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Voting and polling with SMS mobile texting has become popular because it’s easy, inexpensive and fast. The voting-by-text online systems are already set up, and with no hardware or software to purchase, can be accessed anywhere and activated quickly.

Here are some insights on how the voting-by-text and SMS (short message service) programs work and why they have become so popular with television producers, cultural and sports organizers and many other institutions.

The best way to show you how voting-by-texting works, it to give you a couple of examples:

EXAMPLE 1: Let’s say that a highly anticipated college game will be held tonight. Over 20,000 excited fans will pack the stadium, cheering for their favorite college football game. In the fourth quarter, the giant scoreboard asks the fans who the MVP should be. It would say:

VOTE FOR THE GAME’S MVP
Text your vote to 12345
Text A for Mike Brown (14)
Text B for Chris Hopkins (87)
Text C for Sean O’Connell (22)
Text D for John Smith (36)

Fans can pull out their cell phones and vote for the player of their choice. Results can be instantaneously displayed as they come in and fans are delighted to be included as part of the game.

EXAMPLE 2: A huge outdoor stadium rock concert features Madonna. The audience is wowed and the performance memorable. Near the end of the show, the giant scoreboard says:

SONG FOR MADONNA’S ENCORE?
Text your vote to 12345
Text 1 for Holiday
Text 2 for Like a Virgin
Text 3 for Vogue
Text 4 for Bad Girl

Exuberant fans text their votes in and see the results in real time on the scoreboard and are ecstatic that Madonna is performing a song they wanted to hear.

Those are just two of thousands of examples where text voting can help you engage and interact with your audience, customers or constituents. And with the help of online text voting service bureaus, the process is simple and fast. You can easily reserve your “keywords” (A, B, C, D, or whatever keywords you want) and you can get your short code (that’s the address like 12345 that people text to.)

Why is voting by SMS text becoming so popular? Two reasons:

1) The vast majority of people now have a text-capable mobile cell phone they carry with them at all times. In fact, people are now using their cell phones more for texting than for talking. Texting is convenient, fast and users can communicate discreetly. If a cell phone user can accomplish the same thing by texting in 30 seconds, that would otherwise take 5 minutes in a phone conversation, that person will always choose texting. For those under 30, texting is, by far, the preferred way to communicate.

2) Voting-by-text services have sprung up and have enabled organizations, large and small, to tap into established texting systems. Anyone can create their own system, but it is very expensive, takes months of approvals and there is a chance the cell carriers will deny the application. It is not an easy process. On the other hand, outsourcing the voting and polling technology to a professional service bureau is, by comparison, much less expensive and can be started within hours.

Overall, you’ll begin seeing more and more text voting applications as the technology becomes more pervasive and popular. Even the senior citizens will be voting by text soon!

The fact that my boyfriend doesn’t vote – at all – never has – even in this historic election – is not just embarrassing but astounding as well as completely contrary to what I was taught by my veteran father political research colleagues. Voting is simply what we do. It’s not optional in my world, so I was shocked to learn my sweetie doesn’t exercise that privilege!

In fact, I was shocked not only that he doesn’t vote, but that he ADMITS it! To his blogging girlfriend! (Isn’t that alone reason enough to get out and do it?) But I got off my high horse about it when I realized I might not be using my own vote as powerfully as I thought. Because there’s a difference – sometimes a dramatic difference – between the vote that goes on the ballot and the one logged by Universe.

For example, I have to admit I’ve been to the polls before not so much to cast a ballot in favor of one candidate or issue, as in opposition to another.

Ever done that?

If so, and if you’re law of attraction-savvy, you know you actually added power to the very candidate or position you were against. That’s how it works. (That “what we resist, persists” thing, you know.) We’re well trained in our deliberate creation studies to focus on what we want instead of what we don’t want, but I can’t say I always practiced that in the voting booth!

Which is why I realize my sweetie may have offered a more positive contribution with his complacent absence at the polls than I have by doggedly casting a strongly-opinionated vote. If I’ve got attention on what I don’t want, I’m just adding more power to that no matter what it might say on the ballot.

That’s not to say I recommend abstinence from voting, but I HIGHLY recommend we all be more aware of how we cast our vibrational vote. Which is all that matters anyway – the vibration!

If I march out on November 4th to vote against what I perceive as reckless and dangerous leadership, I actually add energy to the very thing (or candidate) I don’t want. On the other hand, when I cast my ballot in favor of what I see as a step in the right direction, I help create that outcome. ‘Cause I get what I vibrate.

Make sense?

So not just this election day – but every day – ensure you direct thoughts in a way that supports what you want, which simply means focusing on it rather than its opposite. Although I know some politicians give us great material for getting derailed on that, consider it good practice to get even more deliberate in how we cast our vibrational vote.

This presidential campaign will be so close that it actually gives me a chance to prove my hypothesis. Actual votes compared to state by state electoral votes change the result of the election. If true, electoral votes are an outdated method and we have available the resources we need to get a more accurate count.

