When the cat’s away the mice will . . .

Sitting in my car in 1963 in front of my newspaper office at Wolfforth, Texas listening to Walter Cronkite tell us John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, I was shocked and dumbfounded.

I thought Kennedy was a spoiled playboy, but I admired his accomplishments, regardless of how much his daddy had paid for them, and his charisma, speech and polish, and I was deeply grieved by his assassination. He was an economics major at Harvard, as I was at Texas Tech. However flagrant his playboy escapades might have been I have learned through the years to appreciate more and more his ideals and what he planned to do as president of the US, such as get the US out of Vietnam as soon as possible, and raise the taxes of the oil industry. He cared about the poor and downtrodden and wanted to do what he could to improve their plight. I think there is a high probability he was assassinated by a conspiracy of some sort. His intentions posed threats for many people, especially people in the intelligence-military-industrial complex and in the oil industry. Right wing Cubans hated him because he refused to invade Cuba to get rid of Castro and communism using the full might of the US military. He crossed paths and conflicted with ruthless people in various walks of life, including the Mafia.

One of the most macabre pictures I ever saw was Lyndon Johnson being sworn in as US president on Air Force One with grief-stricken Jackie Kennedy at his side, solemnly swearing to uphold the laws of the US with one hand held in the air and the other placed on a bible, with John F. Kennedy’s corpse in a casket on the plane, en route to Washington, D.C,. from Dallas, Texas, an impromptu ritual cementing the replacement of a younger idealistic and charismatic, and perhaps naïve, president with an older cunning and powerful, much less naïve president, caused by a strange assassination, the true causes of which were unknown at the time, and most likely shall never be known.

I was not a Johnson fan either, having heard and read enough dirt about him to gag a maggot, but I was impressed with how he rammed the Civil Rights Act through Congress, however much I disapproved of the way he ramped up the Vietnam War, and left the taxes of the oil industry unraised.

As I documented in my book Business Voyages at, I graduated from Texas Tech University in the spring of 1962 with an economics degree, planning to go to law school, having been accepted at the University of Texas and Southern Methodist University law schools, going back home to work for my parents in their businesses before going to law school in the fall. During the summer my parents convinced me to work for them indefinitely in their small businesses instead of going to law school that fall, which would have been expensive. I couldn’t get along with my micro-managing father at work, so I started some businesses of my own, a weekly newspaper, a fire and casualty insurance agency, a real estate brokerage and a mortgage loan brokerage, in my small hometown. I made a little money, but I wanted more than the town had to offer. All my friends had left the place as soon as they graduated from high school. Still single, there was no interesting social life, nothing to do but work.

I sold my businesses in 1965 and moved back to Lubbock, home of Texas Tech, and got a job in a new Litton Industries electronics defense plant, put there by Tex Thornton who grew up in Stamford, Texas, not far from Lubbock. Thornton was the founder, chairman and CEO of Litton Industries, a Harvard business school graduate and one-time whiz kid at Ford Motor Company, who worked with another Harvard business school whiz kid, Robert McNamara, at Ford, who would run the Vietnam War for a time as President Lyndon Johnson’s defense secretary.

They hired me at Litton to work as an expediter and dispatcher. My entrepreneurial experience, my scores on their aptitude test, and my recommendation from the president of the regional natural gas company, who told me in my newspaper office about Litton coming to Lubbock, impressed the young middle manager who hired me, who told me he had a Harvard MBA and an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from Syracuse.

Having interviewed at other corporations, I learned I scored high on some parts of aptitude tests, too high for some corporations. A recruiter working for another corporation told me I scored 200 on one part of their aptitude test when the average was 100, the highest such score he had seen on their test. He said he sent the score in to his corporate headquarters to see if they knew where someone with such a score might fit in their organization, but he said he never heard back from them. I remembered taking his test, and being amazed when I finished one part of the test before the time expired, confident I had gotten all the questions right, the only time I ever had such a feeling after taking an aptitude test, the only time I had seen such questions on a test. The section was composed of aphorisms, such as “When the cat’s away the mice will. . . .”

Things did not work out at Litton either; going to work there was like getting out of the frying pan into the fire. I had a personality conflict with my supervisor and I was appalled and depressed by corporate life in general, people politicking and kissing-up on the chain of command, jockeying for special favors, and the whole idea of having a boss, having to please a boss doing specific tasks for him, to make him look good, a boss who could fire you at any time, a possibility I had never experienced, having never worked for anyone but my parents, and myself. It felt like I had been demoted several levels as a human being and was stuck in a prison.

