Thoughts, rants and commentary of a simple man

The criminality of cash

Posted on April 8th, 2009 in On Government,Rants | No Comments »

Just about anyone that knows me knows that I tend to lean toward a conservative/independent political point of view in most of my thinking. I have had a dissatisfaction with our government and government policies for a while, though more recently I have grown increasingly vocal about it because of the glaring opposition I have toward president Obama’s political views.

However there are times that I see things that were implemented under previous administrations that incense me as much as, if not more than, the current administrations decisions. Yesterday I got an email from Campaign for Liberty, an organization that supports Ron Paul and his political philosophies. They are more American Independent oriented politically and I do not necessarily agree with everything they preach, but in the case of the events mentioned in this email I could only be left with disgust toward the Bush administration for the implementation of policies that have affected good old American citizens who have been identified as displaying “terrorist” tendencies.

Campaign for Liberty’s very own Steve Bierfeldt has become an unexpected Internet sensation — and the latest target of over-reaching federal government agents.

You see, Steve was detained by Airport Police and TSA officials shortly after the Campaign for Liberty regional conference in St. Louis.

The officials rudely berated and harassed Steve for 30 minutes in a secluded room at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Fortunately, Steve was able to record nearly all of the interrogation with his cell phone.

Steve’s alleged “crime”? Carrying $4,700 in checks and cash from Campaign for Liberty, along with various other materials from our conference.

The local and Federal agents harassed Steve. They were belligerent, cursing and using insulting language. They threatened to turn Steve over to the DEA and the FBI, all the while refusing to inform him of his legal rights or explain how cash and checks threatened airplane or airport security.

Throughout the interrogation, Steve remained polite but resolute and declined to answer the invasive questions without an adequate explanation from these federal and local agents as to why they needed to be answered. Without telling Steve what law he was accused of breaking, they continued their harassment.

Although they grew increasingly frustrated that he remained committed to exercising his rights, intervention from another officer eventually led the police to reluctantly release Steve.

Last Wednesday, Steve appeared on Judge Napolitano’s Freedom Watch to discuss the flagrant violation of his rights and to promote the importance of each of us defending our civil liberties.

Here is the video clip. Listen to the recording that is played during this video and how well Steve handled the interrogation he was put through. The TSA had absolutely no right to treat him the way they did. And the thought that he was detained simply because he had a few thousand dollars in cash and checks on him makes me even angrier. Imagine if you had money on you while trying to board a plane and were treated like a terrorist because of it. What the crap?

I wonder what it is going to take to keep this crap from happening anymore. No American citizen should be treated the way Steve was just because they are carrying cash and checks, especially when there is absolutely no cause for it. There were no reports of theft locally and no reports of criminal activity in which the suspect resembled Steve (at least none mentioned in the report of the story). I am amazed that the TSA and airport police have this level of authority to carry out actions of this nature without being under the scrutiny of some type of oversight agency. This freaks me out.

But more than anything it makes me yearn for change. I hope president Obama has something on his list of things to change that covers this.

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Obama administration fires GM CEO Wagoner

Posted on March 30th, 2009 in Observations,On Business,On Government,On Politics,Personal Messages,Rants | 2 Comments »

It might not look right or even sound right, the words “Obama administration fires GM CEO Rick Wagoner” but that is, in effect, what happened. And if you know anything about me you know that I have a resolved and absolute dissatisfaction with Barack Obama as a president.

So it goes without saying that I am shocked and upset by this move, announced over the weekend and discussed by Mr. Obama this morning at a press conference he held to bring forward news of the government’s plans and actions toward the failing American automotive industry. The first question I have to ask is how can a government flex that much muscle that it can ouster a corporate officer of one of the largest companies in American history, a company they have no stake in, in such a short period of time when it took a court order and a subpoena to get the names of the recipients of the bonuses awarded to AIG executives, a company that the government owns 80% of?

Let me be clear about one thing: I am not saying that CEO Rick Wagoner should not have been fired. To the contrary, given his performance and lack of strength exhibited over his tenure at the helm of GM it makes sense that the company should seek to replace him. But that is the company’s own prerogative, not that of the US government. Just because the government is lending GM (in total) about $20 billion does not mean that they can reach into the corporation and start shifting the organization around.

No, in fact I would have expected that in the case of banks and financial institutions that have been pissing away the hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money that was used to nationalize those banks. The government took ownership of the bulk of the companies and should, in effect, have ownership rights to that company, including making organization decisions. Why we didn’t exercise those ownership rights still blows me away as I watch the financial sector continue to retain people that brought our country to its knees by paying them the same amounts of money, if not more, to do the same thing. Where are the bank CEOs’ heads? Where are the calls for resignations of Mr. Liddy from AIG? Where is the government muscle in that industry?

Instead GM, who does need the money – there is no doubt about that, is told their plan for looking forward and righting their ship was not sufficient in the eyes of the government and that, in order for them to be in a place where the government will trust them with more, must bounce their CEO. Chrysler was not given that same decision? Why not?

Now GM has another 60 days to revise their plan so that they can borrow more money from the government. And Chrysler has 30 days to get their merger/partnership deal with Fiat put together in a way that is adequate to the government so that the government can give them another $6 billion. Oh, and if the deal with Fiat falls through then Chrysler will receive no more money from the government. But that’s fine because Mr. Obama has a plan for that.

See, if it doesn’t work out for Chrysler then Mr. Obama has suggested that using American bankruptcy laws might be a potential solution for Chrysler as a means to release their liability for older, heavier debt that they can’t seem to get themselves out from under as a corporation. Um, Mr. President? If bankruptcy were an option for them why the hell didn’t we let them file two months ago instead of giving them money just so they could ask for more two months later?

