You Gotta Have A Dream

The past year has seen many changes in my life, as I am sure it has in yours.  I recently completed a months long endeavor to explore and apply to graduate school, specifically the study of law.  As part of the application, I was required to write a personal statement of my choosing with minor parameters. I thought I would share that piece with you as I move forward in this adventure.

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You gotta have a dream to make a dream come true.

Throughout my life my father has expressed these words that have resonated in my heart as a mission statement for success, and I have always been encouraged to believe in myself and explore the world around me. With such a liberating mandate, I developed my imagination and sought the passion and inspiration that would surely lead to personal contentment. But as a confident and dedicated adult, I have discovered that dreams do change and that the practical pursuit of a desire requires balancing an idealistic vision with a vigilant evaluation of one’s personal state of being.

Looking around the sterile environment of an audition center, situated in the back of an industrial building off of Sunset Boulevard, I made such an evaluation and had a revelation:

This was not my dream.

Seven years earlier I had moved from the Denver-metro area and was currently living in Los Angeles, pursuing various acting opportunities, and headed in the wrong direction. Most of the work I was involved with centered around advertising and commercials which, in terms of personal fulfillment, can leave the dreamer wanting. The craft of acting was dear to my heart yet sincere happiness still eluded me.

One audition found me sitting in a barren room filled with dozens of other men, all similarly dressed with corresponding physical attributes. In my hand was my audition slip, complete with personalized barcode and corresponding identification number. I had my two-line phrase memorized and was trying not to self-consciously mumble it to myself as many of my colleagues had taken to doing.

In that moment, reflections on my time in LA and the dream that I was pursuing became clear. The disconcertion that I felt stemmed from the fact that my path and the opportunities before me no longer reflected the dream that I had once held. The truth is that in order to live in the pursuit of a dream, practical considerations must be made where fanciful daydreaming once took place. My life and my happiness were at stake. So, as I had done seven years earlier, I took charge of my life and began the pursuit of my happiness once again.

After returning to Colorado, I put my efforts into exploring the field of law and began working with an attorney through the legal department at a Denver think tank. Here I experienced first-hand the excitement, frustration and fulfillment that accompanies the work of an attorney. I was able to assist with Constitutional research and professional presentations on historical and legal matters that only served to reignite my inspiration for the legal profession. As I had found studying the law and criminology while earning an undergraduate degree, I have a conscience and a passion for justice, seeking truth in all matters.

Providence and life experience have equipped me with the resources and support to succeed in law school. There, I will learn to understand and apply the legal profession while completing my studies in order to work as an attorney in the state of Colorado.

This is my dream.

As I now evaluate the present condition of my life, I am proud and humble to possess a certain peace of mind that comes in knowing that I am the type of person who lives to live a dream. I am proud of the accomplishments that faith and works have blessed me with in my life. With a firm belief in God and my own abilities, I am now endeavoring to once again satisfy the stubborn dreamer that dwells within me.

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Straight Outta GQ

ben-carson-donkey-hotey11-450x321Two sides are engaged in a fierce ideological struggle to win over the hearts and minds of the citizens of the United States in order that the principles composing those ideologies might be put into effective action by a legitimate governing body.

How can this task be accomplished?  How to persuade, compel or simply overpower the opposition in order to win elected office and govern accordingly?

Here are two recent examples highlighting the opposing perspectives and differing approaches between the so called left and right on just one particular issue.  These are the modern methods of these two sides:

Ben Carson speaking publicly on responding to a mass shooter:  “Not only would I probably not cooperate with him, I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, ‘Hey, guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’

The article: Fuck Ben Carson

And his response: We should pray for them.

If I am being honest, I have made extensive use of the ‘F’ word on many an occasion and do not shirk from its usage as a variable part of speech.  However, call me old fashioned, but I still value honor between professional opponents, at least as it extends to the public realm.  Look no further to find evidence of the deterioration of not only the integrity of the media as a societal institution, but the complacency of detractors to look no further for the truth.  For if GQ says it, it must be true.

