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.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

WSJ Publishes My Solution To The Social Security Solvency Problem

America was founded on the principles of limited government, personal responsibility, & free enterprise so it was an indication of how far we have moved away from these principles in learning that young adults & women think the American dream is out of reach in a recent WSJ/NORC survey: 46% of men & only 28% of women said the ideal for advancement for hard work still holds true.  Only 28% of Americans under 50 have a positive outlook on getting ahead.  People say they need a 50% pay raise to be happy.

Brought on by their incomes losing ground to inflation & the rapidity of an 18% increase in the general price level since Biden took office, Americans are feeling the effects of the mixed economy that is really more than 50% socialist. The federal government's limitless deficit spending is really not fulfilling but just lets people muddle through life on government dependence never knowing the "triumph of high achievement" in the words of TR's Man In The Arena.

Complicating the socialist economic problem for these young people is that many of the former grade A companies they work for have stymied their upward mobility by adopting Woke cultures centered around antibusiness non-financial aspects of the ESG movement, equality of outcome policies of DEI, a super alertness to perceived racial prejudice & discrimination - even when none exists - to the point of absurdity following the hateful teachings of Critical Race Theory, & a broader awareness of social inequalities such as racial justice, sexism, & homosexual, bisexual, & transgender rights.  It would be hard for a new Ivy League MBA with $100,000 of student loan debt to want to work for an employer adopting these types of policies - these MBAs are looking for meritocracy & advancement.

But what they are finding is trouble "in terms of their perceived ability to marry, raise children, own a home, & plot an autonomous course to have control of their own financial destinies - the fundamentals of traditional middle class citizenship." - The Dying Citizen, page 40, Victor Davis Hanson.

A case in point - The Walt Disney Company recently filed an SEC statement admitting  "We face risks relating to misalignment with public and consumer tastes and preferences for entertainment, travel, and consumer products, which impact demand for our entertainment offerings and products and the profitability of any of our businesses."  Specifically, Disney has infamously dabbled in politics by attempting to place homosexual & queer content in children's school programs - fighting the state of Florida & the preferences of parents who are their paying customers.  See Parental Rights In Education law.

Since much of this wokeness has spread to Police Departments & the U.S. military is there any wonder that 2,500 NYC policemen have quit in 2023 & the military faces recruitment shortfalls?

To address the significant portion of the country that is not concerned about meritocracy & advancement of career but rather prefers time to contemplate the correct work-life balance - especially while their parents are helping out - the country obviously needs a change of mindset from a "you deserve, you're entitled to" mindset to one of even limited personal responsibility for a start.  Just listen to TV & radio commercials to see how much stuff advertisers tell people they deserve for free, & of course this mindset delivers anything but freedom.

The federal government runs 126 separate & often overlapping anti-poverty welfare programs identified by the Cato Institute, like the 33 housing programs run by four cabinet departments or the 21 different programs providing food or food-purchasing assistance.  But make no mistake, federal government spending is powered by Social Security & Medicare & unless the new president is willing to tackle these gargantuan entitlements our financial miseries as indicated above will only get worse due to increased longevity of older American beneficiaries & the smaller payroll contributions of people unconcerned about working.  And both Biden & Trump offer no help saying they have no intention to address Social Security & Medicare entitlement funding @ all.

Now I have offered four solutions for America's financial problems: 1) replace the Medicare plan with one of premium support to buy private insurance using a nominal dollar demogrant, unadjusted for inflation, for people younger than 55, 2) change the basis for the initial Social Security benefit to the CPI instead of the national average wage index to ensure that benefits do not grow faster than the cost of living, 3) cut, cap & balance federal spending @ 18% of GDP, & 4) replace the federal income tax & IRS with the FairTax Plan.  Go to the search bar on the upper left side of RTE to find any of the numerous posts I have written explaining in detail all of these solutions - all of which get some play in the financial media from time to time.

So with the above as background, I was delighted when the WSJ published my letter below on November 16 regarding the Social Security solution.

Dear Editor,

John F. Cogan and Daniel L Heil's excellent op-ed (Older Americans Are Better Off Than Ever - November 10) points out that "the typical senior household today enjoys Social Security benefits that have twice the purchasing power of benefits received by the average household in 1982."

A beneficiary's initial benefit is based on the national average wage index, not the inflation rate.  Because real wage growth has been greater than inflation, purchasing power has doubled since 1982.  Indexing the initial Social Security benefit formula to inflation instead of this wage index would solve the Social Security solvency problem.  By using the index, the government is guaranteeing a real positive return for the average person, a guarantee no other investor has.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Thanksgiving Proclamation In The Year Of The Independence Of The United States Of America The One Hundred & Forty-eighth

It was 100 years ago this past August 2 that Calvin Coolidge became the 30th president of the United States following the sudden death from a heart attack of Warren G. Harding.  In the middle of the night Coolidge was sworn in by his father, a notary public & justice of the peace, in the parlor of Coolidge's childhood home in Plymouth Notch, Vermont.  Carol & I visited the site in 2013.  President Coolidge was a very humble man.

