Inequality – It’s What Made Us Great!

Boys_playing_footballNovember, 1964 – another crisp, sunny afternoon in Great Falls, Montana.  We got out of McKinley Elementary at 3:15 and like most other days headed over to the Willetts’ house to see if the other neighborhood kids were up for some football.

The Willetts’ house was set back quite a ways off the street, and had a big front yard of thick, green grass littered with fat orange, yellow and red leaves from the huge maple trees that graced our older middle-class street.  It was irresistible to a bunch of grade school boys with lots of energy and no homework.

By 3:30 a dozen or so kids had arrived, and the captains picked their teams.  The team captains were the biggest, toughest, or oldest kids – the alpha males of the bunch.  You were proud if you were one of the first boys picked, and kind of embarrassed if you were the last.  But everybody got to play.

Seems like the captains always got to play quarterback, too.  Like it or not, they were the natural leaders.  There might be an occasional challenge – “Hey I want to be captain!”  – but usually it was pretty evident who was going to be in charge.  The captain had to be smart enough to call a play that actually might work.  He was usually the best athlete.  And he had to have the respect, or at least the obedience, of his teammates.

Bobby was fast as the wind, a natural running back.  Randy could catch anything.  He always got to be a receiver.

Roger, the fat kid, always had to play center or guard.  I mean let’s face it, he just couldn’t run fast enough to catch a pass or defend one.  Plus he had no idea how to call plays.  But Roger didn’t mind, he knew his place.  And heck, he could block two or three of us at a time.

Our neighborhood was very mixed, from one end of the socioeconomic scale to the other.  Some of us were scruffy kids from poor families.  We were the ones with no dads at home.  The middle-class boys had real families and belonged to the cub scouts.  They had to be home at 6:00 for supper.  Some of the gang were actually upper-crust; in fact, Mr. Willetts ran for mayor.

But on a blue-sky late autumn afternoon in the sixties it didn’t matter what your dad did for a living, or if you had one.  It was all about run, throw, catch, score, and WIN.  Nobody cared what you looked like or how worn-out your shoes were.  You succeeded or failed on your own, and you weren’t going to get any respect for free.

We learned about leadership.  About the joy of competition.  About how to fit in and contribute to a team effort, and to share in the rewards.  About getting knocked on your butt, and getting back up.  Some kids learned that they just weren’t cut out for football.  They found something else they could do well.  Or not.

And all of this happened without worried parents hovering over us, coaches having tantrums, or lawyers and TV news crews waiting for somebody to get hurt.  No rules committees, safety equipment, or umpires.  No government programs to shelter us and tell us what to do.

There was never any mention of “inequality”.  Everybody got to play, and the boys who had the most skill, experience or drive had the most success, and the most fun.  But we all wanted to compete, and to win.

That bunch of boys became men, and our generation did pretty well with what we learned on our own in those front yards and vacant lots.  Now, sadly, the notion of kids being able to – and allowed to – organize their own rough-and-tumble football games is unthinkable.  That level of freedom and opportunity for kids is long gone.

In today’s “fairer” progressive social structure, everybody will get to play quarterback.  We will all have new shoes, but they will be low-quality, made in China.  We won’t pick teams or keep score because that is just too damaging to self-esteem.  There will be no losers, and no winners – just shared mediocrity.

I don’t know about you, but if Roger is going to be the quarterback, I don’t even want to play.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side
Ooh, it takes every kind of people
To make what life’s about, yeah
Every kind of people
To make the world go ’round

Every Kind of People – Robert Palmer

 

 

 

Pickles

I Am Running for President

recessionOur nation languishes in an economic recession that seems intractable.

Our manufacturing base is gone.  Many of our cities and states are bankrupt.  The aisles at the neighborhood Dollar Store are jammed.

Still, there doesn’t seem to be any sense of alarm.  We whistle past the graveyard, as our government borrows and prints ever-increasing gobs of money to shore up our sagging standard of living.  We know it has to come crashing down.  The bubble will burst.  Are we content to just wait around until the doo-doo hits the fan?

