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, May 11, 2023

We Have It Within Our Power To Change The Destructive Path We're On

 "There's clearly been an effort to bring down the standards for our students in Virginia to stop celebrating excellence.  And this is counter to everything we believe." - Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin speaking about eighteen Virginia high schools (see table below that includes the number 1 high school in the nation), apparently working in tandem targeting Asian-American students, by withholding National Merit Awards presented to the top 3% of scorers on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) - an award that is an honor acknowledgement of merit that can help students in the top 1% of scorers compete for scholarships & college admissions. 

School officials said that the awards & scholarships were withheld to avoid hurting the feelings of those who failed to get them, citing their program of "equal outcomes for every student, without exception."  This relentless pursuit of Progressives' idea of equity went as far as hiring an "equity consultant" for $450,000 in the Fairfax County School District.  

The Virginia Attorney General is conducting an investigation.

Progressives have come to substitute the word "equity" for "equality" as if the two are identical - they are not.  Progressives' idea is that there are systemic inequalities in the world & that social equity is achieved when everyone under whatever circumstance they find themselves is given whatever they need to reach an equal outcome with anyone else.  In short, a tilted playing field.  The Founders argued that government exists to protect man’s natural equality and natural rights. The Progressives countered that government exists to achieve equality for individuals, particularly economically like the student loan forgiveness program that transfers the student's debt from people who incurred it to those who don't owe it. 

Equity is the quality of being fair & impartial & of course the Progressives' idea of equity is exactly the opposite of this.  When Progressives talk about equity they are speaking of "equality of outcomes" & this viewpoint not only will hurt the country - it already has.

Last fall, following the equity for equality progressive substitution, Ivy League & other highly thought of big name schools sought to protect their names & reputations a little longer by deciding not to provide data for U.S. News & World Report's law school rankings.  Led by Yale & Stanford more than a dozen other law schools followed suit.  

This in turn quickly led to Harvard's Medical School withdrawing their cooperation with the magazine's medical school rankings, which was followed by medical schools @ Stanford, Columbia, Penn, & Mount Sinai.

Rankings like USNWR's, & grading of colleges by ACTA, can only louse up the good thing some schools have going for themselves.  Don't compete for excellence - just let things roll along as the non-participating schools rest on their laurels & perceived reputation.      

The above examples of the Virginia high schools & the college law & medical schools intentionally hindering the brightest students' development will continue the dumbing down of the entire society that thinks there are more than two sexes, that men have babies, & that you need to state your preferred pronouns when being introduced to someone or enlist in the Army.

Our enemies around the world concentrate on overtaking America economically & militarily while our schools produce a society, many of whose members are tied up in preferred pronouns & can't get a responsible job despite employers' multiple openings per unemployed worker.  See graphic below.

The link between lack of education achievement & unemployable people becomes clearer every day.  Employers have the openings but can't find qualified people to fill them no matter how many people are out of work.

This deterioration of education in America, as documented in the Virginia high schools above, is also a growing problem in the professions.

There was already a looming shortage of doctors forecast before the 2010 enactment of ObamaCare with its projections of adding another 30 million people into the insured ranks.  The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a primary care shortage of up to 55,000 doctors within the next decade & up to 124,000 physicians by 2034 derived from an estimated 268,000 retirements & possibly only 15,000 new doctors coming in each year.

It is estimated that more than 64 million people in the U.S, live in an area that is short of doctors, nurses, & other health & human service professionals.  Retiring doctors give their practices to hospitals or large group-team practices with young inexperienced doctors in exchange for being able to walk away from the practice with no further liability.

This doesn't look like it will get better any time soon with proper medical training being an expensive time-consuming process being offered by a limited number of medical schools with just so many seats - such schools not keeping up with the demand for physicians.  Doctors then are being burnt out with less autonomy as they are controlled by insurance companies.

The solution is to return the medical profession to the excellence when it was the most prestigious field for a young person to go into by removing all of these hindrances & red tape encountered when trying to help patients.

But it is not the shortage of doctors that surprises me since I have repeatedly written about that since the early days of ObamaCare.

I was very surprised to see little more than a homemade sign "Pharmacists Wanted '' when I entered a local Rite Aid drug store last summer.  Come to find out the major pharmacy chains have severe personnel shortage problems too.

And it all started during the Covid-19 pandemic with fewer people attending pharmacy schools - a trend that is expected to continue.  According to the Pharmacy College Application Service the number of pharmacy-school applicants dropped by more than a third from its peak a decade ago resulting in pharmacies reducing hours or even closing stores on weekends because of staff shortages.

