The next year was more of the same old thing: stealing cases, fibbing about my experience to get to do things, and otherwise being a good boy; so, the possessors of cases would share. My responsibilities and ability to be somewhat independent increased, and so did my chance to fail and to learn from failure. I had two failures of note. I was the resident on the cancer ward when an older man with a tonsillar cancer came onto the ward with pneumonia. He was in agony from his cancer and looked grey as if he had one foot on a banana peel and the other in the grave. I got labs and a chest x-ray which showed an obvious and very significant pneumonia of his entire right lung. Great. I made the diagnosis and started IV penicillin. I was so smart. The next morning the attending oncologist took one look at his patient, all awake, breathing well, and in his usual terrible pain.

He took me aside, and with a look that could kill, said, “Are you really that stupid, Doug?”

I was sure I was missing something; so, I waited for the other shoe to fall. He wasn’t interested in any reply I might make anyhow.

“Don’t you know that pneumonia is the old man’s friend? His family is furious and rightly so. They brought him in to die—to finally be rid of his terrible pain. What’s the matter with you?”

I gave a moment’s thought to saying, “what we have here is a failure to communicate,” but thought better of it. I just took my licking and chocked it up to lessons learned. I had many occasions to remember that lesson in dealing with the lethal illnesses and injuries of my neurosurgical patients over the coming years.

The second mistake was more costly. I had come to the University of Minnesota to impress Dr. French, the head of neurosurgery that I should be one of the two residents he selected for the next year. I did my level best during my rotation on neurosurgery and thought things were looking good. Things got better when one of the two first year residents on the service quit and became a radiation oncological resident. Dr. French asked me to take the resident’s place, and I jumped at the chance even though it meant that I would seldom see my wife and family, which now included three children. I was on call two out of every three days, and we worked like galley slaves. I learned at an accelerated rate from residents and attendings who were justifiably world famous. As a further indicator that I was in Dr. French’s favor, he asked that I take over sole care of his private patient in what we affectionately called the “pus ward”. Dr. French never publicly admitted to having an infection, and I was subtly sworn to silence.

The infection was a large gaping canyon down the man’s back were the disc spaces had become infected during a large lumbar laminectomy and spread to his muscles and fascia. The poor soul had been lying face down on a narrow bed being treated for the infection for nearly a year. I trotted in full of wound care expertise from my general surgery experience and full of wim, wigor, and witality at the prospects that this assignment would likely ensure my future.

Dr. French happened by to watch me work. I removed the wet and pus-filled cotton pads in the depths of the wound, washed it out carefully with sterile normal saline, and rebandaged it. He asked if that way of doing things was something I learned on the neurosurgery service, and I told him, no, it was standard practice on the other surgery services. You would have thought that I advocated spitting in the wound.

“That is not my way, Doug. And my way is the only way on the neurosurgery service in this hospital and at this university. I will take some of my very valuable time to teach you how infected wounds are treated.”

He was not smiling. He removed my carefully placed bandages and ordered the nurse to bring him a bottle of betadine soaked strip gauze. He proceeded to layer the entire bottle of gauze into the wound until it was filled to the surface of the skin.

“That is how you put it in, Doug. Capiche?”

I capiched.

“Now for the hard part,” he said with intended insult. “Beginning tomorrow, you are to cut off one inch of the gauze until it is all removed. At that time, the wound will be free of infection, and this man will be able to go home. Never let me hear that you did what ‘they do on general surgery.’”

I nodded my complete acquiescence, thereby admitting my stupidity and foolhardiness. I guessed it was probably not the best time to ask if I was going to be chosen to be next year’s resident. He wasn’t finished.

“Doug, I hope you have learned your lesson here; it is not just about wound treatment—it is about obedience. It is evident that you are too independent to be on my service, and I will not be taking you on as my resident next year.”

He did an about face and left the room.

Well, I certainly learned my lesson that day. Now, I did not have a job for next year, and a sense of low-grade panic set in. I finished my work in the pus put and marched down to the surgery office. It happened that a former Minnesota resident was visiting his alma mater from his place as head of surgery at the University of Kentucky. He overheard my request for help to get some type of general surgery residency somewhere. As if I was not there, he asked the chief of Minnesota what kind of a surgeon I was.        To my surprise, Dr. Najarian answered, “Dr. Nielson is the best surgeon we have, but also the most independent and least likely to follow the rules. He steals cases from the senior residents and can cut and sew with the best of them. I would not take him here because this is a “do-it-my-way-or-the-highway sort of place.”

“Sounds like my kind of guy,” the Kentuckian said and offered me his hand. “I have a slot for a proctology resident, and I will offer you an attending spot when you finish your general years.”

The year’s end was three weeks away, and I could not let it pass without having a job.

“Thanks, I’m your guy,” I said, wistfully knowing that my dream of being a neurosurgeon had just blown away on the winds of change.

There was another change in the wind. The next day, we all heard from the Department of Defense about our assignments in the draft. We had had three choices for our preferences and would be chosen for the best choice available when the conscription department reached into the hat. We could enter the military immediately or be allowed to complete one year and then be commissioned, or we could luck out and be allowed to finish the entirety of a residency and then be commissioned as specialists. There were six of us who had been competing for the Minnesota residency position. Of those, five got their choice to complete their residency programs. The sixth—me—was allowed to get one year of general surgery residency and then to be drafted—commissioned.

The day after that the mercurial Dr. French caught up with me on the ward and glared at me with pure venom.

“What is this I hear that you have abandoned neurosurgery and are going to become an [here he said a naughty word related to the location of the procto] surgeon. That is not acceptable. You are a neurosurgeon. Get over this nonsense.”

It did seem appropriate to point out that, “You have to have a neurosurgery residency before you can become one. And I don’t have that option. You may recall that you would never take me.”

“Oh, posh, [or something. Maybe I and tightening up a bit on the translation here] I will get you a place today. I have just the place, in fact. It is in Dallas where they like wild, wooly, and go-it-alone cowboys. The chief’s name there is Dr. Kemp Clark. He runs the most interesting program in the country. You will get to work your [once again, either a naughty word, or an oblique reference to a Biblical beast of burden] off. What do you say?”

My world had just turned right side up; so, I said “Yes.”

I caught a plane to Dallas that night, had an interview with Dr. Clark, and secured a residency position. I told Dr. Clark that it would be three years before I could get Dallas: one for the residency, and two for my opportunity to be a general surgeon during the unpleasantness in Viet Nam.”

“Is your word good, Doug?”

