Ignorance or Malice?

As our country continues financial and cultural decline, I’m astonished by how polarized Americans have become over some of the political hot-potatoes of today. Whether it’s healthcare reform, taxing the rich, our economy in general, or the implications of our federal debt – data and statistics exist that could quickly end almost any discourse out there right now. Yet the data is completely ignored while politicians and blind followers proliferate tiresome arguments with easily disprovable statements about historical evidence that doesn’t exist. It’s as if truth and dignity come second to pandering for votes.

For example, it is fact that tax increases result in less revenue to the government. It’s fact that the ‘rich’ collectively don’t make enough money to bail government out, and fact that the rich already pay more than their ‘fair share’ by any rational definition. It’s fact that regulation has the single greatest impact on our economy followed closely by the embedded costs of taxation, and it’s fact that corporations don’t pay taxes, we consumers do. It’s fact that single-payer healthcare systems lower the quality and supply of healthcare delivery, and fact that America’s current healthcare system is the best in the world despite its flaws. Finally, it’s mathematically impossible to improve the trajectory of our national debt without significant cuts to government entitlement spending. In light of these facts and thousands more like them, there are still people that debate things to the contrary.

It’s amazing what can be discovered with Google and 15 minutes of searching the internet. There’s no need to disagree in the face of easily obtainable facts these days. The sad part is some people may just be too lazy to do their own research, or otherwise seem to enjoy arguing conjecture rather than acknowledge they’re wrong. That’s fine for them individually but is a significant disservice to those people who seek their guidance comprehending the cold hard truth I call reality.

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Words of a Wise Man

Change we can step in.

He changed. I didn't.

“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”

– Senator Barack Obama, 3/20/06

Silver Tongue

Well, we have a deal! On Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011, our legislators marveled in their own magnificence as they passed a bipartisan debt ceiling proposal, narrowly averting a worldwide financial Armageddon at the zero hour. The mid-day celebration was capped off Tuesday afternoon with Obama giving a victory-lap statement in the Whitehouse rose garden where he discussed all of his ideas about where to spend the extra $1.2 trillion he was just awarded. No mention of Social Security checks being spared, or vets being paid, or Medicare/Medicaid remaining solvent, or of saving default on our debt. Instead, he orated about investment in infrastructure, education, and medical research while peppering his articulation with his standard wealth-envy buzzwords like millionaires, corporate jet owners, and people with yachts.

So aside from handing Obama another Stimulus budget and a trigger to raise taxes, I hope our Congress realizes they completely missed the broader reality of what our nation needs to deal with. After the celebration, the hugs and handshakes, and in spite of the ‘hero of the day’ arrogance of our elected officials, Moody’s and/or S&P will be lowering our country’s credit rating due to the proposal failing to cut $4 trillion in spending. Default on our debt was never going to occur, and entitlement checks and our military were never at risk of being ignored. This manufactured crisis our government called the debt ceiling was a means to an end, and one end only: Obama and the Democrats crave wealth redistribution, and they will trash America in the name of fairness and social justice to do it. Moody’s looming downgrade is a clear indication we must stop spending, and it recognizes the impact Obama’s policies have on America’s productivity.

What this means to Americans is that I hope you have your finances in order, because borrowing is about to get more expensive. I sure hope our legislators are proud of themselves for completely ignoring reality, and I pray America lasts long enough to vote them all out in 2012.

(The funny thing is that I wrote this letter on August 2, 2011. America’s credit rating was lowered to AA+ from AAA on August 6th. I hate being right.)

The First President

To say in early 2008 that Senator Barack Obama could make history if elected President has turned out to be the understatement of the decade. Under the subsequent transformational leadership of the Obama presidency, we are actually witnessing an unprecedented series of ‘firsts’ in our country that I feel must be properly acknowledged for appreciation by an ungrateful electorate.

We elected our first black President of the United States in November 2008. President Obama soon thereafter became the 2009 recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize awarded for world vision as opposed to the norm of being recognized for having already accomplished something meaningful in the world. In 2010, President Obama championed and enacted the first new entitlement program in the history of our republic with an initial price tag exceeding one trillion dollars. And most recently with the passage of a debt ceiling increase, our President finalized the fiscal framework required to achieve the first credit downgrade our country has ever received.

With all these ‘firsts’ to his credit, our President has unequivocally earned a prominent place in American history in less than three short years in office. About the only thing he hasn’t done during his presidency thus far is magically manifest a compound cure for cancer, but his term isn’t quite over yet so there still may be time if he’s not too exhausted already from his success to date.

There were those who said in 2008 that they hoped President Obama would fail. Obama has obviously succeeded – as our ‘first’ President.

The Tax Myth

Always remember - taxing the rich would just make the stuff we buy more expensive.

Question #17 of a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted on April 17, 2011 showed that 72% of respondents favored a tax increase on the “rich” as the most popular solution to reducing our national debt. A mere 27% of respondents opposed this idea. With 68% of those surveyed making under $75K per year, it’s no surprise that raising taxes on the rich is the popular response. But would that really solve our debt problem?

The CBO determined the cost of the Bush tax cuts to be approximately $80B per year. Contrast that to our current national debt of $14.3T and our current budget deficit of $1.35T. Taxing the “rich” by expiring the Bush tax cuts would reduce our deficit to $1.27T and would do absolutely nothing for our debt level. We’d have to tax the rich another 16 times each year for this solution to resolve just the deficit problem.

The second most popular solution illustrated in the poll was to find savings in defense spending. If we were to completely eliminate all defense spending in addition to taxing the rich, we’d save another $665B per year which would further reduce the current deficit to $605B. The poll showed overwhelming opposition towards involving social programs in debt reduction initiatives.

Although taxing the rich and cuts in defense are easy targets, they alone clearly fail to impact our mounting debt crisis. Our government has an unsustainable spending problem. Without immediate and meaningful changes to the sacred entitlement programs along with other sensible spending reductions, we are guaranteeing ourselves fiscal ruin no matter how much heavier we’re taxed.

Upgraded Bumper Stickers

President Obama formally announced his intent to seek a second term this week on the symbolic fourth day of the fourth month as our 44th president. As a result, his website now asks, “Obama in 2012 – Are you in?”. Yes I am, and I’ve already scraped the old 2008 ‘Hope and Change’ bumper sticker off my car in eager anticipation of replacing it with a new 2012 version! I can already envision the clever redesigns in the works:

Obama 2012: Are You In? R-U-IN? RUIN! …against the backdrop of mushroom clouds and a smoldering heap of corporate headquarters……

Obama/Biden 2012: R-U-N? RUN! …against a backdrop of smoking holes and stick-figures running for fire exits……

Perhaps the President needs to rethink his new campaign slogan.

Loophole Misnomer

I’m confused as to why some in our government along with their advocates and compliant media like to believe a loophole exists at gun shows. Calling something a loophole insinuates an oversight or omission that allows someone the opportunity to evade responsibility.

So what’s unique about a gun show that requires a “loophole” fix? We have laws that require licensed firearms dealers to perform background checks on prospective buyers, and we have laws making it illegal under various circumstances for persons to buy, sell, or possess a firearm. Our laws do not require background checks be performed in private party transactions, and there is no language specifying where private-party transactions must occur. Are the same laws that govern our behavior at gun shops and garage sales not in play at gun shows?

Selling a gun to a convicted felon will land the seller in trouble under existing law, so you can bet that law abiding sellers will always take the necessary steps to know who they’re selling to. Ignorant sellers ignore our laws, and they’d ignore any “loophole fix” law just the same.