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The White House today, proudly announced that the Stimulus Bill and the funds disbursed because of it have created (or saved) 640,000 jobs.  The White House claims that this is based on some $150 Billion in spending, or, about $234,000 per job.  As a side note, they say that there have been $339 Billion drawn down from the $787 Billion Stimulus Act to date.

Let me get this straight.  First, we must assume that the Stimulus Act has actually been responsible for creating or saving 640,000 jobs.  Then we must accept that these jobs have been created by spending $150 Billion of the Stimulus Funds.  That works out to $234,000 per job.  Seems a bit much, doesn’t it?  I’m guessing the job holders aren’t getting close to that amount.  But wait.  The White House also says that $339 Billion of the Stimulus Funds has already been doled out.  So doesn’t that mean that each job “stimulated” actually cost $529,687.50?

Oh, I see.  Of the $339 Billion, over 10% ($35 Billion) was spent by the Department of Health and Human Services and was actually transfer payments.  And another over $30 Billion went through the hands of the Labor Department, and $22 Billion through the hands of the Department of Education, etc.  Transportation, remember “shovel ready” and “infrastructure”, got to spend almost $4.5 Billion.  Check out the list and see where your money went.  I don’t know about you, but when I see three times as much money going to the Social Security Administration as to Transportation, I start to think that there may be a bit of pork in this spending and maybe all the talk of “shovel ready” projects was a bit disingenuous.

Now if the government would send me $234,000 (or $529,000) I’d create a few new jobs right now and still have a little left over for my own entertainment. I bet you could do the same thing.  Am I the only one who would fire anyone who worked for me who spent $234,000 to create a $40,000 per year job?  Come to think of it, I do employ these people.  Think I’ll fire as many as I can next November.

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If you are still defending every action of our new President, you need to ask yourself a few questions.  First and foremost is this:  Is Mr. Obama living up to his promises, and, to his promise?

If you answer yes to both his promises and his promise, I think you are deceiving yourself to keep from being embarrassed for having been sold a bill of goods.  I think you are burying your head in the sand.  If you don’t admit that he has lied and broken promises, you don’t have to face the embarassment of having been conned.   If you believe he is living up to his promises, you are acting like Bill Clinton when he said that your answer depends on what your definition of is is.  Mr. Obama has clearly broken at least seven of his campaign promises.  You need to ask yourself why he would make each of these promises and then not keep them.  Two of his broken promises involved actions over which Mr. Obama has complete control and for which he can blame absolutely no one for breaking his word.

He promised to sign no legislation (that was not an emergency) without first posting it on line for five days to give time for public comment.  On the Campaign Trail, he read from his teleprompter on many occassions, “When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as president, you the public will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it, so that you know what your government’s doing.”  His campaign website stated, “Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.”   Here, he is in complete control.  He said this or approved it for his website.  It took him just two weeks as President to break that promise when he signed the Children’s Health Insurance Bill the day it was passed by Congress.  To my knowledge he has not posted any bill for five days before signing it.  I am not even sure if he has posted ANY bill in its final form, for any period of time, to the White House Website prior to signing it.

Is this just a minor thing?  Is it really important?  Obama supporters will say it is not, that Mr. Obama has commented on all the bills before signing and that is the same thing.  Not so.  This is important.  This is like buying a product that says if you don’t like it, you can return it for full refund in five days but then when you return it they say, “Sorry, we told you all about it before you bought so we didn’t need to honor our promise of a return of funds.”  In short, Mr. Obama bought votes with this promise but his check has bounced.

Of a similar nature, Mr.Obama said on many occassions that one major change he would bring to Washington would be to have the most transparent government ever.  And, this was not just a campaign promise, about which the Obama supporters like to say, “Nobody keeps campaign promises.  Everyone knows they are just speeches to make people feel good.  No President in history has kept all his promises.”   He even signed an Executive Order to make it happen, sort of.  Mr. Obama even said that the debate about health care would be in the open and televised on C-SPAN.  The fact is that most of the debate is in Congress and almost all of it is behind closed doors, and, for Democrats only.  But that is Congress, not the President, you argue.  If Mr. Obama chose to honor his commitment, he need merely tell Congress (and Mr. Reid and Mrs. Pelosi in particular) that he will sign no bill that is not debated with full committees, in public.  Simple.  Why has he not done this?  Why has he not kept this promise?  Is it that he doesn’t want the debate in public?   Does he feel it would reveal all the conflicts of interest for all the players (from both sides of the aisle)?

