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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Punishing Young Workers

I have a company with about 35 employees. While we have a goodly number of older employees like me, we also have quite a few younger employees, some just out of college. Both single and married, these hard working, enterprising young people are in their early, full time employment years. Because they come with little or no experience, they start on the bottom rung of the economic ladder, just as their parents did. Regardless, they are energetically working their way up the ladder of success, as they define success. These young employees mirror millions of other young people in America of both sexes, all races, and with various God given skills and abilities. It’s an exciting time for these young people, especially because they have been blessed to be Americans. They know from their parents and from their grandparents that the United States is the land of opportunity where anyone can climb the ladder of success, regardless of their background, if they work hard, take risks, and their efforts are blessed by God. It is this freedom to go as far as you choose with your education, and then find a job that fits you. It’s what the founders might have called the pursuit of happiness.

As Americans we grow up thinking that this kind of freedom and opportunity exists for people all across the globe, but sadly that’s not true. It’s not just in countries where a dictator runs the show that opportunities like those that exist in the United States are denied. No, the soft socialist countries like those in the European Union—England, France, Germany, Italy, etc.—don’t give their citizens the opportunities to achieve and succeed like we do in America. The stories of men and women who achieved success from the most meager and even desperate circumstances in the US are too numerous to recount. It is a vital part of our American legacy.

Sadly today, the federal government, at the direction of President Barack Obama, is hell bent on a course that threatens to bring an end to the opportunity to be upwardly prosperous in our land. This war includes punitive taxes, stifling regulations, and the topic of this blog, needlessly expensive energy—electricity, gasoline, diesel, coal, fueloil, and nuclear power.

Expensive energy kills jobs and puts people out of work. It hurts everyone, but it hurts the poor and young workers the most. It hurts the poor because when you are poor and trying to work your way up the economic ladder, the percent of money you spend on gas for your car and fuel for your home is much higher than it is for those more prosperous. In fact, high energy costs are one of the largest impediments to upward economic mobility for the working poor.

For a young person who is relatively new to the marketplace, high energy costs cause great pain. Discretionary income and financial assets are generally at a minimum for the new worker in his first full time job. And when he or she gets married and then has children the problem only increases. If the couple needs housing, they are forced to live further from their place of employment to get a home that is adequate for their growing family. The price of the home costs more for a number of reasons, one of which is the cost of energy that brings the materials to build the house. Higher gas costs increase the amount that must be spent by the company and the workers to get to the construction site. But that’s only the beginning. Since young married couples have to live farther away to afford housing, their personal cost of transportation to their job increases when gasoline prices go up.

None of this seems to be on the radar screen of the Obama Administration. Or (and I hope this is not the case), they just don’t care about the poor or the young. President Obama stubbornly refuses to open up drilling that would dramatically reduce the cost of gasoline, the cost of fuel oil, and even the cost of natural gas. That latter item—natural gas—is a strange case. On the one hand, he takes credit for the development of natural gas coming from shale and, on the other hand, his Department of Environmental Protection (EPA) is suing to stop exploration and production of natural gas from shale.

The sad truth is that this President has no interest or desire to lower the price of energy. His intent and desire is to raise the cost of fuel. While he sneeringly mocks Republican Presidential candidates who want to lower the price of a gallon of gas from nearly $5.00 to $2.50 or less by allowing full and total exploration and production of our vast oil, coal, and gas reserves, he pursues an intentional program designed to drive Americans into smaller and smaller and more expensive cars. He seeks to move Americans from homes in the suburbs to anthills—small condominiums where people are concentrated together. His is a recipe for a less prosperous America that is no longer the land of opportunity, but instead a weak, European socialist state.

He is punishing young workers to satisfy his dream of a socialist America where a few chosen elite decide where you will live, how much prosperity you will be allowed, what kind of car you will drive, and even what kind of food you will eat. The poor will no longer have an opportunity of climbing the economic ladder. Instead the poor will become permanent wards of the state that can be countedupon to deliver their votes on election day. Obama and his socialist friends think of them and of you and I as the little people who need guidance and direction in order to live lives that they choose for us.

