Views on the News
Views on the News*
April 23, 2016
After four years of Obama, America needs someone better than Trump or Clinton. “America is on the path to electing the most unpopular President since 1948.” 56% of registered voters see Democrat front-runner Hillary Clinton negatively. The least popular candidate is the Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, viewed negatively by 65% of respondents. Since mid-2009, voters have been consistently pessimistic about the country’s direction, with 60% to 70% of Americans saying the country is on the wrong track. The 2016 cycle began with many Americans feeling like the promise of the Obama era was never kept. There has been no grand era of racial healing; crime is on the rise in many cities. The future of the next generation seems ever shakier; will they ever find real jobs, pay off debt, and start independent lives? The world beyond our borders feels more dangerous than before, with European cities bombed while our President dances the tango. A politically correct thought police on campus, broken families, an explosion of addiction and suicide, it’s as if the social fabric unravels the harder we try to cling to it. Bad leaders and bad times probably create a vicious cycle. If you feel like America’s in worse shape than it was four years ago, or eight, or twelve, or sixteen, you’re probably skeptical of the next President’s ability to make it much better. A choice between Clinton and Trump isn’t likely to ease your worried mind. Is there any reason to think a Clinton Presidency would represent a big change from the Obama years? Maybe she’s a bit more hawkish than Obama, but she would still be the head of a fundamentally isolationist, anti-war party. She’ll maintain Obama’s policies if it means keeping her base happy. The prospect of electing Donald Trump to burn the status quo to the ground may ultimately prove even less appealing. If we basically know what we’re getting with Clinton, ugly as it is, we have no idea what to expect from Trump, a man who is all too eager to tell you what he thinks, even though he’ll likely think the opposite ten minutes from now. True, in this he’s much like Clinton, willing to say or do whatever he must to win. But Clinton has a basic policy knowledge, which Trump doesn’t even pretend to have. The Democrats appear hell-bent on nominating Clinton, and at this point, FBI Director James Comey has a better chance of derailing her nomination than Bernie Sanders. The good news for Republicans is that they still have a shot at beating her, so they just need to pick someone even a little bit more popular, which is not exactly an impossible task.
(“After Four Years of Obama, America Needs Someone Better Than Trump of Clinton” by Jim Geraghty dated April 21, 2016 published by National Review Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/434331/donald-trump-vs-hillary-clinton-impossible-choice )
The founding principle of American civics is that "we the people" govern ourselves. As self-governing citizens, we ensure that the government does not rule over us, but rather that it act under us. It is neither our parent nor our provider, but our subordinate. The government follows our orders. Our representatives represent us, not themselves, not their donors. Perhaps as a nation we never did fully achieve the ideal of self-governance, but at least it was always the ideal. It was a goal toward which we could strive, but that principle is now in serious danger. The ascendant ideal is that of socialism. Its creed can be summed up as follows: I am entitled. The government owes me a living. I have a right to free stuff. That, not social justice, not equal opportunity, not even black lives mattering, is at the core of the socialist movement. Socialism is on the rise, and its roots are sinking ever deeper into the social fabric. Education, entertainment, and even religious institutions are indoctrinating our fellow citizens. There is no reasoning with socialists, because when you try to speak, they shout you down, and that in itself is the harbinger of tyranny. As matters now stand, we are not governing ourselves. We are being ruled by a distant and largely unaccountable officialdom that operates mostly out of our view. This system is supported by a bloc of voters who are appallingly ignorant of basic civics. People who cannot raise their own children are allowed to vote, and the people for whom they vote tax you to pay for their children. Instead of complaining about our failure to govern ourselves, we should examine the possible corrective actions. First, it is necessary to restore citizenship to its constitutional roots. Birthright citizenship was never the bedrock of civic entitlement, but only one of several considerations. I am not suggesting that real estate is the foundation of citizenship. I would make at least one critical requirement for anyone to be a voter: every voter must pass the same test that foreign applicants for citizenship must pass. Presently, most voters would fail that test, many of them miserably. Citizenship founded upon basic knowledge of the Constitution would be a good start, and the rest might then, hopefully, take care of itself.
