Archive for the ‘Politics’ 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.

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.

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.

Are We Really Safer?

May 27, 2009

President Obama and his team have been going back and forth with former VP Dick Cheney on whether or not we are safer as a nation now that Guantanamo Bay has closed and we say, at least, that we will no longer torture.

My answer to this whole debate:  Who cares!

Our safety as a country won’t change at all because we close one prison that holds 240 inmates.  And, our enemies have known for a long time that we torture, so this is nothing new.

The bigger debate should be if we are safer now than we were before we put all of these measures in place after 9/11.  Really, it’s been almost 8 years, and we haven’t gotten too far.  That’s the problem with fighting a war with an ideal.  How do you suppose we actually win a war on “terror?”  It’s the same thing with the new war on greed we have going after all the bailouts.  There is absolutely no way you can win a war on idealology.

I would agree with Ron Paul and others that our actions in the Middle East are actually making the situation worse and making us less safe.  Our intentions there were good, but the blowback is creating more and more people who hate us.  If we drop some bombs on civilians, which we have done numerous times, we are giving hundreds or thousands more people a reason to rise up against us.

There is an easy solution to the problem in the Middle East – Bring our troops home, close our military bases, and stop all foreign aid to Arab nations and Israel.  Let the people of the Middle East rule themselves.

If we are gone, they will have no reason to hate us.  Don’t believe the idea either that they hate “freedom and liberty” and the “American way of life.”  If they hated freedom, why wouldn’t they attack the Netherlands or New Zealand?  What they hate is our foreign policy, our bases in some of the holiest parts of the Muslim world, and our unwavering support for Israel.

Instead of actually getting into a real discussion about foreign policy, though, our media focuses on Guantanamo and that’s it.  It is like the extent of our entire foreign policy is one little prison.

It’s time to wake up and start asking bigger questions.  The sooner we do, the safer we all will be.

Does Anyone Pay Taxes?

January 30, 2009

I’m starting to think I’m the only sucker out there paying taxes.  If two of Obama’s cabinet picks, who are supposed to be our leaders, don’t pay taxes, does anyone else?  Is it strange that the working class pays their taxes, but these elite individuals end up owing thousands of dollars?

Today, it was announced that Tom Daschle, the appointed Health and Human Services head, paid over $125,000 in back taxes right before he was nominated to the position.

That is a LOT of money for someone to just claim that they “didn’t know they had to pay taxes on it.”  In fact, that’s two years worth of my salary.

It’s amazing to me that I got assessed a $68 penalty last year for my wife underpaying her estimated taxes for her 1099 work (about $3,000), but Daschle was able to get away with not paying $125,000 of taxes from 2005 to 2007.  Tim Geithner, our new head of the IRS, got away with not paying over $30,000 in taxes over 5 years.

Does it look like we need a review of the IRS policies?  Why do I get assessed penalties, and these guys get away with not paying taxes for years?  As taxpayers, we should be pissed about this!  How can our leaders cheat and steal and then expect us to be the ones who uphold the moral values of our country?

It just disgusts me that most of us work hard and play by the rules and struggle to get by, while our leaders feel like they’re above the law.  Wouldn’t you or I go to jail for owing $125,000 in taxes?  Why will Daschle just get a slap on his wrist?  The divide between the rulers and the masses is growing larger every day.  Will we ever push back?  Or will we just keep bending over and taking it?

Source:  Reuters

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.

More Reasons the Bailout was a Bad Idea

January 27, 2009

As if we didn’t have enough reasons to show us the TARP bailout has been an utter distaster, a few more popped up this morning that aren’t as obvious.

The first is that the headlines all read this morning that Citigroup was buying a $50 million plane with taxpayer money.  It turns out that it really ordered the plane in 2005 and that using it would cut costs for the company.  They also were financing it by selling other planes.  Now, they’ll still have to spend millions of taxpayer dollars cancelling the order.

This is exactly the kind of double standard that is set up by the bailouts.  You can’t spend any money to improve your business because if you do, you are wasting money.  I’m not sure how much efficiency this plane would gain Citi, but $50 million is only .014% of the $350 billion they can’t find.

So now, in the eyes of the public, the reason we can’t find the bailout money is because of wasteful companies buying private jets.  This is the scapegoat the new administration needs so they can place the blame on the companies,  not the failed policies the new Treasury Secretary promoted.

This leads us to another example of the failure of the bailout.  This morning, Tim Geithner, the new Treasury Secretary mentioned above, placed new rules against lobbying for TARP funds.

Wasn’t it just a few months ago that the Treasury basically forced the largest banks in the nation to take the TARP funds?  If they did not want them, why would they lobby for them?  Maybe Geithner’s new rules prevent the banks from lobbying against getting government money.  You will have to take it, no questions asked.

Again, a great example of the new administration showing how they’re cracking down on lobbying and adding transparency (that was said with sarcasm, by the way).  This is just political grandstanding and fooling the public into thinking real “change” is happening.

These lobbying rules will also have no effect on the lobbying efforts that are going on for the new stimulus package though.  That one has politicians and lobbyists lined up, trying to get money for any projects within their districts.

Also, these rules have the unintended consequence of encouraging closed door, secret meetings like the one Bank of America had with the Treasury.  By outlawing lobbying, the banks will go to more secretive and shadier tactics.  

The whole idea of bailouts and the TARP were horrible from the start.  The House had it right the first time, when they voted against it.  Now we are living in a world where we, the people, have to just live with this garbage day after day.  

A President who really promotes change would have assessed the situation with unbiased eyes, realized how the TARP is not working, and had an action plan ready to go day one.  Instead, Obama’s team is saying it will take months to get up and running and just adding more crap on top of the stinking TARP.  We need real fixes, not patch jobs on what was a horrible idea from the start.

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.