The median annual pay for pharmacists in 2021 was nearly $129,000 meaning by definition half the pharmacists you see filling prescriptions make over $129,000 per year.

This has created an overworked condition that is ripe for mistakes.  I witnessed a madhouse @ a local Walmart pharmacy the winter before last when there was only one pharmacist on duty giving Covid vaccine shots, trying to fill orders, & explain how to take medications to customers.  The pharmacist looked disheveled, bewildered, & spinning around like being blown out of a cyclone not knowing where to turn next.  I left.

Next up in the troubled professions is accounting where a shortage of accountants is forcing small & mid sized firms to hire overseas accountants even when the U.S. income tax filing season gets in full swing.  Imagine what this says - foreigners in Bengaluru, India or South Africa know how to complete an American income tax return but Americans don't.

Education starts the downhill accounting profession slide with a 9% decline in U.S. students who received a bachelor's degree in accounting (57,500 degrees in 2012 to 52,500 degrees in 2019) with the downward trend continuing the past two years.  As I expected to find in researching this post, fewer people are sitting for the four part CPA examination.  Evidently working the fields in the hot Arizona sun is not the only job Americans won't or can't do.

This lower number of degreed accountants is not sufficient to replace the more than 300,000 U.S. accountants & auditors who left their employment the past two years.  

The accounting profession involves a lot of pressure & hard work with 70 to 80 hour workweeks common each spring during income tax season & four times a year meeting audit deadlines for business financial reports.

Just like pharmacies have reduced their hours many accounting firms have stopped performing external audits because of qualified staff shortages.

I have wondered for years why anyone would want to join the police force, border patrol, or military the way people in those professions have been treated under the criminal or enemy first, victim last or not @ all mindset.

I know army veterans who went through very selective competitive processes to become policemen 20 years ago - the NYPD had 20 applicants for every open position.  Now there is a 1,700 officer shortage.  Chicago is losing two officers for each one it graduates from the police academy & San Jose has seen a two thirds drop in applications to the police force the last three years.  Source - Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund.

As the abuse of these police professionals became more & more absurd the hiring standards naturally were lowered.

For instance, four of the five Memphis policemen who were fired & charged with murder in the beating & subsequent death of Tyre Nichols had been reprimanded or suspended earlier in their work on the force for failure to report when they used physical force, failure to report a domestic dispute, or for damages to a squad car.  

One of the four officers cited above was hired after the department loosened its education requirements.  The man had worked as a Shelby County corrections officer - he had been sued for allegedly beating a jail inmate (the case was dismissed on a technicality) so on-the-job violence was on his resume.

In fact the Memphis police chief herself, who had created the elite Scorpion unit that the five accused officers belonged to, had originally been demoted from major to lieutenant before being fired from the Atlanta police force for attempting to cover up a case involving the husband of another officer.  The Atlanta Civil Service Board reinstated her.

The above four examples of shortages - doctors, pharmacists, accountants, & policemen - show important jobs that affect our lives that are just not being done the way they should be.  

These shortages, & the above examples of why we have them from the Virginia high schools & college law & medical schools, are indicative of the destructive path we are on.

A path where we worry about transgender bathrooms but not sanctuary cities; where thugs are honored as heroes while policemen or citizens who bring them to justice are vilified - Officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri & citizen Jose Alba defending himself in a NYC bodega by stabbing ex-con Austin Simon who attacked Alba over a bag of chips Simon's girlfriend had not been able to pay for with her defunct benefits card; & where illegal immigrants can commit murder after being deported six times but still gain sanctuary in major cities - Kate Steinle dying in her father's arms after being shot in San Francisco.

We continue to worry after AOC told us the world will end in 2030 due to climate change if we don't adopt impractical, expensive, & cost ineffective measures of the Green New Deal but aren't concerned @ all that the Medicare Part A Hospital Trust Fund will run out of money by 2028 & that the Social Security Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2032. 

We allow trained Marxists to infiltrate our schools @ every level from kindergarten through graduate school to undermine & overturn our country by teaching radical political ideology that emphasizes Critical Race Theory & the malicious deliberate historical errors, misstatements, & falsehoods of the 1619 Project & Black Lives Matter - all of which sees literally everything through the lens of race so that young children come to regard their parents as racists who are beyond redemption. 

The forces against America have never been greater.

The only good part is that we have it within our power to change it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

The Changing Electorate Challenge For The GOP

The electoral seesaw of the United States from one party to the other can clearly be seen by looking @ the presidential election results from 1968 through 2004:

1.  After LBJ's Vietnam war effort was in the news every night & MLK & RFK were assassinated the country was ready for a change in 1968.  Nixon defeated Humphrey & Wallace 301 to 191 to 46 electoral votes.

