Occupy Smoccupy

What Would Washington Do?

WRITTEN BY GREG

Something amazing happened 235 years ago, where a real revolution attempted to throw off the chains of tyranny lead by men who vowed to sacrifice their life, fortune, and their “sacred honor”.

Tell me what is “sacred” or “honorable” about anything being done in the Occupy protests?  What, if anything, do the actions of people who apparently have no jobs and have no want of jobs have to do with “sacred honor”?

That was in 1776, when our fledgling nation was born out of the want for liberty.  To be able to live your life the way you best see fit, practicing in the art of personal responsibility, self-reliance, and self-determination.

Aside from what the Occupy crowd is doing, which is a eclectic mix of causes, most misdirected, it still should come down to that.  But government intervention starting with Woodrow Wilson in the early 1900s, accelerated by Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression, and topped off by Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society has done plenty to erode those noble pursuits laid out by our Founders.

TAXATION

Wilson’s time in office saw the progressive income tax instituted, where wealthier Americans are essentially penalized for making too much money.  The one primary cause the Occupiers are harping on is that “millionaires and billionaires” should pay their fair share.  Well, the truth is, they do.

The top 1% of tax payers paid 38% of the federal income tax bill in 2008.  The top 10% paid 70%.  The top 50% paid 97%.  The top marginal rate of 35% vs. the bottom rate of 10% would imply they are being asked to “progressively” pay more due to being top earners.  Enough said.

When the Buffet Argument is raised (Warren Buffet pays less in taxes than his secretary) by this crowd, please remind them that Buffet takes his payment as capital gains, which is taxed at 15%.  Never mind that his company Berkshire Hathaway owes $1B in back taxes as they try to game the system.  But one rarely hears the capital gains vs. personal income tax rate bit to that argument.

Corporate taxes (some of the highest in the world) are keeping American companies down.  Over-regulation and insane environment and union-induced employment regulations have forced those same corporations to move their employees overseas to take advantage of more business-friendly environs.

A simplification of the tax code or outright abolishment of certain parts of it, like corporate taxes and the death tax (as promoted by current and former GOP presidential candidates Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, among others) would do so much in bringing jobs back to the United States and keeping the wealth in the pockets of those who have earned it.

ENTITLEMENTS

A large part of what else is wrong in America these days can also be traced back to when our entitlement programs reared their ugly heads.  Social Security began as Social Security Insurance in 1935, aimed at financially helping senior citizens and those with disabilities, to name a couple.

At the time, old-age was considered 65, with the average life expectancy in America in the 1930s sitting at 62.  That means, essentially, that if you were lucky enough to outlast your life expectancy, you were paid old-age benefits.

Today, that figure stands at 78.  The Social Security age limit has not changed.  The system is bordering on bankruptcy for a variety of reasons, but one clearly evident is that the program didn’t adjust with the changing times.  More and more people qualify for benefits, and are damned if they are going to give it up.

Personally, I would love to see the retirement age moved up to 70 right now, with the proviso that by the time I retire (perhaps in 40 years), it will be bordering on 75.  Times change.  So should our bankrupt entitlement programs.

Like welfare, Social Security should be there, but it should only be used in cases of emergency, not as a crutch or as a way of life.  The same boo boo that wants to be paid in cash under the table so he can still claim unemployment benefits is a scum bag and a microcosm of what our society has become.

Which brings me to Medicare, implemented in the 1960s by the Johnson administration.  Since 1966 when it was implemented to 2010, the cost of Medicare in terms of % of total government spending rose from 4% to 21%.

With the current aging of the population currently ongoing in America, how far will this share of the pie rise before we can no longer sustain it?  Or have we already reached that point?

REGULATION

Think we do not have enough federal regulations?  Consider that there are over 1,300 federal agencies.  Also consider the fact that the girth of federal regulations, when printed,  was contained on 163,333 pages in 226 individual books in 2009.

