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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Death of Liberalism?

I've written before about the stark fiscal realities facing many states. Either they cut spending and ask for union concessions, or they lose their tax-paying populations and businesses to neighboring states. Which obviously doesn't solve their fiscal problems, and only compounds other problems such as unemployment, the need for public aid, etc. Liberalism (unlimited hand-outs) doesn't work in the long term, when too many people expect handouts and too few people are paying for it.

The American Spectator's lead article today, JFK and the Death of Liberalism, speculates that if JFK hadn't been murdered, liberalism would be a lot better off.
In short, one wonders. Did the bullets that killed JFK hit another target -- liberalism itself? Unlike JFK, not killing liberalism instantly but inflicting something else infinitely more damaging than sudden death? Or, as Tyrrell puts it, inflicting "a slow, but steady decline of which the Liberals have been steadfastly oblivious."
 Interesting idea. Read it. The whole thing. I give you part of the conclusion to peak your interest, though there is honestly so much great analysis and comparison between the setting then and now that you really must read it. I beg you!
Would JFK have let the arrogant liberal elitism that was bubbling under the surface of his own administration metastasize to so many American institutions -- including his own party -- had he lived?

Would he have sat silently as the liberal culture turned against the vast American middle and working blue collar class and its values, sending JFK voters into the arms of Republicans in seven out of twelve of the elections following his own?

Would he have fought the subtle but distinct change of his famous inaugural challenge from "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" to what it has now become: "ask not what you can do for your country, ask what service your government can provide you?"

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Let's Look at Jobs Another Way

You know how the liberals are off castigating Romney for Bain? For investing in failing businesses? And most grow but some fail? The entire liberal premise is that Romney and Bain and other private equity groups WANT to destroy companies and get all the money they can out of it. It doesn't matter how many Republicans try to explain this or private equity CEOs try to explain this, they just don't understand (or refuse to understand for the sake of their underinformed voters) that no one wins when a company folds.
Romney has about an 80% success record in saving businesses that were going bankrupt when they asked Bain for help turning things around. In the end, he created a net 100,000 jobs by successfully turning around most of these businesses that Bain helped during his time with the company. Sometimes that meant that companies had to scale down their number of employees for awhile, but don't forget that the alternative was to fire all employees as the company folds. In successful turnarounds, a profitable company can expand and hire more workers.
Now. Liberals accuse these companies of being in it for profit, for wealth, and not for creating jobs. Of course!
Rush Limbaugh had a caller yesterday on his program who explained this profit business more clearly than I've heard elsewhere:
CALLER: Yeah, I was just calling to make a correlation that everybody wants wealth creation over job creation. If an employee wanted job creation over wealth creation, they'd simply ask for the lowest wage possible so that every employer could create more jobs for the company.
RUSH: You know, this is an interesting point and one of the reasons that I wanted to take your call first, because I think you're really on to something. I think you're on to much more than maybe even you realize. Your observation is by no means insignificant. It's very significant. Americans want wealth creation over job creation. Would you say again what you expressly mean by that.
CALLER: That every single person, when they get a job, they're looking for the highest wage that they individually can get. They're not trying to look for the lowest wage so the company can create the most jobs. It's simple, natural, healthy self-interest.
What does this really tell us? It tells us that liberals have their premise wrong. Starting with the wrong premise will certainly not take us to the right conclusion, which is a growing economy and jobs.
Everyone acts in their own self-interest, but this helps other people along the way because the economy grows in wealth and jobs when we do this. This is capitalism. Every single job that was ever created in this country was made because of the pursuit of wealth! It's not like the alternative is working: all of Obama's government investments (err, taxpayer investments) in green energy (Solyndra is just the start) are going bust, costing their investors (again, us) and their employees.

*Congrats to Romney on officially wrapping up the GOP nomination with Texas. A longer primary hasn't hurt Republicans or voters at all, and people are coalescing behing Romney without a hitch. Rather, people have learned more about each candidate much earlier than they did under the old system, and were able to vote accordingly. Now our candidate is well vetted. Better vetted, in fact, than our current president. We're ready for this general election!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Recall the recall?

I've talked before about the recall election in Wisconsin, and how Walker's and deputy Kleefisch's reforms have saved the state over $1B thus far by introducing things like voluntary union participation, union members contributing small amounts towards pensions and insurance like the private sector does, and the break from union-chosen monopolies in health insurance and other services. Competition in these markets has driven prices down dramatically and saved the state. Still, unions appear not to want to be part of the solution to their state's fiscal problems and have cost the taxpayers in Wisconsin millions in the recall effort with assorted legal fees and the cost of running extra elections.

What do the majority of people in Wisconsin think about this? They think it's a waste of money. They think that elected officials should be able to serve out their terms. Tea Party activists from around the country are not in Wisconsin canvassing neighborhoods and find all sorts of support in their effort to ban recall elections. Recalls are a waste of money and time that could be spent doing other things!

Think, as an example only, if President Obama were subject to recall. He is less popular than Governor Walker, and his signature efforts are less popular than Governor Walker's. He is less successful in turning around the economy and defict than Governor Walker too - he hasn't even tried to reign in the spending and deficit. Ridiculous, you think? Then so is recall anywhere else. Impeachment has a time and a place, to be sure, but recall? Only in the minds of liberals disconnected from what voters want: fiscal responsibility!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Government Interference

Remember when a couple months ago the feds told parents in some school districts that they couldn't send certain foods in their children's lunches? And replaced it with a less-healthy school lunch?

Remember a few years ago when a Democratic Congress and president shoved Obamacare down our throats against the will of the people? And now insurance premiums are higher because Obamacare forces insurance to cover more expensive, elective procedures?

Remember when the BP spill happened how Obama put an oil-drilling moratorium on federal lands that still exists today? And how he's been exporting oil at a time our own prices are double what they were when he took office?

Remember a couple weeks ago when a teacher screamed at her student that complaining about President Obama is treason and he should be arrested?

Now a report has come out of a list of words you'd better not use if you don't want the Department of Homeland Security spying on you. And they're normal kinds of words. Ridiculous! Read more about it here.

I don't understand people who genuinely want Big Government. I don't. I don't want it and I can't understand why people would want a nanny state that interferes with everything! If someone is to the point that they want government to supply all their needs and telling them what to do rather than being self-sufficient those people would be better suited to living in a dictatorship, not a democracy.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Some distinctions concerning Mormon lexicon

In many media articles I see about Mormons or Mormonism, the authors confuse the gospel, the Church, and the sub-culture that is Mormonism. This is understandable, and they're difficult to define. It's confusing even for members of the LDS Church! Still, it is important to understand these differences as you read reports about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its members and its beliefs, because if you don't you'll get a completely faulty understand of who we are.

First: the gospel of Jesus Christ is the body of knowledge from God to help us return to Him. Gospel, also known as doctrine, never changes.

Second: the Church is the organization put in place by God, run by Church members, to teach the gospel. The Church and its leaders and policies may change over time. Being made up of humans, the Church is not perfect and neither are its leaders, but the goal is to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ despite human failings.

Third: the culture of Mormonism is most pronounced in places with a high concentration of Mormons and a low concentration of converts. The culture doesn't have much in common with the Church or the gospel, and it is the reason for the reputation of Mormons being insular, judgemental, and exclusive.  Some aspects of the culture (such as these failings) do not mesh well with the gospel.

I hope that helps a bit.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

GOP: Civil Rights Follow-up

Monday this week I highlighted Kevin Williamson's article about the GOP being the party of civil rights. Well, his article has stirred up so much response in the liberal news world, that he's written another one. It is awesome. Read it. He's got a link to his first article there if you missed it.
In this follow-up he specifically tackles the liberals' accusations attempting to explain away his asserition that the GOP stood for civil rights while the Democrats opposed it. Here are the three main accusations, as quoted from his article.
  • Sure, Republicans were good on civil rights for a long time, but those were liberal Republicans, so you can’t claim them, since they’d be Democrats now.
  • It wasn’t a Republican/Democrat dispute, it was a North/South dispute.
  • If Republicans were really good on civil rights, why did blacks stop voting for them?
Great questions with great answers. Read it. Quoting a bit of it really wouldn't do it justice, so I won't.

Friday, May 25, 2012

I See a Need

Breitbart is doing a terrific job with The Vetting. Referring, of course, to the vetting of our current president which never happened in 2008. And still doesn't happen. News media would rather dig up dirt on Ann Romney's horse than find out what Obama did or said at any time in his past. Go Breitbart!

I've been visiting many conservative news sites and editorial sites for quite a few months. Typically, these sites respond to factual inaccuracies printed in the news media. Never in any of these places do I see positive reporting of Mitt Romney except Deseret News, based in Utah. I see reviews and editorials about what the liberal press publishes about Mitt Romney. Some of these are positive, most are not. Republicans can never trust the press to report on an event accurately and are fools if they trust that what liberals say about Romney is any more true than what they say about the economy. Liberal reporters pick out a few 'controversial' statements of Romney's, gaffes, or things that don't match up with the liberal world view and report those. The result is that most of the information we have readily available about Mitt Romney in this country is limited to his own campaign site and news media.

