All too often, the issues facing our country are discussed in purely political terms with partisan ideology at the center. This guarantees that opinions will be formed purely on emotion, and not the facts. If the issue is illegal immigration, Republicans hate Mexicans. If it’s education, Republicans hate children. If it’s welfare reform, Republicans hate poor people.

So on that note, let’s examine how Democrats fare under the same level of scrutiny, shall we?

Hating Mexicans

In America, we have immigration laws – like them or not. They are in place for a reason, mainly to ensure that we know who is coming here, and that we can accommodate the increase in local, state, and federal services their presence requires. Currently, we let roughly 1 million immigrants into America legally, almost 2,800 per day. Think about it: 2,800 people per day that need jobs, housing, food, education for themselves or their children, drivers licenses, social security cards, and many other necessities. Now add to that another 1 million who come in illegally, or overstay their visas. These are people we don’t know. They could be anyone from a hard-working farmer to an Al Qaeda terrorist – and anyone who tells you differently is wrong. If we don’t know who they are, then we don’t know how they aren’t. Now, while some people will say it’s racist to single out Mexicans in the illegal immigration discussion, let me explain why that is by showing you the country of origin of those living in the U.S. illegally, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

#1 – Mexico: 62%

#2 – El Salvador: 5%

#3 – Guatemala: 4%

#4 – Honduras: 3%

That’s quite a drop-off from #1 to #2, isn’t it? Also bear in mind that these 4 countries equate to 74% of our illegal immigration problem, and they all enter the U.S. through our border with Mexico. So it’s not racist to talk about our southern border, it’s REALITY.

So, don’t like the laws? Change them. But until then, the government’s job is to enforce them. And that’s what Republicans want. They want a secure border. They want legal immigration. They want those here illegally to be deported when caught, according to the law.

Now we can argue immigration reform all day, and I’m one Republican who thinks it is impossible to deport the 15-20 million people here illegally. However, until we actually pass immigration reform and discover a way to handle all of these issues, we have no choice but to enforce the laws.

But what about Democrats? Do they hate Mexicans too?

Many liberal Democrats argue against raiding businesses that hire illegals. Why? Because they will be deported, and working for $3 per hour in unsafe conditions is still better than Mexico.

Really?

If that’s the case, isn’t the problem Mexico? And if everyone with the motivation to work hard leaves Mexico, who will be left to fix it, other than the drug cartels?

So these liberals would rather have illegal immigrants working in unsafe conditions, unable to report accidents, earning slave wages – simply so they don’t have to return to their home country?

Appalling.

Slavery was wrong in the 19th century, and it’s wrong today. But you don’t hear anyone saying that liberals hate Mexicans, do you?

Hating Children

Education is a hot button issue that is frequently distorted into an ideological war of emotions, when in fact there is nothing emotional about it. Schools exist to educate. Period. And on that measure, they are failing.

Since 1970, our education system has flat-lined on achievement in reading and math. Despite that, we’ve increased funding exponentially with zero results. Zero. Absolutely no movement of the needle. So the answer is more money?

“Since 1971, educational spending in the United states has more than doubled, from $4,300 per student to more than $9,000 per student, adjusted for inflation.” – “Waiting for ‘Superman’”

So if money is the answer, why has money not been the answer? And does wanting the correct answer constitute hating children? Of course not. Does putting your own selfish agenda ahead of the success of our children, and our nation, constitute hating children? Judge for yourself.

Many of the obstacles to fixing our education system reside with those controlling it: Teachers’ unions.

Do not confuse teachers’ unions with other unions, or you will fall into the same trap of thinking with emotions. Unions were created to help workers negotiate for better pay and working conditions, against giants of industry who were profit-driven. Education is a non-profit endeavor, paid for by tax payers, and therefore there is no evil CEO to demonize.

There are many things that will help toward improving our education system, including the use of technology to lower the cost of educating our children as a whole, rewarding the best teachers while coaching or removing the underperformers, adequately preparing middle school children for high school, and high school children for college, and making school districts accountable to parents and tax payers.

Unfortunately, teachers’ unions do not want technology to lower the cost of education our children, because it will result in a need for less teachers – even though our school districts are wildly under-staffed as it is.

Teachers’ unions also do not want teachers to be treated differently, in any way. So rewarding great teachers, and firing bad ones, is completely off the table.

Furthermore, these unions resent standardized tests, as they do not believe the performance of students has any bearing on how qualified a teacher is. After all, they can’t make the kids learn.

In fact, according to “Waiting for ‘Superman’,” the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers (the two most organized unions) spent $55 million on federal campaigns over the past 20 years, and 90% of it went to Democrats. So, if teachers’ unions are in the way of improving education, and they donate almost entirely to Democrats, do Democrats hate children?

Let’s pretend you own your own business. Would you want to keep your good employees, and get rid of the bad ones? Would you want to reward your best people with incentives to perform well? Would you expect a return on your investment? Well none of that applies to education, mainly because of teachers’ unions.

Apparently, if you support school choice, merit pay for teachers, and accountability to parents and taxpayers, you hate children. But if you want to give those controlling our education system more money, after a 40-year track record of failure, well… you’re a kid’s best friend. (Read: nightmare)

Hating Poor People

Almost a full 50% of Americans pay no income tax. Now just to clarify, most do pay it in their paychecks, but they get it all back on their tax returns. And while they do contribute to Medicare and Social Security like all Americans do, this 50% of Americans are far more likely to need Medicare and Social Security than those who do pay income tax.

With that said, the answer to everything these days seems to be: “Tax the rich – or you hate poor people.” I guess it is perfectly okay to hate rich people. After all, rich people are the ones hiring the rest of us. But it’s not all rich people that are evil blood-sucking greed-mongers. What about actors? Hollywood is gluttonously wealthy, yet you don’t hear liberals screaming for them to hang, do you? Nobody blames the ills of society on Johnny Depp and Ben Stiller, do they? Yet from June 2009 – June 2010, they were the two highest paid actors in Hollywood, earning $75 million and $53 million respectively.

