Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Crafting A Better Society

The Largest City Most People Have Never Heard Of
Ask the average person. What and where is Lagos? Not only do most people have no idea about this they cannot name the highest elected officials in their own state or more then a city or two in China. According to Wikipedia the free online encyclopedia Lagos is a port city in Nigeria and the seventh fastest-growing city in the world. The latest reports estimate the population at 21 million, making Lagos the largest city in Africa. To the right is a photo of the city's center and skyline.

It is important to emphasize just how little most people know about the world and to make the point about how valuable real knowledge is. In our modern world we are constantly assaulted with so much data, information and noise that it is often hard to stay focused. How people live their lives and the quality of those lives is basic when defining our existence and society. With all the debate about gay marriage, gun control, funding pre-k, and such we should put high on our agenda the goal of crafting a better, smarter, and overall improved society. Programs to promote and teach better parenting should be considered and made a focal point of in this endeavor.

Simple does work! We can start by passing laws the average person can understand after that leave it up to the courts to enforce them by putting fines upon those that fail to follow the law and its spirit. The clowns in Washington have gone over the top in creating legislation that is incomprehensible. We must remember you cannot legislate decency. Word processors and copy machines created a major change in the way our government functioned. Before these machines it was much harder for Washington to generate laws that were 500 plus pages that read like a bad book. These laws confuse and complicate our lives. The day word processing replaced the manual typewriter a monster was unleashed and from it poured word, after word, after word.

Easier is not always better! This post was inspired by a comment made about online shopping, the comment was " I prefer the 'no effort' approach of Amazon shopping and view it as the way of the future..." After I pointed out the benefits and reasons to support our local stores such as our the money remaining in our community longer creating local jobs and bolstering local institutions.  The question I was forced to ask is, what is best for society? Using unemployment as an example, many people view it as a trap people fall into but can't fall out of. While we say the rate of "unemployment" has stabilized at a terrible but not quite as  terrible level understanding how unemployment impacts society long-term is more difficult and very important.

Just the other day I caught myself asking, how stupid have we become? In a world of massive information how uninformed is the average person? The answer may be so disturbing that we can't handle the truth or we may simply be to lazy or stupid to address it. So much to learn, so little effort to do it. A curse of modern technology is what has been described as garbage in garbage out. Sometime less is more. Man is an animal that has tied and has bound his fate so tightly to machines that we are become dependent on them for everything. This does not bode well for our future.

As our lives center around interacting with machines and we become more focused on our personal gratification each of us becomes the center of our own universe and a part of humanity quietly slips away. Crafting a better society is difficult when you are slowly being "dumbed down" by the forces around you and everyday life. The leisure we gained by harnessing machines to lessen our daily toil was to generate time to think and enjoy life. Instead we often choose less noble pursuits and distractions. Values and education does matter. This my friends is why we seem to be making little progress in solving the many real problems we face.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

When Propaganda And Surveillance Intersect!

For decades a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government's mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, 2013, that taboo came silently to an end with the implementation of a new law passed in January. This unleashes thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption. This "reform" was criticized by many human rights activist as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts. Prior to that time the massive amount of U.S. programming produced by the Broadcasting Board of Governors such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks could only be viewed and broadcast in foreign countries. The programming varies in tone and quality, but its breadth is vast and it is sent out to more than 100 countries in 61 languages.
Government Propaganda And Surveillance Don't Mix

Unleashing propaganda is a slippery slope and blurs the definition of truth. Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed towards influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position by presenting only one side of an argument. Propaganda is usually repeated and dispersed over a wide variety of media in order to create the chosen result in audience attitudes. The message is often created by spinning, scrubbing, molding, and shaping it until it resembles little in the way of truth before sending it out to the public. It can go as far as to encourage a "call to action" where those listening are asked to push forward the agenda. The saying "power corrupts and absolute power absolutely corrupts" is well rooted in examples of abuse throughout history.

