Beyond the Cusp

August 12, 2012

Romney Makes Ryan His Veep Choice

Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate yesterday. If Mitt Romney has any luck whatsoever, then the Republican self-anointed leadership will come out unanimously aghast in opposition of his choosing Representative Paul Ryan. One reason this may actually prove to be the case is due to Representative Ryan’s budget formulations which he proposed successfully twice in the House of Representatives. The high Lord Muckie-Mucks of the Republican Party are really just a bunch of Democrat lite who support government as the solution to most problems. These are the people who gave us other wonderful choices such as George W. Bush who added to the size and scope of government nearly as much as any Democrat before him including both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson. For those who take offense and are claiming I am way off base here, may I remind you of just two small projects laid upon us that massively grew the size, scope, and cost of government permanently going into the future. The two programs are “No Child Left Behind” and the “Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act”. So, one point in favor of Paul Ryan is his belief in actual cuts in spending instead of simply cutting the increase and proclaiming deficit defeated. But was this the best choice, an inspired choice, a great misstep, or what?

Representative Paul Ryan is obviously a fiscal conservative which will go far in underlining the Romney message that budget cuts even if it is of those programs often perceived as third rail instant political death to suggest cuts are necessary if the United States is to avoid catastrophic financial Armageddon. Ryan is very likely to be a good fit with the Romney financial platform with a stress on tax cuts tied directly to budgetary reductions phased in over time with the aim of reaching budget surpluses within the decade. This is a reasoned manner to return the United States to fiscal sanity as we have been taken so close to the edge that being able to prevent the country going beyond the cusp demands serious restraints in spending. The big questions are not about the fiscal policies of Romney and Ryan as those are well known. Ryan will likely support Romney in any jobs programs as this is seen as a Romney strong point. Simply restraining government and promising to allow private growth and a steady and unchanging atmosphere will go a long ways to producing job growth. The repeal of all of Obama Care without any ideas of replace would also spur more job creation and here Ryan is likely to be a good influence as he supports repeal over replace of Obama Care.

The big questions about both Romney and Ryan come in the area of foreign policy. Ryan is known as a supporter of a strong military and, along with Romney, as a supporter of Israel as our strongest ally in the Middle East. What we will need to find out is whether Romney and Ryan are against the military adventurism which many have used to refer to our efforts at nation building. Should their foreign policy be one of support for those who have a similar world view and withholding interactions with those who oppose our principles of governance, human rights, and other principles they are likely to find this as a winning policy. If Romney and Ryan should support intervention to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, then as long as they are not in favor of prolonged presence with nation building and instead put in place an interim government and remove our troops as soon as the Iranians hold elections for their new government, this is likely supportable by the American public over a repeat of Afghanistan or Iraq. It is also more likely that the United States would gain a friend by engaging in as short an intervention as logistically possible and trusting the people of Iran to choose wisely. At least the people in Iran already have experienced Islamic Sharia rule so are unlikely to follow the path taken by Egypt, Libya, and others after the Arab Spring chilled and turned to an Arab Winter.

Where the economy and jobs have been chosen as the most likely deciding areas for this coming Presidential election, there are those who hold that foreign policy is the highest importance when choosing a President. We already have been told that Romney will be different than President Obama when it comes to financial policies and the addition of Ryan can only make this difference greater, but it remains to be seen how different a Romney foreign policy will be to that of President Obama. Ryan is known to be almost a polar opposite of President Obama, especially where the Middle East, and Israel in particular, but we will have to wait for Romney to disclose his entire foreign policy interests and plans. Ryan will likely be seen as a positive move as Ryan’s is a fiscal conservative, pro-military strength, a social conservative, and a personable individual and a good communicator. He has an ability to take difficult concepts and ideas, especially concerning budgets and fiscal planning, and making such understandable for the average person. This ability along with Ryan’s warm personality will add to and fill what some have seen as a void in a Romney campaign. Ryan may prove the deciding factor if the election should be a close contest. Oh, and if you have not figured it out yet, I really like Ryan as Romney’s choice for Veep.

Beyond the Cusp

May 16, 2012

A Foreboding Election Approaches

Americans are facing an election which will be a crucial reckoning point for the future of the United States. This election is coming much sooner than most of us think as it takes place not on Tuesday, November 6, 2012, but earlier on Tuesday, June 5, 2012. Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is facing a recall election on that date that was brought about in an act of vengeance instigated by the unions angered by his placing restraints on their previous near unlimited bargaining powers. Despite facts which show that even stricter restrictions are placed upon the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) than Governor Walker requested be placed upon Wisconsin State Employees Union branch of the AFSCME Council 24, AFL-CIO, reactions from the union and related other unions was immediate, severe and fanatical. Many of us will remember the teachers union joining with the other Wisconsin State Employees Union in occupying the rotunda of the Capital Building and closing down the government for a number of weeks. But the truth went far beyond simply the Statehouse or even Madison, the Wisconsin Capital.

