Archive for August, 2013

Captain Rick: Walmart, the world’s largest corporation turns everything it touches into gold, whereas  the U.S. government has succeeded in breaking almost every good program created … and the U.S. economy.

I suggest we hire Walmart to fix the mess that our President and Legislature have demonstrated they are totally incapable of accomplishing.

My email to President Obama:

Mr. President,

I have concluded that you and the 535 members of our legislature are ineffective and incapable of fixing our economy and the many good programs that have been broken. I have a solution, but first I want to remind you of some facts which relate to the many failures of your administration and those that preceded:

a. The U.S. Postal Service was established in 1775. You have had 238 years to get it right and it is broke.

b. Social Security was established in 1935. You have had 78 years to get it right and it is broke.

c. Fannie Mae was established in 1938. You have had 75 years to get it right and it is broke.

d. War on Poverty started in 1964. You have had 49 years to get it right; $1 trillion of our money is confiscated each year and transferred to “the poor” and they only want more…and it is broke.

e. Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965. You have had 48 years to get it right and they are broke.

f. Freddie Mac was established in 1970. You have had 43 years to get it right and it is broke.

g. The Department of Energy was created in 1977 to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. It has ballooned to 16,000 employees with a budget of $24 billion a year and we import more oil than ever before. You had 36 years to get it right and it is an abysmal failure…and it is broke.

You have failed to fix any of the many government service failures, while overspending our tax dollars to drive America $17 trillion into debt, an amount exceeding the combined debt of all other nations on earth.

AND YOU WANT AMERICANS TO BELIEVE YOU CAN BE TRUSTED WITH A GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM?

Lets pause and examine an American corporation that has a track record of turning everything it touches into gold.

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Photo above shows Walmart’s current logo used since 2008

Walmart was founded by Sam Walton in 1962…when I was in high school, just before the birth of Medicare and Medicaid. Since then the Walton family transformed it into the world’s largest corporation with $469 Billion in revenue, 8500 stores in 15 countries with 2,200,000 employees.

If Walmart were a country it would have the world’s 26th largest GDP…but more importantly, it would be the world’s most profitable country…unlike the U.S. which goes $1 Trillion farther into debt each year, with all of its programs on ‘death row’.

I love my country and hate to see you and our legislature destroying it. With all sincerity, I respectfully urge you to consider hiring Walmart to manage America’s failing economy and programs. But, I think that if that were to happen, the Walton’s would fire you and most of the legislature.

Captain Rick

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Captain Rick: The Space Shuttle is history, but not the excitement of new space machines. This launch of the massive 3-booster Delta-IV Heavy rocket, with the capability of placing a 25-ton payload into orbit, introduces the ability to visually identify the make and model of a vehicle from 250 miles up. 

Remember those movies where satellites could zoom in and see what is going on down on earth? It has all been science fiction…until now.  If all goes well, that fiction will take a bold step towards reality with this launch.

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Today’s inspiring launch was the second for this new 232-foot-tall monster rocket machine from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The first was in January 2011. A new era has begun.

Details about the satellite, designated NROL-65, are classified. The three-booster Delta-IV rocket used to send it aloft Wednesday is the heaviest in the U.S. inventory, capable of putting a 25-ton payload into low Earth orbit.

Todays launch was one of two launches the top-secret National Reconnaissance Office has on the books for late 2013.

The payload in Wednesday’s launch is thought to be a $1-billion high-powered spy satellite capable of snapping pictures detailed enough to distinguish the make and model of an automobile hundreds of miles below.

The 232-foot-tall booster was developed by the U.S. Air Force and the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Captain Rick: Gordon Ray is a chief research investigator for NNCIA, a group of citizens working to prevent Gilbert Arizona from adopting unnecessary 2012 ICC Building Codes into law. He presents guest commentary on this important subject facing Gilbert and thousands of cities across America. Gordon is a leader of liberty that people from all cities across America and beyond should pay attention to.

