3 Responses to Barry Soetoro Live!

  • I’m sorry!

    I watched three consecutive hours of “Big Bang Theory” episodes. They also were fictions and reruns.

    At least I don’t cry while watching TV physicist farce.

  • Too tired … saw the Capitol Bldg. on Mon. afternoon which fell between two nights riding on a bus, but there were tears this am during the conversion of St. Paul and Jesus sending the eleven readings at church. Wish our deficit spending were as cute as the one in the picture.

  • To be fair, each POTUS since Mr Reagan, and the several Congresses then and now are to take their share of blame for the current mess. One would hope that adding debt for the heck of it, borrowing to pretend, and relying on Keynesian economics will be buried in the same deep hole once the nation digs itself out of the debt. This cartoon is an example of the old cinema days when they showed a humourous short film after a deadly serious longer one.

4 Responses to Laugh For the Day

Would Repealing ObamaCare Break the Budget

Wednesday, January 12, AD 2011

One of the priorities of the new Republican majority in the House is to repeal ObamaCare — though this would in effect be a purely sympolic move since a repeal would have no chance of passing the Senate, much less surviving an Obama veto. Nonetheless, pundits are having their say over the matter, and one of the odder arguments being advanced is that repealing ObamaCare would result in increasing the budget deficit. This has allowed Democrats to accuse Republicans of not only wanting sick people to go without treatment, but of wanting to spend more money than it would cost to insure them. How exactly does this math work?

As Ruth Marcus points out in the Washington Post, there’s a lot of funny math going into the CBO projection that repealing ObamaCare would increase the deficit.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that the health care law, if implemented as promised, would save $230 billion over the next decade. There are two important words in that sentence: projects and if.

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3 Responses to Would Repealing ObamaCare Break the Budget

  • The repeal bill should keep the cuts in place.

  • Repeal is also about reducing government control over our individual persons and finances.

    I read about a report that pegged repeal SAVINGS at $540 billion. Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.

    “Educated economists”???? More like comprehesively ignorant, clueless professors out of touch with reality and infallibly ignorant of how things work in the real world.

    Of course, paying for health care for 30,000,000 documented and undocumented dem voters will cost we the taxpayer a ton . . .

  • http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704415104576065723458609678.html?KEYWORDS=cbo+health+care+deficit+paul+ryan

    WSJ editorial: “ObamaCare’s Reality Deficit”

    I quote, “The accounting gimmicks are legion, but we’ll pick out a few: It uses 10 years of taxes to fund six years of subsidies. Social Security and Medicare revenues are double-counted to the tune of $398 billion. A new program funding long-term care frontloads taxes but backloads spending, gradually going broke by design. The law pretends that Congress will spend less on Medicare than it really will, in particular through an automatic 25% cut to physician payments that Democrats have already voted not to allow for this year.”

    “The CBO budget gnomes are required to “score” what’s on paper in front of them, no matter how unrealistic, and that’s the method its Congressional masters prefer. The political class makes believe that CBO’s forecasts are carved into stone tablets through divine revelation, but all they really show is that politicians have rigged the budget rules to hide the true cost of entitlements.”

Obama Speech: Public Option Now

Wednesday, September 9, AD 2009

Obama speech

[Updates at the bottom of this post as of 5:52am CDT on AD 9-9-2009]

News is emanating from the White House that President Obama’s monumental speech will push for the infamous public option.  It is well known that most Republicans will call this a deal breaker but at the same time liberal Democrats will say the opposite that no Health Care bill will get through if it doesn’t contain a public option.

Jonathan Weisman and Janet Adamy have reported in the Wall Street Journal that President Obama will be pushing for the public option.  It is also being reported that there will be penalties imposed to those that are not paying for Health Care, regardless of the reasons.

White House aides acknowledged they expect little Republican support if any.

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15 Responses to Obama Speech: Public Option Now

  • I think you misunderstand what “the public wants.”

    True recent polls say that they don’t think Obama is doing a good job of leading on the issue – he let democracy work, I guess that was his first problem in your eyes.

    However the TV shots of people who yell about losing their country are NOT THE MAJORITY.

    At the most negative level, the country is (as usual) about equally divide on the issue of the public option with about 10% undecided. Moreover after the initial poll, when people are given information about what the public option means, this goes to about 70% in favor of the public option. These polls were done in August by both Pew and a Time poll I believe.

    The tea parties DID make an impact on him, but he is not the president of just those people, he is also the president of the less vocal majority.

    I know these kinds of polls are never shown on FOX, they have their own polls and their reporting bias is pretty obvious.

    Yes, if we get a public option and it doesn’t work, the public will vote Obama out of office. That’s democracy. But that’s what conservatives thought about Social Security and the Clean Air and Water Acts and rural electrification and the same folks who protest any role of the federal government on health care are often the same ones who use those very same programs. Irony is a beach.

    BTW, the whining about the “cult of personality” was always dumb, but now its getting old. Reagan did it and conservatives have beatified him for it, so the current angst about Obama is hardly unbiased.

  • And if Obama loses in 2012, so be it. Hopefully he will have tried to do what he thought was right and not compromised just to hold on to power – but I doubt you would give him even that much credit.

  • You assume a lot MacGregor.

    I’m not a fan of Social Security and the clean air acts.

    Plus regardless if the public option “works” or not, it’ll stay there forever just as Social Security is here forever.

    Government always grows and never retracts.

    When people continue to raise their voice in town halls, tea party protests, and contacting their congressional reps, and Obama still refuses to listen, you’ll see the majority vote Obama and his colleagues out of office.

  • Obama believes in a cult of personality because he thinks he can persuade people of his point of view through a speech? Don’t you think that’s a little disingenuous? All leaders, religious and political, give speeches on subjects in attempts to persuade people of their opinions. Some of us might even argue that it’s a better approach than yelling loudly at town hall meetings or holding incoherent “tea parties.”

    And why would you oppose the clean air act (which is generally very popular, even if you oppose it)?

  • Yes, if we get a public option and it doesn’t work, the public will vote Obama out of office. That’s democracy.

    Actually the bill isn’t set to go into effect until after the 2012 elections. So even if it turns out to be a disaster people won’t get the chance to vote Obama out because of it.

    In terms of polling, support for health care reform tends to evaporate when you put a price tag on it.

  • “Yes, if we get a public option and it doesn’t work, the public will vote Obama out of office. That’s democracy.”

    Actually the bill isn’t set to go into effect until after the 2012 elections. So even if it turns out to be a disaster people won’t get the chance to vote Obama out because of it.

    All that is still beside the point. Political retribution is of no consequence. The reason to make sure things are done right in the first place is that the the consequences are great. Good policy will benefit society now and our posterity, bad policy has long lasting negative effects. I’m no fan of Obama, but I’d happily support anything he does that is good and give him due credit for it. I just don’t think what’s in the offering is good, and since there’s basically no going back (to something genuinely good or even the status quo), there’s good reason to oppose the entire bill.

  • It’s not a “cult of personality.” It’s called communication and trying to build a consensus, and it’s how politics is supposed to work. Too many ignorant and angry voices are spreading falsehoods about what is about to transpire, and it is the President’s JOB to get information out there and make this process as transparent as possible. He has spent months listening to the debates and the Republicans have NO proposal other than opposing any proposal he offers or any effort he makes to bring this country together – however large or small. It’s a sad, sad day when we have people protesting a message about working hard in school and taking responsibility for one’s future. Likewise, much of the opposition to health care reform remains sadly uninformed about the present system AND about the proposals at hand. Such a position does not build anything. It doesn’t even try to promote consensus. It doesn’t do anything at all to help the millions of people who are suffering because of our broken, inefficient, and corrupt system. It rests idly on the willingness of those who are comfortable with the current system to ignore the problem and look the other way. I’m disgusted by the “I have mine, who cares about everyone else” attitude so prevalent in these discussions. There are millions of Catholics, myself included, who support the President and this initiative.

