Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Staples Announces Adoption of Packsize Technology

In a long-awaited announcement today, Staples, the number two online retailer in America, has implemented On Demand Packaging. They will call their internal system "Smart-size packaging."

The press release, issued this morning, states in part: "Staples has implemented Smart-size packaging in several facilities in its nationwide network of delivery fulfillment centers, and will continue the roll-out through 2013."

Packsize is helping Staples reduce air pillows by 60%.

Packsize is helping Staples reduce its corrugated needs by 20%.

To date, Packsize technology is deployed in 12 Staples facilities with an entire network rollout scheduled for completion next year.

Staples is the world’s largest office products company and second largest internet retailer. The company provides products, services and expertise in office supplies, copy & print, technology, facilities and breakroom, and furniture. Staples invented the office superstore concept in 1986 and now has annual sales of $25 billion, ranking second in the world in eCommerce sales. With 88,000 associates worldwide, Staples operates in 26 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, making it easy for businesses of all sizes, and consumers. The company is headquartered outside Boston. More information about Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS) is available at www.staples.com/media.

Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Salt Lake City, Packsize International LLC is the world’s leading provider of lean packaging systems for businesses with complex corrugated packaging needs. Recognized by Inc. 5000 and listed by Forbes as one of America’s Most Promising Companies, Packsize delivers an alternative to the existing corrugated supply chain with On Demand Packaging®. For more information, visit www.packsize.com/press.

To learn more about how Packsize can help your organization realize the same efficiencies Staples is reporting, please contact David Goates, at (801) 944-4814, ext. 142, or dave.goates@packsize.com.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

NJ Flood Damage, Inflation, National Debt and Politicians

From this morning's edition of American Thinker:

Hurricane damages and the national debt

Lee DeCovnick
The headline from philly.com boldly proclaimed, "Christie pegs New Jersey's Sandy damage at $29.4 billion."  The article went on to explain: 

"Gov. Christie estimates that Sandy cost New Jersey $29.4 billion in damage and economic losses, from washed-out roadways and waterlogged homes to manning storm shelters.
"This preliminary number is based on the best available data, field observations, and geographical mapping," Christie said in a statement released Friday evening. "I will spare no effort and waste no time to rebuild and restore our tourism industry, our transportation and utilities infrastructure, and the lives of our citizens for the long term."
$29.4 billion is a supertanker load of money, especially when we consider the amount of damage Sandy caused in the space of just a couple of days. But fear not, Governor, that much money is just a drop in a fifty-five gallon drum when it comes to Federal spending.
Let's look at the rampaging increases in our national debt since the election, according to the US Treasury. On November 14th, 2012 our national debt was $16.244 trillion. Twenty-four hours later the national debt stood at $16.278 trillion.  This increase of over $34 billion dollars in a single day could easily pay for the rebuilding of thousands of houses, plus billions more for transportation, electrical and water infrastructure mitigation for the entire state of New Jersey.
New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Maryland are hungrily anticipating having all their "Sandy costs" reimbursed for less than weeks' worth of Federal borrowing.  No doubt these state's congressional delegations are itching to get paws on all this "free" money. After all the current Administration's unspoken policy assumes our children and grandchildren will inherit this mountain range of debt.  Why else would the US Treasury borrow $34 billion dollars a in a single day unless they never actually planned to pay it back?
* * *

The article caught my attention because it helps to put into perspective what we are up against as a nation. It would be naive to assert we got here solely because of Barack Obama. The reason there was such a steady drumbeat about the fact that it was all GWB's fault is because that line tested so well among focus groups. Americans in the majority actually believe the financial condition of this nation is the fault of the previous administration. Even that is simplistic.

We got here over the course of almost a century of slowly boiling in our own juices. As the water temperature has slowly climbed we are now at the point of peril - socialism has fouled the pistons of the engine of free enterprise, and all that remains is determining whether or not we can clear the mechanisms to once again be profitable.

Economists are still divided. "The dark science" of economics instructs some practitioners that the traditional Keynesian response - borrow to create stimulus - is still working and must be employed again and again until the economy jump starts. We are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar the federal government is spending. Does that sound like a taxation problem or a spending problem to you? Others worry that the growth potential of the GDP may never again rise above 1.5 percent annually, where historically it has averaged 4 percent growth per year. All our problems go away if the growth engine gets revved up again and we grow our way out of debt. Every year that goes by now sees just the opposite result. Instead of a proven winner at the throttles, Mitt Romney, we settled for a rank amateur with absolutely no economic track record except his last four years. God help us all with that choice, because we will need all the help we can get.

