Monthly Archives: September 2009

How to Take Care of Your Own Health Care

Politicians, union leaders, insurance companies and everyone else under the sun is telling us which bill, tactic, initiative, plan or speech on health care we should support. We are told stories and shown reports of people losing their benefits due to increasing costs. If you are financially responsible, you can turn the tide without joining a union or requiring the government to support you.

Health Savings Accounts (HSA) were enacted during the Bush administration and are paired with high-deductible health plans. The premiums are smaller, many employers offer an annual deposit into your HSA, and the money that is spent out of your HSA is tax-free (pre-tax).

I have personally used an HSA for three years and have watched my premiums decrease for the last two years.   The savings in premiums were put back into the HSA to provide for any catastrophic medical needs we may have in the future.  Any money left in the HSA at the end of the year simply rolls-over and keeps adding up.  During years when everyone stays healthy, we rack up huge savings.  If anyone gets really sick, we don’t go bankrupt, we go to the HSA.  Our high-deductible health plan kicks in once we hit the deductible and pays 100% of all costs with no limits.

The key to these plans is that it only kicks in when someone gets really sick or hurt.  I don’t need insurance to pay for an office visit or inexpensive drugs.  This is the same for auto insurance.  Choosing higher-deductibles means having lower premiums (or getting much better coverage for the same cost).  Do we really need insurance to pay for an oil change or cracked windshield?  Not if we know how to put money away for a rainy day.

You are often able to use the money in your HSA for things that you could not use your standard HMO/PPO plans.  Dental expenses, all pharmaceuticals, therapies and treatments that a standard plan won’t pay for.pills

HSA’s aren’t for everyone.  To avoid getting into a worse situation than you started with, you much actively and aggressively fund it.  Don’t simply pick the highest-deductible plan because it has the lowest premiums.  Choosing such a high-deductible could create problems if a medical disaster occurs before you’ve built up your HSA.  Look at what you can put into the account, understand what your employer’s contribution will be and consider your family’s health situation.

If you are the personally responsible type, consider an HSA with a high-deductible health plan.   It may save you quite a lot on health care insurance and give you more freedom in your medical choices than you are previously accustomed.

Other places to go look:

Health Care, Tariffs, Tort Reform: It’s Not About You

The current administration is positioning their policy initiatives as if they are intended to help the working class. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s not about us.

SEIU for Obama Pin

SEIU for Obama Pin

Trial lawyers and gigantic unions make billions of dollars off of the backs of the working class and are the puppet-masters of the White House and congressional leadership. Too much is owed to these monstrous organizations – and they know it.

The leader of California’s giant United Health Care Workers West, Sal Rosselli, had the basic union strategy quoted from him as, “It’s between our vision of a bottom-up union movement and Andy Stern’s[SEIU’s president] idea that a few folks in Washington should control all the decisions.”. Andy and Sal want to make sure that they control those few people.

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Time for Americans

Patriots are protectors of the ideals of their country. I am grateful to have witnessed the largest gathering of patriots in history. I am grateful for September 12th.

I could very well end this post with that, but you all (y’all in the native tongue) know me better. Even CNN discussed the rally in Washington as people coming out against big government, overspending and fiscal liberalism. Seeing the pictures of the reflection pool overwhelmed with true patriots gave me pleasant pause.

Unfortunately, I also heard the hate-speech from left-or-die liberals. On Fox news, a young African-American woman was being interviewed by Julia Banderas and was asked about her feelings on the overwhelmingly-large gathering in Washington.

With all that has happened, all that is possible, all that could bring this country back to its founding principals, she went right to the corrupted, special interest, Alinskyish political party line.

I wish I had captured her name, but UT (Hook ‘em) was playing and I caught her interview during a commercial and they didn’t post it before the interview ended. She basically cast-off the wishes of the 10’s of thousands of people in D.C. as special interest groups and bought-offs from insurance companies. She went on to say that everyone at this massive demonstration were cattle or lemmings and that they were being taught the wrong things by the wrong kind of media. I was seriously shouting at the T.V.

My son and my wife share a birthday this very weekend. Only because I have dedicated myself to them could I not have left them at home and gone to this rally – the rally. I instead spent the day getting up at the crack of dawn so that my son could have his favorite breakfast, see the new star wars display at the museum, take him to turn his saved-up coins into bills, go to the store to use his hard-saved money to buy his mother a gift. Idiots like this woman make me feel guilty for having chosen my family over my country. Idiots like her make me sad because she has selfishly chosen her party over her country and family.

Those of you who have read what I have to say know that I have never identified with a political party. You know that I have never issued a racist remark or pushed a corporate agenda or union intent. I have only one agenda – the constitution of these United States.

I served my country in the armed forces as did my father, uncles, and both grandfathers. We are not PHD’d know-it-alls. I would put my family name on the line that we understand far more about this country’s heritage and ideals than all those self-interested, overly-indoctrinated morons that cast me as a racist, a lemming, a cow.

They wonder why we are angry. They ask why we shout. They do not understand that they aren’t just pushing selfish, socialist crap. They do not understand that real citizens of these United States, want those United States… back. We are willing to fight for that ideal, that idea. An idea for which they have no respect. They underestimate every one of us. They underestimate each individual one of us.

They do not understand Americans at all. They have our citizenship and legal standing. They seem just like us. They are nothing like us. They are not us. Not because we differ in color, religion, size, shape or financial standing, but because we differ on the basic motivations and rights of every Citizen.

