Philosophical Musings

Philosophical Musings

Monday, December 12, 2011

 I like america.. or at least the idea of america. I am as smitten as a new immigrant with the depth & wisdom that the early founders of the us displayed. I like the idea of personal freedom, & limited govt. I know it is hard to implement.. especially with statists in every generation wanting to drag us back to Big Brother govts. Maybe it's over. Maybe the days of individual freedom & liberty have fallen. Maybe everyone in the us wants a socialistic system & more state controls. I'll just reminisce & read history of the most amazing experiment man has ever made. I'll sit in my rocking chair & reread the constitution & the declaration of independence. I'll die in peace, knowing my ancestors worked & died to build this nation, & it worked for a while. It may pass, but as long as i live, there will be one free american.

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
Thomas Jefferson

Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.
Thomas Jefferson

"We the People are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts--not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."
Abraham Lincoln

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.
Edmund Burke

Saturday, December 10, 2011

America divided

Is America divided?  I think most of the 'division' in america is more philosophical.. we are choosing between federalism/statism/socialism on the one side, & states rights/personal responsibility/free markets, on the other. It is my contention that the free market is a better system for a nation such as the us. With our size, diversity, & population, a smaller socialistic state model doesn't work. We cannot just plug the successes of sweden into the us & expect it to work. There are too many variables.

But i am in favor of simple, fair regulations for the free market, otherwise we will have unscrupulous exploiters who will take advantage of people, & use their wealth & power to oppress the common man. These regulations are pretty simple.. child labor laws, truth in lending, full disclosure, insider trading, etc. Most have been around a long time, & arose from necessity. There is a risk of the state overstepping its bounds & using the power of the govt to pick winners, as was done in railroads in previous centuries, and more recently in defense contracts, 'green' industry lending, bank & corporate bailouts, etc. Better oversight & checks & balances can offset those problems. Corruption can never be fully eliminated, but we can try to keep it down, & not let it flourish like it has been doing lately.

Balance is necessary. We cannot thrive in unregulated free markets, where the money people can run roughshod over the common people, but neither can we have excessive regulations where the state is managing to the point of being socialistic. I believe the founders of america came upon a good system of checks & balances, & a balance of power. It maximizes freedom for the individual, while encouraging entrepreneurial ventures. I do not want to see the socialist policies take over in the us, with the left claiming capitalism & open markets have failed. It is not free market & capitalism that has us in $15t debt & rising. It has been socialistic programs & policies. Let us phase those out, since they are bankrupting us, return to a more balanced approach with more power given to the states, & let the federal govt stick to international & interstate affairs, not micromanaging every aspect of the individual's life.

A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government. 
Thomas Jefferson

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them. 
Thomas Jefferson 

"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government -- lest it come to dominate our lives and interests."
Patrick Henry

“I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such: because I think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well-administred; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administred for a Course of Years and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.” 
Benjamin Franklin

"If I were asked the difference between Socialism and Communism, I could only reply that the Socialist tries to lead us to disaster by foolish words and the Communist could try to drive us there by violent deeds."
Winston Churchill

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Eternity & the existence of God

For me, the existence of God is THE most important question in the universe. If there is no God & life is a cosmic accident, then nothing really matters. You're alive for a few years, then die. Eternity past & eternity future have no meaning. Your short time of existence is a blip on the radar screen. Eternity & the universe take no notice of you.

But if there is a God & an afterlife of sorts, then that seems to me to be the most important factor in our lives.. if what we do & think during this short time affects us for eternity, then the stakes are much higher. IF there is a spiritual realm, then finding out about it would seem to be a fairly important part of our world view, & would affect our plans, lifestyle, interaction with others, & overall outlook.

IF there is a God, then another thing can be deduced: God has shrouded himself in mystery, & has not plainly revealed himself to his creation. He seems to not be bothered by dogmatic assertions from the religious or irreligious alike, & lets us bicker, fight, & kill each other to defend or promote our ideas of what he is like. I cannot deduce what his purpose in that might be.

There is Truth. There is an ultimate Reality. Most (if not all) of us just do not know what it is. We speculate, deduce, & reason with what information we have, but we do not know.

Eccl. 8:14 There is futility which is done on the earth, that is, there are righteous men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the wicked. On the other hand, there are evil men to whom it happens according to the deeds of the righteous. I say that this too is futility. 15 So I commended pleasure, for there is nothing good for a man under the sun except to eat and to drink and to be merry, and this will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.

16 When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night), 17 and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun. Even though man should seek laboriously, he will not discover; and though the wise man should say, “I know,” he cannot discover.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Defending the Constitution. The US Military & foreign involvement

I find it ironic that some fiscal conservatives support the huge military budget & our military involvement in other countries.  Military costs account for 25% of our budget.  That's not much as a percentage, but when you factor in the enormous deficit spending, & the vast amount of fraud & waste, it is a tidy sum.. over $1T/yr, according to many estimates.   When you add up the results of our massive spending in our military ventures, it is not worth it, neither in bringing peace to the world, nor in furthering the cause of freedom & self determination for all people.  Is the world a more peaceful place with our military involvement?  Or do we use Obama's justification saying it would have been much worse, had we not done the spending (or bombing, etc)?

We have ~ 130 bases throughout the world.  Obviously they cost a lot, & what is their purpose?  Our military are often used as an enforcement tool for businesses.  The result is also loss of respect for american values in the countries we are occupying.  The ugly american syndrome is furthered, taxpayer money is wasted, & the worst consequense of our military philosophy: lives are lost.

We also cannot afford the foreign aid we have been giving to other countries.  Why should american taxpayers be giving  money to other nations in the world?  Certainly, if there is a catastrophe, americans can & do give to relief efforts.  But most of our foreign aid is tied with military involvement, or buying the politicians in other countries.  We pretend to be indignant with politicians' link to money & political corruption, but engage in the same practices on a policy level.

