Monday, February 29, 2016

My Thoughts on Hillary Clinton's Paid Family and Medical Leave Plan

In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act into law.  Wikipedia provides an accurate summary of the law as follows:
The Act allows eligible employees to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period to attend to the serious health condition of the employee, parent, spouse or child, or for pregnancy or care of a newborn child, or for adoption or foster care of a child. In order to be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have been at the business at least 12 months, and worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.
Now, Hillary Clinton wants to expand upon it by using taxpayer money to provide income to the employee while on leave.  The income will equal at least two-thirds of someones pay and will be paid for, predictably, by taxing the rich.  In justifying this paid leave plan, she says the following from her own website:
Today, the United States is the only developed nation in the world with no guaranteed paid leave of any kind. In fact, only 13 percent of American workers have access to paid family leave—with the lowest paid workers up to four times less likely to have access than the highest paid.
First, let me address  "with the lowest paid four times less likely to have access than the highest paid". Of course this is true.  Most higher paid employees, at any company, are salaried, and not usually subject to a loss of pay when taking time off.  But, also understand, salaried employees typically work more hours with no overtime pay; and from my experience as a senior manager, salaried personnel seem to be a less sick than hourly workers who have more to lose in pay.  Just an experienced observation.

Now to the issue of "no guaranteed paid leave of any kind".  This too is true to the extent that the government doesn't guarantee paid time off by law.   However, what Hillary conveniently forgets to tell you is that the majority of companies voluntarily provide various forms of paid leave for holidays, vacation, sickness, personal issues, funerals, jury duty, and military. And, yes, 15% of large companies provide paid family leave.  This, all according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But, here's my problem with 12 weeks of "paid" Family and Medical Leave.

In 2007, the Society of Human Resource Management conducted a randomized survey among it's more than 210,000 members with regard to various types of leaves allowed under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993.  Some of the key findings were as follows:
  • Overall, 8% of the employees at the companies surveyed requested family leave in the last 12 months.
  • The most frequent request was for personal medical issues; making up 59% of all leave requests.  
  • These types of requests were up 81% in the last 5 years when compared to the 5 year period prior to that.  
  • Leave requests are a growing problem for employers when trying to fill the void created by the employee.  
  • While most leave requests give about two months advance notice, personal medical leaves rarely give notice with 50% of serious health issues giving one day's notice and 38% of non-serious providing the same.
  • When notice is given for a medical reason, the amount of time off is usually indeterminable while other employees pick up the slack in terms of double duty and overtime.  In longer term cases, the employer is saddled with hiring a temp who may or may not be as experienced or productive as the person they are filling in for.  Again, placing an additional burden on other employees to shepherd the activities of the temp.
  • These facts are reported to have created moral problems; loss of overall productivity; and even increased medical leave.
  • Human Resource Managers believed that 4 in 10 requests were not legitimate but did not pursue verifying that, for fear of a federal lawsuit over questioning what turned out to be legitimate.
All the statistics, above, would go higher if nearly a quarter of a year's paid leave is available to all workers under Hillary's plan.  That's because, simply,the disincentive of losing pay would be taken away.  It is common sense that some -- not all -- employees will abuse the system.

At the very least, you could apply the Pareto Principal whereby you could expect 80% of the abuse of the family/medical leave to be by 20% of the employees.   I know this to be true.  As a former senior manager at a major company who provided 10 paid sick days, approximately 20% of the hourly employees reporting to me took exactly 10 days sick pay per year.  Most of those people perceived paid sick days as a benefit that would be lost if not taken.

Lastly, my biggest problem with the original Family and Medical Leave Act and, now, Hillary's proposal is that It allows up to 12 weeks of leave as if all reasons for taking leave are equal; and they are not. In my opinion, this makes the law purely political and not logical.  As usual, with any federal mandate, businesses are forced into compliance; even if they can't afford to do so.  Thus, like other mandates, such as the employer mandate of ObamaCare, job and wage growth continue to be weak.  We, as a country should follow the lead of most other nations and provide for 12 weeks of paid maternity leave and paid family leave for a provable seriously ill immediate family member or for the employee themselves.  But, in other cases, a full 12 weeks is questionable.  Again, we don't need another government program that is subject to abuse and which is a one-size-fits-all political -- not practical -- solution to something that may or may not be a problem;  just to garner votes.


Hillary Clinton on the Issues: Paid Leave:

Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993:

Bureau of Labor Statistics:   Paid leave in private industry over the past 20 years:

Family and Medical Leave Act and its impact on organizations:

America's current maternity policy has nothing to do with families and everything to do with politics:

Pareto Principal:

Friday, February 26, 2016

Obama's Claim That Closing Gitmo Has Bipartisan support

The following quote appeared on the It is from the President's latest speech regarding the closing of Gitmo. In it, he states something that is clearly not true.
"If it were easy, it would have happened years ago, as I wanted, as I have been working to try to get done," he [Obama] said. "But there remains bipartisan support for closing it. And given the stakes involved for our security, this plan deserves a fair hearing. Even in an election year."

