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.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Tragic Ending To An Alligator Attack

In May 2017 I presented two posts of attacks by 1) an alligator on a young girl who knew how to fend the beast off, & 2) a sea lion on a young girl who was saved by an heroic individual who dove into the water to help.  Both accounts resulted in a scare but a happy ending – see reference posts below.
 
This post presents the tragic ending of a woman's life in August in a residential community in the Sea Pines section of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  The woman was walking her small dog very close to a pond.  The alligator was lying close to shore & grabbed the dog's leash & wound up pulling both the dog & woman into the pond killing the woman & leaving the dog unhurt.
 
For those who live or vacation in the southeast you know that alligators are large carnivorous animals & should be respected as such – not treated as an amusement to be trifled with.  Alligator attacks are very rare & the reptiles are usually afraid of people so in the above tragedy the attraction was most likely the dog seen as an easy target & meal.
 
A few simple safety rules:
 
1.  Do not feed alligators or ducks, turtles, fish, or any other animal inhabiting water where alligators are known inhabitants.  This food source attracts alligators, trains them to associate humans with food, & makes them more likely to approach you.
 
2.  Almost any body of water in the southeast is an alligator-friendly habitat so be mindful of your environment.  I have seen people walking dogs near ponds totally focused on their cell phones or video games – not good with alligators around.
 
3.  If you encounter an alligator, walk backwards & back away from it.  A safe distance is about 60 feet.  If an alligator hisses or lunges @ you, you are too close which I have been on occasion.
 
4.  Keep pets & children away from alligators – large alligators will recognize them as food sources & act on their natural hunting instinct.  Do not allow pets or children to swim or play @ the edge of waters inhabited by alligators.  To an alligator, any splash potentially means a food source is in the water.
 
Reference posts: 
 
 
 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Venezuela & America Provide A Definitive Comparison Between A Socialist & Capitalist Economy

"The business of America is business." - President Calvin Coolidge
 
"It is not the company that makes a profit that rips off society but the one who doesn't." – Peter Drucker
 
"A system of pure, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism has never existed anywhere." – Ayn Rand writing in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
Well pure unregulated laissez-faire capitalism certainly has never existed anywhere but the above graphic shows what happened to Venezuela's currency, when the country with the world's largest oil reserves, turned to pure regulated socialism. 
 
The government's official currency fell 2,401,878.4% against the dollar just in 2018 from 1 strong bolivar per 0.097 dollar on January 1 to 1 strong bolivar per 0.00000403 dollar recently – see graphic above.  Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has devalued the currency to be more closely aligned with the black market rate – the real market value - & launched a so-called sovereign bolivar, containing five fewer zeros, pegged @ a fixed rate of 60 per dollar instead of 6,000,000 per dollar – see graphic of black market exchange rate below.  Four million per dollar had been the Venezuelan central bank's preferred valuation of the sovereign bolivar.
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
In summary, the currency is virtually worthless & so are pensions & savings.  Venezuela defaulted on $50 billion in bonds after failing to make interest payments since last Fall, hyperinflation has hit an annual all time high of 61,463%, & the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects hyper-inflation of 1,000,000% – a can of coke was recently priced @ 2,800,000 strong bolivars & re-priced the same day @ 28 sovereign bolivars.
 
The problems started almost 15 years ago when the previous president Hugo Ch├ívez started implementing what he called "21st century socialism" saying that "It's impossible for capitalism to achieve our goals, nor is it possible to search for an intermediate way – I invite all Venezuelans to march together on the path of socialism of the new century."
 
Chavez went on to usurp millions of acres of land & thousands of privately owned businesses & foreign assets were nationalized.  Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips, & about 20 other international companies famously had assets in Venezuela confiscated.
 
When crude oil prices ended 2015 below $40 per barrel Venezuela was not able to adapt & a severe economic downturn resulted that continues to this day with dire food shortages, faltering public services like water & transportation, closure of companies & resultant unemployment, & falling oil production – there are shortages of milk, meat, coffee, rice, oil, precooked flour, butter, toilet paper, personal hygiene produces & medicines – nearly 75% of Venezuelans have lost an average of twenty pounds & some have resorted to eating garbage.  Almost ninety percent of the population now lives in poverty & accordingly the crime rate has dramatically increased with a murder rate in 2015 of 90 per 100,000 people – greater than the murder rates in Central America's Northern Triangle countries of 25 to 75 per 100,000 & the U.S. murder rate of 5 per 100,000.
 
Maduro has @ least admitted that socialism in Venezuela failed when he told the United Socialist Party Congress (PSUV)  "The production models we've tried so far have failed, & the responsibility is ours – mine & yours."
 
