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Something in Common: unedited draft Bob Locker, 3408 Echo Springs Rd. Lafayette Ca 94549 925/280-1995, email: firstname.lastname@example.org Something in Common 11/24/2003 2 Miguel... A soft mist hung over him. He treaded water in the warm current, with no idea where he was, or why. For a second Miguel thought he saw something - and then, nothing. Fighting to keep his head high enough to see, he cupped his right hand and pushed again and again, through a full circle look - at emptiness. An eerie glow over the water's surface gave a false sense of light, in contrast to the pitch-black below. Thankfully the water was warm, almost body temperature. He paddled aimlessly, occasionally turning on his back and slowly sculling, conserving energy. Perched on the surface like a cork, he seemed to rise slowly, and then just as slowly descend. He counted as he rose again. One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three - until 7. Then the sensation of slowly falling came again, to the same mystifying cadence. One thousand one,...7. He licked his lips. No! Miguel had begun to adjust to the horror of what this meant when the mist lifted slightly,-- enough to see the form of a ship. Three masts with limp canvas were as much as he could make out. He rolled over and started kicking, and then stroking with all he had. But no matter how hard he fought, the distance between remained. The fog-like mist settled again,.. and the ship disappeared. He tried to maintain his course, but without at least some sign of the right direction, he settled back into a dog paddle, restocking his lungs. There was no more ship, and nothing to cling to, but hope. Suddenly, a white ring splashed in front of him! It was a life preserver, one of those old fashioned oval types. Miguel frantically stroked for the ring. Frustration gave way to fear, as the ring, and the ship slowly drifted away. 3 He awoke, bolt upright, drenched in sweat. Reality edged out the terror and the mental fog drifted upward and faded, just as it had a few minutes earlier,.. in his dream. Miguel snapped on the night lamp, and swung his legs over the edge of the bed feeling for the security of the floor. There was both relief and frustration. This was not the first time this had happened. He grabbed the towel he kept beside the bed, wiped the perspiration from his face and matted hair, and tried to relax and drain out the panic so his heart could regain the upper hand. Since this obsession began, he had rarely had a good night's rest. Miguel thought of himself as a tall, modestly handsome, well-dressed and confident man. But, as he looked in the full-length mirror across the bedroom, he saw that his former athletic body had softened and settled. Gray strands of hair had become the rule rather than the exception. He was very concerned about the task that lay ahead. It had all started with his decision to file in the California Gubernatorial race when the unprecedented recall had actually been approved, and a there was a rare opportunity to shake up the entrenched political system. He, along with scores of others, followed the rather simple process of registering and naming a political party, any party, and found himself on the ballot. They all had their reasons for running. For most it was notoriety, and a cocktail party “can you top this?” item. Some actually thought they could win. Miguel did it mainly to make a point. Actually several. First, as a naturalized Latino citizen he felt he had some real solutions to the immigration problems. Not only would it solve some ethical issues, but could help substantially with California‟s budget crisis. He had some real ideas of how to take the benefits of NAFTA and expand it into stronger and more fluid ties between the 5th and 9th largest economies in the world. He also couldn‟t understand how, with that much California horsepower, and a 25% growth in California‟s tax revenue, The system could, in the span of 5 years, generate a 50% increase in government spending,… and a $38 billion dollar deficit. 4 The Specifics Miguel was a morning person. When darkness fell he normally struggled to do productive things so he had gotten into the habit of going to bed early. Miguel often would wake up after enough hours of sleep to recharge his body, but long before first light.. He found this an interesting opportunity to spend some time with his thoughts. As with most creative people, many of these would look like the perfect solution. He often jumped out of bed and put those ideas on paper. Sometimes a re-read in the cold hard light of day would discover the warts. But, sometimes there weren‟t any,.. at least at first blush. As the short campaign progressed, he was surprised and a little dismayed that few of the candidates were offering any specific solutions to California‟s problems, obviously led by the struggling economy and the budget deficit, and immigration and security concerns As a naturalized citizen of Mexican decent, he had an “inside look” and some pretty straight forward answers. He had no staff of experts, no team of advisors, just his un-common ability to think with common sense. When he registered for the election, he had to name a party. Since becoming a citizen he had registered first as a Democrat, and then as a Republican, and lately an Independent. None fit his thinking. On a whim he decided to register as the “Common “ party, short for common sense. Most of the time he found the approach taken by politicians, lawyers, or most ordinary citizens was driven by special interests, often their own, not what was best for those involved. He prided himself in trying to see the other side of an issue and why they thought the way they did. Rather than start from a negotiating position he usually offered up what he felt was fair to both. It often startled the other party. You could see it in their eyes. But, invariably they would come back with a counter proposal rather than “it sounds good to me”. How unfortunate that most people had lost the ability to think fairly. The campaign unfolded and these 4 a.m. wake ups usually resulted in a scramble for some paper. As Miguel saw it, a number of the illegal immigration problems were intertwined with the economic problems. He felt that the 2 million plus illegal aliens known to be in California should not just be given a driver‟s license or handed citizenship. But, he saw no reason they couldn‟t be registered in some way, with an identification that would both track there whereabouts and insure that they paid their fair share of taxes to both the Federal Government and the state. They would be assessed a fee of $1,000 -$2,000. depending on how long they had been here illegally. 5 This would make a significant dent in the deficit right off the bat, as well as provide the ability to check backgrounds. Not only would this help the current budget problem, but provide significant tax revenue every year. These people would have to have medical insurance and go through the citizenship process. As much as Miguel loved his Spanish roots and his native language, he saw no real reason, beyond enablement, that privileges like driver‟s tests, voters pamphlets, etc. could, not be done in English only, plus universal symbols. He had always found that he had better success telling some of his employees who spoke only “pocito Englais” that English verbs, some arm waving and gesturing, and his ever-present 3 x 5” cards, got closer to getting the job done right than telling a Caucasian worker in simple straight forward language. His favorite trick was to instruct his fair skinned employees on how to accomplish a task, and ask if they understood. After the “yes” he would ask them to repeat what he had said. They seldom could. Miguel was a former professional baseball player, and his experiences with both the minor and then major leagues, especially the clubhouses, had been very enlightening. It was a mix of whites and blacks and those in between, often Latin American athletes like him. They played together, traveled together, drank together and roomed together during the season, and gave each other continual grief over things that would have made a discrimination attorney salivate, but, he could never remember a racially caused problem. Sure, there were disagreements and even fistfights, but motivated by substance, not color. He didn‟t find it the same in the real world after his baseball career, especially in “politically correct” California. He felt it was time for people to stop worrying about stepping on someone‟s “ethnic toes” and get on with the business of working together and solving problems. And, he said so at various campaign events. The crowds not only didn‟t object, but liked his approach. In addition, he would set up another registered category for migrant workers. They would have access across the border during the spring planting season, and the fall harvest season. Since they were registered, they would have to pay their fair share of taxes. Some of their income could be withheld and given to them at the border to make sure they didn‟t stay beyond their work permit time limit. Miguel knew that would also reduce the overcrowded conditions that now existed when migrant workers stayed beyond their time without work and remained a drain on the services and medical and health care systems. Even though Miguel felt the Government was involved in too many unnecessary things, he saw no reason why it couldn‟t establish both a health care system for those without normal coverage, and also administer a special ” bare bones” workman‟s compensation program that would greatly reduce the financial burden on employers and the workers themselves. He certainly knew that there were enough government employees (doing worthless tasks) that could be switched over to such a State run system; enough to provide staffing 10 times over, without hiring anyone else. 6 The Federal government had largely absorbed the cost of patrolling the Mexican border, but it had also become a huge burden on the state. He proposed, as had some others, that the responsibility and entire cost of “insuring” our border be assumed by the Federal government, as indicated by the constitution. However, there was another element. He understood that it was not in Mexico‟s best interest to let this flow continue. They had already lost many of the most industrious, adventuresome and creative people, much like England had, during the settlement of the Colony‟s, only in a reverse role. He believed he could broker a joint effort that would be manageable for both countries and relieve California of that financial burden. He also saw no reason that anyone born in this country would automatically become a Citizen. Common sense said that it was not what the founders intended when the drafted the Constitution, but just another example of human interpretation. But, he decided not to bring this up right now. He had enough on his plate. Another crisis situation had occurred over the past few years over energy. Not only was there a shortage but also California‟s major utilities had gone from rocks of stability to the brink of disaster. And, the customers were still paying ridiculous rates, twice what should be called for, just to keep the utilities afloat. One night, after paying his overstuffed PG&E bill, he headed for bed, and got his fairly normal early AM awakening. He remembered doing one of his college term papers on the benefits and drawbacks of nuclear power. Because of that paper, and the rave remarks it earned from his favorite college professor, he had kept up with the evolution of the nuclear power and safety concerns. Several countries were using nuclear power plants almost exclusively and the safety issues had been pretty much resolved beyond a reasonable chance of a catastrophe. But, he knew the public distrust remained in California. The problems were much more tangible with coal-fired generation where the mining activities and the burning of the fuel create major environmental problems and constant and graphic detriments at both ends. The use of oil for that purpose doesn‟t even need much discussion, because the media and each political party out of power at the moment, make sure the average citizen knows that oil is at the heart of all of our foreign and domestic policy problems. Even hydroelectric generation has fallen on hard times. Although the use of waterpower to generate power is sensible, the damming of rivers and streams has not proved to be popular with the environmentalists or the sportsmen, or, for that matter, the EPA. As a young man in Mexico born to a fairly affluent family, he had the chance to fish on the Baja Peninsula. It is a probably has more miles of ocean and bay (Sea of Cortez) frontage than any place in the Western Hemisphere. He visited Loreto, last year and was 7 appalled at what he saw and heard. The Sea of Cortez had gone from one of the richest and varied ecosystem to the sea of the dead. Most of it was caused by over fishing and pollution created by corrupt officials taking bribes to let the carnage continue. The Peninsula itself has some of the most uninhabited arid land in Mexico and the combination would be an idea site for a series of nuclear generation facilities. Miguel saw the following possibilities: Mexico and California could develop a joint venture with mutual benefits.. California would harness the talent and energies of companies like Bechtel and URS (located in the Bay area) providing the technological talent to design and build a series of nuclear power plants on the Baja with enough capacity to satisfy the current and future needs of both. Miguel felt (from his research) that the real future of sustainable power was either from the sun‟s energy or, somewhat down the road, hydrogen power, tantalizingly close to being perfected, but not yet there. He would insure that the plants would be developed to bring either source into the system as soon as it was technologically and cost efficient to do so. Mexico would provide the labor and take over control of the facilities once they were ”on line”. California would provide and pay for the original cost of construction, but be entitled to the first 50% of this co-generation effort at a “wholesale price” estimated to be between 30 and 40% of the current cost of energy to California. Mexico, would repay the construction costs over the first few years of production, and have enough energy to run their entire economy, vaulting their country (with its great source of both hard working and underpaid workers) into one of the premier powers in the world. Part of the bargain would have California‟s Scripps Institute provide a fisheries plan, and the state enough capital, to direct the resurrection of the Sea of Cortez California‟s economy would be stabilized, and its position as one of the most desirable and economically feasible places in the world, regained. The person who makes his happen would be in a position to the President. It had before, but not this time. The constitution limited this possibility to natural born citizen. Miguel didn‟t care. He had some answers and only wanted the people to listen…. As the realization that his entry into this race was proving to be more than a chance to make a point, he could see he a lot of learning to do. Life had been good to him, but much of it was due to his tenacity. More laps, more repetitions than his teammates, and more innings pitched than any body else in the Mexican league, had made a good impression in the early 70‟s, and lead to a chance to play in the majors and become a naturalized citizen of the United States. 8 Although his career was cut short by an injury, he had gained a toehold in the land of his dreams and his work ethic led to many opportunities after baseball. He was able to buy a home in the Bay area and, with his ties with the Latino community, he soon used his knowledge of both sides of the border to start a business making sporting goods products in Mexico and importing them for the US market. Many of his teammates shared his love of the outdoors, particularly fishing, and their support and a World Series ring certainly helped launch his second career. His playing days were over before the huge salaries began, but it really didn‟t matter to Miguel. He soon was making more than he did as a player and would have a wonderful pension to look forward to a few years down the road. He had somehow managed to keep his family and his fledgling business going while fulfilling his promise to his mother that he would set aside some of his baseball salary and get his college degree. Miguel sank back into the mattress. Why this dream? Was it because he kept trying to understand the logic of it all, without getting any closer to some answers? _________________ The debates and campaigning continued, and both the people and the media began to pay attention. After all, none of the other candidates offered any real solutions. He launched into his second reason for entering the race. He was disgusted at the often bizarre management of the recreational and environmental resources of the state. While the sport fishermen contributed 80% of the revenue to administer the Fish and Game programs, and an even larger amount to the economy (in the form of boats, sporting equipment, and travel) the commercial interests controlled the fisheries management commissions. They harvested 90% of the catch, creating major negative impacts on several fisheries, as well as devastating side effects to incidental species. The heads of the Department of Resources, Water Quality Board, even the EPA, were political plums offered up by the governor. often to people with no understanding of the job or the responsibilities. “Fish and Game” especially upset him. Although this was also a federal issue, Miguel could never understand how or why commercial fishing could be allowed to over harvest the oceans, our oceans. They didn‟t own the water or the land under it. It would be like allowing market hunters with high tech equipment, to wipe out the game populations in Yosemite Park, and then sell the meat back to us for a profit. All the while sport fishermen‟s bag limits, seasons, and sizes were severely restricted, as if that had much of anything to do with the problems. 