Although three of our first five presidents died on July 4 (Adams, Jefferson, & Monroe) Coolidge is the only president to be born on July 4.

Coolidge's presidency was a masterpiece.

Under Coolidge all of the principles of supply side economics were achieved: 1) the reduction of the size of government and its claims on earned income, 2) a lower marginal tax rate for the highest income earners, & 3) sound-money policies.   Silent Cal reduced the top 73% income tax rate to 25% by 1925, reduced the national debt, & balanced the budget – a budget that actually was smaller when he left office than when he took office. Federal spending was 3% of GDP in 1928 – it is 24.2% today.

On November 5, 1923 President Coolidge issued Proclamation 1680 - Thanksgiving Day, 1923.

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

The American people, from their earliest days, have observed the wise custom of acknowledging each year the bounty with which divine Providence has favored them. In the beginnings, this acknowledgment was a voluntary return of thanks by the community for the fruitfulness of the harvest. Though our mode of life has greatly changed, this custom has always survived. It has made thanksgiving day not only one of the oldest but one of the most characteristic observances of our country. On that day, in home and church, in family and in public gatherings, the whole nation has for generations paid the tribute due from grateful hearts for blessings bestowed.

To center our thought in this way upon the favor which we have been shown has been altogether wise and desirable. It has given opportunity justly to balance the good and the evil which we have experienced. In that we have never failed to find reasons for being grateful to God for a generous preponderance of the good. Even in the least propitious times, a broad contemplation of our whole position has never failed to disclose overwhelming reasons for thankfulness. Thus viewing our situation, we have found warrant for a more hopeful and confident attitude toward the future.

In this current year, we now approach the time which has been accepted by custom as most fitting for the calm survey of our estate and the return of thanks. We shall the more keenly realize our good fortune, if we will, in deep sincerity, give to it due thought, and more especially, if we will compare it with that of any other community in the world.

The year has brought to our people two tragic experiences which have deeply affected them. One was the death of our beloved President Harding, which has been mourned wherever there is a realization of the worth of high ideals, noble purpose and unselfish service carried even to the end of supreme sacrifice. His loss recalled the nation to a less captious and more charitable attitude. It sobered the whole thought of the country. A little later came the unparalleled disaster to the friendly people of Japan. This called forth from the people of the United States a demonstration of deep and humane feeling. It was wrought into the substance of good works. It created new evidences of our international friendship, which is a guarantee of world peace. It replenished the charitable impulse of the country.

By experiences such as these, men and nations are tested and refined. We have been blessed with much of material prosperity. We shall be better able to appreciate it if we remember the privations others have suffered, and we shall be the more worthy of it if we use it for their relief. We will do well then to render thanks for the good that has come to us, and show by our actions that we have become stronger, wiser, and truer by the chastenings which have been imposed upon us. We will thus prepare ourselves for the part we must take in a world which forever needs the full measure of service. We have been a most favored people. We ought to be a most generous people. We have been a most blessed people. We ought to be a most thankful people.

Wherefore, I, Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States, do hereby fix and designate Thursday, the twenty-ninth day of November, as Thanksgiving Day, and recommend its general observance throughout the land. It is urged that the people, gathering in their homes and their usual places of worship, give expression to their gratitude for the benefits and blessings that a gracious Providence has bestowed upon them, and seek the guidance of Almighty God, that they may deserve a continuance of His favor.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this 5th day of November, in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Nine Hundred and Twenty-three, and of the Independence of the United States, the One Hundred and Forty-eighth.


By the President:
CHARLES E. HUGHES, Secretary of State.

Calvin Coolidge, Proclamation 1680—Thanksgiving Day, 1923 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/206745

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Galston Column Takes Opposite Approach To RTE

The series of recent posts regarding problems I document with Trump's term in office so far has concentrated on 1) Trump being the biggest deficit spender per year in the country's history, 2) Trump having no constitutional, statutory, or historical basis for asking Pence to not certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election on January 6, 2021, & 3) Trump leaving thousands of people in Seattle to fend for themselves against a band of marauding thugs for over three weeks in the summer of 2020.  

Die-hard Trump supporters commented that voters don't care about these issues citing some they do care about such as "inflation, high gas prices, & high interest rates - can't buy a house" as if Trump spending $3.6 trillion in 2020 was of no consequence compared to Biden spending $1.9 trillion in 2021 as the cause of the resulting inflation & high interest rates.  Trump skates by these die-hard supporters after spending nearly twice as much money as Biden did over these two years.

None of the lists of issues that voters supposedly care about that die-hard Trump supporters presented to me included Social Security & Medicare's solvency problems.  Trump sees no problem - a position that will hurt millions of people, either with benefit cuts or much higher payroll taxes.  Not good leadership on Trump's part & a definite unawareness on the part of his followers of an issue they will care about in a big way one day soon.

