Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Taxing Corporations Largely Equals Taxing Ourselves

(this is a slightly edited copy of a second recent BLOG comment I made in response to someone at Bilerico.com, a web site that primarily geared towards the LGBT community that was started in Indianapolis. Bil Browning, the founder, and I probably don't agree on lots of things politically, but he is a good guy and has had great success with his site which covers an eclectic range of topics.)

Before I start, it is important that everyone set aside their political bias and the rhetoric that gets thrown about as the two incumbent parties attempt to plunder on behalf of their own constituencies. Let's just logically look at things.

The United States has the 2nd highest corporate tax rate in the developed world (Japan's is higher). When we think about taxes being a "price" that is paid for government services, setting aside whether or not government SHOULD be doing everything it does, if the price moves beyond a certain threshold (overcoming the frictional barriers of moving) then those activities will be conducted in a place where the price is lower. While people will be quick to demonize this behavior, everybody benefits from lower prices which means they can expend dollars on other economic activity that they might otherwise not.

Also, we must consider where the taxes paid by corporations come from and what they do with their profits. The price of each item we buy contains a portion of the taxes that corporation will pay. When we talk about increasing taxes on corporations we are saying increase the cost of the things we buy OR decrease their profits (many don't have profits [GM, FORD, Chrysler, most airlines it seems .. why can't our own companies make any money in America? Another long discussion to have.])

Leftover profits, if the company is public, go to their shareholders or to grow the business. For most publicly traded companies those shareholders include institutional holders like mutual funds, pension plans and other retirement vehicles. So, when these companies make money and they distribute dividends, A LOT of those dividends end up in people's retirement accounts (including police and school teacher pension funds). The value of those holdings also rises and falls based on earnings.

The next fact we must examine is that the total value of our government debt (current and future existing obligations) now surpasses (a) the value of EVERYTHING our country owns and (b) the earnings ALL OF US will make for the next 8 to 10 years. You can jack tax rates all you want, our elected officials have already bankrupted us and will now attempt to "inflate" their way out of the mess. Inflation of course hurts the poor the most as those at the top of the food chain get the benefit of the inflation (increase in the money supply without a commensurate increase in wealth or production) before the economy adjusts price levels upward to compensate for the devalued currency.

Besides, "The latest data from the Internal Revenue Service show that more than half of all federal individual income taxes—50.8 percent—are paid by the five percent of taxpayers who earn the most." (Tax Foundation)

Considering that infrastructure is not a very big tax item, these people (arguably) utilize the big budget line items of government the least which means we are basically transferring (plundering) from one group to another and we must remind ourselves that the Law is primarily purposed with avoiding plunder (Bastiat), not being a tool for such purpose as it largely is today.

I would argue that without the tax reductions of JFK and Reagan we might not have made it as far as we have. Unfortunately, under Reagan the necessary reduction in government bloat and expense didn't occur and our deficit exploded and has continued to (especially when intellectually honest and removing any current Social Security surplus from the numbers that politicians like to spin).

It is important that people not just parrot the rhetoric of the political class. Keep in mind that most of them are just parroting and haven't really thought for themselves.

Houses of Cards, Bailouts and $53 Trillion Amongst Friends

(below is the first of two comments I made on another BLOG regarding the status of our economy)

Ever since the creation of the Federal Reserve, a private central banking system, our economy has been entirely based on a house of cards.

Our government, regardless of the party in power, has refused to acknowledge that our IOU based economy can't go on forever. Artificial manipulation of interest rates, inflation of the money supply, massive deficit spending (by both parties but Bush has been particularly bad) and manipulation of people and businesses via tax policy (taxing savings, investment and production instead of consumption) have created the mess we're in, but this is really just a continuation of the stock market bubble. The bubble was just moved from the stock market to real estate.

Then the government makes things worse by mandating that banks not use as much discretion against people who are less likely to pay (Community Reinvestment Act 1977, 1995) and via Government Sponsored Entities (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) who, because of their state sponsored status, were able to grow well beyond what a true free market competitive system would have allowed (the risk they held would have been spread amongst hundreds or more companies with varying levels of risk tolerance).

"Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 required Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government sponsored enterprises that purchase and securitize mortgages, to devote a percentage of their lending to support affordable housing."

We've proven over the past 100 years that Keynesian Economics doesn't work (Krugman is basically a Keynesian) and that the Austrians were probably correct. If anyone is really interested in this but doesn't want to get bored to tears by it, pick up a copy of Economics in One Lesson and Road to Serfdom. Especially important since schools have mostly taught Keynesianism and the "echo chamber" effect is so great.

Think about this. The total value of bail out money and loan guarantees is now over $46,000 per U.S. Household. $46,000?!! China now holds 10% of our country's debt obligations (they just surpassed Japan). This is nuts but shows how much of our supposed prosperity of the past 30 years was borrowed.

And the real debt number right is over $53 trillion. Google "IOUSA" or look for the 30-minute bit on YouTube to learn just how screwed we all are.

Regards to all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Great Series About The Constitution of These United States

A friend of mine on Facebook posted a link to installment one of Michael Badnarik's class on the Constitution of These (not "The") United States of America. Michael is a former Libertarian candidate for President and is a long-time student of the Constitution. After watching the first one I had to watch the others as these are excellent and kind of fun to watch.

I know you're expecting the Libertarian guy to be some anti-religion Atheist or something, despite the fact that is kind of like saying all Republicans want to amend the Constitution with the Bible or all Democrats are jealous of and hate rich people, but he correctly points out that there is no "separation of Church and State" in the Constitution, merely the protection of the free exercise of religion and that the Second Amendment had nothing to do with the national guard (not created until the early 1900s) but the right of "the people" [I think that's in Installment 5]. He reminds us that the Constitution and The Bill of Rights do not grant us our rights, which are unalienable, but instead is just a reminder of what exists naturally and restricts government from overextending it's authority in violation of those rights.

He explores a few areas that I had never really considered and so I'm listing links to each of the installments here:

Installment 1: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8577731528746978991

Installment 2: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1338165539518441611

Installment 3: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1188997773661725985

Installment 4: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5743392260531647132

Installment 5: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5876221484028664477

Installment 6: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5747171386852909946

Installment 7: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4730862921455924966

And, of course, the Schoolhouse Rock version:

No More Kings: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofYmhlclqr4

The Preamble: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_TXJRZ4CF

And who can forget Bill: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEJL2Uuv-oQ


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lessons in Liberty: Your rights and Eliminating or Sharing the Plunder?

Annotated quotes from Bastiat's "The Law".

Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty or property of another individual, then the common force - for the same reason - cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty or property of individuals or groups.
If one person has no right to murder, enslave or steal from any other person than no organization of individuals or other group has the right to murder, enslave or steal from other individuals or groups.

Men naturally rebel against the injustice of which they are victims. Thus, when plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter - by peaceful or revolutionary means - into the making of the laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of the two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it.

When you hear Libertarians speak, do they intend to "share" the plunder or eliminate it? Are libertarians power hungry political cronies attempting to partake in the great profitable endeavor that is elected office or are they running for office to fight for the restoration of personal freedoms and end the plunder by the political classes?

And when you think of "plunder" think not just of your tax bills and special favors doled out to interest groups and contributors, but things like the $46,000 per American Household in bailouts and loan guarantees that have been doled out thus far. That's right. $46,000 per family in more debt hoisted upon the shoulders of our children and children's children in order to try and fix an economy that government largely broke to begin with.

End the plunder.

UPDATE: Some measures say the number is now $65,000 per American household.  Regardless, it's a big number.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The electoral college is not "archaic".

Every presidential election cycle bunches of people (almost always Democrats but oddly much more quiet this election cycle... it's all good when the system works for them) rail against the electoral college and call for direct election of the President. Now, of course, if you want the top five states to decide your president every four years this is probably a great idea. But, then look at the most populous state, California, which is generally far more to the left than the rest of the country. Or, to use a much more accurate model, far more to the bottom of the diamond [statist] than the terrible left-right one dimensional model taught in schools. which has FIVE times as many Electoral College votes than my state of Indiana.

