Fred's Blog Bucking-the-System-by-Fred-Lundgren
Fifteen Toxic Contributions to Insane Acts of Violence
Most of us assume that school massacres are increasing in frequency, in part, because our society embraces weapons of death equally in games, sports and war. This creates a false equivalence in the immature mind that can send confusing signals about acceptable conduct. It can also plant the seeds of violence in the diseased minds of people who are too often treated with prescription drugs that may further blur the line between fantasy and reality.

All responsible Americans, regardless of political stripe, are finally demanding answers for the root causes of insane behavior that leads to mass murders like the massacre in Newtown Connecticut. We all share the call to subdue America’s culture of violence but we refuse to end our love affair with guns.

Liberals are demanding gun control while conservatives argue that guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Until recently, both liberals and conservatives have avoided a serious discussion about our societies’ mental health. Hopefully, the Newtown Connecticut massacre will force the American public to confront the serious mental heath problems that are growing exponentially worse with each generation.    

Obviously, no person in their right mind will pick up a gun, kill their mother, and drive to a school to kill over two dozen more people. This insane behavior is occurring with shocking regularity but the phenomenon is not limited to America. In China, where individuals are not allowed to own guns, the attackers use knives and hammers. In others countries, attackers use everything from gasoline to bombs but regardless of the weapon, the common element is the deranged mind of the attacker.

So, what steps can be taken to curb the recent outbreak of mass murders that plague the modern world? It seems logical to confront America’s culture of violence in numerous ways. This neccessities  a discomforting amount of introspection by the federal government, by the pharmaceutical Industry, the medical community, the food industry, and certainly the political left and right. 

Let’s do some easy finger pointing at possible contributing factors…
(1)  Access to converted military assault weapons containing clips with 30 bullets masquerading as target pistols and Deer rifles…
(2)  Gun shows and private gun sales that place weapons in the wrong hands;
(3)  The myopic policies of the pro-gun lobby
(4)  The FDA's friendly relationship with the pharmaceutical lobby
(5)  The lack of consistent state gun laws
(6)  SSRI’s “Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors”, a class of over prescribed anti-depressants known as psychotropic drugs
(7)   Far too many infant baby vaccinations before the age 2
(8)   America's failure to isolate causes of autism spectrum disorders
(9)   The lack of parental access to long term, in-patient, psychiatric care 
(10) Too many heavy metals in the home environment and too many household cleansers
(11) Alcohol consumption during pregnancy
(12) Too many chemicals and hormones allowed in our foods by USDA
(13) The unknown consequences of consuming genetically modified foods
(14) The long term use of "Shoot First" video games by troubled youths
(15) Latch key children in broken homes under financial stress

Each of these toxic sub-categories are arguably contributing to the culture of violence in America. Perhaps these irrational acts of madmen are the end product, comprised of many components. Individually, each can be relatively harmless, but when combined, they create a mental bomb, waiting to explode.  
         
Fred Lundgren
ceo of KCAA Radio
It’s the season to unite, not divide

On Thanksgiving day, we hosted two dozen family members and friends ranging in age from three months to 91 years old.  We reveled in the peaceful character of the event. I was pleasantly surprised that our conservative guests avoided their post-election doomsday predictions. In turn, I avoided any mention of Todd Akin, Paul Ryan, Allen West, the Tea Party, and Mike Morrell, the California Republican Assemblyman who suggested government workers should be shot.     

Sadly, since President Obama was reelected, many harsh, irrational and even violent voices have surfaced on radio, television and the Internet. This is a wholesale rejection of our Presidential election process which ignores the founding principals of our republic. In addition, all this talk of secession and rebellion is an insult to those who fought and died on foreign soils to prevent violence from reaching our shores.

Soon, we will celebrate Christmas, and the renewal of hope the season symbolizes. This is a perfect time to embrace the unifying principal of American strength through diversity and ignore the political relics and radicals who attempt to divide us.

Fred Lundgren,
ceo of KCAA Radio
The President should take advice from the working wounded

President Obama should appoint a new Citizen’s Economic Advisory Board comprised of liaisons from the working wounded and take less advice from the "upper crust". According to NBC.com, the President’s first term advisors were led by former Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volcker and staff director Austan Goolsbee.  The committee was comprised primarily of people who were not personally impacted by the great recession. Let’s review the list.

