Friday, February 27, 2009

For the Children - Yeah Right

My wife and I were listening to the Glen Beck show just a few minutes ago and I had to push the pause button on the Tivo and come write this. The bottom line of this entry is that even Glen Beck does not get it!

Here is how -
Beck started his show this evening making a big deal out of how the meaning of words really matters (duh!) , and taking Obama to task for Obama's Orwellian use of words and phrases that really mean the opposite of what they would mean to most people. For example Glen Beck says that he [Beck] "wants a responsible government", but that when Obama says the same thing, Obama really means the opposite. To make his point he played a clip of Obama saying "Lets build a government that's responsible to the people."

Building a government that's responsible to the people sounds good to the likes of you and me. Why?

  • Because we know what a government responsible to the people is. A government responsible to the people is one that lives within the deliberate confines of the Constitution, a document which was deliberately crafted the way it was to impose shackling limitations on government power in light of the fact that men are corrupt, and in light of the fact that if all men were angels there would be no need for government.

  • Because we know that a government responsible to the people would not introduce fascism into our society and would uphold the traditions of a person's ownership of that which he created.

  • Because we know that a government responsible to the people is one that understood that "No, It does NOT take a village. It takes a Mommy and a Daddy working for themselves and instructing their children in morality and the ethic of work."

But, this is not what Obama means. What he means by "a government responsible to the people" is a government that will rob me and 92% of others like me to make sure that the deadbeat that took out a loan on a house that he never should have gotten a loan for in the first place can keep that home instead of getting removed, forcibly if necessary, to other accommodations. What Obama means is that it is not my job to do anything for myself, but that of my neighbor to pay to have someone else do it for me.

Beck was going apoplectic over this as he rightly should. So far so good then - up until the point where Beck, in talking about all the party faction and the statist craziness on both sides, says "I'm not here for anybody's party, I'm here for my children."

It is at this point where I come unglued, for that kind of thinking and dumb statement making is exactly an example of the muddled thinking that gets people into trouble and it exposes the fact that even Beck in unable to connect the dots.

Not to put too fine a point on things and just to make things clear (connect the dots) - I am not here for my children ... or your children, and every time I hear someone use this maudlin sop I want to vomit.The reason is that if your idea can't stand on its own two feet and has to be cloaked with the shroud of "the children", then it is an idea that is unworthy of being put into practice.

To make an example, the reason not to rob people is because it is just plain wrong, and the reason that it is just plain wrong is that without private property and ownership that is secure, the society breaks down into chaos. (Oh my, am I speaking here of 2009?) There need be no plea to "the children" or "my children", or "your children" to make or prove the point, and the kernel of truth is that if I take care of myself, and if you take care of YOURSELF instead of asking me to do it, then I won't have to worry about my children, you won't have to worry about yours, and I will not have to look over my shoulder to make sure that you not using the power of the state to "worry" about mine.

(In Beck's defense, it can be said that at least he referred to "his" children, and not children in general. But, even at that, use of any term having the word "children" in it is dangerous becasue that very word is the raw material that will be picked up by your opponent and used against you as it is used to whip the mob up into a feeding frenzy at your pocketbook's expense.)

So then, leave "the children", especially my children, the hell out of it. First, because they are not the basis for why we have a government founded on the principles of individual responsibility and consequence, and second because once YOU start politicizing "the children", using terms like "my children, "your children", or "the children", then ANYTHING can be justified by ANYBODY, using them , the children as pawns. (Why do you think that "the children" are constantly referred to in collectivist's attempts to shakle us with State run health care?)

Need to turn the country onto a gulag by implementing another unsustainable system (health care) that will go broke in 20 years from being robbed for other "social" programs like social security was? No problem, because, after all, its being done "for the children", those poor little urchins who do not have health care [because their parents either did not want it or because they were too lazy to get a job and pay for it, or because they spent the money on a bigger house]. If you do not have health care for your children so what? That should not be my problem? Care for YOUR children is YOUR responsibility, not mine, whether directly or through what you want to use as a proxy - the government.

A closing point - I am not my brother's keeper, and neither is he mine. I am my own keeper. Any other view of the proper state of things puts both feet firmly on the slippery slope leading directly toward the collectivist state.

Powerful - Oh, Really Now

To corrupt thought you must first corrupt the language. Once the language becomes corrupt you can then mainline any drug you want to push.
~ Seneca 2009 AD

You are Powerful?

Because you live in a mud hut, is this how you are powerful?

Because the society in which you live has not, in the 2000 years it has been around, been able to create a societal system such that you can live in something other than a mud hut?

Because your country is ridden by disease, poverty, starvation, warfare, illiteracy, tribal fighting where your brothers and sisters are hacked to death in the still of the night by machetes,
and a host of other things indicative of the very lack of power?

Because you have your picture posted as part of a campaign for others to send you money?

Yeah, Right. You Are "Powerful".

To corrupt thought you must first corrupt the language. Once the language becomes corrupt you can then mainline any drug you want to push.
~ Seneca 2009 AD

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Message from Seat 29e

Hello all you boys and girls,

Today's story is about how being asleep at the wheel generally leads to nasty results.

And remember, when it comes to government meddling, those that do the meddling never have to sit in a Seat 29E of their own making.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Winners, Losers, and Bullies - Which One Are You?

We have all seen those books on negotiation. One such book, for example, is "Getting to Yes", others have titles such as, "Bargaining for Advantage", "Getting Past No", etc.

On inspection of most all of these books one will usually find some text along the following lines indicating that if you and the other party can just talk and air things out that you can reach a good result.

"Joint problem solving revolves around interests and positions,. You begin by identifying each side's interests - the concerns, needs, fears and desires that underlie and motivate your opposing positions., You then explore different options for meeting those interests, You goal is to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement in and efficient and amicable fashion." ~ From "Getting Past No"

What constitutes a good result? Well, most books will tell you that a good result, indeed the best result, is what is called a Win-Win. This is where both parties walk away with something that they think is good for them. The case where one party says "Wow, I can't believe I got this cool talking frog ..and for so cheap [from that other guy]."; while at the same time the other party is saying "Wow, I am sure glad I have the money now .... and I can't believe I got somebody to buy that thing [at such a high price] that was taking up space in my garage."