The article went on to sing further the praises of the Republican contender, “You know, the only thing more alarming than Donald Trump leading the Republican presidential field is the fact that Ben Carson is the guy right behind him. While establishment puds like Jeb! Bush and Marco Rubio can’t decide if they want to beat Trump or emulate him, the Good Doctor made it clear this week that he is not only willing to replicate Trump’s signature brand of hot-garbage-spewing, but he’ll say even DUMBER shit.”

This tripe bears witness to the incessant acrimony that plagues the leftist, progressive mentality. It never finds alleviation, and no peace of mind can assuage the perpetual hatred that these folks possess in their hearts.  There is no wise commentary, no enlightening aphorism meant to elevate the conversation and actually make progress.  There is simply name-calling, ad hominem attacks and an entirely dismissive attitude of a legitimate point-of-view.

Furthermore, the tendency of the lefty mentality is to impose this disposition onto society-at-large, seeking to further restrict onto those who agree with Dr. Carson.  Despite the attempts that have been imposed however, in the form of outright gun bans in urban areas and the adoption of gun-free zones, gun violence still mysteriously occurs where gun violence is not allowed.

Some folks don’t like guns, don’t want guns and would rather die before picking up a gun to hurt another living thing, even in self defense.  That is a perfectly acceptable position and I can support such conscientious objectors.  However, just as they have a right not to fight back, to peaceably submit in a movie theater or college classroom, the rest of us have a right not to be made dead by a tragic, sickened individual.

This really is the primal, prehistoric, primitive defense mechanism that living beings have always possessed as a means of survival:

1. Recognize threat

2. Respond to threat using fight or flight

3. If selecting flight, stretch legs

4. If selecting fight, get weapon

5. Use legs or weapon depending on previous decision, see step 2 – fight or flight

As humanity has progressed, the weaponry has progressed too.  Instead of clubs and board-with-nail, we have Sig Sauer and Glock to protect and defend. (not to mention entertain future fossil hunters)  Admittedly, there is a case to be made against personalized nuclear devices and a reasonable debate can be had as to where that line is but the current 12 v. 17 mag capacity BS is missing the shark because, once again, for the cheap seats, criminals do not obey the law.

I have my personal grudges with the positions taken on some issues by Ben Carson but on this one we agree.  And when the opposition has resorted to vulgarity and playground strategery, I think that’s game.

Mic drop.

Boom!

Walker 2024

FILE - In a Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014 file photo, Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker gives a thumbs up as he speaks at his campaign party, in West Allis, Wis.  Less than two years ago, party leaders solemnly declared after an exhaustive study that the GOP "must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform." It was critical for the party's survival, they said, to address an issue that was paramount to the nation's surging Hispanic population. But as President Obama issued a sweeping immigration order last week, some of the Republican Party's most prominent governors — likely presidential candidates among them — described immigration reform as little more than an afterthought.   (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

And then there were… still a lot.

Yet, political reality has hit home for Scott Walker who, amidst public discussion of numerous campaign missteps, has left the race before he really got started.  The Republican field is now (slightly) smaller, probably not much wiser, and has seen the first of many “top-tier” candidates become the weakest link.

On a professional level, I like and respect the work of Scott Walker.  I pull no punches when it comes to my position regarding the damaging effects that public sector unions have on an economy and Mr. Walker is a public figure who recognized economic reality, faced up to the social pressure, and made changes to turn the fiscal situation in his state around.  Furthermore, Governor Walker stood up to a recall election not because of any professional misconduct, but because of his opposition to the demands of the union organizers.

And while it’s still a bit early for a real commitment to any one candidate, I genuinely believed in Walker’s longevity and saw him as a sort of “man to beat.”  I haven’t got “my guy” yet, but Walker had been towards the top since before any campaign announcement or onslaught of Republican contenders.  He has a fighter’s spirit and stands up to bullies with bad management skills.  Who knows where we will all be four years from now but my guess is that Walker will see the national stage once again.

The truth is that in a 2016 Republican field of over a dozen candidates, the risk lies not in stepping out of line but in becoming an indistinguishable part of the Republican collective, and not the Leader of the Free World.  The fine line has always lain between straying from the pack, risking the alienation of a solid base and fitting in so well that you become an anonymous suit.  Art imitating life, imitating art, I suppose.

