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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

If I Ever Ran for Congress

I was thinking of everything I wish our representatives in Congress would get done, and I came up with a list of things I think anyone could have as an agenda that would make for a winning campaign.

1. The pay of Congress is linked to the average pay for a forty hour work week. The Congressional Budget Office already keeps track of things like this, so it won't take any extra money to find out the average salary for a normal, forty hour week. By linking how much Congress gets paid to how much the American worker is paid, we make Congress more accountable.

2. The borders need a wall, not a fence. If we can build thousands of miles of twenty foot sound barriers along our freeways, we can afford and build a border wall. Contract it out to private businesses, who will place bids for the wall, as designed by the Army Corps of Engineers. It shouldn't take more than a year.

3. I propose a Fair Trade Bill. On a quarterly basis, we determine what the tariffs are on our products in the countries we trade with. We then impose the exact same tariffs on them. If they eliminate their tariffs, so do we. If they raise them, we do too. This would create a level playing field in the realm of international commerce. Currently, we have few if any tariffs, and everyone else taxes our goods to the point that they're unaffordable. All income from these taxes should go to paying down the national debt. Considering the tariffs coming from Japan and China alone, we might well pay the whole thing off before they engage in free trade with us! Hopefully, however, the end result of the policy will be to lower barriers to our goods overseas, restoring jobs and productivity to the U.S. economy.

4. Filibusters should be banned. They are a tool for the imposition of the will of the minority and an obstacle to democracy. Every presidential appointment should go directly to the Senate floor. I don't read in the Constitution that the Senate has the right to withhold its advice and consent. After thirty days, the lack of a floor vote in the Senate should be considered a de facto confirmation, much like an unsigned bill does for the president.

5. The Congress needs to pass a law specifically eliminating Supreme Court interference in its laws. This is already in the Constitution, but it needs to be specifically addressed by Congress itself. Congress has the authority to determine the limits of the Supreme Court's jurisdiction.

6. Any military action by the United States, from now on, should only occur with a formal declaration of war. Then, the Alien and Sedition Act applies, and we will have a far greater amount of unity. Sedition, willingly giving aid and comfort to the enemy, should be punishable by a long prison sentence.

7. I am in favor of replacing the income tax with a national sales tax. Yes, this would require an amendment to the Constitution, but it is absolutely necessary. A national sales tax would exempt purchases of food and medicine, medical care, education, and rental housing. While liberals would whine, it would actually be a very progressive taxation system. With food, medicine, and rent exempted, the poor would have few if any taxes to pay. The rich, whose consumption includes a far greater percentage of luxury goods, would pay a greater percentage of their income. Because the current loopholes would be closed, the rich would actually have to pay the taxes instead of worming their way out. (I've always thought that those who think we don't pay enough taxes should be required to fill out the 1040-EZ every year.)

8. We need an energy policy that includes Alaskan and offshore drilling, with the contingency that all of that oil be sold only within the United States. There should be a tax break for solar panels (in a sales tax scenario, no tax) installed at your home or business. All barriers to the building of refineries should be removed; only the EPA should have the right to bring up charges/lawsuits against companies proposing to build refineries and oil drilling operations. Awards should be given (much like the X-Prize) to individuals/teams that find workable new ways of producing and/or saving energy. A policy that balances conventional and alternative technologies is best.

9. The U.S. Border Patrol should become a branch of the military as opposed to a mere law enforcement agency. It should have the right to return fire even when that fire originates from across the border. Drug cartels should not get away with attacks on American forces.

With this agenda, I think we'd be well on our way to fixing the country. If I ever ran for office, this would be my platform.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Obama: An Economic Illiterate

Obama recently gave a speech outlining his plans to stimulate our economy. He planned to raise taxes on oil companies, eliminate the Bush tax cuts, and have the government take over the health care industry. At the same time, he is against controls on immigration and for Kyoto-style limits on industry.

How on earth will this stimulate the economy?

Obama has finally revealed himself for the idiot he truly is. His so-called stimulus plan will, in fact, kill the economy. I think the man was asleep during Economics 101. Raising taxes on oil companies will raise the price of gasoline. The companies will have to do that to maintain their profit margin. Who pays that tax, in the end? You and I do, which means that we will be able to spend even less on other things.

At the same time, he wants to roll back the Bush tax cuts. This means the largest tax increase in history, a stick-it-to-the-rich move that will affect wealthy individuals and, of course, corporations. How will corporations respond? Leaving. There goes your tax base. As corporations leave, so do jobs. Unemployment rises. More people file for welfare. They become government dependents. Wait... Do I see a pattern in all of this?

