Saturday, March 02, 2019

Nashville is the fifth worse city in America for unfunded city retiree health care promises.

While many know that Nashville ranks as one of the worst cities in America for high per capita pubic municipal debt, what is often not know is that Nashville has an enormous hidden debt.  That hidden debt is not debt that shows up on a balance sheet but is the unfunded retiree health care promises. An article appearing in Frobes magazine dated Jan. 29, 2019 found that Nashville was the fifth worse city in America for unfunded city retiree health care promises.

The following table shows cities with the largest difference in reported vs. total unfunded retiree health care promises, or hidden debt.

This is bad. It needs to be taken seriously. The amount of reported debt makes us the second worse city in America but this hidden debt is just as real. 

As our school continue to get worse, as crime increases, roads go unpaved, employees go without pay raises and essential services suffer, we continue to handout corporate welfare and whistle past the graveyard. We continue to look okay but we are in denial.  Much of the growth is the result of corporate welfare. We are continuing to grow and tourism is booming but the growth does not pay for itself and it puts more pressure on infrastructure and creates new problems and more demand for expanded services. If we should have another flood like 2010, or another great recession like 2007, or lose a sports franchise, or if Nashville should find itself as no longer the favored city for tourism, we could be facing a crisis. It is more important than ever that we elect to public office fiscally responsible people.

We are in a much worse financial situation than those cities to which we are often compared such as Charlottesville or Austin Texas which are not on the list.  We are in worse financial shape than Atlanta or New Orleans. 

There are progressive  Nashvillians who would like to make Nashville the San Francisco of the South.  We may not be there socially yet, but we are already there fiscally. 

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Bill to close party primaries in Tennesee fails in committee.

In December the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee voted to support "closed primaries" and party registration in Tennessee. Legislation to accomplish that was introduced in February.  That fight is now most likely over, at least for this session of the legislature. If the bill passes in the Senate committee to which it is assigned, it could still pass but failing in a House committee was a damaging blow to the bill. In the Senate, the bill has been deferred to the Senate State and Local Government Committee and that committee has  deferred the bill to March 19th.

The House Local Committee voted against the bill with two in favor and 14 opposed.  Voting in favor of the bill were Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah) and Tim Rudd (R-Murfreesboro).

Voting against the bill were Kent Calfee (R-Kingston), Dale Carr (R-Sevierville), John Crawford (R-Kingsport), Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), Bob Freeman (D-Nashville), Esther Helton (R-East Ridge), Jerome Moon (R-Maryville), Gloria Johnson (R-Knoxville), London Lamar (D-Memphis), Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville), Rick Tillis (R-Lewisburg), Ron Travis (R-Dayton) , Dave Wright (R-Corryton), and Yusuf Hakeem (D-Chattanooga).

I do not support closed primaries.  To read my commentary on the bill follow this link. To read the bill and follow legislative action follow this link

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Sen. Alexander: Trump Can Build Border Wall Without “Dangerous National Emergency Precedent”

"I support what the president wants to do on border security, but not the way he has been advised to do it. There has never been an instance where a president has asked for funding, Congress refused it, and the president then used the National Emergencies Act to justify spending the money anyway.  If President Trump can build a wall when Congress has refused to provide the funding, then the next president can declare a national emergency and tear the wall down or declare a climate change emergency and stop oil exports and offshore drilling. There is no limit to the imagination of what the next leftwing president could do to harm our country with this precedent.” – Senator Lamar Alexander

** Click here for video of the Senators remarks **
Press release, WASHINGTON, D.C., February 28, 2019 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today that President Trump already has congressional funding authority to build the wall he wants on the southern border without resorting to a “dangerous national emergency precedent.” In an address on the Senate floor, he urged the president to ask his lawyers to “take a second look” at existing funding authorities that don’t require a national emergency when he returns from his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“I support what the president wants to do on border security, but not the way he has been advised to do it. It is unnecessary and unwise to turn a border crisis into a constitutional crisis about separation of powers when the president already has congressional funding authority to build the 234 miles of border wall that he requested in his January 6 letter to the Senate,” Alexander said.

