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

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Shake down the thunder from the sky...

“Notre Dame files religious liberty lawsuit related to HHS mandate”

click on arrow at right and enjoy this stirring victory march as you read the post --

we will fight in every game…

“The University of Notre Dame filed a lawsuit Monday (May 21) challenging the constitutionality of a federal regulation that requires religious organizations to provide, pay for, and/or facilitate insurance coverage for services that violate the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

…wake up the echos cheering her name…

“Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, the lawsuit names as defendants Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and their respective departments.”

…what though the odds be great or small…

“The federal mandate requires Notre Dame and similar religious organizations to provide in their insurance plans abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures, which are contrary to Catholic teaching. It also authorizes the government to determine which organizations are sufficiently “religious” to warrant an exemption from the requirement.”

…shake down the thunder from the sky…

“Notre Dame’s lawsuit charges that these components of the regulation are a violation of the religious liberties guaranteed by the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and other federal laws.”

…send the volley cheer on high…

“This filing is about the freedom of a religious organization to live its mission, and its significance goes well beyond any debate about contraceptives,” Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president, wrote in a message to members of the campus community. “For if we concede that the government can decide which religious organizations are sufficiently religious to be awarded the freedom to follow the principles that define their mission, then we have begun to walk down a path that ultimately leads to the undermining of those institutions."

…while her loyal sons are marching…

 “Notre Dame’s lawsuit was one of 12 filed Monday against the federal government by 43 plaintiffs challenging the constitutionality of the regulation.”

…onward to victory.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Woman Comments on Mr. Obama

Many of you have seen Campbell Brown on news shows, reporting and offering commentaries on current and political matters.  She is thoughtful and, like most Americans, has the ability to listen to both sides of an issue and reach an independent conclusion.  She also has what we call, “fundamentals,” which is our convenient way of saying certain values that assist in her conclusion forming process.

Please read her recent comments on Mr. Obama here:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/20/opinion/sunday/obama-condescending-to-women.html?_r=3&smid=tw-share  You can conclude for yourself if you agree with her or not.  But we would like to use the occasion of her comments in a major Hollywood media newspaper by asking you to spend a few minutes on one item referenced in her essay – Mr. Obama’s Web Ad, “The Life of Julia” which can be seen by going here:

We were directed to “The Life of Julia” two or three weeks ago and found it just plain “creepy.”  Frankly, it was in direct violation of the basic parental guidance of teaching youngsters about “stranger danger.”  It is also a very telling but uncomfortable insight into the thinking of both Mr. Obama and the people surrounding him and their predictable view of American women who they obviously think will vote for them as long as they have something to give to them.  They believe they are the “candy man.”  And they have something good to offer American girls/teenagers/women at every milestone in their lives.  Here is how they describe the goodies –

·         3 years old – head start program

·         17 years old – high school run under Obama’s “race to the top program

·         18 years old – college under Obama’s “American opportunity tax credit” program and receives a Pell grant

·         22 years old – first surgery, paid for because of Obamacare which lets “Julia”  stay on her parents health insurance until age 26

·         23 years old – first job protected by the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act – signed by Obama

·         25 years old – student loans are affordable because Obama kept her payments and interest rate low

·         27 years old – free birth control

·         31 years old – first child is now due, thanks to Obama.  All free.

·         37 years old – child/grandchild gets to go to good schools because Obama provided them

·         42 years old – child/grandchild wants to start a business and who is there to help?  Obama, of course, with his small business loans and his tax cuts

·         65 years old – ready to retire; gets Medicare and all the drugs she wants. Free, of course, from Obama

·         67 years old -  Obama’s social security payments awaiting her

Campbell Brown calls this a “silly and embarrassing caricature based on the assumption that women look to government at every meaningful phase of their lives for help.”

We call it what it is – a fellow at the end of the street, waiting in the car with the window down; waiting for your child to walk by and offer her some candy and, maybe, a ride to school or to the zoo or the park.

