Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Baby Boomer Factor

Seventy-six million American children were born between 1946 and 1964. This is known as the baby boomer generation. The oldest among the baby boomer generation is now 63 years old. Some are beginning to retire - others have some working years left. 

I'm exploring this in today's post because of the current turmoil on Wall Street. There have been a number of books published in past years which point to the retirement of the baby boomers as a turning point for Wall Street. Of course, they were not envisioning the housing bubble and the fiscal irresponsibility of government regulations on the lending industry... they were envisioning large numbers of people beginning to retire, collect social security, and live off their investments. Once these boomers really begin to retire, what will happen?

Back in 2005, the Seattle Times published an article - "Retirement of Baby Boomers May Reverberate In Workplace." According to this article, baby boomers make up 1/3 of the nation's workforce. Arlene Dohm, an economist with the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, D.C., says "Baby boomers are going to be retiring in droves starting with the end of this decade. There are certain industries and professions that are going to be hit very hard." Then, there are those who say that baby boomers retiring won't be a problem at all because "free-spending boomers haven't saved enough to quit... and they're too work-obsessed to leave before they have to be carried out." But according to economist Robert Willis, everything from the financial health of countless companies to the solvency of Social Security is at stake as boomers retire in coming years. "These are literally trillion-dollar questions."

Running the numbers, between 2008 and 2020, tens of millions of people will be leaving the workforce (assuming traditional retirement age holds true). What does this mean for the national economy? For government budgets? If you have fewer people in the workforce (paying income taxes) and a shrinking economy (due to fewer people working to enlarge it) and a growing government outlay in programs such as Social Security and Medicare, how do you balance those books?

In January of this year, there were multiple columns written about how the retirement of baby boomers may bust the housing market. Oops. I guess we took care of that for them. But if that was a thought before, does that mean that the retirement of baby boomers will create a greater housing market problem? If so, what does that mean for the current bailout going on in Washington? Is that 700 billion dollars going to be a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, or a band-aid on a mortal wound? 

So here we are, our government spending money like it's going out of style. "You need a hand? Here - have a couple billion. Have a couple hundred billion." I've heard it said that the government created the problem (and yes, they certainly had a hand in it with their social engineering -- demanding that lenders allow every Tom Dick and Harry the American dream of owning their own home regardless of whether they could afford it) and the government is obligated to help fix it. I guess there's a certain amount of sense to that -- but is handing out ready cash going to fix it? We have bigger problems on the horizon, too. 

How much can the government give without going bust themselves? With the upcoming years giving us a population in which only half of us is working, how in the world are we going to pay for everything? 

And now we have two well-known presidential contenders... one of whom wants to solve the problem by eliminating earmarks (which is a nice start, don't get me wrong -- but nowhere near enough) and another who wants to mostly ignore the earmarks as insignificant and focus on what else the government can add to their obligations (nationalized health care, etc...). There are other choices as well... Libertarian Bob Barr with running mate Wayne Allyn Root, Peace and Freedom party's Ralph Nader with running mate Matt Gonzalez, Constitution party's Charles O. Baldwin with running mate Darrell Castle, America's Independent party's Alan Keyes with running mate Brian Rohrbough, and Green Party's Cynthia McKinney with running mate Rosa Clemente. That's a fat lot of presidential contenders of whom most people have never heard!

What we need? 

An overhaul of our politicians (with precious few exceptions). A return to our roots - remember the constitution, enumerating the powers of the federal government? Let's find that old-fashioned document, dust it off and read it. And lets dig in and pay the price we need to pay NOW, lest the interest added by putting it off bankrupt us entirely.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Such Fun...

Katie Couric did a dizzying interview with Biden on a bus, of all places. I'm not just trying to be overly critical here - a person could seriously get car sick trying to watch the interview... the bus was moving about sixty miles an hour. Thankfully, the bus atmosphere was consistently broken up with footage of Biden saying things and a voice over, which stated at one point, "Relating to the fears of the average American is one of Biden's strong suits." 

