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Friday, September 19, 2014

COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS

BRYCE ON LIFE

- Do not despair, try writing a list of the positive things in life instead.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I was having a cigar with a good friend recently where we were lamenting about the state of affairs in our government, business, and the country in general. It's easy to be negative when events do not turn out as you expect them. However, I made the observation people tend to overlook the blessings in their lives, those events, however large or trifle, somehow had a profound effect on our lives. I then started to enumerate mine:

FAMILY - I was fortunate to know both sets of my grandparents, and one set of great-grandparents. I listened and learned from them. My parents were go-getters in business and in life generally; they were a hard act to follow. I was incredibly fortunate to find a wonderful woman who has put up with me for over 30 years. I quickly discovered when you take a wife, you also take her family and I've enjoyed getting to know her side. More importantly, I was present for the birth of my children, which was a life altering experience for me. To watch them grow up to become fine people, and graduate from school, that is hard to top. Both my wife and I made an effort to become an important part of their lives. It may have been hard work, but it was certainly rewarding.

ENTERTAINMENT - I was lucky to see the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in 1964 and watch their "Mania" turn into a phenomenon. Although I saw many rockers over the years, in 1968, I had the rare privilege of seeing Jimi Hendrix in Cincinnati and Rock and Roll was never the same for me. I also enjoyed different tastes in music and was lucky to have seen Frank Sinatra in person near the end of his career. I visited Las Vegas before it grew into a family environment and saw some great acts, including Don Rickles and the Smothers Brothers in their prime.

SPORTS - As a youth I watched hockey, basketball, football, baseball, and the Olympics. In football, two players left an indelible impression on me, Joe Namath of the Jets (offense), and Dick Butkus of the Bears (defense), both revolutionized the game. I also have fond memories of our High School football team, not just winning games but the camaraderie involved with teamwork. To this day, I occasionally have dreams of "suiting up" for a game. As to baseball, I was a Yankee fan as a kid (early 1960's), but more importantly, I was privileged to witness the rise of the Big Red Machine in Cincinnati, culminating in World Series championships in 1975 and 1976. They had four MVPs on the team, a multitude of Golden Gloves and Silver Bats, many All-Stars, and four Hall of Famers (including Rose). I do not believe the world will ever see another team like this again, which is why my interest in baseball is waning. I was also privileged to coach Little League over the years, both boys and girls, and watch my kids grow into fine adults. One last thing, I was lucky to see the great racehorse, Secretariat, in the Kentucky Derby.

FISHING - I fished a lot in the streams of Connecticut as a kid, and did my share of salt water fishing, but it all pales in comparison to fly-fishing in a fresh water stream. I have had the rare opportunity to fly-fish in various parts of the country. North Carolina is where I currently fish, but I have a special place in my heart for Montana.

SPACE - I grew up watching NASA's Mercury program and knew the names of all of the astronauts. This was followed by the Gemini and Apollo programs, culminating with landing on the moon by the crew of Apollo 11 in July 1969. The world was transfixed on the landing, including our household where we watched it on a black and white television set.

SIMPLE JOYS - Simple things have always taken precedence with me over opulent toys and technology. I've always been one to enjoy good conversation, a good hand-rolled Maduro cigar, and single malt whiskey which I discovered in 1978 in the Hotel Melbourne in Australia. Thanks Paul.

BUSINESS - Due to the nature of our business, I have been fortunate to meet with some of the true pioneers of systems and computing, including Les Matthies (the "Dean of Systems"), Tom Richley (the developer of the TOTAL DBMS), Michael Jackson (structured programming), and Robert W. Bemer (the inventor of ASCII code). Since our company worked with everything from mainframes to PC's, people ask me what was my favorite computer. Some might be surprised to learn it was the DEC VAX/VMS mini which was way ahead of its time.

