Lots o’ Bucks, Not a Lot of Bang

Monthly jobless numbers just came out, and 434,000 of us lost their jobs and applied for jobless benefits for the first time. Whenever we hear those numbers, we are usually told that they are “lower than expected.” Well, I got out the good ol’ calculator and multiplied this month’s number by 24. That’s not exactly the number of months that this President has been in office, but at the beginning of his term, the jobless numbers were much higher, so I think it will balance out. Watch for a later post with precise details once I can find them. That number, by the way was 10,416.000. Over ten million jobs lost in the past 2 years. Assuming the administration is correct when they say the stimulus created or saved three million jobs, and I really don’t, then what we have is $787 billion to create only 7 million jobless.

There’s got to be a better way.

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The Recession Obama Inherited

According to FoxNews.com the current recession ended in June of 2009. With the unemployment situation as it is, I imagine that few people believe it’s really over, even though that may be technically true. But I’d like to look at the other end of this recession. I’d like to look at when it started, because the President is always talking about the “failed policies that drove the economy into the ditch.” That quote may not be exact, rather more of an amalgam of what he’s said lately.

Notice, though, when the FoxNews.com article says the recession began: December of 2007. That was 13 months after the 2006 midterms, when as reported at American Chronicle, “Democrats will control the US House of Representatives (54% Democrat), the US Senate (49% Democrat + 2% Independents who will caucus with Democrats), 28 Governorships (56% Democrat) and 23 State Legislatures (where both houses will be controlled by a Democratic majority).” The Tavis Smiley show indicates that Mr. Obama was elected to the Senate in 2004 and that he announced in February of 2007 his candidacy for President.

Let’s look at this more closely. Based upon data from the Treasury Dept. (Note: You’ll need Excel to read that link), I charted the Federal Income, Expenses, and Deficits from Fiscal Year 2000 to 2010. The September 2010 figures weren’t available when I put the sheet together, so I took the average of the other eleven months for the Income and Expense figures, and their difference as the deficit figure.

A few things of note are interesting:

1. The Federal Deficit (Yellow line) increases significantly after the Democrats took power in 2006. (Remember, the FY begins in Sept. of the previous year)

2. The tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 had the overall effect of raising Federal income (Blue line) by $500 billion, even though expenses (Magenta line) climbed at a fairly steady rate from 2000 until 2007.

3. The Federal Deficit declined each year from 2004 to 2007.

4. As Federal deficits rose, Federal income declined.

I then decided to look at the unemployment rates during this time period and I found a page from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I had to scale the Unemployment percentage up by a factor of 100,000 so it would show up on the chart in a meaningful way. So, when you see 1,000,000 it represents 10% unemployment.

Notice that from 2000 until 2007, the total unemployment rate began at 4%, peaked at 6% in 2003, and was in fact at 4.6% when Democrats took control of the House and Senate in 2007 and the Pelosi, Reid, and now Obama agenda began.

President Obama inherited a recession, alright; and while President Bush should have wielded the veto pen with more authority, it must be remembered that a President can’t spend money unless Congress authorizes it. In that respect, both of these branches of our Government are to blame for the recession. I just find it very disingenuous on President Obama’s part to blame President Bush for the recession when he himself was part of a Democrat-controlled Legislature that increased spending faster than the Republican-controlled Legislature had.

Talk about driving us into a ditch! No kidding! In fact, I’m with the President when he says, “Don’t give them back the keys” because I think this data speaks for itself: Democrats in power = huge deficits and increased unemployment.

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Drunken Sailors Have a Bartender

The oft-repeated Reagan maxim about Congress spending like drunken sailors is a good one, and it really fits the situation we find ourselves in with this Congress. One blogger’s reader, a self-proclaimed drunken sailor, had this to say:

I assure you, a drunken sailor is a harmless creature. I speak from experience. I have been a drunken sailor. Many of my best friends have been drunken sailors.

