Saturday, September 8, 2012

Swing voters - Read this to think deeper

Please pass this on to those who are independent or undecided voters in the swing states and to people who will pass it on to people in the swing states. 


Barack Obama, who I had voted for in the dearth of alternatives and in the hope for change, is a good, committed fellow but he has the misunderstandings typical to an idealist and a person with no grounding in the real world of economics and what actually works and doesn’t work (which is what one learns from actual experience where decisions and strategies must work in actual results).

Yes, we do need to make sure we take care of those who cannot take care of themselves. Yes, we do need to do those functions that can only be done from a centralized system to benefit all Americans. And that includes especially assuring that Americans are educated and productive, able to cover themselves and contribute to the overall good.

But there is an argument of how much further should we go along the continuum of practicality versus idealism.

The ultimate “further” is the ever appealing Socialism. (We are not there, but the question is how far to go.)

“We can do it together. We can provide for all. We can assure equality and that the rich and powerful do not take over.”

The argument in Socialism is fired up by choosing an enemy, or bad guy. The same goes for Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals (which Obama taught in Chicago).

The argument is further fired up by the appealing concept of the government providing for all.

The danger lies here in “entitlement” or classic codependency where people are enabled to depend on rescue and security from another – and this results in less ambition and less self-esteem for the individual but it results in many fewer people contributing to the productivity and welfare of the nation.

The indicator of this that is concrete is the number of people depending on the government (exclusive of those who have paid into a system). (About 50% pay no federal income taxes. Is that reasonable?)

That indicator can creep up without our noticing it.

How much is too much?

Of course, we can’t get all capable people who are unproductive to be productive, but we should be able to limit those who aren’t to, say, 10% (this is in addition to those who are in fact not capable). Surely it would make sense for us to demand that they do whatever they can to carry their own load - and not reward them with any money beyond the slightest subsistence that is demanded by the humanitarianism of not letting anyone starve. But those people must be called on to be responsible – and to contribute– which will help us have more money for the good causes.

Ultimately, Socialism calls for “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” (Wikipedia)

And “we will take care of you” is the ultimate way to get people “fired up” – many people get excited by it.

But it falls short in that it fails to meet the final tests:

1. There is no clear path on how this is to be actually provided. We must not be misled into believing that the rich can provide it (from each according to his ability), because, though appealing, there is not enough wealth for the rich to be able to do that. If you increased taxes on them by 10%, exclusive of the economic effect on growth, only 1/5 of the current deficit would be paid for. Anyone using the argument that the rich can cover you is possibly doing the pied piper approach – for there is no substance to the argument, there is no way to make it work.

All the hope in the world will not make it work, for there is no proven way to make it work.

And note that Socialism has always failed.

And before it ultimately fails, the leaders have to start imposing their own authoritarianism to force people to comply, always.

The beginning is always with the idea of “doing the right thing” by providing for the people. They use their form of “executive orders” (leader orders) to implement “the right thing”, which, incidentally, does look like the right thing and it may be the right thing, but the consequences are not identified clearly(or we would seek a different balance, given that there are tradeoffs – and we must realize that the good fairy will not show up to make it all work).

The leaders fail to stick to the laws and go around them without working it out with the legislature, which is the entity to make the laws – after all, the leaders’ judgment is “superior”to theirs.

Yes, it appears innocuous at first.

Who cares if the budgets submitted to Congress are voted down 100% - by both parties!

Who cares that the immigration laws (which the leaders have determined are not right) are not enforced – and surely it is wonderful to not deport those who have never known another nation. I agree with the latter idea, but shouldn’t the lawmakers agree and be the ones who formulate the laws?

Who cares that the leaders impose regulations and restrictions that support their constituencies even though they are doing it by essentially creating their own laws or not waiting for them to be created by lawful means? No big deal, right?

No big deal, just lots of little changes – which gradually accumulate and catch you before you realize it.

And isn’t it wonderful that we impose these requirements on the evil profitmaking health insurance companies, where they are to provide “for free” certain benefits to all (yes, there appears to be a “good fairy” here). Free is good, and it is appealing, but do we have the right to dictate (as in orders from a dictator)? And without agreement in law?

