When is Help Deserved

I was watching a political satire recently that got me thinking.  A number of white hillbillies were asking when the politicians were going to clean-up Washington.  The speakers were proud to state that they were living on disability, unemployment, food stamps or farm subsidies.  They felt that had earned these payments, but were upset that the government couldn't seem to balance the budget.

Do we live in a society that expects the government to take care of us (The Nanny State)?  Do you believe this is the case?

Let's be clear upfront.  I believe in helping your neighbor.  I spoke about this in an earlier post.  We have a moral obligation to take care of those around us and help them in any way that we can.  This is a thought process from the 19th century, but it deserves to be dusted off.  Not wanting to be taxed to "help" someone is not the same as not wanting to help someone.  Using the War on Poverty as proclaimed by Lyndon Johnson in the 1960's as an example, we can conclude that throwing money at the problem alone does not solve the problem.  This is not to say that to solve these issues doesn't take money, but additional resources (time, skills training, counseling) are needed to make the money expenditure successful.

There is a couple I know with a child with a rare disease that causes her to be unable to digest most foods correctly.  This leads to extreme gastrointestinal pain, rashes and even bloody stools.  The family has learned to feed this child only the foods that she can handle and slowly over years they have been able to add some additional foods.  Recently this couple had their second child.  Unfortunately, this second child has the same rare disease, and it is even worse.  Needless to say, the parents are stressed and trying to figure out what they can feed their new child while still caring for the first.  They are still working through this process and not getting much sleep.  As a group, we have rallied around this couple and begun spending evenings and early mornings on shifts, caring for the children while the parents sleep.  It is not ideal, and we don't know how long it will take, but we are assisting the only way we know can.  We could provide money for a paid caregiver, but would you trust your new sick child to just anyone.  I wouldn't and neither would they.  We can only offer our time and our compassion.  Money isn't the issue.

We have a right to expect the government to provide for the common defense.  We have the right to expect the government to allow us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We do not have the right to expect the government to take care of us. We have the right to take care of ourselves, our families and our friends.  The government (local, state or federal) has zero obligation or even any right to provide for us.  The government creates no wealth.  They print the money we use, but they don't create the goods and services that make those pieces of paper valuable.

Since the government doesn't make wealth, it needs to tax its citizens in order to pay for anything.  I have no problem being taxed to pay for defense.  I have a problem being taxed to pay for other social programs.  I should choose how to spend my money helping others.  The government has demonstrated over the years that it still doesn't understand how to allocate and spend my money better than me.

As citizens we deserve to pursue our definition of happiness with the least amount of involvement from the government.  The government should have no claim on the money I earn beyond the basics of running the government.  Those of you out there who think you earned some sort of government payment are simply wrong.  Unemployment is only partially funded by any contributions you might have made while working.  Most of it comes from the employers who are required to contribute.  This isn't a long-term solution nor was it meant to be.  Ninety-nine weeks should be more than enough to find some other job.  It may not be the job you want or similar to the one you had, but it is a job.  Disability should be reserved for those who truly can't work, not the thousands who just don't want to work.  You have a bad back, yet you think you can't work.  You sit around all day anyway.  Learn a new skill that lets you sit.  You can still contribute.  Food stamps should be for food.  Period.  Nothing else.  Period.  Farm subsidies were an attempt to make sure the farmer could survive and leads to price fixing of commodities.  We try to live in an open capitalistic society and yet we have fixed prices so that we can pay a farmer to not grow something.  In the old days if you didn't produce something you certainly didn't get paid for it.  Let's get back to that.  We have a romantic notion of farming and how it is a family business.  It was before, it isn't now.  If you can't make a living growing or producing something on that farm, get out of the business and do something else.  As a taxpayer, I shouldn't be required to pay you not to work when you could easily earn money by actually working.  I'm talking to you Al Gore and all of your farm subsidies.  Gentlemen farmers certainly shouldn't earn money for not farming when they had not intention of farming in the first place.

If you earned it, then it is your money.  If you didn't work (today) to get that money then you didn't earn it, and you don't deserve it.  If your friend or family chooses to give you money that they earned that is up to them, but you don't deserve some nameless, faceless stranger to provide it for you.  Learn a new skill.  Get a new job.  Find a way to provide for yourself without requiring Big Brother to provide it for you.  If you begin to rely on the government to provide, you may find that this benevolent group one day decides that you no longer qualify for their gifts and benefits, and suddenly you no longer have anyone to blame but yourself.  Support yourself and those you care about.  Soon enough you will find that you don't need the government as much as it needs you.

Look at Me

I received the following this week in an email.

What we have all wanted to say with the start of the NFL season.  Perhaps all team owners should be sent the following:  "So with all the kindness I can muster, I give this one piece of advice to the next pop star who is asked to sing the national anthem at a sporting event: save the vocal gymnastics and the physical gyrations for your concerts.  Just sing this song the way you were taught to sing it in kindergarten - straight up, no styling.  Sing it with the constant awareness that there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines watching you from bases and outposts all over the world.  Don't make them cringe with your self-centered ego gratification.  Sing it as if you are standing before a row of 86-year-old WWII vets wearing their Purple Hearts, Silver Stars and flag pins on their cardigans and you want them to be proud of you for honoring them and the country they love - not because you want them to think you are a superstar musician.  They could see that from your costume, makeup and your entourage.  Sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner' with the courtesy and humility that tells the audience that it is about America, not you.  Francis Scott Key does not need any help."  Semper Fi - From a Marine Corps Colonel in Afganistan.
This got me thinking about our society in general.  Why does every public figure go out of their way to draw attention to themselves?  Why do they say the oddest things to get that publicity?  How is that the American public continues to believe anything they say?

If you think back to any politician holding a press conference you know what I mean.  Forget the words.  Remember the scene.  There may have been children or some other group perceived to be exploited or weak (to draw an emotional response).  There was probably a large American Flag (or many flags) along with the required American flag pin (the politicians favorite way to show they support America while simultaneously trashing our way of life).  

I am sure you all remember the members of Congress who following the invasion of Iraq were quick to point out that they supported the troops but did not support the war.  In other words, we support you the American soldier risking your life at the behest of your Commander-in-Chief along with congressional funding to prosecute the war but we don't support what you are doing.  Huh?  How can you support the man or woman risking their lives and then tell them you don't support what they are risking their lives to do.  It doesn't matter if you think the war in Iraq was justified or not.  If you voted to fund it, you supported it.  If you didn't want to support it, don't vote to fund it. Simple.

Where do you draw the line on celebrity?  Does it matter that an actor or actress can transport you to another land through the shear force of the acting ability?  Does that also qualify them to understand the differences between Micro and Macro Economics?  When I read up on a topic I tend to go to the primary source and then only from authors who actually know what they are speaking about.  Just because an actor or actress belives in a cause in no way qualifies them to tell me how to spend my money.  It in no way qualifies them to explain to me why some political action is unjust and "unconstitutional".  When you have the read the Constitution we can talk, until them go back to acting.  I don't try to do plumbing, because I am not a plumber.  Stick to what you know and then we will all be happier. 

This Marine Colonel nailed it.  But lets not just stop at musicians.  When you are addressing the American public remember who you are speaking to and where this might be seen.  Don't disrespect those who have sacrificed their lives for your country.  Give them the courtesy of being truthful and honest.  Stand up for what you believe, but don't hide behind the American flag and tell them how much you care about them while simultaneously cutting funding for Veterans Affairs, denying them a living wage while voting yourself more money or even draping yourself in the flag (figuratively and literally).  The American flag and all that it symbolizes speaks volumes to millions of people in this country and throughout the world.  Not all of it great, but we strive to do the best we can every day.
Think for yourselves.  Be respectful of those who preceded you.  Remember that you be an agent of positive change or an agent of negative destruction.  Which one are you going to be today?

Taxes to Death

I care about the money taken out of my paycheck each week.  I have wondered in the past why the government deserves such a large percentage of my paycheck when I was the one who worked the hours to earn it.  I was the one that woke up early and spent more of my life with my co-workers than I did with my family and for my efforts I was "allowed" to give the government (federal, state and local) about 50% of my efforts.  It is sometimes easy to just look at my paycheck and feel rich.  That is until I look at my paycheck and realize that I could be richer without all of these taxes.

What do those taxes go towards.  There are the obvious taxes for Social Security (not yours, but some retired person), Federal Tax (to fund our government), State Tax (same as the federal) and Local (ditto).  Throw in the Unemployment insurance along with all of the pre-tax and post-tax deductions and guess what, you make a whole lot less than you thought you did.  If you think you earn $50,000 per year, you are actually only taking home around $25,000.  Quite a shock I know.  Win the lottery and you will find yourself with considerably less than the winning total.  You bought the ticket with your take home pay (after all taxes) and suddenly you win, and the government gets 50% of those winnings.  Great system we live under.

Our government pundits will tell you that we should be happy to only pay 50% of our income because there are other countries where this number is close to 90% of a person's income.  Talk about demotivating.  In our own country during the Great Depression there was a brief period under the FDR administration where citizens were taxed at 100% above $10,000.  That meant that if you earned $20,000 in 1935 you took $10,000 right off the top to the government and then still got to pay taxes on the remaining $10,000.  WOW.  Is it any wonder that the Great Depression dragged on for much longer than it should have.  We had politicians telling their workforce to make and produce less or else you would lose it.  Thanks government.

The same government pundits will tell you that you have a moral obligation to give your money to others.  I am a big believer in providing for our fellow man.  As I wrote in a previous post, we have an obligation to take care of those around us if we have the means.  The problem comes when government determines who gets help and who doesn't.  It is my money, shouldn't I decide who to help or not help based upon my beliefs.  Forced charity is not morally correct, it is simply stealing from those who have and creating a dependent class of people looking to government to solve their problems.

Government is simply a group of individuals who have been elected to determine the direction of the country (state or local included).  If the government levels were three companies merging, there would be quite a bit of overlap.  We have federal courts, state courts and local magistrates.  Why do we need so many levels.  We have local police, state police and federal law enforcement.  Again, why so much.  Every time another level of management (or elected politician) is added, we suddenly have more costs and nothing more to show for it.

