Friday, January 29, 2010

Capitol Hill: 'The Graveyard of the Atlantic' for Budget Commissions

There were so many shipwrecks off the coast of North Carolina at Cape Hatteras that the area became known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic'.  Pretty gruesome title for such a beautiful coast.

In a similar vein of thought, President Obama's recent pronouncement calling for another 'commission' by executive order to study what is wrong with our federal budget and report back to him and Congress about what can be done to get us out of this mess should be received by a national collective groan and a scream of "Oh, no!  Not another one of those!  Please!"

It is a dumb idea whose time has come and gone.  Like 18 times since 1975.  All great ideas, all great people, (of course, we thought we were on the greatest one in 1994), all great commissions.  All shipwrecked once they crossed the Potomac and sunk to the bottom of the Reflecting Pool in front of the Capitol, never to be seen again.

Commissions on budgets and entitlements are a complete political dodge by those in power.  They are almost as cowardly as passing along this enormous debt to our children and grandchildren.

We already have a 'commission' to study and make decisions on changing federal spending and we call that thing the "U.S. Congress"!  And it is the ONLY Constitutionally-established body in this country that has the authority to make decisions on our behalf to raise taxes and make spending decisions for our Republic on an annual basis.

Let's take a brief run down memory lane.  See if you can check off which ones made any dent at all at the inexorable rise in federal spending, mostly in the entitlement program area: (please read any and all of them...they say the same thing)

1. Consultant Panel on Social Security, 1975-1976

2. The National Commission on Social Security, 1977-1981

3. National Commission on Social Security Reform
    (Greenspan Commission), 1981-1983

4. President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control
    (Grace Commission), 1982-1984

5. President's Commission on Privatization, 1987-1988's_Commission_on_Privatization

6.  National Economic Commission, 1987-1989

7.  Bipartisan Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform 
     (Kerrey-Danforth Commission), 1993-1995

8.  Advisory Council on Social Security, 1994-1996

9. Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Building a Better Future: 
    The Graying of America Project, 1997

10. President's Commission to Study Capital Budgeting, 1997-1999

11. The 21st Century Retirement Security Plan: 
      The National Commission on Retirement Policy Final Report
      Center for Strategic and International Studies
      (Gregg-Breaux / Kolbe-Stenholm Commission), 1998-1999

12. National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare 
      (Breaux-Thomas Commission) 1998-1999

13. U.S. Trade Deficit Review Commission, 1998-2000

14.  President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security, 2001 

15.  President's Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform, 2005

16.  Committee for Economic Development, The Emerging Budget Crisis: 
       Urgent Fiscal Choices, 2005

17.  Pew-Peterson Commission on Budget Reform, Red Ink Rising: 
       A Call to Action to Stem the Mounting Federal Debt, 2009

18. Committee on the Fiscal Future of the United States; 
      National Research Council and the National Academy of Public Administration, 2010

So here we are almost 36 years later after first budget commission, which was, of course, on Social Security, and Congress just raised the debt ceiling to $14.9 trillion this past week.  So how are these commissions working out for you?

Here is the only way to ever slay this dragon.  We have to have hundreds, if not thousands of Boomers and post-Boomers run for political office and advocate the proposals outlined in these reports and level with the America people.  We have to introduce each of these proposals from every one of these commissions, line-by-line, on the campaign trail first and then on the floor of Congress for an up-or-down vote on C-SPAN for all the world to see.  

Anti-slavery proponents did not hide behind the veil of a 'bipartisan commission' in England or America in the 19th century.  Brave souls such as William Wilberforce talked openly and with conviction about abolishing the slave trade and slavery itself in the broad daylight, ran on a platform to do so and worked within Parliament to achieve that noble end.

And the message to the American people today, especially those under the age of 60 since you are the ones who have to pay for this and live with the changes in the entitlement programs, is this:

If you don't ask and allow your elected representative to pass these much-needed and long-overdue changes to be made to Medicare and Social Security, the only option left is to raise your annual income taxes by at least $5000 per person and keep it that high for the rest of your lives.

