Monday, February 28, 2011

Wisconsin Gov. Walker - Reagan in our Midst?

It's now week two of the Wisconsin Union-busting standoff, and the more I think about it, the more I believe that vestiges of Ronald Reagan can be seen in Gov Walker's actions...although with the whole uprising in the Middle East lately, I have to admit, I've been missing Reagan quite a bit in general. While any strong conservative with steadfast beliefs will echo Reagan, so few in power ever actually do.

The battle in Wisconsin is due to the fact that unions and their supporters don't want to give up collective bargaining as a concession. The Fleebagger Democrats from Wisconsin have escaped - mostly to my home state of Illinois - to avoid having to vote on the bill (Wiconsin only has 19 votes; they need 20) to postpone it from becoming law. You see - unions, and their supporters, like to believe that although they didn't invent the means of production, or start the company, but merely work for it, that their 6-12 months of trade learning should entitle them to enough compensation to run a company. They like to believe that they are invaluable, and invulnerable, and over the years, we as a society have allowed them to get this way. Let's think back to 1981 - a similar group of people, the air traffic controllers, thought they were invulnerable and invaluable. Mr. Reagan showed them otherwise. No man is invaluable - a man is only as valuable as how hard he is willing to work. When a man gets into his head that he is more important than he is, consequences and repercussions ensue. Governor Walker is simply enforcing these consequences, as Reagan did nearly 30 years ago. We need more strong conservatives in Washington and in our states. It's our job as members of society to positively reinforce the messages these strong leaders send.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Obama's Reading Reagan - Time to Walk the Walk

Much has been said about Obama's reading of Ronald Reagan's autobiography in the past couple of months. Quite a switch from Alinky, isn't he? While paying lip service to Ronald Reagan is one thing, do any of us actually believe the egotistical Obama has anything in common with Ronald Reagan? Does Will Smith have anything in common with Clark Gable?

In any case, it's hard to not think of Ronald Reagan with what has been going on the last few months in the Middle East, North Africa, and indeed, all over the Arab world. Reagan didn't shrink from Gaddafi in the 80s - he stood up to him and put him in his place. Compare Jimmy Carter - Obama's 70s doppelganger - and his approach to the Middle East after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, with Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Carter dilly dallied and didn't send US foreign diplomats over there to teach the foundling society in the wake of the Revolution how to install the foundations of democracy. Instead, radical imams quickly moved in to fill the power vacuum. Despite being a fringe group at the time, they were the best organized, and within a short period of time, they set up basically a Caliphate. We need to send in people to set up the infrastructure of a modern society - something I doubt Obama is going to be willing to do.

Gas Prices, Oil Prices, Libya, and Uprisings in the Arab World

As I'm sure many of you have noticed, drivers are being molested at the pump - again. Why can't oil prices do the same thing as Obama's approval ratings? Whenever somebody so much as sneezes between Morocco and India, the price per barrel of oil gets higher than Charlie Sheen. Not to downplay the uprisings and turbulence of the revolutions that have been going on these past few weeks, but we should really examine if there is any logic for the incredible surge in oil prices and the reduction in output.

The recent Libyan uprisings - and thank god, because who likes Muammar Gaddafi? - have caused a bit of sticker shock at the gas station this week. I did some checking. The International Energy Agency said that it estimates the Libyan crisis has caused a reduction of less than 1% in global production, or between 500,000 and 750,000 barrels per day. Okay, gotcha. So, since when does < 1% reduction in supply ~ 20% rise in price? If a store has 100 beanie babies left (alright, a bit dated of an analogy, I know) at $100 apiece, and one gets destroyed, do they charge $120 for the other 99? I'm sure the oil industry would like me to believe there is more that goes into it than that - but we've all passed 8th grade least I assume Obama has, but he won't release his academic records, so we'll just give him a pass.

In light of this insanity, it seems to me that it's safe to assume some asswipe investor simply rode the scaremongering express to GetRichQuick Land. That is one of the fundamental problems with no Wall Street reform. I don't care about risk management - nothing great comes with no risk. What I care about is the fact that such a HUGE fluctation is allowed to occur, relatively frequently, in the oil market when something happens. Even the most inane, inocuous things that logically make no sense bear huge implications on oil prices from time to time. Remember when fewer than 10% of the Gulf of Mexico's refining capacity went offline for about a whole 3 weeks during the 2005 hurricane season, but prices increased dramatically? To be honest, I'm still getting over how oil can be 400% more expensive than it was 10 years ago, but people have lots of excuses for how that's possible, but people also have theories about how Elvis is still alive too. It seems drought, rain, sun, clouds, heat, cold, political stability and instability alike all cause volatility in the oil market. I think something else is affecting oil prices - graft.

I'm not going to begrudge the Libyans getting the form of goverment they want. I don't think Gaddafi is good for their country, or the world. However, I would like to point out that whenever America does something for the world, we get scapegoated and maligned. Take, for example, our 2003 Invasion of Iraq to introduce a little-known concept called Democracy, to help augment it more than just the foothold that the often maligned Israel provides for it. [Insert gratuitous bashing of Halliburton and 3rd party security contractors here]. The next thing you know, America is the most horrible thing to ever happen to mother Gaia since mankind started raping and pillaging her for her resources (as liberals would have you believe). Yet, it's too much to ask for the Middle East to maintain oil output to stabilize the global economic recovery. We can't ask them for anything - but if they have an earthquake tomorrow, be ready and happy to fork over tens or hundreds of billions of dollars. Have you noticed how Secretary General Ban-ki Moonbat of the UN condescends at us about our cowboy diplomacy, our fossil fuel consumption, and eveything else about us, except when he needs money? Please take a moment to look up Mexican President Calderon's latest pass-the-buck tirade, blaming us for not doing enough to help him solve his drug-cartel problem.