“But it’s different,” they’ll say, because people pay to go see Johnny Depp and Ben Stiller, which justifies their huge salaries. Of course that argument doesn’t seem to work for the rich guy who created Wal-Mart, an outlet in which millions of Americans pay to buy things – justifying his huge salary.

You see, it’s all about emotion. The guy who runs the business must be exploiting workers, while Johnny Depp makes people smile. Of course if Wal-Mart went out of business tomorrow, we’d see how many people would be smiling when all of their employees were out of a job, and the public could no longer buy a pair of jeans for $8 or an entertainment center for $69.

If you wanted to raise taxes on soda and bottled water, would that be good for poor people whose grocery bills would go up? Well, that’s what Democrats in New York and Nevada want to do.

Does it help or hurt poor people when gas is $4/gallon? Wouldn’t drilling for oil inside the U.S. help bring those prices down? Many Democrats are against drilling in America, even though they love beating up Republicans for going to war for oil in the Middle East. If we had more drilling here, Democrats would have one less thing to blame on Republicans – so obviously that’s out of the question.

Conclusion

There are many things to dislike in our country, and even some things to hate. There are a lot of things to love about American too, but most people take those for granted.

To think that Republicans hate Mexicans, children, and poor people, simply because of their political views is just plain ignorant.

I don’t think Democrats hate Mexicans, children, and poor people either. But they do hate Republicans – and that’s really what all their bitching is about.

The views expressed in this blog are the author’s, and do not necessarily represent the views of Right Pride or GOProud.

 

The events taking place in Wisconsin regarding collective bargaining agreements, there’s no better time to address the relationship between unions and businesses. When labor unions began in the late 19th Century, they were desperately needed to represent the interest of workers in America against the exploitative nature of industry. Over the years, these organizations helped institute minimum wage laws, child labor laws, 8-hour work days, vacation time, sick time, and more. These were well-intentioned measures, and most Americans are happy they exist today. But making sure workers have basic rights is not what labor unions are about today. They are about profit, greed, and political influence.

Today, most labor unions are very similar to the “evil corporations” they so frequently rail against. They claim big business doesn’t care about its workers, only profit. But are unions any different? They need members to pay dues, or they cease to exist. Clearly they are also profit-driven. They believe industry has too much influence compared with the working class. But unions have far more influence than their numbers would suggest, given that only 8% of Americans are in unions. And what do many of these labor organizations do with the hard-earned dollars they take from their members in the form of dues? They give them to politicians running for office – almost exclusively in the Democratic Party – whether their members support them or not.

The issue with unions today is a simple math problem. For years, unions have negotiated pretty good contracts for their workers. These contracts typically result in higher pay, better benefits, and more perks than non-union employees receive. As years go by, these contracts are renegotiated over and over again, raising wages and increasing benefits and perks each time. Then, when we have an economic crisis like the Great Recession (2008 – present), companies can no longer afford the expensive contracts they negotiated when profits were good. As the costs of these labor contracts rise, profits must rise along with them – or something needs to give. Either the union agrees to make concessions, or the business goes bankrupt.

This face-off is happening all over the country, including in Wisconsin. During the economic crisis, some unions have agreed to work with businesses to arrive at a mutually-agreeable solution to the problem of expensive contracts and low profits. But that is not always the case. Unions were willing to do very little in the case of Ford, GM and Chrysler, so the companies had no choice but to declare bankruptcy in order to restructure their organization and renegotiate labor contracts. Who are the labor unions helping if their own greed causes businesses to fail? It’s clearly not the workers, who end up out on their collective-bargaining asses when their company closes its doors.

We see this problem everywhere in America, and frankly it is out of control.

In government, collective bargaining agreements are paid by tax dollars. When federal, state and local government experiences drops in revenue due to high unemployment and a slow economy, unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) are unwilling to give up a dime. Governments are then forced to fix their budget issues while suffering under the strains of paying these high-priced contracts – which would never have been agreed to under the present conditions.

In business, the unions’ unwillingness to cooperate often results in businesses going bankrupt or closing altogether. This may be good for the individual unions who get to show off their “power,” but it’s bad for their members who have no jobs, and bad for America. If businesses go away, so do our hopes of putting Americans back to work. Industry should not be allowed to exploit workers, but unions should not be allowed to exploit industry either.

In education, unions may be the largest contributor to our failures. Without declaring financial exigency (think bankruptcy), universities cannot renegotiate their contracts with tenured professors. In K-12 education, unions demand more and more money be spent on education, yet they ensure that very little ever makes it into the classroom. Nevada is the perfect example of the problem with education, since it has the lowest graduation rates in the nation. The Clark County School District (CCSD), which covers Las Vegas and surrounding areas, is the 5th largest school district in the country. Only 11% of its operating budget makes it into the classroom, yet unions and education officials are screaming bloody murder over impending budget cuts. The University of Nevada – Las Vegas (UNLV), where I am currently a student, has $647 million in total operating funds for this year. Under budget cuts proposed by newly-elected Republican Governor Brian Sandoval, UNLV will see a cut of $47.5 million (or 7%). Unions and education officials, as well as Democrats in the state legislature, are twisting the numbers and telling Nevadans that the cut is 29%.

Americans won’t put up with this nonsense much longer.

They see what is happening in Wisconsin, and realizing that this is a battle between greedy unions and over-taxed taxpayers. They see teachers shutting down schools so they can protest, instead of educating their children by DOING THEIR JOB! Fire these teachers for abandoning their positions, and replace them with unemployed Wisconsinites who put education above greed.

Americans are starting to see the damage unions can do when they put greed ahead of their original purpose – protecting the basic rights of employees.

This is not an issue unions can win, unless they are willing to work with businesses and governments to achieve mutually-agreeable solutions. Bankrupting businesses and governments through unreasonable demands during this economic crisis won’t earn them any support from hard-working American taxpayers.

We will learn as these battles unfold exactly how much power unions will be allowed to have in America, and how the outcomes will affect their power in the future. We will also see how this will affect the Democratic Party, with which labor organizations are closely aligned.

With unemployment at 10% nationwide, there are plenty of Americans ready and willing to take the jobs of ANYONE who strikes. Perhaps it is time to call their bluff.

The views expressed in this blog are the author’s, and do not necessarily represent the views of Right Pride or GOProud.

