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.