Monday, July 6, 2009

More Thoughts Upon Reflecting on the Fourth of July

I had a series of thoughts this morning that started with social security and ended up at G(overnment) Motors and Chrysler.

Remember when there was a conservative party, and they espoused privatization of a small portion of individual social security accounts, allowing individuals to invest as they saw fit and potentially earn higher returns. The opposition has always seen themselves as better stewards of personal earnings that those who actually earn, and scared the retired or near-retiring population into pressuring their “representatives” to “save” social security from those evil conservatives. Their reasoning was that you could lose money through investments you choose yourself, which is, of course, a potential. Especially if you invested your money in corporate bonds, which we now know can be completely devalued by government intervention even more than by free market pressures and fluctuations.

Fast forward to today, when the current government is spending money that we do not have at a rate that would embarrass even the most profligate spenders. Surely they realize that this spending will – someday – have to be covered.

It may seem a bit Machiavellian, but how about this? We use all the government and political machinations at our disposal to drive a major segment of US industry into the ground. We mandate what they produce in spite of market demands and hobble them with Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. Insist they build tiny, unsafe plastic cars that won’t carry a family, never mind the buying public wants, and is willing to pay for, a mini-van, mid-sized SUV, or a full sized pick-up. When the industry finally succumbs to government/political intervention, we use the power of government printing presses to bail them out, and then mandate how they are divided up in a “surgical bankruptcy”. Ignoring all established bankruptcy case law, not to mention the constitutional prohibitions against government “taking”, people who have never managed a lemonade stand divide up the remains. They give the lion’s share to the unions, claim a disproportionate share of the remains to the government, and leave the stripped bones to the rightful, secured creditors, the bond-holders. Now we have “labor” in a position where they can fire “management”, and the government in position to pocket a large percentage of any potential profits, assuming there is an improvement in the market someday in the future. Does that not define nationalization?

Consider this definition of fascism, from The Library of Economics and Liberty (

“Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society’s economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the “national interest” — that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it. (Nevertheless, a few industries were operated by the state.) Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. In doing all this, fascism denatured the marketplace. Entrepreneurship was abolished. State ministries, rather than consumers, determined what was produced and under what conditions.”
(emphasis added)

So … back to how we pay for all the “stimulus spending in which we are engaged. We nationalize large, wealth producing segments of the economy and use the proceeds to pay off the vote-buying spending in which we have recently wallowed.
Hey … isn’t that what Hugo Chavez would do?
Is this “Change We Can Believe In”?
Is this change we can survive?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Thoughts on the 5th of July

After re-reading the Declaration of Indepenence over the weekend, I invite your attention to a few things we should all ponder (just might win me a spot on Secretary Napolitano's A-list) :

Consider the utter disregard for case law and precedent in the actions surrounding the federal acquisition and distribution of GM and Chrysler.

Consider the aristocratic questioning of corporate CEO’s use of business jets by members of congress whose travel budgets have skyrocketed over the past few years. Please have someone explain to me how a congressional delegation’s trip – including family members – to the Galapagos Islands is of any lasting benefit to ANY of their constituents other than themselves and their family members. And guess how many of them fly commercial?

Observe the ongoing and continuous revelations that many members of our elected aristocracy have, by their own admission, committed actions for which we – their “employers” - would undoubtedly be tried, convicted, and sentenced to at least make recompense if not incarceration. Just try not claiming income, for which you have been advised that you owe taxes, on YOUR tax forms, or “forget” to declare a rather substantial amount of rental income (at least for those of us who actually PAY our taxes)– over a period of years. The hypocrisy of men like Charles Rangel, Christopher Dodd, and Timothy Geithner establishing national fiscal policy and determining how OUR money is spent is positively stunning.

Look at your taxes! Not just your withholding at the end of each pay period, but ALL your taxes. After the aristocracy takes their piece, you are left with something in the neighborhood of 75% of YOUR earnings on which to live and raise your family. But wait … most of what spend is inflated with a sales tax burden, making it cost 7-9% more than it should, and that’s just the direct sales tax. It doesn’t factor in the impact on your budget of the taxes levied on everyone involved in getting that product to your hands. Then look at your monthly bills and add up all the taxes, levies, “program” support charges and such that city, county, and state governments have added to your monthly cost of living. Just take a line by line look at your utility, phone, cable/satellite/internet, water & sewer, and almost any other bill you receive. Then there are taxes to register your car, taxes to fuel your car, taxes to stay in a hotel room, Add up those charges and see how much deeper the government has its hand in your pocket. “Tax Freedom Day” this year in California – the day when you finally started earning for yourself – was calculated to be April 20th. You worked about 110 days – almost a third of the year - for someone else.

Remember. The government aristocrats do not produce wealth, they merely take it from those who do, and use it to buy votes from those who do not. Anything the government gives to one person it must take from another.

I then invite your attention to the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. It seems particularly relevant recently.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Obama's Budget "Cuts"

Let’s say I make $50K/year, and I lay out a budget for next year that spends, let’s say, $50 Million. Then I trim $5K from that proposed spending. Can I claim to be a budget cutter?

According to the hardly conservative New York Times on Monday May 11th, the president’s estimated budget deficit for fiscal 2010 is $1.26 trillion, up from a prior estimate of $1.17 trillion. Just the upward revision is nearly five times the $17 Billion of “cuts” referred to in your editorial. Please explain for me how this can in any comprehensible way be defined as a “budget cut”.

The difference between my personal analogy and what the government is doing is the fact that I have limited ability to “enhance my revenues”. I can’t go into the basement and print money, and I can’t get into my neighbor’s revenues because I know better how to spend his money than he does.