“There has never been an instance where a president has asked for funding, Congress refused it, and the president then used the National Emergencies Act to justify spending the money anyway. If President Trump can build a wall when Congress has refused to provide the funding, then the next president can declare a national emergency and tear the wall down or declare a climate change emergency and stop oil exports and offshore drilling. There is no limit to the imagination of what the next leftwing president could do to harm our country with this precedent.”

Alexander said, “After an American revolution against a king, our founders chose not to create a chief executive who could tax the people and spend their money any way he chose. The Constitution gave that responsibility exclusively to a Congress elected by the people, and every one of us United States senators has sworn an oath to support that Constitution. Separation of those powers is a crucial constitutional imperative that goes to the heart of our freedom.”

Quoting the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Alexander said that the “genius of the American constitutional system is the dispersal of power. Once power is centralized in one person, or one part of government, the Bill of Rights is just words of paper.”

The senator continued, “There is a way the president can avoid this dangerous precedent completely: he can use the congressional funding authority he already has to build the 234 miles of wall that he asked Congress to approve in his January 6 letter to the Senate.”
The senator offered this analysis of existing funding authority that could be used to support building the wall that the president has requested: “If my analysis is incorrect,” he said, “I hope that the president’s lawyers will tell me.”
  • One January 6, in his letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, the president requested $5.7 billion to build 234 miles of new physical barrier on the southern border.
  • On February 14, Congress passed the Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which provided $1.375 billion to build 55 miles that the president asked for.
  • On February 15, the day he signed the Homeland Security Appropriations bill, President Trump announced that he would use two additional sources of funds that already had been approved by Congress which could be used to fund the border wall:
  1. About $601 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund.
  2. Up to $2.5 billion from other Department of Defense accounts to support counter drug activities and block drug-smuggling corridors across international boundaries. The president is authorized to do this because of a provision in law that allows him to transfer up to $4 billion among accounts at the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense budget is over $600 billion. 
The senator said that these three sources of funds added up to about $4.5 billion, or $1.2 billion less than the $5.7 billion the president requested in his January 6 letter. “So by transferring $3.7 billion – instead of $2.5 billion – from Department of Defense accounts to support counter drug activities, the president would be able to build the 234 miles of wall he requested and would not need to declare a national emergency. To be specific, this means the president would use: $1.375 billion from the Homeland Security Appropriations bill; $601 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund; and $3.7 billion from Department of Defense accounts to support counter drug activities.”

“Using funds already approved by Congress avoids the constitutional crisis of separation of powers,” Alexander said. “It avoids establishing a dangerous precedent, which could be misused by subsequent presidents. It avoids taking money for military construction projects specifically approved by Congress such as military barracks and hospitals. And it also avoids months or years of litigation, which could make it unlikely the full 234 miles are ever built.”

The senator concluded, “It may be a couple of weeks before the Senate votes on a resolution regarding the national emergency declaration so there is time for the president’s lawyers to take another look and determine whether we can both build the 234 miles of border wall that the president requested and avoid this dangerous precedent.”

Rod's Comment: I am in total agreement with Senator Alexander. It is sad to see Republicans abandon their fidelity to the Constitutions when they were so critical of Obama's unconstitutional actions. I think the constitution should matter no matter who is n the oval office.

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Fran Bush, "Our district is falling apart and we are doing nothing."

Fran Bush
by Rod Williams, Feb. 28, 2019 - Another day; another contentious day at Metro Schools.

Recently the School Board commissioned an outside audit of the human resources department. The audit was conducted by Bone McAllester Norton PLLC and is described by The Tennessean as "scathing." The audit found plenty wrong.

The audit found there were a lack of communication regarding standards, procedures and expectations and this had led to low morale among employees. It found that there were problems with hiring of teachers and that the hiring process was complicated and that well-qualified teacher applicants did not take jobs with the district due to HR delays. It found there was a problem with the way HR conducted investigations and that there was "virtually no consistency in the way investigations are completed by individual investigators." Some of the investigators had no training in how to conduct investigations.

The audit also found there was a problem with how the board reports to the Tennessee State Board of Education when a teacher is placed on leave, suspended or recommended for charges of dismissal. The HR office fails to notify the State in a timely manner.

