Tag Archives: politics

Hard or Hardship Government Economics vs the Household Budget

quora.com

quora.com

I sat at my desk today, doing what I do every Thursday. Juggling bills. As I pondered how much I would have left for groceries, after paying the phone bill, and gassing up the old “Silver Toilet”( my very thirsty pickup truck), a thought occurred to me. How is it that so many people have no real understanding of our national debt? We hear about it all the time, ” our grandchildren will be faced with the burden of our national debt”. But do we ever really think about what that means to us as individuals?  Household economics is really pretty straightforward.  If there is no money left after paying the bills, then you don’t eat.  Skip out on your power bill, you sit in the dark, decide you’d rather go on vacation than pay your mortgage, bye-bye home.  Real life teaches us that if you continue to spend more than you make, eventually it will all come crashing down around you.

It works the same way with the government.  It doesn’t matter what kind of fancy economic theory you adhere to, the simple fact is that our country is broke. I know, you’ve heard that before, so what?  Well, what that means to me is that I’ll have to depend on myself more, and government less.  It means that the Pell grant my daughter depended on for college isn’t going to be there, my Tricare premiums are increasing, and Social Security isn’t even a factor in my retirement planning.  It doesn’t matter what the politicians promise, we have two choices, realize that we are going to have to accept cuts to government programs now, or wait until the government defaults and then completely lose that safety net while the economy implodes on itself sucking us in with it.  Either way we will have to become less dependent on to government.

Given that cuts are inevitable, what makes more sense, to have a president that aims to control more of the population by increasing their dependency on government programs? Or a president who can make the tough cuts necessary to balance the budget?  We have to ask ourselves, do we want to suffer the controlled hardships of a government learning to live within its means? The way the rest of us do.  Or do we want to live through the devastation of a complete economic meltdown?

Americans have a noble tradition of  pulling on our boots, rolling up our sleeves, and shouldering the work.  We don’t run from hardship, we face it head on, grit our teeth and gut it out.  It will be interesting to see, if this new voting generation will rise to the challenge, or if they will just curl up in the fetal position, consoling themselves with You Tube and reality TV, while waiting for a savior to come and bail them out.

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Lest We Forget

Freedom Isn't Free

Freedom Isn’t Free (Photo credit: swanksalot)

(Parts of this are reposted from an earlier post entitled “No Guts No Glory”.)

This Monday we will see billboards, bumper stickers, and car magnets all proclaiming “Support our Troops“, and “Freedom Isn’t Free”. Are these truly heart-felt words, displayed by proud patriots or are they meaningless platitudes, mindlessly quoted by pandering politicians?  On this day there will be countless memorial services and tributes.  But will we stop a moment and reflect on what this day really means or is it simply the beginning of summer?  Just a day to have a picnic or barbecue.

I remember as a child hearing the stories of my mother, who, as a toddler underwent surgery on her foot. For years afterward she required special orthotic shoes that had to be replaced every time her foot grew. This was during WWII and rationing was in full force. Everyone was allowed only one pair of shoes a year. Including my mother. The government didn’t make a special exception because she was a child with a medical condition. Her parents didn’t demand that she was entitled to more ration coupons because of a unique hardship. Instead they gave up their ration coupons to get her the shoes she needed and when those ran out other family members, friends and neighbors donated theirs. Why was this necessary? Because the materials that were used to make shoes over here were needed to make shoes for the troops over there. Could you imagine giving up coffee, sugar, shoes and tires and sending them to the troops in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq?  Could we ever again unite as a whole country behind an effort to rid our world of an unspeakable evil? Do we even know what evil is anymore?

The invention of photography as allowed us to see the horrors of war up close and personal.  The flag draped coffins of our loved ones, the bloody, mangled bodies of our enemies, the atrocities. Faced with the horrifying reality that the price of freedom is blood, many of us have decided that the price is too high. We believe that the act of war, rather than the  megalomaniacal ideals of ruthless men is the true evil and that nothing save our own personal survival is worth fighting and dying for.

The men who marched at Lexington and Concord, whose bodies covered the ground at Gettysburg, who raised the flag at Mount Suribachi, all understood the power of the words of our Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution.  That such a radical ideal as individual freedom, that men should control their own destinies, requires a collective sacrifice.

