Tuesday, November 26, 2013

This Pope is Wrong, Really Wrong…

Pope Francis has the noble goal of ending poverty. But the Pope has the wrong solution; spreading socialism. In his first “position paper” as the Pope, he attacks the free market calling it a “new tyranny.” This Pope may be popular but his thoughts on how to create the best opportunity for the poor is dangerous.

This Pope has grown up in an area of the world that is rich in resources but poor in access to those resources. The government in the name of “helping the poor” is doing the exact opposite. What socialists like the Pope fail to realize is the absolute truth of the Bible story “Teach a Man to Fish.” Socialism is about punishing success. It takes away an individual’s incentive to work hard because no matter how hard you work under socialism (unless you are a politician); you make the same as the guy who doesn’t work at all.

Compassion is a great trait to have but not at the expense of other people’s individual right to keep the harvest of their labor. It is easy to feel bad for the poor but it is exactly that feeling that destroys the poor’s incentive to help themselves. Compassion should be measured by how many people can take care of themselves - not how many people the government supports through re-distribution programs.

The Pope talks about the unhealthy pursuit of money. But it is not money people pursue; it is the lifestyle that having money provides for the people that have money. Human nature is proven through history and a billion studies. Human nature defines the actions we take to survive and thrive. When we are incentivized with rewards, have the ability to create and keep wealth, we as humans then can focus on helping others. The United States is (although we are slowly losing the opportunity) the best example of compassion. Because we value individual wealth creation, our nation boasts of being the most charitable nation in the world. It is because of excess that we can be charitable. If our wealth is confiscated by governments, our ability and will to be charitable is diminished.

This Pope would do well to understand why people have been leaving his church in droves, especially in the United States. The lack of women in the priesthood, the bureaucracy and the lack of connection with the way the world works today are just a few of the reasons. I believe tradition is important but the tradition of who is allowed to lead in the church is a tradition that should end. It can’t be defended and is the ultimate “good ol boys club.” The patriarchal nature of the Catholic Church is a stumbling block to connecting with more and younger people. That is where the Pope should spend his time. But this is hard work and disruptive to the Church’s empire. It would also help with his socialist message to divest of the wealth of the Vatican and all of its holdings by giving them directly to the poor.

I know it is easier, and accepted, by many progressives in the world to denounce capitalism, greed, and wealth but it is the wrong message to send. This Pope seems to like the role of playing the “regular guy” and God Bless him for getting out into the real world. But if he really looks around at the real world what he will find is the enemy of the poor is not money, capitalism, or wealth creation. It is an ignorance of the economic realities that create the greatest opportunity for the poor.

This Pope should be out there spreading the word that government creates more poor, socialism creates more poor, and the answer is individual accountability and opportunity that is the path to a healthy life. “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for life.” Give the poor the wealth created by others and they soon become incapable of creating wealth for themselves. That serves no one, especially the poor…

Monday, November 18, 2013

Why the Income Gap is a Red Herring

Just say the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and you will find yourself surrounded by liberal and leftists salivating to tell you how bad capitalism is as an economic system. They trace the increase in this gap back to the Reagan years. There is no doubt that the income gap exists but what does it mean, and what are the causes?

If we look at the greatest expansion of wealth in this country for the most Americans ever, you find that expansion during the Reagan years. More people than ever were able to participate in the growing economy because of the massive job growth. This opportunity added to people being able to fund 401K’s, buy homes, drive multiple cars, and in general build individual wealth. Family incomes increased and people were living the American Dream.

During this same period and beyond, many industrious Americans were building companies that created enormous wealth for many individuals. Many became the 1%’s; so often targeted for envy by the left. You see, when wealth creation happens some people do better than others. They are rewarded for their ideas through the market and can accumulate massive wealth which they can then use to create or invest in other economic opportunities. The people that also benefited from this wealth creation were the people that worked at all of these businesses that were created. As employees often do, they saw increases in their pay and may have bought a home and made some investments in their future. Many increased their possessions and chose to spend instead of save. That’s what freedom means, the ability to do what you want with your private property.

