Why Do Democrats Hate the Working Class?

foodstampFor years the media has claimed that the mean old Conservatives (especially the Tea Party) only care about the rich, and don’t give a damn about anybody else.  Only progressive Democrats care about the poor, the average Joe, the “working class family.”

Huh?

Wasn’t it the Democrats who rammed ObamaCare through against the wishes of the majority of Americans?  This is the program that cuts the work hours of millions of “working class” employees, forces them to buy insurance that they don’t want or can’t afford, raises the cost of their existing insurance, or causes their employers to drop coverage.  Here’s a dirty little secret – most of the working poor who are not already on Medicaid are not going to buy their own insurance whether you threaten to punish them at tax time or not.  They don’t know how, won’t learn how, don’t pay taxes, and frankly aren’t interested.  They will still be getting their medical care at the nearest hospital emergency room – after all, the hospitals have not been relieved of the legal responsibility to care for everybody regardless of ability to pay.  Remind me again now, how does ObamaCare help the poor?

Wasn’t it the Democrats who fought like crazy to stop drilling and fracking and pipelines for oil and gas, and mining for coal – resources that would create millions of jobs, lower the cost of energy for all Americans, and get the economy back on track?  Instead they continue to print fiat money, devaluing the currency so the average Joe can’t even afford to put gas in the family wagon.

Wasn’t it the Democrats who refused to allow working-class families to choose the school that will best meet the needs of their children, and instead herds them into chronically under-performing, high-cost schools, wasting students’ time with ideological nonsense instead of teaching them how to make a living?  Don’t even get me started on Common Core.

Wasn’t it the Democrats who destroyed the manufacturing job base in our country by taxing our corporations at the highest rate in the world, making them move production facilities overseas?  We could straighten out our negative balance of trade and bring those jobs back in a few years with some intelligent management of tax rates and tariffs to level the playing field with China, who continues to eat our lunch and demand dessert.

Wasn’t it the Democrats who demanded amnesty for illegal aliens, and called for open borders so that the few available low-tech jobs open to Americans are even harder to get, and pay third-world wages?

Wasn’t it these same Democrats who destroyed the American family, the traditional work ethic, and the economy by replacing the role of working fathers with a huge and growing  “entitlement” culture?  Fewer than half of our citizens pay income tax, and one in five families is on food stamps.  Illegitimacy is normal now as single mothers no longer need to worry about feeding and housing their children.

The news media has been little more than a propaganda wing of the progressives for a long time.  All of their so-called “compassion” since the onset of LBJ’s Great Society has only resulted in more misery for the poor, the average Joe, the “working class.”  And they didn’t do it alone – some corrupt and self-serving liberal Republicans along the way did not exactly help the situation.

Conservatives do care about the poor, the average Joe, the “working class.”  We know that a functional free-market economy offers the best opportunity for everyone to succeed, and is healthy enough to care for those who deserve help.  History proves that heavy-handed, top-down, corrupt big-government enriches those few in control, and steals freedom, opportunity, and wealth from everyone else.

Next time some phony Beltway progressive politician or MSNBC lacky feigns outrage because “Conservatives don’t care about the poor”, you might hear a loud bang – that would be my head exploding.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

With you by my side
They can’t keep us down
Together we can make it baby
From the poor side of town

The Poor Side of Town – Johnny Rivers


Montanans Used To Tell “North Dakota Jokes”

In the 1970s we Montanans thought we had it going on, and we snickered about our poor sister state to the east.  The “North Dakota Joke” was all the rage back then, and we regaled each other with the latest North Dakota Jokes every morning over coffee. (Did you hear about the power outage at the University of North Dakota library?  Thirty students were stuck on the escalator for three hours!)

north-dakota-joke-bookA Great Falls radio jock made the North Dakota joke a staple of his programming and the focal point of his entertainment career.  He even published books of North Dakota jokes.  I still have one buried somewhere in my stuff.  They were the same old jokes that have mocked every sub-group (Polish, Hillbilly, Ole and Lena, etc.) for generations, except now recycled with “North Dakotan” as the subject of derision.

Times have changed.  North Dakota now occupies the top rung of the economic ladder, and Montana lags in the bottom quartile.  How did that happen?  Montana is richer in natural resources, with abundant coal, agricultural land, timber forests, mining, and tourist attractions.

All North Dakota has is some fertile black soil here and there, lots of snow, and the Bakken shale oil and natural gas reserve.  But the Bakken extends into eastern Montana, too.  And Montana has other proven reserves of shale oil and natural gas.  So one still must ask, why is North Dakota doing so well while Montana looks wistfully over the fence?

