Sunday, April 23, 2017

Agenda for American Greatness - 2017. Model for Democrats

Updated. From the chapter in "Better Times Ahead: April Fool" by Michael Fjetland, BBA/JD

                         Chapter 9:  American Agenda for Greatness -
                                       Trump Won't Get Us There. This Will.

So, are we looking at "Better Times Ahead?" or "April Fool?" in the days ahead?

There is wisdom in Proverbs 29: 18: "Where there is no vision, the people perish.”   

Will Trumps plans "make America Great" again?  As one who has negotiated globally for both Fortune 500 and small companies (as described in Better times ahead april fool), and as someone who has been a small business owner and a Congress candidate, the answer is clear. NO. Trump's ideas will not only not work; they will destroy the U.S. more than any number of terrorist attacks ever could.  In fact, his election was the dream of ISIS, but that we'll address later.

The challenge to America today is that people in other countries are acquiring skills that are equal or exceed our own workers. I personally have seen the world wide economic changes the past 30 years.  When I started going to China in 1982, they had nothing but poor people making $30 a month.  Thirty years later I returned to ride the fastest train in the world - a MagLev that floats on magnets and doesn't even touch steel.  India in the late 70's and early 80's was a miserable place to go to. Now India is one of the fastest growing countries in the world. But that's not all.

We now have over 2 million U.S. high-tech jobs that Americans don't have the skills to fill! However, Chinese workers and those in India do have those skills. So, either American acquire those skills or the jobs will go to those who do... Democrats believe in retraining workers and educating them for the inescapable high tech global economy we now live in.  The GOP has wasted trillions on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while letting our education system starve to death and our 50 year old bridges and pipes collapse around us.

Another way of seeing this: the skills need to assemble a car or dig coal are so simple any worker from Mexico to Nigeria to China can perform just as efficiently as an American, and do it for less money.  Gone are the days a semi-skilled worker can demand $25 an hour to put bumpers on cars-- someone in Mexico will do it for $10 a day which they can live on. But even those unskilled workers are facing the day when they will be replaced by robots doing that work as they now perform routine tasks like spot welding in an auto assembly line. And the robots never complain or call in sick or take a smoke break! Only the highly skilled will do well in this new future we face.

Those assembly skills are not good enough run a computerized machine tool which would pay a worker $70,000 or more. That is where our future is: it's not competing for jobs offering the lowest wages, but for the highest skills for the highest wages.  Don't expect mining jobs to come back when it was low-cost natural gas that killed coal --not to mention the negative impact on our environment (China's air is now BLACK from burning coal--yet they are now the world leader in building out clean, renewable energy because their air is killing them and they see that industry as the future.) 

If you are someone living in Ohio or the "rust belt" your future is not returning to the days of working in a dangerous, hot steel mill pounding steel. It's in writing software code for this high tech economy we now live in, or flying drones that do aerial surveys of pipelines and will be soon delivering pizzas.  If you were making buggy whips when the car came along, you either changed jobs or bite the dust. It is the same today. CHANGE is the one constant in this world. Nothing ever remains the same. We either adapt or die.

I lived this in the 80's when a Fortune 500 company I worked for had a division that made simple hand tools, like screw drivers and wrenches.  However, the imports of the same tools sold for less than our cost to make them here. So the company sold that division to businesses in Asia (they should have set up a joint venture to continue receiving half the profits instead of none, but that is a strategic discussion for another day.)

Then they focused on more high-end products, like the "electrostatic precipitators" --basically a multi-story steel box they shoot electricity through to knock the dust out of the exhaust of coal-fired electric plants, a technology which took me to China as a solution for their coal fired power plants in the early 80's. That is when I got to see the beginning of the "Chinese miracle" going from a nation of nothing to a superpower of know how in 30 years. Their economy is about to be No. 1 in the world, passing us. India will be No. 3.  Everyone else is an afterthought.

The true test of character and success is someone who, starting without possessions or riches, uses his or her brain and ingenuity to succeed.  America did that for over 200 years; China has done that in the last three decades. Now, in this global economy, the country that leads in technical knowhow and has the population with the most education and skills will be the winner.

Studies show that every low wage, low skill country has seen its jobs migrate to a lower wage country. Even China is now losing jobs to places like Vietnam because their labor costs are lower.

America's future must be in the opposite direction and we have plenty of role models. Steve Jobs (Apple), Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX) were poor entrepreneurs when they started their innovative companies that grew into billion dollar enterprises, unlike Mr. Trump, who inherited millions and generated wealth by not paying the small contractors who sold to his casinos and by using special interest tax years to avoid paying personal income taxes for decades. Anyone can succeed with that kind of stake--a million dollars at 10% interest is $100,000 a year, no sweat. That's more than most people make at manual labor. 

A person starting out with millions has no idea what it is like being poor or broke; they know nothing of the pain in choosing between paying the rent or buying food, having a medical emergency they don't have insurance to cover or having the power cut off. Pick someone who knows that pain of being poor as your president, someone from the 99% who does know what it is like to start humble and get the education and experience needed to succeed. 

Picking a spoiled rich kid who has a need to belittle people has insulted even our closest allies with his ignorance (declaring "Korea was once a part of China" for example), a man who has cheated on wives and taxes his entire life has no clue how to make America great.

As I had to do when my "Better Times Ahead"  boom turned to "April Fool" bust, America has to re-invent itself in order to avoid losing its edge.

Here is where we are in 2016:

America has pulled out of the Great Recession that started in 2008. After reaching a peak of 9.9% in 2010, unemployment under Obama fell to under 5%, despite little help from a GOP Congress that refused to pass jobs bills, retraining and infrastructure spending proposed by President Obama that would have created millions more jobs.

In fact, Mitch McConnell, GOP leader of the U.S. Senate, admitted publicly “We want to make him a one term president.” They did it in order to claim he wasn’t doing his job so they could win future elections. They weren't putting American jobs and workers first. 

That hasn't changed. In 2016 the GOP Senate continues to refuse to work with the president or even hold hearings or an up-or-down vote on his U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Mr. Garland, and hundreds of other nominees. That's like poking sticks into the wheels of government instead of finding bipartisan solutions on behalf of the American people. The GOP majority House still can't even pass a budget! Even with a majority in the House and Senate they couldn't even repeal Obamacare!  What a bunch of jokers.

As a result, we still have millions of people without the skills to fill high tech jobs open in America today, so they are struggling on minimum wage or not-much-better, working multiple jobs while Congress shows up only 111 days out of 365 and fails to do anything to create jobs or raise the minimum wage that hasn't changed in decades.

I made minimum wage of $1.60 an hour as a high school senior in 1968; that would be over $10 an hour today if it was adjusted for inflation. Congress should do that now.  Even $10 is not enough but it is a start.

Today there are more renewable energy jobs in just California alone than all employment in the entire coal industry.  Coal is a dying industry just as the carriage makers at the turn of the last century became a dying industry when the automobile was invented. Obama didn't kill coal--as I said before, natural gas did!   Right now solar and wind energy employes more people than coal!  Think about that. Coal can't compete any more than the horse could compete with the car.  If you want to be unemployed, stick with being a carriage maker in a car world--or an oil patch job instead of a solar or wind farm job! (I was one of those oil patch employees who found that out a couple boom-and-bust cycles ago when I lost it all, described in "Better Times Ahead April Fool").

Your job can't be saved by rejecting the new technology, only by adopting it.  When the computer came along we either learned to operate it or became technological cavemen with no connection to the new world.

                                   We Can’t Win the Future Doing the "Same o, Same o"

Our national strategy should be upgrading our skills as Hillary Clinton called for in her campaign --and our infrastructure-- so we can lift all boats, both low skilled and high skilled people. That should be a national priority as vital as the Marshal Plan was to rebuilding Europe after World War II. 

Only by upgrading our skills will we avoid that black hole and upgrade income. Only by embarking on massive infrastructure replacement of our rusted-out, rusted-out bridges and roads can we also employ the low skilled and give the economy some rocket fuel that would also put us in a competitive position with China, which is about to become the No. 1 economy in the world. Our competition in the 21st century will be China and India, countries I saw and wrote about in "Better Times Ahead April Fool."

On the campaign trail we are hearing two different visions for America. Which one is the vision needed by our people not to perish? Which is a true vision, and which is pure fantasy or pixie dust, or just plain Bullshit?

One vision is that we invest in America and its people, its education and skill levels, to retrain people and invest in the infrastructure that we depend on that is now over a half century old and falling apart. Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton wanted to address these issues as well as income inequality and tax reforms that give special breaks to the rich and nothing to anyone else. Why build roads in Afghanistan but not new pipes in all of the Flint Michigan's in the USA?

The other vision, offered by Mr. Trump, is the "Ugly American" one of overt racism, sexism and fear that blames economic stagnation on people of color and immigration instead of poor education, lack of training and skills. He is like the boss from hell who causes chaos then blames you for his foul ups. His plan promotes tax policies that have stripped wealth from the middle class to redistribute wealth to the top one percent--people like him. He says people from Mexico are "rapists" and "assumes" some are good people. He has called woman "fat pigs" and accused Hillary Clinton of playing "the woman card" since obviously women must be happy to get paid 77 cents for doing the same job a man gets paid $1 for, right? Not. 

"I will bring jobs" is all talk, not a plan; its bullshit.

Voodoo economics is back. Mr. Trump has called for a 45% tariff on imported goods from China. Such a tariff would increase the cost of consumer goods like his shirts "made in China" overnight by 45%--a $100 shirt would suddenly cost $145!  Mr. Trump’s tax plan would cut taxes on the rich and generate an additional $20 Trillion in the federal deficit (Hillary Clinton’s would increase the debt only $1 Trillion).