Now to be sure the U.S. economy is not a pure, unregulated laissez-faire capitalistic system, a free enterprise economy that will produce ever higher rungs on the ladder of economic growth for the world – it is a mixed economy that is somewhere between a totally free market economy (pure capitalism) & a government directed economy (socialism) with the current uninformed mindset of a majority of millennials & Democrats favoring more socialism.  Professor Friedman said over twenty years ago "We're more than 50 percent socialist.  And I don't think we're getting our money's worth."
 
Economists today focus on whether or not we are stuck in a modern day secular stagnation that I will define as less than 2% real annual economic growth, or whether the Trump budget of fiscal year 2018 that called for 3% growth starting in 2020 is out of reach in 21st century America, or whether a return to the historic 4% growth levels is only a pipedream.
 
Stanford economics professor John Taylor teaches that economic growth equals employment growth + productivity growth.
 
The demographics of population growth presents a challenge for high economic growth but the productivity growth component of Professor Taylor's formula should be increased substantially via several features of the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 – specifically the 100% expensing rules for capital investments, the lowering of the corporate income tax rates, & to a lesser extent the lowering of the individual income tax rates.
 
Long term, the economy grows because of capital & savings, including savings that children running lemonade stands, or washing pans in a bakery for allowance money, deposit in passbook savings accounts – a great way to get started in becoming an entrepreneur.
 
The following graphic illustrates the components of Professor Taylor's formula.
 
  click on graphic to enlarge
 
The following graphic shows the difference in economic growth rates between two diametrically opposed ideologies – Reagan for free enterprise (environment of lowering both taxes & regulations) & BO (environment of raising both taxes & regulations) for socialism.  The graphic below shows the quarter to quarter annualized real GDP change for Reagan's & BO's presidencies starting in the 3rd year of each presidency.
 
click on graphic to enlarge
 
Rose Wilder Lane sums up the point of the above graphic when she wrote on page 52 of The Discovery Of Freedom "Men in Government must take the wealth they consume, from the wealth that productive men produce.  The important question is, What amount can they take safely?"
 
The Trump economy of the past year & a half has given many people the feeling that the economy is roaring like it hasn't in about a decade.  But President Trump pointed out that when speaking of a percent or two in GDP it is hard for people to visualize the magnitude of what is happening – they just know they feel good.
 
The best way I know to visualize the differences in GDP growth rates is to look @ how long it would take for the economy to double when comparing two different economic growth rates.
 
For instance, if we can achieve a continuous 3% real economic growth rate the economy will double in 24 years as opposed to 39 years for a 1.85% continuous real economic growth rate.  Starting with a $20 trillion (rounded) economy a 1.85% continuous real economic growth rate would result in almost $10 trillion (in 2018 dollars) less goods & services being available for consumption than would be available with a 3% continuous real economic growth rate.  It would take an additional 15 years to make up this $10 trillion difference @ 1.85% real economic growth.
 
Professor Friedman wrote in Free To Choose: "Wherever the free market has been permitted to operate, wherever anything approaching equality of opportunity has existed, the ordinary man has been able to obtain levels of living never dreamed of before.  Nowhere is the gap between rich & poor wider, nowhere are the rich richer or the poor poorer, than in those societies that do not permit the free market to operate." 
 
A strong economy is the only way to consistently give people the dignity of gainful employment that produces a higher standard of living & a promising future.
 
The collapse of Venezuela, as described above, shows another chapter of the failure of a centrally planned socialist managed economy. 
 
But the majority of millennials & Democrats in 2018 can't reject the temptation to think that socialism in America will work – they think this time will be different.  The lure of socialism is a burden that "is exceedingly hard to throw off, even when patently obvious that it is the chief culprit producing persistent underdevelopment, poverty, & misery."1
_________________________ 
1.  Mary O'Grady writing the weekly Americas column in the WSJ – August 25, 2006
 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Is More Trump Than Trump

Last weekend on Huckabee on TBN the Governor's special guest was his daughter White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  Click here for part one & here for part two to see the videos of Sarah's appearance on the show – which is similar to the original Huckabee show on FNC. 
 
As we all know President Trump can, @ times, find fault with virtually any of his aides & members of his staff but I cannot think of a single occasion where he has even mentioned Sarah, the staff member with the greatest media exposure.  This is testimony of the excellence of Sarah's quality & character & why she is a wonderful role model for so many people especially young women.
 
As a regular watcher of her daily press briefings I know that her job as Press Secretary is to report the president's positions but on occasion I have heard Sarah say that she thought President Trump was a little too mild or soft - in those cases Sarah is even more Trump than the President.