Limited Internet access results in a limited blog today. Please recall, no blog tomorrow due to the Sabbath. Back at you Sunday night! Be well.
Today's news of the shooting in Aurora, Colorado has now been distributed on all media. The questions surrounding this tragedy may never be fully known or understood. One thing is for certain, the man responsible for this heinous act should NOT be allowed even one second of fame. Instead, he should suffer a total lack of public attention. In fact, he should be tried in a closed courtroom before a Jury oh his peers and sentenced without fanfare (provided he has first been afforded a fair trial). In short, this senseless shooting is just that, senseless. Assess all the blame to the guilty perpetrator, but none of the fame. (please excuse any poor grammar or spelling...I have 5 minutes to be on the Internet at the AP Conference.
Limited Internet access results in a limited blog today. Please recall, no blog tomorrow due to the Sabbath. Back at you Sunday night! Be well.
As I sit in Orlando, I am amazed that the Internet is something of an enigma here is the land of Disney. In fact, Verizon not only does not have 4G here, it does not even have 3G, in fact I am not sure it has barely a simple signal. Our normally reliable GPS through Verizon is apparently lost "searching for GPS Signal" and we have no idea where we should go except the hotel we are staying or the hotels hosting our respective conferences. When we took a wrong turn and wound up at Epcot instead of my conference hotel, we had to explain to the parking fee taker our dilemma and he smiled politely and said in a foreign accent, "GPS no work here." Nice deduction, we already figured that out when we were directed to somewhere other than where we asked to be directed to.
Anyway, my conference is going "the distance" time wise and I have very little access to Internet (let alone cellphone GPS) is available. As a result, please "hang with me" and stop back frequently to see if I have been successful getting back on. Even if I knew how to use my Droid phone as a server (which I do not), Verizon might let me down as my signal is inconsistent and weak overall.
Just about as weak is Ann Romney's comments that the Romney family tax returns is not an issue for further discussion, not because Mitt has released them, but because Ann has determined that "...we've given all our people need to know." Mrs. Romney has determined that the American people have no right to know anything further about their personal finances and tax returns. Excuse me Mrs. Romney, but this attitude is directly reminiscent of King George, whom we started a revolution against. Think about the parallels. The American Colonists complained to the King about taxes and regulations and King George responded that a King does not have to answer to the people, the people have to answer to the King. King George also went on to state that the American people did not dictate royal policy and that Americans were disrespectful to the Crown when making such demands. He also thought we were acting "Childish." Jump forward to Ann Romney's two statements. First, "It's Mitt's turn to be president." Really, I was not aware we have a chain or tree of succession (like a royal family), and second, The American people have a RIGHT to know virtually everything about our prospective presidents (even Mitt's dad released all of his tax returns when campaigning for president), and they have all traditionally disclosed personal matters when demanded by the people. Now Obama may have disclosed everything, but many simply don't like what he has disclosed. But Ann Romney sounds more like Queen Victoria by saying "We are NOT amused." Words of advice to Ann Romney...when the American people ask, you ANSWER!
Equally amazing is the fact the Romney camp has known about these tax issues since he became a public figure, and they still have no plausible defense or response to the tax return questions. Are we seeing a pattern here when Romney refuses to give specifics about any of his policies and instead insists he will disclose them after he is elected? I submit that Romney WILL disclose his returns and will deal with what they say, or else Americans will begin to distrust his honesty and his ability to serve as President of the United States. Somehow Ann Romney has shown again that Mitt Romney's relationship with Americans is a bad connection.
As mentioned on my What's Happening in Politics page, The New York Times just reported that the economic future for states remains cloudy, not because the economy will continue to remain stagnant, but because the states' handling of its finances are proving to be a "disaster waiting to happen." According to the report, the independent State Budget Crisis Task Force, several states will suffer fiscal crisis far after the economy does rebound. The reasons? States have done a horrific job of dealing with infrastructure needs and costs, underfunded pensions, eroding revenues (tax cuts), cuts to education, and increased debt to creditors all aligned with expected reductions in federal spending (due to demands from the GOP). So, how did this happen? Now don't get me wrong, but who are these people to talk this way about state finances? The task force's findings were reported by their two chairs, Paul A. Volcker, former Fed. Chair under Presidents Carter and Reagan along with Richard Raviotch, former Lt. Governor of New York.