Politics is about winning elections and the next year is going to be a long, bitter battle to Pennsylvania Avenue.  Better to get out now, preserve the resources and some dignity, and pursue national aspirations at a later date.

As we go through the next year of intense political discourse, remember that once past the bewildering fog of campaign promise, massive ego tripping and threat-provoking threatening, the president is neither king nor emperor.  This office has always borne the weight of both unjust praise and condemnation.  But whether Republican or Democrat, there truly are intentional limitations in place, restricting what this one individual can do as President, despite the claims of any candidate.

The greater lesson here, for the politically or ambitiously inclined alike: primarily, the importance of knowing thyself, remaining true to that integrity and possessing ideologically supported policy initiatives that extend beyond the commonplace, more of the same, business as usual.  To many, 2016 seems like the perfect year for a Republican candidate; the stars have aligned to anoint the great amongst us to the highest office in the land.  But much blood and many tears will be shed along the way.

I commend Gov. Walker for the good work he has done and has yet to do.  He got out this time, on his terms, and I look forward to the time when he runs for office once again.

Politics is Everything

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“People are only exposed to what they already agree with…”  -Sen. (R-AZ) Jeff Flake (Interesting info on opposition politics)

Politics has a way of igniting passion in the human spirit.  While many will rightly cast aside such discussion as problematic, perilous and prohibitively precarious, personal devotion to an idea or belief is not so easily discarded in the name of social grace.  Individuals will still hold onto that which they deem right, albeit in deferential silence should present company warrant such a response.

Political conversations hit nerves, expose prejudice and ignorance, but they exist in order to create ideology, based upon the personal belief systems formed concerning the social and cultural.   Many folks will find that they are surrounded by the like-minded, which will only serve to reinforce, not examine or expose, preconceived ideas.  It is the hesitancy to offend in conversation, coupled with the complacency that comes with ideological comfort, that must be uprooted in order for an opinion to blossom into an informed ideology.

I have come to love, fear and respect the political world for the import that it’s dominating force has had on civilization.  This field, encompassing all others, requires that humanity, for its own survival, bring forth the wisest, most enlightened approach to life, and then impose directives by which to live onto the greater society at large.

Politics really is everything worth anything.  We only serve to dis-serve ourselves when we create socially safe zones where the mundanity of weather and traffic serve to prevent any conversational discomfort.  And in turn, a blind populace is easily manipulated.

Words and events are taken, transconfabrimated, and then delivered back to the public with fluctuating acceptance.  We live in a time when all communication can be recorded and accessed in myriad ways and yet the American populace still falls prey to the same sort of lackadaisical verification that’s evidenced in an elementary game of telephone.  Critical examination, an attribute of a vigilant electorate, is left undone.

As we continue on into the heart of political playoffs, I keep these reflective steps close to maintain nirvana politics:

– Take back the task of thought and place it upon myself.  When I hear what does not make sense, question the fact, the source and the nature of the claim.

– Recognize unsupported rhetoric in comprehendible language and thought processes, always strive to support belief with the evidence of reality.

– In politics, judgement is entirely appropriate, dare I say, essential.  Legislation and regulation that govern life will be imposed with the authority of at least one of the candidates running for any office.  Judge, judge and judge again… and base those judgements on fact.

– Restrain the certainty of principles and incorporate new information, current events while  acknowledge blinding, personal bias.  Know the reason for personal beliefs and know exactly why the opposing views run contrary.

– Read beyond the touted headline that can shield the truth from the exposure of reality.  Figure out what’s real and how things work.

We live in a divided nation.  Left and right, red and blue.  It would be dishonest for me to state that I only seek to promote involvement in politics, regardless of the chosen side.  However, the first steps in developing an ideology, and finding a candidate worth supporting, involve disseminating all of the information designed to compel the inattentive into a state of disgruntled indifference, characterized by like-minded ignoramuses existing in a fluctuating state of aggression and passivity.