Our economic situation has been made worse by an obstructionist Congress that slows growth when it shows up only 111 days a year to collect a full time paycheck, yet refuses to do its job passing timely budgets, appointing judges and adopting the traditionally bipartisan transportation bills.  Politics now calls for the GOP to refuse to even hold hearings or vote on court nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court as required by the Constitution they swore to uphold. Never in 240 years of our history has that happened--never!  It's sabotage of democracy.

Can we reach the next level up and create millions of jobs when we have 58,000 bridges old enough to qualify for social security and are near collapse; yet Congress refuses to invest in their replacement, which would create tens of thousands of new JOBS and safer roads for our people?  

How do we succeed if our kids in countless places like Flint Michigan with aging water pipes are exposed to brain-damaging lead poisoning from 50 year old pipes? Why can't we undertake a "Marshal Plan" to replace them with new ones, which would also create tens of thousands of NEW jobs?  

That is what I heard Hillary Clinton saying  in her campaign -- she favors a major investment in American infrastructure, retraining and education that will create jobs for those on the edge and the training needed for America to lead in the global high tech economy as well.

I hear Donald Trump saying "let’s put coal miners to work" which ignores the fact that natural gas competition is what is putting coal out of work -- if their unsafe mine doesn’t kill them first.  He does talk about infrastructure but then proposes a tax cut that would eliminate any possible funding for it. It's voodoo nonsense.

The first part of this chapter shows how we got into our current situation; the last part is an economic  road-map for America to succeed as more countries accelerate their education and technology skills to match or exceed our own. 

It's based on my experience negotiating for decades on behalf of American companies (large and small) to sell American products worldwide--products made here in America which creates jobs right here in America.  I rode strapped in to the saddle on countless global flights. That experience gave me unique insight how America stacks up in the world, seen over the last 30 years (which exceeds that of any candidate for President save one.)  

Trump himself is reported to have used un-documented workers on his projects and Chinese steel on his latest hotel. He has not practiced what he peaches.  His "Buy American" is a cruel joke when his companies he still controls buy all their products from 12 different companies. The Keystone Pipeline is being built with Russian steel! We have to prepare his supporters and people with limited skills for the jobs of tomorrow, not the jobs of yesterday. That will take education and training, something they sorely need when they believe his phony claims.

The Great Depression was made worse by trade wars and tariff increases like the ones proposed by Mr. Trump. It took FDR's "New Deal" programs to pull us out of the economic black hole it put us in during the 30's.  This is what has been happening since 2000.

In 2000, America was No. 1 in education. By 2008, America had fallen to No. 17 in the world in education, depending on whose calculation you use. Obviously, the trend was in the wrong direction. OECD ranking in 2013 put our students at No. 36!  Then in 2007, the economy fell off the cliff, leaving President Obama with a $1.3 Trillion deficit his first day on the job, which industries near collapse from Wall Street to Detroit's auto plants.

Without a willing partner in Congress, he was able to stabilize the economy, and unemployment has dropped to about 5%. But the lack of Congress action has left the folks in places like Ohio and the rust belt wondering "is that all there is?" when it fact a Democratic Congress would have taken action to give them a hand up.

It matters because we aren't just competing with ourselves on an island. We are already seeing the rise of China and India – the rise of ASIA that will make it a focus of the 21st century.  They will also competing with us for limited fossil fuels as China alone adds more than 170 million more cars the next five years! 

Many Americans may not be aware of this and the status of our global competition because of a simple fact: Only one in five Americans has a passport!  That means that they haven’t traveled internationally. That means eighty percent of Americans have little idea what the world is really like.   

That lack of exposure to reality of other global neighbors can lead to dangerous assumptions by our citizens, and our Congress representatives, that can lead to disastrous results – like the invasion of Iraq. 

I know because of one reason. I left a  farm. Got a law degree, and found myself flying the world negotiating deals. That turned into being a 911 terrorism analyst on TV in Houston warning against an invasion of Iraq because I had been in the Middle East and knew what was going on. Anyone who had not been involved would have made assumptions that proved to be false - like the Iraqis would welcome our invasion. Unfortunately, Congress was given bogus information on Saddam's alleged WMD program, which turned out not to exist (unless you are a Fox News viewer and still think the world is flat and WMD's were 'found'.)


I repeat: the economic winner in this 21st century will not be the country with the biggest military, but the country with the best educated people creating the best technologies with a skilled workforce that leads the world. It’s a techno-global race we can’t afford to lose, but we are fumbling the ball away.  (Having 12 aircraft carriers won't help if each can be blown out of the water by one cruise missile in a pissing contest with Iran or North Korea.)

This will be difficult (but not impossible) because the average age of American schools is 40 years!  Texas, for example, cut billions from its education budget and now ranks towards the bottom of the U.S.  We have the highest rates of uninsured; the highest drop out rates. None of this will position Texas for competing in a high tech world. We got in this situation because the GOP controls our government.

The lack of education impacts our democracy.  Of the 172 democracies in the world, the United States ranks 139th in voter participation. In the French election just held in 2017 the turnout was 59%!  Barely a third of Americans can name the three branches of government. More than half of college seniors recently flunked a civic literacy exam. And in half of US states, civics education isn’t even required in high school. Texas has revised its history textbooks to mask the truth about slavery and to proclaim “Moses” as a major influence on the founders of America., that slaves were "workers" and the Texas Board of Education was considering a book on Hispanics that portrayed them as "lazy" --sounding much like Donald Trump. 

Life expectancy at birth for American men was 75.6 years and 80.8 for women in 2007― 36th and 33rd in the world! In Texas, 25% of our residents do not have health insurance, the worst rankings in the U.S.  The U.S. is the only developed nation in the world that does not provide healthcare as a citizen's right.  Since when should medical care to save a life only be a privilege and not a right?

Our infrastructure is No. 23. Meanwhile, China will have a new Space Station in orbit in 2020 when ours is due to be retired and dumped into the ocean in 2024. China has the world’s first “MagLev” train that runs over 260 miles per hour from the Shanghai airport to the city--I rode it and not even a glass of water would have spilled during the process.  Magnetic Levitation is when magnets cause the train to hover over the track, avoiding the friction of steel rails and the prospect of running a high-speed train off steel rails warped in a summer’s heat or winter’s ice.) 

So, what about the REST of the world’s trains? Surely we beat or match them right? See the photo below on how we compare.

As of 2013 China is the largest car market in the WORLD. It will add another 170 million more car the next 5 years! All competing for the same gasoline we are -- a scarce resource which costs $6 gallon in China and $8 in Europe. Feel better? Americans don’t know how cheap gas has been for us versus other people, but it is a finite resource and it will run out.  If we do use it all up, our planet will continue overheating into a mini-Venus as our high temperatures are becoming startling--one place in the Middle East recently posted a 165 degree day! Life can't exist in those temperatures for long. 

China is our No. 1 competitor for the future - their students just scored No. 1 on the OECD test for science and math. The USA score: 39!  Our GOP leaders are the only conservatives in the entire world who do not believe in climate change, or science!  Failure to recognize facts is dangerous for a country's survival.

 “Are we looking at Better Times Ahead for America?” Or are we “April fooling” ourselves? That depends on us as Americans, individually and as a nation. 

After I was laid off during the great Texas oil bust in the 80’s (the one before the latest oil bust), I had to re-invent myself several times after losing my globe-trotting job. My Better Times had become April Fool. It was tough. I resisted the change but when I made changes it all worked out, even better once I acted.  Even with a successful company, I still find it true that changes continue to be necessary to continue to thrive.  Change is a constant in life.

America will have to do the same to prosper in the complex, unpredictable times that we live in, a world where strange names like ISIS and Ebola have made an impact on our lives. Others like it will arise in the future and intrude upon our daily routines of work, school, soccer and football practice whether we want it or not and whether we like it or not. It is how the world works. We didn’t ask for a Hitler or Pearl Harbor or 911, but they came anyway. That’s why global awareness is vital for our prosperity and security.

Since 2000, we have wasted trillions on useless military adventures that built roads in Afghanistan and Iraq but didn’t fix potholes or crumbling bridges in Texas or other states. The reckless fiscal actions of the Bush administration in passing tax cuts that were not paid for and pursuing two unpaid for wars with borrowed money discarded two centuries of American creditor nation status and left the world’s financial power in the cold hands of old men in China who care not for democracy.  

Today's $20 Trillion debt comes from the structural deficits created by the Bush tax cuts.  It would have been higher but for Obama's success in reducing our annual deficit to a fraction of what it was.

China financed our deficits and manufactured our goods as our companies sent manufacturing and jobs to China at the urging of companies like Walmart. In the end China ended up with over $3 trillion in foreign reserves and the United States ended up with another $10 trillion in debt. Add to that wealth inequality in which the top 1% controlling 48% of wealth and a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour that buys less than $1.60 an hour did in 1968 and you have a recipe for disaster. 

Agenda for American Greatness is a roadmap back to American leadership and a greater prosperity for those left on the bottom and for our country as a whole. It’s how we start adding oil to the economic engine and putting gas in the tank so people can get moving again. It’s about America getting back to No. 1 again. It’s “now or never” if we are to survive as a leading democratic nation.

For a visual picture of the changes in the last 30 years, check this out:

Here is a photo of me in the middle of Tiananmen Square of traffic in 1982:

                                             Michael Fjetland, Tiananmen Square, Beijing, china.

                                               Now compare that to that same spot in 2016:

China's economy is now No. 2 behind ours and is expected to become the largest within 5 years. They just landed a rover on the moon and plan to have a Moon Base in a few years.

For another technology comparison, the next photo is one of a train I took in China in 1982: 

                   Now compare how our American 2015 Amtrak train looks like the 1982 Chinese train!

