2011 October

September 20, 2014

The Powerbait Generation(s)

My article as originally published in American Thinker:

Most of us have now been subjected to the many disheartening photos of the Occupy [fill in the city] protesters’ signs that claim things along the lines of “capitalism doesn’t work” — “the rich need to give me their money because they have more than I do” — “pay off my student loans” — and in some extreme cases, “string up those greedy rich folks.”

These “oppressed” protesters, clinging to their lattes, laptops, and iPhones, have benefited greatly from the overflowing prosperity provided by the free-market capitalist system that they’re currently trying to tear apart.  Unfortunately, they haven’t been taught any of the real-world skills necessary to benefit within that system.  They’re not interested in using their equal opportunity to create prosperity for themselves; they’re looking for a 99% guarantee of prosperity — but provided by others.

We’ve all heard the proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  But what will happen to this potential fisherman when the government-controlled education system that claims to be teaching him how to fish instead is really just giving him a special type of bait that virtually guarantees (at least during good times) that he’ll catch some fish?  And he’ll be able to catch those fish without having to possess any of the typical skills necessary to become a true fisherman.  To make matters even worse, what if the teacher then drills into his mind that he is now a “fisherman” and entitled to catch all the fish he wants?

If after all of that “education” he is still unsuccessful in producing any fish, what if  he is told that his lack of skills are not to blame, and that the fault really lies at the feet of the greedy expert fly-fisherman – the 1%?  At that point, his teacher would then argue that the government should step in and take half of the fly-fisherman’s catch and redistribute it to the underprivileged “fisherman.”

I received my first fishing pole while camping on my fifth birthday, and I was more than eager to learn the secrets of catching fish with it.  My father pointed me in the correct direction (and patiently untangled many hooks from trees), but I soon found that I had much to learn, and there ended up being no fish on the stringer for me during that trip.  And it wasn’t for a lack of opportunity, as others around me were “cashing in” with their limits.  It didn’t seem fair at the time.

It took years and years of practice and countless empty stringers to hone my skills as a fisherman, so whenever I did happen to catch a fish, it was both hard-earned and appreciated.  Fortunately, in time, I did become a fairly skilled fisherman.

My first fly rod was given to me by my grandparents on my twelfth birthday.  I could hardly wait to start slaying tons of fish with it.  I soon found myself humbled, though, as its use presented a whole new set of challenges and frustrations that still, more than thirty years later, continue to plague me.  For years I would bring my spinning-rod along with my fly-rod so I would at least have somewhat of a chance to see some action.  Eventually, though, I did become fairly proficient at fly-fishing and was able to leave the spinning rod at home.

When Berkley Powerbait entered the scene, the world of trout fishing changed forever.  Powerbait is an engineered dough-like bait that floats off the bottom.  It’s also about the closest thing to a guarantee of catching fish that I’ve ever seen, and it takes very little skill to successfully use it.  As a “purist” fisherman, there was absolutely no way that I would be caught dead using it — ever.  That is, until I had children of my own.

I must admit that when the time came to start teaching my own children how to fish, I did “cheat” a little and teach them using Powerbait.  The stuff really does work.  But instead of giving my kids the tools that they needed (which come with the realities of frustration and failure) to become fishermen, I took the easy road and gave them as close to a guaranteed positive outcome as was possible.  I was so focused on making sure my kids had fun and caught fish that I had lost sight of what was truly important — passing on the lessons of fishing to my children so they could one day themselves become fishermen.

Once our kids venture out into the real world, they’ll discover that Powerbait ends with fishing and does not exist to produce guaranteed jobs, guaranteed homes, guaranteed health care, guaranteed iPads, or guaranteed anything else, for that matter.  They must use whatever skills they’ve acquired to earn all of those things.

If we’re lucky enough to maintain our freedoms in this nation, one of the few things that will be guaranteed is the freedom of opportunity.  This is why we need to prepare our children with the tools that give them the best chance to “earn” those fish and everything else that they need or desire.

The last thing that I want is to turn on the TV one afternoon and see one of my children dressed up like a zombie while holding up some poorly designed sign that says “fishing doesn’t work” — “pay for my fishing pole” — “it’s not fair that the better fishermen have more fish than I do” — or “string up all of those greedy fly-fishermen.”

