Do You have a Great Idea for America?

It’s time You were Heard!

We believe America’s strength resides within its people. Together we have the creativity and passion to overcome any adversity, reach any goal, and create the life we imagine for ourselves, and our children. There are many paths to happiness, health, and prosperity; and each of us holds the Wisdom for this journey within our minds and hearts.

ShoutOutAmericaNow.blogspot.com is a place for sharing Your Wisdom with like-minded Americans. We Want Your Idea(s) to make our Country a better place for all members. Any Idea, Any Topic, if you believe it will make a difference, then email it to us to share here using the Post YOUR IDEA tab.

We ask that you keep your shared ideas ‘Solution Oriented’, while refraining from comments solely designed to cause harm to another.

We reserve the right not to publish an idea we feel detrimental to the common good. We are all in this life together.

.... Now more than ever we need to all work together to bring about positive change for a brighter future.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Life Partners Inc Nightmare - Undisclosed New Charges

In 1994 we made what we consider now a bad investment. We invested in a Viatical through Life Partners Inc (LPI) out of Waco, Texas. This is essentially purchasing a portion of a life insurance policy on someone who is reportedly terminally ill. Back in 1994 we felt we were helping someone ease their last days with some extra funds, and in return we would receive a dividend on our investment. The Life Partners Inc policy that we invested was to cover a male who according to the Life Partners Inc contacted doctor was given only 6 months to live.

Apparently this gentleman had a medical miracle, or the Life Partners doctor had little knowledge of what he was saying, or the evaluation was done improperly, because lo and behold the gentleman insured by the policy we purchased is fine and healthy today, over 20 years later. While this entire extended process has been a nightmare for us.

In 1994 it was our understanding that our total risk was the loss of our initial $6,000 investment. In fact out original signed paperwork states: "LPI’s fees for all services provided in the performance of its duties shall be complete and inclusive in the policy purchase deposit and the PURCHASER will not incur costs of any type beyond the amount tendered as the policy purchase deposit". It seemed very clear to us from what we were told, and our 'signed paperwork’, that what we were risking was the initial $6,000.

Later when we found out this was not the case, we felt misled and cheated. Life Partners Inc and LPI Financial Services Inc are now billing us for Premium Fees and Platform Service Fee. These fees were never written into the original signed Policy Funding Agreement nor were they disclosed or expected. Life Partners Inc is also not responding to our email and certified letter requesting clarification. We feel we have already lost our $6,000, plus now Life Partners Inc wants us to pay up around $1,500 for these extra fees.

To us, their added fees appear to be a Breach of Contract on their part. We even wonder if in court this is declared a Breach of Contract, if we could recover part of our initial $6,000. For now Life Partners Inc is pursuing us for fees that were never disclosed, and against there own contract that states, “…Purchaser will not incur costs of any type…”. As we are on a fixed income and fighting cancer this makes our lives even more difficult.

We believe this is fundamentally wrong. Unfortunately we do not have the funds to solely take legal action against Life Partners Inc for these $1,500 in erroneous billings; and have not found an attorney who believes in their own abilities well enough to take this case on for a contingency fee.

We would like to hear from anyone who believes Life Partners Inc mistreated them; and from anyone who is considering a lawsuit over these non-disclosed fees… especially the ‘Platform Service Charge’. We would consider combining our efforts and joining in this process.

Please post your comment here, or email us direct at ShoutOutAmericaNow@gmail.com.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Child Health Ignored by Congress

Our US Congress has once again taken the low road, trading children’s health for re-election dollars. Shame on them and us for allowing this to happen. Recently Congress blocked a well-researched proposal by the US Agriculture Department that would have provided a much-needed upgrade to our Country’s School Lunch Program. The new proposal added more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to the lunch menu while reducing the amount of potatoes and salt served. It would also have redefined the concept of a vegetable serving, taking it away from a slice of pizza with a splash of red sauce. Unfortunately Congress acquiesced to big corporation special interest groups led by food companies producing frozen pizzas, the salt industry, and potato growers that spent over $5.6 Million to squash the proposal.

