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.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Liz Wheeler Explains Why Socialist Single Payer Healthcare Systems Fail

Click & go to the 6:50 minute mark for Liz Wheeler's clear, concise, compelling explanation of why socialist government run single payer universal healthcare systems fail.  Liz starts by expounding on what Bastiat called legal plunder – i.e.,  the lawgiver takes from some persons that which belongs to them, to give to others what does not belong to them - where the rich are required, through taxes, to pay for everyone's healthcare, then shows how this necessarily expands to include taxing the middle class, which proves financially unsustainable, & therefore winds up with rationing.
 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Ending Congress's Two ObamaCare Abuses Drains Part Of The Washington Swamp

During the first week of August, 1981 Congress passed the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 & presented it to President Reagan on August 12 who signed both it & the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 into law on August 13.  Below is the famous photo of the signing ceremony @ Reagan's ranch in California in front of reporters with his dog Millie @ his side.  At the time Reagan was so happy @ the prospect for advancement & economic growth for the nation that I remember him saying on TV that "after the events of yesterday I don't know who is happier Prince Charles or me" – Prince Charles had just married Lady Diana Spencer on July 29.  Both bills were passed with bipartisan support: 282 to 95 in the Democrat controlled House for the tax bill & 232 to 193 for the budget bill;  the vote for the tax bill was by Voice Vote in the Republican controlled Senate so no record of individual votes was made & the budget bill passed 80 to 14. 
 
Trump does not enjoy the same type of legislative cooperation & happiness @ this same August point in his presidency.  The Senate adjourned for summer recess on Thursday without repealing ObamaCare, with no plan to reform the tax code, no legislation to fund the government beyond September 30, & no plan whether or not to raise the debt ceiling that will be reached in September.
 
click on photo to enlarge
 
The aforementioned 1981 tax & budget bills were based on Reagan's 1980 campaign priorities to rejuvenate the then lackluster American economy – principally income tax rate cuts & reductions in domestic spending & the size of government & its claims on earned income – many similarities with Trump's current tax & budget plans which have not even started the legislative process. 
 
To illustrate the increased prosperity & wealth creation the country may be missing by Congress's delay & inability to get to Trump's tax reform plan please consider the following graph comparing the quarter to quarter annualized real GDP change for Reagan's & BO's presidencies starting in the 3rd year of each presidency.
 
click on graph to enlarge
 
But as we all know Congress has been bogged down in healthcare reform – the House went home for the August recess on July 29 & the Senate followed last Thursday after saying they would work until August 12.  McCain left Washington on July 28 &, after undergoing treatment for brain cancer, will supposedly return in September when the Senate reconvenes.  Without McCain Republicans don't have enough votes to reopen debate on healthcare reform even if they wanted to which, other than Trump, they don't.
 
See graphic below that shows the tabulation of 13 key senators who voted "No" – some for good reason - @ least once along the way regarding passing a bill that would unwind or start to unwind ObamaCare.
 
  click on graphic to enlarge
 
The "No" votes in all three columns for Collins & Murkowski indicate they are for keeping ObamaCare.  The "No" votes in the first column for Corker, Cotton, Graham, Lee, Moran, & Paul indicate they are for repeal-only or keeping the discussion alive by voting for the skinny-repeal.  Heller is for keeping the issue alive.
 
The "Yes" vote in the first column for McCain, Alexander, Capito, & Portman indicates they want to replace Democrat control of your healthcare with Republican control of your healthcare. 
 
Six senators in the second column, not including Collins, voted "No" for the repeal-only alternative after voting "Yes" to repeal ObamaCare in January 2016 – these are the senators who betrayed their electorates with their January 2016 vote when they knew BO would veto any such repeal bill.  Collins voted "No" in January 2016 so she is not one of the betrayers @ least on this issue.
 
Collins, Murkowski, & McCain cast the three "No" votes, shown in column 3, that killed any healthcare reform @ all for the foreseeable future unless Trump forces another vote – see below.
 
Pence broke a 50 – 50 tie after Collins & Murkowski voted "No" on the procedural vote to allow debate in the Senate to even begin.  Without the 51 – 50 vote to proceed the three alternatives shown in the above graphic would never have taken place thereby shutting the healthcare reform debate down without a whimper after seven years of bluster.  It is important to remember that in 2016 the Republicans did not win the Senate – they held the Senate while losing two seats from their previous 54 to 46 majority.
 
When it was announced in the middle of July that McCain underwent surgery to remove a blood clot over his left eye McConnell acted like McCain was such a hero that there would be no Senate healthcare vote "without John McCain being present" – this sounded overly praiseworthy to me when I first heard it.  Come to find out McConnell knew that without McCain the Republicans would lose any vote 50 to 49 – McConnell needed McCain as a "Yes" vote to have a 50 – 50 tie for Pence to break.
 
Then to make matters worse Trump made the following tweet. 
 
click on tweet to enlarge
 
A strong case can be made that McCain got satisfaction voting "No" because the Tea Party members of the Senate, who he had previously called "whacko birds", wanted a clean repeal bill & of course nothing but ill feelings could exist regarding Trump for his comments about McCain's POW captivity.
 
