Sunday, September 30, 2018

"Dark Side" Meant to Accommodate American Oligarchs

Last week, I received an invoice from American Express. When I closely examined the correspondence, it became apparent that it was an offer to settle.

Puzzled, I called the number on the invoice. A heavily accented voice that suggested India or Pakistan told me that American Express was making me "a one time offer;" accepting $483 to satisfy the alleged $1239 owed.

Craning the depths of memory, I recalled a different Jeff Willis who evidently was delinquent on an American Express card. It had been resolved then, in 2009. Yet here, nine years later, it continued to surface.

When I relayed these findings to the gentleman on the phone, he began asking the normal questions: "Birthday, last four numbers of my social, home address..."

I stopped him, realizing that I was witnessing a "phishing scam." Instead I reminded him that "no revolving debt was collectible in Kentucky after five years and no derogatory could be reported to the credit bureaus after 84 months."

His retort was that I only had to pay $483 and they would accept a 12-month payment plan. I told him to stop harassing me and hung up.

Unfortunately, there are many conscientious Americans, especially older Americans who aren't aware of debt recovery statute of limitations guidelines. And, they zealously guard their bureaus.

Also true is if one payment had been made, the clock would reset and they would be responsible for the debt. Because, in making the payment, they would acknowledge that the debt was indeed theirs.

Unbeknownst to many Americans are schemes and scams globally involving collection of old debt. Debt recovery companies can afford to pursue them because, the old debt may be purchased for "pennies" on the dollar and the offshore help used to expedite is cheap.

Worse still, by sharing Americans personal information, they expose them to identity theft, the world's fastest growing crime.

There are many who would say "that's just the way that it is." In other words, the whole system is rigged to screw everyday Americans and there is nothing that we can do about it.

Or is there?

In a previous post, I referenced a conversation with Congressional Aide, Kevin Wysoki regarding a "clean-up" of the debt recovery industry. Corrective measure included "precluding" any job that required use of an American's social security number from offshore outsourcing.

Sounds plausible. In fact, I haven't talked to a single person who didn't think that it wasn't a "brilliant" idea! Yet some oppose. Who are they? And why would they oppose?

The answers are "Fortune 500 companies" and "such action would reduce their profit margins."

A.T. & T., one of the greatest perpetrators, would explain that "rates would need to be increased" because of the high labor costs in America. In other words, "their unions" wouldn't allow it.

I pointed out to Wysoki, that A.T. & T. might "consider placing these mostly call center jobs in right-to-work states." Yet even then, we would be talking about minimum wage, which begins at $7.25 per hour which, according to A. T. & T., nobody would want anyway!

Think again!

There is a low cost labor market that isn't being utilized to the greatest extent. They are older workers, age 62-66 who are currently eligible for early social security. Unfortunately, it isn't enough to live on. However, an additional $18,000 per year is allowed without compromising the entitlement.

Suddenly, a $7.25 per hour call center job looks appealing. Especially when considering that this worker could become eligible for A. T. & T.'s very good medical and dental plan!

The Fortune 500 companies would argue that their offshore help works for much less; often $200-$300 per month, with no benefits. This math would effectively "quintuple" their labor costs.

Really? Has anyone ever dealt with this "help?" I have! I can tell you first hand, conducting business takes three to four times longer; because the offshore party is speaking in a second language and has difficulty understanding, or being understood by the American!

Thus, the "labor bargain" isn't really that big of a bargain. Or, at least, not for the American who is forced to waste time to accommodate the international service provider.

Then comes the vetting; or lack thereof.

The end result is an open door to "phishermen" and scammers!

Is there any relief in sight?

It won't be easy. Politicians are reluctant to take on these big companies. Not to mention Oligarchs such as Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffet or Tom Steyer. These billionaires see such preclusion as a serious hit to their bottom lines. Congressmen don't welcome the prospect of being targeted by these interests.

People are now fully understanding what Donald Trump meant when he called our system "rigged."

Are there other remedies that could be used? Yes. It is called a "boycott."

A nation wide boycott of companies employing offshore help that "require use of all or part of a social" would gain traction immediately. In fact, the mere threat might force these companies to rethink the practice.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Coastal Elites Funding Future Surrogates

Follow the money!