Cause if we don't make one of those two decisions, either reform/reduce entitlement spending or raise your taxes, we are going to saddle our kids with an unconscionable debt that we can not continue to allow to happen.

Passing these changes to our entitlement programs is the right thing to do. Passing along more debt is the cowardly thing to do.

What do you want to do?

(commission listing from the excellent Andrew Biggs blogsite:
(poster from Graveyard of the Atlantic website, Cape Hatteras, NC)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hip-Hip-Hooray for President Obama!

See! We told you we would salute him when he has ‘done good!’

The President of the United States just called for a spending freeze on federal discretionary spending in the upcoming budget request for FY 2011 in his State of the Union address tonight.

On top of that, he proposed bringing back the only budget tool that has ever worked to curtail overall spending by the federal government, the PAYGO (pay-as-you-go) budget mechanism. (more on PAYGO in a future posting)

To that we add a hearty: “Way to go, Mr. President!”

With an addendum: “It is about darned time!”

(And a caveat: We don't think this 'one small step for mankind' will qualify Mr. Obama for a Nobel Prize in 'Budget Balancing' anytime soon.

And Deep-Six the budget commission executive order; that is a dumb idea since we already know from hundreds of previous commissions what the problems are (entitlements) and Congress is our only duly-elected, Constitutionally-established 'budget commission' in the first place)

His brief comments on budget discipline made us think about the walk-on basketball player from a small college who gets into the final seconds of a game against Duke or Carolina and makes a free throw. Even though they are down by 95 points.

But the crowd still goes wild! Both sides.

Why is that? It is because every fan wants that average guy who has been working hard every day at practice for 4 years to hit a free throw and get his name up on the scoreboard and into the record books. Forever.

Same tonight with President Obama. After last year when it seemed as if he, his advisors and the current leaders of Congress could not find the ‘off’ switch (they didn't) when it came to spending more of your money on everything and anything and borrowing trillions from the Chinese, we are glad to see that he has finally hit a free throw.

Even though we are down 12 trillion points (in national debt dollars) heading towards a colossal blowout of 20 trillion if we don’t watch out, that one free throw makes it a little more 'respectable'.

Ok, so let’s take a closer look at this 'budget freeze' proposal:

  1. The 'freeze' is on discretionary budget items only.
  2. It only affects less than 1/6th of the budget.
  3. It will save ‘only’ $15 billion in the first year, the naysayers say. (Hey! What is wrong with saving $15 billion of your tax money anywhere nowadays!?)
  4. Everything else is ‘off-limits’…for now at least. (Everything needs to be ‘on-limits’, if that can be a word)
  5. Defense, Homeland Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Interest on the National Debt, the ‘Six Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ in budgetary terms, are not included....for now. (They will have to be if we are ever going to balance the budgets in your lifetime as if you need to be reminded once again)
  6. It will save between $100-$250 billion over the next decade depending on your point of view and economic forecasts and projections.
  7. Everyone will scream bloody murder and wave the bloody shirt: “How dare you slice and dice the education/environmental protection/justice/welfare (fill in the blank, take your pick) program like the Slap Chop hawked by that crazy guy on TV! What are you trying to do, make us a third world country?”

If we don’t control our spending and bring it back into some sort of balance with what the American people are willing to pay in taxes (18% of GDP is about their limit and average based on the past 40 years), then we are well on our way to becoming a banana republic, with all due respect to the banana republics of the world.

Of course, none of this will happen if Congress doesn't pass even this teeny-tiny effort at restoring some sense of fiscal sanity in Washington. Here’s the real deal on anything budget-related, folks: The President of the United States is MR. IRRELEVANT* when it comes to passing anything in the federal budget. He can’t even sign or veto his own budget submission to Congress, for goodness sakes!

Due to the ominous-sounding Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, the President and OMB are asked to formulate annual budgets because it was a lot easier to do it over there at the White House than with 535 would-be, wannabe presidents in Congress and their staffs trying to do it each year.