The report was not intended to be released to the public.  The School Board used the flimsy argument that since it was prepared by an attorney, it was protected by attorney-client privilege. Luckily someone, probably one of Joseph's School Board member critics, released the report to the press.  Following the release of the audit, or perhaps even before, Board members Amy Frogge, Jill Speering and Fran Bush had called for the firing of Director of Schools, Shawn Joseph.  School Board chair Sharon Gentry is a staunch defender of Joseph and said of whoever leaked the report that they had "weaponize it to malign the reputation of the leader of this district during budget season."

Last Tuesday the Board met in a "working session" to address the issues raised in the audit. Human Resources Director Deborah Story made a presentation to the Board addressing the findings of the audit. According to The Tennessean, the meeting became very contentious. Fran Bush was very critical about the actions of the Human Resources department and said, "Our district is falling apart and we are doing nothing."  She said Story was covering up Joseph's wrongdoing and trying to cover for him. School Board member  Gini Pupo-Walker insulted Bush by apologizing to Story for Bush's comments.

Things are a total mess at the School Board and our schools are failing.  There are probably lots of changes that need to be made, but the most important thing that could happen is that the School Board needs new leadership. It need not to not renew Josephs contract and needs to begin the search for a new director.

In the meantime, I looked at the petition on calling for the ouster of  Fran Bush and it seems to have fizzled out. As of today, it has only 258 signers, only having gained eight in the last week.  Good! We need people like Fran Bush on the school board who will boldly call out Joseph's incompetence and mismanagement of metro schools.

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What causes a 12-year-old girl to commit cold-blooded murder of a random stranger?

by Rod Williams - In February five teenagers murdered Kyle Yorlets, a 24 year old Nashville musician. Yorlets was originally from Carlisle, Pennsylvania but moved to Nashville to pursue his education and music. He was a recent graduate of Belmont University and was a member of a rock band called Carverton.

The accused murderers are three girls ages 12, 14 and 15, and two boys, ages 13 and 16.  Kyle Yorlets was murdered in the yard of his home in the middle of the day.  Police say Yorlets was a random victim. He was not targeted, but just happened to encounter the kids. Reports say the kids were in a stolen pickup truck in an alley that runs behind Yorlets' home. They saw Yorlets outside. At gun point they robbed Yorlets of his wallet, and told him to hand over the keys to his vehicle. Police seem to think that Yorlets was shot when he refused to give the kids the keys to his car.

When I first heard this story, I was shocked.  I have one daughter who is grown but I stopped to recall what she was like at age twelve. That is the seventh grade for most 12 year olds. Most 12 year old girls are just starting to notice boys. They may be too old for Barbie, but not by much. I recalled nieces and nephews and what they were like at ages 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16.  That a 12-year old girl is capable of cold blooded murder is so foreign to me.  I know that by age 16, some boys are at a point where it is easy to fall into mischief,  if they have no guidance and discipline.  Even good kids can get into trouble by age 16.  But a twelve year old and a thirteen year old shooting a man in cold blood? It is hard to fathom.  That they were girls even makes it harder to accept.  In general, I think of boys as more capable of doing something like this than girls.

The children have been charged as adults. Following this murder, there has been lots of news coverage and hand-wringing. A lot of attention has been focused on the need for Juvenile Justice reform.  Comments by State Senator Sen. Raumesh Akbari of Memphis reflect what many feel: “When you have children that young participating in that high level of a dangerous crime, I feel like somewhere along the way there was an intervention that wasn’t taken and we failed those kids.”

Who can disagree with that?  Maybe, if we had a more perfect juvenile justice system, these kids could have been turned from the path that led to this terrible tragedy.  Prior to this tragic murder, an 18-member special committee had been created by Governor Bill Haslam to identify gaps in the system and help children before they commit violent crime.  Several people mentioned the work of this committee, hoping it can make meaningful changes that will prevent future juvenile crime. State Rep. Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, said he hoped the group would take a comprehensive approach that extended beyond the courtroom and examined schools, mental health services and the criminal justice system for young offenders.