By looking to the government for our prosperity rather that demanding that our elected officials recognize the freedom to build that prosperity ourselves, by allowing the government the rights to our personal property, and by allowing the government to usurp and mismanaged our wages though an unnecessarily complicated tax code, we dishonor those who have fought and died to maintain those freedoms.

By allowing our schools to indoctrinate our children with the mantra that it is the government’s job to take care of us, to protect us from our own ignorance and folly, and that “from each according to his ability and to each according to his need” is the highest morality, we dishonor those who fought and died for our right to think for ourselves.

Our Forefathers wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, not to give us certain rights, but to preserve them.  The government does not grant us our freedoms, rather we “the people” grant the government its right to exist.  It’s time for us to “take back” our government and hold our elected officials accountable, for what they do with the money, property, time and power we “the people” give them.

In every election we have the opportunity to show that we truly understand the cost of our freedom and that it is precious.  By taking the time  and making the effort to  research and vote for people truly worthy to serve us, and by reminding them regularly that they do, is how we prove that those who made the “ultimate sacrifice” did not do so in vain.

The Real Life of Julia

Reflections of a Rational Republican has introduced me to “Julia” the cartoon solder of the fictitious Republican “War on Women”.  Both the Obama Campaign and the Heritage Foundation have differing versions about the “Life of Julia“. While the Obama Campaign’s version touts the benefits of living in a cradle to grave socialist utopia, the Heritage Foundation’s version extolls the virtues of freedom of choice. Neither version truly depicts the reality of Julia right here, right now. This is my version of the “Real Life of Julia” without the cutesy graphics. It depicts what her life would be like at each age, if she were that age today.

Age 3

Both of Julia’s parents work.  Their combined incomes put them in an income bracket too high to qualify for head start or other programs designed for underprivileged children.  After “doing the math” her parents decide that the high cost of quality day care makes it impractical for both of them to work. Julia’s mom’s income is less than her father’s so Julia’s mom decides to stay home with her.

Age 17

It was important to Julia’s parents to bring her up in as safe a neighborhood as possible. They purchased a modest home in a decent suburb.  Because she lives in a working class family her parents  cannot afford private school.  Therefore Julia has spent her youth in the public school system.  Her state uses standardized tests to measure  the performance of the teachers, schools, and students.  Because the teacher’s unions have made it difficult to weed out ineffective teachers, and because school administrators fear the loss of state and federal funding due to government programs such as race to the top, classroom time is consumed with teaching children how to pass the standardized tests instead of proficiency in basic skills.   Sports, music classes, and pay raises for competent teachers are cut due to a lack of funds, but administration costs remain high.  PE and recess are cut and replaced with programs to teach environmental awareness, anti-bullying, drug avoidance, and sexual abuse defence techniques that are of little value in real world situations.  Julia’s parents stressed the importance of doing her best and made sure she did her homework.  They communicated regularly with her teachers.  Because of this, Julia worked hard and made good grades.

Age 18

Because she has made good grades Julia has qualified for a modest state sponsored scholarship.  She barely qualifies for a Pell grant because her parent’s income is almost to high even though they do not make enough to pay any of her college expenses.  She chooses a community college because it is the most cost-effective option, allowing her to live at home and commute to class.  Her scholarship and grant still are not enough to completely cover her school and expenses so she works part-time to fill the gap.  Her public school education has left her unprepared for college level work, she takes advantage of the resources the college offers, but in spite of her efforts to study hard, she fails her math and english courses.  Because the state sponsored scholarship pays some of the costs of trade school, Julia decides to drop out of college and attend cosmetology school.

Age 22

Julia has to undergo emergency surgery for an appendicitis.  The recent passage of Obama care mandates that she is covered under her parents care until age 26, however, before the passage of Obama care, she still would have been covered under her parents’ policy until her 23rd birthday because she is a student.

Age 23-25

Julia finishes cosmetology school and begins her career as a hair stylist. At first she lives with her parents, but through hard work and dedication to her career she lands a job at a prestigious salon and moves into her own apartment.  Among the benefits provided are health insurance and the opportunity to participate in a 401K program.   This particular salon offered such benefits even before Obama care was passed. Her insurance pays for mammograms, pap smears, yearly exams, and maternity care. Her copay for prescription birth control is fifty percent of the cost, but because she is focusing on establishing herself in this business and building a clientele, she has little time for a relationship or casual sex.