William H. Donaldson, SEC Chair, 2003-05; Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., president and CEO, TIAA-CREF; Robert Wolf, chairman and CEO, UBS; David F. Swensen, CIO, Yale University; Mark T. Gallogly, founder and managing partner, Centerbridge Partners L.P.; Penny Pritzker, chairwoman, Pritzker Realty Group; Jeffrey R. Immelt, CEO, GE (parent company of NBC News); John Doerr, partner at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers; Jim Owens, chairman and CEO, Caterpillar Inc.; Monica C. Lozano, publisher & chief executive officer, La Opinion; Charles E. Phillips, Jr., president, Oracle; Anna Burger, chairwoman, Change to Win; Richard L. Trumka, secretary-treasurer, AFL-CIO; Laura D'Andrea Tyson, Dean, Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley; Martin Feldstein, professor of Economics, Harvard. 

A similar crowd has been trotting in and out of the White House this week to weigh in on tax cuts and entitlement reform when 2/3 of the American population is living paycheck to paycheck. Of these, 49 million live in poverty and 16.2 million of that 49 million are children. Instead of facing this ongoing American tragedy, Congress and their powerful allies in business and academia debate the upper level tax rate. Give me a break!

Too often, the rich and powerful insulate our Presidents from the pain and suffering which results from unemployment or under-employment.  Their privileged lifestyle devalues their advice.  This is evident in the discussion about tax cuts for the wealthy which have no impact on the vast majority of Americans. The continuous flow of their irrelevant advice to our President is contributing to America’s slow recovery. 

Therefore, as the President begins his second term, we should pressure him to reach out for advice beyond the wealthy and privileged, and to seek counsel from a real citizen's committee comprised of Americans who live and labor among that 2/3 of the population who live paycheck to paycheck, because the advice he is receiving from the “job creators” leaves too much to be desired. 

Fred Lundgren,
ceo of KCAA Radio
Is modern Globalism a zero sum game? 

The US economy can’t recover from the structural unemployment that began a generation ago without major changes to the economic policies that eventually drove our economy into a ditch. 

For too long, the blind guides of economic theory who populate our universities and government offices have promoted the absurd idea that America could prosper as a service economy while multi national companies built factories wherever they found the cheapest labor.  

The American economy has been riding on this run-away train to globalism since Richard Nixon made his first trip to China. American trade policy allows almost any country to export their unemployment to the United States with impunity.

Former President Clinton says it will all work out over the long term as the world make everything faster, cheaper and better, but his concept of progress does not address the necessity to share the rewards for additional worker productivity.

Is modern globalism a zero sum game that removes living wage jobs from one country and only recreates them in countries where labor is cheaper, or is the former President correct? A helicopter view of our changing world suggests that most of the benefits of globalism are resting in the pockets of the multi-national “job creators”. 

Sometimes, it’s difficult to remain optimistic.

Fred Lundgren,
ceo of KCAA Radio
Alternatives to the Central Bank

This year, America’s Gross Domestic Product, which is the annual market value of our nation's output of goods and services is languishing at around 15.7 Trillion Dollars at a time when the GDP needs to total 22 trillion dollars in order to sustain full employment. This slow growth pattern has been designed into every American trade agreement since the implementation of NAFTA because each of these agreements encouraged globalism.

The American economy can’t sustain a 7 Trillion Dollar annual GDP gap by borrowing money from foreign governments or by creating debt instruments funded by the Federal Reserve.

While the rush to globalism is underway, America should explore alternatives to expand the economy without expanding the burden of interest and debt.  One solution is to use the Treasury Department’s authority to expand the economy with a healthy infusion of non interest bearing United States Notes. 

United States Notes are simply US dollars that are issued into circulation by the Treasury Department at zero interest instead of being borrowed into circulation from the sale of US backed securities purchased by the Federal Reserve or foreign governments at interest.   

