How Ronald Reagan Destroyed America.

For many Americans, Ronald Reagan was a great president who reawakened and re-energized the nation as exemplified by the “Morning in America” commercials created by some of my friends. They even credit him for ending the Cold War. But the credit more accurately belongs to Gorbachev.

To me, Reagan will always be the person who used a hostage crisis to win election and who turned Americans against their own government by portraying it as the enemy. And that’s only the beginning of his negative impact on the US.

He famously ran up deficits and tripled the national debt. He flipped the economy upside-down with his Trickle Down theory of economics leading to extreme inequality in income, wealth and opportunity. Under Reagan, we saw the end of national usury laws making it possible for national banks to evade interest rate caps leading to interest rates of 18%, 30%, 40% and more. At the same time, Reagan took away the tax deductions for interest paid by middle class and poor Americans on auto loans, credit cards and other personal loans. One result, as evidenced by a new Institute for Policy Studies Inequality briefing paper by Bob Lord, is that the taxes paid by America’s billionaires have decreased 79 percent since 1980!

Known by some as the “Father of Globalization”, Reagan’s economic and trade decisions led to the offshoring of high-paying American jobs. As he embraced multinational corporations, he attacked the labor unions – the very organizations that created our middle class by fighting for living wages, healthcare benefits and safe working environments.

The Reagan administration supercharged the era of corporate consolidations and legalized stock buybacks for corporate executives. Those decisions led to multi-million-dollar annual compensation for corporate executives, inflated stock prices, and mass layoffs of workers.

And though Reagan criticized Carter for the capture of US embassy workers in Tehran, he was responsible for the deaths of 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers who were killed on his watch after he sent them to Beirut with no plan of engagement. He waged war on the island nation of Grenada – yes, Grenada – for aligning with Cuba. He also circumvented congressional oversight by creating a shadow government that illegally sold weapons to Iran in order to finance death squads in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

And maybe Reagan’s worst decision of all was to call for the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine that led to the likes of Fox News Channel, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, and a host of others who have used hate, sensationalism and an avalanche of lies to divide us. I believe you can draw a direct line from that decision to Donald J. Trump and the most corrupt, conniving, inept and hateful administration in US history.

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Ironically, in the age of information, our nation has been compromised by lies and disinformation as never before.

Decades of consolidation, short-term thinking, corporate greed, extreme political ideologies, and poor leadership have left our nation’s economy, healthcare system and its citizens unnecessarily vulnerable.

Many of the decisions that led us to this point were made in good faith. Some were dictated by difficult situations. But others were made willfully and knowingly, their true purpose and their all-too predictable results hidden in a fog of falsehoods and lies. This book attempts to cut through the misinformation to examine the problems, explain how they happened and reveal the truth.

Trump’s Broken Promises. (Part One – The Economy)

The Trump White House is fond of sending out emails and Tweets stating “Promises Made. Promises Kept.” Certainly Trump has kept a few of his campaign promises. But let’s look at Trump’s promises about the economy. You’ll see that the promises broken far outnumber those kept. Here are just a few:

Deficit and Debt: Trump promised to eliminate the federal deficit and reduce the debt. He hasn’t. The deficit is expected to reach $1 trillion for 2020 and the debt has soared to more than $23 trillion. And, recently, he was recorded saying that the debt doesn’t matter because “I won’t be here when it blows up.”

GDP Growth: Trump promised he would grow the GDP by 4 percent per year and maybe more. The reality is that the GDP has grown at a rate of approximately 2 percent per year – a growth rate lower than all but the first years of the Obama administration.

Trade Deals: Trump promised he would negotiate better deals with China, Canada and Mexico. Instead, he started a trade war with China passing the cost of tariffs onto US consumers. His trade war also forced many US farmers into bankruptcy despite $16 billion in subsidies that have mostly benefited the richest farmers.

Taxes: Trump promised he’d cut taxes giving the average US family a $4,000 annual pay raise. Instead, he cut taxes for corporations and the very wealthy. 53 percent of all Americans will see their taxes rise.

Tax Loopholes: Trump promised to close tax loopholes such as the “carried interest” loophole for private-equity managers, hedge fund managers, and real estate partners. He hasn’t. Indeed, his tax bill provides additional loopholes for…wait for it…real estate developers.

