Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Two Party vs. Muli-Party System

Here's an excellent critique of the two-party system by Jon Schaff of Northern State University, as seen in the Aberdeen American News.

A multiple party system sounds great, but if you get your lone representative elected to Congress that really represents you and your minor party, that representative is going to have to form coalitions with others in Congress to get anything approved via a majority vote. Who do you want forming coalitions: us as people with our two-party system, or would you prefer it be left up to politicians, special interests, and backroom deals in Washington D.C.?

(Click to enlarge the images to a readable size)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Big Fat Government Takeover

From William McGurn of the Wall Street Journal:

My Big Fat Government Takeover
Rule by the Best and the Brightest

Some mistakes are so big that only smart people are tempted to make them. One is the faith in Big Government.

We'll see that in full force today, when Barack Obama gives another major address on the economy. On the generalities, there won't be much real disagreement. But at a time when many claim to see no difference between the two political parties, President Obama and his Democratic allies are making one distinction paramount: their operating assumption that bigger government is better government.

Associated Press

Many of the people in the Obama administration, the president included, enjoy all the credentials we associate with the best and the brightest: the right schools, the good grades, the successful careers. Alas, whether it be allocating health care or defining the kind of jobs the economy ought to create, the policies they favor suggest a strong belief that they know what's best not just for themselves, but for everyone else too.

Of course, the kind of people who are apt to push for government-imposed solutions are those who are also apt to believe they will be the ones imposing decisions, not the ones who have to live with decisions imposed by others. Sometimes that's because they enjoy the wealth that gives them escape hatches unavailable to the less affluent, such as their ability to ensure that their own children never have to set foot in a public school. Mostly, however, their trust in government reflects their confidence that they have all the answers and that it's government's job to enforce them.

What about conservatives? Don't we have confidence in our judgment and abilities? Of course we do. The difference is that we trust free citizens to make decisions about themselves—and are skeptical about government. As someone who worked inside a White House, I say you really believe government should be small when you see your friends running it.

Now, I know there are people who believe that George W. Bush was a Big Government Republican. And you can make arguments about spending and so forth. Even so, however, there's simply no comparison with the Obama administration.

That's because conservatives believe that even our smartest friend is no match for the collective wisdom of the marketplace. If we were to wake up and find that someone we knew well had been given control over some important part of the economy, the conservative would not likely think, "Everything will be fine now that Harry's in charge." Far more likely we'd be saying to ourselves, "If it weren't for his wife, Harry would be wearing red and purple socks every day—and we're giving him that kind of power?"

Mr. Obama and his team appear to be unburdened by such modesty.

Detroit is in decline because its automotive giants no longer build the kind of cars Americans want to buy? Let's have the president sack the CEO of General Motors, and then use the bailout money as leverage to appoint a car czar and get GM and Chrysler to build the kind of cars that Washington wants.

Wall Street execs are getting sweet bonuses at a time when millions of other Americans are unemployed? Well, instead of encouraging these financial concerns to pay back the Troubled Asset Relief Program monies and get the taxpayers off the hook, send in Ken Feinberg to set their salaries.

Health-care spending is inefficient? The answer is obvious: Expand the Department of Health and Human Services and give its secretary more power. Under the bill now before the Senate, for example, Kathleen Sebelius would have the authority to decide what care insurance companies could offer, who could get an abortion under a government-run plan, what prices were fair, and so on.

Of course we shouldn't draw any conclusions from an advisory task force that recently created a stir when it suggested women get fewer mammograms—and Ms. Sebelius's disavowal in the face of public heat. She pointed out that the task force does not set government policy. But at some point some government task force will—and there will be fewer ways around it.

That's government by the smart. The good news is that it doesn't seem to be selling. According to a recent poll, 57% of Americans believe government is doing things that should be left to business and individuals. Not only do most Americans object, Gallup says the opposition is the "highest such reading in more than a decade."

Today Mr. Obama is going to give us more details about the wonderful things all those smart people in Washington are going to do to help us on the economy. Maybe he would do well to take another look at all those bright lights around him. For the more he proposes government will do, the more skeptical Americans seem to be.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Money and Politics

Some people worry a lot about money in politics. I don't worry about it too much, because I personally feel that money represents collective interests, and people have a right to spend as much as they would like campaigning for their cause that they feel is correct. What money in politics CAN tell you is why politicians of certain affiliations act the way they do or refuse to confront some issues, and you can call them on it. Courtesty of, here are the top 23 contributors to the Democrat Party (2008 election cycle):

Likewise, here are the top contributors to the Republican Party, notice that some may be the top contributors to the GOP, yet may give even more to the Dems. This data is for the 2008 election cycle as well:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Constitutionality of Health Care Mandates

From Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) as published on

There are many very serious reasons to oppose the government takeover of America’s health care system. But before debating whether Congress should take this step, we must first determine whether Congress may do so. In "Health Care Reform is Constitutional" on Oct. 23, professor Erwin Chemerinsky wrote in POLITICO that “there is no doubt that bills passed by House and Senate committees are constitutional.” That conclusion is easier to reach, as Chemerinsky did, by ignoring the most obvious constitutional problem with requiring individuals to buy health insurance.

The only conceivable power Congress may use for this individual mandate is its power to regulate interstate commerce. Chemerinsky correctly observed that the Supreme Court “has held that this includes authority to regulate activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.” The most important word in that description of Supreme Court precedent is one he used but never discussed: “activities.” Every Supreme Court case interpreting and applying the commerce clause, over nearly two centuries, has involved Congress’s attempting to regulate what people choose to do. None of those cases involved what Congress is about to do on health care: require that people engage in an activity by purchasing a good or service whether they want to or not.

The difference between regulating what you do and requiring you to do it is a difference in kind, not degree. When Congress attempted to require that individuals purchase health insurance in 1994, the Congressional Budget Office concluded it would be an “unprecedented form of federal action.” It still is. Just a few months ago, the Congressional Research Service similarly said “it is a novel issue whether Congress may use [the commerce] clause to require an individual to purchase a good or service.” Each of these agencies had the very real doubt that Chemerinsky claims simply does not exist.

One thing did change in the legal landscape between 1994 and 2009: The Supreme Court twice found that Congress had exceeded its authority under the commerce clause. There was, it seems, something Congress may not do. But even these cases involved activities in which people had chosen to engage. In United States v. Lopez, the court rejected a version of the commerce power that would make it hard “to posit any activity by an individual that Congress is without power to regulate.” This would be the case if Congress could order people to purchase particular goods or services.

