Tag Archives: budget resolution

Retirement and Politics…..Bad for Your Health?

Being retired definitely has its advantages.  I can play video games any time I want….and in my pajamas!  I can go days without shaving.  I get ‘old fart’ discounts at restaurants.  I can watch anything I want on television, anytime I want.  Vacations aren’t a problem…we can go whenever and wherever we please.  We just need to make a withdrawal from the grandkids college funds. Voila!  We’re sailing in the Caribbean!

But, alas, there are some disadvantages.  For instance, If Grandma P and I did not have doctors appointments, we would not have a social life.  In that regard, it sucks to get old.  Another disadvantage is that Grandma P knows she can shame me into doing any repair work around the house, any time it needs to be done.  In her eyes, I am a ‘handy man’ available 24/7.  Change that light bulb.  Mow that yard.  Paint those faded lawn ornaments.  You get the drift.

But there is one really, really big disadvantage about being retired.  As I am doing the fun things I want to do, usually in my office, usually with the television on, I get to watch all the political machinations that are taking place in Washington, D.C.  I get to watch the daily press briefings.  I get to watch any congressional fact finding commissions or panels.  And, as a result, I have noticed two things.  Firstly, how stupid most of the reporters are at the press briefings and how stupid most of our elected officials really are.  Secondly, it is obvious that most politicians are not concerned about what is best for our country.  They are far more concerned about pandering to their political base (whatever that is!) and getting reelected.

As I am writing this blog, the government is approaching its third day of shutdown.  A very unnecessary, dangerous shutdown.  As a former business owner, there were times, because of the economic environment, when I had to expand or contract my work force.  It is logical that I would want to hire the best most productive people possible.  It is also logical that in times of contraction, I would release the least productive people.  So, how is it that the people, in this case the Congress of the United States, that are responsible for this shutdown are the only people exempt from the ramifications of the shutdown?  I think their paychecks should be the first casualties of a shutdown!  Just sayin’.

Our country is currently facing many challenges.  The war in Afghanistan.  The federal budget.  North Korea has not gone away.  The wall.   Dreamers.  Illegal immigration.  And now, we have a government shutdown.

My frustration grows…..

A couple of weeks ago, much media attention was given to Donald Trump allegedly referring to Haiti as a ‘shithole.’  Many people attending this meeting said that the POTUS did not say this.  The POTUS stated he did not say it.  The one person who got the press was Senator Dick Durbin (D) from Illinois. (Nothing is sacred or secret in our government if the slightest tinge of political gain can be gotten.)  So this issue became a political hot potato.  It got better.  There was a Senate Judicial Hearing concerning Homeland Security.  You know these Homeland Security people, they are responsible for  everything about public security in the U.S., including TSA, Immigration, border security,  cyber security, the Secret Service, etc.  During this hearing with the Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Neilsen; Senator Cory Booker (D) New Jersey, decided that rather than asking pertinent questions about the public security of our country, he would go into a tirade about how he cried when he heard the purported remarks the POTUS made about Haiti from Dick Durbin.  He passed up his opportunity to better our country to pander to his constituents. After all, Cory Booker has never met a television camera he did not like.  (This is not an uncommon trait among senators!)

I have to admit, when this story first broke about what the POTUS said, I was a little perplexed.  But then I had to fall back on common sense.  I had to consider the source.  In this case, this was the same Dick Durbin that was quoted as saying we need to cease using the term, ‘chain immigration’ because it reminds the black race that their ancestors came to America in chains. Say what?  Are you kidding me?  If that is the case, then there should be marching and burning in protest to the term, ‘ minority whip.’  That is the person from the minority party in the House of Representatives that is tasked with keeping the party members in line with the party platform by supporting the platform with their vote.  In this case, the minority whip would be a Democrat.   I digress.  (Dick Durbin’s analogy is absolutely stupid.)

I wish that the POTUS  would not use the term ‘shithole’ when referring to a third world shithole like Haiti.  It upsets people and creates liberal press fodder, even though it is a spot-on descriptive.  Haiti has had billions of dollars poured into it, without any benefit to the common people.  Where did the money go?   I don’t really care if Trump said it or not, as I know that Haiti is a shithole because it is the only country in the Caribbean that Grandma P and I have not visited in our 20 cruises throughout the area.  If it were anything else, it would be a port of call.  (We have been to the Dominican Republic numerous times at the other end of Hispaniola.  It is beautiful!)  What concerns me is that a US senator turned a serious Senate Judicial hearing into a carnival sideshow.  All of this because another US senator decided to mow political hay with the purported description used by Trump.

