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Showing posts from April, 2013

Compassionate Conservative

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I am trying to be detached. I am a Republican who has taken a sabbatical until my party gets back to being what George Bush called a compassionate conservative. This is one who believes in free enterprise, competition and having a strong government to control free markets. These conservatives also recognize there are some objectives of society that are better overseen by government rather than the private sector. My Republican party recognizes free markets purpose is to help meet the needs of society. Society is not here to meet the needs of free markets. Therefore, government has the responsibility of being a fair referee ensuring our markets are indeed free and not controlled by a few entities depriving society of the wonders of competition. Many conservatives today forgot what Milton and Rose Friedman in their book, Capitalism and Freedom, said of the role of government in a free society. “…But we cannot rely on custom or conscious alone to interpret and enforce the rules; we

Affirmative Action And The Poor

Affirmative action is needed less for the color of your skin than the size of your wallet. This is especially true in a society when income is skewed because of government not enforcing antitrust laws against oligopolies and near monopolies. Affirmative action was created in the sixties and seventies of the last century because the nation recognized giving rights, that they deserved for two centuries, to an oppressed race did not put them on equal footing to compete with the predominant white race. There are few things, if any, that are a better investment for this country than our children’s education. It is time to provide the first two years of college or trade school at no cost and paid by the taxpayer. Public education in this country evolved over time. At the founding of the country, every family was on its own. The country’s’ economy was primarily agrarian and farming was not too scientific with little mechanization. As the country developed and modernized, its eco

Austerity Gaff!

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Let's bring this argument between two economic theoreticians into the real world.  Keynesian Economics has lost some credibility in the real world not because of the theory, but rather how politicians have used it in practice over the past 3 or 4 decades. Austerity has become popular because politicians are not willing to admit  they have misused economic theory advocated by Keynes. Keynes advocates government spending in recessions to offset the decrease in demand from the private sector. Keynes also advocates the paying down of government debt during good times in the public sector. During the last 40 years our politicians were happy to take credit for the government picking up the slack in slow times and reluctant to go to the voter in good times and say it was time to pay back the money Uncle Sam spent to spur the economy during the recession. It is time for the politicians to go to the woodshed and admit their errors. It is not time to compound the consequences of

Great Bank Heist!

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During the period leading up to the collapse of the economy that reached a crescendo in the fall of 2008, we got trapped into thinking bad credit decisions could be overcome with good collateral. Those of us tied to the mortgage industry saw the poor loan underwriting that added , or maybe even created, the housing bubble. The mortgage broker did not look beyond his own wallet. The loan he originated smelled but if the loan servicer that he sold the loan to was willing to pay a good price, what did he care. The loan servicer had to wear a gas mask to protect himself from the stench of the loan he just purchased, but if Goldman Sachs was willing to purchase it from him at a good price, what did he care. The loan servicer unloaded the risk and made a good profit.

Michigan School Performance

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In the Detroit Free Press Editorial on April 21, 2013 titled Michigan's Public Education System Getting Schooled By Other States on education it says "Edtrust suggests rethinking the school funding formula in a big way, focusing on getting more money to successful programs, and weighting funding to provide more resources, not fewer, to schools that serve at-risk kids." This gets back to funding. If you do what Entrust suggest where does the funds come from? Either more revenues are needed or funds are taken from the schools in the middle. We need to stop talking and get serious. Our society demands both parents work outside of the home. That means there is less time for the parents to spend with their child on education. This is exasperated by the number of single parent households and poverty. Snyder is right in wanting to focus on preschool and early school education and this will cost more money; there is no way around it. We need smaller class sizes in pre-

Republican Party

Obama did not win this election. The Republicans lost it. Many Republicans like myself could not support the candidates the party selected in the primaries to win the minds of the Tea Party. Reflect on the candidates the Republicans put up; Cain, Santorum,  Bachmann,  Gingrich, Perry and Romney. Go back and listen to the rhetoric. A moderate like myself had no choice but to leave. It started for me when McCain chose Palin as his running mate in a desperate move. It backfired. If Republicans go back to being a party comprised of of moderate conservatives like myself, it will lose the Tea Party. They need to choose. Choose wisely. Along the way, the Republicans need to push Rove to the rear bumper on the bus.

