Friday, December 31, 2010

Nancy Pelosi: Comedy Central or SyFy Channel?

Two ideas come together for the last post of 2010. The first is the Twilight Zone television marathon that is going on today and tomorrow on the SyFy channel. This channel does this marathon every year and it never ceases to entertain as it looks into the possibility of alien life, different dimensions and strange and eerie situations. The second factor of today's post is the fact that within hours, Nancy Pelosi will  no longer by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Both of which raises the question: if Nancy Pelosi and her term as Speaker was a television show, would she more likely be on Comedy Central or the SyFy channel along with the other Twilight Zone episodes? Before giving my opinion, consider some of the following quotes, theories, and economic understandings of Nancy Pelosi, listed below along with their YouTube verification, if available:

1) The first quote puts the Twilight Zone in the early lead where the Speaker lays out how economics works in her world. According to the quote and her understanding of basic economic theory, the more people that are unemployed in this country and the more people that collect unemployment benefits, the more jobs there will be. You cannot make this stuff up. Thus, in her world, if everyone was unemployed, more and more jobs would be created. But everyone would be unemployed so who would fill the newly created jobs? Reasoning certainly not of this world.

2) Continuing along this same twilight zone economic logic, the Speaker also believes that food stamps are a better economic stimulus than tax cuts. Thus, why not give everyone food stamps, not just the unemployed, doesn't it seem to reason that the economy would be so much better off? We would all be fat and well stocked in food (unless you lived in California where food stamp budget dollars could be used for cigarettes, casino gambling and just about anything else until recently), and it would get rid of those pesky tax cuts. Americans might spend that tax cut money on actual stuff that THEY needed and wanted, not what the government wanted them to spend it on, and we cannot have that kind of rampant freedom going on under this administration.

3) Before the massive budget busting economic stimulus bill was passed, Ms. Pelosi was so funny when she said that she would not allow any extraneous or nonessential programs to be loaded onto the economic stimulus legislation. Either she was not able to attain that objective or she considers funding research of insects on an island off the coast of Africa as essential for job creation, she considers replacing windows in a closed and extinct visitor's center at Mt. Saint Helen's essential for job creation, she considers the replacing of windows in a Wyoming Catholic church as essential for job creation (I never knew window replacement could be such a great economic stimulus), she considers replacing a heating system in an Indiana Methodist church as essential for job creation, you get the message. It was a ludicrous statement to make, given the hundreds of billions of dollars of waste that unfolded. A vote for Comedy Central.

4) In Ms. Pelosi's world, the counting system is entirely different, if you believe her numbers. In the following YouTube clip, the frantic Speaker boldly states that every week, 500 million more Americans lose their jobs. In our world, there are only about 308 million total Americans in the country, including kids and infants, making it impossible for 500 million Americans to lose their jobs in one week, never mind many weeks. However, in her world, the counting process must be different in order to count 500 million job losses a week. Twilight Zone material.

5) At the height of the raging debate over the massive overhaul of the health care industry in this country, the Speaker  was quoted in a USA Today column where she stated that any citizen who disagrees with the proposed legislation is "un-American." Definitely Twlight Zone material. In my America, citizens are allowed to have a difference of opinion with their politicians and to debate and discuss the pros and cons of their positions without fear that the political class, who rule only because we allow them to rule, will brand them and threaten them for simply disagreeing. In Ms. Pelosi's totalitarian world, freedom to dissent and have an honest difference of opinion is forbidden and viewed as an unpatriotic act.

6) Ms. Pelosi declared, upon her coronation as Speaker in 2007, that no additional government spending would be approved in her Congress unless corresponding budget cuts could be made elsewhere in the Federal budget to offset the additional spending. However, in four short years, her Congressional reign managed to increase the Federal national debt four TRILLION dollars. In other words, she increased the Federal debt burden on every American family by about $35,000. This goes far beyond SyFy. It belongs on a horror only channel, given the recklessness and treasonous spending behavior of Congress over the past four years, spending that got the American public nothing in return.

7) "But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of controversy." These were Ms. Pelosi's words and justification for passing the over 2,000 page legislation to reform America's health care industry.  Let's follow this logic: you (citizens) are too stupid to understand what is in the bill until after we pass it. Do they want us to just trust them? This from a Speaker of the House that claimed there would not be any wasteful spending projects in the economic stimulus bill and look what happened. This from a Speaker who said we are losing over 500 million jobs a week. This from a Speaker that claimed the national debt would not go up. We are to trust our politicians, politicians that have not track record of trust and honesty and an approval rating of only about 20%?

8) Given all of the problems above, you do have to give Ms. Pelosi credit for one moment of sanity. In the following clip she agrees with most of America, namely that Congress has done nothing worthwhile.

So let's review. As Nancy Pelosi leaves her position as Speaker of the House, what is her legacy? The major problems facing American families, including drug addiction, failing public schools, terrorism, a rationale and cost effective health care reform effort, an effective national energy policy, and the illegal immigration that streams over our southern border have not even been seriously discussed, never mind solved. The national debt burden has increased dramatically under her watch. 

Her understanding of economics, or lack of understanding, has resulted in legislation such as Cash For Clunkers, Cash For Caulkers, Cash For Appliances, Home Mortgage Relief, First Time Home Buyers Credit and other economic incentive programs that resulted in high and stubborn unemployment, a disastrous housing and mortgage industry, and more national debt. It has been a Keystone Kop approach to serious economic policy.

If the above disasters were not so serious they would be as funny as the quotes above and would fit right into Comedy Central. However, the issues facing the country are serious and it puts Ms. Pelosi's tenure over on the SyFy channel along side the Twilight Zone. How much stranger and scarier could our political class get? Hopefully, this is not un-American to think this way.

Our 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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Thursday, December 30, 2010

More Reasons To Dump The Federal Education Department

Every time you turn around recently it seems you come across some news report or research report that reinforces the reality that the public education process in this country is badly broken, at least relative to the rest of the world. The latest bad news was summarized in an article from The Atlantic, written by Amanda Ripley, that appeared in the December 26, 2010 issue of the St. Petersburg Times. The main feature in the article was a bar chart that displayed the percentage of 15 year olds performing at the advanced level in math proficiency many countries, including the United States, and every one of our fifty states.

The output from the graph was based on the work of Stanford economist Eric Hanushek and two others. They were very careful to accurately adjust and slice the raw data from the testing that was done to exclude the impact of the following factors, factors that had been used as excuses for the poor performance of American kids in the past:
  • They only looked at math test scores since math is math, it is not affected by language or culture, as much as language skills.
  • They adjusted for household income and wealth using reliable proxies.
  • They adjusted for whether or not the there was a college educated parent in the child's household.
  • They adjusted for whether or not there was a race impact.
  • They adjusted for how much each state spends per student in their states' public schools.
The bottom line conclusion after trying to look at the data from every conceivable angle? Now matter how you cut it, the United States does a horrid job of preparing public school students for proficiency in math. How bad is it:
  • Only 6% of U.S. 15 year olds performed at an advanced proficiency in math.
  • This places them behind 30 other nations including Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and Slovakia, far poorer countries.
  • The top three performing countries, Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, had about four times as many of their students performing at high math proficiency.
  • Only two states, Massachusetts and Minnesota, had more than 10% of their kids performing at high levels which were behind sixteen other nations.
  • New York state, which spends the most on public education per student, $17,000 per year per student, had only 6.3% of their students perform at high proficiency, trailing 30 countries and 15 other U.S. states.
  • A 2010 study found a very high correlation between how well teachers are trained and how well students perform. In the United States, researchers tested 3,300 middle school math teachers-to-be in almost 40 states. They found that these future math teachers performed at about the same levels of would be teachers in Oman and Thailand and far behind teachers in Taiwan and Singapore. (Note: for Thailand, only 1% of their 15 year olds perform at a high proficiency level in math; for Oman, it was not even listed in the graph discussed above).
Pathetic, much like other parts of our government and political class, we spend and waste a lot of taxpayer dollars for very mediocre results. And I know of no plans by the Federal Education Department to fix any aspect of this poor performance and none was mentioned in the lengthy article.