“But in the end I couldn’t. For a simple reason, the same reason I left psychiatry for journalism. While science, medicine, art, poetry, architecture, chess, space, sports, number theory and all things hard and beautiful promise purity, elegance and sometimes even transcendence, they are fundamentally subordinate. In the end, they must bow to the sovereignty of politics.

Politics, the crooked timber of our communal lives, dominates everything because, in the end, everything – high and low and, most especially, high – lives or dies by politics. You can have the most advanced and efflorescent of cultures. Get your politics wrong, however, and everything stands to be swept away. This is not ancient history. This is Germany 1933… Politics is the moat, the walls, beyond which lie the barbarians. Fail to keep them at bay, and everything burns.”

– Charles Krauthammer

Life Matters

bw_cookieI was not born a poor black child.  I have always been a white male, who uses gender specific language to describe himself.  My parents, my family and most of my friends have always been white.  By most, I mean not all, and I have met, known and become friends with members of other races.  For the most part, race has simply not been an issue.

On the other hand, I do know what it’s like to be judged by my race, verbally demeaned for being white and to then, in turn, stereotype a group due to skin color.  But, my individualistic sensibilities have always taken over and I know that people are just that, individuals.  That’s the thing about radical capitalism, much to the chagrin of its detractors, in life, as in the wild, a being is only as good as the soul inside.

I also know what it’s like to be confronted by hostile law enforcement officers riding the high of a power trip.  I know what it’s like to have a gun pointed at me, with the knowledge that the man holding it has been trained to use it.  I know what it’s like to be guilty of a crime and to be caught in the act.  I know the fear-based desire to excuse my actions and turn an issue into the fault of those in power, blaming authority for my own destructive behavior.  I have since learned to accept responsibility, to balance my perception of justice and to live my life based upon the merits I deserve, as a white, heterosexual American male.

But my life does not matter.

Because to the progressive ideologues, blinded by willful frustration, I am the problem.

There is a movement rampaging through the country that seeks to divide our nation in the name of justice, peace and race.  Any good that was born out of the Black Lives Matter movement has become shrouded in sadness and vile aggression.  This vulgar display of power can be seen (here) at an event where none other than the avowed socialist Bernie Sanders was invited to speak.  He was pushed out of the way to allow a woman to take the stage and declare, among all else, that the Democratic supporters in the audience are white racists… simply because they are white.

This group invokes the in vogue “I Am…” to be completed with the name of whatever purported victim has been claimed by the racist white culture.  This personal identification seeks to take charge of a tragedy and let it be known that justice will not rest.  As this writer, a gender and Africana studies professor claims, when writing about the recent death of Sandra Bland, “in Sandra I see myself.”  This writer goes on to add that just as she “is” the victim in this truly horrific case, we white people cannot be anything but the cause of Ms. Bland’s tragic death:

“White people resist seeing themselves in the face of the oppressor. That mirror reflection is almost too much to bear. I get it. So then they resent the person that holds up the mirror. But let me just say as directly as I can: White people must begin to see themselves in the faces of the mostly white police officers who keep committing these atrocities against Black and Brown people. This will not stop until you recognize that you are them. These officers are your brothers and sisters and aunts and cousins, and sons and daughters and nieces and nephews, and friends, and church members. You are them. And they are you.”

-Side Bar: notice the use of “mostly white police officers?”

The progressive political machine saw a valuable ally in this movement.  They saw a group that was willing to take aggressive action and claim the status of perpetual victim, as promoted by the “I Am…” monicker.  And they will now reap what they sow.  The Republicans are already damned as far as this group goes, therefore, hostilities must exude towards the most liberal politician, in one of the most liberal cities in America.  And they get away with it there.  But the greater audience, the one who recognizes this charade of victimhood, will not be defined by a woman with a microphone and a penchant for unwarranted public outburst.

I am more than my race, and so are you.

I am not a racist white police officer and no metaphorical mirror will get me to see that I am.  I do not hate because of skin color and I don’t engage in willful discrimination against any group because of its race.  I do find generalities easy to communicate and I do fall back on stereotypes.  But I recognize these mental constructs for what they are and deal with individuals based upon their own merits, their own actions and their own hearts.

