Archive for August, 2011

Unions & Environmentalists–At What Cost?

31 Aug

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Now let me say at the outset that both unions and environmentalists have their place and time.  Without question they have accomplished much good in this country and around the world.

In the beginning when they prepared to right some wrong or even create better living conditions they made a significant positive contribution to our lives.  During those times their focus was clear and measured.  For the most part they proceeded without violence or major disruption, yet at times that seemed to be the only way to achieve their quest.

Once successful though, it usually didn’t take long until their purpose began shifting away from the task at hand to the solidification of their “organization.”  In other words just keeping the movement alive became their modus operandi.  Then, almost without notice, the very maintenance of their organization became their basic mission.  And that seems to be the case for many of our unions (particularly public sector unions) and environmental movements today.

Being over zealous in their undertakings, that is, proceeding without regard to the consequences, intended or not, has weakened our nation.  This is most clearly recognized in a major component of the financial woes we are facing in this recession, namely high unemployment.

To be sure, technological advances have contributed, but that is a story for another time.  The great successes of the unions have led to a great migration of jobs to other countries.  American can’t compete successfully if our labor force jacks up the prices of our products so high that our industries seek out more friendly labor sources elsewhere.  And in the case of public sector unions…well ask your governor what has happened in that arena.

The environmental movements around the country have greatly damaged major industries.  Just look at the timber industry’s plight since the spotted owl controversy or the agricultural industry in central California over a few fish.  These two instances alone have lead to massive unemployment.

Sadly many of the jobs lost are the kind of jobs that provide income for hard working men and women that haven’t, for whatever reason, gone on to graduate high school or college.  When they lose a job, preparing for their next source of employment is incredibly difficult, especially for those in their forties, fifties, or sixties.

For sure, governmental policies and taxing structures play a significant role in all of this.

No single segment of our society can solve our problems.  But as we move forward we must be cautious in our efforts to demand more concessions from our major industries, at least in the short term.  We can not tax and or spend our way back to financial solvency, nor can we regulate our way back.

I’m not suggesting that we throw caution to the winds and undo all that has been done.  No, what I suggest is that as we make decisions, we keep in mind the impact they will have on the targets of unions and environmentalist—our businesses and industries.  We must do whatever is necessary to strengthen those that supply the jobs in a way that encourages, not discourages them from bringing jobs back to this country and/or growing the job opportunities within the country.  We do this by focusing our attention on the job providers, not just the job seekers.

We have a bright future ahead of us unless we forget what made us an exceptional nation in the first place.  Let us not do that.


Hurricane Irene and Obama–Any Similarities?

27 Aug

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For days now we have been inundated with reports on the advance of the hurricane known as “Irene.”  From its conception we’ve been privy to its predicted course and ferocity of its building winds and tidal surge’s.  The potential for great destruction is clear.  Life and limb are at stake, as is the probable impact on our teetering economy.  As it blasts ashore and works its way up the coast, trees, houses, buildings of all sorts as well as mankind itself, will be at its mercy.  Many might fight against the odds of survival and remain hunkered down while other flee.  Some will win, others, sadly will not.

Granted the science of predicting the impact of hurricanes is a bit more reliable than trying to predict the damage that a president running amuck might create by throwing money to the winds.  Nevertheless, the comparison is worth some contemplation.

Damaged trees, buildings of all sorts, and broken bones might lay in the wake of the hurricane.  The economy, on the other hand, endangers the lives of future generations if our out of control spending isn’t arrested and then permanently curtailed.  And the impact will be felt by all Americans, including those touched by the hurricane.

Likening President Obama to a hurricane may be a stretch.  But viewing the damage created by him isn’t.  The destruction may take a different form, but a significant amount of devastation will surely result from each.

We may have no control over the hurricane (notwithstanding global warming), but we can harness the ranting and raging of the President.  Time will tell whether or not we collectively come to our senses soon enough to make a difference.

The mainstream media will certainly follow their talking points and blame Hurricane Irene on mankind (global warming) or even George W. Bush.  The damages oozing from the President’s policies will also be blamed on George W. Bush.  I guess that’s just something we’ll have to live with…at least for a while.

This segment of our media won’t provide truthful or balanced reporting on the failings of the President.  They seem loath to criticize him, perhaps out of fear of being branded racist or some other such thing.  They certainly don’t want to have to face the kind of destructive rhetoric that they foist on those that disagree with him.

One major difference between the hurricane and Obama though is that the hurricane’s winds are cold and biting, the latter just blows….you know, hot air.

Our disagreement with our president’s policies aside, on this I feel we can all agree: our prayers and thoughts go out to those facing the ravages of Hurricane Irene.  God bless you and be with you.


The Tea Party–Fear it or Praise it?