The idea that politicians may actually be thinking to themselves that there will never be a day of reckoning on the national debt, that we will never have to pay back the national debt now held by our own Treasury, is the only logical conclusion one can draw from their dithering and lack of willingness to address the obvious issues before us as a nation. Instead of curbing spending they are poised once again to do what Congress always does best when they get in a bind - increase taxes, and not just by closing loopholes for deductions. Now they are discussing increasing tax rates on the wealthy, defined as those making more than $250,000 per year.

I have had discussions with those who supported Barack Obama. Stupidly, they will tell me, "A tax increase on the wealthy doesn't really affect me, so what's the big deal?" What they are not being told is a whopping tax increase is coming their way too. The truth is THAT tax increase has already arrived - I call it the "economy tax" in the form of inflation. It's the cruelest tax of all, but it is felt most acutely by those who are struggling the most in this economy. A liberal friend of mine tried to convince me there was no inflation except on things like gasoline and food, where he had noticed an increase in prices but asserted, "Other than those two areas there doesn't seem to be any inflation." Ask yourselves, are there any two areas that affect the average American citizen more than food and gasoline? My biggest concern for folks who talk this way is they don't even recognize the water temperature in the pot has reached boiling. There is no sense of urgency and a willingness to sustain the status quo. I would maintain the status quo is unsustainable.

There are many who argue every day in cyberspace that we have already gone over the fiscal cliff and there is no way back from that reality. Perhaps they are right. Unless another midnight madness deal of some kind is hammered out in Washington to avert it, taxes will increase dramatically across the board on January 1, 2013. Payroll tax withholdings will return to their normal level, meaning an increase in each paycheck of 2 percent, reducing take home pay for all wage earners. The dreaded AMT will be re-introduced to lower-level taxpayers. Tax credits for students will be eliminated. Taxes on Obamacare will begin to take effect on employers who fail to provide health insurance for their employees. Income tax rates on the small business owners whose incomes exceed $250,000 (families) and $200,000 (individuals) will increase. And let's not forget the estate tax, or "death tax," will automatically reset in 2013. Estates valued at $5 million or more which are now taxed at 35 percent, will be taxed beginning at $1 million in value at a rate of 55 percent.

This is just a partial list of horribles that awaits us if Congress fails to act. The last time around in its infinite brilliance, Congress agree on something no one had ever heard of before - "sequestration." The idea was they would put a bicameral super committee from both houses together in a room to work out the details of who, what and how everything in America would be taxed to avoid default on the national debt. Failing to come up with a solution would mean automatic drastic cuts in military spending and other programs would begin to take effect. In it all there has never been one serious proposal, except those put forward by Congressman Paul Ryan, to reduce spending in the automatic payments generated by Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and now Obamacare. THAT's where all the big spending is happening, but absolutely no serious proposals to adjust them have been advanced, except by one man - Paul Ryan.

The political wisdom has always been to leave the social spending programs alone. Americans love their entitlements. It would be political suicide to begin even tinkering around the edges, much less threatening to begin gutting them. Spending on entitlements, it is argued by their proponents, has a stimulative effect and they are providing for the social welfare of our citizens. So goes the line of reasoning that put Barack Obama back in the White House for another four years. Unless this administration can somehow "see the light" and begin working to constructively address these critical needs with Congress, we will continue to see our credit worthiness as a nation deteriorate.

Addressing these pressing fiscal issues, of course, presumes that Congress and the White House are in agreement that the national debt needs addressing and that we are running out of time. If they are thinking, as the author cited above, Lee DeCovnick, suspects, we may have entered the twilight zone where no one in Washington actually believes they must be making plans to pay it all back.

The fact that our borrowing rates as a nation are so low and interest on the national debt is so "cheap" (ONLY $34 Billion per day), what we may see in upcoming weeks from the lame duck session of the 112th Congress is nothing more than another joint press conference announcing yet another historic bipartisan agreement for continuation of the status quo.

And that would be yet another signal there are no adults working on the problems we face.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Heart Filled with Thanksgiving

This year, as we approach another national day of Thanksgiving in America, we have two LDS missionaries from our family who are currently serving. Our eldest grandson, Izach, is serving in the Iowa Des Moines Mission, and our youngest daughter, Merilee, is serving in the Washington D.C. South Mission. Their service, like that of all their counterparts around the world, represents a free gift of love as they share the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As their families who remain behind at home, we feel the blessings as they give of themselves.