I will show in numbers what I mean. But, I won’t be able to prove my hypothesis until after the election. That’s when I will be able to take tally and come up with actual numbers in real time.

But my hypothesis is fairly easy to understand. Each state has a number of electoral votes that are sent to Washington D.C. after Election Day. These electoral votes (E.V.) are calculated based on the population of the state. For instance, California has almost 40 million residents and gets 55 E.V. while Wyoming has over half a million residents and gets 3 E.V. All other states fall between these two extremes and are awarded electoral votes accordingly.

If those were the only two states, let’s go with the widely held notions that California will vote Democrat and Wyoming will vote Republican. In that case, President Obama will win hands down with 55 electoral votes to Governor Romney’s 3 votes.

But if actual votes are counted, the election could be flipped. What if California votes Democrat by only a fraction of a percentage while Wyoming votes Republican overwhelmingly? That means that the vote in California might only be separated by a hundred thousand votes while Wyoming could possibly make up the difference.

In an example, if California voted Democrat at 50.1% that would be 18,664,232 Obama votes to 18,589,724 Romney votes. So, Wyoming would only have to vote 60% Republican to flip the election. At 60%, 338,176 votes would be for Romney while 225,450 would be for Obama. In that case, Romney would win the election with 18,927,900 votes to 18,889,682 votes for Obama.

This is particularly interesting in this election because of the state of Ohio. Depending on whose projections you are researching, everyone has their own perspective of how America looks on a political map. Obama is favored by such a small margin that it could actually come down to one state making all the difference in the world.

Ohio stands out to me because it is surrounded by Republican states and yet it is projected to vote democratically. Looking at a political map, everything else makes sense. The West Coast is voting Democrat. The middle states are mainly Republican. The North Eastern states are voting Democrat.

So, depending on how you look at Ohio, it could go either way. On a political map, it’s bordered by Pennsylvania and Michigan, which are projected to vote Democrat. But it’s also bordered by Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia, which makes it look like it’s seated comfortably in Republican territory.

If everything goes as projected, Obama wins by a narrow margin. That comes out to 11 votes over the race for 270 E.V. But if Ohio votes Republican, the election flips and Romney wins by a narrow margin. Ohio has 18 E.V. and could very well be the most critical state on the map this election year.

However, to continue with my hypothesis, if Obama wins by a narrow margin of E.V., what does that mean when compared to actual votes? What if Ohio votes Democrat by 60%? That comes out to nearly 7 million actual Obama votes to over 4.5 million actual Romney votes. There are plenty of actual votes for Romney to flip the election.

Electoral votes were put in place before computers and the age of the internet. I’m sure with all the resources we have available, that we can keep a more accurate account of votes. One suggestion is that we have a national registry where each state inputs votes with Democrat and Republican teams monitoring as an administrator punches in the calculations.

We already have people transferring votes from ballots that aren’t machine readable. Democrat and Republican teams are monitoring that exercise. There would be no difference in tallying everyone’s actual vote and then inputting calculations in a national registry for a pure total of how the nation truly voted.

Once the election is over, we’ll be able to look at the actual numbers. I have a spreadsheet ready with as much data as I can input at this time. After the election, I’ll be able to report whether or not my hypothesis would have made a difference in this election. But the most important factor about turning to actual votes as opposed to electoral votes is that it truly gives greater weight to every vote. When each vote actually counts, everyone has a voice.

Yahoo, I’m finally back online, and just in time for the US Presidential Debate!! Why am I soo extra excited about that? Because I can’t wait to talk about Joe the Plumber!! Hello, Joe, if you’re out there! Say, are you married?? Nothing I love more than a plumber, and not just because I have a bizarre pipe on the outside of the shower in my new bathroom (more on the new place I just bought and have been renvating like crazy in a few minutes… right now, me really wants to talk about Joe the Plumber!).

Okay, so everyone knows I used to be married to a plumber, so, of course, I know very, very well how much they make, and we knew all sort of other plumbers, because they all lived in our gorgeous Acreage Community, because they were all loaded! hahaha! That’s right, McCain’s shining example of a ‘Middle Class, Average Joe’, was a plumber, perhaps because he has a negative idea of how much a plumber makes, and an assumption that someone in the Trades might make waaay less than, say, a lawyer or a doctor. Now, by no means am I saying that doctors and lawyers don’t do well, because often they do, but so do the plumbers and all the other Trades People. I do not like that old stereotype that poor old Joe the Plumber is some poor sod, barely eeking out a living. No, indeed.

Now, I’m not tryin’ to make you all jealous, but I happen to own my very own calculator, so I quickly did a little simple math to see how much Joe the Plumber makes if he works 10 to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week… okay, let’s say he makes $69./hour, which is much lower than most plumbers make, especially if they own their own business. So lets just go with 12 hours a day, so that’s 84 hours a week, times 52 weeks a year, so 4368 hours, at $69./hour. What?? Is my calculator right at $301,392. a year? haha! You go, Joe!! I loves me a man in the Trades!! And I love all the Women in the Trades, too, but in a different kind of way! lol!