If there is no difference between regulating and requiring and between incentives and mandates, why did Congress bother creating the Cash for Clunkers program? If buying fuel-efficient cars is so important for the economy, Congress could just require people to buy them. Why does Congress need complicated bailouts when it could simply order people to deposit their paychecks in certain banks, invest in certain companies or purchase certain products? In this brave new world, Congress can tackle obesity by mandating that people buy fruits and vegetables. Perhaps this might also lead to a new chapter in regulating campaigns, with Congress requiring contributions to certain candidates to “level the playing field.”

Liberty requires limits on government. That is why we have a Constitution and why it delegates enumerated powers to the federal government. Those limits mean nothing and cannot protect liberty if the Constitution means whatever Congress wants it to mean. Requiring that individuals use their own hard-earned money to purchase whatever the federal government wants them to purchase would boldly go where the government has never gone before — and would undermine the liberty of all Americans.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cash for Clunkers

Many of you know I'm a big Vikings fan, so I was very entertained by this cartoon I found in the paper this week:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


As many of you may know, the only thing I find more entertaining than Saturday morning cartoons are political cartoons. Here are a couple I found while reading the South Dakota papers today:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

This Guy's Got It Figured Out

From the Wall Street Journal:

Fiscal Conservatism and the Soul of the GOP

The Texas governor on Arnold, Sarah, ObamaCare and the future of his party.

California needs a strong leader, says Texas governor Rick Perry. That strong leader, Mr. Perry thinks, needs to go to Sacramento and "take special interests out" of government. He needs to "make massive cuts" in spending and taxes. And he needs "to make major changes in the constitution," including tort reform.

What about Arnold Schwarzenegger? "Arnold—I think Arnold squandered that chance."

Six years ago, Mr. Perry's state underwent a critical tort reform that was codified in the state constitution. The payoff is that Texas is now outpacing California economically. According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, between 1997 and 2006 Texas' economy grew an average of 4.3% while California's grew at a rate of 3.7%. But as of 2002 (to 2007), with tort reform in place, Texas' annual economic growth jumped to 5%, while California's remained essentially the same at 3.6%.

With a tan baseball cap hanging off one knee, Mr. Perry is proud to report that "Texas created more jobs in 2008 than the rest of the states—combined." As of July, the state, which taxes neither capital gains nor income, had an unemployment rate of 7.5%, two points below the national average, while California's hovered at 11.5%, two points above.

No wonder over half a million people flooded into Texas between 2000 and 2007. Meanwhile, 1.2 million residents left California in the same seven-year period.

The bottom line? Tax-and-spend governance is as bankrupt as California's bank account. By way of illustration, the governor replays a conversation he had with Rudy Giuliani during the presidential primaries.

They were talking about Michigan. "The Michigan governor was making statements about having to raise taxes so [they could keep] services at the level they were, instead of, like we did in Texas, cutting, not raising, taxes and cutting spending. There was a great difference in political philosophy. In Michigan, a liberal democrat raised taxes and kept their government programs at the same level. And guess what? Their economy continued into the toilet, it continued down.

"Our economy on the other hand [improved]—let me give you a great example: We had a $10 billion budget deficit when we got here in January of 2003. We cut that budget deficit; we did not raise taxes; we came back in '05, and we had an $8 billion surplus. That's how fast it can happen.

"That's the reason I have hope, not only for the country, but for states like California that are in dire financial predicaments. You can turn it around in a hurry, but you have to make hard, principled decisions."

Mr. Perry insists that Texas' success "is a broader story than just tort reform." As governor, Mr. Perry has honed in on four policy issues he believes are drawing people and businesses to the state in record numbers. Businesses like Medtronic and Caterpillar, to name two, are "coming here [because] we haven't spent all the money, the taxes are low, the regulatory climate is fair—they won't be frivolously sued—and they know when they get here that they'll find a skilled work force."

But do Mr. Perry's pro-business, low-tax policies mean that Texas' investments in education and other crucial areas are lagging behind? Just the opposite: While California slashed education funding this year, Mr. Perry notes that a Texas "grant program for kids to go college and university . . . expanded by 44%" this last session. In that same session, the Lone Star State cut taxes for small businesses.

And when it comes to the Obama administration, Mr. Perry doesn't mince words: "To me, this is one of the great Frankenstein experimentations in American history. We've seen that movie before. It was from 1932 to 1940."


Sitting in his white tee and running shoes, the governor begins guiding me along the path that led him from the small Texas town of Paint Creek, where he grew up, to Austin, the state's capital. "I grew up in a house with no running water, 16 miles from the closest place that had a post office," he recalls. "I had a very parochial view of the world."

He became an Air Force pilot and went off to countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Italy, returning to Paint Creek in 1977—only to grow restless on the family farm. He sought a political outlet.

In 1985, Mr. Perry represented a rural West Texas district in the state legislature; in 1990, he was elected state commissioner of agriculture; in 1998, he was elected lieutenant governor under then-Gov. George W. Bush. He became governor when Mr. Bush won the presidency in 2000, and Mr. Perry was chosen by the voters themselves in 2002 and 2006.

Mr. Perry now has the distinction of being the longest-serving governor in Texas history. The state's senior U.S. senator, Kay Bailey Hutchison, announced this month that she will challenge Mr. Perry's unprecedented bid for a third term. She's running on a platform that attempts to appeal to women and moderate conservatives, and she criticizes the governor's rejection of $555 million in federal stimulus funds—even though she opposed the stimulus herself.

The 2010 gubernatorial primary will be a slugfest between the two biggest names in Texas politics. But Mr. Perry claims he isn't paying too much attention. "She's in Washington, I'm in Texas" he says, shrugging his shoulders. "I'm busy running a state . . . I'm a results guy and that's process . . . It's important to run the state. Politics will take care of themselves."

Naturally, the governor is concerned about what is happening in Washington. When I ask him if Mr. Obama's policies would send this country down the same path as California, Mr. Perry lunges forward, "If you want to know what this guy's policies are doing, it's been written about before."

"Read that book. Read this book," he says, gesturing toward the nearby table. I see something from Weight Watchers and a Harry Potter paperback—but the governor is referring to the "The Road to Serfdom" by Frederick Hayek and "The 5000 Year Leap" by W. Cleon Skousen. "Read Amity Shlaes's 'The Forgotten Man.' Amity's book is very eye-opening—scary—for me."

