Sunday, November 16, 2014

America's Booming Hispanic Population and Diversity That is Coming to America

I just saw Stephen Stephen L. Klineberg with Kambrell Khambrel Marshall on Houston TV's Local 2 talking about Hispanics in Houston. He presented EXCELLENT facts, as always.

(1) Houston is the Most Diverse city in America. Within 20 years the rest of America will look just like us.

(2) We have about 1.6 million Hispanics in the Houston area.

(3) The ones coming from Mexico have a LOWER education than white kids in U.S.

(4) Hispanics coming from South America and Cuba have a HIGHER education level than White Kids in Houston! (Didn't expect THAT did you?)

(5) Only 6% of Hispanic kids graduate from high school college ready. yet 7=87% of their parents WANT their kids to go to college (hence need for pre-K, etc.).

All of these facts bring me back to my Global American values blog post yesterday on the need for immigration reform. Let's be honest, Americans won't do the low end jobs so we should issue work permits.
My personal example: On NASA Parkway I saw a service station and a tire store being built. How many white Americans do you think were standing in the rain yesterday pouring cement? NONE...


Saturday, November 15, 2014

What America SHOULD Do in 2015 with Divided Government

It's official. The people have spoken for divided government.

So here is the next big question: WHAT should a Republican Congress and Democratic President do for Americans in 2015?

We need three things:

(1) FIX our BROKEN Immigration System.  Do you leave a broken car in your driveway? We don't have a functioning system.

(2) INVEST in American Infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc) which is falling apart. Doing so would create JOBS. AND, since doing infrastructure takes awhile to gin up, we should juice wages NOW by immediately RAISING the minimum wage to 1968 parity. I made $1.60 in 1968 - minimum wage. That is over $10 today in 1968 dollars. We should keep that parity.

(3) Make American Education No. 1 again so we can compete in a space age, global economy

The GOP Congress is sitting on an Immigration Bill. The Senate has passed one. The House just WON'T VOTE on its bill! Why? Because it would pass!  It's been sitting there for over two years. How long does a guy wait before a lifeline gets thrown?

If they don't pass one the President has NO CHOICE but to take Executive Action just as President Reagan and Bush have done in the past.  We have millions of people in limbo and that is not right.  Failure to act by Congress for YEARS on critical issues like this is administrative negligence that a sane President and the American people cannot allow. 

The GOP dominated Congress has also failed to invest in American infrastructure. Instead they spent over $1 trillion on Afghanistan and Iraq infrastructure. It was a poor investment. Meanwhile we have 60 year old bridges collapsing from old age, and nothing is being done.  While China builds new everything we don't even fix our old. It's short sightedness to the point of blindness. It's nuts. We are throwing away our lead.

American education has fallen far from No. 1 due to the same lack of investment and interest by leadership.  Texas is still over $3 billion short in its education funding, and is not investing for the growth of 70,000 new students coming every year.  It has no full day pre K school program which has been shown to make tremendous different in kids succeeding in school (even Mississippi is ahead of us on that!)

America as a whole has a SKILLS GAP--and people in denial about that as well.

We have over 2 million high tech jobs that Americans don't have the job skills to fill. These jobs pay over $70,000 a year. Other countries have people with those skills, which gets us back to item (1) since we have to bring in high tech workers as part of a comprehensive immigration reform bill until we can train up our people. I say we help Americans upgrade their skills for them to get these jobs! What say you?

This is what our divided government SHOULD be doing to advance American interests. We have to do this while dealing with the latest foreign nuisance -- be it ISIS, Ebola or a Russian President who has become the World Bully knocking over the furniture at the party.  God knows what else we will be dealing with tomorrow--it invariably changes. We can't ignore the world that will bite us again (like 9/11) if we don't pay attention.

Congress could easily pay for this by reforming the tax code so that companies like GE who make $40 billion don't pay ZERO taxes when hard working average Americans are paying their fair share.

A more detailed plan for making America No. 1 again is in Agenda for American Greatness 

Lets get moving!  We have fallen behind. The good news is that we do have the potential to lead the world again if we put our collective minds to it. This isn't a partisan needs. Its a national requirement to avoid losing our country's unique leading role in a dynamic world.

 It's up to each of us to pitch in. But Congress must start ACTING and earning its paycheck -or be fired!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Amsterdam Closes Pot Shops - The Day I Visited "The Grasshopper" coffee shop

Near the central rail station in Amsterdam is a huge place called the "Grasshopper." It is a coffee shop (at least it was there in 2002). On one floor they sold pot and coffee/soft drinks - NO alcohol allowed.

On a separate floor they sold alcohol. I tried both floors.
                                         The lit building in the center was the Grasshopper

On the pot floor a guy said to me: "push that button." I did. A machine lit up with a bunch of patches of different colored grass with different names i did not recognize - no Acapulco Gold or Panama Red. I had no idea what to say so I put down ten Euros, got a small bag and some coffee, rolled one -- and watched people. People sat around smoking, sipping coffee and having quiet conversations. I could have been in Starbucks back home.

Then I went up to the alcohol floor (separate entrance in the back.) As I approached the door, the walls were vibrating and thumping from loud music. As I reached the door a drunk guy came staggering out, followed by deafening noise from whatever was playing. He almost fell on top of me.

I didn't bother going in. I had already seen the difference.

Besides, I was investigating a million dollar fraud and wasn't done yet. I still had to go undercover to keep from being killed...

Oh yes, I just found out that they have closed the Grasshopper!

More details in my book:

Friday, November 7, 2014

What Turning 65 Has Shown Me About America's Medical Insurance

What Turning 65 Told Me About America’s Health Insurance System

I turn 65 in December which makes me eligible for Medicare for the first time.  The process has revealed a lot of reality to me about America’s health insurance system that Americans should be aware of now that a new Congress and Senate majority has been elected and there is renewed GOP talk of “repealing Obamacare.”  

