Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Weaver Resigns As Port Orchard Planning Director

After almost 5 years as City Development Director for Port Orchard, James Weaver has submitted his resignation. He will take a job as the Building Official for the City of Bainbridge Island. He made the City Council aware of his decision at the December 11, Council meeting, and then submitted his resignation letter to Mayor Tim Matthes, who claimed to be "surprised" by Weaver's action. His last day will be January 2.

James Weaver's departure is a tremendous loss for the City of Port Orchard, and a huge gain for Bainbridge Island. He was universally recognized as the best Planning Director in the County by not only his peers, but by other elected officials as well.

I'm proud to have hired him and worked with him. He cleaned up a HUGE mess in the Planning Department that I had inherited upon becoming Mayor. Those included 546 unprocessed permits, some dating back nearly 3 years, that he and his staff cleared within 60 days, as well as a Comprehensive Plan 4 years out of compliance with the GMA, just for starters.

James and his staff, brought the City into compliance with state law in less than a year — an almost unheard of time frame for such an accomplishment — and did 97% of the work in-house, saving the citizens of Port Orchard hundreds of thousands of dollars in consultant fees.

Ironically City Councilman Fred Chang, who is angling to be appointed to Derek Kilmer's vacant State Senate seat, was chair of the City's Growth Management Committee at the time, and was responsible for the plan not being in compliance.

I have remained quiet about what has happened in Port Orchard since leaving the Mayor's office, but a savvy news reporter with an ear to the ground and no personal agenda would recognize this as just the first in a line of coming departures, and pursued this story from that angle. 

Just remember, you heard it here first...

There's a reason people are leaving, and it will eventually become public. In the meantime, I'll just sit back and smile...

Sunday, December 09, 2012

KING 5 News Torpedoes "Up Front with Robert Mak"

The final regularly scheduled edition of KING 5’s Emmy Award-winning political program Up Front with Robert Mak aired on December 2. The highly popular political news and commentary program has been running on the NBC affiliate for the past 11 years.

Robert Mak
KING-TV Executive News Director Mark Ginther cited “...a slowdown in advertising revenue,” as the reason the long-running Sunday morning program was axed.

Ray Heacox, President and General Manger of KING-TV, was quoted as saying, “We will continue the award-winning coverage we have given to political and public interest programming in our more than eight and a half hours of local news and, from time to time, we will run Up Front as specials when events demand. KING-TV, along with our regional news channel NWCN, airs more hours of news and more coverage of politics than any other news outlet in the Northwest. We intend to continue our partnership with the Seattle Times in bringing some of the most important political debate to television.”

Yeah, right...

“Robert Mak is an award winning journalist and is the lead for our full team coverage of all the political issues impacting our community. Up Front producer Mike Cate will continue to produce politics and other priority coverage for KING-TV,” Ginther said. Well that’s a lie, since Mak has voluntarily left the station’s employment.

Ginther also said seven newsroom positions were eliminated recently through layoffs and the elimination of several already vacant positions.

Could it really be that advertising revenue is down because viewers and advertisers alike are just disgusted with the quality of the non-objective, blatantly biased, so-called "journalism" that passes for “political news” these days? Or is KING-TV just another victim of the Obama economy that they keep reporting to us is getting better?

Inquiring minds want to know...

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Is honest, unbiased, political journalism roadkill?

Now that Election 2012 is finally history, after what seemed like an endless — two-plus years — two things remained consistent — the Lamestream Media served as the official press office of the Obama campaign — so no matter what he did, or didn’t do that he should have (can you say Benghazi?), they had his back — and its systematic and successful branding of every Republican contender as an obnoxious loser representing only the wealthy.

I’ve said for years there isn’t a way for Republicans to shoot themselves in the foot they haven’t thought of, but that I have great confidence in their ability to invent new ones. Election 2012 was no exception. There are more reasons the Republicans lost than I have room to describe here, but as usual, the wounds were self-inflicted. Conservatives scared half the women in America into voting Democratic with their agenda of eliminating abortion, while the Lamestream Media used that to convince women the Republican Party had actually declared war on them — and to some extent, it has.

Abortion has been the law of the land for almost a half century, and is widely supported. If the Republicans ever want to win another national election, they need to get over it and move on. It’s time for the conservative old white men running the party to step aside and turn the reins over to new, younger, and more diverse and pragmatic thinkers — people like Florida Senator Marco Rubio, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer for example. That doesn’t mean abandoning the fiscally responsible principles of the party, but it does mean moving much closer to the center than it’s been for decades, because Republican Candidates at every level from local dogcatcher to Congress are painted by the Lamestream Media with that reactionary Conservative brush — even when there is no shred of credibility in it. One only needs to look at our local and state election results to confirm that.

However, from the very start of the race in early 2011, every single Republican candidate who represented a serious threat to Obama was trashed in the media — most so badly they couldn’t salvage their campaigns afterwards.

And let’s be honest, there were some — like Michelle Bachman — who had no business even being in the race. She threw herself under the bus by providing sideshow entertainment for the predatory media with her outrageously uninformed pontifications.

For example, Sarah Palin was attacked very early on as “vacuous, crass, and vindictive” — just in case she did decide to run.

Meanwhile, Politico and other media outlets gunned down Herman Cain — who, as a successful African-American, Republican businessman — represented a potential game-changing threat to Obama. So he was tried and convicted of sexual harassment in the Lamestream Media without his accusers ever being named, without the opportunity to face them, and without a trial.

The Washington Post reported Rick Perry’s family had leased a hunting property where the N-word was painted on a rock, neglecting of course to mention it was Perry’s family that painted over it. Chris Matthews didn’t hesitate to smear Newt Gingrich — who I personally believe represents everything wrong with politics in America today — by saying “He looks like a car bomber.”

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney was the only candidate who seemed to avoid his own personalized media hit squad until he became the nominee. Once that happened, all hell broke loose, as the entire Lamestream Media now had him in its crosshairs.

Why is the Lamestream Media so protective of Obama, despite the fact we actually know little of his history, and that he rarely reciprocates with them? The answer is that the White House has turned access — the lifeblood of news reporting — into a sledgehammer. For any serious reporter asking real questions, or writing about the ongoing serial dishonesty of this administration, access to sources is systematically denied, and/or terminated. For reporters on deadline — especially network TV reporters — that’s the kiss of death.

