HEARTS, HOOKS, AND HENRY THE 8TH …

At 8:30 PM my father was being rushed to the hospital with a heart attack. By 11:30 PM he was opening his eyes in the recovery room, feeling semi-normal. The fresh stent they put in his one blocked artery got his blood flowing correctly again. And as of this afternoon, he is home and living without any restrictions.

This, my friends, is a modern, medical miracle.

40 years ago my grandfather had a similar, although admittedly more profound, problem. Still, it required weeks of drama and a multi-hour surgery that included ripping open his chest, cracking open his his ribs, taking arteries from his leg and and moving them to his heart, and days and days of waiting and hoping and praying he would recover.

I know we like to trash the healthcare system here in America. But whatever system has allowed us to go from major open heart surgery to a simple, two-hour procedure, followed by joking and laughing in the recovery room and a discharge from the hospital in less than 48 hours – in less than a generation – is doing something right. And I, for one, am excited to see where it goes from here.

Our problem isn’t the CARE part. The CARE is getting borderline Star-Trek worthy. It’s the “how do we pay for this?” part.

If you don’t like the current financial structure of our healthcare system, remember one thing: it was given to you by the government. It even bears the name of one of our most popular presidents.

Personally, I haven’t been able to afford healthcare for about two years. Fortunately, my children are covered under a state, S-CHIP  program. Because they are both high risk patients. But they weren’t always covered and who knows how long they will be.

What I can tell you is that they have been on half dozen other different plans, depending on which way the governmental winds have blown. And as it stands now, this is their best option. For my wife and me, the best option is actually to not get insurance at all and pay the fine.

“Why,” you may ask, “would a hotshot songwriter, who has written over 20 number one songs, broken chart records and earned millions of dollars not be able to afford health insurance?”

The answer? As it turns out, that same government that messes with and tinkers around with healthcare, COMPLETELY CONTROLS my profession. The songwriting trade is the ONLY trade in American history that has always been completely regulated and controlled by congress and the courts. And so, me and my songwriter brothers and sisters are losing income, losing houses, losing our life savings and losing our minds, because technology has blown past the government’s ability to keep up.

What I do now – what I have spent my life honing and shaping and perfecting and sharpening …is now worth nothing. That is not an overstatement.

I recently sold my entire catalog (a catalog is ALL the songs I own that I have written) to my current publisher. And I sold something that at one point might’ve been worth millions …for thousands. All the while, I keep getting told over and over again how lucky I am to even be getting paid ANYTHING to do this and how little I’m worth on the open market. Why am I worth so little? Is it because I suck? Maybe …but Billboard, R&R, the radio and nearly every critic of note say no. It’s because the value of what I make has been driven so low, that no one can figure out how they would ever get their money back for investing in such a thing. And why is that? Because the government “fixed” everything for songwriters 108 years ago. Yay! So while everyone else is participating in the biggest music boom of all time, the ONE small area of the music business not doing so is the ONE completely run by the government. Coincidence?

And so, now I can’t afford the healthcare THEY fixed, because THEY fixed my profession. If I could tell the government one thing it would be this: PLEASE STOP FIXING THINGS.

If you think you want the government to run healthcare, take it from someone in the only profession completely at their mercy  …no you don’t.

The best thing the government could do is write an ACA repeal bill that says:

1. All that stuff in the ACA is now null and void.

2. You can now sell health insurance anywhere in the country. Hell, anywhere in the world, for all we care.

3. If you put high risk people on your rolls, we’ll give you a dollor-for-dollar tax write-off.

4. If you don’t follow through on paying what your contract says your supposed to pay, it will be a ten million dollar fine and minimum 20 years in federal prison for everyone working in your office.

Bye …we’re now out of the healthcare business!

The best thing they could do for songwriters is write a bill that says:

1. This bill nullifies all other copyright law preceding it.

2. Content creators own their work outright and have full and free rights to negotiate rates on any and all media formats.

3. We will enforce whatever agreements are entered into by all parties, provided ALL parties have been allowed to sit at the negotiation table.

Bye …we’re now out of the songwriting business!

Look, I’ve met with these congressional leaders and they are actually good people on BOTH sides of the aisle. They sleep in their offices and they work 18 hours a day, and we force them to become experts on everything from tractors to scalpels. They are overwhelmed and overworked. Because we the people keep asking them to fix our lives. Somehow, in the grand experiment of self determination and free will, some of us still need a king to tell us what to do and how to act. But there are some things – hell, A LOT of things – the government just isn’t good at. Me and every other songwriter alive are living proof.

Our particular government wasn’t designed for micro managing. It was designed for broad strokes; guaranteeing liberty, personal rights and a fair shot for everyone. Getting it involved in managing mammagrams, strep tests and heart procedures is a really, really bad idea. Take it from someone who has to live with them involved in royalty rates and copyright procedures.

Henry the eighth had gout. He put sugar in his wine and ate exotic meats to try and get rid of it. 500 years later, we know that THAT was probably causing his gout in the first place. It’s like going to the doctor for lung cancer and them telling you you’re just smoking the wrong brand of cigarettes. Maybe the cure is actually killing you.

One day people might begin to realize that the reason the government hasn’t been able to fix their particular problem is because, well, maybe …just maybe …the government caused it in the first place. Even if they had the best of intentions.

Take it from a songwriter. We know first hand.

R

AN EARLY FROST …

It started with a girls night. My wife had some of her girlfriends over to watch the movie, La La Land. I was commandeered to make popcorn. At the risk of sounding immodest, I might make the best popcorn you’ve ever tasted …but I digress.

When the girls are in the TV room, watching chick flicks, I try to stay out of the way and make myself scarce. The last thing I need is to be pulled into some debate over whether Scarlet Johansen has had work done or (worse, yet) to be asked for a “male perspective” on something. I know better than to fall prey to these potential mine fields of five women against one man. No, I’m a pro. I’ve been doing this a long time. So, I made the corn and stayed quiet.

But as I was salting and buttering, I sort of got interested in this lilting jazz-infused story of two star-crossed lovers, both pursuing impossible dreams. And, although I know it’s a rookie mistake, I ended up sitting with the ladies and finishing the movie. And, as it turns out …I loved it.

The story ended on a bittersweet note. But it was a poetic glance at what happens to dreamers along the way. It was also an encouragement to do it anyway, regardless of the ending.

