The Pursuit of Happiness

This are the words from the Declaration of Independence that many people seem to think that the Pursuit of Happiness is a guarantee, one that is backed by our government if you believe the Liberal agenda.  Yeah, those are probably fighting words for some Obama supporters, but let’s look at some opinions and facts starting with some personal experience.

I have worked for several different companies over the past 30 years, and they are rather large ones at that.  FMC and ITW were two of them.  I worked for divisions that were profitable, but didn’t meet the corporation’s goals for them.  The companies either closed or sold the divisions.

There wasn’t any calls for government bailouts of the employees, nor the employees demanding compensation.  No, most of us went about our business finding new jobs & careers.  Some were old enough and had enough years with the companies to take early retirement.

Some of you know that I worked for Chrysler for a little over a decade, and took a buyout on the eve of Chrysler’s bankruptcy.  While Chrysler seems to have recovered, it wasn’t without controversy, nor without government assistance.  The working conditions in my former department have deteriorated according to conversations that I have had with friends still at Chrysler.  Yes, it seems it was a good move, but I really have hated starting over.  Thus, I’m still pursuing happiness.

In contrast, let’s take a look at my now deceased former father-in-law.  At the age of 45, after spending 22 years at Anchor Glass, the plant closed.  Rather than look for another job, he decided to sit back, take a reduced pension & Social Security, and do nothing.  He became a bitter, sometimes cruel person with little to do for the next 20 years.  Did he find happiness?  No, he didn’t, not by a long shot.

Let’s be realistic – the Pursuit of Happiness is just that, pursuit – it doesn’t mean that we’re going to catch it.  Some people will, but some won’t.  There is not a guarantee of a happy ending, no matter what reassurances people (i.e., politicians) may make.  This is why I am extremely suspicious of any promises the politician’s make for economic and society’s happiness.

Who out there remembers the talking point for passage of the over $800 Billion “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” would keep unemployment below 8%?  And how well did that work out?  Unemployment skyrocketed, and is now barely above 8% three years later.  And that’s still a bogus number.

This number does not take into account people who are no longer are kept on the unemployment rolls because their benefits have run out, and unemployment numbers only reflect the number of people collecting unemployment.  The number of people who have found jobs are often underemployed because they can’t find anything else.  This leaves a gap of people who have left the job market, i.e., quit looking because they cannot find anything.  The Labor Department or whatever other department that is keeping the statistics never has and never will keep those numbers because they have no way to determine who has given up.  So the figures lie, or at the very least don’t tell the whole truth.

So now the politicians are stating that the economic recovery (and by extension, the good times) is just around the corner.  But is that true?  According to this excerpt from a Bloomburg article:

It’s important to note that historical data collected by economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff show that it takes almost five years for employment to recover from the wreckage of a deep financial crisis.

And a deep financial crisis it was too.  Not a good time for anyone, and there doesn’t really seem to be the quick fix that the President or the opposition keeps thinking there is.  From the same Bloomburg article:

Much of the problem is self-inflicted by Congress. Lawmakers are putting off until after November’s elections a crush of expiring Bush-era tax cuts, the payroll tax reduction and dozens of other tax breaks and spending programs. If they expire, and an approved $100 billion in spending cuts occur at the same time, economic growth would slow to 0.5 percent next year, the Congressional Budget Office says. As Bloomberg View columnists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers write today, last summer’s debt-ceiling fight almost derailed the recovery, and this year’s replay could be worse.

Congress also lacks a plan to attack the long-term problem of entitlement spending and has yet to fix an overly complicated tax code. Worse, lawmakers have purposely built instability into the system by disingenuously adding expiration dates to tax cuts to meet budgetary rules.

Those invoking the uncertainty principle fail to mention that inflation and interest rates are historically low. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has repeatedly pledged not to raise rates at least through late 2014 — a gold-plated certainty guarantee if we ever saw one.

The pledge may be showing up in an uncertainty index created by Steven J. Davis, a University of Chicago business professor, with two others. Using news searches, differences among economic forecasters and other tools, they have measured the level of uncertainty by month, back to 1985. Their research shows that monetary policy and taxes, not regulatory policy, are the biggest drivers of uncertainty.

The Senate has not passed a budget resolution in over 3 years.  That’s uncertainty.

