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

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010, a Perspective

From a far distance, say we were sitting on the moon, an observer would be looking at our earth and thinking, “Boy, it sure is pretty but not much happening.” We have all seen those NASA photos of the beautiful blue oceans and the white clouds. So, it could be said, that in the universal or natural scheme of things, things are pretty much the same. Our earth has spun, on its own axis, 365 full revolutions at a speed of approximately 1,000 miles per hour. So, that means we covered about 9,125,000 miles just spinning around, assuming you are hanging out somewhere near the equator. Of course, while we were spinning like a top, we were also making one big trip around the sun. Our elliptical orbit around the sun takes one year, as you know. Did you know that the speed at which the earth is moving around the sun is about 67,000 miles per hour? Now that’s really moving. And that a one year trip around the sun covers about 587 million miles (Note: keep this statistic in mind if your spouse says you never take me anywhere.) By the way, our solar system is also moving lickety split in our galaxy and our galaxy is moving at warp speed on a trip to where we are just not sure. But think of it this way. You’re a little kid, in the back seat of the car, and you ask Dad, “Are we there yet*?”

We don’t make this stuff up by the way, check out our facts at: http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/970401c.html

Right about now, if you are a typical reader, you are asking yourself, assuming you have not clicked off this page, just where in the heck is this essay going? How, on earth, is this essay going to tie into fiscal responsibility and debt and dopes in Washington DC? Well, let’s continue on and see if there is a connection.

Okay, so we all know now that we are moving, spinning and we are scooting around the sun at one pretty darn good clip. Our British friend, Mr. Newton, who developed his laws of motion long before we were blessed with the brilliance of men and women like Bush, McCain, Greenspan, Obama, Pelosi and Bernanke, observed that a body in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an external force. This is all available for your reading enjoyment in a publication entitled PhilosophiƦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (aka Principia) dated 1687. We checked out amazon.com to see if it was available. It is. Costs a mere $13.42 and is eligible for free shipping if your order totals at least $25.00. Just go to: http://www.amazon.com/Principia-Mathematical-Principles-Natural-Philosophy/dp/1607962403/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1293716203&sr=8-2

So, back to our 2010 perspective. And here comes the tie in.

Congress is a body. A body politic. Say what you want, and we of course encourage you to do so vigorously and often, that body is in motion. It was in motion throughout 2010. It covered a lot of ground and produced at lot of paper and laws and bureaucrats and rules and encumbrances upon other bodies in motion. In other words, it was the external force that interfered with the motion of other bodies. And, we know only too well the painful consequences of that interference but let us recap quickly and succinctly: deficits = debt = destruction.

So, our perspective on 2010 is simply this. The body congress is in motion, was in motion all year, all 365 days, either directly or through its lingering bodies that it placed in motion. And so it will also be in 2011. And 2012. And so forth. Until it meets an external force!

* For our readers who want to have some real fun, ponder this quote from NASA: “Earth, along with the Solar System, is situated in the Milky Way galaxy, orbiting about 28,000 light years from the center of the galaxy. It is currently about 20 light years** above the galaxy's equatorial plane in the Orion spiral arm.”

** A light year in distance is about 6 trillion miles.  By the way, trillions in currency have become chump change for the boys and girls in congress.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

God Bless the Levins

This story first appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News, December 22, 2005.  It was written by Ronnie Polaneczky, Daily News Columnist:

"AND NOW, in time for the holidays, I bring you the best Christmas story you never heard.

It started last Christmas, when Bennett and Vivian Levin were overwhelmed by sadness while listening to radio reports of injured American troops.

"We have to let them know we care," Vivian told Bennett.

So they organized a trip to bring soldiers from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital to the annual Army-Navy football game in Philly, on Dec. 3.

The cool part is, they created their own train line to do it.

Yes, there are people in this country who actually own real trains. Bennett Levin - native Philly guy, self-made millionaire and irascible former L&I commish - is one of them.