This then brings up an interesting philosophical point about a free economy. That point is this - In the ideal free-will transaction, each side is getting more from the other side than he feels that he is giving up to get what he got. Another way to state this is that the thing that Party A gets from Party B is felt by Party A to be more valuable that what he had to give Party B to get what he got. Likewise, the thing that Party B gets from Party A is felt by Party B to be of more value than what they had to give to Party A to get what he got. This, indeed is the basis for all free-will/free-economy exchange and an important outcome of it (a free-will/free-economy exchange) is that it results in a net increase in value. There is no winner for every loser. EACH party GAINS.

Here is an example. Party A and Party B are neighbors and live in a cold yet fertile climate. Party A has land on which grow a lot of trees. Indeed, he has so many trees and his land is so fertile that within 2 years of cutting one tree down, another is ready for harvest. Party B has NO trees but he has open land on which grows a lot of food. It is winter and Party A, while having all the trees in the wold, is starving, while Party B, having all the food in the world, is freezing. At this point trees are not really "worth much "to Party A. I mean, he has trees coming out the ears - but his belly is empty. Conversely, food is not really "worth much" to Party B. I mean, he has food coming out his ears - but his ass is freezing off.

So here we have 2 people having something that is not "worth much" to them, yet at the same time having something that is worth a hell of a lot to the other party. Thus it is that as rational people, Party A trades what to him are "worthless" trees (firewood) for "more valuable" food, while Party B trades what to him is "worthless" food, for "more valuable" firewood.

It is important here to understand that neither party is trying to "help the other guy out" and to understand that each party, from the perspective of standing in his own shoes thinks that he is getting the "better" end of the deal. Indeed, they both are getting the better end of the deal because EACH is trading something they hold at one level of value and getting, in exchange, something that they hold in higher value. THIS perceived gain at both ends (the pain of starvation on the one hand and pain of freezing on the other) is what motivates the transaction and is what motivates all free-will/free-economy transactions. Essentially, these are transactions where both people walk away thinking "Man , I sure got the better end of that deal because what I gave up less that what I got", and indeed BOTH are right.

Another way to think of this is to consider that Party A has 5 one dollar bills, while Party has 5 one dollar bills. One guy says to the other - "Hey, I'll give you my five bills for your five bills."
Why in the world would they make any exchange of something that they considered equal in value? The fact of the matter is that they don't. Unless both, of course, just like joking around with each other. Indeed, if they made a transaction for this purpose it would prove up the point that they are doing it because they are BOTH getting something out of the transaction - a feeling of joking around.

In summary then, the ONLY thing that makes the exchange happen in a free-will/free-economy transaction is if the parties viewed from their standpoint make a "profit". Now, the bleeding hearts would say that somebody got something at somebody else's "expense" and try to make out as if somebody took advantage of somebody else, when the fact of the matter is that both take advantage of each other. This is called win-win.

Having outlined the ideal case and the general principle, we now can turn to corruptions of the fabric and discuss two other kinds of exchange. One is the I Win- You Lose exchange. This is the kind of exchange that the bleeding hearts love to tout, for to them every exchange, even the win-win exchanges that make up the bulk of exchange, have to be painted with this brush because it advances their agenda of collectivism; i.e., collectivism needs a victim.

In an "I Win-You Lose" exchange, the point of the negotiation from the standpoint of the "Winner" is that not only that he truly gets something that is of greater value than what he gives up (just like in a win-win ) but also that he gets the feeling that "I really screwed that guy". Indeed, in many cases, the deal will not be done if this psychological superiority cannot be felt by the "Winner". To these kinds of people, it is NOT so much about getting the physical object what they are bargaining for, but more about getting the mind-game payoff that they are superior and better that the other guy. This kind of psychological world view can be seen in certain poker players and other gamblers (or businessmen), where the object of the game is not to make money or to have a fun time with the other guy, but by winning, validating that they are "better than the other person."

Indeed, going into the game, the desired outcome is the "I Win By You Losing" outcome.Another way to state this is "I win by me knowing that I am better that you, and this is how I prove it (by taking your money off the table)" In couples counseling they call this the One-Up, One-Down communication style.

Thus it is that for some, THAT (the need to feel superior) is the entire point of the transaction. For these type, the ideal transaction is the "I Win- You Lose", and a Win-Win transaction will be avoided.

This then, brings us to the third type of negotiation outcome that is desired. I call this the "Bully End Game", or by the more lengthy but more descriptive term of:

"I Win-You Not Only Lose, But I Know That You Know That You Lost to Me"

This is the most corrosive kind of negotiation style as it leaves one party nursing his wounds and, with good cause, looking for revenge even if it is of the smallest import. A good example of this can be seen in some of the romantic tragedies where the yeoman and the peasant girl fall in love and are to be married, but the prince of the manor, on seeing this love between two of such pure heart, arranges, through the power of the king, for the peasant girl to be married to him instead and then abandons her to his knights. In such a case the entire point is not the girl - but to take the girl from the yeoman, and for the prince to know that the yeoman knows that he (the yeoman) is powerless to do anything about it.

A point here - The phrasing - "I Win-You Not Only Lose, But I Know That You Know That You Lost to Me", is deliberately crafted as it is, as it is different than what some would perhaps restate as the "I Win-You Not Only Lose, But You Have to Know (Admit) That You Lost to Me". Essentially, the crafting is as it is because the latter does not capture the full aggressive nature of the former.

In business, you will occasionally come across The Bully, and when you do, if you have not read this first, you will be caught unawares and your mind will be reeling with trying to understand what is happening during the negotiation. In your mind, you are just trying to do a business deal, while in the other party's mind the entire point of the "negotiation" is for them to come away with the belief that "I Won-You Not Only Lost, But I Know That You Know That You Lost to Me. "

This "lesson" was taught to me, during one on my attempted negotiations with a colleague of mine, and it took me a while to understand that to him the end game was not both of us winning (both of us coming away with a good economic result), but for me to lose ... and for him to know that I knew that I lost to him.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Producers, Not Looters

I wear one of those screen printed tee-shirts that has some nice logo-looking artwork on it. Around the logo art is the tag line "Rearden Steel - Producers, Not Looters" and from time to time as I am out and about, I am asked if Rearden Steel is the company that I work for.

