6 Bullets

August 19, 2014

6 shotsI have been on hiatus, but this blog has never been far from my mind.  I decided to make the time, even if no one reads – it is good to put thoughts to the page.

The controversy in Ferguson Missouri is disappointing but not surprising.  On one hand you have marginalized youth with little opportunity and even less respect for authority.  On the other hand, you have a para-military police force that is unrepresenting of those it polices, out of touch, and deservedly afraid for its officer’s safety.  At root at it all is the crux of this problem – both sides do not represent what America is supposed to be about and are symptoms of a larger disease.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Think about that famous American line from our the Declaration of Independence for a second and how it applies to Ferguson Missouri before you get my two cents.  We’ll circle back around in a moment but you will see a critique of both sides of the debate.

First, this is America, not Liberia…but why do our inner cities feel and behave more like an impoverished African nation?  We will spend trillions on foreign wars, a billions on incarcerating our citizenry, but will not invest the needed monies/energies for our infrastructure or the education of our youth to help keep them out of those expensive prisons… things that government is supposed to do.  This is no greater felt than in places where young men like Michael Brown live.  They physically live in but are not cultural citizens of the greatest nation on earth.  Largely the system has failed them – their government, their culture, their fathers.  You will not hear me bemoan or give excuses for poor life choices.  You will hear me bemoan a system of dependency, a system that gives no bootstraps for people to pull themselves up by, a system that makes it okay to loot your or other’s neighborhood – not because you really care about Michael Brown, but because its an opportunity to score some free booze while you break shit and have ‘fun’ at another’s expense.

Secondly, you have the increasing police state that We The People are subjugated to.  How many times have you been the victim of petty power or known someone who was…and all because the cop knew he could get away with it?   The bad federal government policies exacerbate the problem.  The war on drugs, the Patriot Act, the offloading surplus military gear…are all easy examples of what contribute to the problem of an abuse of power by the police.  They are all misguided and top-down endeavors that empower the police in ways they shouldn’t and give them more say in our daily lives.  Their role is supposed to be about law enforcement, not veiled martial law and big government.

Back to Thomas Jefferson’s words.  Both sides are violating our core values as Americans.  Life:  Michael Brown is dead – that one is obvious – it is unfair and possibly unjust that he’s dead.  What’s even worse is all the other young black men taken at the hands of police or in the names of gangs and drugs.  Why are all these other young black men dead too?  Why does it take racial sensationalism to mourn their deaths – they die by the score every day across America and their lives are just as worthy of being saved and lamented upon as Michael Brown’s.  Liberty: We now see the beginnings of a push back against the militarism in our police forces, but this is nothing new.  Since the sensationalism of the North Hollywood police being outgunned and out-armored by two robbers, police forces have better armed themselves in an arms race against criminals.  The problem is that government handouts of military gear for civilian police work is incongruous.  Taxpayers do not need to pay for MRAPs – which is a far cry from having an M-4 in every police cruiser’s trunk.  That militarism only enables those with petty power to abuse it.  Pursuit of Happiness.  I cannot believe that officer Wilson enjoys the feeling of being an unwelcome occupying force on the streets that he is assigned.  How does his wife feel about it?  Further, he is not a part of the community.  He has no ties, he’s not from there, he doesn’t look like those he’s supposed to ‘serve and protect’ – and that counts for something, I don’t really care if its not PC – its the truth.  On the other side, how happy is the community with law enforcement when the police are seen as a 21st century SS squad?  This is not hyperbole, the sentiment is a direct parallel.  That is an untenable relationship from both sides and how can the social contract between the people and the government be consoled with such incongruous circumstances?  Even if the police were from the local hood, they would most likely be seen as an Uncle Tom rather than someone who gets it and represents their values…even if that particular officer does…he works for a system run by white men who don’t.  While this is an unfair oversimplification and no excuse for reverse discrimination, there is some merit to the sentiment.  The debacle did not begin with the death of a white police officer at the hands of a black man…yet on the other side, it is not the police who cause problems every night when the sun goes down.

