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."

Friday, December 11, 2015

Being An Atheist Does Not Bar Me From Being A Conservative

Let me start off by saying that this blog post is a response to a comment I received on Facebook, and that while my response to it is both tongue and cheek and serious, the comment I am responding to was entirely tongue in cheek. Let me also, for the sake of the record, state a couple of other noteworthy things here just so that it is clear how I am coming down on any of my positions here.

  • Up until 2005 I was a card carrying member of the Republican National Committee. Since the beginning of my cognitive life I had sided with conservative and republican values.
  • I am currently a registered republican.
  • I have financially contributed to the campaigns of Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John McCain for president, Mitt Romney for president, Mike Bost for Congress, Paul Ryan, Ron Johnson, and a number of other republican candidates campaigning for certain political elected positions.
  • I am an atheist.
Let me also state for the record that, in my view, my last bullet point does not bar me from the republican party, does not preclude me from being labeled a conservative, and does not mean I hold no moral values—conservatism does not have a single thing to do with theology, but rather has everything to do with common sense values, views, and political posturing.

I am a republican. I am a conservative. Nothing about my views, beliefs, or political posture suggest otherwise on the whole.

We talk all the time about radicals and extremists. Certainly these terms apply to Christians, Muslims, and atheists alike. I am not an extremist or radical atheist. I am for Judeo-Christian philosophy for example, as a founding principle of our government, our Constitution, and our system of laws, and our fundamental beliefs about human rights throughout the world, and the spread of democracy and freedom.

Considering the holiday is right around the corner, I am an atheist who is conservative enough to appreciate the religious freedom of those who celebrate Christmas for religious reasons and am FOR saying Merry Christmas. I am also for the spirit of giving whether or not it be tied to Jesus, God, or any other religious reason. Again, it is to my mind just the right way to think as a HUMAN BEING.

I can think of no common sense human quality that would suggest that people should be disrespectful, rude, or selfish.

So what if I do not believe in God? So what if I do not believe that Jesus was His Son? (Note that despite my core beliefs I STILL capitalize where it is appropriate and am respectful to do so, and when referring to any religious aspects have ALWAYS done so.) Is religion even necessary to be good? Is it necessary to be moral even though the definition of morality is theological in nature? Is religion necessary to do decent things, and understand fundamentally that the pain and suffering of others is bad? That it is inhuman and inhumane? Is religion necessary to appreciate life, and to underscore the very fact that no matter where we come from, or what end we will face, that while we are here on Earth life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness is precious, that it must be appreciated, and that it must be PROTECTED? Is religion necessary to know that persecution is bad, murder is wrong, and oppression and infringement on personal freedom is cruel and unjust?

In a word, no. And again, the way I see it that is just simple common sense.

So, I suppose I should cut to the chase and get to the comment before I get too far ahead of myself. This could turn into a rather long winded post. Now I finally understand why many in the past have called me a windbag.

"After sitting here thinking about your discussions we have had in times past...I've decided that since you believe in Jesus being a real person but not who he says he was, that you are a liberal Christian. Many liberal Christians are also democrats as well.
Ergo you're a democrat! Congrats on your new found party, The DNC!"
Now, just to be fair let's take one single statement here for the purposes of initial analysis. When did Jesus ever say he was "who He said He was?" Nowhere in any official record did Jesus Christ ever claim to be the Son of God? He never did. His actions may have suggested it. The story may have suggested it. But He never said it. The "fact" that Jesus was the Son of God was a suggestion by His disciples and the men who chronicled the story after His death.

By the way, did I mention that I am atheist? At the very least, even liberal Christians believe that Jesus was the Son of God. I do not. Liberal Christians very simply have a different view of "What would Jesus do?"

What am I for?

  • I am for marriage between a man and a woman.
  • I am pro-military.
  • I am pro-life.
  • I am for smaller government.
  • I am for lower taxes.
  • I am for free markets and capitalism.
  • I am for sound immigration policy and reform and securing the border.
  • I am for the Constitution.
  • I am for freedom of religion.
  • I am for free speech.
  • I am for the 2nd Amendment.
  • I am for minimalist regulation.
  • I am for school vouchers.
  • I am for welfare reform.
  • I am for strong national security.
  • I am for military action where it is deemed necessary and beneficial.
  • I am for spreading of freedom and rights to religion, and the pursuit of happiness.
  • I am for PROTECTING the right to religion, and the pursuit of happiness.
In fact, the only area where I disagree with the total free market system is when it applies to globalization and trade policies which disadvantage American businesses, particularly in manufacturing. I am actually FOR a zero percent corporate tax rate, believing that taxes should be collected at the point of sale of raw goods, the point of sale of finished goods, and labor should be taxed. These are not necessarily republican or conservative beliefs, but they are mine. And even these beliefs are FAR REMOVED from ANY liberal or democratic belief. So, even if some of my beliefs are removed from conservative values or republican party values, they are also removed from liberal or democratic values.

No democrat would be for a zero percent corporate tax rate. No democrat would be for labor bearing the bulk of taxes collected. Liberals and democrats would prefer that the rich and the corporations would pay everything and leave the rest of us untouched.

The bottom line here is that nowhere in my bullet points did I describe a tenet of liberal or democratic belief. Furthermore, many of my bullet points also defy liberal Christian tenets. For example, liberal Christians are for gay marriage and for tighter gun control legislation. Many liberal Christians also oppose war.

Therefore the only logical conclusion I can come to, if I believe the comment was made genuinely, is that the person who made the comment does not understand the values of either party, does not know what values make one a conservative or a liberal, and does not understand the core definition of a liberal Christian. I am still scratching my head a bit on how the I's were dotted and the T's were crossed in coming up with this analysis by the commenter because on the whole it doesn't make any sense at all considering my positions.

Clearly the comment was tongue in cheek. Knowing the guy who made the comment, I give him much more credit for being intelligent than his comment suggests. If I am to take his comment with any seriousness, I have serious concerns about him entering a voting booth. So we'll just leave it at that.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Why Diplomacy Won't Work With Terrorists

"Wouldn't it be nice if we could wake up in the morning when the day is new, and after having spent the day together, hold each other close the whole night through"
Of course that's a lyric from a popular Beach Boy's love song. But it is also the mindset of the touchy-feely crowd who think that all you have to do to stop the terrorists is talk about it. Reach out your hand and as Mandy Patinkin said, give them opportunity so they don't feel so cheated. Diplomacy. Boy, that's a word. But when it comes to terrorism, while you'd love to see it work, it never will. The one thing about diplomacy that makes any of it work—and it does sometimes work—is that on both sides of the table you have to have both sides willing to reason. Willing to listen. And to a large extent willing to concede a bit, and compromise on how to proceed.

Thinking you can talk a terrorist down is like thinking you will be able to talk a serial killer out of killing you and chopping you into pieces before tossing your body parts into the river. It is like trying to reason with an armed masked robber in your store about why he should think twice about taking your money, or killing your clerk. It is like thinking an armed burglar will sit down with a cup of coffee with you when you confront him to chat about life, consequences, and choosing a better path.

