Saturday, December 28, 2013

Why Politically Motivated "Obama, Top Ten Constitutional Violations" articles are misleading and wrong.

I am so sick of seeing these top ten lists about how many times Obama has violated the constitution. Obama had not violated the constitution as many times as people think.

The Executive branch has the power to carry out and enforce laws, so long as they are not creating new laws, they are within their power. By Choosing to NOT enforce part of Obama care is an Executive Power. For instance when big business lobbied the white house and got Obama to modify ACH to not enforce the employer mandate. This is similar to not enforcing Immigration, using the IRS to target opposition groups, selling assault rifles to drug cartels to garner anti gun support, choosing to continue war crimes at Guantanamo Bay, or not Enforcing DEA laws in Colorado, these are the Presidents CHOICE to enforce or not.

The famous precedent is when Jackson ignored the Supreme Court and performed ethnic cleansing on tribal lands in Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana. While a terrible crime against humanity, it was entirely legal (or at least not preventable) under the powers of our constitution.

As much as I hate when politicians pretend to be economists, or health care experts, or immigration experts, or homeland security experts when they write their laws, I hate how the press pretends to be constitutional scholars when they are advancing an addenda against a president.

The president using the NSA to spy on the Associated Press, and the President using the IRS to modify the interpretation of some small areas of the IRS code which govern the same 501(c)4 groups the IRS got caught targeting are however, minor violations of Executive power. They just don't get much attention because Benghazi happened and people focused on that, and honestly who cares about taxes, its not like taxes really affect social policy or many Americans...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Unbelievable! Cockatoo Sings Gangnam Style!

Stepping aside from politics for a moment, let have a look at a Cockatoo, singing Gangnam Style!  I wish my bird could do this!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wal-Mart Black Friday Strike

Who wants to make a bit more money? I think we can all agree, if all we had to do for a raise is ask our boss, a lot of us would be in our bosses office every Friday! The reason we cannot do that is if we were to demand more money then the company feels we were worth, then they would simply let us go.

Enter collective bargaining. This is the principal, in which if everyone, or a large portion of the workforce asks for a raise, the company either has to go through the cost of hiring and training ALL new employees, or simply give the raise. Sounds like a great idea right, sort of like an ultimatum. The problem with this situation is it is artificial, the end result is influenced not by the value of the worker, but by the ultimatum itself.

This is what the Wal-Mart Strike is attempting to do.

On Friday night your girlfriend says she wants to go out with you for the evening and you say, “honey, I am going to the bar with friends or I will leave you.” She may agree, but it is not because she wants you to go to the bar. Demand this ultimatum a few more times, and you will find yourself without a job, I mean girlfriend.. This is especially the case if you are not that “skilled” of a boyfriend in the first place, and to be honest most Wal-Mart workers are “unskilled”. "Unskilled does not meant they lack any talents, they could be Lawyers, Doctors, Musicians, but if they are doing a job which a high school dropout can do then that is why they make such low wages.  If they ask for more, someone else will do it for less!

Some would say, Wal-Mart can afford higher wages, I mean they did make $447 Billion Dollars last year right? Well, no not actually. They really made $26.5 Billion before taxes on $447 Billion is sales, and after they paid $9 Billion to Uncle Sam, they only earned $15.5 Billion.

$15 Billion dollars is still a lot of money right?

Well, yes it is certainly, but in comparison to their revenue it's only about 5%, so for ever dollar they sell they earn $.05. When you go buy some flowers and chocolates for your girlfriend to make up for your ultimatum you offered her earlier, they make $2.50 off that $50.00 you spent.

But certainly they could increase wages just a bit right?

Well seeing as Wal-Mart employs over 2.2 Million employees, if we assume an average work week of 32 hours, increasing wages just $2 an hour would cost $7,321,600,000.00. It should also be said, most of these workers who are striking do not just want more money, they want better health care, and more employees to reduce their workload as well.

The more complicated aspect is how the Wal-Mart Strike affects Wal-Mart stock, and their ability to continue their business. Hate it or love it, we live in a capitalist society, this means investors put their money where it will benefit them the most. If because of this Wal-Mart Strike, Wal-Mart chooses to reduce its earnings by 7 billion dollars, investors will simply invest in Target, Macy's, K Mart, CVS, Rite Aid, or Dollar Tree. All of which have very similar labor practices as big bad evil Wal-Mart.

As we approach Christmas Season, this “Wal-Mart Strike” could seriously affect Wal-Mart's bottom line, however it will also affect Target's bottom line as well, in the opposite way! If you are looking for a place to put your money, might want to look at some other retail chains.

