Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Coolidge Way (Part II)

Coolidge understood there would be a recession since the Dow Jones industrial average more than quadrupled in his last term. He knew that pace of growth could not be sustained and a correction was going to happen. Near the end of the Coolidge presidency, Republicans seeing how much the Coolidge / Mellon tax breaks had worked decided to reduce tax rates further. Coolidge signed the bill, but warned that tax rates could be too low. He and Mellon also warned that tax reductions on the middle class were fruitless unless rates were decreased on the wealthy, since the wealthy ran most businesses.

Herbert Hoover was appointed by Coolidge to help manage the South through its flood disaster. Hence, Hoover theorized that American infrastructure for dams and levees had to be improved. As soon as Hoover was elected President he passed his hydropower bill (led to the building of the Hoover Dam). Hoover, Democrats, and progressive Republicans began to spend and the budget surpassed 4 billion in Hoovers first year. Tax revenues fell as the recession hit and by the time Hoover left office the upper tax bracket was once again up to 70%. Hoover started several social works programs and Franklin Roosevelt not only continued them when he was President, he created scores more of social programs under the New Deal.

There is no question that the stock market would have adjusted if Coolidge remained president for a third term, but Coolidge would have tightened spending and may have even increased tax rates slightly. But that is it, Coolidge understood all too well that increased spending and taxes would not get the U.S. out of the recession, it would make matters worse. Coolidge would not interfere with the recession. It was that meddling in the private sector that most likely put the country in a depression. Coolidge understood when tax rates were high people protected their money by moving it into tax free municipal bonds. He also understood that these municipal bonds also kept money away from the businesses and the private sector. And this is exactly what happened under Hoover and Roosevelt. And America stayed in a recession / depression until the early 1940s when the U.S. entered WWII at which point money flowed again into U.S. industry.

What made Coolidge a great president? It was not just his conservatism because he railed against unions, high budgets, and high taxes. It was that he was the antithesis of all American presidents. While most Presidents bloviate Coolidge listened and remained quiet. Coolidge did not comment or enter himself into area he did not understand. While most Presidents pretend to be know-it-alls, Coolidge was realistic and knew that was impossible. So while Coolidge was ridiculed for not being an expert in all areas, he was the only honest one. Coolidge was not a hypocrite. While he held the U.S. to a tight budget, he too lived a frugal life (although he was generous and gave away lots of money at the end of his life). He and his family never had big luxuries or glamorous clothes. And for living a simple life, Coolidge was also criticized. Coolidge put competent people in cabinet positions and trusted them to their jobs whereas many presidents place people who give to their campaigns in important posts regardless of their knowledge in these fields. Where most Presidents were progressive and grew government, Coolidge believed the only good form of progressivism was individual progressivism where people worked hard to better their lives. And finally, Coolidge was not a narcissistic egomaniac unlike other Presidents.

Coolidge was ahead of his times in terms of placing a Democratic special prosecutor in charge of investigating Harding scandals. He also understood the Laffer Effect before it was conceived. While he was disliked by other politicians even within his party – the Senate Majority Leader, Henry Lodge, a Republican, was from Coolidge’s home state of Massachusetts and he distained Coolidge, the American public loved Coolidge. Coolidge was popular because he was real and could relate to the common man. And while politicians routinely bashed Coolidge, Coolidge was civil and never stooped to their level.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Coolidge Way (Part I)

Coolidge was probably the most underrated and unappreciated president in our history. Many historians are misguided when they blame Coolidge for the Great Depression. Coolidge was also criticized by politicians for being quiet – this was equated to ignorance. And Coolidge was also chastised by politicians for being simple and not necessarily understanding the procedures of big time politics. But some of these things are what sets Coolidge apart from other presidents. Coolidge may have been “silent”, but he was a listener. Coolidge may have been simple and gaffed in political settings, but that was what made him more like the common man.

Coolidge evolved as a politician. Coolidge started his career as a progressive Republican willing to compromise on legislation and grow government. But Coolidge finished his political career as a staunch conservative unwilling to compromise on matters such as national security, fiscal issues, unions, and state rights.

John Kennedy coined the phrase: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” However, Coolidge coined dozens of these types of individualism phrases a half century earlier. No president believed in the individual more than Coolidge and hence, he did not believe in government intervention.