Age 29-31

Julia meets Ethan a local electrician.  They begin a relationship.  Julia explains to Ethan that since he would assume half the responsibility for raising a child, he should share half the responsibility for the cost of birth control. Ethan agrees. (He’s a keeper).  Since her insurance pays for half of the fifty dollar cost of birth control pills* and Ethan pays half of her half, her cost for the pill is a manageable $12.50 a month.  Julia and Ethan marry and decide to have a child.  Her maternity and child-birth costs are covered minus the $25.00 office copays and a $500.00 deductable. Because she and Ethan planned ahead for this child, money was saved and these expenses prove to be little problem for them.  Even though money is tight, they still make too much for Zachary to qualify for head start or other daycare options for underprivileged children.  Because neither of them can afford to quit their jobs, Julia’s mother agrees to watch little Zachary.

Age 37

Zachary starts preschool.   His parents make too much money for Zachary to qualify for school vouchers designed to give underprivileged children a chance at a better education, but they do not make enough to place him in private school.  His parents depend on both incomes to get by, so having Julia quit her job to home school Zachary is out of the question.  Julia has no other option but to place Zachary into the inferior public school system.

Age 42

Julia is a well-known stylist around town and has built up a loyal clientele.  She decides to open her own salon.  She qualifies for a small business  administration loan and purchases equipment.  She rents chair space to beginning hair stylists and teaches them the latest techniques.  In spite of a loyal and growing customer base, she is barely breaking even. The regulatory costs of the required insurances and licenses are high and the time required to keep up with the paperwork keeps her from her customers.  When the ADA fines her $25,000.00 for failure to install a wheelchair accessible styling chair even though she has no disabled customers or employees, she realizes she can no longer keep up.  Julia sadly informs her stylists and customers she must close.  She sells her salon equipment to pay off the fine and the remainder of her SBA loan. She then takes a job as an instructor at the local beauty college.

Age 65

Julia enrolls in medicare.  She has difficulty finding a competent doctor that accepts the plan.  She must pay out-of-pocket for a medicare supplement insurance plan to cover the gaps.  Ethan dies suddenly of a heart attack leaving her without his income. Fortunately he had the foresight to purchase life insurance even though paying the premiums was sometimes a struggle.  This allows Julia to pay off the mortgage and Ethan’s funeral expenses.

Age 67

Julia applies for Social Security.  The amount is nowhere near enough to cover her monthly expenses.  She rolled over her 401K into an IRA but was not always able to contribute to it when her business was struggling.  She realizes that her available cash flow is not enough to live on so she continues to work part-time at the beauty school as a receptionist so she doesn’t have to spend hours on her feet.

The truth is, neither scenario, whether it is Obama’s or the Heritage Foundations’s is going to help working class Julia.  Making her dependent on the government for her cradle to grave care will eventually backfire like it did in Greece.  Once the producers have been bled dry and robbed of any incentive to create wealth, the money will run out and untold misery will ensue.  On the other hand, unbridled capitalism will not reduce the cost of healthcare and education to the point where they will be within reach of working class families.  While it will create more freedom of choice, those choices mean nothing if you can’t afford them.

* Information on the cost of birth control pills was obtained from the Planned Parenthood website.

Understanding the Occupiers Part Two

Day 3 of the protest Occupy Wall Street in Man...

Day 3 of the protest Occupy Wall Street in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A little over a month ago in a post entitled “Understanding the Occupiers”, I posed ten questions that I felt would be a reasonable measure of personal responsibility and life experience.  I was hoping to reach people who had attended a protest, but didn’t really fit the media profile of an Occupier.  The response was, well let’s just say it was not overwhelming.  I got a couple of comments from LiberalTalkingPoints. Housewifedownunder answered the questions,and turned out to be just the kind of response I was hoping for.  My two commenters were from two different ideologies, yet both expressed genuine frustration at the lack of opportunities for today’s young adults.  It is my hope that the leaders of business and industry will listen to the desperation of these young people and will create jobs for those who are really willing to work. I hope the government will ease its regulatory burden so that they will be able to do so.  And I hope that our universities become a place where young people are taught how to be competitive in a world economy rather that a place of political indoctrination.  As for the Occupiers themselves, I hope that as they continue onto adulthood, they will realize that there are better ways than civil disobedience to be heard and taken seriously.

