Fleeing California

Like Warren Buffett’s opinion of windmills, my opinion of college came with a caveat, not without subsidies.

My dad was a stockbroker and 1970 was a down year. We talked about the future. He couldn’t afford the money and I couldn’t afford the time.

Sure, I learned some interesting things, like how to budget my time, unlike high school where I was treated like a child or a convict. I learned that white is all colors. A prism or a rainbow separates it into different wave lengths (or colors). Black is lack of color. Most of all, I learned that criticism is a gift, not an offense.

I hung around Oakland for a couple years after that, somehow making a living. Frugality is a key component to that. Beans and rice have almost the same amino acid balance as steak. But things were going downhill. I took a job in Sausalito, across the bay north of San Francisco. I hitched over there and spent six nights a week sleeping on the dining room floor. I did all the maintenance inside and out, helped the cook, and washed dishes. I was allowed to eat anything there but steak, and have all the beer I wanted.

Meanwhile, the students and other misfits who lived at the Oakland Avenue house drifted away and were replaced by junkies. My record collection along with every other thing of value went into some jerk’s arm so he could throw up on my compost pile. And those records cost $2.50 apiece! While I was busy at the restaurant, my house seemed to change overnight, like a sped-up version of the State of California.

I had a plan. Well actually I didn’t. I went to Sumitomo Bank to draw out my $56 rent money for the month, having given up on Peter Sellers adopting me. When my passbook came back I found that there were 120 extra dollars in my savings account. The landlord was due to stop by for the rent the next morning so I went “home” and crashed for the night. I handed over the $56 and said it would be my last. He looked at me as if to say, “I don’t blame you and good luck.”

That next week I was weeding the pea rock around the restaurant and pulled up a dandelion. Wouldn’t you know it, under those spreading leaves was a folded $100 bill. I think I ran in and kissed the cook but I can’t remember for sure. Actually, I can’t remember the name of the restaurant either.

The cook had a 1959 bug and sold it to me for $200. If there was anything I thought to be important besides starting and running, it was stopping. So I grabbed my Idiot’s Guide and rebuilt the brakes. The cook said two week’s notice was too long so he let me work another week. I stopped by the bank and closed the account, basically stealing the money. Let’s just call it an unemployment extension. Basically the same thing.

My crazy friend Cary and I painted the roof silver to keep it cool inside and headed east, staying on gravel whenever we could. That bug only went half as far on a gallon of fuel as the modern VW we have now. And some power hungry maniac didn’t mandate it to be so. The better mileage was accomplished through a desire for profits.

Those who have heard this story before know that I paid back the bank. 

Leave Russia Alone

Ronald Reagan was governor of California when I was in high school. Since my school was in Newport Beach (even swankier now than then), Reagan came to speak. I was in the back row.

Semesters for us seniors were either civics or social studies. It was my turn to take social studies so I was not allowed to ask questions, or so they thought. There was a pause in the action and I stood up and yelled, “Why is marijuana illegal?” The Gipper shuffled nervously, finding his words. “Why, do you know when you buy that stuff it supports organized crime?” he said. Critical thinkers will see he made my point for me. I chose not to support organized crime.

Yeah, I was kinda screwed up, owing to my folks’ divorce at a fragile age. But like John Prine said, “I didn’t kill anyone.” I don’t endorse mind altering substances so don’t construe this as such.

I knew Patti Davis, Reagan’s daughter, and ran into him a couple other times. Once was when I was sailing our 12′ sailboat in the harbor. Along came the Wild Goose, a PT boat that John Wayne had converted into a yacht. Sitting on the stern having cocktails were Reagan, The Duke, and Barry Goldwater.

More importantly, unlike the evil characters surrounding Trump’s presidency, Reagan brought true higher level thinkers.

One of those is David Stockman. He recently wrote about the Russian threat. As I was bell ringing a couple weeks ago a friend came up and mentioned the 100,000 soldiers Russia has stationed on their border with Ukraine. He was alarmed at the possible invasion by Russia into Ukraine.

NATO was once worth supporting. The U.S.S.R was constantly going on about international communism. Today Russia is still a second rate power reeling from the inevitable failure of Soviet socialism. To portray Russia as more than that is purely a sales pitch for more unnecessary military spending and welfare for rich Europeans.

Russian GDP is 7% of the gross domestic product of the United States. Russian annual military spending amounts to 32 days of ours. European lobbyists rightly believe Americans to be a bunch of chumps. The GDP of European NATO nations is 11 times greater than that of Russia. To claim we are allies and they need our help defending themselves from an aggressive Russia is silly.

With all the saber rattling from “defense” industry mouth pieces, you’d think Russia was on the brink of a European invasion but they are just standing their ground. Back in 2014 a Ukrainian president was elected and soon deposed in a U.S. orchestrated coup because he wished to be aligned with Russia rather than NATO. Victoria Nuland, acting for President Obama, led the operation falsely portrayed as a popular uprising. We were the aggressor.

Ronald Reagan is often thought of as bringing down the Soviets through threats of military might. This is because it keeps the gravy train of military spending flowing to “defense” focused industries. These hawks ignore the fact that Soviet socialism destroyed their work ethic and Soviet military adventurism finished them off.

It’s time we refused to let our military men and women (and taxpayers) be abused by these so-called leaders trumping up foreign scuffles as consequential enough to spill a single drop of American blood.

Let’s keep our military a defensive force to be reckoned with rather than a watered down social experiment.