More Opinion by The Springboard

THE UPRISING OF THE AMERICAN PARTY "Clearly the voters are engaged right now, at least for sure on the republican side, and what they have concluded is that the republican party has not done their job. Thus, Donald Trump gets their vote."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Life on Mars?

On Monday NASA of course made a major announcement that there seems to be seasonal water that flows on the surface of Mars which at least opens up the possibility that perhaps there could be microbial life on the red planet. Scientists are saying that it is still a long shot by a mile considering the water, if that is truly what it is, is so salty that it may not be an environment conducive to supporting life at all.

To my mind, despite what the ultimate outcome is ahead, I think this is an important discovery.

Trolling the Internet one finds that when it comes to space exploration, there are myriad opinions regarding its importance. There are a great many who believe that it is simply a waste of time and money. I am not in that corner.

Yes. The government is on a massive sprint when it comes to spending valuable taxpayer dollars. There is no disputing that. But while a vast majority of what the government spends money on is arguably wasteful, space exploration is not one of them. I think it is important that humans seek the origins of life, and the possibility of life elsewhere in the Universe. The fact is that we don't have the answers. Since the dawn of cognitive thought, man has wondered how it all started, why they are here, and have made every attempt to come up with an answer.

There has long been a theory that quite possibly life on Earth was as a result of cosmic insemination, delivered to the blue planet via an asteroid or comet carrying microbes that planted the seeds for what is now a complex and diverse world teeming with living things. If life is indeed found to exist in some form on Mars this changes much of what we now know, and opens up wide the possibility that there could be, elsewhere in the Universe, more complex forms of life somewhere in the cosmos.

In some ways, and for some, the prospect is frightening. What kind of life could it be? Would it pose any danger to humankind or Earth itself? But it also challenges religious belief as well. If life is found to exist elsewhere in the Universe, what does it say of theological explanations for the origin of the world we live in, and the very existence of life itself?

I have always been one to want to know more, and to encourage the continuation of exploring ideas and truths. We cannot accomplish that if we stop on one or a few answers, either theological ones or scientific ones. As I have always said, we simply do not know what the truth is, and until we do—and we may never truly know it by the way—we need to keep on looking.

As for what we spend on NASA annually? Currently it is about a half of a percent of the total budget. Less than $20 billion a year. Making a simple comparative observation, the U.S. government spends about $455 billion a year on welfare programs, or roughly 15% of the total budget. For those who want to make the argument that we are not taking care of priorities here on Earth, I think the numbers suggest differently.

Is there life on Mars? Is there life anywhere in the Universe but here? Who knows? But I happen to think it is important that so long as we have the ability to explore the question, that we do so absolutely. As part of the opening line of the popular former TV series The X Files suggested, "The truth is out there." Unless one believes they truly have all the answers they need, we need to keep the search ongoing.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

One Way Raising Taxes Stifles Growth

If Sam Walton were alive today, he would be the richest man in the world, and his riches would actually pale the worth of Bill Gates' fortune by a lot. The total wealth of the Walton family as of January of 2015 was $147 billion. Gates is only worth about $80 billion by comparison. I would even venture to guess that if old Sam was still at the helm, the additional wealth he would have accumulated would have put him closer to around $200 billion. The "kids" don't have the vision and business prowess that Sam Walton had, and his empire would be larger by leaps and bounds without a doubt.

But there is a hidden message in the success of Walmart that anyone should be able to recognize. Set aside how Walmart conducts business. Or the effects positive or negative that Walmart has on other businesses. That is for another discussion. The key here is understanding one simple concept. The more money people have to spend on goods, the more goods they will buy. Sam Walton was not a man who gave a lot of consideration to margins. What he considered was volume. And he understood that if he could create volume, he would have more ability to increase margins. The volume of goods and money flowing would make the whole process more profitable. And his ideas are still well in play today.

Enter the idea that if you raise taxes, you increase revenues.

Democrats and liberals are huge fans of simply taxing as much of any money flowing in the marketplace as they can, having the simple idea that if you take more you'll get more. But this is largely because most of these guys are of course politicians. Not businessman. So they really have no idea how money really works. Incidentally, the majority of Americans are not businessmen either, and they know about as much about how money works as the politicians do. So when they hear "tax the rich," and "tax the corporations," they actually believe that this does something positive for the economy, and in some odd sort of way they think it helps them out as well.

The truth is that it actually hurts everyone and there is one simple thing to keep in mind to really begin to understand the effect of higher taxes on everyone. The rich, the middle class, and yes. The poor as well.