The Chinese Bullet trains (which run on steel rails) travel at 186 miles per hour. Amtrak is lucky to hit 79 miles per hour. I once rode it to New Orleans in the 80’s and it rocked so much over huge Lake Pontchartrain—New Orleans 600 square mile lake-- that I didn’t want it going more than the 20 or 30 it was going! We even stopped once in a field between Houston and New Orleans because a car ran out of diesel or whatever was running the air conditioning. It was so slow I could hang out the door between the cars and take photos! LOL. (Wish I could find those).

China’s Bullet trains are not China’s fastest train! That title goes to the only MagLev in the world. It runs into Shanghai airport and hits 265 miles per hour! Japan is now testing one that has hit 300 miles per hour!


Photo: I took this photo of the MagLev in Shanghai, China in October 2012 –when I returned to China exactly 30 years after my first time to arrive in China. it hovers on magnets! The differences I found were stunning – vastly greater than changes in the U.S. during the same period.  Magnetic levitation (magnets repelling magnets) cause it to hover above the track, avoiding friction and “steel-on-steel” which have to be perfectly aligned to avoid a derailment. Not so with the MagLev which beats the 186 mph steel-on-steel Bullet Trains by going 265 mph (link to 7 minute video “Riding Smooth at 265 mph on China’s MagLev”).

                                                   How do we “Win the Future?”

One thing is clear: we can’t win it by not knowing the global facts we face as a nation. Nor can we win by having Republicans and Democrats become so extreme that they are unable to reach across the aisle to pass the simplest law to advance our future. An ostrich doesn’t avoid becoming a predator’s dinner by keeping its head in the sand.  Trump's administration won't get us there with its anti-science, anti-education lineup of bizarre characters trying to kill the EPA, etc.

The recent events with ISIS and Ebola should be yet another reminder that the world is not going to go away and leave us alone.  What happens on the other side of the planet can and does impact Americans, like it or not.  For example, the war in Syria resulted in millions of refugees fleeing death from ISIS, which has overwhelmed all the European countries from Greece to Belgium.  Unstable countries has led to greater instability for Europe--exactly what Mr. Putin wants! It has also given ISIS a training ground so they could send fighters back to their home countries in Europe, as we have seen in the bombings and shootings in Paris, Brussels, etc.

Yes, it makes us develop new vaccines to fight new diseases and new allies to fight the bad guys determined to kill us.  That's the way it works. The entire world can be reached in one eight-hour flight, by anyone sick or well, good or bad. The idea that we can “seal the borders” is a fantasy an unrealistic. We did build a wall at the Mexican border (show me a 15 foot wall and I will show you a 16 foot ladder) but what stopped most immigrants was a better economy in Mexico.

Stopping the gang killers in Honduras and El Salvador would drop illegal immigration even more since people are fleeing certain death, just as they are fleeing Syria and Iraq and ISIS and jumping into small boats to cross the Mediterranean, risking drowning, to flee to places like Greece and Italy where they are safe from the extremists who are killing their families. ISIS kills more Muslims then anyone else!

Our country needs global awareness so we can develop the best strategy to “win the future.” We can’t win by repeating the mistakes that got us into this mess. We can’t win by believing in voodoo economics. We can’t win by having representatives who are clueless about the world around us at one of the most critical times in our history.

Settling for anything less than No. 1 is national suicide my fellow Americans. This is not a choice. We have to stay on top or lose all that our founding fathers granted to us. It won’t be easy, quick or cheap but do you wish you children to inherit second class world status because we didn’t invest in their future?

Texas is now a majority minority state. America is a diverse country which, like Texas, will soon become a "majority minority" country. Hispanics are predicted to be the majority in Texas by 2020. Our country’s population looks like the world. We have a system that should be copied by all, but we don’t help ourselves by starving our education engine of investment. How many of the disadvantaged poor and minority youth can become the next Edison or Einstein or Stephen Hawkings of the world if we give them the education they need?

I was a farmer and became an international expert without the necessity of going to a Harvard or Yale. Anything is possible in America – if we keep the dream alive for everyone including those at the bottom of the economic food chain. 

China is also becoming a space power and plans to have a new space station in 2020 when our International Space Station is like our bridges -- old and in need of replacement. We are abandoning the "high tech high ground" to China.

China’s proposed Space Station- 1st stage

South Korea’s Internet speeds are eight times faster than our own. The United States continues to lag other nations in its use of computing and communications technology, where we rank 5th! Why are we not No. 1?  

Spies in China and Russia no longer have to come to the U.S. to steal secrets, they can do it from their desks in Shanghai and Moscow. Our intelligence sources confirm that Russia was behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee.  The theft occurred 5,000 miles away, in a computer lab somewhere in Moscow. The material was then given to "WikiLeaks" in an effort by Mr. Putin to get Mr. Trump elected, since Putin could see Trump would cripple NATO and throw our alliances into chaos.  The fact that not one hacked email from the Republican National Committee has been released is evidence that Putin wants Trump elected, not Hillary. 

Putin's Russian hacking trolls continue to interfere in elections in France, Germany, etc.

A year or so ago, it was reported that the Office of Personnel Management lost over 20 million sensitive personnel records to hackers because it had failed to encrypt the files!  Even the head of the FBI had his information compromised. In spite of this, Congress has refused to even pass a cyber-security law that would have prevented this from happening. Had Hillary used a State Department computer, it would have been hacked, because their ancient dinosaur computers have been breached by Chinese, Russians, etc. How is this inaction by Congress good for our security?

Our leaders wait for 50-year old bridges to fall before our leaders act to repair them, like the one that fell into the Mississippi River killing many when Governor Pawlenty (R) was in office. We have over 77,000 bridges that are considered “derelict and dangerous” by engineers.  Our roads are falling apart yet we do nothing, invest nothing, while believing we will lead the world anyway as our 60 year old gas pipelines explode from old age and half century old water mains leak millions of gallons of water. 

Another example is the I-10 bridge over Lake Charles. It is 70 years old and the local Republican Congress rep, Charles Boustany, told me that it vibrates so much from traffic that replacement light bulbs quickly break. It is so rickety that two of the four lanes have been closed at times. Yet he has been unable to get his fellow Republicans to pass an infrastructure bill to replace it. Will Congress wait until it collapses before approving repairs? The delay is costing us billions in lost time and productivity.

                                  Photo Above: I 35 bridge over Mississippi in Minnesota collapsed,
                                  killing 13 commuters and injuring 145. Beware the next bridge you cross…

We have millions of people who could be employed fixing our failing infrastructure if we put our mind to it―fixing old bridges and pot-holed roads while providing jobs at the same time. Our Transportation Bills are normally bipartisan bills that fund repairs and infrastructure replacements for five year periods.

How do you pay for it? 

By doing what our people have done in the past when faced with the Great Depression and World War II, and what Ronald Reagan did when he realized he had cut taxes too much – he raised them over eleven times. We could accomplish the same thing today by reforming our tax code and closing loopholes for the privileged 1% --like Mr. Trump -- who use them to get deductions for moving jobs overseas. Trump sources his products from over a dozen countries overseas -- not from U.S. plants. He even brings in foreign workers for his Florida estate, Mar A Lago, because they cost less than Americans.  

Over $2 TRILLION dollars in corporate profits are stashed overseas, paying zero taxes. This should be changed so the money can go into our infrastructure such as aging water pipes like Flint, Michigan and Houston's, which loses almost 1/3 of it from leaks. All cities face the same problem.

The world has changed dramatically in the last three decades from my first visits to China and India. India, with 1.3 billion people is the largest democracy in the world. It was a government-controlled, stagnant economy in the 1970s and ’80s when I first traveled there. It became a market-driven economy in the ’90s and is now growing over 8% per year and producing more engineers than the United States.  Add China’s 1.2 billion people and these two Asian giants account for 40% of the world’s population of 7 billion. China went from a poor country where everyone made $30 month to a rich country with 300 million people in the Middle Class and more billionaires than any country but the U.S. – all in just the last 30 years.

Both of these countries will dominate the 21st century global economy. Recently China replaced Japan as the second largest economy behind the U.S. and may actually be the world’s largest economy any day. It became the third country to put astronauts in space and plans to complete its own space station in 2020, just as the International Space Station is nearly the end of its lifespan. China just put its first woman astronaut in space along with two men to test their first space station module.  

China is becoming more militaristic as it has grown more rich. It is even building its on islands in the South China sea to capture more offshore resources, despite claims to the same area by other countries. This will pose greater challenges to us as China becomes the No. 1 economy with a bigger military (despite our military being larger than the next 8 countries combined).

Despite its pollution, or perhaps because of it, China has also taken the lead in the green economy, which is the next major growth sector. It invested $20 billion in solar panel production, which caused solar prices to fall 40% in the U.S. That is what destroyed Solyndra and took it into bankruptcy after getting a $500 million government loan. In 1995 the U.S. had 40% of the solar panel market. Today it is 6%! In 2005, China had 6% of the solar market.  Today they have 54%! That is why Solyndra could not survive. It was already doomed by American failure to invest enough to remain a leader in the technology. That failure is costing us millions of jobs.  Perhaps that is why some politicians don’t seem to believe in science. 

According to Clean Technica, “China, Japan, and South Korea will invest about $509 billion in clean tech over the next 5 years (starting from 2011), whereas the U.S. (even with our greenest president in decades, maybe ever) is only expected to invest $172 billion (about a third as much)—this is assuming the climate and energy legislation in Congress passes.” Clean Technica goes on to say: “Asia’s rising ‘clean technology tigers’―China, Japan, and South Korea―have already passed the United States in the production of virtually all clean energy technologies, and over the next five years, the governments of these nations will out-invest the United States three-to-one in these sectors.” 

The report’s conclusion: “This could jeopardize America’s economic recovery and its long-term competitiveness while making it even more difficult to reduce the U.S. trade deficit. The U.S. will lose jobs, tons of money and much of its economic presence globally. Hopefully, policy makers will wake up to the urgent need for greater investment and stronger, more coordinated policy around clean technology (regarding energy, transportation, and other sectors.)The economic future of the U.S. depends on it.”

