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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shi**y Deal

Well, there are two ways to look at the Carl Levin and Tom Coburn show Tuesday. These boyz could be part of the kind of group that we all have run into before – pile on, pick on the out of favor gang, use a big microphone to look like heroes and never turn the examination on oneself because that would require a combination of humility and introspection. Or, we could join in and say it’s about time that someone took those nasty Wall Street smarty pants types out to the woodshed for a good whooping and if ever there was a bunch of arrogant, do-nothing-but-get-paid-a- lot fools, Hollywood casting could not have found 6 or 8 better suited characters to play the roles.

What does TheFundamentals think?

It’s all theatre. It just happens to be expensive theatre for those of us who still are paying taxes.

Government simply does not work. Less is better. More is worse. Either embrace this simple concept or continue the theatre and pay the bill.

There will always be smarty pants who can figure out what is going on and take advantage of it before the rest of us catch up to where the smarty pants types are. Government can’t fix it. They make it worse. They show up after the fact. They are complicit because they add to the costs and create the impression that they are doing something but all they are doing is greasing the field with money that the smarty pants are cleverly eyeballing and figuring out how to get as much of it as possible before the whole scheme blows up.

Today, government is spending lots of money they don’t have to make it look as if they are doing something to prevent things from getting worse. It won’t work. It too will blow up and an even bigger mess will need cleaning up. Let's call it The Big Mess.  In the meantime the current gang of smarty pants are figuring out how to get as much of the readily available dough into their pockets. They are making money while the government is making debt. And you and we, the taxpayers, will be paying the bill.

One of the most expensive lessons not learned is this. People get paid for what they do today even though the results of what they do today are not realized until tomorrow or the day after, figuratively speaking. What is the solution? Simple. Pay for results. Commit to a plan. Get paid after it is realized. For example. Steny Hoyer says we must balance the budget to avoid The Big Mess (see his Johnny come lately article in the left margin; it's the first link "Shared Sacrifices" under the "Within our Means" category) even though he has been leading his massive party in power majority to do exactly the opposite. So, let’s say to Steny, “Go for it.” Tell us how much you will not spend and how much in new taxes you will collect in the next 12 months – measurable results Steny – exactly what will the deficit (or surplus) be and what will the new tax revenue be and what will exactly happen to the debt. Commit to a specific debt number at the end of 12 months. Then, after we approve the plan, we escrow 50% of Steny’s paycheck and every other fool in congress and the presidents pay check and the cabinet officer’s paycheck and the top 20% of all the over paid bureaucrats in all the government agencies and they only get the other 50% when the exact objectives are attained at the end of the 12 month period. You want to see some results, just implement this program.

So, let’s make a deal. Let's get to work on The Big Mess.  Not another shi**y deal like the ones we’ve been getting for some time now from our government. Let’s make a good deal. You all tell us what you will do. You get paid half over the next 12 months and the other half when you finish the job and we can see the results. If you make it, we’re all win – win. If you don’t, it will only cost us half as much and you, Steny, and all your hardworking member of congress and the cabinet officers and the top 20% of employees will be gone.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Town Hall Meeting

About 100 citizens, young and old, gathered to hear TheFundamentals speak about debt, deficits, a little bit of history and some thoughts on what we can do. We assembled a talk using a bit of our research and some of our statistics and some of our tables and charts and spoke about these matters of concern. We also listened and, by so doing, we learned.

Here is a brief recap of a well spent 90 minutes in the early evening last week.

We learned from the youngsters present that there still are youth in America who know the pledge to allegiance and are proud to lead a gathering of mostly adults in standing up, facing the American flag, placing our hands upon our hearts and pledging our allegiance to this one nation of ours under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. These youngsters also wear their scout uniforms with pride. We learned that there are very respectable young people who are informed about issues and are quite ready to ask informed questions about matters of economics and finance. We learned that we must continue our efforts to bring financial sense and reduced deficits and repaid debt to this country for several reasons – it is the right thing to do, Thomas Jefferson said that each generation must pay its debts and not pass them on to following generations and because there is no reason, good or bad, to burden these young people with the excesses and fiscal promiscuity of older undisciplined people.