However, although the picture is dismal, there were some small rays of light. Some states are taking long overdue, but solid action:
  • Massachusetts made it harder to become a teacher in that state, tightening up the qualifications to teach in their state. They implemented a literacy test for new teachers that had to be passed before these teachers would be allowed into the classroom. The first year of the test, more than a third of the test takers failed.
  • Massachusetts required all students to pass a  test before being able to graduate. Although it was met with fierce opposition, it required students to actually be educated before they got their diploma. Those that were having problems were provided tutors to help bring them up to speed.
  • The District Of Columbia and and dozens of states reached agreement earlier this year to adapt common standards for what kids should be able to know in math and language arts, standards that were based on what successes other high performing countries are achieving.
The common thread in these small rays of light is the fact that the states have initiated these improvement programs, the Federal government and ruling political class are nowhere to be found in the improvement area. It is the states that are beginning to address the education problem and understanding root causes:
  • High budgets do not necessarily make for smart kids.
  • Poor teachers do not make for smart kids.
  • Poor teacher training to not make for smart kids.
  • Not having teacher, administration, and student accountability and proficiency testing do not make for smart kids.
  • The Federal Education Department, and whatever they have been spending their annual budget on, does not make for smart kids.
But when has the political class and the Federal government ever done a root cause analysis of a problem? They certainly did not do it for Obama Care, they have not done it for the high unemployment rate, and they have not done it for any other major issue facing the country (immigration, energy policy, skyrocketing debt, etc.) so why expect them to start now. Three steps are needed to fix this national disgrace:
  1. First, eliminate the Education Department and return its budget to the respective states. At least some of them are beginning to understand the root causes and take appropriate action, something the Federal government has never done.
  2. Implement Step 27 from "Love My Country, Loathe My Government," which would build on some of the cooperative work already done by some of the states. This step would put together a blue ribbon commission of various subject matters experts in many fields, sans politicians and lobbyists, and pull together the necessary analyses, research, and smart thinking Americans, to finally leverage everything we know and what we can learn from others, and finally get education right in this country.
  3. Step 34 would force all Congressional members who currently sit on any Congressional committee that deals with public education to step down from their committee posts and be replaced by others. In any other endeavor outside of politics, athletics, the private sector, etc., these so-called leaders would have been removed from their posts long ago for this type of disgraceful performance of our kids' education. Politics should be no different, you don't do the job, you don't hold the job.
I am not saying to axe the Education department blindly just to cut budget. I am saying axe it because if this is the kind of performance we are getting thirty years and trillions of dollars after the Department was established, we have been had.

Our 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.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Immobile Government - Do We Really Think Our Politicians Are Nimble Enough To Solve The Drug Trafficking Problem?

One of the major problems facing this country is the lost war on drugs. Initiated over forty years ago, all levels of U.S. government have probably spent over a trillion dollars and have made very little progress in the battle, with a lawless narco state evolving just below our southern border, a lawless state perverted by excessive drug cartel profits. Consider some recent news articles that illustrate these points of lawlessness and drug cartel violence:

- A recent Huffington Post article reported on the murder of a Mexican mother who had been protesting in front of a Mexican governor's office to demand justice for her recently murdered daughter. Three judges have been suspended for releasing the main suspect in her daughter's murder, who apparently turned right around and killed the protesting mother, a murder that was caught on a security videotape. The murders took place in Ciudad Juarez where over 3,000 people have been killed by drug gang battles in 2010. This is more than the 2,600 people that were killed there in 2009. Of the 2,600 murders in 2009, there were 93 homicide cases opened and only 19 convictions. This computes out to a opened case ratio of 3.6% and a meager conviction rate of .73%.

- Even if the mother's killer had been locked up in a Mexican prison, there is no guarantee he would have stayed there. Another recent Huffington Post article reported that almost 150 inmates had escaped from a northern Mexican prison, a breakout that was likely facilitated by prison employees. The local government issued a statement that read: "The state does not have the capacity to prevent them [violent prisoners] from escaping."  Does not sound like a very secure prison system if those running it acknowledge openly that they cannot prevent escapes.

The article went on to report that the area where the prison was located had also been plagued by drug cartel violence between the Gulf and Zeta gangs. It was unknown whether threats of the guards by the gangs or financial incentives from the gangs to the guards to help with the escape were factors but obviously were worthy of investigation. Thus, it is highly likely that drug cartel influences were involved in one way or another.

- The Associated Press reported on December 15, 2010 that a U.S. border patrol agent had been killed in a shootout near Nogales, Arizona, the area of the busiest drug smuggling corridor from Mexico into the U.S. Officials estimate that half of all marijuana seizures along the entire southern U.S. border are made in this area, which is also the busiest entry point for illegal immigrants. The scary thing about this report is that the death and gun battle did not occur right on the border but 13 miles inland from the border when a party of armed men and Border agents exchanged fire. Just two months ago, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had bragged that the border was more secure than ever before. The slain agent's family might disagree with her assessment.

- The Associated Press reported on November 25, 2010 that U.S. law enforcement authorities had discovered a cross border tunnel between Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego that was a way for the Mexican drug cartels to smuggle drugs into the country. The tunnel was the second tunnel discovered within the month, making one wonder how many other, undiscovered drug tunnels might be out there.

The law enforcement agents found 40 tons of marijuana in the tunnel system, it was equipped with lighting, ventilation, and a rail system to move the drugs under the border, and it extended the length of seven football fields. On the Mexican side of the border the tunnel entrance went down more than 80 feet to a wood lined floor and on the U.S. side the entrance was 50 feet down.

- Other news reports on drug cartels and Mexico in 2010 included a raid in South America where a totally submersible submarine, to be used for drug smuggling, was found under construction in the jungle, the murder of a U.S. citizen who was jet skiing on vacation on a lake between the Mexican and U.S. borders, and the recommendation by the Mexican government that Mexican citizens returning to Mexico for the holidays travel in convoys and only in daylight for their own safety from bandits and drug cartels.

Whatever the political class and the government is doing is not working but still costing us untold billions and billions of dollars a year. The demand for illegal drugs has not abated significantly while the obscene profits made by filling that demand has resulted in a more and more violent criminal element of suppliers. With the death of a Border agent 13 miles from the border we are seeing the first migration of the Mexican lawlessness and violence deeper and deeper into our country.

And those bringing the violence are not ordinary street thugs. If they are capable of digging sophisticated smuggling tunnels and fully functional submarines, we are facing a well financed, well organized, and focused criminal force, a force that more or less can bribe, threaten, or kill any Mexican official that disrupts their operations.