I was astounded to hear that Nevada Democrat Senate Challenger, Jackie Rosen had received 90% of her campaign funding from out-of-state sources. At least, that's what President Donald J.Trump revealed in Las Vegas earlier this week.

Trump was campaigning for Republican Incumbent, Dean Heller in what pundits suggest is a "toss up" race that could be decided by one or two percentage points. Those who were listening will likely be less impressed with Rosen, when comparing how much out-of-state money is supporting Rosen versus where Heller's financial support base largely falls.

Rosen's position mirrors the far left of the national DNC. We're talking, "Bernie people."

"Open borders. Healthcare for all, including those in the country illegally. Suffocating regulations. High Taxes." It's all there!

In 2016, Heller wasn't Trump's best friend! Fair to say is that while not a "Never Trumper," Heller was close! His views were more in sync with those of Mitt Romney. Yet...

Trump asked for a chance. He convinced conservative, Danny Tarkanian NOT to challenge Heller in the primary. He threw his weight behind Heller's fund raising effort. And asked Heller to look at his program with an open mindedness that befitted great men.

Heller did. So did other Neo-Cons, including Mitt Romney. Keynesian though they were, they grudgingly admitted that results are results!

They also acknowledged that "Rosen's bunch" were essentially like "Bernie's people." They are Socialists. A booming economy is meaningless, in their mind, if it not accompanied by universal health care for all, free college tuition, open borders and reduced law enforcement.

Here's what happens!

Open borders and reduced law enforcement will set America on a crime spree like never recorded or imagined. Only then will the public acquiesce! They will happily relinquish their hidden weapons, in exchange for the government's assurance that safety is guaranteed. Or, at least most of the women will!

People often forget that the Soviet Union, while awash with grievances, was relatively crime free. Once we reach that point, it will be too late.

Neo-Cons do recognize this as clearly as anyone. By nature, they are globalists. By culture, they are Keynesian. But, they do appreciate results and recognize threats!

Establishment Democrats fear this "coming to terms" of Trump's Populists with GOP Establishment. A fracture has opened within their party, pitting their establishment against "Bernie's people" and "Jackie's bunch."

There was hope that a bridge might come together with enough Republicans to neutralize the Trump agenda, while quelling the rise of "Socialist Democrats." That looks doubtful.

The question: "Can Democrats tell Americans who are doing better than they were in 2016, that they are actually not doing that well?"

Perhaps the country's most vivid illustration is the Kentucky 6th race. Incumbent, Andy Barr is attempting to stave off a well funded challenge from retired Lieutenant Colonel, Amy McGrath.

Amy McGrath was not initially supported by either Kentucky's Democrat Establishment or the DNC. Her primary opponent, Jim Gray, is the Mayor of Lexington. While beaten soundly by Rand Paul in the 2016 Senate race, he was hands down favorite to face Barr in the Congressional midterm.

McGrath quietly turned to her money sources.

When asked, the money is there; if you are committed to their agenda. Those who watched Bernie Sanders, 2016 campaign got a "whiff" of it. It's about Socialism and none of "Bernie's people" are denying it. Nor are "Jackie's bunch!"

Neither are young, "up and comers" such as NY Congressional candidate, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Tallahassee Mayor, turned Gubernatorial candidate, Andrew Gillum. It is in these quarters where we find Amy McGrath...

Her opposition has worked to "strip the bark off of her." It has uncovered a slick campaign, utilizing Amy's noteworthy military record to "camouflage" an agenda that mirrors that of Sanders. Or, at least, closely mirrors it...

Her stance on health care is literally a duplicate. It amounts to "single payer, health care for everyone." Never mind if they are legally in the country! How to pay for it? You guessed it! Higher taxes. McGrath opposed the 2017 tax cuts. Vehemently.

She was also obsessed with the United States staying in the Paris Climate Accord. In her thinking, "it isn't just about Kentucky." But, WHO is she asking to allow her to represent them?

Amy's position on the 2nd Amendment is literally a carbon copy of Sander's. In her thinking, "the government needs to know where every single weapon is."

Like Bernie, Amy is an outspoken advocate against building the wall. Her positions on border security are surprisingly in sync with Jerry Brown's...

Her money? Ever hear of a California billionaire by the name of Tom Steyer? How about George Soros? Amazingly, these are the same guys who are supporting Jackie Rosen's Senate campaign in Nevada and Andrew Gillum's Governor's run in Florida.

When Amy McGrath appeared on the scene, 6th District Democrat party bosses concluded that she would be too far out of the mainstream to be seriously considered. That's why they supported Gray. While sufficiently Progressive, he isn't in the "Orasio-Cortez/Gillum/Rosen" crowd. Amy is.

6th District isn't exactly a "purple" district. Donald Trump won it by 27% in 2016. In both '08 and '12 Barack Obama was soundly beaten. On paper, it would appear that McGrath would face long odds.

Still, money is key. When candidates are willing to promise anything for funding, they generally find a bottomless reservoir of ready donors.

With those funds they can fill the airwaves with lies and irregularities. It will come down to how people feel today, as compared to this time two years ago.

The President knows this better than anyone. Look for him to place double emphasis on "who" is funding these Democrat candidates and "where the money is coming from."

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Media Bias Must be Addressed

Media fairness has become a "hot button issue!"

It is also an extremely complicated issue. Primarily because much of today's media is "for pay."

In "E" is for English, I proposed a "media fairness board" which would determine if a certain media slant would constitute bias. Later, I pondered over the question, "how would you do this?"

The 1st Amendment is where it begins. Which translates to "no censorship." That's the law; as it should be! No matter what we may think about an opposing opinion, that person or organization rending that opinion has the constitutional right of free speech.

People often forget that much of our media is for pay. CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, One America News, News Max all will cost you a few pennies per month as part of a Cable T.V. package.

Viewers may not like Morning Joe, Chris Mathews or Don Lemon any more than they like Sean Hannity, Heath Ledger or Laura Ingram! But because they paid for the programming, there is no recourse for bias, other than not buying.

Same holds true for Newspapers and Magazines. If there is even the smallest purchase price, access is for compensation.

The rub comes with the "over the air" broadcast vehicles. Namely, the networks. In about 30% of America's homes, there is no cable TV. "Free" stations that can be accessed by simply having a television, are the options.

Why is this relevant?

As an industry, Broadcasting has not been with us for a century. At inception is was a curious new entity that could reach masses instantly, simultaneously. Soon there was a mad scramble for frequencies. By the mid- 1920's, the airwaves were becoming endless static from too many people trying to broadcast.

In 1927 Congress passed The Radio Act, which required licensing of a frequency. The Federal Radio Commission, which initially oversaw the Radio Act, later gave way to the Federal Communications Commission seven years later.

Most of the rest is history. The original act did not allow censorship. Programming could not include "obscene, indecent or profane," language. I recall as a boy watching public service announcements detailing "the Television code."

In the late 1930's New Dealers were successful in implementing "the Fairness Doctrine." This was later abolished because it proved to be a method of censoring paid sponsors that otherwise complied to the "code."

The sixties roared in with the Kennedy-Nixon debate and later with graphic footage of the Viet Nam conflict. America became better informed. In many cases the results were not welcomed.

I recall watching the 1980 Republican primary, only because I was hospitalized while recovering from an automobile accident. Mississippi Baptist Medical Center had only ABC, NBC and CBS. All three networks were covering the convention, non-stop. If you weren't interested, you were simply out of luck!

All of them were there: Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Sam Donaldson and the big names of the time. Subtle was their assessment of Ronald Reagan and what was dubbed, "The Reagan Revolution." The message that I seemed to get from all was that Reagan's ideas, while curious, were neither feasible or practical.

The decade closed with bumper stickers mildly touting a perceived bias toward the left. The bumper sticker most remembered was "Rather Biased."

The 1990's will be remembered as a time when millions of over the air viewers departed the networks in favor of cable news. Fox News immediately set themselves apart as the "only true conservative voice." It attracted millions of news viewers with this positioning statement. Meanwhile, CNN lost it's lead in the Cable News world.

By the middle of the last decade, an astonishing number of Americans had left network news altogether, disgusted with perceived bias.

Today, it a fair statement to say that CBS, ABC and NBC are at best, "left leaning." Dangerous is when 30% of the American population only has access to these sources for their national news.

The original 1927 act stated that the "airwaves belong to the people." That could be interpreted that they can exhibit no political bias. The question becomes "where" you draw the line between "prohibiting bias" and "facilitating censorship?"

