Update on The Rugged Individualist

Yesterday’s post was my 800th contribution to the political blogosphere. I began just over 4 years ago (10/15/2010). There have been nearly 77,ooo views of my posts; not exactly the Huffington Post or the Drudge Report, but nonetheless, it is a statistic in which I take great pride. Even more dramatic from a personal perspective, people from 130 nations have found their way to my tiny website. The world-wide-web is a remarkable tool indeed.

I originally decided to write a blog at the suggestion of my son. I had developed an interest in politics during the run-up to the 2010 election. It is not that I ignored politics previously. There has hardly been an election in which I did not vote over the past 49 years. What changed?

I felt very strongly that our country was headed in the wrong direction. By that I mean it has been heading away from its founding principles. I haven’t changed my mind. This has been happening for a long time but the acceleration in the wrong direction under Barack Obama has been breathtaking. I believe that he is not only an incompetent leader, but a danger to our Republic. His use of presidential power is damaging the fabric of our constitution. He promised to be a uniter – “not red states or blue states, but the United States.” Instead he is the most divisive President in my recollection.

The year 2010 was the first time in my adult life that I attended a political rally. I was late to the game, but I have decided to play and I believe I have something to say. Once I began to play, I was determined not to quit. As Admiral Yamamoto declared following his country’s attack on Pearl Harbor, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant.” In this instance, however,  Obama has awakened a Lilliputian. But watch out! Gulliver learned that Lilliputians can bring you down!

While I am proud that so many have read what I have written, it matters little to me whether anyone ever reads another word that I will write in the future. The need within me to write about my perceptions is profound. An argument needs to be made. Every individual needs to speak out, if only to say “I disagree.”

Thank you to my loyal readers. I greatly appreciate your comments – even when you disagree.

Roy Filly

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How is it that liberals always seem to take the “moral high ground?”

Though liberals do a great deal of talking about hearing other points of view, it sometimes shocks them to learn that there are other points of view.

William F. Buckley

Moral turpitude: an act of vileness or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen, or to society in general…

From: Chadwick v State Bar

I usually do not publish email blasts or internet “trash talk.” I am also fully aware that moral turpitude is not unique to one political party or political philosophy. (Also, I am aware that this is not current news – although I was unaware of this conflagration of events.) What does gall me, and the reason for posting this, is the “holier-than-thou” attitude of liberals. One does not need to defend “altruism” or “kindness” with facts. When the alternative opinion is stated and backed with facts, the liberals simply opine that the counter argument is “mean-spirited,” “uncharitable,” or lacking in “social consciousness.” What follows is well-documented and, frankly, unbelievable.

Jesse Jackson has added former Chicago Democrat Congressman Mel Reynolds to his Rainbow Coalition’s payroll. Reynolds was among the 176 criminals excused in President Clinton’s last-minute forgiveness spree. Reynolds received a commutation of his six-and-a-half-year federal sentence for 15 convictions of wire fraud, bank fraud, and lies to the Federal Election Commission. He is more notorious, however, for concurrently serving five years for sleeping with an underage campaign volunteer.

Is this the moral high ground? An ex-congressman who had sex with a subordinate… won clemency from a president who had sex with a subordinate… then was hired by a clergyman who had sex with a subordinate!

The job he was appointed to was… youth counselor!

CONFIRMED BY:

http://www.snopes.com/politics/sexuality/reynolds.asp

And thanks to PCoop for sending this to me.

Roy Filly

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The “rich” should pay their fair share? Are we there yet?

“… but what people really want is fairness. They want people paying their fair share of taxes.”

Barack Obama, 44th President, 2007

“All I’m saying is that those who have done well… should pay their fair share in taxes.”

Barack Obama, 44th President, 2011

“Do we want to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like… Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates – people who don’t need them and never asked for them? Or do we want to keep investing in things that will grow our economy and keep us secure? Because we can’t afford to do both.” 