After the annual budget is submitted, Congress can kick it into the dustbin of history if they want to…but they don’t. They usually fight over, let’s say, oh, maybe about 2% of the budget priorities in a good year and between 5-10% in a bad year. That would mean all this fussing and fighting that goes on every year is over between $150-$300 billion nowadays, peanuts when compared to the gargantuan $3.6 trillion federal budget of today.

The President is an 'influencer', the only person elected by the entire country and as a result, he has the bully pulpit to use anytime he wants to shape public opinion. Even the smallest whisper of 'fiscal restraint' in this tiny budget freeze request is a heckuva lot better than anything we have heard in Washington since 2000. And we all know the White House and Congress was controlled by President George Bush and the Republicans until 2007.

So President Obama gets credit for being the first leader in Washington to say the word 'freeze' at least in close to a decade. Hear, hear!

One side will carp and say this budget freeze is a ‘draconian’ budget cut that will devastate western civilization as we know it. Others on the right will say this is just for show and doesn’t mean anything.

But 80% of people in the middle want both sides in Congress to 'just shut their yappers' as Chris Farley used to say, lock themselves in Congress for a couple of months, balance these budgets, stop borrowing all this money and go home. 

(Does the concept of a Senator-elect named 'Scott Brown' from the Great Commonwealth of Massachusetts mean anything to anyone in Washington for goodness sakes?)

Balancing our national spending with our current willingness to pay for them through taxes on us now currently-living souls (not our defenseless children and grandkids) is all about 'sustainability' and 'good stewardship' really, isn't it?

That is what the American people are clamoring for..that plus some statesmen-like leadership.  

*''Mr. Irrelevant' is the last football player chosen in the annual NFL Draft. Sometimes, he makes the team and has a decent career. But most of the time, he is 'ignored' and cut from the squad after a few tryouts.

Rick Barry picture courtesy of

Monday, January 25, 2010

What’s Next for “Health Care Reform”?

Last week’s stunning turn of events in the Senate election in Massachusetts should have been a Hollywood movie. No one would have ever made it though because it was so inconceivable that a Republican could have won the seat previously held by a Kennedy for 54 of the previous 56 years.

Our favorite pronouncement by the pundits and Chatty-Cathy bobbing-heads on cable television shows was that somehow, someway, this one election spells the ‘doom of ever having health care reform pass Congress in our lifetimes!’

Cue the “Apocalypse Now” theme music….

Nothing could be further from the truth, ladies and gentlemen. What Senator-elect Scott Brown’s ‘Miracle in Massachusetts’ means is that this particular ‘version’ of health care reform is most likely doomed from ever passing in total. And with good reason…the more the American public learned about the outrageous cost and expansion of federal government power into their health care decisions, the less they liked the whole idea.

Only 36% of the American public has a favorable impression of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid bill. 42% of Americans believe in UFOs. Apparently space aliens are more popular with the American people than this particular health care reform bill.

The President was quoted as saying: ‘Once we pass this bill, we can explain it to the American people and then they will like it!”

Huh? What? Excuse me? We thought that was what free, open and transparent public debate on the floor of Congress as televised by C-SPAN before passage of the bill was supposed to do. Oh well….

And when you throw in the extremely unfair special deals cut for Senators Landrieu (The Second ‘Louisiana Purchase’); Nelson (“The Free Medicaid for Nebraska Act”) and the special deal cut for labor unions to enjoy high-coverage ‘Cadillac’ health plans while non-union workers got shafted, then there is no wonder why the American people got so fed up with this bill.

It sounded and smelled so much like ‘business as usual’ in government…except this time in Chicago gangster-style fashion.

For reasons too numerous to mention here, health care reform will not pass under the so-called budget reconciliation route (read this fine explanation from a former Senate Budget Committee expert Keith Hennessey...if you dare). Unless you have ever seen such a reconciliation beast constructed and then ground like sausage through a hog rendering plant, you would never believe just how next to impossible doing comprehensive health care reform that way can be.