There is no easy answer!

I recall the oath that took in joining Sigma Delta Chi(The Society of Professional Journalists). It specified "serving the public in a measured, responsible and unbiased manner."

Today's mainstream media advocates "Globalism." This is an opinion. The MSM positions it as an axiom, essentially the norm in a world growing more interconnected.

Do they have the right to do this? Actually, no! Unless they fairly illustrate the alternative: "Nationalism."

Same holds true for "faith based" versus "Secularism."

The airwaves belong to the people, under original and existing law. All, of the people.

How do you police this? Or, CAN you even police it?

I don't think we can NOT police it.


Nineteen(19) non-partisan media veterans would be appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. They would swear an oath to defend the standard specified by Sigma Delta Chi. It would apply only to the broadcast networks.

Local affiliates would be exempted; unless they owned more than a total of seven television properties, seven a.m. and seven f.m. stations. This condition would greatly anger media giants such as Clear Channel Communication and Sinclair Broadcasting.

First citation, the offender would be given a warning. Second offense, their license would be revoked and sold to the highest bidder. For stockholders, this would amount to nothing short of a "financial holocaust." The stock would be worth only what the real estate was worth. Many would be out of work, with no recourse.

Too excessive?

Hot hardly! These media "elites" are effectively influencing millions to one way of thinking. There is nothing wrong with information. But, it must be made available in a fair and balanced manner.

We cannot place one opinion above another, when the airwaves belong to all of us.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Who Benefits From the Tax Cut. Who Doesn't

A friend from Los Angeles County recently told me that his Malibu Home was assessed at $7,000,000. His property taxes per year were north of $87,000.

"Up until the Trump tax cuts, I could deduct it all. Now, I am limited to $10,000. I am screwed!" He professed.

He was speaking of the historic 2017 legislation that cut corporate taxes from 35% to 21% and average American's about $2100 per year. The $10,000 limit was a cumulative tax exemption that could include property and state income taxes.

A low taxed state, such as Florida, Georgia, Tennessee or Texas benefited. High tax states such as California, Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts didn't.

As President Obama reminded, "elections have consequences."

This will be a big piece of the Republican midterm message going into the homestretch.

Kentucky is a good testing ground. The Commonwealth has a property tax that hovers between eight and twelve mills. Translated, if you live in a $450,000 home in Richmond, you pay nine mills, or $4050 per year. If your family makes $119,000 per year, you will pay $7,021 in state income taxes.

This family deducts $1107 less in state and local taxes than under the old plan. However, a married couple, will see their standard deduction jump from $12,000 to $24,000.

In Miami, a $450,000 house will generally run about $8,000 in property taxes. But, there is no state income tax.

The gentleman in Malibu was making $250,000 per year. His state income tax tab was $27,250 or so. More local taxes, excluding gasoline taxes kicked in another 5k. In all, he was paying almost $120,000 per year in state and local taxes. Previously, this could all be deducted before the paid his federal taxes. Now, it is capped at $10,000.

"All roads lead to Nashville!" This was the Malibu gentleman's assessment!

So goes the high taxed states!

Now, we look at a married couple with two children in Fayetteville, Arkansas. They make a comfortable $140,000 between them. They live in a home in the Northeast end of he county assessed at $395,000. Their total property tax tab is $3400 per year. Their total state income tax is south of $2900. Other taxes including personal property taxes add about $700 to the total.

Clearly, the people in the high tax states took a pounding! The people in the low tax states benefited.

Returning to Kentucky 6th District, where Richmond falls. Most people don't live in $450,000 homes. In fact, most families don't live in $225,000 homes. The average household income is less than half of $119,000 per year.

Kentucky's 6th district has a lot of small, "Mom and Pop" type business'. They are mostly Limited Liability Corporations. Now, corporations are taxed at 21%, instead of 35%.

Interestingly enough, Kentucky 6th Congressional Midterm reflects very different views held by Democrat Amy McGrath and Republican, Andy Barr.

Barr supported the President's tax cuts. As he pointed out, the average person in 6th district greatly benefits. A couple making $119,000 per year, living in a $450,000 house comes out ahead. And they represent the top 5%. Families earning less benefit even more.