Now, those that know me know that I do not work for Rearden Steel - and those that really know me know that indeed in a way I do.

I especially like getting this question from the young people who are clueless about the past and therefore about the present, and , if I am lucky, and one of these seems a likely candidate for rehabilitation, I proceed to ask them they have ever heard of Hank Rearden. If they say that they have not, then I tell them:

"Hank Rearden was a fellow that believed that the money he earned belonged to him, and not to you".

When their eyes go big, and if I sense a glimmer of intelligence, I bring it home to them by asking, direct to their face, as they are standing there handing me my triple grande venti vanilla mocha Frappuccino sissy-boy drink:

"You have a job, right?"
"You work hard at your job and earn money, right?"
"You do not think that the money you earn belongs to me, right?"

Seeing in their eyes the beginnings of understanding, I then close the deal by telling them:

"Ah, I can see that you are getting it. OK - Hank Rearden was a fellow that believed that the money that YOU earn belongs to YOU, not him, or anybody else, and especially not to the government so that they could go out after confiscating it from you to give to some lazy bum on the street that did not want to work to earn it."

With that, they give me my drink. Another one saved!

~ PS - Blame this one on my friend Rick - he made me do it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Liberalism - Truly A Mental Disorder


From the News Headlines

Truly this man has a mental disorder. I had to ask my brother in all seriousness if Obama is ill. No Really.

One Big Ass Mistake America

Friday, February 20, 2009

Who are the Racial Cowards?

A sign at Emory University in Georgia ....

The following are excerpts from a February 18, 2009 address made by Eric Holder ~ Attorney General of the United States in commemoration of Black History Month . Thereafter follows commentary in line with Mr. Holders desire to "talk" about race.

....."Every year, in February, we attempt to recognize and to appreciate black history. It is a worthwhile endeavor for the contributions of African Americans to this great nation are numerous and significant."

...."Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards...."

... "....we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race

.... "And yet, if we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us."

..."And so I would suggest that we use February of every year to not only commemorate black history but also to foster a period of dialogue among the races. "

..."We know, by “American instinct” and by learned behavior, that certain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks, at best embarrassment, and, at worst, the questioning of one’s character."

..."it is hard for me to accept that the result of those efforts was to create an America that is more prosperous, more positively race conscious and yet is voluntarily socially segregated."

..."Imagine if you will situations where people- regardless of their skin color- could confront racial issues freely and without fear."

.."The potential of this country, that is becoming increasingly diverse, would be greatly enhanced.."

..."Black history is extremely important because it is American history."

..."For too long we have been too willing to segregate the study of black history. "

..."Some may consider me to be a part of black history. But we do a great disservice to the concept of black history recognition if we fail to understand that any success that I have had, cannot be viewed in isolation."

..."I stood, and stand, on the shoulders of many other black Americans. "


Hummmm ....... Concerning the true racism in this country I could not have said it better myself than this sign is doing. So then, Mr, Holder, let's then indeed have one of those frank discussions about race that you are so desirous of having.

First of all, you make a point that you are Black. That very thing is racist, as YOU yourself are making a distinction founded on race! How is it, I ask, that you chose that classification when obviously you are not from Africa, and indeed, you are of mixed ancestry. Why is it that people that are ½ white and ½ black call themselves Black, or African-American? That is racist. Thus Halle Berry is being a racist when she refers to herself as Black. Do you think of barrack Obama as America's first Black President. Why? Why the appellation "Black"? Why do you not say that he is "White", especially when actually he is half and half, and indeed was raised by white grandparents? Thus I ask why it is that 1/2 white and 1/2 black = black instead of white or something else. Is it because choosing "Black" gives a special protected class status? Or, is it that it allows you to flail the whip against the imagined White Satans?

The fact of the matter, Mr Holder, is that neither you, nor any of the other people that are exhorting the majority of us to talk about race, want ANY discussion on ANY terms other than chosen and dictated by you.

Turning to other matters, and of course the point of the picture at the head of this op-ed, you yourselves, the American Black, have segregated yourselves from society. Look at the sign. Do you think that it was the white students that clamored for this edifice of racism and exclusion?? Do you think that this Black Student Association has any outreach to get incorporate the whites into its exclusionary, racist, and discriminatory clique? What would the reaction be if others wanted to build themselves a "White Student Alliance"? If you can organize against Whitey, why then are you offended when Whitey organizes against you?

Still on segregation , look at any school cafeteria, and you will see that the blacks self-segregate, so please spare me the maudlin histrionics over how race still divides us in America and that is bad and all whiteys fault, because it is not the whites that are segregating you, it is the black race that is segregating itself and the black race is just a racist as, I suppose, any other race. This animates my mind to ask where it is that you live, Mr Holder? Have you segregated yourself and your family from the truly black neighborhoods? The ones where the majority of the black population lives? WHY?

This discourse now turns to the term "African-American" and how part of that self segregation you yourself speak of, is induced by its use. Indeed, you yourself use the term in the second sentence of your remarks. Sorry, Mr, Holder, it can't be had both ways. Either you are an American, or an African, or a German, or a Pole, or a Jew, or an Arab. African-American in your sense of the word is NOT American - it is something else - that is why you use the term. The fact is that much of the militant black community does not want to melt into anything - does not want to assimilate to the prevalent society. It wants to maintain itself as an enclave within that which prevails.

Now, in the sense of full disclosure, my ancestors came from Europe, and although themselves were persecuted by Whitey, they never referred to themselves as European Americans. They were in ghettos and they were persecuted, yet they did everything they could to ASSIMILATE. Indeed they were forced to assimilate. That was a good thing. Children caught speaking the native tongue at home or at school = many spankings. Thus it is that today, although there are in America, Americans of German, Italian, Polish, and Russian ancestry, they do not run around referring to themselves as German-Americans, Italian-Americans, Polish-Americans, or Russian-Americans. They refer to themselves as Americans, and they are considered as Americans.

Not to put too fine a point on things, hyphenated-Americans are not Americans - they are something else, and your continued use of the term, motivated by the big chip on your shoulder, calcifies your race in the past. Lets talk now about slavery. You, my friend fail to want to recognize in your black history that it was the whites that freed the slaves. You also fail to acknowledge that in other countries of color, slavery STILL exists. Another thing you gloss over is that whitey is the only race that did anything to abolish the practice of slavery. So, if you want to talk about black history, you need to talk about THAT. You need to talk about 600,000 white people, ½ of which owned NO slaves, died setting your ancestors free.