I see a big problem here. There are many conservatives who still think that Romney is what the liberal press says he is. He is not. This is a problem because if the Republican base isn't excited to vote for Romney, they might stay home. Largely, it seems that the Republican base is fired up to vote against Obama, so this may not be a huge problem, but it will still affect the outcome of this election.

From what little I've seen of Romney on television or the few pro-Romney reports I've seen, I'd say that the liberal press is grossly inadequate in painting Romney's character, for example. The labels they assign him are likewise inaccurate. Hence conservatives are surprised that Romney is now making rapid-fire responses to Obama's negative ads about him, making his own positive ads, and continually directing people to think about why Obama isn't talking about his own record. I am not surprised by this. It matches what I know about him, which I only know from following sites like Deseret News and the very few pro-Romney articles I've seen published in leftist papers online.

I suggest that we conservatives cover Romney in addition to blowing liberal myths out of the water. Both are important.

Not that I'm a reporter or have the means to follow his campaign around the country. But you get the idea, I hope! It's not like Politico and similar leftist sites aren't covering both pro-Obama and anti-Romney news. Conservative sites would be wise to including pro-Romney reports alongside their anti-Obama editorials and reports.


*The WSJ must have read my mind. See Mitt Romney's Moment.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blue Model Disintigration

Today's post draws from two separate but related editorials. First, the Blue Model Breakdown at  Buckeye Institute. The background is that the Blue Model is the need for growing government welfare programs, as begun following WWII.
The blue model was the prevailing way of things beginning in the late 1940s. It was epitomized by big companies, growing prosperity, and life time job security. And as the wealth that was produced in the private sector grew, much of it spilled over into the public-sector. This in turn allowed local and state governments to grow both in size and in generosity to those in their employ. These happy days went on until the 1970s, at which time the blue model started to breakdown for the private sector.

In retrospect, it is clear that the blue model was possible only because, after WWII, the U.S. was the only nation with an industrial base able to meet world demand. As Europe and Japan recovered, however, this started to change. And the pace of change rapidly accelerated as heretofore undeveloped nations like China, India, South Korea, Brazil, and so on, with billions of people, started to industrialize and compete in the world market.
The end of the Blue Model is manifest by the separation between public sector benefits and private sector benefits. The money just isn't there anymore! Something has to give.
Simply put, the blue model is unsustainable. The compensation, the benefits, and privileges that were afforded to government workers was possible only with an unusually healthy and robust private sector which itself was made possible by the lack of serious foreign competition. That world no longer exists, nor is it ever likely to again. Governors like John Kasich (Ohio) and Scott Walker (Wisconsin) recognize this fact faster than others, but in the end, all states will have to conform to the new reality.

Why? Because, as Mead says, voters simply will not be taxed to cover the costs of blue government. Voters with insecure job tenure and, at best, defined-contribution rather than defined-benefit pensions will simply not pay higher taxes so that government employees can enjoy lifetime tenure and secure pensions. Also, voters will no longer accept the shoddy services that blue government provides (think of public education). Government is going to have to respond to growing ‘consumer’ demand for more user-friendly, customer-oriented approaches.
Exactly. We need to elect more Walkers if we want to return to a growing economy sooner than later. Government has become so big as to be burdensome to the overall well being of the economy. It's trying to soak the citizens for more when the citizens don't have enough to pay - unsustainable again.
Next: Ann Coulter. This week she takes on this Democratic refusal to talk about the facts. The refusal to talk about the money government spends that isn't there. The refusal to admit that Democrats are digging us into a hole. Now, to muddle the minds of Americans, liberal network MSNBC is attributing all of Obama's first year of spending to Bush, rather than Obama, and slimming down the money spent in the rest of his time in office to boot.
But Obama didn't come in and live with the budget Bush had approved. He immediately signed off on enormous spending programs that had been specifically rejected by Bush. This included a $410 billion spending bill that Bush had refused to sign before he left office. Obama signed it on March 10, 2009. Bush had been chopping brush in Texas for two months at that point. Marketwatch's Nutting says that's Bush's spending.

Obama also spent the second half of the Troubled Asset Relief Fund (TARP). These were discretionary funds meant to prevent a market meltdown after Lehman Brothers collapsed. By the end of 2008, it was clear the panic had passed, and Bush announced that he wouldn't need to spend the second half of the TARP money.

But on Jan. 12, 2009, Obama asked Bush to release the remaining TARP funds for Obama to spend as soon as he took office. By Oct. 1, Obama had spent another $200 billion in TARP money. That, too, gets credited to Bush, according to the creative accounting of Rex Nutting.

There are other spending bills that Obama signed in the first quarter of his presidency, bills that would be considered massive under any other president -- such as the $40 billion child health care bill, which extended coverage to immigrants as well as millions of additional Americans. These, too, are called Bush's spending

Frustrated that he can't shift all of Obama's spending to Bush, Nutting also lowballs the spending estimates during the later Obama years. For example, although he claims to be using the White House's numbers, the White House's estimate for 2012 spending is $3.795 trillion. Nutting helpfully knocks that down to $3.63 trillion.
Ugh. These numbers make me feel nauseous. Obama is spending 3.8 TRILLION dollars this year alone? How is the total deficit only $15.5T thus far, with over $5T his own? The federal revenue is nowhere near $3T, it's more like $2T if I remember correctly. One thing is abundantly clear to most Americans, and that is all this government spending isn't doing a thing to turn around the economy. It may be keeping it afloat, but sooner or later the debt raft will sink us all unless we cut spending and cut budgets and cut duplicate programs and in general get government out of everyone's hair.
Unsustainable spending is unsustainable spending, and how long are the Democrats planning to keep up this charade and act like adults with our federal budget?

As a bonus: see Politico's Has recall election made Scott Walker a GOP hero?
And another one: USA Today's Real federal deficit dwarfs official tally. Warning: the deficits look much worse if they're not hidden behind Social Security, which is getting robbed blind.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Grammar

This is really neither here nor there but you know what's getting to me these days? A lack of editing. I've seen mistakes all over the internet, right and left!

Media, a hint. People on the fence in their political convictions will be much less distracted or turned off by what you say if it makes sense. Proofread. Edit. Check your apostrophes and quotations. Check your verbs and even your pluralizations. Check your commas. Check your spelling. One expects and tolerates minor (or even major) grammatical problems on a random blog or comment. One doesn't expect or tolerate journalists' errors to nearly the same degree.

I know that people can understand the general idea through bad spelling and the rest, but it really, really helps the reader to be able to focus on the idea and not on the bad grammar.

If anyone in this audience would like to learn more about grammar and proper punctuation, I strongly recommend the book "Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation." It's educationally entertaining!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This is What Desperation Looks Like

LA Times attacking Ann Romney for her horse hobby. She's not running for office.
The Washington Post attacking Mormons for something that happened over 155 years ago. The LDS Church isn't running for office.
Obama's campaign attacking Bain Capital for closing a failing steel plant at a time Romney wasn't at Bain. Bain Capital isn't running for office.
Politico attacking private donors to the Romney campaign. The donors aren't running for office.

The refusal of the national press to cover Obama's past. He is in office.

Let's not forget past attacks on Ann Romney's decision to stay home with her children, Romney's 'bullying' as a teenager - of which there is equal proof of Obama's bullying in childhood, of various aspects or history of the LDS Church, Mitt Romney's grandfather (NOT a polygamist, but Obama's was), Mitt Romney 'flip-flopped' but Obama 'evolves,' ...

All of these instances point to liberal bullying, to me. Liberals are strangely intolerant of anyone who doesn't agree with them even though they preach tolerance for themselves.


This is getting old already. It is entertaining, in its way. But it's only May! Come November what will the liberal media being throwing at us on Obama's behalf? If they're this desperate now, by November they'll have either used up all the 'digs,' or they'll make up new ones.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The GOP: Party of Civil Rights

I've seen plenty of Democrats accuse the GOP of being the party standing in the way of the civil rights movement, ending slavery, etc. That simply is not true. There have been books written on the subject - Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh come to mind. Now the National Review Online has a detailed article debunking this liberal myth that liberals were standing on the 'right' side of history.

Here's the introduction to the detail:
There is no radical break in the Republicans’ civil-rights history: From abolition to Reconstruction to the anti-lynching laws, from the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1875 to the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, and 1964, there exists a line that is by no means perfectly straight or unwavering but that nonetheless connects the politics of Lincoln with those of Dwight D. Eisenhower. And from slavery and secession to remorseless opposition to everything from Reconstruction to the anti-lynching laws, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, the Civil Rights Act of 1875, and the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, there exists a similarly identifiable line connecting John Calhoun and Lyndon Baines Johnson. Supporting civil-rights reform was not a radical turnaround for congressional Republicans in 1964, but it was a radical turnaround for Johnson and the Democrats.
 And the very next paragraph puts the meat on the bones:
Never mind civil rights or voting rights: In Congress, Johnson had consistently and repeatedly voted against legislation to protect black Americans from lynching. As a leader in the Senate, Johnson did his best to cripple the Civil Rights Act of 1957; not having votes sufficient to stop it, he managed to reduce it to an act of mere symbolism by excising the enforcement provisions before sending it to the desk of President Eisenhower. Johnson’s Democratic colleague Strom Thurmond nonetheless went to the trouble of staging the longest filibuster in history up to that point, speaking for 24 hours in a futile attempt to block the bill. The reformers came back in 1960 with an act to remedy the deficiencies of the 1957 act, and Johnson’s Senate Democrats again staged a record-setting filibuster.
Oh, it goes on and on. You probably won't believe (indoctrinated as you have been from liberal's rewriting of history) what history actually shows about the Democrats and Democratic Party, what they've said and done, not that this article contains a comprehensive list. You'd better just read it yourself. The article explores both parties in light of changes in voter blocs over time.

