The Gravy Train

The other day, I was thinking, okay I'm a traditionalist and I find myself more attuned to conservative Republicans than I do to Democrats of any stripe. But, hey, what if (granted this is a BIG what if) what if the Democrats can be taken at their word? What if they mean it when they say they will raise the taxes of the rich and give more breaks to the rest of us? What if they can actually bring prices down for gas and medical care, and food, and all the rest? Wouldn't that be great? Wouldn't that make the electing of a Demon... oops... old habits die hard... Democrat easier to take? I mean it would be nice to be able to save some bucks on all this day to day stuff. Maybe we could live with these folks, as long as they promise not to drop their trousers (or panties as the case may be) in the oval office and stain the White House again.

But then I exit the Twilight Zone. Reality comes back. I sober up. I have lived long enough to see both Democrats and Republicans in the White House. I was born when FDR was President. And then another Democrat, Harry Truman. Then Republican Ike. Then Dem JFK and LBJ. Then Republicans Tricky D. and Ford. Then Dem Jimmy the Peanut Farmer Carter. Then Republicans Death Valley Days Reagan and Bush the Elder. Then eight interminable years of the first black President, Devil-in-the-Blue-Dress Clinton. And now the first Mexican President, GW Bush. And in all those years, with all those Democrats in office, did the price of ANYthing ever go down? Did my total tax burden EVER go down? Those are of course rhetorical questions.

Everything goes up, it never comes down. There is no gravity in the universe of consumer pricing. The Democrats give with one hand and take more with the other. They say they will tax the rich and give the rest of us a break. Like when? Show me a year when I paid less in taxes in the last sixty years. Like when they lower the income tax on the poorest people but raise the "hidden" taxes on everything else? If you calculate the total amount of taxes you pay to the government through hidden taxes such as those on virtually everything that is made, sold or consumed in America, you are turning over maybe 50% or better of your income to the government so they can squander it and give it away to the undeserving. As long as the undeserving will keep on electing the Ted Kennedy's and Barney Franks and Barbara Boxers.

But the Republicans make me laugh, too. I love when they tell us that they will lower corporate taxes so large companies can invest in more cost-efficient equipment, plants, research, and create new jobs. Then when these companies save all this money we will benefit because they will pass along the savings to us in the form of lower prices for the products and services we purchase from them. Hahahahahahah! Hold on while I get up off the floor.

When in the history of marketing has a company EVER passed along their savings to the consumer in the form of lower prices!? Like gasoline? Like food? Like automobiles? Or insurance or tuition or medication or medical care? Or the interest your bank pays you? I once had a bank account that paid me 10% on my savings. What is it now? 1 or 2% - if you are lucky? And the government has the temerity to tax that! Can bank interest rates go any lower? How long before we have to pay THEM to hold our money for us? Oh sure you can buy fluff a lot cheaper now - stuff made in China - but only junk you really don't need in the first place. Chachkies that never even existed ten years ago. Anything you really need, including the shirt on your back, is gonna cost you more, Bunky.

The government - and particularly the Democrats - wants all the money to be channeled through it - medical care, education, transportation and all the rest - so they can regulate it because we poor souls are unable to do it ourselves. That's what they say. But what they MEAN is it gives them an opportunity to skim much more off the top of this much longer gravy train.

Face it folks, when it comes to taxes and otherwise taking as much of your money from you as they can, don't look to either party for relief. If you are looking for a reason to vote for one party or the other... believe me you need to find some reason other than economics. The only way out of this vicious cycle is to make enough money so that even if they take 50%, the remaining 50% still leaves you plenty.

Now most of us will never get to that point. But for those who are able and willing to take a risk, your best bet is Republican. Because they fundamentally understand that new and small businesses still make up well over 50% of the employment in America. They craft their economics to try and benefit upstarts. Less regulation, lower business taxes, fewer lawsuits and so on. You know - things like when Democrats force business establishments to spend tens of thousands of dollars to install access ramps and other facilities for handicapped people, none of whom will ever actually ever visit that particular establishment.

Before you holler "Oh yeah..." let me add this: the fact that many or even most new businesses fail in their first year has nothing whatsoever to do with either Democrats or Republicans. It has to do with people starting businesses designed to fill needs that others are already filling better, or needs which don't really exist, or not having a real business plan, short-sighted under-capitalization, or just plain not having business acumen, or one of many other faults common to the new business owner.

Bottom line is still the same. The Democrats will do whatever they can to keep you trapped in the never-ending cycle of taxation and dependency. The Republicans will make the cost of goods and services climb just as fast but they don't want you depending on them for anything. So they offer you the possibility, small as it may be, of getting on the gravy train by starting your own business.


The Election Blues

I swear I'll never understand voters.

Here we are in the heat of selecting candidates to run for President of these United States, and I feel like I'm back in high school.