We learned that the audience has no truck with talk about guns, turmoil, bombs and other nonsense that the fear mongering politicians, press and bureaucrats express. No interest at all. Instead they ask questions about the Federal Reserve and is it monetizing the debt. They ask about what happens if and when China says no to the next round of USTreasury borrowing. They ask who they can vote for when both parties’ candidates express no interest in cutting spending, reducing bureaucracies, terminating employees and instituting benefits and pension programs that are equitable with the private sector. The simplest way to describe “this anger” as unfairly described by a newsreader on PBS last Friday is they don’t understand why the elected officials in whom they placed their trust have violated this sacred covenant. Let me repeat that observation. Regular people who believe in their country, obeying the law, working hard and living within their means are taking it very personally that their elected officials have violated the essential trust placed in them by these citizens. Once broken, that trust is not coming back.

Most attendees at town hall meetings cannot understand what has happened to the values, principles and beliefs of the elected officials of the United States. If there is one message coming from the town hall meeting it is a complete inability to grasp how the values of its politicians have declined to matters of selfishness, self interest and self perpetuation. No one can grasp what has happened to the American leadership ethos. No one knows where to turn when one alternative is no different than the other alternative(s).

The slides we used in our presentation are available for your review by clicking on the link in the left hand margin described as “Lincoln Way Town Hall Meeting.”

Here are some other comments and thoughts that were mentioned at the meeting:

• Why have our politicians chosen a path of deficits and debt? What can be going on in their minds when each day they spend money we do not have for things we do not need?

• What happens when interest rates rise? What happens when foreign countries no longer will lend us any money? What will happen to us if some other country goes bankrupt?

• What does it mean to “monetize the debt?” Is the Federal Reserve purchasing US bonds and in effect monetizing the debt? What does it mean if they did so?

• 70% of our men and women in the military serving overseas vote in our elections. A much smaller percentage of the citizens at home vote. If we don’t vote we end up getting what we are getting. We must vote. We must take a stand on forcing the United States to reduce spending and start repaying its debts.

• What percentage of our earnings do we pay in total for taxes for all the different forms of taxation – hidden and obvious, that we pay to all the different taxing authorities? It must add up to 70%.

The summation of this learning experience for TheFundamentals can be stated as follows. If you have not attended a town hall meeting held by a group of your fellow citizens, do so. Avoid the influences of the extremes on both sides – they seem to be in it for the same reason that politicians now put themselves in front of the basic values and fundamentals of the people who pay the taxes – self, self and self. In the middle you will find the values, the strength and the courage to continue to fight for sacrifice and frugality and a reduction in government spending and the beginnings of repaying the massive debt of this country of ours. That is all we seek. An elimination of deficits and the repayment of our debt.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fiscal Conservative

TheFundamentals has noticed that the term “fiscal conservative” is becoming a very common self designated description. Even members of congress, some individuals who have served many terms, describe themselves as “fiscal conservatives.” How can this be? What is a fiscal conservative?

To answer this question, TheFundamentals (TF) interviewed many people and finally located one individual who displayed to us that not only are they a “fiscal conservative” but that they can prove it and that they have been one for almost 60 years. We asked this Fiscal Conservative (FC) a few questions:

TF: What do you mean when you say you are a fiscal conservative?

FC: It means the following:

• Live within your means and pay your debts

• Save for a rainy day

• Meet your needs and prioritize your wants

• Spend others money as you would spend your own

• Help others who have needs and are unable to meet them

TF: What do you mean by “live within your means and pay your debts?”

FC: Balance your budget; outgo equals inflow. If expenses rise beyond revenue; cut back or earn more. Only borrow for long term needs and make certain that your debt can be repaid as the terms require.

TF: What do you mean by “save for a rainy day?”

FC: Always put something aside. At least 5% and, when you can, 10% of your income.

TF: What do you mean by “meet your needs and prioritize your wants?”

FC: We can’t have everything. Needs are food clothing and shelter and, in today’s world, education, health care and transportation. Wants are all else. Cell phones, cable TV and entertainment are not needs. Learn to do without things. Sacrifice and frugality are good ideas.

TF: What do you mean by “spend others money as you would spend your own?”