Guest Commentary

by

Gordon Ray

Gilbert, Arizona

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To all Defenders of Freedom of Choice and Liberty,

The town management of Gilbert, AZ came up with several reasons that they felt the town council should adopt the 2012 ICC Building Codes into law before any of the councilmen had a chance to even read them.
The ICC 2006 codes were adopted on November 13, 2007 with no discussion from council. The following statement was also adopted at the same time!

Any person found guilty of violating any provision of this Ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) or by
imprisonment for a period not to exceed six (6) months, or both such fine and imprisonment. Each day that a violation continues shall be a separate offence punishable as herein described.

A group of concerned citizens found out about the plan and they started to do some research into town management’s reason for adoption of the 2012 ICC codes. The result of the research has been enlightening, to say the least! The citizens group found out, through their research, that every single reason for adoption presented by town management, in their opinion, was flawed.

The town management continued to press for adoption. The citizens group began an education campaign to gain support for their movement to make the codes voluntary (per the ICC preface page) except for structural items and
life/safety items.

As the citizen’s group studied, they found out that the ICC is just a non-profit group of businessmen with ties directly to the executive branch of the federal government! Did anyone pay attention when President Obama proclaimed March as "National Building Code Month"? These men found out that they can make a lot of money by stacking committees to approve certain building products that would then be listed in the codes they wrote. These men would then sell their code books to town and city councils and get the councils to pass the codes into law for them!
Once the codes were law, their products would be mandated for use by every builder and would then make millions for the code writers and their people.

It appears that all towns and cities think that they need to adopt the latest codes for "status reasons" so that they do not look as being "backwards" to other communities. With that apparent mindset by the town of Gilbert, the citizens group came up with 3 amendments to be added to the adoption of the 2012 ICC codes that would limit the enforcement of the codes to important items only.
They are as follows:
Amendment #1 – Omit the Energy and Green Code completely (must not be adopted as optional).
Amendment #2 – Restrict enforcement of the ICC codes to the existing plan review and inspection checklists, which are already in place. These existing checklists can be reviewed, amended, and updated as needed by the Town Council. With only the important code items being enforced, it makes for more consistency in plan reviews and especially in field inspections. (not to mention the reduction of the time involved reviewing plans and making inspections.) 
Amendment #3 – Establish an ongoing review process to identify and remove mandates that are not life/safety.
Our group feels that the important life/safety issues were addressed and implemented many years ago in previous codes. They have now become common practice. We propose keeping those items in place. We do not see a need to become "more safe" with thousands of dollars of useless codes adopted every three years! We do not feel in danger when we enter an older home or building that was built under the former outdated ICC code or any other code for that matter.

Here are some questions to consider when you think that we NEED to be on the latest and greatest codes:
When you made the decision to buy the home you are in now, did you for even one second consider the "code" the home was built under in making that decision? Or, did you think, because this is an older home, is this home going to be a safe home for my kids? Or did you just think "how will this home serve my family’s needs"? Knowing full well that you could add or change anything you want to make the home serve the needs of your family after you moved in.
We want safe homes like everyone else! We do not want to be forced to buy products or to be mandated, by law, to install all the unnecessary items that should be optional in a "free market"  that are now called out in the ever-changing ICC family of codes.

Gordon
For more information on this subject, visit: http://www.nonewcodes.com/

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Guest Commentary

Captain Rick: ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL celebrates 5000 hits from 50 countries in its first year of blogging. Sincere thanks to all readers, followers and especially those who placed their voice in a comment on one or more posts.

Our world faces many serious challenges. Its chances for survival will only improve if YOU make your voice heard. ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL offers a quality means for you to do so.

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As I look back over the first year of this journey, I recall the endless field of ‘butterflies’ I had in my ‘stomach’ when I energized this blog last September. Thanks to you, my ‘butterflies’ were replaced with ‘eagles’ of confidence.

Based on the amazing achievements of the first year … which have almost left me speechless (but not quite), I wonder what awaits in the second year. I welcome YOU to follow OUR journey to discover the excitement that lies ahead.

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Captain Rick: The Dow Jones plummeted 2.4% during the past month, attributed in part by the news of Cisco cutting 4000 jobs and Wal-Mart sales falling short of expectation. This combined with the growing violence in Egypt caused major world markets to follow the Dow’s decline.