 

New unemployment numbers are in, and the national rate held firm at 9.5% while the state with the worst rate broke its own record. Nevada, the hardest hit state in the nation when it comes to foreclosures and per capita bankruptcies, has led the nation in unemployment since it overtook Michigan in May. Unemployment in Nevada rose to 14.3% in July, while unemployment in Nevada’s largest city, Las Vegas, rose to 14.8%. July marks the 16th consecutive month Nevada’s unemployment rate has increased. Ignored in all of this is underemployment, which includes those who are working part-time due to a lack of full-time jobs, and is estimated at 18.4% nationally, and 21.5% in Nevada. Unemployment among teens is at 26.1%, while underemployment for African-Americans is estimated at 25% and unemployment for Black teens hit 40.6% in July.

In light of these facts, different people have different views on how to solve the problem. Democrats in Washington, along with President Obama, are committed to a strategy that includes stimulus packages and federal spending to boost the economy. Republicans in Washington disagree, and prefer options that include keeping taxes low and creating incentives for businesses to hire. These differences have turned into an ideological battle where Republicans call Democrats “socialists,” and “Marxists,” while Democrats call Republicans “obstructionists,” and “for the rich.” Name-calling may be an effective way to damage your opponent politically, but it doesn’t do much to educate Americans on the issues, or explain why there is such disagreement.

One of those points of disagreement is the extension of unemployment benefits. Every time Democrats try to pass bills to extend unemployment benefits, Republicans say “No.” And every time Republicans say “No,” they are labeled “insensitive,” “cold-hearted,” etc. So what’s wrong with Republicans? Why do they “hate the unemployed,” as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow claims?

Two things are important to consider here. First, Democrats passed H.R. 2920, the Pay-As-You-Go-Act of 2010 (PAYGO), in February. Under PAYGO, any new spending or tax cuts must be budget-neutral, or offset by cuts elsewhere (Read: New spending must be paid for before it is passed). Democrats in the House passed the unemployment extension without paying for it with an equivalent amount of cuts, ignoring their own statute, and blaming Republicans for wanting to follow it.

Second, many Americans currently receiving unemployment benefits today are doing so based on wages they were earning when the economy was much better. The result is that their unemployment earnings are often higher than jobs are currently paying. As an example, let’s say Mary was laid off in Nevada while making $700/week. She is currently receiving roughly $350 per week in unemployment benefits, just under the $362/week cap. Looking for work today, Mary may not accept a job unless it comes with a paycheck higher than her unemployment check. Currently in Nevada, minimum wage is $8.25/hr. for jobs that do not offer health insurance, and $7.25 for those that do. This means Mary needs to find a job that pays $8.75 in order to make more than unemployment pays her to stay home. That doesn’t factor in the cost to get to work, like gas for the car. Employers simply aren’t able to pay employees today the same wages as they did one or two years ago, and unemployed workers have no real incentive to take a job that doesn’t pay more than unemployment.

Now, when Democrats extend unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 99 weeks, which they have done, it enables people to remain on unemployment for close to two years. There’s no doubt that unemployment is needed, especially at a time when jobs are hard to find. However, I’ve seen many examples of people turning down jobs because they don’t pay as much as their unemployment benefits. To make matters worse, all you need to do to collect unemployment here in Nevada is visit a website weekly to file your claim. You have to answer some questions, but you never have to meet with anyone to prove you’re actually out looking for a job, let alone not turning them down. Nevada is practically bankrupt, and there’s virtually no accountability in the unemployment system.

So do Republicans “hate the unemployed,” as Rachel Maddow suggests? Or rather, do Republicans see the financial strain caused by indefinite unemployment benefits? Perhaps Republicans understand that revenues won’t return to state governments and profits won’t return to businesses until people start returning to work – and a 99-week safety net isn’t exactly motivation. Now unemployment is hardly a vacation. It’s demoralizing, and extremely challenging to make ends meet on such a meager income. However, there are jobs out there, and we need to make sure we are not rewarding people who pass them up to remain on unemployment. That part is not cold-hearted. It’s fiscally responsible.

Republicans are often hit hardest for favoring tax cuts and incentives for businesses. Democrats have convinced people that any benefits for businesses, small or large, only help rich people. However, the opposite is true. Small businesses in America represent 99.7% of all employers, and have generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs over the last decade. If these businesses are not hiring today, it is because they are afraid to spend the money, not knowing what the future holds. Every tax we add to the shoulders of job creators in this country will result in more lay-offs, less new jobs, and higher costs passed on to consumers, all at the worst possible time.

Perhaps the most frustrating part of the unemployment issue is how Democrats have politicized it. Let’s be clear: Democrats have a super-majority in the House of Representatives. They can pass ANYTHING they want, as the Republicans do not have the votes to stop them. That means if Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats wanted to pass Polish as the official language of America, they COULD! PERIOD! In fact, the only reasons Democrats CAN’T pass everything they want is that conservative Democrats who won in the 2008 Obama wave now represent traditionally Republican districts, and don’t want to lose in November. So let’s get off this narrative that Republicans are obstructionists. The truth is that Democrats prefer to have Republicans support their unpopular bills like Health Care Reform, Cap and Trade, and others, so they’re not alone in receiving heat from voters come November. If listening to the American people is considered obstructionism, we have a problem.

I talked to a voter today who told me the Republican Party was “The Party of ‘No’,” and that they oppose everything President Obama tries to do because he’s black. Earlier this week, the following statistics were featured in a National Republican Senatorial Committee ad:

-          57% think Democrat Agenda is “extreme.” (Rasmussen Poll, 8/11/10)

-          60% favor repeal of ObamaCare. (Rasmussen Poll, 8/16/10)

-          56% disapprove of Obama’s job performance. (Rasmussen Poll, 8/16/10)

-          61% favor Arizona-like law in their state. (Rasmussen Poll, 7/8/10)

-          68% oppose Ground Zero Mosque. (CNN Poll, 8/11/10)

-          65% angry at Federal Government policies. (Rasmussen Poll, 8/16/10)

-          65% say America is on the wrong track. (Rasmussen Poll, 8/11/10)

With these numbers, why shouldn’t Republicans be “The Party of ‘No’?” This clearly illustrates that President Obama and the Democrats currently controlling Washington are in direct opposition to the American people, regardless of skin color.

