#297 Making America Great Again #7: Presidential Candidates Must Pass 8th-Grade EOY Exams

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “When we were talking about using the rules of golf as a guide to personal and professional behavior, I was reminded how little Trump followed the rules of golf…and then asked myself, ‘Did he really know the rules?’…and, ‘What else didn’t he know?'”

JC:  “Know about what?  He played a lot of golf so he must have known some rules.  You have something else in mind?”

Greenie:  “Yes.  Did Trump even know what most any 8th grader knows.”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “Don’t make me laugh?  Not know what an 8th grader know?  Still not sure what you’re talking about.”

Greenie:  “Remember when Trump held that so-called ‘Patriotic Ceremony” after the Super-Bowl champs Philadelphia Eagles refused to go to the White House?”

JC:  “Oh, you mean the ceremony when the Marine Corps Band played ‘God Bless America’ and it was clear to the world that Trump did not know the words?”

Greenie:  “Some patriot, huh?  Bone-spur and all.”

Canadian FlagJC:  “Now I think I see where you’re headed.  What about Trump implying…or at least asking…if Canada burned down the White House in 1812?  No that was the British.  Gee, Donald, in case you didn’t know Canada has been a long-time friendly neighbor.  Canada is north of the continental US, except for one area near Detroit, and a major trading partner until you tried to ruin the relationship.”

Greenie:  “How long was the list of stuff he didn’t know that virtually every 8th-grader would know?”

JC:  “Like the Department of Justice is supposed to enforce the laws made by Congress and not be the personal defense attorney for the president’s wrong doing?”

TurtleneckJordan:  “So, Greenie, exactly what are you proposing?”

Greenie:  “I’m embarrassed the idea sounds so…well, so imbecilic.  But an idea for Making America Great Again is to make sure the presidential candidates…no, make that all candidates for Federal office and all Cabinet nominees…can pass the end-of-year exams given to 8th graders.”

JC:  “Exams given to 8th graders?  That sounds absurd…but a good idea.  How do we test for stuff like knowing the words to ‘God Bless America’?”

Student ExamGreenie:  “I don’t know how we’d test for some things but by forcing candidates for Federal office and Cabinet nominees to take 8th-grade end-of-year exams, you can assume that those who pass at least paid some attention to teachers along the way.  And anyone who failed…”

JC:  “…Such as the Donald, who very likely would have failed?”

Greenie:  “Yes, like the Donald and some of his merry band of munchkins, would be ineligible to run or hold office.”

Jordan:  “You really think we should propose something so basic – passing an 8th-grade exam?”

JC:  “I’m with Greenie.  Before Trump became president, anyone who made such a proposal would have been sent off to the funny farm.  But now the idea seems reasonable.”

Jordan:  “How do we frame the idea so it does not seem so, as you said Greenie, imbecilic?”

dunce capsGreenie:  “Why not be straightforward?  No reason to sugarcoat.  I think we give some examples of basic information that Trump and the Cabinet members did not know.  There are lots of examples where it looked as if they hadn’t graduated from 8th grade and/or should have been wearing dunce caps.  It was embarrassing for the country.”

Jordan:  “Now that we’ve had the Revenge Revolution, is putting forth passing the 8th-grade exam idea opening old wounds with the Trumpsters?  I know most of the Trumpsters lost and we have many new members of Congress but the idea seems a bit petty.”

Greenie:  “I hear you and point well taken.  I also know, as a country, we can’t ignore the lessons of history.  The idea of passing a test given to 8th graders might get ignored.  However, I think we should at least put the idea on the table and generate some discussion.”

JC:  “What about testing candidates for Federal office, at least presidential candidates, for mental stability and maybe a test for early stage Alzheimer’s?  Throw in Cabinet members as well.”

Jordan:  “That idea will be more controversial and more complicated to get implemented.  Might be worth discussing more…but let’s take a break first.”

(Continued)       

 

Advertisements

#296 Making America Great Again #6: Live by the Rules of Golf

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters1.jpg

Jordan:  “Now, if its ok with you guys, I have another idea for making America great again.”

JC:  “Greenie, are you ready for Jordan’s lightning bolt?”

Greenie:  “OK, Jordan, what’s the idea?”

Jordan:  “We, societal we, would be well served by aligning our behavior with the rules of golf.”

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “Since neither JC nor I play golf, we have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Jordan:  “Golf has a set of rules that one is expected to follow.  But the difference between golf and other sports is there is no referee to monitor behavior or enforce the rules.”

JC:  “So, if I understand correctly, the individual golfer is supposed to say ‘I broke a particular rule and therefore the penalty is whatever.’ That seems weird.”

GolferGreenie:  “Are you serious?  The individual golfer is supposed to penalize herself or himself for some rules infraction?  I agree, that does seem weird.”

Jordan:  “It might seem weird at first but among people who take golf halfway seriously, there is an incredible amount of self-induced pressure to follow the rules.”

JC:  “So, even if there is no other golfer who can see the rules infraction, you feel pressure to call a penalty on yourself…or whatever you call it.”

Jordan:  “What might seem even stranger is when you’re playing alone, you still don’t break the rules.”

Greenie:  “That behavior is really interesting.”

Jordan:  “In addition to the rules that result in some kind of penalty, there’s rules of etiquette one is supposed to follow.  Some examples, who tees of first, always repair the ball mark on the green, replace the divots, rake the sand trap, leave your bag next to and not on green, don’t drive your golf cart near the green…and a bunch of others.”

Trump Driving on GreenJC:  “I guess I never appreciated all the hullabaloo about Trump, when he was president, driving his cart on the putting green at Mar-a-Lago and that place in New Jersey he used to play.”

Jordan:  “Bedminster.”

JC:  “That’s the place.”

Greenie:  “I hate to sound so naïve but is driving a golf cart on the green so bad?  It’s got those fat tires and they use some type of lawnmower to cut the green.  Is driving the golf cart on the green really that bad?”

TurtleneckJordan:  “As far as hurting or killing the grass on the green, you’re right.  Driving on the green one time is no big deal.  But, in terms of golf etiquette, I can’t think of anything more egregious. In the rules of golf etiquette, you’re not supposed to walk on the green in an area where someone else is going to putt…aka, the putting line.”

Greenie:  “You’re not supposed to walk on…what did you call it…someone’s putting line.  Not walk on it even if the other guy is your opponent?”