The truly sad part is we are no longer seeing what this is doing to our Country. There’s no other way of saying it; we are fat. Today close to 40% US adults have breached the level of ‘Obese’ causing soaring medical costs and shortening their lives. This number doesn’t even begin to count the number that are pre-obese or just plain ‘overweight’.  Focusing on our youth, there are well over 12,500,000 Obese Children, ages 2-19, in the US and the figures for just overweight children are beyond belief. Speculation is, this may be the first generation to not outlive their parents. All this causes a huge medical and financial toll on America. This year alone over 300,000 will die from Overweight and Obesity related diseases, and well over $147 Billion will be spent on medical procedures and treatment relating to these conditions.

So why did our elected Congress vote to keep American children sick and fat. The party line is that government currently pays a maximum of $2.94 for each lunch served. The changes would have increased the costs by about 14 cents per lunch. This is just too expensive they say. A rather short-sided opinion, when one considers we are spending over $2.2 Trillion on health care each year, and our population is sicker than ever. Do you think just possibly there could be some other more important issues in play?

Currently the average cost for winning a seat in the House is over $1 Million and a Senate race can be Several Million Dollars. In fact it is not unheard of to spend over $10 Million on a Congressional election. Now imagine what happens if you’ve angered a large Lobby Group by voting against one of their pet projects. You might as well pack your bags and move out of office. The sad fact is, it’s impossible to go up against a large political lobby group and survive, but the American people can always be bamboozled if enough money and spin is thrown at a campaign. Heck most voters just follow the policy line from their unions, or vote for the incumbent because they are afraid of change. Then too there are the subsidized crops that may be affected if our children were offered more real vegetables. These include wheat subsidized to $1.7 Billion, corn subsidized to $3.5 Billion, dairy subsidized to $74 Million. Even cheese is promoted by the Department of Agriculture where they created a successful marketing plan to sell pizzas loaded with 40% more cheese. Let’s face it, we have dug a pretty deep hole for our children’s health, and as long as the same people are in office why should we ever believe they will rise to do anything different.

If we are truly concerned about the declining future health in America, there are some hard choices we must take. It starts with changing our own family’s diet to eat more whole (unprocessed) foods and vegetables.

We next need to impose the extraordinary measure of ‘Two Term Limits’ on our Congress and local elected officials. As long as politicians are more concerned with being re-elected, and satiating their own personal needs, they will take the low road. Then we should revamp our election system spending to allow for only a specific number of prepaid public election campaign announcements prior to voting. These two measures will take the power away from special interest groups and big corporations, making our government available to all people. The resulting new diversity will strengthen and enhance our political system and our Country. Politicians may then focus on doing the right thing knowing that re-election is not an option and serving in office is a privilege. Finally if we are going to subsidize agriculture, let’s subsidize organic fruits and vegetables over wheat, corn, dairy, and yes, even tobacco. This will reduce the cost of these healthy foods making them more available to every American, thereby reducing our medical costs while building stronger bodies. To find proof of this claim, simply checkout the movie ‘Forks Over Knives’. You’ll be glad you did.

If you are happy, thrilled with what you see when you look around, then do nothing and stay on the same path. If you believe, as I do, that life could and should be better for all of us, then the time is now to let your voice be heard. If nothing else, let’s do it for our children.

Friday, October 28, 2011

People, Pets, and Trains

They say a society can be judged by how well they treat their animals and pets. In America we collectively have over 78 million dogs and 86 million cats. They are part of our families, often regarded in some small way as our children. These pets work with us, save and extend our lives, keep us safe, and sit on our laps on cold evenings providing comfort and love. They think, solve problems, feel anxiety, and show love. Many believe they exhibit the intelligence of a 2 to 4 year old human.

