About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

O Holy Night

Reference post:  Silent Night

Monday, December 12, 2022

​Analysis Of Midterm Election Results Explains America's Decline

"According to the podcasts I listen to - Bill O'Reilly, Lou Dobbs, & others are forecasting a red wave.  I didn't get that impression from your posting." - charter member of RTE  commenting on the post written on November 2 - right before the midterm elections.

Republican commentators had forecast a red tsunami in the 2022 midterms by Republican candidates winning 245 House seats & expanding their total in the Senate to as many as 55 seats.  

In the most favorable midterm election for the GOP in 40 years they failed miserably even though they did win control of the House barely by four (or five - Lauren Boebert's CD is still in recount) seats - thanks largely to picking up two open seats & two flips in Florida & four flips in New York that are credited to losing gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin's strong showing in some congressional districts.

Republicans actually lost one seat in the Senate & two governors races - one flip in Arizona & one pick up of an open seat in Maryland.

It was the second highest midterm turnout (46.9% Voting-Eligible Population) in the 21st century coming in only behind 2018 during Trump's term in office (49.4% VEP).  The average midterm turnout is about 40% VEP - 2014 was 36% VEP.  

Overall, there were 105.5 million votes cast for Democrat & Republican House candidates in the 2022 midterms compared to 111.7 million cast in 2018.  Republican candidates increased their House vote total in 2022 by 3.3 million votes to 54.3 million while Democrat House candidates received 9.6 million fewer votes dropping to 51.2 million.  But these totals did not translate into Republicans winning many new House seats other than in Florida & New York as detailed above.

Although Republican House candidates increased their vote total in 2022 by 6.5% it would not have been enough to carry the day without a 15.8% decline in the Democrat House candidates vote total from 2018 when Democrats made a net gain (blue wave) of 41 House seats thereby putting a check on Trump's last two years in office.   Despite winning control of the House, the 2022 midterms are disappointing because other than places like Florida, Republicans underperformed.  It was not a triumphant way to flip the House & losing a seat in the Senate & two governor's races in this political environment is an embarrassment.

The basis of Republicans' enthusiasm for the probability, in their minds, for taking back control of both the House & Senate in a red wave is the historical fact that the sitting President's party loses congressional seats in midterm elections most of the time - especially ones, like in 2022, where three quarters of the citizens think the country is going in the wrong direction.  Since 1900 only three presidents have seen their party gain House seats in their first midterm election - TR in 1902, FDR in 1934, & GW Bush in 2002.  And of course James Monroe, our best president, not only gained House seats for his party in both of his presidential terms but also did not lose a Senate seat during his entire administration which is something that no other president ever achieved.   

But Biden is no James Monroe or TR let alone FDR, GW Bush, or even Jimmy Carter so it is with a heavy heart that I recognize that America did not want to put more of a check on Biden/Harris than a four (or five) vote majority in the House & the hope that Manchin & Sinema will hold strong in the Senate.

Since the 2022 midterms there has been a lot of spin by both Republicans & Democrats as to what happened - mostly wishful narratives of twisted logic setting the stage for what they each hope will happen in the future.  My analysis focuses on the issues of the day as presented in the RTE posts since the 2020 presidential election.

I too am disappointed that there was no red wave but I am not surprised because there were very large clues on the aforementioned RTE posts that the red wave was wishful thinking, summarized as follows with the dates of the posts provided in parenthesis for reference:

1.  The numbers did not favor Republicans in the Senate who were defending 20 Class III Senate seats in 2022 while Democrats were defending 14.  (September 28, 2021, June 2, 2022)

2.  The three elections of 2021 showed the patterns that would be followed to a large extent in the 2022 midterms:  First California Governor Gavin Newsome not only survived the recall election in 2021, he did better in the recall than he did in his 2018 original election.  (August 10, 2021 & September 28, 2021)

Second, Republican Glenn Youngkin won the governor's race in Virginia by 63,503 votes (50.57% to 48.64%) in a race where parents were supposedly irate with the school boards usurping parental control of their children.

