Sunday, March 02, 2014

America's Bright Future

Comments on:  America’s Bright Future, an article by Victor Davis Hanson.

Full disclosure:  I am not an academician or scholar with the credentials of Dr. Hanson, but I have done extensive reading on the matter about which I will comment.  If interested in further insight on the point of view addressed in the following narration, I recommend writings of Herbert Striner PhD, former Dean of the Kogod School of business American University.  In particular, I recommend his book;  Regaining the Lead: Policies for Economic Growth. (1987)  Dr. Striner is a personal friend dating back of many years.  He was a regular speaker/presenter at executive training programs I facilitated for IBM during the 1980s. I was invited to make comments on the draft of his book.

I cannot fully support the optimistic views expressed in Dr. Hanson’s paper since they do not consider, or least do not state the significant influence on scio-economic development by factors dealt with in Dr. Striner’s books, lectures and “white papers”, factors with which I fully agree are extremely important.   These factors, explained in great detail by Dr. Striner include the impact on American wellbeing by the culture (religion, wealth, education, childhood ethical inculcation, etc.) the experience of those involved, and the political environment extant when Dr. Hanson’s posits come into play.

Dr. Hanson’s belief that, notwithstanding the talk of gloom and doom--the decline of America—this country is the leader in almost any category one might place us.  America is politically stable, produces enough foodstuffs to satisfy much of the world including our own, our military keeps our enemies at bay and could readily become energy independent with a minimal political shift in policy.  But, with shifts in attitudes and the reemergence of many of our prejudices and fears, all of the foregoing could become almost meaningless.  Evidence already exists to that effect.  We produce more coal, oil and natural gas to supply all our needs, but because of the fear of many that we are polluting our atmosphere, we do not take full advantage of these resources.  Instead, we spend a great deal of our time and money trying to comply with “green” rules from the Environmental Protection Agency and from pressures generated by countless well-meaning, but economically illiterate organizations.  Our attitudinal shift from basic Christian principles on which America was founded (per the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution) to that of previously intolerance of those bent on our downfall.  Finally, our changing views on the role of government in the area of universal welfare has led us to monumental debt, uncountable governmental rules and regulations,  depletion of our military strength, conscious relinquishment of our leadership roles in the international arena and our failure to maintain the high educational standards of earlier generations.  We tolerate the dissolution of the family values that accept children born out of wedlock, all-time high divorce rates, abandonment of family discipline that bleeds over into the school system and indeed into adherence to our laws.

Having all the natural resources we need, being the most economically sound of any country in the world, leader in science, industry and medicine and militarily powerful enough to deter almost all aggression may be of diminishing value with the lack of the will of our citizens to maintain moral, ethical standards and a willingness to make economic tradeoffs to ensure our prominence in those fields where we presently are leaders.

There’s a generally accepted adage based on psychology that says:  Whenever logic and emotion confront, emotion always wins.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Thoughts on Islam

My Thoughts on Islam

On June 6, 1968, Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed. Four years later in 1972, the Israeli Olympic team members were kidnapped and massacred at the Summer Games in Munich by members of the Black September group. That same year on September 5, Pan Am 747 flight 73 was hijacked and diverted to an Arab country where it was blown up killing 80 passengers. The next year, on May 27, a Pan Am 707 was destroyed in Rome with 33 people on board killed.

The US embassy in Iran was taken over by mobs of young Arabs in 1979; 52 Americans were held captive for months. 

On October 23, 1983, one of the darkest days of our military,  the U. S. Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up killing 241 American servicemen.

Two years later on October the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70 year old wheel-bound American passenger was murdered and dumped overboard.  In June 1985, TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens, and a US Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered. Then, in 1988 Pan Am Flight 103 was exploded killing all 259 on board and 11 on the ground.

On February 26, 1993, the World Trade Center was bombed the first time; five years later, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were attacked and destroyed killing 258 people including eight Americans.

One of our most devastating tragedies occurred on 9/11/01. Four airliners were hijacked; two were used as missiles to take down the World Trade Centers, and of the remaining two, one crashed into the US Pentagon, and the other,  reputedly destined for the U. S. Capitol,  was diverted by the actions of heroic passengers and crashed in a vacant  Pennsylvania field.. Thousands of Americans died during this horrific episode..

The following year, CNN reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped held captive for months and despite pleas from many fronts, was finally publically beheaded.