So the 1%’s saw huge expansion of their wealth as they chose to continue to invest in the economy. Some won and some lost. You see, the 1%’s are not the same set of people that were there in the 80’s or 90’s. The 1%’s change just like people in the 50% go up and down in income level based on their choices and circumstances.

The income gap is measured by “household income.” So if your household has two working members you are likely to have a higher income. If you are a single parent household, your income level is likely to be less.

The chart in this article shows a reduction in households in the income ranges of $35K - $99K. The lower and upper ranges have grown. So there are more rich and more poor which increases the “gap.” But what it doesn’t show is who is moving where and why.

The income gap can be the result of so many factors but moving to the lower income levels has nothing to do with people moving to the upper income levels. There are simply more people in this country that have not become rich (yet), and the people at the high income level are a very small group of people and not the same people at any given time.

The left wants you to infer that the rich are rich because they are keeping the rest of the people in the lower income category. They have gotten to where they are as a result of screwing other people. There are some of those but they are the people using political power to get and maintain wealth. They are the exception not the rule. This is the left’s attempt to use envy as their weapon to destroy even more wealth.

The income gap proves nothing but the fact that some people have been better at creating wealth in the marketplace. The people moving into the lower income levels have many stories but they also have the opportunity to get back out of that group if the government would stay the heck out of the economy.

What the left wants to do to “fix” the gap is to reduce everyone’s ability to succeed. They want to regulate wages, business opportunity, tax the rich, re-distribute according to the left’s definition of fair. A “fair” that punishes success and rewards poor choices and the invisible hand of the market place.

Taking from the rich, increasing taxes, stealing people’s hard earned retirement, and creating envy among people is evil and needs to be rejected by every American that still believes in the American Dream. There is the greatest gap in incomes where there is the most freedom. The people that are determined to succeed become wealthy. Some people are driven more than others and depending on choices some may be left behind by not creating any personal wealth. This is why freedom is so great and why so many on the left hate it! They hate it because it rewards based on merit. A free market does not care who you vote for, what color your skin is, what heritage you come from, it only cares if you have something everyone else wants. A true free market can’t be manipulated by politics and that’s what the left hates…

Monday, November 11, 2013

Why Do We Give Thanks on Veteran’s Day?

This is the day we honor our veterans for their service to our country. It is a day that all political spectrums come together in thanks for the people that have served this greatest nation on earth. It is the greatest nation in a large part due to the strong desire there is in this country for freedom. We hold freedom as the most fundamental principle and right of every human being.

Every one of the founders of this nation was prepared to die for the cause; throwing off government control and creating the concept of self-rule. Up until that point it was the norm that government controlled people’s lives, and that birth right was the way it would always be. If you were born of royalty, someday you would rule the kingdom. The founders turned that concept upside down and created the miracle we call the United States of America, and its founding principles the US Constitution.

The founders knew freedom wasn’t free, and that it could only survive if the citizens were willing to fight, defend, and die for the cause. The founders expected a lot from the citizens and believed that once individuals were given freedom they would certainly be willing to defend that God given right. The founders believed in God and that certain rights were beyond the realm of man. They believed the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were precious and worth dying for.

The founders also knew that history was a great indicator of the future, and that human behavior had to be harnessed to protect those most basic rights. They harnessed them in limiting government and expanding individual freedom to the outer limits. They knew individuals could only prosper if they were allowed to freely create their path without government intervention. It worked for a hundred years. The last hundred years have been a return to the past that the founders were so intent on protecting us against.

Since FDR, we have seen a drift back to some utopian vision that the collective is more important than the individual. We have seen an expansion of government and a reduction in individual freedom as we have drifted away from the individual to a more powerful centralized government. If we look today it is such a stark contrast to our founding. A founding that took many lives in a revolution that changed the world. George Washington and his small band of troops set the example of how a powerful cause, freedom, could defeat the most powerful military in the world. He proved how individuals with a cause were the most powerful weapon in the fight for freedom. The spirit and hearts of the soldiers were more powerful than any mechanical weapon or fancy uniform.

