The three richest men in America are worth more than the bottom 50 % of the rest of the country. That’s approximately 165 million people who’s combined wealth does not equal the approximate 2.67 trillion combined worth of Gates, Bezos, and Buffet.

Mr Buffet says his secretary pays more in taxes then he does. Bezos famously paid no taxes last year. Gates says he’s paid 10 billion in taxes over “the years,” but should have paid more.

Certainly Gates and his wife have engaged in philanthropic acts, as has Buffett. They get to pick and choose who and where to put their money. Bezos is inquiring on Twitter about good places to “be philanthropic”

The middle class in America is almost gone. It started going on the early 80’s with Reaganomics, which reduced the tax rate on the super rich from 70% to 28%. He assured us that the resulting “trickle down” affect from the wealth which pooled at the top, would benefit all Americans. Reagan’s Vice President George H.W. Bush, derisively called it “voodoo” economics. Trickle down economics obviously hadn’t work. If you think it has, go back and read the first paragraph. Go listen to Joe Burrow’s Heisman Trophy speech. What a guy he is!

As long as our leaders continue to cater to the rich and super rich in this country, we will never see a strong middle class again. I don’t like taxes. I paid 28% most of my working career though. I paid the same percentage of income taxes as people making millions and millions of dollars more than me. I never got those nice deductions they go either. I did what most people in my position did back in those days…..bought on credit. And that, my friends, is how they keep us in check. That’s how they keep us enslaved. Who’s not paying back money on cars, houses, student loans, credit cards, etc.? How many people take their paychecks directly to those “payday” loan companies every week and get back about 50% of what they earned, pay 50% in interest, and then renew their loans for the next week, because otherwise they don’t have enough to live.

The super rich effectively has bought the country since the 1980’s with political contributions, and even exponentially increased their hold after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010. The Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelman, George Soros….and yes, the three men mentioned in the first paragraph, can pretty much buy politicians…and have. We even know now here in Georgia how much it costs to buy yourself a seat in the Senate.

Will Americans look at things one day with clear eyes, unfettered from the propaganda of one side or the other, and choose to select people to represent and govern us who will act in our self interests? I doubt very seriously I’ll ever live to see it.

An Old Fashioned Christmas

I was talking to a friend today about Christmas,and life in general. We were both amazed at the differences. He remembers when he lived at home and there was no running water, and his folks owned two cows because he loved to drink milk so much. His Dad was a WWII vet, who spent the first 7 years back from the War mainly at the VA hospital and was never in good shape after he got out. They never had much, but his Dad steadfastly refused to take “charity” even in the form of Christmas gifts for his children. He remembered one year that a man offered some Christmas presents but his Dad refused. His Mom drove them to the man’s house and they put the presents in the trunk. After they already had them, and had them opened on Christmas morning, his Dad’s anger quelled somewhat at the site of them playing with the toys.

It was that way with a lot of our Dads from that generation.

I was a happy boy every Christmas at my Grandparents, where we usually spent Christmas, to receive my one “big” present and one little present. I also got a few more comic books to add to my burgeoning collection. Most of the time we got a few more things than that, especially after I hit my teen years and Dad’s job and pay got better. But, the joy of the younger years lingered and perhaps even outshone the later years. Having to decide what you really wanted the most…it was a story similar to Ralphie’s obsession with the “Red Ryder” BB gun.

The other thing which was exciting and which we looked forward to, was the big “brown paper bag” of goodies from the local church. There were apples, oranges, nuts, and candy. More candy than I would see at any other time of the year with the exception of Halloween. The Halloween candy was long gone, and my favorite candy of all time, the “orange slice” was in that brown bag. I was able to trade with some of the other kids at the church, and ended up with as many orange slice candy as possible. Grandpa would buy those soft peppermint sticks by the box too, and they disappeared quickly if he didn’t hide them.

….and so my friend and I talked about old times. Once a season pig killings, hunting hen eggs, eating squirrel and rabbits and churning butter. Catching fish, and going to the “little shack out back” with the Sears and Roebuck catalog sitting there waiting on us. Things most folks wouldn’t know how to do, or want to do nowadays even if they had too.

Well, I gotta go now and get on Amazon and see if they can ship that last Christmas present I need for someone special and get it here for Christmas.

Standing for the Issues

From 2013

Sometimes I wonder, where do I stand….

Not on any kind of Issues.

I am what I am, and I will be what I will be until the day I die. I am difficult. I am complex. I’m too quick to anger, and too slow to forgive.

Is there anybody else out there like this?

It really doesn’t matter because I am only a quickly aging, very insignificant old man.

Honestly, what I think and how I feel mean very little to anyone outside my immediate circle. The largest majority of the human race are this way.

We should really try harder to stand with each other, together. Revel in the warmth. Help others if they need help no matter which side of the political fence they stand. I know….it’s hard. If it was easy, the world would be at peace.

The nicest moment of the day today was when my two five year old grandchildren ran up and hugged me as I arrived to celebrate my oldest son’s birthday.

I knew I was not standing alone.