McGrath opposed the tax cuts and wants to repeal them. This might appear curious, considering that the cuts benefit nearly all of the district she seeks to represent! But, Amy's financial support comes mostly from the East and West Coast. Without question, repeal would greatly benefit San Francisco and Boston!

Many, if not most in America, are unclear of the consequences in repealing versus making permanent the tax cuts. Boston and San Francisco seek to "hoodwink" sufficient numbers of "deplorables in flyover America" into voting for their implanted "moles."

In Kentucky 6th's case, they bank on Amy's impressive military resume to effectively camouflage her liberal agenda. Her positions on the tax cuts are the litmus test.

Kentucky won with Trump's tax cuts. Big!

California, Massachusetts and other high tax states, lost. Big!

As they say in Richmond, "often it comes down to flushing the snake from the wood pile." Replacing Barr with McGrath would be a classic example of 6th District "shooting itself in the foot."

The tax cuts amount to a wealth transfer, from state to state. The low tax states got tired of making allowances for the high tax states to exempt themselves from proportionate federal income tax contributions.

"Why high tax states should simply cut their taxes," is another topic for a different post. Change comes grudgingly, if at all.

The midterm results will come down to "how many moles," like Amy McGrath, will the coastal elites successfully place in low tax districts. It won't take many.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The Dark Side of America

My friend, Tom(a pseudonym) shared a frustratingly familiar story.

"I get a call from someone from Direct TV. He tells me that I owe $397. When I asked him to explain "what for," he said he could not discuss the account with me. I asked to speak to his supervisor.

"Forty-minutes and four transfers later, I was speaking to someone who explained, in a cultured far east accent, that the bill was for equipment not returned." Tom mused.


"I was ready for them this time!" Tom produced a wrinkled certified mail receipt from his wallet. It was dated April 2010.

"You kept it all this time?" I couldn't help but smile.

"Damn sure did." Tom laughed caustically. "When I bought my house, it came up. They would have made me pay it, had I not produced this piece of paper. They were saying that I didn't return the box. But, this showed proof that I did. Someone had signed for it."

"Smart move." I applauded.

"Yeah, but it stayed on my bureau until a couple of years ago!"

Tom was noting the "84 month rule." Any reporting to the credit bureaus, not bankruptcy related, must be deleted at the end of seven years.

Tom's poignant recount brought back a similar experience. In this case, a 78-year-old man with respiratory issues was admitted to an Eastern Kentucky hospital. When checked in, he told the admittance clerk that he would be turning the claim over to Medicare.

Three days later, he was released. The hospital's charge for the services was $4500. The Medicare pricing schedule reduced them to $3200. The man and his wife had an excellent Medicare supplement policy, which picked up co-pays and deductibles.

One month later, the wife received an invoice from the hospital. It was billing the couple the difference: $1300.

Angrily, the woman called their insurance agent, who had sold them the supplemental policy. She was surprised to hear his response.

"Don't pay it." The agent retorted."You don't owe it. The hospital signed a waiver, conforming to Medicare's pricing schedule."

The woman happily called the hospital, letting them know that she didn't intend to pay it. Three months later, she received another call. It was from Midland Credit.

"Yeah, there was this fellow,' the man chimed in, producing a letter from the San Diego based collection agency. "I couldn't understand him very well. He told us we owed $1300. Plus some other fees. I think it all totaled $1694."

"And then?" I had an idea where this was going.

"Well, I was "peeowed" with our insurance guy!" The woman snapped. "He had told us that we didn't owe anything. And now, this Jerry guy, or whatever, from this Midland company said that we owed $1600 and something, but he'd take $1200 and something. That's a lot of money."

"Jerry from New Delhi, as we called him." The man guffawed.

"Did you say something to your insurance man?" I asked.

"We certainly did!" The man continued. "And he said that Jerry was wrong and he would get to the bottom of it. And.."

"He called the hospital." The woman interrupted. "He said he couldn't get through to anyone. Finally, he sent a certified letter to the doctor who had done the treatment."


"The doctor called in the Head of Accounting." The man remembered. "Come to find out, a nine-dollar-an-hour clerk had taken it upon herself to turn the account over to a collection agency."

"What happened then?" I asked, guessing he answer.

