Friday, December 22, 2023

Chaos and Reality


“Chaos is the score upon which reality is written.” – Henry Miller

So, we come to the end of the year and it’s time to grade my 2023 predictions and look ahead to 2024.

 2023 Prediction Reviews and Grades:

 _1 The Ukraine-Russia conflict gets resolved. Probably before the end of March.  Russia gets something out of it and the world agrees that Russia did not lose the war (even if they did.)

Grade F -  (Now it’s going to be a stalemate until the 2024 election is over).

_2 With the Ukraine-Russia situation settled world energy markets calm down and the European economy starts a slow recovery.  2023 will not be great and we will have a recession.  But it won’t be very deep nor will it last long.  Inflation eases up.

Grade  B -  (I should have said we might have a recession.  We dodged that one, so I was wrong.  Otherwise, not too far off on this prediction.

_3 The 2024 Presidential campaign is in full swing by the second half of the year.  The Democrats are stuck with Biden/Harris and the Republicans try to figure out how to make Trump go away.  I predict Trump does indeed fade out.  Barring a scandal of some sort, DeSantis is the favorite going into 2024.

Grade F – (Trump has not gone away yet and DeSantis has faded.  Biden/Harris may not be the ticket for the Dems.  American politics are in crazy land.   

_4 The Stock Market surges in the second half of 2023.

Grade A -  Pretty accurate on this one.

_5 2023 will be a big year for M&A activity, especially in transportation/logistics and food/grocery.

Grade A – Again not a bad prediction. 

_6 Georgia repeats as college football national champs. Kansas City wins the Super Bowl.

Grade A – 2024 will be different

_7 As evidence mounts that Covid originated in a Chinese lab, the “Covid Story” goes away.  Republicans will push it, but it will be to a dead end.

Grade B – I think this is sort of the way it turned out.  Will probably be discussed more so in 2024 as part of the Election battle.

_8 There will be some Federal response, at last, to the border crisis.  It has become a nasty loose end going into the 2024 elections and the Democrats recognize the need to do something.

Grade F – Really doesn’t appear that the Feds have done much and it’s going be a major issue during the 2024 campaign.  Weak play by the Dems.

_9 The United States, along with other Western industrialized nations, continues to move further to the left on climate, economic and social issues.  Conservatives will object and continue to issue dire warnings.  But the tide has turned and isn’t likely to change until there is some sort of cataclysmic event.

Grade B – I figured this was an easy grade A prediction but Climate was really the only move further to the left.  If anything Economic and Social issues might be leaning to the right just a bit.

_10 And lastly, I have one prediction that is guaranteed to be correct: Expect the Unexpected. 

 Grade A -  The “unexpected” is always  reliable and the Hamas-Israeli conflict certainly qualifies.  Not unexpected that there would be some sort of Palestinian-related trouble, but certainly not of the current magnitude.  Nor would one have expected the level of protest and anti-Israel sentiment across college campuses in the States.  


 And now for the 2024 Predictions

 _1 The economy shows some improvement driven by lower energy costs and a mid-year interest rate cut.

 _2 Trump/Haney lose to Biden/not Harris in a very close election.  (The Democrats must come up with a viable running mate for Biden given the likelihood that he cannot remain upright for four more years.) Republicans are fighting an uphill battle.  Younger people, BIPOCs and single women will overwhelmingly vote Democrat.  The abortion issue will be a major factor in this election. Whatever the outcome, the loser will go ballistic.

 _3 The Israeli-Palestinian crisis continues triggering terrorists’ attacks on European and American targets. This is going to get very ugly.

 _4 Trump’s legal battles drag on as do Hunter Biden’s. This too shall pass.

 _5 Over in the toy department, Alabama wins another Natty and the 49ers win the Super Bowl.  Paris hosts the 2024 Olympics. It turns out to be more of a Tik-Tok event than a television event. Advertisers, networks and nations lose vast sums of money on the Olympics. Eventually, the world will decide to just let Greece have the Summer Olympics and Switzerland the Winter Olympics on a permanent basis.

 Five predictions are enough.  Of course, there will be the unexpected. And that will change everything.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

It Happened


A recent poll conducted by The Economist/YouGov reports that 20% of young Americans age 18-29 believe that the Holocaust is or may be a myth; that it didn’t actually happen.  If one in five young people actually do not believe the Holocaust occurred;  is it any wonder why so many elite college campuses have become hotbeds of anti-Semitism? 

Certainly one may rightly plead the case on behalf of the Palestinian people who have legitimate grievances against Israel and those who have supported and enabled the injustices inflicted on them. But one must not pretend that the Holocaust did not happen just so they can feel more virtuous in supporting Israel’s enemies.