On September 11, 2012, the US Consulate in Benghazi was overrun. Four Americans, including our ambassador Christopher Stevens, were murdered.

And just this year, two brothers exploded bombs during  the Boston Marathon injuring scores of bystanders, killing eight-year-old schoolboy Martin Richard and Lingzi Lu, a Chinese graduate student studying at Boston University.

All of these incidents were perpetrated by young radical men professing authoritative permissiveness under the rules of jihad as documented in dogma of the Muslim faith. Where in the name of Allah has the outcry from Muslim leaders and other moderate followers of the Islamic faith been? Do they not think these heinous acts are important? Are they afraid of retaliatory fatwa from the radical element in Islam? Perhaps they should take a cue from the African American community. When any act deemed to be racially motivated reaches the public eye, black, and other leaders forcefully speak out on television, radio, newsprint and in hundreds of churches across the land with predominantly black congregants, often demanding and spurring legal action. Where is the hue and cry from moderate Muslims?

Monday, February 06, 2012

Old Yellow Hand

“Old Yellow Hand” a novel by Earnest Mercer
Available:,, or from the author at
A withered old hand still with the stringy remnants of its former attachment, drops from a branch and latches onto a hiker’s scalp. Unable to free himself, he tires after the struggle, whereupon the hand wraps its gnarled fingers around his throat and chokes the life from him. This is but one of many victims of the withered old yellow hand. Many years before, the erstwhile owner of the hand, Baron Goran Goranovich, the despotic ruler of a baronage in Transylvania, is assassinated by an uprising of his oppressed vassals. To prove the baron is dead, they sever his hand, but later fearing a curse store it in an urn of preserving fluid. Two hundred years later, the urn is included in a shipment to a funeral home in the village of Gore, Virginia. When it is accidentally freed by an embalmer, the hand sets off on a trail of grisly murders throughout Virginia before miraculously finding its way back to its home in Goranovichy. A young Transylvanian Romani couple bent upon ridding the world of this monstrosity trace it back to the castle from which it came. They corner the hand in one of the fetid halls of the dilapidated castle, but find their quarry gives them more than they bargained for.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Much has been written about the posting addressed below. Earlier books included: "Games People Play" Eric Bernes, "I'm OK, You're OK" by Harris, et al. My personal experiences with the subject material prompted me to write this posting when I sat through a presentation by someone who treated the topic as a new and revolutionary discovery. The related thouht to be considered when you read the narrative below is that communicatio between "right-brain" dominated and "left-brain" dominated is a struggle and special consideration is necessary or succinct communication will not occur.

After facilitating and teaching management/executive training programs for many years during which it was always stressed that leadership skills (right-brain dominated) and management skills (left-brain dominated) are not the same. Some fortunate individuals possess a balance of the two, but most usually excel in one over the other. The spark of leadership is difficult to instill if not already present, but the skills of implementation can be taught. Management skills are the result of training and experience and can be more easily taught. One example we used to illustrate leadership versus management was Adolph Hitler. There is no doubt of his leadership (albeit misguided) as he "led" the populace of Germany to become the belligerent nation we saw in WWII. Had Hitler possessed equal management skills,(or had not tried to manage the war himself and left that task to others with better management skills) quite possibly much of the world would be speaking German.
Many of our presidents (and military officers) are/were dominant one skill or the other. Ronald Reagan is depicted by many to be the epitome of leadership, but weaker in management abilities. Others use Jimmy Carter as an example of a good manager, (smart, meticulous, member of Mensa, etc.) but lacking in leadership traits. Some political pundits tend to contrast the two present day Republican frontrunners in this light.

The identification of prime examples of either leaders or managers is not a precise science, but business executives have long paid a great deal of money toward evaluating and developing both disciplines, not necessarily at the same time or the same place.

Another tough question we tackled in the afore mentioned seminars was the difference (if any) between morals and ethics.(Just for fun consider that morals are learned as a child, usually from parents and remain essentially the same over our lifetime, while ethics are inculcated when we are adults and are subject to "situational" changes over time.) I've written papers on this murky subject. Interesting topic, but difficult to obtain concensus.