Here are some ideas for saving money & promoting the cause of freedom in the world:

1.  Start at zero all foreign aid.  Some of the new repub candidates are promoting this idea.  I will take it one step further:  Keep it at zero.  Handing out money only breeds corruption.  Corruption in the country we pretend to be helping causes resentment & usually reduces the freedom in that country.. corrupt dictators use american tax dollars to oppress their own people, & we have their blood on our hands.  Propping up corrupt regimes should never be in our global interests.  We could more easily justify sending these tyrants a few drones, rather than supporting them.

2.  Close all foreign bases.  Bring our troops home.  Secure our borders, & use diplomacy & intellegence to secure our interests.  Let businesses take risks when opening up ventures in unstable countries, & not look to the us military to reduce them.

3.  Get out of nato & the united nations.  These have become corrupt organizations controlled by either money people, looking to profit from military action, or ideologues using american tax dollars to promote their agenda.

4.  Define American 'interests'.  This term is used to justify military action & the massive wasting of american tax money.  It is not in our interests, i submit, for us to be the world 'policeman'.  We are a test model for freedom.  200 years ago, our forefathers fought for this experiment in individual freedom.  The military was never intended to become what it is now.  Many of the founders warned of this.  I think our 'interests' should be protecting the american citizens' rights to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness.  This is not a guarantee of any financial venture in foreign countries.  If we have a vibrant, free society, with a solid financial basis in our economy, we have the power to exert tremendous economic pressure on other countries.  Let us use that as a weapon.

5.  No wars or military action without full congressional approval.  No police actions.  No joining in with nato or the un to promote their agenda because a president thinks it is a good idea.  Committing our military is & should be a last resort, & should have a united us govt to back it.

6.  No deficit spending on military action.  We should have a balanced budget amendment, anyway, but especially in our military endeavors.  Future generations should not have to pay for the imperialistic desires of the past.

We have lost too many young americans in questionable military engagements.  We have wasted trillions of dollars blowing up other nations & killing their people.  I don't see any justification in these sacrifices.  Our military people are brave & loyal to the nation.. their principal charge is to 'defend the constitution of the United States of America'.  These police actions do not threaten our constitution, but our politicians do, with their manipulating of the military.  Lets get back to a more constitutional view of the military.  Many lives will be spared, money will be saved & can be spent on building, not destroying, & the image of america as a beacon of freedom will not be marred by the hypocrisy of our politicians & money peoples' special interests.

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose—and you allow him to make war at pleasure.
Abraham Lincoln

Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method inexorably must choose lying as his principle.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world. 
Thomas Jefferson 

The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.
Charles-Louis De Secondat

We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

War is just a racket...I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else.
General Smedley Butler

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Student loans & fannie mae lending

If there was a pure open market, then only the very wealthy could afford to send their kids to the plush schools with the high prices, unless they get a fat scholarship.  The rest of the schools would have to compete for the majority student dollar.  That is how it has been for most of the last century.  You could start at a juco, then finish at a decent state university & not be in debt for the rest of your life.

But the politicians/bankers/academians decided that was not good enough.  Why should only rich kids or smart scholarship kids get to go to the expensive schools?  Lets provide easy money for people to go to school anywhere they want!  It's not really a low interest loan, either.  Currently it is more than twice as much as a home loan.

I have no doubt that there have been a great number of students who partook of the program & managed it wisely.  For them, it has not been a problem.  Those responsible, financially sensible kids would have done fine with or without it.  But the problem is the great number of less sophisticated borrowers.  A great number of them racked up huge debt for fluffy degrees.  Yes, it can be argued that they shouldn't have taken out such huge loans for a degree that was unlikely to provide a return on their investment.  The same argument is directed toward the borrowers of housing loans.  All those poor people who bought high priced houses but did not have the means to pay it back.  THEY caused the housing crash.  THEY were irresponsible borrowers.  But a greater number of people see the predatory lenders as being the problem.  They packaged the loan in a pretty wrap with a nice ribbon.  Neither the poor house buyer nor the poor student could lose!  Why would they not want to take the loan?

But here is the main difference, & what makes the student loans much more insidious:  The house borrowers can just default on the loan.  Their credit will suffer for 7 years, and they can go on without the burden of the debt.  But the student cannot.  The student is saddled with the debt forever!  They cannot bankrupt out of it.  Only death will release them, & i'm sure the bankers are looking into how they can beat that & pass it on to someone else, like their other dark ages practices.

The socialistic house lending policies only put us into an economic tail spin for years, bankrupted thousands of people, leaving millions more upside down in their houses, & ended thousands of construction related businesses.  It will eventually turn around.  But the student loans stick to them like hot tar.  And the interest just continues to rise!  A french poetry major with $100k in student loan debt is accruing interest at the rate of $8-10k per year, and that is only if they got an extension & have the loan deferred.  If they are in default, the interest & penalties are more.  They cannot afford $2-300/month payment on a loan.. & that wouldn't even cover the interest.

Any solutions?  Here's some of mine:

1.  Stop the program.  Make it a regular loan like any other.  It may be harder to get for a while (tried to buy a house lately?), but lenders will make the loans to good risks.  Poor kids can get scholarships if they are smart, & they can work their way through school, too.  Smart, hard working people will find a way to get ahead in a free market system.  Lazy, spoiled, entitled people will continue to be a burden on society, as they always have been.  That is another topic.

2.  Let the banks & academia take some of the hit.  Let them cut back the amount owed.. do a 'making education affordable' plan that helps kids who are upside down in their student loans get out of them.  Or cancel the credits they have, & cancel the loans.  But demanding that all of these young (& some not so young) people repay the huge loans they have incurred, without any escape from them is a return to dark ages lending policies.  Our student loan borrowers have become modern day indentured servants.  They will have to work for years to make a dent in their loans, if they can even cover the interest.  The risk & consequences of these predatory loans was not adequately disclosed, & they should never have been allowed, anyway.  Our politicians & academians were not looking out for the students' interests, but only their own & the banks' profit.