That is an amazing and true analysis of our situation.  Certain elements (aka “tea party”) in our Congress seem to sneer at “green energy” and “green jobs.” Imagine that same attitude as the first computers came on the market or at the start of the Internet. The green economy represents trillions of dollars in future sales and job growth. It is the “next big thing” as we advance into high technology and the space age, in which over 40 nations are now competing for the high ground. Whoever wins that high ground will dominate the 21st century. The U.S. is at risk of losing it, because of our low educational levels. 

Simply put, we haven’t invested enough to remain market/technology leaders.  Did you know that U.S. businesses make more profits in Europe than anywhere else, twenty times more than in China? Or that 179 of the world’s top companies are European, compared with 140 that are American? 

Even our southern neighbor Mexico has made big changes in the last twenty years to make it more competitive. Mexico has actually expanded its middle class as ours has shrunk.  In a recent article by Thomas Friedman he points out that Mexico has greatly increased the number of engineers and skilled laborers.  You would never know that immigration is now "net zero" meaning that as many people leave the U.S. as enter it. Mexicans are getting more work in Mexico, so they don't need to come here. In other words, building a "wall" is not necessary. It would be an enormous waste of resources. 

China learned that lesson. Long ago it built its "Great Wall." I've been on it (see photo). Yet that wall was easily breached; Genghis Khan from Mongolia simply bribed the guards!
                                          Michael Fjetland (left), Great Wall of China. 1982

Mexico has also signed 44 free-trade agreements with other countries (NAFTA being just one), more than any other country in the world.  Mexico exports more than the rest of Latin America combined! When Mexican companies lost out to China in the 1990’s (about the time I drove through Mexico as described in "Better Times Ahead") it realized it had to become more productive. Their political parties have signed a pact to deal with the big energy, telecom and teacher monopolies that have held it back.  It’s opened its energy sector to foreign investment for the first time in its history. Texas companies are about to begin piping oil to Mexico.

Mexicans have always thought “we should have our parties behave like the United States.” They are no longer thinking like that. Our political dysfunction has been damaging our image as a “can do” nation as well as our economy.

We must either embrace the job-creating potential of the Green Economy, “Clean Tech,” and the technologies of the 21st century―or watch China and the rest of the world embrace these technologies and blow past us. 

The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population and consumes nearly 33% of the world’s energy (and imprisons more than China or Russia!.) Ramping up our energy efficiency would create even more jobs and could save us hundreds of billions of dollars in energy costs, while drastically cutting the billions spent importing oil. Another win-win. Just by being more energy efficient we could avoid building 7 out of 10 power plants that will be needed to fuel our growing energy demands. Yet there are some in Congress who think conserving energy is bad. Isn’t conserving our resources what “conservative” means?  How is wasting energy conservative or smart? 

With climate change now threatening our coasts and food chain, we need a "moon shot" on renewable energy. Mr. Trump says he doesn’t believe in climate change. Hillary Clinton recognizes it is a threat to our future life on earth and proposes accelerating our adoption of clean energy, which also creates jobs.

For the past 30 years, a U.S.-based magazine, International Living, has compiled a quality-of-life index based on cost of living, culture and leisure, economy, environment, freedom, health, infrastructure, safety and climate. France tops the list for the fifth year running. The United States comes in 7th!  We can do better. We must do better.

The Space Shuttle was 30 years old when it was retired on orders of President Bush in 2004. At that time we didn’t have a replacement ready because no one had made the commitment, with funding, to invest in a replacement vehicle―which takes at least ten years to produce.  No one was thinking ahead. So now America has to rely on Russian rockets to ride to the International Space Station.  This is just one example of many where we haven’t been investing in our future—or thinking ahead to be prepared for it. 

Fortunately, some of the gap will be filled by private space companies like SpaceX which President Obama has encouraged to take over the mundane space activities like sending astronauts to and from the space station, while preserving NASA’s cutting edge focus on exploring places like Mars and hunting for city killer asteroids like the one that blew up over Russia in 2013. However, when NASA started using commercial launch services, Congress failed to fund it sufficiently to start sending astronauts to the space station in 2015. They will have to wait to 2017.

The U.S. is NOT the only player in space: 44 countries have space programs! We either lead or fall behind. 

 American students keep falling lower in math and science skills―the drivers of the global high-tech 21st century. However, China and India have millions of students who do have those skills. We could be teaching Americans those skills. Congress should be paying attention to it and helping make it happen as a national priority as states continue to slash education funding which is sabotaging our future. There is no global prize for knowing all about celebrity trivia and nothing about running computerized aircraft machine tools. 

We have a choice: either upgrade our education and technology skills or lose forever our status as global leaders.  

Today China has over one million millionaires. It has over 300 billionaires, and adds more every year. (India adds a new billionaire every 33 days.)  It has over $3 trillion in cash reserves and has used that financial strength to buy up rare earth minerals needed to make things like missiles and jet aircraft. It has invested in green energy, high tech, thousands of miles of high-speed rail, and on and on. Chinese architects want to build a mile-high building, one that would loom over a city like New York. They have the mojo America used to have. 

We have replaced the vision of our forefathers who built the Interstate Highway system and NASA with “tea party” mentality that doesn’t believe in repairing our roads or honoring our debts or educating the next generation.

                 Above: Students need help upgrading their skills for America's future success

 India has come a long way from the “Better Times Ahead” sign I saw 30 years ago. They really have produced better times for large numbers of Indians who are moving into the middle class from poverty. The Chinese have moved nearly 300 million people into the Middle Class, while ours has shrunk. Shouldn’t we do the same? In the last thirty years we have concentrated wealth at the top and cut the Middle Class.  Recently, the head of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellin, said that inequality in wealth is hurting America’s ability to grow.  

Raising the minimum wage to at least $10 (to $15) would help correct that inequality and benefit the economy at the same time – since 100% of the extra money earned would go back into the economy in the form of rent and car payments, and food. Major corporations like McDonald’s and Walmart that pay minimum wages cost the federal government over $6 billion a year to help their employees survive. 

Why should the American taxpayer subsidize rich, profitable companies? No one can support themselves on a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Mr. Trump ran for the GOP nomination opposing raising the minimum wage, saying “people already make to much” money. Now, he says he might favor raising it, so who knows what he really believes. Hillary Clinton has always supporter raising the minimum wage and the only question has been whether it would be $12 or $15, she can accept either.

While U.S. wages are too low we are also running short of another vital resource: water!  About 97.5% of the earth’s water is salt water. Only 2.5% is fresh water, and 70% of that is locked up in polar ice caps. That leaves less than 1% of fresh water for human use. We can live without oil―think electric cars―but we can’t live without water! 

Texas discovered that in the drought of 2011, when 10% of our trees died. Animals were under severe stress. We had the worst fires in our history. Lakes became mud pits. Failure to fund a water plan has increased the cost of securing our water resources by tens of billions of dollars, and those costs grow with every year of delay. Today California in the worst drought of its history and faces a water crisis that will get only worse as wildfires have become nearly year round events.  Desalination of sea water is extremely expensive but may become vital to our survival. Texas went from too little water to too much as the floods of 2015-2016 killed dozens and caused billions in property damage. The climate has turned hostile and swings from one extreme to another.

One fracking expert I heard recently claimed that there is enough “shale gas” to last us another 175 years! The problem with that claim is that each well requires over six million gallons of water. In short, the water needed to frack will run out within the next decade. Then what? Can you drink oil?

Our weather extremes are getting more extreme. In 2014 the Pacific Ocean was hotter than the Atlantic and produced a series of the largest hurricanes (Typhoons) ever recorded. January and February 2016 were the hottest months on earth in recorded history! In the last two years the Pacific Ocean hurricanes have been record CAT 5 monsters - we even had two of them at once! One storm was so big that it exceeded the scale - it would have been a CAT 7 based on wind speeds, if there was such a category!  2016 continues the streak of "hottest" months ever recorded. We must take action.

 When the Atlantic is as hot, the United States will feel the impact of storms that have battered countries like India, China and Japan in 2014 and 2015. In January 2016 I flew back to the U.S. from Spain. Two passengers got sick but our plane could not land in the Azores to drop them off --because of a hurricane Alex, the earliest one on record in the Atlantic in over 73 years!

In November 2016, when hurricane season officially ended, I went on a cruise through the Panama canal. The guide in Panama said "We never get hurricanes!" Well, the next stop was north in Costa Rica - and the captain of the ship announced that we could not go there because a "hurricane from no where" had just formed!  So, we are having hurricanes and hurricane-force winds nearly year round now.

Our failure to act on climate change threatens the future of our children if we do nothing. Even the Pentagon sees climate change as a national security threat. Those opposing climate change argue that it would damage business but if we kill our planet by overheating it, there won’t be any business to worry about. 

Already there is evidence that tropical fish are migrating towards the poles because the tropical waters are getting too hot for them to survive as the oceans absorb the excess heat we are putting into the atmosphere. Bees that pollinate our food crops are stressed by the heat (and pesticides) and are dying off. No bees. No food. Simple as that. 

The overheating ocean is also killing our coral reefs that are the basis of our seafood chain. It is depleting oxygen levels in the water, threatening our ocean life.

If you have children they will pay a terrible price for our neglect and lack of foresight. Did you have another planet to move to when this one is toast? This isn’t like moving to the suburbs to escape crime. We are on track for the extinction of our own species!

 We are frantically searching for the last of the fossil fuels instead of using our brains and diversifying our energy sources to include as many renewables as possible, which would avoid future damage to our fragile planet and move us closer to energy independence. 