Meanwhile, our fearless leaders offer no suggestions, no plans, no hope for a solution to this inevitable economic Hiroshima.  Have you heard anything from our President or our Congress that leads you to believe the economy will get better?

Decision-making has devolved into finger-pointing.  Politicians ride the fence, careful to not suggest anything that might cost them a vote as they play on the emotions of a citizenry that has become numb to bad news.  The remaining few of us who realize the gravity of our economic situation have, frankly, given up.

Tom-presidentTo hell with it.  I’m tired of whining about the situation and nothing gets done.   If nobody else will step up, I guess I have to.  ELECT ME AS YOUR NEXT PRESIDENT.  I will head the ticket for the E Party (the “E” stands for Economy).

If elected, I will declare war – call it World War “E”.  We will attack our economic crisis with a national fervor and urgency not seen since World War II.  The futures of our children and grandchildren depend on it.  You will ask not what your country can do for you, you will ask what you can do for your country.  And what you can do for your country is demand performance from our federal government, starting with Congress.

No more pandering for votes by competing to see who can give away the most stuff.  No more political correctness and phony junk science.  No more corruption – government crooks will do jail time, not get suspended with pay.  No more 139-day work calendar.  You will stay in session, you will do research and deliberation, you will work until you come up with solutions!  The president and the citizens will tell you – Congress – what needs to be done, and you will do it!

We will seal the borders and stop the flood of poor and unskilled illegal immigrants – we can’t afford them and we need to take care of our own.   We will eliminate corporate taxes, death taxes, and all other double taxation, and will create a simple, fair and flat tax system – this will spur the economy and eliminate corruption between big business and politicians.  We will sell all unused federal property.  We will eliminate all obsolete and inefficient federal programs.  We will abolish the corrupt government employee unions.

We will embrace our natural resources and become the energy provider to the world.  We will implement modest tariffs on all imports and bring manufacturing jobs home.  We will build 21st-century transportation and communication infrastructure and a state-of-the-art national defense system, including REAL anti-terrorism with profiling – not hassling Grandma at the airport.  We will let the rest of the world sort out their own problems, and make sure they know better than to screw with us.  Those nations who want to join our side in World War E will be welcomed to the team.  Kick the United Nations out.  Drop out of the World Trade Organization.  Tell the Chinese to get on board or bug off.

We will help the helpless, but not the clueless.  We will teach our children patriotism, history, free-market economics, and individual responsibility.  We will make our education system relevant, functional, and competitive.  We will encourage excellence and initiative rather than dependency.

We can do this.  Look at what our nation has accomplished in the past when our backs were against the wall.

Can I count on your vote?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideI’m your top prime cut of meat, I’m your choice,
I want to be elected!
I’m your Yankee Doodle Dandy in a gold Rolls Royce,
I want to be elected!
Kids want a savior, don’t need a fake,
I want to be elected!
We’re all gonna rock to the rules that I make,
I want to be elected!

Elected – Alice Cooper

Here’s my first campaign commercial!

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

Economics for Blondies

The 20-something bubbled-headed blonde Democrat jiggled and grinned on my television screen.

“We’re going back to the economics of the Clinton administration,” she cooed.  “We want to raise taxes back up to where they were during the wonderful Clinton years!”

“But things are different now,” the seasoned  Fox Business analyst replied.  “We have a $16 trillion debt.  We have 8% unemployment.  We have no economic growth.”

“Oh, we will just tax the rich!  Like we did under (giggle, giggle – fake eyelashes fluttering) Biiiiill Clinton!”

“Now wait a minute,” the Fox guy shot back.  “The economy improved only when the Republicans took over Congress, and Clinton agreed to reform welfare, trim the budget and cut the capital gains tax . . .”

“Biiiiiill Cliiiiinton!  MMMmmmm!” purred the little blonde Demo-kitten.  I mentally pictured her voting for the first time, dreaming of her new boyfriend Barack, and . . .

My wife muttered on her way to the kitchen.  “I’d go for the tax rates from the Clinton years – if we had the same SPENDING as the Clinton years!”

