Thursday, May 26, 2016

'He Could Bankrupt America!'--Hillary Clinton

"What little we know of his economic policies would be running up our debt, starting trade wars, letting Wall Street run wild, all of that could cause another crash and devastate working families and our country" Hillary Clinton said Monday.
"He could bankrupt America like he's bankrupted his companies"
Who is she really talking about, Donald Trump or our current President Barack Obama?

Out of the hundreds of businesses Donald Trump owns, it is reported that he took 4 of them into some form of bankruptcy protection which is a legal way to protect assets while reorganizing the underlying business.

America has some of the most lenient bankruptcy laws in the world mainly because we used to want to encourage risk-taking on the part of entrepreneurs and business people who will experience failure as they take any sort of risk along the way and then we want them to get back into the game where they can start a new business and hire people and create jobs and all that.

Most people never start one business during their lives. Many are content just to work for someone with the guts and vision and courage it takes to put up their own money or borrow it from investors, struggle through the start-up phases of any business; try to meet payroll and pay taxes on time...and then get 'blamed' by people like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama for 'making a profit' as if that is a bad thing in America somehow.

That is what America is all about in the first place. Having the freedom to take an idea and make it grow into something you want it to be, not the President or your parents or any of your friends or foes want it to be.

Failure to understand that dynamic is just one of the many landmines in President Obama's failed economic policies, one which apparently Bernie Sanders adheres to as does Hillary Clinton.

The more pertinent point to Hillary Clinton's myopic comment though is this:
'How can Donald Trump do ANYTHING that would lead to more 'bankrupting' of America than President Obama has allowed to happen over the past 7.5 years of his leadership (sic) and presidency?
Let's look at the videotape:
  • On January 20, 2009 when Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, the national debt stood at what was then an alarming $10.6 trillion.
  • On January 20, 2017 when President Barack Obama flies away from the White House in the presidential helicopter, the national debt will be an astounding $20.5+ something trillion.
That is a 100% increase in anyone's book whether standard math, Common Core or from Ray's Arithmetic Series for elementary school students back in the 19th century.

Can anyone deny that happened under President Obama's watch while in the White House?

Didn't think so. Facts are facts and numbers are numbers. Presidents get judged by history depending on the day they took the oath of office to become President right through the day they leave the White House.

Why is the national debt of any concern anyway? Why can't we just borrow all that we want when we want to borrow it and fix all the problems we face in America right now?

If the President was some sort of 'Anti-Isaac Newton' who could repeal the laws of economic gravity, that would be a good solution.

However, in the annals of recorded human history, excessive borrowing by any form of government from kings to dictators to republics to communism has always led to financial disaster for the citizens of said state or country.

100% of the time. There is no getting around it. Profligate spending on the part of any leader or elected legislatures of any country has always led to depreciation of the currency; high interest rates, high rates of inflation or even hyper-inflation and a general collapse of the economy which hurts everyone. Especially low-income, wage-earning people whom proponents of more federal spending purport to say they want to help.

Running up exorbitant levels of collective debt that can destroy our economy and freedom is not a good way to help anyone in our book.

Here's some charts that help explain what is truly at stake in this upcoming election:

  1. Are we going to return to a time of mature adult leadership when it comes to balancing our federal budgets and reducing the national debt or
  2. Are we going to continue down the path of financial imbalance that started in 2001 under President George W. Bush 43 and which President Obama has just 'super-sized' like he is at a McDonald's or something?
There really is no more important question to be asked of you, the voter, when it comes down to deciding who to vote for in the fall election.

Once the country has made their choice on November 8, there is no going back and asking for a do-over or mulligan, you know.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Duke Basketball, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders

When things get really bad, people want change
Coach K and Duke team, 1983
Ever notice how when things are going along pretty well, no one wants to make a massive change?

Or that everyone just sort of takes 'the good times' for granted and things will just keep going along as well as they have always been?

Take Duke basketball for instance.

For the past 36 years, the Duke basketball program under Coach K has pretty much operated on all cylinders, winning 5 national titles, racking up 970 victories and generally has been in the national conversation every year as either the favorite or one of the favorites to win it all.

Duke fans and foes alike have gotten so used to all that winning that they just accept it now as a matter of course and fact of life. You never hear anyone suggest Coach K should be 'fired', even when they have lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament 2 out of the last 5 years, except maybe every other coach in the ACC who is tired of running up against him every year.

But you know when Duke fans really did want to fire Coach K? In 1981-82 and 1982-83 as he compiled 10-17 and 11-17 records which were worse than 3 of his 5 seasons previously at Army.

'He can't use man-to-man all the time!'
you heard people scream. 'This motion offense is idiotic!' you heard others say.

We can't really print what people were saying after Duke lost at Cameron to lowly Wagner College of New York City on January 5, 1983 before only 5,500 fed-up fans at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

(Imagine that. A virtually half-empty Cameron Indoor Stadium where it has been sold-out for every game since the mid-1980's when Duke stated its ascendancy back to the top of college basketball)

That could have been the night that everyone could have been called 'Cameron Crazies' except they were 'crazy' with anger, derision and venom. They all wanted Coach K's scalp and for him to be fired and drummed out of Durham the next day.

In short, no Duke fan had any confidence on the cold night of January 5, 1983 that Coach K was ever going to get the job done right at Duke University.

What is the point of this comparison to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders?

'When things are not going well, people want a change. The worse things get, the bigger and quicker they want that change to be'

Which brings us to Donald J. Trump and Bernie 'Feel The Bern!' Bernie Sanders.

Let's take a quick look at where politicians in Washington DC have taken us as a nation since the last time we had some sense of normalcy, adult leadership, sanity and balanced budgets in 2000:

  1. When President Bill Clinton left office on January 20, 2001, the national debt was $5.6 trillion.

    -Today, it is passing $19.6 trillion and is still on an upwards trajectory with no signs of abatement or flattening-out.
  2. 132 million people were employed in non-farm jobs as of 1/20/01. Out of a total population of 282 million.

    -143 million
    people are now employed in non-farm jobs today. Out of a total population of 323 million.

    -The US population has grown by over 40 million people since 2000. And yet only 11 million more people are at work in full-time jobs 16 years later. Why hasn't the employed workforce increased by 20-30 million people instead of just 11 million?

    -There's your 'discouraged/left-the-workforce' gap that is contributing to the general sense that 'something just ain't right' with the US economy right now and hasn't been for a long time.

    -Everyone knows people who have tried and tried repeatedly to find permanent work only to get discouraged and stop working or take early retirement or disability when they really would prefer to keep working.

    -Older people are working longer and not retiring
    , mainly because they have to keep working as a result of the Great Recession of 2008-2010 when a lot of retirement money was wiped out. A large number of the people who have left the workforce since 2000 can be attributed to Boomers retiring but that leaves millions of people who want to find work unable to find a job in The Obama Economy.
  3. The Immigration System of America Was a Mess in 2000.

