Posts Tagged ‘How to Manage Residential Property for Maximum Cash Flow and Resale Value’

Obama has not ‘inherited’ anything

Barack Obama cannot get through a paragraph without whining that he inherited all the nation’s woes from the Bush administration.

Bull!

There are two definitions of inherit:

1. to receive assets as a result of the death of a person pursuant to a will or intestate succession state law

2. to receive, by being conceived, genetic characteristics from a biological ancestor

Neither applies to Obama. George W. Bush did not die and, if he had, he sure as hell would not have left any assets to Barack Obama. Obama admits to being a cousin of Dick Cheney, but cousins are not descendants and Obama surely is no descendant of Bush.

Obama SOUGHT the position he is now in

Unless you are one of the Menendez brothers or Anna Nicole Smith, you do not seek an inheritance. It just happens to you without the slightest effort on your part.

That sure as hell does not describe Obama’s behavior since the year he decided to go into politics at age 23. He has been busting his ass off, neglecting his family, and bending every effort to achieve the highest political office he could achieve. He desperately chased the three political offices he has held. He was not selling insurance for Allstate when he got a call that his uncle George died and left him the White House

Inheritance, like elective office, is optional

When you are told you are to inherit assets as the result of the death of their prior owner, you’d better make sure you want them before you agree to accept them. In the case of real estate, the property in question may be underwater (mortgage bigger than current market value) or contaminated with toxics like asbestos or underground waste that would cost more to clean up than the property would be worth afterwards. The same is true of businesses or other assets that may have been pledged as loan security. A corporation might have tort or other types of liabilities that would cause you to say no thanks to the executor of the estate.

Heirs can just say no to the receipt of any particular assets offered to them as a result of someone’s death.

Barack Obama could have declined to run for president or, after being elected, he could have declined to take the oath or, after inauguration, could have resigned.

Not only did he not do any of those things, he did the opposite. He cited all the nation’s problems as reasons:

• why he wanted the job
• why he should be elected to fix those problems
• why the party in power in the White House should be replaced by him

Now he tells us the prior administration left him a mess. Isn’t that the exact same mess he spent all 2007 and 2008 talking about and asking us to put him in charge of? He told us he was an expert on that mess. He told us he was the best person in the country to fix it.

Now, those exact same things are his all-purpose excuse for not fixing it.

During World War II, the French were famous for blaming all sorts of inefficiencies and shortages on the war with the all-purpose excuse “C’est la guerre.”

Obama’s version of that is “C’est le Bush Administration.”

Quit the whining and get to work! You wanted the job. You got the job. Now do the job. Find ways to get it done and stop making excuses for not getting it done. If the mess left by the previous administration is too much for you, resign. If not, shut up and start producing some real results.

The Bush administration never had your Congressional majorities and indeed spent half of their time in office with a minority in Congress, yet they got far more done. Literally, the only laws you have enacted were two earmark laws—the earmarks you promised would end if and when you got elected.

The plain fact is you suck as a president. You had one of the three biggest Congressional majorities since 1900. The others were FDR in 1932 (Depression) and Carter in 1976 (Watergate).

Democrat Lyndon Johnson got far more done than you (e.g., Civil Rights Act of 1964, Great Society) with normal Congress’s and a much bigger war (Vietnam with 553,000 U.S. troops in country). Why did Johnson and Bush get far more done with far fewer Congressional party mates? Because, unlike Barack Obama, they knew what they were doing as a result of many years of real experience. You stumble around the Oval Office like a guy groping for a towel after leaving the shower with soap in his eyes.

As I said in my job interview article early in the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama could not get a job as an unpaid volunteer youth basketball coach, McDonald’s night manager, or Army second lieutenant—literally—if he applied for them with the same resume but no celebrity.

Bush was president, not king

Bush was not king from 2001 to 2009. He was merely president. There was also a Congress. What happened or did not happen between 2001 and 2009 was the responsibility of both the president and the Congress. Obama himself was a U.S. Senator in that Congress from 2005 to 2009—2/3 of a six-year senate term. The two parties were tied or the majority party went back and forth. The most senators the Republicans ever had when Bush was president was 55, not the magic number of 60. Barack the “magic negro” managed to render the magic number of 60 anything but magical by spending every month when he had that magic number pushing for a health care bill that required even more than 60 Democrats because the Democrats themselves could not all support the various hodge podge versions that were bandied about.

Who made the mess?

Did Bush alone create all the challenges facing the nation in 2009 and 2010? As we all know, he did not. He could not.

The mess facing the nation was created by all the Congresses and presidents since around 1928. Before then, the federal government was too small to make huge messes. They just ran the Army and Navy and post office and customs.

The mess is the accumulation of laws like social security (FDR), Medicare and Medicaid (Johnson), Medicare Part D (Bush II), war after war after war (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Obama). It is also caused in part by quasi-governmental organizations like FNMA, FHLMC, Federal Reserve. And it was caused by people outside the U.S. like Hitler, Tojo, Mussolini, North Korea, North Vietnam, Iran, Saddam Hussein, Mullah Omar, Osama Bin Laden, and so on.

Almost all presidents have blamed their predecessor to an extent for the problems they face. But none of them have done it so many times or for so many months as Obama.

What Obama really means by the word ‘inherit’

Aside from the inaccuracy and incompleteness of Obama’s whining about inheriting the mess, he intends a whole new, very dangerous meaning to the word. To Obama, the allegation that he inherited the problems currently facing the country means:

1. The existence of the problems alleged by Obama on inauguration day is not his fault, which is generally true.
2. The continued existence of those problems is neither his fault nor his responsibility to fix. There seems to be a silent implication that Bush and Cheney have to somehow come back and clean those problems up.
3. The appearance of additional, similar problems after inauguration day are also due to Bush/Cheney because the problems that have arisen since Obama took office are somehow the offspring of the problems Obama “inherited.”
4. The worsening of the problems Obama inherited from Bush/Cheney is also not Obama’s fault nor his responsibility to fix because those problems would not exist if Bush/Cheney had not created them and left them unfixed.

In short, Obama is absolved from either blame for, or of any obligation to fix, any problem that could, in any way, however remotely, be traced to Bush/Cheney.

Obama sees his entire responsibility to be scolding the ROW (rest of the world, i.e., everyone but Barack Obama), especially the prior administration and “Washington” and “Wall Street” for all of their mistakes and shortcomings. He will sign an occasional bill and make a zillion speeches, but otherwise, “somebody” needs to clean up this mess.

For the record, it is the job of each president to manage the federal government in the best way possible and the correct total amount of time each president should spend pointing out the deficiencies of his predecessor is 0:00. What’s done is done. The president’s job is the situation as he finds it on inauguration day regardless of its origin. If you call a washing-machine repairman, and all he does is complain about the manufacturer of the machine or the previous repairman, you would rightly refuse to pay him.

Not suited for the job

I have been saying since before the election that Barack Obama wanted the title of president and the celebrity of president, but that he never had any interest in actually doing what the president has to do. Ronald Reagan, a former two-term California governor, knew what chief executive meant, wanted the job and did the job, not perfectly, but he knew what he was getting himself into and handled it rather well. Hillary is a policy wonk and loves that stuff.

Obama is the opposite of a policy wonk. He is a dilettante, perpetual graduate student. He enjoys talking about this stuff, but not to the point where he is going to bother to do his homework so he knows what he’s talking about. Like the Pope, Obama is always pontificating. Unlike the Pope, Obama has no authority to pontificate.

In my book How to Manage Residential Property for Maximum Cash Flow and Resale Value, 6th edition, which just came out, it tells a tale of two employees of mine. Both were resident managers of apartment complexes I owned. The managers of my Greenbriar Apartments loved the job. They had been there for decades. They had written an article for the local paper once about how great the job was because of all the different people they met from around the country and the world who were tenants there. Never a dull day. Every day was different and so on.