Cost slows things down. The more something costs the less people will buy it, do it, or work for it. It is really that simple. Taxes are cost. Let's get that straight right away. Taxation adds cost to earning money. And the more something costs, the less of it will happen.

The most recent example of this effect was of course gas prices. As gas was hovering around $5 per gallon, people suddenly drove less. The median national miles driven went dramatically down. The number of gallons of gas consumed also went down. People did drive less. But they also ditched gas guzzlers for more efficient cars. People directly changed their behavior and their spending based on the price of a gallon of gas. The more the gas cost, the less people used it.

The oil companies did not make more money ultimately. The states did not collect more highway taxes. It was really a zero sum gain when all was said and done. On top of everything else, the more people had to spend on what gas they did use, the less they spent on other things in the marketplace.

People took less vacations. People reduced discretionary spending on clothes. They spent less as a whole on everything. Higher prices at the pump slowed everything else in the economy down. The entire economy suffered. No one gained anything at all. In addition to that, higher gas prices also caused a rise in everything else in the economy slowing things down yet further.

Delivery charges were added to order out. Extra fees were added to flights. Prices on other goods and services rose as well since it cost more to move things around, and for service providers to get to customers.

A guy who sells strawberries can wake up one morning and decide that he wants more money for his strawberries. He can raise the price to accomplish this. But, if he raises the price too much, people will simply buy less strawberries. He will make less than if he kept the strawberries the same price, and actually if he had lowered the price a bit, he'd have made more money in total revenue even though he made less on each strawberry sold.

Again enter Sam Walton who understood this very basic concept. A concept that many Americans, and certainly the government fails to understand fundamentally.

You can raise taxes to whatever percentage you want. The end result is that you will get more per dollar, but less as a whole. Less dollars will ultimately be earned. Higher taxes equal lower revenues because it slows down the process of earning and spending.

If you want to increase tax revenues, the best way of accomplishing this is by leaving more money flowing in the real economy and reducing the cost of earning. The higher the volume of money flowing freely in the marketplace, the higher the total revenues you will collect as a result of it.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Trump's Hidden Agenda Regarding Fox News

Do not underestimate Donald Trump, and I mean this in all seriousness. Do not underestimate Donald Trump. The man has a proven track record of business prowess and business sense. He pays attention, and this is an all important thing to note. What is he trying to accomplish with his presidential run? He wants to win his way to the White House. It is that simple. It is perhaps the last big notch in his belt. And he may just do it. Sure, of course he wants to make America great again. But the real answer here is that while doing so he wants to go out of this world with a bang. Let's face it. Making it to the White House is perhaps the greatest accomplishment any man in the world can do, and if Donald Trump can do it, it seals his legacy forever.

Trump is speaking to the People. Of course he has enemies. He creates many of them of his own making. The Hispanics for example. But his latest stunt is very telling. He has now dissed Fox News. Who hates Fox News more than anyone in the world? The liberals. The democrats. I said in an earlier post that one of the things that fascinates me about Donald Trump is that he can run with a conservative message and as a republican, but yet still be as far removed from the republican party as one can be. He does not cow-toe. He disregards the establishment. He rolls with his own punches and tells it like it is. He makes no apologies for his positions. I think that the way he is conducting his campaign, the word republican may not even really be in the heart of the discussion about him. It's simply Trump. Somehow he is able to simply be one man running for the presidency, and people are paying attention to him rather than his association with the GOP.

It is absolutely brilliant really and I think you have to give him credit for that.

So, is Trump truly outraged by the coverage by Fox News of his campaign? Is he truly disregarding Fox News as a reputable news source? Or is he simply playing to the swath of voters on the other side of the fence who may otherwise not consider voting republican? What he is essentially trying to say in his campaign is that he is not one of them. He's dissed the party. He's dissed the other candidates running against him. He's dissed the leadership in all parts of the government. And now he's dissed what everyone on the left believes is a news organization that acts like an arm of the republican party and conservatives.

One thing about good business, and great businessmen is calculation. None of these men or women in business are necessarily making decisions on the fly. There is a thought process behind every thing that gets decided. The aim is the gain. The profit. And I happen to think this is exactly what Trump has in mind and is doing when it comes to his run for the White House. His decision to distance himself from Fox News is a calculated decision intended to put him further away from his association with the GOP, plant himself more firmly in the eyes of liberals and democrats as a choice, and of course walk away with the keys to People's House.