I have a friend from my adopted Montana hometown who is not well-educated, but is good with his hands and industrious.  He is a good mechanic, can weld, and is strong as an ox.  But even these attributes are not enough to make a good living for his young family, so like many of his fellow Montanans, he is headed east for work.  He said:

“I can make $12,000 a month in North Dakota, with no expenses.  Room and board are provided in a man-camp,  I work 28 days on and then get 14 days off.  Pretty long days, but I get paid weekly and get a bonus just for showing up.”

The difference between the two states?  Many would say it comes down to conservative values, work ethic, and plain-old common sense.

Montana changed dramatically over the 23 years from when I left the state for a corporate career to when I came back home to recharge in the beauty and character of the Big Sky.  It was a place where miners, loggers, and ranchers worked hard and played hard.  They loved the land and put it to good use.  An honest, fiercely independent bunch, they had little use for government interference, preferring to solve problems and seize opportunities on their own.

When I returned, some of those people were still here.  But I was astonished at the numbers and political reach of environmentalists, government bureaucrats, and zealous newcomers who wanted to recreate our state in the socially-conscious image of California or Washington.  “Diversity” and “sustainability” were now the order of the day.  As the federal government took a firmer grip on the administration of the state, as outside influence without benefit of Montana history and values grew, and as priorities shifted from creation of wealth to redistribution of it, Montana’s economy slid downhill like springtime snow in the high peaks.

Meanwhile, North Dakota just kept chugging along, taking care of its own and eschewing federal influence and controls.  When opportunity arose, North Dakotans seized the day.  “We’re very old-school pro-business here,” said Vicky Steiner, a Republican state representative who serves as executive director of the North Dakota Association of Oil and Gas Producing Counties. “In some states, people say ‘not in my back yard.’ Here, we believe that our resources should be developed.”

The political conflict in Montana continues, and the Big Sky state will take center stage in the 2014 federal elections.  The Obama administration is adamantly opposed to fossil fuel development, and virtually all Democrat officials – state and federal – tend to fall in lock-step.  Drilling, fracking, and pipelines are under assault.  The leftward lurch in Montana has been not economically favorable over the last few decades, and it remains to be seen if Montanans will stop or reverse the trend.

If not, we may soon be hearing “Montana Jokes” on a Bismarck radio station.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Don’t think I’m being funny when I say
You got just what you deserve
I can’t help feeling you found out today
You thought you were too good you had a lot of nerve

Laugh, Laugh – the Beau Brummels

Here’s a very short video of a very solid Bay-Area band from the mid-sixties.  Enjoy!

Top Priority: Gay Marriage? Get Serious!

gay marriage - photo from LA TimesHere we go again – the ruling class and the media avoid all of the big problems our nation faces by staging a mudfight over minutiae.

The bold type all last week was “gay marriage”.  According to the Census Bureau, gay couples constitute less than 1% of American households.  But most people think the number is 20% or greater.  Could it be because the Democrats constantly pound gay/lesbian rights as the most compelling issue of our time?

Among gay couples, how many want to be married?  Most heterosexual couples are not married, why would gays be any different?  If even half of gay couples actually want to be married, now we are talking about less than one half of one percent of US households.

I really don’t care if gays are married or not.  Actually I believe there are churches in every state which will perform the ceremony.  Regardless, THIS IS JUST NOT A BIG TICKET PRIORITY FOR OUR NATION.

The gay marriage issue may directly affect a few thousand people in the US, at most.  In comparison, how many Americans are unemployed or have dropped out of the work force?  How many are working ungodly hours, sacrificing family time to put food on the table and pay their taxes?  How many families struggle financially because the only work available is low-wage service jobs?  How many Americans have little or no savings and just squeak by, paycheck-to-paycheck?  How many families wait for a parent to return home from costly and dangerous military campaigns with no palpable objective?  How many suffer from medical crises, disabilities, substance abuse, and urban violence?

I guess our real unemployment rate of 11.3% is not important.  Our $17 trillion (and growing) debt just doesn’t matter.  Our nation’s declining status and security in an increasingly threatening and unstable international climate – who cares?  Gay Marriage!  That’s what really matters!

Come on.  Let’s get serious.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Let’s get serious
Let’s get serious
Let’s get serious
And fall in love

Let’s Get Serious – Jermaine Jackson

Here’s a cut by the “forgotten” Jackson,  Jermaine.   Damn good musician, and never seemed to have the personal drama that plagued his siblings, although he has had his share of marriages and flings.  He is now a devout Muslim and credits that for his calm demeanor.  Jermaine was nominated for a Grammy for this song.