Then there was the other manager I had briefly at my Las Brisas Apartments. She complained bitterly of being bothered all hours of the day, stupid tenants, impossible list of things to do, and so on. She demanded her pay be double or some such. I fired her after about three weeks.

Both managers were describing the exact same job—albeit at two different complexes. One saw the glass as half full; the other, half empty.

My books says when you hire an employee who complains bitterly about those aspects of the job which are normal, fire her or him. It is not that she is wrong when she says a resident manager of an apartment building gets “bothered” at all hours of the day. They do. The issue is whether it is a “bother” and whether they appreciate also being off-duty all hours of the day when nothing in particular is happening. Those who are as well suited for the job as they should be are not “bothered” by the tenants coming to them with maintenance requests or other issues. They see it as what they get paid for and recognize that the compensation is fair for the time required. I would not even say the complaining manager is a bad person. But they sure as hell need to find another job.

The generic version of this is the manager who complains that they are “always putting out fires” or that they can never get a full team of the “right people.” If they could just get the “right people,” everything would be fine.

If the guy who complains that they have no time for anything but putting out fires at work, and he is a fireman, fire him. More broadly, if organizations always worked smoothly, there would be no need for managers. A manager is to people, when the maintenance man at a factory is to the manufacturing equipment. If the equipment never broke down there would be no need for a maintenance man. By the same token, managers are the maintenance men of human organizations. If everybody always did the right thing, organizations would not need managers.

President of the United States is a people manager job. The current holder of that job incessantly complains about the mess and the problems and the recalcitrant Congress and voters.

Complaining about the job description!

He is complaining about the job description! What president did not have to deal with such things? Throughout our history there have been wars and financial crises. There’s a list of all U.S. wars at this link. And there’s a list of business cycles since 1854 (all booms and recessions) here.

Barack Obama could not have had more notice of what the job of President of the United States involved. Now he complains bitterly about precisely the job for which he told us he was the best qualified person. He is unqualified for the job and unsuited for it. The plain truth is he never wanted the job in the first place, only the title and prestige and celebrity of it, and he wants it even less now that he has it. He should resign (after first getting Biden to resign and appointing Wes Clark or Hillary or some such the new vice president).

Do not complain about the job description after you take the job. Read it before you apply. If you don’t like the job description, don’t apply for, or accept, the job.

Barack, lead or get out of the way. Whichever you choose, quit your adolescent whining.

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize

Follow-up to this article which was originally written when it was announced that Obama had won the peace prize.

It is safe to say the Nobel committee wishes it had never given the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama.
They were deservedly ridiculed worldwide for awarding it to a guy who did nothing to earn it.
He refused to participate in the various award ceremony activities that other winners traditionally have gratefully participated in namely,

  • dinner with the Norwegian Nobel committee
  • a press conference
  • a television interview
  • appearances at a children’s event promoting peace and a music concert, as well as
  • a visit to an exhibition in his honor at the Nobel peace center
  • lunch with the King of Norway

  • He used his speech to talk down to the Nobel committee as if they did not know that evil exists, diplomacy is not always enough, that their awarding him the prize did not have any effect on his willingness to surge the war in Afghanistan.

    Normally, such an aceptance speech would be interrupted by applause repeatedly. I believe Obama was only interrupted by applause once at the Nobel ceremony: when he reminded the audience of his pledge to close Guantanamo. He did not remind them that he reneged on that pledge. Gitmo was supposed to close 12/31/09. It will not. It is the best, newest American prison. The inmates themselves probbaly would prefer to be there than in any oter U.S. prison.

    That applause line also included condemnation of America for torture and patting himself on the back for ending it, but he did not mention continuing rendition or shipping prisoners to countries who have no qualms about torturing prisoners.

    In short, his response to being awarded the prize was to bite the hand that fed it to him and poke a stick in their eye. Explain to me again how this guy is a great politician. He has a gift, Harry, it’s a gift for pissing off his supporters while simultaneously keeping his opponens as pissed off at him a they always were.

    Should not have been a surprise

    In my book How to Manage Residential Property For Maximum Cash Flow and Resale Value, I talk at length about firing employees. One important point I made is that it should never come as a surprise to the person being fired.

    If they commit an egregious offense, that calls for one-strike-and-you’re-out firing, like being drunk on duty, the fact that such an offense was one-strike should have been made known to the employee when they were hired.

    If, on the other hand, they are being fired for an accumulation of substandard performances, they should have been warned privately that their performance needed to be improved or they were going to get fired. I had a salaried leasing agent once who never rented an apartment. My other leasing agent was leasing apartments. I warned that non-leaser than although she was not on commission, a zero batting average was unacceptable. She did not improve it and I fired her, which she deemed “unfair.”

    Nobel prizes should not come as surprises

    The same is true of Nobel prizes. The announcement of a winner should not surprise anyone who is reasonably well informed.

    The announcement that Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize did surprise everyone, including Obama himself.

    The reason it came as a surprise is that Obama did virtually nothing that would have caused anyone to speculate that he might get it.

    To his credit, Obama said he did not deserve the prize. I agree. Although, I could have done without the humility angle on the did-not-deserve comment. He did not deserve it because he did nothing to earn it, not because of his general unworthiness to be in the company of the other prior winners.

    The Nobel Committee seemed to say they awarded it to him because of his various speeches advocating world peace. So award it to the Miss America Pageant. Their contestants all advocate world peace (and ending hunger) every year.

    Nominated in February

    Obama was nominated for the prize on February 1, 2009. Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009.

    The implication is that he was nominated for the prize for his actions during an 11-day period right after inauguration. What? Announcing that he was going to close Guantanamo by the end of the year—a promise since withdrawn?

    Based in part on explanatory statements by the Nobel committee, they gave him the award to help him succeed in future peace efforts. So the Nobel Prize committee is like the U.S. media: in the tank for Obama and trying to propagandize the public to supporting their guy.

    Limbaugh also said they seem to be trying to influence him to run American foreign policy hereafter in accordance with the wishes of the leftist intellectuals who vote on the prize.

    Both explanations seem reasonable. He sure as heck did not get it for anything he has done which is the only proper criterion for such an award

    Past winners

    Nobel prizes awarded in the hard sciences have a well-deserved stellar reputation. However, the Nobel prizes awarded in soft subjects, like economics, peace, and so on, are subjective and political. Here are some other Nobel Peace Prize winners

    Peace Prize winner John T. Reed comment
    Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    Climate change is a fraud and in any event it is unrelated to peace; obviously just a political statement by leftist intellectuals
    U.N. and Kofi Anan
    The U.N. should either win it every year or never. Peace is their job description. Kofi Anan was thoroughly corrupt and no one can name anything he did related to peace that was extraordinary or effective. He was just another empty suit U.N. secretary general.
    Yasser Arafat
    For what? Most improved terrorist?
    Desmond Tutu
    Nice guy but they said it was for his work against Apartheid, that’s civil rights not peace
    Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho
    These guys were the U.S. and North Vietnam delegates to the peace talks on the Vietnam war; The Nixon Administration was trying to extricate itself from the war and not look too bad in the process; Tho was trying to win the war by military force and just using the peace talks as a ruse to accomplish that; Tho refused to accept the prize; the world was generally outraged that Kissinger was awarded and accepted it because he had been part of the escalations of the war previously

    Tighten the criteria

    I am not suggesting they abolish the Nobel Peace Prize. Rather, they need to tighten the criteria for awarding it. Some years, they have not awarded it to anyone. They need to do that more often. In 1906, they awarded it to Teddy Roosevelt who hosted the peace talks and drew up the peace agreement that ended the war between Russia and Japan. That was an appropriate award. Jimmy Carter, who is a horse’s ass in general, should have gotten it in 1978 for doing what Teddy did only between Egypt and Israel. Carter did get it later in 2002 as a sort of lifetime achievement award. My take on him is that he never got over losing the 1980 election to Reagan and has since spent his life trying to prove the American people were wrong to reject him. His greatest success while president was arguably the Egypt peace agreement, so he keeps trying to reprise that event like has-been actress Norma “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up” Desmond in the 1950 movie Sunset Boulevard.