By intentionally driving up energy costs, he is interfering with the free choices of millions of individual Americans and substituting for their choices those of a few bureaucrats and politicians who know better than we do how to live our lives. The dream of the Founders is slowly dying as those who despise America and everything it stands for seek to create their utopia. But it will never be enough. They will continue to regulate, control, and stifle individual freedom and individual choices until the lamp of liberty has been snuffed out entirely. That is the way of tyrants. Socialists like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Chavez and their followers may seek utopia, but the end result is always the same—tyranny.

Whether the intentions are good or bad, it makes no difference. As has been said, if your house burns down, it doesn’t matter if it was caused by an arsonist or a fool with matches, the result is the same. If we continue down the path of Obama, the end result for our children and grandchildren will be tyranny, nothing less. It all comes down to the outcome of the 2012 election.

A Dollar

What is a dollar?  Yes, it is currency and something we call money, but what does it represent?  Where does it get its value?  Why do you want and need dollars?  Who gives a dollar value?
For centuries, nations used gold and other precious metals as currency.  The Bible mentions the gold acquired by Solomon and the kings of other nations.  But while gold has intrinsic value because it is used for jewelry that people want to wear, it was used for currency or for money because it was in very limited supply.
The dollar bill is made out of paper.  Its intrinsic value is nearly zero and in fact dollar bills wear out and each one is eventually incinerated as it is replaced by a newly printed dollar bill.  Up until the 20th century the value of a dollar was tied directly to gold or silver.  Each one represented a certain amount of gold or silver that was kept in places like Fort Knox, Kentucky.
But really, what does that dollar represent, especially today?  The answer is that it represents goods and services produced by individuals.  Those individuals may own companies that produce those goods and services or they may sell their services to companies that produce those goods and services or they may, on their own, create or produce some goods or service that others find to be of value.  In any case, dollars represent the value that free individuals place upon them.  As one man grows apples to sell, another man builds automobiles to sell.  Once a man sells enough apples, he trades the value of those apples to the fellow who sells automobiles and he now has a car.  The fellow who works for the automobile company uses the money he earns that represents those apples and all the value of all the other goods and services that people produce to buy his home and the other goods and services he wants and needs.  Dollars represent all the goods and services that are produced.  They are just a medium for making it easier for you and I to enter into transactions from which both parties benefit in a free society.  As we work hard and produce more goods and services than we need for our own use, we use the dollars that represent our goods and services to benefit ourselves and others.
Freedom is a marvelous thing. It energizes, elevates and encourages innovation and hard work.  The more goods and services we produce, the wealthier our nation becomes.  Everyone benefits, from those just entering the marketplace with their goods and services to those who have already amassed great wealth.  When the production of goods and services is discouraged or impaired every citizen of the nation suffers.  The economy is pulled down.  Jobs disappear.  Poverty expands.
There are two segments of society who receive dollarsthat do not produce any goods and services.  The independent sector and those in government receive a share of the wealth that others produce to meet their needs and desires.  By independent sector I am referring to those who work for nonprofit organizations, directly or indirectly, like me.  With few very minor exceptions, nonprofits do not produce any marketplace goods and services.  Most of these organizations—from churches to animal shelters—work to build up the spiritual and cultural character of society and they provide direct help to those in need.  In other words, they heal, encourage, support and build up the nation by helping others.  Free citizens willingly transfer the value of the goods and services they produce (in the form of dollars) to help others and improve the fabric of American society.  It’s amazing because no American citizen is coerced into helping others; they do it voluntarily just because they care.  In fact, more than $300 billion is generously given each year by Americans who have compassion for others.  This American legacy is truly unique in the world.  There is no other nation whose citizens give so freely to help others in need.
