Tuesday, February 9, 2010

State of the Union, Part I

**I know, I know, I was supposed to do this last week. Shoot me. :P**

Well, I'm going to read over the transcript of President Obama's State of the Union address, and comment on a few of his comments...and politely applaud if I actually agree with him. :P And yes, it's late. Oh well. ^.^

First off, I'd like to rant about the many times applause interjected. It was quite annoying. Like really, really, really incredibly annoying.

Simply put, at least at first, President Obama's address seemed to be yet more of the hopey-changey mumbo jumbo we were subjected to during the campaign. Nothing much of consequence, no real solutions offered; just "moving forward" and hope. Yeah, sorry, but moving forward doesn't pay the bills.

"And if there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, and everybody in between, it's that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it -- I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal."

He hated the bank bailouts? Well we sure didn't see that when he was pushing for them so hard, and when he quite eagerly crammed it into his budget, despite the economic ramifications that would almost certainly ensue (chief among them a higher debt and deficit, higher taxes, more spending on a federal level, but less on a state and individual level).

"Now, let me repeat: We cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families. We cut taxes for small businesses."

He cut taxes on small businesses. Really? My dad owns his own business, as I think I've mentioned before. This year, he paid $12,000 in taxes. Twelve thousand dollars. My family is not rich; my dad's business is not rich. He has five employees, plus a CPA. This year, we couldn't even draw a profit check. Yet our capital gains taxes went up.

I'd also like to add that just because paper says a business made a 'profit' doesn't mean they have that money. On paper, my dad's electrical company made a profit. Yet we have no extra money in the business' bank account. **Pet Peeve Moment**

"The plan that has made all of this possible, from the tax cuts to the jobs, is the Recovery Act."

Ah. So the fact that the American people are just resilient has nothing to do with it. It has nothing to do with the fact that the market is doing its job, at least in part. Oh no. It was all the doing of the Almighty Government.

I'd also like to point out that...um...well, most of that money hasn't even been spent. So unless they managed to (through some conniving on the part of the Fed, no doubt) stretch each dollar by several hundred thousand, I don't see how that much good came out of the little they actually spent. (The rest is, apparently, still sitting in a treasury somewhere. Or currently coming off the presses in the Federal Reserve mint.)

"And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America."

Excellent idea. I mean, like imagine that- companies leave because they have to pay high taxes!

But just giving them tax breaks isn't enough. One of the most basic rules of economics is that people will not do things unless there is an incentive to do them. If there is no incentive (money) for companies to hire people here, they won't- and I don't think miniscule tax breaks will do much to add said incentives.

We need to make it easier for companies to keep workers, especially smaller businesses. They can't, not because there aren't enough tax breaks, but because they have to a) pay so much to their workers, b) pay so much in benefits to their workers, and c) they have to pay so many taxes for their workers.

Yes, yes, we all feel sorry for the poor laborers of America who unjustly toil while their evil bosses, the ones who really benefit from capitalism, drive them unmercifully hard. But then again, that picture isn't real. So it's really a nonissue.

Workers in America don't need to be paid so much. There's something messed up when a person can get paid $7.50 an hour at Walmart for putting my bleach and apples together. Pay should be by merit, not by what the government says employers have to pay. This is simple- if someone does a good job, they get more money. If they do a crappy job, they don't get money. Too bad for them. Maybe they'll grow up and see that "Hey, I need to do a better job!"

Something I just noticed- Obama likes setting Goals. Perhaps we should give him a button- Honorary Goal Setter of the United States of America.

"Still, in this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job."

What constitutes "a good job"? Sorry, but not everybody can have a job that pays $100,000 a year. We have to have garbage men and plumbers and electricians and sewer scrubbers and all sorts of other people. Those are still good jobs. We need people who can flip burgers and stock shelves and sew shirts and do nails. Those are still good jobs.

Someone has to do them. And if everybody has a college degree, there will be no one to flip burgers or take out the garbage or clean out our blocked sewers or fix our lights. Then your college degree is pretty much worthless. I'm not saying people shouldn't be able to pursue their dreams...but people shouldn't be pushed to do something they cannot feasibly do, whether because of money, time, or other constraints. That is just as wrong. (And besides, I've met a few people whose highest goal is to be a garbage man or a plumber.)