I need laws to be enacted and laws to be enforced.  I don't need a new law everyday (or in many cases many more than that).  Politician should not be a career choice.  It should be like serving on a committee at work.  Very part-time and not highly compensated.  Serve your time and move on.  Apparently our politicians didn't get this memo.

Using red-tape to further subsidize the government is also wasteful.  A state license should only be required if the licensing organization will actually stand behind this license.  Make it hard to get and require continuing education to maintain.  Should an insurance agent be licensed? Trained yes, licensed not really.  The licensing doesn't protect you from shysters, and it doesn't prevent anything.  Every professional should be trained, and records of that training maintained.  In the case of the insurance agent, I have never bought insurance from any individual who was actually providing the insurance.  They were selling someone else's product.  The Allstate agent works for Allstate.  They aren't personally guaranteeing to rebuild your house if it burns down, Allstate is.  Why the license.  Money for the state.

It goes without saying that the more red-tape added to any situation in your life costs the businesses you frequent to raise their prices.  If the price of gasoline goes up, you are hurt when you fill up your car.  Imagine if you are driving an 18-wheeler.  That extra costs are passed on to the grocery store who in turn passes it on to you.  Suddenly that bag of potato chips that used to cost $1.99 now cost $3.99.  You didn't get more, you just paid more.  Thanks government.

The end result of all this is to push any and all politicians to justify any new taxes as well as justifying the existing taxes you pay.  This can be on gasoline, milk or FICA.  Everything if free game and should be questioned.  Just because it has been on the book for decades doesn't mean it still should be.  Should we still have a telecommunications tax that dates to 1898 (the Spanish-American War).  I think not.  If we haven't paid for that brief war by now it would seem we never will.

Hug a Vet

What is your first reaction when you see a man or woman in uniform?

How about the older men who wear hats or rings showing their years of service for past wars?

If you aren't walking up to each of these individuals and thanking them for their service then I contend you are being selfish  and ungrateful.  See it is easy to say you support the military.  It is quite another thing to thank them for what they do.  Thanking them could be as simple as saying Thank You in person.  Maybe it is providing for their families while they are serving overseas.  Sometimes it is providing a job when they need it.  When I was growing up I was taught to say thank you to someone when they gave me a gift.  These service men and women of the past and present gave you a gift.  You should thank them for it.

You see these men and women volunteered (maybe even drafted in the past), but they all served.   They all risked their lives to protect and maintain you and your family.  They fought and in many cases died so that you might have the right to denounce them.

That is right.

They fought for your right to be a jerk.  Because our Constitution provides you the right to act like an idiot on message boards and at the DMV and even in church.  They fought to protect all of your rights granted under our Constitution, not just the once you agree with.  ALL OF THEM.

Take this opportunity to donate time or money to some of the links below or better yet share your skills with a vet and their family.  They deserve your support.  Will you help?

If you currently serve or have served in the past.  THANK YOU.  There are no words that can express my thanks for your sacrifice.  Thank you for your willingness to serve.  We would not be here if you had not.  Walk with pride and know that you are appreciated.  So the next time you see that vet or active service person, thank them profusely for their sacrifice, because they have sacrificed for you.  Can you say the same thing?

Wounded Warriors Project


US Dept of Veterans Affairs

Who Represents You?

Who is in charge of our country?

It might sound like a simple question, but as usual it is much more complicated than that.

According to the US Constitution, it is "We the People".  It's right there in the preamble so it must be true.  Right?  We should be in charge but in practice we are a representative democracy (not a direct democracy).  What this means is that we elect government officials (US House and Senate) to represent us and pass and enforce laws for the land.

A direct democracy was tried in ancient Greece but it broke down as the population grew and diverse interests began to surface.  In a direct democracy, every person (or eligible person in the case of Greece) had a vote and could advance any topic or issue they desired.  You can imagine how this works in a group of 10.  Can you imagine it in the case of 350 million?  The closest direct democracy system we have today is the State of California.  In California the state allows for public referrendums to be added to the ballot during each election.  This is why California has different pollutions laws for cars that are stricter than any other state.  All of these referrendums have led to legistlative red tape that in no small part has contributed to California struggling financially.

Direct democracy doesn't work in practice even if it seems to look good on paper.  Representative democracy is the best hybrid alternative yet invented.  But it has its limitations and problems as well.  Using the US Senate as an example, you will understand the problem better.  Each state (regardless of size) has 2 Senators.  In a small state that might mean that the 2 Senators are an accurate representation of a majority of its citizens.  Delaware comes to mind.  Being the smallest state, it is more likely that 2 Senators coming from that state have a better than even chance to represent most of the states interests.  Take Alaska as the oposite extreme.  Alaska is the largest state and also has only 2 Senators.  The likelihood that those 2 Senators acurately represent the interests of the cities as well as the countryside is pretty slim.  Hence the problem.  While the Senators in question represent someone, they don't necessarily represent everyone or in some cases even most of the population they cover.  See the problem.

The US House of Representatives is supposed to balance this equality of all states with representative numbers based upon the population of the state.  This may have sounded good in 1789, but I am certain the founders never envisioned that the population would move so dramatically from the Northeast to the South and West.  This means that the House has shifted over the last 30+ years to be more representative in these new areas and less where the traditional government authority resided.

Hence, special interests have cropped up over the years to represent the interests of those with the money to buy the policies they want.  Sometimes these policies benefit you and I and sometimes they harm us.  At best we can hope that they don't impact us at all (good luck with that thought though).  This means that if a group of people (be they corporations or a professional group) that has enough money can more likely pursuade the members of Congress to change laws to benefit their interests.

Lets look at the example of a small company called Aereo.  This company wants to allow people in certain cities to rent an over-the-air antenna to watch TV.  On the surgace that sounds reasonable since I can put up an antenna at my house and do the same thing.  The difference here is that you have to live within a certain restricted geography and you receive the TV programming over the internet (using an app for your iPad or over your computers).  That is a bit of an oversimplification, but that is the basic premise.

Now that sounds like a good idea to me since my antenna tends to get a little fuzzy when the wind blows hard or it rains.  Not having to rely on my own equipment would be great.  The programming is available to anyone who wants to put up the antenna so there should be no problem.  I am just renting someone elses antenna and watching TV.  Unfortunately, the TV networks don't see things this way.  They are paid fees by the cable company to carry their channels even though those same broadcasts are available for free over the air.  Aereo doesn't pay the networks to broadcast these channels and there is the rub.  The networks have sued Aereo in each city they operate.  They feel that they should get paid and if they don't get paid they are going to move all of their programming to paid cable channels and just use the over the air channels to put out public access programming.  So if you want to watch any primetime programmaing you will need to get a cable subscription to see your show.  How rude?

Now the networks are lobbying congress to change the laws to close the loophole that allows Aereo to exist.  They will probably be successful since they have deep pockets and a long-standing relationship with the government.  What has not been talked about is the spectrum that these networks use?  You see the government gave the spectrum (that is the radio or TV band that brings those wonderful shows to your antenna and then to your TV or radio) to these networks at the beginning of the 20th century.  That's right, in an effort to commercialize and create a "public beneft" the goverment liscensed this spectrum to small companies that eventually became ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX.  We the people gave these groups the right to exist and now they wish to remove our ability to see their programming.

The government of the people, for the people and by the people doesn't truly exist in the above example.  This is just one example of many that occur daily.  If you think WE are in charge, how mistaken you are.  IF you think the US Constitution still applies then make everyone in the government know what you think.  We are a nation of laws and traditions, but I don't belive the founders from 1789 would recognize the country they founded.  We no longer control the governement, it controls us.  Stand up and be counted.  Stand up for what you believe.  You may be standing alone for a time, but you won't be alone for long.  There is truly safety in numbers, but the number has to start as one.  Will you be that one in your community?  Start with your own home.  Don't patronize companies, organizations or policial groups that don't represent your beliefs.  DO patronize those that do.  It isn't always black and white, but getting into the gray in life can lead down the road to justification of bad decisions that lead to worse decisions. Check out this video put together about the wisdom of our founding fathers and determine if we can get back to these principles in your lifetime.  We are only cheating our children and grandchildren if we don't.

You Get What you Pay For

I have a friend who wanted to get a new tablet computer.  He talked with his friends and they advised him on one platform or another.  The consensus was that he should get an iPad.  Now, I have no recommendation on the operating system of choice, but for some people this matters.  What each individual needs to remember when choosing an expensive item or anything else in the world is that the choice has to make sense for themselves and their needs.  It has to be based upon facts, not hopes and promises.

This friend in question was convinced by a less than scrupulous salesperson that even though he wanted an iPad this tablet was just as good for less money.  What he got was a tablet computer that makes money for the cell phone carrier (so they are happy) but doesn't really meet my friend's needs.  He has lost his data (twice) and still doesn't know how to use the tablet.  In the right hands, this is probably a fine tablet and very functional.  In the
hands of another person, it is a paperweight.  When you are unsure of what you are doing, you will often need the advice of a friend or business associate you can trust.

My friend got what he paid for in this case.  He got a tablet he can't use to it's fullest potential and he has a long-term contract to constantly remind him that he was taken.  He may eventually figure out what he needs to know or he may get the advise of someone he trusts.  This got me thinking about all of the advise that litters my email box on a daily basis.  From money making schemes to political "facts".

We have all received (at least once) the email from the Nigerian Prince (or lawyer) telling us we have won a vast sum of money if we will only go to the trouble of claiming it.  This scam must work on some people or it simply wouldn't still exist.  There is even a movie coming out about it.  This scam got me further thinking about the promises from our political agents and government representatives.  There is the believe that if someone in authority stands at a microphone with an official looking seal behind them, then whatever they say must be true.

