Thursday, February 26, 2009

A democracy cannot exist...

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage.” - Alexander Tyler, “The Fall of the Athenian Republic ”, 1787

These were the words that came to mind as Obama spoke to Congress recently. This radical administration is now poised to transform our country in unimaginable ways. His address was riddled with bold-faced lies, beginning with his boast that the “stimulus” bill was passed without a single earmark. This claim was greeted by a standing ovation and a chorus of hurrumphs, perhaps in the hope that the scene would help sell the lie. He then said that he doesn’t believe in bigger government, yet never mentioned that he has spent $36 billion a day since taking office a little over a month ago – and the spending has only started.

His budget is massive and his rhetoric is the most anti-market, anti-capitalist speak this blogger has ever heard. For those who are attracted to such language just remember that we didn’t become the wealthiest, most prosperous nation in human history through collectivism. The most appalling component is his attempt at health care reform. In a time of recession he feels that it’s appropriate to tackle this expensive issue and he begins with a $600 billion “down payment”. In other words, this is just the beginning. The actual cost comes later, probably about the same time when we have to start paying back the $2 trillion additional dollars that he has already spent OUTSIDE of the federal budget. And speaking of spending outside the budget, does anyone know what happened to the $700 billion that Congress gave to avert the credit crisis? Neither do I. And Timmy Turbo-Tax now wants more money to spend on this ghostly program. Standing behind him is General Motors, whose portion of the bailout has vanished in the wind. No doubt they will be getting more of our dollars as well.

Obama wants to address the “energy crisis” with a cap-and-trade system on carbon emissions. Unemployment is pushing 9% and he supports an idea that will hurt our industry a great deal. Meanwhile, minimum wage continues to rise, further driving the unemployment rate up. And the markets? Every time this guy speaks the DOW plunges. It dropped another 200 points the day after his Congressional address. If you think that only hurts Wall Street executives, think again. That is our 401k, our IRA, our retirement, our net wealth that is plunging…and, yes, it’s also federal tax revenue as well. The stock market has no confidence in Obama. Today, it is trading at the same level as it was over a decade ago. To make matters worse, Obama plans to RAISE the capital gains tax rate. Yes, we are in a time when we NEED investment in the market, we NEED people to buy stock and invest in companies, and yet Obama plans to do the one thing that will DISCOURAGE such investment. Does he not know? Or does he simply not care?

But let’s not stop there. The Pelosi Congress will now be passing an additional $400 billion spending bill that will add to this year’s current budget. The interesting part of all this is that the bill ONLY covers 9 months of the year. 9 months, $400 billion. Oh yeah, it’s laden with earmarks. So far, over 9,000 earmarks have been identified in this bill. Remember, this is an omnibus spending bill. Congress has already passed a budget for 2009, and the “stimulus” has already been addressed. This bill adds to the year’s budget. $400 billion, 9 months, 9,000 congressional earmarks.

And even though we’ve wasted $750 billion trying to bail out banks, spent $1.2 trillion on “stimulus” liberal pet projects, added $400 billion to the year’s current budget, will soon be passing a $3.6 trillion 2010 budget, and will no doubt be giving Timmy Turbo Tax more money to throw at the banks...despite all of this, Obama STILL says he will cut the deficit in half by 2013. Please keep the laughter to a minimum, I think he really means it. How will he do this? Well, he will raise taxes, but only on the top 2% of taxpayers. Okay, I guess you can laugh now.

Does anyone take him at his word on this? Am I to believe that the top 2% of taxpayers have trillions of dollars they can pay in taxes? Folks, I’ll make a promise. If Obama does all of this while only raising taxes on the top 2%, then I’ll vote for him in 2012. Fat chance.

His tax plan will further drive up unemployment because the folks making >250K are usually small business owners. Their tax bill will go up, and they will cut costs as a result, probably starting with employment costs. More jobs lost.

My favorite quote was Obama’s description of tax cuts for the wealthy, he called it “an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy”. This says a lot, doesn’t it? See, I thought rich people actually earned their money, it belongs to them and they surrender a portion of it to the government. That’s not how Obama sees it. To him, that money belongs to all of us and it’s the government’s job to dole it out accordingly. So if we cut taxes for rich folks, we’re giving them more wealth. Wow. If that’s not Marxist, I don’t know what is.