If you are an Obama Supporter and you feel this is unfair to hold Mr. Obama to this standard (one he set, by the way), then please ask yourself the following questions:

Did you distrust Mr. Bush because “he lied” about WMD in Iraq?  In light of Mr. Obama’s “lies” why do you still trust him?

If you were a foreign government and Mr. Obama promised to protect you, would you believe him?  How would you feel about that promise if he chose to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan?

If you believed his promise to post any legislation for five days before signing, why are you not pressing him to live up to his promise?  Why would you believe any other promise he has made?

If you believed that the healthcare debate would be broadcast on C-SPAN, are you not just a little disappointed in your President and Congress?  Why would you believe any other promise he has made?

If you believed that the Promise of Mr. Obama was great, based on his promises, how do you  feel now?  If he doesn’t stop breaking his promises, will he ever be able to live up to his Promise?

I was taught as a kid that it takes a lifetime to build a solid reputation for honesty and a single lie to tear it down.  If the people can’t trust what the President says and our Allies can’t trust what he says, what will be the result for our country’s reputation?

If you make excuses for someone who breaks promises, are you just as bad, or, just unwilling to face reality?

The following video from 1948 is amazingly current today.  It is worth your time (9+ minutes) to watch and consider.

“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have,” Gerald R. Ford in an address to a joint session of Congress on August 12, 1974.

“Don’t ask of your friends what you yourself can do.” – Quintus Ennius

“Real adulthood is the result of two qualities: self-discipline and self-reliance. The process of developing them together in balance is called maturing.” – J. W. Jepson

Today, reading Blue Oregon Blog, a Portland, Oregon based Liberal/Progressive blog, I was struck by a post on new taxation in Oregon.  In their wisdom, with Oregon’s unemployment at 12%+, Oregon’s legislature (large Democrat majorities) decided to impose new taxes on Corporations and “the rich.”  There is, in Oregon, a process where the public may accept or reject bills passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor.  If sufficient petitions are signed, the bill goes to a ballot.  Two such bills have inspired enough public outcry that measures have qualified for the ballot in January, Measures 66 and 67 which would confirm or reject the new taxes.

A large number of contributors at Blue Oregon have never seen a tax they didn’t like.  Kristin Teigen, one occasional contributor, wrote a post that supports both tax measures and basically uses the standard class warfare technique to say that those nasty corporations and “the rich” need to pay more – they owe it.  Her post is typical Blue Oregon stuff, actually not at all over the top, as many are.  The comments, though are what made me sit up and take note.  Even by Blue Oregon standards, the following comment by Natty Dreds, to the post, had me spinning.  Maybe it was written by a conservative who wanted to paint ‘progressives’ as true dolts.  Unfortunately, having read the site fairly often, I think Natty is real.  Judge for yourself. (bold print emphasis is mine)

Posted by: Natty Dreds | Oct 26, 2009 11:39:47 AM

We need to support these tax measures in order to fund the PERS retirement and health care benefits our public employees and teachers so desperately need. Government is big business in this state, and the only way to create good family wage jobs is through growth in government services. The private sector has consistently shown it is not able to deliver good paying jobs with adequate retirement and health benefits. And if we didn’t mandate minimum wages in the private sector we’d all still be making $5.65 an hour. Measures 66 and 67 are a good first step toward the type of tax policy that is needed to grow Oregon’s economy.”

govjobs

Remember, Natty, the government cannot give anything to anyone that they have not first taken away from someone else.  I DO HOPE her comment was a joke.

Two religions are sweeping the globe and gaining power and influence every day.  One is very old.  The other is very new.  They worship very different deities and gain their power through very different means.

ReligionPolitics

Radical Islam is pushing the extreme beliefs of that religion on ever larger populations of the downtrodden.  Where large numbers of people are dissatisfied with their lot in life, there is a breeding ground for radical islam.  Those who would increase the spread and the power of Islam use intimidation, terror, torture and other less than humane methods to coerce people to go along with their plans.  The end result, the radicals hope, will be a world without infidels, operating under Sharia Law and in which concepts like freedom, liberty, and individual initiative don’t exist.

According to Wikipedia, “A religion is a system of human thought which usually includes a set of narrativessymbols, beliefs and practices that give meaning to the practitioner’s experiences of life through reference to a higher power, deity or deities, or ultimate truth.”

