Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Obama Care goes to Senate Floor

All of the Democratic Senators plus Socialist Bernie Saunders and "Independent" Joe Lieberman voted to send the government healthcare take over bill to the floor for debate.

Lieberman still claims that he will not vote for the final bill if it includes the "public option" (government run program). Is he serious or just posturing???

At one point, Senator Mary Landrieu was making similar noises, but then she got a $300 million payoff from Harry Reid. She bragged about it and then voted for the bill.

This is how your government actually works. This is why we are in so much trouble.

Ron Paul bill to Audit Fed wins in House Committe

Well, here is some good news for once. Ron Paul's bill to audit the Federal Reserve Bank passed the House Financial Services committee by a vote of 43-26. The bill has 309 co-sponsors, so it should sail through the House.

The the Federal Reserve and the rest of the financial establishment are up in arms, panicked with the thought of us rubes on main street finding out what goes on behind their closed doors.

So, at the last minute, Barney Frank tried to sabotage the bill by proposing an amendment that would have essentially gutted the bill.

The bill still has to pass the House, without being gutted by Barney Frank, Mel Watt, and the rest of the establishment. Then it has to pass the Senate. Then the two bills needs to be reconciled and pass the House and Senate again.

We're still along way from knowing what goes on behind the closed doors of the fed. But it's a good start. Congratulations Dr. Paul!

Republican lawmaker says he would 'consider' a war tax as last resort

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said he would "consider" supporting the Democrats war surtax should President Barack Obama withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan.

I have news for Mr. King -- the "war" (actually a misguided nation building exercise) cannot be won. The Russians couldn't subdue the unruly Afghanis. Neither could Bush. Obama won't be able to either.

A REAL conservative would not be in favor of flushing American tax money down the toilet.

We need to get out of Afghanistan and then spend a fraction of war money on bribing the Afghani war loads to do what we want. It worked in Egypt -- we've been paying the dictator Mubarak a relatively small amount every year to make nice with Israel. He has.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Is the Collapse of the Dollar a Blessing in Disguise?

Over the last several weeks there have been rumors that a group of countries, including China, Russia, Japan, France, and the oil rich Gulf States are preparing to dump the dollar for oil trades. This follows months of speculation that many of the same countries have been working to replace the dollar as the world's primary reserve currency with a new international monetary standard based on a basket of currencies. The dollar has been plunging on world markets.

Why is this import? Well, because the massive and ever increasing U.S. government debt has been largely financed by foreign countries. When a country sells us products for dollars, it can use the dollars in four ways:
• It can buy things from us
• It can buy things (like oil) from other counties that are priced in dollars
• It can invest in U.S. assets (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc)
• It can lend the money to the U.S. government to finance deficit spending

Countries like China sell us products for dollars. They lend a lot of this money to the U.S. government to finance deficit spending. China also uses some of the dollars to buy oil, which is priced in dollars. The countries who sell oil for dollars also use their dollars to finance U.S. government debt.

If countries stop taking dollars for oil and other products they sell to us, it will be the end of the U.S. government’s ability to borrow enormous sums of money. If that happens, the days of big government would soon be over because they wouldn’t have the money to keep spending. That’s a very good thing.

The question is how it would happen? If the world dumps the dollar, the government will have two choices. They can cut spending and live within their means. Or they can turn the printing presses on to keep spending just a tiny bit longer, and create a hyperinflation in the process. The latter would be a catastrophe that would wipe out the middle class and set the stage for political upheaval, including the potential for violent revolution. It’s happened in other countries. We don’t need it to happen here.

If the world does dump the dollar, let’s hope that there are enough rational people around to realize that the party is over and have the courage to reign in government spending. If not, things will get much worse before they get better.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is opposition to Obama’s programs really driven by racism?

Recently, there has been a flurry of accusations claiming that the people who oppose Obama’s programs are motivated by racism. I understand the why. Most Republicans didn’t say a thing when George Bush expanded the federal government at a faster clip than anyone since LBJ. The very few Republicans, like Ron Paul, who did speak out against the big government schemes of George Bush and Karl Rove were ostracized by the GOP leadership.