Another thing that you submerge is the fact that it was not the whites alone that practiced slavery; that it has existed for 10,000 years; and that slaves were commonplace IN AFRICA. Indeed, you gloss over the fact it was not the whites that delivered up the African Negroes to the hands of the slavers but was the Black Africans themselves that delivered up their brothers. Would you be surprised to find that in times before yours that the slave trader's prime hunting ground was White Europe and that the raiders would take my ancestors, men women and children, to the slave markets in AFRICA? How about including this in your "Black History" studies.

Turning now to the very concept of Black History. No, Mr Holder in the sense of overall history, that of the "Blacks" is of but a minor component, just as is the history of the Lithuanians, or the Germans, or the Poles, etc, and in your constant drumbeat you are attempting to rewrite the contributions of the black man and woman. If you really want to get into such things, then please provide a list of names of those you consider "Black"; tell me of their contribution; and then we will start the weighting process. I will start - Martin Luther King; McCoy; Carver;..... you go ahead and fill in the rest. Then, let's start a list of the non-blacks that made a contribution. After this is all done, I do believe that you will come to find that the black contribution is but a small part. This is as it has to be simply because of the numbers involved and your attempts to elevate the Black contribution to such prominence is sophistic. The point of things is that YOU, in your gravitation toward the Black part of the History part , are focusing on the Black, and I ask what the hell difference does it make that someone was Black. Are you saying that no one else in the history of the world has had hardship that had to be overcome before they or their race could make their contribution?

I will end this with a true story. Recall above that the name Carver was mentioned. (Quick, who was he and what did he do?) The reason he was mentioned is because in my elementary school days, I came across a series of books about great people, inventions and events in our history - a "Great People" of American History series if you will - all, of course, written before the "age of guilt".

When I read the book, I was excited to learn about Carver's childhood exploits and about Carver's later research concerning the peanut and how he was the one that discovered that the peanut can be used not only peanut butter, but for oil, and other foods ..... and antibiotics as well. Essentially, if it was a peanut, Carver knew about it. Now, here comes the point. Recall my question above "Quick, who was he and what did he do?" MY answer to this would be "He was the person that unlocked the knowledge of the peanut", while YOUR answer would be along the lines of "He was a black man that......".

See the point? To me, it is the accomplishment - to you it is the race. For you ,everything is about race - to me everything is about accomplishment and merit.

So then, in closing, it is odd and distressing to me that we have the following,

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

No more beautiful words were ever written, yet , for you, everything begins and ends with the color of your skin ..... and the color of mine.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Obamanomics 2


From a news story ~

House approves stimulus plan; Senate vote next
"....... No House Republicans backed the stimulus measure,
arguing it had too much spending and not enough tax breaks. ......".

Note here, denizens of the demes, that the Republicans did not argue that it was a stupid idea in the first place to rob one neighbor to pay another. Nor did they argue that as a philosophical proposition, the entire thing should have been killed. No - They want their own version of Statism. Make no mistake, the State is the State, and it is coming for you and your pocket book - whether you are rich, or poor, or in the middle.

Do not be fooled. The Republicans stand for Corporatism (welfare for business) and the Democrats stand for Re-Distribution of earned wealth to the people that did not create the wealth or earn it.

And please, do not post any comments about how that $8/hr guy is the one that created the wealth. The only reason he has that job is because finance capital wanted to exploit itself and exploit him.

exploit - ex [ik-sploit]
–verb (used with object)
To put to productive use

This, my fellow Athenians, is the meaning of the word, regardless of what the Sophists would have you believe.

So then, when you see a bunch of illegal aliens building the highway interchange, and you remark to your fellow passenger "Look at all those poor immigrants. It is THEY that are building America." Consider that NO, it is NOT they that are building America. It is finance capital that is building America, and were it not for being able to have a pool of money "just sitting around" always looking for a way to exploit itself, so that it could exploit workers, there would be no freaking job for those oh so poor and exploited illegal aliens to have in the first place.

So then, the correct way to think about what is building America is that it is MONEY that is building America.

Returning now to the Obamananigans, I have a sister in law that at a dinner party told everybody to " .... shut up because our side won." Refering to the Savior from on high.

Sounds good to me, and accordingly, because her house is nicer and bigger than mine, I will stand back as the government comes to take it after "those on her side" decide that she is one of those that has too much money.

You know, that is the problem with the Obamaites - anybody that has more money than they do, has too much and, you know, we just need to confiscate it so that we, the anointed, the followers, the true knowers of all that is good can "....... spread it around".

Makes me and about 65,000,000 others want to puke.

"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” Thomas Jefferson April 6, 1816

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Recommended Software - Form Fillers - RoboForm

RoboForm: Learn more...

Hello All - Here is my shameless plug,

If you are like me, you visit a bunch of websites where you have to fill in your UserID and Passwords or other information. I was going crazy keeping track of everything, so I fell for the bait and downloaded this RoboForm thing based on a recommendation.

OK here is the scoop - This is the best thing since sliced bread. It fills out almost everything for me, and best of all, it remembers what stuff to fill in depending on what page you have navigated to. (Somehow it associates a page with the correct login info and pops up right there asking if I want to fill it in. Yup- I use if for CC info and other stuff.)

So, on the 3 times a year I go to the ASCE website and it wants my info, I now do not have to wonder what post-it note stuck under the desk the info is on. For the 5 times a week I log-in to Amazon, I do it automatically. For the bazillion times I work on the blog, it sure saves me a lot of hassle.

PS - Does anybody know of a good utility that will allow me to clone email accounts in OutLook Express?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Just Say No - Continued (Letter to the Board)

February 10, 2009

Lance Kinney, P.E.
Deputy Executive Director
Texas Board of Professional Engineers
1917 IH35 South
Austin, Texas 78741

Subject: Proposed Changes to Board Rule
§137.63 Engineers’ Responsibility to the Profession

Dear Mr. Kinney:

I am responding to your request for comments concerning the proposed changes to Board Rule
§137.63 Engineers’ Responsibility to the Profession.

