Now that the election is settled it’s time to get down to the brass tacks of actually running the country. Much will be said in the coming days and weeks about tax rates and revenue increases. Little will be said about spending reductions other than those mandated by the fiscal cliff faced by this nation on January 1st.
President Obama campaigned on the premise that all that stands between this nation and economic recovery is the low tax rates paid by the rich. Bear in mind that his idea of “rich” currently stands somewhere around $250K in annual income. The President feels the Federal Government is entitled to 35% of every dollar made above that level.
The entire reason why we are having this debate is because some congressional boneheads decided to include a “sunset” provision in the Bush tax cuts which allowed them to expire (read “automatic tax increase”) 10 years after they were implemented. This made it easy for the government to increase taxes simply by doing nothing rather than actually have a vote for all to see.
Be that as it may, I humbly suggest calling the President’s bluff and use the same logic. Here is a modest proposal for the upcoming budget negotiations – Speaker Boehner and the President need not even credit me for the idea. Consider it my patriotic donation for the week.
First off we need to define exactly what “economic recovery” looks like. I submit the current status quo is not acceptable so I have consulted some historic data and made a rough approximation of what prosperity looks like. I believe the same can be said of Obama’s entire first term. So, here’s some major indicators used to assess the overall health of the nation’s economy in prosperous times:
- Gross Domestic Product – increasing at a 4% annual rate
- Unemployment – below 6%
- Gas Price – below $2/gallon.
So, here’s the deal. I propose we give the President exactly what he wants. Let him take the tax rates to the level he campaigned on. By his own assertion and promise, soaking the rich by making them pay “a little bit more” should result in an immediate economic turnaround. We should be able to see the results right away. But since it takes some time to get results, I’m willing to give the President three calendar years (2013-2015) for this to happen. I figure he’s already had four years and has little to nothing to show for it so three more won’t kill the country.
Here’s the deal though. Obama doesn’t get a free ride. If he wins the day and America returns to something resembling the prosperity I just described, I’ll be the first in line to shake his hand and congratulate him for a job very well done. There is, however, a consequence to losing. This is what should be hard coded into the tax-increase legislation:
If, on January 1, 2015 the above listed targets are not met and verified by an independent auditor, the following economic policies are implemented without the need for congressional or executive action:
- The Bush tax cuts are immediately re-implemented and made permanent by statute.
- Federal Government spending is immediately returned to the levels seen in the budget for Fiscal 2008.
Obama claims to have the solution, but I’m tired of having him pile drive the country into the ground without any recourse. He believes he’s got the best ideas. Fine. Go right ahead, Mr. President. But this time there should be consequences if your policies do nothing or make the problem worse. If you truly believe your policies hold the key to prosperity, prove it. Have some skin in the game this time. Good luck.
Here endeth the lesson.
Coming in November. I could write about it, but it’s just better if you see it.
Here endeth the lesson.
Today is Monday, September 10th. For the most part it has been like most Mondays before and will most likely be similar to most Mondays to follow. I’ll do what most people in the DC metro area do and will attempt to watch Monday Night Football until halftime. That’s all us east coasters can handle – Tuesday mornings come very early.
On Tuesday I will arise well before the sun and make my way toward Washington, DC along with countless other beltway-types to do the business of the country. Millions of other Americans will do likewise. That’s simply what Americans do on Tuesdays.
This Tuesday the skies will be clear and the temperatures will be mild here on the Eastern Seaboard. Thousands of Americans will take to the skies for varied destinations both foreign and domestic. Again, this is simply what Americans do on Tuesdays.
As a matter of course, nothing will be different about this Tuesday than would any other Tuesday unless you happen to glance down at your day planner and realize the page has turned to Tuesday, September 11th.
Yes, Dear Reader, it was a standard Tuesday morning in September of 2001 when Americans woke up and did what they do on any other Tuesday. They went to work. They boarded planes. They went about their daily routine just as they would on any other weekday. Only on that particular beautiful Tuesday morning, 19 Islamo-fascist Murdering Thugs boarded four jetliners and brought America to her knees and took 2,996 innocent people with them – all in the space of 102 minutes.
I have written several posts over the past decade memorializing the events of that particular Tuesday morning and the aftermath thereof. That day changed my life as I’m sure it did with millions of others around the world. I fear that, with the passage of time, memories of that Tuesday will fade into all the others.
This year I leave with you but two musical reminders of those innocents who were taken from us for doing nothing more than that which they did on any other day. May we always remember them and those who answered the call to defend our right to live our lives as we choose.
Here endeth the lesson.
Over the course of my four decades, I’ve had the dubious pleasure of digging trenches for sprinkler systems at two of the properties my parents purchased for their homestead. Each of these complicated earth moving operations required the rental of a trenching machine to dig the nice even furrows in which would be laid the PVC pipe that would then feed water to the sprinkler heads.
Trenchers are extremely complicated wheeled machines with a long burrowing device on one end. They are made from the hulls of retired aircraft carriers and weigh approximately 16,400 tons. If I exaggerate it is only slightly. The trencher operator stands behind the trencher and drags it along the ground inch by inch. I’m not sure why these machines have wheels because they never seem to roll. Now that you’re somewhat familiar with the machine, I’ll relate to you the Parable of the Trencher.