I like the saying concerning pornography that it is hard to define but we all know it when we see it. The problem with propaganda is that often goes undetected or is accepted as truth. With media such a dominate force in shaping our thoughts and opinions we should be very concerned as to who controls it and the agenda it pursues. One of the ugly realities of modern communication is the ability to send out millions of messages directly and unfiltered, this lends itself to be used in unsavory ways or to gain an advantage. This becomes a real problem when one person or a small group controls the message and uses an army of tax paid employees to shape, spin, and send it forth. When government takes an active role in creating these programs both government accountability and the role of the free press and media are directly diminished.

While I'm uncertain as to where my distrust of authority figures stems from this feeling has been reinforced by many incidents that I have witnessed over the years. An ugly example of how propaganda or a government shaped message can do massive harm is how the euphoria over the "victory" in Iraq has now been replaced by increasing doubts about how the Bush administration justified and reported on the war. No weapons of mass destruction were found and the Iraqi people we were to liberate did not greet American troops with open arms. Letters to the editor in major newspapers complain that the Bush administration lied about the war. Many in the press are now suggesting that the pro-war arguments of the administration were deceitful and that the public was duped by propaganda into supporting a phony war. 

Americans' suspicions of propaganda by their own government have a long history. World War I which ended America's isolation from major European conflicts, was modern propaganda's launching pad. Both sides in this global conflict, especially the Allies, employed this method of mass persuasion to defeat their enemy. In April 1917, shortly after declaring war on Germany, the Wilson administration established the Committee on Public Information (CPI), which at its peak employed 150,000 people. Its goal was the creation of a "war will" among an ethnically diverse American population. Abroad, its purpose was to convince the public that a reliable, honest, and invincible America would defeat German militarism making the world safe for democracy.

When countries wrestle each other for dominance on the world stage, government-sponsored propaganda can get pretty intense. Some of the anti-American stuff that came out of North Korea during the Korean War was brutal and make the American soldiers out to be monsters that enjoyed torturing women and children. A major point of this article is to show how disruptive to truth propaganda can be. North Korean propaganda doesn’t simply attack the U.S. for past failings but instead it accuses U.S. servicemen of engaging in some pretty messed up acts that terrify the people of Korea into blind obedience to their “protective” government. The more restrictive a government and the less information that flows, the less aware its people become. 

Once this starts occurring it becomes easier for a government to set the agenda according to its own interests. The sole aim of any form of propaganda is to influence an audience in an emotional rather than rational manner. This week the U.K. government defended its surveillance activities within the country in front of a special tribunal that heard complaints from privacy and human-rights groups. Without confirming that snooping was taking place they said that there were sufficient safeguards including the tribunal itself that made sure the government wasn't abusing its spying power. They added that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, a law enacted in 2000 that lays out the framework for surveillance, was clear in setting out what type of interception could take place.

The proceedings in front of the special court that investigates complaints against intelligence agencies stemmed from disclosures last year by former American NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters tapped into cables carrying world-wide communications data. Soon after human-rights groups filed complaints that said the government was circumventing laws designed to protect residents' privacy. Ironically this all plays out the same week that with little debate the U.K. government passed an emergency bill requiring telecom companies to retain information about customers' communications for up to a year. The five-day trial this week was unusual because the arguments were made in public and created challenges because many of the arguments were theoretical.

Lawyers for the government said several times that they could neither confirm nor deny whether any of the surveillance  programs existed. The government said confirming or denying allegations contained in the complaints could expose holes in intelligence systems and make future "no comment" responses seen essentially as a confirmation. All this then becomes a bit of speculation as Tribunal panel members would layout examples of how the law would apply to people who were searching the Internet or communicating with others about making bombs. The human-rights groups, however, paint scenarios in which people's sexual preferences or choices of reading material would unwittingly come under the scope of government surveillance. 