    We have elected a president of the United States who is a sociopath with narcissistic personality disorder. I fear he will get us into World War III either by weakness or by falling prey to a need to prove his manhood because of his total lack of military or foreign policy experience. Michelle Obama said her husband is overconfident. He seems to think he can schmooze and mediate all of the bad guys in the world into behaving. He can’t. He wasn’t even successful with a Harvard professor and a Cambridge cop. The Nobel Committee is encouraging him to continue believing that. The awarding of the Nobel Prize to him is not useful and is likely to encourage him in his dangerous delusions and encourage him to be biased against sometimes necessary military action in dealings with deadly enemies.

    Barack Obama is no leader

    ‘Natural great leader’

    I have heard Obama’s groupies describe him as “brilliant,” as a “great politician,” and as a “great natural leader.”

    I’ll set the first two aside for the moment, but I know he is no leader.

    I do not see myself as a great leader. I am the kind of guy who comes in second for home room representative, gets selected team captain or club president occasionally. I am not the type who gets elected fraternity president, class president, mayor, or any of that.

    Notwithstanding my minimal traditional leadership ability, I have a lot of leadership training and experience. As of inauguration day, Obama had virtually no such training or experience.

    I graduated from West Point which bills itself as the world’s greatest leadership school. I am not sure leadership is teachable, but they sure try. They also manage to attract a lot of natural leaders—an amazing number of class presidents, team captains, and so on. We cadets learned a lot from each other. In the leadership category, we probably learned more from each other than from the leadership instructors.

    Leadership positions

    In my life, I was a platoon leader in a parachute infantry battalion and in a heavy artillery battalion in Vietnam. I was also a company commander of a 400-man company in the Army. I was a landlord of my own properties for 23 years—starting with 2 units in 1969 and ending with 58 apartments in the late 1980s. I also was a property manager of around 800 tenants in buildings around southern NJ. As a landlord and property manager, I had two to six employees as well as all the tenants. I coached around 900 amateur athletes on about 35 different teams.

    I have also written books and thousands of articles about and lectured on how to lead. Believe it or not, that, too, is a learning experience for the writer-speaker.

    So I have been trained on how to lead, experienced being in leadership positions with a variety of types of subordinates in a variety of situations and organizations.

    I believe I am an excellent leader when I relate to the led through my writing and public speaking, less so but still pretty good as head of an organization like a company or athletic team. I have also been around a ton of leaders of all quality levels. I know what leaders look like. I know how leaders think and act. I know how to lead.

    Barack Obama is no leader.

    Wants to be popular

    Barack Obama wants everyone to love him. I am not the only one to say that. It seemed like everyone on a Charlie Rose panel on Thanksgiving, 2009 said that.

    A leader cannot have that goal. Leaders can be friendly with their subordinates, but they cannot be friends. Rookies in leadership positions often make the mistake of trying to be one of the guys and getting everyone to like them.

    That is dead wrong. When you are a leader, you have to maintain some distance. That is not a stylistic decision. It is a universal best practice. That is not to say you put on airs or act high and mighty or better than your subordinates. But as the leader, you ARE different. You have a different job in the group, a different role. You have to play that role. You cannot play that role if you do not maintain necessary distance.

    You have to make decisions that will not be welcomed by everybody—maybe not even by anybody. And you have to make them stick. When your subordinates do the right thing, you compliment them. When they do the wrong thing, you take action—verbal and otherwise—sufficient to make them do the right thing or replace them.

    Another rookie leader mistake is to think that making everyone like you will result in everyone doing what you say. Wrong. Making them do what you say will make some, or most, or even all, of them dislike you. It comes with the territory. The John Wayne movie Sands of Iwo Jima is a good, albeit fictional composite, case history. In that movie, Wayne plays Marine Sergeant John M. Stryker, a veteran of the first pacific land battle at Guadalcanal in World War II. He trains a squad of men extremely hard. They all hate him for it. But ultimately, they figure out he is doing it because he knows it’s what they need to survive in the Pacific war they are heading for.

    I also highly recommend the Discovery Channel TV reality series Deadliest Catch that shows Alaska crab fishing boats doing their thing. The captains of those boats are almost all excellent leaders and the shows reveal the details of how they do it. Do any of them remind you of Barack Obama? Me neither.

    But the bottom line for a leader is getting the led to do what they must do, not getting them to like you. Barack Obama has not figured that out yet, and it may be that he is incapable of doing it if and when he figures it out.

    Giving orders

    At West Point, one of the best leadership teaching mechanisms was having us lead other cadets in calisthenics and close order drill and manual of arms. Close order drill is marching like “forward march” and “column right march.” Manual of arms is commands like “right shoulder arms” and “present arms” (saluting with the rifle).

    When you give those commands, you must enunciate the preparatory command loudly, e.g., “Forwahhrd!” Then the command of execution must explode out of you like a starter’s pistol at a track meet: “MARCH!” The cadets, in turn, have been long trained to respond crisply and instantly to those commands.

    Teaching leadership in high school football

    In 2005, my freshman high school football team was doing stretching exercises before an early-in-the-season practice. I was standing next to a natural leader linebacker named Chris Borges who was taking a turn at leading the stretching. I was whispering suggestions to him to get him to learn the mechanical tricks of how you speak to your subordinates in a scattered-around-the-field-outdoors situation. My comments went something like this.

    Chris, you need to enunciate the preparatory command more slowly and clearly so they understand exactly what you want them to do. You rushed and slurred the words a little bit last time and they were uncertain which stretch we were doing. That’s why they looked raggedy responding to you.

    Later,

    Chris, when you give the command of execution—the one that gets them to start the stretch—you need to snap it out like the crack of a whip or a gun shot. Let me do the next one and watch how they respond to my commands compared to how they responded to yours. You were too conversational about telling them to start.

    I then lead one of the stretches demonstrating to Chris exactly how you enunciate the preparatory command and bark out the command of execution.

    Did you see how sharp they were in responding to my command? That was not my age or authority as coach. It was my voice. You need to get the same confident reaction on the field when you call the defense and the strength of the offensive formation. You must use that same tone of voice to yell “Mustang Black!” or “strong right!” or whatever you want so that the team will have confidence in the defense called and promptly execute it.

    I also taught him to use his diaphragm rather than his throat to add force to the voice and avoid fatiguing the vocal chords.

    Uncertain trumpet

    I did a similar thing training our quarterbacks how to call cadence and audibles. There is a line in the Bible (1 Corinthians 14:8), “If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for battle?” As a result of the training I got in those mechanical voice tricks of leadership at West Point, my linebackers and quarterbacks sounded like pros, not “uncertain trumpets,” as most young high school players do.

    On 10/10/08, I went to the high school to watch Chris and my other 2005 freshmen, who were seniors in 2008, play a game. I happened to sit next to Chris’s father and mentioned this article. He said that he had come to practice one day early in the pre-season of Chris’s freshman year and was astonished at how Chris was commanding his teammates in practice. He said he had never heard him talk that way before. Q.E.D.

    The first time I gave a command to a large group—a platoon (40 men), I was faking it. But when I said “AtennnnSHUN!” the platoon snapped to attention. “Damn!” I thought, “that was pretty cool.” So for my second command, “Right, face,” I was more confident. Darned if the platoon didn’t snap to the right in unison. By the time I had marched them to Thayer Hall (classroom building) and back, I was a combination of R. Lee Ermey and George Patton. [One of the plebes (freshmen) who was responding to my first commands that evening had the same name as I: Jack Reed, now U.S. Senator (D-RI).]