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The above chart shows the significant, recent decline of the Down Jones, down 2.4% in the past month. It is the largest dive in values in 2 months and one of the top 5 declines since the market crash of 2008. I break down the issues affecting this loss…

Cisco, the worlds largest network company providing services to most of the largest companies and government entities announced it is cutting 4000 jobs.  Cisco touches all parts of the networking process, and the company’s success is largely tied to sentiment about the world’s economy. Many large businesses and government agencies are Cisco customers, and they’re unlikely to buy up networking equipment when they’re worried about the economic situation. I see this as a major signal that the world economy is in much more dire shape than what we are being led to believe from the typical ‘show business hype’ on the evening news. World markets are echoing the concern.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, reported lower than expected sales for the second quarter. When the world cuts back on purchases at Wal-Mart, it raises a red flag for me.  It makes me wonder how healthy the recovery from the Great Recession really is.

Disturbance in Egypt has caused over 400 deaths and 3500 injured. While most of financial market ‘gurus’ did not mention this as one of the causes of the recent market plummet, I believe it played a role.

The major economies of the world continue to tread on very shaky ground. There has been lots of news about our ‘improving economy’. I suggest that much of this is based on unfounded news ‘hype’. Our world’s economy is like a train riding on fragile rail, heading for the edge of the ‘Global Fiscal Cliff’.

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Captain Rick: The Council of Gilbert, Arizona will vote Thursday on the controversial issue of adopting ICC’s 2012 building codes. Local builders say adoption of this code upgrade is forcing elevated costs because of non-life-safety standards, especially ‘energy-saving’ and ‘green’ ones, which ultimately end up being passed to the home buyers.

I believe the ICC is a ‘money hungry’, ‘union-like’ organization that is on track to become the world’s “Big Brother”…being fueled by our local government’s sensation for being a blind follower and investor of citizen tax dollars in ‘blind waste’. I despise the ICC sucking in my fellow Gilbert citizens as victims. Other cities, states and countries should pay close attention to this so that they do not also become victims of the ICC “Big Brother”.

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I consider this an extremely important issue…one of the most important in my 16 years as a Gilbert citizen.

I share with you an email I sent to the Town Council of Gilbert, Arizona today:

Mayor John Lewis and Councilmembers,

I urge you to reject approval of incorporation of the 2012 ICC Code into Gilbert building code law, unless amended as follows

I urge you to approve an amendment to eliminate or make voluntary the ‘Green’ and ‘Energy-saving’ sections of the code.

While these sections contain some good ideas and new technology, they also contain some bad ideas and technology that is already obsolete. I offer the case of the CFL bulb as a prime example. It is stipulated in the 2012 ICC code, yet this technology is already obsolete, proven to be a ‘waste hazardous’ detriment to our land fills. CFL lighting is rapidly being overtaken by LED lighting. A few short years ago all of the HDTV sets in the world were back lit by CFL lighting. That is all history. Solid state LED lighting has totally taken over the HDTV industry. The same is rapidly taking place in the home lighting arena. This is just one example of outdated technology stipulated in the 2012 ICC code.

If ICC is paying attention, I suspect we will see them catch up and incorporate LED technology in the 2015 code. The important point I make is that technology is expanding at a far greater speed than the intelligence of the ‘old world idiots’ at ICC. To make any of their ‘green’ and ‘energy-saving’ technology mandatory, would be like taking a chain an wrapping it around the legs of our builders. The ONLY intelligent way to keep up with the rapidly expanding world of technology is to make all of this ‘stuff’ voluntary. Lets let technology be the driver…not some archaic set of outdated ICC code.

Think what would have happened to HDTVs if America let the ICC dictate how HDTVs were designed and built. We would be living in the dark ages. Its time to loosen the reigns of government and let the professionals take control (none of which reside at the ‘money hungry, union-like’ ICC). It will produce a lot finer America.

I would like to see Gilbert set a shining example for the world to view…how we do things right…not by following other communities that have lost the ability to think and innovate…needing to incorporate ‘caveman’ technology as presented by the ICCs ‘Green’ and ‘Energy-saving’ codes.