2.  Nixon was reelected in 1972 defeating McGovern 520 to 17 electoral votes while receiving over 17 million more popular votes.  Agnew resigned & Nixon resigned facing certain conviction in an impeachment Senate trial.  Ford moved from VP (Agnew replacement) to President.  Ford pardoned Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while in office.  This set up another change.

3.  Carter defeated Ford 297 to 240 electoral votes in 1976 while receiving over a million & a half more popular votes.  The slow Ford economy deteriorated further under Carter & there was an Arab oil embargo in 1979 & an Iran hostage crisis that set the stage for a change to Reagan.

4.  Reagan defeated Carter 489 to 49 electoral votes in 1980 while receiving over 8 million more popular votes than Carter.  Independent Anderson received over 5.7 million popular votes & Libertarian Clark received almost 1 million popular votes - neither received any electoral votes.

5.  Reagan won reelection in 1984 over Mondale 525 to 13 electoral votes while receiving over 16 million more popular votes.  

6.  Reagan's popularity continued in 1988 as his VP Bush defeated Dukakis 426 to 111 electoral votes while receiving over 7 million more popular votes.  After Bush's one term & his read my lips broken promise the electorate decided it was time for a change.

7.  In 1992 Bill Clinton defeated Bush 370 to 168 electoral votes while receiving almost 6 million more popular votes.  Ross Perot received over 19 million popular votes but no electoral votes.

8.  Clinton benefited from a strong economy in 1996, that many credited House Speaker Newt Gingrich for, & won a strong reelection bid over Dole 379 electoral votes to 159 while increasing his popular vote margin to over 8 million votes.  Perot received over 11.5 million fewer popular votes than in 1992 & again no electoral votes.  Clinton was impeached for lying under oath (denied having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky) & obstruction of justice.  Presidential ethics was a major issue of the day.

9.  The election of 2000 could not have been closer with GW Bush defeating Gore 271 electoral votes to 266 while Gore received over half a million more popular votes than Bush.  Nader received almost 3 million popular votes but no electoral votes.

10.  Although the outcome of Ohio was questioned by Democrats (they dropped the issue after one day), Bush won reelection in 2004 by a vote count of 286 electoral votes to 251 for Kerry while receiving over 3 million more popular votes than Kerry. 

Anyone who is not a rabid Republican or Democrat voter could look @ the above list of quadrennial presidential election results & with an open mind, objectively see what caused the power swings from one party to the other over these ten presidential elections.

But by the time the 2008 election came about it was obvious that the nation was deeply polarized.  Starting with Robert Bork's rejection (42 to 58) by the U.S. Senate to the position of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1987 (not mentioned in the list above), to Bill Clinton's impeachment, to GW Bush winning the presidency via a Supreme Court vote while losing the popular vote by over half a million votes something was different in America.  (Note, I did not put Nixon's removal from office on this "something was different" list because people from both political parties knew Nixon's removal was justified especially after Goldwater told Nixon he was out.  Actually, it was the epitome of a properly working political process as opposed to the polarization that happened in 2008.) 

In fact we had a taste of what was to come before Clinton's impeachment in 1998 - a Martian who just landed on Earth in 1996 & saw the resumes of Bob Dole & Bill Clinton would never have correctly guessed the winner of the election. 

BO promised to fundamentally change America & comfortably won two terms.  During those eight years RTE documented the reasons why I felt that BO was the first president who was not working in America's interest.  Carter had his problems but I never felt that he was deliberately trying to wreck America the way I felt BO did.

In 2016 the Democrats ran the one candidate in Hilary Clinton that Trump could surprise - "I surprised them" (his words).  But by 2020 thanks to the cover of Covid, Trump's narcissism that turned off more people than his policies attracted, & the hostile anti-American media Joe Biden was elected president to the dismay of the country.  Never has a president, including BO, worked more blatantly & deliberately against America than Biden.

Now for the first 143 years of this constitutional republic America did not fall prey to voting for candidates who promised the most benefits from the public treasury - instead we had leaders in both elected branches who followed the limitations of the Constitution. In 1930 federal government spending was 2.7% of GDP. By 2012 it was 24% & the Cato Institute had identified 126 federal welfare programs - this all flowed out of FDR's progressive government agenda. See graphic below & notice that from 1900 to 1916 the blue & brown lines coincide meaning the budget was balanced.