The conclusion of the article is what Republicans have been saying for decades: Democrats 'buy' black votes through welfare. And as Herman Cain said, he left the plantation.
Democrats might argue that some of these concerns — especially welfare and crime — are “dog whistles” or “code” for race and racism, but this criticism is shallow in light of the evidence and the real saliency of those issues among U.S. voters of all backgrounds and both parties for decades. Indeed, Democrats who argue that the best policies for black Americans are those that are soft on crime and generous with welfare are engaged in much the same sort of cynical racial calculation President Johnson was practicing when he informed skeptical southern governors that his plan for the Great Society was “to have them niggers voting Democratic for the next two hundred years.” Johnson’s crude racism is, happily, largely a relic of the past, but his strategy endures.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Mormon on the cover of Sports Illustrated

Jabari Parker is, according to SI, the most promising high school player since Lebron James. But there is something more important to him than basketball: his faith. When we lived in Chicago, we attended church with him and his family. His mother taught my child in the children's Sunday School for awhile. I watched him grow about a foot during our time there. I remember when his brother Christian came home from serving a 2-year mission in Atlanta. I remember hearing about Jabari's talent on the court and his stardom as a much younger player than his average teammate. Not that you would ever know it from how he acts around other people. As the SI story points out, he doesn't talk himself up and tries to help people around him. It's part of who he is.
The SI article is awesome because it highlights a genuinely wonderful kid in the LDS Church, who also happens to be African American. Read it! It's the kind of story about Mormons you won't see picked up by news media, given their position against Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

As a follow-up, consider reading Vai's View discussing Jabari, professional Mormon athletes, missionary service, and more. Vai is a fellow Mormon who played in the NFL for years before becoming a TV host and sports writer.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Who is Obama?

If you haven't noticed, Breitbart's discovery of Obama's literary bio has created all sorts of dialogue and confusion across the country. This bio used up until 2007 said Obama was born in Kenya, raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. Is that a big deal, in and of itself? Is it a big deal that this literary agent's standard operation procedure is to have authors write their own biographies, and at minimum would have edited it several times?
'Birthers' are all up in arms (see the comment section at this RedState post) because if Obama really wasn't born in the United States, he is not allowed to be the president according to the Constitution. True fact. However, they don't seem to understand that this is a moot point, since he's already the president. But yes, it's a big deal in the sense that Obama is our president illegally if he really was born in Kenya. Not that anybody can really do anything about it either way, that I know of. It's not a criminal offense, nor is it an impeachable offense given the current occupants of the House and the Senate. Especially since he has an American mother who guarantees him citizenship here either way.
What many other conservatives have said, I echo. The big deal is that Obama lies and their is too much we still don't know about him. Either he lied on his bio or he lied about his birth in the United States. The fact that this is news now shows a symptom of the larger problem, being that Obama was not vetted by the press. We should have learned about this back in 2008. We should have seen any number of other troubling things about Obama investigated in 2008, such as his strong connections to terrorist Saul Alinsky or penchant for socialism and communism.
It's a symptom of a larger problem, that we can't trust his actions as president. Obama lied that he was going to cut spending and tackle the deficit. He lied that he would close Guantanamo Bay (not that I mind). He lied that he would end the wars. He lied that his position on gay marriage had 'evolved,' since he had that position as a state senator in Illinois in the '90s. He lied that he would have a presidency more transparent, more open to the press. He lied that he has an 'all of the above' approach to energy. Although, he may genuinely think he does on that last one. Delusionally.
If you still (how could you not!?) believe that the press is not biased or that they do an even job in reporting Democrats and Republicans, consider this. The press (liberal news media) still refuses to report this bio except as a side issue, just like they do with any big story that the conservatives break and they suppress. Just like Edward's affair. Broken by the right, barely acknowledged by the left, belatedly and buried deep in the papers. Just like any scandal of a Democrat. Imagine if it were Romney's birth in question! It would be the front page, top of the fold. Just like that ridiculous front page story last week that Romney is a 'bully' because he played pranks in high school. And unlike the bully story, any question about Romney's birth (remember, we're just pretending) would be kept on the front page for weeks!
If the liberal press wonders why their ratings, viewers, and circulation are falling, they need look no further than their bias. Conservative media doesn't have that problem. Their ratings and viewers increase, no doubt to counter the liberal indoctrination prevailing on TV and in print. And increasingly, for the news that liberals refuse to report.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Brooking Institute Study

A recent study by the Brookings Institute confirms what I had suspected: Mormonism (membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) isn't going to be the big issue for Romney that some people think it is. Yes, Romney lost the evangelical vote in many primaries, but these voters are still overwhelmingly likely to support Romney in the general election.
The primary elections fueled speculation about anti-Mormon bigotry among evangelical voters, but it is important to note that these voters overwhelmingly back the presumptive Republican nominee over incumbent Democrat Barack Obama. Nearly three-fourths of evangelical Christians chose Romney and only 20% chose Obama in trial heats taken shortly after Santorum’s exit from the Republican primary.
These supposedly anti-Romney voters are among the least supportive of the president. Only one in four white, evangelical Christians has favorable opinions of Obama. Indeed, among Republicans who do not think of Mormons as Christians— that is, the subgroup believed most predisposed against Romney—fully 92% have unfavorable opinions of Barack Obama.
This doesn't surprise me in the slightest. Nor does the results of the further study of how people change their voting when presented with more information about Mormonism, whether or not highlighting the differences or similarities between Mormonism and mainstream Christianity. Here is their conclusion:
Our results should not be taken as definitive, particularly because they are not based on a nationally representative sample. But they do suggest that concerns over Mitt Romney’s "religion problem" have been overblown and quite possibly miss a compelling counter-narrative. Romney’s religion does not seem to reduce his support among white evangelicals. Even priming these prospective voters to think about differences between their own faith and the Republican nominee’s does not drive a wedge between them. Instead, information about Romney’s religion may actually increase his support from conservative voters, including among conservative white evangelical Christians. On the other hand, Romney’s religion does not cost him any votes among liberals who are generally not supportive of him anyhow. At the end of the day, it appears that voters’ long-term political preferences matter more for their general election choice than the religious identity of the Republican nominee.
I'm always happy to have my gut instinct backed up with more information! Time will tell, of course, whether religion will hurt or help Romney substantially or not. If this Brookings study is correct on a national level, whether voters are presented with the good, the bad, or the different isn't going to matter that much, and seems to be more helpful than hurtful.

I saw on Buzzfeed that liberals are interpreting this study as Americans don't know much about Mormonism, but what they learn may sway them. Now that the Democrats have declared open season on Mormonism (because a super-PAC plans to use Jeremiah Wright against Obama), be prepared for an ugly campaign season, folks. Don't worry about it, because the conservative media will continue to respond and dispel distortions and lies, but be prepared not to take at face value what the liberals say about the LDS Church or about Romney.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Economy and 'Stimulus'

Yesterday I saw some report up on Politico claiming that Democratic presidents had seen much more job growth with higher taxes than Republicans ever did with low taxes. Considering there are books upon well-researched books clearly showing the opposite, I took this as yet another desparate attempt by the left to take credit for jobs that they had nothing to do with. Take Wisconsin right now: Walker's fixes to the Wisconsin state budget has taxes down, business up, and jobs up. One of the only places in the country like that right now. And can Obama claim credit for that? He'll try, but they're not his successes to claim.

Rush Limbaugh talked about the same thing yesterday. He has up three devastating charts showing that the economy is the opposite of roaring back. The first is a comparison of real GDP between Reagan (tax cuts) and Obama (wasteful government spending), and Reagan's real GDP level is over twice Obama's. The second is the raw total of employed people in America over the past three years. It looks like after the 2009 recession, the jobs came back briefly but they're dying down now to the same low level seen at the worst of 2009. This isn't percentages, here, this is total number of working people. Don't forget that the percentage doesn't directly show there aren't as many jobs to be had, or that many people have given up looking for work. The third chart shows the Civilian Employment to Population Ratio from the US Department of Labor. It flatlines from 63% in 2008 to just between 58% and 59% ever since 2009. There is no recovery. Unless you're a lying Democrat hoping for reelection. I'm calling you out, Obama!