A great number of the OWS crowd are college graduates with huge student loans.  They are blaming the bankers, who are greedy & predatory, to be sure.  But they should be protesting the govt & academia, who allowed the greedy money people to do this.  The money people are always greedy, & always want to screw us.  ..always have, always will.  We the people have had to regulate them to keep that from happening.. or at least reduce it.  Protesting the banks is misdirected.  We need to change the politicians.  We need financial regulations from politicians who are not in the pocket of the money people.

It was socialistic policies that caused this mess, & many think more socialism will get us out.  Can we not see the folly of that?  Do we think that protesting bankers will cause them to be generous?  Do we think that letting the govt control all of the financial sector will bring efficiency & lessen corruption?

Free markets.  Fair regulations.  Freedom.  This will work.

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. 
Thomas Jefferson 

"The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. The banking powers are more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. They denounce as public enemies all who question their methods or throw light upon their crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe."
Abraham Lincoln

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the Public Treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the Public Treasury with a result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy always followed by dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years."
Sir Alexander Fraser Tyler

We contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
Winston Churchill

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Student loans.. the new indentured servitude

The education loan flood is eerily similar to the fannie mae & freddy mac debacle. It is based on the same assumptions. Free money! The principal difference is the house mortgage borrowers can default if they can't make the payment. They can just dump the house. But student loans stay with you forever! It is a financial policy return to the dark ages. It also caused, it can be argued, the massive spike in education, just like when housing went up.

How about we let the kids who are up to their eyeballs in debt for a useless degree, give it back? Since they got talked into 'buying' this degree, let them give it back. They don't get the piece of paper for the cushy job that was promised, & the banks & academia have to cancel the loan. Let them take a hit on their predatory lending practices, not just dump it on the student (and their parents).

The promise of easy money is never kept. It may drag on for a while, but like any ponzi scheme, there will be an end, & it is usually bad for those left holding the bag. The housing loan scam from the politicians with easy money for everyone was one. The student loan scam will be next.

America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.
Oscar Wilde

"Those who steal from private individuals spend their lives in stocks and chains; those who steal from the public treasury go dressed in gold and purple."
Marcus Porcius Cato

"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."
Albert Einstein

Friday, November 25, 2011

Politicians & Big Money.

We have an unholy alliance between politicians and the big money people.  The banks, unions, big manufacturing (slowly going to china, now), big corporations & their lure of money to our leaders is at the root of most of our problems. Add to that the socialist leanings of the populace, & you get the chaos we have now.

Here are some of my solutions:
1. End all fed govt subsidies.. business, farm, academic, foreign, domestic. We'll have to phase some of these out, since so many people have come to depend on them. But why should we support a violent totalitarian regime like mubarek's? Or why pay someone to not work or grow things? And why should the american taxpayers do it, anyway? That won't end all corruption, which will always be with us, but it will limit it & not allow it to explode like we see today, with over $15 T debt.

2. Stop the drift or lean or tendency toward socialistic policies. Go with a regulated open market. That is america's heritage, & it works. The rest of the world longs for that, why in the world would we want to emulate their failures? Our jeffersonian democracy is the envy of the world. Lets keep it going & be a truly free people.

3. Change the culture of Washington. Too many for too long have seen public service as a grab bag of free money & a ride on the gravy train. We need to limit the money that is available to the fed govt, & we need to have better watchdogs & prosecute when the crooks break the law.

4. Cut back the military. I'm going ron paul on this one. Close all our foreign bases. Stop meddling in other countries' affairs. Support free people with public encouragement, not secret arms deals. Stop supporting totalitarian regimes. Let other countries fight for their freedom & liberties like we did.. sure, we can make treaties or alliances, but we shouldn't be occupying. If we have to send troops somewhere, there should be a formal declaration of war, voted on by the entire congress.. no presidential police actions.

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
Thomas Jefferson

When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.
Thomas Jefferson

To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.

People say that money is not the key to happiness, but I always figured if you have enough money, you can have a key made.
Joan Rivers

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Education, Banks, Politicians, & the Dark Ages

Academia, politicians & the banking system.. strange bedfellows.

Anyone see the irony in the partnership the banks have with academia?  Academics pretend to be interested only in providing a balanced & educated world view, but they indoctrinate from an early age:  "You must go to college to get ahead", they preach, "& you can get student loans, assistance, & waivers to do it.. everyone should go to college!"

They do not prepare for competing in the marketplace, or choosing a vocation that is practical or can actually get a good job, but only the vague concept of 'going to college'.  Then they work with the banks & politicians to provide money for these newly indoctrinated lemmings who trust their teachers.. they seem so sincere & smart.. not like the stupid people they warned about outside of school.

So the politicians, working in close association with the money people & academia, come up with a plan:  Make loans that you can't get away from, even with bankruptcy!  What a great idea!  Just like the old days!  If your family incurred debts, you could be sold as an indentured servant until the debt is paid.  Now, you will always have the school debt with you, & can never get away from it, even if you made stupid choices in choosing a college or a particular degree, if you even got one.

So here you are, flush with enthusiasm from the graduation speeches, looking for that job that was promised.  Ok, maybe a few more resume's.  ..maybe try a few more in places i didn't really want to live..  ..ok, how about anything in this field?  Pretty soon you find out that you can get into debt collections, timeshare sales, or the food industry, & even though your degree didn't help with that job, you at least have a well balanced liberal arts degree & can feel superior to the uneducated morons who missed it.

But now you don't make enough to pay off that loan.  You've deferred it for a few years, & interest has accrued, making the payments even higher.  So you get another deferment.. but the interest is more than 10 times what you get in a savings acct. or even a car loan.  If you had 20-30k in original loans, it's now up to 40-50.. and on top of that, all the credit card offers you got, which you kept current with the student loans, are maxing out.  Those rates are even higher than the student loan rates!