  • I OPPOSE this proposed change
  • I OPPOSE any later modification and re-submission to public comment of the proposed language to make it more palatable
  • I OPPOSE revisiting this issue in attempts to, under different camouflage, introduce matters similar to those which have been proposed .

Comments -
#1 I note that nowhere in the Notice of Proposed Rule Change has there been given any explanation of the reasons or justifications for this proposed change. Surely, it did not just materialize out of thin air. Not to put too fine a point on things, it is improper for a public body, simply by edict, to propose a new rule to the public without a statement of rationale. There must be some reason(s) given so as to make the matter ripe for placement into public comment status in the first place. There is no indication in the preamble to the proposal that meets any scintilla of rationale as to why the change is warranted, so, therefore, I believe that the issuing of a proposed change to public comment is improper in its form and that it must be withdrawn on that basis alone.

#2 I note that in the preamble, it is said that there will be no costs, etc. First, I note that apparently there must be a requirement for the Board to indicate a cost assessment, and that is why such information was put into the preamble. This then implies that failure to do so would cause the issue of the proposed change to public comment to be defective and invalid. Because of this then, that very notice requirement itself is support for the point I have above with respect to a notice requirement for the "why" of this rules proposition. Second, the assertion that there are no costs is NOT correct. There are all sorts of costs, and, based on this, the submission of this proposed rule to public comment is again defective and the proposal must be withdrawn.

As far as costs that will accrue:

There will be costs to the State of Texas (paid for by the public) as the Board spends day after day playing referee on games that should better be left to the courts, or to the parties. Apparently the Board is sensitive to "costs" because it is proposing, in another proposed change to the Rules, to reduce the time it is required to spend, from a minimum of meeting twice a year to meeting "as required". This then means that meetings of the Board cost public money, and this then means that cost will be expended by the State for the Board to handle complaints brought under these new provisions. In association with this, it seems odd that the Board is attempting to write itself out of work requirements, yet at the same time setting up additional rules that will require engineers to spend their time and money defending against legal claims and Board complaints that will be easily brought about due to these proposed rule changes that are nothing more than open-ended invitations to engage in controversy.

Still concerning costs, I have had to pay others to do the work that I would have done had I not been discussing this matter with my colleagues, who, by the way, are uniformly OPPOSED to this proposed change.

Still concerning costs, I have had to spend money for my corporate attorney to review what essentially is a proposed law that the board wants to issue.

Still concerning costs, I have had to spend money now instructing my staff and attorney to be vigilant for attempts by the Board to recraft or resubmit this proposed change under different cover.

Again, implementation of this proposed rule will bring about horrendous costs as engineers are hauled into court for specious claims of "The engineer did not make it clear that X, Y, or Z".

Think about it - Are you married? If, so, how many times do you think you are being perfectly clear, but your spouse thinks, and can argue quite effectively, that it is otherwise?

This brings up a real life story that happened but 2 weeks ago. I was sitting at a coffee house and at the next table was a plaintiff's attorney that I knew. He was in conversation with a friend of his who was congratulating him on his recent win. The attorney indicated that it was a hard case, and he was happy to make the jury see things his way. He continued by saying ...

"You know, the reality in the courtroom in not the real reality. Reality in the court is whatever you can make the jury believe is reality. It is a play that I stage for an audience."~ Plaintiffs Attorney - Overheard having a conversation his friend

This then, direct from the mouth of one of the false-reality makers.

Now then, think of what this lawyer is saying. He is saying that when he sues an engineer in a contract dispute (and contract disputes invariably contain allegations of somebody not being clear), in addition to negligence being part of the pleadings, he will also bring a complaint to the Board, because there it is, plain as day and in writing no less, that the engineer by law is required to "communicate clearly".

Why bring the complaint to the Board? Two reasons - First, he does it to bring pressure (a.k.a. legal intimidation) to bear on the engineer to settle the case - partly out of the expense of now defending in two actions. Second, he is doing it so that when the non-Court-of-Law Engineers Board (that now, of its own making, has 15,0000 of these "The engineer was not clear" complaints on its docket), hears his presentation of "reality", they may be swayed with his rhetoric and pronouncement of things that he could not get away with in a courtroom. Having then this finding, he will then take it back to the court at law and file a summary judgment because of what is now a "rules violation" - which now in fact will be used to bolster an amended pleading of negligence per se. And, do not think that any attorney worth his or her salt will not be able to make their case to the Board. I have worked with enough of them to know that most of them, even the most poorly trained in public rhetoric, can by the end of the day, have people believing that you shot your own grandmother - when in fact your grandmother is sitting on the jury.

Essentially, the Board is attempting to legislate the Standard of Care, and attempting to legislate a Standard of Care for the Running of An Engineering Business. Both are improper. The concept of Standard of Care, which requires a plaintiff's burden of polling of the industry as to what the industry is doing at a place and time, is a protocol that is an encapsulating boundary for professionals. It is in place, in this form, for a reason , and any attempt to provide "rules" for "client relations" is a step onto the slippery slope from which there is no recovery, because next you will have to propose a rule that we MUST set up a client communication blog, or that we MUST use electronic data capture in the geotechnical laboratory because that eliminates transcription and calculation error and thereby protects the health safety and welfare of the public. Following this then, we may thus at some short time in the future be faced with a rules violation if our firms do not have a certain percentage of electric cars in our fleet., of if we do not all fall in line with the teachings of the politically correct re-education brown-shirt committees concerning global warming, now debunked, and called "climate change'.

A good way to view the bigger picture as to the inappropriateness of this proposed rule change is to consider that in NOWHERE in the engineering examinations required by the Board are there questions about the proper format for communication with the client, or questions about clear letter writing. Indeed, as a candidate for registration as an engineer, the Board will absolutely NOT let me get away with statements on my SER that "I wrote good letters", or "I always kept the client informed", or that "My writing was always clear".

NO - in order to get registered, the Board requires that I tell them:

"I calculated",
"I performed the strength calculations."
"I performed the aquifer drawdown analysis using the USGS Standard protocol 8765" or,
" I kept bridges standing by determining the design loads of the bridge, sizing the beams and stringers by calculating the shear and moments created during ice storms as well as normal loading conditions, and executing the gusset plate calculations according to the AISC."