My father was a member of the 101st Airborne.  He was with those who liberated a Nazi concentration camp.  It was one of the few war experiences he was willing to share. Together we would look at the photos and then he would just go silent.  He could never reconcile what he saw there with what he had been taught and once believed about God.  It haunted him until the day he died at the age of 46; an accidental death and an empty vodka bottle near where he had been working.

So for those of you who may not believe the Holocaust actually happened, I can assure you that it did.


        "For the dead and the living, we must bear witness." - Elie Wiesel

Saturday, December 9, 2023

As Are We All


I was recently watching a television show where an old man in a nursing home was talking to a younger man about the young man’s father whom the old man had known well.  This father had been dead for many years.  The son remembered him from his childhood and the memories were painful.  He was a hard, demanding man; prone to drink and inclined to discipline his children in the old ways.  

The son asked the old man, “You knew him well. What sort of man was my father?”.  

The old man hesitated and then looking into the son’s eyes replied sadly, “A lesser man than he had hoped to be…as are we all.”

That might be one of the best lines I have ever heard.  Most of us have the tendency to judge others far too harshly while giving ourselves a pass on our behavior to the point of even blaming others for the people we have become.  

I’m not going to make this about victimhood or oppression and all the socio-economic-political push and pull around those issues.  This is, and should be to each of us, more personal.  How does one feel about the people in their life who have let them down?  Family members who failed to meet expectations, would- be mentors who let them down, employers who did not deliver on their promises, people in one’s life who just let us down without warning or regret.  

But how often do we look in the mirror and recognize that we are that family member who failed, the mentor who missed the opportunity to change someone’s life for the better, the employer (or employee) who did not deliver on promises or that we are the person in someone else’s life who let them down? 

Repentance begins with recognition.  Certainly, the realization that we are not the person we had hoped to be.  But more importantly, confessing that we are not the person God made us to be.  I don’t mean physically or mentally.  I mean the person you are as an eternal, spiritual being made in the image of God.  That person is the one who must confess they are less than they had hoped to be and most assuredly less than God created them to be… are we all.


Friday, November 24, 2023

Recognizing The Good


In the Hebrew language there are several ways to express thanks or gratitude.  The one I like best for our season of Thanksgiving is Hakarat Ha’tov which literally means “recognizing the good”.  In the world today, finding “good” to recognize can be a challenge.  And too often recognizing something good triggers a severe, negative response from those for whom any good thing came at the expense of something or someone else.  For many the world is a zero-sum game.


But, I cannot believe this world is a zero-sum game. Therefore, I choose to recognize the good things in my life. First and foremost, I am thankful for the Gospel, The Good News of Jesus Christ “for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).  "Salvation for everyone who believes".  It is only a zero-sum game for those who choose to make it so.


My wife, Kayla, is certainly at the top of my good things list.  She is the one who makes everything else in my life better.  But like all good things, they don’t come easy, and they take time.  That would certainly apply to our marriage.  I am no day at the beach yet she still loves me.


Next would be health.  After a couple of scares last year, I recognize how good it is to be healthy again.  Of course, the years along with some bad habits and poor decisions can take their toll.  But I am in pretty good shape now for the shape I’m in.  


And I recognize the good of working.  That I am still engaged in work I can pursue full-time and do reasonably well at my age is a very good thing.  And the team we have at High Road Partners makes that all possible.


I recognize the good of being blessed financially.  By the grace of God, I’ve had some financial success in my career and the very good fortune to be born in the right place, at the right time to the right people.I have more money than I need and certainly more than I deserve.  (And I do realize that some would say that’s a bad thing.)


I recognize the good of The United States of America while still acknowledging the bad of slavery and the treatment of Native Americans.  I also recognize the bad history of denying constitutional freedoms to so many of our citizens.  I recognize that this nation is not perfect and has never been perfect.  But to be sure, it beats anything coming in second place.


Hakarat Ha’tov, “recognizing the good”.  At Thanksgiving, it’s worth a try. We might even start to see some good in those with whom we disagree.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Bread and Circuses


“Frivolity, aestheticism, hedonism, cynicism, pessimism, narcissism, consumerism, nihilism, fatalism, fanatics and other negative behaviors and attitudes suffuse the population.  Politics is increasingly corrupt, life is increasingly unjust, a cabal of insiders accrues wealth and power at the expense of the citizens fostering a fatal opposition of interests between the haves and have-nots, the majority lives for bread and circuses. They worship celebrities and throw off social and moral restraints, shirk duties but insist on entitlements.” – Sir John Bagot Glubb

Sir John Bagot Glubb is a somewhat forgotten figure these days.  He was a decorated British officer who led the Arab Legion from 1939-1956 including fighting against the Israeli Army in 1948.  He passed away in 1986.  He wrote quite a bit about the Middle East and his observations are worthy of consideration. 