To the governor, one of the scariest policies is the national health-care bill. "I think it'll die. I think Americans are catching on. That's the reason that Rahm Emanuel and his guys were trying to push it through so fast, because they know [that once] Americans see what this is going to do—limiting their access to health care, costing them more—they're going to oppose it. And interestingly, you know who's against this more than anybody? The elderly. They figured this bill out.

"They like what they got right now, they like their access to health care. Particularly, the aspect of this [bill] that has to do with end-of-life decisions . . . are pretty cold-hearted in my opinion. You're a little too old to be spending money on, so we're just going to put you over here in the 'gonna die' category. 'Bye.' That's pretty gruesome and scary to people that are my mom and dad's age."

Another important reason Mr. Perry believes the bill is flawed is because it ignores tort reform. "To talk about health-care reform and not talk about tort reform is like whistling past the cemetery. . . . In this administration's case, it's because they're bought and sold by the trail lawyers." The governor puts his cap back on, adding, "I'll be the pope before we get tort reform with this administration."

As opposed to a federal and "vanilla . . . one size fits all" government, the governor's "goal is to have states compete against each other. I don't want to look like Connecticut, no offense, I don't want to look like Oklahoma, I don't want to look like California. I want to be uniquely Texas. And that's not to diss anybody else."

Though the GOP has been hurting in recent years, the governor says it can make its "path to recovery substantially faster" if its members embrace something like the Texas model and vow to be "clear, committed fiscal conservatives."

Reflecting on his party's recent history he recalls, "They spent too much money. They acted like Democrats. They got up in 1994 and said elect us, here's our contract with America and here are the things that we're going to do. And Americans said, by gosh, that sounds good, we're for you, let's go. And you know what, they went and did it for a while. And then, we took over everything, the presidency, Congress, senate—shoot, man—they lost their way. . . . And they started being more focused on maintaining power. They had ethical lapses. They had moral lapses, but the big issue was they started spending like Democrats. When they passed that pharmaceutical bill for everybody forever—I mean, one of the most expensive entitlement programs that this country's ever seen before—we started on the road to hell."

He adds, "I love George Bush, [but] the previous administration's bailout, I happen to think, was as bad as any program on [Obama's] stimulus side."

Mr. Perry does not see social issues as the raison d'etre of the Republican Party. "You may elect me if I am pro-life. You may elect me if I'm pro-family values. But you probably will not elect me if I'm not a proven fiscal conservative."

Recently, Republican Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio complained that the GOP is "being taken over by Southerners." Mr. Perry responds with a laugh. "He's a piece of work, isn't he? 'You Southerners!'" he points his finger in imitation. The political divide, the governor insists, is between "mushy, middle of the road" Republicans and clear, devoted fiscal and social conservatives, like himself and Sarah Palin.

On that last point, he states emphatically, "I love Sarah Palin, I love her positions, I think she was a good governor. . . . I want her to be engaged in this rebuilding of the Republican Party. . . . She is substantially more the face of this country than some other people who might want to be the face of the Republican Party. To me she's the face of America. I mean she's a hard worker, she didn't come from money, she didn't come from privilege, she just worked hard. . . . I have not seen another person who invigorated the Republican base [like she did] with the possible exception of Ronald Reagan in 1976—the speech he made at the Republican Convention. People were looking around and saying, 'we nominated the wrong dude.'"

One speed bump along the GOP's path to recovery could be demographics. In 2004, Texas became a minority majority state, a trend that's predicted to go national within a generation. In 2020, the Hispanic population of Texas may outnumber the White population.

While Texas has been GOP-controlled since 1994, some say Texas may soon change from red to purple to blue because of the demographic shift.

The governor disagrees, and believes even the hot button issues of illegal immigration and amnesty have been mishandled by national leaders. "The McCain folks totally blew it in my opinion on their immigration deal the moment they mentioned the word amnesty. When the word amnesty came in—American Hispanics don't want anybody getting amnesty. 'If you want to be an American citizen, get it the way I got it,' that's how they think. The Hispanic voter is a very intuitive and a very expansive individual, one issue doesn't drive him. . . . They are strong family values people, they are religious, they are patriots, they are hard working. Gee, sounds like the GOP to me."

Mr. Perry thinks education will help the GOP face the demographic trend. An educated work force, says the governor, will embrace the Texas model and will say so at the ballot box.

And his state's ballot box is the only one he's worrying about. Mr. Perry insists he does not plan to take the Texas model to the nation's capital one day. "Unless my family is at gunpoint, I will not go to Washington, D.C."

Leading me out the door, the governor explains, "Washington is not the place that great change is going to occur in America. It will occur in the laboratory of innovation called the states. I want to be a part of that."

Ms. Smith is a Robert L. Bartley Fellow at the Journal this summer.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Free Market: The Greatest Amount of Good for the Most People

From Harvard economics professor Greg Mankiw:

"Yesterday, I chartered a sailboat so my family and I could spend a couple of hours out on the waters off Nantucket. The captain of the boat met us at the town pier, loaded us onto a small skiff, and then took us to a mooring out in the harbor, where the boat was waiting.

He explained to us that he would prefer to keep his sailboat at the pier, which would make loading and unloading passengers much easier, but he could not get a space there. Every year, he told us, the town has a lottery to allocate the right to rent one of the scare docking slots. For quite a few years, the captain has been putting his name into the lottery, but he has never won. "There are just not enough spaces," he said.

Ever the economist, I replied, "It seems to me that the price isn't high enough."

"Well, actually," the captain said, "if you want to pay more, you can go down there." He pointed to the next dock over.

Apparently, next to the town pier is another pier that is privately owned and operated. The price for a docking space there is about five times as high as it is at the town pier. But there is never any significant shortage. Anyone can sign up for a slot, as long as you are willing and able to pay.

What a wonderful illustration of basic economic principles! In one way or another, scarce resources need to be allocated among competing uses. Free markets typically use the price system. Governments, often in the name of "fairness," seem to prefer other mechanisms, which don't always direct resources to their highest value use.

The sailboat ride was a bit of a bust, by the way. The day was warm and sunny, and the captain was a delightful storyteller, but the wind was not nearly sufficient for a good sail. Sadly, there are some shortages even the price system is not able to correct.

Question for Ec 10 students: If the town raised the rental price of a docking slot at the town pier, what would happen to the price at the private pier?"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Shut Up and Trust the Government?

Trust the Government
"How much is one additional year of your life worth?

Or one more year of life for your father or your wife? For your child?

In Great Britain, the government has settled on a number: $45,000.