    It is not natural to think of yourself as barking commands to people and having them respond to them. But at West Point, you do it, and they do respond. Your confidence, skill, and comfort as a leader grows by leaps and bounds within minutes the first time you do it. If you told a young man, like Barack Obama, with no experience or training to call a platoon to attention and march them to a building a quarter mile away, he would screw it all up. He would be too quiet, slur his words, not speak with confidence that anyone would do what he said—which is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of barking out the command MARCH with authority and expectation that the platoon would comply, he would be tentative and make it a question: “uh, if it’s OK with you guys, could you please forward march?”

    That is NOT how it’s done and that absolutely will not work.

    Never having done that is the stage President Barack Obama is now at, and he is commander in chief of the entire U.S. military. I was a 20-year old West Point cadet when I did that.

    Not a ‘gamer’

    We have a word in coaching—gamer—that is not leadership per se but sometimes involves leadership. A gamer is a player who, when the game’s on the line, wants the ball or to be an whatever position is going to get the credit for the win or the blame for the loss. Reggie Jackson, Joe Montana, Roger Clemens, and similar athletes are gamers. Such people are rare, even at the highest levels. Many starters, and many stars, do not want to be in that position. They are silently praying“(hit it somewhere else” or “throw it somewhere else” or “call the other guy’s number” and so on.

    When the “game” of being commander in chief of the U.S. is on the line, Obama desperately wishes he were somewhere else, anywhere else, like out of the campaign trail criticizing leaders. He keeps trying to have others like Pelosi or Geithner make the decisions. Where he cannot avoid leadership, he tries to have the decision made for him by advisers or events. His recent endless meetings on Afghanistan and trial balloons about the corrupt election there were attempts to have the decision made for him by a consensus of advisers or by having events like the corrupt election make the decision for him.

    Barack Obama is not a gamer. Leaders are gamers.

    Leaders are gamers. Or at least they cannot stand to sit by and watch another leader screw up the job of leading whatever group. I was talking to a West Point classmate wen my oldest son was about 5 years old about youth sports. He asked me if I was going to coach. “Hell, no. I’m not that kind of person. I could not stand to deal with the parents and all the B.S.”

    He laughed and predicted I would not be able to stand to watch the other fathers coach the team because they would do a lousy job of leading. His kids were older than mine and he had already been through what I was about to enter.

    He was right. I could not stand to watch lousy leadership so I began helping out and was a full-fledged coach starting the next season and remained one for many years thereafter. My career as a writer of books on coaching arose out of that experience coaching my three sons. Obama has kids. He would have you believe he is some sort of athlete (at least until he threw out that first pitch—God that was awful—see my Youth Baseball Coaching book to make sure neither you nor your players make such mistakes as standing on top of the rubber as Obama did). Obama has two daughters. One would expect they must be athletes. Michelle’s brother, Craig Robinson, was a recruited basketball player at Princeton and is now head basketball coach at Oregon State. So why hasn’t Barack coached his daughters? He sure as hell never had much else to do until he announced for president in 2007. Because he can stand to see lousy leaders lead a group he is associated with. Real leaders cannot do that.

    Who the hell are YOU to boss people around?

    At my graduate school alma mater, Harvard Business School, all the the instruction is case method. The cases are actual, recent cases from real businesses. The Harvard MBA student is always put in the position of a decision maker and the professor always listens to the student lay out the various options and considerations for the particular case then the professor ends by asking, “So what’re you going to do?”

    When asked what Harvard Business School was like, one of my classmates there gave a summary of a case he had had that day in class to some grad students from “across the river.” At Harvard, the Business School is on the Boston side of the Charles River and the other schools are on the Cambridge side. The Cambridge side is Communist, essentially. Barack Obama’s Harvard alma mater—Harvard Law School—is on the Commie side of the Charles.

    The Commies were quite good at pointing out the options and considerations of the business school case. But when my classmates asked, “So what’re you gonna do?” They were stunned and looked at each other blankly before one finally said, “Well, somebody would have to make a decision on that.” My classmate said exactly what the professor at Harvard Business would. “Yeah, you! What’s your decision?”

    The mind set of the Commies on the Cambridge side of the river was that they were peons and that some higher authority ran the world and delegated authority without which one did not have authority. The mind set of the Harvard MBAs, after the first few weeks of being there, was that we were in charge. Most Harvard MBAs are founders and CEOs of their own companies.

    Obama thinks somebody would have to make a decision on that—like Nancy Pelosi or Stanley McChrystal, anybody but Obama.

    Barack Obama is still more in the someone would have to make a decision about that mind set, thus his delegation of everything to Congress and advisers, not to mention his taking months to make his third decision on what to do in Afghanistan.

    Occupational hazard of being a leader

    When I was a company commander in the Army, I had 400 men under my command. All day every day, they would constantly turn and look at me for a decision. Before long, you began to anticipate their need for direction, commands, and orders. I did, albeit it got me into trouble with my mom and roommate. On a couple of occasions, I forgot who I was with and thought I detected a need for an order so I issued one—to my roommate, who said, “Fuck you! Move it yourself. Who the hell do you think I am? One of your troops?” My mom reacted similarly, although without the profanity.

    I doubt Michelle has ever had to remind Barack that she is not one of his subordinates. It was said that the Gorbachev-Bush I period was the first time that the USSR prime minister weighed more than his wife and the U.S. president weighed less than his. The Obama Administration is probably the first time the First Lady would be the favorite in a fist fight with her husband.

    He has not yet acquired the leader mind set that anticipates subordinates’ need for direction and provides it instantly. I am not sure he ever will. He sure as hell is in a position where such on-the-job training is not the best training schedule.

    Obama thinks taking charge is presumptuous

    Indeed, Barack Obama gives every indication that he thinks it would be presumptuous of him to boss around Congress or the U.S. military or other countries’ leaders. He has famously apologized again and again for past U.S. presidents behaving as if they were the leaders of the Free World, for showing the way, for assuming that they had a responsibility to lead the other countries.

    This is the instinct and behavior of a man whose self-image is that others, not he, are the leaders.

    When the situation calls for someone to take charge, leaders, who are take-charge guys, take charge. In my article on leadership, I related several instances were I found myself in that situation and immediately took charge in spite of having no formal authority to do so. Obama isn’t even a take-charge guy when he does have formal authority.

    True, Obama thinks he is the number one guy in the world in terms of bringing people together and achieving consensus. In the first place, I think he is extremely overconfident in his estimation of his abilities along those lines. The world ain’t the South Side of Chicago.

    More importantly, bringing people together and achieving consensus is not a leadership style. It is a way of avoiding leadership. It is all carrot and no stick. He tries to use Pied Piper leadership, which works only when the led are all small children.

    Obama assumes that the world can and should be led by reaching consensus. It cannot. Consensus, while nice when it happens, is rare, and unlikely when the members of the group have conflicting goals and views—which is almost the rule rather than the exception.

    Another typical rookie mistake is to adopt an approach to leadership—like Obama’s schmooze everyone into consensus—then behave as though sticking to that theory were the goal. The youth coaching counterpart is the coach who is going to act like Mr. Rogers so the parents of his players will think he‘s a great guy. Living up to some popular leadership style theory is not the focus of a real leader. Results are. Here is a lesson I learned at West Point from my book How to Manage Residential Property For Maximum Cash Flow and Resale Value.

    Hard ass versus nice guy

    During our first two years of West Point, most of us decided hard ass or nice guy was the correct leadership style. I favored nice guy. We used to argue about it. But during our last two years at West Point, those arguments ended. Why? In those years, we were put into leadership positions like squad leader and platoon leader. We applied our favorite technique—hard ass or nice guy, and learned the real answer: You need to have both in our repertoire. Some people respond to nice guy; some to hard ass; and in different situations, everyone needs to be hard-assed at times and nice-guyed at others.

