(From The Stalwart Enterprise).
I, like many of you, forced myself to sit through the GOP debates last week, mining for a nugget that might give me the eureka-reason to cast my vote for SOMEBODY (Come on, fellas; give me something. You’re killing me, here.). Ever frustrated, I sank in my seat, while the candidates threw (verbal) spit balls at one another, trying to resist the urge to stick a pen in my eye. Then, while Romney and Santorum were endeavoring to put Newt back into his bottle; during an exchange that seemed like distant voices in a jell-o atmosphere, I caught the faintest remnant of a concept I might actually agree with. Somebody decided it would be unwise (un-WISE, I tell you) to spend billions, if not trillions, building a base on the moon. Halleluiah! It only took a blind-staggering economy on the verge of total shutdown, to make a politician think like a farmer at his kitchen table.
Now don’t get me wrong; I haven’t gone completely batpoo stupid. I know what a campaign maneuver looks like and I remain dubious as to whether these men believe a scintilla of what they profess, but the concept itself was good, and true, and pure. How about we DON’T spend anything more on goofy-assed projects, until we get our BUDGET to stop bleeding?
Wolf moved the debate on, yet I remained entranced with the idea that politics and the real world may have, however briefly, aligned right before my eyes.
I mean, we get it, right? Tell me please, that there’s a silent majority out there that understands that we have no room in the budget for vanity projects and hair-brained, expensive ideas?! The crowd certainly seemed fine with that assertion. I know I’m okay with that.
So it got me thinking. If we can acquiese on the practical steps to organizing a real budget, why can’t we discuss a few of these topics as well(?):
Taxes – There is an almost constant conversation about who should pay what amount of taxes. The rich don’t pay enough. The poor don’t pay enough. So-and-so gets a tax break. So-and-so gets a tax credit. Why do we continue to prop up the same amorphous monster that fails the stench test every time? Flat tax — reduces bureaucracy, eliminates loopholes, everyone contributes something. Fair Tax – eliminates the IRS, repeals the 16th Amendment, eliminates loopholes, rich pay more, poor pay nearly nothing. Pick one. Simple – done.
Stimulus Bills – Broad-based government spending sprees don’t stimulate the economy (big surprise). They are subjective and encapsulated and thus are too narrow to produce a macro-economic effect. The only stimulus package that would jump start an economy is one that would make every eligible worker a recipient of say $100,000. (This, incidentally, would have been cheaper than the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act.). Either get this money directly to the people so they can spend it or stop throwing it into the abyss.
Government Run Healthcare – This is another underfunded burden that cannot be sustained. At a time when Social Security is about to go critical, and our national debt exceeds our GDP, introducing another nationwide social burden is simply fiscal suicide. Contrary to political sloganeering, I think most of us want to see those who lack coverage provided with adequate healthcare. Insuring the uninsured is a conversation we could and SHOULD have. But we could do it leaner, smarter, and more beneficially if the government interfaced with the private sector and stopped trying to RUN everything. This is a shameless political power-grab.
Clearly, if we were discussing our family budget, this would be the occasion for the tighten-the-belt speech. It should be obvious to the thoughtful American that the fullness of our addiction to entitlements has put us in hock. Would that our leadership could stop promising the moon and make a sensible effort at delivering our children from financial bondage; that short practical walk but giant intellectual leap between perception and reality.
I love to hear Newt Gingrich speak. The guy is crazy-smart and has an immense capacity for statistical recall (I have purposely avoided using the phrase “factual recall”). He is sometimes eloquent, incessantly provocative, and often commands a point-counterpoint exchange with the skill of a field general. But for all his bonafides, in my opinion, he is an insufferable ego-maniac with an elastic sense of the truth.
As a former constituent of Newt’s ( I actually had about a 5min. conversation with him outside a dry cleaners one day. Well, mostly, he talked, I listened. ), I think I have a better than average idea of how he would lead the country.
I don’t have to tell you that he’s a political opportunist that co-opts every amp of positive charge in the room. If he SAW it, he lived it and thereby took part in it. Really? His recent recitation that he worked side by side with Ronald Reagan on supply-side economics, and the defeat of the Soviet Union, is loosely true but closer, in reality, to unabashed self-absorption.
He’s a man that cannot be wrong – he won’t allow it. I think this evolves from years of professorial freedom to dictate without challenge and, perhaps the unhealed wounds frome an ass-kicking or two in junior high. The proverbial monster created here is a guy with “grandiose” ideas, convincing enough to unbalance paradigms, and slick enough to simultaneously shed blame and claim credit. This is a consummate politician.
The Achilles Heel for Newt Gingrich will be the likeability factor for the independents, and the credibility factor for the conservatives. He is not a man possessed with an abundance of either.
(From: TheStalwartEnterprise.com. By: Phil Zieber): We love to bitch. That’s our thing. When life is bad at home or at work or in the car pool lane, we let it fly. But nothing burns us quite so much as when someone is caught succeeding while we flounder in misery. Disappointment? Depression? Nothing! But give us something to envy and there could be blood.