    -President George Bush 43 actually allowed, and in many ways, encouraged, millions of illegal immigrants to enter the United States through the borders of Texas in large part because many in the American business and agricultural industries wanted a large source of cheap labor since they were finding it ever more difficult to find workers for their often-times backbreaking, hot and sometimes dangerous jobs.

    -Anywhere from 11 million to 30 million illegal immigrants were allowed to cross into the United States since 2000 depending on what estimates you can find.

    -The Immigration System of America is STILL A Mess in 2016

    -No substantive changes, improvements, reforms have been made legislatively to correct our immigration system. 9/11 caused the consolidation of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) into Homeland Security but the flood of illegal undocumented aliens continues to this day.
  4. The Health Care System of America Was A Mess In 2000

    -Overall health care costs were growing at close to double-digit rates for much of the previous 20 years. 35-40 million people were uninsured. Medicaid and Medicare represented about 20% of the federal budget.

    -The Health Care System of America IS STILL A MESS in 2016

    -Medicaid and Medicare now make up over 25% of the federal budget. The ACA exchanges are crumbling across the nation in all states. 25-30 million people are still left uninsured. The private insurance markets have been disrupted and/or destroyed in many states when it comes to delivering insurance coverage to individuals or companies. And we have an additional $1 trillion or more added to the federal debt that can be solely attributed to the passage of the ACA in 2010.
Ask yourself this question:

'What significant public policy issue that affects us all has gotten appreciably better due to the actions of our elected President working in conjunction with our elected representatives in Congress and the US Senate since 2000?

According to most people who respond to surveys where 65-75%+ say 'America is on the wrong track', the answer is an emphatic 'NONE!'.

Which is why we are seeing the extraordinary rise of Donald Trump to be the presumptive Republican nominee for the White House this fall and the unbelievably durable campaign of Socialist Bernie Sanders who is making Hillary Clinton's path to her supposed coronation not a cakewalk by any means.

The people of this country have just said: 
'I have had enough. Elected politicians have not gotten the job done. They have not gotten even one thing done that I care about: jobs, economic growth and higher wages foremost among them. I am sick of them all. So I am voting for the most outside-of-all-outsiders to see if they can do something whereas we have 16 years of empirical proof that established politicians do not know what they are doing and simply can not get the job done for me or the American people'.
One conjecture might be that had the Republican President George Bush 43 been more deficit-conscious during his term with GOP control of the House and Senate from 2001-2007 and not fought the war in Iraq but continued the war on Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan to its conclusion until both were annihilated, the Republicans today might be viewed by a majority of voters as having done 'the right thing' when given the chance to lead.

Or had Bush 43 cut any sort of immigration, budget or health care deal when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the House from 2007-2009, perhaps the voters would have given experienced politicians such as George Bush's brother, Jeb and others more of their support this time around in 2016.

Or had President Obama worked with the Republican minority in Congress from 2009-2011 to cut a deal on restraining spending; true health care reform or immigration, perhaps voters would be rushing to surround Hillary Clinton and ask her to keep doing 'more of the same' this time around instead of cheering on Socialist Bernie Sanders which is a protest candidacy against the status quo if there ever was one.

Or maybe if President Obama had worked with the Republican majorities in the House and then the US Senate from 2011-present to cut a bipartisan deal, any deal!, on anything of any consequence in Washington, perhaps the American electorate would not have been so enamored with a reality star, commercial real estate mogul that he has completely sucked the oxygen out of the political atmosphere for the past year.

Since none of these have occurred, or even had a snowball's chance in Hades of happening due to the intransigence and political immaturity on both sides of the aisle, the American voter has become enraged much like the Duke fans after that Wagner College loss at Cameron Indoor of all places.

Duke Athletic Director Tom Butters responded soon thereafter with a new 5-year contract for Coach K, right when it looked like everyone, and I mean everyone, thought he should be or was going to be fired.

The American People are not willing to do that with any experienced politician running for the White House today. This deep and thick animosity towards 'experienced politicians' might soon overcome and envelop Hillary Clinton if the past year is any indication of what is to come this summer and fall.

Maybe the politicos on both sides will read the real tea leaves of this election and come to the conclusion that they don't have to win 100% of what they want every time there is a bill in Congress to be debated and passed. The vast majority of the electorate care less about ideological purity and far more about making progress towards solving major problems.

People would have been happy with budget, health care and immigration bills that were not 'perfect' but were 'workable' and solved maybe 75% of the problem at any point along the way since 2000.

Maybe if a Congress and a President over the last 16 years had accomplished a significant budget deal along the way, our national debt might be $11 trillion instead of approaching $20 trillion which would have taken at least some of the steam out of the anger now fueling the Trump campaign, yes?

That would have involved statesmanship, leadership and compromise, in that order. None of which was used in over-abundance or enthusiasm by either side since 2000. By any politician. President, Speaker, Majority Leader or any other Member of Congress or Senate.

The vast majority of the American electorate could care less if one side or the other signed some silly pledge or had to cut a deal and make a few compromises along the way to achieve the greater good.

They just want something of consequence to be done. Anything.

Had our elected officials in Washington done so, it is doubtful that we would have even heard of Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders this past year.

Experienced politicians such as Jeb Bush and Scott Walker would have been as welcome on their road to the White House as Coach K is when he drives his Escalade every morning to the parking lot behind Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Instead of being summarily hung in effigy. (like Dean Smith was by the way in his 4th season at UNC)

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Friday, May 13, 2016

'Shall We Play A Game' With HB2 In North Carolina?

(click through title link to see video if you can't see it)
By now, you would have thought the fervor over North Carolina's HB2 would be subsiding at least a little bit, wouldn't you?

Nope. Instead it has escalated to DefCon 2 with Obama Attorney General Loretta Lynch issuing a letter telling North Carolina that HB 2 is in violation of the Civil Rights Act and they might withhold billions of dollars in federal aid to the university system under Title IX plus transportation funds and any other federal aid that may flow to North Carolina.

(Late-breaking news: The DOJ now says they will not withhold any federal funds while this issue is in court. The Obama Administration will send a letter to every school district in the nation today advising them to make sure transgender students have access to the restroom that aligns with their gender expression or else they will be in violation of the Civil Rights Act and subject to penalties)

Governor Pat McCrory has filed a lawsuit against the federal government calling their action a gross overreach of federal power and asking for an injunction against any withholding of federal funds plus clarification of whether the ordinance as passed by the Charlotte City Council on February, 2016 included classes of people who were in fact covered by the Civil Rights Act as a protected class of American citizens.

