Search This Blog

Loading...

Friday, May 01, 2015

Retirement – Personal Invention and Re-Invention


If one aspires to simply maintain one’s material life style, retain responsibility for those close to us and relax as objectives, that is one form of retirement – call it maintenance.

Many cannot undertake a maintenance retirement due to challenges such as the economic events of recent years, family responsibilities involving their children, or aging parents. They must continue to generate an income but must adjust to advancing age and find new ways to generate revenue.

I hear from many individuals at “Small to Feds” http://www.smalltofeds.com who seek to go into business for themselves on-line or in the home as a way to supplement their retirement.

Given reasonably good health and a responsibility-free environment, most find retirement rather boring after a time and seek continued professional growth. In fact it has been espoused that such a lethargic existence can be hazardous to our health.

Balance is the key – Balancing age with wisdom, lifestyle with responsibility and available means; a new professional endeavor, volunteer work, recreation, the arts, – that which gives meaning to continued existence.

If the need to generate revenue is a prominent factor, care must be taken in assessing risk to health and fortune by investing too much in effort or treasure. That is where the balance comes in.

We have heard 40 is the new 30, but yet I think “old” seems to always stay the same distance for me. At 25 I thought 50 was old, at 35 I thought 60 was old, now that I am approaching 70 years of age, 95 is old.

I know true age is more a matter of mind. I took a fall on the ice in front of the Middle School and 2 dozen 5th graders. The fall didn’t hurt nearly as much as the laughter and the subsequent whispers this year, “There goes that old guy again, do you think he might fall?”

I took a nap out in the wildlife refuge in a beautiful stand of aromatic pines. When I awoke I found two huge turkey buzzards staring at me intently from their perch nearby. I had known I was getting older but had not realized I had reached the carrion stage.

I reported a pollution spill in the Vermilion River and the Minneapolis paper picked up the story. A reader commented on the web site that the Minnesota pollution control program had now been relegated to an “Old Guy” in the vets home.

I feel fine about getting old. It’s how I am perceived by others that bothers me.

We will all retire in some form. We have no choice. What we invent or re-invent along the way to make the most of it is our personal challenge.

Ken Larson



Wednesday, April 01, 2015

WAR WEARY - DISINTERESTED AMERICA & ITS SOLDIERS

Image Oocities.com

As the U.S. continues into a second decade of the war on terror, our citizens and our volunteer military are growing disinterested and weary respectively. 

The Military Industrial Complex (MIC) continues to make grand strides in technology, spending billions on new air craft and naval vessels, cyber warfare tools and sensors, while we downsize the combat soldiers to stand in the job line or wait for admission to veterans’ hospitals. 

CRITERIA FOR WINNING

“THE ATLANTIC”

“Although no one can agree on an exact figure, our dozen years of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and neighboring countries have cost at least $1.5 trillion.

Yet from a strategic perspective, to say nothing of the human cost, most of these dollars might as well have been burned. “At this point, it is incontrovertibly evident that the U.S. military failed to achieve any of its strategic goals in Iraq,” a former military intelligence officer named Jim Gourley wrote recently for Thomas E. Ricks’s blog, Best Defense. “Evaluated according to the goals set forth by our military leadership, the war ended in utter defeat for our forces.”

In 13 years of continuous combat under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the longest stretch of warfare in American history, U.S. forces have achieved one clear strategic success: the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Their many other tactical victories, from overthrowing Saddam Hussein to allying with Sunni tribal leaders to mounting a “surge” in Iraq, demonstrated great bravery and skill. But they brought no lasting stability to, nor advance of U.S. interests in, that part of the world.

When ISIS troops overran much of Iraq last year, the forces that laid down their weapons and fled before them were members of the same Iraqi national army that U.S. advisers had so expensively yet ineffectively trained for more than five years.”

The Tragedy of the American Military 


RISK ASSESSMENT

Our government has not considered the risks, the indigenous cultural impact, the expense and the sacrifices required to sustain the nation building that must occur after we invade countries in pursuit of perceived enemies and place the burden of governance on military personnel who are not equipped to deal with it or manage USAID contractors who have profit motives in mind and corruption as a regular practice.

“POGO”

"Cost-plus contracts have long been criticized by government watchdogs like the Project On Government Oversight and waste-conscious lawmakers. Most recently, incoming Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) bluntly stated that these contracts are “disgraceful” and should be banned."
  
Your Tax Dollars Defrauded

 THOSE WHO HAVE FOUGHT ASK GOOD QUESTIONS

‘NEW YORK TIMES”

“There are 26 veterans from the United States’ two most recent wars serving in the House and Senate.

Many say their experience in Iraq and Afghanistan taught them that the American military cannot fix what is fundamentally a cultural and political issue: the inability of governments to thwart extremism within their own borders.

