Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lessons From A Declining California

I love the state of California. Its my home state. It is a state that has everything. Picture perfect beaches, amazing mountains and world famous deserts. It has a strong diversity of people and a wide range of activities for tourists and citizens to enjoy. 
So, why are so many people leaving the state? 
The Daily Beast provides us with some clues: 
Californians needs to ask if the state has started a cycle of decline, in which a loss of jobs to other states leads to a loss of tax-paying residents, and in turn to a deterioration of the public services that make the state even less desirable for businesses. This “toxic state syndrome,” as it might be called, could be very difficult to shake. The businesses that bring jobs (or take jobs with them when they leave) look for certain things: a skilled work force, relatively low costs, sound infrastructure and public services, and—maybe most important of all—some assurance that these conditions will stay the same.
A state in chronic fiscal distress can’t offer such predictability, and California is a very distressed state. For most of the past decade, its credit rating has been at or near last place in the nation; currently it is rated the lowest by Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s ranks only Illinois lower. Texas, on the other hand, is just one notch from the top on the S&P scale.
However, California could turn things around. But with Jerry Brown at the helm with a Democrat majority legislature, recovery will not happen if Jerry Brown's tax increases takes place:
Californians could make things worse this November when voters decide on a measure, backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, to raise its income tax rates (already near the highest in the nation) to prevent deep cuts in school spending. That might produce a temporary burst of revenue but leave the state even more dependent on a volatile revenue source. Then again, if the tax hike doesn’t pass, schools will take a hit that could leave California that much less attractive to employers and employees.
What may be most damaging about California’s tax debate is its tone of desperation. The state is like a man at the end of his rope who has taken hostages—in this case, the schools. Meanwhile, Texas and other states are poaching California jobs with tax incentives at a scale that California state and local governments can’t afford, most recently with the $36 million package of tax breaks and investment funds that convinced Apple Inc. to expand in Austin and add some 3,600 jobs.
Raising taxes is a good way to make a state's terrible financial situation even worse.  Frank Rich in an article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal explains why:
Nearly half of California's income taxes before the recession came from the top 1% of earners: households that took in more than $490,000 a year. High earners, it turns out, have especially volatile incomes—their earnings fell by more than twice as much as the rest of the population's during the recession. When they crashed, they took California's finances down with them.
Mr. Williams, a former economic forecaster for the state, spent more than a decade warning state leaders about California's over-dependence on the rich. "We created a revenue cliff," he said. "We built a large part of our government on the state's most unstable income group."
Frank Rich discovers that California addicted to raising taxes on the rich because they think that the rich will stick around and continue to pay these taxes:
"These revenues have a narcotic effect on legislatures," said Greg Torres, president of MassINC, a nonpartisan think tank. "They become numb to the trend and think the revenue picture is improving, but they don't realize the money is ephemeral." 
However, what California and other states don't realize is that raising taxes on the rich leads to the government receiving less revenue in taxes.  As John Stossel mentioned in a television special , “Tax The Rich”, “Maryland’s millionaire tax was supposed to bring in $106 million. Instead revenue went down by $257 million. Many millionaires just left the state.”

The Democrats in California as well in other states and in our Federal government want to soak the rich because they believe that the myth that the rich don't pay their fair share is real.

Its a simple lesson that liberals, progressives and Democrats don't understand. Raising taxes doesn't fix a state's or a nation's financial problems. It only makes it worse for the following reasons:  they rely on the rich to pay taxes while those in lower income taxes pay little to no income taxes at all, they spend more money than they earn in revenue and think they can sack the rich to atone for their irresponsible spending habits, the rich make money in good times but lose a lot of it in bad times, rich people will leave the state if they are taxes or demonized too much and create laws that make it harder for business to employ people to work.

California can turn around only if they learn the simple lesson of stop taxing the rich, spend with in your means and create a business friendly environment in which job creators, innovators, investors and rich people want to stay. 

Which leads me to our current financial problems in the Federal Government. The United States is facing a huge tax increase that conservatives are calling "Taxmageddon" is a one-year $494 billion tax increase slated to strike the economy on January 1, 2013. The reason why taxes would be going up dramatically is because end of the Bush-era tax cuts that are scheduled to expire at the end of this year while its also the start of new taxes like ObamaCare and other taxes that target the rich. The Congressional Budget Office and International Monetary Fund have also both issued warnings regarding these incoming tax hikes.