Pets are part of our families. We enjoy traveling with our pets whenever possible. Recently the hotel industry has taken a positive approach for those of us traveling with pets and made many more accommodations available. Nearly every city has a plethora of quality lodgings available for travelers with pets. Airlines also allow pet travel, and if the pets are small enough they may travel right at your seat. These companies have seen the economic and intrinsic value of allowing pet owners to travel with their cherished companions.

Unfortunately there is still one mode of travel that lingers in the unenlightened ages, specifically Amtrak trains. Don’t you just hate it when good companies throw revenue away? Let’s face it; today should be all about customer service. There have been so many times we would have loved to take a train trip rather than driving or flying, but the option to take our 8 pound Bischon/Maltese, named Makena, is forbidden on Amtrak.

We could fly today with Makena to Europe, and take her extensively throughout country after country on trains. She is quiet, non aggressive, loves everyone, and easily fits in a carrier or large purse; but train travel for her is unthinkable in America thanks to Amtrak’s regulations and monopoly. With over 164 million pets in America, you would think that Amtrak would see the light and open their doors to responsible pet owners.

Our suggestion is that Amtrak begin by allowing well-trained pets fitting standard airplane regulations access to travel on segments under 10 hours of travel time. This in turn would generate extra income for Amtrak by opening trains to many more travelers while providing extra pet fees. Small dogs could travel free or at a minimal charge, and large dogs requiring more space could travel at half the economy fare. Dogs could also be required to be kept in a traveling container and wear a leash. Amtrak might even consider labeling certain train cars as pet friendly, while limiting pet access to other parts of the train.

This proposal makes train travel more accommodating for thousands of Americans, reduces the anguish felt by pets left along, and saves the cost of hiring pet sitters while gone on a trip. It is a simple idea, yet one that will bring a smile to the faces of children, families, and pets across our Country.

Shout Out America Now  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Power Up America

We certainly have gotten ourselves into a pickle relying on oil to power our way of life. Not only are we supporting oil rich regimes that may cause us harm, we may be destroying our children’s future by dumping over 5 million U.S. tons of pollution into the air each day from vehicles we drive. Isn't it about time we did a little real planning for the future?

Conversion from oil will not happen overnight. In the United States there are over 247 million registered passenger vehicles using over 43% of the entire U.S. petroleum consumption. The estimate is that they use over 500 million gallons of gasoline per day, which in turn spews over Five Million U.S. Tons of pollution into the air we breathe every day. What if we could change that picture and become a self-reliant, environmentally conscious Country once again?

Part of the solution is for our government to be more diligent in sponsoring a national conversion away from gasoline vehicles, to electric vehicles, truly efficient hybrids, and alternative propulsion vehicles. Right now there are available electric passenger vehicles that can travel over 60 mph for around 250 miles on a single three to four hour charge. There are better designs coming out on a regular basis. Electric vehicles do take power that can cause pollution under traditional generation methods. One immediate solution for this is to use currently available solar and wind technology to generate enough solar power to run our vehicles. Simply put we build fields of solar and wind power generation plants in underused U.S. areas, and increase our power distribution systems. Of course all of this would require massive labor and a commitment from the American people, that in turn may also help our Country.

Considering the current unemployment situation, we could re-institute the Civilian Conversation Corps for a project of this magnitude. At its peak over 505,000 were employed around the United States in an effort to combat unemployment and improve our Country. The CCC program was a fabulous success. We are still enjoying its benefits today. This would provide the needed labor for the project. Yes we would have to raise some money for this process. We could start by first adjusting the now still fictitious EPA estimated MPG on new vehicles to the actual MPG the end user really receives. Everyone knows the current numbers are 20% to 35% overstated. Then we could apply a fuel/sales tax on any vehicle not achieving over 35 MPG. We could also divert some of our military budget to this project, as oil from less stable countries will now be less important. Finally we could simply ask the American people to contribute. We would be amazed at how the support would flow towards something practical that would better our Country and improve our way of life. Just imagine the united power and creativity of the American people focused on effective positive change rather than wars.