This is not the movie 'WarGames' starring Matthew Broderick in 1983. This is 'not a computer-simulated game' that he thought he was playing with 'Joshua' after he had hacked into the NORAD defense system of America.

This is real-life with real consequences for everyone involved. Not just the political actors but every citizen in North Carolina.

However, it does have elements of 'political gamesmanship' coupled with some deep divisions in political philosophy dating back to the debate over the US Constitution that you need to keep in mind as you watch this saga unfold over the coming months:

I. HB2 Has 'Political' Fingerprints All Over It

As noted in our last post, the Human Rights Campaign is a very well-organized and funded national political organization that advocates the rights of the LGBT community. The Charlotte City ordinance was not passed as a result of any lawsuit or action taken in Charlotte that denied the right to enter public or private restrooms of any person who was transgender but was passed because the Human Rights Campaign supported Mayor Jennifer Roberts in her campaign last fall in 2015.

She promised she would pass this ordinance once elected and 52% of the voting population in Charlotte voted for her so she was 'just following through on her campaign promise' which many people want their candidate to do once elected, right?

There is speculation that she felt this would help propel her to run one day in another run for Congress against incumbent Congressman Robert Pittenger or perhaps Senator Thom Tillis in 2020.

Politics is politics. It happens on both sides of the aisle.

II. Is The Obama Administration REALLY Going to Withhold $4.5 Billion in Title IX Funds From North Carolina?

Put your logic hats on for this one:

Title IX funds specifically help female students and athletes from kindergarten through college have equal access to all programs or activities, most notable of which has been the explosion of women's athletic programs since 1972.

President Obama has been a vocal and tireless supporter of females during his Administration.

Even before the announcement that he would not withhold any federal funds while the case was in court, was he really going to authorize the withholding of $4.5 billion in Title IX funds to the State of North Carolina which would decimate women's athletic programs at every publicly-funded university or public school?

We may continue to see the 'threat' of withholding of such funds in order to force the NCGA into changing HB2 in some way. But the immediate rescission of Title IX funds by the Obama Administration to the State of North Carolina would only wind up hurting the very constituency that President Obama and his Cabinet would least want to see hurt in any way, shape or form.

It is like holding a gun to your head while threatening to jump off a bridge into speeding traffic below. No one in their right mind would do either.

No Title IX funds have ever been directly denied to any college or university or public education system.

This particular threat doesn't make a lot of sense.

III. Instances Where Federal Government Has Withheld Federal Funds To States

Any time there is a tie between federal funding and a state, there is the potential for federal funding to be used as a lever to force state action to comply with federal policies.

However, actually withdrawing or diminishing federal grants has been used sparingly over our history and very little in recent years.

The federal government used the Highway Trust Fund four times to force states to comply with federal regulations regarding raising the national drinking age from 18 to 21 in 1987; setting a national 55-mph speed limit (can you imagine 55 mph today?) in 1974 amidst the oil embargo and forcing motorcyclists to wear helmets (overturned by act of Congress in 1995).

In the 1960s, the federal government used the threat of withholding funds after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to force 100 school districts in the South into adopting integration in public school.

The same threat has only been used sparingly since then, most notably in the '80s to force Grove City College in Pennsylvania into compliance with Title IX regulations even though Grove City as an institution did not accept federal aid of any kind, although some of its students did through Pell Grants and other forms of federal assistance.

Most recently, the Obama Administration tried to force states to expand Medicaid coverage in the ACA or risk losing all of their federal match of Medicaid dollars for their citizens in the Medicaid program which ranges from 55-73% of total costs of Medicaid in the states.

On June 28, 2012:
'...(A) majority of the (Supreme) Court found the ACA’s Medicaid expansion unconstitutionally coercive of states because states did not have adequate notice to voluntarily consent to this change in the Medicaid program, and all of a state’s existing federal Medicaid funds potentially were at risk for non-compliance. (A) different majority of the Court held that this issue was fully remedied by limiting the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary’s enforcement authority, thus leaving the Medicaid expansion (and all other ACA provisions) intact in the law.'
Several observers opined that the Obama Administration 'tried to use a sledgehammer from Washington to pound states into submission and do what they (the Obama White House) wanted them to do rather than have any input into what they wanted to do in that particular state'.

Could it be argued that the Obama DOJ is trying to use that same 'sledgehammer' approach by threatening to withhold $4.5 billion in federal aid over an issue that really was not even a major problem defined by a lawsuit or grievance in Charlotte, North Carolina before February 22, 2016?

To put this in another context, can anyone in the media or on the pro-Charlotte ordinance side of things begin to imagine the firestorm that would have been created had say, President George W. Bush, used the same heavy-handed tactics to withhold millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood across the nation in order to force them to comply with some part of an anti-abortion agenda without any legislative input or confirmation first from the US Congress?

It would have put the wildfires in British Columbia to shame for being just a fire in an outdoor firepit in someone's backyard by comparison.

IV. What Is The Enforcement Mechanism For The Obama Administration IF North Carolina Refuses To Cooperate With The DOJ Letter Or Subsequent Legal Ruling In DOJ's Favor

Is President Obama prepared to send in the National Guard to guard every restroom in North Carolina if North Carolina refuses to comply with the DOJ position on HB2? There has to be millions of public restrooms alone in the entire state of 10 million people today.

Think about it. What is the only other mechanism left to a Chief Executive in the White House to enforce any executive order or Supreme Court ruling?

The Supreme Court can issue any ruling they want but those 9 Justices sitting on the High Court at any time simply can't do anything to enforce any ruling they may make on any issue. The Founders of the Constitution did not give them any enforcement mechanism, thankfully in many regards.

President Eisenhower sent the National Guard into Little Rock, Arkansas to enforce the integration of public schools in 1957 following the landmark 1954 Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas Supreme Court ruling that ended segregation in public education. 9 African-American students were protected by National Guard troops as they entered Little Rock Central High School.

Assuming the NC General Assembly fails to comply with the Department of Justice either because of their letter or a subsequent judicial ruling or the threat of the loss of Title IX funds, do you really believe President Obama will send in the National Guard to enforce their view of what sexual discrimination covers under the Civil Rights Act as currently written?

If you do, then we are in far deeper trouble as you will see next.

V. 'Federal Over-Reach' vs. 'State's Rights'

What we are seeing play out in stark contrast right now in North Carolina is nothing new in our democratic republic with so many competing interests in the state and federal government interaction.

'Anti-Federalists' back then objected to the concentration of power in Washington which superseded the power of the states to control their own destinies.

'Federalists' at the time recognized the need for a vigorous national taxing authority primarily to fund an effective military defense to defend the new nation against further attacks by Great Britain, which happened again 25 years later anyway.