Where are the limits? And aren’t there signs of going around the law and the rules? How far should we allow that to go? It seems harmless, but we should be aware of it.

2. We are limited by what is real and practical and we should address that,, yes?

And if there are financial concerns shouldn’t we address those with a concrete plan? Or should we just ignore it and rely on hope –hope that it will solve itself in the long run – which of course does not work in the real world!

If we have promises of more and more and more, but we fail to set up a means of fulfilling current promises (currently behind by $100 trillion, per the Trustees reports!), aren’t we in for problems in the future?

But, no, it is easy to ignore that and easier to fire up the people with more promises, briefly alluding to “I’ll take care of that and yes it is serious but we’ll handle it” and “don’t vote for those who are mean and force us to face tradeoffs” (said more convincingly than that, of course).

I don’t like the idea that the “other” party has alternate values to my own, though I cannot prove mine are right, as they are only opinions. I respect theirs. But as I look at it, 72% of the people in the US approve of 1st trimester abortions, so there will be no difference there regardless of who I vote for. And I know that it is not true that the other party will let people starve in the streets, nor do I think that they could impose that even if they wanted to, as the people would have a say-so in that and no one would let it happen. And gay rights will continue to improve.

I see no loss of basicsocial benefits, but I do see a greater ability to be effective plus a willingness to address the tough issues – not just the national debt but the $100 trillion of unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare (still unaddressed by Obama after 3 ½ years; politically wise, but a sell-out on the American people).

One path, in my analysis, has no hope of succeeding, with a leader who has no practical capability and experience, though noble intent. The other will do no damage, because they can’t go beyond the will of the people, but it will at least seek to do what is right and workable and practical – with at least good solid potential.

There seems to be no contest here.

One path is virtually guaranteed not to work – there is no good fairy that will rescue us.

The other path is systematic, disciplined, with a capable proven leader and ‘rescuer’ of businesses, Olympics, and a state. (And in his famous op-ed that was titled by the New York Times and was misleading, he actually proposed to save Detroit by a managed bankruptcy to make each company safely viable and then, and only then, to have government guarantee the necessary loans, so that necessary capital could be obtained. Read the op-ed; don’t rely on the false representations made about this. Detroit.)

And if the people fail to realize that we must follow a path that works, in this world of imperfection and real limits, instead of one that literally has no hope except for the good fairy showing up and rescuing it all – if they fail to realize it, we will suffer greatly as a nation – and drop even further behind in being able to finance all that is good and beneficial in the world.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Argument For Not Raising Taxes - Made Well?

Yes, it is true that if we raise taxes we will pull money out of the economy and reduce our growth.  But few people seem to buy it, as they believe the rich would not be phased by paying higher taxes. 

And many of the rich are saying they would be happy to pay more taxes.

So the Republicans look rather foolish and stubborn.  And they appear to be in favor of the rich at the expense of the poor.  That is a bad public relations move for the Republicans.

I think, though, I've never heard this actually articulated, that the Republicans are holding the line on higher taxes is both because of the benefits of not taking money out of the economy but also very much to have government cut spending much more quickly than if it is continued to be fed money to support government inefficiencies and noneconomic causes.  Of course, both parties are committed to providing sufficient safety nets and safety, but the Republicans are the party standing (too?) strongly for fiscal responsibility.

If the Republicans could strongly reaffirm that, yes, they will protect the citizens no matter what, then people might accept the other argument.

The other argument, as stated above, is that we cannot feed the pig any more taxes and it will continue to be too fat.  The reason is not to protect or favor the rich, but to cut spending more quickly and to not pull money out of the economy for government spending.

The confusion by the public is understandable, if the Republicans are not clear - and given that the Democrats are obscuring the issue by accusing the Republicans of being heartless (not giving away things to the people) and of favoring the rich, implying that it is because the rich contribute to their campaigns. 

Sanity will probably not be the dominant force in politics, so we need to state clearly the reasons for something so that people can understand and thereby be empowered to make better choices. 

What do you think should be done that would be effective in increasing the sanity and the ability to make informed choices?

