Saturday, February 24, 2007

Survey Says: Irritated

I recently received a member survey from Mike Duncan at the RNC. Hurray!

Two questions into it I decided that my efforts to educate the people at the RNC were going to be in vain - as soon as my survey is received sans check, in the trash it would go. Now that I think of it, I'd bet they toss the ones that come back with checks, for that matter.

Question 1: Do I think it is important to make the President's tax cuts permanent? Answer: Are you kidding me? Taxes on personal income should be abolished, not reduced. Taxes should be based on consumption, as a wise man once noted, for they are a natural check against the growth of government.

Question 2: Is it important to provide incentives for businesses to create new jobs? Answer: What the deuce are you talking about? Businesses create jobs because they can deliver a product or service that people want. If they're able to do this, and they're not creating jobs, it's because government needs to get out of the way.

Question 3: Line-item veto important? Answer: Have these people any idea at all about the way government used to work? If a piece of legislation reaches the President's desk that is Constitutionally inconsistent, veto that piece of trash and send it back to Congress! Will some branch of government - any one would do! - please stand up and execute its Constitutional duties?

Several questions later...

Question 6: Important to reform our immigration laws? Answer: What's the minimum criteria for getting a job at the RNC, a pulse? How about we start with enforcing the immigration laws we have? Let's try that first, then we can talk about reforming them, whatever that means. This is like a patient in the ER who has been run over by a car, and the attending surgeon says: "Let's get that broken nose set before we go any further."

Question 7: Important to increase border security? Answer: No, let's just open the borders up and let anyone at all into the country. Wait. Sorry. We're already doing that! Should this be a big surprise, though? I mean, after all, Mel Martinez (General Chairman, whatever that means) probably had some input in the survey.

Didn't we used to be the party of ideas? Principles? Since when does the GOP need to take the temperature of regular people to determine what the right policies are? Answer: Since they lost touch with regular people, probably sometime after 1994.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gross Taxes

Illinois is in a heap of trouble. Pandering to the least common denominator, buying votes, and a lack of self-government has gotten us here. The question is: what'll get us out?

According to my sources at the Chamber, for fiscal 2007, the State will have $28.8B in receipts. To fund true costs, approximately $5.9B more would be needed. Worse yet, when you total up all of the State's debts and unfunded obligations (apart from general obligation bonds), the price tag is a whopping $106B, or roughly $8,800 per person for the 12 million residents of Illinois.

(deep breath)

OK, this is very bad, and appears to be getting worse. We're the worst in the Union with respect to unfunded pension liabilities: $46B. This number is going to grow - rapidly - while the State continues to operate in the red. And we'll continue to operate in the red as long as the General Assembly sees fit to spend exorbitantly on pensions and health care for State employees and dream up anti-competitive measures like the Gross Receipts Tax (GRT).

The GRT works like this. You own a business and sell your services for $100. Before you factor in any of your costs and expenses, the State taxes a cut right off the top of 1%. This affects every business in the product cycle. So if you sell $100 of steel to a manufacturer, you pay 1%. If the manufacturer makes a product (say, a truck part) and sells it to a distributor for $250, he pays 1% of that amount. If the distributor sells it to another party (who uses the part to modify a truck chassis, for example) for $300, the distributor pays 1%. The last party sells a truck with the part in it for $500, and pays his 1% fee. You can see quickly how Illinois businesses will be directly hurt via the pocketbook, and how indirectly they'll be hurt by companies seeking parts or raw materials from neighboring states like Indiana or (shudders) Wisconsin.

I told you what has gotten us here, but let me elaborate just a bit. Businesses have been accused of not paying their fair share of taxes, while education and entitlement programs have spiraled out of control. I'm no disciple of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. I'm in business, but when you get right down to it, so is most everyone else who has a job. My point is this: I'm no defender of business, just for the sake of defending business. But I am, I like to think, fair.

Folks, we have a self-government problem, and there's a solution. As I've said before, and I'll keep saying it, most government programs should be pushed to the most local levels possible. County for sure. Township preferably, City ideally. Then, when the bills come due, people get to decide: as residents of our town, do we want our taxes to be used to pay for out-of-market retirement benefits for municipal employees? For classroom expenditures that serve to supplement parental involvement? For universal heath care coverage? Then, and I think only then, are we going to see a return to common sense. People will rediscover self-government in their DNA - no, it's not gone, it's just been dulled and underutilized.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Barack Obama is Bad for America

So he made his announcement today. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to scream or cry...?

Once and for all, I'd like to put the fascination with Sen. Obama behind us. The MSM loves this guy. And his shameless, outrageous, and inappropriate "branding" as a modern day Lincoln is an insult of the highest order. I'm sure that our 16th President would just love a pretender like Obama invoking his name for political gain. Obama is to Lincoln as Saddam Hussein is to Ghandi; the comparison makes no sense. Obama isn't even close to "great" Democrats in history like FDR or Truman. He's a groomed and polished Jimmy Carter with better communication skills.

Here's what I'd like to do. Given that people have so little understanding of where the Senator stands on the issues, as a public service, I'll spell his positions out for you. I'll use his website as a source, so you can check for yourself and share this with others. I'm going to use the man's words, folks, so please let people know who and what they're going to be supporting when they support this candidate. If I hear one more person say that he's a fresh new leader I think I'm going to be sick. Anyway, here goes.