One of the prime offenders towards killing the American economy and precious jobs along with it is the Environmental Protection Agency.  The EPA’s codes governing air and water quality, pollution release, and green interests has crippled our ability to compete with nations like China who do not have such handcuffing regulations (I had almost typed “legislation” here, but realized executive agencies are not influenced by Congress, and therefore, answer not to the people).

States are not alone in this, and California, long known as the leading edge in the nation for liberal regulations, has passed some horrific laws.  A refrigerated unit on a trailer, a smaller diesel engine, has been the subject of their latest egregious manhunt.

Transportation companies were forced in 2009 to comply with a law that required the retrofitting of these “refer units” to be emissions-friendly.  A noble goal, but one that cost, on average, $16,000 per trailer.  Small trucking companies, the very same ones that deliver produce and meats to your grocery store, were nearly put out of business, or forced to make tough decisions of whether to pay the fee, or downsize their fleets, costing jobs.

Why is gas and diesel, and in general a barrel of oil?  Federal regulations limiting or outright banning the domestic exploration and drilling of petroleum.  Environmentalists have long claimed victory over the oil industry in this country, and it only got worse with the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in the spring of 2010.

Alaska, Texas, Louisiana, California, and the Rocky Mountain states could provide enough oil and natural gas to make us energy independent, at least long enough for green technologies like wind, solar, and hydro to become more economically competitive.  But alas, you and I must still pay in excess of $3 per gallon of gas and indirectly $100 per barrel of oil.

Is our education system any better since the inception of the Department of Education at the federal level under Jimmy Carter?  No.  Actually, tests scores in reading and math have remained flat, all this despite a massive influx of cash that has been used primarily to prop up teacher’s unions and fat salaries to tenured educators.

Obama-Care, passed in March of 2010, is a bold step forward towards full-blown Socialism.  The effects are potentially crippling to smaller insurance companies (my former employer who I loved working for already closed shop), but also for small businesses who are forced to provide insurance.  That is, unless a waiver can be secured from your Congressman.

The personal mandate, which requires each American to be insured (think car insurance) is also a Constitutional violation, as no part of this sacred document allows the government to require consumers to buy anything.  If they are allowed to do so (it is being heard in the Supreme Court soon), who knows where the reach of tyranny can go.

Several GOP would-be nominees are proposing eliminating several whole Cabinet-level agencies, amongst them Education finds a place on the chopping block.  The Department of Labor, Department of Energy, and the EPA could all be on the way out (along with Obama-Care) and the vacuum left behind would save taxpayer dollars by the boatload.

WHAT MATTERS

As mentioned above, liberty matters.  The same liberty fought and died for in countless battles by American troops for over 200 years.  This allows each and every one of us to forge our own path based on personal responsibility, self-reliance, and self-determination as mentioned earlier.

All are co-equal in importance, but none can stand on their own.  Without personal responsibility, self-determination is impossible.  But working together, these allow individuals to attain whatever lofty goal they wish.  For example, how you perform in school does determine the careers available for selection, and thus lifestyle.

I for one could have been more responsible, self-reliant, and determined while in school, and this is coming from a valedictorian in high school and some one who graduated with honors from college.  A career in medicine, law, engineering, or science was there for the taking, but my fear of large schools (and blood) kept me away and limited my possibilities.  This is no one’s fault but my own.

Still, after scrapping a career as a math teacher 5 years ago, I ventured out with my hard-won mathematics degree and landed a job with no experience at a major financial firm, and when that folded 4 years later, I was able to parlay my hard work and experience into 3 job offers, each of which paid over 13% more annually.

I know friends who have no college education but yet are in managerial positions in large corporations.  College does not determine what life you will lead…hard work and the ability to make sacrifices is what does it.  Putting the two together and instilling that fire that existed during the American Revolution for liberty and the pursuit of happiness can put this nation on the right track.  Nothing else comes close.

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~ by goetgre on December 7, 2011.

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