Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Obama and his Chicago cronies are working hard at making America into one big Chicago
It's all they know
If you want to get a good glimpse of what America will look like if President Obama continues to push his “change” agenda, take a close look at Chicago. But brace yourself: it is not a pretty picture.
Chicago, as we all know, is Mr. Obama’s home and the place where he served as a community organizer, a state legislator, and a US Senator. Obama championed a variety of jobs creation programs, advanced ideas to reduce crime, and sought earmarks totaling some $800 million dollars to boost the Chicago economy. By all accounts, he was energetic, determined, and successful pushing these programs.
But while many, including Obama, have focused almost exclusively on Mr. Obama’s noble intentions, few have focused on the results. Which of Obama’s efforts in Chicago delivered the promised benefits? None.
Chicago is a city in crisis. Crime rates have surged despite the many, Obama-led, community-building efforts. The number of Americans murdered in Chicago this year is about the same number of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past year. Two State Senators have argued that Chicago’s crime problem is too big for locals to solve and have called for deployment of the National Guard.
Nor is crime the only problem in the windy city. Unemployment is at 11.2%, 1.3 points above the national average. Worse yet, minorities are particularly hit by a failing Chicago economy that continues to shed jobs as the unemployment rates among minorities top 20%.
Alas, the index of misery in Chicago earned the city the distinction as the third most miserable city in America, as high taxes cripple job growth, innovation, and entrepreneurialism.
None of Mr. Obama’s efforts as a community organizer, state legislator or U.S. Senator did anything to reduce Chicago’s misery index. It’s possible that the opposite may be true. Remember: as a U.S. Senator, Mr. Obama averaged nearly $286.9 million per year in earmark requests, which he justified as ways to promote job growth, reduce crime, and improve schools. Yet, Chicago’s misery worsened.
Is it possible that Mr. Obama made Chicago’s problems worse by championing a philosophy of greater federal support, avoidance of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility? Was the nearly $1 billion of Obama earmarks spent, not on investments that might have helped spark economic activity, but instead directed to dubious causes aimed at rewarding key supporters such as the Unions? Did Obama help choke off economic vitality and entrepreneurialism by acquiescing to high taxes and growing regulatory burdens?
I think so. Mr. Obama did not set Chicago on a path of ruin single-handedly. He had lots of help. Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat Party Whip, White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. Valerie Jarrett and other Chicagoans occupy key positions in the Which House. Like Obama, Durbin and Emanuel have, for years, directed funding, both directly and indirectly to Illinois and to Chicago for assistance, entitlement programs, pork projects and perks. And yet, the problems in Chicago only grew.
Here is the scary part: now they are in Washington, working hard to duplicate on a national scale the failures they achieved in Chicago.
None of the powerful Chicago politicians now in Washington have practical experience creating jobs. All of them have a mistaken belief that the federal government can generate job growth by turning the spigot of taxpayer money in the intended direction. They also believe that ever larger and more intrusive government and regulatory regimes added to every level of American life are a prescription for economic growth. This same, failed philosophy that guided their actions in Chicago now guides their efforts in Washington.
Obama’s Chicago experiment has been a dismal failure. Why should Americans trust Obama and allow him to experiment with the future of the country and our children? Obama’s vision is wrong. His favored solutions do not work, and Obama’s path only leads to greater misery. Americans deserve better, and so does Chicago.
If Team Obama wanted to find out why their earlier programs failed and led to an exodus of jobs, they could talk to companies that have relocated to more business friendly states such as Texas. In Texas, Team Obama would find a lower tax rate, a healthy climate for entrepreneurial growth, and pro-growth policies that encourage innovation and new investment.
Team Obama might even want to take a trip and talk to the guy that first put Texas on the path of long-term growth, fiscal solvency, and enhanced competitiveness. The roads to Crawford are well marked, so he should not be hard to find.
Caring Enough to Cut Spending Responsibly
This week, our debt will pass $13 trillion. Nouriel Roubini, former Clinton White House economist, said on Fox News, "What has happened in Greece could happen in the U.S. We could have serious problems. We have the debt of the federal government. Many state and local governments are bankrupt. There are unfunded liabilities for social security. There are unfunded liabilities for state pensions." Trillion dollar deficits are not sustainable.
Politicians and government administrators talk about the pain involved in cutting government spending, and there are consequences that impact employees and those served. But, too often, they forget the pain citizens are experiencing in having to pay more fees and a variety of higher taxes. Governments don’t bear the cost of anything; their citizens do.
The late Peter Drucker was a leadership truth teller: “I think you could probably merge agriculture and commerce and have one department of the economy. Instead, my prediction is coming true. I predicted in 1960 that, by the year 2000, there would be more employees of the Department of Agriculture than American farmers…. Cutting back on any government service is still anathema to liberals…. So if you are a Democratic Party dependent on labor votes, cutting government services is not exactly popular.”
Unfortunately, too many politicians in power are more interested in being popular than responsible. They’re spending more, expanding entitlements and printing money rather than cutting budgets.
Tackling the Deficit is controversial, and it isn’t easy. Leadership never is. Ross Perot captured it best: “The deficit is like the guy that finds a rattlesnake in his pants. He knows he's got to shoot it, but he doesn't want to hit anything important.”
Both leaders and citizens would like more money to spend, but the stark economic realities are forcing all to decide where to cut? There is a sign in the CA State Finance Department that should have been put up long ago: “Nothing inspires genius like a tight budget.”
