Mulvaney Set to Drain the Swamp

mulvaney-alligatorFor a long time I have suspected that because liberals see everything through the prism of skin color, they assume conservatives do too, and are therefore racists.

Only recently have I realized that the same is true of political corruption.  Liberals think that conservatives who run for office or accept administrative posts must be doing it to enrich themselves unethically because that’s what they, the liberals, do – or would do, given the chance.

For instance, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) excoriated HHS nominee Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) during his hearing for a $300 profit he made on a stock purchase in a company that benefited from a ruling his committee made.  Her condescending rebuke was designed to paint Price as a monster who made shady self-serving deals using his government influence.  How rich.  Warren, a “one-percenter” with assets estimated at $10 million, falsely claimed Native American heritage to land a professorship, and received $350,000 for teaching one  college course.

Democrats point out, with faux concern and anger, that President-elect Trump’s cabinet picks are mostly wealthy individuals.  Like Trump himself, his nominees have accomplished a level of business (not government) success that not only builds wealth, it also indicates competence.

The Democrats can grandstand and delay, race-bait and class-envy ad nauseam, trying to hold up the confirmation process.  But it won’t work.  The swamp will be drained.

Only the shallowest of observers can’t see that these all-stars are not in it for personal profit.  Quite the contrary; they are sacrificing their earning power and precious time as an act of patriotism, service and charity.  And isn’t it just possible that the wealthy Democrats, most of whom have never earned a dollar in the private sector, are panicking at the prospect that their own gravy train may soon fall off the tracks?

The Trump team tapped budget hawk Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) to head up the Office of Management and Budget.  Mulvaney was a co-founder of the uber-conservative Freedom Caucus and has a stellar resume in budget, finance, and business – both inside and outside the Beltway.  Mulvaney isn’t rich – during legislative sessions he slept in the closet of his office.  But he is focused and determined.  And he is building his own all-star team, starting with Heritage Action brainiacs Russ Vought and Jessica Anderson.  The Beltway is abuzz today with talk of a plan to reduce the national debt by $10.5 trillion in ten years, based on the Heritage Foundation’s Blueprint for Reform published last year.

This is what common-sense Americans have been praying for since Rick Santelli’s rant on CNBC gave birth to the Tea Party in 2009 – a glimmer of hope that our children will not have to deal with the economic destruction caused by our monolithic $20 trillion federal debt.  In his rant, by the way, Santelli gave kudos to Wilbur Ross, another Trump appointee.

President-elect Trump calls it “draining the swamp”, which encompasses both rooting out corruption and slashing out-of-control spending.  It makes me picture OMB Chief Mulvaney in the role of Amos Moses, that badass Cajun in the Louisiana bayou, knockin’ alligators in the head with a stump!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideNow Amos Moses was a Cajun
He lived by himself in the swamp
He hunted alligator for a living
He’d just knock them in the head with a stump!

Jerry Reed – Amos Moses

 

I love this 1982 video of Jerry Reed and Glen Campbell rockin’ it up with this funky, swampy, bluesy version of Reed’s “Amos Moses.”  You won’t find more guitar pickin’ power in one camera shot.  Reed is most widely known as Burt Reynold’s sidekick in the “Smokey and the Bandit” movies, but he was an outstanding musician and songwriter, and was revered by guitar players world-wide.  Among his innovations was the “claw” style of picking, which he allegedly taught to Chet Atkins.  Campbell had a stellar career until it was derailed by alcoholism and, later, Alzheimer’s disease.  He started as a studio guitarist, was an early member of the Beach Boys, and eventually had his own television show plus many gold records.

 

Heritage Foundation Eats An Elephant

elephant_one_bite

graphic by Sean Gallo

Have you heard anything lately about the budget?  Is anybody still concerned about the size and growth of our federal government, our $20 trillion (and growing) debt, and the decomposing cadaver our economy has become?

It seems strange at a time when there is so much political buzz, nobody is talking much about our fiscal problem.  The presidential candidates from both sides show little or no concern, probably because the topic is not “sexy” enough for media coverage.

Well, I hate to be a buzz-killer, but the budget elephant is still in the room, getting bigger and smellier every day.

We have been repeatedly told by our political leaders and media pundits that our fiscal problem is too impossibly huge to even think about. Well, it’s not. This can be solved.  Why not roll up our sleeves and start working on it?  Like, now?