Ted Lieu of California, said he would not support giving Mr. Obama the formal authority he had requested because, like many veterans, he finds it difficult to see how the conflict will ever end.

“The American military is an amazing force. We are very good at defeating the enemy, taking over territory, blowing things up,” said Mr. Lieu, who served in the Air Force and remains in the Air Force Reserve as a lieutenant colonel. “But America has traditionally been very bad at answering the next question, which is what do you do after that.”

Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan now serving in Congress have emerged as some of the most important voices in the debate over whether to give President Obama a broad authorization for a military campaign against the Islamic State or something much more limiting.”

Veterans in Congress Bring Rare Perspective

NO SKIN IN THE GAME

"THE ATLANTIC"

“A people untouched (or seemingly untouched) by war are far less likely to care about it,” Andrew Bacevich wrote in 2012. Bacevich himself fought in Vietnam; his son was killed in Iraq. “Persuaded that they have no skin in the game, they will permit the state to do whatever it wishes to do.”
 The Tragedy of the American Military

BUYING OUR WAY OUT?


Foreign aid in the billions continues to the Middle East.  US weapons export sales have reached a crescendo, increasing by 31% to 94 countries. with the Middle East receiving the line share.

US Arms Exports Increase 31% 

A single Weapon, the 1.4 Trillion dollar F-35 will soon account for 12% of our total national debt.

The 1.4 $Trillion F-35 Aircraft 

QUOTE BY ERIC PRINCE, EX- CEO BLACKWATER:

“NATIONAL DEFENSE MAGAZINE”

"The world is a much more dangerous place, there is more radicalism, more countries that are melting down or approaching that state." 

At the same time, the Pentagon is under growing pressure to cut spending and the cost of the all-volunteer force keeps rising, Prince said. 

"The U.S. military has mastered the most expensive way to wage war, with a heavy expensive footprint." Over the long run, the military might have to rely more on contractors, as it will become tougher to recruit service members. 

Prince cited recent statistics that 70 percent of the eligible population of prospective troops is unsuitable to serve in the military for various reasons such as obesity, lack of a high school education, drug use, criminal records or even excessive tattoos. In some cases, Prince said, it might make more sense to hire contractors.”

What's Eric Prince Been Up To?

QUESTIONS FOR THE READER:

Did not the Roman Empire run into these issues when they outsourced their wars and went to the baths?

Image: Photolibra
What makes us believe this worldwide war of attrition can continue indefinitely and that our younger generations are going to be willing to enlist and/or pay the bills?

 
Can we insist our government representatives consider these factors and plan ahead?


Future generations, their wealth, health and treasure will depend on our answers.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

THE VA - AN UPDATE BY A SERVICE VETERAN ON DEPARTMENT PROGRESS AND PROCLIVITIES


                                                                        Records Backlog at a VA Center

HISTORY

In September of 2012 this site published an article on the VA and its efforts to improve services to veterans as well as support small business. It was noted from personal experience that excellent care was being received by those in the system but that there was a growing backlog of cases and lack of an effective process to support getting a faster rate of entrance by those returning from the battlefield. 
 
Also noted were disturbing trends in outlandishly expensive conferences and ridiculous video productions, wasting funds earmarked for veteran care. Red flags were going up in the Inspector General office regarding mismanagement of small business set aside programs as well. 



UPDATE 
 
Much as occurred since September of 2012. 
 
Last month (January 2015) I visited the VA in Minneapolis for a blood analysis in connection with my annual physical. I marveled at the hundreds of personnel who were going through the blood draw process at 8AM that morning. Polite technicians handled everyone carefully and courteously. My test results were on my doctor's computer for my 11 AM appointment that day.
 
In 2012 I used the VA hospital courtesy center computers for veterans, finding them hopelessly out of date, security-bound and barely functioning. During my January 2015 visit I found beautifully functioning high speed computers and a courteous attendant serving many veterans at the the center
.
On my most recent visit I also went to the department that handles I.D. Cards and applied for a new one, having been informed my card was out of date. I was attended by a sharp technician who checked my credentials, transferred by data, took my picture and processed my application inside of 20 minutes and I was behind several others. 
 
We who are in the system are still receiving fine service. 
 
But the massive number of returning veterans has strained the VA Health Care System to the point where the Department Secretary has been fired. A corporate executive from outside the system has been placed in charge. The department has been massively reorganized into 5 regions across the country to deal with a scandalous scenario of wait times and neglect in services for incoming veterans. 

 

We forecast the above situation.  It is principally due to the fact that the 5 armed forces medical records systems are not connected to the VA Health Care System and the government contractors who have attempted to develop a system to connect them have failed miserably. 