He has three luxury rail cars. Think mahogany paneling, plush seating and white-linen dining areas. He also has two locomotives, which he stores at his Juniata Park train yard.

One car, the elegant Pennsylvania, carried John F. Kennedy to the Army-Navy game in 1961 and '62. Later, it carried his brother Bobby's body to D.C. for burial.

"That's a lot of history for one car," says Bennett.

He and Vivian wanted to revive a tradition that endured from 1936 to 1975, during which trains carried Army-Navy spectators from around the country directly to the stadium where the annual game is played.

The Levins could think of no better passengers to reinstate the ceremonial ride than the wounded men and women recovering at Walter Reed in D.C. and Bethesda, in Maryland.

"We wanted to give them a first-class experience," says Bennett. "Gourmet meals on board, private transportation from the train to the stadium, perfect seats - real hero treatment. "

Through the Army War College Foundation, of which he is a trustee, Bennett met with Walter Reed's commanding general, who loved the idea.

But Bennett had some ground rules first, all designed to keep the focus on the troops alone:

No press on the trip, lest the soldiers' day of pampering devolve into a media circus.

No politicians either, because, says Bennett, "I didn't want some idiot making this trip into a campaign photo op. "

And no Pentagon suits on board, otherwise the soldiers would be too busy saluting superiors to relax.

The general agreed to the conditions, and Bennett realized he had a problem on his hands.

"I had to actually make this thing happen," he laughs.

Over the next months, he recruited owners of 15 other sumptuous rail cars from around the country - these people tend to know each other - into lending their vehicles for the day. The name of their temporary train?

The Liberty Limited .

Amtrak volunteered to transport the cars to D.C. - where they'd be coupled together for the round-trip ride to Philly - then back to their owners later.

Conrail offered to service the Liberty while it was in Philly. And SEPTA drivers would bus the disabled soldiers 200 yards from the train to Lincoln Financial Field, for the game.

A benefactor from the War College ponied up 100 seats to the game - on the 50-yard line - and lunch in a hospitality suite.

And corporate donors filled, for free and without asking for publicity, goodie bags for attendees:

From Woolrich, stadium blankets. From Wal-Mart, digital cameras. From Nikon, field glasses. From GEAR, down jackets.

There was booty not just for the soldiers, but for their guests, too, since each was allowed to bring a friend or family member.

The Marines, though, declined the offer. "They voted not to take guests with them, so they could take more Marines," says Levin, choking up at the memory.

Bennett's an emotional guy, so he was worried about how he'd react to meeting the 88 troops and guests at D.C.'s Union Station, where the trip originated. Some GIs were missing limbs. Others were wheelchair-bound or accompanied by medical personnel for the day.

"They made it easy to be with them," he says. "They were all smiles on the ride to Philly. Not an ounce of self-pity from any of them. They're so full of life and determination. "

At the stadium, the troops reveled in the game, recalls Bennett. Not even Army's lopsided loss to Navy could deflate the group's rollicking mood.

Afterward, it was back to the train and yet another gourmet meal - heroes get hungry, says Levin - before returning to Walter Reed and Bethesda.

"The day was spectacular," says Levin. "It was all about these kids. It was awesome to be part of it. "

The most poignant moment for the Levins was when 11 Marines hugged them goodbye, then sang them the Marine Hymn on the platform at Union Station.

"One of the guys was blind, but he said, 'I can't see you, but man, you must be f---ing beautiful!' " says Bennett. "I got a lump so big in my throat, I couldn't even answer him. "

It's been three weeks, but the Levins and their guests are still feeling the day's love.

"My Christmas came early," says Levin, who is Jewish and who loves the Christmas season. "I can't describe the feeling in the air. "

Maybe it was hope.

As one guest wrote in a thank-you note to Bennett and Vivian, "The fond memories generated last Saturday will sustain us all - whatever the future may bring. "

God bless the Levins.

And bless the troops, every one."