But this is about another of his writings: “The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival.”  This essay written in 1976, concludes with a summary.  Here are some of his observations and conclusions:


_1 Looking back over 4000 years of history, the greatness of a nation only lasts around 250 years.  This is a consistent pattern.

_2 We do not learn from history because our studies are brief and prejudiced.

_3 The stages of the rise and fall of great nations seem to be:

      The Age of Pioneers

      The Age of Conquests

      The Age of Commerce

      The Age of Affluence

      The Age of Intellect

      The Age of Decadence

_4 Characteristics of the Age of Decadence:




      Frivolity (behavior that is silly, not serious)

      An influx of foreigners

      The Welfare State

      A weakening of religion

_5 Causes of this Age of Decadence

     Too long a period of wealth and power


     Love of Money

     Loss of a sense of duty

_6 The life histories of great nations are amazingly similar and are due to internal factors.

_7 The falls of these nations are diverse because they are largely due to external causes.


Born in Preston, England in 1897, John Bagot Glubb was the product of a different time and place. And some of his comments and opinions would certainly get him cancelled these days.   But in his defense, he is primarily sharing historical facts albeit shaded by his own personal biases.  Nevertheless, Sir John’s overall assessment as to how great nations rise and fall is mostly on point.  


When he wrote this essay the United States was still in the Age of Commerce and Affluence although beginning its steady decline into an Age of Intellect and Decadence.  Glubb suggests that the most dangerous by-product of the Age of Intellect is the idea that the human brain can solve all of the world's problems.  In our day the “global elites”, primarily wealthy progressive humanists, are committed to this idea.  How’s that working out so far? 


And clearly, we have fallen even deeper into the Age of Decadence.  What Affluence we have enjoyed in recent years has been funded by massive government spending and debt, not by the effort and productivity of our citizens.  One might say we are past the tipping point and are now facing the battle for survival.  Winning this battle will take sacrifices which so far, we have been unwilling to even consider, much less make.  Do we continue to live for “bread and circuses” until they are gone, or do we get off the merry-go-round now?




Wednesday, November 8, 2023

The Old Rugged Church


No one really knows exactly how many Protestant denominations there are.  I suppose it depends on who’s counting.  Some say the number is in excess of 30,000.  I think that’s unlikely and must include every “independent” bible church along with a growing number of virtual churches who happen to have a website or a mailing address.  But whatever the number, it’s embarrassingly large.  Large enough that critics may rightly charge Protestants with a lack of unity in their beliefs.  And if Protestants can’t agree on their beliefs about church, how can they be so confident in their beliefs about God?


It comes down to “essential” beliefs vs “preferences”.  It would be almost 400 years after The Resurrection; long before the Great Schism, The Reformation and the subsequent outbreak of Denominationalism; that the one and only church of that time could agree on the essentials of the faith and came up with the Apostles and Nicene Creed statements.  These are probably as close to the essentials of the faith as we can get.  Some churches still recite those creeds today.  Why some churches do not is another matter.


For over a decade my wife and I have been attending a local Disciples of Christ church.  She grew up in this denomination and I, being a recovering Baptist, followed her to the Disciples.  The Disciples are considered a mainline denomination even though they are relatively new, forming out of the Restoration Movement of the early-mid 1800’s in the United States.  But in 1906 the Church of Christ denomination was formed and broke away from the Disciples.  The split is generally attributed to the use of musical instruments in worship. Today the Church of Christ is “a cappella” and the Disciples use musical instruments.  But the underlying differences are really about liberal vs conservative views on Bible interpretation and authority.  The Church of Christ is conservative and the Disciples have become increasingly liberal. However, some Disciples churches still tend to lean conservative and our church definitely fit in that category which suited us just fine.  A nice blend of conservative doctrine and beliefs joined with traditional worship.  


For at least the past 40 years mainline, traditional churches have experienced a significant decline in membership. Most of this can be attributed to mainline churches becoming more liberal and socially conscious at the expense of Biblical and traditional orthodoxy.  In the meantime, fundamentalist evangelical churches have grown.  With that growth most have embraced a more “seeker friendly” worship experience with contemporary music, casual/no dress codes and dynamic preachers.  For the serious “seekers” they offer “small group” bible studies where the real “disciple-making” goes on.  


