Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas
The birth of Christ is one of the most celebrated days in the Christian religion.  We need more Christian morality in today’s world. 
Our founding fathers knew that the republic they formed had little chance of success without religious morality.  We talk about the separation of church and state, but our founding fathers never wanted to take religion out of the government.  They just did not want the government to dictate religion or restrict people’s freedom of religious expression. 
The First Amendment to the Constitution was meant to insure religious freedom of expression.  Let’s get back to that. 


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Right to Work
Michigan became the 24th state to pass Right to Work legislation last week.  Just what does Right to Work mean?  It basically means that if someone has a job where there is a union, the individual employee has the right to choose if he or she wants to join the union and pay dues.  Without Right to Work everyone must pay dues if they want the job.  The unions are strongly opposed to this legislation. 
Unions and people opposed to Right To Work claim it is a way of eliminating or reducing the power of unions.  I do not think this is a primary objective, but it does have the potential to reduce dues collected and revenues for the union. 
The opposition also claims it reduces salaries of all workers in the state.  This does not seem to be supported by the facts if cost of living is factored into the figures.  There just does not seem to be reliable figures showing higher or lower wages. 
Another argument by the opposition is that it is immoral for non-dues paying workers to benefit from the union.  Maybe, or does it take away personal freedom by forcing them to pay dues?
Proponents of Right to Work argue that it stimulates the economy and reduces unemployment.  The figures do support this assumption, but personally I think there are other factors causing this and not necessarily Right to Work legislation.  One major factor is most states with Right to Work do not have the major cities that are in urban decay.  It will be interesting to see what happens in Detroit.  
Proponents claim that companies will not consider building new plants in Right to Work states.  I am not sure this is justified, but I know it is true in some cases.  Detroit was the world leader in automobile production.  That is no longer true.  There is no question the union had some role in that decline.  How much is certainly up for debate. 
Several new automobile plants have been built in this country, but not in Detroit.  It would seem Detroit had a lot to offer.  Detroit had a trained labor force, parts suppliers, transportation, and facilities available.   Why were none of these plants started in Detroit?  How big a factor was Right to Work and the United Auto Workers?
There seem to be a lot of opinions and not a lot of clear answers.  Personally, I think it comes down to this.  If a person wants to work where there is a union, should they be forced to pay union dues, or should the union have the responsibility of showing the workers the value of paying dues?  Of course there will always be some people that want something for free without working or paying for it, but that is normal and seems to be a bigger and bigger part of our country.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Importance of Primary Elections
I think the independent voter needs to pay more attention and be more active in primary elections.  I often hear that the independents determine who wins an election.  I think that is true, but unfortunately the independents too often do not get involved in the primaries which determine who is on the ballot in the general election. 
Does this mean the party candidate is not the best choice for the ballot in the general election?  Maybe it is a party favorite, or someone that has been loyal to the party in the past.  This person may not be the best choice for the independent voter or the good of the country. 
In our recent election Romney was the Republican candidate for President.  In Wisconsin, past Governor Thompson was the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.  I am certainly not saying either was a bad candidate, but I will say neither would have been my first or even second choice.  Were there many independents that felt the same way?  Would it have made a difference in the general election? 
Some of our states always vote for one party or the other.  I think this is ridiculous, but it seems to be a fact.  I agree with my Dad’s philosophy of voting for the person and not the party.  In these states, if someone is not involved in the primary, they have no say in determining what elected official will represent them.
Both good and bad points can be made for or against our two party system, but if the independent voter does not get involved in the primary electrons, they are diluting the power of their vote.  Get informed, get active, and vote.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Social Security Entitlements
It makes me mad when I hear about Social Security benefits being lumped in with all the other entitlements.  I personally, and my past employers paid for this benefit.  If this money had been deposited in any bank drawing prime interest compounded annually, it could buy an annuity when I retired with a benefit 2 to 3 times my current Social Security benefit. 
What happened to the money?  The government “borrowed” it to finance the growth in government spending.  Of course, the government gave IOUs to the Social Security account.  What do you think those IOUs are worth?
The government hopes to pay Social Security benefits with current Social Security deposits from those people still working.  I think that is what is described as a Ponzi scheme.  Isn’t that illegal?  I think people have gone to jail for that.  I guess it doesn’t apply to the government. 

We are getting screwed with the return on our money, and all increases in benefits are based on inflation and not on the cost of living.  When living expenses increase on items seniors must buy like gas and food, these items are removed from the index determining inflation. 
Since there was no inflation, according to the government, Social Security benefits were frozen for three years in spite of a huge increase in the cost of living for seniors.  Gasoline, home heating, food, health care, and insurance all increased, but benefits stayed the same. 

This is not a new problem.  Many people have known something had to be done to save Social Security and other entitlements for years, but politicians don’t want to deal with the problem.  They would rather ignore the problem, leave it to future generations, and hope there is not a total collapse. 
President Clinton and Newt Gingrich worked on a solution, but Clinton lost his political clout over the Lewinsky incident and it never happened.   Marla and I attended a breakfast for seniors where President George W. Bush and Iowa Senator Charles Grassley presented possible solutions to reform Social Security.  Unfortunately, they were never able to sell it to Congress.  People like Congressman Paul Ryan propose reforms to entitlements and are misquoted and called extremists. 
Will there be a Social Security benefit for future generations?  Many young people do not expect it to be around when they retire.  This is sad since they are paying into the program.  All entitlements, including Social Security must be reformed if they are to survive.  What to we have to do to get our elected officials to stop the B.S. and do their job?