Ah, yes... perhaps. But history? Not so much. Biden was talking about the current credit crisis as he proclaimed, "Part of what a leader does to instill confidence is demonstrate that he or she knows what they're talking about and communicates to people. 'If you listen to me and follow what I'm suggesting, we can fix this.' When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed, he said, 'Look. Here's what happened.'"

See? I knew it was going to be fun having Biden on the campaign trail! I can guarantee that if Roosevelt got on a television in 1929, nobody was listening to the man for two reasons. One, nobody had a television, and two, Roosevelt wasn't president in 1929. He was the governor of New York. He took office as president in 1933.

Katie Couric also asked Biden about the tone of the campaign:

Couric: Are you disappointed with the tone of the campaign -- the lipstick on the pig stuff and some of the ads? And you guys haven't been completely guilt-free, making fun of John McCain's inability to use a computer...

Biden: I thought that was terrible, by the way.

Couric: Why'd you do it then?

Biden: I didn't know we did it, and if I'd had anything to do with it, we would have never done it. I don't think Barack... you know, I just think that was...

Couric: Did Barack Obama approve that ad? He said he did, right?

Biden: I don't think anything was intentional about that. They were trying to make another point.


On ABC's "Good Morning America," Biden said, "We want to take money and put it back in the pocket of middle-class people..." When discussing how wealthier Americans would pay more, he said, "It's time to be patriotic... time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to help get America out of the rut." 

Ooops. Of course, in order for Biden to put money back in the pocket of somebody, he would have had to take it from there to begin with... and the suggestion that paying higher taxes is going to jump start the economy and get America out of a rut is hilarious. 

Monday, September 22, 2008

Having It Both Ways

On Black Tuesday, October 29,1929, the stock market crashed, triggering the Great Depression, the worst economic collapse in the history of the modern industrial world. It spread from the United States to the rest of the world, lasting from the end of 1929 until the early 1940s. With banks failing and businesses closing, more than 15 million Americans (one-quarter of the workforce) became unemployed... Blamed by many for the Great Depression, Hoover was widely ridiculed: an empty pocket turned inside out was called a "Hoover flag;" the decrepit shantytowns springing up around the country were called "Hoovervilles." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the rich governor from New York, offered Americans a New Deal, and was elected in a landslide victory in 1932. He took quick action to attack the Depression, declaring a four-day bank holiday, during which Congress passed the Emergency Banking Relief Act to stabilize the banking system... The Great Depression and the New Deal changed forever the relationship between Americans and their government. Government involvement and responsibility in caring for the needy and regulating the economy came to be expected.  -

I know there are a good number of people in the United States who will disagree with me, but I don't think the New Deal was a great thing for our country. I believe it laid the groundwork for our decline into socialism.  

"SOCIALISM!! COMMUNISM!! MARXISM!!" All these words and ideas have been screeched at the top of many lungs. So much so, in fact, that people are likely to react to such screeching now with a wave of the hand and the brief thought that somebody, somewhere is over-reacting to something. I know because this is often my reaction when the screechers begin.  

So rest assured, I'm not going to screech. Only educate. Let's begin with some definitions:

Socialism (as relates to Marxist theory) is defined as a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism.

Communism is defined as a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs. 

Proletariat is defined as a worker.

Bourgeois is defined as a business owner. 

To all you progressives out there, I know that this particular piece of writing will be nowhere near nuanced enough. (Ever notice how much the progressives love nuances?) But I'm going to keep it simple. 

Karl Marx lived from 1818 to 1883 and during his lifetime he wrote many works advocating specific political philosophies. His ideas did not become popular until after his death, and once his ideas became popular, they were put into practice in ways that would possibly be frowned on by Marx himself were he alive to witness the event. Marx, in fact, defined communism as the phase reached when class society and the state had already been abolished. It was an utopian idea, really -- one unattainable, given human nature. But in his philosophy, once the initial stage of socialism had been established, society would develop over several generations, into the "higher phase of communism" when bourgeois relations had been abandoned. 

In 1917, Vladimir Lenin masterminded the Bolshevik take-over of power in Russia and was the architect and first head of the Soviet state. With his direct take-over, his efforts to transform the Russian economy to a socialist model stalled the economy, but he was undeterred. He introduced the New Economic Policy. This allowed peasants to sell their food surpluses on the open market, which eventually led to the denationalization of small-scale industry and services. Under NEP, the Soviet economy revived.