Read more:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Good News of a Great Joy

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirin'i-us was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Luke 2:1-20

Friday, December 24, 2010

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

"'Twas the Night Before Christmas"
By Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter,
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Nativity Story, Updated Version

The light is forming in the east; we know that something wonderful is about to happen.  We wish to share this updated version of our Savior's birth.  It was sent to us by one of our supporters who is a very good person.  Please click on:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZrf0PbAGSk

Friday, December 17, 2010

Where is Scrooge When We Need Him?

Maybe we took the lessons of Messrs. Dickens and Scrooge a bit too far. Perhaps there is some middle ground between being a nasty uncaring selfish old man and embracing the philosophy of the drunken sailor as our national financial psychosis. So, it got us to thinking about a favorite little Christmas ditty and how we might slightly modify the words to fit the present. Here goes.

With all due respect to Mr. Donald Gardner, we would like to offer our version of his song; best sung as if we were youngsters lisping through the toothless gap in our mouth.

All I Want for Christmas is…

Everybody Pauses and stares at me
Just because I borrow as long as you can see
I don't know just who to blame for this catastrophe!
But my one wish on Christmas Eve is as plain as it can be…

All I want for Christmas is a long shutdown,
A long shutdown.
Gee a real shutdown.

Gosh if I could only have a
long shutdown,
Then I would know there really is a Santa.

Its seems so long since I could even say,
“Borrowing Ben’s Banking Obanomics,”
Golly gee just how happy we could be
If we could just stop with the histrionics.

So, all I want for Christmas is a long shutdown,
A long shutdown.
Gee a real shutdown.

Gosh if I could only have a
long shutdown,
Then I would really know there is a Santa.

HO – HO – HO

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How to Create Jobs

Well let’s see. Let’s just go over all the programs and the ideas and the efforts to create jobs.

We’ve had bailout programs.

And, we’ve had stimulus spending programs.

TARP programs. Banks borrow anytime with any collateral.

Stop the bankruptcies; takeover the automobile companies. 

And, we’ve extended unemployment benefits.

And we’ve kept paying top dollar to all the government employees.

Lots of green jobs, wind power, ethanol, Chevy volt. Jobs?

Built a battery plant in Michigan. Unemployment rate: 12%.

And, we’ve kept tax rates low, even for the rich. Doesn’t seem to be working.

And, we’ve eliminated the cola for social security recipients. That didn’t work.

And, we’ve passed equal pay laws. Not sure it's helping.

Big payouts to pharmaceuticals, universities, PBS and farmers. Not a lot of new jobs.

And we’ve paid really rich pensions to all the government employees. Probably good for them, huh?

And, we’ve passed lots of anti discrimination laws. Doesn’t seem to be creating jobs.

We’ve scrutinized every product for defects and flaws. But, where are the jobs?

Paid lots of big settlements to lots of people. That didn’t work.

Lots of laws and bureaucrats to make sure the environment is clean. Jobs?

And we’ve let almost anyone into the country who wants in. That’s a good idea, huh?

Minimum wage keeps going up. That didn’t work.

And we make darn sure anybody can sue anyone for anything. Didn’t work, but the lawyers like it.

And we’ve let almost every government employee join a union. That didn’t work.

And the Fed has lowered interest rates to zero. C’mon that’s gotta work but apparently not.

Heck the Fed will order up currency for any reason and spread it around. Jobs result?

We’ve borrowed more in the last two years than the entire debt was in 1990. That’s right folks; we have borrowed more in the last 24 months, $3.2 trillion, than the entire country owed, the outstanding amount of US treasury securities, just 20 years ago. That should work!

What else can we do?

What haven’t we tried? We mean, that’s quite a list of efforts up there.

We can’t think of anything else we can do. How about you? You got any ideas?

Hmmnn. Let’s just think about this. We should be able to figure it out, huh?

We could ask employers to build their products here in the United States and create the jobs right here? We could have an advertising campaign to point out all the things we've been doing for them? We could have suggestion boxes to get more good ideas like the ones above. We look at the list above and we think we have pretty much tried everything we can do to create jobs. We just need to work harder at all these things. Do more of them. This is not time to give up on all these efforts to create jobs. No sirree, Bob.