It ain’t happening that way.

Can it happen if the House just passed the Senate version? Sure, except Speaker Pelosi has already said she can not get the votes in the House to do so. The House is about as different and divided from the Senate as Democrats are from Republicans, which is not unusual in Washington.

However, make absolutely zero mistake about this: Some form of meaningful health care reform has GOT to happen or else. In the next 15-20 years, every available tax dollar sent to Washington in the form of income, (personal and corporate), payroll, excise, and estate taxes will be spent on 4 mandatory programs: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest on the national debt.

So how could health care reform happen?

It could happen just like any other major piece of legislation has ever passed the US Congress. It could start at the center and branch out to garner the votes of center-to-left and center-to-right Members and Senators who are willing to negotiate and compromise to get something done for the best interests of their nation. Not their political party or favorite special interest.

You know, sort of like they did in Philadelphia way back in 1787 when those guys ‘compromised’, (yes, ‘compromise’ and ‘negotiate’ were not ‘four-letter words’ back then) and brought forth a new nation and all that.

One question that intrigued us when we spoke with old friends on the Republican side of the aisle in Washington about the progress of the health care bill over the past year was this: “What would your boss do if comprehensive tort reform was plunked down on top of this Obamacare bill, just like they already have in the Great State of California?”

There was a lot of stammering and stuttering before finally saying: “Well, we don’t have to worry about it because the Democrats won’t even talk to us!”

But what if they did? What if every side of this argument could get exactly what they wanted in terms of say 3 out of their top 10 priorities but have to swallow 3 out of the other sides’ top 10 priorities?

One definition of a ‘good piece of legislation' used to be where you were ‘mostly happy’ about what you got but every side got poked in the eye on some issue of importance to them. No one was 100% happy and no one was 100% completely unhappy…more like 60-40 on most fronts.

And you live to fight again next year, maybe with a different Congress or President, depending on how the people respond, react and then vote in the next election.

Could health care reform happen now in the aftermath of the Massachusetts Senate election? Yes, it could. But Obama advisors are signaling a charge further to the left. So where is the compromising olive branch when we need it most?

Will health care reform happen? One Democratic Congressmen, Anthony Weiner of New York, said indelicately the day after Scott Brown won in Massachusetts: “Yea, when pigs fly out of my (rear end)!”

So we don't know if that is a definite 'yes' or a 'no'.  You never know with this current crowd in might have happened with some of them before.

'Flying Pig' courtesy of

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Has Happened to All of the ‘Anti-Establishment’ Boomers We Knew Growing Up?

“What the heck happened to the Boomer Generation I used to know? Where's the spirit? Where's the guts, huh? These could be the greatest times of our lives, but you're gonna let it be the worst.”

With similar, less family-friendly words like these, John Belushi as Bluto in ‘Animal House’ became a ‘true leader’ and led his fraternity brothers on 'a really futile and stupid gesture'…and wound up becoming U.S. Senator John Blutarsky, if you will remember.

Scott Brown's election to the U.S. Senate last night to represent the Commonwealth of Massachusetts makes us wonder if the Boomers are now returning to their roots of 'anti-bigness'...or is this just one 'really futile and stupid gesture on someone's part'?

We think his election reflects a basic fundamental shift going on in the population towards independent voting, a growing rejection of 'big' political parties and a general attitude of social libertarianism and very strong fiscal conservatism that defies any current political labels.

We have been wondering how the same generation of Boomers that grew up in the rebellious '60's and early '70s hating everything 'big' such as Big Business/ Big Government, could now be entirely comfortable with the Federal Government running every aspect of our health care system and passing more and more bills to make the federal government even ‘bigger’ than it already is!

Has anyone been to the DMV or Post Office lately? The U.S. Federal Government is as 'Big and Bad' as they come in terms of size, inefficiency and cost since the beginning of time or at least the Roman Empire.

We worked in and around the federal government for a couple of decades and we can promise you that if anything happened quickly, like in less than a year, with 100% exact predicted results and way under-budget, we did not see it. Ever.