From the founding to the Civil War America was in the liberty to abundance stage of our history.  From the Civil War to FDR's New Deal we were in the abundance to complacency stage as liberty started to be taken for granted as it was being replaced by security.  And from the 1930s to the present, right in front of our eyes we have drifted through the complacency to apathy stage & into the apathy to dependence stage teetering on going back into bondage.

These stages combined form the Death Of Democracy.

I have documented that Millennials & GenZers have their own interests & they are different from those of past generations.  America's youth has been college educated by progressive professors who were part of the main socialist-communist movement of the last 50 years that continues today.

These young people are interested in racial equality, healthcare, global warming/climate change, & student loan forgiveness.  It is only because America is so wealthy (their parents that is) that today's youth can focus on such things as opposed to making a career & starting a family. 

A poll conducted in March by the WSJ/NORC @ the University of Chicago received quite a bit of media coverage over the past month because the results of the poll - some of which are given in the graphic @ the top - are so dramatic that they are alarming.  Readers of this blog should not have been surprised.

The poll found that the importance of patriotism in America had fallen off to 38% - I am surprised it is that high considering all the indoctrination in schools & in the media where America is always portrayed as a bad place of racists.

Religion had fallen off in importance to 39% which again is not surprising since much of America today considers government to be their religion, which quite simply cannot lead to a fulfilling satisfying life.

Community involvement has fallen off in importance to 27% - why get involved when there is the socialist lure of free healthcare, high minimum-living wage paying jobs, & the general understanding that there will always be a government program to depend on for every eventuality Millennials or GenZers come across in life with of course the unspoken (& really never thought of) law that they will always have the freedoms they currently enjoy & mistakenly believe can be taken for granted.

The poll found that the importance of money increased but then only to 43% which agrees with another part of the poll that found that less than 2 out of 3 people aged 18 to 29 think hard work is important to them personally.

None of the above information favors Republicans' near term electoral chances.  The GOP would be wise to not concentrate on Trump's legal problems which will only get worse when we hear from Fani Willis (DA - Fulton County Georgia) & Jack Smith (Special Counsel - Trump retention of classified documents & parts of the January 6 Capitol riot).  

The presidency can only be won by receiving a majority of electoral votes in the electoral college & that should be the entire focus of everyone who thinks Biden & the Democrats are purposely working against American interests.  Republicans should concentrate on having a staff of community organizers in about ten swing states, starting right now, to have any chance of winning the presidential election & keeping control of the House in November, 2024.  This step would bring Republicans to the level Democrats never abandon regarding community organization election efforts.

Two recent elections that the GOP lost contain valuable lessons for Republicans in this regard.  

On February 28 Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ran for reelection.  Lightfoot is a radical progressive who shut down the city for more than a year during Covid, bankrupted small businesses, allowed rioters to burn down whole neighborhoods, presided over the worse crime wave in 50 years, & let the schools go to hell (in two dozen inter-city schools there is literally not one child that can read or write @ proficiency level) - source Chicago native Steve Moore.

Lightfoot finished third & was eliminated from the runoff election on April 4 that was necessitated because no candidate received over 50% of the vote on February 28..

Paul Vallas, a moderate Democrat, received the most votes on February 28 after campaigning on fighting crime & improving education in the city.  Many conservative writers like one of my personal favorites, Dan Henninger, thought that Chicago had seen enough in Lightfoot's destructive progressive ways & had come to their senses ready to elect Vallas.

The problem was that the second place finisher on February 28, Brandon Johnson, was a Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) favorite who was even to the left of Lightfoot (i.e., more progressive) & he won the runoff 51.4% to 48.6% (287,551 votes to 271,443 votes).  Turnout was 33.2% meaning 17.1% of eligible voters elected the new Chicago Mayor.    

Johnson strongly opposed education reform including charter schools & had been critical of the police - in 2020 calling defunding the police "an actual, real political goal," but later said he would add 200 detectives & focus on addressing the root cause of crime.  Vallas supported education reform & had campaigned on adding 1,000 police officers on the streets & planned to restore morale in the department.  Vallas was backed by the police & firefighters unions & the business community while Johnson was backed by the CTU & other public sector unions.  Vallas is white & Johnson is black.  Interviews with many black voters indicated they were for fighting crime but voted for Johnson.  Putting these interviews into perspective on the national level - this mindset is how Biden could get reelected president in 2024.

In a preview of Johnson's progressivism - over the weekend of April 15-16 hundreds of teenagers, organized via social media, rampaged the city vandalizing & burning cars (including a $120,000 Tesla) before the overmatched police force could break up the mayhem - two boys 16 & 17 were shot & taken to the hospital.  Lightfoot condemned the incident while Johnson took the side of the rioters not wanting to "demonize youth who have been starved of opportunity."