My whole point in this article is that the root of this evil is one of un-Americanism and bad policies pushed and entrenched by big government.  It is about things far more insidious than poor urban neighborhoods with little opportunity, race, police militarization, or even the heralded and untimely death of a young black man.  We have lost our way as a nation – in our civic duty to hold our government accountable in our name, how to fight for your rights while preserving others, and what your role is supposed to be as a member of the republic.  This kind of stuff isn’t even on the radar and yet is the cause.  It is why we are here and its only getting worse…

 

 


The Source of My Venom

July 19, 2012

Image

A bit about the author and where my personal politics/beliefs come from:

What you’ll find from my personal politics is that I am a libertarian with a little ‘l’ (which by definition isn’t really even a party) and thus, a Jeffersonian in my political philosophy. It goes without saying I’m conservative, but I am an open-minded, truly ‘big tent’ conservative that would appear to be a moderate by some definitions. Like Jefferson, I am overly idealistic (almost to a fault) but I will fall on my sword of principle and point to our American values and source documents like the Constitution and ask ‘is this the intent behind this in the best interests of the country or a special interest’. On the corollary, I then also ask ‘is this consistent in the purpose of how our republic was founded’. Case in point – abortion. I am personally pro-life. However, I respect that this is not a gray area legally with Roe v. Wade (Even though I disagree with it) and its is certainly a personal decision when it boils down to it. So, taking my libertarian stance, as long as you are not forcing my wife to have an abortion when she doesn’t want one…why do you care what the woman/family beside you do with such a personal choice? Sure, you think they are going to hell – but that is your opinion, it might not be theirs. They are not pushing their value system of being agnostic or unitarian or atheist on you…why then would you push your Christian-right faith on them? You can’t have such a double standard in a society that says that protects its citizens from religious persecution, says abortions are legal, AND values liberty. Those 3 points are not relative. They are absolutes in this nation. Thus the issue of abortion falls into both of those quoted questions in italics above and is why I take the stance I do. My stance may not be popular with many on ‘the right’ where potential supporters would fall and may brand me as a moderate…and make me un-electable should I ever run for office HOWEVER, what I have done is definitively tell you my stance and why, and I stick by it. That is the exact opposite of how most politicians operate and should be far more valued, but it’s not and that is why such a stance is probably unelectable.

The problem with my overall political stance is that it creates a lot of personal heart-ache because my political leanings and philosophy are so foreign to how our country is run. It’s also why I think I am right and why I have no faith in our politicians because I think they’re going about it all wrong – it also leads me to think dimly of our citizenry’s concept of sovereignty and personal involvement in our republic – i.e. they don’t have it and it’s not important to them. Voting the same set/type of charlatan politicians over again and again and then wondering why our country is going to pot is a perfect example. We are getting what we are paying for…would you rather have someone who you know has integrity and may not represent you perfectly, but also doesn’t insult your intelligence and only tells you what you want to hear irrespective of the larger interests of the nation and what it stands for. Unfortunately, people key much more in on their own narrow personal interests and throw the larger picture out. The governance of our nation should not be boiled down to single issue politics no matter how passionately one feels about any given subject. If we didn’t do that as a nation, I believe we could get better people to run for office because they would think they had a chance to win without violating their personal code by having to sell out to win.

Thus, I get so worked up because I disagree fundamentally with how our country is being run. Its being run into the ground with this Republican vs. Democrat fued that is more about party identity and political point scoring than by actual governance. Its also why everyone knows that Congress sucks – obstructionism to the other party is no way to run any government, especially the most important one in the world. Remember, politics is supposed to be about the art of compromise. I think that has been by and large lost in the halls of our nation’s leadership. Instead, we have politics and campaigns that are fueled by sound bites on TV ads and big money donors via shadowy super PACs. I also disagree with the Hamiltonian philosophy that feeds this mindset of ever more centralized and elite control of government. I don’t think corporatocracy and elitism that is what makes America great or competitive…but changing that would mean the current system with those in power at the top would have to abdicate that power voluntarily. Why would they do so when the masses sheepishly vote the same type of politician into office again and again? They are getting away with it election cycle after election cycle with people’s response being to flip flop between two flawed parties. Thus my frustration. The root-issues of the underpinnings of our democracy and its governance are not even on the table to be talked about. Everyone has accepted the broken status quo!