9 For years the commercial fishing lobby had quietly used every political trick in the book to keep on fishing, oblivious to the fact they were “catching themselves” out of a livelihood. Even a tree frog that few had ever heard of (or seen) had somehow lead to a decision to eliminate the state‟s fish, the Golden trout, from its native high elevation waters. He could not believe that the average voter felt that way. And, they didn‟t. Miguel pledged to listen to the desires of the sportsmen and serious environmentalists who were willing to understand the needs of a sustainable species, and appoint people to direct these commissions or departments that had both the knowledge and the commitment to run them in the best interests of the overall resource. As the polls began to show, this was an issue that had no party lines. The four million voting age fishermen, hunters, camper‟s etc. were going be a unified voice, and they were all going to vote. The legal citizens of the Latino community had a similar conviction.. The fact that California baseball fans knew him, and were impressed by his e.r.a. didn‟t hurt. All of this, along with voters that were disenchanted with party politics and the special interests they fostered, plus no one else had offered a “game plan”, led to a conclusion that would not have been “dreamed”… three months before. *************** 10 Miguel won. No party machine. No army of volunteers. No special interests. No "owe me‟s". And, nobody to serve, but the citizens. If any of these groups expected him to pamper their special agenda, they would be in for a few more surprises… As a young man studying for his citizenship, he had a great respect for the political process and, of course, the constitution. After building his business into a sustainable success, he continued his passion for history and divided his spare time between hunting and fishing, and studying the revolution and the time during which the Constitution was drafted. But, the more he learned, and the more he experienced life‟s realities, the more doubts appeared. At the first pre-election debate he had a chance to meet his boyhood idol, a savvy old Republican State Senator who finally lost an election few years ago, but still couldn‟t get enough time in front of the public, so filed as well. "Son, you don't solve 'em, you dodge 'em." was the answer to his off camera question. ********* 11 ... and John In an earlier time, - there was a farmer named John. His forefathers had left England several generations before and eventually arrived in North America in search of a better life. John and his family were hardy individuals. They had developed great strength of character, from the struggles of those intervening generations,-- from many trials, difficult times, and just plain hard work. John prospered, but living under British rule had become very restrictive. The more the colonists gave to the mother country, the more she seemed to demand. And the rules and restrictions came in a steady stream. John longed for the day this young nation could be free to make its own rules. That day soon came. John was asked to join a group of men, to draft a declaration of his country's independence. They knew that this could mean war, but he and the others were prepared to do what they must. It proved to be unavoidable, and he and most of his countrymen, put down their plows, books, and tools, and went to off to fight. It was a difficult struggle, but the will and spirit of the these hardy settlers finally prevailed. A few years after returning to his farm, John was asked to join another group of patriots to draft the rules by which this new alliance of independent states would govern themselves. It would be the constitution of these "united states". He readily agreed. As the nation experienced its sovereignty, he felt the pride and satisfaction of their work, and reflected often on the function of this young government. 12 ********** It was 19 years after the start of the revolution and a dozen years had passed since the new constitution was in place. Things seemed to be working well. But, his head was full of questions and doubts. His sleep was shallow and often disturbed by dreams. Would they understand the meaning of the Bill of Rights? Would there be more amendments? Would one group or another interpret the Constitution for their benefit and lose site of the true intent? He was obsessed to know. His sleep became more restless and the dreams more intense.... ____________________ 13 Minds Meet John's memory of his ancestors was vague. His English heritage had been interwoven with other European nationalities, but he understood that many had worked with the land, just as he was doing here in the new country. Unlike some of the other colonists, who had long ago hired others to do the really hard work, John had stayed in touch with the soil, and his men. Physical labor had been good to him. He was an imposing figure, broad shoulders, big forearms, and a waist that showed no signs of giving in to the good things that they could now afford. John was not an antagonist. He rarely quarreled with anyone, and no one challenged him, even though he was 65. True, he had a short fuse, and occasionally sparks flew,--but that was usually the end of it. He was very proud of the respect from his neighbors. Since they had never seen him fight, the results were pretty much left to their imagination. Besides. they had heard about his exploits during the war, and John never corrected the stories. ********** Lately John was getting more upset with himself. Despite the dreams, he normally fell asleep quickly, sometimes even before he put out the bedside candle for his reading. He always put a saucer under it... just to be safe. Recently, with this obsession about the country's future, he was wasting more and more precious time, and often faced the morning unready for a full day's work in the fields. It was annoying, but somehow he felt there was a reason…as if someone was trying to reach him. He didn't believe in clairvoyance. He considered himself religious, but he was also a practical man, and even had trouble with the idea of life after death. John didn't waste much time thinking about it, he just did the right things, and followed the 10 commandments--- mainly because he felt they were proper, and, as with the saucer, to be on the safe side. ********** 14 Miguel had a much stronger sense that he was somehow about to learn something important. Each day he spent in the short but crucial California recall campaign only heightened his anxiety. After gaining his citizenship, he had spent much of his free time during baseball road trips studying the writings of Paine, Jefferson and Franklin for more insight into the real foundation of this country, but it was difficult to understand the wordy writing of even these scholars. Now, with the recall behind him, and the realities of the responsibility directly in front, he often lay awake for hours trying to sort it out, and when he finally fell asleep, his thoughts merely shifted into fantasy. He began to look forward to those restless nights,.. and strange dreams. During the transition, his trips to Washington occurred pretty much on a weekly basis. Many of his ideas were not entirely up to the state of California and often required Federal help or even congressional approval. As much as he hated the idea of lobbying for support, he saw no other way. He usually stayed outside of Washington and to the south. It somehow made him feel more comfortable, to be where the nations original leaders lived rather than in the heart of power politics, lobbyists and all the things that came with the territory. On most of these trips, dreams were a nightly occurrence. But they never seemed to get anywhere. Often it was the same,... about the ship. One evening as they both drifted off to sleep...... John found himself in a darkened room, seated at a table, with only a candle and another chair. There was a knock on the door. "Come in". The door swung open and a tall strangely dressed man entered the room, struggling under a pile of books and papers. He came to the table, unloaded his things, and shoved out his hand. "My name is Miguel". His dark colored trousers matched a tight fitting jacket, over a plain white shirt, and there was a strange bright colored piece of cloth cinched securely around his neck. "Where are you from, and why are you dressed like that?" asked John. "I'm from the United States,--- actually California." "I'm familiar with the United States of America, I am a Virginian, but what is this 'California'" ? Miguel tingled with excitement as he studied this man who sat across the table - and begin to sense what was happening. 15 John's pants were drab wool, with an equally heavy plain shirt, and forlorn looking work boots, with traces of the day's work still clinging to the bottoms. Otherwise he was clean and neat, save for several days‟ growth. He certainly didn't fit Miguel‟ mental picture of someone who helped establish the country. "I believe sir, that we're from different points in time. It's the year 2003, and I'm have been elected the Governor for California, the most populated state in the nation. You probably remember it as part of the Spanish territory to the west. I want to know what you intended, and learn find out what the Constitution really means". "I am John. So, I'm not the only one with a problem. I've been very worried about whether future generations would understand what we tried to do. What have you done with our documents? Tell me what has happened." ____________________ 16 Rights... Miguel decided that John would be more interested in national problems than California‟s, so he avoided that side trip for the time being. "We try and understand the wording of the Constitution, but, like most things, it is subject to interpretation and I'm not at all sure we are on the right track. For instance one of the biggest issues is the individual right you set up in the amendments that we call the "Bill of Rights". We aren't able to preserve the rights of all individuals in some situations. How can we make sure that everyone has all of these rights, all the time?" "I don't understand" replied John. "Where did you get that idea? Isn't it obvious that when several people are involved these individual rights become subservient to the collective rights of the group." "Well, how do we decide who's rights prevail?" Miguel asked. "That's simple. You look for the common good, what is most beneficial for all of the people involved." "But that's got to be difficult to determine sometimes, and who decides?" "That, young man, is one of the main reasons for the legal system. Judges can decide, when it's necessary. The words themselves explain it,.. to judge. Miguel thought it over. "Our Judges don't seem to make judgments, at least on merit. They make their decisions based on interpretation of the law rather than what's right or wrong. Isn't that what you intended,-- to follow the letter of the law?" "Of course not. Surely you understand that things always have two sides,... whether it's good and evil, right and wrong, or sometimes just two different viewpoints that are both correct. That's why judges and lawyers should be well read, intelligent, honest people; so we can trust their judgments." "We have a real problem with this.,” said Miguel. "Many well meaning people are very concerned about protecting the rights of everybody, people who are unwilling to work, even convicted criminals. They want to insure that these people have the same rights as 17 everyone else, but somehow the victims seem to lose their rights, to those who committed the crime. I‟m of Mexican decent, and went through the United States citizenship process. However, a large problem in my home state of California is illegal immigration. Hundreds of thousands stream across our borders every year. "Miguel, we are all immigrants, except for the Indian tribes." "True, and usually most come for the right reasons, an opportunity for a better life. But, many are part of a large underground economy that doesn't pay taxes, yet uses our services. We provide housing, health care, food stamps and benefits our own citizens don't have. Many people reach out to defend these privileges and we seem powerless to prevent it. There are civil liberties groups, which even provide free legal services. These well meaning elements probably don't realize the damage they are doing to our system. Most are very appreciative sure, but, some of these aliens are abusing the system. We often pay the medical bills for the birth babies of illegals and then the child becomes a citizen, automatically!" "What! This child becomes a citizen? How did this happen?" "Part of the 14th Amendment, passed in 1868, said something about all persons born here were to be citizens 'subject to the jurisdiction thereof'. I think this is another classic case of liberal interpretation gone overboard, destroying the meaning and the purpose”. Miguel tried hard to put aside his passion for his own people and be fair. “ Some don't join our culture, follow our rules, or learn our language. And we encourage it. We even publish our literature to drive and to vote in several languages. "Damn-it Miguel, citizenship is a privilege, and must be earned! To allow others these benefits without that process defeats our whole system. You are cheapening the value of the most prized possession this country has to offer, not only for them, but also for all of us who have come before. You can't allow this to continue. It should be clear that the common good is the key to which rights prevail - when there is a conflict. If your legal procedure is not serving that purpose, then something we did not intend has happened to your system." John awoke with a start. The familiar walls of the bedroom came into focus in the early morning light - and he slowly realized it was only another dream. But, he felt as if - he'd been there. It just wasn't like the others. They had been about the 18 ship, and fantasy or not, he was disappointed that his chance to get some answers had barely begun. Would there be another? ___________________ 19 ...and Wrongs Several nights later, John was still thinking about his encounter, and wondering why there finally had been a "connection". His thoughts drifted back to the time he had spent with his fellow citizens, working on the constitution. John had very little formal education, but many of his ideas and concepts made their way into the final documents. Others did the drafting, but they valued his clear thinking and common sense. Most of his colleagues were elegantly dressed and certainly more articulate. But, John often swayed them. Piercing gray eyes changed like a chameleon and emphasized his words, which were short and to the point. He spoke a language they all understood. Like a carousel horse that had developed the patina of use and time, the enlarged knuckles, the limp - each had a story to tell. John's mind was still preoccupied as he finally drifted off to sleep. He awakened - to find himself sitting at the table across from the young man. Miguel looked more relaxed. The "noose" around his neck was loosened, but there was a very determined look in his eyes. John wasn't sure what it was about Miguel - but he liked him. They were very different, yet, John was somehow reminded of himself, during the time his role in life - had become something more that just another farmer... “You asked about our legal system and I must admit I've got some serious questions about where we are, and where we're headed.” said Miguel. "We have a adversarial system. An attorney's duties and obligations to defend his client's interests are very strong. No matter what the circumstances, guilt or innocence, everyone is entitled to a defense provided by the people, to insure that they get a fair trial. I think you made the language clear. "Hold on" said John. "Are you telling me that even when a person is guilty beyond any doubt, they are given time and representation in the courts? This must be very laborious and tie up lots of important people - the judges, lawyers, not to mention the jury. How can you afford that?" 20 "We can't, but that's what we thought you meant (when you drafted the constitution). If that's wrong what did you intend? "Well, we expected lawyers and others with advanced education, to be the advisors and mediators - to help both sides understand, and get to a solution. The truth was our intent. You must have examples of this in your time?" asked John. "One of my best friends is also my real estate broker. Their reputation isn't much better than lawyers, but he constantly preaches to me about their duty to disclose material facts to both buyer and seller, and wonders why lawyers can't do the same? This duty to disclose and act as an advisor, with responsibility to both parties, is the cornerstone of the real estate code of ethics, at least in California" said Miguel. "I believe you've found your own solution. Our intention was not to cover up the truth, but to find it. It sounds to me like your legal system has 'pulled the wool over your eyes' and convinced you that this adversarial idea was ours! Why don't you simply pass laws governing their behavior? After all, we meant for the will of the majority to prevail. Surely you can call on the farmers and bankers, and merchants in your Congress to pass this legislation." Miguel looked sheepishly at the table. "I'm afraid there are not enough others to do that." "What? You mean you've allowed the lawyers to control the Congress?" demanded John. "I guess so. Most of the senators and representatives as well as most of the members of the executive branch, are lawyers. Probably we've gotten carried away with our own interests and not 'the common good.'" John's eyes dropped to the floor . "When we formulated the system of checks and balances we didn't think it possible for one group to control all three branches, defeating the purpose of the whole system. Damn!" He slumped in his chair, staring at the partially burned candle. His eyes slowly rose to meet Miguel‟s. "Surely things haven't deteriorated to the point that most lawyers would not put aside their selfishness? And besides, we wanted the people to have the final say through the amendment process. What else are these lawyers doing?" "It seems that when anything bad happens - to anyone, there's a law suit. Even when there's little chance of the defendant losing, there are often big dollar settlements, just to avoid the additional cost of a long legal battle. Of course they've made sure that the attorneys for both sides get paid, one way or another. 21 John, I didn't go to law school with the idea of making a living practicing law, I only wanted to understand the system. As soon as I got a taste of what was being taught, I switched to business and history.. We've somehow adopted a system of 'deep pockets'. That means that everyone involved is sued. Those with money usually end up paying, regardless of fault. There's also something called 'product liability'. The people who make the product, even if they really have nothing to do with the problem, are always sued. It's very costly for companies to keep defending themselves against even the most frivolous things, but it's become a fact of life and another cost of doing business. It's getting so bad that many of our best companies have gone under. Company's like Piper Aircraft, Colt, Dow-Corning... but that's another story." Miguel continued to give examples... and moved to other subjects when John seemed to get a bit too fidgety. John just shook his head. "Aren't you ashamed?" "Yes". Miguel awoke as it began to get light, and his stomach was growling,.. from early morning emptiness,...or remorse. After all, he was part of the problem. He was even more determined to become part of the solution. With that consolation he decided he was just hungry, and jumped out of bed and into the shower. ___________________ 22 More is Less It hadn't been easy for Miguel, during the early days of his term, but, with the dreams continuing, he forgot about his frustrations with the system and concentrated on absorbing what he could learn from these encounters with John. His office was usually a zoo from 8-5. He often stayed until 8 or 9 o'clock, just to get a little time to himself. Only a few months had passed since his election and he was already questioning the intention of both major parties in the California Legislature, and, whether anyone else cared. The public was totally behind his efforts, even the media. But, getting things implemented had met with all kinds of excuses and roadblocks. Even though he had made no promises it seems that everyone else in a position of authority… had. Miguel absentmindedly tapped his pencil on the oak desktop and his mind wandered... ... back to his childhood. _____________________________ By Mexican standard he was a very privileged kid. He never really understood his obsession for tools since his father didn't have a clue about anything mechanical. His father worked very hard, but it was all about building the family assets and not work with his hands. Miguel said that's what he wanted - so that's what he got. Ernesto showered him with tools at every opportunity. And, they weren't kid‟s toys, but the best money could buy. But, when it came time to use them, Miguel definitely was on his own. He accumulated quite a few cuts and bruises, but when he nearly severed a finger, his mother had words with Ernesto, and words for Miguel. That's when the tool box somehow disappeared. He never lost his admiration for people who worked with their hands. But as a young boy the help did normal kid jobs, like cleaning the barns and taking out the garbage. 