Windows on the World of Raymond Plank
Founder, Apache Corp
Vol. 2010 No. 8





The elections have passed but the stench continues to impact the nostrils of the people of the world.  Not since the fingers on William Jefferson Clinton’s first mid term election when then Congressman, Newt Gingrich, challenged the White House, has America been privy to such a warm-up spectacle and outcome.  Clinton’s era at the plate was modest melodrama compared to the magnitude of America’s concerns, fears, and profligacy this round, during which interlude our country’s decline on multiple fronts continued.


With the leftist Democrats controlling the Senate, House, the White House, and battling to dominate the Judiciary, the Gingrich era proved to be but a warm-up costly game for that in process from both sides of the political aisle within the U.S., while global peoples, who contracted our viruses, were and remain appalled. 


Beyond control of the House of Representatives shifting control at mid term, one need be no genius to comprehend the frustration, fear, and anger behind American anxiety.  Rather than seek to balance the costs of governments, local, state and national, the President and Federal Reserve, came forward with the matter of spending much larger than the combined carnage of both World Wars 1914-1918 and Hitler’s attempt at world domination 1939 through 1945. 


Back in the 1930ies, the Glass Steagall Act was passed into law of the land to prevent the banks, savings and loans, investment bankers of Wall Street, and the Federal Reserve with its network of relatives from acting in self-serving concert against the interests of middle America until the sophisticated lobbyists, and middlemen prevailed in larger doses of medicine which have listened to uniform decline and fall of history’s recorded civilizations.  Chaplain Bill Clinton pronounced the last rites of Glass Steagall while billions of dollars became trillions of the currencies in excess of cash generated by work versus the printing presses.


I am appalled at the thought that our greatest forces for advancement point to corruption at the levels of governance, around and among those whose duty and oath of office is to serve rather than mislead, and seduce and repeat the process.


The protection of mid America, the men and women in the streets of the U.S. and abroad had been protected by the provisions of the Glass Steagall Act which had made it illegal for banks, investment bankers of Wall Street, Savings and Loans, Mortgage Associations to eagerly get into the bloomers of each others’ franchises.


However, the big coveted their competitor franchises while swarms of lobbyists, Wall Street investment firms, and major banks on their way to unrestricted financial plundering, finally fully enabled by William Jefferson Clinton, the looters warmed up, practicing their trade with such sterling performances as the Savings & Loan circus and falling housing values, which of course, could only rise.  Only a few hundred billion that time but excellent practice for the fig tart Bernanke – Obama crisis, but not before Warren Buffet had taken more than a trip around the block with Solomon Bros. and its spun-out genius pool which sired Long Term Capital Management and brought the investment back together to plaster over their mistaken greed with self-assessments from 50 to 300 million each to some, themselves, and the financial world along the way.


By mid term in 2010, America had asked and answered for itself, “How can we improve the employment conditions, by throwing more money at every ass hole with printed paper funds we propose to pay back after we’ve doubled or tripled what we already printed and threw to the winds?”


Fortunately, there is a basis for hope.  Peoples globally better understand that “turning the other cheek,” ignoring causes of disorder have gone way too far, and must be reversed.


In 1789 early Americans recognized exploitation by nations which exercised self-interested colonial power over settlers who had fled to the U.S. for the opportunity to lead better lives where power decisions made from afar were inappropriate to the young and struggling colonies of America.  Step one, The Declaration of Independence clarified the objectives “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Since the pioneers wanted independence, they would identify and commit that which they sought, making it indelibly clear what they could and would not abide.


The Constitution followed in the sequences, as a group of educated articulate people created the framework for a government with the safeguards of balance of power within itself.  A Bill of Rights amplified the Constitution, while the actions which cleared the path to get underway was the Revolutionary War.


About a week after November 2nd 2010 elections day, foreign commentary began to register in periodicals.


From Brazil’s President Elect, Dilma Rousseff, “The last time there was a competitive devaluation of currencies it ended up where it did, in the Second World War.”  That global battle including first the Stalin unification of the Soviet Union and subsequent defeat of Germany and Japan lost a hundred million lives, when the world population was half today’s and prior to present day bomb capabilities a thousand times that of the atomic blasts of August 1945 which ended the war.


Concurrenly Wolfgang Schauble, German Finance Minister noted, “It doesn’t add up when the Americans accuse the Chinese of currency manipulation and then…artificially lower the value (purchase power) of the dollar.”


Meanwhile, the Chinese Vice Finance Minister, Zhu Guangyao, noted, “The U.S. decision does not recognize, as a country that (which) issues one of the world’s major reserve currencies, its obligation to stabilize (not soil) capital markets.”



In the same time frame, The Wall Street Journal’s headline read, “Fed Global Backlash Grows” to which I would opine, so long as we chose to pursue the course we are steering, we are confining America to disproven political and social perceptions rather than facing the causes crippling people around the world.







I believe so.  There are two major questions:


As a nation we dumped our contagious financial virus on the world while the resultant plague continues to expand rather than reverse.  Are we prepared to dramatically change?


The second major issue is a question itself: Do we as a nation possess the political will to change directions currently in depth?  I think we may well be.


