Saturday, July 14, 2018


By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, July 14, 2018

If there is one thing I have learned that is far more valuable than anything else learned in over 33 years in the real estate business it is that honesty is truly the best policy whether you are the buyer, the seller, or a real estate agent. PERIOD!

“Mr. & Mrs. Seller (or Buyer), I need to know. 
Do you want me to tell you what you WANT to hear,
or do you want me to tell you the TRUTH?”

That was the question I would ask any seller or buyer I worked with.  The answer given was always the truth but in my heart I knew some of them preferred to hear what they wanted to hear.  This Nugget is what I truly believe to be the truth of pricing your home to sell.

The second best thing I learned during all those years is that Homeowners truly believe their homes were worth more than they were worth and that sellers believed homes were worth far less than what the sellers believed. 

I recently saw this question posted in the local newspaper.  How do you get top dollar for your home?

That is at the very heart of the dilemma is it not?  How DO you get TOP DOLLAR when you sell your home?

The answer is so simple to understand yet so misunderstood by most if not all homeowners.  Let me draw you a mental picture.

Your home has so many square feet of living area.  It has so many bedrooms.  It either has a formal living room AND a formal dining room or it doesn’t.  It has a den or it doesn’t.  It has fireplace, a pool, a fenced back yard, a double car garage or it doesn’t.  It is relatively new, old, or somewhere in between in age.  The list of amenities and features in your home is virtually endless.

But your home is most likely similar to homes in your area that have ALREADY been sold AND more importantly the sale CLOSED and is now a matter of record.  The question for sellers is this.  Would you pay MORE for any item of interest than it has been proven by the MARKET to be worth?  For example, if you want to buy a diamond, diamonds can be very similar but no two diamonds are alike.  If the diamond you like sold for $5000, would you be willing to pay $6000 for it?  I would imagine you would jump at the opportunity to pay just $4,000.  This is where TIME and ABUNDANCE enters the picture.  If TIME is important to you, the answer may be yes if it would take you more time than you had available to find another diamond being sold for $5,000. That is the importance of immediate availability.  If there were diamonds all over the market area for $5,000, why would you pay $6,000 ONLY because it was right there in front of you?  You wouldn’t pay $6,000 and you and I know it.

Homes are no different.  No two homes are identical even those built in a subdivision where the builder may have had only 5 floor plans to select from when they were first built.  Owners then do a lot of modifications to those homes to make them like THEY like them.  They may have upgraded the carpet or added hardwood floors or ceramic tile.  They may have added an in ground swimming pool.  Even from the very construction no two homes in the neighborhood were identical.  Something in each one said “I’m different; buy me!”  That is one way to get Top Dollar for your home.  Be different in a good way.

So, to answer the question, how does a seller get top dollar for their home?  The Sellers MUST, I repeat, MUST understand that the seller does not set the sales price for their home – THE LOCAL REAL ESTATE MARKET DOES!  It is really that simple.  But the key phrase “Market Does” there is that one word LOCAL.  Local in this case may mean your very specific subdivision.  Not the one across town or even a half mile away –  it’s within YOUR SUBDIVISION (if you live in a subdivision).  Of course there are exceptions such as the fact that your home may not have been built to the same standards, let us say 2000 to 2500 square feet of living space.  Your home may of have had an addition or it may have been built by a different contractor and now contains 3500 square feet of living area.  In other words, your home no longer can be compared to other homes in your immediate subdivision.  Still, the sale of those homes in your immediate subdivision has a tremendous influence on the price your home will eventually sell for.  There must be something in your home that would drive a buyer to be willing to buy a home that is somewhat less in value because it is not amongst homes that ARE DIS-SIMILAR to your home.  Disclaimer, my home is such a home.  It has 1000 square feet of living area MORE than any other home in my subdivision.  That is not good for me.  But I like my home and I understand how it is valued and bought it anyway because everything else about the home just fit me and my family at the time.  Any other buyer, probably not so much.

In order to get TOP DOLLAR for YOUR home it MUST first be in tip top condition.  No one wants to pay top dollar for a home that requires attention or modifications.  How do you get a home in tip top condition?  You the owner must first stand out on the street and observe your home as a seller would for the very first time.  What do you see?  You must look at it with eyes that are seeing it for the very first time not as you know it to be.  Does it have a great curb appeal?  Are there any obvious repairs needed like painting, new shutters, landscaping, etc.?  What does the rest of the immediate neighborhood look like?