"The Head of Accounting didn't even know of the action." The woman picked up the saga. "She called that clerk in, asked her why she had taken the action and she said, "those people said they weren't going to pay." So, I turned them over for collection."

"From what our insurance guy said, both the Doctor and the Head of Accounting were furious that the clerk had turned the account over to a collection agency without first getting clearance. They fired her." The man concluded.

"Yet, all three bureaus are still reporting a $1694 unpaid balance." I sympathized, having experienced Midland previously. "90% of Midland is automation. 99% of their live help is offshore. Even when they learn something is wrong, they do little to correct it."

"These companies know that a $1694 unpaid debt can ruin your credit." The man nodded ruefully. "They figured we'd just pay regardless."

According to Salt Lake City based, Lexington Law, 79% of Americans have at least one error on their credit bureau. 67% have more than one. In most cases, the reporting is either a cell phone, cable company, utility company, municipality or medical provider. In some instances, the amount allegedly owed is less than $50.

An FHA Underwriter, Nancy(a pseudonym)echoed. "When we see a medical on a collection, we do not require a borrower to pay it. But, it noticeably impacts their score. A 625 score versus a 725 score can result in a person paying 12 or 13% versus five or six percent for a car loan.

"These Fortune 500 companies say they are sensitive to these issues. But, they are crying crocodile tears, laughing all the way to the bank!"

One often wonders "how much extra" are Americans are paying for their money, due to artificially lowered credit scores...

It's true that the three major repositories, Trans Union, Equifax and Experian are huge, mostly automated "ivory towers." Access is limited, if not non-existent. Consumer information is stored in India, the Philippines or South America. Even the best of Financial Services professionals find corrections an undaunting task! For the Average American, it's pretty much, "ROTSA RUCK!"

In spring 2018, I broached Kentucky 6th District Aide, Kevin Wysoki on the subject. Congressman, Andy Barr sits on the House Financial Services Committee. It would appear to be the ideal place to start.

Barr was facing an unexpected Midterm challenge from Bernie Sanders surrogate, Amy McGrath. The timing appeared ideal to make light of this horrendous treatment experienced by two of his older, 6th district constituents.

Wysoki listened attentively to my proposal. I am not well acquainted with the young, New Yorker. But, he mentioned that the issue had come up, unexpectedly from then Minnesota Congressman, later Attorney General Candidate, Keith Ellerson.

I am uncertain if the proposal went anywhere. I never heard back from Wysoki.

The proposal included some key points, that if implemented, would correct what some are now calling, "Americas second greatest national problem," only surpassed by the health insurance question.

A. No, non-bankruptcy reports after five years(Currently it's seven years).
B. Reports not allowed for debts under $100
C. No deficiency settlements reported.
D. $1000 fine per line for any satisfied debt settlement not reported 30 days from rectification.
E. 100% preclusion for any and all "offshore" debt recovery agents.

Article "E" may be a bit confusing. Many debt recovery representatives are not stateside. Same holds true for a lot of employees of Fortune 500 companies, ranging from J.P Morgan Chase to A.T & T.

Many of these employees have impeccable credentials. But they are not vetted with the same rigor as those working stateside, in the same capacity. I work in the Financial Services industry. Every two years, I must be fingerprinted. My prints are subsequently sent to the FBI in Washington, D.C., to check for felonies or misdemeanors involving banking, real estate, insurance or securities fraud.

"Jerry from New Delhi" isn't subjected to this kind of scrutiny. BUT, Jerry is inexpensive; $200-$300 per month! From the C.E.O.'s table, "if Jerry screws up, it'll amount to the consumer paying more for his money."

Didn't Donald Trump say that "the system is rigged against average Americans?"

As Tom acidly praised, "The Fortune 500 companies are compromising both accuracy, and the security of Americans, for a buck!"

This is truly, "the dark side of America."

Concerning my proposal to Congressman Barr's aide? Who knows!

Kentucky's 6th District is a mixture of Conservative Populists, Conservative Evangelicals, Traditional Southern Democrats(AKA "blue dogs"), state government workers(Frankfort is in 6th district) and a tiny contingent of mostly transient "Alt lefters," including Amy McGrath, Barr's midterm challenger.

That McGrath lost the midterm by only three points is cause for concern! It reflects a restive constituency.

Like Tom, people are fed up with excuses!