We call it sick.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bernanke's Inconvenient Truth

Bernanke to congress – February 2012:  “…inflation will remain subdued.”

Source:  BLS

Now mind you, no one should interpret the following observation as any endorsement of America’s desperately hypocritical laws making lying to a government employee a crime; a serious crime; a felony, but given the contrast between Ben’s remarks, probably not sworn, and the impact on us regular folk and Roger Clemens remarks to congress about steroid use – the ridiculous indictment of the latter for lying and the ridiculous ignorance of the former who is draining the savings accounts of America’s responsible middle class and seniors, TheFundamentals would suggest that the wrong person has been indicted.

Ben, you are either incredibly ignorant or you are a prevaricator worthy of 1st degree recognition, a title currently held by Bill Clinton and John Edwards.  Of course you may consider that good company.  In either case, you deserve what used to be called “the bums rush.”

Roger Clemens needs to be found not guilty and the law under which he has been indicted needs to be tossed in the gutter in which we can only hope Ben is resting comfortably come this November.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Know - It - Alls

The theme of today’s essay is – best to stay away from know-it-alls.

The sub theme of today’s essay is – if a company that is in the business of taking and managing risks makes a whole lot of money in a year, say almost 20 billion dollars, and then it announces that it lost 2 billion dollars, give or take, on a bet it says was not well thought out, should the chattering class (Know – it – alls) use it as an example of greedy business men who need to be regulated?

Should we regulate anew every time a guy or gal or business take a risk and lose and someone comes along after the fact that never does anything but always has an opinion on what everyone else is doing?   What should we do when Monday morning quarterbacks with a megaphone or a microphone or a well paid government job chime in with their after the fact analysis?

This mentality of after the fact wisdom coming from never do’s is now a substitute for being in the arena doing the deed.  We now substitute after the fact analysis, opinion and political speech as a viable alternative for doing something.  Tens of thousands make their living commenting on what people who do something do.  After they've done it.

Think about it.  A congressman, senator or bureaucrat, never a day in a real life job or a real life risk taking situation or actually putting their  own money on the line; a union boss or a union member never once risking their money or taking a chance on their idea and gathering up investment funds from the family; the neighbors; the bank; you name it – are telling the ones in the arena how do something or how not to do something.  And, when they tell you, it ends up becoming the law of the land and it costs the taxpayers a lot of their money.  They don’t just chatter; they legislate or get the bureaucrats and the legislators they own to pass the laws and the rules.

The commentary about this two or three billion dollar loss by a bank that is government insured is now so distorted and disconnected from facts and figures as to be hysterical nonsense. This same government spends hundreds of billions each year with no accountability; wastes tens of billions each year on its security and war activities and "invests" billions in its green energy activities with no public disclosure.  10 years after September 11, 2001, America is 16 trillion dollars in debt; worshiping a warrior mentality that feeds the military/industrial complex while still leaving America and its “allies” vulnerable enough to whatever our ill defined enemies have in store for us as to require naked visionary screening at airports and drones flying over North Dakota to keep the homeland safe.

America was founded as a nation of laws; not Know – it – alls.  Actually a fairly simple, straight forward law.  Keep government limited – leave the states autonomous and, most importantly of all – put the citizens in charge; no Know – it – alls.  It is now reversed and the government chattering class runs everything which means the people who are always right on Monday morning, rule.  And the people who do things and make things including mistakes are always subject to a smarter person advising them after the fact and rewriting the rules of the game(s).