My beef isn’t with any political view/belief. that is way too narrow, this country is way to diverse its in makeup and geography to think that my narrow political views have all the answers. Contrary to what is displayed in DC, one can have passionate beliefs about one topic and then respect someone who has a vastly different opinion than me as long as we both can agree to disagree – we are all still Americans and unless you are a radical, you probably agree with me in general broad strokes on 60 – 80% of things – its just how we get there is different. i.e. – I agree that health care should be accessible and affordable to all Americans, lets talk about how we get there in ways that get to the bottom of why medical care costs so much and is so inefficient and not spout differing party platforms. That’s not good governance or even intelligent reasoning. Nothing I say in theory is un-American or contrary to our basic tenants of life-liberty-and pursuit of happiness that by and large, frame the American dream. It’s just how I go about it isn’t how its done in DC is vastly different than how it could be. I may think it’s the right way, but not enough people actually take a step back and go…why is government so ineffective?

It’s not the debate of abortion vs.right to life or guns vs. guns control, or any other devisive political issue in the country that pits Repub vs. Dem, its how the politics and the media and the voters and the gridlock all combine into our country knowingly wasting time and money while we slowly watch the country I love so much being run into the ditch when it is perfectly preventable. That is why this snake has so much venom.


The Gay ‘Marriage’ Debate

March 26, 2012

I’ve decided to make a new sub-section of this blog – a dedicated “Solutions” tag.  It’s an extension of the awkward solutions tab.  If that tab is no longer there, I  have migrated everything to the solutions tag and deleted it.

So, the first one I’m going to address is gay marriage.  I think it’s an easy fix so that the national discourse can stop the wailing and gnashing of teeth and move on.  We as a freedom-loving people and the government have other fish to fry.

The simple solution:  A compromise.  Allow full rights of the ‘marriage’ of gay couples, just like a heterosexual couple…but it isn’t and can’t be called ‘marriage’.  Call it something else.  ‘Civil Union’ is already in the legal lexicon of an alternative, so why can’t there be another?  My suggestion is a ‘Rainbow Union’.  I don’t care.  Call it “bathysxenophil”  I DON’T care.  Yes, it may be semantics of calling it something and it being the same that it always was pre-solution, but I am attacking the heart of the matter.

The religious right’s main contention is that ‘marriage’ is defined as between a man and woman.  That is what DOMA was for.  So be it.  ‘Bathysxenophil” legally, by title, and by definition is not ‘marrige’ as it is a joining, either spiritual and/or legal between members of the same-sex.

All the gay community has to give up is calling what they want ‘marriage’.

You see the disconnect and why it is so ridiculous to have the ongoing culture war?  It’s merely the use of definitions and language that take away the main arguments of both sides and yet give the other side what it wants at the same time.  It’s not hard.

The implementation doesn’t even have to be top down with a Supreme Court ruling.  Let the states adopt this policy – one by one.  Obviously, the more progressive states would adopt this first, but just like inter-racial marriage that was illegal in the 60’s and is common-place today…times change.  Society is far more accepting of being gay than they were even 10 years ago.

Lastly, I want to call a spade a spade.  The real disconnect and one that is TOTALLY invalid is that some religious organizations contend that gay marriage or being gay is a sin.  Fine, no one is going to change that opinion/conviction.  You are also not going to change people from being gay by calling them a sinner.  They don’t believe they are.  Unless they want to not be gay, which generally comes from this religious conflict – this is not going to change. (and whether a gay person can become straight is a completely separate issue).

To judge people by your own personal faith convictions in a country that was founded in part because of freedom from religious persecution is patently un-American.  I don’t judge you for being baptist…you shouldn’t judge me for being a catholic..and same should apply for being gay.  I personally believe that the act of homo sexuality is a sin, but that is my moral call and I see how other’s would disagree with me.  As long as I’m not forced to be gay, I’m fine.