We made a massive mistake in November. And we will be paying dearly for it, probably for decades. Here comes our bondage!

Monday, February 16, 2009

The real Obama?

For the past week I’ve listened to President Obama talk about urgency regarding our economy. We need to act now, delaying is not an option, we face the worst economy since the Great Depression, failure to act could lead to catastrophe, etc. Some of it has been politics as usual, some of it downright irresponsible. So much for all that “hope over fear” stuff. It appears Congress took his rhetoric to heart and acted urgently. So urgent, in fact, that they passed his stimulus package without even reading it – apparently to avoid further delay. As it happens, Obama won’t even sign the bill until tomorrow. Why? Because he is on vacation with his family.

Now, I don’t have a problem with our President taking a few days off. The stress of the job requires it. But it seems to me that the prudent thing to do would be inform Congress that he wouldn’t be available to sign the bill until tomorrow, thus allowing an additional 3-4 days before voting on it. Ideally, this would give them time to actually read the legislation. Of course, that would risk some nasty conservatives discovering things the American people may not like, and that pesky Fox News could actually report it. That was simply unacceptable. So urgency was the word du jour. As a result, we have the largest spending bill in American history and not one Congressman can tell us what’s in it. So much for transparency. Come to mention it I haven’t seen much in the way of leadership, pragmatism, prudence, cautioned thinking, inspiration, bipartisanship or reassurance from him. What I have seen is fear-mongering, chaos, lack of communication, panic (or at least the appearance of panic), recklessness, irresponsible rhetoric, gloating, and a general lack of historical knowledge. After all, this is NOT the worst economy since the Great Depression. Not even close.

In light of this, I have formed a few opinions of Obama. The only problem is that I’m not quite sure which one is right. To say the least, I have been very disappointed with his performance and empty promises. I’m sure many will chalk that up to partisanship despite my independent affiliation. But make no mistake, I am not the only one who holds these concerns. So, one month into it, I see Obama as one of two people:

1) The puppet. Obama is a young, bright, handsome, charismatic spokesperson out there selling the agenda of the Left. People like him because he is young, bright, handsome and charismatic therefore making him very electable. The actual agenda gets lost in the fray. He is a product of Chicago machine politics with someone else actually calling the shots. Ability to govern, to make executive decisions, and lead are not required so long as the puppeteers keep pulling the strings, even though eventually the lack of these attributes becomes apparent. This would explain why Obama allowed Pelosi and Reid to write his stimulus bill with very little objection. Even when public support for it began to wane and bipartisan Congressional support vanished, Obama did nothing to alter the bill. And despite his promise of transparency, he allowed them to ram it through Congress without allowing time for the actual bill to be read, and the public properly informed. This leads me to wonder: Who exactly is in charge up there? Obama showed no actual leadership despite urging us all to support “his” stimulus plan. Instead, he acted more like a salesman for Pelosi’s stimulus plan, steadily beating the drum of fear, like a snake-oil salesman warning us of impending death if we choose not to drink his tonic. When he isn’t taking cues from Pelosi/Reid, as in the case of choosing a cabinet, his executive decision-making leaves something to be desired. Without a puppeteer to pull the strings, the puppet just collapses. We’ll see if this trend becomes more of a definitive pattern.

2) The mastermind. President Obama is very much calling the shots with a clear intent on driving this country very far Left in a smoke-and-mirrors sort of way. He is able to put on a moderate face and talks a good centrist game, but his actions don’t match. Pelosi and Reid are enforcing his agenda, which is why they get no grief from the supposedly-centrist President when they put forth a Christmas tree of Left pet projects and massive spending labeled as stimulus. Their objective is to seize as much power as possible before the 2010 election with the hope of crushing conservatism. They pledge transparency but govern in secrecy, counting on the Left-friendly media not to call them on it. This would surely explain the stimulus package, the renewal of the fairness doctrine, the attempt to gain control of the census and all the redistricting and distribution of funds that goes along with it. They have a roadmap to Marxism and it requires the American people to be completely oblivious of their intentions as they transform us in baby steps rather than a Bolshevik-style revolution, stealth being the key. The hope being that by 2010 the wool will be sufficiently pulled down and the proper measures taken to guarantee power that they won’t have to worry about another GOP resurgence. This characterization of Obama certainly explains the affinity for Alinsky, his friendship with Ayers, his fellowship with Jeremiah Wright, his belief in a nanny state.