Win – win – win.  Just listen to the smart guys/gals – you cannot get away from them.  If they were doing it they would always win; always be right; never make a mistake.  That is the definition of a politician, certain lawyers, all bureaucrats, Hollywood media types and most candidates for office.  They are always right.  Never do anything but they know best.  How can you make a mistake if all you do is comment on what others do?  After it’s done?  Go here to read one of America’s all-time Know – it – alls yap about the bank mentioned above:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/14/opinion/krugman-why-we-regulate.html?_r=1&ref=global-home  or, in the sake of gender equity, go here to read about his female persona:  http://www.boston.com/Boston/politicalintelligence/2012/05/elizabeth-warren-seeks-ouster-top-jpmorgan-official/011TJhknlkRd2eZVbRSqtN/story.html

Could it be that the Know – it – all gang is not all that they promote themselves to be?  Perhaps it is time to regulate them.  Out of existence. But how could we do that?  Actually wouldn’t take much at all, just:

·         Term limits
·         Balance the budget
·         Annual professional audits – reporting, accountable and liable to the people only – no one else; of every dollar taken in or spent or committed to be spent by any government anywhere in the country. (By the way, private companies already do this.)
·         Break up the Hollywood media gang (big source of the chatter)

America needs a new cabinet office – Department of Know – it – all.  No pay; no benefits; no pensions; no office space; just titles.  Every time a Know – it – all speaks they get assigned to the department as a confirmed Know – it – all.  Second time they get promoted – Senior Know – it – all and, third time, final promotion: Ambassador of all Know – it – alls.  TheFundamentals nominates Paul Krugman, number one ambassador of the Know – it – alls!  Elizabeth Warren qualifies for Sr. Know – it – all; well on her way to ambassador status.  These Know - it - alls love recognition.

You know, it's a funny thing.  TheFundamentals can Monday morning quarterback with the best of 'em.  Only one difference.  We don't do it with other people's money - we risk our own.  We accept any rewards that follow and we don't complain about losses that may occur.  It's called life.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Where are the Moderate Democrats?

Are they all leftist, liberal, crazed ideologues who can only imagine an utopia built on borrowed money, sodomy and mythological dreams of their fathers, grandmas, unborn children and whomever the Hollywood media decides should receive the fleeting focus of self indulgent, massively rich but desperately undisciplined, heroes.
Where are the moderate Democrats?  Is there no such thing anymore?

Have they all sold out for the Bernanke promise of devalued currency and “what me worry?” nonchalance of a fiscally irresponsible majority in the senate; until recently a large fiscally irresponsible majority in the house of representatives and the most fiscally irresponsible president of the United States of America, ever?  Obama has added more debt to the United States in a little over three years than the foolish Bush II did in eight years!!!  That’s a fact.

Where are the moderate Democrats?

Do they not exist?  Is every Democrat a spend, borrow and then spend more because we can still borrow more undisciplined fop?  Do they really think you can build a future society based on borrowed money, sodomy as a substitute for marriage and family and free birth control/abortions/sterilization under the sham of women’s health care?

Is this the ideology of every Democrat in the senate and the house?

Is there no Democrat left who values living within their means, doing without, sacrificing, cutting back, and just plain leaving citizens on their own to deal with some of their health, education and societal challenges?

America now totals over 300 million citizens.  This is not Greece or Germany or Italy or Spain or Ireland or even the United Kingdom.  We are a massive country with an out of control political class supported by a dominant, all-controlling bureaucracy which gets it way everywhere – locally, at the state level and the federal level.  We are not a constitutional democracy anymore.  America has devolved into a bureaucratic monstrosity.  The people don’t control anything; the bureaucracies run everything, including the silly politicians who establish them and grant their every wish for more borrowed funding.  Is there no moderate Democrat who recognizes what their party has done and where this distorted governance leads?

TheFundamentals watched in shame and disgust as Bush II and Greenspan and Cheney made a ruin out of financial soundness and tempered foreign involvements.  And, while those foolish men did their damage, many of their party acted much as Democrats do today – they go along; they vote for the damage; they do not challenge or speak up.  Only after they were tossed out of power did they find their values and their voices.  It’s too late then. 

