Friday, October 10, 2008

Portland's Silent Voices

Lately, I've had a few friends approach me, wanting to talk without judgment or persecution, about the presidential election. One friend had given up on any discussion with other people in Portland, since it seems that if you're not voting Obama, you're not intellectual enough, or open-minded enough. This particular friend is the most traveled friend I have, spending time on 4 continents, and probably the most accepting of other cultures, race, religions, and belief systems. We all could learn a lot from this person.

Yesterday I wrote an email to a few of the friends (below) who then forwarded it onto their parents. In fact, I was invited over for dinner last night to talk more about what I had written.

So here it is..........................

PORTLAND'S SILENT VOICES

The superiority complex in Portland of being a super-liberal does gets old after a while, I admit. PDX's mood is that it's en vogue to be liberal, rail on rich Republicans as "greedy", and demand more and more public assistance for more and more people. The emotionally charged arguments are drowning out the real issues which have been overlooked in this election season.
Reagan said, "Government is not the answer to your problems. Government is the problem."

(NOTE: I don't care who wins. They have their strengths and weaknesses. I come from a Democrat family. I am independent, though registered Republican after my 2003 income tax experience of paying 45% in taxes. McCain has experience but his campaign managers seem to be sabotaging his chances with Palin and forcing him to attack, going against his natural conversational tone. Obama is a wonderful public speaker. Brilliant man too. I can imagine him making dramatic pauses when talking to his daughters "Honey......Now.......we need a change (piped in applause roars throughout the house)......Thank you, thank you..........We need to change.....your diapers young lady.").

Government lags behind private industry by at least 20 years. It's bureaucracy and meddlesome special interest lobbying (from "greedy Republican controlled evil Big Businesses!") that has bogged down the necessary changes in taxes, spending, regulation, economic/social/education revitalization. Unions have some control of the speed of change, holding onto obsolete jobs that could be reorganized into more productive departments.

For example, the IRS Tax Code is 16,845 pages long. A flat tax would be 1 page for personal and business. IRS workforce would shrink by 97%, according to Steve Forbes' "Flat Tax Revolution." Those employees could be re-appointed into new, productive departments for development of Maglev trains for both freight and passenger, school construction, urban renewal, health care, renewable energy, education overhaul, etc. To know more, read this: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_39/b3952079.htm OR go to Google and type "flat tax success."

Prevailing Portland mindset is to keep throwing money at social programs, that only create more dependency. American's think that Obama stepping in to help out all the people, will somehow create more prosperity.

His added programs will have to be paid for somehow, which likely means increased taxes on business first then individuals. This takes away the capital that business needs for job creation and expansion, at a time when job creation and expansion are badly needed.

I read recently that "we'll never be able to regulate our way out of a recession." Recovery starts with businesses rewarded to grow and expand, providing high paying jobs for people.

Social programs only grow and cost more, resulting in higher taxes for all. Look at Medicare/Medicaid. We wouldn't have so many sick people if Government didn't subsidize wheat, sugar, and corn (that make cookies and corn-syrupy sodas). American's are entitled to their leisure. Sickness is promoted through these subsidies. Debt is encouraged through the tax system (deduct the interest on your mortgage or student loans) and corporate debt is subsidized (why do corporations carry so much debt? It's advantageous. It's written in law. Less taxes they pay along with the fact that debt is not inherently bad when it goes for R&D, reinvestment, new products that are beneficial).

Americans have easy access to leisure (easy credit to buy flat screen TV's) so we can watch football all weekend long (advertisers are Pizza, Beer, Pharmaceuticals, Electronics, Autos). Being lazy is our right as Americans. We'll fight for our laziness tooth and nail. And whichever politician promises that to us, we'll vote for him.

And we also worship the Money Gods. We think that having money will bring us ultimate happiness. That buying that new car, flat screen TV, house, etc, will make us finally happy. What happens? Start with small purchases, soon realizing those the emptiness was still there. Increase the purchase size. Still no happiness. Keep getting bigger and bigger toys (cars, boats, watches, Home Shopping Network jewelry, furniture, clothes, etc) and fall deeper and deeper into debt.

Then we become ashamed and depressed because all these things never brought us the happiness we were seeking. We're embarrassed to admit we spent this much money on all this stuff, that has virtually zero re-sale value. So we become depressed, and since we've seen enough TV (while sitting on our ass all the time), we know that we have depression symptoms and can ask our doctor to prescribe a certain anti-depressant because we're certain we need it to feel better - AND - this, we think, will bring that happiness that has been eluding us all that time.

Ah but no, it's still not solving the root cause of the depression. The loneliness, the sadness, the deep insecurity, the fear of abandonment, rejection, or poverty - that's at the core. We're not willing to understand that when we perceive ourselves to be lonely, we'll often become indebted, so that we have some relationship, even if it is with a creditor. This becomes the stable relationship we'd been yearning for, though not the ideal. Or, we'll take up a shopping habit, so that the people at the store know us and we create superficial relationships with the clothing salespeople.

The overriding fear is that if we really get to know ourselves, we won't like what we'll find. We're judging ourselves harshly based upon outside illusions of who we think we should be and what our life should look like materially, instead of listening to, understanding, and being true to our authentic self. It's just so damn easy to take the pill and feel cheery and chipper within an hour!

The medicine only masks the problem longer and makes it a bigger and scarier beast until something happens and a person breaks/cracks/has what's called a "nervous breakdown" which is what other people who aren't willing to address who they are, call those who are waking up to reality, after living in an awful fantasy for their entire life.

