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What we want to continue doing in some of these Wednesday Updates is to look at major events in the news in their larger historical context.... And maybe even how some things will be viewed in 50 years, 100 years or even 500 or 1000 years...
Subject: The coming election,
We Desperately Need a National Consensus on Saving America
(Wednesday, October 17, 2012)
(approx. 5095 words, 9 pp.)
"The Best and the Brightest" minds created our current mess over 40 plus years,
but now we need a common sense National Consensus on Restoring America
Still, the Question must be raised: Is it too late to successfully turn things around?
As Maximus in the movie Gladiator : "The time for half measures and talk is over."
As I write this on October 17, Barack Obama is said on the news to still be leading slightly in many polls over Mitt Romney, even after the shellacking Obama took in the first debate and even after Biden’s unhinged behavior in the vice presidential debate. We have now seen all the candidates clearly for what they are. However, just a month or so ago people were talking about the size of Obama’s coming victory, but now that victory may be in jeopardy. Further, numerous news casts have said the polls are purposely skewed; maybe so, maybe not.
What has happened to the Left in America?
All I know for certain is in a sane world Obama would lose by the largest landslide in American history. Obama’s economic, domestic, and international policies are overtly destructive to the nation and to the ends they purport to attain. We know from his (openly stated) anti-colonialist past what motivates him personally, and why he is so misguided, but being misguided is true of the Left generally.
A "living Constitution" is not only false, but absurd. Homosexual marriage is not only false, but absurd. Basing our economy on Greece is not only a stupid idea but absurd. Stating Sharia Law and the U. S. Constitution are fundamentally compatible (as Obama did in Cairo) is not only false, but ridiculous. Saying we are all now to be "citizens of the world" (as Obama did in Berlin and in The Audacity of Hope), is not only a bad idea, but absurd. One cannot be a citizen of South America or Africa or any other geographical region of the world. One can only be a citizen of a given nation state. The Left, generally represented by the Democrat Party, is not simply wrong about the economy, it is wrong about virtually everything, though even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Clearly we need a national consensus...
Clearly we need a national consensus that we need to change direction 180 degrees, but this alone will hardly solve our problems, at this stage in the game, and in my opinion a new administration may not be able to save this nation, quite simply because we are so far gone.
It is entirely possible, no matter who is President, that in 5 to 10 years that we could see Islamist states through out the Middle East in a United States of Radical Islam. And half measures on entitlement reform and unfunded mandates local, state and national will hardly deflect their bankrupting trajectory. We cannot deal with something as simple as baseline budgeting (that is, automatic increases in the federal budget every year) let alone serious reform and restructuring of government. All I know is what I read in the newspapers.
Chicago School teachers are a case in point?
I heard on the news that Chicago school teachers for what is in essence part time work make on average $77,000 a year, and that is without benefits, healthcare, pension and so forth or, in effect, they make close to $90,000, if not $100,000, one must assume, and if they were teaching full-time that would equal at least $140,000 a year if not more.
I would bet comparable work in the private sector does not pay half that. But they are striking for a 16% increase in pay, at least so I heard. And Chicago is widely said to have some of the worst schools in the nation. And good teachers are not rewarded and poor teachers weeded out, but if you make $140,000 a year who needs to be rewarded?
I personally have a lot of sympathy with the people of Chicago because my own hometown has ever-increasing education costs with ever-higher taxes seemingly year after year, after year, after year. And the quality of education is said to be not very good and not improving, tragically, and it is quite obvious to the Left and media what the solution to this situation is throughout the nation. It is more taxes and more spending.
One definition of insanity is said to be when one continues to do something that does not work thinking it will work if you just do more of it! How many times have we been told that a mere a 5 or 10% tax increase and a mere 5 or 10% increase in the education budget will solve all our problems? Too many times to count?
However, more generally, I have never understood the argument for government workers’ unions with the right to strike. It is often said even FDR opposed this for rather obvious practical and theoretical reasons. The people have the right in a free country to hire people to do jobs for whatever the people want to pay them. Hello? Further, practically government workers’ unions with the right to strike makes for massive political corruption as we have seen in recent years, and often for poor quality work, but besides all these things probably not much wrong with it? The point is special interest greed and a system that allows it to thrive and gain great power can destroy a nation, but what’s new?
The Left gives two faulty paths to choose between..
What the Left argues is we either do everything as we currently are, which is dysfunctional (to desired ends) and bankrupting, or we throw granny over the cliff, or we make her panhandle or something similar. This is just a false dichotomy. The point is we have irresponsible government, and the opposite of "irresponsible government" is not "no government" but "responsible government," but many conservatives are as clueless about this as Liberals?
