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Monthly Archives: November 2015

My Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Race

My Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Race

PART 4

Socialism and My Final Conclusions

By the way, I fairly recently watched the first Democratic debate on television. Most of this blog was written before the debate. With a very few exceptions, it’s clear from this “group” of democratic candidates that we’re headed as fast as we can toward a socialist government. Because of this debate and for my own benefit and maybe yours, I did some (non-exhaustive) research on socialism, primarily in Europe.

SOCIALISM

I’m not an expert but I’m working on it. In my view, socialistic, mostly European, countries are not economic miracles, with the slight, temporary exception of Finland.

Sweden. The income tax in Sweden is 57% but can actually go up to 100% if you’re a property owner, like a rancher or businessman. Sweden also has a huge national debt. It is being said that because of Sweden’s declining oil revenues and alarming Islamic immigration, the welfare system will collapse. It is also widely written (I’ve read some European on-line sources)that the increasing popularity and dependence of the Swedish population on a social security culture (just what it says, not our Social Security system) is eroding a culture of individualism, a strong work ethic, a virtual 100% Protestant population, and self-reliance. This erosion will certainly cause the welfare state to collapse. It’s funny, isn’t it, that Sweden, like most of Europe, can handle adversity but can’t handle diversity?

My research indicates that Sweden is edging closer to being a country that assumes the state knows best and will increasingly block free enterprise. Sweden, like much of Western Europe, enjoyed the fruits of capitalism following the end of WWII. European states, like Sweden, were successful countries. A buildup of the welfare state such as we see today, however, has gradually changed Sweden’s cultural identity. It seems that a natural human tendency to rely on someone else doing things for them is taking over. I am particularly speaking about Scandinavian countries because I’ve done some research on them. I think, however, that all of Western Europe is headed this way or has already arrived. Look at Greece, who hasn’t come up with anything in 5000 years except a salad.

Norway – Norway’s individual income tax rate is about 48% but other taxes include a VAT (25%) plus a tax on net wealth and environmental taxes. I admire Norway’s long range national plans to change their economy from oil-based to other forms of income. They’re taking the long view. However, Norway is also succumbing to both the siren song of the welfare state and the burden of Islamic immigration, bringing in cultures that are totally alien to the successful economies that grew in the post-WWII period (see Sweden above). A large influx of immigrants will overcome the welfare state and the culture. Norway’s only hope is what a retired Norwegian general once told me: “Bob, cold is our friend. No one else can live and fight here.”

Denmark – Another prominent socialist country is Denmark (one of the highest income tax rates in the world (56%), lots of very small businesses). I recently read an article in Business Insider called:   Free Universities and No Student Loan Debt is Hurting Denmark’s Economy. To extract a quote from the article: “…it’s become a free lunch that’s giving indigestion to Scandinavia’s already weakest economy.” I’ll summarize other thoughts in the article that illustrate what many in the U.S. fear is coming to pass here. Danish students are studying to become saxophone players, for example, where courses are free and they are receiving about $1100 a month stipends. Universities have top-heavy enrollment in arts and humanities studies. A poster-boy in Denmark, known as “lazy Robert”, is now 45 years old and studying social sciences, philosophy and Chinese. He states that he prefers living off social benefits rather than taking a job he doesn’t find “meaningful”. Danish industry is attempting to make science and engineering courses more attractive but it’s not working. Is this what Bernie is pointing to and admiring? Bernie, Bernie!

One of my favorite stories about Denmark is that they have the highest amount of wind-powered electrical generation in the world. But, you know how many nuclear and fossil fuel generators they have been able to shut down? None. When the wind stops blowing, they have to have all these other generators running. Maybe we should understand this. Do we all understand that the technology to store large amounts of electricity doesn’t exist?

Finland – They have free education, are egalitarian, have a 100% literacy rate and a 51% income tax rate. The typical high end job is woodcutter (I made that one up). Let’s all go live in Finland.  Except the collapse of the timber industry and Nokia have Finland’s future beginning to look like Sweden. Timber and pulp production have moved abroad. Microsoft, who bought Nokia, has now abandoned Finland. Now people in Finland are saying that early retirement should end and maternity support is too generous (gulp!). It was not entirely Finland’s fault, but they weren’t prepared for the future and globalization.

Canada – A socialist country and not a bad place to live but their free medical care system is beginning to fail and you’d better live in a big city if you want government benefits. Income tax differs in the provinces but typically is graduated from 15% to about 30% depending on income. It’s hard to equate Canada to the U.S. because of the huge difference in population. Canada’s latest election put Justin Trudeau in office. It seems he has planned a $10 billion deficit spending stimulus but most people ask what effect this would have on Canada’s $2 trillion economy.

Belgium – their social security welfare system causes much of the country’s budget deficit and is beginning to be a burden. Income tax rate is graduated from 25% to 50%.   Belgium is trying to come out of the recession and is looking at VAT, environmental and consumption taxes to help.   Belgium’s debt is expected to reach 107% of GDP in 2016. This is in the stratosphere. Arlyne and I traveled to Belgium. It’s not a bad country, particularly when the government supplies old school buses around the city where drug users can get free drugs and smoke or inject them. They just stay in the bus until they can navigate to where they live. Policies like this and Islamization may well overwhelm Belgium as well. I don’t think the country can sustain itself for the next generation.