Unless our elected officials in California and Washington D.C. learn the lessons above and engage in real tax reform, we will face a huge financial mess of our own making. As Paul Ryan said, these problems are avoidable and we can do something about it. But it must be done NOW.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Truth About Mitt Romney's Taxes & Tithes

Jason Alexander, who is famous for playing George Costanza on the television show "Seinfeld" believes that Mitt Romney won't release his tax records because he believes there may be evidence that he's cheating the LDS Church out of millions of dollars by not paying his tithing:
Its a similar claim to Harry Reid made in which he accused Mitt Romney of not paying taxes for 10 years: 

Here's the transcript of Harry Reid's astonishing accusation:
He’s refused to release his tax returns, as we know. If a person coming before this body wanted to be a cabinet officer, he couldn’t be if he did the same refusal Mitt Romney does about tax returns. So the word’s out that he hasn’t paid any taxes for ten years. Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn’t.
Jason Alexander accuses Romney of avoiding paying tithing. Harry Reid says Romney hasn't paid his taxes. 
Both claims are outright lies. 
Today Mitt Romney released a detailed report of his 2011 tax returns and Romney's trustee, whose name is Brad Malt, gives us a summary of the 2011 data:
- In 2011, the Romneys paid $1,935,708 in taxes on $13,696,951 in mostly investment income.
- The Romneys’ effective tax rate for 2011 was 14.1%.
-The Romneys donated $4,020,772 to charity in 2011, amounting to nearly 30% of their income.
-The Romneys claimed a deduction for $2.25 million of those charitable contributions. The Romneys’ generous charitable donations in 2011 would have significantly reduced their tax obligation for the year. The Romneys thus limited their deduction of charitable contributions to conform to the Governor's statement in August, based upon the January estimate of income, that he paid at least 13% in income taxes in each of the last 10 years.
Brad Malt, the trustee of the Romney family, also gives us a breakdown of the taxes paid by the Romney campaign for the last 20 years:
- In each year during the entire 20-year period, the Romneys owed both state and federal income taxes.
-Over the entire 20-year period, the average annual effective federal tax rate was 20.20%.
-Over the entire 20-year period, the lowest annual effective federal personal tax rate was 13.66%.
-Over the entire 20-year period, the Romneys gave to charity an average of 13.45% of their adjusted gross income.
-Over the entire 20-year period, the total federal and state taxes owed plus the total charitable donations deducted represented 38.49% of total AGI.
-During the 20-year period covered by the PWC letter, Gov. and Mrs. Romney paid 100 percent of the taxes that they owed.
Its clear that Harry Reid's claim that Mitt Romney hasn't paid is any taxes is a LIE. Mitt Romney has paid 100% of his taxes for the past 20 years. What's even more important is to keep in mind that if you look at the numbers more closely, Mitt Romney paid 30% in taxes rather than the 13% to 14%.
As far Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander's claim that Mitt Romney hasn't paid tithing, the LDS Church does not publicly release how much tithing any member of the LDS Church has paid. That is a matter between the Bishop and the member. Mitt Romney has said that his tithing records should remain private even though by releasing his tax records, people can figure out how much he's given in tithing. 
"Our church doesn't publish how much people have given," Romney is reportedly quoted as saying in the forthcoming edition of Parade. "This is done entirely privately. One of the downsides of releasing one's financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended our contributions to be known. It's a very personal thing between ourselves and our commitment to our God and to our church."
However, records show that Mitt Romney has actually paid more than 10% in tithes to the LDS Church: 
The couple’s donations to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appear to be almost double the 10 percent tithe faithful members are asked to give to the Salt Lake City-based faith.
In addition to Romney’s direct contributions to the LDS Church, he also gave to the faith through his charity for a total of $3.07 million last year, according to his campaign. The campaign also said Friday that the Romneys have given, on average, 13.45 percent of their income annually to charity, including the LDS Church.
Jason Alexander's claim that Mitt Romney is cheating the Church of tithing funds is also NOT TRUE. Its clear that Mitt Romney has been a faithful tithing payer all along. 
For more information on the LDS practice of tithing, the LDS Newsroom gives a simple explanation on tithing and charitable donations while another official LDS website called explains what the Mormon Church does with these funds and why Mormons pay tithing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Government Employees Died, Then Obama Lied