In summary - I stand OPPOSED to the proposed rule change - for all the above stated reasons.

Art Koenig, PE
MDI Labs, Inc
San Antonio, TX

Attachment (Proposed Board Rule)

Attachment #1
Proposed Board Rule
Omitted from this post - see orignal message this blog "Just Say No" or Click the link up above in the first part of this post .... or click here

Lincoln - Obama's Hero? Hummm....

February 10, 2009
San Antonio, TX
Post instigated by KH

Yesterday, I attended a professional society meeting where the topic was Politics for Engineers. In discussing his topic, and as a device to discuss some of the features of the Obama Administration, thed speaker asked the audience who Obama said his "hero" was.

Somebody said "Lincoln". The speaker then asked what Lincoln did, and, immediately seeing the connection between Lincoln, who himself was power hungry and a Constitutional usurper and sapper, and Obama who is more of the same, one soul at the back immediately remarked "Suspended Habeas Corpus". This was, of course, referring to the fact that Lincoln acted outside the Constitution that he had sworn to uphold, while at the same time, asserting that the States in Rebellion were the acting outside the Constitution, and therefore could be invaded and gutted by the Army of the North.

By way of reminder to us all - the operating manual for the United States is a delegated powers constitution. In the American system, it is (supposed to be) the people that have the power, and that to exercise that power, they articulated, through their proxies, a Constitution which confers only limited powers to the Government - all other powers being withheld .

This operating manual, in a move designed to limit the ability government's ability to tyrannize the citizens, partitioned the goivernment into 3 competing branches and delegated non-overlapping powers to those branches. For example, regarding revenue bills, ONLY the House has the power to propose a bill for spending money - all revenue bills MUST originate in the House. Another provision is that the power to suspend habeas corpus is a power reserved to Congress alone - it is a Legislative prerogative, not an Executive (Presidential) one. (Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution, dealing with powers conferred on the Congress' by the people.)

The speaker, on not hearing this comment concerning the illegal acts of Lincoln - acts that by the way were also judged to be illegal and without force by the Supreme Court - yet nevertheless were continued by Lincoln as the South was laid to waste, referred to his slide showing the various members of the Obama Cabinet and their party affiliation, and used it to draw a parallel between Lincoln and Obama in that they both had mixed Cabinets. (In Mexico a Cabinet is called a ....... "junta". )

This brought to my mind the fact that there was another president that had a mixed cabinet and that was Jefferson. It also brought to mind that Jefferson's cabinet was constantly going behind his back and working to undermine his Presidency. But that we can hope the same happens with this overweening President - a president that really thinks that it is the governments right and duty to "run the country, run the economy, run the economy", instead of it being the right of the people and that the government by design is supposed to stay out of such things. This guy reminds me of a Caesar or a Xerxes. This kind of thinking is called tyranny and it was tried in Russia.

As a parting shot to this entry, drafted I admit, on a short clock and therefore choppy, it is interesting to note that Lincoln, in his March 9 1832 Letter to the Sangamo Journal, exposes the "morality" that will guide his decisions decades later. He says:

  • "In cases of extreme necessity there could always be means found to cheat the law, while in all other cases it would have its intended effect. I would not favor the passage of a law upon this subject, which might be very easily evaded. Let it be such that the labor and difficulty of evading it, could only be justified in cases of the greatest necessity." [Emphasis Added] ~ .........Lincoln, in his March 9 1832 Letter to the Sangamo Journal

Translation - The future president is here saying that he (and other officials) can do what they want "in cases of greatest necessity". Thus, all I have to do as a President is to declare a "public emergency" (a.k.a necessity) and then I can do what I want. For example, Mississippi Flood of 1927, The Depression, The Recession, the Stagnation, 9/11, Katrina, War of Terror", War on Drugs", War on the Economy", War on Poverty"

Yeah Right, sounds just like the English Kings - or Jack Bauer - or George Bush - or Obama. All doing things "for the good of the people". No thank you sir, I can do just fine without your meddling in affairs that are not in your constitutional purview.

THAT is why WE have a Constitution - to limit your power grab.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Obamanomics 1


–adjective - lacking in frankness, candor, or sincerity; falsely or hypocritically ingenuous; insincere: Example: His statements, amounting to nothing more than historical revisionism, were disingenuous.


Our Savior, Obama, the most merciful, the anointed on high, takes the cake. As we learned from Bill Clinton, we must watch very carefully the words that are used by politicians and parse them accordingly. Remember, Obama is a lawyer (as was Clinton) and when viewed through this lens, we see here how he is very careful to be true - but at the same time is false. This is political rhetoric at its best.

Here is the real story - The policies he is pounding on the Republicans for can only be the policies of Republicans to be spineless (as was Congressman Lamar Smith and Senator Cornyn on the bailout) to allow Congress under Barney Frank committees to coerce the banks to lend money to people that should not have been taking such Ninja (no income, no job, no assets) loans in the first place. THAT (too much money floating around) is what fueled the "crisis".

Essentially, Congress thru Fannie and Freddie, told the banks that if they did not lend money to the appropriate politically correct "victims" groups, (a.k.a voter blocs), then their ability to merge with other firms and conduct their banking business activities would be impeded/interfered with.

This, my friends, is called using the government to force private enterprise to carry out government agendas - boxcars anyone? This is also called Fascism, which is when government combines with the industry and businesses to form an interlocking partnership. (Public/Private Partnerships anyone, NAFTA Super Highway anyone)

This consolidation of the private by the government has been underway for a long time, my fellow citizens, and it is not confined to Osama ( Oh, my bad, I meant Obama) although he is the most virulent representation of the tyranny of the state since FDR. Make no mistake- Bush engaged in expansion of the government and tightening of its yoke. Carter did too, as did Johnson, FDR, Wilson, etc.

Remember - It is not Left vs Right - it is the STATE vs. You!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The White House Contractor

Three contractors were bidding to fix a broken fence at the White House in D.C.; one from Illinois, one from Tennessee and a third from Kentucky. They all went with a White House official to examine the fence.

The Tennessee contractor took out a tape measure and did some measuring, then worked some figures with a pencil. 'Well', he said, 'I figure the job will run about $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100 profit for me.'