I also believe it would be of great benefit for Gilbert to create a new commission of volunteers to help mold future Gilbert building code law. I envision this commission to be on a similar level of or at least an extension of our planning commission. Perhaps they could be assigned the task of wading thru the massive, mile-high, mountain of ICC codes and determine what is really good for Gilbert.

It is no secret that I am not fond of the ICC, a union-like, not-for-profit corporation that is using its vast wealth to become our world’s ‘Big Brother’. I see the citizens of Gilbert lie among its endless sea of victims.

By making these codes voluntary, it gives builders extra options, but does not obligate them to suffer losses realized from bad and often outdated code. Gilbert code should stipulate code which primarily promotes life safety. It should not mandate energy efficiency or green technology…but rather encourage the ideas as voluntary.

For increased understanding of ICC Building Codes, please read my series of posts on ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/building-codes/

Captain Rick

View the minutes of this historic Gilbert Town Council meeting in the first comment below. 

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Captain Rick: Detroit was once the 4th largest city in America and ‘motor capitol’ of the world. Decades of internal destruction caused a mass exodus of people, reducing its population to 18th place. Its automotive manufacturing plants have been shut down or relocated. What went so wrong?

I conducted in-depth research on this important event. I have compiled the following report to accurately present the ‘Rise and Fall of Detroit’ and what went so wrong. I conclude with sobering concerns for all Americans, especially those who have the responsibility of managing our cities and states…many of which are on the same course as Detroit.

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The above photo of the GM building in downtown Detroit was taken with a telephoto lens looking southeast from Bush and Watson Streets, about 1.5 miles to its northwest. The large area around this boarded up house contains similar houses and open area where old houses have been removed. 

The Rise and Fall of Detroit

Ford Motor Company ignited the rise in 1903

In 1903 Ford founded the Ford Motor Company. Ford’s manufacturing—and those of automotive pioneers William C. Durant, the Dodge brothers, Packard, and Walter Chrysler—reinforced Detroit’s status as the world’s automotive capital.

Labor Unions took control with strikes for increased wages, benefits, pensions

With the factories came high-profile labor unions such as the American Federation of Labor & the United Auto Workers which initiated strikes & other tactics in support of such things as the 8-hour day/40-hour work week, healthcare benefits, pensions, increased wages & improved working conditions. The labor activism during those years increased influence of union leaders in the city such as Jimmy Hoffa of the Teamsters and Walter Reuther of the autoworkers.

Mergers helped companies expand elsewhere, while causing the disappearance of plants in Detroit … often to escape the profit robbing effects of labor unions

Mergers in the 1950s, especially in the automobile sector increased oligopoly in the American auto industry. Detroit auto manufacturers such as Packard & Hudson merged into other companies and eventually disappeared. Plants in Detroit, with heavy union control, were closed as new plants were built elsewhere in less union-friendly locations. Behind the scenes, it can be said that labor unions played the first major role in the fall of Detroit

Detroit became America’s fourth largest city as companies looked to reduce labor costs by importing cheap labor from the South

Tens of thousands flocked to Detroit with the hope of better pay and benefits, particularly black workers from the Southern United States. It resulted in Detroit rocketing to become the fourth largest city in the United States with blacks as its majority residents.

Racial tension took hold to begin the Fall of Detroit

Social tensions rose with the rapid pace of growth. On January 20, 1942, with a cross burning nearby, 1,200 racist whites tried to prevent black families from moving into a new housing development in an all-white area of the city. Later in June 1943, Packard Motor Car Company promoted three blacks to work next to whites in their assembly lines. In response, 25,000 whites walked off the job. The Detroit Race Riot of 1943 occurred 3 weeks after the Packard Motor Car incident. Over the course of three days, 34 people were killed. Of them, 25 were African–American, and approximately 600 were injured.

In June 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a major speech in Detroit that foreshadowed his "I Have a Dream" speech in Washington, D.C. two months later. During the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Detroit witnessed growing confrontations between the police and inner city black youth, culminating in the Twelfth Street riot in July 1967. Governor George W. Romney ordered the Michigan National Guard into Detroit, and President Johnson sent in U.S. Army troops. The result was 43 dead, 467 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed. Thousands of small businesses closed permanently or relocated to safer neighborhoods, and the affected district lay in ruins for decades.

