Monday, June 22, 2009

Trickle Down Despar: Lessons From a Peruvian Hospital Bed

Trickle Down Despair: Lessons from a Peruvian Hospital Bed

In his famous encounter with Joe The Plumber, President Obama announced, "It's not that I want to punish your success...I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody." Regrettably, the ash heap of history is littered with the disciples of this ideological gospel. Who pays the ultimate price for such foolish dogma? What can we learn from dark paths other have dared? I witnessed the effects of this cruel story with my own eyes.

General Juan Velasco Alvarado deposed the democratically elected president of Peru, Fernando Belaunde, in a military coup on October 3, 1968. His power secured, he famously proclaimed, "Campesino, el dueƱo nunca mas va a comer de tu pobreza." "Peasant, the landlord will never again eat from your poverty." Proclaiming justice for the poor, he went on an unbridled nationalization spree of Peru's private mines, oil fields, and fisheries. Price controls were instituted to eliminate "unfair"competition. Predictably, foreign capital fled the ever-encroaching rules and regulations. As internal investment faded, political dissent increased--until it was silenced in prison. Velasco's spending didn't end until he too was finally deposed in 1975--though his destructive policies were not reversed until the 1990's. What were the effects of his utopian vision of socialism on the very people he purported to 'save'?

An investment strike and crushing deterioration of the tax base left the country unable maintain its infrastructure. In a vain attempt to parry the monster of inflation Peru did what all socialists do--they minted three different currencies between 1985 and 1991. Incredibly, one "New Sol" in 1991 equaled 1,000,000,000 Old Soles of 1985--a devaluation of a billion in a span of 10 years.

I arrived in Peru in the middle of this madness in March 1986. We landed at the airport in Lima late at night--under curfew. Socialist Third-World countries have a distinct smell about them--the toxic fusion of raw sewage drifting in the streets mixed with the stench of corruption and festering oppression of a people long forsaken by their government. On the way to our hotel, soldiers stopped our bus and checked our passports with machine guns in hand. They seized one of our Peruvian companions...we never heard from him again.

My first days were spent in a small fishing village on the desert coast in northern Peru. Naked children looking for food picked through mountains of trash along the glass-strewn streets while skirting pools of filth. A fortunate few chased flattened soccer balls; others played with balls of knotted rags. I moved into an adobe house with bars on the windows and doors, surrounded by thick, cinder block walls. Broken glass was embedded into the mortar on top of the wall--to keep the ever present thieves at bay. We tied an old sock to the single water faucet in the home to strain the big black chunks from the gray water. We had to empty the sock every day. We were lucky; on most days we had running water for up to 2 hours--other days, not. The water smelled distressingly similar to the sewage which pooled in the streets. We bathed with bowls of gray water. Living conditions were abysmal.

Three days after arriving, my head started pounding--the first symptom of typhoid fever. Over the next few days, my vision blurred as my temperature soared and I slipped into a fever induced delirium. Thankfully, I don't remember much of those days as I lay in a pool of sweat in Peru. Some memories mercifully fade...others regrettably, do not. Half carried by friends, I stumbled past the armed guards at the hospital entrance--stepping over those who were left to die at the threshold. Far too often, the Grim Reaper was the only welcoming hand for those who could not bribe the doctors.

To draw my blood, a woman took a dull needle and jabbed it into my arm. After 20 minutes of searching she pulled it out and then honed it on a sharpening stone beside her. After a quick swipe of the needle with an alcohol soaked cotton swab, she tried again.

There were no medications in the hospital. Fortunately, (for me, at least) there was a private pharmacy across the street for those with money. Anything I wanted or needed I had to arrange for myself—including toilet paper. I spent many lonely weeks in dreary Peruvian hospitals staring at filthy, uncaring walls. To pass the time I flicked the ever-present air bubbles from the IV line which dripped burning chemicals into my veins.

The only reason I was treated was because I had money--and yet, where was the supposed socialist dream of "Universal Health Care?" In Peru, they say the severity of an illness can be described in two ways: "You are so sick you wish you would die." and "You are so sick you are scared you are going to." I survived both. Yet, something even more caustic than dripping IV's has haunted my dreams ever since. Of all the horrors I witnessed and endured in Peru, none has penetrated me more than stumbling over a poor peasant woman who was left to die at the door of the hospital--barred entry at gunpoint because she could not pay.