Frustration building…..  (1.  Take a deep breath.  2.  Paint some faded lawn ornaments!)

How about the political circus surrounding the government shutdown itself?  95% of the Republicans voted for the funding measure to fund the government, effectively ending the shutdown.  95% of the Democrats voted against the funding measure and initiated a filibuster to halt the vote in the senate.  The Democrats want the funding of our nations military and security apparatuses to go unpaid while they are wanting a full amnesty for the ‘dreamers.’  You know who the ‘dreamers’ are.  They are the children brought into the US by their illegal immigrant parents.  But the Democrats want to take it further.  They want citizenship for the ‘dreamers’ as well as their parents who illegally entered this country.  But, with the assistance of an all-too-willing liberal media, the Democrats are blaming the POTUS and the Republicans for the shutdown.  Hopefully, most people in America are smart enough to see through this.

Speaking of the media, you should have watched the news conference about the president’s health.  The examining doctor was kept on the podium for over an hour because of some of the dumbest questions you would ever want to hear.  How can you say he is physically fit?  How can you say he is mentally acute?  How can you say he is physically fit when he eats cheeseburgers?  (As do 300 million other Americans!)   Apparently these people are of the belief that if you ask the same question four times, the answer may change.  Not likely.  Many press briefings follow this same, repetitive scenario.

(Where is the President’s doctor when I need him!  Blood pressure..up!   Heart rate..rising!  OMG!  I ate a cheeseburger last week!  I’m a goner!)

Did you know that five representatives are not attending the State of the Union Address because they claim that Trump is a racist.  Is that how you want your representative to represent you?   What kind of respect and cooperation can these five people expect in Congress, when they don’t show any respect for others.  These people may be loud, and brash, and get reelected, but they will not get much legislation passed that will benefit your legislative area as other Congressmen will not show respect and cooperation for them.

So I have a challenge for my retired friends.  Please take time to observe a weeks worth of White House press briefings.  Observe the stupidity of the press corps and their questions.  You will be astonished.  For those still working, I am sure you can tape these briefings and watch at night.  They do provide some of the best entertainment on television.

My second challenge is for everyone to make an attempt at observing your federally elected officials at work.  There is no question that some of these people are brilliant and have the best interest of our country at heart.  There is also no question that some of them are egocentric, stupid, and are more concerned about reelection than results.  I have pointed out a couple, but you can make your own judgement.

I get so upset about the maneuvering that is taking place to create shutdowns, belittle the President’s physical condition, belittle the President’s mental condition, and basically ‘stonewalling’ anything that is positive for this country that I have to turn off my television.  Are these the people you want to represent you?  Observe your politicians at work.  You may be surprised  how they represent you.

(Shut off the television.  Heart rate…declining.  Blood pressure…normal.) 

Well, its rainy and dreary outside.  Time for a nap.  Ah. yes.  The advantages of being retired.

We Defeated the Communists, and Then We Became Them!

My oh my!  Recently, there has been no shortage of world-wide events that have distracted our government from taking care of domestic issues.  There was hurricane Harvey, hurricane Irma, and now, once again tearing through the Caribbean, hurricane Maria.  These were catastrophic to the United States, and they totally destroyed some small Caribbean countries.   Last week, there was a ‘bucket bomb’ that exploded in a London subway.  And, much like an infant with a broken rattle, we can always count on Kim Jong-un to fire another missile anytime he thinks he is not getting enough attention on the world stage.

Because of these major events, not much attention has been given to our domestic problems. Obama Care has not been repealed or replaced.  The tax codes have not been revised.  And, have you recently heard any news referring to the federal budget?  This got me to wondering.  How is the federal government currently spending our money?  It is our money, isn’t it?  More importantly, how has the government spent our money in the past?  So, as a matter of personal interest, I have decided to compare our 2016 federal budget to the 50 year earlier, 1966 federal budget.  This was not an accidental choice, as I graduated from high school as a wet-behind-the-ears, know-it-all eighteen year old in 1966.  And, yes, I can still muster up enough memory to remember the era.  Let me set the stage.

1966

1966 was just over 20 years after the completion of WWII.  There were no shortage of veterans from that war.  They were our parents.  We fought an on-going war in Korea.  Because of what was called the ‘domino theory’ we sent military advisors to a country called South Viet Nam.  Eisenhower began this program, Kennedy expanded it, and Lyndon Johnson turned Saigon into the  twenty-third largest American city.  Little did we know in 1966 that Viet Nam would ultimately cost us over 57,000 American lives.