Fortunately, we still have one shining treasure in our national vault — the Heritage Foundation.  This group of geniuses has no fear of tackling big, vexing problems.  And they have a solution for our seemingly intractable spending problem.  It’s called the “Blueprint for Balance – A Federal Budget for 2017”.

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time. The Blueprint for Balance is a six-course elephant dinner:

  • SLOW THE GROWTH IN SPENDING, while fully funding national security needs
  • CUT TAXES by $1.3 trillion over 10 years
  • BALANCE THE BUDGET within seven years
  • REDUCE SPENDING by $10.5 trillion and cut the deficit by $9.2 trillion over 10 years
  • ELIMINATE BUDGET GIMMICKS and establish a process to address unauthorized appropriations
  • ELIMINATE PROGRAMS that produce favoritism and limit opportunity

These are not just wishes or slogans.  Each course is real-world, detailed and dollarized into chewable bites.

Here’s an example.  One of hundreds of cost-saving recommendations would eliminate subsidies for Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs), the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). This proposal saves $438 million in FY 2017.

When I lived in rural Montana, my electricity was provided by a rural cooperative with outstanding local service at a reasonable (albeit heavily subsidized) price. Now I live in an urban area with a huge nuclear power plant operated by the nation’s largest electric utility company only a few miles from my home.  My electricity should be cheap, right?  Oh heck no!  Because I am forced to subscribe to a ‘grandfathered’ rural electric cooperative, my rates are much higher than my neighbors who are served by the big guys. Plus the co-op gets taxpayer subsidies.

At the turn of the century it was necessary to establish rural electric cooperatives.  There was no other way to provide affordable electricity in sparsely-populated areas.  But like most government programs, it has outlived its purpose.

This is just one bite – there are hundreds of others, some big and some small, in the Blueprint for Balance. I hope my congressman is hungry, because I am going to ask him to start chewing.  Please ask yours to do the same.  If every congressman takes a couple of bites, we can do this.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideGonna live each minute,
‘Til I’ve had my fill
Aw, girl, I’ll be rollin’ in it!
Yes, yes, you know I will,!

Hungry – Paul Revere and the Raiders

 

 

“Most Govt. Spending Is Mandatory – That’s BS

Federal officials and elite media pundits ridicule conservatives who demand lower government spending levels. They say only 24% of the budget is discretionary, and most of that is military spending, so there is nothing anybody can do about increased spending and debt without taking a hatchet to social security benefits.

Horse Hockey. Federal-Spending-by-the-Numbers-2014-03-2-budget-trends_509There is a heck of a lot of discretion in that “mandatory” spending.

The Heritage Foundation points out that in 1965 only 27% of federal spending was mandatory. By last year mandatory spending had grown to 63% of the total, and it’s not just a function of our aging population. Over time our government has pushed a ton of new spending into the mandatory category.

Our government has made the discretionary decision to give millions of legal and illegal immigrants and refugees social security benefits, medicaid, disability, earned income credits, and a host of other “mandatory” federal benefits and subsidies. The majority of foreign-born in our country are on one or more welfare programs. And this does not even begin to address the cost of education, health care, fraudulent tax returns, cost of police and prisons and other infrastructure that cost billions. Our government has made the discretionary decision to not enforce the borders, to not follow up on visa violations, and to not keep illegal alien criminals out of the country. There is nothing mandatory about inviting foreigners to dip into the American taxpayers’ soup.

Our government has also made the discretionary decision to not crack down on waste and fraud in the mandatory spending programs. A study by Senator Tom Coburn’s office indicated as many as 45% of disability claims were questionable. Social security and food stamp fraud is rampant.

When it comes to spending, our government doesn’t have a reputation for using good discretion. It has dropped billions of public dollars on corrupt and hopelessly inefficient green energy programs and other corporate cronies. It has stifled economic development with disingenuous environmental and social programs. By its fed policy to eliminate interest, it has destroyed the US currency and transferred much of the wealth saved by a generation of middle class families to the big banks and their benefactors.

Our government has made discretionary payroll decisions that have resulted in government workers earning far greater compensation than private sector workers do, and many of them are frightfully ineffective and inefficient. Five of the six wealthiest counties in the United States are Washington, DC suburbs. Much of the cost of these discretionary payroll decisions are embedded in mandatory spending.