New Zealand – Officially a free market country now but their welfare system offers support for housing, health care, unemployment, child care, and education. Income tax rate is graduated from 10.5% to 33%. It’s considered a poor country. I lived there for a year and I believe much of the welfare money goes to the native Maori people, but I’m not sure. According to what I’ve read, NZ elected a center-right government in the 80’s that reduced taxes and reduced the size of government. It has a robust geothermal power industry, great tourism and huge farming industry. I wish I had gone to live there when I was in my 30’s or 40’s. The saying around New Zealand is that terrorists come here on vacation.

China – The government manages and controls the economy. Many companies are owned and run by the government. Income tax rate varies from 3% to 45% but it’s a bit complicated. It’s felt that life in China is more relaxed and less stressful than the U.S. However, you’d better not be a dissident. China executes more people than the rest of the world combined.  They persecute a number of minorities and religious organizations. I sincerely hope we don’t model our country on China.  It seems that China is having several problems that they have never tried to solve, like pollution, an aging population and large spending on military. I also think China’s attempts to solve their country’s problems are typically simplified, knee-jerk reactions. If their population was not as compliant as they are, after decades of totalitarian rulers, this country would not be doing well at all.

Therefore: Most European (and other socialist) countries are judged by how great their welfare system is. That’s pathetic. None of these countries has any defense spending to speak of (perhaps Canada and Norway) so they can spend large on welfare. I hope no other countries have to defend them, but I know better. I believe that in small countries, welfare “free loaders” exist but in a much larger country like the U.S., the ”free loader” problem is magnified, much more visible and harder to manage. However, if I was an illegal immigrant, I wouldn’t go to small European countries…..I’d hold out for the U.S. I could hide in the larger geography.

I could go on and on but this seems to be enough. Many of you probably couldn’t get through all four parts. That’s fine. I may change my mind before this election cycle is over anyway but there are a few candidates I won’t vote for no matter what. I did vote for a third party candidate once and then I found out he was an idiot.

I really did want to take on the biases of the media but they’re too powerful for me, so here’s my “final answer.”

FINALLY FINAL SUMMARY RESULTS.

If you’ve read this far, here is my personal, biased, partisan summary.

Ta Da – My List of Presidential Candidates in the order I would vote for them:

  1. Carly Fiorina tied with Marco Rubio – both are smart, knowledgeable, articulate people who I believe can lead the country and will pick smart, possibly unbiased people for their administration.  Particularly Forina, who most likely didn’t ask what party her co-workers belonged to.
  2. Chris Christie – As the president he would be fun to watch. I like his no nonsense approach. He’s slipping now but could rebound. He’s better than many below him.
  3. Ben Carson – pretty low key, no doubt, and he had a high quality career that very few ever have. NOTE: A problem has emerged, however, regarding some weird religious beliefs and possible embellishment of his accomplishments. I may have to move him to 4th or 5th. (Arlyne has Ben Carson in 4th position) NOTE: There is no longer a number 3. I am adding this paragraph after I recently published Parts 1, 2 and 3. I’ve found that my very limited analysis of Ben Carson completely missed the mark. My research into Carson was superficial and useless. My recently acquired understanding of his 7th Day Adventists beliefs has destroyed any conceivable chance he has to be president in my mind. I don’t care about his activities as a young man but I am stunned about his creationist beliefs, which I think are ludicrous. He has said that if one believes in evolution, that person has no morals, no ethics and no conscience. I thought, being a neurosurgeon, he must have a solid technical background and would naturally be a rational person. I thought he must have been trained in science and reason, in tests and evidence and careful diagnosis, but……..he once said that a person who believed in evolution wouldn’t dive in a lake to rescue his own son, because of a lack of conscience.  I don’t know who taught you these incredible beliefs, Carson, but you just dropped out of my list like a grand piano. In fact, I think you would be dangerous for the United States and even the world. Sorry, Ben. Not only will I not vote for you, I will encourage other people to not vote for you either.
  4. Jeb Bush – If we can overlook his last name, he would be a president who probably wouldn’t destroy the country. He’s not his brother. He would at least be rational and I would hope he would surround himself with rational people. He probably won’t make it though. (Arlyne puts Jeb Bush in 3rd position)
  5. Donald Trump – only if I have to. If everybody else fades away, he may be the only GOP candidate left. If he tried to be serious, he may have something to say, but I don’t know if he could and we’ll probably never know. There are candidates walking around today that I would pick Trump ahead of, but he’s still way down there.  (I may leave the presidential box blank)
  6. Ted Cruz – only if I absolutely, absolutely have to. He may be close to a Carson-person. (I may leave the presidential box blank)
  7. Nobody else, especially not Bernie and especially not Hillary. What if the election comes down to Cruz and Clinton? (I will leave the presidential box blank if it comes to that)

Some final, final ideas:

  1. Let’s legislate, finally, that the U.S. should only have two political parties, with, by law, each party getting an eight year presidential term, followed by an eight year term of the other party.   Presidents will be highly paid, have only a 10-year pension but will have to have a thorough background check.
  2. Let’s legislate that no person of any kind can serve in any Federal elective office for more than 8 (or maybe 10) years, consecutively or otherwise. Wow!
  3. Let’s eliminate the Vice President position. This would create millions and millions of dollars of savings. Since this is probably against the U.S. constitution, we’ll make the VP an unpaid honorary position, with a tiny staff.
  4. Let’s finally cut back a bit on government spending, make government employment less attractive, and reduce pensions. I want to actually reduce spending, not just slow down the rate of increase. Let’s at least keep spending level for a few years. Let’s show we can at least chip away at our huge deficit. Let’s examine higher education and steer students to technical subjects. We’re going to need them.
  5. Let’s have the government publish a list of programs, projects and organizations that can be put on the chopping block and let citizens vote for the top five. If the country can tolerate and come back from large private unemployment, why can’t the government do the same?
  6. Let’s not keep pushing government programs and promises out to 2025 or 2050. We know how the world is today. Nobody cares about 2025. The year 2050 is at least eight presidential terms from now. These lofty promises are great rhetoric now but will be forgotten soon enough.
  7. Let’s consider passing a law that congressmen are only allowed to author bills once in two years, whether passed or not. This should give each of them time to fully study legislation proposed by someone else. Hey, there are 435 congressmen. This is still nearly 220 bills a year, potentially. Think of the savings. I don’t think the U.S. needs more bills than that. Let’s also set maximum term limits of 4 years maximum for congressmen. This should be enough.
  8. Here’s an interesting idea: Let’s have major corporations (Walmart, Home Depot, Wells Fargo, General Mills, Bank of America, etc.) sponsor parts of our military. Imagine a group of tanks or HMMWVs, with Home Depot flags, engaging the enemy. The companies would actually fund and support the tanks and perhaps even individual soldiers. The largest companies could form a consortium and fund some of our aircraft and bombs. Smaller companies could purchase specific military equipment, single bombs, single missions or drones. Great advertising, in this era of videos. Soldiers, like athletes, would have corporate patches. Exciting drone videos could be purchased for a reasonable price (at your local Walmart?). Imagine!

Thanks for reading all this and I’m glad it’s all over, for now.

The Drapers

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Posted by on November 9, 2015 in Bird Lover

 

My Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Race

My Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Race

PART 3

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

Note: A discussion of socialism and my final conclusions are in Part 4

Hillary Clinton – I have to explore Hillary a bit more than the others. Hillary Clinton is a career politician. This is a big strike against her, almost the 3rd strike. She’s a political hack, in my opinion. She is popular with her party but only because of her name recognition. If we go back to the 1930’s, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was running for President, it was FDR and his advisors who first came up with the idea of “cohorts.” These cohorts (interest groups) included farmers, union workers, small businessmen, large businessmen, soldiers, women, children, senior citizens, people in poverty, New Yorkers, well you get the idea. Franklin and his advisors concluded that, during the campaign, they could promise every cohort something it wanted, thus picking up votes not just in general but specifically from each cohort. This has been attempted (usually with pretty good success) in virtually every presidential campaign since. Some historians say if you go back to this FDR period, this cohort created the modern entitlements that we struggle with today. Social Security is perhaps the best of the lot. Clinton is a strong advocate of this very strategy (groups over the whole) but is clumsy at it.

I think Clinton has mentioned every “cohort” in the United States and typically aims her speeches at every one of them. Her advisors have even invented some. Clinton is cohort-driven. She talks about helping women in a vague way. She talks about helping children in a vague way. She talks about helping the middle class in a vague way. She talks about helping poor people. She talks about helping black people. Same for the young and the old and the infirm and veterans and even those who haven’t yet come to the United States. She talks about “working hard for you”, whatever that means. Spread the tax dollars around. She hasn’t mentioned me, of course. Hillary isn’t running for president to help somebody, she’s running for president to BE somebody. I don’t think she’s been asked about the national debt or the concept of deficit spending or the economic impact of her promises, so I don’t know what her position is on these issues.

One important thing I want is a president who can compromise when it’s needed. Clinton has not shown any ability to compromise. Clinton can’t reach across the aisle. She’s never had to and clearly doesn’t want to. The people who surround her can’t do it either. Clinton constantly talks about “right wing” and “Republican” and “Tea Party” and “media” attacks on her or attempts to undermine her campaign. Is this a person who can compromise? As president, would she even entertain a discussion with a Republican? In my career, I have worked with a lot of Government people on large contracts. There’s an oath that Government people stand by: “Admit nothing, deny everything and make counter accusations.” This applies to Hillary Clinton. On every issue she talks about, she follows this mantra. Even in the Bengazi investigation. She blames someone else for her every problem. Even I don’t do that. She is not Bill Clinton. She doesn’t have his political instincts, his natural appeal or anything else. Hillary needs to be briefed, managed, scripted, and practiced. She constantly tests the way the wind blows before deciding on something. She needs to stay in specific areas and channels. She can’t stray from the plan. I haven’t yet seen her speak extemporaneously about any subject with any depth. Her ability to consistently evade difficult issues about herself by attacking the “right wing” is breathtaking.

One of my biggest fears is of the people Clinton would populate her administration with. Ever think about that? I can’t even imagine the cronies and friends and operatives she would appoint. I really don’t think she’s capable of serious independent thought. I don’t think she would appoint anyone who could objectively be an advocate for the United States or reach “across the aisle.” I would vote for a woman for president…..but not Hillary Clinton. Again, she can’t compromise. If she becomes president, we’ll be in for years of her complaining about being attacked. That’s what I believe. Sorry, Clinton. You weren’t, as you claim, named after Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first person to climb Mt. Everest – you were born long before he did it). Maybe the people in New York like her. I haven’t researched her record as a senator but it doesn’t seem to have been outstanding. If you look up “partisan” in a modern dictionary, you’ll find her name. She claims to “take responsibility” and “be accountable” for things but never explains what that means and nothing changes as a result of these claims. She is not transparent either, not too me. She leans way too far toward socialism.  I think she is an observer and really not a participant.  Sure, there are other people in government just like her, but I won’t vote for Hillary.  I won’t change anyone’s mind with my analysis, but this is my opinion.