I am not going to count my chickens before they are hatched and say Trump has won the race. But I am still watching this whole thing go down with great fascination.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Establishment Vs. Non-Establishment in the 2016 Presidential Race

One of perhaps the most interesting thing to me about the 2016 presidential race seems to be that this time around, I think it's all about The People's choice. There is always an idea that floats around that people disengage themselves from politics when things don't seem to be hitting them at home. After seven years of Obama, even the strongest supporters of the once wonder child of Washington are, I think, feeling the pinch. For all of the hype and talk of hope and change, transparency in government, and a "president of the people," the reality is that the rich have grown and the poor have seen no change in their lives. As for the middle class, they have seen themselves shrinking in numbers and we are still in perhaps one of the worst economic periods in our history.

Nothing has changed, and in fact, things have gotten worse. It seems to have sunk in a little bit.

I think we saw a similar effect back when Ronald Reagan stepped onto the scene and rounded himself up a landslide victory. Americans were tired of the status quo. They were tired of politics as usual. And they were tired of feeling like their hard work and paychecks did not match up. And let's not forget those lines of cars during Carter's presidency trying to get a tank of gas. Americans felt that hit right where it hurts, and they remembered it.

We are in a similar time now. There are still two sides to this coin of course. Two top runners in this election are polar opposites of each other.

You have Donald Trump, a billionaire businessman promising to restore jobs in America, and restore the idea that hard work comes with a reward and that everyone should have an opportunity to succeed in America. He wants to go after countries like Mexico and China which have for years albeit stolen away good paying, family supporting jobs. What he is offering is an opportunity for Americans to succeed on their own, unfettered by broken policies, high taxes, and a lack of real marketplace competition (or, unfair trade agreements which make it next to impossible to be competitive, particularly when it comes to manufacturing).

On the other end you have Bernie Sanders, a self proclaimed socialist who wants to offer people a leg up against the rich and powerful who control jobs and wages and trade for profit, and simply give back to the American people what he feels has been unfairly swept out from under them. Bernie Sanders resonates if only because there is still a large swath of voters who believe that the system is rigged, and that the only way to restore the country is through a forced leveling of the playing field.

By the way, I do not believe the latter works, nor that it can.

Still, this is where we find ourselves. We are essentially I think, as an electorate, beginning the painful process of thinking outside the box. Politics are broken. The government is broken. And people as a result of this are suffering. Only now that that is obvious does it have an effect. These two men are on top because they are offering two solutions outside the establishments on both sides, and people are paying attention. It is anyone's guess where this will ultimately lead us, or whether or not either solution offers any real results in the positive. But one thing is clear to me and that is that if any of the other "establishment" candidates want any traction, they better pay attention to why the non-establishment contenders are getting all of it right now.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Walker Missed The Point On Exit

When your chips are down, you have to know when it's time to step away. Rick Perry did it. And now Scott Walker. And I think he was right to do it. The truth is that while his campaign started off with good fanfare, it simply fizzled out. I actually had high hopes for him when he stepped into the race simply because I liked him as Governor of Wisconsin, and liked what he did for the state—he will continue to do well in his return to his old job. For that reason I thought he could do well as president too.

I voted for him twice in the three elections held in four years, and the only reason I did not cast my vote in his favor in the last one was because I had left the state.

The thing that bothers me in his exit are his comments regarding the "front-runner," basically insinuating that Donald Trump is sucking all of the oxygen out of the room and making it difficult for more traditional GOP candidates to take control of the race. Rick Perry said as much in his own exit, neither one of them referring to Trump by name. Both of them encouraged other weaker candidates to step aside and make way for someone to knock out Trump.

My problem is that Trump, while abrasive and very much unlike any presidential candidate we've seen with such strong support, is at the top because right now he's running a successful campaign that is capturing the attention of a great many in the voter field of the republican party, even if the establishment is not so captivated. While it is true that at this stage of the game the candidates are essentially auditioning for the establishment to decide their fate rather than the American people as a whole, at the end of the day the American people are what matter. Not the establishment. And as it stands right now the American people are supporting Donald Trump.

Love him or hate him the people are speaking loud and clear. The old way of doing things has become tired, things are not getting done, and a good many of the "traditional" candidates are not acting like they really want to change anything for the better. That's why they are lagging in the polls. It has nothing to do with Trump. It has to do with what the American people want.