I share my latest thoughts with both of them here:

Dear Elder Izach:
Dear Sister Merilee:

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s my favorite holiday, I think, since Christmas now more than ever is overrunning any and all considerations in the USA. I couldn’t believe the Christmas decorations and displays in all the retail outlets that began appearing this year earlier than ever – before Halloween!

We sometimes forget to remember to be grateful. Now more than ever I recognize how blessed I am, and how thankful I am for all I have. Chief among those blessings are our children, their spouses and grandchildren. There is no greater gift from God than a righteous posterity in whom we have received so much joy.

The knowledge of the gospel and what it is and how we implement it into our lives individually each day through faith on the Lord Jesus Christ unto repentance, making it possible to lay aside our sins and walk in a newness of life in the Spirit day by day is the very essence of our existence. Imagine life without that precious knowledge!

Faith, giving rise to hope of eternal life, producing the pure love of Christ in our lives is powerful doctrine. I have truly become a simpleton as I grow older – I am constrained to acknowledge that when we distill life into its purest essence it is not difficult or complicated or complex at all – it is simple!

We are all God’s spirit children having a brief mortal probation clothed in bodies of flesh and blood, He loves us, we must learn to love each other, then we return to live in the Spirit eternally. If we qualify through our faithfulness we live Eternal’s life, since Eternal is one of the names we apply to our Father in Heaven.

I know when we were all together in the spirit world before we came to live here, we enthusiastically supported the proposed plan of salvation – there was no wavering on our parts, because we wanted mortality. I know we all shouted for joy at the prospects of coming here, that we embraced our Elder Brother as the Firstborn Son, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, when we raised our arms to the square and sustained Him in the role of Redeemer, Savior and Messiah.

We knew the Gods personally – God the Creator, God the Redeemer, and God the Testator – even the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost. We walked with them, we were taught all that we needed to know, then we came to earth. We began life just as little Emma did (she was with us overnight this weekend, along with Andrew and Jessica) did not long ago. As infants pure and innocent, sent straight to earth from the Father of us all to inhabit a mortal body of flesh and bone and blood, they come trailing clouds of glory.

In our mortal bodies are sown the seeds of corruption from the beginning of our existence. Entropy (the tendency of all things to decay and die) took root in us as it does in everything the temporal eye can see.

Satan sought us out from the very moment of our births. We became subject to his temptations, his wiles, his lies, and his deceptions. He sought to destroy our innocence. He succeeded. Until we were eight these things mattered little to us, since we were not accountable before God for our wrong choices, but then we turned eight.

We were baptized, and we took upon ourselves the sacred covenants of baptism and membership in the kingdom of God here upon the earth. The promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost was held out to us, indeed we were commanded to “receive the Holy Ghost.” Only our willingness to submit our lives as true disciples enabled us to fulfill the commandment.

Only when we truly come unto Christ through our faith on Him can we truly be saved and sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost and His sanctifying power to purify our hearts. In and of ourselves we have no power. We do not set a goal to be good, then strive for its accomplishment on our own. There is nothing about us in our fallen condition that is good, virtuous, lovely, praiseworthy or righteous. On our own we are a miserable wreck of carnality and depravity. Without the grace and mercy and love of a God incarnate in the form of Christ, we would be lost forever in our sins.

If there is anything good in us, it is only because of the Spirit of the Holy Ghost that has come to dwell in us. We are only pure vessels as a worthy habitation for His presence when we have repented, truly repented, of our sins.

Knowing of our tendency toward entropy and backsliding, the saving ordinance of the sacrament was introduced by a loving Savior the night before His agonizing crucifixion outside the city walls of Jerusalem on Golgotha’s hill.

Each week in sacrament meeting we are put in remembrance of His body which was slain and His precious blood which was spilt for each of us. In His agonizing death and burial, then subsequent glorious resurrection on the first Sabbath morning of the third day, we find hope for ourselves to be elevated from our fallen mortal condition to a resurrection of glory comparable to Eternal’s resurrection.

We aspire as saints and disciples of Christ living in the last days to become as Eternal is in His realm – to become joint-heirs with our Elder Brother, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – possessing (no longer merely hoping) to have all that the Father hath. We aspire to be Eternal Parents, to live in the Eternal’s family forever, to be one with Him, with Christ, and with all our progenitors who so qualified for Eternal’s life.

All of it is possible only because of Jesus Christ, the only true Prototype of Eternal’s life. It is only through and in Christ that the plan of Eternal’s salvation is possible.