Do you really want the people of California who have voted their way into near state bankruptcy and are now asking the Federal Government (their not alone, 43 states are now doing this) to take more tax money from the rest of the country or place the entire rest of the country further in debt to "bail them out". Of course, this continues to beg the question as to who is going to bail out the United States government and taxpayers? Massive inflation coming soon to a store near you!?

The point everyone misses though is that the States created the Federal Government. The states are supposed to be sovereign and voluntarily organized into the "United States" for which the Federal Government had very little authority and not much to do. The Federal Government was supposed to be states' agent in helping organize national defense and ensuring free trade amongst the states not to be the direct agent of the people.

The citizens of each state vote for who they desire their respective representatives (electors) to cast votes for in representing the United States. We're supposed to care more about our own Governor and State House folks than the President of the United States, but the power has flip-flopped and massively so during the 20th Century. As originally intended, however, there was never supposed to be any kind of popular election of electors (although that wasn't forbidden) and instead knowledgeable people were to be selected by state governments to recommend candidates to the Congress who would then select the President. It never really worked this way, at least not by the time we got to Jackson. Again, this would be state governments selecting the President. State representatives who would be much less likely to vote away their authority, power and sovereignty under the U.S. Constitution.

an excerpt:

"Over those decades, the methods that states used to select their electors had changed so that rather than having state legislatures choose them, they were chosen by the electorate directly. Furthermore, electors represented specific candidates instead of being chosen for their ability to select good candidates. Thus, in effect, there was popular voting for president despite the process specified in the Constitution, and if the president was in fact elected by popular vote, Jackson’s supporters believed that he should have been selected as president in 1824."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

On-Line Polls, Drugs, Economics and Other Ramblings.

(this started out going down one path and ended up letting me get a few things out of my system - it's basically a rant and it's probably not the last).

I take a lot of on-line polls. A lot of people do I think because our opinions are so darn important after all. One of the polls I took today was about Guns in St. Louis. And this question struck me as missing at least one important answer:

Which of the following conditions do you think is the most important cause of gun violence in the US?

The availability of guns
The way children are raised
The influence of TV, movies, video games, or the Internet

Availability? Nah, even if outlawed people would own them in violation of the law. I mean, drug dealers still deal drugs, people still speed on the highway, cheat on their taxes, drive without a safety harness on, buy alcohol for underage drinkers.. all illegal. So we know that just making something illegal will not make it go away.

The way children are raised. While I'll admit this is probably a contributing factor, it's not the core reason I don't think. There will always be children that raised either improperly, or who just plain grow up to be bad seeds despite the best efforts of their loving, well educated parents.

The influence of TV, movies, video games or the Internet. Again, perhaps something else that influences people to some degree. But let's face it, watching Han Solo shoot Stormtroopers or Dirty Harry blow away bad guys did not turn me into some mass crazed killer. Congress destroying the financial soundness of our country or the Federal Tax Code might yet do it, but not popular culture.

Anger. Well, yeah, usually somebody got mad or at least had their ego bruised to shoot somebody. I love Chris Rock's skit about high priced bullets. The premise being that if you saw someone laying bleeding in the street you knew they made someone REALLY mad to make them put thousands of dollars of bullets in them.

The answer that was immediately missing to me was drug prohibition. Now I know this can be an unpopular topic, and it's not one I tend to spend much time focusing on; BUT, how many people are shot, killed, beat up, intimidated or who knows what else over territorial distribution rights for drugs. High priced, profitable drugs because the government eliminates most legal, natural competition through legislation thus creating a risk-based profit incentive to get in the drug business? Remember Al Capone? You wouldn't even know that name if not for alcohol prohibition prior to repeal.

How much more harm is done by failed war on drugs than is done by the drugs themselves? Yes, drugs destroy families, careers, savings but so do the the IRS, DEA, ATF and other organizations from time to time. What would happen to the distribution network and the price of pot for example if it was no longer an illegal plant (a plant! if you're religious that would be a plant, placed here by God) that got destroyed on sight by officials of the government? The price would fall out of the bottom if everybody could just grow their own, don't you think? I mean, really, if they want to destroy plants I have some pesky dandilions every year they can pull up and burn - bet they won't stand so close to THAT fire though.