I understand these workers want better benefits and more money, but honestly if they really feel they deserve them, they are free to apply at many other companies nationwide. However if they lack the ability to do those other jobs, they really shouldn't blame their situation on Wal-Mart.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What is the "Fiscal Cliff" and what does it mean to you Part I

This Fiscal Cliff has been mentioned in the news quite a bit lately, but most Americans barely have an understanding of what it is or what it means to them. This is mostly because the news uses economic jargon and many of the articles are difficult to read. Here I will make an attempt to explain it is a way most readers should be able to understand and relate to.

I will start with an example:

Imagine a family who has a household income of $40,000. Now imagine they want to increase their standard of living a bit, have a nice vacation, and maybe buy some new furniture. They choose to accept an offer from their bank for a $10,000 credit card and they use the whole thing in one year. They have now lived for one year as if they made $50,000.

The next three years they do the same thing with another bank each year, again, living on $40,000 and +$10,000 in borrowed money each year, they choose to not give up the lifestyle, in exchange for a little more debt each year.

Year 4 however they now have the same $40,000 income, but they owe $40,000 in debt. The credit card payments add up to $15,000 which brings their disposable income DOWN to $25,000. If they want to live like they make $50,000 a year, now they would need to borrow $25,000 more each year.

In this situation the “Fiscal Cliff” is the moment that the family MUST choose to begin paying off their debt. They need to reduce their borrowing, AND at the same time, find extra income AND reduce their spending. They MUST do all three things if they wish to maintain a similar standard of living AND avoid a bankruptcy scenario.

Okay hopefully you understand that story. People obviously cannot continue to increase there debt forever without paying it off or balancing their budget. And that is precisely where the US is right now.

That DANGER of the fiscal cliff comes from how weak our economy is right now, and how the combination of tax increases, spending cuts, and a slice of our GDP going to reducing the deficit is what worries many economists.

I will go into more detail about these pieces in part II, but to sum it up, Growing the Economy means Growing Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is (Exports – Imports) + Government Spending + Investment + Private Spending. By raising taxes, you move money out of private spending and investment and traditionally move it into Government Spending. However in this special case, we are ALSO reducing Government Spending. it is feared we will actually shrink our GDP, when we really need to be growing it.

Back to our example, if you look at this families contribution to society as the original $40,000 in income they made in year one. In year two through four, they contributed $50,000 to society because they borrowed money. In year five, they can only contribute $25,000 to society because they MUST pay $15,000 to their debt.

It is difficult in this example to illustrate taxes, but essentially imagine their neighbors gift them some money ($10,000). This money is $10,000 less that their neighbors are contributing to society, and it is also not being contributed to society by our example family because is its instead being used to reduce their deficit.

Political partisanship aside, this is a serious issue which needs to be resolved in our country. Our current interest payments on our debt make up almost half of our yearly budget. All of those payments do nothing to improve growth and are essentially wasted dollars.

Families in America are bound by laws which require them to live within their means, if they stray too far they face legal action, and bankruptcy. Right now and for the past 12 years our government has lived far outside its means, and this “Fiscal Cliff” is the first in a long struggle to get us back on the right path.

Thank you for reading and I will post again soon!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Agreeing To Disagree, Steps to Solve Political Polarization