Now how do we come to know such a plan? All of it was lost in dark ages of sin and depravity for centuries. Down the corridors of time humanity trudged alone and without hope until the dawning of a new day in the last days.

A boy, only fourteen years old, went into a grove of trees in upstate New York to pray. He was confused by the cacophony of voices everywhere he turned. He sought truth. He determined no one knew what he longed to know. He asked God the Father in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost to reveal the truth about the various religious sects of his day. He was answered. Alone in the grove, a glorious pillar of light descended upon him until he was enveloped (even transfigured) in the light. Without that transforming, transfiguring power transferred to him by the very glorifying presence of the Father and Son, Joseph would have been literally consumed and annihilated as a mere mortal man.

But he survived the light, and from that day forward remained a pure and enlightened vessel, though he continued to struggle in the flesh. He beheld and spoke directly to the Father and the Son that brilliant spring day in 1820. The heavens were opened anew. The Restoration began. Of that fact I am a witness.

After that initial encounter with Deity, there came a stream of visitors from the other side of the veil to instruct and teach. Hundreds of ancient prophets appeared and taught the boy prophet. Finally, in 1827, on the morning of September 22, he was ready. He was led to the plates compiled by the ancient worthies Mormon and Moroni.

How convenient that he was living only a short distance from the hill where the sacred record had lain buried for centuries.

How convenient that the veil of darkness was burst by the very Moroni who had hid them up as his last act in mortality.

How convenient that this mere boy without any formal education was thought to be so clever as to have concocted such a tall tale.

How convenient that when it was brought forth out of the ground that the voice from the dust has withstood all the tests of authenticity without fail all these many years since.

How convenient that we have the record at our fingertips and can examine its contents for ourselves, and not have to rely upon first the words of three witnesses, then later eleven, who saw and handled those plates of such rare quality and saw and heard the angelic ministrant, Moroni, bear record of their truths.

How convenient, yes, but more than convenient – the word is more accurately “how true.”

Imagine the sacrifice, the blood, the sweat and the tears, the human extremity necessary to have produced those plates we now have! Imagine the faith, the painstaking faith, required to have preserved and left for a latter-day boy prophet the task to bring the record forth from the ground to publish it to the world as the saving document, the tangible evidence of the mercy and love of the Father and the Son for all the spirit children of Eternal’s family unit.

Then think about all the billions of Eternal’s children who never had the blessing of learning the truths of the fullness of the gospel while they lived in mortality! Think of the mercy, the justice, to make available to all of them without exception the ordinances of Eternal’s life – to have the same opportunity as those who had actually lived and received the glorious truths of the gospel while they lived in the flesh.

What provision, what foresight, what fairness, what love! I truly can scarcely take it all in.

Wilford Woodruff and John Taylor both testified that there would few IF ANY who, when presented with the gospel message in the spirit world, would reject it. They will be judged the same as us – they will qualify for Eternal’s life too.

For us it remains to improve upon the days of our probation by learning two invaluable lessons – to repent and to forgive – and by so doing put into implementation in our lives the saving power of the gospel so it can truly save us.

When we first embrace the gospel we go through a gate. That gate is baptism. Baptism leads to a path. That path is the strait and narrow path. “Strait” literally means narrow though it sometimes winds hither and thither during our mortal journey. That path leads upward, through mists of darkness, through temptations of all kinds imaginable. We are buffeted, mocked by others, tested and tried in all things.

Along side that path is an iron rod. The imagery is of something tangible, solid, easily within reach, yet it symbolizes something totally spiritual, elusive and often difficult to discern. The word of God is Spirit essence at its best, only to be understood by those who seek it with all their hearts, minds, strength and souls. The promise is that we will have a companion on that journey up the strait and narrow path.

As we cling to the word of God, as we implement its entreaties in our daily living, as we seek to purify our lives week by week at the sacrament table, making spiritual realities grow out of our physical acts of partaking of the bread and water – then and only then do we receive token down payments along our way of what our state and station in Eternal’s realms of glory. These are the glorious principles of truth we teach.

I have summarized here the essence of what I have said in many, many Sunday lessons, sermons and writings over the years. Missionaries like you often attended those meetings with their investigators. I think of you with your investigators each time I attend Sunday meetings and the temple, as we did last Thursday night with our stake. I always wonder what goes through the hearts of the missionaries and the investigators as they sit in those meetings. When I teach, I am only interested in answering the prayers of those missionaries that the speaker won’t blow it for their investigators. I have always tried to deliver the message the Spirit gives me. I always bear pure testimony. I keep it simple. No matter what the topic of the meeting where we are asked to speak, I try to lay out for investigators my witness of the precious truths they are studying with the missionaries.

