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?