Reasons to Vote

We all know that the Democrats are going to take a beating this Election Tuesday.  But what we all have to remember is that it’s not the political party that should determine who we vote for, but the character of the person running.  Are they the person you want representing you, spending your tax dollars wisely, representing your interests in government, and passing (or voting against) legislation that makes things simpler, not more complicated?  This should drive you to vote for the person that best represents you, not to vote against the politician that has pissed you off.

I ran across this over at Grandma’s Place, and is posted at Information Clearing House:

The 545 People Responsible For All Of U.S. Woes by Charley Reese

(Date of publication unknown)– — -  Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, we have deficits? Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The president does. You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does. You and I don’t write the tax code. Congress does. You and I don’t set fiscal policy. Congress does. You and I don’t control monetary policy. The Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president and nine Supreme Court justices – 545 human beings out of the 235 million – are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered but private central bank.

I excluded all but the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it.

No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislation’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

A CONFIDENCE CONSPIRACY

Don’t you see how the con game that is played on the people by the politicians? Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of Tip O’Neill, who stood up and criticized Ronald Reagan for creating deficits.

The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it. The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating appropriations and taxes.

O’neill is the speaker of the House. He is the leader of the majority party. He and his fellow Democrats, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetos it, they can pass it over his veto.

REPLACE SCOUNDRELS

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 235 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts – of incompetence and irresponsibility.

I can’t think of a single domestic problem, from an unfair tax code to defense overruns, that is not traceable directly to those 545 people.

When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair. If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red. If the Marines are in Lebanon, it’s because they want them in Lebanon.

There are no insoluble government problems. Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take it.

Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exist disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation" or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people and they alone are responsible. They and they alone have the power. They and they alone should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses – provided they have the gumption to manage their own employees.

This article was first published by the Orlando Sentinel Star newspaper

Vote Tuesday, or don’t complain about anything the politicians do.

Notice:  As some of you may have noticed, I now have a Twitter account.  The address is http://twitter.com/#!/tomsplaceblog.  And this site is now mobile phone capable.  See you around the nest!

The Big 5-0

Yes, break out the black on black balloons – I have officially passed the half-century mark today.

Funny….I don’t feel old….except for the knees.

It seems every birthday, I pause and reflect on both the blessings and the mistakes of my life.  Believe me, there are plenty of both.  But the realization is that everyone goes through this journey called life with different experiences, but it is what makes us who we are. 

Part of that journey is change – and the past couple of years has seen plenty of upheaval in both the personal and professional lives.  There is a cliché that fits this perfectly – “The only constant in life is change.”  Believe me, no one lives the perfect life without change, and without mistakes.

All anyone can do is try to do better while moving forward.

I know that in this blog I piss and moan about this and that, whatever happens to push my buttons that week.  But at the same time, I do like to post some fun things.  “I Want a Cookie” has been one of my favorite stories for many years.  But that doesn’t mean this blog is going to turn into a mindless fluff blog. 

I’m not backing down from posting what I think on subjects that catch my interest.  Five years ago this month, this blog was started by writing about what was bugging me in business.  It somehow morphed into a political commentary blog, perhaps because I began to see the relationship between government/politicians and the state of the economy & business.  If I were to guess, it’s because I was traveling a lot at that time, and had lots of time to think and research.  And that, my readers, is one of the keys to educating yourself on the world around us – time.

None of us has time, especially those who work long hours to support our families.  Perhaps that is why the politicians have had such free reign in government for so long – we have all been so busy in our corner of the world trying to live the American dream we have forgotten that our responsibilities as citizens of this country is to keep our elected representatives accountable for their actions.  We have also fallen into the fallacy that government would take care of us when we get old.  But enough of the ranting –

It’s time to enjoy this once-in-a lifetime day with my special spouse and crazy cats.

It’s Still About The Economy

Or rather, jobs…and the lack thereof.

It’s definitely not good if one of the founders of Home Depot, Ken Lagone, had this to say in the Wall Street Journal:

Although I was glad that you answered a question of mine at the Sept. 20 town-hall meeting you hosted in Washington, D.C., Mr. President, I must say that the event seemed more like a lecture than a dialogue. For more than two years the country has listened to your sharp rhetoric about how American businesses are short-changing workers, fleecing customers, cheating borrowers, and generally "driving the economy into a ditch," to borrow your oft-repeated phrase.