Can you think of anything else we can do?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Small Business Owner Speaks

TheFundamentals is presenting this interview to provide first hand input from an individual who has run his own business and who has dealt with the issues that face most small business owners as they compete for clients and revenue; try their best to be good employers and good community citizens as well as successful business operators.

We preface the interview with the following facts and reference: According to the government, 50% of private sector jobs are contained within companies that employ less than 500 employees. In 2006, 60 million people worked for companies with less than 500 employees and 60 million worked for companies with 500 or more employees. Source: http://www.sba.gov/advo/research/rs359tot.pdf   That is a remarkable statistic. But here is an even more compelling fact about jobs and business size: between 1993 and 2009, 65% of the net new private sector jobs in the United States took place in businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

TF: Sir, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Were you aware of the significant impact of you and your fellow small business owners (SBO) in creating jobs?

SBO: You’re welcome. I was not. I knew that we were a factor but I was not aware of that level of importance. I wish, I hope, that more will learn about those statistics.

TF: We imagine that many small businesses have many fewer employees than 500 but they still provide many families with paychecks and insurance coverage and retirement plans.

SBO: Absolutely. We’re one of ‘em.

TF: How would you characterize the climate in America to positively promote small business?

SBO: Not good. I can only speak for the locale where we are located which is a Midwestern state. Small companies must be encouraged, supported and not encumbered with costs, taxes, fees, rules and regulations. We cannot afford to deal with the staff costs, the administration and paperwork, legal fees and lawyers going over rules and regulations, accountant and tax fees and the management time required to attend to these activities. I spend a lot of time on these matters. I am always worried about a law suit. The amount we pay to the state for unemployment insurance is a great concern. Health care costs are overwhelming. Most small companies cannot pay for all the burdens of an aggressive government setting policies and demands on their incomes and their management time and limited resources.

TF: Why don’t you move to a state with more favorable conditions?

SBO: I live here. My family is here. Most small companies are not mobile. We locate where we live. What happens is that small businesses will tend to thrive in a state that favors a pro small business climate and limits taxes, fees, rules and regulations and not thrive in another state that burdens small business with taxes, fees, rules and regulations? I guess I could move but I don’t really want to. And this state is not that much worse than others.

TF: What are the characteristics of small businesses that make it in the public interest to promote them?

SBO: Great question. First the employment numbers you just quoted. Also, smaller companies maintain fairly close relations with their customers. Customers know who to call if there is a problem or if something needs to be solved or expedited. Much more so than with large companies. How do we know this to be true? Think about your own situation. Think about when you deal with a small company like the local plumber or HVAC company and compare that experience to a call to the phone company or the cable company. Compare dealing with a local automobile repair shop with the large car dealer. Think about going to the neighborhood restaurant and compare that with a visit to a nationwide chain. Think about the continuity of employees; the likelihood of direct contact with another human; the telephone experience; the lower costs; the satisfaction of a job well done at a reasonable cost. We offer a lot.

TF: What’s it like to be a small business owner. Are you on the golf course a lot?

SBO: What’s a golf course? Let me tell you something. I’m involved in every aspect of the business. Clients and customers; with the creation and quality of the products and service we offer; with the client training and maintenance of the products and with the training of the staff. I have a couple of key employees I depend on but I know if something is working or not working. If an employee is performing or not performing. If the product or service has a quality problem. I don’t hold a lot of meetings or set up many committees. I know how much it costs to add an employee and how much the non productive cost for social security, Medicare, unemployment insurance; workmen’s compensation insurance; lawsuit exposure; IRA or 401k retirement program costs and medical premiums will be. I know this stuff cold. See how many large business managers know this. I worry about if we are vulnerable to law suits from disgruntled employees and what it will cost us if we have to let a poor performing employee go. All these factors influence the decision making of the small business owner. I worry all the time. I live with these matters 24/7.