Stalin was a nasty Soviet leader who replaced the NEP with "Five Year Plans" in 1928. He confiscated land from farmers and forced the industrialization of farming. Any farmer who refused his "reforms" were derided as "kulaks" (or rich peasants)... Millions were killed, exiled to Siberia, or died of starvation after their land, homes, and meager possessions were taken to form Stalin's "factory farms." 

At the end of the 1930s, Stalin began the Great Purge, a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution. During these campaigns, millions of people who were viewed as a threat to Soviet politics were executed or exiled to Gulag labor camps. 

Okay, I know... I started talking about the New Deal and then delved into a tirade on Russian politics. Strange? I suppose... but I have a point (I think).

Communist governments have historically been characterized by state ownership of productive resources in a planned economy and sweeping campaigns of economic restructuring such as nationalization of industry. While they verbalize "collective ownership," Communist governments have been characterized by a strong state structure where decisions are made by the ruling class. Never has any self-claimed socialist state morphed beautifully into a communal living structure where there are no class differentiations. The very thought of this as a possibility is complete idiocy.

In a true socialist society, you have two classes: the powerful and the powerless. It's no longer about money, but about freedom (or the lack thereof). I would argue the same is true in "State capitalism," where a command economy (or centrally planned economy) is in force. This is simply where supply and price are regulated by the government rather than market forces.

Now consider the following news from the AP:

"Judges could rewrite mortgages to lower bankrupt homeowners' monthly payments as part of changes congressional Democrats are seeking in the Bush administration's proposed $700 billion financial system bailout. Also, companies that unloaded their bad assets on the government in the massive rescue would have to limit their executives' pay packages... The proposal by Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., the Banking Committee chairman, gives the government broad power to buy up virtually any kind of bad asset - including credit card debt or car loans - from any financial institution in the U.S. or abroad in order to stabilize markets... The plan also requires that the government get shares in the troubled companies helped by the rescue.... It also would require that the government come up with a 'systematic approach for preventing foreclosure' on the mortgages it acquires..."

This is frightening enough to me, in and of itself. The government is going to be buying all the bad debt from the financial industry? How stupid is that? The bad debt is what's sinking these giants right and left. Frankly, our government is already in the hole far enough - do we really need to see what it's going to take to bankrupt us entirely? And beyond that, the government is effectively taking ownership of previously private companies. With the entire industry in trouble, the government could own large shares from most of the financial industry. But the article continues...

"Asked if the negotiations could slow down passage of the measure, [Treasury spokeswoman Brookly McLaughlin] said, 'We are confident that we can get a bill done this week.' ...Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services panel, said that Paulson 'is being entirely unreasonable' to expect that Congress will pass a bill right away without examining the proposal thoroughly and adding provisions Democrats want, such as the curbs on executive pay. We want to limit those as a condition for giving them aid. The private sector got us into this mess,' Frank said, 'The government has to get us out of it. We want to do it carefully.'"

This financial mess is a big deal. Fiscal irresponsibility has been reigning for generations - and it appears to be time to pay the piper. But now nobody wants to pay... and the government will bail people out... we can't have the Republican party blamed throughout history for the second Great Depression, after all. But America's jugular has been slit -- and they keep throwing band-aids on it. It's not going to last. And who's going to bail out the American government? The well of taxpayer money will quickly run dry.

I was recently talking with a family member (whom I dearly love,  just in case he reads this). He made the statement that he's totally for the free market, but the bail-outs are necessary. He said that he didn't want to have to go through years of hardship before the free market gets back on its feet. 

But you can't have it both ways. It's not possible to be for the free market and for government intervention in the free market. Once the government intervenes (to the tune of taking ownership of previously private corporations, no less) it's no longer free.

I guess I'm in the minority now, but for me? I'll choose freedom over ease and security any day of my life. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Senseless Economics

Having an inquiring mind has its ups and downs. Right now, I'm in a downward slump. 