There was a time in the 1950's that if something was on TV it was true.  This wasn't really the case, but throughout the country it was believed.  This phenomenon even extended to print media.  Today, most adults no longer believe everything they are told (except in the case of medical advise, but that is a different story).  The result is that people have become less trusting of those in authority and now feel the need to check facts before accepting something.

The problem comes when we see enough people we trust spout the same opinion.  We hear anything enough times and we start to accept it as fact.  Certain websites exist for the sole purpose of refuting email chains.  Imagine, an entire business devoted to fact checking millions of lies spread throughout the internet.  How is it that these websites exist (as well as their primary sources) and yet we have the news media and politicians blatantly misleading the American public?  The answer is usually power and money.  Sometimes both, but usually one or the other.

When someone you don't know tells you something that you didn't already know, you should verify it.  Don't verify it with a news article that sounds strangely like an exact copy of the conversation you just had.  Verify the primary source.  If your friend tells you the earth is flat.  Ask where they heard that.  It could simply be that your friend misquoted the source, as in "... during the late 15th century it was once believed that the earth was flat."  Same information, but different meaning.  Go to the primary source.  Don't rely on someone else's interpretation.  Sometimes this isn't possible if the source is in another language. In that case, do your best to seek out a source you can reliably trust based upon other instances that this source was correct on.  A good track record is a good track record.  Trust but verify is a good way to view anything coming out of Washington.

So what happened with my friend.  He got the exact product he was willing to pay for.  Had he put more effort (and money) into the purchase he would have had a better experience.  You should do the same.   After all, you get what you pay for.

Lies Lies Lies

There was a time in the past when I applied for a new job.  I interviewed and waited for the hiring manager to contact me.  When he did, he refused to offer me the job until I agreed to take it.  That's right he wanted me to take the job before I knew how much the pay would be.  Before I knew about any benefits or paid time off.  He even wanted me to say yes before he told me the exact location I would be working.  That is a lot to ask of any potential employee.  This hiring manager didn't want to do all of the paperwork necessary to hire me if I wasn't going to say yes.  He wasn't permitted to tell me anything without doing the paperwork.  Quite a strange situation.

In 2010 Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) then the Speaker of the House of Representatives is famously quoted as saying "We have to pass it before we know what is in it (the Affordable Care Act more commonly called Obamacare)." While this was a contextually parsed phrase it made me think back to that employer many years ago.  He wanted me to take a job without knowing all of the particulars.  Our government wanted to pass a piece of legislation that effectively gave government control over 1/6 of our economy (and growing) without really educating anyone on what this law would change.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi after a Democratic caucus meeting on November 14, 2013. John Shinkle/POLITICO

The context of that statement by Ms Pelosi was that it would take years for the people to learn how great this piece of legislation really will be.  It has been years since this quote, and I think it is time to review what we know at this point.  Certainly there is much to learn in the future, but if the past is any representation (and if you are reading this blog you are a student of political history) then hold on because it is going to be a bumpy ride.

Whenever a historical issue is debated it is always from the position of hindsight.  It is easy to take potshots at figures of the past (recent or ancient) and expect that they should act in a certain way.  It is easy to say we would have done things correctly without having to do so.  This situation will be no different.  It is universally believed that the United States has the greatest healthcare services available anywhere in the world.  The rich, famous and powerful all tend to come to the US for their urgent medical needs.  This speaks volumes about the quality of care received here.  This is not to say that outstanding medical personal don't exist elsewhere in the world, but the US tends to excel in more areas than any other country.

What is also universally understood, is the costs associated with this care.  Doctors routinely perform tests that while informative are not truly necessary in all cases.  Why is this done?  To prevent someone (i.e. malpractice attorneys) from second-guessing their decisions.  Believe it or not there used to be a time when doctors opinions were valued, and the patient trusted the doctor to do the best job they could.  Today, we expect our very human doctors to be perfect at all times.  You should give me a ring when you have made it through a single day being perfect.  I won't be waiting by the phone anytime soon.  Doctors make mistakes.  We hope those mistakes aren't huge and certainly hope they aren't on us.  "Routine" surgery simply means that it is done frequently.  It doesn't mean that it is done perfectly every time.  The old phrase, practice makes perfect, has some bearing.  Instead, we expect, perfect practice to make perfect.  Good luck finding that anywhere in this world.  Suffice it to say that costs have skyrocketed with new, novel testing and the need to cover the physician's behind from a legal standpoint.  Is it any wonder that costs have increased exponentially over time?

In an effort to control costs, a number of first world countries have tried to institute universal healthcare.  Simply, if you live there, you get care.  In theory this makes moral sense because the risks are shared, and all could benefit.  In reality (as with many things) it leads to a reduced amount of care and in a number of cases reduced quality of care for most.  So what sounds good in theory doesn't work in reality.

Now transition to the Obamacare situation in the US.  The bill was passed to much fanfare but very little concrete understanding of what had just been signed into law.  Now three years later we are finally seeing some of the fruit of this labor.

A national website that doesn't work as promised (that is putting it mildly).  Those in authority were told that the website was not working correctly and wouldn't be correctly operational nearly 7 months before it went live.  I didn't hear anything about that on October 1st, did you?

The company that built the website was run by a political donor and close friend of our President and First Lady.  Even if there was no impropriety here, doesn't the President need to remove even the appearance of impropriety?  Based upon the facts we have been shown, apparently not.

The President promised that if you liked your health plan you could keep it and the doctors you were comfortable with as long as you like.  Seems this might have been false as well for millions of current citizens as well as millions to come.  In fact, an internal HHS audit predicted that nearly 70% of all Americans would be unable to maintain the health plans they were currently in and would need to change to one of the exchange plans.  I am no mathematical whiz, but I believe 70% (245 million people) is just a bit larger than zero.

So Ms Pelosi, you were correct when you said we would need to pass the legislation in order to see how sweeping a change it really would be.  I am not sure that anyone in the government was exactly clear at how sweeping a change it would be.  Get ready to pay more for less.  It is a simple economic principle.  There are limits to everything.

We have effectively added millions of people to the rosters of patients needing care.  Many of these are people who couldn't get insurance coverage previously.  There is a limited number of physicians and how many patients they can see and surgeries they can perform.  Adding millions of patients and no additional physicians seems like a recipe for disaster.  There is a limited pool of money with which to pay for these services.  If you go to the grocery store and try to buy a gallon of milk, but only have enough money to buy a quart, I am certain you won't be walking out of the store with a gallon of milk.  This is no different.  In our system, someone needs to pay for the service.  Who will this be?

If you are naive enough to believe the following:

- Millions of additional patients
- No appreciable increase in physicians, hospitals or medical care facilities
- Increase in quality of care
- Reduced cost to consumer

then you truly deserve the government that you have elected.  If instead you believe what you can see with your own two eyes and what you know from your own lives then welcome to the clear headed rational thinkers.  You are in a distinctly small minority.  Too many people want to believe what they are told simply because accepting the truth makes their lives harder and less enjoyable.  What these people fail to realize (much like the ostrich with it's head in the sand at the first sign of danger) is that your life can be worse even if you don't want to acknowledge it.  The first step to change is recognizing that there is a problem.  Can you see the problem?

Reflections of Fear

Society is a reflection of our greatest fears at the time and our laws and actions demonstrate this all too clearly.  In 1898 it was Spain. The USS Maine had been destroyed in Havanna, Cuba, and the US media wanted revenge.  The journalists of the era whipped up the public to the point where war was the only option left to President McKinley.  A war he was reluctant to ask Congress to declare. The impetus of the war was the sinking of the Maine, but many historians are not convinced that the Spanish destroyed the ship, and it may have been a huge accident.  Even so, history was changed that fateful night for Cuba, Spain, the Philippines and even the United States. 

Prior to the Spanish-American War of 1898, Theodore Roosevelt was known in the circles of power, but he was not generally well regarded amongst the political elite.  After his charge up San Juan Hill, all of that changed.  He became too famous to ignore (again the media should be given credit/blame for this fame).  President McKinley was convinced to add him as his Vice-President on the 1900 ticket.  That may have been the end of Teddy Roosevelt in US Politics since only two sitting Vice-Presidents have been elected to the top spot in the last 160+ years (Martin Van Buren and George HW Bush for the record).  President McKinley became only the third President to be assassinated which allowed TR to advance to the Presidency.

While we can't assume what might have happened had McKinley survived, we can certainly look at the actions of TR to see what he never would have had the opportunity to accomplish.  TR is known for many things.  In historical hindsight he can be viewed as at least an activist (read progressive) President.  If progressive sounds positive, remember what that actually means in reality.  Progressives decided that since they were smarter than everyone else then only they could decide what was best for every citizen.  
TR felt that as President it was his obligation to intervene anywhere he wanted.  He wanted to end a coal miners strike so he declared it a national emergency and forced the strikers and owners to settle.  This led directly to the rise of organized labor in this country.  We will discuss the ripple effect of this in a future post.  He decided that college football was too violent (this was in 1903), and the NCAA was formed.  Again, while this may have led to some good, it definitely seems at best heavy handed coming from a sitting President.  Imagine if that happened today.  What if a President spoke out about an NFL team name in the local DC area (sorry that has actually happened, so maybe it is a great example of progressive over-reach).

Here is another example of doing whatever we want because we know best.  TR wanted a canal to join the Atlantic and the Pacific (modelled after the Suez Canal) to be controlled by the US.  He looked at a map and decided that a little isthmus joining North America and South America was the ideal spot.  He approached the government of this country and offered to buy the land.  Not surprisingly, the land was not for sale.  Anyone else would have said, we tried, and it just wasn't going to work.  Maybe we need to look elsewhere.  Not TR.  His agents approached the rebels in the area, got them to start a conflict and declare their independence.  Shockingly, once the rebels won their "independence" they gave the land in question to the US.  The canal was finished and became very profitable.  During the term of another Progressive President (Jimmy Carter) this same hard fought canal was given back to the country that originally gave it to us.  You know it as the Panama Canal, but it should more correctly be called the Columbian Canal since the land originally belonged to Columbia.