    What we learned is that the bottom line in leadership is the bottom line. You have an objective. You have to accomplish it. Adhering to one leadership style or another is not the bottom line, not the objective. The bottom line is the desired result. Leadership styles are process. Process is the bureaucrats’ focus. Results are the true leader’s focus. See my Web article on process versus results orientation.

    Obama has not yet learned that leadership lesson. He is still focused on his pet leadership styles as if adhering to them were the goal. What are his leadership styles? “Never let ’em see you sweat” and “Can’t we all get along” and “Aw shucks, I’m just one of the guys like you, not your superior in any way.”

    That behavior is the opposite of the definition of leadership. He needs to remember the goals: stopping Iran from getting nukes, defeating al Qaeda, restoring growth in the U.S. economy, and so on.

    He needs to use every trick in the leadership tool box: carrots, sticks, pushing, pulling, cajoling, nagging, setting the example, ass-chewing, praise, promotion, demotion, training, recruiting good people, getting rid of bad people, etc., etc. And he needs to be disabused of the notion that consensus and being one of the guys are leadership techniques. They most definitely are not. On the contrary, They are violations of the commandments of leadership.

    Actual responsibilities and authority

    During the 2008 presidential campaign, Sarah Palin said that being a mayor and governor was like being a community organizer, only you have actual responsibilities. I would add that you also have actual authority. Until inauguration day, then 47-year-old Barack Obama never had either actual responsibilities or authority. A girl was imprisoned by her father and not allowed to have contact with anyone including him. He only fed her. When she was rescued, it was too late for her to learn how to talk like normal people. A similar thing happened in Russia. She could learn and use words like nouns and verbs, but she could neither form nor understand sentences. If you do not learn that at the right age, you can never learn it.

    Leaders, like gamers, want responsibility for the final outcome. Non-leaders hope someone else has to take the responsibility. Obama’s handling of the pirate situation was a comical example of he and the Navy ship commander on the scene trying to pas the buck for the outcome back and forth to each other in multiple phone calls before the snipers shot the pirates.

    With Obama, we are about to learn whether a man-child who never had any responsibilities until age 47 can learn to live up to them at that late age.

    We are also about to learn whether a man who never has any authority until age 47, then has the most authority in the world, can learn how to use it with skill.

    Thus far, it appears that he is ignoring both responsibility and authority. All he knows is campaigning, which has neither responsibilities nor authority. He has behaved as though the campaign never ended. He is still focused on blaming Bush and criticizing his administration. The best example of that is placing the five al Qaeda guys on civil trial in NYC after they all pled guilty and said they did not oppose the death penalty. He defers to Congress and cabinet members and other world leaders and the U.N.

    Barack Obama does not lead. His sole skill in the leadership area is criticizing the leadership of other people.

    No excuse, sir

    West Point was fabulous about teaching us to take responsibility. The very first words they spoke to us on the first day were,

    Mister, from now on you have three answers: yes sir, no sir, and no excuse sir.

    Then they would chew you out big time whenever you started to make an excuse.

    I taught my football players the same thing. First I would give them the three answers. Then I would pick one guy and ask,

    Me: Have you cured cancer?

    Player: No, coach.

    Me: Why not?

    Player: Well, I never…

    Me: Is that one of your three answers?

    Player: No, coach. (Team laughs)

    Me: I ask you again, why haven’t you cured cancer?

    Player: Uh, no excuse? (Team laughs)

    Me: Correct answer but too tentative. Say it like you are absolutely certain it is the correct answer. Why haven’t you cured cancer?

    Player: NO EXCUSE, COACH! (team laughs)

    Me: We have a winner.

    Many readers are probably concluding this is stupid. That’s what I thought when I first entered West Point. I thought they were overdoing the concept. Then I figured out what they were trying to do: Get snot-nosed teenagers (us new cadets) to move from being whiny kids to men who would take responsibility for their actions.

    The mom of one of my 10-year old football players and I were the first to arrive at a deserted high school for an away game once. She approached and said to me,

    You changed my son.

    Warily I asked, “For the best I hope?”

    Oh, absolutely. He has suddenly become extremely responsible. It’s like he turned into a little man overnight.

    In that case, he had failed to do his job on a play, tried to give me excuses, and I insisted he take responsibility.

    I got held, coach.

    So don’t get held.

    But the ref should have thrown a flag.

    Have you ever made a mistake?

    Yes, coach.

    Are referees perfect?

    No, coach.

    Well, you seem to be saying you are only going to do your job when the refs are perfect, which means never. Is that the deal?

    No, coach, but how can I contain when the tight end is holding me?

    Don’t let him do that. Use your inside arm to break or prevent the hold. Remember the rip and swim moves we taught you?

    Yes, coach.

    Why do you think we taught you that?

    To break holds?

    We have a winner.

    My oldest son once hit a classmate’s car when pulling out of his high school. His excuse was she started to pull out, he turned to see if a car was coming and when he saw none, he pulled out, only to learn that the girl had changed her mind and stopped. He said it was her fault for changing her mind.

    No, it was your fault for not checking that she had not changed her mind. That happens a lot.

    There ensued a lengthy argument where I pounded the “no excuse” concept into him.

    Years later, he arrived late to a college class. At his college, Columbia, you could tell which students were the athletes from about 50 yards away—literally. The professor figured he was a football player and demanded to know why he was late—expecting some lame bullshit.

    No excuse, sir.

    The professor was astonished and became my son’s best friend on the faculty.

    Q.E.D.

    Barack Obama has a thousand answers and none of them are “no excuse.” He takes responsibility for nothing. Everything is the fault of the “failed policies of the Bush Administration” or the Republicans or Wall Street or insurance companies, etc. When asked about coming in fourth out of four finalists for the Olympics Obama said, “Sometimes you play a great game and still lose.”

    As a coach of 35 teams I would say I do not recall that ever happening. We lost when we played and/or coached poorly. When we played a great game, we won. In some close games, both when we won and when we lost, I noted it was really a tie as a practical matter. But I never experienced the equivalent of coming in fourth out of four and claiming we played great and got robbed.

    Leaders have actual responsibilities and accept responsibility for the results of their performance—win or lose. President John F. Kennedy took unequivocal responsibility for the failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba. Pigs will fly before Barack Obama ever takes responsibility for his failures. He will not be a leader until he does.

    High school basketball teams

    Obama and Palin were both on high school basketball teams that won their state championship during their senior years. Palin was team captain. Obama was not. Palin was a starter and a star on that team. Obama was neither.

    The fact that she was elected/selected captain and Obama was not is telling. It shows that Obama did not impress his teammates with his leadership; Palin did impress hers. Coaches reading this may say that only starters get to be captain and that Obama was not good enough to be a starter on that team. True. But there is a reason for that. To be a leader, you need to be able to do what you ask your subordinates to do better than they can, or at least be able to generally do what you are supposedly leading them to do.

    Obama may be the best teleprompter reader in the room as he goes about his day as president, but he is never the best man in the room at what the various people there do. He is a benchwarmer who has managed to get the job of team captain of a world class team where everyone else IS a starter. They have to be thinking after a lifetime of study and work in their field, “And how in the hell did this guy get to be my boss?”

    Obama is not leading. He is an arriviste imposter faking it. And those who are in the room with him know it whether the American people have not figured it out yet or not.

    Experience and subject matter knowledge

    The main thing I have learned in each of the different leadership situations I have been in is learning what people are capable of when well led. Knowing that requires both leadership experience and subject knowledge specific to the field in question. Here are the contrasts between how I acted initially and at the end of my career in various leadership situations and the necessary subject knowledge.