Well, so goes our relationship with the oil industry. Our passionate desire to hate “those guys” is beyond casual, beyond fanatical; it’s almost anger-lust. I mean, how dare those thieving pirates post record profits at a time when people are out of work? What gives them the right to jack gas prices up when our paychecks are shrinking – isn’t that against the law? They take our money, ruin our environment, and stick it to the little guy.
Even though I know that this will make me the guy in the bull’s-eye jacket, I have to say that I think we’ve been misled with regard to “Big Oil.” Yes, misled at best, and perhaps outright deceived by environmentalist politico’s and those ape-stank soldiers of the counter-culture, who would love so much to see us huddling in pelts round garbage-can fires, dreaming of squirrel soup and forgetting about civilization as we once knew it. Because when the facts are laid bare, and all pretenses assailed, the statistical evidence seems to indicate that we have a senseless ire about the most important industry in our collective, daily lives.
We need oil. And for those of you who mistake the meaning of that statement to imply that we are just addicted somehow, as if its consumption were in any way voluntary, I beg you consider that there are few things in our modern existence that don’t owe some allegiance to petroleum products; everything from make-up to plastics, medicine to synthetics, asphalt to underwear. Without oil production we couldn’t last a week before food prices would begin to skyrocket, along with gasoline, motor oil, lubricants and heating oil. A month hence would see world markets collapse, businesses bankrupted and closed for good, power blackouts, distribution networks exhausted, consumer goods out-of-stock, and massive, permanent unemployment. Machinery in every industry would be rendered useless. Lumber, essential metals, rubber and plastic would soon become unaffordable and then unattainable. Personal computing, the internet, even printing and paper – gone. Without painting the entire picture of Armageddon, suffice it to offer that life would get pretty bleak, pretty soon. (Oh, yeah, not to be the killer of all joy but, Ipads and Iphones would acquiesce to the abacus and an old tin cup. Sorry.).
The principle bitch, if I may stay with my thesis, is that there can be no excuse for extreme profits posted by this oil company or that. No, one, entity should make so much money, when there is a severe degree of financial lack among the world population. Where is their sense of corporate citizenship?
Here, the facts begin to dispel the myths. The oil industry sports perhaps the single largest workforce of broad-ranged job opportunities of any comparable industry. It employs hundreds of thousands of people all over the world contributing to nearly every economy on the planet. Occupations related to oil production have risen 80% since 2003. Not strictly white collar, and managerial jobs, but positions that range from field hands and roughnecks to chemical engineers and geological exploration crews, extraction, distribution, shipping and so forth.
As for profit; give this a thought. Picture yourself, fortunate enough to be the business that provides the single-most sought after commodity in the entire world. The demand is unparalleled in any industry and thus profits are near incalculable, but to imply that it falls in the pockets of a select few, or that the oil companies hoard it, suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of how corporations operate.
Cash and Cash Equivalents – as they are stated on the balance sheet, are separated into several cash and investment accounts, for purposes of security. That money is spent to strengthen the company in the face of any contingency. It is the mark of a prudent business to ensure long-term prosperity for their shareholders, employees and the ancillary businesses that depend upon their patronage (Incidently all of these are people who are recipients.). Too much of this is actually dangerous for a corporation, exposing them to hostile takeover advances that could enrich a weaker investor instantaneously. It is a blessing and, sometimes, a curse.
But, what about the price of gasoline? Aren’t these guys killing us at the pumps? For a comprehensive look at what makes up the price of a gallon of gasoline, please >>Click Here<<. Exxon reports (in 2010) that less than 3% of its earnings were from gasoline sales in the United States. In fact, based on sales per gallon in the last three months of 2010, for every gallon of fuel they manufactured in the U.S. they made just 2 cents per gallon. Gas prices are based largely on world crude oil prices which can reflect the confluence of ambition and temperaments of oil producing nations. A simple Google search of the OPEC member nations and you will find that many are professed harbingers of American antipathy.
The best way to reduce the price of gasoline at the pump is to depend less on foreign markets, more on U.S. development of domestic crude oil production and alternative energy. We have an abundance of crude oil within our borders, such that rivals even the Middle East, and can compete in deep water ventures with anyone on the face of the earth. When demand for foreign shipments of crude is reduced, the price will plummet ipso facto.
Now, of course, nobody wants to consider a refinery or oil derrick in their hometown, but in light of our economic circumstances, I suggest we take a lesson from the great state of Texas and rethink our prejudice. There are blighted areas in nearly every state (and many towns, for that matter) that could benefit from such an undertaking. Relatively few refineries and new drilling operations in the remotest locations could affect our anemic economy, in long-term, positive ways AND reduce the price at the pump. That’s money, in the pocket of the little guy, from profitable, multi-level corporations, in a relatively short span of time.