It would seem the only smart company of the big 3 was Ford who elected not to take any government bailout funds. So while the government is firing CEOs and forcing partnerships Ford can sit back and look like the only stable company of the three. Way to go Ford. I have not really ever liked anything about you, but this little gesture of yours… top class.

Too bad the weakening auto industry will have a catastrophic domino effect on the entire economy if it does fail. Vendors and suppliers that supply GM and Chrysler more than likely supply other automotive manufacturers. And since the manufacturers have forced suppliers to scant profit margins, at best, if a supplier loses a contract like GM they could very well go out of business. Meaning Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi and many other manufacturers not in the news for failure will be directly affected by GM and Chrysler’s inability to manage their business.

When will the auto industry learn from Toyota? When will they take what Toyota has done seriously and implement the principles of kaizen, hoshin kanri and 5S? That is perhaps for a different discussion.

For now I am still a little flabbergasted by the way our new presidential administration has failed to act like business owners for businesses we own while acting like a corporate boards toward companies we have no ownership interest in at all. If they fired Wagoner, they could have very easily fired all the idiots at all the banks that have brought our economy into the toilet and gotten rid of their bad business decisions before giving them billions of dollars to make more bad decisions with.

But that really isn’t Obama’s way now, is it?

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So many things to not like about Obama

Posted on March 25th, 2009 in Observations,On Government,On Politics,Personal Messages,Rants | No Comments »

Last night President Obama gave another prime time press conference to fill in our great nation of what he is doing to make our economy better and what his plans are to right the ship. After listening to the entire speech and subsequent press questions, I was left with so many disappointments.

I know he is doing what he thinks is right for our country. I cannot say he is doing the best he can because I don’t think anyone has ever seen his best. But I can say that in his effort to make his administration transparent I am left with more questions than answers and a complete bewilderment as to when he is even going to answer a direct question with a direct answer.

The speech was pretty, much like all his other speech writers. His speech writers deserve at least a nice bottle of wine for their efforts. But his lack of experience and complete inability to boldly take a specific stance on a specific subject still shows how much growing as a leader he has left to do. When asked the question “Will you sign a budget if it does not contain a middle-class tax cut, does not contain cap and trade?” Mr. Obama returned with a very long response and never even really touched on the subject. When asked a second time he again did not answer with a yes or a no. He simply skirted the issue again.

When asked, multiple times, about his delay in responding to the AIG mess and why it seemed that governor Cuomo was handling the matter more than Obama, he finally retorted with “It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak, you know?”. I think we know, Mr. President. I think we know that you have access to more information than anyone in the world and that nothing in this country happens without you knowing about it first. That was the second weakest cop out of the night in my opinion.

The first weakest cop out, and the one thing about Mr. Obama that continually pisses me off, can be found in his response to the question about some congressional republicans calling his budget proposal “the most irresponsible budget in American history” and the asking of the question “Isn’t that kind of debt exactly what you were talking about when you said “passing on our problems to the next generation?”. The first thing he did was pass the buck back to the last administration. Again.

I am so sick and tired of his belly aching over the mess that was handed to him. He knew what he was getting himself into when he ran for president. He knew the situation we are in. We do not need our leader to keep looking back when asked about his budget plans. We need him to look us in the eye and tell us that though it looks bad now, because of the structure of his plan, it will end brighter than it starts out. He needs to show us that he has a plan, a clear plan, to dig us out of the hole that the Bush administration put us into. He needs to step up and take responsibility for what is to come instead of pawning off responsibility to those that are no longer in office.

I am still waiting for Mr. Obama to become the leader that so many people believed he was when he won the presidential race. So far I have only seen someone that knows how to politic, hire great speech writers and evade questions. I have still not seen his plan, though he claims to be the most transparent president in history. And I have yet to see the hope that he said he would bring as soon as he took office. So many promises not fulfilled.

It is my prayer that he succeeds in all that he does. So far all he has done is given a crap load of money to some corrupt banks, make abortion more accessible, prevent us from handling terrorists in ways that were working and conduct several very well worded press conferences. Though he has done one thing that he said he wouldn’t do that I think it a good idea.

As part of his campaign he said he would be bringing our troops home from the middle east within 18 months. To do that, he has sent almost 20,000 more troops to the area. Way to show you care about bringing our troops home Mr. President. Hopefully you will still make your target. God, I hope you do.

Until then, could you perhaps learn to answer a yes or no question with a yes or a no? And for the love of Mike, please stop reminding us that the mess is not your fault. Show us what you are going to do to get us out of it instead.


References:
The complete transcript of the questions asked Mr. Obama and his answers
Reactions to his press conference
How Politico.com saw it

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Good questions that Obama will not be asked

Posted on March 24th, 2009 in On Government,On Politics | No Comments »

NOTE: This post was in the hopper but unfinished prior to President Obama’s press conference on March 24, 2009. It is being posted late, but relatively unedited (save for minor fixes to grammar, spelling and structure). Just wanted anyone reading to know.

Tonight President Obama will be giving another prime time national press conference. I think this is his way of trying to keep the people of the United States up to speed on what is going on with his administration from his perspective as opposed to the perspective of the media. Regardless, I am definitely going to be watching/listening to his press conference with an ear for catching something new from him.

For some reason I cannot shake my utter contempt and dissatisfaction with Obama’s presiding over our country. I pretty much am opposed to every one of his ideas and decisions. That does not mean that I am a George W. Bush lover or a John McCain lover. It just means that I fail to see how Obama has come to embody the hope of a nation. I will say without batting an eye that I am not liberal in any capacity. I tend to lean toward a conservative way of thinking, mixed in with a little bit of libertarian and a little bit of independent. Perhaps that could explain why Obama has seemed to screw up at every turn in my opinion.

