Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How Economic Ignorance = Obama's Victory

As many of you know, every semester I start the first day with some sort of essay question designed to uncover socialist thinking among my students.  Over the years I have asked people to comment on everything from Joe Montana selling his mansion for $49 million while others are homeless to their opinion on what the government should do to help them achieve the American Dream.

This week I asked my students - approximately 110 of them - to answer this question:

"What one specific thing has President Obama done to make the American economy stronger?"

Out of all those who were surveyed many did the smart thing and left their answer sheet blank.

Three students simply wrote, "Nothing".

One wrote, "The extension of Bush's tax cuts which were slated to end in 2010 was a positive thing for our economy."

Here is what the rest wrote.  As always, I do not edit these answers for grammar or spelling.

"Obama has made taxes according to a households income/class.  He made things stronger for every class by doing that."

"President Obama has created jobs since he got elected in 2008.  Before him, the economy was suffering, especially middle class families. His campaign was focused alot on creating jobs. This accomplishment has benefited the economy greatly."

"President Obama has made it so that everyone must pay taxes and people who are more wealthy pays the most taxes."

"He has raised taxes on the rich and lowered taxes on the middle class.   Also, he has cut military funding."

"He has offered more financial incentives to the American family with his Cash for Clunkers campaign.  This lead for the American family to upgrade to a new car & supply buisness to the failing America car market."

"the Government, under Obama, has slowed the rate our countries US dollar was inflating at the end of Bush's terms."

"One specific thing that Obama has done to make this economy stronger is giving jobs all across the U.S. for the middle class."

"President Obama's stimulation package."

"President Obama has made bigger percentages of taxes that people have to pay for their money."

"He has tried to make America have more equal classes rather than the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer and eventually diminishing the middle class."

"He has funded programs for the research of new alternative energy proving thousands of people job opportunities, and the possibility of the creation of a new type of energy market."

"President Obama has allow all ages to go back to school."

"Health care benefits has improved."

"Obama has made the country stronger by giving his best to try to stabilize the economy."

"Obama, in his early presidency, verbally excited Americans by the idea of change and this encouraged slight economic growth."

"One thing I believe President Obama did to make the country stronger is the stimulus check act."

"Tax cuts to overseas businesses to entice them to bring their work stateside."

"One thing Obama help improve the economy is to provide more jobs for the unemployed people."


And there you have it friends.  These are only a sampling of what is rattling around in the brains of our college students.  Imagine what even more ignorant Americans are probably thinking.

President Obama can take great comfort in knowing that we are a nation of economically-illiterate human beings armed with voter registration cards.  He will win in November.  No one wants to hear any sensible economics from Romney or Ryan. 

January 20, 2017 - that seems like a long way off....

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Obama vs. Hayek

As some of you know, my favorite economist of all-time is the Austrian legend, Friedrich Hayek.  For those of you who do not know much about Hayek I would invite you to watch this wonderful biography about one of the greatest intellectual defenders of liberty in modern times.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Elvis Presley and Military Stupidity

35 years ago today I got home from a week at summer camp and found my mom crying on our living room sofa.  When I asked her what was wrong she said, "Did you hear about Elvis Presley"?  I said, something like, "No, what did he do, die?" To which she informed her stupid 10-year old son (me) that yes, he had.

I loved Elvis Presley.  Still do.  My kids know many of his songs by heart as I am inclined to play his music as we drive across America.

This afternoon I was watching a tribute show to Elvis when it dawned on me that America has a long history of moronic actions when it comes to our military.

As a liberty-loving American I am greatly frustrated by our military history/current policies.  To me, the 35,000 people who died in Korea, along with the 58,000 who died in Vietnam, ostensibly died for nothing.

This is not to say that I do not value the lives of the men and women who died in these Asian conflicts.  I simply believe that when you look at these dead Americans - along with the dead Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan - it is easy to argue that at no time since 1950 has the United States been under the threat of attack from the nations of North Korea, North Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan.  Since that is a fact, I argue that it is also a fact that our military is supposed to be used for national defense.  DEFENSE. 

