If I were an American Citizen

Those of you who know me, and those who see my stuff on Facebook, know that I’m very much agitated and enraged by much of what I see happening in US politics at the moment.

We see so many things that – in an advanced, civilized society that styles itself the ‘greatest nation on Earth’ – simply shouldn’t be happening.

Millions of people are without healthcare at all, through inability to afford the most basic of insurance. Even when prescribed medication, they can’t afford to fill the prescription because of the prohibitive cost dictated by the drug companies. And people are dying for lack of the simplest medication or procedures.

Many people are victims of crime and cannot go to the police – because their citizenship status might be challenged, and they have no idea whether they will be treated as a human being or a criminal themselves.

Parents send their kids to school  and then head off to one of their jobs, because a single job – for many millions – doesn’t give them enough to cover rent, food, utilities, the basic staples of survival. And whilst they are at their jobs they fear for their children’s safety and worry that yet another school shooter might choose their school, their child, for the next statistic.

“Society” only seems to exist in little pockets, in complete isolation. It’s like shining light through a prism – what should be a single clear beam becomes splintered into its components, and they set off on ever diverging paths. In the US right now, the prism is the Almighty Dollar. If you have enough, you’re fine. If you don’t….

What we are seeing is the ultimate failure of a purely capitalist system. And there’s nobody able to fix it – certainly not the politicians.

Remember that there’s really no such thing as ‘the left’ in US politics. What is termed the left (Democrats) is really centre-right by any other nation’s standards. The Republicans are far further to the right than most other countries’ right-wing parties. And Trump is pushing them ever further to the right.

This is the downside of a nation run on capitalism. The acquisition of wealth becomes a means to itself, and how people measure themselves. It’s probably the ultimate example of (to borrow a biblical phrase) ‘the love of money’ being ‘the root of all evil’. What we are seeing is massive inequality, with the poorest people being unable to feed, clothe, or educate themselves, and the richest sitting in almost literal ivory towers plotting how to make themselves even richer. And when the rich have ALL the political power, it generates an inevitable momentum towards the broken and divided society we see today.

The power of unions has been steadily eroded over the past 30 years, and so there’s nobody really standing up for the common man. Which is why the Progressive movement has started to gain some traction, especially among the younger voters.

Where do the Progressives sit? In US terms they are seen as radical socialists, but in global terms, they actually sit right in the very middle. They acknowledge that the nation needs to have that wealth generation to pay for things like healthcare, education, infrastructure, policing, etc., but want the distribution of that wealth to benefit everyone and not just a fraction of one percent. They are certainly not the far left that the GOP would have people believe.

In a truly progressive society, unions would be unnecessary. There would not be the need to fight for workers rights, because those rights would be assumed as the minimum required for a functioning society. The ability to work for a living wage. The ability to care for your family when they are sick. The ability to send your kids to a good school – and know they will be safe there. The ability to eat healthily, enjoy time with your family, and be the best that you can, and want, to be.

So if I were an american Citizen? I’d definitely be a Progressive. Their ideas, their plans, their goals, are what is desperately needed to fix the fractured society in the US.

It’s not exactly rocket science, but it seems as far away as Mars the way things are going on over there.





A wake-up call / WTF moment in time…

I’ve said before that I’m a political animal at heart. I’ve engaged with parties and politicians since before I was old enough to vote, and have walked to the polling station for every single opportunity since turning 18. Local, National and European elections – I didn’t miss a single one, and I don’t intend to miss any in the future.

What this has created in me, through those years of interest, research, watching, listening, and reading, is – rather unsurprisingly – someone who now sits firmly in the centre of things.

That means that if you’re successful, hard working, and amass a huge personal fortune – good for you. Being rich isn’t a crime – although being poor shouldn’t be treated like one.

Somehow, it is….

I hate seeing people who, whether by their own decisions or not, suffer through lack of health, housing, or opportunity. What I hate even more, however, is seeing people who look at that community and either don’t care or don’t want to care.

So here’s a story for you, hot off the press.


In the Democratic Primary for New York’s 14th Congessional District, a candidate called Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a twenty-eight year old woman with no prior political experience in office at any level, just defeated her opponent Joseph Crowley, a nineteen-year representative who was tipped to become the next House Minority Leader. Outspent 18-1 in campaign funding, she stood on some pretty clear policies, which resonated with voters, and which have elicited a fairly unusual response from Republicans.

