Monday, June 29, 2009

Oh the Irony!

During the Obama campaign, many ads suggested that McCain was proposing taxing the health care benefits that you receive from your employer (and conveniently left out the fact that he proposed that EVERYONE would get a tax benefit to buy insurance, actually equalizing employer-received benefits with individually purchased)... but never mind the facts.

Fast forward months later: the Democrats are proposing taxing employer-sponsored healthcare (with of course no credit for anybody... because, as Democrats know, the government can manage your money better and choose your health care plans better than you or your employer).

The really CORRUPT proposal: Unions wouldn't have their health benefits taxed in the same way.

Handing a benefit to the union doesn't even help union members; it just keeps corrupt union leaders in power. With all of the money the union donated to some of these campaigns, how can they legally be allowed to accept a favor like that? Will any voters be listening? Will they call their congressman?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Student loans? Don't worry!

Did you go to college? Did you borrow too much, make a poor career choice, stay in college too long, or just feel lazy when you graduated?


The federal government is again making sure that you are not responsible for your poor decisions. Further, they would like to encourage those of you who really need to increase your income to relaaaxxx, be more laid back, "it's all good".

Article in Forbes this week:

Basically, your student loan repayment rate is now dependent on your income. Further, if you take a job with the government, you'll be done paying in 10 years... whether or not you've paid it back. Quote "Public health workers, law enforcement officers, public school teachers and other government employees can stop making payments on federal student loans after only 10 years." I truly appreciate police officers and teachers. But the system already allows the lousy ones to stay on with the good ones... and what does "other government employees" include?

I can see rationale in repaying student loans for certain teachers and police officers who fulfill needs and do a good job. This program, however, is another stab at American productivity. It is likely a step towards "free college" for all.

I believe that education is worthwhile not only for the individual but for the society. However, making that education "free and easy" does not make it valuable.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How much socialism is acceptable to you?

There has been a long delay in my blog because I felt temporarily discouraged. It appeared last week that so many people I spoke with were just not concerned about what is happening to our economic system. Some are willing to give up their personal freedom in exchange for a nanny state: socialism, fascism, statism? You can argue over which of those the USA is adopting, but it’s hard to argue “none of the above.”

After the enactment of TARP followed by massive government spending, I became concerned about out tilt toward socialism. Several moderate friends of mine said “Don’t worry. The government doesn’t actually own the businesses. If they do, then I’ll get mad.”

The last couple of weeks, our government has taken steps for more control of business. Attempting to convert more of the government share of banks (obtained from TARP loans) to common stock will give the government large voting share of the banks. I asked my “moderate” friends about this and they just shrugged and said “oh well.”

However, last week, I think the Obama administration has finally went too far. In trying to engineer the restructuring of Chrysler and GM in direct violation of US bankruptcy laws, more citizens took note.

Not only did Obama propose the government own over 50% of General Motors, he also stood up and spoke against bondholders of both groups. Bondholders are now evil “speculators.” Do you have any corporate bonds in your retirement funds?
If so, you might be an evil speculator. Obama doesn’t think you even deserve your legal share in a bankruptcy court. He feels you should settle for 5 cents on the dollar while the unions get more than their share of the company. Really makes you want to invest in America, doesn’t it?

The administration is trying to take over for both the judicial and legislative departments. Our bankruptcy laws were written by legislators and the judiciary knows that bondholders have a high-priority stake in a bankrupt company. Obama used his podium to try to force a restructuring different than what the courts would likely decide.

The good news about all this: a few people woke up. I started hearing from friends again the last few days who are concerned about the government control. Once again, it is evident that more of us are going to have to get involved in the political process. It is our obligation to preserve what is left of our freedom, if the next generation is to have a chance for prosperity.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy Belated Debt Day

It came so early this year, it was easy to miss it.

National Debt Day is the day the government has reached the point of spending all of its revenue for the entire year. This year it was Saturday, April 26. Occurring in August in most recent years, this year it was front-loaded by bailouts and the stimulus package. Revenues are also expected to be down due to the recession.

While the Debt Day is purely symbolic, it ought to be a wake-up call to anyone who isn't outraged yet. Imagine if your teenager was living this way, "but Mom I can't help it. There aren't any jobs and these things I need are so important." Sounds like your representatives, doesn't it?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Torture and prosecution: is this the government we deserve?

The big item in the news is the release of memos on CIA interrogation methods, and whether anyone involved should be prosecuted. I've felt conflicted on these issues because I don't think I can get enough information to feel fully informed. Our government has to keep secrets from the general public, yet certainly needs checks and balances.

Post 9/11, we asked our government to help keep us safe, and they did. The Bush administration probably had some accomplishments we'll never hear about. This doesn't mean that there weren't abuses. "Interrogation techniques" are always the type of thing that can go too far, and it was time to take a second look at the methods used.

Lately, a lot of people are angry with Bush over the Iraq war or the economy. We're not so scared about the terrorists and we want to prosecute those who might have "went too far" in the name of protecting us. I submit that this proposed prosecution is the same mentality that causes problems like torture to be accepted. It's caused by jumping on today's popular bandwagon to make vicious attacks on others. If we pursue this route, we will get the government we deserve: more partisan politics and millions of dollars spent just to name a few scapegoats.

If interrogation techniques were excessive, the blame belongs to most of us, not just a few. If Obama is truly our leader, he should be able to offer a solution forward. It's time for Obama to show those leadership skills that so many espouse to him, and time for him to make a Lincolnesque statement of unity.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Never Assume Malice when Stupidity will Suffice?

Gun control is a known priority of the Obama administration. I've got no problem with the debate; I do have a problem with misinformation used in the debate.

Last month, Hillary Clinton stated that 90% of the guns recovered by the police in Mexico come from the U.S. This was not true. The fact is that 90% of the guns submitted for tracing come from the U.S. Guns from other sources (Mexico’s other borders) rarely have serial numbers or other traceable markings, so there is no reason to submit them. I gave Secretary Clinton the benefit of the doubt and put her mistake in the “stupid” category rather than the “malice” category.

When President Obama repeated the 90% statistic this month: "More than 90 percent of the guns recovered in Mexico come from the United States?" , I’ll call it an outright lie.

By now, the administration has to be aware of the error, unless the administration's management is completely incompetent. So I call this one either malice or extreme stupidity. I’m voting for malice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Banks slowly nationalized?

Since TARP began in September, there has been debate about whether or not this is nationalization of the banks. Clearly, the original plan was technically a loan. However, politicians who would deny that TARP signalled movement toward socialism would, from the other side of their mouth, say that they owned a portion of institutions. (Barney Frank, on several occasions, said "we own this company in effect" (referencing AIG) ).

Yesterday, the Obama administration and the treasury indicated they would like to convert the government's preferred stock in TARP-participant banks to common stock. This is being touted as a way to allow the banks to increase lending, without committing any additional taxpayer funds.

But, as Thomas Sewell would say, "THEN WHAT?"

First, this dilutes the value of current common stock, which is why the financials and the DOW fell on Monday.

A much larger potential problem: With common stock, the government becomes a voting member of the banks. If nationalization isn't the intention, it may nonetheless be the result.