President Obama has made no secret of his disdain for the parts of the US Constitution that he feels hinders his ability to complete his 'Change' agenda before leaving office in less than 8 months from today. This effort is an extra-legislative way to force such change on states without having to go through the constitutionally-mandated process of having the US Congress and Senate consider and pass amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that would add 'gender expression' to the list of protected classes of people for anti-discrimination purposes.

It is far easier for any President to use the court system to enact such change and hope that a friendly judge or a panel of judges will interpret the Constitution in a way that is commensurate with the political goals of the White House at the time.

The final warning to anyone who is cheering on President Obama as he uses executive orders and DOJ 'enforcement actions' such as this one is this:

'Will you be just as happy to see 'President Donald J. Trump' use the exact same tactics and procedures to enact any of his stated political wishes starting January 20, 2017?'

Take 2 Excedrin headache pills, think about it some and you will wish President Obama had adhered to the tried-and-true process of 'legislative supremacy' our Founders and leaders such as Henry Clay used to keep concentrated power out of the hands of one person in the White House.

Presidents use 'precedent' all the time, you know.

Like 'Joshua' says at the end of 'WarGames': 'How about a nice game of chess?'

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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Ball of Confusion on HB2

Well, the only person talking about love thy brother is the preacher
And it seems nobody's interested in learning but the teacher

Segregation, determination, demonstration, integration

Aggravation, humiliation, obligation to our nation

Ball of confusion

Oh yeah, that's what the world is today*

There is so much emotion, venom and flat-out disinformation being dispensed out there that no one in the general public seems to know what to think about this controversial issue.

Several people have asked for a primer on the subject so, with the caveat of this not being 100% in our wheelhouse, here's some background information you might not be aware of regarding HB2 that might help you at least understand how we got here and why it has been so explosive.

I. North Carolina is a 'Dillon Rule State'.

'All power in the state derives from the state legislature' as described in this film from 1963, 'The Ayes Have It'.  

In 1868, Judge John Dillon of Iowa issued a decision which established the supremacy of the state government over municipalities much in the same manner as federal law pre-empts state law.
'Dillon's Rule is derived from the two court decisions issued by Judge John F. Dillon of Iowa in 1868. It affirms the previously held, narrow interpretation of a local government's authority, in which a sub-state government may engage in an activity only if it is specifically sanctioned by the state government.
Dillon's Rule was challenged by Judge Thomas Cooley of the Michigan Supreme Court in 1871, with the ruling that municipalities possess some inherent rights of local self-government. Cooley's Rule was followed for a short time by courts in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and Texas until the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Dillon's Rule in 1903 and again in 1923.
Since then, the following tenets have become a cornerstone of American municipal law and have been applied to municipal powers in most states:
  • A municipal corporation can exercise only the powers explicitly granted to them
  • Those necessarily or fairly implied in or incident to the powers expressly granted
  • Those essential to the declared objects and purposes of the corporation, not simply convenient, but indispensable'
        39 states are 100% covered by the Dillon Rule. Another 8 states cover only certain municipalities.

        If you go sit in the NCGA for any length of time, you will see dozens if not hundreds of local ordinances being brought up for discussion during the course of a legislative session. This has been going on in the NCGA dating back to 1868 which was about the last time Republicans controlled the North Carolina state legislature until the election of 2010.

        'All Power Derives From The State Legislature' in North Carolina whether you like it or not. It has been that way under virtual 100% Democratic control for 140 years before the last 6 under GOP control.

        If you want to change that fact, you will need to find some way to get around the Supreme Court ruling of 1923 and probably amend the state constitution while you are at it.

        II. The Issue of Transgender Rights in Bathrooms Is An Organized Nationwide Political Effort 

        This issue did not originate in Charlotte in February, 2016. Nor was it the result of a lawsuit or any sort of widespread discrimination simply because no one knew who was using which bathroom when or where.

        The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) headquartered in Washington, DC is a well-funded organization that advances the cause of the LGBT community nationwide. The issue of transgender access to public restrooms in North Carolina was first advanced in Asheville, NC in 2015 but was tabled in the city council when it was explained that passage of the ordinance would be subject to Dillon Rule scrutiny by the NCGA controlled by the Republicans and most likely would be reversed after causing a huge political ruckus.

        Jennifer Roberts was running for Mayor of Charlotte in 2015 and chose to make this an integral part of her campaign. Once elected with 2 new members of the council, the motion to add 'gender identity' and 'gender expression' to the City's anti-discrimination ordinances (described below #) was adopted on February 22, 2016 by a 7-4 vote even though the Governor, Pat McCrory, a former Mayor of Charlotte had warned the council that it went too far and probably would be reversed by the NCGA under the Dillon Rule described above.

        The reason why a city can't just add coverage to their ordinances without any reservation or review by the NCGA is because of 2 things:
        2. If Charlotte or any city passes an ordinance, it has to be consistent with 552 other municipalities in the state and 100 counties in order to allow business to operate across county and city lines without having to adhere to 652 separate and inconsistent ordinances on any particular issue.
        If such an initiative were allowed to pass and stay in force, in essence, the Mayor of Charlotte could become the most powerful elected official in the state ahead of the Governor, the Majority Leader of the NC Senate and the Speaker of the NC House.

        III. Nothing Is Different Today in North Carolina Regarding Public Accommodations As Before February 22 When Companies Were Making Decisions To Come To North Carolina.

        When it comes to ordinances governing bathroom access, the law today in North Carolina is no different statewide than they were anytime before in 2014 or 2015 or even on February 22, 2016 before the Charlotte City Council vote. Because HB2 reversed the Charlotte ordinance before implementation on April 1, the expanded Charlotte coverage never went into effect.

        People were using the restroom of their choice without a lot of fanfare before then mainly because no one knew who was using the restroom or what their sexual gender identification or expression might have been. There was no lawsuit to our knowledge prior to the Charlotte City Council vote challenging the existing practice at the time either.

        There were no police at every restroom to monitor who was coming in and going out of each restroom.

        Public buildings and private business were offering male and female bathrooms as well as gender-neutral restrooms such as 'Family' bathrooms or just unisex single-stall restrooms that anyone could access and lock the door to use the facilities and then leave without anyone knowing what sex you were or were not.

        A friend with a predisposition for numbers estimated that anyone had a chance to go to a restroom in North Carolina of either sex before February, 2016 and have perhaps a 1-in-4000 chance of being in the same restroom during the year with a transgender person....and not even know it.

        With the passage of the Charlotte City Council ordinance, all of a sudden, public government and private business access to bathrooms were deemed to be under the Charlotte City Council purview and forced to comply with the new ordinance which seemed to open up the possibility that certain men might try to take advantage of the new 'open door policy' in their eyes and perhaps make restrooms more unsafe than they had been previously.

        You can agree or disagree all you want but at least you know the timeline involved as to how we got here.