The Kentucky contractor also did some measuring and figuring, then said, 'I can do this job for $700: $300 for materials, $300 for my crew and $100 profit for me.'

The Illinois contractor didn't measure or figure, but leaned over to the White House official and whispered, '$2,700.'

The official, incredulously, whispered back, 'You didn't even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?'

The Illinois contractor replied, '$1000 for me, $1000 for you, and we hire that guy from Kentucky to fix the fence.''

Done,' replied the government official.

And that, my friends, is how our government works!

From a web circulated email joke seen eslewhere

PS - And don't think that it is just the other guy's "party" that does this sort of thing.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


A few months ago I read a great piece by the Sage of the North, John Bachner, Executive Director of ASFE, regarding how it really does matter how you present yourself to your clients.

He ends his article with something along the lines of :

"So, before you go in to meet a client, duck into the restroom and check to see that you don't have spaghetti sauce stains on your tie .... because having lunch on your tie says a lot about what attention to detail you will be paying to your client's jobs ... and the client knows it."

So then, here I am sitting in a Starbucks in Katy, Texas, and whom do I see asking me for my order???? Some dude who looks like he just stepped out of Deliverance. My God man, do you really think that I want you and your foot-long, scraggly-ass beard to be leaning over the ice container to get the ice for my "sissy-man" Java Chip Frappuccino drink, and do you really think that I want to have your beard-stroking cigarette-smoking crudded up mits handling the cups, and the syrup, and working the blender? I mean, I like those clumpy chip things in my drink, but they are supposed to be chocolate chips, not chopped up beard hair. And I wondered why I was having trouble sucking the stuff thru the straw.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Dead Horse

Young Chuck in Montana bought a horse from a farmer for $100. The farmer agreed to deliver the horse the next day. The next day the farmer drove up and said, "Sorry son, but I have some bad news... the horse died." Chuck replied, "Well, then just give me my money back." The farmer said, "Can't do that. I went and spent it already." Chuck said, "Ok, then, just bring me the dead horse." The farmer asked, "What ya gonna do with him?" Chuck said, "I'm going to raffle him off." The farmer said, "You can't raffle off a dead horse!" Chuck said, "Sure I can, Watch me. I just won't tell anybody he's dead."

A month later, the farmer met up with Chuck and asked, "What happened with that dead horse?" Chuck said, "I raffled him off. I sold 500 tickets at two dollars a piece and made a profit of $998."

The farmer said, "Didn't anyone complain?" Chuck said, "Just the guy who won. So I gave him his two dollars back."

Chuck grew up and now works for the government. He's the one who figured out how this "bail-out" is going to work.

sent in by a friend

Just Say No!

Attention Texas Engineers
TSBPE Proposed Rule Change

The Texas State Board of Professional Engineers has proposed a change to the rules that will negatively affect the way you do business.

This is a bad proposed rule and if, like me, you are concerned about this proposed change, then you need to submit your comments to the board against it. Your comments must be in to the Board by February 13, 2009.

In addition, please go ahead and comment the hell out of things here on this blog to let others know how YOU feel.

You know, one thing I would like to know is how, with all the talk of government intrusion into things, such a proposal even made it this far. What is it going to be next? Are they going to make another rule after this one fails to "do the trick" that to be "clear" to the client our calculations have to be done in Color #45334 ink, on paper having a yellow#34 tint, and that we will have to determine the color blindness level of the client and that it is a Rules Violation if we have not?

BTW Mr Kinney, -- contrary to what you say about how this thing will have no financial impact to the engineers of small firms ... Where do I sent the bill for the $800 that I had to pay our corporate attorney to comb through your proposed rule and draft up this letter?? How many other engineer dollars are having to be spent responding to something that should have never been proposed in the first place?

So then my fellow engineers, here is a copy of a letter that is going out today (2/2/09) at my request, and on my dime, from our corporate attorney.


Lance Kinney, P.E.
Deputy Executive Director
Texas Board of Professional Engineers
1917 IH35 South
Austin, Texas 78741

Dear Mr. Kinney:

I have an engineering education, and, prior to going to law school, practiced engineering and was licensed in Ohio as a P.E. Over the past 40 years I have, as an attorney, represented engineers, architects, developers and construction contractors from time-to-time in contract negotiation and dispute resolution. From the vantage point of that background, I have been asked to comment on your proposed additions to Board Rule 137.63 (b)(4). The proposed additions address two issues – the first attempting to define the engineer as a "faithful agent" for employers in subpart (A), and the second attempting to define the engineer as a "faithful agent" for clients in subpart (B). Both attempts are, in my opinion, ill-advised for the reasons stated below.

Subpart (A) goes far beyond the requirement to avoid conflicts of interest, and is overly broad. If enforced to its logical conclusion it would penalize engineers who are common-law employees of business organizations and engineering firms for simply exercising their legal rights to change employment and take their acquired knowledge with them to a new employer. Subpart (A) requires that the employer’s time, equipment, resources and project information be used "only for the benefit of their employer and not for personal gain or the benefit of any outside employment purposes." Yet every engineer learns on the job and acquires skills and useful knowledge from utilization of the employer’s resources of time, equipment usage and project information. That is how engineers (and all other professionals and trades persons) grow in their ability to serve the public. The law does not allow employers to restrict, even by contract, the transfer of acquired knowledge for the benefit of new employment, except under very limited conditions. There is a large body of law in Texas which defines the extent and limits which are placed on employers and employees in this regard. Subpart (A) broadly interpreted conflicts with the statutory and common-law rights of engineer employees, and should not be enacted by the Board.

Subpart (B) states principles of good contract drafting and performance, but goes too far in that it elevates less than perfect drafting and performance to an ethical violation. This opens the engineer to professional disciplinary action where a breach of contract claim is much more appropriate. It also opens an engineer involved in a law suit to the argument that the applicable "law" (as embodied in the Board ethical rules) always requires the engineer to meet every requirement of subpart (B), and that failure to do so is somehow always actionable malpractice. Any lawyer worth his license will make this argument in a dispute, and a jury that knows nothing of professional practice may well accept the argument. If you enact the proposed language, you will open engineering practitioners to unjustified risk of legal judgments which have no basis in common sense. The language of subpart (B) fails the interests of both the engineer and his or her clients in the following respects:

Defining the responsibilities of the engineer and client for a project is a two way street subject to negotiation between the engineer and client – yet (B)i places the burden of definition solely on the engineer. What is meant by "clearly"? – What is clear to two particular contracting parties may not be clear to two others. Circumstances of the parties vary all over the map. Whether or not something was clearly defined is better left to the flexibility of the legal process rather than rigidly imposed through ethical rules.