Before Election Day, Obama hadn’t called a White House press conference since June. He should have been in Washington attending intelligence briefings leading up to the September 11 attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya. As General Petreaus has testified, Obama was made aware of the threats, and the requests for increased security, but he felt focusing on one softball interview after another — Leno, Letterman, The View and Access Hollywood, as well as fundraisers in Las Vegas and Hollywood — were much more important. So it’s ironic at best that the only man hammered by the Lamestream Media on the Benghazi scandal was Mitt Romney.

But now that Obama has been re-elected, we can look forward to making the best of another four years of his same “progressive” agenda — only carried out more aggressively since re-election is no longer a threat. That means continually increasing energy prices as the administration works to shut down the coal, oil, and gas industries to support economically unviable green energy; the same slow economy, weighed down by debt, higher energy costs and ever-increasing regulations; further reductions in the military and our ability to protect our nation; more gridlock in Washington as America is more polarized than at any time since the Civil War; and more of the same Lamestream Media relentlessly reporting that all these are good things under Obama.

But before you accept what’s reported in the Lamestream Media as fact, let me suggest reading, or re-reading, one of the most prophetic books of our time - 1984, by George Orwell, a dystopian tale in which language and truth are corrupted. It contains two quotes the Lamestream Media — if it had any cojones — would embrace... “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” And my personal favorite - “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Reopening Kitsap’s Government For Business Five Days a Week

Now that Rob Gelder and Charlotte Garrido have been re-elected as County Commissioners by comfortable margins, it’s time to turn our attention to what issues the commissioners need to address moving forward.

The number one issue as we see it is reopening the County administration building for business five days a week. As citizens, we pay for full time government — not for 80 percent of it. This is an issue that was brought up repeatedly in both County Commissioner primary, and general election debate forums. All the candidates at the time stated they could see the need for it. The big question was how to pay for it. It appears Gelder and Garrido have since flip-flopped on that issue.

Numerous good suggestions on how to accomplish it were brought forward during those forums, including using flextime; looking at the busiest hours, and adjusting staffing levels so they were minimal during known slow periods and adding people when the workload was known to be heavier; having some people who are currently off on Friday work, while, allowing them to be off Monday instead; as well as just diverting the money to pay the cost of being open from other, less critical budget items.

Back in September, the Homebuilders Association (HBA) Board of Directors voted to put together a petition asking the Commissioners to return the Department of Community Development (DCD), the County Assessor, and the County Auditor’s offices back to five days a week of full public access.

During the HBA’s candidate interview process (in which, as a member of the HBA’s Government Affairs Committee, I participated), and after several meetings with the Commissioners, it became abundantly clear they would refuse to budget for full service to the community, or adjust staffing levels to accommodate it. They appeared to be of the opinion that full service to the citizens is just not necessary — or desired — by business owners and community leaders. It has also been reported that both County Assessor Jim Avery and County Auditor Walt Washington have each been given the budget to be open full-time, but have said that they don’t support a return to five days a week of public service either.

Avery has told the Kitsap Association of Realtors Executive Officer Mike Eliason, as well as the HBA Executive Vice President Teresa Osinski, that no one has complained to him about his office being closed on Fridays. However, I specifically remember having that discussion with Avery myself.

Commissioner Gelder has also commented more than once that the title companies don’t want the County open on Fridays because they don’t have the staff to handle transactions five days a week. That’s simply not true. I don’t know who Gelder talked to, but the HBA went to great lengths to survey local title companies, and found just the opposite to be the case.

So why is this important? The Realtors and Builders main concern is transaction closing time frames. A transaction that is signed around on Wednesday won’t be recorded until the following Monday at the earliest, but usually Tuesday. It takes at least another day, and sometimes two, for the recorded paperwork to be conveyed back to the title companies, meaning the transaction can’t disperse until at least Thursday or Friday of the following week. That means buyers can’t move in, and no one gets paid for an additional week because of the Friday closure.

But they aren’t the only ones being inconvenienced. When I was campaigning for Commissioner, I would spend about two hours on Friday in front of the administration building handling out campaign literature to the people who had come — sometimes from as far away as Bainbridge Island, Kingston, and Hansville — to do their particular business with the County. They may have wanted to register to vote, register a vehicle, pay their taxes, get a permit for something, or a myriad of other things.

How busy was it? Well, in spite of the closure, the hot dog vendor in front of the building was open, and the number of people doing business with him must have made it worth his time. I know in the two hours I was there, I would hand out at least 50 flyers to people who were either angry, or disappointed they had come all that way to Port Orchard, only to find they would be forced to return home, and make another trip. For some, this presented a problem, because of work schedules. At $4 a gallon for gas, and an hour’s time from North Kitsap, this isn’t just an inconvenience, it’s an unnecessary personal expense for taxpayers.

But what I find most disturbing is the elitist attitude of Gelder and Garrido who don’t seem to believe being open five days a week is necessary at all. In a forum I attended, one of them stated that County employees liked the three-day weekends, and didn’t want that to change back. I’m sorry, but that’s a blatant case of the tail wagging the dog. County employees work for us — the taxpayers — not the other way around. It’s what we want that matters.

It’s time the commissioners got that message. If you agree, call them at (360) 337-7146. You’ll probably have to leave a message, but you’ll know by their actions if what you have to say matters to them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Final Word On The Election — And Aren’t You Glad?

Congratulations to the Democrats, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Young People! You won the election. You voted for what you believed was best for you, and best for America's future. Well guess what, you now own it.

• The next terrorist attack, you own it.

• Can’t get a job after graduation? You own it.

• Sky rocketing energy prices due to Obama’s EPA shutting down the energy producing states, you own it.

• A nuclear Iran, you own it.

• Bowing to the Soviet Union, you own it.

• Another severe recession, you own it.

• A volatile and violent border with Mexico, you own it.

• Trouble getting good health care, you own it.

• Higher heath insurance costs and health care costs, you own it.

• No budget, you own it.