That’s how much a government commission with the Orwellian acronym NICE has decided British government-run health care will pay for one additional year of life for a British subject.

Think it could never happen here? Then you need to pay closer attention to what Washington is planning for your health care.

British Government Bureaucrats Literally Decide if Your Life is Worth Living

The British single-payer bureaucrats arrived at the price of an additional year of life in the same way they decide how much health care all British people will get, through a formula called “quality-adjusted life years.”

That means that if you’re sick in Great Britain, government bureaucrats literally decide if your life is worth living and, if so, how much longer and at what cost.

If it’s more than $45,000, you’re out of luck.

A Well-Connected White House Advocate for Allocating Health Care Based on Perceived Societal Worth

In the highest levels of the Obama Administration there is a theory of how to ration health care that is troublingly reminiscent of the British system of “quality-adjusted life years.”

Dr. Ezekial Emanuel is a key health care advisor to President Obama and the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Earlier this year, Dr. Emanuel wrote an article that advocated what he called “the complete lives system” as a method for rationing health care. You can read it here.

The system advocated by Dr. Emanuel would allocate health care based on the government’s perception of the societal worth of the patients. Accordingly, the very young and the very old would receive less care since the former have received less societal investment and the latter have less left to contribute.

“Forstall[ing] the Concern that Disproportionate Amounts of Resources Will be Directed to Young People with Poor Prognosis”

“The Complete Lives System” would also consider the prognosis of the individual.

Quoting Dr. Emanuel: “A young person with a poor prognosis has had few life-years but lacks the potential to live a complete life. Considering prognosis forestalls the concern that disproportionately large amounts of resources will be directed to young people with poor prognosis.”

When fully implemented, Dr. Emanuel’s system, in his words, “produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most substantial chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated.”

“Chances that are attenuated” is a nice way of saying the young and the old are considered less worthy of health care and, under this system, will get less.

Once Government Becomes the Provider of Health Care, Personal Decisions Become Public Decisions

The point is not that a health care rationing system like the one favored by Dr. Emmanuel will be implemented in the United States tomorrow.

The point is that, as in the British system, once government becomes the single payer or even the main payer of health care, what were once intensely personal decisions become public decisions. And as costs rise, government will look for ways to contain them.

The inevitable result of this pressure to control costs will be rationing, whether it occurs during this administration or the next. At some point, the government will be forced to deny care to those who don’t meet the latest “quality-adjusted life years” cost-benefit analysis.

So the decision on what treatment to pursue that once would have been made by you and your doctor is now made for you by a bureaucrat using a formula -- a formula to literally determine if your life is worth saving.

The Camel’s Nose Under the Tent of Health Care Rationing

Societies don’t arrive at this point overnight.

British health care was nationalized soon after World War II, but NICE, the health care rationing agency, wasn’t created until the late 1990s as a way to control costs.

Today NICE routinely denies Britons life-prolonging drugs that are deemed not “cost effective” -- drugs that are widely prescribed in America to treat cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and other serious conditions.

The result, studies show, is that Great Britain’s cancer survival rates are among the worst in Europe and lag behind the United States.

In America, Rationing Begins with Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER)

In our country, the road to dehumanizing, bureaucratic health care rationing begins with something called comparative effectiveness research (CER). It sounds completely innocent. In practice, CER means comparing different treatments for diseases to see which works best. And what doctor or patient would object to that, right?

The problem is that, in the context of a government-run health care system, comparative effectiveness research becomes a way to find a cheaper, one-size-fits-all approach to medicine that will limit health care choices for patients.

But don’t just take my word for it. Congressional Democrats included $1.1 billion in the Stimulus Bill for CER. Report language explaining the bill noted that the treatments found to be “more expensive” as result of the research “will no longer be prescribed” and that “guidelines” should be developed to manage doctors.

Congressional Democrats also killed several amendments to the current health care bill that would have prevented CER from being used to ration care. (To learn more about the common-sense amendments to the bill that have been blocked, click here).

The Government Has Determined You Must Take the Blue Pill

President Obama innocuously described the intended result of comparative effectiveness research like this: “If there’s a blue pill and a red pill, and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half price for the thing that’s going to make you well?”

Listen to what the President is saying here. He’s saying that the government is capable of determining which pill works best for you and should therefore only pay for that pill.

But this one-size-fits-all approach goes against everything modern medicine is learning about the genetics of the human body. Different individuals and members of different ethnic and age groups respond differently to treatments. More and more, treatment of diseases like cancer is highly individualized and based on a genetic analysis of both the patient and her disease. Science is leading us in one direction and the administration and the Congress are taking us in the other.

What if you get sick and your doctor says you need the red pill, but the government has determined that the blue pill is what works best for its budget? In a single payer health world, what do you do then?

Creating a Commission to do the Dirty Work

Government bureaucrats limiting health care choices is terribly unpopular of course, which is why politicians use terms like “comparative effectiveness research” instead of “rationing.”

Another method Washington uses to avoid complicity in health care rationing is the creation of government boards or commissions -- like Britain’s NICE -- to do the job for them.

President Obama has expressed his support for using the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), a commission created to advise Congress on Medicare, to achieve cost savings under health care reform.

Because the commission’s decisions could only be over-ridden by a joint resolution of Congress, it would be virtually unaccountable to the people -- and nervous members of Congress could blame the commission for unpopular decisions.

Combine this kind of a commission with the “complete lives system” advocated by White House health care advisor Dr. Ezekial Emanuel and you end up with a government rationing board literally determining which Americans should live and which should die.

Just Trust the Government

Supporters of government-run health care dismiss these worries as alarmist. They argue that because their big government health care bill doesn’t overtly call for rationing, it is somehow illegitimate to talk about this danger.

But it is always legitimate to consider the long-term consequences of a government program. By refusing to have an honest debate of this issue -- to explore honestly the consequences of the “painful choices” that all supporters of government health care say must be made -- their argument boils down to nothing more than this:

Trust the government.

Trust the politicians who are passing 1000-page bills they haven’t read.

Trust the leaders who are demonizing the citizens seeking to express their disagreement by calling them “un-American.”

Trust the advisors who advocate sacrificing the weak and the old and then hide in the shadows.

Trust the government to know what’s best for the most intimate, most personal part of you and your family’s life: your health.

Go ask a British citizen if it’s worth it.

To just shut up and trust the government."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Pliers and Vodka" Healthcare

And the Left worries about coat hanger abortions...well with this kind of health care we'll have coat hanger gall stone removal, because the care simply won't be available in a timely manner...