This “not your grandparents' church” experience is working well enough and where matched up with bible-based messaging, churches are flourishing.   Now even the old mainline churches are chasing the new ways of doing church.  But lacking a meaningful, life changing message, they continue in decline.  Sadly, in the race to change, traditions that hold meaning for many of us have been lost.  As a result, some older Christians find themselves unchurched or churched unhappily out of habit or convenience or for the sake of friendships.


Our church has moved away from its Disciples roots and traditions.  Attendance is up, baptisms are up, more young families are showing up.  So it’s working. Praise God for that.  But for those of us who feel deeply touched when the congregation is saying the Lord’s Prayer or singing the Doxology, going to church these days just isn’t the same.  Nevertheless, our time is short, and God’s ways are not our ways.  So, we will adjust and worship as best we can for as long as we can... wherever we can.

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow….”

Sunday, October 22, 2023

We Must Do

These days a simple act of kindness is rare.   I was the recipient of one such simple act the other day.

It was a short flight from Austin to DFW.  The flight was a fully loaded regional jet with limited space for carry-on luggage.  Luckily, I did manage to get my small roller bag into the overhead.  But when I sat down, I noticed a long stream of blood running from my knuckle to the tip of my index finger.  In the battle with the overhead bin, I had been wounded.  Fortunately, I had Kleenex in my backpack and managed to eventually stop the bleeding, at least as long as I kept a tissue on the knuckle. 

 Knowing that I had a long drive back home from the airport I decided that when we landed, I would purchase some band-aids at one of the airport shops.  When I got off the plane there was a shop almost directly across from the gate.  Perfect.  I walked over, pulling my roller bag with a backpack on top.  I had a tissue on the injured hand, pressed between fingers and held as best I could with my thumb.  I quickly found the display with all sorts of personal care items, but no band aids.  

 The attendant, a small, middle-aged lady, was just finishing up with a customer.  I asked her if there were any band aids.  In Spanish-accented English, she said no and that she was sorry.  Then she noticed the tissue on my hand and asked me to wait.  She began digging around under the counter and pulled out a small first aid kit.  After searching for a moment, she pulled out a couple of band aids and asked if these would help. I responded with a grateful yes that they would be perfect. I thanked this lady for her kindness and offered to pay her something for the band aids.  She simply shook her head and said in her broken English: “You need first aid…I must do.”

 The honest sincerity of her words really touched me.  I stopped at the restroom, cleaned the wound and applied the band-aid.  And I continued to hear her words: “I must do”.  Even now days later, I still hear her voice and those words.  I had expected a cold matter-of-fact “no band-aids” response. What I received was an unexpected, simple act of kindness from a busy woman who had no reason to bother with me other than it was something she “must do.”

I have been asking myself how many “must do” situations I have walked away from over the years.  More than a few I must confess.  More often than not…I don’t do.  May God have mercy on me a sinner.

"Depart from me you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." Matthew 25: 41-43

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Cus Luchd-Tadhail

"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." - Yogi Berra 

We made it back from Scotland.  And Scotland is just as beautiful as remembered and the locals are just as friendly.  It’s a fine country and I am proud to have Scottish ancestry (from my mother’s side …Morrisons they were.)  

The only problem is “Cus Luchd-Tadhail” :  Too Many Visitors.  I’m not sure the locals would all agree with that.  Tourism is big business in Scotland and employs a lot of people.  It is absolutely essential to those living up in the Highlands.  But it’s a mixed blessing just as it is in all popular tourist destinations. 

 And no question, Scotland has become too popular.  It began back when Queen Victoria visited the Scottish Highlands and fell in love with the area.  Upper class English families began taking holidays in Scotland. It became the thing to do.  Then as train service spread even those with less wealth and leisure time could afford to visit Scotland if only for a few days. 

 It was the Loch Ness Monster that really put Scotland on the broader tourist map.  There were local reports in the late 1800’s about sightings of some odd lizard or large salamander-like creature inhabiting the Loch on the River Ness.  But, it was the 1930’s before “the photo” and story was published.  

 The bigger tourist explosion has been driven by books, movies and television.  From Braveheart, to Harry Potter, to Outlander; Scotland has been opened up to the world.  Scotland has become a key location for television and movie production.  The increased interest in ancestry and genealogy has also contributed to Scottish tourism.  When one’s DNA connects one to the Scots as well as to the Norse invaders who stayed long enough to inter-marry, build castles and otherwise leave their mark on the place; one feels compelled to go and see. 

 So now too many people are visiting Scotland.  The crowds are made worse by the lack of service.  Brexit and Covid have left Scotland and England short-handed when it comes to service workers, most of whom used to come from eastern Europe.  It’s not unusual to see restaurants closed or only open limited hours.  Some tourist venues are not even open due to the lack of staff.  All of which squeezes more tourists into fewer places.