Faith is always a personal matter and to unwantingly push your beliefs on others is again, un-American.  It’s not your call to make and you do not have the right to do so – your freedom of speech granted in the First Amendment is just that – speech, not action.  Its not your call to make…its God’s; no matter if you think you are acting on his behalf or not.  Nothing gives me the right to impose my personal religious belief structure on others ‘to protect them from themselves’ or because its evil or its a sin.  As long as you aren’t breaking any laws (think Satanists and human sacrifice or other equally horrible atrocities done in the name of religion), your belief in what is sinful or not should not impede others pursuit of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness.

It is for these reasons that we have a proud history of the separation of church and state…and why it is a good practice to continue.  Otherwise you have needless and easily solved problems like this.


Character Counts – A Lesson From Tim Tebow

December 2, 2011

Laugh if you want - but then ask yourself how that reflects upon your character

I will be honest – I am a recent convert to liking, believing, and rooting for Tim Tebow; not because of his current surprising success as the new QB for the Broncos, but because I have learned more about who he is and what Tebow believes in…and understanding where that success comes from.  I want to share that understanding.

This goes beyond the fact that he is a devout Christian (but that fact certainly helps since J.C. is a pretty good role model), beyond the fact that he is inspiring his team to win because of his leadership and example, even beyond the fact that he is the shiny example of all things right.

Even better, many claim he isn’t even good enough to be a professional quarterback in the NFL.

What most people do not get is that Tim Tebow is a man of deep, deep character – and that is THE foundation for himself and hence, his success.  Everything else comes from it.  In part, this comes from his faith, but it comes from other things like values instilled by his upbringing and his life experiences as well.  He lives the Boy Scout Law – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.  Everything stems from this foundation of character. 

He is the guy you want your daughters to marry and your sons to be.  You may publicly mock him and snicker at my line, but deep down you know I’m right.   He is not bothered about you mocking him or his faith through ‘tebowing’.  He speaks through his actions and determines himself based upon his own personal character, not others’ opinions of himself.  That is a core tenant of why he is successful and determines his own destiny.  For example – he is not a victim of his own hubris.  Look at his counterparts who have shot  themselves in the leg, commited vehicular manslaughter, chased after Pittsburgh jail-bait, funded dog fighting rings, and got off of murder raps because the ‘glove didn’t fit’.  Guilty or not, putting yourself and the decisions that led to those situations speak of a failing of character.  Even worse,  those men were role-models so their perils are that much worse as their example is magnified.  People of character understand the unsaid social contract of being a role-model and responsibility therein.  I am sure that Tebow does not take that responsibility lightly.

This is normally a political blog, so here is the angle:  Our country is in such dire straights BECAUSE our politicians generally do not make the same ‘for the good of the country’ type of choices that I know Tim Tebow would make because they lack character.  They simply can’t make the tough decisions and then they externalize and make excuses as to why.  This transcends party, personal politics, ideology, or constituency.  Just look at the ‘front-runner’ crop of Republican presidential candidates – one of whom I will unfortunately have to vote for (as it will be the choice between a lesser of two evils).  All these candidates have problems in electability because at their core, they have character issues that lead to flip-flopping, sexual affairs, influence pedaling, and a general sense of the sleazy politician who we can’t exactly pin down.   Transversely, Chris Christie has far more character – and hence why so many wanted him to run even if they didn’t know that was the core to their reasoning.  This is also why I like Ron Paul more than any of the other candidates even though I know he will never get to front runner status and be a real contender.  In part, his character threatens the corrupt establishment.  I believe what he is saying even if I do not agree with everything he says.  I also know he would be able to make the difficult choices that only a person of character can make. 

Our politicians, media, and society in general lacks the necessary character for America to live up to the values our Founding Fathers and previous generations instilled into the fabric of this nation.  By going astray,we now find ourselves in dire straights as a nation.  We reap what we sow due to malignant values that many in our society follow:  get-rich-quick, keeping-up-with-the-jonses, hollywood celebrity, etc; they all reflect a lack of good personal character that then leads to a lack of societal character.