The country was bankrupt. Socialism drove the landlords into economic exile. Eventually their money ran out--leaving the poor peasants behind to pay the price of Valesco's infernal socialist designs. I stepped over a woman who paid that price. Lying in a lonely hospital bed, I realized government is not the solution to our problems. In Peru, universal health care led to universal misery.

General Velasco was right--landlords never again ate from the "poverty" of the peasants...and neither did the peasants.

David Kirkham, President

Kirkham Motorsports

Utah Tea Party Organizer

Monday, March 9, 2009

YouTube video of the speech.

It took me a while to get it all figured out, but here is the video of the speech. We are now cooking up new ideas for the next event. Until then, I hope you like it!


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Salt Lake Tea Party

Hello All!

I wanted a place for people to gather after the Salt Lake Tea Party tomorrow so we could organize and plan for the future. I thought a good 1st post would be the speech I plan to give tomorrow at the tax, print, and spend protest. I have never been to a protest before in my life, let alone organize one. But, I am fed up with the squandering of our children's dreams.

My brother and I started a car company from a dream almost 15 years ago.

Will our children have the same opportunity?

Your comments are welcome!

Thank you all for coming:

My name is David Kirkham.

America is the Land of Opportunity. Anyone can achieve their dreams, if they'll only work hard.

But today, America is in a hole. Small businesses that were thriving only a few months ago, today are struggling for air--or worse. We all know people who have lost their businesses and their jobs. How do we fix it? Some assert we can print, tax, and borrow, for our Wall Street Bailouts and Shovel-Ready projects. Yet our own common sense tells us, “When you find yourself trapped in a hole--stop digging.”

President Obama and Congress just passed the largest deficit-spending package and governmental expansion in the history of our country. This ill-conceived plan will slam a “Cap” on the hole we are trying to claw out of and “Trade” our freedoms for the sterile promise--government will pay our defaulted mortgages and fill our empty gas tanks.

Where will all these budget busting bailouts, spending sprees, and onerous new regulations lead? As I pondered this question, I came to the conclusion that we must all stand up--with a voice for reason and responsibility. With these programs we are chastening the frugal and rewarding the reckless losses of banks, car manufacturers, and anyone else who is deemed by their lobbyists "too big to fail." Is it any wonder the very men who write and enforce our tax laws fail to pay their own, feigning ignorance of the onerous regulations--written by their own hand.

I would like to tell you a about government interference, and bailing out companies that are “too big to fail.” Perhaps our story may not be so different or distant from what we see today. We have witnessed the predictable consequences of callous governmental control--along with its cruel effects on every day workers and their families.

My brother Thomas and I are small business owners in Provo, Utah. 15 years ago we went to the Provo airport to look at an old jet fighter from Poland. One glance at the jet and my brother Thomas turned to me and said, "Those guys could make aluminum-bodied Cobras."

The world was an exciting place then: the Berlin Wall had fallen; Russia was imploding; and her satellite countries were throwing off the bonds of long, dark years of political and economic oppression. Captivated by this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I packed my bags and left BYU and my dreams of medical school, behind. Later, I landed in Poland, with a toy model of a Cobra, a Polish-English dictionary, and a new dream.

There, I wandered through an enormous aircraft factory that produced 3 MiG's/day at the height of the Cold War. Times were tough and where once 60,000 men and women worked, only 24,000 remained. I walked past somber lathe and mill operators who stood behind a thousand silent machines in buildings, where the lights were turned off--because even the Polish government, with all its bailouts, could no longer afford to keep them on--even in their own defense industries. Men waited day after day, for someone to give them work, yet both men and machine stood dumb. The once great aircraft factory was now bidding on an aluminum bodied Cobra from some crazy guys in Utah.

Day after day on that first trip to Poland I saw the worry of an uncertain future etched across the countenances of those men--whose faces were worn with far more years than they had passed on this earth. In time, my mother joined me on trips to Poland--only to be routinely mistaken as my wife--a wonderful compliment for her no doubt, yet a startling condemnation of the trials of life women in Poland endured.