Your next step is to go through each room in your home and do the exact same thing.  Look at each room as a potential buyer with the buyer’s eyes.  This is the first time you are seeing each room as a buyer would.  Then the garage if you have one.  Then the back yard if you have one.  Never overlook the neighbors’ homes if you have them.  What do the neighbors homes look like?  Example, would you be willing to buy YOUR home if your NEIGHBORS have cars up on blocks in their driveway? My guess is probably not.

The above procedure is NOT an option, it is a mandated necessity. Go through the procedure with a note pad and write down everything you see that a buyer might object to and then identify those areas that can be fixed to put it in tip top condition.  For things that either cannot be fixed or you do not desire to spend the money to fix them, you must adjust your mental value of your home downward. 

Think of it this way.  Is your home at the very top end of the price value of similar homes in your area?  Is it at the bottom price value?  Or is it somewhere in between.  Not many homes that go up for sale are ever ABOVE what the highest most recent sale was just as not many are below the lowest price a home sold at.  Most homes are somewhere in between the highest and lowest.  Given the condition of your home, make a judgment as to where on that sale line does your home fall as it is now not as it could be with some improvements – more towards the top if not at the top or more towards the bottom if not at the bottom?

HIGHEST PRICE ____________________________________ LOWEST PRICE

Then YOU have to ask yourself, what can I reasonably do to move my home along that price line to make it more attractive to a buyer thus a higher market value than as it currently sits on that line?  The following are some tips; some of them cost money, some cost elbow grease, all require action:

  • Cleanliness – thoroughly clean your house
  • Cleanliness – consider hiring a professional house cleaner
  • Stage Your House – you probably have been to “model homes”, you have seen how they appear.  They have been staged to make them look their best in a potential buyer’s eyes.  It is not difficult but it is not obvious and your tastes may not be what are currently selling.  Consider hiring a professional Home Staging Expert, they are not that expensive.  Or ask your REALTOR®.  You do have a REALTOR® I hope.  If they are proficient in Home Staging and take his or her advice.
  • Paint – fresh paint is oftentimes the only thing that needs to be done.
  • Woodwork – dusted and repaired as may be indicated.
  • Kitchens & Bathrooms – they oftentimes are the selling points of a house.  Make sure they are spotless and bright. 
  • Hardware – don’t laugh at this but one of the first things a buyer sees when coming to view your house is your front door and the front door handle.  Does it look new and shiny or old and worn?  As the buyer goes through your house, they cannot help but see the door knobs and hinges on the doors.  Old rusty hinges and door knobs show an inclination of “needed maintenance” and a buyer mentally asks, what else needs to be fixed in this house?

You may not have picked up on a very slight difference in language above.  Do the words House and Home mean the same thing?  In one sense yes.  But in a more important sense no.  To most people the word HOME means something warm and fuzzy whereas HOUSE does not.  You live in a HOME but you sell a HOUSE.  You, the homeowner, need to stop thinking of all the “warm and fuzzies” you created while living in your Home.  You now need to think more like you are just selling an object, a HOUSE.  If you continue to think of your HOUSE as a HOME your mind may consider the comments of a buyer to be offensive and actually lose a sale.

For Sale By Owner vs. REALTOR®.  Yes people have sold their home without the services of a REALTOR®.  Given the propensity of people today to take legal action against anyone and everyone, if you attempt to sell your home without the services of a real estate agent, I am suggesting you are walking a tightrope without a net.  Real Estate Agents are fully aware of the legal pitfalls of selling what most people consider their single greatest asset.  People are buying their single greatest asset.  Neither one take kindly to the misrepresentation of the other in the sale of real estate.  It is your decision so decide wisely AND based on CURRENT real estate market conditions.  Having been in real estate I would not attempt to sell my home myself.  Besides, homes sold through real estate agents tend to attract qualified buyers and have routinely sold at higher prices than prices received by owners who sell their homes without a real estate agent.  Besides, more than 70% of all real estate sales involve a real estate agent(s).  Don’t take my word for it, check out the sales yourself.

It all comes down to this.

