"The most significant threat to our national security is our debt," Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, August 27,2010


Monday, August 31, 2009

Worker's Paradise

That is not opportunity knocking on your door, Detroit, Michigan. Reality has arrived.

We refer you to this article “Detroit on brink of financial ruin.” You can link to it at:

http://www.freep.com/article/20090830/NEWS05/908300547/1319/Detroit-nearing-financial-ruin--city-s-ex-auditor-says

We also refer you to our previous postings (see TheFundamentals: Michigan Rx, June 24, 2009 and State of Michigan R.I.P., April 28, 2009) about Detroit and the State of Michigan. For those who are stumbling over our simple message, here it is again: Cut spending; repay debt; avoid bankruptcy. Encourage wealth creation; encourage jobs.

A casual observer will find some of the same characters who drove Detroit over the cliff following their spending and debt addictions in congress, at the Federal Reserve, at the USTreasury and at countless bureaucracies in DC and state capitols across the nation. They cannot help themselves. They are addicted to spending more than they take in and accumulating massive debt. In DC they are printing money in a fashion reminiscent of banana republics.

A few days ago a prize winning economist writing in the NYTimes again sounded the call that the massive national debt was OK. Keep it up. It is needed. Not to worry. This prize winner is paid for this nonsense. First prize should have been a week in Detroit. Second prize, two weeks.
TheFundamentals has been desperately seeking evidence that massive debt does not lead to bankruptcy. We’d like to win a prize. We will continue to search for at least one example of where massive debt has led to the promised land. Milk and honey. Health care for all. Best years are ahead of us. Blah-blah-blah.

Is there a silver lining? Well, the same website cited above offered these remedies (someone is going to make a lot of money developing a 12 step program for politicians and bureaucrats) for the Detroit situation:

“Possible remedies

Detroit's financial options remain limited, experts say. Two options are bankruptcy with a receiver being in charge, and having the state appoint an emergency financial manager.
Emergency financial manager
• Appointed by the governor.
• Acts under state law.
• Tasked with resolving financial emergency.
• Can renegotiate labor contracts, but not abrogate them.
• Can, with state approval, file bankruptcy for the city.
Bankruptcy
A judge typically appoints a receiver who:
• Acts under federal bankruptcy law.
• Is tasked with preserving property in a bankruptcy.
• Can, with court approval, abrogate contracts.”

Who knows, bankruptcy may not be so bad after all. Detroit’s unemployment rate is 28.9%. Somebody is going to have to nail up the plywood and drive the busloads of marchers to DC clamoring for more handouts.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wrong Man

BBernanke is just not the right fellow for this key job at this important time.

Background: This last Monday, TheFundamentals referred you all to an article about the path less travelled by the taxpaying citizens of the state of Texas. A few key decisions jump out to even a casual reader and a non believer. Debt is not the way to go. Deficits, which lead to debt, are not the way to go. Pandering to special interests – be they business, unions, lawyers or teachers and government employees are NOT the way to go. These easy paths are not leading to peace in the valley. They are headed for a dead end gulch, a cliff, a drop-off to overdo the terrain metaphors. The path less travelled that is so difficult for the politician is really not all that difficult. It just requires a certain amount of commitment and perseverance and, this is the really important component, LEADERSHIP.

Ben Bernanke is not a leader. He is not the pathfinder that the US desperately needs now. Neither was his predecessor – AGreenspan. AGreenspan and BBernanke will not be treated well by historians. We finally got rid of the former; time for the latter to retire.

Let’s look at the objectives of the Federal Reserve. From their website http://www.federalreserve.gov/

Today, the Federal Reserve's duties fall into four general areas:
· conducting the nation's monetary policy by influencing the monetary and credit conditions in the economy in pursuit of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates
· supervising and regulating banking institutions to ensure the safety and soundness of the nation's banking and financial system and to protect the credit rights of consumers
· maintaining the stability of the financial system and containing systemic risk that may arise in financial markets
· providing financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions, including playing a major role in operating the nation's payments system

The top three duties are key. They are the ones that matter. BBernanke is a complete failure on all three. Maximum employment, stable prices, moderate long term rates, safety and soundness of the banking and financial system and risk in the markets. Ben gets an F for failure in all three. He has failed miserably on all the key objectives. The fourth objective is operational. It’s done by computers and software. Even Bernanke is smart enough to not meddle in that arena.

