Sunday, March 30, 2014

But It Sounds Good: Democrat Economic Rhetoric And America’s Critical Thinking Deficit

by Austin Hill 
How can the United States of America jump-start job creation? Obviously there’s nobody better to answer that question than a politician who’s been on the U.S. government payroll for nearly half a century and has never owned or operated a business – Vice President Joe Biden.
“There’s no reason in the world why an American working 40 hours a week has to live in poverty” Biden stated as he began his stint filling-in for President Obama with the recent “President’s Weekly Address” to the nation. “Right now a worker earning the federal minimum wage makes about $14,500 a year.  And you all know that's incredibly hard for an individual to live on, let alone raise a family on” he stated.
Biden was – again- promoting the Democrat party’s 2014 midterm election theme of raising the federal minimum wage requirement.  “If we raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, that same worker will be making $20,200 a year—and with existing tax credits would earn enough to bring that family or a family of four out of poverty” he claimed
The Obama-Biden legislative agenda is going nowhere in Congress, at least not right now. Consequently, it’s easy to dismiss Biden’s rhetoric as nothing more than that – mere words to push a political agenda and not much more.
Yet America’s existing fiscal and economic policy has over the past several years been driven by this same kind of “mere rhetoric.”  Biden may lack President Obama’s charisma when pleading the case for a policy initiative, but our nation’s current economic crisis has been caused in no small part by an electorate that heard the President’s charming words about more plentiful, less expensive healthcare, and believed him.
So before you dismiss the rhetoric about the magic of minimum wage laws, try some critical analysis of what the Vice President said, and consider the veracity of his claims. To start, consider this line:  “there’s no reason in the world why an American working 40 hours a week has to live in poverty.”
On the surface it’s difficult to disagree with that statement, but consider its implications. For one, it begs the question “what is poverty anway?” (I’ll get to that in a moment).

Additionally, it presupposes that one is entitled to something on the order of “middle class” status simply because one puts in 40 hours a week working at some job. That is, this statement of Biden’s ignores the fact that peoples’ contributions to the economy vary according to their capacities, their skills, and the expectations placed upon them– and with these variables comes a variance in the wage one earns.
 
This harsh reality implies that, yes, one can work really hard – even 40 hours a week – and still not earn enough money to live at the comfort level they desire.  But Americans have been facing this dilemma in a variety of ways since the earliest days of our nation’s founding.
Even today there are Americans who are choosing to work more than 40 hours a week, working multiple jobs, and making sacrifices to increase their education and skill levels as a means of surviving the Obama economy, rather than following the Democrat party’s ways of “protesting,” “organizing,” “demonstrating,”  “demanding,” and “signing up” (for taxpayer-funded benefits). Such independence doesn’t serve the interests of any politician who prefers to be a nanny rather than a statesman, but it is nonetheless the type of initiative and resolve that sustains an economy, and a civil society.
And what of this issue of “poverty?”  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) has its own complex and circuitous mathematical formula for defining who lives “below the poverty line,” a formula that varies on a region-by-region basis. But this we know to be mostly true nationwide:  our federal government, along with the departments of health and welfare among the states, to one degree or another regard a person without a mobile telephone to be living “in poverty.”
 
In recent years it has garnered attention as the “Obamaphone” program, but in fact the federal telephone subsidy program has a history that dates back over half a century. Today, when one goes to their state department of health and welfare to sign up for the federal Food Stamps or Medicaid programs (both are federal programs administered by state health and welfare systems), most states automatically enroll that individual in the “free phone” program as well (why would anybody aspire to a higher wage – for that matter, why would anybody want to work – if phones, food and healthcare are available “for free?”).
Will Americans continue to empower politicians who implement policies based on feel-good yet illogical rhetoric?  Free people throughout the industrialized world – places like Canada, New Zealand, India, Australia, Germany, France and the U.K. – have begun voting-in governments that encourage work and wealth creation, rather than offering hand-outs and driving up debt.
Americans can make this choice – or we can continue voting for our nation’s demise. November’s election should give an indication of whether or not we, the people, are seeing beyond the empty rhetoric.