But maybe you were smart, & got mom & dad to co-sign for the student loans.  Now they have to start making payments, or their credit goes down the tubes.  But they took out a second loan to buy an investment house, & now they can't sell the house they bought or their own home, because the prices crashed, leaving them upside down in both.  They're thinking of bankruptcy, too.

You still can't get away from those student loans!  You can lose your house, your car, all your investments, your life savings... or any other financial venture you undertook.. but not the 'investment' in your education!  That is one that will always pay off, according to the academians, so it's a safe investment.  They sold it to you as a 'no lose' investment, but it doesn't look so good now.

Who profited from your 'investment'?  Why the banks, of course, with their quietly increasing interest.  The academians?  Yes, they got the tuition & all the other rising costs for the ponzi scheme they came up with.  They could charge full price & let costs skyrocket!  The tenured professors can keep their fat salaries, & a nice pension to boot, thanks to you!  The politician?  For sure.. they got fat contributions from the teacher's unions, plenty of money from the big money people, & they got to support a popular, politically correct govt. program:  Education.  If you think it is expensive, try stupidity.  How about we redefine stupidity & call it education!

So you're sorry you got that masters in french poetry, now that you owe almost 100k in loans & accrued interest.  You would like to get an engineering degree, or something in computers, since there are better jobs in that field, but you can't get any  more loans, & you can't afford to go to school, since you're having to work a lot of hours at the restaurant, & you significant other is also having trouble finding work.  Any & all other debts can be wiped clean.. yes, you made some bad choices getting the new furniture.. & you shouldn't have gotten the car, but they reposessed those, & your bankrupty cleared off all your other bad debts.. except for your wonderful student loan!  You will have that to make payment to for a long time.  Forget building up your credit score.. forget having enough to buy a house.  You have to pay for the 'social programs' that academia, the banks, & the wonderful politicians came up with.

Ok, now i'll tell you what i really think.  Making loans that cannot be settled or removed, especially directed towards youth & unsophisticated financial planners, is immoral & should be illegal.  It is a policy return to the dark ages & indentured servitude.  Young people don't even have to ask their parents, but can stack up a mountain of debt in student loans.

I understand the reasoning why they did it.  Banks wouldn't lend to students & let them pile up huge loans, because they would just declare bankruptcy.  But then academia would lose money, so they got their politicians to make this plan, glossing over any problems that might arise.  So the entire country get to pay the price for their lack of foresight & incompetence (at best), or special interest corruption (at worst)

It is unfair to saddle young people with the burden of inescapable debt.  The academians pushed the debt on them, promising them pies in the sky if they would only go to college & support the academic agenda.  Let them help in paying them off, & end the practice.  Sure, loans will dry up, but so will the mountain of debt.  Colleges will have to be competitive & provide a real product.  Many will not & will fail because of mismanagement & an impractical mission statement, but that is how the open market works.  Why should academia be guaranteed a place in the market?  They are just a business like any other.

So, who is likely to foot the bill for this?  Any guesses?  Do you think American taxpayers are very high on the probablity list?

What is my solution?  It's easy to criticize & find fault.. how about helping with a solution?

1.  End the practice.  It's just a loan like any other.  Secure it, or take a chance.

2.  Share the loss.  The student shouldn't be the only loser in this scam.  The banks & academia should too.  Provide a renegotiated loan with the original school giving some back & the banks cutting their part, too.

3.  Fire the politicians.  This was my fault, kids.  I and my generation were not watchful & alert to the scams & schemes that these unscrupulous charlatans came up with.  We'll fire them & get people who will look out for the people's interests & bring freedom back to America.  It will be tough to change the culture.. politicians are too used to the grab bag of money in washington, but we can cut their money & limit the corruption.  We'll find some honest people who will cut the fraud, waste & corruption.  It will take some time, so we better get started asap.

I don't know how we could implement it, but i think it would be a good idea if the profiteers from govt scams like this had to pay it back, & even go to jail.  That would certainly discourage future scammers, & we could get some of our tax money back.  It would be a drop in the bucket, but how about the heads of fannie mae, etc, have to repay all their bonuses & salary for their failures?  How about if the politicians who voted for spending packages had to repay out of their pocket any waste, fraud or corruption?  There would be a little more care in the voting process, i'm sure.

But that is unlikely, & probably too hard to fairly enforce.  But i'm sure we could come up with something with some teeth to discourage this kind of special interest corruption.

"The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. The banking powers are more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. They denounce as public enemies all who question their methods or throw light upon their crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe."
Abraham Lincoln

"Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience."
John Locke

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
George Bernard Shaw

How many people here have telekenetic powers? Raise my hand. 
Emo Philips

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Divided States of America..

Maybe it's the instantaneous availability of current news.. maybe its just that dissension & fighting gets more news coverage. But it seems to me that the US is becoming more & more split ideologically. We have the occupiers at one extreme, & the tea party at the other. The left & the right. The left generally wants more govt, more spending, cradle to grave nanny state solutions. The right wants less govt, cut spending, more traditional american values of freedom & self reliance.

That is simplistic, i know, but is a basic summary of the main differences.

There doesn't seem to be a 'silent majority' anymore. People are leaning to either position, & with good reason. We have had a 'blend' of the 2 ideologies, which has resulted in our current problems. ..$15T in debt & still rising. We either need to go full socialism, or get back to a free market economy. This blend has only given us the worst of both, with rampant corruption making matters worse.

The tolerance of corruption is unbelievable. It's like the leaders think the system is going down, & are letting their cronies grab what they can before it crashes.