We wonder: “What the heck did ever happen to the generation of Boomer Americans that grew up with such a massive distrust of “The Establishment’ and the “The Man”?”

We thought we were going to be the Golden Age Generation that was going to do things way differently than our parents (God Forbid!) and in a way that empowered every single person’s soul, didn’t we? We were supposed to “teach the world to sing in perfect harmony’ and all that…or are you having trouble remembering?

For a generation that grew up with such idealism and hope, when, what, how and why did we start believing that “Big Anything!” was a ‘good idea’?

Didn’t we see a lot of “Question Authority” bumper stickers (remember those?) back then on our Pintos and Ford Falcons? Was there anything that was big, powerful, or represented a concentration of control over something or somebody else that we didn’t just feel like was ‘wrong’ in our guts and hearts?

Let’s think back to that time and how we all were taught and thought ‘big’ was ‘bad’:

-The Vietnam War was caused by the ‘big’ bad old ‘military-industrial complex’ controlled by the federal government and expansionist American policies under President LBJ.

-ITT and Textron were two negative examples of ‘bad’ ‘multi-national corporations’ that were far more interested in profit than doing the right thing.

-“Big” government fostered ‘police brutality’ and ‘illegal wars’ overseas such as the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile.

“Nothing good will ever came out of anything ‘big’”, or so we were told and thought in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s.

What the heck happened to our ‘revolutionary spirit’ between the 1970’s and now? What evidence have we seen or heard that makes anyone believe big institutions or big governments actually work better and more efficiently than smaller, decentralized units?

We broke away from the King of England because, supposedly, we didn’t like being part of their massive Empire, much less paying for it with unfair taxation policies, didn’t we?

Do we really want the United States of America to have such massive federal and state governments now 220 years later?  Senator Scott Brown replacing Ted Kennedy last night seems to be about as direct of a statement by the voters that they have had enough and are taking things back into their own hands.

This is not an isolated single 'senseless and futile act' by a bunch of rabble-rousers and angry Tea Party people.  Watch and see.  'Something is happening here...what it is ain't exactly clear'...yet.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

“Get On Your Knees and Pray ‘We Won’t Get Fooled Again!’”

Have you ever read or come close to understanding what The Who was saying in the lyrics to this great anthem of revolution from the ‘60s?  The lyrics were ‘radical’ for their times and perhaps even more so today. (see below)

Who would have ever believed 'The Who' would be so prescient in their analysis of political theory and cycles? "There's nothing in the street....Looks any different to me...And the slogans are out-phased, by-the-bye"

Wow. How did they know that all the debt built up during the W Administration was just going to get so much bigger under the Obama Administration?

Maybe they didn’t know what they were saying since the music was so good. Or the stadium was filled up with so much blue haze from all the marijuana being smoked and passed around…..

The reason why we are bringing this up is because of a conversation we had recently with a true blue liberal from the ‘radical’ ‘60’s…and who has stayed true to her utopian beliefs of peace and love for everyone from that time to the present.

Good for her, we say.  It is better to have some core principles and stick to them instead of having none at all and only want to ‘be in power’ just to make decisions for the rest of us.

But she said something else that really cut us to the bone: “Teach me about what is going on in the federal budget.  I have no way of knowing what is really going on in there’.

What would happen if all of the anger and angst of Disaffected Progressives and Disgruntled Conservatives we hear a lot from lately and the general “We Hate Them All!” attitude of the Tea Party people could be combined under some new umbrella to get something done? Instead of just yell about it?

Now that would be 'radical' indeed.

And no, being the ‘Radical’ Party does not mean what you think it means right off the bat.  We are not completely off our rocker by this time teetering into old(er) age advocating violence like the Weathermen Underground or the Symbionese Liberation Army. (what did those guys really want anyway, besides Patty Hearst, that is?)

The term “radical’ really means ‘at the root’ coming from its Latin derivations.  That is why that thing in the square root symbol in math is called a ‘radical’…it means getting back to the root of that number.