  • He has spent months listening to the debates and the Republicans have NO proposal other than opposing any proposal he offers or any effort he makes to bring this country together –

    You people keep repeating this, but it’s manifestly untrue. In fact, it is an out and out LIE. Republicans – elected officials, commentators, and think tankers – have offered various alternative proposals, but the President and his minions have ignored them all and continue to act as though the other side doesn’t exist. That’s certainly their prerogative because they have the numbers to do so, but stop pretending that the President is interested in “dialogue” and compromise.

    Likewise, much of the opposition to health care reform remains sadly uninformed about the present system AND about the proposals at hand.

    Why do you presume that the people protesting the current plan are the ignorant ones? Are you fully aware of the full scope of what’s being proposed? Have you scanned every page of the proposed legislation? Somehow I doubt it.

    There are millions of Catholics, myself included, who support the President and this initiative.

    And there are millions more who oppose it. Deal with it.

  • Tracey,
    Please read this linked statement on Health Care Reform by Bishop Guglielmone: http://www.catholic-doc.org/BishopGuglielmone/Health%20Care%20memo.pdf

  • Also see this bishop’s less than approving letter on the plan:

    http://www.archden.org/index.cfm/ID/2440/Archbishop’s-Column/

  • Credit to Jay Anderson on that find.

  • And PPH’s president criticizing US Bishops for their stance. This was probably covered a few weeks ago. http://www.lifenews.com/nat5375.html

  • Tito, you couldnt be helped by a public option?
    Obama is proposing we get to have and keep healthcare whether jobless or having a pre-existing condition. Also, if you want to keep the healthcare you have, you can. I fail to see the problem. Ill wager most of the folks posting here have socialized medicine already-medicare anyone? Paul, what are these competing plans? Im familiar with Max Baucus’, what else? The president has been more than fair on taking input from all sides. Wouldnt this be good for us?

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  • Health care or not, I’m partisan to a president that can lower my taxes and fix what the housing market “greed” created… Just get the job market back up and avoid more scams…including “communism”

Overreacting, The Left Needs To Wake Up To Reality

Tuesday, September 8, AD 2009

GOP overreaction to Obama speechLiberals and Democrats have accused many Americans of overreacting to the speech that President Obama will be delivering to school children today (at 11:00 am Central Daylight Time).

On the surface this would seem a fair evaluation but if you dig a little deeper, those on the Left may well be making another crucial misdiagnosis of the source and cause of this reaction.

First lets examine the prism that those on the Left have viewed this reaction.

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33 Responses to Overreacting, The Left Needs To Wake Up To Reality

  • You, and so many others, are conflating legitimate opposition to policy with lunacy. Just because you’re on the same side of the aisle doesn’t mean you have to defend all of them. The Birthers and now the Uneducators cannot be reasoned with and trying will only be politically counterproductive. Obama and the Democrats gain by keeping alive this perception that Republicans are crazy.

  • Well I am opposed to Obama’s nationwide speech to school kids and I am not an “Uneducator”. I have a teacher’s BA in social studies which I obtained before I ran off to Law School. My wife has an MA in Library Science and an MA in Spanish, and has taught Spanish in a public high school, and she opposes this use of the students of America as a political prop for this floundering administration. All three of our kids attend our local public high school. The superintendant of our school system has decided to burn the speech onto some DVDs and make them available to kids who want to watch it, but not to turn over instruction time to this Presidential nationwide photo-op.

  • I don’t oppose the president’s speech at all, but I do think the teacher’s lesson plan put out by the White House smacked of the cult of personality.

  • The text of the speech is here. On a quick perusal, it appears to be an “eat your vegetables” speech, no different from those given by prior presidents. Not sure what the fuss is about.

  • Blackadder-
    Given that it doesn’t match up with the topics listed even in the re-done study guide, it would be reasonable to assume the speech was significantly re-written. This guess is bolstered by the fact that they didn’t release the speech days ago, instead of the morning prior to the scheduled talk.

  • Lesson plans asking students to write about “Is he challenging you to do anything?” Easily can be lead down the partisan route by a partisan teacher (and plenty of those in public schools.) Doesn’t help that is was written in part by the White House with the Dept. of Education. The faux pas was clear even to the White House and DOE resulting in changes to the lesson plans. Should have also released the content of the speech prior to today. Who’s to say the opposition didn’t change the wording of the speech.

    Some potential problems with the lesson plans:

    http://blog.heritage.org/2009/09/03/politicizing-the-department-of-education/

  • Foxfier anticipated part of what I am saying.

  • Foxfire,

    I’m not sure what study materials you are referring to. The study materials I’ve seen (and that would include the materials referenced in the article Phillip cites to) seems to match up pretty well with what’s actually in the speech.

    My understanding is that the study materials for the Obama speech track pretty closely the materials for Bush’s speech to school children back in the early 1990s. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if whatever Dept of Ed underlying was assigned to prepare the materials just ripped off the prior version.

  • Actually no. The Dept. of Ed admits the lesson plans were written in collaboration with the White House – and not the Bush White House.

  • The topics mentioned were “citizenship, personal responsibility, and civic duty”– only two of those three can sort of be found in the speech.

    Do you have a link to said materials? I’ve heard that statement morphing from “maybe Bush the Elder did it” to “these are exactly what Bush the Elder had” over the course of the weekend.

    Also, we do know who wrote the lesson plans– they were in large part provided by the White House.

  • Folks like MM love to make the hypocrisy point, claiming that everyone was fine when Reagan and Bush made similar speeches. Not so fast: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/When-Bush-spoke-to-students-Democrats-investigated-held-hearings-57694347.html

  • I’m sure this point will be brought up on NPR this afternoon. Waiting…Waiting…Waiting.

  • SB, you simply don’t understand. The problem is the difference between devils (R) and gods (D).

    Either way though, it’s just one more reason to homeschool.

  • Here’s the lesson plans. Also the Dept of Ed site notes that the plans were written in collaboration with the White House:

    http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/academic/bts.html

  • Folks like MM love to make the hypocrisy point, claiming that everyone was fine when Reagan and Bush made similar speeches.

    Okay, so liberals are hypocrites for objecting then and not now, and conservatives are hypocrites for objecting now but not then. The question is whether there’s anything objectionable about what the President said. If there is, I’m not seeing it.

  • Is there anything objectionable about the lesson plans as originally formulated – Yes. Is there anything objectionable about what he was going to say before the fuss began – maybe. The protest may have done its job in more ways then one.

  • What was objectionable about the lesson plans as originally written?

  • What *isn’t* creepy about telling kids to write letters on how they can help the president, to be collected and passed out later to see how they’re living up to the goal?

    What if you’re not inspired by Obama, for that matter?

    (For that matter, the idea of a speech being interesting and challenging for pre-schoolers through seniors is kinda bloody weird, too, especially for someone that has kids.)

  • If I want my kids to listen to a politician I’ll take them to see said politician, without the assistance of the school or the White House, thank you very much. (In regard to my kids, however, if Obama wanted to address a classroom in person I would love for the class to contain my three kids. Two of them would ask follow-up questions that would leave a mark! My autistic son would probably be wondering how one of Dad’s boring political shows followed him to school!)
    A factor overlooked in all of this of course is that the National Education Association, the teacher’s union, has been a dominant power in the Democrat party for decades. The idea that a fair share of their membership will not be attempting to make partisan hay out of this is risible.

