What’s your view of what’s wrong in America?

My view is that NOTHING is wrong in America — not in the REAL America.

It’s the politics in Washington that is trampling on the Constitution, spending us into the poor house, and padding the pockets of special interests that’s wrong.  The following is a piece from Glenn Beck that lays it out pretty nicely. There may be something in what follows with which I don’t agree, but I haven’t found it yet. What’s your view?

One, illegal immigration. I want you to stop coddling illegal immigrants and secure our borders. Close the underground tunnels. Stop the violence and the trafficking in drugs and people. No amnesty, not again.. Been there, done that, no resolution. P.S., I’m not a racist. This isn’t to be confused with legal immigration.

Two, the TARP bill, I want it repealed and I want no further funding supplied to it. We told you no, but you did it anyway. I want the remaining unfunded 95% repealed. Freeze, repeal.

Three: Czars, I want the circumvention of our checks and balances stopped immediately. Fire the czars. No more czars. Government officials answer to the process, not to the president. Stop trampling on our Constitution and honor it.

Four, cap and trade. The debate on global warming is not over. There is more to say.

Five, universal healthcare. I will not be rushed into another expensive decision. Don’t you dare try to pass this in the middle of the night and then go on break. Slow down!

Six, growing government control. I want states rights and sovereignty fully restored. I want less government in my life, not more. Shrink it down. Mind your own business. You have enough to take care of with your real obligations. Why don’t you start there.

Seven, ACORN. I do not want ACORN and its affiliates in charge of our 2010 census. I want them investigated. I also do not want mandatory escrow fees contributed to them every time on every real estate deal that closes. Stop the funding to ACORN and its affiliates pending impartial audits and investigations. I do not trust them with taking the census over with our taxpayer money. I don’t trust them with our taxpayer money. Face up to the allegations against them and get it resolved before taxpayers get any more involved with them. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, hello. Stop protecting your political buddies. You work for us, the people. Investigate.

Eight, redistribution of wealth. No, no, no. I work for my money. It is mine. I have always worked for people with more money than I have because they gave me jobs. That is the only redistribution of wealth that I will support. I never got a job from a poor person. Why do you want me to hate my employers? Why — what do you have against shareholders making a profit?

Nine, charitable contributions. Although I never got a job from a poor person, I have helped many in need. Charity belongs in our local communities, where we know our needs best and can use our local talent and our local resources. Butt out, please. We want to do it ourselves.

Ten, corporate bailouts. Knock it off. Sink or swim like the rest of us. If there are hard times ahead, we’ll be better off just getting into it and letting the strong survive. Quick and painful. Have you ever ripped off a Band-Aid? We will pull together. Great things happen in America under great hardship. Give us the chance to innovate. We cannot disappoint you more than you have disappointed us.

Eleven, transparency and accountability.. How about it? No, really, how about it? Let’s have it. Let’s say we give the buzzwords a rest and have some straight honest talk. Please try — please stop manipulating and trying to appease me with clever wording. I am not the idiot you obviously take me for. Stop sneaking around and meeting in back rooms making deals with your friends. It will only be a prelude to your criminal investigation. Stop hiding things from me..

Twelve, unprecedented quick spending. Stop it now. 
 
Take a breath. Listen to the people. Let’s just slow down and get some input from some nonpoliticians on the subject. Stop making everything an emergency. Stop speed reading our bills into law. I am not an activist. I am not a community organizer. Nor am I a terrorist, a militant or a violent person. I am a parent and a grandparent. I work. I’m busy. I’m busy. I am busy, and I am tired. I thought we elected competent people to take care of the business s of government so that we could work, raise our families, pay our bills, have a little recreation, complain about taxes, endure our hardships, pursue our personal goals, cut our lawn, wash our cars on the weekends and be responsible contributing members of society and teach our children to be the same all while living in the home of the free and land of the brave.

I entrusted you with upholding the Constitution. I believed in the checks and balances to keep from getting far off course. What happened? You are very far off course. Do you really think I find humor in the hiring of a speed reader to unintelligently ramble all through a bill that you signed into law without knowing what it contained? I do not. It is a mockery of the responsibility I have entrusted to you. It is a slap in the face. I am not laughing at your arrogance. Why is it that I feel as if you would not trust me to make a single decision about my own life and how I would live it but you should expect that I should trust you with the debt that you have laid on all of us and our children. We did not want the TARP bill.. We said no. We would repeal it if we could. I am sure that we still cannot.. There is such urgency and recklessness in all of the recent spending.

