America, elections, FaceBook

I was reading several blogs this morning on the subject of social media and the upcoming election. I enjoy reading essays, and books on politics, political science, the histories of famous politicians, our Founding Fathers. And so I write this post under the backdrop that I was just banned from posting for 30 days on FaceBook because I wrote something that went against their “community standards”. I find their “community standards” are based on opinions and that if you fail to lean to the left, your opinion on their site will be silenced or controlled. Banned in the name of “community standards”.

My screenshot from FaceBook. BTW, I posted this on my FaceBook page and they removed it, stating that the content isn’t available right now because the owner only shared it with a small group of people, changed who can see it or it’s been deleted. I did not delete it…

It is here where I would go off on a diatribe about political correctness and “I know it when I see it”.

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_know_it_when_I_see_it

Not to be outdone, but the expression, famously used to describe obscenity, can be used for the characterization of so much more…

I know. You are wondering what I was banned for? Well this banning was for a comment that I made on a FaceBook posting of the seven candidates who are running as Democrats for the 3rd Congressional District of New Mexico. My comment to the posting was “You would have to be stupid to vote for Plame”. She is clearly the Democratic establishment’s candidate, an outsider. My opinion. Outsiders are sending lots of money to her campaign to elect another Pelosi bot who doesn’t care about helping the people of this state. My opinion. We had one for over 10 years and he is now running for the Senate. My opinion. She does not share my views on much of anything. I am not alone in that opinion. Your can read for yourself here (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/us/valerie-plame-new-mexico-congress.html). In my opinion, FaceBook is trying to control free speech and to hell with your own personal opinions.

It is May and I am now banned for 30 days. To be banned means that you cannot comment, post a like or smiley emoji, or post pictures on your feed. You can only look at the feed they direct towards you. The same thing happened to me last year, although I think it took me longer to be banned. I don’t consider what I said was demeaning, and I cannot even remember what the first offense was for 2020 that got me banned for 3 days. The second reason for being banned was just as stupid, which got me banned for 7 days. Now it is 30 days. Did somebody complain because I inferred that they were stupid? I don’t know. Suffice it to say, they control the medium and if you don’t conform to their wishes, their thinking, you pay the price. It is clear to me that they have been silencing fact from fiction, truth and opinion to their way of thinking. You don’t agree with us, you must conform to our community standards. Whatever happened to decency, fair play, truth, justice, the American way! I always find myself looking for the place where I can send an e-mail to the judge so they can tell me my crime, to try to argue why their decision is wrong. I always think ahead when I hit send, knowing that “yea, I’m going to get in trouble for that posting…” The last two have completely blown my mind in terms of what was wrong with what I said. In the last two examples, I did not think that I was going to be banned, Imagine my disdain and anger resulting from the situation. Whatever it was, it went against their “community standards”. The conspiracy theorist in me always goes into overdrive. Many people, absent an understanding of what was wrong, head in that direction. In the end, I chalk it up to too many marshmallows in the world who cannot take anything that is negative. Lest I forget, the employees of FaceBook come from the generation that received participation trophies or were educated and graded on the curve. Our opinions must be checked against emotion.

So maybe it is a good thing that I am banned from FaceBook for 30 days. I get so angry after reading some of the stories that people post as news. I can see where we have become so divided on so many issues. It isn’t just FaceBook that gets me angry, I get that way after actually reading real news, whether it is the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal. Don’t get me started about CBS, CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox News, etc. Lots of the journalism that these organizations once practiced has been lost in the era of political correctness. Some of what I see there goes against my community standards but it never gets banned or blocked. Some of the memes, on both sides of the political spectrum are just so caustic. Not sure if they are created by Russian trolls, Russian bots, or people who actually have a sick or very dark sense of humor. They no longer report news and the story. It is filtered by the opinion of the reporter, or the broadcaster. They never get to the story because it is overtaken by conjecture and opinion, never slanted by the facts, or digging for the truth.

Anyway, I can calm down and spend more time writing on my blog.

There is lots of chaos this election season. Between the coronavirus / COVID19, stay-at-home-restrictions, the phased return to normalcy plans, an economy that went from stellar to depression in a matter of months, this is clearly an important election. I expect to write more as we get close to November on the subject of the election.