FC: Most of us have an opportunity at one time or another to have access to “others money.” It may be a family member or a neighbor. It may be on a church committee or other charitable activity; it may be going to the grocery store for a house bound person or it may be as an employee or even a higher up position in a company or a union or a government entity. We have an obligation to be very careful when spending someone else’s money. The basic fundamental that we are talking about here is TRUST. We must be cautious and conservative and seek good value in return for a purchase decision. It also means that objectives must be set and results measured. Last, it means that wastefulness must be avoided at all costs.

TF: What do you mean by “help others who have needs and are unable to meet them?”

FC: We are responsible for helping others; not government. Government is not a charitable organization. Please read the USConstitution. There is no reference to charity in the document. Helping others is what we do after we meet our own needs and before we prioritize our wants. First we take care of those for whom we are responsible. Then we help others. Charity is the church, the neighborhood group, the food kitchen and the unheralded assistance to someone in need.

TF: Do you live by these concepts?

FC: Every day of my life.

TF: Do you know other fiscal conservatives?

FC: Yes, many.

TF: Can you name a Fiscal Conservative in the national government?

TF: Hello? (It seems as if FC is either laughing or having some form of uncontrolled fit.)

(Long pause)

FC: Sorry, I thought you asked me if there were any fiscal conservatives in government.

TF: Well, they say they are fiscal conservatives, don’t they?

FC: Here’s a basic fundamental that TheFundamentals seems to have forgotten – Actions speak louder than words!

TF: Thank you for the reminder and thank you for explaining the true meaning of fiscal conservatism.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bureaucrat, Indict Thyself

The lesson; the basic value; the fundamental is simple – tend to your own defects; do not deflect to the defects of others. There is another way of saying the same thing – many would rather point out the speck in their neighbor’s eye and ignore the log in their own.

Let us state very clearly, upfront, at the beginning of this essay, that TheFundamentals has no truck with the shenanigans of Goldman Sachs or any other banking or investment/insurance firm that is proven to have engaged in either the violation of accepted lending standards or in the marketing and/or sale of any flawed investment products without full disclosure. TheFundamentals further has no issue with the demise of insolvent banking and or investment/insurance companies due to excessive debt; too much leverage; the accumulation of too many crappy assets or, as seems to be the case behind most of the private sector losses, just plain bad management. But what about the endless examples of terrible bureaucratic management and regulation and no consequences? No discipline/terminations/indictments?

Which bureaucracies does TheFundamentals suggest warrant an overdue extended period of self examination and introspection coupled with some real house cleaning?  If there is negligence, who indicts the negligent bureaucrat? Let’s take a look at two huge, failed bureaucracies.

First, here are the stated objectives of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is to:

• protect investors,

• maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and

• facilitate capital formation.

The commission has failed its mission. Who indicts the commission? Who indicts the employees of the commission? Who terminates those who failed to do their job? Do they lose wages and benefits and pensions as a consequence of their failure? Do they face indictment for either civil or criminal negligence as a consequence of their failure? Does anyone discipline the failed commissioners and employees? The people elect representatives and senators and a president to oversee this bureaucracy. If they do not fulfill this responsibility, what happens? Can they be indicted?

Second, here are the stated duties of the Federal Reserve System. 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 employ¬ment, 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. gov¬ernment, and foreign official institutions, including playing a major role in operating the nation’s payments system

The Federal Reserve System has failed in its duties. Who indicts the system? Who indicts the employees of the system? Who terminates those who failed to do their job? Do they lose wages and benefits and pensions as a consequence of their failure? Do they face indictment for either civil or criminal negligence as a consequence of their failure? Does anyone discipline the failed board members and employees? The people elect representatives and senators and a president to oversee this bureaucracy. If they do not fulfill this responsibility, what happens? Can they be indicted?

Do not hold your breath awaiting any indictments of the commission or The Federal Reserve. Obama says we need reforms to avoid a repeat of the current mess. Do not expect Obama to implement any “reforms” that would hold the management of these bureaucracies responsible for their failures or negligence. Do not expect Obama to ask Justice to indict those responsible at the commission and the system. Everyone agrees that the bureaucracies and regulatory agencies failed over and over again in doing their job. Just don’t expect anyone to ever insist that performance standards be set for government workers with consequences for failure. There are no consequences for government failure; only finger pointing and indictments elsewhere.

