Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The American Creed

This weekend I found a real treasure at a local library sale. I am a big fan of Dr. William "Bill" Bennett. You can imagine how happy I was to find a copy of The Book of Virtues in the sale stack. The library wanted a mere $3 for this treasure. I quickly grabbed it up before another Bill Bennett fan could come along and grab it up.

Thumbing through it with my daughter a few nights ago, I found something called The American's Creed. Dr. Bennett writes this introduction to the section:

In 1917, William Tyler Page of Maryland won a nationwide contest for "the best summary of American political faith." The U.S. House of Representatives accepted the statement as the American's Creed on April 3, 1918. It's two paragraphs remind us that responsibilities are the source of rights. It deserves to be read and recited. Today very few people have even heard of it.

I have to admit that I had never heard of it. I did some searches online to find out more about the creed and about William Page. The American's Creed is listed on a number of websites, and I can't find where it has ever been repealed or changed. William Page was later elected to the Clerk of the U. S. House. More impressively, when power changed in the House in 1934, the position of Minority Clerk of the House was created. Mr. Page held that position until his death 8 years later.

I think this creed is a great creed and it's easy to see why it was selected out of 3,000 entries. Without further ado...

The American's Creed

I believe in the United States of America as a Government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it; to support its Constitution; to obey its laws; to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Will the President Continue to Ignore Jobs?

We are currently at an important crossroads for President Obama's legacy. Typically, I would say a little over a year into a presidency is an odd time to evaluate the entire four years. However, President Obama has been embarking on a course that will truly define his presidency. The next few months may define his four years in office.

For his entire first year in office, and into this second, the President spent all of his political capital on health care reform. This reform, recently signed into law, will make the most sweeping changes to our health care system ever. It will do so to the tune of over $1 Trillion, and in spite of the fact that most Americans opposed it when it was signed into law, and continue to oppose it a month after its passage. Most Americans believed, and continue to believe, that fixing our economy was much more important than the push for Health Care reform. Trying to get some breathing room for reform, and trying to acknowledge that Americans wanted more of a focus on jobs, the President vowed in his first State of the Union address to focus on job creation. The Guardian UK started their coverage of the address with this:

"Barack Obama bowed to the wave of US public anger over unemployment and other recession-related issues when he promised in his first state of the union speech last night to make the creation of a million jobs the overwhelming priority for the coming year."

What we didn't know then is that job creation would take a backseat to politics in order to get Health Care Reform passed.

Once health care reform passed, many thought President Obama would move to job creation. However, the President seems to have ignored jobs, and forgotten his promise from the State of the Union. Once again, the President has dashed the hopes of American voters. In the month since health care reform passed, the President has tried to pass a new financial regulation bill, has discussed resurrecting the job killing "Cap-and-trade" bill, and has now launched a major campaign aimed at immigration reform. None of these policies will create jobs, and some, such as "cap and trade", will actually cost jobs.

No one is predicting Democrats will gain seats in November. The question is whether or not Democrats will hold onto their majorities in one or both houses. Without the super majorities the Democrats hold, it's going to be very tough to pass any of President Obama's agenda after January of 2011. With the elections about seven months away, there may not be time to pass any major legislation between now and November. This means, after the President's first four years in office, he may look back and only have health care reform to show for his efforts. If Republicans campaign on repealing that reform and win, he may not even have that.

The President campaigned on uniting the country. During his first State of the Union, he promised to focus on job creation. It's time for the President to live up to his promises. He should stop trying to pass an ultra-liberal agenda, and start working to put Americans back to work.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Size of Entitlements

This chart is from the Heritage Foundation. I think it does a very good job of illustrating one of the problems with entitlements such as Social Security, Medicare, and now Obamacare. They say a picture is worth a thousand words:

Friday, April 23, 2010

Breaking News: Obamacare will cost Americans $Billions

If you have followed the health care debate, you aren't surprised by the title to this post. The Health and Human Services (HHS) Department released a report today detailing their economic analysis of Obamacare. The President claimed for a year that he could cover millions more Americans, and he could do it for less money than the country currently spends on health care. No one who took a serious look at the facts could possibly believe the President's claim. The HHS announced that Obamacare would increase the costs of health care over the next ten years, not decrease it. According to the report, Obamacare will cost the United States an additional $311 Billion. As the AP reports:

"The overhaul will increase national health care spending by $311 billion from 2010-2019, or nine-tenths of 1 percent. To put that in perspective, total health care spending during the decade is estimated to surpass $35 trillion."