This job is supposed to be above politics. This job is supposed to look out for you and me. This job is to stand up to foolish politicians who want to look good and feel good and get reelected. This job is to say no. This job is to take away the punch bowl and slow down the party. This job is critical to the financial well being of this nation. This job is the cop, the adult, the parent to stop the children from going too far. This job is not to participate in the revelry, cavort with the coeds, be one of the gang. This job is not the “designated driver.” This job is to make sure all the others can drive home safely. If a person wants this job, they are not the right person for the job. If a person lobbies for the job they are disqualified, prima facie, from the key qualification for the job and that is the backbone to rise above criticism, set limits, keep the limits and act like an adult. Bernanke lacks this key characteristic.

Mr. Obama's mistake in this selection will be excused as the act of a politician. However, it speaks volumes about his economic naivete and very limited leadership skills.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Harry S. Truman

A faithful reader and commentator of TheFundamentals now becomes a welcome contributor. Here are his remarks about our 33rd president. They are quite remarkable. Mr. Truman, who lived from 1884 to 1972, would have received the seal of approval from the founding fathers. Please read the following:

Harry Knew the Fundamentals

Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many important decisions regarding our nation's history as any of the other 42 Presidents. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.

The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri . His wife had inherited the house from her mother and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there.

When he retired from office in 1952, his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $112.56 a month. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an 'allowance' and, later, a pension of $25,000 per year.

After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There were no Secret Service persons following them. When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, "You don't want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it's not for sale."

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, "I don't consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise."

As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.

Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale.

Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, “My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there's hardly any difference.”

TheFundamentals would only add the following: This contributor credits Wikipedia as the source for many of the facts in this essay. TheFundamentals also verified certain of this information at www.snopes.com and would add the following data from this site, an excerpt from Mr. Truman’s book, Mr. Citizen:

“I turned down all of those offers. I knew that they were not interested in hiring Harry Truman, the person, but what they wanted to hire was the former President of the United States. I could never lend myself to any transaction, however respectable, that would commercialize on the prestige and the dignity of the office of the Presidency.”

President Truman could have written TheFundamentals. Instead, he lived them.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fundamentals at Work

TheFundamentals is committed to financial responsibility and economic freedom. Many of the principles, values and objectives that we have been discussing in TheFundamentals this year have been captured in an informative article published last Friday in the Wall Street Journal. It is written by Emily Esfahani Smith and entitled "Fiscal Conservatism and the Soul of the GOP."

Please go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203550604574361014098225036.html to read this article. Please forward it to as many other interested parties as possible.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Journalism 101

We are reminded of the importance of skepticism in journalists with the death of Robert Novak.

A government that separates and pits group against group is doomed. Fundamentals are abandoned. Beliefs discarded. Values modified. Entitlement rules. Hop on to the train.

The organizer runs as a consensus builder and promptly abandons the campaign rhetoric to follow the embedded, clueless and destructive leadership of his party.

Who will raise the questions? Who will use their megaphones? Who will use the big budgets to challenge the government? Who will do the research and analysis? ABC? PBS? NBC? CNN?

They lack the cojones. They don’t even get the basic requirement of their job – question, question, question. Be skeptical. Raise doubts. Derail the train. Be unpopular. Be nasty when necessary.

The gang plays to small sound bites and brief visuals. They cram 8 or 10 segments into their news shows when they need to address basic, fundamental issues in depth. Jerry Springer runs the editorial content. Find the silliness. Capture the weird. Cult of the personality. Get the big names. Hours for BSpears and MJackson and self esteem. Minutes, sometimes seconds, usually nothing, for debt and deficits.

Where is the analysis of who wrote HR 3200? HR 1? Where were the skeptics when GWBush and AGreenspan were doubling the national debt? Who challenged the massive and unproductive “intelligence gathering” fiasco run out of Washington DC? It continues. The complete lack of strategic modeling in international affairs? Where is the analysis of the destruction of Detroit? California? Philadelphia? Chicago? Who questions anything now? What happened to the entire state of Michigan?