The Rational NonPolitician

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Income Disparity - The Real Reason

Even our President appears to blame the rich for incomes of the non-rich not rising.  I wonder if he is just not being advised of the natural economics that caused this? 

In a free market, competition and demand will determine the prices (including the price for services).

When we had a distinct advantage where we (the West) had the industrialization advantage and knew how to market and distribute goods, we prospered - because we were more productive.  We had great advantage for many years. 

But eventually other countries began to integrate the technology that had been developed, to become more organized for business and they began to compete.  Of course, their wages were relatively low.  Therefore, the business went to them - they were simply more competitive in price.  

Gradually over the last 30 years, the value of what the West could offer was less and less, as we could no longer compete.  So there was a downward influence on wages.  Actually, the wages driven down were at the lower end, where other countries could compete.  High skill manufacturing jobs dropped 17%, while low skill manufacturing jobs declined 34%.    But these other countries, so far, have not competed as much in the higher-value knowledge areas - those wages have risen, creating an even wider income disparity.

Meanwhile, quite naturally and understandably, the wealth of the rich compounded basically because they were risking and investing - and professionals and knowledge workers had their compensation increase, while all the other wages did not. 

While this is strictly economics, people have blamed the rich for it.  But clearly this is "wrong cause", where the cause is neither logically or correctly identified.

See Discussion On Income Disparities.

The solution does not lie in taking wealth away from others, but in empowering as many as possible so that there are more people contributing and are in the higher value areas - and increasing the size of the pie, rather than just splitting it differently.   And the only way to do that is to educate people in the higher skill areas and direct those resources to higher value areas, as we will not be competitive with the lower skill items that other countries can do more economically. 

Hopefully we can use rational thinking and analysis to direct our efforts - and stop the irrational and political nonsense.  What do you think?

The Rational NonPolitician

Monday, November 14, 2011

Political Expediency - Delay of pipeline til 2013?

Is this President putting an election above the country? 

1.  The route was approved after extensive studies.

2.  The jobs produced would start at 20,000 and go to 500,000, for the Americans.

3.  It allows us to become less dependent on oil from hostile source.

4.  The stand of environmentalists objecting, President Obama put the decision on whether to approve the pipeline to 2013 - after the election. 

5.  Speeding up approval/permit processes is what any country must do if it is to achieve prosperity - and this is another negative indicator on Obama.

If he is indeed doing this for political purposes this does border on being treasonous.

Follow this story and see what is more likely to be the case.  More data below.

The Rational NonPolitician


During high unemployment in the USA in a world-wide recession, the Keystone XL pipeline would start with some 20,000 jobs with another 400,000 to come on steam later down the road.

Canada, who supplies more oil to the US than any other country, also its largest trading partner is proof positive that America does not have to rely on the Middle East for its oil.


For months, the conventional wisdom had been that a presidential permit for Keystone XL was inevitable; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in October 2010 that she was “inclined” to approve it because it was better to get oil from Canada than from less-friendly nations. The State Department then said in August stating that TransCanada’s proposed route is the preferred option.

The department had already examined routes further west and northeast of Nebraska that would have avoided the Sand Hills area and had released a final supplemental environmental review in August that said TransCanada’s proposed route was the preferred option and would have minimal effect on the environment.

“This project is too important to the U.S. economy, the Canadian economy and the national interest of the United States for it not to proceed,” Girling said a statement.


Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune had recently told reporters Obama’s decision on Keystone would “have a very big impact” on whether the nation’s largest environmental group funnels resources more toward congressional races rather than the race for the White House.


The delay would "effectively kill" the project, said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. "The carrying costs are too high, and there's no certainty that at the end of 18 months the pipeline would be approved at all."

Russ Girling, chief executive officer of Calgary-based TransCanada, who had said rerouting delays might kill the project, said yesterday the company remains “confident Keystone XL will ultimately be approved.”

Canada’s ambassador in Washington, Gary Doer,   told reporters in Ottawa that he expected the project to be approved if judged on “merit,” rather than ”noise.”

The deferral on Keystone XL is a blow to the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who called U.S. approval of the pipeline a “no brainer.” Canadian officials underestimated the strength of resistance to the project by Nebraska farmers and environmentalists, political and foreign-policy experts said.