Today, Republicans are going ballistic because Obama is doing basically the same thing as Bush – spending money like crazy, centralizing decision making, and driving a stake into the heart of America’s future. It shouldn’t be surprising that many see racism at work, even though a better explanation is simple partisan politics.

Regardless, it should be very clear that the GOP is filled with unprincipled hypocrites who, like the Democrats, only care about power and control. They need do some house cleaning if they want to gain the trust of the American people again.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Sheer Idiocy of Government

There was a great story today about how the government denied a disabled person the request to buy a $150 iPhone application that translates text to speech. Instead, they recommended that the person purchase an $8,000 specialty computer that can’t be used for any other function.

Why? Because, Medicare regulations only allow people to purchase single purpose devices. Any and all multi-purpose devices are automatically rejected, even though they may be orders of magnitude less expensive. Wouldn't it be great if a disabled person could check their email from the same computer that they used for their disability??? Unfortunately, it's just not allowed according to government rules.

There is only one word to describe this -- idiotic.

This conclusively demonstrates the sheer idiocy of government. There isn't any common sense. There isn't any compassion. There are only mindless people who follow mindless rules.

Then we wonder why everything is so screwed up.

Acorn Scandal: “Mainstream” Media Corruption Not New

The "mainstream" media's refusal to discuss Acorn's criminal conduct demonstrates conclusively how corrupt the media really is. This is not news to me. I figured this out more than 27 years ago when I caught ABC news involved in a propaganda campaign against Ronald Reagan.

I was in Greece, with the U.S. Air Force for a couple of months during the early 80s. The U.S. Airbase was an extension of the Athens Airport. About 50 Greeks worked on the base as cooks, janitors, etc.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was raging across Europe. Enormous marches were being held in places like London, Paris, and Berlin against Reagan’s plans to stage short range ballistic missiles in Europe.

We were staying in a hotel in Glyfada, which was a suburb of Athens. The Air Force delivered VHS tapes of the ABC News. We’d typically get them 3 days after the original broadcasts.

One day, the Greeks who worked on the base went on strike. They went on strike for all of the usual reasons – more pay, better benefits, etc. They formed a small picket line in front of the airbase. A few people from the smaller and nuttier of the two communist parties joined them. We were told not to go to work for a couple of days.

Three days later (after the strike was done and we were all back to work) we received a VHS tape of the ABC News, where Frank Reynolds was reporting that the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament staged a massive anti-American protest in Athens, which shut down the airbase. They showed footage of what seemed to be hundreds of thousands of Greeks marching in the streets. The video was not labeled “file footage”.

We were all sitting there scratching our heads wondering what the heck was going on. We asked an employee of the hotel to look at the tape. He said that this was a video of the protests against the Greek dictatorship from about 10 years earlier.

It was very obvious to us what was really happening -- ABC News was engaged in a propaganda campaign against President Reagan and his plans to stand up to the Soviet Union.

Yesterday, when asked why he wasn't reporting on the Acorn Scandals, ABC News Anchor Charlie Gibson claimed that he hadn't even heard about them. In other words, nothing has changed with the media's selective and politically biased "reporting" in 27 years.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Obama’s Protectionist Folly

The Obama administration announced on Friday that it is imposing a 35% tariff on tires imported from China. This sent chills throughout the international community. America and much of the world are already mired in the worst economic crisis in decades. The administration’s ill-conceived protectionist action could spark a full-blown trade war that would deepen and lengthen the current downturn.

First, let me state unequivocally that I am not one who believes that running massive current account deficits year after year is inconsequential. Since 2001, when George Bush took office, the United States has run up a $3.8 trillion trade deficit in manufactured goods. That’s more than twice the $1.68 trillion trade deficit America incurred for imported oil and gas. The consequences of continuing this are very real, broad, and deep.

However, punishing Americans by raising the prices of imported goods is not the answer. The real solution is to fix America’s convoluted tax system, which makes products produced here increasingly uncompetative in world markets.

The U.S. has the second highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, which drives up the cost of goods that are produced in America. In addition, most other countries provide their domestic companies with tax rebates on goods that they produce for export, lowering their prices in world markets.