We have opened our doors and our boundaries and our airports and our schools and our job market and our technological development laboratories and our wallets to darn near anyone who wishes to partake.  This openness has built the Democratic Party into the majority party in the country.  Is there no self control that goes along with this largesse?  Can no one who embraces this concept of deficit spending and vote buying see that it is a fool’s errand?  A trap?  A suicidal mission of destruction?  Is there no responsibility lesson that accompanies the Democrat vision of endless power?

Where are the Democrats who will stand up to this craziness and just say, “Stop.”  “Enough.”  “We cannot stay this course.”

Some are now rumbling that the Obamacare nonsense about forcing Catholic organizations to offer free, mind you we are talking no co-pay; no deductible; no nothing but just show up and get it for free (are these fools really of the mind that things are free?) birth control/sterilization/abortions and all the fancy new hybrid ways of preventing a conception; may be a step too far?  Are you kidding?  They think it may be a step too far?  Think of this situation.  The majority party has abandoned all values; all historical fundamentals and all sensibility that would normally produce some discipline to rein in the foolishness.

There is no way America can survive when its majority party is drunk at the helm and unconcerned about the course they are following.  Even a majority needs a few teetotalers to keep it on course.

This majority has nary a one.  Well maybe they have one in Rhode Island - in Gina Raimondo (see:  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-10/gina-raimondo-math-convinces-rhode-island-of-america-s-prospects-with-debt.html ).  Have they all embraced Obama’s dreams from his papa?  Do they think that the church of Obama is the way “forward”?  Where are the moderate Democrats who will speak against the foolishness of their majority and their leaders?  America has never experienced this level of sycophantic behavior.

Add in the Hollywood media and you are now sitting in the back seat of Thelma and Louise’s car as it caroms over the cliff.  Thank you Democrats.  Thank you progressives.  Thank you liberals.   And most especially thank you moderate Democrats.  Your acquiescence has done what neither Bush II nor Osama could - Mission Accomplished.

We hear that even Bill Clinton asks the same question.  He points to his wife and says, “We need you.  The country needs you.   Challenge Obama.  Obama is an amateur.”

America desperately needs a few moderate Democrats – fast.  Mrs. Clinton obviously decided to remain “loyal” to her boss – too bad.  Too bad for us; too bad for the country.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

America's "Otherwise Engaged" Labor Force

Let’s start by looking at the facts about America’s labor force.   

First, the BLS (bureau of labor statistics) suggests that the US population from which the labor force is drawn is citizens over the age of 16.  Here is the chart of that population group since 1990:
This chart shows that the population has risen steadily and significantly over the last 22 years, going from 188 million to just over 243 million – 50+ million more Americans now eligible for the work force.

Next let’s look at the BLS numbers for those who are in the workforce meaning those citizens who are either working or looking for work (the rest are otherwise engaged.)

This chart shows that a fair number of those who could be in the work force are otherwise engaged.  Specifically, those in the workforce in 1990 numbered 126 million and in 2012 numbered 154 million, an increase of only 28 million during the 22 year period.   This means, simply, that about one-half of those who could be in the workforce were working or looking for work.  Which means about one-half were otherwise engaged.

So, we can conclude that joining the labor force by either working or looking for work is a declining activity in our country.

Now, let’s look at the numbers for these folk who could be in the labor force, either working or looking for work, but are not, over this 22 year period:

Wow.  A lot of people are not much interested in working it seems.  It is apparently in vogue to be “otherwise engaged.”  It’s even more interesting to just look at the participation rate in the labor force (those who are working or looking for work) as a percent of the total labor force over this 22 year period.  Here is that chart:

More folks are just not working anymore and, surprisingly, it is not just an Obama phenomenon is it?  The rate of people getting into the labor force held pretty steady until 2001 – at about 67%.  It is now below 64% and was dropping during most of Bush II’s term (we would ask our convenient Keynesian friends to address this fact) and then really  dropped under Obama.  Is that what he means when he says hope?  Hope you don’t have to work?  Dreams of my father – hope you’re not working?