Will I ever go back to Scotland?  Perhaps if I live long enough and remain healthy.  But first we want to visit Italy, Spain and Germany while we can.  And there are lots of places in North America I want to visit or re-visit before it’s too late.  The Holy Land used to be on my bucket list, but I know it too suffers from “Too Many Visitors”.  I think I would prefer to keep tourist-free images in my mind.


Thursday, September 7, 2023

Lost, Confused or Confounded

Next week we leave for Scotland.  Our first overseas trip since 2019.  Both Kayla and I have Scottish ancestry.  Kayla on her father’s side and me on my mother’s.  But mostly it’s just because we like it there.  We spent only a few days in Scotland when we went to England in 2018 and said then that we wished we’d had more time there.  So, this trip will be a full 12 days, all in Scotland. 

But I must admit that I am no longer a good traveler.  For years I traveled a lot on business and fared well enough.  Yet I never liked crowds and now I absolutely hate them.  So, airports are not a great experience for me.  Long flights are even worse.  Thankfully we are traveling business class.  But I’ll not sleep much and will start calculating how long before we land about half-way through the trip. Then there is just the hassle of traveling.  Especially burdensome for long trips overseas.  We always take too much yet leave something behind.  

Then there is being a senior citizen.  I don’t like being treated like an old person, but one must get used to it when one gets old.  Nevertheless, I am self-conscious about it.  When younger people look lost, confused or confounded everyone just thinks they are busy or  distracted by all of the important things they must be doing.   When an old person looks lost, confused or confounded; people feel sorry for them.  Or some may offer to help, usually in a condescending sort of way.  And occasionally a bad one will try to pick their pocket.  Therefore, I make the extra effort to appear confident and capable, a man on a mission.  But it's very tiring and only adds to the embarrassment when I actually become lost, confused or confounded.

We will celebrate our birthdays in Scotland, mine on the 15th in Edinburgh and Kayla’s on the 20th in Portree on the Isle of Skye.  We’ll see all the tourist attractions, take a lot of photos, eat too much, drink too much and sleep poorly.  We’ll be ready to come home before it’s time to come home.  We will miss our own bed, our dogs and the ease and convenience of just being home.  However, before the year is over, we’ll begin planning our next big adventure.  For we know that we have only so many years left to travel before one or both of us becomes permanently lost, confused or confounded. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

A New World Song


“Lord it’s a damn shame,

What the world’s gotten to

For people like me and people like you.

Wish I could just wake up and it not be true

But it is, oh, it is…


Livin’ in the new world

With an old soul.

These rich men north of Richmond,

Lord knows they all just wanna have total control.”

These lyrics are from the hottest new song in the English-speaking world, “Rich Men North of Richmond”, by Oliver Anthony.  Mr. Anthony was virtually unknown until the second weekend in August of 2023.  He lives just outside of Farmville VA, 70 miles southwest of Richmond VA and a million miles from those “Rich Men” to the north.  He’s a young man trying to make ends meet on a small farm, playing music and working as much as he can.  I expect in the coming weeks we’ll find out more about Mr. Anthony.  His life will get picked apart and I feel sorry for him in that regard.  But not too sorry for him, as I do believe he has struck musical gold.


Yet the real story here is not about Oliver Anthony nor is it just about those Rich Men North of Richmond or anywhere else where the rich get richer.  The real story is about all the people who used to work to get ahead and now just work to survive.  It’s about the working middle class.  Wages have not kept pace with the cost of living, jobs that used support a family have disappeared for a variety of reasons and our education system has failed to prepare people for the “blue collar” careers that do pay well.  


In addition, we have created an image of success and the “good life” that is unrealistic and bears little resemblance to the lives of the working middle class back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.  Most of us lived in small houses, drove used cars, had one television, one phone, a radio or two and a subscription to the local newspaper. We had the clothes and shoes we needed and no more.  We ate home-cooked meals and no one waited in line to buy coffee drinks that cost almost half as much as a pound of coffee you could brew at home.  This list of differences between then and now could go on.  But the point is that today we have a lot more stuff to spend our money on.  The sort of stuff that 50 years ago the working middle class would have viewed as luxury items they could not afford.  And they were OK with that because that’s how most of their neighbors lived.  


But today a lot of people can afford, or least pretend to afford, the expensive add-ons.  Back in the day there weren’t that many “haves” with whom we middle-class "have-nots" could compare ourselves.  We had a handful of very wealthy people, a whole lot of folks in the middle and then some really poor folks at the bottom.  Now the middle-class has been hollowed out.  And we have more people below the middle as well as more people living above the middle.  And at the very top we have some ridiculously wealthy individuals. 