  • Your home is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for it
  • Your home is only worth what a mortgage company is willing to lend to a buyer to enable the buyer to buy it
  • Your home is ONLY worth what a qualified real estate appraiser indicates the market value to be, and the mortgage company accepts
  • Your home is worth whatever a buyer is willing to pay with CASH (without a home loan/mortgage) regardless of its market value UNLESS the buyer obtains an appraisal from a qualified real estate appraiser.  Then it is doubtful the buyer would pay more cash than the appraiser indicates its value to be
  • Your home is probably NOT worth what you may THINK it is worth because homeowners typically think their home is the best on the market and therefore worth more than the market would indicate.
  • Your home is probably, actually most likely, not worth what your neighbor SAID their home sold for or what it is worth because they either don’t really know or they don’t want you to know the truth.  They don’t know the real estate market and that’s a fact
  • Your home is definitely not worth what some distant relative thinks it’s worth even if that relative is a real estate agent but lives a great distance away.  They don’t know the LOCAL real estate market

Getting top dollar for your home means pricing your home properly and within what the LOCAL real estate market would indicate and justify.  There are always exceptions to the rules and this advice is no exception.  Of course I could be wrong but I’m not.  Over 33 years of real estate experience tells me I am not wrong on this advice.

If you want a booklet on Staging Your Home For Success, email me at and all you need to do is put STAGING in the subject line and the booklet is yours.  You must have Microsoft Word and software that can read/open a Word produced document.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Advertising – Marketing – Coffee Cups

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, July 9, 2018

If you were to receive a Christmas card with this photo on the front, what would first attract your attention and what would you think of next?  Therein lies the purpose of this latest Nugget for the Noggin – differentiate the difference between Advertising and Marketing and then the importance of using tools to create a memory that hopefully draws people to your business.

THE CARD:  If I were to receive this card in the mail, I would immediately think of Sandra Nickel in Montgomery, Alabama.  Why Sandra?  She is well known in the real estate industry as “The Hat Lady.”  Why is that important to know?  I first met Sandra well over 25 years ago and in 2018; I remember Sandra, what business she is in and her famous trademark “hat” on everything she ever put forth to the public.  She did not send me this photo; I have misplaced the card she originally sent me at Christmas so many years ago.  The photo was of a lone pine tree standing out in a barren field with just one hat hanging on its branches.  No words were on the face of the card like Merry Christmas, just the photo.  No words were necessary to know from whom it came.  In fact if my memory serves me, I believe it was a post card and not a fold over card so just the post card arrived in the mail.  The moment I saw the photo I knew who it was from without even turning the card over.  Her MARKETING SKILLS are second to none!  THEY WORK!  As an aside, she not only was marketing to me, she was also advertising at the same time to anyone and everyone that handled that card in the post office system.  Think about that when you consider how many post cards Sandra mails out each year.

Do you know what the difference is between Advertising and Marketing?  I had to learn the hard way.  Believe it or not, I majored in Advertising and Marketing at Bowling Green State University.  In the two years I attended, I took NO classes relating to business, advertising or marketing and totally lost interest in college; it was one of the several reasons I joined the Coast Guard aside from giving me purpose in life. 

I learned the difference between Advertising and Marketing from a fellow real estate agent, broker, trainer, owner and operator of a real estate school and expert “marketer” himself – Rick Barnes from Texas.  It was one of those lessons you occasionally experience that just sticks with you.  Here is what Rick said:


Think about that for just a second and you realize how true that statement is.  When you place an advertisement in a newspaper or an advertising book, you are advertising to the general public not to the people you know.  Yes, some of the people you know may see your advertisement but that is more by accident than by design.  You are using a shotgun approach to attracting business to your business.  A shotgun has a scatter pattern where you are hoping that one of the projectiles hits a hopeful target.  Hope is not a good strategy!  Dr. John Maxwell  Isn’t that what you do when you place a For Sale ad in the newspaper, run a “hire me” video on TV or any number of different advertising outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. etc.   You are NOT aiming at someone who will eventually buy from you; they are lost in the gigantic circle you are aiming at.  You may or may not hit them.

