Saturday, May 30, 2009

Is Capitalism Dead in America?

That's the question Glenn Beck asked the other night of several people. No one wants to come out and take a firm stand saying it is. On the other hand, no one really wants to say it isn't. So, I'm taking a look at it today.

First, let's define capitalism. Hard to know what we are observing, if we don't know what it is. My simple Mac dictionary says, "an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state." Seems simple enough.

Right away my brain is reeling with the idea that private owners in our country are allowed to make a profit any more. At least, allowed to make it without having the liberal media and liberal congress screaming about how unfair and unAmerican profit is. Hey, the famous document says we are created with equal opportunities, not that we will take equal advantage of them!

I hear that a large majority of people who win millions in the lottery are bankrupt within a few years. Talk about wasting an opportunity! Being a wealth-creator, let alone a wealth-preserver, takes a mind-set that many of us just don't have. We can redistribute the wealth all we want, but it's going to keep going back to those who know how to get it to work for them. The answer seems to me to be in educating people in the principles of capitalism, rather than penalizing those who understand them.

So, let's take a look at our country. Is private ownership of business still the norm? I think we'd all have to say that, for now, it is. There are still plenty of businesses, large and small, as well as in between, which are owned privately or traded on the stock exchange by revolving door owners.

It is, nevertheless, a red flag to see the government becoming part-owner in banks, auto companies, financial institutions of various types, and gaining an interest in more and more areas, such as health care. A fast look at the post office, which I find always delivers my mail, and I mail a lot, and which has the very best people at the local level, usually, shows that it isn't run profitably.

"The recession accelerated declines in mail volume in fiscal year 2008 and flattened revenues despite postal rate increases. That year, mail volume fell by 9.5 billion pieces, or 4.5 percent, and resulted in a net loss of $2.8 billion as the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) cost-cutting did not close the gap between revenues and expenses." U. S. Government Office of Accountability (GAO)

Look at their solutions: "In the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, Congress recognized USPS has more facilities than it needs and strongly encouraged streamlining its networks. Rightsizing will require continued congressional support for necessary closures and USPS leadership to address resistance to change. Other options that could help USPS remain financially viable involve difficult trade-offs, including (1) deferring USPS payments for retiree health benefits, which would increase the unfunded retiree health benefit obligation; (2) reducing the frequency of 6-day delivery, which would affect a key aspect of universal service and could further accelerate mail volume decline; (3) downgrading delivery standards, which could affect time-sensitive mail; (4) raising statutory debt limits, which could further exacerbate USPS's financial difficulties in the future; and (5) providing direct appropriations, which would be contrary to the fundamental principle that USPS remain financially self-supporting. Finally, GAO is closely monitoring USPS's financial viability to determine whether to add USPS's need for restructuring to GAO's High-Risk List."

Rightsizing? What kind of term is that? It's another in the long list of new vocabulary designed to spin the news to sound less negative than it actually is. Why doesn't the government just come out and say what it means? You notice that each solution has with it a negative consequence?

We could take a look at Amtrak and find similar problems and statements. The latest report I could find on GAO was January, 2007. It said this, "The future of intercity passenger rail service in the United States has come to a critical juncture. The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) continues to rely heavily on federal subsidies--over $1 billion annually in recent years--and operating losses have remained high. In addition, Amtrak will require billions of dollars to address deferred maintenance and achieve a "state of good repair." These needs for Amtrak come at a time when the nation faces long-term fiscal challenges."

Okay, does anyone think it's a good idea to have the government in charge of health care? Of auto manufacturing, especially in conjunction with the unions? Or of any other businesses? We could look at example after example of government-run business, including our own national budget, which has soared into debt worse than it already was, since Obama took over. It was bad enough under Bush, but now it's a total disaster. We cannot spend our way out of debt!

Nor can we tax our way out of it. We are already taking, from those who create wealth, an unconscionable amount of money in various taxes. I don't think anyone minds paying taxes for the things the federal government is supposed to be overseeing, such as national highways and national defense. However, the federal government has gone far beyond the powers granted to them by congress. All three branches of our government are out of control. I don't think any of our founding fathers ever guessed they would all go out of whack at the same time!