“It is.”

“So is mine. From this day forward you are a neurosurgeon. Keep in touch, and I’ll see you in three years.”

                 I made calls to Kentucky to resign my potential proctology residency place, and back to Minnesota to tell Vera the newest news. She had some news for me as well. There was a letter from the Department of the Navy. I was to be commissioned a lieutenant in the navy with my assignment as a general surgeon in the west coast’s Seabee base in Port Hueneme, California—wherever that was.

                Hey, my only question for you at the end of this blog is, “Would you like to read about all of this zany stuff?” You can do so in my six-book series of The Saga of a Neurosurgeon. I did my best to make the series at least semi-auto-fiction and true to the times, the places, and the things that happened.

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During training at the University of Minnesota hospitals, I was on call every-other-day most of the internship year. I was a very determined aspiring young surgeon and not for a moment shy about stealing cases. I became friendly with one of the less renowned and less popular staff surgeons. One day, it happened that no one senior to me (as was almost everyone else in the universe), he asked me to assist him in a bilateral radical mastectomy for breast cancer. That radical operation resulted in total removal of the breasts, the lymphatics, and the chest muscles. Both sets of axillary lymph nodes were also removed in the classical procedure. We scrubbed in, and I entered the OR first, prepared the patient’s skin, and put on the drapes. The surgeon entered the room late and looked like death warmed over.

                “Sick,” he said, “very, very, sick. Flu.”

                I said, “You look sick. You better lie down before you fall down.”

                He did just that because he could no longer stand.

                “What should we do, Doug?” he asked.

                I liked that he never referred to me as “thing”.

                “Operate,” I answered hoping not to sound brash.

                He looked at me thoughtfully for a moment then asked, “Have you ever done one of these?”

                “Yes,” I said.

                Technically, that was not entirely a lie. I had scrubbed in several times; and, in my defense, I have to say that I had studied the procedure for the previous three days so that I could quote the textbook and several scientific articles almost verbatim.

                “Can you do it?”

                “I can.”

                The OR, like the court room for litigators is not a place for shy and retiring folks, nor for the faint-of-heart.

                He asked one of the nurses to assist me, then said, “All right, let’s get on with it.”

                Just to make sure he didn’t have time to change his mind, I took the scalpel and made a football shaped transverse incision across the chest.

                By now, the real doctor had forced his way onto a chair.

                He said, “Hey, we always do a vertical incision. I’ve never seen a transverse one.”

                “I prefer it,” I said, quietly quoting several technical articles in my mind.

                “Okay, you’re the surgeon here. I’ll sit back and learn something.”

                As big and difficult as the procedure is for the patient, the operation is not particularly difficult technically nor does it require hard to learn techniques. It is hard work and tedious, but I moved through it all right, and the patient did well. I got a real compliment from the attending surgeon who said he was going to use a transverse incision himself from there on out.

                The good stuff ended there. As soon as I had helped lift the patient onto the gurney to send her to the PAR, the chief resident on general surgery broke into the room, obviously furious.

                He yelled at me, “Thing,” he said, “who do you think you are, and what did you just do?”

                The attending answered for me, “He is an intern who just demonstrated that we run a good program here. I was and am sick and couldn’t do it myself; so, I determined that he is well qualified. No one else was available. He did just fine.”

                “He’ll never do another case as long as I’m chief,” the grandiloquent chief resident said and stormed back out of the room.

                I laid low for a while before stealing a hernia and a gall bladder, both on the same day. It is a dog-eat-dog world trying to get to be the surgeon, and I was determined to be one of the big dogs as soon as possible.

                Speaking of not being a place for the faint hearted, I did a stint on the urology service. During that time, the university was doing a major study of transsexual gender change surgery. Many—even most—of the surgery staff and residents had moral compunctions against the concept of sex change in general and of performing the operations in particular. Not me. When no one else was ready to do a procedure on the service, I volunteered. It was a traditional “see-one-do-one-teach-one” set of circumstances. I got pretty near to the “teach one” level with castrations, plastic repairs, implantation of breast prosthetics, creation of quasi penises for those changing from female to male. On ENT, I did nose jobs on the same people; on general surgery I did a vascularized large bowel transfer to create a pseudo-vagina; on gynecology, I did bilateral oophorectomies and salpingectomies (ovary and tube removals); and on vascular surgery, I did big unsightly varicose vein resections. My lack of prejudice netted me something of a rich and varied surgical experience, one that would serve me in good stead when I got to the navy.

                Just one more story to convince my readers that I also learned to be humble and self-effacing. I was on cardiovascular surgery assigned to the cardiac intensive care unit. We had some very sick cookies on the unit, and we did more than a dozen CPRs a day, some of them successful. I worked on a patient whose wound dehisced and got blood all over my scrubs. There was a short lull in the generally frenetic level of activity; so, I rushed down to the showers, threw my scrubs into the basket and had a life-restoring hot shower. I was clean for the first time in days and felt great. That lasted a minute. I looked around for fresh scrubs; there were none. The dirty scrubs had been sent to the laundry, but no clean ones had been brought up yet. It was a devil of a conundrum. I shrugged and tied the biggest towel I could find around my waist and sheepishly went back to the ICU. The minute I entered the room, another patient decided to crash; and it was up to me to do the CPR and to order the meds. That one survived; and immediately, I had to run to a second patient. By then there were four CPRs going at once. It was like a Chinese fire drill.

                All CPRs finished within a minute of each other. Everyone heaved a small sigh and leaned back for a moment’s rest. I closed my eyes during my moment but awakened to hear a roaring of laughter all around me. I looked around to see what or who was so funny. One of the young nurses, tittered, put her hand over her mouth, and pointed at me. I looked down. Some where in the chaos, my face—etc.—saving towel had gotten lost in the piles of linens. I could not think of any kind of a speedy retort or anything dignified; so, I just took a little bow and made my exit.

The question: what would you do to break even or to get ahead in a very competitive world? What is kosher in the knock-down-drag-out world—something like what are the rules in a knife fight?

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                We moved to Minneapolis with all our belongings in the smallest U-Haul trailer available. There was a hurricane blasting through the city the day we arrived. We had to dodge falling trees, to find alternate routes of travel, and finally the incredible wind and driving torrents of rain beat us. We were afraid, which drove us very reserved and independent people to walk up to the door of a humble little house and knock on the door to ask for help for the night. People are good. We happened to knock on exactly the right door. It was home to a pleasant young couple who happened to be co-religionists of ours, and they invited us in without demurrer. They put us up for the night, told us how to find temporary quarters in the university dorms, and got us in touch with the local bishop. He found us a house to rent, and maybe (who knows) caused the storm to move on to torment the unfortunates in Coon Rapids.

