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What’s a Widget Worth? April 29, 2011

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What’s a widget worth?  Who determines the price of widgets?  Is there an answer to the escalating cost of widgets?

How much is a widget worth if there is only one widget?  What about if there are on hundred widgets?  Or one million?  What if there are trillions upon trillions and they are being produced at the rate of 514 million per day?  The obvious answers to these questions aren’t lost on a normal four year old.  Observe such a child in the sand box.  If there’s only one shovel they’ll kick and scream to keep it.  If there are 1,928 billion of them the child probably wouldn’t notice if someone else used a few billion here or a few billion there.  Unfortunately the wisdom that’s normal for any four year old doesn’t seem to exist in Washington.

President Obama publicly laments the rise in fuel prices.  Of course when the teleprompter isn’t guiding his every word and he doesn’t realize his every public word is public he says that high gas prices really aren’t a problem they’ve just happened too quickly.

Could this precipitous rise in energy prices be tied to the precipitous fall in the value of the dollar?   The devaluing of the dollar appears to be a policy that shows no sign of slowing.  Even pro-administration sources such as MSNBC say the dollar is approaching record lows as compared to other currencies.  There is a real possibility of a credit downgrade due to the inability of Washington to address the ever-growing debt.  A leading Hedge fund manager says panic has set in and people are beginning to dump their holdings in dollars.

Could this escalating rise in energy costs be government policy?  Mr. Obama’s Energy Secretary Steven Chu believes that Americans should pay for gas at the same rate as Europeans which at the time of his statement was seven to nine dollars a gallon.   Consequently to the central planning enthusiasts who’re working to transform America it isn’t the current high prices that are the problem it was our previously lower prices which were an impediment to the accomplishment of their goal.   What we must realize is that their goals are not our goals.  Looking at our current leaders it appears as if they see their mission as managing the decline of the United States and everything they’ve done since gaining power has furthered the reality of their vision.

Why is the price spiking ever higher?  This isn’t a supply problem.  In the face of a spiraling price rise the Saudis who usually boost production to stabilize markets have instead cut production because there is currently a worldwide surplus.   The main reason for the current spike is that the dollar is worth less every day.  And as the debt ceiling approaches the vultures are circling.  Articles and commentaries constantly equate a refusal to raise the debt limit with a default.  But the two are not synonymous.

While Federal officials cry the sky is falling Senator Pat Toomey (R PA) proposes to protect the “full faith and credit” of the United States by legislatively making interest payments the Federal government’s top priority.  In an opinion piece Senator Toomey shows that the necessity of a default is shown to be instead a choice by the reality that “if Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling, the federal government will still have far more than enough money to fully service our debt. Next year, for instance, about 6.5% of all projected federal government expenditures will go to interest on our debt, and tax revenue is projected to cover about 67% of all government expenditures. With roughly 10 times more income than needed to honor our debt obligations, why would we ever default?”

Yet administration spokesman such as Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner continue to use scare tactics predicting that if the debt ceiling isn’t raised the government will default and our credit will be ruined. In addition, the largest banks using the default straw man are pressuring the perpetually elected to raise the debt ceiling lest they miss a moment at the Federal trough.

All these theatrics about raising the debt limit is reminiscent of the weekly re-runs of the Continuing Resolution Show that we endured earlier this year.  The spendthrifts in Washington cannot conceive of their ability to mortgage our great grandchildren’s future to pay for whatever it takes to buy enough votes to stay in power forever.  Whenever anything appears on the horizon that threatens to rain on their perpetual parade to penury they begin chanting their mantra spend, spend, spend, elect, elect, elect.

What can we do about this problem which is causing prices to rise?  How can we possibly avert the looming insolvency?  How can we end this mad rush to fiscal collapse?

Stop the presses!  Stop the deficit spending, balance the budget, and pay off the debt.  Don’t raise the debt limit and force the Federal government to live within its means.  It makes no sense for us to tighten our belts so that our leaders can continue their spending binge.

What’s a Widget worth?  Ultimately everything is worth what you can get someone to pay for it.  If you’re paying in U. S. dollars the price just went up.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens dr.owens@comcast.net  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.