I speak out because I want my children to have the opportunities that my father, uncles, grandfather and I had. I spend time, money and effort to point out those things that clearly go against the intentions of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington et al. I would spend everything I have to make sure my children had the same opportunities as I and my ancestors.

We are grown-ups. Grow up. Deficit spending simply puts the cost of your wishes on your children and theirs. It is time to take responsibility for ourselves. It’s time to realize that utopia does not exist and that we must all take responsibility for our own actions. It’s time… to be Americans.

Inflation and How it Might Affect You

Due to current government spending policies, the fastest growing deficit in history and an administration that is printing money out-of-nowhere in an attempt to keep artificial asset prices (housing bubble) inflated, there is a real possibility that we may enter a period of severe price inflation. Some respected economists, such as Mark Faber, PhD, are even concerned that hyperinflation similar to Zimbabwe’s fiscal catastrophe are not only possible, but assured.

If the U.S. enters a prolonged period of inflation, as was felt during the term of President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), what will it mean to the average citizen. That may well depend on how well you have prepared your assets and finances for the possibility.

Inflation occurs when an increase of prices on goods and services across a broad section of the economy is experienced. In plain English, everything costs more.

The price we pay for goods and services can be driven up from two basic sources – supply or demand. If the inflationary pressure is supply-side, prices are being driven upward by an increase in labor costs (wages, benefits, etc) or by the rising costs of raw materials. If inflation is caused by the demand side of the curve, it’s simply that more-and-more people want goods and there are not enough to go around.

We hear a lot about how monetary policy can cause or ease inflation, but with the explanation above, how is that so?

To cause inflation, one thing that can happen is too much money is put into the economy. The United States operates on a fractional reserve system. Basically, it means that a bank can can loan out $100.00 for every $10.00 that it actually has in its reserves. That’s how money gets created. To over-simplify a bit, banks borrow $10.00 from the central bank, then loan out $100.00 backed by that $10.00. $90.00 just came out of nowhere. That’s added liquidity or adding money to the money supply.

Typically the Federal Reserve will lower rates to pump liquidity into the market. This makes money cheaper to loan/borrow so more borrowing happens which puts more money into the marketplace to buy goods and services.

Once interest rates get at or near 0% and the economy is not growing, extreme measures are sometimes taken. Quantitative easing is just such an extreme tactic. The Fed can no longer lower interest rates, so they start creating money out of thin air. Sometimes called “printing money”, it’s actually done by creating credit in the central banks own accounts (from nothing), and using those non-backed assets to purchase paper (bonds, loans, etc) from other banks – now those banks have the money from nothing.

Seems harmless, right? Why can’t we all just credit our accounts with money from nothing and use that to buy whatever we want? We can’t do that because it would lead to inflation – a lot of it. As more money is created, each existing dollar becomes worth less and less. If a dollar became worth half it’s current value, the face value would still be $1.00, but it would only purchase 50 cents worth of goods. You would then need two dollars to purchase that soda that cost a buck prior to the free-for-all printing fest.

So what should we do? The best course of action is of course to get the government to stop “printing” money, but with the debt loads the United States is taking on and is planning on bearing, there is not much likelihood that it will stop any time soon. Next, we as individuals would do what we can to protect our own assets and finances.

There are varying theories that run the gamut from hoarding precious metals to getting a gun and living in the woods. I think there are some things we should be doing to prevent last-ditch tactics like those from being necessary.

First, own hard goods. Things that have value and you own outright. That’s a house without a mortgage, cars without loans, land, real estate.

Some would argue that having debt is perfect for inflation as the debt would require less money to service. Hogwash, you’ll be paying so much for gas and groceries that you’ll still not be able to pay those reduced-value debts. Then you lose your house, cars, land… all those hard goods that would have been better to own during inflationary times.

While gold is a hard asset, I have one basic concern with owning gold as a hedge to inflation. If gold becomes a better currency than paper money, the government could do what it has done in the past – take it from you. In 1933 President Roosevelt forced citizens to sell all of their gold at a price that had not adjusted for inflation (roughly $21.00/ounce), once the government had all of the gold, they re-adjusted it for inflation and deemed it worth $35.00/ounce. Gold did not function well as a hedge in that case, and I believe a liberal government would do the same thing again to increase the money supply if all else had failed (which it would have if we were relying on gold as currency).

Let’s say the government doesn’t make owning gold illegal (again). If you owned a few plots of land or houses as assets (no liability against them), someone with a lot of gold might purchase them from you – and now you would have the amount of gold (or dollars in a more realistic case) equal to the inflation-adjusted worth of your property. The difference being, you bought the land with pre-inflation dollars and are selling the land once the currency has normalized. This makes sure that you come out of an inflationary period with the same or better net-worth than you went in with.

Second, get into securities that invest in commodities. Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that concentrate on commodities simplifies this play. As inflation makes those commodities rise in price, your investment should reflect that change. This is not a cure-all, be wary of what commodities your actually investing in. Gold looks to be severely over-priced and if the price begins to drop, the Chinese will do what they always do – dump, dump and dump.

There are also inflation-protected bonds available from the treasury known as TIPS. These securities are designed to protect investors from inflation. Not only do you benefit from the bond yield, but your base investment will adjust for inflation. These investments do not fair as well in normal times due to lower yields, but in a pro-longed inflationary period, this is a good play.

So with inflation, horde assets and protect your net worth.