I started with Litton in a makeshift facility they rented on the Texas Tech campus and ended up in a new state-of-the-art facility they constructed from scratch, large enough to house three hundred or so people on one shift, mostly females, who soldered wires and electronic components on circuit boards that went into guidance and control systems for military aircraft, the plant being a US defense department contractor. The plant manager told me females made much better assembly workers than males because they were used to using their fingers doing intricate work, such as crocheting. Many were divorcees with children, who needed the work. As a dispatcher, my job was to release and assign them jobs to do and provide them with electronic components and wires prearranged in what they called harnesses, to be soldered on circuit boards, sorted in Whirleys, plastic storage devices with rows of rotating circular compartments into which the components were sorted and placed, somewhat resembling a stacked Lazy Susan, small enough for me to carry around and place on work stations where the women sat and worked, according to AIs, assembly instructions on sheets of paper included in the Whirleys. The AIs told the workers exactly which holes in circuit boards in which to solder something. They sat at these work stations for eight hours day after day most of the time with a soldering iron in one hand and a soldering wire extending from a coil in the other, soldering capacitors, resistors, diodes and wire harnesses in holes on circuit boards about 3 x 6 inches in area and 3/16-inch in thickness. After the initial assembly the boards were placed in grey boxes, called Travelers, along with the paperwork, to be routed to further work, inspection and testing stations, finally being “bought off” by a Navy inspector before being shipped to another facility for insertion into a higher assembly, eventually winding up in a guidance and control system of a military aircraft.

The work had to be done right or bad things could happen. A corporate quality control person from Woodland Hills, California, the Litton headquarters, suddenly showed up one day and herded everyone on my shift, the day shift, into the cafeteria and showed a film of a plane that had crashed killing the pilot. He told the workers someone in this plant had soldered a bad connection causing the plane to crash. As I stood in the back of the cafeteria, the plant manager walked in and stood next to me visibly nervous. In a bit he asked me if the Woodland Hills QC person had said who did it. I told him no.

They knew who did it, since they could trace the serial number on a particular circuit board found in the crashed plane back to a particular worker using the paperwork route sheet for that serial number, which all workers stamped with their personal stamps whenever they finished a piece of work on any circuit board. The identity of the worker was not disclosed in the meeting. I was amazed there was any possibility they might do such a thing.

As a dispatcher I wrote the assembly and serial numbers of circuit boards, such as P3A and 641721-2231, on my chart, which I carried around on a clipboard. As an expediter I was supposed to know at all times where hundreds of such jobs were in the plant, after they had been moved from one work, inspection or testing station to another, and what percent complete they were. They told me I was responsible for the plant meeting its schedule. I was supposed to be able to find particular jobs in assembly at any time to expedite them regardless of the original schedule.

Having no knowledge of electronics or the defense industry when I went to work there, as an hourly employee, I had no idea what I was getting in for. The money was not bad, $1.70 cents per hour, and considering the overtime we put in I was making more money per month than my salaried supervisor, who had a master’s degree in manufacturing engineering from UCLA. But the job was a disaster. Anything that could go wrong always did go wrong. I spent about half my time looking for lost circuit boards. Supervisors on the floor would move boards and paperwork in their Travelers without telling me, causing me to lose track of where the job was on my chart, causing me to have to track them down reading serial numbers written in handwriting on white labels affixed to the Travelers, which was quite a chore, almost like looking for a needle in a haystack in some cases.

One day the Harvard middle manager that hired me came out on the plant floor stressed out wanting to know where a certain board was. I told him it was probably in a certain pile of boxes in “Hold for Parts,” a section in the inventory area for jobs that could not be finished until new shipments of components were received from vendors. He tried to read serial numbers on boxes faster than I could as we went through the pile, which he could not, which distressed him even more.

We were always behind on the master schedule. Almost all the women in the plant were new to the work, many of them having grown up on West Texas cotton farms. The higher ups kept telling us we were nowhere near as good as our sister plant in Woodland Hills. A middle manager told me when he saw women cringing when I walked up to the line, he would know I was doing a good job. I told him if you keep pushing these people as stressed as they are, there is no way the plant would meet its schedule.