Relatedly, Ann Coulter takes on the public sector 'sacrificial scam.' Basically, public sector employees, far from earning less than private counterparts, are guaranteed so much more in benefits than the private sector that they're compounding the fiscal problems on the federal level, state levels, and local levels. Where's all the talk about 'paying your fair share' now, liberals? I really don't understand why the public sector doesn't want to be part of the solution to our fiscal problems (a la Walker) since they wouldn't get paid once government is flat broke anyway. Maybe they're naive enough to think that could never happen. At least the voters of Wisconsin aren't that naive.
Here's what Rush said yesterday about the scam of Obama's stimulus money intended to help people underwater with their mortgages, as it relates to unions (you could get more of it here):
So, as far as anybody's concerned, people who've been improperly foreclosed on are gonna get help, and that's the last anybody's heard about it, until today, when we find out that in the case of the bank shakedown, the money is going to unions. And nobody ever knows. So Obama gets credit publicly for compassion and wanting to help people out who have fallen on hard times, and all he's doing is creating slush fund after slush fund that's going to his union people. Now, don't forget the circuitous route this money takes. A great percentage of the money given to unions ends up back with the Democrat Party. It's one of the cleverest money laundering schemes I've ever seen.

It finally became clear to me during this brouhaha in the state of Wisconsin. It's been going on for a long time. I just never figured it out. But what happens is this. Obama comes up with a program to help the disadvantaged or the downtrodden or whatever, announces the plan, the money goes to state agencies to distribute, it goes to public sector unions, who do what? They stay employed. The whole point is to make sure that in this dire, down economy union people don't get laid off. Public sector union people primarily, but private sector as well. And the reason Obama doesn't want those people fired is because they pay dues on their salaries.

So the money leaves Washington, it ends up keeping union people employed. They pay dues on the money that their salaries are coming from, and that dues money then ends up as contributions to the Democrat Party. It's a way for Obama to raid the Treasury and have the money take a circuitous route and end up back in his coffers or the party's coffers, laundered through the unions under the guise of bailing out people who have been foreclosed on in this case. That's how it works. Yeah, there's an ideological tie to the unions. I mean socialists hang together.
Apparently even the NYT has figured it out now. Not that they're calling the stimulus sham "money laundering," but that doesn't change the fact that it is money laundering.
And what does Mitt Romney plan to do to remedy the situation we find ourselves in with over $15T in debt, a downgrade, and a poor economy? He granted an interview with National Review Online answering those very questions. He has a plan to get us out of it, and knows what he's talking about. That's better than Obama!

Freedom Attacked by Regulations

Too many laws and regulations are inhibiting to free markets. There is one area of our economy that is flooded with such laws and regulations: medicine. Don't get me wrong, many of these laws are to protect patients, keep our clinics and hospitals as safe as possible, etc. However, the intrusion of government into healthcare has burdened everyone with higher costs and a slower system, as I talked about last week. As a reminder, insurance companies compound the problem by shielding the direct costs to their insurees, except in annually raising premiums.
Let's make a comparison to a profession not yet flooded by government regulations: law. Anyone can go to law school: the nation churns out 7 graduating law students to 1 graduating medical student each year, so it's a flooded market meaning their salaries are depressed on the free market compared to what doctor's pay would be if government didn't interfere. Lawyers can charge what they want, they can charge for emails, phone calls, visits, paperwork - any contact with a client or work for a client. They can bill in 5 minute increments. They don't have government telling them how to do their jobs, though the laws created by government legislators are their business. They have no financial go-between between themselves and their clients. They make an easy six figures as starting lawyers, and many make easy millions once they achieve partner status, not that all lawyers become partner. The latter are figures doctors haven't seen en masse since the '80s. Yes, there are a few cash-only (don't take insurance) physicians at the top of their fields who can still make millions, comparable to law partners, but this is very rare.
Now imagine for a second if doctors could do this sort of thing that lawyers do. Imagine if doctors could bill you directly for phone calls, emails, visits, paperwork, and could bill you directly. It might change how you thought of their services, or sought their services! I'm not saying they should do this, necessarily. But if anyone has a 'right' to earn more for working long hours to help other people by healing them it is doctors. But, no. Lawyers (most legislators are lawyers - some of them multimillionaires from suing doctors, like John Edwards) make sure that their law practices are not burdened by regulations while medicine is, by the same hands.

Instead, doctors see their pay shrinking annually. Right now, the average amount a doctor takes home is about $200k. It's closer to $100k-$120k for family practice physicians, pediatrics, and geriatrics. Under the alterations hiding within Obamacare's changes to Medicare, doctors who use hospitals for their practice can expect to see their pay plummet to $120k on average, working even more hours than they do already with even more bureaucratic hassles.

Doctors, beyond the daily rigors of their practice, have hours of paperwork (or computer work) to comply with state and federal government regulations. This makes for very, very long days. This makes for days that are half uncompensated, because doctors are not paid directly for their work outside of visits with patients. The big resulting change in medicine right now is for doctors to give up their failing private practices (and paperwork responsibilities) to join big groups with secretaries and nurses hired and trained to handle all those sorts of things such as Kaiser and other such hospital groups across the country. You can expect to see more of that. You can expect to see shorter doctor visits. You can expect to see these changes whether or not Obamacare is struck down or repealed, unless or until legislators restore more free market principles to healthcare, as I talked about last week.

Rush Limbaugh talked about the deleterious effect of Obamacare upon insurance companies yesterday, by the way. More backup to what I said last week.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Obama's announcement

According to the news media, the jury is still out on whether broaching this topic will hurt Obama or help him, but they love to tout how Obama is raising Hollywood money off of it and one in six of his big bundlers are gay also. According to the polls, it hurts Obama. Romney's crossed into 50% territory since then, leaving Obama in the low 40% area. Even supposed swing state North Carolina has Romney up 8 over Obama, and this in the state hosting the Democratic National Convention!

Obama's announcement didn't change a darn thing. He leaves the issue with the states. He doesn't sign any executive order or do anything at all but talk. The only thing that has changed is the attitude of the LGTB community, that for the first time we have a president 'on their side.' With the LGTB community comprising an estimated 5% at most of our country, it is no surprise that only 7% of the country thinking that this issue is the top issue we face. Congratulattions, Obama. You've secured an estimated 7% of the vote that you already had in the bag.

On Romney's end, his statement opposing gay marriage or civil unions which are equal to marriage has brought him an unprecedented level of support from the Christian right. I don't know why they're surprised by his position, since he's had it all along. But whatever, his numbers of secured voters is climbing, including in the South which is largely Christian. Something that many of the LGTB community and their friends fail to understand is that these Christians, including Mormons, believe that the definition of marriage was given by God. It cannot be subject to change. This doesn't mean that Christians believe in discrimination in the workplace, etc. but it does mean that no amount of time is going to change their converted-to-Christ minds to an acceptance of gay marriage.

By the way, Romney's position on homosexuality is entirely consistent with the position of the LDS Church.

Breitbart has up a nice editorial going over Romney's record with homosexuals. Leading paragraph:
If Mitt Romney hates homosexuals as much the Washington Post contends, why has he gone out of his way to treat them humanely and with respect all throughout his professional career?
Good question. Maybe the Washington Post is wrong? (They are.) As Romney said, homosexuality was the last thing on anyone's mind in the '60's. His record on homosexuality? Tolerance.
While Romney’s gay adversaries are more than willing to paint him as a bigot for endorsing traditional marriage, it’s worth pointing out that homosexual marriage wasn’t even on the table in 1994 when Romney met with the Log Cabin Republicans. It’s the radical gay left’s and Barack Obama’s position that has evolved, not Romney’s position: tolerance, not marriage.

Romney was particularly inclusive during the 2002 Winter Olympics. “On one occasion,” Romney wrote in his memoir Turnaround, our [Salt Lake Olympic Committee] board of directors was meeting in a building that I had learned was next door to the headquarters for the Salt Lake City chapter of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance. After the meeting, I walked into the GLA office and asked if they would consider helping recruit volunteers for the Games. They jumped at the opportunity.”
You could read more of Romney's record on the subject if you're interested by using the link.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ridiculoso!

I just saw the funniest thing. Or, it would be funny if it weren't real. A group of illegal aliens is suing the Senate because of the filibuster blocking legislation, specifically the DREAM Act, from passing. How illegal aliens have a right to sue a government that isn't theirs is beyond me. It's at the expense of all (legal) taxpayers, since the Senate would be defended by federal lawyers. Oh, the irony of not only having US citizens demand to have more of their money spent for them contributing to our out-of-control federal deficit of beyond $15T, but illegal aliens too! Not that we taxpayers don't already cover a large quantity of their expenses such as public schools and public health care and public transportation and you get the point.

