Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A week before the election

I'm going to have to predict a McCain win next Tuesday. Be ready for riots in the street and destruction of public property. I find such irony in this election season. The marxist links that Obama has been denying for months become so apparent now that people are choosing sides in the culture/class civil war. That's all part of the Marxist teaching. The Marx connection is important when discussing socialism and capitalism and communism, because Marx made some key observations and offers instruction on how a society moves from capitalism to communism. That move REQUIRES a class war. The gap between the rich and poor must be grave, and a middle class that's comfortable makes it hard to sell socialism, let alone communism.

I want to preface this be saying that I'm not rich or poor, black or white. I'm a grandmother who was herself a first generation immigrant. My grandchildren are representative of the best of multi-cultural infusion, and this blog is for them. I don't want there to be conflict among the cultures and classes in our great country. There will be poor always, Christ teaches us that. There will be rich always, life teaches us that. But there will only be a middle class if capitalism and democracy are healthy and protected ideologies. Do the poor need help with basic betcha! Should those who have more give help to those who have betcha! Should a government or a society mandate to bring about "economic justice or equality"?

Think for a minute... justice and equality sound like GOOD THINGS. Economic justice... what does that look like? Equal pay for equal work...okay, I can buy some of that. Should it be 'mandated'? Hmmm... how. An employees value to an employer isn't always objective. If we were working an assembly line and were paid by the piece...I suppose you could argue and mandate equal pay for equal work. Other kinds of jobs and industries include lots of other variables and other factors come into play. Is there some prejudice that should be overcome regarding women, youth, age, race? Sure there is... but this is an age old struggle and the best way to overcome that kind of prejudice is for women, youth, seniors and minorities to start their own businesses and lead the way in becoming the best place to work. Let the culprits be defeated by their own greed and prejudice, with enough campaigning to show the world how and why you do things differently!!! Success is great revenge.

Economic Equality is a completely different creature. What does that mean? Tito the Builder said it best this morning in an interview with Fox News when asked if he wouldn't benefit more from Obama's liberal tax plan than McCains. With a heavy latino accent he said..."I don't want crumbs, I want the opportunity to succeed the same as any other American" Now that's what I call Economic Equality at it's best. Only in America can an immigrant or child of an immigrant start their own business, make their own success, build on their own talents!!!!

I've written before about my father's love of America, but I didn't mention what he didn't like about the socialism in the Netherlands. (In that respect, colonial Indonesia was much more similar to America than the Netherlands). My father was a new graduate of Bandung's Technical School. It's kind of like a vocational college for engineers and the like. I don't know if it's equal to our university education or if it's like a deVry, but it had(s) a great reputation, still. He then spent some formative years as an engineer and then army engineer and then POW. After the war he worked for the Dutch railroad in Indonesia. He transferred to Amsterdam and worked for 'Werkspoor' (railroad) there also. His ability to be a young maverick engineer with great ideas and equal opportunities was thwarted by the realities of socialism. Only senior fellows could work on certain projects. Raises and promotions were based on tenure not accomplishment and innovation. What does that sound like to you? Our school system, the world of Academia, that produces these socialist tendencies is set up very similar. If you don't have the right degrees, or haven't put your time in following their path, you can't have a voice in planning. Degrees are worn like ranks and nothing good or innovative could possibly come from students or parents...who often don't have those degrees.

My father summed it up in one sentence. "In America you are free to succeed or fail and if you fail, you can get up and try it again". Many of my fathers contemporaries who immigrated when we did, couldn't do that. Many took jobs and passed their tenure and retired, or went back to the Netherlands for their social system. 5 years after arriving in the US my father owned a house, a car and we were celebrating American citizenship. 10 years after arriving, we owned a 2nd house, several cars and two businesses. Did my father succeed? He succeeded and failed and succeeded again. He died in 1977, just 20 years after immigrating here. I know he worried about our education and the affect of affluence on youth. There were times that I know he may have regretted his decision. But what he accomplished in those 21 years, I'll remember with pride.

What would he think of this election?
Young Arrogant professor and lawyer who teaches and preaches but has no accomplishments under his belt vs Mature humble war hero, pilot and business man who preaches free market and lower taxes. Hmmmm... this is not a hard choice.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What happened to a healthy dose of cynicism?

There is nothing new about rhetoric during presidential campaigns but where is the cynicism that's so natural in young people? When I was a kid in the 60's it seemed natural for young people to be cynical about their leaders. Nothing like anarchy, although that was prevalent in young people too, but just a healthy dose of cynicism. When a democrat says they will reduce taxes for 95% of the viewers, don't you immediately want to do the math? 95% of all viewers, really?