I lasted seven months. About the only thing I liked about working there was playing chess at lunch in the cafeteria. There were forty or so salaried employees with college degrees working on my shift and some of them were good chess players. The day I got fired, I played an engineer, who had played chess in Europe, who was probably the best chess player in the plant, to a draw. The Harvard MBA that hired me told me when he fired me a few hours later that day I was too sensitive to the needs of people for production control work, and I should get into something like personnel. He also said I did not move fast enough from job to job. And that was about it. I looked him in the eye, got up, and walked out of his office, telling him, “That’s the way it happens, moving West.”

I had to sign a form when I went to work there I would have no outside business interests, which I did not at the time; but after working there about four months I had to take my newspaper back, since the fellow who bought it fell behind on his bank loan. I did not want to let the subscriptions terminate unfulfilled, so I ran the paper for another year or so before I shut it down, finally sending out pro rata checks for unexpired subscriptions, some as little as twenty-five cents. I didn’t tell anyone at Litton about this, and to my knowledge no one there ever found out. My little town was about 20 miles from the plant and I only had about 300 subscribers. For the last three or four months at Litton I put out the newspaper and did some graduate work at Texas Tech, putting in some long hours, up to eighty hours per week.

I vowed never to work for a large corporation again if I could find any other way of making a living, working at Litton being one of the most dispiriting experiences of my life, however educational it might have been. The Harvard MBA hiring and firing me also left Litton a few months after I did, joining a consulting firm, having done me a favor by firing me.

I did find another way of making a living. I became a college professor. In the next four years I finished a master’s degree in organizational behavior and a doctorate degree in management science at Texas Tech, receiving a PhD in business administration, working my way through with teaching assistantships, part-time instructorships, grants, and one part-time job typing freight bills at a freight line. I had to borrow $1,000 from my parents, which I paid back as soon as I got my first professor position. I taught one year at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, and moved to where I am retired now, in Bulloch County, Georgia, having taught business policy, ethics and entrepreneurship at Georgia Southern University from 1970-2005.

Richard Nixon was a sad case from beginning to end. Although I did not know it at the time, he apparently beat Hubert Humphrey in the presidential race of 1968 by committing treason, by undermining Johnson and the US team negotiating a peace settlement with the Vietnamese before Johnson left office, by convincing South Vietnam not to settle while Johnson was in office to deprive Humphrey of votes in the presidential election. Apparently Nixon was not only obsessive compulsive but character disordered, as Watergate showed, as well as vain, paranoid, grandiose, and lacking in good judgment. I remember him and Kissinger tantalizing us with “Peace is at hand” on TV for months after he took office before he finally shut down the Vietnam War, one of the most disastrous chapters of US history. I was relieved to see him go in 1974 as he flashed his standard smile holding his arms in the air in his standard maniacal way with a V for victory created with fingers on both hands as he turned around and faced the world one last time, at the door of his helicopter, before taking off at the White House for the last time.

The Nixon administration was confronted by the first oil crisis brought on by OAPEC, the Organization of Arab Oil Exporting Countries, in 1973, the first shot fired across the bow of Western capitalism by oil sheiks in the Middle East, letting the West know just exactly how important oil from their region was, shooting the price of oil up to $12 a barrel from $3 a barrel, increasing the price of gasoline at the pump from 30 cents a gallon to 60 cents a gallon, causing shortages of gasoline and heating oil, long lines at gasoline stations, and rationing. I had a forty-acre cattle farm at the time. Almost overnight nitrogen fertilizer went from $40 a ton to $200 a ton and cow prices went from 80 cents a pound to 40 cents a pound, making it impossible for me to make a profit raising cows on my 40 acres, and American agriculture has been less profitable ever since, especially for small family farmers.

Nixon signed the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act of 1973 providing for price controls, rationing and other means of coping with the energy crisis. There was talk of the world running out of oil and how consumers should conserve energy. As it turned out capitalism found other sources of oil and rationing and serious conservation measures have not been required, however much oil prices have inflated, the price of oil today being about $100 per barrel, and gasoline being about $3.50 a gallon.

Jimmy Carter was a breath of fresh air. I first saw him up close in 1970 when he was running for Georgia governor. He gave an informal speech I attended one afternoon about four o’clock on Sweetheart Circle at Georgia Southern, surrounded by pecan trees. A colleague had filled me in on Carter, telling me he was much smarter than your average peanut farmer, having a nuclear engineering degree from the Naval Academy. He came across as an intelligent citizen wearing blue jeans. I thought he did a good job as president. Although I thought his Baptist tone of voice was a bit preachy at times, I admired his intellectual honesty, integrity and high moral standards.