Bernie Sanders – I’m against nearly everything he stands for. Sorry, Bernie. Coming from Vermont, I think he must be Amish. That’s what he wants the world to look like. We should all have small home-based businesses making wooden butterflies or tapping maple syrup. I think this is why he talks about Denmark. (See discussion of socialism in Part 4).

He wants to make it easier to join unions. What is he talking about? It’s easy to join now. Besides, unions are too powerful. He loves unions. I don’t. I especially don’t like government unions. Who is it that negotiates for American citizens when federal unions demand more? The government doesn’t earn money. They shouldn’t be able to give away taxpayer money because a union wants it. Why can’t any citizen demand the same thing? Hey, I’m a union of one.

Unions were a great movement in the 1930’s and 1940’s. By the time the 50’s rolled around, unions were out of control, with massive corruption and leadership that completely controlled the membership. Can you say Jimmie Hoffa? Can you say Teamsters?   I don’t like union strong arm tactics. They control what their own members can do far past reason. (Maybe Bernie wants this, because unions are like governments) Let’s hope the Supreme Court rules that union members can’t be forced to “pay-to-play” in unions. I don’t expect them to. But if they do, unions won’t be able to build up such huge amounts of cash for donations to political parties, even if their members don’t agree or even get to vote on these donations. Union-negotiated wages and retirement pensions are a major contributor to failing cities and corporations moving their factories overseas.

Another of Bernie’s campaign positions: Raise the federal minimum wage. It seems everybody aspires to make $15 per hour. You know what? That won’t do it. You need to aspire to a wage higher than that. Once companies that employ minimum wage workers raise entry wages to $15, what are they going to do with their employees that make $12 an hour now? They’re going to have to raise these people to $18 to $20 an hour or hire less people or lay some people off. There are people I know who work for The Salvation Army and have done so for years. This type of job can’t support high aspirations. It’s a charity, for crying out loud. Many Salvation Army employees will be laid off. Government likes to take a giant brush and make sweeping changes that make some people feel good, for a while.

I think people need to make at least $25 to $30 per hour to make a living wage, e.g., save money, raise a family, buy a decent car, buy a house, pay for gas, donate to charities, go to a college, etc. No one working a minimum wage job can expect to do all that. You need some skills to go beyond minimum wages, even if they’re just the ability to read, spell, perform basic math and solve problems. You need to invest in an education, pick a field of work that pays a decent wage, learn to study and don’t party. You need to take the long view and the harder road. If students take the easy path when they’re young, they’ll have to take the hard road later, when it’s harder.

What else does Bernie want? Medicare for all. That’s a socialist position and not really practical. I don’t pretend to like or understand the medical industry, and even though I didn’t choose a life of crime when I was young, even I could make a lot of money by cheating and exploiting a Medicare-for-all system. I just don’t think the government knows how to build and operate a Medicare-for-all program without massive corruption, incompetence, fraud and breathtaking inefficiency. We would need to raise income taxes enormously to make this happen. The Veteran’s Administration is an example of how government would run a single payer health care system, because it is a single payer health care system. Let’s all go to Sweden, for now.

Bernie also wants to expand social security (a system that was never meant to be the only source of retirement income). Where is the money going to come from to do that? More taxation on workers, I suppose. Bernie likes that solution. Think of Denmark and Sweden. He also wants to reform trade policies. I’m not sure what he’s talking about, really. I don’t think this would help us either. Other countries don’t care about helping the U.S. Trade policies always seem to be in favor of other countries.

He wants to reform the income tax code. When have I heard that before? Every presidential candidate since the 40’s has mouthed this and the tax code is more complicated and the IRS has simply gotten bigger. The IRS is an industry that is supported by taxation, it’s only source of income. The Government won’t let anybody change this. Too many jobs would be lost. Flat taxes, progressive taxes, tax the rich only, tax businesses, etc. Sorry Bernie. Sorry about all the other candidates as well, with their tax reforms. Maybe we could at least chip away at the tax code. Can’t anyone just say this?

Besides Bernie, who would you select as your Secretary of Defense? Your Secretary of State? What would your cabinet look like? Too many socialists could really spoil the broth. I think Bernie is in the race just to make Hillary Clinton look better. At least Bernie supported the breast cancer movement in the 90’s and 00’s.

End of Part 3

Part 4 is a discussion of socialism and my final conclusions

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 8, 2015 in Bird Lover

 

My Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Race

My Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Race

PART 2

The 2016 Candidates (and my sound bites)

Note: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are discussed in Part 3

Mike Huckabee – I just don’t want an evangelical (sorry guys) in the White House and no entertainers. (Yes, Ronald Reagan was an entertainer but went on to be the governor of California and wasn’t an entertainer for a very long time) Huckabee is a likeable guy, he’s clever, was an OK governor and pretty plain spoken but is really an evangelical preacher. His life appears to be one of moral absolutes. Sorry, I don’t like to be preached to and our country doesn’t need this either. He has a nice little TV show but doesn’t have the gravitas to be a president for eight years, even four. I think perhaps he would bring too much folksiness and (perhaps) religion into our government. He is successful right now doing his thing. He doesn’t need to be President. He can keep being a talking head or TV host. He’s good at that. He entertains me but I don’t want to be entertained.