See, I have many people who will call or email me to ask about one issue or another -- knowing that I love research and will dig until I find the answer... normally, this is not a big problem for me. But when it comes to the economical struggles our country is currently facing, I am having so much trouble getting my head around it all. I confess to being an economic ignoramus. Read that last sentence carefully, for that's the only warning you're going to get.

I'm reading news accounts of trouble on Wall Street... financial institutions threatening to fold right and left... needing "rescue." Ah... the federal government steps in. To the tune of trillions of dollars so far, they are rescuing giants everywhere. I find this to be troubling. 

Sighs of relief abound, however, on Wall Street and elsewhere... because in the rescue there is a reprieve from the staggering losses. 

Because I have no degree in economics, I resort to good old-fashioned common sense to form my opinion on this issue. I think the rescue of these financial giants by the government is a scary thing. I think they should fall... and maybe fall hard. Would it hurt? Of course. But that doesn't change my opinion. 

See, I think those breathing a sigh of relief right about now are quite short-sighted. Certainly, the pain is postponed. And, when you're talking about a dreadfully sick person, postponing the inevitable pain and death is a common sense option. But when you're talking about saving somebody from their stupid and risky behavior, not so much.

If, for example, my child were to do something dreadfully stupid in his teenage years and end up being arrested, the last thing I would do would be to run to his rescue and bail him out of the trouble he got himself into. Sounds harsh, I suppose, but in the long run, I think he would learn a better lesson by the natural consequences of his behavior. If I run and bail him out of trouble every time he gets into it, he's going to continue his reckless behavior. Same thing here. Thus, the parent doing the bailing is just as reckless as their child (perhaps showing a hereditary factor in the foolishness department). 

And in the case of the financial bailouts, the government is showing themselves to be just as stupid and reckless as the financial institutions that got into so much trouble. 

All this leads me to ask the question: If common sense is no longer a common thing, should we think about calling it something else?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Government As Solution Is A Big Problem

I'm not going to try and pass myself off as an economist -- but I will say that many of the things that are transpiring right now don't make sense to me from an economical standpoint. If any reader happens to know far more than I and can make sense of this for me, I'd love to hear it. As it stands, here's how I see it:

We've had some irresponsible lenders out there in the last few years. I'm pretty sure that everyone can agree on that. And let's not leave out the irresponsible borrowers. Let's face it - just because somebody tells you that you can get the money doesn't mean you're obligated to take it. 

So... due to the irresponsibility of a number of people, we have a "mortgage crisis." Many homes are going into foreclosure, mortgage dollars are harder to come by (since the irresponsibility has proven to be incredibly short sighted - the mortgage industry has changed their tune), and the housing bubble has officially burst (making home values plummet, which further increases the foreclosures, etc...). What a vicious cycle. 

Because so many mortgage holders are defaulting, and banks are sitting on houses that are worth sometimes half the amount owed on them, banks are in trouble. Fannie and Freddie are in deep doodoo... but never fear! The government is going to bail them out -- because they're too big to fail. This seems to me like insanity. Too big to fail?? I see... so since these large institutions have gotten insanely huge, it's now the job of the taxpayer to foot the bill for irresponsible behavior. 

But that's not where it ends. Lehman Brothers is in trouble. And nobody in the private sector cares to buy them as things stand (at least that's what I can gather from what I read). Bank of America, after looking into Lehman Brothers, decided to buy Merrill Lynch instead. And now Lehman is still floating out there... waiting for help. But never fear! The headline today reads, "Fed Loosens Standards on Emergency Loans." Apparently, the Federal Reserve didn't want to provide a financial backstop to potential buyers -- but it decided to dramatically loosen its standards on making emergency loans to major Wall Street investment banks instead. Seriously?? This, right after lightly slapping the hands of lenders for their irresponsibility? Whatever... this is why the government shouldn't be in charge of much at all.

"In an obscure but highly important announcement late Sunday evening, the Fed said it would let Wall Street firms post as collateral much riskier assets - including equities, junk bonds, subprime mortgage -backed securities and even whole mortgages - in exchange for emergency loans through the Primary Dealer Credit Facility." Ha! So our government doesn't want to provide the "backstop," but they're willing to take as collateral subprime loans?? Isn't this pretty much the equivalent (in today's market) of accepting as collateral the dog doo from the backyard? 