So which one is it? At this time that’s unclear. But so far I haven’t seen an alternative characterization. Unless, of course, we’re willing to believe that he has simply gotten in way over his head, is currently learning on the job, and at the moment has no idea what he’s doing. To be honest, I’m not sure which would be worse.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and now if I am wrong somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosper. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started. And enormous debt to boot."

--Henry Morgenthau, Secretary of Treasury under FDR, as written in his personal diary in May 1939

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Must I argue against socialism? Really?

Well, I guess it has come to this. Once upon a time we argued our differences between big government and small government. Conservative vs Liberal. Now that the spendulus package has passed, we have crossed into a new debate, one of capitalism and free markets vs socialism. There was a time when we wouldn’t dream of ever entertaining the notion of socialism in America. Well here we are. Earlier this week, Mitch McConnell said that once the spending bill is fully implemented nearly 40% of our GDP will be consumed by the federal government. What else can we call it if not socialism? I can’t believe I actually have to devote a post to point out the dangers of this kind of economic system. I can’t believe I actually have to tell people that Marx was wrong. Here goes:

First, socialism is a failed system. The countries that have tried have either fallen (USSR), in the process of falling (western Europe, North Korea, Cuba) or are slowly migrating towards capitalism (China). Why? Because socialism does not create wealth and prosperity in the populous. Socialism only meets the basic needs of its citizens, and it doesn’t even do that very well. Remember the bread lines in the Soviet Union? From those who are most able to those who are most in need is a utopian idea based on the assumption that there are more who are able – and willing – than there are in need. Eventually, those who are able grow weary of working for the collective and the motivation for labor vanishes. Ask yourself: Why do we work? We work to make money so that we can support ourselves and our family, purchase goods and services and pursue our own individual happiness. In a socialist system they work to support society as a whole, other people and their families, many of whom do little to pull their own weight. That can only last so long.

Eventually the money dries up. As Margaret Thatcher once said, eventually we run out of the people’s money. Socialism deteriorates. It brings the collective down. The poor stay poor and the rich get poorer. If a worker labors hard and doesn’t profit from that labor, then how long can we expect him to continue laboring hard?

In ideal circumstances it creates a single economic class, but that class lives in substandard conditions. The only people who get wealthy from socialism are the politicians who raid and steal from the treasury, abusing their power to line their pockets. Can anyone name one non-politician who got wealthy in a socialist system?

Not only that, but socialism is incongruent with liberty. When people depend on the collective for basic needs, thus depending on the government to meet those needs, they are not free. The government can set the rules and change them at will. The government can dictate how people live their lives and the people have no say in the matter because the government controls the money, thus controlling food, housing, medical care, education, lending, and just about every other basic service we are currently free to enjoy. Even when socialist societies have elections those votes are useless because those who depend on the government are not going to vote against the politicians who provide their basic needs. This is the strategy of modern-day American progressives. The more people who depend on you for stuff, the more votes you effectively buy for the next election. This is not freedom. But it is an effective way to guarantee power. When I see people on welfare, medicare and food stamps; people who need the government for their education, their retirement, their jobs; when I see people like this I see people who are under the boot of politicians with little or no hope of controlling their own destiny. And there are more and more people like this every day.

Capitalism is not a perfect system. Indeed no such system exists. The freedom to pursue happiness comes at a cost, and that’s usually in the form of greed. And greed can create victims. Controlling greed is vital. It requires moral fiber and self-control, something that is becoming rare in America. If we can’t control our own greed we then seal our own fate.