                The house was in a run-down area on the west bank of the Mississippi River. It was spring, and the weather changed over to delightful and welcoming.  We settled in after making a trip to a garage sale to rebuy the things that neighbors stole from us as we were moving in. I said the area was run-down; that is a euphemism. That year, Minneapolis had its worst winter in a hundred years—more snow, lower temperatures, fiercer winds, longer cold spells, lower highs and lower lows. The university and the hospital were directly across the river which was reachable by a mile walk down river to a low rail bridge. Most days when I left home, I had to crawl across the bridge to avoid being blown off into the river. I wore mukluks and an Alaskan parka every day for eight weeks. Our children sat on the old tall radiators in the front room for warmth and stamped on cockroaches for exercise and fun.

                I learned a great deal, saw a great deal, and became aware that not all doctors adhere to the Hippocratic Oath with enthusiasm. One cardiac surgeon left a patient on the table for an aortic valve operation for hours while he gave a speech in Chicago. The surgery should never have been scheduled according to several of his colleagues on the faculty who preferred not to be named. She died from being on the bypass machine for too long. A study was done over several years using a machine to freeze the lining of the stomach of patients with severe gastric bleeding that could not be controlled by nonsurgical means. The results of nonexperimental surgery were excellent in Minnesota and all over the country. The results of the experimental procedures as reported were lies. How do I know that? Because my assignment—and I was set-up—was to report on the ten-year results of the program at monthly Grand Rounds for Surgery held in the medical school auditorium. State and city surgeons and internists, having heard that the subject was to be presented, attended, filling the auditorium beyond fire safety capacity.

                When I say I was set up, I mean my efforts to find raw data were futile and obstructed at every step. The named surgeons on the many reports seemed to have developed amnesia, misplaced the data, or were too busy to accommodate a “thing” as interns were called; secretaries gave me the run-around, etc., etc. I appealed to the surgeon who gave me the assignment, and he simply smiled enigmatically and told me that I would be all right, just report your findings.

                I felt like a fool, but I stood before that packed audience of men and women whose average IQs were genius level and whose years of experience dwarfed mine.

                I said simply and humbly, “I could get no data whatsoever. It is either lost to follow-up, or was withheld.”

                And I sat down. I needn’t have worried about myself. A firestorm of invective began to hurl across and around the auditorium. There were scientists who provided evidence that the procedure was not only no good, but bogus. The authors’ responses were essentially, “how dare you?” The community of surgeons unanimously demanded that the data be produced forthwith, or they would send a letter of censure to the state. One surgeon even offered condolences for the poor sucker who had been inveigled into being the presenter.

                Like all the other interns and residents, I wrote papers and had a professor take credit with my name appearing at the end of a long list. I learned how to write an academic paper, how to evaluate data and evidence, and the difference between the truth and otherwise. I had already learned that from my father, who, despite other shortcomings, was always exactly and assiduously honest.

                Maybe this kind of thing shocks you. Maybe you think such things are better left unsaid. My question this time, is what do you think? And will this turn you towards or away from me as a fiction writer because I am not meek about exposes, although I do change the names and places to protect the guilty.

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My good wife taught grade school to support us during the lean years of medical school. She was paid $4,700 a year. Sometimes we shared a carrot for dinner. Time permitting, I did odd jobs, some of them quite odd. After completing the pathology courses, I got a job as a diener in the county morgue and got my first glimpse into the inevitability of death, the causes of death, the investigation of death, and the inhumanity of men against men (and women). I also continued my work in the slaughter house and had a job washing biochemistry glassware for a research department, a very exacting and also thankless job.

                How I developed an interest in neurosurgery is of some interest. I had never given a thought to going into neurosurgery, nor did any of my classmates. That was largely due to the fact that there was no neurosurgeon on the university faculty. The previous professor, Dr. Dr. Petter Lindstrom, was a Swedish-born neurosurgeon highly respected for his work in so-called bloodless brain surgery. He had the misfortune of being better known to the rest of the world and to history as the husband famous and sexy actress, Ingrid Bergman, who deserted him for Roberto Rossellini, director of her movie Stromboli. The much talked about marriage ended in highly publicized scandal and a bitterly contested divorce in 1950. Divorce was unacceptable for most faculty members on most campuses in that era, and definitely in Utah. He left under a cloud.

                My classmate and friend and I—who were interested in surgical careers—went to the faculty office of a general surgeon who had advertised for an assistant for the summer to do stomach operations on cows. It was exactly what we were looking for; so, we two friends waltzed into the office and announced our purpose. We waited for five minutes, then the surgeon came out and asked, which one of us came first, because he had only one position to offer. My friend leaped up and announced that it was him. He got the job, and I got the disappointment. Not only did I want the experience, but I needed the money. The surgeon was an empathetic and decent person. He told me that the medical school had just hired a new surgeon…he fumbled with a piece of paper…oh, yes, a neurosurgeon, and that the new man was looking for an assistant. I should move right along in order to secure the position before a formal announcement was made. I did, and I got the job.

                Dr. Roberts was an interesting and fetching young man fairly fresh out of his training program. He wanted my help doing craniotomies on goats, Macacca malata monkeys, and other animals to investigate a hitherto little-known structure located in the center of the brain, just above the pineal gland, called the “suprapineal arachnoid body” for lack of better understanding of its purpose.

                Without cracking a smile, Dr. Roberts assigned the equally green lab assistant and I to do a craniotomy on one of our goats and to remove its specimen. I had never even seen a craniotomy, let alone done one, let alone on a goat. I did not volunteer that information. Remember, I needed the job. To be brief, the procedure was what is referred to in the military as a “Charlie Foxtrot”. I had the right idea about putting the experimental animal to sleep, but no one told me about establishing an airway with a tracheostomy—another procedure I had neither seen or done. The cranium was incredibly thick and hard. I finally had to resort to using a hammer and chisel to get through. Because of having no oxygen, the goat’s brain had swollen dramatically. When I got through the cranium, I also penetrated the dural covering of the brain. The cerebrum extruded with volcanic speed and in toto. The goat died on the spot. I had the presence of mind to do a postmortem dissection of the brain and to extract the specimen we had come for, at least.