For all these things and more I am eternally grateful to my Eternal Father and my Savior Jesus Christ. Imagine life without what we know! Can you even imagine it? It’s no wonder these truths, once embraced, truly change lives with transforming power and cleansing sanctifying effect. That you are engaged in the very essence of bringing these truths to the human family where you labor fills me with gratitude and thanksgiving unlike anything I’ve ever experienced to this point in my life.




Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Were You Thinking? You Elected Obama!

Let me say it one more time. My basic inclination is to maintain a positive outlook on life. I resist any and all attempts by others to paint me into the corner of "victimhood." However, after the results of this last presidential election I feel like I was violated. I've never been mugged on Mean Street, USA, but this came awfully close when I imagine what it might feel like.

I feel like my generation owes an apology to my children and grandchildren and generations of my progeny not yet born. Even though it will do little to change the outcome, I offer my apology for what it's worth. I didn't donate much money to anyone in this election cycle, but my preferences are well-known on these pages and easily discerned. My preferred candidate, Mitt Romney, lost, but America lost more. We will never know what might have been by walking past Romney, perhaps the best qualified candidate for president we will ever see in America.

President Barack Obama
The electorate, however, has spoken. I know the majority picked Barack Hussein Obama. I also realize I no longer can be considered part of the majority. I didn't get what I wanted in this election (that happens routinely now). But to you who voted for Obama, I wonder if you only got what you THOUGHT you wanted.

By voting for Obama there is an increasing chance you have helped to destroy this nation. Layoffs are mounting in just the last week. The cruel realities of the excessive taxation associated with Obamacare have now begun to take their toll. Just today we learned three Hostess plants that make Twinkies were forced to close. The unions, warned of what would happen, went out on strike. Over 600 jobs were lost. The list of closures will continue. We've also heard from Papa John's and others, and there will be more. They will cut back on the hours worked by their remaining employees in order to avoid having to insure them under Obamacare. Elections DO have consequences.

Let me explain further about what happened during Obama's first four years to help you understand what you've done by re-electing him. During his first four years, Obama effectively nationalized the housing industry and slowed recovery by intervening. Then he gobbled up the automobile industry and crowned the unions while eliminating secured creditors. Next was the medical industry, almost 20 percent of our economy, by enacting Obamacare. You can label all this any way you choose, but the most accurate label I can put on it is socialism. If his first term is the preamble, his second term will accelerate the nationalism of the airlines, oil and gas and power. Already, we have seen the impact of Obama's policies on the coal industry. By taxing the end users to generate electricity, he's killed their markets and coal miners are losing their jobs. It would be safe to assume we will see more borrowed and tax money "invested" by our government into untested and unproven “green” industries.

The exit polling reveals that single women voted overwhelmingly for Obama. I confess I was baffled by the birth control question that arose during the primary debates. I couldn't imagine where that came from. In the general election we learned the strategy. Obama targeted women to garner votes solely based upon free government access to reproductive decisions by mandating that health care providers (then later the insurance companies) give out free birth control pills and provide abortions no matter where women and their infants were in their gestation development. It was all couched in "freedom of choice" language, or a woman's "right to choose."

That's such a compelling benefit - birth control on the front end (have sex indiscriminately) and abortion on demand (kill that growing fetus if you choose not to give birth). It's a failsafe world for women now - freedom to avoid pregnancy and freedom to terminate it when they ignore the first choice. Note the abuse of the words "free" and "freedom." Do you know, or have you ever spoken to someone who had an abortion, regardless of the cause of the pregnancy? Lost in all the discussion about "choice" and "freedom" is this: abortion is "akin" if not "equated" to murder.

Let's talk about immigration next. You may not know it, but by voting for Obama, you have virtually assured an ever-expanding definition of amnesty. Why? To further strengthen the voter base among Hispanics. Along with it will come legitimacy to those who entered America illegally.

Here's the rest of the story on what your federal government will be doing. It will assure huge payments for housing, subsistence, medical care, and free secondary education at the public expense. The reasoning is flawed, but it's simple - by handing out all those government sponsored goodies illegals will be embraced and will vote for the socialist regime that dispenses them.

