Thursday, November 22, 2012

The South and Elections: What the rest of us just don't understand about Southerners

As I spend vacation in the South (specifically Tennessee) I am greeted by a different culture of people.

Please understand that the culture is different here than in any other place in the United States.  To understand the culture is to understand the people.  Franklin D Roosevelt understood the south well.  And, we was part of  group referred to as Dixiecrats that delivered the south to Democrats for a number of years.

Here are the Southerners priorities:

1.  God

2.  The Bible

3.  Connections to the outdoors including hunting and fishing.

4.  Recognition of the culture and heritage of the South.

5.  Economic prosperity... for many just enough to get by.

Roosevelt a Progressive Democrat, made tremendous in-roads in the South during his administration.  The idea was to build the South's infrastructure.  Build roads, develop national parks, and provide power to a part of the country that time had forgotten.  The development was part of a New Deal for Tennessee and much of the South.  Roosevelt was admired if not loved by many in the South.

What could the present administration do to improve their relation with the South?

1.  Avoid destroying the culture of the South.  While there are fringe elements who push radical agendas on both sides, Obama et al. should avoid the controversy here.  Instead, there is a desperate need to educate the masses.

2.  Education offers hope.  As the Good Book says in Proverbs 29:18 "Where there is no vision, the people shall perish."  Collectively, schools in the South are a shambles.  Much like the Northern  inner cities there is little connection between the culture and education.  Most of African-American decent understand the importance of education...  the adults particularly understand the struggle of getting a reasonable access to education.

3.  At a time that Republican state legislators are attempting to keep funding to low limits throughout the nation, the south seems to suffer most.  Whether you lean Democrat or Republican the equation is simple.  The South is ripe for the picking.  The Federal government ha a unique opportunity to raise the bar, and offer hope to the South.  Education is the key.  

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Romney's Tax Plan: It Don't Add Up!

 WASHINGTON — A small nonpartisan research center operated by professed “geeks” has found itself at the center of a rancorous $5 trillion debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney.
No white paper or policy manifesto put out during the presidential campaign has proved more controversial than an August study by the Washington-based Tax Policy Center, a respected nonprofit that issues studiously detailed tax analyses.
That study found, in short, that Mr. Romney could not keep all of the promises he had made on individual tax reform: including cutting marginal tax rates by 20 percent, keeping protections for investment income, not widening the deficit and not increasing the tax burden on the poor or middle class. It concluded that Mr. Romney’s plan, on its face, would cut taxes for rich families and raise them for everyone else.
The detailed paper proved kindling for a political firestorm. Mr. Romney criticized the center as performing a “garbage-in, garbage-out” analysis and his campaign accused it of partisan bias. The Obama campaign used the center’s numbers to argue that Mr. Romney had proposed a $5 trillion tax cut. Economists jumped on the bandwagon too, flinging analyses back and forth and picking apart the projections and assumptions in the report.
At the Tax Policy Center itself, responses ranged from irritation at the partisan nature of some attacks to incredulity over the political hysteria. “There was this résumé-hunting, White-House-visitor-log” searching feel to the response, said the center’s director, Donald Marron, a former Bush administration economist. “That was unanticipated,” he added dryly.
In many ways the report did just what the center was created to do: inject some solid numbers into a shifty, accusatory, raucous political debate. The decade-old center — a joint project of the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, two nonpartisan grandes dames of the Washington world — was founded precisely to “fill that niche,” Mr. Marron said.
“A lot of tax policy discussions are — how to describe them? — people yelling at each other,” he said. “We believe that good information leads to better policy discussions and ultimately better policy outcomes.”
The center’s claim to provide reliable, nonpartisan information comes in part from its staff makeup. It has about four dozen affiliated staff members and scholars — most are economists, several are considered top experts in their fields, and a number have experience in either Republican or Democratic administrations.
It also is derived by virtue of its ownership of a highly sophisticated tax modeling system, one that took about two years to build and has a small coterie of specialists to tend it. The model resembles those used by government offices to forecast the effect of changes to the tax code, and it relies on about 150,000 anonymous tax returns and a wealth of data on pensions, education, consumer expenditures and economic growth.
“They’re one of the few groups that have this very big, very accurate model,” said Martin A. Sullivan, the chief economist and a contributing editor at Tax Analysts, a specialty publisher. “What they’re doing is just making the best computations available” for others to interpret, he said.
That includes so-called distributional analyses that show how changes to the tax code would change the relative burden on high-income and low-income families — a dry tax topic yet one of the most politically potent ones of the campaign, given the broader debate about tax fairness and inequality.
The analysis of the Romney proposal has proved highly controversial not just among politicians, but also among some economists.
Researchers including Martin Feldstein of Harvard and Harvey S. Rosen of Princeton have argued that Mr. Romney’s tax math might work if he raised taxes on families making more than $100,000 a year — not $200,000 to $250,000 a year, as he currently promises — or if his plan gave a strong jolt to economic growth.
“Reasonable economists disagree on” the growth effects of plans like Mr. Romney’s, said Alan J. Auerbach, a tax expert at the University of California, Berkeley, who added that he did not see the math working out as currently described. “It matters a lot what kind of reductions you’re making or how you’re paying for tax cuts.”
Others have argued that the Tax Policy Center filled in too many of the holes in Mr. Romney’s light-on-detail proposal — making a full analysis impossible and skewing the center’s paper’s results.
“It is not an analysis of Governor Romney’s plan,” said Scott A. Hodge, the president of the Tax Foundation. a nonprofit research group also based in Washington.
“It has been, I think, mislabeled as such and misinterpreted as such. We don’t think there are enough details to analyze,” he said, adding that he believed that it was possible to devise a distributionally neutral, revenue neutral tax reform that cut rates in the way Mr. Romney described.
The Tax Policy Center said that it had sought as many details as possible from the Romney campaign. (Its economists said it has a cordial back-and-forth with the economic policy teams in both campaigns, as it did in 2008.) Given the numbers available, it had tried to perform the analysis in the most generous way possible, and still did not see how Mr. Romney’s rate cuts could square with his other goals.
“We wrote a technical, accurate paper given the available information,” said William G. Gale of the Brookings Institution, one of the paper’s main authors, in a recent interview. “The criticism that you can’t analyze the Romney tax plan because there isn’t one? That hasn’t stopped other economists from analyzing its growth effects. I like to have substantive discussions about tax policy. The uproar about the paper has not been substantive.”
Many economists across the political spectrum have said they found the report’s conclusions convincing, like Alan D. Viard, a tax expert at the right-of-center American Enterprise Institute.
Mr. Sullivan of Tax Analysts said: “I like tax reform. I want to broaden the base. It’s something I’ve devoted my life to. And I welcome Governor Romney and the Republicans’ strong push, but the plan doesn’t work out. It’s not mathematically possible.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