Compare their capabilities with the American political class, a group of politicians that list the passage of a law that regulates the sound volume of television commercials as a major 2009 accomplishment. If we allow our political class and their approach to problem solving to confront this threat, who do you think wins?

It gets back to what New York Times writer David Brooks calls "immobile government." It is highly unlikely, after more than four decades, that the current group of politicians in this country are nimble enough, or smart enough, to successfully repel the likely migration of drug cartel violence into this country. The drug cartels are focused, well organized and nimble, three descriptions I would never apply to our political class.

What should we do in the face of this immobility? Step 26 from "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" would be a good first step. This Step would impanel a special commission of smart Americans, sans politicians and lobbyists, to do a ground up look of the entire drug market, legal and illegal. It would draw on the expertise of economists, sociologists, medical experts, substance abuse experts, drug enforcement experts, legal experts, etc. and also on the experiences of other nations which have had varying degrees of success by changing their approach to the whole drug addiction social issue.

The panel's work would result in a small set of alternatives do the whole issue, alternatives that would be voted on by the American public, bypassing the immobile Congress and political class altogether. The most popular alternative, as determined by the voters who would have considered the pros and cons of each option, as laid out by the panel, would be implemented nationwide. This would simultaneously return the power of democracy to the people while finally improving the nation's plight of violent and intrusive drug cartels.

Recall the situation budget situation in California. The state government of California now spends a bigger portion of its budget on its prison systems than it does on its school systems. By changing our approach to the war on drugs, maybe, just maybe, we can end this type of insanity from our political class. However, it ends only if we find a way to bypass their immobility. After forty years or so, it is highly unlikely they will follow the advice from an old Who song and start "going mobile."

Our recent 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.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Latest Insanity From The American Political Class

We do this type of article on a periodic basis, mostly for the laughs and sighs that accompany many of the wasteful and silly insane actions at all levels of our political class. These examples serve to remind us of how much more effective or less expensive to the taxpayers our government would be if politicians would just focus on the important, major issues that impact the majority of Americans.

The following examples of insanity are from the latest edition of Reason magazine:

- Recently, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that the billions of taxpayer money used in the bank bailout program, TARP, to rescue AIG will result in a measly loss to the country of only $5 billion. However, the inspector general in charge of keeping the books straight on the entire bank bailout effort, asserts in an October, 2010 report that this number is bogus under conventional accounting standards. Originally, the expected taxpayer loss to AIG was about $45 billion, or about $400 for every household in America. How does the Treasury Department get from $45 billion to a measly $5 billion? According to the inspector, the Department "abandoned the published methodology and failed to disclose the change" in accounting to greatly reduce the AIG monetary damage, the lower number had nothing to do with a better than expected bailout. The inspector concluded that "the department's self reporting fails to meet basic transparency standards."

This is not the first time that the Obama adminstration had fudged the facts to make itself look better. An EPA research report from a senior scientist in the EPA that cast considerable doubt on the theory of global warming was prevented from being published lest it be in conflict with the administration's position on the topic. Last spring, the administration issued a report that seriously stretched the truth relative to scientists' beliefs on the impact of the BP oil spill. Once is an accident but three times is a trend when it comes to lying about reality and suppressing the truth.

- A study by Great Britain's Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs published a paper in the November, 2010 issue of The Lancelot, a premier medical research publication. The paper reported on an analysis that was done which compared the societal harm of 20 drugs along 16 criteria. The criteria included a drug's lethality and the ecological costs of production and distribution.

Surprisingly, alcohol was ranked as the most harmful drug to society, attaining a score of 72 on a scale of 100. Heroin was a distant second at 55. Conversely, LSD and several other illegal drugs had single digit scores out of 100, basically having no negative impact on society. If you buy into any of these detailed findings and analysis, you reach the insane conclusion that the drug with the highest negative impact to society is also the only one that is legal while other drugs that have a much lower negative impact on society are illegal. Makes no sense.

It is this kind of silliness and  nonsense that makes Step 26 from "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" so important. We have been fighting and losing the war on drugs for over four decades, possibly because of the above strategy where the most harmful drug to society is the only legal drug while the illegal drugs are significantly less harmful to society. We may have the whole illegal drug strategy backwards. Step 26 provides a process for a ground up view of what to do in this area that finally makes sense from a reality perspective, not a political class perspective.

To make this situation all the more insane, the founder of the Independent Scientific Committee On Drugs, David Nutt, was forced out of his job for suggesting legal changes in Great Britain's drug laws, changes based on his research findings.  Guess the Committee was not that independent after all.

- The World Wildlife Fund wants Congress to establish a national registry for pet tigers in the United States. Regardless of why the Fund wants this registry established, why would the government get involved? Where would tiger registry fit on a rank ordered list of the top 100 concerns of American families? There are less than 10,000 privately owned tigers in the country, there is no evidence of illegal use of tiger parts are going on within the country, and only 14 people have been killed in the country since 1990 by tigers, the majority of which were tiger handlers. In other words, there is no reason for involving Congress in such a task when they cannot even handle the more important tasks of illegal immigration, failing public schools, etc. It is these types of trivial jobs and responsibilities that need to be stripped out of government to get it focused on only the important issues.

- A recent analysis by the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism indicates a strong correlation between the number of suicide bombers incidents in a country and the presence of foreign troops. According to the analysis and a new book by Robert Pape and James Feldman, "When you put the foreign military presence in, it triggers suicide terrorism campaigns...When the foreign forces leave, it takes away almost 100% of the terrorist campaign."

The analysis found that 87% of suicide attacks since 2004 were done by locals, not some international terrorist organization. Interesting findings. Makes you wonder whether invasions such as Iraq and Afghanistan have the perverse impact of increasing violence rather than bringing peace. Something for future politicians to consider before going gung ho on a foreign country and its people.

- In Oregon, Kami Charais' four year old and six year old daughters were recently ordered to stop selling pumpkins from their road side stand by the Idaho State Tax Commission since the two kids did not have a state sales tax permit to sell anything. Too bad, their pumpkin sales may have been able to balance the state government budget. What a waste of government and taxpayer resources, patrolling and cracking down on kids pumpkin stands. Very similar to a recent Oregon incident where the state government cracked down on an eight year girl selling lemonade from a stand on her front lawn.

If this is what state tax dollars are being used for then maybe it is really time to reconsider government's role in our lives. Maybe it should not include crackdowns on lemonade and pumpkin stands run by grammar school kids and the resulting savings in taxpayer funds should be returned to the taxpayers.

- Andrew Buck, principal at Brooklyn's Middle School For Art and Philosophy, recently sent an email message to teachers where he suggested that textbooks are not necessary for learning, that the textbooks had put him to sleep when he was in school, and that some of the school's kids could not read them anyway so why have them. Additionally, the email was rife with misspellings, incorrect grammar and incorrect punctuation. Is it any wonder why our kids are not getting  quality educations if those responsible for providing that education are uneducated and ignorant themselves?

The following bits of insanity come from recent issues of The Week magazine:

- According to leaked diplomat documents released by Wikileaks, the North Korean government had approached the United States about arranging a concert starring Eric Clapton in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang to build good will between nations. Forget about the U.S. Sixth Fleet, we just need a little "Layla" to solve the Korean crisis.

