Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Another crisis

Was it not just a little over a month ago that we had a crisis concerning the national debt? Now we have another? We are just lucky that we have President Obama to save us yet again.

This is beginning to sound as frustrating as the Incredibles. You know, Mr. Incredible stated at the beginning of the movie that he was wondering why he had to keep on saving the world. Could the world not just stay saved? At least for a little while? President Obama must be feeling the same way.

If the situation were not so serious we could all just laugh at it. In addition, we are seeing similar problems in Europe. The world markets are all showing signs of instability and no wonder. Two of the largest economic blocs in the world are going through financial crisis after crisis. Sooner or later, something big will happen.

Intervention by President Obama saved us from falling off an economic cliff back in 2009. We have been staving off disaster after disaster since then. It is very possible that sooner or later, our governments’ responses will become ineffective. Events will then be out of control and we will see the financial disaster that President Obama so artfully avoided. Well, hopefully things will not work out this way. I still have hope. However, I do not give President Obama any credit for saving us from anything but a temporary situation. Maybe what we really need is saving from those very
policies that seem to be so temporary at best.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Capitalists are crooks

When the Soviet Union broke up, an attempt was made to make Russia a capitalist country. For the political left, this is a classic example of how entrepreneurs are crooks and bad people. The centralized economy that had existed for decades prior to this event did not allow for entrepreneurs to excel legally, so they had been underground. A very large percentage of the Soviet economy was the black market simply because so many needs could not be met by the economic system legally. They NEEDED the black market just to meet many basic needs and to survive. In many cases, these are the same economic leaders that we have in this country. So our ‘rich’ CEO’s are really just a legalized version of the mob. Naturally, the crooks that took over the Soviet economy abused the system and created a backlash that has placed Russia pretty much back in the same situation they were before.

Where I differ in opinion is that entrepreneurs are not necessarily crooks. You can drive plenty of honest people into illegal activity for many, many reasons. And our society is moving that way for plenty of reasons, many of which are the same. Most people do attempt to be honest, at least in the culture that they grew up in. I also differ in that most people will put in an honest day’s work, if the motivation exists. And it is just too bad for those who lack that motivation. A small percentage simply can’t provide enough productivity to sustain them, but this is a more easily supported minority because in most, if not all cultures, the percentage is well under 5 % of the working population. That is low enough for any population to help sustain. The point is that it was the closed economic system that was responsible for so many in the old Soviet Union being ‘crooks’.

A certain percentage of any population will do harm to others in order to benefit themselves. Having a closed economic system with only few outlets for human expression and creativity will force many more into a life of ‘crime’ than would otherwise. After a few generations, this attitude of breaking the law will become entrenched. It will take decades to overcome at the very least. Having an open economic system with many outlets for energetic activity actually allows the most positive (And negative) human attributes to express themselves. Most people will choose not to be criminals so this system allows those who are ‘on the fence’ a legal option. Because of its openness, capitalism does give more opportunity to real criminals. However, the economic history of the United States has demonstrated that the creativity unleashed by a capitalist system more than compensates for enhanced ability to do wrong. In other words, capitalism allows for human nature better than any other economic system devised so far. This is a major reason as to why capitalism is so successful.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The 'Rich'

President Obama said in a clip yesterday that a teacher or person who makes $50,000 a year should not be paying a greater percentage of income taxes than a person who makes $250,000 a year should. In theory this sounds reasonable. What I see is that using teachers is a bad example. Teachers in the United States typically get their summers off. I sure as hell would like to make that kind of money AND have all summers off! (I know a couple of teachers who play golf and have a pretty decent handicap. I wonder how they have that much time.) Teachers also get sick time and tend to have other days off (Institute days) that the rest of the working world does not have. And this is all before we speak about pensions. Then we should speak about how teachers are protected like no others. Just attempt to fire a bad one and see how difficult it can be. This goes for any government employee for that matter. Naturally, some positions are more protected than others are. The point is that the system is set up that way. This is another place where our President and I disagree.

Typically, the person who makes the kind of money that President Obama calls ‘The rich’ are much more vulnerable to being let go (Or going bankrupt) than those who do not. (An exception is government employees, but lets skip that for now.) And if let go, it is much more difficult to replace that type of position. It is not like those types of jobs grow on trees. The responsibilities that go with that type of position should be much greater than those jobs that pay far less should. The point that I am attempting to make is that it is far easier to force people to be downwardly mobile than to encourage the system to produce upwardly mobile individuals. Taxation on a capitalist system does this. Naturally, any system can sustain a certain percentage of drain without serious effect. Capitalism is stronger than any other, so that percentage is higher. Even then, the percentage is not all that high before you begin to effect the system in a negative way. (We reached that point a very long time ago.)