Blood On Their Hands

Staff Sgt. Robert Bales sits in Leavenworth awaiting what will most likely be a conviction and death sentence for killing innocent Afghani women and children. What he did is unforgivable, and goes against everything the United States military stands for. I have seen the effects of multiple deployments on military members and their families.  The high rates of suicide, domestic violence, and PTSD are evidence that there are limits to how much stress a human being can endure.  Limits the military leadership has chosen to ignore.  Sgt Bales is not alone in his guilt. There are many who have facilitated his transformation from an average man into a monster.

The unofficial military mission statement of “doing more with less”,  the Secretaries of Defense that pushed it and the commanders who bought into it all share the blame.  The dream of a “Lean Mean Fighting Machine” would only be possible if the military were staffed with robots, but it is not. It is staffed with men and women who think, feel, love and fear.  Who have families and lives back home. It is their humanity that makes them vulnerable to the horrors of war, but it is also their humanity that gives them  a reason to preserve the dream of liberty anywhere in the world. It gives them the courage to willingly accept that the cost of freedom could be their very lives.  This courage should not be taken for granted.  Every military doctor who has proclaimed a troop “fit for combat” when he should have been sent home, every commander who has  proclaimed his unit ready when deep down he knew they weren’t, shares in the guilt.   Every officer who has ever put his career ahead of his troops, every military leader who lacked the courage to tell his superiors the truth, that his unit was undermanned and stretched to the breaking point, shares the guilt.  Every Secretary of Defense who failed to make unpopular decisions on how to increase manning, every Commander-in-Chief who was told what he wanted to hear and bought it, shares the guilt.

After all the investigations, reports and hearings, are concluded and “band-aid” recommendations are put in place we will still be left with a military that is undermanned and weary.   We ask our military men and women to carry an unimaginable burden.  Our military leadership owes the Afghanis and Sgt Bales’ family, who is now left without a husband and father, more than an apology.  They are owed and honest assessment of what went wrong, and real solutions to prevent it from happening again. Until the people at the Pentagon find a way to bring more men and women in and retain the well-trained troops already in place, the stress of repeated deployments will create more  Sgt Bales’.

This is probably the most important election in the history of America. Indeed the very existence of  the United States of America and what we stand for is at stake. Will we continue to be a country led “Of the people, by the people, for the people“? Or will we become a socialist welfare state, where the looters and moochers are entitled to strip the wealth from the producers. Every American who sees the truth needs to step up. There are too many in this country who are happy to trade their personal freedoms for a life free of personal responsibility. This is NOT what it means to be an American. Do not think we can stand by and things will work out. Our current president will destroy our republican democracy and replace it with a socialist one if re-elected. DO NOT GIVE HIM A SECOND TERM.

Putting Prayer Back in Public Schools

On Thursday, March 1st, the Florida State legislature passed SB, 98 www.flsenate.gov /Session/Bill/2012/0098/BillText/Filed/PDFwhich gives individual school districts the freedom to allow student led “inspirational messages” during mandatory assemblies and other school sponsored events. The bill was sponsored by a Democrat,

Florida State Capitol

Image via Wikipedia

State Senator Gary Siplin, and was overwhelmingly passed with bi-partisan support.  A fact that might surprise many conservatives and Evangelicals.  The bill now awaits the probable signing from Governor Rick Scott.  Other states are taking notice and waiting to see how this law will play out in the practical application of public school policy.

As a Christian and a mother, I should be elated about this.  Over the past few decades we have seen the First Amendment being twisted and perverted into an instrument to deny Christians the right to freely practice our beliefs in public. Activities that are actually a positive influence on campus such as the annual See You At The Pole or groups such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes are routinely banned from school property even though these activities are completely voluntary and take place outside of regular class hours.  Teachers are forbidden to acknowledge their Christian beliefs on their school website bios and are reprimanded for publicly expressing their beliefs even when they are outside of the school setting. This is wrong and is in opposition to the true intent of the First Amendment.

This bill, however, is a bad idea.  The bill’s only strongpoint is that it puts the authority for implementation in the hands of the individual school boards.  This is right because the boards are better able to determine the needs and beliefs of their communities better than the state government can.  The bill seeks to protect the schools from First Amendment litigation by giving the responsibility for choosing, who delivers the message and its content, to the discretion of the students.  School officials and employees are forbidden to interfere in any way with the students’ decisions. There is absolutely no way a school board can define what constitutes an “inspirational message” without violating the rights of one group or another. These messages could be anything from a prayer or devotional to an anarchist rant, or hate group rhetoric. Any student who has an ax to grind or just simply enjoys stirring up trouble will now have a platform.  Time and precious school resources would be wasted on the litigation that is sure to ensue if any school board tries to implement rules to curb the chaos.