Not only had Arab oil sheiks become relevant in the lives of US citizens during Carter’s administration, so had inflation and lack of economic growth, stagflation, no doubt related to the energy crisis. After appointing Paul Volcker chairman of the Federal Reserve System, Carter was on the way to controlling the inflation problem when he left office, but the growth problem was still there, and so was the problem of the Middle East. Carter took steps to control the US budget and reduce the budget deficit, which was $74 billion in 1980. After accepting the Shah of Iran, our secular man in Iran, into the US for medical treatment in 1979 and Iranian students taking over the US embassy in Tehran, holding its inhabitants hostage, supported by the Ayatollah Khomeini, our Islamic nemesis, Carter’s chances for another term were very slim, especially after the helicopter crash there in the desert trying to rescue the hostages. The Iranians refusing to release the embassy hostages before the 1980 US presidential election probably insured Ronald Reagan would be elected.

In some ways Reagan was worse than Nixon. He wasn’t paranoid and obsessive compulsive like Nixon; instead he was slaphappy and obtuse, having acted in too many movies as a war hero and cowboy. Someone should have told him life isn’t a Hollywood movie. He was enamored with supply-side or trickle-down economics or voodoo economics, in my view just another form of pump-priming, trying to spur economic growth by cutting taxes and increasing military spending, also following in Nixon’s Republican footsteps in this regard. Nixon quipped when he was in office: “We’re all Keynesians now.” But Reagan and his propagandists and ideologues were not this honest; they repackaged Keynesian economics using their new jargon, such as supply-side economics, calling themselves neoconservatives, doublespeak if ever there was such a thing: There is nothing conservative, neo or not, about tripling the federal debt in eight years.

When the Reaganites took over in 1981 the total federal debt, accumulated by all previous US administrations in history was about $1 trillion; when they left office eight years later the federal debt was about $3 trillion. They added twice as much debt in eight years as all other administrations accumulated in history, setting in motion a new strain of Republicanism, with little or no respect for intellectual honesty and truth, relying more and more on pandering to biases and prejudices long embedded in certain citizens in certain states, primarily in red Republican states, relying more and more on racial and religious fears, hatreds and superstitions to get votes.

George Bush the First then followed Ronald Reagan for one term, not doing much, telling people to “Read my lips” about not raising taxes, and winning the Kuwait War against Iraq, wisely not invading Iraq after they retreated from Kuwait, leaving our hereditary sheiks in Kuwait in control of the oil supply, invading Panama just for the fun of it, proving the US military could capture and incarcerate a tinhorn dictator.

Then along comes happy go lucky Bill Clinton, problematic from the start, plagued by scandals with tabloid-like ex-girlfriends and the questionable business dealings of his wife, Hillary, in Arkansas, where Clinton was governor and Hillary was a lawyer. After a turbulent start in Washington, replete with a suspicious suicide by a staff member from Arkansas, Clinton accomplished some notable feats. Things got better economically; jobs were created. His welfare to work program seemed to produce some good results. Nothing disastrous happened in the Middle East with the oil supply. Some of his administration’s military actions in the Balkans and in Somalia were questionable, but things got resolved from the US point of view, however disastrous it was for Somalia, a failed state.

After Clinton gave Al Gore his vice president the task of reengineering the US government to correct Ronald Reagan’s voodoo economic mistakes, lo and behold, they balanced the US budget and started generating a budget surplus, reaching $100 billion or so per year when Clinton left office in 2000, an amazing thing. Republicans started complaining Clinton and Gore didn’t know what to do with the surplus they generated. But then there was Monica Lewinsky and the impeachment, and the Gramm-Leach-Biley Act of 1999, one of the worst pieces of legislative action in US history, getting rid of the Glass-Steagall Act, which Clinton signed, implanting a legislative ticking time bomb that would explode in 2007 with disastrous consequences. Clinton also signed NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which had disastrous consequences for working people north and south of the border with the U.S.

