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.

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Holiday Message

Thanks to one of the many doctors in the readership who sent this version of Andrea Bocelli joining the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing The Lord's Pray.  It was so good I looked up & found another version with an introduction by David Foster. 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Christmas Scale

Thanks to our Midwest subscriber for sending this Christmas message.  It has an O. Henry-like surprise ending. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mike Huckabee Answers "Where Was God?"

As a follow up to being asked "Where was God?" just hours after the inconsolable murders @ the elementary school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut last Friday Mike Huckabee offered this answer on his FNC program Saturday night.
 
I invite readers to respond by providing their own answer to the above question (also often asked – "how did God let this happen?") & will post the responses accordingly.
 
The RTE readership has many deeply devout people as well as atheists so we should get a good cross section from which we can all learn.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Electorate's Mirror Image

"I'm afraid that we're going to have either hyperinflation, skyrocketing interest rates, something.  I have lost my faith we can do it voluntarily."  the late Senator Warren Rudman speaking about the country's fiscal problems which he thought could not be solved without a crisis
 
click on images to enlarge
 
Following the above list of BO's destructive anti-American records the fiscal cliff & sequester are his next ruinous steps - maybe BO cannot believe himself the predicament he has put the country & the Republicans in – the American people will be further hurt by the fiscal cliff & sequester per his design & the Republicans will get the blame thereby strengthening BO's hand.
 
As a reminder the fiscal cliff is an economic precipice, created by law in summer 2011, that threatens to cast the U.S. back into recession.  It is a fiscal hit of up to $720 billion over time, starting on or just after January 1, 2013, caused by the immediate expiration of a host of tax rate cuts and the onset of $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over time mostly in Defense.  The sequester was an outgrowth of the original fiscal cliff concept – it is the mandatory mindless automatic spending cuts that kick in starting in 2013 if lawmakers can't find comparable cuts by then.  Although the fiscal cliff does include substantial spending cuts it does not necessarily include the mindless sequester & that is why I separate them.
 
A refresher on how we got here includes Republican fiscal ineptitudes under Speaker John Boehner's leadership that started in February 2011 & continues even today.  The issues include continuing resolutions to fund the government, negotiations re spending cuts, the debt ceiling, & extending Bush era tax-rate cuts – the expiration of which BO now admits will hurt the middle class & not just the wealthy as he claimed all during the campaign.
 
The focus of disappointment started on February 18, 2011 in the House when 92 Republicans joined every Democrat in voting to defeat an amendment that would cut an additional $22 billion from the 2011 FY $3.8-trillion spending plan.
 
Most freshmen Republicans campaigned in 2010 on cutting spending $100-billion their first (calendar) year in office & repealing &/or defunding ObamaCare to whatever degree possible.  This was soon watered down to mean cutting $100-billion on a pro rata FY basis as a negotiating starting point that would be reduced from $100-billion to $61-billion to $38.5-billion & to postpone the fight re defunding ObamaCare.  The $38.5-billion spending cut number, proudly announced by Boehner, turned out to be only $300 million of real spending cuts or less than 1% of what was announced.  This was the Republicans first bite @ the financial responsibility apple.
 
The second bite came in the summer of 2011 with another Republican capitulation in which the debt ceiling was raised by $900-billion (as BO wanted) in return for $756-billion in unspecified spending cuts over the next ten years with over 90% of the cuts coming way late in the out-years thereby rendering them useless & meaningless.  The August 2, 2011 Budget Control Act established the unconstitutional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, aka the Super Committee, whose mission was to make an additional minimum of $1.2-trillion cuts in federal spending (a trivial amount in the total scheme of all the planned spending over the next ten years) – but if the Super Committee could not agree than the sequester of mindless automatic spending cuts, like the Graham-Rudman bill of twenty years ago, would be made starting in January 2013 – right after the November election.  The Super Committee's work ended in failure with the following statement -  "After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee's deadline."
 
After seventeen months to work things out to avoid the fiscal cliff & sequester absolutely nothing of substance has changed & now we are just a few days before the Christmas Holiday break with the fiscal cliff & sequester ready to needlessly further ruin many people's lives – all per BO's design.  Our elected reps didn't make the right thing happen then so what would make anyone think they are going to now?  Please note I said "the right thing" not some phony last minute political deal with such tricks as counting as a budget cut the $6.2 billion savings for not spending money left from the 2010 Census – like Boehner did in 2011. 
 
Congressman Frelinghuysen provided me with the following report that shows BO is not a serious negotiator @ all - "Instead of cutting spending to use the revenue to pay down our debt, the President suggests using $50 billion for a new 'stimulus' package, an extension of unemployment insurance that already provides benefits for 99 weeks, a one-year deferral of the 'sequester' across-the-board budget cuts which will do nothing but postpone the difficult decisions the President and Congress must make."
 