Barack Obama, 44th President, 2012

President Obama got his tax hikes on the rich. So, has he achieved the “fairness” he demanded. You decide.

[Source: New CBO study shows that 'the rich' don't just pay their 'fair share,' they pay almost everybody's share, by Mark J. Perry]

When many pundits said that the lower 50% of Americans didn’t pay taxes the progressive /statists said that was wrong. It was true that they paid little income tax but they paid payroll taxes – social security and medicare. OK. we need to consider those.

Below is a chart that will show you the tax distribution among American taxpayers by quintile.

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 8.36.24 PM

As you look at the chart you need some definitions. What, ask you, is “market income?” Well, answer I, “market income” is a comprehensive measure that includes labor income, business income, and income from capital gains – so pretty much all income at varying quintiles. But what about that income tax/payroll tax thing on which progressive/statist /altruists focus, ask you? Well, answer I, line 4 – federal taxes paid – includes income, payroll, corporate, and excise taxes. So it doesn’t calculate every tax, but then again, there are so damn many its probably not possible. But it definitely has the payroll tax.

But what’s up with the line entitled “government transfers.” As you might suspect, that is money given by the federal government to individual households. It includes things like payments and benefits from federal, state and local governments including Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance. So food stamps would mostly go to lower income earners and social security and medicare may go to even the highest earners. As the chart shows, even the highest quintile receives about $11,000 per year in transfers from the government.

It is lines 6 and 7 that we need to concentrate on now. Line 6 is the more important line. This is the “fairness” line. It shows that 60% of taxpayers actually get more from the government than they pay in taxes. Yes, that is correct. They pay negative taxes! This is easier to see in the graph below. Of some interest the second quintile actually comes out better than the the lowest quintile. What moron let that slip by? Oh, I guess we know the answer to that.

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 8.36.57 PM

So, I now ask you, Mr President, “Do the rich pay their fair share.” NO! They pay everyone’s share!

My friends, the federal government, our tax code, our entitlements are broken. Forget about asking whether or not the system is “fair.” Ask instead whether or not it is possible to restore sanity to our federal government.

And thanks to PWC for sending this to me.

Roy Filly

 

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Pro-growth versus Obamaism

You hear Republicans advocate pro-growth policies. What exactly are pro-growth policies? Well the definition is “favoring or advocating the commercial development or exploitation of land and other natural resources, especially with minimal government restriction and regulation.” It also means lower marginal tax rates and lower tax rates on investments. As you have seen over the past six years, the Obama administration is the antithesis of pro-growth policies. Further to this point and as I have written many times, the US cannot ignore its growing national debt. Eventually it will eat up enormous portions of our federal revenues.

The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal has said many times that “the reality is that the fastest way to raise revenue is with faster economic growth.” Progressive/statist/ altruists think pro-growth policies are “unfair” and “hurt the poor.” Are they right?

[Source: Douglas Holtz-Eakin, The Growth Imperative: How Slow Growth Threatens Our Future and the American Dream]

Let’s look at what happens to American citizens with an increase in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of just one-tenth of one percent. If the US economy can achieve growth of just one-tenth of one percentage point higher than CBO projections it would reduce American deficits by $300 billion over the next 10 years.

With an increase in GDP of 1%:

  • One percentage point in growth above CBO projections would reduce the United States’ debt by $3 trillion.

Yes, say you. But how about the average American? They need better jobs. They need their pay to increase. Indeed, answer I. If that is one’s goal then the solution is to free up the American economy with pro-growth policies.

  • Were the United States to grow at an annual rate of 3 percent, it would create 1.2 million more jobs and boost average incomes by $4,200. Were it to grow at 3.5 percent, average incomes would grow by $9,000.
  • Gains from faster economic growth accrue to Americans at all levels of the income spectrum.

What to do? What to do? And which pro-growth policies does the Rugged Individualist espouse? Mr. Holtz-Eakin’s suggests the following… sounds good to me.