• Another few trillion of debt, you own it.

• Our allies mistrust, you own it.

• More Benghazi situations, you own it.

• No one willing to join the military, you own it.

• Trouble getting a loan to buy a home, you own it.

• More dependency on food stamps, you own it.

• Trouble finding a job, much less a good job, you own it.

• Several part time jobs instead of a good job, you own it.

• A World Government, you own it.

• The UN governing the United States instead of ourselves, you own it.

• A Senate that will not bring any legislation to the table rather it is “Dead on Arrival,” you own it.

• China controlling our world trade and trampling all over us, you own it.

• Loss of our freedoms as we have known them in the past, you own it.

• A dictatorship instead of a democracy that follows the Constitution, you own it.

• Less take home pay and higher living costs, you own it.

• Driving a car that looks like a toy, you own it.

• Being taxed for every mile you drive, you own it.

• More government corruption and lies, you own it.

• More toleration of extreme and fanatical Islamists, you own it.

• Terrorist attacks called work place incidents, you own it.

• Revenge instead of love of country, you own it.

President George Bush, Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney, and all the other scapegoats are out of it now. There is no one left for you to vilify and lie about. In a way I am relieved that another good man will not be blamed when it was impossible to clean up this mess you voted for.

YOU own that mess... How will you fix it?

If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters
Benjamin Franklin

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

What Romney Needs To Do To Win

As this is posted, Election Day 2012 is a mere four weeks away. And don’t confuse this with the usual hyperbole that always surrounds presidential elections — this definitely is the most important election of our lifetime.

What’s at stake is the American way of life. It’s the America we’ve always known and loved, verses the America Barack Obama wants to create.

If that doesn’t scare you, either you aren’t paying attention, or you’re a Kool-Aid drinker.

The Democrats have defined the debate utilizing their tried and true, pathetic class warfare strategy. The problem is, it always works. They’ve successfully pitted us against each other by painting Mitt Romney as a mega-rich guy who got that way screwing people out of their jobs by sending them off-shore, as a guy who hates women, and who is completely out of touch with average Americans and their struggle to survive in the Obama economy.

Meanwhile, they blame the economic problems on George W. Bush, claiming Obama inherited this mess, neglecting to mention they’ve controlled the economy for the past six years — the last two of the Bush presidency, and throughout Obama’s.

But no matter what you think of Obama, this election is his to lose. The corrupt Lamestream Media has conveniently given Obama a free pass on the economy, and on abusing the Executive Order to circumvent the Constitution — something he has no moral qualms about doing. He apparently believes the end justifies the means to accomplish his agenda of turning us into a Socialist state, where the rewards of hard work and risk-taking are confiscation of the fruits of your labors in the name of “spreading the wealth.”

The Lamestream Media also fails to point out Obama has run up the highest debt in history — more than all the other presidents combined! Or that unemployment is the highest since the Great Depression, and has held steady his entire term; the federal bureaucracy has ballooned in size; and because of his policies, things aren’t going to even begin to get better until he leaves office. Obama didn't inherit those problems from Bush — he created them.

Is Mitt Romney my first choice for president? No. Frankly, the first time I saw New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on television, shortly after he was elected, my immediate reaction was, “There’s the guy America needs — a straight talking, no BS, guy who isn’t afraid to stand up to anyone.” I’d pair him up with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a young, smart, highly charismatic Hispanic who is also a true leader.

I don’t see Christie — or for that matter, Romney — bowing down and apologizing to our sworn enemies like Obama has. I don’t see Christie caving in to rabid environmentalists over drilling for oil on our soil, coal-fired power, or global warming. I do see him standing up to government unions the way Reagan did, and how he himself stared them down in New Jersey. I also see him renewing ties with Israel, who Obama has abandoned in favor of kissing the ass of our collective sworn enemies.

However, the chaotic way Romney’s campaign is being managed — given Obama’s performance as the worst president since Jimmy Carter — is pathetic. It should be like shooting fish in a barrel. To be honest, until Obama, I used to think W was the worst president since Carter, but no longer.

To quote James Carville, the campaign adviser who helped Bill Clinton get elected, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Romney and the Republicans need to embrace that, and stand up to the Democrats, who have perpetrated huge lies about the Republican economic platform without even a whimper from them.

Romney began to do that in the first debate, and his candidacy took a positive bounce from that performance. But it isn't nearly enough.

Romney has yet to refute the standard Democratic claim that “deregulation” is why the housing market collapsed, bringing down the economy. The “deregulation strategy” isn’t new. It worked in California, when over-regulation forced electric utilities to charge less than their generation costs, leading to power failures and blackouts. The Democrats blamed “deregulation” then too.

According to the Democrats, Republicans who want to restore the free enterprise system just want to, “…go back to the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place.” And it all sounds very persuasive — if you don’t know the facts — and is pure BS if you do. However, facts don’t speak for themselves, and while Romney avoids challenging the Democrats on this, the clock is ticking.

Democrats claim Republicans will sacrifice the poor in favor of “tax cuts for the rich.” This is another “Big Lie” that Romney needs to hammer on, and explain why — in plain English — it is totally false. If he doesn’t, he’ll guarantee losing the election because people are scared, and they’ll believe the "Big Lie," unless he continues to explain the truth in simple terms at every opportunity. Once in the debate isn't going to cut it. He needs to hammer it home every single day between now and the election.

Romney wasn’t the Tea Party or conservatives’ choice, nor has he reached out to them. It’s time he did. They’re united against Obama, and they’ll show up at the polls, vote, work the phones, put out yard signs and do the boots on the ground work every campaign requires — if Romney just asks. Significantly more of the country is Conservative and/or Moderate than Liberal. He needs to forget about courting or offending Liberals — they won’t vote for him anyway.

Americans are sick of watching our nation lose its status as a superpower because our current President believes America is the problem in today’s world. The Middle East is in flames, yet Obama didn’t have time to meet Benjamin Netanyahu when he came to the UN because of more important obligations — like appearing on Letterman and The View. Romney should have met Netanyahu at the airport when he landed. The contrast would have been stunning — Romney the Leader versus Obama the entertainer.