And then along came Bush the Second, George Walker Bush, son of George Herbert Walker Bush, possibly the worst president in US history, a frivolous former cheerleader and fraternity boy at Yale with a Harvard MBA, a supposedly recovered alcoholic and governor of Texas, who was given the 2000 presidential election by five right-wing ideologues on the US Supreme Court after Al Gore won a majority of the popular vote. It was as if Bush II’s mission was to destroy the budget surplus Clinton and Gore had created as soon as possible, and to do it all he had to do was bomb, invade and conquer Iraq, a nation posing no military threat to the US, which quickly turned the US budget surplus into a $500 billion a year deficit, where it has remained ever since, a high price indeed for capturing and hanging Saddam Hussein, run out of Kuwait by Bush II’s daddy.

Bush II beat John Kerry in 2004 for a second term, largely thanks to some TV Swift Boat attack ads, slandering and libeling Kerry for his military service in Vietnam, a war Bush II sat out safe at home playing games with the Air National Guard, thanks to his daddy’s help, finally leaving the Oval Office in 2009 with a 29 percent approval rating.

In addition to Bush II’s foreign policy disasters, he left office with the domestic economy in shambles, having added, with his own version of voodoo economics, several more trillion dollars of debt with a huge budget deficit, about $1.5 trillion per year, and one of the worst recessions in US history, with high unemployment and millions of homeowners with underwater mortgages, following the financial meltdown of 2007-2008, largely caused by the Gramm-Leach-Biley Act, which allowed banksters to securitize mortgages and gamble with financial weapons of mass destruction, and generally do what they wanted to do in all financial markets, merge with insurance companies, buy and sell stock in the stock market, gamble with other people’s money, take insane risks to enrich themselves and cash out before the next crash, encouraging bankers to become gamblers and speculators, rather than conservative socially-responsible good citizens taking care of depositor money and wisely lending it to people with good credit records.

One of the worst calamities and legacies of the Bush II era was the outsourcing of good jobs for working people by large corporations to low wage countries to make the elite rich of the US richer, a prime cause of rising inequality today, exacerbated by NAFTA, which also encouraged more and more illegal immigration from Central and South America, a major problem today, a problem generally ignored by the Bush II administration, a problem largely caused by the US destabilizing popular governments in the region to secure oil and other supplies for global capitalism.

Bush II signed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 that required corporate CEOs to sign a sheet of paper saying they were aware of the accounting practices of their corporations, and knew they could be thrown in jail for criminal acts committed in their behalf by their underlings in their accounting departments, put into law after the absurd and disastrous Enron scandal, which did result in a couple of Harvard MBAs at the top of Enron being put in prison, however inadequate the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was for preventing an even worse scandal in 2007-2008, the implosion of the entire banking system, caused by the criminal and/or negligent acts of CEOs supposedly running the largest banks in the US, who remain unpunished for their misdeeds and/or incompetence.

But probably the worst thing to happen during Bush IIs tenure was 9/11 in 2001. I was in Savannah at the time getting our Volvo serviced. A young woman told everyone an airplane had hit the World Trade Center and Osama bin Laden had done it. How she knew this I had no idea. I had never heard of Osama bin Laden at the time. Standing in the waiting room I saw on a big screen TV set smoke billowing from one of the towers, not wanting to believe my own eyes, muttering expletives with fellow customers, wondering how such a thing could happen. And then, in a few minutes the announcer said another airplane was approaching, and we watched in horror as it struck the other tower, and in less than two hours both giant buildings lay in rubble on the ground. A third tower imploded later in the day, not struck by an airplane, appearing to have been purposely destroyed by explosives from the inside.

9/11 set loose a hornet’s nest of investigations, allegations and accusations regarding causes, consequences and responsibilities, which remain today. Bush II was soon on the scene walking around like a hero, vowing to get the criminals responsible. He agreed with the young woman in the Volvo dealership and was soon hot on the trail of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, trying to track him down with US Army troops in the Tora Bora Mountains, but he got away, to Pakistan. After not catching him Bush II should have brought his troops home; instead he left them there fighting the Taliban, where many remain to this day. In 2003, Bush II decided to also get rid of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, invading the country with a massive bombing and army attack, where the US also remains, primarily bombing ISIS, the Islamic terrorist group de jure, with F-15s.

Would these invasions have happened had 9/11 not happened? And does anyone know for sure who or what caused the attack? Most likely we shall never know.