Dr. Roberts did not fire me. Instead, he laughed harder than is really healthy for a person. He had me assist him in surgery, and I saw what true neurosurgery was about. I was impressed, and I was hooked. My next assignment led me into the grimness of what I would face as my training progressed. Dr. Roberts wanted to get as many specimens of the suprapineal arachnoid bodies as possible from newborn babies who had died in Salt Lake County over the next year. Arrangements were made with all pathologists in all hospitals for me to come whenever a newborn died. Autopsies were mandatory and usually perfunctory; so, my presence to dissect the mid portion of the brain aroused no questions. My first experience was quite like my efforts with the goat. Baby brains are extremely soft, fragile, and friable. I was successful in removing the attachments of the brain, but as I tried to lift it out, it crumbled into an unrecognizable thick fluid. I studied up on how to do the procedure after that and learned that I needed to use cheese cloth to grasp the fragile brain and to prevent injury through manipulation.

                That was fine, but it did require an assistant for success. I did not have one; so, I dragooned my long-suffering and dedicated wife to help since she was not busy teaching school and taking care of our two children and two others she tended regularly to earn a bit. The first twenty-five babies went well, and I was gaining a reputation as the grim reaper of babies. Now, mind, my wife is the quintessential lover of babies. At number twenty-six, she put her foot down and refused ever to do anything like that again. That was the first time anyone told me that I had ice in my veins instead of blood. Somehow, I found a way to harvest enough to reach Dr. Roberts’ goal of a hundred. I also developed my lifelong mottos, “Aut enveniam viam aut faciam.”

                With his help, I was thoroughly dedicated: I was going to be a neurosurgeon or die trying. He helped me get a surgical internship/residency at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and sent a letter of recommendation to Dr. Lyle French, head of the Department of Neurosurgery to get me on my way.

                You may have opinions, questions, and even criticisms. My question is how do you feel and what do you think about vivisection and me as an author who writes about such things.?

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Fewer than half of the students in my medical school class were there when we graduated. It was a place where if you can get up, it is not a foul, and the players eat their own dead—something like an average game of rugby in South Africa. The members of my class were nice men (and four women). It was before the days of women’s lib or decent treatment of minorities. We had a major professor who held the career lives of the students in his hands. He capriciously had students kicked out or held back for such things as having dirty fingernails or for poor attendance on his grand rounds (a subjective determination). Finally, the class ahead of mine had a hit they could not tolerate—even as defenseless as medical students were in those benighted days. The great professor kicked out three students three weeks before graduation, despite all testing having been completed; and all three passed. The medical student class unanimously announced that they would boycott the graduation, an unthinkable scandal for the university and the public of Utah. The professor fought back. He said it didn’t matter; none of the students would get their medical degrees that year. Too bad for them. The nurses—love the nurses—then announced that none of them would attend their graduation or accept their diplomas.

                The University of Utah Faculty Association stepped in and carried out a quick but thorough investigation of charges of cruelty and capriciousness on the part of the famous professor for the past twenty years. It was determined that the students were right. The professor was removed from the admissions committee and the graduation committee, thereby emasculating his power. It was also discovered that the man was Jewish and had brought in a large number of very well known and very significant Jewish professors. That was not an issue; in fact, it was a plus. However, in the course of his tenure on the admissions committee, he actively discriminated against Mormon applicants—members of the most populous church in the state, and a significant percentile of the general population. He also used his power to prevent hiring of Mormon professors and to prevent already present Mormon faculty from gaining tenure and promotions. He was then removed from his place on the all-powerful faculty association committee. Graduation took place with all medical students and all nurses attending in the usual colorful and grand ceremony. The professor was conspicuous by his absence, and future classes had a far less attrition rate.

                I graduated the following year; but, in another blog, I need to tell you how it came to be that I was interested in neurosurgery from my freshman year forward.

                I have a question: how much power should a university, a faculty, or a given professor have over the success or failure of any or all students. How much power should a university or a professional school or the state and federal government, for that matter, have over the gender, race, or creed ratios in the student body? I do have strong societal, philosophical, and socio/political opinions about such things and more; and I do not flinch from discussing them in my novels. Any comments?

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                I worked in a service station, as a board-foot estimator for Great Lakes Timber Company, as a life guard, and later as a truck driver for the Union Pacific Railway Trucking line. I saved every penny I could for college. By that time, my mother’s investments paid off, and I no longer needed to support her and my brother. Lacking a father’s advice, I had to figure out where to go to college. I had the grades, but I had no real idea about the costs. Another of my Dad’s old friends said I should apply to Stanford. That sounded great. For one thing, I would be able to get away from my small town and to learn something about the world. So, I applied to Stanford. No one told me that people apply to more than one university. I think they were intrigued by my small townness, and I was accepted.

                I loved Stanford. I loved learning. It was everything I ever wanted. The place was about thinking, absorbing great thinking, and making sense out of the wide world about which I was just beginning to learn. I was on one of the first wrestling teams at the university. My fighting days paid off, apparently. I won the Pacific Coast championship in my weight class. My teammates—all seven of them—used to taunt me because I was pre-med and studied in between matches. I was determined to be a DAR—look it up. It was early in the recent unpleasantness in Viet Nam. Of the eight of us wrestlers, all of us were eventually drafted. Only two of us survived. Even now, I find it difficult to read my friends’ names on the winding black wall of the Viet Nam Memorial in Washington. Then, I ran out of money. No one would give a kid like me a loan. I don’t think there were student loans then. I came back to Utah, matriculated in the University and achieved DAR status.

I took a sort of sabbatical and spent two years in Canada and Alaska seeing the country and working for my church. I got married as soon as I came home, and my wife and I moved into a $47 a month walk-up. In those days, we used to hear about people being concerned over whether their residences had wall-to-wall carpeting. Vera and I were worried about the fact that we did not have complete wall-to-wall walls. I worked again as dock worker for Union Pacific. The foreman told me I had to join the Teamsters or I couldn’t have the job. I needed the job, but I knew my rights. Utah was a “right-to-work” state, and I did not want to have anything to do with unions. The foreman patiently explained that if he did not make me join the union, both of us would be found dead in a ditch before the week was out. I joined the union. The featherbedders resented me when I was given the first job to drive a supply truck. They came at me with axe handles (remember, they were teamsters). The foreman had had enough of the lazy bums, and he brought me an axe handle. The two of us stood the six feather bedders off. The deal was that I had to fight the guy who had seniority over me and presumed that he should have the better job. He was dumb as a bag of hammers, and a lousy fighter. My school days paid off. I beat him to a convincing pulp. Thereafter, I was treated with grudging respect, and the foreman used to laugh a little every time I ran the gauntlet between the trucks and where the feather bedders were sleeping.