At the start of the 20th Century this country became seized by a thought process that seems normal today.  It was not the way things were done.  It was a new way of governing that was determined to fundamentally change the way this country functioned, even if it had to be destroyed to change it into what these progressives envisioned.  It hasn't truly gone away and just keeps evolving.  In fact it is still with us today.  Take a look around you, and you will see it everywhere. Healthcare, foreign policy, and accountability have all taken a page from the progressive playbook, and they are transforming our country into something that even TR and his buddies would not recognize. It might be hard to believe that a man willing to start a war to get what he wanted might still be surprised by the US of today.  The problem is that more of us aren't equally surprised.  

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.  - Theodore Roosevelt

Sounds good doesn't it.  It sounds inspiring.  Except TR never believed he was wrong and never believed that he didn't have the right to try anything he wanted as long as it was something he thought was worth doing.  He loved the spotlight and did not like to be told he was wrong.  He didn't apologize for what he did or what he believed because as he said above, the only person who counts is the person doing and even in failure it is okay as long as he has dared to challenge greatness.  We don't need a timid soul at the top, but we also don't need someone willing to reward ineptitude and cover up incompetence to advance their policies and do whatever they want because they want it.  The government can only govern with the consent of the governed.  Unfortunately, the legacy of TR (yes he was technically a Republican, although that is really just a technicality) has damaged this country far more than he might have envisioned.  The reason more people distrust politicians is that regardless of the letter next to their name, they are not truly any different and feel more comfortable being labeled a moderate.  Moderate is just another way of describing a politician who believes in focus groups, not principles.

Us vs Them

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.  F. Scott Fitzgerald

A recent email we received got us thinking about how different people view the same issue.  Here is the email in question.

A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She lowered her altitude and spotted a man in a boat below. She shouted to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am." 
The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon, approximately 30 feet above ground elevation of 2,346 feet above sea level. You are at 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west longitude.
She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Republican.
"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"
"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct. But I have no idea what to do with your information, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."
The man smiled and responded, "You must be an Obama-Democrat."
"I am," replied the balloonist. "How did you know?"
"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are -- or where you are going. You've risen to where you are, due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. You're in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now it's my fault."

Which person do you identify with more?  While this email was mean to be satirical, as with any satire it brings up some interesting points.  As Americans, we often feel more comfortable identifying with the D or the R.  We do this mostly because we feel that one group, or another seems to fit our main issue (some people even have two issues) and we have no idea how the other side could possibly be opposed to our issue.

Around this office, we tend to identify more closely with one party versus another, but don't be fooled we are neither a D nor an R.  How could this be?  It is quite simple.  We recognize that we have more in common with our fellow Americans than we have differences.  We may have some heated exchanges with the opposite opinion and certainly they with us.  This doesn't mean that we don't value everyone equally.  

Equality is just that.  The US Constitution protects everyone's right to free speech.  Thankfully it does not require us to listen to someone exercising their First Amendment rights.  That's right, just because you are saying it doesn't mean we have to listen to it.  This applies to the people and ideas you like as well as the ones you don't.  We are morally opposed to many facets of our society that are considered "mainstream" or accepted.  This doesn't mean someone can't hold that belief.  We will work to change that opinion and any associated laws to correct what we see as a wrong, but they still have the right to believe what they want.

Blaming others for our failings does nothing to promote harmony and equality.  It reduces the pursuit of happiness that Thomas Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence way back in 1776.  We don't believe that doing whatever makes you feel good is appropriate for society since what makes you happy may make someone else very sad (ie legalization of controlled substances and drugs).  Making laws that restrict an action by an individual that restricts that individuals happiness must show that by restricting that action it is in the best interest of the individual and society and in general.

An example would be nice at this point.  In our local area, it is legal to burn non-toxic items with a 2 hour notice to the local fire police.  We are required to have an adult present and the fire must remain under that adult's control at all times (water hose, rake, etc).  Once the fire is completely out, we must then call the local fire police to notify them that the fire is now out.  This protects the property owner and the community from sending fire trucks to put out a leaf fire.  This reduces the costs for everyone and eliminates unnecessary and incorrect fire calls.  The service works very well, and while it provides some restrictions, we are not unduly inconvenienced, and there is a purpose behind the restrictions that were clearly explained.

Years ago we owned property a few miles away and unfortunately in a different county.  This county and the local leaders had decided that in the spirit of going green, they would no longer allow any type of burning within 500 yards of any structure.  This was a very suburban area, and there existed very few properties with structures (theirs or their neighbors) more than 500 yards from anything else.  Effectively the law restricted the burning of anything on any property.  No grills, no fire pits, no leaf burning, no brush burning - nothing.  Think about that for a minute.  By restricting the burning of anything, the local leaders had to contract with a national garbage collection service to pick-up more trash (more heavy duty trucks spewing out more diesel fumes).  In addition, all of the leaves and brush needed to be collected by locally maintained heavy duty trucks also spewing diesel fumes.  In the end the idea of going green resulted in significantly higher pollution levels as measured by the EPA than surrounding areas.  A "good" idea gone wrong to be sure.

The next time you hear a talking head spew out their 30 second sound bite, close your eyes and try to decide which party they might belong to.  IF you can't decide, open your eyes and listen.  Maybe this individual has something of value to say.  A rational person doesn't play the middle to garner the highest public opinion on a topic.  A rational person backs up their beliefs with facts and genuine passion.  Don't be afraid to form an opinion on a topic and then try to poke holes in your own opinion.  If you can't find any major flaws it might be time to share it with others.  

If you objectively review your opinion and it leaks like a sieve, maybe that is something you should keep to yourself.  Sharing your thoughts can be valuable to others, but it doesn't mean they will always be receptive.  We are all the same on the inside.  Keep that in mind before you condemn another person's thoughts and beliefs.  Disagreeing on a topic and rationally discussing it can lead both parties to a better understanding of their differences and might actually lead to a better idea.  Maybe our politicians should think about that when they stand in front of a microphone.  Just because they are talking doesn't mean you have to listen.

Wisdom of our Elders

Wisdom of our elders.  Much has been said about the decline of society.  Every older generation feels that the younger is doomed, and the world is about to end.  One of these speakers from the past was Paul Harvey.  If you are under the age of 40 you may not remember this gentleman.  He served as a mirror of society for decades.  His radio delivery was distinct and memorable.  Collected below is one of his more popular monologues.  This monologue varied slightly over the years, but the basics are below.  If you would like to hear him read another version from his radio show, click here.

If I were the devil . . . 
I would gain control of the most powerful nation in the world; 
I would delude their minds into thinking that they had come from man's effort, instead of God's blessings; 
I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people, instead of the other way around; 
I would dupe entire states into relying on gambling for their state revenue; 
I would convince people that character is not an issue when it comes to leadership; 
I would make it legal to take the life of unborn babies; 
I would make it socially acceptable to take one's own life, and invent machines to make it convenient; 
I would cheapen human life as much as possible so that the life of animals are valued more than human beings; 
I would take God out of the schools, where even the mention of His name was grounds for a lawsuit; 
I would come up with drugs that sedate the mind and target the young, and I would get sports heroes to advertise them; 
I would get control of the media, so that every night I could pollute the mind of every family member for my agenda; 
I would attack the family, the backbone of any nation. 
I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable. If the family crumbles, so does the nation; 
I would compel people to express their most depraved fantasies on canvas and movie screens, and I would call it art; 
I would convince the world that people are born homosexuals, and that their lifestyles should be accepted and marveled; 
I would convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few who call themselves authorities and refer to their agenda as politically correct; 
I would persuade people that the church is irrelevant and out of date, and the Bible is for the naive; 
I would dull the minds of Christians, and make them believe that prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are optional; 
I guess I would leave things pretty much the way they are.

Paul Harvey 1999 (adjusted by Paul Harvey since 1965)

In 1965, it might have felt as though the US was coming apart at the seams.  The youth was rebelling against their parents and grandparents.  They were grappling with responsibilities they didn't want and claimed they had never asked for.  They wanted to just be left alone to do whatever struck their fancy and the older generation had no easy answer for this.  The United States was changed forever by this generation.  Many of these "Baby Boomers" were solid citizens trying to raise families, work hard and contribute to the rest of society.  Unfortunately, the relative few advocating this new lifestyle began to ruin it for everyone.

The mass consumption of drugs designed to change a person's perception of reality (because it was perceived that an altered state was the only state to live in) became popular and commonplace.  These youths believed that reality was just too hard, and they needed to be transported to another place of being.  The old guard tried to fight back, but by then it was too late.  Simply by outlawing these illicit substances they drew more attention to them and therefore more of the youth.

The idea of doing what makes you feel good arose in the late 1960's into the 1970's.  Depravity increased with each passing year.  The rush of doing something illicit or depraved only lasts for so long.  Very often the stakes have to be raised over and over until the individual stops the behavior or falls down that deep dark pit to never return.

Our society has crept closer and closer to the edge every year.  It would have been inconceivable to have a homosexual kiss on prime-time TV 20 years ago.  Now it is common.  It would have been unheard of to commit let alone admit to an extra-marital affair, but that also is common place.  There are those who believe that only through showing "reality" in movies, TV, videos games and books is the only way to truly understand.  We have taken to celebrating "reality television".  The only thing this has in common in most cases is that every individual is trying to be more outrageous than the last.  It is cheap to produce, and the public laps it up and begs for more.

There is an old phrase from the early days of computer programming.  "Garbage in, Garbage out."  We can't expect that a child raised in filth won't naturally turn out as a depraved, pleasure seeking, narcissist.  It is up to each of us to change our attitudes, and those of our children and to recognize that the moral standards of the past should apply to society today.  Dear reader, you and your family are under attack from all sides, all day, every day.  Only you can decide to change you.  This is where you need to start.  Don't wait on this, as it will only get harder tomorrow.  