What about drug laws? One would expect another four-year Obama term to further relax enforcement on drug laws with lighter penalties, while increasing regulations on legitimate businesses. Sixty new regulations have been put into place in the last thirty days. Expect significantly more relaxed drug laws and far less severe punishments for drug use. In the aftermath, watch for a huge expenditure on government drug treatment centers and increasing costs to feed and house the rapidly growing numbers of non-productive citizens.

Is that really what YOU voted for? My guess is you didn't really care much because if you don't pay taxes why would you be worried about how taxes are spent?

Don't be too surprised if God continues to disappear from our public expression and our devalued currency and coin. If you don't care about or believe in God, you won't be too concerned. The concept of separation of church and state (NOT Constitutional) will be cemented into our national fabric if it isn't already. The Constitution prohibits the establishment of religion by the state, not the free and open dialogue and expression of religion in the public square. We've seen the secularists raising objections to our use of the name Jesus Christ associated with Christmas. What will another four or eight or twelve years bring in the way of "progress" on this front?

How about foreign policy? There's already a creeping suspicion about Obama's ethnic origins and hence his loyalties. He's bowed before the Saudi princes, the Japanese hierarchy and others in the Muslim world. His tendency is to ignore the global reality of radical Islamic terrorists. He would like us to believe that silliness all ended with the assassination of Osama bin Laden. One could easily envision increasing accommodation of radical Islam with ongoing disregard for Christianity. Did anyone sense how evident that was during the last four years? What will another four produce? Is that what you wanted by voting for Obama?

Here's what your vote for Obama really means, and the one most troubling to me. My guess is that at least two, perhaps three, Supreme Court Justices will retire during the next four years. If you wanted a more "progressive" interpretation of the Constitution by the Supreme Court, then your vote for Obama all but assures it. Many lower court judges will also be replaced with more and more liberal progressive confirmations than ever before. My suspicion is that that morality will no longer be the ideal, rather the baseline will be the socialist ideals.

I read only this morning that forty states, powered by Tea Party activists, are mounting petition drives to secede from the Union.

Here's what your vote also signals - a severe dilution through taxation of the Second Amendment. Since you probably don't know what it is, it covers the right to bear arms. All that is required is taxation on ammunition to kill the marketplace. In the last week, it's the fear of that reality prompting a surge among our fellow citizens to buy up guns and ammunition while they still can at a reasonable price.

Do you believe Obama's tendency to either ignore or bypass the Constitution will be accelerated in his second term? Bet on it. His use of executive orders to enforce his policies rather than taking them to Congress to enact legislation will increase because he has a divided Congress.

There are also troubling signs the U.N. will exert more control over our sovereign rights as Americans. There may be arms reduction treaties and Internet taxes designed to be enforced by the U.N. The discussions are already underway. Does it concern you that Obama picked up endorsements for his second term from Putin, Castro, Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? What does that mean to you if you voted for Obama? Is that really the America you envisioned with your vote?

I wonder if we are not now fully enslaved by socialism. Have we reached the tipping point? Can we never again muster enough votes to turn back the surging tide? Since we are now north of $16 Trillion in debt as a nation, rather than firing up the cylinders of the American economic engine, we have fouled the pistons perhaps beyond repair. I would have favored a "mechanic" like Mitt Romney to look under the hood, rather than a guy who confessed he never got past seventh-grade math. He said on Letterman, "I don't really keep track of what the national debt is." This from the one president in our history who added more debt in four years than all the presidents in our history for a similar period.  Ignorance is no excuse, Mr. President.

I've said it before, but if you CONFISCATED all the total private wealth in America it would not begin to reduce the national debt. I nursed the notion throughout this election cycle that with Romney and Ryan on the job we could extend the time before our financial collapse as a nation.

Now all bets are off. Is that too pessimistic? I'm sorry about that too.

My hope now resides in unforeseen EVENTS I cannot predict. Historically, presidential second terms have been unsuccessful, typically because the truth about what has been concealed in the first term has a tendency to rise and administrations become embroiled in them to a point they are not sustainable. Beware of the Benghazi debacle - the worst of it is yet to come. The resignation of David Petraeus as CIA Chief is only the tip of that iceberg.

This will go down as the most expensive presidential campaign in history. What was accomplished by the combined expenditure of over $6 Billion? We bought ourselves the status quo - gridlock in Washington.