23 He remembered the gardener's son Eduardo who came along every Saturday to help. Juan did the clean up while Eduardo mowed the lawn. He took great pride in his work, often stopping to size it up, and going back to redo any spots that weren't just right. They had fun together, singing songs, and laughing when someone got off key or forgot the words. Miguel‟s window overlooked the back lawn and he often lay in bed and watched. Miguel finally realized why. He was jealous! Jealous of Eduardo and his close relationship and bond he had with his father as they worked together. Sure, Ernesto took in some of his baseball games, and to the beach, but it was always just entertainment, not to teach him anything. Ernesto never confided in him about his work, and how the Rancho kept expanding onto the property that other ranchers used to own around them. Somehow Miguel figured he didn't want to know. The local policia and federales were frequent visitors. They held meetings in the barn and no one in the family was allowed to be in the area, not even Martha. But Martha was always there for Miguel. She took him to all of his baseball practices and games. Somehow, in spite of his papered childhood, he had the grit and determination not only to help his team win, but he became a star. Martha even drove the team bus to all of their contests. By the time he became one of the best players in the Mexican league, he began to dress like the standout he was. Tall and self assured, he impressed both the Major League scouts, and, his family with his impeccable dress and attention to detail. Miguel centered his attention on clothes. Always well dressed and neatly groomed, he stayed with the more timeless traditional things. At least that fact eased the pain of spending $500 bucks for a custom made suit. He was always well liked, first with schoolmates, then his teammates and later, his college friends. He had an uncanny knack of, not only getting others to see his side, but to buy into it. This was no mean trick among his fraternity brothers. There were plenty of egos and strong opinions, but even then, with all the talent around him, he realized that few were really committed. They were always looking for short cuts. He was always prepared. The tougher the problem, the more Miguel dug in to solve it. Some of the star players in the big leagues made fun of his habit of filling out a 3 x 5 card with the strengths and weaknesses of all the opposing hitters… even the league umpires. But often, the next day‟s starting pitcher would come to his locker for a look at his “book” when nobody was around. Later, his popularity at the fraternity always seemed to rise just before midterms and finals. After moving to California he accumulated a new supply of tools, and even a lawn mower. But, they remained buried somewhere in the back part of the garage. By the time 24 he took his seat as Governor, and despite his best intentions, he had pretty well fallen into the pattern of his father and hired others to do all the little tasks around the house and garden. His wife, Becky, had a finely tuned list. And, that list was used often. After all, the family had pride. Miguel was jarred back to reality when the phone rang. At this hour, he usually he just let it ring, but for some reason he answered.. "Hello, Governor Galaz‟s office. Miguel speaking". The startled caller hung up. Miguel kicked back in his chair and put his feet on the desk. His mind again started to wander…. ********** They were both at the table again. Near the candle was a bowl of what appeared to be small stones. Miguel didn't remember seeing them before. He was clutching an attorney's obligatory yellow legal pad and asked if he could take some notes. John already had other things on his mind and launched into conversation. "It sounds to me like our government has gone off on a path all it's own, certainly not where nor what we intended. What else is wrong?" asked John. "Well it's gotten big, very big. One out of every 5 people works for the government directly or indirectly." "What, pray tell, do they all do?". "They provide some goods and services like the post office and welfare, but I'm afraid most are involved in publication, administration, and enforcement of our laws. And the rest are trying to understand, comply, or frankly, trying to figure out a way around them." Miguel had been frustrated over the large number of government entitlement programs and in mentioning some of them, nearly made a huge blunder. "Welfare? What is this welfare?", asked John. 25 Miguel was afraid to get into that, at least for now. He carefully steered back toward what he thought might be less controversial government ventures. But, as he tried to explain various functions, and listened to his own words,--- he realized he was only getting in deeper. John stared at Miguel in disbelief. "How in God's name can the country exist with so much wasted energy and non-productive activity?" he roared. "I truly don't know," said Miguel quietly. "We try and cut out the excess government, we really do. But, each time we pass a law to simplify things, it only seems to get more complicated and cumbersome. Do you have any suggestions?" "Yes, but I must ask you a question first. What do you do with laws that become outdated or inappropriate?" "We create new laws to help redefine the existing ones. The Congress passed nearly a thousand new laws last session to protect our citizens.” said Miguel. "What" cried John. "You mean you don't get rid of the old ones? I knew it! I knew it! You remind me of my wife's sister. Every time the kids get a fever, she tries at least three remedies at once. If they didn't have an upset stomach, they soon got one. The cure is usually worse than the disease itself. We expected that you would be smart enough to eliminate and consolidate laws. We knew there would be change. But we assumed, without new laws being approved, existing laws and the constitution itself would take on new interpretations as the times changed. In my day, even the Bible changed, and I suspect it's true in yours. If we translate the Bible differently you certainly didn't think the Constitution should not change. You've apparently let the lawyers interpret the law for their own benefit, and did nothing to stop them. At least you must have the courage to translate the laws for the benefit of the people. "Congress struggles with interpretation of parts of the Constitution all the time." Miguel said, defensively. "Give me an example". said John. "You gave us the constitutional right to bear arms, There are very heated agreements about whether this right would be unconstitutionally restricted if we made certain guns illegal, like fully automatic weapons that can fire dozens of rounds in seconds. In the wrong hands they've killed many people in senseless situations. I know you don't understand these weapons but, what do you think?" 26 "Are they used for securing food; to hunt?" questioned John. "No, other laws already prohibit that." "Are they used to protect an individual's home, family or property?" "Not really. The average citizen doesn't need or use anything like that for protection. Besides, there are strict laws against using them, even when there is a real threat of bodily harm. "Then obviously they should be banned" said John firmly. "They seem to have no worthwhile purpose, and I imagine they have fallen into the hands of criminals. Who would protest such a law?" "They say it's the hunters and target shooters, for example. But, I'm a hunter and I don't object, nor do any of my friends who are true sportsmen. It's the special interest lobbies, like the National Rifle Association, and other segments of the 'far right'". "Don't these people understand the principal of the common good? "Apparently not." said Miguel. John shook his head, and decided to move on. Miguel interrupted. "I'm curious about this bowl of rocks on the table. What are they?" "They have little significance really, except to me. These came from our garden. As we improved the soil and removed all the impediments to growth, they were left over. But in clearing my fields I found that the larger rocks could serve a useful purpose as well. If it were daylight you would see that they have provided a stone fence to keep my cattle from straying off. It was a big task but, by concentrating on completing a small portion each day, we were able to enclose the entire field. When I was asked to help with the Constitution I took this small bowl along to Philadelphia, to remind me of how we must approach the enormity of our task. I found them useful in explaining certain concepts to my more learned, but sometimes impractical colleagues." He glanced over his shoulder. "And, the rest were used to build this cottage." John reached into the bowl for the comfort of the stones. "Tell me a more little about this 'rider' process you mentioned in our last meeting. I certainly agree with the idea of refining the intent of a proposed law." John listened closely as Miguel tried to explain. 27 "You mean you allow changes to bills that aren't even related to the intent! I don't believe it! Can't you see that would only serve selfish interests and create a watered down version of the original idea? It sounds like two bad laws under the cover of one to me. No wonder things are out of control." Miguel assumed he had something constructive to say. "A number of Congressmen are working on a bill give the President the right to veto a section (of a bill) and sign the rest into law. John scowled. "Haven't you heard about closing the barn door after the horse is gone? Why allow it in the first place? You vote on the effect of the entire proposal and then have one man, the president change it. We put him in charge of the executive branch; never intended for him to be a lawmaker. No, Miguel, you must solve the problem where it began, in Congress. Never allow changes to a proposed law that are not relevant." "But these Senators and Representatives were elected by the citizens of their states and it's their responsibility to protect their interests - isn't it?” declared Miguel. An emphatic "NO!" startled the Governor. "They are elected to serve the country - on behalf of their state! Don't you see what would happen if they all proposed laws in the interest of their state or district without regard for the good of the nation as a whole? Miguel finally began to understand. The actions of many of his California legislators - all those excuses and objections to Miguel‟s ideas, became clear. But he still didn't see how they would get anything done if they didn't agree to some tradeoffs. "How would we get laws passed if we didn't - compromise?" "Again, you haven't been listening Miguel. Did you ever stop to think that maybe you shouldn't? Remember, a half truth defined, is nothing but a lie." That glare, and the long stony silence made its point. John mercifully continued. "Returning to this bloated government, it seems to me you are only trying to cut the fat from each bureaucracy, but that's not the answer. Let me give you an example. If my herd of cattle grew too large for the amount of pasture and available hay, would I merely feed less to all the cattle? Of course not! I would have an entire herd of undernourished and unhealthy animals, of no benefit to anyone. You must cull the herd" Miguel understood. ___________________ 28 Attitude Miguel looked forward to getting away from Sacramento, and a few days back home. Not that they weren't pleased with the house they'd leased, but he was glad they had the financial where-with-all to avoid renting out their home in Lafayette. But, even home in his own bed, he had a tough time sleeping. One particularly fruitless evening, Miguel gave up on the idea of dozing off anytime soon, put on his robe and slippers and quietly shuffled into the den to look for a good book on American history. He had most of the better stuff, although the scholarly types had made even Ben Franklin's deeds almost unreadable too. The scrapbooks in the corner, caught his eye. His parents were not your typical Mexican citizens. His mother grew up in on the East Coast of the United States and met his father on one of the family‟s frequent vacation trips to Mexico. Nor was Ernesto Galaz your average young Mexican, having been born into a certain degree of wealth and owned a large “Rancho” in the fertile valleys in the state of Sonora. His grandfather also had persuaded a young English girl to join him in Mexico, so there was a degree of precedence, and lots of family in the area. Finally Ernesto was able to convince Martha‟s family to give their consent to the marriage, even though it would mean seeing their grandchildren only occasionally. His grandmother (mother's side), had passed away a couple of years ago, and Martha and Ernesto brought a number of things back after the funeral. When his folks came to visit over the Thanksgiving holidays, Martha had these old albums. The plan was to go through them after dinner. But, before the pie arrived, Dad had developed a bad case of indigestion, and they headed back to the motel. What better history book, than your own? He knew he'd need help to identify the old photos and clippings, but decided to take a look anyway. Browsing through the first book sparked many memories. He didn't know his grandmother very well. They lived on the east coast until she passed away, and she didn't travel much in her later years. But Miguel remembered the times, as a small boy, the family came up to the east coast. She'd put him on her lap,.. and launch into the family history. He was bored silly then, but now wished he'd paid more attention. 29 Her family had come over on a trading vessel in the 1600's, but no one could verify that, just Grandma. It was interesting to see some of the family features that repeated themselves,.. generation after generation. He'd gotten his black hair from his father's side, -- and he assumed the receding hairline too. But, his mother's family was quite different. The hair was mostly mousy brown, and even the old men kept most of it. Many of the men had this curious little "widows peak". He moved on to the second volume. Sifting through pictures on the third page, he stopped... My God; that looked almost like John, or at least a relative! He stared at the picture... and steely eyes were staring right back through him. It couldn't be, but it still made him a little uneasy. He didn't know many of the family names from his mother's side. Maybe John could shed some light. Miguel leaned back, letting his head rest against the leather, and the album slid down to his lap. He'd have to ask the next time they....got together. It had been almost a month since they had connected, but somehow the image of that half burnt candle assured him it was destined to continue. The chair was very comfortable, and he decided to rest his eyes for a minute... ....as Miguel took his seat at the table,.. he noticed that the candle was now much smaller. "I'm almost afraid to ask”, said John, "but what else concerns you? I think I've heard enough to know that we are probably not able to compete with the British and French. How do we survive with the experience of these much older nations?" "All is not lost, sir", said Miguel. "We're actually the model for many other countries. They've patterned their constitutions after ours. You've developed a system which is the envy of most of the world." For instance, there has been a major change in the world that occurred just a few year ago. Are you familiar with the country of Russia?" "Of course" said John. "It was actually very similar to our original colonies, except a much larger territory. They were controlled by the Tsars and kept pretty much to themselves. Has that changed?" "Very much so," said Miguel. "The old Russian rule was replaced a long time ago by a socialistic system called communism. Basically, everything was owned by the state and 30 was supposed to be shared. The system grew and swallowed up many surrounding countries, eventually controlling a major portion of the continents of Europe and Asia. This 'Soviet Union' became a major threat to the free world and, for many years the two worlds, communism and democracy, lived in fear of each other. Their system has finally collapsed, thankfully without much bloodshed, and they are in the process of becoming a democracy, patterned after ours. They've lived without freedom for so long, and without experiencing the incentive for individual effort, it's a very difficult transition." John leaned over the table. "Tell me more." "I don't think our people or the Congress were focused on the significance of all of this. We were so relieved to be out from under this threat that we've put the whole thing out of our minds. I'm afraid if they don't get started on the right track there could be devastating consequences, for them, the rest of the world." "You're right", said John. "Do you see the similarities,-- to our revolution,.. and that of your old adversary, this Soviet Union of States?" "I do, but not enough others seem to care. The former communist countries are copying us as we are now, and not the way it was, when you founded our democratic system. It's turned into a self centered grab by individuals for all they can get - for themselves." John again leaned forward. "They need direction as much as our country. We have only to get back on the right path. They have no path at all, save the wrong one, they've gotten by following you." "That's true". "Then you have got to provide a new one. Promise me that you will try your best to pass on these ideas we are discussing. Remember that, just as you represent California as part of the United States, the country is only a part of the earth, and you have a duty to the common good for all." The eye contact remained. Miguel already understood, and solemnly agreed. "Back to our problems. If we can get on track, I think we will still be OK but we've been successful for so long, our people have developed an attitude problem." "How so?" asked John. "Well, since our meetings I've begun to see things differently. Originally I assumed the reason was recent generations have simply been spoiled. They think the country owes 31 them a living. If they don't work, that's OK, because the country has an obligation to feed them, give them a job,-- give them anything they want. It is one of the things I miss about Mexico. The sense of family and responsibility is much better than it is in California. But, I'm beginning to see that it goes much deeper. The bigger concerns are the self- interests of the successful, including the legal system, that takes the "me, first" attitude. People don't think of others, except when it comes to blaming someone if things don't go well. Both ends of society are at fault, the rich and the poor. The majority in the middle is being consumed, like a candle - burning from both ends. Young people don't seem to understand words like responsibility and respect. Respect for elders, people in authority, or just people in general. Kids aren't taught respect at home. Either the parents are too busy, or they're not even there. They dump it on the school or the church. Half the time there's only one parent. Broken homes aren't the exception anymore. Many tried to make sure our children have what they didn't. We've developed into a society of guilt-ridden enablers. We've unknowingly deprived our kids of the challenge of earning things. How in the world are young people ever going to learn values - like responsibility, respect, honor, courtesy and consideration? How can you feel good, about something you don't have to work for?" John was pleased to see his frustration; it confirmed how much Miguel cared, but he didn't want to get lost in negatives. "You seem to be rambling on Miguel, but I agree. I can see the heart of many of the problems is the lack of self-esteem, and this "me first" attitude that you talk about. Is it so bad that folks wouldn't plant the crops for an ailing neighbor?" "It still happens,” said Miguel, "but less and less frequently, and all to often it is done by the older generation, not the young. It's heading the wrong way. Too many people who give are asked to keep giving - over and over again - to those that are very willing to take. And, when it stops, the takers complain." "What about the companies? Surely those that have prospered try and give some of it back to the communities in which they have thrived." "Large companies are rarely owned and