Paul Harvey spoke these works nearly 50 years ago.  They applied then, and they apply now.  It is up to each member of our society to stand up and say that you deserve better from the entertainment industry, politicians, and the rest of society.  You aren't required to go along with the crowd.  Stand up and be counted as someone who is moral and ethical and demonstrate that to your children.

Substance over Show

Let us tell you a story of one man's growth and maturity from new grad to dream job.

He once had a job that really was not a good fit for him or the employer.  He worked hard and diligently, but at the end of the day both sides regretted the employment.  Well as it is with most jobs he had two options.  He could quit now and hope to get another job as soon a possible, but run the risk of being unemployed for a period of time.  The other option, and the one most people choose, was to look for another job and not quit the first one until he found another.  He chose the second option and thankfully in a short period of time he was able to find another role much better suited to his skills.

This post is not about finding a new job.  It is about why the first position was such a bad fit.  In any job interview, the experts remind you that while the employer is checking you out, you should be doing the same.  Just because a job is offered doesn't mean it is the right job.  Let's review how our example went about this job hunt.

He finished his education and training for his field of choice.  He studied hard and produced decent grades.  Nothing spectacular, but also no failings.  There was nothing in his schooling that would be considered spectacular either from a grades or activities standpoint.  In a word, unremarkable.  This is key, since he would never have his choice of multiple offers.  He would have to fight and struggle to get a good job, and he would probably have to take some lesser positions to work his way up to his dream job.

Along the way he found that even though he didn't realize it early on, he had the power of persuasion. Even though he knew very little about most topics, he could convince his co-workers that he was an expert.  He did this through gleaning just enough information to have a surface discussion.  Pushed to elaborate, he could not.  He would use his skill in debate to turn around anyone's concern so that instead of looking closer at his lack of understanding and instead focus on another topic or person.  As he grew into his personality, he realized that he was a very persuasive speaker.  There were other people around him to do the work and flesh out his thoughts.  He didn't really need to understand the consequences of what he said because if it came time to blame someone, he was responsible since he didn't actually carry out anything.

Time went on, and our job seeker quickly realized that while he could get a job in the private sector, his gift of gab was much better suited to politics.  He felt that he was a leader of men and persuaded those with money and power to elevate him far above his station.  This type of story has been portrayed throughout history, so no one questioned it's happening one more time.  History loves an underdog right up until that underdog becomes the favorite.  It is much easier to sneak-up on the competition, but it is much harder to stay on top and eventually all come crashing down.

Well as these stories often go, our job seeker finally reached the pinnacle of his political career.  Also, as expected in this situation when our job hunter finally gets to the top he realizes that he really doesn't know what he is doing.  It is one thing to convince the masses that you know what you are doing, but it is something else altogether to actually do it.  Words have power, but action has more power.  In the beginning, things seem to be going well, but it isn't long before our man finds that power isn't all that it is cracked up to be.  Sure it is great for the ego, but he is aging rapidly before the public's eyes.  In a few short years, he is no longer the healthy youngster that took power.  He looks like a tired old man, and it shows in his temperament.  In the past, he would be more willing to charm the audience, but as time goes on he becomes belligerent and quick to anger.  This leads to fewer and fewer people believing what he tells them.

Eventually, he loses the respect of the public.  He begins to question in the privacy of his own mind, if it was all worth it.  A decent person would admit publicly that mistakes were made, and he would try to do better, but not our man.  He continues to scheme and deny, but soon the schemes no longer make any sense and really just exist in his brain.  He has lost touch with reality.  His political enemies become more brazen and work to undermine him at every turn.  He is spending more and more time defending bad decisions instead of coming up with solutions to the problems he created.

This brings us to start of this post.  Everyone involved agrees that our man was a bad fit.  It seemed right at the time, but hindsight being 20/20 it was just wrong.  Our man eventually finds his way out of power, and the organization eventually purges itself of all of the awful decisions made during his tenure. It takes time and effort with a great deal of problems for a large number of people, but eventually the organization is able to recover and even thrive.  The only question that remains is, would the organization recovered sooner with less long-term issues had they removed our man sooner. History will judge the success or failure of our man and you should as well.

What is Free

In the United States, we toss around the term free without really defining what we mean.  What does it mean to you?  Does it mean no monetary costs?  Maybe.  Does it mean we can do anything we want whenever we want? Possibly.  It may be time to truly define what free should mean to all of us.  The meaning of Free has to be same for all or it will mean nothing for any of us.

Have you ever used a bathroom in a restaurant when you weren't a customer?  Have you ever grabbed extra napkins from the self-serve counter at a fast food joint?  Taken snacks into the movie theater to avoid the high prices at the snack bar?  If you have done any of these things, technically you are stealing money from these businesses.  Sure you say, I didn't take any money out of the register so I wasn't stealing.  I eat here all the time, so I should be able to use the facilities whenever I want.  The snacks at the theater are just so expensive and I already paid for the movie.

All of these are justifications, but they don't change the underlying problem.  If you do any of these things (and many others) you are stealing from the business in question.  Because there is no direct cost to you, many believe there is no cost (free).  That is not even remotely true.  Costs for goods and services are based upon a model of accounting for supplies, labor, utilities, etc.  If you use the bathroom at a restaurant and don't buy something then that business misses out on recouping their costs.  One person doing it probably won't damage the business, but what if it is one a week, a day, an hour.  How many people need to take advantage of this business before the business can no longer offer their product or service for a fair price? If this happens, then the business owner is forced to cut costs elsewhere (along with quality), increase costs or remove other options that you may enjoy.  If you steal from the business, eventually you will be stealing from yourself and your neighbors through reduced services or the closing of businesses.

Free to you does not mean free for all.  Using the restaurant bathroom as an example involves the following costs: supplies (towels, cleaning, soap, toilet paper), water, electricity, sewer, dedicated space that can't be used for another service (real estate costs), zoning costs (based upon the number of bathrooms and impact on the sewer and water system of the local area), maintenance and time of staff or owners to clean and maintain.  When you look at all of this, it may only equate to pennies each time a bathroom is used, but pennies add up and soon they become larger and larger amounts of money.  If a business is putting out all of these costs and recouping nothing from the consumer it won't be long before your favorite restaurant will be the newest out of business restaurant.  Think about that before you try to get something for free.

This blogging platform is another example.  We publish our blog weekly from this "free" site, and you read it from your platform of choice.  Our time goes into putting all of these posts together, writing them and posting them.  It takes time away from our other activities (some of which make money for our families).  The blogging platform has costs of their own.  They have to pay for hosting, back end software and distribution.  All of this costs money and when aggregated over the vast number of blogs posted here costs quite a bit of money.  The only way to offset these costs is to place advertising links throughout the posts.  It works, but it certainly isn't free.

When you see no cost or free in advertising, remember that just because you can't see the cost doesn't mean that it doesn't cost someone something.  We are all special and unique in our own way, but we all need to pay our way.  Remember that businesses want to encourage you to use their goods and services, but in the end they need to sell you something to remain viable.  Often they don't want to be so open about it, but we will be.  Patronize your favorite restaurants, theaters and other businesses.  You may not realize it, but you will miss them when they are gone and by then it will be too late.

The same rule applies to our government.  There are many hard-working individuals working in our government, but there are also many who continually try to deceive the American public.  Whenever you are told that any program or law is supposed to reduce costs to the American taxpayers, you should be skeptical.  A politician's version of "free" usually means free to them not you.
Remember that knowing is half the battle in changing behavior.  Now you know so it is time to challenge all of the programs that claim to save money but somehow always seem to cost more than ever imagined.

Might makes Right

History is written by the winners.  This is a well know phrase, but let us examine what that truly means.  Historically, whether it be ancient times or more modern times, there is always more documentation from the winning side than from the losing side.  If you read any modern history textbook you will see a great deal about the Romans, but very little about the Eutrucsans whom they defeated to take control of the Italian peninsula.  Is this because the Eutruscans were inconsequential or because we really don't have much in the way of historical documentation around their culture.

The history of the United States is no different.  Those who succeed are documented and preserved.  Those who lost are barely given a mention in history.  Here is an example.  Everyone knows the name Rosa Parks.  She defied the law of the land and refused to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, Alabama.  She was the icon of a generation for the Civil Rights Movement.  Can anyone name the bus driver who asked her to move?  Does anyone know the name of the white man who wanted her seat?  Of course we don't, because they lost.  Miss Parks defied the social stigma of the area and took a stand.

As this post is being written, the US government is in a state of shutdown (or slim down if you prefer).  If we believe our government officials, we are about to default on our debt repayments thereby plunging our economy into a deep recession (or deeper recession if you choose not to believe the "facts" being put forth by our government of recovery).  Since we are not economists it would be unfair of us to make any judgement about the validity of this assertion.

What we do know is that we have a president publicly calling out our congress on getting a budget passed and raising the debt ceiling to pay our debts.  The president is using his bully pulpit to hammer out his thoughts.  He is convinced that if he lays out the argument in just the right way, he will be able to put public pressure on congress to do as he wants.  If you believe the polls, he may be right. Unfortunately for the president we here at Political Dogma don't believe in polls.  There is too much chance for error and ambiguity passing itself off as scientific thought.

Let us refer to the recent poll conducted by a TV talk show host.  The host asked a group of college students if they preferred Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act.  Overwhelmingly, the students preferred the Affordable Care Act to Obamacare.  Not surprisingly, the students in question were reacting to the limited information they had, and the negative stigma of the term Obamacare.  Also, the name Affordable must mean good.  We believe this lack of an informed electorate is part of the problem.

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything - Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton (source: Wikicommons Public Domain)

As the American Public, we have to question our leaders.  We have to check that what we are being told is really the whole truth.  Our president claims that he has sent 19 budgets to congress since 2009 and that congress has refused to pass any of them.  That is true as far as it goes.  What the president fails to mention is that each of these budgets included legislation that would have dramatically increased spending on programs and services of questionable merit.  In fact, the Republican House has passed a budget each of the last 3 years, but the Democratic Senate has not found a way to do so.  Therefore, there has not been a budget passed in many years.  Can you imagine this in your house?  To listen to the president, it is obviously the Republicans who have not found a way to do the people's business.  He is keenly aware that this is a misleading statement, yet he stands in front a bank of reporters and makes this and other misleading remarks.  Does he know the statements are misleading? Sure he knows, but he assumes (rightly it would appear) that as long as he says it enough times and gets the media to repeat it some more, then it must be true.