The government also taxes money that U.S. corporations earn overseas when the money is brought back home. This penalizes U.S. companies that want to use their foreign earnings to invest in America. As a result, a large portion of overseas earnings is never brought back home and put to productive uses. The U.S. is one of the very few countries in the world that do this. The Obama administration is proposing to make the situation worse by taxing foreign earnings whether or not the money is repatriated, which will surely drive corporate headquarters out of America.

The U.S. tax code also punishes savings. Not only does the government tax income that is saved, it also taxes the interest on that savings. Consequentially, Americans don’t save enough to finance all of the available domestic investment opportunities. Instead, we borrow money from countries like China and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. also imposes payroll taxes on employers to fund Social Security and Medicare, which increases the cost employing people, thereby reducing the potential for job creation.

Lastly, it will cost Americans an estimated $350 billion next year just to comply with our overly complex tax code. That is money that can’t be used for more productive purposes.

The real answer to America’s trade deficit is to replace our convoluted and counter-productive system of taxing savings, production, and employment, with a simple system of taxing consumption. Doing so would have the following effects: America’s savings rate would increase. American would become a huge magnet for productive, job creating foreign business investment. American exports would be far more price competitive in world markets. In the domestic market, products produced in America would be more competitive with imports. In addition, money that is spent today complying with the complex tax code would be put to better uses.

There would be many other benefits as well, including increased privacy because the government would no longer be required to collect massive amounts of information about what we earn and how we spend it.

One such proposal for fixing our broken tax system is the Fair Tax, which proposes to replace all current federal taxes with a simple retail sales tax on goods and services.

Unfortunately, it’s not likely that the Obama Administration or the Democratic Congress will even consider anything like this. They are too busy bashing corporations and placating union bosses. Instead, in addition to their ill-conceived protectionist measures, they are likely to make the tax system even more convoluted and punitive, much to America’s determent.

Peter Schiff to Announce for Senate

Peter Schiff -- one of the few economists to accurately predict the recession -- will announce on Thursday his run to unseat Chris Dodd.

This is the kind of smart guy we need in the Senate.

You can support him here

Look at these clips from 2006 and 2007:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tea Party a Major Success

By all accounts the 9/12 Tea Party was a major success. The D.C. police were surprised by how many people attended. At one point, they had to close Pennsylvania Avenue. Of course, the so-called “mainstream” media tried to downplay the significance of the protest, declaring that only “tens of thousands” of people were in attendance. The London Daily Mail was the first news source to set the record straight, estimating that up to 2 million people were in attendance.

When was the last time that the left was able to stage a protest rally that drew upwards of 2 million people?

The D.C. march was only part of the story. Tea Parties were held across the country. My wife and I were startled yesterday to see 50 or 60 protestors in our normally quiet suburb of Redmond, WA.

It's very obvious that something big is happening here. It's not just the Tea Parties. 20 states have now passed 10th Amendment Resolutions declaring their sovereignty over the federal government, demanding that the federal government stop usurping their power. Who would have thought even a couple of years ago that this would have been possible? It has now become inevitable due to the massive power grab of the Bush administration and the even greater foundation of tyranny being laid by Barack Obama.

Hopefully the Republican establishment will finally get the message and respond to voter discontent in the same way they did in 1994 – with a real program for true reform.

Return of the Gun Grabbers

Frank Lautenberg, one of the most vehement opponents of the 2nd Amendment, has sponsored a new bill designed to deny Americans their constitutional rights. At first glance, S.1317 – “The Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2009” might seem entirely reasonable to most Americans. After all, who wants dangerous terrorists to have firearms and explosives? The bill gives the Attorney General the authority to deny the sale or transfer of firearms to anyone who is on the government’s terrorist watch list. Therein lies the problem.

Over 1 million people have wound up on the government’s terrorist watch list since 2001. The list contains some truly frightening characters. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

John Anderson of Minneapolis, who turned 8 on July 4, is among them. He wound up on the terrorist watch list two years ago. Repeated appeals by his mother to have him removed have fallen on deaf ears in Washington. Watch out for that box cutter under his blanky.

12 term Democratic Congressman John Lewis of Atlanta was put on the terrorist watch list 6 years ago. He is still subjected to repeated airport searches and required to present multiple forms of identification when he tries to travel.

James Robinson, who is a retired Air National Guard brigadier general and a commercial pilot for a major airline is also on the watch list. He has difficultly even getting on airplanes to do his job because his name mistakenly appears on the list.