Coolidge was not the best math person, but he had a simple mathematical philosophy when it came to government spending and the economy. He wanted to minimize government spending while at the same time maximizing the size of commerce. While president, his budget director, General Lord maintained a government budget around 3 billion dollars each year. To do so, Lord had to be so detailed he would limit lawmakers to one pencil at a time. To increase commerce and expand the economy Coolidge and Treasury Secretary Mellon believed in a form of scientific taxation (similar to the Laffer Effect). After a huge legislative fight over several years, Coolidge and Mellon, were successful at dropping the income tax rates for all Americans and the top rate went from 60% to 25%. Scientific taxation supporters (Laffer Effect) believed by lowering tax rates there was more money for commerce and it would result in more government revenues. His plan worked, even with the top earners paying a much smaller tax rate, the government received considerably higher tax revenues because businesses were booming. In 5 years of the Coolidge presidency, he cut a 28 billion dollar national deficit (mostly from WWI) down to 17 billion dollars.

Coolidge made a name for himself as governor of Massachusetts. When the entire Boston police force went on strike, Coolidge did not negotiate or compromise with union leaders for higher wages instead, he fired the entire force. Boston went into chaos and crime because of the callous action of unions and Coolidge’s move to fire the entire force was supported by then President Woodrow Wilson because they both called it a national security issue that risked the wellbeing of Boston citizens. People hailed Coolidge and his popularity skyrocketed nationally.

Coolidge was also immensely unpopular with Democrats and Republicans for his stance on many issues. Coolidge refused to vote for a veterans bonus pay and his veto was eventually overridden. This angered Coolidge’s political enemies because he had to find more budget cuts to keep to his 3 billion dollar budget level. Coolidge also failed to provide any significant assistance to flood stricken states and individuals. There were two significant floods – one in the South and one in his home state of Vermont. Coolidge believed in state rights and individualism to overcome difficult times. Coolidge instead raised money through charities in the private sector to help those inflicted by the natural disasters.

Coolidge could have won a 3rd term (his first term was only 2 years when he took office after Warren Harding died). He decided not to run and later Coolidge opined that the longer administrations are in power the more susceptible they are to scandals. Coolidge knew this all too well because he had to fight Harding scandals throughout his administration. Harding, unlike Coolidge, placed more unqualified people into his cabinet because they were his friends. Coolidge would never do such a thing. The Teapot Dome and VA scandals of the Harding administration sound eerily similar to Obama scandals of today.

It should come as no surprise that Coolidge was not viewed well by historians. After all, he battled and defeated unions, he refused to expand the size of the federal government, and he lowered taxes on the wealthy. Coolidge said the “the business of America is business” and did everything to support private enterprise without any government interference. These are not views that are popular in academia today. Hence, Coolidge was blamed in part for the Great Depression.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Individualism is Dead!

Individualism is defined as a social theory advocating the liberty, rights, or independent action of the individual; the principle or habit of or belief in independent thought or action; the pursuit of individual rather than common or collective interests; egoism; individual character; individuality; an individual peculiarity.

Today, the closest people come to individualism is to post something on Facebook. However, this should not be confused as being true individualism – it is narcissism. Facebook posts and YouTube videos do not pay the bills and define the entire person.

A recent report indicated that one in five Americans are on Medicaid and one in six Americans are on food stamps. About 13 million Americans are on welfare, 6 million Americans are receiving unemployment, and millions more are receiving disability. Anti-poverty programs make up better than one sixteenth of our GDP and total government spending makes up nearly one third of our GDP (local, state, and federal). In fact, over 35% of all Americans were on some sort of welfare program in 2013. That’s more people on welfare than who are employed full time! I am for helping a person in need, but these programs are exploding because a vast number of people remain on some sort of government welfare program their entire lives. People on welfare are certainly not defined as being “individualists” since they require the help of the government to survive. A true individualist would never accept any government subsidy for any reason (and yes that includes government programs such as cash for clunkers and subsidies for buying a home). A true individualists’ always earns their keep.

The statistics are even worse when it comes to Americans belonging to clubs or organizations. Fifty million Americans belong to a health club alone (80% of all people cannot work out without someone dictating / motivating their work out) and it is estimated that over 90% of all Americans belong to some club or organization (NRA, GOP, Democrat, health, Unions, etc.). And let’s face the fact; over 90% of these individuals are followers and had no input in club rules, laws, and regulations. Hence, they are not individualists because they cannot think, act, or advocate for themselves.