Our WWII ally, Russia, was now our dreaded enemy.  They became the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), which was comprised of Russia and all the countries it decided to keep in its ‘sphere of influence’ after WWII.  The majority joined unwillingly by the use of Russian military force. We had NATO, and the USSR had the Warsaw Pact.  They built the Berlin wall and shot anyone that tried to cross it.  Winston Churchill dubbed this policy of isolation as the ‘Iron Curtain.’

In 1962, we had a little dust-up in the Caribbean called the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The USSR wanted to install nuclear warheads and missiles in Cuba.  US versus USSR.  Kennedy versus Khruschev. Good versus evil.  Eagle versus the bear.  Democracy versus communism.  According to all historical accounts, it was the closest the world has come to a nuclear holocaust.

In 1963, Kennedy was assassinated.  (I was hoping I would find out who was responsible before I died, but time is running out!)

On the domestic front, the ‘baby boomers’ were entering the workforce.  As a high school graduate, there were three life choices available:  go to college, get a job, or get drafted.  That was pretty much it.  The economy was booming because there was a war to fuel it.  Just about anyone that wanted a job had a job.  As eighteen year olds, we could not wait to move away from home and become independent.  We never moved back home.

With these events as a background, how did our government spend our money?  Our GDP in 1966 was $4.12T.  The total government receipts were $689B.  Our total outlays were $708B.  (Yes!  We dealt in billions and not trillions!)  Our deficit that year was $19.5B.  Ah yes, don’t you long for the good old days now?  42% of all revenues came from individual income taxes.  Payroll taxes accounted for 20% and corporate taxes accounted for 23% of revenues.

On the spending side, 43% of all funds were spent on national defense.  But here is the biggie….medicare and general health spending was only 2% of the budget that year.  Spending on social security, unemployment and labor in 1966 was about 23% of all outlays.

In raw numbers, the Dept. of Defense got $298B, Health and Human Services got $30.1B, Social Security Administration got $109B, Treasury got $61.9B and NASA got $31.2B.  The Treasury received their money largely to pay the interest on our $1.74T national debt.  Of course there are other departments, but these are the largest and pertinent to this blog.

2016

Now we fast forward 50 years to 2016, the last year of the Obama budget.  There were only two budgets put forth by the Obama admistration in his eight years as POTUS.  Harry Reed, the senate majority leader, promised not to bring a budget to the senate floor and the ‘gatekeeper from hell’ kept his word.  In 2016, the government took in $2.99T in tax revenues.  (Yes, we got to the trillions!) 49% of these revenues came from individual income taxes.  Payroll taxes accounted for 33% and corporate taxes accounted for 9% of total revenues.  The national debt now exceeds $16.7T!

The sources of revenue did not change substantially in 50 years.  But how the revenues have been spent have significantly changed.  Remember that the defense department accounted for 43% of the 1966 budget?  Well, even with all the shenanigans going on with terrorism and wars, the 2016 budget only spent 15% on the defense department.  Wow!  Where did that money go?  The 2% of monies spent on medicare and general health spending in 1966 now consumes 28% of the spending.  Spending on social security is now 37% of the budget as compared to 22% in the past.   Entitlement programs now consume 65% of our national budget!

The raw numbers are staggering.  The Dept. of Defense now spends $515B.  The Dept. of Health and Human Services goes from $30.1B to a staggering $995B!  The Dept. of Treasury goes from $61.9B to $484B!  Much of this is to pay the interest on our growing, inflated national debt.  Not to be outdone, the Social Security Administration received a nice bump, going from $109B to $866B!  NASA, on the other hand, had its 1966 budget of $31.2B reduced to $17.2B in 2016.

I need to provide a small history lesson at this point.  Do you know what the original responsibities were of the federal government?  Why the federal government was founded?  It was founded for two reasons; national defense and international trade.  End of list.  It is astounding how the federal government got to its present size.  Back to the blog.

There are some logical explainations for these large differences in these federal budgets.  In 1966, the huge ‘baby boomer’ generation entered the work force.  They worked.  They paid taxes.  They paid into the social security fund.  In 2016, guess what?  The ‘baby boomers’ aged.  They retired and they began collecting the social security in which they paid for after about 50+ working years.

In 1966, there wasn’t any government provided health care program.  We never expected a federal health care program.  But now look at what is happening.  Obamacare happened, and it has pretty much been a mess ever since.  Everyone agrees it needs to change, but we can’t get two people in a room of 100 senators to agree on how it should change.  Personally, I think the federal government should get out of the health care business altogether, but the proverbial cat has been let out of the bag.  Unlike the old days of 1966 where we did not believe in such a thing as a free lunch, we have people perfectly capable of working that expect a free lunch.  In 1966 we were raised under the mantra that, ‘you ate what you killed.’  Now our national conscious is that everyone should eat, even if they haven’t done one thing to feed themselves.