With much interest, I read the posting from Krista Stevens entitled “From Russia, With Malice” (https://longreads.com/2020/05/12/from-russia-with-malice/). I would characterize the post as an essay of a larger work by Franklin Foer in The Atlantic on the idea that Russia want to eradicate democracy (https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/putin-american-democracy/610570/), and they’re doing a fine job of it.

The problem, which plays right into the hands of the Russians, is that the United States is already too divided to do much about it. Those are their ideas. They are not my ideas. That said, I must agree with them. My idea would that be no matter how divided we are, I think we would all agree that our democracy is under attack. Our way of life is under attack. And it is from a number of places. Whether it is Russia, China, Iran, or even within our own country. The basic freedoms that we Americans hold dear are under attack. Within our own country, I lump FaceBook, Twitter and Google into the group that is attacking our democracy. I have read many articles where the three social media companies have restricted information, free speech and opinion. Case in point, see above for FaceBook. And while I agree that hate speech, racism, evil, pornography and words that incite riots or endanger people should be controlled, people are educated to make up their own minds and opinions about what is before us. Not government, not corporations. Are we not smart enough to think for ourselves? When did protecting our privacy, which they could do more on, become protecting what we think and say? Probably because they cannot make money off of my opinions.

Of course, the left will blame Trump. The right will blame Democrats who push for socialism. The outsiders will sow discontent on all of the above, pushing stories to fan the flames of either opinion. FaceBook will tout it’s “community standards”. We have lost our will to “agree to disagree”. My opinion may be that your political position is “stupid” and if that offends you, so be it. That was not my intent. I am not trying to sow discord, only debate. It is my opinion and “stupid” is probably your opinion towards me. I’m OK with that. I accept that. Political correctness has reached a new level. We have lost our ability to accept the opinion of others and go out of our way to attach those opinions, and the persons who espouse those opinions. One’s political opinion becomes disinformation for another.

The Tree of Liberty

As I filter through my daily FaceBook feed, I often find articles or comments from readers about a famous quote of Thomas Jefferson. The quote is often associated with an article about gun control. The quote is “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots.“ I find it to be a great quote and clearly it is used by those who favor the 2nd amendment to comment about those who are against it. It is often suggestive of foreshadowing of a new American Civil War in some writings. Some people take their guns, and the rights guaranteed by the 2nd amendment, very seriously. Pretty sure that is not how Jefferson meant it, or that many of modern politicians who quote it, place it in the correct context.

Never really thought about the meaning behind the quote. I like it. It is adequate because I also think the 2nd amendment does not allow the government to infringe upon our rights to have guns, to bare arms. That said, I think that there can be some restrictions. I do not need to own an F15 with sidewinder missiles. That said, I understand that Joe Biden plans to send F15’s with bombs and missiles to take my guns away if elected. Not gonna happen! And to be honest, I wish all cars were equipped with sidewinder missiles to allow me to control my road rage by just simply removing bad drivers on the road.

Today’s post is my first in 2020. I have been very negligent about writing in the new year. Funk and frustration still abound me each and every day. Most of my writing and reading of late has been work related. Doubt they will ever get posted here. OK, maybe one, but we shall save that for another time. This first post of 2020 is not about guns, whether you are for or against. Yes, it probably is something about politics, but I’m not going to say “Go Trump” or “let’s burn Bernie”. I’ll save those for another time too.

Tonight, I came home from work, having experienced what was a bad day to a totally unproductive week. On my Facebook page, I posted the following:

It wasn’t the post that got me thinking about the Jefferson quote. It was what I did next…

Yes. After a long and stressful day at the end of a long and stressful week, I poured myself some bourbon. Just one. No more than two fingers. Over a little ice. Tasted great as I pondered the day and made dinner for myself and the kids. The bottle has Thomas Jefferson on the back. That is what got me thinking about the Jefferson quote. And not so much about the quote, but where did it come from? What did it mean?

I actually have a nice book collection and one of my books is a collection of Writings by Thomas Jefferson. It took awhile, but I was able to find that the quote is embedded in a letter written to William Smith in 1787 about the New Constitution and to “endeavor to shew civilities to all the Americans who come here…” Jefferson was in Paris in 1787, trying to negotiate new commerce treaties between European countries and our young republic. Smith we come to understand is the son-in-law of John Adams. The letter then goes on to talk about the “lies about our being in anarchy”. It then briefly covers Massachusetts and the rebellion, the forerunner of death to the public liberty and what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit or resistance?