Whether or not Trump would make a good president is still up for debate. You could say the same for how long he'll stay on top, and whether or not he'll actually win the nomination. Either way, what I think the other candidates need to focus on is not how to knock out Trump per se, but to fundamentally understand why he's on top and bring the same message to the American people in that more "positive" manner that they would prefer. In a way when Rick Perry and Scott Walker make these kinds of comments, what they are really telling the American people is that they don't want the wishes of the voters to be considered here. Again. I think this actually helps Trump. It helps any of the three candidates that are less traditional to stand out as anti-establishment, and signals that just maybe they'll bring a sea of change to Washington that is badly needed and wanted.

I put those three as Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Chris Christie. And by the way, if you like Trump, Christie may well be the man to support since he has a similar personality and style as Trump, but also has just enough decorum to balance it out. Something I think Trump lacks.

I am not suggesting that Scott Walker was wrong in his exit speech. What I am saying is that I think part of his failure in garnering more support for his campaign is that he simply missed the point. His comments make that all too clear. If one thing rings true this time around, I think for the first time in a very long time whoever steps into the White House ultimately is the people's choice.

Let's just hope it's not one of those on the other side. If you think voting for Trump is crazy, voting for anyone on the other side right now is as nuts as playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded gun. Yeepers!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Is An American Revolution In Play?

For political junkies like myself, elections are to me what the Super Bowl happens to be for the die-hard football fan. You could say that right now we are essentially in the playoffs. But this is a special game this time around. What we have here, folks, are not the usual teams we might see having their shot at the big win. Of course I am talking about the current lineup of GOP contenders vying for the coveted republican nomination. In the top three currently? We have runners who are not really politicians. And to my mind, that makes these early stages very interesting.

Donald Trump, a real estate mogul, celebrity, and businessman. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon. And Carly Fiorini, a former corporate CEO.

Part of what makes this so interesting to me is that it seems to indicate a shift in the American psyche. And we're not just talking about the GOP. We're talking about everyone because with the numbers currently held by these front runners this means that they are capturing the minds of republicans, independents, and some democrats as well. When 23 million viewers tuned in to the first republican presidential debate hosted by Fox News, this audience was not GOP exclusive. The People clearly tuned in. Granted, it was not to necessarily hear what the republicans had to offer. They tuned in to see Donald Trump.
And we're not just talking about republicans here. We're talking about

What was he going to say? How was he going to react to the other candidates? Was he going to be his usual candid self and quite possibly self-destruct in one swift fell swoop? Or was he going to come out a clear victor in the first debate in spite of being combative and candid?

I think what Donald Trump did manage to accomplish in the first debate, capturing record audiences aside, is quite amazing actually since it flies in the face of the status quo. He's as far from "presidential" as anyone I have seen come onto the playing field. He's abrasive, doesn't care about being politically correct, and says exactly what he is thinking without any filter. Despite all of the odds against him he came out punching and did no real damage to his image, or his run. His numbers grew after that first debate and for a very long time following it, he managed to hold a very strong, double digit lead in the polls. At least among the other republican candidates. Even after essentially lambasting Fox News' Megyn Kelly. And by the way, this also helps to keep liberals and democrats tuned in to him because clearly they are no fan of Fox News. In their minds, Trump is on their side if for no other reason than he will not cow-tow to the so-called "fake" news channel.

And by the way. He is not cow-towing to any news organization. And let's be clear on something else. He's not cow-towing to the republican establishment either. More on that in a bit.

The truth is that at some point even the most misinformed, or complete non-information voter, has to at least see that there is something wrong with the way that our government is currently run. They have to see the reality of failed policies on both sides, in-fighting among political parties, and strong arming for power. Not for the good of the American people. People are tired of it, and I think they are tired of being harmed by it. Moreover I think it is clear that more Americans are starting to understand that they are being harmed by it. Something that I think has been lacking in the past couple of decades.

When Donald Trump says, "Let's make American great again," it resonates with the people because we all are keenly aware that America is in decline. And we either stop it and do something about it, or we let the entire country become an historical footnote of a once great power that is no more.

So Donald Trump seems to be highlighting what is wrong with the direction of this country, and is laying the blame on everyone even though he is running as a republican. It's politics and politicians that he is citing as the leading reason the country is going to Hell in a hand basket.

In a way I think his "strategy" is brilliant. Run with a conservative message, and somehow make yourself unrepublican while doing it. He deserves at least some kudos for that.

Enter Ben Carson.