Jordan:  “Not even an opponent.  Walking on the line might affect the roll of the ball.”

JC:  “Wow.  If walking’s on the guy’s putting line is bad, what about driving over it?  By driving on the green Trump ignored a whole slew of rules of etiquette.   Maybe worse, he effectively told everyone else in the golf group and every member at Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster, ‘Screw you.  I’m the king and I set my own rules.’”

Greenie:  “Do golfers really follow the rules?  This all sounds so hypothetical.  How can you tell?”

FlagstickJordan:  “I’ve tested this theory over many rounds.  If you are playing golf with someone you don’t know, by the 4th hole you will have a very good idea of their personality and their ethics.”

JC:  “C’mon.  That sounds preposterous.  How can you tell?”

Jordan:  “Golf is a game where everyone makes lots of errors, even the pros.  By the 4th hole, at least one error will have been made or a situation will have occurred where golf etiquette will come into play.  How the person reacts almost always mirrors their personality and moral character.”

MistakeGreenie:  “Your theory is, if the person readily admits a mistake, or takes the penalty or apologies for breaking some etiquette rule, then that’s a reflection of their true personality.  Same if they don’t acknowledge the mistake, right?”

Jordan:  “Yes.  Have seen it happen time and time again.  The other part you learn about the person is whether they are courteous and helpful to an opponent.  For example, if your opponent hits the ball in the woods and you are reasonably close by, do you help look for the opponent’s ball?”

JC:  “What you’re describing sounds like common courtesy.  Be polite, try to help others and follow some basic rules.  Stuff you learned by second grade.”

Learned in KindergarfenGreenie:  “What was the title of that book?  ‘All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.’”

Jordan:  “That’s about it.  The right type of behavior its stuff we all should have learned as kids.  Somehow many adults seem to have forgotten those lessons or chosen to ignore them.”

JC:  “Maybe the idea of framing post-Revenge Revolution behavior around the rules of golf might work for people.  We also need to make sure whoever’s president is briefed on those rules.  She or he needs to set the example for the country.  Fore!”

(Continued)      

 

#295 Make America Great Again #5: Increase Gas Tax to Fund Infrastructure

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “Alright, now I have an idea for how to make America great again.”

Greenie:  “Could we use another slogan, please?  Making America great again is so Trumpish.”

Jordan:  “I agree the slogan is Trumpish.  However, the ideas we’re discussing, unlike the Donald’s ideas, will make America great again.  At least for now, let’s keep the slogan and try to discuss practical solutions, OK?”

JC:  “Agreed.  The conversation is still among us chickens so using the slogan is ‘no harm, no foul’ so to speak.”

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “I shouldn’t even smile at that one…but it was pretty good.  Now, JC, stop the puns and tell us your idea.”

JC:  “Simple – increase the gas tax and use the funds to rebuild infrastructure.”

Greenie:  “But we don’t need to destroy more land for a bunch of new roads.”

JC:  “Who said we’re talking only more new roads?”

Jordan:  “Then, if not new roads, what’s your plan?”

albert-einsteinJC:  “Two prongs.  (i) Reconfigure existing roads into smarter roads.  Smarter roads can carry more traffic with a lot less congestion; (ii) rebuild and expand the rail system to handle more passenger trains and freight traffic.”

Greenie:  “I like the idea of better trains but that seems so…well, old fashion.”

Jordan:  “JC, you might be on to something.  Smart highways and smart trains.”

JC:  “Jordan, you’re an experienced commuter in a number of cities.  Which do you prefer, commuting by car or rail?”

metro-north1Jordan:  “Commuting by rail in metro areas is easier, more pleasant, less expensive and faster.  Plus, you can work on the train.”

Greenie:  “What about longer trips – say Washington to Manhattan or even to Boston?  Take the train, plane or drive?”

Jordan:  “Drive, no, unless absolutely necessary.  To NY, train for sure.  By the time you travel to the airport, go through security, wait at the gate, then taxi for takeoff…and probably wait so more, you’re more than halfway to NY.  Then the same wasted time at the destination getting out of the airport, then travelling to the city.  Plus, with a plane and especially driving you end losing lots of productive time.”

JC:  “What about DC to Boston?  That’s about twice as far as NY.”

Jordan:  “That’s where an increase in the gas tax could have the most impact in getting people off the highways and/or out of planes.  Some of the gas tax money could go toward a high-speed rail line.”

Greenie:  “Is high-speed rail practical in the Northeast.  I mean, there are so many curves and old bridges.  Lots of buildings are almost right up against the tracks.  Rebuilding would cause a major tear-up.”

BarriersJordan:  “High-speed rail needs to be defined given the barriers that exist.  High-speed in the Northeast corridor is not going to be like a bullet-train in Japan.  Making that happen would be outrageously expensive and disruptive.”

JC:  “Well, then could high-speed rail in the Northeast average say 100 mph?”

Jordan:  “100 mph average seems like a decent target.  If the trains average 50 mph now, then duh, a 100 mpg average speed would cut travel time in half.  So an 8-hour trip from Boston to DC would be more like 4 hours.”

JC:  “What if we took the major metro areas – DC, NY, Boston, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas…and some others – and drew a 200-mile radius around them?  What percent of the population would be covered?”

Pie ChartJordan:  “Don’t know exactly but I’ll bet you’re pushing 85-90%.”

Greenie:  “You really think the existing railbed could be used?  I realize some improvements would be required but how do we avoid just tearing up more land?”

Jordan:  “With some creative thinking and some application of technology, I’ll bet speed could be doubled without much tear-up of new land.”

bullying-20clipart-bullyingJC:  “This sounds great but what about resolving the conflict between freight and passenger traffic?  The little that I know about rail, the freight railroads seem to keep resisting any efforts to add passenger traffic to certain rail lines…in fact, most rail lines.”

Greenie:  “I agree.  Each side seems to want their own dedicated rail lines.  How does that conflict get solved?”

Jordan:  “The solution is in the approach.  In metro areas many of the freight and passenger tracks are likely to be the same.  In less densely populated areas, would be possible to have more dedicated tracks.”

JC:  “I keep coming back to the question, ‘Do we really need two sets of tracks?’  That seems like old-school thinking.  What about smart trains and smart tracks?”