This is one of the things I find so irritating about government. When something is done in the private sector that leads to disaster or near-disaster, the government is all about inquiries and investigations -- and attacking the irresponsible corporations that created a mess. Think: Enron. But now, with bailouts and backdrops abounding, the government decides to take more of the people's money and sink it into highly risky endeavors with the same people who were irresponsible to begin with. 

This wouldn't be anywhere near as irritating to me if the government somehow managed to create wealth themselves. But they don't. Their plan is just to suck us all dry. And then the presidential candidates run around saying they're not planning to raise taxes! What a joke.

Here's the deal: Barack Obama is intent on raising spending to such a degree that a hike in the tax rate of the most wealthy wouldn't begin to cover it. McCain, while not subscribing to the same amount of spending, hasn't been overly vocal about stopping the bailouts, etc... either way, they're going to have to raise taxes considerably... and that won't even keep up with the insanity that passes for policy in Washington. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Coming Unglued

They're coming unglued. Seriously.

And I don't know about you, but I'm really digging this Sarah Palin stuff. She's awesome! Of course, she's completely consumed McCain's campaign... and you know, since he announced her as his running mate, I'm seeing McCain signs in people's yards around here. Very interesting. 

But back to the "coming unglued" stuff...

Steve Cohen, representing the people of Memphis, TN, said on the House floor, "I submit to you, uh, Mr. Speaker, that the parties have differences. But if you want change you want the Democratic party. Uh, Barack Obama was a community organizer like Jesus who our, uh, minister prayed about, uh, Pontius Pilate was a governor. Thank you, Mr. Speaker."

For real?!? You really wanted to say that? In public?? It's funny to picture Cohen, standing in his office (no mirror present, judging by the state of his hair as he made this particular speech), practicing what he obviously thought was a witty remark. What a hoot.

Joe Biden on Palin's speech: "Her speech was an amazing speech in two ways. It was incredibly well-crafted and delivered, but there wasn't a single - I didn't hear the phrase 'middle class,' I didn't hear a single word about health care, I didn't hear a single word about helping people get to college, I didn't hear a single word or phrase about how to deal with retirement security for people and social security. I didn't hear the word Afghanistan or Pakistan mentioned where the terrorists live, you know... I mean, I, where Al Qaeda is, so, you know, what I'm gonna try to do and I may not be able, I mean she's so good, I may not be able to get to it, I'm gonna try, is try to point out where we want to take the country and how they don't have a single answer how to dig us out of the hole we've been dug into the last eight years."

Now isn't this funny? Biden is going to criticize Palin's speech on the grounds that it didn't include any of the Democrat talking points. And you gotta love his foot-in-mouth disease, too. Pakistan is "where the terrorists live." I'll bet there are some peeved Pakistanis right about now, huh? And then, his effort to lower expectations as to his own debate performance and try to raise expectations as to hers. Crafty, but a bit transparent.

Washington Post writer Sally Quinn says, "She said a couple of days ago, 'I don't know what the Vice President does.' And I still believe that a woman with 5 children and a Down Syndrome baby - uh, and I think that she hasn't even started to find out what it's going to be like to raise a child, I have a learning disabled child, I have to tell you, it takes an enormous amount of time or effort. And one of the things that John McCain emphasized over and over was 'you put your country first.' And so, I need to know as a citizen, um, you can't do it all..."

One begs to ask Ms. Quinn - considering the fact that you don't believe it possible to parent a learning disabled child well and have a full time job with pressure and responsibilities, are we to assume that you didn't care properly for your own child? Certainly, you have had your share of pressures and responsibilities in your rise to semi-fame?

That said, I am one of those people who recognizes that one really cannot do it all and have it all. Gov. Palin is, in her current role as Governor, not acting as stay-at-home, full time mommy to her children. (Just like millions of other women around the country.) She appears, thankfully, to have a pretty cool husband who also appears to be a loving and caring father. I'm sure this helps.