24 Aug

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Man, has the liberal wing of this country gone out of their way to blast the Tea Party.  It is as though it has been the geniuses of all things evil.  One would think that the Tea Party was spawned by Global Warming, or vise-versa.  Even the recent earthquake in Virginia was  caused by the Tea Party.

Several members of the Black Coalition in Congress has derided the Tea Party because it is an enemy to be feared.  One even wants to send it directly to hell.  A strange directive because others seem to think that the Tea Party is hell itself.

Then there are those that feel the Tea Party is the David fighting against the Goliath.  Without it, our spending binge would still be going full tilt.  Indeed, it is the steel stiffening the spines of the conservatives roaming the aisles of congress.  It is a constant presence harking back to the ideals set forth by our founding fathers.  It serves as a beacon guiding the way to fiscal responsibility.

The Tea Party is a force to be reckoned with for sure.  But not because it is of one thought, but because it is composed of citizens concerned and frustrated with the burden our elected officials are thrusting upon our children and grandchildren.  Like the aborted baby torn from its mother’s womb, our future generations have no say, no vote, indeed no recourse other than to face the destruction of their future, if in fact there will be a future for them.

The Tea Party isn’t a third political party anymore than the air we breath stands apart from the other essential elements of our environment.  The Tea Party is a movement dedicated to the preservation of our Constitution.  Its membership is the amalgamation of individuals that are desirous of not changing our country’s course, but rather to redirect the ship of state back to the course that has made this country the shining beacon on the hill that President Reagan championed.

No, I don’t think the hysterical liberals are afraid that the Tea Party will create earthquakes, or global warming.  I think they fear the Tea Party will rip away the progress they have made toward bringing our nation, one based on small government  and a capitalistic economic system to its knees and force us to mirror the European nations and their socialistic governmental systems.

Regardless of where some might come down on the “Tea Party,” either friend or foe, the reality of the situation is that those members of the party that espouse radical ideas are a very small minority of the movement.

No matter which side you come down on, the Tea Party members aren’t clothed in white robs.  They are neither angels or KKK mobsters.

As a wise man once said, “It’s time for the liberals to get over it and get down to the business at hand.”


Our Oneupmanship Dilemma

20 Aug

Progress toward addressing our horrendous deficit spending seems mired in the muck of a political quagmire.  Neither party is eager to venture forth with a plan.  Obama is hedging his bet hoping that someone will propose something before his much heralded speech next month, then he can slip back into his “blame everyone else” stance.

Past experience shows that anyone brave enough to propose something gets lambasted mercilessly.   Obama’s Deficit Reduction Commission, even though they didn’t approve anything, was savaged.  (But isn’t that why such commissions are formed anyway?)  So was Paul Ryan.

Political posturing is honed to such a fine point that the slightest hint of a possible solution gets shredded even before it comes to pass.  I envision two packs of wolves,

circling each other with bared fangs and drooling mouths.  I tried to think of donkeys and elephants facing off against each other but that picture seemed a bit mild.

Meanwhile, our vacationing president and congressional leaders sit idly by as our debit continues to climb.  At least our congressional folks are out mingling with the common folk.  They might be getting some sense of direction from what they are hearing.  Martha’s Vineyard doesn’t strike me as a place to learn much, especially on the golf course.

Oneupmanship might be in order when things aren’t crumbling all around us.  But not now when the country yearns for some leadership.  For a sense of confidence in Washington, D.C..  Yes, even for some semblance of comfort, hoping our national leaders will stop their venomous ambushes and “man up,” so to speak, and find some good solutions sans finger pointing.

Is that asking too much?  I pray not.


Leading from Behind

17 Aug

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President Obama is leading this country like he plays basketball.  Hanging out in the corner, bobbing and weaving to avoid any major contact, occasionally stopping off to help out the opponent’s cheerleading squad.  He puts on a pretty good show but is unwilling to get in the paint and fight for the ball.

His leadership from day one (maybe to be charitable, day three) has been abysmal.  Those rare times he attempted some semblance of leadership, he failed badly.  Mainly because he just doesn’t seem to radiate any kind of leadership qualities at all.  He shoots from the hip, admitting he doesn’t have all the facts and blundering forward with badly thought out policies.

All, and I mean all, of the major legislation was handed over to Speaker Polosi and Majority Leader Reid.  Even then they had to dredge the depths of political muck in order to cobble together enough votes to pass those monstrosities.  What a joke that was.  Sadly the joke was on us, the citizens of this great nation.

Now I hear he has a speech in the offing (in September) to let us actually see one of his plans on how to turn the ship of state into positive waters.  Where have his ideas been these past two and a half years?  Where has he been in these fights?  Golfing?  Fund raising?  Escaping from Michelle’s restrictive diets?  Holding extravagant parties in the White House?  Vacationing?