Third, on the same day as the Youngkin win in VA, Republican Jack Ciattarelli lost the governor's race in NJ to incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy by 73,814 votes (48.2% to 51.1%) in a race that conservative news media celebrated as a triumph for its closeness.  In a low turnout race for NJ Jack got Republicans to the polls & received over 330,000 more votes than the 2017 Republican candidate but Murphy still won with a mediocre Democrat turnout.

Conservative news media constantly presented the VA & NJ results as a sweeping prediction for winning the 2022 midterms & the return of Trump to the presidency in 2024.  This was not the lesson to be learned from the 2021 elections @ all.

If you consider the two gubernatorial elections as one people interested in the strong Republican issues of their children's education & the economy the combination shows a different lesson to be learned in that there were 10,311 more votes for the two Democrat gubernatorial candidates than for the two Republican gubernatorial candidates -  meaning that 10,311 voters in the combined two states cared more about something other than what Republicans, parents @ school board meetings, & citizens paying taxes cared about.

The 2021 elections showed no signs of a red wave coming in 2022.

3.  In 2022 there were three notable special elections & one abortion referendum in Kansas - none of which forecast a coming red wave.

Republicans felt encouraged when Mayra Flores won the special election on June 14 for the vacant seat in Texas congressional district 34 - right on the southwest border.  The October 2, 2022 post said that if Flores & the other two Republican Latinas running in adjacent Texas border districts won in the November midterms it would be a watershed event.

But the post also pointed out to proceed with caution in this line of thinking because the Flores win was only by 2,220 votes in a 7% turnout election meaning only 3.57% of eligible voters supported her.  The midterm would have a much larger turnout.

A lot could go wrong & it did.  Flores lost the midterm in a flip by 11,355 votes 44.3% to 52.7%;  Flores fellow Republican Latina Cassy Garcia lost CD 28 by 21,829 votes 43.4% to 56.6%; but Republican Latina Monica De La Cruz won CD 15 by 12,956 votes 53.3% to 44.8%.

These three elections are as important as any in the country because of their Latino significance but the result was disappointing in that all three Latinas did not win.  But the margins are significantly cut from the 2018 midterms when all three districts were won by Democrats - 60% to 40% in CD 34; 84.4% to 0% in CD 28; & 59.7% to 39.8% in CD 15.  We must wait two years to see which way this goes in these southwest border CDs. 

On August 2 Kansans voted to keep abortion a constitutional right by a 60 to 40 landslide margin.  Republicans had convinced themselves, without any reason, that the importnce of abortion would fade for voters by November - but it certainly had not faded by August 2 in conservative Kansas.

The 19th congressional district special House election in NY was held on August 23 where Democrat Pat Ryan beat Republican Marc Molinaro 52% - 48%.  Trump had won this district by 7 points in 2016 & Biden had won it by 2 points in 2020 so it certainly was up for grabs & really was winnable for Republicans if the red wave was coming.  The previous holder vacated the seat to become Lieutenant Governor.

Ryan had trailed by double digits in several polls before he started to campaign on abortion rights.

Republicans snuffed this out with the same abortion reasoning as above in Kansas & literally laughed it off saying it was no way indicative of what is coming because it was NY, after all.  My favorite conservative commentator found this to almost be a hilarious laughing point that losing this winnable election in any way detracted from the coming red wave.

Lastly, on August 31, the Alaska special election to fill the late Don Young's seat was won by Democrat Mary Peltola over Sarah Palin by 5,240 votes 51.48% - 48.52%.  This time Republicans blamed Alaska's new ranked choice voting system.  The top three candidates would compete again in November once again using the ranked choice voting system which produced the same result..

None of the 2022 special elections or the Kansas referendum gave one iota of proof of a coming red wave.

4.  Also In August, 2022 the so-called generic ballot suddenly shifted to showing Democrats holding onto Congress in the midterms.  See graphic below & October 2, 2022 post.  And of course Republicans dismissed this out of hand saying the poll should not be believed, but in truth the graph showed the closeness of the election to come & certainly provided no basis for thinking a red wave was coming.


