Is “The American Dream” Dying?

October 16, 2011

G’Day!

Yes, the traditional “American Dream” is probably dying if the divisive socialist and antibusiness policies of President Obama, the Democrats, and the Unions continue to be supported by our government. Already much damage is being done by the passage of Obamacare, the Dodd-Frank Financial Regulations Act (including the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and the Durbin Amendment), the EPA, the NLRB, and now full force “Class Warfare” by the President to divide the country in an apparent attempt to be reelected. Martin Luther King Jr’s memorial opens this week and his famous “I have a Dream!” speech was about national unity and equality of opportunity not class divisions and wealth redistribution. If we want to preserve our freedoms, our opportunities, and our exceptionalism as a nation, these destructive attacks on our economy, attempts to divide the American people, and collectivist “nanny-state” policies must be stopped and reversed. We must protect and preserve “The American Dream” for future generations and ourselves.

Our traditional view of “The American Dream” is based on the principles our Founding Fathers and Patriots risked and gave their lives to secure for our country and our future. These values were documented in The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights. Primarily these values are: guaranteed individual freedoms (especially from government), equal opportunities for all Americans, decentralized governance BY THE PEOPLE, free market capitalism based on private property ownership, and a specifically limited-power federal government. These fundamental principles have provided all Americans the opportunity to choose our careers, succeed (or fail) based on our own decisions, and retain the fruits of our labor reasonably free from oppressive regulations, unnecessary controls, and excessive taxation. These freedoms and privileges essentially stood for over a century from our nation’s founding until the passage of the 16th Amendment in 1913 authorizing direct federal taxation. Since the authorization of direct federal taxation these basic rights have been inexorably eroded as the size, scope, controls, and restrictions by government over our lives and our economic opportunities has expanded. It is time to get government off our backs and return to our traditional vision of success embodied in “The American Dream”.

The socialist and antibusiness agenda supported by President Obama and his allies is accelerating the destruction of this dream. Obama’s alternative is a collectivist society of mandated wealth sharing, unsustainable federal spending, high taxation, limited individual and business freedoms, and highly centralized governance. Obama appears to want a federal government with virtually unlimited power to regulate, control and dictate our lives, our property, and our businesses, including the transfer of wealth from those who have created jobs and earned it to those who have not. Just look at the current “Occupy Wall Street” mobs that have picked up Obama’s message and essentially want to destroy the capitalism that made our country great. Socialism doesn’t work as the former Soviet Union and most European countries, especially Greece, have learned. As Margaret Thatcher said, “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”. Is this the vision of America’s future that you support?

So how has the growth of “progressive” or socialist policies influenced “The American Dream” over the last century? Federal income taxes have “progressed” from a maximum rate of 7% in 1913 to a current rate of 35%. Obama and the Democrats are proposing to raise this rate to 40%. (Note: this rate does NOT include the approximate 15% in federal “payroll taxes” additionally paid by employees and employers or State and Local taxes.) Federal government spending has “progressed” from 3% of our national economy in 1913, to a current level of 25% under President Obama (an increase in the size of government by 5% in just two and one-half years by Obama). The number of federal government agencies, bureaus, departments, and employees has exploded since 1913 under both Republicans and Democrats. This was especially true under President Roosevelt’s “New Deal”, President Johnson’s “Great Society”, President Bush’s “Prescription Drug” legislation, and now President Obama’s “Healthcare” and “Financial Regulations”.

The Obama Administration alone has more than doubled the ANNUAL Federal Deficit, increased the National Debt by approximately 40%, increased the cost, uncertainty, and complexity of healthcare, and passed sweeping and largely unnecessary regulation over our essential financial industry. Obama’s healthcare plan alone creates an estimated 159 new agencies and the Dodd-Frank Act requires an estimated 387 new regulations across 20 agencies. The EPA under Lisa Jackson wants to implement and administer new business and job killing environmental regulations that are projected to cost tens of thousands of jobs and increase our energy costs. Essential domestic fossil fuel exploration and development in America has been virtually shut down. (Note: Opening our domestic energy resources could create hundreds of thousands of good American jobs and improve national energy security.) Among other pro-union activities, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is attempting to stop final implementation of Boeing’s new “Dreamliner” factory in South Carolina. The Department of Justice (DOJ) under Eric Holder is disrupting our legal system, suing States for trying to enforce immigration laws, and interfering with mergers that would improve the competitiveness of American Business. Obama’s failed economic policies have stifled business and job creation, stagnated our economy, and significantly expanded the size and spending of our government. These policies are radically advancing an unsustainable European-style centrally planned socialist welfare state for our country and eroding our individual and economic freedoms. Are these “progressive” social policies enhancing our lives or your vision of “The American Dream”?

If we don’t stop this madness and get the government off our backs and our businesses, “The American Dream” of opportunity and success will continue to die and may be destroyed. A nation cannot be successful by confiscating wealth from those who create it and redistributing it to those who do not. Leftwing collectivist policies do not work. These are not the foundation of freedoms and opportunities upon which our country was created and which made America great. It’s time to take back our country and restore “The American Dream”. Let’s get to work!

The Old Guy PhD


Personal Responsibility – What Happened to Our Pioneer Spirit?

September 13, 2011

G’Day!