Both McConnell & Trump had plenty of reason to believe that McCain would have been a "Yes" vote.  See campaign poster below from McCain's 2016 Arizona Senate race.
 
 
  click on poster to enlarge
 
 
There was plenty of outrage in the aftermath of the Senate's miserable failure to fulfill a campaign promise to repeal ObamaCare - made over seven years & four consecutive election cycles.
 
My favorite outrages involved the voters who do not know, & have not made it their business to know, the people who have control of their lives & their healthcare who said "we'll have to vote them out the next election".  Collins term does not expire until 2020 & Murkowski's & McCain's not until 2022 so their next election is not in the near future.  Collins, who says she did not vote for Trump, won her 2014 election with 68% of the vote & when she returned to Maine after the final healthcare vote she was met with applause @ the airport so she has no reason to change her ways.
 
But Trump does not take losing easily & he has two ways to force Congress to repeal ObamaCare.
 
First –  Government payments to the insurance companies as reimbursement for the so-called cost-sharing subsidies are not permanent appropriations - meaning that Congress in effect lets cost-sharing subsidies lapse if they do not make an annual appropriation.  In fact Congress has not authorized cost-sharing funds since 2014.
 
Accordingly, Trump is not authorized to make these cost-sharing payments – the next one is due later this month.
 
Cost sharing is a term used to cover out of pocket healthcare insurance costs such as deductibles, co-payments, & co-insurance.  Cost sharing expenses are made directly to insurance companies while the subsidies that reduce ObamaCare premiums are made directly to the insured in the form of reimbursable tax credits.  About 85% of people who buy ObamaCare on the exchanges qualify for subsidies that reduce premiums & nearly 60% of them have low enough incomes (below 250% of the federal poverty level) to qualify for cost sharing.  It is the other 15% of people who buy ObamaCare on the exchanges who get no financial help in paying premiums or medical expenses – these are the people you hear about that are hard pressed to meet the major ObamaCare insurance costs – premiums & deductibles.  People above the 250% federal poverty level but below 400% get some relief in paying premiums but no help with deductibles.  Healthcare costs are relatively small or nonexistent for people who qualify for cost sharing or Medicaid under ObamaCare.
 
Now Trump is constitutionally correct to require Congress to either authorize the cost-sharing subsidies or repeal ObamaCare – both being subject to his veto.  Pointing out that cost-sharing payments cannot be made to all the people described above gives a large incentive for Congress to act.
 
The House initiated a lawsuit against BO's White House for usurping Congress's constitutional power of the purse when BO made cost-sharing subsidy payments without proper appropriation authority from Congress.  A federal judge ruled in the House's favor but allowed the cost-sharing subsidies to continue while the litigation continues - the case is under appeal but being stayed while healthcare reform is being debated in Congress. 
 
Nevertheless, Trump made his own oath to support the Constitution so no matter what the court system does or decides on this clear case Trump should withhold cost-sharing subsidy payments until Congress rectifies the situation.
 
Some insurers have based their premiums for 2018 on the assumption that cost sharing subsidies will continue – without them they will either pull out of some markets or raise premiums accordingly – further abusing those who don't get premium help while leaving those who do only marginally affected.
 
Second – Heather Higgins recently reminded us that Members of Congress & their employees have been playing loose with the rules regarding their own healthcare insurance coverage.  Specifically, ObamaCare originally required members of Congress & their employees to buy healthcare insurance coverage under the ObamaCare exchanges meaning these people relinquished their generous plans under the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program. 
 
But not so fast – this meant congressmen & senators would suddenly be required to pay most if not all of their healthcare insurance costs – premiums & deductibles - & many of their employees would move to inferior plans @ added cost making their employment not as attractive as before.  Some congressional staffers could suffer the indignity of being thrown onto Medicaid – not a good image.
 
To spare themselves a self-serving embarrassing vote that would have highlighted their problem Congress & their employees appealed to BO who worked a deal with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) – who had no legal authority regarding the matter.  OPM approved the whopper that both the House & Senate are small businesses with each having less than 50 employees.  Accordingly, the staffers were exempted from ObamaCare & stayed on their old healthcare insurance plans & members of Congress & designated official office staff have been covered through the District of Columbia's small business exchange – where they receive a special government subsidy from their employer (tax payers) of up to $12,000 per year.
 
Trump can right this deceitful contemptible abuse by instructing OPM to end the subsidies for Congress & their office staffs & the exemption for their employees.
 
Trump combined both of the above points in the following tweet:
 
click on tweet to enlarge
 
Trump knows of the ObamaCare bailout abuses, & now we know that he knows.  Trump can use this information as leverage to get Congress to pass legislation repealing ObamaCare that is suitable for him to sign into law – if successful this solves the original problem @ hand.  But one way or another Trump has to end these two ObamaCare bailout abuses because there is no surer way to honor another campaign pledge – namely to drain this portion of the Washington swamp.
 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Compound Interest Quiz

Thanks to everyone who sends me quizzes they think the readership would enjoy.  I've got them all & will post selected ones from time to time throughout the year.  Please keep them coming.
 
