Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Gimme Generation

Let's start with the idea of "there but for the grace of God go I" as recognition that the nation's economy is struggling. Looking at the country as a whole it is easy to generalize but when it is you and yours that are unemployed, have lost your house, or your retirement it puts a personal component on the discussion. So if this is happening to you, I empathize. I wouldn't want to be in that spot either.

All of this said, the election of Barack Obama seems to have culminated in a total loss of personal responsibility. We have lost our work ethic and our desire to improve. Life isn't about what we can contribute, it's about what we deserve; and fairness is about making sure that we get what we deserve.

For me, the view of the American dream has never been clearer. I grew up broke (not poor, just broke) in a single parent home. Once you were old enough to work, you did. College wasn't just a dream, it was expected. If you wanted to make something of your self you needed a good education. Settling into the 45 years of employment from college to retirement has had its ups and downs but through lots of hard work, long hours, personal sacrifice, paying cash instead of credit I've managed to find myself squarely in the middle class.

Having "arrived", I struggle with the sense that Americans are owed something and wonder why I should continue to focus on doing the right things ... making my house payment on time, saving for retirement, helping others, etc. ... when the government will support / bail out that those that don't do these things at my expense.

The government continues to grow and consume more resources. The President and President elect have either spent or would like to spend trillions on new programs that dramatically increase government control of our lives. The Social Security and Medicare programs are bankrupt and won't be there for the middle class when we retire. The only solution proposed by government is more government. The concepts of self reliance and personal responsibility have been totally lost to the Gimme Generation.

Somehow I'm pretty sure this isn't what the founding fathers had in mind when they dumped tea into the Boston harbor.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

You Can Always Serve as a Bad Example?

One of the things that President Elect Obama suggested during the election was that he had a great range of advisors to assist him once he became President.

During the first days following the election we are getting our first look at some of those advisors and from my view the area of advice that most concerns me are those focused on the economy. With great fanfare associated with his contacts to Warren Buffett, Paul Volkers, and Robert Rubin, you have to wonder how Jennifer Granholm fits into the mix.

For those of you that don't know, Jennifer Granholm is the current Governor of Michigan and is about 1/2 way through her second term. As a politician she represents the kinder gentler approach to politics that Americans claim to be looking for. Granholms tenure as governor can best be characterized as disappointing.

When Governor Granholm was re-elected in 2006, she did so with on the basis that the first term was not her fault and she had the ability to lead Michigan to a brighter future.

In 2007 Michigan was one of 3 states (Michigan, Delaware, and New Hampshire) to be in a recession. In October 2007 she led the enactment of 1.75 billion in new taxes. In August 2008 Michigan's unemployment rate stood at 8.9% (50th out of the 50 states).

These are not the kind of results that deserve to be rewarded by a leadership role in an administration that will shortly be trying to address the exact same issues for the country that Governor Granholm has been struggling /failing with in Michigan.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Taxation Update

It looks like Obama is rethinking (again) his approach to taxes. I noticed yesterday he'd updated (via one of his ads) the income limit from $250,000 to $200,000.

The problem with his changes on amounts is that it looks like: A) he doesn't understand exactly who pays taxes and B) that if he becomes President you can expect that number to continue to fall until he gets to the people that don't actually pay taxes today. If you are paying taxes today, you're not paying enough. If you're not paying taxes today, you deserve more from those who are. That would only be fair.

So what do we really know about Obama's tax approach?
  • Tax Increase ... We must repeal "George Bush's Tax Cuts". This has largely been portrayed as a tax cut for the wealthy but it actually spanned the entire population. Here is an interesting write-up on what really happened based on the "George Bush Tax Cuts".
  • Tax Increase ... The ideas we have for spending money on everything from healthcare to kindergarden far exceed the current income of the US government. So if we want all of these new programs we are going to need to pay for them.
  • Tax Increase ... We are going to cut income taxes for 95% of the American people. Since 40% of the American people don't pay income taxes at all and since the $250,000 number (and the associated 95% number) keep falling you can bet that if Senator Obama is talking, your taxes are going up.

I think I see a trend here.