Monday, November 3, 2008

It’s Election Season

Most of the time I avoid political and social commentary on my blog.  But right now I have a lot of thoughts in my head that I want to get down during this election season.

I realize that some reading this blog will oppose (maybe even strongly) my viewpoint.  That is fine; we are all entitled to our own opinions.  The only thing I ask is, that should you reply, you be courteous in your comments.  I don’t lash out at those that have differing opinions than my own, and I request the same courtesy be given to me.  You may express your opinions and beliefs, but any comments that are hostile or contain adult language WILL be deleted.  My blog, my rules.

Presidential Election

First of all, I really dislike both of the Presidential candidates that we have running right now.  I don’t think that either one is qualified to run anything, least of all the most powerful country in the world.  Neither one has any history of being able to make important decisions when they are put forward.  With all of the problems we have in the country right now I believe the most qualified person that has been involved in the election process was eliminated partly due to his religious beliefs, despite the fact that those core beliefs are probably what the country most needs right now.  Mitt Romney has a strong moral character, and is economically very wise.  Since we are in the midst of financial turmoil, someone with experience in fiscal issues would be an ideal person to make the decisions necessary to begin the road to fixing some of the challenges that face this country (to put it in the words of my friend Jared, “this country needs a CEO”).  Romney certainly isn’t perfect, but I believe that of those that the American public has had to choose from during this election cycle, he was probably the most fit for the job.  He certainly did a number of great things while in office in Massachusetts.

While I can’t endorse either Presidential candidate, I couldn’t possibly sleep at night if I were to cast a vote for Barack Obama.  He seems to believe in everything that I think is causing this country to experience many of the problems that we are facing.  And I believe it boils down to one core issue: taking away consequences for the actions of the citizens of the country.  Punishing the people that are doing the responsible thing, while rewarding those that choose to take no responsibility for their actions.

Allow me to explain.  Obama’s current tax proposal rewards those paying the least in (or even no) taxes, and punishes those that are paying the most.  Those not currently paying taxes would get a tax credit… effectively meaning that they would be given a reward for not working.  Those that are working, and are providing jobs for others who do likewise, are punished with higher taxes.  And this nonsense of the tax rates only being increased for the most wealthy is pure spin.  Obama wants to raise the capital gains tax from 15% to 20%, whereas McCain wants to maintain 15% long-term, with a two-year drop to 7.5%.  This is a tax that people pay on their earnings when they cash in their investments.  So anyone being responsible enough to save for the future is punished, while those spending everything they earn are, in effect, rewarded for their behavior.   Obama also wants to maintain the AMT, which is just evil in its own right because it penalizes for being married and having children.  While I don’t love McCain by any measure, he is in favor of cutting corporate taxes (currently at 35%, one of the highest rates in the civilized world, to 25%), where Obama talks about cutting tax loopholes for corporations, raising their effective rates.  It is the corporations that provide the vast, vast majority of jobs in this country, why are they being punished so harshly for promoting the general welfare of the people?  (If corporations didn’t pay so much, wouldn’t that mean more jobs, which means more tax revenue for the government?)

The only tax that Obama talks about cutting is the federal income tax, which for me only personally makes up about 20% of the taxes I pay.  Obama’s plan actually includes more tax hikes, most of them quite hefty, for nearly every other tax under federal control.  But nobody is talking about that.  And has anyone mentioned that our tax load is more than ten times what it was a century ago.  Is that really necessary, and is our government really providing ten times the services that they used to?  Certainly not, because if they did they’d be showing up at my doorstep three times a day with my meals.  Shouldn’t we be figuring out ways to significantly cut our tax burden instead of finding ways to make it worse?  Our current tax system is pretty messed up, and Obama’s plan only makes it worse.

Along those same lines, the health care proposal by Mr. Obama just scares me.  Basically it boils down to providing health care for those that don’t have it.  What is to prevent those that currently have it and choose to no longer pay for it from enrolling in a government-sponsored plan?  The current numbers for the cost of such a plan don’t include these individuals.  And once we’ve gone down that road, it’s only a matter of time before health care becomes a “right” granted to all, and provided by the government.  Looking at the health care system in Canada and England ought to scare us enough to realize that this doesn’t work.  No competition = expensive with poor service.  To argue that things wouldn’t go this way is a bit naive… how many people are going to electively pay for their own health insurance if the government will pick up the tab for you?  Certainly not the majority of the population, and certainly not the companies that are currently providing healthcare for their employees.  They are all about the bottom line, and they would experience enormous savings by abandoning their health benefit programs if someone else (the government) would take that over… all it takes is to find a way to pull it off.  Just keep in mind that Social Security was once a program designed for a small portion of the population too.  And now it’s mandated by law.  And we see how well that works.  (On a side note, the tax burden for social security for self-employed individuals is several times higher than their federal income tax load…  Shouldn’t this be one of those issues that is talked about?)

Why don’t we address the core issues of why health care is so expensive?  We don’t hear any talk about regulating frivolous lawsuits or reducing the cost of malpractice insurance, or even placing a tax on expensive prescription medication so companies have an incentive to bring the price down. 