In Florida, Tea Party Favorite and GOP Governor Rick Scott has campaigned on the narrative that evil lurks in the ranks of public employees, namely teachers working on all levels of education. Seems Mr. Scott did not like school. He came out earlier in the year complaining that there are too many professors teaching sociology and the liberal arts. Mr. Scott does not seem to know that many entrepreneurs have liberal arts backgrounds, and not all have business degrees (regardless, who taught any of them...teachers that's who). To carry this political objective further, Mr. Scott cut $1.6 billion from the 2011 State Budget. In addition to these cuts, Mr. Scott and his GOP supporters in the Statehouse, convinced voters that one of the main reasons for the State's fiscal troubles has been its underfunded public employee pension plans. As a result, many teachers in the State of Florida have moved elsewhere or become unemployed. In the Sarasota County School District, there has been a "hiring freeze" for three straight years and a wage freeze now for five straight years. While Mr. Scott led the ideological war against teachers, he marched forward with immediate tax cuts for business under the banner of "creating jobs." Now the independent task force reports the real reason for underfunded pensions is because of fiscal irresponsibility on the part of lawmakers, not educators and their "bad guy" unions as claimed.
Within the last year in Florida, public employees did not sit idly by while the Governor and his supporters were demonizing them. Education related groups instead took the Governor to task by filing suit with the Florida Court alleging public pensions have been traditionally underfunded by the State and that any inabilities to meet its future unfunded obligations rests solely at the feet of our public officials and not at the feet of the teachers (but the real legal argument is that the State, when raising this tax on public teachers, did so without regard to existing collective bargaining contracts prohibiting the increase). When a lower Court agreed, the State appealed directly to the Florida Supreme Court. The Court has agreed to rule on the matter by (appropriately) this Labor Day. Any guesses on how much the State of Florida is spending on litigation against its own citizens? Now that's responsible government!
My point is this. GOP leaders on the state and national level have no problem fighting tooth and nail to protect the wealthiest Americans with net earnings of at least $1 Million from paying 3% more in income taxes, but no one seems to care that Florida teachers making an average of $46,708 (per Tampa Bay Times) are being taxed an additional 3% by the GOP (who ironically claim they abhor tax increases). Isn't paying 3% more towards pensions really another form of a tax? Of course it is!
Why, it's all those public employees and their expensive pensions fault, right? At least, that has been the GOP's argument all along. Yet, according to the task force report, states have been raping their pension funds, using them to fill in budget shortfalls instead of funding their obligations owed. According to the times article, "When desperate budget officials go looking for money to balance their budgets, they often see public pension funds as an almost irresistible pool of money." The Bureau found that states have shortchanged their pension contributions by no less than $50 Billion, which does not take into account pensi0n losses since 2008. Does not take losses due to the recession into account? What have these states been doing with the money then?
When an independent task force reveals that state public pension plans are not able to meet its obligations, not because of employee and union abuses, but because states choose to cut their funding and "borrow" the money that was set aside to pay for them, then where is the public outcry when teachers and public employees get hammered and are threatened with the loss or reduction of their retirement benefits? When the wealthiest Americans continue to get tax breaks as "job creators" and those who have attained higher education choose to teach instead of work in the private sector get less and less compensation, AND public scorn to boot, where is the outcry from the political Right about the "redistribution of wealth" when it is paid out of teacher's pockets? Instead, the GOP tosses out a crumb or two about "out of control" teachers' unions, thuggery, etc. But who has been playing fast and loose with the money? Or the truth?
What do I know, I now am only paid 1/3 of what I made working in the private sector as an attorney? But virtually all teachers do not teach because they will make a lot of money, because the truth is that they don't. Teachers work for lower pay instead with the promise of a secure retirement. They work in the schools because they love to teach and make a difference in students' lives. Not quite the difference some politicians seek to make in our lives. Do people care about teachers anymore?
