Greedy Bastards

Greed, noun: excessive desire for more than one needs or deserves. Secondary: wanting to eat more than one can reasonably consume. I might be tempted to stop right there but there are too many pieces to this puzzle.

I have just finished a book on the last days of Bear Stearns. One cannot but be taken by the size of bonuses, the glitz and over the top spending on everything from offices to houses to jewelry. I am not going to get moralistic but rather be observant. The largess was shared by execs, traders and salespeople alike.

Now I try to put this in perspective with the Occupy Wall Street crowd. When they were here I went to the protest in Denver one afternoon. It is within walking distance of the Kenny digs. I really wanted to see what it was all about and talk to some of them.

They really had no distinct message which was disappointing. I was just looking for a starting point. Well, I will just find a leader. Sorry, none of those were around. It seems there were 20% who were just supporters. They were working but felt the message was right. Not bad.

Then there was about 20% who trying to develop a coherent philosophy of sorts. Good for them . But as I wandered through the tents and food lines, it was evident the last 60% was divided equally between professional protesters(some would say anarchists) and the homeless. If you are down and out who wouldn’t want a free meal and a place to stay? Disappointingly, I discovered the homeless were being actively recruited to swell the crowd. So much for spontaneity.

On my walk home I just started thinking about this greed thing and it occurred to me that maybe we are all guilty. The money is obvious. There is no one in this world that is deserving of $15-20 million per annum be they financier, athlete, or media star….unless it is their own money. That is not envy or looking to redistribute wealth but just amazement at our stupidity. When I look at all those dollars I just see them as something that could be better spent on education or R and D. The most galling aspect is that somehow I am paying for that pacheck either directly or indirectly.

Our corporations are so shortsighted towards long term planning and investment. Keep those profits rolling. Share price conquers all. Then the big guys can cash in their stock options. But the ordinary Tom Dick and Harry stockholders and analysts are screaming too.

But I also thought of greedy old people and I guess yours truly qualifies. We say we are entitled. There is not only the well off taking Social Security but the bulk of us who want to wring every dime we can out of Medicare and Medicaid. I see ads for scooters and medical supplies with the tag line “this will probably not cost you anything out of pocket” God damn it! You owe me whether I need it or not.

An educator is greedy in that they refuse to consider new methods and elimination of tenure. So many are great and so many are less than mediocre. There is no way to reward innovation or brilliance. This is true on the primary as well as secondary level. Do you know the average college professor teaches 1.4 classes per semester? Remember back to that deserve part of greed.

Are there greedy poor bastards? Do they work the system? Is it easier being on the dole than hard at work? Is everyone who claims to be a victim really so? Insurance  fraud. Medicare fraud. Tax cheats. A little here. A little there. Don’t worry no one will notice. And the beat goes on. 

We are all greedy with our time. We rush everywhere saying we are way too busy. We don’t have time to read, to explore our minds, to put in time towards charitable endeavours. Greed really embodies a total lack of sacrifice. You may be working hard but is it to make money or to feed your ego with trinkets?

This all sounds harsh but it is our problem today. We have cut off creativity. We have a whacked out set of priorities. We are greedy to maintain our own little worlds. This is industry and individual alike. Rich and poor. Many feel we should act like immigrants again. Look at this land of opportunity and not as the horn of plenty. I agree.

Take a real hard look at what you deserve. I know of very few of you who go to bed hungry at night. Who doesn’t have roof over your head? Who are really worrying about where the next nickel is coming from? At your worst where does that put you in the world? Maybe the top 5%.

 I am not preaching. I am going to confession because I am right up there in front. Greedy bastards? We all are. Let’s have Occupy the USA and really straighten things out.

As Always

Ted The Great

Things I Don’t Get

You can kill and poison insects but you get to go to jail if you do it to a dog or cat.

Bentley owners doing their shopping at Costco. Is that what they call trickle down?

Spending $1,000 on golf clubs and zero on lessons.

Spending $500 on dinner and putting $5 in the collection plate.

Fast food as our biggest growth industry.

Not reading yesterdays oped because it is a day old

The Donald’s Hair..he actually thinks he looks good

Calling a fancy restaurant for a 7:00 dinner reservation and they tell you all they have is 6:45 or 7:15

Going Down Life’s Highway

This is not as easy as it looks. I start out with an idea and then shift gears. After all it is Ted’s Head. I have never found a thought that I couldn’t take a totally different turn at things in a matter of seconds.

Kathy and I have traveled cross country. We have set our sights on the Sunshine State, Florida. This is really a tour with many facets. We are visiting friends and family. We hope to give our daughters some respite with kids in tow. Gammy and Padge will work overtime for a week. And finally we will spend time just like the old farts I give a hard time to with a little R and R together on Sanibel.

As we travel the miles my mind wanders endlessly. I take in the local color and industry. I am searching for that thing I call rhythm. We listen to a book on tape and I drift between plot line and the broken or dotted lines on the highway. I continually try to understand this crazy quiltwork of a country we have. Tough if you use 2000 miles as your playground.