I got into medical school. My job then was to work in Doctorman’s Slaughter House collecting adrenal glands for the endocrine service at the U. Nobody told me what would be involved; so I appeared in the slaughter house office and explained who I was and why I was there. They were expecting me. The foreman was a huge, powerful, no-nonsense, man of few words.

He asked me, “Do you faint, College Boy.”

“No, Sir.”

“Are you quick on your feet?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“You’d better be.”

It became evident why both qualities were important. My job was to stand in the bottom of the hot, wet pit as the cattle passed into the chute. One worker’s job was to hit the beast in the middle of the forehead, kill it; and the next worker attached steel hooks in the animal’s hind legs behind the achilles tendons. Then, it was hoisted onto a moving rack; and two men eviscerated it as I watched intently for two reasons. The first was that the pit was up to my mid-calves in sticky, slippery blood. I had to avoid falling, because I would be likely to fall into rip saws which were constantly moving from animal to animal. I had to avoid fainting for the same reason and because I would probably drown—my wife would never forgive me for such an ignominious passing, one she would not be able to tell her gentle friends about.

The second reason for watching carefully was because now my part in the process came due. The foreman showed me how to find and how to excise the adrenal or suprarenal glands from a moving cow. The belt stopped for no man. I had twenty seconds to locate, to cut out, and to store the fresh adrenals in solvent; so, the researchers at the medical school could get active hormones, enzymes, and the like for their work. The work was relentless. I was working with the toughest guys I ever met. I took to them, and they took to me. That stood me in good stead as I practiced medicine, taking care of all kinds. I learned the language and the way of thinking of working men and was proud to be one. My Dad would have approved.

                There is an old song with a verse that reads, “I am a working man, tried and true, I wouldn’t ask you nothin’ I wouldn’t do. Let me tell you about yesterday. You worked right well I am proud to say. Today, we’re gonna work the same as last, ‘cept today, we’re gonna work a little fast.”

                At the end of that summer, I learned how to work, how to really work. I also learned that I could hold my head up with any man. That is a lesson well worth learning. I have met many men in my time, many who were bullies of one sort or another, and not a few who threatened me. The lessons of my young life got me through the vicissitudes.

                My question this time is, do you really think you should home school your children or send them to an effete private school and deprive them or the rough and tumble education where men-are-men, and women-are-women, and they can learn the hard way the valuable lessons necessary to become one or the other and be able to stand face-to-face with anyone? Such characters people my novels. Do you like that kind of protagonist—do or die types—or would you rather have more Hallmark Movies types. I write about the former, and my novels do not really feature the latter. Are you willing to give them a try?

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When I first started writing novels, I sought anonymity for my own reasons. I succeeded beyond my greatest expectations. Now, those reasons are passé, and I feel unburdened enough to talk to you about myself.

                My mother loved me to distraction. She did know that every day in grade school I had fights with the local bullies. She more or less saw me as Little Lord Fauntleroy, and my father saw me as his firstborn boy who was gonna be tough, or he would know the reason why. I used to cover up my bruises and abrasions and come home to Mom. She met me at the front door and waited patiently until I put my stuff down.

                Then, she would ask, “Tell me about your day.”

                I had to leave the fighting part out which left very little of interest frankly. So, I made stuff up. I became adept at creating young boy stories out of very little background or thought process, and she loved my embellishments and enjoyed our fifteen-twenty minutes together five days a week. She encouraged me to read stories about real people and their real adventures which added a touch of research for my stories. I remember those characters and their stories even now nearly eighty years later.

                My mother described my Dad as harsh. That was a euphemism for mean. Another reason I loved my mother so much was she protected me from the man until I could stand up to him. He was the only man I ever feared. He loved hard work. He loved that I should do hard work; so, he put me to work on our big yard when I was five. He got me a job with some neighbors who had a lumber business, a petroleum business, and a motel business. I was eight years old at the time. One had to have a social security card in order to have a real job, and I got mine that year. I did learn to work, the value of money, and what a pain it is to have a boss (in addition to my Dad). All of that stood me in good stead when I turned twelve.

                I had a job working for a local sawmill and doing the yard work at the hospital. I took pride that I was paid almost as much as a man doing the same work. Then, my Dad had a massive heart attack and had to go to bed. He was the town doctor, and his illness was a blow to everyone. Because my Dad was a doctor, and because we had a big house, all the boys considered me to be rich. That was a bad thing in my little town among boys; so, I learned to fight better. After a while, they lost interest in the fighting because now I had to provide a serious amount to keep the family going. When I was fourteen, he died. That was quite a life changing day in my life.

`               At the moment, I was working as a laborer at a swanky local resort and had graduated to receiving equal pay for equal work with the other men. The boss walked out to where I was working and told me that I had a phone call from the sheriff. I didn’t worry about being found out for some of the pranky kind of things I had done, and besides, Sheriff Payne was one of my Dad’s best friends.

                I went to the hotel and answered the phone, “Doug, I want you to come to the hospital now, please,” he said.

                I lacked tact and was a boy of few words in those days except when I was telling stories.

                I asked the sheriff, “Uncle Gene, is my Dad dead?”

                “Doug, come to the hospital. Get Uncle Buddy to give you a ride.”

                 I did as I was told and rode along in silent foreboding. My father owned the hospital, and I knew it intimately. I walked into the front entrance and found it to be conspicuously silent and devoid of people. I looked to my right into the open door of my Dad’s office. At that point, Dad’s three long time great nurses who had been with him through thick and thin slipped into view and stood silently watching me. I knew what awaited me because the three of them were silently weeping.

                I walked alone into Dad’s office and because I had no experience in these things, and I was all alone, I determined for myself that he was indeed dead. Sheriff Payne had been waiting in the wings. He came up behind me and put his hand on my shoulder.

                He told me two things: “Don’t cry. Big boys don’t cry.” And “today you are the man in your family. Go home and tell your mother.”

                That day, I became a man. I have a question: how much is a childhood worth? and of what value is early experience? And what kind of experience should be encouraged for growing children? I write unabashedly about such struggles, failures, and triumphs in my novels. Are you up for that?

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Let’s accept two facts: too many police officers have been killed in the line of duty. Too many black people have been killed.