Even our military has found that using solar panels for energy in Afghanistan is better than paying $400 for each gallon of gas it ships in (that’s the cost by the time it arrives on a truck from Pakistan that the Taliban didn’t blow up). Yet there are those in Congress, especially the “tea party” types that oppose the military using this “green” technology! It defies logic and common sense. In 2013 Texas is facing power shortages – yet it has not approved the building of solar farms that would generate the most electricity during the peak load demands during the hottest times of the day. 

In the last 30 years, wealth in the United States has become concentrated so that we look more like the old Mexican economy, where a few people at the top control the wealth and everyone else has nothing. In the last 30 years, our middle class has been squeezed so that now one per cent of the American population controls 33% of all wealth now in the U.S. The top 10% of the population now control 56% of the wealth!  

The top 20% control 84% of the wealth! That means the other 80% of us have to fight over 16% of the remaining wealth. The middle class has been squeezed at the expense of the wealthy who hire the lobbyists to get special tax breaks ordinary people don’t. Ironically, Mexico has been working to grow its middle class by breaking up the monopolies that have stifled growth and opportunity.

American tax policies under Presidents Reagan and George W Bush favoring the top 20% have given the lucky few at the top over 84% of the total U.S. wealth!

To his immense credit, Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, said “Quit coddling the rich like me.”  He said that he pays a lower tax percentage than his secretary who works for him. “It's unfair,” says Buffett. 

He’s right.  The Bush tax cut was weighted deliberately to give the top earners the biggest break, not the middle class. That has fed the wealth concentration: corporations that get tax breaks to ship jobs overseas; billionaire hedge fund managers who nearly bankrupted the world with phony credit default swaps pay 15%, while their driver and housekeeper–and the rest  of us―pay twice that amount. 

In 2012 GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney paid about 13% on his income tax return. The rest of us pay about 30%. Unlike most Americans he deducted $77,000 for his pet show horse, a deduction greater than most Americans’ annual pay!  Then it was revealed that Mr. Trump claimed nearly $1 billion in losses on real estate, meaning he hasn't paid one penny in income taxes in decades, despite millions of dollars in income. How is that right? To this day he has defied 40 years of presidents revealing their income taxes to the public. What Russian connection is he hiding?

In 2017 nothing has changed.  All the Republican economic plan calls for more tax cuts for the wealthy, which will explode the deficit even more. Mr. Trumps tax plan would add $10 Trillion to the debt! He would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aka “Obamacare” which has provided insurance coverage to millions of Americans who didn’t have it before.  Without its protections over 40% of Americans have pre-existing conditions and would be denied insurance coverage.  If you got sick, insurance companies could go back to canceling your insurance – and terminating coverage once you hit the lifetime limit of your policy. The ACA prohibits that from happening. Repeal would leave millions of Americans without insurance once again, going bankrupt with medical bills.  Premiums keep going up because we still have a "for profit" health insurance industry instead of a single payer system like Medicare (which is great, I must say, now that I have it).

                                        HOW DID WE GET INTO THIS SITUATION?

To figure out how to get out of this mess we need to recognize how we got into it. The financial mismanagement that put us into this situation flipped us from the world's No. 1 creditor nation to the No. 1 debtor nation in under four years. Then we can address solutions based on reality.

It started with the 2001 tax cuts under President Bush, who had been handed a $350 billion surplus by outgoing President Clinton. It was the only balanced budget by any president in the last thirty years.  It was as if he was handed a shiny new Cadillac with cash stuffed in the glove box. 

The 2001 Bush tax cuts created an instant $1.2 trillion deficit. Revenues were far short of our fixed expenses―about 40% short, requiring increases in our debt ceiling.  From 2000 to 2008 our national debt doubled. In 2003, they cut taxes a second time. Over $6 trillion in new debt was added by the GOP controlled Congress and President Bush 43 to cover the cost of two wars that were unpaid for. Plan D for prescription drugs was not paid for and neither were two tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. It took 200+ years to get America to $5 trillion in debt, but that debt was more than doubled in a mere eight years under Bush.  Then in 2008 the economy collapsed, cutting tax revenues and running up even higher deficits.     

America went from the world’s No. 1 creditor nation to No. 1 debtor nation in less than four years under the Bush administration.  Instead of investing billions in emerging technologies like solar panels and “Clean Tech,” we invested over $1 trillion in war equipment for Iraq and building roads in Afghanistan that do not produce a return like China gets from its manufacturing investments or its high-speed rail network and new roads.  When you look at war torn Afghanistan and Iraq today, was it worth it?

That’s a huge difference.  A total of $6.1 trillion in debt was acquired during George W. Bush's eight years in office, $1.9 trillion in Ronald Reagan's, $1.5 trillion in George H.W. Bush's four years, $1.4 trillion in Clinton's eight years and $2.4 trillion during the first three years Obama's administration, much of it spent trying to pull us out of recession, just as FDR did to get us out of the Great Depression in the ’30s.  

Yet under Obama, total federal spending has been lower than any President in the last thirty years! You seldom see this reported in the news. Under Obama, the deficit in 2015 has dropped to its lowest amount since 2001! Over 10 million jobs have been created since 2009 when he took office.

From day one Obama has faced an FDR-type crisis―the worst recession in over 70 years, since the Great Depression of the 1930s. It was a financial recession (like the ’30s), which takes an average of seven years—seven years, vs. a 4-year term—to recover from.

In 2001, Bush inherited what could be described as “the shiny car and money in the bank.”  

In 2009, Obama inherited the “empty bank account stuffed with IOU’s and a wrecked, smoking economic ship of state.” Obama faced a $1.3 Trillion deficit his first day on the job, plus trillions in piled up IOU's from two unpaid for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

When Trump took office in 2017, he inherited from Obama a healthy economy that had produced over 15 million jobs and an unemployment rate less than half of when he took office.  Two months later Trump tries to claim credit for 600,000 jobs created under the Obama-created economy he inherited!

 It takes time to fix a ship that has run aground, just like the Exxon Valdez, especially when there is no cooperation across the aisle in Congress. On his first day on the job, before he had done a thing, the GOP declared they would oppose everything he proposed. And they have – even rejecting GOP ideas that President Obama adopted, like the health insurance mandate the Heritage foundation had recommended. 

As I stated previously right after Obama was elected in 2008, Senate leader Mitch McConnell said: “Our goal is to make him a one-term President.”  To that end, Congress refused to pass any bill that would create jobs and help the economy. It was economic sabotage from day one, designed by politicians more interested in gaining control of the U.S. Senate and House –even if it cost jobs for Americans.  In the old days it would have been called “treason” by deliberating sabotaging growth and jobs in order to regain political power.

Had the GOP had their way, the U.S. would have allowed Detroit’s automakers to go bankrupt, which would have cost over 1 million jobs and killed America’s car manufacturing business. Today, because of the stimulus and bridge loans from President Obama, GM is once again a leading auto manufacturer in the world, producing cars and jobs right here in the USA. Even Ford Motor Company’s President said that if GM had gone down, it would have also bankrupted Ford since both companies rely on the same suppliers for parts. 

Voodoo economics almost cost America its economic lifeline. Political sabotage has been the reason too many Americans who are not seeing economic gains because the GOP has refused to pass any bill that would create jobs, including the highway bill which has been traditionally bipartisan.  Congress is allowing bridges to fall apart in order so it could take control of the Senate (which it did in 2014), so it can then set about gutting Obamacare so you can, once again, lose your insurance for a preexisting condition and be denied coverage by the whim of the insurance industry. How is that progress? Healthcare is a right of citizens of any civilized country, not a privilege for only those who can afford it. How is denying healthcare considered to be “pro life”?

Had Obama followed the GOP advice and done nothing to stimulate the economy as President Hoover did during the Great Depression, or followed Europe’s Austerity hysteria, we would have had unemployment approaching 20% or more –like what has happened in Spain, England and countries in Europe following the “austerity” plan. In 2016 Europe is still struggling. They are realizing that they need to stimulate their economies to avoid negative growth in 2016.  Had Obama not acted, more millions of jobs would have been lost as Detroit auto companies shut down, leaving us dependent on foreign-made cars.

Austerity created 50% unemployment for Europe's youth, including young Muslim men in places like Brussels and Paris, who then are easily turned into recruits for a "promised land" or caliphate because they have nothing, and nothing to lose.  That has led to the rise of radical right groups in Europe like Marine Le Pen, a Trump-like white nationalists running in the French election.

Austerity cuts jobs; it doesn’t create them. Greece in 2015 is Exhibit A. Youth unemployment is over 50%.  The stimulus passed right after President Obama took office pulled us out of the worst case scenario –we were facing massive bank runs and panic in the streets. The stimulus action brought our unemployment down substantially while Europe in 2015 is still stagnating under the austerity policies they have clung to rigidly. Had more of Obama’s stimulus been directed at building roads and bridges instead of giving block grants to states like Texas -- which used it to cover its budget shortfall instead of investing in our roads and schools, we would have gotten even more bang for the buck.

Taking smart action to improve the economy should be a common American priority, not playing politics to get back into power. Thomas Friedman recently put it aptly this way: “We have only a decade to set up a good century for our people, but if we don’t, Americans will face a bleak century.” Right now, prospects of that happening are bleak. 

Cuts to CDC and National Health Institute prevented work on vaccines for Ebola that would have given us a weapon against it and avoided the panic of 2014 when Ebola turned up at a Dallas, Texas hospital and no one knew what to do about it. It was the GOP Congress that cut funding for embassy security that left Ambassador Stevens unprotected in Benghazi!  Now Trump proposes gutting our investment in health, science, climate, etc. 

Ever since the Bush tax cuts, we have had to borrow 40% of the cost of the budget, including the Pentagon's budget. Our defense budget is greater than the next 20 countries put together. Then Trump has the audacity to claim we need to "rebuild" it. What malarkey. But when it comes to “cutting defense” they scream “it will cost jobs!” Funny, they only recognize that budget cuts cost jobs when it involves defense, but not when it comes to cutting education, firefighters, or investment in new technologies.