    The link below is to their story on the Obama address at the NEA website. As the first comment notes the NEA protested Bush addressing four classrooms in 1991.

    http://www.nea.org/home/35721.htm

  • One of the suggested activities in the original was to write about “how to help the president.” It was changed to “how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals.” IMO the criticism was fair and it was rectified. Still doesn’t explain why so many are opposed to children even hearing the speech.

  • Restrained Radical,

    I noted your points in my posting. And I explained why there was an overreaction.

    The reaction is to President Obama’s policies itself that manifested since the mainstream media refused to air any of the legitimate news concerning this growing grassroots movement. Add to this that President Obama and his proxies continue to slur and belittle any news that percolates to the surface and you have what happened with President Obama’s video to kids.

    It’s all in my posting.

  • Another problem is that the lesson plans ask older students to look at past Obama speeches on education and post quotes around the classroom. Of course past education speeches of Obama are riddled with errors. This from teh Washington Post:

    “Studies show that children in early childhood education programs are more likely to score higher in reading and math, more likely to graduate from high school and attend college, more likely to hold a job and more likely to earn more in that job. For every dollar we invest in these programs, we get nearly $10 back in reduced welfare rolls, fewer health-care costs and less crime. That’s why [the stimulus law] invests $5 billion in growing Early Head Start and Head Start.”

    Early education is a contentious issue, with many types of programs serving various goals.

    There is research to show lasting benefits for some kids who later move into good schools. There is research to show that such benefits fade if they do not move into strong schools. There is research to show that some programs help kids from low-income families become academically prepared for school. And there is research to show some programs don’t do more than babysit.

    Head Start, the country’s largest publicly funded preschool program, is praised by supporters for providing comprehensive education, health care and other support to low-income families. Critics say some programs are uneven and have little or no impact on academic performance. Finally, there are many estimates about how much money preschool saves in the long run. Obama’s is not the final word.

    DROPOUTS

    “Our high school dropout rate has tripled in the past 30 years.”

    For this statistic, the Education Department says that the president drew on a report from the National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy at Boston College that was cited by the College Board in December. It said: “The rate at which students disappear from schools between grades 9 and 12 has tripled in the last 30 years.”

    How such rates are calculated is highly controversial. Dropouts are hard to track in part because kids move around. Graduation rates are often cited, but analysts say they have been fudged in some places. According to University of Chicago professor Melissa Roderick, it all depends on how and whom you count. One way is to calculate the people who wind up getting some kind of high school diploma or equivalency degree by their mid-20s. About 87 percent of people ages 25 to 29 are getting such degrees.

    If you look at kids who are getting diplomas on time, after four years of high school, that overall rate is about 75 percent, she said, although it is much lower for black and Hispanic students. States, pushed by the federal government, are moving to standardize the use of this on-time graduation rate.

  • What *isn’t* creepy about telling kids to write letters on how they can help the president, to be collected and passed out later to see how they’re living up to the goal?

    One of my co-workers told me the other day that he remembers watching Ronald Reagan speak when he was a kid in school and was assigned to write about how he could help the President (the co-worker is a conservative Republican, btw, and no fan of Obama).

    It’s only creepy if you want it to be.

  • On graduation rates– don’t forget private or homeschooling might “look” like a kid dropped out, or those folks who join the military early and get their GED in bootcamp.

  • True. My point is that included in the lesson plans was quoting past Obama speeches on education. Even one’s that are quite flawed in their data. So a student might decide to write his legislator about increasing funding for Headstart. Even though there’s no evidence that that works. Except from a partisan perspective. And there’s the problem.

  • Blackadder-
    Was that from the nation-wide, White House provided lesson plan, or did his teacher do it on his own?
    Was this after he directly contacted principals to get them to show his speech?
    Come to think of it, how old was your co-worker? How well does he remember this? (I’ve seen false memories show up for stuff that’s less than a year old, let alonenearly twenty-one years old.)

    November 14th of 88, Reagan did a Q&A for school kids that was carried on C-SPAN. He was nearing the end of his term, had no big irons in the fire, wasn’t hugely controversial, didn’t try to subvert usual channels, hadn’t just chosen a ton of highly controversial advisors and wasn’t accusing the opposition of manufacturing (violent) protests while doing so himself.
    With just one or two of these, the Obama thing might not be a big deal. With all of these things, it’s a big deal.

  • Yes. It would be good to see the lesson plans developed by the DOE and the White House for both the Reagan and Bush speechs. I just can find them on Google.

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  • So after all of this fuss and fuming and hyperbole, and after the speech has been described as good, topical and non-partisan by a great number of independent and moderate Republican leaders nation-wide, the anti-Obama posters here still think there was a great conspiracy to indoctrinate kids – wow, what a shock. I guess it is better to accuse the president of an unproven, unlikely theoretical malfeasance based upon one’s political orientation than to judge what actually happened.

    That

    First, yes the Dept. of Education wrote a series of suggested activities and topics – that is what the Dept. of Education does.

    Second, yes White House staff – not a giant uber-being called the White House, but some White House staffers helped. Why? Because they being in the White House, actually might have known some of the topics of the speech. If the WH had sent no staff to the Dept. of Ed., that would have been really stupid and the Dept. of Ed. would have not known what to activities to suggest. Is this logic difficult to follow?

    Third, all speeches go through a series of revisions (as do ALL lesson plans) up until they are published. Now, maybe Obama originally had the words, “Look into my eyes and join the Democratic party,” or “Hey kids lets all chant, ‘public option, public option, yea public option,” or maybe even “When I was your age, I enjoyed reading such books as Mein Kampf and histories of the Bolshevik revolutionaries,” until right-wingers complained and then he removed them … or maybe he actually wanted kids to stay in school and be responsible for their own education … and then maybe someone said, “Make sure you add something about being careful about coming down with the flu,” and so things like that were added? As Tito demonstrated in the article, it is easy to overlook the simple answer when you are passionately looking for a more sinister one.

    Phillip: So you say that statistics can be difficult to interpret and the methodology of creating them differs from organization to organization and state to state. Yeah, I think we probably already know that. That may be one of the bad effects of local control. When you want to compare things across the nation, it is often useful to use national standards … oops, that darn federal government getting in our business again! There is actually a valid way, though of looking at data that comes from different sources and that is to study it longitudinally. That is, as long as the different statistics consistently use the same techniques from year to year (this is the reason we have state statisticians) then you can look for trends. If these trend show increases and there are what are called “internal or external threats to validity,” then those statistics can give you some insight. It is limited and it is conditional, but I’m sure you as a teacher and a lawyer, you must use some statistics in your work.

    Foxfier, they already know which students are homeschooled and even private schools have to give their data for these studies. The most difficult thing that I came across when I worked for a few years in an urban school, was with the students who changed schools mid-year if their family moved. This is a surprisingly large number of kids (5-10%) and a real problem with their education.

    Foxfier, I think you are a bit disingenuous when you say that Reagan’s talk to students (carried on a network that was broadcast to many schools) was somehow so innocent and apolitical and as if you was just a kindly old man talking to some kids. Well, yes democrats largely kept it apolitical because liberals realized that it was a great thing for the most powerful man in the world to take time out of his day to talk to kids and I guess that was a time of greater respect for the office. However, Reagan was NOT uncontroversial – he had the Iran-Contra scandal that still is reverberating, he had the most advisors of any president ever (until Bush 2) under indictment, he had . He WAS accusing his opposition of a great many things, it was just that his opponents were mostly protesting issues, like moving nuclear waste and clear-cutting redwoods, they weren’t attacking him or arriving to his speeches holding semi-automatic weapons.

