Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

29 August 2008

Critique of Obama's DNC Acceptance Speech

On 28 August, Senator Obama gave a masterful acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention. He presented his empty populist and socialist program with complete self-assurance and sincerity. His rhetoric wowed the Democrat crowd. Let us examine it critically.

Early on, he claims the American promise is threatened because the economy is in turmoil. Well, yes, the economy goes through business cycles now and then and sometimes policies long encouraged by Congress backfire and cause a problem, such as the home mortgage problem. Well, guess who wanted Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac and other businesses to issue risky mortgages and consistently pushed for more of them? The Democrats in Congress. Nonetheless, are we to believe that the American dream is so fragile that it is threatened by a GDP growth slowdown which is not even a recession, let alone a depression?

So he complains about lost homes and reduced home values. Gasoline prices which are high. Could that be in part because the Democrats have consistently opposed drilling for oil in America and prevented us from exporting more oil from Iraq? The credit card bills he complains about would not be so high if people did not work until 16 July to cover the cost of government. The tuition bills would not be so high if socialists did not have total control of the universities.

He complains that a man in Indiana packed up equipment he used for 20 years and shipped it to China. Could it be that the equipment was now obsolete and selling it to China was a good way to get some money for it. Maybe the company bought better new equipment, using the income from the obsolete equipment as the down payment? We do not know. But there is not nearly enough information given here to bring tears to a rational listener's eyes.

He claims we let veterans sleep on the streets. We probably do. There is no guarantee given to a veteran that he will never see hard times. He can go bankrupt, or he may become an alcoholic or a drug abuser. We do have many programs to help veterans, but he should not tell a veteran that he will be forever on easy street because he has served in the military.

Obama says "John McCain has voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time." Ummm.....I thought George Bush was President and has never served in the Senate. He never votes with Senator John McCain!

Obama falsely claims that McCain proposed "tax breaks for big corporations and oil companies but not one penny of tax relief to more than one hundred million Americans." First, McCain proposes a reduction of the tax rate to all corporations, big and small, and to all industries, not just oil companies. The phrases Barack Hussein used were meant to be inflammatory. Second, McCain does propose that the Bush tax cuts be extended, which will provide tax relief for more than one hundred million Americans. The Democrats have long opposed the extension of the Bush tax cuts which are due to expire in 2010. Obama realized he would have problems winning the election if he went along with the majority of the Democrats on this opposition and has embraced a pledge of no new taxes on middle class individuals, except those leveled upon business owners and that half of the population that owns stocks. Or upon those who realize a capital gain.

He complains that McCain has offered "an education plan that would do nothing to help families pay for college," but there are already programs that provide student and parent loans adequate for that purpose. Obama does not bother to tell us what he would do.

He says McCain "would privatize Social Security and gamble your retirement." No one is changing Social Security for those near retirement. But the present plan is not funded fully and for the younger workers who will be soon heavily burdened with additional taxes to give Baby Boomers many luxurious years of retirement on Social Security, where is the security for their retirement? McCain knows that the only way to provide for that is to end a purely Ponzi scheme and get at least a part of the money withheld from paychecks into investments which over time will grow with the American economy. Funding everyone's retirement with tax money is stupid.

Obama claims the Republican philosophy was to give the rich more money and hope some benefit trickles down to those less well off. Hogwash!!!! The Republican philosophy was to reduce everyone's taxes and they did it. They did include tax reductions for high income groups and everyone else. As a result, the fraction of the income tax paid by the highest income groups went up, not down as you would suppose from the Democrat complaints. The higher income groups now pay almost all of the income tax monies collected.

Obama says "in Washington, they call this the Ownership Society." Yes, and under this philosophy a larger fraction of the population than ever has come to own their own homes and to own investments in stock and other retirement funds. To the dismay of the Democrats, more and more people are building wealth.

He says the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 under Clinton and then down $2,000 under Bush. I have spent a while trying to figure this one out. I know what average family income is and I know what median family income is, but I am not sure what he means by the income of the average American family. It probably means average family income.

But first, let's look at the median family income. This is the income of most interest to most American families. In 1992, median family income in constant 2000 dollars, was $44,129, while it was $52,148 in 2000. This is an increase of $8019. Good for the relatively low spending of Clinton and his free trade policies, so unusual for a Democrat. Of course, this was largely necessitated by a Republican Congress. From 2000 to 2006, median family reported income went down by $1595. But, as we have noted before, workers are taking more of their compensation in the form of unreported retirement investments, vacation time, medical savings plans, family leave time, and paid sick leave, rather than taxable income. People have many more options now on how they take their compensation for their work. Taking advantage of them is just plain smart given the high marginal tax rates, which have gone up in many states and locales during this period. Since these calculations are in price change adjusted dollars, the rise in gasoline prices and food prices plays a big role here. Both Bush and Congress are responsible for the rise in food prices, but it is mostly Congress who is responsible for the increase in gasoline and other fuel prices.

I have not been able to find good numbers for the average family income for this complete span of years, but the average income numbers are much higher. This is because they are weighted heavily by the families with very high incomes. So, a reduction in average family incomes may simply indicate harder times for the very wealthy, who we know Obama to be uninterested in.

Obama claims the American promise says we have "the freedom to make our own lives what we will, but that we also have the obligation to treat each other with dignity and respect." Generally, yes, but he is actually smuggling in a requirement to be our brother's keeper here, which we shall see down the pike. If I really treat someone with dignity and respect, then I expect that they can take care of themselves.

He says "businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road." First, businesses do not have an obligation to create jobs. A business is composed of people. These people are not obliged to create jobs for others. If they were, then those others would be equally obliged to create jobs. That would logically require everyone to create a job. If everyone creates a job, then no one has to create a job for anyone else but himself. Then everyone would be looking out for himself.

