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Here’s an e-mail I sent out to my contact list.  If you’re reading this blog, consider it addressed to you.

Friends, acquaintances, and people I’ve made eye contact with,

            I e-mailed you a couple of months ago regarding a book I’ve been working on.  I asked you to contribute to the Indiegogo campaign I started to raise publication expenses.  To be honest, I like asking for people about as much as having dental surgery.  However, some of you were nice enough or believed in the project enough to contribute, and I thank you. 

Now that I’m very close to a finished manuscript, I’ll soon meet with my publisher, the Dietz Press in Petersburg, to work out the details of getting the book published and in stores.

            Here’s where I need your help again (writing is a humbling process).  My publisher wants a list of people who will commit to purchase the book.  My publisher is concerned about losing money.  If enough people sign up to purchase books, that issue is off the table, and we can move forward.  The first edition of the book will be paperback and should cost under $20.     

            If you agree to put your name on the list of book purchasers, here’s what you get.

 1.   I will personally sign your book.  I will even try to do it legibly.  Your friends and family will be impressed 

    1. You will be helping to get the message out about citizens taking back the power and responsibilities of real self-government.  Assuming the book has the impact I’m believing for, we’ll be a nation of better citizens who solve the problems the government has been working on for a few generations now.      

     I can’t guarantee this, but I will talk to the publisher about a discounted price.

 If you’d like more information about the book, here are some sources.

 

The book’s website address is http://www.power2thepeoplebookc.ipage.com/

 

The Indiegogo campaign is at www.indiegogo.com.  Search campaigns using “Power to the People.”  You’ll see one with my name on it.  The picture is a flower.  A few people have contributed to the campaign, but more have sent a check directly to me.  If you’d like to contribute, I wouldn’t be upset.  I still need close to $3000 for layout, cover design, and swag for contributions.  I’ll honor the swag commitments on Indiegogo.  I do have a business entity for the book and a business checking account, so I keep the book’s finances separate from my personal finances.

 

I’ve attached the first few chapters the way they will look professionally laid out as a pdf file.  They’ve been cleaned up since that layout, but you’ll get the general idea.    To the 100 Percent is an old title.  

 

Lastly, if you do decide to purchase a book now, the only thing I put on the list will be your name and e-mail address.  I will not sell or rent the list to anybody.  I will show it to the publisher so that he will know that you are real people.  
Feel free to forward this e-mail to anybody you think might be interested.

Thanks,

Craig

If you’d like your name on the list, send me an e-mail at craigcomess@yahoo.com

I finally did it.  I set up the Indiegogo campaign to fund publishing expenses for Power to the People (Really).  I’ve been working on this book for over two and a half years.  Go to Indiegogo.com and search under Craig Comess  or Power to the People to check out the campaign.  You can also read a few sample chapters in the post right before this one (“Power to the People”).  If you like what you see, contribute to the campaign so that I can get the book published.

There’s also a website for the book.  The address is below.  It is very basic.  I’d love to hear suggestions on how to make it better or criticisms of glaring errors.

http://power2thepeoplebookc.ipage.com/

Here’s what I hope is a copy of the PowerPoint video from the Indiegogo campaign.  It looks a lot better here.

 

file:///C:/Users/User/Documents/Indiegogo%20Video%20Pitch.pptx

Power to the People

If anybody is wondering why I haven’t updated the blog for over a month now (anybody?  anybody at all?), it’s because I’ve been finishing my book Power to the People:  It’s Time.  Between teaching full time and working on the book, I just haven’t had time to do the blog.  I’ve got to get the book finished soon in order to get it published by June when I can use summer vacation to market it.  However, because of the deal I’m working out with a small local publisher, I’ll be paying for the copyediting, layout, cover design, and much of the initial marketing.  This is not a vanity publisher, but I’m an unknown author, so they’re taking no chances.  In fact, I’ve got to pre-sell hundreds of books before they’ll publish it.  Sigh.  The publisher can, however, get the book into local chain and independent bookstores.

