Thursday, October 27, 2011

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

This concept is sweeping the nation. I think it has merit and is at least worth discussing. It would have to be passed over the objections of Congress. If there was ever momentum to work toward a resolution the problem of Congress, now is the time.

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term's), then go home and back to work.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Let them Eat Cake

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz insisted to October 4th that “anyone’ can see that the economy is improving even though 115,730 people lost their jobs in September (the most in more than two years). Pres. Obama admitted that Americans were not better off today than four years ago.

Fed officials “saw considerable uncertainty surrounding the outlook for a gradual pickup in economic growth,” with the economy showing only a weak bounce after the recession in contrast to past recoveries. Reasons for this weakness remained “unclear” although some blamed business and consumer debt and the distressed housing market.

Interesting isn’t it?

Here is a piece of good news. Bloomberg has gone on record as saying that a string of stronger-than-projected statistics -- capped by the news on Oct. 7 of a 103,000 rise in payrolls last month -- has prompted economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Macroeconomic Advisers LLC to raise their growth forecasts for third quarter growth to 2.5 percent from about 2 percent. That’s nearly double the second quarter’s 1.3 percent rate and would be the fastest growth in a year. The interesting aspect to this is that Bernanke projected the economy to grow at 3% back in July.

Here's the really good news: Restaurant industry sales in 2011 are expected to reach a record $604 billion and sales are projected to improve 3.6% over 2010 sales. Every dollar spent in restaurants generates $2.05 in the overall economy and restaurant employees comprise nearly 10% of the entire U.S. workforce. One of the barometers of economic improvement: When we start feeling flush enough to order the wine and the dessert again.

Fundamentally, I trust the fact that we are all starting to buy dessert as the most pragmatic indication that things might actually be getting better. We know that the government is not going to help in the short term. If we are going to see this thing turn around it is going to be one dessert at a time. There isn’t going to be a bailout of the pie factory or a fork ready stimulus plan at the diners. It’s going to be businesses feeling better about the economy and willing to talk about it over dessert.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It’s not the Lobby Groups, It’s the Politicians Stupid

I read, with some alarm, an article circulated by the Associated Press entitled “Protest against Wall Street spread across US” ( Chris Hawley 10/04/2011). The alarming part was quotes from demonstrators like “We feel the power in Washington has actually been compromised by Wall Street,” Jason Counts computer analyst in St Louis. Alternatively, “we support the notion that rich folks are not paying their fair share.” John Samuelsen, President of the Transport Workers Union in New York. How about “How to fix the deficit: end war, tax the rich” chanted by a group dressed as zombies marching on Wall Street.

The article did represent the other view voiced by one passer by wearing a suit named Roland Klingman, who works in the financial industry, “If they believe everyone down here contributes to policy decisions, it’s a serious misunderstanding.”

The political systems have been extremely successful in deflecting their personal agendas onto the masses. If it is true that the financial industry is adversely affecting the policy decisions in Washington, (and I do agree with this), it is a problem of the political system, not the financial industry. The financial industry wouldn’t try to influence policy if they didn’t have a historical perspective that says they can. If politicians want the public to take up arms against those who adversely influence their future, they should demonstrate against the politicians that enable this behavior.

Politicians are in a unique position to take action which we the public cannot. Politicians can end the influence of any lobby group by passing legislation to do so. Why don’t they? Political parties live and die on contributions. Contributions are the lifeblood of political parties much the same as revenue is to a business. They use influence to gain contributions. It’s not just big business that is the target. The people who are protesting the financial industry are the people that have benefited, at one time or another, from an entitlement program targeted toward them. These entitlement programs are designed to solicit contributions for the sponsoring party.

I understand the rage that most of us are starting to feel over the state of politics in America. The people have taken a back seat to fund-raising. Both political machines are far more interested in catering to the deep pockets then the public they represent. We need focus and reasoning in our actions.

If we allow any political party to emotional highjack us into believing that they, the politicians, are the victims, we have lost. If we want to believe; it is the contributor who is causing the harm, not the recipient; we are fools and deserve exactly what we get.

Many Americans are a gullible people with short memories. They are happily lead in any direction in which they feel will improve their personal comfort in the short term.

I’m not pro or con Lobby Groups, just as I am not pro or con political parties…. They have their place…. I am opposed to political groups putting their own agenda and well-being above those who they are paid to represent. Our 546 political representatives in Washington are starting to act like the royal family of America. They feel above the law and beyond the reach of the people.