Romney should be running away with this election — even with the Lamestream Media acting as Obama’s official press office. He’s proven he’s an excellent manager, but Americans don’t want a good manager, they want a bold leader. Being a bold leader means articulating bold ideas and convincing people to believe in them. Be bold Mitt — time is running out.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Things I Couldn't Say During The Primary Election...

As you probably know by now, I ran in the primary election for the District 2 (South Kitsap) County Commission seat. To say I got my butt kicked would be putting it politely, coming in third out of four candidates — even with a fairly respectable number of votes.

After swearing I would never run for office again after losing re-election as Port Orchard Mayor by five votes in what would be graciously characterized as a “contentious” race, what changed my mind?

About two months before filing, I began getting phone calls — one or two a week at first — along with private messages on Facebook — many from people I’d never met, urging me to run for Commissioner. I was polite, but firm, saying that while I sincerely appreciated their confidence in me, I really wasn’t interested. And I meant it — I truly wasn’t.

As the filing deadline approached, the calls increased — from Democrats and Republicans alike — including past and present elected officials. Frankly, I was stunned, but remained firm.

But two last-minute calls on the last day of filing from prominent local Democrats, and a surprising conversation with my wife, tipped the scales.

The Democrats in question claimed a significant number of party members felt incumbent Commissioner Charlotte Garrido was hurting the party, and they strongly believed a competent, personable Republican could beat her. I recently wrote that the conventional wisdom was since Charlotte isn’t too popular in her own district — losing it in the last general election by over 3,000 votes, but winning because of the sheer number of Democrats on Bainbridge — that if she was challenged by a credible opponent in the primary, where only the district votes, she could be taken out. They were quick to remind me of that observation, and seemingly concurred.

They conceded Republican Linda Simpson would be one of the top two, while openly admitting my qualifications as a Democrat were suspect among many party members. But they also said they understood my appeal was more Libertarian than Republican, and believed if I filed as a Democrat, considering the competition, I would attract enough business, crossover, and moderate Republican votes to beat Charlotte. Because of Bainbridge, they believe defeating Simpson in November is a given. Their bottom line was a moderate like me was better than a conservative Republican like Simpson — and certainly better than Charlotte.

Saying I was reluctant is a tremendous understatement, However, I was sadly idealistic enough to believe my record of solid fiscal management coupled with proven common sense leadership in Port Orchard, would lure the moderate voters alienated by the extremists in both parties. I was solemnly promised quiet support coupled with enough funding to make up any shortfall I might face because of starting so late. None of that ever materialized, and on election night, I knew I’d been played.

People have asked why I would even run as a Democrat. Considering what they read here, many tend to view me more as a conservative Republican — especially since I’ve never been shy about supporting good Republicans like Jan Angel and Rob McKenna.

Upon turning 18, I proudly registered as a Democrat. While certainly a staunch fiscal conservative, I've never made any secret of the fact I’m somewhat left of center socially. I marched early to end the Viet Nam War, championed integration while growing up in the South, strongly support a woman’s right to choose, and my first media job was as a voice for organized labor.

But after more than 40 years, I’ve come to disagree with much of what the Democratic Party has evolved into. It’s moved so far left it’s no longer the one I joined, but one supporting an ever-bloating, more intrusive government, steadily regulating away our freedoms. The party that once stood for independent thinking, hard work, and a strong America, today stands for just the opposite under Barack Obama — who in my view has weakened us as a nation on all fronts.

His blatant disregard for our Constitution, coupled with the premeditated weakening of the military in the face of increased terrorist threats; the intentional lack of enforcement of immigration laws — including retaliation against Arizona for attempting to compel Obama’s government to enforce its constitutional mandate. Then there's the targeted media lies perpetuating an ongoing economic class war supported by non-thinking Kool-Aid drinkers parroting party rhetoric because it’s easier than learning actual facts.

Using the lamestream media to relentlessly attack American business, while mobilizing the power of the federal government on the regulatory front and enlisting environmentalists as allies, Obama has chased American jobs overseas, while the party vilifies Romney for doing so to save some American companies from bankruptcy, and increased our energy dependence — while escalating the price — and then blaming Bush.

The Democrats have turned us into a nation of sheeple looking to the government for the next handout. They pay lip service to supporting small business, while quietly undermining everything that supports its success. Meanwhile, Obama claims you didn’t build your own business — that the government helped you. It’s the Big Lie Theory at work — repeat a lie often enough to enough Kool-Aid drinkers, and it becomes accepted as truth.

in my view, these things have bankrupted the Democratic Party of its integrity.

That isn’t saying the Republicans have the answer — they clearly don’t. Or to say there aren’t good Democrats that deserve your support. Derek Kilmer is one I truly believe in. He “gets It,” about small business and where jobs come from. So does Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen. He’s a straight shooter, and someone I trust. Retiring State Auditor Brian Sonntag would have been so much more effective had the Democratically-controlled state legislature not used the budget to disembowel the effectiveness of his office.

As I found out running for commissioner, it’s hard to win when both parties work against you. So at this juncture, I have no reason for political allegiance to either party — since neither has any to me. I will continue to work for, contribute money to, and vote for, pragmatic people I believe are honest and will do the right thing for the people they represent. I hope you will reject the Big Lie being told by both parties and the media. America’s future depends on you thinking for yourself.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Political Debate we SHOULD be having...

Do you agree this presidential campaign has become completely distorted by focusing almost exclusively on the candidates’ personalities instead of the issues? In my view, it has descended into little more than highly dishonest, sound-bite attacks and counterattacks by both the Obama and Romney campaigns. 

The larger issues at stake in November have all but been forgotten. 

Intentional misdirection by both political parties, with the focus on the cult of personality rather than issues, is exactly what’s wrong with American politics today. There is an important ideological debate about America’s future that needs to be taking place — and isn’t — while we continue focusing on Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital and Obama’s birth certificate.

Rather than concentrate on the real issues, both parties have diverted our collective attention away from the discussion we should be having, instead, creating a polarization pitting us against each other in what amounts to little more than a pathetic economic class warfare sound bite brawl. 