My question to you was why, during a time when investment and dynamism are so critical to our country, was it necessary to vilify the very people who deliver that growth? Instead of offering a straight answer, you informed me that I was part of a "reckless" group that had made "bad decisions" and now required your guidance, if only I’d stop "resisting" it.

I’m sure that kind of argument draws cheers from the partisan faithful. But to my ears it sounded patronizing. Of course, one of the chief conceits of centralized economic planning is that the planners know better than everybody else.

But there’s a much deeper problem than whether I am personally irked or not. Your insistence that your policies are necessary and beneficial to business is utterly at odds with what you and your administration are saying elsewhere. You pick a fight with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, accusing it of using foreign money to influence congressional elections, something the chamber adamantly denies. Your U.S. attorney in New York, Preet Bahrara, compares investment firms to Mexican drug cartels and says he wants the power to wiretap Wall Street when he sees fit. And you drew guffaws of approving laughter with your car-wreck metaphor, recently telling a crowd that those who differ with your approach are "standing up on the road, sipping a Slurpee" while you are "shoving" and "sweating" to fix the broken-down jalopy of state.

That short-sighted wavering—between condescending encouragement one day and hostile disparagement the next—creates uncertainty that, as any investor could tell you, causes economic paralysis. That’s because no one can tell what to expect next.

A little more than 30 years ago, Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, Pat Farrah and I got together and founded The Home Depot. Our dream was to create (memo to DNC activists: that’s build, not take or coerce) a new kind of home-improvement center catering to do-it-yourselfers. The concept was to have a wide assortment, a high level of service, and the lowest pricing possible.

We opened the front door in 1979, also a time of severe economic slowdown. Yet today, Home Depot is staffed by more than 325,000 dedicated, well-trained, and highly motivated people offering outstanding service and knowledge to millions of consumers.

If we tried to start Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you have advocated, it’s a stone cold certainty that our business would never get off the ground, much less thrive. Rules against providing stock options would have prevented us from incentivizing worthy employees in the start-up phase—never mind the incredibly high cost of regulatory compliance overall and mandatory health insurance.

But the shovel-ready jobs (that weren’t) and the (temporary) census jobs with the multi-billion dollar stimulus legislation were to keep jobs and the economy from tanking.  Hah!  From Fortune via CNNMoney.com :

image FORTUNE — Let us tell you an ugly truth about the economy, a truth that no one in power or who aspires to power wants to share with you, at least until after the midterm elections are over.

It’s this: There is nothing that the U.S. government or the Federal Reserve or tax cutters can do to make our economic pain vanish overnight. There are no all-powerful, all-knowing superheroes or supervillains who can rescue or tank the economy all by themselves.

From listening to what passes for public debate in our country, you’d never know that. You’d think that the federal government could revive the economy quickly if only Congress would let it be more aggressive with stimulus spending. Or that the Fed could fix it if only it weren’t overly worried about touching off inflation. Or that the free market could fix it if only we made deep and permanent tax cuts. Watch enough cable TV, listen to enough talk radio, read enough blogs and columns, and you’d think that they — the bad guys — are forcing the country to suffer needlessly when a simple and painless solution to our problems is at hand.

But if you look at things rationally rather than politically, you’ll see that Washington has far less power over the economy, and far less maneuvering room, than many people think. "It’s endemic in our type of society that we always think there’s a person who holds the magic wand," says Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), a fiscal conservative who isn’t running for reelection, so he can, well, be blunt. "But this society and this economy are far too complex to be susceptible to magic wands."

The economy is financed by jobs & investment, not by taxpayer dollars given out by government after they’ve taken their cut.  Standing in the way of the recovery is, dare I say it, the same government that touts the many benefits of its intervention.  Look at Health Care and Cap & Trade legislation, which will cost the taxpayers plenty for questionable benefits while handcuffing business investment.  And a new tax, the Value Added Tax (VAT), which promises to do more damage.  The VAT hosed up Europe, and it promises to do the same here.  From Investors.com:

A new study warns that a value-added tax would kill 850,000 jobs in a year and cut retail spending by $2.5 trillion over 10 years. Sounds too bad for Washington to pass up.

