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Monday, January 03, 2022

A Thank You and 4 Gifts from Ken Larson


Approaching 15 years in volunteer small business consulting, I appreciate the nearly 8,000 individuals who have contacted me for advice. 

You have come from many venues through the Micro Mentor and SCORE Foundations, Linked In and other social media sites.  It has been a pleasure serving small business. 

My work with you has kept me active in retirement, in touch with my profession and engaged in a continuous learning mode as we have followed the world's largest consumer - The US Federal Government. 

Please feel free to download any of the 4 free books available here. 

My best wishes for success to you all. 

Ken Larson

Monday, December 27, 2021



Thursday, December 16, 2021

Minnesota Veterans Home Hastings and The State's Growing, Progressive Program for Veterans Care

Photo:  Dakota County Tech College
Panoramic Photo Tour - MN Vets Home Hastings - Use "Open Index Feature"

Editors Note:  I enjoyed participating in the following podcast featuring the veterans community in which I have resided for the last 15 years.  With 3 more homes on the horizon in Bemidji, Montevideo and Preston, adding to the existing 5 vets homes in  the state, Minnesota is at the forefront of health care for its military veterans.  

Ken Larson 

"Minnesota Military Radio"

"This week we meet with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and learn about the Minnesota Veterans Homes, discuss Military and Absentee Voting with Secretary of State Steve Simon, find out about the upcoming Nearly Naked Ruck March and get an update from our County Veteran Service Officer. Guests include:
Podcast link: (Turn On Your Computer Sound) Minnesota Military Radio

Thursday, December 09, 2021

10 Reasons To Avoid The Next World War


Conflicting parties must recognize the following facts:

1. The pace of technology, communication and weapons has now outpaced the necessity for war as a means of advancing progress. The threat is too great for mutually assured destruction.

2. We are on new ground, never experienced before in terms of being "Wired" as a world - economically, socially, environmentally and scientifically

3. Recent events involving US war "Interventions" and the incredibly out of control nature of the Military Industrial Complex have demonstrated their danger, their folly and their contribution to the largest national debt ever to grace the face of the earth.

4. Alternatives to war in terms of scientific advancement not only are required, but are in progress.

5. The war makers are operating on world credit subject to world approval.

6. The environment is screaming for protection and we will get on with it.

7. Conflicting ideas, if managed constructively, can yield a hybrid solution to a challenge that is a better product or service than either side of the initial equation.

8. The key to managing international relations constructively is fostering an environment respectful of all points of view but led by individuals who are driving to fulfilling peaceful, progressive objectives as a first priority and who blend differences of opinion decisively.

9. Winning and losing are being redefined by the above.

10. We can no longer as a world community continue the present course of wars.

The assumption here is that the reader will be intuitively arrive at the conclusion that war is a waste and avoid it for reasons that are becoming more obvious everyday around the globe and have been addressed in each of the 10 points. 

For those who do not intuitively arrive at this conclusion, war will continue and it will destroy them.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Commentary on Getting Old


A Q&A web site posted the following question pertaining to getting old. Below is my response:


What is old age to you?

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 I have hit 50, 75 is old.I know true age is more a matter of mind, but I would love to know how old you are and at what age you think you will be old.


I took a fall on the ice a few winters ago 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 later that year, "There goes that old guy again, do you think he might fall?"   He looked just like a helicopter!

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 a vets home. 

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

Sunday, November 21, 2021


Lt. Colonel Daniel L. Davis


This Article was first posted in 2012. It has been updated only to adjust the amount of the national debt in the concluding paragaph from what was then 16 Trillion to what is now approaching 29 Trillion. We offer once more in this posting not only our opinion on the massive Military Industrial Complex, but also the opinions of three experts who have lived war fighting - on the recent fields of battle, and in weapons systems development.

The quotations are extracts from larger articles. We suggest the reader follow the links after each to become further informed. 

It is our hope that the facts offered here will contribute to the knowledge of US citizenry regarding hard decisions forthcoming on the nature of war fighting and its role in the future of our country.


This Blog was founded in 2006, based on the 36 years experience of a soldier in war zones and major corporations in the US Military Industrial Complex.   Our view is expressed in the below article, an extract of which reads:

Presidents, Congressmen, Cabinet Members and Appointees project a knowledgeable demeanor but they are spouting what they are told by career people who never go away and who train their replacements carefully. These are military and civil servants with enormous collective power, armed with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Defense Industrial Security Manuals, compartmentalized classification structures and "Rice Bowls" which are never mixed.