It was later restated to claim that "95 percent of families with children would get a tax break," the Media Research Center's Brent Baker ran the numbers and found such claims "impossible," so it was again refined to mean working families, which is still "impossible".

That 95 percent is impossible since one-third of those who file with the IRS are "non-payers," people who end up paying no tax or get money back which exceeds their payments. Obama plans to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and create other credits. For those for whom the credits surpass their tax obligation, those are not tax cuts, but spending hikes or federal giveaways akin to welfare.

You can check the new tax proposal analysis at I think we don't teach isms much anymore, but if you are only going to study a few I think you should start with cynicism and add these on as you get a chance.

capitalism: An economic and political system characterized by a free market for goods and services and private control of production and consumption.

socialism: Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.

marxism: The economic and political theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels that hold that human actions and institutions are economically determined and that class struggle is needed to create historical change and that capitalism will ultimately be superseded by communism.

communism: A form of socialism that abolishes private ownership.
1. A theoretical economic system characterized by the collective ownership of property and by the organization of labor for the common advantage of all members.
2. Communism
1. A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people.
2. The Marxist-Leninist version of Communist doctrine that advocates the overthrow of capitalism by the revolution of the proletariat.

If you still aren't sure which is best for America, read your history books and then go to the library or hit the internet and start talking to people in socialist countries. You probably won't be able to talk to folks under marxist or communist rule, so don't get sappy on the commune thing. It only sounds good on paper. History has proven them wrong.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Great American Experiment

My parents were raised in country that their ancestors settled in the late 1790s. A couple of Dutch brothers, one a physician, sailed to Indonesia to become a governor and statesmen of a new Dutch Colony. I suppose they could have sailed to the Americas for the same amount of money, but they dreamed of their fortune and opportunity in Indonesia, as your ancestors dreamed of their own land and new freedoms as they were settling here in the Americas. A hundred years later a statesmen here was tested and responded to the Civil War that, “We are now testing whether this nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.” I'll let you guess on that one.

Well, another 150 years and are we again testing whether this nation can endure?. Our enemies say no. Our lifestyle is our demise. Too much freedom, idleness and wickedness and we too will fall. It's only a matter of time.

My parent's country, their heritage, their lifestyle fell in their lifetime. Just after the war, an uprising sent all the Dutch packing. Never mind that the lifestyle of the Indonesians had been created by Colonial powers, both English and Dutch. Never mind that generations of families who happened to still have Christian faith and Dutch surnames were ousted from their homes and businesses, often separating families who couldn't read the political climate around them.

As you know, we emigrated to America then, just as Indonesia was demanding their independence from the Netherlands. I would explain it as similar to the American Indians reclaiming America for themselves and ousting all Europeans who didn't share their religion or naming conventions. I'm sure the Cherokee nation could get an audience with the United Nations and maybe get their country back. Maybe the experiment is over, if socialism or marxism takes over America, then we will have failed our test. I'd prefer giving it back to the Indians. What say you?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Economics 101

According to Webster, E`co*nom"ics\, n. 1. The science of household affairs, or of domestic management. Keep this in mind the next time you hear newscasters and politicians discussing our ‘National Economy’. Let’s face it, we, as a nation, as a culture have been busted. We are a selfish, give it to me now, society that is now lost between entitlements and easy credit. Well, if you’re like me you already know the answer to our problems! I think it’s showing at the retail stores, the gas pumps and in the stock market.

It’s funny how no one wants you to change your ways. They want to keep giving you incentives, ‘stimulus checks’ and advice on how to not change your habits….to keep on spending and keep on charging, but congratulations, you already know the answer.

Our economy in the hands of the people who have benefited from trading securities based on our credit and spending habits is messed up and in my opinion, should fail. Like Joe the Plumber, when you hear something that’s not quite right, something that goes against the core of your beliefs, you ought to just pass. Well, we need to take a step back and do an inventory of our core beliefs right now. Let Americans be American, let the free market be a free market and we’ll be just fine.

My rebellious streak wants the government and banks to feel the pain though, along with the rest of us, so I’m going to continue the message of LESS CREDIT, LESS SPENDING, MORE WORK, MORE SAVING. I think it will drive em nuts. I’m going to rent til prices drop, keep my old car running, become a coupon diva and stop buying retail. I may even stop buying new…I think that could work on many levels. My new mantra…how little can we live on.