    Aside: After the attempted assassination on Reagan, how restrained do you think Reagan’s secret service would have been compared to the way restraint that Obama’s secret service detail has been even as people have waved signs describing how blood should be spilled and that he is the moral equivalent to Hitler? Given that the last few years have shown that it is mostly radical white conservatives how have killed the most people for cultural and political reasons, the authorities have shown remarkable skill and restraint.

    So Obama is really no more controversial than Reagan was, they both inherited problems, though Obama inherited worse ones according to Bush, and they both took principled stands that have made them targets for dissent, but there is a difference. Just like Tito and Foxfier some conservatives are already so convinced of a pattern of behavior, so prejudiced to a perception about Obama that ANYTHING he does is colored. And of course to my mind, the problem is that this perception is false.

    Obama has not belittled his opponents, has never dismissed the tea partiers as unAmerican (find the video!!) or even lashed out at those who whine about his citizenship. He is actually almost to “no drama Obama” about almost everything, except when he jumped the gun on the Gates arrest. If you can’t see that he is the most restrained president in a long, long time than you are mightily biased and you’ve forgotten when Reagan said this:

    I realize that for some, as long as an older, moderately conservative white president tells someone to shut up, that it is a “manly, American” moment, yet if a younger, moderately liberal black president would say the same thing, it would be the act of an arrogant elitist cult figure. I’m not accusing anyone here of this, but I can’t help think of what the “birthers” would say. It is prejudice, it is about culture war politics and it is a symptom of people who have lost or never had a way to be self-reflective and intellectually honest.

    The liberal hecklers who shouted at President Reagan and the two Presidents Bush, were generally young and though vocal were not a large segment of the population – those who actually formed the loyal, liberal opposition were usually respectful. Those who over-reacted to Obama’s speech and attended some of the town halls and tea parties are parents and people who should either know better or be better role models. Not to stop voicing their opinions or to stop articulating their opposition – for that is the messy reality of democracy – but they should at least act like adults.

    To me the thesis of this entire thread seems to be false as I read it.

    1. President Obama was not elected because people were merely protesting a bad economy. That is flat out unsupportable. Both McCain and Obama were BOTH running against the Bush economy and the people actually had a choice of philosophies and a choice of candidates and Obama fit what the people wanted.

    2. The voters did not vote for a greatly expanded bureaucracy, yes, but they did vote for a candidate who was refreshing in several ways, first he actually didn’t blame the federal government for everything. He talked about government in an adult manner, not trying to call it evil while at the same time trying to get the job to run it, and not pretending to cut the expanse of government while actually increasing it. Case in point, the federal government expanded under every president and the single biggest increase in federal jobs occurred under George W. Bush with Homeland Security.

    3. The voters voted for someone who would stop lying to them about Iraq, not break international treatise, end torture of prisoners (which he has done mostly), end intrusion into people’s live by wiretaps and other means as implemented by the “small government” of GW Bush (which he really hasn’t done), improve the diplomatic corps that was decimated by Bush, opened dialogue with our allies without bribing them into helping us … etc., too many things. I hope you get it. He was voted in on a broad agenda of changes that now have been conveniently forgotten about.

    4. The original post is also wrong in stating that he failed “to recognize genuine American concern to deficit spending…” Actually he didn’t. He unlike Bush put the Iraq War back into the budget so people could actually see and congress could be more responsible for its affects on the budget, which Bush liked to hide. He also staunchly would veto any health care reform that would create deficit spending and is the first president in a while to advocate for “pay as you go.” Some here may not know what that means, but it means “don’t add to the deficit.” So that means cut programs or raise taxes. You may agree with his tax plans, but you can not call him unconcerned for deficit spending – two different things.

    5. The article says that Obama failed to recognize how much Americans don’t want “the nationalization of the motor industry.” No one wants the nationalization of the motor industry, Obama has said repeatedly that he doesn’t want to run GM or have the government nationalize any corporation. You may not agree with the tactics but bailing out GM just means having a 60% non-voting investment in it. It is one company, not an industry. It is temporary and GM is already planning to pay it back because they don’t want the government strings that are attached. And why are they attached, because the government (the Fed Reserve and Treasury) by law CAN NOT just give money away without protecting the taxpayer. It is too much to get into hear, but even the financial news pundits who hate government intrusion have come to realize that GM still went out under bankruptcy, but that it did so in a far quicker time frame and it saved all of the thousands of smaller companies and many dealerships (which of course IS the majority of the motor industry) from having to go bankrupt and thus not become nationalized. This was not perfect and I think the unions got a better deal than they deserved and some of it was political (wow, McCain would never have been political!?), but to call that nationalization of the motor industry is so far from reality that it is laughable. Ford is doing just fine and if Chrysler fails or GM has any more problems, it will be gone. The bailout was only deemed necessary because it happened to coincide with the failure of Wall Street and even though I believe in the principle of moral hazard in capitalism, I also feel that once a century the rules of the game need to be bent to prevent needless pain as long as it is temporary – and that is from Thomas Jefferson’s (a great small government guy) views.

    6. The article says, “Then came the town hall meetings where Americans began to voice their displeasure. Again, President Obama and his proxies dismissed them as “astro-turf”. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi derided them as Nazi’s.” This is a particularly biased statement in my opinion. First Obama, again, did not dismiss the town hall protesters … ever!!! Some did of course, because some protesters were way over the top, but there is no cabal of Obama proxies soing anything. There are some pundits and some politicians who think that many of the tea parties and town halls had some outside influences – and they did, but no one said that all or even most of the people there genuinely expressing opinions were that way. As a matter of fact the administration has mostly said that it was only the most vocal that got on TV, but that most town halls went well with plenty of genuine and passionate viewpoints.

    Also I find it interesting that Pelosi (of whom I am not a fan) says the term “Nazi” once in relation to, not protesters, but to the people who yell to the point that no one can speak, she gets blamed for that hyperbole even as hundreds of right-wingers and dozens of conservative talk show hosts actually call Obama a Nazi on a daily basis. Just think use some perspective hear, the Speaker of the House can use it once about one particular instance and every extreme conservative makes a huge deal out, yet when conservatives say the same thing on a daily basis, they are somehow patriotic Americans. I guess some people just don’t get irony.

    There is more that I could write, but this is way too long already. I just think that the premise of the thread is so much ado about nothing. The Obama admin. hasn’t over-reacted or demonized conservatives. It was dealt a bad hand in the way that President Bush 43 was dealt a bad hand with 9/11 and both administrations had political operatives whose job it is to look for ways of dealing with emergencies and even using them as opportunities for change. Bush and Cheney used 9/11 as a reason to invade Iraq and to greatly increase the power of the presidency. It is unclear how Raum E. expects to use the current crises, but Obama has chosen to look at how Reagan era deregulation substantially led to the Wall Street credit problem and the recession is a good time to reform the system. That is actually a responsible position to take. We’ll see if it works. Health care will bankrupt the country if it is left to grow at the existing rate, and in an economic down turn, this may also be the time to reform it as well. Finally, wars and security issues are good drivers for reforming the countries energy policy.

    My point is that you can disagree with Obama’s philosophies and argue his policies and even dislike his personality, but to say he is that much different from most other administrations, both Republican and Democrat, is quite the overstatement. And yes, if he does over-react (which he hasn’t yet) or he takes on too many issues to change (which he probably did), then elections will be his report card. Let’s just keep the hyperbole and biases to the pros, like Beck.