Unlike the “leaders” of Black Lives Matter movement, I will not be made a victim of my race.  I will not allow these saints of victimhood to create my own self-identification and then tell me that I had better work on eliminating my inner racist because “black lives matter.”  They do matter.  And as much as it may hurt to hear, so do white lives.  And Asian lives, Latinos, Eskimos, feline and canine, to say nothing about the lives of the unborn (too far?).

It’s a tragic day in the United States when a politician, a Democrat no less, cannot say openly that “all lives matter” without apologizing for it after the fact.  By singling out black lives, the movement seeks to segregate as means to annihilate any peaceful existence we might enjoy.  They will invoke the name of Martin Luther King Jr. as a permission slip to disparage other groups and cause all matter of civil unrest.

The left has seen but a glimpse of the antagonism of this mentality.  Much like the criminals in Gotham, they came to a “point of desperation. And in their desperation they turned to a [group] they didn’t fully understand.”  The Black Lives Matter movement will not be controlled because it has justice, God and Martin Luther King Jr. on its side.  And when white society does not immediately capitulate, these activists will riot, they will torch and they will blame me for their actions.

Unlike the civil rights movement, where MLK spoke of inclusiveness and the importance of white people and black people working together to secure the goals of equality and peace, this group has no tangible goal.  Society is lost in its eyes.  What remains, is pure rage.  There is no end, there can be no peace, there is no legislation that will suffice to right any perceived wrong.  What they want, is a reckoning.

“They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some… just want to watch the world burn.”

A $70,000 Reality Check

20130504_FBD002_0“We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” ― Ayn Rand

Politics is about winning elections while economics is about reality.  Fantastical idealism vs. the real world.

A difference between politicians and economists is in the questions they ask an interested audience.  The politician will ask, “what is it that you want?” and seek to gain favorability by promising those desires.  An economist will ask, “what do you want more?”  Underlying this question is the basic comprehension of the concept of a trade-off that is all but irrelevant, and potentially perilous, in populist, partisan politics.

All elements of business, welfare, investment and taxation are interconnected by the over-arching economy of a nation.  As the world has grown closer, through technological achievement and innovation, the economies of other nations also play a role and affect our own.  Economics is not necessarily good or bad in the moralistic sense but seeks to study and predict the cause and effect of particular actions based upon given rules and understood truths of human nature.  However, the values underlying business practices will determine the destiny of a business.  And such economics are not prone to sympathy, they do not care about the subjective sense of what is right.  Economics deals with what is.  It is the business of reality.

Enter Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments in Seattle, who decided a few months back that his “values-based” company would raise its minimum pay for employees to an annual $70,000.  This action was taken in the midst of other calls for an increase in the minimum wage so, predictably, Price was hailed as a hero of the working class.  This was a decision based on need, not fiscal responsibility or practical, financial, business motivations.

As Price told Time magazine back in April, “To me, once you know the right thing to do, and it’s the right thing for everybody involved and it’s going to be beneficial to everyone, it becomes a moral imperative to actually do it.”  This is undoubtedly a noble thought, on its face, but economic reality is not so forgiving.

To risk being the bearer of bad news: there is no such thing as “the right thing for everybody.”  There are only trade-offs and opportunity costs.  To spend anything, be it time or money, in one place, means that that same item cannot be used for anything else.  And with that, the economic reality of Price’s decision has now started to take effect.

Entry-level employees have seen their compensation double in some cases while those employees who worked their way up to beyond the baseline $70,000 have seen no benefit of this “moral imperative.”  Consequently, consternation and corporate conflict have now ensued.

Here is a story from the New York Times of one employee:

“Maisey McMaster was also one of the believers [of the compensation plan]. Now 26, she joined the company five years ago and worked her way up to financial manager, putting in long hours that left little time for her husband and extended family. “There’s a special culture,” where people “work hard and play hard,” she said. “I love everyone there.”

“She helped calculate whether the firm could afford to gradually raise everyone’s salary to $70,000 over a three-year period, and was initially swept up in the excitement. But the more she thought about it, the more the details gnawed at her.