    When I started By the time I finished Pertinent subject matter knowledge
    As a landlord, a tenant would pay the rent late and give an excuse which sort of made sense to me so I would give them an extra week to pay. I would cut them off in mid-sentence with, “I’m sorry to hear that, but it’s your problem, not mine. I need that rent to pay the electric company mortgage, and so on and none of them will accept that story in place of money. If you do not pay today, I will give you eviction and utility turn-off notices tomorrow and change the lock on your door. [allowed in TX] Any questions?” You can always have a building full of tenants who pay on time if you are selective and promptly get rid of the imperfect tenants. See my book How to Manage Residential Property For Maximum Cash Flow and Resale Value.
    As an Army officer, I asked why we always had boiled potatoes in the mess hall. Mess Sergeant shrugged his shoulders and said “That’s what they give us, sir.” Walk into the mess hall, see a repeat item, and immediately demand to see the Army-wide Master Menu which ways what item is really supposed to have been prepared for that meal. Existence of the master menu which I learned about by complaining to the base mess officer about the lack of variety in the meals.
    As a property manager, I stared in wonder at the locomotive-sized boilers and compressors for our 203-unit apartment complex as the maintenance man gave me some line of bull about them. Walking into the boiler room and immediately checked the gauges on the boilers and chewed the maintenance man out for not maintaining proper fluid levels. Contacted the manufacturer and asked for manuals on the equipment, then studied them after they arrived.
    Urged my football and baseball players to higher standards only to run into resistance from some players and parents that the standards were impossibly high or too high for the age group. I backed off demanding the high standards. Do it right or do it over. Either get your game grade up to 90% or I’m going to replace you. Then follow through and bench the guy in question. In some cases, suspend them or throw them off the team for serious breaches of discipline or persistently not doing their job. Noticed that some of my players would always respond correctly to my demands for higher standards. Noticed that the best teams in the league were kicking my butt and that ALL their players were complying with the higher standards that some of my players and parents said were impossibly high. See my coaching books.
    High school senior coming late to practice every day. I asked why and accepted his excuse because it sounded plausible Cut the player in question off in mid-sentence of his excuse. “Run one lap around the field for every minute you were late (looking at watch), that’s seven laps.” Learned that some teenagers will test the coach to see what they can get away with. Coach has to pass that test. If player in question is rebel without a cause, throw him off the team instantly and make sure the other players know why.

    The point of leadership is getting your subordinates to elevate their performance to much higher standards. To do that, you need to know what the M1A1 subordinate is capable of, the quality of people that are generally available to replace that person if they do not improve enough, and demand they meet that standard. What you tolerate, you encourage. What you demand, you get. Doing this requires both generic understanding of how to be a leader as well as specific knowledge of the subject matter of the situation in question. If you have held any leadership position for any length of time, you have probably learned your version of the same lessons I depict above.

    Barack Obama has neither generic leadership training or experience or subject matter knowledge. He is trying to bluff his way through the presidency.

    At West Point, they taught us that we must never bluff with regard to our own expertise. One reason for that is you always get caught. The main reason is the job of Army officer is too important for the leader not to know what he is doing.

    American leadership is not presumptuous

    America has been the undisputed leader of the free world since World War I. Obama seems to think that was arrogant of us. Who were we to assume such a role?

    We were the second biggest country in the free world after Canada. We had the most people, the most money, the most resources, and a secure ocean-protected base from which to operate. We did not get the leadership role by falsely assuming it was ours to take. We got it because of overwhelming plain facts which no one can deny. As GIs often paraphrase the 23rd Psalm,

    Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil for I am the biggest, toughest, meanest mother in the valley.

    See my article on whether the U.S. should be the policeman of the world. Short answer? Yes, because someone has to do it. No one wants to live in a neighborhood with no police. And we are the only ones who can play that role. No one else is even close.

    The same is true of business, finance, economics, science, and democratic freedom.

    President Ronald Reagan said America was the world’s “Shining City on the Hill.” The phrase came from a sermon by John Winthrop in 1630 to British citizens who were about to emigrate to America. He urged them to create a “Shining City on a Hill” here. Obama is embarrassed by that phrase, that idea. But he is oblivious to the fact that he thereby implicitly turns the world into one with no shining city on any hill. To him, the end of the Shining City on a Hill is the ending of American arrogance and represents an improvement of the world. To the world, it is an unspeakable loss.

    At a special NCAA coaching clinic for top minority college football coaches on 6/1/04, Bill Walsh spoke first on the passing game. I was the second speaker on football clock management. Afterward, Bill said of my talk, “That was really good!” I thanked him and asked how I could improve my speech. “Stop apologizing for never having played or coached college or NFL football. You’re the man on football clock management. Act like it!”

    Obama needs to learn the same lesson.

    Barack, God help us, but you are the leader of the free world. Start acting like it. Stop apologizing for it. And if you’re not up to it, which is probable, resign.

    Obama’s dangerous need to be loved by the whole world

    Barry Obama, Jr. was born on 8/4/61. His father Barry (the first name both of them used then) Obama, Sr. left Barry Junior and his mother behind to attend Harvard a couple of weeks later. Except for a brief visit when Obama, Jr. was 10, he never saw his father again.

    Obama’s mother told him she was going back to Indonesia when he was ten. Obama refused to accompany her. She left. And never returned until after he left home to go away to college.

    He’s damaged goods

    Applying amateur psychoanalysis, I conclude the guy is damaged goods. Being abandoned by both his parents as a child apparently left him in extreme need to be loved by everyone.

    Refused to get any leadership training or experience

    Avoiding ever having a job before becoming president prevented him from learning that being loved by everyone is impossible, especially if you make decisions. Furthermore, trying to be loved by everyone paralyzes you.

    Look at the U.N. Getting even the 15-member Security Council to agree on a motion is so hard that the U.N. rarely acts. Forget about getting the 192-member General Assembly to agree. But getting the 192 countries of the world to love him is exactly what Obama is trying to do.

    Glad-handing as a leadership technique

    If it were possible, it would require some sort of “smiling, paying out effusive compliments about each country, and handing-out-money” program. Be all things to all people is the formula for being popular with everyone. It is fundamentally dishonest. No actions could ever be taken by the U.S. to protect its interests because someone would not like them.

    Hard ass or nice guy?

    When my classmates and I were cadets at West Point during our first two years, we argued about which was the best leadership approach: hard ass or nice guy. I thought nice guy. Others argued hard ass. During our third and fourth year, when we often were put in leadership positions over lower class cadets, we learned the correct answer. You need to have both in your repertoire.

    Some people respond to nice guy. You use nice guy on them. Some respond to hard ass. You have to use hard ass on them. Everybody needs to be hard-assed at times because each of us has things we ought to do that we are extremely averse to doing. Speeding tickets, April 15th, and jury duty are examples of the hard-ass approach being applied to generally nice people because those in charge have learned from experience that it is necessary to get the job done.

    See my Succeeding and How to Manage Residential Property For Maximum Cash Flow and Resale Value books for more on such leadership lessons

    World leader who doesn’t know how to lead

    My classmates and I were 20 when we learned that lesson. By avoiding any leadership training or experience prior to inauguration day, the current leader of the world has never learned that lesson—a lesson that most adult American supervisors learned on the job. Even America’s parents have learned that lesson in the course of parenting their own children.

    Results, not popularity

    Competent leaders and parents understand that the goal is getting the job done, not being popular with your subordinates or other people you are trying to lead.

    I also learned that you cannot please all the people all the time in other jobs I held, namely,

    • platoon leader and company commander in the Army;

    • property manager of various office buildings, apartment complexes, industrial buildings

    • landlord to hundreds of tenants; and

    • coach of over 900 amateur athletes

    The correct approach is a mixture of nice guy, teaching, cajoling, coaxing, nudging, setting the example, firing, punishing, and so on. You need both carrots and sticks to get all your subordinates to do that which they ought to do.

    47-year-old teenager

    Barack Obama is essentially a 47-year-old teenager with regard to his understanding of leadership because of his total lack of any leadership or managerial experience or training. The problem is compounded by his having been dumped by both his biological parents apparently resulting in some sort of psychiatric disorder so severe it can be perceived by laymen like me.

