DON BLANKENSHIP

FACTUAL DISCUSSIONS

Most every country in the world, in one way or another, benefits from a strong, healthy America. All Americans, and in fact all the world, are stakeholders in our country. It is America, and Americans, who have led the world's progress in the improvement of people's quality of life. Consequently, we clearly owe it to ourselves, to our fellow Americans, and to all people of the world to sort out the facts and to base our positions on those facts. It is only in this way that we can continue to be the greatest country on this earth and to fulfill our commitment to our fellow human beings.

Years ago I was engaged in an intense debate with someone and stated to my adversary that, "the facts are the facts." My adversary replied, "facts are not facts." It was then that I knew we had to end the discussion. It was clear that the person did not believe that facts needed to be the foundation for any position that would have any meaningful benefit. You can debate what the future course will be, but facts are facts.

We accept the physical fact that the world is round, and that oceans cover 71% of its surface. Most of us accept, as fact, that our country is $16 trillion in debt and that the debt is growing each year. We accept, as fact, that 47 million Americans and non-Americans are receiving some sort of U.S. government assistance. This number is actually much larger, since we contribute billions of dollars in foreign aid. At the same time, we accept that most of our housing values have greatly declined.

We, as individuals, are often more accepting of facts based on the person who is stating them (something being a fact, depending on who says it is a fact). A businessman accepts most of what Fox News says as fact, and much of what CNN says as propaganda. Sometimes it is difficult to tell what the facts are, but nonetheless, the success of any effort to improve our lives and the lives of others must fundamentally be based on real facts.

Bernie Madoff didn't give his investors the facts; neither did Enron. People were being told that things were better than they were. This resulted in people being hurt and was financially catastrophic for the investors and stakeholders.

Stakeholders? All of the world could be said to be stakeholders in America. Personally, I hope to help those of you who truly want to save America to learn the facts, and then to help identify what those facts suggest we should do. We know that our government and the media do not give us the facts. Unfortunately, while most Americans don't believe the politicians, they do believe the government. Somehow people forget that it is often the most untruthful politicians who become our government's leaders.

I will not represent to you that I know all of the facts, but I do know that our government conveniently leaves out many facts. What good is an unemployment rate when it only includes those who are showing up at the unemployment office, and excludes those who are no longer eligible for unemployment? What good is an inflation rate that excludes the cost of gasoline? What good is it to talk about how big the debt is if it does not include unfunded liabilities?

Why is it that our government doesn't hold itself to the same standards of reporting that it demands from corporate America? The answers to these questions are very simple. It doesn't benefit those in Congress or in the White House to provide the facts to the American public.

None of us will ever have all the facts, but what we know is, just as it was with Enron and with Bernie Madoff, the facts about America's financial health are frightening.

Together, we can figure out the truth and make a better tomorrow.

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