On August 18, 1970, the NAACP filed suit against Michigan state officials, including Governor William Milliken. The original trial began on April 6, 1971, and lasted for 41 days. The NAACP argued that although schools were not officially segregated, the city of Detroit and its surrounding counties had enacted policies to maintain racial segregation in schools.

District Judge Steven J. Roth held all levels of government accountable for the segregation. The Sixth Circuit Court affirmed some of the decision, withholding judgment on the relationship of housing inequality with education. The Court specified that it was the state’s responsibility to integrate across the segregated metropolitan area.

U.S. Supreme Court was most responsible for massive exodus from Detroit

The Governor and other accused officials appealed to the Supreme Court, which took up the case on February 27, 1974. The subsequent Milliken v. Bradley decision would come to have enormous national impact. According to Gary Orfield and Susan E. Eaton in their 1996 book Dismantling Desegregation, the “Supreme Court’s failure to examine the housing underpinnings of metropolitan segregation” in Milliken made desegregation “almost impossible” in northern metropolitan areas. “Suburbs were protected from desegregation by the courts ignoring the origin of their racially segregated housing patterns.” “Milliken was perhaps the greatest missed opportunity of that period,” said Myron Orfield, professor of law and director of the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity at the University of Minnesota, “Had that gone the other way, it would have opened the door to fixing nearly all of Detroit’s current problems.” John Mogk, a professor of law and an expert in urban planning at Wayne State University in Detroit says “Everybody thinks that it was the riots [in 1967] that caused the white families to leave. Some people were leaving at that time but, really, it was after Milliken that you saw mass flight to the suburbs. If the case had gone the other way, it is likely that Detroit would not have experienced the steep decline in its tax base that has occurred since then."

The Fall of Detroit

Long a major population center and major engine of worldwide automobile manufacturing, Detroit has gone through a continuing economic decline over the past 60 years.

Population Decline from ‘White Flight’ … Detroit reached its population peak of 1.8 million people in the 1950 census and ranked as America’s fourth largest city. Massive ‘white flight’ to the suburbs and other cities took place following the 1974 Milliken case. As of the 2010 census Detroit has lost 60% of its population, falling to 18th place with just over 700,000 residents remaining, of which over 82% are black/African American and 6% Hispanic … a total reversal from 1950 when over 90% were non-Hispanic whites. The city’s tax base eroded along with that population decline. There is no question that ‘white flight’ was the top cause of the fall of Detroit. It in turn led to all of the following problems…

High unemployment … was compounded by white flight and middle-class flight to the suburbs (and in some cases to other states), and the city was left with a reduced tax base, depressed property values, abandoned buildings, abandoned neighborhoods, high crime rates, and a pronounced demographic imbalance.

The unemployment rate, while down from a peak of 27.8% in the summer of 2009 — when General Motors and Chrysler Group were going through their own bankruptcies — is still at 16.3%, nearly twice Michigan’s statewide average.

Loss of Tax Revenue … Most of the auto industry’s Michigan plants moved out of our build in locations outside of Detroit city limits, severely limiting how much tax revenue they contribute to Detroit. General Motors, is the only automaker with headquarters inside of city limits, and Chrysler Group operates just one plant inside the city. Both companies declared bankruptcy and were bailed out at the expense of U.S. tax payers.

More than half of the owners of Detroit’s 305,000 properties failed to pay their 2011 tax bills, exacerbating the city’s financial crisis. According to the Detroit News, 47 percent of the city’s taxable parcels are delinquent on their 2011 tax bills, resulting in about $246 million in taxes and fees going uncollected, nearly half of which was due to Detroit. The review also found 77 blocks in Detroit had only one owner who paid taxes in 2011.