Infrastructure: Trump promised to invest $1 trillion in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. But, after his tax cut and increase in military spending, there’s no money left for infrastructure.

Outsourcing Jobs: Trump promised he would stop companies from shipping jobs overseas. Instead, Trump is subsidizing companies that export jobs. As a result, the off-shoring of jobs for some major US manufacturers has reached record numbers.

Coal Jobs: Trump promised to bring back jobs in the coal industry. He hasn’t. Even after he relaxed pollution restrictions on coal mining and coal power plants, the number of coal-related jobs has remained steady.

Steel Jobs: Trump promised to protect American steel jobs so he imposed tariffs on foreign-made aluminum and steel. The tariffs protected some jobs. But our industries must now pay more for the materials, which has threatened jobs in other industries, such as auto manufacturing and construction. And the additional cost is passed on to consumers and taxpayers. It has been estimated that 400,000 jobs may be lost as a result of the tariffs.

Winning: Trump promised that we would all get tired of so much winning under his leadership. And, though the economy has grown under Trump, it has grown at a slower rate than under his predecessor. Likewise, fewer jobs have been created under Trump and the important employment-to population-ratio has slowed since Trump took office. At the same time, income and wealth inequality have accelerated as a result of the Trump tax cuts. Indeed, those of us who are not among the top 1 percent have not experienced a lot winning.

Given that the Washington Post fact-checkers have determined that Trump has made 16,241 false or misleading claims since taking office, it should come as no surprise that he has broken many of his campaign promises.

Donald Trump By The Numbers.

19,252 – number of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee in 2016
50,000 – number of emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair
2.7 million – number by which Trump lost the popular vote in 2016
71,000 – total number of votes by which he won the electoral college
272 – number of known contacts between the Trump team and Russian operatives
2 – number of women illegally paid to keep quiet about their extramarital affairs with Trump
40 million – funds that disappeared from Trump inaugural committee
25 million – amount Trump was ordered to pay for his Trump University scam
2.8 million – charity funds misused for Trump’s political campaign
21 – number of Trump associates who have been convicted or have pleaded guilty (UPDATED WITH ROGER STONE’S CONVICTION)
86 – number of Trump properties purchased by Russians for $109 million
3,540 – number of times Trump’s name appears in Panama Papers documenting offshore tax shelters
19 – number of women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct
13 – age of a young woman when she claimed to be raped by Trump
10 – instances of obstruction of justice listed in the Mueller report
69,550 – number of refugee children held in detention centers during 2019
5,000 – number of refugee children taken from parents and placed in cages (UPDATED)
2 – number of refugee children who have died in US custody for lack of medical attention
0 – amount of money Mexico has paid for the wall
12 billion – dollars paid to subsidize farmers as result of Trump trade war
2.5 – percentage of economic growth under Trump which is a continuation of the growth rate under Obama
1.9 – percentage of economic growth expected for rest of Trump’s term
68 – number of members of the Trump administration who have left (the highest turnover in history)
1 million – number of additional jobs created under Obama than under Trump
4 million – number of Americans who have lost access to health care under Trump
3.6 million – number of Americans who would lose food stamps under new Trump rule
11,000 – number of Kurds who died fighting ISIS
347 – number of Kurdish allies killed following Trump’s ordered military withdrawal from northern Syria
1.1 trillion – federal deficit for 2020
1.5 trillion – tax revenue lost over 10 years as a result of the Trump tax cuts
6 – percentage of corporate tax savings going to workers
56 – percentage of corporate tax savings going to shareholders
20 trillion – national debt when Trump took office
+23 trillion – national debt as of November 1, 2019
106 – percentage of national debt to GDP under Trump
13,400 – number of lies told by Trump as of November 1, 2019
5 – percentage of statements made by Trump as president that are factually correct
224 – number of Trump golf trips as of November 1, 2019
+110 million – cost of Trump’s golf trips to taxpayers
+840 million – dollars owed by the Trump campaign to cities for Trump’s 2020 campaign rallies as of November 1, 2019
250 million – amount of military aid for Ukraine held hostage by Trump to obtain dirt on a political opponent
2 – number of US presidents who have been impeached before Trump

Are Rural Americans Treated As Unfairly As They Believe?