Greenie:  “Surely, smart trains are easier to manage that smart cars or smart trucks.  The trains just can’t wander off the tracks.”

TurtleneckJordan:  “Other than difference in speed between freight trains and passenger trains, I don’t know of a technical reason the two can’t share the tracks.”

JC:  “While we’re at it, why do freight trains have to be so long?  They seem to go on forever…and are so slow.  With all the self-driving technology for cars and trucks, why can’t there be faster, shorter freight trains?”

Greenie:  “Seems like a no-brainer to me.  What’s the real barrier to making these ideas a reality?  Jordan, any thoughts?”

Jordan:  “The discussion about resistance from railroads reminds me of an article we had to read in graduate school.”

JC:  “You can remember that far back?  Just kidding.”

Thumbs DownJordan:  “The article was in the Harvard Business Review and written by Theodore Levitt.  The title was ‘Marketing Myopia.’ An example of the myopia was the railroads viewing themselves as being in railroad business and turning thumbs down to considering being in the transportation business.  As a result, the railroads lost a huge share of the logistics business to the trucking industry.”

Greenie:  “OK, nice observation from ancient history.  But how does that solve the problem we’re talking about?”

Jordan:  “If we think back to some of the other ideas to make America great again, the barrier to accepting the idea was…”

JC:  “…commitment, right?”

Greenie:  “Commitment and support from the Feds, especially Congress.  If that’s the barrier for smarter railroads and faster trains, then what the barriers to improving highways without tearing up new land?”

(Continued)

#294: Making America Great Again #4, Ban Charter Schools…and Busing.

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “Before the break, I said I thought at first Jordan’s idea of reinstating conscription was stupid.  Then I came around and supported it.”

JC:  “And…?

Greenie:  “Well, here’s an idea that you guys might think falls in the category of stupid.  I think we should ban charter schools.”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “What’s your logic?  Something wrong with charter schools?”

Jordan:  “Supporters claim charter schools are more effective than public schools at educating students.  So what’s wrong with their argument?”

Greenie:  “My view is charter schools are band-aides, not solutions.  Charter schools are an excuse to divert money from public schools to the private sector.  Or even worse, charter schools are part of a plan toward eliminating public schools altogether.  But charter schools don’t solve any real problems.”

BandAidJC:  “Not that I disagree with you but why do you think charter schools are a band-aide?”

Greenie:  “Because charter schools address symptoms and not causes.  Let’s not be naïve, a certain percentage of public schools have real problems.  And those problems need to be fixed.”

Jordan:  “You’re saying that charter schools don’t fix the problems.  Why not?  Aren’t students better off moving from public schools to charter schools?”

Greenie:  “Some students, probably, but not all.  What about the kids who don’t go to charter schools and remain in public schools?   Many are worse off than before the other kids left…plus there’s less funding for the public schools because taxpayers must fund the charter schools.”

Bag of MoneyJC:  “We need to get more specific about the issues.  Besides we know that merely throwing money at schools does not necessarily make schools better.”

Greenie:  “You want specifics?  Start with quality of teachers.  I know we all grew up in a different era – some probably liken it to the Stone Age by today’s standards.  But think about the quality of teachers we had from first grade through high school…and especially high school.”

Diagramed SentenceJC:  “I agree that many were top-notch, especially those teaching math and English.  To think we were so motivated we used to diagram sentences for fun!”

Jordan:  “Why do you think the teachers were so good?”

Greenie:  “Party because women had fewer career opportunities than today.”

JC:  “True, but we had some great male teachers as well.”

Black School TeacherJordan:  “What about teacher pay?”

Greenie:  “Much better proportionately than pay today but still less money than the private sector.”

JC:  “What about respect?  In an earlier era, teachers seemed to be respected by almost everyone…including politicians.”

Jordan:  “Good point.    I really get frustrated with some politicians in North Carolina.  Republicans have let teacher pay lag behind the rate of inflation.  What’s even worse, when teachers marched on Raleigh recently for higher pay and more support for students, a long-term, high-profile Republican called them thugs.”

JC:  “Nice, huh?  Calling your teachers thugs.  What an a-hole.”

Greenie:  “See why I said charter schools were a band-aide?   Charter schools do nothing to address some of the fundamental problems of public education.”

WhyJordan:  “OK, I’ll be the bad guy.  Why do we need free public education?  What percent of the public thinks education should be privately provided and not publicly provided…forget who pays for it?”

JC:  “That kind of question makes my head hurt.  Jordan, you know as well as I that what made this country great was not a bunch of open land, not a bunch of resources…not even a great constitution.  None of those mattered unless you had one thing…”

122813_2140_15Education4.jpgGreenie:  “…an educated populous.  And how did the US populous become educated?  Not just an education for the elite but an education for everyone, including immigrants, many of whom arrived here illiterate. They were educated through a free public education.”

Jordan:  “So your premise is until the country sets a goal of free, quality public education for everyone…and then begins to make that happen again…we’ll not make real progress toward making America great again.  Right?”

Greenie:  “You got it.  Allowing charter schools avoids forcing society toward restoring free, quality public education for all.”

School Bus NoJC:  “While we’re throwing out ideas about education, what about banning busing?  Busing seems like a waste of time and money.”

Greenie:  “Busing is a waste.  I agree the goal should be to eliminate almost all busing.”

Jordan:  “Ok, what’s the first step in making this plan work?”

Greenie:  “Simple.  Commitment.  If people commit to free, quality, public education for all, then the problem is more than half solved.  With such a commitment, all the other issues can start to be addressed rationally.”

JC:  “What about support from politicians?”

fife-drum%201Greenie:  “Tell me how a politician is going to campaign against free, quality public education for all?  That type campaign, especially in this post-Revenge Revolution environment would be suicide.”

Jordan:  “Greenie, I really like your idea.  Simple and easy to understand.”

JC:  “You got my vote too.  And now I’m the one who needs a break.”

(Continued)

#293 Conscription for All? Well, Yes, for All Those Younger. Some Guidelines.

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

Gr092615_2031_Characters2.jpgeenie:  “Ready for another idea how to really make America great again?”

JC:  “Yep.  We could beat to death the idea of federally funded elections.  Why don’t we tackle something less controversial?”

Greenie:  “You mean like Jordan’s suggestion to bring back conscription?”