Click here...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Give and Take

“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that, my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

--Dr. Adrian Rogers

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Revolution is Brewing...

People are starting to get mad...real mad about the things Obama is trying to do. Take this video where Kathleen Sebelius and Arlen Specter are trying to sell Obamacare at a townhall meeting:

Or this video where Congressman Lloyd Doggett is chanted away from his speaking engagement on health care:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

USD and Change Blindness

South Dakota got mentioned on the Glenn Beck program. For Facebook people, click here to see the video.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Princess Barbara Boxer, Part 2

Barbara Boxer tries to make climate change a racial topic, discussing climate change with a representative from the Black Chamber of Commerce. She cites a resolution from the NAACP to show the "diversity" of support for climate change legislation. Why is the NAACP being quoted as an important source for climate change? I hear PETA endorse a lot of things, but that doesn't mean they're a legitimate, knowledgeable, or expert organization to speak out on a topic. Apparently she felt quoting black organizations was something this guy, as a black man, would like to hear. He begged to differ...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Princess Barbara Boxer, Part 1

Don't worry, after watching this video, Part 2 will be awesome comeuppance to Ms. Boxer! I can't believe she can disrespect a general like this...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

SDSU and the 8th Amendment

Today I was reading through the United States constitution, and I was reminded of the 8th Amendment:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
South Dakota State University students are probably the ones who should most concern themselves with this. As a Student's Association Senator, I served on the appeals committee for parking and traffic, and have received a few parking tickets on campus myself, and I have to say...SDSU has parking fines that are quite excessive, and the fines are going up even higher. In addition, students are being ticketed in ridiculous numbers for really lame offenses...such as parking on a snow-covered parking lot and come back to find they were not in a designated parking spot after the snow melted during the day...and now they owe SDSU $50 for their "evil" deeds.

As of now, only the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause has not yet been found applicable to the states through the process of selective incorporation through the 14th Amendment, so it would take a new Supreme Court ruling to have a case under federal law.

The Supreme Court has clarified the term "excessive" to mean penalties which are "grossly disproportionate" to the crime committed.

To me, a $50 (again, about to go up) ticket simply for parking in a space deemed no parking by the university seems quite steep (gross even), especially considering the equivalent fine within the City of Brookings (a different jurisdiction than the university) is a mere $15.

I have been told that one of the purposes of the large fines is to fund things such as snow removal, etc. on campus. Props on the great accounting practices...funding ongoing needs with variable sources of income that may or may not be there.

I don't know what the South Dakota law is exactly, but SDSU better make sure it doesn't make the same mistake Fargo, ND did by administering fines in excess of what state law allowed, simply to line city pockets with more money.

Seriously, $50 dollars as the minimum fine on campus? When I received a speeding ticket for 10 mph over the speed limit in North Dakota, it was only $20. Let's make sure the crime fits the punishment here and not go over the top in charging poor college students so much for petty offenses.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Government+Running a Business=Fail

Here is a great article from the Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2009:

Why Government Can't Run a Business


The Obama administration is bent on becoming a major player in -- if not taking over entirely -- America's health-care, automobile and banking industries. Before that happens, it might be a good idea to look at the government's track record in running economic enterprises. It is terrible.

In 1913, for instance, thinking it was being overcharged by the steel companies for armor plate for warships, the federal government decided to build its own plant. It estimated that a plant with a 10,000-ton annual capacity could produce armor plate for only 70% of what the steel companies charged.

When the plant was finally finished, however -- three years after World War I had ended -- it was millions over budget and able to produce armor plate only at twice what the steel companies charged. It produced one batch and then shut down, never to reopen.

Or take Medicare. Other than the source of its premiums, Medicare is no different, economically, than a regular health-insurance company. But unlike, say, UnitedHealthcare, it is a bureaucracy-beclotted nightmare, riven with waste and fraud. Last year the Government Accountability Office estimated that no less than one-third of all Medicare disbursements for durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and hospital beds, were improper or fraudulent. Medicare was so lax in its oversight that it was approving orthopedic shoes for amputees.

These examples are not aberrations; they are typical of how governments run enterprises. There are a number of reasons why this is inherently so. Among them are:

1) Governments are run by politicians, not businessmen. Politicians can only make political decisions, not economic ones. They are, after all, first and foremost in the re-election business. Because of the need to be re-elected, politicians are always likely to have a short-term bias. What looks good right now is more important to politicians than long-term consequences even when those consequences can be easily foreseen. The gathering disaster of Social Security has been obvious for years, but politics has prevented needed reforms.

And politicians tend to favor parochial interests over sound economic sense. Consider a thought experiment. There is a national widget crisis and Sen. Wiley Snoot is chairman of the Senate Widget Committee. There are two technologies that are possible solutions to the problem, with Technology A widely thought to be the more promising of the two. But the company that has been developing Technology B is headquartered in Sen. Snoot's state and employs 40,000 workers there. Which technology is Sen. Snoot going to use his vast legislative influence to push?

2) Politicians need headlines. And this means they have a deep need to do something ("Sen. Snoot Moves on Widget Crisis!"), even when doing nothing would be the better option. Markets will always deal efficiently with gluts and shortages, but letting the market work doesn't produce favorable headlines and, indeed, often produces the opposite ("Sen. Snoot Fails to Move on Widget Crisis!").

3) Governments use other people's money. Corporations play with their own money. They are wealth-creating machines in which various people (investors, managers and labor) come together under a defined set of rules in hopes of creating more wealth collectively than they can create separately.

So a labor negotiation in a corporation is a negotiation over how to divide the wealth that is created between stockholders and workers. Each side knows that if they drive too hard a bargain they risk killing the goose that lays golden eggs for both sides. Just ask General Motors and the United Auto Workers.

But when, say, a school board sits down to negotiate with a teachers union or decide how many administrators are needed, the goose is the taxpayer. That's why public-service employees now often have much more generous benefits than their private-sector counterparts. And that's why the New York City public school system had an administrator-to-student ratio 10 times as high as the city's Catholic school system, at least until Mayor Michael Bloomberg (a more than competent businessman before he entered politics) took charge of the system.

4) Government does not tolerate competition. The Obama administration is talking about creating a "public option" that would compete in the health-insurance marketplace with profit-seeking companies. But has a government entity ever competed successfully on a level playing field with private companies? I don't know of one.

5) Government enterprises are almost always monopolies and thus do not face competition at all. But competition is exactly what makes capitalism so successful an economic system. The lack of it has always doomed socialist economies.