Once again a politician has conveniently re-written history so that it fits his current narrative. Just yesterday, while raising $1.7 Million at a $50,000 a plate luncheon in Mississippi, Mitt Romney made this bold assertion;
"We're accused, by the way - in our party - of being the party
of the rich," Romney said. "And it's an awful moniker, because
that's just not true. We're the party of people who want to get
rich. And we're also the part of people who want to care to help
people from getting poor. We want to help the poor. "We also
want to make sure people don't have to become poor," Romney
said. "And we know what it takes to keep people from
Don't get me wrong, the Democrats are raising a ton of money at fundraisers as well, and I have made myself clear that I oppose the buying and selling of our elections and our government. But a closer look at Romney's statement about the GOP would make any student of American History shudder. Originally, I wrote a summary of every platform and policy agenda the GOP has pursued since 1900, but realized I would come off as being biased and too "lecture like." The reality is that since the Gilded Age, the Progressive Era, the Roaring Twenties, The Great Depression, the WWII Era, The Truman years, Johnson's "Great Society," and now the creeping recovery from the "Great Recession" the GOP has always been the political party of the rich. Even now, the GOP and its faithful appear embarrassed their Republican president (Theodore Roosevelt) was even involved in progressive politics during the early 1900's. The "Republican Decade" of the 1920's proved to be a financial nightmare with government stripping all regulations from banking and industry (which collapsed under the weight of their unregulated greed). The GOP opposed the New Deal along with Social Security and continued their opposition to national health care proposed as far back as the Truman Administration. The GOP opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and... Oops, I said I would not lecture.
It just seems hard to believe that modern politicians seem to think that Americans cannot "fact check" what they say by simply clicking on Google or any other Internet search engine. Mitt Romney is not being honest when he says the GOP has not been the party of the rich. It is also more like selling snake oil when he proposes they believe in everybody getting rich. This sentiment may make the uneducated and weak minded jump for joy, but who do you really think most of these rich folks have used to get themselves their wealth? Historically, its been from the uneducated and weak minded. There is nothing wrong with being rich (I believe I am in many ways), but lying about actual history of the GOP caring for the poor and working middle class is hardly to be taken seriously.
The GOP has a long history of working against the interests of the working poor. Their contemporary attacks on public workers, including firefighters, police and teachers further evidence their disdain for the working Middle Class as well. Why the vitriol in this post? Because for decades I was a Republican, dedicated to principals that reward success with an eye towards leveling the playing field between the rich and those that work hard to get ahead in this World (like I did). I am no longer a Republican because the GOP has lost its way, and instead has become delusional with the prevailing belief they alone have all the answers to prosperity in both economic and moral sense, and that their mantra should again be "Less Government in Business and More Business in Government." As a student of American History, I know such a platform has never worked for our Nation and no matter how much the GOP attempts to repackage and resell it, it is irresponsible. Why? because government is a reflection of our community and is not designed to make a profit. Government is about handling crisis and matters that affect every citizen of the United States. Do I believe government should play a role in our lives? To an extent, yes, but I also believe in the philosophies of the Framers of our Constitution. Does government need reform? Yes. Do we need to return to a truly "Representative Democracy?" Absolutely! But come on Mr. Romney, when it comes to your most recent claims about the GOP, you are wrong. When it comes to being the party of the rich, the GOP is just that. Mr. Romney, it IS true.
According to The New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson, several Wall Street firms have engaged in a long-standing practice of giving their largest investors sneak peaks into analysis and other projections relating to publicly traded companies. Although such actions are prohibited by Federal regulations, it appears many firms maintain close relationships with large hedge fund investors by sneaking them otherwise "secret" information, allowing them to get a jump on investment deals ordinary investors would never benefit from. The Securities and Exchange Commission review of this practice came to light as a result of the initial public offering of Facebook, where many large investors made huge profits from the quick purchasing and sale of the initial offering, at the detriment of the smaller investors who bought and immediately faced holding shares of a stock of diminishing market value.
According to the documents obtained by the Times from the SEC, it appears large hedge fund companies routinely submitted questionnaires to Wall Street firms about certain companies' revenue projections, potential for takeovers or acquisitions, and more importantly, brokerage firm buy or sell recommendations, all ahead of any disclosure to the ordinary investor public. Naturally, all of the firms involved, including Citigroup, UBS, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Blackrock and others have denied involvement or made no comment about any of these actions. The SEC investigation is ongoing.