Anyone following their heart and sailing uncharted waters will never be able to foresee what the future holds. That’s a lot of the appeal of it. And as someone who has taken hold of the rigging, cast my lots with pirates and poets, and is now old enough to see where some of that horizon leads, I can attest that it is NEVER what you think it’s going to be. Sometimes It’s better …sometimes it’s worse. But it won’t be anything predicted by actuary tables, interest rate calculators or census bureaus.

The end of the road less travelled is a thick jungle of strange, exhausted dreams, pots of gold found and lost, hearts torn apart and repaired and torn again, the ghosts of lovers and liars, laughing at the table of the grand, movable feast, where food and wine are plenty …but the soul remains hungry.

The ending is not guaranteed to be a happy one. But then again, following a dream isn’t about the ending. It’s about the following.

That night I dreamed about artists I used to know and friends I used to work with. And I woke up, as I do most mornings now, wondering about my next chapter. I’m 50, and I know I don’t have as many years in front of me as I do behind me.

But the thing I continually come back to – over and over again – is the idea of authenticity. Now that I’m old enough to have watched friends around me die, I can often see them making sense of who they were and why they were here. For some of them, the greatest gift they received in their lives was a death sentence. Because it focussed them toward something meaningful that they might’ve missed for another 20 years without it.

And as I look back on my own journey, I find the only regrets I have are the times I tried to become what someone else wanted me to become …instead of my truest self.

Individuality is the art of having ones own style and affectation. Being a “character” or a “one-of-a-kind” is what individuality is all about. But individualism is something much deeper. It is the belief that EVERY person ever born carries their own message; their own light; their own vision. And they are important to the world. Becoming an individualist will change the way you see the world. It will change the way you approach God and politics and business and, most importantly …art.

As the father of someone with a severe disability, I have to wake up every morning and make a conscious choice that ALL life is important and precious. And it drives me to make mine count.

My grandmother used to tell me that if God gives you an idea, he also gives you the responsibility for it. It’s yours. And if you don’t pursue it, you’re letting the world down. Because YOU are important. We need you here. You don’t get to hide anonymously in the crowd. It doesn’t work that way. You’ve got to kick in and bring your A game. YOU might have the cure for something. YOU might be holding the next great technological development. The key to the entire progression, in the next step of the human advancement …might rely on YOU.

We live in a world of selfies and snark and social media rants. But that’s not the same as individualism. Those are cries, “SEE me. LISTEN to me. APPROVE of me.” But once you fully embrace your own individualism, and know that you are important, you start to contribute instead of distract. You embrace your flaws instead of trying to hide them. You talk and listen instead of commenting and bolting.

And you follow dreams with more passion than ever. Because you know they are more than just dreams you’re following to tell YOUR story …they are responsibilities that are crucial to OUR story. In an ironic twist, being an individual actually helps the collective.

And even though the ending will not be what you want it to be, following that voice you know you’re supposed to follow …even if it leads down the dark road less travelled …will not only make all the difference for you, it will make all the difference for ALL of us.

R

THE TAO OF TIMING …

As I type this, Esperanza Spalding is in the middle of writing, performing and producing a 10-song record in just 72 hours! Wow! That’s only three days. Who in the world could ever do that?!?!

Well, as it turns out …I could. In fact, I did. Me and my long time friend Scott Krippayne did this VERY thing four years ago. Well …we didn’t QUITE do this very thing. We didn’t do it in 72 hours. Actually …we did it in 24. Actually, 23 hours and 24 minutes …but who’s counting?

We walked into Studio A (Ben Folds’ place), on Music Row, at 7:15 in the morning. And when we left at 6:53 the following morning, we had written and recorded 10 songs from scratch. That record was called The 24 Hour Conspiracy. And it’s something I’m really proud of. So why didn’t WE get the press coverage and all the attention? I mean, we were the only two American Idol songwriting winners. We are both Grammy and Dove recipients. We’ve had 30 number one songs between us. It seems like our little idea should’ve gotten a lot of play. Right?

It seems like we should’ve been on the cover of Rolling Stone and Billboard and Songwriter magazine. Heck, at least we should’ve been in the local, Nashville paper. The problem we had was a remarkably simple one: timing.

I’ve been on the receiving end of special, other worldly moments. I’ve seen “the planets line up” as they say. And the one thing I can tell you about that phenomenon is that when ALL the components are working correctly and in alignment, things are almost too easy. Everything you think SHOULD happen …does. In fact, things you never dreamed could happen …do. It’s almost as if every movement of your being is directed by some higher intelligence that will not let you fail or fall. And nothing you do can stop it.

I’ve seen this happen with hit songs and with viral blogs and videos. When something is resonating …it just is. And you know that you and the rest of humanity are on the same wave length. And that universal vibration cannot be interrupted. It’s like a wave. And you just have to ride it until it crashes.

Conversely, when those components are NOT lined up, there is almost nothing you can do to force them into line. Trust me. I’ve tried. You can have all the right people surrounding an endeavor. You can have all the power on earth directed toward your goal. But if the resonation isn’t tuned in to just the right frequency, the mark will be missed. And even if you miss it by an inch, it’s off. I’ve always said, if you miss it by an inch, you miss it by a mile.

To my detriment, I don’t know all the mechanics of what creates that resonating wave we’re all looking to catch. I never know if a song is going to be a hit or if a blog is going to go viral …or if a 24-hour record project is going to catch fire. I’m just a fisherman, or a miner, or a gambler. I work at creating. The art of selling those creations is one I’ve never mastered. But I can feel it when something is off; the wrong combination of people involved; the wrong message at the wrong time; the energy surrounding it. I can also feel it when it’s right.

I watched Hillary Clinton talk about her new book, What Happened, over the weekend. And in a weird way, my heart kinda went out to her. I’m not a fan of Hillary Clinton. But as someone who has seen big dreams get shattered and watched what I thought were supposed to be MY moments get stolen by other people, I can sympathize with her on some level. And watching her twist and turn and contort and try to make sense of something she still doesn’t understand is difficult to watch. I’ve been there. But if you really saw it for what it was, you understood that the wave, the timing, the temperature and THE TECHNOLOGY was on her opponent’s side. And there wasn’t going to be anything stopping it.

I’m mildly interested in Esperanza’s record. I know what it takes to pull something like that off and it’s tough. And I wonder what the response will be. One little thing she has going for her is Face Book live. That wasn’t around when Scott and I were doing our 24-hour record. And if it had, that ONE THING might’ve been the difference maker. Again …timing is everything. And sometimes, being slightly ahead of your time just leaves you standing in a future nobody quite understands yet …alone.

When it comes to politics, music, entertainment, technology, art or even LOVE, you can’t force something to work. It either does or it doesn’t. You’re either hitting it off with that person, or you’re not. Sparks are flying …or they’re not. That song is lighting you up …or it’s not. That idea is getting legs and wings and rocket fuel …or it’s not. You’re either connecting and resonating …or you’re not.

It doesn’t mean you quit when things get hard. But it does mean you have to keep your spiritual and intuitive side as in tune with what you’re doing as your logical and practical side.

And if you’re in enough places at enough times, one of them will be the right place at the right time. And your melody will ring true …your idea will resonate …your message will inspire …your work will pay off …your eyes will lock with hers or his …and you’ll know you’re in the zone.

And when that happens, nothing on earth will be able to stop you. You will be able to accomplish almost anything in 72 hours …or maybe 24.

R

TOOTHPASTE …

16 years ago, I woke up to a bunch of phone messages regarding planes and towers. Suddenly, the world stopped. Planes had crashed into the World Trade Center twin towers, in New York City and Washington DC. We were all dumbfounded. Nothing like this had ever happened in our lifetimes. There was blood and carnage and people jumping out of burning buildings.

For the days and weeks and months and years that followed that horrible event, America and the western world grappled with what we were, what we are, what we should do, what we should not do, who we want to be and who we don’t want to be. .

But as years went by, life went on. And our lives went back (remarkably) to what they had been prior to 9/11. We worked. We loved. We got drunk. We got sober. We got married. We got divorced. We had tragedies. We had triumphs. We got healthy. We fell off the wagon. We went to rehab. We lost weight. We gained weight. We changed our hair. We found ourselves. We read. We learned. We voted. We danced. We had sex. We had kids. We had enough. We came back. We moved on. We pulled through. We remembered. We forgot. We put it all behind us.

In short …we LIVED. And whoever the masterminds were behind 9/11, didn’t stop ANY of that. They just created an event we all remember. Well …at least the older folks remember. It’s kinda like a hit song from a decade ago. We SORT OF remember it. But we can’t quite sing all the words.

This weekend, I was in New Jersey, walking down Monmouth Beach with my wife, gazing out at Manhattan across the bay. It’s still bustling and bright all these years later. Nobody lives in terror. Nobody hides in fear after sunset. It’s pretty much exactly what it was on September 10th, 2001. In fact, it might be a little louder.

I played a show later, in a multi-million dollar mansion, right on the water, overlooking the bay. At 9 pm, fireworks went off on the far side of the water …just because. Before the show, I had beers with several born and raised yankees who want to hoist confederate flags on their porches. Why? Just to piss off and freak out their neighbors and get a laugh out of it. Nothing more. This is what guys talk about after enough beer.

The next morning, after singing and playing and partying all night with men AND women – both equal in the eyes of the law – I packed my suitcase to fly home. And there was a momentary lapse, wondering which bag I should pack my toothpaste in. My wife and I had the obligatory TSA discussion and threw the pouch with the toothpaste in it, into the check bag. And that got me thinking …

Whatever grand scheme was in play to bring America and the west to its knees; whatever high-minded and soaring rhetoric was used to convince people to strap on C-4 or pilot suicide planes; whatever passionate vision of faith called for martyrs and soldiers to eradicate the Infidel and strike fear in the hearts of those who knew nothing of the coming revolution …whatever that was …turned out to be kind of a yawn and an afterthought.

The only legacy you left was TSA and a hassle at the airport. All of your grand schemes yielded nothing but a wrinkled, sleepy songwriter having to put his toothpaste in one bag instead of the other one. You failed …miserably. You’re a joke and a punch line. Not only did you NOT change the world, you only made it more inconvenient. Instead of being the hand of God, smiting and setting right, you’re the annoying crossing guard with the pocket protector, making me surrender those nail clippers I forgot were in my bag. You’re the class tattle-tail, who makes me take off my slip-on shoes near the X-ray machine. You’re a joke. Not a problem. You’re an inconvenience …not a life changer.

Whatever you dip wads were trying to accomplish, didn’t work. All it did was make us have to leave for the airport an hour earlier. And instead of catching up on work from an uber hip office, we catch up in an uncomfortable chair at the airport, waiting on our boarding group to be called.

Congratulations, assholes. You succeeded in adding more beuaracracy to our lives. That’s it. We don’t really fear you. We still don’t really know what you’re trying to achieve. In fact, you’re all still a punch line to us. Except, instead of an endearing one, you’re a punch line that has forced grown men to wear flip flops on airplanes. Thanks a lot. Because of you, I’ve seen more male feet than I ever wanted to. That’s what your stupid revolution has been reduced to …man toes. I hope you’re happy.

So, for all of you dill weeds out there who think you’re about to curb freedom and suppress art and expression and conquer the human will to be itself …think again. You’re on the wrong side. We aren’t giving up that easily. And we outnumber you. We will out-sing you and out-dance you and out-learn you and out-work you and out-drink you and out-think you and out-love you and out-live you.

We will win this. In fact …we already have. The Kardashians still have a show. Jimmy Fallon is still on the air. Football just cranked back up. My son just bought another fidget spinner. Americans are still helping each other bounce back from hurricanes and floods. Donald Trump is the president, for God’s sake. You didn’t just lose …you got completely humiliated. Go home. Pack it in. You suck. You always sucked. You always will suck.

All you did was mess with my toothpaste situation. And toothpaste is still so cheap, I can leave it in my hotel room and buy some more when I get home. I mean …you didn’t even make toothpaste expensive!

As my plane was soaring above the Statue of Liberty, I tried to remember if I’d packed it. But I couldn’t. Because it is SO inconsequential.

So I drifted off to sleep instead. Because I’ll have a new tube of toothpaste tomorrow if I need it.

And, other than forcing me to take off my hat and shoes for a bout six minutes, at the security line,  you have not slowed me down at all.

Did I mention, you suck?

Sincerely,

R

ROOTS, RACISM, AND REAL ESATE …

There’s a dead end in my family tree.

At around fourteen, I learned that as a newborn, my great-grandfather had been left on a tree stump, outside the cabin of an immigrant German family named Hammenbach (or something like that. It was later shortened to just “Hamm”). They took him in and raised him as their own.

So I don’t know anything about my ancestry or lineage any farther back than a baby on a tree stump, in the late 1800’s. And that’s actually fine by me. I’m an individualist. I don’t feel bound by bloodlines and begats. I believe individualism is a uniquely American trait. And I believe it’s the only thing that truly sets us free. But in America, it’s complicated …

The core seed of Communism isn’t rooted in the belief that the collective can achieve what the individual cannot. That’s just how it’s sold. The core seed of Communism is the belief that the ownership of property is inherently based in a crime. Because for someone to OWN property, someone else had to first steal it or conquer it or kill the original inhabitants of it.

This is the spine of modern progressivism (whether well-meaning progressives know it consciously or not). There was a whiff of it in the ethos of the Barack Obama presidency. Black Lives Matter, Anti-Fa, Occupy Wall Street and the people who coined the term “white privilege” have all been co-opted into it (whether they know it or not). And it is at the heart of any political movement designed to equalize or redistribute income and wealth, or nationalize large swaths of the American economy (such as healthcare or education), or to globally tax and govern under the guise of “saving the planet,” OR to allow people from other countries to enter the U.S without any hindrances or processes.

Once you understand what’s happening under the soil …the fruits of this belief system are easy to recognize and discern.

The general gist is this: White Europeans got on boats and colonized land (America) that didn’t belong to them. They fought other Europeans to keep them away from the new found bounty. Then they fought and slaughtered indigenous peoples in order to take more land and increase their holdings. And they kept expanding and conquering until they reached the ocean, destroying everything in their path.

Then they used industrialization to make war and commerce easier and more efficient, destroying nature in the process. Then, they fought wars alongside other super powers to maintain global control of all the land on earth and to draw borders on the map however they saw fit. And the only thing that can truly level this unholy playing field is for commercialists, capitalists and wealthy captains of industry to be pulled down by their foundations …and for borders to be erased.

Because those foundations and borders are built on slavery, oppression and servitude. And we all live under certain generational sins. Meaning, that nice, warm house you live in, is the result of a nation first taking or stealing that land and then repurposing it for a different race of people.

By this logic, if you’re white, you probably owe someone of color your house. You may think this sounds far fetched …but it’s not.

A lot of the people who want to tear down Columbus statues aren’t going to stop with stone monuments. They’re ultimately coming after the neighborhood real estate lady in the pant suit. Why?

Because, who told her she could buy and sell those pieces of land in the first place? How did that lot on the corner come to market? Who owned it four hundred years ago? And how did they lose it? Does it belong to their descendants? What if it was once part of a plantation? Shouldn’t it be given to the descendants of the former slaves, rather than sold to that nice, white family with the two adorable kids, Annie and Conor? What if it was once part of Mexico?

DACA is in the news right now. And it’s a complicated issue. I’m the father of a LEGAL immigrant. So, I empathize with the plight of kids who were brought here innocently. I did that VERY THING to my daughter. But the origins of DACA are rooted in the notion that borders themselves are inherently xenophobic and “nationalistic.” And the people who want secure borders are racists, protecting a white majority …a white lineage …white privilege. In other words, the real estate itself is at issue.

I am often conflicted over these things. I have no idea if Mr and Mrs Hammenbach came to this country legally or not. I have no idea if my great-grandfather was born to a legal resident or not. For all I know, I’m the descendant of a “Dreamer” from another time. But I am NOW seen as a white man …with white privilege. Even though I’m only a couple of generations removed from people who were hacking out an existence any way they could and leaving babies on tree stumps and shortening their last names in order to assimilate. Things can shift quickly in a free society. That Should be seen as a good thing.

At this point in history, the issue with American immigration is simply this: the country cannot hold or support seven billion people.  And trying to replace one group of “privileged people” with another group more deserving is only a vicious cycle.

This is why working with other nations to bring about true, free societies is so important. And it’s why exporting American values to other countries isn’t a bad thing. It’s easier than importing every person in the world to America.

Morgan Freeman is buying up Mississippi. He buys as much land down there as he can, when it comes to market. As it stands now, he owns big swaths of the state. I like that he didn’t petition a government for it. He didn’t demand it as payment for services rendered by his forbears. He applied his unique talents and rose to the top of his profession. Then took money he earned in a free market and purchased the land fairly and legally. And if one day, the Freeman family owns everything from Memphis to Biloxi …I say good for them.

But when that day comes, I send a friendly warning to Mr Freeman. The exorbitant acting fees that have allowed him to purchase land fairly and on an open market, might one day be seen as some sort of privilege. And his great-grand children, the descendants of slaves, who were able to rise into rarified air, might one day be seen as a “land barons” who purchased land from people who didn’t truly own it in the first place. And on that day, the bell of privilege and inequity will toll for them as well.

Be careful about the houses you wish to tear down and rebuild. There’s always someone waiting to do the exact same thing to you.

R

JESUS IS MINE …

I’ve never had a problem with the “Christ” part. But the “ianity” part? Well, that has sometimes been a different story.

Jesus wasn’t much about religion. So what did we humans do? We promptly started a religion in his name. Cause that’s how we roll. When we don’t understand an enormous, bright light, we make it small enough for us to see. And we tend to miss all the salient, inexplicable truths that require a sense of wonder and mystery, so we can focus on the parts we can achieve.

In other words, Jesus talks about his body being bread and his blood being wine. We run out and buy crackers and grape juice. Because that’s easier than a day-to-day contemplation of Jesus’ life becoming our sustenance. Anyway …

In the Christian religion, it is estimated that there are over twenty-three thousand different PROTESTANT denominations. That’s not including Catholicism. People have just never seemed to be able to agree on anything when it comes to Jesus and his teachings.

Our penchant for creating new and not-so-interesting churches out of the words he said, is a tribute to the smallness of the human brain and the fearfulness of the human heart. It’s so much easier to put brick to mortar, throw money, come up with a list of rules, have a “children’s ministry,” put together a worship team, buy a sound system, lighting rig and smoke machine, raise our hands and sway back and forth to a maddeningly monotonous 1 to the 4 to the 1 to the 4 worship song, that repeats the same, banal phrase over and over and over and over (don’t get me started), listen to a former high school quarterback talk about how “when-you’re-in-the-fire-someone-is-in-there-with-you” type sermon, than it is to …1. Love God with all your heart. 2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Try doing those two things for a week. Going to church is WAY easier.

A lot of people believe they actually do those things and they are on the right path. But let’s see what happens when their neighbor puts up a “Re-elect Trump” sign, or a “Hillary Please Try Again!” sign, or they post a BLM statement …OR …they hoist a confederate flag on their front porch. Loving THAT neighbor AS YOURSELF gets harder and harder to do. And it makes Jesus harder and harder to understand and contemplate.

For some, Jesus is about righteousness. They love the idea of him cleaning up a life and wringing pretty much all the humanity out of it. I get that. There’s a lot of bad stuff about humanity I’d like to get rid of, myself. Unquestioning servants, obeying easy-to-follow rules, make for a less complicated world. Some people need simplicity.

For some, he’s about a spiritual journey into something metaphysical. Hey, I’m up for that as well. Escaping reality is an art form for humans. Following Jesus into an existentially beautiful and conflict-free plane of existence sounds wonderful and definitely less dangerous than heroin.

For others, Jesus is a social justice warrior. In their minds, he’s storming the halls of congress, demanding that systems and institutions save, feed, clothe, and care for the downtrodden. I suppose I get that too. If you can’t find faith in spirit, and “love” just seems too ethereal and hard to quantify, the blunt instrument of government might be exactly what you need out of Jesus.

One thing is for certain: we will probably never stop arguing over what people should do in the name of Jesus.

I’ve re-watched Ken Burns’ The Civil War documentary this week. And I’m stunned, all over again, at the calling down of Jesus and his teachings into the folly of human endeavor. From slavery to elections to battle tactics, the name of Jesus was at the ready, on the tongue of pretty much all involved. And even after six hundred thousand deaths and a martyred president, the fullness of Jesus was still not achieved.

Then, I go from 150 years ago to watching people berate Joel Osteen on social media, and I realize that in many ways, we haven’t come that far. Joel Osteen is in the business of Jesus. So he gets less of a pass as a human than the rest of us. I wonder how Jesus would react to Mr Osteen. He might say, “give all this stuff away, Joel. You don’t need it.” OR he might say, “bro …no matter what good you try to do in this world, people are still going to hate you. Trust me on that one.”

Only Jesus and Joel truly know.

We use Jesus as a trap for our enemies to fall into. We use him as a pivot point when we don’t want to honestly debate something (i.e. the “Jesus juke”). We use him as a “gotcha” or a “see-I-told-you-so” to win an argument. We use him as an excuse to not examine ourselves. We use him as a gardening tool, to weed out the difficult questions in our lives. We use him against his own followers …to make ourselves feel better about hating them.

As for me? I find my own faults and shortcomings far too difficult to manage, to use Jesus as a yardstick for someone else’s. And I find what Jesus did far too deep and unfathomable to reduce it to an online parlor game.

I’ll guarantee you I don’t follow Jesus the way you think I should. It’s why I NEVER refer to myself as a Christian. Just a messed up songwriter who’s pretty much in the business of failure on a continual basis, trying to follow the example of an enigma I will never fully know. Ironically, Joel Osteen is in here with me. So is Martin Luther and Pope John Paul. Abe Lincoln is in here with us, as well as Robert E Lee and Rosa Parks. Billy Graham and Martin Luther King Jr are hanging around these parts. Donald J Trump, Barack Hussein Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton reside in this neighborhood, too.

And yet, if his words are true, Jesus loves every one of us equally. So, until I get to the point where I can say THAT …I won’t be telling anyone else what Jesus wants them to do, or what he doesn’t want them to do, or how they should react to this or that, or what they should do with their mega church, or what candidate Jesus wants them to support, or how much money Jesus wants them to give to the Red Cross or pay in taxes.

Until I’m more LIKE Jesus …I’ll refrain from speaking FOR him.

But hey …that’s just me.

 

 

R

Yeah, but …

One of my dear friends called me last summer to tell me his son was visiting Tennessee. He was wondering if I might be able to connect with him. I was out of town that week and unable. But while we were discussing it he told me where his son was going to be: Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park. I was actually taken aback and laughed, nervously. “I didn’t realize we named a state park after that guy,” I said.

My friend, who happens to be a black man, asked, “Why? Who is he?”

“Well,” I stumbled, “um …he was a confederate general who started the KKK. And I honestly have no good reason to give you as to why my state wanted to memorialize him.”

My friend was stunned silent on the other end of the phone. And his first response back to me was, “is my son safe?”

Do you understand why he would say that? I do.

I know, as a southerner, that nothing was going to happen to his son. I know that probably none of the kids camping at that park had any idea who Nathan Bedford Forrest was and they didn’t care. I know that toward the end of his life, Forrest denounced racism and he’s a complicated historical figure, etc, etc. I get it. I know the Klan is a small, fringe group that nobody in the south wants to have anything to do with. And in all my 50 years of living and working in the south I have never knowingly met or had any contact with the Klan. But THAT’S not how someone of color sees it. They instantly fear for themselves and wonder if they have all the information. They wonder if they can truly trust what they’re hearing. And even when they know in their head that their white friends are not all racists, a state park named after the first leader of the KKK can strike momentary fear in their hearts and, at the very least, leave them confused.

If you don’t understand that, you don’t know enough people of different races.

In the south, we are raised with a concealed romance toward the confederacy. It’s called “our heritage.” And we desperately want it to be devoid of anything evil. These ubiquitous symbols; the confederate flag, the statues of confederate leaders, the references to “Dixie,” are melted into family, faith, honesty, legacy, fearlessness, toughness, humor in the face of rough times, tradition, not letting anyone tell you what to do while honoring those who came before you. I love these things about the south. And in that sense, I am a proud southerner.

But these noble qualities all somehow mingle into the southern ethos of the confederacy. And we in the south are raised in this convoluted air. At Cracker Barrel we see little books that extol the virtues of southern speech. And yeah …it might have a nod to the confederate flag on it. But it’s harmless. We write country songs about the south and how “country” we are and how proud we are of it all. But it’s all harmless. We loved the Dukes of Hazard. Harmless boys who just like to get rowdy. We all have a great sense of humor, drive trucks, shoot guns and love our grandma. And it all morphs into this harmless, cultural potpourri of pinto beans and muskets – Sunday School and Slouch hats – football and silent cannons.

Nobody wants to believe their ancestors were wrong. The weight of some guilt is simply too much to bear. So, many of my southern brothers and sisters will often defend the south and white people and slave owners and Robert E Lee and the confederacy and statues and on and on. “The Civil war wasn’t fought over slavery” is my least favorite of all the arguments. And yet it’s actually true. The war was essentially over states’ rights. I’m a federalist and believe strongly in the tenth amendment. So I’m all in on states’ rights. The problem is the “rights” those states wanted to retain, included the right to operate slave labor. And that gets us back to the moral argument.

At some point, in the south, we’re going to have to realize that our forbears were not on the right side of the nation’s greatest internal conflict. We are going to have to accept our ancestors’ sins and admit them. And then we’re going to have to move forward without ever trying to defend them in any way.