When the federal government nationalized the phone system in 1917, justifying it as a wartime measure that would lower costs, it turned it over to the Post Office to run. (The process was called "postalization," a word that should send shivers down the back of any believer in free markets.) But despite the promise of lower prices, practically the first thing the Post Office did when it took over was . . . raise prices.

Cost cutting is alien to the culture of all bureaucracies. Indeed, when cost cutting is inescapable, bureaucracies often make cuts that will produce maximum public inconvenience, generating political pressure to reverse the cuts.

6) Successful corporations are run by benevolent despots. The CEO of a corporation has the power to manage effectively. He decides company policy, organizes the corporate structure, and allocates resources pretty much as he thinks best. The board of directors ordinarily does nothing more than ratify his moves (or, of course, fire him). This allows a company to act quickly when needed.

But American government was designed by the Founding Fathers to be inefficient, and inefficient it most certainly is. The president is the government's CEO, but except for trivial matters he can't do anything without the permission of two separate, very large committees (the House and Senate) whose members have their own political agendas. Government always has many cooks, which is why the government's broth is so often spoiled.

7) Government is regulated by government. When "postalization" of the nation's phone system appeared imminent in 1917, Theodore Vail, the president of AT&T, admitted that his company was, effectively, a monopoly. But he noted that "all monopolies should be regulated. Government ownership would be an unregulated monopoly."

It is government's job to make and enforce the rules that allow a civilized society to flourish. But it has a dismal record of regulating itself. Imagine, for instance, if a corporation, seeking to make its bottom line look better, transferred employee contributions from the company pension fund to its own accounts, replaced the money with general obligation corporate bonds, and called the money it expropriated income. We all know what would happen: The company accountants would refuse to certify the books and management would likely -- and rightly -- end up in jail.

But that is exactly what the federal government (which, unlike corporations, decides how to keep its own books) does with Social Security. In the late 1990s, the government was running what it -- and a largely unquestioning Washington press corps -- called budget "surpluses." But the national debt still increased in every single one of those years because the government was borrowing money to create the "surpluses."

Capitalism isn't perfect. Indeed, to paraphrase Winston Churchill's famous description of democracy, it's the worst economic system except for all the others. But the inescapable fact is that only the profit motive and competition keep enterprises lean, efficient, innovative and customer-oriented.

Mr. Gordon is the author of "An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power" (HarperCollins, 2004).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stealth Tactics

A lot of us conservatives are terrified over the way this health care "reform" pushed by the Obama administration is shaping up. The stated goal is a public health insurance "alternative" that will compete with the private sector, offering people alternatives to their current health insurance plans, and that the government has no intentions of completely taking over the health care industry (20% of our economy).

Sure. And I'm a leprechaun. The administration is using stealth techniques to take over the health care industry.

First, I see a huge disconnect between the stated problem and the offered solution. The problem is high costs of insurance and health care in general, yet the stated solution is a government health insurance program. Switching who pays for health care doesn't fix the problem...just who pays for it...and if the government is paying for it, YOU are paying for it as a taxpayer. Perhaps we should work more on decreasing the costs of health care rather than switching payers. Malpractice suits could be a place to start. I talked to a nurse here in Brookings who said her son was a doctor out in California. He QUIT delivering babies, because the malpractice insurance he had to purchase was simply too high...and he was paying $125,000! That's just for insurance to be a doctor! Our legal system needs reform to fix a lot of problems (although it may be tough with a Democrat-controlled Congress, as lawyers are the top contributors to that party).

The most disturbing thing about the administration's proposal is how Obama says that the government's new insurance plan will simply compete with private industry plans, as if that will somehow not be nationalized health care. In the end it will end up being just the government providing insurance, and I'll explain why through basic economics:

People often complain when a major chain store comes to town (like Walmart, Perkins, etc.). The biggest issue people have (although misguided, as I'll show), is that businesses that come in sell their goods very cheap, below cost, in order to push competition out of business in that area. The idea is that once competition is out of business, these bigger companies can then raise their prices to a higher level than before. This is a process referred to as "predatory pricing."

You with me?

The problem is, this rarely ever works, because it's not in the bigger company's long-run interests. Once they raise their prices again, competitors will once again move in to fill niches to compete with the bigger business, so once again they will have to sell their goods below cost to try and push competition out. Companies have to maintain profits, so chronically selling below cost simply to force out competition doesn't really pay, in that selling goods below cost for too long hurts the bigger store too much, and it's a losing battle anyway as smaller businesses return once prices go back up.

What does all this have to do with health care?

Enter the government. People like to hate Walmart and big business when they practice predatory pricing? The government is the ULTIMATE predatory pricer. The one thing that kept private sector, bigger businesses from predatory pricing was that in the long run, they have to eventually switch this process around and turn a profit, and turn consistent profits. When the government is "competing," with the private sector, they never have to worry about profits. Amtrak has turned a loss since 1970 and exists as a passenger railroad monopoly, even though it can't turn a profit. The government can keep operating things below cost for as long as it likes, through government subsidies (YOUR tax dollars thrown at it to keep it going)...eliminating private business competition and creating a government monopoly. Government does not have the private sector requirement of a profit to keep going, so it can unfairly undermine private business, even if they are hugely unprofitable, inefficient, and provide crappy services.

This is what will happen with the health care industry. Government will force all other insurance programs out of business simply because it can operate at a loss for so long.

Obama will not come outright and say this...preferring to stealthily take over the health insurance industry through these more subtle means--techniques that make me a little nervous and seem a bit Soviet Unionish.

If you want to take over the insurance industry, why not come out and say it? Because people might have a problem with that...and that doesn't get your party votes, does it now?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Man or Immortal?

Am I the only one that gets just a little nervous when our supposedly "objective, watchdog-role media" starts talking like this?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

D-Day, From Presidents Past and Present

Thank you veterans for all you have sacrificed in preserving our freedom and liberty.

From President Obama, at the 65th anniversary of D-Day:

I was lucky enough to visit this cemetery in 2005, where we laid a wreath in memorial of D-Day:

From President Reagan, on the 40th anniversary of D-Day:

"There is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation, and use of force for conquest."

Monday, June 1, 2009

How to Catch a Wild Pig

From an email I received:

A chemistry professor in a large college had some exchange students in the class. One day while the class was in the lab the Professor noticed one young man (an exchange student) who kept rubbing his back, and stretching as if his back hurt. The professor asked the young man what was the matter. The student told him he had a bullet lodged in his back. He had been shot while fighting communists in his native country who were trying to overthrow his country's government and install a new communist government.