One day we all will have to stand alone. I don’t want to look back then and regret wasting time on things I cannot control, or which are not as important as I think they are.

So, I’m going to try harder. It’s the only thing I can do right now.

A Musical Rambling

My son has the 1948 model Philco combination radio/record player sitting in his house now. It’s the the one I spent countless hours sitting in front of during the first 8 years of my life.

There were radio shows on a lot. I first remember hearing people like Sid Caesar, and Red Skeleton on the radio. I remember listening to the Lone Ranger. Then there were the local radio shows. There was lots of preaching. Here locally we had “AA Tanner” and some others who I remember preaching on the radio a lot. I was a Baptist before I ever went to the first grade and just didn’t know it. A lot of my views have altered since those early years, but I still remember the musical cadence of many of those preachers…waxing and waning, I could see them swaying out and back in my mind and jumping up into the air when the spirit moved them.

We had maybe only half a dozen 33 rpm records. A lot of Perry Como, Martin and Lewis, Doris Day, and Bing Crosby. We had classical. We had some country…actually we had Hank Williams. There was a spot on the floor in front of the radio where my Mom put a throw rug. One of those round, braided really colorful ones. This was my spot. I wasn’t a very hard child to take care of. I could just be planted in front of the radio and left there. I knew how to change the records before I was potty trained really well. I imagine that caused a few “crisis moments” but really don’t remember. I had the radio, my comic books, and a little later on an old cracked baseball that the High School coach had given me, and a couple of worn out baseballs. I would get my exercise by going outside on nice afternoons and throwing those balls up into the air and them whacking them off into the distance before they hit the ground. I got really good at it.

I learned all of the songs on all of those records by heart. I thought I was a real hot shot singer. My Dad bought an Elvis 45 sometime in the mid 50’s. It was “Hound dog” and “Don’t be Cruel” I personally liked Don’t be Cruel the best. I learned those two by heart and on the night Elvis was on Ed Sullivan in 1957 he sang “Don’t be Cruel” We hadn’t had a TV very long, and when I saw “my song” being sung I jumped up and started doing my best Elvis right there in the little back closed in porch which Daddy had converted into a “den” I thought I was something…but then my Mom laughed at me….

I’m not sure if it was because she thought I was funny, or if I was doing a good job. But it embarrassed me. I’m not really sure why. Being the boy I was though…I never sang again in front of anyone for a long, long time. I would make sure nobody was around, maybe like when I was outside hitting the baseball. Maybe in the bathroom in the evenings while the water was running. Perhaps really low under the covers at night. I didn’t want to be laughed at again. I never talked to Mom or Dad about it, and they never thought anything about it, I guess. They just thought I had turned to baseball and sports.

I got talked into joining the “glee club” in the 8th grade. I think it was because I liked one of the little girls who was singing…I’m not certain. I still liked to sing, and I thought for sure that being surrounded by 15 or so other people singing would keep me from being heard. The guy who was over the glee club was Mr. John Carruth, who was also the Band director at the time. We were preparing music for Christmas, and I noticed Mr. Carruth kept leaning over and listening in my direction. He stopped the rehearsal and said “hey Bowers…sing the next verse by yourself” and I did…and so ended up doing my first solo ever of “White Christmas” at our school musical program that year.

Mr. Carruth had me sing a couple more times before he left Trion to move on to better things. I have to really thank him for giving me the boost of confidence I needed to realize that people would not laugh at me for singing by myself.

I ended up singing quite a bit in High School. We had quite a musical group of students at that time. It was the 60’s and folk bands, rock bands, and hippies were coming of age. I remember Mack Myers, and Agnew Myers, Susan Cavin and a couple more folks had a little “folk” band. They sang some Peter, Paul and Mary on stage at school. I really enjoyed it. We had a really good piano player…Ronald Whitley I believe it was. He was really great. My old buddy Dale Rosser was a good singer, and beat me out one year for soloist at Literary meet, although me and Agnew, and Johnny Brimer, and I think Randy Orr were the “barbershop” quartet and did a pretty fair job. Agnew’s Mom Ms. Sarah Myers was our “coach”…or mentor I guess you’d say. A really wonderful woman.

We had Larry Maddux and company playing country and rock and roll…I remember singing “Your Cheating Heart” with them one time at some program we were having…and from then on that dang Johnny Suits would call me “Hank” every time he saw me. Still did it when I went to work with him in 1988 at Crown Crafts. Binky Dawson and Wayne Greene were great musicians. Several went on to become Band directors like Bill Locklear.

Yes, we had great bands, great musicians, and great individualists back then. I can’t name them all because there are so many, many more. I’m not sure if it was the times, or if there was something in the Trion water. I know that several of the above named beautiful people are gone now. I don’t know all the stories…I’m just kind of on the “edge” of things when it comes to keeping up with people. It’s a shame we have lost them, because when a musical person dies, some of the music of the world dies with them, and in this day and age, unlike the day and age we grew up in, that’s something we just can’t afford much more of…..

…..and by the way Mom…I know I took that laugh the wrong way….