Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Finally, An Attempt to Ask For the Truth

I have been working on a post for a couple of weeks. I read a story today that said everything I was also trying to say. So, I dumped what I was working on, and instead I am reprinting the article. This is such a great open letter! It is long so please read to the end, and everyone who starts to think that this is just more ramblings from the right, keep this in mind. It was written by a Democrat.

WorldWatch First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC

By Orson Scott Card
October 5, 2008

Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights?

An open letter to the local daily paper -- almost every local daily paper in America:

I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.

This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.

It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.

What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.
The goal of this rule change was to help the poor -- which especially would help members of minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house -- along with their credit rating.

They end up worse off than before.

This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.

Furthermore, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were making political contributions to the very members of Congress who were allowing them to make irresponsible loans. (Though why quasi-federal agencies were allowed to do so baffles me. It's as if the Pentagon were allowed to contribute to the political campaigns of Congressmen who support increasing their budget.)
Isn't there a story here? Doesn't journalism require that you who produce our daily paper tell the truth about who brought us to a position where the only way to keep confidence in our economy was a $700 billion bailout? Aren't you supposed to follow the money and see which politicians were benefiting personally from the deregulation of mortgage lending?

I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal. "Housing-gate," no doubt. Or "Fannie-gate."

Instead, it was Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, both Democrats, who denied that there were any problems, who refused Bush administration requests to set up a regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who were still pushing for these agencies to go even further in promoting subprime mortgage loans almost up to the minute they failed.

As Thomas Sowell points out in a essay entitled Do Facts Matter? "Alan Greenspan warned them four years ago. So did the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President. So did Bush's Secretary of the Treasury."

These are facts. This financial crisis was completely preventable. The party that blocked any attempt to prevent it was ... the Democratic Party. The party that tried to prevent it was ... the Republican Party.

Yet when Nancy Pelosi accused the Bush administration and Republican deregulation of causing the crisis, you in the press did not hold her to account for her lie. Instead, you criticized Republicans who took offense at this lie and refused to vote for the bailout!

What? It's not the liar, but the victims of the lie who are to blame?

Now let's follow the money ... right to the presidential candidate who is the number-two recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae.

And after Freddie Raines, the CEO of Fannie Mae who made $90 million while running it into the ground, was fired for his incompetence, one presidential candidate's campaign actually consulted him for advice on housing.

If that presidential candidate had been John McCain, you would have called it a major scandal and we would be getting stories in your paper every day about how incompetent and corrupt he was.

But instead, that candidate was Barack Obama, and so you have buried this story, and when the McCain campaign dared to call Raines an "adviser" to the Obama campaign -- because that campaign had sought his advice -- you actually let Obama's people get away with accusing McCain of lying, merely because Raines wasn't listed as an official adviser to the Obama campaign.

You would never tolerate such weaselly nit-picking from a Republican.

If you who produce our local daily paper actually had any principles, you would be pounding this story, because the prosperity of all Americans was put at risk by the foolish, short-sighted, politically selfish, and possibly corrupt actions of leading Democrats, including Obama.

If you who produce our local daily paper had any personal honor, you would find it unbearable to let the American people believe that somehow Republicans were to blame for this crisis.

There are precedents. Even though President Bush and his administration never said that Iraq sponsored or was linked to 9/11, you could not stand the fact that Americans had that misapprehension -- so you pounded us with the fact that there was no such link. (Along the way, you created the false impression that Bush had lied to them and said that there was a connection.)

If you had any principles, then surely right now, when the American people are set to blame President Bush and John McCain for a crisis they tried to prevent, and are actually shifting to approve of Barack Obama because of a crisis he helped cause, you would be laboring at least as hard to correct that false impression.

Your job, as journalists, is to tell the truth. That's what you claim you do, when you accept people's money to buy or subscribe to your paper.

But right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie -- that the housing crisis should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans. You have trained the American people to blame everything bad -- even bad weather -- on Bush, and they are responding as you have taught them to.

If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth -- even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate.

Because that's what honorable people do. Honest people tell the truth even when they don't like the probable consequences. That's what honesty means. That's how trust is earned.

Barack Obama is just another politician, and not a very wise one. He has revealed his ignorance and naivete time after time -- and you have swept it under the rug, treated it as nothing.

Meanwhile, you have participated in the borking of Sarah Palin, reporting savage attacks on her for the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter -- while you ignored the story of John Edwards's own adultery for many months.

So I ask you now: Do you have any standards at all? Do you even know what honesty means?
Is getting people to vote for Barack Obama so important that you will throw away everything that journalism is supposed to stand for?

You might want to remember the way the National Organization of Women threw away their integrity by supporting Bill Clinton despite his well-known pattern of sexual exploitation of powerless women. Who listens to NOW anymore? We know they stand for nothing; they have no principles.

That's where you are right now.

It's not too late. You know that if the situation were reversed, and the truth would damage McCain and help Obama, you would be moving heaven and earth to get the true story out there.

If you want to redeem your honor, you will swallow hard and make a list of all the stories you would print if it were McCain who had been getting money from Fannie Mae, McCain whose campaign had consulted with its discredited former CEO, McCain who had voted against tightening its lending practices.

Then you will print them, even though every one of those true stories will point the finger of blame at the reckless Democratic Party, which put our nation's prosperity at risk so they could feel good about helping the poor, and lay a fair share of the blame at Obama's door.