If we continued to tax producers to pay for non-producers, there's only one possible outcome. The pool of producers will become smaller and smaller until it totally disappears. America is heading down that road right this very minute. Capitalism is being vilified, marginalized through liberal diatribe, and demonized. In other words, the government is eating its money producing system. Not money printing, money producing! It is becoming more and more "shameful" to make a decent profit in the almost non-existent free market, at the very time when America needs money the most.

So, are we still a capitalist country? I think we are, barely, today on May 30, 2009. How long we'll be able to say that remains to be seen. There's a very disturbing trend in this country that was forecast decades ago when Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged. I first read it more than 30 years ago, and it seemed total fiction to me. I couldn't see where we were going then. I hadn't studied enough history. Now, it's obvious to anyone who reads the book. We aren't going there. We are there. And Atlas, in the form of those who are innovative and productive, is going to begin that shrug any time now.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name

With apologies to Shakespeare, I have to wonder if, in today's political arena, a rose by any other name is still a rose. It seems that everyone in politics is hiring people to tell them how to 'spin' things, and doing public opinion polls to find out the most acceptable terms to use.

Let's just take the concept of global warming, for instance. That term is out, and has been for a couple of months. There was just too much negative response attached to it, even though Al Gore said the debate on it was over. (How can debate on anything ever be over?)

Next it was called climate change. Who can argue with that? Climate does change, but the term, as used by liberals, implies and presumes that the changes are caused by people, and what we do. Science shows that less than 1% of any possible problems are caused by the actions of people living on the planet. That is not to say there isn't a climate change, just that we aren't causing it or having a big impact on it.

"Just one recent example came from the United-Nations sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC summary report was approved by attending environmental scientists, many of whom said there was no long-term global warming -- which indeed much data corroborate -- that current temperature fluctuations are within historical norms and that there is no concrete evidence of mankind's activity affecting global climate -- i.e. no global warming. Quite a jump from the "most scientists believe the sky is falling" heard every day.

When the report was published, numerous pages had been deliberately tampered with. All dissenting views and evidence been systematically removed giving the impression that scientists were in agreement that global warming was upon us. The dissenting scientists were furious at the blatant unscientific fraud and their protest erupted into the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal." John Loeffler, Colorado Christian News, Nov. 1996

This experience was repeated in last fall's conference in New York, in a slightly different way. Over 400 scientists who protest that 'global warming' is not the danger insisted on by the Al Gore contingent met for a conference. It was covered by two journalists, one from the Wall Street Journal, and the other Glenn Beck, who says he isn't a journalist, really. Where was the main stream media? Absent without calling in.

We're hearing a lot more about 'green' and a lot less about 'environmentally friendly' these days. Personally, I'm already sick of the term green and it totally makes me want to go run my gas powered chainsaw through the forest and then get in my SUV and drive across the country.

Now we're being told that carbon dioxide, which we all breathe out, and which trees and other plants need to survive, is a toxic substance. It's even been proposed that fat people breath out more, so they should be taxed. And does anyone really understand what cap and trade is? (For a good explanation, see this article. Note the bottom line - money!) Is anyone thinking about this?

When we take a look at these concepts, whatever language they use, to find the basis in science, we find what we used to call weasel words. "Most scientists believe," for instance, instead of a fact. When did people believing something make it a fact? Hundreds of millions in this country believe in God, and yet no one who doesn't will accept his existence as a fact based on that.

Evidence opposed to what the liberal government wishes us to think is ignored. Thank goodness for Fox news, or I'd be depending on internet blogs for a few meager facts about almost everything. Or, Heaven forbid, falling for the liberal line. So much of it sounds reasonable, and some of it is. However, the tactics are growing more and more suspect, as time goes by.

If one thinks that consensus of belief is reason enough to push on, perhaps we are doomed. Those very people who want to "save the environment," may be doing the entirely wrong things, but no one is looking at the facts of the case to find out.

I absolutely believe in preserving the rainforest (as well as the desert, the tundra, and every other geographic setting), doing our best to keep animals from going extinct, when it's possible, and being good stewards of the earth. That's our commandment from God. What I don't believe in is getting in a panic over things.