Truth Justice and the American Way April 22, 2011

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Who in their wildest dreams ever thought we would see a headline that says, “China Urges U.S. to Protect Creditors”?  For those of us who grew up in an America that was the undisputed leader of the free world locked in the Herculean task of containing the godless hordes of the Communist East, an America that was the largest manufacturer, largest creditor, and the economic engine that drove the world’s economy until recently it was unimaginable.  We watched as America fought wars around the edges of the creeping red menace.  We worked to elect the leaders and pay the taxes that built a 600 ship navy, the best equipped armies in history, and the Space Based Initiative all of which eventually convinced even the Soviets that their centrally-planned monstrosity couldn’t compete as it collapsed of its own weight.

Yes, except for the pages of MAD magazine, Cracked, or Rolling Stone until recently such a headline would have been unimaginable.  Today, after 23 years of Progressive leadership it has become the truth. Communist China is warning us to make provisions to pay our creditors in the face of a declining credit rating and an ever growing debt.  Have they ever heard of the GM bond holders?

If you’ve ever been to a TEA Party rally or if you grew up in America before it became politically incorrect to love our country you will remember these words, “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  This is our hallowed Pledge of Allegiance.  It ends by announcing to the world our dedication to Justice.

In a world still run by kings, empires, and tyrannical despots as America rose to become a capitalist colossus of opportunity, we proclaimed that instead of the whims of the privileged riding rough shod over the rights of man we as a nation believed in an objective justice that wasn’t swayed by birth or purchased by fraud.  For more than two hundred years this honorable standard was our goal.  It wasn’t always perfectly applied, and it was sometimes cruelly circumvented by prejudice and avarice, but at least it was our goal.  The statue of Lady Justice wears a blindfold so that she is not influenced by what can be seen and she holds the scales which weigh the truth.

Martin Luther King called us to be more than we had been and all that we can be when he said, our children “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  That this call was not for something new but instead a fulfillment of our original design is shown in Dr. King’s plea that America, “live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”  This was ever the goal: blind justice. This was ever the light which shone from the beacon in the hand of Lady Liberty: freedom to rise above our birth, liberty to rise to the level of our efforts, and justice for all.

Today the Progressives have shackled us to a creed of political correctness which for the first time in our history makes Americans fearful of the penalties for what they say, write, and think.  The Progressive ideology of from each according to their abilities to each according to their need, their dedication to the end of American Exceptionalism through globalization, and their worship of the myth of man-made global warming has created a toxic atmosphere where justice has no blindfold and her scales are tipped by the corruption of political power, crony capitalism, and interest groups on steroids.

In the face of these assaults on who we are and what we can do the American people refuse to give up!  In the face of the best government money can buy taxing us to penury and spending us to poverty the American people continue to produce, to work, and to hope.  In a world where our Progressive leaders have raised stealing from Peter to pay Paul into a national policy the American people have refused to go quietly into that dark night.  On the day taxes were due thousands upon thousands of dedicated Americans gathered in city parks, town squares, and fields to proclaim America is still the home of the brave and the land of the free.

This is the American way.  We have faced adversity many times.  We have stood up to be counted when kings and emperors sought to squash the freedom of man under the weight of their divine right pride.  We have shouldered the burden when dictators sought to clamp their totalitarian yoke upon the neck of the world and we will stand before these self-inflated ideologues who seek to smother freedom under a centrally-planned economy and a regimented society.  Other countries have shown that when you rob Peter to pay Paul eventually Peter changes his name to Paul and that in the face of a stacked deck they will pretend to work as the government pretends to pay.  In America today millions are rising up and saying, we will not have a nation drowning in debt and limited in power!  We will not leave a broken dream to our children!  We will work tirelessly to preserve truth, justice, and the American way.  Keep the faith.  Keep the peace.  We shall overcome.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens dr.owens@comcast.net  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.

Uncle Sam Plays You Pay April 15, 2011

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America is careening towards a financial Armageddon.  The president proposed a budget for 2012 that projected a deficit of 1.6 Trillion dollars.  That is trillion with a “T.”  Gone are the innocent days when one of the perpetually re-elected could quip, “A billion here and a billion there and soon we’re talking about real money.”  Now billions disappear into the federal sinkhole at the rate of 4.08 billion per day.  What does a trillion look like? If you went into business the day Jesus was born, and you lost a million dollars a day, 365 days a year, it would take you until October 2737 to lose a trillion dollars.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) the budget deficit just for February 2011 hit $223 billion, which means more debt was added in just that one month than was added in all of 2007.  The personal share of the federal debt borne by every tax-paying citizen is now increasing at the rate of $50 per day seven days a week, 364 days a year.  That is an increase of $1,500 per month and $18,250 per year per tax payer.