You will also tell the truth about John McCain: that he tried, as a Senator, to do what it took to prevent this crisis. You will tell the truth about President Bush: that his administration tried more than once to get Congress to regulate lending in a responsible way.

This was a Congress-caused crisis, beginning during the Clinton administration, with Democrats leading the way into the crisis and blocking every effort to get out of it in a timely fashion.

If you at our local daily newspaper continue to let Americans believe --and vote as if -- President Bush and the Republicans caused the crisis, then you are joining in that lie.

If you do not tell the truth about the Democrats -- including Barack Obama -- and do so with the same energy you would use if the miscreants were Republicans -- then you are not journalists by any standard.

You're just the public relations machine of the Democratic Party, and it's time you were all fired and real journalists brought in, so that we can actually have a daily newspaper in our city.

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.


That article says everything I wanted to say. Thank you Orson Scott Card, for having the honesty and guts to say it for me. Please forward this to as many people as you can. It is not too late to get the truth out there!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Simple way to explain how taxes work

I have heard this explanation of taxes and how they work before, but I think it is a very good way to simply explain this to people in a straight forward easy to understand story.

Thanks to my brother-in-law for sending this to me written out. Here is the story...

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand.

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. "Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?' They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce eachman's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the $20,"declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man," but he got $10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar,too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics
University of Georgia

For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not understand, no explanation is possible.

...This is such a great illustration of how our tax system works, and how some exploit "tax cuts for the rich." I could say more, but I will let this story speak for itself.

Thanks again to my brother-in-law for sending this to me, and to David Kamerschen, Ph.D. for writing it in the first place.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One big reason Obama Scares me

There are many reasons to vote against Barrack Obama for President. You can go down the whole judgement path with his associations with questionable characters, but if you want to stick to the issues here is a big one.

While in Toledo recently, a plumber raised the issue with Obama that under Obama's economic plan, the plumber's taxes would go up. Listen to the clip below which features Obama's answer. Listen carefully. Listen twice if you need to, I'll wait.

Okay, are the hairs on the back of your neck standing up? This has to be one of the scariest answers to a tax question I have ever heard from a Presidential candidate. For those who don't understand the answer, let me spell it out as clearly as I can. This is pure Socialism. Obama is talking about redistribution of wealth here. He believes that he knows better than you do how to use your money.

If you have a friend or relative that thinks Obama has a good economic plan try explaining it to them this way.

Let's imagine that Obama has proposed a new tax plan that he is running through congress. Let's also say he is calling it The citizen helps plan for America. In this plan, the government will decide who owes money and who needs help. Instead of you paying your taxes to the government (remember, even if you got a refund, you still probably paid some amount), your neighbor sends you a bill that says you have to pay them directly. It could be $2000.00 a year, or $500.00 a quarter, but either way, you are legally bound to pay your neighbor the money because the government decided that you make too much and your neighbor doesn't make enough. If you don't cut your neighbor a check and they complain, you will be held accountable by the government. Maybe you won't be able to register your car, or you get a fine, or something similar.

Do you think this idea would fly with the American people? No way, you're crazy, people would never agree to this idea would they?

The only difference between my example above and Obama's plan is the middle man. Yes, under his plan, you pay the government, they hold the money for awhile, and then they decide who to cut the checks to.

So, you think I'm exaggerating? You think his plan doesn't do this? Obama keeps saying that 95% of Americans won't pay any additional taxes. He also claims that most of the middle class will get a tax cut. Wait, lets look at his tax plan a little closer here.

First: The first thing Obama plans to do is repeal the Bush tax cuts. That will immediately raise everyone's taxes. Even though the Liberals like to claim that the Bush tax cuts were only cuts to the rich, the fact is the middle class got a very nice tax cut as well. My own tax burden went down over $2000.00 with the cuts and I am anything but rich.

Next: Obama doesn't have any actual tax cuts in his plan. He calls them refundable tax credits. Now, this is important because it means that anyone can claim these credits, even if they don't owe any taxes at all. Stick with me on this one because this is where the wealth transfer happens. If someone doesn't pay any taxes because their income level is too low, but they are still able to claim these credits, it means they are getting money from the government. Money that you and everyone else that does pay taxes is going to those who don't! Isn't this exactly the same thing as the example I used above?

Also: Let's not forget, Obama has also promised to raise capital gains taxes which will affect anyone who has a 401k, 403b, or any other savings plan that has money in the stock market. He has promised to raise corporate income taxes on any business that makes over $250,000.00 a year. He claims this won't affect small businesses, but one study showed that over 97% of all small businesses in America make over this amount a year.

He also wants to tax what he calls windfall profits on businesses. Okay, first of all, what constitutes a windfall profit, and who gets to decide? Secondly, if a company is worried about getting hit with this tax, will they strive to reach those profits, or will they slow production when they get close to this magic mythical number? Finally, Liberals don't seem to understand that companies don't pay taxes. Huh? That doesn't make sense? Think about it this way; if a company's price on anything goes up, do they just pay the increase or do they raise the price they charge to customers? Does the price of milk, eggs, clothing, or anything else go up? Why? Because the producer of those products had an increase somewhere while making the product. This includes taxes the business has to pay!

Okay, with all of Obama's tax increases coupled with repealing the Bush tax cuts, and no actual tax cuts. Obama will push this economy into a recession that may take years to reverse.

That scares me! It should scare you too!