This is backwards and doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Did you know it is a crime to be an illegal alien in Mexico and anyone caught faces jail time? I think even the death penalty is part of it if an illegal alien commits a violent crime. I'm sure with a law like this that no illegal alien would be allowed to sue the Mexican government at Mexican taxpayers' expense. Nor would illegal aliens be granted public services. Smart Mexican government.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The press will never learn

Remember how I'm Mormon? And how I encourage people to not take 'facts' about Mormons seriously unless they come from good sources like mormon.org and mormonnewsroom.org? OK. I didn't even see this article when it came out last week from Callahan at New York Post, but it fails to do justice to the topic (A Mormon in the White House) because of the lack of reputable sources and subsequent faulty information and conclusions! She attempts (poorly) to explain the differences between temple worship and church worship, and the responsbilities LDS members have in their congregations. I saw her article yesterday after I read a Deseret News article by Joseph Walker published in response to it. Walker does a great job explaining most of Callahan's article's deficiencies and lies point by point, so I'll use the first example from that list to give you an idea.
Callahan wrote: "There are 136 Mormon temples in the world, though most members worship at one of the thousands of smaller churches … " She erred by suggesting LDS temples and meetinghouses are functionally interchangable, going so far as to say that "there are rooms for Sunday services" in the temples – which is simply not true. In fact, LDS temples are closed on Sundays. On the Newsroom website Callahan would have found articles explaining Mormon worship services and the respective purposes of temples and chapels.
Walker does a great job of identifying and correcting misunderstanding, and he correctly identifies the problem Callahan faced in accurately representing Church policies and procedures without using resources like mormonnewsroom.org. Realistically, are journalists going to use LDS Church resources when writing about Mormons? Probably not.

Not once did Callahan quote a reputable source for her 'facts' about the Mormons. Instead, she wrote without disclosing her sources, excepting one liberal Mormon journalist whose ideas and views are not always reflective of the LDS Church itself. I don't think this LDS person is trying to be divisive, but it comes across that way at times. This is news media, after all. We all need to be careful not to allow the media or anyone else to lead us, as Mormons or Americans to create rifts. The heart of the LDS faith, like the rest of Christianity, is to follow Jesus Christ. If you're curious about what Mormons believe, value, do at church, or anything else then go to the source. NOT the press. Most of the press has a vested interest in causing problems for Romney and accuracy wouldn't fit their templates.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

To each and every woman who has ever tended a child, held a hand, done too many dishes and loads of laundry, got up at night to comfort a child, eased sickness when sick herself, and all those other things mothers do. No matter if we are rich or poor, working or home, single or married, sick or well: the world is a better place for the children we love and serve and teach. The world is a better place because of us.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Too Big To Fail

Remember how certain people (most of our politicians and all of their banking friends) were certain that Wall Street was too big to fail and everyone's retirement would be in jeopardy if Wall Street wasn't bailed out with TARP? Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. While we can never know how much would have been lost without TARP, what we do know is that our federal government, courtesy of the taxpayers of America, have bailed out an entity that would do it all again. JP Morgan just lost $2B in bad bets, risking their money knowing that they are too big to fail and the taxpayers would be forced to bail them out again!

The Business Insider's Henry Blodget reports, "And Now We Know the Truth About Wall Street: It's Just Kids Playing with Dynamite." First the recap of what JP Morgan said back then:
The idiocy of a handful of gamblers should not be construed as a problem with the system as a whole, institutions like JP Morgan said.
Well-run banks should be trusted not to be so colossally reckless and stupid. Well-run banks should be allowed to manage their own risks. Well-run banks should not be hammered with strait-jacket regulations that would stymie their marvelous money-making innovation. Well-run banks should be free to look after themselves, like responsible adults.
And the banking lobbying engine rushed this message to Washington and threw money around. And the lobby quickly persuaded Congress that Wall Street was fine, that the financial crisis was an aberration, that Wall Street should be left alone.
Well, as Henry Blodget points out, we should have known better. Next he points out the biggest flaws in the system.
There are two reasons for this, neither of which boil down to the "stupidity" that most people generally assume is involved. The bankers who place these bets are anything but stupid.
  • The first reason is that the gambling instruments the banks now use are mind-bogglingly complicated. Warren Buffett once described derivatives as "weapons of mass destruction." And those weapons have gotten a lot more complex in the past few years.
  • The second reason is that Wall Street's incentive structure is fundamentally flawed: Bankers get all of the upside for winning bets, and someone else—the government or shareholders—covers the downside.
The second reason is particularly insidious. The worst thing that can happen to a trader who blows a huge bet and demolishes his firm—literally the worst thing—is that he will get fired. Then he will immediately go get a job at a hedge fund and make more than he was making before he blew up the firm.
Meanwhile, if the trader's bet works—and the bigger the better—he'll look like a hero and collect an absolutely massive bonus.
 So what do we do about this? In my own opinion with no banking knowledge, I say we let Wall Street know in no uncertain terms that the taxpayers (federal government) won't be insuring their investments anymore. This is what Henry Blodget suggests:
Congress needs to:
  • Radically increase bank capital requirements, so even massive bets can't threaten the system
  • Once again, separate "banking" from Wall Street gambling. Glass Steagall worked very well for 70 years—let's bring it back.
  • Lay out a plan, in advance, to manage the failure of even the largest financial institutions—by stepping in, seizing the bank, firing management, zeroing out shareholders, haircutting bondholders, and then injecting new SENIOR capital (fully protected) and re-floating or selling off the firm. This will allow the entity to keep operating, and it will stick the losses where they belong—with the idiots who bought the bank's stock or loaned it money. Meanwhile, the systemic threat will be eliminated.
And if the people in Congress do nothing? We know where their allegiances lie, and that they don't want to change a thing. And we vote them out of office.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Growth versus Decline

I keep a sharp eye out for data that shows what conservatives know in their guts. Yesterday, RedState put up a post with such information: two charts. One of them has the state expenditures as a percentage of state (private sector) GDP. The other has the per capita income growth for the same states. You guessed it: the states with higher spending per GDP had lower growth. Government spending doesn't breed economic prosperity. Redstate often puts up information such as this, check it out.

The Washington Post published something astonishing (for them) yesterday: Taxing jobs out of existence. Impressive, don't you think? Even though it is in the opinion section, George Will puts in plenty of hard data concerning the economic effects of Obamacare-funding taxes.
In 2010, however, Congress, ravenous for revenue to fund Obamacare, included in the legislation a 2.3 percent tax on gross revenue — which generally amounts to about a 15 percent tax on most manufacturers’ profits — from U.S. sales of medical devices beginning in 2013. This will be piled on top of the 35 percent federal corporate tax, and state and local taxes. The 2.3 percent tax will be a $20 billion blow to an industry that employs more than 400,000, and $20 billion is almost double the industry’s annual investment in research and development.
And the end result?
Cook Medical is no longer planning to open a U.S. factory a year. Boston Scientific, planning for a more than $100 million charge against earnings in 2013, recently built a $35 million research and development facility in Ireland and is building a $150 million factory in China. (Capital goes where it is welcome and stays where it is well-treated.) Stryker Corp., based in Michigan, blames the tax for 1,000 layoffs. Zimmer, based in Indiana, is laying off 450 and taking a $50 million charge against earnings. Medtronic expects an annual charge against earnings of $175 million. Covidien, now based in Ireland, has cited the tax in explaining 200 layoffs and a decision to move some production to Costa Rica and Mexico.
He goes on about which Congressman are now in favor of repealing the tax, but you could read that yourself. My point is simply that taxation and spending do not and can not bring growth! For all those railing against corporate profits (what do they want - bankrupt companies taxed to death and more layoffs!?) and corporations moving jobs off-shore, you should look no further than your bloated, out-of-touch federal government.

PS. You may notice I refuse to be distracted away from the economy by the phony issues brought up by Obama and the Washington Post in regards to Romney's position on gays, and in reference to an 'alleged' incident that accuses Romney of being a bully in high school. To that, I answer with this. Breitbart has tons of this debunking posts up right now in answer to the nefarious, inaccurate article by the Washington Post.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Incentives

Our healthcare system is set up backwards. You see, with insurance companies standing between patients and health care, the patients don't see the direct or total costs of care. We think that it costs only the $20 co-pay instead of thinking about the $200 visit to see the doctor, not counting any lab work or procedures. This disconnect drives prices higher on the insurance company end because we use more services than we really need. Do people who frequent the ER really need emergency care? Not more than half the time. Urgent care or calling for a standard doctor's appointment would suit most patients' needs with much less cost. The real cost of going to the ER is upwards of $1000 if not more, depending on which hospital and where it is, etc. Not a $50-$100 co-pay. The cost to the consumer has been disconnected from the cost to the provider and is hidden within the continually escalating health insurance premiums.

Why are ER costs so high? Well, beyond the more expensive equipment and maintenance costs, the ER is required to provide care to anyone who walks in the door. Illegal aliens use the ER for all care, and rarely pay their bills. People with insurance are billed higher so cover for the losses the ER takes from people who abuse the system by not paying at all, and to some degree to recoup losses from Medicaid and Medicare reiumbursments, which would otherwise cost the hospital and drive them out of business. Which we have seen in some neighborhoods around the country.