Drew Griffin, who is a CNN reporter, "coincidentally" found himself being added to the terrorist watch list last year after he began a series of investigative reports that were critical of the Transportation Security Administration.

More than 2,000 Americans file to get their names removed from the list each month. Few, if any have succeeded. We all know that once government puts somethings in place, it’s almost impossible to change. So, these and many other poor souls will have to spend the rest of their lives being harassed by government bureacrats every time they try to board an airplane. If S.1317 passes, they will also have a key constitutional right taken away from them even though they haven’t commitment any crime.

Welcome to Amerika…

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Czar Nation

It is a welcome relief that one of the most virulent people to ever occupy a high government office has resigned today. For those of you who don’t know, Van Jones was Obama’s Green Jobs “Czar”. He is also an avoided communist and given his own statements an apparent overt racist. He resigned amid a furor over his various past statements, including those that accuse the Bush administration of being culpable in the 9/11 attacks on America. As readers of my blog know, I have been a harsh critic of George Bush for good reason. However, anyone who accuses the President of the United States of being in cahoots with the terrorists who killed more than 3,000 Americans has no place in legitimate public discourse.

Van Jones isn’t the only issue. Obama has appointed 32 “Czars” to his administration. What is a “Czar” anyway??? A Czar was a dictatorial ruler of Russia. Obama has 32 of them.

The Constitution requires Congressional approval of high ranking executive branch appointments. Obama has skirted the requirement by subjugating his official cabinet-level appointments to 32 advisors, known as "Czars", who officially don’t have any constitutional role, but nevertheless have enormous power and influence in the government.

Obama isn’t the first person who appointed a “Czar” to a high profile government position. Reagan had a Drug Czar. Bush had a Health Czar. Although these and other positions were ill-conceived, they were limited and mostly put in place for political marketing reasons – hey, look we’re trying to do something about this entrenched problem (shhh... that the government probably created and can’t possibly solve)

The Obama administration has taken advantage of this precedent to circumvent the Congress and Constitution altogether by appointing 32 “Czars” that in many cases seem to be superior to the constitutionally allowed Cabinet Secretaries, which require Congressional approval.

I’m old adage kind of guy and there is on old adage that is very instructive here -- give someone an inch and they will take a mile. We should have objected strenuously when the first “Czars” were appointed in prior administrations. We didn’t and this is what we would up with today -- an adminstration full of petty tyrants put in place without any public scrutiny whatsoever.

So, good riddance to the left-wing looney Van Jones. 1 down and 31 to go. The larger challenge is how to fix the long-term damage this has inflicted on our republic.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Healthcare "Reform" Fiasco

As the Democrats frantically try to salvage their health care "reform" initiative, it is import that American’s understand one thing. The free market didn't create the problems with our current healthcare system. The government did.

In the U.S., the person receiving the benefit (the patient) is not the person who is paying the bills (employer or government). So, patients have few incentives to use the system wisely. Why? Because government started corrupting the system in the 1960s. In 1960, before the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, healthcare spending was 5% of GDP. 55% of that was paid out of pocket. Private insurance paid 24% of the tab. Government picked up the rest at 21% of total costs. Today, healthcare costs are a whopping 18% of GDP. The mix of who pays has been completely turned upside down with the government providing between 45% and 56% of healthcare costs, depending on the state, while out of pocket expenses are less than 17% of the total.

Even our "private" system of employer paid health insurance was an unintended consequence of government wage and price controls during WWII. Employers competed for short supplies of labor by offering new benefits like healthcare insurance because they weren’t allowed to compete by raising wages.

Government regulations restrict competition and price shopping by prohibiting companies from selling health insurance across state lines. Auto insurance and home owner's insurance are sold across state lines, why can't health care insurance???

Onerous regulations dramatically drive up the cost of bringing drugs to market. Drugs costs are a major component of escalating healthcare costs. New drugs are often available in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere years before they are available here. Are the Europeans and Japanese dying more frequently than Americans from unsafe drugs? No.

Our legal system is also driving up healthcare costs due to excessive punitive damages that have driven up medical malpractice insurance. In many states, for example OBGYNs are leaving the profession because of the rising cost of medical malpractice insurance, which is a consequence of America's legal system.

It should be obvious that it's a complete myth that America has a "free market" healthcare system. A free market healthcare system would place patient choice and responsibility at the center of the system, not government bureaucracies.

Singapore reformed their socialized healthcare system to one where choice and responsibility were center stage and the cost of healthcare in Singapore has fallen while quality has risen. Their system is based on mandatory medical savings accounts, catastrophic health insurance, copays, information transparency in prices and outcomes, and means tested government subsidies for the poor. On every measure from infant mortality to life expectancy, Singapore is better than the U.S. Their costs are less than 1/3 of ours per capita.

Here's the funny thing: Singapore got a lot of their ideas from the U.S. -- medical savings accounts were proposed by U.S. economists in the 1970s. Singapore adopted them in 1984 and costs have fallen while quality and patient satisfaction have increased.

Of course, the politicians who believe that the government is the answer to every problem don't want to hear the facts. They only want to hear how they can gain more power and control for themselves.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tea Parties, Secession and the 17th Amendment

At one of the April 15th “tea party” tax protest events, Texas Governor Rick Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union. The resulting furor on the left-wing blogosphere – accusing Perry of being “un-American” and potentially worse -- is both funny to watch and sad at the same time. It’s sad because there are so many people in the United States who are ignorant of our own history. Their ignorance is a big part of the problem.

How did the United States come to exist? Through an act of secession. On July 4th, 1776 the “Declaration of Independence” was signed, which declared our independence from Great Britain. The Declaration started with these words:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The Declaration went on to list a number of grievances that the colonists had against Britain and King George. Among those grievances were the levy of taxes without the colonist’s consent. The Declaration wraps up by saying:

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved…

Britain didn’t take kindly to their colony trying to secede and they tried to stop it by force. That led to the Revolutionary War.

Unlike most modern politicians, the colonists were no hypocrites. They upheld the right of secession as the new constitution was being debated and even after it went into effect. The delegates at Virginia’s ratification convention stated: "The powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression." In his first inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson said that: "If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left to combat it." Fifteen years later, after the New England Federalists attempted to secede, Jefferson said, "If any state in the Union will declare that it prefers separation ... to a continuance in the union .... I have no hesitation in saying, 'Let us separate.'"

In spite of all of the ignorant blather from the left today, I am increasingly encouraged because so many Americans are discovering the heritage and meaning of this great country. For example, 20 states have now passed "10th Amendment" resolutions declaring their sovereignty over the federal government and demanding that the federal government stop usurping their power. Who would have thought even a few years ago that this would have been possible? It's now become inevitable due to the massive power grab of the Bush administration and the even greater usurpation of our rights being undertaken by Obama.

Here's one last thing that we all need to learn: The framers put in a place a system of checks and balances so that no government entity within the United States could gain too much power. In 1913, the 17th Amendment passed which removed the right of state governments to appoint senators. The 17th Amendment removed the biggest check that the state governments had on the federal government. The balance has tilted towards the federal government ever since. Now we find ourselves in this big mess with a bloated, unresponsive government run by special interests. It's only going to get worse. The only enduring way that we can restore the balance between the states and the federal government is by repealing the 17th Amendment. That should be on the top of everyone’s agenda.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Furor over AIG

AIG announced that it was paying bonuses to top executives totaling $165 MILLION. For what? Running the company into the ground. Of course, if AIG was a private company, held by private stockholders, they could do whatever they want and risk being punished by the market. Unfortunately, all of us lowly taxpayers are the ones who are being punished because Barack Obama and George Bush handed AIG $200 BILLION of YOUR money. It’s not over yet.

Congressman Barney Frank was beside himself, stating that since the government now owns AIG, they should start acting like owners. What business experience does Frank have that would be helpful here as an “owner” of AIG? NONE WHATSOEVER. Barney Frank’s only business experience is that his boyfriend once ran a gay prostitution ring out of Barney Frank’s apartment.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama and his tax cheat Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner knew all about the bonuses before they pledged another $30 BILLION of your money to AIG. Remember, Nancy Pelosi defended Geithner during the confirmation process, stating that he was “too big to fail”. Big or not, in his short time as Treasury Secretary Geithner has failed miserably. He needs to go away.