And before you quote the administration talking points blaming the past administration and referring to the horrible mess they “inherited”, remember two things. It occurs to me that they ran long and hard for that privilege, and Article One, Sections Seven and Eight of the Constitution – to the degree that they still pay any attention to it – lay all fiscal power on the doorstep of the Congress, not the White House.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Greatest Generation ... and Mine

Tom Brokaw’s 1998 book gave title to my parent’s generation. With the exception of the founders, they may well have been the “The Greatest Generation” … not only in our national history, but in the history of the world.

The young 18-25 year old men and women who rose to the challenges of world war in Europe and the Pacific inarguably saved the world from decidedly evil forces and, as stated so eloquently by Colin Powell, the only land we ever asked from our vanquished enemies was enough to bury our dead.

This they did after living through the “Great Depression” (I certainly hope the period is able to hold its title) of the 30’s. When they came back from the war, they began rebuilding a peacetime economy the likes of which had never been seen anywhere else in the world. They did this by sacrificing their desires for a better future for their children and grandchildren. They stayed in smaller homes than they might have liked. They drove their cars a little longer than they might have liked. They might have run a tab at the local grocery store, or had a smallish “revolving charge account” at Sears or Montgomery Ward in order to buy a washer and dryer, but they most decidedly did NOT carry thousands – or tens of thousands – of high interest credit card debt to buy the newest big-screen TV for themselves or newest game box for their children (us).

Their elected representatives were also a bit more responsible. One I recall from a period when I was much younger – probably early 1970s – addressing the federal budget, said something like “$10 million here and $20 million there, and pretty soon you’re talking about big money.” Our generation of “representatives” says the same thing, but they are speaking of HUNDREDS of BILLIONS of dollars, and "representatives" like Charles Schumer actually say that we "don't care".

So – getting back to the “generations” theme … the “Greatest Generation” willingly sacrificed their comforts and aspirations and desires in order to provide a much better future for their children and grandchildren.

Conversely, this generation (mine) is, on an increasing scale and frighteningly rapid pace, sacrificing the aspirations and desires of our children and grandchildren on the altar of our own instant gratification. If you think about it, it leaves my group in an enviable position … generations before and after us, all sacrificing for our comfort … SWEET!

I wonder … what kind of world are we leaving for Allison and Jackson – my grandchildren – and will they have anywhere near the respect for us in 40 years as we have for our fathers.

Sadly, I expect not.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Advice & Consent

Article II, Section 2

“he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for”

It was the sworn constitutional duty of the Senate to determine the facts, and then either advise the President that the selection was unacceptable or consent and allow Mr. Geithner to take office. Has the consent of the Senate become a mere formality if the President is sufficiently popular – at the moment – or if he is a member of the party holding a majority?

It doesn't matter, now that the confirmation is over, but I feel strongly that the appointment of Mr. Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury was completely unacceptable, even if only part of what has been reported is accurate.

If in fact the IMF did advise Mr. Geithner that he was obligated to pay taxes on his earnings, in a form which he signed, then the “oversight” is, at the very least, negligent.

If, as also reported, the IMF even sent him the money to pay the taxes, and he did anything else with the funds, it would appear to me to be criminal fraud. Is that not what it would be if I withheld payroll taxes from an employee and spent them rather than sent them in to the IRS?

It should not matter if he is the “smartest guy in the room” or the “best qualified to help the administration navigate the current financial crisis”. When I worked for the DoD we were annually advised – in the strongest terms – to “avoid any appearance” of compromise or wrong-doing. This is way beyond appearance. By his own testimony, he withheld payment of taxes that he KNEW were owed.

How can a citizen have any level of faith or confidence in our tax system when the man who runs the entire department has a history of holding out – until such time as he is exposed to the sunlight of public scrutiny?

Inappropriate and oppressive taxation lead to the stirrings of rebellion that gave birth to our nation. How much more oppressive can taxation be than for the governors to levy taxes on the governed, but exempt or excuse themselves?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I’m Just Askin’

Just in case some of my liberal friends stumble across this … just consider with an open mind. Honest answers only please – you only have to respond privately and to your own conscience.

What would an entertainer like Kanye West say about the White House response to 28 deaths from the ice storms in Kentucky? Where is FEMA with emergency generators and supplies? Where is the press … shouldn’t they be there reporting the administrations slow response? Why hasn’t the president cared enough to visit the area – it’s been five days since the storm. Doesn’t he care about white folk?

Where’s the outrage?

How loud would Keith Olbermann be screaming at his cameras if men with the same “problems” as Tim Geithner and Tom Daschle were appointed by President Bush?

How much noise if Charles Rangel were a republican?

How loud would CNN and MSNBC be complaining about the “chilling effect” of white house suppression of “freedom of expression” if President Bush made remarks about the commentators on failed “Air America” similar to those by President Obama about Rush?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Back Door Entitlement Increases

Does anyone with the slightest understanding of liberal politicians and their long-term tactic of incremental change not understand what’s going on here?

There are (and will be more) long sought after increases in various “entitlements” which, though never able to make it through the legislative process on their own merits, have been rolled into the “economic stimulus legislation”.

The bill will pass just like the last time, because this is such an emergency - even though only about 12% of it is actually stimulative. The entitlement increases are not "sunsetted" or even being referred to as “temporary because of the economic crisis”, but even if they were, is there anything more permanent than a “temporary” government entitlement program?

Our children will pay for them ... long after we're gone.

About eight years ago I told a group of eager young students preparing to enter college and embark on the rest of their lives I was sorry that my generation hadn't left them the same country that the "greatest generation" left to me. It was sincere and heart-felt then, and I feel it even more now.