What were these policies?

  • Universal, single-payer healthcare for all as a right.
  • Housing as a right.
  • Higher Education for all.
  • Women’s rights.
  • Support for Senior Citizens.
  • Mobilization against Climate Change.
  • Financial controls and the restoration of the Glass Steagall Act, which was put in place to prevent bankers gambling with funds after the 2007 crash.
  • Criminal Justice reform
  • Clean campaign finance
  • Immigration justice and the abolition of ICE
  • Gun control, and an assault weapons ban
  • Solidarity with Puerto Rico

Now, I don’t see anything there that I’d disagree with.


However – as evidenced by the reaction of the right-wing media and people such as Sean Hannity on Fox News, these are (and I quote) “scary policies”…

What he is saying, is that there are people in this world who would look at a homeless person, and actively appreciate that they are not paying anything in taxes to provide shelter. Who would hear of a neighbour who died because they couldn’t afford to fill prescriptions or go to the doctor, and be actively happy that they weren’t contributing to anybody’s healthcare needs but their own. Who would picket and protest outside clinics providing medical care for pregnant women who might be seeking abortions, and then actively campaign for these children to be denied the opportunity of education, food, welfare, healthcare, housing, or even the chance to feel safe at school. Who see events like the shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, where five journalists were murdered after the President called them ‘the enemy of the people’ (by the way, the 195th mass shooting in America – this year) and then go merrily home to oil their AR-15. And who see the faces of children forcibly removed from their parents, held in cages, sedated and assaulted, and happily ignore this abhorrent state-sponsored abuse because, after all, it’s not like these are our children

This is what happens when a party values having power more than they value the responsibility of wielding power. When they think they are the masters, when in reality they are the servants. When they care more about the people paying them donations and kick-backs than the people whose votes put them in office, and can so easily kick them out. And that is where the real future of power lies.

I truly believe that this US administration have unwittingly shown people that it’s time they took back power – power against corporations and corporate greed, power against the corrupt and the corrupted, power against those who misuse power for personal gain and to further hateful agendas.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ victory in the Primary is one big step in the right direction – one of many steps being taken as the US heads towards their November mid-term elections, which with a voter backlash against the incumbent republicans could see much-needed change and long-overdue humanity coming back to society.

A Day To Remember – The Psychedelic Furs 2018

Tuesday, June 12, 2018. An epic day.

In simple facts, I drove 2 hours to Leicester, went to a gig, caught a few hours sleep in a B&B then drove back home the next day. The truth, however, is so much more…

First of all, when I arrived I had to locate another place to stay, as the first one stank as if someone had died there. Literally. A quick search on booking.com found a cheap, but clean alternative. after checking in, a short walk through the park bought me to the O2 Academy on the Leicester University campus.

It was there that the day turned awesome. I met up with my good friend Paul Garisto, who had invited me up for the day. For those who may not know, Paul is not only an excellent chap, but he’s one of the most solid, creative and brilliant drummers around, plying his trade with The Psychedelic Furs. More about them later.

Paul and I sat in the park for like an hour, just chatting. Music, family, drums, politics, drums again, (quite literally ‘All Of This And Nothing’) which is the way I like to be – doesn’t matter if you share earth-shattering philosophies or complete nonsense, it’s about spending time. Thanks, Paul – it meant a lot to me that you’d take time out for me.furs 3


Back inside at 4pm for sound-check, and I met others from the band and beyond. The lovely Amanda Kramer, the awesome saxophonist Mars Williams, and Rich Good, a really great, really cool guy who was also so nice in taking time to talk with me.

I also met a couple of other guys who were such great company and whom I enjoyed spending time with – Jude Rawlins ( former Angelhead and Subterraneans frontman and current guitarist with The Lene Lovich Band – see HERE) and Kevin Hewick, a great singer-songwriter in his own right who works with artists on labels such as Sorted, Pink Box, and Botheration.

Sound check over (it was a little strange stood in the middle of the venue listening to the band at full volume) we had a little time to hang around, swap stories, me to grab a burger, and then it was time for the gig and the arrival of my great mate Pete Galer, who drove up to meet me.