Earnest Mercer
Author: "Skivvy Girl: The Love of a Post WWII Japanese Pleasure Girl"

Noblesse Oblige

I remember going to the SS office to initiate my social security payments.
The pompous (ignorant) clerk stated that I would use up all the money I'd
paid in between five and ten years. Why she told me this, I don't know,
probably it was on her teleprompter menu. I told her what she said was
nonsense, but saw no need to argue with a nitwit. The calculations below
are not mine, but they check out mathematically (if certain variables are
accepted) and this was why I told the clerk what she was spewing was
nonsense. Furthermore, those LWL's(a.k.a. Left Wing Loons) who rail against
changing SS rules to allow the option for partial investment in markets do
so under the NOBLESSE OBLIGE concept that individuals are not capable of
making their own decisions, but must have the omniscient nobles or
government bureaucrats to do so for them.

"Remember, not only did you contribute to Social Security but your employer
did too. It totaled 15% of your income before taxes. If you averaged only
$30K over your working life, that's close to $220,500. If you calculate the
future value of $4,500 per year (yours & your employer's contribution) at a
simple 5% (less than what the govt . pays on the money that it borrows),
after 49 years of working you'd have $892,919.98. If you took out only 3%
per year, you'd receive $26,787.60 per year and it would last better than 30
years (until you're 95 if you retire at age 65) and that's with no interest
paid on that final amount on deposit! If you bought an annuity and it paid
4% per year, you'd have a lifetime income of $2,976.40 per month.

Author of "Skivvy Girl: The Love of a Post WWII Japanese Pleasure Girl"

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

How to Shine in the Job Interview

How to Shine in the Job Interview
By Earnest Mercer
The author earned a Bachelor of Professional Studies and a Master of Business Administration from Pace University of New York. His career spanned 30 years with IBM Corporation with assignments in several U. S. locations as well as Japan, Hong Kong and South Africa. After retiring, he worked as a human resources consultant to U. S. companies in South Africa, Hong Kong, China, Korea and the Czech Republic. After serving in various community and civic organizations, he took a position as an adjunct instructor with Webber International University in the Graduate School of Business. He was conferred an honorary Doctor of Business Administration for his innovative work there. He has written numerous essays, white papers and training modules, and has collaborated on books related to personal training and development. He has conducted hundreds of interviews with job applicants for many different companies in many parts of the world.

The following interviewing tips have been accumulated from years of experience.

I. First Impressions
First and often lasting impressions are formed during the first few minutes of an interview. Studies have indicated that within a mere ten seconds interviewers begin to make judgments about the interviewee’s professionalism, social status, intelligence, and even morals. (Yes, I know that it isn’t supposed to be this way, but it is.)
II. Focus
Interviewers tend to focus on what they see (dress, eye contact, body language) on what they hear (grammar, syntax, tone of voice) than on actual content of the interviewee's delivery, at least at first.
III. Assessments
Interviewers tend to believe that those who care about themselves (as demonstrated by their personal presentation} are more likely to care about the performance on the job. Make those crucial four minutes count: Look your best. Clothing consciousness is seen to indicate one’s self esteem and one’s level of professionalism. Avoid faddish style of dress, extreme hair styles, non-standard faddish speech. (Don't try to make a "statement" of your personal views) Your personal presentation must convey the message that you are competent, reliable and authoritative, not a person easily swayed by passing temporary fashions. It is wise to obtain a copy of a company’s annual report and pay attention to how the employees featured in the document present themselves. It is a good idea to dress for the job you want. Remember, nothing succeeds like the appearance of success.
IV. Work on your body language.
Numerous studies indicate that about seven percent of any message about our feelings and attitudes comes from words we use, 38 percent from our voice and a startling 55 percent from our body language. Don't let your body language emphasize what you think is important as it may be insignificant to the interviewer. It is a well-known fact among interviewers that when body language conflicts with oral communication, trust the body language. Practice tempering your tone of voice, facial expressions, posture, eye contact and gestures. You must not seem too desperate for the job, or too eager to please. Eye contact is important, but don’t stare and don’t make it an issue rather than a supportive factor.
V. Speak in a positive vein.
Avoid negatives of all kinds unless it is absolutely necessary to the point you are trying to make. Generally, people do not like to hear negatives and the frequent use of non-affirmative language may be interpreted as pessimistic and arrogant. Say what you mean and make sure that both your choice of words and body language project a positive attitude. If you have been fired from your last job, don’t try to place the blame on someone else or factors you couldn’t control. While your termination may have come about because of circumstances you couldn’t alter, it does little good to dwell on these causes. Simply state the facts and move on to your next point.
VI. Social Skills.
Interviewers look for people who are comfortable in different social settings—people who are likely to “fit in” the social environment of the company. An important aspect of exercising one’s social skills is stay abreast of current events; read at least one daily newspaper, a weekly magazine so you can hold your own in topics of the day. But, don’t set yourself up as an expert based on limited knowledge or other false analogies. (Just because you are Japanese, doesn’t make you an expert on Japan or its culture and business.) It is advisable to read the sports page even if you are not a sports enthusiast as (at least in the U. S.) the brief discussion of sports current events is frequently used as an icebreaker. If you are from a different culture than that of your interviewer, you must make a special effort to avoid cultural traits that may be commonplace in your culture, but unpleasant or even insulting in a different environment.

