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


Friday, February 25, 2011

Civics 101: Lesson for Elected Representatives

Running scared to Illinois. What absolute irony. But what an outrageous violation of the US Constitution. How could that be you say? Well, let’s look at the wording of the constitution that is pertinent to these scaredy cats who will not show up to vote on legislation that is waiting for their vote. After all, the scaredy cats were elected to their jobs in what is known as a representative democratic form of government. It is one of the ways to form a republican form of government. Here’s the wording of the US constitution:

Section 4 - Republican government

“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.”

So the constitution guarantees every state a “republican” form of government. What does that mean? How do you define a “republican” form of government?

Here’s how: republic n 1 : a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and is usually a president; also : a nation or other political unit having such a government 2 : a government in which supreme power is held by the citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives governing according to law; also : a nation or other political unit having such a form of government Source: NMW

So, it seems to mean a government where the “supreme power,” which we thinks means final decision making authority, rests with the people entitled to vote.

So, does this mean that some of the people who the people elect to represent them can cut and run to avoid a situation in which they are afraid they will lose the vote because the people have elected too many representatives who are inclined to vote the other way? Did you follow that sentence?

We think you get the idea. If the constitution says you have to have a republican form of government and you elect representatives and they, on their own, decide to not show up because they will not like the result of the final vote on the issue(s) in front of them, what should be done?

It seems pretty clear to us. Time for the US supreme court to order the elected representatives to show up and vote or be removed. If they don’t show up (believe us on this point, they will if so ordered) then remove the recalcitrant elected representatives from office, by judicial writ, and order new elections. So, file the lawsuit. And let’s get rolling. The lawyers need the work.

This is what is called the rule of law. Not the rule of silly, running scared politicians hanging out in one of America’s most corrupt states – Illinois. It is not coincidental that these scaredy cat Midwestern democrats run to Illinois. Illinois elects only scaredy cat democrats. Birds of a feather…. One of these days, the few remaining private sector taxpaying workers in Illinois will wake up and throw the scaredy cats out. By then, the state will look a lot like Michigan and Chicago will look a lot like Detroit. And Jesse Jackson will be overseeing the ruins.

Geez. You’d think these people would learn. The founding fathers had all this stuff figured out. Why do we let these little scaredy cat minions behave so badly?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Is The Democratic Party Completely Corrupt?

TheFundamentals defines corruption as the process of paying more for a good or service than the value received or than is available elsewhere. In other words, it is any part of any process that causes the excessive payment for goods and services.

So, we ask the question, just how corrupt have the Democrats; what appears to be many Democrats, become?

Not a pretty question. And, the answering process is not pretty either.

Here are the issues at hand.

Why are the Democrats and the public employee unions so self focused on their “bargaining” rights and their “work rules” and paychecks, benefits and pensions when most Americans who work in the private sector have incurred significant cutbacks, unemployment and belt tightening and adjusted to these unattractive changes? Where is their willingness to participate with their private sector neighbors(a) in these unattractive but externally dictated changes? Why do they take the position that they are immune from such changes?

Union membership in the private sector is very low. Pension plans in the private sector are almost nonexistent. Most all private sector workers contribute heavily to their benefit programs and, in many cases, have to pay for their benefits out of their wages. And, unemployment these days is largely limited to private sector employees.

So what gives with the public employee unions? What gives with the Democratic Party? If they are our “neighbors” why do they not wish to be neighborly? Why do they say to the private sector workers who are the very backbone of America’s economic system, “NO,” when it comes to cutting back and giving up the very same wages, benefits and “workers rights” that have already been removed from the private sector workers? Why is this one Party so concerned about keeping the “workers rights” and wages and benefits and union dues? Where were they when they were being removed from the private sector?

Why the apparent double standard? Do they think that the private sector folk who are struggling should keep funding the paychecks, union dues, benefits and pensions of the public sector employees at a time when the private sector has already made big cutbacks? If so, is this fair? Reasonable? Or just plain corrupt? Let’s take a look at the one of their geographical strongholds.

The state of Illinois is not unique with its long history of corruption. It is not unique with its storied past of gangsters and mobsters bleeding the public with extortion schemes and union connections and “protection” payments and all sorts of ways to raise the cost of doing almost anything without adding any real economic gain in the process. No, it is not unique but it darn sure is at the head of the class in embracing corrupt forms of human activity in their many manifestations.