A recent poll shows that although most people don't want their taxes raised 65% of respondents think it is OK to raise taxes on the wealthy.  Even more entrenched are the people who don't want their government programs touched.  Election winning politicians are a mirror image of the electorate & that is the problem the nation is facing in this fiscal cliff & sequester matter.
 
As bad as the imminent fiscal cliff & sequester are they are really just a mini test of our resolve to face our larger problems & we have no reason to believe this is going to turn out good with BO in the position of power wanting more spending & the Republicans not being able to find principles to unite behind.
 
Congressman Ryan's budget plan of April 2011 – generally regarded as the most fiscally responsible budget presented in years - would still increase the national debt by some $5 trillion over the next 10 years and continue $400 billion annual budget deficits through at least 2021.  This was one of my problems with Ryan in the last election & it will be again going forward.
 
The fiscal cliff & sequester are just a drop in the bucket for what lies ahead in a seemingly never ending problem expressed in tens of trillions of dollars.  The real problems & big money are in Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and veterans' benefits – & these programs are virtually untouchable.  We see above that our elected reps are just not interested in solving our economic problems & neither is the majority of the electorate. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Something Is Different This Time - & It's Evil

"Doug - I feel really bad in the face of all that's happened in the last month and continues to happen with the government of this country. The Republicans rolling over for BO; the actions of that despicable House Leader; the conservatives being kicked off committees; Sen. DeMint's retirement from the Senate; the founder of Freedom Works quitting. It's time to find Galt's gulch!" – from a long time subscriber of RTE
 
"...freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream.  It must be fought for, protected, & handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children & our children's children what is was once like in the United States where men were free." – President Reagan
 
"God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it." - Daniel Webster
 
click on graph to enlarge
 
Like many of us the above quoted long time subscriber knows that something is not right in America.  The real problem is that something is different this time.
 
Something different happened in November 2008 & it was confirmed last month – & that something is evil & a deliberate deception to overrun our country.  The last four years has not been about the usual sort of things the two parties argue over & take turns winning elections over.  These years have been about robbing liberty from people by increasing government dependency & promoting destructive class warfare & envy & there is no end in sight re this pursuit & no foreseeable practical solution.  Na├»ve Republican pundits think they just have to lick their wounds & wait until the next election or two & the tide will turn in their favor as it always has – but this is a fallacy because BO is so far along in the first two of The Five Points of Citizen Control:
 
Citizen Control Point #1 - provide seemingly free education through government schools where the graduates are little more than illiterate & not proficient in math or science.
 
Citizen Control Point #2 – have an anti-American hostile media tell the uneducated people from citizen control point #1 what the news is.
 
The Republican Party is in disarray having just lost an election that Laura Ingraham said should have been "a gimmee election" where the Democrats ran an incumbent who had the worst pro-American record (by design) of any president ever but the Republicans ran the most flawed candidate I ever saw.  The problem is that BO is not pro-America & the Republicans don't know how to deal with this – hence the frustration with our subscriber's message that many of us share.
 
Mitt received the votes of only 27% of the Hispanic electorate & there is no reason to believe that proportion will increase in the fastest growing sector of the electorate. Republican plans to promote citizenship for illegals is as ill founded as anything they are considering in trying to regroup – just who do they think these new citizens will vote for?
 
Democrats are playing Death Of Democracy like a fiddle & the Republicans have no come back.  The above graph shows that there are 109.3 million privately employed people whose taxes outright support or @ a minimum subsidize 87.3 million people.
 
The following table is based on four scenarios of a single Mississippi mother with two young children.  The first scenario is for the woman to work one week per month for minimum wage, the second is for her to work all year for minimum wage, & the other two are for the salaries shown.  Thanks to the government programs the woman has more disposable income working the full time minimum wage job than working the $60,000 per year job.  The first scenario beats the $30,000 per year job by over $4,000.

The above graph & table show that BO is certainly spreading the wealth around but he wants more legalized theft through taxes to support even more government dependency – but that is only part of the evil.  BO's incessant desire to raise the tax rates on the top 2% of income earners – his idea of millionaires & billionaires who make over $200,000 per year – is grounded in his wanting to punish successful people by targeting them so others will not want to follow their example.  Mark Levin writes in Ameritopia "...disparaging & diminishing the successful & accomplished becomes an essential tactic."

This deterioration will continue until BO runs out of "other people's money" – until we have less people creating wealth & ever more people wanting their fair share of its redistribution.  BO wants everyone equally miserable.

The speed with which we turn this around, if ever, depends on how fast the majority of people of substance are willing to properly address the above problems by reapplying the common sense principles that have worked all of their lives – like ensuring the education of our children re the heritage of our country & speaking of the benefits of having the self-respect of having a meaningful job that supports a family.