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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Which Way, USA? America At A Crossroads With Economic And Energy Policy


 by Austin Hill
 Will Americans continue allowing a radicalized environmental agenda to animate Washington, one that prohibits the utilization of natural resources – oil in particular – and that squelches the nation’s economy? Or could it be that, at such a time as this, rationality might take-hold in the USA yet again?
As if our own problems aren’t a sufficient reason to bolster the U.S. energy industry, the world is now upended by a Russia that appears intent on re-creating another Soviet Union while simultaneously forming an energy axis with China. If America could supply more of the world’s natural gas and oil supplies, it would mean more wealth flowing in to the U.S., more American employment, and greater stabilization for the Western world, even at a time when the NATO nations appear to be in a leadership vacuum without steady leadership from the U.S. 
 Instead, eco-warriors on the left are poring big money in to political advertisements bashing congressional Republicans who support the Keystone pipeline project with Canada, and some are even threatening to abandon the Democrat party if President Obama doesn’t abandon the pipeline project altogether.
The real needs of human beings – needs for employment, expanding opportunity, and a stable economy – take a backseat to the “one true religion” of green energy.  Yet as the American left continues to worship at the same altar and the American president tries not to offend them, other nations of the free and industrialized world are actually trying to improve their economies and get out of debt.   
 Consider Canada and its Prime Minster Stephen Harper. First elected in 2006, Harper has over the past eight years championed free trade, federal government spending reductions, and  - a dramatic boost in oil production. Today the Canadian government is on track to be debt-free in 2015, as Harper tirelessly lobbies the U.S. to become more cooperative with pipeline projects and energy exploration.
Then consider the country of Australia and it’s new Prime Minister Tony Abbott. It wasn’t sufficient that in 2013 Australia was already a global leader in iron ore and timber production and that its’ government was set to close out the calendar year debt-free – no, the citizenry of the land “down under” wanted an even more business-friendly and fiscally sound government for themselves, so they elected a candidate for Prime Mister who repeated from the campaign trail that the global climate change agenda is “absolute crap.”
Shortly before his election victory Abbott was asked in a nationwide television interview “with our government debt so low, why do you want to cut government spending even further?”
“Because there’s still waste in our government, that’s why” Abbott replied. After his September 7, 2013 landslide win he set a date of July 1, 2014 by which he intends to eliminate his nation’s “carbon tax.”
And despite that fact that American eco-zealots ignore this, it is nonetheless a fact that the European nations are abandoning their “green” status. In January the European commission, the legislative body of the union that sets policies shared among the member nations, voted to officially abandon specific sets of “climate change protocols.” Even more stunning, the commission appears to be preparing to allow fracking among the member nations, with the hope of making Europe a leader in the global natural gas and oil shale markets.

America may continue to embrace the economic hostility of Obama, Biden, and the radicalized Democrat party.  But the rest of the industrialized world is moving in the exact opposite direction of our President and Vice President, away from the Obama traditions of dangerous government debt and economy-killing environmental zealotry. 

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Canadian News Anchor Gives Warning To American Gun Owners



]


Can't happen here:

That is what they said in England!
 (Now you go to prison if you so much as scare a criminal with a TOY gun)

  That  is what they said in Australia!
(Australia is almost as bad as England)

 You have just seen what happened in Canada!

Does anyone really need to tell you what happened in Germany? 

The truth is that every gun registration has led to confiscation! 

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

This Just In: Low Information Voters Serve Up A Bad Economy


By Austin Hill
 If you’ve ever wondered how the United States got in to its current mess of a stagnant economy and out-of-control government, I have a suggestion. Take a good look at what a handful of voters in one of America’s finer suburbs did to themselves and the rest of their community, and realize that it is a microcosm for what’s happening all across the country.
 

The city in question is Seatac, a small suburb in the state of Washington (it’s name is derived from the larger neighboring cities of Seattle and Tacoma).  Last year a group of activists there were frustrated with the preponderance of low paying entry-level service industry jobs, so they did what seemed only logical:  they collected enough signatures on petitions to launch a  ballot initiative that, if passed, would require a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour.

The city was soon flooded with cute campaign signs. Featuring the silhouetted image of a young child tossing a toy glider in to the air as the glider pointed upwards, the slogan read, “vote ‘YES’ for proposition 1 and watch our economy take off!”

Unionized workers at the Seattle Tacoma (frequently abbreviated “SEA-TAC”) International Airport and at nearby hotels and restaurants took to the streets urging passage of the initiative. And while the margin of victory was so slim that the election results weren’t certified until three weeks after Election Day, on November 26th proposition 1 was declared the law of land.

The Huffington Post called it “historic.” CNN Money said business owners had been “stung.”  The true believers in big government declared it a harbinger of things to come, and celebrated the new wealth that would be theirs once the new wage requirement took hold on January 1 of 2014.

]But then suddenly the rule of law got in the way of the liberal progressive agenda.  A court challenge quickly ensued and a county judge determined that, for a couple of very good reasons, the new minimum wage requirement wouldn’t apply to many of the workers who  had campaigned for it.