Canadian Finance Minister, Flaherty, 61, will travel later this week to Beijing, where he will discuss increasing energy exports to China and facilitating investment in Canadian natural-resource assets.

“The decision to delay it that long is actually quite a crucial decision. I’m not sure this project would survive that kind of delay,” Flaherty said yesterday in an interview at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Honolulu. “It may mean that we may have to move quickly to ensure that we can export our oil to Asia through British Columbia.”
The delay would "effectively kill" the project, said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. "The carrying costs are too high, and there's no certainty that at the end of 18 months the pipeline would be approved at all." TransCanada wants to build the 1,700-mile pipeline to carry oil extracted from Canadian oil sands to U.S. refineries.

Japan and China 'keen' for Alberta oil

"Basically all of our energy exports are currently going to the United States. We have one customer. So it is a major fundamental strategic objective of Canada to diversify our customer base," Oliver said.

"I was in China and Japan and I just got back yesterday. And let me tell you there’s a keen interest in our resources in both those countries. The Japanese are interested in our natural gas, the Chinese in our oil and gas."



Friday, November 11, 2011

Those Corporations Are Greedy - And They're To Blame

"The corporations are greedy.  They just want to make a billion more by shipping jobs overseas.  They should not do that.  They should hire Americans here.  It is their moral obligation." 

That is what she said to me.

However, is it right for others to tell these people what to do and then get mad at them for not doing what we want them to do?  Was there any agreement made?   Who are we to determine what someone else should do?  Do we want to get into a totalitarian nation forcing things on others and controlling them?

Do we have the right to take money away from the shareholders of the company?  Are they the ones responsible for giving other people jobs here in the US and giving up their money?   Do we want pensions for workers to have less money in them from their investments so they can't retire as well?

If this is a moral obligation, does the person who said it strictly buy American?  If we all were careful to do that, there would be millions more jobs.   But it appears that we try to buy as cheaply as we can.  But don't we have a moral obligation to give up some of our bucks so that Americans can have more jobs?

Isn't this is the culture of blame and irresponsibility.  Isn't this also irrational thinking without a sound basis, based on assumptions that we are right and have the right to tell others what to do?  Though many people are making corporations wrong or bad, does that mean they are correct in asserting that as if it were fact?

If it was a master economist who said it, is he right?  Or is he guilty of fallacious thinking, making up assumptions, and insisting with no basis that others do as he wishes.  (Krugman and Reich do that.)

Yes, global competition does drive wages down and take jobs that Americans might want to have.  But it is not "greedy" corporations who are plotting against us, depriving us of wages and jobs. We cannot expect somebody else to be responsible for our jobs.   And how much profit is too much?  Isn't that the world of judgment and blame and resentment - which is part of the world of irresponsibility?  And isn't it irresponsibility that has caused alot of our problems?

Read about the actual cause of the income and wealth inequality, but don't buy into the "therefore they're 'bad'" argument of the blamers.   I don't see any healthy thinking in taking money from others, though I do see the selfish reason for doing so.  Of course, we don't want the "fat cats" to be selfish.  (One I left off of this draft is that we allow illegal immigration, which brings in more people without educations, which in turn creates more poverty and more inequality of incomes!)

See The Actual Reason For Income And Wealth Disparity.

Note that the person quoted above is not using Rational Thinking and is also not operating from a Personal Responsibility viewpoint.     

Yours toward creating a cooperative nation based on rational thinking and decisions such that we do that which makes us powerful,

The Rational NonPolitician

Friday, November 4, 2011

Obama - Is fiscal responsibility important?

On the site (Those Who Benefit Pay), one of the key values is personal responsibility as opposed to co-dependency and entitlement, as those latter two cause not only actual "seeable" problems but also psychological problems and lack of personal development.  And these, in turn, have effects on others.  If we all were more productive and responsible, the size of the pie would be much, much greater and we all would be better off.

Part of personal responsibility, of course, is being responsible about your money and your spending.
This applies to a person, a business, and a government.

And the lack of responsibility in many small things often add up to or are at least symptoms of overall irresponsibility.