  When governments spy on their people and government propaganda programs intersect it is very dangerous and the potential for abuse is huge. This leads down a road towards less freedom and is paved with the bones of all those who have failed to be outraged by governments slowly removing their liberties This leaves all of us open to both blackmail or abuse by those in power for what they claim is a greater good as they determine just what that might be. Never overestimate the sophistication and ability of our government to clarify exactly what is happening anywhere and at any time. The recent score of scandals plaguing Washington makes it clear that fact-free confusion and speculation which fuel the propaganda-based reporting system are not in short supply.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ukraine Crash A Propaganda Gem

The area where the Malaysian passenger jet MH17 fell in Ukraine is a crash site not a crime site! Painting it as a crime site does not make it so. Whether shot down by accident or intentionally, most of the evidence on how and why this occurred will most likely come from sources other than where the flight went down. I for one feel total disgust and find myself seriously distressed that this tragedy has become nothing more than a propaganda gem to be exploited by those who what to galvanize public opinion against Russia and demonize Vladimir Putin. 
MH17 Is A Human Tragedy

Anyone that has had dealings with so called authorities descending upon their community with ridicule and an agenda can understand the angst of the locals in the crash area. On one hand the locals are told to leave the bodies and all things alone while no real help arrives to set things right. A group of suits flown into a city miles away who visit the crash site for a very short time to view evidence but not collect bodies would rile anyone having to deal with such a bunch of clowns masquerading as help. 

From my experience I suspect many of these investigators and officials could not speak the language and were busy making unrealistic demands on the locals. This would extend to criticizing those who did not bend over to do their bidding and labeling them as uncooperative. A few years ago a large dog that had gotten away from its owner somewhere in the area was hit and killed in front of a building that I owned. A motorist pulled the 90 pound animal up on the city sidewalk leaving him only feet from my front door.

Upon calling the city to have the body of the dead dog picked up they informed my that if the animal was on the sidewalk I would have to dispose of it. The dispatcher suggested I check again to see if it was indeed in the street and not on the sidewalk, to my surprise it was. Not to say the body of a person falling from the sky is like a dog hit by a car I will say neither should be left for days in the sun or where animals are able to feast on the remains. A strong case can be made that it is disrespectful to not cover or move the body to a safe area. 

An article on MSN said ( Fighting flared in eastern Ukraine overnight. The government said it was pressing its offensive near Donetsk and Luthansk.. Malaysia, whose national airline has been battered by its second major disaster this year, said it was "inhumane" to bar access to the site around the village of Hrabove, near Donetsk, but said Russia was doing its "level best" to help.) I would think Ukraine would halt action if they really wanted inspectors and clean up crews to be able to do their work. 

Remember this is a war zone and it does not seem prudent to fly directly over the center of a war zone at only one thousand feet above the official limit. While it may later be proven otherwise most likely the jet was shot down by a missile by accident over a war zone. It is possible more sinister motives exist and the act was intentional but if so a strong argument can be made that Putin had far more to lose by this event than  he could ever hope to gain. Sadly, the deaths of hundreds of innocent people is being used by those who want to fan the flames of war. For them flight MH17 is merely a propaganda gem that has fallen from the sky.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Putin Holds All The Cards

After America was caught spying on its Europeans friends it is little wonder they are less than enthusiastic about trusting the Obama administration. Now Germany is in a new uproar concerning more ongoing spy activity by America. This happens while still fresh in the minds of many Europeans is Obama to his discredit backing down and away from his words about a "red line in the sand" during the Syria fiasco. None of this inspires great confidence in Washington. In a display of self-righteousness, President Obama continues to scold Russia for intervening in the affairs of Ukraine. Secretary of State John Kerry even went so far as to declare it unacceptable to invade another country on a "completely trumped-up pretext," or just because you don't like its current leadership.

It's difficult to say if the double standards exhibited by the White House or what appears to be a total lack of self-awareness by U.S. officials is the most surprising part of the unfolding Ukraine saga. While Obama  continues to charge his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, with violating Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in breach of international law, it is difficult to forget this comes after the infamous "Fuck the EU" comment by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in the run-up to Ukraine's revolution. The comment revealed the extent to which Washington was recklessly maneuvering to undermine Ukraine's elected pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, by backing the Kiev street protesters' demands.

In reality, America has few military options in Russia's backyard unless it has the backing of a full and enthusiastic NATO and that is very unlikely. Europe has reason to be unexcited about a possibly long and expensive conflict. While still trying to recover from a recession Europe would face fuel shortages and a massive spike in the price of natural gas. Currently, Russia supplies much of the gas used in Europe, this gives Putin a great deal of leverage. If an actual ground attack were to occur few see the Russians as likely to roll over as other armies have when America approaches.