TheFundamentals has pointed out the problem in a representative democracy without term limits is the embedded tenure of the long serving representatives and senators in high positions who are shielded in very safe electoral states and districts. The same deterioration of quality government service is repeated when bureaucrats are able to stay in positions for extended periods, 20 and 30 years in many cases, with no risk of termination and no discipline process or any jeopardy in the civil and criminal court systems.

This system must be changed. Bureaucrats must face discipline for their failings. Bureaucrats must face indictment for their negligence. Ask your congress person and senator to introduce, support and vote for a law setting measurable bureaucratic performance standards with civil and criminal penalties for failure or negligence. When asking doesn’t work, insist on it from new candidates. When a new candidate embraces this level of responsibility and accountability, then, and only then, consider voting for that person in November.   Ultimately, we the people are responsible for the quality of service we receive from those we pay to do a job.  They will not indict themselves.  Our elected officials have lost their way.  They refuse to oversee the bureaucracies they have created.  They are incapable of negotiating with the unions that represent the bureaucrats.  Their is no job performance standard.  There is no discipline.  All must go.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Debt, Taxes and Consequences

It is appropriate to discuss taxes this week inasmuch as all qualifying Americans will be completing their tax filings and about 50% of filers will be making their final payments tomorrow. Taxes change history. They have had significant consequence for our independence; our revolution and our democracy. Let’s look at a brief 15 year history of American Revolution events and dates:

• 1773 Boston Tea Party

• 1774 First Continental Congress

• 1775 Shot heard round the world

• 1776 Declaration of Independence

• 1777 Articles of Confederation

• 1783 British surrender

• 1786 Shays rebellion

• 1788 USConstitution adopted

Every smart fifth grader knows these events, we hope. But, do you know what preceded this sequence of events?

• 1756-1763 Seven Years War

• 1764-1767 Sugar Act, Stamp Act and Townshend Acts

• 1770 Boston Massacre

• 1773 Boston Tea Party

In 1756, the debt of Great Britain was about £75 Million, not an inconsequential amount in purchasing power for the time. Britain then engaged in a lengthy war with France and other European powers with significant battles in North America where the war was known as the French and Indian War. The war actually started here. When peace was established, Britain’s debt had risen to £800 Million. Now we’re talking real money. King George III and the British parliament levied taxes on the unrepresented North American colonies to service and pay down the debt. These taxes were ill received in America and resulted in significant opposition and nonpayment and, ultimately, the imposition of an expanded British military presence in the colonies and Boston proper. The troops fired on a Boston gathering in 1770, killing 5 and injuring 11. The revolutionary war was beginning. Debt and taxes have direct consequence. Here is a quote from one of America’s founding fathers that is every bit as pertinent today as then:

"It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world." Thomas Jefferson, 1820.

When Jefferson spoke these words, such niceties as political correctness, special interest controlled politicians and entitlement receiving voters were not fully entrenched. But the truth of the words is still pertinent and few, if any, politicians and kings grasp their meaning. So, TheFundamentals would modify Jefferson’s last sentence to read as follows: “A principle, if acted upon, would save one-half the wars of the world and substantially reduce other government spending, both of which create massive debt which then require the need to levy taxes to pay off the debt, which, ultimately increases the frequency of taxpaying citizen revolts and other forms of uprising which are not healthy for the well being of politicians, bureaucrats and kings.” This lesson has not been learned. Neither the party in power (PIP) nor the party out of power (POOP) has embraced it. Neither PIP nor POOP can be looking forward to November 2010. The current talk about new forms of taxation and the lack of any real, implemented spending reductions should lead to a sea change at that time. But only if taxpaying citizens work hard to force change. Remember these powerful words --  “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes!”

Monday, April 12, 2010

What Would Phil Do?

Well, as Billy Payne said a few days earlier when referring to another player, “Every kid in the world would like his swing but they’d settle for his smile.”

Phil gives them a smile and so much more. He fist bumps, he makes eye contact, he acknowledges the fans constantly and does it with a slight embarrassing consciousness that everyone recognizes as genuine. He answers questions from his heart and his being; not his head; not scripted; not rote.