    Another thing you learn as an experienced leader is that subordinates often want to be hard-assed. It is not some masochistic, psychological disorder. Rather, they test you by withholding affection to see how you react. They want you to stand up to them. Often, they they want you to be tough so they can blame you when they resist peer pressure and such. Often they test you to see if you deserve their respect. The Obama’s of the world flunk those tests because they see every such confrontation as a failure to try hard enough to win the person in question over.

    It is a common beginner manager mistake, but it is dangerously naive and ignorant for the President of the United States to be making such rookie mistakes.

    Bad people

    Some people are bad. They will misbehave as much as you let them. Generally, the leadership solution to such people is to identify them ASAP and get rid of them. The leaders of Korea and Iran seem to be examples of such people. Obama, however, seems to be trying to win them over with nice-guy tricks. Leaders like Churchill and Reagan called such leaders what they were: “evil,” and took appropriate action against them.

    Most people can go either way. If they can get away with bad, they will be bad. If they are required to be good, they will be good. A competent leader smacks down the bad people in the group promptly, decisively, and unequivocally such that the other people who can go either way wince and say, “Oh, I’m glad I didn’t misbehave like that guy. And I’m glad I learned what would happen to be if I did before I tried it. I’d better behave with this guy in charge.”

    Every group of subordinates also has good people. You don’t hard-ass them. You just tell them repeatedly to keep up their good work. You promote them. You try hard to retain them on your team.

    Once again, Obama has not figured out such elementary leadership lessons because of his militant avoiding of any training or job where he might have learned them.

    Energy Policy

    We have a quadrennial ritual and tradition in America since 1973—the first year people had to wait in lines to get gasoline.

    The tradition is candidates from the party that is out of power allege that the incumbents have, “no energy policy” and that “we have to end our dependence on foreign oil.” And, of course, they further claim that they have the correct energy policy that’s finally going to end our dependence on foreign oil.

    The out-of-power candidates said that in 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and now again in 2008. They will be saying it in 2012, 2016, 2020, and so on as well.

    What bullshit!

    No policy, please

    The correct government energy policy is no energy policy. We are a democracy. If you want to buy foreign oil. Enjoy. If you want to install solar collectors on your roof. Enjoy. Buy a Prius or Hummer. This is America.

    It’s none of the government’s business. More importantly, if the government gets involved in any way, it will make things worse. The market does the best job. The public is rarely thrilled with what the market does. But that same public is guaranteed to be less happy with what the government does.

    Gas lines

    In 1973 and 1979, we had gas lines all over the U.S. Politicians and ignoramuses blamed the oil companies. There were Congressional investigations. The findings? The gas lines, which did not exist at the same time in countries like Germany and Japan, were caused by the government’s allocation system, not by oil company misbehavior. The gas lines ended overnight when Energy czar William Simon decreed the government allocation system was over.

    For those too young to remember, an organization called Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was dominated by Arab countries. Angered over Western support for Israel, they refused to produce the normal amount of oil, called the Oil Embargo. They also refused to sell to the major Western countries, although that is meaningless because once the oil leaves their borders, it’s in the international market and the highest bidder can buy it.

    At that time, the biggest oil producer in the world was the United States. Germany and Japan were targets of the Oil Embargo. They produced zero oil. Yet they had no gas lines while every American sat in gas lines. Why? The Germans and Japanese let the market decide the prices and allocations of gasoline. Ultimately, the gas lines ended in the U.S. when Energy czar Bill Simon remembered that we were a capitalist country and let the market decide the prices and allocation of gasoline.

    To paraphrase Winston Churchill,

    The market is the worst way to set energy policy, except for all the others.

    ‘Alternative’ energy

    Politicians and the ignoramuses to whom they pander want to switch to “alternative” energy sources.

    Whenever you hear the word “alternative,” head for the exits and hang on to your wallet. For example, “alternative” life style is a euphemism for hippy.

    “Alternative energy” refers to wind, solar, geothermal, bio fuels, ethanol. Based on the actual definition of the word, you would think nuclear power would be an alternative fuel, but it’s not because, politically, liberals hate nuclear. I don’t know why. Seems like they would love it. The French do and liberals love the French. But some commissar decreed that liberals must hate nuclear, so they do.

    Alternative energy sources have also been defined as those that do not consume natural resources like oil, coal, or wood.

    The best definition of the word “alternative” when it comes to energy is “really expensive.”

    The left would have you believe that various energy sources are six of one and a half dozen of the other, that we can power our cars with gasoline or electricity and we only choose gasoline because we are stupid.

    No. We choose gasoline because we are NOT stupid.

    Wind

    Take wind. We could, and some have, used sails to power land wheeled vehicles. Wind, people say, is free. Unfortunately, sails are not. Furthermore, wind tends to blow in one direction, which often is not the direction you want to go. Also, sometimes wind blows too hard like hurricanes or tornadoes. Other times, it blows too soft or not at all. In other words, it’s unreliable.

    What about using windmills to generate electricity? It’s being tried. It only makes economic sense where there is lots of wind and public utility lines are too far away to run wires to the site in question. There are a bunch of windmills in the Altamont Pass which is near where I live. They generate electricity which I use in my home, but they have to be subsidized by the taxpayers because wind energy costs too much. Here is a statement from the Wikipedia article on Wind Power:

    Cost per unit of energy produced was estimated in 2006 to be comparable to the cost of new generating capacity in the United States for coal and natural gas: wind cost was estimated at $55.80 per MWh, coal at $53.10/MWh and natural gas at $52.50. [emphasis added]

    Wind advocates claim the cost is coming down and it will be competitive to coal and gas soon especially if the machinery is mass produced. Maybe so. But there is still the fact that how competitive wind is depends on how windy the locations of the windmills are. There are limited windy locations and they are not always close enough to populated areas. Transmitting electricity long distances costs money, too.

    In other words, at best, wind can only provide a small percentage of America’s electricity needs. And that cannot happen until wind becomes competitive with alternatives, if you’ll pardon the expression, like gas, oil, and coal.

    Solar

    Sun light may be free but solar ain’t. As with wind, it only makes economic sense where there is lots of sunlight and it’s a long way from utility lines. In California, the utilities actually install solar in remote homes that are far from existing power lines. There may be some government subsidy involved but it makes the point that solar only makes sense where it is very expensive to use traditional power lines. Other sensible applications are buoys, satellites in space, and small highway devices like this-is-your-speed signs and emergency telephones.

    Here is a list of comparable electricity costs per kilowatt hour from the http://www.solarbuzz.com/StatsCosts.htm photovoltaic cells Web site.

    gas 3 to 5¢/KWH
    wind 4 to 7¢
    biomass 7 to 9¢
    small diesel generator 20 to 40¢
    solar photovoltaic central plant 20 to 30¢
    solar photovoltaic on house 20 to 50¢

    In other words, photovoltaic solar would raise your electric bill by about seven to ten times. If you pay, say $200 a month, your bill would go up to $1,400 to $2,000 per month. Tell me again how we should use solar because sunlight is free, and it never runs out. Solar may not ever run out, but your bank account will run out if you power your home with “free” sunlight.

    Passive solar (windows, concrete floors, and such) can make sense in cold, sunny climates, but it is unreliable and must be supplemented by traditional energy sources. I am a quasi-engineer (West Point graduate). When we had our house built, I ran the numbers on whether passive solar would make economic sense for us. It did not because there are large trees behind our property and in our neighbors’ yard and because the winter climate is mild where we live in Northern California 30 miles from San Francisco Bay.

    Semi-passive solar like running water through solar panels to heat it up or pre-heat it can make sense in some climates. In Vietnam, we did not heat our shower water. We just put it in 55-gallon drums on the roof. The sun made sure it was always pleasantly warm. (Vietnam, on the other hand, was stinking hot.) Our guide in St. Lucia, a caribbean island said they did the same. But this again only would replace a tiny amount of energy currently obtained from fossil fuels and only in a few areas of the U.S.