Might makes right.  When you are in charge and saying something it must be true (or so the president would have you believe).  Truth is universal.  Truth doesn't need to be proclaimed by someone in a position of authority.  Truth stands on its own and allows close scrutiny to determine is validity.  Just because the president or congress says something or cites some statistic doesn't make it true in the way they intended.  Our government officials love to throw around statistics because "the facts don't lie".  What they fail to understand or care about is that facts can be manipulated to suite the needs of the individuals using them.  Facts taken alone don't tell a story, but they have to be woven together to tell a story.  Sometimes this story is correct and sometimes it isn't.  It is up to each individual to make that determination for themselves and look at every situation with a skeptical eye.  Only through close scrutiny and accountability will our elected officials know that they have to tell the truth to the American public if they expect to gain the support of the American public.

Wash your mouth out with soap?

We know two couples who recently had their first children.  Both couples are worried about providing the best opportunities for their children, and they want only the best when it comes to opportunities.  Both families make comfortable livings, but neither themselves nor their friends have extra money to waste on frivolous purchases.  Couple A recognizing that getting ahead requires sacrifice in the present for their future, so they accept hand-me-downs of every size and shape.  Couple B feels that Junior deserves only the best so they make a request that family and friends should only buy clothing and toys from certain high-end retailers.  Couple A receives an abundance of goods and is able to put their money towards a college fund for their child.  Couple B receives some items, but has to supplement by making additional purchases.  Couple B is not able to save as much money for their child because they have less money available.

Couple A will be able to provide for their family in the future because they made sacrifices today.  They recognized the value of the donations they received.  They also recognized that baby clothes are often worn only a few times and are in perfectly serviceable shape.  The child will not be damaged by wearing the same shirt that another child (or two or three) wore.  Practicality outweighs pride in this situation.  Couple A knows that their limited funds still have to pay for pediatrician services, food, housing and all of the other costs associated with having children.

Couple B will continue to live paycheck to paycheck because style is more important than substance.  They believe that if they look good or drive the nicest car then all of their friends and neighbors will think they are successful.  Their child will wear these name brand clothes once or twice just like every other infant before they outgrow the clothing.  It becomes a cycle of wasteful spending as the child grows since only the name brands matter (to the parents, but eventually to the child as well).

Our politicians appear to be living in the same fantasy land as Couple B.  No matter how much you tell everyone that the economy hasn't tanked, jobs are gone never to be replaced, and we are dangerously close to defaulting on our obligations, they don't listen.  Obviously if you are reading this post, you recognize the age old truth that politicians lie.  Not all politicians and not all of the time (well maybe not all the time).  But when Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz says that the guaranteed Green Loans to companies such as Solyndra were a "success", we have to wonder if we have slipped into some sort of Bizarro world where up is down and right is wrong.  To be sure the loan program in question has had some "success", if success is defined as not defaulting on the loans.  Have you see the thousands of jobs promised from these taxpayer funds?  Neither have we.

You may remember that Solyndra declared bankruptcy in 2011 after being given some of this Green Loan money.  On top of that, private investors were repaid their investment before the Green Loan money was repaid (or in this case not repaid).  Our money comes from our blood, sweat and tears.  To needlessly through our money at problem and call it a success is disrespectful of each and every one of us.  That which is easily taken is easily given up.  This means that when a politician talks about spending your money on some hairbrained idea it is easy for them.  They didn't work extremely hard to earn that money so to them it doesn't hold the same value as it does to us.  

Secretary Moniz praises the low default rate of 2% as something to be lauded.  What he fails to clarify is that 2% of 35 Billion dollars equals $700 million dollars flushed down the toilet.  We think we speak for all of the American public when we say that $700 million dollars is a large sum of money and should not have been needlessly wasted on a pet project without adequate guarantees of repayment.  If someone wants to take a risk to create a new technology and thereby reap the rewards if it is successful then by all means make the effort.  When that same organization says we have a great idea but we need money to get it started, shouldn't we expect more than a rough business plan scribbled on a napkin as proof of concept.  

It is your choice.  Continue to spend money we don't have on projects that are shiny and new or spend our money in less flashy, but more fiscally sound ways.  Should the US government act more like Couple A by making sacrifices today for our future or should we continue to be more like Couple B, all flash and no substance.  Something to think about.

Lies + Repetition = Success

... never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.
Think about this phrasing above.  Where did it come from?  Does it seem familiar?  If you guessed that this is the guiding principle of today's politicians, you would be correct.  If you want to know the origin, keep reading.

If you look back over the history of this country since the end of World War II, you will see a dramatically different country than anytime before.  In prior years, the Executive Branch of the government was limited and was held in check by the US Consitution.  Wars fought by this country were done with a rapid ramping up of war services and armies and shortly after hostility ended, the war machine would switch back to peace-time levels.  After World War II ended, this all changed.

If you were born from the early 1950's until the late 1970's you probably don't have any idea what I am referring to.  You have always known about Defense spending.  The Cold War was a big part of your life, and the Soviet Union was the enemy of freedom.  If you were born even a decade later, Communism was for the most part a topic in history class, not real life.  What didn't change though was the Defense spending of the US government.  How did this happen?

Let us explain by using an example.  A young child that is given a dollar as a gift will find a way to spend that dollar as soon as possible.  You can ask them if they would like to save some of that money for later and you will get a blank stare.  If they have it, they spend it.  Many adults find themselves in this situation as well.  What happens if you have all of the toys at your disposal that you could ever want?  Wouldn't you want to play with them?  That is the current US government.  A often forgotten US Senator from the middle of the 20th century put it this way:
If in the great field of foreign policy the President has the arbitrary and unlimited powers he now claims, then there is an end to freedom in the United States not only in the foreign field, but in domestic policy too;  one simple result is that war is more likely.  Robert A. Taft, A Foreign Policy for Americans (New York: Doubleday & Company, 1951), 21-23.
Since 1941, no US President has gone to Congress asking for a formal declaration of war.  You might say to yourself, that can't be right since I know people who fought for our country overseas.  Technically, our military has fought in numerous locations throughout the world since 1945, but never as a true war declared by our government.  Korea was a Police Action.  Vietnam was for the support of our allies in South Vietnam.  Iraq was for the removal of WMD's.  None of these received congressional approval for war, but they did receive congressional funding approval.  We had a draft in this country for Korea and Vietnam even though congress never declared war.  Especially during the Vietnam era, men went to prison for avoiding the draft.  Think about that for a moment.

Because we have a government bloated with "toys", eventually someone will try to use them.  In our case, we use them often as a way to force our will upon the rest of the world.  We here at Political Dogma favor protecting our country and our interests, but not at the expense of a constant state of war (declared or undeclared).  Having the means to wage war translates into waging war at the slightest provocation.  Should the government require a longer time to ramp-up war production and military spending, those in power might not be so quick to commit our money and our troops to a prolonged or ill conceived military campaign.

As a citizen of this country, you have a right to know what is being done in your name.  You have a right to ask that those in charge of making decisions in this country are required to abide by the laws of this land just as you are.  Make your voice heard by reaching out to all of your representatives at every level of government.  The constitution is the overriding document that determines our actions in this country, and it begins with "We the People ..." not "just a few individuals".

If you have read this far, then you probably are wondering where the quote at the beginning derived. The original text is from the Office of Strategic Services report referring to Adolf Hitler in 1941.  That's right, our politicians are utilizing the playbook of failed dictator to control the masses.  More food for thought.

Public domain artwork World War II Patriotic Poster titled We have just begun to fight!published by the United States Office of War Information in 1943 and Printed by the U.S.Government Printing Office; USA American Patriotism Poster copyright free public domain image, Patriotic Symbols from United States of America WWII U.S. history; these WW1 patriotic propaganda posters are, copyright free images, public domain artwork, public domain graphics, art works in the public domain, copyright free pictures; This poster shows a painted image by an unknown artist of a soldier carrying gun with bayonet, facing left with one arm in the air as if leading a charge. Heading Reads We have just begun to fight! Previous battles are listed: Pearl Harbor, Bataan, Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, New Guinea, Bismarck Sea, Casablanca, Algiers, Tunisia

People Matter

When a politician stands in front of a microphone with dozens of reporters hanging on every word, it is not uncommon to hear something about how this legislation was passed to "help the people".  If the legislation is deemed important enough, there will be multiple people all standing beside the politician smiling and looking very pleased.  We are led to believe that people matter.  Do they?

Politics has always been a give and take.  No law is ever as simple or impactful as we are led to believe.  In fact, nearly every law enacted by our government had a losing group.  In some cases these losers were common criminals.  It is illegal to steal someone's wallet.  Sure that makes sense.  How about making it illegal to use a cell phone while driving?  There could be some legitimate reasoning behind that.  What would you think of a law that allows your government to seize your property if they feel it is in the best interests of the community?  This has happened before.

A community in search of taxable revenue is approached by a commercial developer.  The developer recognizes the value of a particular plot of land.  It doesn't matter that the land is already developed for residential housing.  So the developer makes a bid to the local government to buy the land (the land the government doesn't actually own) and in turn the developer will put up a commercial property that could generate multiple times the taxable revenue for the local government.  Now, I am sure you are thinking that there is now way this could happen.  The private property owners would have to be willing to sell their homes to the developer for this to be possible.  Ask Susette Kelo about her thoughts on the issue.  She may have a difference of opinion.