So the CTU is satisfied & the 67% of eligible voters who didn't vote can't blame anyone except themselves if they feel unsafe opening their front doors or leaving their cars parked on the street.  National Democrats are also satisfied - they awarded the 2024 Democrat National Convention site to Chicago.

Chicago is a town that has given up on itself.  Two thirds of the city's electorate is too disinterested to want to have a say in choosing their leaders.  A substantial portion of those who did vote are unionized meaning they make a decent living but in a town where one mistake in judgement regarding how safe a neighborhood is could result in being shot.  The rest move.

The last Republican, or member of any party except Democrat, to serve as Mayor of Chicago was in 1931 meaning the rot & stagnation of one party rule is intransigent.  

If the trouble in Chicago had been handled by the voters with a change in leadership like the presidential elections I listed hereinbefore from 1968 through 2004 a Republican would have been elected like Rudy Giuliani was in NYC in the 1990s - a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 4 to 1.

The other disheartening election that took place earlier this month was in the suspiciously called swing state of Wisconsin in a technically nonpartisan race - a state Supreme Court race in which a conservative judge was vacating his seat (retirement) thereby putting the one-vote conservative majority of the court in jeopardy of becoming a one-vote Democrat majority.  

Democrat Janet Protasiewicz, a Milwaukee County judge, campaigned on striking down the state's anti-abortion law that had been enacted in 1849, & supported a referendum to make it easier to increase or deny bail.  Democrats spent over $1 million in the primary to support (i.e., hand pick)  Protasiewicz's opponent in the general election, Daniel Kelly, who after being appointed in 2016 by then-Governor Scott Walker to fill a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat, lost an election in 2020 to retain the seat.  Kelly also had ties to Trump which Democrats love to run against, feeling he would be easier to beat in the general election than Wisconsin Circuit Court judge Jennifer Dorow - a primary election strategy trick being used more often by Democrats in the age of Trump.  Protasiewicz won a ten year term by 11 points in another election that shows the importance of abortion - Kelly was endorsed by Wisconsin's top three anti-abortion groups, while Protasiewicz was endorsed by abortion rights advocates like Hilary Clinton.

Protasiewicz ran on the full-throated radicalism of the Democrat party platform:  taxpayer-funded abortion on demand throughout all nine months of pregnancy (& even being left to die after birth in Governor Ralph KKK Northam's Virginia).   

Matt Elbert, writing in the WSJ, points out that in all six states where abortion was directly on the ballot since the SCOTUS Dobbs decision in 2022 voters either resoundingly rejected further restrictions or fully enshrined abortion into their constitutions - states including Kentucky, Kansas, & Montana.

These pro-abortion results have left frightened Republicans calling for the party to get their abortion position more in line with voters, but doesn't this mean changing their moral views to what they perceive to be winning electoral-political views?  How do you compromise your moral conviction, your feelings about right & wrong, with a negotiated political strategy to win elections?  There is no young couple in America today, who is buying a condom in a drug store, that doesn't know when a new life begins.

Many Republicans hurt themselves by not being able to articulate a clear position on abortion & yet when they do they can win.  Anti-abortion gubernatorial candidates like DeSantis won in Florida by 19 points, DeWine won in Ohio by 25 points, Kemp won in Georgia by 8 points, & Abbott won in Texas by 11 points.

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, running an exploratory program concerning running for president, has said in recent days "I am 100% pro life", then saying in another venue he would sign the recent Florida law that bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, & then in yet another venue says he would sign a bill banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.  So what kind of principle or position is it, to be compromised to be politically competitive, that protects the baby @ 6 weeks but permits its killing @ 5 weeks?  It's the same person.

Isn't it best to just say what you really believe?  

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Huckabee Welcomes Congressional Sponsor Of The FairTax Bill

Click here to watch & hear Mike Huckabee's interview with Georgia Congressman Buddy Carter, the congressional sponsor of H.R. 25 - FairTax Act Of 2023.  The show aired Saturday night on TBN.

Congressman Carter reviewed some of the history of the FairTax & said he was glad it was getting a second wind.  This is the second time Mike Huckabee has featured the FairTax on his show this year & subscribers have told me things like "Have seen more talk about it from other supporters.  Just might be the right time."

Of course it has been the right time for me to have a consumption tax for over 50 years - ever since Nixon brought it up.

Three other takeaways from the discussion:

1.  If you haven't looked @ your pay stub for a while please do so.  How many of the deductions would be eliminated with the enactment of the FairTax?  I add that if you have someone do your taxes for you @ least look at the completed return to understand what income tax bracket you are in.  We have fallen asleep just waiting for our refund (i.e., interest free loan to the government) to be received.