It's that gap between the upper middle class and the lower middle class that stands out.  With the “middle” middle-class gone, we now have this contrast between upper middle-class households and lower middle-class households.  The professional income class, or in some instances the two-income professional class which make up most of the “upper middle” are living in fine houses, in the best neighborhoods, sending their kids to good schools, driving new cars and taking expensive, fun vacations.  Living the dream although they may just be getting by and saving very little.  The lower middle income (working) class households are earning considerably less, living in less desirable neighborhoods and their kids are probably not getting the best education.  This gap between the upper and lower classes is highly visible.  The irony is that most people in that “upper middle class” group have no more regard for the “Rich Men North of Richmond” than do the folks in the lower middle class.  The difference is that the upper middle-class group is complaining while floating around in their swimming pools while the lower middle-class folks are worried about putting food on the table.


One of the most important outcomes of Oliver Anthony’s song is that it’s essentially become the anthem for working class people all over the world regardless of race, gender or religion. It sums up the frustration of hard-working, honest, self-reliant people who resent those rich men, aka the elites, who are pulling the strings and gaming the system in their favor.  Nor do these same working-class people have much regard for the non-working poor who rely on those same rich men to take care of them in exchange for their votes.


It will be interesting to see how long the public keeps listening to Mr. Anthony’s song.  Probably until some Rich Man North of Richmond makes it their theme song for the next election cycle.  

Monday, July 3, 2023

The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

 In Congress, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

A Tale of Money


Once upon a time there was a King who decided the best way to keep the people happy would be to create more money and just give it to them so everyone could afford to buy what they wanted.  It wasn’t long before there were lots of goods to be moved throughout the Kingdom.  More goods than all the King’s horses and all the King’s men could carry.  So, the King made the people of his kingdom pay more for their goods and rewarded his horses and his men accordingly.  But the people struggled to pay the higher prices.  They begged, bartered, gave up land and even sent their children to work for the King just to pay their bills. 


Ultimately, the people of the kingdom just stopped buying things period.  They decided to make do and go without.  The economy of the kingdom ground to a halt.  This alarmed the King, so he called an emergency meeting of his Privy Council.  The King suggested that perhaps he should again create more money and give it to the people so they could afford to buy things.  The younger members of the Council thought this was a great idea and even went so far as to suggest that the King should consider just paying people not to work.  They advised the King that this would make him very popular with the people.  He would be remembered as a kind and generous king; and even find favor with God.


Fortunately, the more senior members of the Council explained economic reality to the King and how the concept of money works in the real world.  Even the Queen respectfully told the King that creating more money was not the best idea in the first place and just giving it to the people for producing nothing of value would eventually make the money…well, it would make the money worth nothing of value.  So, the King chose to let economic forces work themselves out. 


Sure enough, as demand for goods fell, so did the prices.  By now there were more than enough of the King’s horses and the King’s men to carry the goods.  Thus, the King allowed the people of his kingdom to pay lower prices.  Eventually the Kingdom was once again prosperous, and its people were happy.  So, the King and his Council decided this was the perfect time to raise taxes.  There was much that needed to be done throughout the Kingdom and the people would no doubt understand.


“It is a popular delusion that the government wastes vast amounts of money through inefficiency and sloth.  Enormous effort and elaborate planning are required to waste this much money.” – P.J. O’Rourke

Monday, May 15, 2023

What Comes Next?


"Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:34

A recent survey by the global marketing research firm IPSOS found that people around the world are most worried about Inflation, Poverty/Social Injustice, Unemployment, Crime & Violence and Financial/Political Corruption.  More simply one may well conclude that our world is most worried about those things of Money and Blood.


Inflation, Poverty/Social Injustice, Unemployment, Crime & Violence and Financial/Political Corruption are all tightly woven into the economy.  What is affordable (Inflation)?  Who can afford what and why can’t everyone (Poverty/Social Injustice)?  How does one obtain and retain one’s ability to purchase those things one needs and wants (Unemployment)?  And lastly how does one protect oneself and one’s possessions from evildoers (Crime & Violence and Financial/Political Corruption).   Money and Blood.


The survey did not ask the Big Question, although there may have been an “Other” option at the bottom of the list.  A list which no doubt included specific health and relationship related questions.  And of course, Climate Change was somewhere on that list.  According to climate activists it should absolutely be THE most worrisome of all our concerns. They warn us long and loudly that it will ultimately sweep us away along with all our treasures.  But neither is it the Big Question. 