Not taking this approach are some congressmen supporting House Speaker Boehner in the fiscal cliff discussions who are now saying that elections have consequences & they should (erroneously) revisit their stance on taxes as if that would solve anything – the problem is still too much spending not low taxes & increasing taxes will result in more spending. 

For instance twenty-year Congressman Jack Kingston (R., Ga.) is no help when he said "The election was a sober reminder that not every other person in America shares our views."  With this attitude we might as well just about give up.  His constituents who voted for him are not interested in his adopting the position of someone else in the national majority.  How about just supporting the principles, if any, that you ran on?

The solution to America's economic problems can have a peaceful ending – just follow the four points presented on RTE several times – implementation of premium support for Medicare, replacement of the wage inflation index with the CPI for initial Social Security benefits, implementation of the "cut, cap, & balance" budget program, & of course enactment of the FairTax.  Click on Four Points Highlight The Needed Change In Mindset for all of the details.

So the peaceful solutions are out there as indicated by the four above if only our elected representatives had the nerve to apply them.  But many people in Greece, Wisconsin, & now Michigan prefer violence to solve their problems requiring police to show up in riot gear as evidenced by the right-to-work protests in Lansing.  Michigan, the birthplace of the UAW, has a union share of workers that is about 50% higher than the national union share of workers.  The passage of the law making Michigan the 24th right-to-work state has not gone down well.  Click here to see a violent attack on AFP personnel & equipment.  Statists are pro choice when it comes to taking an unborn from their mother's womb but not for allowing a worker to choose whether or not to join a union.

With all of the evil described above – & the hopelessness of finding leaders who can & will address it - there is no wonder that the subscriber first wrote above with such despair that she is calling for the help of John Galt.

The above quotes by President Reagan & Daniel Webster along with the words of the great libertarian George Mason provide the ultimate solution for lovers of liberty & the rule of law who will not see their freedoms & life savings disappear like with the assessment of wealth taxes & confiscated bank accounts.  Mason wrote "...that whenever any Government shall be found inadequate, or contrary to these Purposes (common Benefit, Protection, & Security of the People, Nation, or Community), a Majority of the Community had an indubitable, inalienable, & indefeasible Right to reform, alter, or abolish it, in such Manner as shall be judged most conducive to the Public Weal."

Monday, December 10, 2012

Education Post Follow Up

As a follow up to the last post - Education Improvement Needed To Avoid The Middle-Income Trap – please click here to see a video, narrated by Bill Whittle, that summarizes the original post graphically.  ACTA has named the video The $200,000 Fraud?
 
 
 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Education Improvement Needed To Avoid The Middle-Income Trap

"A properly educated workforce is an issue of deep concern to business, especially to manufacturers.  Our worry isn't just that our children are being educated poorly; it's that they're being educated poorly in the subjects most relevant to our economic well-being.  There isn't enough focus on science, technology, engineering, or math in our schools."  Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical CEO
 
"We have jobs going begging for...the ability to write a coherent letter, use correct grammar while speaking, understand basic mathematics, interact well with clients, & show up for work regularly...&, voila, you have an electorate that is incapable of understanding or caring what it takes to obtain & maintain a job, let alone the impending fiscal nightmare heading squarely @ them."  Julie Adamen (writing in the WSJ) – operator of an employment service that works with small businesses
 
"We need to make more of an effort to get parents involved in teaching reading & teaching them how to help children make sense of words they do not know."  Leslie Russell a reading specialist in Chesapeake Virginia following the announcement on Thursday that only about half of U.S. 4th, 8th, & 12th grade students knew what they are supposed to know on a new vocabulary section of the National Assessment of Education Progress exam
 
click on tables to enlarge
 
The American Council of Trustees & Alumni (ACTA) recently completed their study of 1,070 college institutions for 2012 – 2013, entitled  What Will They Learn?.  As in past years it is an excellent resource that should be checked by both parents & students before the final decision on where to go to college is made.  In fact it should be the starting point.
 
Now not only do employers like Dow's Mr. Liveris (see quote above & graphs) have trouble finding qualified technical people to offer jobs to but the colleges are also not turning out graduates who know the basics about our country meaning that the country is becoming very different from the one most of us grew up in if for no other reason than the young adult citizenry is so much differently educated today than during previous generations.  This is the most central problem facing America today for people who see value in holding on to our heritage.
 
For instance according to ACTA more college graduates know more about Lady Gaga than George Washington at the Battle of Yorktown.  Carrying this line of questioning a little farther ACTA found that less than half of college graduates (48%) knew George Washington was the American general @ Yorktown.  None of the other options (Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, and William T. Sherman) were even Revolutionary War figures.  Only about half of graduates (53%) could identify the right to a speedy and public trial as not part of the First Amendment & more than 40% of graduates did not know that the Constitution established division of powers between the states and the federal government.
 