run by individuals or families anymore. The big ones are mostly corporations, driven by the short-term goal of profit. If it doesn't help the bottom line immediately, it doesn't happen. The people that control our investment capital, the brokerage houses, the institutional representatives, and the large investors, seem to delight in out-maneuvering others. They 32 produce nothing and create nothing. They often take tremendous economic rewards, and simply rearrange capital. Far too often it's taken from the good - and ends up in the hands of the greedy. For instance, many 'shell companies' exist for the sole purpose of taking over operating enterprises to make a quick buck. They use leverage to gain control of a good company, divide the assets and sell off the pieces at a big profit. The employees are left without jobs, and the country is left without the products. I can see in your eyes what you're are thinking John, and it's true, if not worse than you imagine." John just slowly shook his head and stared resolutely, at the dark walls. "Miguel, could you bring me a copy of a newspaper, when we get together again? I think it would be interesting to see what they say about some of these things you are describing." "I'll try,” replied Miguel, stealing a glance at the candle. It had been a long session and it was obvious that John was getting tired. This could be an opportunity to discuss some of the other bothersome issues without too much risk of over reaction. For the next couple of hours Miguel tackled welfare problems, environmental concerns, education, political action groups, state sponsored gambling, and a host of other problems He even started on California woes.. He was right; the old farmer just listened. _____________________ 33 Relative….. The Reed‟s took frequent Mexican vacations, mostly to coastal resort towns like Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan. It was at Cabo San Lucas that they first met the Galaz family. Like the Reeds, they preferred to vacation on the coast, mainly because Ernesto‟s boys loved to surf and fish. Jacks daughter Rebecca often joined the Galaz kids for seaside adventures. She was a tom boy, but also strikingly beautiful even in her early teens. Jack and Mary weren‟t too concerned, although Jack let Mary know that he didn‟t like the idea of his children become to involved with those from “other backgrounds” As Miguel and Becky grew into their late teens, their relationship also flourished, to Jack‟s dismay. But, when Miguel showed promise as a Mexican League baseball player, and finally arrived in Oakland as a full fledge member of the Oakland A‟s, his objections softened and Miguel became a frequent dinner guest at their Orinda home. Jack Reed was, on balance, a very secure guy. He thought he had done pretty well for himself, and the family. They didn't have to worry about money, he'd seen to that. He had changed careers from real estate (which had been so good to him in the 70's and 80's) to the stock market. He was proud of the fact that he usually saw trouble coming and he always seemed to be one step ahead of the crowd. But, it bugged him that Miguel never wanted to accept his advice or was interested in his business. Sure, he had been pretty secretive, but there were lots of things that the family would be better off not knowing, particularly after Miguel arrived in the Governor‟s seat. When Miguel went on to college after baseball, Jack was very proud. He believed he had some good stuff in him, but thought he was a little too soft. Physically sure, he had proven himself but, mentally, he was afraid that Miguel just didn't have the guts to make the tough decisions that would be necessary in the Governor‟s chair.. He recalled Miguel‟s college graduation. His valedictorian speech was all about his mother Martha and Jack‟s wife Mary‟s influence on him, not he or Ernesto, and it hurt. After all, he had helped launch Miguel‟ sporting goods company, although Miguel never knew some of the things he had done. When this “Governor” thing came up, he had pulled a few strings. Miguel never seemed to give him credit for all of that. He always wanted to do the right thing and be fair to the other side. Good God, the guy just didn‟t understand business or politics. He called Miguel‟s office late one night expecting to find Randy, who Jack had personally picked to help set up the transition team. Randy didn't always play by the 34 rules, but he usually found a way to get the job done. He normally could be found at Miguel's office after hours. He didn't like the secretaries listening in on his conversations. When Miguel answered instead, he couldn't muster the courage to ask for the favors he had promised during the election and he hung up. He'd let Randy handle that one. ********** Miguel had been in office for two months now and he began to see what his father-in- law‟s "connections" were all about; those political contributions and special favors he threw at various people. Miguel thought back to his baseball days when he had met and fallen in love with Becky. The family lived in Orinda and knew a lot of influential people. Money never seemed to be a problem. Jack‟s business dealings impressed Miguel when he was dating. But after he had been given permission to “join the family”, questions arose. Early on, there were some shadowy real estate deals, like the Mayfair project, and then it was new stock issues. Jack always seemed to be in line for a piece of any hot public offerings. Med-tech had gone from $8 to $22 at the opening bell, and was sold the same day. A week later Jack informed the family at breakfast that it was back to 8. Nobody asked him how he knew. Jack was at the head of the line there too. _________________________ What really bothered Miguel was how he could have been so naïve about his goals. Helping others sounded wonderful at the time. Here he was, in his late 40's, with most of his childhood dreams accomplished, and the Governor of most productive state in the union. The term he inherited was already half over, and he had difficulty getting the legislature to move on obviously good things. It was more than frustrating. He found himself in the middle of more corruption than he dreamed existed, and was powerless to do much about it. How could he have been so naïve? He recalled the big battle with Jack, when he turned down his alma mater, Stanford, and chose UC Berkeley instead, all because of the Woodrow Wilson School, the top History department in the country. His father-in-law was very upset, to put it mildly. Miguel remembered how perplexed he was in his senior year. He had written his thesis on the good and evil of political action committees (PACS) and it was clever enough to find 35 it's way into the Atlantic Monthly the summer following graduation. All that research was a real eye opener - and the first real glimpse at the system. Still, his college days were a wonderful experience, partly since Becky had gone back to Cal for her graduate degree in economics. They often got together for coffee at the student center and talked like a couple of good friends, not the husband and wife they had become while Jesus was still with the A‟s. As much as any single thing, it was her mocking appraisal of the bureaucratic process that kindled Miguel slumbering sense of wrong. __________________________ Becky had not only supported his quick decision to jump into the Governor‟s race but had been at his side throughout the campaign and into his attempt to change the system. He didn‟t really want Randy to help with the transition team, but he felt he owed that much to Jack, and besides he really didn‟t know where to turn. He was a little afraid that Randy had done some arm-twisting and worried about promises that might surface in the future. Later was now, and the "owe me's" came from every direction. He spent most of his time explaining and deferring. There was hardly time to dig into the problems. The confusion grew. The only bright spot seemed to be John, and this strange series of dreams. ********* 36 Tax... The candle flame was fluttering when Miguel arrived, and John impatiently beckoned him to the table. "Tell me about the revenues. How can the system you describe hold up under the weight of all these demands? How do you make it balance?" "I'm afraid it doesn't. We've accumulated a pretty sizeable debt." John leaped up out of his chair and circled the table, trying to digest what he had heard. "You just borrow more money," he screamed. "From whom?" Miguel tried to stay calm and collected, but it wasn't easy. He was offering excuses - to a man who had demanded our country's freedom, fought for it - and then helped draft the most admired and copied system of government ever created. His admittedly vague and evasive answers at least bought some time for John to calm down a bit. "I understand that expenses have exceeded revenues, but I've heard enough about that. How do you tax, and how is it collected?" "We actually have a very fair system.,” said Miguel, trying to be positive. "Each person is taxed based how much they make, and there are certain deductions that over the years have become an important part of the policies. It gets a little complicated, but we're trying to insure that everyone pays their fair share". "I don't understand. We certainly never intended to tax people based on their earnings. That is the very essence of growth and the creation of new jobs. How did this happen?" "Many years ago, as the national debt grew, the Congress needed to find ways to increase the revenues. The Sixteenth Amendment evolved from that and provided for a tax on income." 37 The table shook from the force of the blow. Miguel lost his balance, and he and the chair hit the floor together. It was an embarrassing sight, John towering over the table and the fallen Governor, who has nothing to do with it, and had very little idea why John was so upset. Miguel collected himself and eased back into the seat, this time with all four chair legs firmly planted on the floor. A few minutes of explanation followed and Miguel got the point. They returned to details of the tax system. "How complicated is it?" Miguel summoned his talent for facts and figures, and made the best case he could. "Over 2000 regulations and documents! I give up! You apparently haven't learned a thing. How can you have all those regulations and forms, requirements, and exclusions and not waste a good share of the revenues trying to administer, police and collect it? No wonder the bureaucracy is so huge!" Miguel continued to talk, about taxes, and government, and sometimes to relieve the tension, switched to other subjects. John listened intently - and his temper flared again when he heard about the IRS. "First you devise this abominable tax system. Then you create this 'Internal Revenue Service' to enforce it." "That's not the half of it, John. When it comes to tax law, you are guilty until proven innocent...." Miguel got no further. "How in the world did it happen? I cannot understand how your citizens allow themselves to live under such tyranny. We would never stand for it! Never! This country was founded to escape oppression and yet you have created it for yourselves. Why have you become so passive? Have all our soldiers died in vain?" "It seems so obvious and so wrong when you put it that way, but what can we do?" asked Miguel. "Don't you remember what I said about all these other problems, like the growth of government, too many laws, culling the herd, and so forth? Clearly you don't need a complicated system, and many more hundreds of thousands of government workers, writing, administering, collecting, and enforcing these revenues. That, my friend, is just another example of wasted effort.,” said John, his eyes riveted on Miguel‟. "Simplify it! Remember the common good. A straight tax on goods and products you consume won't please everyone, but it's really in the best interest of the country. Each percentage that's wasted in all those steps is lost to the treasury. From what little I've 38 heard about your tax system, you could eliminate countless government jobs, and relieve these people of a terrible fate. They have no incentive to excel. I'm sure there are many talented people who are mired in the government system; people who would thrive on the challenge of free enterprise. Your idea about creating a government based medical and insurance system in California sounds good to me. Just make sure the people that work in the system have the same opportunities for responsibility and reward as do others. Why don't you decide on a tax based on consumption, with penalties on those things that otherwise are not beneficial to new jobs or have other negative effects? Half the income would probably result in more money for the treasury. Doesn't that make sense?" "As usual sir, you're right." The candle flame flickered - and threatened to go out. Miguel awoke with a start. So did John,... in another time and place. ____________________ 39 ...and Spend Although a month had passed, the synergy of sleep and similar dreams worked once again. "You've done what?" roared John! He jumped up, and took his customary circle around the table, pacing, and growing more angry as it penetrated. "Trillions, let alone billions." he cried. " I don't understand! Millions financed our entire government. How could you do such a thing! We fought for your rights, and gave them to you - only to have you put us in debt. And, I cannot even fathom the extent! I imagine many of you have lined your own pockets along the way. He reversed his circle, like a smart fox after a rabbit. It didn't help. Finally, he gathered himself and returned to the table. "What other surprises do you have for me?" "Several years ago we went through a major banking crisis. A number of large savings institutions went under. It cost the country several hundred billion dollars" By now Miguel understood how upsetting this was to John, but he could only wince and continue. "It's another example of how widespread greed and corruption has become. Several key people in the savings and loan industry went gone to jail." "Were good people hurt by this as well? How did it happen?" With his newfound logic, Miguel gave it a try. "Congress realized that they had created laws that encouraged investments that had no economic basis, so they passed a series of laws known as the 'Tax Reform Act of 1986'. They removed accelerated depreciation, and capital gains etc. It really changed the face of real estate in this country. The buildings, and the investment partnerships, particularly in commercial property, lost a good percentage of their value and many became insolvent." 40 "Let me understand this" said John. "Congress had passed laws which encourage these tax shelters and uneconomic partnerships and then turned around and changed the laws? Did they allow for a „phasing in‟of these radical revisions?" "No, but isn't that what you encouraged? Isn't this survival of the fittest?" John was livid! "You mean you removed the laws and stood by and watched as bad and good alike, went bankrupt? If a businessman did that he would be flogged and sent to the dungeon! Maybe some of the lawmakers should share quarters with those savings and loan people." John covered his eyes and massaged his forehead in anguish, leaving Miguel to stare at the otherwise empty room. It slowly sunk in - who was really responsible. "I imagine the citizens were very upset when they realized what Congress had done. No wonder they've lost faith and are ready to throw out the politicians." Miguel didn't have the heart, or the stomach, to tell John the truth. The public had been so upset at the scapegoats and so busy worrying about the bill for all of this, they hadn't realized that Congress was actually to blame. "Your budget must have certain things which consume a large portion of the revenue. What is your biggest area of expense?", asked John. "All of the 'entitlement' programs make up over half, but one of the largest single items is the military and the defense of our country. It takes about 1/5 of the budget. But, you must understand this cold war with communism was very costly. And now we have to face a world threat from terrorism. We've been forced to maintain a huge standing army and to continually upgrade our weapons. Do you have any suggestions? "Didn't you tell me that this "cold war" was over? And, what about the militia? Don't you have a large force of volunteers who can come to the defense of the country on short notice? Everyone, in my day, feels an obligation to help defend the nation against external threats. They don't have to be paid to mill around and wait for trouble. And why don't you have those that are full time soldiers do worthwhile things for their training such as building roads, policing our borders and the like?" said John. "That was certainly an interesting idea.," thought Miguel to himself. "Wouldn't that be great - to be able to propose to the President, a way to drastically cut the military budget, something they had been grappling with for years without success. Besides I see it as a wonderful opportunity to involve the special warfare sections of the Navy, like the Seals to both guard our coasts and enforce the new policies of Fish and Game. John brought him back from his daydream. "So how much does the government take in each year?" 41 "About 8 trillion dollars." GET SOME FACTS "And, how much further in debt are we going each year?" John resisted the urge to again circle the table when he heard 450 billion dollars, - since he knew it would do no good. "Miguel, I know you're not the cause. But how could sane men and women, in this great country, with all the opportunities that we tried to give to you, be so wasteful and short sighted! Up to now, I hoped I could offer some workable suggestions. But, this is unthinkable and, seemingly unsolvable." Expelling some rather stale air, John got up again - and tried a more purposeful path. "Let's look at it, and see what can be done. Clearly, if you've created most of this debt over the last 30 or 40 years, an equal period of sacrifice should be able to reduce, and possibly eliminate it. But, unless you stop this waste and negative spending, there can be no hope. Do you understand me?. How much does the average person make in a year? How many people do we have in the country? How much is that for each family?" Miguel could answer all of the questions but only responded to the last. "About one hundred thousand dollars". "There must be citizens who have prospered beyond their wildest dreams,-- and patriots who would be willing to give back some of what they have accumulated." "I'm sure there are, but I don't see any way they'll do it, without a promise that we can provide a balanced budget. "Of course not" said John. "Perhaps the government could provide a method of transferring this debt to the individuals, according to how they have prospered. You can create incentives to help them pay over time. The poor, who have no assets would owe nothing and the very rich should be able to pay their portion right away. The government should have no problem balancing the budget once they are relieved of this huge burden. "What you're proposing sir," as Miguel sensed a glimmer of hope, "is to transfer this debt from the government, to individuals, along with a promise to keep the budget balanced,.. and tax incentives to the people as they pay off the debt? (Miguel mulled over the idea for California.) 