It is now evident that the Obama administration lied about what happened in Benghazi. They insisted that it was a spontaneous and unscripted riot prompted by an obscure anti-Muslim video. They stuck with that narrative despite the fact that evidence was building that it was a planned attack designed maximize embarrassment and destruction on a day that is sacred to many Americans. We now know that the attacks were planned by Al Qaeda.
You didn't have to be an intelligence officer to discover that. If regular citizens with no access to intelligence agencies know that we were attacked and the President is telling the American people something else, its lying. Prior to this revelation by American intelligence agencies, Mark Steyn made the case for how the Obama was willfully turning a blind eye to the evidence of a terrorist attack: 
As I say, I’m inclined to be generous, and put some of this down to the natural torpor and ineptitude of government. But Hillary Clinton and General Martin Dempsey are guilty of something worse, in the secretary of state’s weirdly obsessive remarks about an obscure film supposedly disrespectful of Mohammed and the chairman of the joint chiefs’ telephone call to a private citizen asking him if he could please ease up on the old Islamophobia.
Forget the free-speech arguments. In this case, as Secretary Clinton and General Dempsey well know, the film has even less to do with anything than did the Danish cartoons or the schoolteacher’s teddy bear or any of the other innumerable grievances of Islam. The 400-strong assault force in Benghazi showed up with RPGs and mortars: That’s not a spontaneous movie protest; that’s an act of war, and better planned and executed than the dying superpower’s response to it. Secretary Clinton and General Dempsey are, to put it mildly, misleading the American people when they suggest otherwise.
As the old saying goes, If you repeat a lie often enough, people will take it as truth." The Obama Administration was trying to get the American people to accept their lie as the truth despite the clear evidence that this was an attack on the U.S. Consulate because it would be a clear admission that Obama's foreign policy is a complete failure
"The attacks on US embassies and consulates in the Arab world can not be justified in any way. If it turns out that al-Qaida is behind the attacks, as some US officials suspect, then they are acts of terrorism committed under the guise of religion. If they turn out to be uncoordinated actions by angry believers, then they are an expression of a frightening ignorance. A crazy individual US citizen has uploaded a movie onto the Internet which denigrates the Prophet Muhammad. The US government can not be held responsible for that. But that clearly does not help US President Barack Obama very much. He has to bear the political consequences of the recent events by himself."
"Four years ago, Obama pledged to seek reconciliation with the Muslim world. Now, it is doubtful whether he has succeeded. The US and its European allies now have to ask themselves how much support they still enjoy in the countries of the Arab Spring."
Obama must be held accountable for his policy of leading from behind in world affairs and how it has been a utter failure. The fact that the Obama Administration has openly and brazenly lied to the American people cannot be tolerated either. The best way to hold him accountable is to give him the pink slip on November 6, 2012.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Star Of Television Show Dirty Jobs Mike Rowe Posts An Open Letter To Mitt Romney

Mike Rowe, the funny but hard working host of the television show, Dirty Jobs has posted an open letter to Mitt Romney. Here's an excerpt from that letter: 
Though schizophrenic and void of any actual qualifications, my resume looks pretty impressive, and when our economy officially crapped the bed in 2008, I was perfectly positioned to weigh in on a variety of serious topics. A reporter from The Wall Street Journal called to ask what I thought about the “counter-intuitive correlation between rising unemployment and the growing shortage of skilled labor.” CNBC wanted my take on outsourcing. Fox News wanted my opinions on manufacturing and infrastructure. And CNN wanted to chat about currency valuations, free trade, and just about every other work-related problem under the sun.
In each case, I shared my theory that most of these “problems” were in fact symptoms of something more fundamental – a change in the way Americans viewed hard work and skilled labor. That’s the essence of what I’ve heard from the hundreds of men and women I’ve worked with on Dirty Jobs. Pig farmers, electricians, plumbers, bridge painters, jam makers, blacksmiths, brewers, coal miners, carpenters, crab fisherman, oil drillers…they all tell me the same thing over and over, again and again – our country has become emotionally disconnected from an essential part of our workforce.  We are no longer impressed with cheap electricity, paved roads, and indoor plumbing. We take our infrastructure for granted, and the people who build it.
Today, we can see the consequences of this disconnect in any number of areas, but none is more obvious than the growing skills gap. Even as unemployment remains sky high, a whole category of vital occupations has fallen out of favor, and companies struggle to find workers with the necessary skills. The causes seem clear. We have embraced a ridiculously narrow view of education. Any kind of training or study that does not come with a four-year degree is now deemed “alternative.” Many viable careers once aspired to are now seen as “vocational consolation prizes,” and many of the jobs this current administration has tried to “create” over the last four years are the same jobs that parents and teachers actively discourage kids from pursuing. (I always thought there something ill-fated about the promise of three million “shovel ready jobs” made to a society that no longer encourages people to pick up a shovel.)
You can read Mike Rowe's entire letter HERE.
Mike Rowe is absolutely correct. American used to be a country that made things. We used to be a country where hard work was done in the fields under a hot sun or in a factory where machines and men banged and clanged on wood, steel and other items.America valued farming, mining, manufacturing, cleaning, or drilling.  If America wants to get back on track, we need to encourage these industries to grow and expand. That means reducing burdensome regulations and lowering taxes so that business can hire workers to do these jobs. Quite frankly, we also need a national discussion on  private sector unions since they can also hinder productivity, competitiveness, job creation and profits.
We also need to encourage society to value this kind of work and not disparage it. This kind of dirty work takes humility, strength, dedication and brains to do. It is not stupid work. Its common sense work. It is honorable work. It is American work. 
This is what made America strong and competitive. If we want to make America work again, we need to get America to work.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Obama To Move DNC Convention Inside Due To Possible Severe Weather Is A Lie