These are driven, crazed, and mindless individuals. And you cannot reason with these kinds of people no matter how hard you try. Their minds are made up.

I would love to live in a world where everyone could at least relate to me in terms of the value of life, the pursuit of happiness, and the need to be driven to beat the odds despite the odds. But that's not the world we live in, and as it applies to these things, not everyone is going to understand why I come down on these things as I do.

To think otherwise is as mindless and crazy as the terrorists. Or the serial killers. Or the armed robbers and burglars of the world.

The only way to stop a serial killer is to kill him or lock him up. Same goes for the robbers and burglars—and if you'll allow me go there, the severely mentally ill who pose a threat to the rest of us. Therefore, the only action you can take against these people is really to kill them since locking them up is not practical. And talking to them is impossible.

But going back to what I said about loving to live in a world where everyone could relate to me on certain terms. There have been many times I have read news stories about grown men molesting children where I have thought, "I just don't get it." Only to follow up with, "Thankfully I don't get it, because I have a sane mind that is able to understand how wrong it is, and what effect it has on the victim."

I don't get it because I am not supposed to get it.

But as for the touchy-feely crowd, what they don't get is that they are ever certain that the rest of the world does think like them. When Mandy Patinkin says bomb the terrorists with opportunity, he is thinking that they think like him. He is making the wrong assumption that their minds work like his does. That their ability to rationalize and reason and comprehend the world is the same as his ability.

People in the touchy-feely crowd are simply not able to imagine that the dark side of the world is a real place, with real actors, and that on the dark side no matter how much light is shed within its parameters, those on the dark side will simply seek out whatever shadows they can find. They are not interested in the light.

It is the biggest problem when it comes to the thinking of the left in particular, that they simply cannot acknowledge the fact that they are not supposed to understand why terrorists do what they do. And that the terrorists are never going to see the world in the same way that they do. If you ask me, that puts us on a very dangerous path. And since Obama has been in office, we've been slowly moving toward a very grave potential outcome as a result. We're trying to be nice. We're trying to talk. We're trying to rationalize, and we are envisioning that they (the terrorists) will concede our point. That they will wake up tomorrow morning and have an aha moment that allows them to lay down their guns and shake hands and have a party laughing, "What the hell were we thinking Ahmed? How silly of us!"

The problem of terrorism is a problem of madness. Of serialism. It is a problem of twisted thinking and firmly placed ideology which cannot be softly uprooted. You'll never get into the mind of a terrorist because you are not supposed to. The aha moment cannot be on the part of the sane, on the part of rational, on a part of the normal. In fact, the moment you do manage to get in the minds of anyone who doesn't think like you do, there is nothing stopping you from not becoming like them. And rationalizing why it is important to stop them becomes impossible.

Bombs first. Chats later. When the smoke clears we'll see who is left and see if there is anyone worth talking to.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

This Issue of Terrorism Is Not A Jobs Issue

On CBS This Morning actor Mandy Patinkin suggested that, in regard to the Middle East, if we give them the best roads, the best medical technology, agriculture, and infrastructure they would not feel cheated. The crux of his argument is that if they (the Middle East) have all of these amenities afforded them, they won't be so inclined to go after Western civilization. The argument is reminiscent of many on the left who have made the suggestion that jobs are the key to ending terrorism.

Let's just leave it at, Mandy Patinkin is a great actor.

If there is one thing that stands out for me when it comes to this region, it's oil. One can easily argue that oil is one of the most valuable resources in the world, and if you have it, there's a lot of money there to go around. The problem is not the money. The problem is how that money gets filtered down to the little people, and the lack of any real defined government bodies—or when there are government bodies they are nothing more than terrorist regimes of their own, oppressing the people with unbending power and control, and a mindset that everything in the West is simply evil and must be eradicated. The people in power have one intent and that is to create an army of angry citizens, and they do this by holding them down. The people of these countries are essentially prisoners in their own country. And to a large extent they are driven as well by the luxuries promised to them by their religion after death. They seek paradise not through hard work and thoughtful engineering of their own futures, but through death. For them, it is the only way out of the hell in which they are currently living. And doing the bidding of their God is akin to an instant key to the gates of heaven, and that paradise they so long for.

The truth is that with such a valuable resource at their very feet, any of these countries could be using the dollars that resource generates to create their own infrastructure. They could build great roads. They could have great medical technology in their grasp. They could build irrigation systems and feed their people with agricultural products. And they could build the foundations of other areas of business which could help them to develop trade relations with other developed countries—affording their people a better life and a better future for their children that is not fraught with violence and hatred and endless wars.

But in order for that to happen, the people and those in power have to want that to happen. They need to foster and encourage that. Instead of building massive multiple mansions in the desert for the so-called leaders, money could be funneled into doing these very things. But it is about power. It is about control. And of course, I don't think one can readily discount that it isn't about their religion to a large extent as well. Despite the claims of many Muslims who preach that their faith is one of calm and peace, there are many facets of the Koran and of the Islamic faith that suggests otherwise. Death to all infidels is not just a mantra, it is a teaching of the leaders of the Islamic faith and is a primary tenet of Middle Eastern culture as a whole. How do you get past that? When it comes to faith, it's hard to break that. In fact, it is virtually impossible. Just ask any Christian how important their faith is to their way of life? Their faith is so strong that many, or most, would not think twice about denouncing their God or their faith just to avoid being killed for it. A man holds a machete to your neck and says that if you are Christian you will be beheaded—and you go ahead and proclaim your faith anyway.

That is profoundly powerful.

What is the key to ending terrorism? I really don't know. I do know that we should make every effort, however, to stop them in the meantime. We should do anything we can to unseat those in power, and strategize ways to help them to build stronger governments that are intended to create policy that fosters growth as opposed to oppression, and allows for decisions to be made to build their cities and towns and empower their citizens using the resources they already have.

But to simply give that to them? That's ludicrous!

I said before that the people have to want it. The leaders have to want it. Perhaps it is a ridiculous analogy, but how many times have we tossed people into forced rehab only to have them come out and go right back to their lives they way they were before? Who gets off the dope? Those who have hit rock bottom and who have finally decided for themselves they no longer want to be dope heads. We give housing and cell phones and food to the poor in our own country to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars a year. How many poverty stricken communities have been rebuilt as a result? How many people have gotten off the dole and used the opportunity to create better lives for themselves? They are few and far between because those who want it and who are willing to do the hard work for it are, well...few and far between. Giving things away doesn't help to solve any problem.

And that is the reason Mandy Patinkin's fundamental thought is flawed, as well as the entire left's view that there is such a simple solution to what happens to be a very complicated problem. As one has often told me, "If it were so easy, someone would already have done it."