First up –  The Phenomenal Rise of Richard Strange.

Richard Strange

Richard’s stage show was more than a show, more than a collection of tunes. It was pure theatre at its best. His roots go back a long way to his first band, Doctors of Madness. To give you a hint, they were supported by The Sex Pistols, The Jam, and Joy Division. Yes – supported. The album he performed with his band was originally written in 1981, but has eerie connections to modern day US Politics.

Then…… it was time for the main act.

Furs 1

I’ve said this before, but there’s something about this band, this group of brilliant musicians, that I really… get. There’s great songs, with lyrics that appear at once simple and then phenomenally deep. There are driving rhythms and haunting melodies, unbounded energy and vibe, and the whole thing is sewn together by the two Butler brothers, Tim on bass and Richard with his unique vocals. These are guys who know their art – and it is art – and you never get less than everything.

Starting off with the seminal Dumb Waiters from the great Talk Talk Talk album, through songs such as President Gas, Heartbreak Beat, India, Heaven, Mr Jones, Into You Like A Train, and finishing with the iconic Pretty In Pink, they held the audience in the palm of their hand all night long.

furs 2

After the gig, I had the pleasure of catching up with Richard and Tim, along with their guest for the night, Roger Morris – an original member of the band way back in 1977. It’s true – hanging with your heroes is an awesome thing, and they are all just well-grounded, normal people. Although I had heard Richard’s joke about the hairdresser before – it just seemed polite to laugh…

They even signed my vinyl copy of Talk Talk Talk for me…


Thanks guys – an excellent day, a brilliant gig, and a memory made for life. Until the next time, safe travels, my friends!

The Second Amendment – an historical examination

Yet another school shooting in America. Sixteen children and a teacher murdered by a former pupil, who callously set off a fire alarm, knowing that would bring many victims straight to him.

The eighteenth school shooting this year – and we’re barely seven weeks into 2018. To call this a serious problem is to completely understate the very, very obvious. And yet there are still many people who won’t even consider talking about the clear need for stricter control on these weapons.

They try to deflect. They talk about mental illness being the cause – as if other countries are all so very sane. They talk about video games and movies being excessively violent – as if we don’t get the very same material. They talk about criminals still getting guns if the ‘good guys’ can’t. They talk about only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.

All utter rubbish, of course, as we’ll discuss. But there’s one thing that they all talk about, which they believe somehow negates any gun control debate. Their precious second amendment.

So let’s take a look at what this actually says…

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

It’s necessary to pop into the way-back machine to understand the thoughts, environment, and intent behind these twenty-seven words.

In the aftermath of the US War of Independence, America was a very different place to the nation it is today. They had no standing army, no police force, no central means of defending themselves against multiple real threats – the renegade Brits that they had just overcome, other Americans who remained loyal to the Crown, and – then as today – fear of attack by ‘those pesky natives’.

As an attempt to formulate some kind of security structure in this potential vacuum, the Congressional Convention in 1787 proposed that Congress should have the power to raise a standing army and navy, of unlimited size. This caused a rift between anti-federalists and the new government, and so compromises began to take place so that a US Bill of Rights could be adopted, replacing the hated British legislation that still held sway.

One of the key elements in this series of compromises was the fear that, with an armed military force and an unarmed population, it would be too easy in the early days of the nation for the military to take over states by force. As such, the argument for an armed population – for defence of the nation – raged on.

Eventually, after several years and many iterations, the wording was adopted in 1792 as laid out above. The US now had two things – a standing army, albeit under some serious restrictions, and a population with the ability to possess guns, for the express purpose of forming a well regulated public militia force, should the need arise and should the standing army become more of an occupying force than a protecting force.

Let’s pause a second, and consider the phrase ‘well regulated militia’. What does that actually mean?

The term “regulated” means “disciplined” or “trained”. In fact, the US Supreme Court has even defined the phrase “well regulated” as implying the imposition of proper discipline and training.

So as far as the second amendment is concerned, a well regulated militia, is a force of trained, disciplined people, working in protection of their nation against aggression of government.

Over the years, between 1888 when law review articles were first published in the US right up to 1959, every single review article that references the second amendment concluded that it did not guarantee an individual the right to own a gun.