What about those frogs that people can lick to get high? Are government officials going to purposely hunt and destroy them out of existence? I'll bet the Endangered Species folks would have something to say about that. Where are the Endangered Plantlife folks? I guess trees are too big to fail but not smaller plantlife?

And I don't have a horse in that race, it all just seems silly, wasteful and ineffective to me.

So anyway, back to the polls. I especially get miffed when asked in a poll things like:

Who did you support for president?
(o) Barack Obama
(o) John McCain

... huh ... I didn't know I only had two options (I know most people thought so). I didn't support either of the media promoted, status quo, statist candidates who (neither one) knows jack about economics.


What about Bob Barr, Chuck Baldwin or Ralph Nader. Or in the primaries Ron Paul, Duncan Hunter, Mike Gravel or Hillary Clinton? By the way, if you missed Mike Gravel in the debates you missed "how the hell did the rest of them get here" and "I'm ashamed at you Hillary" it was totally worth the time spent to watch.

Of course, I'm still waiting for the news article that points out that if we'd listened to Ron Paul's economic advice years (if not decades) ago we probably could have avoided the big mess we're in now. Make fun of him all you want, he's been right about almost everything but he does lack that certain "American Idol" popularity contest attraction that we now hire our leaders based on. Instead of loud proclamations that, "oh, sorry, yeah he was right" they just have had him on the cable news channels a few times each week whereas BEFORE the election they wouldn't promote him at all.

For me, by the way, economics is probably the most important thing these guys need to understand, mostly so they know to stay out of the market and the economy since all they can do is screw it up, misallocate resources, create bubbles, destroy the value of currency or otherwise frustrate legitimate economic progress.


What is it going to take to get everyone mad enough? I think there is a large but silent minority of people, afraid to do much "outside the box", if you will, that are mad as hell and don't want to take it anymore. Are you tired of the nonsense, overspending, trade deficits, wrecked economies, endless warfare (not one declared since World War II I don't think?)? Are you tired of your spouse having to work just to cover your tax liability, tired of having to earn $2.00 just to put $1.00 in the bank and then having the FED devalue that remaining dollar by 3 to 5% (or more) each year or tired of bickering about same-sex marriage or other issues that shouldn't have anything to do with the government, at least not Federally, while our country goes down the tubes. Are you fed up with politicians like Barnie Frank or John McCain standing up and saying "everything is okay" when in fact, things are totally NOT okay? What is it going to take? Do we sit idly by while the promise of America evaporates away from our Children (current our future)?

I think like many, I'm searching for the answers here as well. There is no place left on the planet for those who want to live free in a capitalist, free market society to go live. Heck, even this place wasn't really ours for the taking, but something has to change. As a friend of mine recently pointed out, BLOG posts and Internet jockey activities aren't going to get it done. I would add that writing books won't do it either and apparently producing DVDs doesn't do it. Do we need a prime-time special for two hours and all the networks? Wonder what that would cost?

The problem is we all have jobs, careers and two-income families. Can't quite put the plow up for the day and venture to D.C. for a few days to give Congress a piece of our mind without asking for time off, finding baby-sitters or who knows what else. Of course, if we wouldn't endlessly centralize stuff in D.C., in complete violation of our Constitution, we could make shorter trips down to our statehouses or county government centers to make our voices heard.

For starters, I invite everyone to visit and sign up for The Campaign for Liberty or to support Atlas!Liberty. I'm not sure what passes for pitchforks and torches these days, but I'm open to suggestions on that angle as well. First, though, in the immortal words of Howard Beale, if you're not already, "You've GOT TO GET MAD." And if you aren't going to get Mad then you're probably part of the problem and need to stay out of the way (and the voting booth). Go watch the scaled down version of I.O.U.S.A at YouTube, mad yet? $53 trillion reasons to be ... and counting.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Poilitical Quotes as Fun and Food for Thought

Some random quotes I decided to share:

Thinking of the bailouts on this one, "
Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel." - John Quinton

“The Democrats are the party of government activism, the party that says government can make you richer, smarter, taller, and get the chickweed out of your lawn. Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then get elected and prove it.” - P. J. O'Rourke, Reptile Republican

Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks." - Doug Larson

Carroll Quigley said: "The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can throw the rascals out at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies."