Whereas from my perspective, all flavors of government inflict great harm. To infer a resemblance between a politician and a drunken sailor should be actionable!

When pulling into a foreign port after many weeks or months at sea with the world’s finest navy, I always looked forward to sampling the native’s libations. Yes, I got hammered.

However, when I ran out of money I STOPPED DRINKING! I didn’t club the patron on the bar stool next to me over the head and rob him so I could continue drinking. I didn’t call me wife and ask her to cash in the kids college funds so I could continue drinking. I didn’t write my unborn grandkids an IOU so I could continue drinking. I just stopped and stumbled back to the liberty launch for a cheeseburger. I knew I’d have some cash next payday and I could hit the bars and clubs in the next liberty port.

The reader makes a fabulous point, but he never mentions the bartender at all – that wasn’t part of his point. But let’s consider the role of the bartender in this analogy. The sailor can’t get drunk without alcohol. The bartender has control over that. It doesn’t matter how much money the sailor wishes to throw at the bartender; if he doesn’t exchange that money for booze, the sailor not only doesn’t get drunk, he doesn’t spend his money either.

Times are tough in our country, to be sure. People have been unemployed and underemployed for a long time. Bills are piling up. Foreclosures are still a problem. Yet Congress still goes on trying to spend money. Many in Congress have become drunk on power rather than alcohol. The law means nothing; they consider themselves above it because they write it.

We are the bartender. To be clear, we should pay our fair share of taxes at all levels; but we don’t have to accept Washington’s money, either. I’m not advocating that anyone should let their families go hungry, only that government assistance should be our last resort, not the first. Part of the Cloward-Piven strategy is to collapse the system by getting too many people on it. Don’t get on the government dole any more than you absolutely have to. Expend a little energy being creative first. Where can you find money from private individuals or foundations? Money from people who gave it willingly, with altruistic motives. If you find yourself out of work, do you have a skill that others would pay for? Can you hire yourself and start your own micro-business? Many small businesses got started because someone quit or was fired from a job. This is still America, where being out of work today means opportunity for tomorrow. Please use welfare programs the way they are supposed to be used: mindful that it’s only partly your money. The rest was forcibly taken from others and comes to you from the hand of people who aren’t giving it out of kindness, but out of a desire for power, or a constituency. Be the bartender. Reject Washington’s handouts as long as you can and get away from them as soon as you can because those handouts are a trap. We are the bartender. We have the ultimate “power of the purse”. If we don’t take the money, they can’t spend it.

By the way, I reject the premise that just because I don’t take the money, someone else will. I don’t fault anyone for taking Washington’s money. It’s a personal choice like any other. If you choose to do a project backed by “stimulus” funds, go ahead. I did one because it was offered me by my largest client. Rely first and foremost on God to provide for your needs. He’s painting on a canvas bigger than we can imagine and you can rely on Him even when you’re asleep. Rely on yourself next because more than any other human, you can count on yourself. Rely next on family, then friends, then strangers, then Government at the lowest level possible.

Remember, the bartender controls how drunk its patrons can get.

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An Open Letter to Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX6)

Congressman Barton,

I wholeheartedly support your apology to BP even though I’m not one of your constituents. It is certain that BP has liability. So does the Administration. Their behavior in this debacle is in my opinion worthy of impeachment. The Executive branch of Government has absolutely NO Constitutional authority to demand anything of any company absent a Legislative mandate under the Law, duly authorized by the Congress.

I must admit I was disappointed to hear of your retraction of those comments. I guess it’s the equivalent of when a judge instructs a jury to disregard testimony that’s been stricken from the record. Still… You’re OK in my book!

Thanks,

David Anderson

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Give a Man a Fish…

You’ve heard Lao Tzu’s old Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.” That saying sums up much of the difference between liberals and conservatives. The first statement of the saying is the liberal point of view. The second is the conservative point of view.