So let’s bring this back to the present, and try and reconcile that with the way that these 27 words are being misinterpreted today.

Well – that in itself is a challenge, because the second amendment isn’t even being used in its entirety.

In the lobby of the NRA headquarters building in Fairfax, Virginia is the second half of the amendment only, emblazoned in gold letters across a wall. They are – unsurprisingly – very keen to declare that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” but conveniently ignore the qualifier about a well regulated militia being necessary. And here’s why…

In 1977, the NRA held it’s annual meeting. People still refer to that meeting today as the “Revolt in Cincinnati”. The leadership of the NRA had decided to move it’s headquarters to Colorado, signalling a retreat from politics. More than a thousand angry pro-gun, pro-republican rebels showed up at the annual convention. By four in the morning, these dissenters had voted out the entire leadership, and activists from factions called The Second Amendment Foundation and the Citizens Committee forced their way into power.

The new leadership was overtly dogmatic and ideological. They started to ferment unrest against federal control in many areas of life, such as taxation and land policies. And, as an attempt to remain in power, politicians adjusted their stances on these matters to keep in with the new zealots.

Back to the law, then. In 1960, articles began to appear that strongly argued that the amendment, as written and as accepted for over 160 years, didn’t mean what it always had. I guess Hollywood must play a part in that shift, with their westerns portraying the concept of ‘a good guy with a gun’ to the masses. White hats and black hats, and all that.

Initially, the legal articles didn’t make much difference in the shift of public opinion, but as soon as the radicals at the NRA came to power, that started to change as they combined massive investment in lawyers (to argue their case in law review submissions), political lobbying (together with the promise of backing and financial incentives for politicians that aligned themselves with NRA thought), grants to write pro-gun book reviews, and the establishment of many organisations, such as ‘Academics for the Second Amendment’. Massive amounts of money, pressure, and coercion from the NRA and their activists brought about a seed change in the way that most Americans now view the second amendment.

It’s ironic that most of the people yelling “SECOND AMENDMENT!!!” don’t even realise that they aren’t supporting the constitution, but the NRA bastardisation of an ideal.

And it’s tragic that – unless this changes once again – these same people will defend the rights of people like Nikolas Cruz, who murdered seventeen people at a school in Florida on Feb 14, 2018. They will defend the rights of Stephen Paddock, who on October 1, 2017, murdered 58 people and injures 851 others in a ten-minute shooting spree from a hotel room in Las Vegas. They will defend the rights of Adam Lanza, who on December 14 2012, walked into the grounds of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing twenty children aged between six and seven years old, as well as six staff and his own mother.

They cite mental illness. They cite influences of video games and movies. They cite all manner of things.

They cry that if you take their guns, only criminals will have guns. Personally, I’d far rather the police arrest someone for owning an illegal gun, than arrest them for massacring seventeen people. Because – and this is very important – all of the people I named above were legal gun owners, right up to the point when they became murderers.

However, gun supporters never cite the one thing that would have absolutely prevented these atrocities.

It’s impossible to kill 58 people and injure 851 others in 10 minutes, from a 32nd floor hotel room across the street, without the guns to fire.

It’s impossible to walk into a school and murder seventeen people if you don’t have the weapon to do so.

It’s impossible to massacre twenty children barely starting their school life, if you don’t have the means to deliver that death from the barrel of a gun.

Yes, health issues need to be addressed (although with Mental Health funding in the US being gutted at the moment, and restrictions on mental health suffers owning guns being lifted, it’s hard to see anything going well there). But we all have mental health issues in our countries. Only America arms their mentally ill. And that must stop.

Survivors of the attack in Florida are vocalising their anger towards the laws that failed them and their classmates. One can only hope that their voices are as loud, and as persistent, as they need to be. Because if they aren’t listened to, then all we are doing is waiting for the next time.


When is a tax NOT a tax?

I’m sitting here very confused. And whilst you might think that this isn’t unusual, well…. you’d be right.

However, before there are too many comments aimed at me (you know who you all are) let me explain what’s getting me this time.

Here in the UK, we enjoy certain benefits, which is part and parcel of living in this nation we call home. We enjoy the benefit of knowing that – if we fall ill – we will be looked after, irrespective of whether we are rich or poor, whatever our background, race, politics, gender, or any other delineator you can think of: we get sick, we get treated, and thanks to the skills of our medical professionals, we know that if it’s possible to get better, then we most likely will.