That is a good goal. We should look at schools and mental health services and the criminal justice system for young offenders.  As reported in the Tennessean, Nashville police Lt. Blaine Whited, who supervises the police department's Juvenile Crime Task Force, said his officers often rearrest the same juveniles over and over again.  He said there is "problem in the system."  Since the police task force was formed last February, 222 minors have been charged with crime and during the year, the Police arrested 101 of them more than once.

There is a "problem in the system," but I think we need to look deeper than the schools, the mental health services, and the justice system.  What is wrong with society, that leads to this?  It is not often that 12-year-old girls commit murder, but juvenile crime in general is a problem and it appears to be getting worse, not better. 

Some would offer a simple answer and say society took a wrong turn when we banned school prayer. I think there may be validity to that. I think starting the day with a solemn acknowledgement of God whose blessing we seek and whose will we should try to follow inculcates a common sense of morality.  It causes people to stop and say to themselves, I ought to try to be a good person.  In a society with so many different religions, however, I don't know how one can acknowledge God without offending others who have a different concept of God. As difficult as it may be to reintroduce prayer into the school without violating Supreme Court ruling, I think it is a goal worth pursuing. it may help.  That may be impossible to achieve, however, and would take a very long time and don't think that in and of itself that would resolve the problem.

A problem I see is that we are so conditioned and intimidated by political correctness that we are in denial of societal problems rather than trying to solve societal problems.  While the problem of crime and violence cuts across class and race lines, we should acknowledge that crime is a problem that plagues the Black community more than others.  Instead, we bend over backwards to make it impossible to acknowledge this.  When schools punish Black kids more than white kids, rather than acknowledge that Black kids may commit more offenses than White kids, we chastise the schools for unequal treatment and racial profiling and accuse teachers of bigotry. A good place to start in addressing problems is to acknowledge the truth.

I don't know anything about the kids who committed this senseless murder other than their sex and age which I read in the paper.  I am going to bet however, that one thing they have in common is that their is no father in the home. This is a problem, about which we are in denial and it is impolite to observe that having intact families makes for a better society.

Fathers matter. Seventy-one per cent of high school dropouts are fatherless. Fatherless children do less well in school, scoring less well on tests of reading, math, and reasoning skills. Eighty-five percent of youth in prison are from fatherless homes. Girls from fatherless homes are more likely to become sexual active earlier and are more likely to themselves become unwed mothers. Ninety percent of  runaway children are from fatherless homes. From drug abuse to sexual abuse to any number of measures of well-being, children from intact families fare much better than children without a father in the home.  The data is easy to find. Father Absence, Father Deficit, Father Hunger by Dr. Edward Kirk writing in Psychology Today provides a good analysis.

If we acknowledge that fatherless children is a problem, what as a society do we do about it?  There are no easy answers. A good starting place is simply to acknowledge it. The welfare system is a problem.  There are public benefits that drive families apart or keep families from forming.  A single women with two children may qualify for benefits such as housing, food stamps, and health care that if she were married to the father of the children, the combined income of the two parents would make the family ineligible for assistance. To qualify for these public benefits, the parents may just live together and get the welfare but not get married. Unmarried parents living together do not prove as stable of a family structure as when the parents are actually married. 

The role of this "marriage penalty" needs to be acknowledges and addressed. One approach would be to abolish all welfare benefits and replace them with a guaranteed national income.  There may be other less drastic solutions but the fact that welfare is a cause of fatherless families should be acknowledged. There are also tax structure issues that could be changed to favor marriage.

Persuasion can go a long way in changing values and behavior.  I think there is a public interest in promoting the value of families.  Just as there was a pubic campaign to persuade people to reduce litter, wear seat belts, and stop smoking, there should be a public campaign to persuade people to wait to have children until after they are married. Advertising campaigns could feature a contrast showing a single mother of two labeled "the face of poverty," and a father, mother and two children labeled "the face of success."  The facts of the devastating impact of father less families should be featured in public service announcements so that everyone knows that children born to single mothers are more likely to do poorly in school, to live in poverty, become runaways, to get pregnant early, and to go to prison.