If I heard a Muslim say he didn’t support Jihad, but he understood things about it I just didn’t get, I would shut him down and simply say, “Sorry dude. You lost me at ‘yeah, but …”

When I hear Black Panther apologists bending over backwards, trying to explain to me the “historical context” of why someone calls for my death as a white person, I don’t really hear them. Once your “fight or flight” button gets pushed, it’s awfully hard to calmly sit through a history lesson.

I understand the need to keep our history front and center. I even understand the rolling of one’s eyes at people who want to take down monuments.

But when white people take instances like Charlottesville Virginia, and use them as occasions to say, “yeah but …” we reinforce everything people of other races think of us. And we erode trust. And that keeps us from moving forward as a nation.

People in the northern part of the country don’t know what it’s like (thankfully) to be raised in a place where epic battles were fought and hundreds of thousands of men died unthinkable deaths. They don’t see the historical markers and the scars of bloodshed and horror and hear the ghosts of the distant past all around them …ALL THE TIME. In the south, most of us drive past a major battle field on our way to work every morning. And that creates generation after generation trying to reconcile ourselves and balance who we are as people. But you can’t do that by becoming the very thing everyone already thinks you are.

I know that most of the people in the south are not racists. I know that most of us have made peace with the past and have it in its proper context. But I wonder about Confederate monuments. They’ve always bothered me. And, as a history buff, I never understood why we erected them in the first place.

Having said that, I know that Nathan Bedford Forrest can’t touch my friend’s son from the grave. And his name on that park isn’t actually hurting anyone. And I also understand the budgetary and cultural significance of uprooting every monument and engraving we don’t like. I mean there are two slave owners on Mount Rushmore for God’s sake. This could get out of hand pretty quickly. But maybe some of these things actually should come down. And maybe we should stop trying to “southsplain” away ugly truths. And maybe when Nazis march in the streets, we should just call it what it is and stop saying, “yeah but …”

We bought some Confederate money, in a Civil War memorabilia shop, when I was a kid. I asked the clerk if I could spend it. “No son, this money isn’t spendable anymore,” he said. “It’s just for show.”

“Why?” I asked.

He replied, “Because there’s nobody around to recognize it as legal currency anymore.”

As far as I’m concerned …enough said.

R

POOR FROGS …

He still talks about the canaries …

Every time my father talks about his trip to South Korea (back in the 80’s) he talks about going to the 38th parallel and touring one of the tunnels between the North and South demarcation point. Apparently, the South Korean military kept canaries in cages down there. Apparently, they still do. Why? Because they’ve been under the threat of a chemical attack from the North for generations, now. And just like in coal mines, canaries will breathe the air first and die. A dead canary lets you know …it’s ON.

One of the cautionary tales advocating for wars having absolute victors is the tale of North Korea. On the very heels of World War II (a struggle between totalitarian fascism and freedom), the struggle between communism and freedom broke out. And in 1950, American troops were called on to help the people of South Korea break from the chains of totalitarian rule. Nothing really changed on the Korean Peninsula, however. And in 1953, all the M.A.S.H units wrote out “Goodbye” in stones and flew home on their helicopters.

The prevailing thinking was, leave this alone. Let sleeping dogs lie. As long as one small country can be contained and isn’t a threat to the world at large, why risk any more lives? We tried again in Vietnam. But, again, with no clear victory. And these wars have become shining examples (to some) of what not to do.

One of the issues where my Libertarian brothers and sisters and I part ways is with geopolitical conflicts. I am a live and let live person. I’m not real concerned about what you put in your body or how you conduct yourself or who you marry or don’t marry or who you sleep with or how many of them there are or anything like that. I’m all about the most freedom for the most people. Let everyone live as they see fit …then deal with their own consequences. This existential philosophy colors my world view.

But when it comes to dictatorial rule, communist regimes and totalitarianism, I actually DO sometimes believe in meddling in other countries. The globe is connected like never before. Slave trading in Thailand may or may not affect people in the United States. But it should be stopped. Period. It’s a moral issue that transcends national borders. And I take it personally. Why? Because one of those slaves might be carrying the cure to cancer in her brain. Someone under the thumb of a ruthless dictator might be harboring the next great symphony or iPhone idea. And yes, some oppressed peasant in North Korea, who’s hair is turning prematurely gray from malnutrition, might be the person who could cure Angelman Syndrome, my daughter’s disorder.

If you believe in the individual, freedom is an imperative for the human race to progress. Even God gives people a choice. Can you imagine how much farther along the United States of America would be if we’d never had slavery? How many ideas and concepts and remedies were beaten out of people relegated to picking cotton and bailing hay? I believe this concept applies globally.

One of the issues that always bugged me during the Iraqi war days, was the constant protests by AMERICANS against their own nation. It was reported that Saddam Hussein would turn on CNN and see the protests against Bush, and think HE (Hussein) was actually gaining public support. I often wonder how differently he might’ve behaved if he’d seen the entire world protesting HIM instead.

See, George W Bush might not have been the president you wanted. He might not have made the best decisions in every circumstance. But he wasn’t operating systematic torture camps. He wasn’t gassing his own people. He wasn’t taking over countries and enslaving the residents.

People used to talk a bout how (when Hussein was in power), at least the trains ran on time (as if that is some amazing feat to be applauded). My thought was always, “yes …and then when you got off the train, you might get dragged into a rape room.” Somehow, we got all mixed up on who the good guys and bad guys were.

My rule on how to figure out good guys from bad guys is as follows: Ask yourself ONE question …what happens if THESE guys win? The answer to that one simple question will always tell you who you should be rooting for.

Personally, I always root for the United States. Once American troops or assets are committed somewhere, I want them to win. Because I know what will happen if they do. More liberty for people. More care for people. More democratic rule for people. Those are my values and yes, I have no problem with those values being spread around the world. Why would I? Why would you?

We’ve appeased the regime in North Korea to its final conclusion. The insane strong man at the top can now reach New York City with a nuclear weapon. All our measured, calm responses have finally played out. The reckoning is upon us. And I’m hearing people, again, want to blame OUR president for inciting this insanity. Personally, I find this offensive. When a 22-year-old kid was imprisoned and then returned to us, having been so tortured that he died in OUR care, that could’ve been seen as an act of war and it wasn’t Donald Trump who did that. That happened before he’d even gotten used to the White House soap.

This has been bubbling for a long time. President Obama reportedly told President elect Trump that THIS was the worst issue he was leaving him. All presidents have had to deal with this weird family in North Korea for years and years. But none of them have had to deal with direct threats and actual capabilities. It is now upon us to face the weird guy in the alley we’ve been avoiding all our lives.

If you are wringing your hands and clutching your pearls, hoping WE don’t incite that crazy, little fat-ass dictator punk to drop a nuke on Guam, then congratulations …you’ll make someone a great battered wife someday. It’s time we stop shaking in our boots, hoping the wrong string of words from our president doesn’t make Kim Jong Un wish us into the corn field. Personally, I would love to have Abraham Lincoln at the helm on this one. But we don’t. And at this point, it might not even matter.

My great grandmother had a saying: It’s a poor frog that won’t croak for his own pond. Well, MY pond is the United States of America. And Kim Jong Un didn’t threaten Donald Trump. He threatened New York City and Los Angeles, California. And I take that personally. I may have problems with President Trump. He might not deal with things the way I would deal with them. He might be brash and unpredictable and all the things his critics say he is. But HE didn’t start this nonsense. It was started decades ago, when a man declared himself and his family absolute deity and enslaved an entire country. And the world looked the other way and said, “cool …we’ll give you our lunch money …just don’t blow us up.”

Well the lunch money is spent and the time has come for choosing. I’m on OUR side on this one. I’m not completely thrilled about our spokesman …but he’s ours. And he’s actually right. You don’t get to threaten us. WE’RE on the correct side of history. And if you don’t know that, good luck with the alternatives.

R

UNTIL YOU LOSE IT ALL …

I ran thirteen miles on my daughter’s first birthday. I was training for the Chicago marathon and felt extra good that day. I had a great endorphin high during her birthday party. I was relaxed and calm and thin and healthy. And though I had suffered a few minor career set-backs since bringing her home, I was certain everything was going to be fine. I had a lot of options. I had a lot of friends. I had a lot of money.

But soon, because of that very same precious little one-year-old, I had to stop training for the marathon. She had not slept more than two hours at a time, for four months. And I was getting so little sleep, I would actually throw up if I tried to run. Very soon after that first birthday, most of my money was wiped out as well. It only took a few months. Multiple ambulance rides (at around ten grand a pop) and several emergency procedures at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital can clean you out pretty quickly.

All those options I thought I had? They dried up as well. Three or four serious missteps by my label and my management and ME, was all it took. And the friends? Well, let’s just put it this way: friends are plentiful when the money and wine is flowing and there’s laughter and success all around. Those are the times I love, too. I don’t blame people for not wanting to be around serious trouble. I wouldn’t want to be either.

And so, my entire life’s foundation came apart, piece by piece, year by year, dollar by dollar …day by day. When you go from driving a Mercedes, having meetings about where to invest your money and how to “expand your brand” to pawning instruments and rolling quarters to feed your family, and you’ve lost your swagger, and you’ve lost your ability to earn a living, and you’ve lost your looks, and you’ve lost your health, and you’ve pretty nearly lost your mind …only THEN can you finally start becoming who you are actually supposed to be.

I’ve often said losing everything doesn’t only reveal WHO you really are …it reveals WHY you really are. At least it did for me.

In every person’s novel, if there isn’t a chapter called, “I lost Everything I had and Questioned Everything I’d Ever Believed,” then they’re not close to being finished with it. Because if you haven’t yet lost everything in your life, you may not be risking enough. If the answers to your questions are simple and the fixes to your problems are easy, you may not be doing it right.

My favorite Jesus story is the one about the rich young ruler. I love it because I think it’s the most misrepresented and misunderstood Jesus story of all. It also may be the most important. For those who aren’t preacher’s kids and who haven’t heard bible lessons since they were old enough to gum baby food, it goes like this:

A rich young ruler came to Jesus for some advice. “Rich young ruler” in today’s terms would be “trust fund baby” or “one per-center.” This kid was a good kid. He’d kept all the commandments all his life. He did all the good stuff. He hadn’t missed a beat when it came to “doing the right thing.” So, just to keep it real and keep himself “woke” (as the kids say), he went to this Jesus dude and asked what MORE he could do to keep his game tight. Jesus didn’t miss a beat. He just said, “sell all your stuff and give it to the poor …bye.”

The kid couldn’t do it. It was just too much. He wasn’t ready.

A lot of people make this story about “the poor” and how the rich have a responsibility to give all their stuff away and social justice and all of that. And I’m sure those temporal things certainly play a part in Jesus answer. But being rich and being poor are surface, physical things. They’re not “soul” things. I think Jesus was a little deeper than that. I think Jesus was saying to this kid, “you can’t buy your way out of getting your hands dirty, bro. YOU have to do it. Not someone else.” He was giving him a chance to find his real, true self. He was opening a corridor that would’ve been life changing. This (to me) was about saying, “until YOU LOSE IT ALL, you can’t find out who you really are. And until THEN, you can’t really make a difference in the world.”

And that translates further of me. I have to love and forgive and give back …not comment on ethers who don’t. Rather than trying to make everybody else conform to something …it’s on ME to constantly check my own self.

I lost everything, not by choice but by circumstance. So believe me, I’m not telling everyone to try and become poor. I’m not making a value judgement on how much money or stuff you have. I don’t think any of those things are, in and of themselves, evil. I’m also not telling you to give everything away. But I am advocating risking a lot for love’s sake. I am encouraging you to give more than you think you can.

I had lunch with a friend some time ago. They talked about how unhappy they were, even though they had plenty of money and security and success. I asked a simple question: “where are you giving back?” And that one question seemed to halt them. To me …THAT’S the point of it all.

And that leads me back to my daughter’s first birthday …

That little one-year-old mystery just turned fifteen this past week. She didn’t get better. Chances are, she never will. And that’s okay. In the fourteen years since that first birthday, I’ve learned a lot about Angelman Syndrome and special needs care giving. I’ve learned a lot about PTSD in parents of special needs children. And THAT has led me into PTSD work with veterans and others. I’ve learned what music is REALLY about. I’ve learned a whole lot about not judging people at first glance. And listening for some deeper issue in their lives, rather than making snap judgements on their choices. And I’ve learned to try and help instead of just being a spectator.

ALL of that was born of loss …not gain. I didn’t learn to love by winning. I learned by losing. Not that we shouldn’t try to win – of course we should. I’m cheering you on. And I’m always striving to win, myself. But there is a door you can walk through that will change you forever. And it involves finding yourself without all the things you thought were stable …to hold onto.