Sean Shepard said, "If even the most paranoid, tin-foil-hat people among us trust Representative Ron Paul, then maybe the rest of us can too?"

"Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong. " - Richard Armour

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right." - H.L. Mencken, 1956

How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?" - Author Unknown

Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed." - Mao Zedong (Star Wars fans will recognize this as "aggressive negotiations".

"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge natural to party dissention, which in different ages & countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders & miseries, which result, gradually incline the minds of men to seek security & repose in the absolute power of an Individual: and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty."
— George Washington, September 19, 1796

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Q &A: What Were Tax Rates Back In The Day?

This is an expanded answer to a question that was asked on Facebook:

Federal government revenues were largely generated via tariffs and use fees prior to 1914. There was an income tax from 1862 to 1872 to pay for the so-called American Civil War. (note: a "civil war" is technically a war fought over the same seat of power for control of a country. In our case, the South had decided they didn't want to be part of the United States anymore and wanted their own seat of power, not to fight over the existing one) In 1895 the Supreme Court held (Pollock v. Farmers' Loan and Trust) that a direct tax that was not apportioned amongst the states was unconstitutional. In 1913 the 16th Amendment was passed so that Congress could then reach directly into our pockets.

As originally passed, the income tax was 1% on incomes above $3,000 (at least $61,400 in today's dollars after inflation) and an additional 6% on income above $500,000 ($10,233,000).

Today everybody pays over 15% for FICA and MediC (your employer pays half, if self-employed you pay it all). PLUS income tax rates of 10% (AGI up to $8,025), 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35% (over $357,700) [single filer].

So, somebody in Indiana can literally pay (35% + 15% + 3.4% + 1.65% = ) 55% on each additional dollar they earn BEFORE property, sales, excise and inflation taxes.

Note: inflation is the result of growth in the money supply without a commensurate growth in the underlying assets that support its value. Like, when the Federal Reserve introduces hundreds of billions of dollars to the economy to, oh, say bail out big Wall Street firms and buy up bad mortgage notes. Inflation is a decline in the real value of money and is not necessarily a natural occurrence at the macro level.

A bit of additional history to color the discussion, from The FairTax Book by Neal Boortz and John Linder:

"Those who favored the idea of an income tax met with considerable success, capturing the public sentiment with promises that the tax would 'soak the rich' and leave the vast majority of Americans alone. Economic class warfare was as alive and well in the early 1900s as it is in the early 2000s"

And regarding it's passage:

"The historical time line now brings us to Texas Senator Joseph Bailey, a conservative Democrat. Deciding to play the game of partisan politics, Bailey cooked up a scheme to humiliate congressional Republicans. Though he was opposed to the idea, Bailey...

Note: Charlie Rangel (D - NY 15th) introduced legislation to bring back the draft a few years ago despite clearly being against it. This was all a political stunt.

...introduced a bill calling for an income tax. He mistakenly thought that the Republicans would rush in to kill this legislation, thus furthering the image Democrats were trying to cultivate of Republicans as hostile to the poor and concerned only about protecting the wealthy. Wouldn't you know, things didn't turn out as Bailey had planned. Liberal Republicans, backed by Teddy Roosevelt, actually came out in support of the bill. Passage seemed all but certain."

In my opinion, Teddy Roosevelt was one of the top 10 worst Presidents in American history. He in no way deserves to be on Rushmore. We also have his ego and arrogance to blame for Wilson becoming President in 1912, who, of course signed the Income Tax and Federal Reserve into law. The word "idiots" comes to mind.

"Conservative Republicans were panicked. They needed a way to defeat the Bailey bill and the growing threat of an income tax. In one of the worst examples of legislative play-calling in our history, Republicans came up with the brilliant idea of announcing that they would support the idea of an income tax on one condition: if any only if it came about as the result of an amendment to our Constitution. Even though this group of conservative Republicans felt that there was some slight chance the proposed amendment might actually make it through the House and Senate, there was just no way in the world that the legislatures of three-fourths of the states could vote for ratification. Yeah ... right.