Those living in rural America have long held a “woe is me” attitude. They claim that they are unfairly treated by “urban elites.” They believe our government favors those who live in the cities – that most of their taxes go towards the building of urban freeways and what they perceive as unwarranted welfare assistance for “inner city residents”, i.e. people of color.

Certainly, there are misunderstandings on both sides. Too often, movies and televisions shows have portrayed rural Americans as country bumpkins. And some of those living in coastal cities consider the rest of America “flyover” country. Yet the truth is that rural Americans have advantages that all but the wealthiest of urban Americans don’t. And, if they ever took the time to look at statistics, they’d be in for a rude awakening.

For example, it has long been documented that the cost per capita of building and maintaining roads in rural areas is far greater than in large cities. So, too, is the cost of building and maintaining electric lines and communications. The cost of living in rural areas is far lower than in cities. And, though many rural states contribute less federal revenue than others, they receive more in benefits. In descending order, MS, LA, TN, MT, KY, MO and SD are the states that rely most on federal aid. Most of these are rural. And, when it comes to politics, most of them are bright, bright red.

Those living in the least populous states also have disproportionate representation in the Senate and the electoral college. For the most part, the sea of red you saw on the electoral map following the 2016 election was more a representation of geography than voters. There were nearly 3 million more votes for the Democratic presidential candidate. And there were more than 6 million more votes for Democratic Senate candidates. Yet Republicans took control of both the White House and the Senate. That’s because of a growing disparity in the population of states. For example, people in Wyoming now have 4 times the representation in the electoral college as those living in California. And the votes of those living in Vermont and North Dakota count far more than the votes of those living in New York and Florida.

Instead of one person one vote, in rural states, one person has the equivalent of two, three or four votes!

Is it any wonder then that politicians pander to those in rural areas? Why Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have disproportionate sway in our electoral process? Why farmers have received subsidies during Trump’s trade war and others affected – particularly those in cities – have not? Of course, the farm subsidies are nothing new. And American farmers are not the only ones who benefit. A recent report states that, worldwide, farming subsidies add up to roughly $1 trillion or approximately $1 million per minute! Of those, US farmers receive about $50 billion a year, not including the $28 billion in subsidies that have resulted from Trump’s trade war with China.

Yet, despite the subsidies and electoral advantages, many rural Americans continue to struggle financially. That’s because half of the annual farm subsidies are received by farmers making $100,000 or more per year. And the top 10 per cent receive 77 percent of the subsidies. There is little real benefit for smaller farmers and small town merchants. More disturbing, the subsidies often result in the destruction of forests and wetlands. They exacerbate pollution of streams and oceans. And they often encourage over-production, which drives down the prices of crops, which, in turn, encourages even more production.

Moreover, there are no such subsidies to supplement the incomes of small retailers and other small businesses in urban areas. No subsidies to protect them from the effects of governmental decisions as there are for farmers and large corporations.

The truth is, many of those living in rural areas enjoy advantages their urban brothers and sisters do not. And while they complain that the “urban elites” don’t understand their problems. They have little understanding of the problems faced by the urban homeless and the millions who are working in expensive cities for minimum wage and struggling to make ends meet. For instance, it now takes two-and-a-half full time jobs at minimum wage to afford a one-bedroom apartment in most cities.

Instead of using their outsized voting clout to elect politicians who will actually improve their situation, rural Americans tend to believe those who blame their problems on immigrants, minorities and others. But, until they reject the politics of fear and hatred, their situation is unlikely to improve.

Destruction Of The US. (Part Seven – Income Disparity)

For several decades, we’ve heard about growing income inequality. I believe that is a poor description of the problem. It’s more about income disparity. Since there are differences in education, capabilities and cost of living, incomes cannot and should not ever be equal. As a nation, the US may occasionally struggle with recessions and unemployment which can be mitigated by government policies. But no one – NO ONE – who works a full-time job should be paid less than a living wage!

The current situation is unreasonable and unsustainable. And it is almost entirely the result of political decisions made to benefit corporations and the very wealthy – the people who really control our government through lobbying and campaign donations.

