Saturday, February 23, 2013


Thrown out of the ring... right onto the concrete. Granted, it took several of 'em to do it, but when one is laying there bruised, battered, bloodied, even figuratively as in his case, that doesn't seem to matter much. What matters at that moment is easing the pain, doesn't it.

As SplatDude, again figuratively, lay there moaning, groaning, and whining, a familiar looking pair of 10 pound Wingtips appeared in front of him. These ultimately attached to the smiling, mustachioed face of one of those capital F friends telling him to get up.

"Huh?" said he. "Get up. We have work to do. I need a salesman in South Carolina." said Mr. Wingtips.

"I'm not a salesman." replied SplatDude.
"You built the company you just let your wife and her accomplices take away from you."
"So. That and a buck and a half'll buy a large McCoffee."
"That's a salesman."
"I don't even have a car. She had mine repossessed."
"Fix that."
"I don't have any money, and every time I turn around there's another bill they've run up and dumped on me."
"I'll give you an advance on your first month's commissions. Get up. We have work to do." repeated Mr. Wingtips as he turned to leave.

I've been to Peddlers' School, Sandler Training if it makes any difference. I flunked out. I never was able to get the hang of reading purchase requisitions upside down, but before that happened there were several valuable lessons. One of those was to sell, not tell. But I'll always remember my first training session with those folks too.

So there we were, in a conference room of one of Charlotte's primo el spiffo hotels in the high rent district on the southeast side. There were hot looking babes all around the room, employees of the guy running the show. I think he was testing our ability to focus on the training and not, um, well, you know... hormones. All those salesmen with their own 10 pound Wingtips, expensive three piece suits, gold Cross pens, Day-Timers... saleswomen too, with their analogous accoutrements... and then there was me, ichi wa, cheap suit, sneakers because I'd snagged the toe of my expensive shoes on a door threshold in a customer's office that day and ripped the sole back to the heel so it flopped like Bozo the Clown's, and a yellow legal pad with standard issue Pentel P205 semi-automatic pencil. Dude came in the room. Everyone got quiet and he began "You are what you are because of a series of choices you've either made or allowed others to make for you."

I wrote that down. I wrote down "you're sellin' not tellin'," too. It was one of his favorite expressions.

Choices... life truly is nothing but a series of choices isn't it. "I didn't ask for this" some might say. But allowing someone else to make a choice for us is still making a choice, isn't it. It's making a choice to allow someone else make a decision we should be making for ourselves. Choices is an interesting subject in and of itself.

"YeeHaa!"... "Yes!"... "Hott'n spit'n!" (that's German, means "Hot spit!"... except the old Bavarian dude who owned the company back when I had a real job always said it was only used by those Yankee Krauts, that down in the south they didn't use such slang expressions)... "Gnarly, baby, that's gnarly." But no matter what the exclamation, can't we all just imagine many politicians making at least one of them, some maybe even doing a little victory dance, when they perceive having stumbled upon something that virtually guarantees support by a significant population segment?

We hear a lot about rights, don't we. We hear "I have a right to free speech" or "my right to free speech is being violated, they won't let me talk on the radio" or "I'm being censored, they won't print my opinion letters in the paper" or "I have a right to eat in a smoke free restaurant" or "I have a right to pack a piece anywhere I want" or "it's my property, I can do anything I want with it" or "I have a right to the work environment I want" or "I have a right to a place to live" or "I have a right to a living wage" or any number of other rights people claim, don't we.

In order to maintain a civil society we must all agree, in some instances, to forgo some of our personal rights. If not explicitly, we do so implicitly. Oh, we citizens certainly never truly give up any of our rights, but occasionally we must be willing to accept the consequences when we invoke them. Judges, for example, maintain their right to free speech even in office, but when they choose to run for judicial office they know full well there will be an oath of office that they'll abide by certain judicial canons which state they will not engage in certain activities. That can be a real bummer when they want to lobby legislators. All elected officials and most public employees, for us taxpayers - both are the hired help, take an oath of office requiring them to act for the public benefit before their own. They certainly have a right to violate these oaths, but they must also be prepared to suffer consequences for doing so.

We have certain basic, unalienable and indefeasible rights. God granted, Constitutionally guaranteed rights... that life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness deal stated in our Declaration of Independence. Included in this, and basic to all of our liberties, is the right to own property. Without a right of ownership, to be secure without fear of someone coming into our homes or onto our property unless invited, there is no liberty, is there.

In the case of exercising our right to free speech, we do not have a right to use the property of another citizen to exercise that right, or any of our other rights for that matter. Want to talk on the radio, free exercise of the public airwaves? It's easy to buy the equipment to set up our own radio station... just as it is to build an organization to present the news, either on the internet or in print. The owner of a private enterprise is not obligated to allow others to use their property to exercise their rights. In other words... go buy your own. It's as simple as that.

Okay, so we have a God granted natural right to own property guaranteed by our Constitution, the absolute law of the land, our land, your land and my land... this land is your land, this land is my land, from California, to the New York island... but I digress, and apologies to Woody Guthrie.

