Archive for the ‘Liberty’ Category

Republican Debate – My Answers

June 15, 2011

Two nights ago was the New Hampshire Republican debate on CNN. While I am a big supporter of Ron Paul, I don’t think his message was simple enough for the mainstream voters to consume. He jumped over his simple talking points about the Federal Reserve, Austrian Economics, Sound Money and Blowback among others and went right into rants that were valid, but made him sound more like a fringe candidate than a serious one.

I’m not saying that the two “winners,” Mitt Romney or Michelle Bachmann said anything of substance, but their message was well packaged. If Congressman Paul could just stick to clear, concise points while still spreading his message of liberty and Constitutionalism, he would come out as a clear frontrunner.

I only watched the first part of the debate last night, but if I had to give a response to some of the questions that were asked, here are a few:

1. What is your plan to create manufacturing  jobs in the US?

Currently in the United States, we have a service based economy. We do not have a manufacturing/production based one like we had in the past. Most of the manufacturing of products we import is in China or other Asian countries. The only way we are going to start manufacturing here is that we need the capital and labor to compete with China. In “capital,” I mean machines and resources. We need to invest in these machines so we can be competitive. Even if labor and materials are cheaper in China, we still have to ship all those products across the Pacific Ocean. It’s not really as efficient as we think. There is opportunity for us to start producing products again.

First, we need to cut the corporate tax to zero. There is no need to tax corporate profits and then tax them again when they get distributed to employees as pay. Second, we need to encourage investment in American capital. The easiest way to do this is to get the Federal Government out of economic planning. Stop subsidizing certain industries. Let the market decide what industries and products we should develop. We could be throwing money down the drain because an industry we are supporting might not be able to exist without the subsidies. That makes no economic sense and would never exist in a market based economy.

Bottom line is that we need to make things again, and in order to do that we need to let the market work and the capital invested here at home to do that.

2. What are your feelings on “Right to Work”?

Personally, I believe that the Federal Government should not be involved in the hiring process of a private company. However, we have installed labor laws that call for a closed shop if half of the workers decide to unionize. So, “Right to Work” is a counter to these regulations, but it really doesn’t work. It would be easier to defund the National Labor Relations Board and repeal labor laws that interfere with hiring process of a private firm, union or not.

Let the company, workers, and the market decide what they want to do. If Company A wants to run a closed shop with union employees, let them. If Company B wants to use non-union labor, there’s nothing wrong with that either. The point is that the Federal Government should just stay out of it altogether.

3. How would you build consensus within the Republican Party, not just Tea Partiers?

I feel the message of freedom and liberty are what the Founding Fathers of our nation wanted. This should resonate with every American, not just Republicans or Democrats. To me, it should be easy to build consensus to get the government out of our lives, out of the private sector and out of foreign wars and entanglements.

Then you would be free to live your life the way you want. Businesses will be able to hire people and deliver new and innovative products to the market. We would stop spending hundreds of billions of dollars overseas and would be able to pass that savings along to the taxpayers.

We need to remember the reasons for the Constitution that the Framers had in mind at the time. We broke away from a too powerful and distant foreign central government. This country was founded on the principle of limited central government and if we remember that, building a consensus should not be too difficult.

As I watch more of the debate tonight, I’ll post more answers. Your comments are always welcome. Thanks for reading.

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Making Work for ATT

December 29, 2010

At work, we had a phone line through ATT that we didn’t use anymore. We also had a DSL line that we use for our phone system tied to that account. We wanted to cancel the phone line, but keep the DSL line. Sounds pretty simple, right?

Let’s just say it ended up being a lesson in the power of the International Communications Workers Union. When we canceled the phone line, they told us we would have a new account number. Nobody thought anything of it.

Then, the next morning, our phones were dead. I checked the DSL modem, to see if it was that or the phone system itself. The lights on the modem were all dead. Definitely a DSL problem. After calling ATT, we figured out that our new account number meant we had a completely new account. They couldn’t just cancel the phone line and keep the DSL line active. Perhaps this was a quirk in ATT’s system.

They told us that they would be able to turn it on for us in a few hours.   Then we got a call back from another rep saying that since we were in California, they couldn’t just turn it back on.  They had to send someone out to install the line.