As productivity has continued to rise; as more highly-paid workers have been replaced by robots; as more workers toil in minimum wage jobs, corporate CEOs have seen their compensation dramatically rise. So, too, have stock traders on Wall Street. Indeed, the people at the top of every company have never done better. Never mind that they are profiting on the suffering of their employees and the largess of taxpayers. For example, Walmart is notorious for paying many of its employees minimum wage. To help compensate those employees, Walmart helps them apply for government welfare programs paid for by taxpayers. At the same time, Walmart accepts corporate welfare in the form of government infrastructure assistance and tax relief, again paid for by taxpayers.

It is because of this system that the owners of Walmart – the Waltons – have become one of the world’s richest families.

Another reason for the increasing disparity is the decades-long attack on labor unions and collective bargaining. Republican-led legislatures have routinely voted to make their states “right to work” states (i.e. non-union states). And they have passed laws making it increasingly difficult for workers to organize. As a result, they have effectively ended collective bargaining in those states. Wages for ordinary working people have stagnated. Benefits such as health insurance and dental plans have been weakened or eliminated altogether at the same time health care costs have exploded. A recent study found that the cost of family health insurance now exceeds $20,000. Those who are unable to afford quality health insurance are one medical emergency away from bankruptcy as documented in 2017 when there were more than 767,000 bankruptcies due to illness and medical bills.

The US is the only nation in the developed world where this happens!

Additionally, many US corporations and employers have reduced or eliminated retirement and savings plans for their employees. Consequently, the median savings for an American family in 2016 was just $7,000. And many households have no savings at all. Far too many Americans are forced to work multiple jobs to survive. Even then they often struggle from paycheck to paycheck.

Is it any wonder that the number of homeless in the US has grown?

Those in professional jobs are not immune to the growing disparity. Teachers with advanced degrees make so little money in some states that their families actually qualify for food assistance. Yet they’re still expected to pay back the student loans they accumulated while obtaining the required degrees – loans that can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It’s true that American workers will never realize financial equality with business managers and owners. But they shouldn’t have to watch those people buy mansions, vacation homes and yachts while they struggle to put food on their tables.

Why You Should Really Want Immigrants To Have Health Care.

Who raises and picks the produce you eat? Who works in slaughterhouses and butchers the meat you eat? Who cooks your food when you dine in restaurants? Who washes the dishes? Who cleans the tables? Who serves your food?

Immigrants, that’s who!

That’s because immigrants are willing to do the jobs that few American citizens are willing to do. They are the only ones who are willing to perform back-breaking work for long hours at minimum wage. Yet, despite the fact that most of these immigrants pay taxes – including payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare – they do not have access to affordable health care. Moreover, if they are undocumented, they are now afraid to show up at a hospital or clinic for fear of being apprehended by ICE. That’s especially true following the recent raids of Mississippi chicken processing plants.

Now think about that for a minute. The people who handle your food are as likely as you to contract a contagious disease while riding to work, while shopping at WalMart, or while attending church. (They are, after all, human.) But unlike you, most are unable to see a doctor when they get sick. And given the threat of being arrested and deported, they are afraid to seek help when they contract a cold, the flu or any of the myriad of contagious diseases. And, since they are paid minimum wage or less, they can’t even afford to take a day off.

What could possibly go wrong?

And, if that’s not enough to make you reconsider our treatment of immigrants, consider this: Their children are enrolled in the same public schools as yours. They attend the same classes; play the same sports; swim in the same pools. That means any diseases that go untreated in their homes are likely to end up in your home.

So go ahead, treat them as criminals. Deny them green cards. Deny them a living wage. Deny them health care benefits. Make sure they can’t take time off to recover from an illness. Make them afraid to seek medical care. Push them further and further underground. Just remember: When they get sick, you’re likely to get sick, too.

Of course, if you’re a white nationalist like Trump, you could demand that ICE round up all undocumented immigrants and deport them. (They’d have to include all of those working at Trump properties.) But then what are you going to you eat?

Free Stuff.

The GOP, its propaganda network, and the corporate-owned media are fond of accusing progressive Democrats of trying to buy votes by offering “free stuff” to voters. Disregarding the fact that nothing the government does is, in fact, free, this has been a popular accusation for longer than I can remember. The GOP used the same talking point when Social Security and Medicare were first proposed, claiming that the programs were unaffordable and that they would bankrupt the nation. Then, like now, the GOP also accused the Democrats who backed those programs of being socialists.