Tax cuts and deregulation will not solve all our problems as many, if not most, conservatives hold. We are far, far past that "solution," and far past asking mere questions like "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?" and if this is all Romney runs on, he will have no mandate to do the serious changes needed if he is indeed elected.
If Barack Obama and the Democrats were trying to destroy the nation...
If Barack Obama and the Democrats were trying to destroy the nation, they would do exactly what they are doing. That is indisputable, but if Bush had been trying to create the largest artificial economic boom and bubble burst in history, he would have done exactly what he did, cut taxes to the bone with massive financial deregulation with zero down payments for houses, with house notes that people had no realistic chance of paying, etc.
Furthermore, in exchange for this nonsense, Bush "reached across the aisle" (bless his heart) and gave the Democrats virtually everything they wanted, namely, significant expansion of the dysfunctional "entitlement" state. As best I can tell having followed this for years, the establishment Republicans want to grow the dysfunctional entitlement state at 5 or 6% a year and the Democrats at 8 or 10% and Obama at 10 or 15%, but whatever the percentages the argument is always over the rate of growing an increasing dysfunctional government, and nobody (until Romney in the first debate) is talking about responsible and effective government.
Many a commentator has pointed out that it seems all Democrats and Republicans have been doing for 50 years is arguing over how to re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Romney is the first presidential candidate in our time to argue that we had better get serious about our supposedly unsinkable nation, supposedly unsinkable no matter how reckless and irresponsible our policies. We may be heading for unimaginable trouble domestically and internationally if we do not radically change our ways in both areas.
On understanding "entitlement" confusion...
Many of our domestic problems arise from a misunderstanding of "entitlement." Entitlement in fact does not exist. The idea, as most ideas of the Left, is absurd in fact. Further, Social Security is not an "entitlement." It is a mandatory retirement fund, and one is simply getting one’s own money back. And the money is to be kept out of general revenues in a Trust Fund.
So, Bill Smith makes, let’s say, $50,000 a year, and he pays in 14% of his salary per year (with half paid as a "benefit" from his employer), and hence Mr. Smith pays in about $7,000 a year for 40 years. So that when he retires he has paid in $280,000, and of course the government has been investing it at 3 to 6% we’ll say for those 40 years so that the government is holding well over $700,000 for Mr. Smith for his retirement. And they can pay him in benefits $35,000 a year just in interest on his money, and when he dies the $700,000 just sits in the Trust Fund, and the government keeps it. What does this mean? If the system had been run half way honestly, Washington, DC would currently be buried in piles and piles and piles of money. But, as we all know, the Federal government has, in fact, spent Mr. Smith’s $700,000 and every other Mr. Smith’s.
If I am not mistaken, in the private sector one would go to jail for a very long time for robbing a pension fund for company business expenses. So why did the politicians do it? The Republicans like Bush wanted low taxes, and the Democrats wanted massive new programs, and where was that money to be found? In the people’s pension fund. So, it is all gone. But both sides got what they wanted to the detriment of the nation.
This means in fact all of our deficits are presumably far, far greater than publicized because government revenue intake includes the Social Security pension fund, does it not? When in point of fact that money does not belong to the government or in government revenues, but rather it belongs to the people who paid the money into their Trust Fund. At this stage in the game the Social Security "Trust Fund" should have more money than it knows what to do with, but of course it has the opposite problem, and it is generally considered to be too late to fix the problem, or at least to fix easily?
The Republicans have often been as out of it as the Democrats...
How detached from economic reality Obama and the Left are is so well documented that it does not need much comment. It is easy to see in Europe, and we are generally said to be doing the same things in America. But three or four events signaled to me that the Republicans and Bush were just as far gone in the other direction and just as out of touch with economic reality. Saving Social Security may or may not happen but partly privatizing it is hardly a good idea and certainly not a solution to generate more revenues!
And when the economy looked like it might be slowing down, Bush send out $600 income tax rebate checks to most Americans. Hardly the height of economic profundity for long term economic growth, and he also send out similar Social Security checks when COLAs did not require it. And of course, as Mr. Cheney says, "Deficits don’t matter." And here we are.
Programs, Agencies and whole Departments need re-structuring...
We have overlapping and dysfunctional and inefficient poverty and other programs that we cannot pay for, no matter how much we raise taxes, and we have whole government agencies that have been created by Congress to have open-ended authority to do all kinds of truly nutty things. One reads true horror stories in the newspapers on a regular basis concerning agency after agency from the EPA to the Department of Education to the Department of Energy.