Right now the Obama administration is twisting in the wind as much as the Bush administration. They have no idea what to do, except to throw more of your money at failed companies with brain dead management. It needs to stop.

Frank, Geithner, Pelosi... These are the people running your country, spending your money, and ruining the lives of you and your children. How much more of this can we take?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama’s Trickledown Economics

Barack Obama said something very reveling last night, which seems to have escaped the political chattering classes:

“So I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions… It's not about helping banks - it's about helping people. Because when credit is available again…”

So, let’s be clear – the plan is for the government to mortgage your children’s future, to hand trillions of dollars to banks, so that they can lend you more money and put you further into debt.

This is trickledown economics of the most perverse kind.

The GOP doesn’t have any room to gripe. They helped create the mess we are in by doubling the national debt over the last eight years with a drunken orgy of spending that gave new meaning to the term “waste, fraud, and abuse”.

The Democrats are making it worse. It was bad enough that they passed a $800 BILLION “stimulus” bill that was larded up with some of the most egregious misuses of taxpayer’s money ever seen. Their latest move is a new $500 BILLION supplemental budget filled with special interest spending.

Where does that leave the rest of us? Screwed. Big time.

It’s becoming very clear that there isn’t dime’s worth of difference between the two parties. They are both captives of the same lobbyist culture in D.C. that has ruined our country. Unfortunately, Americans have demonstrated conclusively that they aren’t willing to do anything about it by voting for alternatives.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Do you like being Micromanaged by Government???

Neither do I. In fact, I don't like being micromanaged by anyone. At least when my boss does it I have the option of telling him to take a hike. We don't have any option of doing this when the government gets involved.

Unfortunately, the competing “stimulus” bills passed by the House and Senate contain a mind-boggling array of provisions that will punish or reward you based on your behavior. Do you want to buy a Chevy, Ford, or Chrysler? There might be a tax break in your future. But, if you want to save money for a rainy day, well… tough luck…

Regardless of which “stimulus” bill becomes law, we’re in for even worse times. The non-partisan Congressional Office (which is now appointed by Democrats) issued a statement this week assuring us that the stimulus bills will “hurt the economy more in the long run than if nothing is done”.

Let’s not forget that the “New Deal” prolonged the Great Depression. It took World War II to revive the economy, 14 years after FDR took office. So why are we trying to do this again???

The government created the current crisis by borrowing too much itself, artificially lowering interest rates to cause the population to run up too much debt, and coercing the financial intuitions to lend money to people who couldn’t afford their homes. The last thing we need is to borrow more money from the Chinese and Saudis to fund more nonsensical programs in the “stimulus bill”, like $8 BILLION in “Tribal Assistance Grants”.

Borrowing more to spend on the “stimulus” is not going to save us. It’s going to kill us.

What’s the answer? In short, we need to reign in the corrupt politicians and their lobbyist buddies who have ruined this country. Obama pledged to do this, but since taking office he has appointed a plethora of tax cheats to high office. He has also not followed his own executive order by appointing former lobbyists to high ranking positions in his administration. At this point it should be clear that Obama is nothing more than a typical politician in that he seems to believe that the rules exist only to stifle the opposition. This is not the kind of change that people voted for.

So, how do we make things right?

First, we need to dramatically simplify the tax code. Americans spend more than $200 BILLION dollars a year just trying to comply with America’s convoluted tax policy. Not only do we have one of the most complicated tax systems in the world, we have among the highest business tax rates in the developed world. Our top corporate tax rate is higher than in the social bastion of Sweden! We need to radically overhaul the tax system, making it simpler, fairer and more conducive to job creating innovation and production.

Second, we need to streamline government income redistribution programs. How many government income transfer programs exists? More than we can count. We could save countless billions of dollars a year in administrative overhead by combing all of these into a single income assistance program.

The same goes for healthcare. Politicians across the political spectrum love to berate our healthcare system, yet they are the ones who created the mess that we have today. There are too many government programs with too much overhead and too few benefits. We need to replace the maddening plethora of government healthcare programs with a simple program that assists lower income families to buy health insurance in the market.

