Archive for October, 2009

Language and Definitions

There’s a lot of talk recently if the federal government has the right to mandate its citizens to buy anything, even health insurance.  Most states mandate that you buy car insurance IF you drive.  But you don’t have to drive.  So there is only a mandate if you choose to partake in that activity.  Since some of the health care legislation that has come down off the Hill includes mandates, that if not fulfilled result in a fine, people are now questioning the Constitutionality of these bills.

Many in Congress who approve of mandates will cite the “general welfare” clause in the Constitution.  To understand why that doesn’t fit, you have to go back to 1776 and understand what “general welfare” meant.  Here is a good write-up on the situation, including quotes from Jefferson.  Bottom line, the government can’t force anyone to buy anything.



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Compare and Contrast

Average salary for: normal U.S. citizen is $52,000 a year while the average member of Congress earns $174,000 plus benefits.  The Minority and Majority leaders of both houses make $193,400 and the Speaker of the House makes $223,500.  A Cost of Living Increase is automatic every year for those that “work for the people” unless they vote against it.  In addition to Social Security they also get a pension.  They are vested after 5 years. 

Members of Congress also get a sweet health care plan.  Nothing like they are thinking about implementing for the people.  No.  Their coverage lasts a lifetime, even if they leave Congress.  It’s portable, meaning they take it across state lines.  We the people can’t do that.  They choose from over 20 plans.  They can’t be denied for pre-existing conditions.  One of the reasons that the government health plan is better than most Americans is that they have a huge pool of employees.  So insurance companies want to be a part of the plan.  That gives the government employees a large section of choices to choose from.  The large selection of choices helps keep costs lower.  Seems like choice and competition works.  At least it’s good enough for some people: the new monarchy.

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Imagine you are just starting out in life.  You get your first job, putting a bit of money in your pocket.  You have big dreams for the future.  You can be anything you want to be.  Then you get a letter in the mail… well, a bill actually.  You get a bill for around $50 grand.  You never chose to get in that kind of debt.  You don’t even know what the bill is for.  Well, that’s what we’re doing to our kids and grandkids right now.  It’s every parent’s dream to give their children a better life.  All we’re doing is giving them our debt because the only solution our politicians can ever come up with is to spend more money.  Our spending is killing the liberty in this country.  It is narrowing our choices for the present and for the future. 

Having wealth and stability are essential for liberty.  That doesn’t mean you need to be a millionaire, but it does mean that having financial freedom gives you the ability to live your life and grow and pursue happiness.  Our politicians are denying that to us right now.  Every penny spent is a penny that has to be paid back.  Government is not in the business of making money.  That’s not what they do.  They get money from the people.  Every penny they waste is another one you can’t use for your life.

“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.” –Thomas Jefferson to A. L. C. Destutt de Tracy, 1820.

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Big Business

A lot of people bemoan “big business” and place a large amount of blame for economic woes on the shoulders of such companies like Wal-Mart, oil companies, and insurance companies.  Do these people realize that government is big business too?  Government accounts for about 17% of United States employment.  During the “Great Recession” private sector employment has dropped by around 6.9 million jobs.  During that same time period, government employment has risen by about 110 thousand jobs. 

Some people will say, so what?  Well, in order to employ this amount of people, the government, local, state, and federal, need money to pay salaries, benefits, rent, utility bills, etc.  A normal business, say a restaurant that employs 40 people, needs to sell a certain amount of food and drink to afford all these things.  The government gets money through taxes and fees.  Not only that, you have a choice whether or not to go pay $34 for a veal chop at your local eating establishment.  You don’t have that choice with paying taxes and other fees.  We won’t even talk about the extra government services that cost money.

Essentially, government is a business and has most of the same issues that other businesses have.  Only they don’t live in the same reality.  When the people stop eating at that restaurant, the restaurant has to: cut back, raise prices, go out of business, or borrow more money.  The borrowing can’t go on forever.  Right now, tax receipts are way down.  What is the government doing about it?  State and local governments are looking at cutting back on certain things.  The Federal government is expanding at an insane clip.  This isn’t reality based.  Remember principles?  To get a tomato plant to grow you have to follow certain steps.  Same with running a business.  Government isn’t following these steps.  The other shoe has to drop at some point.

Take the healthcare bill.  They are claiming a bill that will cost billions is budget neutral.  How?  The only ways to be budget neutral when spending money is to: have the money to spend (we don’t), cut costs and services, raise prices and fees to make up for the loss of money.  This is how a business works.  So either the government is going to cut medical services and/or raise prices and fees, or they don’t care about adding onto our debt.  Again, the other shoe has to drop.  And anytime a politician says they are going to get rid of “waste and abuse” ask them why they haven’t done so already.  Why wouldn’t you get rid of that if you could or cared to?  If the government healthcare plan passes, get ready for increased cost or worse service.  (If insurance companies or doctors are charged fees, they will pass them on.  This is another reality of business.)  Do you want either of those options?

Another interesting thought.  With private businesses, the more you pay the better service you usually get.  With government business, it’s usually the opposite.

So the next time someone decries “big business” and how stores like Wal-Mart crowd out the smaller “mom and pop” stores.  Ask them what they think of one of the biggest businesses of all, government.

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