So, what can we conclude from these facts?  Let’s ask some questions first:

1.    Why would the labor force participation rate decline even before the recession and the housing bubble bursting and the financial system getting shaky?

2.    Could it be that there is now something systemic in our governance/entitlement/expectation system that gives citizens a way to not work?  An attitude or inclination to not work?  Enough goodies to get by without working?

3.    Could there be a correlation between deficits and rising debt (we didn’t show these numbers today but, as you know, they have skyrocketed during the period 2001 to present) and the inverse effect on labor participation rate?  The more deficits and debt the fewer people who work or look for work?

4.    Could there be a message in these numbers that the stimulus and the bailouts and the programs of unemployment checks and reductions in social security premium payments and all the rest of the goodies government now offers (Keynesian economics, of course) actually prolong and perhaps even encourage people to not work?

5.    Or could it just be that we are so rich a society at all levels that more and more citizens over the age of 16 just don’t need to work?  LBJ’s great society is upon us?  Maybe we all should quit complaining?  We made it?  This is the great society.

We can reach two conclusions – regardless of whether you are defined as left, middle or right or progressive or conservative or libertarian or not really sure – we cannot raise enough revenue to pay our government bills these days and that situation is not improving.  It’s worsening.  Remember, you can never get away from deficits = debt = destruction. 

Two, we could also conclude that prior to 2001, things were better.  Now, they could have been better for passing reasons – internet growth, technology expansion creating new businesses and many new jobs; growing demand for US products overseas before overseas manufacturers got in the game; no wars draining the treasury; and, maybe a bit less of this idea that more government is good for all.

Perhaps the change that we really need is a Clinton in the white house.  Or one heck of a push to develop new technologies which would mean a laissez faire (suspend all government rules, laws and bureaucratic involvement) attitude toward new business creations; cut back government spending to 2001 levels; get rid of the Bush tax cuts and the Medicare drug program and quit with the ^%*$%#  wars.

Oh, for the good old days!

And one more conclusion – a fact.  If the labor force participation rate held at 67% (good old days of Bill Clinton) the unemployment rate today would be over 12% which is a nice way of saying – don’t believe your government statistics – they’ve been jiggered.  America is trending rapidly toward a non-working, “otherwise engaged” labor force.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Economists - The Dismal Scientists

The theme of today’s essay is – be careful to whom you trust your economy.   We will explain later.

This essayist attended business school many, many years ago.  Back then, may still be the case today, one needed to apply to business school.  Many applied; some were chosen.  If you applied and were not chosen, what did you do?  Well, in our experience, those who were not chosen stayed in the liberal arts college and studied “economics.”

Why study economics you may ask?  Well, the sense back then was that you could still try to get a job in business and pass yourself off as having studied a “business related” curriculum.  But if you were in business school the word was out – economics was easier - not as disciplined; theoretical - not as disciplined and rather out of touch with the case study based curriculum in the business school.

So, what is with this case study based curriculum in the business school?  Well, Harvard had the original franchise on it but places like the University of Michigan refined and improved it.  The idea with this teaching approach was taking a set of real life facts and situations (the case) and studying the case and analyzing the facts and situations to come up with proposals for moving forward – solving the situation and, at the end of the exercise, examining the student’s solutions with the actual resolution in the market place.  In other words, testing theoretical solutions with real solutions and applying measurement metrics against results.

This was deemed to be a vigorous and healthy disciplined process.  Not the undisciplined theoretical nonsense of the economics department in the liberal arts schools. 

So, what has this to do with the mess we are in? 