But it’s important to note that GOP candidates also regularly offer free stuff as a way of buying votes. And they also engage in a form of socialism. The difference is in the beneficiaries.

Social Security and Medicare are, in reality, retirement and medical insurance that directly benefit those who pay the premiums through payroll deductions – ordinary working Americans. And the current Democratic proposals, like universal health care and debt-free college education, would also directly benefit ordinary American workers.

The GOP proposals, on the other hand, pander to a different audience: Large multinational corporations, the military-industrial complex and the very, very wealthy.

Take the GOP-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Most working Americans saw little to no cuts in their income taxes while corporations and the wealthy realized dramatic cuts to their tax burden. The law also allowed multinationals to “repatriate” corporate profits held offshore to avoid paying US income taxes. The GOP promised that the bill would boost the economy and create jobs. It didn’t. Instead, most of the money was used to pay executive bonuses and to buy back stock. That had the effect of starving the companies of capital resulting in layoffs. The same thing happened in 2004 when the US last “repatriated” corporate dollars at reduced tax rates. That year, 58 giant corporations realized 70 percent of the benefit, saving an estimated $64 billion in taxes while, at the same time, slashing an estimated 600,000 jobs.

The real cost of the 2017 tax cut has yet to be tallied. But it has already resulted in record deficits and a record national debt. It was nothing less than a giant gift to corporations paid for by average working Americans!

And that’s but one example. There are many, many others.

The GOP has pushed cuts to inheritance taxes and cuts to capital gains taxes that benefit the wealthy. And, under the guise of its repeatedly debunked trickle-down economic theory, the GOP offers much more free stuff to corporations. Those gifts take the form of corporate incentives to expand or to relocate, long-term tax relief to corporations for expanding in their current locations and promising, but seldom delivering, new jobs, and Tax Increment Financing which exempts corporate facilities from property taxes whenever their owners build or purchase a building and promise to create jobs – a practice so pervasive that many cities have never collected property taxes on their most iconic buildings. Sadly, some “moderate” Democrats have voted for these things, too.

In addition, there are many less obvious free gifts to corporations. Governments pay the cost of building utilities and other infrastructure to reach corporate building sites. And governments are often forced to pick up the cost of food stamps and housing assistance for the employees of Walmart and other companies that fail to pay a living wage. (The cost of subsidizing Walmart’s underpaid workers was estimated at $6.2 billion in 2014.) Governments also pick up the cost of cleaning up mines and other sites despoiled by extraction industries after the corporations have walked away with the resources and profits.

Even more subtle are the allocations to defense contractors who have little oversight and few, if any, real penalties for cost over-runs and delays. In fact, a 2016 study found that the Pentagon can’t account for trillions of dollars in spending. Similarly, private prison corporations have been given sweetheart deals by their GOP sponsors. During the current border crisis, it has been reported that private prison corporations are being paid more than $700 per day to house the refugees and economic immigrants in horrific conditions. For that price, the detainees should be living in luxury hotels. Not suffering in conditions where they are denied access to sufficient food and water, denied basic hygiene, and forced to sleep on concrete with only a foil blanket.

The estimated cost of universal healthcare and free education is dwarfed by the gifts currently being passed along to corporations and the uber-wealthy. Moreover, the progressive Democratic candidates have done something the GOP hasn’t. They’ve explained how they will pay for their “gifts.”

So, the next time you hear someone deride progressive Democratic candidates by calling them socialists and attacking them for their offers of “free stuff,” keep in mind that what’s being “given away” is simply a matter of priorities. The question is: What’s more important to you? American workers? Or greedy corporations and the very wealthy?

No, Democrats Have Not Moved Left. The GOP Has Moved Right…Way, Way Right.

It’s popular for the media – even the so-called liberal media – to portray the “Squad” and many of the Democratic presidential candidates as far left. As if they are some aberration from the core party principles. Of course, that’s exactly what Republicans want you to believe. Indeed, even some Democratic leaders and “strategists” would have you buy into that claptrap.