Click on graphic to enlarge

5.  Republicans repeated the mistake Trump had made in 2020 in thinking the economy was the most important issue to all the groups that made up the electorate - this time Republicans relied too much on the impact inflation was having, not realizing that youthful voters were not focusing on inflation & neither were older generations to some degree.  Generation Z is interested in mass shootings, racial equality, & immigration policy & treatment of immigrants.  Millennials are interested in healthcare, global warming/climate change, & mass shootings.  Generation X & older generations are interested in healthcare, terrorism/national security, & the national debt. (February 24, 2021 post)

So why aren't people 18 to 29 & the elderly concerned more about inflation?

Thanks to the pandemic related government stimulus, & no place to spend it during the year-plus long lockdowns, people had built up excess savings (the amount above what would have been saved if there was no pandemic) of $2.5 trillion (source Alan Blinder - May 17, 2022 post).  See graph below for an estimate by the Fed which shows that @ the current rate of rundown excess savings will last @ least another year.

Click on graph to enlarge.

In addition to the stimulus checks the elderly also receive Social Security automatic annual cost of living increases (5.9% in 2022 & 8.7% for 2023).

In the case of America's youth Hillsdale College reports that 70% of Millennials are either "somewhat likely" or "extremely likely" to vote for candidates with socialist positions.  In fact, the results of the last presidential election verified that young voters preferred Biden over Trump by a whopping 61% to 36% margin. 

The American youth has turned to socialism because they do not grow up, & are not even being asked to grow up, staying dependent on their parents well into their thirties, spending down their parents wealth without a clue of the dangers or any idea of the freedoms they are throwing away.  They are getting married later, putting off having children, putting off buying a home, all the things that usually lead to developing adults being more skeptical of government schemes & government plans for redistribution.  In short, other than parts of the Trump administration, socialism has taken hold on a group of young people who have never known an economic system other than the ones presided over by GW Bush, BO, & now Biden - & those systems are not capitalistic.  For them the inflation issue is a non-starter @ least until the excess savings run out.  (April 23, 2019 & April 25, 2021 posts)

People who are currently flush with cash who voted for issues like climate change @ a higher priority than the impact inflation will have on their lives are short sighted.  Economist Jeffrey Tucker, writing in Imprimis, points out that the dollar of January 2020 is now worth only 87 cents in purchasing power & that inflation, since the pandemic stimulus spending financed by the Fed's printing money started, will cost the average family $8,739 over the next twelve months & that amount will remain in the cost of living baseline for the rest of their lives.

6.  Citing Biden's detestable record of no accomplishments by unwoke traditional standards, conservative TV hosts would drone on & on that Democrats had no issues to run on.  This terribly underestimated the opponent.  The June 2, 2022 & October 2, 2022 posts pointed out that Democrats will squeeze the lemon dry on four issues that draw Democrat & Independent support even in an inflationary environment: 1) Stricter gun control laws, 2) abortion, 3) Trump, & 4)  student loan forgiveness, each of which played a role in the midterms, summarized as follows:

A.  An example of the stricter gun control laws issue playing out is in Colorado's 3rd GOP leaning congressional district where Republican firebrand incumbent Lauren Boebert was tested to the wire by former Aspen city councilman Adam Frisch, who campaigned on a platform of civility & centrist policies.  Boebert won her reelection bid 50.1% to 49.9% (163,841 votes to 163,289 votes).  Frisch has already filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Elections Commission indicating he plans to run again in 2024.  Colorado law requires an automatic recount for elections this close.

B.  The abortion issue & more specifically the Supreme Court's mid-year decision that there is no constituional right to abortion leaving it to the citizens of each state to decide per the Tenth Amendment was distorted by Democrats & tremendously underestimated by Republicans.  Please note the high court did not ban abortion - since abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution the Supremes cannot ban or approve it, they can only refer it to the states per the Tenth Amendment or the people to issue a new amendment authorizing it.  Conservative commentators said the uproar of the May leak of the Court's draft opinion overturning Roe would fade by November & would not be a significant issue compared to inflation in the midterms.  Well, the abortion issue brought every Democrat, most Independents, & some Republicans out to vote.

C. Trump is the gift that keeps on giving to the Democrats in that there are more Democrats that vote against anything Trump than people who vote for him or his endorsements.  The one sided January 6 televised hearings were a constant reminder of Democrat opposition to Trump with the purpose of bringing out the Democrat vote. 