The diminutive and intellectually challenged departing mayor (hmmnn, what’s with this pattern?) of the city of Chicago cut one of the worse deals in municipal finance when he sold the city’s parking meters to a gang that out negotiated him and still is chuckling all the way to the bank. Pretty funny when one sleazy guy depants another you’re thinking? We don’t think so. Because it’s the retailer who loses business because his driving customers don’t want to get ripped off (now they pay dollars for minutes instead of dimes or quarters) just for the privilege of parking for a few minutes when they go shopping. We don’t find that funny. Nor do we find it funny that a major asset that belongs to the citizens and was a source of predictable income for the taxpaying public to secure needed public services is now turned into a corrupt, over costly burden on everyday commercial activities. Who or what in the system stood up for the taxpayers and blew the whistle on this deal? Did the mayor? Did the city council? Did the attorney general? Did the many local and state judges? Not a one. And guess what they all have in common, almost to a man/woman? They are all Democrats.

Where are the elected representatives of surrounding Midwestern states running to as they corrupt the “republican form of government” guaranteed by the US Constitution? Iowa? Missouri? Kentucky? No to all. They are running to the Mecca of Midwestern corruption and why wouldn’t they? Idi Amin did not seek refuge in a democracy. He fled with his swag to Libya. In the United States you tuck your tail between your legs and scurry like a rodent to Illinois. You are welcome here. If there is one place that is sympathetic to your selfish, self focused “neighborly” ways it’s the corrupt politicians, bureaucrats, union leaders and special interest of Illinois. Land of Lincoln, baloney. Makes one regurgitate to think of connecting a courageous man with these cowards.

Frankly we could care less if Illinois wishes to self destruct in massive piles of debt and corrupt public activities. We just don’t think that hard working, taxpaying private sector employed citizens should have to finance the process. Someone has to stand up to these thugs and get rid of them.

We did not invent the term “thugocracy.” But to whomever did, we would like to make a slight modification and now refer to Democrats as “thugocrats.” At least until some reform movement starts in this cabal and rids it of its corrupt leadership and severs its ties to corrupt unions and corrupt special interests.

Ps: One of Illinois thugs is RDurbin, US Senator. His elevator is not reaching the top floors either but read his plea to support corruption under the guise of helping working Americans. And, when doing so, ask yourself this question, “Why doesn’t thugocrat Durbin stand up for the working Americans who are being forced to pay for the corruption instead of the recipients of the corruption?” http://action.dickdurbin.com/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=258&track=adv_wi14&tag=wi14_em022311

(a) Their leader, from Illinois, and the president, has chosen to refer to the striking, work avoiding public employees, as our “neighbors.”  Pretty rich, huh?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Troubling News = Good News

Understanding events sometimes means recognizing that things are not always as they seem to be.

Political turmoil is not a bad thing. Not when it results in a return to the fundamentals.

Economic turmoil is not a bad thing. Not when it results in a return to the fundamentals.

Financial turmoil is not a bad thing. Not when it results in a return to the fundamentals.

Are you beginning to get the idea?

Finding the truth; the real cause and effects; mid and long term trends is very difficult in a government/media dominated society. What you hear; what you see; what you read and what the media outlets are feeding you 24/7, if you are paying attention, may just not be even remotely close to a depiction of what is happening. We know it is hard to believe folks, but what comes out of the mouths of politicians and their sycophantic parasites in the media can be a tad propagandistic.

We will, just briefly, repeat a few of the examples we have pointed out in the past.

PBS, and its federal wet nurse teat, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, is now using their federally funded time, salaries, equipment and all else to encourage its viewers, who may just have a slight bias towards these broadcasts, to lobby for more money to the teat. As we have pointed out, this is conflict of interest. It is the same as if a congressmen or a senator voted public funds for themselves to run their campaign for reelection. Would that be permissible? Would anyone see corruption in that act?

The elimination of union representation and bargaining for government employees. Some apparently think it is their RIGHT to such representation. It is not. There is no right to belong to any union. It is not a freedom or an entitlement. It can be granted by the people or it can be refused by the people. There is a civics lesson here for the entitled government employee mentality. But, alas, the entitled employee seems to have distanced themselves from basic civic lessons. We call basic civic lessons – fundamentals.

The world, or for that matter, the United States, or for that matter, any city or any state in the United States, or county or township or parish or whatever, will do just fine without public employee unions. The only really big challenge resulting from the elimination of public unions will be the need for voters anywhere to start to review the resumes of candidates more closely to determine if those who seek leadership in official positions have the training, the experience and the financial background to manage the employees in the governmental unit(s) they oversee. At this point the track record of the performance of many of these elected officials is not all that good.