He loves his wife, adores his children and travels with a family gathering. He is inclusive.

In his late 30’s he has instituted a new level of discipline that affects his mind, his body, his game and his outlook. He has also done something with his game and his decisions and his famous risk taking. It is much more thoughtful now. He has displayed that he can be coached and that he can learn from past actions. And he trusts himself. He is setting an example to young men and women that the combination of practice, knowledge and confidence can be trusted when it is needed.

He is admired by his competitors. He is admired by the big shots in the game. Mostly, though, he is admired by the fans.

We hope and pray for the best for Phil, his wife and his family.

We are fortunate to live in a time with a public figure that does what many others just say that they will do. Phil lives it and many youngsters (and oldsters) will have a living example to help them decide who and want they want to be; how they choose to act and the type of woman or man that they will develop into.

Thank you Phil for what you do.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Modest Suggestion

Dennis Byrne is a writer; a good writer. He writes op-ed columns for the Chicago Tribune and also does a variety of other important tasks that can be viewed at his website http://www.dennisbyrne.net/

If you would like to correspond with him you can contact him at dennis@dennisbyrne.net

He is also a blogger and his postings are available at http://dennisbyrne.blogspot.com/

Earlier this week, he wrote a column which was printed by the Chicago Tribune entitled “Chop the salaries of ‘public servants.’ Pretty bold stuff in a union town dominated by a political machine which places a rather high value on its captive employee power base.

It’s available at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/ct-oped-0406-byrne-20100406,0,4232144.column  We encourage you to read it in its entirety.

The position in Mr. Byrne’s article has been promoted, favored and supported by TheFundamentals for some time. Our suggestion for starting to deal with the deficits and debt at both national and state levels is our modest 5 + 10 + 15 = -5% program which simply means a 5% reduction in entitlement payments plus a 10% reduction in government employment plus a 15% reduction in all other government spending will produce enough funds to start a 5% debt repayment program.

Let’s take a minute or two at this point to grasp the significance of Byrne’s message. Mr. Byrne's subject is advancing the position that employees who self describe as “public servants” must embrace the full meaning of that role including sacrificing remuneration, benefits and pensions when circumstances dictate. TheFundamentals has been preaching “sacrifice and frugality” since its inception and practicing it since childhood. We fully support the thesis advanced by Mr. Byrne but we also recognize the real fact that public payrolls are bloated and public employee remuneration has accelerated way beyond private sector levels. It is way beyond time to realign this disparity. Darn few taxpaying voters would oppose it; darn few elected officials have the spine to even whisper it.

Back to our 5 + 10 +15 = -5% program. This program, of which Mr. Byrne’s suggestion could play a key part, would launch the United States on an economic rebound that would be unrivaled in our very competitive world market. There would be a brief period of adjustment, most of which would be dedicated to the whining and weeping and gnashing of government employee union teeth. But then, watch out. American business would ramp up employment and the rivalry between the states for new jobs, expanded businesses and healthy economic growth environments would send a message to the world that the United States is not going the way of European style protectionism. The United States is not going to shutter its manufacturing capabilities in favor of financial services and so-called derivative products and other forms of non wealth producing shenanigans. The economic power of the United States is nothing short of spectacular. Lousy political leaders and horrible government involvement have led us to doubt our own power. Let’s face it folks, Mr. Byrne knows of what he speaks. The public employee unions know how fragile is their fear based hold on the voters. They depend on their political sycophants for cover. Byrne has the courage to say what most of us are thinking. Let’s support the modest suggestion in Mr. Byrne’s article. Let’s demand that our politicians either implement this suggestion or let’s help them move on, to coin a phrase. Let’s unleash the power of this wonderful country!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Few Days after Easter

Why do so many follow Jesus? His church is under renewed attack. What is it about this man that builds faith in so many?

He was a good man. He led a simple life. We know little about most of his years. He cared for his Mother and had time for the poor and the discarded and the indigent. He did not seem to think all that well of the leaders of his religion and did have conflicts with them. He paid little attention to the rulers; dismissing their antics as temporal. He was obedient to his Father. He saw and forgave the weakness of others. And, he apparently spoke sometimes in mysterious ways. And, 2000 years later, so many of us follow him and his example and promise of hope.