(“Can we really govern ourselves?” by Robert Arvay dated April 17, 2016 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/04/can_we_really_govern_ourselves.html )
One of the biggest problems with being conservative is undoubtedly the quite large and unfortunately influential demographic consisting of our lowest common denominators, in other words, these are not true conservatives who have a grasp on the meaning of conservative ideology. This demographic consists of the racists, the anti-government types, a number of them existing on the fringes of right-wing extremism. Liberals and democrats certainly have the same problem, however the DNC embraces the bottom of the barrel; for without those uneducated, uninformed, completely vulnerable to political spin, and lacking all capacity for critical thought, we wouldn’t see a democrat elected to office ever again. The DNC needs the very worst elements of their party in order to prevail. The DNC banks on the ignorance of their voters and have shown no signs whatsoever of making any kind of attempt at rectifying the stupefying ignorance awash over their own constituents. Conservatives meanwhile are crucified as a whole for the idiocy of our mouth-breathing intellectually challenged. We all suffer the repercussions when a white trash, ignorant racist eagerly steps in front of a live television reporter and provides what liberals might describe as an ideal parody of conservatism. The press loves to keep the narrative going that conservatives are nothing more than anti-science racists. Indeed, there is a wide intellectual gap between philosophical conservatives and some segments who routinely and even eagerly take to social media, or the nearest cable channel news interview to do conservatism great harm. The democrats are by no means lacking in the remarkably idiotic department. These same people are always the first to cast judgment on conservatives, completely ignorant of what the word even means or where it comes from. Completely ignorant of the great many who wish to see this nation and its people prosper; many would be surprised to know that, in the end, conservatives and liberals alike share many more common desires for this nation’s best interests than the media, our politicians, and “know-it-all” pop culture icons would have us believe. We all want what’s best for this country; we simply believe in utilizing different means to arrive there. The greatest harm caused by these intellectual disparities comes from the fact that, even our best candidates are cast in the same group as the dimwits of our party; worse, there are scores of GOP politicians who actually court these imbeciles. True conservatives will not hesitate in distancing ourselves and resenting those who may vote Republican, but for all the wrong reasons. Many have certainly not arrived at their unintelligible viewpoints through thoughtfulness; and, it’s often that demographic which is offered up to liberals or mainstream media, who then use our pariahs as representative of all conservatives. Democrat politicians, on the other hand, placate to their undesirables, as they have controlled, and benefited greatly, from the great many lunatics beholden to their party. We have a major problem on our hands with regards to the current electorate. Voters can be and are bought by the highest bidder. Politicians seem to have no qualms about courting the lowest common denominators of this country; however, with the widespread, disconcertingly common political ignorance so clearly self-evident, it’s not difficult to determine these voters, when united, have enough influence to all but silence those with any semblance of intellectual capacity. Voter ignorance seems to be a pop culture phenomenon, spurned on by unqualified, profoundly uninformed celebrity icons, musicians, models, and social media all-stars. This country’s basic fundamentals were framed for a people who valued staying informed; valued the ability to participate in American politics. Sadly, American culture has deteriorated to a point where those qualities citizens once possessed have all but vanished. Certainly, many thoughtful citizens have picked up that fading torch and work tirelessly to keep it aflame. We’ve reached an era in which candidates for President of the United States willfully appeal to the ignorant citizens; rather than seeking to improve the situation, it almost seems as if those in power feel no need whatsoever to address this issue with terrible implications for the future. As long as politicians placate to and encourage voter ignorance, and even perpetuate it further with the rhetoric all have come to know too well; the ad hominem attacks on opponents, many of which are completely irrelevant when it comes down to the big picture. So many voters are influenced by narratives which advisors and speech writers practically develop from scratch, utilizing polling data as vital research in their quest for the ideal message that might get their candidate elected. American voters are overwhelmingly unaware or willfully ignore the ugly truth about those they pick to lead. How does one “fix” a broken culture in full blown identity crisis? The breakdown in American culture, pride, and fundamental ideals which once united the country as a whole (across all demographics), is beginning to reach a fevered pitch; its time we elect leaders who will stand up and do something about it. It’s time we elect leaders to take action for this nation’s uninformed; and, instead of courting them with political trickery and condescension, perhaps it’s time for some blatant honesty. Repairing a broken culture seems to be an impossible struggle, but it’s a struggle that must be endured if there’s any true hope to keep this nation intact, just as our Founding Fathers had envisioned.
