Thursday, September 30, 2010

Political Class Insanity - September, 2010 Edition

This week I received my monthly copy of Reason magazine. Reason is a great read for anyone concerned about the dwindling amount of freedom in this country and the mostly incompetent people we have elected to oversee the affairs of our nation. On a lighter note, every issue contains a set of instances which illustrate how large, cumbersome and non-effective government has become, not only in the United States but all over the world. These instances would be funny except for the fact that these situations usually show how our tax dollars are wasted by petty and often inane government actions and many times show how government and politicians actually make life more difficult for the citizens that should have an easier life because of government policies.

The following list is from the latest edition of Reason which is then followed by more political class insanity from some different sources:
  • According to a June report from the Government Accounting Office, internal IRS computer systems which are supposed to track how much taxpayers owe the government cannot account for  a $5.1 billion difference between the money it thought it collected and the money it actually took in. The report and the associated audit found 41 different ways to clean up the IRS's internal accounting system, citing one instance where the IRS computers failed to correctly record a taxpayer's $3 million payment. The report concluded that the IRS may actually be breaking the law established in the annual government appropriations act because of their accounting problems. Makes you wonder whether these are simple computer glitches or we just found another source of government and taxpayer funds leaking out the door via fraud.
  • Not to be outdone by the IRS, the Defense Department recently announced that it could not find $9.1 billion of taxpayer money that was supposed to be used for Iraq's reconstruction. This money was from the sale of Iraqi oil and was earmarked to be used for electricity and running water projects throughout Iraq. However, according to the article, no one agency or government entity was ever specifically tasked with the responsibility of tracking the oil sale proceeds and as a result, about 96% of these sales never made it to the designated Treasury Department bank accounts.  The audit also found that the Defense Department has no clue what happened to $2.6 billion that was supposed to belong to other Iraqi government entities. The audit concluded that " the breakdown in controls left the funds vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss." You think?
  • Town officials in Clearwater, Florida are being forced to expend taxpayer money to expand a two story structure that only life guards use. The reason? The state building commission ruled that they had to make the life guard stand handicap accessible. Remind me to not go swimming in Clearwater any time soon.
  • In Michigan, a recent audit of the state's Medicaid accounting systems found that the state had made about $2 million in payments during the past two years for the care of people who were dead at the time they allegedly received medical treatment.
  • The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has banned state residents from transporting their own home made beer to a friend's house to drink since the state law says you can only drink your home brewed beer in your own home.
  • In Illinois, Jonathon Schoenakase decided to do something good for his home town after his friend was killed by a drunk driver. In 2008, he decided to offer free lifts home to people who may have had too much to drink and were not sober enough to drive themselves. Although his service was free, he began to receive donations as demand for this service, keeping drunks off of the road, expanded and he was able to add another car and a bus to this valuable service. Since the town where he offers this service does not allow taxis to operate after midnight, he was driving drunk people in the early morning hours when no taxis were available. Nevertheless, the taxi owners lobbied the local government to change some rules, forcing Schoenakase to get a taxi license. However, the Chief of Police refused to issue a license since Schoenakase is charged with leaving the scene of an accident and will go on trial in October. In the meantime, his Good Samaritan service for dunks has  been shut down and the drunks now have to get themselves home when the clubs and bars close, without taxi service and without Schoenakase. 
  • Fifteen years ago, Washington state resident Dan Wheeler had his wallet stolen. The thief was eventually arrested of a sex offense but booked under Wheeler's name off of the stolen wallet ids. That oversight landed Wheeler on the state's sex offender list, from which he is unable to extradite himself. The reason: The state officials responsible for the list are worried that the offender who stole his wallet might continue to use his id as an alias sometime in the future. Huh?
  • Whenever the state government of California is late passing its annual budget, which is about every year, the state, by law, is required to knock down every state employee's pay rate to the Federal minimum wage level until the state budget is passed. However, the state controller says that it impossible to do from a payroll system perspective because the software is too old, dating from 1970. However, independent observers report that while the controller claims the software cannot be adjusted to reduce pay rates, it has been adjusted since 1970 to handle pay raises, union dues, changes to tax withholding and other software changes. Thus, from a taxpayer perspective in California, it is impossible to reduce wages of state employees because the software is too old but it is possible to raise their wages. At this point, given that the state has not passed a budget and pay rates have not been dropped, every state employee is now being paid illegally under California law.
So let's review. Government wages can only go up, they cannot go down even if it breaks the law. Federal government accounting systems absolutely stink, resulting in billions of taxpayer dollars lost or unaccounted for every year. Do not lose your wallet or take your home made beer over to a friend's house to drink, you would become a person of criminal interest in the eyes of the political class and the governments that they run. And worse of all, do not try to be a good person and save people from themselves or the others they may hurt by driving drunk. This is what government is doing to us today and the worse part, we pay for this pettiness and incompetence.

Moving outside of the realm of Reason magazine, consider the following two instance of political class insanity:
  • It has been reported this week in various news outlets that Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman has been named by the United Nations as the ambassador for extraterrestrial life forms. Thus, if aliens from outer space ever arrive, you should bring them directly to Ms. Othman. Talk about screwed up priorities at the UN, let's not worry right now about the sad shape of Haiti, many, many months after an earthquake ddevastated the country. those tents where many of the Haitians are living right now should hold up for at least another six months or so. Let's not worry about the genocide and suffering in Dafur and the Sudan. Those people are used to starving by now. Let's not worry about the nut cases in charge in Iran getting nuclear bomb capability, they're good guys. But, lets move immediately on this appointment in case those aliens from outer space arrive soon, we need a process to handle our relations with these unknown ETs.
  • Earlier this week, four mayors from Mexican border towns met with the mayor of San Diego to discuss mutual problems their towns and cities face relative to illegal immigration and drugs. One of the outcomes from the conference was the observation from one of the Mexican mayors that the Untied States was responsible for a great deal of the violence going on in these border towns since this is where the U.S. deports illegal Mexican immigrants to. Let me get this straight: we round up violent Mexican criminals inside our borders, send them back to Mexico, and we are responsible for the violence and carnage that is currently going on in the Mexican drug cartel wars? Does he think it would be better to keep the violent and criminal illegal aliens in our cities? The statement did ask that the deportation of illegal criminals back to Mexico be done to send them to other places in Mexico, at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer, i.e. rather than busing the illegals across the border to Mexico, we should fly them back to wherever they originally came from in Mexico. It is unclear form the news reports whether we should use private planes or commercial flights to return the illegal criminals to their hometowns.
Further review: people starving and homeless have a lower priority at the United Nations than the potential for not being ready for ET's arrival. And, we are responsible for the actions of citizens in another country after we send them back for being in our country illegally? You have to love the insanity.

Unfortunately, screwed up priorities and bum accounting systems that always seem to shortchange the American taxpayer is truly the insanity that we deal with every day. Insanity that never gets around to solving real problems that real Americans face every day: unemployment, failing public schools, the failed war on drugs, high national debt, high taxes, etc.