Marketing on the other hand targets the people who already KNOW, LIKE, and TRUST you (Bob Burg made that famous) and who will BUY from you (a slight modification by Jeffrey Gitomer).  Sadly most people I know ADVERTISE instead of MARKET.  Does it not make sense to continue to contact the people you know to constantly remind them in a nice way that you are still in business and there is no way on this Earth that you can make a success and grow your business without their help?  Example:  I retired from real estate after 33 years December 2012.  Six years later I can count the number of Advertising pieces I have received in the mail on 10 fingers/thumbs.  They have been few and far between.  I can count the number of MARKETING pieces on about 2 fingers in those 6 years and that is sad, truly sad.  Out of sight, out of mind!  It IS that simple.  Of the Advertising pieces I received, they were truly hit or miss because I have never received another real estate advertising piece from the same agent twice.  Over my 33 years in the business I have known thousands of real estate agents and have personally trained hundreds.  You would think I would receive more MARKETING pieces from the ones I know but I do not.  So maybe my training was not all that well received but I stand by it and what I am writing here.  You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.

RICK BARNES:  His MARKETING system was so simple and extremely inexpensive.  He created the slogan, THINK REAL ESTATE; THINK RICK!  He would then use his own computer and printer and a good supply of card stock paper to create post cards both large, 2 to a page, or smaller, 4 to a page.  One side of the post card would read:


The other side of the post card would in as few words as necessary to get the message across, identify him and how to contact him.  BRILLIANT!  He would use different color paper to match the season, like red and/or green for Christmas, purple for Easter, Orange for Thanksgiving, etc.  But the cards were always the same and that is the beauty of his system.  REPITITION!  It takes REPITITION for people to remember you. Even those who know you oftentimes forget that you are in a business they could use.  Personal example.  As the broker of a real estate office, I did not want my agents to think I was in competition with them for sales so I did not advertise nor market myself to anyone.  As a result, I have relatives who have purchased homes and who have sold homes using real estate agents from another company because they either “forgot” or maybe they just didn’t want to use me or my agents and that is okay.  Still the question always lingers, would they have at least given my company a chance to represent them if I had marketed the services of my company to them?  No one will ever really know will they?  My bad!

Another one of those simple messages I heard that is impossible to forget, “you want people to remember you, FROM THE MAILBOX TO THE TRASH CAN, because that is where most if not all of your advertising and/or marketing pieces are going.”  Therefore, make it sweet and simple but make it repetitive or almost always the same!

Coffee Cups:  I have known quite a few real estate agents who have purchased personalized coffee cups and gave them out more in the form of shotgun advertising than the more specific marketing approach.  I have tried this experiment on more agents than I can count.  I would see an agent drinking from a coffee cup with an advertisement on it.  For this purpose let us say it was advertising a mortgage company.  Very casually I would ask them for the name of a mortgage company they would recommend.  I do not recall EVER getting an answer that matched the name on their coffee cup they were using – EVER!  I have done this with cups advertising attorneys, home inspectors, banks, you name it.  Before I said another word, I would ask them to name the name on the cup without looking at it; most of the time they could not.  But here is a really great question that only you the reader can answer.  Have you ever received a coffee cup with an advertisement on it?  If so, do you still have it?  If not, why not?

The answer is very simple.  You already have coffee cups.  Okay, may you keep one or the most recent cup on your desk in your office but that is just one of the many cups you may have received.  What do you do with the others?  I know what I have done; they ended up in the trash or being given away to Goodwill.  Look in your kitchen cabinets, how many coffee cups do you have stored there with the name of a real estate agent or some commercial concern on them?  Probably none!  Point made!

COFFEE CUPS THAT MADE A DIFFERENCE TO ME:  I received the first one from an agent on the Mississippi Gulf Coast Jerry Olson.  He and his family went to Disneyland.  Upon his return he gave me a Winnie-the-Poo coffee cup.  That was in the late 1990s.  I still have it and I still remember who gave it to me and it does NOT have his name or company name on it.  Second example, Christine Mottinger and her husband Don went on a trip to Alaska.  When she returned she gave me a coffee cup with beautiful images of Alaska on it.  That was about 20 years ago, I still have the cup and I remember who gave it to me.  There was no name or company name on the cup.

The point of this is more of a question.  Do you want to be famous?  If so, continue to ADVERTISE to the people you don’t know.  Or, do you want to be successful?  If it is successful, learn to MARKET to the people you know.  When you do, you want whatever you give them to be outwardly positive and attractive but more importantly you want it to be memorable like the Winnie-the-Poo coffee mug has been to me. 