For some visionaries, and my parents and grandparents, this isn’t new of course. This is what we were taught, what they lived, and what we’ve somehow forgotten. Well it’s time to get real with ourselves and our own economies. Take a look at what debt free guru Dave Ramsey says on how NOT to buy a car, then join me in the junkycarclub, I’ll honk if I see your sticker!



Saturday, October 18, 2008

We can trust Joe's core instincts

Well, the Media Machine has attempted to attack the man most likely to help McCain win the election. Obama let it slip, while answering a plumber's question, that he wanted to 'spread the wealth'. He did so on Bill O'Reilly also, but it didn't get the media attention that poor Joe is getting. Remember the O'Reilly quip where he used the analogy of the waitress and being 'neighborly'! What NObama fails to get is, the wealthy in America do just fine paying more on our indexed tax system, and with charitable giving. We don't need the government to level the playing field.

Now when NObama talks about INCREASING THE MIDDLE CLASS we know he means by taking a few extra thousand from Joe and giving it to the waitress. AAAAARGGGGGHHHHHH! Why do people not react like JOE. It goes against the core of our American value system of rewards for hard work. If you work as a waitress for minimum wage and tips you get a wage that you may or may not be able to live on, tips that they tax whether you received them or not and Joe works 10 and 12 hour days as an independent for a small plumbing firm and hopes to provide MORE for his family. If he gets his plumbing license and successfully takes over his firm, or starts his own plumbing company with a couple of like minded buddies... will he be penalized just to help the waitress keep up? By the way, I hate that tax on tips...that's just un American too. A tip is a tip. And I hate minimum wage...that's like SSI, a slap in the face. There would be a lot more jobs out there for nominal tasks if the government stopped trying to intervene with the free market system.

The Audacity of Entitlement

The Obama book title should have been a red flag.

Au*dac"i*ty\, n. 1. Daring spirit, resolution, or confidence; venturesomeness.

2. Reckless daring; presumptuous impudence; -- implying a contempt of law or moral restraints.

I think it is part naivety and part apathy that draws poll respondents to Obama. The ignorance of some and the apathy of others is irritating at best, but I can only pray that the apathetic just remain apathetic and home, and the ignorant become arrogant in their victory and stay away from the polls. I can’t bring myself to believe that this is the undoing of America. I saw some clues during Katrina and the rants and fists of those victims. Yes it was a tragedy, yes we as Americans should pour out our hearts and jump in, but the audacity of raising your fist to America and demanding our president, our people, our country to do something. What a difference from the floods in Iowa or the Tsunami in Indonesia. How can there be ‘fist raising’ after a natural disaster, or worse, in New Orleans, the failure of the local government to spend the money to shore up the levees. Fist Raising shows their audacity!

I was embarrassed for President Bush and everyone down the chain of command as they fell over themselves to get aid to the area. They admitted guilt in their actions rather than demand an investigation into the levees and the local money trail that put the town at risk. The clouds hadn’t even retreated and the government is passing out ATM cards to anyone that asked. It’s really quite amazing. I was trying to think of the Americans that impressed me as a child, and I can’t imagine they would ever have stood in line for those cards, let alone raise a fist at the government.

Our American sponsor families weren’t overly fond of the government either, but they wanted less of government, not handouts, and they surely wouldn’t have blamed the ‘government’ for their misfortune. Where does that mentality come from? It’s not a black thing, or a southern thing and it’s not a poor thing. This is an entitlement thing, an audacious thing! That’s ‘audacity’ at its worst isn’t it? Raising your fist and shouting that help didn’t arrive fast enough. I didn’t see the good people of the Midwest or Galveston raising their fists when they were flooded out. I didn’t see the earthquake or tsunami survivors raising fists at the government after their tragedies? What makes Katrina victims different…audacity!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Civil Union vs Marriage for secular folks

I believe, as stated in the Christian Courier, that the Biblical teaching regarding marriage is unequivocal. Jehovah created man, and from his side – in earth’s initial surgical procedure – fashioned his wife. The two were designed to “cleave” to one another (Gen. 2:21-25). In a discussion with the Pharisees, Jesus cited this Old Testament evidence, and declared: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mt. 19:6).

Here is a crucial point. If it is the case that marriage was designed and inaugurated by the Creator, then he has the authority to set the rules. Men and women do not have the right to treat this sacred human relationship in a cavalier, self-directed manner.