We told them that we already had the modem, everything was hooked up, and we just needed the line switched. The answer was no. We had to have someone come out. So we scheduled it between 8 am and noon in a few days.

This was during a time when our office was closed for the Holidays, but I had some work to do so I came in with our IT guy. That morning at 9:30, we got an automated call from ATT saying that our line was now ready to use and we needed to register our account.   So now I came in to wait for an install that wasn’t even going to happen? They also were kind enough to tell us if we were having trouble, they could send someone out for $150.

I was mad, so I got on chat support with ATT. We got the modem activated and were up and running. I asked them why they told us someone had to come out. They said that on their records, no one was ever scheduled. I was dumbfounded.

After all this, an ATT truck pulls up in front of our office. The guy sits there for a minute, then comes in and asks “So you’re all up and running?”

We said that we set it up ourselves. We suspected that there had to be some sort of subcontractor or union agreement behind his visit, so we asked him if he was part of a union. That’s when he told us he was part of the ICW. We asked what he was going to do, and he said “say hi and leave.”

This was one of my first direct experiences with a union “make work” program. There was no need for him to come to our office at all, but the State of California requires him to do so. The union lobbied for these regulations not to ensure that our connection was up and running, but to make sure this person had a job.

Makes you realize why we’re so uncompetitive here in CA and in the US in general…

Three Early Failures of Obamacare

October 5, 2010

We have barely seen the Obamacare Healthcare Plan go into effect and so far, there have already been three big failures.  I’m sure we’ll see many more as the plan is more widely implemented.

1.  Since they can’t raise rates for pre-existing conditions, the companies will just raise the rates for everyone.

One of the main points in Obamacare is that insurers cannot deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition.  However, nothing in the legislation prevents the companies from raising rates on everyone in order to cover the people with pre-existing conditions.

2.  Insurance companies have decided to stop selling children only plans.

Rather than take on sick kids with pre-existing conditions when parents sign them up for child only plans, the insurers will just stop selling the coverage.  Talk about your backfires.

3.   McDonald’s will drop their partial policy for over 30,000 workers.

So, rather than allow McDonald’s to provide partial coverage to their part-time workers that covers doctor visits and basic medical care, Obamacare mandates that the company provides full coverage.  Instead of making this commitment, McDonald’s will just stop providing any coverage at all.  You could argue that McDonald’s is “evil” for choosing to keep their money, but you could also argue that government intervention is ruining a situation that is working.

I’m sure these cases are just the tip of the iceberg.  The healthcare companies and drug companies spent millions lobbying for the healthcare overhaul.  I’m sure there will be more problems like this that arise, and we won’t have any recourse unless we repeal all or portions of the law.

Hayek and Bailouts

October 5, 2010

I’m in the middle of reading The Road to Serfdom, by FA Hayek.  I’m on a part right now that talks about the role of government and the free market.

People now think that free market supporters want no regulation and financial anarchy.  This is especially true with the criticism of the Tea Party.

However, Hayek claims that laws are necessary and that there are two main points:

1.  The rules have to be predictable and known in advance.

2.  The rules have to be set with no regard of who they will benefit.  A law created to benefit a particular group will create imbalances.

Unfortunately, we actually have not violated rule #1 in our economic system today.  The rules are very predictable, that our government will bail out big corporations at the expense of the individual family.  This is predictable in all the wrong ways.

We have violated rule #2 and you would be hard pressed to find any legislation that does not seek to help one particular group.  The healthcare laws are supposed to help the uninsured.  The financial overhaul is supposed to benefit the consumer.  While the laws are well meaning, we know that they will not work because business will exploit the laws that they lobbied for in their favor.

As I read more of The Road to Serfdom, I’ll keep posting my thoughts.  It is not a very easy read (Hayek’s sentences last forever!) but the ideas that he was expressing in the 1940’s are as true today as they have ever been.

TARP Success?

October 5, 2010

Today, the Treasury Department declared that the government will only lose $29 billion from the TARP program.  This is being hailed as a huge success and that we saved the financial system and the economy, preventing a second Great Depression and barely losing any money.