Our new book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Leaky Boat Of Corruption Part 2

Yesterday we discussed the many forms of corruption that our political class is currently involved with or corruption they allow to happen, both domestically and overseas, with each instance of corruption wasting taxpayer dollars. As a follow up to that discussion, today reviews an Associated Press article entitled: "Promises, Promises: Pelosi Ethics Pledge Falters."

When the Democrats took control of the House Of Representatives in 2006, newly appointed Nancy Pelosi stated that she would lead "the most honest, most open, most ethical Congress in history" and that she wanted to "drain the swamp" of Congressional corruption. Part of this effort was a bill signed by President Bush called the "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act" in 2007. Parts of this bill called for disclosure of lobbyists' spending and contributions to politicians, a ban on lobbyist gifts to lawmakers, curtailment of free vacations from lobbyists, creation of an independent ethics office, and the identification of earmark sponsors.

While sounding great, the ethics bill and the push to root out corruption has fallen short, according to the AP article:
  • It appears that few in Congress are disclosing how lobbyists are helping them raise campaign cash for their re-elections even though there is a provision in the above law that requires them to do so.
  •  Even though the ethics office that was created by the above bill has found grounds for misconduct with two Democratic members of Congress, Maxine Walters and Charles Rangel, Pelosi will probably be able to delay their House trial until after the November elections. You cannot say you are fighting for good ethics if you use your power to postpone possibly embarrassing ethics violations and investigations for political gain.
  • Recent news reports show that three Democratic members of Congress awarded Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholarships to their relatives. Talk about conflict of interest and a serious ethical violation, in spirit if not law.
  • While the 2007 ethics law that Bush signed required earmarks to be identified by lawmaker, it obviously did nothing to curtail earmark creation and waste since they are close to an all time high. Earmarks are nothing more than thinly disguised ways for the political class to direct taxpayer money to entities that turn around and give some of that money back to the lawmaker for his or her re-election campaign, i.e. it is a giant kickback scheme. In essence, the shell game of having taxpayers pay for incumbents' re-election campaigns is as healthy and as destructive as ever, it is just now we know who is doing the destruction.
  • Last week a major former lobbyist, Paul Magliocchetti, pleaded guilty to funneling more than $380,000 to the re-election campaigns of three House Democrats. This $380,000 cash for incumbents cost the American taxpayer $137 million - this is the amount of defense contracts that the three Democratic Congressmen directed towards Magliocchetti's clients.
  • Beyond the above ethics violations involving money, I consider Pelosi in serious breach of ethics as leader of the House Of Representatives on many fronts. She has allowed members of her party to call American citizens, with legitimate differences of opinion with the Democrats actions and positions, racists. Pelosi herself called Americans opposed to Obama's health care plans un-American even though those Americans have a right to disagree with any politician. While she censured a Republican Congressman who called Obama a liar during a health care reform speech (even though the Republican apologized and his apology was accepted by the President), she had no problem with one of her fellow Democrats calling all Republicans "knuckle dragging Neanderthals." You cannot be considered an ethical person if you do not respect the opinions and rights of others to have those opinions. She should know better, she is a leading political figure in the country. However, her behavior in berating common citizens is unethical and repulsive.
Thus, while Pelosi is taking credit for a law that is supposed to reduce corruption, a law that was signed by a Republican President and passed with wide Republican support, the fact is it does not make any difference who was responsible. Corruption, earmarks, lobbyists' influence, conflict of interest, non-disclosure, etc. are still major corruption issues with our political class. While her boat might look better, it is just as leaky as all of the previous political class boats of corruption.

Our new book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Leaky Boat Of U.S. Political Class Corruption - Home and Away

Today's post will discuss the corruption that tends to follow our political class around, both on our domestic shores and overseas. Let's start first with a story that appeared in the September 24, 2010 issue of The Week Magazine entitled, "The Fight Against Corruption In Afghanistan." According to the article: 
  • Afghan President Hamid Karzai has recently blocked several investigations of graft in his administration.
  • There have been ongoing complaints of corruption related to members of his government including his two half brothers who are allegedly involved with drug trafficking, bribery, and smuggling cash out of the country.
  • Karzai recently freed one of his senior aides from prison who had been arrested on corruption charges.
  • A recent in-country survey in Afghanistan found that 70% of those Afghans surveyed said that their local government officials are engaged in drug trafficking.  
In return for this web of corruption and deceit from the Afghan government, the United States taxpayer pays roughly $100 billion a year and many dead American soldiers trying to get this situation right. I do not who to be more mad at, the Afghan government officials and crooks who get away with this theft or the American political class that allows them to get away with it.

Another article on foreign corruption of U.S. taxpayer money comes from a New York Times article that appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on September 26, 2010, "Corruption Gobbles Up Gifts To Children." This article reviewed a program that the U.S. political class put in place to get almost 8,100 laptop computers into the hands of Iraqi children. The computers' value was estimate to be $1.8 million. The laptops arrived in Iraq last February but were not distributed right away.

While trying to track them down, it became known that in August, 4,200 of them had been auctioned off by some Iraqis for $45,700. The location of the other 3,900 computers was unknown at that time and still unknown today. Now, the article does acknowledge that 10 government-employed customs people have been arrested int his case. However, seven months after the taxpayer funded computers landed in country, not a single on has been distributed to an Iraqi child and the location of the computers has apparently not been determined.

These are just two of the myriad of corruption instances that the American taxpayer has paid for in both war zones, Iraq and Afghanistan. And, as always, there does not appear to have been any person in the government or political class held accountable for the corruption and the waste. From $100 billion a year we waste in Afghanistan supporting a thoroughly corrupted government down to the relatively small, but symbolic loss of $1.8 million of laptop computers in Iraq, we are left with the classic political class situation: everyone is in charge but no one is accountable.

But I guess we should not be too upset that taxpayer dollars are being wasted via corruption half a world away. Consider just a handful of political class corruption examples we have faced domestically in recent years:
  • Hawaiian Senator Daniel Inuoye has been accused of using the leverage of his Senate office to coerce government regulators to bailout a distressed Hawaiian bank in which the Senator had made a significant investment, an investment that would go away if the bank was allowed to fail like the regulators wanted.
  • California Congresswoman Maxine Walters is accused of doing the same deal in order to save a bank that her husband had heavily invested in.
  • New York Congressman Charles Rangel is likely to go on trial later this year in Congress for his alleged misdealings and corruption in many areas.
  • Florida Congresswoman Ginny Waite Brown was reported by the Associated Press to have been trading stocks in financial institutions at the same time she was sitting on a House committee that would determine which financial institutions got how much government/taxpayer bailout money. For most Americans, this is called insider trading and is a felony. For political class members this is called business as usual.
  • Many of President Obama's nominees for high level government positions were found to have not paid their fair share of taxes including Tom Daschle, ex-long time Senator, and Tim Geithner, currently the Secretary of the Treasury. Again for most Americans, this type of tax evasion is at least a misdemeanor. For the political class, it sometimes feels like it is a way of life.
  • The government organization that runs Medicare is so rife with corruption and mismanagement that it wastes, loses, and misspends almost $100 billion a year in government/taxpayer funds.
  • Various Associated Press reports have reported that employees in the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Interior Department and most recently in the Defense Department (The Week - September 17, 2010) have been extensively involved, on work time and on government computers, searching and downloading pornography off of the Internet. The latest Defense Department pornography finding identified over 250 Pentagon employees and contractors, some with the highest security clearance, had viewed and purchased child pornography,sometime with their government issued computers. This form of corruption at best involves the misuse of government salaries dollars and equipment, at worst sets up users of pornography for blackmail and other forms of corruption.
And as with the corruption that wastes our foreign policy dollars, nobody (so far) of any importance has faced an consequences from these domestic acts of corruption. That is what is frustrating the American people today, we pay and pay and pay through taxes and our dead soldiers just to have these types of wasteful corruption instances thrown back in our faces.