Species die out. They did before humans came along, and they will after we've met our own demise. Geography changes. Where we camp in mountain forests now, it used to be the bottom of salty oceans, and you can still find tiny seashells and fossils. At another time it was swampy. Change happens. Human beings do what they can to resist it, whether it's for good or ill.

If you want to save a species, let's talk about saving that species. If you want to improve air quality, then let's talk about that. Let's work together to see what, in the rational world is possible. Let's not make sweeping legislation that denies human beings their lives. Let's not fix things that aren't broken, or that won't matter. Let's reason together, not panic. Let's use honest, open language that says what it means. For Heaven's sake, let's call a spade a spade, and not an environmental weapon.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What is happening to our the Church?

I have to take a break from working on a birthday gift for my grandson to talk about something that is on my mind.

I am frustrated that I can not find a church to go to. There are not many churches around that meet what I believe is a Biblical standard.

We have a little church here in our community that falls short in a couple of ways, ways that keep me from attending.

#1 on my list is of course that the Bible is being taught. Now a days that is pretty hard to find. It is not necessarily that they are not teaching the right thing. It is what they are omitting because of their alignment with the government. How are they aligned with the government? Anytime your taking a concession from the government you are aligned. So churches that are tax exempt are under the rule of the ones who have given them this concession. Just as an example, House agrees to muzzle pastors with 'hate crimes' plan

Of course this is just one of many things over the years that the government through the IRS and tax exempt statics has implemented. About 6 years ago I saw an ad in the newspaper warning pastors not to preach about the political candidates in their churches, this was sighed by the IRS. So if a church has a tax exempt statics how can they be preaching ALL of the Word of God.?

#2 it is also hard to find a church that adheres to the Word these days. They put questionable people in as pastors, sometimes there is no question to these people not being Godly according to the Bible.

The churches also do not follow the Bibles teaching on being debt free, all to become big program infested social centers. Now I know we need to reach different age groups and all of that is good, but when a church only wants numbers and is willing to go deeply in debt to achieve the goal. The Bible tells us to be in debt to no one, for those who we are in debt to become our master and we their slave. We can only serve one master.

The newest thing is Twittering at church. It appears this is the new trend, call me old fashioned, but I can not hear the pastor if I am concentrating on twittering. This is not God's word being taught, it is a distraction. Now perhaps after service, it might be a good way to witness or help someone else.

The Bible says that in the end days that churches will fall away, they will be more concerned about not offending the people who attend, it will tickle their ears. I see it.

I would like a church that has not fallen away, but I don't see any that follow God's word in my neck of the woods. I know there are churches that are truly God's, they are not a government corporation. Oh I have heard all the reasons for incorporating, but I do not buy it. A corporation is something you get by asking permission to exist, once you ask permission and your granted said permission, with all the perks, you get to play by their rules.

I am thankful that my relationship with God does not depend on having a church to attend. I am thankful that what I have is faith and it is personal, not dependent on anyone else. I thank God for sending his Son, Jesus Christ to die for my sins, and that by accepting that fact through faith I have eternal life with God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

If you would like to have the assurance of an eternity with God can pray this prayer.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ to die for my sins. I am a sinner Father and I ask your forgiveness and ask that Jesus would come into my life and cleanse me of sin. I know I fall short of your glory, but through Jesus I can have eternal life with you. Thank you Father, in Jesus Name. Amen.

If you have prayed this prayer, please let us know, so we can pray for you and help you on you walk with Him.

If you don't want to pray to accept Jesus, that is your choice and yours alone, no one is going to force you, you are free to make that choice. I just wish people would accept my rights too, and stop trying to take my right to religious freedom away. The trend is to silence Christians, so I am speaking up. I pray that the Holy Spirit will work today through this post.

In Jesus Name.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

How Green Is Your Valley?

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time." That was Abraham Lincoln's opinion, anyway.

George Hull, competitor of Mr. P. T. Barnum, thought differently. "There's a sucker born every minute."

Maybe neither of them is far off the mark these days, at least when it comes to "green" ideas and the "global warming" controversy. Facts seem to be few and far between as environmentalists on both sides of the political arena push their agendas for changing the way America does business and how it lives and drives.

I don't think I have the energy today (wind or solar or ethanol) to argue the "global warming" controversy. Suffice it to say that evidence doesn't support Al Gore's campaign to make us believe that the earth is growing dangerously warm and we are all headed for doom.