For one, the employees at SEA-TAC airport wouldn’t see a wage increase because SEA-TAC airport is owned and operated by the city of Seattle. While the city of Seatac is adjacent to Seattle – and the name of the city of “Seatac” and the abbreviated name of the “SEA-TAC” airport are pronounced the same, the laws of the city of Seatac don’t have jurisdiction in the city of Seattle – so the passage of proposition 1 had no impact on the wages paid to Seattle city employees.

Secondly, the judge ruled that even within the city of Seatac the new minimum wage requirement wouldn’t apply to unionized workers.  When members of a labor union agree to a labor contract with their employer, the terms of the contract are legally binding for both the workers and the employer.  The government, so the judge ruled, has no right to arbitrarily impose a law that would change the terms of the contract that private parties (the workers and the employer) had already put in place.  Thus unionized hotel and restaurant workers would continue to earn their less-than-$15.00 per hour wage for the duration of their union contract, despite all their tireless efforts to turn out the vote. 

The frustration didn’t begin and end with unionized workers and airport staffers. Many non-unionized workers in the city of Seatac were disappointed to learn that the new law only applied to businesses of certain staffing sizes – smaller companies with few employees didn’t have to comply. Even so, small business owners in Seatac are still feeling the pain of workers resigning to take higher-paying jobs with bigger companies.

]Interestingly, a tiny portion of the city’s population created the chaos that has engulfed all of Seatac. With a citywide population of 27, 667, less than fifty percent of the residents – 12, 108 – are registered voters.  Among them, only 6, 003 people actually cared enough to vote, and Proposition 1 passed with only a 77 vote margin.

In an era where members of Congress vote on unread bills and the President signs them in to law, it stands to reason that workers, union leaders and private residents could pass a ballot initiative without understanding the most basic things about the initiative’s limitations, implications and jurisdictions.  We live at a time when Americans are far more interested in sports scores and reports of Justin Bieber’s latest arrest, than they are interested in the inner-workings of their government and the economy, or even the history of their own country.

Such foolishness causes uncertainty for businesses, and uncertainty kills jobs.  Until Americans care enough to start reading the fine print again, conditions aren’t likely to get much better.
  

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

"Obama Administration Is Raiding Medicare To Pay For Obamacare".

Citing proposed cuts in "Medicare Advantage" plans, Florida Gov. Rick Scott says the Obama administration is raiding Medicare to pay for Obamacare.

Scott was in Washington over the weekend for a National Governors Association meeting and met with President Barack Obama. In a press release Monday, Scott said he had asked Obama "to fix Obamacare immediately."

"We learned last week that Medicare is being raided to pay for Obamacare, which is hurting our seniors, who could lose access to the doctors they liked and were told they could keep," Scott said. "We need to give our seniors a voice and ask the president directly to not pay for Obamacare by raiding Medicare. He has stopped and delayed other broken parts of the healthcare law. He should do the same with this," the release said.

Appearing Tuesday on Fox News Channel's "Your World With Neil Cavuto," the Republican governor said he's seen 300,000 Floridians lose health plans they were promised they could keep, and now senior citizens, a significant part of the state's population, are telling him they can't find a doctor who accepts Medicare.

"It's totally different from what our citizens were promised," Scott said.

Cavuto noted that several of Scott's fellow governors said during the weekend conference that Obamacare isn't going to be repealed, so it is up to them to find ways to make it work.

"Well, it should happen," Scott replied. "This president's not going to do it, but somebody's got to fix this."


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Monday, February 24, 2014

“Epic Fail:” America’s Boomers and Gen-Xers Leave A Legacy Of Foolishness

by Austin Hill
“Completing this form is a critical start to completing your education,” noted First Lady Michelle Obama. It was a Wednesday in February, and she had traveled from the confines of the White House to a nearby Virginia high school to lecture students on applying for “free” federal financial aid for college.


“You don’t have to be the valedictorian” Mrs. Obama continued. “You don’t have to major in a certain subject. You don’t even have to be at the very bottom of the income ladder to receive the money. It’s the single most important thing you can do for your future.”

Determining the “single most important thing” for a young person’s future is a task that might otherwise make parents, teachers and counselors pause and contemplate. But for the wife of our current President the answer is obvious: get your government handout before you do anything else.