Here’s the bottom line – Neither political party will be able to guarantee your happiness, no matter what the political elite promise.  Your happiness is up to you, because the politicians have a different agenda:

In case any of you didn’t know, a typical politician’s primary job is not to serve the people who elected him. His primary job is to get himself (or herself) elected or re-elected. Second is to reward all those contributors that gave $$ to help him get elected. Third is to get as many perks & benefits as he can while he is in office. Last on the list is the common person like you & I.

And that’s their happiness, not yours…

The Bane of Bain and Beyond

Settling down to the long weekend with some vacation days thrown in for good measure, I decided to peruse one of the news sites that seem to tap into the real pulse of the political world:  RealClearPolitics.com  While there, one Bloomberg article caught my eye: Why Both Obama and Romney Want to Talk About Bain.  Yes, both candidates want to talk about Bain Capital, but for different reasons.

First, Mitt Romney:

“Having been in the private sector for 25 years gives me a perspective on how jobs are created that someone who’s never spent a day in the private sector, like President Obama, simply doesn’t understand.”

Next, President Obama:

The Obama campaign wants to discuss Bain because its team believes it shows Romney is unqualified for the presidency. Romney knows how to strip a business for parts, and to make investors and himself rich, but he doesn’t know how to expand opportunity or how to look out for workers left behind by economic dislocation.

“If your main argument for how to grow the economy is ‘I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,’ then you’re missing what this job is about,” Obama stated.

Yes, Mitt Romney remotely fired people when plants were closed & the assets sold off.  That was one of the purposes of the company he ran.  If the plants turned around and became profitable, they were sold off as a return on investment and people kept their jobs.  But isn’t that what capitalism is about?  Underperforming or non-profitable businesses do not last long – the money eventually runs out.  And unlike the government, deficit spending is often not an option.

Another article has this to say about Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital:

Romney took Bain to the next logical step–investing in companies that Bain improved. There was nothing wrong, and much that was right, about this in each individual case. Romney is telling the truth as he sees it: sometimes these investments didn’t work out, but often they did and the profits were huge. It’s also true that sharkier sorts, seeing the profits that could be wrung up in debt for equity swaps, jumped into the market in a far less responsible way than Bain had and engaged in the vulture capitalism–we’ll always be grateful to Rick Perry for that term–that has helped to hollow out the economy.

It seems to me that Obama’s immediate point is wrong: Romney wasn’t primarily about job destruction and corporate plundering. His larger point–that Romney was not so much about job-creation as he was about profit-creation–is correct, though. But the largest point of all is this: private equity capitalism was all about short-term profits–maximizing shareholder value–rather than long-term growth. It ushered in an era of massive executive compensation and bonuses. It prospered because of tax rules that made debt more profitable than equity, and a “carried interest” tax dodge that enabled Mitt Romney to pay a lower percentage in taxes than your average construction worker. It can be a useful tool in restructuring companies and steering them toward profitability, but it is not the sort of model you’d want to apply to the entire American economy.

President Obama’s reelection campaign will now hammer home Romney’s “let’s make a profit” stance with Bain Capital, and will point out ever-so-casually that these were the tactics of the 1% to hammer the rest of the 99%.  And yet another talking point for the class-warfare campaign point that I’m predicting will make it’s appearance if/when Romney becomes the Republican candidate.

But while the scrutiny starts up on Romney, President Obama is beginning to feel some heat on his qualifications.  For instance…

We’ve all heard the assertion that President Obama is “the smartest man elected to the Presidency.”  Let’s look at some excerpts from this article by Jack Kelly:

Barack Obama is the smartest man with the highest IQ ever to be elected to the presidency, historian Michael Beschloss told radio talk show host Don Imus in November of 2008.

“So what is his IQ?” Mr. Imus asked. Mr. Beschloss didn’t know. He was just assuming.

There is little evidence to support it. Mr. Obama went to Harvard, but so did George W. Bush, who some liberals consider dumber than dirt. The president won’t release his transcripts, so we can’t judge by his grades. Mr. Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review, but when he was selected, popularity mattered more than scholarship.

Mr. Obama joined an undistinguished law firm, where he tried no cases. So no help there.

Many cite the president’s oratorical skills, but he often rambles when he speaks without a teleprompter. That’s because his brain “is moving so fast that the mouth can’t keep up,” wrote Meghan Daum of the Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Obama has said a lot of unsmart things: there are 57 states; Canada has a president; “Austrian” is a language; America is “20 centuries” old; Arabic is spoken in Afghanistan. He’s called the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) the Maldives, and declared it would be “unprecedented” for the Supreme Court to invalidate a law passed by Congress.