For me the heart of the question of how you end terrorism is how do you get terrorists to no longer want to be terrorists? How do you get them to decide for themselves that enough is enough, and make choices to change it? If they are not ready or willing to make changes that alter the future for themselves, and of their own desire and making, nothing we do to try to force that issue with jobs and opportunity thrusted at them is going to make that change for them anymore than having a job guarantees you won't be poor—or handing someone a welfare check ensures that someone will be afforded an automatic opportunity.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Mass Shootings Unaffected By Gun Control Laws

I am as tired as anyone should be over the string of mass shootings which have taken place over the years. The latest rampage at the Planned Parenthood facility notwithstanding. But what I am more tired of is of the discussions that occur following these heinous acts.

Gun control.

We have to keep one very important fact in mind as we try to figure out what we do to prevent or try to stop the carnage and bloodshed. Controlling guns will not do anything to solve the problem. In fact, it could actually hinder the effort.

Let's be very clear what gun control is about. It is not about protecting normal people from crazed maniacs. It is about controlling the law abiding public and making it more difficult for them to legally obtain and carry firearms which could potentially effectively neutralize a threat posed by any crazed maniac who comes into a building with evil intent.

Granted, there are some instances where someone is able to legally obtain a gun who ultimately turns around and uses it in a crime. You can't predict when a normal person is going to snap. But the bulk of these acts are conducted by people who have their guns through other means—the black market for example.

What are two "solutions" that I think we have empirical data to prove are ineffective? Gun control and so called gun free zones. In nearly every instance of these heinous acts the establishments were gun free zones. All a gun free zone means is that the zone is free of guns in the hands of responsible, law abiding citizens. It does not mean that a bad guy will stop at the door and go on his merry way to conduct his mayhem elsewhere.

In states and municipalities where we have the most stringent gun control laws we also have data to show that those are areas where gun violence is the worst. Chicago being a leading example. Same is true of Washington D.C. and Detroit. Gun control has only worsened the violence and increased the body count.

Gun control laws are to the mass murderer what relaxed IRS laws and regulations are to the tax cheat. A virtual payday. An opportunity to conduct their deed with no one to stop them.

In any one of these mass shootings had their been someone with a concealed carry to stop them, while it would not have prevented the murder of some, it could have been effective in neutralizing the threat that more people might be killed in the event. In every single one of these cases while people are ducking under desks, locking doors, and trying to avoid sprays of bullets, what are they waiting for?

Guns. Lots of guns.

I ask one simple question. Would you rather wait for the police to make their way inside, locate the threat, and take that threat out? Or would you prefer that someone under the desk beside you who has a gun, who knows where that threat is, is able to stop the threat right there and then?

Until we realize what we need to be examining in these cases we will get nowhere with the discussion, and frankly we'll get nowhere with solving the problem. The president has called these acts "routine." I agree with him. It seems to be getting that way. But what is also routine is our constant return to the discussion of gun control laws which are far removed from why these things occur, and why these things are not stopped sooner when they happen.

TV talking head Bill O'Reilly has suggested tougher gun crime laws, and even while that won't stop all gun crime from happening, it could potentially get more guns off the streets that would otherwise wind up in the hands of bad people. Any crime involving a firearm, including armed robbery, would demand a mandatory 10-year sentence in a Federal prison. In addition, in these cases I say confiscate and destroy the firearm—or perhaps return it to its legal owner if you can match it up.

But more than that, I say let's get away from this touchy-feely gun free zone that helps no one to be safer, and let's allow anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry anywhere, anytime. In the grander scheme of things these are random and rare events. But they happen often enough that I'd feel safer knowing a good guy with a gun beside me can stop a bad guy with a gun in front of me.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tread Carefully, GOP

Time and time again I have commented that love him or hate him, Trump is leading the charge when it comes to the republican party's race to the White House. Sure, the guy is definitely not what we are used to when it comes to presidential hopefuls. He's crass, abrasive, a bit in-your-face, and I fully understand why some people may find this more than a bit troubling considering the power he might have at his fingertips.

Even I have some doubts of my own. But I am also considering his underlying message, and carefully reviewing the things he has said he wants to do, and trying to determine if there is any credibility there to answer the very important question.

Can he do these things? Of the "crazier" ideas, what is more likely to be in the realm of possibility?

We all know that presidential hopefuls, heedless of what side they are on, want to do a lot of things, and certainly promise to do a lot of things. Whether or not they can actually get anything done depends largely on the ability of presidents to get the House and Senate on their side.

One thing that can be said of Trump? Something he does very well and makes no apologies for? Ruffling feathers. And lately it seems that he's ruffling quite a few feathers in the establishment republican party. It seems to be becoming more and more clear the republican party is more than surprised by how well he's doing in all the polls, leading by miles ahead of the other hopefuls aside from Senator Ted Cruz who is his closest runner to date. It's also clear that many within the establishment GOP strongly felt that Trump would simply be a sideshow that would be fun for a little while, but then quickly fade while the party could get on with its real campaign for the White House.

That has not happened, and the Trump storm does not seem to be slowing at all. In fact, its pace is picking up.

Now New Hampshire is trying to deny that Trump even belongs on the ballot in their primary, citing lack of evidence that Trump is actually registered as a republican. To steal a line from what may well be Trump's opponent on the other side should he win the nomination, "What difference, at this point, does it make?"

Donald Trump has said all along that he will honor whoever happens to be the nominee, and has said that if it's not him, he won't run as an independent. That is unless he happens to be in the lead and is still not nominated. Then it's his choice to do what he wants, because clearly if he is the front runner and is not the nominee, something is rotten at the core of that. The republican party seems to be trying to quietly suggest Trump should not be the nominee, and that the opportunity should go to a "real" republican contender.

The GOP would be wise to not underestimate what is going on here.

I have spoken multiple times about the changing demographic and dynamics of this race on both sides. All signs seem to point that this particular presidential election may be historical in more ways than one. If one thing is certain, and I have said this before, part of Trump's popularity is in fact his distancing himself from the republican party while still running as a republican, and the fact that he is running against the government's business as usual—and that's significant when you consider that the American people are more and more becoming distrustful of their government, and their elected officials. The people are not looking for a politician this time around. At least, that's the take away from the current dynamic. That does not mean it will remain so, and no one can absolutely discount Hillary Clinton yet.

Any effort the republican party tries to make to unseat Trump could well be their very undoing. Nothing will supplant in the minds of voters more dissent for partisan politics and business as usual than denying a clear front runner a nomination. And if Trump resorts to running as an independent, he may well actually still get into the White House anyway.

The republican party needs to follow the voice of the voters. The voice of the people. And they need to be aware that regardless of what the establishment thinks of the guy out front...they also cannot deny that what puts him there is the voters—and can't we all agree that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and the body of people who ultimately help to choose our leaders, need to cognizant and appreciative of what the people want?

Trump may well fall on his own. But that's not something the republican party should be fostering prematurely, or potentially taking steps to decide his fate on their own. If Trump is going to win and become president, I don't think it is going to matter to the voters whether he is an independent or a republican. It's going to matter only whether or not he is the people's choice.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Aldi vs. Walmart

Perhaps I am not stating anything new, or I am rehashing old "sentiments," since I have written about my liking of the way Aldi Stores does things, and areas where I think Walmart seriously misses the mark many times before in the past. The fact is that when it comes to anything shopping related, and saving money in general, I am pretty good at what I do, and in no way I am trying to be vain about that.