So, we conclude that turmoil that will bring change is not the bad news. It is the good news. It does, however, carry a component of responsibility.

Now, for whom may it not be the good news? Well, we can approach the answer to this question in one of two ways. We can look at the big picture. Or we can be specific and name names. Which should we do?

We will name names because it is more fun.

Rahm Emanuel will not do well without public employee unions. Don’t count on him seeking to disband the public unions.

Ditto for Jerry Brown in California and for Cuomo in New York.

People like the Clintons would be lost without public employee unions. Senators like Schumer, Durbin and the nincompoop, Reid, are not really up to offering any form of leadership responsibility on their own. Ditto for McCain, Lindsey Graham and Barbara Boxer. They need unions. Unfortunately.

You’re beginning to get our drift. Managing government is not a lot different than any other management job – be it your household; the neighborhood hardware store or even a big outfit like General Motors or Wal Mart.

By the way, there is one more common thread weaving its way among these observations. Americans have been addicted to supporting individuals with legal backgrounds; some call these folk attorneys, to these official jobs. It is not a coincidence that this addiction needs rehabilitation. This year, 2011, would be a good time to introduce a 12 step program to get attorneys out of elected office and back into the workforce, if there are jobs for them. Our simple solution, call it step #1, is to outlaw any federal funds for any law student grants or loans.

So, you see, economic and political and, even, financial turmoil does not need to be “bad news.” It just means we all need to see what is going on and then recognize what needs to be done in the new environment. Politicians, bureaucrats and the media will not provide this enlightenment. That’s why we are here.

It also means that we, the people, need to raise our standards for electing people to manage government. Stop letting candidates buy your vote. Instead, make the candidate earn your vote with a resume of real performance. After all, who is really responsible for tolerating crappy politicians and gobs of overpaid, unionized government employees?

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Party in Power Implodes

And who would have thought that the first real display of cowardice and weakness would come from Madison, Wisconsin, home of Buckingham U. Badger. In this town where the bold fear to tread; well, at least the visiting teams from Ohio, we are now witnessing some incredible and unpredictable events:

1. The elected representatives of the Democratic Party have vacated their jobs in the state legislature. They have simply not shown up for work. Apparently left town, en masse. Organized by their “leaders” because none of them will go to the legislature to vote on some legislation that a real leader has proposed to deal with a large budget deficit. They just left town in the futile hope that there will then not be enough of the other folk to meet a quorum call.

2. The hired teachers have abandoned their classrooms. These self described, most noble of all; those entrusted with teaching the youth of Wisconsin, have displayed for all to see that their most important priority has nothing to do with being in the classroom doing their job. Oh no. Their number one priority is themselves – their paychecks; their benefits; their days off; their union that entitles them to all these goodies; their definition of their working conditions and (drum roll please) their big fat (but don’t expect me to contribute) pension checks!

Who would have thought that a nice place like Madison, Wisconsin would be the stage for the implosion of the Democratic Party? Its elected officials running through the fields of the dairy farms, scared silly of showing up to vote. Its entitled class of teachers calling in sick so that they can demonstrate at the state capitol (heck its right there in town; many of them can walk to the place) and show to the entire country how entitled they really think they are. Here is what the rest of the country and a whole bunch of hard working taxpayers in Wisconsin see:

• Their jobs are going away
• They have no pensions; just declining IRA and 401k accounts
• Their home values have declined; in some cases below their mortgage balance
• Billions of dollars going to government programs and government employees
• Billions of dollars being taken from them
• Few elected officials willing to cut back as everyone else has had to do

Not one person of high position in the entire Democratic Party is leading the fight to trim the spending; cut back on the programs; eliminate government workers. We repeat, not one person. The woefully inexperienced (frankly, he is just clueless) leader in Washington is simply AWOL on the responsibility. Is it any wonder that his comrades in his party in other places, such as Madison, would rather run than fight? There is no money folks. There is no local branch of the Bureau of Engraving in Madison. And the governor, the new leader, has told the people in Washington to stop bribing them with handouts and bailouts and stimulus dollars. The programs don’t work. The state cannot afford the silly ideas. We just have to tighten our belts and we can do it ourselves, thank you very much.

And so the Democratic Party implodes. The leaders don’t lead because they simply cannot grasp that cutbacks and elimination of entire government programs and entire government departments is the only answer.