(“Ignorance: The Plague Facing Both Liberals and Conservatives” by Hans Comprix dated April 17, 2016 published by Intellectual Conservative at http://intellectualconservative.com/ignorance-plaguing-conservatives-liberals/ )
I’m starting to think the growing absurdity in our nation’s culture can be explained by a simple but troubling fact: Far too many people just don’t like who they are. They just don’t like their identities. Take Bruce Jenner, a man who won Olympic gold medals but ultimately decided in his 60s that he “identified” as a woman, and now wants everyone to call him Caitlyn while he struts around in a skirt. Take Rachel Dolezal, who became president of the NAACP in the Seattle area while claiming to be black. When it came out that she was actually Caucasian and just made her hair and skin up to look black, she was humiliated but defiant, and now she’s writing a book about racial identity for some reason. Take Senator Elizabeth Warren, who claimed to be part Native American, perhaps because that makes her part of a grievance group considered virtuous by the left. Sometimes we try to alter our identities in more subtle ways. Take Brian Williams who anchored the news, but didn’t seem to think that was interesting enough by itself. So he made up a bunch of nonsense that never happened so he could add to his identity: Brian Williams – swashbuckling adventurer! I’m starting to wonder why so many Americans don’t like their identities. Black conservatives like me often get told we’re Oreos, black on the outside and white on the inside, as if we were trying via our political views to somehow become white people, so I always smile and say no, I’m an ABC – an American Black Conservative. That’s my identity, and I can’t imagine trying to run from it. Far too many people are running from who they are, as if you can somehow escape from that. Some people disassociate themselves from their families. Some move to new cities and towns where no one will know them in the hope they can start over and create a new identity. Ultimately none of us can really change our identity, and it seems to me this nation is driving itself crazy trying to accommodate people who are on hopeless quests to do so. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and aggravation if you stop trying to change things that are unchangeable, and focus on what you can actually do. If you’re a man, you can’t make yourself a woman. If you’re white, you can’t make yourself black. If you’re 30 years old, you can’t make yourself 20, or 40. If you’re a politician who grew up in relative comfort with a stable family, you can’t make yourself a poor, oppressed minority from a broken home. That might make for a better story, but it’s not who you are, so just be who you are and work from there. Maybe this entire country has an identity crisis, and we’re going through insanity because we really don’t like who we are, so we’re trying to change it. Quit pretending and start living in reality! The whole country needs to do that, but I don’t see how we can do it as a nation if we refuse to do it as individuals.
(“End Identity politics: Do what you want, be what you are!” by Herman Cain dated April 17, 2016 published by Canada Free Press at http://canadafreepress.com/article/end-identity-politics-do-what-you-want-be-what-you-are )
For several years, the growing federal debt was ignored as the economic recovery chipped away at once massive spending shortfalls of $1 trillion or more. Now, there’s an uneasy feeling among many policy makers and experts that we are beginning to slip back into risky fiscal terrain. The last time the budget was in balance was in 2001, at the tail end of Democrat President Bill Clinton’s second term. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has issued several distress calls in recent months that the deficit is headed north again. We will return to another era of big deficits, CBO warns, unless Congress and the White House step in with some meaningful spending reforms. That, of course, means figuring out how to provide Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to a growing army of retiring baby boomers without breaking the bank. Today, we are mostly treated to political doublespeak and hypocrisy about the budget and the need to address a national debt that has reached an historic $19.2 trillion. That hypocrisy, being played out on Capitol Hill and on the presidential campaign trail, is driving budget and economic experts and average Americans to distraction. It is hard to miss the fact that Congress is once again so politically hamstrung that House and Senate GOP leaders threw up their hands and abandoned efforts to pass a budget for the coming fiscal year. There will still be spending bills, have no fear, but the thought of fashioning a comprehensive blueprint with a coherent and feasible plan for addressing the long-term debt is out of the question. Things are no better on the Presidential campaign trail where Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are promoting huge tax cuts that would add trillions of dollars to the national debt. Democrat Bernie Sanders is pushing an $18 trillion “Great Society” style spending agenda that will add many trillions more to the national debt, while Clinton’s adds $1 trillion in additional spending and could reduce tax revenue. While virtually all would likely say that the federal debt is higher than it ought to be, substantially fewer would trade current levels of debt for a Fed that passively accepted deflation in the wake of the financial crisis. Fewer still would agree that sticking to a principle that says federal debt must remain low would have been worth risking another Great Depression. Americans would be better served if our politicians paid more attention to fiscal responsibility and to the long-term damage excessive debt can do to the country, but these are hard and complex problems that won’t be easily solved.