There is no bipartisan support for closing Gitmo, and there certainly isn't any bipartisan support for moving the prisoners to any state in our union.

Last fall, the Senate approved the Defense Spending Bill 97-3, which included banning the President from bring any Gitmo detainees to the United States and closing that facility.  Because of the strong bipartisan support for blocking the President's plan to bring detainees to the U.S., Obama was forced to sign the bill into law because too many Democrats were in support of it, and therefore, couldn't veto it without an override. Additionally, a mid-2014 Gallup poll found that 66% of respondents said that Gitmo should not be closed if it included moving detainees to the U.S.. Even his own Democrats were against it.

Once again, this President seems to see things as he wants them to be and not as they really are.


Obama pushes to ‘change course’ and bring Gitmo detainees to US:

Obama signs defense bill but blasts Gitmo restrictions | TheHill:

Americans Continue to Oppose Closing Guantanamo Bay:

Senate Bill Passes to Ban Guantanamo Bay Detainees From U.S.:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Yes, Republicans Have a Minority Problem

I live in the Centennial Hills section of Las Vegas, Nevada, but my caucus location was at a somewhat nearby High School in the City of North Las Vegas. 

According to census data, North Las Vegas is 38% Latino and almost 20% Black. Both higher percentages than in Las Vegas proper.  So, in theory, that caucus site, even if divided equally with voters from both Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, should have seen a high number of Latinos/Hispanics and Blacks in attendance.  But, that was not the case.  While, there were a some Latinos; very few Blacks showed up.  It was clearly obvious that the vast majority of caucus goers were white.  And, this is a problem.

While Trump can claim getting a higher percentage of Hispanics than both Cruz and Rubio combined; having a high percentage of a low turnout is not a win for anyone.  Similarly, Trump winning the highest percentage of Blacks with so few attending the caucus is also nothing to write home about.

Seriously, if the Republican nominee can't attract Blacks or Hispanics in the 2016 November Presidential elections, that candidate won't win.  It is simple mathematics when you consider that some states have a high population of Latinos and Blacks.   California is 39% Hispanic.  Nearly 40% of the population of a state having the highest electoral votes in the country that most likely won't turnout for the Republican nominee; especially if its Trump.


North Las Vegas:,_Nevada

California QuickFacts:

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Social Justice in Ferguson, Mo? But, At What Cost?

In the 18 months following the shooting death of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson, Eric Holder's Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted a civil rights review of the Ferguson police force; even though Darren Wilson was exonerated of any charges.  Then, in 2015, the DOJ  found that the Ferguson police force was racist and that a substantial makeover was necessary.

Since then, the City Council determined that the makeover would cost almost $4 million in additional spending in the first year, and millions more in each of the subsequent years.  This, in a city that already had a $2.8 million deficit on a $14.5 million dollar a year spending budget.  Thus, the compliance with the demands of the Justice Department would result in a deficit of nearly 50% or $6.6 million in the first year; and increasing each year until bankruptcy, or unless the citizens of the City were willing to pay at least 50% more in taxes to reverse the deficit and comply with the Justice Department.  Knowing that taxes really couldn't be raised, because 1 in 4 Ferguson citizens were already in poverty and the average household income is 26% less than the  in the country as a whole. Therefore, the 50% increase in taxes would be a heavy burden on the citizens as businesses are forced to raise prices in an already poor community. The City had no other choice but to unanimously vote not to implement the required Justice Department demands.

Since that decision, the Federal government has sued the City of Ferguson in order to force the Council to implement the changes; no matter what the costs many be. And, those costs will be high; both economically and socially.

As a result of the lawsuit, the City's bond rating has been so significantly downgraded that no buyer of municipal bonds would ever risk investing in a Ferguson bond issuance.  Already, existing bonds are selling at a nearly 40% discount; and if the City loses the suit, the cost to borrow money will rise significantly.  Because a 50% increase in taxes is probably out of the question, this only leaves cutting costs to reduce the deficit.

As a result there will be fewer police and absolutely no overtime during low staffed hours.  This, in a city that is already experiencing extremely high crime rates. The number of firemen, too, will have to be reduced. It also means less road repairs or other government services such as garbage pickups.  These reductions, in turn, will result in ever lowering property values until, like Detroit, people are willing to sell their houses for a dollar to avoid paying property taxes. 

These are the costs that the predominately black community will pay to insure that not one iota of racism exists within the Ferguson Police Department.  The death of that City is a high cost to pay.  Of course, instead of suing, the federal government could pay for the demands they are making; leaving Ferguson to struggle with their existing debt problems.  But, this would establish a precedent and the Justice Department would be saddled with all the bills that it created in all the cities it declares racially biased.

File this under "Be careful for what you ask for".


Federal government sues Ferguson, Missouri:

Ferguson Bonds Downgraded:

Ferguson Missouri Quick Facts:

Crime Statistics for Ferguson, Mo:

You Can Buy a $1 Detroit Home. But Should You?:

United States Quick Facts:

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Yes Hillary. Elections Will Have Consequences For Alito's Replacement

Following the death of Supreme Court Justice Scalia, when Hillary Clinton heard that the Republicans may block any Obama nominee with a filibuster, said that "elections have consequences" and President Obama won his election and won the right to nominate a justice and the Senate should vote on that nomination.

