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The Gift of Enlightened Self-Interest

| Opinion | December 20, 2018

by Stephen Smith

I have never understood why that when it comes to economics, liberals distrust business, capitalism and the free market, but have confidence in government. Just listen to the rants by Bernie and Alexandria against business. Capitalism is interested in providing consumers what they want and need in order to make a profit, the second is politicians and bureaucrats interested in doing whatever is necessary to increase and keep power. Jakub Bozydar Wisniewski of the Austrian Economic School put it like this, “Entrepreneurship is the use of self-interest in the service of others. Politics is the use of others in the service of self-interest.”

The real beauty of capitalism, competition and a relative free market is that the consumer has choice. If you distrust a specific entrepreneur or company, you can always do business with their competitor. This ability of the consumer to choose with whom he wishes to do business is a greater protection against fraud and more a guarantor of value and innovation than any government regulation or incentive.

Adam Smith, whose book “The Wealth of Nations” guided our founders to promote free-market capitalism, put it this way. “The real and effectual discipline which is exercised over a workman is that of his customers. It is the fear of losing their employment (customers) which restrains his fraud. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest … Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.”

For free-market Capitalism and a limited-government Democratic Republic to work, it requires the people to embrace two philosophical ideals, ethical monotheism and enlightened self-interest. In other words, be a people with integrity. Under capitalism, it is in your enlightened self-interest to treat and serve your customers well. If you do, you will prosper. That same goes for maintaining a Democratic Republic. The secret is the consumer of goods and policies are given a choice. That cannot occur under a strong central elitist run government or under monopolies. Thank you, competition.

The Jewish people’s centuries old preservation of “The Book” with its advocacy for ethical monotheism was their greatest gift to Western Civilization. By giving us Mosaic Law and the remarkable “Ten Commandments” and later the teachings of Christianity, man was given instructions on how to best treat each other and live in a civil society. Through Judeo-Christianity, we are taught about what good behavior is in this life and we learn there may be consequences for bad behavior in the next life. These two traditions taught us what it means to have integrity. This basic idea allows us to make contracts, be expected to keep our promises and treat our customers well. These standards are necessary for capitalism to function. We have the Judeo-Christianity to thank for stressing the importance of goodness in the administration of all our affairs. It is fundamental to the proper function of capitalism and our Democratic Republic. There is little wonder why that the leftist-progressives who seek to replace our system of governance with a utopian vision of a dominating socialist central government have been so dedicated to removing the 10 Commandments from the public square.

In the years following our country’s founding, the American people seemed to have a strong grasp of what really made the United States a beacon to the world. What we were accomplishing did not go unnoticed.

From Alexis de Tocqueville’s remarkable observations on our nascent Democracy, “Democracy in America” 1835:

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did, I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

“Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.”

“Society will develop a new kind of servitude which covers the surface of society with a network of complicated rules, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate. It does not tyrannize but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

“There are many men of principle in both parties in America, but there is no party of principle.”

“Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.”

-Alexis de Tocqueville

Philosophers have often quoted from Ecclesiastes 1:9, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” With the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution something very new was born. Skousen called it “The 5000 Year Leap.” Marxism, socialism, fascism and monarchies are just a rehashing on the same old failed ideas. I hope you take the time to learn about our remarkable system designed for the most people to prosper and live in liberty.

I can think of no greater gift than the remarkable heritage left to us by our founders. I can then think of no better resolution for the New Year than to discover the miracle that is America.

Merry Christmas and a happy and free New Year!

Bob Unleashes ‘Killer Kellar’ Council Smack-Down Play-by-Play

| Opinion | December 13, 2018

During Tuesday’s Council Smack-Down, Killer Kellar issued fatal blows to Municipal Mutilator McLean. The two had it out for the whole ring to see, with a penalty given by Civic Slayer Smyth.

The fight was far from clean, and began after Wild Weste decided to retire her famous move, the “gavel grapple.” Killer Kellar tackled Municipal Mutilator McLean during the first quarter.

Referees failed to step in, despite McLean’s claim that the move “came from fifth field.” The refs refused because “there’s literally no such thing as fifth field.”

The time-out was enacted after Civic Slayer Smyth called for the move after McLean’s plea. The solution: sudden death by discussion.

Killer Kellar was first to fight. Assisted listening devices engaged. No turning back.

K.K. issued the “kush-krusher,” a tactic usually used against skateboarders with an affinity for reefer. This incapacitating blow can send a fighter flying all the way to San Fernando – where the grass is literally greener. This time the kush-krusher was aimed at the Municipal Mutilator, but she held strong.

“Double-M” McLean fought back as hard as she could, bringing out the “passive-aggressive punch.” This is often combined with the phrase “as a strong woman,” accompanied by words like “resent” and “do not appreciate.”

Wild Weste came to the rescue in the third quarter, suggesting a vote after sudden death. The Municipal Mutilator earned victory by a slim margin, but did not get away without a final hit from the Civic Slayer, as did each of the fighters. Smyth made sure each member got an old-fashioned civic slaying.

All in all, it was a dirty fight. The unexpected elbow drop from Killer Kellar will go down in history as the freak move “from fifth field.”

Satire (in case you can’t tell)

Worthy Asylum Seekers – Or Not?

| Opinion | December 13, 2018

Earlier this week I was at an event that honored Malala Yousafzai.

Malala, in case you don’t recall, is the brave young school girl from a village in Pakistan who was nearly killed in 2012 by the Taliban.

She was just 15 when she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for publicly speaking out for the right of all girls to receive a free, safe and quality education.

Malala, who became world famous while she lay in a coma for 10 days in a British hospital, was lucky to be given asylum in Britain with her family.

She went on to create the Malala Fund, which she says is dedicated to giving every girl in the world “an opportunity to achieve a future she chooses.”

In 2014 she became the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize and now, at the ripe old age of 21, she’s studying philosophy, politics and economics at the University of Oxford.

When I texted my son Cameron to tell him I was at the event honoring Malala, he pointed out that she was a perfect example of why the United States and countries like Britain offer asylum to refugees.

Unlike the 6,000 migrants from Honduras that are now in Tijuana trying to crash their way into the United States, Malala and her family were in serious danger.

They met the international definition of a refugee perfectly – “a person with well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence.”

Those 6,000 Central American refugees, as my son also pointed out, are not just trying to take advantage of our generous immigration system and hours of sympathetic liberal media coverage.

By cutting in line, and by clogging up an already backed up application process, they are making it so that the people that truly deserve asylum – worthy refugees like Malala and her family – might not be able to get it.

Realistically, despite Rachel Maddow’s tears, most of the migrants from Honduras or Guatemala rushing our southern border are never going to meet the qualifications for asylum, a bureaucratic legal process that takes a long, long time.

Only about 40 percent of applicants from around the world in any given year qualify for asylum, according to the National Immigration Forum’s web site.

As of July there were more than 700,000 pending asylum cases in our overwhelmed immigration courts and the average wait time for a hearing was 721 days.

During 2017, when there was a big jump in asylum applications from Central America and the total cases filed hit 200,000, only about 30,000 individuals were approved.

As Tucker Carlson pointed out last week, to argue, as the left and liberal media do, that those Honduran migrants in Tijuana automatically deserve to be let into the U.S. because of the poverty and violent crime in their native land is patently absurd.

If poor living conditions and rampant violence are the basis for asylum in America, Carlson said, then the whole country of Honduras should get it.

I don’t know if most people know it, but more than half of the individuals who were granted asylum in the United States in 2016 – 20,500 souls – came from two places:

China (22 percent) and the Central American countries of El Salvador (10.5 percent), Guatemala (9.5 percent), Honduras (7.4 percent) and Mexico (4.5 percent).

Most of them – 44 percent – ended up living in California, which helps to explain why one of the richest states in the Union is now the home for about 7.4 million people who live in poverty, more than any other state.

Copyright 2018 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “Lessons My Father Taught Me: The Strength, Integrity, and Faith of Ronald Reagan.” He is the founder of the email service reagan.com and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at www.reagan.com and www.michaelereagan.com. Send comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com. Follow @reaganworld on Twitter.

Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns contact Sales at sales@cagle.com.

‘We have to kind of tell everyone how smart we are.’ Sen. Hirono, (D-HI)

| Opinion | December 13, 2018

by Stephen Smith

Vive la France! Vive la “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.” Long live the revolution. Believe it or not, the people of France have stood up against the ruling elitism of President Macron. Street protests have forced the President to withdraw from public view and withdraw his 30 cent per gallon tax increase on gasoline which already had a tax of $3.03. The French have been paying over $7.00 per gallon on fuel for their cars and trucks.

The justification for the high gasoline taxes has been publicly stated to fight global warming. France’s energy footprint is already small. They have a functioning public transportation system. With ample rainfall, France is in appearance, a very green country. With a population of 67 million, nearly all their electricity is provided by carbon footprint-clean nuclear power plants.