In the midst of his story he looked at the professor and asked a strange question. He asked, 'Do you know how to catch wild pigs?' The professor thought it was a joke and asked for the punch line. The young man said this was no joke. 'You catch wild pigs by finding a suitable place in the woods and putting corn on the ground. The pigs find it and begin to come everyday to eat the free corn. When they are used to coming every day, you put a fence down one side of the place where they are used to coming. When they get used to the fence, they begin to eat the corn again and you put up another side of the fence. They get used to that and start to eat again. You continue until you have all four sides of the fence up with a gate in The last side. The pigs, who are used to the free corn, start to come through the gate to eat, you slam the gate on them and catch the whole herd. Suddenly the wild pigs have lost their freedom. They run around and around inside the fence, but they are caught. Soon they go back to eating the free corn. They are so used to it that they have forgotten how to forage in the woods for themselves, so they accept their captivity.

The young man then told the professor that is exactly what he sees happening to America . The government keeps pushing us toward socialism and keeps spreading the free corn out in the form of programs such as supplemental income, tax credit for unearned income, tobacco subsidies, dairy subsidies, payments not to plant crops (CRP), welfare, medicine, drugs, etc. while we continually lose our freedoms--just a little at a time. One should always remember: There is no such thing as a free lunch and a politician will never provide a service for you cheaper than you can do it yourself.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Really? reports that Alan Grayson (D-Fl) is introducing a bill that would mandate paid vacation time in an effort to "stimulate" the economy. Is he serious?

Sure more happier, rested employees are more productive, but where does the government get off MANDATING this? Paid time off should be a perk at the discretion of the company offering it, because that's what it INCENTIVE to work better, not an ENTITLEMENT. Where did our country go wrong that we feel that we are entitled to being paid for time we are not actually working??

As far as stimulating the economy, what a great way to help companies keep afloat...force them to pay all their employees a week's wages and get no productivity from those dollars spent. Great formula for success. Hey why not pay me for each hour I sleep per night? That would ensure I'm fully rested and will be more productive at work.

It should be up to individual companies whether or not they can afford the perk of paid time off. They know better than anyone if they can afford it, and it should be up to them whether or not they want to provide paid time off. If you don't like it, don't go work there...0r maybe work for a living instead of feeling you should get paid for time you don't work.

Mr. Grayson should get himself out of the unions' pockets and come back to the real world and hang out with the rest of us hard-working blue collar Americans.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Bill of Non-Rights

This is an email I recently received in my inbox and felt it was fairly true and entertaining:

"We the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt-free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt ridden, delusional, and other liberal bed-wetters. We hold these truths to be self evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim they require a Bill of NON-Rights."

ARTICLE I: You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV, or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.

ARTICLE II: You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc.; but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be.

ARTICLE III: You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful; do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.

ARTICLE IV: You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.

ARTICLE V: You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.

ARTICLE VI: You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair..

ARTICLE VII: You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat, or coerce away the goods or services o f other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV or a life of leisure.

ARTICLE VIII: You do not have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.

ARTICLE IX: You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness, which, by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an overabundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights.

ARTICLE X: This is an English speaking country. We don't care where you are from, English is our language. Learn it or go back to wherever you came from!

ARTICLE XI: You do not have the right to change our country's history or heritage. This country was founded on the belief in one true God. And yet, you are given the freedom to believe in any religion, any faith, or no faith at all with no fear of persecution The phrase IN GOD WE TRUST is part ofour heritage and history, and if you are uncomfortable with it, TOUGH!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Poll: Number of Pro-Life People Highest Ever

Oddly enough, with the political winds blowing in the liberal direction, people are becoming more conservative on the abortion issue...interesting. If you're having trouble viewing the video, click here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

100th Post!

In celebration of my 100th post on my blog, I decided to get a little patriotic. I really get sick of all the people who say "America has no culture" or "we need to be more like Europe" because they're cultured and proper and we're just a bunch of backward hicks who have yet to learn of dental hygiene. I BEG to differ.

Let's do a little comparison between Europe and America, as well as look at some things that are purely American/perfected by America.

Here's superior, progressive Europe for you: The smart car. Seats two with limited storage capacity and gets great mileage (roughtly 40 mpg). Isn't it cute?
Now I present to you the American "smart car":

Our version of alternative transportation also comfortably seats two, gets roughly 40-50 mpg (depending on model, mine gets 42) and has limited storage capacity, but is decidedly more Bad A%#. Pardon my French. In addition, it's road legal in sweet states like South Dakota.

How about our sports? We invented basketball and heavily modified the lackluster sport of cricket into the great American sport of baseball. Not to mention having the great idea of throwing pads on so we can hit harder and faster in another classic American sport: football.

European Sports:

American Sports:

We also have a ton of traditions that go along with these sports. Tailgating? Americans treasure friendship and laughter more than anything. I've been to many different countries, and one thing I've noticed staying with people in other countries is that they simply don't laugh and enjoy life as much as we do. Americans will look for any excuse to fire up a grill with a bunch of friends and have a good time, whether it be tailgating before a football game, a pep rally, Superbowl party, or simply just the weekend...we have a culture of fraternalism, as we are more free than most societies to do these things. That's why I get really irked when government tries to "protect" us from activities it deems too dangerous or risky...trying to save us from ourselves. I see it as a gradual process that builds upon itself, slowly leading to a overburdened, over regulated society where there are very few things that we are free to choose for ourselves to do. Americans have a culture of adventure, fun, daringness, and outrageousness (which probably has something to do with our higher health care costs maybe?) Don't like it? I don't mind...I enjoy being able to choose my own risks for myself.

They said we couldn't fly, we did.

They said we'd never go to the moon, we did....a few times. We even turned the failed mission of Apollo 13 into a success story.
Who would have thought electricity could think? We did. You can thank America for computers. For that matter, thank us for the light bulb, too. You rock Thomas Edison. Segways. Telephones. Sewing machines. Steam engines. Air conditioning. Revolvers. Combines, which increased our ability to provide food for billions. Vulcanized rubber. Steel. Rolled toilet paper. Motorcycles. Vacuum cleaners. Jeans. Keyboards. Electric dental drills. The Internet. Zippers. Hollywood. Water skiing. I could go on.