Okay, so you say to yourself an eminent domain case is bad, but really my politicians are trying to make our country better through passing new laws.  According to a number of different sources, the average is more than 300 new laws every year.  If we are to assume that some of these laws are valuable to someone, that still leaves quite a few laws that may not benefit all of us going forward.  That is just one year.  How about all of the previous years?  It becomes overwhelming to think about how many laws exist.  You have probably heard that ignorance of the law is no excuse.  This means that if a law is passed that makes something illegal and you didn't know the law existed, that is too bad.  You are still guilty and have to pay the penalty.

We don't even really know how many federal laws exist in the United States.  There was an attempt made in the early 1980's and even then they couldn't get a handle on the total number of laws.  We think it is fair to say that there are a whole lot of laws.  Some of which (likely a very small amount) that better the vast majority of the lives in this country.  Conversely, it would be fair to say that there exist quite a few laws which should in no way exist and provide benefit to a very small number of citizens if any at all.

There are many, many laws that never get enforced at any level of the government.  More laws are passed every year to add to the previous unused laws.  Passing laws should not be a full-time job.  There is no need to have an unending flow of laws that only benefit the record of the politicians involved.  When a politician returns to their home district or state, they love to tell voters how they are looking out for them.  They are doing it for the people.  If you re-elect them, they will continue to fight for the people.

Perspective is the only way to look at this issue.  If a particular politician gets a law passed that benefits you or your family then you are more interested in keeping them in power.  If they enact a law that harms you, then you can't wait to toss them out of office.  If the law means nothing to you then you don't care one way or the other.  This is why the vast majority of laws mean nothing to nearly anyone.  The politician can show that they are passing laws, but not offending any large group.  When they take a stand, it is usually along party lines or with the largest (or loudest) majority.  This isn't lawmaking, it is popularity making and job justification.  A politician who doesn't pass laws, is just an overpaid bureaucrat.  Neither making a difference nor causing problems.  Politicians want to be noticed.  They can't get noticed by doing nothing, so they do something.  Unfortunately for you and I they are usually only doing something for themselves.

Any law or act or by-law that passes is designed to benefit someone or something.  Follow the money.  Some will trade power for money and others will trade money for power, but it is usually one of the two.  Very little is done in American politics that is truly done because it is right.  Deals need to be made and haggling behind the scenes to get something passed.  All of this leads to, bloated legislation and ambiguous laws that end up harming you and not helping you.  So when  politician tells you that everything they do is for the people, we challenge you to ask which people.  Do people really matter in American politics?

Everything Matters

When you look around at your life, are you happy?  We mean really happy.  Have you accomplished all that you hoped to at this point in your life?  Does the state of the country or even the world infringe on your feeling of happiness or unhappiness?  A better question is, do you even think about anything going on around you or are you too wrapped up in your own life?

Now we know what you are thinking.  As Joe or Jane Average, you just don't have the time to worry about events happening across the world.  The kids need help with their homework.  You have to stay late at work this week, and the boss is pushing for yet another report.  The car needs new tires, and you don't know where you're going to get the money to pay for it.  Your spouse is bugging you to attend a play/sporting event/concert, etc.  You simply don't have the energy or time left to put any thought into larger issues.  Besides, what do those larger issues have to do with you.  Someone far more important than you can handle it.

If the previous paragraph applies to you, then stop reading right now.  Take a break and do some mindless activity or take a nap.  What follows requires you to be in the correct frame of mind to understand and apply.

Okay, are you in a better place.  Are you ready to understand why everything matters?  What do we mean by everything.  We mean all of it, everything that is happening everywhere, all over the world.  We understand, it is hard to go from zero to sixty if you aren't accustomed to thinking these deep thoughts.  Remember we cautioned you to get a better frame of mind.  Now here is why everything matters in your life and those of your family and friends.

When our government officials make decisions, they are making decisions in our name.  Decisions that affect everyone we know today and everyone we have or ever will know.  We are not saying that every decision our government makes is wrong, but every one of them has an effect on us.  

In the United States, the president is in a unique position different than anyone else in the government.  Elected by all of the people, his job is to represent the entire country even though not everyone voted for him.
Michael Swanson, The War State: The Cold War Origins of the Military-Industrial Complex and the Power Elite, 1945-1963, Kindle Edition (Michael Swanson, 2013), 15
Historian Charles Beard wrote the following in 1948.
The further away from its base on the American continent the government of the United States seeks to exert power over the affairs and relations of other countries the weaker its efficiency becomes and the further it oversteps the limits of its strength the more likely it is to lead the nation into disaster - a terrible defeat in a war in Europe or Asia beyond the conquering power of its soldiers, sailors, and airmen.  If wrecks of overextended empires scattered through the centuries offer any instruction to the living present, it is that quest for absolute power not only corrupts, but in time destroys. 
Charles Beard, President Roosevelt and the Coming of War, 1941: Appearances and Realities (New Jersey, Transaction Publishers 2003), 592-593
At times in history it is easier to understand that hiding our heads in the sand was not an option. An example would be following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.  Other times it seems a bit more difficult to determine if our nation should be involved.  Often in these instances it is not a simple right or wrong and the vast majority of the population doesn't feel threatened and therefore is less likely to demand action from our government.  In fact, using Vietnam as an example, the general population was unable to even point to Vietnam on a map.  It was felt by many that if you didn't know where it was, it couldn't possibly be important enough to fight over. 

In the history of this country, we have never been in complete agreement with each other on any topic.  During the American Revolutionary War there no more than one-third of the population was in favor of independence.  This doesn't mean that the cause was wrong, it just wasn't supported by a majority of the populace.  Some historians believe that what led to the success of that war was a common belief in how to achieve the goal of independence and fighting on our "home turf".

Simply jumping ahead a generation to the War of 1812 and you see a similar support for the war, but no common goal as to what the outcome should be.  Thus after more than 2 years of fighting the borders of both countries remained the same.  Rashly jumping into a war without having an end goal could have led to the loss of that independence.  

History shows that when there is a clear and achievable goal in a location that stirs the national psyche, we tend to have success.  The less clear the goal or acting in a "political police action" the less support the general population has and the less likely we are as a nation to achieve any positive outcome from the conflict.

Should the United States continue to take on the role of police force for the world?  That is a question that each of us should answer and then convey to our representatives.  Our nation is suffering from a large number of maladies.  It may feel as though they are more significant than ever before in history, but without a true perspective that is hard to defend.  The reality is that we have our own issues.  We have a limited amount of resources and we have to choose when and where to use those resources.  Our own national interests may be threatened by terrorists or rogue nations.  We have an obligation to fight to defend our hard earned freedom, but when our armed forces take on the role of peacekeeping force then our track record is decidedly less favorable.

All of this matters to your way of life and those of your family and friends.  If resources (i.e. money) is spent on fighting a war or providing the bulk of a peacekeeping mission then those same resources cannot be used to improve your roads, increase jobs or reduce energy dependence.  We are not saying we shouldn't fight to support the American dream and lifestyle.  We are saying that no one should presume that the United States will police every bad deed perpetrated throughout the world.  This means nations having an expectation of action from us and politicians who involve us in their political machinations are on notice.  We are not obligated to act.  We will act when it is appropriate and in our national interests.  We will no longer be the place you come for a hand-out.  The monies paid to the United States government come from the blood, sweat and tears of its citizens.  It will not be spent without regard to a prioritization of need versus desire from any nation or politician.

Essential Liberty

Those who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. - Benjamin Franklin

When we were in junior high, we had an assignment from one of our teachers.  We were asked to draw a picture of fashion as we thought it would look 10 years in the future.  The pictures were wild and fantastic, and you know what?  Not one of them was accurate.  Part of this could be that fashion is extremely hard to predict within the same year let alone 10 years hence, but we think it is more than that.  Predicting the future was only ever successful by the Old Testament Prophets.  If you aren't accurate 100% of the time then really you are just guessing.

As a society we use the internet to great benefit (this blog being one of them).  Fifteen years ago, this simply would not have been possible.  We have opened up new avenues of communication that even the greatest sci-fi writers of the 1950's could never have imagined.  That is why it is hard to see a problem with all of this technology until after it is too late to stop.  Until the last decade the technology didn't exist to record all forms of communication and store them for later analysis.  This had been thought to be impossible since it would require too many NSA employees to physically log through the amount of data collected.  As we have all recently learned, not only is it happening, it is happening with all aspects of what we do on a daily basis.

Regardless of how you feel about Edward Snowden, that information is now out in the public.  What we do with it will say more about us.  We have no privacy.  We are being told by our government we have no right to privacy.  Truthfully, the founding fathers could never have conceived of the technology we have today and therefore could not have written the constitution or any of the amendments to address this.

How much of our liberty should we be willing to give up for safety (temporary or otherwise).  Are you willing to give up any pretense of innocent until proven guilty?  How about every form of communication in this country (and others) being saved for future review at a time and place of our government's choosing?  Do you believe that if you have nothing to hide then there is no reason to be concerned?  We here at Political Dogma believe that there need to be limits to what one branch of the government can do to the rest of us.  There needs to be more oversight and less secrecy.  We are not saying there aren't secrets in any government.  We would be the first to admit that complete openness on the part of our government would hinder diplomatic relationships and reduce our ability to survive in this world.  In a perfect world, there would be no need for diplomats because there would be no strife amongst countries.  We don't live there and if history is any judge we probably never will.

We are not willing to give up any perceived right to privacy (although not spelled out in the US Constitution or any subsequent amendments).  We would demand that as has happened in the past, we amend the constitution to give us the privacy we deserve.  Allowing the government to take complete control of our lives was envisioned by George Orwell in 1984.  That is not the future I am looking forward to, how about you?

The words of Benjamin Franklin should ring in your ears.  Are we giving up liberty or essential liberty by allowing our government to spy on our citizens?  Franklin may have been able to tell the difference, but we are not sure it is so clear today.

Our government is telling us:

  • We need to pass laws without reading them.  
  • While certain laws apply to some, they don't apply to all.  
  • We need to know everything that you speak, write or watch so that we can protect you
  • We need to control every aspect of your life, finances and thoughts to provide a better life for all.
  • Trust us, we know what is best for you and don't ask too many questions.