TF: Do you make a lot of money?

SBO: On an hourly basis? I wonder if I am even getting paid the minimum wage. Seriously, I pay myself a salary at the same amount as the maximum amount for social security contributions. Any profits made by the business also go on my personal return because we file as an S corporation. So, I pay taxes on my salary and then pay increased marginal taxes on any profits made by their company. If these tax rates are 30 or 40% of the company’s profits, say we make $150,000.00, that means that $45,000 to $60,000 of the company’s profits that could be invested in the company or used to hire a new employee are not available. My company is growing. Profits that go to pay for taxes and all this other stuff are lost forever. I would put the money back in the business. That is the big drawback to high tax rates on the profits of growing small companies. The owners know this simple fact just as they know all the costs of their businesses. I don’t want to borrow from the bank to make up for the tax payments because they will want liens on my home and all other personal assets. I don’t want my family to risk losing our home.

TF: How do all these factors affect your decision to hire new employees?

SBO: One of the biggest encumbrances on growing small companies and their ability to hire new employees is the financial drain caused by increased costs for taxes, fees, social security, Medicare, numerous legal exposures, unemployment insurance, workmen’s compensation and retirement plan costs. I cannot emphasize this enough. Talk to other business owners. Growing small businesses need relief from these government decreed burdens to thrive. That relief has not been forthcoming from either the federal government or many state and local governments in the United States. That is simply why small business is not generating jobs. We need them to back off. It costs too much to add employees and there is too much risk.

TF: Thank you.

SBO: You’re welcome.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

$900 Billion Trap Portends Pending Problems

The president just negotiated a $900 billion tax cut and spending bill, all of which will add to the deficit and debt, with the republicans who said that they just won a majority in the house because the voters want less spending; no more deficits and, hopefully, a plan to start repaying the debt. Mr. Obama’s party members are pretentiously claiming a bad deal. Is anyone buying this charade? Does anyone give oscars to politicians for acting like they’re getting a bad deal when they can’t believe their lucky stars that they not only got this deal but they got it from the republicans who should be totally opposed to this deal? The same republicans who are going to have to explain to their supporters for the next two years why they passed a $900 billion dollar additional borrowing program a few weeks after they got the vote to do the exact opposite?

This is puerile, sophomoric and downright inexcusable DC drama that suggests a growing divide between the responsible citizenry and the irresponsible governance group. We don’t know what the founders meant when they said that elected officials could be thrown out of office for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But if this kind of irresponsible behavior and fiscal promiscuity does not meet any reasonable persons definition of “misdemeanor” then just what the heck is a misdemeanor?

The democrats will ride this thing as far as they can railing against the tax cuts for the high earners and act as if they are looking out for the country and the middle class and so appear to be the real heroes and then, at the last minute, they will vote for it with just enough votes to pass it. Their follow-up comments will be that we really didn’t want this deal with all these high end tax cuts but we had to do it for you. A $900 billion boondoggle that the democrats don’t want? Who writes their bad scripts?

Now here is the other, and perhaps dominant, travesty of this phenomenally fiscally promiscuous deal for the country. Will someone point out one republican who says, “No” to this deal? “We can’t afford it. Already we have too much deficits; too much debt. Time to buck up and focus on spending cuts and not add to the deficits with tax cuts.” Where are the republicans who could not say enough about spending cuts and deficit reductions five weeks ago? Where did they go? Did they lose that script?

So, here is TheFundamentals bottom line. There is no way the democrats will let this bill not pass. What we can’t believe is that there should be no way that the republicans will let this bill pass. So, what you hear/see from the democrats is pure theatre; designed to reinvigorate a defeated party that has no record of accomplishment and has a spectacular record of financial failure. Horrible results from trillions wasted. Horrible jobs numbers. A horrible and still declining competitive record in commerce, education and health care. It is all smoke, mirrors and Hollywood digital effects. It portends poorly for the future.