Paris Nov. 13. 1787. Extract from Thomas Jefferson letter to William Stephens Smith
The New Constitution

…the people can not be all, & always, well informed. the part which is wrong [. . .] will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. if they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. we have had 13 states independant 11 years. there has been one rebellion. that comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. what country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? let them take arms. the remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. what signify a few lives lost in a century or two? the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. it is it’s natural manure…

It ends with a discussion of the new Constitution. That new constitution was the Articles of Confederation. Jefferson did not like the Articles, based upon other readings, his letter to Smith was to declare his opposition to the governmental structure that the Articles created. State’s power over the federal government. The Articles were drafted by James Madison. The rebellion that he speaks of is not the American Revolution. Rather it is the Shay’s Rebellion, an armed uprising in Western Massachusetts in opposition to a debt crisis among the citizenry and the state government’s increased efforts to collect taxes both on individuals and their trades; the fight took place mostly in and around Springfield during 1786 and 1787. We find out that the problems of a weak national government eventually led to the end of the Articles of Confederation and led to a Constitutional Convention.

We also find through other readings that Madison and Jefferson were friends. Madison was the major architect of this new Constitution (influenced by Jefferson); Madison is the father of the Bill of Rights, and one of the strongest proponents of the rights of religious liberty in America; the co-author of The Federalist and a founder of the Democratic-Republican Party in the 1790s. This party later evolved into the modern Democratic Party, but more resembles today’s Republican Party. This is because both Jefferson and Madison favored a limited role for government.

The Constitution of the United States

Natural manure. It ties nicely with Ruby, our horse. From guns, to a crappy day, to drinking some good bourbon, to a history lesson. What a great way to start my new year with a new posting on TheMcKeeSpot. Many themes developed here, all worthy of more detail in a later posting.

Divorce, debt, and diatribe

It’s that time of the month where I sit down to pay the bills and track my budget and figure out financially where I am going in the coming year. Before my divorce, I was very frugal. No credit card balances to speak of. No outstanding debts except a mortgage. It was save, save, save. Emergency fund. Savings for college for the kids. Check. Savings for a beach house. Yep, it’s what the family wanted. Savings for retirement. Planned to work to age 52. Everything was on track.

See the source image

Then it came all crashing down. I managed to keep my retirement account untouched in our amicable, negotiated settlement. But I managed to pick up massive debt. Rent became a new mortgage. Child support became half of my paycheck and yet I had the kids half of the time. A personal loan to cover expenses incurred during my divorce. Lost significant savings. My doldrums that I encountered during the divorce were handled by some extravagant spending on trips, on stuff, on junk. No control. No problem, just charge it. New furniture for a house. Buy whatever the kids wanted. LEGO’s and horse things, fish and birds and guinea pigs. Exercise equipment to better myself. Books to read, learn to play the guitar, eat better food, drink better wine. Bourbon and scotch. Hobbies. I literally found myself in debt.

Now, as I stand on the precipice of retirement, I find myself still digging myself our of that debt. Granted, I am probably better off than most Americans. A good paying job. A 401k and pension for retirement. A roof over my head. Not living paycheck to paycheck. Yet there it is. DEBT.

See the source image

So here I am this Sunday morning after Thanksgiving, paying my bills. No, I am not thankful for that debt. I am thankful that I can manage it. Started looking at the interest rates that are charged for monthly balances. My Chase Freedom Card carries an interest rate of 13.99%. They calculate it by taking the prime rate and then add their costs on top. The Wall Street Journal carries the prime rate, which is currently listed at 5.25%. From the internet, I learned that the prime interest rate, or prime lending rate, is largely determined by the federal funds rate, which is the overnight rate that banks use to lend to one another. Also, it is stated that the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee, which is comprised of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks) has voted to lower the. target range for the fed funds rate to 2.00% – 2.25%.

So JP Morgan Chase charges me 8.74% to use their money when I charge something to my credit card and then carry a balance. Wow! My local bank pays me 0.10% for what I save in my savings account, and less for my checking account. It’s much worse when I look at my American Express Delta SkyMiles card. There the rate is 21.99%. A whopping 16.74% to use their money. It was my Amex card that just started me on this rant this morning. My annual fee was being increased to $99 a year. That’s $99 just to carry the card, get some frequent flyer miles if I use it. All of this for the luxury to not pay to travel with one bag on an airline. Not really sure if it is worth. I think that I can leave home without it.