The question for me becomes with the shift of the American psyche clearly in play, and with Donaldextremist clown, is he part of the reason that Ben Carson has come into the limelight and has closed the gap in Trump's lead? The thing is that Ben Carson is the polar opposite of Trump. But where they stand together is that neither of them are politicians.
Trump doing so well despite the clear notion that at another time in our history he would be situated in the back of line as an

What I would have completely expected, at least among republican polling, is for one of the other more "traditional" candidates to have closed the gap. Granted, that may still happen. But the fact that Carson did it first instead is another affirmation for the idea that people are changing their minds about who we potentially elect, and how we tackle the problems facing this nation. Ronald Reagan essentially won by a landslide by simply asking the American people, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" The answer was no, and people knew it. The question seems to be right now, "Are you better off now with politics as usual? Or is it time to set aside the status quo, toss out the politicians, and take back what has been taken from we the people?"

It is the heart and soul of Trump's slogan by the way even if Trump never sees his way to the White House. The American people understand its message and what it means for the future. And whoever ultimately wins the nomination can take that home and think about it, and think about the way they will actually carry out the work of the American people. And know that the American people will be paying more careful attention, and will only allow for the message to be carried out and turned into a reality or else their political careers are kaput.

Okay. Maybe. It is safe to assume that perhaps I am buying too much into this interesting dynamic.

Either way, I tend to think that if the nominee ultimately becomes one of these three. Non politicians. It  of course means a victory for the GOP. But a winning non politician? So long as they remain just that? I think that's a major victory for the country and the American people. Whether or not it will mean the death of politics as we have seen it for many years now is surely still up for debate. I'll believe it if and when I see it. But it sure would be nice to see real hope and change this time around, and the restoration of a country that was once optimistic, productive, innovative, powerful, and admired the world over.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

All American Labor Day

Let's be real here, shall we? Part of the reason that the American economy continues to be in the doldrums is because we are still not fully aware of the positive impact of buying small, buying local, and buying American. So here is what I think we should be focusing on this Labor Day in 2015. As barbeques and parties will be all the "thing" to do, our tables and our parties should be littered with American made goods, and with local produce, local brews, and American fare all the way, to the extent we possibly can. Believe it or not, but the impact of spending on small, local, and American is huge in the grander scheme of things.

Let's start with cheese. Why not find a local cheese shop to supply the cheese for your big Labor Day party. I will recommend the West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shop for any cheese needs for your big party day, or sausage, sauerkraut, or whatever else might be your fancy. Barring that, find a store near you that sells great cheese but is not a big chain. Around where I live currently there is nothing other than The Cheesekeeper, a fantastic shop with knowledgeable and friendly operators who always get the job done right.

Onto the meat. Find a local shop that does meat the right way. They are everywhere, you just have to look. But buying from them is always better than buying from the big grocery chains, especially if they happen to be the big national ones. Back home in West Allis I always loved the great service and great quality of meats offered by Rupena's Fine Foods. Currently there are two very small and very local shops I buy my meats from. Schneider's Quality Meats in Waterloo, IL, and B&D Meats in Freeburg, IL. The point is that these kinds of places exist, and all you have to do is look for them. B&D is actually a bit of an adventure. It is in the middle of nowhere, and to get there you have to drive on a very desolate rock road to arrive. Their service is excellent, their prices are reasonable, and they are helpful and friendly. Even if there is a slight premium to their goods, I am willing to pay because helping small and local business happens to be very important to me. I want places like Rupena's and B&D to be around to provide an alternative to the Schnuck's, Shop and Saves, Krogers, and Pick 'N Saves of the world.

Oh yeah. And Walmart.

Want a great dessert to serve your party guests? Why not try a small and local bakery? Around my part of the world that would be none other than Eckert's. Not only do they have great desserts, but fine produce, some quality meats, and many other delectable little treats. It's pricey. But it is also worth it.

How about an all American brew? Where I live there is Schlafly, but of course Samuel Adams happens to be the last, largest, truly American company that brews beer these days. Why not have a few of their brews in the cooler for your guests?

As for what you will cook this great American fare on? Why not take a look at the Made in USA lines offered by Huntington Gas Grills which happen to be readily available through another great American company that often has American made goods on their shelves, Menard's.

This Labor Day I say be it plates, plastic ware, food, or brews, the more you can make it all American and all local, the more you will do for your community, the economy, American jobs, small business, and the more hurt you can put on the big box stores and major national chains. Making America great again is about Americans realizing what is important, restoring competition, and keeping the little guy in a position to give the bigger guys a run for their money.

Does it cost more? Sometimes. Yes. But the real cost is not in what you pay today. It is in what you pay in what the big wants from you because the little guys are not in the game to offer an alternative. This Labor Day think local. Think small. And think American.