To that end, I’m setting up a crowd-sourcing campaign on Indiegogo.  For those who don’t know, crowd-sourcing is asking people to contribute funds for the expenses of a project.  I will have to do written and video pitches explaining the project.   As part of the pitch, I’m including a link to some sample chapters.  I’m developing a website for the book, but the econo-platform I’m using won’t allow me to embed a Word file.  WordPress allows that, so here it is.

When I’m finished setting up the website, I’ll do a post on it and include a link.  When the Indiegogo campaign is set up, I’ll do the same.  If you like what you see, please contribute and sign up for a pre-sale copy.  Also, I need you to share the posts and links to the website and campaign.  l will have some swag (bumper stickers?  bookmarks? tee-shirts?  copies of the book?) for those who contribute.  I’ve got to work out the costs (printing and mailing) to see what I can do.

Thanks for your help.

Power to the People Sample Chapters

A co-worker told me I was right today, and I wish I was wrong.

We got one of the last paychecks of the year.  We also got an e-mail explaining that our checks would reflect the 2014 health and dental insurance rates as our employer pays a month in advance.   Merry Christmas to us.

If my situation is typical, our health insurance now costs $40 more a paycheck ($80 a month, $960 a year).  Our co-pays and deductibles have also increased.

My co-worker said that I predicted this situation five years ago.

This should have been obvious to anybody who can do math and understands basic economics.  If 30 million more people are supposed to purchase or otherwise receive health insurance, and the number of insurers and health professionals doesn’t increase, then the cost of health insurance and health care will go up.  It’s called the law of supply and demand, a law that no government policy can eliminate.   Also, if health insurance is supposed to provide more “free” services, whether we want them or not (my household receives invitations to join the AARP; we don’t need free birth control), those requirements also increase the cost.

The government has decided that we must purchase those services as part of my insurance whether we want them or not.  Apparently, we’re too stupid to figure out what we need our health insurance to pay for.

The government has also decided that it doesn’t matter that my insurance premiums increase.  They can decide better how I can spend that not quite $1000 a year than I can.

This has been the progressives’ attitude regarding mandatory health insurance for decades.  When Hillary Clinton was pushing Hillarycare in the early ’90s, she remarked, “We just think people will be too focused on saving money and they won’t get the care for their children and themselves that they need.”*  Government always knows better than the citizen.  It has to make these decisions for us.

Obama sold the Affordable Care Act (appreciate the irony?) as a way to “bend the cost curve down.”  The average American family, he said, would save an average of $2500 a year in health insurance premiums.  President Obama was either lying or clueless when he repeatedly declared those savings as fact.

However, since we’re too stupid to know what health insurance we need, we need to leave those decisions in the hands of people who either have lied to us or don’t understand health care economics.

I still wish I was wrong.  But if I was, and the insurance premiums went down, the progressives would see a better way to spend that money than we could.  They would need to raise our taxes because, as 1990s Hillary Clinton said, “The money has to go to the federal government because the federal government will spend that money better.”

*Thanks for the quote, Holman Jenkins and George Will.

No Political Saviors

Unless somebody has been hiding under a rock, there is no way we can’t know that President Obama did not tell the truth about being able to keep our health insurance coverage if we liked it.   Millions have already had their insurance cancelled.  I’d like to think that President Obama didn’t lie but was making a promise he didn’t have the power to keep.  The general concensus, however, seems to be that he lied.  Leonard Pitts, a columnist for the Miami Herald and an Obama supporter, says that very plainly in the article I’ve given the link to below.

Why should we be surprised?   President Obama is an imperfect human being, just like all of the other presidents we’ve had.  It looks like he’s been dishonest, as so many other presidents were.  Just like the rest of us, President Obama has a number of faults.