Why so much for using their money? Well, the are a business. They need to make a profit. They have millions of credit cards in use. They get paid every time I use their card. And if I carry a balance, they get paid again by charging me interest. By my math, that is between 8 and 16%. Sweet if you can get it for your savings account. Some people pay them off every month. Some do not. Some incur large debts and then just don’t pay them. Guess that means that those of us who honor our debts are also paying for theirs. Why should I pay for someone else? I have my family to keep.

As a business, they have shareholders, including myself. I like my stock price to go up, my dividends to increase. After all, I need my 401k to cover me when I retire. They have employees who have families just like me. They have CEO’s who make ridiculously large salaries. I am not picking on Jamie Dimon; he certainly works hard for his money and has added value to his company. JP Morgan made $31,500,000,000 profit in 2018. Jamie Dimon got a 5% raise in 2018, and made a salary of $31,000,000. Now if you were like me, my raise was less than 2%. No bonus, no stocks, no performance-based variable incentive compensation. Jamie’s salary was a base salary of $1.5 million and a “performance-based variable incentive compensation” of $29.5 million, split as $5 million of that in cash, and $24.5 million in the form of “performance share units”, a fancy word for extra shares of stock. I could not find how much Jamie personally donated to charity in 2018, but I know JP Morgan Chase donated millions.

I don’t necessarily begrudge Mr Dimon for his money. There are others who do, like Elizabeth Warren. She is running for President. She has a plan, and as near as I can tell, a tax for everything. She wants to expand government into everything. In 2018, Warren made about $325,000 from book sales in addition to her $175,000 salary from the Senate. Her husband was paid about $400,000 from Harvard. Explains why it is so expensive to go to college. The couple paid about $46,000 last year for a solar energy installation on their home in Massachusetts, and received about $15,000 in tax credits, and they donated more than $50,000 to charity. All told, the Warren’s paid more than $200,000 in taxes on about $900,000 in income last year, based on their tax returns. By my math, they made about $100,000 on investment income. Don’t worry, Joe Biden did better. Can’t say that about Donald Trump. Yet we know that he took no salary and did not release his tax returns.

See the source image

So as it is now 24 shopping days before Christmas, it’s time to go shopping. No iPhone 11 for me or the kids, the iPhone 6 works just fine. No trip to someplace warm for the holidays. It’s currently 22 and with snow on the ground. No Black Friday. No Cyber Monday for me. Just gather up my kids lists and then off we go. Soon we will have another Star Wars movie in the theaters. Then it will be tax time and another election.

Sunday ramblings

Today is Sunday August 4. Spent the better part of the past 3 days contemplate my future. In the background is the Fox News broadcast “Life, Liberty & Levin”. I seldom watch the news on TV, but there wasn’t anything else worth watching. The platform is a question and answer session, which is better than many of the talking heads from both sides of the political spectrum. The subject is a discussion about the second Cold War with Niall Ferguson. It entails an economic war as opposed to a military conflict, but that the long view is that China will win because they take a long-term view and that our political system will rive change and we will loose site on the long term. Interesting conversation. I have long found that the interface between economics and history/politics interesting. If I had been smarter, perhaps I could have made a career in the field.

Daughter leaves for the US Pony Club National Championships central region. The competition is in Colorado this year, which is a 6 hour trip near Denver. Son and I will stay home to keep the stress down. I wish her luck in all of the events that she is competing in. Hopefully she will remain n the horse and finish. Both she and Ruby have been practicing hard the past several weeks. She will be competing in show jumping and eventing.

Friday I managed to visit with my financial guy to review my status on the path towards retirement. While I am on tract, I have a few areas to clean up. The discussion covered numerous areas beyond just focusing on 401k balances, debt, and what I plan to do after retirement. Of course, plans are always subject to change. Given the current political climate, I am concerned that much could change and destroy my plans and my future.

Then of course, we had another weekend of a lone gunmen and mass killings. I am pro gun and believe that guns don’t kill people, rather people kill people. That said, I have no problems with background checks, licenses and insurance much like one has for an automobile, keeping automatic guns out of the hands of people, and mental health. You need to keep guns out of the hands of some people. The issue then becomes how. You also need to acknowledge that if people want to harm others, they will. I get a check up annually as far as my mental health as required for my job and my employer. Sadly, I am afraid that the increases in gun killings recently has more to do with the declines in our society and it’s values, the fact that we continue to lesson the value of human life. This is in opposition to those who subscribe to a theory that the increase is associated with the number of guns available.