Our society has slowly given this power structure its momentum which is constant and extraordinarily tough to bend. The cost to the average American is exorbitant in terms of real dollars and bad decisions. Every major power structure member in the Pentagon's many Washington Offices and Field locations in the US and Overseas has a counterpart in Defense Industry Corporate America. That collective body has undergone major consolidation in the last 10 years. What used to be a broad base of competitive firms is now a few huge monoliths, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing.

Government oversight committees are carefully stroked. Men like Sam Nunn and others who were around for years in military and policy oversight roles have been cajoled, given into on occasion but kept in the dark about the real status of things until it is too late to do anything but what the establishment wants. This still continues - with increasing high technology and potential for abuse.”


Paul Riedner is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. December 13, 2011 – Minneapolis Star Tribune Commentaries. Personally, sacrificed four years in support of the war effort -- one deployed as an army engineer diver.
There remain countless inner struggles that lurk in dark corners of my psyche. They are difficult to measure or even explain.
What does it mean to have been a part of this war?
To have been a part of: 4,500 American deaths; 33,000 Americans wounded; estimates as high as 600,000 Iraqi deaths; more than $1 trillion in taxpayer money spent; $9 billion lost or unaccounted for; huge corporate profiteering; a prisoner-abuse scandal; a torture record worthy of the Hague; a hand in the financial crisis, and runaway unemployment when we get home.
I've learned that we are easily duped and that we quickly forget. Saddam has WMDs. No, we are exporting democracy. No, we are protecting human rights, and by the way, their oil will pay for it all.
I've learned that 9/11 was used against us. We gladly handed over our civil liberties in the name of security. And recently our Congress quietly reapproved the unconstitutional Patriot Act.”
Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel L. Davis in the United States Army, serving as a Regular Army officer in the Armor Branch. He has just completed his fourth combat deployment. (Desert Storm, Afghanistan in 2005-06, Iraq in 2008-09, and Afghanistan again in 2010-11). In the middle of his career he served eight years in the US Army Reserve and held a number of civilian jobs, one of which was an aide for US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (Legislative Correspondent for Defense and Foreign Affairs).
From “Dereliction of Duty II
Senior Military Leaders’ Loss of Integrity Wounds Afghan War Effort 27 January 2012”

We have lavished praise a few of our senior military leaders for being “warrior-scholars” whose intellectualism exceeds those of most wearing the uniform. But what organization in the world today – whether an international terrorist organization or virtually every major company on the globe – needs physical territory on which to plan “future 9/11 attacks”? Most are well acquainted with the on-line and interconnected nature of numerous global movements. We here in the United States know video conferencing, skyping, emailing, texting, twittering, Facebooking, and virtually an almost limitless number of similar technologies.

And a few men have convinced virtually the entire Western world that we must stay on the ground in one relatively postage-stamp sized country – even beyond a decade and a half – to prevent “another 9/11” from being planned, as though the rest of the world’s geography somehow doesn’t matter, and more critically, that while the rest of the world does its planning on computers and other electronic means, al-Qaeda must be capable only of making such plans on the ground, and only on the ground in Afghanistan.

When one considers what these few leaders have asked us to believe in light of the facts pointed out above, the paucity of logic in their argument becomes evident. What has been present in most of those arguments, however, has been emotionally evocative words designed to play strongly on American patriotism: “…this is where 9/11 was born!” “these young men did not die in vain” “this is a tough fight” etc. It is time – beyond time – for the evidence and facts to be considered in their comprehensive whole in a candid and honest public forum before we spend another man or woman’s life or limbs in Afghanistan.”