  • Tax reform: The American tax code is complicated and full of perverse incentives. By simplifying the individual income tax, Congress could improve work people’s work incentives. Similarly, corporate tax reform would improve the atmosphere for business, encouraging American investment and creating jobs. (This could be done with a ‘revenue neutral’ regimen – RF)
  • Regulation reform: Federal regulations cost businesses billions — from January to July 2014, over $116 billion in compliance costs were imposed on businesses and individuals by the federal government. That’s 23 million hours of paperwork. With regulatory reform, employment would rise; according to Holtz-Eakin, $1 billion in new regulations are linked to a 3.6 percent decline in employment within an industry.
  • Energy reform: More domestic energy production and increased trade would boost the American economy. Holtz-Eakin encourages policymakers to repeal the ban on crude oil exports, and he encourages faster processing of permits for natural gas export facilities.

While each of these measures would have a salutary effect on US economic growth we will still be in a deep hole unless we reform entitlements. The Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees’ 2014 report shows that Medicare and Social Security, the most popular government programs in the U.S., have reached nearly $49 trillion in long-term unfunded liabilities (and that is the low end of the unfunded liability predictions which some peg as high as $128 trillion). The $49 trillion estimate equates to a liability of more than $150,000 for every person in the United States.

If you like the Social Security and Medicare Programs and if you want to help average and poor Americans do better, then the way forward is a pro-growth policy agenda.

Roy Filly

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Demographics and Democrats

The Democrat Party seems to be pinning its hopes for the future on Hispanic voters. That is why the President is planning a massive amnesty for illegal immigrants, an implication well understood by readers of this blog. Mr. Obama would literally open the southern border because of his belief that Hispanics will be a Democrat voting block in perpetuity. There is nothing altruistic about his plans. If statistics showed that Hispanics voted Republican more often than for Democrats he would build a 200-foot-high electrified fence along the entire 1969 miles of our border with Mexico, put crocodiles in the Rio Grande River and instruct ICE to begin massive deportations. He also erroneously thinks that this “amnesty” will be his “legacy” – a term rapidly turning to dust in his presidency. It may indeed be his “legacy.” However, it won’t be the legacy he thinks it will be.

Let us first assume that he is correct - Hispanics will be a solid voting block for the Democrat Party. Brit Hume of the Fox Network has argued that Hispanics are not the fastest growing voter demographic. Senior citizens will be the fastest growing demographic by 2020. Furthermore, seniors are the most consistent group to show up at the polls. Republicans won this demographic handily last week and in the last few election cycles.

Hume backed up this argument by saying Hispanics may be the fastest-growing ethnic group (another possibly somewhat incorrect statistic), but their size and percentage of the electorate is still dwarfed by the 55-and-over crowd. “It is senior citizens, not Hispanics, who are the fastest-growing demographic in this country,” Hume said. However, as I noted above, Hispanics may grow a bit faster for the next few years. Hume continued. “If the GOP continues to make gains (with seniors), it may more than offset any advantage Democrats have with this ethnic group.”

Census Bureau data supports Hume’s contention after 2020. Between 2020 and 2030 the senior population is estimated to grow by 30 percent while the Hispanic population would increase by only 26 percent. However, as you look at the data below it is the sheer number of seniors that are important. In this decade there are 16 million more seniors eligible to vote than Hispanics. Further, these estimates look only at population, not voter turnout. And here, seniors clearly go to the polls more than any other demographic. Hispanics voted 59.4% of the time while Americans 55 and older appear at polling booths more than 75% of the time. Hispanic voters made up just 8 percent of 2014 voters, according to the national exit poll.

(Note:  The numbers shown here are in thousands.)