Of course that's only one side of the story.  Hillary and then-Senator Barack Obama both filibustered George Bush's Justice Sam Alito nomination in 2006, attempting to deny a  vote.   She even tried to do the same with the John Roberts nomination for Chief Justice. Now that the same may happen to an Obama nominee, she is demanding that just the opposite be the case.

What Hillary can't seem to acknowledge is her own statement. Yes, "elections" do "have consequences".  Obama may have won the right to nominate a Supreme Court Justice when he won his reelection in 2012, but in 2014, the voters gave the Republicans control of the Senate, and the right to approve or deny any nominee. Also, Hillary seems to forget that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, blocked the approval of Bush nominee Priscilla Owen to the Appellate Court for 4 years.  She was in the Senate at that same time and never once condemned Reid for not bringing that nomination to the floor for four years; not the 8 or 9months that might take place in the Senate after Obama nominates someone.

In essence, that's the type of false argument causing many Democrats to think twice about her, and now side with Bernie Sanders.


Hillary Clinton on death of Antonin Scalia: ‘Elections have consequences’:

Hillary has no regrets about trying to filibuster Alito, Roberts:

The Senate yesterday approved the nomination of Priscilla R. Owen as a federal appellate judge, ending a four-year battle over the Texas jurist and marking the first tangible results of a bipartisan Senate agreement on judicial appointees:

White House: Obama 'regrets' decision to filibuster Supreme Court Justice Alito:

Monday, February 22, 2016

Do Supporters of Bernie Sanders Really Understand Democratic Socialism?

Bernie Sanders calls himself a Democratic Socialist and half of Iowa's caucus voters, and 60% of New Hampshire's primary voters, and nearly half of Nevada's caucus goers voted for him.  But, do these people really know what a Democratic Socialist is?

Well, here's what the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) say about that on their website:
Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives. 
Their key goal, at least economically, is the above statement "to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few".  In essence, and regarding this nation's 250,000+ corporations, this, again from their website, explains it:
Democratic socialists do not want to create an all-powerful government bureaucracy. But we do not want big corporate bureaucracies to control our society either. Rather, we believe that social and economic decisions should be made by those whom they most affect.
Today, corporate executives who answer only to themselves and a few wealthy stockholders make basic economic decisions affecting millions of people. Resources are used to make money for capitalists rather than to meet human needs. We believe that the workers and consumers who are affected by economic institutions should own and control them.
Social ownership could take many forms, such as worker-owned cooperatives or publicly owned enterprises managed by workers and consumer representatives. Democratic socialists favor as much decentralization as possible. While the large concentrations of capital in industries such as energy and steel may necessitate some form of state ownership, many consumer-goods industries might be best run as cooperatives.
Thus, Democratic Socialists want to destroy the very things that make this country great: The corporate structure and free enterprise system that have created 65% of the jobs in this country in the last 20 years, with wages that are 50% higher than smaller companies. Instead, they would have them run by committee; made up of workers and consumers.  With companies being less profitable and more "needs" oriented.  Does anyone think you'd have an Apple iPhone under that kind of "needs" oriented agenda? Or, for that matter, would we have many of the things that we all enjoy today made by -- you guessed it -- profitable corporations run by corporate executives whose goals are to create new products for us and become exceptionally competitive by producing those products at a lower cost?

This is why Democratic Socialism doesn't exist anywhere in the world. Even the closest thing to it, Sweden, is on its way to dumping its socialist way of life. That's because Sweden's high taxes, like a 25% VAT tax, are taking its toll. Compared to the United States, the average home is 60% smaller and only half of all Swedes own a car, compared to over 80% of Americans. The average workers after-tax income is just 40%. And, in 2005, the number of workers was only 4.46 million in a population of 9 million.

By the way, the organization "Democratic Socialists of America" had exactly 6,204 members in 2012.  Not exactly proof that Americans are eager to embrace their philosophy.


Democratic Socialists of America:

Wikipedia: Democratic Socialists of America:

Who actually creates jobs: Start-ups, small businesses or big corporations?:

Big firms pay 50 percent higher wages than small businesses, study shows:

The strange death of social-democratic Sweden:

The economy of Sweden:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Why a Liberal-Biased Supreme Court is So Dangerous

When our founders wrote the Constitution, they provided for a Judicial branch of government to insure that the laws of our country and the actions of its citizens were in full compliance with the Constitution.  If those citizens felt that the existing Constitution was either too constrictive or not restrictive enough, they allowed for a process to amend it.

Liberal Democrats however, have always felt that the process of amending the Constitution was too burdensome, and instead, they believe it should be more of a  "living" document; subject to broader Supreme Court interpretations based on the will of society at the time of their decisions. Of course, their definition of the "will of society" is almost always based on the will of Democrats and not necessarily society as a whole.  Most Republicans believe that Supreme Court decisions should be based on the Constitution as written.