JC:  “Why not?  The alt-right crowd insists that only those who salute the flag, serve in the military and own guns are patriotic.  I’m sure the alt-right will support conscription.”

Greenie:  “Reinstating conscription should be a slam dunk.  I learned that term watching the Final Four.  Anyway, think of all the hard-liners who’ve had stellar military careers.”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJordan:  “You mean like Trump, Limbaugh, Hannady, and the former right-wing truthsayer, Bill O’Reilly.”

JC:  “What a list of potential endorsers for conscription…except I don’t think any of them served in the military.”

Greenie:  “Hold on.  Trump went to military school.  If you don’t think that was tougher than being in the real military, just ask the Donald…whatever.”

Jordan:  “What’s as bad as their military experience is their education.  O’Reilly is the only one with any kind of education.  Limbaugh and Hannady aren’t even qualified to blow stuff out their you know what.”

GreFartenie:  “Jordan, pulleeeze.  Be a bit more diplomatic, will you?”

Jordan:  “Well, Limbaugh dropped out after one year at some Missouri teacher’s college and Hannady bounced around three different schools and never did graduate.”

JC:  “Alright, lets remove tongue from cheek and get serious.  What are the benefits of conscription?”

Jordan:  “First, let’s be clear.  Conscription would allow either military service or non-military service with Federal agencies approved by the Selective Service.”

Greenie:  “Just so I understand, you including women?”

JC:  “Why not?  If combat military service is not required, then why not include women?”

TurtleneckJordan:  “For now, we’ll include both men and women.”

Greenie:  “How long do you have to serve?”

Jordan:  “Two years…and then some sort of standby reserve in case there’s a crisis.  But the reserve wouldn’t require any weekend training or anything like that.”

Greenie:  “Eligibility at what age?”

Age 18Jordan:  “Eligible at 18 but must begin service by say age 26.  A person could get a deferment to attend trade school or college but would need to start by age 26.”

JC:  “What if a woman got married and had a kid…or just had a kid?  Would she still have to serve?”

Greenie:  “Now, I’ll ask, ‘Why not?’  She could always service in a non-military capacity.  Just giving some people an easy way out doesn’t seem fair.”

JC:  “Then what kind of jobs would qualify outside the military?”

US Map Lower 48Jordan:  “Federal agencies that have operations in most parts of the country.  Agencies that serve people locally or work with the states to service people locally.”

Greenie:  “You mean such as EPA, part of Interior, Education, HUD?”

Jordan:  “All those agencies work.”

JC:  “What about FEMA?”

Jordan:  “FEMA’s a good add.”

Greenie:  “Think how much more effective FEMA could be with a staff highly trained to help manage disaster relief.”

EPA LogoJordan:  “Same with EPA.  There are lots of areas where an ‘EPA corps’ as it were, could help gather data or fix an issue before it becomes difficult and costly to solve.  Just like that old commercial, ‘pay me now or pay me later.’  But later is almost always much more expensive.”

Greenie:  “Are all the jobs we’re talking about outdoorsy kind of jobs?”

Jordan:  “Not at all.  The military has lots of jobs for non-combat personnel…and many are like office jobs.”

WhiningJC:  “I can hear it now.  Some people are going to claim what we’re proposing will be taking away jobs from others.  Or worse yet, conscription will interrupt little Johnnie’s or little Susie’s career that mommy and daddy paid so much to prepare them for.  How are we going to counter that argument?”

Jordan:  “Give mommy and daddy the Bronx cheer.  Really, there’s a number key benefits that stem from conscription.  Most obvious is helping fix some of the country’s problems that kept getting put off by politics.  #2 benefit, being forced to live in a disciplined environment, at least during the ‘basic training’ period; #3, being forced to learn to work with a team.  I’m always amazed at how many young adults have never really been forced to work in a team.  Even if they end up in a non-military job, everyone who goes through some type of basic training will have a much better understanding of the value of teamwork…and an inkling of how the military works. #4 benefit…”

Number ListJC:  “…Let me try.  #4, forced diversity.  Exposure to a wide range of people and backgrounds never hurt anyone.  Maybe we, that is societal we, could become a bit more civil if we understood others’ perspectives.  Brilliant statement, huh?”

Greenie:  “We know what you meant.  This idea of conscription is starting to seem obvious but I know better.  What about exemptions from serving?  You know, exemptions for some serious medical condition…like bone spurs.  I mean is everyone going to be forced to serve or will the loopholes be large enough to drive a truck through?”

Jordan:  “Clearly, some people will be unable to serve.  But the program should start with the assumption that everyone serves and then carve out as few exemptions as possible.”

Uncle SamJC:  “You know, the time might be right to reinstitute conscription.  Since the Revenge Revolution people seem more willing to explore old and new ways of trying to solve problems.”

Greenie:  “I admit, when you first mentioned conscription, I thought, ‘that’s really a stupid idea.’  But, as I said, I’m starting to come around.  Good idea, Jordan.”

Jordan:  “Glad you think so.  The idea of conscription, like the idea of federally funded elections, seems to have a foundation that’s sound and can contribute to really making America great again.  But each idea needs a lot more work on the details.  And, now, please excuse me.  I need a break.”

(Continued)

#292 Federally Funded Elections. Benefits and Framework to Start

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “Jordan, that’s quite a list of ideas about how to make America great again.  We’ve got to call this project something else but let’s not spend time on that now.  Which item on the list seems like a good place to start?”

JC:  “To me the idea of Federally funded elections seems feasible.  Don’t a bunch of other countries…maybe most other countries…fund elections?  So why can’t the US?”

Jordan:  “Alright, let’s think about what has to happen to make Federal funding a reality.”

Greenie:  “For sure Congress needs to pass some type of law, then appropriate the funds.”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “I’m no legal scholar…and no comments please…but it does seem as if there aren’t any real legal barriers.  Political barriers, yes, but not legal barriers.”

Greenie:  “What about the Citizens United case?  Does a law authorizing Federally funded elections trump the Supreme Court’s decision on Citizens United?”

Jordan:  “Any law mandating only Federal funding for Federal elections likely will be challenged in court and then head back to SCOTUS.  However, there doesn’t seem to be any glaring reason why a Federal funding law wouldn’t be upheld…thereby overriding the Citizens United ruling.  I just don’t see how such a law would affect 1st Amendment rights.  But like you, JC, I’m no Constitutional law scholar.”