The OWS crowd seems to think that the world should work just like Powerbait does.  But the world doesn’t work that way, and thanks to the things that they’ve been “taught,” they haven’t the slightest idea of how to function without the stuff.

Can the US Survive Four More Years of Obama?

President Obama’s policies are the antithesis of those that made this a great  nation and of what is needed to place us back on the path to prosperity.

This is a really good American Thinker article by Neil Snyder:

President Obama is determined to make fairness the primary issue in the 2012 election.  He’s right about fairness, but he’s wrong when he points his finger at the rich.  As the statistics above suggest, our problem isn’t that the rich pay too little tax or that income inequality is getting worse.  Our problem is that we spend too much money at the federal level of government on giveaway programs that produce citizens who are dependent on government for their well-being — people like those in the OWS crowd, and approximately half of our citizens who pay no federal income tax.  There is nothing fair about that.

Read the rest at American Thinker

The Left’s Distorted View of the “Social Contract”

What are they up to within those ivory towers over at Harvard?  You’d think that this Harvard professor of law would have stumbled upon a copy of the Constitution at some point during her career!

Really good article by Jeffrey Folks.

There is indeed a social contract that can be traced to the founding of our democracy, but it is the opposite of the left’s idea of “paying it forward.”  The true social contract affords for the pursuit of happiness by protecting the free market and the rights of citizens from the very forms of government abuse that Warren, Obama, and other leftists are advancing. It protects the opportunities available to individuals by restricting the scope and power of government.

You can read the whole thing at American Thinker

Shouldn’t We Need Fewer Police Officers Mr. Biden?

My article as originally published in American Thinker:

By now we’ve all heard the latest gaffe from our Vice President (he’s in need of an oral podiatrist) who claimed that a failure to pass the President’s “jobs bill” would result in increased numbers of murder and rape (it didn’t pass so lock your doors and windows) in this country.  Aside from the absurdity of his statement, it’s no surprise that others are starting to question his facts and are starting to “screw around” with him.

Why isn’t anyone asking the question — why is it that we still have a need for all of these police officers?  After all, over many decades the Democrats (with the help of big government Republicans) have created various social programs and spent trillions and trillions of taxpayer dollars that we were told, if spent, would create utopia and eradicate every last one of these problems?

The enormous spending on the war on poverty as well as education was supposed to get to the very roots of most of the crime problems and prevent their very occurrence in the first place.   At least that’s the bill of goods that the Democrats sold us.  The rehabilitation of criminals would “save” us money by reducing the prison populations as well as create “experienced” role models for our children to learn from.  Gun control laws would keep the streets safe and also prevent “underprivileged” kids from being shot by little-old-ladies.  I’ve but only scratched the surface and could go on and on.

The point is that we’ve been spending more money and enacting more laws over the last several years than at any time in history, so how is it that we still have a need to “invest” even more money into these police programs?  If the Democrats’ policies were in any way effective wouldn’t we now have a reduced need for all of these officers?

It is always the same old sob story.  We reach the level of spending that the Democrats told us would “solve” all of our problems, and then the effect of that spending ends up producing the opposite result of what we were told would happen.  Of course, then the proposed solution to the newly created problems are always — you guessed it — even more spending, and if anyone dares to question the validity of the programs or the additional spending levels they are immediately labeled as selfish, greedy or even racist.  Now on top of those labels, we’re told by the Vice president of the United States that if we dare to question their “solution”, we are going to cause the rape and murder of the innocent.

If we continue trusting Democrats to “solve” our problems we’re not only going to be broke, (ok, even more broke) we’re going to need a 1:1 police to civilian ratio in order to keep the peace.

 

 

How Many Electricians Does It Take to Screw In a Light Bulb?

My article as originally published in American Thinker:

Or rather, how much time and how many electricians should it take to screw in a light bulb?  The truth is that you really don’t need one at all, but I suppose that if you happen to have a sparky or two hanging around, then you would really need just one.  And it would take only a few moments to complete.  However, if we’re talking about a local government agency contracting to have this task performed, then the answer to the first question may come as bit of a shock to the taxpayer.