The more I compare the two stores, Aldi and Walmart, the more convinced I become that there are more advantages to Aldi than there are to Walmart. These days I actually have to say that the best value a shopper can take advantage of comes from Aldi. Not so long ago you would have heard me continue to cite that Walmart mostly beats out the competition on price.

That is no more.

There are myriad items I find are much cheaper at Aldi than at Walmart, and let's be clear I am talking about unit cost here. Not overall price. Size matters when it comes to shopping for the best deal, as does knowing your prices when you shop. But moreover, knowing what you pay per pound, per square inch, and per ounce. That really is the art of comparing apples to apples, folks.

For example, let's take canned vegetables (even though I have recently shifted to frozen vegetables). The average price for the Aldi preferred brand is around 40 cents while Walmart's cheapest alternative is around 65 cents. Canned mushrooms are cheaper. So are Dakota's Best baked beans at Aldi, which by the way stack up rather nicely to even Bush's Best or the Great Value brand at Walmart. Tomato paste and tomato sauce are also significantly cheaper than anything offered at Walmart. And when it comes to some of those items, these are household staples.

Other items people like to buy that are cheaper at Aldi stores?

  • Prepared noodles, be they the Reganno boxed variety or Aldi's mac and cheese
  • Jarred spaghetti sauce
  • Potato chips
  • Snack crackers
  • Take 'N Bake pizza
For the past three or so months I have also been buying my russet potatoes from Aldi. Why? Because a 10 pound bag of these at Aldi averages about $1.98 while Walmart's best price is about $3 more. A potato is a potato, right? Apples to apples.

But there is something else about Aldi that definitely wins very high marks. That is that despite a high volume of customer activity, and often times a higher volume of goods per cartload, Aldi gets you through their checkout line fast. The only complaint I have sometimes is that they do not take as much care with my canned goods, tossing them too roughly into the cart, causing denting which I detest. But even that is not an oft experienced thing.

Today I went to Walmart for a few essentials such as eggs, sliced cheese, beer (yes, beer is considered an essential in my household), jarred minced garlic, flavored waters, and so on and so forth. I of course got the best price since I bought these items there for that very reason. But the checkout time? Abysmal. I was in a line 3 deep and it took me fifteen minutes with relatively lowly filled carts just to advance to my own checkout. Even when I got there I swore the cashier was dead since she was barely moving. When you count in your head between beeps, you should never be able to get to "five, one thousand." But I was able to.

Walmart still holds the line on many items for me, and certainly when we are comparing stores ultimately, Walmart of course offers many more items and varieties of items. That all aside, my end result in my comparisons between the two stores is this; lower per item cost at Aldi, better overall experience at Aldi, more value for the money at Aldi, and certainly better customer service at Aldi.

If there is any store out there giving Walmart a real run for their money and taking up quite a lot of valuable market share, it has to be Aldi. I will certainly continue to shop there so long as their prices are good, and so long as the quality of their products are good (which both are). There are so many reasons why shopping at Aldi is simply overall a better experience. If Aldi offered the same level of goods as Walmart did I am certain the value would be there, and I would have no reason to shop Walmart at all.

Both Aldi and Walmart would be wise to pay attention to that.

Imagine for a moment the opening of the first Aldi Super Store. I bet it would go over like gangbusters. And if anyone could figure out the best and most efficient way to manage an operation  like that, it might just be a company like Aldi. Sadly it is a German company. But in the world of business what matters most is service, value, and quality, and if Aldi can find a way to do better than American owned Walmart...

That is exactly where my money will go.

The Dynamics in 2016 May Be Why Trump Wins

The other day I spoke a little bit about history having a tendency to follow the future when it comes to elections and politics in general, and how I felt that due to some historical and current data it strongly suggests that Hillary Clinton cannot win the upcoming presidential election. I stand by the arguments I made for my case on that. But there is something else that we know about history when it comes to primaries and who ultimately winds up winning nominations; The front runners rarely become the nominee.

I also talked a bit about some changing demographics and dynamics in this election cycle which could have at least some influence on things. For much the same reasons I believe those changing demographics and dynamics hurt Hillary's chances, I think they bolster Trump's.

For all intents and purposes you could say that Hillary Clinton has been the front runner for her party's nomination for at least the past four years and running. Despite her obvious troubles I don't see anyone emerging in the democratic party who stands a chance of unseating her strong lead within her party.

Hillary Clinton will be the democratic nominee for president without a doubt.

I am beginning to think that when it comes to who the republican nominee will be, it will be Donald Trump. He is going to manage to buck the trend that suggests that someone would ultimately otherwise knock him out of first place. And again, it is that changing demographic and dynamic that will help him maintain his lead. One of the brilliant things Trump has managed to do throughout his campaign, and continues to do to this day, is run against even his own party. He's running as much as an independent as he is running as a republican, and this just happens to be resonating with the electorate—and handily. I think Donald Trump, in many ways, is also managing to do something that any other republican candidate would be hard pressed to do and that is to capture at least a portion of the liberal voting public's interest. I actually believe that Trump can win the majority of the swing vote and take up enough of the democratic vote and ultimately win the White House.

Whether or not you totally agree with the movement of the 99%, and certainly everyone can agree that Donald Trump is certainly not in that majority, the movement did strongly suggest at least the idea that the citizens were becoming more and more dissatisfied with the way of the world. Granted, this anger was directed toward the fat cats. The rich and the powerful. But I think it was also a protest against an establishment that they (the 99% people) felt gave license to the rise of the rich and paved the way for a growing gap between the rich and the poor. Or in this case, the 1% and the rest of us. Trump may well be a part of that 1% the 99%ers hate so much, but he is not a part of the establishment.

Trump may not be for a $15 an hour minimum wage, but he is for restoring the kinds of jobs in the country that will provide a better chance for better wages, and moreover, more opportunities for the average citizen to get a good job that pays well and provides for their families and their basic needs. Even the 99%ers argued that the evildoers of the corporations raped and pilfered not only by becoming rich off the people (their claim, not mine), but they also did it by sending good paying jobs away to places like Mexico and China.

Donald Trump has said he wants to fix that.

Whether it is by design or by default, it seems that Trump is speaking to the masses. He's bucking all of the trends. He takes no prisoners. He draws a hard line in the sand. He has also managed to draw a good many people into the realm of politics who would not otherwise be so inclined. Perhaps it is still too early to draw such conclusions, but with the times being what they are and mindsets in places we haven't seen in our past, there is enough here to strongly suggest politics are out (leaving Hillary out), and anti-establishment in, meaning Trump may enjoy a rather surprise victory. Trump's success may well come partly from a combination of rules, history, and timing. If the dynamics were not what they are, Hillary could certainly have bucked history. Those dynamics are key to understanding exactly why the historical trend may perpetuate even with very different aspects as to why they will, and why perhaps they would not have.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Free Porn Killed Playboy?