Still, the man is sitting on one of the worse messes of government this nation has ever seen. Make no mistake about that. His presidency will be marked by the way he gets us out of the current situation we are in if he ever manages to do that. I know many people believe that he is the end all, be all to everything political (and still I don’t know why anyone would believe that given his lack of political experience) but there has to come a point at which he shares with his people the plan behind the statements and decisions he has made.

I am sure that with the current state of our economy still relatively dicey and with the recent news of AIG and other financial institutions completely mishandling their federal bailout funds that President Obama will more than likely spend the better part of the night talking on that subject. But I hope he actually offers a clear plan of action this time. I hope he manages to inform us as to what he is thinking when he does what he does. And I hope that he manages to answer the questions asked of him succinctly, compassionately and non-politically, as a good leader would, not as some guy sitting in an office with good speech writers and good staffers would.

What brings this up is an article I read recently from Politico in which 10 questions are presented that could put the president in a place to have to sidestep an answer. Of course, he is practically an old pro at that now so I don’t see him choking too hard on whatever questions make it his way.

I do know that I am tired of hearing him pawn off the problems we are having to the previous administration. I would love for him to grow some balls one day soon and just step into the situation from the perspective of “I know we are in a tight spot and I am planning to get us out of it – it is my responsibility to do that as your president” instead of constantly refering to the mess we are in as the “problem I inherited when I took this job”. But outside of that I really hope he actually offers something to us, as a nation, that will lead us to believe that there is something in store that will help us, as a nation of American citizens, to get out of the hole we are in right now.

I hope he doesn’t politicize the issues too much, or try to turn issues into partisan skirmishes instead of a challenge that we can all work together to solve. And I hope he manages to speak some meaningful words in the midst of all the pretty words that he always uses. And for the love of all things furry, smiley and happy, I hope he doesn’t introduce another tax or another increase of tax on the wealthy or another way to try to steal more money from those who know how to earn it in order to “spread the wealth”.

I don’t think that is too much to ask of our leader.

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AIG: How to not pay attention to details

Posted on March 16th, 2009 in Observations,On Government,Personal Messages,Rants | No Comments »

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few days you have no doubt heard of the controversy brewing over AIG retention bonuses that are about to be paid out to their executives and other members of the division that has been alleged to be at the heart of our economic melt down. In essence what is at issue is the fact that AIG is stating that it must pay out about $165 million in retention bonuses to executives and other employees because it is contractually obligated to do so. Everyone that is hearing that dribble is asking the same question: “WTF?”.

Somewhere along the lines AIG is claiming that they agreed to pay these bonuses prior to taking any bailout money from the government. They state that they had already had these bonus payment obligations when they secured bailout money and that as a result they have no choice but to issue the bonuses.

“Some of these payments are coming due on March 15, and, quite frankly, AIG’s hands are tied,” [AIG Chairman Edward] Liddy said, adding that he found the arrangements “distasteful.”

Distasteful indeed. Perhaps I am missing something, but doesn’t the US government now own 80% of AIG? And can’t the government, who now owns AIG, renegotiate these “obligations”? It would seem to me that A) when AIG got their first installment of cash from the tax payers that this should have been seen; and B) just because these bonuses were previously promised does not mean that they need to go ahead and be paid.

I am sure that this could potentially pose a hardship to some AIG’s employees, specifically the millionaire executives that helped land our country in the mess we are in (and incidentally who helped facilitate the hardest of hardships that we as a country have faced in the last 60 years). But seriously, employees that suck at doing their jobs as bad as those that did this to our country should not be rewarded for that anyway, so it makes sense to me to put that $165 million to use somewhere else. Perhaps in helping people get out of the crap they are living in.

Regardless, I am glad to see president Obama stepping in and trying to look good in the face of this debacle by trying to block the bonuses. Sadly I think it will be too late to affect any real change in this mess. Still, at least someone in government is trying to upend this thing.

I just wonder who in government dropped the ball on reading through the details when we first agreed to give AIG all this cash. I know that in September of last year, when the government agreed to give AIG $85 billion, both Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi objected to it and criticized the move. Maybe they saw something wrong at the time? Probably not, since they were so on board with the continued bailouts offered by their comrade Barack Obama (bipartisan bishmartisan). Whatever the case, someone in power totally screwed up when throwing all this money toward AIG. It should have never happened to begin with, and now we are faced with trying to keep control over something we had no control over to begin with.

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Since when have the courts become parents?

Posted on March 13th, 2009 in On Education,On Government,On Homeschooling,On Parenting,Rants | 2 Comments »

Someone recently sent me a link to a court case in which a judge ordered homeschooled children into public school based on his decision that the children needed more ‘focus’. This, despite the fact the kids in question had tested above their grade levels.

A North Carolina judge has ordered three children to attend public schools this fall because the homeschooling their mother has provided over the last four years needs to be “challenged.”

The children, however, have tested above their grade levels – by as much as two years.

The decision is raising eyebrows among homeschooling families, and one friend of the mother has launched a website to publicize the issue.

The ruling was made by Judge Ned Mangum of Wake County, who was handling a divorce proceeding for Thomas and Venessa Mills.

I couldn’t believe this was a real and true story. This kind of injustice doesn’t happen in America. Does it? I know judges have an appointed authority to interpret the law and enforce it accordingly, but if you read some of Judge Mangum’s own quotes you can’t help but be left with the same questions I am sure all people who read them have.

How can any judge see this case in the manner in which Judge Mangum is seeing it? How can he favor so heavily in favor of a father that has admittedly committed adultery, repeatedly, and has even gone so far as to admit that he took time away form his kids to pursue relations with his mistress? How can this judge feel as negatively as he does toward Mrs. Mills?

I am astonished by this to be honest. If you are a home schooling parent I would encourage you, if you are not already a member, to become a member of the Home School Legal Defense Association. It is an invaluable resource for home schooling families and something that every home school parent should be a part of.