Worst of all, our government has made the discretionary decision to pass on an insolvent nation to our future generations by refusing for decades to even write, much less balance, an honest zero-based budget. They didn’t have to do it, they chose to, pandering for the votes that bring them personal power and wealth.

I, for one, am tired of hearing that there is nothing anybody can do to reduce government spending because it is “mostly mandatory”.  Elections have consequences, so we had better elect people who won’t use lame excuses to defend this unsustainable spending and debt.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

You made me love you,
I didn’t want to do it!
I didn’t want to do it!
You made me want you,
And all the time you knew it!
I guess you always knew it!

You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want To Do It) – Judy Garland

 

 

 

We Must Demand Real Federal Budgets

zero based budgetingZero-Based Budgeting is a simple concept, practiced by every family and every company in the USA.  We all determine how much money we will receive for a given period, and then decide how we are going to spend it.  We give priority to necessities, and then, if funds are available, we may indulge in luxuries or less-important items.

In fact the practice is so simple, so obvious, so common-sense that we don’t even give it a thought.  We just do it.  Most Americans would be surprised to learn that our federal government, with the largest budget on planet Earth, does not.   The government simply takes whatever amount each department or agency spent last year, and adds to it.  It is a recipe for economic disaster, and our $18 trillion debt is exactly that.

Last month Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) introduced HR1591, the “Zero-Based Budgeting Ensures Responsible Oversight Act of 2015”.  ZERO for short.  It’s his third attempt to bring reason to our federal budget process.

The ZERO Act would require each department to justify all of its spending every year.  Congressman Ross points out that in recent years taxpayers paid $615,000 to digitize Grateful Dead tickets, $442,000 to study male prostitutes in Vietnam, and $2.5 million for a Super Bowl ad.  Neither you, nor I, nor any of our elected representatives authorized that spending.  But it happened because there is no oversight, and under the current “continuing resolution” system, there can’t be.

If ZERO is enacted, departments would have to describe every activity for which funding is requested, provide the legal basis for the activity, and offer three alternative funding levels, two of which would be below the current year’s level.  They would have to provide details on the benefits derived from each activity and any added benefit for increased funding.  Plus, they must show measures of cost efficiency and effectiveness.

Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) told me he and the budget committee “will take up zero-based budgeting as part of budget reform later this summer.”  So far only one congressman, David Jolly (R-FL) has co-sponsored HR1591.

At least three presidential candidates are advocates of Zero-Based Budgeting.  Two of them, Rick Perry and Jeb Bush, are governors who understand budgeting.  The third is Carly Fiorina, a dollar-savvy former CEO to whom ZBB is second nature.  Fiorina told Breitbart News about something I personally experienced as a small business owner:

“I started my career in Washington, D.C. and sold to the federal government. As anyone who has done business with the federal government knows, in the last six weeks of every year, every government agency spends every dime,” she continued. They do that because they want to make sure the appropriations process is focused on the rate of increase for the following year – not what they actually need or whether they actually need to spend it.”

We taxpayers are dropping the ball.  First of all, we don’t understand our own tax returns.  And second, we don’t do a good job of holding our elected officials and the bureaucrats they are supposed to oversee accountable for spending our money.

It is admittedly hard work to budget every year, and to actually plan and prioritize spending.  Families do it.  Businesses do it.  Is it too much to ask of our government officials and employees?  Let’s encourage our congressmen to get behind real budget reform.

This article can be seen in its entirety at Watchdog Arena.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

What’s that honey?
Pick you up at eight?  And don’t be late?
But baby, I ain’t got NOOOOOOOO money, honey!
Oh, all right honey, you know what I like!

Chantilly Lace – the Big Bopper

 

Here’s a fun video about a guy with a budget problem:

 

“Science Deniers” vs. “Economics Deniers”

mad scientistAccording to the Left Side, we Neanderthals who Rock on the Right Side don’t buy that mankind is destroying the earth, so we are, by definition, “science deniers“.

How dare we question them?  They are the ‘intelligentsia’.  They own the facts.  Their “science” is unassailable.  They don’t really have any proof, but if you don’t agree with them, you must be an idiot.  You probably think the Earth is flat!  You probably don’t even accept that Albert Einstein’s great-great-great grandmother was a newt!