That sounds serious.  However, it doesn’t appear as if our elected officials take it seriously at all.  The Republicans propelled into the majority by the grassroots activism, high energy and victories of the Tea Party Movement promised to cut 100 billion from the 2011 budget.  President Obama submitted that budget which spends 3.7 trillion with a deficit of 1.6 trillion dollars in 2010.  It was never passed even though the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress and the White House.  This left the door open for the Republicans to use the continuing resolutions necessary to keep the government operating as vehicles to wring spending cuts from the Democrats.  After theatrical bi-weekly dramas these cuts were in the range of ten to twelve billion dollars.

Then finally, with the Democrats imposing an artificial deadline for the passage of a budget that was almost half expended and which they had failed to pass when they had undisputed control, the two parties of power struck what they hailed as a “Historic” compromise.  They first told us they slashed thirty eight billion from the budget.  The actual number, according to the Congressional Budget Office has since dwindled down and down until today it is estimated to be less than a billion.  The Federal Government will still increase the national debt by several trillion dollars this year and our leaders expect us to celebrate their conversion to fiscal sanity.  Isn’t the definition of insanity to continue doing the same thing and expect different results?  Just because they’re crazy doesn’t mean we have to cheerfully put on an economic straight-jacket and walk voluntarily into a padded cell at the poor house.

Representative Paul Ryan (R. WI) introduced a budget which he says takes on the sacred cows and gores the sacred bulls by cutting six trillion from the projected budgets of the next ten years.  The Democrats immediately assaulted this plan as cruel, heartless, and inadequate.  The President announces his latest plan which he assures us he meant to introduce all along once someone else had opened the debate.  In His plan Mr. Obama plans to cut the projected deficit by stopping waste and abuse in government programs and by taxing the rich.

There are two problems with this approach: if we had all the money politicians have promised to save by stopping waste and abuse we would have a surplus, and the rich don’t have enough money.  It has been estimated that if you confiscated every dime every person who makes over one million dollars per year makes it would only generate enough money to run our debt addicted government for less than one year.  What would we do for the next year?  And the fact of the matter is that the tax increases the President wants are not confined to the rich. They would target everyone with a combined gross income above 250,000.  That group includes most small business people.  This approach will take money out of the pockets of the greatest creators of jobs: small business people.  And it still won’t generate enough money to stop the red ink.

Now the battle looms to raise the debt limit.  This is an inside-the-belt-way shell game wherein the parties of power each beat their chests and growl at each other about who is the most responsible before they both vote to increase the limit on their collective credit card.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just raise the limit on our credit cards indefinitely?  And now with the Federal Reserve buying our own debt to finance the repayment maybe we could increase the limits on all our cards so that we can pay our Visa with our MasterCard and our MasterCard with our Discover and our Discover with our Visa.  How could that ever go wrong?

The storyline we are supposed to believe now is that in exchange for raising the debt limit there must be meaningful movement towards a balanced budget amendment.  That sounds so encouraging.  If we just had a balanced budget amendment the problem will be solved.  As always there are several spare balanced budget amendments lying around in Congress waiting for enough votes or at least an opportunity to get to the floor for a debate before they are stuffed back in a committee until the next time the shopaholics on the Potomac need to convince the great unwashed in fly-over country that this time they are serious about curbing their over-spending.

Even if they were passed what good would they do?  The President and the Democrats have already shown that they think the way to solve the deficit problem is to raise taxes.  The Republicans have a plan that appears very dramatic but at the end of a decade still has not ended the deficit spending, which means the debt is still growing.

The International Monetary Fund has looked at these plans and says it appears America is not serious about dealing with its addiction to debt.  If we don’t do something soon our creditors are going to stage an intervention, and they will dictate how we must restructure our lives and our nation if we want any more credit. And we are addicted to credit.

A balanced budget amendment merely requires a balanced budget, and budgets can be balanced by increasing taxes instead of decreasing spending.  What we need instead is a spending amendment which would limit federal expenditures to a reasonable percentage of the nation’s income.  If we can’t stop the spending we will eventually destroy our credit, collapse our economy, and curtail our liberty. In other words, no matter what we the people want Uncle Sam will continue to spend, spend, spend as long as we pay, pay, pay.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College.  He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens dr.owens@comcast.net  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.

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Immovable Object Meet the Irresistible Force April 8, 2011

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Many times in our history we’ve been confronted with what seemed like impossible odds.