No, today, I want to bring to light some facts about the "greening of America," facts which main stream media sources seem set on ignoring. One source for my information is Newsweek Magazine, anything but a left wing organ of news. Robert Samuelson wrote the article April 27, 2009, so it's almost hot off the press.

"Here's a typical claim, from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF):

" 'For about a dime a day [per person], we can solve climate change, invest in a clean energy future, and save billions in imported oil.'

"This sounds too good to be true, because it is. About four-fifths of the world's and America's energy comes from fossil fuels—oil, coal, natural gas—which are also the largest source of man-made carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas. The goal is to eliminate fossil fuels or suppress their CO2. The bill now being considered in the House would mandate a 42 percent decline in greenhouse emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels and an 83 percent drop by 2050."

A dime a day? Really? Who did the math on that one? If you read the entire article, you find that the projects for dropping the levels by that much are totally unrealistic, not to mention expensive and maybe impossible.

"One estimate done by economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that meeting most transportation needs in 2050 with locally produced bio-fuels would require '500 million acres of U.S. land—more than the total of current U.S. cropland.' "

That's for one alternative, bio-fuel. Even Sen. Thune of SD, my own senator, says that half of SD farmers are invested in raising corn for ethanol, so it is a good idea. No, it isn't. Remember when your mother used to ask, "If Jane jumped off the roof, would you jump, too?" Just because farmers in SD are putting all their eggs in one basket doesn't mean it's a smart move! Ethanol isn't the answer, so keep looking for one.

The article concludes, "The selling of the green economy involves much economic make-believe. Environmentalists not only maximize the dangers of global warming—from rising sea levels to advancing tropical diseases—they also minimize the costs of dealing with it...."

And therein lie two really important reasons why we shouldn't rush into passing bills like the one being considered. We don't have enough information! Or we aren't looking at the information, when we do have it.

So what are some facts we could look into? How about we take a good look at Spain. Spain has invested a number of years, and billions of dollars in turning their country green. On March 27, reported on a study done by a Spanish professor at King Juan Carlos University (ranked 1189 in the world ~ compare Oxford at 11, University of AZ at 81, Harvard at 2 and Princeton at 9 ~ still a respectable top 14% of 8750 Universities world wide), Gabriel Calzada. A few days ago, Glenn Beck had him on to discuss his findings, as well. He's a very personable young man who speaks excellent English. There was no difficulty understanding what his study discovered.

Here are some facts the study uncovered in Spain:

  • For each green job, 2.2 jobs in other industries disappeared.

  • In Spain, where wind turbines provided 11 percent of power demand last year, generators earn rates as much as 11 times more for renewable energy compared with burning fossil fuels.

  • The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power - - which are charged to consumers in their bills -- translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000....

  • “The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,” Calzada said in an interview.

The reason I picked up on the interviews and Spain is that it is the country the greenies point to with pride. This is the example they say we should follow.

If you look up on or and put in the search string "Cost of going green," you will find dozens of articles on how to turn yourself, your home, your car, and your business "environmentally responsible." You'll find very few offering the facts that go with making that choice.

People are *not* killing the earth. There were climate changes before people ever rose to power over the earth. There will be climate changes after we are gone on to other parts of the universe. I'm not saying don't recycle. I'm not saying don't use efficient appliances, or cars that provide better mileage. I am saying approach the "green" issue with caution and keep your eyes open. You could easily find yourself jumping off the roof right after Jane . . . er, Spain.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Right Wing Extremists

A quick note to let you know that you can download the Dept. of Homeland Security's memo on signs of a right wing extremist and read it for yourself. This is a more detailed memo than the one which caused the brouhaha on April 7. There are .pdf download links in this Washington Times news article and in Raw Story's May 1 post.

See if you qualify.

100 Day Verdict

So what's the nation's verdict on the first 100 days of the great Savior of America? There seems to be some difference of opinion on that. Let's see who says what.

U S News grades the stimulus package effectiveness. It says it's really too early to be sure, but . . . . You know when there's a but, there are weasel words coming.