The bottom line is the attacks — on both sides — are largely untrue and/or irrelevant. However, the lamestream media has abdicated its responsibility to objective journalism by failing to point this out in favor of amplifying the blatant partisanship exemplified by Fox News and MSNBC. 

No matter what the Obama campaign says, the truth is Mitt Romney was not running Bain Capital after February 1999. And even if he had been, outsourcing jobs to ensure the company’s survival — and the jobs that remained here in the U.S. — is not sleazy, but smart business.

On the other hand, recent Romney ads accusing Obama of heaping government grants upon his political supporters were so blatantly distorted they earned Fact Checker’s highest score for lying publicly — Four Pinocchios.

It’s underneath all this mudslinging where the rubber needs to meet the road. Obama makes the case that the U.S. economy needs investment — in infrastructure, education, training, basic sciences and future technologies. According to the president, those investments have traditionally been key drivers of American growth and have helped people build businesses, create jobs, and invent the future.

Like Ronald Reagan in 1980, Romney strongly argues that America desperately needs tax and regulatory relief. He contends the country is so overburdened by government rules, regulations, mandates, taxes, and debt, that it’s difficult for business to even function, let alone grow and prosper. Romney wants to cut taxes for all, reduce regulations and streamline government. According to him, doing so will awaken America’s entrepreneurial giant. Considering the sustained period of economic prosperity we enjoyed beginning under Reagan, who did this, and which benefitted Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, there is merit to that argument.

But the bottom line is, both points of view are not only valid, but are steeped in truth. Wouldn’t it make for a great campaign if our nation had a sustained discussion centered around these ideas rather than when Romney left Bain Capital or Obama’s Social Security Number? That would produce a mandate to move in one direction or the other — and with the help of a newly elected Congress committed to more than partisan politics, possibly a new strategy could emerge utilizing the most beneficial parts of each.

In either case, both the president and Romney would have to convince American voters they could create long-term deficit reduction. Whether Obama plans to invest our tax dollars in infrastructure, or Romney intends to cut taxes, each needs to articulate a serious strategy of fiscal reform based on real numbers — not political expediency. 

We need a tax and regulatory structure that creates a positive business climate, with strong incentives so business can flourish. This will create the jobs that create the paychecks that create the tax revenues our local, state, and federal governments depend upon to meet our needs and deliver all the services we take for granted.

America is much worse off now than it was when Reagan took office. Our aging infrastructure is crumbling around us and needs to be rebuilt. Education continues to decline. Other countries are surpassing us in scientific research because our current educational system fails to produce enough qualified graduates.

Our nation now spends much less on infrastructure as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) then we did when Reagan took office. By 2009, federal funding for research was half the share of GDP that it was in 1960. Spending on education and training is lower as a percentage of the federal budget than during the 1980s. The education establishment forced more money to be thrown at the problem, rather than addressing its root cause, but the percentage is lower is due to out of control spending.

The result is we’ve fallen seriously behind as global competitors. In 2001, the World Economic Forum ranked U.S. infrastructure second on the planet. In its latest report we’re 23, now spending only 2.4 percent of GDP on infrastructure. By comparison, Europe spends 5 percent, and China, 9. In the 1970s, America led the world in college graduates. By 2009, we were number 14. Annual growth for research and development spending —public and private — was 5.8 percent between 1996 and 2007. In South Korea it was 9.6 percent; in Singapore, 14.5 percent; and China, 21.9.

A strategy for solving these problems is the discussion we should be having as a nation — not when Romney left Bain, or the size of Obama’s vacation entourage. For example, should we rebuild and expand the Interstate Highway System? Should we embrace Charter Schools, stricter discipline, and other educational innovations so teachers can teach rather than baby-sit? Will that produce more qualified graduates for research? Should we secure our borders so taxpayers can stop subsidizing illegals? The list goes on. 

These are the kind of issues the lamestream media should hold Obama and Romney’s feet to the fire about, along with their political parties. But it’s up to us to force that discussion into the open by choosing not to be distracted by the intentional media sideshow. 

America’s future depends on us doing so.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Commissioner Decision...

As you probably know, I have filed to run for the District 2, Kitsap County Commissioner position. To be honest, it was a decision that was as much of a surprise to me, as it may have been to many of you. I’d stated publicly, numerous times, that after losing re-election as Port Orchard’s Mayor by five votes, after a very nasty campaign, that I didn’t particularly want to re-live the election experience.

Losing that election was extremely hard on our family, and for reasons I won’t go into, particularly difficult for my wife, who endured months of harassing phone calls from blocked numbers. After the election, it also became very difficult for some local business people who were very supportive — and one in particular, a close friend of ours — whose business took a hard hit, suffering the brunt of a word-of-mouth boycott by some of my opponent’s supporters. Needless to say, I felt responsible, and wasn’t anxious to put my family, friends, or supporters — not to mention my own sense of self — through any of that pain again. However, I’m pleased to report that our friend’s business is steadily recovering.

So what changed my mind?

After leaving office, I took a sabbatical to my favorite place on the planet, the Florida Keys — a magical place for me where I’m totally at peace with myself. I did some fishing, reading, relaxed in the sun, and did a lot of thinking about my future while watching glorious sunsets. I made a number of decisions, including one involving my role as editor of the Business Journal. I had the option of returning to work there, and did for awhile, creating new digital strategies, which are now in the process of being implemented, in reaction to our industry’s paradigm shift to electronic news delivery.

But I’m a person who thrives on, and does my best work, conquering new challenges. And after 33 years, while this economic environment is certainly challenging, it’s time for me to move on. When Tim Kelly became available, I knew he was the right person, at the right time, to step into the editorial shoes I’ve filled for the past 24 years, and his fresh perspective would help elevate the Business Journal to the next level of excellence.

I truly enjoyed being Mayor of Port Orchard — and I worked hard at it - 50 to 60 hours a week. In the Strong Mayor form of government, the Mayor is basically the City Manager, running the City’s day-to-day business operations. The Mayor reports to the Council, and is essentially the CEO of what is, in Port Orchard’s case, a $30+ million municipal corporation.

When I took office, Port Orchard was dipping into reserves to make payroll. Its comprehensive plan was four years out of compliance with the state’s Growth Management Act, there were over 500 unprocessed permits, and numerous other major challenges.

