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- The Independent Thinker
Please, you’ve already been up once, you don’t have to do that it again, you are very kind, very generous.
Thank you Governor Kasich for that very generous introduction, thank you governor Taylor for welcoming me here as well, it's also an honor to have the president here and to have her introduction and they have the so many members of the student body and I know that there are some members of the community here as well the voters here we've got to. Members of the legislature here and I have. I appreciate the chance to speak with you it’s nice to have this backdrop of students and this I know that's good for the cameras but I actually kind of prefer to have the chance to have them out at front and get a chance to it to have some interaction with them but you're gonna have to do it from behind if that's okay. And I was also thinking about a blackboard but I guess we're gonna get by without a blackboard today, I wanna have this a bit of an interactive experience if we can, and I’m gonna start off by telling you a bit about my perspective on the economy. Not just the US economy but economies more broadly.
I spent my career, as you know, in the private sector about 25 years in business started at the entry level of consulting firm, and as part of that consulting assignment traveled the different states and that also traveled to different countries and attempted to provide counsel and advice to businesses that we're doing business overseas and competing with foreign companies. One of the things I've found in my business experience that that intrigued me was that you could have two countries right next door to each other and one would be dramatically outperforming the other economically, that the income per capita was higher than the other despite their proximity, and you could think of Mexico and the United States and the difference and they income per person or Chile and Ecuador, Egypt and Israel, or north and South Korea, and I endeavor to understand why it was such disparity between nations, which seem not to be so far apart, where people the same DNA, all human beings and yet different communities, different nations, had such dramatically different economic vitality, and so I read books about this. One of them by a fellow named Jared Diamond very interesting book that if I recalled was named “Guns, Germs and Steel” and in this book he describes the differences between the physical characteristics of different nations and points out that at some places there's iron ore on the ground so historically the people of that nation were able to mine the iron ore and use it to create weapons and oppress their neighbors and they became stronger nations as a result of that, so he looks at the differences between nations, largely in terms of the physical characteristics of the land and the geography. And that's certainly accounts for some of the differences you see historically. And over various nations, but it doesn't capture all the differences that I saw. And I read a book by a fellow named David Landis. He is a former professor emeritus at Harvard, and he wrote a book called “the wealth and poverty of nations” and given the title and my interest I acquired the book, and read it and found that he had traced the comings and goings of virtually every great civilization in human history and looked at why they became great and then what led to their decline that's a relatively scholarly approach, but was more interesting to me was its conclusion. After about 500 or so pages, he says roughly this, if you could learn anything from the history of the economic development of the world, it is that culture makes all the difference. Now he wasn't talking about clothing and food and dance and music he's talking about the fundamental beliefs of the society, and it his view that the fundamental beliefs of the society, the foundational principles of a nation, determines to a great degree the level of economic vitality that nation might enjoy, and as you look at this nation, and you say what are the foundational beliefs of America. I happen to think that they were set by that the founders of the country in those extraordinary documents we know as the declaration of independence and the constitution, and they had in those documents some views that were innovative and that it shaped American life from then on. One of course, was that our rights derived not from government but from our very humanity, derived from God. And that those rights included life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We will be free in this nation to choose who would represent us in government and we would also be free to choose our course in life. The idea of the pursuit of happiness was that we get each pursue happiness as we choose, and we would not be limited by the course or the direction of government, as to what we could do with our life, nor where the circumstances of birth necessitate a particular course of life. This was a land of our freedom, personal freedom, political freedom and economic freedom and those freedoms, interestingly having been the foundation of our nation, drew people from all over the world seeking opportunity; because collectively they represented human opportunity, and so for hundreds of years people have come to America seeking that kind of betterment for themselves, a chance to pioneer, to innovate, to create. It's almost in the genetic code of America if you will, to be innovative, pioneering, creative and this freedom, this economic freedom, is an enormous part of what, not only has attracted people here, but has kept people here to build enterprises, that by the way to their success have had made us all better off. Now there's another element of our foundation which I think is critical and that is what I’ll refer to and connect with that the phrase United We Stand or One Nation Under God. The idea being that while we would be a nation of great diversity with individuals pursuing their own freedoms in various courses that we, nonetheless, would be united in our respect for certain values and the respect for one another. And so America has had this extraordinary combination of people, highly diverse, pursuing their interests as they choose but at the same time coming together and united in common purpose. And so when we've faced challenges and threats, particularly in this last century and even today, the American people have rallied and have overcome the challenges that have been presented. But the election before us presents an opportunity to either restore and to strengthen those foundational principles or to choose new ones. In my view, the election of 2012 is a defining, deciding election for the course of America over the century and we will decide whether or not we're going to transform America into something different than it's been in the past or whether we're going to restore to America the principles that have made us the nation that we are. And now your challenge in all this is that you will hear words from people running for office that sound great. But sometimes what people say is not a perfect example of what they're gonna do. Somehow appearances do not conform with the facts, or reality, or track records. I love what, was it John Adams who said the facts are stubborn things, words are easily malleable, but facts are stubborn and so I suggest that in the campaign ahead and the campaigns of various officers, running for various positions ahead, that you consider not just the brilliance of their words but also the facts of their record and what they've done and that will be the best predictor, I believe, of what they'll do going forward.