In spite of the fact that he is constantly giving speeches almost daily (usually trying to absolve himself of any responsibility for our economic conundrum) it’s hard to sift out any substantial contribution that he is making toward leading this country.

Suggesting he is leading from behind is more than generous.  It implies at least a tad bit of leadership skills.  But let’s give him a chance.  Who knows, he might figure out which direction to go in order to find the front of the line.  Doubtful, but certainly within the realm of possibilities.


Hypotheticals: Useful or Useless?

13 Aug

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Hypothetical: “base on, or serving as a hypothesis…..supposed but not necessarily real or true”  So states the dictionary in my word processor.

The use of hypotheticals is common place when “ideas” or “positions” are being set forth.  The intent is to try to get a handle on what the outcome might be if some imagined or somewhat comparable set of circumstances exist.  In other words, “what would you have done if presented this problem or something very similar to it?”

Hypotheticals can be used to add clarity as to how someone might act under the described conditions, provide a sense of confidence in how someone might behave under those conditions, or add doubt as to the appropriateness of how one might have dealt with the issue.

If the hypothetical is presented by the “author” of the idea, one could expect it to show how a positive outcome would result.  If, on the other hand, it is presented by an antagonist it is likely presented to prove that a negative outcome will occur.  And then there is always the possibility that it is presented by an impartial participant merely seeking some understanding of how a person might handle the situation.

As a rule, I don’t like the use of hypotheticals.  Why?  Because the set of facts the responder is faced with fall outside the range that he or she is likely to accept.  Yet the answer sought is usually confined to a simple yes or no.  That is neither fair, nor does it solicit an answer that produces any meaningful information.

A case in point.  During the last debate of the Republican presidential hopefuls this hypothetical (or something close to it) was presented to the panel.  “Would you have vetoed the Debt Limit Bill presented to President Obama?”  The questioner seemed surprised when all of the candidates raised their hand suggesting they would have.

Now since this was a debate where a simple yes-no answer could be demanded, the candidates all indicated that they would not have allowed such a bill to be approved in the first place.  Now what did we learn from this hypothetical?  Virtually nothing, other than confirmation that the questioner did not get the answer he was seeking, i.e., they would have done the same thing that Obama did.

Let me ask hypothetically: “If a man is facing an armed man which is shooting a gun at him, is it legal for him to shoot that man in selfdefense?”  Yes or no?  A yes-no answer would provide no meaningful information.  What if that man was a police officer and the man shooting at him was an escaped prisoner?  What if that man was a bank robber and the armed man was a police officer?  Or, what if each man was fighting in a war?  Even then it would be nice to know if each man was on the same side or not wouldn’t it?

My point is that hypothetical questions rarely contain information that describe a set of circumstances that are likely to occur at another place or another time, or to another person.  In other words, why bother even asking that kind of question?

I think that more often than not this kind of meaningless maneuver yields a worthless result.  It is a waste of time and is, at least to me, irritating.


Is Your Net-worth going Down?

11 Aug

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So why be so surprised?  We are letting our country be de-valued day by day.  Our credit rating is going to pot.  I fear we’ve just seen the start of a series of rating downgrades.

Are you upset with the way the credit raters are holding a hammer over our heads?  Don’t be.  After all, would you loan your hard earned money to anybody that is so deeply in debt?  How long do you think other countries, or other investors for that matter, will be willing to shuck out money to help us satisfy our appetite to spend, spend, spend?

The only reason they might do that is to get us so indebted to them that we will have to dance to their tune.  Heck, we are already financing China’s military with all the interest they are taking from us.  Maybe they will soon be demanding that we vote the way they want us to at the UN.  Or maybe drop our support for Taiwan.  Or send more of our work force over there.  Or, perhaps more importantly, agree to change the international monetary base to something other than the dollar.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that our markets are getting blasted because the Tea Party held tough on the Debt Limit increase.  Or that we aren’t eager to increase taxes.  No, the reason is that we have gone bananas with our spending.

On the other hand, it doesn’t take much to spook the markets.  They have no problem dropping out of sight overnight.  But they never regain their past levels any time soon.  What do you think it will take to calm them down enough to start a consistent move up?

I’m guessing they won’t begin to climb until the air of uncertainty created by Obama’s administration comes to an end.  Its unflinching desire to regulate and tax us out of existence must stop.  Unfortunately that may not happen until January, 2013.

In the meantime, let’s hope we don’t have to wait that long.  Let’s pray the big spenders wake up and smell the roses (actually the smell is of another origin somewhat closer to the bottom of things).  Perhaps our congressional leaders will get an ear full during their five week vacation and come back ready to go to work bitting some bullets.  There is no reason for them to wait for the super-committee of twelve to do its job for them.

