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FiscalCliffIt appears as though no deal will be made before 1-1-2013 and America will go over the fiscal cliff; resulting in higher taxes and draconian spending cuts including to the military.  What does the year 2013 have in store for us?

Though I am a Republican conservative and support most of the conservative causes, I don’t blame President Obama one bit for trying to make a deal.  I see his point about a tax burden to all Americans and what Obama and the Democrats seem to talk less about is the reduced levels of national security with spending cuts to the military.  But it is still important that the two parties don’t make a deal just for the sake of making a deal.  Like chemotherapy for a cancer patient, it is possible for the cure to be worse than the disease.  As devastating as going over this proverbial cliff sounds, it could be the lesser of several evils put on the tables by both parties including those so called remedies with bipartisan support.

While Speaker John Boehner will give in on tax increases for the rich if the cutoff is $1,000,000, President Obama wants the cutoff to be $250,000.  While $100,000 has become a middle-class salary, a quarter of a million dollars is still a nice lifestyle; but it is no longer considered wealthy.  It is not enough to operate a business and have employees earning above minimum wage on a quarter of a million dollars in net assets, and it is nip and tuck with minimum wage earners on payroll.  $250,000 basically represents the upper echelon of salaried employees; not people with potential to create jobs.  The Obama plan may put the brakes on before that yellow and black warning sign in front of the cliff on 12-31-12, but it does not build a bridge over the cliff to the other side and we are still going to go over eventually with the abyss below twice as deep.  If the carat is compromised on half a million dollars, we should all give it serious thought.

What I find most alarming is nobody has a plan to actually raise $16 Trillion and cure the debt.  All options including going over the cliff only reduce the debt; the best plan on the table would reduce it to $4 Trillion.  There are 371 billionaires in the world and a lot of millionaires.  But in the history of mankind, no one has ever become a trillionaire and yet we have seen trillions on the red (negative) side.  If God forbid, you implemented Marxian Utopia and stripped all wealthy Americans of all of their wealth, we would still come up short.  You can’t blame either the ninety-nine or the one for not wanting to sacrifice anything when you cannot offer the grand prize of a balanced budget in return.  It is only putting off the inevitable.

The recipe for a balanced budget calls for more than just two ingredients, tax increases and spending cuts.  Without, entitlement reform, spending cuts are like what baseball broadcaster Tim McCarver says about pinch hitting a .280 right-hitter with a .285 right-handed hitter; eye-wash!  The way to achieve entitlement reform without doing the unthinkable and leaving elderly and disabled with no means of support is to privatize whatever can be privatized.  Not by vouchers, but by government contracts consolidating the essential services to one company per service and exempting them from paying corporate taxes in tern for administering the service without prejudice against things like pre-existing conditions.

Another key ingredient is currency stabilization—I have not seen one plan by either party addressing this issue.  If we are going to continue with the Federal Reserve Note being our only form of currency and the only way out of (inevitable) predicaments is by printing more and devaluating more, trying to balance the budget on taxes and spending cuts is like trying to drain the bathtub with the water running.  We need to put forty percent of our currency back on the Gold Standard.  You cannot print more Gold Certificates than you have gold in reserve and with the 60/40 hybrid currency I propose, the government can leave itself an out.  If the feds see the need to print more Federal Reserve notes, they must also certify more gold to maintain the 60/40 ratio; the result is they can print less than otherwise.

Finally, American needs to create engines of revenue outside the normal realm of taxation.  To begin with, we need to tap into our domestic energy sources.  Though I like to consider myself an environmentalist, some drilling and fracking is a necessary evil.  Besides once we have access to a fair amount, we can invest more into scientific research toward greener, renewable energy sources; but we have to keep the lights on and the Bunsen Burners burning in the labs in the meantime, as well keeping the wheels and turbines of American society turning.  We will never become completely independent on Arabian oil and shouldn’t for that matter—if we stop buying oil from Arab lands, they are more likely to organize a Jihad against Israel—right now they hate us but they love our money.  But by buying that much less from them, the savings alone will be a dynamo in debt reduction.

Neither party, partisan or bipartisan, has a plan that provided any of the three ingredients I mentioned above.  This is not to say I can’t be sold on something Washington conjures up on the eleventh hour; I just want to warn everyone that a deal just for the sake of making a deal may not make us any better off.  Just in case, be prepared to go over the cliff!

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There aren’t any updates on the Fiscal Cliff to report at this time.  If I had to call it now, I would say we are going over.