You know what’s even funnier about the Joe the Plumber situation? Guess who built his own house, and bought all the land around his house, then built all the houses on his newly purchased land? That’s right, Baby, Joe the Plumber! People in the Trades build their own houses, because they already have all the contacts with all the other Trades People to get the job done quickly and often under budget, primarily because they can do a lot of their own work. And then we sell to the other Professionals, and that’s what makes our little economy go ’round… so I hope that’s enough incentive for more people to swing by their local colleges to see what kind of training programs they might have in a Trade that appeals to anyone who is interested. You know what I would really love to see, as a Builder and as a Teacher? I would love to see every single kid coming out of high school, encouraged to develop at least one skill where they can always find a job, and be able to find a job that will pay them well enough to provide for themselves and their family. Now wouldn’t that be nice?? Go ahead and get as many Advanced Degrees as you like, but one decent skill that makes you employable at any given minute of your life is essential for flexibility in your life.

And since we’re on Education, now, I loved the whole bit in the debate about ‘No Child Left Behind’, Bush’s Big Idea to fix education in America. You know what teachers secretly call ‘No Child Left Behind’? “Every Teacher Left Behind”. It’s true. It’s a plan with a lovely name, that makes anyone who sees all the flaws with it look like someone who doesn’t support ‘every child’, but that’s crazy, because that’s really the only thing teachers do, day in and day out, is support every child. We love kids, and we want them to learn and be the very best person they can possibly be. But wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a system that supports the professionals who keep the whole thing moving? I’ve gotta say, the Voucher System scares me, because it takes money directly out of Public Schools, and that’s not good. Dang, I soo wish I were an American Citizen so I could vote for Obama!!

The thing they never say out loud in all these chats about anything that removes students from the Public School System, takes money out of that system and gives it to a Private System, is that Public Schools accept ALL children. Yep. Every last one. Private Schools only take the ‘Cream of the Crop’, IF their parents allow it. I’m not a fan of Elitism, and that’s what Private Schools smack of… and for that to ever be Publicy Funded is a big problem for me. I wish they would give the money to Public Schools, and make them incredible, and open to all children, not just a chosen few. It’s easy to have fantastic High Scores on all your tests if every kid in the school is Gifted. All that talk about Special Needs Students (you all know I teach Special Needs Students, and have for 25 years – they are the love of my life, along with my own little family!), but the reality of many Charter and Private Schools is that our Special Needs kids are not included in their schools, or play a much smaller role than in our Public Schools. (Okay, I’m getting off my Soap Box — it’s not that comfortable to stand on, anyway!)

Hey, you know what I would really like to know? (Joe the Plumber’s phone number, and if he’s married! hahahaha!) No, fer real… I would love to know if you can retrofit an existing building to start using Geothermal Energy. I’ll need to ask Dwight, my ex-husband (remember Dwight? He’s doing really well, and we just went up to Canada for a wee visit, and did a ‘dog-boy’ exchange for the weekend… we all stayed in the same beautiful hotel in Vancouver, and our son, Aidan, stayed with Dwight, and Dwightie brought out our sweet little dog, Tia, and she stayed with my daughter, Cara, and I in our hotel room. What a great weekend! It’s a very, very Good Thing when you can have a really good relationship with your Ex, right?). Anyway, Dwight knows a lot about Geothermal Energy, and if we had built another house, together, we would definitely have gone with Geothermal Energy. One day I would loove to build a house that is entirely Off the Grid (and if you’re not completely sure what ‘Off the Grid’ is, it’s when you can fully supply all the energy you need for your own home).

Wouldn’t that be amazing, though, if that were feasible? Here’s a quickie example… I just bought a beautiful new Condo (new to me, it was built in 1970), and my Complex already has Solar Panels on our roofs, which I think is very progressive. In fact, I would really like to see one set of the Solar Panels connected to one of the pools at my complex (ironically, I would like the Solar Panels connected to MY favorite pool in the complex [there are 3 — yippee!], the one surrounded with a zillion plants and trees… like a little oasis in the city!). But aside from my own vested interest in having a lovely warm pool all year long, I think it’s fantastic that we could use our Solar Energy to heat it. What if all the pools in North America were heated with Solar Energy? And if there were some way to drill into the earth to access the Goethermal energy to convert into energy to power different aspects of my Condo Complex without disturbing the area too much, wouldn’t that be a great use of sustainable energy? The problem would be the sheer initial costs involved, but wouldn’t the cost be off-set by the overall savings into the future? Hmm… I’m jam-packed full of questions like that… and quite a few much seedier questions, too, but if you’ve read any of my other stuff, you already knows that!! LOL!

