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Both Chris Dodd (D-Conn) and Democrat President Obama have voiced righteous indignation about the AIG bonus payouts. But when you look a bit deeper, you wonder why both men are complaining — after all, they each had a major part in allowing the payouts to go forward. First, the President, in a press conference, stating they knew where AIG spent all the money (that would include the bonus).
From White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’ briefing two weeks ago, when $30 billion in additional funds were announced for AIG. AIG had at this point designated $165 million in retention bonuses for officers of the Financial Products subsidiary, as well as an additional $121.5 million in executive bonuses.
TAPPER: AIG, is the administration confident that it, that it knows what happened to the tens of billions of dollars previously given to AIG?
GIBBS: Is it confident — I’m sorry?
TAPPER: That they know — that you guys know what happened to the previous billions before you hand over this next $30 billion.
GIBBS: Yes — yes, the — I mean, I don’t think it’s a — well, obviously, you’ve got a huge insurance company that is losing money, not the least of which because of its sheer size and sheer size and decrease in the growth in our economy. It experiences a far bigger drop, largely because of its size. But, again, the steps that — that Treasury and — and others took were to ensure a larger systemic problem wasn’t one that we had to deal with here today in letting something just die.
TAPPER: But in terms of specifically the — I guess it’s like $150 billion before, you guys are confident…
So the President says he knew where the money went — and that includes the bonus money. Gee, wonder why he never complained about it until now? We’ll see why after examining Chris Dodd’s role.
While the Senate constructed the $787 billion stimulus last month, Dodd unexpectedly added an executive-compensation restriction to the bill. That amendment provides an “exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009,” which exempts the very AIG bonuses Dodd and others are seeking to tax. The amendment is in the final version and is law.
So why is Chris Dodd (D-Conn) upset? He added law exempting bonuses to the stimulus bill. And now he feigns indignation?
So what do Mr. Obama and Mr. Dodd have in common, besides both men knowing those bonuses were to be paid out from the bailout money (one stated he knew where the money was spent, the other specifically exempted bonuses). They’re both number 1-2 in political contributions from AIG, Mr Dodd first at $103,000 and Mr. Obama second at $101,000 (third place was less than $60,000, and then fourth place on drops to $35,000 and less – so Obama/Dodd fed the most at the lobbyist trough. Data from Opensecrets.org).
And that’s how they can both encourage and know those bonuses would be paid, and then (for political reasons) feign being upset about it, when they knew it all along. Same old politics in play — do one thing behind closed doors for lobbyist $$$, do another for the public.
That’s change we can’t believe in, just more of the same old-school Washington garbage.
The following story caused quite an uproar, which the media calls a “botched abortion”, but is it really?
Eighteen and pregnant, Sycloria Williams went to an abortion clinic outside Miami and paid $1,200 for Dr. Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique to terminate her 23-week pregnancy.
Three days later, she sat in a reclining chair, medicated to dilate her cervix and otherwise get her ready for the procedure.
Only Renelique didn’t arrive in time. According to Williams and the Florida Department of Health, she went into labor and delivered a live baby girl.
What Williams and the Health Department say happened next has shocked people on both sides of the abortion debate: One of the clinic’s owners, who has no medical license, cut the infant’s umbilical cord. Williams says the woman placed the baby in a plastic biohazard bag and threw it out.
The woman involved will of course sue, but for what? Abortion is designed to eliminate the baby, and the clinic did exactly that, in a similar manner had the “doctor” arrived on time. What legal case exists — services performed as expected resulting in the death of a baby?
Of course, it also must be noted Obama’s stance in these matters matches exactly what the clinic did — refuse medical care to babies born alive and allow them to die. So the clinic rendered the service they were supposed to do (terminate the baby), and with the President supporting the policy of denying medical care to new babies.
With all this in mind, our question remains why the uproar? How can anyone be surprised by these events?
Suppose the “doctor” arrived on time, what would the sequence of events have been? Depending on the exact abortion procedure, he’d kill the baby — perhaps by crushing the skull and vacuuming out the brain, or by dismembering it in the womb. He’d then re-assemble the pieces on the table to be sure he got them all, then pack them in a biohazard bag and throw it out.
Is that much different than what actually happened?
So the question remains, why the concern? For the pro-life crowd, it happens every day across the country — why is this case so different? For the pro-abortion crowd, the “doctor” would do almost exactly what the owner did — so why does it matter? And the President supports denying newborn babies medical care, resulting in their death, so the actions have the support of the President.
Why does this case matter?
Here’s a view of the real financial crisis facing the country, and it can’t be solved by bailouts or regulations.
It’s not AIG, Lehman, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or even Enron and MCI. It’s not the national debt, budget deficits or politician’s plans for staggering tax increases which will surely damage the already fragile economy. Make no mistake, all those are bad, but they’re only symptoms of the real disease, the cancer eating away at our society — that cancer is as Zell Miller said “A Deficit of Decency” — more specifically, a lack of ethics.
First off, don’t confuse morality with ethics; morality being just an idea of right and wrong, generally coming from some absolute source (many people mistake the concept of morality for “good” morals — i.e. don’t cheat on your wife, but murderers have morality as well, it’s just bad), while ethics is “my word is my bond”. It’s possible to act ethically, but not morally.
For example, few would disagree a crime syndicate performing shake-downs of an innocent business lacks morality (“Gee, that’s a nice business you have there, it would be a shame if something happened to it”); they’re acting immorally, however, the ethics surpass those of politicians and wall street — you can be sure they’ll do what they say and won’t change, if fact, you can count on it.
Ethics and morality aren’t the same, even though they share similarities.
Perhaps the confusion comes as younger people (30 or below) don’t remember a time when a handshake was enough to seal a deal (or a time when the Interweb thingy didn’t exist either, but we digress). Believe it or not, a time existed when your word was sufficient, and people (gasp) did what they promised. They many not have acted with good morals, but their ethics were unquestionable.
That was the prevailing attitude for many, many years. Most business circles were fairly small; you simply couldn’t get away with breaking your word. Perhaps not because people didn’t want to, but because the community simply didn’t tolerate it. Ethical behavior was demanded if you desired to stay in business.
But today, even if you have a contract, it’s who has the most lawyers and $$$ to fight. It’s not about holding up your promise, it’s about grabbing as much money as possible in the fastest way possible. Ethics is thrown under the bus, even as candidates promise “change”, but don’t want you to look behind the curtain to see it’s just business as usual and the ethics continue to disappear.
That’s the real problem in Washington — a lack of ethics. When double-talking politicians try to dodge real questions with slick-talking nuance instead of solutions, and then act differently when the teleprompter turns off, that’s a lack of ethics. The goal in politics becomes how to fool people with slick oratory, but then after election turn against the flowery rhetoric and act oppositely — in their own interests instead of serving the country.
Sacrificing for a greater good (or your country) has become a concept ridiculed and scorned. Just compare the campaigns — one says to act in your own self-interest (thus, vote for the guy promising the most handouts), while the other says country first. But that’s the political arena — the ethics problem infects all corners of society equally; as the Federal bailouts continue, every one actually increases the likelihood of more bailouts. Here’s why.
If you live in a hurricane area, and the floods ravage your house or destroy it but you don’t have insurance, the government pays you anyway. So why have insurance? Your house gets rebuilt no matter if you paid for insurance or not — each bailout increases incentive for homeowners in bad areas not to get insurance. After all, they’ll get paid anyway.
If you bought a ARM or sub-prime mortgage and got stuck with something you knew you couldn’t afford, once again, a bailout is coming your way. So why should others play by the rules and put 20% down? It doesn’t matter as financial ethics becomes discouraged, and the rewards go the people who deliberately skirted responsibility.
If AIG/Lehman/Fannie/Freddie used poor business practices in pursuit of profits, it doesn’t matter as — you guessed it — another bailout heads their way (and sometimes promotions to political campaigns for those involved). There’s even a phrase floating around — they’re “too big to fail”; what motivation do they thus have to act ethically instead of plundering the company leaving shareholders, employees (and taxpayers) left to clean up the mess while they jet off to their vacation homes?
And in elections, they guy who promises the most from the public trough gets the most support. Elections become not about serving the country (“ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”), but who promises the most $$$ from the public treasury. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine this pattern can’t continue.
Just take a look at who took the most lobbyist money in the recent Fannie/Freddie collapse, who was on the committee charged with oversight of Fannie and Freddie, and then where those executives ended up after plundering the companies, leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. Should we trust them with advising the president so they can do to the country what they did to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?
A democracy can’t exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy … [author unknown, though commonly attributed to Sir Alex Fraser Tytler in 1801]
Of course, who pays for all these bailouts for unethical behavior? The hard-working taxpayer playing by the rules — you know, ethically. They get the privilege of paying for everyone else’s ethical lapses.
The solution is a return to ethical behavior — and that can’t be legislated (in contrast, the only thing which can be legislated is morality — right and wrong. All laws are someones view of what’s right and wrong). But once those laws exist, there’s always people willing to employ legions of lawyers looking for a way to skirt both the spirit and letter of the law and plunder the company while passing the bill to others for their behavior. In other words, unethical.
Each bailout or rescue increases the incentive for unethical behavior — and that’s the real issue facing the country. As money flows from lobbyists to politicians, who then look the other way as companies are destroyed, is it any wonder failures are increasing? No amount of new regulation or financial bailouts will solve the problem. The real issue is where is personal responsibility?
It’s not the billions being spent right now which ultimately will ensure doom, it’s the degradation of ethics which will haunt the country for generations.
Obama’s ship is taking on water over the abortion issue — his all-abortion, all-the-time position is considerably out of the mainstream view of Americans. His refusal to give botched aborted babies surviving the procedure medical care (instead of discarding them to die) when it came for a vote — a proposal so non-controversial even Ted Kennedy and Clinton supported it — defies explanation (as Gianna Jessen notes, she herself survived a botched abortion, and Obama’s position would deny her the medical care to save her life); no amount of nuance or spin can change the facts — Obama voted against medical care for children.
The record here is very, very clear. Obama initially said that he opposed the bill in Illinois because it didn’t have the “neutrality clause” included in the federal version of the legislation. As documentation proved, Obama voted against it even with the neutrality clause added. The Obama campaign finally acknowledged that Obama had lied about his position a month ago. Why? Because it would have actually forced doctors to provide care for live infants from abortions — or in other words, it would have worked.
If you’re interested, visit Jill Stanek’s site, a nurse in the Chicago area who witnessed botched aborted babies discarded to die — it’s not an academic discussion, the problem is real, and Obama voted (multiple times) to deny those children medical care — even as the U.S. Senate approved an identical bill 98-0.
No amount of “change” spin can alter the facts — Obama’s votes indicate he’d deny medical care for children after they’re born. The question nobody asks him is simple — if it’s acceptable to kill a baby after it’s born and call it abortion, at what age does the child get bestowed constitutional rights? Can they be “aborted” until 18? Do children count less than other people? When do they get basic human rights? For how long can they be aborted after being born before it becomes a crime? When asked, he provided his (in)famous “above my pay grade” response, which is strange considering he’s running for leader of the country.
It’s not a religious issue, or medical issue, it’s a legal issue he is (supposed) to be qualified to answer. If he can’t answer a legal question, he’s not qualified to run the country. For Obama, the question of when a child gets human rights isn’t answered — it certainly isn’t at birth, but at some mysterious point later — how later he’s not saying.
That’s certainly “change” from mainstream America, unless you believe allowing infants to die in the trash can remotely represents most people’s views. But there’s another view of the issue, and it’s eloquently presented by Paul Harvey in his book “The Rest of the Story” — a good read for lots of reasons if you have time.
When rape results in pregnancy, or when giving birth might cost the mother’s life, few women would fail to consider as an alternative: Abortion.
Your first expectant mother is Caterina. Caterina is unmarried, obviously in her teens, obviously poor. You ask her age, and she tells you, and at once you realize she has overstated her years by one or two or three.
Caterina is in the first trimester of her pregnancy.
You ask if she has been pregnant before.
Caterina shakes her head.
Studying her, you wonder.
You inquire of her general health; no problems, she says.
And the health of the father?
Caterina shrugs; her eyes fall.
She has lost contact with the father of her unborn child. All she knows is he was twenty-three, a lawyer or a notary or something like that. He lives nearby, she thinks; she is not sure. The affair was over quickly, little more than a one-night stand. No child was expected–nor now is wanted.
What Doctor, is your advice?
Later the same day, you are consulted by a second expectant mother.
Her name is Klara. Klara is twenty-eight, married three years, the wife of a government worker; she has the look of a woman accustomed to anguish.
Concerned for the ultimate health of her unborn, Klara explains that for each year of her marriage she has had a child–and each has died; the first within thirty-one months, the second within sixteen months, the third within several days.
So what, Doctor, is your advice?
In addition to all immediate considerations–physical, moral, religious–the dilemma of whether to terminate a pregnancy is a philosophical question:
Might this life, if left to live, affect the consciousness or even the destiny of mankind?
Yet if the profundity of this question is diminished by the balance which governs all life, there is evidence in the two true stories you have just heard: the unwed mother with unwanted child; the married mother with the graves of three infants behind her.
For if you, as the hypothetical physician, have opted in both cases for abortion–then you have respectively denied the world the multifaceted genius of Leonardo da Vinci–and spared humanity the terror of Adolf Hitler.
They are THE REST OF THE STORY.
The average person wants to keep abortion legal, but ban partial-birth abortion, and certainly wouldn’t want living babies discarded as trash to die. Yet Obama is so extreme on abortion he voted against bills even Kennedy and Clinton supported.
That’s change nobody believes in.
This just in from the twilight zone:
EUGENE, Ore. — After weeks of bad news, things turned Barbara Wagner’s way this week.
Last month her lung cancer, in remission for about two years, was back. After her oncologist prescribed a cancer drug that could slow the cancer growth and extend her life, Wagner was notified that the Oregon Health Plan wouldn’t cover it.
It would cover comfort and care, including, if she chose, doctor-assisted suicide.
Treatment of advanced cancer meant to prolong life, or change the course of this disease, is not covered by the Oregon Health Plan, said the unsigned letter Wagner received from LIPA, the Eugene company that administers the plan in Lane County.
So the Oregon Health plan won’t cover … health, but if you want to kill yourself to reduce the state’s costs, THAT they’ll cover.
Bizarre. As someone else pointed out:
Oregon’s state-run health care plan won’t cover a new drug that could extend her life — which is, after all, the entire point of health insurance and health care — but will gladly pay the bill if she decides to stop costing the state more money. What’s next — a Logan’s Run option for “renewal” at 30?
Assisted suicide stupidly meets stupidly run government healthcare. Is it any wonder the system is a mess?
Obama and McCain have weighed in on spiraling gas prices. But is either proposal workable? If not, what can we do? Is the situation hopeless, or is a real solution possible? Let’s examine Obama’s and McCain’s proposals, see where they’re right, and where they’re wrong. Finally, we’ll consider a bipartisan solution everyone can get behind.
Obama and the left
The main proposal coming from the left is “windfall profits” taxes on the oil companies. How will this have any impact on prices? Do they not know price = cost + profit? If you increase costs (by taxes), you increase prices. How will raising taxes lower prices? Nobody asks, as Obama’s disciples blindly follow their messiah into the twilight zone (or for you Buzz Lightyear fans “to infinity and beyond”).
For example (we don’t have an exact number, so if you do, leave a comment), if the oil companies make about $.10/gallon (we’ve heard numbers in the range of 6-8 cents), if you eliminate profit (not just “windfall” profit), you’ve only impacted prices by about a dime. Whoope. The reality would be quite different as companies consider taxes additional cost — and who pays for rising costs?
In contrast (and a proposal Obama belittled as a cheap political stunt), how much in tax per gallon do you pay? How much of a reduction if taxes were suspended? That would be a real reduction, as taxes are just artificial additions; Federal tax alone is 50% higher than oil company profit:
Fuel taxes in the United States vary by state. For the first quarter of 2008, the average state gasoline tax is 28.6 cents per gallon, plus 18.4 cents per gallon federal tax making the total 47 cents per gallon (12.4 cents/L). For diesel, the average state tax is 29.2 cents per gallon plus an additional 24.4 cents per gallon federal tax making the total 53.6 cents per gallon (14.2 cents/L).
So the average tax is about five times the oil company profit, yet the left displays righteous indignation over the dime, and blissfully ignore the $.47/gallon in taxes. Of course (as Obama recently hinted), many on the left actually want higher gas prices, so the fact their proposals do nothing should not be surprising — they don’t have citizen’s best interests at heart. But they’re stuck in a tough situation, they want higher gas prices, but can’t come out and directly say it or citizens won’t vote for them.
Hmmm. Let’s see, a $.10 reduction is real progress, and $.47 reduction is a cheap political stunt. Yes sir, we need change. With great ideas (and logic) like this, how could anyone not be behind such vision? It’s change!
The other proposal floating around the left is nationalizing the oil industry. Absurd on its face, and of course does nothing to either increase supply or decrease demand. Completely useless. But it does serve the left’s socialist interests (and maybe that’s the point).
The basic economic laws are supply and demand. If demand is up and supply is down, prices go up. Conversely, if demand is down, and supply is up, prices go down. If you want to impact prices, you affect either supply or demand (or costs, like being more efficient, reducing taxes and red tape, etc). Cost + Profit = Price.
But if you propose to increase costs, while refusing to increase supply, you’ve got the perfect storm for spiraling prices. Nobody is that crazy to believe you can increase costs, decrease supply and actually have the result of lower prices. Nobody. The only conclusion we can draw is those that propose such laughable solutions are trying to pull a fast one on citizens. Cynical? Perhaps. But the alternative is to believe these people have an IQ in single digits and shouldn’t be driving a car, much less running the country.
But Obama’s big strength is the ability to influence his followers. If he actually abandons his laughable ideas, and works with real ideas to bring down prices (by decreasing costs and demand and increasing supply), his influence could be huge, and could be a key factor to implement real solutions. But first, he’s got to jettison the far-left group-think (next idea, wage and price controls, and wearing sweaters!), and fundamentally change his idea that he likes higher gas prices (as his current ideas neither increase supply, or decrease demand — at best, the far-left ideas do nothing, and at worst make the problem worse).
Obama and the far-left are simply clueless — increasing costs (via taxes or otherwise) doesn’t reduce prices (a problem compounded when you additionally refuse to increase supply). Nationalizing the oil industry won’t affect supply and demand either. Both ideas simply pander to the far-left who actually want higher gas prices, and socialized anything. But they’re beyond worthless to help the little guy on main street.
As usual, the little guy gets gored (pun intended).
McCain is better on the increase supply side (calling for more drilling), but still won’t call for an all-out, environmentally reasonable increase in drilling. He’s still wrong.
And he’s wrong on failing to call for a massive shift to alternative energy. Oil won’t last forever, and moving off to alternative energy should be a priority. Why isn’t it?
McCain’s ideas would be a short-term reduction in prices, but a long-term loser in overall strategy. It’s time to find, develop and implement other energy. Even Larry the Cable Guy knows — git ‘er done.
In the end (as usual), the little guy gets hosed (another pun intended) under McCain’s plan as well, it just takes a little longer than Obama’s non-plan.
Politicians look out for themselves instead of citizens (shock! horror!) — all they’re concerned about is elections, not citizens. The far-left use increasing prices to move toward socialism and increase government power, and the far-right seek to grab all the money they can while plundering citizens. Neither looks out for the little guy on main street.
Both are wrong, and both lead to the little guy paying the bill for entirely avoidable mistakes, while self-serving politicians cater to their own needs by throwing the common citizen off the cliff — while having the chutzpah to ask for campaign contributions before they hit the rocky shore below.
Supply and demand — you need to work on both. In the short term, you can’t fix demand quickly as increasing MPG on cars and such takes a looooong time. So in the short term (1-5 years), increasing production is the best way to go. But long term, oil well eventually run out (when, of course, is quite debatable and irrelevant to the point anyway), so working to reduce long-term demand by developing other resources is mandatory. And the final wildcard is costs — increasing efficiency, reducing red tape and taxes can also affect real change (oops, used the magic word, that makes everything better! It’s chicken soup for politics … oh nevermind).
Supply, demand, costs. Come on, guys, it’s not rocket science (more on that later).
So what to do? Here’s a four-point plan (many ideas which come from somewhere else) to actually do something to solve the situation. It’s a bipartisan solution everyone should agree on — nobody gets everything they want, but the situation won’t improve by inaction either.
Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less. We can do it safely, so the time is now to start developing what resources we have. Objections over hurting the environment are absurd — even Hurricane Katrina didn’t cause an ecological disaster to the Gulf oil platforms.
Yes we can! … increase production, while protecting the environment.
Formulate a real energy policy (no rhetoric allowed) — including biofuel, nuclear, coal, hydrogen, wind, and solar — all are on the table and workable in at least some situations. We must shift to non-gasoline powered cars, for example the Chevy Volt (due in 2010). Oil won’t last forever, stop acting like it will — the time to move is now, will inaction improve the situation in five years?
Yes we can! … develop alternative energy.
A Kennedy-esqe commitment to getting the job done. No excuses. Young people under 30 don’t remember that kind of national commitment, but if you recall Kennedy’s speech calling for a moon landing before 1970 you know how it rallied the cause, and produced results beyond what we thought technologically capable (in 1962 our space program was, well, nonexistent).
We have the technology, what holds us back is red tape, and frankly, a lack of real desire to solve the situation for citizens (as groups exploit the crisis for their own end political goals, ignoring the plight of hard-working citizens). The President should (must) demand an end to bizarre regulations holding back both expanding exploration and new alternative technology, and do it now.
Yes we can! … get the job done (after all economics isn’t rocket science).
- Accept no excuses — demand action.
- When Obama says drilling won’t help, immediately ask follow-up questions — what will supply be like if we don’t act now to increase production? Do you think doing nothing will increase supply? And how will keeping supply low lower prices? Does economic theory no longer hold?
- Ask McCain why he’s not calling for the government to lead in alternative energy usage and move away from oil. Even if what government develops has no commercial use at all, just getting the government off oil will increase supply and help lower prices and lengthen time we can use reserves. The Federal Government should immediately launch a Kennedy-esqe commitment to wean government off oil within 10 years.
- Ask Obama how increasing costs (new taxes) can lower prices. Ask him to cite cases where increased costs and taxes have lowered prices. Don’t fall for empty rhetoric or fancy slogans, demand real answers.
- This is a non-partisan issue. The left gets what they want (alternative energy, higher MPG standards, biofuel, etc), while the right gets increased drilling and production. Neither partisan side “wins” — the citizen does. Isn’t that what government is for?
It’s time to get it done. If you remember Kennedy and the state of our space program at the time he said it, you’re reminded what a dedicated group of people working toward a common goal can achieve — it can be done (we succeeded in rocket science, surely economics isn’t beyond grasp). But it takes more than empty partisian rhetoric and selfish self-serving politicians with catchy slogans saying one thing, but secretly working towards other goals.
This is a breathtaking pace, and such a pace cannot help but create new ills as it dispels old, new ignorance, new problems, new dangers. Surely the opening vistas of space promise high costs and hardships, as well as high reward.
So it is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this state of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them. This country was conquered by those who moved forward — and so will space.
We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win … [John F. Kennedy, 1962]
Yes we can.
Continue with Part II — Moving to the world that works.