An Email between Christians...

My Reply...

I appreciate your article.  It was insightful, and well-written.  It is good to be refreshed on The Declaration of Independence, and the government that was put in place to uphold those ideals.  There is no question that our Founding Fathers were moral people. Many of them (like Adams) were devout Christians.  Even those who did not identify themselves as Christians (like Franklin and Jefferson) understood that morality was essential for a Democracy to function.  Franklin regularly attended sermons by George Whitefield and even went as far as helping build a hall where the masses could hear his sermons.

Our Founding Fathers also understood that tyranny comes in many forms.  Man by nature is corruptible.  Even Federalist Alexander Hamilton floated the notion of a monarchy during the Constitution Convention.  The Founding Fathers' genius shined through with a three-branch system, a separation of powers, and checks/balances system that ensured that no one branch could dominate the others.  Still though, it seems that agendas on both sides of the aisle have been radicalized.

It bothered me when Steve LaTourette called it quits in Congress.  He was one of the few candidates who was known for his uncanny ability to get things done in Washington.  In a different time and age, he would have been considered a VP candidate.  Instead he cited his own political party as the reason for leaving Congress.

As a Christian man, I have struggled with politics. I have concluded that every election is a war of words, and a war of ideas.  No party can justly claim Christ's dominion. Both parties fall well-short of his ideals.  To claim anything different would compromise the Gospel. Likewise, as if we are in the Garden of Eden, we are given choice, albeit man-made choices in a fallen world.  I think our Founding Fathers understood the dilemma.  Our Bill of Rights could have addressed anything in the first Amendment. The subject that addressed was religion.  It is my belief that religion was recognized as the critical component of our government and citizenry. But, one Christian church should not be favored over any other.  The Founders recognized that a relationship with God was a fundamental right. Americans take that right for granted.  Why is it that right of worshiping God had taken a back seat to all the gifts this great country has been blessed with?  Before we address the government and its variable short-comings, we must address the heart of man. 