House of RepsJC:  “Let’s say there’s no major legal issue.  Then how should Federal funds be allocated to the candidates?”

Greenie:  “There’s already a formula for allocation.  Maybe neither the most logical nor the most fair but one that’s clearly defined – the Electoral College.”

Jordan:  “Seems like a good place to start.  Assume that Congress allocated $10/person for federal elections.  The current US population is what 330 to 340 million?  Call it 340 million, so that means $3.4 billion is available to help fund federal elections.”

Greenie:  “Is that for presidential elections or off-year elections too?  Seems as if off-year elections should have a different number.”

JC:  “What about Senate races?  Senators are elected every six years, House members every two years.”

TurtleneckJordan:  “Good points.  Try this.  Presidential elections get the full $10/head funding.  Off-year elections get $5/head allocated.”

Greenie:  “So in a presidential election, the presidential candidates would get $1.7 billion and the House and Senate candidates would split $1.7 billion, right?”

Jordan:  “For the Congressional seats, I think we need to give candidates for the Senate more money that candidates for the House.  Other than a few low-population states, Senators have to cover a lot more territory than House members.  What if we gave the Senatorial candidates 2x the House candidates?”

Math ClassJC:  “Let me try the math.  If I remember Ester’s Algebra class, that would be 200X+435X=$1,700,000,000.  Using my hand-dandy phone, x equals almost $2.7 million.  So Senate races get about $5.4 million and House races about $2.7 million.”

Greenie:  “The numbers for Senate races seem low.  Maybe Senators should get 3x.”

JC:  “Did we decide if the amount of money was for each race or each legitimate candidate?”

Greenie:  “While we’re at it, what about funding primaries?  What about 3rd-party candidates?”

Jordan:  “We didn’t decide.  Assume the $10/head is for each candidate in the general election.  So the cost is now $20/head…plus the primaries.”

Greenie:  “I know I recommended using the Electoral College but there might be an easier approach.  Candidates for the House get say $5/head for everyone in their district.  Senators would get $5/head for everyone in the state.  Presidential candidates would get $5/head for everyone in the US.”

JC:  “What about the primaries?”

Greenie:  “Give each candidate ½ the amount of the general election — $2.50/head per candidate.  Whatever the general election number is, cut it in half for the primaries.”

SignatureJC:  “3rd-party candidates?”

Greenie:  “If the candidate can get signatures for x% of the registered voters…it has to be a reasonable percentage…then the 3rd-party candidate is entitled to the same funds.”

JC:  “Isn’t this idea getting awfully expensive?  We might be pushing $10 billion, maybe more.”

Federal BudgetGreenie:  “Now, JC, I mean really.  What’s a few billion in a trillion-dollar Federal budget – a rounding error?  I agree the approach seems expensive until you begin to add up all the hidden costs with today’s approach to funding elections…and all the backroom deals connected to the funding.”

Jordan:  “Point well taken, Greenie.  Part of the selling job for this idea will be to have a credible 3rd-party estimate the current cost of elections, including all the dark money.”

JC:  “Cost aside…and I agree even though it seems like a lot of money, the amount is really a rounding error…what I like about the approach is forcing candidates to be more judicious with their spending.”

occupations_lawyerGreenie:  “Because funds will be limited, the approach will likely also force candidates to get out on the campaign trail and meet the voters.  Maybe we’ll get fewer negative ad blitzes and more time on the campaign trail.”

JC:  “You think this approach will eliminate lobbyists?”

Jordan:  “Probably not.  I don’t have a problem with lobbyists per se.  Some are actually very helpful.  What seems to set people off is how certain Congressman force lobbyists into a pay-to-play game.”

gangster-cartoon-clip-art-540pxGreenie:  “Oh, you mean like South Carolina’s Mick Mulvaney?  What chutzpah.  He bragged to a group of bankers that before he became part of the Trump Administration, he only talked to lobbyists who paid him.  Wonder if he stopped the practice when he became director of OMB and consumer protection bureau for Trump?  Pardon me — that seems like a rhetorical question.”

JC:  “I think the Revenge Revolution forced out most of the Mulvaney-like extortionists.  A new approach to funding Federal elections should keep too many new ones from popping up…at least for a while.”

Jordan:  “Alright, we seem to have the framework for Federal funding of Federal elections.  Obviously the plan needs a lot more refining, but the idea seems feasible.”

Greenie:  “Agreed.  And if you both agree, I need a break.”

(Continued)   

 

#291 Quit Whining, Already. How Do We Turn Around This Ship?

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

JC:  “I agree that Paul Ryan could have set an example of leadership for generations to come.  But, what did he do?”

bully-clip-artGreenie:  “He retired from the House.  I guess you call it retired if not seeking in November 2018 qualifies as retiring.”

JC:  “Whatever you want to call it, he bailed out.  Seems like Ryan ran away from the bully Trump.  Not what you call a good example for future generations, and not what you call a good ending to your political career.”

Jordan:  “Enough of Ryan and McConnell.  I’ve got an idea.”

Greenie:  “You’ve got an idea?  JC, did you hear that?  Jordan has an idea.”

Jordan:  “Why do I hang out with you guys?  Such abuse.”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “C’mon, you love it.  Now what’s the idea?”

Jordan:  “Looking in the rearview mirror­­­­ and analyzing the past with a critical eye is important, but as we’ve talked about before, it’s hard to drive very fast by always looking in the rearview mirror.”

JC:  “Tell that to some of the cable news talking heads.  A lot of them can’t stop driving fast and looking backwards at the same time.”

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “Let’s keep in mind the past does provide some guidance to the future.  You do agree with that, don’t you, Jordan?”

Jordan:  “Very much so.  And that’s the foundation for the idea.  I think we should provide to the post-Revenge Revolution members of Congress a list of suggestions.”

JC:  “What kind of suggestions?”

Jordan:  “For lack of a better phrase, because I hate to say it, credible suggestions for really how to make America great again.”

Greenie:  “I agree with the idea, but please, we need a different slogan.  I mean, we don’t need to reincarnate the Donald.”

JC:  “You guys serious?  What makes us qualified to suggest anything to Congress?  Granted none of us is the dullest crayon in the box but what gives us special insight?”