We enjoy the benefit of a diverse community, where people are valued for what they bring to us rather than devalued for what we might think they take. We excel at embracing differences.

When the need arises, we have the benefit of truly brave, truly exceptional people in our emergency services. The sight of a copper on the beat, or the sound of a siren signalling the presence of an ambulance or fire engine rushing to an incident, makes almost all of us react with respect for the job they do.

We also have our government and parliament. Now I’m not going to be so churlish as to say they get – or deserve – universal respect. However, I haven’t ever had cause to complain to our parliament over the situation that – were I a US citizen – would have me fuming and firing off emails and letters by the hundreds.

The other day, the Republicans got their Tax plan past the first hurdle towards making it law. Seeing as they have failed to get any other significant bill passed, despite control of all levels of the US Government machinery, makes this a big deal for them. But it appears to have been rushed through with many, many amendments that the legislature simply didn’t have time to fully read or understand before the vote. And as the detail emerges, it seems that there are some elements in this bill which really shouldn’t be there.

Remember – this is a bill about taxation levels.

So why is there a clause in the bill removing restrictions on drilling for oil in the Arctic wildlife preserve?

Why is there a clause removing the requirement for churches not to endorse political candidates (thereby revoking the separation of church and state that is enshrined in the constitution and bringing the potential demise of the First Amendment one step closer)?

Why is there a clause on abortion, reclassifying life as officially starting at conception (I mean – what has that possibly got to do with taxation)?

Why is there a clause reducing the size of some of the US’s most beautiful National Parks by as much as 90%?

There are a bunch of things being pushed through in an apparently desperate attempt to sneak previously failed legislation onto the statute books. And there are some amazingly unfair, even cruel fiscal policies that are bundled into the bill.

Why are welfare programs that help 50% of Americans survive – not thrive, but survive -being defunded so that millionaires with their own private jets can deduct the cost of owning and running them? Medicare itself is being defunded to the tune of $400 BILLION.

Why are student debt relief regulations (which allow young adults with outstanding tuition fee debt to pay the debt without the additional tax burden) being scrapped, so that those with homes worth over $5.49 million can avoid paying tax on their estate when they die?

Why are changes to the mandate put on states to provide healthcare insurance under the ACA being lifted, so that individual states can decide not to treat people with particular illnesses? And so that 13 million people immediately lose their healthcare coverage?

There really are so many elements in this bill which are almost viciously cruel in and of themselves. Bundle them together, and the aim is clear – the ‘family values’ party really doesn’t care about you, unless you are wealthy and can afford to buy them off.

The elderly, the sick, the young, would all be worse off. Whereas certain families, such as – ironically – the Trump family, would be better off to the tune of over a billion dollars a year.

And yes – that’s the worst use of the word ‘ironically’ in the history of language.

I said at the top of this post that I’m confused. And I am. Here’s what confuses me.

How the hell did enough people believe the lies and propaganda that has brought us to this position?

I sure as hell can’t work that out…

Still, look at it this way. Republicans control the Senate, the House of Representatives, the majority of State Governors, the Supreme Court, and the Presidency. This situation hasn’t happened since 1928. And they are truly partying like it’s still the Roaring Twenties.

Let’s remind ourselves of what happened in 1929…


The Psychedelic Furs, London 2017


Last Saturday was a date long-awaited in my calendar: the welcome return of The Psychedelic Furs to London after five long years. Their Singles tour has taken in nine UK cities, as well as dates in Europe, South America, and an extensive US road trip. Pretty much every date in the UK has sold out. and that’s without a new album to advertise or anything crassly commercial like that.

Nope – this was a tour for music fans, by music fans, delivering happiness, dancing, singing and memories both on-stage and off.

I’ll come to the headliners in a moment, but first, a few thoughts about the support.


I want to know who booked Lene Lovich so I can shake their hand. As support, the choice of music’s maddest act was inspired. Lene and her band played a set of familiar and not-so-familiar tunes to an audience who literally lapped up every note. Just the same now as she was back in the early 80s, Lene Lovich still hits the highest of high notes with a style and a smile all her own. The audience loved her, and the platform for the main act was firmly set.