- According to recent research, if Americans reduced their daily salt intake by three grams or half a teaspoon, there would be 99,000 fewer heart attacks in America each year, a 13% percent reduction. Strokes would decrease by 8% and heart disease would decrease by 11%. If this research is true, and I would tend to believe a good research report over the political class any day of the week, then would it have not been easier to reduce health care costs in this country by eating a tad less salt than passing a 2,500 page piece of legislation that has absolutely no chance of being successful?

If we took these findings a step further and reduced the number of Americans who smoked, who ate too much, and got more Americans exercising, would not that not be a better, simpler, and more economical approach than the atrocity that is Obama Care?

- Want more proof that escalating health care costs in the country are a public health problem and not a political class/legislative problem? Other research found that ever hour of television viewing beyond average that a toddler watches makes them less engaged in class, worse at math, and more likely to be bullied by the fourth grade...and led to higher ratios of body fat because they snacked more and exercised less. Turn off the television, snuff out the cigarettes, eat a tad less salt, and get out and exercise and the drop off in health care costs would be startling without government intervention.

Just a few tidbits of insanity to make you laugh, cry, and wonder how government and politician priorities got so screwed up in this country.

Our recent 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.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Public Sector, Our Grandkids And The Failure Of Our Political Class

An article by Mark Shields entitled, "The Public Sector And My Grandchildren," appeared in the December 26, 2010 issue of the St. Petersburg Times. In the article, Mr. Shields tries to make the case that government at all levels has and will make  sure that his grandchildren have a better life as a result of government, and the politicians running that government, are on the case, effective, and looking out for their well being. To prove his point, he lists out what he perceives to be the good that government and politicians bestow on us everyday.

I certainly respect Mr. Shield's perspective that government and politicians are dong a good job. If that is his opinion and feels that his grandkids will have a better life as a result, then he probably sleeps better at night than many of us. However, using Mr. Shields' own examples, many of us end up with a diametrically opposite view, namely that government and the current political class that operates it will not create a better future for our grandkids:

- Mr. Shields asserts that his grandkids "will get an excellent education at superior public schools." What is interesting is that in the same section of the same paper on the same day, another article shows that United States teenagers, the vast majority of which went to these same public schools, ranked 31st relative to other nations when it comes 15 year olds performing at the advanced level in math proficiency. Only 6% of U.S. students perform at the advanced level compared to 28% of students in Taiwan that perform at advanced level in math proficiency. The top ten nations all had at least 15% of their kids performing at the highest levels compared to our meager 6%.

The article also broke down the United States performance state-by-state, which may help explain Mr. Shields' high opinion of our public schools. However, the very best state, Massachusetts, only has 12% of its 15 year olds at high proficiency in math, trailing seventeen nations. In fact, only two states had a proficiency at least 10%, the other 48 states were in the single digit range.

Not to kill a dead horse, but recent news reports showed that the United States trails trails dozens of nations in math, reading, and science and the Defense Department recently reported that almost a quarter (23%) of potential enlistees cannot pass the basic reading and math entrance examinations. A May 11, 2010 Associated Press article stated that about a third of incoming U.S. college students need to take at least one remedial course according to the U.S. Department of Education. The results of a survey that was published in the July 16, 2010 issue of The Week magazine showed that 26% of Americans did not know that the United States won it's independence from England, with some people in that 26% naming Mexico, France and China. I am sorry I do not share Mr.Shields view of our public schools but based on hard results and experiences, they are anything but superior.

- Mr.Shields maintains that our national safety and defense is protected by the brave men and women of our armed forces, an assertion I cannot disagree with. However, an important follow on question is needed: at what cost? The Defense Department budget is now in excess of over $800 billion or so, more than 20% of the entire Federal budget. We have hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops stationed all over the world, many serving a purpose that no longer exists. We have tens of thousands of troops in Europe to protect against a Communist military strike. However, that potential is now zero but we spend billions of dollars a year guarding against it.

We have tens of thousands of troops in Japan to guard against what? I have no idea but it is still billions of dollars wasted. We have almost 30,000 troops in South Korea, despite the fact that a vibrant South Korean economy is strong enough to provide the men and resources to protect itself. More billions of dollars wasted. We still have 50,000 troops in Iraq despite the fact they never should have been sent there in the first place and the current President campaigned to get them all out long ago. More billions of dollars wasted annually.

Yes, Mr. Shields,I am thankful for the brave men and women in our armed forces. I am not thankful for the politicians that refuse to stop fighting the wrong and/or non-existent threats and potentially bankrupting the nation the process with an over sized and inefficient  military budget process.

- I would agree with you Mr. Shields that the air with breathe and the water we drink is cleaner and healthier than it probably was several decades ago. This is probably one of the few Federal government areas, pollution control and monitoring, where discernible progress has been made. However, just how good is the EPA from a pollution mitigation perspective? An April 16, 2010 article in Newsweek magazine asserted that over 720 U.S. companies have been in "continuous violation" of air pollution laws for years. Does not sound like the government is really do all that great of a job if hundreds of air pollution violators can go unpunished for years.

And what about the BP oil spill disaster earlier this year? The government was caught totally unprepared to cope with such massive water pollution. Government employees responsible for oil rig safety have been shown to be preoccupied searching for pornography on their government computers, they did not conduct the required number of safety inspections, many of them admitted to drug addiction habits and usage while on the job, and many were so preoccupied with getting a private sector oil industry job that they may have been derelict in their safety job requirements. As a result of this faulty government oversight, we now have a likely ecological disaster for years to come that may have an impact on Mr. Shields' grandkids down the road from a food safety and recreation perspective.

- I agree that current government employees and politicians do accomplish many worthwhile activities such as food safety, building safety, air travel safety, libraries, police protection and fire protection. However, they are supposed to to these kinds of activities, they should not be singled out for extraordinary commendations for simply doing their jobs.