When was the last time you read an essay about the need for all public pensions to move to defined contribution plans? What political party supports such a move? What journalist even understands the issue?

If you challenge these basics, question the fundamentals you may not get that wink, that nod, that interview, that special phone call.

Your parent company may find itself shut out of the next big stimulus plan. Then what?

Robert Novak saw it clear; wrote/spoke it straight. Roots in Joliet, Illinois. He loved a free society. He did not drink the kool-aid and he didn't suffer the fools who served it.

Who will do his job when there is no one left to even set the example? Train the young.

Who will question when it is uncomfortable to question?

Who will challenge and provoke the gasbags?

Who will replace Bob Novak?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Forced Change

These essays, comments and observations are offered under the marquee caption of “TheFundamentals.” The contributors to these commentaries share, for the most part, a set of beliefs, values, principles and behavioral characteristics that they know as fundamentals. High on the list of fundamentals is the principle that each of us must manage our own financial condition responsibly. This principle is best characterized by limiting our spending to what we earn and have and having a rainy day fund. If we borrow we must be able to repay the debt.

This principle has been violated by individuals, families, communities and, most spectacularly, the elected representatives to national government. The malaise that besets the nation is rooted in its promiscuous financial behavior as well as other forms of deterioration in adherence to the beliefs, values, principles and behavioral characteristics that are time tested for millennia. That, simply, is why TheFundamentals is offered.

Can we change? Of course. Will we change? Doubtful. So, what will happen? More than likely we will be forced to change by outside factors and influences. Here is a small example of forced change:

For Immediate Release Contact: Peter Scales
Phone: 312-744-1821
E-mail:
Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Monday, August 17 to Be Reduced-Service Day for City
The City of Chicago is reminding residents that Monday, August 17 will be a reduced-service day for the City of Chicago – City Hall, public libraries, health clinics, and most city offices will be closed.

Most services not directly related to public safety will not be provided on that day, including refuse pickup. However, all public safety services, including police and fire, will remain at full strength and will not be impacted by the reduced-service day.

As part of the 2009 budget, three reduced-service days were planned for 2009, which will be unpaid for all affected City employees: the Friday after Thanksgiving; Christmas Eve; and New Year's Eve. The City Council recently approved moving the reduced-service day planned for New Year’s Eve to Monday, August 17.

On the three reduced-service days, the City will employ the minimum amount of staff needed to provide essential city services. Police and Fire Department operations will not be affected, as the reduced-service days do not apply to any sworn employees or other direct public safety providers. City Hall, libraries, health clinics, senior service centers and other City offices will be closed.

Refuse will also not be collected on August 17. Residents who receive regular city collection services on Mondays should expect their collection to be made on the following day. Some other customers may also experience a one-day delay in refuse pickup. Street sweeping will also not occur on Monday.

The 2009 budget anticipates saving $8.3 million due to the reduced-service days across all funds.

"Every dollar we save from these measures helps to save jobs, and in the long-term, maintain services for Chicagoans," said Mayor Richard M. Daley. "This plan relies on most of our civilian employees to be part of the solution to our very serious budget challenges. I want to thank them again for their sacrifice."

In addition to the reduced service days, all non-union employees were asked to take a series of furlough days and unpaid holidays. Most non-sworn union employees agreed to take similar unpaid time off. These savings are expected to reduce the City’s 2009 budget deficit by more than $34 million.

The national recession continues to have a significant impact on the City of Chicago’s budget. And despite efforts to reduce costs and better manage government, the City’s 2009 revenue shortfall is expected to be about $300 million.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Your Roots are Showing

One can learn a lot by looking at what a person did and did not do in their previous job(s.) Ditto for looking at how they dealt with past problems and issues. Let’s take a brief look:

1. Has anyone looked at the finances of the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois with the thought that maybe, just maybe, the organizer is taking the country to the same fiscal and financial place that the boss mayor and corrupt state politicians have taken Chicago and Illinois?

2. Why does the organizer tell the government agencies to quit with the trips to Las Vegas and Orlando and go to places like Chicago and New York?

3. Here are two brief excerpts from the same document: “Congress shall make no law….abridging the freedom of speech” and “I…will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.” Doesn’t this mean that the oath taker is supposed to “protect and defend” the people when they opine about something? Is this his track record?