(“As the Debt Hits $19 Trillion, Has the US Reached a Tipping Point?” by Rob Garver and Eric Planin dated April 15, 2016 published by The Fiscal Times at http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2016/04/15/Debt-Hits-19-Trillion-Has-US-Reached-Tipping-Point )
The Federal Reserve does not believe that the United States is a “bubble economy,” a combination of “clearly overvalued” asset prices, strong credit growth and rising leverage. This is the type of financial fragility that the central bank, with its vast research staff, failed to spot prior to the subprime crisis. The Fed’s definition of a bubble is too narrow. Bubbles are, in essence, illusions of wealth. The last two great bubbles, internet stocks and U.S. real estate, involved inflated asset prices. The current bubble is centered around liabilities, or promises to make future cash payments. The owners of these claims consider them part of their current wealth. The assumptions involved in calculating pensions are as flawed as the valuations prevalent during the dot-com bubble. The present value of a pension is arrived at by discounting future cash payments. As interest rates have fallen, this discount rate has declined, increasing pension liabilities. As a result, many pensions find their liabilities exceed assets, which is pensions-speak for “underfunded”. For instance, the current deficits of U.S. corporate “defined benefit” pension plans are estimated at around $425 billion, by Citigroup. UK and European corporate pension plans also sport large deficits. The aggregate shortfall of American public-sector pension plans, state and local government, is somewhere between $1 trillion and $3 trillion, according to Citi. The true extent of the mismatch between pension assets and liabilities is greater than reported. U.S. corporate pensions assume a return of 7.1% on plan assets. The assumed rate of return for American public pension plans is somewhat higher. The retirement industry will find it difficult, nay impossible, to achieve these returns. The U.S. stock market is currently expensive by historic standards, and expectations are that U.S. stocks will return minus 1.2% annualized over the next seven years. Government bonds in developed economies, sporting minuscule and in some cases negative yields, won’t make up the difference. Then there’s an issue with the discount rate used to arrive at the present value of pension liabilities. American states and local governments apply an average discount rate of around 7.5% to value these liabilities. U.S. corporate pension plans use a 4% to 4.5% discount rate. By contrast, the current yield on the 10-year Treasury is less than 2%. These “discount rates are totally unrealistic”, says Lees. If realistic discount rates were applied, pension liabilities would balloon. The adverse consequences of the pensions bubble are already evident. Several municipalities and towns, including Detroit and San Bernardino, have declared bankruptcy. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp, the quasi-state body which insures corporate pensions, has liabilities roughly twice the size of its assets and will run out of money in the next few years. Entitlements will have to be cut, taxes raised, and public services reduced. None of these actions will be popular. Pensioners and taxpayers are not the only stakeholders in danger. Moody’s points to risks to U.S. municipal bonds should the pension crisis persist. Last year, the International Monetary Fund warned that the European life-insurance industry, which also applies above-market discount rates to its liabilities in order to maintain the appearance of solvency, poses a potential threat to financial stability. Then there’s the impact on the real economy to consider. If corporate pension deficits increase, cash flow will have to be diverted away from investment. Uncertainty about future pension payouts may undermine consumer confidence. Underfunded pensions are only the tip of the iceberg. The liabilities from unfunded government pensions dwarf everything else. Citi estimates that pension costs for 20 OECD countries will come to $78 trillion in current money, which is nearly twice their aggregate reported national debt. There’s been a dearth of saving in the United States and the UK since the turn of the century. Interest rates provide an inducement to save, but zero interest rates diminish that incentive. Over the past decade, the net savings of Americans have averaged little more than 1% of gross domestic product. The collapse in the savings rate has been accompanied by declines in investment and productivity growth. All this means less money in the pot for tomorrow’s pensions. The gap between the belief in those pension promises and the ability to pay looks very much like a bubble.
(“Pensions are a bubble waiting to burst” by Edward Chancellar dated April 15, 2016 published by Reuters at http://blogs.reuters.com/breakingviews/2016/04/15/chancellor-pensions-are-a-bubble-waiting-to-burst/ )
In 1980, Ronald Reagan campaigned on a four point economic recovery plan. First, reduce tax rates, to increase incentives for job creation, investment, business start-ups and expansion, and wage growth due to the resulting increased demand for labor and increased productivity. Even liberal Keynesian economics holds that tax cuts are pro-growth. Two, reduce regulatory costs and barriers to business, which can act as further tax cuts. Three, reduce federal spending, to reduce the government’s drain on the private sector. And four, restrain monetary policy to restore a stable value for the dollar. After Reagan led adoption of those policies in 1981, by late 1982 the economy took off on what developed into an historic, 25 year, economic boom, which did not end until late 2007. The top tax rate of 70% when he entered office was reduced all the way to 28%, with only one more rate of 15% for the middle class. Inflation, which had soared to double digits in the 1970s, was cut in half by 1982, and cut in half again by 1983, never to be heard from again to this very day. Nearly 20 million new jobs were created during the recovery, increasing U.S. civilian employment by almost 20 percent. The U.S. grew by more than 3% per year [in real terms] from 1980 to 2007, and created more than 50 million new jobs, massively