There is suffering in capitalists systems, but it pales in comparison to the suffering we see when people have lost liberty. Because even when people are victimized by capitalism, they still are free to overcome their circumstances and re-ascend to prosperity. It’s a common tale of success. Despite the occasional victim, capitalism generates wealth and prosperity, it LIFTS the collective. America is the wealthiest nation on the planet. Even our poorest are very well off compared to the impoverished in foreign lands. And what’s even better is that those poor have the freedom to change their circumstances. That freedom does not exist in a socialistic society becomes the government has the power and will do everything it can to keep from relinquishing it.

Do you think for a second that the Democrats want people to get off of welfare? To handle their own retirement? To handle their own medical care? Of course not. If that were to happen then the party would lose votes. Their power depends on people who want handouts and they are more than willing to give the handouts at the expense of others.

With the passage of this spending bill we have transformed our economy to a European socialist model. Soon to come: high inflation, high interest rates and, yes, massive taxation. The collective will descend from prosperity. The economy will become stagnant. Jimmy Carter tried this already and the people rejected it. Now Obama seems to want to give it another go. The question is: Can we reverse it? Or will we even be willing to?
Common sense tells us that all capitalist systems eventually collapse into socialism as a result of greed if the people fail to control their greed. The people discover they have the power to vote themselves rewards from the treasury, and they abuse that power, unknowingly transferring it to the government. Is this a lesson we can learn from history and avoid? Or will we have to endure our own failed socialism experiment?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My thoughts on Obama’s rather long-winded press conference last night:

The press has really become pathetic. I couldn’t believe the lollipop questions. Perhaps if they stopped the adoring puppy-love gazes for a while someone would be able to come up with a relevant question. My favorite was the Alex Rodriguez steroid question. Does anyone care what the President thinks about this? Too bad the mic was cut before we heard the follow up question: What do you think of Hannah Montana’s new hairstyle?

Kudos to Major Garrett for asking the only significant question of the night. This, of course, led to Obama throwing his Vice President under the bus, joining President Bush, members of Congress, conservative commentators, the evil capitalist bankers, all prior elected representatives and pretty much anyone who has ever held a job in Washington. On that note, I will say that Obama was effective in changing the tone of his administration from one of inspiration and hope to one of fear and gloomdom. I always thought the President should be a voice of optimism and reassurance, a person who personifies strength in times of crisis, who makes us all comfortable that his hands are firmly on the steering wheel of our country. Obama hasn’t exactly portrayed that image lately, and last night was no different. He couldn’t even explain his own Vice President, much less his monstrous spending bill.

But he was sure to point out – numerous times – that this wasn’t his fault. He inherited this mess, which no doubt sets up his explanation in four years for why it failed. He can’t blame Republicans in Congress, since they didn’t vote for it, so plan B is to blame the prior administration. What was that about a new kind of politics? America wants leadership from our President, not whining about the problems you inherited. Unless I’m mistaken, you asked for the job, Mr. Obama.

I’m not sure how many times he was dishonest with us because I stopped counting at 7. 1) He contends that the plan isn’t perfect but the alternative is to do nothing, which is what the GOP is advocating. WRONG. I’m not aware of anyone in Congress who argues that we should do nothing. Instead, they have offered a strategy of tax cuts that have been proven to create jobs. 2) He stated that if the GOP wanted their voice heard they should bring him a proposal that creates 4 million jobs. See above. Actually, the GOP claims they would create more than 4 million jobs with their proposal, so I guess they didn’t meet Obama’s exact requirements.

3) Japan experienced the lost decade because they didn’t do enough. WRONG. As Dick Morris said, Japan quadrupled their national debt via stimulus packages meant to reverse their ailing economy, and yet this massive spending did nothing except for increase the speed of the spiral. 4) “I don’t know what Joe was talking about” – This is a blatant lie. Of course he knew, and we all know that Joe was talking about the spending package. How stupid does he think we are? 5) “I will demand that our laws are enforced (pp)” – Except, of course, when it comes to his aunt who is living in this country illegally and in contempt of court. 6) The contention that our economic problems are a result of the policies of the past 8 years. Again, this is very dishonest. The economic problems are a result of the housing bubble collapse. This was due to two things: government sponsored social engineering in the mortgage industry and bank deregulation. Both measures were passed during Clinton’s time. Bush had nothing to do with it. However, his tax cuts DID rescue us from a recession earlier this decade and prevented another after 9-11.

