Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Wisdom of Our Fathers part 3

I was going to title this essay "On Wealth". But I felt that is way too pretentious. I thought of a quote that better framed my thoughts. "Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door." That quote, in a much more complicated wording, has been attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson.  What it demonstrates is how wealth is created. A number of uncounted decades ago the elected geniuses that run our country decided that no American should dirty his or her hands. Everyone must go to college and get a degree. The great new idea was that the United States should be a service economy. To understand where this idea was born you must understand something about politicians. Particularly those on the national level. They are all geniuses. If you do not believe me, just ask them. Although most of them do not know what door to go through to take an economics course but they are all experts in the subject.

Actually what most politicians know is that John Maynard Keynes said something about government spending being a good thing. That's enough economics for them. There wasn't even a final exam. Keynes held that free markets were insufficient to support a modern economy and government deficit spending was necessary. Truth be told, many modern economic theorists accept this in small amounts to tweak a slow economy. Bankrupting a country by insane levels of spending with no controls goes so far outside of Keynesian economics that John Maynard himself would shrink in horror.

But getting back to the creation of wealth. A service economy does not create wealth. It merely moves wealth around. As wealth is moved around the government always siphons off a little for the "Greater Good" ie. giving politicians a chunk of your money to spend as they see fit. Governments cannot create wealth. Those printing presses in the mint do not, have not, and never will create wealth. At any given point in time the country, like a business, has a certain value. When the government prints money it is a representation of that value. The more money they print the less each one is as a share of the total value. So the value of the dollar shrinks, as it is doing now. If a company doubles the shares of their stock each share is worth half as much. Same deal.

When a person buys an item no wealth is created. The buyer receives something he values. The seller receives money. Even swap.  I challenge anyone to find creation of wealth in a service economy.

Ok, so how is wealth created? There are two tools to create wealth. Those are brains and brawn. If someone has an idea for a great new computer program and generates the code for it, then sells it on the free market, they have created wealth. New value exists where none existed before. If you go out into the mountains with a pick and a mule and discover gold, you have  created wealth. Drilling for oil creates wealth. Taking raw material and using it to manufacture a durable product produces wealth, as it increases the intrinsic value of that raw material. Farming produces wealth.

When the powers that be decided to support a service economy they increased taxes and regulations on the economy that gave this country the freedom and strength to endure. The creation of wealth is a messy business. Holes need to be dug in the ground. Chemicals need to be used. Large quantities of power are required. It would be lovely if the whole country were one great big park. But to have a balanced economy sacrifices must be made. Advancements in technology will help to mitigate the problems created in manufacturing. But if we are to survive as a nation, we must create wealth not deplete it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Wisdom of Our Fathers part 1

There was a time not too long ago when the United States stood tall among nations. It was admired, respected, and even a little feared in some quarters. In fact, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and forced us into World War II, Admiral Yamamoto of the Japanese High Command stated "we have awakened the sleeping tiger". He was proved correct when our nation geared up, cranked up and went to war as no country had ever done before. Three years later a world war fought on two major fronts and fought over three continents with skirmishes on two others, was over. The USA not only supplied war materiel for our own forces, we supplied, to our great credit, the needed supplies that kept our allies in the battle. We even built a fleet of "Liberty Ships" to transport food, arms, and equipment to where ever it was needed.

We, as a nation, were able to do this because we had heeded the advice of our past president Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy was what would be called a manly man today. He hunted, fished, went to war at the head of the Rough Riders and was even police commissioner of New York City. Although some might not embrace all of his political positions most would, or at least should, agree with his most famous quote. That is, "walk softly and carry a big stick". That "big stick" was not just military strength. It was also the ability to produce what was needed and the strength of will to get the job done.

We are no longer a sleeping tiger. We have become a toothless tiger. In the past American presidents bowed to no man. We did not rely on foreign countries to produce for us while we all sat in offices. Presidents had no doubts about the greatness of "the good old USA". Immigrants poured into this great country for a chance at freedom and to give their families the ho0pe of something far better than they ever expected for in their own lives. To them the streets were truly paved with gold. Today our president bows to every minor despot, apologizes for America at the gates of those that hate us, and begs the Russian president to give him room. In the mid-east where strength is respected, we are a source of amusement. We have fallen on very sad times. But then nothing is forever. Be assured, the United States shall rise again.