If the world isn't going to let us drill for our own oil, they should make sure they produce enough of it for us. Period.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Angry Unions, Gravy Trains, Violence, Hate, and Abuse

I have to admit, even as a child, the term "union" conjured up images of surly burly men, blue-collar thugs throwing their weight around because of some investment into the idea that "might makes right." I see that currently, they aren't doing much to dispel this archetype. Let's visit the steps of Madison, Wisconsin's Capitol building, along with other capitols in an ever-growing number of states this past week.

This past week, union workers and their advocates have been in a furor over Gov. Walker of Wisconsin and his legislature's attempt to severly curtail the union gravy-train of benefits, as well as rescind the ability for unions to collectively bargain - that is, modify their contracts whenever they are up for renewal by demanding ever-more generous concessions. The typical arguments - or usual suspects as I call them - have reared their heads. I'd like to underscore a list of the most commonly offered arguments advanced by unions and their supporters:

1. Without unions, there would be no 40 hour work week, no lunch breaks, and no livable wages.

2. The Republicans are trying to take our rights away.

3. The Republicans are at the mythical behest of the evil Koch brothers and other wealthy, limited-government advocates.

4. Without unions, there would be a greater income disparity between women and men, minorities and non-minorities.

Well, here is what I have to say about these points.

1. You're right, unions are responsible for the creation of the 40 hour work week and a livable wage. However, now government ensures workers' rights. We don't need you anymore.

2. What rights? The Constitution doesn't enumerate any rights you specifically have that nobody else does. You're right to a pension you didn't contribute to, funded by my tax dollars? Is that what you mean?

3. Just because Republicans receive donations from corporations doesn't make them behest to anybody. Answer me why union donations, and dues collected from members, always only go to democratic candidates? Could it be Big Labor is at the behest of the Democratic Party?

4. Women make less than men because statistically, women take off more time from work. They do things like have children/maternity leave, they're far more likely to call off work to take care of domestic issues, such as a sick child, and overall, their work output and hours-worked end up being fewer than men. Statistically speaking. As for the minority argument - stop race-baiting. People get paid for how qualified they are. A minority member in a skilled labor job is compensated the same.

Answer me this. If Person A goes to college, then graduate school, gets an advanced degree, and makes $XXX,000 dollars, and has to pay back $200k of student loans, in addition to their own pension and healthcare, why should Person B, who spent 6 months apprenticing a trade with a maximul educational attainment of high school make close to Person A, and make Person A subsidize their retirement and healthcare costs while having to pay for their own? Are those the "rights" you feel are threatened? I think, the bottom line is, maybe some union members aren't very educated, and have only one skill, but feel that their 6 months-1 year of trade-apprenticeship should entitle them to enough compensate to support a family and retire comfortably. Life is about working hard. If you don't want to work hard - and I have lived long enough to realize that some people have a VERY different idea of what "hard work" is than others - you don't get much back. It's that simple. You don't get to put in less work and reap the same benefit. I'd never expect to make as much as somebody with 8 years of post-HS education if I myself had zero or 2. Again - statistically speaking.

Since Republicans are so evil, why don't you ask Bill Clinton and the Democrats who signed NAFTA into law why they did that? Ask your democrat friends about globalization, and the shipping of your vastly overpaid job overseas so it can be done by foreigners for pennies on the dollar. But make sure you keep funnelling your dues into their coffers.

Lastly, but most importantly - I'd like to bring up the horrific examples of media-ignored double standards. When Jared Laughner went on his terrible rampage, before the bodies even hit the floor (no disrespect to the victims), Democrats were pointing fingers at Republicans in the civil discourse that erupted immediately after. "It makes perfect sense," I read on one liberal blog. "I'm praying to god this wasn't a rethuglican, but I'm not holding my breath" read another comment. When the dust cleared, and it turned out that it was not the work of a Republican, did anybody bat an eyelash or apologize? No, it was back-to-usual. Katie Couric must have been pissed she didn't have a story. Another example: the tea party. Years later, not a single instance of racism, homophobia, violence, or general misanthropy from any one of the hundreds of thousands of people who have attended the thousands of rallies, but god forbid we go a week without hearing something about how violent we are. Sarah Palin, the left's favorite sinner, came under nonstop reproach for her at-the-time already forgotten poster showing targets over states with (D) congresscritters to vote out of office at the November 2010 Midterms. Ignore the fact Democratic candidates released dozens of similar posters of the sort. HOWEVER: let's flash forward to the present, where democratic congressmen advocate "getting a little bloody" at union solidatory rallies - and his constituents took him up on it. Look at what's happening at the Massachussetts State house - pro-union thugs hurting people, then MsNBC fill-in commentators for Ed Schultz validate their behavior, discussing how these "old, elderly" 45-65 year olds have had their time, eliciting responses from his co-hosts like "we're just a few funerals away from good government." Imagine some burly, piece of filth 20something Southie rube tossing some 50+ year old man into a wall, hitting him, unleashing a torrent of curse words at him, destroying his American flag and screaming at him to leave.

When it comes to Obama's Era of Civility, apparently everybody but Obama and his supporters were supposed to get on board.