Big oops."

It's worth noting that within three years, the top tax rate was already ratcheted up to over seventy percent as we unnecessarily and, in hindsight, tragically entered World War I. Some scholars argue that without America's entry into World War I, it would have basically ended in a stalemate and a negotiated settlement that was not as punitive against Germany. The harsh treatment of Germany after World War I, it is argued, led to the ability for Hitler to parlay his nationalistic message into power and thus leading to the horrors we associate with him and ultimately World War II.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Recommended Reading List

A friend of mine (hi Lydia!) inquired as to whether, given the current economic crisis, I had any books I would suggest people read and sure enough, I do. This is not an exhaustive list but some good places to start, fairly mainstream and nothing too dry (I hope!).

(1) Economics In One Lesson - Henry Hazlitt
(2) The Road to Serfdom - Frederich Hayak
(3) The FairTax Book - Neal Boortz & John Linder
(4) The Revolution - Dr. Ron Paul
(5) Liberal Fascism - Jonah Goldberg
(6) Dependent On D.C. - Charlotte A. Twight
(7) The Law - Bastiat
(8) Wealth and Poverty - George Gilder

If you have not read any of the following since High School (they were required reading when I was in school) then I strongly suggest re-reading them and, now that you're old enough to be paying attention, think about our current government and economic structures:

(1) Animal Farm - Orwell
(2) 1984 - Orwell
(3) Brave New World - Huxley

I'm sure I'll think of some more but there is a quick list.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Distorted Truth: Reagan Ditched Solar Panels at White House?

I have a strong interest in alternative energy and adamantly believe we need to, shuddering to utter this overused phrase, "end our dependence on foreign oil." I watch a lot of documentaries and last evening was watching "Escape from Suburbia" which talks about the energy crisis and the possible need for us to drastically change our lifestyles as energy gets more and more scarce and expensive. Fair enough.

What a great many people don't realize is that wind turbines, solar panels and even hydroelectric generators are still very, very expensive. In a recent issue of "Home Power" it indicated that because of the still relatively low efficiency and low cost per KwH of energy in Indiana, it could take up to eighty years to recoup the cost of installing a PV (Photovoltaic) system. The economics will get better as technology advances and economies of scale are introduced with increased demand and, theoretically, lower per unit cost of production.

I would also like to take a moment to remind everyone that turning our food into fuel is a really bad idea for lots of reasons, putting a big mast and sail on top of the car won't get you any farther than the first overpass and even there slowly and solar just isn't efficient enough to replace gasoline in our vehicles. The good news, things are getting better and there is lots of research being done. The auto manufacturers are figuring it out and more and more options will be available as time goes on.

The thing that prompted me to write this though, was that twenty-five minutes into this documentary which is high on fear factor and light on actual discussion about technology, they mention that President Jimmy Carter (D 1977 - 1980) installed solar panels on top of the White House. Indeed he did! President Carter had a rather large solar water-heating panel assembly placed on top of the White House. The documentary then has someone talking about President Ronald Reagan (R 1981 - 1988) and then goes into a giant-size animated Reagan cartoon stomping around and roaring like Godzilla and dismantling the panels.

As usual, I was wary of bias in what I was watching and sure enough the New York Times published an AP article on August 24, 1986 saying "The panels of the system had been dismantled to fix the roof underneath. Dale A. Petroskey, a White House spokesman, said Friday, 'Putting them back up would be very unwise, based on cost.'"

So there we have it. It didn't make economic sense at the time to put them back up and it is always a good idea to get past our preconceived notions or beliefs about individuals or groups and to do our own homework.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Laughed off of Bulls and Bears in 2006, proven exactly right today! Peter Schiff.

I'm a fan of Peter Schiff, who often gets labeled a "Chicken Little" analyst for his predictions over the past few years about the bursting of the real estate bubble and the dangers of FED market manipulation. Peter was the economic adviser to Dr. Ron Paul's (R - TX) campaign for President.

In this video clip, Peter is nearly laughed off the show by these other investment advisers and yet he has been proven 100% correct in everything he stated.

