Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Scandals are Everywhere

Benghazi, The IRS targeting Tea-Party Groups, DOJ going after phone records of AP reporters?  If you liberals out there think this is all coincidence, you are fooling yourself.

Benghazi, to this point does not look be a scandal in the same light as Watergate, which was a perfect example of abuse of power, corruption and a cover-up, but it does show gross incompetence.  State left its own flapping in the wind with insufficient security.  Ambassador Stevens kept asking for security, but was denied, and while the Red Cross and The UK diplomatic mission both pulled out of Benghazi due to real fears, the US decided to keep its mission there.  GROSS INCOMPETENCE.

The other two scandals are the real scary ones.  The White House will try to throw low level IRS workers under the bus and claim that they were overzealous liberals who went too far.  This scandal will reach much further up, and will take out someone within the administration, and will most likely cost Obama his chance at winning back the house during the mid-term elections next year.  Americans don't like this sort of thing.  But this overreaching and intimidation is an attitude that comes from the top.  Look at how President Obama acts.  When he is criticized and questions, he bristles, he filibusters and tries to intimidate his critics.  He has joked about IRS audits.  Sure, they were funny at the time, but given the fact that the IRS has actually done some of the stuff that Obama joked about, its not funny anymore.

Where there is smoke, there is fire.  The Obama administration has cultivated a hyper-partisan atmosphere in Washington.  Chicago politics has always been very dirty, and has included this sort of garbage, and Obama and his cronies have brought these tactics to Washington.

The slobbering media has heretofore allowed it to happen, but now that it is obvious that Obama uses his allies until he no longer needs them (see the AP/Congressional phone record scandal), maybe the press will wake up and try to finally do their job and take back up the mantle of America's 4th estate, rather than being the propaganda arm and protector of the Obama White House.

I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Democrats are trying to end Medicare as we know it.

Yes the headline is demagoguery and sensational, but it was meant to prove a point.  No, I don't think that Democrats are really want to end Medicare, but rather than engage in a fact based debate, the Democrats keep leveling this charge about Paul Ryan's proposal to bring Medicare back from the brink of fiscal ruin.

The left has been trying to paint Paul Ryan's medicare plan as something that will "destroy medicare as we know it."  The irony and hypocrisy in this statement is simply startling.  In fact I am absolutely sick and tired of the left's continual demagoguery of virtually every Republican's proposed solution to the very real fiscal problems that are combining to form a real threat to the future of the Republic. Rather than have a real debate where both sides can discuss how to solve problems, the left simply use scare tactics and vitriolic rhetoric in an attempt to just squash real debate, but I digress.

There are a few things that need to be pointed out, before a serious discussion can ensue about what needs to be done to salvage a dying program:

1)If nothing changes, Medicare will become insolvent in 12 years.  Now this is not some talking point from the Right, but rather this is the assessment and prediction of doom comes from the Department of Health and Human Services own report.  HERE is a link to an NPR story from last year detailing the when Medicare will become insolvent.

2)Paul Ryan's Medicare proposal in his budget (a budget that got more votes in both houses than President Obama's own budget proposals) does not change the benefit structure to anyone 55 an over.  This means that people who are either in the program already or are going to be entering the program in the next 10 years, will see no changes to Medicare, or will get exactly the same care that people already in the program currently enjoy.

3)President Obama and the Democrats have already cut Medicare by more than $700 billion dollars.  Well, I should not say cut, but rather they have raided medicare in an attempt to paint ObamaCare (The Affordable Care Act) as deficit neutral.  This accounting gimmick was used in the run up to the passage of ObamaCare so that the Democrats could say that ObamaCare would not add to the deficit.  Never mind that this has now been proven false, but one must wonder why the press has simply ignored this fact.  Had a Republican cut medicare like this, the press and the left would have eviscerated Republicans and claimed that they were trying to kill granny.  Obama cuts medicare and all we hear are crickets.

So, to play the Dem's game, one must ask two questions.  Why are Democrats trying to end Medicare as we know it and why are Democrats trying to kill seniors?  They have cut medicare by more than $700 billion, and by doing nothing, to fix the program's coming insolvency, the program is doomed.

Do I think this type of rhetoric is stupid? Yes. And I hate to even stoop so low, but I am so frustrated that the left, rather than have a debate on Obama's record and the differences in philosophy and the direction for this country, they have descended into demagoguery and distortions, the likes of which I have ever seen.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Monopolies are not just a problem in the Private Sector

"The great danger to the consumer is the monopoly — whether private or governmental."--Milton Friedman

As I have become a recent disciple of the late great champion of capitalism, Milton Friedman, my mind has been abuzz with the ideas of true capitalism and its power to lift people out of poverty.  There is a reason why the USA has been the greatest economic success story Earth's history has ever seen. It is because the constitution protects peoples' right to pursue their own self interest.  The pursuit of self interest is the driving force behind capitalism.  I would venture to guess that very few successful entrepreneurs ever started a business with the idea of providing benefits or charity to the masses as said entrepreneur's primary goal. A company opens its doors because the person or people who start that business want to, at the very least, earn an income that gives them financial independence without having to answer to someone else.  It is why, when one finds pockets of capitalism that are somehow shielded from government intervention, these sectors explode.  That is until government feels the need to extend its constricting tentacles and choke off the innovation that comes only when a person is able to pursue his or her own self interest.