Jesus was a ‘radical’ in his time; can you simply imagine what a shock it was to the prevailing wisdom of the day in a small outpost in the Roman Empire (or come to think of it, today in 2010) to have anyone suggest that we should give all of our possessions to others and turn the other cheek when we are wronged?  Our modern American first inclination is to call our lawyer to find some loophole to get out of The 10 Commandments, not obey them without question.

Mahatma Gandhi was a ‘radical’ for promoting ‘peaceful civil disobedience’ and Martin Luther King was a ‘radical’ for adopting that strategy for the civil rights movement.

Thomas Jefferson was probably the ultimate ‘radical’ in American politics. He said on more than one occasion that ‘a little rebellion every now and then is a good thing.’

Well, he might have wanted to stick around for the one coming up right now…it could be a doozy for the next decade or so.  (One election cycle does not a revolution make:  it took at least 5 cycles to get the GOP established as a major political party out of the rib of the old Whig Party)

We, as a nation, have got to get back to some ‘radical’ first principles of civil self-government.  Like defending our borders and getting our expenses and tax revenues into some order and balance.  If we don’t, we run the risk of letting our national debt get completely out-of-hand and we don’t even want to speculate about what could happen then.

Always remember this in this congressional election cycle year:  Our U.S. government is not something that ‘someone else controls.’  “We” control it each and every election we vote, or decide not to vote, in.

We can change every single congressional representative and 1/3 of the U.S. Senators every other year.  And the President every 4 years.

But we need to come to some consensus about what we all want as a nation so these new elected representatives will have some sort of ‘mandate’ to enact into legislation.  We can no longer afford to elect people based solely on the simple-minded platform of: “I Am NOT Him (or Her)!”  We have to make it very clear what we want done before the campaigning starts and expect the newly-elected Congress to do, not to make up something after the fact under some innocuous banner like "Change is Coming!" or "America First!".

We are smarter than that as a nation....aren't we?  (Please say a hearty affirmative "Yes!"over your coffee this morning)

Electoral revolutions are a remarkably wonderful and efficient way to ‘refresh’ the Republic regularly to keep it modern and not allow it to get stuck in the mud based on past Congresses and legislation that was enacted under far different circumstances than exist today.

The only thing we ask of you is that "We Won't Get Fooled Again!” by any political party ever again.  They think you are stupid and not able to think for yourself which is why we are going to keep providing you with information that you might not otherwise get from the media or either of the two major parties. You can then make your own decisions on what is right and what it wrong.

We know that is ‘radical’ but we think you can do it.  Cause we have to. This year, 2010 and in 2012 again and every other year thereafter.

‘Then we'll get on our knees and pray….We don't get fooled again!’


We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals when they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again

The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the foe, that's all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
'Cause the banners, they'd all flown in the last war

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
No, no!

I'll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky
For I know that the hypnotized never lie
Do ya?


There's nothing in the street
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are out-phased, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Is now parting on the right
And their beards have all grown longer overnight

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again
No, no!


Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Who Has Created More Jobs: Bill Gates or the Federal Government?

There is a pretty important and somewhat disturbing trend going on out there on college campuses that we wanted to bring to your attention.

According to a well-placed source of ours, (i.e. someone who really knows what they are talking about), 36% of American college students believe socialism is a better form of government than one based on free market capitalism.

Well, we are about to find out if that hypothesis is true or not, now aren’t we? Either we believe the private sector is going to absorb all these new graduates this spring or we believe the government is supposed to try to create jobs for them. Which do you believe works best?

Here is a Jeopardy question to you college kids: “Who has created more jobs for the American worker…Bill Gates by his lonesome self (along with his team of Mensas, of course,) or the recent Obama economic ‘stimulus’ (sic, really?) plan?

According to the official Microsoft website, there are currently just under 90,000 people employed directly by Microsoft, meaning drawing a paycheck and getting health care insurance mostly funded by the corporation, for now at least.