And if you haven’t yet, stop on by The Homeschool Injustice blog set up by Mills family friend Robyn Williams and offer a word of encouragement to Venessa or support for the case that she is so valiantly fighting right now.

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Stem cell research and what it is all about

Posted on March 9th, 2009 in On Government,On Politics,Personal Messages | 5 Comments »

I was saddened to hear the news today that president B. Hussein Obama decided to reverse President Bush’s policy on stem cell research.

From tiny embryonic cells to the large-scale physics of global warming, President Barack Obama urged researchers on Monday to follow science and not ideology as he abolished contentious Bush-era restraints on stem-cell research. “Our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values,” Obama declared as he signed documents changing U.S. science policy and removing what some researchers have said were shackles on their work.

“It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda — and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology,” Obama said.

Dictionary.com defines ideology as the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group. Does science qualify as a social movement? How about socialism, politics or the ever growing Obamagasm this country is currently in the throes of? If the “facts” that scientific decisions are based on become common doctrine does that mean that future presidents, perhaps of a more conservative nature, could then undo the crap that B. Hussein Obama has done in the name of not following ideology?

To stay on point though I have to at least mention what a lot of people ask about on this subject: why is this such a contentious issue? It think that stems from the fact that there are no provisions that prevent scientists from developing human embryos for the sake of stem cell harvesting. Unless I am wrong about that, which is certainly a possibility. But it seems to me that when there are hundreds of thousands of abortions performed every year that it should never become an issue to have to fabricate lives to snuff out in order to get at stem cells.

We as a country put more than enough embryos to death each year. I cannot see the need for us to allow for the creation of embryos for the purpose of harvesting their stem cells. Of course now that scientists not only have a green light to research the effect of embryonic stem cells but have funding to go with it (thanks to the B. Hussein Obama economic stimulus and recovery and spending of your tax dollars act) you can be sure that there will be more and more discussions on this matter. And I would be willing to bet it is going to revolve around the fight between being able to do something and whether being able to is a license to do it. The good old argument of “just because you can doesn’t mean you should”.

I know I harp on our president quite a bit, but in my opinion he has done more damage to our country in the last few months than anyone cares to see. The bailouts, Guantanamo, his decision to provide funding for abortions both in the US and overseas, his political appointments and now stem cell research just goes to show that he really does not care about Americans, humanity or the sanctity of life in general. I am so saddened by this man and his decisions. And all the while his image is carried over our airwaves to throngs of supporters cheering him on and taking his side.

He promised change. He is bringing about change. But I can’t help but wonder when someone is going to look at the change he is bringing and ask the question “Is this change what we really need?”. His popularity is making him untouchable and is making me sick. How much longer until the election of 2012?

Change… change you can believe in. I am well inclined to tell him “No thanks Mr. president, you can keep the change.”.

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Government knows best

Posted on March 3rd, 2009 in Observations,On Children,On Government,On Parenting,On Politics,Rants | 1 Comment »

There was a time in our country when parents were afforded the position of “knowing what is best” for their children. In fact it wasn’t that long ago that parents were not only expected to tend to their kids but were encouraged to do so. But it seems as though the government has become increasingly interested in the governing of not just the political landscape. Apparently the government wants into your family now.

I had heard about this issue originally from a Home School Legal Defense Association newsletter and I later read about Senator Barbara Boxer seeking to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. After reading the content and the message behind it I am left with an overwhelming disgust for our government. Not that I liked the government before, but this makes me want to become a politician just so I can speak out against this crap.

How can any politician believe, at all, that the government knows better than a parent when it comes to raising and handling their own kids? I know there are edge cases of neglect, abuse, bad parenting and utter parental stupidity that could easily be recounted that might provide a small sense of justification for this. But I would say that in the bulk of families that could be affected by a decision like this most have parents that are in some way or another involved in the welfare of their children. The government does not need to pass an intrusive legal decision that would in effect put the governments decisions regarding children above the decisions of the parents of those children.

Does this not seem odd to you? I take comfort in knowing that as a parent I am responsible for my children. I take comfort in knowing that since I live in a free country, a country that does no derive its identity nor its principles from the government which covers it, that I can parent my children however I see fit. Like home schooling my kids. Like disciplining them as I see fit. Like providing for them, sheltering them and teaching them the way that I, as their parent, think is the best way.

I hope Senator Boxer takes one on the chin with this attempt. Seriously, the government is meddling in affairs that it just should not be in. Parenting is one of those areas and that really needs to be left up to the experts: us parents.

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To all my valued employees

Posted on February 26th, 2009 in Funnies,On Government,Personal Messages,Rants | No Comments »

A friend of mine sent me an email yesterday containing a “letter” from a business owner to his employees. While I am certain this is not a real letter, the context of the letter is worthy of repeating. I cannot give credit to the original author because I do not know who it is. If you know, please let me know. Thanks.

To All My Valued Employees,

There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country.

However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests.
First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a back story. This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You’ve seen my big home at last years Christmas party. I’m sure; all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life.
However, what you don’t see is the back story.
I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire living apartment was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn’t have time to date. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business — hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

Meanwhile, my friends got jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the Nordstrom’s for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the Goodwill store extracting any clothing item that didn’t look like it was birthed in the 70’s. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.

So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm, I don’t. There is no “off” button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1 year old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden — the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations… You never realize the back story and the sacrifices I’ve made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail-out all the people who didn’t. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.

Yes, business ownership has is benefits but the price I’ve paid is steep and not without wounds.

Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:

I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don’t pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my “stimulus” check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you’d quit and you wouldn’t work here. I mean, why should you? That’s nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don’t understand … to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had suddenly government mandated to me that I didn’t need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don’t defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly, the power brokers in Washington believe the poor of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.