Please solve the Compound Interest Quiz below. 
 
I remember a life insurance salesman who regularly called on my father when I was a young boy talking about "the magic of compound interest" – which is illustrated in the quiz below.
 
Please let me know how you work the problem.  I will post all correct answers or alternatively will send the solution privately to anyone who requests it if no one figures it out.
 
Compound Interest Quiz
 
If something is growing 100% per annum, how much does it grow every six months?
 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

HR 3762 Provides Clearest Litmus Test Ever To Identify RINOs - But Probably To Little Or No Avail

"It's obviously an acknowledgement that it's not particularly easy to take away healthcare for millions, to go ahead & take away the most vulnerable people's health insurance, & then give tax breaks to the wealthiest" was the way, on July 11, that NJ Senator Bob Menendez summed up the GOP's predicament in trying to repeal, repeal & replace, or repair ObamaCare – a useless time-wasting exercise that has been going on since January.
 
Menendez's above statement certainly showed that in trying to disassemble ObamaCare there was enough for all the factions in the GOP to dislike, which they did but for different & in many cases really quite opposite reasons.  BO was always counting on Republicans making a first class royal mess out of trying to dismantle ObamaCare so that the way would be paved for universal single payer healthcare to become the law of the land but also that Republicans would get the blame for the trouble that BO created in the first place.
 
After failing to get enough support in March to replace ObamaCare the House finally (barely) passed a bill in May, 217 to 213, on Trump's 105th day in office with 20 Republicans voting "NO", including three from NJ - Leonard Lance, Chris Smith, & Frank LoBiondo. 
 
From there the Senate decided to write their own ObamaCare replacement legislation knowing full well their bill would have to be reconciled with the House's – a step never gotten to as it stands now.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell followed a tortuous path trying to weave his bare 52 to 48 Republican majority to a consensus bill – i.e., McConnell could lose only 2 Republican votes to secure passage with VP Pence breaking the tie.  Just like in the House, Senate Republican centrists (& 16 Republican governors) wanted more Medicaid spending while libertarian Republican Rand Paul wanted a clean full repeal of ObamaCare so there was a wide gap to pull together.  McConnell's work was complicated & delayed by John McCain's hospitalization (which turned out to be for brain cancer) meaning that with two assured Republican defections the Democrats would win any vote 50 "NO" to 49 "YES".  Finally, with more than two Republican defectors for every version of the ObamaCare replacement bill being considered, the entire matter was dropped for lack of support to repeal ObamaCare after seven years of bluster about how Republicans were going to do just that.  It is a long shot that the bill will be resuscitated to try again.
 
Although it shouldn't, this is going to cause a political problem for Republicans with their base – check out the graphic below & note that the top line does not say "repeal & replace" or "repair".
 
  click on graphic to enlarge
 
Along the way it was suggested by President Trump to bring back HR 3762 – the bill that was a repeal-only bill that was passed by both chambers of Congress & presented to BO on January 6, 2016 - which of course BO vetoed.
 
A short history regarding HR 3762 is constructive relative to the current healthcare happenings. 
 
For the last seven years of BO's presidency the Republican Congress voted to repeal ObamaCare in one form or another sixty two times by one count.  Finally, starting in October 2015 then-Congressman Tom Price (now Secretary of Health & Human Services) sponsored HR 3762 that was a very limited repeal bill that left much of ObamaCare in place.  Next, the Senate amended HR 3762 to repeal ObamaCare as far as possible using the Senate budget reconciliation process.  The Senate amendment repealed ObamaCare's individual & employer mandates by eliminating the penalties for noncompliance, funding for Medicaid expansion, exchange subsidies, fourteen of the taxes included in the original law, & funding for Planned Parenthood for one year.  In short, the Senate Amendment crippled ObamaCare & was exactly what the Republicans had promised to do for four consecutive election cycles (2010, 12, 14, & 16).
 
The original HR 3762 was revised to include the Senate Amendment.  HR 3762 passed the House with all but three Republicans voting "Yes" – Robert Dold - IL, Richard Hanna – NY, & John Katko – NY & all but two Republicans in the Senate – Susan Collins – ME, & Mark Kirk – IL.  Dold, Hanna, & Kirk all lost their reelection bids on November 8, 2016.
 
So with such a clear cut path to keeping their seven year promise to repeal ObamaCare why wasn't this bill dusted off & presented to Trump on Inauguration Day? – which of course he would have signed. 
 
"First priority in 2016: Putting bill on Obama's desk that repeals ObamaCare," Ryan tweeted along with the following photo.
 
Click on photo to enlarge
 
This first priority of 2016 should have been the first priority of 2017 – but we all know why it wasn't. 
 
What the history of HR 3762 clearly shows is that we do not know what centrist Republicans really believe about the issues that are important to our country – we do know what they say but cannot draw from that what they believe.  For instance, NJ Congressman Leonard Lance said "We want to repair the ACA.  I have never favored repeal without replacement" yet there is his name right in the middle of votes for repeal-only in 2016.  And WV Senator Shelly Moore Capito said "I did not come to Washington to hurt people" implying that a repeal bill would hurt people – Capito voted for the 2016 version of the repeal-only bill.
 