Group 2010 2020 2030 Growth 2020-30
Hispanic 18+ 21,285 43,407 54,827 26.3%
65+ 37,745 55,969 72,774 30.0%

Furthermore, Hispanics aren’t a ‘Cheap Date’ for Democrats anymore. This last election showed an increase in Latino support for Republicans – 36 percent of Hispanic votes went Republican, up from 27 percent in 2012. In Texas, Governor-elect Greg Abbott won 44 percent of the state’s Hispanic vote, according to exit polls. Texas is heavily populated by Hispanics that are most interested in a fair immigration bill.

The Democrat Party wants to think this is a blip, not a trend line. I think the Democrats are wrong. While many Hispanics are currently receiving federal aid, every hispanic I have met is hardworking and trying to support themselves and their families, whether their family lives here or south of the border. We have all heard the stories of Hispanics living 18 people to a house. Most shudder at that thought, but I say that only dedicated rugged individualists would solve their housing problems in such a way. Also, Hispanics are mainly Christians and heavily Catholic. The Democrat Party assaults on these religious groups cannot have gone unnoticed by this deeply religious community.

Further, Asians, as an ethnic minority, are growing at least as fast percentage-wise as Hispanics. Their allegiance to the Democrat Party is not so ingrained.

Vice President Joe Biden proclaimed the Democrat vision of the Hispanic voting block. He told a Hispanic audience in Miami before the 2014 midterm election that, “This is your election…This will be the election, if the community stands up, where we start to say, ‘The outcome of every future election in America will be fundamentally impacted upon by the Hispanic community.’” Hmmm. The “foot-in-mouth” Democrat may actually have gotten it right for once! Unfortunately for the Democrat Party, Hispanics may be the thorn in the side of Democrat candidates as time moves forward.

Republicans need to address immigration in a unified and dignified way. It is true, they cannot trust our current President to abide by a newly minted immigration pact when he flagrantly treads on current laws surrounding immigration. Perhaps Republicans should show the Hispanic community the law they will pass unanimously in both Houses of Congress if the Hispanics help them to elect a Republican president in 2016.

Roy Filly

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Surprise, surprise.

It turns out that we were all wrong. President Obama can indeed walk and chew gum at the same time. He proved it in China. He didn’t just chew gum once by accident in the presence of President Xi (footnote). He did it several times much to the chagrin of the Chinese. Charles Krauthammer takes Mr. Obama to task on the Bill O’Reilly Show.

Roy Filly

Footnote: The President isn’t chewing Trident. He is chewing Nicorette Gum in his efforts to quit smoking. I applaud anyone who can quit smoking. It was quite possibly the hardest thing I ever did. Thirty years ago, Nicorette Gum was first introduced and was the key to my efforts (some 500 attempts) to finally quit smoking. I had to smuggle it in from Canada as it had not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. But today there are patches. He should have elected the patch while on a major diplomatic foray to the world’s second largest economy and one that is very touchy about protocol.

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The President’s agenda

Today’s message is remarkably short for a Rugged Individualist post.

As much as I would like think that Barack Obama will see reality and decide to make a Clintonian change in direction; to work with Republicans, and to think of something other than pumping up his ego… well, I’m pretty sure we can forget all that.

Republicans, libertarians, and rugged individualists all will need to TAKE THE BATTERIES OUT OF THEIR ‘GIVE-SHIT-METERS’ for the next two years.

At the time of this writing, we have:

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 7.59.27 AM

remaining in the Obama presidency.

Roy Filly

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Two videos. Laugh or cry. You decide.

I have been written previously about the demography of birthrates and the dire forecast they portend. The video below is a nice summary although it is already several years old. Nothing has improved since it was made.

In the next video we get a chance to meet the future of America. George Santayana told us that “Those who are unaware of history are destined to repeat it.” Alternatively, as James Burke tells us, “You can only know where you’re going if you know where you’ve been.” So, does the video below show us where we are going?

Roy Filly

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Military service.

When I was a younger man, every able-bodied American male was eligible through the draft process to serve in the United States Army. They could also enlist in US Navy or US Air Forces. I will not try to tell you that the draft process was an entirely fair process. People of means often found ways to avoid the draft. I came of age during the Viet Nam War. Did I want to serve in Viet Nam. No. Did I enlist to do so rather than wait for the draft? Yes.