I can’t tell you haw excited (and relieved) I am to have my Site back up… man, that was scary. I was down for over a month, but in my ‘downtime’, I totally renovated my whole new place! WooHoo! It’s gorgeous… vaulted throughout, which is very unusual in a ‘City Condo’. Man, I loves me a Vaulted Ceiling! I think they make the whole place feel so much more spacious…if you happen to be in the throes of a Build, right now, and you were thinking of having the traditional flat ceilings,have a look up at the potential in your ceiling to Vault it. You’re just going to insulate the roof beams and drywall over that (oh, I have a good link for this… pop into my ‘Insulation & Drywall Page’, and you’ll see some pretty cool pictures of this process). Anyway, the cost is minimal, given how lovely and open your new house will be. I’ve never looked at the cost of raising the ceilings to create a new Vault in a Renovation, but if you don’t have any structural changes outside of raising the ceiling, it shouldn’t cost all that much, in the scheme of things… but you know I operate in ‘Construction Dollars’, so always have more on hand than you think it’s gonna cost, to make sure you’re still living within your means and don’t lose your mind when you get the bill!

Okay, well, it’s great to see you, again! Did I mention how great you look? Have you lost another 10 pounds?? Not me! haha! Although I did promise my Nurse-Practictioner that I would lose 10 pounds so I can stay on The Pill, since I’m pretty sure that if I don’t keep taking ‘The Pill’, I’ll trade the 10 pounds I’m supposed to lose for a 10 pound baby, and that seems like bad idea for me (since God Knows I think I could get pregnant if a nice looking virile man walked past me…which reminds me of one of my favorite jokes, this year, the “Frank, I dropped the baby” Stork joke, where Frank and his Stork Buddy are ‘delivering’ babies…), except that the reality is that I am very, very fond of babies, so I am trying to remember that I live in America, now, and as much as I would love to have another baby, I really shouldn’t, what with having to work for a living, now, an’ all! So my job in the next 2 months is to lose that damn 10 pounds, and make my Nurse-Practitioner happy!Hello, Apple Crumble Diet! Good-bye deeelilicous chocolate.

I am still wearing a bikini, which is a Good Sign, so hopefully by the end of these next couple of months, I’ll be sleeker than ever… and I still don’t have a drop of cellulite, which is great at 45! Stooopid cellulite! (If you hate it, too, get rid of cellulite with my favorite exercise… but I promise I will try to remember how to put new pictures on my site so you don’t have to look at the old pictures of me… I need pictures of the real amount of weight I lift to target that annoying leg cellulite, then we’ll all have fantastic legs, right??) (Ooookay, I’m lying about getting rid of my favorite chocolate — you caught me in my tiny little lie… but I will start eating my Apple Crumble, again, and I am trying something ‘new to me’.. I’m having a ‘Cereal Diet’, sort of. All my ‘diets’ are ‘sort of’, in that I like to eat whatever I want (who doesn’t?? haha!). But I have a theory that having cereal, especially anything with bran or oatmeal, is a Good Idea, so I will have cereal (I like Raisin Bran, these days) or soup for dinner, the Apple Crumble for my morning snack, and pretty much whatever is available at lunchtime. So far, so good. I’ll let you know how it goes. And I’ll step it up a bit at the gym, too, and continue swimming every day. I like to swim laps, then jog in the pool for about half an hour… I think I lost an inch off my waist, just with the ‘Pool Jogging’.. pleasant and easy. And then I spend an inordinant amount of time in the hot tub, come home and have a drink! hahaha! Now does my ‘diet’ sound like fun?? Yep! I’m not about to be unhappy at any point in the day just to lose weight — that’s the problem with all those other diets, they forget that people just want to be happy, and lose weight! If I weigh another 500 pounds by the end of next week, I’ll let you know that my theory needs a slight adjustment! LOL!

All right, I really am going, now! See what happens when we haven’t talked in all this time? There’s just so much to say! I will do my bestest to get back in here more often… and I have a new Business that I am starting, so I’ll tell you about that, too, when I get that launched… all very exciting!! Thanks for popping in for a wee visit! You know I love to see you! C’ya, Baby!! , Ailsa xox

Irrespective of which party they belong to, all politicians are agreeing that there needs to be cuts in public service spending to meet this country’s financial deficit; it is only the depths of these cuts that they are arguing about. For many years the definition of Best Value has been to achieve more with the same or the same with less. Senior executives are now going to be expected to produce strategies that will provide more with less

Therefore, the depths of these impending cuts are going to require two significant changes to occur simultaneously within the public sector; a radical restructure of the organizations that deliver our public services and the management of customer expectation. In this article I am going to look at the restructuring issues which will allow organizations to meet the mission statement of the public sector, “to deliver public services that meet our stakeholder requirements.” The vision is, “to reverse the current public satisfaction figure, from 75% dissatisfaction to 75% or more being satisfied” and the strategy is, “to deliver high quality public services with an infrastructure which is as streamlined as possible”.

Oh how simple to resolve all the ills of the public sector; but we all know that it is not as simple as that. In fact, it is so complex that you could use every strategic analysis tool ever used – and will probably need to. However, the public want it kept simple and we must remember that we are all ‘the public’ and recipients of the public services. We also need to remain focused on the fact that the latest figures show that 75% of the public (our customers) are dissatisfied with their public services.