We've been here before, and we'll likely be here again. Wait for the pendulum to swing back again. It will.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Obama Won! Pass the Ice Cream

When I was a boy growing up on the newly paved streets of Rose Park, a post-World War II neighborhood in suburban Salt Lake City, the ice cream truck made its daily appearance. Like the Pied Piper, its tinny calliope music wafted through the backyards, and whatever we were doing at the moment came to a screeching halt as the Pavlovian response kicked in and we raced to the edge of the curb for whatever delights were being offered. Back in the day it wasn't very expensive to buy ice cream - they practically gave it away. I witnessed many a young child kicking and screaming for his mother to give him or her a nickel to buy ice cream.

The dissection of the 2012 presidential race has begun in earnest. Everyone you read this week is a lot smarter than they were last week.

To the victor the spoils - President Obama and VP Biden
I followed the prodigious conventional wisdom of Karl Rove, Scott Rasmussen, Michael Barone, Pat Caddell, and Dick Morris, even George Will, all of whom predicted a landslide for Mitt Romney. They reasoned the turnout of voters for Barack Obama would be weakened from what it was in 2008, based upon Obama’s poor performance by almost every measurement available. It was a failed presidency, they asserted, and they were right about that. They opined people would certainly relate to their pain at the pump, their declining wages, the Benghazi debacle and the unemployment rates. They (and I) were following the signs of all the earmarks associated with the 1980 election, where Ronald Reagan overtook the incumbent POTUS, Jimmy Carter, at the finish line and thoroughly thrashed him. Back then there was also massive unemployment, gas lines, an Iran hostage crisis, and on and on. Someone even devised a "misery index" and Obama had managed to outpace Carter on that index. Slam dunk election for Romney, one would think. Malaise was the word of the day in 1980. Carter, like Obama, warned it was the new normal. The political climate in 2012, it seemed to me, was ripe for a repeat of history.

However, it was not to be. This is not 1980, and it turns out Barack Obama is no Jimmy Carter.

If anything, his demographic constituencies not only held up from 2008, they replicated and reaffirmed their choice in 2012. Blacks, Latinos, single women and people who were indifferent to religion (the youth voters) all fell in line and turned out in a massive wave of support for Obama. That said, he still collected 9 million fewer voters than he did in 2008, it’s just that Romney attracted 2 million fewer voters than McCain. Worse, those who identified themselves as Mormons in the exit polling sampling were fewer in numbers this year than in 2004. That means fewer Mormons voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 than voted for George W. Bush in 2004. So much for the argument that the Mormon voting bloc was a force to be reckoned with. All the other religious groups, however, voiced stronger support for Romney this year than before.

The result was a narrow victory for Barack Obama in the popular vote, but a convincing vote total in the electoral college.

None of the Republican pollsters saw that coming. They were all basing their models on the 2010 mid-term results that showed a depressed electorate for Obama and a reliable resurgence for conservatism. I was certain the electorate was reflecting and embracing my values. That’s called “projection” in psychological terms, never a good idea when making political calculations. Turns out everyone in America really doesn’t think the way I do. Shocker!

However, the exit polling revealed something I did predict and something I didn’t. The pollsters asked voters which of four characteristics they most wanted to see in their president. Mitt Romney won among voters who chose three of those characteristics: shares my values, is a strong leader and has a vision for the future. What’s more, he carried them heavily, by between nine and 23 points. In all, 79 percent of voters selected one of these characteristics. That’s the part I accurately predicted. They were thinking exactly like me.

Romney lost because he lost among those who chose the remaining characteristic — by 63 points, 81-18. That characteristic? Cares about people like me. Wow, didn’t see that one coming at all. All the negativity hurled at Mitt Romney all summer long in the key battleground states actually paid off for Obama, it seems. Romney was a rich white guy with no compassion for others. The record says just the opposite, but Romney never had a chance against the negative barrage.

I guess I’m just old-fashioned. I don’t really care if a politician cares about people like me. I’ve done just fine all my life without having to rely upon politicians who supposedly are loving and caring. Truth is I’ve lived long enough to realize there isn’t a politician alive who cares about me, nor do I expect him/her to care about me.

In most cases my expectations are very low when it comes to the political class. I’d be grateful if they’d just pass a balanced budget, provide for the national defense, print the currency, and run a good post office. If recent results are any indication, they can’t even seem to get those simple tasks right.

But this election has taught me something. Republicans at the very time when the nation’s financial future is hanging in the balance decided to sit this election out. Based on reports I’ve read, only 33% of registered Republicans nationwide showed up to vote. That’s deplorable. The only bright spot was a net pick-up of seats in the House of Representatives. Apart from that we voted (after $6 Billion from both sides) for more status quo and more contention. Hardly a satisfactory outcome.