Radical Environmentalism is the other and it is both a very new and fast growing religion.  I like the current Wikipedia definition of Religion.   To me, Radical Environmentalism and in particular, Global Warmism, are religions.  The Ultimate Truth of Global Warmism is this:  The earth is warming at a rate which will have catistrophic consequences to all life forms and the reason is an increase in ‘greenhouse gasses’ caused by human activity.  The end result of Global Warmism, its proponents hope, will be a world with significantly lower fossil fuel consumption, and all economic activity that has a significant “carbon footprint.”  The Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen will go a long way to determining how far this new religion goes.

I would argue that these two religions, not necessarily working together, but working at the same time, will bring an end to thousands of years of human progress and will result in a world dominated by Radical Islam with people enduring a standard of living equivalent to what existed in the dark ages.  As economies stagger under the pressure of regulation and restraint, more people will fall into poverty creating a new large base for exploitation by radical Islam.

For more posts on this subject, please go to Cap and Trade, Obama Un-American, Global Warning?

The following video raises some interesting questions.

Do the leaders of these two religions want to control the world so they can dictate the way we live?  Yes.

Do the leaders of these religions use peer pressure to sell their product?  Yes.

Do you agree that both are religions by the Wiki definition?  Do you agree that they are gaining power and influence?

Which is the more dangerous religion?

I’m convinced that those who are in favor of current efforts at healthcare reform are in favor of it for three key reasons:

First, they don’t trust big business, especially the insurance industry which has been made the villain by politicians in Washington, D.C.   Part of the distrust is due to the belief that most people in the insurance industry are out for profits and have no other concerns.  Part of it is because they see most in the insurance industry as rich people who have more assets than they do.   When politicians want something, they often resort to dividing up the parties and helping them to fight against one another.  It is easy to get a majority of folks to dislike and not care about “the rich” because most people don’t see themselves as part of that group.  It has taken very little effort to demonize the rich insurance executives and make people distrust them.

Second, many people see the current health care proposals as a way to get something for nothing. When told that the new proposals by both the House and the Senate will lower the cost of health care, most people want to believe it.  We all want to get something for nothing.  Unfortunately, the majority of the savings claimed by Congress comes from massive increases in the number of people covered by Medicare and Medicaid.  That means that medical providers will be forced to accept Medicare reimbursement schedules.  That will definitely lower the amount that medical providers receive but it will not cut costs.  Costs can only be cut by lowering what medical providers must pay to provide a service.  If a procedure requires a provider to buy a heart valve at a cost of $5,000, and, the government reimburses at a rate of $2,000, the cost is still $5,000.  The only thing that has changed is that the provider must find some way to raise the $3,000 it lost upon selling that heart valve to the government.  What happens is the provider must cut other costs (quality?) or charge more for other services (to private payers).

health_costs

This, of course, is closely related to the distrust of business at all levels due to the publicity of fraud by misbehaving companies like Enron.   But, it also reflects a desire to have things without the pain of having to earn them.  Many who like the current proposals for healthcare reform do so because they would rather not have to deal with the issue and don’t think they lose much freedom by letting their government do the dirty work for them.  It may be easier to have Mom wash your clothes and feed you but as long as you accept her free labor and the free roof over your head, you are subject to her rules. Like not having to be responsible for your own decisions on health, it seems so easy and giving up just a little of your freedom seems worth it.

Third is a feeling of guilt.  Most people feel that it is a good thing to be kind and helpful to those who are less fortunate than ourselves.  Typically, people do things to be kind to the less fortunate because they have a deep guilt and wonder why they are so blessed to have enough food, clothing, and shelter while many others do not.  Also, typically, Politicians like to assuage their guilt by doing nice things for the underprivileged using other people’s money.  Those who favor the current proposals want to use other people’s money to make life better for those less fortunate.  People who do not like the current proposals but who want to make life better for others resolve the conflict by using their own money to contribute to charities that help the underprivileged.

So, in summary, many people want to do good for others but they want to use other people’s money to do so, they are lazy and want the government to take care of them, they distrust big business and the insurance industry in particular, and they feel government control of healthcare will get them something for nothing. There seems to be a general feeling among the politicians who are in favor of the current proposals that these proposals will increase their power to control both the health industry and the dollars and votes that come with it.

You can see my post on Who is Against the Current Proposals and my analogy to the health care reform issue at the highlighted links.

In one of my next posts, I will make another attempt to give my plan to lower costs, retain or improve quality of care, and improve access.  In the meantime, you can read previous related posts herehere, and here.