The other segment of society that does not (in any significant way) produce any goods and services is government at the local, state, and national level.  The federal government fulfills its Constitutional duty of providing for the common defense and of maintaining internal order.  It defends America by maintaining a strong military and it provides order through our justice system and other limited functions.  These are the two specifically enumerated functions of government.  Beginning in the 20th century, government began competing with individuals providing goods and services, substituting the decisions of bureaucrats and politicians for the choices and selections of free citizens.  While these encroachments on the freedom citizens may have been well intentioned, they were ill advised.  These intrusions have been destructive and costly measures that have sacrificed freedom, reduced self-reliance, and subjected large numbers of Americans to poverty and dependence on government for their survival. 
The reality is that government bureaucrats and politicians, from the White House to your local city council, take a slice of the goods and services that others produce when they collect their paychecks.  They are not producers, they are takers.  They don’t enlarge the cumulative wealth of society, they diminish it.  Every new bureaucrat that is hired reduces the wealth, the prosperity of society.  They are a drag on the economic well-being of our nation. 
Clearly some government is necessary.  We need to maintain internal order.  We must provide for a strong national defense.  These are the essential functions of government at the national level.  Your state government, your county and local government provide necessary functions such as law enforcement and operation of the court system.  In our federalist system, each local jurisdiction can choose to do what the people who live there decide, providing they do not violate the freedoms guaranteed to us in the Bill of Rights.  And if you do not like those decisions you can move to another city in another state.
But that dollar bill represents something more than goods and services.  It is a marker of your freedom.  In a free society it represents your power as an individual.  While some in government think all dollars (and thus all wealth) belong to government, that is an idea that is not only anti-freedom, its roots can be found in every dictatorship that ever menaced the globe.  Every dollar that is taken from you by government (at the point of a gun, the only way government operates) not only limits your choices by diminishing the dollars you have, it further empowers bureaucratic regulators who will make decisions about your life for you.  When that dollar that represents goods and services freely produced is transferred from you to government your freedom has been diminished.  Someone else is now deciding how to use the wealth represented by that dollar for their purposes, not yours.  The wealth of many is now no longer being transferred by free citizens from one to another, but is being expended at the whims and wishes of a few bureaucrats and politicians. 
Because dollars represent the value of goods and services and because each dollar forcefully transferred to government simply divides the economic pie into smaller portions, the amount of dollars transferred to this nonproductive section of society must be kept to an absolute minimum.  Taken to its extreme, socialism, the predictable and inevitable result is universal poverty and destitution.  Socialism continues to divide the fruits of the producers into smaller and smaller quantities as the non-producers in government take from the producers.  There is no other possibility when the number of producers is limited and the number of takers continues to grow.  That is the end results of socialism. 
Of course, government can take over the means of production, take over health care, and run the railroads, but all will be such inefficient entities and operations that they will only drag the economy down further and make those services worse.  From the French Revolution to German National Socialism to Soviet Socialism the story is always the same.  When healthy, free economies that innovate, create and bring prosperity to within the grasp of nearly every citizen, are replaced by socialism that destroys, represses, and enslaves their citizens the result is permanent economic depression.
It’s no accident that socialist systems do not innovate, create, or advance the human condition.  This is not speculation; it is a matter of historic record.  Socialist systems tear the heart and soul out of the citizens of a nation, reducing them to serfs who are subject to the corrupt whims of those in power.
Guard your freedom by guarding your dollars.  Spend and give them away freely, but resist the efforts by government to seize those dollars from you.  When you do, you are fighting to preserve the freedom and opportunity of future generations of Americans.  You are fighting for your children and grandchildren.
This is what the election of 2012 is really about.  Will our children and their children enjoy the freedom that you and I have enjoyed—not only to succeed, but also to fail—or will they be serfs of a Washington run socialistic state?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Harry Reid’s Parallel Universe