I have several examples of the disparity between appearance and reality or appearance and fact that I might have mentioned – some from my business experience. I remember when we had some one come in my office, as you may have known in my prior work I was both in the business of helping start businesses known as venture capital as well as in the business of acquiring businesses and try to make them better. This was not with my own money of course; it was with money entrusted to me by pension funds, college endowments and the like. And one occasion someone came in his name is Tom Stemberg. He had the idea for a store that would sell office supplies at a discount. He said that office supplies were sold at a huge mark up and that he would have a big store that sold office supplies cheap and with that concept in mind we went to various experts and asked their opinion as to whether this was a good investment opportunity. Not one of them said yes. Everyone said it was a bad idea and the reason they said was that in the world of business the trend has been away from individuals having to run out and manage various aspects of the business on their own and instead having more convenience and being able to focus on the mission of the business, so the idea of people having to leave their offices to go buy office supplies, as opposed to just having someone come deliver it from a big warehouse, that wasn’t a good idea, this superstore idea wouldn't work and that was the appearance. In part because the sense was that there wasn't enough savings to be had and that people wouldn’t buy that many supplies per person. Well then we went out to get the facts. We set a team of our colleagues out to go talk to businesses in the environment around what would be the first store and they told us how much they've purchased annually per person on office supplies, as I recall, it was about $1,500 dollars a year in office supplies; and frankly, the savings of $1,500 a year for white-collar employee at office supplies wouldn't justify folks going out shopping. So we took that to the entrepreneurs and said -- you know it doesn't look like this side is gonna work and no one thinks it'll work either; and he said you know what? Those businesses don't know how much they're spending on office supplies. Go back and get their invoices. Go back, ask them if they’ll let you look in their files and see what they're actually spending. So we did and what we found was their spending a lot more than they thought on copy paper and toner and supplies, and software and so forth and so after a lot of analysis we decided that we would invest in these office superstores, its called Staples and now employs many tens of thousands, I think 90,000 people on a worldwide basis. Appearances do not always equal reality.
Another enterprise, and that was with regards to steel; an entrepreneur came to us and said” I wanna build a steel mill.” We said, where? Certainly not in the United States because steel mills were closing left and right, we've been an investor of steel companies that didn't make it. And he said no, if you have the right technology, modern technology in the right place with the right environment why you can be successful in opening a steel mill. We looked at the numbers, looked, at the data, looked at the facts, sure enough, so we invested and started a steel mill, which became very successful. Its located called Steel Dynamics incorporated located in Indiana today.