One Down, Thirty-One to Go

Van Jones, Obama’s green jobs czar has resigned due to the “vicious smear campaign” waged against him.  In truth, Mr. Jones political problems had less to do with a smear campaign and more to do with Americans learning what he stood for.

Van’s involvement with STORM (Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement) in the 90’s and association with communist and anarchist radicals was enough to raise flags.  As journalists and bloggers started looking into what Mr. Jones stood for, even more causes for alarm were discovered.

In 2005, Jones made racially-charge anti-white remarks in a speech where he addressed shooting incidents by white and black kids.  Van made the distinction that black kids were better because while, “a black kid might shoot another black kid.  He’s not going to shoot up the whole school… you’ve never seen a Columbine done by a black child… it’s always them” them being a reference to white kids.  Not only is this hateful, it’s not even correct.  In 1988, a black student by the name of Nicholas Elliot took a semi-automatic handgun and 200 rounds of ammunition to school.  He proceeded to kill one teacher, wound another and the death toll was only kept low because the gun malfunctioned.

If blaming white kids for all school gun violence wasn’t enough, Van also had signed a statement in 2004 that attested that “people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen”.  Jones had attempted to disavow that he was involved with the 9/11 “truther” movement, but the group’s spokesman said that all signatories were confirmed by the organization’s board and that they all knew what they were signing.

Perhaps we need to look more-closely at the remaining 31 czars.  We’re paying their salaries but, for many, there is no congressional oversight, the vetting process is apparently inadequate, they may have access to classified information, and are contributing to matters of national security.  There is a reason for our system of checks and balances and the Administration’s willful disregard for our Constitution may be endangering our way of life.  So who are the czars?

– Persons with an * have not been confirmed by the Senate.
– Salaries are shown for those that have been made public.
– Every position listed is filling a role that could be served by an existing department in the government perhaps saving more than $3-6 Million in annual salaries.
– Some czars even appear to be duplicates (2 auto czars, multiple middle east czars, etc)

  1. Richard Holbrooke* – Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan
  2. Jeffrey Crowley* -Director of Office of National AIDS Policy ($102,000/yr salary)
  3. Ed Montgomery* – Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers (Auto Recovery Czar)
  4. Alan Bersin* – Assistant Seecretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs (Border Czar)
  5. David Hayes – Deput Interior Secretary (California Water Czar)
  6. Ron Bloom* – Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury (Car Manufacturing Czar)
  7. Dennis Ross* – Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region (Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and South Asia Czar)
  8. Todd Stern* – Special Envoy for Climate Change (Climate Czar)
  9. Lynn Rosenthal* – White House adviser on Violence Against Women (Domestic Violence Czar)
  10. Gil Kerlikoske – Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (Drug Czar)
  11. Paul Volcker* – Chairman of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board (Economy Czar)
  12. Carol Browner* – Assitant to the president for Energy and Climate Change(Energy and Environment Czar) – $172,000/yr salary
  13. Joshua DuBois* – Director of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (Faith-based Czar) – $98,000/yr salary
  14. Jeffrey Zients – Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget (Performance Czar)
  15. Cameron Davis* – Speical advisor to the U.S. EPA overseeing Great Lakes restoration (Great Lakes Czar)
  16. Van Jones* – Special Adviser for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation an the White House Council on Environment Quality (Green Jobs Czar)
  17. Daniel Fried* – Special envoy to oversee the closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo Closure Czar)
  18. Nancy-Ann DeParle* – Counselor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Health Reform (Health Czar) – $158,000/yr salary
  19. Vivek Kundra* – Federal Chief Information Officer (information czar)
  20. Dennis Blair – Director of National Intelligence (Intelligence Czar) – $197,000/yr salary
  21. George Mitchell* – Special Envoy for Middle East Peace (Mideast Peace Czar)
  22. Kenneth Feinberg* – Special Master on executive pay (Pay Czar)
  23. Cass Sunstein – Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (Regulatory Czar)
  24. John Holdren – Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-CHair of the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (Science Czar)
  25. Earl Devaney* – Chair of the Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board (Stimulus Accountability Czar)
  26. J.S. Gration* – Special Envoy to Sudan (Sudan Czar)
  27. Herb Allison* – Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability (TARP Czar)
  28. Aneesh Chopra – Chief Technology Officer (Technology Czar)
  29. John Brennan* – Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism (Terrorism Czar) – $172,000/yr salary
  30. Adolfo Carrion* – White House Director of Urban Affairs (Urban Affairs Czar) – $158,500
  31. Ashton Carter – Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (Weapons Czar)
  32. Gary Samore* – White House Coordinator for Weapons of Mass Destruction, Security and Arms Control (WMD Czar)

Members of Congress have asked for a halt on the hiring of Czars and circumvention of the roll of the Senate in the confirmation and vetting of the executive branch of our government.  With luck, that means the current set of Czars and Czarinas may get the review our Constitution requires.

Massive Government Takeover on Horizon

With the 61% majority stake in GM and $85 Billion takeover of AIG complete, the liberal government has set its sights on the private student loan market and health care.

Both initiatives will cost roughly one trillion dollars each and neither one will be passed by the Senate in a traditional vote where 60 senators consent.

Health Care and student loans are on track to be voted on in a fall budgetary maneuver known as reconciliation.  This tactic only requires a simple majority and was intended to promote better fiscal discipline in the budget process.  It is clearly having the reverse affect.

The $85 Billion-a-year student loan program had been a totally government-serviced operation until consumer outrage at the poor support and absolute lack of efficiency pushed them to the private market.  So if the government did such a poor job, why is this even in consideration?

