Hard Working Traditional Values With A Dash of Fun

Hard Working Traditional Values With A Dash of Fun

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Deficit is $200 Trillion, Not $16 Trillion

The American public is very wary that Obamacare will be a good thing. Most people are largely ignorant of the details of Obamacare, but they have a gut feeling that things will not turn out well.

There is a good reason for this queasy feeling and it´s nothing that can be solved by a shot of Pepto Bismal. (You may feel you need a shot of something much stronger,)

Those of us who have studied the failures of government to do an adequate job of serving the general public are quick to point out the already established government health care program, Medicare, is train wreck ready to happen and, unfortunately, we are all on the train.

How bad is it?

What are your favorite synonyms for bad?

Abhorrent, appalling, atrocious, awful, dire, disastrous, dreadful, frightful, ghastly, horrendous, shocking, monstrous, petrifying, unnerving.

All of these describe the problem and here is why:

  • When Medicare was set up in the 1960s, the number of years people lived past age 65 was much less. That is a good thing if you are over age 65, but this increased longevity was not factored into the cost of Medicare. In fact for the past 40 years, the cost of Medicare has grown at twice the rate of the economy.
  • The pending retirement of the large baby boom generation (78 million) is only going to make this imbalance worse.
  • With smaller families there are fewer people contributing to Medicare withholding and more people taking money out.
  • Adding to costs, we have the popular prescription drug benefit called Medicare Part D (a George W. Bush program) that provides the elderly an average of $1,500 per year in drug subsidies.  How was this paid for? It wasn´t funded by any new taxes. This has created a $16 trillion unfunded liability.  In other words, this ¨most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s¨ (in the words of David Walker, former comptroller general of the GAO) is equal in size to the official federal debt that has us Tea Party types pulling our hair out. Due to squirrelly government accounting, this is kept off the books. So should our debt actually be $32 trillion? No, it´s actually much worse.
  • Boston University economist Laurence J. Kotlikoff calculates that the actual deficit number we have to worry about is over $200 trillion, and most of this is due to the underfunding of Medicare vs. projected costs. How does this number get so unfathomably huge? Proper accounting methods require that we project the cost of not paying for things that have been promised, that is how we end up with a $200 trillion deficit.
We can make this $200 trillion go down but it will mean either taxing people more to pay for Medicare or cutting back on Medicare benefits, neither option is likely to get you elected to Federal office, hence nothing ever gets done.

What is the solution? You can give up on the Democrats. They have proven time and time again that they can´t cut government spending and there are not enough rich people to fund all the taxes they would like to raise. You can also give up on most Republicans.  This is because too many of them are also okay with more government spending without funding it with new taxes (Medicare Part D mentioned above and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan). Our best bet is with the Tea Party Republicans who are okay with cutting back on government spending. Unfortunately, this is not popular with most voters who are only looking after themselves and don´t care if our fiscal irresponsibility ruins the future for our children and grandchildren.

Your thoughts?

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Wrong Way To Do Health Care

My local paper had a lead editorial last Saturday titled Health Care is a Moral Dilemna. The writer, John Florez, argued that the moral thing to do is spend more money providing health care to poor people.

I agree that health care is a moral dilemma, but for an entirely different reason.  The way health care works in America is the average household spends about 6 percent of their income on health care but the nation spends about 18 percent on health care. Where does the other 12 percent come from? Mostly employers and government. In the case of government, more and more of the money spent is not money collected from taxpayers, but borrowed money that will have to be paid back by future generations.

That´s not morally right.

I think it is immoral to not only take money from a child´s piggy bank, but stuff it full of IOU´s that he or she will have to pay back when they grow up, all for money spent on my generation.

This is a crazy system and totally ignores free market economics that has proven how to lower costs to affordable levels. It´s easy to see why our system is so messed up. Consider a system where you only have to pay one-third of the cost of your food and someone else has to pay the other two-thirds. Do you think your buying habits would change?  Of course they would. You would spend more money because most of it is not yours.