To John Elway’s chagrin, Tim Tebow can lead ‘real’ NFL players not because he is the best at his position but because there are 10 other guys on the field who make the team larger than its individual parts.  It is leadership creating synergy.  This is the reason why the Colts are a completely different team without Peyton Manning.  Yes, his hall-of-fame quarterbacking is key, but his leadership is just as important.    Each man WILLINGLY follows Tebow’s (or Manning’s) outstanding example and gives their fullest because his character inspires them to be better and have more character themselves by working harder and focusing on the team rather than themselves.  That then leads to personal success – so it creates a positive cycle and reinforces itself.  They do better, are better men for it, and then they want to be even better.  Tebow is a proactive, hard-working guy who believes in himself and those around him.  Through that, the Broncos have manufactured wins AS A TEAM where they should have lost; and in the process, have done far more than they each could individually.  Independence is not the extreme virtue, interdependence is.  Republicans and Democrats should take note of that fact.

The winning streak will end as they always do, but it does not change the fundamental character of the person driving the change.  Tebow said it best when he gave the pep talk before the Bronco’s last win:

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another – Proverbs 27:17


And The Fallout Begins…

August 7, 2011

This week in American econo-political history was significant for 3 reasons.

1)  The bailout deal actually coalesced.  The US did NOT default on any of its loans as Congress actually compromised and raised the debt ceiling.
2)  The Dow saw a 513 point drop as a general reaction to weeks of crappy economic news being ignored (see #1) and everyone realizing that the contagion has spread to Europe and its in Spain AND Italy.

3)  S&P downgraded US debt to AA+ status.  For the first time in history, one of the major ratings agencies has downgraded US debt.

With all that said, it all boils down to this.  #1 shows that politics and brinksmanship is more important than actually doing what is best for the country.  Everyone knows that the amount cut wasn’t nearly large enough and that you’re going to have to raise taxes to get the fiscal house in order – the whole is just too big.  Congress kicked the can down the road to buy time for the ‘super-Congress’ to try its hand.  Don’t hold your breath.  They didn’t address the underlying problems in entitlements now….they probably won’t do it then.  I applaud House Republicans for sticking to their guns, however pledges to Grover Norquist should not take priority of the oath you took to the country and your constituents.  Please realize that major corporations do not pay their fair share in taxes and that it is a fallacy to say that increasing taxes is a defacto job killer – the primary decision to hire employees is not based upon taxes you pay but ability to expand business and make more money in the market.

#2 Shows that we are not out of the woods.  This isn’t a muddle-through economy.  I believe this is an economy in recession that got a reprieve due to gov’t stimulus.  that stimulus has about run out at this point, so we will slip back into recession  The underlying problems in housing, banking, and the false economic expansion of the 2000’s due to those industries are still with us.  Until we address them and continue the deleveraging process, the economy will not recover.   Taking your eye off of the ball for months because of a distracting debt debate gives you a 513 single day decline because of these continuing underlying problems.

#3  The only AAA this country has left are surface to air missiles and the road-side assistance people.  We spend more than we make, we owe huge amounts of money to others, and we have no real plan of fixing things.  Pile a generally pathetic exercise in leadership from the politicians in DC and you get the crisis we’re in.

I recognize that its tough.  I see the merit in specific types of stimulus to help jump-start the economy.  The problem is, we didn’t do the right ones, everyone knew it, and now, there is rightly no appetite because the public doesn’t trust the federal government to spend that kind of money wisely.  They had their chance to enact good stimulus – i.e. really rebuild America’s infrastructure, or develop next generation energy sources.  Both would be long-term investments where your return was larger than the investment and created real jobs here at home.  Instead, they propped up failing institutions, bailed out banks and let them get bigger when they should have been broken up, and tried to stabilize housing prices when market forces are still telling us years after the peak that prices need to fall further.

Individually, the politicians in DC are palatable.  I really like my representative in Congress and I can accept my two Senators.  Collectively though, something very bad happens.  It’s a combination of group think, a culture that embraces gridlock as standard rather than compromise, and leaders who I do think are lousy (on both sides of the aisle) because they worry more about politics and the next election rather than doing what is right long-term for the country.  Toss in an entitled yet apathetic electorate that does not take their democracy seriously,  super PACs and special interests who do, a Federal Reserve that has been worrisome in policy for the past 20 to 30 years, and fraud waste and abuse from the red-tape that is known as the federal government and you have what we’ve got today.