But it’s not this voter’s fault she feels that way. It’s what the media has been telling her for two years, every chance they get. It’s the standard attack from the Democrat Party. Whether it’s the Mosque at Ground Zero, unemployment benefit extensions, terrorism, immigration, gay marriage, health care, energy issues, education issues – if a Republican has an opinion on it, he or she is labeled a:

Choose One: [racist, homophobe, xenophobe, elitist, bigot, Islamophobe, fearmonger, hatemonger, warmonger]

…who hates…

Choose One: [Blacks, Hispanics, Gays, Muslims, the poor, children, women, the elderly, the middle-class]

Pay attention next time, and you’ll see it for yourself. The attack is always the same, and it is never based on the actual issue. That needs to change. We have to talk about the issues and work together to do what is best for our country. We need to educate voters on the issues, so Americans can make the right decisions based on accurate information. And we must start using logic, and not emotion, to determine the direction our country takes as we move forward.

As for unemployment, remember: The government has no money. The only money it has comes from taxpayers. When a private company creates a job it is paid for with profits. When the government creates one, it is paid for by YOU.

The views expressed in this blog are the author’s, and do not necessarily represent the views of Right Pride or GOProud.

 

The American tax system is broken. While strangling our economy, it divides our citizens into “us” and “them”. But what happened to “we”, as in “We the People”?

In today’s America, roughly half of Americans pay no federal income tax. Yet, even though half of our country pays the bills for everyone else, we all use the goods and services those tax dollars provide. Meanwhile federal spending skyrockets while the deficit explodes. If we have not reached a taxation tipping point yet, then surely that point is rapidly approaching.

Our society is quickly devolving into two classes: tax payers and tax consumers. Those who pay taxes have a strong personal interest in the decisions of what is done with their tax dollars. This is especially true where half of Americans are supporting the other half through social programs. Likewise, the tax-consuming half of our society has a deep vested interest in the success of the tax-providing half.

Why?

If the taxpaying half of our society is unsuccessful in generating personal wealth for themselves, they cannot afford to provide sufficient tax revenue to support the consumers on the other side. This sick codependent relationship between taxpayers and tax consumers has forged a deepening chasm between American “haves” and “have-nots”, simultaneously eradicating the Middle Class and waging rhetorical war between the remaining polarized factions.

Depending on which news source one reads and the year in question, roughly half of all Americans don’t pay taxes and/or actually receive subsidies from Washington. The Associated Press reported that in 2010, 47% of all workers paid no federal income tax for their 2009 earnings. They added that the bottom 40% made a net profit from our tax code. Families making even $50,000 often receive more in direct tax subsidies than they pay and enjoy a net income from government. More disturbing yet, those metrics are headed in the wrong direction with fewer workers shouldering a heavier burden with each passing year.

Clinton strategist Dick Morris writes in his book Catastrophe that there are really three classes of taxpayers in the United States (page 53):

1) The tax payers: The top 25 percent (above $65k), who pay 86 percent of federal income tax
2) The tax neutrals: The middle 25 percent, who pay the rest
3)The tax eaters: The bottom 50 percent, (less than $32k) who pay no income taxes and get refundable tax credits

“On the day [Obama] became president, 43 million American households – roughly a third of all households in the country – were paying no federal income taxes at all. In fact, most of those people got checks from the government.

But when Obama’s tax program is fully implemented, a majority of Americans will be exempt from paying any federal income taxes. And, instead of a tax bill most of them will get checks from Washington every year.” Catastrophe, pg. 47

This concept of providers versus consumers is ironically perhaps the worst threat of increasing the gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” because of the disparate interests of the two subsets. Where the two groups need each other and exploit each other for their own personal gain, the haves are much likelier to become even richer as they invest in our economy. Worse yet, the have-nots will be counting on the haves to increase their own personal wealth. If they fail to do so, who will pay for schools and roads and the military? While we pile more and more Americans onto the government dole, we must further dilute our scarce resources. Our WIC checks, free cheese, and rent subsidies will never be enough to lift Americans out of poverty. Instead, we subsidize poverty and ensure its existence in perpetuity. The rich must get richer by necessity, while the poor stay poor.

If we scrapped our current tax code and instead asked every American to shoulder some tax burden, everyone would feel a more palpable sense of ownership and investment in the outcomes of our government. Taxpayers are far more likely to care about what happens to roads and schools and power plants and the environment, and far more likely to wield their vote to voice their opinions on the matters. They are far less likely to stand for excessive spending or government waste than non-taxpayers simply because they share a vested interest in their own tax burden not increasing.

Every American should have a tax burden upon them if any American is to have a tax burden upon them. While every effort should be made to assure we do not place an undue burden upon the poor or the rich, an equitable (such as by percent of income or spending) burden is fundamental to the ownership principle that is the essence of our democracy.

While it is easy to suggest that our ever-expanding, ever-hungrier government can be financed by increasing the tax burden on the so-called rich, the reality is hardly that simple. That argument is based on the premise that: 1) the rich can afford to pay more, and 2) current tax law exempts them from paying their so-called “fair share”. Those arguments are at least a little untrue and unfair.

On top of the fact that upper income earners would naturally pay a proportionally high share of their income under an equitable system, the United States has had since the creation of our tax code a graduated system wherein upper earners pay a higher rate. Since the induction of our modern tax code, the so-called rich have paid not only their fair share but often the fair share of many others as well. Even with tax loopholes, shelters and deductions, upper income individuals shoulder the overwhelming majority of our tax burden in this country and have for some time. It is intellectually dishonest to suggest that they are not paying enough.

What is “rich”, anyway? If we are to accept as a given the idea that the wealthy should shoulder the burden of increased federal spending on behalf of the greater good, then we must define what it means to be wealthy and establish a threshold. President Obama, for example, has declared a legislative war on earners making over $250,000 annually. Indeed much of his legislative agenda has been introduced with the premise that it will be paid for primarily on the backs of those making over $250,000 per annum. In a nation whose average income is roughly $45,000 yearly, it is safe to say that an individual earning more than five times the average income is well above average. However, many earners enjoying incomes at these levels are actually small business operators that accept personal tax liability as part of their business status. This includes sole proprietors, LLCs and S Corporations.