In Augusta, Georgia there is a group of men who maintain an annual tradition and this week happens to be their time. Over the past months there has been a side show based on one of the golfers off course failings. The hoopla has captured an undue amount of the fleeting media interest that now passes as journalism and public interest in our land. The group’s leader spoke to the issue briefly and very succinctly. “He has disappointed us all.” “We at Augusta hope and pray that our great champion will begin his new life here tomorrow in a positive, hopeful and constructive manner, but this time, with a significant difference from the past.” And the comment that really captured the moment for TheFundamentals, "I hope," Payne said, "he now realizes that every kid he passes on the course wants his swing, but would settle for his smile."

…would settle for his smile. That’s pretty powerful stuff.

In Washington DC yesterday, in what passes as inquisition and responsibility and accountability in this inbred community on the banks of the Potomac, the man who oversaw the deterioration of the financial condition of America's largest banks and investment companies as well as the threatened destruction of the worlds entire confidence based financial system (or at least so they said) sat in the dock and faced his inquisitors. He ducked, dodged and defended and deflected his way until the lights went out. Now, please remember, this man was given everything any mere mortal could expect in the way of praise, support, accolades, budget, staff, public microphone and time and, one other thing, responsibility. He was responsible for the safety of America’s banks and the stability of the financial system. It was his job. He not only failed, his failure was accompanied by more material consequence than anything in recent memory. No current leader said, “He has disappointed us all.” No replacement leader has set a course “with a significant difference from the past.”

The deficits double and triple. The debt increases geometrically. The silly media clamor about. No one demands real standards except for a few fellows in the eastern hills of Georgia who strive to keep their game's standards intact. On the banks of the Potomac the lights go out and the minions gather to reflect on one more day’s passage with little concern for the self discipline needed to provide “a new life tomorrow (based on) a positive, hopeful and constructive manner.”

And the message of hope of one Man lasts and lasts.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Forgive them for they know not what they do

With these few words, Jesus set a lasting example of acceptance, generosity and the meaning of forgiveness.

Can we do the same when all that is at risk is our pocketbooks, bank accounts and sense of right versus wrong? We are not being pilloried or crucified. We are only being forced to do things that we know are wrong; that we know lead to an unattractive outcome. Regardless, we will survive.

So, why don’t we let go and go along with the plan? Why are we so negative and down on the new regime? At TheFundamentals we have been accused of being racist for not promoting and supporting the new administration’s plans and legislative proposals. We are told to look for the positive; stop with all the negative essays. We are reminded that the previous administration made lots of mistakes and spent lots of money. Where were we when all that was going on? Why were we not yelping and complaining and criticizing and howling then?

Why not just follow Jesus’ example?

Well, for several reasons. We do not think we have been asked to save humanity. We are not engaged in this fight because we want to open the doors of heaven to mankind. We have only one real accomplishment in mind. Just one simple task that we think is important to the well being of a country that provided such wonderful opportunity for us. We think that each person who wants to work hard, get an education, obey the law and take care of their responsibilities should be able to live a life of their choosing without constant interference and rule/law imposition from detached but powerful government entities and representatives. It’s as simple as that. The idea of an ever changing and ever increasing set of taxes, rules, laws and encroachment on everyday living and everyday commerce must be reset to a much lower, more manageable level. We see it as lower taxes; fewer rules; many fewer government agencies and employees and much more reasonable costs for the levels of government and education and health care that we all need.

The 50 year build up of special interests, protected classes, public employee unions and very high wages, benefits and pensions; never ending litigation for anything from a medical mistake to a spilled cup of hot coffee to a too noisy neighbor has now burdened our very economic freedoms to a reduced performance level that leaves us falling drastically behind our more competitive foreign friends.

We prefer a competitive, innovative performance oriented society – in education, in commerce and in our basic values. We do not want a handout. We do not believe that we are entitled to endless health care; any form of education we desire; a government employee who really cares about anything we can think of or constant warnings about foods, cigarettes, car seats, vehicle emissions, global warming, terrorists and flu viruses. We don’t need a president who is on TV five times a day and cannot even answer a simple question about high taxes without reverting to 15 minutes of 15 month old campaign rhetoric. We can get along fine on our own. We will take care of making sure our children are safe; that our seat belts are secured; that we watch what we eat/smoke/drink and we will be real safe when using our lawn mowers or riding around on our motorcycles. We can handle it just fine, thank you. We might even put a helmet on once in a while when riding our bike but, and we know this is hard to believe, as kids not only did no one even have a helmet but we used to ride “no hands” all the time.