The point is, why did so many great, innovative things come from America? We didn't necessarily invent pizza or the internal combustion engine...but we perfected them. Pizza was not popular worldwide until we decided to cut it in slices, throw toppings on it, and sell it at every street corner in New York. The automobile was only for the super rich in Europe, but through our creativity and ingenuity, Henry Ford was able to create the assembly line and put a vehicle with an internal combustion engine within the price range of most Americans.

We were able to accomplish all these things because we had a government that did not promise everyone everything. Our country has a history and culture of independence, self-reliance, and economic freedom...conditions that require citizens to be creative, innovate, and work hard to become successful and survive. We are the most mobile society on the planet; rags to riches, if you prefer. There is no permanent, pompous upper class as they have in Europe. Eventually generations of unwise practices will bring the upper class down a notch if they are not wise in their economic decisions (*coughParisHiltoncough*). Lower class people have the opportunity to succeed if they try, work hard, and utilize their talents and we maintain a society that encourages and rewards success...incentives for effort.

How about our literary culture? Mark Twain. Edgar Allan Poe. Washington Irving. Ernest Hemingway. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Herman Melville. Stephen King. John Steinbeck. Sinclair Lewis. Walt Whitman. Emily Dickenson. F. Scott Fitzgerald. And tons more. They all represent unique American culture.

How about music? We invented jazz, rap, country, hip hop, blues, techno, bluegrass, gospel, ROCK AND ROLL. The world would be a dull place without a lot of our music, which is the biggest music industry in the world now.

Food. I'm not even going to name all the foods that I can think of that are purely American because I'll get hungry, but I'll name a few: apple pie of course needs to be mentioned, New England clam chowder, French fries, Philly cheesesteak, turkey, hotdish, venison (because our country still lets us hunt wild animals), and all our unique seafood species and cooking techniques on the coasts. We also have a unique ability to assimilate things from other countries and create unique tastes that quickly become popular and Americanized, in the unique tradition of the "melting pot." Creole cooking in the South, Germanic/Swedish/Norwegian variations around here in the Midwest, Tex-mex in the Southwest, and Hawaiian/Asian influences on the west coast. Very few of these dishes would be see as authentic by their home countries, because we modify and tinker too much in our culture.

What about our activities? Americans are willing to try anything and everything. The wing-walking, flag-sitting, etc. craze of the roaring 20's comes to mind. American Idol and similar shows, which allow for the every day people to pursue their talents and possibly become rich and famous. Fear Factor. Bungee jumping. Evil Knievel. I'd be willing to bet that most records that Guinness has in his Book of World Records are held by Americans. We like everything bigger, faster, and stronger. We like to have fun and push the envelope.

Americans also "invented" the Great Outdoors. Hunting, fishing, and camping are a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. We have a deep appreciation for nature conservation and all it offers to us. America has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.

We are constantly busy with other activities as well. Volunteerism is one of the most important American traditions, and we have some of the highest rates of volunteerism in the world. It's estimated that American volunteerism represents roughly $150 billion worth of economic activity! Maybe we're just more generous, but I believe it has more to do with our culture of independence from government. We feel a bigger sense of compassion for our neighbor and have a higher level of civic responsibility for our communities when we have to rely on ourselves to solve problems.

The point is we most definitely have a culture. Don't let anyone tell you different, or that we should be more like Europe. Anyone who thinks that, you're free to move there...I may even buy your plane ticket.

We have a robust, brash, jovial, creative, innovative, accepting, entrepreneurial, original, and unique culture. Yes, we may seem to bully other nations at times, but almost every single war we have ever fought (which are few compared to many nations) has been in the name of defending freedom, whether our own or to liberate others. Our wars have been fought mainly over preserving individual freedom, individual liberty, and individual independence, and I'll die before I let that American ideal fade into the annals of history, only to become a distant memory as some try to passively merge our country's culture with the Western European collectivist, stagnate, nanny-state culture of despotism.

Something to Think About...

The world and its traditions as we know them are dying...especially in Europe simply through birthrates and unchecked immigration.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Military Tribute

This is a great song by Toby Keith, saluting our soldiers and all that they sacrifice for us:

Monday, May 4, 2009

U.S. to Companies: We Hate You

Obama said today in a press conference that he's going to crack down on offshore tax loopholes and other forms of tax havens. Companies do this to avoid the taxation imposed on them by the government and are looking for the "path of least resistance": the location where tax code can be most beneficial to them. Why would they act in such shady ways?

Well, what would you do in their situation? Here's what companies face: a corporate tax rate of 39.3 percent. Our country says fine. You can work here, provide jobs here, expand here, pay your employees well, and reinvest...but only after we take OVER A THIRD of your money! What would you do? Take a look at the state income taxes, which vary from state to state. Say you're just over the border living in Minnesota. You would be looking at a state income tax rate of 5.35%, 7.05%, or 7.85%, depending on your income. A couple miles away in South Dakota, the state income tax is 0%. People are moving from around the country (voting with their feet) in droves to places like South Dakota to avoid high rates of taxation.

That's exactly what these companies are doing!

So, President Obama, why don't we look at the root cause as to why companies (jobs) are literally running away from the United States? Rather than trying to stop the hemorrhaging of companies out of the U.S. through new overseas tax rules, why not make incentive for companies to stay here?

Here's a "radical" idea. Some CHANGE, if you will.

Why not drop the U.S. corporate tax rate to ZERO percent? We will be the nation that foreign companies will flock to, thirsty for a friendly business environment. Millions of American jobs would be created, and ultimately more money would be brought into the coffers of the U.S. Treasury. Industry will return to America. Sure labor may be cheaper overseas, but when companies aren't taxed at all here, that cost-saving measure might not really be a factor anymore!

One of the more common responses I'll get is that companies are big, rich, evil, and have a better ability to pay taxes than the little guy (me and you).

In response to that, I say that corporate taxes do nothing but HURT the little guy. Taking 40 percent of companies' profits inhibits a company's ability to grant pay raises and benefits to their workers and reduces how much the company can reinvest and build another wing on the factory (more jobs for little guys). Companies may compensate by raising their prices (so all us little guys have to pay more for all products). High company taxation also decreases the amount they are able to dish out in the form of dividends to their shareholders, which consist largely of 401k retirement accounts and similar things...accounts owned by the little guys like us that we rely on to create a sufficient retirement account for ourselves.

I would also mention that corporate taxes are double-taxation anyway...once companies are taxed, the remaining money dished out to all the workers and executives is again subject to personal income tax. And sales taxes. Excise taxes. Property taxes. Etc. Etc.

You want change? This is change that President Obama will never see through, yet would help you and me and all of America much more than any new overseas tax rules ever could.