We were at the factory in Poland the day over 20,000 of those 24,000 men and women lost their jobs. We watched as displaced workers haltingly mounted their bikes and wearily pedaled home through the cold--only to be greeted by anxious families and haunting memories of the not distant enough specter of food rationing. The bailouts were bankrupt.

But, all hope is not lost...the Polish people are resilient. They voted out Socialism and voted in a democracy that set up a Special Economic Zone at that old MiG factory. Then, they opened their doors for business to the world. They HAD to get people back to work. How did they do it? They slashed taxes and offered land and buildings for sale. We bought those buildings, we bought that silent machinery, we bought that land, and most importantly, we hired those anxious men and women. We, private enterprise, pumped millions of dollars into that city--where the untold billions of government money had long been lavished on the rat-hole of squander. We were the first foreign private company to invest in that entire region of the country. Just last year, Mielec, Poland was a bustling city with Boeing, Lockheed, Pratt and Whitney, Fiat, and many other companies--all vying for an ever shrinking pool of highly skilled workers--and we were selling cars all over the world.

There is another side to this story. The legacy of burdensome laws from sordid governmental intrusion are difficult to cast off. In Poland, there is law which requires everyone who has over 25 employees to hire disabled workers--or face an obscene fine. Yet, inexplicably--by law--we are not allowed to have a disabled worker in our factory because we are classified as a heavy manufacturer. We paid that fine for years.

Do we really want the government telling us what temperature to set our thermostats to; how much to drive; who can go into business and who can not? Our legislators despoil us one feather at a time and thus deceive, “The only way out of our economic nightmare...” is to create a tsunami of stupefying government programs--each one with print so fine, those who sign it don't even bother to read it.

Politicians of both parties, like the Roman Senate of old, promise bread and circuses as they line their war chests with our children's money. I didn't like Bush's boondoggle bailout any more than I am a fan of Obama and Congress attempting to decorate the earth with dollar bills from roaring printing presses that will assuredly seize--perhaps sooner than we can afford.

Inflation lurks in this madness. We were in Poland when they chopped 4 zeros off of their currency to staunch the inflation monster. One day the National credit card statement must surely arrive in each of our wallets. Sadly, that day has already fallen on far too many small businesses across our country.

I wish all Americans could see the dire end of the road which we now seem all too enthusiastic about embarking upon. We have seen people on both sides of the Atlantic loose their jobs in this economy. Yet, we have seen private investment and the entrepreneurial spirit pry open doors governments had long shielded from the sanitizing light of day. We have even seen the very factory that made weapons of war beat those same weapons into plowshares.

Some challenge there is only a finite amount of wealth to be had; or, the pie is only so large and can not be expanded. They feel they must steal slices of pie from the rich to avenge slights of the poor. When wealth destruction is heralded as wealth redistribution, it can not be long before such policy metastasizes into trickle-down despair.

We reject these arguments. You see, in bankrupt Poland we baked another pie. We created jobs which in turn created even more jobs here in Utah. If Congress spent more time baking pie--instead of stealing slices from others, perhaps hunger might even banish itself.

This issue boils down to one thing--freedom. Will our children struggle from a hole with the odious chains of financial bondage Congress yokes upon them, or will our children be free to choose for themselves their own dreams and what their own futures should hold? These bailouts and spending bills tax our children without representation. Personal responsibility has been humiliated in exchange for the pompous promises of government. How much longer can Congress borrow money before we too are forced to turn out our own lights.

In times past, a canary was taken deep into coal mines to act as an early warning system to the release of toxic gases. If while in the mine, a canary quit singing, or worse died, the men in the mine knew they had better get out before the deadly gases--which they could neither see nor smell--slowly suffocated them. Everyone who came today is a canary in the mine...and we are running out of air.

Legislators, how many more canaries must die before your spending bills, polluted by the toxic brew of your arrogance and lard, must be cleaned up by the men and women of this country--and their children and grandchildren? Lower our taxes; quit spending our money; let us all bake more pie. The first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole, is quit digging. Mr. Obama, put down that shovel.

David V. Kirkham