Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Budget Nightmare

As an update to this post, I ran across another chart which details projections based on the Obama budget:
America faces tons of problems right now, some of which are George W. Bush's fault, but most of which result directly from criminal actions of Congressional Democrats like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. The core of the problems result from too much debt. How on earth can more debt solve problems caused by excessive debt?

Update 1: More charts are here.

UPDATE 2: Check this out:

The best line is: "You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Stealing Elections - Revisited

I have previously worried about illegitimate election results, but this gets worse as time goes by. Now it comes out that Obama's old friends at ACORN will be helping recruit people to conduct the 2010 Census. No conflict of interest there. Oh, wait.

Here are some problems I see with that:
  • Political control of the Census will corrupt the results.
  • ACORN is already heavily invested in voter fraud and Census fraud makes the job easier.
  • Fake residents will be created, inflating the population of an area with high concentrations of Democrat voters. This will mean Democrat voters can be spread over more congressional districts making a Republican comeback more difficult.
  • Opposing ideas will be unable to rise to the surface because of insurmountable (illegitimate) majorities in Congress.
Barack Obama's margin of victory in the general election was large enough that voter fraud didn't play a deciding factor in his victory. But his fundraising irregularities may have given him the advantage over Hillary in the primaries.

I have no problem with elections where the guy I didn't like legitimately gets more votes than my guy. I will just try to support a better candidate next time around and hash out the best solutions possible in the arena of ideas in the interim. But I greatly fear a few years down the road when some sleazy candidate is foisted on the public by fraud. There will be no bounds to the harm they could do to the country.

Monday, March 16, 2009

We Get It Wrong Too Often

I was reading another friend's blog and he had a link to this fantastic talk from Mike Rowe, the Dirty Jobs guy.

This got me thinking about my calling at Church. I am the Elders Quorum employment guy. I am supposed to help people find jobs. Which is weird, because I have never looked for one. I have either started my own business or worked with my dad.

In that talk, Mike Rowe mentions that trade schools - for plumbers, electricians, welders, carpenters, etc. - have had dwindling enrollment for years. But I would bet that law schools, MBA programs (like the one I just finished), and other things like that have had more graduates each year for a long time. Mike says we have declared war on work. And he is right.

Last fall, I was at a Steven R. Covey speech for the DFW Chapter of the BYU Management Society. He said something I have never forgotten:
Retirement is an apostate principle invented by Satan.
Said another way, whoever doesn't work is dead. And all kinds of work need to be glorified, not just the glamorous stuff.

There are a lot of smart, educated people in my ward, and I only know of one who is training to be a plumber. The thing is, he may have made a shrewd decision. The infrastructure in this country is in bad shape in a lot of ways. His skills will still be in demand long after those of us with more education have had to switch careers fifteen different times.

In the 1930s, the Church Welfare Program was instituted:
to set up, insofar as possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of the dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift, and self-respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as a ruling principle in the lives of our Church membership.” (Conference Report, October 1936, p. 3; see link here.)
This is partially a self-indictment, but everyone today wants to be a big wig; they want to be CEOs, big lawyers, or have political power so they can be rich and famous and then they won't have to work. CEOs, lawyers, and politicians have a role, but it is secondary. They (we) need to have a broader view of what their self interest is.

Joseph Smith put it (approximately) this way:
Self-aggrandizement is a true principle. But it can only be exercised on one plan or principle: that you seek to lift others first.
If today's cultural vanguard in business, politics, or the media acted on that principle, they would be far more wealthy than they are now.

(Cross-posted at my other blog.)

Is There A Difference Between Republican and Democrat Presidents?

I was reading a friend's blog and he made the argument that the national debt goes up under Republicans and decreases under Democrats. He also notes that the raw debt numbers are not as informative as a comparison of debt to GDP would be. Well, I ran across that chart today and thought I would post it:
This chart tells more of the story. Newt Gingrich's Contract With America brought down the deficit under the Clinton years, making his budgets pretty successful and George W. Bush is not the bogeyman the Left makes him out to be. Bush responded to the 2001 recession with some deficit spending and then by 2006 was bringing it back down as a percentage of GDP. Only the financial meltdown brought the deficit back up.