Then there was a fellow that came to me with the idea to start an airline. He said, you know what we need another airline in this country and I said that's the last thing we do in this country – There are so many airlines and all the ones I've seen have a hard time and go bankrupt year after year. He said no, no, no, if you have an airline that has just the right routes and new equipment and the right kind of workforce that's -- that's dedicated to the consumer, with the right kind of leadership, they can be a success. I said well the facts say otherwise. So I turned out on the opportunity to be the founding investor in JetBlue. It proves that I don't always get it right, but the impact of gathering facts, gathering information, learning about the reality behind the words has proven to me in the business sector that the facts are more important than words and the results are more important than words. So if you look at the campaign of 2012 you're gonna hear a lot of words. But you're gonna have an opportunity to also look behind the words at the facts. Now what should you look at? Well when the president was running in 2008 he spoke at the Denver convention you may recall he spoke in front of those Greek columns. I don't think he'll be speaking in front of Greek columns this time because he won't want to remind us of Greece. But he said at that point, he said, you know we measure success differently, I guess he was suggesting differently than Republicans, he said we measure progress on the following basis. He said we measure progress by whether people are able to get good jobs that can pay for mortgages. Well that's one measure. Over the last three and a half years we've seen this economy shed jobs not add them. Unemployment has been over 8% for 38 straight months. The president said if we let him borrow 787 billion dollars, they'd hold unemployment below 8%, has not been. We’re about five and a half million jobs short of where we were before the recession and that hasn't been turned around. So on his own measure he's been unable to get the job done. Then there’s another measure he suggested: he said you could tell if we're making progress by whether incomes are going up or incomes are going down. Over the last four years the median income in America has dropped by 10%, $3,000 per family, just during president Obama's term. That's tough. Particularly at a time when gasoline prices have doubled and health care costs have gone to the roof. When food costs have gone up, this is tough time for the American people. The combination of people out of work or underemployed, medium incomes dropping, has met a lot of families facing very difficult times. Lot of families that can't send kids to college, lot of folks that wanted to start a home that can't create a home right now. You got retirees wondering if they can make ends meet until the next check comes in from Social Security.
These are tough times in America in part because of those two failures, failures to create new good jobs, failures to see rising incomes. Then it was a third measure. The president said we can see if you succeed or not by whether or not people, who have a good idea, are willing to take the risk of starting a new business. And unfortunately, the number of business startups has also gone down during the president's term. Actually go look at the years the President Bush was president before the recession and the years now we're down about a 150,000 startups per year. Some of that occurred during President Bush's last year, as the economy when into recession some as we continue bumping along at that low level. Some have calculated that had we had the normal level of business startups we'd have about two million more jobs in this country. So those measures have suggested that the president has not been successful on the various areas that he expected to be judged upon. There are others by the way. College graduates. You’ve seen the numbers on that? that was really shocking earlier this week. The number of college graduates that can't find work consistent with their degree up to the standards of a college graduate 50% of college graduates coming out of college can't find work or can't find work consistent with their skills. A number of people have fallen into poverty, gone from middle class to poverty at a record level; 48 million people on food stamps a record level foreclosures,. 2.8 million, a record level of foreclosures. This has been a tough time for America. Now the president will say that he inherited that and that's true. He did inherit a recession. But he didn't make it better. His job should have been focused entirely upon getting the economy going. In the business I used to be aint, we participated in something we called turnaround enterprises in trouble and we had three simple rules for helping turnaround an enterprise. We called them focus, focus and focus. Focus all your effort on the most important thing and when the president became elected the most important job he had to do was to get the economy turned around. But instead, he delegated that to the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and he focused on his own agenda. And that agenda did not make it more likely for people to hire people, or the private sector to grow.
The president's gonna wanna take credit for the economy getting better and I'm convinced it will get better every recession ends. Every recession ultimately becomes a recovery, this just happens to be the most anemic and tepid recovery we've seen since Hoover. And one of the reasons is because the things the president did, did not encourage the private sector to grow and thrive. And aside this, ticked off some of those things Obamacare, if you don't believe me on this, go talk to a small business person and say did Obamacare caused you to wanna hire more people or cause you to want to pull back from hiring or perhaps only hire temporary workers because you're uncertain of the impact it'll have? Everywhere I go what I hear from small business people is that Obamacare has scared the Dickens out of them, but the uncertainty associated with the upcoming cost of this program has made them pull back. So instead of doing something that would encourage the economy and get people to hire, the president unfortunately did something, which made it harder for that to happen. Then it was the stimulus itself, 787 billion dollars of borrowing, it could have been entirely focused on getting the private sector to buy capital equipment, for instance, that puts people to work or to hire people but instead it primarily protected people in the governmental sector, which is probably the sector that should have been shrinking.