"Next Gov"

" Defense and VA Scrap New Electronic Health Record after estimated costs ballooned to $28 billion. By Congress’ count, the doomed effort – a result of the 2008 Defense Authorization Act – already cost taxpayers more than $1 billion. "
 

THE FUTURE

Congress is focusing on firing personnel as a remedy. In our view that is symptom-like remedy, not a solution. 

 
We now have a corporate bureaucrat in charge of the department who is running it like a corporation, reorganizing and establishing a 5-headed bureau under him. There will no doubt be 5 separate fiefdoms to manage. Who knows what will happen to requirements for IT as existing IT system designs get split 5 ways? 

Government contracting services companies are continuing to have a field day, growing rich and failing in the classic fashion we saw with the Obama Care roll out.  Success is not a money-making proposition for these firms.  They get their monthly bills paid as they march hundreds of service workers into government buildings to catch the latest whim of the civil service program managers as they change specifications depending on which way the wind is blowing in the massive bureaucracy.

We believe those who are lucky enough to have entered the system will continue to receive good care. 

We pity those younger or seasoned injured and ill who are knocking on the door and waiting to get in.








Sunday, February 01, 2015

The Citizen and the Citizen Military – What Lies Ahead?




Military pay raises are minimal, high profile overstuffed general officers and admirals are bad for morale (revolving door and pensions higher than career pay). What is the mix of technology and manpower required to fight today’s wars? How do we acquire, train and retain what we need? Reserves and National Guard involve long term multiple deployments with no assurance of a future for those who return.  We now have a chairman of the Armed Services Committee that wants to go to war with everyone:



The following are 3 perspectives from experts:

Can YOU answer the Citizen's Question at the end?


PERSPECTIVE 1 – From a Military Man

Mark Seip a senior Navy fellow at the Atlantic Council recently noted the cultural and conception gap that exists between America and it volunteer armed forces: 

“From the military side, many of us feel that we are unique to our generation in our calling; that we rose above the self-absorbed stereotype often associated with both Gen Xers and Millennials to protect our nation. We accept significant time away from our families, often subpar working conditions compared to our civilian counterparts, and average pay in relation to the skills we possess in order to wear the uniform. Moreover, as our nation’s warrior corps we assume a level of risk since time immemorial, that our occupation entails a distinct possibility of loss of life. Our service therefore requires a level of confidence and self-assurance to do our jobs and take the risks required.


Second, the widening gap is a function of exposure, both in numbers and in proximity. As Fallows points out, 2.5 million served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. To provide context, according to an NPR study 8.7 million served in some capacity in Vietnam. Furthermore, during Vietnam the majority of the generation at that time had fathers and mothers who served in some capacity either in WWII, Korea or both. Today, however, the actual number and/or the tangential family tie to the military is lower, reinforcing the distance between those in service and the rest of the nation.”


PERSPECTIVE 2 - From a Military Contractor

Eric Prince, the former CEO of Black Water continues to insist that private security employees working for the U.S. government in warzones should be tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, instead of the civilian criminal justice system.

"It’s quite different for a jury that is 7,000 miles away from the warzone, looking at a split-second decision made seven years earlier in a warzone, minutes after a large car bomb goes off." Prince said he hopes the guards' convictions can be successfully appealed. "The last chapter is not written yet."

Although he quit the business, Prince still sees a future for the private security business.

 "The world is a much more dangerous place, there is more radicalism, more countries that are melting down or approaching that state." At the same time, the Pentagon is under growing pressure to cut spending and the cost of the all-volunteer force keeps rising, Prince said.

 "The U.S. military has mastered the most expensive way to wage war, with a heavy expensive footprint." Over the long run, the military might have to rely more on contractors, as it will become tougher to recruit service members. Prince cited recent statistics that 70 percent of the eligible population of prospective troops is unsuitable to serve in the military for various reasons such as obesity, lack of a high school education, drug use, criminal records or even excessive tattoos. In some cases, Prince said, it might make more sense to hire contractors.”

 
PERSPECTIVE 3 – From a Military Analyst

“DEFENSE ONE” Notes:

“The film “American Sniper” about legendary Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle broke box office records this holiday season when the picture earned a million dollars in five days on only a handful of screens. It is time we grappled with America’s actual wars and their real-time, life and death consequences, once again with as much dedication as we line up to watch them play out on the big screen.

The military may be fighting a war. Or wars. But we, as a country, are not. In USA Today’s list of its most read articles of 2014, neither the war in Afghanistan nor the simmering fight in Iraq – to which U.S. troops are headed back – cleared the top 10. The same is true for Yahoo’s list of its most searched stories. No Iraq or Afghanistan in sight.

It is nearly inconceivable but somehow true that in the 2013 government shutdown, death benefits for the families of those killed in action fighting for the United States also shut off.”

