May 01

Trust

We took the junior high and high school boys rock climbing and rappelling Sunday at Whipps Ledges just north of Akron. What a great demonstration of life for them. That first step backwards off the edge of the cliff almost 30 feet in the air and nothing but the rope, your gear, and your partner belaying you from below. Ultimately, you have to trust that everything will work properly and that your partner will be there to catch you if you stumble.

It is the same in life. We need to know who we can trust and learn to develop the skills to properly check our surroundings. This is why it is important to have strong families and good close friends who have positive impacts on our lives. If you have a friend that is leading you down a destructive path you need to get out of that situation now. It will only end badly for you.

But I’m afraid our culture continues to turn to the wrong friends to trust. In a speech at Fort Stewart on Friday, President Obama said the following:

”And we can do it again.  We face some tough times.  We’ve gone through the worst recession since the Great Depression, two wars.  But you know what, we’ve faced tough times before.  And all of you know something that America should never forget:  Just as you rise or fall as one unit, we rise or fall as one nation.  Just as you have each other’s backs, what has always made America great is that we have each other’s backs.  Each of us is only here because somebody looked out for us.  Not just our parents, but our neighbors and our communities and our houses of worship and our VFW halls.  (Applause.)  Each of us is here because we had a country that was willing to invest in things like community colleges and universities, and scientific research and medicine, and caring for our veterans.  Each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, had our backs.

This country exists because generations of Americans worked together and looked out for one other.  Out of many, we are one.  Those are the values we’ve got to return to.  If we do, there’s nothing this country cannot achieve.  There’s no challenge that’s too great for us.  There’s no destiny beyond our reach.  As long as we’re joined in common purpose and common resolve, better days will always lie ahead, and we will remind everybody why the United States of America is the greatest country on Earth.”

What the President is asking us to do is to place our trust in the government and we will be great again. The President is wrong. Just look at the successful men and women from our history. Who had Thomas Edison’s back? How about Henry Ford? Or Steve Jobs? Our greatness is not based on the government having our back as the President is implying. Our greatness comes from the dreams of individual men and women who have a drive and a vision and share them with others to fulfill a need or want for their fellow human beings.

If the President’s collectivism ideas are what made the country great, the Soviet Union would have been an overwhelming success rather than a miserable failure that died almost two decades ago. There is no intrinsic motivation for government to be successful. It is not what government does that breeds success but a culture that allows us to dream and then try to pursue those dreams. Sorry, Mr. President, you cannot “guarantee success” as you suggested in an earlier speech last week.

Who do you trust your family and close friends or a bureaucrat in some government agency? Just like in rock climbing, I want someone I know well and can trust to be holding the end of that rope in case I fall.

Posted in Life Lessons, President Obama | Tagged | 2 Comments
Apr 18

The Choice between Two Governments

I was working tonight and listening to the theme song from Last of the Mohicans, one of my favorite movies. I am struck by the sacrifice and struggle of the Native Americans that lived here and those from faraway lands that ventured here. Why do movies like this move us men? Personally, I look back to these men and women who fought and lived and explored this country and later fought to free it from a tyrant. Where are those people today? Do they still exist?

And then I look at my own life. Am I willing to sacrifice and struggle for the true betterment of the country? For liberty? I am reminded of the movie, The Patriot and the scene where Benjamin Martin refuses to vote for independence because he is needed more at home with his family and not willing to send anyone into battle in his place. Honestly, I would have to say this is me, focusing on family, work, and my other commitments. And yet everyday an overreaching government continues to steal our freedom in the name of safety, protection, and misguided policies.

What will happen when the freedoms we are losing result in tyranny eventually reaching my home as it did in The Patriot? Will I stand for liberty or cower in the face of that tyranny? What about you? Or should I make my stand now?

This coming election is pivotal for the direction of our country. We have before us a clear choice. A government that will solve all our problems: help us to eat right, provide us with healthcare, education, and jobs, ensure we never fail, promise we always win, and guarantee happiness as it controls every aspect of our lives. Or we can choose a limited government that promotes and protects our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness where the solutions to our problems come from the people and not the government. Was it not Benjamin Franklin who said, “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.”

Is the former choice real life? Where is the struggle that brings character and an ultimate sense of satisfaction when we do succeed? For most of us here in the USA, it is a contrived struggle through sports and other activities. I’m not down playing sports because they are a great way to teach character to kids and young adults, but for many of us it is a drug that inoculates us from the important struggles of life. It has been that latter choice that has made our country great, individuals that pursue their dreams like Steve Jobs did, even after multiple failures. When will we applaud those that are successful in life because they risked greatly?

I see a few men and women willing to stand and speak out in order to protect our freedom. Will you? Will I? Everyone of us must search our hearts and investigate the candidates running for office and vote for the candidate that will stand for liberty.

“The truly and deliberately evil men are a very small minority; it is the appeaser who unleashes them on mankind; it is the appeaser’s intellectual abdication that invites them to take over. When a culture’s dominant trend is geared to irrationality, the thugs win over the appeasers. When intellectual leaders fail to foster the best in the mixed, unformed, vacillating character of people at large, the thugs are sure to bring out the worst. When the ablest men turn into cowards, the average men turn into brutes.”
Ayn Rand
“Altruism is Appeasement”
January 1966

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments
Apr 16

Make Them Pay Their Fair Share

This past week in my high school classes, we discussed President Obama’s Buffett Rule proposal. Our focus was on the idea of what is fair and applying that standard to the situation of Warren Buffett and his secretary. It certainly seems unfair that Mr. Buffett pays a lower percentage of his income than his secretary.

My students had some great questions:

  • Why would Mr. Buffett want to pay more in taxes?
  • Why doesn’t Mr. Buffett just pay more to the government?
  • Will this have a real impact on the deficit?

I have an idea what the answers are to these questions. One, Mr. Buffett really doesn’t want to pay more in taxes and he knows it won’t pass congress which is why he truly supports the issue to help back President Obama’s campaign. Moreover, the tax will have no real impact on the deficit. This is all election year propaganda.

We need to understand that taxation takes from peoples earnings. It is not the government’s money. Taxes are a duty needed to run the government under the requirements of the U.S. Constitution, but only those functions established by the constitution. The problem we face is not a taxation problem but a spending problem. This is why the Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives back in 2006 and why John McCain lost to Barrack Obama in 2008. We continue to face the spending problem under the Obama administration (again why he lost the House in 2010).

There are two parts to bringing down the deficit: cut spending and grow the economy. Surprised that I didn’t write cut taxes. First, I want you to understand that the largest factor to balance the budget is cutting spending. The federal government is out of control. We need actual cuts in spending and the elimination of some federal departments.

Second, tax revenue is a function of economic growth more than the tax rates. This cannot be disputed. If we look at history we can see this clearly when there is economic growth, tax revenue goes up significantly. Just look at the economic success of the 1920’s under Secretary of Treasury, Andrew Mellon. What we need is to simplify the tax system and eliminate tax shelters and loopholes. This will establish the same rules for everyone.

If you still think Mr. Buffett needs to pay a higher percentage to be fair, I think you need to look at your own heart. There is some jealousy that you need to deal with. Then, I would recommend you study how Warren Buffett or another successful individual became successful and follow their examples.

Posted in Economics, Politics, President Obama, Taxation | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment
Apr 11

Buffett Rule = Fairness in America?

Recently, I heard President Obama’s speech in Florida pushing for his Buffet Rule – a new millionaire tax. In the speech he said it was only fair for millionaires to pay the same rate as the middle class. Frankly, this is just election year dogma and President Obama clearly does not understand economics. Government cannot make life fair and prosperous at the same time. The real issue is government cannot make everyone successful like Warren Buffett; they can only make everyone equally poor by taking the fruits of their labor.

The beauty of America and it’s free market system is that anyone can become a Warren Buffett. Our history is full of stories documenting these examples and many more examples that are not documented. America is a country of success. It was built by men and women of vision that worked hard and sacrificed. When have these great successes come from government? What government program created the iPad or the Android?

President Obama talks of the government investing in our future. The question that needs to be asked is where does this investment come from? It can only come through taxation. Currently, the top 10% of income earners pay 70.5% of the income taxes. For government to make so called “investments,” it must first take the money from someone else. Isn’t there a word that is used when one person is forced to work for another person?

Furthermore, when income tax rates rise, economic growth slows as investors begin putting their money into tax-free or tax deferred investments. The biggest losers in this are not the large corporations, but the small businesses that need capital investment to grow. This is where President Obama misses the issue with the Buffett Rule. The end result will be a decrease in investments and ultimately less tax revenue then projected.

The foundational issue is not individuals paying their fair share; it is a bloated government that needs to learn to control spending. With a yearly deficit of over $1 trillion, spending needs to be cut drastically. Look at the policies of Andrew Mellen, Secretary of the Treasury (1921-1932). He pushed for lower taxes and a balance budget which resulted in the growth of the 1920’s.

America is not successful because of what government does, but America is successful in spite of what government does. The American Dream originates from the idea that the individual has the freedom to choose his or her own path.

Read the entire speech at the Palm Beach Post.

Posted in Politics, President Obama, Taxation | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments