Friday, June 28, 2013

Building a "Rio Grand Canal" along full border with Mexico is a trifecta!

A canal that's wide enough and deep enough for oil tanker, cargo ship, and naval vessel traffic will help solve 3 major issues: US border security, defense mobility-efficiency, and economic-job growth.

Only the Panama Canal prevents all ships from having to go down and around the South American continent, which is a much longer, and much more dangerous ocean route.

US border security can't get much stronger than a wide, deep waterway. That prevents both underground and overland illegal border crossings, and limits border crossings to bridges, airplane, and boats.

With increasing emphasis on Pacific Rim military security, rapid-response, multiple theater, special forces, and terrorism by the US national security community, the concern over sudden blockage of the Panama Canal grows. The national security value becomes as important, if not more important than border security.


Loss of access to the Panama Canal would strike a major blow to US commercial shipping as well as military mobility. Such a logistics nightmare scenario would through the U.S. into recession and shock the prices of many goods, given how much travels through the Panama Canal. Isn't that a border security issue too?

Now think about the positive side in economic-jobs issues how many jobs would be created by excavating and dredging a Rio Grand Canal -- both in the U.S. and in Mexico.


Imagine how many jobs would be created just by digging the canal. Imagine how many jobs would be created by serving the needs of all of the canal building employees.

Imagine how many jobs would be created by the build-up along the shores -- U.S. and Mexican.


Imagine how many people who would have tried to cross the U.S.-Mexican border would instead find jobs related to the new canal. Isn't that a major, and positive, effect on border security?


Imagine the economic growth and flexibility from a series of ports built along both U.S. and Mexican shores of a Rio Grand Canal. The land value of what are now mostly dessert acres would soar. Access to water, even if desalination were required for drinking and farming, would greatly help the persistent and growing water shortages in the entire Southwestern region of the U.S. and Northern region of Mexico and support economic growth in both countries.

Building a long canal to connect major bodies of water for economic development as well as national security is not a new idea. It's been done successfully in the past and even being done now.

In the 1800's the Erie Canal was built connected New York City harbor for the Atlantic Ocean with the St. Lawrence Seaway for the Great Lakes Mid-West ... as well as all of the towns that sprang up along the canal. Of course, in the 1800's, Canada was part of England, with whom we'd just fought 2 wars (Revolutionary War and War of 1812) and where the New York waterways and forts played major roles.


Even today,  China is building the Grand Canal to connect its inland cities and farms to the Pacific Oceans and coastal centers.

Yes, building the Rio Grand Canal would be very expensive. But the return on that investment would be immediate and much greater.

By Steve Reichenstein

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Why does NSA outsource the security and privacy of our nation?

Yes, I'm concerned about the government violating our Constitution Bill of Rights. I never supported those parts of the Patriot Act which impinge on 4th amendment protection from unreasonable search and seizure. 

Better coordination and sharing of information between intelligence and law enforcement agencies makes sense, as do other elements. But our government should -- and must -- competently do its job without violating the 4th amendment. 

Remember the warning by Benjamin Franklin: "Any society that would trade a little liberty for a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

Deciding between privacy and security is a FALSE CHOICE.

I believe, as did our Founding Fathers in writing our Constitution and Bill of Rights, that government CAN fulfill its responsibilities to protect both our security AND privacy within the Constitution Bill of Rights, period. 

Government just needs to be increasingly more competent to do so -- to apply the new technologies, old technologies, and lessons learned with stricter action points.

Competence should be under the microscope. Also, outsourcing should be under the microscope. 

The Edward Snowden incident conveniently has put both of these issues front and center -- in the NSA as well as elsewhere in the government's critical services, such as all military, policing, prisons-judicial, NRC, and IRS.

How much have new technologies and analytics improved government competence in protecting BOTH security and privacy? How has outsourcing impacted capabilities and competence -- improved or detracted? 

Outsourcing our privacy and security concerns me enough to write this blog post at this time.

Outsourcing the privacy and security of We the People is the topic of this post and should concern every taxpayer.