Requiring small business people and individual investors to pay even higher taxes would be fundamentally an economy killer. Business owners would translate the loss of money into fewer employees and higher price of their goods or services. Individual investors would have less money to invest in their 401ks, stocks and bonds, Treasury bills, money markets, and even deposit accounts which are the backbone of many banks. Everyone suffers under this scenario. Instead of prosperity trickling down, misery trickles down in its place.

Tax consumers will invariably protect their own interests by supporting politicians that expand social programs and shift tax burdens onto “the other guy”. Taxpayers will, likewise, protect their own interests by supporting politicians that promise to cut spending and taxes. In a nation that is closely divided between these two groups, our razor-thin election margins have created an unsustainable status quo of skyrocketing public debt and fewer sugar daddies around to pay the tab.

The time has come for LBJ’s Great Society and FDR’s New Deal to find their places in the ash heap of history once and for all. Our budget woes make it incumbent upon us to make tough choices and prioritize the things that matter most to us. In addition to an elimination of our entitlement society, deep spending cuts must be coupled with a reshuffling of the way our citizens pay for their government. Facing this reality head on will literally save our country. Ignoring it to win elections will ensure our demise.

When all Americans have some skin in the game, we all step up to make government accountable. That is, after all, the very essence of the word “fair”.

Nick Stone is the editor of Drawnlines Politics. The views expressed in this blog are the author’s, and do not necessarily represent the views of Right Pride or GOProud.

 

A few days ago, liberal-blogger/America-blamer Bill Quigley over at  t r u t h o u t wrote an op-ed about the “Nine Myths About Socialism in the US.” After reading it I felt obligated to tackle each one, because I know nobody else will. I hope you’re able to see where the left is coming from after you read this.

Quigley begins by attacking Glenn Beck by name, as one of the “far-right multi-millionaires” that are claiming the U.S. is headed toward socialism. He even quotes Sen. Patrick Moynihan: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. But everyone is not entitled to their own facts.”

I couldn’t agree more. Let’s talk about some facts.

Myth No. 1: The US Government Is Involved in Class Warfare, Attacking the Rich to Lift Up the Poor.

“There is a class war going on all right. But it is the rich against the rest of us and the rich are winning. The gap between the rich and everyone else is wider in the US than any of the 30 other countries surveyed. In fact, the top 10 percent in the US have a higher annual income than any other country. And the poorest 10 percent in the US are below the average of the other OECD countries. The rich in the US have been rapidly leaving the middle class and poor behind since the 1980s.”

Is there class warfare in the U.S.? Or course there is. But let’s look at some real facts:

In 2007, the top 1 percent of tax returns paid 40.4 percent of all federal individual income taxes and earned 22.8 percent of adjusted gross income. Simply put: The richest 1% of Americans earned 22.8% of all the individual adjusted gross income in the country. They paid 40.4% of all federal individual income taxes. Does that sound fair to you?

I won’t defend truly greedy individuals, or corporations who exploit workers… but not every wealthy person is evil or greedy, and not every corporation. Furthermore, those “evil rich people” are the ones running businesses, producing goods and services, hiring people to sell or provide those goods and services and keeping our economy going.

Now, look at how liberals view the rich. When they want a new social program like health care reform, what do they do? Increase taxes on the rich. It’s their answer to everything. Why is that? Because it is popular to target the “evil rich people.” They make an easy target since they only represent a few percent of our population, and it sounds great in elections.

Myth No. 2: The US Already Has the Greatest Health Care System in the World.

“Infant mortality in the US is fourth worst among OECD countries – better only than Mexico, Turkey and the Slovak Republic.”

There it is! You can only go so far into a debate with a liberal before they mention the children. “Don’t you care about the children?!”

Fact: Infant mortality is defined as “death before one year of age.”

Fact: Most infant deaths in poor countries are attributed to easily treated infections – something our health care system handles beautifully.

What Quigley chooses not to mention here is WHY the United States has such a high infant mortality rate. Check out this 2006 report, which explains that the number of women using fertility treatments doubled from 1996 to 2002, and over half of those pregnancies are susceptible to premature birth. Premature birth happens to be the leading cause of infant mortality in the U.S.! Go figure. It turns out that messing with the natural biological process is the problem, NOT our horrible health care system. In fact, maybe our health care system is TOO GOOD, in offering these services in the first place. But don’t expect a liberal to agree to lower infant mortality in the U.S. by telling a woman not to go to a fertility clinic.

I won’t even get into the 1 million lives lost “before one year of age” due to abortion.

Myth No. 3: There Is Less Poverty in the US Than Anywhere.

“Child poverty in the US, at over 20 percent or one out of every five kids, is double the average of the 30 OECD countries.”

There is a lot wrong with this assertion. In 2007, forty percent of babies were born to single-mothers. FORTY PERCENT! Do we even have to wonder why child poverty is on the rise in America? Just look at who is having the children! In the same year, 28% of white women, 72% of black women and 51% of Latinas giving birth, did so as single-mothers. Liberals are all too fond of reminding us at how much poorer the black and Hispanic communities are when compared to whites. So, is it a surprise that child poverty is a problem when half of Hispanic children and almost three-quarters of black children are being born into one-income households (in many cases with no income or house)?

We have welfare, food stamps, WIC, Catholic Charities, Medicaid, SCHIP and many other support services to help these children and their parent(s). Should the blame really be placed on the U.S. government? When is someone going to tell people who can’t afford children, to keep their legs closed, or start practicing safe sex? These problems don’t create themselves, and liberals need to start realizing that we need to address the CAUSE, not the RESULT.

Myth No. 4: The US Is Generous in Its Treatment of Families With Children.

“The US ranks in the bottom half of countries in terms of financial benefits for families with children. Over half of the 30 OECD countries pay families with children cash benefits regardless of the income of the family. Some among those countries (e.g. Austria, France and Germany) pay additional benefits if the family is low income or one of the parents is unemployed.”