Barack says government should do what we cannot do for ourselves. "Protect us from harm and provide every child a decent education; keep our water clean and our toys safe; invest in new schools and new roads and new science and technology." What, we cannot protect ourselves from harm? We often do. Government has some role here, but not a comprehensive one. We do not need government to provide education. That is an experiment that has failed and it is fraught with the conflict of interest that one of the primary reasons we need to learn to think rationally for ourselves is so we will not be so vulnerable to government tyranny. Putting government in charge of schools is putting the fox in the chicken coop. We do not need government to keep our toys safe. We need responsible retailers to check on safety using good laboratories to examine products from China or other unreliable foreign vendors. Government should play a role in some basic science research, but the development of technology should generally be the province of private enterprise. Government develops technology very poorly.

Now Obama drops the big idea on us. "We are responsible for ourselves, but that we also rise or fall as one nation; the fundamental belief that I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper." This is surely conflating religion with government. If I am responsible for myself, why isn't my brother, or more probably, some stranger, also responsible for himself? This is clearly contradictory and a recipe for standard socialism with the government intervening in our lives to tell each of us that we must sacrifice our individual rights, privileges, and immunities along with our own individual idea of our values and our goals to some need of others. Soon, no one has any job but to take care of others, but a society in which everyone takes care of others at the expense of themselves is nonsense. Consequently, everyone simply becomes a servant of the state. Then the state determines who gets what "rights", rather then the individual having an inalienable right to anything. This logic is what caused Senator Joe Biden to be furiously suspicious that Judge Clarence Thomas might believe in inalienable individual rights. Biden was adamant that only government can give anyone a right.

Now Obama says "change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it." Yet, Obama plans to write tax codes that do reward certain businesses he likes. Does he really suppose those businesses lobbyists will not be working overtime to see that he picks their businesses for these favors. It is McCain who goes much further in not trying to play favorites with the tax code.

"Unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America." Do you really want Obama, who has never managed a business, deciding whether jobs have been shipped overseas and which are good jobs here? This is not the job of a President of the United States. Besides, there may well be good reasons to eliminate some jobs here which are unable to compete in the global economy. Obama will wind up erecting high tariff walls to protect unproductive jobs and destroying our export industries and our competitiveness in the process. This is very simple-minded.

"I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow." Does this mean he will try to decide which small businesses will create high-wage and high-tech jobs and which will not? Many states were doing just this and encouraging investors to start dot-coms and other computer software firms, biotechnology, and optical communications companies which fed the frenzy that led to their collapse in the so-called dot-com recession that hurt the economy so much in the early part of Bush's first term in office. The loss in incomes due to that are a part of what Obama blames him for compared to Clinton, but the frenzy was started and fueled mightily under Clinton's time in office. Government is incompetent in picking winners among small businesses. Forget this. Even if he does not mean to discriminate among small businesses, they really just need a more even playing field, which masses of government regulations do the most to destroy.

"In ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East." He must think he is God. This is absurd. Even an enthusiastic driller cannot do this and he is not a happy driller. His idea to pour money into alternative energy development will result mostly in wasting tons of money and only a small increase in energy. Crash government programs are very wasteful and do not translate well into functioning businesses.

He will use more natural gas, invest in clean coal technology, and use safe nuclear power. Glad to hear he will allow more natural gas production, use of coal, and nuclear power. Will he reduce the time it takes to get government approvals to build facilities? This will be the real test here. And, will companies be allowed to proceed in a way that will allow them to make a profit, which he thinks is a dirty word? Then he will subsidize fuel-efficient cars and alternative energy. It would likely be less wasteful to give our dollars to Mideast sheiks. He will create 5 million new jobs by taxing Americans enough to get the money and thereby destroying another 5 million jobs. Where do politicians get the idiot idea that they create jobs?

He wants every child to have a world class education so they can compete in the global economy from which he wants to retreat to protect unproductive jobs. How he will do this keeping his Democrat Teacher's Union friends happy is not stated beyond saying he will do more of the same things that have always failed.

Somehow, he will give us all accessible health care. I thought we had that, but clearly he proposes to take control and second guess medical experts still more than Medicare already does. This will cause costs to skyrocket, as Medicare has already proven they will. It will also result in highly rationed care. Like Canadians, we will wait many months for an MRI examine for a brain tumor and then 8 more months for an operation to remove it and by then most of our brain.

He will decree that businesses provide more paid sick days and better family leave. This will put some businesses out of business and cause many to hire fewer people.

He will decree equal pay for equal work. So, bureaucrats will visit businesses they know nothing about and interview workers and decide which ones have the same job and do it equally well. Then they will tell the company what to pay them. Really wise! So, who do I fire? All of my female employees or all of my male employees?

As in Biden's speech, he claims Iraq has $79 billion in surplus money. Of course Iraq has terrible needs for this money in rebuilding the infrastructure and society that Saddam Hussein destroyed over many decades and to increase their oil production, but they cannot agree among themselves on how to spend it. Meanwhile, Congress, controlled by the Democrats, opposes their spending it to get any help from American oil companies and until all factions are happy with its use. So, of course it is unspent.

Obama will "build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease." There is no focus here. He who chooses to defend everything, defends nothing. Unless, this joker is God. Seriously, He will defeat all poverty and all genocide. He will defeat the earth and make it keep a constant climate? He will defeat all disease? Incredible. Unbelievable. Childish. Megalomaniacal. Unbalanced. Insane. Otherworldly.

The rest of his speech was just rhetoric with nothing but apple pie, mom, flag-waving, and invocations upon God.

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