We have a natural right to own property, the fruits of our labor. We also have a natural right to do with our property what we want, when we want, with whom ever we want... as long as we don't infringe upon the rights of another citizen. Eddie, of the Haskel clan, has every right to swing and flail his arms, to show off those ultra smooth taikoocharooci moves of his, but his right to do so ends at the tip of my nose. When he chooses to infringe upon my rights, or those of anyone else, he also chooses to abide by the consequences of that act when we turn around and dot his eye for him. Choices all have consequences.

Most businesses in this nation are founded and built by an individual or group of individuals who have an idea and a dream. They often start out with nothing more than a satchel full of tools, a computer, some office equipment, or other tools of their respective trades. Except for those like a friend who believes what The Book says, that the borrower truly is slave to the lender, many begin in debt, with all of their personal equity pledged as collateral to the lenders. They begin an organizational culture around their personal beliefs. They build the business to a level at which they need to hire employees. They develop a set of rules, based upon their personal beliefs, that must apply to all employees equally. Now, when someone applies for a job, is screened, made an offer of employment, and accepts that offer of employment for the agreed upon wage and benefit package, what right does that employee, who really has nothing invested in that company but the time to apply for a job, have to subsequently complain about wages and benefits? They made a choice to accept the deal. Aren't they then obligated to abide by their own choice, their own decision? If the deal changes, as they sometimes do, there's another choice to be made... either live with the changes or seek employment elsewhere. Correct? Employees do not normally own a company. What right do they have to demand control of it? What right do they have to infringe upon someone else's dream?

I had an interesting discussion about this very issue with a candidate for public office a while back. Although we must respect his determination in recalling Chattanooga's Mayor Littlefield, he's absolutely wrong when it comes to government forcing a property owner to allow visitors, even if they're employees they're still visitors to property owned by someone else, to possess weapons in their vehicles while on someone else's property. He sees no issue with liability of the property owner if an incident occurs. He sees no issue of one person's rights being subordinated by those of another. He sees no problem with one group, using the power and force of a government gun, forcing another individual or group to submit to their wishes, even if it subordinates the natural rights of a property owner. This, from someone who would like to be elected to an office that would allow him to make rules concerning citizens' rights.

But I've had similar discussions with Jim Folkner in the past. He was fine with Richard Floyd taking the lead to tell me I'm a criminal for smoking in my own office, or that Joe down at Schmuckatelli's Diner can't allow smoking in his eatery, because he, Mr. Folkner, might want to eat there in a smoke free environment. We've had discussions about employers using the e-Verify system to confirm a prospective employee's immigration status, and he felt that 2 to 5 minute phone call was too great a burden on him as an employer for his rock harvesting, or any other, business. He also felt it was too great a burden in that same business to ensure rain water didn't wash silt down stream after a rain. Isn't that the very reason Atlanteans want to come stick a big straw into the Tennessee River right now, because of their own actions Lake Lanier and Alatoona Lake are filling up with silt and their drinking water supply is going away?

In the interest of full disclosure; yes, I have suggested that Mr.Folkner might want to seek other means of changing the system if that's what he wants to do.

But like so many elected officials, and those who would like to be, we're supposed to support our "friends," aren't we. We're supposed to support our homies, no matter how incorrect their beliefs may be. Someone may be the nicest person in the world, but still have a totally inappropriate perspective of the function of government.

And then there are those who would use government, that's like all of the rest of us and our wallets, to finance their personal feel-good projects. The Commish would like to use TaxBucks to set his son up in business, millions of taxpayer dollars for 10 or 15 new jobs, jobs that would go to carpetbaggers coming in from out of town, justifying his effort with the cliché "build it and they will come." Who's trying to fool whom? He'll also tell us that without government support "the arts" would have difficulty surviving... forgetting that a good product will always have a market. But someone with a history of difficulty keeping a job might believe such things himself, because he never learned, or had to learn, those life lessons and must resort to what he sees in a movie or on television. And boy howdy does he get pithy when someone busts him trying to stick his hand in the taxpayer cookie jar.

But councilman Manny Rico has the same difficulty, doesn't he. Even worse, if we consider the smile on his face during that TV interview three years ago, he thinks it's funny to double citizens' taxes by involuntarily annexing them into Chattanooga while tripling the rain tax for the entire city. When he states, on camera for the world to see, that the most recent round of annexations to the city of Chattanooga is nothing more than a grab for more money? And basic services are in decline, especially cops, while he votes in support of frufru artsy tartsy projects? "Pay it now or pay more later," he says... my aching, uh, elbow.

And these have the unmitigated gall to call themselves Republicans? And the standard they're held to is? Even by the elite members of the political party to which they claim affiliation? But who, exactly, do those elites, of both parties, support? Their homies who believe the same way they do and those they believe they can control. On occasion they'll pick the candidate they believe will win, so they can say they never pick a loser. And just exactly where has that gotten our nation? This, the greatest nation to ever grace the face of Planet Terra, with a national debt greater than our gross national product, a national debt that's almost doubled in just the past five years.