What we want to know is where are the republicans who should be railing against this bad deal? Is this what we can expect from Mr. Boehner and Mr. McConnell? If so we are lost. It is exactly the opposite of what they should be fighting for. If the republicans would do their job, the one they just go elected majority to do, then the democrats would have to put on a real fight. Not a scripted fight. Then we could start to measure whether we will ever bring fiscal responsibility and sanity to this country. Then we could determine where the cuts will fall. How the burdens will be shared. Then we could see a favorable future.

The responsible citizenry want an end to this foolishness. The politicians and bureaucrats cannot push their bloated stomachs away from the table; they cannot remove the needle from their arm; they cannot empty the whisky bottle down the drain. They are hopelessly lost in the addiction of fiscal promiscuity.

If elections don’t break this addiction and these horrible consequences, what else is there?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Obama Springs $900 Billion Trap

And the party of smaller government takes the bait. Pretty masterful stuff when you examine it. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Here’s what he, Obama, did and here is what the republicans let him do to them:

• Obama gets a huge and costly extension of unemployment benefits on top of an already huge and costly long term extended period of unemployment benefits. In case you don’t know, unemployment benefits are high on his “redistribution” list. 2+ years of unemployment benefits is just plain crazy.

• Obama gets a continuation of the “Bush” tax rates for all the middle class and the low income gang; he will get credit for that, and all he pays for it is….

• …the best campaign issue (tax cuts for the rich) anyone could possibly ask for in two years when he runs for reelection, because…

• …in two years he can force the republicans to either support a continuation of tax cuts for the high wage earners which is a guaranteed win for him with both his base and the many moderates who are sick of the lower tax rates on the high earners or the republicans can abandon that position and, in the process give Obama a big political win right during his reelection campaign.

• And, as hard as it is to believe, in this entire process there is not one penny of spending cuts or government agency cutbacks or government employment reductions or a reasonable facsimile thereof. The republicans had a chance to get something real from Obama and the democrats and what did they do?

• They abandoned entirely the spending reduction trading card and played the low tax rates for the high earners card. They completely ignored the message they just received from the voters and demanded a continuation of low tax rates for high earners without even a small spending reduction. And, they say Obama doesn’t get it?

We elect people to these elevated positions and give them high salaries and lots of benefits; rich pensions so that they shall never want. What we ask of them is to spend our money wisely and carefully and frugally. We don’t ask for bailouts and subsidies and unearned benefits. All we ask is that they control spending; balance the budget and pay down the debt.

Here is a brief reminder for the republicans. The reason you got the majority in the house a month ago has nothing to do with low tax rates for the high earners. It has everything to do with too much government; too much spending; too much debt; just plain too much involvement of government in everything we do. This message can’t be that hard to grasp, can it? So, every time the party in power wants your support, you can demand something in return. If that is too difficult to grasp, read and reread these few words – too much spending, too much debt, too many employees, too many agencies, too many bureaucrats and too many laws. And you trade giving Obama votes for his misguided plans for what the people voted for – less government, less spending, less debt, less almost everything. Do you get it? You get reductions in everything or you don’t go along. It is just not that hard to grasp.

We placed our trust in you and you failed us. The other guy outplayed you. When will you grasp that you must cutback to affordable expenditure levels? If he wants even $1 in tax cuts you get $4 in spending reductions. When will you grasp that you must fight Mr. Obama if you wish to even accomplish minor reductions in his expanded spending and redistribution plans? He wanted to keep the tax cuts for all but the high earners. Fine. Make the deal. All you had to do was say, “Okay, cut the department of education 20% (heck, it should be cut 100%) and reduce all other federal discretionary spending by 15% and we will okay the lower tax rates for the middle class. And by the way, get used to it. Government spending reductions are what the people want and will be the price for compromise (our votes) with us.”