Guns and Fourth Branch of Government

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It was the fourth branch of government that defeated the bill proposing universal background checks for anyone purchasing a gun. They accomplished this even though 90% of citizens were in favor of such legislation. This fourth branch is in the shadows and it is not controlled by the voters. Instead, it is controlled by money coming from special interest groups such as the National Rifle Association, the President's "Organize For Action", the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Citizens United, all labor union PACS and approximately 4,600 other political action committees. In the case of PAC's, they in theory represent a group of voters who are supporting the PAC. This creates a problem that: 1). Not every voter belongs to a PAC and 2) Not all PAC's are created equal. The more money the PAC has, the more influence they have. Further, the more one contributes to a PAC, the more influence that person has over the PAC. Making things worse, these organizations have

The Shackles of Obama

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Obama has been evolving, some would say growing, since his election in 2008. I have voted for every President since 1968 and he is the first Democratic Presidential nominee receiving my vote. I did so as much for who the Republicans nominated as I did because I thought Obama would make a good President. I still do not regret voting for him. His evolution was required because of his lack of experience in governing, managing, horse trading and his nature to be reserved. This inexperience cost us. I really believe after his inauguration in 2009, when Michelle and he went to bed, he turned to her and said, "Damn, what do I do now?" I also believe he was under tremendous pressure from the ghost of Ted Kennedy to get something passed on health care. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid got the same pressure from the same ghost. The health care agenda cost the country dearly; not in terms of what was eventually passed, but rather in the time, energy and emotions of the country that

Torture In Iraq and Dirty Harry

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It is easy to condemn torture until your life, or the life of a loved one, is on the line. When torture is condemned I often think of a very old "Dirty Harry" movie; the one where an insane person has an 8 year old child buried alive and if they do not find her quickly she will die. Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood, captures the perpetrator and tortures him resulting in the little girls life being saved. After 911 I was cheering for Dirty Harry. It is easy to be against torture until it gets personal. I was not a fan of Dick Cheney and George Bush but in the case of 911 they did what they had to do. As time passes torture is needed less, however it may rise again. Remember, after World War II all of the individuals charged with crimes against humanity were on the losing side of the war. Just think if we would have lost to Japan.

Baby Boomers Vs Millennials

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Welcome to the new reality; generational competition. The world is getting more economically competitive and so will generations against each other. It should be obvious to everyone we cannot do everything we want for everyone. The world's middle class is growing rapidly and most of the growth is happening outside the United States in places like China, India, Russia and Brazil. Other regions of the world are also advancing including South Africa, other parts of Asia, South America and Central America. This is going to put significant pressure on our citizens to maintain their standard of living. It starts today with the United States needing to evaluate its priorities and to figure out how we optimize  our greatest resource, our citizens. For the sake of our future, do we spend more on preparing younger generations to compete or do we maintain or increase the living standards of the retired or soon to be retired generations? The obvious first step is to get more efficient a

We Squabble As World Speeds By

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Letting free markets cure their own ills would be like my Dad letting my brother and I continue fighting and thinking everything will work out. The problem with this philosophy is one may end up needlessly seriously injured. Intervention by government should not be a bad thing. The key obviously is to do it right and I agree this is not always the case. What gets in the way is politics. It is easy for politicians to scream for a stimulus when the economy is weak. They are too afraid of losing votes by demanding debt be paid down when times improve. This happens on both sides of the aisle. Today we are too focused inward and not taking into account what is happening in the rest of the world. It is expected that in 17 years China will have the largest economy. By 2030, China will have 200 million college graduates—more than the entire U.S. workforce. We should be investing in our future now by upgrading our infrastructure, improving our education system and doing more research and

Failings of Keynes and Politicians.

In order for Keynesian Economics to work we need politicians with intestinal fortitude willing to do what is right for the long-term viability of the economy. Often what is right is a bitter pill to swallow and temporarily may upset the politicians voter base. Part of our misconception about golds' value results from a poor track record of implementing Keynesian Economics. The public and politicians only hear about Keynesian Economics when the economy turns downward. Economists may talk about it at other times, however the rest of us, including our political leaders, don't listen. It is when an economy is in a recession or near depression when the market debates whether the government should intervene and stimulate. When is the last time you heard a drum beat from politicians saying we need to restrain an overheated economy by paying down debt previously created to stimulate? Yes, there are a few articles and/or speeches by economic professors sending out messages that we

