About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

From Discouraged Worker To Suicide Victim

Full disclosure - I know people whose future is poverty, homelessness, & suicide.  I have known people who have committed suicide.
click on graph to enlarge
Robin Williams suicide by hanging has brought to the fore the fact that suicides of people aged 45 to 64 has increased sharply since 1999 so that this cohort now makes up the largest group of people committing suicide (see above graph). 
Thanks to economic illiteracy of the masses & just plain poor (or no) financial planning whatsoever people who have little savings, small pensions, or no family to rely on are very susceptible to this tragic ending so much so that deaths caused by suicide exceeded those caused by auto accidents in 2011 – source the CDC & the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 
Today people known as discouraged workers know the hopelessness of trying to find employment & when another prominent suicidal trait is added such as depression, loneliness, or chronic pain from a physical condition they become a candidate for suicide.  A discouraged worker is someone who drops out of the labor force because they cannot find work.  They move in with family & live a life of part time under the table jobs if they are lucky, receive a government benefit check or two, & are the cause of spending down their families' wealth.
This problem only increases as the baby boomer generation ages & its members become more alone with no savings, pension, or family of any means to help support them. 
The oldest of the baby boomers is now 68 – so this generation is well into the age group that is normally considered retirement age which accentuates this problem. 
The financial downturn of the past 6 years increases the possibility that workers over 45 with limited skills who have been laid off see the impossibility of finding gainful employment again in their lifetimes.  This does not immediately lead to someone committing suicide but make no mistake – this type of situation is only the fault of the person himself who did not continue to take the responsibility to get the training & experience necessary to make a living for himself & his family.
Some of the real long time subscribers to RTE will remember this contribution from 2007 from one of several doctors who subscribe to RTE:
"I thought about what we talked the other day. I would like to add the following to what you wrote about depression.  It looks like your friend was an example of burnout in which body and mind are strained, developing emotional and physical fatigue due to high stress. The involved person becomes overwhelmed and depleted of energy. Sadness, anger or indifference can set in.  Since burnout is a physical and psychological response that is connected to feelings about a work situation, it is important to attend to the mind as well as the body.  Burnout, if not treated leads to or reactivates depression.  Some of the other symptoms are: Powerlessness, hopelessness, drained, frustrated, detached from people and things, insecure about one's competence and abilities. The person's relationships fall apart, productivity drops, work deteriorates and the end result is suicide if the condition is not detected and treated."
The purpose of this post is to help all of us detect the symptoms of friends or family that can be treated in time.
1.  A person dies by suicide every 16 minutes in the U.S.
2.  A suicide attempt is made every minute of every day.
3.  Depression is the leading cause of suicide.
4.  One in twelve teenagers will attempt suicide.
Warning Signs:  If you know someone with one of these signs look for another.  If you find a second sign look for help.
1.  Depressed mood.
2.  Loss of interest in usual activities.
3.  Change in appetite or weight.
4.  Change in sleeping patterns.
5.  Speaking &/or moving with unusual speed or slowness.
6.  Decreased sex drive.
7.  Fatigue or loss of energy.
8.  Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach or guilt.
9.  Diminished ability to think or concentrate.
10.  Reckless behavior.
11.  Withdrawal from family, friends, & society.
12.  Thoughts of death.
Prevent Suicide:
1.  Be willing to listen.
2.  Be non-judgmental.
3.  Become available.
4.  Don't be sworn to secrecy.
5.  Get help from local crisis intervention agencies, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline @ 800-273-TALK.
Hope that this post can help save someone's life through your awareness & action.  My dear friend who committed suicide had far too many of the above warning signs that none of us recognized as potentially suicidal. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Time To Remember

click on photo to enlarge
Earlier today Carol & I attended the annual 9/11 memorial service in Somerville that is presided over every year by the Somerset County Freeholders.  This is always a short simplistic service @ the site shown on the photo above where residents pay respect to the 39 people from the county who died in the WTC thirteen years ago.
The list of memorial services held today in NJ was read on the radio & it seemed endless. 
When we were leaving we were interviewed by a reporter for a local radio station who asked if we thought the general public was still engaged in what happened on 9/11.  And of course the answer is no.  9/11 brought the country together for a short time as has the beheadings of two Americans but to a much lesser degree.
Visiting sites like the one shown above, attending services like today's, & reading messages like this one momentarily remind us it is Time To Remember humanity's Islamic Fascist enemies who are intent on eradicating from earth everyone who does not follow their religious beliefs. 
Anyone who has ever been in our house knows that Carol keeps photos of both the WTC & the airplanes that flew into the buildings on a small section of our living room coffee table.  I don't think Carol or I need it but it is a daily reminder of the fragility of our way of life.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Deceptive Impression Of Growing Income Inequality & Its Relationship To Income Mobility