It is obvious that the current members of The Democratic Party did not create our great country. They would never have taken the risks and hardships of crossing the Atlantic and relying on their own abilities for survival without an established government “socialized safety net”. So what has happened to the original American “Pioneer Spirit” of personal responsibility and risk-taking, free of government interference and control? Why have so many of us allowed ourselves to be deluded by lawyers and politicians into believing that the government or “someone else” is responsible for our personal security, retirement, healthcare, employment, injury, or any problem that we face? Why is America becoming a European-style socialist “nanny” state at the same time Europe is finally realizing that unconstrained collective socialism not only does not work but also restricts economic growth AND is ultimately unaffordable? Greece and Portugal are current examples and others may follow. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO SOLVE EVERY PROBLEM OR TAXPAYERS TO PAY FOR EVERY DESIRABLE SOCIAL GOAL OR ADDITIONAL REGULATION OR BUREAUCRACY OUR POLITICIANS WANT! Solving every social issue through additional taxation and government spending is neither affordable nor achievable and only retards economic growth and wealth creation for all. Wealth is not created by taking from those who earned it and giving it to those who did not.

Our pioneer ancestors came to this country searching for freedom from many different oppressions and the opportunity to build independent productive lives free from excessive government control and interference. Our ancestors accepted total personal responsibility for any risks they took. They understood that, whatever the outcome, their future and the future of their families were based on their own decisions and how well they made and executed them. Millions of immigrants have come to our country for the “opportunity” and not the “guarantee” of a better life. We need to rekindle this spirit in our country, get government off our backs, and retake personal responsibility for our lives.

For well over our first century as a country, we experienced essentially free markets and constitutionally protected individual liberties, which were largely free of federal government controls. We experienced problems but grew and prospered into a great nation. Major federal government intrusion in our commercial and personal lives really began with the passing of Constitutional Amendment XVI in 1913 authorizing direct federal income taxes. In 1913, federal government spending was less than 3% of GDP. From that year forward the size of our government and its control over our lives and commerce has inexorably increased over time, especially under F. D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” in the ‘30s, Johnson’s “Great Society” in the ‘60s, and in this century Bush II’s “Prescription Drug Program” and Obama’s “Healthcare and Financial Regulation”. Except for WWII, the current size and scope of government spending has never been as high as it is now under the Obama Presidency at approximately 25% of our GDP! Just since Obama was elected, Federal Government ANNUAL spending has increased from $2.9 trillion to $3.8 trillion, the ANNUAL deficit increased from $500 billion to 1.7 trillion, and our total National Debt has increased by 40% from $10 trillion to $14.3 trillion! The Democrats in Congress have not passed a Federal Budget for over 800 days and have so far rejected all attempts this year by the Republicans to pass one for next year! To paraphrase Bill Clinton during the 1992 Presidential campaign, “It’s the Spending, Stupid!”

In July, my post highlighted the fact that our Founding Fathers risked their very lives, not just reelection, with “The Declaration of Independence”. Eventually, a new nation and a new government, unlike any other in history, were born based on their courage, vision, and desire to preserve this spirit of independence and freedom and to protect it for future generations. Our Founding Fathers were incredibly wise and shortly after gaining our independence from England, realized the potential flaws inherent in pure democracy, and created a written “Constitution” and subsequent “Bill of Rights” establishing the role of federal vs. state government, protecting the rights and freedoms of individual citizens from the government, and establishing appropriate mechanisms to amend the Constitution as necessary without destroying it from within.

Where are we today? We have an emerging “nanny-state” in which many believe that anything bad that happens is NOT personally their fault and it must be the fault of “someone else” or the responsibility of the government to correct. In other words, we are giving up personal freedoms and responsibilities and becoming a nation of dependency on government. Our ancestors would be appalled! The government cannot and should not try to protect us from all misfortunes or bad decisions we make ourselves. Historically, Americans don’t want or need a “handout”; they want an opportunity and the freedom to get a “leg up”. Today, only the Republicans, especially the “Tea Party”, are even attempting to risk reelection by taking a long-term view of our country’s needs. They are actually proposing fiscal solutions to correct the spending disaster that our governments have imposed on us. So what has been the “Tea Party’s” reward for standing up for what is right? They have been the subject of malicious vilification by the Obama Administration, Democrats, and segments of the media and have even been called “Terrorists”! Unbelievable! The Tea Party members are currently our true “Patriots” and should be praised for refusing to accept the short-term and totally inadequate fiscal “Band-Aids” proposed by the Democrats. Instead of addressing our long-term problems of unfunded and unsustainable entitlement programs, the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats are ignoring the problem and are attempting to blame the Tea Party for our economic and political problems. The Administration and Democrats are not only continuing their failed policies down this path of national destruction but also seem to be intent on accelerating its speed of decline. More Liberal Madness!!

So what should be done to halt the increasing culture of dependency on the government and return prosperity and growth to the people and to our country? Our government must set priorities within “Capped” budget constraints (see “Is a Balanced Budget Amendment Necessary?”) and make rational cost-benefit trade-offs before commitments to any new or continuing government socially/politically motivated programs and bureaucracy are approved. For starters, every new law or program should have a built-in “Sunset Clause” specifying that it must be reapproved by a set date or it is terminated. As detailed in “Yes, We CAN Grow the Economy and Create Jobs!” at least six specific actions could and should to be taken: 1) Stop/Minimize non-essential regulations, 2) Have a business-friendly government, 3) Reduce tax rates, especially on business, through tax reform, 4) Enact an energy policy that encourages rather than discourages development of domestic sources of traditional energy, 5) Fix the fiscal and debt crises by cutting government spending, revising entitlements, and increasing tax revenues through tax reform, and 6) Pass the three pending Free Trade bills and expand them to include other trading partners. More is possible but this would be a good beginning.

In short, we need to return to the principles of a constitutionally limited government and individual freedoms created by our Founding Fathers. Returning to our fundamental principles of individual freedoms, free markets, sound fiscal and monetary policy, economic growth, and limited government is the proper course of action. The government should get out of the road and let entrepreneurs and businesses generate the economic growth, job creation, and increasing wealth of which they are capable. Let’s get to work!

The Old Guy PhD