Clarity of the allocation of responsibilities is frequently the subject of contract disputes and of suits by third parties to recover for injuries suffered when something goes wrong. The law and legal practice is well developed to determine the issue under particular circumstances. Making clarity of responsibilities an ethical responsibility of only the engineer exposes him or her to substantial legal risk that may often belong to the client or to a plaintiff himself.

Making timely completion of services an ethical responsibility also places the Board’s disciplinary process in the position of deciding contract disputes when that decision would be better left to the parties through negotiation, mediation, and if necessary litigation. It provides the client with the leverage of threatening an ethics complaint, and places the engineer at a distinct disadvantage in settlement negotiations and litigation. All professional practitioners and their clients know that any number of circumstances can cause delays in performance, and that delays are often justified by circumstances beyond the engineer’s control – circumstances such as delays in decision making by a client or problems dealing with regulatory agencies. Again, where timeliness of performance is an issue, that issue is better left to the legal process for resolution if the parties themselves cannot resolve it by negotiation.

(B)iii requires that the engineer always communicate matters related to changes in writing. That may be advisable for large complex projects, but is not necessarily advisable for smaller projects, particularly where there is a relationship of mutual respect and trust between the client and engineer. To always require written communication can increase costs without corresponding benefit to the client, and can create a paper work nightmare for the engineer. Even where contracts require written communication, the law recognizes that the requirement may be waived by practice of the parties. Your proposed rule does not provide for that.

(B)iv makes it an ethical violation to be untimely in responding to client communications. This is appropriate in extreme cases. Timely communication is always good client relations practice. However, every delay in communication should not be an ethical violation, as such a delay is not necessarily a breach of the relationship between the engineer and client.

The commentary which precedes the changes states a determination that "there are no fiscal implications for the state or local government as a result of enforcing or amending the section as amended." That assessment could not be more mistaken. There are so many issues raised by the language of the amendment that any disciplinary action would require the same effort, Board involvement, and state expense for hearings, as is required of the parties in a civil trial. These issues include identification of key provisions in the allocation of responsibilities between engineer and client, the size of type font or other emphasis to flag the key provisions, and location of the key provisions in the body of a contract, and determination of what detail failed to be "clear." The issues also include whether accounting and project management systems and software are adequate to control schedules and costs, and which party should be responsible for which systems. If the Board greatly expands the rules to deal with specific issues of adequate performance, as is often done in consumer protection statutes, it would still find that one size does not fit all situations and that it accomplished nothing of practical significance.

The responsibility for sorting out the issues should be left to the engineer and client for resolution by negotiation, mediation, or litigation under already well established legal procedures and use of state resources already tailored to that task. The only sensible approach is to have the Board rules simply state that conflicts of interest are prohibited and sound engineering practice is required, and then leave it to the legal process with aid of technical expert witnesses to assess and resolve specific issues between specific parties.

The commentary also states that there "is no adverse fiscal impact to the estimated 1,000 small or 5,300 micro businesses currently regulated by the Board of Engineers." This also is mistaken. Just the requirement of always requiring written advice of changes creates a paper work burden on the small offices. Requiring an engineer to defend himself or herself on two fronts – before the Board and in civil courts, places an extraordinary burden on the small office. The proposed changes will divert the engineer’s time and attention from sound engineering practice to defensive practices in anticipation of potential law suits, driving up the cost of engineering services.

In summary, the Board’s proposed amendments may stem from good intentions. However they will accomplish no more than to provide plaintiffs’ attorneys making client claims or third party injury claims with more ways to get specious claims past the judge and in front of a jury. That does not serve the public, the client, or the engineer.

Yours truly,
Loren W. Peters

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How to be Rude

I go to the local Sbucks almost every day and I am constantly amazed at what I see that is a microcosm of what the society is becoming. Here is one instance. My daughter and I go in and see old dude just sitting there in his "its all about me" world. Hey dimwit, din't yo mama never teach you no manners? Or, as my German friend once said "What? Were you raised up in a barn?"

Now, do not think that he was oblivious. He knew perfectly well what he was doing. Especially as he had to pull the chair from the table across the aisle, and then, into the aisle, and, as he looked up from time to time and saw people snaking around his sorry ass.

Psychologists have a term for this - it is called "passive aggressive", you know like when you are walking down the sidewalk 4 ft wide (and of course, being NOT raised up in a barn, you are walking to the right side), and approaching you are 2 "youts" walking side by side taking up the entire sidewalk. They see you, you see them. You shift to the right indicating that you see them them - they keep walking abreast (and yes, you are in their vision field), but with NO subtle shift to indicate that they see you and thus indicate a forthcoming compensation and queing up on their part .... and expecting YOU to give them the whole freaking sidewalk by stepping off to the side.

Well, after having this happen a few times, and after discerning that the frequency of such rudeness was increasing, guess what? I don't move either. Why? Because I know they indeed see me. Thus it is that I keep going straight ahead. Men, women, children walking abreast on sidewalks, or in grocery stores, if your parents won't teach you manners then here is some pushback for you. My arms are strong and if you need a body block to teach you some freaking manners and that this world is not "all about you", then here is your schoolmaster. Thus, if you see me and you make no compensating indica after I have done my initial movement, then neither will I. Nor will I turn sideways for you to pass. HINT: This world is about cooperation and getting along. On the sidewalk, and in life, you are supposed to que up so everybody has space enough. And parents, if you let you little pukes run down the aisle in the grocery store, then they better not run into my path cause I ain't moving aside. Here is a parting tip for you - If you are wondering why your kids show no respect for you, it is because you have taught them that it is all about them by your having never taught them respect for others.

Oh yeah - and here is how he left things....

That's right's all about YOU, you MORON. Put the chair back where you got it from.

The dude is here again. Unfreaking believable - how long before I have a conversation with him about his boneheadedness? What do the readers think? What would you do?

Go to the poll at the upper right of the blog and cast you vote.