From my perspective, it seems that all of you have gone insane. I also know that I am far from alone in these feelings. Do you honestly feel that your current pursuits have merit to patriotic Americans? We want it to stop. We want to put the brakes on everything that is being rushed by us and forced upon us. We want our voice back. You have forced us to put our lives on hold to straighten out the mess that you are making. We will have to give up our vacations, our time spent with our children, any relaxation time we may have had and money we cannot afford to spend on you to bring our concerns to Washington . Our president often knows all the right buzzword is unsustainable. Well, no kidding. How many tens of thousands of dollars did the focus group cost to come up with that word? We don’t want your overpriced words. Stop treating us like we’re morons.

We want all of you to stop focusing on your reelection and do the job we want done, not the job you want done or the job your party wants done. You work for us and at this rate I guarantee you not for long because we are coming. We will be heard and we will be represented.. You think we’re so busy with our lives that we will never come for you? We are the formerly silent majority, all of us who quietly work , pay taxes, obey the law, vote, save money, keep our noses to the grindstone and we are now looking up at you. You have awakened us, the patriotic spirit so strong and so powerful that it had been sleeping too long. You have pushed us too far. Our numbers are great. They may surprise you. For every one of us who will be there, there will be hundreds more that could not come. Unlike you, we have their trust. We will represent them honestly, rest assured. They will be at the polls on voting day to usher you out of office. We have cancelled vacations. We will use our last few dollars saved. We will find the representation among us and a grassroots campaign will flourish. We didn’t ask for this fight. But the gloves are coming off. We do not come in violence, but we are angry. You will represent us or you will be replaced with someone who will. There are candidates among us when he will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes that you have made of our constitution.

Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian. Understand this. We don’t care. Political parties are meaningless to us. Patriotic Americans are willing to do right by us and our Constitution and that is all that matters to us now. We are going to fire all of you who abuse power and seek more. It is not your power. It is ours and we want it back. We entrusted you with it and you abused it. You are dishonorable. You are dishonest. As Americans we are ashamed of you. You have brought shame to us. If you are not representing the wants and needs of your constituency loudly and consistently, in spite of the objections of your party, you will be fired. Did you hear? We no longer care about your political parties. You need to be loyal to us, not to them. Because we will get you fired and they will not save you. If you do or can represent me, my issues, my views, please stand up. Make your identity known. You need to make some noise about it. Speak up. I need to know who you are. If you do not speak up, you will be herded out with the rest of the sheep and we will replace the whole damn congress if need be one by one.

We are coming.. Are we coming for you? Who do you represent? What do you represent? Listen. Because we are coming. We the people are coming.

From a Republic to Oligarchy

Are we there? Note some definitions of an oligarchy:

ol·i·gar·chy (ŏl’ĭ-gär’kē, ō’lĭ-) n. pl. ol·i·gar·chies
Government by a few, especially by a small faction of persons or families.
“oligarchy.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 27 Apr. 2009. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/oligarchy>.

OR

Oligarchy (Greek Ὀλιγαρχία, Oligarkhía) is a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family, military powers or occult spiritual hegemony. …
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligarchy

There is a very interesting article in the May 2009 edition of “The Atlantic” which is introduced with the following premise

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises.

America was founded as a representative republic (not a pure democracy, although most people unfortunately blur this most important distinction). Citizens were to go to the seat of a limited government and, especially in the House of Representatives, serve a short while and return home. The notion was they were close to the people, would represent the people’s best interest, and return to their communities. Accountability was automatic.

Now we have professional politicians, people who not only have made governing their life’s occupation and many of whom have known no other calling for the majority of their adult life. They don’t return to their communities in any real sense of the word. Accountability is difficult, almost nonexistent if you think of the recent hue and cry of the people against bailouts and incurring debt to solve a problem created by excessive debt. “They” live by rules far different from those imposed upon the people they were sent to Washington to represent.

Read the article:  Simon Johnson, The Quiet Coup – The Atlantic (May 2009).

The author was economist (see bio snippet below) at the International Monetary Fund — the entity that makes loans to struggling third world countries and emerging markets. What does that have to do with the current conditions in the United States you ask? The author describes desperate debt-laden counties with political systems that increasingly allow the foolish and risk-taking components of the economy to push their problems onto the public section — the people, you and me — due to their political interconnectivity.

Sound familiar?

The argument can be made that while Congress has 535 members, it and the Executive, in concert with critical influences in our economy, have become a small governing group and America has become

a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family, …

In other words:  an oligarchy. Consider the following quote

“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”
“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Benjamin Franklin (1706–90).

The response is attributed to BENJAMIN FRANKLIN—at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation—in the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention.

via 1593. Benjamin Franklin (1706-90). Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

Can we keep it? Or have we already lost it?