President Obama’s stimulus bill didn’t stimulate. His subsidies to “green” firms have produced neither the jobs nor the energy he promised. Unemployment on his watch peaked at 10 percent, one of the highest rates since the Great Depression. Deficits are out of control.

“The man who promised everything is delivering nothing,” wrote Noemie Emery in the Weekly Standard. “Journalists who wept when he won the election now grind their teeth in despair. … The gap between sizzle and steak never seemed so large.”

Could it be that Mr. Obama’s “superior intellect” is a myth created by journalists to mask what may be the thinnest resume of anyone ever elected president? An example of puffery is the description of Mr. Obama as a former “professor of constitutional law.” Mr. Obama was a part time instructor at the University of Chicago law school, without the title or status of professor. And, according to blogger Doug Ross, he wasn’t very popular with the real professors.

I’ve stated earlier in 2008 that then candidate Obama was an “empty suit” in both this blog and in comments on other blogs.  Many of the readers of this blog know this, and the rest of the world is beginning to believe it too.

But I’m not sure that Romney is any better suited to lead this country out of the mess it’s in.  But I certainly think that to keep Obama in the White House will be a bigger disaster just based on his past three-year performance.

The polls are statistically in a dead heat at this point in time.  What happens to the economy (and what happens in the Eurozone) in the months leading up to the election will have a huge impact no matter what the campaign machines churn out.  That is precluding any self-destruction that either candidate inflicts upon themselves.

Yeah, we live in interesting times…

The Gay Agenda and Vote

I know that somewhere along the line, someone is going to flame me for a post I write, and hopefully, they’ll read the post in its entirety before uncorking the gas can & lighting the match.  And if any post is going to do that, this will be the one.

Anytime someone starts talking or writing about rights for homosexuals, especially gay marriage, the emotions start rising, and the words start flying before any rationality kicks in.  So let’s make a few things clear.

I have a cousin who is a lesbian, and has been living with her life-partner for over 20 years.  I know of married couples that don’t make it that long, nor have the dedication or commitment of staying together for better or worse.  I have worked with homosexuals, and haven’t felt threatened (although sometimes I have been uncomfortable).  With that being said…

The majority of religions in the world condemn homosexuality, citing it as unnatural and not part of the procreation of the human race.  If we look at the Old Testament, God nuked a city or two for the practice.  Islamic-controlled nations stone or otherwise execute homosexuals (pay attention, you Liberals!).  The modern Christian movement that I was raised in states “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” although there are other Christian churches that seem to confuse & mix the two.

Let’s also note that governments also have made laws banning homosexual relations and acts for moral and health reasons.  And those laws are still on the books in many areas of this country, although they are rarely enforced – non-discrimination laws have mostly overridden these laws & ordinances.

Homosexual couples are fighting for their rights, specifically, for an equal legal standing as a married couple.  They are fighting for this standing using the legal system, and vocally opposing any religious organizations (or others) that voice their objections.  They are also using the educational system to promote their points of view on the acceptability of the homosexual lifestyle – I seem to remember a few years back about a grade-school reader that has the premise that a child has two daddies living in the same house without a mommy present.

Now I’m not going to sit here and pronounce that I have all the solutions – there is no solution that will make everyone happy or comfortable.  Religion is theology and beliefs, and those will not be changed, whether it is Christian, Islam, or the Church of Bob.  Straight couples or singles, like me, will also feel uncomfortable or object to homosexual teachings in the schools, or the promotion of an alternative lifestyle to their children.  The homosexual agenda, in my opinion, is really one to garner acceptance of their lifestyle from a legal, religious, and moral standpoints.

Starting with religion and morality, fat chance.  If the religion prohibits the homosexual act, then unless a religious movement is started that redefines homosexuality as not a sin and not a moral conflict with beliefs, then the religious angle is out.  That now leaves the legal angle.

Laws are fickle things, created and passed by politicians with agendas.  The agenda used to be for the simple reason for improving greater good of the country, and that also included morality (remember Prohibition?).  Now, it’s for garnering votes for the election, and morality (or any semblance thereof) is out the window.

And this is why I object to the recent announcement of President Obama’s support of gay marriage.  This is nothing more than politics, a political expediency designed to 1) appeal to a specific Liberal voting base, 2) fulfill a 3-year old campaign promise to support gay marriage to the states, and 3) to distract the voters from his abysmal record in office.  President Obama is making the rounds in full campaign mode, making speeches and appearing on talk shows, promoting his “new” position.