As amazing as it is to see the differences in our budgets after 50 years, it appears this is outdone by our expectations as to what the government owes us in entitlements.  Most of these entitlements did not exist 50 years ago, and yet we survived.  This is borne out by a Health and Human Services budget that is over 30 times larger than in 1966.  (Think ‘welfare’)

During the Cold War, we spent trillions of dollars to defeat those socialistic Communists.  Russia has turned from its socialistic/communistic society.  You remember socialism/communism.  That is the economic and political theory that advocates the means of production, distribution and exchange should be regulated by the community (government) as a whole.  Our electorate has seen fit in the last 50 years to elect officials that institute welfare programs that we can’t afford,  with money we don’t have, for people who should not receive them.   We have given up our independence.  Now, with our dependence on our federal government, we have taken the place of the former USSR.   Have we become the New Socialists/Communists?

It gives a whole new context to the motto, ‘Land of the free……..’

It’s a Shake and Bake Society, Baby!

During my lifetime, I have experienced, and seen, technological revolutions that can only be described as miraculous.  These technological advancements have made life easier and faster.

Let me provide a few examples of some great technological advancements, both big and small.

Do you know when the first TV dinner was created?  Do you remember who created it and what that dinner contained?  The first TV dinner was created in 1953 by the Swanson Company, thus the Swanson TV dinner which is still available today.  That first dinner was designed for a Thanksgiving meal.  It contained turkey, cornbread dressing, frozen peas and sweet potatoes.  It was packaged in the aluminum tray that was used by airline companies to serve food on their airplanes.   The cooking directions called for 25 minutes in the oven at 425 degrees.  That first meal cost 98 cents, and they sold a whopping 5000 dinners that first year!

What an advancement!  Up until that time, in our house, either Mom or Grandma had to make everything from scratch.  Because we lived on a Midwestern farm, we had animals and a huge garden.  Our Thanksgiving turkey took 7-8 hours to cook.  Oftentimes the bird was stuffed the night before Thanksgiving, placed in the refrigerator, and then someone had to get out of bed by 5:00 AM to place it in the oven in time for dinner.  All rolls and bread were baked from scratch as were the pies. Grandma’s pies were to die for!  All the crusts were made from scratch as was the filling.  No pumpkin pie filling, cherry filling or blueberry filling came from a can.  The pumpkin pie filling came from pumpkins grown in our garden.  The cherries were purchased and pitted.  The blueberries were picked in the summer and frozen until used.  I know all about blueberry picking as my grandmother made me go with her.  For the uninitiated, blueberries grow in low-lying areas and ripen about the same time as the bumper mosquito crop matures.  We had to wear nets over our heads and wear long sleeve shirts even in the summer, so as not to get bitten hundreds of times.  Unfortunately, because of the small size of the blueberries, we could not wear gloves.  Our hands became the ultimate mosquito target and we would spend almost 2 hours picking and swatting, picking and swatting to get enough berries for 3-4 pies.  It was not uncommon for a Thanksgiving feast to take three days of preparation.  Whew! What a difference from 25 minutes at 425 degrees!  (Honestly, our meals were bigger and much better.)

But the food industry was not done.  In 1969, the first TV breakfast meal was made available.  That was followed in 1973 by the Hungry Man Meal.  Do you remember who the first spokesman was for the Hungry Man Meal?  It was Pittsburgh Steeler footballer, Mean Joe Green.

But wait….there’s more!  In 1986, the first microwavable TV dinner was made available because 25% of the American homes had microwave ovens.  Microwave ovens were the next great technological leap for food preparation.  My parents bought me a microwave oven as a Christmas gift in the early 1980s.  It cost almost $500, and it took two men and a boy to lift it from the trunk of a car to my counter top.  After its usefulness as a microwave, it could have been easily converted to a boat anchor!   A BIG boat anchor!

Do you know how many years it was between the first airplane flight and landing the first person on the moon?  The first flight by the Wright brothers was in 1903.  The moon landing?  1969.  Sixty six years between airplane invention and an almost unbelievable space travel accomplishment!

During my lifetime, communication in our house went from having no phone to having a party line phone.  Yes, you could actually pick up the phone and hear your neighbors conversation.  And yes, they could hear your conversations.  Next came the invention of mobile phones.  Those first mobile phones were the size of a brick and weighed about the same as a brick.  Then we went to light-weight small pocket sized phones and now you can have a phone on your wrist!  A wrist phone just like the one Dick Tracy used in the 1930s comic books!  (Okay.  Dick Tracy had a wrist radio.)