In 2007, a liberal congress legislated loan returns to a level so low that private companies could not make any money.  They just stopped writing the loans which forced consumers back into the hands of the government.  The government didn’t pause at all.  The federal programs started buying up loan assets at an alarming rate in 2008.

In the President’s budget for 20101 a section named “TERMINATION: ENTITLEMENTS FOR FINANCIAL INTERMEDIARIES UNDER THE FEDERAL FAMILY EDUCATION LOAN PROGRAM, the first sentence says it all, “The Administration proposes to eliminate unnecessary subsidies to lenders that make loans to students.”.  Obama is ending the privatized student loan industry by force.  By terminating the subsidies, that were only necessary due to the government lowering rates to unsustainable levels, there will be nowhere else to go but the government when Americans need student loans.  This strategy isn’t new, it’s the exact same one being used to sucker-punch citizens into a single-payer health care solution.  You could call it – single lender student loans.

Following their game plan to the letter, the administration is using its usual tricks of claiming “savings” and then putting plans in-place to spend the savings before they’ve materialized – as if we would be able to accurately measure these savings anyway.  Obama has planned to use the purported savings to increase Pell grant funding by almost $50 Billion.  If loan defaults increase, and they will, taxpayers will be funding the increases in Pell grants.

Recognize the basic strategy that elitists are using to gather more-and-more power to themselves and therefor strip more from states and individuals.  They predictably regulate an industry into the ground, start a government plan, create false “savings”, then run the private industry out-of-business by using anti-competitive practices.  It’s not new, it’s not right, but it is their method of operation.

Health Care and student loans will mean a two trillion dollar take over of yet another private enterprise without the constitutionally mandated 60 votes, not to mention that a federal-run student loan program may be unconstitutional.  For education and health care, we will have nowhere to go but Uncle Sam.

1- Budget of the U.S. Government Fiscal Year 2010 – Terminations, Reductions, and Savings

Cap and Trade: A Crisis in the Making

With health care reform, racist czars, and the war in Afghanistan taking front-stage lately, the Waxman-Markey bill (H.R. 2454) which contains cap and trade has gotten little attention.  While the bill has several promising proposals for modernizing our power infrastructure and moving us towards more sources of renewable energy, there are considerable issues with the market-based pollution controls in the bill.  This bill has the potential to create a crisis without having the potential to solve the unproven issue that it seeks to remedy.

The battle between global warming “believers” and “deniers” is becoming more-and-more a battle between U.N. scientists and the rest of the scientific community.  According to a 2009 Wall Street Journal article there are more than 700 non-U.N. scientists who are challenging the U.N.’s opinions on global warming.  The original count of scientists that authored the U.N. climate summary was only fifty-two.

Without a true crisis to force the enactment of this bill, the administration has to show that there are real benefits to turning it into law.  The costs are evident, the benefits are tougher to come by.

The proposed benefit of a cap and trade system is that it will limit the amount of C02 put into the air by making it progressively expensive to do so.  While the bills supporters say that the bill won’t put any stress on the economy, one would argue that in order for it to work, it would have to put an undue strain on CO2 emitters or they would not cut emissions.

In reality, emitters would have to pass the strain onto consumers after simply purchasing or acquiring more credits.  Conservative members of Congress attempted to protect citizens from out-of-control energy costs by adding in triggers that would suspend the program if energy costs exploded, but all of these measures were defeated by liberals.  If the bill isn’t going to cause an explosion in energy costs, why defeat these safety measures?  They had to get those safeties out of the bill because they know that energy prices are going to increase by $1900/year per family in the next ten years and almost $7,000 per family per year in the next quarter-century (Heritage Foundation study).

If we look at countries that have implemented cap and trade systems, more reasons to be concerned about this legislation arise.  Britain has had this type of system in place for just a few years and the British Taxpayer Alliance estimates that each family has seen their energy expenses rise by about $1300/year.  What’s worse yet is that Britain’s carbon emissions have actually increased.

This kind of pollution control is actually a ruse.  It turns out that the looking at the EU, who has implemented such a system, we learn that it’s more about control of industry than control of CO2.  The New York Times published an article that said that said that the cap-and-trade system was like, “a grandfather with a large family deciding what to give his favorite grandchildren for Christmas,…”.  The permits for CO2 end-up being handed out as favors from those governments to the companies that have garnered the most favor with the ruling party.

Power.  That is primarily what Barack Obama and the liberals are after.  They’ve already taken over an insurance giant, one of the largest manufacturers in the United States, and now they need the rest of the free market to be less-free.  If a company gets out-of-line with the liberal’s wishes, they can force them to buy carbon credits on the open market.  If a company is doing as they are instructed, they might earn free credits from the government.

Although the current bill seems to focus on electricity producers, once successfully implemented as a mechanism to influence companies, their will be no end to who will be directly affected by this legislation.

This form of pollution control has implications that are much more dire than centrist control of the economy or electric bills going through the roof.  It might utterly destroy American company’s ability to compete in the global marketplace.  China and India have no reason to enact such reforms (China already has central control of industry).  That means our products will have higher costs (and therefor prices) without a matching increase in the demand for those products.  If we think 10% unemployment stinks, imagine what that number will look like when Ford, Toyota, General Mills, etc all have to move to India to compete.

It is also perceivable that this will create a new commodities market that large investment firms may jump into.  The Goldman-Sachs’s of the country will eagerly create complex carbon credit products to market to investors and give control of energy prices to a few giants of finance.