Beyond this, I was fortunate to have met a lot of people around the world through our consulting practice. Everyone from the executives in the boardroom to the people working in the trenches. I have met my fair share of charlatans, crooks, and just plain despicable people, but I've also met a lot of good stand-up people who wanted to make a difference. Although I've visited a lot of places, I have a fondness for Japan. Besides, they play great baseball there.

Our "PRIDE" product line revolutionized the systems world and opened the door to hundreds of competitors. I was fortunate to have been actively involved in the development of our Enterprise Engineering Methodology, Computer Aided Planning tool, and Automated Systems Engineering tool. Such inventions, along with my other consulting activities, gave me a rewarding sense of accomplishment.

POLITICS - Our High School class met Richard Nixon in 1971 in Washington, DC where he provided a tour of the White House for us. One year later I would be campaigning for him on my college campus. It was 1972 when the voting age was lowered to 18, and my class was proud of this designation. Since then, I haven't missed an election.

MASONS - I was pleased to be raised a Master Mason several years ago, following in the footsteps of my father and grandfather. Although the fraternity is fraught with petty politics, as most organizations are, I have been pleased to meet some upstanding men of character along the way.

FRIENDS - When I was growing up, we moved around a lot. Along the way, I learned to cultivate a set of friends. Thanks to social media, I am still in touch with many of them even though they live far away. Most seem to enjoy a good cigar as I do. Even though I haven't seen them in quite some time, I know I can lift up the phone and call them, and it would be like old times. Having a good friend you can trust and level with is priceless.

Some people measure their existence by the accolades and awards they receive or the expensive toys they wear or drive. I think it is a lot simpler than this. Instead, we should relish the special events we witness and the people in our lives. To be able to see the Big Red Machine or Neil Armstrong standing on the lunar surface is priceless, as is the birth of your children. These are epochal events affecting our character, priorities, and perspective on life. They do not come along often which is why we should savor them when they do.

Next time you get disillusioned with life, try writing a list of your blessings. As Clarence said, "You see George, you really had a wonderful life."

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THERE IS MEANING IN YOUR HANDSHAKE - It is not a frivolous gesture, but represents something significant; your word.

  - The misconceptions Americans have related to our personal rights.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) "The Town Square" with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington
"The Morning News" with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim's channel on YouTube.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS (OR IS IT WRONGS?)

BRYCE ON POLITICS

- The misconceptions Americans have related to our personal rights.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

The Declaration of Independence was the first of our governing documents indicating the types of "rights" Americans possess, and where they come from:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Here, the founding fathers suggest such rights are heaven sent, that they represent the fundamental rights God intended man to have.

The US Constitution goes a step further with its accompanying Bill of Rights, where our founding fathers spelled out our rights as citizens. It initially included ten amendments specifying our rights, such as freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms, to be free of unreasonable search, a right to a speedy and public trial, a trial by an impartial jury, a right to confront witnesses, and more. There is now a total of 27 such amendments, with the exception of the 18th prohibiting the manufacturing of alcohol (which was repealed in 1933 by the 21st Amendment).

Interestingly, many Americans believe they have more rights, which they do not. Because of naivety, and laws enacted to support welfare, Americans believe they are entitled to such things as:

* The right to a job - Many young people today believe they are entitled to a job following completion of their education. Just because you possess a college degree does not entitle you to a job.

* The right to a promotion or raise - regardless of the time you work for a company, you are not entitled to a promotion. Normally, this depends on the work ethic you have exhibited as an employee, and available financial resources.

* The right to a second chance. In business, if you make a mistake, rarely are you allowed a "do-over." It is therefore necessary for you to try and do a professional job as much as possible. Although some bosses may be lenient, particularly if you are a "newbie" in the company, one mistake may cost you your job. Also remember, "three strikes and you are out."