As a young electrical contractor, I was first introduced into the surreal world of government work back in 1999.  Let’s just say it was for a California South Bay Area county.

My company was asked to provide a proposal for the hourly labor rate that we would charge to perform several miscellaneous “Y2K” electrical projects at various county-owned buildings prior to the end of the year.  We ended up winning the contract, which definitely made my guys happy because they were able to cash in on the prevailing wage rates (the equivalent of union wages) that we were required to pay them.  I found the arrangement attractive as well because we had to supply only the manpower, while the county provided all of the necessary direction for the men.  Seemed like a win/win.

Most of the assignments were fairly straightforward troubleshooting or repair types of projects, and according to the guys, there was absolutely no pressure to work at lightning speed.  They definitely enjoyed the higher wages they were earning — for a while.

At the end of the workday one afternoon, I spoke with the guys and received some negative feedback about what they had been asked to do on that particular day.  I was really surprised by their moods, given the amount of money they were making.

It turns out that the two of them were assigned the task of replacing a single light bulb — unbelievably, they were asked by their temporary boss at the county to make the assignment last the entire day.  Granted, it was a large metal-halide, or high-pressure-sodium, lamp that was fairly high off the ground, but it still should have taken one man no more than about twenty minutes to complete the task.

Construction is a fast-paced environment, and my team was used to being as productive as possible (I lose my business and they lose their jobs if we’re not productive), so they were naturally extremely uncomfortable with being asked to be so unproductive.  Because they felt so uncomfortable with their assignment, they did attempt to find some additional things to do in order to keep themselves busy, like inspecting existing electrical, cleaning, sweeping, etc.  I did make sure that they were kept busy for the remainder of the contract.

I’m not sure how much you’d be willing to pay an electrician to change just one lamp, but I’m sure you would absolutely blow a fuse if you were asked to pay (as taxpayers did) the almost $1,100 that the county paid my company to replace just one light bulb on that day.  The county did in fact “party like it’s 1999,” but it did so on the taxpayer’s dime.

While not all of the tasks were as blatantly wasteful as the one given on that day, it seems as though my company was hired to help dispose of some “surplus” cash that the county was given for those “Y2K” projects.  Basically it’s the same concept as one of those “use it or lose it” year-end monetary bonfires we’ve all heard about.

Anyone who’s ever had the “luxury” of running a (non-crony) business understands that this kind of treatment of capital is 180 degrees out of phase from how the free market works — and the free market does work!  This is just another example of the costly consequences of people having the freedom to play around with other people’s money while being safely insulated from those pesky free-market forces.

If President Obama was even remotely serious about job-creation, he would quit with the childish “Occupy Wall Street” mentality and embrace the one thing that the government is capable of doing to help the creation of jobs (in the private sector), which is to just get out of the way of the job-creators and start unscrewing the inhibitory taxes, regulations, spending, and unnecessary waste that are currently impeding any real economic recovery.

Instead, our president keeps trying to answer another question: how many tax dollars does it take to create a job?  Unfortunately for the taxpayer, the answer will never be a static number, as the question is based upon the false pretense that government stimulus money is able to provide any meaningful job growth.

Congressman Tom McClintock’s Speech

A great speech delivered to the Council for National Policy.

I want to welcome this groundbreaking scientific expedition to the savage lands of the Left Coast. You are here in California to answer an important theoretical question and now you have your answer.

Yes, this is what Barack Obama’s second term would look like.

Study it. Fear it. And then go home and make sure that it never happens to the rest of the country.

Of course, in spite of all of its problems, California is still one of the best places in the country to build a successful small business. All you have to do is start with a successful large business……..

Read the rest at Real Clear Politics

Good luck folks!!!

Steve Jobs: An Exceptional American

Steve Jobs epitomized the  kind of American exceptionalism that makes this nation the greatest on earth.  He was able to create what he did out of thin air not because of government, but rather because of  freedom from government.

This Heritage Foundation article on Steve Jobs is a great read:

Steve Jobs, who died yesterday at the too-young age of 56, was a living refutation of all that liberals constantly tell us about our country — that we’re falling behind others and live now in a “post-American world,” as one of Barack Obama’s favorite books puts it in its title.

Will the “Steve Jobs” of the future be free to create or be shackled by government?