We are not comfortable with giving up what many throughout the history of this country have given their lives to earn and maintain.  We don't believe abdicating our free will in any way protects our lifestyle and liberties.  We believe that you are the best stewards of your money.  We believe that you have a right to ask that those in your government to have your best interest in mind when making decisions that affect you.  We believe that all laws in this country apply to all.  Either we succeed together or we fail separately.  We leave you this week with two quotes from two of our founding fathers.

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.  I do not add "within the limits of the law" because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual. - Thomas Jefferson
It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it. - George Washington

What is Fair

Here at Political Dogma, we pride ourselves on looking at all the angles of any situation and making the best decision possible.  There is a great deal of emotional tirades littering the internet.  Sometimes this is the passionate belief held by the author.  Oftentimes it is simply an effort to draw in views or links from other bloggers or new sources.  The author really doesn't care about the topic, they just want someone to read what they write.  Political Dogma is different.  We want to get the message out, but we are not willing to resort to an emotional outburst to draw attention.  We would rather have fewer people read our posts and come away having been challenged to think versus reaching many more people who will discard what we have said as soon as the next page loads. Quality is worth seeking out and pondering.

Recently we were sent an email dealing with illegal immigration.  This email dealt with a cost analysis of legal workers vs illegal workers.  It was compelling emotionally, but we feel that it missed the mark in some respects.  What the article failed to mention was that legal and illegal workers are both working hard to support themselves and their families.  It neglected to mention what the solution should be to remove this issue from the political landscape.

From an illegal alien standpoint, each individual crosses the border for a better life.  This is not always possible, and they may have traded a horrible life for a life of indentured servitude possibly even slavery.  Due to the nature of being illegal, the individual is relegated to lines of work that lend themselves to cash payments.  These tend to be in the construction, industrial or service industries.  The jobs themselves are often low skill, requiring the barest of ability. Hard work to be sure, but really only the lowest blue collar and never white collar work.  The illegal has relegated themselves to this life forever.  They will never be able to move up lest they be found out.  The illegals only hope is that their children be born in the US and be given the opportunity to improve themselves and all future generations.

The debate of illegal aliens misses the mark in one key area.  Our economy at this date appears to be significantly less robust than it has been in the past.  Yet, the desire for immigrants to come here has not diminished (both legal and illegal).  Understanding this concept should put into perspective how awful it must be to live elsewhere in the world.  These illegals are willing to perform back breaking work for low wages with no chance of status improvement because it is better than where they were before.  Think about that and determine if you would be willing to do the same.

No discussion of illegal immigration should ever exclude the one aspect that many gloss over.  There is a legal way to enter a country and an illegal way.  Choosing the legal way takes time and offers no guarantees.  The illegal way caries risks of its own, but is often faster but limits the upward mobility.  Illegal is illegal.  We are a nation of laws (regardless of your agreement with all of them), and as such we are ALL required to follow the law.  We can't selectively enforce the laws.  We either enforce them all, or we enforce none of them.  There can be no middle ground.  IF a law is wrong, change it.  We don't enforce the laws we have on hand and don't make the penalties enough of a deterrent to stopping the process.

From an employer perspective, penalties need to be restrictive enough to reduce the desire to break the law.  Make no mistake that a company of a certain size could easily have some illegals working for it.  When you have a large percentage of your work force with false documents then as a company you have made very little effort to abide by the law and in fact have tried to circumvent the laws.  This occurs to save money.  The company pays less to an illegal and saves money to keep their product or service at a lower cost compared to the competition and/or increases their profits.  To make any meaningful change in illegal immigration, employers need to be held accountable.  One proposal is to fine the companies in question a multiple of the salary they would have paid to a legal employee.  That is to say that if you were to pay a legal employee $25,000.00 per year then you would be required to pay a fine equal to 5 times that amount or $125,000 for each illegal worker.  At this rate, it becomes prohibitively expensive if a company gets caught.  This will not stop all employers, but with this fine amount there is no way any employer can continue to function employing illegals.

By removing employment opportunities you will naturally reduce the number of illegals who cross the border since jobs will be harder to obtain and keep.  No job equates to no money for the illegal and none to send home.  The fined money could be used to strengthen the border through additional border agents and other control measures.  For those already here illegally, the solution is simple but painful.  Since we are a nation of laws, you are bound to be judged by those laws.  You arrived illegally and will be required to return to your country of origin.  As with any foreign felon, you will have a very limited opportunity to return.  Your children (if citizens) have the option to remain, but you cannot stay to care for them.  They will be placed in the foster care system until they reach the age of 18.  This is the hard truth of breaking the law.  This country has been soft on this topic for decades and therefore the problem continues and has increased.  To stop the flow of money and resources from law-abiding taxpayers to take care of those law-breaking non-taxpayers, things have to change.

There is no solution that will make everyone happy.  You would not think twice about a bank robber going to prison, but many feel sympathy for illegals immigrants (law-breakers) because the scope of the crime doesn't seem all that awful.  We don't take this stance lightly, and we recognize that there will be much upheaval of lives and families.  The longer we wait to make this change the more painful for a greater number of families.  If you have a decaying tooth, it doesn't suddenly heal if you wait longer.  It only gets worse.  Does this problem need to get worse before someone in authority wakes up and realizes that there is no good solution only the best of the bad options?  Encourage your elected officials to act to protect your rights as a citizen and taxpayer.  Encourage them to act responsibly with the money they have removed from your paycheck.  Nothing is free in this world and sooner or later we will have to pay the financial consequences of trying to avoid the pain of illegal immigration.  We say start now before it is too late.

Sharing is Caring

Up through the late 19th century in the United States, there was a sense of community around tragedy.  If your neighbor's house burned down (and this happened quite frequently due to building materials and open flames), all of the neighbors would give of their time and resources to make it right as quickly as possible.  The Amish still treat their neighbor as they would like to be treated.  If you have ever seen a barn raising, you know what I am talking about.

There was a flood along the Mississippi River during President Grover Cleveland's Presidency.  There were no outcries of federal disaster relief to help the flood victims.  While Presidents were sympathetic, the explanation was that constitutionally there was no authority to take public money to assist a limited number of private citizens.  It was expected that the churches and neighbors along with any state assistance would have to be sufficient.  No one claimed they were be left out, it was simply the way things were.  At the start of the 20th Century, things began to change.

With the ascension of Teddy Roosevelt, things changed forever.  In modern terms, TR would be classified as a progressive politician.  Simply put this meant that politicians began using public monies to advance the perceive social needs of the citizens.  It should be noted that while this was the public proclamation of progressives, it served a much darker purpose.  The policies were often heavy handed and resulted in a father and child relationship with the populace.  The policies were erroneously based upon inaccurate economic principles that history has shown as laughably wrong, but the damage had been done.

Now when a natural disaster occurs, you have state governors begging to have their state declared a disaster area and therefore eligible for federal funding.  This public money spending will be explained away as necessary simply because some day it could be you.  What is never discussed is that the federal money comes from the taxes levied on those citizens of the United States, and you never have the opportunity to give approval for giving that money away (even in a representative republic there is supposed to be a concern for all of the constituents).

Allow me to give an example.  We take three ordinary citizens and give them groceries that should last them all for 30 days.  One citizen understands that he cannot eat everything at once.  He rations what he eats every day and plans accordingly.  Another citizen, excited to have so much free food, binges for a day or two and then settles in.  He knows that he will have a little less at the end, but it was worth it for today.  One citizen plans to ration her food, but on day 3 the power goes out and she loses all of her supplies in the freezer and refrigerator.  She is desperate and begs for help from her neighbors.  The citizens with food pool their remaining resources knowing they will have less for the remainder of the month.  By showing compassion to their neighbor, they were acknowledging that although the loss was outside their control it was the right thing to do.  It provided each citizen with a sense of well-being and a feeling that they were not completely alone.

Now let me provide an addition to the previous example.  There are now four citizens that fit the same scenario.  The first three are able to ration their food appropriately.  The fourth citizen throws a party and blows through all of their food on day 1.  With 30 days left in the month this individual is left with no groceries.  So instead of the neighbors banding together and helping their less fortunate neighbor voluntarily, the government comes to each of their houses.  The government takes 50% of their remaining food, tells them they are helping others and proceeds to give the delinquent neighbor more food than before because this citizen obviously need more than others.  This is termed helping the less fortunate, but it removes all of the positive aspects from the act of sharing because it is forced and not voluntary.

When we help others we gain as well.  Part of the allure of volunteering is the satisfied feeling that comes from giving of your own resources.  Sometimes it is nothing more costly than your time.  Often when you believe in the cause you are supporting you will gladly provide monetary resources to help the cause.  There is a great sense of camaraderie with your fellow man, and that is one of the best feelings that no amount of money can ever equal.

Never has any nation been as giving as the United States.  We provide more money in foreign aid than any other country in history.  We provide more social programs for more citizens than ever before, and it never seems to end.  The sad fact is that as a country we spend money as though there is an infinite supply.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.   In the United States today, voluntary charitable giving is far below any other time in history.  Much of this has been explained away as selfish behavior.  We would disagree.  When the government forcibly removes money from your paycheck and calls it charity we all lose.  Remove the forced government funding and less people will give.  Historically contributions to deserving charities will increase and the donation of time by volunteers will go up as well.  This is the past of our United States and could be our future.  Citizens feel that since half of our income is being donated to those in need we simply don't have any left over to give above and beyond this amount.   Charity begins as home.  Charity should be personal.  Simply writing a check does not provide the same personal experience for the giver and does not provide the same level of value to the recipient.  It is a much different thing to plant a garden side-by-side with your neighbor than receiving a check from the federal government to buy groceries.  Both will give you food, but only one will force you to appreciate the value of what you have been given.

If you want to change how things work in this country, you need to start with your own life.  Volunteer your time.  Volunteer your resources.  Demand that your government officials stop giving away your money without your consent.  If they refuse, elect someone else or run yourself.  Remeber what your were taught as a child.  Sharing is caring.