One sunny summer afternoon, I arrived at Cordeiro Manor (West) along with my four brothers to find a trencher sitting in the driveway and a smiling Mother Cordeiro standing beside it. “As long as you’re all here,” she stated, “you can help us by digging some trenches for the sprinkler system.”
We all groaned, having been through this same ordeal some 15 years earlier at a previous Cordeiro Manor. There, in the pouring rain and under darkening skies punctuated by lightning, I dragged that infernal trencher through the mud as sparks flew from the trenching device. No, there were no rocks, the ground was just that hard. Mother Cordeiro insisted this time would be easier, as she had paid the extra $50 for a trencher that came a power train connected to the wheels. This time, she claimed, it would be a piece of cake.
Did I mention Cordeiro Manor has some rather steep hills? But I digress.
My brothers and I are not small men. While we are not power lifters and none of us will ever be seen pulling airplanes around on a rope, we are not weaklings. Thus we heeded the request (order) of our Mother and went about the task of wrangling the trencher along the carefully marked path Mother had laid down across what would eventually become a grassy yard and small orchard.
It would not be an exaggeration to tell you that we did, in fact, struggle mightily with this infernal contraption for well over an hour. The five of us pushed, pulled, shoved, and otherwise manhandled the trencher up one hill and down another, all the while punctuating the air with colorful metaphors describing the machine. And, in true brotherly fashion we did call into question one another’s strength and manhood.
All this time, the alleged power train caused the rubber tires on the trencher to spin merrily while no traction was actually gained. Much sweat was expended, much water was guzzled, and much frustration was endured.
Sometime in the second hour of trencher wrangling, one brother (nobody is really sure which one) came across a mud encrusted lever on the side of the trencher. He pulled it and much to the surprise of the sweat stained and dust caked crew, a loud thump issued forth from the trencher and it literally took off down the hill at a clip so fast we had to jog to keep up with it.
Yes, dear reader, this crew of manly men had been pushing, shoving, and otherwise manhandling this infernal overweight contraption up the hill with the brake on. For the record, there was no instruction booklet.
As with any parable, this one has applicability to life’s journey. Everyone walks through life with their own load to carry. Toward the end of the play Anne of the Thousand Days, Henry VIII comes out on stage and delivers a soliloquy I have always remembered. “There is a load every man carries,” he says sullenly. He explains that this load is made up of all the sins, transgressions, lies, and misdeeds in a man’s life. Some days a man feels the weight of his load. Some days he doesn’t.
The question is, how much of that load we carry is akin to shoving the trencher up the hill with the brake applied? How much of life’s journey is made unnecessarily hard by carrying burdens which should have long ago been cast off and forgotten. This Sunday brings with it the Easter season and a reminder that, in the words of the songwriter Michael McLean, “He will bear our every burden…so we can be gentle with ourselves.”
Here endeth the lesson.
For the record, let me plainly state that I believe Tom Hanks to be one of, if not the finest actor of his and many other generations. He has been honored by a myriad of institutions for his work as an actor (two Academy Awards) as well as a producer – most recently of the exceptional docudrama chronicling the life of America’s second President, John Adams.
For the record, I think Saving Private Ryan was robbed of its true status as Best Picture. But I digress.
So, when I heard that Mr. Hanks had called me, and all the other member of the religion I follow “un-American” for having supported California’s Proposition 8, I was taken aback.
Today, I am heartened by Mr. Hanks’ apology. It takes a big man to admit having crossed a line in acceptable public discourse. Its good to know there are still some people who can do that.
Tom Hanks and I don’t see eye to eye on the issue of same sex “marriage”. Somehow we can both be civil about this difference of opinion. I just wish the rest of the anti-Prop 8 crowd would get that memo.
Here endeth the lesson.
Today’s media world is one defined by six-second sound bytes. Political orators great, and not so great, give speeches by the dozen on any number of subjects to cheering crowds of the assembled masses. What they say is boiled down to what fits in the news segment between the train wreck and the office shootout as reported by the 24-hour cable channel.
The world notes little and remembers less of what is said by national leaders.
On this day, 145 years ago, two speeches were given at the dedicatory ceremony of Gettysburg National Cemetery. One was given by a man widely renowned as the greatest orator of the time. He was none other than Edward Everett, a former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, Governor of Massachusetts, president of Harvard University, and Vice Presidential candidate. Almost as an afterthought, the President of the United States was also invited to give “dedicatory remarks.”
On the dedicatory day, November 19, Everett’s speech contained 13,607 words and lasted over two hours. After Everett’s oration, and a hymn, Abraham Lincoln rose and gave the following speech:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Some times less really is more. This speech was given long before the era of paid speechwriters and TelePrompTers. Lincoln wrote it believing (most likely) that it would be forgotten among all the other speeches he gave. Its doubtful he had much time to give serious thought to his “dedicatory remarks”. His nation was at war with herself. The Gettysburg Address was Lincoln at his oratory best – because what he said was what he truly believed. No coaching. No polling. No focus groups.
It is one speech that I wish was available on video. The closest I can get you is Walt Disney’s “Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln”. Enjoy. (The actual address comes at about 37 seconds into the video.
Here endeth the lesson.