The Big Question, the Eternal Question is What Comes Next?  What awaits us on the other side of this life?  When the line goes flat are our worries over?  For is it then no longer our burden to worry about Inflation, Poverty/Social Injustice, Unemployment, Crime & Violence or Financial/Political Corruption?  Hot or cold, wet or dry; will it matter?  For us the clock has stopped.  No more sleepless nights, our journey complete. Or is it?  What Comes Next?  If you don't that would be something worth worrying about. 

"But first seek His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." - Matthew 6:33

Sunday, May 7, 2023

The Truth About Hiring Decisions


Brace yourself for the truth about hiring decisions.  After years of experience in industry and headhunting, I have found that most hiring decisions are based on some combination of 8 key factors: Experience, Appearance, Likeability Communication Style, Work Ethic, Skills/Ability, Personality and Integrity. Each one is important.  But that doesn’t mean the impact each one should have on the hiring decision is equally important.   


Unfortunately, too many hiring decisions are not the best hiring decisions. The problem is this: Experience, Appearance, Likeability and Communication are the most visible factors (MVF’s), and therefore end up being the primary reasons someone gets hired.  Work Ethic, Skills/Ability, Personality and Integrity are much less visible (LVF’s) and more difficult to evaluate.  Too often we equate Likeability with Personality.  Likeability is part of Personality, but it doesn’t really tell you much about an individual’s Real Personality.  Experience can certainly tell us something about a person’s skills/ability and work ethic, but it’s not everything.  And if you’re just taking it from a resume or the candidate's personal testimony, it may mean even less.


Considering that many companies fail to look closely at the LVF’s and base their hiring decisions primarily on MVF’s, we end up with a lot of bad hiring decisions (BHD’s).  Now, BHD’s create opportunities for headhunters.  So perhaps I am working against my own economic interests to point this out.  But the world would be a better place for employers, candidates and headhunters if we made better hiring decisions.


I am not suggesting that employers ignore experience, appearance, likeability or communication.  We must start somewhere.   So, we look at resumes.  We probably check them out on LinkedIn.  We might even look at their social media posts; or google them and see what bubbles up.  At this point we are essentially looking at candidate advertising.  Let’s admit it, resumes are people presenting themselves in the best possible way.  They only highlight the good stuff; often they are misleading and, at worst they are fraudulent. LinkedIn can be much the same.  Social media posts and google can raise some interesting questions.  But there is something creepy about digging around in all of that.  Do I really need to see a candidate in a sombrero and speedo?


But if employers wanted to focus on a candidate’s job performance potential, they would put more emphasis on those LVF’s when making hiring decisions.  Work ethic, skills/ability, personality and integrity are more likely to determine job performance outcomes than experience, appearance, likeability or communication style.  Certainly these are important.  But they should be considered more as minimum requirements for candidates, not the primary determinants for who gets hired.  I say that fully recognizing that experience, appearance, likeability and communication styles are very important in certain roles.  But how many times have we seen people who look great, are likeable, excellent communicators and have impressive work histories turn out to be bad hires.  Some people who look good, sound good and check all of the boxes just “fail upward” for years before being found out. Washington DC is full of such characters.


To be clear, I am not suggesting that “perfect candidates” are out there waiting to be found.  Far from it.  Perfect candidates do not exist and those who come close to it are expensive, have a lot of options and more than likely what you are offering isn’t one of them.  What I am saying is be careful not to fall in love with a candidate’s resume or how they look or how they talk or just how much you like them.  Never assume that “great” candidates make great hires. The MVF’s should be filters in selecting candidates who go to the next round.  In the next round targeted interviews, meaningful reference checks and personality/cognitive assessments should be used to determine which candidate is most likely to be successful in this position in your company.  Think about your top performers.  They are usually a well-balanced combination of work ethic, skills/ability, personality and integrity that fits the position and your company.  

“People are not your most important asset.  The right people are.” – Jim Collins

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Crouching At The Door


Sometimes it grabs you 

And you know it will win.

Sometimes it whispers

Old friend, may I come in.


It's the lie that changes colors,

But is never in the light.

It taunts you in the morning

And haunts you in the night.


It says that you deserve it.

You've earned the right to choose.

This life you didn't ask for, 

It's yours now, win or lose.


You also know your time is short,

But The Word says there is more.

Just remember what lies waiting…

Sin is crouching at the door. 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

And It Shall Come To Pass


“Do not give dogs what is holy or cast your pearls before swine; lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” -Matthew 7:6

The “He Gets Us” ads that ran during The Super Bowl (and continue to run) have created quite an uproar.  Spending millions of dollars in an attempt to share a message of love and unity in the name of Jesus may give some of us born again Christians a warm-fuzzy, but it seems to have really upset most everyone else.  As a Christian, I thought the ads were well done and sent a great message.  But, at the same time, I cringed knowing how they would not be well-received by many viewers and, in the end, just become grist for the progressive social media mill.  “Do not give dogs what is holy or cast your pearls before swine.”