President Obama believes that government can allocate the wealth of the nation better, more effectively and more ‘fairly’ than private organizations or the individual can. So it makes sense that taxation is one of the tools to ‘level the playing field’. I do not just disagree. Our country’s history has demonstrated that government does NOT allocate the wealth of the nation more effectively. And ‘fair’ is a decidedly subjective concept. What is ‘fair’ to you can be entirely different than what it means to me. The same can be said about the term ‘rich’.

To a homeless person, a person who has a job at McDonalds is a ‘rich’ person. Not to mention that ‘rich’ can mean many different things, like a very ‘rich’ or ‘full’ life. You can’t measure that concept. It is entirely subjective. I find it interesting that President Obama is now talking about ‘class warfare’. This can only be the result of the idea of subjectively discriminating against a group of people as he is doing with the group of people that he calls ‘rich’.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


In February of 2010, (Just prior to the passage of the Health Care bill) I made the first political phone calls of my life. I called my Representative in the U.S. House and both of my U.S. Senators. I told them that I was in my 50’s and had never been politically active. I had never sent any political campaign any money. From what I have been reading and seeing on TV, the Health Care bill was not popular. If it is passed against what I see as the will of the American people, I will become active and I will send in money. I figure that I am not alone.

I guess they figured that this was the only chance that they would get in the foreseeable future. So they passed it anyway.

“We have to pass this bill so that YOU can find out what is in it.” Man, they must have really, really wanted this bill. This burns so badly that I am worried about the strength of the republic. The backlash from this can only be hoped to be contained somewhat. A possible situation:

In 2013, the Republicans take control of both houses of Congress with huge majorities. The White House makes it a clean sweep. So they make a bill that eliminates 50% of social security payments and place it on a better financial footing. After the bill becomes law, THEY can figure out what it does. Now republicans address other social programs in the same way. After the bills are signed, THEY can figure out what it does. The next bill proposed makes all property owners votes count as five votes. Or how about making women’s votes count as ½ a vote? You get the picture.

The backlash can become even more extreme than the act of passing Health Care. I know that these are extreme situations and are very unlikely. It is more likely that the backlash will not have sustaining power beyond the next presidential election, but that is a roll of the dice. What I do want to point out is that desperate situations call for desperate actions. If the situation or ‘crisis’ is really, really desperate, who the hell knows what can happen if our leadership uses concepts like ‘We need to pass this so that YOU can find out what we are doing to YOU.” Anything could be a ‘go’ no matter what the American public believes or says. Where will the republic be then?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Saving whose job?

In my last post, I mentioned how President Obama had emphasized that the Americans who are out of work couldn’t wait until the next election. So we need to pass this jobs bill ’right away’. This way, we can put America back to work. Economically speaking, it will take 6 months to a year for this job bill to really have an impact, if it is to work at all. Just in time for next year’s election.

Naturally, everyone believes that they do a good job. I am certain that President Obama believes this as well. And naturally, he wants to be re-elected. And if he were able to get the economy roaring again, the prospect of his re-election would be much higher, if not assured. So passing this job bill is doing two things at once: President Obama believes that it will work and create many new jobs. At the same time, it will help his re-election campaign immensely. I do not blame him for this. As a capitalist, I understand the motivation to protect and improve ones position as well as improvement of your property. In fact, I encourage it. Nobody can take care of your property better than you can. Where I differ from President Obama on this issue is that he does not believe that what his jobs bill does is actually the opposite of allowing the individual to take better care of his/her property. The Health Care bill is a case in point. This Health Care bill shows that government can run the system better than if it is privately owned and managed. And we needed to pass it so that ‘YOU can find out what is in it.’ The American jobs bill sounds like the Health Care bill and the stimulus that was passed in 2009 all wrapped up in one.

President Obama is pushing for the bill to be passed without any changes and is refusing to compromise. I do have to give him credit for being consistent. What is different in this case is that his political position is much weaker. Republicans now control the Congressional House and the public view of his effectiveness is VERY low. I believe that he called a joint session of Congress and is pushing this bill to be passed ‘right away’ in order to save his own job.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The President's speech

I have to admit. I was expecting to find lots of things to dislike about the upcoming presidential speech. I am a conservative and would naturally find lots of things to disagree about. I was not disappointed.