Of course, in order to only spend an additional $311 Billion, we will have to spend almost $1 Trillion to implement Obamacare. There were also a few warnings in the report. The $311 Billion increase in spending is assuming that Medicare reductions called for under Obamacare actually happen. Most people believe there is very little chance that either Democrats or Republicans will vote for reductions in Medicare. If they should, the bill will still cost more, and, "…Medicare cuts could drive about 15 percent of hospitals and other institutional providers into the red, 'possibly jeopardizing access' to care for seniors."

The Democrats in Congress and President Obama spent a little over a year creating a bill that Americans weren't behind, and still don't want. At every turn we find the bill includes things no one was aware of, or will costs more than the President claimed. A partial list of the new surprises includes:

  1. No coverage for preexisting conditions for kids until 2014.

  2. Insurance premiums will still increase under Obamacare.

  3. Obamacare will cost companies more than $14 Billion.

  4. Obamacare will forbid new doctor owned hospitals from being opened, and has halted construction on some already in the works.

  5. Members of Congress and their staff can be moved from their current health care and placed under Obamacare against their will (this is one of the few surprises that makes me smile).

Nancy Pelosi famously said that the bill had to become law so that Americans could see what was in it. So far, many of us don't like the surprises included in Obamacare. If these surprises and additional costs keep piling up, the Democrats may not like what's in the bill come November either.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Of Government and Men:Taxes

Last year I started a series entitled "Of Government and Men". It was my attempt to explain my philosophy on government. I want to periodically update that series, and this is the first "sequel" to that.When writing the series, I didn't spend as much time on taxes as I wanted to. I despise taxes, but I cannot deny that a certain amount of taxes are required. However, as Henry Hazlitt wrote in Economics in One Lesson, "...every dollar of government spending must be raised through a dollar of taxation." The government has no means of raising it's own funds. When it borrows money, that money must be repaid at some point, and can only be repaid by taking the money from the taxpayers. The government does not make a profit. Every dollar the government spends is a dollar taken from someone.

To summarize Hazlitt's argument, the government should carefully examine any tax as the money taken from taxpayers is money the taxpayers can't spend. That's money that isn't used in the private sector to create jobs. Hazlitt used a bridge project to illustrate this:

If {the bridge} is built to meet an insistent public demand, if it solves a traffic problem or a transportation problem otherwise insoluble, if ,in short, it is even more necessary to the taxpayers collectively than the things for which they would have individually spent their money if it had not been taken away, there can be no objection. But a bridge built primarily "to provide employment" is a different kind of bridge. When providing employment becomes the end, need becomes a subordinate consideration. "Projects" have to be invented. {bold is mine, emphasis in the original}

Any spending of tax money should be done because the need for the items bought by taxes are needed, not because the government wants to "create jobs" or bailout a company. If the need for the bridge, road, building, or dam isn't a real need, the project shouldn't be created.

The other danger in taxes is on what they tax, or what they may cause to happen. Taxes discourage the behavior they tax. A tax on cigarettes will discourage some people from smoking. A tax on investing discourages individuals from investing. In the first case, it makes the object more expensive, in the second case, it decreases the reward of the behavior. When an investor risks $1, he risks losing $1. If his investment is successful, for every $1 he makes, the government will step in and take some percentage of that $1. Let's assume there is a 40% capital gains tax. Then if an investment is a bad investment, the investor loses $1. If it is a good investment he gains $0.60. This level of tax will discourage some people from investing.

As our deficit gets worse and worse, Congress will purpose new taxes to solve the problem. Remember these two rules: Is the spending government purposes worth the money to the taxpayers? And, will the taxes discourage something we want to encourage (like business growth)?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Quick Notes: Hawaii Edition

I have been on vacation with my family in Hawaii since last week. I will be home soon and will resume a normal posting schedule then. William F. Buckley use to say that no one can live politics 100% of the time. I have been enjoying other things over the last couple of weeks including some diving.

This is the wreck of the Carthaginian in Maui, Hawaii. It's one of my favorite dive sites. This time, I also had an encounter with a sub on the wreck:

The bottom of the Carthaginian is about 100 feet down. It really is a great dive.

In the coming weeks, I hope to have another global warming post (in honor of Earth Day), and I may have another interview with a Georgian running for office this year. Back in October, I ran a series of posts with Maria Sheffield. Mrs. Sheffield is running for Insurance Commissioner in Georgia. I said at the time that I hoped to run interviews with other candidates, and I am working on that now. I try to focus on National and International issues. However, a number of my readers are Georgian's and I feel I owe it to them to bring them information on those candidates running for office in our state.