The extreme left is pushing for full socialism, of course, & seems to be willing to use violence to get there. They have organized or at least hijacked the occupy movement, & are now looking for violent confrontation to get their agenda in place. Do we think the extreme right will sit by idly while this happens? Violent confrontation seems to be in the not too distant future. A new civil war is brewing with these ideological differences.

And where are our leaders? Our commander in chief is fanning the flames of division with his constant class warfare remarks, & seems to be promoting the left's agenda, & egging on the occupy crowd.

Instead of looking for real solutions to our problems, & healing our divisions, the country is splitting even more, with the full support & encouragement of the govt.

I suppose this is really nothing new.. every so often a nation must define itself.. each generation must choose who they will be. I am very sorry my generation made such a mess of things.. we were like spoiled bratty rich kids who just partied away their parents hard earned savings, then spent more & left the debt to their kids.

I don't think the occupy movement is just opposing corporate greed, or greed in general. It seems to me that most of the occupiers are just as greedy.. they just want theirs. Many of those interviewed want their student loans paid off, or a slice of the pie, somehow. With the rampant corruption in the govt, i suppose i can't blame others for wanting to get in on the gravy train. But surely we realize that there is no free lunch, & someone is footing the bill. Every ponzi scheme ends badly for those at the end.

What is greed? In its basic form, it is just the desire to get ahead.. to build a family, empire, or company. It is a competition to have more that others, perhaps, but it also a desire for security & a better life. Everyone seems to want more.. we are never satisfied with what we have. Many studies have been done that show all levels of the income spectrum wishing for just a little more, then they would have enough. Is greed really evil? If you can charge more for your time or services would you do it? If you can get a better paying job, wouldn't you do it? If sellers can price their products so they sell, but they make more than they need, is that wrong? Apple gets a lot for their iphone, but when the android os came out, it took a bit of their market share.. they have to convince everyone that their product is better, worth more, & price it to sell.

There are laws that prevent monopolies from charging whatever they want, and antitrust laws to prevent organized price fixing. But i don't think the complaints from the occupiers are really about that. They are against capitalism in general.. they are michael moore followers.. dreaming of a utopia where everything is equal. But where has socialism ever worked?

I submit that greed is the fuel that drives people to work hard & get ahead, if they can get compensated. In purely socialistic states, worker production is very flat, because there is no motivation to excel. "The greater good" just does not motivate people like "more for me & my family". China is another good example. When in full socialism, they were stagnant. Once they opened the door to capitalistic enterprise, it has exploded. This is just basic human nature.. there is no changing it or denying it.

But these are arguments about what is dividing us. ..and i think it is good to have the clear choices in the open, not disguised or muddled in politically correct terminology. I think it is a division between a more socialistic direction for the country, & a return to free market capitalism. The next generation will have to make that choice. Mine has made a mess of things by trying to have both, but that hasn't worked at all, so a definitive choice needs to be made.. what kind of country do you want? We cannot just let the extremists & ideologues decide for us. Thinking people need to learn from history, understand the times they are in, & speak up for what they want. I don't think socialism will be an escape from greed or excesses by the elite.. they will still do that, & have the additional power to keep the rest of us from rising to their station, if we so desire.

Isn't this the simple point of division in the US? Capitalism vs. Socialism? 

I have to admit that i am not very sympathetic to the occupiers. These do not seem to be people wanting freedom, but free stuff. But it also seems to be a hodge podge of extremists, criminals, & unwitting dupes. I am not a fan of banks or financial institutions in general. I am too familiar with history to trust them. They take advantage of people & exploit situations to their advantage.. but who doesn't? I would predict that any of the occupiers who had an opportunity to profit from a current event would do so.. just like our congress does when they are lucky in the stock market, just coincidentally related to a bill they are working on.

Self reliance is what made America. Dependence is what will kill it. What made us different from the euro states was we didn't look to the king, parliament, or any lords for our sustenance. Just get the hell out of our way, & we'll take care of ourselves, thank you very much. You don't have to go that far back in our history to see it. But that does not seem to be the direction the country is headed. Dependency & free stuff is what we want, now.

This is also the root of our division. It is defined fuzzily by the media, perhaps, but it is still that basic difference: Self reliance vs. Dependence. Small govt. vs. Big govt. Capitalism vs. Socialism.

"The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants."
Albert Camus

"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."

If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else. 
Yogi Berra 

It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master. 
Ayn Rand 

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes. 
Jack Handey

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Can Obama win with just the left base?

It looks like Obama is abandoning (for now) any appeal to moderates & is targeting his left wing base.. trying to rally his troops. The last few campaign rallies seem to be aimed at them. He chided the black congressional caucus, promised the dream act (again) to latinos, & all but guaranteed lots of govt. contracts for the unions.

But will unions, latinos, & the black vote be enough? Will his alienation of middle america & anti-wealth rhetoric bite him in the butt?

He also needs the youth vote.. a big bloc that he courted in '08, but he seems to be neglecting somewhat, now.

It seems to me that the only group he has come through with govt. goodies has been the unions. Blacks are not better off under Obama.. unemployment is much worse in the black community. Welfare & food stamps have skyrocketed, if you want to call that courting the black vote. Latinos have not gotten anything but empty promises.. no amnesty.. no dream act. He had the opportunity with a full dem congress, but spent it all on obamacare.

So will his base come out in droves & vote for him? I don't think so. The minorities are wising up to the left's constant race baiting. Blacks, Latinos, & other ethnic groups are not just rubber stamping whomever the democratic bosses tell them to vote for. You can fool people for a while with racial manipulation, but they are not stupid & will see through it eventually. Herman Cain, Allen West, & Marco Rubio are evidence that fiscal conservatism & constitutional america strikes a chord in everyone, regardless of race.