So where am I going with all this?
It’s quite simple.

If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child’s future. Frankly, it isn’t my problem any more.

Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I’m done. I’m done with a country that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship.

If you lose your job, it won’t be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about….

Signed,

Your boss

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The words were lovely

Posted on February 25th, 2009 in On Government,On Politics | 5 Comments »

Anyone that knows me knows that I am not an Obama supporter. I didn’t like him in the campaign, I don’t like him as president. It is not because he is half-black or democrat or tall or a smoker. I really just do not like his ideals and principles.

Last night I listened to his speech to a joint session of congress and felt myself stewing over a few of the things he said and how they line up with his campaign and the campaign promises he made. There were a few things that he said that I took issue with and thought it appropriate to mention some of them here. So I am going to point out a few of those things that left me asking Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Please try to keep in mind that while I esteem our president because of his title I do not buy in to his message of hope, change and optimisim. I do believe in hope, change and optimism. I just do not think President Obama will bring them to our nation. He is a man not a god. He has limitations and shortcomings and it is my belief that those will become painfully clear to the American people before the end of his term.

Click to jump to the full text of Obama’s speech

The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth. Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.

Um, Mr. President, our laboratories, universities, fields and factories are quickly becoming empty. Companies are closing, shutting down completely, while the government doles out billions to banks that spend money on parties. Universities are losing ground because no one can afford to go anymore. The factories are sealed and locked down because they cannot stay open because half their income is being spent on taxes and the other half is being spent on their employees, employee benefits, material costs (if they can afford those) and receivables.

The government you promised in your campaign, the one that punishes success through overwhelming taxation, will actually see to it the “ample measure” of those qualities you mention will be stifled and quieted as high level thinkers spend the bulk of their thought trying to figure how the hell they are going to take care of their families. Ideas, as ample as they are, will go nowhere when no one has any resource to put them into practice. So as we come together and boldly confront the challenges that lie ahead of us and take responsibility for our future, can you spare a cheeseburger because your country and the mess you inherited, you know the one you attribute to a past administration – the same one you are not taking responsibility for, cannot afford to pay attention right now?

Well that day of reckoning [where we confront the stupidity of past administrations] has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.

This has been an ongoing theme in your campaign and early stages of your presidency. Uh, any ideas on how to do that? Aside from giving away trillions of dollars to large organizations?

Jobs, right? You are going to be creating jobs all over the country with our money, um, “government funds”, so that people can get back to work? Spending on things like infrastructure, broadband, bridges and mass transit sounds nice, but where does that put money into our pockets? Other than the few grunts that get a few dollars an hour for doing the work and the more massive amount spent on planning, government fees, regulatory fees, taxes and the what not? I know you are ambitious, but how about how about letting companies that are already employing people, or those that are close to shutting down, keep some of their revenue? Why not put a moratorium on taxes for two years? Let companies keep their income and pass it on to their workers. Give the economy the chance to grow itself rather than punish those that would push the economy in the right direction through their earnings.

That is why this administration is moving swiftly and aggressively to break this destructive cycle, restore confidence, and re-start lending.

We will do so in several ways. First, we are creating a new lending fund that represents the largest effort ever to help provide auto loans, college loans, and small business loans to the consumers and entrepreneurs who keep this economy running.

So does this mean that all the people whose credit is in the toilet now will be able to take advantage of this free flowing money? Or just those that were really not impacted that badly by the economic crisis up to this point? Because to be honest there are millions of people right now that can’t so much as get a credit card because their credit sucks so bad. If you aren’t going to lend to those people then only those with a previous financial backing will be able to take advantage of this plan. And since we are talking about that, why in the world would anyone, in a terrible economy, buy a car? I can kind of see going to college. Starting a small business is almost out of the question because so many small businesses are already in the tank there it will be nearly impossible to start something that will provide effective returns. So what is left? Go to work on the crews that are building those roads and bridges and turbines you were talking about?

Second, we have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and re-finance their mortgages. It’s a plan that won’t help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford, but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values – Americans who will now be able to take advantage of the lower interest rates that this plan has already helped bring about. In fact, the average family who re-finances today can save nearly $2000 per year on their mortgage.

Responsible families? Like those that have managed to earn enough money to not be placed in the crosshairs of foreclosure? Those that have spent everything they have to keep their roofs over their heads or their children healthy? And why shouldn’t speculators be helped in this? They are pumping money into the economy when they do that? And the neighbor down the street that bought way too much house on way to much optimism? That neighbor is you, me and everyone in American right now Mr. President. Why are we not trying to help that dude? Is he not worth it?

Third, we will act with the full force of the federal government to ensure that the major banks that Americans depend on have enough confidence and enough money to lend even in more difficult times. And when we learn that a major bank has serious problems, we will hold accountable those responsible, force the necessary adjustments, provide the support to clean up their balance sheets, and assure the continuity of a strong, viable institution that can serve our people and our economy.

Didn’t Hitler nationalize banks and corporations? Just sayin’. Although the word “force” here does make you sound kind of manly. Kind of.

But I also know that in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger, or yield to the politics of the moment. My job – our job – is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility. I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can’t pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can’t get a mortgage.

If you are governing with a sense of responsibility wouldn’t that responsibility be to your people? Stop taxing us. If we keep what we give the government then we might be able to actually pay for stuff we need. And the government won’t have to. And I assure you that when you do whatever it takes to help small businesses or struggling families, at least with tax payer money, some executive somewhere is going to benefit. You may as well let us keep what is ours for a time and see if we can’t pull this thing out. Taxing the wealthiest Americans so that you can use their money to finance the failures of institutions and people working with them is really not a solution. It is socialism.