According to Survey Watch, only 140,000 new jobs have been created in the private sector since the passage of the $780 billion Stimulus Bill last spring. The rest were public sector jobs such as teachers and public safety officers that were not created but ‘saved’ from oblivion (meaning states got federal money to pay for them since states were so strapped for cash).

Wait a minute! You mean that Bill Gates all by his lonesome is now employing at Microsoft 60% as many people as the whole stimulus package supposedly created in 2009 for the entire country?

Let’s take a deeper look at this.  Since Microsoft was incorporated in 1981, how many people have worked directly at Microsoft proper? Let’s just say an average of 50,000 people per year were employees of Microsoft over the past 30 years. (Hard to believe that company has only been around 30 years, isn’t it?)

Some, if not many, people have worked there for the bulk of those 30 years. We would assume the turnover is relatively low because it is such a great company to work for, they have great benefits, and for those who got in early, their stock holdings must be worth millions by now, even with this nasty recession.

So let's say 1 million people have worked at Microsoft over time, give or take 50,000 or so.

What about all of the companies that have sprung up over that time because of the ubiquitous use of Microsoft software? All of the data management companies, software applications engineers, video games, virtually all of the internet programs and processes….they all have been made possible by the creation of one company by one man who helped usher in the Information Technology Age much like the Industrialization Age of the latter part of the 19th century. According to various sources, close to 7 million jobs in America are directly in IT.

Add in all those other jobs that would not exist without Microsoft software and applications and you are now talking about tens of millions of jobs right here in the good old U.S. of A.

And all the federal government could come up with was a 'measly' 140,000 private sector jobs supposedly created with this enormous spending package?

Our point here is not to bury the federal government, nor to praise it either. We don’t believe Presidents can create jobs out of thin air; they get entirely way too much credit when the economy expands and way too much blame when the economy turns sour (except maybe Hoover who advocated exactly the wrong economic policies at precisely the wrong time and the dumb Congress at the time passed them all into law)

The federal government, or any government for that matter, can not  'create' new private sector jobs like they are some sort of soda fountain dispenser. Hard-working , risk-taking people create new jobs, not the government.  The federal government can not ‘create’ a private sector job any more than you can ‘create’ a judicial system.  The public sector does different things than the private sector and we should all be thankful for that.

The federal government actually did have a hand in developing things like Tang and Sudafed, used first by the astronauts; semiconductors, again used by NASA and the military; and the Internet, which was developed to provide communications in a post-nuclear war world should it ever come to that. DoD, NASA and DARPA used federal appropriations for research and development purposes to help keep us safe and to put a few men on the moon. However, it took the private sector and some brilliant engineers and marketing people to take all those ideas and run with them to produce products for the mass consuming public.

Shouldn’t we try to stimulate the creation of the next Microsoft by the next Bill Gates so they can create millions of new on-going jobs to get out of the nasty recession?  We are being asked to spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to build a bunch of new bridges and roads which will create jobs but they will disappear once the projects are completed.

Will the next ‘Microsoft’ come out of some government works program or someone’s brilliant mind, hard work and persistence as they fill a market need?  We think the landscape of American business and ingenuity is just teeming with new ideas to become major new businesses.  We just need to allow them the incentives to do so and get out of the way.  Today.

Something to think about….we used public infrastructure and works programs to get out of the Great Big Depression in the 1930’s but it took 10 years and didn’t really get the US out of the doldrums until WWII came along and we had full employment supporting the war effort.

We don’t think the Obama Stimulus Package ‘Part Deux’ is going to be anymore successful than the first one. We need to spark the imagination and desire of businesspeople to invest and expand their business right now.

We continue to suggest abolishing the corporate income tax code and let entrepreneurs and business risk-takers do what they do best and create more businesses and jobs, just like good old Bill Gates has done. (He is only 54, by the way, if you can believe that)

You'll be glad they did.

Bill Gates courtesy of

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

We Think America Can Handle 'The Truth'!

