Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Brief Reviews of the SOTU, Oil Prices, Latest CBO Report and More

Here are a few thoughts on some interesting topics that might not make an entire blog, but are of interest. Think of it as a tour of some issues.

While libertarian and master science fiction author Robert Heinlein’s statement, “There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him,” was made years ago, I have yet to see a better description of President Obama’s health care legislation. The Nanny State attempts to justify its existence by telling perfectly competent citizens what to do, but cannot hide its own addiction to money.

Many pundits are complaining about a lack of specifics in President Obama’s speech, but state of the union addresses are not for specifics. Note that the speech lasted over 70 minutes while the President gilded generalities. For him to make the specifics of our horrific economy sound better than the reality would have taken days, a swarm of government lawyers, a thesaurus, an unabridged dictionary, a willing suspension of disbelief and a pocketful of hallucinogenics. Be glad he stuck to generalities. Life is too short for boring fictions.

The latest Congressional Budget Office’s report on the deficit came out this morning and projects a 2011 deficit of $1.5 trillion. This is 50% higher than the original projection of $1 trillion. As expected, the extension of the Bush tax cuts is being blamed rather than reckless spending.

The timing of the release of the CBO report is interesting. If the report had been available yesterday the President might have been forced to pay more attention to the federal deficit – especially the part where he advocated keeping our current spending levels for the next five years.

During the SOTU, President Obama specifically mentioned those tax cuts in relation to the deficit, “And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.” It seems like the President, but not the media, had access to that report before his speech. Did the CBO temporarily withhold their report at the Administration’s request? Hmmmmm.

Obama did call for a simplification of our tax codes, but nothing specific. Here is my suggestion for a reasonable goal: Americans with average intelligence and high-school diplomas should be able to complete their own tax returns without assistance and be certain they paid the least taxes legally possible. This is a goal that is attainable several ways, including a switch from an income to a consumption tax.

We are in the worst economy since the FDR Administration. The mainstream media has covered nearly every aspect of this except for one thing: Where is the nearly endless coverage of the homeless we had during the Reagan and Bush administrations? There is 9.4% unemployment, there is a major housing crisis and the only homeless person we hear about is former radio announcer Ted Williams because he has “a golden voice”.

Are we to believe that there are fewer homeless people than under Republican administrations? The media would have you believe so because of their lack of coverage. Just remember that the easiest way to alter the public’s perception are the decisions on what stories are covered. Some might call it self-censorship. I do.

Three dollar a gallon gasoline looks bad now, but I predict that in six months it will look good. Growing political unrest in the Middle East like that in Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt and Yemen; the continued blockage of oil production in the US; and, the failure to pursue currently available fuel alternatives all will contribute to the increasing petroleum prices. Oil speculators will take advantage of this opportunity to reap profits and push prices even higher.

The possibility that the Federal Reserve System might bail out deadbeat states needs to be halted. We already know the Fed lends money to prop up foreign banks while our own economy is in trouble. It’s past time to audit the Fed and I’m still waiting for someone to tell me why that’s a bad idea.

Finally, do you remember when Democrats accused Republicans of favoring Wall Street over Main Street? The Dow hit 12,000 today. Democrats will likely claim credit and use Wall Street as a proxy for the economy to claim we are better off. Personally, I believe the stock market surge that began in August was because of the apparent, then-upcoming, GOP majority in at least one house of Congress. Let’s hope the market is right and the GOP can slow or halt government expansion.

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