We’ve looked at will most-likely happen.  We could also look at governments that have been considering cap and trade systems recently.  In 2008, New Zealand suspended it’s weeks-old cap-and-trade system due to concerns of uncontrollable energy costs and no proven benefits from the countries that had already taken this delusional path.

For now, it appears that cap and trade is idling in the Senate ever since it marginally passed the house (219 votes for to 212 against).  The Democrats have started to criticize the bill as the renewable energy sections of the bill have become more watered down after going for mark-up in the Senate.  Conservatives are concerned that it is all cost with no benefit.  Only time will tell if this will ever see the light of day.

The Stimulus Has Performed a Miracle

Vice-President Joe Biden was sent in front of Television cameras to tell us how the ARRA (stimulus bill) has saved the country from catastrophe on September 3rd.

The stimulus is a total of $792 billion that was intended to invigorate the American economy in an effort to avoid an unemployment rate over 9% – at least that’s what they told us so long ago that we’ve forgotten.  Today.. we’re approaching 10%, but Mr. Biden has informed us that all is better, the economy is not in trouble, and the stimulus is, “in fact working”.  The liberal administration told us on Thursday that, “Instead of talking about the beginning of a depression, we are talking about the end of a recession.”.  If you’ve lost your job in the last few weeks…can you possibly agree?

So how about that plain, hard truth?  It’s needed here.  This is nothing more than propaganda and taking credit for the boom-bust cycle that this new administration has continually admonished.  Joe Biden and Obama want us to attach ourselves to the message that our economy could not have possibly come out of a recession without them.  The problem is… they really haven’t done anything.  It’s been all of us, working hard, buying what we need, and taking care of our families.  Oddly enough, that is what has brought us out recession time-after-time.

Now, how can we say such things?  Certainly Obama and Biden have done this all without us….   Do you really want to know?.. here it is:

First, based on government accounting, less than 15% of the stimulus money has been spent!  Wait, the stimulus has saved us all and we coud have done it for 85% less money?   No, of course not!  The government needed it all, wait no, YOU needed it all… no, that’s not right… the government needed it all for you…. yeah… that’s it.

How could the government have spent less than 15% of the stimulus money in almost a year, claim that it has repaired all our ills, and have most of us believe it?   Because we believe whatever they tell us… damn the statistics.

Looking closer at the numbers we see that out of the money that has been spent, it’s mostly on government programs that have no effect on the economic recovery.  Out of the minuscule amount that has been spent, most of it is on propping up Social Security, Health and Human Services and the Veteran’s Administration.  While all of these might be places that we should spend money, it has little to do with why the economy is doing what it has always done – recover, on its own.

There is also growing concern on whether or not the money is even being spent properly.  In an MSNBC article Brett Blackledge reports that “Inspector General Calvin Scovel said last month he will examine the Federal Aviation Administration’s process for selecting programs for the $1.1 billion in grant money. His announcement came after his office discovered that the Obama administration used stimulus money to pay for 50 airport projects that didn’t meet the grant criteria and approved projects at four airports with a history of mismanaging federal grants.”.

The whole program is a poster for government waste, fraud and abuse.  No competitive bidding means we don’t get the most project for the dollars spent.  Poor project selection has led to the repair of roads and bridges that did not need it while others continue to decay.

The economy will recover and it likely has already started.  There is little debate about that as the economy has always recovered and always will as long as free enterprise is allowed to thrive.  That is the point.  America has the most-resilient economy in the world precisely because we have historically fought government intervention in the economy.  Out of the big three automakers, who’s fairing the best?  Ford, the one company that did not get helped by the current administration.  Now, Ford is on pace to be the #1 U.S. automaker overtaking even Toyota.

Take what the government tells you with a grain of salt, especially when they are taking credit for much of anything.

If You Like Your Country, You Can Keep It

Critical legislation is being drafted, reviewed, written about, praised, slammed, publicized and soon… voted upon.

Some of this legislation, Health Care Reform and Cap and Trade, has brought a groundswell of criticism from conservative Americans – soon after, criticisms of the criticism by liberals.

Why have conservatives suddenly become so aware, so vocal, so active?  Many conservatives simply understand that these bills represent the largest threat to the United States Constitution in history.  Not only do conservatives recognize that the systematic shredding of our nation’s framework is happening, they recognize their patriotic duty to prevent it.

First, certain amendments to the constitution make specific who or what should have certain powers when congress does not. The constitution purposefully limits the role of the federal government by saying in the tenth amendment :
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”


This amendment limits the federal government to only those powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution.  So how does the federal government have the power to run an automobile manufacturer, health care insurance exchange, carbon credit exchange, or the method by which companies unionize?  They don’t.

If we examine the enumerated powers of Congress in article I, section 8 of the Constitution. Two paragraphs are most-often used to mistakenly justify congressional activities that should instead be allocated to individuals or the states.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States

The most controversial part of this clause is not “general welfare” as many liberal policy-makers and supporters would have us believe.  Debating the definition of general welfare is unnecessary as this clause does not give Congress the power to provide for the general welfare, it qualifies the power to tax for such a purpose.  There is a key distinction that Thomas Jefferson made when he wrote, “They [Congress] are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In like manner, they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose”.