It appears Russia has been thinking several steps ahead and was prepared for being squeezed out of the Group of 8 for some time. With the recent exclusion of Russia what is now known as the Group of 7 and is made up of mostly insolvent nations has seen its global influence wane. A major shift in the geopolitical axis towards the east is taking place. As the days of summer past and we move towards fall the thought of a long cold winter will begin to weigh heavily upon the Euro-zone. Time appears on the side of Putin who has not taken the lead in promoting violence in Ukraine but instead left it to those in Kiev who insist on holding the fractured and bankrupt country together by force.

Putin has sat back and allowed violence to fester and to his credit, he holds the trophy of a bloodless Russian annexation of Crimea. Obama would give his eye teeth for such a victory. All the self-righteous huffing and puffing in Washington over Ukraine jars on European and especially Russian ears after the multiple U.S. led invasions and interventions into several countries in recent years. Not stopping after attacking Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda training camps after the 9/11 attacks, Bush opted for full-scale regime change. The lamentable consequences of that decision are still being felt 13 years later in a crumbling Iraq and by the ever-growing numbers of Afghan civilians dying as the final NATO withdrawal approaches.

Europe is furiously scrambling to find alternative sources of energy should Gazprom pull the plug on natural gas exports to Germany and Europe. The surge in Ukraine gas prices is probably the best indication of what Europe faces. A cutoff by Russia would severely disrupt supplies. The EU, Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, and the Balkan Countries received 30% of the natural gas they burned last year from Russia according to the U.S. Energy Department "We have to be very careful not to hurt ourselves more than we hurt the other side," the Polish Foreign Minister said recently in Brussels. This comes after Russia announced what many have called the "Holy Grail" energy deal with China that has geopolitical implications for the whole world by binding the two nations in a commodity-backed axis. 

If Europe and the United States isolate Russia, Moscow will look East for new business, energy deals, military contracts, and political alliances. In a sign that Russia has the ability to use its economic power to drive a wedge between its former G20 allies, France’s government said this week it will deliver Mistral helicopter carrier warships to Russia as planned, thus rejecting requests from its European and U.S. allies to cancel the sale. There are also significant dependencies on Russian grain exports, particularly in the EU. It looks the pragmatists and non-ideologues may be gaining the upper hand over the  more hawkish western voices who were risking conflict with Russia.

The recent huge fine levied upon a French Bank by the American government is viewed by some as financial blackmail and has reinforced the idea America has lost its moral compass. It appears Obama has been following in Bush's footsteps as America has repeatedly and cynically without U.N. security council authorization.launched or backed myriad armed attacks on foreign soil, in Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan to name a few. We should remember the expanded use of drones has made few friends for America in the international community. Critics say the Obama administration has continued to flout international law by refusing to join or recognize the International Criminal Court developed in 1945.

Nightmarish World War II memories linger in Moscow, Ukrainian neo-fascists were among those who seized control in the new government in Kiev yet the U.S. rushed to give its blessing to what the Kremlin later described as a "coup d'etat". While Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, reflected these worries when he voiced "most serious concern" over Ukraine in phone calls to the French, German and Polish foreign ministers the EU, knowing this was what Washington wanted, just looked on. Little wonder the Russians were furious at what they saw as a western double-cross. Don't hold your breath for Putin to back-off or back-down, he has put down his marker and is now playing both Obama and Kerry for fools in a contest that cost Russia little. It is likely that if If Putin doesn't get his way next week he will next month or next year at the latest.

Many people see Ukraine as the worst east-west crisis since the end of the Cold War and as the biggest foreign test of the Obama Presidency but with so many problems in the world eyes have shifted to the collapse of Iraq and turmoil in the Mideast. Putin is an unredeemed Cold War throwback and one tough cookie and he is prepared for the crisis to get very ugly. Similar battles elsewhere on Russia's periphery, in Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and maybe Belarus and the Baltic states have hardened Putin. Whatever they think in Washington, and whatever the financial markets say, it's working for him  with polls showing his popularity soaring at home. One of these days western leaders will learn to stop underestimating him and recognize Russia's leader as the canny, dangerous, and unyielding opponent he is.