Well, of course the short answer to that is yes and no. Free Internet porn may not have killed Playboy Magazine, but it did kill full-on nudity between their covers. That all aside, was Playboy ever really porn? I mean, in the finer sense of the word if I can even go there. Finer and porn. Now there's a conjoining of words you never thought you would see together. I always viewed Playboy as soft-core if anything, and actually that is what Playboy always wanted to suggest of itself to sort of separate itself from anything seedier that may have been out there. If Playboy Magazine accomplished one thing in its long tenure, it was to somehow make the idea of porn on any level classy, and I think if one looks back on Playboy's long history of nudity in their magazines, the nudity was never portrayed in a fashion that would be considered (by most level-headed people) to be overtly lude or lascivious. Unlike other magazines like Penthouse or Hustler, which indeed came after Playboy, the depictions of women were artful and done with what can only be classified as a respect for the beauty of the naked female body. As porn got raunchier and more risqué over the years, Playboy maintained its classier, more respectable format, and I think it enjoyed many years of success as being an every man's magazine. You'd rarely get a raised eyebrow from anyone if you told them you subscribed to Playboy. After all, they had some fantastic articles, and during Stephen King's up and coming days, he made many a tantalizing horrific contribution between the boobies and butts. But tell someone you picked up a copy of Penthouse or Hustler and you'd be the stuff of innuendo and jokes of a more sinister sexual nature among the guys.

Because they were definitely not the stuff of Playboy.

For all intents and purposes I agree with the stance of Playboy's founder and creator, Hugh Hefner, that if you want to see sex acts, nude women, or anything else for that matter, one is no more than a simple click away from anything imaginable—or desired, depending on your perspective. Porn is as easily accessible, in all of its forms, as a hamburger at McDonald's. But I still go back to my perspective of Playboy as a whole. To my mind it was not porn in the truest sense of the word. Playboy kept itself "classy" through the generations, even though Playboy Enterprises did delve into some of the seedier world of pornography as a whole. The magazine maintained its format with nude women portrayed in an artful manner, and I don't think ever revealed too much. If one can even say this about porn in any capacity, I think Playboy managed to keep it clean.

But, part of the decision did come about as subscription rates and overall sales of the magazine have dramatically fallen. So, in that sense, what can be found on the Internet has hurt sales. Interestingly enough, another thought by Playboy to change its format and take out the nudity are sales of other men's magazines on the racks that show beautiful women scantily clad, but still clothed. Sales and subscriptions of those magazines, for whatever reason, have taken the lead. The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue still flies off the racks, and with the women depicted there one must still use their imagination to know what's under the string bikinis, and it has maintained a fairly steady following year after year even though it has never shown any real nudity.

What I am suggesting here is that while the numbers do not lie, and being a bit of a business savvy person myself I fully appreciate bottom lines and cause for change to improve them through identifying what is scratching away at them, I still think Playboy has and had a niche in the entire marketplace of porn. I think Playboy easily separated itself from the pack simply because it was more of a pin-up mag with an edge, and did not play by the same rules the rest of the porn industry has obviously taken. Even in the most risqué of poses in Playboy they pale in comparison to any poses you might find elsewhere. The photo layouts in Playboy have always let you see more than you might otherwise see, especially when it comes to celebrity spreads, but still leaves enough to the imagination that it is clearly not what you would find on the rest of the Internet.

I actually think that the decision by Hugh Hefner will prove to be a good one. He's right. If you want full-on nudity you don't have to go very far to find it. But here's something I think that Playboy could use to help capitalize on its new concept. Take a page from the story book of Sports Illustrated and have a once a year issue that separates itself from the content of the whole year combined, and that compels readers to take a closer look.

That is, take a reader poll each year and let them vote for the hottest girls who appeared in any of the non-nude issues of the magazine. AND THEN, pick the top three or four to pose in expanded nude spreads.

If Black Friday is the day for retail that brings those operations in the black, I think one issue a year of Playboy depicting nude photos of what its readers deem to be the most interesting and sexy women on the planet may well be an issue that the publication could not print fast enough to keep up with demand. And if the readers see the entire year before the annual nude issue as a lead-in to finally see that beautiful woman in all her glory, it could be one of the most anticipated issues of Playboy every
single year and rake in hundreds of millions of dollars to boot.

It is keeping Playboy honorable and classy. But also in keeping with the tradition that made Playboy a household name.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Why Hillary Will Not Win The Election

In the stock market we typically follow the philosophy that past history is not necessarily indicative of future results. But a lot of the time when it comes to presidential elections and politics in general, history can be very telling. Even while there are some changing demographics and of course, different dynamics at play with this upcoming election, there is still enough data among the electorate right now that tend to suggest that history may well be very telling as to whether or not Hillary Clinton can seat herself in the Oval Office.

I am taking the position that Hillary Clinton cannot win, although I am also openly saying that it is too early to firmly stake that claim.

Set aside some of the issues of her political tenure that I think should be enough to preclude her from ever holding an elected office or cabinet position of any kind such as Benghazi, or the email scandal. The question becomes whether or not Americans are satisfied with the current state of the Union, and how they feel about the direction the country is headed.

In a recent Monmouth University poll likely voters were asked whether or not they would vote for Obama for a third term if he was able to run, and only 27% of those polled said yes. 43% said they wanted someone else. With Hillary Clinton not having clearly defined how her presidency would be different than Obama's, and how her candidacy is not necessarily a continuation of the same policies of the Obama administration, this puts her almost in lock-step with Obama. If 43% would be unlikely to vote for Obama, how would they then circle back to Clinton, essentially equating to a third Obama term?

I do not believe that voters will.

Let's not forget that many Americans, even those who typically have supported Obama, are also becoming more aware that perhaps the policies of the Obama administration, for all of the hope and change promised, have simply fallen short. The economic numbers have not improved much. The jobs situation has perhaps seen lower unemployment numbers, but there are still many quality of life issues when it comes to what types of jobs are being filled. Even having more people working means nothing if those jobs aren't helping to dramatically improve anyone's bottom lines. And it would appear that foreign policy has been a disaster at best—and the recent events in France won't help Clinton either—and according to other polls Americans are not exactly convinced that the country is safer today, and many are also considering that the next attack on American soil may just be a matter of time.

History shows that it is extremely rare in any event for one party to maintain the White House for 12 years straight. I do not believe that, despite all of the hype surrounding Obama's two-terms, and any excitement for another historical moment in the making if Hillary makes it to the White House, that there is enough there to provide her an opportunity to buck the trend.

And Hillary is also trailing every single one of the republican candidates, and I think that is quite telling considering who she is ultimately up against. The usual players are not the front runners. Who is leading in nearly every single poll?

The non-establishment. Non-politicians. Non-government.