Colonel Nathan R. Jessep, played so convincingly by Jack Nicholson in the movie, “A Few Good Men” should run for Congress.  In 2010. Or President.  In 2012.

Why? Because apparently he would tell us the ‘truth’ as he saw it in this great confrontation scene with the effervescent Tom Cruise.

Not the usual self-protecting and self-perpetuating pap that we have always heard from almost every politician from both political parties over the last 3 decades who have promised that you will get ‘something for nothing’: “Vote for me and I will give you tax cuts, unlimited almost-free (i.e. ‘taxpayer-subsidized’) health care, cash for your clunker, an $8000 downpayment for your house and a chicken in every pot!”

When did every single American start believing in Santa Claus and then elected him to represent them in the U.S. House or Senate in Washington, DC?  We are all adults who have registered to vote in the most free country the world has ever known; just tell us what is going on and we will respond if we believe everyone is in it for the good of the nation.  We can take it.

If President 'Jessep' went on national television live from the Oval Office and told us the things we list below, we believe that you, the American public, would understand 'the truth', appreciate 'the truth' and, most importantly, respond to 'the truth' by electing fellow citizens to Congress who will make the tough decisions we have to take as a nation for the benefit of us all in the future.

Here is the ‘truth’ of the matter, as we believe President Jessep would see it based on our experiences on Capitol Hill and on the House Budget Committee, among other perches over time:

  1. We have got to get health care cost inflation down close to the normal rate of inflation in the overall economy, not triple the rate as has been the norm in the past 3 decades. If that means not passing the current health care bill or repealing entire sections of it before it is fully operational in 2014, then so be it. It just plain doesn’t pass the ‘laugh’ or ‘smell’ test that it will drive costs downward as promised by President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid.
  2. We have got to reform and reduce the rate of growth in all entitlement spending, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  (notice we don’t even say ‘cut’; just reducing the rate of growth in the baseline projections will do the trick.  We are now transferring between $12,000-$15,000 per year per senior citizen from general tax revenues to support Medicare Part B; there are now 40 million enrollees and in 2020, there will be close to 65 million do the math)
  4. Enact fundamental structural changes in all entitlement programs by addressing the structural cost-drivers and raise the eligibility age for Social Security by two months each year, match Medicare’s eligibility age with Social Security and adjust eligibility in both programs according to income. (exceptions for health and disability reasons)
  6. We believe that a far better way to stimulate our national economy is to abolish the corporate income tax code right now, forever.   Rather than spend trillions of dollars on another infrastructure 'stimulus' bill (the first doesn't seem to have worked very well, does it?), abolishing the corporate income tax would send a massive jolt through the economic system of America that would wake this economy up like one of those defibrillators you see everywhere nowadays it seems.
  7. No more bailouts of any industry or companies.  It goes completely against any notion of free enterprise and capitalism.  None of these companies willingly offer to share their profits with the federal government when things are great. (they are ‘forced’ to share profits through taxes) Why should the taxpayer of this country be asked to pay for their losses when things go bad, almost always as a result of a poor investment decision or expectation?
  8. We think every and all actions should be taken to prevent the national debt from increasing any higher than the current $12 trillion debt ceiling limit.  Even if it takes passing annual ‘continuing resolution’ bills in Congress to hold spending at last year’s levels and not passing any new authorization or appropriations bills for the next 7 years.  Congress will be then forced to nibble at the edges and take large bites out of federal spending which will inevitably be some parts of the ‘waste, fraud and abuse’ we have all been looking for for decades.
  9. If you don't want to do any spending reductions at all along these reasonable lines, then we are going to have to raise income taxes on every single person by thousands of dollars per year because passing this debt along to our kids and grandkids is immoral, unethical and wrong.  Debt is for political cowards, not political leaders.
Come to think of it, maybe Jack Nicholson can be convinced to run for President in the persona of Colonel Nathan Jessep.  (Imagine what the White House dinner parties would look like then)

We have a history of electing movie stars to the highest elective office in the land, you know.