This fact was clearly found to be the case in a 2014 Pew Research poll on the subject.  70% of Democrats said that the Constitution is subject to interpretation based on current times.  On the other side of the political aisle, 69% of Republicans felt that the Constitution should be interpreted as written. Among Independents, the issue was near equally split.

Now, with the death of Justice Scalia, President Obama is the recipient of the Democrat's dream of a lifetime by being able to tilt the Supreme Court to a liberal bias; and, in doing so, insure that the court starts making decisions by putting their political fingers in the air in order to sense which way the Democratic party's political winds are blowing.  Thus, instead of the Court being truly blind, it will become an extension of the Democratic Party.  That's a very dangerous thing; not just for Republicans, but for the country.  With the court having a liberal majority, laws passed by Republicans will surely be struck down, and laws written by Democrats will be automatically upheld.  Is that what we truly want from our nation's highest court?

Lastly, before Scalia's death, and at a time when the Supreme Court was dominated by conservative Justices, Gallup asked if people thought the high court was too conservative, too liberal, or just right.  In response, only 20% thought the court was too conservative. 40% thought it was just right; and 37% thought the existing conservative court was too liberal.  My guess is that poll will be substantially different if Obama gets his way.  And, it won't just be 37% liberal bias.


The Living Constitution:

Americans divided on how the Supreme Court should interpret the Constitution:

Polling Report: Judiciary:


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Hillary's Gun Show and Internet Gun Sales Lie

Hillary Clinton endlessly repeats a stale and false statistic that 40% of gun sales at gun shows and over the Internet are transacted without background checks.

So, where does that 40% statistic actually come from?

It originated from a 1994 randomized telephone survey in which only 251 gun owners were  interviewed over a given period.  Once the questioner was able to determine that the called party had a gun or guns or any access to them, a simple Yes or No question was asked as to whether or not it was purchased from a licensed firearm dealer.  If the answer was anything other than a definite "yes", the "no" box was checked off.  Even if the party honestly couldn't remember; or if the gun was purchased by someone else in the household;  or if the firearm may have been received as a gift or an inheritance where it was very possibly purchased from a licensed firearm dealer.  As a result, 64.3% said the guns were purchased from a licensed dealer and checked "yes", and 35.7% were checked "no".  Since then, gun control advocates have rounded that number up to 40% while it was more accurately closer to 35%.

Also understand that the Federal background check system didn't exist in 1994.  It wasn't until late 1998 that that background checks were started as part of the Brady Bill.  Further, the Brady bill made many types of gun transfers without background checks a felony.  For example, it is a felony to transfer a firearm across state lines. It is also a felony to transfer it to a person who:
  1. Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
  2. Is a fugitive from justice.
  3. Is an unlawful user of, or addicted to any controlled substance.
  4. Has been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution.
  5. Is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States.
  6. Has been discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions.
  7. Having been a citizen of the United States, has renounced U.S. citizenship.
  8. Is subject to a court order that restrains the person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner or child of such intimate partner
  9. Has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

With this list in mind, does anyone really believe that a seller at a gun show or on the Internet would risk being charged with a federal felony for selling a gun to someone that they don't know and who may fit any of the restricted categories outlined above?  I don't think so.

Also, Hillary persists in applying that 40% figure to gun show and internet sales when that study conducted in 1994 had nothing to do with either background checks, gun shows, or the Internet.

Now to the truth.

Just recently, the Washington Post gave Hillary 3 Pinocchios for that 40% claim.  In defending themselves, the Post wrote this, among other things:
Unpublished data from the 2004 National Firearms Survey, provided by Lisa Hepburn of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, show that about 30 percent of firearm transactions were gifts or inheritances and 70 percent were purchases (42 percent came from a store, 9 percent from a private sale, 8 percent from a family or friend, 7 percent from a gun show, 2 percent from a pawn shop and 1 percent “other”).
Thus, only 7 percent of the 70% of the respondents to that survey said they purchased a gun at a gun show.  That means that less than 5% of all legal gun owners (4.9%)  got their guns from a gun show when you calculate the percentage on the basis of 100% of the respondents to the survey.   Even if 100% of those 4.9% were all obtained without a background check, it is nowhere near 40%.  Further, the Internet was a non-issue in this survey.  Perhaps, Internet sales are part of the 1% of the 70% that are labelled "other".  Again, even if all of those purchases were without background checks, that fact makes Hillary an even bigger liar.

As I have often written in this blog, Hillary Clinton is completely distorting the facts on many issues in order to get votes from her political base.  Maybe she should study the details of the Brady Bill. that her husband signed into law and which, in most cases, closed the supposed gun show loophole and made it nearly illegal to sell guns on the Internet without a background check. If you buy a gun on the Internet it must be from a licensed dealer who will send the gun that you bought to another licensed firearm dealer, who will then conduct the check. That's the truth. Note this explanation from Internet dealer

Click on Image to Enlarge
Further, a Justice Department survey of thousands of inmates in both federal and state prison found that less than 1 percent said they obtained their guns at a gun show.

Click on Image to Enlarge

I am certain that we will continue to hear the 40% lie. Something that Hillary is well versed in.