TurtleneckJordan:  “For one, Greenie’s articles about the Revenge Revolution.  We might have more understanding about the causes of the Revenge Revolution than anyone in Congress, especially incoming members or staffers.”

Greenie:  “I vote, yes, let’s make a list of suggestions.  If nothing else making the list will be cathartic…and will make us seem smarter at parties.”

Jordan:  “JC, you, in?”

JC:  “OK.  How do you want to start?”

Greenie:  “Why not have a brainstorming session?  You know, just blurt out ideas and write them down.  We can sort the list later.”

Number List(Following is the list from the brainstorming session about how to really make America great again.  Over the coming blog entries, a number of these ideas will be discussed in more detail.)

  1. True leadership starts at the top.
  2. Congress needs to work as a unit and with independence from the Executive Branch. Not everyone in Congress will agree, nor should they agree, on every issue but Congress must function separately from the Executive Branch.
  3. Relationship building is critical. Presidents and administrations that reach out, listen and act for the good of the people are far more effective.
  4. Re-establish the independence of the judicial system. The White House and Congress need to respect the system, the law and quit trying to influence cases.
  5. Public’s confidence and other countries’ confidence in the White House will take several administrations to rebuild – probably 15-20 years.
  6. Adults with demonstrated skills should be selected as cabinet members.
  7. Time devoted in teaching civics needs to increase in grammar, middle and high schools.
  8. Conscription should be reinstituted. An alternative to military service would be a civilian corps.
  9. Widespread infrastructure programs need to be initiated – think WPA approach.
  10. Increase research and development sponsored by Federal government, with particular emphasis on pure research.
  11. Reinstitute environmental and financial regulations…judiciously. Companies and industries have proved repeatedly an in ability to manage themselves.
  12. Increase tax rates across all quintiles with the highest rate increases on upper incomes. Use part of revenue to fund infrastructure and part to help offset the negative long-term effects of Trump tax cut.
  13. Make all elections for Federal office publicly funded with no private contributions. allowed.

Jordan:  “OK, let’s take a break.  When we get back, we can clarify the wording of some of the ideas, maybe add a few others.  We also can start digging a little deeper on these ideas.”

(Continued)   

#290 How Republican Leadership in the House and Senate Failed the Country

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC.  Conversation began Entry #289.

Jordan:  “So, you two want my guidance whether ­­­­­­­­­articles about the Revenge Revolution should include content that is clearly not politically correct?

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “You got it.”

Jordan:  “Why not just lay out the truth? Really, what’s the downside?”

JC:  “What about the backlash from all the evangelicals?  And the screamers on Fox News?”

Jordan:  “What about them?   Since the Revenge Revolution, Fox News has become a non-entity.  As far as the hard-core Trumpsters, they are never going to change no matter the evidence against Trump.”

Greenie:  “In that same vein, I’ve never heard an evangelical openly question their religion.  OK, maybe a few question openly…but they’re rare birds.”

Jordan:  “That’s my point.  Your articles will not change the hard-core’s mind so why be concerned?”

092615_2031_Characters1.jpgJC:  “We were trying to be more diplomatic post revolution.  Won’t laying out the bare facts open old wounds?”

Greenie:  “I think Jordan’s point a good one.  See, Jordan, I gave you a compliment.”

Jordan:  “You’ve made my day.”

Greenie:  “Seriously, we need to be straightforward.  Not vicious but no sugar-coating content.  Otherwise, key lessons from the revolution will get lost.”

JC:  “Being straightforward should make the writing much easier.”

TurtleneckJordan:  “Greenie, you know better than I, but isn’t crafting an objective article oftentimes more difficult than say a pure opinion piece?”

Greenie:  “Yes, and often maddeningly so.”

JC:  “Now that we’ve agreed not to be pc in the articles, I’ve got a related topic we probably should write about.”

Greenie:  “Whadda mean ‘we’ Kemosabe?  Who’s writing these articles?”

JC:  “OK, you are…but I’ll help draft this one.  We need an article or two focusing on how the lack of Republican leadership in the House and Senate enabled Trump’s craziness.”

Jordan:  “An example is…”

JC:  “Cabinet nominees.  Most of the first round of nominees: (i) lacked any experience for the job; (ii) were intellectual lightweights; (iii) and/or were known scumbags.”

Jordan:  “Maybe this article will need to be a bit more pc.”

JC:  “Why?”

drone-manGreenie:  “Good question.  Why?  If the article is about lack of Republican leadership in the House and Senate, why hold back?  Mitch McConnell did the country a major disservice by not squashing some of the cabinet nominees.”

JC:  “Think back to the Trump transition.  Was there one…maybe two cabinet member nominees who were highly qualified or didn’t have a clear conflict?”

Jordan:  “What about General Mattis as Secretary of Defense?”

Greenie:  “Qualified, probably.  But he never should have been allowed to head DOD.  This country has a long history of civilians being head of the military.  He might have been one of the few adults in the room, but having a general at DOD set a terrible precedent.  It was like having the fox guard the henhouse.”

Jordan:  “What about Rex Tillerson?”

PutinGreenie:  “The guy had been awarded some medal by the Russians.  Look, I have no qualms about the head of ExxonMobil, or another oil company, working with the Russians.  But don’t take the guy and put him in as Secretary of State.  At State, he needs to protect American interests and not be concerned about personal or company interests.  Making him Secretary created an immediate and obvious conflict.”

JC:  “Did the Senate leadership know the Russians meddled in the election?  Of course.  McConnell had been briefed by Justice.  Even the public knew.  Yet, still no pushback by McConnell or any other Republican senator.  Why?”

Greenie:  “The list of incompetents goes on and on.  Try Ben Carson.  What did an alleged brain surgeon know about running HUD?  Maybe because he saw some HUD housing growing up in Detroit?  He might have lived in some HUD housing.  But so what?”

ScreamJC:  “DeVos to be head of Department of Education was another lightweight.  During the Senate hearings, Betsy, bless her little heart, couldn’t answer the most fundamental questions about how the education system works.”

Greenie:  “Then, of course, we have “Mr. Lie-Under-Oath” himself.  At Sessions’ confirmation hearing to be Attorney General, McConnell had to know he was lying.”

JC:  “Jordan, do you think McConnell could have stopped many or all of these nominations from going through?”