A Guest Blog by Peter Hannaford
(Reprinted with permission of The American Spectator Online

One year when George W. Bush was president, there was talk of his making recess appointments when Congress would be on holiday. Senate Leader Harry Reid countered by keeping the Senate technically in session by having one or two members show up each day. Bush, with the Constitution in mind, dropped the recess appointment idea.
Barack Obama, by contrast, went right ahead with a recess appointment last month, despite the fact the House Republicans stayed in session for the same reason -- to prevent such a move. This time, Harry Reid said it was right and proper for Obama to do what he did. Reid saw neither the irony nor the inconsistency in this, for he lives in a parallel universe.
The other day he returned to Washington with a warning to House Republicans to eschew Tea Party "extremism." The Tea Party movement was driven by a desire to stop the government's profligate spending and the rapidly growing national debt. In Harry's universe, this is "extremism."
In December, the Senate Democrats and Obama wanted a two-month extension of the payroll tax rate holiday and unemployment benefits. The House Republicans said it didn't make sense to come back after two months and re-argue the issue, so they proposed a 12-month extension. Reid wouldn't budge and ultimately the House blinked before the two items ran out on December 31.
About this Reid said, "I hope that the Republicans will understand, as they learned in the last week of last year, they can't be led over the cliff by this extremism."

Saying that Senate Democrats had "bent over backwards" to work with House Republicans, Reid declared that all he was asking for was a spirit of compromise. His version of compromise is, you give, I take.
Since January 2007, Harry Reid has been Senate Majority Leader. Speaking of bending over backwards, one thousand days have now passed since the Senate last passed a federal budget -- an all-time record, thanks to Harry Reid. By stalling over and over again, he and his Democrat colleagues have not had to make tough choices about cutting the government's bloated spending. Instead, the government operates on "continuing resolutions" that have kept existing spending in place, plus automatic annual increases. The result? Spending grows apace and the national debt is now over $16 trillion.
No wonder House members supported by Tea Party groups are upset. Harry Reid -- living off in space -- thinks uncontrolled spending is normal and fiscal responsibility amounts to "extremism."
Harry has brought some of his colleagues along into his parallel universe. Democratic National Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for example, recently said, "I have noticed the tone take a very precipitous turn toward edginess and a lack of civility with the growth of the Tea Party movement." (Translation: Anyone who disagrees with the Democrat playbook is uncivil.) Vice President Joe Biden, who takes frequent trips to the parallel universe, has likened Tea Party members to terrorists.
These are the same folks who have extolled the "Occupy" people as earnest exercisers of First Amendment rights. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was one who cooed over the Occupy movement. It is useful to compare its record in recent months to that of the Tea Party groups. For example, arrests: Occupy 4,149, Tea Party 0; rapes Occupy 12, Tea Party 0; anti-Semitic diatribes: Occupy 12, Tea Party 0; murder: Occupy 1, Tea Party 0; head and body lice infestations: Occupy 1, Tea Party 0; scabies outbreaks: Occupy 1, Tea Party 0; suicide: Occupy 1, Tea Party 0. Now if you live in the Harry Reid parallel universe, as so many Democrat office holders and operatives do, that is clear evidence that the Tea Party members are extremists.
Most people would say they are extremely well behaved, but the parallel universe people would like you to think they are a danger to the nation. _____________________________________________________________________________________
Peter Hannaford, a member of the Board of Directors of Eberle Communications Group, Inc., was an advisor and friend of Ronald Reagan.  A political strategist and public affairs professional, Mr. Hannaford has authored eleven books, including his most recent: Reagan’s Roots, The People and Places That Shaped His Character.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I can think of no other word that aptly describes what passes for the modern liberal philosophy of government.  I just shake my head when I hear some of the downright silly ideas and concepts that today’s liberals-progressives believe.
Here’s a short litany of the answers that liberal’s give to straightforward questions:
Q.      Since Ronald Reagan and his policies of low taxes and small government led to the highest employment numbers in the poorest neighborhoods of our society and crossed all ethnic and racial lines shouldn’t we be following those policies now?
A.      Ronald Reagan was the luckiest president of all time.  His policies were racist and actually hurt black Americans and others who are in poverty.  He was just fortunate to be president when the economy recovered.
Q.      Since unemployment rates in poor African American communities, especially among young black men have reached record levels under President Obama, shouldn’t we abandon those policies?
A.      Well, of course, it’s not President Obama’s fault that the unemployment numbers have skyrocketed in poor communities.  He inherited a tremendous economic disaster from George Bush.  Without his brilliant stimulus efforts, the situation would be much, much worse and we might even be in a depression.  President Obama brought us back from the brink.