That’s all we want. We’ll make a deal. You cool it and we will forgive you. It is time for all the aforementioned folk to take one big, long timeout. Just like little kids. Heck we might even help some of you find a real job. One where you pay taxes.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Be not afraid

Rejoice.  He is Risen.

John 20:1-9

And on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalen cometh early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre: and she saw the stone taken away from the sepulchre. She ran therefore and cometh to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved and saith to them:

They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre: and we know not where they have laid him.

Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple: and they came to the sepulchre. And they both ran together: and that other disciple did outrun Peter and came first to the sepulchre. And when he stooped down, he saw the linen cloths lying: but yet he went not in. Then cometh Simon Peter, following him, and went into the sepulchre: and saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin that had been about his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but apart, wrapped up into one place. Then that other disciple also went in, who came first to the sepulchre: and he saw and believed.

For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.

Mark 16: 1 - 8

  • And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalena, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.
  • And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.  And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?  And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
  • And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
  • But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.  And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Protection Committee

Most people are not union members. Most people work in jobs where they can lose their employment for any one of a number of reasons. Sometimes no reason at all. Usually, though, people lose their jobs because of poor performance, either by them or by their employer. This simple fact is a key component of our free enterprise system. The competitive prevail until a better competitor comes along. New and better products and services replace older products and services. Most of us know this. We all benefit from this process even though it can be anxiety producing.

There is one guy who has benefitted from it but he sure doesn’t support it. He thinks it makes sense to pay more for something than someone else is willing and able to provide, at the same level of quality, at a lower price. He thinks you should keep your job even if you are not doing your job. He also thinks you should keep your job even if your employer is not as competitive as another employer. Who could this person be? An attorney? A politician? Both? Where could this form of foolishness survive and thrive? Where do they teach protection over competition? Where do people believe that it is better to pay the highest price? When you go shopping do you always look to make your purchases at the highest possible price? Who has such abundance that this form of waste and corruption can actually be the preferred system? Better than open bidding; better than the selection of highest quality at lowest price? And, if someone wanted to improve the economic growth of a country, encourage job creation and successful, competitive businesses that could beat out foreign exporters and sell more overseas, would that someone encourage protection and higher costs and lower productivity? Well, let’s see.

Two days ago we posted an essay wherein the president set up a committee of bureaucrats to promote doubling US exports in five years. A little over a year ago, just after taking office, Obama issued an executive order. The order was issued on February 6, 2009. It undid a GWBush order that required federal contracts to go to the lowest bidder in open bidding. The new order says federal contracts must go to union shops only. Forget about right to work laws which many states have. If you want to get a federal contract you had better be a union shop and that the highest prevailing wage be paid to all labor involved in the contract. This order is a very costly political payoff that is exactly the opposite of the type of government action that would work toward making America more productive and more competitive on world markets. Why don’t one of those brilliant economists with names like Bernanke and Summers and Orszag and Reich and Krugman prepare one of their prize winning mathematical models that will show how this order will do anything to cause a consumer in foreign country to buy something made in the US of A?

Here is the order. Read it for yourself. We are not making this stuff up!

Revoking GWBush Open Bidding Orders - http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/executive-order-use-project-labor-agreements-federal-construction-projects  

TheFundamentals has no problem with union shops getting federal contracts or any contracts for that matter. We just happen to know that competition comes from open bidding; where the best provider at the lowest cost prevails. What on earth is the purpose of favoring the union shop? The United States is playing in a large arena with many capable competitors. Union protection decrees and rules and legislation do not make the US more competitive. They make us less competitive. These artificial, anti-market/anti-competition decrees destroy our competitiveness in exports. Will any of Mr. Obama’s bureaucrats on his Export Promotion Committee stand up and state this simple fact? Will anyone ask Mr. Obama about these bad decisions? Please don’t forget this posting come November 2, 2010.