Trump could not stay out of the midterms & very predictivly his selections did very well in the primaries & mostly bombed when it counted in the general election midterms.  Trump's biggest success was endorsing J.D. Vance for senator in Ohio & Vance was tremendously helped by Governor Mike DeWine's 25.5 point reelection blow out.  DeWine won 62.6% to 37.1% while receiving 2,528,018 votes.  Vance won 53.2% to 46.7% while receiving 2,150,550 votes or an underperformance of 377,468 fewer votes than DeWine.  In addition Vance underperformed every other statewide Ohio Republican candidate on the ballot (attorney general: 286,000 fewer votes, secretary of state: 248,000 fewer votes, auditor: 201,000 fewer votes, & treasurer: 194,000 fewer votes).  With the exceptions of Vance in Ohio, Ted Budd for senator in North Carolina, & Joe Lombardo for governor of Nevada, virtually all of Trump's other endorsements lost across the country in the general election midterms.

All of Trump's many accomplishments during his term in office were long forgotten by the midterms & the midterm election losses for Republicans were entirely Trump's fault as he has proven time & again to be his own worst enemy. 

Trump talks powerfully but since 2016, under his leadership, Republicans lost the House in 2018, the Senate & Presidency in 2020 & most pathetically the two Georgia Senate runoff seats on January 5, 2021 when the stakes were precisely known - namely, the progressive Biden agenda would proceed unchecked without @ least one of the Georgia Senate candidates winning their runoff election that would have preserved a Republican majority in the Senate.  Much, if not all, of the Biden assault on America the past 22 months would not have happened if Trump would have campaigned for Loeffler & Perdue, or just butted out, instead of whining about his presidential loss during campaign stops in Georgia supposedly on their behalf. 

In short, Trump hurt Republicans in the midterms & helped Democrats.  (April 13, 2022 post)

D.  Biden's student loan debt forgiveness plan is the most blatant buying of votes @ taxpayer expense that I ever saw - & it worked & will work again.  Democrats now own the issue so even if the courts strike it down Democrats will remind students & their parents every election going forward that they brought it up or plan on bringing it up again under another pretense so people keep voting for them in the hope that it will somehow become legal. 

And remember the up to $10,000 immediate forgiveness (up to $20,000 for Pell grant recipients) eliminates the entire debt for small borrowers but it is just a small part of Biden's plan for high student loan borrowers.  The proposed income-driven repayment plan will wipe out the entire debt for large borrowers after minimal payments over a set number of years, thereby combining with the immediate $10,000 or $20,000 forgiveness portions of the plan to cancel virtually all of the 43 million borrowers' debt of $1.6 trillion.  (October 2, 2022 post)

These four issues were more important than Republicans estimated.

7.  Earlier this year I followed the campaign & election of Liz Truss as the Leader of the United Kingdom's Conservative Party & subsequent appointment to be the UK's new Prime Minister.  Liz campaigned on emulating Margeret Thatcher & Ronald Reagan with pro growth policies specifically emphasizing tax cuts.  About a month into her appointment her plans were received negatively by world financial markets & her colleagues called for her resignation.  Her reign lasted just 50 days.

Quite often UK revolutionary ideas breed our own dramatic changes in America.  The most recent example was Brexit in 2016 followed shortly thereafter by the election of Donald Trump.

I did not take the rejection of supply side economics in the UK as a positive sign for a red wave in America.


For decades the American republic has been tracking the Death Of Democracy stages that every democracy in history followed to their demise.  America is in the apathy to dependence stage, teetering on falling into the dependence back into bondage stage & the government's actions during the Covid-19 pandemic, caused by the Wuhan coronavirus, has accelerated this descent by flooding the country with deficit spending, financed by the Fed creating money out of thin air, that has produced the highest inflation in 40 years.

In order to not miss anyone, whether they needed it or not, under Trump there were direct cash payments of $1,200 per adult plus $500 per qualifying child under 17, an additional $600 per week in unemployment compensation, income tax rebates of $600 per adult plus $600 per child, an increase of $300 per week in federal unemployment compensation, a federal eviction moratorium & government fund to help renters pay past due rent, & a 15% increase in food stamp benefits.  