This plus the lack of tort reform have led to highly escalated medical care costs compared to other nations. Doctors practice defensive medicine - ordering the most up-to-date tests - to cover their behinds in the event of a multimillion dollar lawsuit. If they don't do 'everything possible' for each patient, their overall quality of care won't stand up in court. When it comes down to it, this brings the costs up for the patient because of the doctors ordering more tests and procedures than are really necessary. But again, since the patient pays co-pays and not a percentage of the total cost the patient isn't seeing this increase except in the cost of higher premiums from the insurance company who foots the bill and raises costs year by year to stay solvent or profitable as the case may be.

Obamacare doesn't change these problems. If anything, it exacerbates them by requiring health insurance companies to cover more procedures at less cost to patients (hah), and making catastrophic health insurance plans much harder to get if you can get them at all. This really means that Obamacare forces premiums to be higher, to make up that difference. Which contributes to the cycle of thinking, "If I have to pay so much for health care then by golly I'm going to see the doctor every chance I can!" Which is backwards. This escalates the health insurance premiums indefinitely because the health insurance companies keep taking more losses and eventually fold, leaving only the undesirable public option.

The other thing Obamacare does in the short term (besides not touching tort reform, but then again it was crafted by lawyers who made millions by suing doctors) is it increases Medicaid. Let me tell you more about the structure of Medicaid, which is backwards once again, to a greater or lesser degree depending entirely upon the state.

Once upon a time I lived in the liberal city of Chicago. Illinois Medicaid is graded, but if you make less than a certain amount per member of the household, all health care expenses are free - well, free to you but certainly not free for the taxpayers of Illinois. Do you know what this means in practice? This means that the people who are on Medicaid (largely unwed teen mothers in the South Chicago area) abuse the system. Rather than seeing the doctor for primary care, they go the ER. The Chicago ERs are full of people with sick children who really need to be home in bed rather than seeing any doctor at all! I've already talked about what this does to the hospital in terms of staying in business. Since the Medicaid patients aren't seeing any of these costs, they don't think at all what they are costing the Medicaid system or taxpayers in general. If they were instead requirement to pay something, the incentive to think twice about what sort of care is necessary could really ease the strain on public programs such as Medicaid. To pay nothing at all creates unnecessary irresponsibility with other people's money.

To see a doctor on Medicaid, you may end up waiting a long, long time for an appointment. This is particularly true of specialists, but not as bad for primary care. The offices that take a majority of Medicaid patients aren't as fancy or up-to-date but they are adequate. They may take a longer time to see you but you are seen. I think we could safely say that if Obamacare drives all insurance companies out of business (supposing it is not ruled unconstitutional or repealed) then we are all headed to a system more like Medicaid and less like the quality and accessibility those on private insurance are accustomed to having.

Obamacare also cuts Medicare. The cuts are made to the doctors and hospitals directly rather than to the patients, but it doesn't matter. It affects patients too. The cuts create incentives for doctors and hospitals to treat Medicare patients as briefly and cheaply as possible. NOT consistent with quality care. With the lack of tort reform, it will be a real balancing act for doctors to care for their patients and keep costs down enough to stay in business while accepting Medicare patients at all.  This is bad for Medicare doctor availability and accessibility. Tons of doctors have left practice early rather than face this future.

What are some possible solutions? Well, first of all we must get rid of Obamacare if the Supreme Court doesn't. Second, we need to insert the free market into the system. Insurance companies should have incentives to compete with each other for creating health care plans on a variety of levels. Catastrophic, basic, premium, family, etc. They should be able to compete across state lines because some states have laws more suited to keeping costs down than others. People should probably be required (incentives) to pay some percentage of their health care rather than only co-pays up to some certain deductible on a plan, because then patients would have the incentive to ask around for how much different procedures or appointments will cost them. I've already seen some insurance companies who provide free health screenings and provide exercise and nutrition programs to help people not need the kind of health care required after developing diabetes, for one example. In short, doing the opposite of what Obamacare does ought to ease the economic burden of healthcare for Americans.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Momastery Love Flash Mob

You may or may not have heard of momastery. It is a blog written by Glennon, who talks of faith and love and family and helping other people -and she has gone viral! Today she's organized an online fundraiser to help two families dealing with terrible chronic illnesses. She's done this before, and in the space of a few hours she reached the targeted goal of $25,000 with a $25 donation limit from all participants! Some contributed a mere $5 or $10. Now is your chance to be part of the action.

Do you know what I love best about this effort? Government is not part of the solution. It is not even invited! Instead of waiting for government aid (slow, inadequate, costing the taxpayer more than its value in aid), we ordinary folk can rise to the occasion and meet needs directly, with love and kindness - the kind of needs that government could never fill. We feel good about getting involved. It is a beautiful thing, an ennobling and empowering thing. It reminds me of all the good that LDS Charities and Catholic Charities and Islamic Charities and others do the world over, separately and more effectively than any government organization ever could, because the motivation to do good and our love for others is written in our hearts, and we choose our own opportunities to get involved. This is where and why liberalism with all its entitlements fails: it removes the heart and choice.

Here is a great story of three separate kids with the vision to help others.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Survey for Mormons about Mormons and Race, What Next?

Peggy Fletcher Stack of the Salt Lake Tribune has outdone herself. Last week, you may recall, she wrote an article about how to properly categorize Mormons. To which I responded, Classification of Mormons is Ridiculous! This week her article is even worse -or better, depending on the scale you use.

This week her article advertises for Mormons - particularly conservative Mormons - to participate in an unscientific survey titled "Mormon Beliefs About Persons of African Descent." This survey is constructed by an LDS social scientist, but there are no safeguards on the survey to ensure that participation really is from LDS people, or that questions are answered honestly in general. This question, while certainly an interesting one, is being asked specifically at a time there is a Mormon candidate for president. The survey author, Darron Smith, admits this is an unscientific survey, yet says:
"The study is a pilot project to assess where members of the LDS faith are in respects to their feelings about race,” Smith writes in an email. “The survey should in no way be construed as an 'official LDS Church' endorsed initiative. Instead it was intended as a fun project to see how we are doing in respect to race in the faith.”
Fun project for him, no doubt. And I don't think that he or the media will find evidence of rampant racism, which is not taught in the LDS Church. For a good article on race and the priesthood, go here (at Breitbart).

Here is the problem, as I see it, with this survey and Peggy Fletcher Stack's invitation. Not only are there not any safeguards against tampering with the data by pretending to be LDS, etc, asking this question during campaign season is inappropriate, at best! Any results we see from this data are going to be skewed. No matter what it shows or doesn't show about Mormons' attitudes towards African Americans, the media will spin this as "Romney is racist" or "Mormons are racist like Romney" - just because it is election year and they have to smear Obama's opponent and prop Obama up. Just like they spin job numbers and economic data to be pro-Obama, as much as they possibly can. Just like they don't report things against Obama.

So this survey asks a fair question. But we will not see a fair answer from it.

If you want to participate in the survey itself (and take your chances or skew the data for them) then use the link to the article up top.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Romney's VP

Naturally, this is no direct concern of mine. When and who he chooses for VP is his own affair, but I'd like to spew my thoughts anyway. First, the strategy that makes most sense to me is for Romney to choose a VP like himself. Someone he would feel comfortable turning over the presidency should the need require. This means this person needs to agree with Romney in most areas. Unlike McCain/Palin. Yes, Palin is rogue like McCain but in a totally different way! Also unlike Obama/Biden. Romney, from his long career in business, knows that he needs to be able to share a vision with the people working with him, for the business to be successful. I think the same principle applies here.

The people I see the most chatter about are not really like Romney, so I don't know that they are likely choices. For example, Rubio has past ethics problems, which may be minor but are still there, and he also supports the DREAM act. Romney is a good listener, he listens to many points of view, but this doesn't mean he would agree with supporting the DREAM act himself. In fact I rather doubt it.

Palin stands for the same things in government as Romney, but she may well be too outspoken for Romney's liking. He likes to keep his opinions to himself and then go do whatever he deems appropriate, like cutting budgets and sticking up for religious liberty without the rhetoric. He seems to avoid unnecessary divisiveness.

Chris Christie may be a good possibility. But again, he's fairly outspoken. We'll see. Bob McDonnell may be another good possibility, though I don't know much about him or his governing style so I really couldn't say. Same with whoever that other guy is they're talking about. Nikki Haley may be a good option, but I don't know much about her so I couldn't say anything constructive about her either.

Romney would be looking for someone serious about budget cutting and balance budgeting, like he is. Cue Paul Ryan. He would be looking for someone who knows how to get along with all sorts of people, to make things happen, like he does. Cue Paul Ryan again. He would be looking for someone who can withstand a serious vetting by the press. No problem there for Paul Ryan unless you count the Ann Rand thing as a problem, which I don't. Paul Ryan has the added plus of being acceptable with the Establishment, though I'm sure I don't know how he managed that given their penchant for not cutting spending. Maybe it's because he's gotten himself noticed by the press. That admire that sort of thing in the Establishment.