* The right to higher education - the harsh reality is higher education is a privilege, not a right. Whereas primary and secondary education is paid for by the tax payer, higher education runs more like a business and, as such, must be paid for by the individual, not the public. In most states, you must attend school until you are 16 years of age. After that, it is optional. For those with no interest in school or disrupt the harmony of the school for others, I suggest they be discharged immediately as they are not only wasting their time, but that of the teachers and administrators, not to mention the other students. Forcing them to attend school is detrimental to education.

* The right to free stuff. The welfare system was originally designed as a safety net to help people should they fail in business or become impaired. Unfortunately, many people abuse the system as opposed to going back to work. They know all of the quirks in our system, whereby they enjoy all of the perks government is willing to provide, such as housing, food, transportation, health care, cell phones, daycare services, and more. Such people no longer are grateful for such generosity, but feel they are entitled to it. The truth is, the government provides a helping hand, but the person must endeavor not to become a ward of the state. They must become a responsible member of society, lead a meaningful and productive life, and enjoy the benefits of freedom, not slavery.

* The right to do whatever we want. We have defined a multitude of laws and regulationS for everything from minor infractions to major indiscretions. Nonetheless, there are people who believe such rules do not apply to them. As such, they feel free to rob, steal, cheat, slander, murder, intimidate, commit bodily harm, etc. These are certainly not "freedom fighters" but rather common criminals which can be found throughout our social strata.

* The right to become citizens. If you are willing to come to this country legally, follow its rules, speak the language, and willing to take the test and Naturalization Oath of Allegiance, then, Yes, you have the right to become a citizen. All others, No.

* The right to vote. If you are 18 years of age or older, have registered to vote, and can prove your identity at your voting precinct, Yes, you have the right to vote. Actually, I would like to see this expanded that the voter has passed a certification test of some kind, such as the test taken by immigrants wanting to become citizens.

We also have the right to like or dislike people, places and things; believe or reject what people say, and; enjoy or reject simple pleasures, such as the movies, music, art, food, etc.

The truth is, in America we only have a handful of rights, most are fabricated by our popular culture and the media. Entitlements are certainly not rights. Our most precious and fundamental rights are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness as endowed by our Creator. To deny the existence of the Creator, is to deny these fundamental rights.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com
For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS - Do not despair, try writing a list of the positive things in life instead.

  - Eyesores or useful tools for candidates?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) "The Town Square" with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington
"The Morning News" with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim's channel on YouTube.

Monday, September 15, 2014

POLITICAL STREET SIGNS

BRYCE ON POLITICS

- Eyesores or useful tools for candidates?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

As we get closer to election day in November, political street signs are popping up everywhere. The signs began to appear early in the summer as a prelude to primary season. Now there is a morass of signs extending from one end of the county to the other. Although there are congressional races in the offing, most signs are related to municipal and county races, such as county commissioners, school boards, mayoral, and judges.

Since most people do not take the time to study the issues, these street signs are incredibly important to cultivate the image of the candidates. The color of the signs and fonts are just as important as the message printed on them. In my area, there doesn't appear to be any signs in black and white. Most have a color theme, either a patriotic red, white and blue, or a simple two color sign to cut down on printing expenses. I have seen green and white to represent Eco-friendly themes, but they are somewhat difficult to read. Orange and blue is another popular combination, but somehow it reminds me of the Denver Broncos.

The two hottest colors, that which attracts the eye, are yellow and red, yet these are avoided for some reason. Maybe they do not want to be too loud.

Democrats like blue signs and Republicans lean to red. The American flag is a common icon to reflect the patriotism of the candidate. For judges, it is common to see icons such as a gavel or a scale of justice. Law enforcement candidates tend to use handcuffs, fire department candidates use fire helmets, and school board candidates use a simple school logo. I wonder what icon they would use for dog catcher?

Personally, I like to see pictures of the candidates on the signs but this is typically avoided as name recognition is of paramount importance. After all, you only see names on a ballot, not photos of the candidates.

Because a street sign is typically limited in terms of space, it has to say just three things:

1. The candidate's name, particularly the last name.
2. The office he/she is running for.
3. The party he/she represents.