The numbers alone seem to signal if not for a history repeating shift to the republican party as would otherwise be the case, but a strong and growing dissent and resentment toward the status-quo when it comes to the entire landscape of politics. Hillary is clearly completely immersed in this world that a growing number of Americans are simply tired of. As well, it seems to me that even if you take a look at the small list of democratic candidates, and any enthusiasm that may exist in the democratic side going to just one primary candidate, it begs the question; If the democrats, or any democrat in the party, felt strongly that the Obama presidency was a huge success, would there not be more candidates coming front and center to eagerly make an attempt at continuing the legacy? Enthusiasm can sometimes be defined by who shows up to take a shot, and on the democratic side that number is quite small. This becomes even more glaring when you consider the controversies which have surfaced during Clinton's run. Anyone eager to take up any slack in what would be considered a strong and in-the-bag victory would readily step forward and say, "What about me?"

I think the truth is that Hillary Clinton is not the automatic president everyone seemed to want to suggest she was going to be. That becomes even more clear to me now.

It is still too early to tell as I stated before. But what does seem clear to me is that the republicans have the best shot they have had in a long time to secure a victory, and I would not be at all surprised if that victory doesn't even necessarily go to the republican party even if the future president bears an "R" after their name, but to the non-establishment which just happens to be strongest running on the republican tickets.

I simply feel that history will prevail despite the changing demographics and dynamics of this election, and democrats will not enjoy another four years in the White House. That leaves Hillary out almost indefinitely since Bernie Sanders, her strongest opponent, comes nowhere near the numbers of any of the republican candidates. If Donald Trump is a "long shot," Bernie Sanders is a shot in the dark in comparison.

Whoever wins the White House, rest assured it will not be Hillary Clinton.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

On The Border, We're Missing The Point

There is a very good reason we erect barbed wire fences around our nation's prisons. If we did not, then very dangerous people would be free to roam into the land of law abiding citizens where they would rape, pilfer, and kill innocent people. Every time we talk about our porous borders we seem to be focused on Mexicans, and simply people in a corrupt land seeking better lives for themselves and for their families. I, and countless others who get it, have been talking about the real dangers of porous borders for years. But the truth is that still, most people are missing the point.

It's not just about immigration. It's not just about illegal aliens. There are real and present dangers when anyone can enter our country.

Since that fateful day on September 11, 2001 I would say that we have been safe in part due to the efforts of the FBI and the CIA and other agencies within our government charged with gathering intelligence regarding the aims of terrorists. But I think it is also safe to say that perhaps, so far, we have simply been lucky. The attacks on 9/11 came swiftly, and in some ways you could say it was like the first leg of a hurricane. The damage was done, and then there was a calm. But every hurricane has an eye where the winds die down and the sun shines through, and all seems well. Until the other leg of the storm comes back through to finish what it started.

The fact is that so long as our borders are not secure, the terrorists have a very easy pathway into our country. And the fact that they could well have been spending the last 14 years making their way in, building cells, gathering funding, and planning an offensive should scare the hell out of us. We have had our eyes closed. We have been naïve and out of focus. The terrorists, more than anyone, is all too well aware of this. And they will use it against us.

President Obama has spent his entire presidency defending the rights of illegal aliens, arguing for amnesty, and has attacked anyone or any state that has called for active policing and the securing of the American/Mexican border. The democrats currently running to take his place are not changing their stance at all on the border, and so it is clear that if any democrat takes the White House after Obama's term is over, an attack may be just around the corner. For the terrorists it will confirm what they already suspected.

Americans are asleep at the wheel. They can attack at will. No one will see them coming. No one knows they are already here.

It is true that while the GOP contenders are all mostly calling for some form of securing our borders, and that if that one of them wins the White House, with a republican controlled House and Senate, we may actually finally be able to get something done here. There is no guarantee that an attack still may not be imminent since it will take years to fully secure the border, ramp up border patrol, and figure out who has entered our country. If the terrorists are already here, there is a still a real and present danger we face. And one that we have allowed through political correctness, a dangerous form of empathy, and simply not paying attention—and so easily forgetting how easy it was for the 9/11 attackers to plan their attack and complete it while all were none the wiser.

Still, it must be done. And I think that if anyone is going to be focused on this real threat it will be the republicans. Not the democrats. If anyone is going to take the steps to acknowledge the threat of terrorism to our nation it is going to be the republicans. If anyone is going to be actively looking into who is here already it will be the republicans. If anyone is going to ramp up the offensive against ISIS and ISIL, it will be the republicans.

We are in a very dangerous time, and the recent events in France should be just one other reminder that we have to be diligent in our pursuit against terrorism, and we need to be vigilant about knowing who enters our country, and making it harder to get in in the first place.

The sad truth is that Americans often become too involved in their personal pursuits that reality only hits them square in the face when bodies fall, buildings collapse, bullets fly, and bombs drop. As a society we need to be aware that in the dark corners there could be danger lurking. We can go about our lives, but we have to always keep it in the back of our minds that bad people exist, and that the fact that we are good people is not enough to keep us safe. France should serve as a final reminder that we can no longer ignore the border issue, that we can no longer ignore the real threat of terrorism, and that we need to be on our toes and ready to put up a strong fight to kill terrorists before they kill us.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Rebuttal to Comments Regarding Ways To Save A Ton of Money On Groceries And Household Items

After writing my commentary, "Ways To Save A Ton of Money On Groceries And Household Items," while I did not get many comments directly on my post, there were some "circles" of friends and family who wanted to provide a verbal rebuttal to my entire concept that time is money, and not taking the time to shop multiple stores, maintain an inventory, and forget convenience was simply wrong.

But you and your wife do not have kids. We do not have time to go to different stores. We cannot always shop price. We just need to get it done.

I can sympathize with that argument, and I can also appreciate it. But what does it really boil down to for me? And let's be clear that I am not trying to be argumentative or mean when I state this.

You are making this claim with very little true knowledge of the value of your money, and the value of your time.

I stated in my commentary that if the average person wasted an average of $1,000 every single year just to save time, and just for the sake of convenience, that if they made $15 an hour they would need to work an additional 67 hours each year to pay for the cost of just getting it done and saving time.

To that end I decided to break things down a bit more, simply because I was curious what the true cost of saving time happens to be. My numbers are slightly rough, but they also hold a lot of truth. My calculation here is as follows:

  • What if I wasted just a mere $1,000 each and every year for the next 30 years? If I would have instead put my waste into the markets, for example, and earned compounded interest at 5% year (a conservative figure based on historical results), how much more money might I have had? Or conversely, how much money did I actually potentially lose just to save time?
In 30 years you have of course wasted, at the bare minimum, $30,000. A small number. And let's keep in mind that the total waste not adhering to some of the ideas I presented in my "Ways To Save A Ton of Money On Groceries And Household Items" is actually significantly more than that for a very large number of people. The real number is probably somewhere around $3,000 - $7,000 a year of wasteful spending depending on your income, and the size of your household. Even those figures may be substantially conservative based on your own lifestyle, the types of products you buy, and of course whether or not you are buying brand name items or no-name items.

If you would have followed the principles, and instead of wasting the money at the cash register, put the money into the stock market, or a simple mutual fund that earned a very conservative 5% annually, at the end of 30 years that money would have accumulated to a whopping $66,643.82. Not only would one have wasted $30,000 in 30 years, their wasted money would have lost the opportunity to gain $36,643.82 of accumulated interest.