Then came the Furs. And boy, did they deliver.


Rarely will you see a band so together. Fronted by the brilliantly eclectic Richard Butler, whose vocals and physical presence on stage mesmerises, The Psychedelic Furs are – in my eyes and ears at least – the very definition of the perfect gigging band. There’s the rock-solid rhythm section of Tim Butler on bass and my friend, the awesome Paul Garisto on drums. These two threw down a firm foundation for the three melodious ones, all of whom I could write paragraphs about. Rich Good‘s guitar work is effortless perfection, Amanda Kramer‘s keyboard work is so spot on that it hurts when she stops, and there’s very little I can say about Mars Williams‘ sax playing that could possibly do his genius enough justice.


Starting with Dumb Waiter and running through to a second encore with President Gas, we called in at all the familiar stops, spanning a career that has seen their fan base grow and grow. All the favorites were there, including Mr Jones, Heartbreak Beat, Heaven, India, and – naturally – Pretty In Pink.

However, a mere track listing wouldn’t reflect the sheer exuberance and joy coming off the stage. The Psychedelic Furs really do have to be seen to be believed.

I attended the gig with my brother (to whom I introduced The Furs back in 2012) and an old friend Pete, who has actually written his memoirs around gigs he’s attended. Given there are many, many hundreds to measure against, when he turned to me at the end and simply mouthed “How awesome was THAT!”, you knew you’d been there at a special time.


I managed to catch up with Paul and Richard after the gig, and both confirmed what I thought – they had had such a good time, and were still on a buzz from the show. Paul particularly was amazingly relaxed and happy, and said that he’d not felt so comfortable and chilled at a gig for ages. It certainly showed in his playing.

Next time I’ll bring my copy of Talk Talk Talk for Richard to sign. Thankfully – according to him – this will hopefully not be too far away, as they are already starting to discuss a return trip to the UK. When they do come back, get your tickets early, because The Psychedelic Furs really will be the hottest show in town.


The American Way, or the Highway…

I’m following current events in the US with increasing dismay.

The protests / counter protests in Charlottesville over the weekend showed just how much white supremacist fascism feels enabled by the actions of the present government over there.

The death of a young woman, Heather Heyer, and the injuries suffered by many others is horrific, but I fear that the underlying cause that created these events runs far deeper.

‘The American Way’ is often touted as their utopia. It’s all about people being free – free to do, say, live, behave, worship however they want, with little or no interference or control from the state. In principle, that’s a good idea. Sadly, it relies on a principled population to work.

Let’s take the First Amendment – the freedom of speech. Basically, you can say what you like. Even if that’s not what other people like. and they can say so, and you can argue, and you can confront each other’s views, and then suddenly there’s a car being driven into a crowd of people simply because they think differently to you. And people die.

That’s not an issue that specifically surrounds white supremacism, although pretty much all of the recent events have been due to their actions. And the alt-right need to take responsibility, as do all groups, for the impact their views have on society as a whole.

Let’s take the Second Amendment – the right to bear arms. Written in the late eighteenth century at a time when there was a clear danger from Native American Indians, rogue English-supporting vigilantes, and claim-jumpers looking to secure the best land for themselves, it made sense that a homestead could be protected.

But it’s not been updated for over two hundred years, and you now have people with an armies’ worth of assault weaponry, quoting ancient legislation as their ‘right’. The rights of these gun-toting mavericks legally outweighs the rights of the rest of society to be protected from their potentially murderous intentions, or any accidents caused by a trigger-happy citizen out shopping (such a dangerous pastime in some states, clearly).

Most other ‘civilised’ countries understand the need to draw a line between the rights of the individual and the rights of society. They know that free speech is important, but hate speech is illegal. They know that having an armed population will only lead to people being shot.

America needs to wake up to the fact that ‘The American Dream’ is in severe danger of being left for dead on the sidewalk, and that only by bringing the edge-case lunatics (white fascists, survivalist weapons hoarders, etc.) into line by protecting the many against the few, will the US start to regain it’s freedom.

Because – after all – the anthem doesn’t just talk about it being ‘the land of the free‘, it also declares itself ‘the home of the brave‘, and it’s time that the brave stood up – like Heather Heyer did – and start to make a difference.