As fate would have it, I was in medical school when the draft board said to report for induction. However, they gave physicians-in-training an opportunity to enlist and then to finish their specialty training so that they could enter the chosen Armed Forces as a specialist – the Armed Services needed all types of specialists. This was one of the several inequities in the draft process – but, I was happy that it was “unequal” on my behalf. I did not want to be a general medical officer treating tropical ulcers – so-called “jungle rot.” I took that route, enlisting in the United States Air Force, and was scheduled to report to the 15th Air Force Hospital at Ton Son Nhut Air Base – the largest such base in Viet Nam – upon completion of my training. The war ended during the last year of my residency and I served “state-side” instead of Viet Nam. I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t ecstatic to receive that blessing.

However, my point is that the military draft was a great equalizer (although admittedly it fell short in that regard). All young men might be required to serve. This had a salutary effect on the nation and citizenship.

I was a visiting professor in Israel several times and couldn’t help but notice how pleasant Israeli’s were when dealing with people in service positions. Finally I asked, “What’s up with that?” The guide told me that everyone (not quite true – there are some exceptions) in Israel serves in the military. Their rank is not based on their education, wealth or civilian job, but how hard and well they fought for their country. He told me that the waiter that just served my humus might be a colonel in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and greatly outrank everyone in the restaurant.

The IDF have mandatory conscription of both men and women. The IDF is one of Israeli society’s most prominent institutions, influencing the country’s economy, culture and political scene. National military service is mandatory for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18. Men serve three years in the IDF, while women serve two. The IDF women who volunteer for several combat positions often serve for three years, due to the longer period of training. Women in most combat positions are also required to serve in the reserves after they leave regular service. After personnel complete their regular service, the IDF may call up men for:

  • reserve service of up to one month annually, until the age of 43–45
  • active duty immediately in times of crisis

The following short essay was written by Nick Palmisciano, co-owner and co-founder of Ranger Up. It has been around and around the internet many times. It has been variously misattributed to General David Petraeus, General Norman Schwarzkopf, “A Marine in Iraq,” and a host of others. I believe it speaks of a truth that has weakened our nation. I believe that the “all volunteer” army has made for a better fighting force, but it has subtracted a vital aspect of citizenship.

I remember the day I found out I got into West Point.

My mom actually showed up in the hallway of my high school and waited for me to get out of class. She was bawling her eyes out and apologizing that she had opened up my admission letter. She wasn’t crying because it had been her dream for me to go there. She was crying because she knew how hard I’d worked to get in, how much I wanted to attend, and how much I wanted to be an infantry officer. I was going to get that opportunity.

That same day two of my teachers took me aside and essentially told me the following: “David, you’re a smart guy. You don’t have to join the military. You should go to college, instead.”

I could easily write a tome defending West Pont and the military as I did that day, explaining that USMA is an elite institution, that separate from that it is actually statistically much harder to enlist in the military than it is to get admitted to college, that serving the nation is a challenge that all able-bodied men should at least consider for a host of reasons, but I won’t.

What I will say is that when a 16 year-old kid is being told that attending West Point is going to be bad for his future then there is a dangerous disconnect in America, and entirely too many Americans have no idea what kind of burdens our military is bearing.

In World War II, 11.2% of the nation served in four years. In Vietnam, 4.3% served in 12 years. Since 2001, only 0.45% of our population has served in the Global War on Terror. These are unbelievable statistics.

Over time, fewer and fewer people have shouldered more and more of the burden and it is only getting worse. Our troops were sent to war in Iraq by a Congress consisting of 10% veterans with only one person having a child in the military. Taxes did not increase to pay for the war. War bonds were not sold. Gas was not regulated. In fact, the average citizen was asked to sacrifice nothing, and has sacrificed nothing unless they have chosen to out of the goodness of their hearts.