Voters should not take the wrong message out of this miserably inadequate display described above by blaming anyone other than the centrist Republicans who derailed the ObamaCare repeal effort – so many of these career politicians have been documented on this blog over the years as opportunists who have perfected the technique of doing little more than collecting their congressional salaries while never showing any endearing consistent principles that would make you surprised @ their vacillating votes on healthcare reform – these people don't care about their constituents, the country, or the oath they take to support & defend the Constitution.  They represent the wishes of their constituents as far as following these wishes gets them reelected – whether or not such actions hurt their constituents.  There are not enough people in America who believe it free market capitalism that a clean repeal of ObamaCare is going to happen – as represented by the number of Democrats in Congress coupled with the number of centrist Republicans.
 
Leonard Lance has been my congressman for years & I am not @ all surprised @ his position on ObamaCare repeal, which is an example of why I have never voted for him.
 
This healthcare reform episode described herein proves that we have to work doubly hard to find suitable candidates or the career establishment politicians will continue to frustrate.
 
Don't talk about the Republican brand or President Trump being hurt by Congress's failure to produce a repeal-only ObamaCare bill – talk about the need to replace the centrist Republicans who are really too far left.  Democrats would love to see the entire Republican Party morale go down knowing that the defeat of healthcare reform was caused by a group of people who were never committed to any cause other than extending their own political careers.
 
Trump cannot fire Members of Congress or have them lose a contract.  The centrist Republicans get paid the same as the good ones & in this sense it is clear that they all work for us because the voters have the final say – & the centrists have got to go.
 
Centrist Republicans join with Democrats to form one Big Government Party – we need to replace them with Tea Party–type candidates who are thoroughly vetted to make sure they are the real deal.  The Senate Conservatives Fund has already announced they will find & fund primary challengers for centrist Republicans.  I'm sure that the Club For Growth, Freedom Works, & Heritage Action will do likewise so voters should have plenty of choices.  Donors should not lose heart @ this recent turn of events but should look forward to helping new candidates especially in the Senate where in 2018 only eight Republican seats are being defended while 25 Democrat seats (including two seats held by Independents who caucus with Democrats) are being defended. 
 
Republican voters are frustrated but should not take these frustrations out on the entire party because there is a very good theoretical statistical chance that stronger & larger majorities can be obtained in both the House & particularly the Senate in the 2018 midterms.  HR 3762 provides the clearest example I have ever seen to identify the phonies – the big question is do we have the numbers to make the needed changes?  I'd have to see it to believe it.
 
Click here to see the House repeal-only vote in 2016 & here to see the Senate repeal-only amendment vote that was attached to HR 3762 – BTW, Bernie Sanders was the only senator to not vote when the amendment came to the Senate floor.
 
I intend to use the ObamaCare repeal-only bill, no matter what happens with the ObamaCare replacement bill from here on out, if anything, as a litmus test.  On Friday I called the congressional switchboard in Washington – you can reach any senator after pushing 1 & any congressman after pushing 2 – @ 202-224-3121.  Ask how they intended to vote if a 2017 repeal-only bill was presented & see what you learn.  I hope such legislation is presented in both chambers so everyone goes on record – but if it doesn't the phone call is the next best thing if you are interested - then you will know what they say but will still have to guess what they believe.
 
Readers of this blog who are students of the Constitution know that healthcare is not a right but rather is a good like food, clothing, & shelter – this is true whether or not the Supreme Court saw no violation to our Constitution with the ObamaCare legislation requiring people to buy a product they did not want & then penalizing them using the IRS if they didn't.  In any event ObamaCare is the law of the land, having passed the scrutiny of all three branches of the federal government, & healthcare entitlements are on a path to overwhelm the country's finances with an unfunded liability of scores of trillions of dollars that are ignored by the federal government.  We should be working to reverse this mindset of government dependence & its accompanying financial liability & irresponsibility that ObamaCare just adds to as shown on the graphic below.  See referenced post for proposed solutions.
 
  click on graphic to enlarge
 
Also see graphic below from the just released House budget that shows the trend of all mandatory entitlement spending, of which ObamaCare, Medicare, & Medicaid are a part.
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
But just repealing ObamaCare still may not get us home safely.  Judge Napolitano has cautioned of another problem – the Supreme Court ruled in 1970 (Goldberg v. Kelly) that procedural due process is required before a recipient of certain government welfare benefits can be deprived of such benefits – ObamaCare certainly is a government welfare benefit & "medical care" is specifically listed in the holdings of the Court's determination in the referenced case so we shouldn't be surprised if the courts get involved if ObamaCare is repealed.
 