Well, I may not be an Einstein, and I admit I got a C in eighth grade science (actually Mr. Anderson paddled me for passing notes in class, that didn’t help).  But I have a question for you scientists:

If your “science” is so perfect, and you are so sure that mankind is destroying the earth via “climate change”, why have none of your predictions come true?

In 1975, according to Newsweek Magazine, you scientists were convinced that global cooling would “portend a drastic decline in food production – with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now.”  News Flash: didn’t happen.

Then in 2007 Al Gore predicted that “all Arctic ice would be gone by 2013”.  Um, Al, if that’s your science, I think I can safely deny that.  Didn’t happen.  In fact, there was a record ice-pack in 2013.

Go ahead, Left Side.  Call me a “science denier”.  I’m not convinced that man is capable of causing global climate change.  Don’t these same scientists admit that the earth was much warmer — and also much colder — in prehistoric times, well before Lady Gaga was “born this way”?

I’m pretty sure all of the uproar about climate change is more about power and money, and not so much about temperature.  Al Gore charges $100,000 per speech and his Global Investment Management company has made a killing  dealing in Climate Change drama.  And the UN building is full of little despots rubbing their fists at the prospect of slipping some carbon-tax guilt money into their pockets.

Speaking of money, it seems to me that the Left Siders are “Economics Deniers”.

They won’t accept that printing and distributing ever-growing gobs of cash waters down the value of existing dollars.  They can’t believe that paying people not to work for several years contributes to unemployment.  It doesn’t make sense to them that flooding our country with cheap foreign labor results in lower wage rates.

They don’t believe in the power of the free market, and the flawless balance of supply and demand.  They can’t accept that $17 trillion of debt is a problem for our children.

They won’t buy that unequal incomes are the result of unequal effort or talent.

The Left Side are the ones in denial.  The Economics Deniers.

But let’s not talk about that!  Let’s talk about gay marriage!  Or how barbaric it is to expect women to buy their own birth control pills!  Or how those stupid Right Siders are “Science Deniers” who don’t care about global warming!

So far the Left Side has not blinded the Right Side with their “science.”  Good thing.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

The spheres are in commotion
The elements in harmony
She blinded me with science
“She blinded me with science!”
And hit me with technology

She Blinded Me With Science – Thomas Dolby

 

Watch this great live performance by Dolby – glad to see an old-school Telecaster in the studio with all that SCIENCE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You Love Your Children, Hold Them Close

you can keep your children

via T Patrick Duffy

If our elected leaders will lie about the takeover of our health care system, about the deaths of Americans at Benghazi, about Big Brother electronic eavesdropping, about the use of the IRS and other federal agencies to manipulate elections, and about the corruption epidemic in our government – why would you trust their motives with your children?

President Obama, president-elect Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the elite progressive establishment really believe that “it takes a village” to raise your child.  They are convinced that you are not qualified to make decisions about your family’s well-being,  and they have an aggressive agenda that will continue to dilute parent’s rights and personal sovereignty.  Next on the list is mandatory government daycare/preschool for toddlers.

Parents, if you love your children, hold them close.  They are at risk.  Please learn about Common Core.  Read the textbooks and other materials they bring home and don’t be afraid to overrule the disinformation you find.  See how your childrens’ precious time is being spent at school.  Be active in your school district and school board affairs.

Do not allow federal programs to take over your local schools.  Take the time to pass on your knowledge, beliefs and values to your children.  Do not “trust” the school to raise, feed, educate, or protect your precious children – you must be involved at every step.

If you can home-school your child, you will do your family and your nation a tremendous service.  If not, you must fight for your family’s right to choose the approriate school and educational path.

Be aware of what is happening to our economy and our way of life.  Your children’s futures depend on you – nobody cares about your children as much as you do.  They can’t afford your abdication of parental rights to the government.  They can’t afford the insurmountable debts we are placing on them.  They aren’t able to defend their constitutional rights – we must fight on their behalf.

There was a time when we could trust our government to tell the truth.  We knew that our elected leaders had our families’ best interests at heart.  The American Dream was universally understood and shared.  Sadly, that time is gone.

I know you are busy, but is anything more important than your children?