“He gave raises to people who have the least skills and are the least equipped to do the job, and the ones who were taking on the most didn’t get much of a bump,” she said. To her, a fairer proposal would have been to give smaller increases with the opportunity to earn a future raise with more experience.

“A couple of days after the announcement, she decided to talk to Mr. Price.

“He treated me as if I was being selfish and only thinking about myself,” she said. “That really hurt me. I was talking about not only me, but about everyone in my position.”

Predictably, Ms. McMaster is no longer an employee of Gravity Payments.

Need, charity, the greater good all sound great to the general populace because everyone assumes that they will personally benefit from such action.  The problem with this type of business plan is that plenary payments to employees in the form or equal compensation seek to equate the inequitable characteristics of humankind.  Namely, the inherent abilities of every individual.

People are not simply clones with identical skill sets driven by ambition and dedication.  Some work very hard but not very well, others seem to skate by while exuding very little effort.  A few work hard, and well, all their lives.  The fundamental purpose of compensation is to monetarily represent all of those intangible facets of human beings.  And the only way to successfully run a business is to compensate based upon a return on the investment made in an employee.

A business owner cannot pay an employee more than that employee generates for the business in financial returns without losing money and, subsequently, going out of business.  To compensate in order to correct perceived social inequalities will only result in further inequality and financial ruin.

That, for better or worse, is economic reality.

The Insecurity of Social Security Part II

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In Part I of the Insecurity of Social Security, found here, the recent revelation of the upcoming, and entirely foreseeable, insolvency of the Social Security disability fund was discussed to some extent.  With a sense of compassion for the reader, this subject was divided into two parts to prevent snoring and glazing of the eyes.  So now, with eyes and minds refreshed, we delve into Part II.

The fiscal dilemma in which the trustees of the disability fund find themselves is essentially, very basic economics.  Not enough money, no supply, to meet the needs of the people, high demand.  You can find direct info on this fund at the website here.  As noted, “the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.”

So that’s the stated, basic purpose.  To financially assist those citizens with disabilities.  As previously stated, I believe this to be a worthwhile goal for any advanced society and from what I have found, so do others.  It is an issue that in its most basic form, truly crosses party lines.  There will be those who need financial help and there are those who can, and more importantly, will be willing, to help those in need.

To be perfectly honest, I find the notion of citizens helping citizens, of their own free will, to be an entirely plausible notion.  And it is not a position that rests solely on faith.  There have been and will continue to be organizations devoted to helping and providing assistance in all forms.  Financially generous millionaires and generous middle and lower-class members who give what money and time they can.  We do not need government compulsion to direct our benevolence or generosity.

Case and point: Grover Cleveland is not widely known as one of our foremost presidents.  But in his day, he was able to hold a firm line regarding the appropriate extent of government involvement in the lives, and charitable activity, of the American people.  In a piece from the Independent Institute, “Cleveland believed in keeping government expenditure at the minimum required to carry out essential constitutional functions.”

As president, he famously vetoed a bill that would have provided government assistance to Texas farmers suffering from drought.  Upon his veto he wrote: “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution; and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadily resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people.”  Cleveland also stated that, “the friendliness and charity of our countrymen can always be relied on to relieve their fellow citizens in misfortune.”

Nevertheless, there are detractors who raise some issues with the more privatized notion of charity.  Here is an article from the Atlantic with just such a position.  Check this piece out and see how it stands in comparison to current events.  As stated, “the government’s footprint has always grown alongside the rest of society.”  Yes, it has.  And what good does it do when that foot, causing the print, has the welfare of our society under it?

I am not so idealistic as to assume that the Federal government will pack up shop, say “Well, we gave it a go” and leave the entitlement system in the hands of private citizens.  But the fact remains, they have tried and are currently, by their own admission, failing miserably.  Meanwhile, an unintended consequence of compulsive “giving” to the state in order for that state to “give” to others is that the people will not have that money to give away, as they would choose, to those who need it most.  The middle-man gets it first and it seems that many monies are lost along the way. Unless people find a way, independently of the ineffectual bureaucratic hands, through churches and private institutions, money will always be lost, wasted and therefore, incapable of helping those for whom that money is meant.