I have some big problems with these statements.  First of all, most of the big banks that were infused with cash paid back that money within a year of the program starting.  How can a bank go from about to collapse to financially stable so quickly?

Think about Goldman, it received $10 billion from the government.  If they just took that money and invested it for a year in 3% government bonds, that’s $300 million!  Citi and Bank of America got $20 billion each.  That could turn to $600 million of pure profit.

Did the big financial institutions create a sense of panic, in order to get the government to step in and “save” them by taking over all their bad debts?  Did they know that this panic would lead the government create a web of regulations that stifles future competition?  Anytime banks and government come together, I have a feeling the banks are going to win.

Also, where did this money come from anyway?  We created $700 billion out of thin air, gave it to banks to earn interest on, took on their bad loans, and then they gave it back to the Treasury.   Will the government now put that money to rest?  Or will it eventually make it back into the economy.

And finally, $33 billion is still a lot of money.  We have just become desensitized to the number because we saw the $750 billion stimulus package and the $700 billion bailout.  $33 billion just seems like a drop in the bucket.

While the government claims the success of TARP, I find it hard to believe that it saved our economy and that the true cost was really that low.  We’re still mired in a stalled economy and the bad debt is still out there and has not been liquidated.  And with all the success of this bailout, business now knows that future bailouts will be sure to follow, allowing them to take more foolish risks and setting us up for even bigger failure.

Bondholders Are Not Villians

May 27, 2009

I’m tired of hearing about the evil bondholders that are preventing GM from avoiding bankruptcy.  Why not call them what they really are?  They are the creditors to GM.  They lent GM money, and now are being villified for wanting to collect as much of that money as possible.

The Obama administration’s “offer” is for the bondholders to trade their $27 billion in debt for 10% of the failing company.  If they go to bankruptcy, the bondholders might get wiped out completely, but in a real bankruptcy, the bondholders usually get paid back first.  The problem is that this is not an ordinary bankruptcy.  It is rigged to give the government and the unions all the power.  The creditors and stockholders are the ones getting screwed.

Also, the “offer” gives the US and Canadian governments a 69% stake in the company.  So the primary debt holders get 10%, but the government gets 69%?  Who in their right mind would accept this rotten deal?

We all know the problem with GM is that their labor costs are too high.  Rather than actually trying to fix the problem, the government is handing the keys to the car over to the unions.  Since they are in a partnership with Uncle Sam, we now will be bailing them out forever.  The current model is unsustainable, but rather than actually fixing the problem we are setting up for permanent transfer of wealth from our pockets to the unions.

So, instead of just saying “it’s the evil bondholders’ fault,” we need to look at the actual offer and realize the only winners are Obama and the UAW, and the losers are every tax paying citizen of the country.

More Rhetoric From Obama

February 21, 2009

Tonight, I read on CNN.com that President Obama wants to cut the national deficit in half by the end of his first term in 2013.  This is absolute nonsense, and I have no idea why he would even say something like this.  We are in the middle of one of the most massive government spending programs ever, and he has the gall to say he’s going to be able to actually cut the deficit.  When will we stop buying all the garbage that is coming out of his mouth?

There is no chance Obama will be able to even get the deficit back to what it was when he inherited it from Bush!  How are we going to balance it when we can’t even pay for the trillions of dollars we are printing right now?  He says he’ll do it by raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year.  Can our President be any more idealistic and naive?  We aren’t paying for all the stimulus and bailouts right now to begin with!  It’s all borrowed money from China!  In order to cut the deficit, you’re going to need to cut spending!

All I know is right now, all of this Hope and Change sucks.  He talks about urgency and needing to act now, and then when the stimulus package is passed, he says we’ll see our extra $13 a week in April!  Like that’s a tax cut in the first place!  And then he brags about how fast the tax cut happened, when it’s still 2 months away!

Then he wants to spend $275 billion more of taxpayer money to help fight off foreclosures for irresponsible borrowers.  Sure, some people might have lost their jobs and are falling behind on their payments who might need some help.  But I just read statistics where even if rates were cut to 2%, forty percent of these people facing foreclosure still wouldn’t be able to make their payments!