I’m very proud of what was accomplished in four years. I didn’t do it all myself, and thank a dedicated staff of very resourceful individuals, and a supportive City Council that trusted and believed in me. When I left office, Port Orchard was one of the few cities in our state steadily building reserves. Together, we proved that you can run government like a business if you actually mean to, and have the political will, knowledge and experience to do so.

Relying on expertise learned in Port Orchard, I began searching for a City Manager job, and with my news media credentials, public information officer positions. I’ve been a finalist for several of both, as well as Executive Director positions. As of this writing, several potential jobs — and one private sector CEO position — are still pending.

However, about two months ago, I began getting calls — one or two a week at first — along with private messages on Facebook, many from people I’d never even met, urging me to run for Commissioner. I was polite, but firm with all of them, saying that while I sincerely appreciated their support and confidence in me, that I really wasn’t interested. As the filing deadline got closer, the frequency of the calls increased. The week of filing, without exaggerating, I received over 150 calls — from Democrats and Republicans alike — including past and present elected officials. Frankly, I was stunned, but remained firm.

But it was two last-minute calls from Democratic electeds — one former and one current — as well as a surprisingly frank conversation with my wife that finally convinced me. She said, “You’re a person who lives to make a difference. It drives you, and it’s who and what you are at your core. You know that. You’re smart, pragmatic, not afraid to make hard decisions, and politically astute. You already know how all the boards you’ll serve on work, what their issues are, and the people who serve on them, so there’s no learning curve. You took on a huge mess in Port Orchard with great results. You can do it again.”

I was still uncertain until she asked, “Why would you want to leave here to go run some city somewhere else, or someone’s company, when you’re needed here in Kitsap County? Why wouldn’t you put your energy and abilities to work making a difference where you live?


I honestly made a final decision about 2:45 p.m. on the last day of filing.


So now that I’m in, I’m asking for your support and your vote. I pledge to work as hard as I did in Port Orchard, and to give you my best effort every single day. I believe I can make a difference for Kitsap County. I hope you do too.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

If I wanted America To Fail...

This video is so right on target it isn't even funny. Very scary...

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Obama's Election Strategy: Blame Bush

(Editor's Note: This was published in the Washington Examiner, but makes for interesting reading.)

By Conn Carroll, Senior Editorial Writer
The Washington Examiner.

If the 2012 election is decided by how Americans currently feel about their country, President Obama will lose by a landslide this November. According CBS News, 61 percent of Americans believe America has seriously gotten off on the wrong track. ABC News pegs that same metric at 64 percent.
 
It is not a mystery why. When Obama was sworn into office, unemployment was 7.8 percent. Now it's 8.2 percent. More than 7 million Americans have given up looking for work since Obama became president. And over all this time, our national debt has risen almost 50 percent, from $10.6 trillion to $15.6 trillion.
Obama knows he has no positive record to run on. He knows the only way he can survive this November is if voters blame someone else for the current state of the nation. 

Here is how he told Rolling Stone magazine he plans to frame the election:

"Their vision is that if there's a sliver of folks doing well at the top who are unencumbered by any regulatory restraints whatsoever, that the nation will grow and prosperity will trickle down. The challenge that they're going to have is: We tried it. From 2000 to 2008, that was the agenda. It wasn't like we have to engage in some theoretical debate — we've got evidence of how it worked out. It did not work out well, and I think the American people understand that."

Obama's 2000-to-2008 window is no accident. He wants to avoid all responsibility for his own record by blaming Bush for our current economic woes. There are many problems with this strategy, its cynicism and mendacity for starters. But it is also just plain false.

Love him or hate him, Bush did not preside over some great era of deregulation. Quite the opposite, in fact. During Bush's term, money spent by regulatory agencies increased 44 percent, from $27 billion in 2001 to $44.9 billion in 2007. The number of people employed by federal regulatory agencies rose by 41 percent from 172,000 in 2001 to 244,000. And the Code of Federal Regulations grew by more than 4,500 pages.

According to the Small Business Administration, in 2000, the regulatory burden inflicted on businesses was $4,463 per employee. By 2008, that number had almost doubled to $8,086. Whatever caused the financial crisis, it wasn't Bush-era deregulation.

Mitt Romney can't let Obama escape accountability for his record by blaming Bush. That means he must offer his own narrative of what caused the 2008 financial crisis -- a narrative that puts government intervention at the heart of the problem.

Romney needs to explain how, by leveraging their status as quasigovernmental entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were able to monopolize the mortgage securitization market by the early 1990s. He needs to point out that Countrywide Financial was a tiny regional mortgage broker when it first formed a partnership with Fannie Mae in 1992. He needs to use his business background to explain that Countrywide would never have become the nation's largest mortgage lender without this government help. He needs to tell Americans that not only did Fannie Mae know that Countrywide was shredding industry lending standards, but that Fannie actually gave Countrywide awards specifically for that practice.

Romney needs to note that it is no accident that former Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., the author of Obama's signature financial reform bill, was caught receiving preferential loans from Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. Romney needs to explain that crony capitalism fueled the last crisis, and it has only gotten worse under Obama.

As President Reagan said in his Inaugural Address, "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." Unlike the straw-man vision Obama fed Rolling Stone, we did actually try Reagan's policies. We've got evidence of how they worked out, too. American's can judge for themselves whose economic record they prefer.

Conn Carroll can be reached at ccarroll@washingtonexaminer.com.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Think ObamaCare is a good idea?

If you're in business, or over age 50, you need to watch this — even if you think ObamaCare is a good idea. Learn what you don't know, and then see if you still think so.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kelly Named Editor of the Business Journal


Tim Kelly has been named as the editor of the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal. The announcement was made by Publisher and Founder Lary Coppola.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Tim to our staff,” stated Coppola. “He’s a great fit for not only the Business Journal, but in helping position our company for its next level of growth.”

Kelly, a 1980 graduate of the University of Missouri, brings over 18 years of journalistic experience to the publication, and is a veteran of the Associated Press, as well as writing and editing for several newspapers in Washington and Oregon. Most recently, he spent 8 years at the Yakima Herald-Republic before coming to Port Orchard last summer to become editor of the Port Orchard Independent. His even-handed, in-depth reporting — especially on political issues — was immediately viewed by the South Kitsap business community as a welcome change. He served there until the editor's position was eliminated by recent extreme budget cuts and consolidation moves made by Sound Publishing, owners of the Independent.