These United States Notes should be spent directly into circulation by state and local governments in all 50 states. Then, Congress must force the Federal Reserve to raise the cash reserves of all its member banks while simultaneously raising the down-payment percentages on new bank loans.  This will prevent the new debt free funds from causing additional inflation.  To control long term inflation without manipulating interest rates, Congress should use its authority to tax surplus money back into the Treasury to reduce the budget deficit and eventually BALANCE THE FEDERAL BUDGET. 

Henry Ford said, "It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning".

Fred Lundgren,
ceo of KCAA Radio
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"For the study of political economy, you need no special knowledge, no extensive library, no costly laboratory.  You do not even need textbooks nor teachers, if you but think for yourselves"
Henry George 1877
Bucking the System
By Fred Lundgren
Fred's Blogs
Chill out, it’s Christmas time

Since President Obama was reelected, a variety of harsh, irrational and even violent voices have surfaced on radio, television and the Internet. This behavior reflects a rejection of America’s democratic principals. Threatening violence or secession after an election is an insult to those who fought and died on foreign soils to prevent violence from reaching our own shores.

All Americans, regardless of personal agenda, should be grateful to live in a country where political, religious and ideological differences can be resolved with intelligent debate or votes, rather than guns and bombs.

A timeless argument can be found in the book, “Adventures of a Bystander” (Harper and Rowe, 1978) written by the late Peter Drucker. Drucker quotes the late Pastor J. E. Rydback of the Lutheran Church of Minneapolis, who voiced the following admonition to his congregation on December 7th 1941, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

Let us remember that the forebears of everyone here came to this country to get away from the incessant wars, the insane hatreds, and the sinful pride of other nations. Let us remember that the forebears of everyone here hacked a farm out of the howling wilderness amid blizzards in the winter and sandstorms in the summer, so as to live as free men and women, innocent of the wickedness and folly of national honor and tyranny of government disguised as military glory. Let us remember that the forebears of every one of us came to build a new nation subservient to laws rather than to men. Let us pray that this cup will pass us by and that America will remain the last best hope, and not succumb to being just another entry in the long and vain list of empires”.

Let’s remember Pastor Rydback’s message as we celebrate the renewal of hope that Christmas symbolizes. Let’s dial down the rhetoric and ignore those who attempt to divide us with their unfocused hate and bigotry. Most importantly, let’s continue to marginalize the political relics who constantly push America toward another war.

Fred Lundgren,
ceo of KCAA Radio
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The Myth of Social Security Insolvency
To set the stage for this inquiry, it's appropriate to borrow from Professor Walter Burkert, an expert on mythology and emeritus professor of The University of Zurich.  Professor Burkert concludes,
"Myth is a traditional tale with a secondary, partial reference to something of collective importance".

If you watch cable news or follow Congress, you are undoubtedly saturated with so many myths about social security that you probably don't know what to believe. 
Unless we act, Social Security reform could easily fall victim to the most conservative mythmakers in Congress. 

We must determine if Social Security faces a system-wide breakdown, or if it's falling victim to a deliberate campaign of misrepresentations.  

Unfortunately, the national media never seems to get into the details, so this research becomes necessary.

For the facts, let's turn to "NASI", the "National Association of Social Insurance". This is a non-profit research group that analyzes the findings of the Annual Social Security Trustees report. From their analysis, we should be able to ascertain if the Social Security system is becoming insolvent.
Here is a conclusive quote from NASI... 

"The 2012 Trustees Report shows that Social Security is 100 percent solvent until 2033, but faces a moderate long-term shortfall.    In 2011, Social Security had a surplus - revenue plus interest income in excess of outgo - of $69 billion. Reserves are projected to grow to $3.2 trillion by the end of 2020. Then, if Congress takes no action in the meantime, reserves would start to be drawn down to pay benefits." 

Why have these facts been ignored by Congress and the national media? 
NASI continues...

"Since 1935, the Social Security Program has collected $15.5 trillion and paid out $12.8 trillion, leaving a balance of over $2.7 trillion in the trust funds at the end of 2012"

The 2011 to 2012 increase was 64.5 billion dollars.  The 2012 to 2013 increase was 86 billion dollars.
See Historical Data... 

Here's more from NASI...