Thatcher

I remember the days of Reagan/Thatcher as upbeat and positive times, whatever the cause. We felt the country was moving forward past Vietnam, the Iranian hostage situation, the high inflation of the '70's and the USSR was crumbling. That positive attitude is now lacking. It is lacking because we have little confidence in our leaders including congress and the President.. We are disgusted with the corruption of money in politics. We are disgusted because there were serious crimes committed causing the housing crisis that led to the meltdown in 2008 and no one was held accountable and sent to prison. Instead of these culprits being punished they were bailed out by our government and given raises. We are recognizing that the millennial generation, our children,  may be the first generation since at least World War II to face the prospect that they live in a country that will not be the wealthiest financially, the strongest militarily, and the most respected globally. Lookin

Marginalization of Republicans

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No place in the article appearing in the April 7, 2012 edition of the New York Times  Obama Must Walk Fine Line as Congress Takes Up Agenda , does it mention that the Republicans are trying to craft legislation that is in the best interest of the country. Instead, it discusses the Republicans perceptions of what is in the best interest of the party and how this is blocking efforts to pass legislation. As long as voters believe this to be the case, the Republican party is doomed to fail. The Republicans take this view because the voter has been marginalized by big money campaign contributions. Until we take back our government from big money we will continue to suffer and decline as a nation.

Free Markets Vs Capitalism

I learned not everyone defines capitalism and free markets the same. I discovered this while writing a blog, freefreemarkets.com, since the economic meltdown of 2008. For me they are the same, markets operating under the model defined in Adam Smith's book in 1776 called Wealth of Nations. For others the two concepts are different. Society selects an economic model based on its objectives, an economic model does not select a society to best meet its goals. I recently got into a fun debate with a young lady attending Harvard where I was defending free markets while saying one the greatest impediments to free markets meeting the needs to society was our government being derelict in its role as the "umpire" to free markets. My debate opponent kept coming back to me and saying by definition a free market does not have a regulator and set of rules to follow and therefore such markets are not bound by the objectives of society. At the end of the day, both of us did agree th

Millennial Reality

The millennial generation may be the first generation since at least World War II to face the prospect that they live in a country that will not be the wealthiest financially, the strongest militarily, and the most respected globally. In the year 2000 65% of worldwide middle class consumption was done by citizens living in Europe, United States and Japan. By the year 2030 the percentage of middle class consumption in these countries is expected to fall to approximately 15% of the total. Over the same time period, the percentage of middle class consumption in the United States alone is expected to fall from 23% to around 5%. (See the chart included in the link below.) Presently our defense budget is $711 billion while China's is $150 billion. Our military budget is equal to the 13 countries with the next largest military budgets combined. Ours is not sustainable while China's is expected to increase. We no longer can be the military for all of the "free world".

Ending Political Corruption

Elections controlled by the rich is not the way to run a country of the people, by the people and for the people. In politics money corrupts and significant money corrupts significantly. We know what to do; we don't know how to do it. Here are some ideas. 1. Reverse Citizens United with an amendment to the constitution. 2. Allow a President to only be in office for one six year term. 3. Prohibit a department head in the federal government from working for anyone in the industry which he/she is regulating for seven years after leaving government. 4. Create a tax payer based method to finance election campaigns. 5. Prohibit politicians from spending any tax-payer funded campaign dollars prior to six moths before the upcoming election. This is like giving them a paid leave of absence to find another job.  (We are not only spending too much money on campaigns, we are granting too much time to our elected officials on their re-election efforts.) Our democracy is in the balance.

Detroit's Opportunity

Detroit's City Council has authority to meet if Kevyn Orr, the Emergency Financial Manager, says they do. I hope he allows them to contribute to the recovery of Detroit. He should be coordinating his efforts to revive the city with the Council and the Mayor who were elected by the citizens of Detroit. The Council must also recognize they now serve the citizens only as long as Mr. Orr deems fit. They need to understand they can only help the city if they work with Mr.Orr. Any disagreements they have with Orr should be discussed in closed door sessions and the same is true of the new EFM. It is called teamwork and Orr is the team leader. Everyone benefits if the EFM, Mayor and City Council can all work together to solve the problem. Mr. Orr must not get a "Caesar Complex" and think he will not benefit from their input. The city officials must recognize their new advisory role and do what they can to make things work. This can work. I am not making light of the bitter