And the sources of the corruption are never fixed. We are so afraid of losing to the Taliban in Afghanistan that our political class tolerates the corruption from Afghan officials who are more concerned with their wealth and well being then fixing their country. We prop up another government in Iraq that is so corrupt that it would deny the simplest joys to their children, the ability to have a free computer. Our politicians feast for themselves on the taxpayer dollar while comparable behavior by those same taxpayers gets them jail time. Obama passes a multi TRILLION health care plan but never fixed the leaks of corruption in the current government health care plans. Thus, we will have a bigger boat that leaks more taxpayer money quicker.

When does it end and how do we fix the leaks? Several steps from "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" might be a good start for patching the boat:
  1. Step 1 would reduce Federal spending by 10% a year for five years. If the political class has less money to spend, they are likely to waste less money also.
  2. Step 5 would make a conscious and determined effort to crack down on tax and other government fraud and waste, aggressively bringing those crooks and fraudsters to justice. This step would also include the strengthening of ethics violations of current politicians in office.
  3. Step 30 would bring home almost all of our foreign deployed troops. The world is full of corruption and criminals, why should we put them into office and then watch as they misspent our money? Using this step and a much more restrained foreign policy should reduce the Defense Department budget significantly and eliminate the type of fraud that our political class subsidizes in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.
  4. Step 34 would remove those members of Congress sitting on those committees that are responsible for the waste,corruption and fraud from their committee posts. For example, whatever House and Senate committees are responsible for those missing laptops, and the other billions and billions of taxpayer dollars that have been flushed down the Iraqi hole of corruption, should be removed from their committee posts and replaced. No more being charge but not accountable.
Until you fix the leaks in the boat, corruption will find a way in and our tax dollars will find a way out. With TRILLIONS of dollars national debts piling up, every patch is needed if you are to fix our financial situation. Hopefully, the above suggestions from "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" float your boat also.

Our new book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.
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Monday, September 27, 2010

In Politics, The More Things Change, the More They Stay The Same

Two thoughts and observations drive today's post. First, as we rapidly approach the end of the second year of the Obama administration, I thought it might be a good time to take a quick look and see if he delivered on the "change we can believe in" campaign promise. Second, an Associated Press article on September 27, 2010 reviewed the comments the President made on a recent broadcast interview on the Today Show as it related to public education in this country.

The President's thoughts included the following:
  • "The idea of a longer school year, I think, makes sense."
  • The President admitted that his daughters could not get the same quality education at a public school than what they are currently getting in a private school. He did admit that the struggling D.C schools have "made some important strides over the last several years to move in the direction of reform."
  • He said that he wants to work with teachers' unions but warned that they should not defend a status quo in which one third of U.S. children drop out of school, challenging them not to be resistant to change.
  • The President also endorsed the firing of teachers who are low performers.
 These are all great ideas .... if you are running for office. Of course longer schools years make sense. Kids would not forget as much during the summer plus, while U.S. kids go to school about 180 days a year, most of the rest of the world goes to school 10% more or about 197 days a year. While D.C. schools have made some strides recently, the American Federation Of Teachers union recently spent $1 million to help defeat the D.C. mayor who supported the changes to the status quo that resulted in those improvements. While the schools improved, the defeated mayor, Adrian Fenty oversaw the firing of 200 teachers for poor classroom results. Thus, it does  not look like the unions are on board yet with the President.

The President still talks a good show but the results leave everything to be desired. His words are good on education reform, but he has not put forth any concrete plans to improve the dismal performance of public schools in this country. He "thinks" that a longer school year makes sense but apparently has no plans to see if that assumption is true. He "wants" to work with the teachers' unions but apparently has no plan to see how the cooperation might take effect. He "endorses" the firing of low performing teachers but apparently has no plan to determine how to define what low performance is.

Bottom line, is 18 months into this administration, there is no plan afoot to fix the public school system in this country. Makes you wonder why we are paying the salaries for the Federal employees in the Education Department if there is no national plan to fix the education system. If we are still at the "I think, I want, I endorse" phase as opposed to the we will do this at this time with these resources and measure our effort this way to get to these goals, i.e. have a coherent, reality based plan underway, then nothing has really changed since Bush left office. Verdict: no change from the Bush administration.

Okay, the public education problem in this country has not resulted in change we can believe in, are there any areas where this campaign promise is true:

  1. Iraq: yes, the President did draw down the U.S. troop levels to around 50,000 troops. However, this time table was basically negotiated by Bush and the President campaigned to get all of our troops out of Iraq, not a lot of them while leaving 50,000 behind for who knows how long. Verdict: no change
  2. Patriot Act - probably one of the biggest threats to freedom in this country, the Obama administration renewed the Patriot Act earlier this year, basically unchanged from the version that was passed during the Bush administration. Plus, a September 27, 2010 Associated Press article summarized some additional actions that the current administration wants to undertake relative to national security. The article highlighted how the Obama administration wants "broad, new regulations" to make it easier for the government and law enforcement officials to eavesdrop on Internet and e-mail communications that go through social networks and Smartphones. This step takes us another step closer to George Orwell's world of "1984." Verdict: change for the worse.
  3. Guantanamo Prison - one of the President's big campaign promises was to close the terrorist prison that Bush opened at Guantanamo since it served as a recruiting tool for international terror organizations. The prison is still open and does not look like it will be closed any time soon. Verdict: unchanged.
  4. War On Drugs - not sure either administration did anything significant to solve the drug problem in this country. As a result, we have a drug war going on in Mexico that could result in a narco nation just under our southern border and the violence and destruction that goes with it. Verdict: no change.
  5. National Energy Policy - despite having lived through the horror that were the energy crises from the 1970s and the added belief by some that fossil fuels are causing global warming, the country is no closer to a coherent, efficient long term energy plan than it was 35 years ago. The so-called cap and trade legislation that has been bouncing around Washington for a while will never get passed since it is too obtuse, too hard to understand, and impossible to operate or regulate. Now, while the Bush administration was probably happy to keep the status quo of as it related to oil, coal, and other energy sources, the Obama administration has done nothing to come up with a workable energy plan. Verdict: no change.
  6. Immigration Reform - Lord only knows how many illegal immigrants came over the Mexican border during the Bush administration and the Obama administration seems more intent on using its resources to sue Arizona for trying to protect its citizens from the problems of high illegal immigration than actually sealing the borders and coming up with a long term strategy for the problem. Verdict: no change.
  7. Rising health care costs - Bush did try to contain rising health care costs in the prescription medicine arena and passed a Medicare amendment. This effort has greatly added to our national debt without significantly bringing down the cost of medicine for older Americans. Obama passed a massive health care reform bill that was touted as the solution to the high cost of health care and the resultant high levels of uninsured Americans. However, a new, in-depth analysis by the Cato Institute shows that there will still be over 21 million uninsured Americans by 2019, the cost to the nation will be $2.7 TRILLION (not the $900 billion that Obama promised), and the legislation will add $352 billion to the national debt (not save $135 billion that Obama promised). Two failed programs, with objectives missed and national debt increased. Verdict: change for the worse because the Obama effort is far more damaging to the country.
  8. Earmarks - Obama campaigned explicitly against the high number of earmarks in the Federal budget. Under the Bush administration, they rose from under 2,000 early in his administration to over 10,000 at the end of his administration. Under Obama, the his last Federal budget was approved with over 11,000 earmarks costing the American taxpayer almost $20 billion a year. Verdict: no change.
  9. Deficit spending - when the Democrats took over Congress in 2007, they vowed that the would get Federal spending under control and would institute a pay as you go process. This means that no new government programs would be funded unless cuts were made in other government areas to keep the spending in check. Since then, the Democrats in Congress, along with President Obama when he came into office in January, 2009, have run up record high national deficits over the past three years, with no end in sight. While they may blame Bush for the last few years of high deficit spending in order to recover from the recession, that is no excuse for the continued high deficits that the Obama administration forecasts and plans for the coming years. Verdict: change for the worse.
  10. Uniting the country - partisan politics probably got considerably worse during the Bush administration. The image of Vice President Dick Cheny exchanging f-bombs with Senator Patrick Leahy on the Senate floor is not a pretty one. Bush backers calling those opposed to the war in Iraq as unpatriotic disrespected the rights of those Americans to have an honest contrary opinion. Some of those in the press that opposed some of the policies of the Bush administration reverted to likening him to Hitler. Unfortunately, partisan fighting has not improved under Obama, He has allowed those in his party to call those Americans that honestly oppose some of the Obama administration's programs and intentions a myriad of names including racists, terrorists, Neanderthals, and a_ _ h _ _ _ s. Verdict: No change (leaning towards change for the worse).
  11. Mideast Peace Talks - American Presidents keep trying and usually keep failing to get the two central parties, the Israelis and the Palestinians, to take each other and the effort for peace seriously. As I write this, the Palestinians are contemplating leaving the current round of peace talks if the Israelis restart building settlements in disputed lands. Another good effort, another likely failure. Verdict: No change (but not for lack of trying on Obama's part.)
  12. Iran and North Korea - we are no closer to having an adult conversation with either regime but they are 18 months closer to having a nuclear arsenal. Neither Bush nor Obama found an effective way to talk or deal with the madmen. Verdict: no change. 
There you have it relative to the major issues facing America today. Much like the old Who song, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss," the Obama administration has either continued many of the Bush policies or has been just as unsuccessful as the Bush administration in many areas. And like Bush, Obama really has no excuses, at least for the first year of his Presidency. His party controlled both houses of Congress and in the Senate, the Democrats were filibuster proof. He basically could have had any "change" he wanted if he pushed them through and controlled his fellow Democrats.

However, two things precluded his change. First, he never did control Pelosi and Reid. As a result, Obama's agenda moved along very slowly until the Republicans busted the filibuster number in the Senate. Second, it appears that President Obama has been more interested in playing President in his first two years than actually being President. He jetted all over the world giving speeches and trying to woo the Olympic Committee, he had photo ops with college and professional athletic teams, he filmed a TV commercial for the George Lopez show, he hyped his NCAA basketball picks, etc. Maybe if he had spent more time putting some plans and strategy in place for education, energy, immigration, foreign affairs and other issues, he could have been the "change" President.

Instead, he is being called the "second coming of Jimmy Carter" President which makes him just like every other politician. Maybe he should have read "Love My Country, Loathe My Government," where the following steps would have provided him the necessary plans and processes for actually making meaningful change:
  • Step 1 - reduce Federal spending by 10% a year for five years.
  • Steps 10, 11, 12 - three ways to make Social Security solvent without affecting those Americans that will rely on it for their retirement.
  • Step 23, 24, 25 - three steps to develop a coherent and workable national energy strategy.
  • Step 26 - an intelligent process to address the drug addiction problem in this country.
  • Step 27 - an intelligent process to address the failing public education problem in this country.
  • Step 28 - an intelligent process to address the rising health care cost problem in this country.
  • Step 29 - an intelligent process to address the illegal immigration problem in this country.
Alas, he did not read the book and as with most politicians, the more things change the more they stay the same. Or as Karl Marx once said: The oppressed are allowed every four years to decide which representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and oppress.

Our new book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Other websites of freedom:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

You Are Not Living In A Free Country If ....

Read the following and then you decide if you think you are still living in a free country:

- You are not living in a free country if your retirement medical care, via Medicare, is dependent on the actions and whims of politicians.

- You are not living in a free country if a large percentage of your retirement cash flow, via Social Security, is dependent on the actions and whims of politicians.

- You are not living in a free country if your pre-retirement medical care, via the ramifications of Obama Care, is dependent on the actions and whims of politicians.

- You are not living in a free country if your ability to go to college, via student loans, is dependent on the actions and whims of politicians.

- You are not living in a free country if your ability to get a home mortgage, via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is dependent on the actions and whims of politicians.

- You are not living in a free country if almost a third of your annual earnings go to taxes to support all levels of government.

- You are not living in a free country if government and political class spending has rung up trillions of dollars of national debt that will eventually have to be paid by you, your children and your grandchildren.

- You are not living in a free country if you privacy rights can be almost arbitrarily be violated by the Patriot Act.

- You are not living in a free country if your political leaders hold you and your opinions in contempt:
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - those that oppose Obama's health care reform effort are un-American.
  • Congressman Charles Rangel - those that oppose Obama's health care reform effort are like the racists that opposed the civil rights movements in the 1960s.
  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - American tourists that come to D.C. in the summer physically smell.
  • Congressman Dick Grayson - those with a different opinions from him are knuckle dragging Neanderthals, terrorists, and racists.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - those against the building of a mosque close to Ground Zero in New York City need to be investigated.
  • Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee - Tea party members used to wear Ku Klux Klan white sheets.
  • Czar Van Jones - those opposed to the President's policies are a_ _ h_ _ _ s.
 - You are not living in a free country if the executive branch can circumvent Constitutionally mandated government appointment reviews via a "czar complex."

- You are not living in a free country when politicians can use billions of taxpayer dollars, via earmarks, to finance their perpetual re-election.

- You are not living in a free country where politicians decide what private companies live (e.g. Citigroup) and what private companies die (e.g. Lehman Brothers.)

- You are not living in a free country when those in office can maximize their re-election chances with favorable gerrymandering of Congressional districts.