Imagine you are attending a top ranked college.  You are nearing graduation and are about to be named Valedictorian of your class.  You have a grade point average of 3.95.  It wasn’t easy.  For four years of college, while many others spent more time on parties than studies, you stuck with it.  You went to all your classes and you studied for 10 hours every day, counting class time.  On weekends, you slept in until 8:00 a.m. but then you hit the books for most of the day. You did take time to run errands, take a walk in a local park, and write a couple of quick emails to parents and friends.  But, in your mind, school was your job and you were doing the best you could.

grades

In the frenzy of fairness and political correctness, your college, just a month before graduation, decides that grades are potentially demeaning to students.  In fact, there is a body of work that suggests that minorities are discriminated against and end up with lower grade point averages than majority students. Grading and graduation honors smack of class, and, they hurt the self esteem of those who do not score well on exams.  The college makes the decision to eliminate grades and honors at graduation.   You find that your diploma will read the same as every other member of your class who has completed the requirements for a degree.  An employer who asks for a transcript of your work will learn only that you passed all your courses. All your work will not pay off in better job opportunities.  If you had it to do over again, you might have just partied more.  What sense would it make to work harder if you could receive no external advantage from all that work?

The intended consequence is that kids feel less pressure and tend to have fewer self esteem problems, at least until they get out of school and meet a world where people compete for jobs, raises, and most other things.  Professors need only track students enough to ensure they have met minimum requirements to get credit for the courses they teach.  This takes stress from the professors and in the short term they are happy with the change.

HonorRollThe unintended consequence, after a few years, is that the college has a reputation as a party school and employers look elsewhere for talent.  Fewer students with ambition and drive consider the school since it will not provide them with the education they want, nor the opportunity to show future employers that they can compete well with others.  Professors are no longer stimulated by bright students since those students have all chosen to go to other schools.  Soon they don’t care about their classes or students and just resign to hold their tenure and benefits until they retire.  Ivy League Brown University, in the 60s and 70s was repeatedly ranked in the top 50 schools in the nation.  Since Brown’s 1969 decision to make grades for classes an option for students, Brown has steadily dropped in academic rating.  Today it is nowhere near the top 50 and is bested by almost every Ivy League school.

The same ‘progressive’ mentality that creates mediocrity in colleges like in the above example, aims to always make most people feel good. (Brown does claim to have the happiest students.)   This is what is behind a desire to GIVE everyone healthcare of equal value whether earned or not.  This is the attitude that says that excelling is being mean to those who do not excel.  And the attitude that says the rich should pay for the poor and the hard workers should carry the weak, by law, not by choice.

When healthcare is dumbed down by government control, we will lose much of the health and medical innovation we have now.  We will lose many of the brightest minds who will find other ways to be challenged than medicine.  And for what?  So that everyone can have the same healthcare (except the politicians, of course).  Or so that we can cover a few more people than have ‘regular healthcare plans’ now?   Many progressives will not quit until everyone is dragged screaming and shouting into a program that they will not use properly, if at all.

In nature for the past few million years, survival of the fittest has served the earth well.  Why do “Progressives” think they are so much smarter than nature and markets?  I hope that the politicians look carefully at all of the consequences of the current reform proposals.  They may succeed in gaining more political power and control, but I doubt they will accomplish many, if any, of the lofty goals they promise.  And I hope that what they do accomplish will not be at the cost of creating a mediocracy and losing freedom.

As Jay Leno would say, “What’s with Barack Obama?”  ” Look what he is asking Congress to do now.”

GIVING MONEY AWAY

He is proposing that we send a check for $250 to each of 57,000,000 people on Social Security.  Why?  Since the economy is in recession and there has been deflation for the past year, there will be no cost of living increase in Social Security payments this coming year.  Every year since 1975 there has been a COLA.  In Mr. Obama’s view, not having an increase in benefits is an unacceptable hardship for many of those on Social Security, Railroad retirements, and Public Retirement Programs.  The $250 would be about the same amount as if there had been a 2% COLA this year.

Mr. Obama doesn’t think the $14.25 Billion cost of this idea should come out of Social Security.  He isn’t sure it should be funded at all since that would mean more taxation which would be unpopular.  His current plan is to just add it to our already over One Trillion Dollar Deficit.