        IV. The Anti-Discrimination Lawsuit Restrictions In State Courts Is A Lot More Complicated Than The Press Makes It Out To Be

        The bottom-line is that this provision of HB2 was considered in the previous legislative session in 2015 but was tabled late in the year.

        There is no 'EEOC' state law fully equivalent to federal law. Appellate courts in North Carolina long ago found certain rights that 'emanated' somehow from 'the 'penumbra' of the state 'Fair Employment Practices Act' (FEPA) that allowed employees who felt they had been unfairly fired from a job to sue their employer under a more generous set of rules than under federal law.

        Namely, a person could sue an employer in the state courts anytime during a 3-year period from time of termination whereas in the federal courts, the fired employee only had 180-days, or 6 months to file a claim.

        The federal courts are set up with more highly-trained and focused legal staff on the finer points of employment law in America than state courts. Most businesses, including the ones who are now thinking about leaving North Carolina, would be in favor or a shortened statute of limitations and funneling cases to the federal system versus the state court system that is not as well set up or suited to handle such complicated cases. **(summary below from employment law expert)

        V. The Minimum Wage Part of HB2

        This was part of legislation that was considered during the long session in 2015 but not passed. It was added to this bill as many provisions are attached to legislation at the federal and state level that appear to be moving quickly to implementation.

        There was some good news this week that this might be resolved somehow outside of the court system that is costly, tedious and quite honestly, 'extra-legislative' in nature. Our Founders wanted duly-elected legislatures to take up issues of public policy and render decisions, not small groups of judges, either elected and subject to political whims at the time or appointed for life totally immune to public sentiment.

        Former Governor Jim Martin has written a thoughtful piece you should read: 'Listen To Each Other'

        Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts met with the Republican leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly on Thursday, May 5, to talk about ways to resolve this issue. Quite frankly, again, had these discussions taken place before the Charlotte City Council vote on February 22, none of this conflagration would have occurred and Bruce Springsteen would have given his concert and not refunded all those tickets to the people who wanted to hear him.

        In case anyone didn't notice, this past week we saw where the US economy stumbled to 0.5% economic growth in the 1st quarter of 2016; 300,000 people left the workforce because they can't find a job; our national debt passed $19.2 trillion, and, oh yes, Donald Trump became the nominee for the Republican Party to run for the White House presumably against Hillary Clinton.

        Maybe with the discussions now going on, a common solution (such as gender-neutral or family restrooms) can be reached where people can go to the bathroom in privacy so we can turn our collective attention and energies to solving these massive public policy problems we face together as a nation, perhaps?

        *lyrics to 'Ball of Confusion' by The Temptations 

        # 'Motion was made by Councilmember Kinsey and seconded by Councilmember Mayfield to 
        adopt Ordinance No. 7056 amending the City Code by adding marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression to the list of protected characteristics in the commercial non-discrimination, public accommodations, and passenger vehicles for hire ordinances.'

        ** Why a FEPA (Fair Employment Protection Act) cause of action does not need to be resurrected.

        There was never a cause of action by the General Assembly but was instead created by NC appellate courts as a "public policy" expression. FEPA has six (6) times the statute of limitations of the primary corresponding federal law Title VII, 180 days vs. 3  years There is no administrative exhaustion of claims under FEPA such as with the EEOC with federal claims.

        The vast majority of federal claims get resolved at the EEOC level.  No damages caps, unlike Title VII.  In state courts unlike federal claims.  State court judges see few of these cases, have no law clerks except for the Business Court, and rule off the cuff vs. studied written opinions by federal judges.

        Summary judgment is discouraged in state court, in contrast to federal 
        courts.  Summary judgment weeds out many, many meritless cases. FEPA applied to all NC employers with fifteen (15) employees or more.

        employers do not have the luxury of exercising their politics with public pronouncements such as PayPal, etc., and they often do not have the resources to defend lawsuits particularly when they can be ambushed three years after the fact.

        A minority of  states allow state law employment discrimination claims based on sexual "identity", homosexuality,  or claimed transgender status. Congress has the ability to amend Title VII or any part of the Civil Rights Act and change or add any part of the anti-discrimination law it wants.

        The present ACLU case posits that transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination.  Case law has held to the contrary for decades.  The Democrats file bills in every session of Congress to amend Title VII to include homosexual and transgender discrimination, neither of which has ever become law. If these two subsets of employment discrimination were types of statutory sex discrimination, the Democrats would not need to introduce such bills.

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        Thursday, April 28, 2016

        The Sky Really Is Falling on Social Security

        (click through title link to see video)
         You've been bombarded with a lot of information over the past year about a lot of issues, a lot of which really are not that important to the vast majorities of people living in America today when it all comes down to it.

        Politics tends to default to the lowest common denominator in terms of highlighting issues that prey on people's emotions to get them to vote for one side or the other on Election Day. You see it all the time from all sides of the political spectrum and that has been the case in American politics since Jefferson and Hamilton and Adams were hammering each other.

        Social Security is not one of those lowest common denominator issues. It is probably one of only 2 federal programs (Medicare being the other) everyone in this country either pays directly into (in the form of payroll taxes) and/or benefits from financially if you live long enough to participate in either program in retirement.

        Therefore, you need to know all you can about the facts and figures of Social Security as well as all the 'myths' that surround the program mainly because of its massive size and complications.

        The Committee for Fiscal Responsibility has produced this comprehensive document, 'Nine Social Security Myths You Shouldn't Believe' which should provide you with as much information as you could ever want to consume to be knowledgeable about the current state of Social Security so you can converse with your friends and colleagues and hopefully edify and educate them as well.

        • Myth #1: We don’t need to worry about Social Security for many years.
        • Myth #2: Social Security faces only a small funding shortfall.
        • Myth #3: Social Security solvency can be achieved solely by making the rich pay the same as everyone else.
        • Myth #4: Today’s workers will not receive Social Security benefits.
        • Myth #5: Social Security would be fine if we hadn’t “raided the trust fund.”
        • Myth #6: Social Security cannot run a deficit.
        • Myth #7: Social Security has nothing to do with the rest of the budget.
        • Myth #8: Social Security can be saved by ending waste, fraud, and abuse.
        • Myth #9: Raising the retirement age hits low-income seniors the hardest.

        We won't go into much detail here other than to show you the key charts and graphs below that highlight the refutation of the myths mentioned above. Hopefully, these charts will either interest or alarm you enough to force you to read the entirety of the 10-page CFRB report so you will become fully versed in the gravity of the situation now facing us in Social Security 'insolvency' or at least 'severe shortfall'.

        Just to give your heart a little palpitation today, consider Myth # 6:

        Myth #6: Social Security cannot run a deficit.