But if the press refuses to call him on it, why wouldn’t Obama blame Bush for pretty much everything?

And lie #7, the most laughable of all – “There are no earmarks in this bill”. Excuse me?

But my favorite moment was his brush-off of GOP criticism. He rationalized spending $1 trillion and mortgaging my kids’ futures by essentially saying the Republicans were big spenders when they were in power – so they have no right to complain. Okay. What about the 50% of America who is complaining? Do we have a right? Or are we too dumb to understand the situation?

Last night was a joke. He did not explain the massive pork, did not explain how jobs would be created, did not explain how this would affect the next generation and didn’t explain that even at his best estimate of 4 million jobs each job would cost about $300,000 to create. Nothing of the sort. Instead it was basically: I know what’s best, don’t worry yourselves with it. Very paternalistic. Very insulting. A very disappointing first month.

My opinion of this man is being reshaped on a daily basis, and I am deeply concerned about what’s going on in Washington and which direction he appears to be taking us.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Obama administration is up in arms about recent news regarding Wall Street executives handing out some $18 billion in employee bonuses. Yes, these are the same companies that received taxpayer bailout funds. Yes, these are the same companies that can't seem to account for all the money they received from Uncle Sam. Yet, they are able to meet these extravagant bonuses. Obama is right to be upset about this.

It seems the going opinion is that any company that receives taxpayer funding should be forced to play by a different set of rules. I can't say that I would argue that point. But I will say that we are all quite foolish to expect the Wall Street executives to behave any differently. We all know that many corporate elites are greedy, that they don't really care about mainstream America, that they have already demonstrated irresponsible behavior in helping get us to our current economic situation. Which makes me wonder: why give them taxpayer dollars? And why should we be surprised when they don't spend that money responsibly? I'm not exactly sure we don't share some of the blame here.

On the other side of the country, a 33 year old woman gives birth to octuplets. What makes this a bit frustrating is that she did this through in vitro fertilization, a procedure used for people who are otherwise infertile. Except she wasn't infertile. She already had 6 children. Not only that but she is single, unemployed and living with her parents. Yet, somehow a doctor felt is was reasonable to perform IVF on her and now she has 14 children. And I'd be willing to bet what's left of my savings that she - in one way or another - is dependent on the government. No, I can't prove it, so we'll call it a guess. Assuming that I'm right, we now have an ethical situation. Should we scrutinize an individual's personal situation before performing these fertility procedures?

The conservative in me says no. When you start to restrict reproduction in certain people you are flirting with eugenics - a theory embraced by fascists and many progressive thinkers. Eugenics is dangerous and has no role in a free society.

However, when taxpayer dollars are involved it sort of changes the game, just like it does with Wall Street. If this woman were married and financially secure, I would extend her my best wishes and wish her well. But that doesn't appear to be the situation. Instead, it appears as though the taxpayer will foot at least some of the bill for these kids.

I believe the doctor shares some of the blame. It would have been easy to simply claim that the procedure was not medically indicated and refuse to do it. After all, she already had six kids, so fertility wasn't exactly an issue. I think holding him partially accountable wouldn't be a bad idea. This was irresponsible medical practice.

Folks, you can't even go to the local animal shelter to adopt a stray dog without having to demonstrate that you're capable of providing for that dog. And yet, somehow, the same rules don't apply to humans?

So if Wall Street should abide by new rules in exchange for taxpayer dollars, why not our everyday citizens? Simple. Taxpayer dollars should not be used for fertility treatments. Period. This would stop the irresponsible practice of hospitals and doctors.

And anyone on government assistance who have children via expensive fertility treatments should have their funding cut. If you can afford $15,000 for in vitro fertilization, then you don't need taxpayer dollars to buy groceries. And government funding must not increase after 2 children. If you're poor and need government assistance, then you need to be responsible enough to not have more than 2 children. It may sound cruel, but people need to start behaving more responsibly. The US taxpayer has had enough.

I would also support legal action on behalf of the taxpayer against the doctors who performed this procedure.