The morally right thing to do is to fix our health care system so we can pay for it ourselves without passing on the bill to our kids. Our most expensive-in-the-world health care system was rife for reform before Obama Care made it worse. America pays more for health care without a comparative boost in benefits. Numerous studies show that there are many other countries with far lower health care costs with healthier, longer living citizens. Unfortunately, Obama Care was a political solution to an economics problem. President Obama proved to be too inexperienced and too unwilling to provide leadership to use the historic opportunity he had to make corrections to the health care system that would lower costs and thereby make it more affordable to more people.

Here is the crux of the problem. Obama Care focused on goals (affordable health care access to all). Economics doesn´t work that way, it is incentives, not goals, that you have to watch for.  That is why employers are not hiring more people, keeping the number of employees under 50, and dropping worker´s hours under 30 hours. They are trying to avoid the higher costs associated with Obama Care. None of these things will help more people get health coverage and actually result in fewer employed people and fewer work hours. Meanwhile, special interest groups get exemptions from participating in Obama Care, to the detriment of everyone else that is stuck with it.

It´s the incentives, not the goals that drive actions.

We know that we could lower the cost of health care if there was more price competition with prescription drugs.  This was not part of health care reform.

We know that we could lower the cost of health care if there was tort reform to limit the add-on costs created by the trial lawyer industry. This was not part of health care reform.

We know that we could lower the cost of health care if providers were paid on the results of their actions.  Instead, the more procedures, needed or not, are performed and billed, the more money providers can make. This was not part of health care reform.

How bad did Obama Care blow its chance to fix health care? Here is a quote from Confidence Men, by liberal author Ron Suskind where he talks about Dartmouth Method reformer Dr. Jim Weinstein, whose research had found widespread waste and unnecessary procedures throughout the health care industry and was hopeful that Obama Care would address these obvious problems.  However, special interests squelched any chance at these much needed reforms.

     To spend a ¨once-in-a-generation¨ effort on extending coverage to the uninsured--without any real teeth in using evidence about what was effective in reducing unnecessary procedures, and driving down costs--was a ¨stunning error.¨

     ¨It made things worse,¨ he said solemnly.

     And then he got frustrated. ¨I can´t believe how wrong they got it. This was our one chance, and we completely blew it.¨

What´s it going to take to get a health care system that is based on economic realities and not political special interest lobbying? Let´s stop the fiscal child abuse of stealing money from future generations to pay for today´s health care costs.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Occupy Hollywood

In recent years two contrasting grass root movements have entered the political arena. On the right, we have the Tea Party and on the left, we have the Occupy movement. Both have received similar coverage in the media. In general the Tea Party is portrayed as a bunch of white racist xenophobes and the Occupy Wall Street is composed of compassionate people standing up for the oppressed masses of the 99 percent.

Despite the better media support, the Occupy movement has little measurable results to show for itself. Meanwhile, despite some Tea Party candidates losing elections, many others now have a voice in congress, notably Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Mike Lee of Utah.  There are no new senators who were elected carrying the Occupy banner.

I think part of the reason for the Occupy failure is that they picked the wrong targets. Wall Street is not likely to pay attention to the demands of a bunch of liberal activists. But there are other groups that are much more sympathetic to liberal goals--perhaps none more than Hollywood and higher education.

So its time to get out the tents and sleeping bags and Occupy Hollywood and Occupy College.


Well it is no secret that the elite in Hollywood make tens of millions of dollars a year.  These same people are overwhelmingly liberal and are widely seen supporting liberal causes. Meanwhile despite the high earnings and wealth, these earnings are not shared with the rank and file of the 120,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild where the average actor is lucky to make more than $5,000 a year. Holly poverty, Batman!  Isn´t it time to occupy the latest Hollywood movie set and demand ¨fairness?¨ Shouldn´t Occupy find immediate success preaching to the choir? Don´t the richest actors have excess millions they can share with their poor fellow union members?