This is not funny even if you don't think about it.  In fact it really shows the path we are on.
 
Only 21 colleges and universities (less than 2%) out of the 1,070 included in the ACTA study earned an "A" grade for having at least six of the seven key courses required by ACTA for graduation.  The seven crucial subjects outside the major ACTA required of all graduates were: composition, U.S. government or history, economics, literature, college-level math, science, & intermediate-level foreign language.  Colleges are evaluated on "A" schools requiring 6-7 courses, "B" schools requiring 4-5, "C" schools requiring 3, "D" schools requiring 2, and "F" schools requiring 0-1 courses.
 
I thought you went to college to learn something that would give you a solid foundation for the rest of your life.  When I went to Engineering School decades ago my curriculum would have earned an "A" from a school that currently is graded "C."  As Carol often says to me about a number of things – "what the hell happened here?"
 
As employers, like Dow Chemical, complain about a lack of skilled workers record numbers of college graduates with tremendous student loan debt remain unemployed – showing that parents, students, & colleges & universities are all to blame for failing to prepare their graduates for success after graduation.  The above ACTA website will help to eliminate this – but parents & students have to go first & not accept degrees from well known colleges with high costs who teach nothing of value.  For instance there are some "A" graded colleges on ACTA's list that cost between a third to half of what just about all of the name universities cost.  The question is always what can you do with your education; i.e., can you get a good job to support your family, increase your standard of living, & simultaneously increase the standard of living for your fellow countrymen that automatically happens if you do the first two thereby raising the living standards of America.
 
My friend, Anne Neal, president of ACTA recently wrote to me "This study shows that while students, parents and taxpayers are paying a lot, they're not getting a lot in return.  Students are graduating into one of the most inhospitable job markets in American history & a time of challenging civic responsibilities; & they're doing it with record debt. What Will They Learn? examines which schools are making a solid commitment to a broad academic foundation, and which ones simply don't make the grade. Regrettably, too many do not."
 
In summary, colleges & universities flunk when it comes to strong general education requirements leaving gaping holes in the knowledge & understanding of college graduates.  The ACTA program provides the information needed to reverse this terrible trend.
 
The three schools that received a perfect seven for seven rating from ACTA were Thomas Aquinas College, Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, & the University of Dallas.
 
The other eighteen "A" graded schools were:
 
Baylor University
 
California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo
 
City University of New York - Brooklyn College
 
Colorado Christian University
 
Gardner-Webb University
 
Kennesaw State University
 
Morehouse College
 
Pepperdine University
 
Regent University
 
St. John's College (MD)
 
St. John's College (NM)
 
Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi
 
United States Air Force Academy
 
United States Coast Guard Academy
 
United States Military Academy
 
University of Georgia
 
University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
 
University of Texas - San Antonio
 
Meanwhile many Americans are caught in what Professor Peter Coclanis & many development economists call a "middle-income trap"  - meaning a situation where economies stagnate after reaching a certain middle level, usually because their manufacturing & labor costs no longer allow them to compete with lower-cost producers, but their work forces aren't skilled enough to compete higher-up the value chain.  To paraphrase – "I'm pretty expensive & not very skilled." 
 
Professor Coclanis reports that Bangladesh textile workers earn 18.5 cents per hour & work fifty hour work-weeks minimum.  I have pointed out several times before that it is only through constant brainwashing that the government will take care of you that would allow someone to become so ill-prepared to support themselves that they are now competing with third world people who make pennies a day.
 
I have also presented on several occasions how value producing jobs are created by using the metaphor Professor Robert Carbaugh of Central Washington University presented to me that thinks of the world economy as a ladder with the U.S. currently on the top rung & developing nations with low tech labor intensive jobs like Bangladesh on the bottom rungs. The other countries are in between. All countries try to climb to the next rung. This works well if the topmost countries create new industries & products, thus adding another rung to the ladder like when we replaced horse drawn carriages that used buggy whips with cars. Older industries can move overseas while new jobs are generated @ home. It is when innovation stalls @ the highest rung that the portion of Americans near the bottom of the income distribution must compete with workers in developing countries. This is what we are facing today as far too many Americans are poorly educated with skills so limited that no employer can use them as explained above.
 
Please contact me if you would like help re the ACTA website.  Higher education in America is one of my two passions – the FairTax is the other.
 

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Most Outrageous Way To Share A Coke

Thanks to our Mid-west subscriber for sending the link for a video that has gone viral with just under 2-million views & growing.  The video shows the creativity of some engineering students who were tasked by Coca-Cola to come up with the most outrageous way to share a coke. 
 
You may want to watch this twice to fully enjoy the feat.  Even people who prefer Pepsi enjoy the video.