After Chief Justice John Roberts ruled on Obamacare, it was clear to me he would not make the SCOTUS responsible for our bad political choices. He said as much in his majority ruling upholding the law as a tax. Implicit in his message was the Congress has unlimited taxing authority. If you don’t like higher taxes, he said, then vote for people to represent you who will oppose higher taxes. He left the decision in the hands of voters in this election.

The majority have now spoken. They said they wanted Obamacare with all its attendant problems. Just since Tuesday we have seen businesses large and small announce cutbacks in their work forces. Why? The number one reason cited is they cannot afford the higher taxes associated with paying for Obamacare.

This stunning disconnect is self-evident. Voters simply cannot make the connection that a government powerful enough to promise you free healthcare is also powerful enough to confiscate enough in taxes to pay for it. The IRS is our new taskmaster, if they never were before. Remember, the government does not operate on revenue derived from any other source than taxpayers. Said another way, the government has no money beyond what it takes from your pocket or borrows from others. The government always runs on other people’s money. That’s why we have reached a point where our credit worthiness as a nation has been downgraded and will continue to slide.

Others will protest, thinking that a government can and should take care of the poor among us, those who can’t afford to pay their own way. It’s such a noble premise, but it is in the end nothing but an empty gesture. Firing up the printing presses and issuing government bonds, borrowing from foreign governments, buying our own securities and filling up our Treasury with worthless paper debt is NOT a sustainable fiscal path.

This could all go away in time if there were enough economic growth to warrant all the borrowing. However, we haven’t seen the economic growth policies that must include reduced government spending, an atmosphere free from the overhang of regulation that stifles innovation and risk taking, and enough certainty that government will not intrude when private capital is invested.

This administration has never understood those basic economic principles. Or, maybe they DID understand and are intentionally doing all they can to undermine our system. Whether it has been intentional or was done in ignorance, the results of our anemic economic recovery have been dismal. On the Letterman show recently, President Obama half jokingly stated he wasn’t very good at math. He said anything beyond seventh-grade math was a mystery to him. That might be the most truthful statement to ever escape his lips given the record of the last four years. Fears of a new intensified recession (since we can't say the Great Recession has really ended, can we?) are now beginning to surface as news of layoffs continues to spread.

We are in deep, deep trouble as a nation, and most of our wounds are self-inflicted. The Canadian Free Press blazed its front page with a distressing headline on Wednesday morning: “America Committed Suicide.” In the days ahead don’t be surprised to see the sentiment repeated.

In Mitt Romney we had an unusually gifted and talented successful businessman put forward his candidacy as the antidote for the ailments of America. He wasn’t looking for a job, only offering his skills to help address the issues head on. He might have been the best-qualified presidential candidate we will ever see. As his running mate he picked the only man in America currently serving in the Congress as the House Budget Chairman who had put forward a plan to begin sanely addressing our fiscal crisis. What we learned in the aftermath of the election is apparently fitness for office and qualifications don’t matter as much anymore. To hear the voters tell it they were more interested in politicians who were more patrician based on some undefined criteria - “caring about people like me.”

That squishy feel good caring feeling they seem to get from our current POTUS is deeply troubling to me. Whatever happened to self-reliance and hard work to carve out your own “feel goods?” It smacks of a society that has been convinced by conniving politicians that the government has an answer for everything, and that is NOT the America we cherished growing up. Mitt Romney wisely observed it was “trickle-down government.”

A wise and caring parent with a child who is diseased and malnourished might suggest medicine and vegetables instead of ice cream, like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan did in this election cycle. Fearing austerity, the children of the electorate opted instead for sweet treats instead. It seems they want to sustain the unsustainable for as long as possible.

But we may have reached a tipping point in America where the sickly inexperienced child may have become so dependent it only knows to kick and scream for more ice cream.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mitt Romney's Closing Argument

This might be Mitt's best speech yet. . .

If there's any chance you're still undecided, first, what's wrong with your thought process? This is the future leader of the America we once knew and loved, not the pretender who sought to fundamentally transform America the way he has the last four years.

Mitt Romney is the best hope America has to fix the soaring debt and deficits, rehabilitate the underlying accuarial assumptions in Medicare and Social Security, and introduce the fundamentals back into addressing our budget and fiscal decision making.

There is no chance that four years of the same thing we've seen from the current administration is going to improve America. Four more years of THAT will sink America.