4. Let’s look casually at who voted for the organizer and casually judge if they are benefiting from that vote: Blacks voted overwhelmingly for the organizer and are overwhelmingly benefiting. Hispanics gave the organizer a huge plurality and are benefiting. White women gave the organizer a majority and are NOT benefiting. White men did not vote for the organizer and are NOT benefiting. Union members, government employees and seniors voted for the organizer. Two out of those three are benefiting big time.

5. At least one, maybe two, of the above groups will probably come to their senses in the next 1 - 3 years. You guess which one/two?

6. Simple question: If we can’t afford to pay for the health care for the older citizens who paid the premiums to the government over the years to have it available for them when they need it, why is the organizer seeking to provide coverage to people who have not paid the premiums for it? Isn’t this either a form of fraud or simple contract abrogation?

7. Congress. What’s with the fetish for private jets? What happened to acting green and behaving sensibly? What happened to energy savings? Did we really vote for people who ran on the promise of buying more jets for themselves? What’s the likelihood that the organizer will veto any such wasteful spending? What is his record on wasteful spending?

8. Deficits and Debt. What is the track record of the organizer and the top five power players in the USCongress on debt control and debt repayment?

9. More on the organizer. He has made certain vague representations about health care reform. He says that there will be “no problem” with keeping our current insurance, our doctor choices and our treatment options. Let’s make sure that the health care reform legislation includes wording that guarantees doctor choice, insurance options and treatment alternatives. Let’s get it in writing. Ask the people of Illinois if we should get it in writing.

10. Who besides the government employees and a few benefiting politicians think that it is a GOOD idea for people who work for us to establish protections against us in the form of union (SEIU and AFSCME) contracts and strength in numbers? Answer hint: If you want to see how this cabal plays out in the future try to build, manufacture or assemble something/anything in Chicago or Illinois. If you want to really see how it plays out, vacation for a week or two in Detroit!

11. There is a new big scandal in Illinois about politicians exercising clout to promote admissions to the University of Illinois of under qualified but connected students. Did anyone check out any involvement on the part of the organizer in this scheme?

While asking these questions you may wish to check out the roots of Alexrod and Emmanuel. Just for fun, of course. One last comment about newspapers and other media who have the job of asking and looking at roots. Any one of the failing newspapers could rally subscriptions and readership if they would address two or more of the above topics in their communities. Further, all they need do is start publishing the names, addresses and annual pension payments of retired government employees in their cities, villages, counties and states. No brainer! Readership will rise.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stand Clear

The Secretary of State travels with an invisible companion who pops up every once in a while when she is tired or just plain doesn’t care about acting any more. So some poor schmuck in the Congo asked a question that apparently peeved Ms. Cool and, bang, out popped Chucky with that evil snarl and dripping sarcasm. Diplomacy. When all comes to pass it may just be that the organizers most significant accomplishment was to remove Mrs. William J. Clinton from the possibility of higher office. Stand aside.

Arlen Specter. TheFundamentals could be charitable and say something like, “C’mon. He’s had some health problems and he’s getting a bit long in the tooth so let’s cut the fellow a bit of slack. He is not sure if he wants to be with the party in power or the party out of power. He thinks he can keep on going – blah, blah, blah.” It’s all crap. He should retire. If the people of Pennsylvania have an alternative candidate who is literate and bathes regularly, vote for him/her. Arlen, “There is no fool like an old fool.” Get out of the way.

Chris Dodd. A.k.a. “I didn’t know I was getting a good deal.” Stand aside. Going down.

Dorothy Rabinowitz, The Wall Street Journal. “The president has a problem. For, despite a great election victory, Mr. Obama, it becomes ever clearer, knows little about Americans. He knows the crowds—he is at home with those. He is a stranger to the country's heart and character.”

Pelosi/Rangel/Waxman/Frank. They may not have been ready for prime time but they sure are writing the book on how to outdo the party out of power (POOP) in moving their party in power (PIP) to powerless status. These four bring new meaning to the biblical beasts from the Book of Revelation. Can we limit the damage until they end up in the dustbin? That is the $64 question. In the meantime, new POOP, do nothing except to make sure that every antic, every announcement, every opportunity for exposure for these four is given maximum coverage. Stand aside.