Jordan:  “Maybe not all but he could have stopped most.  McConnell could have worked behind the scenes telling Trump that nominees with an obvious conflict or no experience in the field should be changed.  He needed to make clear to Trump that without some different nominees, there would be a series of embarrassing ‘no’ votes by the Senate.”

bully-clip-artGreenie:  “But McConnell didn’t tell Trump.  So Trump took the upper hand, berated McConnell publicly and McConnell shrank like a violet.  In the process, McConnell became an enabler for Trump’s wacko behavior.”

JC:  “What about Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House?  The House doesn’t approve cabinet nominees.”

Jordan:  “True, but the House has oversight and investigative powers in many areas.”

Greenie:  “From my perspective, Ryan lost all credibility when he allowed the committee investigating Russian meddling to disband.”

JC:  “Wasn’t the decision to disband really up to the committee chairman.  What was his name…Nunes?”

sense-checkGreenie:  “The Speaker of the House appoints many of the committee chairs.  Ryan could have gotten Nunes replaced with someone willing to pursue the investigation.  It’s possible…and we need to check this for the article…it’s possible Ryan could have appointed Adam Schiff, a Democrat to lead the investigation.”

JC:  “Wouldn’t that have been suicide?  The Speaker is elected by the party in the majority.  Ryan would have lost his speakership.”

Greenie:  “True.  But if Ryan had done so, he would have set an example that what is good for the country is more important than what’s good politically.  And Ryan likely would have been remembered for generations as a hero.  Instead, like McConnell he caved and became an enabler for Trump’s wacko behavior.”

[Note: within a few days after this entry was published, Paul Ryan announced he was not going to seek re-election to the House in November 2018.] 

(Continued)

#289 Lincoln Was Correct…about Some Trump Supporters

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC

Gelly:  “Greenie called and she and JC want to stop by a few minutes this morning.”

Jordan:092615_2031_Characters7.gif  “OK with me.  Anything in particular they want to talk about?”

Gelly:  “All she said was Lincoln.”

Jordan:  “You mean like Abe Lincoln or the car?”

Gelly:  “As far as I know, Lincoln as in president.”

Jordan (short time later):  “Well, well, well.  The dynamic duo has arrived.  Nice to see you guys.  And what brings you here…other than to see me, of course.”

Greenie:  “And he’s so modest.  Go ahead, JC, your idea is what prompted the visit.”

JC:  “I was helping Greenie edit her articles about the Revenge Revolution.  What seemed to need more explanation was why evangelical Christians kept supporting Trump.  Continued evangelical support caused some real frustration…and in fact anger…with more moderate voters who were trying to address the country’s real problems.”

Greenie:  “Neither of us had a reasonable answer at first about sustained support for Trump by evangelicals.  Here’s a guy whose behavior was the antithesis of what the evangelicals claimed they stood for.  Yet they kept supporting Trump.  Why?”

Trump Stormy 2Jordan:  “Evangelicals must not have thought having multiple affairs constituted adultery.  C’mon, only one of those affairs, as far as we know, was with a high-profile porn star.  What’s the issue?”

JC:  “And a couple of those affairs were only after his wife gave birth and was home with the baby.  I mean no good evangelical should be upset about that kind of behavior, right?”

092615_2031_Characters2.jpgGreenie:  “Jordan, see what we mean?  Repeated adultery, constant lying, publicly ridiculing people who had sacrificed a lot to work in his administration, mistreatment of women…and on and on.  Yet, the evangelicals kept supporting him.  Why?”

JC:  “Look, we understand…or at least acknowledge…that some people might have voted for Trump because they couldn’t imagine anyone who was running for president could be that inept.”

Greenie:  “But when evangelicals continued to support Trump after 12-15 months in office, we had no clue why.”

JC:  “No clue until we thought back to our days in grammar school in Illinois.  That was our ‘ah ha’ moment.”

abraham_lincoln_clip_art_15515Greenie:  “Good old Lincoln came to mind.  And one of his famous quotes.”

JC:  “You can fool some of the people all the time.”

Jordan:  “What about the rest of the quote?  You left out the part about fooling all the people some of the time.”

Greenie:  “Well, we really couldn’t find any time during his presidency where Trump came even marginally close to fooling all the people, even some of the time.  So we focused on trying to understand why he was able to fool some of the people all the time.”

JC:  “If you go back and look at the data, most all evangelicals appeared to be fooled all the time.”

TurtleneckJordan:  “But why do you think evangelicals were so easily fooled?”

Greenie:  “You want the politically incorrect answer?”

Jordan:  “Where are you headed with this?”

Greenie:  “We concluded that evangelicals, like fundamentalists in many religions, bought into a religious concept they believed to be true.”

Jordan:  “Keep talking.”

Greenie:  “Think about it.  Evangelicals view their religious beliefs as the absolute truth.  They are down two, over four.  That’s it.  We’re right.  You’re wrong.  End of discussion.”

ComplicatedJC:  “Have you ever heard evangelicals question the fundamental tenets of Christianity?”

Jordan:  “Not really.”

Greenie:  “Neither have we.  So here’s a group that buys into a concept for which there appears to be little, if any, supporting data.  Once bought in, they think this concept is the absolute truth and cannot be questioned.”

Jordan:  “Aren’t fundamentalists of other religions similar in their buy-in and absolutism?  Think of the Ultra-Orthodox Jews.”

JC:  “We agree.  But this conversation is about the US and not Israel.  In the US, evangelical Christian’s make-up a very large voting block and the Ultra-Orthodox Jews as a voting bloc are at best a rounding error.”

Greenie:  “What we have in the US is this large chunk of the population that responds like bobble heads to some religious leaders.  The religious leaders tell them what to do and they all nod their heads.  We told you this was a politically incorrect answer.”

BrainwashedJordan:  “It’s as if the group was brainwashed.”

JC:  “How else does one explain why evangelicals continued to support Trump?  Think about all the actions he took as president…forget his personal behavior.  Most of those actions were contrary to evangelicals’ supposed beliefs.  Yet, they continued to support him.”

Greenie:  “I still marvel that the vast majority of evangelicals thought Obama was not a Christian.  There was long-standing and overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  Most evangelicals must have been so brainwashed they would believe anything religious leaders told them.”

fox-news-logo bJordan:  “Let’s not forget evangelicals believing the absolute truths of the religious leaders of Fox News.  OK, now how do you intend to write-up this politically incorrect analysis?”