Since F.D.R. in 1932, the victim bandwagon has been gathering force and fury, even to the point where “butt-licking” Sweden has made a political mockery of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to former V.P. Al Gore and President Obama; the more remarkable in contrast to India’s great peace leader Mahatma Gandhi having been nominated nine years but not accorded the then great honor, and Mother Teresa finally being recognized for her world contribution impacting human rights in 1979.


Meanwhile, Greece, Spain, and Ireland have “botched it;” Ireland with so much per capita debt, that if like Venezuela, Argentina, and Bolivia, are lined up in the bread line, and our own Nancy Pelosi, to name but one of many, continues their crusade of muddle middle men (and women) antics.


Rome was neither built in a day, nor declined and fell from earlier glory in a day.  We, are, I regret, picking up speed.


Sometimes I wonder if those “take away government legions” of self servers were to tax out Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and a few George Soros’, if the “deserving” victims would be satisfied to know that the wealth confiscated from the three might perhaps balance our governments’ income for a whole month. 


We have, of course, already whipped our country’s work ethic, our savings ethic, our transparency ethic, and our country’s retirement plans (melted by a third), after our peerless leaders note, the “recession is over.”  Tell it to the unemployed, and middle Americans seeking to educate children.  In the 2010 mid term elections, the message was clearer than that of a broom sweeping out a few dead rats. 


The big weaknesses of the elections were the waste of time and growing amounts of negative charges and countercharges among the combatants seemingly bent on further digging in their fixed battle front lines.


If we are to have positive change, one opportunity stands out: True reform must emanate from “we the people” becoming more proactive rather than more cynical.


Groups of people, bent on making a small, constructive difference can stand up for values which collectively can make a difference.


In the area of structural reform, having spent hours in discussion with former president Jimmie Carter, our government lacks the capability for self-reform.  The initiative needs to come from where the virus originated and spread, “we the people.”


One focus should be on shorter terms of office for incumbents, i.e. 8 years for the presidency, a dozen for U.S. Senators, and 2 four-year terms for members of the House of Representatives. 


Committee chairmen should be appointed for limited terms, and seniority should not be among the selection criteria.


Lobbyists should be substantially reduced in number, and allocations of funds for particular pieces of legislation should not be drafted by lobbyists.


End “ear-marking” and give to senior elected officials the one-line veto.


Shorten the campaigning session, which with campaigning and the “late breaking news” 365 day per year unending, clamor.


Funds raised in the form of “soft money,” or spent from private or union accumulated capital should be limited.


Surplus funds in one’s campaign committee should not be ladled out by one over funded candidate to others to buy favor.


I have not thought through a direct means of rendering certain scurrilous public polls to influence public opinion in the direction the office seeker adapts one’s position after the “pump has been primed.”


Were a dozen reasonably knowledgeable and interested persons to meet to discuss America’s pressing needs, and how they might better be addressed creatively, there might be a dozen topical areas for our “hit parade” for focus. 


Technology has enabled remarkable advancement in the period of lifetimes now approaching a century in many nations.  Yet in the socio/political areas of life, we have cancelled out much, if not most of the advancement of humanity. 


The anarchy lies in the reality that while the potential for “a better world” in which to live has increased, have kept pace with, if not out distancing our committed will to seek a better world for life beyond the narrowing parameters of blatant ego and self-interest.


Our model for accomplishment and success is sadly overdue for deep reassessment.  Laid out before us is not only the potential for technology’s advancement, but the recorded history of mankind from which to learn and relearn, the values which comprise the basis for advancement versus collapse.


My hope for civilization is predicated on the remarkable capacity of the individual to grow, expanding horizons and achievement over a full lifetime rather than otherwise copping out. 


It’s my conviction that people are, on balance, good, friendly, hopeful, and capable, better able to serve as stewards of values and performance while growing, advancing, and sharing free of the self abuse and others within their conscience and self-awareness.  It is through recognition that while our capabilities can grow, the environment needs involve on any form or organization, from family, to durable adaptable institutions, small and large entities, for profit or non profit, a sense of humility lived able to hold in check.


For me, the inspiration from the mid term elections of 2010 is in the belief that people the world over increasingly recognize that we are running amuck down the wrong track, and it’s time to clean up the mess long in the making.


Does that spell socialism?  No, we are already past that marker.  Fascism, communism, or anarchy?  We’re close enough to reject, at the point of necessity, with overreaching ego, and destructive condescension. 


While the thought is in mind, I want to comment on the overworked application of the word growth.  We have become so sanctimonious about the growth deity (the TV program with its 4 to 6 ads in every break seeks to make growth a sacred cow of the past, but needs revamping of goals).  Train cars in the form of presidents and foreign leaders have marked the importance of “growth,” of jobs, manufacturers of much already in surplus, of excess extraction of resources, of consumption of electricity, airline travel, use of water, advertising, that it occupies more communication time than the subject matter for people who want to follow, and of course, so much political tripe that contamination overwhelms reason.


The points I would underscore are two:  growth has become a false God, an end in itself.  Second, concentrate on quality at commensurate price, and growth may well be the lifetime result.  To tackle what needs to be accomplished requires that we change the metric from more of the same, and do so now. 


Merry Christmas and a better New Year for America!