The government also spends countless billions on programs that almost no Americans would support if they actually knew about them. President Reagan correctly called this spending “waste, fraud, and abuse”. Unfortunately, these programs have only multiplied over time. The problem is that there are too many programs for most of us to keep track of. We should get rid of them all.

We need also need to rethink the enormous amount of money that we are spending overseas. Why should American taxpayers continue to pay billions to subsidize the “defense” of rich countries like Japan, Korea, Germany, and others??? The Cold War has been over for 20 years, yet the government can't get over their cold war mentality. It’s long past time to end the government Cold War "military industrial complex" and save a ton of money in the process.

The bottom line is this – we shouldn’t be increasing America’s debt to the Chinese and Saudis by spending nearly a TRILLION dollars on a “stimulus” bill that the Congressional Budget Office says won’t stimulate anything, except perhaps the condom manufacturers who will get a big chunk of the change. Instead, we should take the opportunity to simplify the tax structure, rationalize government programs, and eliminate crazy government spending.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bill Gates: Charter Schools and Good Teachers

Bill Gates wrote a very interesting article in the New York Times today about his experience in trying to reform the public school system. It’s a must read for those of us who care deeply about our children’s future.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

Nine years ago, the [Bill and Melinda Gates] foundation decided to invest in helping to create better high schools, and we have made over $2 billion in grants.

Many of the small schools that we invested in did not improve students' achievement in any significant way. These tended to be the schools that did not take radical steps to change the culture, such as allowing the principal to pick the team of teachers or change the curriculum…

But a few of the schools that we funded achieved something amazing. They replaced schools with low expectations and low results with ones that have high expectations and high results. These schools are not selective in whom they admit, and they are overwhelmingly serving kids in poor areas, most of whose parents did not go to college. Almost all of these schools are charter schools…

It is invigorating and inspirational to meet with the students and teachers in these schools and hear about their aspirations. They talk about how the schools they were in before did not challenge them and how their new school engages all of their abilities…

It is amazing how big a difference a great teacher makes versus an ineffective one. Research shows that there is only half as much variation in student achievement between schools as there is among classrooms in the same school. If you want your child to get the best education possible, it is actually more important to get him assigned to a great teacher than to a great school.

Gates is right. Parents need to be able to choose where their kids go to school. The principals of those schools need to have the authority to hire, fire, and change the curriculum. This is how American colleges and universities work and we have the best higher education system in the world. The public school system doesn’t work this way and it’s among the worst in the developed world.

Hopefully, Gates' research will provide a powerful catalyst for changing our hidebound and failed public education system.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Obama ethics

The day after President Obama was sworn into office, he issued an executive order prohibiting administration appointees from accepting positions in federal agencies they had lobbied in the previous two years. Democrats heralded it as a new era of ethical behavior in government.

Two days later, Obama had to issue a “wavier” to his own rules to appoint William Lynn as Deputy Secretary of Defense. William Lynn headed government relations with Raytheon, which is one of the largest defense contractors in the country. While Lynn headed government lobbying at Raytheon, the company spent more than $14.5 million lobbying the House, Senate, DARPA, Defense Department, Energy Department, Treasury Department, State Department, and others. The payoff? $54 BILLION in direct government contracts, and more if you include their subcontracts to other companies. Lynn's appointment clearly violates Obama’s new ethics guidelines, which is why he had to issue a “waiver” to his own rules.

Yesterday Timothy Geithner won conformation as Obama’s Treasury Secretary. Geithner was previously president the New York Federal Reserve Bank, which was part of the monetary shenanigans that helped cause the economic mess we are in today. Geithner failed to pay self-employment taxes for several years while he worked at the International Monetary Fund. He also made false deductions on his tax return relating to child care. Geithner did not make any attempt to pay his back taxes until after Obama expressed his intent to nominate Geithner to be Secretary of Treasury. If you would have refused to pay your back taxes for years, the IRS would have put lien on your bank account, garnished your wages, and sent you letters threatening jail. Ask Wesley Snipes who was sentenced to three years in prison for failing to pay back taxes. Geithner's political connections spared him from the type of treatment the rest of us get at the hands of the IRS.

Obama has only been president for a week yet we’re already finding huge ethical problems. I’m quite sure these aren’t the only ones because politicians of all stripes are by their very nature unethical and in this case hypocritical as well.