Ted Cruz is pretty much too religious for me as well. It seems awhile back he held a huge religious event in Texas but forgot to invite anyone except evangelicals; no Jews, no Catholics, no Protestants, and no Baptists, no atheists, no agnostics, nobody else. I’m not religious but this seems totally out of character for a Christian. Isn’t he supposed to be all-inclusive? He failed, in my mind. Why would a senator have this kind of event anyway? It appears that he puts religion ahead of his job as a U.S. Senator. What the hell?

He’s a very smart guy apparently but I can’t agree with his positions on much. I think he over-promises on nearly every issue that comes up. For example, he contends that he would cancel Obamacare on his first day in office. That’s ridiculous. We’ve tried that. Furthermore, I wouldn’t trust him on any single issue that had anything to do with science or medicine or technology or national defense or business. He doesn’t have the background and is probably incapable of appointing someone who doesn’t think like he does. Sorry Ted. I’ll vote for you if I must, to keep someone else out of office.

Carly Fiorina – I’m a product of the high-tech business environment, having spent my entire career there. I’ve worked for startup, medium-sized and large tech-based businesses, mostly in defense. We always viewed Hewlett-Packard as the best of the best in my business. They were the gold standard. I still remember Bill Hewlett and David Packard. I think Fiorina is smart, articulate, a student of current events and on top of most issues. Of course, her competitors will continue to come up with crap on her.

Do I think she was fired from HP because she was incompetent? No, I don’t. In my career, I saw a lot of sales people and company officials and CEOs fired because they didn’t go along with the board of directors. If sales go down, fire the sales manager. If a merger goes bad, fire the CEO. I don’t think she purchased Compaq all by herself. That was a board decision. She didn’t lay off thousands of people all on her own. That was a board of director’s decision as well or enormous pressure to cut costs at any cost. If the Compaq acquisition was a failure, so were dozens of other similar acquisitions and startups by dozens of other companies. These were heady and turbulent days in the tech and computer industry. Almost nobody was right. I remember at about the same period when the RadioShack TRS-80 was considered a top notch computer and serious pundits said that when all other computer companies fell by the wayside, RadioShack would still be standing. They were all so wrong, it’s unbelievable. RadioShack was out of the computer business very quickly and is rapidly dumping stores as I write this, laying off a bunch of workers.

Carly worked her way up to the top, not because she was timid or incompetent. I don’t disregard a candidate just because he or she was chewed out by the board of directors. I actually feel honored that I was chewed out unmercifully one time by my CEO in the corporate board room with a dozen people watching. My program was losing money. In my case, I was eventually vindicated but the company could have fired me on the spot. Sorry folks, I feel better about Carly Fiorina than most of the other candidates. I worked in her industry and it was a good industry. She doesn’t have the name recognition that some of the other candidates have but that doesn’t deter me. She can think, one of the qualities I like.

Jeb Bush – I could see myself voting for Jeb Bush…..except that the overwhelming anger and insane, vicious hatred for his brother ensures that he won’t be elected. I like some of Jeb’s positions but I can’t back someone who will almost totally, certainly lose. I have to have at least some hope.  Too bad for Jeb. If I had to place Jeb Bush in the list of nearly 20 current presidential candidates (both parties), I would probably put him in about fourth or fifth place today. He wouldn’t bounce off the walls (or promise to) on issues like many other candidates.  His attraction is that he is sort of a moderate.  But, we’re still a year away. Hate George W. Bush all you want but at least he had more charisma than Jeb. It didn’t help him in the end. Maybe we don’t want charisma in a president.

Donald Trump – As a likely voter, I have been saying that there is some truth in what he says. But, after all, most candidates do have some truth in what they espouse. I don’t like the way Trump behaves, even though he’s a businessman. I tend to lean toward business people as opposed to politicians. But I just can’t see him as a president. Trump has charisma. He isn’t stupid but he’s childish and can actually be boring. Would he act this way as our president? I suspect he would, at least on domestic issues. He seems to be popular, but that’s likely because of two things: 1) He bashes the political machine that runs the government and 2) the average IQ of America is 100. He sees no middle ground in anything, as far as I can tell. I don’t believe he actually thinks that much. He has his tried and true attitudes and behaviors. Hell, if I said the things he says, people would abandon my candidacy immediately. He may have invented (or re-invented) the sound bite. His promises are over the top, intended to sway superficially knowledgeable people. (also called low information voters)

His tax plan is interesting and would (wonderfully) lay off thousands of IRS employees, but he wouldn’t be able to get it passed. Everybody promises to reform the tax code. Come on, there are organizations in government that are so entrenched, they are untouchable. Already, no one can be laid off or fired. The president and the Department of Justice are protecting the IRS, for example. The IRS is like the government of a small country. You can’t lay off a government. I can’t do anything about the IRS. Remember, during the Vietnam War, when someone said that it would be cheaper to give every North Vietnamese $5000 and a new Chevrolet? I think we should lay off every IRS employee and give them the choice of a moderate pension for life or a chance to be rehired after an interview. It would be cheaper and we could maybe get rid of undesirables and drones.

However, if Trump were president and had to decide on an important issue related to science, technology, software, weaponry, geography, medicine, mental health, psychology, or any other technical field, I think he would likely make the wrong decision. Obama would take years to decide (based on the legacy he wants) and Trump would take a whole minute. That’s the impression he gives. Not everything can be determined on the basis of money. (It’s very close though) I won’t vote for Donald Trump unless I have to.

Ben Carson – It’s hard not to like Ben Carson. Sure, he’s soft spoken, but he seems to have good instincts. I think he is a thoughtful person……he had to be as a neurosurgeon.   He has an impressive resume. He was raised by a single mother, like many blacks, but he rose above all his disadvantages. He met the challenges. He reads a lot. I like that. He appears to meet my criteria for understanding science and he’s only made a few miss-steps as far as I’m concerned. I like him but I don’t think he’s going to make it. He’s quite religious but seems to keep this part under control. If Carson wants to bring back school prayer, so what? It doesn’t bother me. Make the prayers short though. By the way, why doesn’t Carson talk about shifting some U.S. taxes from production to consumption (VAT)? This could free up small businesses and create jobs.

Scott Walker – As I write this, he has dropped out of the race. I think he did a good thing for his state but he doesn’t have the depth to be a president.

Rick Perry – As I write this, Perry has dropped out of the race. He has some good qualities but his time has passed.

John Kasich – I just don’t know enough about him. He seems likeable enough and has said some reasonably sensible things, but I’m just waiting for him to drop out of the race.

Chris Christie – I like him. Too bad he’s from New Jersey. He’s outspoken and you sort of have to listen to him. In the most recent GOP debate, he was one of the first candidates who commented on the tone of the questions. I suppose he’s not presidential but maybe that’s what we need. I like that he reformed some of the pension and health benefit programs in his state. He has (I haven’t fact-checked this) reduced state government payroll by several thousand. I suppose many people probably want to impeach him for that. It seems he modified the teacher tenure in New Jersey. It’s not automatic anymore, which I think is a good thing. I don’t really like his stance on guns. How come so many people in New Jersey need automatic weapons? In our lifetime, the government is not going to take everybody’s guns away. There are just too many guns. I don’t mind that people own them. Just don’t get all excited about guns being taken away. It’s not going to happen and there are better things to worry about.

Aside from this, in our country’s history, most presidents have been state governors. Not too many senators have been elected. There has to be a reason for that. A governor is a lot closer to his constituents than the president of the United States or Senators. A governor has to be more responsive to issues than the president and I think Christie has done that. Let’s see how he performs over the next few months.

Marco Rubio – I can’t imagine why this guy is constantly under attack. I think he is smart, articulate and knowledgeable enough to be a president. I also think the people he would surround himself with as president would likely be reasonable as well and not so hard over to one side, as so many are in government. I don’t think Rubio would try to fool the electorate like other presidents. He seems to be a straight shooter. His ideas on immigration are not perfect but show me someone who has a perfect plan. I could see myself voting for Rubio but I don’t like his website because it’s mostly videos of his speeches. We voters don’t have time to go through all those.

Sidebar: Isn’t it incredible that EVERYONE in the current administration and ALL the people who voted them in are 100% behind and in full agreement with EVERY SINGLE position their party desires? No compromise, no reaching across the aisle, no bending, no anything? They just agree and don’t think about it (It was in 1965 that the term “group think” was coined, to define this).

Rubio appears to be knowledgeable about foreign affairs and has shown up very well in the debates, for what that’s worth. His stance on illegal immigration is a little suspect but at least he wants to get rid of sanctuary cities. I don’t understand why we have federal immigration laws but almost anyone can flout them, ignore them or demand that they be repealed. How can our U.S. government not be responsive to their own laws? As a citizen, can I be selective about the laws I comply with and those I don’t?

Sidebar: I more or less think that illegal aliens should retain their second class status. They can continue to work here, I suppose, but I can’t provide them a path to citizenship. Illegal aliens are typically not the “best and brightest.” I don’t think there is any argument that says they are. They shouldn’t be able to vote, serve on juries or hold elective office. They shouldn’t be able to demand (and receive) benefits offered to citizens. Examples: in-state tuition and total welfare benefits. I understand the world has changed but surely not that much. Maybe they can have these after living here for 20 years. I can’t forgive and forget how most of them came into this country, even if they limped here with the best of intentions. My wife is a naturalized citizen. She met all the requirements. The current crop of illegal aliens doesn’t meet any of the requirements for living in the U.S. and enjoying the benefits enjoyed by citizens. We should change the name from illegal aliens to probationary citizens. If I had to choose, however, I would welcome illegal Mexican and Latin American immigrants as opposed to the flood of Islamic immigrants that is sweeping through Europe. Their culture is far too alien.

Rand Paul – He’s too hard over on libertarian views. He’s a nice, smart guy but we’re not set up for him. The time for a libertarian in office was years ago. We’re just too partisan now and firmly entrenched in a two party system. That probably won’t change anytime soon. I do listen to him however. If a serious third-party were to form, I would look at them very seriously, if I’m still even interested in the year 2020.  Sorry Rand.

Rick Santorum – Santorum should have dropped out of the race by now. I don’t really like him that much anyway. Sorry, Rick and everybody who supports him.

Bobby Jindal – He has a few good thoughts but not enough. Take care of your state, Bobby. Maybe he could run again in 2024. I’m not going to analyze him. Sorry, Bobby and everybody who supports him.

George Pataki – He has a few good thoughts but not enough. I’m not going to analyze him. I can’t do everybody. Sorry, George and everybody who supports him.

End of Part 2

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are discussed in Part 3

Sometimes this reminds me of America right now

Sometimes this reminds me of America right now

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2015 in Bird Lover

 

My Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Race

My Thoughts on the 2016 Presidential Race

PART 1 of 4 PARTS

Modern politics and My View of Presidential Characteristics

READ ME FIRST: This is a very long piece but I think it needs to be. I’ll probably (certainly) say things some of you won’t agree with. But, that’s what blogs are for, aren’t they? I plan to post this blog in four parts because the complete piece is 15 pages long. Each part, though, is only about 4 pages long and I’ll publish the next parts each within a day or two, so hang in there.

I have emerging thoughts about the presidential campaign. It’s early in the process, and I don’t have to exercise my single pathetic vote for several months. I’m less interested in who’s running for president than I used to be. A friend of mine who is only a little older says he’s “just an observer now.” I can see how that happens. I’m a little tired of the endless political process. Despite this, I’m going to blather on about my political thoughts and try to decide who I may vote for, if the candidate gets that far. I can change my mind if I want to. Voting, like religion, is a personal decision, so you certainly don’t have to agree with me.   I’m doing this because my brother asked me to. Good for him. It helps me keep my own thoughts organized. But as I said, my own thoughts may change as time goes on. Even today, Arlyne and I sometimes have opposing views as to who we believe is the best candidate for President in 2016.

About Modern Politics. If you’re a highly political person, you attend campaign rallies, donate heavily to your favorite candidates, put posters in your yard, work the telephones at headquarters, talk with like-minded people and watch your favorite TV stations, where opinionated commentators tell you what you want to hear and bash the opposing party and their candidates. Some commentators do this nicely and some are viciously one-sided. I’m not one of these highly political people. Campaigns aren’t about issues anymore. Besides, how can any citizen decide about a specific issue when one “side” says the whole thing is a non-issue and the other says it is vitally important and should be investigated? It seems like everything is sexist, racist, demeaning, an attack, etc. It also seems that we have to closely watch the words we use now too. I didn’t have these feelings some years ago. What has happened to our society? What has happened to me?   In our current era, most citizens go straight with their party instead of looking at the character and experience of the candidates, including the candidate he favors, regardless of the issues. We don’t know the truth about anything political anymore. We only think we do. There’s so much fake outrage now and everybody takes offence. We have to tease “news” out of the rhetoric that washes over us. I’m unable to watch “news shows” as much as I used to, particularly when I know the actual truth is rarely available to me. TV personalities are highly opinionated commentators and network shills now, not journalists and certainly not objective reporters of the news. Their jobs are to attract viewers, increase advertising returns and make a name for their network and themselves. The debates have proven it..

Politics has changed. Remember the talk years ago about “smoke-filled rooms” and “kingmakers?” That’s how candidates were selected in the old days. Now, in the days of twitter, facebook, Instagram, linkedin, instant news and instant communications, smoke-filled rooms are gone. Every rumor, factoid or misstep by a candidate is instantly placed in the universe and tossed around like it actually meant something. Now, don’t get me wrong. If a candidate actually does something, then I tend to pay attention. Can you imagine the fever pitch of this campaign a year from now?

What characteristics do I want in a president and Why? Right off, let me say I don’t care if the president is divorced or single or man or a woman. There were and are women running other countries quite successfully. Why not here? Being a woman, however, isn’t a qualifying factor.

My age has something to do with my preferences in politics. That can’t be helped. So, since I haven’t indicated exactly who I’m going to vote for yet, I’ll go back in recent history and look at previous presidents and politicians that helped form my presidential likes and dislikes. I’m mostly conservative but not entirely by any means.

I liked President Dwight Eisenhower, for example. Yes, that was a long time ago and I was young. Even so, it’s most everyone’s opinion that he was the last president who understood government. He was steady, trustworthy and honest, besides being a war hero. Of course, one war had just ended and the next one hadn’t started yet. He had relatively peaceful terms in office. He did, however, understand that other wars were coming. I think that’s why he agreed to create the interstate highway system to rapidly relocate military equipment and troops.

The days of war heroes are totally gone now and nobody understands government. It can’t even be managed. Our Government is a bloated bureaucracy, with corruption, cronyism, secrecy and evasiveness everywhere. For most, it’s a way to become wealthy. And this is just the legal stuff! It reminds me of the Roman Empire. It reminds me of a saying we had in the defense business: “We used to have wooden ships and iron men…..now we have iron ships and wooden men (and women).” Longevity in political office is considered an accomplishment now. We’ve created royalty in Washington D.C. and that’s not funny.   When a new candidate does make it to office (Senate or Congress), it’s usually because the incumbent retired or died. New office holders are virtually shunned until they’ve been in Washington several years. I’ve read that almost 98% of incumbents are automatically re-elected. Government officials are elected now because of their smile, their haircut, their longevity in politics and their ability to promise, promise, and promise. This is the voters’ fault. I’m old enough to understand that political promises are rarely kept. I’ve learned that much. Nobody is my dream candidate.

Other Memorable Politicians. I can look at the ex-governor of California, George Deukmejian, as a possible example of the kind of characteristics I want. He was not a single issue person. He was a moderate conservative, but look up his record before you judge him. In bad years, he selectively cut state spending, creating a surplus. A couple of years after that, another recession hit California and he again managed the state government to overcome a deficit. I think he had political courage and was well liked (76% approval), albeit reluctantly by some of course. He was almost boring. He was almost picked by George H.W. Bush as his running mate but declined. History has treated him well, even if he has more or less disappeared from public view.

I eventually liked Ronald Reagan, in his second term. I had reservations of course. I first saw him as an actor, rather than the political animal he was. But, being in the defense industry, I was delighted when he appointed a Blue Ribbon Committee to analyze and reform a screwed up defense procurement process. I was involved in this procurement process and it was terribly inefficient, boneheaded sometimes. The Blue Ribbon Committee was comprised of smart, senior, experienced people. A year or so later, the results of the Committee were finally published. I thought every one of the ten or so recommendations was terrific and needed to be implemented. I waited a long time and eventually learned that not one single recommendation was ever put in place. What a disappointment. I wish I had that list today. I’d bet those recommendations are moldy and forgotten. What happened, Ronald?

Still, Reagan was personable and had principles that I liked. The US had a monumental enemy during his time in office and that made it easy to like how he handled the Soviet Union and eventually whittled them down. Did I mention that he thought the U.S. was an exceptional country? I liked that. I’m sorry that half the country doesn’t think so anymore. Reagan at least got us through a shaky period. Sure he had some foibles made a few poor decisions. Regan’s “Star Wars” missile defense system never really got completely off the ground, (no pun intended) and his now forgotten Arms-for-Contras deal seems microscopic from today’s perspective. He was fairly decisive about things as well, and I liked that too. He spent money, like all presidents do but did some tax cutting as well.

Bill Clinton was a decent president as I saw it during his terms. Of course, I didn’t know anything about his behind the scenes escapades. I only knew him as a political animal and he was a good one. Of course, his terms in office were, like Eisenhower’s, between major wars and the country was riding the crest of the internet boom. Believe me, the internet boom was a monstrous influence. Many local, state and government spending and union pension problems we have today are the result of giddy spending during Clinton’s period in office. This was done by states, the federal government and even cities. Everyone thought the good times would last forever. I didn’t know that Clinton was building an empire. He reformed the welfare system through a compromise with the Republicans. No one does that anymore that I’ve heard about. I didn’t vote for Bill the first time, but I voted for him the second time around. Sorry, I never liked Hillary during that time. She wasn’t likeable. (Arlyne does not like Bill for his disrespect of the White House and his family, but recognizes that he was at least a so-so President.)

Sidebar: Of course, like everyone else, my choice for president has as much to do with me as it does any current issues. Most political issues just go around and around, over and over again. Tell me, which candidate doesn’t talk about reforming education, reforming welfare, creating jobs, shame on the rich, eliminating poverty, eliminating hunger, reducing foreign debt, solving the gun problem, solving the illegal immigration problem, fixing Social Security, fixing Medicare, fixing Medicaid, fixing society’s gender issues, etc., etc.

Oh, yes…….fixing climate change, cleaning our air and water, cutting down on TV watching, solving the mental health problem, reducing crime, reforming presidential election funding, reforming tort law, cutting back on (or increasing) foreign aid, raising or lowering defense spending, making us safe from terrorists, repairing infrastructure, closing or opening the border, helping the middle class, and all kinds of other things? The gay marriage and LGBT issues are fairly new at least. Just don’t promise me you’ll do everything for everybody. Yes, many of these issues are important, but some aren’t that important and nothing substantial will be done.

I want to vote for someone who can actually think and analyze and evaluate and weigh options, listen to others, decide and take logical action.   Appoint people around them that can actually think and analyze, evaluate and weigh options and decide and request logical action. I want a president who at least understands the business world and who is not a career politician who only makes political decisions that benefit his own party.

I want a president who can change the way the government does things if their own policies don’t work. Almost every government program or policy that was implemented and failed is still around, with more and more money being poured into it. It doesn’t help that government workers can’t be fired – either because of civil service rules or “negotiated” union agreements. In fact, that’s probably why many failed policies and programs are still being funded and operated. Government doesn’t have to worry about losses or falling stock prices. Government asks taxpayers to give it money, either the same amount or more. And taxpayers continue to do it. Government is, of course, financed by the taxpayers.   There has to be a way to ensure accountability and resolve the chaos we have in government. The solution isn’t to make government bigger, please.

I want someone who understands science, at least to the extent that he/she can appoint an appropriate person to advise him properly. I don’t want someone who claims he/she will change the educational system. Every presidential candidate I can remember said he would fix education. If education has to be overhauled every eight years, it must have been horrible when I was in school. I liked school and had a fairly successful career because of it. Students should dig in to the material presented to them. I went to a class C school (not around anymore) with Native Americans, blacks, poor whites, kids who didn’t have shoes, who could barely read, who were unhealthy and had no future to speak of. I was interested in school and the stuff I learned. Is it any better now, with all the changes? The changes that are typically made in our educational system are those that make education easier, not harder. This isn’t good.

The optimal President of the U.S., particularly, shouldn’t always act strictly down party lines, like senators and congressmen do. I can’t stop them but I can at least be selective when I cast my single pathetic vote. We don’t have a pure democracy. We have a representative form of government, where our elected representatives can do whatever they want. I find that in recent years, elected officials want to make a mark, make a name for themselves and create a legacy. I don’t want my president to be like this. Legacies should be determined much later, after politicians have left office. Let us decide, let history decide. Recently, even the Nobel Prize committee publically expressed their disappointment that the peace prize was awarded to Barack Obama. It didn’t work out as they had hoped. I could have told them that. You shouldn’t award prizes to people who haven’t done anything except make promises. Do schools give out grades at the beginning of the year?

End of Part 1

Note:  Part 2 will discuss each of the 2016 Presidential candidates

My take on politics....

My take on politics….

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2015 in Bird Lover