What I learned from losing it all is that terrible things are going to happen …and it’s okay. We will all come face-to-face with our greatest fears …and it’s okay. Everyone we love is going to die …and it’s okay. The world is not going to turn the way we want it to …and it’s okay. People will fail us and disappoint us and surprise us with their weakness …and it’s okay. We’re going to grieve great losses …and it’s okay.

My baby still has Angelman Syndrome …and it’s okay. I lost everything and then re-gained it all and then some. But even if I hadn’t, it would still be okay.

You see, once you lose everything you think you want …you can finally find what you actually need. And THEN, even when everything is not going to be okay …it’s okay.

R

SONGS, SENATORS AND SAUSAGE …

You don’t want to see legislation or sausage being made, goes the old adage. Watching either of those endeavors will sour you on both. I’ve never seen sausage being made. But I was a witness to the passing of the federal seat belt law, when I was around ten-years-old. We were in the big congressional hall. A bunch of people got up and argued with each other (one at a time). Then they all said “aye” or “nay.” Then my father whispered in my ear, “Now, we always have to wear our seat belts. If the president signs this – and he will – this will be the law from now on.”

And it is …to this day.

Most people in America don’t know this about America, but the songwriting profession is THE ONLY profession in the history of our nation that has always been completely and totally run by the government. THEY set our rates. THEY set our licensing practices. THEY dictate our entire livelihood …almost. There are some places where they have little to no control. And in those places, we have the possibility of actually doing pretty well. In fact, in THOSE places, we can compete with our “master recording” counterparts dollar-for-dollar. But those places are in TV, film and commercial licensing.

The vast majority of our income streams are set by congress (or worse) “rate court” judges. Yes. The amount of money I earn on each spin of a record, on the radio, is decided BY. A. JUDGE. So when you ask me, “hey, who decides how much money you make per spin of a record?” The answer is …I have no idea. But he or she wears a robe and works somewhere in Washington D.C.

I wonder how many people can say their income is determined by ONE judge, somewhere, who knows nothing about the ins-and-outs of their business?

But it gets better …

There’s also a law on the books that makes it illegal for that judge to allow the current market value of intellectual property to be introduced into evidence as part of his or her decision-making process. So, they literally make it up out of thin air …based on nothing. And they have to …legally.

I’ve been filming a documentary with three singer/songwriter friends and an Emmy award winning film maker for over a year, now. Our quest? To get to the bottom of why our particular industry is going away and how we can save it. Especially when the music business (as a whole) seems to be doing just fine. One of the many conclusions we’ve come to is that congress needs to get out of the songwriting profession altogether and let us handle our own business.

Two weeks ago, we went to congress and asked them if they could do just that …ON camera. We were loaded for bear, ready to lower the boom on these representatives and senators. We had our oh-so-informed questions and queries ready. But to our surprise, EVERY SINGLE representative and senator we talked with agreed with us. They ALL – to a person – thought our plight was insane and wanted to help.

So why can’t they do anything about it? The answer is simpler than I wanted it to be: once something becomes a law, it’s really hard to undo it. Once people have built businesses and lives and economic machines on the foundations of something, telling them to dismantle all of that is almost impossible without an enormous groundswell of support for such a thing.

And so these elected representatives all empathize with our plight. We spoke with two from the far left and two from the far right. And they ALL agreed with us and each other. AMAZING! But there are so many fractured interests in the music business itself that we (as an industry) can’t even get to a general consensus on what we (as an industry) actually want done. And that leaves the good folks in D.C hamstrung on what they can do.

You see, making law is like putting crazy glue in your hair. You’d better REALLY want it there. Because getting it out is gonna be a painful and ugly operation. The three other guys in the doc are my close friends. We’re like brothers. We are all the same gender and race and close to the same age. And even WE were arguing like playground kids about how the thing needed to be fixed, who was the best messenger, what the main issues were, etc …by lunch. And that speaks more to the nature of precedent, existing law and the difficulty in changing it, than anything else.

We ask our elected officials to be experts in every aspect of life. But they’re not. And how could they be? And maybe the best course of action is often for them to not be asked to step into a business in the first place.

As we watch the current healthcare debate, I’m reminded of how cavalierly our current healthcare law was passed. And how little was debated about the possible unintended consequences of the government stepping into one sixth of the American economy. It was just about coverage or lack thereof.

I’ve been very public about my political point of view and my thoughts on American healthcare. As a libertarian, I always take a “try-everything-but-government-first” approach to pretty much everything except the military. The reason isn’t because I want to see people die or lose coverage or get left on the street or any of those old chestnuts, hurled by statists, who think only people in Washington D.C can manage anything important. It’s because I am LIVING through the nightmare of government being so out-of- step with my chosen profession, that it almost isn’t a profession anymore. And I desperately want to keep that from happening in something as important as healthcare.

As a songwriter, what I need in 2017 isn’t a world view from 1909. But that’s what I have to live with. Because the government can’t keep up with Google or Apple or Spotify or Pandora. And I can’t keep up with all the conflicts of interest that keep all those entities tangled up together and working against my interests as a commercial artist.

This kind of chaos can have dire consequences when life and death are in the mix.

So, my word to the wise, inside the healthcare profession itself, is be careful what you wish for when it comes to the government dancing with you. It may seem wonderful for a while. It may seem pragmatic. It may seem humane. it may seem to make the most sense. But then, one day you may find yourself making a nice living taking X-rays, with your pay-grade, benefits, etc all managed by some government agency, when – all of a sudden – iPhone comes out with an app that does your job for free. Check breaks and tears and hernias and masses, just by clicking on the app. Point and shoot. Text it to your doctor. Have your robot-driven car take you to the first available “bone-setting” station, in the local strip mall.

Think I’m exaggerating? In 1997 I would’ve NEVER believed that two thirds of planet earth would be holding access to every song ever recorded …on their phone …for $14 bucks a month …that I can’t participate in …because the laws of 1909 couldn’t imagine the same world Steve Jobs could.

If you’re not a part of that dynamic AS it develops; that innovation; that ebb and flow of market genius, you just might find yourself where I am: losing 80% of your income while people in D.C try to figure out why their regulations and oversights – that never saw the new model coming – aren’t helping you.

And the real losers in that structure? The people who just want affordable access to world-class health care. I personally believe we can get there without a complete government takeover of the healthcare industry. We need laws – of course. But they need to be carefully written and (at least in my view) the fewer the better.

My profession is inundated with sausage (legislation) that has gone bad. WAY bad. I don’t wish that on anyone else. Especially not an industry that holds life and death in its hands.

 

R