Speaking Out Both Sides of Their Mouth

November 25, 2009

“All it takes for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – Edmund Burke

   The above quote is one of my favorite and oft quoted phrases.  It can apply in both domestic and foreign policy issues and I’ve used it for both in various contexts.  I thought about this quote in a couple of different ways as I read the below article in the Wall Street Journal.  If you can’t get in because the Journal asks for money, it is basically the same as the article in the WP.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125916271852764025.html?mod=WSJ_hps_MIDDLEForthNews 

In any case, the part that I want to point out to you good reader is this paragraph:

The administration must also face demands from key Democrats to pay for the war without increasing the $1.4 trillion budget deficit. The House chairmen of the Appropriations Committee, Ways and Means Committee, defense appropriations subcommittee and Financial Services Committee, along with the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, are pressing a war surtax to pay for the escalation.

Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has a similar proposal.

 The news expects Obama to authorize 30,000 – 35,000 troops equaling $30 to- $35 Billion next Tuesday during his prime-time address from West Point.

     I hope you saw that WAR SURTAX part.  You’ve got to be joking, right?  While $35 Billion dollars is not an insignificant amount of money, these guys are the same politicians that authorized three sepearate bailouts directly totaling more than $1.5 trillion.  That doesn’t count the tens of trillions of additional debt and obligations they have hung on the taxpayer by other means.  It also doesn’t count the $900 billion or so price tag of health care ‘reform’.  Where do they get off worrying about $35 billion dollars compared to the tidal wave of bailouts they literally squandered on non-stimulating stimulus or literally gave to Wall Street at our expense?

Put in perspective, which should they be balking about when it comes to ‘fiscal responsibility’?

Even worse, which is nobler and right when you talk about opposing government spending?  Do you defeat the people and the mentality that perpetrated 9/11 and give our troops the tools and support they need to do their job so they can come home safe OR do you give bailouts to private interests on the backs of the tax-payer? 

War surtax.  Hmpf.  Where are the Wall Street surtaxes and their regulation?  Notice that financial regulation is the only piece of legislation Congress has drug their feet on.  Everything else, they wanted to pass as quickly as possible so we wouldn’t have a chance to read it.

Look at your representative closely.  Are they are part of the solution or part of this problem?  There are more than you think and they are on both sides of aisle.

-G.S.


Hold Your Nose and Go For It…

November 16, 2009

So, I got done reading my customary article or two in the Washington Post today and one was about the inevitable failure of CIT.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/15/AR2009111502280.html?hpid=topnews

If you read the article, you will see that the title to this post was a pretty encompassing quote from some under-secretary whose name really isn’t important.  The bottom line is that everyone knew from day one that all the money the tax-payer lent this bank was most likely going to go up in smoke.  Not a 50/50 chance, but closer to a 95/5 chance. 

UNACCEPTABLE – for two reasons.

First, we knew this day was coming when we would solidly see our dollars being wasted never to return (in the form of a bankruptcy restructuring for CIT).  Its now  not just an estimate, it is a locked-in reality.   They knew they were basically throwing good money after bad, and now it is certain.  Secondly, and even WORSE, the government purposely structured the debt so that the tax-payer would be the one to lose out.  It is exactly the opposite of where the government bailed out the private debt-holders ahead of share-holders (share-holders are supposed to get compensated first).  There, people who were supposed to lose out, got compensated fully.

WTF?  Why are bond holders so special and the taxpayer gets third rate deals cut for them?

  The government shouldn’t have done the bailout in the first place, but since it did, it should have put itself  first in line to get paid back…makes sese after all, right?  But no, that is not what it did.  Now because of that small fact, the government is going to lose all that money while it could have easily put a stipulation that it gets paid first should CIT fail.  It doesn’t make me feel good about the bailout or the inevitable loss, but at least it wouldn’t have been absolute and total like it now is.

That lack of acting rationally both by putting bond holders first and the the tax-payer last make me conclude that the U.S. Government/Treasury/Fed acted byond ineptitude in many of their bailouts.  It long ago crossed into willful negligence over the management of public funds.  The superlative ‘they’ would never have cut  such deals were they still running their hedge fun or Wall Street bank. 