I spent most of my Sunday morning snowblowing my driveway but I did hear one Republican senator remind us that, regardless if it is a Liberal Democrat plan, a Conservative Republican plan, or bipartisan, any bill to reach President Obama’s desk must include an appropriations clause that instantly earmarks all revenue to go toward deficit reduction.  Otherwise, a so-called deal is like giving matches to a child.  If the president and the Democrat controlled senate are going to spend the money to grow the government, we are only going to go deeper in debt and eventually be in the state Greece is in right now.

Not to mention, if you desire equality with respect to how we are going to pay down the deficit or at least reach financial sanity, you already have that–that can be achieved by doing nothing and just go over the cliff Tuesday.  If you want a deal to avoid the cliff, you do not want equality–you want one side or the other to pick up the tab.  If the two practical alternatives are to either tax the middle class out of house and home, or tax wealthy or semi-wealthy business owners to the point where they no longer have the wherewithal to create jobs; that cliff is looking mighty good.

This is not to say no deal is any good, just understand the paradox and be careful what you wish for.

Ace of SpadesWhile we all wait with baited breath to see if we go over the fiscal cliff or if an eleventh hour deal is made, I thought we would have some fun to take our minds off the negativity associated with the federal deficit, the war between the political parties, and the cold war between the ninety-nine and the one.

Wink Martindale became most renowned for hosting several television game shows; but when he was a very young man, he wrote a “song” (he actually spoke to the music) about a Deck of Cards and how that was his bible when he was in the army.  The ace reminds us there is one God, the deuce reminds us that there is a Heaven and a Hell, the three for Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, etc.

In an attempt to exercise some brain cells, I decided to take that same deck of cards and relate it to America, American Government, and the impact in the overall American way of life.  I found the six, the eight, and the queen most difficult.  I would like to share with you what I have conjured up:

  1. Ace
    1.  Ace = 1: One nation under one God.
    2. Ace = High Card: The greatest country in the world.
  2.  Deuce (=2): The two houses of Congress.
    1.  Senate
    2. House of Representatives
  3. Three
    1.  Separation of powers: the three branches of government
      1.  Executive
      2. Legislative
      3. Judicial
    2.  Division of powers
      1.  Local
      2. State
      3. Federal
  4.  Four: The four branches of the military that keep our land safe and free.
    1.  Army
    2. Navy
    3. Air Force
    4. Marines
  5.  Five: The five elements that make our lawmaking process
    1.  Citizens: we are government of the people, by the people, for the people
    2. Majority vote in the House of Representatives
    3. Majority vote in the Senate
    4. President signs bill
    5. Constitutionality check: any law deemed unconstitutional is null and void
  6.  Six: The six functions of the American Government defined in our Constitution
    1. To form a more perfect union
    2. To establish justice
    3. To ensure domestic tranquility
    4. To provide for the common defense
    5. To promote the general welfare
    6. To secure the blessings of liberty
  7. Seven: The seven years we fought to form a free nation: 1775 – 1781.
  8. Eight: The eight qualities we expect from our elected (and other) leaders
    1. Attitude
    2. Character
    3. Compassion
    4. Education—knowledge and wisdom
    5. Example
    6. Listening skills
    7. Perseverance
    8. Vision
  9. Nine: The nine Supreme Court justices.
  10. Ten: The Bill of Rights: The first ten amendments to the Constitution.
  11. Jack: A nation built on jacks of all trades and the freedom to choose your profession.
  12. Queen: Mother Nature who we must respect for a good environment for generations.
  13. King: George III of England who we revolted against to form this great free nation.

I am not referring to nuclear proliferation and the cold war rivalries between the United States and the then Soviet Union.  As we are just beginning to see the Newtown school shooting put to rest (or at least moving own albeit the hurt will never completely subside), the debate over gun control continues to escalate.  And with Washington, D.C. unable to make a deal to avoid going over the fiscal cliff, politicians and political scholars have shifted emphasis to gun control.  The problem is I don’t think the argument can ever be won—the greatest scholars, the masters of the Platonian dialectic can never reach an equilibrium synthesis that makes sense.

On the one hand, the National Rifle Association (N.R.A.) has a clever slogan they have used for years, If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.  Though the slogan is an oversimplification of the issue, they are actually right.  There is no such thing as a law-abiding criminal—when one makes up his or her mind to commit a crime, that person is already committed to breaking at least one law and the possibility of being arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced looms.  So why not break a gun law in addition and increase the odds of a successful crime?  It is not unreasonable for law abiding citizens to have guns to protect themselves from such criminals.  The problem is where does it end?  If I have a forty-five, the criminal will want a semi-automatic.  If I have a semi-automatic, the criminal wants a fully-automatic.  If I have a fully-automatic, the criminal wants…God help us all.