    BTW, his approval rating has fallen from 70% to 50%. A big drop, but 50% is pretty high for any president during a once in a century economic crisis and in the midst of two wars and as a target of plenty of prejudice even as he has maintained by and large his dignity and not simply fallen into the tactics of most other presidents of wrapping himself in the flag and causing people to be scared.

    BTW, the whole point of the cartoon at the top has obviously been missed.

  • You have a lot of time on your hands. Your ignore the bottom line. The lesson plans were changed. The White House itself by its actions admitted they were wrong by doing so. They may very well have changed the speech due to the democratic efforts of Republicans. Can’t deny the truth of this.

  • Would you like a match for your strawman? Maybe a thresher?

    I haven’t seen such a load of hooey since my little sister tried to use “nothing happened” to prove “nothing will ever happen” when she stayed out too late in high school.

  • I do think that the fuss about the school address has been excessive — at the same time, however, I think MacGregor’s extensive comment above falls into the basic pattern (all too easy to fall into) of looking at things through a tribal lens and thinking, “Sure there are some crazies on my side, but there aren’t many and they’re harmless. Now the other guys! They’re bad!”

    Yes, there have certainly been over-the-top reactions to Clinton and Obama, but there were incredibly extreme amounts of hate directed at Reagan and Bush2, and both of them dealt with it in a calm and statesmanlike fashion. Attempts to portray Obama’s critiques as more deranged or dangerous than the sufferers from Bush Derangement Syndrome over the last eight years suggest a certain lack of perspective.

    This is not to say that people are right to behave irresponsibly in response to Obama, but perspective is always necessary.

Spirit of '09

Thursday, April 16, AD 2009

tea-party-map

Yesterday Americans rallied in hundreds of tea party protests against high government spending and taxation.  In my state 3000 people turned out in Peoria alone.  Good coverage of the tea parties is at Instapundit.  Much more at Tea Party online HQ

Elements of the mainstream media were openly contemptuous of the tea parties, perhaps one of the more obvious examples being here at Hot Air.

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8 Responses to Spirit of '09

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  • While I think the idea for tea parties is great… they’ve been distorted since the Paul campaign in ’07 had their online tea party that raised millions in one day.

    There’s a lot of great rhetoric going around, but I don’t believe its substantive. Its just the GOP back to its old strategy- give the liberty-leaning, state rights, conservative crowed the speeches they want to hear- then when we get into office someday, we’ll be just like the Democrats.

    Governor Perry sudden turn towards Jeffersonian-style ideas speaks more of his political need to distinguish himself from the current administration than it does on any genuine concern for states rights, the constitution, or local authority.

  • Its just the GOP back to its old strategy-

    It must be emphasized that the tea parties had little to do with the GOP – in fact I think many if not most of the participants have been or are as furious with the GOP as with the Democrat party.

  • I can vouch for what Paul said. I received zero contacts from the GOP on any level regarding the tea parties.

  • I would have liked to attend, but yesterday was a very busy day at work and I couldn’t get away.

    I agree – the sense that I have is that the tea parties are conservative/liberatarian and most protesters are (understandably) as disgusted with the GOP as they are with the Democrats.

    Anthony, it is quite remarkable, I think, that these protests, as small as many of them were, took place across the country. (Also bear in mind that they were not centrally organized, there is no Soros or union money behind them, and protesters were not bussed in from other locales. The left is much more professional when it comes to planning and organizing rallies.) I might be wrong, but I don’t think that a bunch of people just blew off some steam for a couple of hours and now will vanish. The tea parties might just be the first baby steps of something much larger. We don’t know yet, but I wouldn’t dismiss them as insubstantive. In fact, I don’t really think CNN does – hence the blatant attempt to ridicule and marginalize them.

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  • Perry fits to a tea that old adage “there go the people; I must rush ahead to lead them”

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Red Ink

Wednesday, March 25, AD 2009

bush-obamabudget1

A look at the federal budget since 2000, with projections, for what little they are worth, by the White House and the Congressional Budget Office to 2019.  By CBO estimates last week, the budget deficits between now and 2019 would total $9, 300, 000, 000, 000.00.  The entire cost of WW2 for the US in 2008 dollars was 3.6 trillion.  This year the budget deficit will total 13% of our gross domestic product.  This isn’t economic policy, it is lunacy.  These type of deficits are completely unsustainable, and we are running towards national bankruptcy.  It is impossible to borrow these type of funds from abroad.  We will simply create the funds out of thin air.  The long term impact on our children and their children can be easily imagined.  As the Heritage Foundation points out, this is a completely bi-partisan disaster.  Politicians have acted like teen-agers with stolen credit cards for far too long.  However, this will stop.  It will stop either by voters throwing out of office the fiscally irresponsible, or, much more likely in my estimation, the economy will simply hit a brick wall.  This will not, cannot, go on.  How it is stopped is up to us.

Update I:  The President of the EU slams current US economic policy as a road to hell.  I never thought I would live to see the day when a President of the EU would have more economic sense than a President of the US.

UpdateII:  Hattip to Instapundit.  A sign of things to come.  Stocks slide after a lack-lustre sale of T bills and notes: 

“Bond prices fell after the auction of $34 billion in 5-year Treasury notes. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, jumped to 2.77 percent from 2.71 percent late Tuesday. The yield on the three-month T-bill rose to 0.19 percent from 0.17 percent Tuesday.

Investors gave an unexpectedly cool response to the note sale just a day after a $40 billion auction of 2-year notes suggested strong demand. The government is running up huge deficits in order to fund an array of plans to provide stimulus to the economy and support to the ailing financial system. Any suggestion that demand for U.S. government debt is weakening is a negative for stocks, simply because Wall Street has been relying so heavily on the government’s rescue plans.

The surge of worry over the debt auction wiped out the market’s early optimism in response to durable goods and home sales data.”

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9 Responses to Red Ink

8 Responses to Democrat Economy

  • Why “Democrat” economy? As Arlen Spector said, the Republicans essentially support this bill, but are afraid to put their fingerprints on it.

  • Arlen Spector, besides being a RINO, is a liar. This monstrosity is the Democrats’ gift to the nation. Besides Spector, and the Maine RINOS, the Republican party was unified in its opposition.

  • While one ought to roll eyes at superstition, I’d say that the Friday 13 passing of this trillion-dollar bag of pork-rinds is a bit of a morbidly funny harbinger. I am also glad it passed (first, because it was inevitable and second, because its inevitable doom may seal the ultimate downfall of the Left, even as the Left enjoys its shining little “moment,” at least right now).

    More horrific is the complete lack of innovation that surrounded this grand Democratic scheme to solve (or at least blunt) the crisis. Obama the new, new Visionary (for that is indeed the specific image he cultivated, sold, and rode-upon into office). Some “vision.” This bill is not only the most pedestrian, predictable, and typically uninspired Leftist folly right out of the tattered playbook, it is the fattest.

    This kind of “same old, same old” is far more ridiculous than the “past eight years same-old” that Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the other dwarfs have been whimpering about. Is anyone amazed at how the leftist imagination is so easily titillated and indoctrinated, en masse, by the most generic clouds of stardust? No. People may rightfully decry Bush and his myriad difficulties, but with the passing of this bill, the Obama Cult has officially become the greatest hoodwink in American history.