Why the homosexual community doesn’t see that they are being used by the politicians is beyond me except that they will take whatever support they can get.  The means justifies the ends in this case – President Obama gets support from another group, and that group gets what they want (kind of…).

Whether or not President Obama announced his support of gay marriage, I see where the legality of a homosexual marriage will eventually be approved as a “legal union,” probably within the next five to ten years.  The laws are going to be changed on the local and state level, probably not on the Federal level (unless Congress makes that their business too).  And I see where churches will be created or change their theology to accommodate homosexual marriages.  This will happen without the campaign grandstanding of President Obama.

No, I do not like the thought of homosexuality being front and center in not only a Presidential campaign, but in our society as well.  Do I hate homosexuals?  No, I do not – how can I when I have a cousin that is a lesbian?  But that does not mean that I have to have the homosexual agenda thrust in my face every day.  And that, my readers, is what I find most offensive.

Another Climate Change Conference?

I haven’t been on a rant about the Climate Change / Global Warming / The Sky is Falling Crowd for some time, so it’s time to rectify that shortcoming.

Excerpts from an article reported by Reuters:

The Rio+20 summit in Brazil from June 20-22 is expected to draw more than 50,000 participants from governments, companies and environmental and lobby groups.

The original 19-page draft text has grown to just under 200 pages along with supplementary texts and could be revised at a final round of informal talks in Rio from June 13-15.

Language on phasing out “market distorting and environmentally harmful” subsidies, including for fossil fuels, agriculture and fisheries, could also be weakened or dropped after opposition from Japan, the United States and Canada, observers said.

More than 130 heads of government and deputies are on the summit’s speaker list but some major figures, such as U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, are not expected to attend.

Some have grown tired of U.N. climate meetings after a much-hyped conference in Copenhagen in 2009 failed to deliver a binding deal to halt global warming. Last year, a U.N. summit in South Africa agreed to forge a new deal by 2015, but it will not enter into force until 2020.

Scientists estimate the world’s average temperature has risen by about 0.8 degrees Celsius since 1900, and nearly 0.2 degrees per decade since 1979. They say efforts so far to cut greenhouse gas emissions are not sufficient to stop a rise beyond 2 degrees C this century, which risks an unstable climate in which weather extremes are common.

OK, I understand that there are a few people out there that are truly concerned that a situation can occur that would render the planet uninhabitable. I get that. It used to be fear of nuclear fallout and the subsequent winter. Now we’re supposedly poisoning the planet with our lifestyle and choices.

And that leads me to this thought: 50,000 people attending a conference in Rio? How are they getting there? Sailboats? Canoes? No, they’re flying on jets!! Just the same as Copenhagen, South Africa, Kyoto, and the multitude of other planet-saving conferences that these folks attend.

And their method of addressing the problem is to cut down, restrict, ban, and otherwise limit the fuel for the technology that allows mankind to exist in this day and age. Raising, harvesting, and otherwise distributing food would be impacted. The same transportation that shuttle the “delegates” from conference to conference would also be restricted. Gas, oil, and other fossil fuels would also become regulated (possibly rationed), which would also impact not only highly industrialized nations but the developing ones as well.

However, this is all based on what the scientists, those heroes in white lab coats, are telling us.  Or are they?  Did you catch the weasel words in the last paragraph?  When I see words like “estimate” and “risks”, this implies uncertainty, and uncertainty is guessing.  It also doesn’t help that scandals have exposed the scientific/political agenda of these same scientists manipulating the data to reinforce their assertions.

So what’s left?  My opinion is that these people who are trying to save the Earth from the human species are not doing this with altruistic motives in mind.  Rather, they are trying to gather power and wealth from the countries that are sponsoring them.  I’m sure that if enough research was done to find out the connections that the various delegates have with energy companies, corporations, and other concerns would show that they are promoting an agenda.  After all, Al Gore did, and I highly doubt he was the only one to make huge profits from the Global Warming / Climate Change movement.

With the world in an economic crisis, governments do not have the financial strength to pay too much attention to this movement.  Perhaps it’s just as well.  We’ve seen the disasters in this country with our government subsidizing the “green” companies – losing money hand over fist, and declaring bankruptcy.  And the ones walking away with the money are the well-connected executives with us paying the bill.

And I’m tired of that.  Aren’t you?