I celebrated Thanksgiving in Lansing, Michigan. Talk about culture shock. It wasn’t just because the temperature was hovering in the 20s; the price at the pump for regular gasoline was as low as $2.18 per gallon. With the recent drop in oil prices, I am sure that now it is even lower. So how is it that in California, the price of our precious fuel is more than one dollar per gallon larger than in the state of Michigan? You already suspect the answer.

Taxes and fees now add around 95 cents per gallon to our gasoline cost. (You do not see the fees posted at the pump. I wonder why?) Our elected have claimed that the cap and trade portion is in place to fight global warming. It has been reported that much of that portion is going to the disastrous train to nowhere. California, with a population of 39 million, now only has one carbon footprint clean nuclear power plant which serves San Luis Obispo. Los Angeles’s public transportation system is barely functional. Our central rail hub does not have a station at the airport.

In California, we botched our tax revolt. The recently rejected Proposition 6 was an attempt by the public to eliminate the latest gas tax increase. It was foiled by the sketchy and intentionally misdirected description in the ballot written by then appointed Attorney General, Xavier Becerra. How dare the masses stand up to the ruling elite. After all, what is more important than all our gas money going into general and various slush funds, so that our money can be allocated as our Democrat ruling elite see fit, such as redirecting it to pension funds to insure more campaign donations from public employee unions? Yes, tax fund allocations are very convoluted and not always consistent with promises made and bills voted for.

It is interesting to note that one of the primary purposes of government in French history is quite different than the American view, even though it seems to be the same. In France their modern founding was based on the idea of “égalité” or in English, “egalitarian,” versus the American self-evident truth “that all men are created equal.”

From Webster’s, “egalitarian”:
1 : a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs
2 : a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people

Definition 1 is very American. It speaks to the idea that all people should be treated equally under the law. Definition 2 is very French, and is quite different. It implies that all people be made equal by the government. It is achieved through wealth redistribution, a tiered or progressive tax rate system and a long list of entitlements. In the French Revolution, the wealthy and privileged were murdered and their estates confiscated in order to achieve “égalité.”

The results of various gas taxes and fees have proved to be in opposition to the French and now Democrat-stated ideals of the economic leveling of society. In America, the leftist has had an advocacy for a progressive tax. That would be where the higher earners pay a higher percentage of their income than lower earners.

Gas taxes are considered regressive because the middle class and poor pay a much higher percentage of their income for their energy needs. Consequently, the lesser earners suffer greatly with increases in their heating, lighting, transportation and food costs that they are least able to afford. The result also includes a greater transfer of wealth from the middle class and poor to the wealthy suppliers of those basic human needs.

Look at the gas taxes, and don’t you dare believe that the leftist-progressives care about the middle class and the poor. Add to the equation that programs such as cap and trade, with its purchasing of carbon exceptions, do nothing to reduce carbon emissions. They only move more wealth to government. Taxing gas to reduce the carbon footprint is a lie. They must think we are stupid or something. No wonder President Macron is hiding the guillotine.

If our progressive government was really interested in reducing the carbon footprint, they might consider:

Issuing permits to encourage the installation of Generation III nuclear power electric generators. They are amazingly safe, will shut down on their own during catastrophic failure, spent fuel is nearly non-existent, they have a short half-life and will burn previously generated spent fuel. They have a zero-carbon footprint. They’re not your mama’s nuclear generators. Oh yes, and very cost effective. Please take the time to read these informative articles:

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/512321/safer-nuclear-power-at-half-the-price/, http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/nuclear-fuel-cycle/nuclear-power-reactors/advanced-nuclear-power-reactors.aspx, https://www.energy.gov/ne/articles/new-wave-innovation-coming-nuclear-energy.

Despite all the leftist-progressive Democrat rhetoric regarding global warming, it appears that polices and actions are stupidly (evilly) more about increasing control and power, rather than permitting and encouraging the building of 21st century clean-energy facilities.

It gives one pause when Senator Hirono recently stated, “and one of the reasons it was told to me at one of our retreats was that we Democrats know so much, that is true. And we have kind of have to tell everyone how smart we are.” Dear Senator Hirono, other Democrats may be smart, but they usually are wrong.

National Climate Assessment a Political Hot Potato

| Opinion | December 13, 2018

Timing is everything. Take for example the Trump administration’s decision to release the latest National Climate Assessment during last month’s Thanksgiving holiday. No shocker. The president and his team consistently dump unwelcome information at times they believe no one is paying attention.

Publication of the climate assessment is mandated by Congress. It has been released every four years since the requirement to do so was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. That’s right, Bush 41, whose recent passing we as a nation are still mourning. Again, timing is everything. In this instance, it’s the perfect time to pause and consider the significance of this piece of legislation.

The elder President Bush understood the disastrous consequences of climate change. According to Monica Medina, a former principal deputy undersecretary of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bush 41 knew that global warming posed “a risk to our health, to our prosperity, and to our national security.”

President Bush’s commitment to the environment is in stark contrast to opinions expressed by the current occupant of the Oval Office. When questioned about the climate report’s validity, President Trump reacted dismissively and said, “I don’t believe it.”

Climate change deniers like President Trump and many of his party’s leadership in Congress choose to pooh-pooh the findings of the climate assessment because it is contrary to “evidence” proffered by fossil fuel industry-affiliated experts and the special interests funding their careers. Their views are not predicated on potential environmental hazards or the health concerns of ordinary Americans. They are rooted in increased profits; the public be damned.

The consequences of the administration’s recent actions and inactions relating to environmental regulation and its withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement are a far greater matter of national security than the attempts of undocumented immigrants to “invade” our southern border. They just don’t play as well with the Trump base.

Since the last climate assessment was released four years ago, states in the west and southwest have increasingly been subjected to devastating droughts. Dwindling water supplies have affected the livelihood of farmers. Uncontrollable wildfires have taken a human toll, causing loss of life, property, and natural resources.

Coastal flooding and erosion, which is attributed to a decrease in sea ice, have impacted Alaskans as well as Americans in offshore territories of the U.S., like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Hotter temperatures are life-threatening to both elderly and young Americans.

Scientists who contributed to the National Climate Assessment note that by 2050 those higher temperatures and dramatic changes in rainfall will also reduce agricultural productivity and impact the health of livestock.

The report further notes that extreme weather events driven by global warming are “virtually certain to increasingly affect U.S. trade and economy, including import and export prices and businesses with overseas operations and supply chains.” We may expect shuttering of factories and a resultant hardship for American workers at home.

It’s quite possible that climate change will eventually have a greater negative impact on businesses large and small than the administration’s ill-conceived tariffs on imports, and its “America First” trade policies.

During the administration’s first two years, the wholesale elimination of regulations enacted by the Environmental Protection Agency and other government institutions have removed safeguards meant to keep Americans healthy and secure. The economic health of American workers – not their employers – is often cited as the motivating factor behind these changes.

To varying degrees, all administrations pander to those whose financial support helped put and keep them in office. The Trump administration is no different. Yet fixes that favor short-term corporate interests over those of ordinary Americans who voted for the president will inevitably yield economic consequences that affect the bottom-line and well-being of us all.

Global warming and the environment need not be a political hot potato. As the late President Bush told an audience thirty years ago, “Those who think we’re powerless to do anything about the greenhouse effect are forgetting about the White House effect.” In the wake of the latest National Climate Assessment, it is in everyone’s interests for the current occupant of that house to retake his temperature and reconsider his position on climate change.

Copyright 2018 Blair Bess distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Blair Bess is an award-winning journalist and columnist. He can be reached at bbess@soaggragated.com.

Always Advocating Alan – ‘Let’s Be Careful Out There’ Tony is Looking Down on Us From Heaven

| Opinion | December 13, 2018

How many of you remember the TV show “Hill Street Blues,” where each episode started with a morning police briefing, culminating with Sergeant Phil Esterhaus telling his troops, “Let’s be careful out there”? It is something to think about, as safety is all of our responsibility. Taking the message seriously comes with the realization that each of us experience risks every day just by being alive, and no matter how careful we may try to be, no person knows when they are going to grab their last breath.

Nothing drove the message home to me more than when I found out that my good biker buddy, Anthony “Tony” Princotta, was involved in a devastating motorcycle accident while on the way to the Elks Lodge, Monday, December 3. He was transported to Henry Mayo Hospital, underwent surgery, and unfortunately took his last breath on Wednesday, December 5. If you did not know Tony, and if he had not started on a ride to heaven at this time, you would have had the opportunity to meet him sometime in the future. Tony was in the prime of his life, a person with an infectious smile, incredible energy, loads of compassion, and a far-reaching vision. Alongside his loving wife Deana, they founded our local Santa Clarita Elks Riders chapter over a year ago. As one of the Elks Riders founding members, I can assure you, this group of bikers is not just interested in motorcycles; they want to help those in need, and have done so by hosting events which provided support to the community.

Plus, his vision did not end there. It was just three days prior to the accident when he shared his future goals with me. He wanted to spend this next year unifying Elks Riders around the country, forming a coalition with the Moose Riders, the Shriners Motor Patrol, the Rotary and other service organizations, in order to make an even larger positive community impact. Such an undertaking represents a huge project, and it seemed like only a person with Tony’s can-do attitude and ever-increasing work ethic could make it happen. I had agreed to support him with introductions and opportunities to get his message out, and was shaken to the core with the news of his passing.