Meanwhile, our university campuses nationwide are the breeding ground for future liberals. Their faculties and administrations are brimming over with liberals, socialists, even Marxists. Conservative professor is an oxymoron. Conservatives are even unwelcome as speakers. When was the last time you saw a distinguished conservative invited to give a commencement address? And yet at such a bastion of liberal values you will find that tenured professors and administrators make six figure salaries while rarely cracking a door to teach a class. Instead, adjunct professors, usually making less than $25,000 a year with no benefits, are the ones teaching 70% of the classes. Sounds like another oppressive, unfair establishment that could benefit from Occupy moving in with their tents. And with liberals in control of the schools, it should result in a win for Occupy, right?

Am I missing something here? How come we haven´t seen Occupy Hollywood, Occupy Harvard or Occupy Berkeley?

By the way, the hypocrisy of Hollywood is blatantly on display in my new book Jihad on Hollywood.  It is free or only $0.99 on most eBook platforms. Read it and let me know what you think.

Friday, September 20, 2013

I´m A Propagandist Liar

My post ¨Is God the Voldemort of Science?¨, which I shared on Amazon, touched a raw nerve with someone who provided the following reply. I have injected my response to Mr. Horse´s comments.

Charley Horse says:
A propagandist repeats over and over and over the same lies. Just as you are repeating the same lies as all other activist creationists. 
First of all, to the annoyance of Darwin disciples, intelligent design is not the same as creationism. This is inconvenient because it is a lot easier to make fun of people who believe the world is 6,000 years old than it is to answer the challenges of people that acknowledge the universe is billions of years old and are looking for the best explanation for the origin of life.

I am not clear at all as to what lies I am repeating over and over.  To recap the highlights of my essay:
1. Secularist have been successful in making evolution the only theory of the origin of life that is taught in schools.
2. Secularists have suppressed the debate of any arguments that criticize the Darwinian theory of evolution.
3. Random mutation as an explanation for the origin of life and the creation of new live forms is not supported by science as ably shown in Stephen Meyer´s books.
4. The overwhelming Christian population of the United States is likely to accept the intelligent design theory, so secularists want to keep the debate out of the public eye.

Again, I am not clear how any of these are lies.

But it has been known for several years now what the true goals of the activists are. Nothing to do with increasing human knowledge. It's all about increasing the numbers of voters who will support a theistic leaning government. Increasing
the wealth and power of the far right religious nuts. Those that promote the inerrancy of their "science book".
I am not opposed to increasing human knowledge. Science advances when old theories are challenged.  The obstinate refusal to debate the intelligent design challenge shows that Darwinians are not really interested in increasing human knowledge, but only maintaining the dominance of a belief that cannot support itself by using science. 

It is a misperception of liberals that conservatives seek a theistic leaning government.  We seek small government and the preservation of our first amendment rights.

DarwinÅ› Doubt is very much a ¨science book.¨ It is a difficult book to read without an advanced understanding of biology. Much of the book consists of Meyer quoting eminent scientists with no association to the intelligent design movement expressing their doubts about the viability of Darwinian evolution as the explanation for the origin of life or the creation of new life forms.

Here are the goals of the organization most responsible for promotion of ignorance in science by promoting 'intelligent design' also known as creationism. 
No, intelligent design is not creationism. I have to assume that Mr. Horse is smart enough to know the difference. He lumps the two together as a way to disparage intelligent design. Actually, intelligent design is much closer to evolution that to creationism. It just happens to be a better explanation for evolution than Darwinism.

Governing Goals

To defeat scientific materialism and its destructive moral, cultural and political legacies.
To replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.

Five Year Goals

To see intelligent design theory as an accepted alternative in the sciences and scientific research being done from the perspective of design theory.
To see the beginning of the influence of design theory in spheres other than natural science.
To see major new debates in education, life issues, legal and personal responsibility pushed to the front of the national agenda.

Twenty Year Goals

To see intelligent design theory as the dominant perspective in science.
To see design theory application in specific fields, including molecular biology, biochemistry, paleontology, physics and cosmology in the natural sciences, psychology, ethics, politics, theology and philosophy in the humanities; to see its innuence in the fine arts.
To see design theory permeate our religious, cultural, moral and political life.
I am not sure where Mr. Horse got this list and while they are presented to be alarming, I can´t disagree with the potential conclusions.
My support of intelligent design resulted in my writing of the play Inherit the Wind, Overturned by Design.  You can find out more by clicking the link in the right column of this blog. It is also available via ITunes and Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Conservatives Revere the Constitution. What About Progressives?

Today is the anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. This brilliant document which safeguards the freedoms of American citizens is responsible for a form of government that allowed for America to become the greatest nation in the history of the world. It is a shame that most citizens are highly ignorant of this important document. A public opinion poll once found that over half of the people thought the phrase "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" was in the Constitution. It is not.  This is a quote from Karl Marx, the founder of modern communism.

It is a sad fact that modern liberals don't trace the origin of their philosophy to the Constitution. They share much more with Marx than they would like to admit.

But communism is not the only philosophy that promote liberal desires.

Consider the following beliefs:
  • The first obligation of every citizen must be to work both spiritually and physically. The activity of individuals is not to counteract the interest of the universality, but must have its result within the framework of the whole for the benefit of all. Consequently we demand:
  • Abolition of unearned incomes . . .
  • . . . we demand the total confiscation of all war profits.
  • We demand the nationalization of all associated industries.
  • We demand a division of profits of heavy industries. 
  • We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.
  • The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program . . . The plans of instruction of all educational institutions are to conform with the experiences of practical life. The comprehension of the concept of the State must be striven for by the school as early as the beginning of understanding.
All these points share a philosophy of the benefits of big government, dear to liberals.  None of these are in any way associated with the U.S. Constitution. Yet how many liberals would like to see all these things happen?

So what is the source of these progressive demands?

It's the Nazi Party Platform, adopted  on February 24, 1920.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Easier to Get Blood From a Turnip Than a Liberal

Last Thursday I got a call from a blood bank telling me that my blood was a match for a baby who needs a heart operation. I went in this morning to donate a pint.

You would think that donating blood is a pretty nonpartisan activity, but it turns out that conservatives are much more likely to donate blood than liberals are.  Liberal New York Times columnist Nicolas D. Kristof bemoaned this liberal embarrassment in a 2008 column and cites economist Arthur C. Brooks about this.

In 2006 Brooks wrote the book Who Really Cares which reports that in all forms of charity, conservatives are more generous than liberals, including blood donations, so much so that Dr. Brooks said, "If liberals and moderates gave blood at the same rate as conservatives, the blood supply of the United States would jump about 45 percent."

As professor Thomas Sowell says, "Being willing to donate the taxpayers' money is not the same as putting your own money where your mouth is."

Or your blood.

If liberals have a reputation for being compassionate, why don't they donate blood like conservatives do?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Does an Anti-God Comic Strip Belong on the Funny Pages?

The above comic strip, drawn by cartoonist Dan Piraro, appeared in about 350 newspapers on Wednesday, September 11. In my area it appeared in the Deseret News.

As to be expected in our politically correct world, Mr. Piraro thinks nothing about presenting a cartoon making fun of people who believe in God.  The message of this cartoon is clearly that people who believe in God are just as backward as people that worship volcanoes.  If you were to look back through Piraro's nearly 30 years of Bizarro panels, I doubt you would find any comics poking fun at gays, minorities, or Muslims. Some topics are taboo.  Other topics are clearly fair game.

In Piraro's October 29, 2007 comic, titled "Scariest Halloween Costumes of 2007," he shows a picture of a young couple with many children with the caption "Couples ignoring population crisis." I remember writing to him back then and suggesting that a scarier picture is a "child with single mom and no father in his life." As with many liberals, Piraro is scared of large families and thinks something is wrong with people who make such choices.

Piraro is upfront and candid in pushing his pro-atheist beliefs in his blog (see http://bizarrocomics.com/2013/09/11/sins-of-comedy) about his volcano comic. He even states that he is sure it will offend some people.

Comic strips have a decades long tradition of poking fun at our failings and giving us a smile or chuckle. They also are a great way to comment on human nature and society. I enjoy many of the Bizarro comics. However, I question whether a comic strip that finds it appropriate to insult religious people is a good fit for the funny page of a family newspaper.  Would it be okay to have a pro-atheist message as part of a Sesame Street episode? How about if an elementary school teacher shared this comic with all the students in his/her class?

Wouldn't this comic strip be a better fit for a more avant garde paper? Does it belong on a page that is read by children? Do parents care about the content of the comic strips their children read?

I am tempted to contact Paul Edwards, the Deseret News Editor (pedwards@deseretnews.com) and Richard Hall, the Deseret News Managing Editor  (rhall@deseretnews.com) and asking them if it is time to find a different comic that is better suited for the families that read the funny page in their newspaper that is family focused.

What do you think? Am I making a bigger deal of this than it is? I am not saying that Piraro should be censored from expressing his liberal, atheistic views, I am just saying that it should be presented in a different venue, where people expect such controversial opinions.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's NOT The War On Terror, Stupid

-- UPDATED September 11, 2015 --

On the 14th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the powers-that-be continue to refer to "The War on Terror," as if we are fighting terror.  "War on Terror" gets more than 85,000,000 Google results.

At the risk of being politically incorrect, the correct label should be "War on Islamic Fascism." However, this only shows up on Google 1,760,000 times which is only 2% of the "War On Terror" label. As usually, political correctness wins out, even when it is wrong.

In the past fourteen years, ALL of the terrorist attacks on America have been perpetrated by Islamic Fascists. (scroll to the bottom of this post for a definition of Islamic Fascism). We don't have militant Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, or even atheists attacking the United States.

Twenty-five of the twenty-eight terrorists on the FBI Most Wanted List have Arabic names. When Christians leave a church, Jews leave a synagogue, Buddhists or Hindus leave a temple, you don't see them rioting and killing people. However, it is a common occurrence for Muslims to riot and kill after leaving a mosque service after being incited by a Muslim preacher. It happens with disturbing regularity.

To be clear, the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not ascribe to the radical views of Islamic Fascists so thoroughly demonstrated by ISIS, but they are allowed to preach their terror inciting views nonetheless.

In our modern PC world, in its quest for equality and diversity, all cultures are recognized as having equal value.  This is not true and thank goodness the PC virus did not exist when America fought WWII. When Germany and Japan were defeated the fascist Nazis and fascist Japanese imperialists were rooted out. Germany and Japan are now much better for this.  However, in Iraq and Afghanistan, no action was taken to combat the roots of Islamic Fascism. No wonder there is little hope for improvement in these countries without America's presence.

The Associated Press, which is the source for much of our news, perpetrates the whitewashing with stylebook rules (also here) that keep reporters from identifying Islamists as terrorists.

To look at Hollywood, the movie industry has studiously avoided making Muslims the bad guys. For example, when Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears was made into a movie they changed the terrorists from Muslims to Europeans. Most movies that tackle the subject of America's fight against terrorists show America in a bad light. (For a screenplay showing what would happen if Hollywood was attached by terrorists, see here.)

In World War II, Franklin Roosevelt announced that it would be a war that would end with the Unconditional Surrender of our enemies. There was no talk of "degrading" the enemy. The war ended in less than four years after this statement. Now Germany and Japan have turned from suppressed fascist states to thriving democracies.  Here we are 14 years after 9/11 and although we have been able to eliminate some of the terrorist leadership, the root source of animosity to America remains.

Where do you think Germany and Japan would be today if the philosophies of Nazism and Japanese imperialism were not eliminated? During the cold war, America had a Voice of America radio show that broadcast news and American values to countries under communist suppression. Why have we not done the same during this war?

"The most obvious points of comparison would be these: Both movements are based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind. ("Death to the intellect! Long live death!" as Gen. Francisco Franco's sidekick Gonzalo Queipo de Llano so pithily phrased it.) Both are hostile to modernity (except when it comes to the pursuit of weapons), and both are bitterly nostalgic for past empires and lost glories. Both are obsessed with real and imagined "humiliations" and thirsty for revenge. Both are chronically infected with the toxin of anti-Jewish paranoia (interestingly, also, with its milder cousin, anti-Freemason paranoia). Both are inclined to leader worship and to the exclusive stress on the power of one great book. Both have a strong commitment to sexual repression—especially to the repression of any sexual "deviance"—and to its counterparts the subordination of the female and contempt for the feminine. Both despise art and literature as symptoms of degeneracy and decadence; both burn books and destroy museums and treasures." Christopher Hitchens, Defending Islamofascism: It's a valid term. Here's why, Slate, 2007-10-22

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Fiddlin' - Not My Red Line

President Obama has been widely criticized from the right and even the left for not showing Presidential leadership. When it came time to draft the plans for Obama Care, Obama strategy was to "lead from behind." He let the Democrats in Congress be in charge of coming up with the plan. It was not until national polls showed increase support for gay marriage that Obama changed his position 180 degrees. He was curiously absent in dealing with the events leading up to and following the Benghazi consulate attack. He has shown no leadership in fixing the debt problem even after his Simpson-Bowles commission presented needed actions. He has avoided taking actions to support pro-Western rebels in Syria when they were in greater control and now much of the rebellion is aligned with Al-Qaeda. He famously stated that Syria could not cross the red line of using chemical weapons and once chemical weapons were used, he stepped back and claimed the red line comment was not really his, but the world in general, all the while he has been unable to obtain international support for a questionable attack on Syria.

Somehow I don't see where Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, or Bush Sr. would have boxed himself in the way Obama has. Even Bush Jr did a better job getting international support for his foreign interventions. Obama's been playing a hard game of chess and making one bad move after another. It doesn't help that Obama doesn't like to lead as his actions have shown time and again.

Obama's embarrassing "Red Line" comment is ripe for a parody.  I first thought I would use the unfathomably popular Blurred Lines song, but then I read the words and yikes! I won't touch those with a ten foot pole.  So instead, Obama gets the Johnny Cash treatment.

sing to the tune of Johnny Cash's I Walked the Line

I keep a close watch on these polls of mine
I pass the buck exactly all the time
My threat to Syria left me in a bind
It’s not my fault, Not my red line

I find it very, very easy to be sly
I find myself alone when each day is nigh
I'll not admit that I'm a fool who lies
It’s not my fault, Not my red line

As sure as night is dark and day is light
I’ll keep avoiding guilt both day and night
My teleprompter tells me that I’m right
It’s not my fault, Not my red line

I've got a way to dither, not decide
I’ve got a case for balking I can't hide
For you should know I only follow with the tide
It’s not my fault, Not my red line

I keep a close watch on these polls of mine
I pass the buck exactly all the time
My threat to Syria left me in a bind
It’s not my fault, Not my red line

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Real Climate Change - Not What You Think

For at least a generation, the liberal establishment has been preaching the doom and gloom message of first, global warming, and when evidence proved missing, climate change. They claim that over the past century, due to the damaging actions of man, the world is on a path to ruin. They want to force people to stop using fossil fuels and use carbon taxes to collect revenue from those they perceive as using too much energy. They think that getting people to drive electric cars and stopping the development of third world countries will stop climate change. Fortunately, most people recognize that any action taken is unlikely to have measurable results, besides making one feel better. 
However, I must agree that there has been a climate change, only it is not the one liberals usually worry about.
Eighty years ago, homes had married couples living together. 
Eighty years ago, the vast majority of young people did not think promiscuity was acceptable. 
Eighty years ago, music was family friendly and not laced with profanity. 
Eighty years ago, movies were geared to all audiences and not filled with offensive material. 
Eighty years ago, families had books, pianos and radio programs for home entertainment instead of violent, time wasting TV and video games. 
Eighty years ago, people lived within their means and elected a government that did the same.
Sadly, this is the real climate change we have seen in America. Liberals like to say that we have the capacity to change, to protect ourselves, to use our intelligence for the good of the planet and its inhabitants. Good point, but let's not waste resources trying to control the weather. Let's focus on addressing moral climate change, where our actions can have real results.
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