- I also agree on many other points brought out in the article but Mr. Shields gives government credit for acts that took effect long ago. Ending segregation, passing ant-discrimination laws, maintaining copyright and patent processes, etc. were all done by past generations of government and politicians, not today's political class. This is what today's government and political class has given us:
  • A political process that is riddled with earmarks and the corruption of money from unions, PACs, and corporations, money that overwhelms the needs and desires of ordinary American citizens.
  • Gerrymandered Congressional districts and primary processes designed to do what is best for the major political powers and the political incumbents, regardless of what is best for the voters in those Congressional districts.
  • Dozens of SEC employees that have been shown to be totally preoccupied with on-the-job Internet pornography searching as the financial infrastructure of the country melted down into the Great Recession.
  • A Federal Reserve Board, a Treasury Department, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD, FHA, numerous Senate and House Of Representatives committees and subcommittees and droves of government economists that never saw the coming of the Great Recession until it hit them in the face, resulting in high levels of unemployment, the destruction of retirement wealth for millions of Americans, and the systemic destruction of the housing and mortgage industry.
  • A failure when it comes to the war on drugs as a violent, lawless state, consumed by the drug cartels, evolves just south of our borders.
  • A failure when it comes to developing a comprehensive and rationale energy policy, more than thirty years after the oil crises of the 1970s showed how much such a policy was needed.
  • A failure when it comes to national security, resulting in over three thousand civilian deaths on 9-11, years after such a threat was obvious from terrorism due to the first World Trade Center bombing, the African embassy bombings, and the U.S.S. Cole attack.
  • A failure when it comes to secure borders and a rationale immigration policy.
  • Extremely high taxation rates, rates that inhibit freedom of choice in this country. When a citizen is paying over 40% of their earnings to all levels of government in taxes and fees, the ability to start a new business, send one's kids to better schools, save for retirement, contribute to a favorite charity, etc. is severely limited. There cannot be political freedom without financial freedom and Mr. Shields' grandkids are heading into a future in this country where freedom is more or less a distant memory.
  • And worse of all, especially when it comes to Mr. Shields' grandkids, an ever growing and ever dangerous national debt has been thrust upon their future. Before his two grandkids hit second grade, they already are responsible for over $42,000 of the Federal government's national debt (dividing the $13 TRILLION of national debt by the 308 million or so current U.S.citizens). It does not matter how safe the Federal government makes our food or our drugs or our air safety. Unless skyrocketing the national debt is tamed, all other government functions become moot. At the point where the financials of the nation collapses, I am sure that patent protection and copyright protection and the like will not be pressing issues.
And what is our government and political class doing about all of these crises? Apparently not much. Consider a quote from President Obama that appeared in the August 10, 2009 edition of the New York Times: "I've got a lot on my plate and it's very important for us to sequence these big initiatives in a way where they don't all just crash at the same time." Obviously, those running the country now do not see any great urgency if they plan to tackle the major issues one at a time. Unfortunately, for Mr. Shields' grandkids, and the rest of us, these problems will get worse and worse before the political class ever gets to them, reducing our freedom and financial stability going forward.

We have truly entered into an era, of what David Brooks called in a recent New York Times article, of "immobile government." An era where incompetence, bureaucracy, and partisan politics results in a public sector whose successes get fewer and less impactful going forward. This is not due to the hard working government employees but to the insular and out-of touch political class that leads them. So, with all due respect to Mr. Shields position, I am less thankful "what government does for those whom we love." I am more scared by what government does not do or does wastefully or inefficiently for those whom we love.

Note: Before I get in trouble with any government employees, including the ones in my family, please consider the following excerpt from "Love My Country, Loathe My Government:"

"In any human endeavor, whether it is in the corporate, athletic, or government world, leadership is the key to success. Having talented and hardworking employees or teammates is great, but it takes strong and intelligent leadership to integrate that effort and talent to be successful. Thus, while most government employees are working just as hard as those in the private sector, the lack of leadership by the political class is wasting their talents, insights, and energy. Their efforts and dedication are appreciated, and they should not be held in the same low esteem that the country currently holds for the political class."

To explore ways to fix the ills listed above and leverage the talents of current government employees, consider reading the fifty steps outlined in "Love My Country, Loathe My Government."

Our recent 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.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Friday, December 24, 2010

Memorable and Forgettable Political Quotes From 2010

As the year draws to an end I thought it would be a good idea to review some of the mostly inane quotes that our political class graced us with this past year. They are either memorable or forgettable but most of them are a sad commentary about the ineffective people that are currently running all levels of government in this country:

"Now, Congress will have to pay for what it spends, just like everybody else." President Barack Obama, February 13, 2010. Guess this message did not get up to the Capital as the Federal government again spent over a TRILLION dollars more than it collected in taxes, imposing more than $8,000 additional debt burden on every United States household.

"I may be at a point in my career that I am going to do what is right and makes sense."  Senator Joe Lieberman, January-February, 2010 issue of the CATO Policy Report, quoting from the San Francisco Examiner. Why start now, at this point in his long career the Senator might just as well continue to do what is wrong and makes no sense.

"Act like you're at your grandma's house." California Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, Earthlink News, February 25, 2010. Portantino was sponsoring a resolution in the California legislature that would create "Cuss Free Week" in California. This is a state that faces a $20 billion budget deficit, is shutting down government functions and agencies and  laying off teachers and other state workers because of the revenue shortfall but clean language apparently is a higher priority and bigger problem for the California political class.

"Trust in government rarely gets this low." Andrew Kohut, Associated Press, April 19, 2010. Kohut is the director of the Pew Research Center which had recently released its latest survey findings, showing that nearly 8 out of 10 Americans do not trust the Federal government and have little faith it can solve America's ills. Mr. Kohut obviously has a flair for the understatement, especially since this lack of trust has been this bad only twice in the past 60 years or so.

"Many women who do not dress modestly - lead young men astray, corrupt their chastity and spread adultery in society, which consequently causes earthquakes." Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, Associated Press, April 19, 2010. And these people want to have nuclear weapons. Be scared, be very scared.

"Anytime you see something growing and expanding and there are no rules, you need to regulate it." Pittsburgh Mayor spokesperson Joann Doven, Pittsburgh Tribune- Review, March 1, 2010. Why let the free market grow the economy when government can step in, for no reason, and regulate it to death?

"My fear is that the whole island [Guam] will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize." Congressman Hank Johnson, The Hill, March 31, 2010. These words were actually spoken, on the record,  at a Congressional committee hearing with naval officers. Why was he not worried about Manhattan island, home of millions of more people? Unbelievable.

"We do not anticipate that happening." Naval admiral responding to Congressman Johnson's Guam capsizing fear. Whew, Guam residents can now rest easy.

"Governor [New Mexico] Richardson has always said that he would consider making good on Governor Wallace's promise to Billy The Kid for a pardon." Governor spokesperson Alarie Ray-Garcia, Associated Press, July 30, 2010. Better to work on a pardon for an outlaw who died about 120 years ago or spend time and government resources helping LIVING New Mexico citizens cope with high levels of unemployment and other contemporary issues? Another atrocious instance of bad political priorities.

"Every boundary of decency has been crossed." Retiring Congressman Bart Stupak, Parade Magazine, November 7, 2010. The Congressman was lamenting the hateful and poisoned atmosphere in Washington where words like baby-killer, racist, knuckle dragging Neanderthal, a__h___, un-American and debasing phrases are thrown around to describe any American who dares to have a different opinion from the speaker of the insults.

"We all have a responsibility where appropriate to seek forgiveness." One term Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Earthlink News, November 17, 2010. Spoken as the Governor, his staff and the Florida parole board wasted government resources and time working on a pardon for Doors lead singer, Jim Morrison, who died almost 40 years ago, despite the fact that Florida is facing devastatingly high unemployment and home foreclosure rates. More bad priorities from your political class.

"Every American has likely experienced the frustration of abrasively loud television commercials. While this may be an effective way to grab attention, it also adds unnecessary stress to the daily lives of many Americans." Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Associated Press, December 3, 2010. The fine Senator was the Senate sponsor of a useless Federal government bill that would restrict the sound volume of television commercials. Would not the Senator's time and his staff's time be better spent on reducing unemployment in the country, fixing our failing public schools, getting the national debt under control, etc.? I think solving these issues might go much farther to reducing "unnecessary stress" in "the daily lives of Americans" then reducing the sound volume of TV commercials. Has no one in Washington every heard of the Mute button or DVR technology?

Best Political Quote of 2010: "Do you know how many political and economic decisions are made in this world by people who don't know what in the living daylights they are talking about?" Former President Bill Clinton, Associated Press, September 21, 2010. Stating the obvious has never been so eloquent.