Look up the word. It means that if Iraq had invaded North Carolina, and thus the United States of America, it is a proper function of our federal government to shoot at Iraqi citizens who are landing in North Carolina until they leave North Carolina.  I would then maintain that flying bombers over to Iraq to reinforce our disdain for invading forces would be a logical, and legal step.

Therefore, what we did during World War II - waiting until we were attacked until we started shooting people - was the last time we have morally waged war against other people. Since then, all over the world, we have used the lives of Americans as the pawns of politicians who tell us we are fighting a Cold War, or the War on Drugs or the War on Terror or defending Israel or whatever.  None of this is a compelling argument for sending young people to foreign lands to die.  Yet even World War II showed us how little the government cares about our troops.  There are multiple books out there that document the inefficiency of government officials that led to needless deaths in the Phillipines, the Battle of the Bulge, Normandy and more.

Which brings me to Elvis Presley. 

In 1957 he made $1 million as a wildly-popular singer.  In 1958 the government forced him to stop singing so he could serve a mandatory term of two years in the military.

If Presley wanted to voluntarily join the Army to keep the Soviet Union from invading West Germany, that would have been fine.  However, he was compelled to serve under the threat of jail if he refused. 

For two years he was robbed of his Constitutional right to pursue money in what he was good at so that he could carry a gun on the off-chance he was needed to fight some Russian soldier.  What a waste - and what a great example of government inefficiency.

If you ever want to see an amazing story watch the video provided here on  how Libertarian economist Milton Friedman almost single-handedly ended the draft in the wake of the Vietnam War.  Friedman successfully convinced our government that men and women who volunteer to put their lives on the line would be more productive fighters than people who are forced to fight.

Thanks to him we now have an all volunteer force of men and women who bravely serve our nation.

It is just too bad that even though they are volunteers they are still forced to go over to nations who are no threat to us and die because politicians have elections to win.

Friday, August 10, 2012

New from the IRS - Taxing us for what we DO NOT SELL!

What follows is an article from the July 21, 2012 Minneapolis Star-Tribune paper. 

What is the fair market value of an object that cannot be sold?

Lawyers for the heirs of the New York art dealer Ileana Sonnabend and the Internal Revenue Service are set to debate that question when they meet in Washington next month.

The object under discussion is "Canyon," a masterwork of 20th-century art created by Robert Rauschenberg that Sonnabend's children inherited when she died in 2007. Because the work, a signature Rauschenberg sculptural "Combine," includes a stuffed bald eagle, a bird under federal protection, the heirs would be committing a felony if they tried to sell it. So their appraisers have valued the work at zero.

But the IRS takes a different view. It has appraised "Canyon" at $65 million and is demanding that the owners pay $29.2 million in taxes.

The family is now challenging the judgment in tax court, and its lawyers are negotiating with the IRS in the hope of finding a resolution. Some estate planners, tax lawyers and collectors are alarmed at the agency's position, arguing that the case could upend the standard practice of valuing assets according to their sale in a normal market.

Tax experts note that the stance puts the heirs in a bind: If they don't pay, they would be guilty of violating federal tax laws, but if they try to sell "Canyon" to raise money to pay the IRS, they could go to jail for violating eagle protection laws.

Since the children assert that the work has no dollar value for estate purposes, they could not claim a charitable deduction by donating "Canyon" to a museum, their lawyer Ralph Lerner said. If the IRS were to prevail in its $65 million valuation, he said the heirs would have to pay $40.9 million in taxes and penalties.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chick Fil-A and the Meaning of Hate

Several days ago I was driving through Birmingham, Alabama during the lunch hour when I noticed that I had traveled about one mile in a half hour.  By any standard that is a real traffic jam.  Impatient as I naturally am, I began grumbling that "we were never going to get out of here...." etc. etc. 