I'm willing to hazard a guess that Romney will NOT be choosing someone by dubious virtue of his or her ties with the Establishment. He hasn't worked like that in the past and he has no reason to do so now. Given that he's only talked once and briefly with Boehner, I get the impression that Romney is looking for someone NOT like Boehner or Mitch McConnell. Thank goodness. I believe, in all honesty, that Romney is going to govern far more conservatively than the Establishment feels comfortable with, a la Reagan. He has already indicated his desire to put America back on track, and being as he has extensive business experience doing just that by making the necessary cuts and adjustment, I have every faith that he could do the same for our federal government. Which sorely needs a trim, whether the Democrats or Establishment GOP like it or not. In fact, I'm guessing that any hope the Establishment had in Romney leaving them alone will be frustrated. Ironic, when some of them preferred him over other candidates!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Rights under attack

Oh, my! I just read Taking a scythe to the Bill of Rights up at the Washington Post (of all places) and am more than a little alarmed. A liberal Congressman, Jim McGovern, has put forward a bill that increases government's power by restricting the rights of everyone else including free speech, in the form of anti-corporation laws.
McGovern stresses that his amendment decrees that “all corporate entities — for-profit and nonprofit alike” — have no constitutional rights. So Congress — and state legislatures and local governments — could regulate to the point of proscription political speech, or any other speech, by the Sierra Club, the National Rifle Association, NARAL Pro-Choice America or any of the other tens of thousands of nonprofit corporate advocacy groups, including political parties and campaign committees.
Newspapers, magazines, broadcasting entities, online journalism operations — and most religious institutions — are corporate entities. McGovern’s amendment would strip them of all constitutional rights. By doing so, the amendment would empower the government to do much more than proscribe speech. Ilya Somin of George Mason University Law School, writing for the Volokh Conspiracy blog, notes that government, unleashed by McGovern’s amendment, could regulate religious practices at most houses of worship, conduct whatever searches it wants, reasonable or not, of corporate entities, and seize corporate-owned property for whatever it deems public uses — without paying compensation. Yes, McGovern’s scythe would mow down the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, as well as the First.
Yikes! This ought to be a clear sign (to any left in doubt) that government has grown too big for its britches and must be cut back. We need as much as we've ever needed anything to elect representatives that uphold the Constitution. We're turning into a liberal-run dictatorship instead of a democracy with a party system! A parting warning from the editorial's author, George Will:
As the editors of National Review note, liberals control unions and most of academia and the media. Yet such is their evident lack of confidence in their powers of persuasion they are desperate to control the speech of others.
By proposing his amendment, McGovern helpfully illuminates the lengths to which some liberals want to go. So when next you hear histrionic warnings about tea party or other conservative “extremism,” try to think of anything on the right comparable to McGovern’s proposed vandalism of the Bill of Rights.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Recall

Wisconsin's Governor Walker faces recall soon, for being leader and man enough to deal with a state in serious fiscal crisis. It looks like he may survive it despite all the millions of dollars poured into the recall effort from unions across the country, including stimulus money given to unions from President Obama. From the WSJ's article, Review & Outlook: Wisconsin Recall Amnesia:
Since Mr. Walker's reforms went into effect, the doom and gloom scenarios have failed to materialize. Property taxes in the state were down 0.4% in 2011, the first decline since 1998. According to Chief Executive magazine, Wisconsin moved up four more places this year to number 20 in an annual CEO survey of the best states to do business, after jumping 17 spots last year.
The Governor's office has estimated that altogether the reforms have saved Badger State taxpayers more than $1 billion, including $65 million in changes in health-care plans, and some $543 million in local savings documented by media reports. According to the Wisconsin-based MacIver Institute, Mayor Barrett's city of Milwaukee saved $19 million on health-care costs as a direct result of Mr. Walker's reforms. Awkward turtle.
Some of the good news has been in the schools, because districts have been able to avoid teacher layoffs and make ends meet because of flexibility created by the changes. In the Brown Deer school district, savings created by pension and health-care contributions from employees allowed the school to prevent layoffs and save some $800,000 for taxpayers.
In Fond du Lac, school board president Eric Everson says the district saved $4 million as a result of last year's reforms, including $2 million from the changes in employee contributions to their pensions.
Another 52 schools across the state saved an average of $220 per student thanks to the ability to introduce competitive bidding for health insurance, rather than automatically going through WEA Trust, the favored provider of the Wisconsin Education Association Council. If the savings are even half as large as the Governor's surveys indicate, they are still enormous.
All of this is making an impression on Wisconsin voters. According to a Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday, only 12% of Wisconsin voters say "restoring collective bargaining rights" is their priority, which explains the Democratic decision to fight on other issues.
Money talks, folks. It talks far more loudly than the good intentions but bankrupting results of the left. Will they ever realize that good intentions that bring bad results are worse than policies that bring good results that truly benefit people, crafted with good intentions which the left denies? I wonder. You'd think, since liberals love to say that we should share the tax burdens, that these liberal public unions would want to do their share in solving financial straights. To be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. That may be too much common sense and too much good will on their part, when unions have traditionally been power hungry, Democrat-donating organizations. Concluding paragraph:
Democrats and unions will still do all they can to recall Mr. Walker to prove to would-be reformers nationwide that unions can't be crossed. But it speaks volumes that Democrats are running on everything except their real goal—which is to restore the political dominance of government unions.

An American Tale of Free Enterprise

First, an example. Ethanol tax credits expired on Dec. 31, and what do you think happened? If you guessed the prices rose, you are incorrect. Over at Redstate is an article with a chart showing the prices, and they dropped! A terrific example of what government interference can do to a market.

Weren't you always taught (in left-leaning union-run schools with accompanying textbooks) that government had stepped in and saved America from the Great Depression, and the role of government regarding WWII had the same effect? So had I been taught, not that I believed all that. Government isn't the answer to the successes of America during that time. That distinction belongs to free enterprise. See How Free Enterprise Saved Civilization up at Forbes, by Steve Forbes. It's a book review of Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in WWII. From the end of the review:
So why is it that the astounding achievements of American business during World War II have been virtually erased from popular imagination? Precisely ­because it was business, not government, that performed the miracle. As Herman puts it, “Those … left out of the major decisions about the economy during the war—New Dealers and others—took their revenge by seizing control of the historical message. Business had had nothing to do with the miracle of war production, went the narrative. … It was the vast resources and extended reach of the federal government all along.”
Thankfully Freedom’s Forge sets the record straight, comprehensively and compellingly. Free markets, not big government, are the true source of America’s incredible strength. They enabled us to win World War II, thereby saving Western civilization. And since the war free markets have produced an endless cornucopia of new products and services—and will continue to do so as long as they exist.

The WSJ describes The 2013 Fiscal Cliff Could Crush Stocks.This is important. This is the nitty-gritty of how taxes will impact the market, investors, and the rest of us who have savings accounts, bank accounts, employers, etc. The 1%ers and 99%ers are really all in this economy together, after all.
The big deal is that one key element at stake here is not a matter of theory at all—it's simple arithmetic. And it leads to the simple yet alarming conclusion that unless current law is amended before year-end, the stock market has to fall by at least 30%.
It's all about how dividends are taxed—and the reality that we are facing the biggest single hike in dividend tax rates in history.
The market sets the price of a dividend-paying stock so that it will pay the after-tax yield required to attract capital. When the tax rate on dividends goes up, the after-tax yield necessarily goes down—to restore the after-tax yield to its required level, the stock price has to fall.
Please bear with us through an explanation that involves a little arithmetic. If you are an investor, this is important.
Consider a stock trading at $100 that pays a $10 dividend every year. Under current law, an investor pays a 15% tax on that dividend, so he gets to keep 85% of it, or $8.50. So the after-tax yield on that stock is 8.5%.
After year-end, under current law, the top dividend tax rate will rise to 43.4% from 15%. That's not only because the temporary low 15% rate granted under the 2001 Bush tax cuts will revert to the prior rate of 39.6%. In addition, a provision of ObamaCare slaps a 3.8% surtax on all forms of investment income, including dividends—the resulting total is 43.4%.
So on Jan. 1, an investor won't keep $8.50 of that dividend—he'll pay a 43.4% tax and keep only $5.66. Suddenly, a stock that yielded him 8.5% now yields only 5.66%.
He goes on about the impact of tax increases on bonds and dividends. I recommend reading the article yourself if you have time. Here is a final quote:
The same logic also applies here to bonds, because at year-end the top tax rate on interest income will rise to 43.4% from 35%. According to our simple arithmetic, if the yield on a 10-year Treasury is 2% today, it would rise to 2.3% with next year's tax rates. That's a whole new version of the Laffer Curve, one in which higher taxes drive higher government debt service costs.
So just by the numbers, the fiscal cliff matters. Investors are wrong to blithely assume that the boys in Washington will somehow do the right thing and it will all work out in the end.
All these tax issues will have to get negotiated in the lame duck session of Congress after what is likely to be an unusually bitter election season. And it's highly likely that an increase in the statutory debt ceiling will have to be negotiated at the same time, in order to avoid a Treasury default—investors would be wise to remember what a near-death experience that was last August.
Yes, I do remember that experience. I would have preferred default with American politicians finally facing up to their economic malpractice and balancing the budget with a return to baseline budgeting!