·         Alan Greenspan –  B.S., M.A., Ph.D. Economics - New York University

·         Ben Bernanke –  B.A. Economics – Harvard; Ph.D. Economics – MIT

·         Peter Orszag –  A.B. Economics – Princeton; M.Sc., Ph.D. Economics – London School of Economics

·         Larry Summers –  S.B. Economics – MIT; Ph.D. Economics – Harvard

·         Alan Krueger – Ph.D. Economics -  Harvard

·         Timothy Geithner –  A.B. Gov’t. Studies - Princeton; M.A. Int’l. Economics – John Hopkins

·         Christina Romer –   Ph.D. Economics – MIT

And, our favorite of all time -- Paul Krugman  -- B.A. Economics - Yale; Ph.D. Economics  -  MIT.  BTW, Paul supported John Edwards for President.

In July of last year, the white house council of economic advisers issued a report on the success of the Obama recovery act (2009) which cost the US taxpayers $666 Billion when the report was issued with another $106 Billion committed but not yet spent for a total of $772 Billion which looks like this is dollars and cents:

The report said the spending created at least 2.4 million jobs and maybe as many as 3.6 million – “As of the first quarter of 2011, the report estimates that the Recovery Act raised employment by 2.4 to 3.6 million jobs relative to what it otherwise would have been.”  Source:  http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/cea_7th_arra_report.pdf

That’s not bad, huh?  2.4 million at least; heck, maybe as many as 3.6 million and it only cost $772 Billion.  So why are we writing about these dismal scientists, these Keynesian economists?  Well, if they had only learned basic math in their studies they would have divided the 2.4 million jobs “estimate” into the $772 Billion spent or committed and calculated the cost per job at….drum roll please –

$321,666.67 per job

You do the math if you think for a minute that their 3.6 million estimate is even worthy of calculation.

These well “educated”  economists are only lacking three things:

1.    Real life experience
2.    Real life experience
3.    Real life experience

Be careful to whom you trust your economy. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mission Accomplished: Osama or Obama?

We have heard that Mr. Obama is running around reminding voters that he put the bullet in Osama’s head a year ago so you should vote for him this November.  Sounds like cheap political crap to this essayist but, as someone else pointed out, the guy has a dearth of real accomplishment to point to so you use what you’ve got.  However, that is not the focus of this essay. 

Our focus is Osama’s objective and Obama’s objective and the very strange alignment of the two objectives.

Here is an Osama observation made in 2004: 

“All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations," bin Laden said.

Bin laden went on to say, “"We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah,"

And this bin Laden historical observation, “"We, alongside the mujahedeen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat,"

In the article Osama estimates that the cost of the 9/11/2001 attacks was US$500,000 or one half of a million dollars.  It is safe to say that America has spent at least one trillion dollars fighting Osama and his boys since then and that would suggest a ratio of about US$2,000,000 spent by America for every $1 spent by Osama and his gang.  An astounding ratio of 2,000,000: 1.

Now, let us remind our readers again of the of the US debt on certain dates:

9/11/2001 – $ 5.8 trillion (attack on World Trade Center)

5/1/2003  --  $ 6.5 trillion   (Bush II speech “Mission Accomplished)

5/2/2011   – $14.3 trillion (Obama puts bullet in Osama’s head)

5/1/2012   – $15.6 trillion (Obama crows about bullet in Osama’s head)

So, we pause before we say what should be obvious to even a casual observer. 

Osama stated his mission quite clearly as noted above.  If you find even a passing causal relationship between debt and bankruptcy, you would need to conclude that those in charge of America’s borrowing/debt situation for the last 11 years are he** bent on fulfilling Mr. Osama’s prediction.  We at TheFundamentals find ourselves almost speechless in writing this observation but we darn well would suggest a rather rapid reconsideration of the deficit spending/massive borrowing path bin Laden laid out for us and that we are so willingly pursuing.  Alas, we have been so suggesting for some time now but the debt just gets bigger and bigger.

America’s leaders are fulfilling Osama’s mission on their own.  Terrifying thought that the bad guys will ultimately be able to unfurl Bush II’s banner from the 5/1/2003 USS Abraham Lincoln speech and use it just as Osama predicted.