Anthony “Tony” Princotta will be remembered as a man of action. He represented a 1984 Christmas present to his parents, and loved his wife Deana and family dearly. He was a responsible man who served our country as a Marine while being awarded two purple hearts in Afghanistan, the founder and President of Elks Lodge 2379 Elk’s Rider Chapter, and a person dedicated to the service of our community. He also emerged as a hometown hero, when he chose to remain in the hail of bullets to help a wounded woman during the recent Las Vegas mass shooting. Those who knew Tony will always remember him, and if we are lucky, a little of Tony’s spirit may have rubbed off on all who met him.

On Friday, December 7, members of the Santa Clarita and Sunland Tujunga Elks Riders met to honor “Zeus,” as he was known to his fellow riders, to grieve, and discuss how to keep Tony’s “Zeus Spirit of Service” alive in the future. It was an emotional gathering, with tears welling up in the eyes of many members. Remembered were the causes he championed, which included hosting a car and motorcycle charity event to raise money for children who suffer from brain injuries in April, and last month hosting a similar event to gather toys for veteran’s children. Throughout the evening, Elks Lodge members, including a district representative, stopped by to offer their condolences. Yet none said it better than the Lodge’s favorite bartender, Shelly, who with tears in her eyes and a crackle in her voice expressed the feelings universally felt when she said, “It is so sad, Tony was like our son.”

So, for the holiday season, and all year round, no matter if you are riding on two, three, four, or more wheels, let’s pledge to honor Tony’s memory and emulate the “Zeus Spirit” by doing all we can to stay safe on the road. Let’s all slow down, give other drivers the utmost courtesy, be sure to stop and provide a path for emergency vehicles when you see red lights flashing or hear sirens blaring, and stay calm when traffic problems become apparent.

Let’s all remember that Tony is looking down on us from heaven, and he wants nothing more than for us to stay safe by heeding Sergeant Phil Esterhaus’s message of, “Let’s be careful out there.”

Call it Government by Robin Hood

| Opinion | December 6, 2018

“They aways run out of other people’s money.”- Margaret Thatcher

I stand in strong disapproval of our swift rush towards socialism. Way too many leftist-progressives won their political races this last mid-term election. Last week, I was watching the House of Representatives on CSPAN, when a Congressman whose district had one of the factories that General Motors was closing stepped up to the lectern and began his rant.

“I have nothing against the 1 percent, but after General Motors announced the plant closing, their stock price went up six percent.”

“The rich are doing well, but …”

You know the rest. He went on to complain that all the investment capitol was in California and New York, and now is the time for the government to something about it. One of the mental flaws of leftist-progressives is the belief that the purpose of business is to provide jobs, when in fact their purpose is to make a profit for the stockholders. If you have a 401K or a pension, chances are, you’re one of those stockholders. The reason for the plant closings is that they are making a product at that location no one wants, and not greed. No amount of government control or redistributive policies can change that simple reality.

This Leftist-Progressive Congressman does not understand that state-ism and socialism will fail, for it depends on several major flaws in its premise to work. They include; Socialist view of basic economics, human nature and the power of unforeseen innovation.

First is a presumption that wealth is finite. They hold that wealth cannot be created, therefore, for fairness, it is the role of the government to constantly engage in wealth redistribution. Call it government by Robin Hood. Prime Minister Margret Thatcher understood the problem of Robin Hood-ism when she said, “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.” The productive must become true believers in the leftist-progressive agenda, despite the underperformers no longer needing to carry their own weight. In fact, government dependency is encouraged. Remember President Obama working to expand the number of people taking benefits, such as welfare and food stamps?

Nancy Pelosi once said in a news conference, “Economists agree that unemployment benefits remain one of the best ways to grow the economy in a very immediate way. It immediately injects demand into our markets and increases employment. For every dollar spent on unemployment benefits, the economy grows by, according to one estimate, $1.52; by others, $2.”

No need for the underclass to work. They only need to spend. Shades of “Brave New World.” For extreme management to work, you must work in a closed system and already have all current and future knowledge regarding technology, healthcare, economic and social engines. Socialism/Communism is famous for its never-ending programs and plans which are trumpeted by the ruling elite and cheered by the masses. They are never ending for they always seem to fail.

In Refutation

First: Wealth can be created with the simple application of well-directed labor. Consider the farmer. He buys seeds, tills the ground, plants the seeds and irrigates or waits for much needed rain. With a little good fortune and help from the Creator, soon a bounteous crop will grow. He harvests and sells the crop, and Voila-Voila! He has just created new wealth that was not there before. His customers raised the wealth to pay for his crops in very much the same way. Guess what? This all happened without any need for wealth redistribution. General Motors was losing wealth because they were misapplying labor by producing a product people did not want.

Second: The productive will eventually cease working hard to be successful when the fruits of their labor are constantly being excessively taken to provide for the able bodied who do not work. In entitlement societies, the beneficiaries often stop trying to provide for themselves and their families. Why work if you do not have to? Nancy Pelosi’s position that wealth is created by consumption without labor is appallingly foolish. If she was correct, all that would be needed for a thriving economy would be to give more and more to the unproductive. Why would anyone produce the goods and services that people need? Imagine a perpetual motion machine that increases its energy output. It’s magic! I do not question the speaker because she is a woman. I just cannot decide whether she has the idiot gene or that she thinks that we do. Remember Margret Thatcher: “They always run out of other people’s money.”

Third: Real life is not a closed system. Mankind has innovation and creativity given to us by our Creator. No matter how much we plan, the world changes in ways that we just cannot anticipate. Economic engines, technology, health breakthroughs, new forms of communication, agriculture, ways of delivering goods and services will always change in ways that we cannot begin to anticipate. Positive change is inhibited by overreaching government. Our constitutional republic is what is truly radical and best prepared to embrace change. Leftist-progressivism is as old as uncivil civilization and is not flexible. Its modern roots are totalitarian and fascist. Hitler was a leftist-progressive.

Capitalism is most effective engine for creating wealth and raising everyone’s standard of living. It is perhaps the most naturally moral system ever invented. It is the antithesis of Robin Hood-ism. That discussion I will save for a future submission. Please do not confuse economics with a lack of compassion. American entrepreneurs are very generous. Charity is a hallmark of being American. Of course, we must help those who are disabled in a way that they are unable to help themselves. We are a good people. Despite my fears of the direction that the leftist-progressives are leading, I am not without hope. I look to the words of perhaps the greatest president of our lifetime.

“I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph. And there’s purpose and worth to each and every life. … In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

January 20, 1981: From Reagan’s Inaugural Address.

An Italian Christmas Eve Tradition

| Opinion | December 6, 2018

By William Tozzi

There’s a Christmas Eve tradition that began a long time ago in Italy. It originated because, for Roman Catholics, Christmas Eve had been a day of abstinence, meaning no meat was to be eaten on that day. So seafood was used in celebrating this special occasion, and observant Catholics remained in compliance with church teachings. Over the years, immigrants brought this tradition with them across the Atlantic and kept it alive in America.

Growing up in an Italian-American neighborhood in Chicago, I remember Christmas Eve as being a special time for celebration. Family, relatives and friends would gather around a large table where they would share in consuming an assortment of “delicacies” from the sea. There was also pasta, fruit, vegetables, wine, baked goods, and deserts. It was a time for getting together and finding out more about one’s roots.

This extensive dinner typically consisted of many recipes, made with at least seven types of seafood, such as: baccala (salt cod), calamari (squid), eel, anchovies, clams, oysters, shrimp, smelts, sardines, crab, and lobster.

After enjoying the meal, many continued celebrating the true and wonderful meaning of this evening by attending Midnight Mass, which ushered in Christmas Day.

It’s a popular tradition that many Italian-Americans still follow.

Copyright 2018, William Tozzi, Golden Pen Writers Guild, Santa Clarita, CA

Macy’s Politically Correct Parade

| Opinion | December 6, 2018

Not more than 20 minutes into the 2018 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade telecast, as families gathered to give thanks to God for His blessings and celebrate their shared relationships and family traditions, viewers were confronted with “in-your-face” political correctness!

The NBC telecast of the well-known department store’s New York City parade is known for its “family-friendly” display of giant balloon-characters, high-school marching bands, and floats with celebrities and musicians. However, this year, Macy’s parade yielded to raw political correctness, as it featured the cast of the Broadway show “The Prom,” with their specific social agenda.

The thespians sang and danced several segments from the show, as the two lesbian lead-characters held hands and ended their performance with a shocking and lengthy same-sex kiss, featured in high definition in a pre-planned camera shot.

Given the international viewership of this parade, the sensual display has been headlined as “The Lesbian Kiss Seen Round the World.”

Many viewed the deliberate display as “offensive” and in the Left’s latest effort “toward normalizing decadence.” Some parents feel they were blindsided by the behemoth public companies by this shocking sensuality and intend to decline to patronize Macy’s or watch their parades in the future.