If they are going to give taxpayer money away, they should give it to the people who are current on their mortgage and who can make their payments.  Let them pay off their debt or buy a car or a foreclosed home.  Give the money to people who will be able to do something with it!

I cannot believe that there is not more of an outrage at the actions of our government.  I can guarantee you that over half the population disagrees with all of these bailouts, yet our government shows no signs of stopping.  Why should we all just sit back and watch our hard earned money go to pay some stranger’s mortgage?  At what point is enough going to be enough?  I can see now the “change” Obama was talking about.  It’s going to be the revolt of the American Taxpayer kicking his hypocrite butt out of office.

Source:  CNN

Barry Bonds and Civil Liberties?

January 30, 2009

The Federal Government flexed it’s muscles again yesterday, sending 20 IRS and FBI agents to raid the home of Greg Anderson’s Mother-in-law for a “tax investigation.”  Anderson is the ex-trainer of Barry Bonds, and he has already spent over a year in jail for refusing to testify against Bonds.  This is a blatant attempt by the Feds to bully Anderson to get him to testify.

I can’t believe this is not getting more publicity.  Maybe it’s because people are sick and tired of the Bonds case, but this is a great example of how the Federal Government can violate our freedom and civil liberties.  The worst part is that I haven’t seen one media outlet criticize the government in this case!  How can you sit back and call out the government’s Gestapo tactics!

This can happen to anyone!  If the government wants to come after you, all they need is a “tax investigation” and they can come and raid your home and seize your property!

One of the key reasons for the American Revolution was that the British soldiers were being stationed in people’s homes, invading the liberty and freedom of the Colonists.  These kinds of actions and tactics were exactly what the Constitution and our Founding Fathers were against.

It is absolutely ridiculous that our tax dollars are being used to fund this witch hunt against Bonds.  Don’t they have better uses for our money?

Where were these agents at new Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s home?  He didn’t pay $30,000 in taxes!  What about the fraud that has been committed by the Wall Street investment firms and rating agencies?  What about the subprime lenders?  Why are they spending so much time going after Bonds, when every CEO of every big bank should be put in jail for fraud?

I never thought I’d be defending Barry Bonds, but the government is going about this all wrong.  They are violating the basic principles of this country and getting away with it.  A dangerous precedent is being set, where the government can search your home and seize your property for no reason at all.  We need to demand that our right to freedom and liberty is not put in danger by the big government, police state we live in now.

Source:  ESPN

The Taxpayer Revolt

January 27, 2009

This year is going to be tough on everyone.  To make matters worse, this year, the state of California is going to be issuing IOUs instead of refund checks because they are broke. I rely on the money back from the state to offset the money I owe to the IRS.  You think the IRS will take my California IOU?

I know I shouldn’t be loaning the government money all year and expect a refund.  However, my wife works as a 1099 consultant, and normally, I end up owing about $1,000 to the IRS, so it all evens out.  A friend of mine has an accountant and does the same thing, so I don’t think I’m too far off.

So now, instead of a net zero situation or owing $1,000, I’m going to have to put almost $3,000 out of my pocket to the Federal Government, and hope that my IOU from the state gets fulfilled.  That’s exactly the kind of extra burden I need this year.  Thanks a lot, Arnold.

How many people across the country are in the same situation?  How many other people are strapped for cash and now will have to go further into debt to pay off these unexpected taxes?

An even bigger problem with the whole system is that my taxes are going to fund all these bailouts.  Why should I have to be burdened with thousands of dollars of taxes, when it is going to something I do not believe in?  It’s not just me either.  The majority of the population is against the bailouts, yet we all keep having to pay into the system.

At what point are we going to have enough?  It’s one thing to pay taxes that go to your local school or to a state project where you will see the direct benefit of the taxes.  It’s another when your tax dollars were donated to big banks and no one has any idea of where it went.

A main reason of the American Revolution was “no taxation without representation.”  Could this be any more true in the current environment?  The American Public is saying one thing, but the government is acting on its own.  At what point do we say that enough is enough?

It won’t take a whole lot more government intervention to make the current situation a lot worse.  At what point will the American Taxpayer start to revolt?  When will be our Boston Tea Party?  At this point in time, the last thing we need is the government wasting our tax dollars.  They would be much better served staying in our pockets so we can pay off debts or buy more things to support our economy.