The Email...
If you can
When asked by a woman what kind of government the Constitutional Convention had given the people, Benjamin Franklin famously quipped, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.” The warning was meant seriously, because like all the Founders, Franklin was well aware of the dangers that faced republics.
The principal danger, of course, was tyranny, which the Founders understood as the government depriving people of their God-given rights and liberties. The Constitution’s system of checks and balances was intended to make that more difficult, but if unscrupulous persons were elected to key positions in the government, tyranny remained a possibility. As a result, the Founders emphasized that the only real protection against tyranny was the character of the people elected to office.
But there was another, more indirect route that could lead to the collapse of the Republic: The loss of virtue among the citizens.
Government and virtue
Virtue is an old-fashioned and misunderstood word today. The Latin word virtus comes from the word vir, “man.” Virtue was thus literally manliness, the qualities that men should strive to achieve, such as valor, courage, temperance, prudence, loyalty, faithfulness, self-sacrifice, etc. Significantly, these “masculine” traits could only be exhibited in the service of the republic; they were not private but public qualities.
The Greek equivalent was arete, meaning excellence. It referred primarily to something that achieved its intended end. When applied to people, it referred to someone who had developed to their full potential.
What has this to do with government? As we have seen, the Greeks believed that the state existed to assist the citizens in the pursuit of virtue (arete), which was essential to a life of happiness (eudaimonia), the purpose of our existence.
The Roman concept of virtus was more directly related to government. The Romans believed that government officials needed virtus or they would abuse their power and rule out of self-interest, rather than putting their duty to the state ahead of themselves. Since the best school of virtus was the military, and all Roman men performed some kind of military service, important offices in government had minimum age requirements so that all eligible men would have completed their military service. That way, they would either have developed virtus or it would be known that they hadn’t; if the latter, they would be blocked from holding office.
Everyone involved with the state needs virtue if the state is going to function. In a monarchy, ultimately the king’s virtue is all that matters, since the final decision on any policy is his. As authority spreads more broadly, virtue must spread as well. In a republic, it must reach not simply office holders, but also those selecting office holders. If the latter lack virtue, the former certainly will as well.
Virtue and the Founding Fathers
These ideas were well known among the Founding Fathers. They all recognized the importance of virtue for the survival of the republic. To cite just a few examples from John Adams:
Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.”
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.
Others among the Founders expressed the same ideas.
Why is civic virtue so important to a republic? If people think only about their own interests rather than the common good, they will elect people who will pander to them, who will put short term gain and power ahead of the long term good of the nation, and this will in turn lead to the destruction of liberty.
This was the point of a quotation wrongly attributed to eighteenth century Scottish historian Alexander Fraser Tytler:
"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."
Similarly, Michael Novak argues in his book, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, that modern liberal democracies are built on a three-legged stool of economic freedom, political freedom, and moral restraint (i.e., virtue). If any one collapses the stool will fall, which leads inevitably to the loss of liberty and thus to tyranny. In other words, if we fail to live lives of virtue, we invite government intervention and thus lose our liberty.
Virtue and the nation today
Unfortunately, this is the state of the United States today.
We have lost the virtue of chastity courtesy of the sexual revolution, and so we have as a consequence abortion on demand, an HHS mandate to pay for birth control (including abortifacients) and sterilization even if it violates our consciences, and the destruction of the family particularly among poor and minority communities.
We have lost the virtue of self-control, so we spend recklessly on immediate gratification both on the personal level and in all levels of government.
We have lost the virtue of self-sacrifice, so we are consistently self-seeking and look to someone else to pick up the tab for our lifestyle and choices.
We have lost the virtue of service, so the political classes are typically out for power, spend as much time fundraising as legislating, and give themselves generous pensions when they are voted out of office or, more likely, retire. And they pass laws that permit them to keep any money they raise for an election campaign whether or not they actually run for office.
And we are losing our liberties.
The Constitution insists that all important (and some relatively unimportant) appointments of the executive branch must be approved by the Senate, yet there is an increasing number of non-Constitutional “czars” who run important divisions of the executive branch without any senatorial approval or oversight.
We have a President who issues executive orders in areas that he has acknowledged are properly the responsibility of Congress, thereby violating separation of powers. His excuse? A gridlocked Congress. But the Constitution mandates that Congress pass the laws, not the President. If the people don’t like what Congress is doing (or is not doing), then they can elect new representatives and Senators. The President has no right to intervene. Short circuiting the legislative process amounts to rule by decree, which violates the letter and spirit of the Constitution by eliminating the checks and balances built into the system. And it spells the end of the republic, which by definition is rule by representatives, not by a single executive.
We have unelected bureaucrats establishing policies such as the HHS mandate that violate our fundamental liberties, with the willing support of those who benefit and who thus put their “right” to free contraception over another’s right not to be forced to subsidize someone else’s behavior in violation of deeply held religious beliefs.
We have a Senate that will not vote on a budget because any vote could be politically embarrassing and thus threaten the majority party’s hold on power. And the continuing resolutions to keep the government running have the government borrowing forty cents of every dollar we spend.
We have a Federal Reserve that is printing money at a breakneck pace so we can spend now and sell our children into debt slavery down the line rather than doing what we need to do now to prevent default and economic collapse. If or when that happens, some form of dictatorship will follow.
And we as a public sit back and acquiesce in all that is going on. We’re like Hezekiah, who on being told that Judah would be destroyed and his own children go into exile, said that it was good because he would not experience the trouble himself.
The way back: virtue
The only solution is to recover our virtue and reject the nonsense about cultural and moral relativism that has eaten away at the foundations of our society. Without that, as everyone from Aristotle to the Founders to Michael Novak has argued, the republic is doomed.
We will talk about how to do that in the next article.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Small Ball, Market, Iran