The only people who have sacrificed are the veterans and their families. The volunteers. The people who swore an oath to defend this nation. You.

You stand there, deployment after deployment and fight on. You’ve lost relationships, spent years of your lives in extreme conditions, years apart from kids you’ll never get back, and beaten your body in a way that even professional athletes don’t understand. And you come home to a nation that doesn’t understand. They don’t understand suffering. They don’t understand sacrifice. They don’t understand that bad people exist. They look at you like you’re a machine — like something is wrong with you. You are the misguided one — not them. When you get out, you sit in the college classrooms with political science teachers that discount your opinions on Iraq and Afghanistan because YOU WERE THERE and can’t understand the “macro” issues they gathered from books with your bias. You watch TV shows where every vet has PTSD and the violent strain at that. Your Congress is debating your benefits, your retirement, and your pay, while they ask you to do more.

But the amazing thing about you is that you all know this. You know your country will never pay back what you’ve given up. You know that the populace at large will never truly understand or appreciate what you have done for them. Hell, you know that in some circles, you will be thought as less than normal for having worn the uniform. But you do it anyway. You do what the greatest men and women of this country have done since 1775 — YOU SERVED. Just that decision alone makes you part of an elite group.

Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.

You are the 0.45%.

And thanks to JM for forwarding this to me.

Roy Filly

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A rational Republican agenda for the new majority

A few posts ago, I suggested to the Republican leadership that it was time for some statesmanship. A superb agenda for accomplishing both statesmanship and advancement of conservative principles has been suggested by Charles Krauthammer. In my very first post I said this about Dr. Krauthammer. “There are many people who command my respect for their perspective on government. However, my personal gurus are Ayn Rand, Thomas Sowell, and Charles Krauthammer… As for Dr. Krauthammer, he is a voice of reason in a cacophony of political noise. His positions are well thought out and he is never condescending or vitriolic.” These are his suggestions to John Boehner and Mitch McConell.

(And thanks to PCoop for forwarding this to me).

Five weeks ago, I suggested a series of initiatives that would be like the 1994 “Contract with America” but this time post facto. It’s not rocket science. Mitch McConnell, the incoming Senate majority leader, and Speaker John Boehner are already at work producing such an agenda.

It needs to be urgent, determined and relentless. Say, a bill a week for the first 10 weeks. Start with obvious measures with significant Democratic support, like the Keystone XL pipeline.

Like fast-track trade negotiation authority that Harry Reid killed and that Obama, like all presidents, wants. Republicans should propose and pass it, thereby giving Obama a victory and demonstrating both bipartisanship and magnanimity (as well as economic good sense).

Then a simple, targeted bill to repatriate the $2 trillion of assets being held by U.S. corporations overseas, a bill to authorize and expedite the export of liquid natural gas and crude oil (the latter banned by an obsolete 1975 law) and a strong border security bill.

As for Obamacare, a symbolic abolition that Obama will immediately veto is less important than multiple rapid-fire measures to kill it with a thousand cuts. Repeal of the medical device tax. Repeal of the individual mandate. Repeal of the employer mandate. Repeal of the coverage mandate, thereby reinstating Obama’s broken promise that “If you like your health-care plan, you can keep it.” And repeal the federal bailout for insurers on the Obamacare exchanges.

If Obama issues vetoes, fine. Let the Democrats defend them for the next two years.

Then go big and go positive: a sweeping reform of the tax system, both corporate and individual, abolishing loopholes and lowering rates, like the historic Reagan-O’Neill 1986 reform or Obama’s own abandoned Simpson-Bowles commission. And go large: Invite the other side into immediate negotiations with the aim of producing a tax bill by spring.

Mr. Reid, the worst senatorial leader in the history of the Republic to match the worst President in the history of the Republic, never wanted to put Democrats in the position of voting, “No,” on the above issues. Now it is time to vote!

Roy Filly

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