I am looking for an issue that will tie us together. One that will unite us, not tear us apart. Aha! How can you argue with infrastructure? Roads reflect the state of the state. Forging from Missouri to Illinois is dramatic. The smooth ribbon of highway becomes pitted and uneven. Maybe this is Chicago politics on the macadam. The problems can’t be ignored.

By some stroke of genius or military luck, President Dwight D
Eisenhower championed the Interstate Highway system. We needed highways and biways to span our country north, south, east and west. Not two lanes with stop lights but non stop freeways, coast to coast. Top to bottom.

Very cool. And he said we will pay for it with a tax on gasoline. In those days it was probably 15-25% of the cost of a gallon of petrol. Seemed fair. There would be some tollways but you could now avoid them for the most part. America was on the move.

Enter Cerberus, the two headed monster of decay and inflation. Either poorly built or just getting tired, roadbeds, off ramps, and bridges had to be replaced or get some heavy duty maintenance. But kicking the can down the road wasn’t invented by our current crop of idiots. They learned from the best.

We have not changed the gas tax since 1992. Assuming it was 15% of the price of a gallon back then it now represents less than 5%.

That was twenty years ago. Automobile usage has quadrupled but with new gas efficient car, the revenues continue to plunge to the point where the national highway trust fund teeters on bankruptcy.

Now TTG is not a rocket scientist but I think I get it. Raise the tax or create tollways or both. If you use it, you pay. Duh! What a profound concept. I may get a Nobel. And yet today on the floors of the House and Senate this gets shelved and shuffled.

The bridge collapse in Minneapolis should have been a call to action. That was five friggin’ years ago. I am sorry. What was I thinking? It is in committee. For five years. We have more important things like Iraq and Afghanistan to occupy our brain trust.

Okay gang. I will go back to chilling. It’s what everyone else does. Why do you think about all that negative shit anyway, Ted? Let’s talk golf. Football. Manning. Where are we going for dinner? These are the things we should be concentrating on. Where was I in that book on tape?

As always.

Ted The Great


The Interstate Highway System is 47,000 miles long. There are 14,750 interchanges. There are 55,512 bridges. 17% or almost ten thousand are in serious disrepair.

It is estimated that 1 in 4 of bridges of all shapes and sizes are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

The longest interstate is I90 stretching 3020 miles from Boston to Seattle. North South the winner is I35 from Laredo to Duluth. I95 goes through 16 states. I 80, 11 states,

Our current funding for highways is $38 billion per year. We need $56 billion and climbing. But then again it is an election year.





The mighty warriors are starting to stir. Let’s bomb Iran. Let’s inflict sheer terror on Syria. Let’s show them bastards. I am with you every inch of the way they say. Well maybe just a little behind you…. but let’s go get them.

Today you line up on either side of the spectrum. You are either for or against war. There is a little in between but not much. War is like being almost pregnant. I have my own opinion which I will share later.

Nowhere is this more apparent than on the floors of our Congress. It makes great press either way. Especially in an election year playing to the “The Base.” Bring our boys home or let’s finish what we started is the battle cry on either side of the aisle.

War is not fun. War is not romantic or heroic. To be shot at is not to be taken lightly. You wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy. Today in Afghanistan some of these troops are coming under fire two and three times a day….day after day. You see someone maimed or with their headless torso laying in your lap. That is not something that goes away with a little Rand R.

Yet we are so quick to stand at a football game with the stealth fighters going overhead while we mouth the National Anthem. We give the guys a first class seat or buy their dinner and drinks when they are in uniform. Yet are you ready to go? Or how about your son or grandson?

I watch the PBS News at night. They project pictures of the armed forces who have died from the previous few days. There are usually 10-12 in number. They are for the most part young. They are from Nowheresville. You don’t see many big cities. You don’t see congressional or presidential kids. You don’t see Wall Street or Big Business kids. You don’t see Halliburton kids. But they are someone’s son or daughter.

Wars are fought at the top with the grunts and sailors as the pawns on the chessboard. I was supposed to drive my Swift Boat in an op one night. It was the brainchild of a commander or captain who flew in that morning from Saigon. He wanted to endanger a vast majority of the boats in our division.

As he laid out the plan many of us were suspect or at least wary. Not of combat but a suicide mission. Tempers got heated and I offered the senior officer the symbolic keys to my boat and said “you drive”. After a period of time things cooled down and I asked him what he was thinking? He spoke and the words rang in my ears. ”It’s the only war we got, buddy!” He left on the four o’clock chopper to make happy hour at Tan So Nhut. Scary is the only word I can conjure up.

My opinion is simple. Sometimes you have to fight a war. You don’t want to but you do. The Iraq war was the creation of Rumsfeld and Cheney. The Secretary of Defense was convinced that he could fight a quick strike battle with a nimble force. He wanted to prove his brilliance and the size of his ego. Halliburton Dick was right behind him. Look what it got us.

They violated every rule of combat and so many poor bastards had to pay with their lives. They were poorly equipped. McNamara did the same thing in Viet Nam and then blithely explained it away in his memoirs as a miscalculation.