Above: Compare how much the USA pays for its Pentagon versus other countries - it is more than the rest of the world COMBINED.

So, what do we do to start turning the job machine back on? 

It's going to take a series of steps:  improving education, upping our job skills and retraining those in lost industries (like coal), and investing in rebuilding our crumbling bridges and roads.  It was the investment in the Interstate Highway System by President Dwight Eisenhower that provided the infrastructure that was a major factor in America's growth. It improved our nation’s productivity and made transport faster and better. Now those roads are in desperate need of repair.   Upgrading the old is vital, as is investing in the new technologies that create 21st century jobs. 

Recently water pipes broke in one of the buildings housing U.S. Senators due to age. It is a symptom of a Congress that refuses to invest in our aging infrastructure. Houston, for example, is losing millions in dollars because its water pipes are so old that they are leaking billions of gallons of much-needed water at a time we are in the worst drought in our state’s history. Our gas lines are exploding across the country because they are so old.


So let’s talk solutions.  Here is what we do: INVEST in AMERICA! We also need to address income inequality produced by a tax system that favors the 1% and drains revenue that could reduce our deficits. It needs major reforms. Hang on, this isn’t about being isolationist. It’s about focusing on what makes us stronger – tax fairness and investing in our people’s knowledge and skills.  Trump's plan would destroy any chance of investing in our future. Like Bush before him it gives huge breaks to the 1% while throwing peanuts at the middle, while exploding our debt into economic collapse territory far worse than the last GOP created disaster in 2008 - then the largest economic meltdown in 70 years since the great depression!

Instead of increasing the defense budget let's take $10 billion from defense (from their $650 billion/year) and give it to NASA, which has an $18 billion/year budget.  That would let them led a scientific revolution in new technologies while working with commercial companies to set up a moon base to test the technology needed for living on Mars.  It can develop advanced space propulsion systems needed for a Mars trip (a 1 year journey each way in a slow tin can is just nuts and makes a round trip less likely to be successful without people killing each other. They could invest some of it into building a space-based solar energy system that could feed unlimited solar energy to drive our economy and develop new space skills at the same time―a win-win.

Better yet, NASA needs to develop a much needed “detection and deflection” program in conjunction with the Pentagon Space Division to divert an asteroid from wiping out a city or our planet from what a direct hit did to the dinosaurs. In 2013 we just had an asteroid come out of the sun that exploded over Russia. Had it hit a city it would have been destroyed. in 2017 another one just missed us that would have devastated the planet.  Had it targeted us, a nuclear interception in deep space would have been required as a last ditch effort to save our planet. It's a matter of time.

Sooner or later, we will need that protection of our planet as much as we now need an "Ike Dike" to protect our Texas coast from the next hurricane that could wipe out 25% of our country's gas refining. A few billion spent on coastal protection is vastly better than yet another overpriced F35 program.  Another hurricane hit in the Houston area would flood out refineries and fill Galveston Bay with toxic mass of chemicals, killing everything. It would cause gas to skyrocket to $7 a gallon overnight--because we were warned but didn't invest or prepare. That's pretty stupid for an "intelligent" species!

Space-based Solar Power could yield vast zero carbon power for U.S. Energy Independence

The Pentagon has a $26 billion space budget larger than NASA’s! It has so much money that it recently gave NASA two space telescopes it didn’t need! Poor NASA doesn’t even have the funds to launch them. NASA is still using space suits that are 35 years old! They are so old that one almost drowned an astronaut when it started leaking water into his suit. How to we lead a space race with 30 year old Shuttles, 35 year old spacesuits and an International Space Station nearing the end of its life cycle? The components on the space station were warrantied for only ten years, and it is already 15 years old and will be 24 by the time its retired – with no replacement in sight.

Investing in a new station is a far better use of money than a useless border wall with Mexico - a complete waste of money. Show me a 20 foot wall and I will show you a 21 foot ladder (much cheaper) or a tunnel.  We have had a border barrier for years. Guess what? Most of the drugs come across the border in vehicles crossing our checkpoints!  Yep. In the future drones could hop the wall no problem at all.  I am reminded of the Great Wall built by China to keep the Mongols out. I walked on it. It cost tens of thousands of lives - its known as the longest graveyard in the world. The Mongols found it easy to bribe their way across.
The Pentagon has never been audited.  Immense waste has gone unnoticed. One study that has been hidden showed that the pentagon could save $125 BILLION by eliminating duplicate programs! Now Congress is pretending not to notice.

 We should audit the Pentagon to cut waste and fraud, potentially savings billions per year in unneeded costs.  This same Pentagon recently has been trying to force veterans to repay bonuses to get them to go to Iraq during the worst period in 2006, 2007!  For a measly $20 million, they are sticking it to the vets. The pentagon spends more than $20 million on toilet paper every year folks!  It's chump change.

Planning ahead and investment are important!  As I said, China is building a vast network of new roads, high-speed rail, power plants, etc. while Congress does nothing but insist on allowing millionaires to pay half the taxes the rest of us pay, bickers and cuts funding for Pell grants that students need to obtain 21st century skills.  It has attempted to take away the Affordable Care Act aka "Obamacare" to deny millions of Americans access to healthcare. Yet Congress gets its healthcare paid for by U.S. taxpayers. How is that right?

Russia and China are now planning a high speed rail link between their countries, linking them economically and politically as each vie to compete with the United States in technology and control of the seas and space. NASA astronauts are riding Russian rockets into space while Russia’s Putin is grabbing territory from Ukraine and Russian leaders laugh about us using a trampoline to get into space.  Our best bet to get Americans traveling on American rockets again is by private space companies like Space X.

NASA is in fact using private space companies who have plans to take people to places like near earth orbit, and even Mars, long before NASA itself could offer anything like it. We could soon see "space hotels" by Jeff Bezos and other space pioneers like Elon Musk. Space tourist and space-based manufacturing could supply new products and drugs that can't be made on earth. We could be mining asteroids for heavy metals.  The moon has platinum and rare earth minerals we need for high tech manufacturing that can only be found in parts of Africa (and now controlled by China).  Our space age is just beginning to become available for the rest of us civilians who will never be astronauts.

                                               Above: The Dreamchaser, a mini shuttle

Equality, fairness and justice have always been American traditions. But not in this empty minded Congress. 

Students and Free College:  In Norway and Germany, college is free, even to foreign students. Meanwhile our student debt is piling up. Obama has proposed making two years of junior college free. It is a step in the right direction. Hillary Clinton offered a plan to make college affordable and debt free.  Bernie Sanders wanted free college like Europe does. Providing higher education and skills training for our people will pay dividends in higher earnings and higher taxes received from the future earnings. On the other hand the so-called President Trump and the GOP wants you to have nothing and like it.

President Obama wanted us to double our exports – that would also boost jobs. Each $1 billion in exports creates 25,000 jobs right here in America. It would diversity our economy instead of relying solely on consumer spending. We should export products, not jobs. Instead, Congress let the Ex Im bank charter expire, despite that it makes a profit of $1 billion and helps produce over 150,000 jobs! It was finally restored but a Congress that can't see the benefits of getting America's products to the world is dangerously naïve and stupid. 

Another thing.  The U.S. gets billions in tourist dollars every year from foreign tourists coming to the U.S. With the Trump travel bans and bombastic attacks on nearly everyone including allies (but excluding Mr. Putin!), tourism to the U.S. is DOWN. That means we have lost over $30 billion at last count in income for our travel industry, hotels, restaurants, theme parks, hospitals, etc. He is killing our economy, not improving it.

Get rid of Tax credits for hiding money overseas? Stop giving deductions to move headquarters overseas. Oil companies have received tax credits for over 100 years -- as if they were small startup companies instead of the largest, most profitable corporations on the planet that they are.  Corporations get foreign tax credits on foreign taxes paid on money earned overseas― over $2 TRILLION, which is not taxed until brought back to the U.S. That money is subject to a stiff tax when it is brought back into the U.S. We could lower the tax on those earnings and use it to invest in infrastructure that would create millions of jobs.

We need new revenues to finance our education and high-tech training needs, and to replace rusting bridges and schools where ceiling tiles are falling on the children. We can do that by making the tax system a level playing field where special interests don’t get special deals that the ordinary American doesn’t get. The GOP claims we have the "highest"

We should reform our tax code to bring down the top rate but also eliminate many of the deductions that allow companies to pay zero taxes on substantial profits. General Electric, for example, paid zero taxes on billions in profits.

We could eliminate the foreign tax credit which lets companies get a credit on their U.S. taxes—instead of a deduction—for paying a tax overseas.  The foreign tax credit should be turned into a deduction.  Corporations’ worldwide earnings should be taxed, just like they are for American individuals, even if they leave it parked in a bank overseas. No corporation should get a tax deduction for shipping jobs overseas.  Instead they should get a tax incentive to bring jobs to the U.S.! We definitely need to reform the tax system. While the state corporate tax rate sounds high, the net rate is quite low, as low as ZERO.

I know how the international tax system works due to my time as an international attorney for the Fortune 500 for nearly a decade, setting up international contracts and foreign operations (described in "Better Times Ahead April Fool".) I was sent to over thirty countries in one five-year period―from China to Brazil to Europe and the Middle East—negotiating agreements with other large entities. I’ve now negotiated in over 50 countries. Part of the job meant I had to know international law, tax law and tax treaties—not to mention local culture and the unwritten rules in places like India.  I know how the global business game is played. 
Global business is vital to our future, especially exporting products. Americans don’t realize how much trade between countries creates jobs right here in America. International business generates jobs and income worldwide, both here and overseas. But it has to be a fair and equitable system. Our present one is not. I discovered that Americans missed sales in other countries because of their tariff system that made our goods more expensive. We lost out to companies from countries that did have a trade agreement.  For example, Brazil was buying a $200 million telecommunications project. But companies bidding from Canada did not face a 10% tariff that our companies faced. Why? Because Brazil and Canada had a trade agreement and we did not. So the jobs went to Canada.