    None of that matters, now. We’re in for it. Obama plans to address the housing crisis on Wednesday. More drab policy-wonking and ineptitude. The horror is that so few Americans have even a shred of a clue that there is no solution to this largest segment of the crisis. Nothing can be done, short of having allowed (and continuing to allow) the big banks to utterly collapse and find a way to prop-up the smaller banks that did not have the means to engage in the pervasive lending abuses of the giants, and thus make it easier for the crashed banking infrastructure to reset itself even a tiny bit.

    That, at least, would put ~some~ sort of a dent in the fact that over 70 percent of those in the market for a house can never qualify for a loan now (even if 20 percent of that 70 actually DO qualify), with housing prices not even at the nadir, yet, and inventory all the way to the moon. Letting the offending banks and lenders fail and giving incentives to the smaller, up-and-coming banks would have helped put that 10-20% of qualified buyers back on the map. Even getting 5% of those who still truly qualify (but who cannot get a loan to save their lives) back on the map would have had a salvific impact. A superb pilot-light in the darkness. That would have been a real stimulus, right there. A genuine stimulus.

    But no one gets this. Few, at least. America doesn’t get it. I’ve been in lending and real estate for almost 20 years, in California. I can attest that Americans haven’t a proverbial clue and our representatives (touchy Republicans and dingbat Democrats alike) are evading the primary issue, on top of the Democrats’ execrable compounding of the issue. Everyone knows this stimulus is going to fail and that even its pithy scraps of assistance won’t register a blip for years. To secure their paradigm, Obama and the Democrats betrayed the nation and cobbled together this piece of garbage as quickly as possible (under the “we need it as swiftly as possible” mantle) at the expense of bipartisanship and the future. Certainly, a six-month attempt at coming-up with something truly innovative and potentially successful would have been wise. But that’s not on anyone’s agenda, in the beltway.

    How this administration can dare uphold even a mere pretense of being innovative and visionary is, at best, a joke, now. With the passing of this cobbled-together, typically uninspired-yet-exorbitant stimulus, the Obama presidency has already become an apocalyptic disaster. A massive failure. Truly: everything to come from him over the next four years is going to be so much fiddling amid the conflagration.

  • I’m not sure if the stimulus will help that much in the current economic environment. Economies go through cycles and recession is part of the cycle. I read a good article on the history of cycles at, I think,

    http://www.recessioninfocenter.com

  • I was looking at a chart of the DJIA for the last four years, it’s interesting to note that it was on a steady rise until November 2006… since then it has been declining.

    What happened in Nov 2006 that could possibly account for this?

  • What happened in Nov 2006 that could possibly account for this?

    Hmmmm,…., I seem to recall that there was an election that month,….,

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Obama and the Stimulus Package

Tuesday, February 10, AD 2009

Has anyone ever wondered if it is possible that one can land in a financial crisis when one has a steady income, no debts, and a large reserve of money in case of emergencies?  Certainly, I suppose, if something devastating comes around, like an accident that requires weeks in the ICU, surgeries, and a long rehabilitation, that could bankrupt a person.  Yet such accidents, on a whole, are rare, and most people who live a financially responsible life never have to plead for a bailout.

When we look at our current financial crisis nationwide, I can’t help but wonder what people are thinking.  President Obama has promised us trillion dollar deficits for years to come in an effort to restore our economy.  Like most right-leaning folk, I’m under the impression that our current crisis has come from overspending, living beyond our means, and not being prepared for when we hit bumpy times in the economy (like $4/gallon gas, which drives prices up all around).  Perhaps, if this view is incorrect, someone will be willing to explain to me why it is so.  But my impression has been that first, people individually are consumed with buying, buying, buying, even when they don’t have the money to buy.   I have friends who, though they grossed over $60,000 a year, were still living paycheck to paycheck because of their deficit spending.  I’ve seen people who, upon receiving their government money, have gone and blown it on new cell phones (that are shut down after two delinquent months), on fancy steack dinners, and so on, instead of buying necessities or saving up what they can.  I’ve seen people struggling with hundreds of thousands of dollars of accumulated debt that came from student loans, house loans, car loans, credit cards, and so on.  This is just what I’ve seen.  What I’ve heard–word of mouth, or in the news, or on blogs–is even worse.

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18 Responses to Obama and the Stimulus Package

  • My personal feeling is that the dollar will die within the next 10-15 years. I just don’t see how it can survive all these pressures of printing and borrowing in order to pay for entitlement programs and foreign interventions.

    If Obama were really interested in rescuing the economy and preserving the nations ‘greatness’ while there is still time he would:

    1.) End our overseas commitments, whose cost is perpetually skyrocketing to the detriment of our blood and treasure; not to mention the liberty of those we are trying to “help”

    2.) Audit the Federal Reserve if you aren’t willing to abolish them. The Fed is a quasi-public/private cartel of banks that has control of our currency via manipulating interest rates. Who the hell are they to arbitrarily decide the price of money? Our fiat currency had been far too politicized, thanks to the removal of any kind of commodity standard. We need to know what the Fed has been up to in total. Its way past time Congress reassert its powers and responsibilities.

    3.) Create a long-term transition away from entitlement programs. It turns out the Great Society ain’t so great. While many people are now dependent on the state to survive, the costs we could save from ending foreign commitments could be moved towards these programs as we slowly close them down over time. Congress should be barred from raiding Social Security/Medicare and Medicaid funds for their pet projects.

    4.) Elimination of the Income Tax. The government could easily put money back in the hands of consumers instantly by simply not taxing the fruit of their labor. There are plenty of other tariffs and taxes that would maintain the size of government at about the level it was in the Clinton years. If you have to institute a consumption tax, fine… but it should eventually be phased out too.

    5.) Secure the border. If the Defense Department really needs something do, why can’t they defend our federal border from rampant illegal immigration? Immigration, particularly of educated individuals is crucial to our society’s resources, but that is a far-cry from the seemingly endless free-for-all occurring on the border with Mexico. If the Mexican government were ever to collapse, the U.S. has to be able to preserve its physical integrity. Entitlement programs in medical care and education that have an effect of subsidizing illegal immigration should be ended.

    6.) Allow the liquidation of assets to occur. If the banking industry, real estate industry, auto industry etc. don’t fail how can we ever rebuild on a better footing? We have to discover the price of their assets by rewarding the people who have saved their money. They are the ones capable of bringing on a genuine recovery and moral redistribution of wealth. What is occurring now is an attempt by the elite and politically-well connected to keep the status-quo afloat at the expense of taxpayers and responsible consumers. This process will undoubtedly be extremely painful. But quick and painful is preferable to slow and painful.

    The fact is for the last few decades we’ve been living in a fantasy world of cheap money, easy credit and an entitlement mentality. Thats NOT what this country was ever supposed to be about. We’re supposed to work towards lifting ourselves up so that the next generation could go even higher. Instead we chose the pleasures of today at the expense of tomorrow.

    We aren’t the first generation to ever act this way. Its something that can be forgiven and reversed if we are willing to endure the consequences of our bad decisions. There’s no easy or popular way out. Its time to freaking man-up and deal with it.

    At least thats the way I see it.

  • I’m usually just a lurker here and love The American Catholic writers and the in depth dialogue here – Thank you. … I can’t help myself in making this point to enough people… I believe the goal of Obama and whoever is behind him is to destroy this country and maybe that just means Democracy but I can’t help think it also includes Christianity.

  • Lee,

    I really hope you’re wrong.

  • I think it is inappropriate to accuse the President of wanting to destroy the country. After listening to similar accusations from Bush-haters for the last eight years, I think those on the right should be especially sensitive to this.

  • I don’t believe that the President intends to destroy this country. I think he sincerely believes that unprecedented deficits that our descendants will never be able to repay, an ever-expanding public sector, and enhanced government regulation are the path to prosperity. Truth to tell I would have more intellectual respect for the President if I believed that he did wish to destroy the country, instead of accepting the fact that he actually believes this snakeoil.

  • Lee,

    I would also caution against spreading that speculation. I’m more in the camp that Obama and his ilk are plunderers (cf Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged), and they simply think they can keep plundering the wealth accrued by our hard-working, industrious citizens indefinitely.

    Part of the problem is that there’s a disconnect between viewpoints on the right and the left. The ideas of how economics work, how to stimulate job growth, how to make sure everyone has his needs met, are so divergent there is simply no middle ground to work with. To this extent, both sides see the other as being completely disassociated with reality. Frankly, I believe most of these people who are willing to plunder our nation–and they are on both sides of the aisle–are the ones who are truly disconnected with reality. The plundering occurs to score political points, and those points continue to put a person in power.

    Now, I don’t really see what Obama gains personally by being president, except that he gets to be the one directing the course of the nation. Now, most people are drawn to one party or another because they believe that party has a particular vision that agrees with their own view (even if that party hasn’t held that vision since 1960). I think Obama truly believes there are huge injustices working in our nation. Ask any Democrat, and you’ll get that kind of response. In some cases, those injustices are completely valid, and Republicans are remiss in failing to address them. In other cases, those injustices are trumped up, or are infantile railing against the natural order of the world. But just because they’re trumped up doesn’t mean that the person advocating fixing those injustices knows it.

    Consider the plight of having extremely wealthy and extremely poor in our nation (though, arguably, our poor are wealthier than most “wealthy” in many third-world nations). Democrats view this disparity as coming from free market economics, a system that plunders the poor for the advantage of the rich. (I’ve argue long and hard with my sister on this point, and she won’t budge an inch on the denunciation of capitalism as personified by the industrial giants of the late nineteenth century.) Republicans view the disparity as being derived from government interference, whose subsidies and favoritism to lobbyists create situations and loopholes that permit the plundering to occur. I believe the disparity comes in part because the free market permits people to get rich by working hard (and often being in the right place at the right time), and permits people to be destitute by not working hard, or having the wrong ideas, or being in the wrong place a the wrong time. But I also believe that governmental interference with the markets by and large has permitted the grossest of injustices to occur. So when I see someone calling for more governmental oversight, more governmental interference, more governmental control, I cringe and feel that the person calling for this is either off his rocker, malevolent, or making power plays.

    But you have to understand, that someone working with that opposite viewpoint things the same about me when I call for deregulation, for tax cuts, for more faith in the market, and so on. When Obama speaks about the “failed policies of the past eight years”, I really think he believes what he says. That doesn’t mean he isn’t flat out wrong, but I think he’s honest about it.

    But I also think he is plunderer, in the sense that he feels the hardest working and most successful have an obligation to subsidize those who aren’t as successful. Now, Catholics believe that a man’s excess wealth should by right be accessible to the poor, but that can be accomplished in more ways than just handing money out. But there’s a big difference between believing there’s an obligation on the part of the rich to help the poor, and believing that a person can only be rich at the expense of the poor, and therefore should have his possessions forcibly confiscated and returned to the “rightful” owners, which I think Obama believes.

    Have no doubt–I believe Obama’s economic policies will do much to ruin our nation. But I also believe he feels he’s doing right. But then, I believe no one willingly does evil. They simply convince themselves that what they want to do is good, and then feel justified in what they do.

    Of course, you could argue that Obama sees the destruction of this nation as a good he is fighting for, but I don’t think there’s much justification for that.

  • “Catholics believe that a man’s excess wealth should by right be accessible to the poor…” – Ryan Harkins

    I disagree. I do not have such a low opinion of Catholics as to believe that Catholics approve of envy, theft, and ingratitude.

  • Micha Elyi,

    Of course Catholics do not approve of envy, theft, and ingratitude. The principle I’m referring to is when a man has more wealth than he needs, and the poor person does not even have the essentials for survival. The right to private property does not outweigh the obligation to work towards the common good, especially when one can deliver needed sustenance to those who would perish without. The Catholic church does not approve of theft, and many of the arguments we tend to have concerning social justice is whether, say, governmental taxation and entitlement programs are thinly disguised theft, or if they are true genuine charity, the option that is least bad for helping the poor.

    The problem that we face is how much wealth one can possess before any more is truly excess, and how little one can possess before it constitutes to a desperate situation that permits the usage of another’s goods in order to survive.

    Context, Micha Elyi, should help resolve what I’ve said with what the Church teaches.

  • This stimulus plan is the old “wrong execution of the right idea”. The
    righy idea being something is needed to “kick start” the economy after a
    brutal loss of confidence. But piling on more debt after execessive debt will
    not work anymore than giving a heroine addict more heroine.

    We must do what Kennedy and Reagan did. Cut Taxes!

  • Ryan,

    The right to private property does not outweigh the obligation to work towards the common good, especially when one can deliver needed sustenance to those who would perish without.

    I think you’re comparing apples to oranges here. It is precisely because we have a right to private property, that we have a moral obligation to work towards the common good.

    The Catholic church does not approve of theft, and many of the arguments we tend to have concerning social justice is whether, say, governmental taxation and entitlement programs are thinly disguised theft, or if they are true genuine charity, the option that is least bad for helping the poor.

    While the state has an obligation to insure the barest needs of the poor are met, even when the state does step in, it is not out of charity in any Catholic sense. The state is incapable of theological virtues as far as I understand it.

    The problem that we face is how much wealth one can possess before any more is truly excess

    In our economy, the excess wealth is that which one keeps in one’s mattress, or uses to buy yachts. Funds invested in the markets, bonds, treasuries etc. is not excess, it is actually “working”, it is providing the needed capital for job creation, manufacturing needed goods, and in fact funding social programs. There is such a thing as excess consumption. The beauty of the fair tax is that it taxes consumption, not wealth.

    and how little one can possess before it constitutes to a desperate situation that permits the usage of another’s goods in order to survive.

    If they have cable TV, DVD, a car, cell phone, MP3 player, etc… then… I submit that their situation is not so desperate.

  • Good post, Matt. I would add that a free society means that one is free to behave selfishly. The miser who shovels wads of money under his mattress and the big spender who buys more houses and yachts than necessary are both guilty of being uncharitable, but that does not give the state the right to take their property away. Characters like Paris Hilton can momentarily make a Marxist out of even me, but then I remember that there have always been rich people who choose to lead selfish and self-serving lives. They will be judged, just as the rest of us will be.

    If charity is forced, it is not a virtue. And you are perfectly right that the state is not in the charity business, but in the business of expanding itself.

  • Donna V.,
    I would add that a free society means that one is free to behave selfishly.

    Quite right, I meant to be suggest that, to the extent that the state is obligated to provide for the common good, that it should be funded from excess consumption rather than by reducing the capital which is the engine of the economy.

  • Matt,

    I think you’re comparing apples to oranges here.

    Hardly at all. The crux of the question is how much wealth is enough, and how much is too much (or excess)? At what point does a person have so little that he has a right to appropriate my property in order to survive? Private property and working towards the common good go hand in hand. The common good upholds the notion of private property (for a variety of reasons, like making our work fruitful, like providing for our individual needs so as not to be a burden on others), but that does not mean that private property is inviolable, either.