expanding a middle class of working women, African-Americans and legal as well as illegal immigrants. Per capita income increased by 65%, and household income went up substantially in all income categories. Ted Cruz is campaigning today on an updated version of that same four point economic recovery plan. His tax reform proposal would scrap the current income tax code entirely, and replace it with a Simple Flat Tax with the same 10% rate for all forms of personal, individual income. That same 10% rate would apply to wages, profits, capital gains, dividends, rent, and interest income. No one would be able to claim that billionaires are paying lower tax rates than their secretaries, or that the system is rigged to favor the rich over the middle class. The corporate income tax would be abolished, and replaced with a 16% business flat tax. That business flat tax would be border adjustable, which means all exports would get a tax refund for taxes paid in producing the goods, while all imports would be subject to the 16% tax in full. This would give American manufacturing a big advantage in all international trade. That business flat tax also would include immediate expensing, or deductions, for the costs of plant and equipment, and all other capital investment. That promotes investment in worker productivity, which is the foundation of rising wages, and in businesses providing good paying, blue collar jobs, like heavy industry, mining, energy, farming, ranching and manufacturing. Each worker would also enjoy a Universal Savings Account, where any adult could save $25,000 a year with taxes deferred, like in an IRA, which could be used at any time for any purpose. That means all savings for the middle class would be tax exempt. These two flat taxes generate enough revenue that the payroll tax, the biggest tax for the poor and the middle class, would be abolished as well, with Social Security and Medicare financed in full from the two flat taxes with no deficits. This tax reform is not designed to be revenue neutral, because Cruz is running to make government smaller, not to raise the same taxes to pay for the same spending. The non-partisan Tax Foundation scores the reform dynamically as a tax cut of $768 billion over the first decade. The Tax Foundation further scores Cruz’s tax reform as increasing capital investment by 43.9%, creating nearly 5 million new jobs, and growing wages by 12.2%. That would increase real economic growth over the next decade by nearly 14% more than under current tax policies. The after tax income of all workers would increase, by 21.3% on average. Even those in the bottom 20% of the income ladder would see income increases of 15.3% on average. Cruz would sharply cut back on regulation by repealing and replacing ObamaCare with Patient Power, consumer choice health care. That means both employers and individuals buy the health insurance of their choice, with no employer mandate or individual mandate dictating to workers and employers what health insurance they must buy. That deregulation would also include liberating energy producers to make America the world leading producer of oil, natural gas and coal. President Obama’s delusional global warming fantasies would be ended the same way the American people ended Jimmy Carter’s energy crisis fantasies, by voting Carter out and Reagan in. That replaced Carter’s energy shortage with over 20 years of abundant, low cost, oil, gas and coal production. America’s financial industry would be liberated to finance the new boom with both business and consumer loans, by repealing excessive Dodd-Frank overregulation. Cruz also supports the REINS Act, which would require Congressional approval for any federal regulation imposing more than $100 million in costs on the private economy. Cruz has also proposed specific spending reductions that would abolish four federal departments, plus the Internal Revenue Service, and 25 more named federal agencies, and other policies saving $500 billion over 10 years. He would abolish the Department of Energy, which President Obama has shown can be used to reduce rather than increase U.S. energy production, and the Department of Commerce, a hotbed of corporate welfare handouts to crony socialists posing as business moguls. Cruz would also abolish the Department of Education, which interferes with the education function properly belonging in our federalist system to the state and local governments closest to the people. Federal financial aid for education would be sent back to the states in block grants. Cruz would abolish as well the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has long been a hotbed of corruption, criminally prosecuted even during the Reagan years. This department has only managed 50 years of decline and fall for America’s inner cities. Its housing aid and other public assistance programs should also be sent back to the states, as part of a general initiative to return welfare to the states, which would save trillions more. Repealing and replacing Obamacare would save trillions as well. Cruz has raised as well fundamental reform of the Federal Reserve, to restrict its wild monetary policy discretion by firm rules holding its course to maintaining a stable dollar. He suggested a commission to determine whether that should include a link to gold. Such guaranteed dollar stability would further draw investment from across the entire globe, as investors would know they would be paid back in dollars as good as the dollars they invested. Indeed, as good as gold. Under Obamanomics, America has never seen a full recovery from the financial crisis, even though America’s historical record has always been the deeper the recession, the stronger the recovery. As Reaganomics proved, Ted Cruz’s economic growth plan is well-designed to liberate America’s economy for that long overdue jobs and economic growth breakout.
(“Ted Cruz’s Coming Economic Boom” by Peter Ferrara dated April 14, 2016 published by The Daily Caller at http://dailycaller.com/2016/04/14/ted-cruzs-coming-economic-boom/ )
There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news. I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning. Updates have been made this week to the following sections:
· Foreign Policy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/fp/policy.php