If you are already aware of the dangers, and actively involved in protecting and improving their futures, please pass this on to someone you know who is not engaged.  On behalf of my kids and grandkids, I thank you.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Hold me tight
Tell me I’m the only one
And then I might
Never be the lonely one

Hold Me Tight – the Beatles



On a lighter note, here’s an old Beatles recording session including outtakes.  Note the Fender Bandmaster amp in the photos – I had one of these way back when, and wish I had kept it – they are worth a fortune today!

Government Employees: Join Us Conservatives!

US flagThis message is for government employees.

I know most of you are thoughtful people who care about your families and their futures.  You want our nation to be a better place for your children and grandchildren, and you want to be justifiably proud of our nation again.

As our economy has deteriorated, you have been increasingly cursed by conservatives.  You may feel isolated and threatened.  Since your paycheck comes from the taxpayers you can’t respond in public to the punches thrown your way.

It’s time for us to have a little talk – please stick with me to the end of this post.

I am a fiscal conservative.  No shame, no hesitancy, no reservations.  Our federal government, and many state and local governments, have been spending a lot more money than they have taken in for a long time, and this can not continue without devastating results.  I know you understand this basic fact of life.  At $17 trillion dollars and growing, our national debt is epic.

Still, there are grown adults who will not admit that we can not consume more than we produce.  I doubt that the “grasshopper and ant” story is still shared with elementary students, but its lesson about industry and thrift, and the importance of saving for the future is no less true today than it was when our great-grandparents learned it.

A few selfish Americans only want to take, and never give.  Aside from that, the only justification I have heard for government overspending is a misguided belief in Keynesian economics.  It has never worked in the long-term, and we are living the proof of that right now.  We are at the end of the line.

Liberals (and especially the corrupt mainstream media) continue to paint conservatives as stingy, cold-hearted, wild-eyed wing-nuts who don’t care about underdogs.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Most of us are, or were, underdogs.  Conservatives want a better world for all, and have learned from history what makes that happen.   We know that nothing in life worth having is free.

Because I am a critic of government overspending, and because most tax dollars go to salaries, I complain a lot – and loudly – about government employees.  Let me clarify that.

I don’t hate government employees.  The people, I mean.  You are American citizens who raise your families, support churches and charities, go to work and do your best.  Many of you are extraordinarily brave, intelligent, and productive.  Many of you are consummate patriots and put up with a lot of nonsense that most of us would not tolerate.

The problem is our government has outgrown our ability to control it.  There are too many government jobs, many involving work that the framers of our constitution never intended.   Some programs are obsolete, redundant, frivolous, or over-reaching.

Honestly, some government employees have little or nothing constructive to do – not because they are lazy, but because the “system” in which they operate has become dysfunctional.  Corruption in government has grown to epidemic proportions due to the high cost of getting elected, and the profit potential.  As a result, you government employees are forced to do things that you know are not right, and there are some bad actors in lead positions of your agencies and departments.  Also, some of you have been steered by corrupt union leadership that does not always operate in your best interests.

Lately I am hearing from more and more of you honest, concerned government employees who “get it”.  You understand the true state of the union and the extent of the danger, but you may feel you can’t stand up and speak out against the excesses and failures of your employer.

I’m here to wish you courage and strength, and invite you to the “Right Side”.  Please join us.  You can be a major contributor to restoring the fiscal integrity of our great nation.   Support your conservative friends and neighbors.  Teach your children.  Do what you can to cut waste and corruption.  It’s your home too, and your family’s future is much brighter in a free, strong and prosperous economy than in a corrupt, state-controlled society where the top priority is a perceived “fairness” that will ultimately require everyone to be equally miserable.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

People, when things go wrong, as they sometimes will
And the road you travel, it stays all uphill
Let’s work together
Come on, come on, let’s work together
You know together we will stand
Every boy, girl, woman and man

Let’s Work Together – Canned Heat


The New ‘Immigration Reform’ – It’s A Mistake!

Mexican WalmartWhile living in Montana for many years my opinions about illegal immigration were based on what I heard in the media.  Montana doesn’t have an illegal immigrant problem.  I saw the growing numbers of Mexicans and Central Americans when visiting western cities like Denver, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City, but still didn’t have any first-hand experience.

For the last few months I have been traveling full-time throughout the Southeast, based in Charlotte, and have gained some perspective on the issue.