Why this negative reaction? These socially conservative and religiously trained parents (Christians, Jews, and even Muslims) believe homosexual practice is unnatural, unhealthy, and—according to Jesus—unholy.

Christian author and radio host Dr. Michael Brown has noted three scriptures from the first book in the New Testament, where Jesus affirmed sexual relations only between a husband and wife.

•First, in Matthew 5:17, Jesus said He came not to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. In other words, even in Jesus’ day, the Old Testament was in force and He affirmed it, which includes the condemnation of homosexual practice, found in the book of Leviticus (18:22).

•Second, Dr. Brown cited Matthew 15:19, where Jesus stated that all sexual acts committed outside of marriage defile a human being.

•Finally, Dr. Brown cited Matthew 19:4-6 where Jesus states that marriage, as God intended, is the union of one man and one woman.

Furthermore, the Apostle Paul is bluntly honest about sexual sins in Romans 1:21-28 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. He labeled homosexual behavior to be sin and warns that those who practice these sins, along with many others, will not inherit God’s kingdom.

Jesus wants his disciples to live holy and godly lives (2 Peter 3:11) and be found spotless and blameless (v. 14) when He returns. Moral corruption and lawless living will increase in these Last Days. We need to consistently seek to influence our culture for good and godliness, when and while we can.

Let us pray for our family and friends, that we all will be on our guard to resist the evil and corruption in the world around us. Also, pray for the corporate giants who willfully advance the P.C. (politically correct) agendas of sexual perversion and moral lawlessness. Economic failure in our land may begin when corporations and their leaders promote sin and selfishness rather than righteousness and justice.

Always Advocating Alan

| Opinion | December 6, 2018

Community Opinion Survey: Santa Clarita’s Holiday Present to Itself

Every two years, the City of Santa Clarita contracts with a consulting firm to perform a “Community Opinion Survey.” At first glance, it is a good practice to perform an appraisal of any organization’s operations, in order to foster self-improvement and enhance customer satisfaction. Reading the city’s consultant report, the True North Research Inc. introduction shows it is in full agreement when it stated, “this report provide City Council and Staff with information that can be used to make sound, strategic decisions in a variety of areas including service improvements and enhancements, measuring and tracking internal performance, budgeting, policy planning, and community engagement.”

Yet, the Signal article titled “Recent Santa Clarita Poll Reinforces Past Results,” published Wednesday, November 28, stated: “A recent poll conducted by the City of Santa Clarita showed … the most important community issues perceived by the public have remained the same.”

I don’t know about you, but it made me start to think that if the results indicated community issues are in the same position as prior years, what has the city been doing to fix those old issues? One positive note was identified as a “most notable” change, which indicated “14 percent of those surveyed said they found zero concerns facing the community,” as opposed to 3.8 percent in 2016. Now that is pretty impressive, so I decided to have a look at the survey results myself.

Analyzing survey results is nothing new to me. Throughout my time as an aerospace department manager, I used surveys regularly to gain knowledge about my personal management methods, as well as my organizations performance. I quickly discovered that if the intent is truly process improvement, you do not want a rating, you want information which can be used to help the organization work as smoothly and efficiently as possible. So, my surveys simply asked, “what do you want more of, less of, or the same of, from me?” You have to have a thick skin to ask those questions, because people will tell you. I learned the way to make it work was to provide feedback on each item, and use what I learned to improve when I could and explain when the situation did not allow it. After a few cycles, my credibility with both employees and customers was greatly improved, and areas where the situation prevented the requested change was much more readily accepted.

So, to validate the results of the recent City Opinion Survey, my first step was to find the basis for the result that 14 percent of those responding perceived there were zero concerns facing the community. Looking at the questions themselves and the raw data, what I found was; Question 2 had 13 percent answering “not sure, cannot think of any” after being asked to identify “the most important issue Facing the Santa Clarita community today.” Then, 14 percent answered “Question 4” as “not sure, cannot think of any” after being asked to identify “the one thing to make Santa Clarita a better place to live.” I don’t think I would have extrapolated that 14 percent had zero concerns from those answers, particularly after reading 16 percent of those who responded to “Question 6” when asked to explain why they were satisfied with city services answered they were “not sure,” 13 percent responded to “Question 20” they were “not sure” if they received the seasons magazine, and 15 percent responded to “Question 15” as “not sure” “why they preferred to leave the Santa Clarita community” (relative to work, school, entertainment, shopping, etc.).

Next was a look at the questions, where the community was asked to grade a statement about city services as being, satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or dissatisfied. Then when charting the responses, the pollster grouped the satisfied and somewhat satisfied together, as well as grouping the somewhat dissatisfied and dissatisfied together, before reaching a conclusion based on the two composite groups.

This is one form of “push polling” used to obtain a predetermined outcome. The questions are skewed to one side of an issue, the goal being to obtain a desired outcome, under the mask of survey research. Pollsters are students of human nature. They know a person who has a limited issue with a product, or service is more likely to say they are somewhat satisfied as opposed somewhat dissatisfied. The majority of us are optimists, and since some of the products or services being asked about have some positive attributes, we tend not to want to appear negative. Using this method of grouping answers almost always benefits the city.

To illustrate this issue, page 11, figure 3 of the survey shows a comparison of our community’s perception of “overall quality of life.” The data from 2016 and 2018 is fairly consistent. The number of those who responded “Excellent” and “Good” did not change much from year to year. In contrast, Page 15, figure 6 of the survey shows a comparison of our communities “Overall Satisfaction.” The data from 2016 and 2018 is also fairly consistent, if you combine satisfied with somewhat satisfied. But, if you look at these components individually, you would see a large shift, with satisfied being reduced by 20.7 percent and somewhat satisfied increasing by 16.4 percent in 2018, compared to 2016. While a person could celebrate the composite number remaining very high, the changes to the individual components display a very large negative trend in community satisfaction. This is an area which clearly needs city council and city staff attention.

If I were given the opportunity to ask the consultant questions, I would question why the decision was made to establish the survey target population using a list of registered voters, leaving out about 17 percent of voting-eligible residents, to explain the rationale for accepting Latino/Hispanic response at approximately 30 percent below the city demographics, and lastly, I would question if they were aware of a reason why the responding Canyon Country residents in 91387 (the more affluent area of Canyon Country) was almost double the response from 91351.

But the most curious area of the survey report was in the description of Figure 46, “providing a plot of the maximum margin of error.” It goes on stating, “The maximum margin of error for a dichotomous percentage result occurs when the answers are an even split.” So, how is this applicable to this survey? Talk about, “if you cannot dazzle them with brilliance.”

Now, I’m betting most of you are not statistical experts and have no idea what a “dichotomous percentage” is. Well, dichotomous variables are variables “with two categories or levels.” The most common example is a coin flip resulting in heads or tails. Most all of us would say there is a 50-50 chance of either occurrence, while most of us also understand it takes a fairly large number of flips to validate the hypothesis. There is mathematical formula established used to determine the confidence level 50-50 will occur per the number of flips. But this survey did not use questions which resulted in two state answers; therefore, calculating the margin of error for this instance is a much more complex task, and the report is silent on how it was accomplished.

By now you are probably wondering why I titled this column, “Santa Clarita’s Holiday Present to Itself.” I did it because within the report is data which, if carefully evaluated, could provide incentive for our city council and city staff to make changes which would greatly benefit the community. In fact, at the last Santa Clarita City Council meeting, Mayor Weste made a point of indicating that City Management has heard the community’s voice loud and clear, knowing traffic congestion is our number one problem which needs to be fixed, as it topped the list as the most important issue facing Santa Clarita. Plus, we have just seen the tip of the iceberg. Our city needs to focus on all the areas where “somewhat satisfied” is large, or growing, with time. While I understand city management loves to celebrate, they need to also roll up their sleeves and find ways to continuously improve every product and service they provide. Keeping the community informed of what is in progress, in addition to making those identified improvements a reality will turn Santa Clarita’s holiday present into our community’s holiday present, as well.

A Final Salute to a Good, Decent Man and Statesman

| Opinion | December 6, 2018

By Christine Flowers

We all woke up Saturday morning to the news that President George H. W. Bush had died, the man many of us called “Papa Bush” to differentiate him from his son. And whereas the son is now, with the gentling buffer of time, becoming less polarizing and more relatable at a personal level, the father has always been a character of human dimension.

Politics might have divided us, and partisans might have criticized his policies and legacy, but virtually no one hated George Herbert Walker Bush. The closest we got to negativity was the sarcastic-yet-endearing caricature perfected by Dana Carvey in the old “Saturday Night Live” days where “read my lips” was a punch line.

Our 41st president was always a good man, and even though we can’t ignore the controversies of his presidency, which seem ridiculously tame in comparison to the cataclysms of those in his successors’ administrations (including his eldest son’s), his years in public service seem benign in retrospect.

But that’s not what we were thinking of when we turned on the television and saw that handsome face with the obligatory epitaphs and eulogies scrolling beneath it, and heard the laudatory comments from pundits and politicians. We weren’t thinking about Desert Storm, or Dan Quayle, or broken economies or the failure to capture Saddam.