I wish there was a reset button.

- G.S.


Tourniquets and Feces

July 15, 2011
The debt ceiling debate – a false choice fostered by Republicans

He’s Going To Turn Green Next!

 I have opined at length in the previous article and I felt it was way too scattered and didn’t drill down to the point, so I crafted this post to refine it.

 The bottom line is that the Republicans are wrong on this one.  I philosophically agree with their stance on containing big government, but this is not the way you go about it AND they are showing the part of the problem in Washington by being more concerned with politics than what is best for our country.  This is due to:

 1)      Raising the debt ceiling is not a question.  It must be done, it is a foregone conclusion.  To state that raising the debt ceiling itself is a compromise is a false premise.  The consequences of not raising the ceiling are catastrophic and is not an option, hence what they are offering is not a compromise and understandably something the Democrats can not agrree to.  If you disagree with me about what a default would mean, just read a couple of articles from the Washington Post, New York Times, or the Wall Street Journal.  It is very, very bad and unnecessary.

 2)      Which leads us to point #2.  The definition of compromise is that both sides give up things they want to meet in the middle.  You aren’t 100% happy with the end result, but you can live with it and the deal moves forward.  The Democrats offered up their sacred cow of entitlement cuts, the Republicans must offer up their sacred cow of raising taxes. 

3)      Raising those taxes isn’t on middle class or the poor.  It’s on the wealthy and on corporations, both in explicit raises and loophole closures.  Those guys have been getting breaks for years, it is only fair that they pay their fair share.

 4)      It is a false statement to then claim that the Democrats are raising taxes on ‘job creators’.  That is BS because if these ‘job creators’ really needed or wanted to create more jobs, they could.  Small business entrepreneurs are who are getting crunched – and those are the guy who DO hire employees and shouldn’t have their taxes raised.  I’m not saying raise taxes on them.  Large companies have been making record profits of late – they are FLUSH with cash.  They have plenty of money to reinvest in their companies, expand business, and hence hire more employees.  They don’t not because they can’t but because they won’t due to ‘uncertainty in the market’.  If they put their money where their mouth was and expanded their business, they would put more people to work, stabilize local economies, and add more money to government coffers via additional taxes; helping government revenue figures as well. It would create a virtuous cycle instead of a downward spiral, but it is an exercise in the chicken or the egg that no one can force big business to make. 

 5)      Transversely, we should also help small business out any way we reasonably can, even if it means spending money because the return will be far greater than the investment.

 6)       The exercise is as simple as only raising taxes on wealthy individuals and on medium and large companies, but exempt small business (places with 50 employees or less).  Also, redefine wealthy.  The current tax system classifies my father in law as wealthy, but he is simply well-to-do, upper middle class.  However, he has a neighbor who while is not filthy rich, he is wealthy and can afford more taxes because in part, his expenditures have less bang for the buck by having large sums of dollars go into the hands of a certain expensive enterprises.   The neighbor pisses away hundreds of thousands of dollars on unneeded prize llamas and wings to an already huge house in addition to already having two other homes.  The money doesn’t trickle as far or into as many places in the economy.  I am not saying he doesn’t have a right to do this; what I am saying is that he can afford to be taxed more because raising his taxes is not going to negatively impact the economy.  On the other hand, I see my father-in-law spending money in the real economy, just like the rest of us.  He has a budget, retirement, and real financial concerns.  The only difference between him and the average American is that he makes more money, but not to the point where his spending is luxurious, profligate, or wasteful.  He isn’t the one you tax; instead it is his neighbor, Lady Gaga, and the Wall Street bankers are they who you raise taxes on.  Besides, letting my father-in-law keep some of his money instead of going to the tax collector is more efficient.  It is more efficiently spent back into the economy by him directly rather than wasteful, more centralized government control.  Thus the line of proposed taxes on ‘the rich’ is not $250K.  I don’t know if its $350K or $500K or $1MM, but it is somewhere between what my father-in-law earns and what his neighbor makes.