Now I know many will say the Times is a liberal newspaper and is biased and you "can't believe everything you read" prattle. But isn't it at least nice to know our Federal government is keeping an eye on potential unlawful behavior by some of the largest financial players in the World, especially in light of their most recent abysmal track record? It never ceases to amaze me when politicians convince Americans that Wall Street is "over-regulated" and that such regulation leads to "a destruction of the Free Markets." What's "free" about them if the big boys play by a different set of rules, which ultimately comes back to hurt small investors caught in their web of stock manipulation or the rest of us when these firm get caught and claim they are "Too Big To Fail." Are they too big to fail, or are they too big to care?
I recently had a discussion with some folks about the current political malaise in America and was delighted to learn from those I spoke with that I was able to confirm what I suspected all along...that very few Americans really know how our government is structured. It was also confirmed that folks believe everything they hear from ideologically based media about what the Constitution actually says and the roles it provides to Congress, the president and to the courts. All without any appreciation of American History and how it too shaped the Constitution. One gentleman that I respect, clung to his political beliefs and made some good points about the need for entitlement and tax reform. When pressed further though, he fell back onto tried and true blanket labels like Obama is a "Communist" and wants the country to "fail." Along these lines, he indicated that all things "progressive" are really "Communistic" and not what our Country is about. When I pressed him about the "Progressive Era" he again stated it was led by "Communists." Apparently, he was not fully aware that the Progressive Era was around the turn of the 20th Century as he slammed FDR for his "Socialist" policies, including the imposition of the Graduated Income Tax.
He seemed a bit "off guard" when I explained to him that GOP President Theodore Roosevelt led the "Progressive Era" that included the establishment of Pure Food and Drug Legislation, a spate of Child Labor Laws, eight hour work days, environmental protection, etc. He also was unaware that the graduated income tax was proposed in 1909 by GOP President William Howard Taft, leading to the ratification of the 16th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1913. It is the first time I have ever heard anyone describe GOP Presidents Roosevelt and Taft as "Communists."
Shortly after, someone else engaged in the discussion, except it was more of a rant than any real discussion. This individual chimed in that Obama is a "Communist, destroying our Country and the Constitution." When I asked them to explain, I basically was told that "He is the worst president ever" - "the most unqualified" -"all he ever did was work as a social worker" - "that he has ruined business in America with all of his regulations" - "that he wants to do away with the Constitution while running us into bankruptcy with all of his taxing and spending" - "that he has made us more unsafe by having us rely more on foreign oil while killing American Oil companies" and "look what he has done to Israel." I was shocked. When I mentioned that Obama, having served as an Illinois State Senator and a US Senator before becoming President actually had more experience than Abraham Lincoln, her response was "I don't know from Lincoln, I only know Obama is the Worse. Even worse than that Carter!" I thought about Ronald Reagan's qualifications before becoming president (Governor of California), but I was sure she would not see the lunacy of using governorship as a requisite to become president since she ranked former governor Carter at the bottom, (save Obama). What struck me most was how she insisted someday we would sit down and have an "intelligent conversation" about why Obama is a "Communist." She went on to say "I'm from Russia and I KNOW a Communist when I see one."
But lets look at some facts here. What evidence does anyone have that Obama is trying to "destroy" the Constitution? What evidence does anyone have that Obama is taxing and spending us into bankruptcy when Congress has the exclusive power to tax and spend and the president can only spend what Congress gives him?
What evidence does anyone have that Obama is trying to kill American Oil producers by forcing them to shut down operations and making us rely more on foreign oil? NONE is the answer, unless you only watch or listen to ideologically oriented media! According to the July 14th - 20th, 2012 issue of The Economist, whose cover has a pumped up Uncle Sam with the headline that reads, "Comeback Kid, Rebuilding America's Economy," America has undergone an economic transformation the World is envious of. Along those lines, the magazine reports that the American petroleum industry leads the world in new exploration, technology and output. Most oil producers are now facing a crisis, not of supply but of storage space for all of the oil it must store. With the advanced use of "Fracking" a process to capture and recover natural gas, the article explains quite clearly how America is moving to the forefront in the exporting of cost efficient and environmentally friendly natural gas, while lowering demand for oil (leading to a lowering of prices at the pump). The argument that gas prices are too high because of the Obama Administration are without merit. Obama himself has included natural gas in all of his "green" technology initiatives, something his opposition conveniently ignores when promoting their rhetoric against his leadership.