On the other extreme, liberals believe only organized militias should have guns.  Not everybody can have a militia right in their own backyard.  Nobody opposed the police carrying guns, but the police can’t be everywhere.  Also, can you trust any militia?  Do you really want the Michigan Militia solving your problems for you?  They are not angels themselves.  And those weapons have to be stored somewhere; usually in the homes of the members of the militia.  It is not impossible for them to get into the wrong hands.  Mrs. Lanza had a Bushmaster automatic, illegal to begin with.  Adam Lanza stole his mother’s Bushmaster, and that alone, he broke two laws.  He stole a gun, robbery or grand larceny, and he violated Connecticut’ ban on assault weapons.  I still would like to know why Mr. Lanza needed a Bushmaster.

Horatio Alger once said build a better mousetrap and someone will eventually build a better mouse.  We could all own weapons of war and our streets would be a modern version of the Wild Wild West and our schools and other such institutions would be prisons for children or the appropriate parties to spend six hours a day.  Once everyone has a war weapon, God only knows what will be available for criminals.

When I was a senior in high school, I took a Psychology in Literature elective course with a teacher who was quite liberal.  As an aside, he was discussing swear words and made an example of the proliferation of the F word.  If you use it all the time, where’s my F—ing pen, my F—ing car won’t start.  You put the F—ing fork on the wrong side of the plate…then when you hit your hand with a hammer, what’s left?  If we are going to live under martial law all the time, then what do we do when we really have declare martial law?  We are effectively building prison walls around the nation’s borders and in every home, school, and office we set foot in.  Doesn’t sound like a free country to me.

I do defend the 2nd Amendment for several reasons; one reason is I don’t want to do brain surgery on the original Bills of Rights.  If the 2nd Amendment were repealed, it would set an irreversible constitutional precedent and then Free Speech could be next.  I think the best solution is to debate with the scholars and find the outer limits to the 2nd Amendment—the same way many years ago someone determined Free Speech does not include yelling FIRE in a crowded theatre not on fire.  When a decision is made on which weapons are not covered by the 2nd Amendment, curtail production of such weapons.  They will never be impossible to acquire, but a reduction and reducing the chances of a repeat in Newtown is the best we can hope for.  This is not unreasonable because when our Founding Fathers wrote the Bill of Rights, the weapons at issue today hadn’t been invented.  We drink from the fountain of wisdom we inherited from the Founding Fathers, but we pass laws based on twenty-first century parameters.

 

All the usual Sunday morning TV shows covering national politics dedicated the entire show on 12-16-2012 to the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the once idyllic community and town of Newtown, Connecticut.  Many pundits wanted to know why with all the open discussion on economic issues such as the Fiscal Cliff and foreign affairs in hot spots such as Syria and Iran, why is the Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms not discussed to any level of significance in the twenty-first century?

I have good reason not to blog very often on gun control; one reason is blogs are an exercise of my First Amendment right to free speech and the way the Internet works; I cannot single out anyone who could be reading such as a young child.  But there is always an exception; however even in the case of such exception, I intend to withhold my actual position.  There are two key elements one must understand regardless of personal politics and ideology.

First, as Isaac Newton once said, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  If political science had laws of nature of its own, respect to freedom and democracy, it would have its own version of Newton’s Third: for every fundamental freedom, there is an equal or opposite fundamental responsibility.  Vindication dates back to Moses in the book of the Exodus with Moses’ defeat of Pharaoh Ramsey, the failure of the golden calf society, and his presentation of God’s gift of the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel.  While we are quick to teach or preach we have the right to free speech, but we do not have the right to yell “fire” in a crowded theatre unless it is really on fire.  We have the right to freedom of religion, but we do not have the right to practice human sacrifice.  We have the right to freedom of the press, but we do not have the right to commit libel.  We have the right to a speedy trial, but both the prosecution and the defense have the right to give time for all evidence and material witnesses to surface.  We prohibit cruel and unusual punishment, but we believe the death penalty is just for murderers.  But we seldom define limiting boundaries on guns; on the Second Amendment.   Even the most liberal who you would expect would take a strong stand on gun control, the Obama Democrats, have swept the issue under the rug.