I differ with the secular belief that everyone has a right to marry, even in homosexual relationships. If they truly want the same legal rights, then a civil union, legal and binding, is all they would need. Why infringe upon a Judeo-Christian concept. Marriage between one man and one woman is what God intended. It doesn't matter that polygamy was a practice in early unions, that was tolerated, but not part of the plan. There are inherent problems with the practice and we as Christians should stand up for our rights to keep our religious practices separate. It doesn't matter that the world wants to distort the meaning of the union to mean something fluffy and sweet and legal. They have all the legal recourse they need to form a civil union.

Monday, October 6, 2008

What's up with our economy? or should I say down?

What is economics

According to Webster, E`co*nom"ics\, n. 1. The science of household affairs, or of domestic management.

I was a little surprised by the definition, considering all of the news lately, so let’s put this into perspective. The Economy that’s in the news today isn’t so far removed from this simple definition, however they are talking about the National Economy, Political Economy and World Economies all being tied together. So, how are the household affairs or domestic management of our nation doing?

I’d like to take you back to the early days of our National household, the days following the American Revolution. As a result of the revolution, the federal government had acquired a huge debt: $54 million including interest. The states owed another $25 million. Paper money issued under the Continental Congresses and Articles of Confederation was worthless. Foreign credit was unavailable. By demonstrating Americans' willingness to repay their debts, he made the United States attractive to foreign investors. European investment capital poured into the new nation in large amounts.

I don’t want you to miss the KEY sentence here, because I believe this is KEY to what happened in our bailout last week. Our National Economy is mostly based on Capitalism with oversight to prevent blatant greed and fraud. I believe in Capitalism, a free market – with oversight. Capitalism’s strength understands that money motivates and the purpose of oversight understands that money also corrupts. With men of integrity at the helm then Capitalism – a free market system – with oversight works very well. Our National Economic system failed last week, not because the concept doesn’t work, or because we needed more regulation… it failed for one reason only. Our legislators on the hill failed to provide prudent oversight, because they had been corrupted by the very industries they were charged to regulate. Pay attention to the end, because I’m going to name names…

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) carries the oversight responsibilities for the housing mission of the government sponsored enterprises or GSEs. Effective January 1, 2005, HUD established new and increasing affordable housing goal levels for the GSEs for the years 2005 through 2008. These goals require that a certain percentage of the mortgages purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac support financing for housing low – and moderate – income families. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight or OFHEO published the following mission: OFHEO's mission is to promote housing and a strong national housing finance system by ensuring the safety and soundness of Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation).

The goals themselves were not even at fault. It was the failure of oversight and fundamental economic integrity that caused the crisis.
OFHEO's oversight responsibilities include:
• Conducting broad based examinations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
• Developing a risk-based capital standard, using a "stress test" that simulates stressful interest rate and credit risk scenarios
• Making quarterly findings of capital adequacy based on minimum capital standards and a risk-based standard
• Prohibiting excessive executive compensation
• Issuing regulations concerning capital and enforcement standards
• Taking necessary enforcement actions
I’ve been racking my brain to understand how my president, as fiscally conservative as George W Bush is, personally, could agree to this kind of a bailout, until I understood the foundation of our INTERNATIONAL Economy. “. By demonstrating Americans' willingness to repay their debts. The world had invested in America’s reputation for honor and integrity and their willingness to repay their debts…that is the reputation and the crisis that had to be defended. It was a matter of National Security and International Integrity.

So, how are we doing?
I happen to be among the generation that has never had to struggle too much financially. I’ve had my ups and downs, but most of it was of my own making. I’ve had my health and a fairly stable economy around me that I could find a way to stay in the middle. I’ve never had to be the kind of steward that could make or break a household. Consequently, I don’t have the kind of honor and respect for money that my parents had. I’ve been lackadaisical at my best and downright irresponsible at my worst.

It’s not like I don’t know how to stretch a dollar, I can make it pretty elastic, but I’ve never had to for any length of time. I learned it from my mother, but was glad I didn’t have to practice it very often. The 80’s were a bit tough under President Carter and even with Reagan’s election, our household went through job changes and gas prices, utilities and inflation had us pretty strained. It was relative to the affluent lifestyle we had become accustomed to, not to our basic needs not being met. I can honestly say, other than those few years of being an immigrant child in the 50’s, and maybe again as a newlywed, not understanding economics, I’ve never really known poverty, and I’ve never thought to ask the government for assistance.

The beginning of the article defined economics as “the science of household affairs, or of domestic management”, so in all honesty, I’d have to say I am personally failing. Perhaps my neighbors could be polled, house by house, family by family to see how economically prudent they are. I’m going to guess that they each carry a fair share of debt. Many are upside down in their biggest investment, their house and carry auto, home and consumer loans. What each of us has to ask themselves is, “Am I practicing economic prudence and responsibility or am I living outside of my means?”