When I was in high school and college, we were never allowed to use calculators.  That is because the first pocket calculators cost $250, and not everyone could afford them.  Remember….the minimum wage was $1.00 an hour!  While in high school, we could use slide rules.  Right now, no one under the age of 50 has the slightest idea of what I am talking about.  A slide rule was one step up from an ancient abacus, but multiplication and division could be done on a slide rule.  To show the real advancement of technology, my first pocket calculator cost $250.  When it finally broke, the exact replacement cost $59.99.  When that pocket calculator broke, the exact replacement cost $19.95.

The first computer that I bought in 1991 was a butt-kicking 40 megabytes!  I say it was a butt-kicking computer because all my competitors had 25 megabyte computers.  I was king of the hill.  That computer, monitor and daisy-wheel printer cost me $2200.  I now write this blog on an 8 gigabyte computer that cost me $600 six years ago.  The monitor and printer were extra.  My printer not only prints, but it is capable of scanning, copying, and faxing….if I knew how to set it all up.  The printer cost me less than $150.  In the late 1980s, my old boss bought a fax machine for $2500.  He was bragging about what a great deal he got because he got a free case of fax paper with the machine. Do they even sell fax only machines today?

These are just some of the marvelous technological improvements I have observed during my lifetime.  Just think of all the improvements in the medical field.  Look at the new devices that are a standard feature on an automobile that were unheard of during the 1950s.  GPS?  Back-up cameras?  Alarms?  Many of the new advancements have been for safety, but many of our advancements are popular because they either save time, eliminate work, or provide instantaneous information or instantaneous gratification.  (Who researches using encyclopedias when google and Wikipedia are available.)

But the one thing I have noticed over my lifetime is that people and society have become less patient and tolerant.  People today want instantaneous results.  They want things to happen fast.  They want things to happen faster than getting their food in a short line at a ‘fast food’ restaurant. (What a great belt-busting invention fast food has become!)  I am convinced that some people believe that Rome was built in a day.  The mantra seems to have become, ‘I want it and I want it now.’

Unfortunately, the attitude and mantra of ‘wanting it and wanting it now’ has permeated our expectations as to how our federal government should operate.  I am glad that the ‘First 100 days of the Trump presidency’ have finally passed.  How many times did you hear this:  “Donald Trump’s presidency will be considered a failure if he doesn’t (fill in the blank) within his first 100 days.”   Here were the most popular ‘fill in the blank’ items:  1.  Replace the Affordable Care Act,  2, Have a budget,  3.  Build the wall, and, 4. Provide a tax reform system.  I heard each one of these items, attached to a 100 day timeline, being touted as signifying a failed presidency if not accomplished.  Of course, these notions were mostly advanced by liberal politicians on liberal-leaning media sources. There were more ‘fill in the blank’ items, but these were the biggies.

So here is my advice…..”GET A GRIP AMERICA!”  Rome was not built in a day.  Do you really believe that these major issues, some of them decades old, could be reasonably alleviated in 100 days?  I am glad that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act was defeated early in the Trump presidency. Why?  Because, unlike the original ACA passage that was shoved down the throats of all Americans by the Democratic party without Republican input, this repeal will have the input of both parties.  I would much rather have a ‘good’ bill than a ‘fast’ bill.  But if you want to believe the media hogwash, we wanted a fast bill.

It amazes me that any Democrat would have the cajoles to fault this administration for not having a budget (it was passed recently) when Harry Reid, the Senate Majority leader for 6 years, promised to not have a budget reach the Senate floor as long as he was Senate Majority leader.  The ‘gatekeeper from hell’ kept his word.  Our government ran for 6 years without passing a budget.  (The next time you see a street corner hot dog stand, remember, he probably has a budget!  Our federal government did not.)

I am sure that with a little time, there will be tax reform for both corporations and individuals.  No one seems as concerned about building the big, beautiful wall now that illegal aliens attempting to enter this country has been reduced by over 70%.

But here is where the rubber meets the road; our society seems to have a disconnect between reality and expectation.  Because of our faster than lightning technological advancements and our fast paced society, we begin to believe that all things should be fast.  That may be true in some instances, but certainly not all.  When it comes to governing, I would much prefer ‘slower and better’ than ‘faster and crappy.’

After all, it took my grandmother over 3 hours to make one of her delicious pies from scratch.  She enjoyed making them and we really enjoyed eating them.  Sara Lee would have been easier, but my grandmother would not let us have any of that.  You were the perfect example of ‘slower and better.’   I love you grandma!  You always took care of us.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Pole Vaulting Over Mouse Turds!