Fact Checker:  Clinton’s claim that 40 percent of guns are sold at gun shows and over the Internet:

Brady Bill:

FBI NiCS Background Checks by Month/year:

Buying A Gun Online - The Ordering Process Explained!: Skip Graphic and go to the bottom:

Department of Justice: Firearm Source Table 10:

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

New Tactic To Get The Economy Going: Charging You for Money in the Bank

Since the recession, the Federal Reserve Bank has used every arrow in its quiver to get the economy going again. It held interest rates at near zero; thinking that consumers and businesses would take on more debt and buy more things.  It injected trillions of dollars into the economy by buying back financial assets from commercial banks in hopes that the interest rates on those assets would increase the money supply and stimulate the economy, but at the same time insure that it didn't get too hot with excessive inflation.  Yet, that policy has not really worked.  Instead we have both minimal inflation and record low growth since the end of the recession.

Now the Fed may follow the lead of the European Union, Switzerland, and Sweden and institute a policy of "negative interest rates" in order to kick start the economy.  What that means to you and I, is that instead of receiving interest earned on your savings account, you would actually pay some percentage (usually 1/2 percent) as a penalty for holding on to that money.  The belief is that consumers will see no advantage of keeping money in the bank, and start spending again.  The rationale for this is displayed in the following two charts.

The first shows how, after years of not saving, American's savings rates are now trending higher as more and more people are putting money in the bank:

Click on Image to Enlarge
Thus, from a low of 2.6% in 2005, people are now saving at a rate of 5.5%; more than double the low rate in 2005.

Because of this, the growth in retail sales has been increasingly slowing since 2011.  And, since consumer activity makes up 70% of economic growth as measured by the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), this slowing in retail sales results in a slowing of the economy. In fact, the economy only grew by seven-tenths of one percent in the last quarter of 2015.  With that in mind, look at this chart from Bloomberg showing the increasing slow down in retail sales:
Click on Image to Enlarge
In countries that implemented "negative interest rates", it was surprising to economists that consumers didn't empty their bank accounts and start spending again, because this ignores the real reason why people are saving: Fear!

In Europe, there is a "fear" that the European Union will collapse.  In this country, people don't feel that the economy is strong, and what happened in 2008-2009, will happen again.

For these reasons, I believe the Federal Reserve is completely powerless in trying to stimulate the economy and in thinking that "negative interest rates" are going to do the trick.  People will only become more fearful and more frustrated at seeing more of their wealth being chipped away.  Those who have limited retirement resources that they thought were protected in the bank, will only see their retirement fund dwindle away.

If we want to get America going again, we need to get the federal government out of the way.  For example, forcing people to buy health insurance, when they can't afford to do so, only lowers the money that would have been used to boost retail sales.  Forcing companies to provide health insurance in lieu of good wage increases also reduces the consumer's spending ability.

There is no logic behind reducing people's savings in order to improve the economy.   In addition, countries with negative interest rates also have considered making it illegal to withdraw cash to prevent people from stashing it away in their mattresses.


Negative 0.5% Interest Rate: Why People Are Paying to Save:

Definition of Quantitative Easing:

St. Louis Federal Reserve: Personal Saving Rate:

Retail sales declined to the lowest rate since 2009:

Monday, February 15, 2016

What Scalia's Death Means to 'The Little Sisters of the Poor'

The Supreme Court has yet to hear arguments on the Little Sisters of the Poor's case regarding being forced to provide contraception under ObamaCare.  However, Justice Scalia's death may have just sunk their cause.  Unless at least one liberal Justice votes to side with the sisters, at the very least, there would be a split-decision along party lines.  In that case, their lower court loss before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals would stand.  Thus, it would be the first time in the history of the U.S. that the high court would deny someone their religious rights under our Constitution with no possible redress unless ObamaCare is repealed.

And, don't think that other decisions by the court won't result in liberal wins for the very same reason.  It is unbelievably strange that Scalia -- a devout Catholic -- would have possibly hurt the Little Sisters -- a Catholic charitable organization -- through his own death.


Court rules against Little Sisters of the Poor: Government to force nuns to violate faith or pay massive IRS penalties:

This Is What Happens When the Supreme Court Is Tied:

A devout Italian Catholic and a Ronald Reagan appointee, Scalia was one of the most conservative members of the bench, and he was known not just for his legal mind, but for his Catholic core:

Friday, February 12, 2016

Why Middle Class Incomes Haven't Increased

As of the end of 2014 and with the latest data available from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average middle class family's buying power is about where it was in 1996; barely moving up from its 2012 lows.
Click on graph to enlarge
While all too many Democrats think the solution to the wage stagnation problem for the middle class is to give people pay increases by raising the minimum wage, just the opposite is happening.  Giving entry level workers big raises only drains the funds the employer would use to give everyone else a decent raise.  As of January 1, 2015, 29 states and the District of Columbia have minimum wages that are higher than that of the federal minimum wage; and many went even higher as of January of this year.

Simply, the way to grow middle class incomes is to allow the free market system to do its job. The fact that the middle class isn't seeing their incomes rising is symptomatic of just one thing:  Too few new jobs being chased by too many unemployed and underemployed workers.