Now we have the opportunity to take a real look at the function of all of our public services in order to identify and eliminate duplication by true integration, as this is where significant savings can be made. Logic says that it would be foolish to reduce the number of front-line delivery staff, as the public do not consider that there are enough of them already. It would also be logical to reduce the number of senior executives and leaders within public-sector organizations. However, my experience is that organizational reviews are undertaken by senior leaders of that organization and which chief constable chief fire officer, chief executive of a strategic health authority, finance director or HR director is going to do away with their own post? Turkeys do not vote for Christmas!

But they do need to get the vote and take an objective view of how much value their role adds to the front-line delivery of public services. For example, do the public really care whether there are 43 police services, 49 fire services and 10 strategic health authorities in England and Wales? But the customers of public services do care about their local services; their local police, their local fire service, the 152 primary care trusts and 152 local councils and they want as few layers as possible between the bottom of the organization and the top.

I hope I’m wrong, and that we do have a complete restructuring of the public services, because the future of good streamlined public services is going to rely on integration and managing the public expectation; which I’m going to discuss in my next article.

In the future there will be online and mobile voting apps and this will be the way all ballots are cast. Of course, until then, there will need to be duplicate systems so that people can still do it the old way – mail-in or going to an actual polling place. Still during that interim, we must make sure that people do not vote twice or multiple times. We have to watch out also for hacking and other types of voter fraud. Obviously, during this last 2016 Presidential Election there was talk of all sorts of improprieties and voting anomalies. Some conspiracy driven, some factual, and yes, some illegal aliens voted, some dead people cast their ballots and many voted multiple times, and who knows maybe there was some backroom computer fraud going on for one candidate or another in some polling places around the nation.

Not long ago, we discussed this future at our Think Tank, and fellow thinker Cody Hunt explained some of the challenges and potential solutions to these issues;

“If you could work it out in the automated system so that the app and the physical polls work on the same system so that each person is only allowed to vote once than I think it would work beautifully and anyone who doesn’t have the app could use the physical polls but not be allowed to vote again on the app and visa-versa.”

Cody also thought that creation of such a system would make it possible to positively identify the user in the same way buying apps do. This would be akin to the rules in some states where voters must have ID to vote, or they will not be allowed to cast their ballots.

It was also discussed that such an app must show ‘proof of citizenship’ to prevent non-citizens from casting an online vote. Once this occurred the voting would significantly speed up and the voter turnout would definitely increase drastically simply due to the ease of use – voting apps would surely solve voter apathy issues.

Indeed, I could not agree more that it would certainly turn out the vote, and the participation rate would be quite robust, which is a good thing, since in the US, “WE OWN THE GOVERNMENT” and it might also be a faster way to bring about change when the country was moving in what the people felt was the wrong direction. Now then, as long as we can prevent cheating – then we should immediately implement such a system to vote in America. Please consider all this.

Mass voting via texting, using SMS gateway technology, can be quickly set up “in the cloud” and without the need to buy any hardware or software.

Taking instant votes for polling is becoming increasingly popular, particularly for mass audiences watching television reality shows. But there any many more text voting applications that are being put to use, namely at sporting and cultural events. Using online technology, which provides a “gateway” between the Internet and the mobile phone world, polls can be designed to solicit votes from who the most valuable player should be, to what encore number the orchestra or rock star should perform.

The SMS (short message service) polling can be easily and quickly set up, and is relatively inexpensive to implement and administer. Once you set up a text account with an online text service, you can begin choosing “keywords” that will identify your offered choices. For example, you can have a keyword “A” which your audience can text to your short code which would identify one choice; and another keyword “B” that would be linked to another choice. As another example, “Ladies and Gentleman, we will be serving dessert soon. If you want vanilla ice cream, please text the letter A to 12345, or if you want chocolate ice cream, text the letter B to 12345.” People text their preferred choices to the short codes and you’ll get a real time result that you can announce or post.

A short code is your text address. It consists of 5 or 6 numbers and is used to identify you in the texting world. By far, you’re best bet is to “share” a short code, since getting your own is a long, complicated and expensive process. Shared short codes are readily available from online text providers and you can work with the provider to determine what available keywords would work best for you. The whole process of establishing an account, getting your keywords and implementing a voting via text campaign can be accomplished in just a few hours.

How has voting/polling via text messaging become so popular, so quickly? There are several reasons:

1) People are now using their mobile phones more for texting than talking.

2) Smart phones, with full QWERTY keyboards, makes it much easier and faster to text.

3) Unlimited texting plans which offer discounted texting rates encourage people to text.

4) Organizations are finding that voting via texting is an ideal way to compile lists of mobile phone numbers that can be used again in the future to send messages to supporters, customers, prospects, fans, constituents, students or wide audiences. People who text in a vote will be asked to opt-in to your list. The government, regulators and carriers are all adamant and carry out strict rules to insure that everyone on your list has opted-in. They are trying to head off abuse of the system, which is what happened to email when it severely crippled by spam.