Donald Trump presidency…….D + 46

There were many times during my military and business careers when some individuals would become bogged down in minutia.  This was not necessarily a bad thing if there were no time constraints and the minutia being provided stayed focused on the end product or mission.  That was usually not the case, however.

Let me use the military as an example.  Whether the planning involved training or war plans, there were always time constraints.  Yet, some staff wienie would always want to use precious time to delve into the most insignificant of details that were only of concern to him, and not to the group or geared to the mission.  The same situations occur during business planning meetings.  It seems you always have one or two individuals that want to demonstrate their intelligence or elevate their importance by monopolizing time that just was not available.  When asked a question, oftentimes these individuals would provide an answer in an overabundance of detail that was just not necessary.  As a shortcut to brevity, I would chide these people with the phrase, “When I ask you what time it is, don’t tell me how to build a clock.”  This phrase would usually get the ‘minutia minded’ back on track.

Most people have heard the phrase, ‘making a mountain out of a mole hill.’  Cute.  I found that the phrase, ‘You are pole vaulting over mouse turds’ was much more effective in keeping a staff in line and focused based on our time constraints and mission.

So, with the ‘pole vaulting over mouse turd’ concept in mind; could it be applied to what is currently happening in Washington, D.C.?  Unfortunately, I believe it fits all too nicely.

Donald Trump has been POTUS for 46 days.  Here are some of the items that the liberal biased media and the Democratic party have brought to the forefront since the Trump inauguration.  One of the initial biggies was that some female members of the Democratic party called for a boycott of the Ivanka Trump clothing line.  You would think with all these ‘women’s marches,’ like the one occurring today as I am writing this, that these women would be ecstatic that a member of the fair sex is successful in business.  Not the case!  So, in defense, Kellyanne Conway mentioned on a Sunday morning news show that people should buy clothing from the Ivanka Trump collection.  The response?  The shouting began!  “Kellyanne Conway needs to be replaced!”  “Kellyanne Conway needs to be severely disciplined.”  “Kellyanne needs to be prosecuted.”  (As an aside, the Ivanka collection is having unprecedented high sales after the Democrat women called for boycott!)

Poor Kellyanne could not catch a break after someone posted a picture of her sitting on her feet on a sofa in the oval office.  Again, the shouting began from the left.  Disrespectful!  (Followed by the three comments in bold in the previous paragraph.)  Apparently, the liberals have forgotten about the picture of Obama with his feet up on the historical Resolute desk in the oval office.  This desk was a gift from Queen Victoria of England.  Or, about Bill Clinton having an intern under the desk.

Combined

Any disrespect there?

Other media consuming biggies is that Donald Trump uses ketchup on his steak.  Earth shattering!  And, recently, Ben Carson referred to slaves as immigrants.  Again, earth shattering.  Would you say the four mentioned situations are all important, or would you classify them as ‘pole vaulting over mouse turds.’  I am a believer that we could use toothpicks to vault over those turds.

Here are some items that I believe the media and our politicians from both parties should be focusing upon.

Earlier this week, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles in the direction of Japan.  We have 50,000 service people stationed in Japan.  Today, the North Koreans have said that they were trying to hit Japan, even though the missiles fell short by 150 miles.  After the firing, we sent additional anti-missile defense weapons to South Korea.  Now the Chinese are claiming we are being aggressive and spoiling for a war.  I would say this is a biggie.  Especially in light of the fact that the Chinese are constructing artificial islands in the South China Sea and fortifying them as naval bases.  And…they are claiming the surrounding oceans as Chinese territorial waters.

China’s banks are financing much of the aggression that is being shown by not only the North Koreans, but by the Iranians.  They are lending money for the purchase of all types of weapons to whoever wants to borrow and purchase, including nations that sponsor terrorism.  Its nice that we continue to purchase Chinese made items so that their banking system can afford to finance the terrorists of the world.

Have you noticed how many times our ships have been buzzed by Iranian patrol boats in the Persian Gulf?  It seems to be happening more and more as the Iranians become more belligerent.  In the very near future, either they will fire on us or we will fire on them.  Then what?

Not to be outdone, those pesky Russians are buzzing our ships with their airplanes.   Much of this is to test the resolve of our new president.  Nothing happened to any of these nations over the last eight years and they are attempting to determine if they can continue their aggression unfettered.  After all, what decisive action did we take against Putin during his invasion of the Ukraine?

On the national front……………….