On Taxation: The Senator thinks the tax code has become too complex and "unfair" and is need of reform. So far, this follows his modus operandi - speak in platitudes so absurdly generalized that they can't be criticized. You almost expect him to follow a statement like this with something really controversial, like, I don't know, "Women are people too." The Senator thinks that "Reform options should focus on creating a system that is simple, progressive, easy to comply with and devoid of abusive shelters." Translation: the redistribution of wealth as it currently is designed should remain ("progressive") and there are too many means of avoiding taxes as the system stands. On taxation, the Senator's position is in line with the majority of his party, which is out of touch with most Americans. Shall we continue?

On Energy: The Senator supports alternative fuels, raising automobile fuel efficiency standards, investing in new technologies, and taxing oil companies so they don't make as much money (somehow, beyond comprehension, he calls this "Working to Lower High Gas Prices."). If indeed we are too dependent on foreign oil, we could open up increased offshore drilling right by these United States, if the environmental lobbies/interests would allow it (they won't). Last I checked, no new nuclear reactors are being built in the United States, for that matter. I'll give you three guesses why that isn't happening, and the first two don't count.

On Iraq: The Senator actually makes the effort to separate Iraq and National Defense; the sheer stupidity of this isn't worth the time to address. On his inability to discern the critical role of our presence in Iraq alone he should be disqualified from seeking the Presidency (and if I had my way, removed from the Senate). However, for the record, the Senator wants US forces out of Iraq by March 31, 2008 - about 13 and a half months from now. You know who thinks that's a good idea? Registered Democrats, everyone who works at either ABC News, CBS News, CNN or MSNBC, most Europeans, the Chinese and the Russians. Oh yeah, and the Terrorists.

On the Environment, On Immigration, On Education, On Health Care... oh Dear Lord, this could take a week! I suppose that if indeed Obama is the fraud that I think he is, he'll either be exposed in the Primaries or in the General Election. Forgive me for not being confident in the citizenry's ability to recognize a fool when he presents himself. Nor in the GOP's ability to just pound a lightweight like Obama.

I'm sure I'll have just as many objections to the eventual nominees from both parties, and since we've got a long way to go, I'll give it a rest for now. ;)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The Good and the Bad

The good, at least I think so, upon a quick glance. Newt has an organization called American Solutions. Worth checking out. He keeps sending me e-mails about it...

The bad? Governor of Texas, Rick Perry. I won't even do it justice, but check out this link to Mr. Light Bulb's blog.


Rather than leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, check out Coulter's latest column, which is always a treat.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Clock Building

Something Mr. Hargis said in his comments to my post entitled Update has got me thinking. You're not wrong, my friend, but I do feel compelled to clarify something (you only have yourself to blame for this compulsion; you realize this, right?). You said:

Some people go into business hoping to make a quick killing and retire to some tropical island. No doubt some go into politics for the same reason, but for most businessmen and politicians success equals longevity. If there's any difference it's that few go into business hoping to change the world; they just want to make money.

Now, here's where we diverge. The great ones in any field are what Jim Collins called "clock builders" in his groundbreaking book, Good to Great. Anyone can tell you what time it is, but the really great ones build clocks, and these will tell time long after we've passed on.

I really think that any organization needs to take conscious steps to building a franchise, and this involves organizational mechanisms and rigorous development of human capital. This applies in just about any organization, and I'm going to go dust off GtG and share some more pearls of wisdom. More to follow.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Someone once told me that if all we're doing is sitting at our computers typing fiery prose then we're not much better than people who do nothing at all. I may not have that exactly right - in fact I'm absolutely sure it was more eloquent than that - but the sentiment is dead-on, at any rate. My friend was right: that's the same thing as lighting a candle and then covering it with a bushel basket. Put that light on a lamp-stand, Brother!

So, here's what I've been up to, without giving away too much. I've gotten more involved at the Township level in the only party I'd even consider a remote association with. This is good for me; it's easy to complain about how things are run at the national and State levels. It's another thing altogether to accept responsibility for fixing what we might perceive to be problems. There's no victims here, right? Nobody calling out in the darkness "where have our leaders gone." Right? Plus, candidly, there's a little on-the-job training I'm getting for next to nothing.

I'm also helping out a great guy in a mayoral election however I can, and I'm considering creating an advocacy organization in town for the homeowner's associations in our area. It's with great pride that I'm staking out ground in support of residents (aka the little guy) that seems like the worst possible position when considering my profession (commercial lending and finance). Yep, I'm principled, and I'll prove it to you by forsaking a successful career, just you watch me.

"Where the h*ll has that Monarchist been?" you may have thought in passing lately. I'm still as passionate as ever, but if I have periods of quiet, it's because I'm taking that friend's advice I mentioned before, and - Lord, there it is again! - seeking balance in my efforts.

There's a risk here: people start to listen and I need to drop the anonymity and get real about how this fits with what I'm supposed to do with my life and what my ambitions are. I might have to take that most terrifying of all things - a chance. By no means are we there yet, but I'll hope that should that one day arrive, you'll remember Dear Reader, that we started this together, and by God, we'll finish it if given the chance.

Hopefully this month will give us more chances to talk. After all, you're such a great listener!