Inversions are another tax rip off –basically companies renounce their citizenship even though they don’t change their business presence in a meaningful way. Today, a Halliburton or a Noble Drilling based in Texas can send a couple of people to Dubai, and suddenly they are no longer an “American” company and not subject to U.S. taxes on their income, even though the company building -- and 99% of its employees -- are still sitting in Houston! (However, their employees still here can’t claim an exemption from their taxes.) That tax loss means less for the cities and counties need for roads and schools needed to compete in the global economy.  General Electric made billions, yet paid ZERO taxes.

Is that fair? Does that make sense? 

Another way to generate jobs―and move us towards energy independence― is to improve our energy efficiency. 

America contains five percent of the world's population, yet we use one third of the total energy. Energy efficiency projects like weatherization of our houses and offices would employ vast numbers of Americans and cut our energy use enough to forego the need to build three of four power plants that would otherwise be needed. Congress used to provide a tax credit up to $1,500 to homeowners for making these improvements, but phased them out. They should bring them back.

Energy saved is energy we don’t have to burn and dangerous carbon that doesn’t go into the atmosphere, adding to climate change. At the same time we could "harden" the building envelop to prepare for the more common hurricane-force winds we get even without hurricanes!

This is an area where small businesses could prosper and serve the American market – installing everything from weatherization materials to solar panels on rooftops.  Installing radiant barriers in attics would cut solar heat. Forty percent of a building's energy is lost through its windows, the weakest link of every building. 

Installing newer technologies like Armor Glass security window film would save up to 30% of a building's energy consumption -- and at the same time provide protection from break-ins by burglars and window breach by increasingly powerful tornadoes and hurricanes that lead to roof loss and costly internal damage that can leave a building uninhabitable for months. Substantial jobs would be created.  Insurance claims could be drastically reduced, which would lower premiums. Less down time for repairs would boost our productivity. It’s another win-win for America and our future success! 

 Unfortunately, many Americans are global virgins, with limited travel experience outside their hometown or home state.  How do we lead a world we know nothing about?  If American citizens don't go see what China and Europe are doing, how do they know where America and Americans really stand in the competitive world of technology and global business trends?

In 2016, we have seen a hate-mongering campaign on the GOP side that is staggering. The old GOP used racial ‘dog whistles.’ Mr. Trump dropped the code words for overt racist and sexist statements. First it was "young black men." Then it was about "Mexicans who were rapists" coming across our border (even though net migration is now zero). Then it was barring "Muslims" from America. then it was women as "fat pigs" and a tape where he described how he would "grab them by the p***y). 

We have seen a presidential candidate actually encourage violence at his campaign rallies against protesters. Now he claims the system is "rigged" (by people like him, yes; but not our voting system which is decentralized and controlled by each of the 50 states). 

It's bizarre, like a chapter from fascism in the past. It's all about fear without a solution in sight.  "Believe me" is not an economic plan. It's snake oil. Changing your position to both sides of an issue is not credible, consistent or believable. His "business experience" has been one of bankrupting even casinos, where the odds are stacked in favor of the house! It takes special talent to bankrupt a casino along with Trump University (whose students are now suing him for FRAUD; trial set for this Nov. 28).

America is a diverse country while the GOP has become a party of one (color) that is dying and being replaced by a new America of different colors and religions--all welcomed by the Democratic party.

When I ran for U.S. Senate in 2014 in the democratic primary in a district near Houston, I saw a diverse group that looked like America—gay and straight, black, white and Hispanic, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Christian as well as non-believers.  That is our future. When I ran in 3 GOP primaries starting in 2000-2006, I saw only white people (old ones) at the party meetings. It did not look like the America I saw everyday; the America of our future success.

The point is that America has a diverse population of people from around the world who share our values. Immigrants like these have driven our success the past two centuries and can help us regain our dynamism in the future. Texas is already a “majority minority” state. 

By 2050, the United States as a whole will be a “majority minority” country. Education of all of our people—not a privileged few-- will be critical to maintain our global leadership. Texas already is a majority minority state.  Houston is the epicenter of what America will look like. Check us out - we are rich in diversity, jobs and imagination.

One GOP presidential candidate said it wasn’t important that he know about the world “because he would have advisers for that.” Trump said that he was his own adviser "because I have so many thoughts."  That sounds like a chapter from "Alice in Wonderland." So what happens when those advisors disagree, as they always do? Guess? That kind of guessing cost America over $1 trillion dollars in a “pre-emptive” war with Iraq to eliminate weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. It cost thousands of American lives and left our country poorer as a result.

In fact, Trump's claim that he would authorize our military to shoot Iranians who give our troops "the finger" could kill more of our military in 1 day then we lost in 8 years in Iraq!  How? Google the "Millennium Challenge" wargames of 2002, an imaginary war with Iran.  We lost 16 ships including an aircraft carrier before they called it off. One Chinese made Sunburn missile fired by Iran could wipe out a carrier and its 5,000 crew in a few seconds. This is why you don't want an ignorant man in the oval office.

Global experience in our leadership is vital for our future success. We live in an inescapable global economy. We won’t win by being “dumb and dumber” when it comes to dealing with 200 countries which are becoming more technically advanced because a Republican legislature in Texas won’t even use a Rainy Day fund designed for funding Texas schools to compete in this high-tech global economy.  

According to Bill Hammond of the Texas Business Association only twenty five percent of our kids come out of Texas high schools college ready! How is that a mark of success of Gov. Rick Perry after fourteen years in office, and his GOP replacement Greg Abbott?  I’ve seen it up close and personal,  kids in the family who can’t spell. Then I realized it wasn’t just them. There is a whole generation like them in America. We have to do better because it won’t help them --or our future as a skilled country in the new space age we live in if they don’t have the basic knowledge necessary to become skilled (versus unskilled) labor in this increasingly high-tech world evolving around us.  

Minimum wage jobs flipping burgers won’t feed a family or make life easy if that is all the educational skills our kids achieve. We must allow our talent, even those of all races like who don’t have family money, to go to school. An educated citizenry enriches us all.

I did a series of TV interviews and videos in the ’90s that warned about the potential of a 9/11 happening. Some of it is on YouTube. No one listened, of course.

Why did I have a clue? It was because of my international travels into the Middle East. I was lucky. I saw things few Americans get to see: dozens of countries and their legal systems, customs, and laws.  On one trip I'd be in China; on another I would travel to India or Vienna or London (on business, not as a tourist).  I had to study each system to know the best way to proceed. I found a journal entry I had written which mentioned Saddam Hussein in 1981―nine years before he attacked Kuwait! That knowledge is what I based my 9/11 prediction on. That is the kind of knowledge in Congress that makes a difference between a good decision and a bad one, like starting a war.

Even though all the laws, customs and languages were different, I saw that people are very much the same. That was confirmed again when I ran for Congress in one of the most diverse counties in the nation: Ft. Bend County, Texas. That was in 2000. I went inside mosques, synagogues, and Hindu temples, as well as Catholic, Episcopalian, Lutheran and all kinds of Christian churches.  I heard imams, rabbis and Christian pastors all giving the same lecture: be good, love your family, pray. We have more in common than most people think. If you travel you will find that to be true.  

We have the ingredients for success. We need a global strategy for technology leadership to guarantee American success in the years ahead. 

We won't win the 21st century with thirty-year-old space shuttles, rusting bridges, kids not getting pre-K education and by failing to improve our education and job skills to meet the challenges of an inescapable high-tech global economy and space-age century. 

We need smart strategies and smart investments to win this race.

To win the future we will also have to reform our present political system. Your Congress rep mostly likely sits in gerrymandered districts that make their seats safe from a general election opponent. As a result, our political system encourages the most radical ones the primary - not the type to work across the aisle to fix America's issues. I cover that subject in the chapter "Predicting 911 and Running Against the Hammer" in my book.

We have to reform a system where Congress pays more attention to rich corporations than their voters who aren't handing them big checks. The U.S. Supreme Court, for the first time in American history, because of
Citizens United , has allowed corporations to spend unlimited billions to buy this election to elect the candidate of their choice, allowing them to get more special breaks for themselves.  

The Constitutional principal of “One man one vote” has been gutted by the Robert’s court and replaced with “One corporation, one billion dollars to buy unlimited votes.”  It’s no longer a level playing field for the average American voter who can’t spend billions funding candidates of their choice.

America became great because its best leaders focused on improving life for those who were at the bottom of our economy through means such as the G.I. Bill, Pell Grants, etc. People could bootstrap themselves up with a little help. 

We built the Interstate Highway System and a world leading space agency. We invested in education and training and infrastructure. We were the gold standard of the world. Then we lost our way. Our companies’ outsourced jobs overseas and we let our education system falter. We gave tax incentives to export jobs.  We engaged in unnecessary wars without bothering to pay for them even during the “good times.” 

                                                                        What's next? 

To succeed in current real world, we have to have leaders who know the world well enough to develop winning strategies.  Isolationism is a fatal mistake.

I went to Norway for the first time in May 2011. Despite my having been in some 50 countries before, and reading everything I could on Norway before arriving, I thought I knew what to expect it to be like. When I got there, Norway was nothing like what I had read about! By the end of the trip I knew things I could never have known otherwise. Here's is why that is important.

While there, I discovered how a couple of Norwegians stopped Hitler from getting “heavy water” to make an atomic bomb first. They made a movie about it called “Heroes of Telemark” starring Kick Douglas.  Without the Norwegians stopping that shipment, Hitler could have gotten the A-bomb first and would have won the war instantly.  How would a member of Congress know more if hasn’t “been there, done that”?