But hey, Obama’s heart is in the right place and he is trying to do the right thing, so who cares about a few transgressions? While I am in no way comparing Obama to these people, let's not forget that this was the exact argument made by left about all of their heros from Stalin to Castro.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama and the Old Truths

I was extraordinarily heartened by these words that the 44th President of the United States spoke at his inaugural today:

"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.

What is demanded then is a return to these truths."

I suspect that I will disagree with Obama on many specific policy prescriptions, just as I disagreed with George Bush. However, Obama is completely right that hard work, honesty, courage, fair play, tolerance, curiosity, and loyalty are the bedrock of civil society and progress. I really do wish that he would have included risk taking and the entrepreneurial spirit among his virtues.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rating the Presidents

Another Presidential era has come and gone. So, it’s time to update my running list of post-WWII Presidents. Unfortunately, we have a new loser at the bottom of the heap. Hopefully, #44 will be better. Here’s the list:

The Relatively Good Presidents

Ronald Reagan

Good: Cut marginal tax rates by 30%. Helped defeat communism (along with Thatcher, Kohl, and the Pope). Reinvigorated our national spirit after Vietnam and Jimmy Carter. Rebuilt the military after its neglect during the Carter years.

Bad: Failed to do anything about growing government spending and debt.

Harry Truman

Good: Eliminated the war time economy to move us back to a free market, in spite of the advice of his Keynesian advisors to build tanks and bury them in the desert to keep the economy going. (Unfortunately, the Keynesian idiots are feeling their oats again today.) He also desegregated the armed forces and implemented the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe.

Mixed: Dropping of the atomic bomb to win WWII. This was seen as a successes but it is questionable at the same time.

Bad: Korean war

The Mixed Presidents

Bill Clinton

Good: Worked with the Republican Congress to balance the budget for the first time in a long time. Removed welfare from being an entitlement.

Bad: Invaded the Balkins. Failed to cement Russia in the West. Periodically sent cruise missiles to bomb Osama bin Laden, without any real plan on how to eliminate or contain him, which helped lead to 9/11.

John Kennedy

Good: Cut marginal tax rates by 30%. Compromised on missiles in Turkey for missiles in Cuba to avoid war.

Bad: Seeded the Vietnam War. Backed a coup d'etat, which installed the Baath Party (Saddam Hussein’s party) into power in Iraq.

Dwight Eisenhower

Good: Created the interstate highway system. Ended the Korean war.

Bad: Backed a coup d'etat, installing the Shah of Iran. Expanded Social Security and other New Deal programs.

The Irrelevant Presidents

Gerald Ford

Good: Vetoed more bills than most of his predecessors and successors.

Bad: The lame WIN (whip inflation now) campaign.

George Herbert Walker Bush

Bad: First Iraq war (but got out quickly). Generally clueless about the economy.

Good: Only served one term!

The Dreadful Presidents

Lyndon Johnson

Bad: Started the Vietnam War and created the Great Society entitlement programs which set the stage for the inflation of the 1970s and the entitlement mentality and deficits we are living with today.

Good: The Voting Rights Act.

Jimmy Carter

Bad: Couldn’t make a decision in a crisis (according to his own National Security Advisor) leading to American hostages in Iran and a generally failed stint as leader of the free world. Nearly destroyed the military through neglect.

Good: “Deregulated” the airlines and trucking. Appointed Paul Volcker to the Federal Reserve, who helped break the inflationary spiral of the 1970s.

Richard Nixon

Bad: Expanded Johnson’s Vietnam War and Great Society programs. Took the U.S. off of the gold standard. Imposed wage and price controls, creating shortages of everything from gasoline to toilet paper. Few remember this, but people were eating horse meat under Nixon because his price controls caused a beef shortage.

Good: Helped China enter the world community.

George Herbert Hoover Bush

Bad: Lied about Iraq’s involvement with 9/11. Iraq war. Corrupted the Constitution to spy on Americans with the Patriot Act and other legislation. Created the first new entitlement program since the Great Society. Created massive deficits and more than doubled the national debt on his watch. Quasi-nationalization of the financial sector. Largest federal intrusion into the classroom in history. Torture in Guantanamo.

Good: Letterman's Great Moments In Presidential Speeches...