I believe that in general government-sponsored social programs just don’t work.  So why do we keep creating and funding them?  These programs are part of why our tax load is so heavy.  Many of the programs we currently have probably ought to be reviewed to see if they are really effective, and get rid of those that aren’t.  And privatize nearly all of them so they have to start being responsible with their resources.  If they can’t survive on their own, they probably have no right to exist in the first place.

Take welfare, for example.  Individuals can earn more on welfare or unemployment than you can working a minimum wage job in most states.  (One of my old roommates was living on unemployment while he was living here and was making far more at that than he ever did by working.)  What incentive does that provide for people to be responsible?  I realize that some people are not able to work, and there ought to be programs in place to help them… but only after family and charitable organizations are no longer able to.  But to be paying the way for those that just choose to not work is irresponsible and certain economic doom.  It’s worse than communism.  And these are also the people that are being given tax credits under Obama’s plan.

Another is the current financial crisis we are in.  One of the main reasons for the collapse of several large banks is bad loans given to home owners.  And the reason that many of these are bad is that they are given to individuals that aren’t able, or choose not to, pay them back.  The banks are required by law to offer these loans.  It is the result of a bad law enacted in the late 1970s, and strengthened in the mid 1990s.  And this same law is also supported by Obama.  He even worked on lawsuit cases in the 1990s against banks that refused to grant these types of loans.  And too many of his contributors and primary advisors are directly involved, and directly responsible.  Even though he hasn’t necessarily had his hand directly in the issues, his attitudes are a mirror image of those that got us into the mess in the first place.  Again, choice (buy a home) without consequence (having to pay for it).

Continuing the idea of social issues…. Obama really scares me.  When asked about abortion, his response is, “we may not agree on abortion, but what we can agree on is that there are too many teen pregnancies.”  True, we do agree on that, but he really just completely avoided the question.  The real belief there is he supports choice without consequence, or “pro-choice.”  Shouldn’t the idea of taking the life away from an unborn baby be absolutely reprehensible?  To most, I think it is.  But Obama and other liberals take your attention away from the core issue of what is essentially murder (the worst sin that can be committed under LDS doctrine aside from the unpardonable sin) by shift it to being a matter of the freedom of choice for the mother, ignoring entirely the life of the baby.  Hmmm.  Sounds like exactly what Satan would say if he was asked the same question.  If someone is so lax in their attitude toward such a serious issue, where else is their judgment unsound?  Shouldn’t we be trying to teach people to be responsible in their actions rather than bailing them out of their bad decisions?  I know abortion is only one issue, but usually it serves as a good litmus test as to someone’s sense of personal morality and responsibility.

I believe that many of the core beliefs of the liberals of this country would lead us nowhere but a world of hurt.  Many of their positions reflect a step towards the government taking away our agency, forcing us live according to their ideals.  And these are the very ideas that are have been represented by and are coming forth from Barack Obama.  His past tells us so.

What’s even more scary is that we have a very left-leaning congress, so if we end up with a left-leaning President as well, the potential for a whole lot of liberal legislation is very high.  (What surprises me so much is that congress’s approval rating is well below 20%, even lower than President Bush’s, yet most up for reelection are likely to be reinstated.  What’s up with that?)

People will say anything to get elected.  Just listening to their campaigns really tells you nothing about what they truly believe and intend to do when in office.  How much of what has been promised by elected presidents during their campaigns of the past has actually come to fruition?  Not much.  To find out what someone really believes you have to look at their past… Their past accomplishments, opinions expressed in the past through writings and votes on various issues.  Actions speak a lot more than words, so sometimes it isn’t what you hear people talking about, it is what they aren’t talking about that is more scary.  I believe this is the case for both of our candidates, but much more-so of Barack Obama.  From watching him over the past four years, it just seems his basic philosophy is to take away responsibility and consequences for poor decisions, and his voting record and past speeches demonstrate this.  Nobody is ever going to learn, grow, and become better people if everybody is being bailed out for every poor decision they have ever made.  It just digs us deeper and deeper into an immorality hole.

The LDS Church and Homosexual Issues

With so many people upset with the Church over their stance on Gay Marriage, the last days are certainly upon us.  We’ve been promised again and again that the prophet wouldn’t lead us astray, yet this is the claim of some groups, even within some members of the Church itself.  Pretty sad.

What I don’t understand is why pro-gay groups are so upset.  The standard within the Church for gays is exactly the same as it is for heterosexuals.  Myself, being unmarried, am asked to live the exact same type of life as those that experience homosexual feelings and tendencies: no sex outside of marriage.  Yet you don’t see groups of single people beating at the doors of the Church asking for an exception to the rules.  I’m sure the drives and desires that heterosexual individuals like myself experience are just as strong as those experienced by any homosexual individual.  But we aren’t complaining.  We understand that what is being asked of us is the best thing for us from both a mortal and eternal perspective.  So we commit ourselves to live the principle.  End of story.