Tomorrow is the last day of the DNC convention. So far, its been an wild ride for Obama and the Democratic party. The convention hasn't gone as well as they hoped. The Democatic party somehow removed God and their support for Jerusalem as the capital of Israel from their platform and had to send out Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to reinsert these items back into the platform despite loud opposition from the delegates.  Perhaps the biggest problem for Obama and the Democrats is that this convention isn't filling up the seats like they used to during the 2008 election: 
As a result, President Obama is giving his speech at the DNC convention but it won't be in the big stadium. It will be inside at a smaller venue. They claim the reason why he's giving his speech indoors is due to the possibility of severe weather  However, that claim is false
But in reality, the risk of thunderstorms and severe weather isn’t particularly high.
Brad Panovich, chief meteorologist for WCNC, the NBC affiliate in Charlotte, is questioning the decision.
“Severe threat is almost zero Thursday night & chance of rain is 20%” he tweeted.
He added: “It’s a simple question.. if you had a Panthers game, Concert or Soccer match with a 20% chance of storms would you cancel 24 hrs prior?”
The change in venue means means 65,000 people who had planned to attend the event won’t be able to do so.
“Feel horrible for all the people who had tickets to go see #POTUS speak,” Panovich tweeted.
NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center places Charlotte in broad area where “general” thunderstorms are possible and the risk of severe storms is not elevated.
The National Weather Service predicts a 30-40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening.
The real reason for why the Obama administration is moving the speech inside is to make it look like there is strong support for Obama. Remember, perception is more powerful than the truth and as long as they can get as many people to buy into the perception that Obama is still popular, that's all that matters. The fact that there's proof that Obama cannot fill the seats for the first two days of the convention doesn't matter. Its all about perception and getting you to believe it even if it contradicts the truth. Moreover, its designed to distract you from the real storm that has been hanging over Presidency: 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Somethings For You To Think About As You Watch The DNC Convention

Now that RNC Convention is over and Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee, tonight is the first night of the DNC convention. The point of the convention is not only for the either party to nominate their candidates, but to outline the party's vision for America as express by the that party's candidate. 
It is clear that domestic issues are the most important issues in this election. The number one issue for almost all voters is the economy. However, these were the same issues in the 2008 election and Obama hasn't come up with anything new for the American voter to hear. 

While Obama isn't telling anything new that the American people haven't heard, what has changed is that this isn't 2008 anymore. Obama now has a record and its something he cannot distance himself from, especially when it comes to the economy. The statistics reveal how badly Obama has managed our economy and why we have high unemployment.
As you watch the convention, think about Obama's leadership style, his economic record (and contrast it with Mitt Romney's record on the economy), his promises to create jobs, his plans for reducing the 16 trillion deficit, then ask yourself the following questions: 
Obama has helped make better things for you from four years ago? As he made things better for America now than four years ago? Does this man deserve another four years in the White House? Should we elect the President who is offering the same message that he did in 2008?
Whatever you see and hear from the DNC convention, Obama cannot run away from his record and he doesn't deserve to have another four years in office.