Americans are fearful of Medicare/Medicaid deficits in the future, but are doing nothing to address the root cause of all this need for expensive medical welfare. Our present system encourages cookies to be made in trees by a band of merry elf's - The Keeblers - you've heard of these guys, or fizzy corn syrupy sugary drinks to be on our dinner table - The Polar Bears at Christmas who make Coca-Cola. Then subsidizes chemical companies (drugs) to put all this stuff into people's bodies that make them sicker (also healthier too - I realize both sides). People are given incentives to go into debt further through tax breaks rewarding personal debt, and so they fall deeper in debt and feeling lower in self-worth and must work at jobs they do not like because they have to pay off all that debt (12 billion credit card solicitations each year are mailed out to American households!). We have rising obesity levels (my parent's street has 6 of 8 homes with at least 1 person 50lbs overweight - what do you think the accumulative health care costs of these 6 people will be during the next 20 years?). A potential of 86% of the American population will be obese in 30 years, according to a study I read recently.

Talk about a case of Appetitis - an inflammation of the appetite muscle. American's will no longer be Homo Sapiens, but a new human form known as Appetitis Robustis.

Medicare/Medicaid would be fine if exercise and wellness were bombarding the subconscious mind of Americans as opposed to pizza, beer, and drug commercials. And if the fruit, vegetable, and nut growers were subsidized instead of the corn, sugar, and wheat growers.

I'm amazed at the true simplicity of life and how it's been made so complex by business and industry and individual intellectual laziness in America. Root causes are simple. The elections show that people continually bark up the wrong tree, candidates give false promises to entitled people, entitled to an easy life, that if they elect me, life will continue to be easy.

It doesn't work that way. The real causes and effects are by-passed and people aren't even taking the time to look around, observe, and ask what's really making people a sick, indebted, hypochondriac nation of arm-chair doctors who know all their own medical ailments.

Energy independence, Bridges to Nowhere, "I don't know how many homes I have" to "A career politician and community organizer having a $2,000,000 home in Chicago," etc - these are some of jabs of the election. They are point-less points to what's really important. The manipulators of the campaigns understand American's inherent laziness and sense of entitlement to a comfortable life. Distribute the message through the right channels and you'll incite the public, who'll refuse to question the real causes and effects.

That's why liberalism of throwing more money at programs doesn't work, especially if the programs aren't creating a method of critical thinking and understanding of the forces creating causes and effects. If there is no interest in understanding and learning, then there's no political process, except a process that creates bigger and bigger problems that will at some point reach the boiling point, as we're seeing economically at the moment, where the CAUSE is the $531 Trillion Derivative Market EFFECT-ing fear and panic in the confidence of the investing public.

Social programs are doomed until people think about the real source and take personal responsibility for their own actions - their own personal health. You want Medicare/Medicaid when you're 80? Then start taking care of yourself now in a spirit of moderation with regard to food and vigorous daily exercise. That way, health care won't be that big of an issue to you (barring any catastrophic illness or injury) and won't put the burden on the rest of the people to care for you, even though you had an entire lifetime of decisions, which you made, that were repeatedly and habitually detrimental to your health. Now it becomes the responsibility of your neighbors to save your life, one expensive pill and life-saving procedure at a time, that could have been avoided had you and your government taken advantage of all the opportunities to robust and abundant lifetime health, during the course of your life.

That's how I've been feeling for a long time. I understand there will always be people who need the public assistance, and I think those programs are essential as insurance type programs. We need to support those who cannot support themselves or who temporarily fall on hard times (everyone does at some point in life as I've learned firsthand). This goes back to the days of the ancient Babylonians, who saved 7% of the crops and resources for those who could not take care of themselves, and 3% of the crop they knew would spoil. 7+3=10. 10% was the standard for the reserve amount (where do you think the church got the 10% rule??).

There are great examples out there for reform and publicly endorsed measures. Minnesota Care is a wonderfully successful program that the state runs for people who cannot get medical insurance in the private sector. It's affordable and run profitably. Australia has Super-Annuation, a form of retirement savings. It's not out of reach to think that Americans could be rewarded (tax free income) to methodically save the first 20% of their income into a Super-Annuation type account. Especially, if that investment went back toward renewable energy, Maglev trains, water resources - programs that invested in the general welfare not only the country but the world community (agriculture, fresh water, education (leading to lower birth rates), power for the 2 billion starving people worldwide) and modern advances of science and industry.

In the "crisis" on the news, we fail to see that the American people had a $100 trillion net worth at the beginning of 2008. The savings rate in the country was actually 7% (govt stats don't take into consideration IRA, 401K, and Stock Ownership - that's why you hear we're at -2%), according to Ken Fisher, Founder of Fisher Investments. There is immense prosperity here, and I notice it every time I drive on the freeway or through town and see homes, paved roads, water towers, power lines, etc.

I don't believe American's are fully entitled to Government providing them a life of leisure. We already have it pretty good compared to the rest of the world. People have been looking too long for the elected leaders to be their savior, as they are falling over Obama to fill this role after 8 years of the unpopular George W. Bush. But they don't realize, he won't be the answer to their problems. Nor will John McCain.

Only when people start demanding as much of themselves as they are demanding of our elected political leaders will the tide start to turn. "We The People" don't have to accept a life of mediocrity, ill health, and paltry living on $1600 Social Security checks. We owe it to ourselves to take responsibility for our own life. The better we personally become, the greater our impact on our community. There is no government program or elected leader that can do this for us, for each person is responsible for each and every choice they make during their entire lifetime. People need to take their external demands of government leaders and make them internal demands upon themselves. Only then will things begin to change.