    But keep in mind that you’re making way too much out of my statements. I’m not in the slightest an endorser of the massive lot of entitlements the government keeps handing out. What I do endorse is understanding two things. One, we Americans have by far more stuff than we need. Just think of all the things that you could do without (and maybe should, since wealth has this nasty tendency to get between one and God (cf Luke 16)). Two, while investments are good long-term strategies for both making sure one is provided for in old age and providing jobs for people, there are plenty of people who need some short-term solutions just to make it to the long-term solutions. I would hope that these are apparent. The question then is: how do we best help those who truly need an act of charity to make it through the day?

    The Catholic church does not approve of theft, and many of the arguments we tend to have concerning social justice is whether, say, governmental taxation and entitlement programs are thinly disguised theft, or if they are true genuine charity, the option that is least bad for helping the poor.

    While the state has an obligation to insure the barest needs of the poor are met, even when the state does step in, it is not out of charity in any Catholic sense. The state is incapable of theological virtues as far as I understand it.

    Keep in mind I just stated what the dilemma was here, and not a solution. You have proffered an understanding of the government that bars any true charity in governmental acts. I would counter, reluctantly, that the government is made up of people who are capable of charity, and who often enough believe that passing laws to force others to subsidize the needy is the only way to provide aid. But I say reluctantly, because Donna states it correctly when she says: If charity is forced, it is not a virtue. But you have to understand where the supposed charity theoretically lies in the case of the government–it is supposedly (and I say supposedly because too often I feel the government entitlement programs have nothing to do with charity, and everything to do with political power) on the side of the government officials who are wresting the money from one person to another. The absence of charity is, often enough, on the part of the tax-payer, because their tax dollars are an obligatory contribution, not a gift.

    Of course, if we look at charity–the love and willingness to give of oneself for another (even a stranger) because of one’s love for God–then we see that the government official fails in part because the wealth is taken from someone else, not the official. But then, you have to understand that a case could be made that the government official’s giving of herself is the giving of her time and talent to craft those laws that wrest the money from the rich man and redistribute it to the poor.

    Now, if it seems that I’m wishy-washy here, or waffling, or whatever, it is because I’m just writing arguments. I’m not arguing one side or the other; I’m merely presenting other factors to consider. I don’t think my case for the charity of the government worker is at all compelling, but it is an argument that can be made, and to someone in power, is a good justification for enacting massive entitlement programs. (That whole fallen nature thing I’m sure comes into play somewhere around here.)

    If you want my honest opinion, it is that most government entitlement programs enable sloth, breed envy, and in general make the situation worse. The principle of: if you subsidize something, you get more of it is at play. Sometimes love for our neighbors has to be tough love, but the only way to know if that is the case is to be intimately involved with our neighbors.

    Just some things to chew on.

  • Ryan,

    Ryan:The right to private property does not outweigh the obligation to work towards the common good, especially when one can deliver needed sustenance to those who would perish without.

    Matt:I think you’re comparing apples to oranges here.

    Perhaps I’m misreading, but in my understanding you are comparing the right to private property with the moral obligation of that owner to give of his excess to support the poor. The first is a right, the second is an obligation which flows (at least in part from the right), it is not a question of one outweighing the other.

    But keep in mind that you’re making way too much out of my statements. I’m not in the slightest an endorser of the massive lot of entitlements the government keeps handing out.

    I recognize this, just seeking to clarity.

    What I do endorse is understanding two things. One, we Americans have by far more stuff than we need. Just think of all the things that you could do without (and maybe should, since wealth has this nasty tendency to get between one and God (cf Luke 16)).

    Absolutely, and with regard to “stuff” this is exactly the argument in favor of the fair tax, which targets stuff.

    Two, while investments are good long-term strategies for both making sure one is provided for in old age and providing jobs for people, there are plenty of people who need some short-term solutions just to make it to the long-term solutions. I would hope that these are apparent. The question then is: how do we best help those who truly need an act of charity to make it through the day?

    Principally by letting those who have a right to those investments determine what portion ought to go to charity, it would be for God to judge them on their culpability for letting greed interfere, secondarily, by the state acting as an emergency backstop to take by compulsion what it is absolutely necessary (all the better based on consumption rather than income)

    Matt: While the state has an obligation to insure the barest needs of the poor are met, even when the state does step in, it is not out of charity in any Catholic sense. The state is incapable of theological virtues as far as I understand it.

    Ryan: You have proffered an understanding of the government that bars any true charity in governmental acts. I would counter, reluctantly, that the government is made up of people who are capable of charity, and who often enough believe that passing laws to force others to subsidize the needy is the only way to provide aid….The absence of charity is, often enough, on the part of the tax-payer, because their tax dollars arean obligatory contribution, not a gift…a case could be made that the government official’s giving of herself is the giving of her time and talent to craft those laws that wrest the money from the rich man and redistribute it to the poor.

    Excellent! This is the sort of precision I like (I recognize that you aren’t agreeing with these arguments).

    1. government people are capable of charity – absolutely
    2. government people believe that taking from the wealthy to give money to the poor is charitable – absolutely, but they are in complete error on this (the crux of my opposition)
    3. government people are charitable when they give their efforts to taking from the wealthy – they are in error, particularly when they are paid, it increases their power or furthers their ideology. They may be charitable to an extent when they give of themselves as part of their work to aid the poor, and/or they sacrifice potential for private sector wealth by working for government (great distinctions have to be made here, as this may be exceedingly rare).

    My definition of “government people” extends from legislators, to employees of government and non-governmental organizations (as well as those who support such) who’s practice it is to expand the role of government.

    If you want my honest opinion, it is that most government entitlement programs enable sloth, breed envy, and in general make the situation worse. The principle of: if you subsidize something, you get more of it is at play. Sometimes love for our neighbors has to be tough love, but the only way to know if that is the case is to be intimately involved with our neighbors.

    Amen! The amazing thing is that true Charity has a much better impact on the reciever and the sender because it is not seen as an entitlement or taking but a gift of love.

  • Matt,

    Just to clarify:

    Perhaps I’m misreading, but in my understanding you are comparing the right to private property with the moral obligation of that owner to give of his excess to support the poor. The first is a right, the second is an obligation which flows (at least in part from the right), it is not a question of one outweighing the other.

    I’m viewing this more as a weighted scale than a comparison. Our first obligation is to take care our of ourselves, and we are not called to give charitably when doing so harms our ability to survive. But as we accrue more wealth, the possibility of a contribution harming said survivability decreases, and eventually vanishes (save for being stupid about it…). At some point, we have so much (think scales dropping well below the equilibrium point) that we have a graver obligation to use that wealth for the benefit of others than for our own concerns.

    So it really isn’t comparing two unrelated objects (in my mind, anyway), but trying to determine where the tipping point comes, and what should be done when the scales tip.

  • Ryan,

    Our first obligation is to take care our of ourselves [, our families and those we have a special obligation to], and we are not called to give charitably when doing so harms our ability to survive. But as we accrue more wealth, the possibility of a contribution harming said survivability decreases, and eventually vanishes (save for being stupid about it…). At some point, we have so much (think scales dropping well below the equilibrium point) that we have a graver obligation to use that wealth for the benefit of others than for our own concerns.

    Now we’re on the same page, the apples-apples is obligations, to our own vs to others. I agree completely. Of course, using our wealth for the benefit of others is not necessarily direct help for the poor, it can include hiring workers or investing in businesses that do so.

  • using our wealth for the benefit of others is not necessarily direct help for the poor, it can include hiring workers or investing in businesses that do so.

    I might add, that growing our business is not charity, even if it helps others. No matter how many people we help through employment, we have a serious obligation to direct charity.