1.  more than $50 trillion of National Debt plus unfunded liabilities to its citizens for Social Security and Medicare (See Deficits/Debt summary page for overview)
2.  $2 trillion of income
3.  Over $3 trillion of spending per year

there is obvious reason for concern.  (Imagine a person being in such financial shape.)

If we have a President who submits a budget that doesn't deal with it, and it is voted down 97-0 in the Senate, do we have an adult in the White House who is taking fiscal responsibility and/or has adequate financial knowledge?

If he has to be forced by the Republicans to address the debt and deficits and does nothing otherwise is this fiscal responsibility?

If he then mentions we have to fix Social Security but never does anything concrete about it, is this fiscal responsibility? (If he gives a "tax holiday" to taxpayers but doesn't see that that makes the fund be less funded, incurring more problems down the road then does he not understand tradeoffs and costs?)

When a President, without approval of Congress, lowers interest on student loans and makes them forgivable in 20 years, does he not realize that someone else has to pay for that?  Such as taxpayers ( because the government has less money coming into its coffers).

When a President, without approval of Congress, sets up a mortgage relief program where old mortgages can be replaced with new lower interest mortgages does not see that there is an additional loss incurred by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for each cancellation and replacement, we have a problem.   And later we'll have to add to the incredible bailout (so far over $180 billion, but expected to go above $500 billion) of those two government guaranteed agencies.

This may be politically good, as everyone likes to be given benefits and not pay for them.  Or it may, which is just as harmful, be financial naivete on the President's part, where he sees only how he is being charitable without seeing the greater harm that inevitably, cumulatively, will be wrought upon this nation.

Fiscal responsibility is absolutely mandatory.  And I hope we stop demonizing those who have made proposals for being more fiscally responsible - and just accept their ideas and modify them if needed.

Objectively, we cannot continue to have this fiscally irresponsible and/or naive President in office.  That sounds political, but all facts point to this.  He should be in a different job where his brilliance and leadership fit, but not in this job.  (See Evaluation Of The Obama Presidency.)

Submittted for your consideration and feedback, respectfully,

The Rational NonPolitician

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How should Medicare be paid for and to whom?

[Below, we ask you to respectfully and conscientiously consider the following for the good of the country toward coming to better solutions for us all.]

Given the guarantee that those who can't afford it otherwise will be covered as well as they are presently under Medicare, I would choose the following:

____ Yes, ___ No.   To have the government pay to a private insurer, with rules to assure mandatory coverage equivalent to what is there now.  This is anticipated to lower costs because of competition.

____ Yes, ___ No.   To have personal responsibility and to see what the costs are so that I make more responsible choices.  This has been proven to work better than where people have no responsibility and no awareness of the costs.  (See what happened in Indiana, below, before you make your choice.)

____ Yes, ___ No.    I believe the government is a good manager of services.

____ Yes, ___ No.    I only believe the role that government can do adequately is pay out the money.

Checkmark this if you agree with it:

___ If I am guaranteed the same benefits, I do not buy the accusation that Medicare is being taken away from us. 

Express any concerns you still have:

____ I'm not sure that competition will work to lower costs.

Other comments:  

Please send your answers to your congresspersons.

The Rational NonPolitician

P. S. I recommend that a polling organization do a statistically valid poll to see what the choices are once a person is more informed.


Overall, participants in our new plan ran up only $65 in cost for every $100 incurred by their associates under the old coverage... It turns out that, when someone is spending his own money alone for routine expenses, he is far more likely to ask the questions he would ask if purchasing any other good or service:

Indiana covers the premium for the plan. The intent is that participants will become more cost-conscious and careful about overpayment or overutilization.

What we found:  individually owned and directed health-care coverage has a startlingly positive effect on costs for both employees and the state.

Most important, we are seeing significant changes in behavior, and consequently lower total costs.

They were much more likely to use generic drugs than those enrolled in the conventional plan,
resulting in an average lower cost per prescription of $18.

They were admitted to hospitals less than half as frequently as their colleagues.  Differences in health status between the groups account for part of this disparity, but consumer decision-making is, we've found, also a major factor.

Source:  WSJ article