Disagreement is one of the most important principles of a democracy. If everyone always agreed on the issues then we would never get a thoughtful thorough discussion on what might be the best course of action. In fact it is in our human nature to question our world and rules that we live by, some people do this more than others, but this is one of the psychological differences that separate us from other mammals. These questions have led us from believing the earth is flat, to landing on the moon, and maybe Mars someday. However, sometimes this curiosity can develop into two or more polarized differing points of view. These views can be directly opposite and so engrained in one’s mind and heart so that they choose to see the world through that perspective, and thus a belief is formed.
A belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a proposition or premise to be true. So for instance on a topic that tends to divide people like abortion, there are people that believe that abortion is a mothers right, and others that believe that it is wrong. While the question of abortion will maybe never have a concrete answer, each side believes their stance is the correct one, and the other stance is incorrect or false. The question differs from a question like “the snow is cold?” because everyone can agree that snow is cold. What is important for you to understand when reading this book is that to the pro-choice person, abortion is right, and to them that is just as certain as the question of whether or not snow is cold.
Many people have trouble empathizing with the alternate point of view; this is because it invariably results in us believing that snow is warm. However sometimes if you can just for a moment, assume the beliefs of others, doing this will allow you to have a reasonable discussion with someone about a topic you may absolutely disagree on. While you may not end up believing that snow is warm when you finish the conversation, you might learn something about why they believe the way they do, and even about why you believe the way you do.
Recently I had a disagreement with a friend of mine about a verdict in a court case. Because of the nature of our judicial system the result we were disagreeing about could neither be proven right or wrong, but we each believed the opposite of each other. Our discussion started off calm and intellectual, and quickly escalated to distain for one another’s point of view. Neither of us would ever be able to prove the other person wrong and neither of us would ever change our mind. We each believed our side to be true and correct, and nothing was going to change that.
Later that week, we came to discussing the case again. However this time we both approached the subject much more carefully. We started off by asking each other what we could agree on, and it turned out we agreed on more that we thought. Discussing the points of the case we felt the same about, we were able to gain an understanding of why the other person came to the judgment they did, and we concluded that each other’s judgment was in fact justified.
Unfortunately many issues that dominate today’s culture and politics have become incredibly polarizing issues in America. Some of those issues include abortion, immigration, taxes, torture, gun control and healthcare. These are all topics that involve people on both sides having strong conviction in their beliefs of what is right and wrong. TV commercials, newspaper ads, and stump speeches are not going to change people’s minds. In fact this book is not intended to change minds. However, for us to solve the tough problems that our country faces we must in some cases agree to disagree.
If you can agree with someone that you will never agree, then and only then, can you approach the subject with enough respect and caution to have a conversation about the topic. By doing this you can begin to bridge the gap by finding the places that you share common ground. Imagine a priest and an atheist sits down together to talk. They obviously believe in polar opposites, the priest believes in a higher power and the atheist believes that there is none. If they try to discuss the existence or non-existence of god, they would get no ware. Imagine however the priest says to the atheist “I cannot prove the existence of my God, however you must admit that some things cannot be explained by science as well”. Now the atheist and the priest can both agree on two things, the origin of our universe cannot be explained and the priest cannot show proof of his God’s existence. Who would have thought a priest and an atheist sitting down and agreeing on something?
The above example is just a small narrative and isn’t the end-all be-all of creating a healthy discussion. It is just a way to set up a foundation to bridge the communication gap between two opposite points of view. From this point, parties would need to be willing to delve into a discussion with one another, they would need to be respectful, and they would need to be comfortable that they are not stepping on the other parties values. From this point the priest and the atheist could go on to talk about how they feel the earth was formed, or go on to talk about why they have the beliefs they do.
Tomorrow I will discuss how this relates more into politics and our congress being so divided.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Political Media Bias, Changing Minds and Elections

Over the past decade or so our country has become increasingly divided between party lines. Instead of people really looking at the issues people identify themselves as one party IE, I am a Democrat so I believe in womans rights, I am pro gay marriage, I consider myself middle class and I am from "Main Street". With people less willing to question individual issues this allows politicians to "play politics" and not to confront issues and work together to form compromise. If you know that your party will follow you on whatever stance you take on a new issue then what does it matter if your stance will or will not benefit your constituency or not, they will agree with you no matter what.

This has been helped along by the American News media, who have divided themselves in the coverage and cometary that they provide the people. All you have to do is watch Fox News for a day, and then watch MSNBC for a day and you will see portrayal of two totally different Americas. One where the Evil Democrats are trying to spend our country into bankruptcy and one where the Greedy republicans are trying to make corporations richer. Unfortunately, the answer really lies somewhere in between, but it would take someone with a PHD to figure out where it really is. This should not be the case, the American people should not have to put so much effort into finding out the truth from watching the news, and this is not only dangerous, but it undermines our democracy.

When you take people who have learned what is happening from TV News for decades, and then introduce a constant flood of political spin, those people are led like lemmings to believe whatever they are being told. This allows major news producing companies such as General Electric an enormous influence on our political future as a country.

Flying under the banner of "news commentary" shows like Glenn Beck, Rachel Maddow, and Cris Matthews put their own spin on the news and say things like "The Republicans are out to kill grandma with their Medicare proposal". This is not news, this is editorial opinion, and to be honest, I doubt that the commentator really thought that. However they put it out there for people to hear to get their message across, to vote against the Republican.

One or two comments here and there wouldn't be a problem and would not have any effect on a election. However, over the past several weeks, nearly the entire lineup on the major news networks from 3:00 - 10:00 EST has been political propaganda. With this sheer amount of persuasive media, and propaganda, its no wonder our country is so divided.

I might be a conservative but I blame BOTH Fox and MSNBC for their coverage. I believe that it takes a weak news reporter or commentator to perform this way, and a very strong skilled one to be able to present both sides fairly and accurately. Anyone can graduate college and go on the news with a nice smile and say what they believe, but what they believe is their opinion, and not news. I do understand where news commentary has its place, and I am not against it, however when both major news networks devote 7+ hours a day to it, our country is in trouble.

Friday, September 25, 2009

This is a Video of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamine Netanyaho calling out the UN for not standing up to the Iranian President. It is a really good speech, and I am sure some of it is directed at Barak Obama, due to his lack of support for Israel and his continued support for peace with IRan.

The begining of Benjamine Netanyaho's speach is about the Holocost, but the last half or so is directed at having countries stand up against terrorism. He sais that so many countries stood by while Iran President stole the election, and that We did not give any support to the protestors that were being sloughtered in the streets while they "drowned on thier own blood".