That’s what this is about. It’s not about helping banks – it’s about helping people. Because when credit is available again, that young family can finally buy a new home. And then some company will hire workers to build it. And then those workers will have money to spend, and if they can get a loan too, maybe they’ll finally buy that car, or open their own business. Investors will return to the market, and American families will see their retirement secured once more. Slowly, but surely, confidence will return, and our economy will recover.

And the fairy godmother will waiver he magic wand and the toad-like government will magically turn into the government we should have had all along and we will all live happily ever after. That was hard to write without chuckling.

As for our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink. We should not, and will not, protect them from their own bad practices. But we are committed to the goal of a re-tooled, re-imagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it. Scores of communities depend on it. And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.

If we as a country created the essence of the auto industry once, why can we not do it again? Better, even? As long as domestic auto manufacturers can reach out to the government and ask for cash knowing they will get it while at the same time putting tens of thousands of people out of work there is no incentive for them to learn to run a manufacturing operation well, like a company like Toyota does. How much money has Toyota asked from the government recently? $0. Yet they are still doing OK compared to our own home grown companies. How can our companies ever learn to be efficient in their operations when we constantly bail their sorry business management out? Let ingenuity run its course. We have done it before Mr. President. We can do it again.

These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children. But it is up to us to ensure they walk through them. In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework after dinner, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, and read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father when I say that responsibility for our children’s education must begin at home.

Put your money where your mouth is Mr. President. Make education, even home education, a priority. Allow for tax breaks for teachers and parents. Allow parents to educate their children at home with the same coverage as if they were in a public school. Show that you mean what you say. I have been living this lifestyle since the day my kids were born. All of them have been educated at home, all of them have had my attention to their education. The education of all of them has been a priority of mine. Show me you mean business. Put your money where your mouth is.

In order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

Perhaps it is just me but I still think the tax is the most unjust, unfair set of laws and rules we could ever imagine. Why should someone that has more have to be stolen from more? It is like you having two eggs and your wealthy neighbor having five dozen and you being able to go over there and take a few from him because he has them. And the worst part of this setup, the graduated increasing percentage burden based on income, is that the more you earn, the double more you get taxed. The higher the income the higher percentage of that income the government gets to just take from you. Just because. Well, actually there is a because. It is because president Obama believes that government should steal more from those that have earned a large amount and pay that plunder to those that haven’t earned as much. You want to promote economy? Let trade and commerce be free and equal. Including earnings and tax. A flat 9% for everyone. Or in times like these, a flat 9% for all who file earnings of more than $50,000. But making the wealthiest 2% of the population pay more is just stupid, wrong and unfair.

I know that it is easy to lose sight of this truth – to become cynical and doubtful; consumed with the petty and the trivial.

You got that right. Ok, this was not a response so much as it was a cheap shot but still.

I think about Leonard Abess, the bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. He didn’t tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, ”I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn’t feel right getting the money myself.”

Um, Mr. President? Yeah, see he probably did this because the only way he would get any satisfaction from his money going to those people is through him actually giving it to them, not you reaching into his earnings, taking it from him and passing it on to those folks. Just a thought.

I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.

I can agree with this. I do want this country to succeed. And I want president Obama to succeed. God knows we need him and all of our lawmakers to succeed. I just hope he remembers these words when democrat, republican and independent come together to create new laws. Because so far his attempts at “reaching across the aisles” have appeared to be him sitting on the left and staring menacingly to the right, mouthing “I won, remember?”.

A speech to a joint session of congress by President Barack Obama

Madame Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, and the First Lady of the United States:

I’ve come here tonight not only to address the distinguished men and women in this great chamber, but to speak frankly and directly to the men and women who sent us here.

I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has – a friend; a neighbor; a member of your family. You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.

But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this:

We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.

The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth. Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.

Now, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that for too long, we have not always met these responsibilities – as a government or as a people. I say this not to lay blame or look backwards, but because it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we’ll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament.

The fact is, our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank. We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy. Yet we import more oil today than ever before. The cost of health care eats up more and more of our savings each year, yet we keep delaying reform. Our children will compete for jobs in a global economy that too many of our schools do not prepare them for. And though all these challenges went unsolved, we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before.

In other words, we have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.

Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.

Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down. That is what my economic agenda is designed to do, and that’s what I’d like to talk to you about tonight.

It’s an agenda that begins with jobs.

As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by President’s Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets. Not because I believe in bigger government – I don’t. Not because I’m not mindful of the massive debt we’ve inherited – I am. I called for action because the failure to do so would have cost more jobs and caused more hardships. In fact, a failure to act would have worsened our long-term deficit by assuring weak economic growth for years. That’s why I pushed for quick action. And tonight, I am grateful that this Congress delivered, and pleased to say that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is now law.

Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90% of these jobs will be in the private sector – jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges; constructing wind turbines and solar panels; laying broadband and expanding mass transit.

Because of this plan, there are teachers who can now keep their jobs and educate our kids. Health care professionals can continue caring for our sick. There are 57 police officers who are still on the streets of Minneapolis tonight because this plan prevented the layoffs their department was about to make.

Because of this plan, 95% of the working households in America will receive a tax cut – a tax cut that you will see in your paychecks beginning on April 1st.

Because of this plan, families who are struggling to pay tuition costs will receive a $2,500 tax credit for all four years of college. And Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession will be able to receive extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage to help them weather this storm.

I know there are some in this chamber and watching at home who are skeptical of whether this plan will work. I understand that skepticism. Here in Washington, we’ve all seen how quickly good intentions can turn into broken promises and wasteful spending. And with a plan of this scale comes enormous responsibility to get it right.

That is why I have asked Vice President Biden to lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort – because nobody messes with Joe. I have told each member of my Cabinet as well as mayors and governors across the country that they will be held accountable by me and the American people for every dollar they spend. I have appointed a proven and aggressive Inspector General to ferret out any and all cases of waste and fraud. And we have created a new website called recovery.gov so that every American can find out how and where their money is being spent.