In order to truly give all Americans a raise, government has to get out of the way.  The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed by the Democrats and signed into law in 2010 by Barack Obama, has raised the bar for new businesses and existing ones to borrow money for startup and expansion.  The minimum wage increases that seem to be all the rage right now, have too, raised the cost of any new business start ups. Then the employer mandate of ObamaCare has made it more costly to start or expand an existing business when it has or will have at least 50 full time employees.  Also understand that, in a way, the middle class raises are the cost of having to provide health care.  So, in essence, the money that would have flowed into the economy to stimulate it, is going to the health insurance companies.

When I hear Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton talk about raising the national minimum wage to $15, I cringe.  That will only result in the further death of the middle class.  When the two of them talk about going after the wealthy, the banks, and Wall Street, that's a lot of seed-money that will be attacked that otherwise would have been used to start new businesses and grow existing ones.  We can already see what Dodd-Frank has done to the economy.  We have the slowest growing economy since World War II.

The bottom line is that we need a new President who understands how the free market system works.  While that might be someone like Donald Trump, that may be a bitter pill for the country to swallow as far as all other aspects the Presidency are concerned.  I think any of the current Republican candidates would be smart enough to bring a team on board that could restart our economy, and, in the long run, really give America a raise.


Source of the Above Graph:

The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act:

ObamaCare Employer Mandate - ObamaCare Facts:

State Minimum Wages | 2016 Minimum Wage by State:


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hillary Still Has It! Losing and Losing Even Bigger

Hillary barely won in Iowa.  Then, in New Hampshire, she totally flamed out; giving Bernie Sanders a 22 point lead.  Most political analysts consider any win of 10 points or more a landslide. So, let's say it.  Hillary lost by a landslide.

Team Clinton blamed Bernie's big win on the fact that New Hampshire voters were inclined to vote for Sanders because he comes from a neighboring state.  But, let's not forget the New Hampshire's motto: "Live Free or Die".  Maybe that is why Bernie really won.  After all that's what he wants.  Free healthcare. Free college.  Free pre-K. Free  child care. Free, free, and even freer.  Otherwise, we'll all die. Of course, his $18 trillion of new spending won't come free to the people who actually have to pay the bill.   So, I guess Hillary lost because she just wasn't as "free" with America's taxes as Bernie.

The point is that Bernie is selling socialism; Hillary, not so.   Thus, if she wants to beat the "Bern" she better start piling on the free stuff.  Hell, by the time November rolls around, they'll have us all living in full furnished government housing. The new Obama-phone will be a free car. We probably won't have to work because we'll all be on some form of expanded Social Security and only the millionaires and billionaires will be left working to pay all the bills.   And, life will be great.


How Clinton plans to bounce back in New Hampshire:

Hillary Clinton’s team tries to downplay expectations in N.H.:

Price Tag of Bernie Sanders’s Proposals: $18 Trillion:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What's Really Behind Obama's $10/Barrel Oil Tax

Obama is preparing to deliver a speech justifying his proposed $10 a barrel federal oil tax that would be phased in over the next 5 years; arguing that it is needed to fund his climate change agenda for building rail transport systems in heavily trafficked regional areas of the country.  Sounds logical; doesn't it?  Of course, its our deteriorating roads and infrastructure that really needs the money. But, I'll put that aside.

In reality, the tax is intended to kill existing oil fracking and any new oil exploration using fracking. At the same time, it will add 25 cents to the cost of each gallon of gas you and I buy.  Thus, hitting the working poor the hardest and forcing many to consider high mileage hybrids or electrics.

More importantly, because the tax is at the producer level, it substantially increases the cost of exploration and the extraction of oil.  For example, if it was fully implemented and oil was selling for the current, pre-tax price of $30 a barrel, the gross return on investment for producing a single barrel would be cut to just $20 after the tax was applied.  In other words, with an average break-even cost of $25/barrel for fracking operations, many fracking operators would have to shut down to avoid a $5 or higher per-barrel-loss on every barrel of oil they produce.

Obama knows all these facts and they are the real reasons behind his $10/barrel oil tax.


Obama to call for $10-per-barrel oil tax to fund clean transport:

 With Fuel Prices Low, President Obama Floats $10 Per Barrel Tax On Oil:

Oil crashed by 6.3 percent to $30.98 on January 11, as the price of crude oil continues to fall toward the $25 break-even cost of production:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Bernie Sanders' Dishonest "Medicare for All" Ploy

One of the most important big-ticket items on Bernie Sanders' socialist agenda is to ditch all other forms of health care insurance and put every American on Medicare.  Even though this would represent a $2 Trillion increase for health care spending over the current $4 trillion in current federal spending, not to worry.  The rich and Wall Street will pay for it.  Probably tanking our economy and making us as screwed up as Greece; economically.  But, let's put that aside.

A lot of people like Bernie's plan because most people think Medicare works; providing 55 million elder Americans with the kind of health care they need at the time the need it most.