So as our net-worths tumble, and or debts rise, we find ourselves at the mercy of an ever growing and severely bloated government.  And we will continue being pummeled about until we let our elected politicians know that it is okay for them to cut spending, even in our entitlements.

Sure Obama inherited a bad situation, but he made it worse and now he clearly owns it.  He and Congress must quit dilly-dallying around and get down to business.  The business of putting our nation back on a sound financial footing.  One that will propel us back into the leadership role that we were once accustomed to.  We do that and our future will be in good shape.


First and Ten; Not a Touchdown

06 Aug

Just a gentle reminder that the raising of the Debt Limit, while a victory of sorts for the Tea Party movement and the Republican Party it is not the end of the game.  There is much that yet needs to be accomplished before we get the debt problem settled.

In the final analysis it appears that there may be some actual cuts in the measure just passed, but most of the cuts will be taken in the out years, i.e., 2013 & 2014.  That kind of “savings” is pretty scary.

Even more scary is the fact that should this new “super committee” not reach agreement on time, the automatic cuts laid out in the bill just passed will take a large chunk out of our defense spending.  That kind of a cut would severely cripple our ability to defend ourselves.  And, the rest of the cuts that will be automatic are of the “across the board” type which rarely results in a satisfactory solution.

As the deadline for this committee nears, the pressure will build for it to come up with the solution.  Past experience tells me that at times like these the deals made to secure enough votes for passage makes for bad legislation.  The patch work of actions needed to meet the required reductions might resemble that of the ObamaCare bill.  That is to say we won’t really know what’s in the measure until it gets passed and signed into law.

But, when the Democrats fumbled the political football the Republicans took over on their own thirty yard line.  The past few plays have yielded several yards, enough in fact for a first and ten.  But the ball is not even mid-field yet.  There will be plenty of opportunities to fumble the ball or to throw an interception.  Whatever the conservatives do, they better not wait until the clock is about to run out.  A Hail Mary pass is very dangerous.

So let us celebrate the fact that we have advanced the ball a few yards.  But the time for a victory dance has not yet come.  We must be vigilant, persistent, and patient.  Let’s not get overly celebratory about our accomplishments so far.  There is still much to do.


How to Generate Innovation

03 Aug

President Obama wants to stimulate the growth of “Green” energies.  To do this he feels it necessary to dish out a bunch of federal money to various entities with the intent to foster new methods or ways to transform our energy network in a manner he feels desirable.

He has thrown billions of dollars and hopes to toss out billions more to companies he thinks will come up with the right ideas.  General Electric, for example, is one of his favorites.  Jeffrey Immelt, GE’s past leader and currently Obama’s Jobs Czar has had Obama in his pocket going way back to when GE helped get him elected.  (Ever wonder why GE was able to pay no income taxes last year?)  But the his list of favorites is long.  And the gifts are many.

Not only does Obama feel he has picked the right companies to lavish his “green” (dollars that is) on, he seems to be utterly convinced that he knows just which products should end up being the winner.  He is so sure of himself that he has totally eliminated any carbon based product as a possible contributor to the solution.  Not only is he doling out tons of money, his minions are ginning up reams and reams of regulations to thwart carbon based solutions.

I suggest that the President take a different approach.  Well, on second thought, I’m sure he wouldn’t like this approach as he would not be able to control the outcome, so I’ll suggest that our government take a different approach.  It has been tried before, though not usually by government, and it has worked quite well.

First, let me state that I’m not at all sure the government ought to be a major contributor to funding this kind of research effort.  Letting the market place figure out how to move ahead in this area is a much better approach.

However, if the government wishes to continue to undertake such a task then here is what I’d recommend.  Make this offer to any and all comers:  $500,000,000,000 (tax free of course) is up for grabs to the first presenter of a method or rationale which is both practical and an economically feasible idea to produce and or save energy.  Now I know I haven’t covered all of the ins and outs of such a proposal, but I think you get the idea.

Look what happened when a newspaper offered what seemed like a hugh amount of money to the first person that crossed the Atlantic ocean non-stop.  It set forth a competition that involved many people and organizations.  And many more ways and means to accomplish the task were generated as well.

The idea is to offer enough money that the resources of hundreds of people and organizations will get focused on the idea, not just the select few that Obama taps.  If there is one thing that this country is good at, it’s turning loose the brainpower and energy of anyone that’s interested enough to invest their time and effort on solving our problems.

Anyway, I believe that by not limiting our precious and limited money to a select few we would be much more successful letting everyone take a shot at solving our problems.  Usually the profit motive is enough to get things going, but if the pot needs to be sweetened a bit, then this just might be the way to do it.


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