Archive for the ‘finances’ Category

How much of my money doesn’t belong to me? How much of the money I earn with my own two hands should be used to fund someone else’s retirement? Or their health care? Or anything for anyone, without my approval?

Has anyone who advocates for any government welfare program ever considered that maybe, just maybe, people would be more charitable if they got to keep more of their money? I bring home $490 out of my check every week. I send $110 every week to the government under the agreement that that money will help pay for the defense of this country, my health care when I’m old, and my retirement.

Instead, that money is used for unconstitutional nation building, other people’s health care, and other people’s retirement. Social Security trust fund? Doesn’t exist. A doctor that accepts Medicare or Medicaid? Fewer every day. Defending the country? Sure, if you count wars against countries which have done nothing to us and assassinating American citizens without a trial defending our country.

The plain truth is that anyone, including the government, that claims a stake on my money without my having voluntarily given it, is claiming a stake on a piece of your life. That equates to slavery. 

Every man is free to pursue his own selfish ends so long as he doesn’t infringe on or impede the right of someone else to do the same.

On Twitter today, white house press secretary Robert Gibbs (@PressSec) answered some questions from the twitterverse. One question was raised about the recent Bush-era tax cut extension congress recently passed. The question: “Why does your admin continue to lie that tax cuts cost $$$? You can’t spend money you don’t have.”

The tax cut extension recently passed by congress, which also contained an extension of unemployment benefits, is expected to add over $800 billion to the deficit, which is what Secretary Gibbs refers to in his reply: “Regardless of your views, you have to admit extending tax cuts above $250k adds to the deficit”.

Actually extending cuts above $250k is only a small piece of the $800+B pie. And, Mr. Secretary, if the government wouldn’t spend more than it takes in, the cuts wouldn’t add one red cent to the deficit. 

Consider your household budget. When planning your budget for the next month, do you plan to spend more than you earn? Or, if you see that you’re on track to do just that, do you cut unnecessary spending? Well, from personal experience, I cut unnecessary spending.

So what could government stop/cut funding for in order to “pay” for these tax cuts? First, stop funding the war on drugs. Criminalizing an activity that harms only the user puts all the power in the hands of gangs & drug lords. Am I saying it’s ok to do drugs? Of course not. But I do believe each individual should be allowed to decide what to put into his/her own body.

We could also close many of the military bases we have in over 160 countries. Why do we task ourselves with the responsibility of defending nations that can defend themselves? Countries like Japan, South Korea, Germany, just to name a few. 

There are many other cuts that could be made, but you get my drift. The fact is, thanks to the tax cut extension, there will be over $800B that will be able to be spent/invested/saved which will better help to jump start the economy more than the ill-advised trio of stimuli (which started with Bush 43).

Any questions? Class dismissed.

Isn’t funny how people can figure out what kind of person you are, how you grew up, etc just from one political comment? It’s uncanny how accurate they are!

For example: during the 2008 presidential campaign I made a comment on a blog on Myspace that I didn’t support Obama because I don’t agree with his stance on several issues (for the record I supported Ron Paul. When he didn’t get the nomination, I voted McCain *ugh*). Well this one reader of the blog took it upon herself to call me out. And rightfully so. I never would have seen the light if not for her.

Turns out it wasn’t because I believed in a different political/economic ideology because of all the research I had done up to that point. No, it was because I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I’m rich, have had everything handed to me on a silver platter, and I don’t care about the little people or those that are suffering.

How very accurate! At that point, I dropped to my knees & prayed for the Lord to forgive me for my sins!

Ok, if you’re not getting the sarcasm by now, seek help. Also, read on to learn about my childhood.

I was born in 1979. If I remember the story correctly, I was 2 or 3 weeks premature (got my picture taken with Miss Tennessee, though, so it was worth it). I spent a couple weeks in an incubator because my lungs were underdeveloped & I would forget to breathe.

My dad, albeit jokingly (I hope), has credited my hospital stay as part of the reason my parents filed bankruptcy (also, the economy sucked back then, too). I vaguely remember living in a trailer in the middle of town, briefly. When I was 4, we (me, Mom, Dad, & my brother) moved in with my grandparents, who lived in a very, very small house. 

There was a living room, kitchen, (I think) 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom…for 6 people (was used for several more when Dad was raised there. Big family). I didn’t care how big it was or the condition it was in (the uneven floor made roller skating, in one room, easy). 

I didn’t realize it at the time, but Mom & Dad took out loans for a Christmas or two, just so me & my brother would enjoy it (I miss my little yellow 4-wheeler). We never wanted for anything. We had clothes, a roof, loving parents, food…but we were far from well-off.

I made friends at school & little league. I fought with my brother. Got in trouble. Blah blah blah.

Am I leaving some stuff out? Yeah. But you won’t get my life story here.

My point is: don’t think you know someone from one comment they make about anything. I have friends who make racist jokes. Are they racist? No. Insensitive, maybe, but not racist. I have friends/family who are Democrats. Are they facist, socialist, commie pigs? Of course not. Though we disagree politically (which makes for great conversations), we know we are both good people. We’ve just had different life experiences that led to different conclusions.

So obviously I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Things aren’t handed to me on a silver platter. I’m most definitely not rich (I’ve been unemployed for 11 months now). I do care about the poor, which I am, and those that are suffering. I just believe a truly free market is the way to promote income mobility & alleviate suffering. Will there be assholes who take advantage of the disadvantaged in a free economy? Of course. But the market, IMO, would deal with them. 