For the latest update see the article below;

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Children at our border $72,000 each!

A much discussed issue over the last several weeks has been the large influx of children crossing the southern  border and entering America unaccompanied by an adult. Most of these kids are coming up from countries south of Mexico. In 2011, fewer than 4,000 children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were caught crossing the border. That number has surged to more than 40,000 of the 52,000 children caught or turning themselves in since October. A law passed in 2008 makes a distinction and requires that these children from countries other than Mexico and Canada be handled and processed differently. Reality on the ground has changed since that law was passed and altering or repealing it would change the way these kids are processed.

This problem has been building for years, a paper trail of funding request show that for months Washington knew this problem was forming but nothing was done. Now calling it a crisis President Obama has requested $3.7 billion in emergency funds from Congress to address the surge of unaccompanied children crossing into the United States from the south. The request for funds which is nearly twice as much as originally expected would be used to improve border security, care facilities for the children, additional immigration judges and agents, and efforts to help Central American nations curtail the exodus of children northward.

Lets cut to the chase and the reason I'm writing this article, it is to call attention to the money and the math behind it. Rounding it off for fun 50,000 goes into 3.7 billion 74,000 times. this means the government is asking for roughly $71,153 to cover "handling" each of these children. This does not include the cost of  paying for medical cost and schooling for a 15 year old boy allowed to join his undocumented father in Houston. This is only additional funding going to agencies that are "overwhelmed." Everyone seems to agree this influx of children is a problem. Yes, they are children. Yes, it must and should be handled but to an American who has worked all their life and now lives on a monthly social security check of under $1,000 a month the cost will most likely seem excessive.

Of the 3.7 billion dollars 1.8 are slated to go to Health and Human Services. Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell says it would assist their efforts to humanely treat the needs of the children at the border. "We don't have enough beds," Burwell urged "a robust and compassionate approach" noting many of the children crossing the border are often fleeing personal danger in their respective countries. HHS also provides basic medical and mental health exams to the children, as well as some education resources. The goal of this special outlay is to speed up the processing of these immigrants, with an eye toward sending as many as possible back to their countries of origin and improving the detention conditions while they are here. The White House said that without supplemental funding agencies do not have sufficient resources to adequately address this situation.

Obama's request includes $1.6 billion for the departments of Homeland Security and Justice to support more aggressive deterrence and enforcement. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would get $1.1 billion. Most of it would pay for detention and removal of undocumented adults traveling with children, expansion of alternatives to detention programs, and “additional prosecution capacity” for adults with children who cross into the US illegally. Customs and Border Protection would receive $433 million and an additional $300 million will go to State governments and international programs for efforts to counteract misinformation campaigns in Central America and to discourage these children from making the trip north.

This is a dangerous trip and many children have climbed upon the top or hang on to the side of a train known as "the beast" for a free ride north. Experts say they are fleeing exploding violence in their homelands, and are often under the misconception that once here, they'll be permitted to stay. Others come because their parents are conned by smugglers who promise families their children will be safe after they cross the border. The horrors that the children are fleeing are real. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world outside of a war zone, with 90.4 homicides per 100,000 people. Much of the killing is concentrated in poor neighborhoods, where families will do anything to get their children to safety.

This violence, combined with an ambiguous White House policy, has created the current situation according to Scott Stewart, vice president of tactical analysis at Texas-based intelligence firm Stratfor. In June 2012, President Obama signed a memo called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It permits teen illegal immigrants to stay in the US for up to two years. It also provided new discretion to ICE in enforcement of immigration laws. While DACA does not grant illegal immigrants permanent status, the policy is not well understood in Central America. In fact, we are seeing reports of teenagers showing up at the border with cheat sheets designed to help them gain DACA status and make it more difficult to be deported, such as  claiming their parents are dead, or that they are fearful for their security.

The fact is many of the thousands of children will get to stay, despite warnings to the contrary. The Wall Street Journal reports that data, as well as interviews with the children and their advocates, show that very few children are sent home, and many are allowed to stay in the US for years, if not permanently. Justice Department figures show that in fiscal year 2013, immigration judges ordered 3,525 children to be deported, with an additional 888 allowed to return home voluntarily. These numbers pale in comparison with the number of juveniles apprehended, amounting to between 23,000 and 47,000 children apprehended annually in each of the last five years.