At least I wasn’t, and from what I saw on the social media accounts of friends, neither were most of us. We were thinking about the fact that with the extinguishing of this human point of light, brighter than the thousands that he often referenced in speeches, we had lost one of the last good men of a generation that is now fading into the mists of time.

There is a mythology of the “Greatest Generation,” popularized by Tom Brokaw and David McCullough and other cultural and critical historians who told us the stories of those who came of age during the Depression and World War II. Very few of those men and women are still alive, and so when one of the remaining flesh and blood examples of that generation leaves the Earth, we are forced to reflect on what that passing means. At a granular, personal level, the death of a beloved grandfather or uncle means the loss of an important family member, of his laughter, of her stories, of their dedicated spirits and the memories that only they could pass along.

But when a man like George H.W. Bush passes on, the country is the “family,” and we are faced with the sad prospect that something truly special has been taken away from all of us, even those of us who never had the joy of speaking with, meeting, or even getting a hand-written letter from a man so famous for sending them to unsuspecting admirers.

The reason that the death of someone like President Bush touches a deeply set, imperceptible chord in us is that we sense his goodness and humanity, and we mourn the loss of that in the public square. We mourn a dignity that is all but gone, we mourn a gentleness that has been replaced by bluster and bravado and brashness, we understand that politics will never again be a game played by gentlemen or gentle women. We grieve the man, but we also grieve his era and his class, his type and his imprint.

I spend a lot of time with my nephew talking about dinosaurs and creatures that are now extinct, and I can’t get beyond the thought that there is some human parallel when talking about the people who shared a lineage and a time frame with George H.W. Bush. There aren’t many like him left, and his passing leaves a hole that won’t be filled by anyone again.

In the end, the thing that made me cry was the fact that this good man was finally with his beloved wife and daughter Robin, the child he and Barbara lost to Leukemia at the age of three. My tears were the kind that spring from a happy catharsis, and the knowledge that the man who had spent a lifetime missing his little girl would be able to hold her again.

That’s an unusual thought to have about a former president the morning after his death. And that’s why that death is so achingly sad.

Copyright 2018 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at cflowers1961@gmail.com.

Give Trump Credit When Due

| Opinion | November 29, 2018

By Peter Funt

Stuck in a hotel room watching CNN the other day, I happened to catch live coverage of Donald Trump’s short speech about the “First Step Act,” concerning criminal justice reforms. I was bowled over. If I had been reading an unlabeled transcript I might have thought the speaker was Barack Obama.

Imbalances and outright abuses in our criminal justice system are a plague on society.

And here was Trump, the law-and-order president, urging passage of legislation to limit mandatory sentences, especially for drug offenses, and advocating new funding for sweeping anti-recidivism programs.

Trump also said this: “Today’s announcement shows that true bipartisanship is possible.” Yes! He’s correct – and that’s big news.

I kept expecting Trump to put his foot in his mouth by shifting to “criminals” in the migrant caravan, or ranting about “crimes” he believes were committed in election recounts. He did not.

He was entirely reasonable and on message – albeit with a prepared text – about a vitally important issue.

When it ended, however, I had a sinking feeling. What if mainstream media were to under play, or even ignore, this very positive news?

After all, members of Trump’s team, most notably Kellyanne Conway, have stated repeatedly that media dwell on Trump’s problems and fail to give appropriate space to meaningful achievements.

In the hours that followed, CNN devoted almost all of its time to “chaos” in the White House—Trump’s mood, Melania Trump’s effort to get a national security deputy fired, and charges and countercharges about the election results.

The First Step Act was barely mentioned.

I was able to check two broadcast networks. On NBC’s “Nightly News,” the story was covered reasonably well about eight minutes in. But the “CBS Evening News” never mentioned the story in its half-hour report. Never mentioned it!

The next morning, the story was practically invisible on the nation’s front pages – with no page-one coverage in The Los Angles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune or USA Today.

Only The New York Times, among papers I surveyed, stepped up, making the story its lead of the day, atop page one. In an editorial, The Times added, “In this early test, the president is signaling that he indeed wants to make progress on critical issues that enjoy broad support.”

Meanwhile progressive commentator Van Jones told CNN’s Don Lemon: “I say, the 99 times I don’t agree with the president I’m going to give him hell. But on this one, I’ll give him a salute and applause.”

What followed was a Twitter backlash against Jones from liberals who were troubled by praise, any praise, for Trump. Jones replied via Twitter: “There are 200,000 people behind bars. They have no hope, no help. We haven’t passed a bill to help them in almost two generations.”

The president himself has noted that he could work with the new Democratic majority in the House on many issues, from drug prices, to repairing infrastructure and, yes, on criminal justice reform.

Trump’s opponents along with media who cover the White House objectively must walk a fine line.

They should criticize him when he deserves it and must hold him accountable for his many misstatements. But they can’t succumb to temporary blindness when the news is positive.

As the second half of Trump’s term begins, reforms are needed in criminal justice – and also in how politicians and media conduct themselves on the rare occasions when good news happens at the White House.

A list of Peter Funt’s upcoming live appearances is available at www.CandidCamera.com.

Peter Funt is a writer and speaker. His book, “Cautiously Optimistic,” is available at Amazon.com and CandidCamera.com. © 2018 Peter Funt. Columns distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.

The Markings of a ‘Patriot’

| Opinion | November 29, 2018

by Ashley Calkins
There are stereotypical rules to being a “true” American, if you will. Number one; you have to own a confederate flag. Number two; you have to have a USA blanket to sit on, USA bandana to wear, a beer in hand and a TV to scream at when the players kneel in apparent disrespect of our flag. It’s a must-have list of things that make you seem “patriotic” these days. Oh, and let’s not forget the “don’t tread on me” sticker on the back of the Chevy pick-up truck and the gun in hand.

If it seems like I’m pointing out a specific group of people, you can be sure that I am. Because being an American isn’t about whether or not you kneel during the anthem. It’s not about being conservative or liberal. It’s about having the human decency to realize that the things mentioned above, which many consider to be “patriotic,” are hypocritical.

The Confederate flag, for one, is the symbol of an era in which prejudice against skin color and slavery was accepted. The Confederate flag is waved proudly by extremist neo-Nazi groups next to the Nazi flag. The confederate flag is the most un-American flag in our history. The Confederate flag is the flag of the people who chose to break away from America, break away from freedom, and start a war that spilled American blood on American soil. The Confederate flag is a symbol of a “country” that held on to racism, sexism, and white privilege. So when you fly that flag, know that I will never see it as American. I will see it as it is; a symbol of what America should never be.

As for kneeling during the national anthem, the players are not kneeling in disrespect of our country or our flag. They kneel in respect of those who died for the flag, and those who were killed under that flag in our very own country. They kneel because at a soldier’s funeral, the flag is presented by a kneeling soldier to the fallen one’s parents. They kneel in respect, and they kneel for lost lives that need to be remembered. It is far more disrespectful to our flag to sit on it, seeing as many have American flag blankets. As a military child, may I also point out that the purpose of the military is to preserve freedom of speech and liberty in our country? If that is true, what are you doing berating someone for their freedom of speech? Who does it hurt? No one, but it has a message. Let them share it.

To be an American is to have a moral compass aligned with the Constitution. In this respect, to be an American, you have to believe in equality, regardless of sex, gender, sexuality, religion, race, etc. According to the 14th amendment, that is the true patriot. To be an American, you have to believe in freedom. So you would have to agree that people should be free to speak their minds about issues in their country. To be an American, you have to believe in justice. So you would have to agree that our justice system unfairly favors those of lighter skin.

I’m not saying that in order to be an American you have to align yourself with one political party. What I am saying, however, is that in order to be a “true” American patriot, you have to believe in the values this country was founded on. It is possible to believe in conservative or liberal ideologies and hold true to patriotism, as long as you show respect to our founding documents. With that comes the Flag Code, which clearly advises against wearing American flag clothing, among other things, as well. With that comes the belief in the Constitution, which purposefully gave the federal government the rights it has due to confederacies having a tendency to fail. With that comes the 14th amendment, and all the other amendments dedicated to the rights of the people. With that comes the Supreme Court cases that came to do amazing things in progress of civil rights. To me, it seems that so many pass by on what this country truly is in comparison to what it should be.

I am an American. A believer in the people. A believer in equality, in freedom and in justice. To be an American is not just to be born here. It’s not even about where you are from. It’s about loving this country for what it should be and believing in what it can be. I am an American patriot, and I hope you are, too.

Man Forgets to Bring Chair to Parade: Arrested for Sitting, Violating Municipal Code

| Opinion | November 29, 2018

(Satire)

An unlucky member of the Smith family was arrested after he forgot to bring a chair to the local holiday parade.

“He made the fatal mistake of thinking he could get away with sitting on the sidewalk to watch the festivities,” said the sheriff who arrested Smith. “The law is the law.”

Smith thought he was safe, wearing a holiday sweater and a blue tooth in his ear. However, sheriff’s reports suggest that his jeans were a size too big, an indicator of homelessness.