        Fact: Social Security is running a cash deficit today, and it will keep running deficits until its trust funds run out. (Figures 4&5 below)
        Social Security is legally barred from going into debt; in other words, it cannot spend more than it takes in (or has transferred in) over the life of the program. However, the program can (and does) run annual deficits. In 2016, for example, Social Security will run a cashflow deficit of about $70 billion.
        Over the next decade, the Trustees project cash-flow deficits of $1.5 trillion, and CBO projects deficits of $2.2 trillion.7 Even including interest income, the program is projected to begin running deficits by 2018 or 2020.
        2018 or 2020. That is right around the corner, ladies and gentlemen! Have you heard even a peep out of our Chief Executive, President Barack Obama about this looming crisis? Nope. Not a word.

        Everyone 'presumes' that since Social Security is funded by its own separate payroll tax, that it is always going to be funded solely by those revenues.

        What is happening now is that Social Security essentially is dipping into the same general pot of revenue the government receives every day from taxpayers that has been used to pay for defense, homeland security, transportation and environmental protection programs.

        What most people do not realize is that that same general revenue pot of money is currently ALSO funding close to 85% of the entire Medicare budget in the country and 100% of all the Medicaid budget funded by the federal government nationwide.

        What happens when Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the national debt consume 100% of federal tax revenues paid into the US Treasury each year and the majority of SS funding comes from general tax revenue, not just the dedicated payroll tax?

        Nothing else will get funded unless we borrow THE ENTIRETY of our defense, transportation, homeland security, welfare, environmental protection, foreign aid, science and tech, housing and education budgets from overseas sources.

        If you are a young working person out there today, you can be enamored all you want by the promises of Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton but just realize that nothing he/she promises you is likely to ever happen under him or her or any other President to follow in your lifetime.

        The cash shortfalls in Social Security pretty much insure that the days of an expanding welfare state in America are over and done with.

        You can't expand what you can't pay for. And you young people are going to find it very difficult to fund even the Social Security promises made to your grandparents and parents in the next 10 years when the vast majority of the Baby Boom population start drawing Social Security checks directly out of your FICA or payroll taxes every single month.*

        Unless dramatic changes are made to all of our entitlement programs under the next President and Congress that is.

        The 2017-2018 115th Congressional session could be the most impactful session of Congress in your young lifetimes.

        You better hope the right people get elected for your future.

         *(side-note: When SS started, there were almost 42 workers to help pay for the benefits of every single retiree because there were so few retirees eligible at the time and so many workers. Today, the ratio is about 2.5 workers to pay for every retiree on SS. So good luck on that.)

        Sunday, April 24, 2016

        ‘Black Male Lives Matter’ ...Therefore We Need Social Security Reform

        first appeared in North State Journal, 4/24/2016 page A7

        One of the more egregious inequities in the US federal budget is the way African-American males are treated by Social Security.

        How is that you say? ‘Social Security was passed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to help every older person regardless of race survive in their golden retirement years!’ you can hear defenders of Social Security start to shout.

        Consider this:

        If you, or an African-American, or a Hispanic or any person who has worked during your lifetime, male or female, die 5 minutes before you become eligible for Social Security benefits, now at about 66 years of life, you will receive exactly $0 for all of those hard-earned dollars and cents you religiously paid in payroll taxes every tax period, whether you liked it or not and whether you even knew it or not.

        Your surviving spouse will be eligible for benefits after your death. But it will be nowhere near what it could have been had Social Security been set up as a defined contribution program similar to a 401k program or IRA that takes your hard-earned dollars and puts them in a dedicated investment plan with only your name on it, to grow through the miracle of compound interest and dividends over the years of your working career.

        So why does this matter if someone is white versus African-American or Hispanic or any other ethnicity?

        The General Accounting Office (GAO) recently published a report, Shorter Life Expectancy Reduces Projected Lifetime Benefits for Lower Earners which sounds obvious except when you delve into the numbers and see that disproportionately high numbers of African-American males are affected.

        Average life expectancy for African-American males in the United States now is about 72 years. White males can expect to live over 79 years. Everyone is living longer nowadays due to better nutrition and advances in medical breakthroughs and technology beyond the wildest dreams of people even 25 years ago.

        However, when you consider that the eligibility age for Social Security is 66, a fair number of African American males will not live long enough to receive one dollar of any of the Social Security payroll taxes they paid into the system over their lifetimes.

        The truly only ‘fair way’ to rectify this injustice is to transition to a private investment system for each and every person. Instead of receiving nothing in benefits in the case of the African-American male mentioned above, had such a system been in place since 1980, even at a low-wage scale, his estate would have had perhaps several hundred thousand dollars in it that could be used to pay off the mortgage, pay for someone’s higher education or generally take care of his surviving spouse in a more comfortable fashion.

        The current Social Security system can be considered the bare minimum, ‘The Minimum Wage’-version of what a retirement plan could look like.

        With a new system that uses direct investment vehicles for each and every person, at least when a person dies, his or her family could receive a lump-sum payment far in excess of any amount of SS benefits they could have ever received during the working partner’s lifetime.

        It is one major way millions of lower-income and African-American males can help their families and generations-to-follow better off financially as they build wealth for the future. Black male lives matter just as much as every other working person’s lives matter.

        We should change Social Security to make it happen.

        Maybe we can get some of the political candidates running for any office, say, those running for President, to start discussing matters of importance such as this with the American people.

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        Sunday, April 17, 2016

        Should President Obama Apologize for Hiroshima?

        There has been speculation that President Obama is seeking an opportunity during the upcoming G-7 Conference in Japan to go to Hiroshima to apologize in some manner for the United States dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and then Nagasaki to end World War II in the Pacific in 1945.

        It would be the coda to his 2 terms in the White House where seemingly every injustice in the world can be traced to 'American Imperialism!' or 'American Capitalist Greed!'. From his very first world trips, they have been described as 'apology tours' designed to make friends with everyone, including our enemies, and the world will all come together and sing 'I'd Like To Buy The World A Coke!' or something. (click through the title link if you can not see the video below)

        President Obama has repeatedly 'bowed' to foreign leaders, both friendly and non-friendly during his two terms in the White House. Not just figuratively speaking but in actual physical practice.

        American Presidential tradition has been to not bow to foreign leaders ever since George Washington defeated the Redcoats under King George III. Think President Washington would have ever bowed or curtsied to His Majesty and Queen had he ever met them in person? (which he didn't)

        With this presidential campaign season upon us, we thought it might be interesting to speculate on what an accurate and more realistic presidential address to the world would look like when it came to America 'taking responsibility' for our actions on the world scene over the past 246 years:

        'Dear Citizens of the World:

        The Great American Experiment will never grow old or die.

        We were founded on the predicate that every person is endowed and created with certain inalienable rights such as life, freedom and the right to pursue whatever endeavor you so choose during your life here on earth.