What is not so clear are the questions about why those killings are occurring, and even less clear is what can be done about the closely interrelated problems. What is clear is that past efforts have been insufficient. I would posit that the reason is politics which has clouded and evaded putting real effort into a solution in many locales. Many police agencies have made real efforts to learn what is wrong and what needs to be done to fix the problems caused by explosive interactions between blacks and police (of any color). Overall, the results have been dismal, as evidenced by the spate of killings during 2016.

I propose a simple, but naïve solution: get the cops and the decent people of the ghettoes together in a nonconfrontational series of neighborhood meetings so they can identify and correct the problems. To do so will be monumentally difficult for several reasons: local police and city, county, state, and national law enforcement leaders will have to deal with the very real and continuing evil of racism. Racist law enforcement officers will have to be rooted out which will require stepping on the civil rights of those officers; new laws will have to be drafted that will prevent racist officers from ever being hired and will require objective overview of individual serving officers to determine if they are racists and get rid of them. The obverse side of that coin is to ensure protections for nonracist officers who become political victims of hate mongers in the ghetto public—victims of such so-called “black leaders” as Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, or the heads of the dangerous “Black Lives Matter” organization.

I recognize that many readers of this blogspot will cry “racist” when they see the following recommendations which involve changes that must come from the black community—both in and out of the ghettoes. First of all, there are highly successful, even famous black men and women who rival their white counterparts in our competitive society without conflict from their differing racial backgrounds. Several important ceilings have been broken through: we have a black president; there are a plethora of successful black CEOs, male and female; there are tenured professors, prominent physicians and lawyers and clergy; admirals and generals, and of course, there are the highly visible beautiful black people in the media and entertainment venues, sports heroes, and commentators. They do very well despite or because of being black, and all power to them. In my opinion, they should enter into an involvement with those black people whose lives are not nearly so beautiful and fulfilling. They should lend their prominence to help other blacks to create communities where there are fathers in families; people work for a living, children get an education; black girls are protected from predatory males; drug dealers are sent packing; people cooperate with police who come to help them when they are beset by criminals; and the escalating tendency for black men and women to have adverse relationships with the judicial system is reversed.

Then, there are the people who live in the terrible conditions of racial ghettoes. I am not so naïve as to think that any amount of persuasion will cause change in the current subculture of drug addicts, illicit drug purveyors, gang members, and career criminals. Rather, my message is to the majority of people who live in and suffer from the conditions of America’s inner cities. The message is to the good man who serves as a father, provider, and protector for his wife and his sons and daughters—the man who gets up early, takes his lunch pail and goes off for a full day’s work and comes home without stopping by a bar to help his wife with family affairs and to play with his children; in short, the decent man who struggles against insuperable odds to get his children educated enough to get up and out of the ghetto, the man who respects law enforcement officers and hopes that he will also be treated with respect. This message is for the remarkable, almost superhuman, women who struggle to preserve their children and grandchildren from the temptations and predations of the gangs and from racist and uncaring police officers.

The message is: form committees of the decent and nonracist police officers and the decent family people living in the black ghettoes. Create positive relationships starting with the small numbers involved in such committees and from those committees and relationships convey requests to law enforcement and governmental administrations to make sensible and reasonable changes and to bring into the ghettoes only objective nonracist and respectful police officers. The corollary message to come from such committees is for them to communicate to their neighbors—we will not lie or cheat or steal, and we will not tolerate those who do, including the omnipresent gangs. We must report criminal activity to police, be willing to testify to what we know about criminal activity, be respectful to law enforcement officers including a willingness not to entice police into potentially violent situations with a small army of onlookers with their ever handy cell phones to photograph the police as they attempt to make peace, be willing to accept that the judicial system is the place to adjudicate issues, not the streets.

It will take years for such a system to be developed. If the committees are not created, the bloodletting will continue and the people of the ghettoes will suffer. As seemingly unfair as it may be, the bulk of change has to come from African-Americans of all stations in life. The drug and gang culture can only be eradicated by good black people cooperating with honorable police officers. Get rid of the self-seeking “black leaders” and replace them with the decent family man with his lunch pail and his back breaking job and the woman whose main objective in life is to see her offspring succeed.

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I saw a set of bumper stickers on a car that sums up the disgust many people have for the silliest of silly seasons in recent political history: Clinton/Sharpton 2016 and Trump/Springer 2016. Since I can’t bear to watch any more television news because of the ridiculous coverage of the campaigns, I will make my predictions (prophecies) about the outcome now and be done with it.

Here is what is going to happen;

-Hillary Clinton, the democrat, is going to be elected president. It does not matter who is running on either ticket; that is what is going to happen. All ideology, party platforms, and shenanigans aside, it is about the math. Both democrats and republicans have a rigid set of nonthinking people who will vote for the party’s choice no matter what. The fact is that there are more democrats than there are republicans. Maybe a few republicans who vow Never Trump will end up voting democrat and a few people who hate Hillary more than they love the democrat party will vote for Donald. Those numbers will cancel out each other by and large. The Bernie fans will, in the end, vote for Hillary because the thought of voting for Donald is impossible. The nonvoters, independents, or third party voters will cancel out each other as well. Sen./Secy Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. Get used to the idea.

-The day Secy. Clinton is elected, the next election cycle will begin with all of its useless vicious rhetoric. Our government will remain in a Mexican standoff of dysfunction. This will be true unless the democrats win both houses of Congress, then real change will occur. During President Clinton’s eight years in office, it is likely that four new justices of the Supreme Court will be chosen, and the host of unfilled judicial offices in the country will be filled—all by left wing activists. That will show the republicans who would not even talk to the only moderate who could have been placed on the bench during the Obama years.

-No matter who gets in the presidency, the national debt will double in five years if the winner gets his or her way.

-The real issues the nation—We the People–face will get short shrift once the current political smog clears. Barring an overwhelming mandate in the election, gun issues, police v. ghetto dwellers issues, the economy, immigrant rights, environmental issues, the impossible and failing health care system, infrastructure problems, racial tensions, decisions about funding a two-front war military v. the present one-front war policy, the mountain of problems related to the U.S. educational system failures, and the skyrocketing national debt and the incredible interest payments the country has to make, will all be talked to death with no real intention to seek a real—and painful—solution to any of these and the many other genuine problems faced by the country.