And here we are now with Barack Obama, a former social activist from Chicago, with a Harvard law degree, a former US senator from Illinois born in Hawaii, son of a white mother reared on the US mainland and a black Kenyan father, who also studied at Harvard. Elected to correct the evils of the Bush II regime, Obama has made progress, being possibly the cleverest, wisest, sanest and most conscientious president of my lifetime. He almost got us out of Iraq and Afghanistan. He has overseen the passage of a financial reform bill to correct the evils of the money and banking system, however ineffective it has been, and a new health care law, however controversial it has been. He has reduced the US budget deficit and the economy has improved; but the yearly deficit remains about $558 billion and the total debt is now about $17.7 trillion.

Although it was not Obama’s fault, one of the worst disasters of US history occurred on his watch: the US Supreme Court, packed with five right-wing ideologues appointed by Republican presidents, decided 5-4 in the Citizens United case of 2010 that large corporations were people and could spend as much money as they wanted to get their political cronies elected to office, having decided using convoluted logic that spending money to get political cronies elected is a form of free speech, thereby seriously impairing the functioning of democratic government in the US, allowing political behavior contrary to common sense, making the US more an oligarchy than a democracy.

It now appears the US is in some sort of permanent economic slump, with low growth, poor jobs, underemployment and rising inequality on the horizon as far as the eye can see, largely thanks to the Republican controlled US House of Representatives, which has strenuously opposed all efforts by the Obama administration to create an effective jobs program. Obama has not done anything truly stupid, such as starting unnecessary wars or getting impeached for fooling around with his office help, and, in my view, he has handled foreign policy adequately. Massive bombings and army invasions have not produced salutary results anywhere in the Middle East; surgical strikes by piloted F-15s, drones and special ops on the ground seem to be the best approach.

In my view, the Middle East is now a fiasco, a cauldron of hatred and chaos with religious and class wars threatening the entire region, especially in Syria and Iraq, with the advent of a new threat, ISIS, a so-called Islamic state, basically a barbaric terrorist group of hopeless fanatics supposedly fighting for imaginary glories in heaven. How much the US caused this insanity in the Middle East by stirring the pot with its unnecessary wars and military excursions remains to be seen. And then there are the problems of Russia and Ukraine, of NATO and Western Europe, of Western capitalism vs. Eastern capitalism in the struggle for oil and gas and other supplies in those regions. The oil supply in the Middle East and North Africa, despite the Obama administration’s lack of heavy-handed military intervention, seems about as secure for Western capitalism as it has been, although the US recently started bombing in Iraq again, fighting ISIS, hopefully not again miring the US in the Middle East quagmire indefinitely.

At issue is what is the purpose of the US military: To defend the US; to secure oil, gas and other supplies for Western capitalism; or to provide police protection for failed states—or all of the above—and how shall it be paid for?

The US House of Representatives remains controlled by Republican fanatics and there is some risk they could win control of the Senate in 2014. What would happen if Republicans should take control of both the House and Senate is frightening to behold, leaving only Obama to prevent them from inflicting even more of their decadent, depraved neoconservative ideas on us all. It seems unlikely Obama can do anything really constructive in the next two years unless, by some stroke of good luck, Democrats should win control of both the House and Senate in the November elections, less than a month from now.

It’s unlikely Obama will do anything truly stupid like militarily destroying Iraq or sign anything like the Gramm-Leach-Biley Act in the next two years, an act still allowing banksters in too big to fail banks to buy and sell derivatives and leverage their capital to insane levels, gambling they can get even richer and cash out again before the next crash.

The most negative possibly valid criticisms I have heard about Obama have been that he has sold his soul to the intelligence-military-industrial complex, the oil industry, and the money and banking complex, going along with their nefarious aims and schemes, giving them whatever they want, being afraid to buck them for fear his actions might make things worse for the entire US economy, or planet, which, if so, may actually be the wisest policy, adhering to the reality principle, doing what you have to do, given the facts of the case. Sure, it would have been nice had he gotten rid of Guantanamo, punished torturers, not suspended habeas corpus, sent guilty banksters to jail, and not spied on US citizens; but if it can’t be done without bringing on a greater injury for a greater number, then maybe it’s better you don’t try to do it.

It may be Barack Obama does not want to wind up like John F. Kennedy, being smarter than martyr, by compromising some of his earlier ideals. In an insane, corrupt, heartless, ruthless world you’re lucky if you don’t get shot for something as US president no matter what you feel, think, believe, say or do, when merely not being approved of is a minor thing to worry about.

At issue is whether any president of the US can now manage and control the intelligence-military-industrial complex, supposedly put there to protect all citizens of the US.