They run for cover. Hide out. Don’t answer their phones. Don’t show up for work. Don’t do their jobs.  TheFundamentals has a simple solution for people who abandon their jobs and work responsibilities.  Fire them.  How does the Donald say it?  "You're fired."   Hire replacements who will place the job before their personal entitlement priorities.

Call it what you wish. We call it cowardice. We call it implosion. And we say bully for the hardworking, taxpayers of the state of Wisconsin. You are courageous and you are showing the way. Stay the course. The cowards cannot prevail this time. This time sacrifice and frugality will prevail.

On Wisconsin



Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?

The early skirmishes are developing into minor conflicts. Pushing matches. Threats. Can real confrontation be far behind? We shall see soon enough. Here are a few of the beginning, real opportunities to start making a difference.

Wisconsin says no to most public employees belonging to unions. This is a position supported by TheFundamentals and it is a necessary step to reining in the excessive employment; excessive salaries; excessive benefits and the outrageous pension programs that are now routinely funded by taxpayers who have no representative at the contract bargaining table with public employee union negotiators. If you are a resident of Wisconsin you can contact your governor and your state legislators and tell them to support the elimination of union representation for public employees. If you are a resident of another state, contact your governor and legislator(s) and let them know that you want them to introduce similar public employee union terminating legislation in your state.

Florida, Ohio and now Wisconsin have told the federal government to stop annoying them with promises of federal cash for high speed train travel in their states. They know that this newest “investment” concept of Mr. Obama and the rapidly failing party in power is nothing other than an attempt to put lipstick on a pig. The pig? The failed stimulus spending plans. The failed job creating plans and the failed indirect state bailout plans. They are costly. They are ineffective. They add terrifically to the national debt. And they are designed to provide federal taxpayer funds for the constituents of the party in power. These politicians will do anything to extend their spending spree and they will call it anything to garner support. Obama now calls them investments. Here is how to call their bluff. Ask them to invest their own funds in the investments. Ask them to put their money, not other people’s money, where their loud caterwauling mouths are. Just say no to the Obama Investment Plans, be they high speed rail, green jobs, alternative energy, local battery plants or government funded Internet availability. Let your federal congressmen and senators know that you oppose all these “investments.”

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Better known to most of as PBS. This gang is running scared and it is about time. They receive substantial federal funding - $420 to $450 per year million in recent years and similar amounts going forward. This broadcasting network raises substantial public donations and substantial grants from very large and very wealthy foundations. You all know this because you see and hear their names regularly if you watch any of their programming. This broadcasting network also portrays politicians and event through their own screening process even though they are receiving taxpayer funding from working Americans who may see issues and events through different eyes and different screening mechanisms. PBS will survive without hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds and borrowing that the taxpayer must, someday, repay. There is one more compelling reason to stop the funding. It has to do with a very important fundamental. Many of the PBS and NPR personalities are now engaged in using taxpayer funded broadcasting time to advance their position of continued public funding. Such behavior is a conflict of interest and it violates any conflict of interest standard. For this reason alone, they should lose their public funding and their qualification as a charitable activity.

Speaking of conflict of interest? Read this report about the priorities of the Madison Wisconsin teachers: http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/local_schools/article_e3cfe584-3953-11e0-9284-001cc4c03286.html  It seems they are of the mind that their job is to call in sick; close the schools; kids have no classes as a result and, apparently the head of their union cajoled them to do this so they could go to the state capitol to lobby against the changes. Public servants? Hardly. Self interested, union members? Not much doubt when you see how they behave. TheFundamentals agrees 100% with the Madison parent of two school age children who is a supporter of teacher unions still observed, “"That's not acceptable to me," Billings said.”My tax dollars pay for the teachers to teach and not to protest."

If you wish to work for the public, you forgo your privileges to join unions. If you wish to broadcast your opinions and your chosen topics, don’t expect the taxpayers to pay for it. If you have good investments, there is plenty of money available to fund those investments. Just ask for it. You may have to show how the investment will work and how it will pay for itself but surely you can support your investment ideas. Can’t you?

These are the simple beginnings of a movement back to fundamentals. Please support them. Get engaged. Stop watching TV talking heads and start talking to your elected officials. Write them. Email them. Call them. Support these early skirmishes. Let’s get a few successes; a few wins and then we can move on to real change.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Can Lawyers Outlaw Economics?

What happens when supply exceeds demand? Well the result is a fundamental that apparently is not being taught at the numerous and very expensive law schools of the land.