There is much hate these days, and it surfaces on social media often. Politically, we are divided as a nation and it shows in many areas. I will have more to say about these topics as we continue on the journey of this blog.

Politics…take 2

Started writing an entry about politics three days ago. That is why I have titled this entry as take 2. Didn’t publish the original entry because it needs work.

Coming up are two days of Democratic Party debates. I won’t be watching. Frankly I am tired of all the talking heads and candidates. They have no values. Fox News is on in the background as I write this, and they are harping on the dark state and the crimes not being investigated by the House and Senate. Not really listening because they are equally disappointing. Instead we have an investigation on Russian collusion round 2. There was none. Get a grip and move on. People are literally dying because of all of the inaction by our elected officials focused on non-issues.

America was at one time a better place. Compromise was the norm and America was better off in solving issues. Nobody got everything they wanted and this is good. It is now going down the toilet rapidly. The press are no longer independent. They are letting their opinions become the news.

Understand that I am not a fan of Trump. He is a disgusting human being and fails to carry himself in the stature that the office deserves. In the last election, I voted for Gary Johnson. He was a great two-term governor for the state of New Mexico. That said, I can get behind a number of the policies that Trump tries to enact. I wish he would stop Tweeting. If he wants to get his point out, go to the Press Room daily and say it. Take the heat, be a man, and get on with it. That’s is leadership.

Conversely, the democrats have an understanding of the issues that concerns many Americans. They are so irresponsible in helping the average citizen because they don’t view it as important. However, their policy remedies will not fix the problems. Instead they will exasperate the problems. As the Federal Government has turned up the spigot to support education and health care, the costs continue to go up. The backstop of the Federal Government and the unlimited printing press will make sure this will continue. You doubt the connection? Just look at housing and those issues. Two NGO’s are essential in the ability of many to get a mortgage. They contributed to the Great Recession. People and families were ruined.

I’m sorry but allowing them to forgo paying back the money is wrong. Do they loose their degrees? I borrowed money for College. I paid my own way through school. I worked my way through school. I had student loans and paid them off over time when I had found a job. Yes I have health insurance and have seen how families struggle to solve those financial issues. The fix to healthcare costs is not a Medicare-for-all solution. It is to get away from treatment (drugs) and spend more on prevention. An annual physical, check up, tests are the way to reduce the costs when something is found early instead of when it is too late, or too expensive to cure. And it’s not just your physical health. Many of the tragedies we see on the news may have never happened if we expanded mental health care.

Sadly, I expect that next year will have a reversal followed by four more years of the same. Nothing will be accomplished, nothing will change. Our elected officials are unwilling (unable) to do what is necessary to help the American people. Stay tuned. More to follow.

Ramble On

I was thinking that today I could sleep in and have a relaxing weekend. Did not happen. Awake at my usual time. Start today off early and right. Ain’t going to happen. Son is sound asleep. Dog is typical crazy… ”where is my morning walk”? Daughter has a riding competition today and as usual, up late rushing to prepare, now tired and grumpy. “Do you have my show shirt”? “It was in my dirty clothes basket”. “ The white one that is stained and dirtied”? On and on. Ding goes the phone as she texts me from her mothers house.

Yesterday was flag day. I didn’t hang my flag. Why? Too busy running around? Work, school camp for son, old age, tired? Realized that yesterday was the first day in four weeks that I did not write. Not because I forgot, or didn’t have anything to write about. I guess it was the understanding that only one person visited my blog yesterday. Should I worry that only one person visited? Subjects boring? Maybe. Slow day? Better things on line to read? Probably. Not really advertising that it is out there, bearing my sole for all to read, to laugh, to comment on. Dammit I paid money for this site and the experience, and have made the commitment to see where it takes us.

Leaves are falling all around
It’s time I was on my way
Thanks to you I’m much obliged
For such a pleasant stay
But now it’s time for me to go
The autumn moon lights my way
For now I smell the rain
And with it pain
And it’s headed my way
Ah, sometimes I grow so tired
But I know I’ve got one thing I got to do
Ramble on
And now’s the time, the time is now
To sing my song
I’m goin’ ’round the world, I got to find my girl
On my way
I’ve been this way ten years to the day
Ramble on
Gotta find the queen of all my dreams...

from Ramble On by Led Zeppelin as determined from a Google search. It is important to acknowledge the words and ideas of others. In the internet age, I am not sure how this is best accomplished. Probably not as simple as a reference in a journal article. Add that to my list of things I need to learn to keep me out of trouble.