Our military men and women have always answered the call to protect freedom. They have done miraculous things around the world and have been responsible for more freedom than any other entity in the world. These men and women are a shining beacon to others that when the cause is just, and the nation calls, they are willing to risk their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. They leave friends and family behind in the cause of freedom and defense.

While this small minority of military veterans has sacrificed so much in the defense of freedom, we need to ask - have we done our part to honor that sacrifice? Have we protected those freedoms by electing people that honor our constitution and the cause of freedom? Have we been diligent in monitoring the policies that have given us such prosperity and opportunity for future generations? Would George Washington be proud to have sacrificed so many in the cause of freedom he so honorably gave to us?

We honor our military veterans today because they believe in the cause of freedom. They believe our freedoms are worth fighting and dying for. If we look at how intrusive and over reaching our central government has become we must ask – have we been staunch defenders of freedom as the citizens of this great nation?

I know our veterans have held up their part in the role of self-rule. We honor them today and thank them. But what I wish and believe honors our veterans the most is to do our part and protect our freedoms by engaging in the political process with the intensity our veterans have pursued theirs.

God Bless our veterans and their families!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Birthday Wish

I believe the reason we celebrate birthdays, is to remind us that time is passing by. Time is very cunning; it silently slips past and makes no effort to remind us of the time we have let pass. How many times do we think about time in a way that places the value on it that it deserves?

Time is all we really have if you think about. And if you talk to someone in their later years you realize that even at the age of 96, the realization that time moved so fast changes nothing. What we need to realize is that in the time we have, building relationships that enrich our lives is the best legacy we can leave.

I volunteer at Hospice and I had a patient that grew up in the Bronx and met Babe Ruth as a kid. He used to take the train to 125th street in Harlem to see all of the great jazz players at the Apollo Theatre. What I learned as he told me his stories was that every story he told me was about the people he met and the family he loved. He had little interest telling me about his career, he would always turn the conversation back to the people and his family. His life’s memories boiled down to wonderful stories about the people.

My mom died last year and when I think about the 75 years she was given, she spent most of it staying in touch with family and friends. She lived the life of a Saint because what drove her was to add value to everybody’s life she came in contact with. Her legacy, when I tell stories about my mom, is about how she loved to connect with people. She never wanted to talk about herself; she wanted to know about the person she was talking to. It didn’t matter to my mom whether you were the president or the superintendent of the building. She just wanted to learn more about the person she was talking to. She was always willing to help in any way she could.

The older we get the more we understand what is important. Birthdays remind us to refocus our efforts on the things that are important. The people in our lives, the dreams and goals we have are limited to the time we are given. We never know how much time we will be given so every Birthday gives us a day to think about what is important.

This birthday I am away for work. Today I was given the wonderful wishes of family and friends. Talking to my wife and children was the only gift I needed. And it is always a gift to have a loving family!

Since my last birthday 365 days have passed. I can’t get any one of them back but I can tell you that they were not wasted. Most of those days were spent healthy, a part of a wonderful family, many camping trips, college visits, family visits, and many conversations with friends and family. I have a lot of goals and dreams as well. They are on track but they are also prioritized properly. Family first, always.

My wife Justine is a compassionate nurse that comforts family’s at the most difficult times of loss. Taylor is an excellent student working hard to become a medical student. Emily is currently choosing colleges and has many choices because she works hard and is very smart. We have 3 pups that make every return home wonderful because they share their unconditional love that fills our hearts. These are the things that I am so proud to be a part of. A family is the legacy we leave. I couldn’t be more proud of my family.

My Birthday Wish is that everyone takes a moment on their birthday to think about what is important. Tell someone you love them. Send a card to a friend that might be struggling. Hug that kid tighter tonight so they know how much you love them. Remember we are here for a limited time. Use every minute you can to let people know you care.

I have never been happier in my entire life because I have so many wonderful people in my life! I hope you can say the same! Happy Birthday!