"The $2.7 trillion is invested in U.S. Treasury bonds.  In financial markets, Treasury bonds are considered an extremely safe investment because they are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States." 
See NASI video...

Wow... I'm sure these facts will be a real buzz kill around right wing think tanks who feign concern about insolvency.

A reasoned analysis, such as the one published by NASI, clearly points to the year 2020 as the turning point when the Social Security system begins to draw down its reserves. This begs the question, what is changing in America that will cause reserves to decline?

The answer has been celebrated in board rooms for years, especially by recipients of "corporate welfare" who earn profits and bonuses from the labor of minimum wage earners. 

The old adage that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer is no longer a cliché, it has become America's economic record since the 1970s.

This wealth and earning gap necessitates changes in the way Social Security taxes are imposed. 
Currently, wages above $113,700.00 annually are not burdened by Social Security taxes. This "cap" takes us to the crux of the problem.

Social Security needs to tax at least 90% of all wages in America, but because the rich are getting richer and the middle class is stagnating, too much tax exempt wage gains are going to earners who make more than 113,700.00 a year. As a result, only 80% of all wages are now subject to Social Security taxes.
See table on maximum taxable earnings...

According to NASI, the decline has occurred because those at the top of the economic ladder who make more than the 113k a year have enjoyed more rapid earnings growth than those who make less than the 113k a year.
To insure the viability of Social Security, we simply need to eliminate the cap and do some modest means testing for top earners.  These changes can insure solvency for another 75 years.

The Congressional Research Service leaves no stone un-turned.  See...
The findings of the CRS can be summed up with the following simple Graph. 






















The answer is a policy between HERE and  HERE.
This keeps the fund above the break even level out to the year 2086 which is shown as 0.00  The graph was published in The Washington Post in 2010 but the story got little attention.  The data concerning Social Security is inviolate.  Removing the cap is essential. This will require the top 6% of wage earners to pay the same percentage of social security taxes as all the rest of us. 

We should think of Social Security as an insurance policy that protects all of us from abject poverty. It is morally wrong for the rich to use their power over Congress to "opt out". These are the people who have benefited the most from capitalism so they should certainly pay their share of social insurance.

Obviously, the "need" to cut Social Security in order to reform it is pure myth. We have enough compelling arguments to embarrass the mythmakers into civility and compromise but instead, we should expect very little civility and absolutely no compromise. They will give no quarter when threatened by additional Social Security taxes. Regardless, we must stand against their selfish demands  for cuts and reductions to the only programs that prevent homelessness and hunger for millions of Americans. 

Americans have fallen victim to too many destructive myths in recent history.  We can no longer afford to fall prey to such subterfuge.   

Don't expect any help from the pundits of nationally syndicated radio and the big cable news networks.  Most of these people "earn" far in excess of the cap while the top ranked talking heads of Radio and TV make tens of millions. These people, like most of those we elect to Congress, will never voice support for lifting the cap because it will raise THEIR taxes. This could be why we hear cut, cut, cut, and almost nothing else.

The best way to win this battle is to put these facts in front of the American people at the grass roots level and turn them loose on Congress and the national media.

Don't worry about taxing top wage earners.  They have plenty of money to pay their fair share of social security taxes.

It is time for all top wage earners and all the other Social Security mythmakers to put away their bad ideas and silence their propaganda for the REAL good of America.

Fred Lundgren
ceo of KCAA Radio
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Will Your Driver's License Be Suspended by a Flawed Computer Program?

The question in this headline reads like a conspiracy theory from an anti-government group, but 
au contraire.  It's true and it happened to my daughter.  According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, or "DPS," it can even land law-abiding citizens in jail.  Could it happen in your state?  Could it happen to you?  I'll report and you can decide.

On Wednesday, March 20, 2013, my wife received a call from our automobile insurance carrier warning us that our daughter's license had been suspended and they were unable to include her on our renewal policy.  The agent admonished us to prevent her from driving any vehicle they insured. 

Brianna is our youngest daughter. She is a 25-year-old mature and responsible person.  She's an accomplished artist who lives with us and cares for us due to our chronic health issues.

"Bri" manages the house.  She does the shopping, the cooking and the banking.  Suddenly, we are told she can't drive a car and she never even received a notice of license suspension!