Q.      With people all around the globe doing everything they can to get into the United States, isn’t it clear that this is the greatest nation in the history of the world?  What better testimony can there be than the fact that people are willing to leave their own country and flee to the US?
A.      The idea that the United States is somehow greater or better than any other nation is arrogant and simply false.  The United States has prospered for a number of reasons including climate, location and from just plain luck.  It’s certainly not an exceptional nation in any regard.  In fact, a relative few Americans have prospered from the labors and property of others.  First, the prosperity came from slavery, then Jim Crow, and ultimately world-wide from the exploitation of less fortunate people in other nations.  We need to get over the idea that the United States is some sort of special or exceptional nation.  The silliest idea of all is that America has been blessed by God.
Q.      What about the fact that Jim Crow and Slavery were imposed by government and in fact that Jim Crow laws were exclusively levied by Democrats with the full support of early progressives-liberals such as President Woodrow Wilson?  Doesn’t the blame for such racist policies fall squarely at the front door of liberalism?
A.      That question is outrageous and racist at its core.  I don’t care what quotes you have by Wilson that are racist, they must have been taken out of context or even be misquoted.  Liberals were at the forefront of fighting for the rights of African Americans while conservatives were pursuing their so-called racist Southern Strategy.
Q.      What about the fact that the Davis-Bacon act was created at the behest of a New York Democrat on behalf of his union constituents with the sole purpose of keeping African Americans from working on government construction jobs?  Or that the star intellectual, Senator William Fulbright, who is still revered by today’s liberals was an outspoken racist?  Don’t those facts give you pause at all?
A.      I know there are racist quotes in the Congressional Record by a New York Democratic Congressman and that Fulbright was misguided in the 1960’s, but Senator Fulbright was brilliant on foreign policy and I’m sure he later changed his views.  As for the Davis-Bacon act, I just do not believe the primary motivation was to keep Black Americans from working on government construction jobs?
Q.      Don’t you believe that the United States is special in that our freedom and our free market system offers every American an opportunity to succeed or fail based on their hard work, God-given talents?  Look at all the people who have risen and continually rise from poverty to become very successful Americans?  How can you deny that reality?
A.      Sure a few people overcome the systemic racism inherent in what is falsely described as a free society, but the deck is stacked against the poor and minorities.  You conservatives always point to exceptions, but the reality is that you are racists and all your policies reflect your racism.  And frankly, most African Americans and other minorities who make it successfully out of poverty do so by being Uncle Toms, especially those who go into business and sell their soul.
Q.      You believe in man-caused global warming or now climate change, and you insist that it is settled science, even though more than 30,000 scientists and engineers have signed a statement saying they do not agree.  In fact, some of the world’s leading climatologists do not agree with the idea that climate change is caused by man.  More recently, so-called “Climategate” revealed that one of the leading institutions supporting the claim that man caused climate change had forged data and lost other data.  Why won’t you agree to a free and open debate among scientists of all beliefs on this critical topic?  Since the current “theories” do not stand up to the scientific method, don’t you think an open scientific debate is called for?
A.      You are a Neanderthal!  Only someone as anti-science as you would deny the obvious destruction of the environment caused by your precious anachronism called Free Enterprise.  Sure there were some very minor errors, but the overwhelming evidence makes it clear that man caused climate change is indeed settled science.  Now shut up!
Q.      I don’t understand how you can believe in socialism?  Where has it ever worked in the world?  It didn’t work in NAZI—National Socialist Germany, it didn’t work in the Soviet Union, and socialism has kept European economies, even before the current economic mess, far behind the economy of the United States.  What makes you think that just a few people can make decisions about what Americans should drive, should eat, where they should live, what kind of light bulbs they should buy and how much health care they will receive?  Why isn’t it better for free people to choose how to live their lives and make the millions and millions of decisions about what works for them?  Why aren’t they entitled to buy what they want, sell what they want, and live according to their own values?