Optional: a catchy slogan or motto is useful for conveying a message, or possibly an important endorsement, e.g., "FOP supports Chief So-and-so." Or perhaps a web address is shown.

Where the political signs lose their effectiveness is when they are either bunched together in a single location or one right after another on a street median. At this point, drivers see nothing but a blur and the signs are indistinguishable.

Signs frequently get vandalized, even in the best of neighborhoods. In some developments, including my own, such signs are banned from display in order to maintain harmony. Inevitably, some nut job will put out a sign in spite of the deed restrictions, thereby causing the neighbors to complain and retaliate by displaying signs of competing candidates. Aside from this, when signs are deliberately vandalized or stolen, this is a crime, plain and simple. I may intensely dislike a candidate or issue, but I respect his/her first amendment right to display it. However, when the election is over, regardless of who won or lost, please take down the eyesores. I do not want to see them at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

A few years ago I was visiting some friends in Ohio just prior to the elections there. As I was driving around I came upon a sign saying "Dinkelacker for Judge." With all due respect to the judge, I burst out laughing when I read the name for the first time. Since his first name was omitted from the sign, I pondered what it might be; could it be Dicky Dinkelacker? Donny Dinkelacker? Or maybe it was a woman, Denise Dinkelacker? Debbie Dinkelacker? I went on and on with the combinations which seemed endless. To this day, I still do not know his first name, but why should I? His last name has been indelibly impressed on my mind. The fact I remember it is indicative of how important a last name can be. I know I won't be forgetting it anytime soon.

It is a shame we have to stoop to using street signs. In a perfect world the voters would meet and listen to the candidates and study the issues before forming an opinion, but as we all know, this seldom happens, which is why we have to rely on street signs that create eyesores, and names like Dinkelacker.

How about Denzel Dinkelacker? Or Darnell Dinkelacker? Daphne? Dizzy? Doreen? Dilbert?

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS (OR IS IT WRONGS?) - The misconceptions Americans have related to our personal rights.

  - What the "separation of church and state" really means.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) "The Town Square" with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington
"The Morning News" with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim's channel on YouTube.

Friday, September 12, 2014

ARE WE BECOMING A GODLESS COUNTRY?

BRYCE ON POLITICS & RELIGION

- What the "separation of church and state" really means.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

For some reason, Americans believe there is a legal requirement to separate church and state in the US Constitution. It is now commonly believed organized religion has no business in the workings of the state. The reality is, there is no such stipulation whatsoever in the Constitution. There is only a couple of references to religion in our governing documents. The first is in Article 6 of the Constitution whereby "...no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." The second reference is in Amendment One of the Bill of Rights whereby, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..." I cannot speak for the governing documents of the various states and territories, but as far as the Constitution is concerned, that is all there is pertaining to religion.

So where does this presumption of separation come from? Two places: other countries who embrace such a concept, but more importantly in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 1802 to Baptists regarding the 1st amendment. Jefferson was president at the time and well known as author of the Declaration of Independence (but not the Constitution; that was Madison). In the letter, Jefferson wrote:

"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."

By this letter to the Baptists, Jefferson meant that the United States would not establish a national church. This letter greatly influenced Supreme Court decisions. Keep in mind, Jefferson is speaking on another matter altogether and he is writing as president, not as a justice of the Supreme Court who should rightfully interpret the separation issue. However, for some strange reason, the letter was used to define the separation issue. In Everson vs. Board of Education in 1947, the Supreme Court used a portion of the letter (eight words only) and interpreted it to mean, "The First Amendment has erected 'a wall of separation between church and state.' That wall must be kept high and impregnable." How they came to this conclusion mystifies Constitutional scholars to this day. It is interesting the Supreme Court based its conclusion on an interpretation of a letter, not the Constitution itself.