KITCHEN MAGNET: Another example is a kitchen refrigerator magnet that we have actually kept.  Believe it or not, (believe it) I have a magnet on my refrigerator from Ashley Logawick, a real estate agent in Blaine, MN where I have never been.  I don’t know how long the magnet has been on my fridge but I do know it is now on our second refrigerator.  What is so special about the magnet?  Not the agent, she’s a fictitious agent made up by the magnet company but rather the info on the magnet – KITCHEN CONVERSIONS and METRIC CONVERSIONS.  This is genius!  If I lived in Blaine MN, and if Ashley were real, I know who I would call if I had a real estate need.  Do you know how many tablespoons are in 1 cup?  Answer, 16.  How many ounces in 1 cup?  Answer: 8 ounces. How about how many meters in a foot if you ever need to know that?  Answer: .9144.  All this info right on my fridge!  I don’t remember such things but when I need them I don’t have to look them up, they are right there on my refrigerator.  That is effective marketing for sure. I believe I picked up the magnet at one of the national real estate conventions at The Magnet Street booth and it was a sample.

Hopefully you take this information and run with it to grow your business.  If you really want to know more about what it takes to grow your business, I HIGHLY recommend reading Gary Keller’s book, The Millionaire Real Estate Agent commonly referred to as The Red Book.  FORGET that it says REAL ESTATE.  It is NOT about REAL ESTATE it IS about building a successful business and what you MUST do to lay the groundwork for that to happen.  I know of several businesses outside of the real estate industry that have heaped high praises on the book.  It is about the importance of knowing your numbers, knowing your customers, knowing how many customers it takes just to break even and then knowing what you MUST do to increase your customer base and when and how to feed that base to keep your customers as your customers.  BINGO!  A book that will actually help anyone in almost any business; you can’t get any better than that!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Talk To Your Doctor
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, July 2, 2018

It is impossible to watch any television or read any magazines or newspapers without seeing the advertisements promoting a drug, or a new and improved drug.  Not only is the drug promoted, the ads identify ALL of the KNOWN side effects plus any other side effect that by taking the drug may result in.  At the end of each ad it instructs you to “talk to your doctor.”

I recently was prescribed a pain reliever after back surgery and it listed the “possible side effects.” If you read them, they would scare off anyone from taking the medication.  Do all these side effects actually exist or is this the drug company’s way of protecting themselves when something goes wrong.  Take a look at just this one medication’s warning typed in the font size on the accompanying documentation for the medication.  You tell me, if you were provided anything with a font size so small would you read it?  Given the small print I am assuming that the company that put such a warning into print this small does not want you to read it, but again if anything should go wrong they would use the warning against any claims made against the drug company.  Similar disclaimers on Radio and TV commercials end with the sound of a voice talking at least 5 times faster than anyone could possibly understand.

Even though it may be rare, some people have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug.  Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect.  Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash;’ hives’ itching’ red, swollen blistered or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.  Signs of kidney problems like unable to pass urine, change in how much urine is passed, blood in the urine, or a big weight gain.  Chest pain or pressure.  Feeling very tired or weak.  Shortness of breath.  Any unexplained bruising or bleeding, shakiness.  Trouble walking. 

The actual warning was twice as long as the above paragraph.  If I included ALL the warnings I doubt anyone would make an attempt to read it.

I counted the number of different drugs advertised as described that appeared on my television over the course of just one hour – there were 10 such ads and that was on only one channel.  Now multiply that by the number of television channels and you get the point – the advertising cost is astronomical.

Have you ever considered that YOU and I can NOT simply go to the local drug store to purchase these wonder drugs, they MUST be prescribed by a doctor; thus the reason for the direction at the end of each ad to “talk to your doctor.”  The ads must be working because there is a never ending parade of such ads promoting products that you and I cannot purchase.  Let that sink.

My advice would be to follow the money.  The ONLY way those ads can ever be successful would be for the various television watchers to first have the ailment described in the ads and then for them to literally “talk to their doctor.”  The ads imply that your doctors would be totally unaware or ignorant of the medication had it not been for you “talking to your doctor” to educate him or her.  Your doctor then magically writes you a prescription for the medication you talked about. 

There are so many things wrong with this picture.  First if you read between the lines of the ads you would think the medical profession is deaf and dumb and would not know about the medication being promoted.  That in itself is a false assumption.  But in order to pay for the hundreds of drug producing advertisements, they must be doing something right otherwise the cost of the ads would be totally out of line and prohibitive.