 7)      Given dedicated time on the issue, the size and scope of government could be cut way back while also finding the common-sense and fair places where taxes can be raised.  There are so many loopholes and people and institutions that take advantage of the tax code that it needs reform to reduce the overall tax rate while actually raising revenue.  Savers should be rewarded and not punished for their long-term outlook

 8)       On the other side of the house, the government is so large and has so much fraud, waste, and abuse in it, that there are plenty of ways to cut government across the board, save hundreds of billions of dollars, and get the same result because government becomes more efficient.  ABUSE:  How many times have you heard of overpaid, lazy government workers who do not fear for their jobs?  Fire those people, pay their replacement a fair wage, and expect more out of them.  If not, fire them too.  Real unemployment is somewhere around 16.5%.  WASTE:  How many times have you heard people in government spend money because it’s there to spend?  If they don’t use it, they lose it.  It is that mentality of ‘other people’s money’ that leads to the waste.  Break that cycle through alternative incentives – possibly shared monetary compensation for efficiency.  FRAUD:  How many people scam the federal government on rigging their welfare, healthcare, and other forms of government assistance to both the states and individuals?  Root those people out, stop the bleeding of money, and throw those people into jail to show the rest of the cheats a lesson.

 9)      If anyone is serious about reigning in government AND getting the country’s fiscal house in order, they know that a 4 trillion figure in deficit spending cuts is just the beginning.  Anything less that is proposed is an insult when $4 trillion in cuts is on the table.  I believe the President because of the mantle that he has assumed in trying to solve this problem.  I do not believe the Republicans.  The Republicans don’t want to give the President the political advantage of having a solution to make real inroads into solving this problem.  Like they say, he owns the economy.  Republicans are more worried about politics than what is right for the country, thus they wouldn’t want the President to get the credit since he owns the economy for good just like he would for the bad. 

 10)    Lastly, a grand bargain of $4 trillion dollars in cuts over 10 years is a great start to getting the country’s debt problem in order, but it is just the beginning.  That still means deficit spending, just slowing the growth of it.  To get to a budget that actually has money left over at the end to pay down the national debt means you have to have cuts to spending programs AND you will have to raise taxes.  THERE. IS. NO. OTHER. WAY.  We have already gone too far down the path of fiscal irresponsibility to only have cuts.  We need both.  Anyone who tells you either is not looking at the long term trend nor are being honest with you.  As we have seen, taxes can be cut, but not until the books are back in the black.  There is nothing saying taxes increases have to be for perpetuity.

  I am a true libertarian, I am told in the auspices of Jeffersonian Liberalism.  I am a conservative, but not a Republican, and certainly not a partisan fool.  It is better to ‘tear the band-aid off and eat your peas’ now, then do it later when the country is in a true survival situation (because this is an optional crisis) and the analogy shifts to applying a tourniquet and eating your own feces…

- G.S.


A Game of Chicken

July 13, 2011

EAT YOUR PEAS DAMMIT!!!!

I will take a break from my ‘solutions’ series and interject an article about the current politics of the nation and the game of Chicken that quite frankly, my Republican friends are playing.  Yes, you heard me right, I am siding with the Democrats on this one, but just in political substance, not policy.

You see my fellow citizens, the Republicans are giving a false choice to you.  They say that their ‘compromise’ is the raising of the debt ceiling at all.    They will raise the debt ceiling and the Democrats have to enact entitlement program cuts.  Taxes per Grover Norquist are OFF THE TABLE for the Republicans.  That is a red-herring fallacy.

Not raising the debt ceiling is not an option.  It has to be done because there isn’t any time left to make a problem that would truly stem the tide of rising costs.  They haven’t done the legwork to truly figure out how to pare the federal government down without ripping the country apart since its presence is felt everywhere.  I agree it needs to be done, but you don’t cut out cancer with a broadsword, you use a laser scalpel.  Since the Republicans have frittered away the MONTHS of time that they had where they could have made such a plan, they now posit the untenable position of simply targeting entitlement programs and not the huge amount of fraud, waste, abuse, cronyism, and special interests that actually make government so large, expensive, and inefficient.