Overall, the voting via text method is popular, easy and inexpensive. It is also a very effective way to engage your audience, either live or through advertising and promotion techniques, and may overtake the remote voting/polling world as the primary way to outreach and instantaneously compile the opinions and feelings of hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people.

What is American food anyway? The common answer is burgers, hot dogs and apple pie but apple pie is actually European, so are burgers and hot dogs really all we have to offer? In Texas they will fry anything, pile some batter on it and throw it into a pot of grease and any given Texan will tell you it is the best they have ever had. Make it easy to eat while walking and wrap it in paper and a New Yorker wouldn’t much care if it were just a stick of dough with “red sauce” as long as you sell it from a cart on the street for less than $5.00 they will claim that no city on earth makes it better! Put anything in a tortilla and a Californian will eat it, call it Cajun and Louisiana will serve it with sweat tea, slap some BBQ sauce on and Tennessee will claim it originated in that state; does the US even have one universal style of food we can call our own? In short, not really.

American food is mostly divided by region, much like voting the north east is different than the mid west is different than the south is different than the west coast is still a little different than the south west; from sea to shining sea not one person will give you an answer that doesn’t very by state or at least by time zone. We have southern food, which is most definitely an American original but that isn’t even the same in all southern states. In Texas (which can be debated as the south or the south west) you have the original fajita in Kyle TX and hill country BBQ Brisket, in Louisiana you get Cajun food, soul food and specifically in New Orleans you are blessed with Creole. In Tennessee it is BBQ pork, in Virginia it is Ham, in Georgia it is grits…is there even one specific southern food? Sweat Tea of course, country gravy maybe but most southern states have a difficult time agreeing what good, quality, American southern food is. In the northeast you have Maryland crab cakes and clam chowder, in the mid west you have Chicago hot dogs and corn on the cob, in the north west you get Washington clams and in the south west it is green chili (chili verde), so what is American food?

American food, like America is as diverse and varied as the streets of New York City. We have all kinds of people and all kinds of foods, in a country as large as the United States with the freedom of choice from who your President is to what color of braces you want your food to get stuck in it would almost be un-American to narrow it down and make people agree on one specific type of food. Right there with free speech we Americans are blessed with a free press and the freedom to choose by region, state or individual person what kind of food we call our own. Though many will simply say “fast food” as an immediate response to such a question I beg it is not so. We are not just a Fast Food Nation as the movie suggest, we are not void of culture and we are not all war mongering, self centered obese people in ball caps either. What we are is a wide Varity of things, to complex and diverse to be narrowed down into one classification. We are the contents of a melting pot, the image of a collage, we are a sponge; we are America and nearly nothing universally conforms us to our neighbors other than the freedoms we share, not even the foods we eat.

“Some people think that the Federal Reserve Banks are United States Government institutions. They are private monopolies which prey upon the people of these United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers; foreign and domestic speculators and swindlers; and rich and predatory money lenders.” – The Honorable Louis McFadden, Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee in the 1930s

The Federal Reserve (or Fed) has assumed sweeping new powers in the last year. In an unprecedented move in March 2008, the New York Fed advanced the funds for JPMorgan Chase Bank to buy investment bank Bear Stearns for pennies on the dollar. The deal was particularly controversial because Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, sits on the board of the New York Fed and participated in the secret weekend negotiations. In September 2008, the Federal Reserve did something even more unprecedented, when it bought the world’s largest insurance company. The Fed announced on September 16 that it was giving an $85 billion loan to American International Group (AIG) for a nearly 80% stake in the mega-insurer. The Associated Press called it a “government takeover,” but this was no ordinary nationalization. Unlike the U.S. Treasury, which took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the week before, the Fed is not a government-owned agency. Also unprecedented was the way the deal was funded. The Associated Press reported:

“The Treasury Department, for the first time in its history, said it would begin selling bonds for the Federal Reserve in an effort to help the central bank deal with its unprecedented borrowing needs.”1

This is extraordinary. Why is the Treasury issuing U.S. government bonds (or debt) to fund the Fed, which is itself supposedly “the lender of last resort” created to fund the banks and the federal government? Yahoo Finance reported on September 17:

“The Treasury is setting up a temporary financing program at the Fed’s request. The program will auction Treasury bills to raise cash for the Fed’s use. The initiative aims to help the Fed manage its balance sheet following its efforts to enhance its liquidity facilities over the previous few quarters.”