Under Biden there were $1,400 per person payments ($8,400 for a family of two adults & four small children), $1,300 per child expanded child tax credits ($5,200 for this same family), bigger food-stamp payments, & $300 per week federal enhanced unemployment benefits in addition to regular state unemployment benefits.  

Thanks to these government transfer payments many people made more money not working than when they did - & they liked it.  The easy money is having a lasting effect on people who became more liberal & Democrat party supporters as other people's money kept flowing in.  People started to wonder why this couldn't continue all the time as they looked @ life as more than just a balance of work & leisure - even young people want to enjoy every minute they have left on earth as if they don't have many left.

This view has been illustrated by the BLS's JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey) report that assesses the unmet demand for labor in the U.S. labor market.  The graphic below shows that even before the pandemic job openings have exceeded the number of unemployed people for all but the extreme depths of the pandemic lockdowns & that this difference has been greater since the lockdowns were lifted than before.

click on graphic to enlarge

The just released November unemployment report documented that the labor force participation rate (LFPR) fell to 62.1% as 186,000 people left the labor force last month. The number of people not in the American labor force increased 359,000 & totaled over 100 million people for the first time other than most of the months during the pandemic lockdowns ( April 2020 to October 2021).

The LFPR is the statistic used to measure the extent to which people are willing & able to work.  Since January, 2000 the LFPR has fallen from 67.3% to 62.1% today. - a 22 year decline this century that represents 13.5 million people missing from the American labor force.  Similarly, the employment population ratio dropped from 64.6.% @ the turn of the century to 59.9% today meaning 12.5 million more people would be employed today if we held the January, 2000 ratio over the years.

There are still 102,000 fewer people in the labor force than February 2020 & 3.4 million less based on the calculation using the February 2020 LFPR, 63.4%, applied to today's civilian noninstitutionalized population.

The early retirement of baby boomers is far from the entire story regarding the decline in the LFPR - every cohort had a decline.

The graph below shows that the LFPR for teens ages 16 - 19 started to decline before 2000. 


Click on graph to enlarge

The graph below shows declines in LFPRs for Young Adults ages 20 - 24 & 25 - 34.


Click on graphic to enlarge

The graph below shows the decline in LFPR for prime age working people 25 to 54.


Click on graph to enlarge

In addition, Phil Gramm & John Early reported in the WSJ in October that middle income American "working & non working households alike now have roughly the same income after accounting for transfer payments & taxes."

It is obvious that the people described above from the Gramm-Early report, the JOLTS report & the declining LFPR figures are not as interested in the economy, jobs, inflation, & making a living as the majority of the people who forecast a red tsunami in the midterms were.  What I call the stages of Death Of Democracy British playwright George Bernard Shaw referred to as "A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." 

But for a certain percentage of people, their savings will run out, inflation will be biting, & portfolio losses will eventually push most of these people to seek a steady income again. 

But those who are planning on staying out of the labor force are relying on the 126 welfare programs identified by the Cato Institute for their subsistence & voting Democrat regardless of who the candidate is (for instance, PA state representative Tony DeLuca won reelection 85% to 14% despite having died on October 9, with many blaming low voter awareness of current events like whether or not the candidate is alive & John Fetterman won his Senate seat when obviously not up to the job) - including for president in 2024 unless they have a reason to vote otherwise.  

And that reason could be found in Florida, Georgia, or Texas where the results of three gubernatorial races defied the lackluster Republican trend of election night to provide glowing examples that the American dream of obtaining personal excellence was recognizable to the electorate & was within their reach.  

Call it leadership or not, the people of Florida followed, & want to follow, Ron DeSantis after he ground out four years of doing an inspirational job  tackling one controversial issue after another - from Covid to Disney World.

No governor ever got a higher % of the vote in Florida history than DeSantis did in 2022 as he provided coattails for Rubio, & virtually every other Republican candidate on the ballot.  DeSantis won 62 of 67 counties including Miami-Dade County which is majority Hispanic.   Statewide DeSantis won more than half the Latino vote as he increased his vote total from the 2018 race by over a half million votes (4,076,186 to 4,607,597 = 531,411 vote increase).