Folks, were sorry to have to tell you but that ain’t no city upon a hill on the banks of the Potomac.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Leadership Series: Competition Works

The departing head of the New York City public school system, Mr. Joel Klein, posted a commentary in the Wall Street Journal dealing with his experience and lessons learned on this job. It is way too important to not be read. You can read the entire, brief article at: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704104104575622800493796156.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

You may have noticed that TheFundamentals is directing some attention to the needed and long overdue changes in our poor performing public schools. This is not to diminish our focus on fiscal, personal and financial responsibility matters. However, the horror show that has now become commonplace in major urban areas involving politicians, teacher unions and poor performing public schools has a profound impact on America’s competitiveness and deficit/debt situation. But those are symptoms; the problem is the failure of these schools for the urban youngsters who don’t have choices. TheFundamentals remains committed to its theme of personal and financial responsibility and fiscal sanity. It just so happens that there is profound linkage between these two principles: the fundamentals of all children getting an opportunity to improve their general Welfare and balanced budgets, wealth and job creation.

Misguided policies that are now accepted wisdom by a large portion of the population and are used by one of America's two major political parties to encourage, promote and tolerate the appropriateness of teachers forming unions to advance their self serving agenda over the very purpose of their being; coupled with their blaring and continual demand for more public money to finance their self serving agenda, needs to be fully disclosed and then discarded once and for all.

It appears that there is a chance that America can grasp this opportunity to do away with these misguided policies. Teachers unions must be dissolved where education outcomes are not attained. Competition into school districts must be implemented where kids are now forced to settle for a crappy education. The competition comes from parents being able to use public moneys to send their kids to performing schools.

There is nothing in this world like the contagion of good competition. It seems to terrify many (AFT, AFL-CIO and NEA) but it sure develops the human spirit and the human condition. What do you think the Chinese would do with nonperforming teachers demanding more pay, more pensions and more days off?

Here are a few straight forward comments, taken from the above article, written by Mr. Klein (TheFundamentals comments are in the parentheses):

• It's now proven that a child who does poorly with one teacher could have done very well with another. (So much for the teachers blaming the parents)

• …we were told that education isn't a business. Maybe so, but whether it's health care, education or any other service, poorly-structured, non accountable delivery systems cost a fortune and don't work (In a few concise words, Mr. Klein has just described the entire causal relationship that is the backing for the all the remedial themes of TheFundamentals)

• Competition works (no one could say it more concisely; competition is the answer to Americas horrific bubbles in government spending, health care and education. Competition terrifies government employees and teachers and the unions they form to keep competition away)

• We must stop protecting ineffective teachers….(Why is this just not done?)

• Every school has to be one to which we'd send our own kids. We are not remotely close to that today. (Not much more to say after digesting this indictment of large portions of America’s education system)

Mr. Klein is 64 years old. He’s a lawyer. He is also a Democrat (we think) and a refugee from Clinton’s white house. We are in absolute awe of his ability to overcome these obstacles. (Aside: we are, of course, just kidding.)

What is he? Well, after reading his comments, he is the hope of tens of thousands of kids who are ignored every day of every week by the NEA, the AFT and the political party that caters to them.

He is also a leader. May we say it again with emphasis. MR. KLEIN IS A LEADER. And that is why we dedicate this Leadership Series essay to him.

TheFundamentals hopes that Mr. Klein will take on all these miscreants in his new job. He has the credentials, the moxie, the cojones and, hopefully, the will to save these kids. If that is his mission, and we sure hope it is, he deserves our support in a big way!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dick and Jane: School, Yes; Unions, No

It is time to outlaw, as in make illegal, teachers unions and to do away with all non performing public schools. It is simply time to make available to students and their parents alternatives for education that is paid for with public funds. Everyone agrees that education is the fundamental basis; the foundation for the development of the individual and the progress and safety of the community. In too many school districts parents do not have the choice of a good school with good teachers and good performance results. They are forced to place their children in schools with inadequate leadership; inadequate teachers and performance records that contradict the fundamental need to advance both the individual and the community.

How long is America prepared to let a sizable portion of its youth go un and under educated because of the political power of greedy teachers and administrators and union personnel? How many more children will never experience the joy of educational accomplishment? How many more children will never learn the basic fundamental lesson of competing through study and hard work to attain the satisfaction of a high grade and other recognitions for a job well done?