Yet as I sit here and type away, sounds of Led Zeppelin ‘s “Ramble On” are running through my head. Literally and figuratively. Maybe my blog is more of a journal and I am trying to capture my life’s experiences in it. The past, the present, the future? Something for posterity when I’m gone and my young kids have something to remember me by? Earlier this week in the morning coffee cabal, we were in fact talking about “here today, gone tomorrow”. However the subject included former managers at work, one hit wonders in the music industry, and other things. Including our own immortality, which quickly transitioned into “why are we here, what mark will we leave on the next generation of employees that we have hired”? Are we renaissance men or renegades? Probably more like geeks.

Sorry. Took a break to get clothes out of the washing machine. Wow! How many pants does my daughter need for riding? Why is the dog going crazy? Yes, I am composing this on real time, on the fly. Sun is up, dog still wants walk. Now going through my head is that image of putting the needle of a record player on a record, no not Led Zeppelin II, and the screech of the needle just going across the record. That sound of I just ruined the vinyl album.

Subject, subject, subject… for now, this is a blog. As time progresses, I expect it to morph into a website with a blog at its center. But that, I am sure is farther down the road. Opinion, commentary, the daily story, things rambling on in my head? Life as a single dad? Retirement? Investing? Hobbies? Kinda rehashing similar topics in my earlier post “My story, or is it?”.

I have given some thought about writing the Sunday post as a weekly wrap up of the past weeks writings, or a summary of what happened the past week. Could go on for hours about politics, news, world and local events. However, I think those topics turn most people off. I enjoy them and like talking about them. Like I could go on and on about the twenty four libtards running for President, or our current President who certainly has broken the mold but is really unpresidential in his behavior, and actions, and such. Government is suppose to help us solve our problems, not be the problem. Unfortunately, both sides of the aisle are the problem. The spirit of compromise that is necessary for democracy is dead. Is democracy dead in America?

Son bellows out his breakfast wishes. Dog wants in. The dog wants out. That’s my queue to end it here, edit and post. Until next time, “ramble on”.

Rip off

Last night, as I was reading posts on Facebook, I came across an advertisement for the LEGO Millenium Falcon. It was the 7451 piece set that I commented on in a post the other day (Explore Space Create History). The problem is that the company only wanted $49.95 for it. Odd since the LEGO catalogue had it for $799.

The website link had several pictures of the item. It was the same LEGO item. It even had the same catalogue number. The box even had the Disney logo on the lower corner. But LEGO wasn’t on the box in the photo. I commented that it was probably a knockoff. A short time later a man from Hong Kong commented that it was not a LEGO product. Obviously a blatant rip-off for profit.

I reported the matter to Facebook. If I understood their site, they have a policy that basically doesn’t hold them liable for many copyright and trademark issues in the buying and selling of things. I guess it is ok to sell fraudulent items but it’s not ok to comment on certain things that impact their community rules. Not surprising since they don’t make money if you call somebody a bad name, suggest that a government official should be hung, or note that the B52’s should be locked and loaded to address issues. They just ban you for a period of time. (A story for another time, but I think I’m up to 30 days now). Not that my complaint mattered, or did it? By morning, my conversation with the man from Hong Kong was erased, my links to the web site were gone, and the company was advertising fashion items. Not sure who did all of that!

Since my kids and I love LEGO products, I also reported it to LEGO by e-mail. They responded about 10 hours later and thanked me for the information, commenting that they are constantly searching the internet for knock off products. Their legal department is looking into my information.

Now this post will probably strike a cord with some, as it ventures into politics, vis-a-via the current trade issues between the United States and China. In my opinion in this matter, it was obvious that a Chinese company tried to rip off a foreign company. Copyright, trademark infringement and patent protection are important in economics. The ideas that people generate should be protected. Other people should not be allowed to take someone else’s ideas and profit from it. If I had to guess, I bet that since they didn’t put LEGO on the box that they were not ripping off LEGO.

This isn’t the first time that I have seen this. Hasbro had the Avengers Thanos glove with the Infinity stones that light up. I think that it was possible to buy knock offs of that glove on another shopping website before Hasbro actually shipped it. I know because my son got one of the cheap knock-offs that was rendered useless in the first week. Shipped directly from China. I guess that the bottom line is buyer beware.