However, for millions of Medicare beneficiaries, the system is broken.  In a 2008 study by the Independent Payment Advisory Commission for Medicare that reports to Congress, 29% of Medicare enrollees were unable to find a primary care doctor that would accept the insurance because, simply, Medicare substantially underpays doctors and hospitals for their services.  In fact, the American Hospital Association (AHA) found that, on average, hospitals received only 86 cents on the dollar for the care they provided in 2012; substantially less than those cities and states that have higher costs of living.  The only reason that a doctor or  hospital accepts Medicare patients is that they can offset that deficit by charging the privately insured at a high rate, and if unable to do so, they stop treating Medicare patients.

The reality is that if private insurance didn't exist, few if any doctors or hospitals would be able to survive on what Medicare pays.  Our whole system of health care would collapse.  That would be the legacy of Bernie's "Medicare for all" plan.

One last thing. When trying to justify his plan, Sanders continually repeats the lie, that as a country, we pay the most for our health care and get little in return.  While it is true that we do pay more, we also have the highest disposable income of almost every other country.  For example, the average American had an annual personal purchasing power of $54,582 in 2012.  When comparing that to the United Kingdom, where they have universal free health care, the number is $30,064.  So, it is only logical that our standard of living would result in higher health care costs.  Also, the costs are lower in other countries because they cap damages for medical malpractice.  Not so here, where malpractice litigation can result in payouts in the multi-millions, forcing doctors and hospitals to practice defensive medicine by increasing the number of referrals to expensive specialists and pushing them to order a greater number of tests to insure that he/she doesn't miss something.

More importantly, contrary to the Democrat's claim that we don't have the best healthcare system in the world, just look a this table from a Forbes article:

This is why so many people who have universal health care in their own countries, elect to fly here (if they can afford it) to get treated for serious diseases.  Again, this shows Bernie's dishonesty by making it sound as if we don't have the best health system in the world. Enough already with the socialist crap!


Bernie 2016: On the Issues: Medicare for All: Leaving No One Behind:

New York Times: Finding a Doctor Who Accepts Medicare Isn't Easy:

AHA: Medicare, Medicaid Underpaid Hospitals by $56B:

U.S. Cancer Care Is Number One:
U.S. Cancer Care Is Number One
U.S. Cancer Care Is Number One
U.S. Cancer Care Is Number One

The Myth of Americans' Poor Life Expectancy:

How Other Countries Judge Malpractice The health-care systems Democrats want to emulate don't allow contingency fees or large jury awards:

Lists of countries by average wage and disposable incomes:


Monday, February 8, 2016

Obama's Alternate Universe on the Economy

Last Friday, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the unemployment rate had fallen to 4.9% -- the lowest since the recession -- and President Obama could hardly contain himself celebrating this feat and taking credit for it.  Then, he went on to claim that, contrary to the GOP predictions of gloom, the economy is "durable".

Putting the 4.9% unemployment rate aside as a mere quantitative number, the issue that bothers most Americans is the "qualitative" status of our economy.  In that area, Obama appears to be living in an alternate universe where his reality is much different than ours.  A reality that seems to forget that he promised that we would see a 5% unemployment rate by July of 2013 if we passed the stimulus package. Not the more than two years later when, in October of 2015, 5% unemployment was finally achieved.

While he was quick to jump in front of the microphones to take credit for the 4.9% unemployment, I have never seen this President come out and lay claim to the following:
  • A record 47 million people in poverty and 45 million needing food stamps to survive.  
  • The fact that real median household incomes are back to where they were in 1989.  
  • That the real unemployment rate is actually 9.9% when you include people, who (1) in frustration, have stopped looking for work; or, (2) are forced to work part time for for a lack of full time work; or, (3) are underemployed and working at jobs they are overqualified for.
In addition, Obama seems to ignore that realityh that the economy had grown by just seven tenths of a percent in the fourth quarter of last year, and overall, under his presidency, has only grown at a rate of 1.78%. Well below the average economic growth in this country since World War II, and before he too office, of 3.24%.

There are many more statistics I could quote, but these are the ones that really impact the average American.  They are the ones Americans feel and that are mostly in direct contradiction to Obama's "good economy" claims.


Obama Celebrates 'Durable Economy' As Unemployment Drops Below 5 Percent:

Record 46.7 Million Americans Live In Poverty; Household Income Back To 1989 Levels:

Food Stamp Beneficiaries Exceed 46,000,000 for 38 Straight Months:

Record-breaking 11M receive Social Security disability benefits:

2013: Where’s that 5% unemployment rate Obama promised by now?:

Real Economic Growth:

United States GDP Growth Rate - Trading Economics:

Which Presidents Have Been Best for the Economy?:

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hillary's Only Accomplishment: She's a Woman!

On the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton is good at pointing out problems in America, and then, claiming she's the only one to fix them.  However, we won't be told the "how" until later; after she becomes President. 