- You are not living in a free country if your selection of  a Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party via the primary and caucus system can be overturned by a small cadre of insiders in the upper echelon of the party called "super delegates."

- You are not living in a free country when sitting politicians can automatically grant themselves annual pay increases regardless of how poorly they led the nation during the past year.

- You are not living in a free country when sitting politicians cannot be removed from Congressional committee posts regardless of how poorly they performed their jobs on those committees (e.g. Intelligence committee members who did not foresee the 9-11 attacks, Finance committee members who did  not foresee the coming of the "Great Recession", Interior Department committee members that did not properly oversee the BP oil rig inspection process, etc.)

- You are not living in a free country when any level of government can seize your property for a supposedly fair price and turn it over to developers for a private sector development project.

So let's review. Politicians control our pocketbooks, our health, our retirement funding, who we vote for, our privacy, our property rights, and our ability to get a mortgage or student loan while calling us names if we dare to disagree with them. Hardly sounds like the traditional definition of a democracy to me.

The beauty of this system that the political class has worked out for themselves is that they are able to keep us fighting among ourselves which diverts our attention to the fact that our freedom and liberty have slowly been stripped away. We have reached a point in this country that a great portion of our lives is no longer controlled by our brains, our energy, and our initiative but by about 600 people sitting in Congress and the executive branch of the Federal government.

We vehemently fight among ourselves over relatively trivial matters such as whether a mosque should be built close to Ground Zero, whether a sitting President should address the nation's school children, whether a Boston police officer over reacted when the President's friend got arrested, etc., while the political class strips us of our wealth and our liberty without ever solving a major issue:
  • We are no closer to a rational drug policy in this country since Nixon declared War On Drugs in the 1960s, with this void allowing a narco state to develop just south of our border with Mexico.
  • We are no closer to a rational and coherent national energy policy despite the oil crises from the 1970s.
  • We are no closer to having world class public schools despite the warning of failing public schools from early in the Reagan administration.
  • We are no closer to having a sane balanced budget process for the Federal government with the political class spending trillions of dollars more than they bring in in revenue.
We no longer live in a free country and we have allowed them to do it to us. That is why it is so important to begin the cleansing process in November and dump all incumbents out of office. In addition, several steps from "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" should also begin implementation for a long term run back to freedom including: reducing government expenses by 10% a year for five years, overhauling Social Security to make it financially solvent and revenue/expense neutral, instituting term limits for all politicians, removing politicians from committee posts for not meeting minimal levels of performance in their areas of committee responsibility, eliminating the "Super Delegate" process, strengthening eminent domain laws, and neutralizing the current gerrymandering process for Congressional districts.

Speak out against the madness that is our current political class, vote out the incumbents in November. How much worst could it get?

 Our new book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Other websites for freedom:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Why It Is Still Stupid To Overtax the Rich

The annual tug of war is upon us again. the Democrats want to tax the rich even more and the Republicans do not. In this case, the battleground is whether or not the Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire or they should be continued for all people or just those earning less than under $250,000 a year. Obama wants to move the highest tax bracket to 39% for those earning over $250,000 a year, four points higher than the current 35%.

One of the problems with this year's argument is that it is just before a midterm election cycle and the political class is out posturing again, trying to use the issue to gather votes and divide the country, rather than do the right thing for the economy and American families. Below are some random thoughts on why raising the tax on the rich is not a good thing to do in the midst of a lousy economy and high unemployment:
  • By Obama's own calculations and mine, which were published in a previous post, raising the highest tax rate on the so-called rich would generate an additional $70 billion or so annually for the Federal government. This is $70 billion that cannot be spent on cars, restaurants, vacations, iPads, and other economic growth activities. To put this number in perspective, the Obama administration in its first three years is likely to run about a $1.4 TRILLION deficit in each year. Thus, if the Federal government got their hands on this $70 billion, and it was used for deficit reduction, the annual reduction in just the budget deficit would be about 5%. Thus, the argument the Democrats put out that the rich need to do their share of reducing the deficit is bogus. The amount that would be gathered is about only 5% and it is doubtful that even this measly amount would be used to reduce the deficit, it would likely find its way into more wasteful government growth spending.
  • Obama likes to blow up the number and give a ten year figure for more impact, citing a 10 year revenue gain by the government as $700 billion. However, the current trajectory of government spending will add about another $10 TRILLION to the national debt unless drastic action is taken soon. Thus, even with the ten year view, this amount of increase taxes would be only about 7%. And this estimate assumes that the economy gets very healthy, very soon. If not, deficit spending will get higher, the national debt will get higher, and this number will be even smaller. The national debt is not a tax revenue problem, it is a massive out of control spending problem by the political class.
  • Consider a real life example of a long time friend of mine. He established and for more than thirty years has worked tremendously hard to build up his successful brokerage and insurance business. He probably works over 60 hours a week and I do not know the last time he took a real vacation. I begrudge him nothing because his success was done the old fashioned way, hard work and innovation. He earns over $250,000 a year and would be affected by these tax increases. He foresaw this coming right after Obama took office and made some family financial decisions. Since his only diversion from work is his boat, he wanted to protect that part of his life. Thus, his family decided that as a result of not keeping as much money from the government and political class, he would lay off his long term housekeeper and he and his wife would no longer go out to dinner every Wednesday night. Imagine that these types of trade off decisions are being made by thousands of Americans across the country and you start to see why unemployment is staying so high.
  • Forbes magazine recently released its latest list of the richest 400 Americans. If you add up the net worth of these 400 people, their net worth, not their income, you come out to about $1.4 TRILLION. If the government was theoretically able to confiscate the TOTAL WEALTH of these 400 Americans, it might be able to pay off the Federal deficit from just one year's worth of Obama's spending. Unfortunately, you could only do this once since the richest 400 would be among the poorest after this type of heist next year. It's a silly analogy but effective: even if you stole the wealth of the richest, you could not come close to paying off the national debt that this political class continues to inflict on us and our children. To say that these tax cuts are critical to reducing our debt is ludicrous.
  • Since the poorest people on the Forbes list were worth about a billion dollars each, even if you confiscated the wealth of the next 400, the government's take would be considerably less than $400 billion, not even close to covering the deficit spending that the Obama administration has embarked on.
  • Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, today announced he was donating $100 million of his personal wealth to help the Newark, New Jersey school system. He would not have been able to make that donation if the government confiscated his wealth. Combine this with the billions of dollars that Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and the Sam Walton family have contributed to great causes and try to imagine what would happen to those causes if the government had taken all of their wealth. Again, strictly a theoretical example but one that illustrates that wealthy people do a lot of good in this country. They help improve our pitiful public school systems, they contribute to causes to wipe out disease, they hire housekeepers, they dine out in restaurants, etc. And the political class would probably be happy, especially the Democrats, if rich people were wiped out.
Why Obama has the compulsion to stick it to the rich is beyond me. Perhaps it is because he never really had a real job in the private sector. Perhaps because it is just another crude political ploy to "energize his base," the good of the economy and the rights of Americans to keep what they earn be damned. The only good news is that if he continues with these types of tax policies, combined with his massive failures in the economic stimulus area, he will indeed become a one term, Jimmy Carter-like caricature of a President because he will not turn around the economy, reduce unemployment, and reduce the national debt with his current approaches.