Speaking of exposure. What is with the US of A and its effectiveness in locating the most narcissistic politicians for leadership positions? How did we develop this talent scouting ability? Here is a free suggestion for FOX or one of the other networks for a new show: American Narcissist. The format would be a bit of a takeoff on the old “This is Your Life.” Bill Clinton would be an excellent replacement for Ralph Edwards. Bill is so clueless that he could present vignettes from the narcissistic guests’ lives and Bill would think that these self possessed folks were really on their game. The joke would be on the guests and the host. After presenting the guests, the audience could vote based on the standard of, “Is this guest more or less narcissistic than Bill?” When the people finally vote for a more narcissistic personality, POOP can run them for the presidency. That’s what POOP did in 2008.

Camille Paglia, http://www.salon.com/ “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom I used to admire for her smooth aplomb under pressure, has clearly gone off the deep end with her bizarre rants about legitimate town-hall protests by American citizens. She is doing grievous damage to the party and should immediately step down.” “I just don't get it. Why the insane rush to pass a bill, any bill, in three weeks? And why such an abject failure by the Obama administration to present the issues to the public in a rational, detailed, informational way? The U.S. is gigantic; many of our states are bigger than whole European nations. The bureaucracy required to institute and manage a nationalized health system here would be Byzantine beyond belief and would vampirically absorb whatever savings Obama thinks could be made. And the transition period would be a nightmare of red tape and mammoth screw-ups, which we can ill afford with a faltering economy.”

Jon Corzine. A.k.a. “The Rod Blagojevich of the East.” Tough to decide which state is the most corrupt – Illinois or New Jersey? TheFundamentals does not think that it is important that a winner be designated. What’s important is that Jon can follow in Rod’s footsteps and find numerous ways to humiliate himself after he’s gone. In the words of Ken “Hawk” Harrelson. “He gone.”

Free advice to POOP: “Don’t let PIP retreat. Strategize so that PIP keeps on truckin’. The cliff is looming. Pedal to the metal. Full speed ahead. By the way POOP, if you ever do get back in power TheFundamentals modestly suggests you ignore all seniority precedent and choose leaders who subscribe to fundamental values (PAY DOWN THE DEBT) and self imposed term limis.

Source: Napoleon Bonaparte: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Health Care -- Do No Harm

Let’s take a brief look at the situation the organizer and his team and the leadership in congress have created for themselves and then spend most of our time on how real reform can, hopefully, be attained. (H. R. 3200 can be viewed via the link at the upper left side of this page.)

There are two objectives being promoted by the above groups: Coverage for the uninsured and health care cost reduction for the insured. These are contradictory objectives. The former will cost big money and the latter is supposed to save money but contemporary government has no track record of being able to accomplish a cost reduction mission. Further, there is great uncertainty about the service reductions that will occur as a result of the cost savings. So, best thing is to lead slowly where the uncertainty exists and try to accomplish some stated objectives. What are these?

The cost savings are reported to be in “the hundreds of billions of dollars.” Who knows? The source of these savings is reported to be threefold: Elimination of fraud and waste, technology applications to recordkeeping and procedures and reduction of payments for doctors, insurance companies, hospitals and pharmaceuticals. The latter component of savings causes the most angst among the older folk. In any objective environment – business, home budgeting and other for profit activities the boss(es) would insist that the implementers establish budget objectives with defined plans for specific activities and report periodically on a progress. If the organizer and his team had any real life experience they would do so also. Here’s how they can do it.

Lead with a cost savings plan. State the intent. “We know we can spend more money but we need to prove that we can implement cost savings changes without major deterioration to the services most people are quite satisfied with.” Layout the specific areas of fraud and waste, technology improvement and reduced provider payments. Set dollar budget objectives and time periods for attainment and hire an independent auditor to track, analyze and report to the public every six months in simple, understandable terms. Not government speak. No save and create jobs vagueness. Specific plans with specific time periods and independent review and reporting.

Step two. Insured bill of rights. Clearly people who have paid premiums for insurance over the years have a contractual right to benefits when needed. This is the concern of both Medicare and private insured’s. The major areas of concern are: doctor choice, treatment option alternatives and continuation of private insurance alternatives. These concerns must be met with legislation that guarantees these options, choices and alternatives. The real problem is who will write the legislation? Neither congress with its corruption nor the lobbyists with their bias can be trusted. Who will speak for the insured is a tough question to answer. TheFundamentals is open to suggestions.