Based on this Supreme Court decision, atheists and attorneys have used this as a means to drive God out of our country. Today, we hear of football teams prohibited from saying a nondenominational prayer before or after a game, Christmas trees have been banned from schools, students are being suspended for saying "bless you" after hearing someone sneeze, there are movements to remove anything pertaining to God out of government buildings, and there is even an attack on our national motto, "In God we Trust."

The latest attack on God is found in the US Navy where atheists started a movement to remove Gideon Bibles from Navy lodges. These Bibles were provided for the comfort of sailors staying at the lodges. The removal of the Bibles created a furor when it was reported in the press. So much so, the Navy ordered the Gideon Bibles returned back into the lodge rooms.

Make no mistake, Christianity is under attack here, not Judaism, Islam, or even witchcraft, and it appears to be a concerted effort. Some contend it is intended to undermine the country as Christianity played an important role in the founding of America. Whatever the reason, we must beware of such attacks and be prepared to repel them,

If by some chance, our opponents are successful in eradicating God in the federal government, I am one of those who believe all federal employees should work on Christmas Day, particularly postal workers.

Is there really a separation of church and state in the Constitution? No, but it will be necessary to bring a lawsuit to the Supreme Court to overturn their 1947 misinterpretation.

I pray we do not become a Godless country. Without God, the country will fall.

Keep the Faith!

P.S. - Even Sky Masterson read the Gideon Bible, as did Rocky Raccoon.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see: timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  POLITICAL STREET SIGNS - Eyesores or useful tools for candidates?

LAST TIME:  THE HARSH REALITY OF THE WAR ON TERROR  - It's not going away any time soon.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) "The Town Square" with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington "The Morning News" with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim's channel on YouTube.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

THE HARSH REALITY OF THE WAR ON TERROR

BRYCE ON POLITICS

- It's not going away any time soon.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

President Obama would have us believe the War on Terror (WOT) is over and that America won. Nothing could be further from the truth. The WOT is admittedly an unconventional war, as there wasn't any formal declaration, but we have been engaged in it since 9-11, making it 13 years old and the longest war in our history. And the ugly truth is, we will not be getting out of it any time soon.

The WOT is obviously not a typical war in the sense of battle lines, tactical military strategy, and sophisticated equipment. Instead, it is a terrorist campaign where we play defense while our opponents play offense. More importantly, it is necessary to acknowledge we are engaged in a religious war with the Muslims. The fact we are Americans is less important than we are perceived as infidels, the non-believers, and the perceived enemies of Islam. This means it will never end as long as there are Muslim fanatics.

Some will say, "What about the good Muslims, those who do not believe in Jihad?" Those who do not condemn the terrorist actions are encouraging the terrorists through their inaction. It would be an interesting experiment to ask Muslims in enclaves like Dearborn, Michigan to sign a petition condemning Muslim terrorism.

Let us also consider how Muslims have immigrated, some would say infiltrated, not just the United States, but the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, where they have become vocal about changing local laws to adapt to Sharia Law. This has become of great concern to those of us who are happy with our existing laws. Slowly though, Muslims are joining local governments to exert such influence. It has also been said there are Muslims in the Federal Government as well, including the White House. This has become rather unnerving to citizens.

Muslim extremists will not be happy until the western world has capitulated to Islam, regardless how long it might take. This means the WOT will continue unabated and a flash point is inevitable, such as targeting another American icon (e.g., Statue of Liberty, Hoover Dam, Mount Rushmore, etc.) or perhaps something more diabolical such as destroying our electrical grid, capturing or killing our government, or igniting a nuclear device on our shores. Whatever it is, we will again find ourselves having to make some hard decisions as to how to respond.

Should this happen, do not be surprised if Muslims in this country are rounded up and interred in camps as we did with the Japanese-Americans in World War II or perhaps deported to the Middle East. The anger by the American people after such a cataclysmic event will be such that all Muslims will live in fear of our response.

The WOT will not stop until the Muslim extremists either call for a cessation of violence or they are eradicated completely. That is the harsh reality we must all live with.


Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  ARE WE BECOMING A GODLESS COUNTRY? - What the "separation of church and state" really means.

  - And how energy independence can alleviate the problem.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) "The Town Square" with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington
"The Morning News" with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim's channel on YouTube.

Monday, September 8, 2014

THE DISAPPEARING MIDDLE CLASS

BRYCE ON THE ECONOMY

- And how energy independence can alleviate the problem.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.


I recently read a couple of articles regarding the shrinking American middle class. It seems the rich get richer and the poor are doing much better thanks to escalated welfare spending, but the middle class is struggling.

The middle class is an important part of our country both economically and politically. They represent the engine which fuels the economy. They purchase the consumer products, the homes, food, automobiles, and pay the lion's share of the taxes. The upper class also pays taxes, but not to the degree of the middle class. The poor, of course, contribute nothing.

According to "Forbes," 60% of middle class American households have experienced a decrease in income. As the Middle Class diminishes, the poor will inevitably feel the squeeze. Politically, it is not the rich or the poor who run the country, it is the Middle Class. The rich are active politically, but it is the Middle Class, representing the land owners and consumers who ultimately dictate the course of the country politically. The poor doesn't really figure in the formula as they are the most apathetic of voters.

As Aristotle noted centuries ago, "The most perfect political community must be amongst those who are in the middle rank, and those states are best instituted wherein these are a larger and more respectable part, if possible, than both the other; or, if that cannot be, at least than either of them separate."

As the upper and lower classes expand beyond the size of the middle, anarchy will likely ensue. This has been demonstrated in numerous countries around the world. It also means the Middle Class must be allowed to flourish. To do so, we need an increase in full-time jobs, not part-time. Currently, the Obama administration is pushing for an increase in the minimum wage. Can we not achieve the same goal by lowering costs as opposed to raising the minimum wage? According to the government, inflation is at a paltry 2%. Hardly worth worrying about, right? Interestingly, the price of gasoline is not included in their equation. This is strange as delivery costs affect everything. In reality, we have a much higher inflation rate than the government is willing to admit. I would therefore argue:

DON'T RAISE THE MINIMUM WAGE, LOWER THE PRICE OF OIL!

Our priorities are wrong, instead of raising capital, let's cut spending instead. Unfortunately, this is not a popular concept with the current administration. However, if we dedicated ourselves to energy independence, we would lower the cost of living, thereby putting more money in everyone's pocket. In addition, we wouldn't threaten the closure of businesses, but encourage expansion, and lastly, we would be creating legitimate full-time jobs, not just flipping burgers.

Let's not kid ourselves, spiraling inflation is the real culprit here, based on the rising cost of energy. It's the ugly little secret the government doesn't want you to know. However, if we pronounced a national objective of energy independence, we would be stoking the engine of the middle class, not to mention freeing ourselves from entanglements in the Middle East. We obviously have ample resources and technology to achieve the goal, but we seem to lack the will to do so, e.g., the Keystone XL pipeline, the New England pipeline, and the massive gas field in Pennsylvania.

This is all very real and all very plausible, but we either lack the vision to tackle this goal or there is a premeditated attempt to dismantel the country. Let's be clear about one thing, if the middle class continues to decline, it puts us on a clear path to destruction. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.









Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE HARSH REALITY OF THE WAR ON TERROR - It's not going away any time soon.

LAST TIME:  RETIREMENTLAND
  - Do we ever truly retire?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) "The Town Square" with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington
"The Morning News" with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim's channel on YouTube.

Friday, September 5, 2014

RETIREMENTLAND

BRYCE ON LIFE

- Do we ever truly retire?

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I have written about retirement in the past and I still regard it as a mystery. I have had more friends "check out" recently for a variety of reasons. They all claim to be happy to be retired, that they have been planning it for years, and that I am a chump to keep working. I consider this all a bald-faced lie. I've seen some become musicians, where they play pickup gigs. I've seen others become golfers, playing the same course over and over again like a gerbil on a treadmill. And they all seem to be obsessed with Viagra or Cialis for some reason.