Small Ball
Stock trades have been successful. Of the last nine trade, eight have made money.  The most successful for the trades included a a series of puts and call options on CLF.  There have not bee many home run pitches to swing at, so small ball has been the theme. Getting runners on base, and then figuring out a way to score the runners.

There is something to be said about limit order trading.  It has become a preferred method of executing trades.  A range-bound stock offers entry and exit points... albeit small, there is profit to be made. REXX and KOG have also been trades. In this case options are not an option. Instead, opening positions on the low-end range... and selling on the high-end range has worked.

A broker at Schwab suggested using StreetSmart Software to execute more profitable trade.  This will be something that requires more research, and more time.

The market appears to be range bound... and will remains so until after the 2012 Election cycle.  There is uncertainty on a numbers of fronts. Most notably, control of the House and Senate is up for grabs. However, the Iran Question appears to be a looming concern. And the next President (whomever it is) will need to form a diplomatic team. Finally, there must be a concerted effort to keep spending power in middle class America. Whether the 1% realizes it or not, a vibrant middle class is needed to make America work. There must be a reasonable access to education, and more importantly participation in the American Dream.

More on Iran
As fate would have it the radical mullahs in Iran are becoming increasingly out-of-touch with the people who long for democratic reforms. It is critical that this hand is played well, and the very people who can cause change from the inside out...  Most people will agree that the average people in the middle east want basic political freedoms, and a chance to participate in the 21st century.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Squandering Our Greatest Resources...

Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Sitton knew there was the threat of casualties when he deployed toAfghanistan for his third tour of duty, but he said he was "totally on board with sacrifice for [his] country."
What he didn't agree with, though, was his chain of command, who mandated Sitton's 25-man platoon to take twice-daily patrols through fields littered with explosive devices. The platoon was averaging an amputee a day, Sitton said, and since the patrols didn't have an end goal, he didn't see the point of risking such extreme danger.
Sitton was so concerned with his platoon's safety and morale that in June, he wrote a measured letter to Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., who chairs the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
"I feel myself and my soldiers are being put into unnecessary positions where harm and danger are imminent," Sitton wrote in an e-mail. "There is no endstate or purpose for the patrols given to us from our higher chain of command, only that we will be out for a certain time standard."
"We are walking around aimlessly through grape rows and compounds that are littered with explosives," he wrote.
On Aug. 2, less than two months after he sent the email, Sitton, 26, was killed by an IED blast. He left behind a wife, a 9-month-old son - and an 81-year-old Congressman with a new perspective on Afghanistan.
Young is the longest-serving Republican member of Congress, and he has continuously voted againsttroop drawbacks from Afghanistan, or even for setting a timetable for troop withdrawal. But after Sitton's death, Young noted a change of heart.
"I think we should remove ourselves from Afghanistan as quickly as we can," Young told the Tampa Bay Times this week. "I just think we're killing kids that don't need to die."
Young's new position on Afghanistan comes as President Obama's troop drawback plan marks another milestone. Last June, Obama ordered the U.S. military to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this summer, effectively ending the troop "surge" he deployed in 2009.Today the last of those troops left Afghanistan; 68,000 American troops remain.
The plan also calls for those American troops to be out of Afghanistan by 2014. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney supports this timetable, but Young's influential position in the House could mean more GOP support for the drawback.
In a meeting with Tampa Bay Times editors, Young said he's come to a new realization throughout the past three months, as he visited Veterans Administration hospitals and met with veterans about their time in the field.
Sitton's death also played a role, he said. Young said the Army Ranger predicted his own death in that e-mail, adding, "What he said would happen, happened."
Young has served in the House of Representatives since 1970 and is now running for his 22nd term.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Paul Ryan and Hypocrisy: Yahoo News