Sadly, the generation that is being told to “just sign up” by both the President and his wife is a generation that will feel the pain of America’s decline, likely worse than any other.  And both present-day high school and college students, along with recent college graduates, are already feeling the pain of at least a few decades of flawed policies that have emanated from both government and academia


Consider these harsh realities: 

America’s “information-based, knowledge-based economy” has reached its limits:  For at least the last twenty-five years or so the U.S. has been on a pathway of not manufacturing much, not exporting much, and not utilizing its own natural resources. In the early days of the digital technology revolution this approach to constructing our economy worked pretty well – our technological components may have been built in China, Vietnam or India, but the blue prints, the “intellectual capital” that laid the ground work for it all, came from “educated” Americans.

But as technology has matured, the demand for new “blueprints” (and for those who create them) has substantially slowed-down. Now suddenly in the second decade of the 21st century knowing how to operate a lathe or a drill press is once again a valuable bit of knowledge, and the jobs that aren’t being created for our lack of using oil, timber and mineral resources are painfully apparent. 

The global economy has changed, but academia hasn’t adequately adapted: From K-12 to the post-secondary level, the world of American education perpetuates itself with phrases and clich├ęs: “Be cool, stay in school.” “Education is the key.” “A college education gives a young person $1 million to $2 million more in lifetime earnings. 

That all sounds wonderful.  But tell these things to a 25 year old with a bachelor’s degree, $40,000 in student loan debt and no job, and ask how good that makes them feel.

Nobody wants to see an increase in “drop outs.” But there are grave fiscal and social costs awaiting our country for having produced a generation of Americans who are well educated, yet can’t find a productive place in our economy.  Like Mrs. Obama’s vacuous “you don’t have to major in a certain subject” rhetoric, far too many American educational institutions have failed to concern themselves adequately with determining which courses of study can prepare a student to contribute to the economy - and which of them will not. A degree in petroleum engineering makes one more employable than a degree in gender studies – but admitting this is taboo in contemporary academia.

What if American high schools produced graduates who were both college-ready and equipped with a marketable skill?  What if high schoolers had to master HTML as a foreign-language requirement? America would be in a much better place if these and other practical ideas were our reality. 

The rest of the industrialized world is leaving America behind: As America drapes itself in lofty dreams of “green energy” and climate change taxes, the other industrialized nations of the world are running in the opposite direction from the U.S. Australia is set to lead the world this year with timber and iron ore production, while Canada and New Zealand are expanding their nations’ oil output.  Even the nations of the European Union have abandoned most of their so-called “climate change regulations” so as to enable more manufacturing and natural resource development.

As a result, these nations are getting out of debt and creating new prosperity. Australia finished 2013 by eliminating their national debt. Canada is on-track for zero government debt by 2015. And Europe, while riddled in debt, is finally correcting course with fiscal and environmental policies – something the U.S. doesn’t seem prepared to do.

If today’s unemployed American youth can find their way individually while at the same time demanding more rational policies from government, business, and academia, they just might save themselves, and our country, in the process. 

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Yes, It’s A “Major Issue:” The Industrialized World Is Abandoning The U.S.


By Austin Hill 
Vice President Joe Biden announced two days ago that the American people agree with the Democrat party “on every major issue.”   Whether or not this is true remains to be seen, but this we can know with certainty:  on issues of economics, enterprise, and environmental policy, the other industrialized nations of the world have been moving in the exact opposite direction of President Barack Obama and the U.S. federal government for at least the past two years. 

As the President pushes for a $1 billion “climate resilience fund” to save America from global warming – and as he presides over more than $17 trillion in government debt with no plan to either boost economic output nor cut government spending – free people on at least three different continents have elected governments that are behaving more like Reagan and Bush than either Obama or Biden.  One of the most obvious examples of this is just a bit further northward, but right here in North America. 

Consider Stephen Harper, the Prime Minster of Canada. First elected in 2006 on a campaign pledge to, among other things, foster close ties to President George W Bush and America’s efforts to fight terrorism, Harper has over the past eight years championed free trade, federal government spending reductions, and a significant boost in oil production.  Today the Canadian government is on track to be debt-free in 2015, as Harper tirelessly lobbies the U.S. to become more cooperative with oil pipeline projects and energy exploration. 

Then there’s Alison Redford, the Premier of the Province of Alberta (a provincial premier is a counterpart to the Governor of a U.S. state). Redford agreed to serve on a panel with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss oil energy production and “climate change” at last month’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and the panel discussion quickly turned in to a debate between the two. 

After the event both Al Gore and the Huffington Post were convinced that Al Gore’s presentation had been brilliant. Yet European media marveled at Redford’s willingness to call-out Gore’s “erroneous” assertions about petroleum-based energy and her “new way of looking at things” pertaining to economic growth. 