I guess I’m not quite ready to give up on women yet.  Just the ones who want more, more, more.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Baby you know my love for you is real
So take me where you want to
Me and my heart you steal
More, more, more!
How do you like it?  How do you like it?
More, more, more!
How do you like it?  How do you like your love?

More More More – Andrea True (disco porn star)

The New “Misery Index”

Remember the Misery Index?   The simple formula – unemployment percent plus inflation percent – was created by an LBJ advisor and used for a while as a campaign tool.  Jimmy Carter set the record of 21.98, in June of 1980.  I remember those days – we were forced to turn down our thermostats and wear sweaters, drive roller-skate cars made of tin foil and wait in line for rationed gas, and pay 18% interest on our mortgages.   For you youngsters: no I’m not being sarcastic – it’s the truth.

The Misery Index was rendered useless in more recent times when the Federal Reserve decided to artificially hold interest rates to zero to hide the extent of our economic crisis.

US Economic Freedom Index

But there still is an indicator of how well our nation is doing for its citizens, and it compares us to other countries: the Economic Freedom Index.  It’s a broader measurement of each nation’s citizens’ well-being, measuring such things as property rights, freedom from corruption, limited government, regulatory efficiency, and open markets.  The aggregate is an indicator of how easy, or difficult, it is to do business and make a living.

While other nations move up the scale, in the last few years the United States has slid down.  Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous state of communist China, has moved up to number one.  Singapore, Australia and New Zealand follow close behind.  Canada is number six. Norway, the darling nation of liberals, is number 40.

According to the Heritage Foundation:

The United States’ economic freedom score of 76.3 drops it to 10th place in the 2012 Index. Its score is 1.5 points lower than last year, reflecting deteriorating scores for government spending, freedom from corruption, and investment freedom.

What would it take to get us back in the leadership position we were accustomed to?

Restoring the U.S. economy to the status of a “free” economy will require significant policy changes to reduce the size of government, overhaul the tax system, and transform costly entitlement programs. By boosting growth in the private sector, such freedom-enhancing policies are the best hope for bringing down high unemployment rates and reducing public debt to manageable levels.

Seems to me that’s what Romney and the conservatives are proposing. The other guys? Well, they would like us down there with Norway. Or Uganda. It would be more fair that way.

If the Misery Index made us cry in the Carter years, our declining  Economic Freedom Index under Obama should have us reaching for a XXL hanky.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Take a minute for this fun clip –
a 60’s garage band classic:

And when the sun comes up
I’ll be on top
You’ll be way down there
Lookin’ up
Cryin’

96 Tears – Question Mark and the Mysterions

The Government Sucks – So We, the People, Have to Step Up

Today’s bad news: our economy added only 80,000 jobs in June – while another 85,000 workers dropped out of the labor force to join the ranks of the disabled.  As fewer people can find or keep jobs, our federal government continues to take former workers onto the “dole” to artificially hide the true unemployment rate.

Our President’s reaction?  “It’s still Bush’s fault”, and “We need more government union workers who will vote for me (teachers and firemen)”, and “Things are not all that bad”, and “There are no quick fixes”.  Not exactly inspirational, is it?

By the way, when did you agree to have your federal tax dollars spent on more firemen for the city of El Paso?

And when did your local school board decide that your federal tax dollars should pay for “hundreds of thousands more teachers”?

Punch after punch, the federal assault on citizens continues.  It’s enough to drive one to depression or drink, or both.  Unless . . .

Unless we conservatives can make ourselves so strong individually and collectively that we can fight and win the daily battles in our city, state and federal government offices – and strong enough to educate and convince our misguided or disengaged brethren to vote correctly this fall.

When times are tough I take comfort in something I learned a long time ago, when I joined a bunch of young friends in a civic group called Optimists, Intl.   Even the first line is enough to bring you out of your funk:  “Promise yourself to be so strong . . . ”

The Optimist Creed

Promise Yourself …
To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

Sounds kind of “Reagan-esque”, doesn’t it?

Tom Balek, Rockin’ On the Right Side

Give me a job, give me security
Give me a chance to survive
I’m just a poor soul in the unemployment line
My God, I’m hardly alive

“Blue Collar Man” – Styx