“The real problem is not that we are different, nor that we disagree and have conflict. It's that most of us automatically view conflict as something negative rather than as a tool God can use to help us better understand ourselves and one another.

--Robert Ricciardelli”

Thursday, October 26, 2006

My Election Thoughts Part 4

Election Thoughts Part 1
Election Thoughts Part 2
Election Thoughts Part 3

Before we go on with my Election Issue thoughts, I thought I would share what I think is a very accurate comment on American Politics from Arnold King:

The incumbent Republicans in Congress have done everything possible to merit being tossed out as bums. They have abused power, focused on entrenchment, and acted aloof and arrogant when called to account…Of course, no one has to remind me that the Democrats are at least as guilty of arrogance, entrenchment, and tendency to abuse power. Incumbents of both parties deserve to be tossed out as bums.

The whole article is decent, and fair to a point. Neither side has a lot going for it in terms of fine up-standing citizenship. But, they are both VERY good at finding the faults of the other.

(…why oh why do we always listen to the spin doctors and let them change what we believe…)

Anyway, back the issues at hand…

If the truth is ever actually told, we spend more per student in America than many other developed nations. And, yet, we are among the worst at giving our students an education that actually prepares them for the future. We worry more about teacher performance than we do about our kids getting a good knowledge base. More and more of our legislation seems oriented towards indoctrination, too. What good is all the indoctrination if our kids cannot compete in the global marketplace. Before the trend to socialized education, we at least had children who could compete. So, where has all this indoctrination gotten us? I think one place to look for better methods is homeshcooling.

Before you go off about being a religious indoctrinator, you should go back and read this 2003 article from The New York Times. This portion is particularly appropriate for our discussion:
Newcomers to home schooling resist easy classification as part of the religious right or freewheeling left, who dominated the movement for decades, according to those who study the practice.

They come to home schooling fed up with the shortcomings of public education and the cost of private schools. Add to that the new nationwide standards — uniform curriculum and more testing — which some educators say penalize children with special needs, whether they are gifted, learning disabled or merely eccentric.
All the worry about homeschoolers really concerns me—especially since according to this October 2006 AP report homeschoolers turn out kids who can study, learn and compete in the global market. Most homeschoolers work with a shoestring budget, and accomplish amazing results. Since money hasn’t solved the public education problem, let’s try using some of the homeschooling methods.

(…and, for the record, I am not advocating everyone be homeschooled. That is something to be considered very carefully before getting into it. It requires a lot of commitment to your children, and a lot of sacrifices by yourself and your family....but, the methodology…that’s something to look at very seriously…and, by the way, special needs and learning difficulties not being met by the public school are how we got into homeschooling...my wife and I are in our third year...)

Wealth Redistribution And Welfare Reform
The Democrats are known for supporting and expanding the welfare program. Many of them are also known for being in favor of tax increases for the rich. But, let’s get serious…how many of them have actually voted in such an increase? John Kerry, to use one example, has…how many houses…valued at how much money? And, this is a champion for the poor? Let’s be real! If we were to actually go about a redistribution of wealth, like so many liberals are espousing, the Democrats in power would lose as much as the Republicans. Personally, I don’t see it happening.

Now, about welfare…. The welfare program started wonderfully. It was necessary and needed. But, it was originally meant to be temporary. I tend to agree with most conservatives. Nowadays, sadly, it has become more of an entitlement program than anything else. Yes, I do know (…from personal experience in the programs, mind you…) there are people in our society that need these programs. I also know (…also from personal experience in the programs, mind you…) there are a lot of people out there using it as a means not to work. The welfare system, as it is designed, is cumbersome, bureaucratic, and, as are most government institutions, self-justifying. The system needs to change, in order for the habits of people to change. If any reform proposed does not move in that direction, I think it’s a waste of legislative time and effort. That is what I think of welfare.

I thought the quote below was a great summary of taxation. You can find it in the comments section of This posting on Zucker’s new ad. (…believe it or not, I haven’t watched the thing…or the previous one for that matter…)
History has borne out that whenever the marginal tax rate is cut (i.e the Bush tax cuts) the government actually takes in more revenue. 10% of 100,000 is more that 12% of 80,000 with the 20,000 increase representing being the new "wealth/income" generated by the economic stimulous supplied by extra capital available for investment (of course it is a bit more complex than this but this is a nice summary). It was true when Wilson did it, when JFK did it, when Reagan did it and when Bush did it. So yes, it is better when we spend the money that we have but history teaches us that the surest way to get more money into the gov't's coffers is to cut the tax rates.

History also teaches us that when taxes are raised the economy slows down and the government's revenue either goes down or does not grow as fast as projected. See Bill Clinton's tax hike. The resultant effect on the economy reduced the projected increase in revenue by 51%. In other words, if, on paper, the tax hike would increase revenue by 100,000 the negative impact on the economy actually reduced the gov't's increase in revenue to 49,000. Check it out at: http://www.ncpa.org/pd/economy/ecoa4b.html.
Each side has their favorite place to slash funds. And, each side has their favorite place to spend funds. The important thing to remember is that both political parties are spend-a-holics. It’s just a matter of how they will go about getting their money to spend. The Democrats want to cut defense spending and find other sources (...read taxes...). The Republicans want to cut welfare, and also find other sources of revenue. I don't like either of those solutions, in toto. Cutting defense will further weaken an already depleted military ability in an increasingly violent world. And, while welfare is, I believe over used and under restrained, I see the need for it.

So that means any real tax reform must elevate the tax rates on the wealthiest and reduce it for others—proportionate to income. But, it has to be done in suich a way as to not inhibit investment and entrepreneurial efforts. That is the cry of those who oppose tax increases for the wealthy. So, the question becomes which party will actually make corporate America and the rich pony up to the table and pay a more equitable share of government revenue, and how will they do it, as opposed to making the middle class pay more in order to perpetuate the current system. (…see my comments on Wealth Redistribution And Welfare Reform above for more of the same…)