        We believe in freedom and democracy so much that we have engaged not only in a major civil war on our own soil to free millions of people from oppression, where more Americans died fighting for that freedom than in any and all wars combined since, we have entered into wars on foreign soil to help free hundreds of millions of people from destruction, death and vile oppression from sadistic, mad leaders the world over.

        For that, we will never apologize.

        We will never apologize for helping to liberate Europe from the madman Adolf Hitler who murdered over 6 million Jews for the 'crime' of not fitting his idealized notion of what an Aryan Nation should look like.

        We will never apologize for bringing to a close the communist darkness that was known as the Soviet Union whose very own leaders, Josef Stalin as the worst of them, murdered or imprisoned over 100 million of its own citizens before the USSR died on Christmas Day, 1991 of all blessed days.

        We will never apologize for bringing to an end the murderous, ruthless and ultimately mindless leadership of the Emperor of Japan who caused the death and brutal destruction of perhaps tens of millions of Chinese and southeast Asian people prior to and during World War II.

        We will not apologize for ridding the world of ISIS and Al Qaeda one day soon in the near future when we can all stand together and say we did.

        We hope and pray that we will never again see wars waged on a scale of the world war that ended with the unleashing of nuclear weapons on the face of this earth. Our collective survival depends on keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of madmen and mad states who would seek to do otherwise.

        We wish we would see the days where walls of cities and enemies such as the Midianites were brought down solely by loud trumpets and faith.

        But until we do, we Americans will never stop defending freedom, promoting democracy, advancing free enterprise and protecting innocent people and then returning home after insuring their security and leave the people of each new free nation to live their lives in peace.

        You have our word and solemn promise on that.’

        Think we will see anything like that from President Obama later this summer in Japan? Such an address would be far more 'truthful' than trying to pin America as being a net detriment to humanity on a regular basis during our relatively short 227-year existence.

        Wouldn't it be nice to see a US President talk about how great America is and has been in world history once again?

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        Tuesday, April 12, 2016

        'Zero. Point. Zero'

        When we started this blog in February, 2009, soon after President Barack Obama was sworn into office as the 44th President of these United States of America, we thought we might write 20 or so postings about the basics of the federal budget with some thrown in on taxes and health care policy for good measure.

        Since they were all integrally tied-in with each other.

        This is the 591st publication of such ruminations out of 658 that have been written over that 7.1 year period. 67 that we started writing bored even us upon second thought or were so poorly-written or thought-out, we thought the better part of valor was to just let them die on the shelf.

        Still, roughly close to 85 ruminations have been published each year since 2009.

        And you know what?

        Nothing on the federal spending, budget, tax or even the healthcare side of things has gotten appreciably better since President Barack Obama was elected in 2008.

        In fact, it could be argued that things have gotten far worse under President Obama during those 7 years.
        1. We have accumulated another $10 trillion in national debt under his term in office. More than the accumulated amount of federal debt that occurred under any President dating back to George Washington on a nominal basis at least.
        2. The federal budget is not balanced.
        3. When President Obama leaves the White House next January 20, 2017, the federal deficit is expected to balloon once again.
        4. If interest rates even start to approach the more 'normal' range they have been in for the past 50 years in America, say 5%, the federal deficit will explode as we have to service the then-$21 trillion in national debt at 5%+ (or far more) instead of the current 2% we pay now in interest costs.
          This will mean over $1 trillion in net interest costs will be going out the door each year under the next President no matter who it is; left, right, socialist or whatever. That would be close to 23% of the federal budget each year for those of you counting at home.
        5. Tax rates are higher under President Obama than they were before he took office. Taxes imposed on business and individuals such as the plethora of new taxes imposed under the ACA are a major reason why the economy is still stuck in neutral, or worse, and has been for the past 6 years at least.
        6. As noted in a previous post, we would have all been FAR better off had President Obama and the Democrats 100% in charge of Congress and the US Senate in 2009-2010 just focused on expanding Medicaid under the ACA and just left the private markets alone. There are so many distortions and contradictions and contortions in the private health insurance market today that many of the ACA co-ops are collapsing; health insurers are leaving states right and left and refusing to carry any ACA policies any longer and many people have just given up trying to find a good policy any longer and just pay the ACA fine or ignore it altogether.
        Take a look at this article which pretty much sums up the total 'success' (sic)  of the Obama White House years when it comes to financial, fiscal and economic matters: 'Obama is Pleased With Yellin As Economy Shows Signs of Slowing'.

        'Signs of SLOWING'?

        If the US economy was a submarine, the captain would be screaming: 'FULL STOP!"

        From the Bloomberg article: 'Some economists last week cut their tracking estimates for growth in first-quarter gross domestic product to near zero..'

        'Near-zero' means 'zero' especially when you take into account that we still have some inflation in our system.

        Do you young people have any earthly idea what 'zero economic growth' means for you and any and all of your friends who have graduated from college in the last 6 years?

        It means that the economy is not even growing fast enough to absorb all of the graduates entering the work force beyond what it takes to replace the people who retire or die and otherwise leave the workforce.

        It means that recent graduates are probably working at below-normal salaries and wages because in a non-growing economy, businesses do not need to hire any additional employees, especially when such hires means enormous additional costs such as imposed by the ACA and increased regulations over the past 7 years.

        'A zero rate of economic growth' means that wages will be stagnant for as long as the economy stays weak. It means chances for rapid escalation through the work force in your chosen industry is nil.

        'University of Chicago Economics Professor Dean Wormer' perhaps would say it best on CNBC when confronted with the abysmal economic record of the Obama Administration: (if you can't see the video in the email sent via distribution, click on the title link above and scroll down to this section to view)

        Young people of America: You deserve to experience the full benefits of a thriving, growing, dynamic job-creating America.

        Those of us who are about to go on Social Security and Medicare (and send you the enormous bills to pay for out of your weekly, bi-weekly or monthly paychecks forever it will seem to you) at least had the chance to live through 2 of the greatest economic explosions America has ever experienced: 1982-1988 under President Ronald Reagan and 1995-2000 under President Bill Clinton.

        A 'President Bernie Sanders' would produce an economy that undershoots even that of the Obama White House. A 'President Hillary Clinton' would continue the same economic policies of President Obama that has produced 0.0 GDP growth as she has repeatedly vowed on the campaign trail time and time again.

        Use the left-side of your bright young brains to analyze all the data, facts and figures before you vote this fall. It is all well-and-good to vote for a single issue or for a certain personality because you 'like' them or 'like' their Facebook page or on some other social media

        However, none of that will mean a thing to you if you and your friends: 1) can't find a good, high-paying job; 2) can't move up the economic ladder of success as fast as you want to or 3) even buy a starter home and begin a family.

        Otherwise, you will be voting for 'Zero.Point. Zero' economic growth. Again. After 2 previous elections already.

        Remember how Dean Wormer said it. That is all you need to know about your future.