In the same vein to people losing government welfare benefits we also have to remember that ObamaCare not only affects the 22.5 million people who have acquired healthcare insurance through both the government paid Medicaid expansion & the 75% subsidy funded individual insurance market but also another 71 million people who have had their employer provided healthcare insurance upgraded to conform to ObamaCare mandates - & many, if not all, of these people have come to like these upgrades to their employers' plans.  These 71 million people do not want anyone even thinking about changing their improved healthcare insurance plans – this could very well be what is reflected on the graph below that for the first time in January 2017 showed more people thinking ObamaCare is a good idea than a bad one.  What's not to like except it cannot be financially sustained.

Realizing that over 90 million people are being directly affected is a powerful political lure to make just about any modern day politician want to only tinker around the edges of ObamaCare leaving much of it in place.  It is up to the lovers of liberty, if we still have enough of them left in America, to find the future senators/congressmen who can look beyond the next election & see what really lies ahead.

click on graph to enlarge

Reference Post:  Universal Basic Income - A Key To Returning America's Prosperity

 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Video Reveals The Treacherous Combination That Will Take Wealth & Freedom From America

 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
 
I sensed the interviewees in the above video were amicable, good-natured, easygoing, & non-confrontational (or else Mark Dice would have been punched in the nose more than once).  But the interviewees were also poorly educated & were far removed from having any sense of civic responsibility or being responsible contributing members of society who knew the least little bit about the country they live in – except for the final two who were on a par with fifth graders of my day. 
 
It is the treacherous combination of friendly people who "yield up the privilege of thinking" that produces the dangerous exploitative environment that attracts collectivists, statists, socialists, communists, Marxists, & Islamic fascists who are here with the purpose of taking both the wealth that has been created in this country & the freedom given to us naturally by God until "the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon" in America.
 

Sunday, July 9, 2017

MAGA Song

 
   click on photo to enlarge
 
On Saturday night of Independence Day weekend, as part of the Celebrate Freedom Rally @ the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the choir of the First Baptist Church of Dallas (pictured above) premiered a song entitled "Make America Great Again" – written by the church's former minister of music.
 
Click here to hear the real version of the performance that President Trump tweeted @ 6:38 AM on July 4.
 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

July 4, 1776 - Before & After

Imagine the world on July 3, 1776 & the six thousand years of human history that came before – it was a world where slavery had been the norm since the beginning of civilization.  To become free, Black slaves needed the United States to exist – no other form of government, nation, or society had outlawed slavery or set Blacks free.  "The United States was the first moral society in history." – Ayn Rand
 
The following partial slave trade history, pre 7/4/1776, illustrates this point – source New Internationalist.
 
The ancient Greeks enslaved woman & children & simply slaughtered the more unruly men.  In 5th century BC there were more slaves than free citizens in Athens – the birthplace of democracy.
 
Slave trading was big business in the Roman Empire.  Roman emperors owned thousands of slaves who were worked to death mining gold & silver for the Empire.
 
In the early Middle Ages the Church condoned slavery – Christians, Muslims, & Jews all partook of slave trading.  In the 16th century Pope Paul III threatened those considering leaving the Catholic Church with enslavement.
 
The Portuguese & Spanish were the earliest transatlantic slave traders.  Virtually all the European colonists converged on West Africa trading liquor, tobacco, arms, & trinkets for live slave cargo.  The British were the prime slave dealers – bringing goods from England to exchange for African slaves whom they then sold to Portuguese & Spanish colonies in the New World.  This slave trade built Britain's fortune.
 
In summary, historical evidence is overwhelming that slavery had been a fact of life for millennia prior to July 4, 1776 including Black slave masters trading Black slaves.  All of the great men of history – e.g., Socrates, Plato, Cato, & Cincinnatus – had "lived amidst surroundings that relieved their consciences of the sense of this injustice.  Even Aristotle could not conceive the idea of a society existing without slavery." – Frederic Bastiat
 
But all of this entrenched slavery had a chance to end – a beginning, a start to being able to change with the signing of the Declaration Of Independence & the founding & of the United States Of America on July 4, 1776.
 
Free Negroes in five of the then thirteen states, to wit, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, & North Carolina participated in the American Republic's democratic process from the beginning in that they were voters & in proportion to their numbers had the same part in making the Constitution that the white people had.  Source – Mark Levin, Men In Black, page 15.
 
During the Jefferson administration Congress prohibited the importation of slaves effective 1808 – but there was smuggling thereafter.  The process of obtaining freedom for all men continued with the Missouri Compromise of 1819 in which Missouri was admitted to the Union as a slave state but slavery was prohibited in all the western territories.  And of course the fighting of the Civil War resulted in the ratification of the thirteenth Amendment which banned slavery in the entire country.
 
Although Lincoln certainly wanted to preserve the Union, the Civil War was fought for more than just the secession of eleven slave-holding states from the Union.  Lincoln believed  that free men should not be free to choose slavery for others.  Lincoln knew that the United States Republic was the only noteworthy democracy in the world in the early 1860s & he believed that a significant portion of the young country could not abandon its founding principles & survive for long. 
 
All of our Founding Fathers & Lincoln were libertarians who focused on the definition of libertarianism & especially the second half of the definition in establishing a society based on  limited government, personal responsibility, & free enterprise: individuals have the right to control their own bodies, in action and speech, as long as they do not infringe on the same rights for others.  Lincoln used the second half of the libertarianism definition to reason that the only liberty the secessionists considered was their own with no regard for the violations to liberty they were inflicting on others.
 