Step three. There are two major areas of tort reform that can bring reasonable change to health care and produce costs savings if managed properly. These are: loser pays and caps on non economic damages. These changes will be opposed by the lawyer groups. The opposition will be emotionally based. But some degree of change can be insisted upon as others are also making sacrifice. There will be no change to the economic damage claim law. But there will be the positive results from added cost/benefit analysis consideration given to marginal litigation and real savings in eliminating the large emotionally based judgments for non economic damages.

The above plan can be implemented, measured and observed over two, probably three, years. Then pass the public option for uninsured citizens and do it with the same degree of goal setting and measurement/reporting by an independent auditor to the public. Make it mandatory if you want and provide a large deductible option for the risk takers. You may even want a trial period during which the public option is made available to federal government employees. The legislation must be budget neutral (i.e. pay for itself and not tied into any of the above savings, if attained.) Pay for it with new taxes on the higher earners.

This is not a perfect solution but it is light years ahead of the mess created by Obama, his advisers and the leadership of congress. It will take very little time to determine if this government can accomplish visible stated objectives and sustain them under the microscope of reporting and the real life experience of those affected by the change. Your comments are most welcome. This is important stuff!

Monday, August 10, 2009

What's Yours is Mine

The National Taxpayers Union provides an analysis of IRS data displaying taxes paid by income level in the US. Please go to http://www.ntu.org/main/page.php?PageID=6 to see this analysis for the years 1999 to 2007.

In 2007, 70% of the federal personal taxes were paid by 10% of the taxpayers (voters). Or, to look at it from the other side, 90% of the taxpayers (voters) paid only 30% of the taxes. What are the implications of this imbalance in taxes paid/benefits received? What would the natural result be of a one-man, one-vote democracy where the vast majority of the voters can vote for candidates who will establish laws and rules and spending priorities and government distributions which take money from a few and distribute it to those who voted for them after scalping a nice vig for themselves?

Does the USConstitution support a political system based on democratic majorities that de facto legalize a “Robin Hood” form of taxation and redistribution?

It may well be that the current coalition of virtually all black Americans, a majority of Hispanic Americans and significant support from white female Americans has now tipped the scale of the American electorate to the point where more people can vote for elected officials who will pass legislation requiring the government to provide them with either direct employment or substitute (unemployment) wages, retirement and health care benefits, food and housing allowances and subsidies, automobile trade-in credits, education vouchers and other forms of payments, subsidies and grants that are funded by the tax payments of a small minority of the electorate.

A fundamental is that any minority, regardless of its determination – racial, ethnic, economic, cultural, societal or whatever is deemed to nevertheless have certain protections, even if their numbers are de minimis. This is fundamental. No one has the right to tax a person into subjugation. No low income group has the right to vote themselves excessive payments that are funded by a higher income group. That is nothing short of theft authorized by the law. What is the difference between the armed king’s (the current guys ain’t no Robin Hood) men showing up at the village and stealing the harvested crops and livestock and using it for their own purposes and the IRS and state and local taxing bodies taking 50%, 60% or more of citizen’s income and giving it to their bureaucratic employees and voters who support such programs, subsidies and wealth redistributions?

Democracy is more than one man – one vote. It requires a working, taxpaying electorate, common sense traditions and limits on government activities and it requires strong protections for all minorities to keep their wages from confiscation by arbitrary redistribution techniques. This fundamental was always unwritten. Now, it needs to be written. In the form of an amendment(s) to the USConstitution. What is the alternative? France? Sweden?

There is a strong seductive appeal to taxing the bejesus out of the better-to-do, particularly after the excesses and consequences of the last several decades. TheFundamentals believes that the US has been on a self destructive past for over 40 years (we were there in Ann Arbor, MI in May 1964 when LBJ announced the great society.) To follow up the eight destructive years of GWBush and his mostly supportive congress with four (and possibly eight) years of the current occupant and a phenomenally exaggerated group of liberal democrats is a certain path to middle class suicide.