An analysis for the National Retail Federation by Ernst & Young finds that adding a VAT to the U.S. tax system would reduce GDP for years, causing the loss of "850,000 jobs in the first year," plus "700,000 fewer jobs 10 years later."

A VAT imposed in such a way would also cause retail spending to drop by almost $260 billion — or 5% — in the first year alone, according to the study. As a result, "most Americans over 21 years of age when the VAT is enacted would be worse off," and there would be "significant redistributional effects across generations, reducing real incomes and employment for current workers."

A VAT isn’t going to raise much if people aren’t working and spending.  And what is worse is that the government, via rampant & unchecked spending by Congress and endorsed by the President (yes, all of them, Democrat and Republican) is broke.  That, my friends, means we’re broke.  From Investors.com:

imageWe will learn in November just how angry the public is about a lot of things, from higher taxes to massive unemployment. But the popular uproar pales in comparison to the sense of humiliation that we Americans are quite broke.

In 2008, the public was furious at George W. Bush, not because he was too much of a right-wing tightwad, but because he ran up a series of what were then thought to be gargantuan deficits.

The result was that under a supposedly conservative administration, and despite six years of an allegedly small-government Republican Congress, the deficit nearly doubled from $3.3 trillion to $6.3 trillion in just eight years.

Barack Obama apparently never figured out that he had been elected in part because that massive Republican borrowing had sickened the American people. So in near-suicidal fashion, he took Bush’s last scheduled budget deficit of more than $500 billion — in a Keynesian attempt to get the country out of the 2008 recession and financial panic — and nearly tripled it by 2010.Obama’s new red ink will add more than $2.5 trillion to the national debt — with near-trillion-dollar yearly deficits scheduled for the next decade. All of that will result in a U.S. debt of more than $20 trillion.

Obama’s new red ink will add more than $2.5 trillion to the national debt — with near-trillion-dollar yearly deficits scheduled for the next decade. All of that will result in a U.S. debt of more than $20 trillion.

What exactly is it about big deficits and our accumulated debt that is starting to enrage voters?

First, the public is tired of the nonchalant way that smarmy public officials take credit for dishing out someone else’s cash without a thought of paying for it. Each week, President Obama promises another interest group more freshly borrowed billions, now euphemistically called "stimulus."

But the more public money he hands out to states, public employees, the unemployed or the green industry, the more voters wonder where in the world he’s getting the cash. The next time a public official puts his name on yet another earmarked federal project, let him at least confess whether it was floated with borrowed money.

Is it any wonder that Americans are angry?  Is it any wonder that a movement like the Tea Party is growing day by day?  Is it any big surprise that opposition to the unchecked spending is met with calls of derision by those doing the spending?  Not to me, at least.

In closing, I think this Michael Ramirez cartoon is spot on as to what is going to happen in November:

image

Lobbyist For The People?

Do you ever wonder what it would take for our elected representatives to represent us?  Take this tongue-in-cheek approach as reported by The Onion:

WASHINGTON—Citing a desire to gain influence in Washington, the American people confirmed Friday that they have hired high-powered D.C. lobbyist Jack Weldon of the firm Patton Boggs to help advance their agenda in Congress.

Known among Beltway insiders for his ability to sway public policy on behalf of massive corporations such as Johnson & Johnson, Monsanto, and AT&T, Weldon, 53, is expected to use his vast network of political connections to give his new client a voice in the legislative process.

Weldon is reportedly charging the American people $795 an hour.

“Unlike R.J. Reynolds, Pfizer, or Bank of America, the U.S. populace lacks the access to public officials required to further its legislative goals,” a statement from the nation read in part. “Jack Weldon gives us that access.”

“His daily presence in the Capitol will ensure the American people finally get a seat at the table,” the statement continued. “And it will allow him to advance our message that everyone, including Americans, deserves to be represented in Washington.”

Weldon says he hopes to spin the American public, above, as a group worth Congress’ time.