Franklin C.   "Chuck  " Spinney Pentagon’s Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation (better-known by its former name, Systems Analysis, set up to make independent evaluations of Pentagon Policy)

Author - "Defense Facts of Life: The Plans-Reality Mismatch", which sharply criticized defense budgeting, arguing that the defense bureaucracy uses unrealistic assumptions to buy in to unsustainable programs, and explaining how the pursuit of complex technology produced expensive, scarce and inefficient weapons. Spinney spent his career refining and expanding this analysis. The report was largely ignored despite a growing reform movement, whose goal was to reduce military budget increases from 7% to 5% after inflation. Two years later, he expounded on his first report, including an analysis on the miscalculation of the burden costs of a majority of the weapon systems and re-titled it "Defense facts of life: The Plans/Reality Mismatch", which later became simply known as the "Spinney Report":
And that's why we ought to treat the defense industry as a public sector; and if we did that then you wouldn't see these gross disparities in salaries creeping in. But essentially if you try to understand what's going on in the Pentagon and this is the most important aspect, and it gets at the heart of our democracy. Is that we have an accounting system that is unauditable. Even by the generous auditing requirements of the federal government.
Now what you have to understand is the kind of audits I'm talking about these are not what a private corporation would do with a rigorous accounting system. Essentially the audits we are required to do are mandated under the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990, and a few amendments thereafter. But it's the CFO Act of 1990 that's the driver.
And it basically was passed by Congress that required the inspector generals of each government department, not just the Pentagon, but NASA, health, education, welfare, all the other departments, interior department where the inspector general has to produce an audit each year. Saying, basically verifying that the money was spent on what Congress appropriated it for. Now that's not a management accounting audit. It's basically a checks and balances audit.
Well, the Pentagon has never passed an audit. They have 13 or 15, I forget the exact number, of major accounting categories. That each one has it's own audit. The only one of those categories that's ever been passed is the retirement account.
Now under the CFO Act of 1990 they have to do this audit annually. Well, every year they do an audit and the inspector general would issue a report saying we have to waive the audit requirements, because we can't balance the books. We can't tell you how the money got spent.
Now what they do is try to track transactions. And in one of the last audits that was done the transactions were like… there were like $7 trillion in transactions. And they couldn't account for about four trillion of those transactions. Two trillion were unaccountable and two trillion they didn't do, and they accounted for two trillion.”
CONCLUSION: The material here is submitted on its own merits. Consider it carefully as the Pentagon consumes 70% of US disposable tax revenue and our national debt approaches $29 Trillion.  

Ask yourself if there are other alternatives for the future of our country.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

$62,000,000,000 USAF FMS Contract For Lockheed Martin F-16’S

Lockheed Martin/USAF Tee-shirt $19.59 – $40.59:
The Air Force awarded an eye-watering $62 billion contract for overseas F-16 customers August 14. In a world amid a pandemic, you’d think there’d be smarter things to spend $62 billion on."

Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, has been awarded a $62,000,000,000 ten-year, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ), fixed-price-incentive contract for new production of F-16 Foreign Military Sale (FMS) aircraft.  The total value for the initial delivery order is $4,941,105,246 and will be awarded on the same date.  The initial delivery order is for 90 aircraft, including both the pre-priced recurring core configuration costs at $2,862,797,674 and the engineering change proposal/undefinitized contract action for the non-recurring costs not-to-exceed $2,078,307,572 obligated at approximately $1,018,370,710.  Work will be primarily performed in Greenville, South Carolina; and Fort Worth, Texas, and is expected to be completed Dec. 31, 2026.  This contract involves 100% FMS to FMS partner nations and is the result of a sole-source acquisition.  FMS funds in the amount of $3,881,168,384 are being obligated at the time of award.  Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (Basic IDIQ:  FA8615-20-D-6052; initial delivery order:  FA8615-20-F-0001).

Department of Defense Contract Award Announcement

Saturday, November 13, 2021

War Weary, Pandemic-Strapped America and Its Soldiers


As the pandemic-strapped U.S. continues into a second decade of the war on terror and a new war on COVID 19  our citizens and our volunteer military are growing disinterested in warfare and focused on re-aligning our priorities.  

The Military Industrial Complex (MIC) has made grand strides in technology, spending billions on new air craft and naval vessels, cyber warfare tools and sensors, while we have downsized combat soldiers to stand in the job line or wait for admission to veterans’ hospitals as our health care infrastructure was sacrificed for war profiteering. 



“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, 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 


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.


"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



“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 the president 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



“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


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 



"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?


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, especially when our health care is now at the top of the agenda. 

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

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

Saturday, November 06, 2021

12 Names on a Wall in Washington D.C.

Veterans Day, 2021

Veterans Day 2015
Database of 58 Thousand Plus Names on The Wall in Wash,D.C. This is the most accurate database online.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

What Can We Learn From People Who Are Different From Us?