With regard to voters not caring about January 6 - please remember that with the authority I cited in the last post Trump could have called up the DC National Guard instead of saying that Pelosi was in charge of Capitol security & there was nothing he could do.  Not a picture of a strong president.  Better yet I alway wondered why Trump would not have called off the perceived danger if it was thought so unsafe that calling up thousands of troops was necessary.

In fact, the die-hard Trump supporter who wrote the original comment defending Trump's summer of love dereliction of duty in Seattle saying "Trump could not just go into cities unless asked by the governor" - went off this track after I presented documentation of many of the cases where presidents did "go into cities" uninvited by changing the topic to "election fraud that is going on in the midterms" & that we should "Stop the fraud, so we can have trustworthy elections" which I take to mean elections his candidate wins.  Because his comments rambled so much I'm not sure this commenter even recognized he was the one that led me to research the Insurrection Act in the first place.

I know that there is a substantial percentage of die-hard Trump supporters who dismiss anything & everything that does not put Trump in a good light - Mike Huckabee, everyone on NewsMax, & some on FNC for instance.  But there are several people who could deliver all of the pro-American policies without the baggage & divisiveness of Trump.  Just look @ Senator Mullin ready for a fistfight on the Senate floor.  Representative Comer was in a heated dispute also & the media encourages this behavior.  We need substance not bluster & Trump is more bluster than substance.

Using all of the above as background I was surprised to read Wliiam Galston's weekly column (below) in the Wednesday WSJ that, like Sunday's RTE post, reviewed the Insurrection Act of 1792 & the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.  What timing. The difference is that I presented the authority for Trump to federalize the National Guard to enforce the laws of the United States during the summer of 2020 in Seattle as something that should have been done to protect American citizens while Mr. Galston presents this same authority as a danger to constitutional liberties that we all take for granted when in the hands of a person suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder. 

Donald Trump's Insurrection Act Gambit 
By William Galston

In June 2020, President Trump considered—and was talked out of—invoking the Insurrection Act against protesters who took to the streets after the murder of George Floyd. Now Team Trump reportedly is preparing the ground to use this law whenever necessary after he retakes the White House.

Like most Americans, I knew little about the Insurrection Act until recently. But the more I learn, the more I worry about its potential to erode our fundamental liberties.

The Posse Comitatus Act, enacted in 1878, mostly barred the U.S. military from the role in civil law enforcement that it had played during the Civil War and its aftermath. The act permitted legislated exceptions, however. The most important of these is the Insurrection Act.

This act gives the president the authority to deploy the military to assist law-enforcement agencies in three situations: when a state government requests federal aid to suppress an insurrection in that state; when the president deems military deployment necessary to "enforce the laws" of the U.S. or to "suppress the rebellion"; and when the president deems such deployment necessary to suppress "any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy" in a state whose government is unable or unwilling to enforce the constitutional rights of its citizens or "opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws."

I quote from the statute to make a point: Its scope, which is both broad and vague, gives the president enormous discretionary power. Key terms—insurrection, rebellion and domestic violence—aren't defined. As an analysis by the Brennan Center shows, the president alone may decide whether these prerequisites for deploying the military have been met, and the Supreme Court has said it has no authority to review the president's decision.

To be sure, a 1932 Supreme Court decision held that courts may review the lawfulness or constitutionality of acts the military performs after it has been deployed, but in the swirl of events basic liberties may be curtailed well before the judiciary can step in.

Consider this scenario: After a divisive campaign, a presidential candidate opposed by half the country is inaugurated, and a massive protest breaks out in Washington. While observers and authorities report that the demonstrators are mostly peaceful, the new president disagrees, federalizes the National Guards of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, and deploys them with orders to suppress the protests.

Or this one: After police in a large city kill an unarmed black man, protests break out and spread to other cities. Although the protests are peaceful at first, the president argues that similar events in the past have turned violent in a manner that exceeded local and state capacity to suppress them. He then orders the deployment of military forces to break them up before threats to life and property arise.

In situations such as these, fundamental rights such as the freedoms of speech and assembly are at stake, and the potential for the arbitrary and capricious use of the Insurrection Act is evident. This possibility should disturb anyone who doesn't trust every president to use his authority prudently and within constitutional restraints. After 2020, Congress should have reformed the Insurrection Act to prevent future presidents from using it to suppress basic liberties.

In one of the most enduring lines of the 2016 presidential campaign, veteran reporter Salena Zito wrote of Mr. Trump that "the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally." She implied—plausibly—that his supporters, not the press, were reading him correctly. But that was then, when his plans were relatively unformed and his understanding of how to staff his administration wasn't informed by any government experience.

Things are different now. In his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in March, Mr. Trump declared that he had learned a great deal during his first term about who is strong and who is weak, about who can be trusted and who can't. With the help of such groups as the Claremont Institute and the Heritage Foundation, Mr. Trump's team is busy formulating policies and making lists of people on whom it can rely to staff his administration.

A second Trump term would be much more effective than the first, a prospect that thrills his supporters and sends shivers through those who fear, as I do, that his re-entry into the White House would trigger the biggest threat to constitutional governance since the Civil War. Let's take him literally as well as seriously.