 The Movies Vs. Real War


Citizen's question: Could or should we reinstate the draft?

Thursday, January 01, 2015

FREE SMALL BUSINESS GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING BOOKS AND SUPPLEMENTS




The below table of contents reflects free small business federal government contracting materials available at Small To Feds.


You may download the book, Small Business Federal Government Contracting and its supplement from the "Box" in the right margin below at this site.  Blue topic titles are the basic book and red topics are contained in the supplement. 

Use the links beneath the table to access more recent articles at Smalltofeds since the publication of the book and the supplement.

(Please click on image to enlarge)


























RECENT MATERIAL LINKS (Not included in Above)

SMALL BUSINESS COMPANY TRAINING

MANAGING INDUSTRY TEAMING RELATIONSHIPS

UTILIZING THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA) 

GOVERNMENT CONTRACT BID PROTESTS 

UNSOLICITED GOVERNMENT CONTRACT PROPOSALS


VITAL TIPS FOR PROJECT MANAGEMENT 

FIXED PRICE VS. COST PLUS IN CONTRACTING 

MAKING AN ASUTE BID/NO BID DECISION 

THE TRUTH IN NEGOTIATIONS ACT (TINA) 


You may also benefit from the free "Reference Materials" in the second, vertical "Box" in the left margin below.  Contract agreements, incorporation instructions for all the US states, guidance on marketing and business planning are all included. 

Other free books by Ken Larson, available as downloads from the "Box" include:

"A Veteran's Photo/Poetry Journal of Recovery
From Post Traumatic Stress Disorder " 


"Odyssey of Armaments" My Journey Through the Defense Industrial Complex"




Monday, December 01, 2014

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ROSE COVERED GLASSES

                                                   PLEASE CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Saturday, November 01, 2014

THE MANAGEMENT OF OUR LEADERS MUST SPRING FROM WITHIN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

Photo Credit: (Taken from a magnetized seal on the door of an F-150 Truck in Hastings, MN - driver would not disclose where he acquired it).

Geopolitical expert, George Friedman at STRATFOR and Columnist Aaron David Miller have recently maintained that the office of the American Presidency is designed to disappoint and that the time of great US Presidents is past. 

Friedman:

“Each candidate must promise things that are beyond his power to deliver. No candidate could expect to be elected by emphasizing how little power the office actually has and how voters should therefore expect little from him. So candidates promise great, transformative programs. What the winner actually can deliver depends upon what other institutions, nations and reality will allow him.”


Miller:

"Greatness in the presidency is too rare to be relevant in our modern times and - driven as it is in our political system by big crisis - too risky and dangerous to be desirable. Our continued search for idealized presidents raises our expectations and theirs, skews presidential performance, and leads to an impossible standard that can only frustrate and disappoint. To sum up: We can no longer have a truly great president, we seldom need one, and, as irrational as it sounds, we may not want one, either." 

 PUTTING THE CITIZEN BACK IN GOVERNMENT

As we approach the National Mid Term Elections and turn our focus to a new Presidency as well, we should examine the true strength that springs from our form of government. That strength is in each of us. It simply needs to be projected in managing our leaders.  We must manage our government by becoming involved, conveying to our officials what we individually value and making sure they understand our views continually, not just during an election season.



Technology has made the above objective easier more communicative and effective.

It is not only our vote that is golden but our opinion via surveys and direct input to our government as well. Collectively we must replace the lobbyist, the Super PAC and the stagnated political process by getting through to the pols with focused precision. Social networking, pressure via the collective use of email, public meetings, the press and the media is possible on an individual basis. It is a  matter of becoming motivated to use what is ours and what we pay for with our taxes.

BECOMING OUR OWN MEDIA SOUND BITE, LOBBY AND "IPAC" (INDIVIDUAL PERSON POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE)

It is generally accepted that money drives politics. We must change that outlook by putting ourselves as individuals in the driver seat, tuning out the ludicrous media ads, pulling out our bull horns and expressing how we feel. Where others speak with their money we must convey our values with technology, persistence and management.

Let's examine our daily life, our hopes for the future for ourselves and our families and succinctly provide guidance to those who represent us – locally, at the state level and particularly in Washington.




Letters to the editor, blogging, social networking, and physical visits to town hall meetings, representative's offices and similar individual activities exercise strength and grow robust participation. Collectively, the rest of the presently stagnated structure will follow our lead. 

If we believe we need training in communication we must get it, practice and nurture it. If we know someone who is good at oral and written conveyances we must team with he or she and "Bull Horn" the views we personally believe must be addressed. 

In an election year and throughout the year we cannot say we have not the time. We must take the time to exercise our rights or others will  sell them.