Runner Up Best Political Quote of 2010: "We have managed to acquire $13 TRILLION of debt on our balance sheet. in my view, we have nothing to show for it." Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, Washington Post, September 3, 2010. And whose fault is that?

Our recent 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.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010: Politically, It Was Much Worse Than You Thought

As we come to the end of the year, it is usually a good time to look back and see what the year brought us and hopefully, be thankful for our health, wealth, and good times. However, from an American political class perspective, the events of 2010 were not healthy, wealthy and good for most of America. The exact opposite was true, events of the year were much worse than we think they were, based on some recent news reports:

- In the lead up to the passage of the legislation that would extend the Bush tax cuts for every American for two years, the Democrats were hollering that the legislation was not a good idea to extend the tax cuts for those Americans making over $250,000 a year. It would add about $70 billion a year to the national debt and this horrified them. Never mind that while in control of Congress the past four fiscal years, they managed to add over $4 TRILLION to the national debt.

The Republicans have spent most of the year decrying how out of control Federal government spending was, using that fact as a rallying cry to have a great midterm election. Wow, both parties seemed so interested in taming the budget deficit. However, according to an article in the December 17, 2010 isse of The Week magazine, once the two parties got together to work out a compromise on the tax cuts, the resulting compromise legislation ended up increasing the national debt by $900 billion in just two years. Thus, although all Americans will continue to be taxed at their same level, each U.S. household has now been burdened by an additional future national debt burden of almost $8,000.

How come every time the political class does anything, current and future Americans get hit with more onerous debt burdens? What makes this latest travesty so frustrating is the hypocrisy of both parties who claimed to worry about curbing government spending but ended up making a bad situation even worse.

- According to an article in the December 20, 2010 issue of Business Week magazine, the United States added 937,000 jobs in 2010. This was not nearly enough to begin bringing down the almost 10% unemployment rate. Conversely, a single company in Taiwan, Foxconn, by itself created 300,000 jobs in 2010. Let's see: one foreign company creates 300,000 all by itself, our political class creates only three times that much for the entire country. Proves once again that no matter how much government money is wasted in "economic stimulus programs," it cannot compare in either volume or cost effectiveness in the job creation capability of the private sector. Pathetic. When we will they ever learn?

- One reason that entities like Foxconn can create so many jobs and the United States political class cannot, despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars, was vividly illustrated in the December 27, 2010 issue of The Week magazine. According to the article, the last economic stimulus program spent money on a new heating system for an Indiana Methodist church, bought new windows for a Wyoming Catholic church, and food for a Pennsylvania Christian organization's homeless program. Combine them with other such wasteful stimulus programs as researching insect colonies on an island off the coast of Africa and you can see why much of the stimulus spending had absolutely no chance and no leverage of creating jobs.

A real company in the real world spends money efficiently. In the political realm, money is spend inefficiently to get incumbents re-elected by fixing their places of worship or counting bugs.

- Staying with the bad financial management theme of government, prepare to be horrified by the assertions from various sources in a December 17, 2010 article, also in The Week magazine. According to a a quote from the Financial Times, a recent document dump by the Federal Reserve Board, as required under the recently passed financial markets regulation bill, revealed that the Fed had not dumped about $800 billion into the market to rescue the banks and other financial institutions from the Great Recession, as originally and widely thought.

It was much worse. The Fed had actually dumped more than four times that amount or $3.3 TRILLION. These TRILLIONs were lent to domestic and foreign banks (I cannot understand why the U.S. taxpayer would bailout a foreign bank!), hedge funds, and even Harley Davidson. All of these TRILLIONs were disbursed without congressional oversight or approval.

According to the article, the Fed took massive risks with current and future Americans' wealth and financial health by taking on not good loans with solid collateral but "toxic assets." The article goes on to pint out that the Chairman of the Fed, Ben Bernanke, pushed to bailout AIG, the most toxic of all the bailed out companies even though his staff concluded that any AIG bailout was unnecessary.

The article quotes the CEO of JP Morgan, Jamie Dimon, when he told his shareholders "that the bank hadn't actually needed the Fed's help - but the program (loans from the Fed) did save us money." This verifies the assertion made many times in this blog that many of the financial institutions did not really need the Fed's help to survive. They could have made the hard business choices needed to get themselves out of the problems they created (issued more stock, sold off assets, cut salaries and expenses, etc.) but were more than happy to have an out of control and foolish Fed give them a lending hand, courtesy of the American taxpayer.

Thus, the American taxpayer was actually not on the hook for the original $800 billion dollars of bailout (almost $7,000 per U.S. household.) It was much worse with each household responsible for closer to $30,000 per household ($3.3 TRILLION) due to the Fed and Bernanke being out of control and accountable to no government oversight or institution.

- Another article in the December 17. 2010 issue of The Week magazine reported that American students finished 17th in reading test scores, 23rd in science test scores, and 31st math test scores in an international survey conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. These scores were ranked relative to the 60 countries included in the survey. A recent Associated Press article revealed that almost 25% of those wishing to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces cannot complete basic reading and math tests.

Thus, as we are closing the second year of the Obama Presidency, we see that we are seemingly further and further away from properly educating our kids to compete in the world. Combine these results and findings with a recent quote by Robert Reich in (as reported in the December 27, 2010 issue of The Week magazine) where he stated unemployment rate of those Americans without a college education is more than 20 percent (double the national average) and you can see what an education hole the political class has dug for the country.

This continuing public education failure by our political class, regardless of who controls Congress and who controls the White House, is drastically undermining the future economic strength of the country along with the ability of our armed forces to defend us. Shameful.

- Not only has the failure of public education in this country not been addressed in 2010:
  • We still do not have a national, comprehensive, and rational energy policy.
  • We still do not have a national, comprehensive, and rationale immigration policy.
  • We still do not have a rational, comprehensive, and rationale health care reform policy with Obama Care coming apart at its financial underpinnings and in courts throughout the country.
  • We still do not have a national, comprehensive, and rationale drug addiction policy. The current policy, the lost "War On Drugs" has not worked for the past forty years, has wasted untold billions of dollars, has not materially reduced drug usage, and has allowed a near lawless, violent narco state to evolve just south of our borders.
- Although we do not have many policies listed above, as we look back to 2010, we still have the following in this country, courtesy of the political class:
  • We still have the prison at Guantanamo despite Obama campaign promises to close it.
  • We still have the Patriot Act, one of the most freedom inhibiting laws of all time.
  • We still have an ineffective SEC who has not prosecuted anyone of consequence despite the largest financial meltdown of our generation. Was everyone involved in the financial markets during the meltdown completely honest and law abiding?
  • We still have an ineffective Congress and political class which continues to work on useless legislation such as the recently passed law to regulate the sound of television commercials.
  • We still have a perverted election process that allows incumbent politicians to almost ensure their perpetual re-election via controlling earmark allocations, gerrymandering Congressional districts, accepting money from money well endowed organizations (PAcs, corporations, unions, etc.), and moving money around the country to benefit of the political parties but to the detriment of local voters.
I would say have a happy 2011, that it cannot be any worse than 2010. However, every time I say something like that, the political class proves me wrong and makes things worse. Instead, let's hope and work towards replacing those in office with a better and smarter class of people with higher standards of integrity and performance, both in 2011 and beyond. We cannot afford a lot more years like 2010.

Our recent 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.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Obscenity of Power And Wealth In Washington And How To Defuse It

Two recent news articles recently came to my attention that, on the surface, were unrelated but with a little imagination you could see were tightly compatible. The first article appeared on the website,, and it categorized the ten richest and the ten poorest counties in the United States. The ten poorest counties, as measured by household income, were located no where close to our nation's capital. Four counties from South Dakota, three counties from Mississippi, one from Colorado, one from Kentucky and one from Louisiana rounded out the ten poorest counties in the country. As you can see, far, far away from the nation's capital.

In contrast to the ten poorest counties, seven of the ten wealthiest counties were almost all within a stone's throw of Washington D.C. These seven included three in Virginia (Loudoun - #1, Fairfax  - #2, and Arlington - #5) and four in Maryland (Howard - #3, Montgomery - #6, Calvert - #9, and Charles - #10). Only three of the top ten were not in the greater D.C. metro area (two were in northern New Jersey and one was on Long Island). The one county that bordered Washington that was not on the list was Prince George's county in Maryland but if you do a little research you find that Prince George's county is in the top 2% of all U.S. counties from an income level and is the wealthiest county in the country with an African American majority of citizens. Thus, Prince George's is certainly not a slouch when it comes to wealth.

If you look at these seven top counties on a map and include along with them Prince George's county, you will find that they all virtually surround our nation's capital. If you equate  money with power, you can then easily conclude that we have allowed a lot of power and national wealth to become tightly focused around the Federal government and the head of that government, Washington, D.C.

You would expect any nation's capital to be relatively affluent and well off, no disagreement there. But consider just how powerful our nation's capital area has become:
  • The nation's financial capital, New York City, did not make the top ten. Consider how many bankers, financial analysts, and Wall street types make their living and home in New York City and the surrounding suburbs and they do not have a presence on the top ten list.
  • The nation's hot bed of innovation and technology wealth, Silicon Valley, did not have a presence on the top ten list.
  • The nation's media capital and largest metro area, Los Angeles, did not have a presence on the top ten list.
  • The nation's fast rising major southern cities, such as Houston and Dallas, did not have a presence on the top ten list.
By looking at what areas are not on the list, and the wealth we usually associate with those missing areas, you get a better feeling of just how much wealth and power has migrated to Washington D.C. Frightening. Government should be in the business of serving the entire country, not enriching itself and its employees in the process. If government was smaller and less taxing, some of the Washington D.C. metro wealth would find its way back to the South Dakota, Mississippi, and all of the other counties in the country who could really use it.

How should we go about defusing the power and wealth transfer that obviously migrated from the countryside to the D.C. Beltway? We have constantly talked about numerous steps that could be taken to return power and freedom to American citizens while reducing the power of the American political class in "Love My Country, Loathe My Government:"
  • Step 1 - reduce the budget of the Federal government 10% a year for five years by doing a ground up review of all government functions, downsizing or eliminating the ones that serve no useful purpose.
  • Step 6 - allow only individual citizens to contribute to election campaigns.
  • Step 7 - do not allow election campaign contributions to cross Congressional district or state lines, e.g. a citizen in Kansas could not contribute to a political campaign in New Jersey.
  • Step 14 - stop gerrymandering Congressional districts that almost always ensure that the incumbent will be re-elected.
  • Step 39 - institute term limits for political offices.
These are necessary and critical steps to restoring the freedom that we have lost as Americans.

But there is another necessary step, which brings us to the second news article. This was a New York Times piece that appeared in the December 20, 2010 edition of the St. Petersburg Times. The article reviewed an effort that is underway to implement a Constitutional amendment that would allow state governments to overturn Federal mandates and laws. This "repeal amendment" would allow any act of Congress to go unheeded if  the legislatures in two thirds of the states voted to overturn the act.

This would certainly put in another check and balance feature in the Constitution. If would help mitigate the flow of power and wealth to the political class in Washington by repelling funding mandates and impositions on state rights and personal freedoms that continually come out of Washington. As an example, if states felt that the imposition of huge additional fees from Obama Care were not the right solution, they could override the legislation with two thirds majority. Similarly, if a state's citizens felt that the Federal mandate to require everyone to purchase health insurance was an affront to freedom, state citizens would have another way to voice their disapproval and get action.

According to the article, twelve state legislatures have already shown an interest in such an amendment. Some incoming Congressional members have also voiced support and the movement's leaders have a website up and running called According to a spokesperson for the organization running the website, "What we're trying to do is to draw a line in the sand saying that the Federal government has gone too far."

Sounds like a good and reasonable plan. The Constitution allows citizens to make amendments possible through a defined Constitutional process and the two thirds majority required to over turn an act of Congress ensures that there is widespread support for such action that is not purely politically driven.

Most importantly, it helps defuse the power and wealth that has migrated to a very small handful of people in Washington that has proven over the decades that they have accomplished nothing of any consequence as it relates to the major issues of our times while wasting trillions of dollars in the process. Any measure that can keep government under control and accountable to the will of the people that pay for it is a good thing. Maybe by implementing this repeal amendment and other necessary steps, the richest counties in this country might some day be the ones the work the hardest and not the ones that govern the lousiest.

Our recent 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.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Lots Of Talk, No Action: The Current Impotency and Lack Of Leverage Of America Foreign Policy

This blog has often talked about the American political class inability to get anything accomplished relative to the major issues facing Americans today. These major issues include the failed war on drugs, failing public schools, the lack of a national energy policy, a non-existent immigration plan and strategy, and the failure to solve the problem of escalating health care costs in this country.

However, this inability apparently is not restricted to the domestic side of political class responsibilities. If you look at our country's foreign policy recently you see very few successes (recent trade agreement with South Korea) and a whole lot of failures:

- There was a recent conference in Geneva that involved Iran and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany [Associated Press - December 7, 2010]. The conference was supposed to find a way to allow Iran to develop a peaceful nuclear energy program while preventing them from developing nuclear weapons. The talks ended with a promise of all countries to get together again in 2011. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley went so far to say that: "We are encouraged that there will be a follow-on meeting [in 2011].

Sound familiar? It seems this dance has been going on for a long time, with Iran skillfully sitting down for talks with the over eager other six nations and hinting at enough progress to not kill future talks but never agreeing to anything either. This has been going on for years, with no concessions from Iran but serving as their delaying tactic for their continued developed of a nuclear weapon capability. Lots of talk, no action.

- The never ending search for peace between the Palestinians and Israel also has recently been in the news. The United States, for years, has tried to mediate talks between the two factions, with a recent agreement stipulating that Israel would not do any more settlement construction in Jerusalem for 90 days. This agreement was necessary to prevent the Palestinians from walking out of the peace talks. The Obama administration was so desperate for the 90 day window that they agreed to get billions of dollars of weaponry to Israel and made other diplomatic commitments for their moratorium on construction, all for a mere 90 day freeze on construction.

However, shortly afterward, Israel declared that the U.S. was too consumed by the Wikileaks fiasco to talk peace (Associated press - December 7, 2010) and that the U.S. had stopped the peace talk process. The State Department denied that this was the case and the talks were still on. However, it appears that the Israelis are using the weak excuse of Wikileaks to get the military hardware and diplomatic air cover that the U.S. committed to but never wanted to continue the peace talks anyway. Thus, all of the United States' plans to keep both sides happy and talking are likely to fail. Lots of talk, no action. 