A quote: "But there are some promising signs. Paychecks are receiving bumps from the Making Work Pay tax credit, and one major pot of funds—$53.6 billion in aid to states, 82 percent of which must be used for education—started flowing when California received nearly $4 billion in mid-April. Government officials also have reported that many projects are costing them less than expected, as contractors, crunched for cash, compete fiercely for the work."

Excuse me, but that last sounds like desperation, not success, to me. To be fair, the article does mention some problems. The speed of money being spent is too slow, in spite of the President's evaluation that "this government effort is coming in ahead of schedule and under budget."

"We're losing perspective about how much is actually getting accomplished," says Bill Gale, the director of the Brookings Institution's economic studies program. Well, yes, that would be a problem, wouldn't it?

Another quote: One change that critics would like to see is better systems to stop waste before it starts, rather than relying on investigations and other mechanisms that kick in after the spending occurs. David Walker, the former head of the GAO, says that this was a key lesson from the first bank bailout legislation passed under the Bush administration. "We wasted tens of billions of dollars because we didn't have clearly defined criteria, objectives, and conditions," says Walker, who now runs the fiscally conservative Peter G. Peterson Foundation. "We don't want the same thing to happen."

All in all, the article leaves the question of success on this issue totally open.

CBS News has an article about the first 100 days grades. You can see if you agree or disagree. "Today is President Obama's 100th day in office, and we asked The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder, CBS News' chief political consultant, to grade the president's performance on a variety of policy areas." I have to disagree with much of it. I definitely wouldn't give Obama an A on World Affairs! Be sure to grade him yourself so you get a list of how others are seeing things. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he's not getting a pass on everything by everyone. It may actually reflect a fairly honest expression of citizen's opinions.

Rush Limbaugh explains why you can't give Obama an F now. It makes sense! A caller, who is an unemployed baker, made some interesting points. Limbaugh gives him a D, basically. Not a surprise there. At the foot of the page, there are links to articles in Newsmax, National Review, American Thinker and Heritage Foundation. Well worth taking a look.

If you understand economic speak, try CNBC's Mad Money article which analyzes the stock market response to what's happened in 100 days.

I obviously don't understand economic speak. After saying that the stocks we depend on as a hedge against recession are all down, and GM has lost 41% (which is supposed to be a good thing, because Obama is now going to let it fail - if you call Government ownership failure, which I actually do, but not "real" failure, not the kind of failure you and I would experience if our personal finances were as bad as GM's), and other negative indications, it says this.

"These factors combined are enough for Cramer to give President Obama two thumbs up for his first 100 days in office. Stocks are much better judge of performance, he said, than any pundit. And the message these stocks are sending is loud and clear." Well, not so much, to those of us who are looking at losing our investments right and left.

Peter Feaver in Shadow Government gives him and his team "a respectable B-." This is a foreign policy grade only. He does point out that certain things, Iraq for example, are not greatly different than the policies of Bush. I agree with that, but there's more to his foreign policy decisions than Iraq. However, he makes intelligent points for his view, and it's worth reading.

Campaign Spot gives an impressive 18 promises that have been broken in the first 100 days. Read them to see if you remember the promise, and see where it was broken. If you click on links, you may find more double-speak.

Time has an article which headlines Obama's "impressive performance" in the 100 days. Here are two quotes from that one. "His (Obama's) house built on rock had five pillars — new rules for Wall Street, new initiatives in education, alternative energy and health care, and eventually budget savings that would bring down the national debt . . . ." and, "The most important thing we now know about Barack Obama, after nearly 100 days in office, is that he means to confront that way of life directly and profoundly . . . ."

I think that's a fair balance on both sides of the question of how Obama did in his first 100 days. If you wonder how I chose the sites, I used dogpile with the search string "Grading Obama's 100 Days." Then I went down the list and picked the first ones which seemed to be actual news and not someone's blog, how to buy Obama's 100 days on bizrate, or something about grading in construction. Try the string for yourself to find more sites.

So why did I do this? I wanted to check my own temperature. See if I'm standing alone in the field, or if there are others out here on the fringe lunatic edge with me. (For those who had their sense of humor chip removed, that was a joke from a Bible-hugging, gun-toting, independent-voting, 'Don't Tread on Me'-loving, citizen.) It turns out that I'm not alone out here. Yay!