So what is a constitutional method for laying taxes to provide for the general welfare?  Medicaid was enacted by having the federal government levy taxes without providing the actual service.  The States provide the service in a manner consistent with their ideologies and are supported by the taxing power of the Congress.  That is the only manner in which Congress has any authority over the welfare of citizens – to levy taxes.

Finally conservative leaders are starting to assert the principals present in our constitution in order to preserve our most precious union.  In Georgia, conservative members of the state legislature are seeking to challenge the health care reform legislation.  By asserting the tenth amendment, the state is making the case that since neither medical procedures, insurance nor pharmaceuticals are enumerated powers of the federal government, they must be left to the states or individuals and that the federal government can pass no laws that infringe upon those rights.  Several other states are considering or have passed “Sovereignty Resolutions” to strengthen their rights under the tenth amendment.

The arguments against conservatives are that they have not provided feedback into the legislation and are only saying “no”.  Of course they are just saying no, there is no way to constitutionally enact “the public option” in the health care bill nor the creation of a federal exchange for the sale and purchase of carbon credits that the cap and trade bill represents.

Any legislation that attempts to add to the powers of the federal government is an infringement on the rights of every American as afforded to us by the constitution.  Protecting state and individual rights is a much more important responsibility than enacting any federal entitlement.  We pray our conservative leaders have found this age-old responsibility to be of the highest priority.  The alternative is that the country we were given could be lost – or more concisely – taken from us.

Footnotes:
1 - 3 Writings of Thomas Jefferson (Library Edition, 1904)

Experts Concerned on Coming Depression

In a recent Telegraph article, it is suggested that President Obama is making some historic mistakes in the handling of the American economy.  The author goes so far as to say that these mistakes are the same as those made by leaders just before and during one of the darkest financial times in U.S. history – the Great Depression.

The basis for this concern is that Obama’s belief that Keynesian economic policies will return the U.S. economy to growth by printing money and stuffing it back into the economy.  Short-term this will create false and unsustainable spikes of growth.  If the economy doesn’t grow organically, it will have no support.  This creates a spiral of out-of-control spending to prop-up the false economy with more printing and spending. It is precisely these policies that made the depression longer and deeper in the United States than in other countries where they took more of a laissez-faire approach – most of which had come out of the depression by 1931.

As a side-effect, the dollar will drastically weaken as an oversupply of money is created.  This will inflate the cost of goods as it will take many more dollars to purchase commodities.  High inflation will suppress demand and increase the velocity of the economic death-spiral.  Of course, Keynesians would print and spend more to combat the ever-decreasing G.D.P. which keeps this whole circle of ineptitude going. (print more money->spend it->weakened dollar->inflation->decreased demand->increased unemployment->rinse and repeat).

Many economists also point at Hoover’s mercantilist trade policies as a factor in worsening the depression in America.  The Smoot-Hawley tariff act was a protectionist law that raised tariffs on 20,000 imported goods.  In a move showing a naivety of economic history, President Obama is suggesting a 55% tariff on Chinese goods.  When taken with Obama’s anti-free trade rhetoric, striking similarities to President Hoover’s errant thinking become evident.

Let’s not forget the draconian tax increases that come with the Keynesian belief that the government must stabilize demand during times of economic trouble.   By the end of 1931 President Hoover recommended a gigantic income tax increase in an effort to save the country from skyrocketing deficits.  Marginal rates rose by as much as 38% to a high of 63% on taxable income and the effect on household spending was dramatic.  Barack Obama is already floating trial balloons on the subject of middle-class tax increases to pay for all the entitlements and other government spending he is promoting.

Some argue that we are not heading into repeat of 1929-1937.  In Steven Levitt’s article, This is Not Another Great Depression, Levitt makes the case that we are not on the road to a depression because G.D.P. has not changed when evaluated between Q4 2007 and Q4 2008.  But what about the 4 successive declines1 from Q3 2008 through the second quarter of 2009 – a total drop of almost 3% and a trend that has not yet reversed.

Unemployment statistics are also in stark disagreement with Levitt’s assertion.  Since the start of the recession near the end of 2007,  unemployment has gone from 4.9% to its present 9.7%.  During the height of the depression era, unemployment swelled to over 20%, but if we look at 1930 when the depression was beginning to take hold, the unemployment rate was only 8.9% – nearly a point lower than today.

Today’s employment numbers are also less accurate than those kept during the depression.  Currently, if a worker becomes discouraged and just quits looking, he falls out of the statistics.  That person is no longer unemployed.  Some estimations2 put the disparity due to this difference in accounting at somewhere between 5% and 10%.  That would put our current unemployment rate, adjusted for the rules used in the depression, at between 14.8% and 19.8% – much worse than during the start of the depression and approaching dangerously close to the worst numbers achieved in the 1930’s.

Just prior to the Great Depression, Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev made the case that economies had super-cycles of roughly forty-to-sixty years.  With the darkest days of the 1930’s roughly seventy years behind us, Nikolai would say we are due.

Looking at history, the assertion could be made that our leaders should consider doing less, spending less, and printing far less money if they truly wish to avoid an economic disaster.  The interventionist attitude of the current administration is already showing itself to be repeating history.  Canada is already adding jobs3 to their economy while losses mount-up in the United States.  Canada and other countries that are taking far more hands-off approaches, are already coming out of their recessions while we appear to be going deeper into the abyss.

Footnotes:
1 – www.bea.gov – “Current-dollar and ‘real’ GDP” report
2 – WikiAnswers – “What was the unemployment rate during the Great Depression”
3 – www.BloggingStocks.com – “Canada posts first job gain in four months”

Are We Safer Now?

Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign held the promise of making us safer by being friendlier.  The President’s foreign policy, the “Obama Doctrine”, is naive, dangerous and non-productive.  In a campaign speech in January of 2008, Obama stated, “It’s time to reject the counsel that says the American people would rather have someone who is strong and wrong than someone who is weak and right”.  The White House’s  discombobulation of our intelligence capabilities, contempt for the military, apologist attitude and distancing from allies have put the world in a tailspin only a radical could appreciate.

Due to the softening stance of the United States on Iran and Palestine, Israeli citizens feel more-threatened.  A recent Smith Research poll done on behalf of The Jerusalem Post shows that less than 5% of Israelis feel that President Obama is supporting them.  The Palestinian-friendly stance taken by the current administration is not only a cause for concern in Israel, it may actually incite the violence President Obama believes it would prevent.  The Israeli government may now have no choice but to accomplish by force what the weakened U.S. negotiating position can no longer achieve – the dismantling of the Iranian nuclear arms program.  Perhaps we never intended to achieve that anyway as may be evidenced by Obama’s unwillingness to even staff the chief nuclear nonproliferation position in his cabinet.

In a total reversal, the current Administration is now not only going after the intelligence agencies in America, they are systematically dismantling the ones they do not like.  With the formation of the new HIG (High-value detainee Interrogation Group) the President has removed the separation of concerns that is implied in the responsibilities of the FBI, NSA, and CIA.

The CIA is intended to gather foreign intelligence of all types, perform covert actions, and exert foreign political influence.  The NSA was specifically founded to provide foreign signals intelligence (not human intelligence) and protection of U.S. communications.  The FBI is a domestic law enforcement agency.

The FBI and NSA are the only two groups allowed into this new HIG.  The NSA will run it, it will be housed within the FBI (whatever that means), and all oversight is provided by the Oval Office.  Foreign intelligence gathering fell under the oversight of Congress until last week.  Now the consolidation of power that this represents is unprecedented.  The Executive branch of the United States government can now interrogate high-value detainees (no limit to whether those are foreign or domestic) and the only oversight is the office that created the beast.  Feel safer yet?

From a foreign-threat perspective, the administration’s recent change-of-heart around the investigation and incrimination of interrogators of foreign detainees is alarming.  CIA operatives will not have the conviction necessary to gain the information needed to protect Americans.  Government agents will be too concerned that any action (although legal at that time) may be made retroactively illegal by a future administration.  This may very well paralyze their ability to protect us.

Even more recently, Hugo Chavez, an Obama administration hero, is using his new political capital to start an arms race in South America.  The Russians seem all-to-eager to jump back to their pre-Reagan posture of arming anyone that dislikes the U.S.A. and they seem to feel that they have the right American leader in-place to make it work.

President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton both have shown that at this time, it is more important to support the Chinese government than it is to promote the human rights of Tibet, Taiwan or the Chinese people.

Secretary Clinton told South Korean reporters that we should continue to press China on human rights but, “..our pressing on those issues can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis, and the security crisis.”.   This is a fundamental misunderstanding of economy and security.  Taiwan, Tibet and Chinese human rights activists can no longer look to the U.S. for support.  Decades of democratic progress in Communist China has been erased.

President Carter tried Obama’s kind of foreign policy.  Our leaders learned from his mistakes and have since promoted Democracy abroad, sometimes by doing more than just talking.  This policy is based on the idea that by strengthening freedom and the rights of all people, we strengthen America in the world.

President Obama is reversing 30 years of progress (the fall of the Berlin Wall, unification of Germany, a drastically-improved human rights situation in Serbia, Democracies in the middle east, etc) in-trade for the possibility of a new Cold War with Russia, dictators as friends, Socialists as role-models, and terrorist nations as allies.  If you liked the Carter era, it would seem we are due for a repeat – inflation, oil supply issues and conflict included.

Guns Don’t Kill People, They Kill Amendments?

On August 21st, David Sirota, a progressive columnist, wrote an article suggesting that freedom of speech (the first amendment) is under direct attack by the second amendment (the right to bear arms).  It’s an eloquent piece that contains sparse facts and even more-sparse logic.  He references Congressional forum where someone showed up with a gun and an Obama Health Care event where protesters used their weapons in a youTube video threat.

The events he’s listed are in direct contradiction to the premise of the article.  David is attempting to show that one right should not quash another and I agree with that premise.  He destroys that strong argument by instead talking about how his right should quash that of gun owners.  This is a terrible attempt to present a new approach to Supreme Court evaluations of the second amendment.  Sirota’s position that protecting the 2nd Amendment will destroy the 1st is preposterous.  The first amendment to the Constitution is no more in danger than the tenth due to our right to bear arms.  Having the right to keep and bear arms no more allows a person to bring a gun to a public event than it would a chainsaw or billy club.  Those of us that exercise our right to keep and bear arms are not doing it to endanger other citizen’s right to speak freely.  We are either sportsman, prefer to be prepared to defend our homes, or wish to protect our own rights as American citizens.

If people threaten others with guns, baseball bats, a knife or any other weapon when no threat is present to themselves, they should be arrested and tried.  The same should happen to anyone that uses speech to cause harm to another such as the famous “yelling fire in a crowded theater” example.  Having a right does not give us the right to restrict the rights of others with it.  Once one person’s rights hinder the freedoms of another, the judicial system should be brought in to help draw the line.