Normally, the Fed swaps green pieces of paper called Federal Reserve Notes for pink pieces of paper called U.S. bonds (the federal government’s I.O.U.s), in order to provide Congress with the dollars it cannot raise through taxes. Now, it seems, the government is issuing bonds, not for its own use, but for the use of the Fed! Perhaps the plan is to swap them with the banks’ dodgy derivatives collateral directly, without actually putting them up for sale to outside buyers. According to Wikipedia (which translates Fedspeak into somewhat clearer terms than the Fed’s own website):

“The Term Securities Lending Facility is a 28-day facility that will offer Treasury general collateral to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s primary dealers in exchange for other program-eligible collateral. It is intended to promote liquidity in the financing markets for Treasury and other collateral and thus to foster the functioning of financial markets more generally. . . . The resource allows dealers to switch debt that is less liquid for U.S. government securities that are easily tradable.”

“To switch debt that is less liquid for U.S. government securities that are easily tradable” means that the government gets the banks’ toxic derivative debt, and the banks get the government’s triple-A securities. Unlike the risky derivative debt, federal securities are considered “risk-free” for purposes of determining capital requirements, allowing the banks to improve their capital position so they can make new loans.

In its latest power play, on October 3, 2008, the Fed acquired the ability to pay interest to its member banks on the reserves the banks maintain at the Fed. Reuters reported on October 3:

“The U.S. Federal Reserve gained a key tactical tool from the $700 billion financial rescue package signed into law on Friday that will help it channel funds into parched credit markets. Tucked into the 451-page bill is a provision that lets the Fed pay interest on the reserves banks are required to hold at the central bank.”2

If the Fed’s money comes ultimately from the taxpayers, that means we the taxpayers are paying interest to the banks on the banks’ own reserves – reserves maintained for their own private profit. These increasingly controversial encroachments on the public purse warrant a closer look at the central banking scheme itself. Who owns the Federal Reserve, who actually controls it, where does it get its money, and whose interests is it serving?

Not Private and Not for Profit?

The Fed’s website insists that it is not a private corporation, is not operated for profit, and is not funded by Congress. But is that true? The Federal Reserve was set up in 1913 as a “lender of last resort” to backstop bank runs, following a particularly bad bank panic in 1907. The Fed’s mandate was then and continues to be to keep the private banking system intact; and that means keeping intact the system’s most valuable asset, a monopoly on creating the national money supply. Except for coins, every dollar in circulation is now created privately as a debt to the Federal Reserve or the banking system it heads. The Fed’s website attempts to gloss over its role as chief defender and protector of this private banking club, but let’s take a closer look. The website states:

“The twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, which were established by Congress as the operating arms of the nation’s central banking system, are organized much like private corporations – possibly leading to some confusion about “ownership.” For example, the Reserve Banks issue shares of stock to member banks. However, owning Reserve Bank stock is quite different from owning stock in a private company. The Reserve Banks are not operated for profit, and ownership of a certain amount of stock is, by law, a condition of membership in the System. The stock may not be sold, traded, or pledged as security for a loan; dividends are, by law, 6 percent per year.”

“[The Federal Reserve] is considered an independent central bank because its decisions do not have to be ratified by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branch of government, it does not receive funding appropriated by Congress, and the terms of the members of the Board of Governors span multiple presidential and congressional terms.”

“The Federal Reserve’s income is derived primarily from the interest on U.S. government securities that it has acquired through open market operations. . . . After paying its expenses, the Federal Reserve turns the rest of its earnings over to the U.S. Treasury.”3

So let’s review:

1. The Fed is privately owned.

Its shareholders are private banks. In fact, 100% of its shareholders are private banks. None of its stock is owned by the government.

2. The fact that the Fed does not get “appropriations” from Congress basically means that it gets its money from Congress without congressional approval, by engaging in “open market operations.”

Here is how it works: When the government is short of funds, the Treasury issues bonds and delivers them to bond dealers, which auction them off. When the Fed wants to “expand the money supply” (create money), it steps in and buys bonds from these dealers with newly-issued dollars acquired by the Fed for the cost of writing them into an account on a computer screen. These maneuvers are called “open market operations” because the Fed buys the bonds on the “open market” from the bond dealers. The bonds then become the “reserves” that the banking establishment uses to back its loans. In another bit of sleight of hand known as “fractional reserve” lending, the same reserves are lent many times over, further expanding the money supply, generating interest for the banks with each loan. It was this money-creating process that prompted Wright Patman, Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee in the 1960s, to call the Federal Reserve “a total money-making machine.” He wrote:

“When the Federal Reserve writes a check for a government bond it does exactly what any bank does, it creates money, it created money purely and simply by writing a check.”

3. The Fed generates profits for its shareholders.

The interest on bonds acquired with its newly-issued Federal Reserve Notes pays the Fed’s operating expenses plus a guaranteed 6% return to its banker shareholders. A mere 6% a year may not be considered a profit in the world of Wall Street high finance, but most businesses that manage to cover all their expenses and give their shareholders a guaranteed 6% return are considered “for profit” corporations.