Unfortunately since power is so enticing, the nature of most people is to consolidate that power.  The logical result of this within business is the monopoly, which almost everyone believes is a bad thing.  But, Is not an all powerful central government another form of a monopoly and just as dangerous as a private sector monopoly? Why is it that liberals, who will be the first to rightfully condemn private monopolies, are so blinded by their ideology to not recognize that centralized planning of any portion of the economy is a monopoly?  Do we not have numerous examples within the brief history of our own country that illustrate this point perfectly?  For every "Ma Bell" (which was broken up by the US government) there is a myriad of examples within the government where power has been consolidated, and the result is mismanagement, ineffectiveness and corruption.  There are anti-trust laws that allow government to regulate and break up monopolies as they get too powerful.  Now I am not arguing the efficacy or prudence of such laws (I personally think that the market will eventually take care of itself in these matters), but ask this question:
What recourse do citizens have when a portion of government has grown to big and unwieldy and has become a public "monopoly?"  Where can we go to break up such a monopoly?

People may try to argue that government will somehow be "fairer" as it takes care and provides for the  people.  First, who defines what is fair?  I certainly will have a different view of what is fair in comparison to someone else. Second and more importantly, History shows us that this notion is flawed anyway.  In almost every case government entities waste millions, if not billions of dollars, are unwieldy, and continually grow larger and larger, while providing fewer and fewer benefits to the masses and almost always at a greater expense to the public.

One can look at Public Education, Social Security, Medicare, The US Postal Service, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (just to name a few) and acknowledge their abject failures, or worse the ticking economic neuclear bomb that will go off if not defused, and wonder why do so many seemingly smart people  think that with something like health care, government will be able to finally do it right.

History tells me that the outcome of Obamacare (and subsequently single payer health care) will be no different than what we have gotten with some of the things I have named.

Someone once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, while expecting a different result."  Insanity indeed.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Why European Socialism is Failing, despite Austerity Measures

Yesterday, Francois Hollande defeated Nicholas Sarcosy in what can only be described as a big Left turn for French politics.  The narrative being pushed by the main stream media and by socialists is that austerity measures have not worked, and most European countries are mired in double dip recessions.  The left is trying to argue that these "right wing" austerity measures have failed, and that only a return to the European Socialism will fix what is ailing these countries.

The problem with this thinking is simply untrue.  The first is that the austerity measures are to any degree "right-wing."  If right wing is defined as any departure from the central planning models that have dominated European politics for the last two decades, then yes these austerity measures are right wing.  The reality is that "conservative" in the US and conservative among European socialist countries means two different things. And finally just austerity measures are not the only thing that needs to be done.

What is really happening is that Europe is reaping what they have sown.  This is what happens when two or three generations have lived in such a cradle to grave social democracy.  They have a whole generation of people who think they are entitled to a free ride after doing so little.

What is worse is that the social democracies of Europe have reached the tipping point on taxation.  Countries such as the UK, France, Spain, Italy, etc, have tax rates that are close to 50% and that does not even count the 17% minimum VAT tax on everything bought in Europe (Some Countries VAT Taxes are higher).  Austerity will not work, because it is not addressing the real cause of the real problems in Europe, that taxes on  businesses are so high that they cannot generate enough capital to invest or to hire new workers.  High VAT and income taxes take away disposable income from consumers who might otherwise spend their extra cash on goods and services.

The only way for Europe to solve their financial problems, is to cut back on social programs and cut taxes.  The problem is that when the population is not willing to buy into what is wrong, and demand services that a country can no longer afford, that country is ripe for financial ruin.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Unemployment Numbers Game

Isn't it interesting that as the November elections creep upon us, that the unemployment numbers seem to marginally improve. Today's unemployment rate is being reported to have dropped by a 10th of a percentage point to 8.1%.  This is fools gold however.  Only 115,000 new jobs were created in the month of April.  This number is outright pathetic.  It was such a bad number that stocks have reacted very negatively on the report.  As of this writing, the Dow Jones industrial average is down 115 points.  By any measure this is not good.

The only reason that unemployment has gone down is because the BLS cannot count those people who have stopped looking for work.  The labor force participation rate is what shows this.  The LFPR is simply the rate of people over 18 who are working, versus those who are not.  In the last 30 years we have seen the LFPR continually trend upward, mostly because more women are working, than prior to 30 years ago.  In the past several years, and particularly in the last three years, the LFPR has dropped significantly.  In fact the LFPR is currently at its lowest level since 1981.  Some of the LFPR are people who are retiring, but since women have been the cause of the LFPR trend moving upward, these numbers should really cancel each other out.  And if one looks at the trend on this graph, it is clear that the LFPR has dropped tremendously since 2008, when the economy really started to tank.

The big question that has not been asked is this.  Why, if we are in a recovery and jobs are being created, has the LFPR number not cratered.  Perhaps part of this is that baby boomers are beginning to retire. But one must, even with that pressure, wonder why the LFPR rate is STILL declining at the rate it is.  Some of those losses should be mitigated by people going back to work.

The other thing is the fact that net job creation during Obama's tenure is still at negative 1.6 million jobs.  When you put this all together, it seems that there is some major manipulation going on with regards to the unemployment rate.

In contrast to Obama's number of 1.6 million lost jobs under his watch.  Ronald Reagan, who inherited a horrible economy in recession, created more than 6 million jobs during his first four years in office.

There is no way around this one.  Obama's record on jobs is horrible.