How about the 'womens' vote? The democrats have trumpeted themselves as the party of women, but where are the women democrats on the rise? Hilary? She seems to be content fixing sandwiches for Barry. Is Debbie Wasserman-Schultz the new face of democratic women? She will appeal to a handful of liberal academians or npr news anchors, but will not speak for the majority of american women of any race. The repubs, on the other hand, have women coming out of the woodwork, running for president, congress, senate, & dog catcher. They seem to have a better message that resonates with American women. No, it seems that democratic sexism is over, too. Women won't just blindly vote for whomever liberal men tell them to vote for, just because they are women.

If the democratic party doesn't abandon it's far left socialist agenda, i'm afraid they will lose by a landslide in the next election. A little financial responsibility would go a long way. ..less class warfare & economic divisiveness would help, too.

Obama ran as a moderate in '08. Will he be able to win over any moderates or conservatives in the next election?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Health care spending.. National comparisons

Here is an interesting table.

It seems from this chart that the US spends way more per capita on health care than any other nation. ..more than twice as much as Sweden, for example. And considering our GDP is also the highest in the world, we spend a greater percentage of that than any other nation. So obviously money is not the key to good health care. But why does the US spend more than anyone, yet get the least return? Is it because of the evil capitalists who are in complete control of our health care system?

I don't think so. I also see some major factors in this chart that are not pointed out, as well as some major omissions. There are only 2 countries here in the top 10 populated countries of the world. The US is #3 with ~ 312m people. Japan is #10 with 128m. Most of the rest of the countries listed are the size of some of our states. The point being that it is easier to manage things like health care in smaller states, with smaller populations.

It seems whenever the US Fed. govt. gets involved in controlling an industry, that the costs go up & fraud & corruption increase. I would point to this as a source of our increased cost of health care. If the fed would get out of micro managing everything, & let some free market solutions come in, i believe we would see decreased costs in health care, as competition to provide a better, more cost effective product would drive the market. Certainly we need some regulation, but not the massive control the fed is trying to do.

I still have no problem with a state having universal health care if it wants it. Massachusetts decided to try it a few years back. Obama used them as a model. In a state the size of Sweden or New Jersey, it is easier to manage things without the accompanying fraud, corruption, & inefficiency that you get when you expand it 10 fold. To be fair, there should be larger countries in the chart... some that are more the size of the US. I'll list a few. This is from wikipedia list of world population.

1 China 1,339,724,852
2 India 1,210,193,422
3 United States 311,946,000
4 Indonesia 237,556,363
5 Brazil 190,732,694
6 Pakistan 176,873,000
7 Nigeria 158,423,000
8 Bangladesh 151,053,000
9 Russia 142,905,200
10 Japan 127,950,000

There are other factors as well. How multicultural is Japan? Not very. It is more like Sweden than the US. How much does Japan spend on defense? How much do they contribute to world security? How many Norwegians have gone to police actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Africa, etc? How much immigration does Norway have compared to the US? How many Swedes pay taxes? How many are on the dole?

I would say that considering the US is the 3rd largest country in the world, & spends the most per capita on heath care, & spends the most as percentage of GDP, we are doing surprisingly well, considering the other larger countries & the problems they have. Not too many Europeans go to China, India, Indonesia, or Brazil for health care. A lot come to the US.

Most of the larger countries of the world do not provide very good health care for their citizens, public or private. It is financially impossible. If the US tries to offer Swedish style services with the associated costs, we will end up looking more like India or Bangladesh than a western country. It will bankrupt us, as our higher costs drain our resources. Health care is a cost. It does not produce anything. It is more like money spent on defense. It is an industry that is supported by the rest of the citizens of the country. It is a luxury, not a divine right. Many of the countries with high marks on World Health Organization lists are in trouble financially. Italy, Greece, & Portugal have pretty high marks.. according to the WHO. I'm not sure of their data or agenda, but I'll take their rankings at face value.

Like most statistics, anything can be spun to prove almost anything. Either side of a debate can use the same data to prove their points. Charts & graphs are fun.. they look good & imply authority on a topic.  They provide interesting data.. but there are so many variables that it is hard to draw any hard conclusions about the data, except that there are a lot of variables! .. and that statistics are fun for bean counting nerds.

But i will draw one conclusion from this.. it is a conclusion i had already made so it was easy to spin the data to fit my pre-conceived notion:

Larger countries have more trouble providing good health care for their citizens. It is more practical to do it on a smaller, local level, where the actual services are offered.

If we can grasp this, we will return this sort of responsibility to the state & local level, rather than have the Fed. try to manage it. You get the least bang for your buck when the federal govt. does anything. Why would we even want them to do this? Keep it simple. Keep it local. Bigger is not better, when it comes to efficiency in govt.

Health care for all.. death no more!

I don't know how to say this to soften it, but life sucks sometimes. You get old. You get sick. Sometimes you die. There's no real escape from it. No medical system can prevent it. There are multitudes of problems with universal health care & with pay as you go. The cost is the major one. Someone has to pay for it. We do not have enough rich people to tax them at 100% that would cover everyone's health issues. Something has to give. You either ration the care, like is done in most socialist health care systems, or you pay through the nose, or have insurance. If you're poor, you won't get the higher end services in any healthcare system. You've got to have big bucks or primo insurance. The health care costs in the us are ridiculously high. I don't know how to solve this. Socializing it won't do it. Do we have cheaper military or police or firefighters with those services 'socialized?' I don't see how you can pick out the health care industry & suddenly tell doctors, nurses, etc, that they will now make $15/hr.. or $10.. or $5. Won't they unionize? Won't they demand higher pay? They will at least want to get what firemen or policemen get.. or perhaps congressmen.. Euro socialist countries can get by with it because they don't pay the providers. That's why they have the 'brain drain'. People come over here to study, then get a job here because the pay is so much more. Medicare is just another example of why the govt should not be in this kind of business. They are inept, can't negotiate, breed corruption, & are wasteful. We should try to limit the federal govt's management of things to a minimum. If they can keep the highways going, negotiate trade & international treaties, & protect the citizens, that is about as much as we should expect from them. Why on earth we think they can manage anything else with any degree of competence is beyond me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

More welfare state..