Shortly after arriving here, I was shopping at a WalMart store and was struck by how many people were speaking Spanish.  It seemed at times like I was the only English-speaking white guy around.  I don’t know what proportion of these immigrants are illegal – some may be here on current visas.   But it is likely that a good number of them either crossed the border illegally or were born to someone who did.

These foreigners have money to spend.  And that is the centerpoint of my curiosity and interest.

The media paints us conservatives as racists, bigots and homophobes who have no tolerance for people who don’t look and speak like us.  There are a few who fit that mold, but I think most are like me – concerned about the fiscal integrity of our nation and worried about the economic futures of our children.

Does it bother me that there are so many foreigners in the frozen foods aisle?  Not in the least.  I find them to be friendly, hard-working family people.  What bothers me is that laws exist to protect U.S. citizens, and it is clear that a lot of law-breaking is being tolerated – even encouraged – to a greater degree every day.  What is the economic impact?

I have a soft spot for anyone who works hard and takes care of his family.  So when Hector came into my store a few days ago to buy a $6,000 dump trailer, I enjoyed learning about his roofing business.  He had two of his ten employees with him, and they spoke no English.  We had earlier outfitted his shiny new Ford truck with expensive accessories and this was the fifth trailer he had bought from us in a year.

When it came time to pay the bill, Hector, as always, pulled out a wad of hundred dollar bills that would choke a horse.  The sixty C-notes he peeled off to pay for his trailer barely made a dent.  It made me wonder if the two guys with him were actually bodyguards.

Hector has built a great business and is making a lot of money.  We need entrepreneurs in the United States, right?

Not like Hector.

He is obviously not paying taxes – his wealthy customers pay him in cash because he charges less than his native-born, honest, tax-paying competitors. He is not paying workers comp, or unemployment, or insurance bills.  He does not provide health care for his employees.  Hector pays his men minimum wage or less –  they have to work for low wages because any legitimate business would be in big trouble if they hired illegal workers.  But it works out because they receive all kinds of government benefits, including food stamps, medical care, subsidized housing and education for their children.

Hector is doing great.  So is his family.  And his employees are much better off here – they buzz the aisles at WalMart, chattering in Spanish with big smiles on their faces.

At the same time more and more of our own under-educated citizens have given up on work.  They are encouraged to stay home and collect welfare, plus the same food stamps, free medical care, subsidized housing and education for their children that Hector’s employees get – all paid for with money either borrowed from the Chinese or printed out of thin air.  American entrepreneurs who would start businesses as tradesmen and employ other Americans are beset with regulations, taxes, fees, and red tape.

Our political leaders continue to claim that we need illegal immigrants to do the work that “Americans won’t do.”   Even Republicans in the nation’s capital are beginning to embrace amnesty and “immigration reform”, totally abandoning the laws that were created to protect U.S. citizens and our standard of living.

It’s a serious mistake.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

We’ll not fade out too soon, not in this finest hour
Whistle your favourite tune, we’ll send a card and flower
Saying it’s a mistake.  It’s a mistake!

It’s A Mistake – Men At Work

You’re A Rich Girl

With so much recent talk about the rich, the poor, and fairness, maybe we should take a deeper look at wealth in America.

US_real_median_household_income_1967_-_2011Real median household income in the US is about $50,000 per year.   This includes wages, business income, and most forms of government assistance.  Household income is roughly the same as it was in 1989, adjusted for inflation, after declining about 8 percent since President Obama took office.

There are many ways to categorize people by income.  Location is one – Maryland residents top the list in per family income, largely because of the number of federal employees who work nearby in the nation’s capital.  Montana ranks 44th.

One’s race, unfortunately, still affects income, with Asians doing the best and blacks worst.   Education is also a factor, and the earnings curve between high-school dropouts and those with advanced college degrees is steep.

Statistics like these might suggest that we are doomed by our birth demographics.   Not so.  Consider that one of the biggest factors in one’s earning power is age.  Younger people earn less – it’s just a fact of life.  Younger people have less education.  The average age of minorities is disproportionately younger.  Age affects all the other classifications.

A recent shift in earnings and wealth is troubling – while the overall real median household income is somewhat stable, the income of workers has declined steadily as the income of those on government payments has increased.  Some of this is the result of the graying of America, but government assistance programs have expanded significantly.