As far as the issue of gay marriage itself, the idea of allowing it is terrifying to me.  Not because I believe that gays have any fewer individual rights, but because of the implications of what could happen with legalized marriage between homosexuals.  (Marriage isn’t a right anyway, it’s a privilege granted to primarily create a protective, morally strong, environment in which to raise children.  It isn’t about validation of love; the idea of marrying for love is a very new concept in the history of the world, and those marrying primarily for love seem to be a lot more likely to divorce later, so maybe it isn’t the best reason that has existed anyway.  Take a look at a secular argument against gay marriage that can be found here.)

Once gay marriage is legalized and endorsed by the government, other forms of “marriage” can start to creep in.  What happens when individuals want to marry multiple partners?  Or when a father decides to marry his daughter?  Or, heaven forbid, an individual decides to marry something non-human?  Twenty or thirty years ago the idea of allowing homosexuals to marry was absolutely ludicrous, the same way that these other ideas seem outlandish and morally abhorrent today.  Yet that is the path that we are on once the government endorses homosexual marriage.  Not to mention that gay rights groups are already fighting to have their beliefs taught in schools (with no rights for the parents to be notified or prevent it) and to force churches to perform these marriages.  What ever happened to the right to believe and worship in the way we choose?

If gays want to have some of the benefits given to heterosexual married couples, that might be okay.  Hospital visitation rights can probably be extended to anyone that an individual chooses, insurance benefits could probably be granted to anyone an employee chooses (so long as they choose to pick up the tab of the extra cost) without disrupting society much.  It might be nice to be able to tell a hospital that I’d like a close friend be granted visitation rights.  And there are actually legal ways of doing this in place in most states already.  But to take things all the way to granting marriage to homosexuals is just going too far and sets a very dangerous precedent for the future.


Colleen said...

I'm afraid I just can't stomach any more politics this year, so I just skimmed through your post.

I voted early last week and wrote in Mitt Romney. :)

jeff said...

Doug, I couldn't agree more with just about everything you said. Lili and I both aren't pleased with any of the presidential options this year by any means, but the thought of an Obama presidency just scares the heck out of us. If elected he will lead this country to absolute social and moral ruin. Well, at least faster than any other candidate... Great post!

Lili and Jeff said...

Hey Doug, just seconding what Jeff said. Thanks for your very thorough post. I am voting for what ever protects my religion and family, and that is FAR far from Obama's beliefs.

bwarby said...

I agree with a few points, but generally disagree. This will be a bit long, but I want to argue the other side. I personally haven't paid taxes since I was in high school (now 27). I'm in a phD program, and working part-time. For me the only tax that matters is income tax. I know you are a small business owner, but when I see the windfall profits big corporations are raking in I think "stick it to 'em". Why do CEOs need to make 500x the average salary? They don't in other countries.
About health care, for my wife and son and I we pay over $200/month for lousy coverage. We've paid roughly $6000/yr for the last 2 yrs when we only make $30-35k/yr. Lousy care that's free looks pretty good to me. Even lousy care that is only an extra 10% taxes would be good. We should address the root problems you mentioned, but republicans won't b/c it would be too much regulation and democrats won't b/c it would be too slow.
On abortion, the only reason I think abortion should be performed is if the mother's life is endangered and little chance of a live baby. However, what about fertilized embryos at fertility clinics? Where do you draw the line? When is it an embryo and when is it a baby? The point is not that abortion is ok, but if a woman is raped, or pregnant by incest, I don't want to say that she doesn't have the right to abort a fetus. Conservatives talk about the government taking away freedoms, but only when it's a convenient argument.
There are a few other points I disagree with, but these are the big ones.

DoubleDeej said...

I'll respond to a few of Brian's comments.

I agree that it is obscene that CEOs of large companies get paid so much money. But the founding fathers of the country intended that the government not get too involved in matters of commerce. A 35% tax rate on a corporation is just way too high. Let the shareholders of corporatiosn regulate the business, not legislators.

On abortion, I won't argue against abortions in the case of protecting the life of a mother, or rape, but an all out "any abortion for any reason" is absolutely appalling to me... Even if someone doesn't believe that life begins at conception, it is still impossible to argue that a potential life is being terminated without it having any say. And many abortion advocates are pushing for young girls having abortions without having to notify their parents. Again, more choice without accountability.

On health care, it is way too expensive. My insurance has almost quadrupled in the last ten years (with a reduction in coverage). But that shouldn't be an excuse for the government to step in and pay for it. We need to address the reasons for the high cost, not put a band-aid over it by having the government step in. That doesn't fix anything because it still comes out of the taxpayers pockets, and condones the current behavior of the healthcare industry. We all still pay for it, just disguised as taxes instead of an insurance premium. Instead of putting more money in their hands, let's figure out a way to bring the costs down, not allow them to continue soaring higher and higher while passing the costs on to taxpayers.

Drew said...

Doug, this was a brilliant post. Thank you for an eloquent, detailed analysis! I am going to reread this when I get discouraged at the current state of affairs.

Cheryl H said...

Amen, brother. Thanks for bringing out the points that were completely ignored this election. Gotta love our liberal media! As for me, I was pleasantly surprised the marriage amendment passed in was the only good news I heard last night. Maybe a few people still cling to some values. As far as the president and congress goes--the Constitution hanging by a thread prophecy comes to mind. I guess it has to happen sooner or later. I'm scared about our country's future.

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