The demonstrations often seemed to threaten to potentially turn into violent riots which required a strong police presence to protect those employees who were attempting to simply perform their jobs as well as the members of the State Legislature, one of which was caught on film being chased by a mob of demonstrators. The revolt went what some felt may have been beyond reason when the union members went to stores in Madison and beyond demanding that store owners place signs declaring their support in the front windows of their stores. In some cases it was reported that the store owners were threatened with boycotts or even the possibility of violence and damage to their stores should they not display the required supportive notices. In the final note, the unions sponsored petitions for a recall election in order to remove Governor Walker claiming his actions were ruinous to Wisconsin, the people, and to the unions in particular. This effort proved to have sufficient support to force the special recall election where Governor Walker will face off against Tom Barrett, the current Mayor of Milwaukee. He defeated Kathleen Falk, a former Dane County executive who had been seen by some as labor’s preferred candidate, in a recent primary. Now Wisconsin will vote on Tuesday, June 5, 2012, and send a message to the rest of America’s politicians.

Should Governor Walker be defeated it will send an ominous message to the Governors and Mayors throughout the United States. To even consider taking on the unions and attempting to reform entitlements by limiting the powers and influences of unions in bargaining will be seen as political suicide. A Walker defeat would empower unions to run roughshod over State Governments and permit them to demand even the most ridiculous pension plans, health insurance packages, job security guarantees, and any other one-sided salary and benefits packages without any restrictions or reason. All limitations currently in place would vanish and every State would soon be facing the same financial challenges currently challenging some of our largest states such as California and also Wisconsin. Such a result in this recall election would immediately put an end to the proposed austerity proposals in places such as New Jersey as a simple threat of open opposition by the unions would likely intimidate many of those in the State Legislatures even if the Governor decided to risk going forward with their plans for reforms. These same ominous clouds would roll over city mayors, county governance, and any community in which their work force is unionized. The unions would also have a renewed attraction in those places where thus far the unions have yet to gain a foothold.

By defeating and unseating a sitting governor, the unions would be in a position to threaten every state government country-wide leading to financial challenges with which many states and cities would be unable to cope. One result from this would be every level of government would need to find additional resources to cover the increased demands that would follow just as sure as the sun rises in the east. State employee unions would be demanding sweet deals covering health, life, education and other packages as well as increased wage demands. This could very well lead to higher property taxes, State income taxes, sales taxes, State fees for services, gasoline taxes and every other manner of revenue generation. This would work to kill any recovery which we may be feeling and very possibly force another downturn in the economy. The affects would not be immediately felt, but would sneak into the machines that are the governing sections of American society and eventually reach a tipping point in one state after the next. This coming recall election for Governor of Wisconsin is one we should watch and watch with great concern.

Beyond the Cusp

March 5, 2011

On Wisconsin, Public Employee Unions, and Taxpayers

Filed under: Politics,Public Employee Unions,Taxes,Wisconsin — qwertster @ 7:31 AM

If there has been one thing that has become clear from the standoff and shenanigans going on in Wisconsin, it is that we need to take back our schools from the teachers’ unions. It may also have pointed out a true vulnerability for allowing government workers at any level from unionizing and being able to use collective bargaining. The weakness is that when these public employee unions bargain, they are not bargaining with those who actually pay their salaries, they are bargaining with the middlemen who simply allocate the taxpayers’ monies. Unlike the private sector unions, where the union bargains with the owners of the factory who have a vested interest in keeping the company profitable partly by limiting the amount paid to employees, there is an adversarial relation with the unions. With public sector unions negotiate with functionaries of the government who spend taxpayer money that comes from taxpayers. These negotiators are chosen by politicians who receive generous contributions from the government employee unions. This situation, in all truth, places absolutely no restrictions on the generosity that the politicians can reward the unions through generous employment packages assuring the continued campaign largess. Instead of an adversarial bargaining situation, there exists an, “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine”, relationship. This leads to ever upward spiraling costs that are now bankrupting our states and all levels of government.

To be honest, finding areas where I agree with FDR is near impossible, but I agree with his position that public employees should never be allowed to have unions and collective bargaining. Even he saw the evils of such an arrangement. Unions originally became necessary near the beginning of the industrial revolution due to the advantage that was being taken against many workers and in some cases where the relation between company owners and their employees bordered on enslavement. This was particularly true of coal mine operations where the company owned your residence and the only available grocery and other needs store was the company store. In worst case scenarios, miners would find themselves indebted to the mine owners thus trapping them for life. Additionally, working conditions in numerous factories and virtually all mining was fraught with danger, often life-threatening danger. The unions did much in making workers’ conditions safer as well as demanding a decent salary.

Unions definitely had their time and place, but the public employ is not one of them. Government salaries and benefit packages need to stay competitive with the public sector salary and benefit packages; otherwise their positions would not get filled. I would actually favor for government at all levels to outsource as much of their work as possible in an open bidding system where the bid price is the final price with the company winning the bid not allowed to have a way of charging government for their cost overruns as long as there was no change to the work-load. Such a system only works if the bid price is the final cost to the taxpayer. We cannot have contractors for government contracts operating as many do currently where a company bids and contracts to pave a section of roadway and half way through the job able to claim cost increases and government ends up paying twice the bid price. Allowing for such would be tantamount to allowing public employee unions where costs always end up higher than the taxpayer can afford. We need to remember that government is established to serve the people, the taxpaying people, not the other way around. Taxpayers fully and rationally expect government to deliver the best service it is able at the best price possible; anything else is wasting our monies.

Beyond the Cusp

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