President Obama’s sinful human nature contradicts the portrait painted by some in the media and held by many of his supporters of Obama as the perfect president who can do no wrong.  We can look at all of the other presidents in history and see their flaws.  Think backwards to Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Ford, Carter, Nixon, Johnson, and Kennedy.  Some were better than others, but there were no examples of sinless perfection among them.  Kennedy didn’t push as hard for civil rights as he should have.  Reagan failed to veto Congress’s budget deficits and approved several increases in our debt ceiling.  George H.W. Bush broke his pledge on no new taxes with a snarky “read my hips” remark.

President Obama’s failure to tell the truth should remind us that no president and nobody else holding or seeking elective office is the second coming of Christ.  They’re just men and women who may be able to operate our government a bit more effectively.   They can’t save the country from all of its problems.  In other words, they can’t save us from ourselves, the ones who have caused most of the country’s problems.  Only one Christ can and will do that.  At that point, we’ll have concerns larger than politics on our minds.  In the meantime, I recommend that we forgive President Obama, continue to pray for him, and work for or against his policies as we see their merits and defects.  Also, soul searching and repentance on our part would do more to fix America’s problems than any politician can.

http://www.timesdispatch.com/opinion/their-opinion/columnists-blogs/leonard-pitts/pitts-mr-president-you-lied/article_cc5095fa-3a8a-5d81-a73d-fc036f10cb4f.html

Republican Dirty Tricks?

The Obamacare rollout has been a disaster.  Whose fault is it?  Did the Obama administration hire an incompetent company to design the website?  Was there not enough testing?  Did the Obama administration push for a rollout even though they knew that the website would be dysfunctional?

Here’s one I hadn’t heard.   Did the Republicans somehow manage to defund the construction of the website, and it had to be built on a shoe string?  I was told that NPR did a report on the legislation.  I couldn’t find it on the website.  I did see a report that the Republican-controlled House would not give funds in addition to those already approved.  If this is the case, why haven’t the Democrats publicized it?

If the truth is that the Republicans deliberately underfunded the website construction, I don’t appreciate that kind of political tactic.  It’s dishonest.  Obamacare is failing and will continue to fail badly without any help from the Republicans.   By fail, I mean in terms of making health insurance more affordable or health care more accessible.  We’ve only begun to see how much and how fast health insurance and medical care will grow more expensive.

On the other hand, if the Obama administration did not request enough funding for construction of the website, it would be yet more evidence of their incompetence and inability to make health care affordable and available to all.

If anybody has any documentation show whose fault the Obamacare rollout is, I’d like to hear about it.

Redskins Deadskins II

As a Redskins fan, I currently hang my head in shame.  Not because of their name, but because they have been losing so much. One and four?  Really?

But again, exactly why are Native Americans and so many in the media now pressuring Daniel Snyder to change the name? When was Redskin ever used as a pejorative by anybody not a Cowboys fan?

Seriously, where in literature or recorded history has “redskin” ever been used as a racial slur?  Was it in James Fenimore Cooper’s novels?  If so, nobody should take what Cooper said seriously because he knew almost nothing about Indian or frontier culture.  Check out Mark Twain’s “The Literary Sins of James Fenimore Cooper” to see how clueless he was.

When has “redskin” ever been the equivalent of “nigger,” “kike,” “spic,” “dago,” “gook,” or any other name that well-intentioned people do not use in general conversation or as fightin’ words?  I’ve never read a news story or historical account when somebody said, “that stinkin’ redskin!”  If I’m wrong, will somebody show me some examples?

Also, how can a professional football team using a name not the Cowboys be an insult?  Look at the names of the other 31 NFL teams.

Under animal names, we have Eagles, Bears, Bengals, Lions, Bills, Falcons, Panthers, Jaguars, Rams, Ravens, Dolphins, Seahawks, Broncos, Cardinals, and Colts.  Most of those animals are not what one would prefer to share a cage with. Dolphins seem nice, but enough of them can beat sharks to death.  Colts, as adolescent male horses, are capable of inflicting severe injury.  Ravens eat dead animals raw, so that qualifies them as muis macho.   According to the National Geographic Society, male cardinals can be very aggressive defending their territory.