But it gets worse.  Think again about the cost of the advertisements.  The drug manufacturers must get a return on their advertising dollars so how do they make a profit advertising a drug that YOU and I cannot purchase without a prescription by a doctor? 

INSURANCE COMPANIES!  America has become a country of insurance policies; one on top of another.  We have them to cover our lives, our homes, our cars, our healthcare even our pets.  Athletes insure their legs, their arms, their eyes.  We insure washing machines, air conditioners, and other valuables.  When it comes to covering the cost of the drugs being advertised most people who are NOT independently wealthy, could not afford the per-pill cost.  So how do the various drug companies get paid and make a profit?  Insurance companies pay for the cost of the medications and some patients, but not all, pay a deductible.  If you have ever stood in a line at a local pharmacy you know just how shocking it is to hear the dollar amounts that some patients pay as co-payments – they are out of sight. 

Here are some questions that have always disturbed me.  Does the medication you and I take cure the problem or simply hide the symptoms of a much larger problem?  Will the medication become addictive?  But here is a question that disturbs me more than any other.  Would a drug company that finds an actual cure for a medical condition make the cure public?  If they did, they would then stop the sale of other drugs they have been selling to hide the symptoms rather than cure the ailment?  That income would cease to exist.  See Full Meausre, June 24, 2018 as stated below.

It is much like the internal combustion gasoline engine in our cars.  If someone invented a power source for cars that did not use gasoline would we ever see it on the roads?  The gas and oil companies would do everything within their power, legal or otherwise, to prevent it from becoming the new automobile engine.  Such an invention would cost those companies millions if not billions of dollars and an untold number of layoffs of workers.  The same thing is true of drug companies.  They are making billions of dollars selling medications that mask the symptoms rather than curing the ailment.  If a company were to discover a cure for a disease they would be biting the hand that feeds them by making the cure available when selling the current medications is far more profitable.

This is not just my opinion, check out the third segment of Full Measure aired on June 24th 2018 at;  it is right in line with this Nugget.  While you are there watch the other two segments as well. All three are outstanding and eye opening.

Sadly nothing will change.  When something appears to be working, why stop it?  As television and print advertising costs rise, so will the cost of the medications being advertised.  The solution to me is simple.  Stop advertising medications on television and in the print media.  If a drug company wants to advertise a medication that the public cannot individually pay for over-the-counter, they should be forbidden from using television to do so and instead spend their advertising dollars on marketing their products directly to the medical profession.  The reduction in advertising costs would be monumental.  The right thing to do would then be to reduce the cost of the drugs by the amount saved but you and I both know that would never happen.  Profits drive business.  If a drug company makes more money due to the cut in advertising costs, I seriously doubt they would cut the cost of the drugs being sold out of the kindness of their heart. 

I have seen reports that medications being sold in other parts of the world are significantly lower than the same medications cost in America.  I don’t know if that is true or not but I do know a lot of people buy their drugs from Mexico and/or Canada to reduce the cost of their expensive drugs. 

Then of course we have “named” drugs versus “generic” drugs.  Why?  Why would anyone buy a “named drug” at a higher cost if a “generic drug” was available at a lower cost?  Why not sell just one drug at the lower cost?

The cost of Healthcare is extremely complex.  Doctors authorize more tests than are required just to cover their medical insurance should something go wrong.  Multiple doctors prescribe multiple medications to just one patient increasing the odds that one or more of the prescribed drugs may cause a chemical reaction due to the combination of drugs.  In this regard, you can go to and complete the section that compares the various drugs you are taking and advises you of any concerns or potential hazards.

The real problem, in my opinion, is that far too many of us put 100% of our faith and trust in the hands of our insurance companies and pay little to no attention to what they are paying for or how much the medications and treatments cost.  Few of us are acute enough to know whether a drug, tests or procedures are actually required and take the doctor’s word for it.  After all, we are not paying for it so why should we care?  Right?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


How American Business Produced Victory in WWII
By Arthur Herman
A Book Review by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown,  22 May 2018

I thought I had a good understanding of the events leading up to WWII and the war itself.  After reading this book, I know I was obviously wrong.  This is an amazing read about how America prepared for war when it seemed everyone was against America entering the war even when it was obvious that war was coming like it or not.