So the recovery plan we passed is the first step in getting our economy back on track. But it is just the first step. Because even if we manage this plan flawlessly, there will be no real recovery unless we clean up the credit crisis that has severely weakened our financial system.

I want to speak plainly and candidly about this issue tonight, because every American should know that it directly affects you and your family’s well-being. You should also know that the money you’ve deposited in banks across the country is safe; your insurance is secure; and you can rely on the continued operation of our financial system. That is not the source of concern.

The concern is that if we do not re-start lending in this country, our recovery will be choked off before it even begins.

You see, the flow of credit is the lifeblood of our economy. The ability to get a loan is how you finance the purchase of everything from a home to a car to a college education; how stores stock their shelves, farms buy equipment, and businesses make payroll.

But credit has stopped flowing the way it should. Too many bad loans from the housing crisis have made their way onto the books of too many banks. With so much debt and so little confidence, these banks are now fearful of lending out any more money to households, to businesses, or to each other. When there is no lending, families can’t afford to buy homes or cars. So businesses are forced to make layoffs. Our economy suffers even more, and credit dries up even further.

That is why this administration is moving swiftly and aggressively to break this destructive cycle, restore confidence, and re-start lending.

We will do so in several ways. First, we are creating a new lending fund that represents the largest effort ever to help provide auto loans, college loans, and small business loans to the consumers and entrepreneurs who keep this economy running.

Second, we have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and re-finance their mortgages. It’s a plan that won’t help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford, but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values – Americans who will now be able to take advantage of the lower interest rates that this plan has already helped bring about. In fact, the average family who re-finances today can save nearly $2000 per year on their mortgage.

Third, we will act with the full force of the federal government to ensure that the major banks that Americans depend on have enough confidence and enough money to lend even in more difficult times. And when we learn that a major bank has serious problems, we will hold accountable those responsible, force the necessary adjustments, provide the support to clean up their balance sheets, and assure the continuity of a strong, viable institution that can serve our people and our economy.

I understand that on any given day, Wall Street may be more comforted by an approach that gives banks bailouts with no strings attached, and that holds nobody accountable for their reckless decisions. But such an approach won’t solve the problem. And our goal is to quicken the day when we re-start lending to the American people and American business and end this crisis once and for all.

I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time, they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer. This time, CEOs won’t be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over.

Still, this plan will require significant resources from the federal government – and yes, probably more than we’ve already set aside. But while the cost of action will be great, I can assure you that the cost of inaction will be far greater, for it could result in an economy that sputters along for not months or years, but perhaps a decade. That would be worse for our deficit, worse for business, worse for you, and worse for the next generation. And I refuse to let that happen.

I understand that when the last administration asked this Congress to provide assistance for struggling banks, Democrats and Republicans alike were infuriated by the mismanagement and results that followed. So were the American taxpayers. So was I.

So I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you – I get it.

But I also know that in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger, or yield to the politics of the moment. My job – our job – is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility. I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can’t pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can’t get a mortgage.

That’s what this is about. It’s not about helping banks – it’s about helping people. Because when credit is available again, that young family can finally buy a new home. And then some company will hire workers to build it. And then those workers will have money to spend, and if they can get a loan too, maybe they’ll finally buy that car, or open their own business. Investors will return to the market, and American families will see their retirement secured once more. Slowly, but surely, confidence will return, and our economy will recover.

So I ask this Congress to join me in doing whatever proves necessary. Because we cannot consign our nation to an open-ended recession. And to ensure that a crisis of this magnitude never happens again, I ask Congress to move quickly on legislation that will finally reform our outdated regulatory system. It is time to put in place tough, new common-sense rules of the road so that our financial market rewards drive and innovation, and punishes short-cuts and abuse.

The recovery plan and the financial stability plan are the immediate steps we’re taking to revive our economy in the short-term. But the only way to fully restore America’s economic strength is to make the long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world. The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil and the high cost of health care; the schools that aren’t preparing our children and the mountain of debt they stand to inherit. That is our responsibility.

In the next few days, I will submit a budget to Congress. So often, we have come to view these documents as simply numbers on a page or laundry lists of programs. I see this document differently. I see it as a vision for America – as a blueprint for our future.

My budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue. It reflects the stark reality of what we’ve inherited – a trillion dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession.

Given these realities, everyone in this chamber – Democrats and Republicans – will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars. And that includes me.

But that does not mean we can afford to ignore our long-term challenges. I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves; that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity.

For history tells a different story. History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. In the wake of war and depression, the GI Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle-class in history. And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways, an American on the moon, and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world.

In each case, government didn’t supplant private enterprise; it catalyzed private enterprise. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive.

We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril, and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again. That is why, even as it cuts back on the programs we don’t need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.

It begins with energy.

We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet, it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient. We invented solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.

Well I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders – and I know you don’t either. It is time for America to lead again.

Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years. We have also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history – an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine, science, and technology.

We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.

As for our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink. We should not, and will not, protect them from their own bad practices. But we are committed to the goal of a re-tooled, re-imagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it. Scores of communities depend on it. And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.

None of this will come without cost, nor will it be easy. But this is America. We don’t do what’s easy. We do what is necessary to move this country forward.

For that same reason, we must also address the crushing cost of health care.

This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. In the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. And in each of these years, one million more Americans have lost their health insurance. It is one of the major reasons why small businesses close their doors and corporations ship jobs overseas. And it’s one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our budget.

Given these facts, we can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold.

Already, we have done more to advance the cause of health care reform in the last thirty days than we have in the last decade. When it was days old, this Congress passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for eleven million American children whose parents work full-time. Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy, and save lives. It will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time. And it makes the largest investment ever in preventive care, because that is one of the best ways to keep our people healthy and our costs under control.