Have you seen anything of late about the national debt?  Apparently, our politicians and media are not concerned about a $20 trillion debt.  Maybe this debt sounds smaller if it is expressed as 20,000 billion dollars.  The ‘b’ sound is apparently less menacing than the ‘t’ sound.

Did you realize that after 46 days in office, President Trump is still missing four key individuals from his cabinet?  He is missing the Director of National Intelligence, the Secretaries of Labor and Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative.  It appears that with the Liberals fighting every step of the way, it will take longer for him to get his cabinet.  In comparison, Obama had 7 cabinet members confirmed on his inauguration day.  Then there is the Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.  Have you seen this guy’s credentials?  If he and Jesus had a contest to see who would get the least wet while walking across water….I think it would be close to a tie!  His confirmation should be a slam dunk, but will no doubt be contested.

Of course the biggest item in Washington today is the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  The Republican roll out is now available for scrutiny and there is no shortage of scrutiny.  At least it is one-tenth the length of the original act at 200+ pages versus 2,000+ pages.  With that in mind, it will be read before being passed into law.  Also, it is open to correction and amendment.  This was something not available for the original bill when the it was rammed down the throats of the American public.  I want to point out that health care is an entitlement and not a right.  Entitlements can be taken away.  This particular entitlement comes with a very expensive price tag.

So readers, I want you to scrutinize as to what is important and what is political and media grandstanding.  What is important for the country versus what is important to a politician to get reelected.  Those interests are not the same.  Be discriminating about national and world events. What is more important?  The way Kellyanne Conway sits on a couch or the fact that the North Koreans have fired four missiles at Japan?  Don’t fall into the shenanigans of the media and some politicians by ‘pole vaulting over mouse turds.’

Common Sense Applied to Campaign Promises. Are We On the Same Planet?

In the twentieth century, campaign slogans and campaign promises were much more simple than those of today.  In the 1900 presidential election, William McKinley used the slogan, ‘Four more years of the full dinner pail.’  How many millennials would even know what a dinner pail is?

In 1916, Woodrow Wilson’s big slogan was, ‘War in the east, peace in the west, thank God for Woodrow Wilson.’  Well, this slogan is interesting for two reasons: firstly, the US got involved with WWI one year later, and secondly, who today would include God in their campaign slogan?

The most famous campaign promise/slogan was used by Herbert Hoover in his 1928 election.  His famous slogan?  ‘A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.’  Now common sense would easily indicate that the Federal Government was not going to buy everyone a chicken and a car.  The gist of that slogan was that America would be so prosperous that everyone would be able to afford food and a car. It was still an era of self-sufficiency and independence in the US.   Well, like Wilson entering WWI, Hoover got thrown for a loop because of the stock market crash of 1929, less than a year after he took the oath of office.

Hoover lost the election to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1932.  FDR’s biggest campaign promise was to provide a ‘New Deal.’  FDR quickly turned on another one of his campaign promises….balancing the budget.   According to one historian, FDR issued in a government that created a ‘firm desire on the part of the American people to use the government as an agency of human welfare.’  FDR determined that balancing the federal budget was outweighed by what he termed, ‘government activism.’

Now we get to some of the more recent campaign issues and promises.

Have you seen the Hillary Clinton TV ad stating that she would tax corporations and wealthy individuals, as it is time for them to pay their fair share of taxes?  I have seen this ad too many times already.  But be that as it may, one thing has become evident, no one from her staff knows how to use a computer for research, … only for sending classified emails.  Here are the most current statistics, easily found by anyone who is familiar with using google.  The United States pays the highest federal corporate taxes of the 34 industrial nations of the world. The maximum federal corporate tax rate is 39%.  In the worldly picture, the US is tied with Puerto Rico, and only behind the United Arab Emirates (55%) and Chad (40%).  The US federal tax rate is 16 percentage points higher that the worldwide average of 22.8%.  (For my info junkies, the federal tax rate in Mexico is 30%)

But, just like the TV commercial, there is more.  There are also state corporate taxes.  Would you like to guess which state has the highest corporate tax rate?  New York?  California?  New Jersey?  All good guesses but the state with the highest corporate tax rate at 12% is……………..Iowa!  Yup, those Hawkeyes finally got to be #1 at something.  Four states levy a maximum state corporate tax rate higher than 9%.  Those states are Pennsylvania (9.99%), District of Columbia (9.4%), Minnesota (9.84%) and Alaska (9.4%)  Ohio, Texas and Washington forego state corporate taxes but instead impose gross receipt taxes on businesses.  Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming levy neither corporate income nor gross receipts taxes.  All the other states have a maximum corporate tax rate.