Although the thirteenth Amendment banned slavery in the United States "racism is an evil, irrational & morally contemptible doctrine - but doctrines cannot be forbidden or prescribed by law.  Private racism is not a legal, but a moral issue - & can be fought only by private means, such as economic boycott or social ostracism." - Ayn Rand.

 

Judge for yourself how America is doing in this moral regard.  But to clearly see the sea change that took place on July 4, 1776 judge from the perspective that if there was no July 4, 1776, no Declaration Of Independence, no United States of America but rather thirteen British colonies whose residents were predominantly British subjects instead of future American citizens – there would still be unchecked slavery existing everywhere in the world as it had been since the beginning of civilization.

 

To me America is one of God's two great gifts to the world.

 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

CLA+ Test Results Confirm Employers' Complaint - New Graduates Not Ready For Workplace

 
"The closest thing to magic is education." – South Carolina Senator Tim Scott
 
click on graphs to enlarge
 
The above graphs were included in the last post entitled How Trump's Budget Enhances Economic Growth & Prosperity to show that there are plenty of job opening opportunities for Americans – the fact that the graph on the left shows job openings @ an all time high while the number of hires actually slipped indicates a shortage of qualified people.  The graph on the right indicates that since the end of the last recession both the number of unqualified applicants & positions unable to be filled have steadily increased.
 
The U6 unemployment rate was 8.4% in May so there are still thousands of people who are marginally attached to the work force including discouraged workers & people who are working part time who want full time work to potentially fill some of these job openings.  There are also recent (five or less years since graduation) college graduates who are underemployed & 2017 college graduates, who 50% of employers in one survey, say are not ready for the workplace – source PayScale Inc. (www.payscale.com).
 
The PayScale survey pinpointed the deficiency of the 2017 college graduates as poor critical thinking skills & the results of the College Learning Assessment Plus (CLA+) test confirm the employers' complaints.
 
The CLA+ test is given every year @ about 200 colleges to freshmen & seniors to measure how much better these students have learned to think as seniors compared to when they were freshman.
 
The WSJ reviewed some of the data for the exams given in 2013 (freshmen) & 2016 (seniors) & found that "@ more than half the schools, @ least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document, or interpret data in a table."
 
The above results go hand in glove with the American Council Of Trustees & Alumni's (ACTA) findings that have been posted on this blog for years – namely, far too many students receive degrees in subjects they have not become proficient in including obtaining the thinking power that comes with a rigorous college education that will be useful to employers.
 
Below is a graphic from the WSJ that shows not all big name schools excel in the critical thinking field.
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
Below is a graphic display from the WSJ that shows the pertinent statistics for Plymouth State University who recorded a 178 point positive change for students over the four years.  Interesting enough Plymouth State (actually in NH) is graded "F" by ACTA for academic criteria – Plymouth State's high score on the CLA+ test can be attributed to 40% of freshmen not meeting minimum critical thinking requirements meaning much of these young people's thinking, when they first took the CLA+ test as freshmen, was based on personal opinion, false impressions of life, incomplete thought processes, & in general was uninformed.  In short K to 12 education was no help to them.
 
As a point of comparison & much more in line with both the CLA+ & ACTA criteria are the results from the University of Georgia & California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo.  Both schools are graded "A" by ACTA for academic criteria & more than 90% of seniors @ each school are considered proficient or better in critical thinking ability.  The University of Georgia has only 3% of freshmen with deficient thinking ability & Cal Polytechnic has 8%.  Freshmen @ Georgia scored 1213 points & 1155 @ Cal Polytechnic – above or in line with seniors @ Plymouth State.
 
Click here to see the tabulation that includes the detailed scores of some of the schools that participate in the CLA+ test plus a sample test question & three responses – one excellent & the other two lesser so.  As a former employer I would go after the person with the high score – it is really obvious that such a person will provide services that an employer will find valuable.  The CLA+ scoring is based on analysis & problem solving, writing effectiveness, & writing mechanics.
 
click on display to enlarge
 
Below are the graphic displays from the WSJ for the CLA+ statistics for the University of Texas @ Austin, the Citadel, & the University of Louisiana @ Lafayette.  The Texas school has a net change of –3 points from the freshmen start to the seniors finish but the freshmen start is much higher than most school's seniors finish.  The Citadel has an overall poor result based on the below display which is surprising for a school with a high degree of students who become commissioned military officers upon graduation.  The Louisiana school's CLA+ statistics are woeful but the school is graded "B" for academic criteria by ACTA – the school has a 15% four-year graduation rate which explains the statistics in the below display.  The point is a prospective employer has to do an in-depth analysis on a student by student basis – i.e., he just can't look @ numbers.
 