"And let's tell another 1 million students that, when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years, and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service..."

...Wow. No. This isn't how debt works. If people get into debt so they can go to college, that's their problem. Too bad for them. If they knew they wouldn't be able to pay for it, they shouldn't have gone, or they should have made better money choices.

Secondly, I don't think we should be telling college students the taxpayer will foot the bill for them. My goal is to be able to either work or pay my way through college. Yeah, it might be difficult. It probably will be. But I'm not going to steal from others, or chain myself to a huge debt because I couldn't plan ahead and manage my money.

Of course, I do think college tuition could go down. Significantly. How much they charge for the privilege of going to college is nuts, and I'm pretty sure those deans and board members aren't exactly hurting for money. They could lower rates. (But they won't, because they know their education can only be gotten in certain places, they're some of those places, and people will pay whatever it takes.)

"I didn't choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now, it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics."

Nevertheless, it is good politics, and I haven't seen anything but rhetoric that says otherwise. The political reality is this- if he doesn't get this passed ASAP, he's going to be in big trouble with his base.

It still amazes me how much Obama throws into the Federal government's court. Sorry, but ensuring everyone has affordable coverage is not the Federal government's job. You might- might- be able to swing it through state governments. But not the Federal government. It is so unconstitutional on so many levels. That is the job of the free markets and (my, here's a concept!) the people. If people wouldn't blindly follow the insurance companies and their elected officials (*coughRepublicanscough*) we would be in a lot smaller mess.

"By -- by the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program."

This I can agree with. Bush did do a lot of bad things, and a lot of it left us a lot deeper in debt. But that doesn't mean Obama has to continue the process. I thought the point of "Change" was to change the past administration's bad policies and find good ones...not just continue the old bad ones.

"I'm absolutely convinced that was the right thing to do, but families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same."

Agreed. Like oh, cutting back on spending. And to be quite frank, adding trillions to the debt heap with a healthcare bill that won't do a thing isn't going to help us dig out of said debt heap. Believe me.

"To help working families, we'll extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and for those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it."

We could if we'd start scaling back programs that are already bankrupt and have fundamental flaws. Like Medicare. Instead of adding more bandaids to the huge gash in it, let's just let it go down. Or welfare. Too many people are dependent on it. Wean them off. Or the Department of Education. Guzzles money, and our literacy rates are declining. Let's rethink that one, make it so that it works better, for less money.

Or Social Security. Good idea, bad results. Too many people get it, too much taxes get taken to pay for it. DHS, TSA...yeah, those could go and I don't think anyone would cry bucket loads of tears. The wars. And our foreign bases. Excess foreign aid. All those things could go, and there are other things I'm sure I'm missing...or rather, it would take much too long to list them all. Like the Administration on Aging. Or the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Interagency Coordinating Committee (Seriously, it's a real committee).

Endless Programs, Endless Possibilities for Fund Reduction.

"And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s."

Something that would really help us- either bribing the Federal Reserve, or getting rid of it. It has a past history of artificially inflating our currency, then letting it plummet back- or the other way around. Either way, it isn't good. Now, I see no problem with a pay-as-you-go policy. It's actually quite a wise way to do things. But um, well, I don't think it'll help much when the Senators keep raising their incomes. And sending money to special interests. Nope nope nope.

"From some on the right, I expect we'll hear a different argument, that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts, including those for the wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away.

The problem is, that's what we did for eight years."

Actually, that's really not what we did for eight years. What we did for eight years is Regulate, Spend Some More, Start A War, Make A Gaffe, Distract the Pesky People, Start Another War, Regulate, Spend Some More...

Not exactly a recipe for success, or debt reduction.

Part II soon to come.


Merriette said...

Great, great post. Though I don't agree with absolutely everything, mostly you were dead on and it was very enjoyable to read. Now if only our politicians could think as well as a fourteen year old.

Liberty said...

Thanks Merriete. :) And *ahem* it's 15. :P XD

Merriette said...

Update your sidebar, girl. :P