What about "destroying the Constitution?" What about being a "Communist" or a "Socialist"? If Obama was determined to make America a "Communist" country, why have all of the oil companies, banks and Wall Street firms enjoyed multibillion dollar profits? When it comes to Israel, what exactly has Obama done to change the status quo for Israel in the Middle East? Do folks actually believe it would be different today under any other president? When folks rant about Obama's speech that Israel return to the 1967 borders with land swaps, they conveniently forget or refuse to learn that every American President since Nixon has said the exact same thing, except President George W. Bush (whom many claim was a "great friend to Israel") - who stated in a 2008 speech in Jerusalem that the 1949 borders would be an appropriate starting point! Am I making this part up? Here is the exact quote from the Bush White House website:
While territory is an issue for both parties to decide, I believe that any peace agreement between them
will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities and to
ensure that the Palestinian state is viable and contiguous. I believe we need to look to the establishment
of a Palestinian state and new international mechanisms, including compensation, to resolve the refugee
issue. See http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2008/01/20080110-3.html
But why do folks refuse to know what is really happening when it comes to politics? Why is it that everyone respects a doctor when he makes his diagnosis, but no one listens when those who teach politics and American History point out their errors in judgment or thinking? There a great number of potential readers of my new book, but will they bother to read it and learn? Why should they when they already know what they know!?
Recently, my wife "attacked" herself while cutting a Spaghetti Squash. No, she did not intend to do herself any harm. She simply was trying to take down a rather tough squash to be used with dinner. Even a very sharp knife was no match for the squash, as it refused to be taken down lightly. Unfortunately, in her struggle to assert her ultimate strength and control over that recalcitrant squash, her hand slipped and in addition to the squash's injuries, she suffered a self-inflicted wound to her left hand. Upon inspection of the wound, it was determined that a trip to the local hospital's emergency room was in order. Upon arriving, we found the ER to be relatively quiet with a child waiting to have a broken arm dealt with and a man complaining of a sore front tooth.
Due to the relatively calm ER, my wife's paperwork was dutifully completed and processed and she was taken fairly quickly to Triage to determine a prognosis for the wound. As predicted, she would require stitches, three of them to be exact. We were then casually led to a room within the ER where she was directed to lay on a gurney and prepped by a kind nurse in anticipation of the doctor's appearance. The ER doc appeared and quietly dispatched the wound with three stitches and instructed us to have her hand checked in a few days.
By the time we left the hospital, we had spent a grand total of 48 minutes there...some sort of record I am sure! With a visit to check the wound a few days later (and a $50.00 charge), we set off on our summer travels. Upon returning, we received a notice of payment due for the 48 minute ordeal at the hospital's ER. According to the statement (which was conveniently NOT itemized), our insurance carrier paid a total of $862.70 for the serviced rendered by the Hospital. What came as a surprise though, was the demand that we owed a balance not paid by our insurance carrier... an additional amount of $650.00. What are the odds that an actual amount owed would be an exact $650.00 and not $627.48 or some more realistic number? But that is besides the point (and please do not think I have angst towards doctors...they are members of a very noble and intelligent class of folks...my Son-In-Law is a member of their Radiology ranks).
The point is that the total cost of 48 minutes in the local ER works out to at least $31 a minute or $504.26 per stitch! But what did it cost the family that needed their boy's broken arm fixed or the guy with the sore front tooth? Did they have insurance to cover their ER costs? How much of our charge is really not about the treatment we received, but about covering the Hospital's overall expenses to cover those without any health insurance? We hear a lot about how unfair the Obamacare ruling is and how it has taken more of our liberties and freedoms away from us by requiring everyone to have health insurance. But who will actually be taxed if they already have health insurance? I know it will not affect me, but instead may affect the 33 Million Americans who show up at the ER and expect treatment without any means to pay for it. Until we have everyone on some form of health insurance, aren't Americans like my wife and I subsidizing their costs for health care through outrageous charges for our services actually covered by insurance? If Obamacare was ruled unconstitutional or the GOP Congress successfully repeals the law, wouldn't folks with insurance continue to pay $31 per minute for health care in order to pay for the services rendered to those who choose not to have health insurance coverage? Before Obamacare, haven't we been taxed already?
As a follow-up, we received the requested itemized statement of charges from the hospital. On it we found $20o for pharmacy charges, but no explanation of what this charge is, and a "Fast Process" fee of $1,500 +, whatever that means. The total cost they claim is over $2,800, not the original $1,512 as thought. That would make the cost equal to $58 per minute or $933.00 per stitch. We will be asking what the Pharmacy charge was for before we pay them.
The Boston Globe has recently reported that Mitt Romney actually remained in control of Bain Capital far longer than has been claimed by him and his campaign staff. But why is this a potential problem for Mr. Romney? Why is it a big deal if he remained in control of his own company longer than 1999 as he has always claimed? Because Bain's activities as a venture capital firm went into overdrive from 1999 to 2002, leveraging corporations for mere "venture" profit, solely designed to out source jobs and extract as much cash as possible before leaving the shell of the companies to die a slow death in bankruptcy. Romney has claimed all along that he was not involved during this type of activity because he left in 1999, before the majority of such action was undertaken. According to the Globe article, Romney was still involved, all the way through 2002 when he was elected Massachusetts governor. Apparently, Mitt forgot that he reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission that he was indeed involved through 2002, and not just as a shareholder, but as Chairman, CEO, and President. You can now imagine the intense efforts the Obama camp will pursue to demand that Romney disclose his tax returns for those years (which Romney has refused to release). It now makes Romney's refusal to disclose those years' returns more than a bit sketchy. As predicted in an earlier posting, I believe Romney will disclose those returns (because he will be forced to). If they indicate money flowed to him from Bain as their owner, CEO. Chairman and President, then the proverbial fan will be running at high speed. Ironically, those on the right have renewed their call for Obama to disclose his college transcripts and financial aid forms. We all know Obama received financial aid, he has repeatedly admitted such. We all know Obama graduated College and Law School, he has admitted such. What we all don't know is the extent of Romney's role at Bain Capital, if any through 2002. If Romney proves himself to be honest on this matter (which we can all hope), than Obama's detractors have some semblance 0f standing to attack him for any of the perceived distortions they dream up.
But will hypocrisy again come into play here? Is Obama "Liar in Chief" as has been promoted on right wing internet sites, or are the claims just political hyperbole? What if Romney's claims about Bain prove to be false? What rationale will his supporters use then? Will Americans again be subjected to even more hypocrisy we have grown to abhor in today's modern political environment? Until we know more about Romney's involvement with Bain Capital, some folks on both sides of the political spectrum need to be careful about throwing stones.
As reported by Michael Cooper of The New York Times, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, recently addressed that group to discuss ways states have chosen to come out of the depths of the recent recession and how different their approaches are to those states controlled by Republican governors. I took particular interest in this story because the Internet is awash with political rhetoric about how every state controlled by Republican governors has improved their state treasury while reducing private sector unemployment (conveniently ignoring the role Federal money has played in allowing them to do so). Interesting to note are the facts raised during the Conference that illustrate the two divergent political models in existence between the ideologies of the Democrats and the Republicans. Two states serve this model well. In Mr. Cooper's report, Maryland, under a Democratic governor and Statehouse, chose to raise income taxes on its top earners in an effort to maintain budgets relating to state services and education. Kansas on the other hand, run by a Republican governor and Statehouse, chose instead to cut income taxes in an effort to make it more "competitive" in the chase for business and potential employers. Although Florida does not have an income tax, the Republican governor and Statehouse have passed successive budgets slashing education, public employment and public sector benefits in an effort to also become "more competitive" for business and potential employers.
It is interesting to note that the differences between the two states could not be more apparent. According to Moody's Investors Service, Maryland's economy has stabilized and its tax revenues have solidified its state budget. Moody's rated Maryland at the top of its credit ratings. On the other hand, Kansas, according to Moody's, will suffer "dramatic revenue loss" and the potential loss of its credit rating. Kansas took the tax cutting approach because they felt it was losing business and related "opportunities" to be more "competitive" with surrounding states having lower tax rates. GOP Gov, Sam Brownback indicated that the loss of revenue has been dramatic at approximately $800 Million, and that additional cuts to social services and education may be necessary. Like Florida, GOP leaders believe continued cuts are the answer to lead to higher prosperity somewhere down the line (while businesses enjoy tax advantages now). In Pennsylvania GOP Governor Tom Corbitt has initiated a policy of trading benefits for the disabled in favor of tax cuts for business. And the beat goes on. Either way, the dilemma facing our state governments in these economic times is whether they should continue to cut taxes on the theory of the "if come" basis for business and "job creators" or whether becoming more "competitive" actually diminishes the quality of services and ultimately the lives of its citizens.
But whose "quality of life" do we measure? The one that is based upon the life of a business or the life of an actual, living and breathing American? After all, what does "Quality of Life" really mean?
On July 10, 1928, my father Jean Rubin was born in South Bend, Indiana. Born near the end of the "Roaring Twenties," my father was brought into this World with the economy steaming along and looking like everyone would live on "Easy Street." Within a matter of 15 months though, the World economy crashed with the stock market and the dream of "roads paved with gold" turned into the nightmare known as the Great Depression. In the 1920's, the political mantra was "More Business in Government and less Government in Business" and it was the rallying cry for GOP Presidents from Warren G. Harding to Calvin Coolidge to Herbert Hoover. It was after all, the Republican decade in America. But what made it so "roaring" anyways? Seems businesses took advantage of folks by selling merchandise on credit, changing the economy into one of consumer finance out of the previous economy of personal savings. The Government, in full deference to Big Business, decided to allow them to regulate themselves, leading to "Blue Sky" securities to be sold (those stocks sold at a huge premium whose value was significantly lower or non-existent). When the market crashed, worthless stocks were revealed as not being worth the paper they were printed on and when folks could not pay debts on their homes, furniture, radios and cars, they lost everything to the Repo Man. From 1928 until 1941, many Americans feared the Great Depression would never end. It was not until the largest Federal Government economic program in our history took place did the Depression finally fade away...that huge government spending program? WWII.
Instead of growing up a child in a "roaring" economy, my father grew up faster than necessary, learning to live on less and less just as the Depression made life difficult for all average American families. Somehow, American survived those tough times, stronger than ever. My Dad survived that tough time with a sense of frugality and distrust for bankers and "shysters." Too young to fight in WWII and then married in 1950 to my mom, Phyllis Flamm from Eau Claire, Michigan, he suddenly became too old to fight in Korea. My Mom and Dad bought their first house in South Bend with a Federally insured home loan. In that house, he raised my brother, sister and me. When faced with the financial hardships of attending college, federally funded grants and loans enabled all three of us to obtain our college educations, and my brother and I our law degrees. For my Mom and Dad, having children with degrees from Indiana University, Purdue University, Washington University in St. Louis and Capital University, still brings great pride to them. And it continues today with their grandchildren having degrees from Yeshiva University, Einstein Medical College, Mercy College and Macalester College, all with some form of Federal assistance.
For the past 22 years, my Dad has been receiving Social Security, another Federal assistance program. For the past 19 years, my Dad has been receiving a socialized medical care in the form of Medicare. My Dad has enjoyed 84 years of an adventure through a lot of American history, and he is still standing and we pray will continue to stand for many, many more years to come. But where would he be today without the involvement of the Federal Government in his life? Happy Birthday Dad! Is government really so bad?
Daniel R. Rubin is an Attorney, Key Note Presenter, Lecturer and Award Winning Author. He is a retired Adjunct Professor of American History who also taught Advanced Placement United States Government and American Politics in Venice, Florida. @2023 Daniel R. Rubin Copyright. All Rights reserved.