Whether you agree with President Obama or not, his election should have taught everyone an important lesson. That lesson is: all elected offices are important. In 2008, the voters elected a man with less than one term as a Senator to the highest office in our nation. That means we should pay careful attention to all of our elected officials, and at all levels. I am trying to help by discussing some of the candidates that don't receive as much attention.

I hope to be back to a normal schedule by Sunday. Are there any topics you would like to see discussed? Anything I have covered that you feel needs more attention or more debate? Is there an issue that I haven't covered that you think needs to be discussed here? This is your chance to help guide the direction I take for the next month. Leave a comment here with your thoughts, or email me at

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Book Review: The Road to Prosperity

It's been a number of months since my last Book Review, and I thought now is as good a time as any to revive the column. This time, I am reviewing Pat Toomey's The Road to Prosperity: How to Grow Our Economy and Revive the American Dream. Patrick Toomey is a three term Republican from congressman from Pennsylvania. In a season of campaign books, this is another one. Mr. Toomey is running for the U.S. Senate this year, and I am sure he hopes this book will help him. I wouldn't have normally picked this up, but it was part of the Red State Book Notes Project. Having gotten all of the disclaimers out of the way, I really enjoyed this book.

Unlike a number of other conservative books written in recent years, this book looks specifically at many of the financial issues facing our nation today. It was written last year, so it doesn't take into account the recent passage of Obamacare, but there are a number of other issues it does tackle. Social Security, out of control spending, and taxes are just a taste of some of the issues from Road to Prosperity. There is also some very interesting background information included with each of the chapters. Chapter Two is titled "Lessons from History" and discusses the Great Depression, the financial boom of the 1980's, and Ireland's more recent economic successes. Each of these is treated as a case study, and includes the authors views on what we should take from each of them.

While many of the topics (such as tax policy, and the 2008 financial collapse) could be complex undertakings, Toomey does a good job of discussing the topics in everyday plain English. If you want a more detailed preview, I wrote a number of posts at Red State discussing the book:

The Celtic Tiger

The Superiority of American Manufacturing

Social Security and Obamacare

Final Thoughts

Each of these were written for the Book Notes project, but I think they stand by themselves pretty well. I wouldn't recommend this book for everyone, but it is probably one of the better campaign type books written, and at least one chapter should be required reading at the high school level. If you live in Pennsylvania, you should pick this up as a good resource to decide if you want to vote for Mr. Toomey or not.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Bad News for Media and Democrats

Since early last year, a number of people have been involved with Tea Parties throughout the United States. I have been to two different Tea Party rallies, and have been impressed with the people I have personally met there. The vast number of them have been very normal people who are just worried about their country. I have met Republicans, Independents, and Democrats at these rallies.

As the movement has gained more and more attention, the mainstream media, and a number of Democrats have insulted, dismissed, and belittled Tea Party attendees. I have never understood this. The people who go to Tea Parties are average Americans that are concerned about the direction of their government. Their primary concern from the beginning was to stop the out of control spending by our government. When President Bush was criticized for eight years, we were told questioning our government was patriotic. Where did that sentiment go? CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets have insulted these people time and time again. Tea Party members are simply exercising their constitutional rights, even while their elected representatives ignore them. That may soon change.

There are two polls out that suggest the Tea Party is much more mainstream than even I thought. Here are two findings of these polls that should really give Democrats and the Media a pause. First, according to a Rasmussen poll, more people identify themselves with the Tea Party (48%) than President Obama (44%). Second, a USA Today / Gallup poll finds that 26% of Americans identify themselves with the Tea Party while a slightly smaller percent oppose the Tea Party.

So what does this mean? How should elected officials interpret this when the Tea Party itself has no official leaders? It's simple: Democrats, Republicans, and the media need to stop insulting these individuals and start listening to their concerns. The Tea Party has attracted a large number of Americans from all walks of life. The USA Today poll even found that the demographics of Tea Party supporters closely mirrors the demographics of the country at large. Members of Congress who ignore this group may be looking for a new job after November.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter

He is risen today! Alleluia!

Happy Easter to you and your family. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Easter Weekend.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Obamacare Update

Days since Obamacare became law: 10

Days left before the beginning of $500 Billion in new taxes: 273

Companies that have announced they will lose $14 Billion due to one page of Obamacare:

3 M
A K Steel Holding Corp
AT & T
Deere & Co.


How is your new health care?