On a separate occasion, Forbes interviewed former President George W. Bush. I remember thinking whenever disaster struck again and again throughout Bush's presidency how glad I was that he knew economics. The whole interview is highly informative on the workings of the economy in general, including trade agreements and how taxes and government policies shape or limit the economy as the case may be. Here is a small excerpt:
Bush: If the goal is private-sector growth, tax policy ought to encourage, not discourage, the job creators, the small businesses, the 70% of new jobs. I don’t think people really understand that aspect of the tax code. Therefore, if you raise taxes on the so-called rich, you’re really taxing job creators. Which either means that people don’t really understand the implications or the objective is not private sector growth but public sector growth.
I think that keeping taxes low did help buffer a difficult economic situation. And I think raising taxes is going to take capital out of the hands of those creating jobs.
Secondly, if you raise taxes on capital gains and dividends, you’re taxing investment. The private sector requires investment in order to grow. You’re taxing pensioners and savers. The fundamental question is, “How do you believe the economy of the country should grow in the long term? Do you believe it ought to be through public sector initiative or do you believe it ought to be stimulating the private sector?” I’m confident we’ll hear people making the case that the best way to grow our economy is through stimulating the private sector.
Forbes: It’s very telling that at a time when taxes rose very sharply in the 1970s, we had European-style growth rates. When the reforms started in the early 80s, we went back to having fun again.
Bush: No question, much of my thinking was informed by President Reagan. He had a vision and a philosophy. I’ll never forget the days of malaise in the late-70s. We were basically told our country was through – that’s a slight exaggeration, but nevertheless there was the sense that America had lost a step. Then we have a president show up and say, “Here’s a better tomorrow. And oh by the way, I’m going to trust the people by working on tax cuts.”
No one could have predicted at the time – you might have, but very few people predicted the robust economic recovery after a very deep recession.
No doubt the tax cuts that we put in place were inspired by the decisions in the early ‘80s. And the consequences of those actions – supply-side economics was no longer just a theory, it was a practical way, in my case, to deal with a recession that was ongoing when I first got elected.
The numbers you find from the media about Bush's tenure in office are numbers that don't tell the entire story. Just so you know. Long live free enterprise and free markets in America. That seems incompatible with Obama's vision for America.

Rush reports that, "Census Bureau data published on Wednesday of this week says the startup rate fell to an all-time low of 7.87%, down from 8.1% in 2009." Obama and business still aren't friendly with each other after an additional year either.

*5/7 FoxBusiness reports Best And Worst States for Entrepreneurs

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Look at the Numbers

You know how the media is trying their darndest to convince the public that the economy is roaring back? Too many people are out of work or know people out of work, are out of homes or know people out of homes, have less pay for more work, and a higher cost of living. We're not buying it. Here are the numbers the press will not tell you, invested as they are in protecting the left.


Unemployment: Just because the labor force has shrunk, meaning more people have stopped looking for work, doesn't mean that more people don't want jobs. According to The Economic Collapse Blog, there are 100 million working-age Americans without jobs! That's about half the working-age population! I was skeptical on how he reaches 100 million people until he presented the math, which is basically to add the 12 million that Obama counts as looking for work to the 88 million who have stopped looking or don't want a job. You can look at his charts on his site, or at Zero Hedge. Then he quotes CNN:
About six million people claim they want a job, even though they haven't looked for one in the last four weeks. If they were to all start applying for work again, the unemployment rate would suddenly shoot up above 11%.

After that, he says:
If you want a much more accurate picture of what is really happening to the employment situation in America, the key is to look at the employment to population ratio. As I have written about previously, the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs is not increasing.
Let's take a look at the employment to population ratio for the last six years for the month of March....
March 2007: 63.3%
March 2008: 62.7%
March 2009: 59.9%
March 2010: 58.5%
March 2011: 58.5%
March 2012: 58.5%
The percentage of the working age population that had jobs fell rapidly during the recession and it has stayed very low since then.
When Barack Obama tells you that "America is going back to work" he is lying to you.
(...)
Back in 2007, approximately 10 percent of all unemployed Americans had been out of work for one year or longer.
Today, that figure is above 30 percent.
*Rush Limbaugh talked about this subject extensively today.

*FoxNews put up on 5/7/2012: Lies, Damned Lies and Government Jobs Data
What’s important is the broader trend. Since President Obama took office, America has lost a net 740,000 jobs. But during the first 30 months of President Ronald Reagan’s economic recovery, which started in December 1982, total U.S. employment increased by 8.9 million jobs.

Right to Work: Here are some data from states with Right to Work laws. I've been eager to see this, as you might imagine.
The president says right-to-work laws are an attempt to "take collective bargaining rights away." No, they aren't. Unions can still bargain collectively in right-to-work states. What they can't do is make union membership a condition of employment.

The president also said he likes to call right-to-work "right-to-work-for-less laws." Good one. But studies about wages in right-to-work versus non-right-to-work states differ; some say they're higher, others say they're lower. And others note that both economic output and wages have risen faster in right-to-work states.

What's more, last year PolitiFact looked into Fox host Bill O'Reilly's claim that unemployment is lower in right-to-work states. The fact-checkers noted that while the difference is not great, and while one could argue about causation, the claim was "mostly true." They went on to note that "none of the economists we spoke to thought the gap was especially surprising, either now or historically."
My favorite part is the partisan Politifact grudgingly admitting that O'Reilly is right.


Taxes: Over at Breitbart is an article discussing why Romney ought to be using his tax rate as a teaching moment.
The hapless Republicans haven’t seemed to catch on that Americans have suffered long enough now to need (and I would wager want) a financial education. For example there's a difference, and an important reason for the difference, between the income tax and the capital gains tax. Paying much better attention these days, many people still don’t know this, yet they need to understand it.

It’s particularly important for Governor Romney that they do, because this is at the heart of yet another ginned-up attack on him by the ever-so-principled Mr. Obama. As long as people are ignorant of how and why our tax system works, the more successful our president will be in misleading the public about why Mitt Romney paid a lesser tax rate last year than the average secretary. (That Mr. Obama also paid a lesser tax rate than his own secretary seems not to be a consideration in his attack on the Governor.)
(...)
In order to make money off of capital gains, you’ve already done two things: firstly, you’ve already been highly taxed on that money when you earned it originally as income, and secondly, you’re investing it back into society when you invest in the stock market. Those investments help companies to grow, and growing companies mean more jobs for more people.

In real American life, as opposed to Obama’s utopia, we want to encourage investment. Investment is how companies get off the ground; it’s how companies evolve from a notion in an entrepreneur’s brain into Staples or Domino’s or another household name. So what we’ve done to encourage investment is that we tax capital gains at a lower rate than the income tax. This way, the risk is reasonable for investors, and thus they keep putting their cash on the line. 

If we increased the capital gains tax rate, it would drastically alter the calculations investors make before they risk their money. All of a sudden, they’d need to expect a much higher return on their investment because they’ll have to pay that much more in taxes if they manage to turn a profit. So, the risk becomes significantly greater. That means, if the capital gains tax rate gets too high, investment dries up, and so does innovation, hiring, raises, expansion and so forth. The economy grinds to a halt.
 I recommend reading the entire article. I sure hope Romney takes his advice. The author is right on about Americans desperately wanting someone to teach them about finance and the economy.


The War on Poverty: since its inception under LBJ, the War on Poverty has dumped trillions for no results. The percentages of people in 'poverty' as the left defines it, stay the same. Now they are worse, and it's not for lack of government spending. From Rush Limbaugh, as he quoted Ronald Reagan talking about the War on Poverty clear back in 1964, yesterday:
REAGAN: We have so many people that can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they're gonna solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer -- and they've had almost 30 years of it -- shouldn't we expect government to read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn't they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help, the reduction in the need for public housing? But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater; the program grows greater. (...)
REAGAN: But now we're told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty stricken on the basis of earning less than $3,000 a year. Welfare spending is ten times greater than it was in the dark depths of the Depression. We're spending $45 billion on welfare. Now, do a little arithmetic and you'll find that if we divided the $45 billion up equally among those nine million poor families, we'd be able to give each family $4,600 a year, and this added to their present income should eliminate poverty.
AUDIENCE: (laughter)
REAGAN: Direct aid to the poor, however, is only running about $600 per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead.
AUDIENCE: (laughter)
RUSH: Back in the eighties, the administrative cost on $1 of welfare was 28¢. Meaning for every $1 of welfare, 72¢ got to the recipient and 28¢ ended up funding government. It's probably worse now. That's what Reagan was talking about. It's further evidence it doesn't work! It never has worked. One final bite from Reagan...

REAGAN: So now we declare "war" on poverty. Do they honestly expect us to believe that if we add $1 billion to the $45 billion we're spending, one more program to the 30-odd we have -- and, remember, this new program doesn't replace any; it just duplicates existing programs. Do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic? Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we're always against things, we're never for anything. Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant. It's just that they know so much that isn't so.

The War on Women: Another Breitbart article takes Obama's hypothetical "Julia" and counters it with an example of a real woman's life as it is under President Obama, versus how it would be under President Romney. Subjective, to be sure. But the ideas are sound. Give it a read.