A few days before The Super Bowl, a handful of students in Kentucky decided to stick around after the Wednesday night service at the chapel on the Asbury University campus.   They continued to sing and pray and share testimonies.  They confessed sin and vowed repentance.  By all accounts they reached out to God and God showed up.  The Holy Spirit descended upon Wilmore Kentucky and the service continued.  More people showed up and worshipped.  A revival began.  More than a revival, it’s been called an awakening.  People from all over North America and beyond have been traveling to Asbury and experiencing it for themselves.  Something special has happened.  And it’s spreading to other college campuses.  Gen Z has called upon the name of the Lord and He has responded.

The creators of the “He Gets Us” ads are spending over $20M to spread their message.  And I’m sure they mean well and God has taken notice of their faithful and very expensive effort.   The young people at Asbury University just prayed and sang and worshipped and confessed and repented.  God did more than take notice, he joined the celebration.  My dream is that a fire has started in Kentucky and God’s Spirit will not be quenched.   

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;

Your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, your young men shall see visions,

Your old men shall dream dreams.” – Acts 2:17

Saturday, February 4, 2023

Spock Marks

 “I think we should bring up our children with much less pressure to compete and get ahead: no comparing one child with another, at home or in school; no grades.  Let athletics be primarily for fun, and let them be organized by children and youths themselves.” – Dr. Benjamin Spock

When people talk about Dr. Spock these days, they mostly think of the Star Trek character played by Leonard Nimoy.  But those of us who are old enough remember Dr. Benjamin Spock.  In 1946 his book, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, was published.  By the end of the millennium his book  had sold over 50 million copies and been translated into 42 languages.  Dr. Spock advocated new ideas about parenting; ideas which at that time were considered radical and definitely out of the mainstream.  Prior to Dr. Spock, the experts recommended what can best be described as “tough love” in order to prepare children for adult life in a harsh demanding world.   Dr. Spock encouraged parents to show their children more affection and consideration.  Allow children to develop as they would and could, not necessarily as they should.


Dr. Benjamin’s Spock’s ideas revolutionized parenting and he is considered one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.   Spock was not the only “expert” advocating new ways of parenting, but he was the most widely read.  His recommendations seeped into our culture.  And Americans were primed for the change.   The Greatest Generation, my parents, had lived through the Depression, the Dust Bowl and WW2.  Now they stood victorious.  The United States was champion of the world.  They would give their children a better life, starting with a happier childhood.


Baby Boomers may talk about the jobs they worked as teenagers, the responsibilities they had and the demands put on them by parents, teachers and coaches.  The reality is that Baby Boomers had it easy compared to their parents and grandparents and those further down the line.  They were the first generation to be put on a pedestal just for being young.   And when a nation allows its course to be set by the preferences and feelings of its children, it is destined to have more chaos and less order. 


A lot of things needed to change in post-WW2 America.  Unregulated industrialization was on a fast track to destroying our environment.   Race and gender discrimination was real and rampant.  In the midst of The Cold War we were encouraged to believe that those who were not fully supportive of U.S. policies and actions were somehow “un-American”, perhaps even “Commies”.   And then there was Vietnam. Change did come and Baby Boomers were right out front waving their fists at institutions and authorities.  Not all Baby Boomers.  Perhaps not even most Baby Boomers.  Nevertheless,  most did embrace the appearance, the politics, the music and the bumper stickers of change.


But a funny thing happened on the way to righting all that was wrong with America.  We began to give up a lot of things that were right about America.  The Cultural Revolution began and most of us didn’t even realize it, at least not at that time.  Looking back now, we can see it.   We tell ourselves that we weren’t actively or intentionally involved. The truth is that a generation of over-indulged, spoiled, entitled Americans danced, drank, smoked, snorted, screwed and divorced their way through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s before finally settling down to make lots of money and become conservative.


And their children are the worse for it.  Equally spoiled and over-indulged but with less love; going through life without the memory or the stories of challenging times and honorable ways of living.  The grandchildren fare no better, adrift in single parent or multi-parent households, poorly educated and connected by social media to others and a world coming apart.  

Should one wonder at the trends and ideas pervading our culture these days?  Not when one confesses that it began on their watch when they exchanged duty and responsibility for comfort and personal freedom. 

“The 1960’s were about releasing ourselves from conventional society and freeing ourselves.”- Yoko Ono