Now, if you think that the rich do not pay enough in taxes, that is absolutely your right to think that way. But please, do not tell me it is their patriotic duty to give the political class more money, it is not. Please, do not tell me we need this money to balance the budget and reduce our national debt, it will have minimal effect. And please, do not tell me that they did not earn their wealth, the great majority of them did, and the great majority of them on that Forbes list made our lives better in the process. To think otherwise, is just pettiness and jealously on your part.

Our new book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another Month, Another Doomed Political Class Stimulus Program

According to an Associated Press article today, the political class is about to pass a $30 billion piece of legislation that is supposed to jump start the small business market and get the economy moving again. Components of the legislation include the following:
  • Establish a $30 billion fund to help community banks lend to small businesses.
  • Cut some taxes on both small and large businesses.
  • Boost Small Business Administration loan programs by cutting loan program fees, raising loan guarantee limits and spending limits.
According to the article and common sense, this stimulus package will fail just as dramatically as the other ones that the political class has implemented:
  • According to the article, demand for credit and loans is down and many businesses are sitting on cash reserves, precluding them for needing to go out and get a loan. Thus, this money set aside could go unused and have no impact on the economy or unemployment.
  • According to Jade West, a lobbyist for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors: "It won't do any good. Business doesn't need credit - business needs customers. If they don't have a customer base because demand is down, they're not going to borrow because there is nothing for them to borrow for."
  • The Republicans' concern, and it may be a valid one, is that the banks may start to lend some of this taxpayer money to businesses with less than desirable credit worthiness, eventually sticking the taxpayer for the bill if these shaky small business loans go sour since the banks will not be at risk, the government in the name of taxpayers is taking the risk.
  • Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart said: " What we have today before us is junior TARP." And we all know that the original TARP was useless.
  • According to tax counsel Bill Rys of the National Federation of Independent Business: 'There's some OK stuff in it, but the impact's going to be minimal."
  • The small business tax cuts include tax breaks for restaurant owners and retailers who remodel their stores or build new ones. However, if unemployment stays so high, what good will better looking stores and restaurants be if no one has any money to spend in them? How do new paint jobs and new carpeting help grow the economy?
  • And, what good is a tax break for certain small businesses is if Obama has his way and does not renew the Bush tax cuts for those small business people making over $250,000 a year? Any savings they get from this mini-TARP are likely to be offset by higher income taxes.
  • Let's do some math. According to the trade association that supports community banks, there are about 20,000 community bank locations in the country. If you divide the $30 billion by the number of bank locations, each bank location will get about $1.5 million to loan out. If the average small business loan is $100,000, each bank location will only be involved in about fifteen loans, hardly enough to move the economy forward. And this assumes, that the small businesses around each community bank actually needs a loan (see the points above).
  • More math. There are about 14 million unemployed Americans workers today. If you divide the size of this stimulus program by the number of unemployed, we see that this program is the equivalent of spending about $2100 per unemployed American. Now, if spending $800 billion in the original stimulus program did not prevent unemployment from soaring to about 10% and 14 million (about $57,000 per unemployed person), this program is highly unlikely to do anything but waste another $30 billion.
  • And finally, if this idea of a program is so good, why was not not introduced sooner? It seems that this is the "hail mary pass" or the scraping the bottom of the economic idea barrel. Nothing else has worked, even programs that were considerably larger, so what makes anyone think that this johnny come lately program will do anything but waste $30 billion more of taxpayer wealth?
Obama and the political class do not get it. They keep trying to "push" the recovery through the economic system. They push out rebates for Cash For Clunkers and Cash For Appliances, they push out money for infrastructure jobs, they push out money for teachers' pay, etc. The problem with this push strategy is that everything is finite. Once the Cash For Clunkers rebate money is distributed, the incremental economic stimulus affect, if any, is gone. Once the infrastructure work is done and paid for, the incremental economic stimulus effect, if any, is over. These push tactics provide no lasting, positive changes to the economy or the players involved, as witnesses by our first hand negative experience over the past two years.

More of a pull strategy is needed, especially since all of Obama's push tactics have been failures. In this context, a pull strategy would provide, positive, long lasting, stable incentives for the economy. This means that tax rates for individuals and businesses and families would be as low as possible for as long as possible. Families and businesses could then plan around this stable tax environment and think longer term with certainty.

With certainty comes confidence and growth. The money that is in family and business pockets can now be confidently and efficiently spent to pull economic activity through the economic system based on the personal needs of each family and business, not the dictates of a central government. That is why the one year exemption for small business self employment taxes is so inane. Next year those expenses are back so why would anyone do any long term planning and spending for such a short term exemption?

In addition to a pull strategy, the political class needs to remove the tremendous amount of uncertainty they have introduced into the market and the economy, with uncertainty comes a hunkering down mentality that no amount of Clunker money, home mortgage relief money, or short term tax exemption money can overcome:  
  • By stretching out the debate on what Bush tax cuts will be extended, the political class has introduced uncertainty into the market and economy, resulting in depressed economic activity, since no one knows what the tax bite will be.
  • By passing a mammoth and probably ineffective health care reform bill, the political class has introduced uncertainty into the market and economy, resulting in depressed economic activity, since no one know what the increased business and family tax and health costs will be, and there will increases.
  • By proposing a mammoth and probably ineffective cap and trade energy program and legislation, the political class has introduced uncertainty into the market and economy, resulting in depressed economic activity, since no one knows what the increased energy costs will be for their business and family.
  • By passing a health care law that requires any extraordinary amount of incremental business paperwork and bureaucracy, the political class has introduced uncertainty into the market and economy, resulting in depressed economic activity, since no business knows how much financial and human resources they will have to divert to fulfill the increased paperwork requirements of the law.
 We have seen what push economic stimulus planning has done and what uncertainty has done to the economy: it has done nothing of any positive significance. Sky high deficit spending and sky high unemployment. It is time for a change and a move away from silly programs like this $30 billion waste. All it does is satisfy the egos of those in charge in Washington, it gives them a sense of accomplishment.
But, to use an old cliche, they have spent a lot of time and effort to line up the deck chairs on the Titanic while the ship continues on a disaster course. These programs are way too small to leverage the economy, it is like pushing on a string. Nothing usually happens. You need to get  to where you are pulling on that string to leverage things and enable growth.
A number of steps from "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" would help move to any effective pull approach to fixing the economy, would remove uncertainty from the market, and reduce overall government spending to help pay down the national debt and offset lower family and business taxes:
  • Step 1 would reduce the size of all government functions by 10% a year for five years to get Federal government spending under control.
  • Step 3 would keep ALL of the Bush tax cuts in place in order to help pull demand through the economic system.
  • Step 5 would increase government fraud and waste investigation resources in order to greatly reduce the self-admitted waste of $100 billion a year in government programs.
  • Steps 10, 11, 12 would finally put Social Security on a solid financial footing in order to get this major government expenditure under control.
  • Step 23 would implement an expert driven, not lobbyist and politician driven, strategic planning process for the development of a coherent and doable national energy program that would provide clear long term goals and tactics for national energy usage, removing the uncertainty and confusion of Obama's doomed cap and trade program.
  • Step 28 would implement a comprehensive and expert driven, not lobbyist and politician driven, analysis and planning process to determine the root cause of rising health care costs and implement a coherent, understandable plan to address these causes, providing certainty in tactics and costs going forward. This, of course, would require the repeal of Obama Care.
  • Step 30 would implement a process to return virtually all foreign deployed U.S. military personnel to significantly reduce our defense budget without sacrificing  homeland security.
  • Step 44 would prohibit the use of Federal taxpayer money on any program or project that did not materially affect a large number of citizens in at least five states.
This should not be this hard. We know what does not work, why do we have to have the same repackaged bad "push", non-leveraged, ineffective ideas come around every month? The political class needs to learn from its mistakes and start doing something different, something innovative for a change. Its called leadership and unfortunately, it is in short supply in Washington these days.