“Look, being sheik can make or break you in a scenario like this,” said Councilman Bob Kellar, hypocritically wearing last year’s colors.

Officials also arrested a grumpy teen who was waiting in the car for his family, claiming he was “basically living in the thing.”

“He was leaning up against the window like he owned the place,” said the sheriff. “Orders are orders.”

Santa Clarita has been cracking down on homelessness since this summer, pinpointing homeless behaviors and criminalizing them for the good of the city.

“Look, you are safe if you don’t take breaks during a jog, wait for the bus, accidentally rest your head at the library, have too many items in your shopping cart, have messy hair, get a stain on your shirt, enjoy the day on a park bench while wearing an oversized sweater, or sing to yourself while walking to work,” the sheriff said. “It’s not rocket science.”

A High Schooler’s POV

| Opinion | November 29, 2018

By Analyn May

Over a month ago, I wrote an article about growing up and my thoughts on graduating. It was extremely well-received, and multiple people (including my employer— thanks, Mr. Sutton) told me that it was the best piece I’d written yet. You’d think I’d be really happy about this, and don’t get me wrong, I was. My readers’ kind words always make my day, and give me the confidence to keep writing. But in this particular case, there was one worry I couldn’t get out of my mind: if that piece touched so many people so deeply, how could anything else I wrote possibly measure up? What if the next column I wrote disappointed someone who was looking forward to it? I’ve pretty much spilled my heaviest subject matter that I can write about publicly; what topic would I even write about? Surely another piece on my grudges against the media or opinion on the power of friendship would seem dull by comparison to my last article.

So I stopped writing entirely. You’ll notice that I’ve been radio-silent for a while, and this is the reason why. But as you can probably predict, that didn’t really solve anything. I’ve missed hearing your feedback, and I’ve missed making money doing something I enjoy. Then today, I decided enough was enough. Already, I expect that this article won’t be as good as my last one. But you know what? That’s okay. Not every painting Van Gogh made was a Starry Night or Mona Lisa. Sometimes he painted a Dunes, and then sometimes he ran out of ideas and painted a Dunes with Figures.

I think this is a lesson we’ve all learned at one point or another, but it’s a good one to be reminded of. It’s okay to make something less than your best. The motivational posters lie; you CAN’T always give 100 percent. But you’ll never know when your next masterpiece will happen if you stop now. So if you’re like me, and you’re going through a low in your work— whatever your work may be— stop expecting so much of yourself and just keep grinding through. Your next Mona Lisa will be here before you know it.

But as always, that’s just my POV. Until next time, this is Analyn May, signing off.

WWOFD: Healthcare, The Tenth Amendment and True Grit

| Opinion | November 29, 2018

By Stephen Smith 
From the mouths of our elected socialists, such as Bernie and Alexandria, the cry for government-provided healthcare has been heard so often and loud, that many now believe that having their neighbors pay for their health needs is their right. Even for protection from their recreational sex and extinguishing the lives of souls yet to be born to avoid parenthood. They believe that the responsibility for paying for these procedures should be placed upon people, such as the elderly, devout, right-to-life Roman Catholic lady who lives down the street. Being part of the collective excuses you from individual responsibility. Under socialism, you abdicate yours and others’ individual rights in exchange for being part of that collective. That call to socialized medicine, in part, led to victory for the progressives in the last election.

It is tragic and immoral that in order to give the people one right, such as “free” (really a privilege) healthcare, it is necessary that they abuse others. In this case, taking away the fruits of our labor without consent and violating some of the most sacred beliefs of many regarding the sanctity of life. Such is the nature of Marxism/Socialism. It is time to spend more time asking ourselves, “WWOFD?” What Would Our Founders Do? So, I got together with my composite fictional “True Grit” friend “The Bachelor” who began an independent study of our Constitution. He took academic online courses from Hillsdale College, available for free at Hillsdale.edu. He enhanced his knowledge with the wonderful 5-minute courses from Prager University. You can find them for free at prageru.com. He even hosted book studies on “The 5000 Year Leap” by Cleon Skousen and the challenging “Federalist Papers” (by Publius, aka Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison). Sounds like a lot of work, but the more he learned, the more he was inspired by the real story of Americanism. He realized that there was a reason why so many citizens have embraced socialism. Leftist-Progressivism is the only political viewpoint taught and tolerated when going through our educational system. Knowledge of the wonders of our Constitution seems to have been intentionally removed from all public schools and university’s curriculum. Seeing a gap in the peoples education, The Bachelor obtained the DVD’s and workbooks of “Constitution Alive” available from David Barton’s Wall Builders at https://wallbuilders.com/ and from the host Rick Green at http://rickgreen.com/home/ and began offering the video courses for free in his home, churches and the American Legion.

What did we learn? First, all our natural law, God-given rights and those rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights are about what the Federal government may not do to “we the people.” No where does it state what benefits the Federal government must provide for the people. It also says that life and liberty cannot be taken without the due process of law. All the functions, duties and powers of the Federal government are carefully defined. Nowhere is abortion or providing healthcare mentioned or implied.

Our founders were astonishingly brilliant. They provided a great laboratory for finding solutions to a large range of problems without putting the entire nation at risk. It is called state’s rights, or Federalism. Study the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

It simply means this. The Federal government does not address the issue of providing healthcare, therefore the individual states are free to do so. I do not agree with the incoming governor’s desire to provide universal California state healthcare, but unlike the Federal government, it is clearly Constitutional for the state government to do so.

Federal leftist-progressive legislators and justices have ignored Constitutional intent. I believe that a transparent free market solution, with assistance for those who are unable to pay and for patients with pre-existing conditions, is vastly more productive and cost effective. If you think that government healthcare is not full of flaws and dangers, you are sadly mistaken. Despite the exhortations from Chuck Schumer and our own Congressman, federally provided healthcare, due to diminishing resources, and government bureaucracy with its lack of responsiveness to the needs of the people and lack of breakthroughs and innovation, must over time reduce the quality and increase the cost of healthcare. If federal healthcare programs prove too highly flawed, the people are left with no options. If a Federalist or state-based system fails, only one state is affected, deeply reducing the harm done to the people. Plus, there is the advantage of one state learning from the successes and failures of another. Single state corrections are far more easily made than the embedded bureaucracy of a national program. You are free to move to a state like Texas which, politically, may be much more to your liking. Thousands of Californians have already made that decision to flee the entitlement state of California. One of the results of California leftism is that we now have more people living in poverty than any other state in the Union.

Whether you are liberal or conservative, it is time to become more Constitutionally grounded by getting into the heads of our founders. Take advantage of the resources I have cited. You too might become inspired to embrace the real Americanism. I think you will find that our founders were much more than a bunch of old rich white guys or a musical on Broadway. The ideas they embraced and the Republic that they left us is as modern and inspirational as tomorrow. Now those Patriots had “True Grit.”

Letter to the Editor

| Opinion | November 29, 2018

California’s Freeways are an Embarrassment

Last week I drove to the San Fernando Valley for a doctor’s appointment by way of Interstate 5, the 405 and the 101 freeways and my entire excursion was akin to driving along a bumpy graveled country road. I rarely venture outside of Santa Clarita Valley so I found this trip very disappointing having heard about I-5’s recent improvements. Freeway surfaces are uneven and there are too many wide cracks, broken chunks of concrete and potholes. As you may know, portions of I-5 from McBean Parkway over towards Sylmar have been widened and supposedly improved but it sure didn’t seem like it by a long shot.

So, here are several suggestions for our California Transportation Commission. First, take a drive in your tax paid “free” State vehicle across our state line into Nevada. You will immediately notice a nice transition from your rough ride into a remarkable smoothness of your drive. Secondly, take a drive over Newhall Ranch Road which the City of Santa Clarita recently and beautifully resurfaced. Next, recruit key managers and engineers from Nevada’s Department of Transportation to oversee California’s roadway upgrades and maintenance projects. Or, simply recruit Santa Clarita’s roadway professionals.

At any Rate, a major change must be achieved as our tax dollars are spent unwisely and quality of workmanship is intolerable and embarrassing.

Sacramento, while you’re at it immediately cease wasting our tax dollars on a useless unaffordable bullet train and start efficiently managing California’s highways, water resources and forests.

Dear Sacramento politicians, wise up!

Bill Reynolds
Valencia Resident

Do Armed Police Endanger Many Lives?

| Opinion | November 29, 2018

by Joe Messina
Apparently students at several universities are protesting armed guards or police on campus. They believe that their presence not only endangers students, but makes sanctuary campuses of no effect. What are we teaching these kids?

The Evergreen State College and University of Rochester both recently experienced backlash in the form of protests to proposals for adding armed security guards to campus.

University of Rochester Public Safety Chief Mark Fischer submitted a proposal to the student senate Oct. 22 that would place armed officers on the

school’s River and Eastman campuses, granting them unrestricted access to the areas.

“DPS officers are better trained than any area law enforcement agency and understand our university community and culture,” Fischer wrote in a proposal to the school’s Public Safety Review Board, obtained by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. “These officers should be the first responders to every call for service, and especially those involving deadly weapons where a rapid armed response is needed for life preservation.”