If they wouldn’t do it for private money, why are the deals different for the US tax-payer?

-G.S.


A Boiling Frog?

November 11, 2009

   So you’ve probably heard or read about the ‘frog in a boiling pot of water’ analogy.  You take one frog and try to cook him (lets pretend you’re French for half a second).  First, you try the boiling hot water.  You drop mr. froggy in and guess what happens?  Its hot so he jumps out. 

    You now take the same frog and this time put him in a room temperature pot of water.  He does fine, he’s comfortable, but you’re not cooking him.  So what do you do to keep him from hopping out?  You turn up the heat slowly so that he never notices that its getting hotter and hotter until its too late.

   The ever ubiquitous and scary ‘they’ say that the pot of slowly heating water is our political process and that we the tax-payer are the unassuming frog.  Slowly but surely, poor government at every level and in many forms is turning up the heat on us:,  taxes, bad policies, bad bailouts, corrupt/inept government, etc, etc.  We are getting so used to it that we see ridiculous laws being passed and terrible deals being cut on our behalf and we do not realize that these decisions are turning up the heat and that we are slowly being cooked….

   On one front that is nice, and maybe it applies to some people that care, but I truly believe that the sad state of government that we see before us right now actually has a lot more to do with us than just being an unassuming and passive frog.  That’s too forgiving…so now my dear readers, you’ve seen me rail against bad government and bad policies, I’m going to ask you to look in the mirror real hard for just a moment.

   Many of us tax-payers  just don’t care – and that is a serious problem.  The argument is that  our lives are too busy, we work too hard, and in this bad economy, it is all many people can do to survive much less be civic-minded.  We feel that government isn’t going to listen to our concerns, so we stop watching and stop really caring – and that is when we really give control up – and most have.  You’ve got to educate yourself on the issues and talk about them.  That is part of the burden of being a citizen.  It is a priveledge to be a citizen of this great nation and most don’t appreciate it enough to make their voice heard.  You’ve got to know what your stand for (even if you disagree with my politics), because if you believe in nothing, you’ll fall for anything. 

    You have the time too, don’t tell me you don’t – but its more fun to watch sunday football than it is to read the paper online or watch the nightly news.  WE ARE ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL and we are the only ones that can correct the course – Washington is happy with the status quo, they don’t want you to do anything.  They know that would take effort on our part and they are counting on it. 

   The second group is a vocal minority.  They are educated on the issues of the day and they do care.  Sometimes they even get together and protest or demonstrate…but what happens?  Because the first group doesn’t really care and is implicitly okay with the terrible path our country is set in, this group never gains any traction.  They swell to a certain size which is less than a critical mass, but then outrage fatigue sets in.  They see that despite their protests, letters, and general civic activism, the same inept and corrupt politicians still pass the same crappy laws that I mentioned above.

My solution – just care a little bit folks?  How hard is it to do that so that you can make this nation a better place for your pocket book and for your childrens’ futures?  Mute the drivel from MTV or E! or whatever mindless show you fancy and read just ONE article from your local newspaper.  Beware of bias – its easy to spot, but you have to know that spin does exist before you can really spot it.  Also, try www.economist.com.  The Economist is a great magazine that has an on-line edition.  Just read something, anything.  Get mad about something, but you don’t even have to go that far.  Just care about something larger than yourself for five minutes.  Trust me, its worth it both for you and for the children whose care you are leaving this country in one day.  What kind of country do you want your children to live in.  Is it the one whos course we are on right now?  Do you really want your response to be ‘sorry this is how I found it but other things were more important at the time…’

Tag you’re It America.  Wake Up.

G.S.

 

-G.S.


Shifting the Cost of Health-Care to the Young

November 4, 2009

   Michael Gerson,the author of this WP article is pretty neutral and fair in my estimation.  I may be biased, so sue me.  In any case, its a valuable read for everyone, but especially young voters.  Remember, ask yourslef has any real reform been proposed?  The same characters will be making the same money, but in different ways and simply ‘spreading their food around their plate’ to make it look like no-ones paying for it.  Well, it looks like the young voters are going to be on the hook.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/03/AR2009110302625.html

-G.S.