Our President called a joint session of Congress. Usually a President calls for this when a major issue of the national government is at hand. Such as when FDR asked a joint session of Congress to declare war against Japan. Or after 9/11 when a foreign organization implemented an overt, direct attack upon the United States. The American Jobs Act may be important. It is not on the same level.

President Obama mentioned ‘crisis’ several times. This financial ‘crisis’ must be VERY important to call a joint session of Congress. Yet I remember having been told by this administration back in early 2009 that we had been saved from ‘falling off the economic cliff’. And here we are 2 and ½ years later and this economic ‘cliff’ is back. So the first effort must not have worked all that well. And if the early ‘crisis’ was so dire, why did he not call for a joint session of Congress at that point? I agree that we have an economic problem today. I am attempting to point out how our leadership sees the ‘crisis’ differently today.

One major point that President Obama wished to impart is that unemployed Americans can’t wait the 14 months until the next election. They need action, NOW. So pass this bill right away. He repeated this a number of times. I have not seen nor heard much about this bill yet. So we should pass it before we know what it does? Sounds like “We must pass this bill so that YOU can find out what is in it.” And our President called a joint session of Congress for this? Hurry up and study this bill so that we can pass it and save the country? I was of the impression that he was not speaking to me, nor was he speaking to the Senate. He was addressing the House of Representatives. President Obama did not need to call for a joint session of Congress to speak to the House of Representatives.

Now I am going to become picky. President Obama is a good orator. He speaks well and sounds like a moderate, who listens and works well with others. As he wrapped up his speech, President Obama showed his dedication, enthusiasm along with firmness of belief when he described how he rejected the idea that we have to strip away collective bargaining rights in order to compete in the global economy. You could just tell that he really believes this and is very firm about it. Then his voice began to trail off as he ended his speech with ‘God bless you’. His voice then dropped much lower as he said, “And God bless the United States of America” and he turned his back at the cameras. Maybe I am putting too much into this, but it sure seemed to me that he did not really want to say that last sentence. It was like an afterthought. Let’s just get it over with. I had the distinct impression that his heart was not in it. Particularly when compared to the enthusiasm he showed earlier. What a lame ending of a speech where he called for a joint session of Congress.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Eating crow

The following is a quote from a comment about my post on how government does not respond well.

“The last time I received service like that from a public office...yesterday at the library. A women listen to my story of why my books were late, removed the fine and then assisted me in finding the books I needed. When I could not get them, she ordered them from another library and showed me how I can do that online from my home.”

Excellent! It just goes to show me two things: That the people in government are NOT out to get you. It is not the individual that is a problem. It is the system. The system is just not effective in running an economy. Please note how it was a teaching moment and it is in his best interest to learn how to do it himself. Not have someone else do it for him. Once again, the history of the United States should be adequate proof of this.

The second thing is that the best response will be at the local level. The higher up you go into any organization, the less responsive it becomes. This applies to business and non-profit organizations as well. What really cripples government (Among other things) is the inability to fire people. People like the librarian in this example are NOT the problem. It is the ones who are not working out and you can’t get rid of that are the problem. What is even more important, is that the person who should be fired in many cases will actually do better if they are forced to take a new direction that better suits their strengths. Business can (except in union shops) and frequently do this. I see it all the time where I work. And I have gone through it. It can really be a soul-searching event. I have benefited from it beyond what I expected. Government employees are just as human as the rest of us.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

War is a crime comment

I pulled this quote from dated 8/29/11. The quote is in reference to Palestinian statehood.

"In other words, willingness to sacrifice independence and stay occupied are requisites to avoid attacks and other retaliatory actions."

The argument is that statehood is not to be sought because it will expose the new nation to open attacks and ‘other retaliatory actions.’ If they want to avoid this, then don’t seek statehood. I disagree.

Israel is responding to attacks. Israel is not the one that is initiating the attacks. Statehood will add a huge dimension to this. Lets say an attack, like so many in the past, is launched from land that the new state controls. Any Israeli response into that same land will then become an invasion of a sovereign country making it a formal act of war. (The initial attack was also an act of war, but this has been going on for so long and so many times that this is virtually ignored.) The possibility of other national governments (Like Egypt or Jordan) becoming directly involved are much greater if a national governments’ sovereignty is violated rather than if the land is just ‘occupied’.

The prevention of Palestinian statehood is to be attempted because the probability of open warfare is much greater if it is implemented. Any of the current violence going on today could much more easily result in making the conflict an international one with all of the implications that implies for the entire region. This is a much larger issue and far more important than avoidance of attack or threats of retaliatory action.