Simon Johnson, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, was the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund during 2007 and 2008. He blogs about the financial crisis at baselinescenario.com, along with James Kwak, who also contributed to this essay.

Ronald Reagan Speech on Behalf of Goldwater 1964

Ronald Reagan
Address on Behalf of Senator Barry Goldwater
Rendezvous with Destiny
October 27, 1964

On the evening of 27 October 1964, Ronald Reagan delivered a nation-wide paid political telecast on behalf of the presidential candidacy of Barry Goldwater. His presentation was so forceful and engaging that Reagan, hitherto little considered a political figure, became overnight a political force in the Republican party. Although Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson in an landslide and Richard Nixon captured the nomination – and the presidency – in 1968, Reagan’s reputation was firmly established and he recovered the fortunes of the Republican party with his victory in the presidential election of 1980.

Via: http://www.vlib.us/amdocs/texts/reagan101964.html (accessed 3/31/2009)

The text is at this link. But you really need to listen to the audio which you can do by clicking here and either download or open the mp3 file for listening. OR, get the video by clicking here.

Reagan’s delivery of this speech is as powerful as any he ever gave, is full of facts, and makes it so very clear that socialist forces were at work as early as 1964 and before. He quotes many instances of government leaders, primarily in Congress and high Cabinet positions, extolling the virtues of what the government can do for (read as “to”) the “masses.”  Lenin, Stalin and Hitler had “masses.”  America has individual people who have the freedom, the right and the ability to succeed or fail on their own, subject only to some very basic regulation of society. I suggest that we should return to that notion, chuck all of the lawbooks, and just pay attention to the Ten Commandments.

Read or listen to the speech. It will chill you to the bone and it should remind all of us of how fragile is our individual freedom today. Whatever did happen to the notion of the government having only such power as is derived from the people — or have the people simply given up and determined to hand over their individual freedom?  While it may be necessary for the government to take drastic steps to assist this country and the world out of the current economic mess and malaise, it is not necessary to abrogate our freedoms and the basic principles that made this country what it is today — still — the envy of the world.

Earmarks by any other name

Much is said by some in Congress that the “stimulus” bill (recently passed by the Senate with the assistance of two terribly mis-guided Republicans — Specter and Snowe) contains no earmarks. And they say it proudly and, seemingly, seriously. Check the following list in an article from CNN. Call it “pork” or “earmarks” or whatever appellation suits your fancy today, but the fact of the matter is that most of these items are blatantly wasteful and have nothing to do with getting our economy back on track.

Many of these are just ordinary budget items that probably would not pass in a routine budget debate. While those items might not be pure “pork” in the classic sense, you have to ask about the necessity. My comments are in bold.

On Monday, Congressional Republican leaders put out a list of what they call wasteful provisions in the Senate version of the nearly $900 billion stimulus bill that is being debated:

The Senate is currently debating the nearly $900 billion economic stimulus bill.

The Senate is currently debating the nearly $900 billion economic stimulus bill.

• $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.

• A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film. Like they need a tax break?

• $650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program. To “save” the 6% of the country who couldn’t get the coupons squared away in the three years that this conversion has been underway. So they can watch soap operas?

• $88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship). But wait … Gore’s global warming is melting all the ice!

• $448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.

• $248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters.

• $600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.

• $400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD’s.

• $1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.

• $125 million for the Washington sewer system. Could not possibly be a big enough system at that meager price!

• $150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.

• $1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion. That’s a budget mistake … don’t bury it in a “stimulus” bill.

• $75 million for “smoking cessation activities.”

• $200 million for public computer centers at community colleges.

• $75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI.

• $25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.

• $500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River.

• $10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.

• $6 billion to turn federal buildings into “green” buildings.

• $500 million for state and local fire stations.

• $650 million for wildland fire management on forest service lands.

• $1.2 billion for “youth activities,” including youth summer job programs.

• $88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service.

• $412 million for CDC buildings and property.

• $500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.

• $160 million for “paid volunteers” at the Corporation for National and Community Service.

• $5.5 million for “energy efficiency initiatives” at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.

• $850 million for Amtrak.  To keep it going so it can lose more money?

• $100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint.

• $75 million to construct a “security training” facility for State Department Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies.

• $110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems.

• $200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.

From http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/02/gop.stimulus.worries/index.html (accessed 2/8/09)

A trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon ….

Everett Dirksen
Image by gympumpkin via Flickr

” A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money” is a phrase attributed to Sen. Everett Dirksen (perhaps inaccurately) during floor debates on the federal budget in the early 50’s. So here we are, with right at a trillion obligated, another trillion being discussed, and yet a 3rd trillion being pondered in some Washington circles.