Yes, Ayn Rand is the source of my main belief that “Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.” (from The Ayn Rand Institute). This belief fuels my other beliefs.

In conclusion: I am not a Godless heathen who cares only about himself. I am a God-fearing man who believes rational selfishness and adherance to the truth benefits everyone, not just the one. For future personal attacks on me, please refer to this post before being an anonymous hit-and-run commenter.Haters

When did it become wrong to believe in individual people and right to believe in collectivist governments?

I know many people don’t like Ayn Rand or her philosophy (which was partly too difficult for even her to live by), but she had the right idea: keep governments out of private business. That’s the way the country was run for a long time.

Cut to today. Now we have big corporations (not all, but some), lobbyists, & special interests that have politicians in their back pockets. Case in point: the NRA. They recently pledged support for a campaign finance reform bill after being awarded exemption from the new rules through a provision they authored (see my previous post: Special Interest & The Government).

Google & Verizon recently published what they believe should be the guidelines for regulating the internet…rules that would hinder their competitors. Even the FCC, which is in favor of internet regulation, came out against these guidelines, as did a huge swath of the internet community.

This may seem like a rant against business, but it’s not. It’s a rant against government & businesses getting too cozy. When the government picks the winners, the populace loses. Look at the current “Summer of Recovery”: 9.5% unemployment, 131,000 net jobs lost last month (though the private sector has decreasingly added jobs every month this year), GDP growth that gets revised downward more often than not, etc. And this is after the trillions of taxpayer dollars that were pumped into certain companies, banks, and government departments to stop the downward economic spiral.

So where’s the recovery? Most major downturns are followed by quick recoveries. Look at the depression of 1920-1921: tax cuts, spending cuts, and some other noninterventionist policies paved the way for the roaring 20s. By contrast, the Great Depression lasted over a decade despite (because of) government interference, and unemployment didn’t see a sharp decline until America got into WWII & the draft was instituted.

Empirical evidence shows the less government interferes, the faster & more sustainable the recovery. Governments picking winners & losers means everybody loses.

Got off on a tangent there. You’ll see that happens a lot. Anyway, my point is that anybody that believes in giving power to the individual to do what he wants, with the caveat that he harms no one other than himself, is now considered an extremist.

Belief that we are free to live our lives our way, again- harming no one other than ourselves, instead of the government proclaiming how we should live is a crackpot. Not giving us control over our own bodies, what goes in our bodies, what happens in our bedroom, who we take to our bedroom (consensually and both being of legal age), how we spend our money, what we buy…these are a few examples of how government interferes with our lives. And we’re crazy because we want to take responsibility for our own lives & not have that responsibility taken away by government?

Then call me crazy.

Federal law trumps state law when explicitly granted that authority under the constitution. What the feds ain’t granted, is granted to the state.

Do federal & state laws overlap? Yep. For example: the federal government set a minimum wage (which was recently raised). Several states also have minimum wage laws. But according to the Department of Labor, whichever of the two is higher is the one the state must abide by.

But here’s the caveat: nowhere in the Constitution does it say the federal govt has power over how much pay we receive. So under the 10th amendment, shouldn’t the state minimum wage trump the fed’s?

The same could be said for several federal laws (the recently passed healthcare law comes to mind), but we have to start small. End the federal minimum wage law.

Why is it so hard for people to see the government’s culpability in rising healthcare costs? Is it because they don’t wanna see?

Consider this: by the White House’s own admission, the government controls $.49 of every $1 spent on healthcare thru Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs. Medicare & Medicaid reimburse physicians at lower rates than private insurers. Lower reimbursement rates lead doctors to increase costs to private insurers to make up the difference. Increased cost to private insurers lead to increased rates for consumers.

Again, why is it so hard for people to see this simple logic? The thought that more government control over healthcare will lower costs is counterintuitive.

So, all the talk about extending unemployment benefits lately has got me thinking. Instead of extending the benefits for everyone receiving them, why not just extend the benefits for those who have secured a job but don’t start immediately?

All extending the benefits for everyone does is subsidize a nonproductive sector of the country. It continues to discourage those people from looking for a job, keeping unemployment numbers at inflated rates. If people knew their benefits would expire, they’d search for a job day in & day out.

Now before you go thinking I’m just a callous, cold-hearted SOB, you should know I’m one of those poor unfortunate souls currently collecting unemployment. I lost my job September 18, 2009. I make enough with my benefits to get by. What incentive do I have to search for a job if my unemployment benefits keep getting extended?

Luckily, I have a job lined up that starts a few months from now (between June & Dec). I have a contact in a high place that has more or less told me I have a job when he starts hiring.

But I still will have been unemployed for at least 9 months, maybe longer) by the time I start. I will still be collecting unemployment by the time I start working again. I have no encouragement to look for a job to hold me over till my friend calls.

Sure, there aren’t as many companies hiring as there were three years ago. Yeah, it’ll be harder for those looking to find a job. But extending unemployment benefits is not the way to encourage them to look or to encourage companies to hire (the latter is a subject I won’t look into here, but there is a way to do it that isn’t happening).

I’m not saying end the benefits immediately for those currently receiving them, only that they need to be allowed to expire.

Update: 4/13/2010: Found out yesterday that I exhausted my benefits a week too late to qualify for an extension. Despite my feelings on extending unemployment benefits, I couldn’t help for my initial reaction to be one of contempt for congress (both sides) not passing an extension before they recessed for Easter holiday.

But then I reminded myself of what I wrote in this post. I stand by what I’ve written. Although this will be a difficult period for me, I will get through this. I have a tremendous support system in my family & friends.