The most common mistake is organizational egalitarianism. Leaders take 10% away from everybody, instead of separating out what's core. We need leaders to embrace a scrounger mentality—you do what you have to do with what you have. Be tight where you can and spend only where it’s critical. Don’t just think more with less; do the RIGHT less with less! Mission centric services should receive priority funding. Some expenses are nice only if you can afford them, and other costs could have been cut years ago. Keep all the stakeholders focused on being responsive and working smart on real priorities that are worth doing.
Waiting for the perfect decision isn’t the answer. It’s important to get things done, and some are. Jeff Baarstad, PhD, Deputy Superintendent of the Conejo Valley Unified School District and chair of their budget committee, has embraced the challenge: “It’s incumbent upon the leaders of public agencies to focus on providing the highest quality services possible with the tax dollars we’re provided. We must be crystal clear about the core services we’ve been commissioned to provide and place the lion’s share of our resources behind those services. That boils down to a qualified and caring teacher, in a clean, comfortable and safe classroom, with a reasonable class size, and access to the materials and supplies necessary to give students the knowledge and skills necessary for success in college and careers. That happens in a classroom on a school campus.”
Working non-stop since the spring of 2009 with parents, teachers, classified support workers, counselors and psychologists, school board members and administrators, they’ve reduced their expenses nearly 15%. Their priorities are clear—classroom instruction first, the student’s campus experience second, district support services third and central administrative office last. Dr. Barrstad warns, “We recognize the core reason we exist as a public school district. Focusing on our classroom priorities is the right way to proceed, but no one should minimize the impact that reducing non-school support services may have on classroom instruction.”
America is also attracting a new breed of candidate dissatisfied with the direction our country is going. John Davidson, running in the Republican primary for the 23rd Congressional District, brings his 25 years of business experience to his campaign priorities. He’s got his focus on smaller, not bigger government: “This out of control government spending is the first thing that must be addressed in Congress. In the business world, when you spend money you don’t have, you don’t have a business anymore. I’m running for Congress to stop the deficit spending and balance this budget, without new taxes, by cutting wasteful spending and focusing on our priorities.”
Support administrators taking on the challenge, and when you vote, send a message to Washington that we want leaders to care enough to cut budgets responsibly. We need smaller more efficient government, not more government.
Obama and Attention Deficit Democracy: "In his commencement address at the University of Michigan on May 1, President Obama warned that public ignorance subverts self-government. Obama declared: ‘When we don’t pay close attention to the decisions made by our leaders, when we fail to educate ourselves about the major issues of the day … that’s when democracy breaks down. That’s when power is abused.’ Unfortunately, most Americans have little or no idea how government works or who is holding the reins on their lives.”
In praise of profit: "Profit is proper. Profit deserves praise. Profit is a beautiful concept — as it is only possible when individuals or groups produce a product or service that other people want, need and like, and are willing to voluntarily put their money where their mouth is and buy the thing! This is wonderful in my humble opinion. Someone, somewhere is doing something right and getting rewarded for their efforts!”
Western China: Internet restored, but repression continues: "On May 14, residents of East Turkestan rediscovered the Internet — not the Internet of unfettered access that is enjoyed the world over. But a lifting of the most draconian Internet restrictions ever seen so that people could finally access China’s censored version. For 10 months, starting from the July 2009 unrest in Urumchi, the Chinese government kept the people of East Turkestan isolated from the rest of the world with a comprehensive communications lockdown that not only blocked the Internet, but also affected telecommunications. The communications lockdown was an illustration of the chilling ideology of power that guides the decisions of power brokers in the Chinese Communist Party. In those 10 months, the Chinese government conducted a brutal crackdown on Uighurs largely unseen by the outside world.”
The subversive vending machine: "For nearly a century before the Internet put the anonymous consumption of vices literally at the world’s fingertips, vending machines dispensed taboo wares, experiences, and entertainment free from the gaze of prying eyes. Salyers argues that the first vending machines in wide use were the snuff and tobacco boxes in 17th century English taverns, appropriate forerunners to the ubiquitous, plastic-handled cigarette dispensers that populated bars, bowling allies, and restaurants in the second half of the 20th century. Be it the condom machine in the gas station bathroom, the coin-operated peep show, the pinball craze that prompted a moral panic in the 1940s, truant hoods spending afternoons in smoke-blanketed video game arcades in the 1980s, or the rebellious rock ’n’ roll dispensing jukebox, there has always been a subversive element to coin-operated commerce. Even the Norman Rockwell–celebrated Coca-Cola machine has gone rogue, as public health activists now fault soda and candy — and, in particular, the widespread availability of both through vending machines — for the fattening of American children.”
Era of unlimited government arrives: "‘Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business,’ President Calvin Coolidge told journalists in March 1929. If Coolidge suddenly sprang to life today, he would look around and drop dead. Washington Democrats are minding their own business — and everyone else’s. In this era of unlimited government, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats stick their snouts anywhere they will fit, without the guidance of common sense, frugality, nor any sense of priorities. For today’s federal government, it’s everything, all the time.”
Huge new paperwork load for all Americans: "The massive expansion of requirements for businesses to file 1099 tax forms that was hidden in the 2,409-page health reform bill took many by surprise when it came to light last month. But it’s just one piece of a years-long legislative stealth campaign to create ways for the federal government to track down unreported income. The result: A blizzard of new tax forms that the Internal Revenue Service will begin rolling out next year. … All business payments or purchases that exceed $600 in a calendar year will need to be accompanied by a 1099 filing. That means obtaining the taxpayer ID number of the individual or corporation you’re making the payment to — even if it’s a giant retailer like Staples or Best Buy — at the time of the transaction, or else facing IRS penalties.”
US said to order an expanded use of secret action: “The top U.S. commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents. The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David Petraeus, authorizes the sending of U.S. special operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces.”
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Posted by JR at 7:50 PM