Second, the history of the Second Amendment dates back to the founding of this great nation.  Some pundits argue it was another flaw in the character of the Founding Fathers, the first being the justification of slavery in a free country, and second, their infatuation with guns; the latter I doubt can ever be proven.  While the most controversial part of the equation is the shot guns, traditional hunting rifles and pistols for protection from the 45 on down, versus Uzis and other assault weapons?  Our Founding Fathers died before the assault weapons of today could never be conceived so the Second Amendment was never written to exclude such weapons.  If they were alive today, would they have written a Bill of Right to include any type of gun?

The popular NRA quip that has become a slogan of theirs is If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.  While is mainly a matter of opinion, one point of fact derived from the saying is outlaws are going to have guns no matter who wins the argument.  Nancy Lanza had more guns than she needed, even for a Second Amendment extremist.  But the late Nancy Lanza had no criminal history; at least none they can trace at this time.  And the shooter, the late Adam Lanza, may have had mental and/or academic problems that precluded an education in the Newtown school system which has a reputation as one of the best in the country; but again no criminal past.  In the worst case, he suffered from a neurological disorder called Asburgers Disease, which has never been linked to violent behavior.  Without the power of hindsight, there is no logical reason to for either mother of son to be denied their Second Amendment rights.

If the ultimate choice is stricter gun control laws, the best it gets is future gun owners may be denied access to certain types of weaponry and may be limited to carrying no more than ten clips.  But those who already have assault weapons and large magazines will not lose them—you cannot bang on doors and ask them to surrender them as other constitutional rights would be violated in the process.  And nothing can be done when someone passes the requirements to have a fire arm and snaps later in life.  The answer will only come when we are in God’s perfect kingdom in Heaven.

In closing, my deepest condolences to the surviving family members, friends, classmates, and other associates of the victims in this horrific tragedy.  I believe Newtownians are resilient people and after the bereavement period is over, a return to some form of normalcy is the best tribute we can pay to the children slain.  Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

 

 

 

To my readers: I will re-post my Christmas greeting shortly.  I did not want it to be drowned out by this but I feel the necessity to say the following:

Where do we go from here?  Today (12-14-2012) in my home state of Connecticut, just about ten miles east of the town of Newtown, the second worst school shooting since the Virginia Tech shooting took place at circa 9:40 a.m.  I remember both the V.T. and the Columbine shootings, but (1) it was a jogger’s jaunt from my own backyard, and (2), elementary school children, some in kindergarten.

Take 9-11, V.T., and Columbine; in all cases my heart ached and my tears shed.  But a reporter on WEBE radio out of Westport, Connecticut spoke about the time he attended a funeral of a baby that was accidently killed.  How it was too much for him to watch pallbearers carry a casket that small.  There are going to be many caskets of sizes smaller than that which should never have come to be.

I graduated Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk, CT in 1981; and when I think about how at 7:40 in the morning, you just walked in the front door and headed to first period class; then went through the five to six classes you had on your schedule that day.  Today, Brien McMahon, like many other urban high schools has a security system, security guards, and everybody including the student body has to walk through metal detectors on their way to first period or wherever they are supposed to be.  I get it, Norwalk is a city.  A suburb with respect to New York, New York, but a mid-sized city tucked away in lower Fairfield County with its share of bad neighborhoods, crime, and juvenile delinquency.  But today something horrific beyond comprehension took place in an elementary school in a small rural town.

Has it reached a point where even small town elementary schools need security and metal detectors?  Do our teachers have to study marksmanship and learn how to disarm such unwanted guests?  Is all that is left of enjoyable childhood is the first four years of life before one’s parents enroll the child in kindergarten?

This is not a blog article on gun control or criminal justice issues such as the death penalty.  The shooter killed himself after he killed about twenty children and six adults.  The only criminal justice system that could work for someone who does something heinous and then kills himself to not face justice is God’s judgment when the time comes.  This is not a blog article on the American Dream, American politics, or even on the future of America.  The only comment I can make in passing is that it actually makes the Fiscal Cliff really seem like a foothill.  The future of childhood is on trial right now.  This is the Christmas season; supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year to be a child.  The lives of the surviving children who attend Sandy Hook Elementary School will never be the same.

I don’t know how to conclude this article, except to give my deepest condolences to the families of those parents of Sandy Hook schoolchildren who lost a child and too the staff, faculty and surviving pupils who have to bear this grief for the rest of their elementary school years; and possibly for the rest of their lives.  God speed these miniature souls to their creator to dwell in the part of the Kingdom reserved for children who did not live to see adulthood forever and ever.  Amen.