“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to work with Lary and Dee Coppola to help maintain and expand their success in providing excellent coverage of business and political news in the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal, and on its innovative website,” said Kelly.

Kelly will serve as editor of the newspaper as well as the website (www.kpbj.com), and the Business Weekly E-mailer. (On the website, you'll be able to sign up for a new "Business Daily" E-mailer on the 15th!) The website itself will also be updated daily. He will also write an editorial column, which will appear in the Business Journal under Coppola’s “The Last Word” editorial, and lend a hand with some feature writing for Wet Apple Media’s other publication, WestSound Home & Garden Magazine.

Coppola will remain as Publisher, overseeing the implementation of a number of technological upgrades for both publications, including a major website overhaul for WestSound Home & Garden, the addition of video in both reporting and advertising, as well as continuing to write the popular “Behind The Wheel” automotive review column.

Kelly is married, and the father of four. He and his wife Jennifer have a 12-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter who attend South Kitsap schools. He’s a regular Red Cross blood donor; a seasonal volunteer Bellringer for the Salvation Army; and a four-time defending champion in a fantasy baseball league. He enjoys reading, music, good food, family trips, crossword puzzles and sports — and is still a fan of his hometown Kansas City Royals and Chiefs. He also enjoys a part-time avocation as a sports official for youth and high school baseball, softball, basketball and football.

Kelly will come on board on April 1, the 23rd anniversary of the Business Journal’s first publication. Beginning in April, Tim Kelly may be reached at 360-876-7900 or editor@kpbj.com.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Commentary On The Real Estate Market


A very clever YouTube posting. I have no idea if this guy is a bona fide real estate agent or just a political satirist, but either way, It's worth the few minutes it takes to watch, as you can get a glimpse of places you've most likely never seen — but help pay for.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Food For Thought...

video
As the presidential election approaches, here's a video that hopefully should give any thinking person a reason to pause and consider the long term outcome of their action before they cast their vote...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Wisdom of Thomas Jefferson...

A brief history lesson...

Thomas Jefferson was a remarkable man who began his learning very early in life and never stopped.

At 5, he began studying under his cousins’ tutor.

At 9, he studied Latin, Greek and French.

At 14, he studied classical literature and additional languages.

At 16, he entered the College of William and Mary.

At 19, he studied Law for 5 years, starting under George Wythe.

At 23, he started his own law practice.

At 25, he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.

At 31, he wrote the widely circulated “Summary View of the Rights of British America “ and retired from his law practice.

At 32, he was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress.

At 33,he wrote the Declaration of Independence.

At 33, he took three years to revise Virginia ‘s legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom .

At 36, he was elected the second Governor of Virginia succeeding Patrick Henry.

At 40, he served in Congress for two years.

At 41, he was the American minister to France and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.

At 46, he served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.

At 53, he served as Vice President and was elected president of the American Philosophical Society.

At 55,he drafted the Kentucky Resolutions and became the active head of Republican Party.

At 57, he was elected the third president of the United States .

At 60, he obtained the Louisiana Purchase , doubling the nation’s size.

At 61, he was elected to a second term as President.

At 65, he retired to Monticello .

At 80, he helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.

At 81, he almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia and served as its first president.

At 83, he died, on the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence along with John Adams .

Thomas Jefferson knew because he himself had studied the previously failed attempts at government. He understood actual history, the nature of God, God’s laws, and the nature of man. That happens to be way more than what most understand today. His is a voice from the past to lead us into the future.

John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the white House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time.. He made this statement:” This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”

"When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe."

...Thomas Jefferson

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."
...Thomas Jefferson

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes, a principle which if acted on, would save one-half the wars of the world."
...Thomas Jefferson

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."
...Thomas Jefferson

"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government."
...Thomas Jefferson

"No free man shall ever be deprived the use of arms."
...Thomas Jefferson

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."
...Thomas Jefferson

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
...Thomas Jefferson

"To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."
...Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:
"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property — until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

I wish we could get this out to everyone!

I’m doing my part. Please do yours.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Why Apple Makes iPhones In China And Why The US Is Screwed

(Editor's Note: A friend sent me this and I thought it was something others should see and understand. It says a lot about globalization, and why America can't compete anymore. One of the things it stresses is the nimbleness and adaptability of Chinese business, and how they can build plants quickly. Read this and the companion article that has a link at the end, and then think about what it would take just to permit a plant — especially here in Washington — like the Chinese can build seemingly almost overnight.)
 
From LinkedIn Insider

By Henry Blodget
The manufacturing processes of Apple and other electronics companies have come into sharp focus of late, with the revelation of more details about what life is like for the Chinese workers who make the world’s gadgets.

When one reads about these working conditions — 12-16 hour shifts, pay of ~$1 per hour or less, dormitories with 15 beds in 12x12 rooms — the obvious assumption is that it’s all about money:

Greedy manufacturers want to make bigger profits, so they make their products in places with labor practices that would be illegal in America.
And money is certainly part of it.

But an amazing new article by Charles Duhigg and Keith Bradsher of the New York Times reveals that there’s a lot more to it than that.

The article illustrates just how big a challenge the U.S. faces in trying stop the “hollowing out” process that has sent middle-class jobs overseas — and, with it, the extreme inequality that has developed in recent years.

The reason Apple makes iPhones and iPads in China, the article shows, is not just about money.

Manufacturing an iPhone in the United States would cost about $65 more than manufacturing it in China, where it costs an estimated $8. This additional $65 would dent the profit Apple makes on each iPhone, but it wouldn’t eliminate it. (The iPhone average selling price is about $600, and Apple’s average gross margin is about 40%. So Apple’s gross profit on each iPhone is probably in the neighborhood of $250.)

The real reasons Apple makes iPhones in China, therefore, are as follows:

Most of the components of iPhones and iPads — the supply chain — are now manufactured in China, so assembling the phones half-a-world away would create huge logistical challenges. It would also reduce flexibility — the ability to switch easily from one component supplier or manufacturer to another.