The Wisdom of Our Fathers part 2

I remember the day that Franklin Roosevelt died. It was in the spring of 1945 and I was only six years old at the time. I heard the announcement on the car radio as my mother and I were leaving my grandmother's house. Thanks to my father and grandfather I was very politically aware even at that early age. After our frequent Sunday dinners together, they would sit and argue politics and I would sit and listen. I have been a political junky ever since.

So now Harry Truman was president. At the time, he was much vilified and got little respect even within his own party. He rose to the rank of Colonel in the US Army and upon leaving the army after the First World War ran for the senate from Missouri. With the support of the infamous Pendergast machine he won. Roosevelt asked him to be his running mate because Roosevelt thought he could be controlled and would not create problems. Truman got so little respect that he was never told about the Manhattan project or the atomic bomb. He found out only after he had become president.

When Truman  became president he apparently separated himself from his old political cronies and tried to do an honest job. One month into his presidency WW I ended. He took no credit for himself. But that did leave the war in the Pacific to be dealt with. He was aware that Japan was arming it's citizens to protect the homeland for the emperor. His military experience told him the fight would be long and bitter. A great many lives would be lost on both sides. As soon he had two A-bombs he made the decision, though they were untested, to drop one on Hiroshima and one on Nagasaki. Japan sued for peace. The war was over.

Although he tended to be a bit irascible, he wanted to known as a good president. Hence his two most famous quotes. "The buck stops here", and "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen". He did not "lead from behind", blame everyone but himself when things went awry, or throw people under the bus to save his own sorry behind. Why don't we have presidents like that any more?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Where Have All the Statesmen Gone?

There was a time, years ago, when it was possible for politicians of diverse leanings to sit down together and solve the most important of the country's problems. Granted these solutions were not always the best possible solution. Compromise seldom gets the best but it sometimes gets the good. Good, of course, being better than no solution at all. There were even a few that had power, personality, and love of country that were able to drag lesser pols kicking and screaming into negotiations that produced, at times, unexpected results.

Where did all of them go. I know, they got older. Some retired. Some passed away. But the point is, the torch was never passed to the next generation of leaders. I am so tired of shrill power hungry harridans of both sexes. Do nothing constructive. Blame it all on the opposition. Take no responsibility.

In the past three years the cost of fuel has doubled. If the government would produce honest figures we would find inflation up 10 percent or more. If they included those that have stopped looking for work and those that are underemployed, unemployment would exceed 15 percent. Housing values are down, down, down. Medical care is about to go through the overhead. The dollar  is way down. The country is being spent into poverty. And all those brilliant people that we sent to  Washington because they tell us they have all the answers are impotent. Put a microphone in front of them and they are all instant experts. As far as I am concerned they are all instant failures.

Set off the alarm clock. Wake them up. The country is speeding hell bent toward a cliff and nobody is driving. Where have all the statesmen gone?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cranky Conservative Defined

I use the blog name Cranky Conservative. I should use Cranky Constitutional Conservative but that is too long. But it is my point of view. The cranky part is because I see and hear so much in the news that are lies, partial truths, distortions, and things taken so far out of context that they become out and out lies. If one relies on any one source for news they will not get the whole story in almost every case. It is every case if the subject is political. Being retired and a news junky I tend to go, literally, all over the map trying to put facts together and making sense of the innuendo. Most of the media today is very agenda driven. Even the news sources rated most accurate by those that rate such thing have a rating of about 60%. That makes me cranky.

To be honest (I try to be  most of the time) I used to be a member of the Republican Party. I ran for office twice as a Republican. I left the party. Actually I did not leave them, they left me. For the most part their presidential candidates have been either sad retreads or of the "chosen few". I am now registered as an independent and consider myself a conservative of the constitutional variety. In my opinion the framers were geniuses. The United States Constitution is a skeleton upon which there hangs the body of the greatest nation on Earth. They also left behind the Federalist Papers for anyone who questions their thinking on any part  of the process of writing the Constitution. The Constitution is not organic in nature to be subject to the personal whims of any judge that thinks that his or her superior knowledge or experience should reign. When the government exceeds it's warrant the country has problems. Also when politicians attempt to circumvent the Constitution the country has even worse problems. Unfortunately thes actions become more frequent with each succeeding administration. That is why I am a Cranky Conservative.