My wife was in disbelief. My response was to repeatedly recite all seven words I can't say on the radio with varied inflections and combinations.  I reassured Bri that we could "fix it" but my confidence was tempered by a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  What if a traffic ticket had been overlooked?  Had Bri been caught running a red light by one of those surveillance cameras?

To learn more, we went to the Texas Department of Transportation website and found our way into the belly of the beast. Once inside, we discovered this page.

http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/DriverLicense/driverrecords.htm

After a few more minutes of exploration, we arrived here

https://txapps.texas.gov/tolapp/txldrcdr/TXDPSLicenseeManager

This eventually led us to a page that required an "audit number," which was hidden on the driver's license in print too tiny for anyone over age 50 to see.

We finally logged into a "secure server" where a $4.50 ransom was demanded for the release of her driving records. 

This exaggerated level of security reminded me of visits to the Emergency Management offices under the Department of Public Safety headquarters in Austin where I represented the Department of Agriculture at disaster preparedness meetings. 

The frustration we felt while navigating the DPS website could be compared to that of two African Americans looking for their voting precinct in a "red" county... but I digress.

Brianna was almost ready to accept a plea bargain and do her time when WALLA, her record miraculously appeared in all its official-dumb. NOT ELIGIBLE  it proclaimed, after playing hide and seek with us for 30 minutes while forcing us to read instructions that sounded a bit like a police interrogation,

See for yourself...

Here...

So, what's a father to do in this situation? Well, I called them and raised all kinds of hell of course!

My call landed at the desk of a young man who was highly schooled in the art of obfuscation. I introduced our issue without editorial and handed the phone to Brianna.  She was cordial but insistent with her demand for immediate remediation. The DPS agent reviewed her record and then placed her on hold while he talked with his supervisor. He returned to say they had made a mistake. He blamed it on computer software.  In less time than it took to find the original records, a totally different driving record was miraculously generated.

See for yourself...

Here...

Suddenly, my daughter was "ELIGIBLE".  I was awestruck at the efficiency of State law enforcement. I signaled my daughter to save both versions of her record before the "NOT ELIGIBLE" version disappeared. I learned about the importance of protecting evidence by watching reruns of "Boston Legal" …Denny Crane!

Brianna captured the offending document with the efficiency of Bill Murray's character in GhostBusters.  Then it was my turn. She handed the phone back to me and I began to ask some questions that were reminiscent of the late Mike Wallace.

I asked how often this happens.  "Just the facts" I insisted. The young agent was non-apologetic. He attempted to rationalize the error by saying it only happens in 1 out of 10,000 cases and possibly only 1 in 30,000 cases. I "pressed" him further. There are approximately 13.5 million licensed drivers in Texas. Using these statistics, somewhere between 450 and 1350 licensed drivers have fallen prey or will fall prey to this abuse.

I was fascinated to learn that the DPS didn't track the number of invalid tickets, penalties and illicit arrests and incarcerations they were causing.

The agent seemed unmoved by my concerns. However, after listening to my protests, he agreed that a warning letter COULD be sent to any licensed driver who gets their license "suspended" in this manner. He agreed to bring the idea to a supervisor but he made no guarantees.

A larger issue looms around this sorry episode. Had my daughter had been stopped by a police officer after her license was wrongly suspended, she might have been arrested, incarcerated and seen her automobile impounded. The ordeal could have cost thousands of dollars to fight.

Have you ever tried to expunge a criminal record?  GOOD LUCK! You will need a good lawyer and pockets of money to start the process. Many employers won't even hire a person with a "record" but the Texas Department of Public Safety representative didn't seem to care.  He was only interested in treating the wrongful suspension as an isolated indecent and defending the status quo.  

There is a lesson to be learned here. This can happen anywhere in America!

IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!

My daughter was lucky. HOW IS YOUR LUCK? 
.
I strongly urge everyone to get updated driving records from your state law enforcement headquarters or at least get a fresh copy of your driving record from your insurance agent. It's the best insurance we can have against an increasingly Orwellian-like law enforcement culture.

Today, my daughter is "ELIGIBLE" to drive again.

Are you?

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