After repeated denials, Paul Ryan has admitted he requested stimulus cash even after sharply criticizing the program.
As recently as Wednesday in Ohio, Mitt Romney's running mate told ABC's Cincinnati affiliate, WCPO, he did not.
"I never asked for stimulus," Ryan said. "I don't recall… so I really can't comment on it. I opposed the stimulus because it doesn't work, it didn't work."
Two years ago, during an interview on WBZ's NewsRadio he was asked by a caller if he "accepted any money" into his district. Ryan said he did not.
"I'm not one [of those] people who votes for something then writes to the government to ask them to send us money. I did not request any stimulus money," the congressman answered.
But as we've now learned, Ryan did write letters. He did request stimulus funds.
"The Olympics may be over but Paul Ryan could have gotten a gold medal in hypocrisy," a senior administration official told ABC's Jake Tapper. "As someone who spends all day every day railing against government spending, but then secretly seeks millions in funds for pet projects, he is as Washington as it gets."
In 2009, Ryan wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis asking for stimulus money to cover costs on two energy conservation projects in his home state of Wisconsin. In the letter, Ryan said the funds would help create jobs and reduce "energy consumption" in the state. At least one of the companies received the requested cash.
The letters were first obtained by The Wall Street Journal through the Freedom of Information Act back in early 2010. The Boston Globe turned them up for the first time during this campaign season Wednesday. At that point, a Ryan aide referred ABC News back to what a Ryan spokesman said when the letters first went public.
"If Congressman Ryan is asked to help a Wisconsin entity applying for existing Federal grant funds, he does not believe flawed policy should get in the way of doing his job and providing a legitimate constituent service to his employers," the spokesman told the Milwaukee (Wisc.) Journal Sentinel.
Thursday, Ryan responded to the questions himself.
"After having these letters called to my attention I checked into them, and they were treated as constituent service requests in the same way matters involving Social Security or Veterans Affairs are handled," Ryan said in a statement. "This is why I didn't recall the letters earlier. But they should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that.
"Regardless, it's clear that the Obama stimulus did nothing to stimulate the economy, and now the President is asking to do it all over again."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fiscal Conservatives Food for Thought...

There is no question that entitlements are part of the problem with government spending.  One would also have to cite continued military commitments as well.  However, tax cuts are rarely seen as part of the problem.  However, some tax cuts are detrimental to the National Debt.  Here is an article that should shed a new ray of light on spending during the Obama Administration.
It’s enough to make even the most ardent Obama cynic scratch his head in confusion.
Amidst all the cries of Barack Obama being the most prolific big government spender the nation has ever suffered, Marketwatch is reporting that our president has actually been tighter with a buck than any United States president since Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Who knew?
Check out the chart –

So, how have the Republicans managed to persuade Americans to buy into the whole “Obama as big spender” narrative?
It might have something to do with the first year of the Obama presidency where the federal budget increased a whopping 17.9% —going from $2.98 trillion to $3.52 trillion. I’ll bet you think that this is the result of the Obama sponsored stimulus plan that is so frequently vilified by the conservatives…but you would be wrong.
The first year of any incoming president term is saddled—for better or for worse—with the budget set by the president whom immediately precedes the new occupant of the White House. Indeed, not only was the 2009 budget the property of George W. Bush—and passed by the 2008 Congress—it was in effect four months before Barack Obama took the oath of office.
Accordingly, the first budget that can be blamed on our current president began in 2010 with the budgets running through and including including fiscal year 2013 standing as charges on the Obama account, even if a President Willard M. Romney takes over the office on January 202013.
So, how do the actual Obama annual budgets look?
Courtesy of Marketwatch-
  • In fiscal 2010 (the first Obama budget) spending fell 1.8% to $3.46 trillion.
  •  In fiscal 2011, spending rose 4.3% to $3.60 trillion.
  • In fiscal 2012, spending is set to rise 0.7% to $3.63 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of the budget that was agreed to last August.
  • Finally in fiscal 2013 — the final budget of Obama’s term — spending is scheduled to fall 1.3% to $3.58 trillion. Read the CBO’s latest budget outlook.
No doubt, many will wish to give the credit to the efforts of the GOP controlled House of Representatives. That’s fine if that’s what works for you.
However, you don’t get to have it both ways. Credit whom you will, but if you are truly interested in a fair analysis of the Obama years to date—at least when it comes to spending—you’re going to have to acknowledge that under the Obama watch, even President Reagan would have to give our current president a thumbs up when it comes to his record for stretching a dollar.