This budget builds on these reforms. It includes an historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform – a down-payment on the principle that we must have quality, affordable health care for every American. It’s a commitment that’s paid for in part by efficiencies in our system that are long overdue. And it’s a step we must take if we hope to bring down our deficit in the years to come.

Now, there will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve reform, and that is why I’m bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week.

I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. It will be hard. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and the conscience of our nation long enough. So let there be no doubt: health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.

The third challenge we must address is the urgent need to expand the promise of education in America.

In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a pre-requisite.

Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma. And yet, just over half of our citizens have that level of education. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation. And half of the students who begin college never finish.

This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education – from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.

Already, we have made an historic investment in education through the economic recovery plan. We have dramatically expanded early childhood education and will continue to improve its quality, because we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life. We have made college affordable for nearly seven million more students. And we have provided the resources necessary to prevent painful cuts and teacher layoffs that would set back our children’s progress.

But we know that our schools don’t just need more resources. They need more reform. That is why this budget creates new incentives for teacher performance; pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We’ll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to charter schools.

It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American. That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education. And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations, I ask this Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation that bears the name of Senator Orrin Hatch as well as an American who has never stopped asking what he can do for his country – Senator Edward Kennedy.

These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children. But it is up to us to ensure they walk through them. In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework after dinner, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, and read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father when I say that responsibility for our children’s education must begin at home.

There is, of course, another responsibility we have to our children. And that is the responsibility to ensure that we do not pass on to them a debt they cannot pay. With the deficit we inherited, the cost of the crisis we face, and the long-term challenges we must meet, it has never been more important to ensure that as our economy recovers, we do what it takes to bring this deficit down.

I’m proud that we passed the recovery plan free of earmarks, and I want to pass a budget next year that ensures that each dollar we spend reflects only our most important national priorities.

Yesterday, I held a fiscal summit where I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office. My administration has also begun to go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs. As you can imagine, this is a process that will take some time. But we’re starting with the biggest lines. We have already identified two trillion dollars in savings over the next decade.

In this budget, we will end education programs that don’t work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don’t need them. We’ll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq, and reform our defense budget so that we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use. We will root out the waste, fraud, and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn’t make our seniors any healthier, and we will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.

In order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. But let me perfectly clear, because I know you’ll hear the same old claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people: if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime. In fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut – that’s right, a tax cut – for 95% of working families. And these checks are on the way.

To preserve our long-term fiscal health, we must also address the growing costs in Medicare and Social Security. Comprehensive health care reform is the best way to strengthen Medicare for years to come. And we must also begin a conversation on how to do the same for Social Security, while creating tax-free universal savings accounts for all Americans.

Finally, because we’re also suffering from a deficit of trust, I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget. That is why this budget looks ahead ten years and accounts for spending that was left out under the old rules – and for the first time, that includes the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. For seven years, we have been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price.

We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.

And with our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat al Qaeda and combat extremism. Because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens half a world away.

As we meet here tonight, our men and women in uniform stand watch abroad and more are readying to deploy. To each and every one of them, and to the families who bear the quiet burden of their absence, Americans are united in sending one message: we honor your service, we are inspired by your sacrifice, and you have our unyielding support. To relieve the strain on our forces, my budget increases the number of our soldiers and Marines. And to keep our sacred trust with those who serve, we will raise their pay, and give our veterans the expanded health care and benefits that they have earned.

To overcome extremism, we must also be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend – because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America. That is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists – because living our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture.

In words and deeds, we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun. For we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America. We cannot shun the negotiating table, nor ignore the foes or forces that could do us harm. We are instead called to move forward with the sense of confidence and candor that serious times demand.

To seek progress toward a secure and lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors, we have appointed an envoy to sustain our effort. To meet the challenges of the 21st century – from terrorism to nuclear proliferation; from pandemic disease to cyber threats to crushing poverty – we will strengthen old alliances, forge new ones, and use all elements of our national power.

And to respond to an economic crisis that is global in scope, we are working with the nations of the G-20 to restore confidence in our financial system, avoid the possibility of escalating protectionism, and spur demand for American goods in markets across the globe. For the world depends on us to have a strong economy, just as our economy depends on the strength of the world’s.

As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us – watching to see what we do with this moment; waiting for us to lead.

Those of us gathered here tonight have been called to govern in extraordinary times. It is a tremendous burden, but also a great privilege – one that has been entrusted to few generations of Americans. For in our hands lies the ability to shape our world for good or for ill.

I know that it is easy to lose sight of this truth – to become cynical and doubtful; consumed with the petty and the trivial.

But in my life, I have also learned that hope is found in unlikely places; that inspiration often comes not from those with the most power or celebrity, but from the dreams and aspirations of Americans who are anything but ordinary.

I think about Leonard Abess, the bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. He didn’t tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, ”I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn’t feel right getting the money myself.”

I think about Greensburg, Kansas, a town that was completely destroyed by a tornado, but is being rebuilt by its residents as a global example of how clean energy can power an entire community – how it can bring jobs and businesses to a place where piles of bricks and rubble once lay. “The tragedy was terrible,” said one of the men who helped them rebuild. “But the folks here know that it also provided an incredible opportunity.”

And I think about Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina – a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom. She has been told that her school is hopeless, but the other day after class she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this room. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp. The letter asks us for help, and says, “We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters.”

We are not quitters.

These words and these stories tell us something about the spirit of the people who sent us here. They tell us that even in the most trying times, amid the most difficult circumstances, there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency, and a determination that perseveres; a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity.

Their resolve must be our inspiration. Their concerns must be our cause. And we must show them and all our people that we are equal to the task before us.

I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.

And if we do – if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis; if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity; if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, “something worthy to be remembered.” Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

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