According to the New York Times the legal cup has runneth over. Lawyers can’t find jobs as lawyers. Apparently, we don’t need all the lawyers the law schools are turning out. Holy Paper Chase Batman, can this be true? How can we have reached the maximum number of needed lawyers? And if that is true, wouldn’t the lawyer production machine at least be slowing down?  Wouldn't the feds stop making big loans to these law students who are piling up big debt to pay really big salaries to law school professors?  Particularly if there is no work for them?

We know what you are thinking. We at TheFundamentals are just writing this essay because we’ve been railing against lawyers since we first put pen to paper. We’re just crowing over the fleeting good fortune of an economic downturn that has temporarily shut the spigot on the flow of really prestigious; really important employment opportunities for all those fresh faced, high achieving, lawyer TV show watching youth. These kids who hope to be the next Clarence Darrow; the next Felix Frankfurter; the next Melvin Belli; the next Rudolph Giuliani; the next Hillary Clinton; the next Perry Mason.

We have been researching and analyzing and presenting facts for two years now that display an inordinate connection between too many lawyers and declining economic results. We have displayed the same correlation between high priced medical care and no difference in life expectations. We have documented unbelievable levels of government employment and displayed facts about levels of pay, benefits and pensions that not only exceed private sector statistics but exceed them by substantial (50%+) margins. We have referenced educational studies displaying the poor results of American students compared with students from many different countries including European countries, Asian countries and even here on our continent – Canada. They all do better than US students.

And what is the common thread among the high cost, highly paid, highly benefited and highly pensioned people servicing these key areas of our economy: education, lawyers, health care? What is the connection between public education, health care, litigation activities and government services and the poor and declining specific results in these important fields? What is the one consistent, uniform participant across the board? Whose fingerprints are all over the disconnect between cost, expenditure and results?

Government.

Government pays the tuition for students to get law degrees even though there are no jobs and no need for all the lawyers being turned out by the law schools. They regulate the medical insurers and run the largest medical insurance program in the nation. They subsidize doctors, regulate and subsidize pharmaceutical companies and they set the reimbursement rates for many procedures and therapies. Cost is double any other country. Life span? Equal to or lower than the other countries. They dominate the education field and set laws and rules that encourage unions and the poor results the union members produce. They eliminate the ability of competition and new entries in the field of education through these and many other practices. They just plain like the status quo. They live off it. They do not wish to and will not change it. Be it their own government services or education services or medical services or filling the law schools with future F. Lee Bailey’s, the fingerprints of government are all over these bloated inefficient and overpaid providers of service.

In the article, an Indiana university law professor, one William Henderson, was quoted on the topic of how we cut back on having too many laws schools and too many law students and too many lawyer graduates. He said, “Ultimately,” he says, “some public authority will have to step in because law schools and lawyers are incapable of policing themselves.” Read the entire article at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/business/09law.html?scp=1&sq=law%20&%20school%20&%20losing%20&%20game&st=cse

The law professor thinks that a public authority (we think that means “government”) will have to step in to fix the situation. This is pretty rich folks. He thinks the government can fix it. They’re the ones who messed it up. Is this what they mean in law school when they refer to “circular reasoning?”  Hey Professor, "What is the common link between government and the law schools and lawyers that are now finding we just don’t need them anymore?"  Stumped?   Hint: many congressmen/senators and other elected officials are lawyers.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Leadership Series: Know Your Audience

Scenario #1. A speech to the NAACP. Now if you are the current president you know before you even open your mouth that you could recite the words of a super bowl commercial praising the city of Detroit and you would get nothing but standing ovations. Let’s face it; this is not going to be a tough audience. So what should the tenor of your speech be? Well, it probably will be a series of self directed accolades describing and praising all the good things that you have and are doing for constituencies of the audience members. Why not? That’s what they came to hear. You may as well give it to ‘em. And everyone will feel really good afterwards. Kind of a hook up scene only with the emphasis on the foreplay; not the main event. The taxpayer, who is not overly represented in this audience, gets a figuratively royal version of that piece de rĂ©sistance (main event) in mid April.

Scenario #2. A speech to the chamber of commerce. Now before you even open your mouth, if you are the current president, you know this is not going to be a rousing speech unless your #1 aide de camp managed to switch the entire speech with one written by a fellow from the Heritage Foundation and you go ahead and give it anyway. More than likely your voter support from this audience reflects the results of the most recent election in the US House of Representatives. So, what do you do? Do you give them a spanking speech (not in the rousing sense of the word) reminding them of their responsibilities as good citizens and good business men hording lots of cash. The old “spend, spend, spend” mantra. Or do you come up with something else? Do you put yourself in their shoes even though you have never even walked a baby step in their shoes? Do you tell your audience that you have never done what they do but you want to learn? Or do you try to pretend that you can “feel their pain?”