Do the elites support someone like Guy Satterfield, a BikerDude who's out on the street knocking on doors and working to improve the city he loves? No. Do they support Larry Grohn, who's spent most of his adult life working with kids, trying to teach them there's a better way, and wants nothing more than to improve his adopted home city by paying attention to basics first? Did they support Deb Scott when she ran for office four years ago? Do they support anyone who's primary focus is on what's best for citizens, all citizens, before themselves? If we stop and think about it, the answer to those questions is an absolute no. They're only interested in supporting their homies, those who will benefit them, often to the detriment of the rest of us.

Worse yet, there are calls to boycott the elections coming up in a few days. What good does that do? Why not get out and encourage people to vote instead of taking a cowardly, easy path that requires little or no effort? Why not call all the neighbors, and encourage friends to call theirs, to carpool over to the voting places? It's easy to call for a boycott. It's difficult to, as my Mom always says, "get up off your duff and do something" about a problem, isn't it.

It's hard to believe I've left Chuck, Mr. Speaker Boehner, and the rest of congress alone, huh.

The political elite insult us, all of us, by even insinuating we don't know what's best for our own lives, that they need to take care of us because we're incompetent to tend to our own needs, don't they. To listen to them, one might easily conclude they believe that life is nothing more than a [poop] sandwich and they're going to save us from having to take a bite every day. But who are the incompetents? Whose actions backfire and cause more problems than we had in the first place? Who's refusing to listen to whom? Who's so arrogant, or so gutless, they can't admit they're doing nothing more than making a mess of this wonderful experiment in self governance and destroying what should be the bounty we pass down to our heirs? Is it the political elite or common, everyday old Joe and Jane Schmuckatelli.

I submit it's the political class. They can't sell their ideas to us because they're garbage, and we all know it, so they have to tell us what we're going to do... and use the power of a government gun to enforce their edicts.

But then we have those like Mr. Wingtips and SplatDude, both of whom I've known for a very long time. When SplatDude lost everything he didn't turn to the government for help, even to draw unemployment which he was entitled to after making unemployment insurance payments for his employees all those years. He started looking for a job. Mr. Wingtips gave him some breathing room, time to get his head screwed back on straight, then mercilessly threw him back in the ring to go a few more rounds... without government assistance. Both have gone on to give others a hand up over the years as well.

America, Americans helping Americans without government intervention or assistance, and in spite of government interference... is this a great country, are we a great people, or what?

Note to self: send pairs of brass BBs to all elected officials, especially congress. It'll be more than most have now.

Royce Burrage, Jr.

Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy

One of the hardest things for me to do is to say "goodbye".  I had my retirement lunch Friday for being with the Telecommunications Department for Hamilton County government after a little over 10 years. My last day is this Tuesday, the 24th.  To some, it doesn't make any difference, but to me, from working on televisions in the 70s, on Oscilloscopes for Tektronics, ... (click for more)

Marc Gravitt Is The Best Choice For Register Of Deeds

I tell people that I’ve known Marc Gravitt, “since he was just pup”.  During my many years as CFO and executive vice president of what used to be Union Planters National Bank (now Regions Bank), I worked with Marc on many projects.  Most recently, serving for many years as the former CEO and president of the Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee here in Chattanooga, ... (click for more)

TBI Puts Man Who Killed 4 At Waffle House On Its "10 Most Wanted" List

A man who killed four people and injured two others at a Waffle House near Nashville on Sunday morning is still on the loose and has been added to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's ‘Top 10 Most Wanted’ list. He was identified as Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, Ill., was arrested last year when he was in a restricted area at the White House in Washington, D.C. Reinking ... (click for more)

Dayton Teen Arrested After Running From Deputies On Highway 60; Passenger Caught With Drugs

Hamilton County Sheriff deputies caught up with a Dayton teen who drove off at a high rate of speed on Highway 60 on Sunday afternoon. A passenger in the vehicle was caught with drugs. At approximately  5 p.m. , deputies observed a white Chrysler 200 traveling south in the 7800 block of Highway 60 at a high rate of speed. The driver was improperly passing other vehicles ... (click for more)

Orange Overwhelms White, 34-7, In Tennessee Spring Game

KNOXVILLE – After almost a month of spring camp and four quarters of ones versus twos, one glaring question remains: how much will the fall arrival of graduate transfer Keller Chryst change the dynamic of the battle for starting quarterback?   While new Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt was calling for an electric atmosphere at Saturday’s Orange and White game, the ... (click for more)

Stoker, Tate Prevail In 50th Chickamauga Chase 15K

They couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day weather-wise for the oldest and longest running race on the Chattanooga Track Club’s schedule. Temperatures were cool, but not cold, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.   Add to that the fact there was very little wind and you have perfect conditions for the 50 th Annual Chickamauga Chase. A lot has changed with this ... (click for more)