I’ll start with the similarities of both points of view. Both points of view recognize the problem. One (or a group) of our fellowmen is hungry and cannot feed himself, much less his family. Both points of view propose a solution that solves the immediate need, making both points of view compassionate. I flatly reject the notion that liberals are inherently compassionate while conservatives are not. But the similarities end here.

The liberal says, “Give a man a fish.” Under this system, the definition of compassion is based upon how many people are being fed. Such a system provides equality of outcome for each person being fed. We’ve fed him for “a day”. But what of tomorrow? And the next day? His hunger will surely return, and he will just as surely return to us for food. Has his lot in life improved? Not at all. We who can fish now must go out and fish to provide not only for ourselves and our own families, but also for this other person. It’s not that we mind, but from a cost standpoint, this gets expensive and only more so as time goes on. Our freedom and his is now limited because he is dependent upon us for his sustenance. We must fish and he must return to us daily. This dependency on the fish provider creates a constituency for that provider. Because of the time required for the dependent person to go to the fish provider, he is discouraged from working in any respect because his needs are being met, if only barely. “This beats working any day”, he may think, “After all, I’m a victim of circumstance: I can’t fish.” This limits the individual and freezes him in his circumstances. His victimhood creates feelings of anger and angst, leading to class warfare. As he notices those constraints, he becomes discouraged and his notion of his own self-worth diminishes. This empowers those fish providers who have no compunction about taking from other fish providers to give to him. Besides, those other fish providers have a duty to help out; to “give back to the community” for the need is so great. As others are provided for, because remember that’s this system’s definition of compassion, the overall economy shrinks and increasingly becomes a society of have’s and have not’s.

The conservative says, “Teach a man to fish.” Under this system, the definition of compassion is based upon how many people no longer have to be fed. Such a system provides equality of opportunity. I may have to share some of my fish with him today, but tomorrow he can help me catch up. Teaching the man to fish involves a little time and some extra fishing tackle. The cost is thus fairly low, and relatively fixed; tied only to the rate of inflation and improvements in fishing technology. The individual becomes empowered to fend for himself. He relies upon himself and upon God for his sustenance. His lot in life has improved. If I as a fish provider want to take a day or a week off, I don’t have to worry about this other person. This means greater freedom for me and for him. His newfound spirit of self-reliance not only enhances his self-worth, but now he can teach someone else to fish, paying it forward, if you will. More fishermen increases both competition and the supply of fish. Increased supply lowers the cost of fish for all and spurs the development of fishing technology. Someone has to supply all those fishermen. His success encourages him to work, even though he sometimes fails. In fact, his failures encourage thrift. On days when he is particularly successful, he will learn to save a bit of fish so that there’ll be enough to eat on those days when the catch is not quite enough. This system also creates a constituency of people who don’t want what they’ve worked hard for taken from them and given to someone who refuses to work for themselves. He’s compassionate, teaching others to fish; but doesn’t understand the impatience of some who want the benefits of having fish, without the training and discipline required to obtain and hold on to those benefits.

Sound familiar?

For a similar take on this saying, but from a business management perspective, see this.

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Is it just me, or does all this have the distinct odor of Bass?

So, while Congress debated healthcare, all of a sudden we had the H1N1 scare and the CDC’s apparent mismanagement of it, new ration-like guidelines for breast cancer testing, and maybe some other stories. These have all subsided now. Congress starts talking about financial “reform” and all of a sudden we hear stories about Goldman-Sachs, and about SEC porn-surfing. The President sets up this deficit-reduction commission and all of a sudden we hear about Paul Volcker’s idea of a VAT tax being a “novel” idea. (No, the “novel” idea would be to cut spending! Duh! But I digress.) Congress can’t pass Cap & Trade (hooray!), because of climategate, so the EPA basically threatens to do it for them by fiat; the President opens up some areas for “exploration” and all of a sudden a coal mine suffers a collapse, and an offshore oil rig catches fire. Please know, these are true tragedies, and I am in no way attempting to minimize or politicize the lives lost. At the same time, I fear the supposed environmental impact will prompt a rejection of the energy companies’ idea of our ability to drill and mine cleanly and with a minimal environmental impact.