- Every time that North Korea acts up, the United States goes begging to China to please, please intervene and keep the North Koreans in check. However, China apparently has very little motivation to keep the North Koreans in check according to recent news reports and documents:
  • China likes having a buffer between itself and U.S. ally South Korea. If the North government should collapse, then South Korean, and possibly U.S. troops, could be sitting on the Chinese border, something they probably do not want.
  • If the North Korean government should collapse, there is a very high probability that millions of starving North Korean citizens would flee to the more prosperous China in search of food and shelter, an event that the Chinese definitely do not want to cope with.
  • The North Koreans intermittently act aggressively towards Japan, a military and economic competitor of nearby China. With North Korea as a wild card, it distracts Japan in its affairs and confrontations with China.
As with the Mideast peace talks and hopes and the delaying Iranians nuclear meetings, lots of talk, no action when it comes to North Korea.

What do all of these situations have in common? Namely, the United States no longer has the leverage to make/convince others to do what it wants. Without leverage, other parties will do what the want and is best for them, not what is best for U.S. interests. Especially today, with a fragile economy, the United States has lost the leverage of economic power. China's economy has grown so much and made us so dependent on it that we can do nothing but go to the Chinese and beg for them to do something about North Korea.

The Israelis are living in a prosperous economic environment that is relatively secure. The Palestinian leaders exist and continue in power because of the hatred it sows among its citizens towards Israel. None of the parties involved, Israeli and Palestinians citizens and leaders really want peace as defined by the United States. We have no leverage to make them change their minds from the status quo but we are gullible enough to sign short term and costly agreements that the Israelis abide by or ignore at their will. Again, no leverage to make them do what we want, they have more to lose than to gain.

What leverage do we have with the Iranians? Obviously, the five or six rounds of sanctions that have been imposed on them have had insufficient leverage to make them stand down from their nuclear weapon ambitions. Plus, we are dealing with some very irrational and possibly insane rulers, both in Iran and North Korea. Without leverage to apply to their irrational interests, the United States is relegated to diplomatic beggar again and sits at these meetings with no power or leverage to enact anything effective. As a result, the Iranians play us for fools as they delay and delay as they develop and develop nuclear weaponry.

A wise old business saying goes as follows: "Never be so in love with a business deal that you cannot walk away from the negotiating table." Our political class and politicians have become so in love with these "deals," a nuclear free Iran, a well behaved North Korea, and a lasting a stable Middle East peace accord that they cannot walk away from the table. We continue to sit at the table and talk and talk because we have diplomatically, militarily, and economically no leverage to do anything else, looking diplomatically impotent in every case. Without leverage or the creativity to create leverage, you get played for a fool, which is exactly the position that our politicians have put is in today.

Which should not surprise us. The meager efforts of the political class to domestically improve life for Americans have almost always been a failure (e.g. Cash For Clunkers, TARP, etc.). And usually the root cause of these failures is that the meager and ill-thought out programs from our politicians usually have no leverage. Without leverage, plans usually fail miserably.

But that discussion is worthy of another post in the near future but before then, think about some of these recent failures and try to identify what leverage was inherent in the thought process of the programs. I will bet that you will find that there were none. As a result they failed as miserably as the foreign affairs fiascos above.

Our recent 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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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bypassing the Political Class, Fixing The United States Postal System

As I was standing in line at the Post Office the other day to mail some gifts, I was struck by the relatively short length of the line. We are within in a two week window of Christmas and the line was quite short. It started me wondering about how much the proliferation of email, online bill payment, text messaging, social networking, cell phones, etc. might be impacting the operations and the profitability of the Post Office.

When I got home I saw that my latest edition of Business week had been delivered, on time I must say, and within that issue (December, 13, 2010) was an article about the status of the Post Office. Judging by the facts laid out, it is in much worse shape then I imagined while looking at the short lines:
  • The United States Postal Service (USPS) is supposed to be run as a profitable entity but has lost money in 14 of the previous 16 quarters.
  • The USPS recently had to borrow $3 billion from the U.S. Treasury to cover its financial shortfall, the most that it is allowed to borrow in any one year.
  • It is rapidly approaching a debt of $15 billion owed to the Treasury, the upper limit that it is allowed to owe.
  • It operates over 32,000 locations, which is way to many for the declining demand that it faces.
  • Besides its current fiscal problems, the USPS has a long term debt obligation of about $50 billion for retiree benefits and pensions.
  • The last time quarterly mail volume increased was almost four years ago, first quarter, of 2007.
  • The USPS spends 78% of its budget on salaries and benefits compared to 43% at FedEx and 61% at UPS.
What a mess. A declining market, high fixed costs, an outdated business model, leveraged to the hilt with debt, tough competitors, etc. Looks like drastic action needs to be taken to make the USPS profitable again, as the law requires:
  • Close down light volume locations and replace them with agents such as hardware stores, supermarkets, etc.
  • Trim the workforce as needed in line with declining mailing volumes.
  • Terminate some services to save expenses such as Saturday delivery and possibly closing down a day or two a week, allowing agent to pick up the slack.
  • Allow the Post Office to offer other services like other national postal systems do to cover their costs (British Royal Mail and Japan Post also provide banking and insurance services) to offset the decline in their core business.
Seems reasonable, unless you are a politician, especially a Democrat. According to the article, politicians have frequently opposed and stopped the closing down of low volume or poorly performing post offices in their district. They have aligned themselves with the postal unions to block the termination of Saturday delivery and other cutbacks in services that make good financial sense but would offend a politician's campaign supporters, the unions. Thus, we continue to spiral down into the vortex of another government bailout, a bailout that will be much more costly if sane, rationale steps are not taken to account for a declining market.

"Sane" and "rationale," there are two works you will not see in the same sentence often with "politician." However, a Utah Congressman, Jason Chaffetz, who is possibly going to head the subcommittee that oversees the USPS in the new Congress, has a solution, a solution that is similar to processes laid out in "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" to solve other national problems. Chaffetz would put together a a Federal Commission, similar to successful the military base closing commission, to identify which post offices to shut. Similar to the base closing plan, Congress would vote to approve the entire plan or reject the entire plan, they could not cherry pick parts of the plan. This way, Congressional politicians would have air cover by saying their hands were tied. Given the general lack of courage of most politicians in Congress, this may be the only way to get past the localized resistance to sanity.

This is the same process laid out in "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" for fixing our illegal immigration problem, our escalating health care cost problem, our failing public schools problem, our drug addiction problem, and our lack of a national energy strategy and policy problem. Congress and the political class has had decades to fix all of these problems and have made absolutely no head way. As a result, we are faced with ever escalating national issues and ever less courageous politicians that will not take the necessary steps to address the root causes of our problems and step out in front of the pack to actually provide some leadership. When we see that politicians do not have enough courage to even close an unnecessary Post Office location, we have absolutely no chance of seeing any act of courage in the bigger issues of our time, lest they offend a voter bloc or two.

I wish Congressman Chaffetz well in his bold act of actually cutting politicians mostly out of the decision loop when it comes to fixing the USPS market and financial situation. I hope it works, lord knows nothing else that involves a politician is likely to work.

Our recent 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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