Then of course there's some other measures, something known as Dodd-Frank. This was the regulatory reform bill for financial services about an 848-page bill, I must admit I don't like any bills that are that long I have to be honest, because I'm afraid no one reads them; and that the staff that writes them puts in all the things they think are the right things to do, but the congress people and senators don't take the time to actually read them and understand what the impact would be, in this case you have a bill that has 848 pages and there will be hundreds and thousands of pages of regulations that are spawned from that piece of legislation. Much of the idea behind it was to keep those too big to fail banks from getting bigger. What's happened since, the big banks have gotten bigger and the community banks, those have gotten smaller. And why is that? Well the community banks can't deal with all the regulation. I was with one big New York bank and the head of the bank said to me, he said we have hundreds of lawyers working on and implementing the Dodd-Frank regulations. And I thought to myself, there are not a lot of community banks that can afford hundreds of lawyers and so community banks have pulled back. Coming out of a recession it's normally small business that gets the economy going again and community banks are the ones that loan to small business. But the administration, through its agenda, made it harder for those businesses and those bankers to do their job, to get people working again.
Then there were labor policies. There were labor policies that were seen by people in the business world as being anti business. Why I do I say that – well you remember the National Labor Relations Board said that Boeing shouldn't be able to build a factory in South Carolina because South Carolina is a right to work state. That makes it awful hard for business to decide to expand, frankly, even in a union state. But let's say a foreign company is thinking of building a factory. When they hear that if they have a factory in a union state, that they might be prevented down the road from building one in a non-union state they might decide not to even consider putting one in a union state. This chills investment in this country keeps businesses from growing here. This agenda I can go on with a long list but I've gone long enough. This agenda suggests that instead of focusing and getting people to work again and encouraging small business, the president was focusing on his own agenda: To transform America. And that has led to tens of millions of people being out of work who are under a lot of stress for longer periods of time. That wasn’t right. Now we've got an agenda going forward. The president has put out a plan as to what he thinks of doing that in the future he spoke at the State of the Union Address. Said a number of things that he do. Again what's the disparity between the words and the reality, the record and the facts. The president says he wants to lower taxes on business. Well, then he also described the fact that he wants to raise the marginal tax rate on individuals from 35% to 40%. You might say what does that got to do with business? Did you know how many people work in businesses that are taxed at the individual rate not at the corporate rate? 54% of America's private sector workers work in businesses that are taxed as individuals. So if you raise the tax rate on those businesses you will kill jobs. Taxes on enterprise make it harder for enterprises to grow. The right course it is not to do what the president is doing, but to do instead what he said which is to actually lower taxes on enterprises and make us more competitive globally. The vice president the other day said he's in favor of a global tax. Not quite sure what he has in mind there. That is not the gift that keeps on giving; the idea of more and more taxes.
There's another area the president said in his State of the Union Address, he said he wants to lower regulations and a few of us sort of gasped. But as we looked at the first three and a half years of his administration, and the rate of new regulations is three times higher than it was under the prior administration. The President also said that he's in favor of all of the above when it comes to energy. Oh really? I tried to square that with the fact that a number of leases on federal land for oil drilling have been cut in half under this administration, and the number of permits given to drillers has been cut by two thirds. We're not drilling in Anwar, there was a moratorium on drilling in the gulf, not drilling in the outer continental shelf as we could. Regulators have been trying to push themselves into the regulation of fracking for natural gas. I actually concluded, jokingly, that I I've found a way to square the president's words with their reality of his record. He says he's for all of the above. That means all the sources of energy that comes from above the ground, all right, wind and solar, we all like wind and solar but I also like the stuff that comes from beneath the ground: coal, oil and gas.
So words and record in reality consent has been different. There's another element that I hope you concentrate on. The president will tell us that we're we've gone past the era of big government. I think in some respects that this president is a throwback to the old Democrats not the new Democrats, but the old Democrats who like big government. Today government at all levels of our economy, federal, state and local consume almost 38% of the economy, and if Obamacare is allowed to stand, that comes almost to 50% of the economy. And then when you think of the indirect control government has financial services, Energy, transportation and so forth. Government will directly or indirectly control well over half of the American economy. At some point we have ceased being the kind of free enterprise nation the founders envisioned. That's what's at risk. That's what's at stake in this election.