There is no leader or group of leaders in the US at present who understand or adhere to the simple fundamental of setting and keeping limits. Setting and maintaining limits is a fundamental of life. Greed, gluttony and the arrogance of US political leaders has placed the republic at the precipice, if not in the throes, of destruction.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Self Destructive Behavior

It has taken TheFundamentals a while (sorry) to come to a very obvious conclusion about politicians and, particularly, the so called political leaders in this grand land of ours. They are self destructive. We all know that they are greedy, gluttonous in a variety of ways and, spectacularly, prideful. They feel that they are irreplaceable and worthy of all the special treatments that they vote for themselves. But hidden behind the glass doors and windows of their homes is a phenomenal commitment to self destruction. For eight years we wondered where GWB, DeLay, Hastert and Cheney would go with their focus on protecting the country from terrorists at all costs. They did not care if they broke the country in the process. They loved the greedy and self dealing activities at FNMA and FHLMC as long as they could crow about the home ownership statistics in the country. We didn’t hear them yapping about the promiscuous behavior of Greenspan at the Fed with his easy money and endless supply of low interest loans for everyone. They fabricated fears and threats and bombs in the cities and photographing you through your underwear if you wanted to fly home to see Mom. Then they hit the wall at about 98 MPH in 2006 and topped it off with a special home television show on the evening of November 4, 2008. The American people tossed them out on their collective butts. It was more a special tar and feathering for their foolish ways than it had to do with the nonsense that the media spouted about change and wonderment at the skinny kid straight out of Daley’s political machine and the corruption of Illinois politics.

So, here we are folks. New actors on the stage. Mostly the same props and settings but a slightly altered script. Less on the Muslim terrorists. More focus on the home front. Money flowing out the door as fast the presses produce it. Cheney said deficits don’t matter. This gang says debt does not matter. They are the new superheroes flying around in their polluting jets; yapping about their scare schemes and getting something for nothing for their voters in the big cities and the unions and the government employment ranks. They have learned nothing from the fools they replaced. They think the people want them to spend, spend, spend. Give away more of everything to people who are not even in the country legally. Get more voters for the next election. Build crap all over the place so that the fools in congress can go home and crow about the crap that they are building and the jobs that they are creating and saving. They want health care for everyone when almost everyone knows that we can’t afford the health care that is being provided to the people who are actually paying for it. So give it to the ones without it and then they will vote for us because you who have paid for it are a gonna get screwed in the very near future. They have pissed off the seniors! We’d sure like to see the page in Axelrod’s play book that says it’s a good idea to piss off the seniors.

Oh boy oh boy oh boy. What is it about prideful, gluttonous, greedy people and self destruction? Could it be that pride and gluttony and greed lead to self destruction? Homer Simpson could figure that one out. Could it be that we have created a class of politician that is immune to frugality and honesty and humility? Oh boy oh boy oh boy. This will be fun to watch the new gang self destruct in record time. Too bad the price for admission is so high.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Setting Limits - 3 American Basics

Should there be limits to:

1. Borrowing Money?

Article 1, Section 8 of the USConsititution delegates specific and limited powers to the United States. All other powers are reserved to the states and the people. Paragraph 2 of this Section reads…

“The Congress shall have Power to borrow money on the credit of the United States”

Does that wording mean that the Congress can borrow the country into bankruptcy? What would common sense say? One of the many reasons for the nasty split from England was the arbitrary manner in which the crown and its representatives forced financial burdens, taxes and debt on the thirteen colonies/states. Will it take a specific amendment to the USConstitution limiting debt to a sum certain or a relative percent to stop the reckless federal debt buildup? Why is there no common sense among the elected representatives and senators of the US? The American Basic is simple - borrow and repay. No perpetual debt buildup; no continual spending in excess of resources. Debt limits and debt repayment are an American Basic. It is time to require them in the USConstitution.

2. Staying in Office Way Too Long?

There was no term limit wording in the original Constitution. Why? The founders believed in self discipline and in the rotation of representative offices among local leaders and gentry. Even though the concept was discussed, the wording was deemed to be unnecessary because the founders were gentlemen and gentlemen did not self impose themselves ad nauseam through a corrupt ingratiation process. The founders did not envision a Ted Kennedy (47 years); Richard Byrd (50 years); Charles Rangel (38 years) and John McCain (27 years) making a career out of occupying these positions. These fools are like zombies from the Living Dead movies. There is a dope from Pennsylvania (29 years) who has even switched parties twice to get elected. What better proof can a man offer of his guile and arrogance than to think he is not replaceable? Term limits are an American Basic. They now need to be an amendment to the USConstitution.