This is Hillary's biggest problem.  She does not have a laundry list of accomplishments.  She, herself, can't even name one; as this quote from a 2014 article reveals:
During her 2014 book tour, when ABC’s Diane Sawyer asked her about her “marquee achievement,” Clinton changed the subject and she fumbled over a similar question during a women’s forum in Manhattan last year."
Talking about a problem such as women's pay might give some women a reason to vote for her, but "where's the beef"; as was noted in that famous Wendy's commercial.  Much of what she was charged to accomplish in the past has failed, like her 1994 attempt as First Lady, to get some bipartisan agreement on healthcare reform.  Or, her disastrous "reset" of relations with Russia.  Then, it was her gross mismanagement of U.S. funding during recovery activities in Haiti following the 7.0 earthquake. Of course, during Hillary's tenure as Secretary of State, the Middle East has suffered a near complete meltdown, instead of the supposed joyous "Arab Spring".   Lastly, her biggest failure may be yet to come with the "failure" to safeguard this nation's top secrets by having and using an unsecured, private email server for all her communications while serving as Secretary of State.

Simply, Hillary wants to be this country's first woman President without any real credentials that go along with the job. I'm all for a woman President, butHillary is not that person. People really need to take her record into consideration before casting a vote for her.


What Is Hillary’s Greatest Accomplishment?:

Where's the beef commercial:

Islamism, the Arab Spring, and the Failure of America’s Do-Nothing Policy in the Middle East:

International diss: Russia’s Sergey Lavrov says failed ‘reset’ was ‘invention of Hillary Clinton’:

How Clinton W.H. bungled health care - Politico:

Bill, Hillary and the Haiti Debacle:

Clintons Pushed Most Wasteful of US-Funded Haiti Projects: 

Hillary Clinton's Foreign Policy Failures:

[Democrat Senator] Jim Webb Attacks Hillary for Her Foreign-Policy Failures:

Can Anyone Doubt That Hillary Clinton Failed to Safeguard State Secrets?: 


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What Sanders' Near-Win Says About the Democratic Party

For most Democrats, Iowa is part of fly-over country.  Too white.  Too religious. Too gun toting.  And, most importantly, too patriotic.

But, the Democratic caucus has proved that Iowa has become anything but those stereotypes.  In fact, Bernie Sanders' near-win proves that the face of Iowa's Democratic party has moved far left from its traditional center-left beliefs.  Those Midwest values seem to have been torn asunder in favor of socialist values that have destroyed so many economies and countries; both now and in the past. In fact, socialists falsely believe that they can elevate the poor by destroying the rich.  Yet, the opposite is true.  In Venezuela the poor can't even afford toilet paper or milk; and this year, they will have to contend with 700% inflation.  Then there's Greece, where the failure of that socialist state has again hurt the poor the most.

It is disturbing to me that so many Iowan's find this country -- a capitalist country -- so distasteful.  Where is the pioneer spirit that built Iowa?   Has rugged individualism been thrown over for [nanny] statism?  Sadly, that's what voting for Bernie Sanders reveals.


The Bernie Sanders Philosophy: An Equal Share Of Misery:

Democratic socialism might be inevitable in America, even if Bernie Sanders loses:

Venezuela's 'socialist paradise' turns into a nightmare:

Rich In Oil, Venezuela Is Now Poor In Most Everything Else: 

Why are we ignoring this colossal socialist failure? - CNBC:

Greece Financial Crisis Hits Poorest and Hungriest the Hardest: 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Why the Syrian Refugee Influx Might Help Germany

About 1 million Syrian refugees have entered Germany seeking asylum.  It is estimated that this will cost the country up to $60 billion annually.  However, there may be an actual benefit to that influx.

Like most advanced nations, Germany is seeing a lowered birthrate with an ever-growing aging population. In fact, in early 2015, they became the country with the lowest birthrate in the world.  This presents a perplexing problem: How to sustain age-related social programs with fewer and fewer tax revenues from an increasingly smaller number of younger and non-retired workers?

This is where the Syrian refugees come in.  If they can be successfully integrated into the German workforce, the effects of a lowered birthrate can be offset.  In the long term,  this could change refugees from a financial burden, to the saviors of the age-related social programs that Germany is sure to face in the future.


Merkel Defends Open-door Policy on Refugees:

Germany becomes land with the lowest birthrate in the world:

Monday, February 1, 2016

Obama's Failed Screening of Refugees for Terrorism

For weeks now, the Republicans have tried to block thousands of Syrian refugees from coming to this country for fear that some may be terrorists.  Obama once mocked the Republicans claiming that they were "scared of widows and orphans"; implying that the majority of people coming to this country were just that.  Then, to allay the country's fears that terrorists were entering, the White House put a website up explaining how refugees were being vetted.  In the forward to a flow chart, they said this:
"Refugees undergo more rigorous screening than anyone else we allow into the United States."
Well, it didn't take but a few weeks for those claims to be proven wrong.  Within 24 hours of each other, 2 Iraqi refugees were arrested as terrorists.

Apparently, the rigorous screening program doesn't work.


Obama Mocks Republicans: ‘Now They’re Worried About 3-Year-Old [Refugee] Orphans’:

Infographic: The Screening Process for Refugee Entry into the United States:

Refugee Program Decried After Iraqis' Terror-Related Arrests: