellany
  4. Thought for the day

1. Product Highlight

A new 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..

Accepted 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 waste them.

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 wheel?" Yep.

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 population.

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 Independent."
  • 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 not pay 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:

  1. 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 it.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 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 or whatever.

Yes, those kinds of people tend to overpopulate government 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 the GDP).

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 outcome.

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 tape.

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 forms at 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 them.

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 agency.

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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."
  6. 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.
  7. 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:

7. Miscellany

  1. An Octopus has 3 hearts. The IRS has 115,000 employees, all of whom are heartless.
  2. We don't run ads in our newsletter. We do get inquiries from advertisers, all the time. To keep this eNL coming, go to and do your shopping from there (as appropriate).

  3. Please forward this eNL to others.

8. Thought for the Day

How much you accomplish depends on whether you find ways to fill your time or you find ways to save time.


Wishing you the best,

Mark Lamendola


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!).

Personal note from Mark: I value each and every one of you, and I hope that shows in the diligent effort I put into writing this e-newsletter. Thank you for being a faithful reader.

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