What is Quigley trying to point out here? We should give cash benefits to people who have children? Is he out of his mind?

Parents already have the ability to claim their children as dependents on their tax returns, which results in a deduction of $3,000 per child. Parents are also eligible to receive an additional $1,000 credit per child. That’s $4,000 per year, per child (provided the credit does not amount to more than the total income earned). So a family of four would be eligible for an $8,000 deduction/credit on their tax return. That’s not a “financial benefit for families with children?”

We’re also supposed to praise countries like Austria, France and Germany for paying additional benefits if the family is low income or one of the parents is unemployed. Do we not have unemployment in this country? Do we not have other social programs to help low income families? Did I not just mention welfare, food stamps, WIC, Medicaid and SCHIP?

Why do liberals think it is the government’s job to pay for your children?

Myth No. 5: The US Is Very Supportive of Its Workers.

“The US gives no paid leave for working mothers having children. Every single one of the other 30 OECD countries has some form of paid leave. The US ranks dead last in this. Over two-thirds of the countries give some form of paid paternity leave. The US also gives no paid leave for fathers.

“In fact, it is only workers in the US who have no guaranteed days of paid leave at all. Korea is the next lowest to the US and it has a minimum of eight paid annual days of leave. Most of the other 30 countries require a minimum of 20 days of annual paid leave for their workers.”

The U.S. gives no paid leave for working mothers having children? What is short-term disability? I believe it is paid leave. This is a flat-out lie. Mothers on maternity leave get 12 weeks un-paid leave, but are able to get paid through short-term disability. As for fathers, they can take time off via the Family Medical Leave Act and supplement that time with sick days and vacation time – also resulting in paid leave.

At the risk of sounding like a heartless bastard, why is it the government’s job to pay you for having a child? You decide to have a child, and then you expect your company or the government to pay you to miss work? And for how long? One year? Five years? I just don’t see how the responsibility falls on the employer or government. This isn’t cancer treatment. It’s not a bypass surgery. It’s a personal choice, not a set of unfortunate circumstances.

In other news, the 4th Quarter 2009 numbers for Youth Unemployment (15-24 year olds) shows the U.S. at 19%, lower than the UK (19.8%), Italy (25.1%), France (25.1%), Ireland (29.1%), the Slovak Republic (31.9%) and Spain (43%). The best way to support a worker is to give him/her a JOB! How’s that working out for you, Europe?

Myth No. 6: Poor People Have More Chance of Becoming Rich in the US Than Anywhere Else.

“Social mobility (how children move up or down the economic ladder in comparison with their parents) in earnings, wages and education tends to be easier in Australia, Canada and Nordic countries like Denmark, Norway and Finland, than in the US. That means more of the rich stay rich and more of the poor stay poor here in the US.”

Ah yes, the poor people! I love this particular argument, because it is so off-base. Here are some facts about America’s “poor,” as defined by the Census Bureau, and taken from various government reports thanks to the Heritage Foundation. Remember, these are statistics for what our government considers “poor households,” from 2007.

43% own their own homes.

74% own a car/truck; 31% own two or more cars/trucks.

80% have air conditioning.

64% own a clothes washer; 57% have a clothes dryer.

37% own a dishwasher.

89% own a microwave.

97% own a color TV; 55% own two or more color TVs; 25% own a large screen TV (2007).

63% have cable or satellite television.

78% own a VCR or DVD player; 25% own two or more VCRs/DVD players.

59% own a stereo.

32.5% own a landline and mobile phone*; 36% own a personal computer.

*It’s worth mentioning that as of 2010, all individuals that qualify for state or federal welfare – food stamps, Medicaid, etc. – and have an income at or below 135% of the poverty level, are eligible to receive a free cell phone, with a limited number of monthly minutes.

Also…

Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded; two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.

The typical poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)

So before we start crying over the poor in America, let’s try to identify who is “actually poor” and who is simply “not rich.” There are people in America who are actually poor. People who own their home, a car, and have cable TV are NOT POOR. The poverty line exists somewhere below “Xbox Ownership” For some reason, “poverty” in America has been equated with “not being able to fly to Hawaii once a year.” It’s incredible to see what passes as “poor” in a country that has seen its share of REAL poverty over the years.

Myth No. 7: The US Spends Generously on Public Education.

“In terms of spending for public education, the US is just about average among the 30 countries of the OECD. Educational achievement of US children, however, is seventh worst in the OECD. On public spending for childcare and early education, the US is in the bottom third.”

I have long held the belief that the problem with our education system has nothing to do with money. I’ll explain.

In constant 2006-07 dollars, the U.S. spent $2,670 per pupil in the 1961-62 school year and $9,391 in 2005-06. These are in CONSTANT DOLLARS! That means we’ve almost quadrupled our funding per pupil over 35 years, with NO results to show for it. In fact, our education system was far better in the 1960s than it is today. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that most of the money today goes to bloated salaries for cushy administrative positions throughout the U.S. In Nevada’s Clark County School District (CCSD), there is one administrative position for every three teachers, and eight students. So if our problems are money-based, it’s because the money is going to the wrong people, and the wrong places. In fact, CCSD teacher salary caps out at $70k/year, whereas support staff caps out at $111k/year after 10 years of employment. If you believe teachers should get paid more, as I do, this is where the money should be coming from. In fact, 87% of the CCSD operating budget goes to employee compensation and benefits. So don’t tell me that we need to spend MORE money on education. We just have to spend it correctly.

Now, what about our place in the world?

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (which Quigley references) issues an annual review of industrialized nations. According to one report, the U.S. spent $10,240 per student from elementary school through college in 2000. The average among more than 25 foreign nations was only $6,361. I’m sorry, is that “just about average,” as Quigley asserts? I think not!

Countries like Turkey, Mexico, the Slovak Republic and Poland are at the bottom of the list, spending less than $3,000 per student, while Denmark, Norway, Austria and Switzerland are at the top with more than $8,000 in per student spending. America spends the most by far, yet its students rank in the middle of the pack in test scores. Go figure.

Myth No. 8: The US Government Is Redistributing Income From the Rich to the Poor.