Now I have a very different record than does the president when it comes to these matters. Even though in some cases our words may seem similar, I actually do believe in keeping taxes down. My proposal is not to raise the marginal rate from 35 to 40% but to lower it to 28%. Why? because I want small businesses to grow and create jobs. If your priority is to punish people, President Obama's is the right guy to vote for. If your priority is to get more good jobs, I'm the right guy to vote for. You know both of us, the president and I, will talk about the need to not pass on burdens to the next generation at a higher and higher deficits and debt. His record however, is a first trillion-dollar deficit in American history. He will add by the end of his fourth year almost as much debt, public debt, as all the prior presidents of this country combined. Think of that. We are on track to becoming Greece, there is no question in my mind, if this president were to be reelected we will ultimately face a Greece like setting where people will wonder whether they want to loan money to America. And loan money to America at low interest rates. My view is that if you're gonna get serious about not passing on massive debts to you guys, to your generation. And this is not something you spent a lot of time thinking about, you look at your student loans, but you should also have an addition to your student loans an understanding of the federal loans you've got, that you're gonna inherit, and that there is a party and a stream in this country that says let's keep spending and spending and spending and build up the national debt and I will, my generation, will never pay it back. Will be dead and gone. That interest and that principal get paid by you guys and for year after year after year, your income taxes are gonna include a very substantial amount to pay the interest on the debt we're accumulating now.
That's why it's so critical in my view for you to consider what's in the best interest of not just yourself, but America over the coming century. And it is to stop the excessive overspending now, I cannot only say that, I can demonstrate that I have done that, not at the federal level of course, but that's something I aspire to do. When I came into office our budget gap in my state was about three billion dollars, that's probably small compared to what you face here in Ohio from time to time but my state is smaller. And that we face about a three billion dollar budget gap. We went through and said how can we streamline agencies, eliminate programs that aren't necessary, one of the commentators, I think it was on the ABC affiliates, said Mitt Romney is not just going after the sacred cows is going after the whole heard and so we cut back on spending. We were able to balance our budget, all four years I was in office, and by the time I left we've built up to two billion dollar rainy day fund. This, in order to show that we can balanced budgets and live within our means that has to happen at the federal level. I will eliminate some programs. The question is this, do we wanna keep on borrowing money from China to pay for programs we don't need or are we gonna say some programs we're gonna simply stop and I'm gonna ask for that sacrifice, we're gonna stop some programs so we can finally live within our means. I'm also gonna take some programs that we all like and that we need like Medicaid which is a program for the poor, a health care program for the poor, housing vouchers, food stamps instead of having the federal government mandate how those programs are administered and run I'm gonna take that money and give it to the governor and lieutenant governor and say you craft the programs you feel best for Ohio will grow it at the rate of inflation. You keep those programs within the rate of inflation and that saves us a hundred billion dollars a year within four years.
This is a choice I believe for our country and the president's view is, without question one, which leads to a larger and larger federal government. He's added about a 150,000 Federal employees. The government is getting larger it's consuming a larger and larger share of our economy we will be a government dominated society, where government takes more and more, borrows massively more than we're taking in and where you ultimately have to appeal to commissions and czars to be able to build your business and to grow your enterprise. In my view that takes us down a path to becoming more and more like Europe… and Europe doesn't work in Europe. The right course for America is not to become more like Europe but to become more like the nation, at our founding with principles that are as noble as they are powerful. That the individual is sovereign, that we're free to elect the people of our choice. That we’re free to pursue happiness as we choose. That government should be small. That one of the purposes of government it's not just to find the bad guys and prevent bad things from happening, as important as that is, but also to encourage the good guys, the entrepreneurs, the innovators, the students, the young people, the older people that wanna build and create because if they do, they make us all better off. And one more thing I’d mention with regards to returning to the principles of our founding and that is that we as a nation have been strong in part because of something I've mentioned at the outset: That we are united, that we're one nation under God.