This is the general outline: electric vehicles with fields of solar energy and wind energy making them go. Sounds like a massive undertaking but we could do it in a matter of years. The benefits are enormous; self-reliance, clean air, and clean environment, work for the unemployed, a growing productive economy, and most importantly a common positive goal focusing America on a brighter future. The sad alternative is continued reliance on foreign oil, possible new wars as oil becomes more precious, growing pollution threatening our health and planet, and a spiraling downward economy. What we need now from our elected officials is action, the kind of action, dedication, vision, and innovation that once took us to the moon. What we do not need is another study to skirt the issue, putting it off for the next generation to never resolve. We are at a crucial point in our development as a species, let’s all hope we have the courage to take the actions necessary today to get us through to tomorrow. 

Shout Out America Now

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Two Economic Solutions for America

There is a growing disconnect between our Government and the American People. The American people are increasingly disillusioned or disgusted with our Government, as our Country borders on a double dip recession. Yet politicians continue ineffectually, doing more harm than good, seemingly more interested in personal and political gain than actual solutions. This growing disconnect is threatening the heart and soul of our great Nation, the average American. Left unchecked we may lose the force behind the strength and creativity that built such an amazing Country.

It appears part of the reason there is so much animosity toward elected officials, and the feelings of such apathy and hopelessness in America today, is the sense that no one in a position to do something will listen. Quality, creative ideas pour into the offices of elected officials daily, only to be ignored because they lack massive funding, or voting lobby support. Instead of taking action on these ideas making our Country stronger, the average American is returned an impersonal form letter, touting prior accomplishments and asking for future votes. The time has come for this to change. With the desire to help our Country get back on track, we are presenting two economic proposals for positive change. Our hope is that they will bridge the dangerous and growing gap between the American people and our Government, and that our elected officials will take the necessary steps to make our Country stronger for all people.

There is no doubt we are entangled in an economic housing crisis that is continuing to draw our Country down into an ever-deepening pit. Having been created largely by greedy financial institutions and security traders, recent political fixes such as the Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection Act have only exacerbated the situation. Today the average American finds it extremely difficult to secure any home loan, and thanks to our Government, over 10 Million Americans, with excellent credit and substantial reserves can no longer purchase any home, or even refinance their existing home. We all know there is a huge housing inventory that needs to move, and millions of Americans continue to be unemployed while large corporations and banks store massive reserves. The financial markets continue to position themselves for lucrative profits at the expense of the average American. Unless this situation is changed, we will continue to see growing foreclosures and an ever-widening gap dividing the very rich from our increasingly poor American public.

Proposal #1: We immediately need to get more money to the American public, while reducing their financial burden. Interest rates are the lowest in years but tens of millions of Americans are barred from taking advantage of this resource opportunity because of Government and banking restrictions. To capitalize on this potential resource, and make a decisive positive impact for our economy, our Government should back a Residential Refinance Act.

In a Residential Refinance Act every homeowner with at least three (3) most recent consecutive years of on-time mortgage payments -and- owner occupancy, would be automatically approved for a ‘Rate and Term’ refinance of their current owner-occupied residential home. This Rate and Term refinance could be done as a fast-track existing product, or new Government guaranteed/insured product. Additional lender security for the new loan could be provided at closing through a 1 to 2% mortgage insurance fee based on property loan to value. Credit score, income, and liquid assets are not relevant. The homeowner already owns the home with the existing current mortgage. The Residential Refinance Act just improves the situation. From a current mortgage of $200,000 at 8.0%, a refinance of this nature could be an owner occupant savings of over $500 Per Month. Just think of the immediate economic upturn this would add for our economy.

'Immediate' Benefits:
1) This puts substantial funds into our communities to strengthen the economy.
2) It gives the public more discretionary funds and spending power, thereby creating more jobs.
3) Many homeowners may be saved from foreclosure, thus strengthening our economy,
            • by reducing an owner’s monthly debt burden.
            • by allowing owners to refinance out of problematic adjustable rate loans.
            • by making more cash available to pay other bills.
4) Banks will make money on the new loans, and experience fewer foreclosures with better portfolio security through the addition of new mortgage insurance fees.
5) In essence this concept takes out an insurance policy against a Double Dip Recession and in the long run will put people back to work
6) Best of all… It costs our Government, and the American People, NOTHING.