Image: samanthaharrington
“QUORA” By Ken Larson
“I have learned that until I understand an individual’s value system I cannot assist them as a co-worker, counselor, manager or client. The only way I can achieve that end is to learn from them.
Our existence and our mental universe are driven by factors that we as individuals inherit through the gene pool, as enhanced by our experiences in life. Our innate capabilities as humans are augmented in life by that which we learn
What I learn about someone different than I may not be the same value system as I possess, but by learning from them I will be able to make distinctions between my values and theirs, consider accepting the differences without prejudice, communicate with them and move forward on common objectives.
All wars eventually result in negotiated settlements. Avoiding them by learning and negotiation in the first place is the most effective war weapon and by far the least costly in materials, debt and lives.
Effective negotiation must involve learning the other party's values, not simply the perceived threat they represent to us because we do not know them.
We would do well to learn more about those different from us before we fight.”

Saturday, October 09, 2021

"Helmets to Hardhats" Non-Profit Connects Over 30,000 Veterans To Federally-Approved Apprenticeship Training Programs And Careers

Image:  Helmets to Hardhats
"MILITARY.COM" By Darrell Roberts

"The training is privately funded, provided by the trade organizations themselves at no cost to the veteran. 

This apprenticeship training does not cost taxpayers a dime. Union members, along with their signatory contractor partners, invest more than $1.3 billion annually to fund and operate nearly 2,000 apprenticeship training facilities across North America."


"Returning home can be an overall overwhelming experience. With that said, this Veterans Day, I have a challenge for you.

Talk to a veteran, and tell that veteran that once he or she returns to civilian life, there are groups that want to help -- and, more importantly, there are viable pathways to new, fulfilling careerswaiting on them.

I lead an organization that focuses on connecting veterans to career opportunities in the construction industry: Helmets to Hardhats.

Helmets to Hardhats is a national nonprofit designed to support transitioning active-duty military service members. We work every day, in every part of the country, to ensure all service members understand that hope and opportunity await them upon their return home.

While many companies and groups claim to help employ veterans, are those veterans connected to jobs, or are they connected to careers?

There is a big difference.

This is why Helmets to Hardhats introduces transitioning service members to promising career providers and vice versa. Because that is what they deserve: careers.

Veterans must simply create a profile with us to help training directors determine what transferable skills the applicant acquired during his or her military service.
I know the challenges associated with coming home. I served in both the Navy and the Army National Guard.

This is why I am exceptionally proud of the work we do – of the apprenticeship training programs with which we are affiliated. Each of our efforts feeds into a comprehensive approach, creating viable pathways to success for our nation’s heroes.

Helmets to Hardhats has made nearly 30,000 successful career transitions thus far. That means we have helped roughly 30,000 hard-working men and women find a place in the unionized construction industry.

And our work is far from finished.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the female veteran population and the minority veteran population are both on the rise. Our organization works with all populations, including historically underserved communities and disabled veterans, to be sure all veterans have a fair shot at succeeding.

Here is how it works: Our regional managers hit the pavement each day to get more veterans registered for the federally-approved apprenticeship training of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU). Along with our boots on the ground, we also use the digital space to ensure all veterans are aware of, not only the apprenticeship training, but also the good-paying careers associated with this training.

 And no prior experience is needed. Most successful placements are veterans who begin with little to no experience in his or her chosen field.

Veterans even earn wages and benefits as they work through the earn-while-you-learn training. And, since these apprenticeship training programs are regulated and approved at both the federal and state levels, veterans can supplement their incomes by also utilizing their GI Bill benefits.

That means two checks: one from the contractor and one from the GI Bill.

In today’s hyper-partisan climate, it can be difficult to find programs that truly work, and even tougher to enjoy support from both sides of the aisle. Yet NABTU’s apprenticeship training does just that.

What’s not to like?

If you take away one piece of information after reading this, please know that this is not about finding jobs for veterans. This is about so much more. This is about connecting our brave service members to life-changing, lucrative careers.

By working alongside both labor and management, veterans are empowered to succeed – and there is no greater deed than helping a brother or sister who has served our country. So, even if you tell just one veteran, I challenge you to pass this message along:

Veterans should know that when they get home, Helmets to Hardhats is here. Apprenticeship training is available. Careers are waiting for them."


Darrell Roberts is the Executive Director of Helmets to Hardhats