Livin’ In a Land Down Under

kangaroosI spent a day with some friends from Australia last weekend.  It’s sad to say, but they were more engaged in and knowledgeable about American politics and economics than most fellow Yankees I meet.

We had riveting discussions comparing the political and economic situations of our two countries.  One thing became obvious right away – wage rates “down under” far exceed ours.  While the Aussie dollar and the American dollar are near parity, Australian laborers earn $25 or more per hour, while the norm in my American city seems to be about $12 per hour.  Australian professionals appear to earn considerably more than Americans do as well, but taxes take a pretty healthy bite, and prices are high on some items.

Our three guests were all government employees, yet they were very fiscally conservative.  One was a nurse who works for a government-owned and operated health care system.  She explained that citizens who purchase private health insurance can choose their own (presumably superior) doctors and care facilities.  No one is refused care at the public hospitals.

I was surprised to learn that the unions and government are combatants in Australia.  And my friends were shocked to hear about the circle of corruption in the US, where government employees’ unions get politicians elected in exchange for favors and more government jobs.  They wondered why they had not heard about some of the issues I presented, and I explained that for many years our news media have been bedfellows with the democrats, and their reporting is rigidly slanted in that direction (with the exception of Fox News, for whom my guests had no respect).  The Aussies are not impressed with the dearth of real news here, lamenting that they never hear their nation even mentioned in the media.

When we expressed our concerns about vote fraud in recent elections, especially in Montana, they described how their election system requires each citizen to vote – and failure to do so results in a hefty fine.  “We don’t use voting machines, it’s all done manually under great scrutiny,” we were told.

They weren’t pleased that their current prime minister, Julia Gillard of the Labor Party, was not elected by the people.  She assumed office in 2010 when her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, was ousted as the Labor Party leader.  “And she won’t be elected this September, either!”  they announced with firm resolve.  It bothered me greatly that until our visit I didn’t even know who the leader of Australia is.

We shared common concerns about the leftward (and downward) drift in education, and the over-reaching environmental movement.  They understood our worries about illegal immigration: “You mean your immigrants don’t have national identification cards?” they asked.  Of course their border is protected by a rather large ocean.

The big eye-opener for the Aussies was our commitment to the second amendment.  At age 30, one of our guests had never seen or touched a gun.  I showed her mine, and it was as if all the oxygen was sucked out of the room.  My wife and I explained concealed carry permits, and our belief in the fundamental right to protect ourselves, our families, and our property.  They insisted that the bad guys in Australia don’t have guns, so the good guys don’t need them either.  I hope they are right about that.  In our case, unilateral disarmament would be suicidal.

Our friends are well aware of the United States’ tenuous economic condition and our stifling $16 trillion dollar debt.  We pondered where is the “best place” to be, economically and politically, in a world where trouble lurks in every corner.

“We think we have it pretty straight,” they said.  I couldn’t disagree.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Livin’ in a land down under,
Where women glow and men plunder,
Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover!

Land Down Under – Men at Work

Change – Be Careful What You Wish For

obama_change_01I had an interesting conversation with a liberal this week – a junior manager who works very hard, earns a modest salary, and would like to improve his family’s standard of living.

Our business conversation had turned to the hesitancy on the part of business owners to invest.  “No one is willing to pull the trigger on any major spending in the current political climate,” I said.

My friend asked, “What does politics have to do with whether or not a business owner wants to invest?”

I pointed out that politics and economics are inseparable.  After all, the only thing a government can do is spend other people’s money.  Everything the government does affects the economic environment, and conversely, voters and supporters of candidates make decisions based on their own current financial situations.  Business owners are not confident right now that risking additional capital will provide them with any financial reward.

“Well I have always been a liberal,” my friend said.  “And I agree with you, nobody wants to spend for anything right now.”

I let him talk.

“Nobody wants to upgrade their facilities or hire more employees.  They just don’t know if customers will be able to afford to buy their products.”

I nodded.  Keep thinking, young man.

“You know,” he continued, “wages sure aren’t what they used to be – if you can find a job at all.  People can’t afford to buy houses and cars and other things because they just aren’t making enough money.”

He was on a roll.

“If nobody can afford to buy things, why would you want to build a new store or hire more people?” he concluded. “Times are tough.”

I wanted so badly to deliver my speech about how government waste, corruption and misguided overspending takes a huge bite out of our GDP and personal wealth.  About how government social policies discourage savings and personal responsibility.  About how federal fiscal policy has devalued our dollar, destroyed our balance of trade and built an insurmountable debt.  About how we have become a nation of undereducated, disengaged sheeple, victim to any media-savvy, slick-talking promiser-in-chief.