Urban Decay … The ongoing decline has left its mark on the city, most notably in severe urban decay and thousands of empty homes, apartment buildings, and commercial buildings around the city. Some parts of Detroit are sparsely populated resulting in the city having difficulty providing municipal services such as policing, fire protection, schools, trash removal, snow removal, lighting, etc. The city has sought and considered various solutions such as demolition of abandoned homes and buildings, though there are tens of thousands of abandoned structures; removal of street lighting from large portions of the city; and encouraging the small population in certain areas to move to more populated areas of the city as there may not be a quick response for city services such as police in de-populated areas.

Crime … Detroit has the sixth highest total rate of violent crime, five times the national average. At 16.73 per 1,000, it has the highest per capita rate of violent crime among the 25 largest U.S. cities in 2007, those with a population exceeding 200,000.

Nearly two-thirds of all murders in Michigan in 2011 occurred in Detroit. It has been reported that about 65 to 70 percent of homicides in the city are drug related. he police department closes only 8.7% of its criminal cases.

Detroit was rated the most dangerous city in the United States for the 4th year in a row in a 2010 survey by the FBI. It has been reported that 4 of the top 10 most dangerous neighborhoods in the nation reside in Detroit.

Blight: 78,000 blighted buildings either abandoned or ruined. 

Lack of Lighting: 30,000 defunct streetlights– about 40% of the 88,000 street lights don’t work.

Response time: Call for a police officer takes 58 minutes to get help — more than five times what it takes elsewhere in the United States. Response times for Emergency Medical Services and the Detroit Fire Department average 15 minutes, which is more than double the 7-minute averages seen in other cities.

Hazardous waste sites: 70 Superfund hazardous waste sites

Parks: Two-thirds of parks closed since 2008, with only 107 remaining open

Aging equipment: Fire stations are old and not adequately maintained. A fleet of city vehicles is aging and poorly maintained. A power grid that is deteriorating. A city-owned power plant that has been idle for two years. 31 sub-stations that need to be decommissioned. Information technology systems in multiple departments that urgently need to be upgraded or replaced.

Detroit Files for Bankruptcy

The situation reached a crisis and almost resulted in the state of Michigan taking over administrative control of the city. The state governor declared a financial emergency in March 2013, appointing Kevyn Orr as emergency manager. On July 18, 2013, Detroit filed for bankruptcy.

Orr said the city had filed for bankruptcy because it would take more than 50 years to pay off the city’s $11.5 billion in unsecured debt while not conducting even the most basic maintenance, such as filling potholes and plowing snow.

Current Fiscal Situation … What is at stake? 

Detroit halted payments on about $2 billion in debt last month to preserve its dwindling supply of cash. The city faces total liabilities of about $18 billion.

The reorganization plan argues that the city needs to shed $9.5 billion of its $11.5 billion in unsecured debt in order to be able to pay its bills and make necessary improvements in services. Much of the debt targeted for elimination is related to pension benefits and retiree health care coverage required by union contracts. That would mean that investors and retirees would receive an average of just 17% of what they are owed.

When employees of a bankrupt business lose their promised pensions, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. steps in and provides a minimal level of benefits. But that federal agency doesn’t back pensions in the public sector.

Detroit appears to be the first municipal bankruptcy that has ever involved involuntary cuts to retiree benefits.  The possibility exists that U.S. tax payers could get stuck bailing out Detroit to cover its workers pensions, similar to the Obama bailout of two of Detroit’s largest companies…GM and Chrysler. Given the poor state of funding for many public sector pension funds nationwide, its an issue which is likely to end up being addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bankruptcy could slash pension benefits to city workers and retirees, and leave bond holders with only pennies on the dollar. Investors say the bankruptcy will make it more difficult for cities and towns everywhere to raise the money they need to build bridges, schools and other infrastructure. It will also hurt municipal bonds held by individual investors. There are more than $1 trillion worth of bonds at risk. There is bound to be a ripple effect nationwide.

Many American Cities and States are following in Detroit’s steps

The lucrative pension and benefit plans that cities and states across America have adopted…with a hefty helping hand from the powerful America-destroying unions…are on a rapid course heading for the edge of the real ‘Fiscal Cliff’. None of America’s pension plans are sustainable. It will not be long before they all begin to fiscally implode.

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