Here's the problem. We did not have a welfare state until the late 60's, with Johnson's 'war on poverty'. Before that, people toughed it out. They got 'assistance' from charitable institutions, extended family, & neighbors. Heard of 'Hoovervilles?' Those were basically refugee camps for okies & other people fleeing the dust bowl conditions during the depression. Ever read 'Grapes of Wrath?' See the movie? This was an historical event, so we can learn from it. It also tells us a lot about human nature & motivations.

Ok, so we had thousands of people traveling like refugees to California. They were not given govt. assistance. They were abused. Local people were not happy about Hoovervilles springing up all over, & people wandering around looking for work. The 'okies' were persecuted & discriminated against. If you're not familiar with the history, read 'Grapes of Wrath'. I don't know how modern historians report it & teach it in schools. But as this was a fairly recent occurrence, & many people are still alive when it happened, the reality of what happened should not be in question.

What happened to these people? Are there still 'Hoovervilles' in California, with generations content to live in those conditions? No. Under extreme hardship, outside discrimination, & no govt. assistance, most of those who lived & grew up in depression conditions worked their butts off & got out. They became the 'Greatest Generation' that Tom Brokaw wrote about. They built most of the infrastructure in this country, delivered Europe & Asia from tyrannical oppressors, & pushed the US into becoming the most powerful nation on earth.

So, using our own history & people as examples, which system works better? The welfare state, which few seem to escape from, or freedom & self-reliance? We've been pumping increasingly more money into our welfare state, but instead of helping people, it traps them in a racist, crime ridden system that is very difficult to escape from. Instead of helping them, we have handicapped them & done them a great disservice. The socialist agenda has failed in this venture, because they do not understand human nature & motivations. Govt housing, food stamps, ADC, & welfare checks do not help people in the long run. They do not help a community. They are not good for the culture. The KKK could not have come up with a better racist agenda to oppress & enslave minorities. They give the 'poor' just enough to survive, but it's also enough to take their motivation. They herd them into govt housing projects.. lots of history there.. how is that working? They are just gulags for the poor.. concentration camps to keep ethnic poor trapped in poverty.

The govt is an 'equal opportunity' oppressor, though. There are other races that are lured into the gulags.. promises of easy money.. don't have to work.. something for nothing. They usually build the 'camps' along ethnic lines, so there is not a lot of racial tension. But of course, gangs form & the unmotivated young, with no goals outside of the camps, & nothing to look forward to except a life of oppression & despair, group together in criminal families.

We've got to learn from history, or doom ourselves to repeat our mistakes. The welfare state does not work. It does not work in America, Canada, Europe, Africa, or Asia. I know the liberals mean well.. at least some of them do.. but there comes a time when we have to wake up & smell the coffee. Lets get real. Lets recognize human nature. Let's stop oppressing ethnic groups & those in financial hardship with these racist, failed social programs. They don't work, & now we need to begin the long process of dismantling them. That will be hard, too, since we have built generations of dependency on these programs. There will need to be some weaning in our welfare state. But to free people, it will be necessary.

What does work? Freedom. That is what has built America, that is what other nations have been trying to imitate & move towards. We have not had a 'ruling elite' in America. Anyone with a little luck & hard work can succeed. It is the 'land of opportunity'. At least it was. ..if we can keep the left from pushing us into a euro socialist utopia, with a ruling class, & everyone else herded into work camps. To have the freedom to succeed, you also have the freedom to fail. But failure makes us work smarter, & teaches us the variables, so we don't repeat our mistakes. Give people freedom & self-reliance & you will have an industrious, responsible, successful nation. Yes, there will still be poor... many reasons for that. But has the welfare state 'stamped out poverty?' No, it has only institutionalized it. The poor are more than ever, & still growing. More money thrown at the problem will only increase those who depend on it.

The welfare state is like a wall, built to keep the poor on one side, & the ruling elite on the other. Some escape & climb over the wall. The longing for freedom is great, & there are those who will not live under oppression. But the wall remains, oppressing those who cannot climb over it, & trapping generations in a life of poverty & oppression. 

The solution is simple:

'Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!'

Monday, August 1, 2011

US Debt

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies.

Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion.That is “trillion” with a “T.” That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President’s budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion.

Numbers that large are sometimes hard to understand. Some people may wonder why they matter. Here is why: This year, the Federal Government will spend $220 billion on interest. That is more money to pay interest on our national debt than we’ll spend on Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. That is more money to pay interest on our debt this year than we will spend on education, homeland security, transportation, and veterans benefits combined. It is more money in one year than we are likely to spend to rebuild the devastated gulf coast in a way that honors the best of America.

And the cost of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the Federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and States of critical investments in infrastructure like bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on.

Every dollar we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to investment in America’s priorities."

Senator Barack Obama
Senate Floor Speech on Public Debt
March 16, 2006[/quote]

I really agree with Obama here.. if only he was consistent with his fiscal views, i'd be an avid supporter.  His analysis is spot on, & his conclusions are right.  Why did he change his views on this?  He is right, the debt is a hidden enemy, robbing us of our resources.  We should cut the debt, stop the spending, & become fiscally responsible in the federal govt.  A balanced budget amendment is also long overdue.. since we cannot trust the politicians to be fiscally responsible, we should force them.  Obama says the debt is robbing all these sectors of society.. the poor, elderly, etc.. why does the dem party want to continue 'robbing' the citizens with this scathing rebuke from the chief Democrat?  We finally have some repubs with fiscally responsible views who want to cut spending, why not come together & bring us to financial sanity?  Why this stupid division over something that is plainly obvious that we must do?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Housing collapse, independence, Obama

I don't really understand the left.. the motivations.. the logic (or lack thereof).. the desire for complete control. The problems we have in America now are due almost completely to left wing social engineering programs. The housing collapse? Mostly because of Barney Franks & his mandating loans to anyone & everyone.. & 100% loans, too. Our current economic malaise? Obama's stimulus package. Soaring debt with trillions of taxpayer dollars going to his left wing cronies.. tons of 'studies' for universities.. tons of $200k + bureaucrats to oversee nothing.