Our new book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Also visit the following sites for freedom:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why The Phrase "Political Class Experts" Is An Oxymoron

Today's post is inspired by an article in the current issue of the Cato Policy Report. It is written by Arnold Kling and is entitled, "The Era of Expert Failure." Mr. Kling talks about how important experts are in our lives. Experts treat our illnesses, experts make our lawns green, experts grow our food, experts provide us with wonderful electronic devices, etc. In the private market, experts are essential to making life safer, easier, more efficient, and more fun.

However, experts used by the government and the political class always seem to disappoint us. Consider some of Mr. Kling's examples and others that I have added:
  • Political class economic experts said to spend about $800 billion to rescue the financial system from itself. However, two years after spending the $800 billion, the biggest banks are bigger than ever, falling short of the objective of having no banks that are "too big to fail." Within months of getting government taxpayer money, many of the banks were only too eager to return that same money, indicating that maybe they were not all that close to failure as the experts told us. Today's banks are not lending to small businesses as much as as the experts are saying they should be doing, another expert forecast that did not pan out.
  • These same economic experts said to spend about $800 billion to save and jump start the economy. These experts told us that if this taxpayer money was not spent, unemployment could go as high as 8%. The political class listened to their experts, spent the money, and unemployment zoomed straight up to around 10% and has stayed there for a long time.
  • The political class experts that wrote the massive health care reform legislation told us that it would produce wonderful health care results for every American just like a similar bill did in Massachusetts which was passed several years ago. However, these experts are also likely to be proven wrong. In Massachusetts, health care costs have not been contained as promised by the government experts, emergency room visits have not gone down as predicted by the government experts, and the requirement that every state resident purchase health care insurance is basically ignored and postponed by many until they get sick and need medical attention.
  • In July, 10201, the Washington Post did an intensive investigation into the government's national security approach that the political class and their security experts have put together. The article found that our security apparatus is overly complex, overly bureaucratic, and overly expensive. Despite this overkill, a single Nigerian gentleman almost blew up an airliner over Detroit and a single American citizen almost exploded a car bomb at Times Square. All these expensive government experts and their procedures and technology failed to detect either of these potentially fatal, and quite simplistic, schemes.
  • Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) experts were supposed to monitor and manage the U.S. economy in order to keep it on an even keel. However, none of these experts apparently understood the downside risk of no money down mortgages, encouraging home ownership by people that were not qualified financially to own a home, or other shaky financial instruments. If theses experts did not see the biggest economic downturn coming ahead of its smashing into the economy in 2008, what makes us think that they can get us out of the mess they never saw in the first place?
  • Once the economy crashed, these same experts came up with plans to fix the problems that they helped create and never saw coming. They instituted plans like Cash For Clunkers, economic stimulus programs, Cash For Appliances, home mortgage programs, etc. The hilarious thing about these experts' programs is the precision that these experts claim to measure their programs. They claim that Cash For Clunkers resulted in a certain amount of incremental auto sales and the economic stimulus programs created a certain amount of incremental jobs. One wonders why we should believe their numbers on these incredibly difficult and complex things to measure when the did not foresee the "Great Recession" until it hit them in the face. Tough to believe their estimates of the number of leaves on a single tree when the did not notice the forest.
  • What political class automotive expert said it was a good idea to give Fisker Automotive a half a billion dollar government/taxpayer loan guarantee to build high end hybrid cars that will be made in Finland? The initial model from Fisker will cost about $100,000 and subsequent models will cost about $40,000, putting both models in the high end, niche category of auto sales. I am not an automotive expert but why niche and why Finland? It would seem obvious that domestic car manufacturers would have been a better job and technology partner for U.S. taxpayer dollars. If Fisker was such a great investment, private investors, with something to lose if their experts are wrong, would have eventually found and invested in the Fisker products.
  • What political class energy experts said it would be a great idea to give the nuclear energy industry over $50 billion in government/taxpayer loan guarantees to build seven or so nuclear energy plants in the southeast U.S.? The nuclear energy industry said they would not build the plants if they used their own funds, too risky of an investment, so what government experts thinks it makes a good idea to use taxpayer money for the projects?

So what seems to make political class experts so bad but experts we rely on for our teeth, our lawn and our iPads, so good and effective? Mr. Kling proposes a rational explanation. In his view, government and political class experts are linked to a tremendous amount of power, the power of the government's size and reach. If a private sector expert screws up, then that expert and possibly the company he works for have some problems but the damage is localized. These private sector experts are more likley to be very careful since their expertise is directly linked to the performance they are supporting. If an error in judgement occurs, private sector experts are much more likely to adjust their theories and approaches, learning from their experience.

When a government expert screws up, the potential for bad outcomes is significant. Witness the financial meltdown/Great Recession. Government experts in the Federal Reserve, Treasury, and SEC organizations did not do their job properly and the result was catastrophic for so many American families. In addition, government experts tend to blame everyone but themselves for any fiasco they are supposedly experts for. The $800 billion stimulus plan did not work? It was not because the political class experts were wrong, obviously $800 billion was not enough money, their theory and reputations cannot be wrong. Government financial experts did not see the Great Recession coming? Its not their fault or the fault of their expertise, its because they did not have the right tools and laws on hand and thus, we get the amorphous financial regulatory reform legislation. The government and political class gets more political power the more they screw up, an interesting phenomenon.

The other factor that probably makes government experts so wrong so many times is the fact that the political class likely cherry picks what experts they will listen too in order to keep themselves in office and to get their own legislative agendas passed. Since most politicians are lawyers, their expertise outside of law is probably minimal. Thus, they need the validation of experts to support their views, ignoring experts that run counter to their political needs.

In the private sector, we use our experts to correctly understand reality and make recommendations to deal with or optimize our experience with reality. In the world of the political class, reality has little to do with re-election if I can find the right experts to validate my biased perspective. In other words, private sector experts start the process by recognizing and describing reality and use their skills to deal with it. Politicians reverse the process, using their experts on the tail end to validate their personal view of reality which is usually centered around gathering power and staying in office.