As one wag once quipped the Department of Energy has never produced a gallon of gasoline, and the Department of Education has never educated a single child, but these Departments supposedly know better than everyone else how to do both of these things! And of course these two situations are just representative of much larger systemic problems, that simply must be fixed. Romney, to his credit, is the first serious Republican presidential candidate to have any clue about this, given his enormous business experience and success.
Romney may have a date with destiny on these matters if it is not too late to fix things? In fact Romney’s experience in turning failing large organizations around and creating jobs coupled with Ryan’s uncanny ability to crunch numbers and make budgets work could make Romney-Ryan the Dream Team for this particular hour of unprecedented national crisis. Still, has Romney articulated a sufficient even open-ended vision to fix things with a mandate, if indeed he is elected? This is not clear?
Obamacare? What can one say?
Obamacare? A clear disaster but the prior system of healthcare as a tax-free benefit run by insurance companies was not consumer or market oriented, which is ultimately what one would hope to have to make the system more efficient and effective.
How do we restore our manufacturing base?
How do we restore our manufacturing base? Will lower corporate taxes alone do the trick? That is not at all clear? Maybe a combination of things like lower corporate taxes, right to work, and VAT on imported goods (sometimes called tariffs?)? We tell the Chinese to raise the cost of their goods or we will put tariffs on them! This strikes me as a flatly bizarre position to hold. Do the tariffs and forget it, no?
Corporate salaries should clearly be set by the shareholders. The CEO is their employee after all, is he or she not? I personally have no problem with the idea of a minimum wage, for a variety of reasons, but it as the economy has worked out, it has become somewhat irrelevant. I am something of a political pragmatist at some point, and I would trade minimum wage for the right to work, any day. Public unions are currently destroying Chicago and many municipalities, even the Left now says, and private unions destroyed GM. You cannot argue with the facts of history? This is not a matter of "anti-union" but rather how much leverage should any one group have over the entire economic system, private as well as public, where the issues are more obvious and clear-cut in the public sector. Unions as they are currently structured seem to have had their day for the damages they have done?
Taxes and the financial sector?
We have to have a tax system that raises enough revenue to do the desirable programs we want to have, but that is not so high as to damped economic activity. Some Republicans complain that almost half the country pays no income taxes. Well, it is their own fault. They have been running on cutting income taxes for years, but one can only pop the balloon of not paying any income tax but once!
Wall Street is not corrupt as such, but one should not be allowed to play faulty derivatives and investment games with the people’s money. We figured that out after 1929 but are said to have relaxed those rules, and we got another 1929 in 2008. In fact, Andrew Jackson got rid of the US Bank in part because it sought government bailouts when its investments went bad but pocketed the money when things went well. The truth is many companies were not "too big" to fail in 2008, that was just media spin, they were actually "too influential" to fail. And on top of all of this, no one has any clue what is happening at the Federal Reserve. Or, it is said, at Fannie and Freddie for that matter?
So, even if Romney wins...
So, even if Romney wins what is the possibility that he and a new Congress will have the wisdom and ability to restructure the entire federal government and its programs, policies and departments in a way that works and is financially responsible? My own view is the chances are slim, and this is even if he wins in a landslide and has been very clear in the campaigning that he is going to do whatever it takes to get the federal government back on track for the good of the whole nation and in a financially responsible manner.
It seems to me, he has not really made that sufficiently clear in the first two debates in order to have such a mandate if he does win, but if he does make it clear that he is going to do whatever it takes to get the nation back on course with good, effective, and responsible government, it is certainly an open question if he can actually pull it off even with a clear majority in both houses of Congress.
I tend to think that even if Romney wins, he will do too little too late, but that will be far better than Bush who did nothing at all, early or late. Bush got his tax cuts, deregulation, and the Iraq War, and after that he gave the Democrats basically whatever they wanted, and I say they were just a bunch of ingrates. Bush, bless his heart, basically kept the presidential seat warm so the next Democrat president would not get a cold bottom. That was very nice of him, but the truth is Obama was pretty testy for a guy who inherited such a warm seat. And of course Romney is far better than Obama, who is actively seeking to remake or "transform" (read destroy) the country he says himself in a manner of the racial Marxist Jeremiah Wright. What an unprecedented mess we are in.