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        Friday, April 8, 2016

        What Is The Truth About The ACA?


        We would have ALL been better off had the Obama White House and the Democratic Congress in 100% of all legislation been honest and just proposed a massive expansion of Medicaid in 2009-2010 and left the private health insurance markets alone.

        Because that is essentially what the ACA has done more than anything else: expanded coverage by Medicaid programs across the nation by over 34 million people.

        'In 2013, the CBO projected that 34 million people would be on Medicaid or CHIP (the Children's Health Insurance Program) in 2016. The CBO now says that 68 million people will be on Medicaid or CHIP in 2016—double its earlier estimate.'*

        Remember the numbers that were bandied about about the number of 'uninsured' before the ACA was passed?

        Anywhere from 35-40 million people were estimated to not have medical coverage at the time. Based on those numbers, the Medicaid expansion efforts supposedly have cleared up that uninsured number pretty much by now.

        Lawmakers and many states have figured out how to game the system once again to the detriment of future taxpayers and debt-payors, namely our sons and daughters and grandchildren. Not current taxpayers.

        How so?

        The Obama Administration, in their attempt to basically 'bribe' states into expanding their Medicaid programs, offered to pay for the entire Medicaid expansion costs by 100% by the federal government, not the states, for a period of 5 years. Then the match drops to 'only' 90%. Forever, supposedly, without further Congressional action taken.

        So what does this mean?

        It does not mean that the federal government is raising federal taxes to pay for this increase not in the least bit. It DOES mean that the federal government is either borrowing MORE money from the Chinese or foreign sovereigns to pay for the expansion OR the Fed will monetize the debt somehow by creating more money out of nowhere based on nothing else other than the 'full faith and credit' of the United States of America.

        Not even at the state government level does the taxpayer have to pay for any of the Medicaid expansion costs for the first 5 years and then only very little after that.

        (However, after that first 5 years, even a 10% state match for the costs of Medicaid expansion can be crippling when states have to balance their budgets and they have pressing needs to pay for such as teachers pay and better roads and safer communities through public safety programs)

        We no longer live in a 'real-world' PAYGO (Pay-As-You-Go) world when it comes to government spending.

        We are now cavorting about in the dream world of 'Don't-Pay-As-You-Pass-Along-The-Bills-To-Your-Kids' (DPATBTYK) world and digging a deeper fiscal hole for them with each passing day.

        There. Doesn't that make you feel better about things already?

        Read the links to the 2 stories about Medicaid noted in the article above to discover how the ACA has also resulted in fewer people being enrolled in the now far more expensive private health plans for companies or individual plans.

        If they are still in them, that is.

        The ACA is going to have to be HR1 when the next Congress convenes and we are going to need a President who will sit down with leaders from both the House and the Senate to be realistic about the failures of Obamacare and work to fix all of the problems it has caused this country.

        *from Weekly Standard

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        Wednesday, April 6, 2016

        Socialism vs Capitalism: What Works Best?

        'I guess to make a broader point, so often in the past there’s been a sharp division between left and right, between capitalist and communist or socialist. And especially in the Americas, that’s been a big debate, right? Oh, you know, you’re a capitalist Yankee dog, and oh, you know, you’re some crazy communist that’s going to take away everybody’s property. And I mean, those are interesting intellectual arguments, but I think for your generation, you should be practical and just choose from what works. You don’t have to worry about whether it neatly fits into socialist theory or capitalist theory — you should just decide what works.'
        President Obama was speaking to a group of Argentinian young leaders after his trip to Cuba (where 'socialism' has worked so well (sic) that Cuba is still mired in the 1950's, not the 21st century) when he essentially said there is no substantive difference between socialism and capitalism so 'you young people of Argentina should just pick and choose what works' between the two and 'roll with it' in essence.

        Enid, The Church Lady
        Well, as The Church Lady would say: 'Isn't that special?'   

        That would be all well and good if capitalism and socialism started out with the same moral equivalence and ended up with the same results over history.

        They haven't. For the most part.

        Take a look at recent quotes from Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov recently:
        'Capitalism is the greatest destroyer of poverty in world history and socialism its greatest creator, rivaling war'
        'Socialism, where everything is free except you!'
        'I'm enjoying the irony of American Sanders supporters lecturing me, a former Soviet citizen, on the glories of Socialism and what it really means! 
        Socialism sounds great in speech soundbites and on Facebook, but please keep it there.
        In practice, it corrodes not only the economy but the human spirit itself, and the ambition and achievement that made modern capitalism possible and brought billions of people out of poverty
        Talking about Socialism is a huge luxury, a luxury that was paid for by the successes of capitalism.
        Income inequality is a huge problem, absolutely. But the idea that the solution is more government, more regulation, more debt, and less risk is dangerously absurd'

        As with most anything in life, 'talking about' something is usually far different from 'living' or 'actually experiencing' that something, isn't it?

        Why would Garry Kasparov know more about the dangers and spirit-sapping emulsification of socialism than, say, President Barack Obama of the United States of America?

        Because he lived under the iron rule of the former Soviet Union for 28 years of his life before witnessing the fall of communist rule in Moscow in 1991, which started with the enhanced defense posture of President Ronald Reagan in 1981, resulting in the freedom of millions of Russians and other ethnic citizens from central heavy-handed, non-creative, oppressive,rule.

        Kasparov was fortunate; he survived. 60 million to 100 million people were murdered under the Stalinist regime all in the name of making the Soviet Union 'safe' for communism.

        No western political leader such as President Obama or Democratic presidential candidate such as Bernie Sanders could ever hope to understand the vast differences between socialism and capitalism until and unless, of course, either of them actually was forced to live under such oppressive regimes as did Mr. Kasparov.

        Then both would most likely be singing an entirely different tune.

        Granted, America has adopted some federal programs that are ‘socialist’ in nature. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are the most prominent federal programs in America that are designed to be a 'shock absorber' of sorts when it comes to providing a social safety net that is designed to be more of a trampoline than a hammock goes the old analogy.

        As Kasparov points out, however, even these are paid for by capitalism in one form or another. We make money and pay taxes so these social welfare programs can be funded. Or at least paid for by borrowing with the promise of repayment from taxes paid in the future.

        Don’t make the mistake of equating the freedom of capitalism with the spirit-sapping nature of socialism as Garry Kasparov pointed out.

        The upcoming election is more than just choosing between personalities or political parties. The fall election is about whether America continues down the path towards more socialism as espoused by President Obama for the past 7 years or whether we head back towards free enterprise capitalism so eloquently advocated by President Ronald Reagan during his 8 years in office.

        New jobs net of population growth soared under President Reagan. Not so under President Obama’s two terms as you can see from the following chart.

        You get to choose which outcome you want for the next 8 years. Choose wisely.

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