A.      Now you are really making me mad, you racist, war monger.  And, you jerk, the NAZIs were on the right side of the political spectrum with you, not with the Communists who fought them in World War II.  Sure, I know they called themselves socialists and they got along well with the soviet socialists before the war, and they took over all the businesses and means of production, but that right winger, Hitler, was a typical dictator.  The Soviet experiment just went wrong.  It was a wonderful idea, but the people at the top were corrupt and not really dedicated to socialism.  They aren’t enlightened like today’s liberals who are, if I may say so, the most tolerant, most non-judgmental, most kind, most compassionate, and most generous members of our society.  How dare you compare today’s liberals to that monster Stalin? He ruined everything, and yes he fooled a lot of liberals, but that’s just because of a liberal’s kind nature.  And, be honest, free enterprise only works for a privileged few.  It doesn’t work for everyone.  Besides, our entire environment is at stake.  We are facing the greatest environmental crisis in history.  Freedom is just a label you hide behind.  In times of crisis people have to surrender a little bit of their freedom so that we can survive.  The truth is that freedom just doesn’t work.  We need more regulations and regulators to protect the people. 
Q.      Don’t you realize that the wealth of a nation is measured in terms of the consumer goods and services it produces?  Money just represents those goods and services.  Every person employed by government at the local, state, and national level becomes a burden on those who produce goods and services.  Every dollar they receive represents goods and services produced by someone else.  I’ll say it again, how can you possibly believe in socialism which is just a top down, dysfunctional system to ration what others produce?
A.      You are trying my patience.  There is no free market.  It’s all rigged by the rich.  The rich, the 1% control everything and we have to destroy that control.  All goods and services belong to the government and all money belongs to the government.  It’s not fair or just to letsome over consume while others have less.  The only fair and just economic system is socialism which distributes wealth evenly in society.  You are not entitled to more than anyone else has.  The idea that risk should be rewarded is silly.  You don’t “earn” your money.  You were just one of those who won the lottery of life and only the imposition of socialism can level the playing field.  There is no freedom in free enterprise.  It is a myth.
Q.      Why are liberals so angry and mad?  Why are they so envious and jealous of others?  Isn’t that the true motivation of growing government and making sure everyone lives equally in misery?
A.      Angry!  I’m not angry, but I have a right to be.  You conservatives have taken advantage of others for decades, even centuries.  The Founders didn’t create a special society or a special country; they created a country where they could prosper and the hell with everyone else.  And, I’m certainly not jealous or envious, I’m just a fair-minded person with a passion for the poor and the oppressed.  And I detest greedy businessmen who get rich off of the misery of others.  I am proud to be a liberal who has achieved a higher state of awareness.  You should be ashamed to be known as a stingy conservative.
Q.      Really?  How do you explain the fact that 65% of all donors to charity in the United States are Christian conservatives and that only 35% of liberals only contribute to charity?  What’s so compassionate about that?
A.      You conservatives always oppose the government helping the poor and the needy.  You are stingy and we liberals are the truly compassionate.  The idea of a compassionate conservative is truly ludicrous.  It simply cannot be true.
Q.      So you are saying that compassion is about voting to spend some else’s money to help the poor, but not spending your own money to help the poor?
A.      The rich have plenty of money, but they are greedy and that’s why we have to tax them to help others.  They won’t do it themselves.  And besides, you forget that you didn’t really earn the money you are giving away and you are probably making bad decisions where to give the money.  Government can do a much better job of helping the poor and needy.
Q.      You mean like the Great Society did?  Government has broken up the families of the poor, made an entire class of Americans dependent on handouts and you think that is good?
A.      You idiot!  We just have not been able to spend enough or give away enough money because of people like you.  If you had not held us back there would not be people living in poverty.
Q.      Why do you oppose school choice programs that are proven to lift the poor out of poverty?  Many African American leaders are fully supportive of these programs, yet the Democratic Party opposes them?  What gives?  I thought you cared about the poor and oppressed.
A.      I do care and you don’t.  Don’t act like you care, because a racist like you can never care.  You have simply duped some black leaders into believing that school choice programs work.  They don’t.  I know that because they are opposed by the National Education Association, a group that has done more for America than almost any other institution.  This liberal union is working every day to correct the bad ideas and concepts that have been historically believed in this nation.  Their efforts are crucial to changing America into a truly free, truly just socialist state.  Sure, some of the poor fall through cracks, but it’s better than being brainwashed in a school choice school.
I could go on and on about the silly, anti-intellectual, factually incorrect ideas that liberals have about society, freedom, economics, and you and I, but I won’t.  I assure you that what I have related is very close to what I have been told by liberal friends of mine—I have several—on the topics I covered.  It’s no wonder their philosophy of life and of government is failing to win popular support.  It’s no wonder they resort to attacking people and calling them racists.  Their policies simply do not stand up to close scrutiny.  After all, it’s just luck.