China’s factories are now far bigger and more nimble than those in the United States. They can hire (and fire) tens of thousands of workers practically overnight. Because so many of the workers live on-site, they can also press them into service at a moment’s notice. And they can change production practices and speeds extremely rapidly.

China now has a far bigger supply of appropriately-qualified engineers than the U.S. does — folks with the technical skills necessary to build complex gadgets but not so credentialed that they cost too much. And, lastly, China’s workforce is much hungrier and more frugal than many of their counterparts in the United States.

On this last point, Duhigg and Bradsher tell the story of Eric Saragoza, an engineer who began working in an Apple factory near Sacramento in 1995. The plant made Macs, and for a few years, Saragoza did well, earning $50,000 a year, getting married and having kids, and buying a house with a pool.

Soon, however, Apple started shipping jobs overseas, because the costs of manufacturing in Asia were so much lower. Importantly, these reduced costs weren’t just about wages — they were about being closer to the supply chain and the willingness of the workforce to put in over-time.

Saragoza was soon asked to work 12-hour days and come in on Saturdays. But, understandably, he wanted to watch his kids play soccer on the weekends.

Saragoza’s salary was too high for him to take an unskilled job. And he didn’t have the experience and credentials necessary to move into senior management. In 2002, his job was eliminated. Apple, meanwhile, turned the Elk Grove plant into an AppleCare facility, with call-center employees making $12 an hour.

Recently, desperate for work, Saragoza took a job at an electronics temp firm. Assigned to the AppleCare plant, he was paid $10 an hour to test repaired iPads before they were sent back to customers. That job paid so little (and was presumably so depressing) that the now 48-year-old Saragoza quit and is looking for work again.

Meanwhile, in Shenzhen, a young project manager named Lina Lin coordinates the manufacture of Apple accessories for a company in the Apple ecosystem. She makes a bit less than Saragoza made a decade ago as an Apple engineer. She lives in an 1,100-square foot apartment with her husband, their in-laws, and their son. They save a quarter of their salaries every month.

There are lots of jobs in Shenzhen, Lin says.

So, yes, money is part of why all of our gadgets are built in China. But what started a couple of decades ago as a reach for efficiency has now resulted in the entire electronics-manufacturing ecosystem being lifted up and transferred to China.

Apple doesn’t build iPhones in the United States, in other words, because there is no longer an ecosystem here to support that manufacturing. There’s no supply chain, there aren’t enough super-low-cost workers, and there are not enough mid-level engineers. And many Americans looking for work are still hoping for a return to jobs, salaries, and lifestyles that have simply disappeared.

This is a complex problem, and there’s no easy solution. But it’s a problem this country is going to have to fix. Or the massive middle class that once drove America’s prosperity will just cease to exist.

Now go read Duhigg and Bradsher...

Majority of State's Business Leaders Say Washington Is Heading in the Wrong Direction

More than 75 percent of the respondents to an Association of Washington Business (AWB) membership survey believe the state is generally heading in the wrong direction — and more than half don’t see things improving anytime during the next 12 months.

Employers surveyed said the biggest issue facing their businesses is complying with government regulations (25 percent), a lack of customers or clients (24 percent) and the cost of health care (21 percent).

According to AWB, the survey results illustrate the fragile state of Washington’s economy, and underscore the need for lawmakers to be mindful of their decisions on the state’s private employers as they attempt to close a $1.5 billion budget shortfall during the 2012 legislative session.

“Although we have seen some positive economic signs in recent months, it is clear based on this feedback from our members that Washington state has a long way to go before its economy is truly thriving again,” said AWB President Don Brunell. “Many businesses are still hunkered down, doing whatever they can to survive the combined impacts of a terrible recession, a growing thicket of government regulation and spiraling health care costs.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers appear to be more engaged in the gay marriage issue than the budget problems, along with numerous other less important bills such as whether or not drivers should be required to turn on their headlights when their windshield wipers are engaged (HB 2182).  

Looking ahead, Washington business leaders don’t see things improving soon. More than half of respondents said they expect business conditions to be about the same a year from now. Only one-third believe conditions will improve over the next year, and 14 percent say they will be worse in a year.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Urine Testing For Cheeseburgers?

If you're worried about what Obamacare will mean for you, this should scare you. In Japan — already the slimmest industrialized nation on the planet — people are being forced to comply with a government-imposed waistline standard.

Japanese lawmakers have set a maximum waistline size for anyone over age 40 - 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women.

In the United States, the Senate and House health care reform bills have included the so-called “Safeway Amendment,” which would offer reductions in insurance premiums to people who lead fitter lives. The experience in Japan offers lessons in how complicated it is to legislate good health.

Though Japan’s “metabo law” aims to save money by heading off health risks related to obesity, there is no proof that it actually will.

Under Japan’s health care coverage, companies administer check-ups to employees once a year. Those who fail to meet the waistline requirement must undergo counseling. If companies do not reduce the number of overweight employees by 10 percent in 2012 and 25 percent by 2015, they could be required to pay more money into a health care program for the elderly. An estimated 56 million Japanese will have their waists measured this year.

Never mind that Japan has some of the world’s lowest rates of obesity — less than 5 percent, compared to nearly 35 percent for the United States.

Meanwhile, a number of US companies — especially hospitals and medical businesses — are adopting strict policies making smoking a reason to turn away job applicants. The rationale is increasing worker productivity, and reducing health care costs by encouraging healthier living. Federal estimates say employees who smoke, cost on average, $3,391 more a year each for health care and lost productivity. About 1 in 5 Americans still smoke, and smoking remains the leading cause of preventable deaths. 
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the confrontational Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which represents 1.2 million health care workers, said the issue isn’t on its radar — yet.

The new rules essentially treat cigarettes as an illegal narcotic, and job seekers must submit to urine tests for nicotine, as well as other drugs.

This shift — from smoke-free to smoker-free workplaces — brings up an interesting question about whether the policies establish a troubling precedent of employers intruding into employees’ private lives to ban a legal habit. What’s next — urine testing for cheeseburgers?