Friday, December 6, 2013

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

Keep your eye on House Bill 3638 sponsored by Representative Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon. This bill proposes a road usage fee that would tax drivers for every mile they drive. Blumenauer wants to nearly double the gas tax from 18.4 cents per gallon to 33.4 immediately as a short term revenue enhancement while the road usage fee is being studied. To make the system work, tracking devices would be fitted onto every automobile to track distances driven and locations. As fewer Americans work and therefore drive less miles, the revenue from the gas tax has not kept up with the demands for repairs and new construction of our nation's transportation infrastructure. There is no doubt that some of our nation's roads and bridges are in dire need of repair and upgrades. In considering revenue options to fund these repairs, a vehicle mileage tax conceptually sounds like a reasonable alternative. I do not, however, want the federal government tracking my driving habits. And there is no assurance that Washington will lower the current gasoline tax if a vehicle mileage tax is implemented. This is a proposal that merits our attention as it progresses through Congress.

Asked Siri, "Surely it's not going to rain today?" She said, "It is. And don't call me Shirley." I forgot to take my phone off Airplane mode.

Our country has made a decided turn left- we all know that. We have moved toward more socialism. President Obama this week made another bold proposal in a speech about income inequality, saying that incomes should be "more equal", which is political speak for re-distribution. Now we can argue about income inequality, and so you know, I believe huge disparities are not good for the economy or society. But it equally as bad when we create a distorted economic system that does not allow for free movement through all economic strata. Part of the problem we face in our nation now is that our schools turn out workers ill equipped to compete in the global economy. We compound that problem with a myriad of regulations and onerous taxes that impede job growth. And overarching all of this is a leadership in Washington that has no real clue about how to grow jobs. Our lack of fundamental economic education in this country means that too many people give credence to a specious argument about raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. We as a nation have to come to the reality that hurting the producers and job creators in society does not raise the standard of living for all. It lowers it. Instead, we need to have an honest dialogue about how to create avenues for people to succeed economically based on their skills and their efforts. Until we do, we will continue to have a stagnating economy. And louder demands of "more" to be taken from those who are working and re-distributed.

I cancelled my gym membership. We were just not working out.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the ratio of public debt to Gross Domestic Product in developed nations will reach 110% next year, 35% above it 2007 level. Let that sink in for a moment...the debt of all developed nations has grown 31.8% over the past 6 years. That is 5.3% annually. Now, friends, I ask you, has your income grown by an annual rate of 5.3% over the last 6 years. I would imagine for most of us that it has not. So government spending has risen dramatically and rapidly across the globe, and what do you think the IMF proposes as a solution to this problem? If you said cut government spending, you would be sorely mistaken. The IMF proposes implementation of what it calls "revenue maximizing top income tax rates. The IMF proposal raises that top tax rates on average to 60% for all developed nations. In the U.S., the IMF calls for top rates of 71%, far more than the current 45%. The IMF admits, in surprising candor, that these top rates will impair the financial well being of the individuals and businesses that are impacted by the higher tax. And this is the crux of the problem: governments across the globe have engaged in profligate spending and show no signs of stopping. Their solutions are not to cut that spending but to attempt to soak the producers and savers around the world without regard for the negative impacts this creates. Two points: a country cannot get to fiscal health by taxing the "rich", those who have saved and accumulated wealth and those that have risked their wealth to create new businesses and jobs; and never once do any of the elected leaders do more than give lip service to cutting spending. Until the mindset of our elected leaders changes and until they show serious fiscal restraint, we will continue to struggle economically.

My motto is "Never say never", which makes it difficult to tell people my motto.

And that, my friends, is my view.

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