42 The government can't seem to reduce our debt, but perhaps we as individuals could, especially if it were based on each person's accumulated wealth." Miguel was intrigued as he thought over the possibilities. "I suppose so," John replied, "but you, and your fellow citizens would understand this better than I. After all you have created it, and within your lifetime. It just seems like a logical idea to me." "As usual sir, I agree." ____________________ 43 Produce There was no progress. The sails hung limply off the wooden masthead. The hull rose and fell with the swells, but there was no wind. Nothing. John felt as if they had been stranded there forever. And, he knew how urgent is was that he get moving. Where? He didn't remember, but he just knew they had to proceed. It was exasperating. There was light, but it was very faint. Was it dawn, ..or dusk?. The ship rose slowly, creaking and groaning, then fell slowly into the trough of the next swell. He strained at the top of each for a sign of land or another. Then he felt it. A breath of air,..followed by a slight breeze. Finally, he thought they were moving. The breeze stiffened, but the sails were silent,.. glued to the masts. In the distance he saw a shadowed silhouette on the horizon. Possibly land. The next rise - yes. Well, maybe, he just couldn't tell. The wind was heavy in his face, and still the sails lay dead. This couldn't be! He had sailed before. He came to this country on a ship like this, and spent many boyhood days around the harbor at Portsmouth. The ghost of reality became more visible. It was definitely land. And the wind whipped his clothing and pounded the side of the ship. The sea should be boiling! But, it was dead calm. No froth,..not a whitecap, or any sign at all. A dark cauldron of calm lay beneath the hull. Calm? How could that be? He leaned into the gale force wind, struggling to keep his balance... ... and hit the floor with a thud. 44 Damn! Not again. He was still groggy. He'd been here many times before, although this was the first time he actually fell out of bed. John grabbed the rail, hoisted himself, and sat on the edge to collect his thoughts. Dawn was just beginning to break. That was typical. This dream always seemed to end just as he was supposed to be rising to face a day's work. At least he didn't have to feel around in the dark for a match and the candle. He'd gather his clothes, and make do until he had a little more light - before waking Martha. She'd given up trying to sleep through John's restlessness and moved to the spare room weeks ago. John decided to surprise her and make breakfast, but he thought he'd rest just a minute or so. The whole thing was interesting, but hard on a man his age. The several connections with Miguel were so vivid. He had to believe there was some substance to it all. This dream was not like before, and didn't even involve Miguel. But, it was very intense. What was it trying to tell him? He'd had a feeling, even as they drafted the documents, that there would be periods of real problems. Some of the things Miguel had told him were not totally unexpected. Miguel must need more help. What could he do? John found the spare parchment he normally reserved to summarize the years crop production and resolved to put a few thoughts on paper. The light was still not adequate, so he made his way over and closed the door to Martha's room. He found a match, lit the saucer bound candle and moved to the table. He was a little sore, here and there. John felt a hand on his shoulder. Miguel had looked at the dwindling candle, afraid to attach any real significance to it, but he had much to learn, and couldn't take the chance of wasting any of the time they had together. "I was telling you about the waste in our system and the lack of incentive for those who do try to contribute. It's pretty scary. We have lawyers rearranging the wealth through law suits, - siphoning huge fees for themselves, accountants and tax planners spending millions of hours and billions of dollars looking for tax loopholes, trying to decipher, and then outmaneuver the overly complicated system." He sucked in a fresh supply of air and galloped on. "20 percent of the work force administering or answering the government, and the investment advisors, promoters and even developers using others people's money, primarily to find a way to put more of it in their own pockets!" 45 Miguel was really rolling now, and growing more and more upset. "It's a wonder there's anybody left - to produce anything! And those that do, are under constant pressure just to avoid law suits, and make sure that their employees have medical coverage, pension plans, paid vacations, and proper working conditions." Miguel had to wonder, would he start a company, or hire anybody in this environment?" The answer was pretty clear. "Is Franklin familiar to you", asked John. "From your day you mean? Ben Franklin? Of, course. He's one of the most enterprising and resourceful minds in our entire history." answered Miguel. "That's the kind of spirit and imaginative energy that has to be encouraged and rewarded by the system. Ben's attitude and creativity was our model as we drafted the constitution. The opportunity to create new things and new business must be promoted beyond anything else. Is it ?", asked John. "Yes, - and no. We still keep up, because we are the leaders in technology and innovation. But, I've got to explain something to you, that won't be easy to understand. The world made a remarkable acceleration in this technology at the turn of the 2Oth century. It was an amazing thing to see, and the United States, driven by your Constitution, was the leader. History calls it the „Industrial Revolution‟ and it outstripped, in one century, what had transpired since the beginning of time. We have machines that fly, not only across a nation but around the world. We can travel from Boston to London in a matter of hours. Telephones without wires, let us speak instantly to anyone, anywhere in the world. And we can reproduce anything you see, on a screen. Television brings us motion pictures of whatever is happening around the globe, instantly. And computers..." Miguel stopped there; only half realizing how impossible this all must be for John to comprehend. He didn't want to bog things down in a bunch of questions, so he moved on as inconspicuously as he could. "But, there are growing restrictions on this progress. There are so many requirements and regulations on everything that it's very difficult for a new business or new ideas to get started now." "You've got to explain all these miracles to me Miguel, but for now, I'm more concerned about the regulations. We tried to create a system of free enterprise and opportunity that would allow our country to grow unimpeded. I'm not sure about the pace of all of this, 46 but freedom is the key. You cannot allow these restrictions. That must change, at all costs", said John. "What do you suggest?" "Perhaps there should be tax breaks or incentives for all new ideas. You've told me that other countries actually pay for the development of new products, and yet you expect creative private enterprise to take these risks, while you stifle the potential processes and the rewards with regulations and roadblocks? That's cutting off your 'nose to spite your face'". "It makes perfect sense to me" said Miguel. "Can you give me any specifics. It is so easy to criticize, and yet so difficult to come up with real solutions." "There is a patent process. Is that still true?" "Sure." "Perhaps, for the first few years after a patent is granted, the profits should be taxed at one-half the normal rate. It would also help get the product established in the market. What do you think, Miguel?" "Why not? If it isn't created, the government won't get anything. But, I see lots of potential problems. If they have other business interests how are you going to..." "Hogwash! Do you want me to solve everything for you? There are always problems with any new idea. Use some of that ingenuity we've been talking about. By the way, did you remember - did you bring a newspaper?" asked Miguel reached down, produced the April 10th, 2004 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle and slid it across the table. John searched his shirt pocket and found a pair of spectacles. "I've always been very thankful to Ben for these. I'm glad you think highly of him. I was afraid his way with the ladies, and always playing tricks on people in the newspaper, would get him in trouble with the historians." With eyes meandering like a mountain road, John browsed through the first section. "I see what you mean about this law suit situation. It looks like everyone is suing somebody for one thing or another. And what is a 'class action'? "Yes", said Miguel. "Whenever there's a tragedy in the world, and lots of money is at stake, Law firms seem to be there. It's about the only time the legal process moves swiftly anymore... when several attorneys are scrambling to file the first law suit." 47 "And what about this?" demanded John. "The fellow who robbed the bank is suing the city for 'entrapment'. I wonder where he got that idea? And here.", pointing his finger at a particularly offensive piece. "This 'class action' thing is everywhere. You mean that when investors put up money, and lose it, they find a lawyer and demand their money back,-- and a whole lot more?" “Sometimes” said Miguel, “but usually the lawyers find them”. Miguel explained that attorneys normally collect up to 30% of the settlement and when it's a major event, with lots of people involved, the rewards can be enormous. "Lawyers, and the whole firm for that matter, could retire after one of these major cases is settled." Miguel remembered that many of his friend‟s clients, who were looking for very expensive houses, were attorneys. "It sounds to me like your attorneys are trying to convince us that a contract only has to be honored by one side” muttered John.. Look at this! An entire section devoted to sport." John continued to read bits and pieces, not waiting for an explanation. "I see that this „baseball‟ is called the 'national pastime'. Sounds a bit like rounders to me." "Oh no. Uniquely American." said Miguel. "It says these baseball players may go „on strike'." Miguel explained as best he could. "I don't understand. They appear to make a good living, playing a sport for Lord's sake, and they're going to strike? For what reason, pray tell?" "The owners say they are paying too much, and many of the teams are losing money. They want to set limits on salaries and, of course, the players are upset." "Who offered the salaries in the first place?" asked John. He skipped to another article, which mentioned the money involved - and the newspaper slipped down to his lap, revealing a stunned expression. John recovered. "It looks to me like another classic case of what's wrong with your society,--both sides looking after their self interests, busy blaming each other, while the average citizen who pays the money and supports them, is left without any games. Selfishness at it's best," said John. "Or worst" added a dejected Miguel. "What's this ' PICK A SCANDAL '? It looks like your journalists are making a big 'to do' about a pretty small issue. Is that common? 48 Maybe that's why you don't get the right people to run for office, at least for the right reasons." John scanned on... and came to an article called the “Best of Herb Caen” "Who is this Mr. Caen? He certainly writes in strange sentences, but I seem to get his meaning. He reminds me a little of Ben." A few muffled chuckles followed. Fortunately, it was only one column. John finished and shifted his attention to more serious matters. "Almost every page has something about rights being violated. Looks like you people are trying to strangle the masses, in order to save a few. Finally, John put the paper down and stared blankly at the wall behind Miguel, with the pained look of indigestion. "It is up to the lawmakers, to rectify this. That's why you agreed to spend this time away from your occupation, to serve your country", John scolded. "What? This is what most do for a living! You mean they actually make a career out of politics! And, get paid! Don't you see how wrong that could be? Politicians would even be tempted to put their personal gain in front of the common..." John stopped. This time he had answered his own question. Any system that allocates power based on how long elected officials have been in office could be subject to all kinds of temptations, from individuals and companies trying to get their way, and not what was best for all. He half expected to hear they'd gone so far as to hire people - just to influence the lawmakers. He was getting a pretty good idea of what had gone wrong. Clearly, politicians must have studied and solved the problem. Maybe being part of the problem, is the problem. "Miguel, have you considered limiting the amount of time to hold public office?” asked John. "We had no concerns when we created the rules, since we could not afford to spend more than one or two terms away from our work. I know most would learn more about the process the longer they're involved. But, if they make it a career, the temptations would probably grow faster than the benefits. Soon you would be compromising,-- things you knew were right, for those that helped a favored few, just to keep your office." "Is that happening now?" Miguel hung his head and didn't answer. It wasn't necessary. ------------------------------- 49 Who’s God? “Miguel, I must ask you some questions. You spoke about your religious upbringing, yet you have barely mentioned the subject. What is your belief and what has happened to the separation of church and state that we placed in the Constitution?” “Well, to answer the first part, my family is very religious, that is, my parents and my wife‟s parents. We were both brought up in religious surroundings, me as a Catholic, and Becky as a Protestant. Our parents remain that way. We don‟t discuss it at family gatherings, because they are so entrenched it would only serve to upset them. But, over the years, Becky and I have grown more and more distant from the church. Like the political system, we still participate, but wish we didn‟t have to have a label. We have seen scandals within our Church, and watched right wing radicals in our Country, use God as an excuse to take power. As a matter of fact, that looks to me like the biggest problem the various religions have… mortals trying to be God, and convincing the members to blindly carry out their will. Some of the most evil things in the history of the world have been done under the guise of religion, from the religious wars before your time John, and continuing into mine. To me, it is simply a case of mortal man trying to convince their followers and everyone else that my God is better than your God. I also seem logical to me that, if you believe in a “creator” there can be only one. All of this is caused by misguided power seeking individuals and their blinded followers. Any thinking person should see this but, it is never discussed. I am afraid to speak my mind; for fear that many people will be very upset that I would question their faith. Don‟t get me wrong John; religion can be a wonderful thing, providing a sense of values, belonging and order to a sometimes-chaotic existence. And, most faiths are based on only good things. For hundreds of millions, it is the most important and best thing in their lives. But when extremists enter the equation, and mortal power seekers take control, it has created probably the largest problem in the world today. Muslim fanatics send women and children followers to blow themselves up, just to kill innocent people, because they happen to be of the Jewish or other faiths rather than their own... The leaders promise eternal life in heaven, and lots of money to their family. Can you imagine that; people so blinded they would think that a God, any God, would want them to kill innocent people and they would be rewarded? 50 On top of that, our country‟s leaders send the military to war to stop it, saying it is under the name of „our God‟. Unbelievable!” Miguel thought for a moment and added, that‟s why Becky and I no longer do.” “I have the same feelings in my time”, added John. We wanted to make sure that religion and the government did not intermingle, and that is how the separation of church and state came to be added to the constitution. I tried to get more specific language but, just as you are finding in your time, the other framers were afraid to upset their constituents. I know that God would not send these misguided people, killing others under his name, to heaven. Who would go? More importantly, if there is a heaven and a hell, who should go to purgatory?” John and Miguel looked at each as if in a mirror, and a knowing smile crept across both reflections. “How about anyone who seeks power for their own purpose, like many politicians, attorneys‟…” said John. “dictators and some leaders” chimed in Miguel. It could a very busy place……. 51 Hope... Miguel was again sitting across the table. The candle was smoldering and nearly exhausted. Beside it stood a new candle, freshly lit and burning brightly. He was very relieved! John had focused on it too, and although equally pleased, was anxious to press on. "Let's look at the problems you've raised and talk more about solutions." John reached into the bowl, retrieved a handful of stones and placed them on the table in front of him. "As you know by now, I have great faith that the largest obstacle can be overcome, if taken one stone at a time. To begin, you said that the root of the problem is most people are no longer willing to give, only to get. More importantly, the idea of the common interest has escaped their attention and concern entirely. Is that fair to say, Miguel?" "Yes, that is pretty well put, I'm afraid." "Well, the solution in my day, and I suspect in yours, is to challenge this apathy and stimulate some action. If people aren't forced to commit, and really work for something, they will not feel the pride of accomplishment. The cause for you is just as important as it was for us, when we rebelled. The basic freedoms and our entire system are in jeopardy." John slid one of the stones across the table to the edge of the candle. "I know the solutions you've suggested are right", said Miguel, "but how will I get politicians to go along? After all, many of them have been public servants all their lives. "Public servants, my ass! The way you have described it, they've taken far more that they have given, become drunk with power and self-interest, and worst of all, sold their votes to the interests of others. You can get their attention and support,.. or the people will get it for you. Don't forget my great, great grandchildren are almost certainly out there, along with the Adams, the Jefferson's, and the Hamilton's. Unless you do something soon, there will be another revolution. It may be peaceful but, whether it's by vote or by uprising, I don't think it is far from coming." A second stone moved to the other side of the candle. 52 "But, enough of that. Tell me about your political parties. Has America united into one controlling party, or do you have several?" asked John. "There are basically two major parties, the Democrats and Republicans; it's been that way for a long time. One, the Republicans believes in a smaller role of government and less help for the poor. Democrats are more inclined to be compassionate to all." "I am not surprised" replied John, "that there are at least two major parties. Although we didn't anticipate it when we drafted the constitution, it soon became clear that, because of all the major differences in domestic policy and ideas about foreign involvement, that was going to happen. We were more concerned about too many parties developing, where nobody could get a clear majority of opinion to get things done. It sounds like the Republicans think very much the same as we. And, the Democrats could be like the 'Federalists', thinly disguised. To which party do you belong? "I have been both, but I have to admit that I often wish I didn't have to constantly support the ideas of either party. I was able to run for Governor under the name of the “Common Sense” party. I have been Governor for less than a year, and although we are making progress, the job is far from finished. The media and the pollsters are telling me I can‟t win a regular election, unless I affiliate with one of the two major parties. Both want me to run under their banner, and both guarantee that I will win with their party machine behind me. Isn‟t that interesting? After I became a citizen had to make a choice of parties. When I saw a good person, or a good idea, backed by members of the other party, I couldn‟t join in to help, without offending my own. I was hoping you would have an answer for me”. John paused and thought for a minute. "You know, my friend, I will admit more than I should, you being a student of history and all, we had similar problems. I'm sure there are good and bad men in your time as well as ours. The difference is finding leaders who really care and are willing to rise above their prejudices and self- interests and work for the good of all. It's not a matter of which political party. We must learn to be patriots, not to your party, but to the benefit of all." With that, John moved the third stone into position forming a triangle around the remains of the candles. "As we began the new functions of government, we were fortunate to have some very good men - who put aside their own goals and served the country. Men like our Tom Jefferson have delayed personal differences and worked hard for everyone. Of course they still do what they think is right, and that doesn't please everybody. 