Click on here, watch the speech and see what he did -- http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/02/07/president-obama-business-now-time-invest-america

There still are some rules for knowing your objective; understanding your audience and increasing the likelihood of success. And that is what this essay is about.

Business men are not all fools. They live in worlds occupied by other businessmen, known to them as competitors, and very important people known as customers. They also operate in environments where they deal with matters such as: product or service quality, employee training, financial solvency, meeting payrolls, time deadlines and lots of other details that are either done right or can turn into costly redoes and missed orders and unhappy employees and customers. That is the world of the businessman. That is not necessarily the way their world is seen by politicians, bureaucrats and community organizers.

So, the first thing you might wish to determine is: do you know what is on the collective minds(s) of your audience? Or do you presume to know and make your speech based on such presumptions?

Next do you approach your audience in scenario #2 by telling them what you want them to hear and what you want them to do or do you modify your speech by incorporating the lessons you’ve learned about them and their problems and their issues, some of which are described in the above paragraph? Of do you just come clean with them and say you have nary a clue about what their world is like and you don’t really intend to spend much time learning about it but let’s all be good Americans and work together to accomplish my good agenda (spend, spend, spend) for America?

What do you want from them? Jobs? Investments? Exports? Taxes? Less energy usage? More votes? A nice-nice relationship? Perhaps all of the above? Well regardless of what you want from them, it is probably not a good idea to spend two years bemoaning their selfishness; their pay scales; their bonuses; their efficiency programs and then suddenly, upon deciding that you need something from them, expecting that you don’t have to give them a few of the things they want as they describe those wants and not as you and your associates describe those wants. As Homer would say, “D’oh!”

Knowing your audience takes a bit of time; a bit of energy; and a bit of a commitment to grasping the fundamental that we don’t all see everything the way the temporary leader sees it. And, perhaps, there is something to someone else’s point of view.

We had eight years of a president who didn’t grasp this fundamental. He and his failed chums left a big mess behind. The current leader grasps that part of the scenario. But, alas, he and his failed chums do not grasp the part about the mess that they are leaving behind. Both are cluelessly delusional about their shortcomings.

It doesn’t matter if you are addressing the chamber of commerce or the about to be set aside leader of a great and storied nation. It’s still a fundamental: know your audience.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What is Going on in Illinois?

The following quotation is sourced directly from the SEC web pages and here is the reference: http://www.sec.gov/spotlight/municipalsecurities.shtml

“The municipal securities market touches almost every aspect of our lives. The water we drink, the roads we travel, and our schools and hospitals are typically financed by municipal bonds.

Despite its vital role as an important and omnipresent sector of the U.S. capital market, the municipal securities market is subject to limited regulatory oversight. Investors in municipal securities lack many of the protections afforded to investors in public companies and other sectors of our financial markets.”

Our readers will recall that TheFundamentals published an article recently suggesting that something was going on in the state of Illinois because there would no other apparent explanation for their lame duck legislative session to force through a huge increase in personal and business income taxes with little or no effort to cut spending. (See: TheFundamentals, “Illinois Chooses Self Destruction,” January 13, 2011.)

Since then, two of our supporters/readers have notified us that there indeed is something going on in Illinois.

What on earth are the foolish politicians and the equally promiscuous bureaucrats doing in Illinois? Why on earth is there not a screaming outcry from the national media over these news reports? What are the feds, who scrutinize every line of our tax filings with sophisticated computer programs, doing when states like Illinois borrow hundreds of millions of dollars and they neither can balance their budgets nor anticipate how they will meet their debt obligations? The question is remarkably simple, “Should a borrowing government fully disclose its financial condition including its contingent liabilities and should an independent auditor opine whether those statements are reasonable and accurate?"   If we, the people, sign a bank loan request form that includes false information, we are subject to criminal penalty. Why shouldn’t the same be true of municipal officials borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars?

Wall Street Journal, January 25, 2011: Illinois Confirms Inquiry by SEC http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703555804576102872492651318.html?mod=WSJ_WSJ_US_News_5

Who doesn’t know that Illinois is not funding its outrageous pension obligations to retired state employees? Please hold up your hand if you think Illinois is solvent!