“There is little redistribution of income by government in the US in part because spending on social benefits like unemployment and family benefits is so low. Of the 30 countries in the OECD, only in Korea is the impact of governmental spending lower.”

If you go by the exact report Quigley is referring to, the U.S. ranks above Turkey, Mexico, Korea and Portugal in percent of GDP spent on social programs. This report only counts money spent on programs like unemployment, health care, family benefits, housing and “other social policy areas.” What it does NOT count, is how our government earns its money.

In 2007, the top 1% of tax returns paid over 40% of all federal income taxes. As I said earlier, this 1% of wage-earners earned 22.8% of the adjusted gross income (AGI) in the U.S. In 2004, the top 1% earned 19% of AGI and paid 36.9% of federal income taxes. Which means the richest Americans earned more in ’07 than ’04, but paid more of the federal tax burden in ’07 than in ’04.  In fact 10% of that 1% (.01% of wage-earners = 141,000 tax returns) pays 20% of the federal tax burden. Someone should send them a thank you note.

In contrast, the bottom 50% of wage-earners in America earned 12% of AGI in 2007, but paid only 2.89% of the federal tax burden.

You still think there’s no redistribution of wealth in America? The fact of the matter is, if you are in the bottom 50% of wage earners, you contribute almost NOTHING to the tax burden in this country! The top 10% cover 71% of the burden; The top 25% cover 87% of the burden; The top 50% cover 97% of the burden. So… when we’re computing redistribution of income, let’s not forget how the government rapes the productive in this country, in order to support the unproductive.

And when people like Quigley start saying that the rich keep making more money, and the poor keep making less – he’s right. In 1980, the top 50% of wage-earners had 82.32% of the AGI, while the bottom 50% had 17.68%. In 2007 those numbers were 87.74% and 12.26%. So over the last 27 years the AGI of the top 50% went up 4 points, while it went down 4 points for the bottom 50%. Hardly a staggering shift. BUT… keep in mind the overwhelming number of social programs that now allow more people to make less money COMFORTABLY, compared with 1980! No wonder the bottom 50% are earning slightly less today – they are at far less risk of losing everything thanks to our ever-enlarging government.

Myth No. 9: The US Generously Gives Foreign Aid to Countries Across the World.

The US gives the smallest percentage of aid of any of the developed countries in the OECD. In 2007, the US was tied for last with Greece. In 2008, we were tied for last with Japan.

Despite the opinions of right-wing folks, the facts say the US is not on the path toward socialism.

But if socialism means the US would go down the path of being more generous with our babies, our children, our working families, our pregnant mothers and our sisters and brothers across the world, I think we could all appreciate it.

This is a complete lie. The United States is the largest donor of foreign aid in the world. The reason the OECD report shows the U.S. as ranking lower, is that it does not include private donations. Of the $122.8 billion of foreign aid provided by Americans in 2005, 79% came from private foundations, corporations, voluntary organizations, universities, religious organizations and individuals, according to the annual Index of Global Philanthropy.

“U.S. foundations gave more – in money, time, goods and expertise – than 11 of the 22 developed country governments each gave in 2005. U.S. private voluntary organizations totaled more than the governments of Japan, the UK, Germany and France each.”

So, the better fact to point out is that Americans give more money in foreign aid BY CHOICE than any government on Earth does by FORCE.

——————–

What’s the moral of this story? The first is that Bill Quigley has a warped perception of both socialism, and his own country. He lives by the “Blame America First” doctrine. He has spent the majority of 2010 blaming America for the earthquake in Haiti. Last year he sided with ACORN in its battle to receive federal funds after violating voter registration laws in 11 states. While he touts himself as a “human rights attorney,” it is clear he – like most liberals – only care about the rights of certain people. The rest of us are part of the problem, because we work, make money and spend it as we see fit. That’s simply not acceptable to people like Bill Quigley.

Well Bill Quigley, I love my country. I love it because it is a freedom-loving, capitalistic, Democratic Republic. If you want socialism so bad, go live in a socialist country. Those countries include: China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam…

… oh wait.

Now I see why you live here.

*The views expressed in this blog are the author’s, and do not necessarily represent the views of Right Pride or GOProud.

 

In the interest of full disclosure I am not a fan of Barack Obama. I didn’t think he was qualified to be the Democratic nominee, and I still don’t believe he is qualified to be president. While I don’t ever want an American president to “fail,” I would’ve preferred to not be put in the position to have to rail against the bulk of his agenda – which is bad for our country in many ways. I was one of those people who felt America would regret electing him, despite the historic circumstances surrounding his victory. Sadly it appears I was right. Only 43% of Americans say they would vote to re-elect him today, and he loses head-to-head against potential 2012 candidate Mike Huckabee in a recent poll. In fact, self-identifying Independent voters – who usually make or break presidential elections – favor newly-elected senator Scott Brown over Obama by 12 points in a hypothetical 2012 match-up! His approval rating plummeted from his high of 69% when he entered office to 47% in December, an all-time low for a first-year president.

After a year of the most dismal presidency since Jimmy Carter, and perhaps ever, it’s hard to understand how so many of his supporters are still standing firmly behind him. A friend directed me to this quote this morning, and I found it very appropriate:

“The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the presidency. It will be easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president. The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails us. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince. The republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.” – Reuters.com user

However, 2012 is a long way away. Odds are most Americans will be more caught up in the Mayan Doomsday philosophy than the presidential election. Short attention spans are as prevalent in our society as Apple iProducts, as we move from one distraction to the next often failing to remember what seemed so important days or weeks ago. It seems the things we forget the most are those intricate details that define issues and events that affect us the most.

As I wait for Barack Obama’s historic first State of the Union address, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight what his supporters claim are his major accomplishments. After all, when Obama lists his “successes” tonight, they are unlikely to come with a disclaimer. Enjoy:

Obama instructed his cabinet to cut $100 million.

This amounted to 1/37,000 of his budget plans. That’s like saving 68 cents on a $25,000 car, or having your boss cut your $50,000/year salary by $1.35. Way to go Mr. President!

Obama began the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Of course the date was agreed to by the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government, but I guess Obama only blames Bush for the bad stuff.

Obama respected the Freedom of Information Act.

