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Published on February 8th, 2012 | by Leonard Jackson


Game Playing

Many years ago (more than I want to think about) I was introduced to a group of young men who invited me to join them in the local chapter of the Jaycees. I had heard of the organization, but was not really familiar with their operational purpose. I thought it to be sort of a Rotary Club for young men doing public service and sponsoring various charitable events. Immediately upon joining, I was invited to attend the annual state convention and, always eager to spend an outing on the road with my new bride and flattered that I was so quickly accepted into their sphere of influence, I agreed to attend.
The agenda called for a brief business meeting, an address by some of the dignitaries and then a big dinner and dance. The convention business was to be conducted the following day and another dinner/dance was scheduled afterward.
After the usual meet-and-greet cocktail party on the first night to get everyone acquainted, we headed to the ballroom for the rest of the festivities of the evening.
That’s when my political life began. Upon escorting my wife to our table, I was summoned to join my group for a “caucus” during dinner. We quickly settled in with the preparations for the principal (and only) reason we were actually meeting – the election of the State Governor of the Jaycees and his slate of Officers.
I soon discovered, to my shock and disappointment, that maybe my popularity and solid judgments were overstated and probably just my attendance (as a voting member) was more appreciated than my charming personality and abilities. My duty was to be there to add to the number of Jaycees who were eager to vote for (the name escapes me) and be ready to “caucus” whenever and wherever I was told. “Oh, the “caucus.” I’m remembering all this because that word has been bandied about a lot lately and it brought back these less than pleasant memories. The caucus was the center, the core, the heart-and-soul of the entire event. This is where the strategy was passed on and our marching orders were distributed. This was how we would plan our ultimate victory.
We caucused once during dinner, twice during dancing and into the wee hours of the morning at the end of the party. I was hunted down not only at my dinner table and on the dance floor but out on the patio and crouched in a stall in the men’s room. These people were ubiquitous. No matter where I went or what I was doing they found me and excitedly briefed me on the time and place of our next meeting. I had never seen such zeal displayed by a group of people in my life. This surely was Politics at the entry level. And it was also when my political life ended.
The reason for this lengthy dissertation (some would say TMI) is that it explains how my political views were formed. On that weekend I observed the political workings on the lowest of levels and could only imagine how it would be on a much larger national stage. The people were involved in a cause that they held dear. Unfortunately, it is never the cause they profess. They are not interested in serving a constituency or righting a wrong. That may come later. But what drives political enthusiasts is winning a game. It’s all about defeating the opposing side, not necessarily to promote the agenda, but manly to win the game. THEY’RE PLAYING A GAME AND WINNING THE GAME IS EVERYTHING!!
This is what’s frightening about our plight today. We are in a position, as a nation, that we have never been in before. Sure, we’re still the new kids on the world block and by far the most successful national story in history, but our national disposition is not as solid as it once was. Where it once mattered to “be the best we can be, “do the right thing” or be proud to be the World’s Leader, it doesn’t seem to be as high on our importance scale as it once was. More like an eight now instead of a ten.
We will survive for the next generation no doubt. This great economy and our standard of living will continue to flourish just on their sheer size and strength, but the obstacles facing our future grow larger and larger and won’t be readily solved by hundreds of politicos playing their power games. We need to address some of these obstacles now before they really will be insurmountable. I recently received this email that best shows what we have ahead of us that must be solved:

• U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
• Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
• New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000
• National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
• Recent budget cuts: $ 38,500,000,000

Let’s now remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:
• Annual family income: $21,700
• Money the family spent: $38,200
• New debt on the credit card: $16,500
• Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
• Total budget cuts: $385
Got it?
This won’t be solved, or even addressed, by people playing games and worrying about reelection. This is urgent and needs real attention, not the usual Washington attention.

About the Author

As I prepare my “reentry” into the e-world of blogging, I am advised that I should provide my prospective audience with a brief biographical résumé covering my life’s work and future aspirations so that I, and my work, can be properly categorized and thus judged in the proper venue. Since I will be joining a new group in just a few short months, it came to my attention that for a quick summary I can cover my life span in 20 year segments that pretty well sum up the route that I took to get to where I am today. In December, the Lord willing, I will become a member of that esteemed group known as Octogenarians. . Now that may be a disturbing, even scary, pigeonhole for some folks to find themselves assigned to, but I’m beginning to realize some real benefits from being maturity advantaged. The first 20 years I grew up, was educated and began my married life and my career. Second period was about 20 years in the cotton business in Memphis, TN. Trading this commodity in the world’s largest inland cotton market. Third period was spent in the municipal bond industry in Memphis, Houston TX Chicago and finally to my present home in Kansas City, MO. The fourth 20 years I served as a registered investment adviser to a number of individual clients which I continue to do in a semi-retired capacity. In addition to all this, over all these years, I have been blessed with a loving wife of sixty years, four children, four grandchildren, two great grandchildren, and a menagerie of grand horses, dogs, cats and a donkey. Providentially, none of these, except of course my patient wife, are still living in the family home. And now the fifth period will be consumed in my new career. For the first time in all the years I have an opportunity to share my opinions with the world. I can truly express my thoughts without regard to any extenuating conditions. I can just say how I feel about any subject. How liberating. Let the blogging begin!!!! By the way – what I do in the next period remains to be seen and depends on how well I do in the fifth period.

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