Finally, I guess we should address the gorilla in the room – environmental protection. No words from my mouth (fingers, in this case) could (or should attempt to) minimize the disaster that happened in the Gulf of Mexico. It was big; it was ugly, and it was expensive. As with any industry as heavily regulated, this one spends a lot of time and money trying to prevent the last screw-up from ever happening again. Take into account that we have had one disaster of this kind in the entire history of oil exploration and the case can be made that there is no indication of a developing trend. The oil industry gains nothing from polluting the environment as can be seen by BP’s $14 billion dollar investment in the aftermath of the Deep Water Horizon incident It is in their best financial interest to learn from past mistakes and to implement precautions that will prevent further accidents. To be fair, they have a history of doing just that.
I get it. There’s nothing sexy about the oil industry. It doesn’t proffer a suite of cool games, or flicker in pretty colors, or give us access to social platforms but we seem to have forgotten that it enables all those things — and extensively more. You may not like the whole business of pulling oil from the ground, but you NEED it. And you need companies that know how to do it proficiently, in the safest possible manner and, yes, even profitably. To pretend that this is not the case and to restrict only the United States is a naïve exercise in self-defeat.
I can’t help but think there ought to exist a prevailing wisdom that kicks in anytime now, to ally the rational entities of the world in opposition to Iranian nuclear ambitions. How could it be unclear, at this point, as to what Iran would do with the capability to wield an atomic weapon? As it stands, with collective courage lacking and while the great nations abstain, the hope for any kind of nuclear stability seems to fall upon the tiny State of Israel.
In contrast, the proponents of Islamic supremacy seem to have their message hammered out. Iran has a sovereign right, they profess, to pursue its own interests. The U.S., they argue, only wants to subordinate the Middle East to its colonial appetite. And, besides, Iran’s nuclear development, as stated by its guileless leadership, is purely a quest for the peaceful generation of electric power. – Please!
The Iranian design is manifest hegemony. The Islamic “Republic” of Iran is the brainchild of the former Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In exile during the reign of the Shah, he wrote extensively about the synthesis of clerical authority and political construct (the shi’a concept of velayat-e faqih, “guardianship of the jurisconsult”). Iran, although labeled a republic almost humorously, is a brickwork theocracy of Islamic ideals.
The Iranian constitution is awash with advocacy for Islamic domination of the world.
For example (emphasis added):
- “With due attention to the Islamic content of the Iranian Revolution, the Constitution provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the Revolution at home and abroad.” [Preamble].
- “In creating, on the basis of ideological outlook, the political infrastructures and institutions that are the foundation of society, the righteous will assume the responsibility of governing and administering the country (in accordance with the Koranic verse ‘Verily My righteous servants shall inherit the earth’ [21:105]).” [Preamble].
- “In this way during the course of human development towards perfection, each individual will himself be involved in, and responsible for the growth, advancement, and leadership of society. Precisely in this lies the realization of the holy government upon earth (in accordance with the Koranic verse ‘And we wish to show favor to those who have been oppressed upon earth, and to make them leaders and the inheritors.’ [28:5]).” [Preamble]
- “In the formation and equipping of the country’s defence forces, due attention must be paid to faith and ideology as the basic criteria. Accordingly, the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps are to be organized in conformity with this goal, and they will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world (this is in accordance with the Koranic verse ‘Prepare against them whatever force you are able to muster, and strings of horses, striking fear into the enemy of God and your enemy, and others besides them’ [8:60]).” [Preamble]
- “The Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran must be an Islamic Army, i.e., committed to Islamic ideology and the people, and must recruit into its service individuals who have faith in the objectives of the Islamic Revolution and are devoted to the cause of realizing its goals.” [Article 144].
Iran ardently purports to have never involved itself in the affairs of foreign nations, so as to appear less imperialistic than its rivals, yet even casual research exposes Iranian links to proxy organizations that act on its behalf. Assassinations, military operations, terrorist attacks conducted by Hezbollah, Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force in countries all over the world (including the United States) betray a firmer conveyance of foreign policy.
This is not a society based largely on benevolence and peaceful coexistence. It is devoted to the establishment of a world Islamic Caliphate (religious kingdom), with the Iranian Supreme Leader as master. Add strategic and covert nuclear arms to this equation and you have a dangerous Tolkienian facsimile.
Now the storm turns west. The Iranian government has been busy cultivating military and economic relationships with several South American governments – most extensively with Venezuela. It is not out of the realm of possibility, to imagine Iranian ICBM’s installed in Venezuela and even Cuba, if we continue to ignore the clear and present danger. Hezbollah training camps in Latin America are purportedly training operatives in Spanish language and preparing them to enter the U.S. posing as Mexicans, via the southern U.S./Mexican border. There are even strategic, near-term plans to deploy Iranian naval ships (ostensibly, eventually with nuclear weapons) to the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. Is anyone sufficiently freaked-out yet?
Like it, or not, America will be forced to contend with Iranian/Islamic expansionism at some point. It’s coming, it’s aimed at us, and many pre-confrontation components are already in place. The prospect of reaching a peaceful resolution with a caliphate government, intent on world domination, is nowhere near likely. The questions we must reconcile are at what strength we wish to engage it and, if we cannot find the courage to do it sooner than later, at the expense of which American city?