The 310-million-member group said it will rely on Weldon’s considerable clout to ensure its concerns are taken into account when Congress addresses issues such as education, immigration, national security, health care, transportation, the economy, affordable college tuition, infrastructure, jobs, equal rights, taxes, Social Security, the environment, housing, the national debt, agriculture, energy, alternative energy, nutrition, imports, exports, foreign relations, the arts, and crime.

Sources confirmed that Weldon is already scheduled to have drinks Monday with several members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to discuss saving the middle class.

“If you have a problem, say, with America’s atrocious treatment of its veterans, you can’t just pick up a phone and call your local congressman,” Weldon told reporters from his office on K Street Monday. “You need someone on the inside who understands how democracy works; someone who knows how to grease the wheels a little.”

Weldon said that after successfully advocating on behalf of Goldman Sachs and BP, he is relishing the opportunity to lobby for the American people, calling it the “challenge of a lifetime.” The veteran D.C. power player admitted that his new client is at a disadvantage because it lacks the money and power of other groups.

“The goal is to make it seem politically advantageous for legislators to keep the American people in mind when making laws,” Weldon said. “Lawmakers are going to ask me, ‘Why should I care about the American people? What’s in it for me?’ And it will be up to me and my team to find some reason why they should consider putting poverty and medical care for children on the legislative docket.”

“To be honest,” Weldon added, “the American people have always been perceived as a little naïve when it comes to their representative government. But having me on their side sends a clear message that they’re finally serious and want to play ball.”

According to Washington heavyweights, hiring Weldon is an immediate game changer and should force politicians to take citizens’ concerns seriously for the first time in decades. Moreover, sources said, Weldon will be able to help lawmakers see the American people as more than just a low-priority fringe group.

“Jack is very good at what he does,” said Joseph Pearlman, a headhunter for the McCormick Group who specializes in placing lobbyists. “He can take an issue that is nowhere on the congressional radar, like the pursuit of happiness, for example, and make it politically relevant. The next time Congress passes a bill dealing with civil rights or taxes, I wouldn’t be surprised if the U.S. populace is mentioned somewhere in the final language.”

Though Weldon has only been on the job for three days, legislators have already seemed to take notice.

“Before today, I’d actually never heard of this group,” Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) told reporters. “But if Jack says they’re worth my time, I’ll take a look and see if maybe there are some areas where our interests overlap.”

“But I’m not making any promises,” he added. “I’m a very busy man.

Another Travel Story

This past week has been hell at work.  And then I hear about another Obama promise falling by the wayside (keep your healthcare if you like it – but no one told various companies about that).  So I stepped into the WABAC machine to a simpler time to get away from it all…


Way back in 1988, I found myself on a plane to Portland, Oregon.  Flying out of O’Hare airport was always interesting, but this time, it was unremarkable other than the fact that this was the first time I flew on a 747.  Nice plane – it sure beat the heck out of flying the DC-9s that I had flown up to this point in time.

The trip was rather uneventful and without note until we flew over Yellowstone park and I looked down out of the window.  1988 was the year that Yellowstone burned, and I will tell you that the news reports of so many acres of land that burned that day does nothing to prepare you for looking down from 40,000 feet and seeing nothing but charred land and smoke from horizon to horizon.  It is a sight that I would not forget.

After Yellowstone, it was time for the meal to be served.  In those days, you actually got a meal that was filling and reasonably decent, not the pop & pretzels sans nuts of today’s airline food service.  The intercom clicked on, and the flight attendant (stewardesses in those days) read off the entree choices for the flight.  The attendant stated that they would then come around to take our orders, and the intercom clicked off.  About five seconds later, the intercom clicked back on and a different voice announced,

“It doesn’t matter which entree you choose, they all taste the same.”

imageOf course, we all looked at each other, not really believing what we heard.  But it brought a chuckle to our flight.

The flight also took us past Mount St. Helens.  That was also interesting seeing the great, smoking hole that used to be a mountain top.  Coupled with the previous scene from Yellowstone and now Mount St. Helens, it gave me a renewed appreciation for the power of Nature, and that Man is only an interested passenger on this planet.

It’s a sobering thought, indeed…