There is not a single possible Republican presidential candidate I have heard about for 2016 who I think would even consider managing the system in the interests of all US citizens; Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are the only two possible presidential candidates I have heard about who I think might dare buck the system for we the people.

For over thirty years only about half of US eligible voters have voted in presidential elections, and about half of that half voted for the Democratic candidate and about half voted for the Republican candidate, meaning the so-called winner won with about 25 percent of the eligible possible votes, hardly a mandate for anything. About half the US eligible voters are Republican ideologues primarily concerned about guns, abortions, Jesus, low taxes and pickups; the other half are primarily concerned about jobs, social security, health care and social justice. It’s as if most people are imprinted with their religious and political fears, hatreds, superstitions, biases and prejudices in early life by parents and others and stick with them from then on through thick and thin. The US is now the undisputed world champion militarily, not counting nuclear weapons, irrespective of the terrible operating cash flow problem of the US, not counting quantitative easing and borrowing, which cannot be used forever to generate cash for unnecessary wars and military excursions.

Unlike Obama, most US voters do not make decisions based on the facts of cases; and it’s unlikely US voters shall take rational steps to correct glaring problems, such as fewer and fewer good jobs for working people, rising inequality, and global warming, by voting into office a large majority of fair and rational representatives, senators and presidents.

I made it through the gauntlet of my life to my current age of 73 in fairly good shape, after getting my first college degree in 1962, despite my dispiriting sojourn at Litton Industries, having been retired for nine years now with a relatively good pension, social security, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Medicare and some investments. It appears I may make it to my natural end in reasonably good financial shape, assuming the US and Earthian economies do not implode in the meantime. In overall perspective I have been one of the lucky ones.

My opinion of corporations never changed. They are necessary evils I suppose, and millions of people have to work in them, but thankfully not me. In many ways large corporations have become worse actors since 1963, heartless anti-citizens disloyal to all countries, and most of their employees, eliminating their defined benefit pension plans, outsourcing as many of their jobs as possible to the lowest wage countries, not paying their fair share of taxes in any country, and corrupting the political process in all countries, bribing politicians with their political donations to lower their taxes and change the rules of the game in their favor.

The primary winners in large corporations are employees at the very top, who often win big by cannibalizing employees beneath them in the chain of command and trading favors with their cronies on the board of directors. It’s sad to see the high percentage of irrational intellectually challenged people with anti-social ideas and personality and character disorders, bought and paid for by large corporations and the elite rich, running for high political office these days, often winning, especially in red Republican states, however flawed US politicians of the past might have been.

Only people with certain personas and personalities can make it to the top to win big bucks in large corporations, say $20 million per year in total pay, compared with the relative $500,000 or so per year pittance paid the president of the US, people who accidentally come along and please the personalities and group imagoes of the people who run the corporation at the time, a group imago being a general image and philosophy in the mind of someone regarding how a particular organization should be run. Society pays a high price so a minuscule percentage of the population can become corporate mega-winners, a percentage not quite as minuscule as purchasers of mega-million dollar lottery tickets.

Jimmy Carter worried about the energy crisis when he was in office, considering it the moral equivalent of a world war. In some respects he was right. Fears and concerns about oil and gas supplies are causing about half the trouble in the world today. Carter was also well aware of problems of the environment, there being plenty of talk in the late 1970s about the environment imploding because of pollution. Global Warming was not a major concern then, as it is now for many people, while many today still deny its existence. Obama believes Global Warming is real, however little his administration has done about it. We can only hope at this point Global Warming shall be survivable, indefinitely, despite evidence to the contrary.

The answer for the fill-in-the-blank question posed by the aphorism used in the title of this essay, included on the corporate aptitude test I took in 1965, is, of course, play, “When the cat’s away the mice will play,” which aptly sums up new behavior seriously impairing the functioning of the US economy since 1980, caused by the emergence of neoconservative voodoo economic ideas.

Corporate and elite rich mice have had great fun since 1980 enriching themselves at the expense of other mice, after paying political mice to declaw regulatory cats functioning in the interests of all mice.

Richard John Stapleton is an emeritus professor of business policy, ethics and entrepreneurship who writes on business and politics at effectivelearning.net and on his Facebook page. He is the author of Business Voyages: Mental Maps, Schemata and Tools for Discovering and Co-Constructing Your Own Business Worlds at and Recommendations for Waking Up From the American Nightmare.


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