53 I know I gave you a very hard time about the debt. The truth is we had accrued a sizable debt ourselves, with the war and all. So far, we haven't yet had time to reduce it. But we owe, I mean owed, less than 80 million dollars and that included the purchase of land equal to one-third of our continent! We seemed to be on the right track and I had hoped the debt would soon be a thing of the past. Of course we had a few scoundrels, too." said John. "Your problems seem so small compared to ours. We tend to think that life was simple in your day, with little aggravation, little dissent." "I trust you have learned that is not the case. Besides, political dissent is healthy and necessary for democracy to function properly. Even President Washington became the target of bitter and vicious criticism. You must never silence passionate debate." John placed a fourth stone with the others. "Tell me, Miguel, who do you admire from your time, and I don't mean just political leaders? Men like Ben Franklin were not really politicians, but made great contributions to our country." It was Miguel‟ turn, and he tried the circle around the table. He started smiling to himself. "There is one man who always intrigued me. His name is Charles O. Finley. I didn‟t play for him, but heard lots of stories. I finally had the chance to meet him, and talk about baseball and other things for several hours. It was fascinating.. Remember the paper I brought you? Well, that same newspaper just had an article about the strike possibility and a biography of the man. Charlie owned the Oakland A‟s before I played there. He was always getting in trouble with his fellow owners over one new idea or another. When they (the owners) started to get big media revenues, they stepped all over themselves to pay huge salaries. They've kept at it until the money slowed, and now we are at this very predictable crisis point. Charlie understood all this, but nobody listened. He finally sold the team, but not before giving us some of the best teams and ideas baseball has had in last 50 years. Charlie is a businessman, and has good old-fashioned horse sense. I suspect if there were more Charlie Finley‟s' as owners, we wouldn't have the mess we do today. Another guy who wasn't afraid to speak his mind, is an old retired senator from the other party, a fellow named Barry Goldwater. He ruffled feathers and offended some, but he was never afraid to back a good idea or chastise a bad one, no matter whose concept, or what party. I've always admired that man. Unfortunately, neither is with us anymore. 54 And there's a doctor who doesn't practice medicine anymore, Dean Odell. He's become a media person and gives common sense medical advice. His good logical opinions, I suspect, have kept the medical profession from heading off in their own direction at our expense. But, I like his advice about our system, better than the medical stuff. He gets very frustrated with all the laws suits, and ridiculous government controls. Other than being a bit carried away with… other subjects" laughed Miguel, "he has been a voice of reason. Then, there was this short, feisty guy named Perot, who was so upset at the political system, he decided to run for president some time ago. He put his own money and ran as an 'independent', since both major parties were afraid to be tied to him. He's been saying some of the things you've been saying. He's a little strong willed for some, but he's a no nonsense kind of a guy who really cares about this country and doesn't let the smoke obscure the goal. One thing is for sure, he wouldn't be owned by anyone's special interest. We could have had a politically free president, but it didn't happen, and I guess we'll never know what might have been. I voted for the cocky little son-of-a-gun even though I considered it a risk. I think the vote was closer than they thought. I've talked to lots of people who almost cast their ballot that way - but didn't. I heard over and over that they didn't want to 'waste their vote'. In essence, that's exactly what they did. I have never understood that logic. Most politicians were scared to death of that man. But I really wonder whether there were other people that were intrigued, like me?” "This Perot fellow seems very interesting", said John "It sounds like he could be the catalyst for that uprising I have been talking about. But, the way you describe him I fear that power was part of his reasons, and that is a risk that it not worth taking. With a man like you, Miguel, it might be different next time. Perhaps an odd ball coalition of Tories and Federalists, Republicans and Democrats, Independents and Capitalists, of environmentalists and inventors, maybe Goldwater and Finley, and Lord knows who else - could pull it off. “Anyway, I guess we'll never know", said Miguel. "In many respects", said John, as he picked up the last stone, "we have come full circle. It is up to you, and your countrymen, to act in the true spirit of our intentions." The two sat in silence, staring at the pair of candles, now reduced to stumps, with one faint wavering flame. The shadows cast by the stones danced off the walls. 55 Miguel again busied himself with his notes. It had been difficult to see to write, as the candle receded, but the words somehow seemed clearer now. He glanced up, and noticed for the first time, two small windows - and light beginning to permeate the room. "Is that about it?", asked Miguel. "O course not, but time is running out, just as when we drafted our Constitution. You have the essentials and you must now press on." Miguel shuffled through his notes. When he looked up - light was now streaming through the windows... ...and John was gone. ********** 56 He walked outside. It was a warm, friendly morning. Mist hung over the countryside, as the sun began to warm the fields. Probably early summer. Wisps of vapor curled upward from the rows of new mown alfalfa hay in the meadow. This certainly wasn't California. Quite similar to Washington, or where he had stayed during the transition… in Virginia. Peaceful, thought Miguel, as he took in the meadow lark's morning welcome. The cattle were fanned out in the pasture, lazily munching hay. He glanced down, at the yellow note pad, still clutched in his hands. Between the pages were 3 folded sheets of hand written notes on coarse looking paper.... _______________________ A quick tug removed the tie altogether. Miguel slung his suit coat over his shoulder and started walking, - down the road John must have traveled 200 years ago, apprehensive - but full of hope. _________*********__________ 57 the letters 58 TO THE LAWMAKERS... .. I am appalled at what has happened to the political system. What we intended as a temporary sacrifice to serve, has too often turned into an occupation, and an exercise in personal profit. Power is either the disease or the cure, depending on the intentions of it’s possessor. I propose that each politician, before he seeks, and certainly before he occupies any political office, make the following pledge: I pledge to...... --propose or vote for only those things, which encourage productivity, and against those that do not. --avoid all special interests, including my own, unless this interest is in keeping with the common good. --keep foremost in my mind that, when laws are made, there may be bad results for some, but I understand that it is necessary to promote the well being of the majority. --strive to eliminate two rules, regulations, or laws, for every one I propose. --take responsibility for my own actions, and urge other members of the political process to do the same. --foster ingenuity and creativity. It is the backbone of the American system. --give back the rights of teachers to teach, judges to judge, police to enforce, and employers and business to grow. --to work to disallow riders to bills etc. that do not follow the direct intent of the proposed law, and in the interim, vote against any bill with special interests attached. --not use my position for personal gain. --seek another term or higher office, only if I am able to set self interests and vested interests aside, and to step aside when I cannot. 59 TO THE LAWYERS AND JUDGES....... You have probably violated our trust more than anyone. You have turned away from your duties and obligations, often putting your interest ahead of others, all behind your own shield of trust. You were once respected and revered because you were helpful and productive. Apparently, you've not only often failed to help, but have caused personal anguish and economic drain on individuals, companies and our system. As with all educated people, you are entitled to profit from your knowledge, but not at the expense of your clients, your fellow man, or your country. To recapture this trust, conquer your greed, and do the following: 1. Abolish this idea of "adversarial privilege". Give freely of your knowledge to all parties to a dispute,-- and seek the truth. Adopt the principal of disclosure as your cornerstone, and you will return to the respected, helpful role you once enjoyed. 2. Frivolous lawsuits must stop. If they are filed and found so, there should have no fees to the legal representative of the maker, and penalties as well. There can be no incentives to sue in our society. So change your ethics that encourage you to file actions, not for justice, but for financial gain. Life is not without problems, and unfortunate results. But, two wrongs do not make a right. Your rights, and those of your clients are measured by the rights of others, - and the common good must prevail. Instead of chasing the doctor's carriage - guide it. 3. Eliminate language in your contracts that requires anyone, other than your client, to pay your legal fees. You are only pursuing your self-interest when you draft documents for your own benefit, and not the parties. 4. Do not initiate action against innocent producers. They cannot be held responsible for every improper use of their product. You are not forced to represent someone's position regardless of merit, or justness. When someone wants to take legal action to intimidate, or for financial gain, turn away. 5. Channel your knowledge of the law to the creation of new ideas and inventions, expansion and positive productive conclusions. 6. It is not necessary to represent the guilty. We allowed for equal protection under the law, including your representation, to insure that the innocent were safeguarded,.... not the wrong doers. When there is an admission of guilt, public or private, your obligation is only to represent the truth. Defend only the proper purposes and causes. After all, we gave you rights also, and the right to self- respect is among them. Change, or the people will change it for you. 60 TO ALL CITIZENS, IN COMMON...... Just as we did when this country declared its independence, you must take back control of our system and your own destiny. We had to fight to gain our freedom. You already have it, and all the tools you need - in the Constitution. Follow our intentions, not your own. Your biggest problems rest within you. Unless everyone is willing to give up their selfishness and put the interest of the majority first, it will not work. First of all, insure that the lawyers and the lawmakers follow the guidelines of these letters. Then you must also follow them. The most important change must be in your attitude, regardless of position, education, or desires. You, have been given equality by virtue of your citizenship in the great nation. But, that privilege must continually be earned, you cannot expect your rights to exist, at the expense of others, not your neighbor, your employer, your village, or your country. Self-esteem does not come with wealth, power, or possessions. It can only be earned by doing what is right, and just. If you look closely, you will see that the happiness and contentment of your neighbor has little to do with his possessions. Create things of value, whether it be crops, or tools, or new inventions, or services to your fellow man. Use the freedoms that this nation, above all others, gives to you. It is the backbone of our success. Measure in terms of additions to the common interest, not in terms of taking from someone else. Look closely at your work. If it rearranges wealth, rather than creating it, change what you do. Take responsibility for your own actions. Be respectful,.. to your superiors and those below you, to your elders, and your fellow man, as well as your family. Help others, not by just giving, but also by allowing them to earn their own way. A man's self respect cannot be given. You have become physically, mentally and morally weak. We were founded on freedoms, including the freedom to succeed - and the freedom to fail. We grow stronger by our efforts, not our successes. And, we learn from our failures. This is part of the natural order, and the strengthening of future generations. Pride must be a common thread among our people. Encourage and nurture it. We all have something in common,.. coveted by the rest of the world. We are Americans, living under the greatest system of opportunity ever created. Renew it. JMB 61 later... 62 During his Governorship, Miguel often traveled back to Washington, and made occasional visits to the stone cottage. He sat at the old wooden table and reaffirmed his conviction; not only in their meetings and what John had told him, but also to restore hope. Hope and the belief that what he was trying to do, was not only necessary but, possible. On some of those visits, stones vanished from the bowl - and finally the bowl itself. In exchange, there was a letter, sealed in a plain white envelope addressed to John. Like the bowl and the stones, the letter also disappeared. Visitors to the Governor‟s office, often were mystified by the container that sat on his desk. It held a number of small ordinary looking stones. They were never explained. ************************ 63 November 24, 2005 Dear John, It has been nearly a year and a half since our last encounter and over two years since I become Governor. I had hoped somehow there would have been another chance to meet, but I understand. Your letters and guidance have had a major impact on California and our people, even though we talked mainly about our nation‟s problems. I‟ll try to summarize what has taken place. It it‟s hard to decide where to begin. Things didn't happen overnight. The excitement of the people and the chance to get California back on its feet was exhilarating. But the entrenched political and legal system was not about to let go of the power that it had horded. Any attempt at fast tracking the solutions through the legislative process was blunted at every turn. Out of frustration I decided to take my case to the people… through the media. There is a particular news anchorman in the Bay Area, who also has a very popular talk show. He‟s accused (by his callers) of being a liberal, and then a conservative, on pretty much a daily basis. This is my kind of man. Besides, he was from the Mid-West and, from my experience playing minor league baseball there, know they have the family values and respect that I experienced in Mexico. I became a frequent guest on his show and the feedback from the listeners was truly amazing. Callers would often fill in the blank spots in my outlined ideas and was a “breath of fresh air”, after Sacramento, dealing with the lobbyists and legislators. I also remember what you said…how no new laws were often better than the alternative. But some things like energy and the immigration problems required legislative action. It all happened with a March referendum. I took your advice and made sure that the bill would not contain unrelated and/or special interest components. After talking to several key legislators, and getting the normal political response, I decided to draft it myself. If there is anything I have learned about the definition of legislation by committee (in my short time in office), is summed up by my private definition of the word committee…gridlock. I worked with only two advisors from my staff one, a Mexican 64 national, yes, a Mexican citizen, and the other a third generation California citizen. We took it to the voters in March of 2004. The proposition encompassed the entire illegal immigrant situation, from registration, to driver licenses and medical insurance, and the collection of back taxes. There would be no riders, just a simple yes or no. The answer was “yes”, and we were finally off and running. There are unbelievable biological and technology advances that have been discovered recently. We developed a method of identification that allows us not only to prove who each person (in this group) is, but also where. I know it sounds like an invasion of privacy, civil rights, etc., but remember John, these people were not citizens, simply headed down the path toward earning that privilege. The loss of revenue from my repeal of a major increase in vehicle taxes was quickly offset by the income from the now legally registered illegal aliens. Someone forgot to count their contributions to the fees collected by DMV. Businesses that depend on trucking were not only relieved, but also found this new pool of drivers invaluable. The registration of these aliens not only solved the drivers license problem, but schools sprung up overnight to help these people understand the rules and pass the written test in English, the beginning of their new and major impact on our economy. We worked with both Mexico and Canada and developed an updated “common sense” set of symbols for road signs etc. that mean the same thing in all three countries. What a boon it has been to truck traffic (and business) across the borders. After the measure passed with such overwhelming support, the legislators were getting a very uneasy feeling as they, and their special interests lobbies, watched their power slip away. Ninety percent of these illegal aliens have earned their citizenship at this point. It is so compelling to see some of my former countrymen from Mexico, in tears of joy over earning their citizenship. During a recent television broadcast several thousand took the oath of allegiance. There was hardly a dry eye in the audience. Certainly not mine. Not only did all of this take an immediate chunk out of the budget shortfall and stimulate the economy, it is providing a large source of current and future tax revenue to the state, not to mention the federal government. Possibly the most interesting revelation was the establishment of a state run and state funded insurance program for these registered aliens. This department included workman‟s compensation and health coverage. Businesses were elated to have this huge insurance burden lifted, and since the workers paid their own way, they were very careful about filing unnecessary claims. We opened a series of clinic all across the state and worked out arrangements with local hospitals to take the more serious cases. They were delighted to have the additional revenue of paying customers and everybody won. It was 65 the only other referendum that was passed on the March ballot. Apparently people like the “more is less” theory that I (thanks to you) have been