Already Tired of Obama’s Changes

January 21, 2009

Yesterday was a very important day in American history, don’t get me wrong.  Having a black president is amazing, and it happened a lot sooner than anyone thought it would.  This should be an event that is celebrated as an example of American diversity and open-mindedness.

However, Obama ran on a platform of “change” and so far, it all sounds like a lot more of the same.  The changes he wants to make is just to add to existing programs that already aren’t working.

His speech yesterday called for developing sources of alternative energy, lowering the cost of healthcare, and bettering our education system.

While these are great goals for the country, I wonder why we all believe that the Federal Government is best suited to fix all that ails us.  We can all agree that the current systems are horribly inefficient and do not accomplish what they are supposed to do.  Why should we trust that bureaucrats tweaking the current models is the best way to go?  Who made politicians experts in these fields overnight?

First, if we are to truly to explore forms of alternative energy, we need the government and lobbyists to get out of the way and let the market take over.  There is no reason every new home built should not have solar panels or that new electric car companies should not be emerging.  However, the regulations in place stifle competition and the innovation that made America the great manufacturer it once was.

The big oil and car makers have created a competitive advantage to keep the same cars on the road.  How have we not innovated the basic gas engine in 90 years?  Finally, solar and wind power are gaining ground, but because we are demanding it, not because government is pushing for it.  Let market forces and demands of consumers dictate our energy policy, not lobbyists for companies that stand to profit from one specific alternative energy source.

Second, the only way we are going to bring down the cost of healthcare is to start paying for it ourselves.  I’m not talking about co-pays and premiums, I’m talking about doctor visits, prescriptions, and other routine health services.  We also need to turn health coverage back into health insurance, just as Ron Paul has suggested.  Insurance is for disasters, not going to the doctor for a cold.

Currently, the government or big healthcare corporations pay for doctors, drugs and treatments.  We only pay into the system, but we do not make any direct payments.  This completely distorts the costs because a third party is making the payments.  They have no sense of value and “bang for their buck.”  They have set up payment structures and just collect money.  They do not try to control costs for the patients as long as they make money.

Think about what happens when  you go to a body shop for your car.  The first question they ask is if it’s going through insurance or not.  If it is, they crank up the price, and if you aren’t, they usually have a lower price.  Why can’t we see the same thing is happening with our healthcare?

In order to provide “universal healthcare” we need to make it affordable to everyone, not having government foot the bill for the current cost of care.  Insurance could be purchased based on your needs which would be for catastrophes.  The rest could be set aside in pre-tax health savings accounts.

Also, you should be able to purchase malpractice insurance before you undergo any procedure.  That way, everyone is not paying for someone else’s malpractice suit.  You only pay if you are undergoing surgery or another treatment.  It makes more sense than raising everyone’s cost for one case.

The system would be put back in the hands of doctors and patients, not big corporations, accountants and lawyers.

Finally, the same needs to be done for our Department of Education.  We need to get rid of it.  How does an office of bureaucrats in Washington know what’s best for the education of children in your neighborhood?  Why do we pay taxes for education into a huge pot and not know what projects it is going to?  Why do we teach our students to be good test takers and not free thinkers?

People think of education in this country as a right, and not the priviledge it really is.  Also, it’s not free.  We pay taxes that go towards education.  However, those taxes go to pay Department of Education employees and other expenses that have nothing to do with teaching kids.  Why not pay those taxes as fees to your local school?  Wouldn’t the money go directly to the school your children are attending?  It would also be much more efficient because there wouldn’t be so many layers.

We need to get rid of state mandated tests as well.  The No Child Left Behind Act sounded like a good idea, but the entire year is built in preparation of a standardized test.  Rather than raising “thinkers,” we develop good test takers.  How are we supposed to compete in the global economy if they are just learning test questions and not the fundamental subjects behind them?

Obama might have great intentions, but his efforts are destined to fail.  Central planning has not and will not work.  I know he won’t, but he needs to impart on a real path of change, one where the government gets out of the way and lets the market work.  If this is the change we all voted for, it’s not going to change anything.  Instead, we’re going to need a revolution.