Perhaps the hardest part to retirement is adjusting to the pace. At first, most men treat it like a vacation, but they quickly learn it is a vacation that never ends. Initially, they tend to get more rest, eat a little more than they should, take a trip, putter around the house tackling minor assignments, but then they become bored and restless. Instead of having someone set a schedule for them, like their company and boss, now they have to make their own schedule.

Retirement seems to turn executives into gardeners where they spend countless hours turning their property into lush Japanese gardens. At parties, they argue who has the best "Shishi-odoshi" in their "Koi" ponds to scare away deer. I also think they learn the language as part of this process. They have been known to blurt out words and expressions like, "Hai," "non desu ka," "Ohayou gozaimasu," "douzo," and "domo."

Some prefer cultivating vegetable gardens, complete with bib overalls and a straw hat. Somehow I am reminded of Eddie Albert. Tomatoes, corn, and cucumbers are common. The more ambitious farmers try their hand at such things as kale, cabbage, bok choy, okra, snow peas, and a variety of hot peppers. Normally, these are tried only once before reverting back to tomatoes, corn, and cucumbers. For some strange reason, broccoli is avoided at all costs.

At high school reunions I would hear classmates boast they were going to retire soon. They do this in such a way as to make it sound like a game, whereby the winner is the person who retires first. They looked forward to sleeping in during the mornings, travel to exotic locations, or catch up on their reading. Inevitably, they find their body is conditioned to sleep a few scant hours and they still rise before sunup, they rarely travel outside of the county, and the only reading they do is in the bathroom. If anything, they become addicted to television shows like "Jerry Springer," "The View," and "Dr. Phil." Not surprising, they develop the habit of talking back to the television screen as if the host could hear them. The only thing stranger is when they offer applause to the television set.

The retirees start attending breakfasts and lunches with former colleagues. Inevitably old war stories are told over and over again. Breakfast usually consists of eggs, bacon, pork sausage, goetta, scrapple, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, grits, hash browns, and coffee, lots of coffee. Lunches usually includes pastrami, corned beef, hamburgers, chicken wings, and an occasional glass of beer or wine. It is no small wonder they begin to gain weight. There is also the ceremonial toothpick afterwards. They suddenly find themselves volunteering time to charitable organizations and political campaigns. And they spend an inordinate amount of time in doctor offices, where they develop an interest in women magazines.

Retirees discover they miss the socialization they enjoyed at work, which is why they gravitate to group meetings. They realize it is important to their mental health to be able to discuss current events and their observations on life. Without such discussions they become despondent.

To keep busy, it is not unusual for them to go to the post office, not just once, but twice a day (once in the morning and later in the afternoon). They also go for haircuts at dawn. Rarely do they really need a haircut as their hair is now thin. More importantly, it is to manicure the wild hairs growing in their eyebrows, ears, and nose. They also spend considerable time at sporting events for their grandchildren, where they can catch up on their sleep.

More importantly, I've noticed my friends who recently retired get bored easily. Although they pledged to live a life of ease, one by one I see them all going back to take on a job of some kind. Maybe not as rigorous as before, but necessary to practice mental gymnastics. I've seen some people become clerks at some of the home and garden superstores, others work at golf courses, and some go back to what they were doing before retiring. Frankly, I do not know anyone who has dropped out completely. Somehow, they all find a way to go back to work. Maybe retirement is not what they thought it would be.

In spite of all this, I am considered the "oddball" for continuing to work. I still enjoy meeting and working with people; I still enjoy jousting in debate, but more than anything, I still believe I have a role to play and am not ready for the curtain to fall. Besides, I look kind of silly wearing a hardware store apron.

For more on Retirement, see:
Retirement
Retirement Breakdown
What? Me Retire?

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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