I wanted to ask, “So why are you a liberal?”  Instead, I shook my head and said, “Gee, I wonder what has changed?”

He didn’t answer.  But the concerned look on his face told me he knew.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet

Changes – David Bowie

If I Had a Million Dollars, I’d Live Like a Retired Govt. Worker

Richie_Rich_comic_No_1As a kid I thought it must really be something to be a millionaire.  We read “Richie Rich” comic books and imagined how cool it would be to live in a mansion, with servants and cooks and an indoor swimming pool.

Of course, it was the impossible dream.  Only a rare few Americans could ever be that rich, and they were born to wealthy families.  Still, back then, life was good for most Americans.  Dads went to work, paid the bills, bought modest homes and Chevies, and took the family on a summer road trip to Mount Rushmore.  Moms stayed home, raised the 2.1 kids, attended PTA meetings, and always had a hot, healthy meal ready when Dad came home from work.

What happened?

A million bucks sure isn’t what it used to be.  With CDs paying maybe 1% interest at best, those who worked hard and saved a million dollars can now look forward to a retirement income of – wow – $10,000 a year.  Add that to social security income, of course, but still.   No indoor swimming pool.  No servants.

And it’s not like there are other investment opportunities for retirees.   The only guys making money in the stock market are the hedge fund operators and the machine traders buying and selling at the speed of light.  Municipal bonds pay a couple percent and are tax free – oh that’s right, most city and county governments are bankrupt.

There is one group of really wealthy American retirees.   Retired unionized government workers get guaranteed pensions.  Most receive over $60,000 per year.  There are many government employees who toiled for 25 or 30 hard years, sometimes even working over 35 hours per week behind a hard, cold desk with only 7 weeks of vacation and 15 holidays off each year.  Poor souls, at retirement they must make do with $100k per year plus full medical benefits.

Do the math.  In order to pay a retired teacher $60k per year, we American taxpayers are putting up $6 million at 1% interest.  The retired county engineer who receives a $100k pension requires a taxpayer investment of $10 million to fund his checks.

In an economy where many moms and dads both work long hours and are barely able to feed their families, let alone save anything for retirement, it’s hard to feel sorry for government employees who will retire with multi-million dollar nest eggs.

When I see a headline like this:

Obama Sequester Speech: Republicans Are Putting Economy At Risk To Help The Wealthy

I shake my head in amazement at the level of deceit our President and his followers continue to get away with.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side
If I had a million dollars
We wouldn’t have to walk to the store
If I had a million dollars
We’d take a limousine cause it costs more
If I had a million dollars
We wouldn’t have to eat Kraft dinner

If I Had A Million Dollars – Barenaked Ladies

Marriage – Gay and Otherwise

We hear so much talk about gay marriage.  It was a major election issue.  Three more states approved it and others are working on it.  Many votes were based solely on a candidate’s position on gay marriage.

Before I go any further, let me go on the record.  My official position on gay marriage is:  I don’t care.  If two men or two women want to commit to each other, I think it’s great.  Is a law required?  I don’t know.  I do worry about kids without fathers, but that’s a separate issue.

With all the airtime, bandwidth, and hand-wringing over gay marriage, one would think it must be something important to the future of our nation.  Is it?  How many gay couples are clamoring to get married, anyway?  A thousand?  Ten thousand?  What impact does gay marriage have on our floundering economy, our national security, or our crushing debt?

Here’s an issue that has a HUGE impact on our floundering economy, our national security, and our crushing debt.  Heterosexual marriage. 

It is statistically undeniable that married couples and their children enjoy many advantages over singles.  And it is no accident that as the proportion of Americans who are married continues to decline, so does our economy.  As our economy declines, so does our national security.  And as individual economic performance declines due to the missing support structure of marriage, personal debt and dependence on government increase – resulting in seemingly unstoppable national deficits and debt.  Not to mention the other ills of poverty:  substance abuse, violence, undereducated and poorly-raised children.

Most married people are wealthier, healthier, happier and more productive than single people, especially single moms.  Most children from married families have a better life and future than single-parent kids.  I don’t even have to bore you with the statistics because it’s common sense and you know it’s true.

Our political leaders and entertainers either avoid or deny the importance of marriage.  In fact, our society has decided that cohabitation and single motherhood and the absence of commitment is just fine for heterosexuals.  But it is critically important that gays are married.

Enough already about gay marriage – why don’t we ever talk about the importance of MARRIAGE?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side
(thanks and hugs to my bride of 39 years)

Going to the chapel, and we’re gonna get married
Going to the chapel, and we’re gonna get married
Gee I really love you, and we’re gonna get married
Going to the chapel of love

Going To The Chapel of Love – the Dixie Cups