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In times of unrest and fear, it is perhaps the writer's duty to celebrate, to single out some of the values we can cherish, to talk about some of the few warm things we know in a cold world. -- Phyllis McGinley
In amazing and thoughtful turnaround, President Barack Obama used his first encounter at the G20 summit to speak out against increased debt spending.
"I have to tell the Prime Minister that I agree with Daniel Hannon," the US President told the press corps flatly. "You cannot spend your way out of debt. It's taken me a bit to put my arms around the idea, but when you put pencil to paper, there it is."
Lawmakers back in Washington were shocked at the unexpected change of heart. Republicans embraced the clarity of his tone and said that it was really the first time Obama had reached out to them at all. Congressional leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand, wondered how the president intended to proceed.
"This obviously goes against everything the White House has committed to us. We'll certainly talk more about this when the president returns," the Speaker of the House said.
President Obama told reporters later, "Someday, future generations will have to pay this money back. It's irresponsible to pass that debt on to our children. Sasha and Malia mean the world to me. I won't let that happen to them and their generation."
The Dow Jones and other stocks are struggling upward. Does Obama get credit for that? Not quite.
Readers of my ABCNews column or Wall Street Journal opinion pieces will remember that I’ve regularly listed four things that needed to be done to improve the U.S. economy. Now the first one has fallen: mark-to-market accounting.
Today, under pressure from both lawmakers and financial institutions, the five-member Financial Accounting Standards Board - the arbiter of accounting rules in the U.S. - voted unanimously on new guidance for mark-to-market. Mark-to-market accounting, instituted in 2007, but given real punch by FASB and the SEC in a "clarification" last September, has been called the single most important reason the stock markets crashed so abruptly last fall. It all-but forced corporate auditors to set the most conservative valuations on the holdings of financial institutions - and in the process led to massive mark-downs and the collapse of the capital markets.
The new mark-to-market changes let companies use "significant" judgment in determining the prices of some investments on their books, including mortgage-backed securities - a move that could help banks reduce their write downs and boost net income. Better yet, FASB has fast-tracked the matter, meaning that financial institutions will be able to apply the changes to their first quarter results.
Nobody has fought louder or more brilliantly for the end of mark-to-market than Steve Forbes, Forbes' publisher Rich Karlgaard, and CNBC's Larry Kudlow. They deserve everyone’s thanks - especially all of those stockholders' who are now watching the markets turn upwards again.
The author gives three other needed reforms to help boost the market. Which ones will this Democrat-led country allow? Time will tell.
If you read this web site with any regularity, you know that I staunchly defend the rights of the individual. Neither the government nor my neighbors have any right to tell me - or anyone else - how to live.
So for that reason, of course a ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. It's nobody's business.
From the article:
Craig Overton's jaw dropped when he heard the news. He's opposed to same-sex marriage, he said. Overton, of Pleasant Hill, had been carrying signs before the result was known. He was stunned to hear the news his arm holding the signs dropped until the signs were resting on the sidewalk.
"I don't want this taught in schools," Overton said.
And on that front, he's right. The schools have no business teaching morality or lifestyle acceptance.
He goes on to say:
"Animals don't do that. I don't like it. I have small children, and I just don't think this is right."
Mr. Overton has every right to his opinion and to speak it out. But he has no right to legislate his morals about victimless behavior through the government.
I have yet to hear how allowing gays to marry (or whatever name you want to give it) has any negative or dilutive effect on hetero marriage.
If conservatives/Republicans are to be a people who supposedly believe in individual rights, then why is it they can do so arbitrarily? This is no different than the Dems/libs wanting to legislate salary caps. The government has no right to tell others how to live. Period.
You either believe in limited government, or you don't. You either champion individual freedom, or you don't - whether you agree with the behavior or not. What occurs between two consenting adults is nobody's business.
Wells Fargo is one of those unfortunate companies. Wells Fargo didn't want the money. Wells Fargo is financially sound. Wells Fargo employs thousands of people in central Iowa.
Salary caps on folks in the area? Is that in the future? Only Tim Geithner can say. But given the inclinations I've seen thus far, and with all this talk of "sacrifice" by Obama, Wells Fargo's new supah CEO would be jointly Tim Geithner and Barack Obama, if it passes the Senate.
Is that what you voted for? Really? If not, at what point do you begin to oppose your guy?
For all of his hopes about bipartisanship, Barack Obama has the most polarized early job approval ratings of any president in the past four decades. The 61-point partisan gap in opinions about Obama's job performance is the result of a combination of high Democratic ratings for the president -- 88% job approval among Democrats -- and relatively low approval ratings among Republicans (27%).
Americans gather quickly around the idea of either loving him or hating him.
John Adams said, "There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty." And that seems to be a central theme among those who don't like him: liberty, which is the right to be left alone to your own property and decisions, is threatened by Obama, who makes no compromise on his intention to go wherever he believes fit, whether through greater taxation or invasive annexation of the private sphere.
John Edwards' proclamation of two Americas was a bit early, it seems.
Individual liberty and limited government gained ground today in Vermont with the legislature overturning a governor's veto, and in so doing, the legislature legalized gay marriage.