“We have seen no appreciable difference in criminal activity in either the River or Eastman Campuses,” Fischer added. “However, the average DPS response time from the [nearest police station] to River Campus is six minutes, which is more than triple the time when compared to an armed officer already assigned to the campus. For the Eastman Campus, there is a complete reliance on the Rochester Police Department for incidents involving a weapon.”

In a statement to Campus Reform, the school’s admissions and financial aid dean, Jonathan Burdick, addressed the call for armed officers on the two campuses.

“Students are raising concerns, as are faculty, and the University president, Richard Feldman, has responded by appointing a broad study group involving representatives of all stakeholders on behalf of our many students of color, whose fears I understand and find credible, and because I have a responsibility for advising the campus about potential risks to our future enrollment,” Burdick said.” The aftermath of an unjustifiable shooting (even if it’s a lawful shooting, and especially if it could be argued as a racially motivated) is a risk.”

Always Advocating Alan – The Holiday Season is Here. Will There be a Present in your Stocking This Year?

| Opinion | November 29, 2018

I envision each of you enjoyed as wonderful and memorable of a Thanksgiving Day holiday as my wife Pam and I experienced again this year. For the Ferdman clan, it was an opportunity, just like many Thanksgiving’s past, for four generations to be gathered around a table, not only to partake of a meal, but to enjoy each other’s company while sharing stories and listening to what was going on in each of our family members’ lives.

For my clan, Thanksgiving also signals the start of America’s holiday season, and just like you, I have some holiday rituals which I enjoy each year. Now, this may seem odd to some, coming from a Jewish transplant from Brooklyn, but each year I cannot wait to watch the original version of three special movies: “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Carol,” and “Miracle on 34th Street.” When I was young, these three films were shown on television continually throughout the month of December. I noticed sometime later, as an adult, television stations discontinued to air these movies, and in some cases, they scheduled the showing of remakes, which I felt did not tell the story as well as the originals. The programming changes became even more troublesome, when I asked my grandchildren if they had seen these three great films and they responded by saying they had never heard of them. That caused me to jump on the internet and purchase a DVD of each one, so as to never miss seeing them each year again.

I believe these special films tell stories with an important underlying message. The morals conveyed are more than just a purely Christian message. Each story contains a life lesson for all humanity. First you have to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.” In this film, George Bailey comes to realize the positive influence his life has had on people around him. This is a life lesson that resonates more strongly the older a person becomes. I challenge everyone to take a little time, sit back, close your eyes, and reflect on when your life has had a positive influence on the wellbeing of others. You may surprise yourself.

Next to watch is “A Christmas Carol.” Framed around the Christmas holiday, Ebenezer Scrooge is forced to look at his life. He is reminded of how he acted cruelly to those who were kind to him and those who loved him. He then confronts his own mortality, and the picture looks pretty grim. Scrooge awakens, having experienced an epiphany and changes his behavior. It is intended to show each of us that it is never too late to realize when we are going down the wrong path, to feel remorse, and change our ways for the better. While I am sure none of our readers have exhibited improper behavior to the level of old Ebenezer, you might think about an area in your life where you may have treated someone in a way you would not have wanted to be treated, even if it was ever-so slightly. Like Ebenezer, you cannot change where we have been, but we can make an effort to change directions and prevent such an occurrence from happening again.

Lastly, I watch “Miracle on 34th Street.” This story revolves around a kindly old man named “Chris Cringle” who claims to be Santa Claus. When arrested for mental issues, the story’s hero, attorney Fred Gailey, takes on the challenge of proving that Chris is the one and only Santa Claus in court. For an adult, the story points out problems created by the commercialization of the Christmas season, sometimes overshadowing the meaning of the holiday itself. But it takes the innocence of a child, Susan Walker, to show us the importance of understanding that, “faith is believing when common sense tells you not to,” and when using faith in something, or someone, is appropriate.

Now, Pam and I love giving our grandchildren presents every year, and I would never suggest we were going to discontinue the practice. What I would ask you to do is to keep the holiday sprit alive. No matter if you will be celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Prophet Muhammad’s birth, Buddha’s vow to reach spiritual enlightenment, or any other celebration (which I apologize for not identifying), just remember why you are celebrating. Then keep a spring in your step, a smile on your face, kind words on your lips, and pledge to stay that way all year long.

Which brought me to thinking about some good things happening in Santa Clarita. We have become a diverse community, openly embracing residents of all religions and national origins. So, when I read Saturday’s Signal, it made me proud to learn about some very different holiday celebrations taking place this year.

For example, on December 1, the Swadeshi Cultural Group will host its annual Indian cultural show at the Newhall Family Theater. The event will commence at 5:30 p.m. Information about tickets and the event itself can be seen at www.swadeshiusa.org or by calling (661) 904-4069.

On December 2, residents are invited to the Jewish Holiday of Hanukkah’s first day, at the Westfield Valencia Town Center at 5 p.m., hosted by the SCV Jewish congregations of Beth Ami, Beth Shalom, and Chabad of the SCV.

From now through December 22, The Canyon Theater Guild will be performing their rendition of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” (Check their website for more information). Also, from now through December 24, Santa will be available on Level 1 of Westfield Valencia Town Center by H&M. (See their website for hours).

But I cannot “sign off” without completing a follow-up from last week, and providing a potential Christmas present. As I am sure you recall, last week I wrote about my inability to get a local DMV appointment to renew my drivers license prior to my current license expiring. That caused me to take a 150-mile road trip to the Santa Maria office in order to beat the deadline. Well, it turns out I was not alone. Mr. Ronald Viersen penned a letter to the editor, which appeared in The Signal, lamenting about the same problem. Only his situation is even worse. His license already expired in October, and he could not get a local DMV renewal appointment until December 10. Mr. Viersen indicated he started driving in 1957, meaning he had probably been caught by the DMV requirement that requires drivers over 70 to take a written test when renewing their license.

So here is my question. Since the California DMV offices are overwhelmed, and drivers tests are now given and graded by computer, why not authorize appropriate outside organizations, such as the Auto Club, to conduct and monitor the process? I also do not understand the logic that if a person does not have a real ID by October 2020, they will need to show a valid passport to fly commercial. If that is true, why is a valid passport not good enough to get a “Real-ID”? Lastly, since passports have a unique identification number, and passport renewals can be obtained through the mail, why does the California DMV require you personally show them the same information as you needed to get a passport to obtain a California “Real-ID”? I would not even mind if an additional fee was charged to renew at the Auto Club or by mail. That would have been a lot better than driving 150 miles to do the same thing.

As of the November election, Christy Smith became our new State of California Assembly Representative. OK, I know she will not be officially in that role until next year, which is a little late for a 2018 Christmas present, but I think I will give her a call and see if she will look into helping fix this problem when her term starts early next year.

Two Black Friday Employees Pardoned

| Opinion | November 22, 2018

SATIRE

Two lucky Black Friday employees were pardoned at City Hall last week, relieving them of a fate endured by millions of working Americans every year.

Because Black Friday has grown to become a more economically viable, and thereby more important national holiday than Thanksgiving, the city adopted and transitioned the United States’ pardoning traditions from turkeys, to the literal meat market that is the overworked middle class.

Rather than waking up at 3 a.m. to work at Walmart and become inevitable recipients of verbal abuse for 12-hour shifts, Janet Dunfore and Ray Leefe were given a chance to spend Black Friday as far away from retail as practically possible.

“Last year I saw two elderly women wrestling over a hand massager while I was managing a Brookstone,” said Dunfore. “There are some things human beings just shouldn’t have to see.”

At the ceremony, Mayor Laurene Weste had the honor of pardoning the two lucky Walmart employees. Although both employees were pardoned, a poll was conducted by the city as to who they would elect to be pardoned, similar to the poll that the White House facilitated between their turkeys. Dunfore, who has been chosen for the past six pardons, was selected once again.

Weste deemed the contest a “fair and predictable election.”

“Because Dunfore is the longtime incumbent, it only makes sense that the public would choose him again,” said Weste. “I’m not saying he will be selected again next year, but let’s be honest – he will be.”

Always Advocating Alan – My Birthday, the DMV and Our Health Care

| Opinion | November 21, 2018

So here I am on Sunday, writing out a column for the Gazette on my birthday. There was a time when being 76 years old seemed a very long way off. Currently, I feel fortunate to just be healthy, almost wealthy, and somewhat wise. Today, I received birthday cards from my wife, birthday greetings on Facebook, my sons and their families (plus some friends) phone-singing their homespun renditions of “Happy Birthday,” and I had lunch with my mother and brother – and the day is not over yet.

But the oddest birthday greeting I received was three months ago from the DMV, reminding me my drivers license would expire on my birthday this year. You would think if they really wanted to wish me a happy birthday, they would have extended my license expiration date by a few months, but no, it came with a group of instructions to be followed, which did not seem like a happy greeting at all.