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All of the above, except for a few isolated examples, show America has been on the wrong track academically for quite some time.  In order to turn our jobs picture & economy around a complete & out-&-out change in mindset is required.  This includes parents making sure their children's K to 12 schooling is good – which it certainly is not now in more than the cases provided above.  Parents & students have to stop going into debt for tens of thousands of dollars to get a useless degree from schools where the student has to fake answers on tests to placate radical socialist professors who are teaching anything & everything but free market capitalism.  A twenty-five year old unemployed or underemployed college graduate has to face that his career is passing him by – he needs additional training in another field or needs to pound the electronic pavement in his field of training to find a job now that BO is out of office.  2017 college graduates have to ask if they really do have credentials that an employer can use, & if not, take remedial courses to beef up these credentials.  People in their 30s, 40s & 50s who have seen employment decimated in their companies by foreign competition – or can see it coming – have to take appropriate positive steps to find a new field of employment rather than to look to the government.  And senior citizens must find the courage to realize & admit that the trajectory of Social Security & Medicare is not a sustainable one & senior citizens have to participate in the solution like everyone else.
 
In summary, everyone has to get into the act.
 
In Trump we have a president who wants & needs to be the jobs president
 
Trump, one of the most successful businessmen in the world, is working with other businessmen in many industries to increase employment by removing harmful regulations & lowering the tax burden & claims on earned income for both individuals & businesses.
 
Add Democrats, centrist Republicans, & any one else in political office to the above list who needs to get into the act & doesn't – if they don't help Trump succeed in his economic program throw them out of office the first chance you get.
 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

How Trump's Budget Enhances Economic Growth & Prosperity

 
 
The President's 2018 fiscal year budget, which serves as a recommendation to Congress (i.e., the president proposes, congress disposes) was released on May 23.
 
Although the budget contained many controversial points regarding deficit reduction over 10 years (2018 through 2027) such as 1) $250 billion for repealing & replacing ObamaCare, 2) $616 billion for reforming Medicaid & CHIP, 3) $272 billion for reforming welfare, 4) $143 billion for reforming Federal student loans, & 5) $72 billion for reforming disability programs it also included deficit increases such as $200 billion for supporting $1 trillion in private/public infrastructure investment & $19 billion establishing a paid parental leave program.
 
The yearly budget totals for spending & revenues project a declining deficit every year except 2019 & returns the budget to balance & even produces a small surplus in 2027.  The budget produces $3.6 trillion in spending reductions over 10 years & by including the economic gains that are expected from Trump's fiscal, economic, & regulatory policies the deficit is shown reduced by $5.6 trillion compared to the current fiscal path.  Non-defense discretionary spending is reduced by the 2-penny plan (2% each year) from $479 billion in 2018 to $378 billion in 2027.
 
And of course the budget proposal includes "funding to plan, design, & construct a physical wall along the southern border as directed by the President's January 25, 2017 EO."
 
Now you can decide for yourself how much appetite Congress has for any of Trump's plans indicated above as they exercise the power of the purse in the appropriations process.
 
But the most controversial part of Trump's budget is found on Table S-9 entitled Economic Assumptions – where Trump assumes a 3% economic growth rate & then not until 2020 (2.5% in 2018 & 2.8% in 2019).  Democrats say this 3% projected growth rate is not attainable thereby making the entire budget unrealistic.
 
Over the past nine years annual economic growth has averaged 1.4%.  Annual economic growth has been 2.1% since June 2009 when the recession ended – the weakest expansion of the post World War II period.  Even a one percentage point difference in the growth of our economy translates into nearly $200-billion a year of goods & services not realized meaning fewer jobs & a lower standard of living than would be produced from a more robust economy.
 
Between 1950 & 2005 annual economic growth of 4% or higher was common place.  See graph below.
 
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The following graphic indicates that growth in gross domestic product (GDP) is a function of labor & productivity powered by capital investment.  Stanford economics professor John Taylor teaches that economic growth equals employment growth + productivity growth.  Productivity growth is powered by increases in investment, innovation, & entrepreneurship.  Long term, the economy grows because of capital & savings.
 
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Now this blog has documented over eight years how BO's policies intentionally kept America down.  In the case of the economy higher taxes, massive regulations, & the certainty that both would increase under BO forced entrepreneurs to wait for another administration before moving forward with investments that would increase economic growth, jobs, productivity, & accordingly everyone's standard of living.  With Trump being one of the world's most successful businessmen we have a real chance to reverse the Death Of Democracy spiral & return to the liberty to abundance stage of our republic.
 
Trump's budget calls for lowering both the individual & corporate income tax rates, eliminating both the 3.8% ObamaCare surtax on capital gains & dividends & the 0.9% additional Medicare payroll tax.  Trump plans to replace two government regulations for every new one made – the business cost of regulatory compliance in 2012 was nearly $2-trillion.  BO's annual compliance cost burden for an average U.S. firm is 21% of its payroll thereby leaving little or no room for investment of any kind.  In summary, Trump's budget plan provides a much better climate for businesses & workers to prosper.  Already $55-billion of burdensome regulations have been repealed thereby boosting confidence of business leaders.
 
See table below that identifies taxes & government regulations & red tape as the two largest problems of small businesses.
 