Going on Medicare has shown me how crazy people are --or uninformed-- who want to go back to pre-Obamacare days. Here’s what I discovered what happens when you do get to government provided medical insurance aka Medicare versus the world for those Americans under 65.

For years I have been an entrepreneur who wasn't on a corporate health or group plan. After I was laid off in the 80’s from a corporate job that had health insurance, I lost my coverage and didn’t have health insurance for over a decade because the costs were so high and my income was so unpredictable up and down.  I would get a policy, the costs would go up, and it would lapse due to inability to pay.  I had to do without it. It was like playing Russian roulette with my future since a major illness would bankrupt me.  

Only when I founded a successful company that allowed me to make the substantial monthly payment did I finally renew my coverage. But it was extremely costly since I could not be considered as part of a group, not even as a member of the Texas Bar. At the end I was paying $840 a month for a policy with a $10,000 deductible – a terrible policy not good for much but a catastrophic illness or accident.

I passed up an Obamacare policy last year when the site was having computer problems. It was a big mistake.  After I elected to stay with United Healthcare, my rates jumped 30% in midyear from about $640 per month to $840 per month for just myself --for a medical policy with a $10,000 deductible! They said they could do it because it was not an Obamacare policy!  I had passed up Obamacare plans that would have been much lower and had a lower deductible.  If I wasn't going on Medicare I would definitely be getting one of them this year!  Also, as a result of Obamacare, the Texas State Bar can offer its individual lawyer members a group rate!

Before the Affordable Care Act, even with a high deductible, I could have been denied insurance for a pre-existing condition, or canceled after getting sick. In those dark days many people were denied insurance, or canceled, with devastating personal consequences. Do you really want to go back to a time when they could deny you insurance? Those days are over only because of the Affordable Care Act – unless repealed by the new Republican majority in the Senate that insists upon it.

Now that I am eligible for Medicare, my health premiums are a fraction of what I had to pay a private insurance company! I am now facing monthly premiums of around $266 to $413 a month including a prescription drug plan and supplement insurance with only a $1,000 deductible.

I may be able to do better than that - there is a bewildering array of supplemental plans to choose from and I am still sorting it out. I have international legal experience and even I find the choices and differences in plans a challenge. Some of the additional coverage offered is free! Some have a small fee of $147 a month, including prescription drug costs.  I don’t take any prescription drugs other than a cholesterol pill, but some people have large prescription needs and Medicare helps tremendously.

So the talk about “repealing” Obamacare by the new GOP majority should scare the hell out of anyone under 65 because you will be screwed if you can no longer keep your kid on your policy until they are 26 or you are denied insurance because of your pre-existing conditions (obesity, smoking, cancer, age or other reason to deny you insurance.)   

That is how it was before the Affordable Care Act required that everyone applying for insurance must be covered regardless of their condition. Do you really want to lose that protection as a consumer?

Ironically, America picked the party for control of the U.S. Senate that has been working solely for the top 1% who don't need these protections from insurance monopolies while the bottom 99% can’t even get a boost in minimum wage or health insurance unless they are 65 or on Medicaid.  

Think about it.  Be careful what you pray for. You might just get it – and screw yourself in the process Americans.  My experience with the private insurance policies and Medicare shows how vastly better it is with Obamacare. We should have "Medicare for all" so those under 65 can enjoy what I am about to with those Americans 65 and over. 

(P.S. We are the only OECD country that doesn't provide healthcare for all our citizens).

Stay tuned for developments by following this GlobalAmerican Values blog and Like us on Facebook.

Solutions?  Check out the free chapter on making America No. 1 again “Agenda for American Greatness” at the book link below:

Michael Fjetland

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Americans Just Voted In the Party That Created the Gridlock. Now what?

Ironically, American voters just voted into control of the U.S. Senate and House the exact party that created the gridlock that cost those voters their income. Ironic.

The party that created the crash of 2008 and the Great Recession afterward is now in charge again.  When President Obama took office, on his first day on the job they pledged to sabotage his every request. How patriotic, to fight the new Captain after you just wrecked the ship. They did. And have for six years.  

Despite all that, Obama has created over 10 million jobs since taking office. He dropped the unemployment rate to under 6%. He was unwinding bad wars. The economy and stock market have been humming. And that wasn’t good enough for the voters?  He inherited a wrecked economy and trillion dollar deficits, unpaid for wars and unpaid for tax cuts—and without help from the GOP had bought a disaster back into a brisk 3% growth rate.  

It was the GOP that refused to pass a Jobs Bill or Minimum Wage increase that would have made people feel better and do better.  Because of the GOP tax policy, the economic growth has gone to the top 1% instead of the lower income people, many of whom voted for the Republican candidates Tuesday. 

Ironic.  Now what? 

Now that they have “control,” where are their SOLUTIONS?  How will Governor Greg Abbott make Texas roads better while cutting revenues? How will Texas education go from No. 49 to No. 1 by shortchanging funding for education when the courts have held it unconstitutional? How does a state that is adding 80,000 new students a year help education by not increasing the funding required to teach those students and funding for infrastructure such as roads to satisfy that growth?

How will a U.S. GOP Senate create jobs when it refused to fully fund the traditionally bipartisan Transportation Bills that would have created millions of more jobs?

That is the question ahead. Can they be trusted to focus on addressing America’s failure to invest in our own country’s people and infrastructure instead of power politics? We’ll see.

Follow us on Global American Values for updates to this continuing saga …And SHARE. You can check out my Agenda for American Greatness to get America back to No. 1 again at this link