Photo: Telemark, Norway - Where the Nazis were making "heavy water" for their A-bomb in WWII. The Allied bombs failed to wipe out the heavy water. It took two Norwegians sabotage teams to blow up the ferry carrying it back to Norway. As told in "Heroes of Telemark" starring Kirk Douglas. I knew none of this until I went to Norway for the first time in 2011 - despite having been in nearly 50 countries. 

Imagine an elected congressman/woman, senator or even president who has never been in Asia, Europe, South America and the Middle East (except perhaps as a tourist or on a junket) pushing the voting buttons in Washington. 

In 2010 nearly eighty Congress reps were elected from places like Frog Jump, Arkansas, whose wife called his government issued Blackberry phone a "Blueberry" because they had never used one or been out of their home state. These reps caused us to lose our No. 1 creditor status by voting against a debt ceiling increase based on mindless politics. That increase was required from prior spending decisions of that same Congress!  One of them, Senator Cruz shutdown our government over people getting access to healthcare like he has, costing us $24 billion. The world has to be laughing at us shooting ourselves by the actions of our own Congress. But no, they aren’t laughing because when we screw up the economy the world pays a heavy price.

The Euro crisis makes the U.S. dollar still the most reliable currency on the planet. To fix the domestic issues we face, we also have to make sure Europe's system becomes more stable. They don’t need a bailout from us; they need to fix their own system.  However, if their barn catches fire the flames will spread to ours. Over 20% of U.S. exports go to Europe. Millions of U.S. jobs are at stake if Europe burns. It is an interconnected world. What happens in the U.S. doesn’t just stay in the U.S. What happens in Europe, and China, will also impact our own economic future. 

Terrorism in Europe can jump the "great pond" to the U.S. if we don't help them. The millions of refugees fleeing death in Syria is now upsetting the stability of western Europe and jeopardizing its security. Putin is making the situation worse by bombing civilians in Syria--he wants to destabilize Europe. Failure to enforce a ‘no fly’ zone in Syria set this disaster in motion. It was Hillary’s suggestion that such a ‘no fly’ zone be established--which would have stopped Assad from dropping barrel bombs on his people, sending millions on the dangerous trek to Europe to escape the slaughter. Hillary was right.  Failure to follow her advice made the situation worse, not better. We cannot isolate from the world and not expect it to bounce back on us. 

Wall Street's hedge funds and phony credit default swaps brought down not just the U.S. financial system, it also crashed the global financial system as Wall Street's worthless paper was brought by pension groups and investors worldwide. It caused every bank in Iceland to go bust. Had President Bush not started TARP (which Obama continued) and all our banks had gone bust like they did in the Great Depression, we would have seen scenes of misery and unemployment in the 50% range.

Americans need smart government, smart roads, smart schools, and smart policies that will get our momentum back. We need a smart, world-wise Congress and a smart, world-wise president with a smart plan to deal with a China, whose economy is the second largest in the world; with Europe, the largest market in the world; with the fiery Middle East; and with our neighbors in South America. China has built its first aircraft carrier. Its basketball team ended up in a fight with the American team, and the Chinese blamed their own team for being too aggressive! 

Ninety-seven percent (97%) of Chinese grade school kids graduate from high school. Eighty percent (80%) of them go to college.  Less than 50% of American kids make it through high school! This must change with a government that builds our people up.

How do we both regain our technological lead and recover from the financial mismanagement of the past decade that put us in this mess? 

We can only do it by using a smart strategy based on real facts, not the nonsense from politicians who got us into this hole starting in 2001. Instead, new textbooks  based on Texas guidelines omit slavery and Jim Crow laws against blacks from our history books. Like radical Islam, radical Christians on the Texas State Board of Education question the principle of separation of church and state which our founders wanted after seeing what happened in England with a state religion. The books even glorify the McCarthy era witch-hunts for suspects “communists.” If any books deserve to be burned, it i these sorry excuses for “education” by the hard right controlling Texas politics and education policies.

If we don't get smart and global fast, we are toast. Stick us with a fork, because we’re done. 

Chinese students are showing up at our universities with perfect 800 math scores.  Our kids still seem to have a culture blowing off the importance of school.  They definitely are experts in celebrity trivia.  We won't win the future on celebrity worship.

At the beginning of the 20th century we couldn’t have competed if we insisted on continuing to make buggy whips when the world moved on to automobiles and put the horses to pasture. Now that the world is entering the space age, we can’t compete by clinging to old technology, like producing oil from dirty tar sands. If the lobbyists of today were in charge in 1900, the buggy whip lobby would make sure we were still driving buggies! Our oil companies today still want their tax subsidies but don’t want the emerging clean energy wind and solar power industries to have the same thing! 

To win we need to invest in education, training, and rebuilding our transportation networks and other infrastructure, and to change our tax laws to make them more fair and equal. 

 We also need to reform our election system. Our current system leaves out the moderate voters who show up in November. The decisions as to who will win a congressional district are made in party primaries in safe districts by a few voters who are hyper-partisans on each side―the type who would rather walk on burning coals then talk to the other side. Gerrymandering is the problem.

To win a seat in a primary, each candidate must run “left of left” or “right of right,” ensuring more extreme candidates are elected to safe districts, making them less willing to compromise to get things done―the opposite of what our Founding Fathers did in starting our great country. These reps are more afraid of a primary challenge than a November challenge by the opposing party. We saw that in 2012 when veteran lawmakers lost to “tea party” types who were so extreme that they ended up losing in the general election. 

We are seeing it in 2016 a celebrity who has never run as a Republican is now the GOP nominee despite never having been elected dogcatcher. It's beyond bizarre. Trump is killing the Republican party. 

Stop the gerrymandering. California and Arizona have removed partisans from drawing district boundary lines, making those races more focused on the vast majority of people in the moderate middle instead of the extreme ends. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme court has upheld this new way of drawing boundaries. Our current districts are mainly drawn by legislators who pick their voters instead of the voters picking them. They pack R’s and D’s into safe districts so that the winner of the party’s primary automatically wins that district in November, cheating the voters out of a real choice. What we need are more centrist, moderate, middle American-type congressional representatives who can work across the aisle for our common good― who also have sufficient global experience to get us back into a strong economy and win the global game. 

We have only one shot at a comeback now that our money and the world’s No. 1 creditor status are gone. It took less than eight years, from 2000 to 2008, to dissipate our wealth built up over 200 years! Obama has been smart and worked to get us to lead technically and economically to get back into the game, with Congress dragging him down by not doing its job.

Now, more than ever, we need vision and purpose. We have the tools for success. The question is whether we will use them or not. It’s up to each of us.  That’s why I started the “Global American” campaign to inform Americans about events in the world that impact our future (see “About the Author”) and ways to succeed. 

Our future depends on who we elect and what we each do to upgrade our skills. The world is rapidly catching up with us.  We can’t succeed by standing still or by not giving it our best. 

That is why I am supporting Hillary Clinton as President in 2016 - one of remaining centrists who the global expertise we need to take us to the next level. She has negotiated in over 100 countries worldwide, meaning she knows what is going on there. Never before have we had such a globally qualified candidate (Bush had been in only 3 countries when he was elected).  

We certainly do not need a candidate who appeals to racism, sexism and nationalistic whites-only fascism, as Trump has. Even Mr. Cruz has called for racial profiling of Muslims. Both candidates would increase terrorism in America and the world by their words and actions, not diminish it. 

Nor do we need more voodoo economics from the GOP, Mr. Cruz and Trump.  THAT is what got us into a deep financial hole we must dig out of.

In closing, I ask you to once again remember Proverbs 29: 18: "Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  

For America's sake, we need that vision. I believe the only party willing to offer this vision is the Democratic party.  Pass it On...!                                                

 About the Author

Michael Fjetland (“Fetland”) grew up on a farm in Iowa, moved to Texas at 15, and began his career as an in-house attorney for two Texas Fortune 500 companies and led negotiations in over 50 countries since the 1970’s. 

Since a layoff in the Great Texas Oil Bust of the 1980’s, Michael has been an entrepreneur domestically and internationally.  During the first Gulf War he predicted 911 on TV.  In the 90's he produced a video with a weapons expert from the Reagan administration about the potential of a 9/11 attack entitled: "Nuclear Terrorism: Could It Happen Here?" (available on YouTube, search "Michael Fjetland")
On 911, he served for a few years as a 911 terrorism analyst on Houston TV. He has been a speaker on global threats, issues and opportunities from Washington, DC to South Africa.  Michael is also a licensed pilot and after 9/11 flew search and rescue missions with the Civil Air Patrol, which is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.

Today, Michael continues his security work as founder and CEO of Armor Glass International, Inc., a company that installs security film on glass to armor it from shooters, hurricanes, burglars, tornadoes and solar heat.  Glass failure is what leads to structure collapse in high wind events--and is easily penetrated by intruders. Its a 21st century carbon negative “Green+Security” technology that saves enough energy to pay for itself. (Details at:
Take a ride with Michael on this 7 minute video on the Fastest Train in the World - China's 265 miles per hour. 

Then ask yourself: "We Used to Do Great Things Like That; Why Aren't We Doing it Now?"    Look at what we are up against. Take a 7 minute ride with me on the fastest train in the world - hovering on magnets not touching steel...
For Michael’s updates on Current  Global events that impact your Future,  "Like" Global American values on Facebook at this link.

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Agenda for American Greatness was developed from the global experiences of the author, Michael Fjetland, BBA/JD, detailed in "Better Times Ahead April Fool"(looking back at the future of America). Time warp around the world the last 30 years and experience vicariously some bizarre adventures that gave the author a front row seat to the complex global gamesmanship between America and the world -- a magic carpet ride for less than the cost of a Starbuck's coffee.