Still, whether an American household (the term ‘family’ has become obsolete with the demise of the institution of marriage) receives its income by redistribution from workers or directly from work, we live relatively well compared to the rest of the world.  Comparison of real income is difficult because of currency exchange and other factors, and there are many ways to measure wealth.  Only ten nations exceed our GDP per capita.  While it is often said that most of the world’s citizens live on less than $2 per day, per capita GDP statistics indicates otherwise.

Our poorest citizens live like kings compared to the average Indian or African.  We should ask why.  What do we have that these other nations don’t?  Many of them have tremendous natural resources – that’s not it.  I will not accept that people from other parts of the world are just born inferior to Americans.

The answer, to me, is obvious.  Our nation was built on the principles of free enterprise, unlimited opportunity, and limited government.   We overlook this fact at our peril, and unless we restore the culture of productivity our grandparents championed, our grandchildren will pay a dear price.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

You’re a rich girl,
And you’ve gone too far
‘Cause you know it don’t matter anyway
You can rely on the old man’s money
You can rely on the old man honey

Rich Girl – Hall and Oates

Do Our Leaders Really Care?

men_confusedobama_confused2reid_confused



Listening to the media and to our political leaders one would think it is impossible to straighten out our nation’s fiscal mess, and that we, our children, and our grandchildren are doomed to mediocrity for decades to come.   Oh, they want to help us, they “feel our pain”, but the task is just too difficult.

Hogwash.

If our federal government really wanted to cut spending and reduce the debt and deficits, they would immediately:

  • Sell all of the excess, obsolete and unused federal property, including land, buildings, military bases and equipment.  Where does our constitution authorize the federal government to buy up all this private land, anyway?
  • Compensate federal employees similarly to comparable private sector employees – reasonable pay rates, raise the retirement age,  replace defined benefit pensions with 401(k) plans, require full forty-hour weeks, and implement the same social security and health care treatment as taxpayers have.  Government-sector unions must be eliminated because the pay-for-play election scam is irretrievably corrupt and imperils democracy.
  • Pay senators and representatives each $1 million per year, and make them responsible for all of their own costs – staffing, transportation, office expenses, mailing, etc.  If they want to take a “fact-finding” junket to Tahiti, have a girlfriend in Brazil, or travel home every weekend, they can pay for it themselves.  Term limits might not hurt either.
  • Outsource most of the costs of government to co-ops made up of top private companies.  Social security and welfare fraud would be zero if administered by IBM and Visa.  Defense contractors have proved they work better together than they do in competition.  With co-ops, the winning private companies will regulate each other.
  • Establish a real, non-partisan budget and cost management department, led by private-sector experts and technicians instead of political lackeys and cronies.  Pay commissions to those who find corruption, and prosecute the offenders.
  • Implement zero-based or priority-based budgeting.  Start every department and program at zero and require true cost justification for all expenditures every annual or bi-annual cycle.  Same process for entitlements – disability and unemployment must be verified.  Eliminate unnecessary, duplicative and obsolete departments.
  • Replace unemployment compensation and most direct welfare payments with honest work projects.  No work, no money.
  • Tie all foreign aid and investment to our own national interests.  Not one dollar to nations or despots whose actions are damaging to the US.  That includes the United Nations.
  • Simplify the tax code and work with businesses instead of against them.
  • Eliminate the EPA and make the United States the energy provider to the world – aggressively develop natural gas and liquefied natural gas as an alternative to oil.  Abandon the infaturation with ridiculously inefficient wind and solar energy and pour our efforts and investments into the efficient use of proven energy sources.

I could go on.  Maybe some of these ideas have holes, or need development.  Surely there are many more opportunities – bigger and better ones.  But if you and I can discuss many methods of improving our government’s performance, why can’t our leaders talk about it?

Do they really want to solve the problem?  Are they actually interested in reducing the drag of bloated government on our economy?  Obviously, no.  Otherwise they would be doing it.

So the only remaining solution is to replace all the self-serving charlatans with motivated leaders who ARE interested.  And the only way that will happen is if we can educate and win the majority of Americans who currently don’t get it or don’t care – our neighbors, our friends, and any stranger on the street whom we can engage.

Time is of the essence.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Whatever happened
To all the good times we used to have
The times we cried and laughed
I wanna know, I wanna know

Don’t You Care? – the Buckinhams