There is nothing in the United States Constitution about the right to an education. There is nothing in the constitution about being able to go to a school with an established record of accomplishment. Nothing about students being able to read and write and think and examine and analyze and conclude about decisions that will determine a good portion of their future and their ability to pursue opportunity.

But guess what? There is nothing in the United States Constitution about the right of teachers to join a union and to negotiate with the threat of strike and work reductions for time limitations, limited work schedules and high paychecks and pensions. Nothing at all.

But the constitution does state that it is about promoting the “general Welfare” of the people and Welfare does not mean handouts or work stoppages or competition limits. It means opportunity and well being and prosperity for the people. It means a chance to do better.

So, if you were asked to make a decision as to which right is more important: The right to a good education and the right to be able to prepare yourself to your maximum potential versus the right of the teacher to negotiate a large paycheck with lots of work restrictions and days off, which right would you prioritize?

TheFundamentals chooses the right to an education and the right to opportunity and the right to compete. TheFundamentals rejects the right of teachers to unionize; to threaten or implement work stoppages and to restrict their efforts and not be measured and either promoted or terminated based on performance. To us it is a no brainer!

Education is no place for unions; for work limitations or for non performers. Education is about promoting the general Welfare and that means competition and accomplishment and performance. It means opportunity for everyone who wishes a chance.

Please read this article and then let us know how you would vote. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-cps-admissions-dance-20101129,0,3374642.story

It is time to outlaw teachers unions and it is time to open up public education to competition. If the rich and the middle class and the suburbanites wish to participate, so be it. They are not our concern. Oh no. They have it figured out. Just like the politicians and bureaucrats who get their kids in the good private schools. It is time to do it for the kids who would like the opportunity to compete and show their stuff. We, at TheFundamentals, happen to believe that the future of this country rests with those who want a chance to participate and to compete for the opportunities that either exist or will be created by the very act of getting an education and creating opportunities. We believe that the future lies with those who are being short circuited right now by a bad system. This country can no longer afford to discard its bright but disadvantaged youngsters in crappy schools so that a coddled group of protected non performers can keep their jobs.

We vote for kids who want a chance. We vote for youth; education; hard work; accomplishment and opportunity. Throw the unions out. Dick and Jane want to go to school to learn then three R’s not union rules.

How do you vote?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

America,The Face of Your Fear

The face of fear:  a nineteen year old kid from Somalia (average life expectancy – 50 years; religion – Sunni Muslim.) We let him in to our country and we made him a citizen. Doesn’t that warm the very depths of your “melting pot” heart? Aren’t you grateful for the government that is constantly telling you about their needed services to the public and their “looking out for you” mentality and how all that they do is for your safety; whether it’s at the airport or conducting the 9:00 pm roadblock to check your insurance card and breath; or the labels on your pillows, toys, soup cans and cigarette packages? The cameras all over the place. The locked down buildings that contain the millions of their employees.

Here is what it comes down to. The very government that removes thousands of dollars from your pocket every year in every conceivable way while justifying the removal of your money for all these fancy services and tests and processes and rules and laws and bureaucrats and union rules ad nauseum gives entry and then citizenship to a Muslim kid from Somalia, actually encourages him to become a citizen, and then when it finds out he didn’t really mean the oath he took, the one that says…

"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."

…they set him up with phony explosives so that they could look like heroes when the stupid kid bought into the whole package. Is America great or what? Well, America here is the face of your fear:

This kid is who you should fear according to the gun toting bureaucrats who worked with the kid and then saved us all from his misadventures. Tremble in your shoes America. This threat is the justification for spending trillions of dollars on homeland security and foreign wars. Of building bureaucracies that do not have a clue what each other is doing. Of creating destructive debt burdens that outweigh in reality and certainty any possible level of damage this kid and his ilk could possibly do.

America, if you are afraid of this kid, you are getting exactly what you deserve!