The reasons children are staying included backlogged courts, winning the right to stay, and simply ignoring orders to appear in court. In recent months, the US has been overwhelmed with finding shelter for children entering the country illegally. President Obama repeatedly said that they won’t be allowed to stay but the reality is very different and until this changes more are going to come because they're achieving what they want, safety and reunification with their families. The head of the immigration court system told a Senate hearing that 46 percent of juveniles failed to appear at their hearings during the last eight months. The problem is expected to get worse, due to growing backlogs. As of June 30, there were 41,832 pending juvenile cases, up from about 30,000 nine months earlier and it is common for court dates to be set two or three years out.

This is a bad situation not a humanitarian catastrophe and many ways exist to ease the cost and resolve it in a way that diminishes governments role as the ultimate solution. First thing that must be done is retroactively change the 2008 law that gives these children special treatment. Other ideas include funding a  massive advertising campaign to let people know the borders are not open. At little cost the National Guard and Military can rotate troops to the border regions and aid in the round up of these youngsters. Refugee camps or centers to hold them can be ran and overseen by groups like the Red Cross and other NGOs. It is important we do what we can to help these children but this should not be another reason to expand government to clean up a mess government created.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Government Pandering In Disasters A Great Disservice

High profile incidents covered by the media often reassures the public that the government stands ready to rush to our aid in case of a national disaster. Following a tornado or hurricane in the news, we often see FEMA workers spread out and moving from door to door offering help to Americans in need. This reassuring media coverage is misleading. Be prepared that in the case of a major crisis or disaster if you find yourself in a large area of devastation the government will prove largely ineffective. If and when a really large Armageddon event does occur we will quickly become acutely aware that God helps those who help themselves.
During A Real Disaster, Help Will Be Hard To Find

The trend of pandering to victims that we have seen develop over the years may be a result of the battering former President Bush took in opinion polls following Hurricane Katrina. The pictures that the media posted following a slow response in handling Katrina haunt his administration and paint Bush as being insensitive and out of touch with the plight of poor Americans. At what point did government become responsible for dispensing sorrow and grief?  With the bar to show concern set at its current level little gets done in Washington.

Somehow the President has in a media driven world mistakenly adopted the role of consoler in chief and is expected to pour forth sympathy and cast out concern for every American following incidents of destruction or violence. It does not matter if it is an accident, shooting, or some natural disaster, in recent years all this has reached new heights where even in the case of a few deaths it is not uncommon to see the President leaping upon Air Force One and rushing to the scene to sympathize with families and friends. In this politically correct world, it has even gone so far as to the President being expected to weigh in as to minor tragedies that occur throughout the world.

It should be noted that much time is wasted performing these acts that could be better used and focused on solving many of the real and pressing problems that face America. In reality, this pandering is a major disservice to Americans in that it fosters the impression that government will be there for you if you ever get into a pickle or jam. While reassuring to many the false illusion of a competent and effective government ready to come to your aid comes at the cost of raising unrealistic expectations. I suspect that with the formation of the massive Homeland Security Agency this may be a case of reassuring the masses that their tax money has not been wasted.

A perfect example would be the government,s reaction to the Boston Marathon bombing. It was overwhelming but in the end, it was a homeowner checking the tarp on his boat noticing a spot of blood and not the thousands of law enforcement officers that brought the manhunt to an end. No matter how much planning is spent it is silly to think someone can quickly rush to an area they are totally unfamiliar with and institute actions to efficiently solve massive problems. Do not be fooled, in the case of a real disaster the government is generally not very effective, the real help will come from your neighbors, this has been the case throughout history.

All disasters are not created equal. In all reality, the Federal government would be relatively ineffective and not much help in a major crisis that covered a large area and affecting tens of millions of Americans. Anyone who has ever experienced the frustrations caused by a bad storm with power outages and such will tell you most help comes from nearby and government is not the answer. People who adopt the attitude that they are a victim following a real disaster and then simply wait for the government to arrive to set things straight are making a huge mistake and are risking the kiss of death.