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The impact of serious debt has threatened the United States several times, and we never seem to learn from our experiences because we are a nation that does not give serious consideration to our own financial history let alone the arcane information available from the experiences of foreign countries in that wasteland of the past. Consider these real and American lessons:

  • The Florida Real Estate Bubble was a speculative property bubble that occurred in Florida in the early and mid-1920s. Up until then, the state of Florida was relatively unpopulated and large parts of the state consisted of undeveloped swampland. The Roaring Twenties economic boom (and eventual bubble) made many people wealthy and created a new class of people who could afford to go on vacations. Developers and speculators noted the potential of the new leisure class and took avaricious advantage. Florida land prices skyrocketed and incredible amounts of money flowed in from Northern investors, especially from New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The Florida Real Estate Bubble created many millionaires until it finally crashed in 1925 and devastated the state’s economy.
  • The Roaring Twenties were a time of peace and prosperity; and the U.S. stock market soared as new technologies such as radio, the automobile and airplanes became commercialized. Many Americans speculated in the stock market, often with large amounts of borrowed money including their life’s savings. Some became extraordinarily wealthy. By the fall of 1929, the stock market peaked and then plunged from its own overheated weight. In October, 1929 the Roaring Twenties economic “bubble boom” finally popped. America’s Stock Market Crash of 1929 became a worldwide market failure that financially ruined a great many stock investors–some of whom jumped out of tall city buildings to their deaths. As the Crash unfolded, thousands of banks failed; unemployment skyrocketed; President Hoover was blamed and lost his bid for re-election; and the United States entered into the Great Depression along with the rest of the world, which lasted through the “dirty thirties”, and was only relieved by the huge financial impetus of the Second World War.
  • Perhaps the greatest speculative mania of all time was Kuwait’s Souk al-Manakh stock bubble in the early 1980s, which is as fascinating as it was devastating. The bull market began when investing in local “Gulf Companies” became in vogue with Kuwaitis who wished to ride the coattails of the Middle East’s oil-driven economic boom of that time. A peculiar Kuwaiti custom allowed traders to pay for stocks using post-dated checks under the assumption that default would be unthinkable for cultural reasons. Unsurprisingly, avarice prevailed as some traders speculated in stocks paid for by billions of dollars’ worth of unsecured checks, causing Kuwait’s stock market to inflate like a balloon and pop in a most analogous manner. That fall threatened the national economy of Kuwait and almost led to its bankruptcy and its failure to be able to persist as a nation.
  • The Stock Market Crash of 1987—which came to be known as Black Monday–was the largest one-day market crash in history. That great fall marked the end of a spectacular stock bull market that started in 1982 that was fueled by a supercharged business environment that included hostile takeovers, leveraged buyouts, and merger mania involving a worldwide collection of investors. The Dow stock index nearly doubled from 1986 until the fall of 1987. Early in the year, some informed investors realized that they were looking at a bubble, and they began quietly to sell off their shares. When the market began to drop, investment managers were encouraged to use a new tool called “portfolio insurance” to protect their investments from further losses as the market fell. On Monday October 19th, 1987, an avalanche of very aggressive “sell” orders hit the market as investors began to panic, which triggered additional “sell” orders and more use of portfolio insurance. By the end of that day, Black Monday, the Dow lost an incredible 22.6% of its value. Companies failed; people lost their jobs; and a short term recession hit hard.
  • Apparently, Japan failed to learn its lesson from its brush with disaster in October, 1987. During the late-1980s, Japan experienced a true “Bubble Economy”. Real estate and stock prices soared along with the country’s overheated economy. The “Bubble Economy” era came at the end of its thirty-year-old “Economic Miracle” that began after World War II and saw the country’s fortunes blossom as it became the world’s automobile and electronics manufacturing powerhouse. By the peak of Japan’s Bubble Economy in 1989, a house in Tokyo cost well over $2 million and the land underneath Tokyo’s Imperial Palace was said to be worth more than all of the land in California put together. Japan’s Bubble Economy peaked in late 1989 when people began to realize that the rapid and apparently foundationless financial market increases could not continue. The country’s highly-inflated stock and property markets began to crash. By 1992, Japan’s Nikkei stock index plunged to 15,000 from its peak of nearly 40,000, and the country’s real estate markets were decimated along with the rest of the economy. Since 1989, Japan’s Bubble Economy has deflated for over two decades, leading to this era being called the “Lost Decades”; and Japan is still working at its recovery.
  • The US Savings and Loans Crisis was the greatest bank collapse since the Great Depression of 1929. By 1989, more than 1,000 of the nation’s Savings and Loans (S&Ls) had failed. This effectively ended what had once been a secure source of home mortgages, especially for middle and lower socioeconomic class people. Half of the nation’s failed S&Ls were from Texas, pushing that state into recession. As bad land investments were auctioned off, real estate prices collapsed; office vacancies rose to thirty percent; and crude oil prices fell fifty percent. Some Texas banks, like Empire Savings and Loan, became embroiled in illegal land swaps and other frankly criminal enterprises. How could this have happened in a nation whose S&Ls were under the protective control of the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC)?

Savings and Loans were specialized banks that used low-interest, but federally-insured, deposits in savings accounts to fund mortgages which made them popular for less affluent Americans seeking the American dream of owning their own homes. The S&L debacle began innocently enough in the 1980s. Money markets became more popular in that era by offering higher interest rates on savings. Consequently, investors became pulling money out of savings accounts, depleting the banks’ source of funds and threatening the very existence of that segment of the American financial industry.

S&L banks rushed to ask Congress to remove the low-interest rate restrictions, and in 1982, that wish was granted, which allowed S&Ls to raise interest rates on savings deposits. In addition, those banks were no longer restricted to mortgages, but were allowed to make commercial and consumer loans. Most importantly–and in the future, most dangerously–the law removed restrictions on loan-to-value ratios. A second federal decision sealed the combination that would eventually lead to a nationwide recession. The Federal Home Loan Bank Board regulatory staff was reduced because of budget cuts by the Reagan Administration. This impaired the board’s ability to investigate possible risky loans—thus creating a bonanza for crooks.
To raise capital, S&Ls invested in progressively more speculative real estate and commercial loans. Between 1982 and 1985, these assets increased 56%. In Texas, forty S&Ls tripled in size, some growing 100% each year. This created huge interest on the part of investors. As a result of the banks’ poor judgment in selection of loan recipients, by 1983, thirty-five percent of the country’s S&Ls became unprofitable, and nine percent went bankrupt. As banks went under, the state and Federal insurance set aside to protect and control them began to run out of the money needed to refund depositors. However, many S&Ls remained open, continued making bad loans, and the losses kept mounting—the certain components of a fraudulent bubble.

By 1989, the situation was becoming dire. Finally Congress and the then President George H.W. Bush knew the industry had to be bailed out; it was too-big-to-fail—a mantra that would be repeated in the next and even greater recession. They enacted a taxpayer-financed measure known as the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act which provided $50 billion to close failed banks and stop further losses. It set up a new government agency called the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) to resell Savings and Loan assets, and use the proceeds to pay back depositors. FIRREA also changed Savings and Loan regulations to help prevent further poor investments and fraud.

S&L bank failures cost the FSLIC $20 billion, which bankrupted that federal corporation. In addition, more than five hundred banks were insured by state-run funds. They also failed and those failures cost another $185 million, thus destroying forever the idea of state-run bank insurance funds. Heads rolled: Five U.S. Senators, known as the Keating Five, were investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee for improper conduct because they had accepted $1.5 million in campaign contributions from Charles Keating, head of the Lincoln Savings and Loan Association—one of the institutions with the most egregious criminal records. The Senate also pressured the Federal Home Loan Banking Board, the agency responsible for investigating possible criminal activities at Lincoln, to overlook possibly suspicious activities.

The final tally may never be known for sure, but what is known is staggering; and it threatened the financial security of the greatest economy in the world. Between 1986 and 1995, more than half of the nation’s Savings and Loans, with total assets of more than $500 billion failed. By 1999, the crisis cost $160 billion, with taxpayers footing the bill for $132 billion, and the S&L industry paying the rest. The lion’s share of those costs went to attorneys with investors and taxpayers losing almost everything.

Kimberly Amadeo, Savings and Loans Crisis: Causes, Cost: How Congress Created the Greatest Bank Collapse Since the Depression,, February, 2016 and Paul Krugman, What A Real External Bank Bailout Looks Like, The New York Times, February, 2016, and The Savings and Loan Crisis and Its Relationship to Banking,

  • The dramatic increase in the NASDAQ stock index, primarily technology stocks, in 1999-2000 and its subsequent collapse in 2000-2004 is a fairly recent example of a bubble. The so-called Dot-com Bubble was a speculative bubble in the shares of early internet companies called “Dot-coms.” From the mid to late-1990s, technology company stocks in the Nasdaq stock index soared to incredible heights, making scores of investors and technology company founders extremely wealthy. At this time, many people began to believe that technology had led to the creation of a “New Economy” where the traditional business cycle and recessions were a thing of the past. These “New Economy” beliefs led to excessive risk-taking in business and investments as Dot-com companies went public (such as the infamous and Webvan) even though they had negative earnings or astronomically high business valuations. In early 2000, the technology stock bubble crashed spectacularly as the Nasdaq plunged from over 5,000 to barely 1,000 by 2002 and the U.S. economy was hurled into a recession which took a decade to get over. Investors became significantly more wary, but the nation continued its profligate spending, borrowing, and raising Congressional debt limits.
  • Americans have a very short memory span and tend not to learn from history. The United States housing bubble was an economic bubble affecting many parts of the United States housing market in over half of American states. It followed upon the bubble disaster by only a few years. With a combination of greed, false promises, industry/government collusion, and outright criminal enterprise, US housing prices peaked in early 2006, started to decline in 2006 and 2007, and reached new lows in 2012. Increased foreclosure rates in 2006–2007 among U.S. homeowners led to a crisis in August 2008 for the subprime, Alt-A, collateralized debt obligation (CDO), mortgage, credit, hedge fund, and foreign bank markets. In October 2007, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury called the bursting housing bubble “the most significant risk to our economy.” He may have been right for the time, but the nearly twenty trillion dollar national debt may well exceed even that statement.

The collapse of the U.S. housing bubble had a direct impact on home valuations, mortgage markets, home builders, real estate, home supply retail outlets, Wall Street hedge funds held by large institutional investors, and foreign banks to the level that a worldwide recession if not a depression was inevitable. December 30, 2008, the Case-Shiller home price index reported its largest price drop in its history.

Concerns about the impact of the collapsing housing and credit markets on the larger U.S. economy caused President George W. Bush and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke to announce a limited bailout of the U.S. housing market for homeowners who were unable to pay their mortgage debts. In 2008 alone, the United States government allocated over $900 billion to special loans and rescues related to the U.S. housing bubble, with over half going to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (both of which are government-sponsored enterprises) as well as the Federal Housing Administration. On December 24, 2009, the Treasury Department made an unprecedented announcement that it would be providing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unlimited financial support for the next three years despite acknowledging losses in excess of $400 billion so far, much of which was due to criminal malfeasance. Wikipedia, United States Housing Bubble.

The causes and machinations that led to the bubble and its inevitable implosion are many and varied. There is blame aplenty to go around. The reader is referred to the following fascinating books to gain an insight into what occurred. A take home message is that capitalism is still powerful and only partly regulated; the same schemers in and out of government are still in office except for a very few who actually got the prison terms they deserve; and the government has certainly not learned a lesson in frugality. They bailed out the “too-big-to-fail” corporations, and their greed and avarice continues largely unfettered. The temptation for Congress to spend other peoples’ money is too great, and the pebble can be kicked on down the road. The government’s reaction to this bubble and to its inability to rein in its addiction to spending is “not on my watch.”

-Michael W. Hudson, The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America—and Spawned a Global Crisis, St. Martins/Griffin, New York, 2010.

-Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner, Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon, Times Books, New York, 2011.

The lesson for the United States should be to substitute the nation of China for Britain and France as Americans ponder the Egyptian experience. The situations are chillingly similar except that the stakes are logarithmically more serious now; China—the holder of a huge amount of American debt–might well set America’s finances to right over a hundred years of occupation, but during that time there likely would be a worldwide depression, loss of American sovereignty and influence, and the potential for such a chaotic new order that no one can predict the final outcome. Yes, it could happen to us.

The world and the United States has had numerous other economic scares, but the above described financial debacles should suffice to drive home the risks we face as a result of our burgeoning national debt. Contrary to the advocates of Keynesian economics and those who refuse to consider the possibility of American financial failure, the potential is there. We were saved from the Great Depression which could have resulted in the final destruction of the American economy only by the advent of the Second World War. We do not have the dubious advantage of such a fortuitous situation arising and coming to our aid in this era. No, we will have to get control of our debt, or others will do it for us. Like France and Egypt, and a host of other countries before us, we will not like the results of such salvation. And, that egregious eventuality is preventable. Elect representatives with courage; accept universal austerity measures; come to grips with the notion that it will take a generation, maybe two, to set our house in order. The failure to do so would be most lamentable and entirely unacceptable.

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