A trillion here, a trillion there, here a trillion there a trillion, and it’s already way past anybody’s definition of “real money.” That our congress can even discuss things of this magnitude, even if the pork was not in these handouts, is so far beyond sad as to, out of sheer necessity, be laughable. Me-thinks congress takes itself way too seriously as a body else they could not even entertain a discussion like what is going on.

Let’s look at the current “stimulus” package under consideration. Just what is in it, or can we even find out.? Here are some things I can find that are worth talking about.

Aid to states

For starters, it is a shell game. Sending federal aid to states would not save taxpayers a dime, because state taxpayers are also federal taxpayers. Hiking federal taxes to keep state taxes from rising is like running up your Visa card to keep the MasterCard balance from rising. Either way, you will pay. All that changes is where you send your payment. Heritage Foundation.

I have to agree for the most part. An argument is that the federal dollar can be injected into the stream of commerce faster than the states can do it, and without the balanced budget restraint. IF truly stimulating spending were the case, maybe that could help. But to just fulfill state wish lists is nuts. According to Heritage “Congress already sends $467 billion a year to state and local government–up 29 percent after inflation since 2000.”

Energy

  • $8 billion in loans for renewable energy power generation and transmission projects and $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research. greentechmedia — Those are very long-term projects, what is currently stimulating about that?
  • $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research$2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research. greentechmedia — That money may get to work right away, but how many jobs does it create? A few university and thinktank positions perhaps, very localized.
  • The House bill draft contained, and probably passed, a provision to turn renewable energy investment tax credits into direct payments from the federal government. greentechmedia — How much you ask? This piece from greentechmedia may provide a clue:

Such so-called “structured equity” deals represented about $5.5 billion in investment last year, he said. But this year could see only $2 billion to $4 billion available for such deals, given the massive losses investors are facing – and that’s for a solar industry that will likely require $10 billion to $12 billion in 2009 to keep up their rapid pace of growth, [Chris O’Brien, head of North America market development for Swiss solar equipment maker Oerlikon Solar,] said.

It’s sure starting to add up to real money.

Non-smoking plans

Now there’s an area that requires intervention by the federal government. According to CNNPolitics.com, the Senate plan contains $75 million for smoking cessation plans. CNNPolitics.com — On the CNNPolitics site there is a link to a video by Sen. Tom Harkin discussing how this will help the economy. Someone view that and get back to me, ok? Now I’m not a smoker, never have been, and I hate it. That’s a worthwhile effort, but is the timing right? Will this kind of expenditure really stimulate anything? It’ll take about the stimulation of the smokes for some people, so it won’t be helping them!

(more when I get time … this will grow ….)


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The stimulus that isn’t

The Wall Street Journal calls it the “40-year Wish List”. Michelle calls it the “Generational Theft Act”. Others have started calling it the Obama-Pelosi-Reid Debt Act. Whatever name one gives it, the least likely is stimulus. The WSJ calculates that no more than 12 cents on the dollar in the trillion-dollar whale goes to actual economic stimulus, and that the rest go to Democratic wish lists for electoral advantage:

via Hot Air » Blog Archive » The Democratic Porkfest Bill of 2009.

Pay attention folks. While the pork is not in the form of classic “earmarks” it’s still pork. It’s one thing that the so-called “stimulus” bill is laden with pork, it’s quite another that it’s being marketed so dishonestly. Let’s look at it.

First, you can hear congressmen defending the bill because “it contains no earmarks.”  While that may be true in a technical and literal sense, it begs the true question thereby misleading the public — and that’s dishonest. We expect better from our citizen representatives who go to Washington temporarily out of a sense of duty and public service (I wish!).

Second, if the WSJ estimate is even remotely correct that only 12 cents on the dollar goes to stimulus, and much of what you hear about the plan is for projects that go far into the future, then the bill can’t be said to be about stimulus at all! Its major premise as a short-term stimulus to the economy fails.

Lastly, President Obama is himself conflicted about what to do and why.  About a week ago he states that only government can get us out of recession. Now, in the last day, he speaks Reaganesquely of the importance of private enterprise and how only business, large and small, can pull us out.

What? Has the President had an epiphany? Or is there some sort of “gaming” going on here.

There are promises that we will have a website where we can track every dollar and know exactly where it’s spent. Why can’t we know about the proposal in advance and be able to let our representatives know our thoughts and feelings? No, this is not a democracy where all the citizens get to decide issues, but we should be able to give (and the representatives listen to) our opinions. In this representative republic, that’s how it works … in theory.

<rant mode off>