Mr. Kling makes the point that life has gotten much more complicated over the past few decades. Health care is more complicated and personal, financial market savings and investment instruments and options have gotten more complicated and personal, communications technologies have gotten more complicated and personal, our television viewing options have gotten more complicated and personal, etc. Thus, to expect 500 or so people in Washington D.C. to have the expertise and experts to understand the myriad of personal decisions and options we all now face in life, is a recipe for disaster. These government experts rarely get anything right because of how complex life has become, witness their track record of failure above, and the price for these failures gets higher and higher every years as unemployment soars, national debt skyrockets, government and politicians get more and more powerful, and viable centralized solutions never materialize.

Which brings us full circle to "Love My Country, Loathe My Government." The basic tenet of the book was to dramatically reduce the size and intrusion of government, politicians and their experts in our complicated lives. We are best suited to be experts on our life. We do not need powerful but out of touch Washington experts telling us how to invest, how to take care of our health, how best to spend our tax dollars, etc. If our personal experts screw up, we can hold them accountable and move on, wiser for the process. When government experts screw up, the damage is likely to be widespread and devastating and accountability is non-existent.

If government experts constantly screw up, either by overestimating their ability to understand my life or by being overridden by political class considerations, at some point they can no longer be considered experts if they continually misunderstand reality. At that point, "political class experts" becomes the biggest and most destructive oxymoron in the country.

Our new book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Also visit the following sites for freedom:

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Iranian Political Class Vs. The United States Political Class - Which One Is Funnier?

Many times I have thanked my lucky stars that I write about the ineffectiveness, inefficiency, and general insanity of the American political class since they are always providing fresh material via their ridiculous quotes and usually inane actions. I think that the one foreign political class that could give ours a run for their money are the leaders of Iran. Recall that shortly after the deadly earthquake that hit Haiti that a leading cleric in the Iranian political class declared that the earthquake was caused by lax moral standards of western women. Priceless.

This week Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in New York City for events at the United Nations. In an interview with the Associated Press, the President asserted that the "future belongs to Iran." Before we analyze the probability of this statement, consider the following reality (most of the following statistics come from United Nations documents and the CIA World Fact Book):
  • The latest economic data from Iran shows that unemployment has climbed to around 15% in the Iranian economy, substantially above most other world economies.
  • With such a high unemployment rate, a brain drain of well educated Iranians is underway where highly trained professional leave the country to find appropriate work elsewhere.
  • The annual Iranian GDP is about $827 billion or about 6% the size of the United States economy.
  • Annual inflation within the Iranians economy is down to about 13% from a recent high in the mid-20% range.
  • The Iranian population is about one fifth the size of the United States population.
  • The infant mortality rate in Iran is about six times higher than the infant mortality rate in the United States.
  • According to United Nations research, Iran has the highest adult drug addiction rate of any country in the world and with 60% of the Afghanistan drug harvest passing through Iran that situation is unlikely any time soon.
  • 80% of the country's wealth comes from the oil industry.
If the future does indeed belong to Iran, they are going to be coming from way back in the pack. Loss of brain power, much smaller population, unhealthier population, much smaller economy based almost solely on one industry, drug plagued citizenry, etc. Not exactly a position of strength. If Ahmadinejad's statement of the future belonging to Iran was all that was going on, then we could all get a good laugh.

However, the situation is much more dangerous than that. Consider some other quotes from Ahmadinejad:
  • "We have never sought to dominate others or to violate the rights of any other country." Compare this statement to previous comments from him where he called for the destruction and end of Israel. Was he lying then or is he lying now?
  • Government opponents "have their activities that are ongoing and they also express their views publicly. They have several parties, as well as several newspapers, and many newspapers and publications. And so there are really no restrictions of such nature." He neglected to mention that most of those newspapers have been closed down, many of the opposition's leaders have been imprisoned and put on trial, and those that gather in opposition to the government are subjected to arrest and violence. Does he really think he runs a democracy or is he lying again despite the obvious disconnect from his words and the actions of his government.
  • "The United States' administrations must recognize that Iran is a big power. Having said that, we consider ourselves to be a human force and a cultural power and hence a friend of other nations." Honestly, what cultural contribution has Iran made to the world lately? What is a human force, given that they do not live in a human and freedom friendly nation? Does he really believe that Iran is a major power or is he lying to cover up the fact that Iran is just another secondary country in the world from just about any measure of economic, cultural, freedom and health care perspective.
Given both his overt lying and the tremendous misconception of how powerful Iran is today and is likely to be tomorrow, can we really believe him when he says that Iran's nuclear effort is not for the development of a nuclear weapon, it is only for peaceful purposes? Probably not. This is a gentleman that is so far removed from reality that it will be very difficult to reason with a maniac that sees the world completely different than the rest of the world.

The shame of the situation is that we did not need to get to this place where a two bit country is likely to soon to put the rest of the world on the nuclear edge. If we and the rest of the world had heeded the energy crisis from the 1970s and actually embarked on real programs to make us energy efficient and independent, we would not have gotten into this jam. We were telegraphed a peek into the future back then, a future where unstable and unreliable governments would have way too much say into the world's affairs.

If we had actually read the telegraph, countries like Iran with their sole dependence on the oil industry would be much poorer and much less powerful than the are today. They would have less power over their own populations and less power to promise the extinction of other countries. Unfortunately, thirty five years or so after the energy crisis, the American political class still does not have anything close to a coherent energy strategy for the United States. Consider how much money has been wasted that could have been devoted to the objective of energy independence:
  • The last estimate that I have seen regarding the cost of our Iraq invasion is over $700 billion.
  • A NOVA documentary a few years ago showed how a stand alone American home of average size in California could be converted to solar technology to be energy neutral at a cost of about $60,000.
  • If you divide the cost of the Iraq invasion by the cost of a typical solar conversion you see that rather than wasted taxpayer money in the deserts of Iraq, we could have converted about almost 12 million U.S. homes to solar power.
  • According to Census department statistics, you can estimate that the United States currently has about 74 million stand alone homes in the country.
  • Thus, just the amount of money we wasted on the Iraq occupation could have retrofitted about 16% of the those stand alone homes to energy independence.
  • You can easily hypothesize that even more U.S. homes could have been solarized if you assume that the government paid for only part of the retrofit with the homeowners paid for the rest and that the cost probably would have been less as more and more homes were retrofitted.

That is why two steps from "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" are so important to implement so that the political class eventually stops leading the country into these types of problems:

  • Step 23 lays out a plan for developing energy independence, a plan that 35 years worth of politicians could not come up with.
  • Step 39 would impose term limits on those currently serving in Congress. If you have not solved the energy problem so far after thirty five years or so, there is little doubt that embedded set of politicians in Washington will ever get around to having a coherent policy. Thus, lets get them out of office via term limits and get some smart people in office that will fix this issue.

Iran's political class has the potential to be much funnier than our political class. Unfortunately, it is not funny when you consider how much wealth we have allowed them to accumulate and how unstable and out of touch with reality their political class is.

Our new book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

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