Unless it pertains to actual information: The Obama Administration honored just 42 of 245 requests for information by Judicial Watch under FOIA, prompting some to call his administration “more secretive than Bush’s ever was.”

Obama said “lobbyists won’t find a job in my White House.”

Even CBS News says Obama and his administration have met “early and often” with lobbyists since entering the White House a year ago. Furthermore, 11% of his senior officials, as of May 2009, had lobbied within the past 5 years.

Obama removed restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research.

However, a few days later he signed a law preventing federal funds going to “research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death.”

Obama pledged to close GITMO within one year.

Well, it’s been one year and five days and GITMO is still open. In fact, his proposal to close the detainment facility includes relocating prisoners to Illinois, aka GITMO North. What’s the difference between an open detainment facility in Cuba and one in Illinois, you ask? Ask the people of Illinois.

Obama saved the U.S. Auto industry.

After spending millions of tax payer funds on GM and Chrysler to stave off bankruptcy, both companies filed for bankruptcy anyway, here and here. Chrysler had no new models on display at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, yet plans to air a $2.5 million Superbowl ad after receiving a $15 billion taxpayer bailout. Meanwhile Ford, which opted to not receive bailout funds, is on the mend.

Obama helped those with bad mortgages.

ABC News: “On September 9, 2009, the Treasury Department announced that the program had helped 360,165 homeowners reduce their mortgage payments. However, that is only 16 more homes than received new foreclosure filings during the month of July, according to RealtyTrac.” In addition, the plan did not lower principal, even for homeowners who owe more than their house is currently worth.

Obama passed a $787 billion economic stimulus plan.

Widely accepted as a failure, there is still $522b unspent as reports now come in that the stimulus plan will cost taxpayers an additional $75 billion. The Obama administration claimed that unemployment would rise above 8% if they did not pass the bill, yet unemployment has been around 10% for some time now. Furthermore, even Obama had to abandon his “jobs saved or created” spin, when the reality became too much to ignore. There are no jobs.

Obama put an end to earmarks.

Well, there were only 9,000 in the stimulus bill, so that’s progress, right?

Obama saved the banks.

All of the tax payer money funneled into the banks has done nothing to increase lending. It has only served to fix the books at these banks. Even former Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich gives the Obama bank bailouts an “F” grade.

Obama went after huge bonuses.

No, Obama went after huge bonuses at banks and AIG. The ones given out by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were “too high,” according to Rep. Barney Frank, but were ignored.

Obama ended U.S. torture policy.

Tying the hands of intelligence officials has made us less safe – bottom line. Because of Obama’s weak policy on terror suspects, the Christmas Day bomber was not even interrogated. He spent 50 minutes with the FBI and no time with the CIA prior to being Mirandized. In fact, the High-Value Interrogation Group, a unit of terror specialists Obama said he would create to deal with terror suspects captured abroad, wasn’t brought in – and still isn’t fully operational.

Obama improved our image abroad.

Really? There are people out there that believe this? Here’s a quick rundown of how miserable Obama’s foreign policy has been: First Interview Fail, Great Britain Fail, France Fail, China Fail, Japan Fail, North Korea Fail, Middle-East Fail, Iran Fail, World Tour Fail, Engaging the Muslim World Fail, Afghanistan Fail, Honduras Fail, Missile Defense/Eastern Europe Fail, Russia Fail, Copenhagen Fail, Copenhagen Fail II, And thanks to the Washington Times:

“Other embarrassing Obama moments on the world stage include: giving England’s Queen Elizabeth II an iPod with his own speeches on it; giving British Prime Minister Gordon Brown a collection of DVDs that were not formatted to the European standard (by contrast, Mr. Brown gave Mr. Obama an ornamental desk-pen holder made from the oak timbers of Victorian anti-slaver HMS Gannet, among other historically significant gifts); calling “Austrian” a language; bowing to the Saudi king; bowing to the Japanese emperor; releasing a photo of a conference call with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which the president was showing the soles of his shoes to the camera (an Arab insult); saying “let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel’s”; saying the United States was “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world”; suggesting Arabic translators be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan where Arabic is not a native language; sending a letter to former French President Jacques Chirac when Nicolas Sarkozy was the president of France; holding a town-hall meeting in France and not calling on a single French citizen; referring to “Cinco de Cuatro” in front of the Mexican ambassador when he meant Cinco de Mayo; and failing in a last minute personal appeal to the International Olympic Committee to hold the 2016 Olympics in Chicago. Mr. Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize capped the year by drawing attention to his lack of achievement.”

Obama implemented consumer credits for hybrids and the Cash for Clunkers program.

The hybrid credit resulted in free golf carts for all! Yep, it’s true! And the Cash for Clunkers program was an unadulterated failure.

Obama ended no-bid contracts.

Oops, not so fast! A $25,000,000 contract to a big donor to the Obama campaign and DNC just went out last week.

Obama appointed the first Latina to the Supreme Court.

A controversial “Latina” who said, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” Also, 60% of her cases which later reached the Supreme Court were overturned. Sounds great!

Obama limited salaries of senior White House aides to $100,000.

That’s great, except that the number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession.

Obama pledged to unite the country, and change the way Washington works.

That’s funny, because he is the most polarizing first-year president ever. And of course let us not forget about the bribes, secret deals, and special treatment for friends.

Obama pledged transparency.

Apparently, pledges are meant to be broken.

Obama focused on domestic policy.

Oh, right. Here you go: Health Care Fail, Cap & Trade Fail, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Fail, Defense of Marriage Act Fail, Jobs Fail, and Security Fail.

Watch the State of the Union address or don’t, it hardly matters. Obama has proven that he doesn’t say what he means – nor means what he says. I don’t expect anyone to remember any of this for the 2010 elections, let alone those in 2012. However, these things matter. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, liberal, moderate or conservative – these things matter. We elect (hire) these people to do a job, and when they don’t, we should hold them accountable – regardless of our ideologies. When people like Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid pretend to represent the best interests of the American people, we need to replace them with people who actually deliver. It’s as simple as that.

*The views expressed in this blog are the author’s, and do not necessarily represent the views of Right Pride or GOProud.