I support the great work of the NSA, CIA, and other brave patriots defending our country. I'm not picking on the NSA or any other agency. I'm concerned about the contracting-outsourcing practice as it relates to our privacy and security.

The under-reported, under-discussed issue is that our government outsources our security ... and privacy ... to companies which then hire away government employees and return them to government jobs at much higher compensation plus profit for the outsourcing company. 

Why doesn't the NSA hire employees, especially to handle such sensitive information? Why didn't the NSA either transfer from CIA to NSA or just hire away Edward Snowden?

If cost of employment is what will attract (away from other prospective employers) the trained, talented, and experienced employees that government needs in order to fulfill its responsibilities, then we should improve the compensation packages. These are not areas of government where we should pinch pennies. We're paying that much ... and more in contractor profits ... now by outsourcing!

Clearly, as we now see, the use of much more expensive private sector employees does not increase NSA competence. Edward Snowden affair being a prime example ... and the one now known to the taxpayers. 

Paying more for private sector employees who left public employment just for the purpose of doing the same jobs for more money is tantamount to corruption or conspiracy to defraud our government. It's also an affront to our public employees doing the right thing. And, it's a blatant waste of taxpayers' dollars.

Further, if these private "middleman" companies are going to suck profits out of the taxpayers for arranging for public employees to go private for higher compensation, then these companies also should bear the burden, culpability, and liability. 

Outsourcing government employee jobs, often in order to pay government employees much more and, perhaps, just to leech from the taxpayers, is epidemic in the U.S. government (and probably at the state, county and local levels too). 

Congress should hold public hearings and elected officials should be held accountable on the campaign trail to justify or condemn it.

What do you think?

Steve Reichenstein

Monday, June 10, 2013

"Governor Christie, why are you spending an extra $12-million of our money on an extra general election day?"

Dear Governor Christie:

Spending $12-million on a special general election to fill Senator Lautenberg's seat when our regularly scheduled and budgeted general election day is only 3 weeks later betrays taxpayers trust.

I thank you for finding an extra $12-million bonanza of unnecessary taxpayers' money being collected ... but ...

But if you can find an extra $12-million for an unnecessary, extra election day to fill Senator Lautenberg's seat, then you should return the money to us, the taxpayers.

Governor Christie, here are a few ideas for returning the extra $12-million to taxpayers without the further expense of issuing and mailing us checks:

(1) Eliminate the $13.5-million Public Utilities Excise Tax

(2) Reduce the $191-million Realty Transfer Tax, which would save the average home purchaser approximately $300 (Aren't we trying to revive the housing market?)

(3) Help out businesses by reducing the $80-million Corporate Energy Tax

(4) Chip away at the $535-million Motor Fuels Tax.

I'm sure you can find other taxes to cut as well.

Governor Christie, if you believe that it's important that our $12-million bonanza be spent -- you know, to boost the economy -- then here are a few items that should be higher on your list than an extra, unnecessary general election:

(1) 200 police officers?

(2) 200 teachers?

(3) Help thousands of New Jersey victims of Hurricane Sandy?  (Hasn't Mary Pat been putting that bug in your ear?)

Governor Christie, why haven't you been speaking up for your decision? Help us out in understanding why it's so important to have an extra general election during election season. 

We've heard the press and politicians argue rather persuasively that you scheduled the Senator Lautenberg replacement election away from the general election day in order to avoid the much heavier voter turnout, especially by Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents, that a federal election brings.

Frankly, it's been troublesome that you have NOT offered any good reason, nor any reason at all, for deciding to set the special general election to fill Senator Lautenberg's seat on a different day from the regular November general election when they're only 3 weeks apart! 

Perhaps, Governor Christie, you have not offered any reason because there is no reason in the taxpayers' interest. I'd hate to think that you'd waste $12-million of taxpayers' money so blatantly on political self-interest.

Please argue persuasively for your decision to bifurcate a special general election and regular general election that are only 3 weeks apart.

Otherwise, we the taxpayers will have to conclude that you did it for these political reasons.

On a personal note, Governor Christie, I've often disagreed with your policies, though not all, but I've always respected you. This election scheduling thing really hurts!

Steve Reichenstein