Proposal #2: We have a housing inventory that needs to move right now, and millions of American workers that need to regain their jobs. To do this our Government should support a true Asset/Credit based Government Backed mortgage loan program.  

Thanks to the Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection Act and other Government restrictions only ‘full doc’ loans are available today. A full doc loan by definition must look at the borrower’s tax return for income verification to qualify for the loan. The problem comes from proper use of our tax code. Self-Employed business owners have over 400 more deductions available than a W2 wage earner because of the nature of their business. Therefore their tax return income, after legal deductions, is often too low to meet ratio guidelines and qualify. You may have excellent credit and funds to outright buy a home but now due to Government regulation if your tax return does not show a specified level of income you cannot get a loan. This situation has removed millions of quality buyers from the housing market destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs in real estate and millions of jobs in finance, construction, manufacturing and other real estate related industries.

Comparing possible Asset/Credit based loans to existing full doc loans it is easy to see why the Asset/Credit based loans would be more secure in the long run than what is currently available. Today there are ‘full doc’ loans with as little as 3% to 5% down payment where the Seller may pay most of the loan closing costs, with a credit scores that are way to low, and requiring reserves of only a few months in savings. In this climate of corporate downsizing and business failures, what are the chances that the wage earning W2 Borrower with the ‘full doc’ loan will be laid off? How long could this ‘full doc’ borrower, with almost no reserves, continue to make mortgage payments if they for any reason were out of work for a protracted basis? How easy do you think it would be for this ‘full doc’ borrower to walk away from a 3% or 5% down payment? Compare this scenario to a proper Self-Employed Asset/Credit based loan with say 25% or more down; with a minimum seasoned credit score above 700, and verified cash seasoned reserves of over 12 to 18 months. You know from the start this Asset/Credit based Buyer has options. They will continue to make payments far beyond when the minimum down, ‘full doc’ Buyer decides to walk.

What we need now is a true Asset/Credit based government backed loan. These loans can be just as secure, if not better, than a ‘full doc’ Conventional or FHA/VA loan. Hard moneylenders have been using this program for years on investment properties with exceptional success. We just need the proper guidelines, and loan oversight. On a government backed Asset/Credit based loan there could be, and should be, mandatory guidelines set with stiff penalties for those underwriting outside the guidelines. There should also be random audits to verify reserve assets, credit scores, and Self-Employment status at time of application performed by someone who has had actual streetwise lending experience. In addition to larger required down payments, there could also be interest rates as much as 1% to 2% higher than current market rates to cover perceived risk factors. Borrowers using these type of funds would easily accept a higher rate if they could just get any type of mortgage loan.

Immediate Benefits:
1) This will put millions of Buyers back into the housing market.
2) It will immediately reduce the existing housing inventory.
3) More new construction jobs would be created.
4) These new mortgage loans will be stronger with larger down payments and higher reserves.
5) The increased interest rates will provide program funding and better security for these loans.
6) Stronger oversight of these loans, and the banking/securities industry, will further reduce the risk of future fraud and problem loans.
7) Best of all… This process will cost our Government, and the American People, NOTHING.

In a recent speech President Obama said, “We need to do something big, something bold”; referring to the current economic crisis America faces today. Presented here are two proposals that work to solve many of our Country’s economic problems without further burdening our Government, or the American people. They clearly are out of the box and designed to “meet the moment”. They free the American people from a financial hostage situation allowing them to use their own creativity and strengths to raise our Country up to new heights of economic security. We could turn the mortgage/financial/housing crisis around in 6 months if we only initiated these two proposals. Now is the time to take real action steps necessary to heal our Country for the benefit of all Americans. To do this we need your help. Send this message out to your elected officials, the media, and anyone else who will listen.

With Sincere Hopes for a Better Future,
Shout Out America Now