The health care industry comprises a huge portion of our economy. It is productive, profitable, and efficient, if expensive. Much of the expense comes from government interference which limits the number of licensed medical schools, keeping the price of a doctor visit artificially high. Obama proposes to socialize health care, having the government take over a now-profitable segment of the economy. I'm sure he's planning on making it just as successful as other government businesses, like the post office. There are idiots out there, even in the tax-paying middle class, who see this as a freebie. I'm sure Obama does, as well. Where does the government get its revenue? Taxes. Who pays them? We do. Is the government likely to be more efficient than private industry? History says no. So we'll have to pay even more for health care, through taxes. I tell you, this man is a genius.

Ah, but maybe we can force wages up. After all, if the average working man is earning more money, high taxes won't be as important, will they? I know, let's allow people to flood the labor market from other countries. After all, the more workers there are per available job, the more they get paid, right? Right? Um, why do I hear crickets chirping?

Last but not least, let's put onerous environmental regulations on the few industries we have left. What the heck; we've killed the rest of the economy by now, anyway. If they can't afford to retrofit their factories, shut them down. Or, make them buy carbon credits from factories in other countries that produce nothing, but might pollute if not paid off. That sounds a lot like extortion to me. If an Italian does it, it's a crime. If Al Gore does it, he gates a Nobel Prize. Obama wants to paralyze the economy, not stimulate it.

The real danger is if Obama gets elected with a strong Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. Then, this type of lunacy might actually become public policy. The path to Hell... well, you get it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Southern Indiana vs. New Orleans: A Difference in Attitude

I spent last Saturday helping flood victims in southern Indiana. I got a call from a church leader, and gathered at 5 a.m. to carpool down to Franklin for the effort. What I saw both depressed and impressed me. The resiliency of the people affected is truly amazing.

I spent most of the day doing cleanup; that is, I helped clear out destroyed possesions and other assorted debris from people's homes. There were a few tears, but for the most part, people were looking forward. One family, with two children and a baby on the way, had lost everything. We gutted the house, removing sheet rock, the ceilings, anything that had touched water, which was basically the whole house down to the studs.

During the effort, the homeowners told us their story. They were renting to own from the previous owner. They had just put in $12,000 in materials and countless hours of work to make the home livable, as it had been a definite fixer-upper when they had purchased it. The man of the house had been working eighty-plus hours a week to earn enough money to renovate the house, but it was their first home, and they were proud of it. He had been about to landscape the yard when the flood hit.

I never heard any complaints about the government. Nobody blamed the president. Gratitude was constantly expressed for taking the time to help. Family came over to help recover what few possessions were left over and to begin the process of taking the home apart in order to rebuild. Brothers, sisters, and parents were all there. There were teary eyes all around, but there was also laughter and levity. By late afternoon, nearly the entire house had been gutted. A few truckloads of salvageable items had been carted off to a storage facility. Plans were being made for reconstruction.

The same scenario was playing itself out all over. Families were tearing down walls and making huge piles of ruined possessions on the street in front of their homes. All of the furniture had been ruined. There was almost nothing left undamaged; the flood had been so quick that people had to leave everything behind. Worse yet, those few who had purchased flood insurance soon found that it covered only structural damage, not the contents of the home.

Yet there was no complaining to be heard. Nobody expected Uncle Sam to ride in on his white horse and save the day. Because of this, and the self-reliance I witnessed all around me, I expect that Edinburg and Franklin will be reconstructed long before New Orleans. People will have done the job themselves.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"The Use of Reason 2": on Townhall

Just for your info, I have another Use of Reason blog I began on Townhall.com. The posts are all unique-- no repeats. It just gives me a more specific forum to address political issues. This will still be my main site, but I'm hoping that the Townhall blog will attract readers.

To see what's been posted there, click here: The Use of Reason 2

I also link to The Diary of Osama bin Laden, a very funny little blog.

Enjoy!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Whatever Happened to "Small Government Republicans"?

Ah, the sweet, sweet Clinton years. I yearn for them even now. Don't get me wrong-- I despised Clinton himself. However, Republicanism hit its zenith in that era. Newt Gingrich was himself back then. None of this global warming nonsense he's spouting now, he was all about minimizing the size and scope of the federal behemoth. The Dittohead Caucus (remember those guys?) started fulfilling its historic Contract with America, a list of promises designed to trim the fat from Uncle Sam's waistline. Once in office, they actually did most of it, an amazing thing if you stop to think about it. Most politicians get into office, then whine about how it was just too hard to enact any of their promises.