Today, people are not defined but instead groups of people are defined – White, Black, Hispanic, Male, Female, Gay, obese, smokers, etc. This is another function provided by our government. The government no longer represents the individual, they represent the group. Since most individuals cannot afford to lobby for themselves they must join a group to afford lobbyists and have not their voice heard, but the voice of their group. Unions are great example of this, but there are also environmental groups as well as ethnic groups such as the NAACP. The media also likes to classify groups of people. The media, like political parties, love to pit different groups of people against each other: rich v. poor; big business v. poor; black v. white; pro-abortion v. pro-life; environmentalists v. big oil, female v. male, and so forth. This, of course, makes it harder for this country to overcome bigotry, racism, and stereotypes because we classify groups of people instead of seeing the individual.

What has led to the decline in individualism? The answer is easy – political progressivism has created an atmosphere that people are no longer smart enough to think for themselves so they must have a union or have the government do it for them.

Hoover is probably the last president to preach individualism, but he quickly turned progressive after the depression hit. Coolidge is probably the last president to actually preach individualism and have his policies targeted to that philosophy. Coolidge was a progressive to a certain degree, but he felt that the best kind of progressivism was individual progressivism. Individual progressivism is where people worked hard to better themselves over the course of their lifetimes. This country would be better place if even a small fraction of Americans would live their lives in accordance with the life of Coolidge and his rules of individualism: refusing to join clubs and organizations, living with a balanced household budget, living within our means, leading by example, taking the high road, practicing what they preach, and never taking any government funding.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ferguson MO Epitomizes what is Wrong with America

It seems every issue has liberals and conservatives on opposite ends of the spectrum and Ferguson is no different. Liberals seem to support Michael Brown and the protests while conservatives more than likely support the police. The sad thing about it all is that really no one really knows the truth. Only Officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown know the complete truth. I would estimate that 90% of the public thinks they are in the know when in fact they are only agitators pouring gas on a burning fire. And it is our 24/7 media coverage that is brainwashing Americans into taking sides.

Last night liberal outlets excused the violent protests by proclaiming a vast majority of protestors are peaceful. In my book peaceful protestors within a violent group are also complicit in the crimes. And conservative outlets chastised the St. Louis Ram football players’ peaceful protests and are working with local Ferguson police to find the unlawful protestors. I am sure the police can find the violent protestors without the help of Fox News. None of this helps a devolving situation.

Meanwhile, the President has race baiting liberal Al Sharpton as his advisor on the problematic situation and his Attorney General is outlining new profiling laws. How can the general public be objective when our government and media cannot? There is absolutely no evidence this case was about profiling – if so the grand jury would have indicted Wilson.

If the President was truly objected he would listen to the voices of people such as New Orleans tight end, Ben Watson. If you have not gotten a chance to see the words written by the former Georgia University star, you need to read them. He has some unbiased insightful words. But for every Watson there are a dozen agitators.

The end result are violent protests occurring around the country killing more people and destroying hundreds of businesses. Yes, this is what our problem solving skills have resorted to. I am embarrassed to be an American. And both sides are complicit in this disaster.

I have had some very bad experiences with police in the past where they used excessive force. The culprits were White, Hispanic, and Black police officers. But as I look back on those difficult experiences I realize there are always two sides to a story. I was a dumb kid who put myself and hence the police in a difficult situation. I did not break the law and I did not deserve to be treated with brutality, but l should have never gotten in that situation in the first place. And I also realize that if I was in the police officers shoes I would have done arrest the same as they did. They have no idea who can be trusted and who cannot. So excessive force is warranted to protect themselves. I am not proud of these moments in my life, but the experience taught me a lot especially about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. It is not easy to be a police officer and I came to respect that. In the long run, I decided that the conflict could have been avoided if I was not a stupid young man and hence most of the blame fell on me. Could officers have handled the situation better? Yes, but even though I did not break the law, I was drunk wondering the streets and they felt I could be a danger to myself and others. They were probably right.

My point is that I can see both sides of the story in Ferguson. Could the situation have been handled better by the police? I bet the answer is yes, but the whole situation could have been avoided had Michael Brown not broken the law and heeded to initial police requests without being belligerent. So, I blame Brown more than Wilson, but it is impossible to put ourselves into both men’s shoes without being there. Therefore, to claim to be in the know is impossible and incorrect.