preaching. But, we didn‟t anticipate how quickly these people would become full-fledged citizens, and they wanted their health and worker compensation coverage to continue. The program has been so successful, we really had no choice. Businesses and employees alike clamored to be included. How could we say no? Remember this doctor I mentioned, the one with the common sense approach to medicine and government, Dean Odell? We offered him a chance to “ practice what he had been preaching”. He was very reluctant to join in, but when we promised that he would not need to give up his radio show, and could use it as a means to try some new approaches, he agreed. We had a virtual revolution in the way health care is administered and how much it cost. In the first year alone workman‟s compensation costs were cut in half. The “Odell inspired” streamlined health care program was so good and so affordable, nearly half of all the health insurance in California is now under this system, and the premium savings are nothing short of phenomenal. Not everybody is happy about all of this, not the insurance companies, nor the drug companies, or a number of other ancillary corporations that had a free ride to big profits for years. Dean‟s method of “generic substitution” had the major drug companies across the country up in arms. They could see this “California thing” was not going to go away, and feared the rest of the country would follow suit. We placated some of them by picking up a portion of their drug research costs to make sure this did not have a negative effect on their efforts to develop new drugs. Another unforeseen development needs a little more background. When we talked about the fact that companies or individuals might be willing to “give back” to solve our country‟s fiscal problems. We‟ll, as I took over, our state had a big problem. No one in Sacramento could see any way around the immediate situation, except to raise taxes or borrow money, which would further burden the system in the future. I know how you feel about borrowing, John, but here‟s what we did. I had done my transition period homework, and as I took office, I established a very unusual cabinet position, that of inventions and new ideas. We discovered that nearly one-third of the wealthiest people in American live in California. It was almost too brazen to ask that they simply give back to get us “out of the woods”. And it was obvious that we were on the way to solving the problem, at least in the near future. Besides we couldn‟t really offer tax breaks that would be significant, since the federal government took the lion‟s share of their tax money. So Julius 66 suggested that we simply borrow the money from some of these citizens on a voluntary basis…at no interest! This was subject to the legislature passing a bill that prohibited spending in excess of revenues with a realistic budget projection deadline that would also prevent them from leaving town without a budget as they had done many times before. They stumbled all over themselves to pass that one, in one day! After all, they had created the problem and here was a way to potentially get off the “hot” seat. We realized we might have a problem with the IRS and a thing called “imputed interest”, but that was quickly solved by another trip to Washington. Pete took the on the money raising as his personal crusade. We held our breath as we proposed this to the public… The first show was hooked up to other radio stations across the state. Pete did his thing and we sat there waiting for the phones to ring. Silence. I tried to break the ice and pledged $10,000. Then, it began to happen. The first caller actually thanked us for the opportunity to give back, and pledged $10,000,000! The next caller said he had seen his father horde his wealth, and died, never getting a chance to see what his heirs had done with their opportunity. And, that would not be him. The phones lit up like a Christmas tree, and Christmas it was. It was like a high school fundraiser except everyone was bidding on the same thing… and feeling really good about it. Before the week was out, we had enough pledges to wipe out the shortfall entirely. I‟m sure you would like to know what happened regarding our resources and my passion for the outdoors. I spent some of the transition time with the sportsmen who had put me over the top in the recall vote, and reaffirmed my pledge to appoint those who understood the problems and could strike a fair balance between their love of the outdoors and the realities. They suggested a California outdoor writer, Tom Heimstra as a good choice for Director of Fish and Game. He was also hesitant at first, but finally agreed to serve. Unlike Pete, his strength was his gift with written words, and he had the respect and ear of the people who loved the outdoors, from hunters and fishermen, to hikers, bikers, and climbers all the way to the Sierra Club. A grass roots organization called the Recreational Fisherman‟s Alliance and a local group, the Coastside Fishing Club, were invaluable in getting to the right people and starting the ball rolling. 67 The RFA had already made some inroads to various commissions in California and nationally. They were accustomed to unanswered letters, lobby infested commission meetings even though they represented 90% of the money in the department‟s budget and added countless millions to the economy, for the chance to catch a few fish and a meal or two for their family. They were so relieved to have an open door to the Governor‟s office. Outlandish rules and undecipherable regulations were quickly changed to a readable straightforward format. The other Gubernatorial appointments, such as Department of Resources, EPA and Water Quality Board soon followed suit with similar success. Energy did not have an immediate resolution, but it is rolling now. Although I had gotten the early approval of the Mexican Government to build a series of Hydrogen/Nuclear power plants in the Baja, I had assumed that I would need a legislature-sponsored bill passed to make this a reality. It turns out I was wrong. I found that a good number of brilliant attorneys were also fed up with this adversarial privilege system and tired of the humiliation and public disgust for their profession. They literally beat a path to my door to offer advice and counsel, including a way that I, as Governor, could enter into such an agreement. We discussed it on a series of statewide radio and television debates and found we had the support of the California people. Apparently NIMBY did not extend as far as another country and 500- 1000 miles of distance. Besides, the idea that solar collectors could immediately be connected to the system and nuclear generation was limited to low light conditions convinced many of the doubters. Although none are on line as yet, the boost to both economies from the design and fabrication of components and the actual construction, has been phenomenal. In just over a year we have turned a huge deficit into a surplus. I had used your three letters as my inspiration when I was stymied, or needed to recharge my confidence. I had privately talked to a number of legislators from both major parties about our meetings, and even delivered the evidence. But, it was like talking to curing cement. Only when it was painfully obvious to them that I had the support of the people and their former constituents, did it sink in. They reminded me of the ship I had tried to reach except they were jumping into the water….with me. The dam broke when I was interviewed by one of the old-line writers for the San Francisco Chronicle, and a friend of Herb Caen. He had a gift of communicating that few have. He was such a good listener, I canceled my luncheon meeting and we spent the whole day walking around the capital grounds, and talking. I finally decided to tell him about your letters. I delivered a copy of all three, and he delivered the essence to his readers. He wanted to borrow one of the originals and, I reluctantly agreed. He called back three days later and was very excited. Apparently he too is a history buff, and a 68 collector of old documents. He said it was approximately 200 years old and, although he couldn't be sure, it appeared almost identical to the paper from a small print shop outside Philadelphia owned at that time by Ben Franklin. Several days passed. Then the Chronicle feature article appeared, the entire story of our meetings, beautifully written and poignantly described in a way I never could. And the letters. All three were there, just as you gave them to me. Within 48 hours your solutions were in every major newspaper in the country. The other mediums immediately picked it up too. I spent the next month being interviewed on every talk show of any importance. I didn't want it to happen that way. I had no intention of going beyond my role as interim Governor until the regular election. But, the ball was rolling and the public demanded that it keep rolling. I explained to you that I really picked the party name out of the air. I was just a citizen who cared about my state and our country. I wanted common ground for all of us, not a political standoff. The common party had been born and I was the spokesman, like it or not. My office was absolutely deluged. I couldn't possibly respond but, it didn't seem to matter. Influential men and women, including some of the most powerful and wealthy in California let me know they were with me. They didn't ask for, nor did I feel any pressure, for anything in return. The idea of the common good was reborn, thanks to you. This third party structure didn't really form, it just happened. Democrats and Republicans alike jumped ship to join us. I had worried about whether or not a third party could exist in our system and truly have a voice. The old "it will just divide the vote" theory was pretty wide spread and I believed it too. My views were more closely aligned with another party, the Libertarians, but it seemed as if they could never create enough momentum to be a factor. Californians became “Commoners” virtually en mass, thanks in part to Pete Wills. Whenever I ran into a roadblock in Sacramento, I could count on his radio talk show as a conduit to the pulse of the people, through Pete. The normal format was dropped completely and we had some great sessions and lively discussions. No one was cut off or left hanging. In a way, it was the first wave of the essence of the entire Commoner party standard - to not only be responsible for our own actions, but to also consider the thoughts and ideas of the opposing opinion, and our fellow Californians. We were so wrong about a third party. The only thing that had held it back in the past was the lack of the right reasons, and a strong enough cause. By the summer of 2005 we were (with help from literally every corner) on the ballot for the November elections. And that included scores of legislative and mayoral races as well. It was no contest, and I was 69 elected Governor again, by one of the widest margins in our history, shocking both the Democrats and Republicans. And, there are now considerably fewer of them in the legislature as well. I have no idea if this will reach you, but somehow I had to put this on paper. You deserve to know and I wish I knew you did. Thank you my friend. Miguel Bradford Galaz 70 later still… Although there wasn't time for most of the new Commoners to get on the ballot in the Congressional and Senate races, a few were successful at wading through the political roadblocks. But we prospered in spite of that problem. Disgruntled Republicans and Democrats alike were ready to help. By the 1998 elections the party itself was a major force and took control of both houses of Congress. There were virtually no promises to any groups, no debts to repay, and no special interests to serve. Only a promise to do our best to represent the interests of the "common good". But before that occurred, early in my Presidency (the summer of 1997), an amazing thing happened - and from one of the most unlikely places. The legal system saw the handwriting on the wall and Dan Jamison (who had become my Press Secretary, speech writer, and most trusted advisor) had an idea. The 1997 American Bar Association annual convention was held in Atlanta. With Sam Shearson's help Dan arranged for me to replace the keynote speaker. I was supposed to be on a four-day vacation at some exotic retreat. We dropped all the normal security precautions. The usually vigilant Washington press didn't suspect a thing. When I walked into that boisterous auditorium, it fell silent, and stayed that way. I was as prepared as I had ever been (in my short experience as President) but I was also frankly beyond nervous, I was plain scared. Dan had written a beautiful speech with a lot of thought from the legal profession's point of view. No blame was placed, no names were called but the message of change was clear. As we walked out of that auditorium I still had no clue, whether the silence meant they understood - or I had failed completely. Several days later, Sam burst into my office with the news! In the space of one week they had rewritten their Code of Ethics and abandoned much of their self-promoting system including the concept of "adversarial privilege". The new code centered on full disclosure, and the search for the truth took precedence over all. Possibly it happened because they didn't want to risk the overthrow of their entire structure, but I suspect that the majority were actually relieved to no longer face their self imposed duty to cover up the truth in the name of the client's best interest. Sam probably played no small part in this, although he never told me the details. Justice is back in the American legal system. I can't begin to tell you what a profound effect it has had. The ripples of this first step have spread to every facet of our economy, and our behavior. The lawyers, enjoying their role and newfound prestige, pressed on for total tort reform, including product liability, class action, and blanket lawsuits. A few old guard institutions 71 like the American Civil Liberties Union mounted objections, but were soon overpowered by the sheer weight of the justness of it all. As I write, the last of the term limits provisions have gone into effect. I must, along with many of my contemporaries, go out and get a real job and I am looking forward to it. You showed me how foolish it was to think I could serve the country by making a career of politics. You will be delighted to know that "the herd has been culled". The new crop of "efficiency experts" that arrived in Washington in 1998 really started something. We have rescinded about 1/3 of our laws at this point. Your suggestion of removing 2 for every one that was passed proved so successful and so satisfying entire campaigns are run based, not on what new rules and restrictions they can dream up, but on what they feel should be eliminated to streamline our system and unburden our productive capacity. One of my first official duties was to gather a group of quality people as special advisors. Not committee members mind you. I had already learned through my early exposure in Congress that a synonym for committee is gridlock. No, the buck definitely stopped at my office, but I did a lot of listening. One project was to isolate all the examples of dependency that had crept into the government process. This included the obvious, such as farm subsidies, food stamps, welfare, tax deductions, water subsidies and federal grants of every description. The not so obvious, included disabilities laws, federal grazing, and timber rights, oceanic harvesting by private companies, mining claims, etc.. Not all are inherently bad but a good portion is either outdated or improper, and most are a gift, rather than an earned benefit. Our agenda was designed to work both ways; the quest for productivity and the elimination of waste. I considered those who really wanted to work but couldn't, a top priority, including single parents, elderly, and the physically or mentally handicapped. This particular corps of advisors became a strange but familiar site around the Capital. I heard from the horses mouth, what was wrong and what was right with the current system. What an eye opener! My wheel chair platoon did a survey of the cost and effects of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991. We had actually hamstrung business with enormous costs of retrofitting bathroom facilities, parking etc. that were being used less than one-tenth of one per cent of the time. What the handicapped really wanted were incentives for companies to hire them! They'd bring a bedpan to work it they just had a job. Thanks to our implementation of their suggestions many of these wasted facilities are now being used and 5 million new workers are on the payroll in less than 4 years. Over half of them were on the government dole. A great big plus while removing a minus! I love it, and so does the bottom line. 72 It also raised a few eyebrows when I created a cabinet post for Efficiency, and a few more ascended when I appointed Julius Epstein. But, Congress went along. Julius had done it all, from bond trader, corporate raider, to bringing companies public. He knew every trick in the book, which is precisely why I chose him. He had become disenchanted with the game of something for nothing, and walked away at the tender age of 30, with millions. He had become fascinated by computer software and it's staggering potential, and started a new software company. That industry had been one of our few bright spots in the 80's and 90's, mostly because the technology was so new that Congress, and others, hadn't had the opportunity to legislate and regulated the life out of it! Unfortunately he too became a victim of the system when his company was the target of a hostile take over. He had moved so fast that his technology was not yet protected, and young Julius found out he didn't know every trick. All this made him a perfect advisor to help streamline the system, and yet he knew how to control the "something for nothing" types that inevitably collect around anything that makes money. Julius' knowledge of the investment banking, stock market and public offering business allowed us to develop a set of controls that Congress approved in 1999. Yes, I said controls. We quickly saw that this was not going to be an easy success story - simply finding restrictions and removing them. It proved to be more of a cause/effect policy. When something was producing worthwhile products and jobs, it was encouraged with incentives. When it merely rearranged wealth or hindered growth, in came the controls. Only two Constitutional amendments have been passed. The first said that no proposed law may be amended unless it directly related to the intent of the original proposal. You can imagine what that did to the law making process. One of our biggest former problems has all but disappeared. Companies and special interests groups use to spend billions, yes billions lobbying Congress, sometimes in ways that defy description! Now these same companies are so busy expanding and supplying goods and services to the emerging countries, they don't have the time or the need to think about it. A lot of it had to do with the sweeping Tax Reform Act of 1998 - just twelve years after the passage of the so-called tax reform act that crippled our entire commercial real estate market. (Most companies were forced to stop their expansion of facilities and many had to sell off the very buildings where the business functioned). We were very careful, and didn't duplicate the foolhardy depreciations and credits that caused the money mongers to form uneconomic tax shelter etc. that had precipitated the 1986 act. We encouraged research and development and reasonable expansion as best we could. 