Over the next decade, however, the gains, which came to include even the Senate, began to wane. Republicans were uncomfortable wielding the reins of power. When Democrats complained, they actually let this impede legislation. What a bunch of nincompoops! When have Democrats ever allowed Republican complaints count for anything? Then came the issue of the filibuster. It seems to me that it should only take a majority of the Senate to pass something. That's what the Constitution says about it, anyway. The filibuster is just a way for the minority to stymie any attempt at meaningful change. If the change is seen as too drastic (translated: significant), the filibuster is used as a roadblock. The Republicans should have taken that weapon away years ago. They seldom use it themselves. Yet they allowed the Democrats to impede everything from nominations to important bills.

As a result of getting nothing in return for having voted Republican, the nation voted Democrat, and in 2006, the walls came crashing down. Did the Republican party learn anything from this? No, they elected John McCain, the same boob who brokered the deal keeping filibusters on the table, as their presidential nominee, the same John McCain who represents everything the Republicans in the Senate did to lose big in 2006. The Republicans in office (as opposed to those of us in the real world) began to talk about having an image problem, about improperly marketing themselves. Frankly, I agree with them on this one. The problem is that they marketed themselves as Republicans, when, by their actions, we can clearly see that they're really asses in elephants' clothing.

Being a Republican needs to stand for something. It needs to stand for faith in the ability and judgment of the common man. It needs to stand for a culture in which the value of innocent life is appreciated. It needs to stand for a patriotism that isn't afraid to call itself nationalism. (A man who calls himself a patriot but not a nationalist is neither; he is a liar.)

Being a Republican needs to stand for a disdain for government handouts of all kinds, and a yearning for fiscal discipline. Being a Republican needs to stand for not being afraid of censoring what needs to be censored, Hollywood and the pervert crowd be damned! Being a Republican should stand for secure borders (meaning an actual wall, not just a "fence") and tough, rigid immigration enforcement. If your visa is expired, you're gone. Period.

If Republicanism really pushed this agenda, really made a wholehearted attempt to enact it, it would be alive and healthy today. It's current state of malaise is a testament to the fact that it has ignored its mandate. When we elect Republicans, we expect them to be tough and miserly. What we got was a bunch of spendthrift wusses. Damn straight we were disappointed!

Hopefully, if enough of the old guard lose their posts, we'll be able to replace them with fresh new soldiers, loyal to their mission. Some fresh blood is sorely needed to reinvigorate the party. The tired old men have simply lost the will to fight. Since they couldn't beat them, they became them.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Soros "Bubble"

According to George Soros, the price of oil is in bubble mode; that is, much like the over-inflation of home values a few years ago, the price of a barrel of oil is in for a correction soon. We can only hope so! This news puts me in the nefarious position of agreeing with George Soros on an issue, something I've always tried to avoid. Oh well, a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Oil prices cannot stay this high because the price affects demand. In Fort Wayne, Indiana, where I live, scooters and mopeds are selling like hot cakes. SUVs can be seen strewn about the side of the road everywhere with "For Sale" signs on them. People are downsizing their automobiles, which is bound to reduce demand. Therefore, supply will increase, and prices will fall.

This does not negate the need for drilling and exploitation of our own internal resources. Every barrel of oil we buy from the Middle East represents a few dollars making it into the hands of those who want us dead. We want there to be a definitive choice for our enemies: food or bombs.

The Saudi sheiks pay the terrorists to keep them off their backs. This is a well known fact. Certainly none of this is done above board; they pay Islamic "advocacy groups", who in turn pay other groups, who, somewhere down the line, donate money to the bad guys. The same is true of most governments in the Middle East. Most of these people don't wish us any personal harm; we're their best customers, after all. They do it because, if they don't, they will be attacked themselves. Still, the net result is the same. The only way to stop the shell game is to stop buying from other countries.

We have plenty of oil, oil shale, and other resources. I love the algae-ethanol idea. Anything that can and will reduce the price of gasoline is a good idea in my book. We need a multi-tiered approach. The environmentals want a green-only approach. The corporate puppets want an oil-exclusive method. Both approaches must be used simultaneously if we are to fix the problem. We need government funding of the algae-ethanol technology, and drilling in Alaska, off the coasts, and inside the mainland United States, with the provision that none of the oil is exported. We need to double our refining capacity within the next ten years. Oil is the basis of the modern economy, like it or not. We need it to be cheap and plentiful if we are to prosper.

If we began to take the steps toward true and lasting energy independence, the oil bubble would burst. Will we? I can only hope. Unfortunately, I have some real doubts about the chiropractic health of our politicians.