Make the application of the above rules of interviewing an affectation. Practice until they become natural.

Assume that what you think is important is important to the interviewer.

Blame others.

Attempt to become “friends” with the interviewer, be friendly, but stick to
the business at hand.

Appear to be desperate or overly eager. Focus on the mutual advantage to
the company and yourself if employed.

Leave your fads, extreme apparel, and personal accouterments at home. Be on time and dress professionally.

Make sure that your words and body language agree. Practice in front of a mirror. (Good public speakers practice thusly for hours and hours.)

Remember that first impressions are formed in the first three or four minutes and are hard to change.

Start with a firm handshake (don't try to show how strong you are) establish eye contact(don't stare) and project friendliness, but avoid over familiarity.

Use the interviewer’s last name during the interview preceded with the appropriate honorific, Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Dr., until asked to do otherwise.

Ask questions about the job and the company, but stay away from questions on personal issues (yours or the interviewer's). Avoid rhetorical questions meant to impress the interviewer.

Final Note:
During my interviews with dozens of applicants, I looked for a "real" person, free from artifices and pretense; one who focused on their achievements that relate to the position for which they are applying.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

National Budget

I doubt if many will argue that the only way to handle the excessive spending and massive debt facing the U. S. is to establish a finite budget that is stringent enough to achieve the goal. Now, if this is done the next task is to decide how the finite "pie" is to be divided. How much will we spend on defense, public welfare, education infrastructure, environmental pursuits, developing alternative energy etc.

Each time there are demands by those seeking to either maintain or increase their allotment, they must also advocate which other segment of the pie should be reduced in order to accommodate their demands. So when teachers, for example, bemoan the slashing of education funds, they should then advocate the reduction of, say, environmental protection, military spending, endowment of the arts or some other piece of the pie. Likewise, for those who are adamantly opposed to funding the growing piece of the pie, e.g., Medicad, must be willing to take cuts in other areas.

The other alternative to robbing Peter to pay Paul is, of course, to raise taxes to produce more revenue or make the pie larger. But I think all will agree that this approach has serious limitations. Taxing the rich at a much greater rate than the middle and lower income people is not a viable alternative. There are simply not enough rich people to offset the exponentially increasing spending. And since almost one half of our citizens in the lower tax brackets pay no taxes, those in the middle income bracket will necessarily be taxed at a greater rate. Bear in mind, that the top two percent of the rich already generate 75 - 80 percent of tax revenue; there is a limit to the positive effect to the reduction of the debt. Remember, the basic premise of socialism/communism is to take from the rich and spread the wealth among all the people. (Including the 47% of the population that pay no taxes now?)

Therefore, it seems clear to me that the only real way of attacking the problem of ever escalating national debt is through establishing finite limits to the size of the pie. Now go back to the first paragraph.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Skivvy Girl: The Love of a Post WWII Japanese Pleasure Girl

I have just published my latest book, Skivvy Girl, on Creative Space and Kindle. I'm working on providing access via other ebook platforms. I will be posting comments on my email:, my WEB site:, Facebook, and Twitter.

Skivvy Girl is a poignant story of a Matsuyama Yoshiko, a seventeen-year-old that turns to prostitution for sustenance after be left destitute by the death of her father on Iwo Jima. She undergoes an initiation that will bring tears to your eyes, but survives to eventually meet a kindly young American sailor with whom she forms a relationship that lasts for the duration of the sailor's assignment in Japan. They face incredible odds for a lasting romance, enduring language problems, cultural differences, military regulations, and natural calamities. In the end, their karma cannot protect them from the ultimate disaster.

Readers can purchase the book from Creative Space, Amazon, Kindle, and directly from me via email or telephone (863-967-2077). Ordering directly from me will save postal expense and tax.