Now Barack Obama has dwarfed anything Bush ever did. And it only took him two months. Bush's people consulted with Obama's people in the bailouts, so Bush doesn't bear complete blame for that debacle. As the article above points out:
In 2010, Obama envisions a reduction in the deficit to $1.17 trillion. He also assumes a 3.4 percent increase in GDP between 2009 and 2010, which would mean that the deficit as a share of GDP would decline to 8 percent. That's a very optimistic forecast that actually weakens the foundation of the budget document itself.
There is nothing new or responsible about Obama's budget.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Just For A Smile

I saw a shirt from ThoseShirts.com, and thought I would share it:

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Real Stimulus, cont'd

A friend responded to this post by saying:
there's only two ways out of this: kick start spending (the gov't is the only one with deep enough pockets to do that now) or drastically revalue assets. if we did the latter, almost every bank in america would fail.
I wanted to respond here and elaborate so my thoughts didn't get lost in the comments section.

The government is the only single payer with deep enough pockets, but that is the problem. I don't want one payer. I want 150,000,000 individual wage earners out there spending money. 70% of the economy is private individuals spending money. Isn't it better to give more power to the 70% than the 30%?

Having a FICA holiday for a year is the fastest and cheapest way to kick start the economy. I would get more than $700 a month to spend, save, or invest.

And the other thing is that there is tons of cash out there in the economy. No one is willing to spend it until the government has one plan and sticks to it.

As long as there is massive uncertainty about what Geithner and Obama will do (it's not like they even know what they are doing - every time either one opens their mouth about the economy the Dow Jones loses 300 points) everyone with cash is going to sit on it.

Just imagine if people making more money than me are behind on their mortgage and they get to keep more of their wages. They will catch up on their mortgage. Those who have no debt will be free to save or invest as they see fit.

That is the only fair and just way to do this. Otherwise, the wise stewards are bailing out the unwise steward and we just dig a deeper hole. Nobody wants to pay someone else's mortgage.

Real Stimulus

The more I read about Obama and his spending, the more hopeless I am about the future of economic growth in this country. I had a real estate class last semester and one guest speaker said he would work through the first part of the year until he reached the 70% tax bracket. Once he got there, he would sit around all day and play cards.

He said, "I am not going to work for a 30 cent dollar." If Obama keeps up his spending, we will be back there soon. I will go fishing before I work for a 50 cent dollar. Economic growth will only come when the most productive have a reason to work their tails off all year. And I don't want to be lectured by Joe Biden that it's my patriotic duty to pay more taxes.

The biggest problem with Obama's spending is that it will never go away. Bureaucracy is the only thing humans have ever created that borders in immortality.

The government's appetite for our money is insatiable. The worst parts of Obama's spending is that most will be spent after the recession is over and that none of it will stimulate job growth.

It has become clear that the cheapest and most temporary way to stimulate the economy would have been to collect no FICA taxes this year.

If there were no FICA withholdings from any American worker this year, they would automatically stimulate the economy. They would save, pay off debt, pay for their mortgages, and go out and buy new stuff.

I have already had over $1500 of my money withheld. Which means my employer has paid another $1500 to the federal government. That $3000 is most of a month of my salary. If construction slows down too much in Texas, that is the difference between keeping my job and getting fired.

Jonah Goldberg has this analogy for the "savings" in Obama's dishonest budget:
Try this with your boss sometime. First, go buy a Mercedes on the company credit card. Then tell him that you saved money because you were planning on buying a Lear Jet — two years after your mandatory retirement age. Then ask him for an attaboy, or even a raise. See what he says. I dare you.
Read Goldberg's whole article.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Tax the Rich?

Just as a matter of practicality, not raising taxes for someone making under $250,000 isn't really fair. In the places I am willing to live, that kind of money makes for an amazing lifestyle. In parts of California, New York, and Massachusetts, $250,000 is as bad as living below the poverty line. Cost of living determines everything.

Those who are rich as Obama defines it will flee states with high taxes. California, the state we are all supposed to emulate because of its progressive environmental standards and high government regulations, leads the nation in tax paying households leaving for other states. Same thing for Europe. I look at their economy for the past decade and can't understand why we want to copy them.

I have lost half of my IRA. Luckily I was in school and haven't put much in yet, but that is staggering. I have met people who have had to un-retire because they don't have enough savings anymore. And yet, with all this need out there, Obama only cares to advance his agenda - the same things he would have done if the economy were rip-roaring.

The thing about this recession is that it has people clamoring for something to be done. And something should be done, but this bailout stuff is the opposite of help.