HR 2755 was introduced to Congress last year and if passed would phase out the Federal Reserve and it's market manipulations over 12 to 18 months. The full text of the bill is here: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-2755

HT: Travis Cross for digging this up
crossposted: www.circlecitypundit.com

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Do you remember where you were?

As I was growing up, the generations prior to mine knew that amongst them everybody knew exactly where they were when they heard that President Kennedy had been shot. Our version of that today is probably the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

There are those moments we never forget:

My mother-in-law called our house to tell us planes were crashing into buildings and to turn on the TV. As the TV came on I had to stare for a few moments before realizing that I was looking at only one of the Twin Towers and that the other was not shrouded in smoke, it was gone. GONE. Having been there numerous times, including up on the walkway that went around the perimeter or Tower 2 and walking across the floor of one of the exchanges that was housed there, I was stunned in disbelief.

I was walking into Mrs. Gulley’s Earth Space Science class at Pike High School and plopped down in my chair. We were supposed to watch a video that day but the TV was on to the news. Generally the first one to class, for the first few moments I sat alone watching the endless replay of the Challenger exploding. Mrs. Gulley was one of the early recipients of a teaching award named after Christa McAuliffe.

I was home with my then 6-month old daughter laying in front of the TV waiting to watch the shuttle Columbia land. It never did. As soon as it got to be a minute or so late showing up I knew what had happened. Elizabeth was too young to hear me tell her "we lost another one."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bomb Iran ??? Think Twice.

While unwinding the disastrous foreign policy decisions of the past 50 years is not possible, there is always the choice to start anew with one that doesn't involve intervening in every world affair, meddling in every country's business and causing a tremendous amount of animosity and distrust towards the United States.

I know there are a great many people who feel that Iran is a threat to the United States, especially if they were to become a nuclear power. Of course, we always fail to put ourselves in their shoes, look at U.S. troops across the border and wonder if the only way to keep the U.S. out of our country is to have nuclear weapons as a deterrent. I'm not saying there isn't anything to be concerned about there, heck we should know, our own CIA helped establish and radicalize some of madrases in the Middle East to forge greater resistance to the Soviets in Afghanistan. And our problems with Iran go back to the 70s (although the source is the 50s).

We really need to sit back and ask, is it worth endless war and bankrupting our country to meddle with all these little Middle Eastern countries? I've written previously and in more detail on this subject here http://shepard2008.com/issues/iraq-and-foreign-policy/
And although the military spending overseas isn't the biggest budget disaster we face (can you say "entitlements"?) it is one more aspect where a lot of it is unnecessary.

Regardless, for those who think that if Iran wants nuclear weapons so bad we should give them one... Scott Ritter made a chilling case not to.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Documentary on coming fiscal crisis: I.O.U.S.A.

It looks like this documentary will prominently feature former Comptroller General of the GAO David Walker. Mr. Walker, a Clinton appointee, spent years trying to get Congress, the President and anyone else to listen regarding the national debt and the coming financial crisis to fund our entitlements.

I made this topic, including the facts and information Mr. Walker has been begging people to listen to and understand, a central part of my campaign during the Special Election in 2008.

Most Libertarians and even a few Republicans/Conservatives (Glenn Beck, Ron Paul, Peter Schiff) have been BEGGING the fine people of our country to pay attention, understand and quit voting for the nimrods that are taking us down this road.

Here is the Link to the documentary trailer at http://www.comingsoon.net/films.php?id=47703

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Gas Prices? Government IS the Problem - Again.

Between government restrictions on supply and refinement, massive devaluation of the U.S. currency and exploding demand in countries that previously didn't have a lot of cars (but are now getting them) our pain at the pump is great indeed. This is a big win for Democrats who (1) will blame the President not [a currently Democratically controlled] Congress and (2) WANT high gas prices because we will buy less and save the planet from Al Gore's promise of us becoming a burning ball of flame in space.

For the Republicans. It's mostly just evidence at how ineffective they were when in power. So we've gone from a spineless and impotent U.S. Congress to an economically incompetent one.