Ever heard of Henry Kaiser?  How about William Knudsen?  These are only two of the many names identified in this wonderful book about the days and years leading up to World War II and America’s role in insuring its victory over Nazi Germany, Italy and Japan. 

For me this was a wonderful read.  I have read about WWII and I have watched numerous television documentaries about the war but I had never heard of the activities of American businesses that led to the Allied Victory.  President Roosevelt had many detractors back in the 1930s and 40s.  Knowing what I know about him today I believe I would have been one of those detractors.  But give him credit where credit is due – he had the courage to select a team of business leaders that resulted in our victorious efforts when most of the country was against the decisions he made in regard to building up America’s war machine.

Author Arthur Herman identifies the names of individuals who clearly demonstrated a “can do – consider it done” attitude that may never be repeated.  In fact the title of this book could have been “Can do!  Consider It Done!”  In general, it was decided by these business leaders that no government control would ever achieve what was needed.  Instead if government would let businesses identify the problem, they would formulate the solutions, their own competitive juices would insure that not only would the problems be solved, they would be solved in record time and amounts proving that tremendous things can be done when the government gets out of the way.

Aside from what businesses did there was one overriding thought that I could not avoid while reading Herman’s book and that is Take a look around you. Everything changes, but nothing changes.” from the movie Take Me Home Tonight.  During the late 1930s early 1940s a majority of Americans were against getting involved in the war.  On one had they had blinders on as to what was actually happening around the world while on the other hand they did what they could to criticize anyone and everything that suggested America needed to plan for the worst but expect the best.  These people were not just citizens; they also included the news media, reporters, print news, and worse, our elected politicians who were charged through the Constitution with protecting America and American interests.  The worst offenders were the labor unions who in the face of an Axis victory took the opportunity to engage in hundreds of strikes costing America time and money when creating periods when it was not preparing for the worst that war would bring to our shores.  Like it or not, most of the unions were infested with Communist organizers.  I suggest that if you do not like what I just wrote or fail to appreciate the truth in that statement that you look up the 45 specific goals of The Communist Party USA; look at Objective #36, Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.  You can read all 45 at:  Then came the kicker – there was fake news back in the 30s and 40s; just like today!

There were power struggles in all aspects of America life where everything was in play when it came to destroying anyone you disagreed with.  My take away from the book was that everything changes and nothing changes.  I saw what happened in 1938-1943 very similar to what is happening today.  Then the country was against everything and anything that FDR tried to do except when it came to dealing with the labor unions and expanding the Federal Government.  Today everyone is against whatever President Trump does even when it results in good things happening in our country.  Everything changes; nothing changes.

Maybe what turned out to be so disturbing to me was at the end of the book when it became apparent that a great many people who had absolutely nothing to do with winning the war literally re-wrote history to the point of excluding the contributions made and names of the people most instrumental in our victory.  Ever heard of William Knudsen?  Neither me.  Point made!

Who should read this book?  EVERYONE, seriously, EVERYONE.  It is a piece of American history I doubt most people are aware of but should be.  Would I read it again?  Probably not since I understand what it implies with the first read.  Would I recommend it to others?  Absolutely!  Would I give it as a gift?  Absolutely!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

School Shootings, an idea

School Shootings
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 19, 2018

Like everyone, I am shocked and depressed over the school shootings that have taken place throughout America.  From a common sense point of view they make absolutely no sense.  One or more people simply shooting defenseless students, teachers and administrative staff is beyond understanding.

What makes even less sense is America’s response to these shootings or should I say lack of response.  The recent shooting in Santa Fe, Texas coincided with my reading Freedom’s Forge by Arthur Herman a book every American should read.  The point of the book is that the Federal Government did not win World War II, it was won not only by the men and women fighting the enemy but just as importantly and maybe even more importantly, it was won by American business and ingenuity in spite of the Federal Government that was more of a hindrance than a help.

We as a country are now faced with a problem – school shootings.  Immediately following these shootings, we see one group after another including the news media immediately turn to the Federal Government for a solution to the problem.  People want people to just do something.  The Federal Government does not work like that.  It rarely does anything that all 535 politicians can ever agree on.  In the case of school shootings it always boils down to one side calling for more gun control (doing away with the Second Amendment) and the other side claiming the problem is not the guns but rather the people using the guns.  As a result, NOTHING ever gets done to solve the problem.  Times passes and the issue fades from the news until the next shooting.