In addition to this guaranteed 6%, the banks will now be getting interest from the taxpayers on their “reserves.” The basic reserve requirement set by the Federal Reserve is 10%. The website of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York explains that as money is redeposited and relent throughout the banking system, this 10% held in “reserve” can be fanned into ten times that sum in loans; that is, $10,000 in reserves becomes $100,000 in loans. Federal Reserve Statistical Release H.8 puts the total “loans and leases in bank credit” as of September 24, 2008 at $7,049 billion. Ten percent of that is $700 billion. That means we the taxpayers will be paying interest to the banks on at least $700 billion annually – this so that the banks can retain the reserves to accumulate interest on ten times that sum in loans.

The banks earn these returns from the taxpayers for the privilege of having the banks’ interests protected by an all-powerful independent private central bank, even when those interests may be opposed to the taxpayers’ — for example, when the banks use their special status as private money creators to fund speculative derivative schemes that threaten to collapse the U.S. economy. Among other special benefits, banks and other financial institutions (but not other corporations) can borrow at the low Fed funds rate of about 2%. They can then turn around and put this money into 30-year Treasury bonds at 4.5%, earning an immediate 2.5% from the taxpayers, just by virtue of their position as favored banks. A long list of banks (but not other corporations) is also now protected from the short selling that can crash the price of other stocks.

Time to Change the Statute?

According to the Fed’s website, the control Congress has over the Federal Reserve is limited to this:

“[T]he Federal Reserve is subject to oversight by Congress, which periodically reviews its activities and can alter its responsibilities by statute.”

As we know from watching the business news, “oversight” basically means that Congress gets to see the results when it’s over. The Fed periodically reports to Congress, but the Fed doesn’t ask; it tells. The only real leverage Congress has over the Fed is that it “can alter its responsibilities by statute.” It is time for Congress to exercise that leverage and make the Federal Reserve a truly federal agency, acting by and for the people through their elected representatives. If the Fed can demand AIG’s stock in return for an $85 billion loan to the mega-insurer, we can demand the Fed’s stock in return for the trillion-or-so dollars we’ll be advancing to bail out the private banking system from its follies.

If the Fed were actually a federal agency, the government could issue U.S. legal tender directly, avoiding an unnecessary interest-bearing debt to private middlemen who create the money out of thin air themselves. Among other benefits to the taxpayers. a truly “federal” Federal Reserve could lend the full faith and credit of the United States to state and local governments interest-free, cutting the cost of infrastructure in half, restoring the thriving local economies of earlier decades.

Addendum: Who Owns the Banks That Own the Fed?

Beyond merely stating that all the shareholders of the Fed are its member banks, I’ve been asked to elaborate on who actually owns those banks. Are they owned by powerful foreign banking families as has been alleged? According to a discursive article by Dr. Edward Flaherty, condensed below, the answer is no – not to any provable extent. But that does not mean that the Fed and the U.S. banking system are not controlled from abroad. The central banking system has its own “banker’s bank,” the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, Switzerland. The BIS does control the international banking system, in part by setting capital requirements — the requirements that have now caused the entire U.S. credit market to freeze up. But that is a subject for a later article. Dr. Flaherty wrote:

“. . . Each of the twelve Federal Reserve Banks is organized into a corporation whose shares are sold to the commercial banks and thrifts operating within the Bank’s district. Shareholders elect six of the nine the board of directors for their regional Federal Reserve Bank as well as its president. . . .

“The SEC requires the name of any individual or organization that owns more than 5 percent of the outstanding shares of a publicly traded firm be made public. If foreigners own any shares of [eight banks claimed by Eustace Mullins to control the New York Federal Reserve], then their portions are not greater than 5 percent at this time. With no significant holdings of the major New York area banks, it does not seem likely that foreign conspirators could direct their actions.

“. . . The law stipulates a small portion of Federal Reserve stock may be available for sale to the public. . . . However, under the terms of the Federal Reserve Act, public stock was only to be sold in the event the sale of stock to member banks did not raise the minimum of $4 million of initial capital for each Federal Reserve Bank when they were organized in 1913 (12 USCA Sec. 281). Each Bank was able to raise the necessary amount through member stock sales, and no public stock was ever sold to the non-bank public. In other words, no Federal Reserve stock has ever been sold to foreigners; it has only been sold to banks which are members of the Federal Reserve System.

“. . . [E]ach commercial bank receives one vote regardless of its size, unlike most corporate voting structures in which the number of votes is tied to the number of shares a person holds. The New York Federal Reserve district contains over 1,000 member banks, so it is highly unlikely that even the largest and most powerful banks would be able to coerce so many smaller ones to vote in a particular manner. To control the vote of a majority of member banks would mean acquiring a controlling interest in about 500 member banks of the New York district.” [Prof. Edward Flaherty, University of Charleston, “Who Owns and Controls the Federal Reserve?” (July 18, 1997); citations omitted.]

1 Ellen Simon, “Fed, Central Banks Move to Boost Global Confidence,” Associated Press (September 18, 2008).

2 Mark Felsenthal, “Bailout Bill Gives Fed New Tool to Boost Liquidity,” Reuters (October 2008).

3 FAQs: Federal Reserve System,” federalreserve.gov.