Again, more people waste more than $1,000 annually, so this number actually doubles and triples and quadruples. If we were take into account the real numbers we'd be looking at figures more around $266,575.28. If at the same time you were still sticking to your retirement goals it is easy to see how after a mere 30 years of working, following sound money management principles, being disciplined about your spending habits, and following a few simple extra steps to ensure that your money is spent wisely, justly, and with a well mapped out plan for at least the everyday spending, you could be looking at assets that top $1 million or more. Perhaps not quite enough to retire after 30 years of gainful employment. But surely much closer to the prize than if you simply decided you'd rather save time in the short term than save a TON of time in the long term.

Why do people fall into these traps? Why do people easily accept these "justifications?" Because they think in terms of the here and now. Because they do not run the numbers. Because they do not understand the basic idea of the intrinisic value of money. It is the fault of no one. They don't teach this stuff in school and most people don't take the time to learn it on their own.

There are other ways to consider how this $1,000 a year could be "reinvested" as well. One could pay down debts. One could pay down mortgages. Both of these things are also very good uses of the "found" money, and would significantly reduce the actual number of years you are required to work, and save you a massive amount of time overall.

The bottom line? The time you are saving today to make your life easier is costing you tens of thousands of dollars of more time working to make up for it in the end. If you are okay with that, then maintaining the status quo is fine. But the finish line comes up much sooner if you understand how money works, how waste affects you, and how convenience actually costs you more in the end.

It is said than an apple a day keeps the doctor away. That is disputable. But an hour extra a week could actually put retirement in your grasp YEARS earlier. I think the numbers I have presented here speak for themselves. There is much more to be gained by saving money than by saving time. I think that speaks for itself and the numbers make that all too clear. In my life saving time is worthless if in the end it costs me money...

And increases my working life.

Raising Wages Artificially Seriously Hurts Jobs—No One Gains

I am not sure if I remember exactly who first touted the $15 minimum wage, but the lawmakers sure have clung to that number with several cities in the US now implementing wage hikes. Bernie Sanders wants to be a champion for the middle class shouting in a Verizon picket line that "corporate America can't have it all." And Dan Price, a Seattle CEO of what was a successful company decided based on some pie-in-the-sky study of a "happiness factor" that his employees should make no less than $70k a year.

The truth is that all of these numbers, all of these promises, all of these demands, are simply done without any thought to who pays the cost ultimately of any of these types of decisions. When people shout out these talking points they are not considering facts such as how much money is really out there for the taking? What are the bottom lines of the companies? What do the balance sheets look like before and after an ultimate decision is made?

The end result, however, is clear. Loss of jobs essentially washing out any potential gain from increasing wages.

Less taxes will be collected, less wealth will be gained, and more doors of companies will be shuttered leaving behind it simply more ruin. Time and time again there are lawmakers and people in the voting public who simply do not understand the basics of economics, and the impact of arbitrarily pulling numbers out of their asses when it comes to what they believe everyone is entitled to. The way to boost the economy, and the way to boost people's wages ultimately is not simply by slapping a number down and saying "let's call it done." It is simply not how it works, and the proof is always in the pudding. People always suffer as a result of unintended consequences. Unfortunately these are the very people these decisions are designed to help.

I am not at all against people making more money. I say a company should pay their employees the most they can reasonably afford to pay. But it's not simply a matter of picking a number. It is a matter of looking at what is reasonable and it is a matter of hiking or paying wages that are conducive not only to the lifestyles of the employees, but to the continuity and profitability of the business as a whole. If people are laid off, if prices need to be raised, if benefits need to be reduced, this helps no one to accomplish the end goal of rising up the middle class and improving anyone's standard of living.

Just like in our own lives, creating artificial spending relief by adding credit cards to our wallet only prolongs the reality that we do not have the money to sustain what we want, a company cannot simply absorb demands without real money to satisfy them and have the expectation that this will somehow make-up for itself somewhere down the line.

When the bills come due, that is when reality sets in, and the smartest people in the crowd begin to realize you cannot create something out of thin air and expect it to work. Those who aren't the smartest in the crowd point to the greedy businesses and the rich as "screwing us over again."

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ways To Save A Ton of Money On Grocery And Household Items

One of my secrets to having money has never been making a lot of money, although I have managed to make my fair share. My secret to having money lies in what I spend. Or, put another way, what I don't spend. And the cost savings are enormous. Aside from all the ways you can make more money than you earn from any job, such as concepts such as pay yourself first, investing in the stock market, contributing to IRA's, 401k's and other retirement plans, there is a ton to be gained by following a few simple rules when it comes to spending your money on the everyday things we need and that are the bulk of our daily expenditures. Groceries and household items.

  • Know your prices and establish a threshold price. In other words, what is the most you are willing to pay for any particular item? When an item is at or below your threshold price, stock up on it.
  • Forget brand names. Brand name items are products of marketing, not quality. Marketers will have you convinced that their product is better through marketing, but if you test off-brand products you will easily find they are comparable, if not better than any brand name items you have been convinced are superior.
  • Shop more than one store and DO NOT buy any item that does not meet your threshold price just because "you are there." If you are managing threshold prices properly, and stocking up on goods that meet your prices you should have plenty of supply on hand to wait for a good deal or when you might be at the store that has the best price.
If you are not running your household like a business runs its warehouse, you are doing it wrong. A business keeps a few key factors in mind. Cost of raw materials, upfront cost of supply, days-on-hand of supply, and of course, inventory management and control. If an airline sees oil prices are low, it will buy contracts for oil at current prices in larger number to ensure that tomorrow's cost of use of oil in jet fuel will be lower even if the price of oil rises and thusly the cost of jet fuel. The business has established a price threshold and will take advantage of low prices to save money in the future and it will stock up when the price is good. The same goes for producers that use sugar, corn, and other raw materials in their goods.

Many business also hire purchasing agents or purchasing managers whose sole job it is to buy raw materials and other products for businesses at the best price available and of course to shop the best price. You should be running your household the same way. Again, know your prices, maintain your inventory, and schedule your purchasing both on need AND price. If you are buying because you need it now, you are probably paying more for what you need by default. The cost of doing it this way is enormous.

Why do businesses do so well and make so much money? Because they know how to save and they know how to spend and they know where to buy and they know a good deal when they see it. That's not greed. That's business smarts. We should all be paying close attention to this when we run our household budgets for items that are key and regular items we use. If we are not, we are spending more money than is necessary.

To be very truthful, that is waste due to ignorance and laziness. No business succeeds using an ignorance and laziness model, so why should you?
  • But I do not have the time to do all of these things. I have a busy schedule, a busy life, and convenience is just better for me.
Consider this, if you will. One very simple question. Why is life so chaotic? Why is time so limited? In part it may well be that there are jobs to be shuffled in amongst the many other demands life has to offer. So what is the purpose of a job? To make money to maintain the living expenses and to maintain the household and to buy the groceries and household items that we need to get through it all. How much more time does the average person spend working to make the money to pay a higher price for goods to maintain the household due to lack of time to do the due dilligence? You would be surprised to learn that the numbers are in the thousands of dollars per year. We could actually maintain the same quality of life with less hours on the job and have more time to spend doing other things if we knew the cost of doing business without a plan. The dollars we spend over and above what we could spend if we maintained our households better equals many more hours at work to make up the difference. So therefore part of the reason we have to work long and hard hours is because we do not take the time to do the things that are essential to require less money to get it all done.