And now the war machine is escalating, too. He's opening another front in Libya. Where does it stop? Do Americans have to go & die to liberate all the oppressed people of the world? Who gave us that responsibility?

I like the declaration of Independence. It is an amazing document outlining an equally amazing experiment in human govt. Here's a snippet:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The direction our govt is heading.. for the last 80 years or so.. is becoming destructive to our 'unalienable rights', imo. They are not 'securing these rights', but are destroying them. Poor people are lured into big cities with no hope of work or self sufficiency. They are given minimal sustenance, & in such an environment, crime flourishes. Then to compound the problems, they put exorbitant taxes on the working citizens. Their liberties are diminished, & their 'pursuit' of happiness includes carrying a load of bureaucrats, as well as supporting all the poor that the govt created.

Personally, i don't think the federal govt. has any business operating safety nets, or any kind of social programs. They should get out of the way & let the states & local govts take care of that. They are not efficient with anything they do. Govt housing is a dismal failure. Medicare is rife with fraud & corruption. Universal health care will fail for the same reasons. Corruption & fraud will make it ineffective, as most of the federal govt is now. 

The federal govt should stick with what it does best: Blowing things up & killing people. And presidents should not be able to make those choices, but there should be a balance of power with the legislative & judicial branches limiting who & what can be blown up. A president should not be able to just blow up some Libyans or Pakistanis because he thinks it would be cool or help his re-election, or even because his heart aches for the suffering of those people.

Right now, it is about time for the citizens of the US to 'alter & abolish' the way this govt is heading. We need a 'govt. of the people, by the people, & for the people'. Big corporations & big unions have held sway on our govt decisions for too long, now. If we take away their money, we will lose the corruption. Corruptors have no interest if there is no money. True public servants will serve & protect the interests of their neighbors with minimal compensation.

I have a lot of liberal friends.. we joke about each other's political views & manage to get along. But i am afraid for my country. I do not want the American Experiment to be over & for us to become another european nanny state.

The govt seems out of control & bent on bringing us to economic collapse. Will we face the same riots as socialist agitators stir up the mobs to protest (loot)? I think the left fears the armed right, which they should. The class war would be very short lived with right wing vigilantes coming up against academians in prius's. So they want to level the field by taking the arms of the citizens so their 'professional' armies can squash any resistance to their controls.

But i think the radical left underestimates our military, who swore an oath to protect the US Constitution from all enemies, foreign & domestic. 

When considering the invasion of the US in WW2, the Japanese decided no, 'because there would be a rifle behind every blade of grass'. The purpose of the 2nd amendment is so the govt fears the people, not the other way around.

Perhaps some of this ranting sounds paranoid. But history is too full of people who have 'trusted' their govt to take care of them, only to be oppressed & murdered. Obama does not like asking permission from congress for his military actions. He would like to be king, or at least like a latin american dictator. That is how i see him. He's a 2 faced chicago politician who changes his views with the weather, & for political expediency. I will not vote for him, but for those who will limit the federal govt & stop the madness. If the newly elected officials don't do it, i will keep voting for others until someone does. If the country ends, it ends, & we will all do what we can to survive.

Well, there is a lot that can be said, & that is said on this subject many times for many years. Hopefully reason & responsible behavior will triumph, & the next elections will be a mandate for more freedom for the citizens, & less demands from the govt. We shall see.

Cutting taxes..

Tax saving ideas..

1. End tax subsidies to religious & non profit groups. A lower tax rate won't be too demanding on their donations, & it keeps someone from having to determine if they are legit or not. Everyone pays the same, everything is fair.

2. Bring all our military bases home. ..end the 'ugly american' syndrome of our troops, saves billions, & puts their contribution to domestic benefit. Stop bombing other countries indiscriminately, make presidents get congressional approval before engaging in war acts... i.e., prove the threat.

3. End farm & business subsidies. Why pay someone to not grow food? We can have a dept of agriculture, & let them work closely with the states coordinating & keeping statistics, making recommendations on what to grow, & what is needed. 

4. End the federal welfare system. This should be a local concern, & can be managed by local communities.. they will be better equipped to spot fraud & abuse, & there would be much less waste & corruption. States & cities can raise more revenues, if the fed isn't soaking everyone like they do now.

5. Phase out medicare & social security. It is rife with fraud & corruption, waste & administrative costs. Give more freedom to the individual to manage their retirement & health care costs & plans. States can implement a comprehensive plan if they want, but trying to do it nationally or globally is absurd. Can't we get it that the federal govt. is inept? Anything they do costs 10 times as much, is filled with corruption (or attracts it right away), & is generally mismanaged. The only thing they really do well is blowing things up & killing people. They should keep to the things they do well, & protect the country.

6. Flat tax or much simplified tax system. End loopholes & keep it simple. The federal govt should not be rewarding campaign contributors with sweet tax deals or juicy govt. contracts.

7. No foreign aid. If our citizens want to give aid to underdeveloped countries, they can (and they do). But most of our foreign aid lines the pockets of corrupt dictators who oppress their people. Why should we be a party to that?

There's a lot more, but i think i see a lot of tax savings here.. Let the people decide where they want their money to go, rather than some bureaucrat in washington. Tired of corruption with politicians serving special interests? Take away the money & you end most of the corruption. We need to narrow the focus & role of govt.. get back to the declaration of independence where govt is to secure our rights, not micro manage everything we do. We need law & regulations to protect all the citizens from the unscrupulous, but we don't need the bloated, inefficient mess we have now.