Here’s more on the same topic: Another Thorn in the Side of Illinois: The SEC
http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2011/01/25/another-thorn-in-the-side-of-illinois-the-sec/

Read this article: New Hit to Strapped States http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704307404576080322679942138.html

What is going on with these states? Why is there not an outcry from Obama and Geithner and Bernanke about the need for these states to not only get their finances in order but they must disclose accurately their true; their real financial condition? Where the heck are the political leaders? Is this another example of the SEC and its head in the sand approach to Bernard Madoff? Is this the way elected leaders fulfill their obligation to protect investors and bond buyers? Does anyone else get the impression that we live in a dual legal system country? One set of laws for private individuals and businesses that are enforced with some consistency and, when desirable, a great deal of publicity and notoriety. And a second very loose, very subjective application of the same rules and laws to public officials. Are we, at TheFundamentals, just paranoid? Or is there little or no application of law to the activities of governments? Why can a state issue bonds based on incomplete or inaccurate disclosure and not face any legal or regulatory consequences?

Two more things with respect to Illinois.  They just had an election.  We don't recall the incumbents addressing the investigations that were already underway during their campaigns for reelection?  What do you think would happen to a public company that didn't disclose such an event?  Illinois also has a requirement in its constitution to balance its budget.  Which courts are enforcing this constitutional provision?  Where are the court rulings on this matter?

The solution is fairly simple. A US constitutional amendment that clearly states that any law, tax, rule or practice imposed by any government entity in the United States on the people is equally applicable to the imposing government entity and that any elected representatives and person employed directly or indirectly by that entity are similarly subject to all rules, laws, taxes and practices imposed by such entity on its people.

Good for the goose; good for the gander. It’s simple. It’s a fundamental!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Leadership Series: A Man With a Plan

One of America’s newest senators, Rand Paul, from the state of Kentucky, son of Texas congressman Ron Paul, both of whom are physicians, has just issued a very specific proposal to substantially reduce the spending of the US federal government. Here are some highlights (comments from TheFundamentals are italicized):

• Legislative branch spending cut 23% or $1.3 billion in FY2011. Government Printing Office closed.

• Judicial branch cut 32% or $2.4 billion; back to FY2008 levels.

• Department of Agriculture cut 30%; food stamp program back to FY2008 levels

• Department of Commerce cut 54%.

• Department of Defense cut 6.5%; savings of $48 billion. It’s a start. Did you know that the DOD has over 700,000 civilian employees???

• Department of Education cut 83%. Nothing to add; we recommend that it be eliminated. The performance of public schools under the direction of this department is America’s shame.

• Department of Energy eliminated. 100%. Long overdue step to sanity.

• Health and Human Services cut 26% but that disregards most of their expenditures in the social security and Medicare programs which they oversee.

• Homeland Security cut 43%. TSA should be privatized immediately. It is an outrageous example of the inability of the federal government to get a job done efficiently and effectively.

• Housing and Urban Development eliminated. 100%. Hallelujah!

• Interior cut 78%. We quote from the document: “The management of public lands and resources is best left up to the states.”

• Justice cut 28% or $9 billion. But what’s going to happen to those poor unemployed lawyers?

• Labor 2%. The extension of unemployment benefits is not addressed and it desperately needs to be cut.

• State cut 71%. It is time for Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to fund and manage America’s foreign aid programs. They are enamored with these “worthwhile” activities. The State Department does not need to replicate their programs.

• Transportation 49%. If Barack Obama or any other private citizens want to build a high speed rail network in the United States it is time to let them put their private funds where their public utterances are. We are anxious to see how much of their private funds will end up in these “investments.”

• EPA cut 29%.

• General Services Administration cut 85%.

• NASA cut 25%. We would recommend that it be suspended until Americas debt is repaid in full.

Did you know that the federal government owns (which means it also must maintain) about 650,000 cars and trucks?

Read the entire proposed legislation at:   http://www.randpaul2010.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/500Bcutsbill.pdf

Dr. Paul, the son, is to be commended for making this proposal. It will be interesting to see what his fellow party members do with it. Or his father for that matter. Do not be surprised if they run away from it. But here is a suggestion that might appeal to several of them; the ones who know they will need to seek real employment come November 2012 if they don’t stand up for some cessation of the promiscuous Washington spending. Go along with Obama’s proposal to raise the debt ceiling on the following terms:

1. The increase can not exceed $1 trillion, and

2. The increase is temporary; it expires on November 1, 2012, which means it is very much an issue in the 2012 congressional and presidential election, and

3. 50% of Senator Rand Paul’s cuts must be implemented immediately and realized during fiscal year 2011 and the remaining 50% must be implemented and realized during fiscal year 2012

One closing comment. We doubt that you will see much coverage given to this legislation from the so-called mainstream media. Will PBS cover it? Dr. Paul’s legislation eliminates all funding for PBS and its so-called parent, Corporation for Public Broadcasting!