Then, off in the distance I noticed the reason we were traveling at a snails face.  It was a Chick Fil-A restaurant up ahead with somewhere near the population of Uraguay trying to get in to its parking lot.

Ah, yes - Chick Fil-A Appreciation Day was at hand.

Actually, I think it might have been Chick Fil-A Appreciation week because a few days before we stopped in this establishment in Evansville, Indiana only to find long lines, sparse seating and a lot of gas being burned in the drive-through lane.

This, folks, is what happens when people get to vote with their dollars.  This is what happens when people have freedom.  This is what happens when the source of hate in America is exposed.

As a long-time Libertarian I have long maintained that the government has no right - whether we believe our rights are naturally present or God-given - to regulate the peaceful actions of emancipated adult human beings.  This means the rights of gay people too.

Let me say first that the idea of "Gay Rights" is pure nonsense.  Gay people have no special rights beyond the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  They have the same rights I, as a heterosexual male have.  No more, no less.

As a married, Christian heterosexual male I have my own personal views on the choices and behavior of homosexuals.  Fortunately, my personal views have nothing to do with what I want the government to do about or to do for homosexuals.  I expect gay people to have the same rights under our Constitution as I have and I want them to not impose their lifestyle on me or my family.  I do not have to like, accept, support or agree with anything a gay person does any more than they have to approve of or condone my choices. 

This is where the subject of hate comes in.

The CEO of Chick Fil-A, in a free country, has a right to say anything he wants about his view of gay marriage.  He has liberty and chose to use his liberty to speak in support of traditional marriage.  He did not say he would not sell chicken sandwiches to gay people.  He did not say he would not hire gay people.  He did not say we should - or that he does - hate gay people.

The source of hate in this cases comes from the hysterical wing of the liberal left, along with some irrational people who happen to be gay or support "gay rights" see the Youtube clip entitled, "Chick Fil-A drive thru" for an example).

As usual, liberals tell us that we must be tolerant - even thought we have a right to be intolerant.  Liberals tell us that we should have freedom of speech.  But notice, when someone uses their freedom to speak in such a way that offends liberal theology (and there is a theological element to modern liberalism), they cry out that they have been victims of hate-speech or worse.

The beautiful thing about liberty is that you get to have it and then must either bear the consequences of your choices or reap the benefits of your behavior.

Chick Fil-A will face a drop in the demand for its product from those who find Chick Fil-A to be "anti-gay".  Chick Fil-A will make more profit from people who support traditional marriage, the First Amendment and the right to vote with our wallets.

The liberty-hating mayors of Boston and Chicago have said (in a free country...) that Chick Fil-A will not be allowed to sell chicken in those liberal hotbeds.  So much for freedom and property rights in those cities.

In the meantime I plan on doing what I usually do.  I will leave gay people alone to chart the course of their own lives and will enjoy the spicy chicken sandwich on the whole-wheat bun whenever I feel like it. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

What's Your Sign?

As most of you know, from time to time I mention businesses that I think you should patronize.  Today's blog is the latest in that "installment".

In Centerville, Tennessee lives a guy who is called "Tom the Furniture Guy".   Tom is not only a master craftsman when it comes to building beautiful custom furniture but he also makes amazing personalized signs like the ones seen here out of vintage Tennessee barnwood!

He epitomizes everything that green capitalism  is about.  Not only does he prevent decades-old barns from being burned or tossed in a dump, but he gently reclaims the wood,
treats it for any lingering pests and then makes signs for folks all over the United States! 

You can find him online at http://www.etsy.com/shop/TomTheFurnitureGuy  where you can have just about anything you want for your home or business - or place an order as a gift for someone.  He can do catchy sayings, family names, addresses, phrases you or someone you know use a lot that are funny or meaningful, as well as bible verses, sports team signs and more.  I have already ordered four of these for my family and hope you will find what you want.  He is super nice and can ship to anywhere in the country.

Good luck - let me know what you order...  I will post pictures of my new game room sign when it arrives.