One of the things I've been most disappointed in over the last three and a half years is something which was very different than what the president spoke of in Denver in his last campaign. Where he spoke of a post partisan world bringing people together having people on both parties come together it's been very different than that. Even now I believe you're watching the president who is trying to deflect and divert from his record by trying to find ways to, if you will, attack fellow American, between rich and poor and other dimensions. This kind of diverseness, this attack of success is very different than what we've seen in our country's history. We've always encourage young people take a shot go for it. Take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start business. I was with a guy named Jimmy John, you know Jimmy – yeah, you guys, I've met Jimmy John, Jimmy John he had, I hope I get the story entirely right, I think he graduated from high school and he didn’t wanna go to college. And he said to his dad can I borrow some money? I wanna start a business. His dad said you know what, you… I just don't think you've got the discipline to start a business and make it work. And he said I’ll loan you the money but if you can't pay it back with interest by the end of the year I want you to go into the military. And that and sign up and he said okay I'll do that and I think he said he borrowed $20,000 from his dad he was gonna start a restaurant. Then he found out how expensive it is to buy all the restaurant equipment and $20,000 wouldn't cut it, the only thing that would work for $20,000 was a sandwich shop. So we thought of making sandwiches. And as you chokingly indicated a moment ago, you know that this amateur is doing pretty well, he's got shops all over the country, get thousands of people to work for them. This is kind of an American experience; I see it time and again the other night I was with another restaurant guy, Papa John, alright, Papa John, I think he said it was in 1986 he opened his first pizza restaurant. And today employs thousands of people. We welcome that we celebrate that in this country. It's one of the reasons we are the nation we are. Is that these young people each anticipate that they're going to be extraordinarily successful. That they're gonna create enterprises or have innovations that will change themselves, change their families, change the world. That's what we value, and yet we find right now a president attacking that. It's terribly disappointing and destructive and disheartening.
We are a nation united. I can tell you if I become president of the United States I will make sure that we get ourselves on track to have a balanced budget, I'll make sure that we rein in the size of the federal government. I'll make sure that we have the best environment in the world for entrepreneurs, innovators and job creators. And one thing I can guarantee you is that I we'll try and unite the American people, not divide us, and not point at one another, the American people, and say well these Wall Street people are bad; all the roads in America are connected. You can't attack parts of America and assume America is going to rise and become strong. I won’t attack this executive or that successful person; I will try and bring America together. The scene that comes to my mind as I think about this country is the kind of scene where Americans are coming together to help people who have just gone through a tough time. I remember the unity in the country following the tragedy of nine eleven. I remember the experience I had at the Olympic Winter Games in 2002 and how many people came to volunteer. It’s very interesting; we'd had a very tough time with scandals associated with the games in 2002. We needed about 25,000. As I recall volunteers to come, give their time in the Olympic Games seventeenth straight days and we, I think, our first adds it's open like this no tickets to the Olympics. If no pay, no glory, seventeen straight days, sign up quick the opportunities are going fast, all right, and we put this up on the air and opened up our website 47,000 people signed up to volunteer. Just blew us away. That’s the spirit of America, when people are needed, the unity of this country.
Another scene, I was serving as governor in my state, I got a call from the airport and they said that the remains of one of our soldiers from Iraq was coming to the airport and in a US Airways plane and they‘ve contacted the family and asked them to come to the airport to receive the body and the family lived too far away to get there in time to meet the body and they asked if I could come there instead. Our state capital’s close to the airport and I said of course. We drove over there and drove out to the tarmac that jet came in, the people disembarked, conveyor came out and all the luggage was taken off and then finally, after everything was cleared, the casket appeared, was brought down the conveyor and the soldiers began to lift it to put in the hertz I then put my hand in my heart and the troopers that were there with me saluted, and as I was watching the scene I happened to glance up at the terminal. The terminal for US Airways in Boston, has a big glass where this airplane has come in and it seems that the people who disembarked from the aircraft had seen all the police cars out there, so they lined up against the glass to see what was going on and I guess the people walking down the halls had seen all the people lined up against the glass, so they crowed in behind them. And so is a big crowd there. And every person I saw had their hand in the heart. It’s things like that, that come to my mind as I think of America, I'm absolutely convinced that this nation is the greatest nation on earth. It is so because of the American people. A people who stand united when call upon by leaders to be united, a people who are motivated by freedom, personal, political and economic. And that if we want to have America continue to lead the world in this century, and provide to these young people and many in the audience an opportunity to have a better future, than even we, in my generation, enjoyed in the past that we must rekindle our commitment to those freedoms and of that sense of unity. And if I become president, with all the power of my soul, I will devote myself to creating a stronger America based upon freedom, so that we may remain in Ronald Reagan’s famous words, as that shining city on the hill. Thank you so much.
If you were capable of reading this transcript to this point, without falling asleep once, then you do have a serious problem and should seek medical assistance.