But let's not get carried away thinking that one election has permanently turned Florida red.  DeSantis's 2022 opponent received over  940,000 fewer votes than his 2018 opponent (4,043,723 - 3,100,603 = 943,120 fewer votes) meaning there still are plenty of people capable of pulling the lever for the other side or more positively - they are candidates to be convinced there is a better way than government dependence.

Brian Kemp too won an impressive gubernatorial reelection race in Georgia.  Kemp's campaign also concentrated on the job he did over the past four years including signing the state's largest income tax cut, being the first governor to open up his state during the Covid pandemic, supporting police, & backing Georgia's new voting laws that have produced record turnouts.  Kemp won 53.4% to 45.9% while receiving 2,111,572 votes which is 133,164 more votes than he received in 2018.  It is also over 200,000 more votes than Herschel Walker received in his Senate race on the November election night (1,908,442 votes), where in another case of a Trump backed candidate underperforming, Herschel lost by 37,675 votes before being blown out by 96,613 in the runoff on December 6.  Herschel is the only Republican Georgia statewide candidate to lose in 2022.

Greg Abbott also won an impressive gubernatorial reelection race in Texas 54.8% to 43.9% by over 800,000 votes (4,437,098 - 3,553,656 = 883,442 votes).

So it can be done with the right message delivered by a believable messenger because freedom, self respect, & prosperity are catching - but they do require work & that is the rub with a significant percentage of today's population.

Please refer to the graph below that shows the LFPR for the past 42 years.  I have divided this period into two 21 year periods that respectively represent the increase & subsequent decrease in the LFPR.  


Click on graph to enlarge

The table below is based on the above graph.  It shows that from January, 1980 to January, 2001 the civilian labor force increased by 37,238,000 workers compared to an increase of 19,887,000 workers from January, 2001 to January, 2022 - a growth rate of only 53.4% for the second period compared to the first.  Similarly, the growth rates of the number of employed people & the number of full time employed people in the second 21 year period were only 51.2% & 54.6% respectively of the number of people in these categories in the first 21 year period.

LFPRs & Employment - 21 Year Period Comparisons
Month/YearLFPRCivilian Labor ForceEmployedEmplmt-Pop RatioFull Time Employed
January, 198064.0106,56299,87960.083,300
January, 200167.2143,800137,77864.4114,262
January, 202262.2163,687157,17459.7131,164
Difference 80-01+3.237,23837,899+4.430,962
Difference 01-22-5.019,88719,396-4.716,902
1st period87.2% Greater95.0% Greater83.0% Greater
2nd period53.4% of 1st period51.2% of 1st period54.6% of 1st period
Figures in % or Thousands

The rate of growth of productive people has been shrinking in the 21st century as the population increases &, amid a dearth of Republican leadership, the midterm election results show that plenty of Americans are satisfied with the status quo.  When coupling this realization with the aforementioned Gramm-Early findings that middle income American "working & non working households alike now have roughly the same income after accounting for transfer payments & taxes," I don't know of a clearer way to explain America's decline.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Venezuelan's Appreciation For America

Over the past several weeks Carol & I have had a continuing working relationship with a person I recently found out came from Venezuela only a few years ago - I sent this person the post Venezuela & America Provide A Definitive Comparison Between A Socialist & Capitalist Economy.

I received the following respond from this person with direct experience with Venezuelan socialism:

"I think the research work you have done is excellent, I totally agree with you.

'"Wherever the free market has been permitted to operate, wherever anything approaching equality of opportunity has existed, the ordinary man has been able to obtain levels of living never dreamed of before.  Nowhere is the gap between rich & poor wider, nowhere are the rich richer or the poor poorer, than in those societies that do not permit the free market to operate. 

"This paragraph expresses very well what happens in socialism.  You as American citizens cannot allow socialism to take hold or that way of thinking to spread."

I was very pleased to receive this response from a Venezuelan who obviously appreciates the United States but then saddened when I thought of all the things Americans are working double time to throw away.