"It is hard not to marvel at the audacity of a man, who after five years in office, identifies as, quote, 'as the defining challenge of our time,' an income gap that as you heard has steadily widened since he's been in office. But income inequality has long been a preoccupation of Democrats to the point that it sometimes seems they'd prefer everyone be equally poor than unequally rich."  Brit Hume's commentary on FNC following BO's remarks regarding income inequality @ the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus (THEARC) in Washington on December 4, 2013.

click on graphic to enlarge

Talk about gaps in incomes – just look @ the above graphic that I first presented on November 15, 2007.   It shows the results of American prosperity, opportunity, & work ethic by matching the GDP of entire countries around the world with a U.S. state of similar GDP.  Russia's GDP is the size of NJ's & Ukraine's is the size of Idaho's.

Along with the above graphic I pointed out in 2007 that the claim that class warfare politicians like to make that there is rising income inequality in America is not true – certainly not in 2007.  This opinion is based on the results of a 10 year Treasury Department study, released on November 13, 2007, that started in 1996 using a sample size of 96,500 income tax returns.

The results of the study prove (along with other similar studies that go back to the 1960s) that the American economy is dynamic in that people move from one income quintile to another over time & then mostly upward.  For instance, of those in the second lowest income quintile, nearly 50% moved into the middle quintile or higher, & only 17% moved down.  Moreover, more than half (57.4%) of the richest 1% in 1996 had dropped to a lower income group by 2005. Some of these people might have been "rich" merely for one year, or perhaps for several, as they hit their peak earning years or had some capital gains windfall. Others may simply have not been able to keep up with new entrepreneurs and wealth creators.  Source of this analysis – WSJ.

Common sense tells you that someone whose earnings are in the highest income tax bracket in their later years of work will probably move to a lower level after retirement just as sure as someone in their 20s who starts for low pay will move into a higher category unless they are a real loser.  The point is that the rich are not the same people over time as the above analysis shows.  Class warfare politicians want you to think that the rich are always the same people & the poor are the victims of capitalism that should be pitied & need a government hand up (from them of course).

My own study of this subject over the years reveals that there is a difference between "the rich or wealthy" & people with earnings in the highest income tax brackets.  For instance, according to the Spectrum Group in 2007 there were 930,000 households in the U.S. with a net worth of greater than $5 million - these are the rich & there is no relationship to their wealth & the progressive income tax bracket they are in (multi-billionaire Warren Buffet famously reported that he paid income tax @ a 17% rate - check your income tax rate against his 17% to prove my point).  The people whose earnings are in the highest income tax brackets are not necessarily wealthy but rather are recently successful people, maybe about 40 years old, who are in the highest earning years of their lives.  These are the people that class warfare politicians want to tax into oblivion having them pay for every boondoggle earmark or government welfare program the politicians can think of - all the while calling out the inequities of "the rich" over "the poor".

It is the current opaque IRS income tax code itself that is the real inequity - being able to be legally manipulated so that multi-billionaires' income tax rates are lower than those of ordinary people.  This is just one more of the maladies that the FairTax corrects.  The FairTax is hard to avoid & being transparent (like your quarterly property tax bill) people see exactly how much of their money goes to government so that we wind up with just as much government as we really want.

Class warfare politicians like to say that the fruits of American prosperity are not being widely shared.  America is not about sharing but rather about opportunity.

  click on graphic to enlarge

Just look @ the above table – it shows a tightening, not a widening, of the top & bottom income divisions.  Although the table shows huge positive changes in the lowest two quintiles, which is very good, many of you will remember that I was worried in 2007 about the small changes in the top 20% &10% as well as the negative changes in the top 5% & 1%.  I am for raising everyone's earnings through economic growth rather than concentrating on raising the minimum wage that BO is obsessed with.

As the Treasury data show, we shouldn't worry about inequality. We should worry about the people who use inequality as a political club to promote policies that reduce opportunity.

An upcoming post in the near future will analyze income inequality, including years after 2005, from the spending side rather than the income side.  The insight gained from the above primer on income mobility is essential for understanding why the concept of increasing income inequality is a myth.  The post will explain why this is true & what makes it happen - so fasten your seatbelts please.