The world is on a precipice, needing nothing more than a little nudge to roll into the abyss. Most of the world seems to hate America and hoping we elect a weak president who will make it easier for them to whack us. The terrorists are just waiting for their next opportunity to blow something and somebody up. China is trying to eat our lunch. Iran is threatening to go nuclear. Russia is doing her best to go back to the good ol' days of treacherous super-powerdom. Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey and good deal of the African continent are in chaos.

The dollar is falling faster than Fred Thompson's popularity. The cost of everything is way out of line. Our education system is abysmal. We don't know how to build anything in America anymore except for cheesy celebrity reputation. And our media and lots of voters suddenly are all excited by somebody promising "change."

Change? No matter who gets elected there will be... duh... "change." But what exactly is good about change? Every day there is "change" in the world. Most of the change is bad.

So is "change" what we really need? Or do we need somebody with the guts to lead us through these and the other unpredictable mine fields we will undoubtedly face in the next four years. I guess that would be a change. But somehow I don't think that's the kind of "change" these voters are thinking about. No. They are thinking about the 1960's kind of "change." And you know where THAT led us.

Promising "change" is a good strategy. You never have to tell us what the change is. And every misty-eyed voter can fill in the blank with what he or she wants. And afterward, the candidate who's elected on this flimsy idea never has to say he or she broke a promise. Because they never really made any kind of actual commitment.

To listen to the pollsters and spinners and politicos and celebs and even the candidates themselves, you'd think we were electing a high school class president. Who looks more handsome or pretty? Who's got the biggest smile? Who's taller? Who's got more money? Who's wife or hubby is hotter? Who's hair is better? Who's got more charisma? Who can play an instrument? Who can dance? Whose got better-looking kids? Who's got an iPod? These are the stupid thoughts of high school kids. This is how THEY pick their friends and class leaders. Our media panders to children-sized brains, reducing the picking of the leader of the world's greatest power to nothing more than a pr event.

I listen to the pathetic caucus and primary voters in interviews. My eyes spin. They need to grow up and get a life. They seem to get very upset about any candidate whom they perceive might not be "telling the truth." Or a candidate who might "flip-flop". They seem to have got this idea that somehow these things - inventions of the political consultant class - are a measure of who would make a good president. What!? many of these voters are the same people who adore Bill Clinton! Nuff said?

Maybe we need a really good liar in the White House. What we've had are bad liars - the aforementioned Clinton comes to mind. We need a GOOD liar who can look into the eyes of the most cunning foreign leader and lie to him or her with a straight face. One who can out-lie our enemies. After all, most of our enemies come from cultures where lying is considered an artform. And those foreign powers which lie to us consistantly never expect the US President might be able to lie better than they do. Oh, our presidents may not always live up to their promises but this is ususually for other reasons. We desperately need someone who can out-lie the leaders of Pakistan and Iraq and North Korea and China and Russia. World politics is a dirty game of Go Fish. We need a street-smart shark on our side.

And "flip-flop?" We all do this in our daily lives. "Hey, Barbara! How come you ordered a vanilla cone... last week you told me chocolate was your favorite. You little flip-flopper! I don't like you anymore!" Or "Wah! Daddy, you said you were going to buy me a new bike for my birthday, now you say no just because I've been bad!? You're a flip-flopper and I hate you!"

Point is, sometimes - not always but sometimes - a good lie is the most merciful way out of a tight international situation. And if you can't flip on an issue that you suddenly realize you're on the wrong side of... well then you're gonna flop.

Ask yourself how you are making YOUR choice for the next president. Are you voting for his or her looks? For the way they dress? For his or her truth-telling? For their religion? Or if they have rhythm?

For me it's simple. The first duty of the President of the United States is to protect the country from foreign and domestic threats. All else can be handled by the States or other jurisdictions. I want three things. The candidate who swears to us that they will make America militarily stronger than ever (this is a concrete promise that can be measured!), who will protect our borders (this is a concrete promise that can be seen and measured in steel and concrete!), and who will protect our dollar from further erosion - this candidate is the better choice. All other issues are moot if we are not able to do these three things. What good is a healthcare plan in a country where the healthcare system is so downgraded by people from other lands whose standards are so low they drag our system down with them? What good is your Social Security check if the dollar is worthless?

Of course we all would like to have a president who, in addition to these three things, is inspiring and all the rest. But that aspect of the presidency perhaps should wait for better times.

Judge who will do the best to protect the American way of life we cherish, and which is today being threatened at every turn from without and within. This eliminates most of the candidates from both parties. None of the remaining few will be perfect - nobody is perfect. Under the pressure of campaigning most human beings will cave and "fib" to us about something just to score points. I don't take these "lies" seriously; you can usually see through these by judging how their records comport to the reality of their political records. But the three promises I mentioned... don't lie to me about that! A candidate who says he or she will do these things will be a better president - not a perfect president - but better than all the rest. No matter how good-looking or tall or "whatEVer" the rest are.