I really think it is strange that Mr. Obama doesn’t ask Congress to send a $500 or even $1,000 check to each of these folks.  I mean, $14 Billion* is such a piddling amount when weighed against a $1+ Trillion deficit that raising it by $28 billion or $57 Billion would hardly be noticed.

Any Congressman or Senator who goes along with this idea should be fired in 2010.

It is interesting that Mr. Obama and the Democrats in Congress are losing the Senior vote that is so critical to passage of sweeping health care reform.  You don’t think this could be an attempt to buy back those votes, do you?

* Almost the exact amount of the total state budget for the state of Kansas

I’m convinced that those who oppose current efforts at healthcare are against it for three key reasons:

First, they don’t trust government, especially the government living off of their tax dollars in far off Washington, D.C.   Part of the distrust is due to the belief that most politicians are out of touch with the real world.  Part of it is because they see most politicians as arrogant.  People don’t like being talked down to and they don’t like being told to do as I say not do as I do.  Why else would there be such momentum behind amendments (to HR 615) like the one offered by Congressman John Fleming of Louisiana and Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma?

Second, most see the current health care proposals as leading to a government takeover of our health care industry.

This, of course, is closely related to the distrust of Government at all levels but also reflects a desire to have control of one’s own life.  Many who oppose the current proposals for healthcare reform do so because they would rather have the freedom (and the responsibility that comes with it) than to be treated like children.  It may be easier to have Mom wash your clothes and feed you but almost every teenager longs for the freedom to move out of the house.  Like being responsible for your own decisions on health, it is not as easy but the freedom is worth it.

Third is cost.  The number one complaint with our current system is cost.  Most who are against current proposals are convinced that more government intervention in our health care will drive prices up, not down.  These people believe that Government mandates on health insurance providers have added big costs to individual health care bills.  They believe that a big percentage of the cost of Medicare and Medicaid are transferred to the private sector.  When Medicare, for example, pays only 40% of the standard fee for an x-ray, the remaining cost of the procedure is passed off on the overhead of the care giver.  That increase in overhead is recaptured by raising costs for private payers.  Most who oppose the current proposals for healthcare reform also believe that government is inefficient and pays more in total costs for almost everything it buys.  For example, take the famous mythical “$600 hammer” (see here a piece that says there is no such thing as a $600 hammer), but it does point out how many costs government builds into anything it buys) .  The government buys the exact same hammer that you can buy at your local hardware store for $30 but it pays $84.  Part of the additional cost goes to compensate the provider for qualifying the hammer for military specs.  Part goes for the cost to become a government contract seller.  Part goes to all the additional overhead the manufacturer needs to support the paperwork and record keeping to make the sale.  Then there are the costs for the government buying machine.  There is the cost of the number of people and the systems that require 20 pages of forms be filled out to bid on the sale of the hammers.  Then there is the office space and communications and the management of the buying offices.  In short, most who oppose the current healthcare proposals feel the government is not capable of keeping a budget and would drive prices higher and faster than even our current system.

So, in summary, many people fear a loss of freedom, distrust their government, and feel government control would drive prices up faster than is currently the case. There seems to be a general feeling among those opposed to the current proposals that there are better ways to lower costs and improve access to healthcare but these better ways fail to deliver more power to politicians, so they are ignoring them.

In the next week I will have at least two more posts on this subject.  One of the posts will discuss Who is in Favor of the current proposals for health care reform and why, and, the other will give an analogy to the current proposals for health care reform that are working their way through Congress.

After those two posts, I will make another attempt to give my plan to lower costs, retain or improve quality of care, and improve access.  In the meantime, you can read previous related posts here, here, and here.

Conspiracy theorists will say that the FTC is paying back the mainstream media for all its one-sided ‘reporting’.  How better to help your friends in the media than to issue “guidelines” that require your competitors to jump through hoops that you are not required to negotiate?  What on earth am I talking about?

Monday, the FTC issued guidelines for disclosure requirements for product reviewers.  In short, the guidelines say that bloggers who receive free product to review it must disclose that fact.  A mainstream media ‘journalist’ need not reveal the free gift.  For a more complete article, go to: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=114860

honest_product_reviews_blogI am trying my best to understand the FTC’s conclusion that a gift would materially effect the impartiality of the blogger but not the ‘journalist’.  Can anyone explain the logic to me?  Oh, by the way, the FTC did conclude that if you buy a product or service, with your own money, and write a product review on line, you will not be considered to be providing an endorsement.  Whew.  I thought maybe the FTC was going to repeal the 1st amendment.

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