3. Dual Citizenship?

Where in the USConstituion is there any enabling wording for dual citizenship? Can you be an American and a Canadian citizen? American and Israeli? American and German? How many passports can an American hold? Here is the wording of the US Oath of Citizenship:

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

“So help me God” is now optional as are the phrases about bearing arms and performing noncombatant service. When a new citizen renounces and abjures all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign state, what are they doing with dual citizenship and multiple passports? It is an American Basic that USCitizenship is unique, requires uncompromising fidelity which means the citizen forsakes all other allegiances.

Sensible borrowing with repayment, self imposed term limits and no dual citizenship are American Basics. They are examples of setting and adhering to limits. The federal government in the human form of very self centered, prideful and greedy individuals has violated each of these basics. The power rests with the people not the government. This federal government at its three levels – executive, legislative and judicial is violating these and many other American Basics. On November 2, 2010 it is time for the taxpaying citizens to require elected representatives to honor American Basics. It's fundamental.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Setting Limits

The concept of setting limits is about as basic and fundamental to human conduct as is the very essence of life and death. In order to attain a positive life experience; in order to enjoy liberty, freedom and attain any form of self fulfillment and in order for individuals and communities to seek and attain the “pursuit of happiness” it is an absolute requirement that limits are set and observed.

Limits are as common to the human experience as is breathing. As youngsters our parents set limits. We are instructed to do certain things and not do certain things as part of a learning process that both provides safety and security as well as a development foundation for a healthy and long life. Eating ones vegetables, doing homework before television, avoiding drugs and alcohol and other self destructive behaviors are just limits that are for our own good.

Our religions address the basics of why we are here and for what purpose, if any. They also teach us about good and bad behavior. Many of us learn the Ten Commandments – ten limits that are dos and don’ts for our own individual benefit as much as the well being of the communities in which we live and the proper respect for our Creator.

Through limits we learn to support and respect others – “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

We grow and develop and learn the rules of science and nature. Natural limits that provide us with food and shelter and many forms of bounty. We learn how the very elements of our environment behave and we study them to use their predictive activities to our benefit (usually) and our detriment (sometimes.)

We learn that there are destructive behaviors in human conduct such as the seven deadly sins and we are taught the seductive appeal and destructive consequences of these activities which are nothing more than the abuse or ignorance of limits. Gluttony is an abuse of self control. Greed is the substitution of one’s self interest over the community interest. Pride is rampant self love in place of concern and care about others in society. Each of the great destructive behaviors occurs in the void or ignorance of limit setting and adherence.

Setting limits and observing limits is as fundamental as caring for another human being, helping out someone who is less fortunate and teaching values to a youngster. Any society must set limits in order to survive and thrive. And society must limit and contain the destructive behaviors of others who may be put in a position of power and therefore attain the opportunity to do harm.

We study history to see what happens when limits are set and observed. And what happens when they are not set and observed. We study the lessons of history to learn about what is significant and what is insignificant; what works and what doesn’t work; what is beneficial and what is detrimental. We observe and study the activities of specific humans to develop an understanding, a lesson, in how to improve our own lives. We trust the experience of older people to teach us these lessons and guide us as we find our way.

In the political environment setting limits can also be the very fundamental of a long and lasting compact between the people and the government. In the US of A we are blessed with two of the most fundamental examples of a positive statement about setting limits in establishing a governing authority and in maintaining the needed level of ongoing limits to guarantee the continuance of this positive compact. These examples are the Declaration of Independence and the USConstitution. These guides were given to us by our predecessors who lived under difficult and abusive conditions. They contain the lessons of limit setting that are as valuable to us as the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule and the Seven Deadly Sins.

In coming essays TheFundamentals will look at the limits set in these documents. We will look at why the limits were set. We will also examine our record in following the limits. And we will look at the consequences of betraying or ignoring these limits.