2.  The Washington Establishment does not like the FairTax because they lose control (i.e., anti-FairTax politicians thrive on people being dependent on government) - instead of our elected representatives deciding to increase taxes you decide when you pay taxes, & how much, based on your consumption above basic needs.

I used to present this point in my FairTax seminars by saying that since enactment of the FairTax does away with Congress's ability to raise revenue, other than by raising the FairTax rate which everyone will clearly see, Congress will effectively give up the power to tax, & will be relegated only to the authority to spend.  This in & of itself will help control spending & is the reason why both President Reagan & Professor Friedman believed that the best taxes were those that taxpayers could feel so they would be difficult to raise.

Just imagine the freedom this brings.  The FairTax is the biggest transfer of power from politicians to the people since the founding of this country.

3.  The FairTax Bill eliminates the IRS & the 87,000 new IRS agents that Congressman Carter points out are not being hired to make certain you receive your refund sooner.  Under the FairTax, if you buy something new you pay the FairTax & if you work, save, or invest you don't.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Letter Published In WSJ Responding To Karl Rove Column

In the March 30 print edition of his weekly WSJ column Karl Rove's subject was Put America First by Aiding Ukraine.  Rove listed several points that people who favor aiding Ukraine could support.  Rove also said that "sending military assistance to Ukraine is good for our economy to begin with" & added that "Washington is largely paying for American workers to make the weapons, bullets, missiles, & equipment we send."

Rove obviously feels that a war ever so often is necessary, or @ least a good idea, to keep an economy going rather than it being a drag on it as Bastiat taught.

Below is my letter to the WSJ that was published Monday in response to Rove's column.

Dear Editor:

In "Put America First by Aiding Ukraine" (op-ed, March 30), Karl Rove makes several good points, but writing that "sending military assistance to Ukraine is good for our economy" isn't one of them.  Spending on defense is still government spending, whether it is for America or for an ally like Ukraine. 

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Making The Most Of Our Slim Republican House Majority

With the special election victory in Virginia's Fourth CD on February 21 Democrat Jennifer McClellan fills the House vacancy caused by former Congressman Donald McEachin's death due to colorectal cancer last November after he won reelection.  This returns the House to the full 435 Members.

McClellan won her race over 3-time repeat losing candidate Leon Benjamin campaigning on racial justice, access to abortion, & climate change while Benjamin emphasized crime, parental rights in education, & energy independence.

McClellan is just the type of candidate that wins liberal districts 75% to 25% (81,304 votes to 28,040 votes) wanting to fight climate change rather than fight crime.  The race was called within a half hour of the polls closing.

I estimate the turnout to be about 22% meaning McClellan was vulnerable if Benjamin could have organized a surprisingly good ground game. Benjamin had received more votes than McClellan's 81,304 in both of his prior defeats to McEachin in 2020 (149,625) & 2022 (87,409). Statistics say a Benjamin victory was possible but human nature says highly improbable.

The balance in the House is now 222 Republican & 213 Democrat so Speaker Kevin McCarthy still has a very small majority to work with in trying to block Biden's progressive agenda let alone trying to establish a program to run on in the future.

But with all of this considered, McCarthy has done a better than expected job so far or @ least has not done anything yet to upset any of the twenty Republicans that he promised everything but the kitchen sink to in order to obtain their votes for Speaker.  McCarthy won the Speakership, 216 to 212 with six (Andy Biggs, Lauren Boebert, Eli Crane, Matt Gaetz, Bob Good, & Matt Rosendale) voting present that cleared the way for McCarthy on the 15th vote on the 5th day of the 118th Congress.

McCarthy has been consistent in saying to Biden that spending cuts must be part of any agreement that raises the debt ceiling - which will be needed by around the 4th of July.  And McCarthy recently toured the Arizona border in preparation of honoring one of his concessions to bring up legislation that would bolster border security & limit asylum. 

In response to some comments I had received from subscribers who were in low spirits from the prospect of a BO - Romney presidential race, on January 31, 2012 I posted four answers to "what is it we are looking for & certainly have not found in the leading presidential candidates that will ensure America's prosperity."  The real answer, then as it is now, is a candidate who will promote a change in mindset from a "you deserve, you're entitled to" mindset to one of (even limited) personal responsibility - not dependent or looking to government for everything they need.