The government has no business in a person's private life to bar them from victimless activities, just as the government has no business dictating a person's salary or energy usage.
ETC: The Des Moines Register has been running a poll since the Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage in Iowa.
That's mighty close. The Republicans are trying to put it up to a popular vote. If they lose, will they then drop it?
As I wrote the other day, the Republicans are being hypocritical if they see fit to use government to legislate individual behavior in some areas, but oppose it in others. Where's the principle at work? There isn't one, which is why they should lose on this issue.
One of the loans we made through Prosper has been paid in full and the others remain current:
The government came in last fall and blocked Prosper from doing more loans. Government intervention... yuck. I dig a lot at Obama, but I jabbed Bush as well for his government-interventionist ways. They both deserve it. Compassionate conservativism was a load of crap. Socialism more so.
People should be free to do as they choose. Free enterprise. Capitalism. Innovation. We ought to celebrate these things.
A lot of things are happening in my world these days, so here's a point of clarification about me:
I'm a self-determinist, which means that I believe that a person has the unalienable right to choose their own path in life.
I believe in people, not government. Government has no clue how to create marketable products in a free market system. Not their expertise. This is a global economy. We're competing against other countries. Let people and companies figure that out - because they do all the time. Government has no practice doing it. (Have you seen the lines at the DMV? Did you see the tax code book? That is so not how to do business...)
It is okay to try. It is okay to fail. It is okay to succeed. This is America, the most free place on the planet. Let's keep it that way.
And finally, here's a picture of my stepson, Tyler Dain, that I took today.
Early this morning I watched a FOX NEWS program that had critics of all the Tea Parties throughout the country. Their perspective is 'What services do you want to cut if you want lower taxes? You can't have your cake and eat it too.'
I hope I get asked that question. My question back is: do you really believe that the American people are that helpless that they require the government to gin up all of these services and programs in the first place? Consider this...
Nobody believes that Social Security is sustainable.
Nobody believes that Medicare/Medicaid is sustainable.
Nobody believes that the tax code is comprehendable or even right.
Nobody believes that government works hard to avoid waste.
Nobody believes that politicians are full of honesty and integrity.
Nobody expects the health care in this country to improve its quality if government institutes nationalized health care.
I could go on and on...
So why would anyone trust the government with more money or power? How does that make sense?
To directly answer the question, "What services should be cut?" I would answer, "Every one that the American people can do better and more efficiently than the government - which is likely to be almost every one of them."
Social Security is bankrupt. Even with the current problems in the markets, our children and grandchildren won't have to pay a gazillion dollars to make up the difference in Baby Boomer retirements. The American people are more efficient.
Medicare/Medicaid are bankrupt, unless we pick the pockets of our kids and grandkids. The American people are more efficient.
The tax code is tens of thousands of pages long. The American people are more efficient.
How many jokes are there about the government and waste? The government is never a model for efficiency. The American people are more efficient.
Politicians serve their own interests, not ours. The American people are more efficient.
Our health care system is quite good and offers choice to the consumer. The American people are more efficient at running it and funding it than government.
In short, the American people individually are more efficient than the government ever could be. The solution is to let people be free to choose their own paths. Freedom is always the best solution.
You know, I know of only one thing that all humanity cries out for:
Though I don't agree with all of his judicial recommendations, Justice William Douglas did say this, "The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom."
If a man does not, in any way, injure another man, can there be any crime that requires law to meddle in his liberty?
Jefferson said, "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." It doesn't matter whether your god is Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Jew or the nearest ashtray - if you do not injure another person or constrain another's liberties, there need be no law for your choices or your behavior. Whether or not I agree with your choices and your behavior, in a civil society I am out of bounds when I am in your business that does no harm to anyone else.
Someone suggested to me today that the purpose of law was to legislate a moral order in society.
I said that I thought laws were written to protect the liberty of people from others who would usurp it.
"Murder is, by law, illegal because it's immoral. That's why the law was written," said he.
"Really?" I questioned. "You don't think murder was outlawed because it robs a person of liberty? Because if morality was the basis of laws, there would be no end of laws. Where's the limited government in that?"
In the past 48 hours, I've been exposed to a very ugly side of Christianity. I wasn't going to write about it, but I'm brimming with it at this point, so it goes on the blog.
At the Des Moines Tea Party, there were some speakers who spouted anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-Christian-nation rhetoric. It started with the opening prayer and continued on through. Now you tell me - what exactly does that have to do with limited government, less government spending, and lower taxation? Answer - nothing. Oh, I'm sure some creative mind out there will tell you they're quite related. But from where I sit, they're oil and water. Plenty of gays and pro-choicers and non-Christians care about limited government, less government spending, and lower taxation. Don't they have a place at the table? Don't we need their help in this fiscal fight?
So after the event, as one of the organizers, I spoke up within the group and said that if we continue like that, I can't help organize the movement because not only am I not a Christian, but I think it's counter-productive and limiting and therefore hurtful to the cause. I said so privately.