I know that some of this, like maybe the VAT tax, is due to the normal news cycle and the national debate over the issues. But we’ve got Chicago thugs in the White House. The Windy City has given us Paul Harvey, no thug to be sure; but before that, it gave us Al Capone. We know that ACORN & SEIU have bullied people that disagree with this administration: ACORN bullying banks and helping to create the housing bubble, SEIU members bullying the Tea Party vendor who was selling “Don’t Tread On Me” flags. What have these groups done that we don’t know about? We have video of the Tea Party protests. Not one of them has ever become violent. In fact, in some places, the police don’t even show up for the demonstration. The tea partiers don’t leave their trash on the streets where they demonstrate. We are respectful, but insistent, and ultimately we will be heard.

Yes, I consider myself one of the Tea Party. That makes me skeptical of this administration and everything that it does. I don’t have any evidence linking these events with the current administration; but I want to know for sure why that oil rig caught fire. I would not put it past eco-terrorists to have caused this. I absolutely, truly, hope they didn’t because of the lives lost; and I pray for the families who’ve lost loved ones. We know that leftists do incite violence (Bill Ayers, anyone?). But the timing is just way too fishy, given what has come before.

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Mr. President – Whose Money Is It, Anyway?

Fox News is reporting, and I hope others are also, that the President is “amused” at our tax day outrage. He said at a Democratic fundraiser in Miami:

"I’ve been a little amused over the last couple of days where people have been havin’ these rallies… (Crowd laughs) about taxes, taxes. You would think they would be saying, ‘Thank you.’” (Crowd again laughs) “That’s what you’d think.” (Crowd raucously laughs, applauds, and otherwise shows approval)

I’m glad we can keep our beloved leader “amused”, but my point is stated in the title of my post. Whose money is it anyway? Is it mine? I earned it. My Government just took it. They didn’t have to earn one single penny of what they kept of my money. I’ll admit I got a huge refund this year, and it’s already been spent. But the reason the refund was so large was because I sent in the same amount this year as last, but my company’s 2009 sales were only about 70% what they were in 2008! I’d much rather have gotten back less and had larger sales!

So, despite the fact that 66% of Americans feel they are overtaxed, our President believes we should thank him. Thanks for what? $13 a week?, assuming you got it? What’ll that buy? A couple of Big Mac meals and a Cappuccino. Never mind that last year’s Tea Party theme was “Taxed Enough Already” hence the TEA in Tea Party. Never mind that this year’s theme as evidenced by the signs held by attendees was “Stop Spending Money”. Never mind that our President, and Congressional Democrats are turning a deaf ear to absolutely every dissenting view. Never mind that the most transparent Presidency in history just had a Nuclear Summit that the press wasn’t allowed to attend. Of course, most of the so-called “news” outlets aren’t going to care much anyway. They don’t mind that the only “news” coming from this summit was by way of White House press releases, but I digress. Our President believes, even expects, that we should thank him for allowing some of us to keep a tiny bit more of our money. He ought to thank us for paying for all his bailouts for all his political cronies, and the salaries for all his czars. Oh yeah, and for voting for him in the first place. Every day, I’m that much happier that I wasn’t one.

By the way, doesn’t this current government just prove the point that Democrats are all about Tax and Spend? Doesn’t the fact that they all fall into lock-step by the time of the vote, tell us that there really aren’t any conservative or moderate Democrats? Even if there are, doesn’t it say that they are more concerned about political expediency than either you, or the Constitution? They seem to all be party loyalists, who will only go against the party when its leaders allow them to; leaders who only seem interested in obtaining, retaining, and exercising power that rightly belongs to “the states or to the people, respectively.”

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