My four solutions, then as they are now, - 1) a nominal dollar subsidized "premium support" system to replace the existing Medicare system, 2) replacement of the wage index with the Consumer Price Index in determining the initial monthly benefit when a person enrolls in Social Security, 3) capping federal spending @ 18% of GDP in Ken Blackwell's "cut, cap, & balance" program in which projected borrowing is cut in half the first year, & 4) replacement of the IRS & all federal taxes on individual & business income with the FairTax.

I am happy to say that all four topics are @ least getting some mention & without McCarthy & the Republicans slimly controlling one half of one third of the federal government this would not be so. 

Biden has said he will not negotiate any spending cuts when the debt ceiling is reached but what better time to talk about the deficit spending that brought about the $31.4 trillion national debt problem.  Why wait until the 11th hour three months from now with a government shut-down looming to see which political party is more out of step with the financial reality that hangs over the country?

Biden chided Republicans in the State of the Union speech, with a public parley with Republicans in the House chamber over Medicare & Social Security entitlements - Biden's position being Republicans want to cut both programs & Republicans' position being they want to save the programs from the cuts that are soon to be brought about by existing law.

For instance, through 2021 the Social Security annual statement, available to everyone online & mailed to people over 60 who do not have an online account, clearly stated in bold letters on page 2 the reductions in benefits to be expected under existing law when the accounting of the fictitious Trust Fund is completely spent down.  Starting on June 1, 2022 the Social Security administration redesigned the statement & hid the shortfall information with a link not prominently displayed.  See display from statement link that shows a 22% reduction in benefits is expected in 2034 under current law. 

Now it sounds like Biden is on your side saying he will not touch Social Security but how compassionate is it to the two thirds of seniors who depend on Social Security as their main source of income or the one in five seniors where it is the only source of income to just let the Trust Fund balance run out followed by a 22% cut in benefits?  Without Social Security half of all seniors would be living in poverty.

This same type of phenomenon has been playing out in France as French President Emmanuel Macron has been working, against resistance from many French lawmakers & millions of protesters, to gradually raise the legal retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030.   

Macron's proposal passed under an Article 49, paragraph 3 of the French Constitution maneuver that lets a bill pass without a vote of the National Assembly, but only after a deliberation of the Cabinet.  Lawmakers filed a no-confidence motion that needed 287 votes to override Macron's bill & fell only nine votes short of rejecting the bill & forcing Macron to resign under the terms of the French Constitution.  There is one additional step before the bill can be signed into law - the Constitutional Council's review to be sure the bill is constitutional.

Like the U.S., the French have a pay-as-you-go system & an aging population that is living longer with fewer active workers funding the current retirees' pension benefits.  This is the same terrible pension funding recipe as in the U.S. but with an even faster decline in active workers for the French. 

Taxes in France are already too high to raise them to fund even greater pension benefits without hurting the economy in other ways.  The French pension fund is on schedule to run a deficit this year & increasing into the indefinite future because the benefits are very high (compared to the U.S. & other countries).  See following graphic that shows the net pension replacement rates for government programs in leading countries.

But also like in the U.S., where people ignore or are oblivious to the Social Security shortfall problem & our irresponsible politicians do nothing to help, the French unions are protesting Macron's minimalist proposal loudly with strikes like the recent garbage collection strike where tons of garbage have piled up on Paris sidewalks & streets.

No matter how clear the evidence is that the American & French retirement programs are destined for failure in the not too distant future, the general populations & all but a very small handful of elected politicians in both countries, are content to let the game of musical chairs continue hoping that they will be out of office when the music stops thereby letting someone else take care of the inevitable.  

France spends about twice as much money on pensions as the U.S. does on Social Security (14.5% of GDP versus 7.5%), so the French really can only redress their program through restrictions & reductions.  If the U.S. does not follow suit now we will one day be in the same predicament as the French currently are - a sluggish socialist country.  The biggest French proponents of not taking the baby step of raising the retirement age two years is a coalition of French socialists, communists, & greens.

The actuarial problem with Social Security & the French pension plan is that they were designed as defined benefit programs not defined contribution programs.  To be on sound footing the benefits should have been based on what the beneficiary paid into the system rather than determined by a formula for drawing out benefits from the current income of younger people who have little prospect of having the favor returned when they are in their senior years.

On March 9, with the above as backdrop, Biden released his 2024 Fiscal Year Budget Proposal.  Biden knows the budget proposal has no chance of passing the Republican House - it is more an expression of how he will campaign for the presidency in 2024 & even more importantly how he will govern if he wins reelection & has a Democrat Congress sans Manchin & Sinema, both up for reelection in 2024.

Of course Biden's 176 page budget proposal never once mentions the word liberty & has only one reference to freedom & that pertains to the Middle East with the U.S. providing $259 million for assistance to Palestinians.  It tremendously expands government & covers the added expenses by raising taxes on corporations & successful people with high incomes.  