    Ethanol

    We can grow corn, so why not burn ethanol in our cars instead of Arab oil? First, we do not burn Arab oil. We burn U.S., Mexican, and Canadian oil mostly. Although that’s a technicality. It has to do with transportation costs. Europeans burn Arab oil.

    A Wikipedia article on ethanol says,

    It is disputed whether ethanol as an automotive fuel results in a net energy gain or loss. As reported in "The Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol: an Update," the energy returned on energy invested (EROEI) for ethanol made from corn in the U.S. is 1.34 (it yields 34% more energy than it takes to produce it). Input energy includes natural gas based fertilizers, farm equipment, transformation from corn or other materials, and transportation. However, other researchers report that the production of ethanol consumes more energy than it yields.

    Environmentalists, livestock farmers, and opponents of subsidies say that increased ethanol production won’t meet energy goals and may damage the environment, while at the same time causing worldwide food prices to soar.

    Among the problems of ethanol are that it takes more energy to produce it than it saves so the nation is worse off energy wise if we burn ethanol. Again quoting Wikipedia,

    Oil has historically had a much higher EROEI than agriculturally produced ethanol, according to some.

    EROEI stands for Energy Returned on Energy Invested.

    I was not able to find the figures immediately, but I have read that without subsidies, and taking into account that you need more gallons of ethanol to go a given distance in your car than gasoline, ethanol costs the equivalent of eighteen dollars per gallon.

    Time cover story

    The 4/7/08 Time cover story said corn-based ethanol drives up food prices and makes global warming worse. I think global warming is a hoax, but if you believe in the global warming religion, you have to be outraged at the use of corn-based ethanol for motor vehicle fuel. If you are not outraged, you are an ignoramus or a hypocrite.

    Like I said, the phrase “alternative energy” means really expensive energy.

    Nuclear

    French officials said they wanted to diminish their reliance on foreign oil and they did—by going nuclear. France now gets 75% of its electricity from nuclear power and is the world’s largest exporter of electric power. The French also have the lowest electricity cost in Europe. Since the rest of their juice comes mainly from hydroelectric power, they produce near zero CO2 emissions from electricity generation for those of you who suffer from global warming derangement syndrome.

    This was a French government initiative that began in 1974 right after the first Arab Oil Embargo.

    I do not like government initiatives like this. Top government bureaucrats arguably should all be incarcerated to atone for the mind-boggling waste, fraud, and abuse they continually commit or tolerate. The last thing we need to is put them in charge of energy and give them billions more to waste not to mention exercising lousy judgment or substituting political consideration for the scientific judgment they are supposed to exercise.

    But what I would like to see in the U.S. is lifting restrictions against building nuclear power plants that are not truly necessary for safety. Apparently, nuclear power is viable as France and American nuclear powered submarines and surface ships have shown. When nuclear electric plants were first invented, there was talk of eliminating electric meters and just charging everyone a low flat fee per month. That promise was destroyed by liberal hysteria including movies like China Syndrome and Silkwood by accidents at Chernobyl and Three-Mile-Island.

    With reasonable restrictions, the market would cause more nuclear power plants to be built in the U.S. and that would probably be a good thing. It is at least a real way to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil as opposed to the quadrennial lies the politicians spout.

    Searching for more oil in the U.S.

    It almost goes without saying that our current policy of not allowing oil companies to extract oil from the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve or in most as yet unexplored regions of the U.S. coastal waters is mindless.

    Refinery construction

    The U.S. has not built an oil refinery in 33 years. This is ridiculous. The U.S. population went up 100 million people in that time.

    If a political party is responsible for how screwed America is oil wise, it is undoubtedly the Democrats. They oppose nuclear power, drilling for oil, and refinery construction. If Republicans had the power to implement their solutions to the energy problem, they would be receptive to all of those common-sense steps.

    Leftists are only in favor of the stuff that does not work, namely, so-called “alternative energy,” and they oppose the stuff that does work or is far more likely to work, namely, building nuclear plants, searching for oil in the U.S. and its territorial waters, and building new refineries.

    Conservation

    Leftists also like conservation measures. I write books and a newsletter for real estate investors. I used to own apartment complexes. As an apartment owner and as a writer for rental property owners, I and my readers are quite interested in conservation measures that actually work. Leftists, on the other hand, are suckers for any cockamamie conservation idea including many that do not work cost-effectively, like electric cars.

    Here’s the deal. I recommend any energy conservation measure that has a payback period of three years or less. That is, the amount you save per year multiplied by three years will equal or exceed the cost of the conservation device.

    Generally, the energy conservation devices that ought to be used are already being used by competent managers. The reason is it is their job to minimize expenses. Same is true for owners of rental properties and other businesses. They implement conservation measures if they are cost-effective and increase the bottom line, not because the leftists or the government say to. You still see more obsolete stuff at government buildings like schools—which are run by the do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do leftists.

    At a PTA meeting, the principal of my son’s school asked the audience for suggestions on how to save money. I raised my hand and said, “I am an expert on building management and wrote a book about it. I noticed you have screw-in incadescent light bulbs all over your exterior. They should be replaced by screw-in fluorescents. They use 2/3 less electricity.” He told me I had to call some bureaucrat in charge of bulding supplies or some such. “Why don’t you tell him?” “It’s not my job.” I was there months later and noticed they had not changed the bulbs. And I’ll bet that principal is a really vocal, big booster of alternative energy.

    What about energy prices going up and new technology?

    Real price changes sometimes cause conservation measures that were not previously cost effective to become cost-effective. But note the word “real.” It means after adjustment for inflation. Manys the time when gasoline or other energy prices go up and the public screams like a stuck pig. Then the media reports that, actually, after you adjust for inflation, energy prices are still lower than they were back in whatever year. In order to tell if energy prices have really gone up, use the cost-of-living index calculator at http://minneapolisfed.org/Research/data/us/calc/.

    Also, the advent of new technologies or a drop in cost of existing technologies can also move a conservation measure that previously was not cost-effective into the cost-effective category. Screw-in fluorescent light bulbs are an excellent case in point. When they first came out, I heard they cut electricity consumption by 2/3. I bought some to test them at my Fort Worth apartment complex. At that complex, the exterior flood lights on each building had their own meter with no other electric users. They worked exactly as advertised and I told the readers of my newsletter Real Estate Investor’s Monthly and my book How to Manage Residential Property For Maximum Cash Flow and Resale Value to get screw-in fluorescents. As they have become more popular, screw-in fluorescents have come down in cost so they are now even more cost-effective.

    Reportedly, LED type lights are coming and they promise to be even more cost-effective. Fine. Test them. If they work as advertised, replace your existing lights with LEDs.

    But you need to be far more skeptical than most people are about purported conservation measures. Test them to make sure they actually save enough money to be cost-effective. Over time, either because of real increases in energy prices or because of new technology or real decreases in the cost conservation devices, additional conservation measures will become cost-effective. Some that often are not cost-effective include insulation, double-pane windows in moderate climate areas, fans that blow hot air out of attics, and so forth. (Do not write to me that I am wrong about those because you have one and you couldn’t possibly be wrong. The issue is decided by arithmetic, not religious debates. As I said, I am a quasi engineer. I ran the numbers. I have zero interest in any religious debates about the value of attic exhaust fans or skylights or other common forms of energy stupidity.)

    Obama says he is going to spend $150 billion of taxpayer’s money on clean alternative energy research thereby producing energy independence and good-paying jobs. He fails to admit that the federal government arleady spent $57.5 billion doing just that from 1978 to the present. It all failed. (See Forbes 11/24/08) The money was wasted.

    I appreciate informed, well-thought-out constructive criticism and suggestions.

    John T. Reed