Then consider the country of Australia and it’s new Prime Minister Tony Abbott.  It wasn’t sufficient that in 2013 Australia was already a global leader in iron ore and timber production and that’s its’ government was set to close out the calendar year debt-free – no, the citizenry of the land “down under” wanted an even more business-friendly and fiscally sound government for themselves, so they elected a candidate for Prime Mister who repeated from the campaign trail that the global climate change agenda is “absolute crap.” 

Shortly before his election win Abbott was asked in a nationwide television interview “with our government debt so low, why do you want to cut government spending even further?” 

Because there’s still waste in our government, that’s why” Abbott replied.  Shortly after his September 7, 2013 landslide victory he set a date of July 1, 2014 by which he intends to eliminate his nation’s “carbon tax".,

And – gasp! – could it be that the European nations are abandoning their “green” status?  It would appear that way.  Last month the European commission, the legislative body of the union that sets policies shared among the member nations, voted to officially abandon specific sets of “climate change protocols.”  Even more stunning, the commission appears to be preparing to allow fracking among the member nations, with the hope of making Europe a leader in the global natural gas and oil shale markets. 

America may very well still be with Obama, Biden and the Democrat party on “every major issue.”  But the rest of the industrialized world is moving in the exact opposite direction of our President and Vice President, away from the Obama traditions of dangerous government debt and economy-killing environmental zealotry. 


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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Three Facts About The Super Bowl That Could Transform Our Economy


by Austin Hill
 Are you ready for some football?

Super Bowl Sunday is, obviously, a day for fun, food and friends.  But as you enjoy the football game, consider the deeper meaning of it all – and how our economic fortunes could improve if we seriously changed our outlook.  Consider these important “truths” about the game, and how they can apply after the game. 


1)      By the end of the game one team will be declared the winner, one team will be declared the loser, and only one individual player will be declared “MVP” - These facts are so obvious and common place that we don’t really think much about them. Yet allowing for natural and healthy competition to determine the score is completely counter to how most Americans (as well as the politicians they elect) think about labor, the possession of wealth, and the health of the economy.

Instead of allowing the best performers to enjoy the spoils of their labor (as we do with athletic competitions), with economic matters many Americans think in terms of “shared prosperity” (you have too much wealth and the government should take more of it away!), “shared responsibility” (the rich people should pay for my food stamps, Medicaid, mortgage relief, etc..),  and “leveling the playing field” (I can’t have get enough success if you are enjoying too much of it).  It’s not an accident that Americans continually elect politicians who promise to make our lives easier by minimizing the success of others. If we accepted other people’s success in the economy the way we accept it on the football field, we might just find that other people’s success actually creates jobs and benefits everybody. 


2)      Every member of each team will be required to play by the same rules – the NFL goes out of its way to eliminate human error when it comes to officiating. The referees are well-trained professionals who are expected to enforce the rules in equal measure with all the players from both teams – and when applying the rules is uncertain, digital instant replay technology is deployed to make that the “law” is applied appropriately.

But when it comes to real-life things like jobs, opportunity, wages and wealth, Americans don’t necessarily like the “everyone plays by the same rules” approach.  We prefer government policy makers who hold some of us to the letter of the law, but give others of us special breaks.  A tax deduction for me, a tax hike for you. Special grants and opportunities according to our gender, ethnicity and marital status.  “Free” subsidies for so-called “green energy” companies, but harsh taxes and penalties for oil companies.  That’s apparently the way we like it.  Yet we might just find that if we chose a government that held us all to the same requirements, the “high scoring” players among us might create more opportunity for all of us, and us “lower scoring” players might be incentivized to improve our game.


3)      Inequality” runs rampant in the NFL – and it’s not a bad thing - By its nature the game of football treats quarterbacks differently from punters and place kickers, and we think nothing of it. Quarterbacks negotiate for the highest compensation possible with an NFL team, yet many punters and kickers are lucky to play for the base minimum salary guaranteed by their union.


  Yet when it comes to economic matters outside of professional sports it is often presumed to be unfair that the CEO of a company earns a multi-million dollar salary, while entry-level employees of the company earn a government mandated minimum wage.  We accept the fact that the value that football players bring to their team may vary according to their talents, skills and position, but in our workplace everybody is somehow supposed to be treated “equally.” 

If we stopped demonizing the high achievers among us (and quit electing politicians who demonize them as well), we’d likely learn that other people’s achievements can create opportunity and prosperity for all of us. 

Will America return to being that “shining city on the hill” where achievement is respected, both on and off the field? 


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