I harp on all of this because the key factors in longer hours at work, and higher need for credit use, is a simple misunderstanding of the cost incurred from ignorance and laziness to do these very simple things that could save us enormous amounts of money.

When I think of spending, or cost, I don't just look at it in terms of how much out of pocket it immediately costs me. I think of it in terms of time. How much time do I have to spend at work to make the money I am willing to pay over and above what my cheapest cost can be?

Let's say I make $15 an hour on my job. That's 25 cents per minute. I ask myself one simple question. Am I willing to spend four extra minutes at work to pay $1 more for what I am about to buy for convenience?

Pennies add up. And again, the amount we spend over and above what we could spend is actually in the thousands of dollars per year. In effect, if we ONLY spent $1,000 per year extra on things at $15 an hour, we would require an additional 67 hours to pay the difference. You have to ask yourself whether or not saving a little bit of time for convenience saves you 67 hours of additional labor hours to pay the difference.

Your chaos in life therefore may well be self inflicted by your spending habits and your desire to "save time" for convenience.

The problem with money that most people face in this world is a simple thing. They do not know what the cost of their decisions are. They do not know what the cost of their actions are. And they do not know how much time $1 equals. People look at the top line and the bottom line, and they fail to read between the lines. If I am getting by, what else matters? I just keep on keeping on. The cost of this logic is astronomical. The hours spent working by this logic is astronomical. The chaos in our lives, the accumulation of debt, and other factors are the key reason why so few get ahead and so may just get by. The fact is that we are always too focused on the here and now. We say we cannot afford to save, and we say we cannot afford to take the extra time to shop around and shop more than one store, and the biggest reason why that becomes the truth is because we have to work so much longer to make up the difference.

Part of what separates the haves from the have-nots is largely due to the ability of the haves to understand these very basic concepts and to capitalize on the them and ultimately, to benefit largely FROM them.

If you think life is tough and expensive, it is probably because you are working to pay for ignorance and laziness when you could be living well, saving money, spending less, and working less, and even maybe paying debts off sooner and be considering early retirement.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Danger of Talking Points in Elections

Democrats and liberals will often utter talking points, which on the surface sound fine. But rarely do they think through what the effect is ultimately of any of it. They simply drop their line, smile, and walk away feeling there is no reason to further explain. This is especially dangerous when these talking points are actually acted upon by our elected officials.

Take this democratic talking point as a case in point: "Everyone should have the ability to own a home."

On the surface it sounds wonderful and fair. Owning a home is the dream of a good many Americans, and in communities where people own their homes, the communities generally tend to thrive since there is a tighter bond between the real estate and the person who occupies it.

This talking point, and the action that was taken in support of it lead to the biggest financial decline in recent history and nearly caused an economic collapse.

Sure. The blame was placed on the big banks, Wall Street, and the rich. But the truth is that while there is some blame to lay there, a larger part of the blame lies on the politicians who signed into law the opportunity for people who could not otherwise afford homes to have them anyway.

Let's keep in mind that what the banks had to do in order for this to be possible was to have to take on enormous amounts of risk of capital. In answer to that they created credit default swaps and took on other measures which could not truly be valuated when all was said and done. When loans were called, no one had the money to pony any of it up.

Therefore the system fell apart.

The current lineup of democrats on the stage vying for the presidency are all spouting off talking points, and not a single one of them are backing up what they are saying, or explaining how they intend to do any of the things they say they want to. Americans are lapping it up like fresh milk to a cat. Granted, there are a handful of republicans doing the same thing. The difference is that most of the republican candidates are actually explaining how they intend to get something done, and stating the reasons behind why it must be done.

The key behind, for example, how the republicans intend to fix the economy? Jobs. And in one particular case, putting to task those countries that have for years siphoned off good jobs and unleveled the playing field when it comes to trade. Republicans know, and history shows clearly, that when Americans are working, and when the middle class is viable and strong, the economy thrives.

As for the democrats, they want to attack the so called evil rich who are simply counting their change and leaving everyone else behind with evil grins on their greedy faces. "Tax the fat cats. Pay their fair share. Close the gap between the rich and the poor."

The truth is that while this sounds fine on the surface, and I can certainly see where a good many Americans might be on board with this idea, it is a completely dangerous and counterproductive path to take.

When is the last time you received a paycheck from a poor man?

The rich are hard working people who build businesses and innovate products to sell to consumers not just here, but abroad. They are the machine that drives jobs which provide for the welfare of Americans. Yes the idea is to maximize profits. Sure, the playing field is a bit uneven. Yes the corporations have as much to be blamed for when it comes to how we lost those jobs as the government is to blame for opening trade in ways that allowed for it to happen, and which all but took away America's competitive edge, especially in the case of manufacturing. The heart and driver of the middle class in America.

What the republicans want to do is to restore manufacturing in the United States, and make it harder for countries like China and Mexico to provide cheaper labor which hurts American jobs. The republicans want to remove things like Most Favored Nation status and reinstate tariffs which were designed to even things out—a tariff on goods coming from China, for example, puts the cost of their products on par with the cost of making things at home in the U.S. Lacking a strong incentive for American businesses to get labor from China, they'd be more inclined to keep their shops open right here at home and keep Americans working in them at good and competitive wages.

The main thrust of this post is that at the end of the day as we approach the 2016 elections, we need to be paying attention to what is being said on both sides of the aisle. We need to not only hear the talking points. We need to be able to see the forest for the trees. We need to be able to read between the lines. We need to be able to consider the consequences—intended or unintended—when it comes to any decisions that might be made in consideration of what sounds good. As well, we need to fundamentally understand what has driven down our economy, and our standard of living. It has not been the rich. It has not been tax loopholes. It has largely been trade policy which has allowed for companies to provide jobs abroad and leave Americans behind, unable to compete. I will be fair and say that the republican party is largely to blame for this. But the fact is that they now see the harm it has done and want to set it straight while the democrats simply want to take from the rich to redistribute wealth without considering the impact of that, and without considering the benefits to restoring manufacturing, and restoring good paying jobs and the middle class to rebuild the country economically.

Why are the democrats so hell bent on focusing on welfare programs instead of jobs?

Because it equals more power for them to push their agendas through and hold the American people hostage. Americans who have more, have more power and control over their lives. Americans who have less become dependent on what the government can provide, and so the power is given to them, and the power of the American people erodes.

We are at a critical time in our nation's history. In order for us to get back on the right path, I think we need to stop listening and adhering to the talking points. We need to begin to dissect the talking points in a way we haven't done in a long while and begin to really get at the root of how we make America great again.