It’s not only not true. It’s not even close to reality.

In the 1930s and 40s, the FDR administration and mainstream Democrats embraced social democracy as part of the New Deal. To rescue our economy FDR, the Democratic Party and even some Republicans incorporated ideas that were socialist in nature in order to move people out of the soup lines and back to work. For example, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) built more than 620,000 miles of streets, more than 10,000 bridges, dozens of airports, hydroelectric dams, public buildings and large numbers of houses and apartments. Much of these are still in use today. Rural electric cooperatives (a form of socialism) brought telephones and electricity to hundreds of thousands of rural Americans who had been ignored by large utilities. In addition, the New Deal’s Social Security rescued the elderly from abject poverty. FDR had even proposed a Second New Deal which included single-payer health care, believing that access to quality health care was a human right.

When fascism and support for Nazi Germany threatened to take over the US, Democrats rejected it. And, when World War II broke out, Americans resorted to what some would now consider socialism by pulling together to produce necessary war materials and to ration consumer products in favor of supporting our troops. Indeed, most of our population temporarily abandoned free market capitalism in order to defeat the Axis powers.

Though many in the GOP opposed some of FDR’s initiatives, they supported others. In fact, the GOP was almost equally divided between conservatives and liberals. But things began to change as the result of Senator Joe McCarthy’s Red Scare in the 50s and the growing Cold War.

As post-war Europe followed the path pioneered by FDR, US politicians from both parties distanced themselves from anything that could remotely be misconstrued as communist. That included social democracy. Yet, even in the 70s, the GOP approved of some liberal ideas. For example, in response to Senator Ted Kennedy’s proposal for single-payer health care, Nixon proposed a health care mandate (Obamacare, anyone?). Nixon also supported the formation of the EPA and OSHA. And he aggressively desegregated public schools.

Only after the GOP saw an opportunity to solidify the Jim Crow South by implementing its southern strategy and creating division over abortion to bring evangelicals into the party, did it begin to lurch far to the right. Since then, it has used race and immigration to divide voters and pander to its rural base. And it has used Christian fundamentalist social issues to hold evangelicals – the so-called “values voters” – in line. Meanwhile, right-wing radio hosts and Roger Ailes’s right-wing propaganda network (aka Fox News) have pushed the party even further to the extreme right.

At the same time, Democrats, in trying to recapture the southern states it lost by pushing through the Civil Rights Acts, began to move to the center-right in order to occupy the space once held by mainstream Republicans. For president, they twice nominated the governors of southern states to win elections. And the party has continued to try to bring southerners back into the fold by moving past the center and trending further and further to the right, at the same time denying or ignoring the wishes of traditional Democratic voters in urban areas and in the rural areas of Rust Belt states.

Voters’ positions on abortion, once a non-political issue, now define them as Republicans or Democrats. And, as the Christian fundamentalists and right-wing media have fomented anger over immigration, gay marriage and transgender use of bathrooms (otherwise known as discrimination) Democrats have struggled to respond. They either had to join in the discrimination or be labeled as extreme leftists.

So here we are. We now have a center-right Democratic party that has struggled to adhere to the principles it once cherished, and an extreme far-right Republican party that uses racism and Christian fundamentalism to disguise its fascist, pro-billionaire agenda.

The GOP has long since abandoned its tradition of fiscal conservatism combined with social compassion. It is now the “everybody for themselves party” that is trying to dismantle every aspect of our government except for the military. It would have you ignore issues such as growing debt and deficits, failing infrastructure, income disparity, the lack of retirement pensions and increasingly unaffordable healthcare. Instead, it would have you blame immigrants, “uppity” people of color and the LGBTQ population for your problems. For those of you who refuse to support the party and its narrow-minded, hateful agenda, it attempts to gerrymander away your rights and make it increasingly difficult for you to vote.

And now that a growing number of Democrats are intent on implementing real, substantive change in order to give ordinary working Americans a fair shake, the GOP and its corporate-controlled media try to label them as leftists and socialists. They would have you believe that they are un-American and dangerous. But they are as American and as mainstream as FDR, JFK, Obama and even Ronald Reagan.

It’s Trump, Mitch McConnell, the NRA and the GOP who fail to live up to the ideals of our nation’s Founders