The economy is bad, unemployment is high, and the nation is deeply divided, and we are in our greatest crisis since the Civil War, and the Left (read Democrats) is tragically wrong, even absurdly wrong, about virtually everything, and Americans coming to see that will not fix our many, many wrong direction problems, but it will give us a true desire to turn things around and by the grace of God the Wisdom to do so, as the nation as a whole stands behind a president committed to such ends, namely, Restoring America.
The situation is unprecedented in history?
Obama openly talks about a diminished military, and he talks big about world peace and carries little or no stick, and he prattles on about colonialism and neocolonialism, and everybody in the media pretends they are not hearing a word he says. Two prominent journalists sat and talked about supposedly not knowing the real Barack Obama before he was elected in 2008. Baloney!
Obama had been an open radical much of his life, and everybody knew it, so such claims of not really knowing Obama in 2008 were a clear and wise CYA (cover your arse), for the coming four years should Obama get elected and prove to the obvious disaster so many feared he would be, but journalists could then say we are on the record of saying we had no idea what he would do! But we are now at a crisis moment as great as the American Civil War in so many social, cultural, political, legal, moral, education, and economic areas about the direction of this country. Will it be Greece and disarmament or George Washington and his Farewell Address. We must choose.
Look, if virtually all the media and all of academia and 47 to 52% of the population cannot (at this stage in the game) figure out the Democrat solution of Greece, disarmament, abortion, homosexual marriage and a "living Constitution" is not the way to go, this nation is in serious, serious trouble no matter who wins this coming election. And in this context the debates so far have been just flat strange.
The debates have been just flat strange..
In the first presidential debate Obama did show up. He was his normal hemming and hawing professorial self throwing around leftist platitudes with no record to defend and with the campaign slogan of going "forward" in "fighting" for us. This has become such common Leftist and Democrat rhetoric over the last few decades that we think nothing of it anymore. But "fighting" whom? Traditional Americans, who cling to their guns, Bibles and the Constitution and of course "rich people," however you wish to define them.
Romney talks about "reaching across the aisle"? Yes, a fine thing to do no doubt, with any and all Democrats and independents that want to set a new as well as traditional course for America. The problems is the Democrat Party as a whole at least since Jimmy Carter 32 years ago has been trying, openly, to change the course of America with an unwise, undesirable, and unreasonable new "path" which they go to DC to "fight" for. And never a single word from the mainstream media because they are in the tank for this baloney and destructive political agenda as supposedly intellectually brilliant and profound.
Biden then makes a total fool of himself...
In the vice presidential debate Biden’s performance can be described with four adjectives: unhinged, boorish, planned, and hence very troubling. Is Biden just pretending to be slightly unhinged or is he in fact? I think there is a general consensus that Biden is only pretending to be unhinged because it appeals to his Liberal Democrat base. But the fact is I find his constant boorish pretending to be unhinged to be a bit more troubling than his actually possibly being a little unhinged.
Let’s be honest we can all be a little out of it at times, but it is a bit strange for someone to take the tack of I am your Vice President and I want to be re-elected so I am going to pretend like I am losing my marbles. For a Leftist that is a profound political strategy perhaps, but I must say the profundity of it totally escapes me. Saturday Night Live is going to have a bit of fun with this? Men in white coats can come on the stage after the debate is over and walk Biden away?
And of course Biden claimed the State Department was responsible for the failed and clearly nutty security policies in Libya, and that he and the President had no knowledge of them. This is Fast and Furious Part Two! It is all Holder’s fault. It is all Hillary’s fault, and I, as the President, had nothing to do with either of them! Does anybody anywhere believe either of those statements? I think not. But even if they are true, they are still an open acknowledgment of incompetence and lack of sound leadership and judgment, and if they are lies, one could add official cover-up to those descriptions of this administration. An exposed incompetent President and an unhinged Biden (pretending or otherwise), what a Presidential ticket! I personally think Obama would have been better served if Biden had literally "not shown up"!
Second presidential debate...
Last night’s second presidential debate was not pretty. It mattered not who spoke first, Obama seemed more often than not to get the last word and the last, very-long word, with Romney promised (by the moderator) time at the end to respond, and when Obama did not like what Romney was saying he would stand up and interrupt it! But Romney rarely if ever interrupted Obama in Obama’s time to speak. In essence, the President (as Biden had done) chose not to respect the format, and in doing so in my opinion probably hurt himself with those not in his committed base, and he offered no clear explanation for his failed polices and initiatives of the last four years. I could think of a handful of reasons why Obama’s policies have failed.