Of course, the Heritage Foundation is having none of it, attempting to counter the actual numbers by pretending that the spending initiated by the Bush Administration is the fault of Obama. As I understand the argument Heritage is putting forth —and I have provided the link to the Heritage rebuttal so you can decide for yourself—Marketwatch, in using the baseline that Obama inherited, is making it too easy on the President.
But then, with the Heritage Foundation being the creator of the individual mandate concept in healthcare  only to rebut the same when it was no longer politically convenient, I’m not quite sure why anyone believes much of anything they have to say any longer. With their history of reversing course for convenience, I can’t help but wonder, should they find themselves reviewing the spending record of a President Romney four years from today, whether they might be tempted to use the Obama numbers as the baseline for such a new Administration.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Eye Off the Ball... Unique Political Ads.

As we gear up to be bombarded by political ads for the Presidency, it is important to note that our eyes are taken off the ball.  Sure, we can get behind a candidate and believe they truly represent our political views.  But in reality, most Americans agree with neither party completely.  Others look at Presidential candidates and have decided to vote for the lesser of two evils... in essence they choose the candidate who they think to do the least amount of damage to our country.

Interestingly enough, a Presidential election takes our eye off the ball.  The true power of democracy lies in the legislative branch of government.  Article I Section I of the U.S. Constitution describes powers vested in Congress.  It should be noted that Congress is in charge of spending.  Congress declares wars.  Congress sets tax policies. And, it is Congress that passes laws.  The Executive Branch directs Congress.  But Congress has the power to vote yes, no, or completely ignore a President's wishes.

One of biggest issues facing D.D. right now is the demographics of people who are in power.  The vast majority of leadership is of the Baby Boom generation.  This generation is characterized as revolutionary.  When there are extremists of both groups in power... nothing big is accomplished.  Nothing except the push of radical agendas.  It is a sad state of affairs when political moderates like Steve LaTourette leave Congress.  He described the political atmosphere of Congress, and a radical agenda of his own party as motivating factors of an early retirement.

Our country has been based on the art of compromise.  Actually, compromise is the foundation of it.  Our Constitution had a Great Compromise, a Three-Fifths Compromise, and even a compromise between Federalists and Anti-Federalists over ratification.  Democracies fail when the art of compromise is lost.  One needs no other example that the American Civil War.

Interesting Interactive Political Ad.  (Click the Link)  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Presidential Election Promises More of the Same...

Once again, Ohio is center stage of another Presidential Election.  Most of us have had our minds made up long ago as to the candidate we will support.  Neither candidate is much to get excited about.  This is about as exciting as Bush v. Kerry.  That wasn't exciting to anyone!  Still though, there is approximately 5% of the state's population that are "undecided".  Hundreds of millions of dollars will be dumped in Ohio trying to convince us that Obama deserves another four years, or that Romney really cares about people who do not contribute to the RNC.  Then of course we would be remiss if we didn't mention the PAC monies that are flowing into the state as well.  National organizations believe they know what's good for Ohio.  They go to great lengths to smear the other candidate.  Indeed, big money will rule the day.  U.S.S.C. Citizens United will prove to be one of the biggest blunders in democratic history.  In fact, big money can very well destroy what it hoped to save.  Big money will rule the airwaves...  But I wanted to remind readers that Ohioans are a fickle lot.  And at the end of the day, that will make up their own mind.  Here is a nice read by Robert Reich.  He always has so intelligent insight:

The Terrible Economy and the Anti-Election of 2012

SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2012
The worst economy since the Great Depression and you might think at least one of the candidates would come up with a few big ideas for how to get us out of it.
But you’d be wrong. Neither candidate wants to take any chances by offering any large, serious proposals. Both are banking instead on negative campaigns that convince voters the other guy would be worse.
President Obama has apparently decided against advancing any bold ideas for what he’d do in the second term, even if he has a Congress that would cooperate with him. 
He’s sticking to a worn script that says George W. Bush caused the lousy economy, congressional Republicans have opposed everything he’s wanted to do to boost it, it’s slowly on the mend anyway, the Bush tax cuts shouldn’t be extended for the rich, and we shouldn’t take a chance electing Romney.
Yet the public wants bigger ideas from the President, and wants to know what he’ll do in his second term to get us out of this mess. A New York Times-CBS News poll released last week showed that a majority of voters believe the president “can do a lot about” the economy. That’s a double-digit jump from the fall of 2011.
The President could propose a new WPA, modeled after the Depression-era jobs program that hired hundreds of thousands of jobless Americans to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, or a new Civilian Conservation Corps.
He could suggest permanently exempting the first $25,000 of income from payroll taxes, and making up the lost revenues by eliminating the ceiling on income subject to it. He could propose resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act and breaking up the big banks, so Wall Street doesn’t cause another financial collapse.
But you won’t hear any of this, or anything else of this magnitude, because the White House doesn’t want to take any risks. Polls give Obama a slight edge in the critical eight or so battleground states, so, the thinking goes in the Obama camp, why say anything that might give Romney and the GOP a target?
Besides, polls also show Romney isn’t well-liked by the electorate.
So Obama has decided to campaign as the anti-Romney.
Mitt Romney is playing it even more cautiously. His economic plan is really a non-plan: more tax cuts for the rich, undefined spending cuts, and no details about how he’d bring down the budget deficit. No presidential candidate since Herbert Hoover in 1928 has been more vague about what he’d do on the critical issues facing the nation.
Romney’s advisors assume Obama can’t possibly be reelected with the economy this bad. Just 44 percent of registered voters in a Washington Post-ABC News poll earlier this month approve of the job the president is doing on the economy, while 54 percent disapprove. Even more encouraging for Romney is that 41 percent of those polled “strongly” disapproved of Obama’s economic performance, while just 21 percent “strongly” approved — an enthusiasm gap of major proportion.
So Romney’s advisors have concluded that all Romney has to do between now and Election Day is avoid a mistake that might give Obama and the Democrats something to shoot at.
Romney has decided to campaign as the anti-Obama.
The two anti-the-other-guy strategies fit with a ton of negative advertising that’s just begun but will reach mammoth proportions after Labor Day. Much of it will be financed by super-PACs and by political fronts already taking in hundreds of millions of dollars in secret donations. Romney’s camp hopes to out-negative Obama by almost two to one.
So whatever happens on Election Day, the next president will have to contend with two handicaps. The public won’t have endorsed any new ideas or bold plans, which means he won’t have a clear mandate to do anything on the economy.
The only thing the public will have decided is it fears and distrusts the other guy more. Which means the winner will also be burdened by almost half the electorate thinking he’s a scoundrel or worse.
The worst economy since the Great Depression, but we’re in an anti-election that will make it harder for the next occupant of the oval office to do a thing about it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Why Does Government Reward Irresponsible Behavior?

From Yahoo News:

Man who fathered 30 kids says he needs a break—on child support

Desmond Hatchett (YouTube)
And you thought Octomom had her hands full—a Tennessee man who has fathered 30 children is asking the courts for a break on child support.
Desmond Hatchett, 33, of Knoxville has children with 11 different women, reports WREG-TV.
The state already takes half his paycheck and divides it up, which doesn't amount to much when Hatchett is making only minimum wage. Some of the moms receive as little as $1.49 a month. The oldest child is 14 years old.
Hatchett explains how he reached such a critical mass: He had four kids in the same year. Twice.
Back in 2009 when Hatchett was in court to answer charges that many of the mothers were not receiving child support, he had 21 children. At the time, he said he was not going to father any more kids, but he ended up having nine more in the past three years.
The state cannot order Hatchett to stop making babies. He hasn't broken any laws, according to the report.
This story is disturbing is a variety of different ways.  Here are a few points to consider:
1.  The man cannot afford to take care of himself.
2.  There are many women who willfully accept a man who cannot take care of himself nor his children.
3.  These women willfully copulate with this man to create more children.
4.  Undoubtedly, these women will raise children who do not have a fair chance in life.  So will go on to create more poverty...
5.  Undoubtedly, these single parent families will go on to burden the welfare system.
6.  These children will show up in classrooms where a teacher will try to do his best with whatever is sitting in the desk.