Not raising the debt ceiling is also not an option because of the  completely unnecessary financial and economic crisis that would descend upon this country.  We saw it before in 2008 – the markets are all a confidence game.  You lose confidence and the bond-holders go running.  Even if it is voluntary, the costs to further debts in the future due to rising interest rates would be long-term and real.  It would cost more to borrow money.  It will even sit worse with the electorate if the US pays its debt holders first (China) and doesn’t send Grandma her Social Security check.  For political reasons of voter wrath, there is no way that a politician thinks that is a good way to get re-elected.

Scarily, it is the President that is actually showing leadership on this one.  He recognizes what compromise is and if people are serious about curbing national debt, then they’ll take the current opportunity to take a real chunk out of future spending.  he honestly proposed touching liberal third rail issues and give on them and expected the Republicans to do the same.  I believe he is generally misguided in what he thinks is best for the country, but he looks like a centrist who appeals to centrist nature of the country more than the Republicans who truly believe are posturing at this point.  I honestly do not believe the Republicans are sincere on wanting to really make the best effort possible of curbing debt because we have dug a hole that is way too deep for ourselves as a nation to not have tax increases and even reasonably expect us to get out of this mess.  It is a combination of loyalty to Grover Norquist and his pledge for fear of what a negative endorsement will do, and it is also due to the fact that a failure on the President’s part is good for them.  Maybe so, but it’s certainly not good for the country – just like a default scare or wasting a bunch of time on a scare good for the country.  There are plenty of problems to solve – unemployment, energy, trade deficits, etc and this is basically all Washington has done for months.  Absolutely pathetic.

Also, don’t tell me that raising taxes and closing loopholes on the riches of Americans and corporations will hinder growth.  Major companies are reaping record profits and are sitting on the cash.  They are not expanding their businesses or re-investing it.  They claim uncertainty and weakness in the markets…but what comes first, the chicken or the egg?  People won’t feel good about the economy or spend money if they continue to see layoffs.  BUT, if a company took some of the those record profits and reinvested into a local economy and opened up a new division…  The same argument can be said for the richest of Americans as well.   They as a percentage of income pay less than the average American.  There is a point where their wealth doesn’t efficiently go back into the economy.  For every yacht that a fortune 500 company CEO owns, how much could the livable wage be raised for the rank and file hourly workers making $10 an hour whose empire is based upon their work.  You know that $10 an hour is not a livable wage, so those people have to get a second (or third job) sometimes.  Undue taxation for wealth-creators is un-American, but also is not paying your fair share back to a system that you have greatly benefited from while also semi-victimizing the same people who enable your empire.  I’m the furthest from a socialist that you’ll find, but this is a country based upon freedom and having to work 80+ hours a week just to scrape by at $10 an hour is just a form of economic bondage and is also un-American.  There has to be a balance and asking the most vulnerable in our society to have cuts to the programs that help support them while not asking the richest of institutions and individuals to give up a dime is simply wrong on top of bad policy and economic fantasy.

Thus, I propose finding that line where a business is no longer small and an individual ‘has more money than they know what to do with’.  At that point and higher, that is where you raise taxes.  You are getting the most economic bang for the buck as you are not hindering the real engines of economic growth – small business, but you are also not taking bread out of the mouths of people who actually put the money back into the economy versus just pissing it away of opulent, foreign-made luxury items.

So, with all that said, you can see that I am yet again proud of my libertarian stance.  Its shit like this that makes me glad I am not a Republican.  I disagree with Democrats philosophically in most ways, but they make the sound and correct argument in this case. 

Lets just say the US does default and the government has to pick and choose what obligations it pays.  How will it look to the voters (especially the most active block – seniors) when we dutifully make our interest payments to the Chinese, but Grandma’s social security check doesn’t go out in time?  The Republicans would get blamed and they’d get washed out in the tide of the 2012 election, Obama would get re-elected, and then the country would be set up for even worse things to come with an emboldened and empowered Democratic legislative and executive branch.

I weep for my country and the lack of leadership that we have.  I’d be kicking somebody’s ass if I was the President.  It would be time to pull out the weapons-grade, Ross Perot style charts and insultingly lucid Jon Stewart interviews that show all the holes and fallacies in the opponent’s argument.

-  G.S.


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