All Obama had to do is say A, B, and C have not worked for these 3 reasons, and we think D, E , and F will work for the following reasons, and my opponent’s policies will definitely not work for these 3 or 4 reasons. Simple enough. But now, after Obama’s double-down on failed policies performance, all Romney has to say, is: "’Forward,’ with these current polices? Please." Look, the fact is things have not worked out well for Obama in the last four years, and Obama does not want to acknowledge that, and he does not want to offer any new polices.
As Carter, Obama is openly doubling down on failed policies, a truly massive mistake of the highest order, but when Obama started talking about his daughter being deported as an illegal Mexican, I had had enough and simply had to turn it off. I am a pretty smart guy, but I was simply unable to follow the "discussion" at that point, such that it was. I do not know if this debate will hurt the sagging president, but I cannot imagine how it will help him. Obama has hardly given a substantive speech in 4 years, and he repeats the same clichés over and over: hope, and change, and fair shot, and fair share, and forward, and massive, massive, irresponsible new social programs, cut the military and raise taxes on the wealthy, and America will become a perfect society with a balanced budget! Excuse me? This is utter nonsense if not just endless empty bombast?
But as is no doubt clear from this essay, it is not at all clear to me that Romney truly has what it takes to turn things around, though he may in fact. Give him a B+ on the night, and Obama a C-, which is much, much better than Obama’s last F performance. The truth is, however, this may all be irrelevant at this stage in the game?
Too little, too late?
At this stage in the game, if the polls are telling us the truth, we are in trouble of historic proportions. There seem to me to be only 3 possibilities Obama wins and continues his policies, only worse, of course, or Romney and Ryan win and do too little too late, or lastly they may win and successfully turn things around, if that is even possible at this late stage in the game, otherwise the Obama/ Federal Reserve bubble, unfunded mandates, massive derivatives markets, etc. will pop no matter who is in the White House, and 2008 will look like a picnic?
The results of the numerous trillions the Fed (under Obama) has pumped into the economy since TARP One (remember that ancient history under Bush?) will be felt one way or another one must figure, sooner or later, in the next 5 or 10 years? And this is also no matter who is elected in November?
Bottom-line? Republicans need a message that will serve them well, win or lose.
Republicans and the conservative movement and Romney in particular must deal with these various realities and possibilities by making it crystal clear that they think we are profoundly on the wrong path, and unless we change direction in both domestic and international policy, we are headed for unimaginable catastrophe. This way if Romney wins, he has a clear mandate to do serious change, a mandate which he is going to need if he is going to turn things around.
And if Romney loses, the Republicans will be in a commanding position of "see, I told you so" if things collapse in Obama’s second term, or in Michelle’s first term after him. It is my opinion if Obama wins this election under these current conditions, the corrupt Chicago political machine will never leave the White House, in most of our lifetimes anyway.
Republicans and conservatives simply have to start thinking in terms of the bigger picture, as the old Communists used to do! We will succeed with time, but it may possibly get much, much crazier before it gets better. Scary thought but entirely possible. But, never forget the script of history is written by our Father in heaven and the good guys eventually win. ("I’ve read the last chapter," as the expression goes.)
Still, I am not optimistic...
It is my personal opinion that Romney is fully committed to serious "half measures," and also in my opinion half measures will be too little too late to stave off serious economic and even world crisis in the not too distant future. It is also my personal opinion after the past four years and having read much of his books that Obama is fully committed to take us over the cliff as a nation socially, culturally, economically, Constitutionally, militarily, and in our international standing generally. Some people in the general population simply cannot "see" this, but many people in the mainstream media and academia cannot, and of course some people are just blithering fools, tragically. If 45% of the country and our "best and brightest" still think (at this stage in the game) that Obama is a messianic figure, we are in big trouble any way you figure it?
My opinion is if Obama is re-elected, this nation will probably not survive in history as we have known it, which of course was Obama’s openly stated goal, and he will in all likelihood successfully complete that goal in another four years. If Romney is elected I do not think we will re-establish this nation on firm foundations, but we will begin the process, but on the whole I am not particularly optimistic about the next 5 to 10 years because things are just too far gone, both domestically and internationally, with generally 40 plus years of gross mismanagement by both political parties, and Romney does not seem to have more than a handful of half measures he wants to do, some of which may not be so hot, and he may have little or no mandate to do much more than that anyway, unless he articulates a clear new-course vision (such as his energy development, strong military, fiscal sanity, responsible government, etc., etc.) and then wins by a sizable majority, neither of which looks very likely at this stage in the game.