My good friend Mac Johnson, who has been on Bill O'Reilly and several radio programs in the past few years (and also spent time residing in Indy before career choices led him to Boston) posted about the "windfall profits" tax on his great site. He writes with a flair for humor I wish I had.

His article at MacJohnson.com can be found at : http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=26955

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Hillary Clinton is quoted in the New York Times as saying, "Here we are, the greatest nation in the world, the greatest problem solvers, but we’re not solving our problems,” as she lamented the "paralysis" of government.

What, as usual, is not pointed out here is that the "free market" is the greatest solver of problems, government is the greatest creator of them. When the free market is allowed to function, without interference from government all kinds of problems can be solved and with competition and profit motive the solutions often get better and cheaper over time.

The best example of better and cheaper that I know of is the telecommunications business. AT&T once held a government sponsored monopoly on everything from putting the lines in the ground to owning the telephone set in your house (seriously, prior to 1984 you could not own your own telephone, by law you had to rent it. Today, a nice handset is $9.95 at Circuit City or Best Buy). At that time you might pay 50 cents per minute to call Chicago (I recall paying around 40 cents per to call my girlfriend in Chicago around 1988 or 1989).

Then competition opened up and companies like Sprint and MCI (now merged in with Verizon) put fiber optic cables in the ground. Rates for calls plummeted, new services and features (like caller ID) came on the scene, and then we got the Internet and DSL services, and now you can even call China for a few pennies a minute or even free using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology.

Of course, there are always lots of factors but think about this. In 1988 it costs over 40 cents per minute to call Chicago from Indianapolis. Today I can do it for a penny or three and that is AFTER inflation.

There are numerous examples, but looking to the government for solutions generally just means more government, more bureaucracy, more potential for administrative bloat and generally ever higher taxes to pay for it all. This is not hyperbole or partisan rhetoric, but facts that almost everybody agrees to. So many of our problems today are largely because government got involved or restricted others from doing so.

So many things we keep asking government to "fix" or "give us" are things they have already screwed up with taxes, regulation, restrictions, subsidies or other interference. This includes healthcare, the price of gas, inflation, the terrorist threat, jobs and corporate activity moving overseas all the way down to having to flush your toilet two or three times because the water limit is set too low.

Think about that. The Federal Government is big enough to have worried itself about how much water should be allowed in the bowl of your toilet. What else does it take to convince someone that government has gotten too big, with too much time and money on its hands and will continue to find more ways to be intrusive in our lives. Once government takes over healthcare they will probably decide we're all too fat and ban Twinkees and Soda Pop (which, thanks to government intervention in sugar markets has never been the same since bottlers started using corn syrup).

So when people say, "only law breakers ever need fear the government" just remember that something as silly has making toilet or shower head that uses just a tad too much water is a crime. And here are some other great examples of silly "governmentness" in an article at Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow: http://www.cfact.org/site/print.asp?idarticle=202

So, please, let's just open things up so that the free-market, entrepreneurs and regular people can solve the problems and not rely on politicians to figure everything out for us. They aren't good at it.


This (http://online.wsj.com/article/declarations.html) is a great article from Peggy Noonan that discusses how Bush may have made the Republican party radioactive to voters. Some great excerpts:

Regarding the recent 8 point drubbing the Rs took what used to be a "safe" district - "My first thought was: You have to be stupid to be stunned by that. Second thought: Most party leaders in Washington are stupid"

And this one will ring true with many, "'We can't let them pretend to be conservatives,' he continued. Why not? Republicans pretend to be conservative every day."

Are there ANY Republicans out there that are happy with the progress their party made, especially when controlling the Presidency, Senate AND the House?? Not a lot got done. Of course, Republican apologists will tell you you're "wasting your vote" with Libertarians, Constitution Party or whatever else. So, if you voted in Republicans in 2000 and 2004 wanting major tax simplification and overhaul, social security reform, reductions in the size of government, less government spending, humble foreign policy and no nation building like under Clinton ... well, YOU wasted your vote.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Rep. Carolyn Mahoney (D - NY) and Rep. Ron Paul (R - TX) speak before Congress about important fiscal issues facing our country. Unfortunately, a couple of days before Andre got sworn in as I think he needed to hear this.