First, they decided that to renew my license, I was to come to their office, take a written test, get a new picture, and provide a new thumb print. Did they really think my thumb print had changed since the last time I visited their office? Next, if I wanted a “Real ID,” I needed to bring my birth certificate or a passport, a W-2 or 1099 with my full social security number on it, and a utility bill showing my name and address. First, why did they think I would even consider getting a fake ID? Yet, think about their logic. If I did not get a “Real ID,” I would not be able to use my driver’s license to fly commercially after 2020, and I would have to use a valid passport instead. Then why didn’t they just accept my current passport with my picture, certified by the feds, as proof I am me? Just another example of bureaucrats in action.
OK, I’ll admit, I procrastinated a little. Yet, with two months to go before my birthday, I got online to make an appointment in order to fulfill the DMV’s requests. But, to my surprise, the earliest appointment available at the Newhall office was almost one month after my birthday. No big deal, I thought, I’ll just check the offices in surrounding cities. When those offices did not show an appointment prior to my license expiring, I started checking DMV offices up the coast, until I finally queried Santa Maria, and was able to book an appointment on Monday, November 5, at 2:20 p.m., almost 150 miles away. The next instruction on my DMV birthday card, was for me to fill out a “Drivers License Renewal Application” online. Going to the DMV website, I soon became aware that in order to fill out the application form, I first had to establish a DMV user ID, password, provide answers to six security questions, and if the site did not like any of my inputs, the answer came back “ERROR” and required me to start all over.

Finally, after getting through the sign-in maze, I got to the renewal application, and when I clicked on it, up popped a message telling me I could not submit the application online and I should mail it instead. Of course, a link to the application form or the correct mailing address was not provided. At that point, I gave up and decided to just show up for my appointment. I’ll have to explain what happened when I got there. What could go wrong?

So, on November 5, at 8 a.m., Pam and I boarded our trusty Ford Escape for the trip out the 126, up the coast to Santa Barbra, over San Marcos Pass, north on Highway 1, to Santa Maria. We arrived early enough to stop for brunch, visit the Monolith Butterfly Park and finally arrived at the DMV office a little before 2 p.m. The parking lot was full, but as luck would have it, someone was leaving just as we arrived. I thought I was in trouble when I saw a large number of people sitting around outside, and when I entered the building, the waiting areas were full and the lines were long. Except for one line, this was titled, “appointments.”

I walked up and explained I was early for my 2:20 appointment. The DMV representative asked me if I had filled out an application online, and when I explained that the website would not let me, she said “it happens all the time,” and gave me a form to take to window 9. At that point, another DMV representative took my form and told me she would call me when a computer became available for me to put in my application. I only had to wait about 15 minutes when I was seated at a computer and filled out the application form, which provided me with a numerical code to give to the DMV representative. After that, things started to move quickly, and I was returned to the computer to take the automotive and motorcycle drivers test, which I passed.

Next it was on to another window where I turned in my “Real ID” information, gave a thumb print, and took the eye test. Since I had cataract surgery, which corrected my distance vision, and my previous license had a restriction requiring me to wear corrective lenses, I thought it would be a good idea to take the eye test without glasses and have the restriction removed. Making such an unusual decision caused at least three different DMV representatives to ask why I was wearing glasses if I did not need to. To which I replied, “I still need reading glasses, and using transition lenses eliminates the need for separate sun glasses.”

Then it was on to the next window for a picture, and yet another window to receive my temporary paper drivers license. I completed the process and was on my way a little before 3 p.m. While the process seemed cumbersome, the DMV staff members were all courteous, friendly and competent. Pam and I decided to spend the night in Pismo and made a little vacation out of it all.

Why I am telling this story, is to provide our readers a reminder about how governmental organizations seem to work. For example, local DMV offices are not provided the capacity to handle their required workload, and instead their customers must take the initiative to find a way around the problem. DMV staff members are not the issue. They were performing their assigned tasks as fast as they could. DMV offices not being able to process their area’s paperwork is a legislative and management responsibility, and in situations where we are forced to deal directly with the DMV, there is no compelling reason for them to improve. Which is precisely why I oppose a government takeover of health care. While not being able to book a local appointment in time to satisfy my need and having to drive to Santa Maria to renew my driver’s license was not a monumental inconvenience, a similar situation in obtaining medical services and appointments would not only be unacceptable, but possibly life-threatening.

The truth is that some activities are best handled by the government, while others best serve the public by operating in the private sector. Health care is one of those services best administered by practicing medical professionals, allowing decisions to be made which are in the best interest of their patients. It is something I learned when I was very young and will share my experience with you some time in the future, because without the aid of those medical professionals so long ago, I would not be celebrating my birthday today.

‘All Animals are Equal, but Some Animals are More Equal than Others’ George Orwell

| Opinion | November 21, 2018

by Stephen Smith

Our newly admitted, socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez claims that her new salary of $193,400 (not bad for an ex-bartender) is just not enough for her to afford the rent for an apartment in Washington D.C. or Virginia. She wants you to send her more money so she may live in the style she wishes to become accustomed. Moving from the proletariat to the ruling elite must have changed her claim that she wishes to serve the middle class to an expectation of her being served by the middle class. Talk about an entitlement program.

George Orwell in his allegorical fable on how socialism/Marxism works in reality entitled, “Animal Farm,” sums it up best. “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” In his short fable, Old Major (Marx), the old boar on the Manor Farm, summons the animals on the farm together for a meeting, during which he refers to humans (farmers and capitalist) as “enemies” and teaches the animals a revolutionary song called “Beasts of England.” There is an animal revolution where they cast off the tyranny of the farmer and decide to run the farm for the benefit of animals. They establish an animal bill of rights, which is publicly posted. The pigs (Stalin, Lenin etc.) appoint themselves as the ruling elite by using attack dogs as lethal weapons.

As time progresses, each of the posted rights disappear until only one left is “All animals are equal,” but with the addition of “but some animals are more equal than others.” In the end, the ruling elite pigs take over the role of being the tyrannical farmers, but only much worse. Any protests along the way were silenced by the attack dogs and the mob of sheep shouting down protests by chanting “Four legs good, two legs bad!” Chanting mobs, ruling elites who are above the law and vote themselves special status and benefits; that would never happen here in America, right? Oh, hi Bernie and Alexandria, “Socialism good, Capitalism bad, Socialism good, Capitalism bad!” Tucker Carlson’s house is over there. Stop the hate, stop the hate!

Are the policies that Bernie and Alexandria are advocating really Tyranny? Our founders and framers of the Constitution certainly would have viewed them that way. Bernie and Alexandria have a very different view of the nature of rights than our founders. They believe that government-provided healthcare and college education is a right with the services to be provided by the federal government.

“The words privilege and grace are not part of their vocabulary. That would remove the need for gratitude, acknowledgement of a higher power and free will. It’s part of a long list of what government must do for you. Since all government revenues are confiscated from the citizens’ pockets without their explicit consent, a more honest scenario might go like this; You want your precious child to get a check up and go to the University where he can learn the fairness of socialism and study Medieval Poetry. You have lacked foresight. You and your lazy son have not set aside any money to help pay for services and education, so you go next door to your Bachelor neighbor, pull out a gun, point it at him and say, “Little Johnny needs a checkup and is going to college, now pay up or else.” The Bachelor looks puzzled, and you continue, “It’s his right! Don’t you understand that as part of the collective, it is your responsibility to provide for my sons healthcare and education?”

“I know, … you must be a racist and Hitler … It’s my right to confiscate your money to pay for my wants and needs. Give me your money, it’s my right, the people democratically voted for it, it’s my right, it’s not fair, it’s just not fair.”

The Bachelor had learned of times before the coming of the pig Old Major (Marx), who eventually brought those who think like Bernie and Alexandria into power. Then our rights were about what the government may not do to the individual. The job of government was to protect us from the tyranny of the ruling elite as well as the tyranny of the majority. He remembered watching DVD’s teaching about how our Constitution was designed to enable us to live in liberty and protect the fruits of our labor. One DVD entitled “Constitution Alive” that he got from Wallbuilders.com inspired him to learn more about government as it was intended. This information regarding original intent has been banned from our public schools and universities for generations. His private studies inspired him to develop the tools he needed, to be a responsible member of society. He read there was a great demand in the technical welding field, so he enrolled in a technical welding class at the local 2-year college. The Bachelor is working just enough hours a week at the local Trader Joe’s to receive health insurance benefits and has flexible enough hours so he can continue his studies. He is self-supporting and proudly independent. He knows that if he applies himself and takes full advantage of his talents, with a little good luck, he will prosper and find happiness while supporting his family. He plans on helping the people in his community to be able to do the same. He just does not understand why he should provide for your son, since you are both vital and capable of taking care of yourselves.

The Bachelor refused to give you the money that you demanded. However, he did invite you into his modest apartment and share with you a viewing of the DVD course “Constitution Alive,” which opened his mind to the proper role of government. He knew that if he shared with you the same information he now has watched so many times, that you too might be inspired to embrace the true nature of our rights and what it means to be free and American.

“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” Thomas Jefferson, July 1776

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