Here is an example of why US corporations are moving their headquarters and facilities out of the US.  Medtronic is located in Minnesota.  They make sophisticated medical devices.  Let us imagine that Medtronic makes $100 million profit in a year.  According to our present taxing structure, they would pay $39 million to the federal government and almost $10 to the state of Minnesota.  In round numbers, they pay $49 million in taxes and get to keep $51 million of their profit.  But wait….Medtronic is moving their entire operation to Ireland.  Why?  The new corporate tax rate is going to be 18%, with no state corporate taxes.  Under this scenario, they pay $18 million in taxes to Ireland and get to keep $82 million of their $100 million profit.

And Hillary Clinton wants to tax corporations more?

Let us take this one step further.  Do you know what percentage of federal tax receipts are attributable to corporations and what percentage are attributable to individual income taxes?  Here is a simplified breakdown of where the federal government gets its money:  Social insurance (payroll) taxes are 33.9%, excise taxes are 3.1%, Miscellaneous taxes account for 6.3%, corporate income taxes account for 10.6%, and individual income taxes account for a whooping 46.2% of federal tax revenue.   Would it be common sense to lower corporate tax rates to keep more companies within the United States, thereby creating more jobs?  If we would cut the corporate tax rate in half, would we not create more jobs?  Jobs that would provide more federal income to make up and exceed the difference in lost corporate taxes?

But wait, what are we going to do with all those high income tax payers that are not paying their fair share of taxes?  Well, here again, all those computers at Hillary’s campaign headquarters must be on the blink.  Did you know that the top 1% of the top wage earners in the United States, those people having an adjusted gross income (AGI) higher than $428,713, contribute 37.8% of the personal income taxes paid to the federal government.  The top 5%, those with an AGI greater than $179,760, pay 58.55% of the personal income taxes paid to the federal government.  The top 50% of the US wage earners, with an AGI greater than $36,841 contribute 97.22% of all federal personal income taxes.  Those 50% that are below $36,841 contribute 2.78% to federal personal income taxes. That’s right, 50% of the US population only pays 2.78% of the total federal income tax revenues.  So who pays their fair share of taxes????  There may be tax loopholes that need to be addressed, but if Hillary wants the higher wage earners to contribute more is she advocating a flat tax for everyone?  I doubt that.  That would be too much common sense for today’s political climate. (Remember Mitt Romney being castigated by mentioning that 47% of the population does not pay taxes?  All true.)

How about that campaign promise of free college for everyone.  OK all you college bound students, who will ultimately pay for your education?  That would be all of us, even though there are other ways to pay for school.  I know this is out of vogue, but you could begin working part-time jobs and start saving money.  I had one year of college paid for before I started.  There are scholarships and grants.  There are, heaven forbid, jobs to do while in college.  I did that as well and graduated without a college debt.  You could go into the military and gain use of the GI bill.  Viet Nam prompted my generation to make early life decisions, but until you know what you exactly want to do, why waste your money and flounder in college.  A little maturity goes a long way when it comes to life decisions.

In 2013, the average cost of tuition and fees in private colleges was $32,405.  In state resident public schools, tuition and fees averaged $9,410.  For out of state residents attending a public college, the tuition and fees averaged $23,893.  None of these costs include living expenses.  This year, there will be 21 million students attending college.  If the government were to pick up the tab at an average of $20,000 per student, that would cost, if my math is correct, $420 billion a year.  That would be almost 15% of our $3 trillion annual budget.  It would match our defense budget.   Oh, don’t forget, our federal deficit is almost $20 trillion and we are expecting a $600 billion shortfall for the 2016 budget.  So, do you members of the ‘give me a trophy for participating’ generation and the ‘I can’t work, I’m going on spring break’ generation really think the government should pay for your school?

We will build a wall.  How many times have we heard that recently?  I am neither a proponent or an opponent of this particular campaign promise.  But, having said that I would like to ask a question, “Would you get on an airplane without seeing everyone going through security?”   Not in today’s environment.  The same procedures apply if you want to board a cruise ship.  Your bags are taken and examined as well as your carry-on baggage.  So if we would not board a plane or a ship without going through stringent security, why would we oppose stopping illegal aliens and drugs from entering this country.  I have no problem with work permits or temporary visas, but everyone needs to be vetted.  I would hope some smart people could come up with a quick efficient way of granting work permits and temporary visas.

There are many more campaign promises and slogans circulating during this election year.  I just selected some of the juicier ones for review in this blog.  The next time a candidate comes up with something that smells a little fishy, all in the hopes of buying votes, do a little research.  I am sure your computers work just fine.