 

About Those “Occupy Wall Street” Protesters

Never mind the fact you have a bunch of Marxists and socialists running around spending more energy trying to avoid work than it takes to actually work….have you noticed that they have no problem using capitalism when it suits their needs.

This Biggovernment.com article is a must read.

They don’t hate capitalism or wealth; they just want the government to take wealth from others and give to them so they don’t have to go through the normal channels that those individuals with wealth went through — practical higher education, working above and beyond their peers, saving, investment, risk, etc.

I would love to see these protesters give-up everything that was created by capitalism for just one day.

 

Free-Market Green Jobs for $2.63 a Day

My article as originally published in American Thinker:

I employ the services of a landscape maintenance company (AKA a gardener) to maintain my yard.  The very existence of his business depends on the collection of that $80 from me ($2.63 a day) as well as the 30 or 40 other people whom he provides his services to each month.  This type of service may seem like an unnecessary “luxury” to many but it’s a mutually beneficial transaction that forms just one of the small but vital cogs in the wheel of capitalism.

With the downturn (think death-spiral) of the economy in California, my wife and I have had to make many sacrifices in order to keep our own household on a sustainable path.  While brainstorming ways to save money, the idea of letting our gardener go and doing the yard maintenance work ourselves has come up several times.  But we always come back to the idea that we need to resist succumbing to this recession and do our part in helping to keep what’s left of this fragile economy alive.  Fortunately for him, and us, we’ve been able to continue to utilize his services — for now.

How many other s-corp “rich” individuals, just like us, are out there who would be unable to maintain a service such as this if more of our money ended up being extracted through higher tax rates?  If our taxes were to increase by even a small amount (like, say, $80 per month), our gardener would unfortunately end up being one of the first casualties (although I might have to reconsider if he started whistling Disney tunes like the Solyndra robots).

President Obama also said: “This is not class warfare; it is math.”  Okay, let’s do some simple math.  Let’s look at what could have been done with the $535 million in taxpayer dollars that Obama “invested” in just that one Solyndra deal alone.  If you were to take the salary of one gardener who has 45 clients at $80 each per month, his earnings would add up to 3,600 per month, or $43,200 per year.  This means that if the $535 million that was carelessly wasted on the Solyndra deal had been left in the hands of the taxpayers, it theoretically could have been used to pay the annual salary of about 12,384 gardeners.  How does that stack up to the 1,100 who just lost their jobs at the luxurious Solyndra plants that built solar panels for twice the amount that they were able to sell them for?

It looks more like we’re swapping temporary “green jobs” for real “green jobs” and at an exchange rate that is much, much less than desirable.  And that is only the tip of the iceberg when you look into the green energy dealings of the Obama administration.  The administration has just approved another $5 billion (or about 115,740 gardeners for reference) in loan guarantees for these types of programs, including one to an enterprise that Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law is tied to (can you spell c-r-o-n-y?).  And as I write, there is new news that the $500-million green jobs training program came up short on its goals.

Of course, not all of this tax money would end up being used to pay the salaries of gardeners if it were left in the hands of taxpayers.  But stop and think for a moment about all of the other jobs in this nation that are tied to seemingly insignificant sums of money that Obama thinks taxpayers can “afford” to hand over to the government without consequence.

With an inefficient government bureaucracy, there is no amount of additional tax revenue that will ever be enough to satisfy its tremendous appetite if it is left unrestrained and unaccountable.  This is why, as history has proven time and time again, the use of capital is much more productive when mostly left in the hands of the private sector.

To gain a little more perspective on the enormity of the sums of taxpayer money the Obama administration has been spending, let’s do the same calculation as above using the original projected amount of Obama’s stimulus package ($787 billion).  According to the “math,” we could pay about 18,217,592 gardeners for one full year with that “stimulus” money.

Talk about a real “green jobs” program — there wouldn’t be one single square inch of land left in the United States that wasn’t fully lush and green.

 

Government Attacks Bank of America

It’s interesting how the government first made it more expensive for B of A to conduct business by adding new regulations and then it turned around and attacked B of A for responding to these added expenses by trying to make-up for lost revenue.

For more on this story check-out these articles at American Thinker, Human Events and Townhall.