Category Archives: Perspectives

History, belief systems and more

Two Americans in Europe

Two Americans in Europe

At the time of composing this Jeanette & I are on a river cruise on the Danube. So far, we have visited Budapest, Bratislava & Vienna (Wien), all capitals of their respective countries. Broadening education is always a bi-product of travel. All of the countries we have visited are members of the EU. All three are quite small, both in area and population.

Hungary has about 8 million folks with just under 2 million residing in Budapest. Slovakia has about 5.5 million with about ½ million in Bratislava & Austria has about 8 ½ million with just under 2 million in Wein.

Hungary is about the size of Indiana, Slovakia is about the size of Mississippi & Austria is about the size of Maine.

Not all members of the EU are using the Euro. One prior member (the UK) chose to retain their currency, while others were not authorized to use the Euro because their economies were considered too weak.  Hungary still uses the Florent, but almost all retailers accept the Euro. The official currency of both Slovakia & Austria is the Euro.

On a recent trip to Iceland our auto rental agent shared her view of US citizens. It was not that of the “ugly, loud American”, but that of naiveite. The more I travel the more that comment rings true.

America emerged from WW II as a superpower primarily because of a vibrant and growing economy. We were envied and admired by the rest of the world. We were considered to be number one in production (& productivity), technology, individual freedoms & standard of living. Many of us still believe that is true, but that is only a “belief” and not in touch with the facts. Unfortunately, we have been in a status decline for the past several decades. Our slide resembles the slide experienced by the UK that started over a 100 years ago. The UK was “the” superpower for several hundred years expanding their influence into America, Africa, India & Australasia (among others). Like many dominant countries & city states before them they eventually maxed out their influence and the decline commenced.

The US is still in the early stages of declining influence. The dollar, once the fall back currency for the entire world, is no longer accepted in most of Europe. If a country does not officially use the Euro, they always accept it as medium of exchange. While English is still the official 2nd language in most of Europe it is sobering to remember that is not ours and has its roots in the Germanic languages.

We have found most people here to be friendly and respectful, but not that interested in or concerned about goings on in the US. We do not seem to be the focus of their attention. The histories of these countries go back thousands of years. Borders have changed numerous times and all of have experienced numerous political systems.

stay tuned for more on this

Searching for balance

Searching for balance

After every election there is always a plea for unity after all the ugliness of the campaign. However, one wonders about the sincerity of this admonition.

Having been around for almost three generations of Presidential administrations my view is that the losing party almost immediately encourages their constituents to start bashing the leader of the winner’s. While this seems to have been the case ever since I was old enough to pay attention, my experience is that it has escalated with almost every election. Republicans delighted in bashing Clinton, Democrats had their way with Bush, Republicans did their best to crucify Obama and the bloodletting is already starting with Trump.

I do wonder how this process relates to true patriotism. How does it serve our country? After any election (except in a true landslide) there will be a very large minority (45 – 50 %) that are disappointed. Does it serve the country to not accept the outcome? Are we better served by working with the winner with the objective of reaching compromises? One wonders why Republicans tend to view Democrats as less than intelligent and Democrats the reverse.

Personally I agree with George Washington regarding his view that the two party system will not (and does not) facilitate the best qualities in our country. Regardless, I see evidence in both parties where there is room for agreement and compromise, especially when it comes to some of the major issues. The issues I refer to were not addressed during the recent campaign.

Our biggest issue should be the budget and the related items of the national debt and the enormous level of unfunded liabilities. We have intentionally mortgaged the future to the detriment of our grandchildren and their prodigy. We reside in a false economy. Despite efforts to maintain unrealistically low interest rates the economy stagnates. One wonders what the impact of rising rates will have on our future.

Two significant items that relate to the budget imbalance are the out of control costs relative to healthcare and advanced education. I think that electorate of both parties could agree that these areas are worth working together for solutions. Why should costs in these areas be rapidly inflating while the remainder of the economy is stagnant or deflating? There actually are solutions to these important issues, but we will only find them by “finding balance” through mutual respect for differing views. Let’s strive to become true patriots.

High speed cop car chases, are they worth it?

Chapter 45

High speed cop car chases, are they worth it?

With the evolution of communication technology I wonder the value of high speed police pursuits. It seems that by using police band radio and cell phones most of these chases could be avoided and still result in apprehension. My primary concern is with the unnecessary deaths that have resulted from this activity.

The following is taken from and August 2015 article in USA today:

During the 24 year period from 1979 to 2013 there were almost 12,000 fatalities resulting from high speed chases by police vehicles. Of these 6,301 were the deaths of those being pursued (in at least one case for running a red light and in another for failure to turn on head lights), 5,066 were of innocent bystanders or other non-violators in vehicles and 139 were police officers.

Another consideration is the need for high powered police cruisers. We might need to consider lower powered and more fuel efficient vehicles and replace the high speed chase with efficient communications among law enforcement? It is interesting to note that most European countries utilize small economy units as police vehicles. Despite what we see in Hollywood’s chase scenes most of these vehicles are not chase capable.