73 The capital gains tax was cut to 15%, and we actually lowered the depreciation allowances. It was pretty obvious that buildings didn't fall down after 28 or 32.5 years. Instead, we encouraged proper maintenance. Back came the real estate investment market and building values with a vengeance! And the flow of tax revenue. My God. Why didn't we see it before? Apparently little commercial real estate or investment property had produced any revenues since the tax debacle of 1986. Investors had merely followed our exchange rules and deferred taxes, hoping for better times ahead. And, this is certainly it. When the flood subsided, even at 15%, 800 billion had flowed into the treasury in little more than 4 years. When the second new Constitutional Amendment passed the ball was already rolling. It repealed the 16th Amendment, which had established the income tax. How foolish it looks to us now - the idea of taxing the vary segment of the economy which produces the growth. We wonder why we didn't remove it years ago! It has been replaced by a use and abuse tax based on actual purchase and consumption of goods (including raw materials that made up the final products for sale) and the use of polluting resources. It has been an unforeseen boon to our environment. It‟s a win-win deal. Industries that produce toxins and pollutants or use non-renewable resources pay the majority of these taxes and the problem of production of environmentally harmful products or procedures - has pretty well taken care of itself. For instance, the generation of electricity by burning coal or nuclear substances has virtually been eliminated in favor of wind, water and solar and hydrogen power. One unexpected benefit of all this was in our exports and balance of trade. As we worked to keep the cost of goods to our own consumers down, it profoundly affected the goods that were sent to other countries. With no corporate income tax and no consumption tax (it didn't apply to exports) we had a built in advantage. Within 5 years the United States experienced our first a trade surplus in over 20 years. We were concerned about the poor paying a disproportionate share of this new tax compared to the rich, but the immediate generation of new jobs and products quickly overwhelmed this obstacle. The homeless and poverty problem has not gone away entirely, but less that 1/3 remain from nine years ago. And, the attitude and pride of these newly successful citizens is something to see. So the Constitution remains relatively intact. Only the interpretation of your document has changed and I dare say that it is once again close to what you intended. Your concept of transferring a portion of the National Debt has been truly amazing. The Congress of 2000 proposed that, on a voluntary basis, anyone who wished to assume their share of the National Debt (based on net worth) could do so and receive credits on 74 unearned income (which is still moderately taxed). The wealthy of the country stepped forward. Some I suppose, were interested in these credits, but most simply saw the opportunity for the country and their companies to grow again. Almost one-third of our national debt has vanished within the first two years. And another third has disappeared since, largely due to a combination of the tremendous upsurge in productivity, and the reduction in government spending. The IRS and other former bureaucracies are but skeletons. Companies no longer have to spend time and money on their tax posture. Couple that with our shifting balance of trade, and you have the completion of a miracle. The budget balanced itself virtually overnight, to the astonishment of everyone! It was an uncustomary but impressive sight - politicians from all three major parties shaking hands and congratulating each other over this astounding accomplishment. In just these few years we've be able to reduce the national debt by over 50%. Believe it or not, a total of 2.3 trillion sounds awfully good to the average citizen and is an immense source of pride to me personally. As Congress began to work in harmony again, they saw the fallacy of entitlement programs - without incentives to change. There was now enough money to continue the welfare system but, it has been replaced by programs of education, job training, day care and (most importantly) the teaching of values to the very young at these centers. The logic of productive vs. non-productive selfish interest has worked wonders. The day care values program is voluntary and was planned to accommodate single parents. But it‟s been so successful that over half of the participants are the children of families where both parents work outside the home. They start as early as two. Instead of a place to park the kids, day care is now a federally funded, but privately run pre-school where these eager little people learn values, morals, and cooperation. Since we have removed most of the layers of restrictions on teachers, it is again a profession of pride and respect, with a pay scale to match. These children are now working on their parents, and it's only the tip of the iceberg. Within fifteen years we will have program graduates doing the teaching. Studies indicate that the full effect (during the second cycle) should be gratifying indeed. Your Constitution had become a mystery document. We did yet another survey, and found that few Americans had ever read it completely and that was usually a brief exposure in grade or high school. As adults, they had the mistaken opinion that it was in volumes and written in legalese like most of our laws and regulations, rather than the short simply written document you gave us. Only one in twenty had a copy in their home, hardly the proper status for the document, which contains the principles on which this nation and most of the world is now based. 75 In 1999 we began requiring the study of the Constitution as a pre-requisite to high school graduation. In most schools it is a separate course and covers one full year. It's too soon to see the full effect, but it may represent the greatest single impact we have been able to have on our young people. I constantly get letters from parents who are amazed and delighted to tell me about dinner table conversation where they learn from their kids. The self-esteem that has been created is truly wonderful! I wish I could tell you that there are no more dependent people in our country. A sizable segment still exists but the hopeless attitude of most has been replaced with one of pride as many emerged from poverty and handouts. The numbers who were physically or mentally unable was much smaller than we imagined. The hard-core group that refuses to try is suffering, and that is indeed sad, but we all understand that it must be. After all, as you said, the freedom to succeed or fail is part of our nations birthright. There are so many wonderful side affects of all this responsibility taking, that I can't begin to describe it all. By the year 2000 we were enjoying such a tremendous rebirth politically, economically and morally that the momentum couldn't be stopped if we wanted to. I didn't intend to run again, but there were so many ideas that hadn't been implemented that I didn't really resist. As I look back on it now I think that two terms should be allowed for Senators, Congressmen and the President, and mainly for the occasional situation where there is unfinished business that would be better served by uniform leadership. So we pressed on and attacked the remaining issues. Our terrible crime problem has slowed and is retreating. Even the habitual criminals that we thought were hopeless, have at least been forced to change their mode of operation. Citizens are, not only willing to report suspicious activity and support the police, they often step in when they see crime happening. We have also replaced the government's monolithic role in caring for people at retirement with a individual incentive to save program. Here's how it works: With the abolishment of the income tax, the major remaining assessment on businesses was the social security tax. Individual workers were offered the choice of funding their own retirement. The employer simply pays the employee the portion that formerly went to the government. A huge private industry quickly sprang up around the investment of these funds, and we were worried. 76 So far our fears are groundless. Private enterprise has taken over without a hitch. Stocks in American companies are at record levels and, since we are again the envy of the world, our dollars and products are at all time highs. Fueled by the use tax scaled toward environmental protection, I really like where we are headed. Everywhere we look this new public concern for our fellow man and our planet is surfacing. With the establishment of our National Patent and Productivity Program and its extra incentives for environmental protection ideas, the picture keeps getting brighter. We finally realized the finite nature of our resources. Reproducible assets, such as crops and forests, have reached a balance of supply and demand and we are again growing our reserves. The oceans, once thought to be an endless food source, had hung precipitously close to disaster in the mid 90's. We recognized that we could not allow the private harvest of that which really belongs to all of us. Commercial fishermen, who were literally fishing themselves out of a job anyway, joined the ranks of countless thousands of displaced government employees and accepted the re-educational benefits that were offered. It was just in time. The Continental shelves, lakes and streams are again teeming with life. Of course the oceans would not have been saved without the cooperation of the rest of the nations of the world. Private aquatic farming has taken up the slack, and the harvesting for food and fun, once practiced by you and others out of necessity, now provides fantastic recreational enjoyment and a multi-billion dollar industry. The end of government crop support programs caused us to again hold our breath. We even removed the water programs that had led our farmers and companies to grow crops like rice and cotton under totally unnatural conditions. But the resolve and ingenuity of the American farmer was underestimated. Within a few years the face of the agricultural industry has changed. Corporations (without their subsidies) went on to other pursuits and agriculture again became the domain of the independent small farmer. Thanks in part to the National Patent and Productivity Program, new crops, natural fertilizers and insect control concepts swept the nation. Our immense agricultural productivity has not skipped a beat - and the small farmer is prospering like never before. Many feared that the path of military reduction (begun in the mid-90's) would lead to increased vulnerability. With the new attitude of our citizens (as well as Congress and our legal system finally working in harmony) logic began to prevail. We authorized the increased use of our military for federal projects such as highways, border patrols, toxic spill etc. Just a few 77 years ago you'd expect a pile of legal problems and law suits, unions crying foul about taking jobs. But all were silent. What has happened - is better roads and infrastructure, improved security, cleaner environment, and a well trained military honed on actual productive work rather than fruitless training missions. The morale is fantastic! The only problem is finding enough qualified people to join, given the tremendous job market in the private sector and the favorable business climate. Plus there are so many incentives to "create your own job", and work for yourself. As part of our values program all young men and women experience 3 to 6 months of military service. It's really more responsibilities and attitude "boot camp" than actual military training, but it serves both purposes. Everyone has an assignment, and gains a little knowledge about what would be expected of them in time of national emergency, be it war, or environmental threat, or natural disaster. What a difference it has made! The previous 2 or 3 generations, were never asked to take responsibility for their actions. We've tried to get through to them, but so far that remains one of our failures. The health care crisis has all but evaporated. With the incentives to sue eliminated, doctors no longer operate under fear, or pay 1/3 of their income for malpractice insurance. The cost of quality care has plummeted while the ability to pay for these services has skyrocketed. People are streaming into the medical fields, especially care for the aging. And, its no longer concentrated in our major cities. A thing called the "information highway" has caused a great exodus - back to rural communities around the nation, where people had clung to their value systems. Watching these small towns coming back to would make you proud, John. In fact, the whole thing would warm your heart, Congressmen from all three major parties co-sponsoring legislative changes, citizens settling their differences over a cup of coffee, and even lawyers shaking hands with clients of the opposition after the judge has ruled against them. Incentives for production of worthwhile products and services are everywhere. The third world countries are sending representatives to see this new America in action and taking back the concepts and a graphic illustration of why the environment must be considered over all else. We are living proof of how quickly a true democracy can correct what seemed to be insurmountable problems - just nine short years ago. You can sleep peacefully now, knowing your country is back in good hands. Princeton has asked me to join their faculty as a professor of American History after this term expires. I can't wait. I may not have the years of experience of some of my colleagues, but will I have stories to tell! 78 In my spare time I plan to write a book. I think you know the subject. I'll do my best to describe our meetings, all of your advice, counsel and common sense - and add our intentions at this moment of rebirth of our nation's pride, values, and prosperity. It will include a copy of your Constitution, which has again become ours. If all goes well future generations, as they inevitably stray from the path and begin to erode the process, will have a reminder… and a guide. Thank you my friend, Miguel Bradford Kaufman 79 July 14, 1997 Dear John, Remember my passion for baseball? I thought it would be interesting to you to know what has happened. My frustration (over the disputes of the owners and players) rivaled your frustration with the selfish attitude that had permeated our country. In a way, the two are mirror images. After the players walked out in the middle of the 1994 season, both sides kept their heels dug in beyond the 1995 scheduled beginning and they finally started the season without an agreement. And that was only because of a judge‟s order. The fans were so disgusted they stayed away in droves. You'd think both would have gotten the message. But, the 1996 season rolled around and there was still no contract. Both sides were afraid to stop the game again, so they went on bickering at the negotiating table, getting nowhere. By the time I was elected as President it was getting ridiculous. Some local people from Lafayette, California (my home town) had been trying for 2 years to suggest a very reasonable solution, but were ignored. An old pitcher with Charlie Finley's A's and his friend John Lancaster, had contacted everyone they could think of who was involved with the game, trying to solve it from within. It sounded much like my early efforts with the legal fraternity and my fellow Congressmen. Being common sense people and supporters of the new party - they finally came to me. This is what they proposed: Owners had always hired and removed the Commissioner of Baseball at their sole description. Obviously what is needed is a strong and independent Commissioner who could make decisions in the "best interest of baseball". Both the owners and players should have a voice in this selection process but we've seen what equal power in the hands of both produced, stalemate. So John and his friend suggested that a third group have an equal say - the market areas that host the major league franchises. 80 These cities and their fans and tax payers commit hundreds of million to stadium projects - only to have the owners and players (in 1994) "pick up their marbles and go home", leaving empty parks, motels, restaurants etc. in their wake. It would be reminiscent of the checks and balances of our executive, judicial and legislative branches. They also suggested that the whole idea of player commitment to a franchise was good for everyone. Fans should not only have a team to root for, but heroes that the kids can identify with that team. When I was a youngster everyone knew that Willie Mays, Juan Marichal and Willie McCovey were Giants. And the players could become part of the community. The owners benefit because teams don't take the "win every year" approach and would draw well even when building for the future. Reasoning that since baseball had an exemption from anti-trust rules through something called the "reserve clause" they therefore were subject to government regulation, much like the postal workers, or air traffic controllers etc.. Congress had been threatening to remove their anti-trust exemption status, but Mr. Lancaster and this other fellow pointed out that could eliminate their hammer. All they really had to do was use their hammer. After trying to get the 94/95 Congress to listen they had become pretty cynical. So the Vice President and I. along with several key Congressmen, arranged a friendly meeting with both sides. I must admit it was a thrill to meet these sports heroes. I suppose they felt the same way, but the privilege was mine. We suggested the solution, and mentioned the alternative,-- government regulation. Needless to say, they liked our independent commissioner concept better and better. Thankfully many owners and players were present. Listening to their leaders (all attorneys), I've rarely heard a better example of self-interest and single-minded one sided-ness. As some of the players and owners spoke, I could see that this whole thing had been a case of fairness and honest concern for the game having been buried under the egos and attitudes of the lawyers. Later, when we explained to the players (without their leadership) that the reserve clause, although a form of restriction was more like a reasonable commitment to their team, and would finally give them true representation in the commissioners chair, they were all for it. John Lancaster would have been a wonderful candidate for the new job. He was a former traveling secretary for the Baltimore Orioles, and knew and stayed in touch with many former players and ownership and management as well. His career was spent in intelligence work for his country and fund raising for the many worthy causes that got his attention. But, a tragic accident not only prevented that, but didn't allow John to see his ideas implemented and his beloved game back in the good graces of the American people. Fortunately, they elected a good man and within weeks we saw that the new commissioner had the courage of his convictions. The only salary cap that exists now is the one the new Commissioner has placed on agent's percentages. I won't bore you with 81 the list of changes but, they were few, logical, and applauded by the fans. Salaries have come down some but, players aren't complaining. Instead of becoming rich nomads, they now can feel comfortable in buying a home and making more than passing friendships with their teammates and the people of the area. The pressure to produce every year has been replaced by patience and the ability to rebuild slowly when needed. Baseball has never been more popular. It has proven to be a classic example of what a little respect for the best interests can do and, and an excellent model for the rest of our citizens as we go through the re-invention of the American way. Sorry John, I get a little carried away when it comes to baseball. Sincerely, Miguel Kaufman P.S. I did a little research on "rounders". Maybe we weren't so unique after all. 82 The Constitution Of The United States of America A reprint of the actual Constitution and Amendments will be here, at the end of the book. I estimate the total words at approximately 9,000.
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