In 1776 thirteen sparsely populated colonies clinging for life to the Atlantic seaboard surrounded by a forest that ran unbroken to the Mississippi dared to stand up to our imperial masters and say, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

No foreign king, no Prime Minister and no Parliament had the right to dictate to our ancestors what taxes to pay or how much they should be.  Even though England at the time was the dominant superpower, the undersupplied and overmatched Americans refused to admit defeat.  We lost New York.  We lost battle after battle retreating more than we advanced, yet the prize of freedom overcame the penalty of failure, and against all odds victory was won.

When the pirates of Tripoli sought to extort tribute from us as they did from every other nation that passed through their waters our people rose up with a cry of, “Millions for defense but not a cent for tribute!”  Gathering our miniscule navy and our brave marines the United States fought our way into the port of the pirates while a land force fought its way through the desert eventually claiming what the great powers of the day did not: the right to pass unmolested and the right to trade in freedom.

A generation later in our second war with England, the War of 1812, we once again went toe-to-toe with the third largest army in the world and the largest navy the world had ever seen.  The British defeated our attempt to invade Canada as they invaded our territory almost at will.  Their armed forces ranged up and down our coast at will.  They chased President Madison out of Washington and burned the White House.  The only major battle we won was fought after the peace treaty was signed, yet we emerged bloody but vindicated.  We had challenged the greatest empire in the world.  We held our own winning new respect around the world.

Next, when the nations of Central and South America found the courage to rise up against their own colonial masters declaring their freedom with the hope of establishing free and independent republics modeled after the United States, President Monroe threw down the gauntlet to the rest of the world when he boldly presented his Doctrine.  Though our navy was miniscule and our army almost none existent he relied upon the inherent strength of our people when he proclaimed the western hemisphere off limits to any power seeking to establish or re-establish colonies.  We did not have the authority, we did not have the power, but we had the courage to say leave freedom alone so our neighbors could develop their own lands for themselves.

In the Civil War America tore itself apart.  For four long years war raged killing more Americans than all our other wars put together.  The powers of Europe believed the experiment in freedom was proving itself to be a failure.  France moved to establish a sphere of influence in Mexico as the other great powers waited expectantly to pick up the pieces.  As the war picked up momentum the emerging industrial might and burgeoning manpower of the new nation was pressed into service until by 1864 the Union Army was the largest and best equipped on earth and the Confederate Army was the second.  Setting a pattern for all future wars the newest technology and the latest inventions such as railroads, iron-clad steam powered ships, telegraphs, repeating rifles, and machine guns first made their appearance in the American military.  Against all odds we re-united our nation, sent France packing, and reaffirmed the Monroe Doctrine.

In World War One the two contending sides in Europe had bled each other dry on the fields of Flanders and fought to a stalemate.  Then America sent our troops over there and didn’t bring them back until it was over, over there.  In World War Two fascist dictators thought the Western democracies were decadent and ready to collapse with a good kick.  And their plan seemed to be working until one of them made the mistake of kicking on our door, and we rose up like a giant from slumber and led the way in bringing their roofs down upon their heads.

As the Communist Colossus rose from the ashes of World War II to include Eastern Europe, and China America built NATO, held them at bay in Europe, and then stood almost alone to battle them as they tried to expand in Korea, Asia, and Central America.  American blood and treasure was expended in torrents for five decades until the Soviet Union collapsed as a Christmas present to the world in 1991.  Against the uncounted hordes of the East and the fellow travelers in our midst we persevered and gained the victory.

Time and again when the odds were against us we, the American people have risen to the challenge.  Whenever we have confronted a problem we have found some way to succeed.  When President Kennedy challenged us to go to the moon we did.  When President Ragan challenged us to believe in ourselves again after the shame of Watergate, the forfeiture of our victory in Vietnam, and the Iran Hostage crisis we did.

Today we face financial collapse and overwhelming debt.  Today our adversaries aren’t foreign dictators but our own elected officials who want to continue spending no matter what the voters say.  Today the challenge is a system that doesn’t work, a Congress that is bought and paid for, and a Progressive Movement that has managed to organize itself into power at every level in every branch.

No matter what the problems, we’re the American people. We’re exceptional, and we can do it!  It’s time for every good citizen to come to the aid of our nation.  We must stand for the solution or we’ll fall before the problem.  As a President who knew the way to grow an economy was to cut taxes once said, “We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and success of liberty.”  We’ve got to pick up the burden before Atlas shrugs.  If we’ll admit we have a problem we will find a solution.  After all, we’re the American people.  Immovable Object Meet the Irresistible Force.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College. He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens dr.owens@comcast.net Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.


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