We know what the government is doing, living trillions of dollars in debt. It’s that debt that made our president consider this bailout. Fighting fire with fire? I think that only works for fires. I don’t see how adding debt can fix your economy unless some of those bill collectors are threatening what? Their friendship, their support, their alliances? Have you ever borrowed from Peter to pay Paul?

I heard a newscaster say that our economy is built on credit, and when credit freezes up, then our economy comes to a screeching halt. Friends, I believe our economy is coming to a screeching halt. We can’t use the governments’ plan of more debt to combat this. Our states and some municipalities will certainly try. We are already seeing the lines forming at the US Treasury for their bailouts. California is at the top of the list requesting 7 billion to meet payroll for October. Seems we were more attentive to our Uncle Sam then we were to our parents.

I know what I personally have to do, assuming I can keep my job and my company can stay in business. I can’t utilize credit without a AAA credit ranking or a FICO score over 750, and if that’s you, then don’t expect the same great interest rates of the past. It doesn’t matter what the wholesale or prime rates are….. that will not trickle down to you and me. Then it was greed, now it’s survival that will set the new rates. What I can do is take a look at my budget. What can be trimmed? What are the needs in my life that need to be protected and what can I live without?

• Tighter credit terms
• Higher interest rates
• Unstable employment
• Higher utilities (gas, water, elec)
• Higher transportation costs
• Higher Food prices
• Less buying power

The only difference between a recession and a depression is that your bank deposits are guaranteed by the Federal Deposit and Insurance Corporation, or FDIC. If you want take all of your money out of the bank, then you have a right to do that…but when a lot of people do it at the same time, it’s called a “run on the bank”, and considering the bank exists on margins, that bank will run out of money before they pay back all of the depositors. Remember “It’s a Wonderful Life” when George and his neighbors worked out the run by convincing clients that it wouldn’t really help them if they took all of his honeymoon money. Today, if that happens, the FDIC steps in, seizes the banks assets and continues business on behalf of the depositors, or sells the assets and operation to a willing buyer. Remember how Mr. Potter kept the money he knew belonged to George Bailey’s uncle (stole), and waited for the bank to fail?

The FDIC can not and will not run out of money. Why am I so sure? Because, like all federal trust funds, the FDIC's insurance "trust fund" does not exist. The fund is simply an accounting entry with the US Treasury. There is no separate fund. The reserves shown in the fund simply represent the amount of money contributed by the banking industry into the fund. The cash raised by FDIC insurance premiums goes into the Treasury's general fund. When the agency needs cash, then the Treasury makes the money available. When the positive balance shown in the FDIC insurance fund is depleted, the FDIC simply runs a negative balance with the Treasury, kind of an automatic overdraft protection.

So, we may not see the Great Depression of the past, assuming we let the FDIC continue to authorize money out of air, but what we can be sure of, is the value of the dollar is being diluted with the printing of more and more dollars, so each dollar you have will buy you less and less. Whenever I say that, I think of a verse in a song I heard as a kid, “ …a piece of bread could buy a bag of gold, I wish we’d all been ready.”

I wish I had been more ready, not for what that song implies, but to face economic REALITY. We all need to be more prudent. Let’s not change the meaning of the word economic, which Webster also defines as:
E`co*nom"ic a. 3. Managing with frugality; guarding against waste or unnecessary expense; careful and frugal in management and in expenditure; -- said of character or habits.

If our economy is based on credit, as the newscaster reported, then we have a chance to change that, one person, one family, one household at a time. We can rely on our family, friends and neighbors, and make sure that credibility and integrity and our willingness to repay our debts is what determines our credit line, not an arbitrary rating or FICO score. We can carpool and co-op; barter and trade for goods and services until we have our savings accounts back on track. We can ignore the traditional credit markets and have the merriest of Christmases this year; And, we can promise ourselves and our children and our children’s children, that never, never, never again…will we be put in this situation. Not by crooks and swindlers in congress or the banking industry, they played on our own weaknesses after all. We let them swindle us. Easy credit was not a temptation for the generation that had lived through the first great depression. It was not a temptation for those who had their P’s and Q’s in order and in perspective. We can call for REFORM, not more regulation; we can call for the heads of the corrupt politicians who had their hand in the till; we can call for more free market and less public entitlements; we can DEMAND more from the men and women we send to congress.