People names include Steelers, Patriots, Vikings, Packers, Buccaneers, Saints, Cowboys, Texans, 49ers, Raiders, and Chiefs. The Raiders, Buccaneers, and Vikings, while not to be admired as criminals, are fierce.   The Steelers and Packers represent tough factory workers.  The Patriots are named after the first American army to kick Britain’s behind.  Texans don’t sound like wimps.

Then there are the miscellaneous names:  the Giants, Jets, Browns, Titans, and Chargers.  Giants and Titans are powerful mythological beings.  Jets are the bad boys of aircraft.  Chargers represent electrical power, which can kill people.  The Browns were named after a great Ohio football coach, Paul Brown, whom I assume was not a gutless wonder.

Each of these teams was named after something that people admire.  How is naming a football team after Native Americans by a term nobody has shown to be insulting an insult?  Why waste so much time and effort on changing a football team’s name that can only be a compliment?

Here’s my answer.  It’s a lot easier to fix a non-problem than to fix a real problem.

Native Americans have a lot of very real and stubborn problems.  Unemployment.  Alcoholism.  Poverty.  Drug addiction. Violence.  Low life expectancy.   Palash Ghosh in the International BusinessTimes reports that Native Americans have an alcoholism rate “six times the U.S. average.”  NBC reported that 11.7 percent of Native American deaths are alcohol-related, as opposed to 3.3 percent for all Americans.    The U.S. Census Bureau says that the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has an 80 percent unemployment rate.   According to the Huffington Post, as of 2009, Native American teens had the highest rates of drug addiction among all ethnicities.

These might seem like isolated statistics, but have Indian reservations ever been known as places of health, economic prosperity, and social harmony?

Are conditions horrible at every reservation?  Not necessarily.  Sharon Schmickle in thein the Minnesota Post reports that casinos have made a sizable dent in the unemployment rate on several Minnesota reservations and have even taught basic job skills to Native Americans who had been dependent on government welfare for decades.

Nevertheless, Native Americans, especially those living on reservations, still experience more substance abuse, poverty, health problems, and unemployment than almost every other ethnic group in America.  Changing the Redskins’ name to the Warriors or some other  non-controversial name won’t decrease alcohol abuse or increase employment on Indian reservations.  Even with the Redskins’ current lousy record for the season (which is still early, I might add), I have a hard time imagining a Native American adolescent seeing an RGIII jersey become so discouraged about life that he starts using crack.  Is an unemployed, alcoholic middle-aged Sioux saying to himself, “If only those Redskins would change their name, I’d put this bottle down and apply for a job”?

Those who are currently badgering Daniel Snyder could better spend their time starting Alcoholics Anonymous chapters, drug treatment centers, first class schools, and small business incubators on Indian reservations.  They would make an actual difference in Indian lives.  They wouldn’t be able to shout to the world that they pressured the Redskins into changing their name and toast champagne (probably a bad idea) over it, but fewer Native American children would grow up in poverty with a family history of alcoholism.

Day Seven of the Government “Shutdown”-The Department of Education has been closed for seven days, but somehow I managed to teach ninth and tenth graders basic parts of speech and some grammatical applications of them.  But how long can I keep doing this without federal guidance?

Okay, that was sarcastic, but the Department of Education invites sarcasm.  Ask a teacher.  However, enough of that for the moment.

Has anybody noticed that we’re still a civilized nation?  The closing of the non-essential government departments and agencies has shown us that they are, in fact, non-essential.  Congress should look at shuttering some of them permanently to save taxpayer dollars.   It would give us more time to reform Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid before we can’t pay for them.

This isn’t making light of the furloughed federal employees’ situation.  They’ll get their back pay.  Congress has already authorized that.  Still, unless they have some savings or some credit cards with very low balances, their finances will be strained for a bit, more than strained if the standoff continues.

Some may say, “Things aren’t so bad now.  Just wait until the debt ceiling isn’t raised and we can’t borrow any more money.  For the first time, America will default on its debts.  Economic chaos will result.”

That’s what the media has told us.  Is that true?

According to Senator Rand Paul, the Treasury receives about $250 billion dollars a month in revenue, which works out to about $3 trillion a year.  The Heritage Foundation estimates a little less at $234 billion a month for a total of $2.813 trillion.

To service our debt costs us about $30 billion a month.  That seems doable without borrowing any more money.  That would leave $204 billion a month in revenue.  Social Security and Medicare cost $952.5 billion in 2012.  Round that up to a trillion dollars, and it works out to about $83.5 billion dollars a month, leaving $120.5 billion a month.  The Department of Defence requested $527.5 billion in financing for Fiscal Year 2014, which works out to about $43.875 billion a month, leaving $76.625 billion.

$76.625 billion a month sounds like a lot of money, at least to me.  The reality is that after paying our mandated and essential expenses, if we couldn’t borrow any more money, we’d have to make some tough choices.  The states might receive less money for education.  Welfare programs might have to be trimmed.   We wouldn’t be able to bail out as many giant, mismanaged companies.  We wouldn’t be able to fund as much scientific research or build as many federal courthouses.  We might have to scale back Obamacare.

Again, this is not to make light of the real suffering people endure if we stopped borrowing money.  People will lose their jobs.  Some people will lose or have fewer welfare benefits.  The economy will be affected.

However, the United States does not have to default on its debts if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling.  We can still pay our financial obligations and provide essential government services.  Beyond that, we’d be forced to make some real and painful choices in terms of what we can afford and what we can’t.

This is the issue we’ve been avoiding for decades.  We could have as many federal programs as we want, as long as we could borrow the money for them.  If Congress doesn’t act, that would no longer be the case.  But we could still pay our debts.

I’m not much of a math guy, so maybe I’m misunderstanding something.   The Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act went into effect October 1.  On that day, I received notice from my employer that my health insurance premiums were increasing by 18 percent.

I do understand English pretty well, having been an English teacher for going on 18 years.  The word “affordable,” as I understand it, means “able to be afforded” or, more simply, “able to be comfortably paid for.”  The idea is that if something is affordable, the average person should be able to pay for it without straining the budget.

When the Affordable Care Act was being debated, we were told by its supporters that it would make health care more affordable.  In other words, it would be easier to pay for.

I recall President Obama saying that the average family’s health care costs would decrease by $2500.  My family is pretty average.  I’m a teacher, and my wife is an accountant.  But my health insurance costs will increase by $1200, and some of the co-pays and co-insurance will also increase.  The $100 hospitalization co-pay, for example, will increase to a $100 per day.

How is increasing the cost of something making it more affordable?  How is a $1200 increase a $2500 decrease?

Is this government math, the math that says a decrease in an anticipated increase in spending is a spending cut?  Was my insurance projected to go up by $3700 this year (56 percent), and the Affordable Care Act cut the increase by $2500?  I’ve never had an increase like that before.  Why would it go up that much this year when it hadn’t any other year?

President Obama also used the phrase “bending the cost curve down.”  How is the cost curve going down when the costs are going up?  Are we supposed to think that when costs are going up that they are going down?

It reminds me of a scene in 1984.  Winston Smith is imprisoned and undergoing reeducation with the help of electric shock therapy.  One of his tasks is to see three fingers when his teacher, O’Brien, is showing only two.  After enough shocks, Smith is able to see the three fingers.  Are we supposed to look at an increase and see a decrease?   I’m having a hard time visualizing that.

Like I said, I’m not a math guy.  Can anybody out there explain to me how making something more expensive makes it more affordable?      

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