This has nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with another tactic to strip individual freedoms from others.  No one is preventing liberals from speaking their minds and the only ones fearing the loss of rights are the one’s now being criticized for having exercised one of theirs.

Is Socialism at Hand?

Nikita Kruschev once said, “We can’t expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism.”  I remember hearing this for the first time in high school and thinking, “silly Russians, tricks are for libs”.  That was a time when Communism was evil, socialism was wrong, and the can-do spirit of the working class American was at a pinnacle.  What has changed you ask?

First, we visit California (surprise, I know).  Representative Diane Watson of California was speaking at a town hall on August 27th, 2009.  Besides the many racist remarks that she littered her speech with, she decided to lift Communist leaders to a level of hero-worship I would not have thought possible.


Highlights:

And I want you to know now… you can think whatever you want to about Fidel Castro, but he was one of the brightest leaders I have ever met. *APPLAUSE*”.

If the fact Rep. Watson thinks Castro is one of the brightest leaders didn’t get your attention, how about a crowd applauding the statement?  Castro and his brother have sucked billions of dollars out of that economy, ruined a once garden spot, and created a disparity between the wealthy (elitist government) and the poor that only Rep. Watson could admire.  In the same discussion, she applauds Che Guevara (interesting link on Che) for kicking the wealthy out.  Of course, she means except for the soon-to-be, rich-beyond-belief, government elitists.

Some might say, wow, a U.S. Congresswoman supports radical communists!  That’s a serious issue alone, and I would respond, but wait… she’s not the first, and it’s not over.

To continue our look into Socialism in 21st century America, we look into the current White House administration (I can’t believe I just wrote that).  Several key figures are of great concern.  Carol Browner, Energy Czar, John Holdren, Chief Science Advisor, Barack Obama, President.

We start with Czarina Browner.  A Czar is an appointee of the President that has no Congressional oversight nor is the role provided for in our three branch system – but the Constitution really does get in the way sometimes…   Mrs. Browner is/was a member of the Socialist International’s “Commission for a sustainable world society”.  Why the confusing is/was?  Well, according to a Washington Times article, on June 30th, 2009 she spoke at a Socialist International event in Greece.  The strange thing is that her profile was prominently displayed on the Socialist web page, up until Mrs. Browner became Obama’s pick for Climate Czar.  That organization believes that countries with large economies should shrink them to address climate change.

Secondly, we address John Holdren.  Mr. Holdren co-authored a book in the late 70’s entitled “Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment.  In this publication, he and his co-authors proposed “coercive fertility control”.  Forced abortions, non-elective tubal ligations for women, and anti-fertility drugs in the drinking supply.

Next is President Obama himself.  When TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) was first outlined in 2008, it did not contain any intent or power to have any stock to be transferred to the government.  Thereby, the private entities could not be made public or the property of the U.S. Government.  The Democrats took action.  The first step was to make sure that the government was given stock for the money that was lent.  Republicans fought hard to make sure it was only preferred, or non-voting, stock.  Obama took the next step by making sure that TARP included a conversion of the preferred to common stock.  This gave the government voting rights into the banking system which would put over 500 financial institutions under government control.  Control of finance, control of some of the largest manufacturers in the country (GM and Chrysler), control of insurance.

Recent events of historical proportion also expose our current leadership’s Socialistic tendencies.  Many “crises” have come lately that have allowed the administration to take drastic actions (i.e. the conversion of preferred to common stock within TARP, government ownership of GM, etc).  A Socialist strategy shows us that these actions were not necessarily responses to crises, as much as a plan to use existing and perhaps manufactured crises to change America forever.  In 1966, The Nation magazine published an article by Richard Cloward and Frances Piven, both radical socialists and professors at Columbia University.  The article discussed a strategy for the ultimate demise of Capitalism thereby allowing Socialism to replace it as the basic theory of economic organization for the United States.  The strategy was published as the “Cloward-Piven Strategy” and sought to “…hasten the fall of capitalism by overloading the government bureaucracy with a flood of impossible demands, thus pushing society into crisis and economic collapse.”.  Those impossible demands: Social Security, Medicare, Health Care/Insurance Reform, ARRA, the list goes on.  James Simpson does an in-depth look at the strategy in his article, “Barack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured Crisis”.

James Bopp, a constitutional law lawyer wrote, “”The threat to our country from the Obama administration cannot be underestimated … They are proceeding pell-mell to nationalize major industries, to exponentially increase the size, power and intrusiveness of the federal government, to undermine free enterprise and free markets, to raise taxes to a confiscatory level … the goal of the Obama administration has become clear and obvious – to restructure American society along socialist ideals”.  There is no doubt that we have crisis influencing Socialism, some coincidence.  Like the sudden Health Care Crisis, right after our Economic Crisis (caused by the Democratically-controlled Congress’ “unsustainable drive to increase homeownership), and perhaps shortly before our debt and inflation crisis.

We have a President using Socialist Strategies (Cloward-Piven), an administration filled-with and associated-to hard-core radical Socialists, portions of Congress praising radical Socialists/Communists, and a  President professing the Constitution as a flawed document.

It would appear that we are at a critical juncture.  We must organize, inform, influence and vote – or we may awaken to find that we have communism.  This certainly comes across as a statement of fear, because it is – not to instill fear of some policy, legislation, or specific political figure, not fear for fear’s sake.  It is a call to action.  Let’s wake up before we find that we have communism.  The alarm is going off.  Do NOT hit the snooze button just one more time.