7.  Who is paying for the healthcare of these children?

8.  Who is paying to feed these children, and the parent/s?

9.  Can these children be adopted out to good families?

10.  Are any of these families in the counsel of a religious institution?
In essence this case should become public debate, and it should be part of the political discussion between Presidential candidates.  Government cannot continue to reward the wrong type of behavior.  Instead of more jails, more cops, more social workers, and more under-preforming schools maybe someone should consider a real solution to this problem?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory...

Just when you thought the 2012 Election was over, Obama and friends decided to come out of the closet.  Many people detest politicizing social agendas, quite simply they tend to distract from the real problems.  The real discussions should center around the economy, joblessness, and debt.  Instead, we will shift the debate about Romney's religion...  Obama's social agenda...  and in the debate... lose most of American voters with this smokescreen...  Is he really that sure of victory?  Or, has Biden helped him figure out a way to lose the election?

In other news, the American Petroleum institute has promised an economic boom in Ohio.  Marcellus and Uttica deposits will provide cheap energy sources for industry.  Steel plants that have been closed are springing to life in the Mahoning Valley once again... and undoubtedly, our energy sources will find its way to LNG (liquefied natural gas) plants that are coming on line on the east coast... for export to Europe.

As Europe continues to flounder under the belief of socialism or bust, the U.S. dollar now seems attractive.  Can this really be the truth with QE 3 and 4 on the horizon?  Feeling like I am playing a game of Spy Hunter from the 1980s.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Observations... Insights... and just a few other thoughts...

A Trip to the Bank
Today was a wonderful day to take my children down to the bank for a financial lesson.  My wife went to great lengths this morning to explain to our eldest daughter that it is important to save money... that she should save a portion of gumball, birthday, etc. monies.

So we deposited money.  I introduced our children to the branch manager... and the fun began.  We asked what the bank was paying in interest.  The banker hesitated and said .01%.  So my oldest daughter would understand, I asked the bank how much interest $1,000.00 would earn over the course of a year.  "That would be $1.00 sir." Hallie and I agreed that we could do better than that on our own... 

Once we left the bank, Hallie wanted to know how we could make her money work harder for her... and I re-iterated the importance of investing in herself, a product, a service, and the market.  Her choice was to start a dividend re-investment plan with Dominion Natural Resources.  Currently, the company pays approximately 4% dividend, offer capital appreciation in stock price, and in my humble opinion offers a way to leverage the booming dry gas industry currently capping out at 2.0 per mcf.  This gas price will undoubtedly mean that dry gas will be a fuel source for years to come.  So she will now participate in an auto deduct program.

Utilities are boring, but the risk is relatively low, and it seems like a good avenue to invest.

The Value of a Family
The longer I live, the more I realize the importance of family.  Looking at my students every day, I have concluded that kids need three things.  Kids need love, morals, and a chance at a decent education.  If a kid has those three things they will probably turn out o.k..  The higher functioning student will tend of have a higher concentration of all three, and the lower functioning student will tend to have less.  

As a kid, it is easy to take family for granted.  More than likely kids don't know anything different than what they have been taught... and what they currently live.  My father who worked as a labor and delivery nurse always struggled when she took a baby and gave it back to a parent who would not provide a child with the essentials.  That, failure to provide a child with the essentials was a sure-fire way to raise an unwanted child.  

As a teacher, you can always tell the kids who enter the classroom from a decent home.  Two parent families... single parent families... kids will usually meet the expectations that are set for them.  And if the bar it set low enough, they will meed that expectation every time.  One thing is for certain, in our society there appears to be more concern over adopting pets and rescuing animals. It is my hope that leadership realizes that our government should not reward adults for the wrong types of anti-family behavior.  Kids need stability, love and attention... not neglect.

It appears that the stage is set for a showdown with Iran.  Consider the following points:
1.  Iran is inching closer to nuclear capabilities.
2.  Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran (nor should the rest of the world.)
3.  Hard-line Islamists currently rule Iran.
4.  While the Arab Spring appears to have brought enlightenment to the Middle East, it appears that Iran is continuing to repress its people... and this internal strife could be a way to get rid of the current government. And it could be the last peaceful way of letting Iran handle their own problems as opposed to heavy foreign involvement.

Israel is preparing for a military strike.  Air bases from inside Uzbekistan have already been secured.  Iraq could be the staging ground for another Iraq-Iran War should the right type of propaganda be promoted.  Syria, and its current leadership could be the wild card here.  If Assad stays in power it may take continue to take center-stage as an opening act.  But, make no doubt about it Iran will a point of conflict sooner than later.