My solution is simple. No one can vote to go to war unless they have been there or their kids and grandkids are in the armed services. I don’t care how small the number is, that is the voting requirement. Should we have gone to Afghanistan? Maybe. Iraq? No way. After ten years I think we have done enough.

I respect John McCain like no other. Yet I was blown away when he called for air strikes on Syria  and or Iran. Just take a deep breath and really tell me you want us to go into another conflict in the middle East. Didn’t we figure this out the last time around?

Israel is scared and also trigger happy. I really have mixed emotions. Obama is saying we got your back. What would our response be in a non election year? Red herrings like the Gulf of Tonkin and WMD. Is this another one?

We have spent 10 years, over a trillion dollars and thousands of  our children trying to bring sanity to this wasteland. The rest of the world has been cheering us on and building their own nations while we battle. Nuke’em? Go right ahead. I think we should sit this one out. Or if not how about I  let you be the lead singer.

As Always

Ted The Great


Cost of War to date:






US Wounded


Afghanistan …9773

Some names….Kenny, Kelly, Lynch, Harrison, Flynn, Wilkins, Mc Carthy, Williamson. Sound familiar don’t they.






I am going to put on my old steel helmet and flak gear. Pull the pin, TTG. This is the part where Kathy leaves the room. We are going to talk about religion. What? In today’s day and age, are you nuts? Of course. Actually I am just trying to think outside the box. I am not a theologian by any stretch but I have given it a lot of thought.

It started with a pamphlet about Lenten meditations that they gave out in church on Ash Wednesday. Of course I took a look at it when I got home and promptly lost it in the pile of stuff on my desk. Cleaning out today, there was a resurrection. Sorry.  Bad joke.

I have done mainline meditation before and it is very cool. Today’s world could use a lot more of it. You turn off the TV, phones etc and try to blot everything out of your mind for the moment. You try not to be distracted by random thoughts but just concentrate on the here and now. You try to listen to your body and maybe if you are really good you can hear your soul. There is a thing called peace.

As I went through certain Scriptural passages the light bulb went off. I call it prayer and you call it whatever but it is getting in touch with inner feelings. It is being open to the word of God or the word of life. Your choice. But you rip away all the material things and try to find out just who you are. You cogitate on the real meaning of existence. You just listen. Maybe this is that thing they call truth.

So much of our life is scripted. We are all on a stage but we rarely question the dialogue. We have acted this part or another and we know it by heart. Our makeup gets heavier every day and we wouldn’t dare take off the residue because that would reveal the real us. Some of us haven’t aged very well but deep down we are all natural beauties.

You know we all love being in control. Delving into the unknown? There is an ultimate discomfort in chaos and playing it loose. Not knowing where the road is leading right now. Boy routine feels good. I know it all and have it all figured out. Wanna bet?

Some of you are very successful and do not have many wants. Some of you are hurting bad deep down inside. Some of you have never known contentment because after all life as you know it sucks or is a bitch. Some of you have never looked for your self. You mistake ego for soul. You are described by your things and relationships but have never let anybody see inside. It has taken me awhile and a lot of dead ends.

Maybe people are cranky for a reason. Maybe that gnawing inside of you is something that wants to get out. It’s tired of being penned up. But oh baby are you afraid to let it go. You don’t know what it looks like or what it will do unchained. Let’s  just not go there.

My buddy Leonardo would sometimes sit on a rock and just think. It could be a problem to be solved or an inspiration that needed some seasoning. He was baking in his mind  and he had to wait until it was cooked just right before he served it up. Best of all for him and I hope us, the recipe changed every time. And it still came out just right. He never really worried about being judged.

Wait!  I thought this was about religion? Last night I watched the archbishop of Dublin be as forthright as any church official I have seen on the horror of abuse. I saw people this week being killed over a Koran. There was a fool who cast the first stone and called a young girl slut while he is working on his fourth wife. We have an Ayatollah who says we should wipe a nation called Israel off the face of the earth. How did we warp this so far out of control?

I just think it is a very special thing to sit alone for some period of time during the day. Could be ten minutes or an hour. You don’t have to be a holy roller. I’m not. But you just put the distractions of the world aside. You sit quietly and you listen. I listen to God. You can listen to whomever. But you do look at the world around you and be grateful for its beauty, remembering how much there is to life.

Some of you might believe this is all evolution and ergo man made. Some of you might believe in a Creator that is all merciful and powerful. It doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that we are not separate pieces of space drift but part of a very complex thing called society. Sure we view things differently but that doesn’t mean we all aren’t worthy of love and consideration. We breath the same air. No one is better. No one is worse.

Relax. I am not claiming to have had a vision. The Lord is way too busy for that. I just feel like I have had a morsel of understanding and it tastes pretty good. I am going to look for more. That thing called truth. I have a long way to go but I hope I am on the right track. I hope you are too.


As Always

Ted The Great

Factoids: None. I am just going to let this piece do the talking.. Have a great week.