The next thing I knew, I started getting emails like this from people I didn't know who misspelled my name:
If Mr. Rodgers would like it to be a secular humanist worldview, he will have a very difficult time trying to form a moral or philosophical foundation to oppose out of control taxes. What happens when you have a secularist world view. Hmmm Nazi Germany, Stalinist Soviet Union, China under Mao, and Cuba under Castro. Yes you are right, a secular humanist view is indeed the way to go!
Yeah... so for asserting that the Tea Party agenda and rhetoric shouldn't be restrictive, folks like me are now the reason why Hitler came to power, according to a few Christian leaders out there. (Yes, leaders - this example came from a guy whom I've never met who pastors a local church.)
I ask: if I'm not a Christian and I don't share the agenda of making America a Christian nation, where is exactly is my place in this country, according to the Christian? Because pardon me, but I just spent a lot of time working damn hard to preserve liberty in this country - and succeeded in helping to bring 3,000 people to the state capitol - and for that, I'm told that people like me are part of the reason tyranny and communism get traction?
A few points/questions:
What do you suppose my picture of Christianity is now? Or am I just an irrelevant carbon footprint since I am not interested in being evangelized at this time?
How do these abrasive Christians intend to partner with non-Christians to achieve anything if they're defensive and strident in presenting their Christian view at every opportunity? (I was told by one person that I was being "exclusionary" because I didn't support "free speech for Christians." So I guess you're anti-first-amendment unless you support them saying their spiel at every public event.)
How representative of Christianity is this?
I ask the last question because yesterday I was at a business meeting and was introduced to a well-known Christian, who made the assumption that I was a Christian, and during the conversation asked me about the state of my walk with Christ.
"Well, I used to be a Christian. I'm not one now."
At which point her face showed her clear distaste for me and she later said, "Have fun avoiding God!" as we said our goodbyes.
And the weird thing is that I was there to discuss perhaps helping her improve her promotion of herself. At least I know it's one less email I need to write...
I have to say, if I were Jesus and this were my brand being trashed like this, I'd be firing some folks. How do you attract people to the brand without diluting the brand? That's not hard.
(And I have another example, but I won't go into it - I think I've made my point.)
I once lived in Corvallis, Oregon. I remember going to OSU's campus for the first time and seeing these two guys, standing in front of a huge cross, yelling that everyone was a sinner and going to hell. Successful? Nope. Nobody talked to these guys. Everyone walked around them in a big circle to avoid contact.
I ask: how removed from that is my recent experience?
I used to be a Christian. The last thing Jesus said on earth was to go make disciples of all nations. Do you do that by taking non-Christians for granted, forcing your morality out there for others to adopt, and being rude?
It's a big world out there. If you want people to come play in your sandbox, don't you have to first treat other people like you want to be treated? Or perhaps as Jesus would want you to treat them, if you are a Christian?
Tomorrow, I hold a 5th strategy session with a non-profit here in Des Moines. We're walking through the RAISED survey, and the executive director told me last week that these meetings are the ones he most looks forward to each week. We're rethinking their org, and we're coming to some sound conclusions about direction.
One aspect we're expanding for them is their volunteer base. Volunteers are a free resource to a non-profit in struggling economic times. The volunteers themselves might be looking for more meaning and purpose in how they spend their time. So how do we widen that channel of good energy?
A while back, I built the 247 technology, and in my discussions with them and also with my work on the successful Des Moines Tea Party, how to best engage a base of volunteers has been on my mind a lot. People want to give to those efforts they really believe in. How do you pull them in and keep them productive in ways that entice them to come back again and again because it feels so good to them?
I think I can repurpose the 247 technology for such a need. And so today, I'm working on a first draft for political volunteers.
But whether it's political volunteers or engaging volunteers for anything, the needs are roughly the same. I've compiled a list of skills, categorized them, and now on my laptop's localhost, I'm retooling.
I'll take this into the strategy session tomorrow. The executive director told me that non-profits don't have anything like this to manage volunteers. So we'll see if my exploration here will prove worthwhile.
Wells Fargo Co. (WFC) CEO John Stumpf on Tuesday defended the company's decision to accept $25 billion from a government fund meant for distressed banks and said the company will "earn its way out" of the situation.
At that rate of profit, that means that every penny of Wells Fargo's profits for the next two years will be required to pay back the TARP money.
Keep in mind that this all seems like a lot of money.
How does a trillion sound? A trillion is a million millions. And we're spending trillions of dollars at the national level. Do you know how long it would take Wells Fargo - a huge and successful bank by any standard - to pay pay back a trillion dollars? 83 years. Every penny of profit for 83 years.
If you think it's responsible for the government to be spending trillions of dollars, to be paid back by our kids, you're either really bad at math, or you are immoral for the hurt you promote to our children.
Vermont's recently legislature voted to allow gay marriage. Now, New Hampshire is on that path.
Of course, Iowa's Supreme Court rendered a ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. A lot of folks are agitating for a vote by the people of Iowa. I'm good with that. Let the people vote...
The question I have for those who oppose gay marriage: what liberty is removed from others by two gays marrying? And if it doesn't impact anyone's liberty, why do you care about the personal life of someone else who isn't infringing on the liberty of others?