Dr. Paul, TheFundamentals commends you for this bold and long overdue action.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Myth Masters

Do great societies live by their mythology? Or their results? Who promotes mythology? That is the topic of today’s essay. Hollywood is big on mythology. As is Stephen King. No one is a bigger supporter of mythology than sycophantic news media. They tout it daily.

Mythology is defined as a collection of stories that present the beliefs and values of a group of people. The stories can be tales or anecdotes, verbal and written. They do, it seems, tend to mystify some and aggrandize others. They can create and define great evil and wondrous virtue. The fortunate mythological characters are miraculous heroes; others are despised villains. When mythology themes intersect with reality, the question seems to focus on whether the myth is the master or a servant. If you must live up to the myth it can be a terrible master. If you rely on it, it can be a horrible servant.

Why does this young country of ours have so much mythology? Let’s list out some American myths. Let’s look at some categories of American mythology starting with the old standbys:
• America has the strongest economy in the world
• America is the beacon of freedom and democracy among all nations
• American is a nation of laws, not men
• America has the greatest education system of developed countries
• America defends liberty and freedom around the globe
• American are the hardest working people in the world
• Americans are the most productive workers in the world
• America has the mightiest military on earth
• John Kennedy brought Camelot, briefly, to the United States. All was swell
• Richard Nixon was a paranoid troubled fool. All was not swell
• America has a government of the people by and for the people
• We are so great that everyone wants to be an American
• Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…
• American ingenuity will prevail over any obstacle

And then let’s look at some of the current revisions to these old standbys:
• Green energy will free America of carbon fuel dependency
• Money will solve our declining education system performance
• Money will solve our research and development shortcomings
• New technology will drive the jobs of the future
• Education will prepare our youth for the jobs of the future
• America won the cold war
• Iraqi oil will finance our war to liberate the Iraqi’s
• We can spend our way to economic growth
• Consumer spending is good; savings is bad
• Tax policy should promote spending; discourage savings
• Debt is a long term problem; not to worry about it now
• Deficits are needed now to start the economy; time to cut back later
• Greenspan was the maestro when it came to guiding the economy
• Yesterday, first lady; today, US senator; tomorrow secretary of state
• Yesterday state senator; today US senator; tomorrow, president
• Mission accomplished
• The economy is improving

And some new ones that may just now be in formation:
• The Chinese seek economic partnership with the United States
• America's service economy leads the world in global competitiveness
• America will continue to lead the world in technological developments
• America is the worlds superpower
• Therefore, America must be the worlds policeman
• The Chinese will adopt America’s rules of play as they begin to understand them
• Never be uncertain; when in doubt, just do something
• Never question yourself. If we believe it, it is only a matter of time before others will also
• Bernanke is perfect for today with his background in depression studies
• Obama is brilliant; very intelligent; grasps issues quickly
• We will leave Iraq and Afghanistan when the terrorists are defeated
• We must not violate our principles to defeat the terrorist
• Maybe deficits matter but not for a while
• 19 suicidal terrorists changed everything; never again; no matter the cost

Perhaps you can add some of your own?

Here is the perspective that we would like you to take away from this essay. Most, really all, of these myths circulate around government, politicians, bureaucrats and the media folk who are constantly presenting them in one form or another. Do you notice that these myths have little to do with us regular folk and our everyday lives? Do you notice that many of the myths are designed to support governmental activities and gloss over their failures?

American mythology can be summed up in a few words: much ado about nothing. If you get rid of the mythology, you get back to the basics, what we like to call TheFundamentals. Suddenly government gets smaller. As it should. It slips into the background. It no longer consumes all the oxygen in the room. And what moves forward is everyday people doing everyday things as they lead everyday lives.

American mythology does not serve everyday American people. It serves those who parrot it; refer to it; and manipulate it. The mythology machine has grown way too big and way too out of touch with the realities of today’s world. It is time for Americans, the everyday ones, to reject this mythological accumulation. Put all the myths in the trash basket where they belong. Let’s get a few good leaders who live in today’s world. Let's rebuild a competitive America and leave the myths to the discarded politicians and unemployed bureaucrats. Let’s have a mythological revolution.