The school system in Florida has many challenges.  Fixing a broken system of accountability is one. Though it is a well-intentioned attempt at restoring morality in the school system, this law will not work.  The only way to improve the quality of education in Florida or anywhere else in this country is to remind the schools that their purpose is to serve their students, parents and taxpayer supporters, not the other way around.  The only way to accomplish  what this bill is trying to do, is to implement school choice.

Another Powerful Painting By Jon McNaughton

Understanding the Occupiers

English: Protest signs outside of Occupy Boston.

Image via Wikipedia

Though it started months ago, and no longer makes daily headlines on the major news networks, the Occupy Movement is still plugging away. Tenaciously spreading its anti-capitalist mantra to anyone who cares to listen. This movement has been applauded in the media as a great social movement, but how great has it really been? Just what has truly been accomplished that will benefit the whole of society? To get a better handle on the kind of people who are, or  have participated in an Occupy protest, I have a few questions I would like to ask. I would appreciate a direct response to these questions from anyone who is or has participated in an Occupy protest for more than a week.

  1. Are you currently employed? If so, how did you get the time off from work to participate in this protest? If no, are you actively seeking employment? If so, how are you conducting a job search while  attending the protest?
  2. If not employed, are you a student? If so, how are you managing to attend class and keep up with your homework while attending the protest?  What is your grade point average?
  3. Do you own a home or rent?  If so, how are you paying your mortgage, or rent and utilities while you are attending the protest?  If not, where were you living before you encamped at the protest?  Did you have to contribute financially in any way,  in order to live there?  Will you be able to return there when you are through protesting?
  4. Other than student loans or education grants, are you receiving any form of government assistance?  If so what kind?
  5. Do you depend on your parents for any kind of financial support?  (To include trust funds)
  6. Are you married?  If so, are both of you attending the protest?
  7. Do you have any children?
  8. What visible positive effects can be seen in this community due to the presence of this protest?
  9. Are you old enough to vote? If so, are you planning on voting in the presidential election?
  10. Do you now, or have you ever owned any kind of business?

It will be interesting and probably surprising to see the answers to these questions.  I’ll put the results in a future post.

Pretty Fly for a White Guy

Me being a Stereotypical Nerd.

Image via Wikipedia

When it comes to fairness in this country it seems we have come full circle. We have a black president. Hispanics will soon be the majority in this country. We have doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, policemen, firemen, politicians and astronauts of all races and genders.  So who is really discriminated against anymore?

I have come to the conclusion that, the most discriminated demographic in this country is…….the white heterosexual male.  I know a lot of you are thinking, whaaaaaat? But before you get David Duke to come and fit me with a sheet hear me out.

Yes, once there was a time when being a white male gave him an unfair advantage, regardless of his wealth or social status. But those days are over.  Now you have the NAACP, the National Black Caucus, The Hispanic Chamber Commerce, NOW, the League of Women Voters and The Gay Straight Alliance. Our society considers these organizations to be progressive and enlightening. They are not presented as discriminatory. What you don’t have is the NAFAWG (National Association For the Advancement of White Guys), White Voters United or The White Guy White Gal Alliance. Organizations such as those would immediately be considered discriminatory even though they would exist for the same purpose as the before mentioned organizations.  To unite people of a specific ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.

There are no scholarships set aside only for white guys, yet there are numerous scholarship opportunities exclusively for blacks, Hispanics and women.

There are no start-up loans for white guy businesses even though being a white male doesn’t automatically grant you a higher economic status. There are however, loans for minority businesses.

White guys have no rhythm or sense of style, they can’t dress and Lord knows they can’t dance.

Affirmative action doesn’t apply to white guys. They have to get a job or promotions strictly on their own merits and work ethics.

White guys have to endure being called crackers, gringos, chauvinists and homophobes. But heaven forbid they call a woman “sweetcheeks”.  Uttering the highly forbidden “N word” could get him sued or fired.

The time has come for a truly level playing field. For all forms of public financial, educational, and employment assistance to be color and gender neutral and be based solely on need. So that all persons regardless of their gender, race, or sexual orientation, can have the freedom to pursue the vocation of their choice and to live by the consequences of those choices.

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