Most egregious is an unconstitutional 25% tax on wealth of unsold appreciated assets supposedly applied only to the top 0.01% of income earners, an effective doubling of the capital gains tax rate from 20% to 39.6%, a raise of the corporate income tax rate from 21% to 28%, & a surcharge to 5% on the existing ObamaCare 3.8% Medicare surcharge (i.e. a surcharge on a surcharge) on top of a marginal tax rate increase that brings the highest federal marginal tax rate to 44.6% from the current 37% rate.  There is also a quadrupling of the tax on corporate stock buybacks & a doubling of the tax rate of U.S. companies' foreign profits.

And naturally, even with all of these tax increases the additional revenue still is not enough to satisfy the Marxist Socialist Biden & the Democrats because the associated federal government spending is so great that trillion dollar deficits continue as far as the eye can see & the national debt increases with no intention to bring it down including later this summer when the debt ceiling will need to be raised.

Now the U.S. has run annual deficits for most of its history.   Alexander Hamilton started a program of paying down the debt due to the Revolutionary War - $75,463,475.52 as of January 1, 1791.  

In his last State of the Union address, in January, 1825 President James Monroe, our best president, itemized the government's major expenditures that year in accordance with the Constitution & explained that the continuance of his plan to extinguish the national debt by selling federally owned western lands & blocking unconstitutional spending on such things as infrastructure projects would result in "the last portion of the public debt .  . . be(ing) redeemable on January 1, 1835."  President Monroe's successors John Quincy Adams & Andrew Jackson followed this plan & in January,  1835 the entire national debt was paid off - the only time in the country's history that has been accomplished.

From the text of the budget Biden says that the budget proposal "protects & strengthens Social Security & Medicare . . . so (millions of seniors) can retire with dignity" & "can access the benefits they have earned."  

But Biden doesn't explain how charging the exorbitant tax increases listed above that finances & "extends the Medicare Trust Fund by @ least 25 years" brings about this dignity & earned benefits.  In fact, his statement & reasoning shows that Medicare is an entitlement not an earned benefit that people have paid for - otherwise why does it need an infusion of money from high earners to redistribute to other Medicare beneficiaries.

It also shows how financially impractical the idea of Medicare for All is including lowering the eligibility age to 60.

When GW Bush took office the national debt was $5.66 trillion.  The national debt increased 89% under Bush to $10.70 T.  It increased 87% more under BO to $19.98 T & another 39% under Trump to $27.75 T.  During Biden's first two years in office the national debt had increased an additional 13% to 31.42 T.  Don't let the percentages fool you - Trump presided over the largest deficit spending of $7.77 T in any four years & if you add Biden's first two year actual figures to his projected deficits shown on page 135 of the Biden budget proposal, as indicated in the table below, the Biden deficit per year average for four years is $1.78 T just below the Trump record of $1.94 T.

Growth Of National Debt
YearsPresidentNational Debt - $ TDeficit Spending - $ T% GrowthDeficit Per Year - $ T
1789 - 20011 through 425.665.66Base0.03
2001 - 2009GW Bush10.705.04890.63
2009 - 2017BO19.989.28871.16
2017 - 2021Trump27.757.77391.94
2021 - 2023Biden Actual31.423.67131.84
2021 - 2025Biden Projected34.877.12261.78
Biden Actual 2021 & 2022 actual deficit spending per Fed
Biden Projected = Biden Actual + .75(1.569) + 1.846 + .25(1.671) Trillions From P135 of Biden Budget

In summary, the national debt will be 6.16 times larger by the end of the first four year term of the fourth president of the 21st century than it was in the first 212 years of our constitutional republic.   

The Biden budget calls for an anemic 0.6% real GDP growth in calendar year 2023 & an average puny annual real rate of 2.0% thereafter through 2033.  Every one of these years has a deficit larger than $1.5 trillion bringing the "debt issued by the Treasury" category on page 168 to over 50 trillion dollars meaning Biden does not forecast prosperity returning any time soon.

Contrast this with the Republican House Freedom Caucus looking to cap nondefense discretionary spending @ FY 2022 levels for the next decade, rescind the $80 billion approved for the expansion of the IRS with 80,000 new agents, & halt Biden's plan to forgive student debt that is now being decided by the Supreme Court.

The Biden budget plan is an insult to what America used to be.  It is an attack on prosperity, freedom, business, & successful people.

This is why Speaker McCarthy & his very slim Republican House majority are our best chance of holding the line until America gets another chance in 2024.