JC:  “That’s why we’re here.”

Greenie:  “We need some guidance, please.”

(Continued)

 

#288 Crypto-Currency Sent to the Crypt

Readers: this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1. List and general description of entries to date.

Note: most entries are formatted as conversations. Characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations. Profile of characters (see link at top of page). You’ll catch on quickly. Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s office, Washington, DC

092615_2031_Characters7.gifGelly: “Jordan, you have a call from a guy named Willie. Want to take it or should I…”

Jordan: “…I’ll take the call. You’ve never met Willie? That’s his nickname. He’s the banker and neighbor in Charlotte.”

Gelly: “Now I know who you mean. Didn’t realize his nickname was Willie.”

Jordan (picking up phone): “Willie, thanks for calling back.”

BankerWillie: “Your voice mail said you wanted to talk about crypto-currency.”

Jordan: “Yes. Need some guidance.”

Willie: “I can help with macro issues but I’m not a technical expert.”

Jordan: “Right now not concerned with the tech side…maybe later. Really want to understand how the Federal government views…or viewed…crypto-currency. What were the perceived implications on policy decisions of crypto-currency?”

Willie: “Where do you want to start?”

Jordan: “First, is crypto-currency considered a real currency or not? From what I gather, crypto-currency is a currency, but not a currency sponsored by a government. You know, it functions like the US dollar or Euro but there’s no government behind it, right?”

Willie: “You got it right. Crypto-currency is a de facto currency created by a non-government entity.”

Abbott CostelloJordan: “In a way, the crypto-currencies remind me of the US prior to the creation of the Federal Reserve. Lots of variation in value and no one quite sure who’s in charge?”

Willie: “Wondering who’s on first is not a bad way to look at it. Crypto-currencies are like a bunch of banks issuing their own currency…except rather than issuing paper notes its digital currency. And rather than backed by gold or silver, it’s backed by what one might term vaporware.”

Jordan: “So, if a bunch of groups issue their own currency, how do you use it? What merchant is going to accept your crypto-currency? The merchant has to get someone else to accept it, otherwise he’s screwed.”

StealingWillie: “Another good question. A lot of the so-called crypto-currencies vanished early on. Some never got any momentum and some were never issued even after investor funds were taken.”

Jordan: “But a couple of the crypto-currencies made it big time. What I still don’t understand is where the value came from? You did say it was like vaporware.”

Willie: “Just thinking about it is somewhat baffling. The most popular crypto-currencies were created out of thin air. OK, the currencies were created using a complex computer algorithm…but essentially out of thin air.”

Jordan: “You mean there was no real value? Zippo…nada…nothing?”

Rabbit Out of HatWillie: “A couple of crypto-currencies were backed by some assets. One was even backed by gold, but most were backed by nothing.”

Jordan: “Who would fall for a scheme like that? Reminds me of the tulip craze in the 17th century. At least for that craze, people bought some asset, albeit a tulip.”

Willie: “Supporters of crypto-currency claimed it was no different from currency issued by governments, so-called FIAT currencies. The FIAT currencies – US dollar, for example – no longer have precious-metal backing. According to these supporters, governments just print money with no underlying value.”

TurtleneckJordan: “While true that governments might have gone off the gold standard, governments do have assets…and a way to generate revenue. Governments can collect taxes. Save one or two, crypto-currencies had no assets and none had authority to collect taxes.”

Willie: “Creators of crypto-currencies claimed value was created because only so many would ever be ‘coined.’ Since the supply of coins was finite, value was created and justified.”

Jordan: “Aside from the illogic that a finite supply of something automatically creates value, what was their view of the real purpose of crypto-currency?”

Willie: “Some will claim my opinion’s biased because I’m in the banking industry. My view crypto-currency was attractive to certain groups for two basic reason: (i) help facilitate illicit transactions, especially drugs; (ii) help avoid taxes.”

Fed Reserve LogoJordan: “Over the years you’ve dealt with the Federal Reserve. How did they view crypto-currency?”

Willie: “At first, crypto-currencies were viewed by the Fed as an annoyance, but not a major issue. Think of a crypto-currency as a mosquito or a gnat.”

Jordan: “Then the mosquito started to grow…like a mosquito on steroids.”

Willie: “You’re right. Once on steroids, the Fed began to look at crypto-currencies as a threat to its control.”

Jordan: “How so?”

Bag of MoneyWillie: “Two primary roles of the Federal Reserve are managing monetary policy and controlling the banking system. The already difficult job of managing monetary policy became much more difficult with the alternative-currency universe.”

Jordan: “So the more crypto-currencies were used instead of dollars…the more crypto-currencies became a larger percentage of the money supply…the more exaggerated the Fed’s actions needed to be to achieve the same desired policy effect. The Fed was dealing with a smaller pie, as it were.”

Wall Street SignWillie: “Most people did not fully appreciate how crypto-currencies forced the Fed’s hand. Crypto-currencies took a bigger and bigger slide out of the Fed’s monetary pie. In order to achieve the same result as before crypto-currencies, the Fed was forced to exaggerate changes in interest rates, both up and down. The exaggeration also affected Wall Street. As a result, the Fed was unhappy, Wall Street was unhappy, many investors were unhappy and the general public was unhappy.”

Jordan: “Anything else?”

Willie: “Two other critical issues. A key reason the Fed was created was to help facilitate trade. Many of the crypto-currencies fluctuated wildly in value, which created uncertainty and slowed trade.”

Jordan: “What’s the second issue?”

TaxesWillie: “Federal revenue. While the Fed is not responsible for collecting taxes, in order to manage monetary policy, the Fed needs to have a good idea of sources and uses of Federal funds.”

Jordan: “Because the flow of crypto-currencies was hard to track and therefore hard to collect taxes on that flow, forecasting Federal revenue became even more uncertain. Right?”

Willie: “You got it. From the Fed’s perspective, and a lot of other people agreed, crypto-currencies were a cancer that was restricting trade, making monetary policy more difficult to manage and reducing potential government revenue. The solution? Ban crypto-currencies. Send crypto-currencies to the crypt. Does that help explain crypto-currencies?”

Jordan: “Yes, very much so. Thanks. Willie, as always, nice to chat. Let’s get together soon.”