I do not pretend to know the solution to the problem of school shootings but I believe I do know how to achieve that solution and it is taken directly from the pages of Freedom’s Forge.  We have identified the problem – the problem is school shootings.  The question is how do we stop them and protect our students. 

Like most problems, the answers are insurmountable if you only look at the big picture or in this case look to the Federal Government to solve the problem and then we individuals go about our daily lives waiting for the solution to magically appear.  It doesn’t work like that and never will.  To solve most problems, you reduce the problems to smaller increments that then become much easier to solve.  One-by-one the smaller solutions present themselves as the solution to the Big Problem.

Who among us has the solution?  It would be my suggestion that the solution will be begin with those most directly affected and involved – our thousands of school teachers who go to work every day expecting a peaceful day of education for their students and themselves.

I would suggest that EVERY school task EVERY teacher within the school to come up with a list of their best suggestions to secure the safety of everyone within the school.  For example - simple access to the school.  Do the teachers consider their schools safe from unauthorized access by individuals who are not suppose to be there?  If not, what would the teachers recommend being done?  Ask them.  Ask them for 10 of their best solutions regardless of costs.  Then school administrators can compile a list of all the suggestions.  There will certainly be overlapping suggestions so administrators should make a list of the best suggestions and then send them to County/Parish school leadership. 

From all the suggestions submitted by teachers through their school administrators the Country/Parish school leadership compiles a list of the best suggestions and they in turn send them to the State where once again a list of the best suggestions can be formulated and that list sent to the Department of Education in Washington DC.  Eventually some of the best suggestions possible will reach Congress for Congress to take action where only Congress can authorize it.

More importantly, local schools should review the teachers’ recommendations and they should immediately put in place any recommendation within their power and budget to make happen.  Where the budget does not permit something from happen, go to the local community and start a GoFundMe Page if necessary to raise sufficient funds to make it happen sooner rather than later.

If I were a school teacher, I would include in my list of recommendations the following suggestions:

  • Ask local police and fire personnel to conduct an immediate safety assessment of my school and provide a report as soon as possible.
  • Create an internal policy and provide the means by which doors to classrooms are locked once class has begun.
  • Install cameras leading to the outside entrances on all school doors and then have those cameras monitored.  Yes that would require someone to be paid to monitor the cameras.
  • Armed security guards should be placed in every school.  Yes this would require funding but where there is a will, there is always a way.
  • Provide teachers with the type of necklace that you see advertised on television for seniors where they can press a button and an outside agency or at least the school administrators are immediately electronically notified that a problem exists somewhere within the school.  Immediate notification can save lives whether the problem is a fire, an unruly and violent student or a school shooter.
  • In light of how shooters are using Fire Drills as a means to expose more students, Fire Drills should be reexamined to ascertain what is best for students and teachers.

I recently saw where a teacher, imagine that, a teacher invented a simple steel bar that rests alongside and inside each classroom door.  When an emergency exists such as a school shooter, it is a simple maneuver to drop the steel bar down across the door to prevent a shooter from entering a classroom assuming the door open inward.  I also know that in one school district this idea was simply dismissed.  I believe it to be a great idea and therein is a secondary problem – getting agreement on what needs and should be done.  That is why I would propose that before one person or administration is permitted to disregard a possible solution that the negative response should be approved or rejected by the person or organization next up the chain or in other words, it would take two disapprovals for a suggestion to be nixed.

Like so many problems, the problem may be a nationwide issue but the solution will be discovered at the local level.  Yes it may require Federal Government intervention and funding to make some of the changes happen but a lot can be done locally before it must go to Washington for a solution.

Citizens like me do not like paying taxes when we KNOW that a great deal of fraud and waste exists regarding OUR tax money.  But if you give me the opportunity to pay into a fund that I know without any reservations that it would go to improving safety at our local schools, I would be all in as I believe a lot of local citizens would.  Don’t’ include it on some tax proposal, make it voluntary but make it accountable by putting local teachers in charge of how the money is use ONLY for safety improvements like door locks, electronic notification devices, cameras, etc.

There you have it, one person’s suggestion on how to attack school safety and combat school shootings.  What’s yours?