We live in the narcissistic era of social media. It has taught us all to be selfish. It has taught us all to be socially ignorant to resolve issues. It has taught us how to become problem creators instead of problem solvers. And it has taught us all too completely disrespect people with differing viewpoints. The end result is what has happened in Ferguson Missouri. We should all be ashamed of the country we live in.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Comparing and Contrasting Obama and FDR Failed Policies (Part VII)

There is no doubt higher wages, higher taxes, and uncertainty caused the FDR and Obama recessions to last much longer than necessary. But that is not the only way these two men were harmful and have negatively impacted U.S. society. Take for instance, two families A and B. Both families have the same income, the same number of children, and reside in the same general location. Family A works hard to save money, pays taxes, and does not receive any government subsidies. Whereas, Family B is much more wasteful, pays some taxes, but rakes in thousands in government subsidies – Food Stamps, healthcare subsidies, and even took a housing subsidy to buy their home. But according to Obama and FDR, Family B is the forgotten family in U.S. society – the backbone that needs to survive and be protected at all costs through wealth distribution. If all of that is not bad enough, Family B protests outside Family A’s church because they are pro-life, but Family A has the audacity to eat free meals at the church where they protest. To make matters worse, Family B eats more in food than what Family A gives to the church in charity. Family A gives to the Red Cross when natural disasters hit the U.S. and other parts of the globe. Family B’s children get paid by the government to knock on doors and ask Family A to do more when it comes to climate change (But Family A already saves more on utilities). Yes, we have become a society who cares more about what our neighbors are doing than what our own families are doing. Still, Family B, according to Obama is the fabric of this nation. Obama’s goal is to hopefully fill Family A with enough propaganda about how conservatives hate them that they will eventually vote for them. At school Family B’s kids are doing poorly and have to get federal government subsidized help through Title I to try to pull them up (which is unsuccessful). Family B’s kids are gifted, but no one knows it or cares that they are and in the long run they fall in a crack. It takes four Family A’s to pay for all the subsidies taken in by Family B. This cannot continue. There are already more Family B types in the U.S. than Family A types. And when the top 10% of all earners can no longer support all the Family B types the U.S. economy will break. FDR started the welfare state and others have made it worse – especially LBJ and now Obama. It is sad state of affairs when it is more acceptable to be irresponsible, unaccountable, hypocritical, lazy, and a deadbeat. We have become a nation of excuse makers and blamers. I am not saying these words explain everyone on government subsidies, but even if it explains 25% it is too much and a recipe for failure.

Unfortunately, Obama and FDR may pay their fair share in taxes, but in many regards they are no better than Family B. No president has blamed his predecessor like Obama. Obama had the audacity to take credit for winning in Iraq, but takes no responsibility when the situation changed. He took credit for killing bin Laden but he used intelligence garnered under the Bush administration. He berated Bush for civil liberty violations for his use of enhanced interrogation techniques, but he is the first president to order the killing of American citizens. When our embassy in Benghazi was attacked by terrorists Obama fabricated excuses, lies, and fault with others. Worse yet, the lazy Obama was too inconvenienced to save Americans to go to the situation room. Obama blamed Bush for many things, but he also continued and ramped up many of his policies – War in Afghanistan, Drone attacks, NSA spying etc. Obama backed teachers unions and abolished the voucher system in Washington DC but he still sends his girls to private school. FDR was intentionally unaccountable during the Hoover transition period so the Depression would worsen and the American public would blame Hoover while FDR was in office. FDR called Hoover incompetent but yet he continued many of his policies, especially social spending policies. FDR blamed Japanese Americans for the attack on Pearl Harbor and punished them in internment camps. FDR blamed wealthy for his huge deficits, but he himself could not figure out his own taxes. No, Obama and FDR are no different than Family B so it is no wonder they think they are the future of America – so much so they are willing to fund their incompetence and failure.

Obama and FDR never created one private sector job; their wealth was created solely through the public sector and taxpayer money. They only know how to spend other people’s money. While Family A sits in a cold winter house FDR and Obama are too busy living large and having lavish parties. History has blamed a Family A type for the Depression – Coolidge. Coolidge did not live lavishly in real life or at the White House. Coolidge left office with unemployment under 3% and the budget operating at a surplus – even with low tax rates. So it must be Coolidge’s fault that the stock market was overvalued at over 350? Coolidge felt a correction would come, but did not think the federal government should intervene. If we put our societies’ collective brain in a bird it would fly backwards because we have it all wrong. Modern society ridicules Family A but praises Family B thanks to FDR and Obama (and of course their liberal friends who write history books and report the news).