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From 1948 through 2016 the working age population grew 1.1% per year on average.  Part of the Democrat's skepticism about Trump's 3% economic growth target is that baby boomers are retiring @ a rate of 10,000 per day (they claim this is a large part of the reason that the labor force participation rate has declined from 66.0% in 2008 to 62.7% in May) & family sizes are getting smaller & I hasten to add starting to form later in life than they did for most of the twentieth century thereby retarding economic growth.  The census bureau forecasts an annual growth rate of 0.3% for the working-age population for the next 10 years – the same rate as the last nine years.
 
Productivity growth averaged 1.1% the past nine years (0.5% per year from 2011 through 2016) resulting in average annual output growth of 1.4% when you add the 0.3% additional hours worked each year.  See table below for relationship of productivity, output, & hours worked from 1948 through 2016.
 
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So with productivity down, & projected to stay down, & the labor force growing slowly how does Trump justify 3% economic growth in his budget proposal?
 
It must first be understood that every economic policy of the past eight years under BO was instituted to make people dependent on the government – not produce a viable economy that people prospered in.  If you don't believe me name one policy that BO put in place that enhanced free enterprise.
 
It is true that the labor force participation rate declined as baby boomers retired & BO bares no responsibility for this.  But this is not the case for the decline in family sizes (or their postponement to even start a family) – young & old alike found employment precarious with deep cuts in salary for experienced people, if they still had a job @ all, while young college educated people could not find jobs in their field & were forced to live in their parents basements as a result of BO's policies – this was documented by statistics, graphs, & personal experience in many posts over the years on this blog.  Much of the decline in the growth of the labor force can be laid @ the feet of BO.
 
In a similar vein it is easy to see why businesses did not expand their facilities or equipment that would increase productivity with the only certainty being that their taxes & number of regulations would increase under BO or Hillary Clinton, the surprise loser in the presidential election.
 
In summary, BO's policies precluded both family formation which hindered labor force growth & investment that would increase productivity.
 
The retirement of baby boomers is far from the entire story regarding the decline in the labor force participation rate.  Check out the graphs below to see that the declines in labor force participation rates of both teenagers & young adults is even greater than the overall decline (3.3% from 2008 to the present).  In fact for people 65 & over the labor force participation rate increased 4.2% from 2004 to 2014 going from 14.4% to 18.6% while the teenage rate dropped from 40.2% in 2008 to 34.3% in 2015.
 
  click on graphs to enlarge
 
The trick to achieving 3% growth is to get the aforementioned people back into the labor force & in many cases off government dependence.  Part of Trump's budget proposal calls for people to join the labor force in order to qualify to continue receiving government benefits like food stamps.
 
Professor Taylor estimates that reversing the declining trend in labor force participation & getting the aforementioned people back to work will produce a 2% growth rate in employment when coupled with the average population growth rate of the past 68 years.  When businesses start to invest in capital improvements once again productivity growth of @ least 2.3% (average of the past 68 years) is a reasonable expectation resulting in GDP growth of 4.3% – much higher than Trump's assumption of 3% growth. 
 
Trump picked 3% growth instead of 4.3% because there will be inefficiencies productively returning the aforementioned people to the labor force.  It is a fact that people who have been out of the labor force for years most likely have lost skills & will need training.  Also it can be hard to get current recipients of government benefits to return to the labor force – hence the incentive to work in order to continue receiving benefits.  In addition, many of the teenagers & young adults listed above will have low skills but for the first time in their lives they have a real chance to achieve a better life than currently lies before them.
 
The following graph shows there are currently a million more openings than there are people available to fill them.  Someone who wants to get trained for these jobs will walk, not have to run, past the competition, get a better more dignified life, & contribute to the growth of the U.S. economy.
 
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The following graphic details another version of the trouble small businesses are having finding qualified workers.  What a new lease on life for those who take advantage of it.
 
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We are coming from way down & it certainly didn't have to be this way.  The following graphs show another measure of potential employment - just to get back to levels where we once were.
 
 
Another highlight of Trump's budget is:  "Tax Reform & Simplification. We must reduce the tax burden on American workers & businesses, so that we can maximize incomes & economic growth. We must also simplify our tax system, so that individuals and businesses do not waste countless hours and resources simply paying their taxes."
 
Below is the postcard form that the House (Ryan) is proposing to be used in filing income tax returns in the tax simplification process.  But it is still an income tax which means with its large deductions it gives the perception that government is free to over half the population & its claims on earned income can easily be raised.
 
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In summary, Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget is just another reason the Democrats want to get rid of him.  Democrats fear that Trump will reverse the political correctness that they depend on to confuse & mislead people so that no one any longer knows right from wrong - Democrats are like fish caught on hooks fighting for their lives – getting rid of Trump gives them a chance to resuscitate themselves.
 
In his work to make America great again Trump is looking to return prosperity to the citizenry by getting them off of government dependence & making America once again a land where free enterprise thrives.  The above analysis shows the principles contained in Trump's budget is a start to reverse the terrible direction this country has gone in, not only during the last eight years but since 1960 as shown on the graphic below.
 
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