Also, condemnation and societal pressure can change behavior.  In modern America, one of the things we are most judgmental about is being judgmental.  We have embraced absence of moral values as a moral value. To disapprove of another's behavior and to show your disapproval is considered mean.  We need to began to change that.  Bringing children into the world without a father should be stigmatized.  We have almost made being a single mother a badge of honor and something to be celebrated.  I think it should be something to be condemned and the children pitied.  Single women who have children should be embarrassed and ashamed. Also all "single mothers" should not be put into the same basket. The media always refers to all single women raising children as a "single mother."  We should change that and recognized that there are "widowed mothers," "divorced mothers," and "unwed mothers."  Being an unwed mother should not be a badge of honor.

For more on the murder of Kyle Yorlets and related stories, follow these links: link, link, link, and link.   For more on the issue of fatherless children, follow these links: link, link, link, and link


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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Carol Swain is exploring running for mayor again.

by Rod Williams - Carol Swain, African-American conservative author and former Vanderbilt professor, is exploring running for mayor again. She is forming a campaign staff and has let it be know she may run. She ran for mayor last year in the special election to fill the remainder of Megan Barry's term who resigned in disgrace after her affair with her police bodyguard and the misuse of public funds came to light.  Upon Barry's resignation, Vice Mayor David Briley became acting mayor until the special election to elect Barry's successor.  Bailey won that election with 54% of the vote, Swain got 23% and the remaining vote was split among eleven other candidates. 

I think Briley is vulnerable.  Employees did not get their promised pay raise and they are mad, our schools are failing, the city is rocked by scandals of cronyism and misuse of funds, we have the second highest debt burden of any city in America and we are the fourteenth most dangerous city in America. Our police department, fire department and schools are understaffed and our roads are filled with potholes.  People see massive growth and yet the city is broke.

Briley has already picked up a challenger in State Rep. John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) who in mid-January announced his candidacy.  Clemmons appears every bit as liberal as David Briley, but he has more charisma and is better looking and while those things maybe shouldn't matter, they do.  A person who it was assumed would seek the office but who has since stated he would not run, is Councilman-at-large John Cooper. I was disappointing that he will not be running for the office.  He is one of the council members most knowledgeable about the city's finances.  I don't know if he is as liberal on social issues as is Briley and as was Barry, but he is fiscally responsible and I thought he would be a good person to get the city's debt under control and our fiscal house in order. I would have supported him if he ran.

It is expected that Bill Freeman, a major national Democrat Party fundraiser, Nashville Developer and owner of the Nashville Scene will seek election. If he does, he will probably be the top challenger to David Briley. In the 2015 election which resulted in a runoff between David Fox and Megan Barry, Freeman came in, in third place.  Another potential candidate is African-American Councilwomen-at-large Erica Gilmore. Neither of those appeal to me. If Briley, Clemmons, Freeman and Gilmore were the only choices, I might could be persuaded to vote for Freeman, but probably not.  If those were the only choices, I might write in a name or just not vote in the mayor's race. 

If there was a sensible pragmatic fiscally responsible challenger to Briley, such as John Cooper I would support such a person even if they mouthed liberal platitudes. Since, I see no such person running, I will be pleased if Carol Swain runs.  I will vote for her.  Unfortunately, I would not expect her to win. Her conservative view are too well known. She is often labeled as homophobic and Islamophobic by her critics.  She describes her political affiliation as "a Christian first, a conservative second and a Republican third." Nashville is not a hospitable place for Christians, conservatives, or Republicans.

My perception is that Nashville is even more liberal now than in 2015 when we elected Megan Barry.  As the demographics shift to younger people and more Northeastern and California immigrants, the chance for a conservative candidate to be elected mayor dims.  Many of these newer immigrants to our city may not care a lot about the details of local governance and particular policy positions but they will vote for the candidate that they perceive as the most liberal. Issues like being pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, pro-illegal immigration, pro-Green New Deal, favoring removing confederate names and monument (not that we have many) and racial "social justice" are going to be more important than the city's debt, tax rates and an adequately funded pension plans. I hate to be so pessimistic but I do not see an opportunity for a path to victory for any conservative, especially an outspoken social and cultural conservative.

For more, follow this link and this link

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Councilman Robert Swope's Reelection Campaign Kickoff Event

Robert Swope is one of two solid conservatives in the Metro Council. He needs to reelected. I plan on attending his fundraiser. Please join me.

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Citizens Police Academy begins March 2. Application Deadline 2/28/19

The Nashville Police Department is pleased to announce that the spring session of our popular Citizen Police Academy will begin Tuesday, March 5.  Nashvillians interested in learning about the inner workings and law enforcement strategies of their police department are cordially invited to apply for this FREE 12-week course.  This will be the 42nd session of the CPA since the program began in 1995.
          Classes will be held on Tuesday nights from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. through May 23rd (graduation will be on a Thursday night) at the MNPD Training Academy, 2715 Tucker Road.  Because class size is limited, interested persons are urged to apply nowThe deadline for applications is 5 p.m. February 28.
          Participants will learn about police work through the perspective of a variety of guest speakers, including members of the police department’s specialized components.  Topics will include gangs, narcotics enforcement, domestic violence, traffic/DUI enforcement, internet crimes, emergency preparedness, crime prevention and the judicial process.  There will also be a tour of the Emergency Communications Center and a demonstration by the Aviation, Canine and Mounted Units.
          “The Citizen Police Academy provides a unique view of this department and Nashville’s law enforcement professionals,” Chief Steve Anderson said.  “We work to make classes interesting and fun for all participants.  Class members will come away each week with knowledge about police work that they didn’t have before.”
          Each applicant should commit to attending at least 9 of the 12 sessions, be a Davidson County resident/business owner at least 21years old, and have no arrest record (excluding minor traffic violations).  While completion of the course gives citizens an understanding of the workings of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, it does not make a participant a certified law enforcement officer, nor is it designed to train citizens to perform law enforcement duties.  Applications can be submitted on the Internet by logging onto

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Bellevue Republican Breakfast Club special guest Sen. Jack Johnson, March 2.

From Betty Hood:

Sen. Jack Johnson
Dear BRBC Friends,

You are invited to join us at 8:15 am on March 2 at the Corner Pub in the Woods on Hwy  100 for our monthly breakfast club.  We welcome Senator Jack Johnson, our new Senate Majority Leader, as the speaker.  After his presentation, there will be time for Q and A.

Hope you can be there.


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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Gov. Bill Lee guest speaker at 1st Tuesday, March 5th

From Tim Skow:
1ST TUESDAY Members and  Friends 
Many of you will remember the TV ad line ....  ''Membership has its Privileges'' 

Our next invite needs little context, background or hype. 

On Monday March 4th, Gov. Bill Lee will deliver his 1st [of 8]  STATE of the STATE addresses to
Bill Lee
the TN Legislature

Tuesday March 5th, Governor Lee will join us at 1ST TUESDAY 

As usual, doors at WALLER Law [ 511 Union Street -27th floor] will open at 11AM.  Lunch at 11:30.
Program launches at NOON with the VERY frank and insightful Q&A concluding at 1:00pm 

At NOON on Saturday, our website will start taking prepaid lunch payments for 2019 MEMBERS ... 
[ yes! For those who have paid 2019 dues.] 
So ''Join Us'' if you haven't already! AND encourage ''FRIENDS'' to join us at ] 

As of Noon on Tuesday,  we will begin taking prepaid reservations via the website for those wishing to come who are GUESTS of 1ST TUESDAY Members.

This event WILL SELL OUT !  So please, if you wish to join us on TUESDAY, March 5th [ YES1ST TUESDAY] 
Please don't wait to secure your seating for you .. [ and then on Tuesday secure seats if any remain for those you know] 

Look forward to seeing you at 1ST TUESDAY on 1ST TUESDAY, March 5th !!

Till then, stay dry!!

Tim Skow

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A one-minute video explanation of fractional reserve banking.

Occasionally I encounter people who are highly opinionated but not well-informed about the topic they are highly opinionated about. Such it is with the issue of the Federal Reserve. If one is going to discuss the topic, at a minimum they should understand the concept of Fractional Reserve. Above is the one-minute video that explains it. Here is the text that explains the video:

A one-minute video explanation of fractional reserve banking. As you'll be able to find out, commercial banks and not central banks create most of the money in existence through a mechanism called fractional reserve banking. Fractional reserve banking may seem complicated but understanding the basics isn't all that difficult, as you'll be able to find out.

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