And Barack Obama finally gets something right: "There's no doubt that, you know, the Republicans are excited, particularly the right wing of the Republican Party is excited by Sen. - or Gov. Palin's choice. I think that has less to do with gender than it has to do with her ideological predispositions which are closely aligned to theirs." 

Yes, this is true. I really, really like her. I'm actually excited. And it's not because she's "got the same plumbing" as me. (Although, I have to admit, seeing a woman who is that strong is pretty cool.) But I like what she stands for. 

John Roberts of CNN says, "There's also this issue that on April 18th, she gave birth to a baby with Down Syndrome. The baby is just slightly more than 4 months old now. Children with Down Syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of vice president, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of, how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?"

This, of course, from a Democrat - who is most likely of the belief that a Down Syndrome baby has no right to live anyway. Kind of hard to take his concern to heart then.

I know that Sarah Palin is supposed to be interviewed this week by Charles Gibson. I am looking forward to seeing that one. If I read her right, all the speculation and negativity in the press towards here is going to energize her and give her greater confidence. She seems like the type of person who sees her opposition ramping it up and takes that as a mark of her success. It will be interesting to see how she does. And I can hardly wait for the Vice Presidential debate on October 2nd!

Party on... I'm a Republican again!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Blogger's Reaction To Bloggers' Reactions

"Does America really need a religious extremist a heartbeat away from the Oval Office? If your answer is yes, then vote for Sarah Palin." - Mark C. Eades, blogger

Tim Sledge, a blogger from Keller, TX, writes of Sarah Palin's "attacks" on Obama in her speech at the Republican Convention by saying, "I found myself feeling violated, depressed and angry... Have you wondered how a deeply religious person like Sarah Palin can be so vicious in her comments about Barack Obama?" This same writer goes on to explain the "double standard" being applied to Palin and Obama by gaining an understanding of "the mindset of religious and political fundamentalists" via the "Six Principles of Fundamentalism."

1. Good and "evil" are always black and white with no shades of gray.
2. "We" are on the side of "good," and "they" are on the side of "evil."
3. "We" must do whatever is necessary to defeat "them" even if we have to use "evil" tactics.
4. If you are one of "them," nothing you do can be regarded as "good," even if the same behavior, when practiced by one of "us" would be regarded as "good."
5. If you are one of "us," you can be exempted from our disapproval even when you do something that would be considered "evil" if done by one of "them."
6. If you are one of "us," but fail to follow these principles, you are no longer one of "us."

This list, written by an enormous Obama supporter, floored me. I have to assume that he truly believes this to be true of most conservatives. I have to assume he believes this list to be true of me, for I like Sarah Palin a lot. But the thing is, I see parts of this list to be true on the liberal side of things. Of course, liberals don't truly believe in good vs. evil, which is why his list had to have the word "evil" in quotations marks. But I certainly see a "them vs. us" approach  in the worldview of liberals. 

He goes on to say, "Living by these principles requires a disconnect from reality... This disconnect enables some followers of Jesus to stay hooked up with the political party that thrives on war and conflict, has turned its back on the poor, gives favors to the rich, and pretends that the polar ice cap is not melting. ...these principles of fundamentalism trump the teachings of Jesus about loving your enemies, not judging others, and treating others the way you want to be treated. Exhibit A is Sarah Palin's sneering condemnation of Barack Obama's motives and trivialization of his achievements."

Oooo... where to start? I guess by saying the Republican party is NOT perfect. Some reform is most certainly needed. That said, Republicans do not thrive on war and conflict. But when conflict arises, they're not afraid to take it on. Republicans have not turned their backs on the poor, but they don't believe that the governmental distribution of wealth is the best way to help them. And on that note, allowing people to keep more of the money for which they have worked is not "giving favors to the rich." AND I'm not pretending the polar ice cap is not melting, nor am I pretending to know more about weather patterns than I actually do. 

I don't think anything trumps the teachings of Jesus in any respect. But Sarah Palin's response to the democrat's assertion that she's not qualified was a response to an attack. It's a little bit funny to assume that because Sarah Palin is a Christian, Jesus would expect her to say, "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry about my qualifications." She's in politics! When someone is attacking her during a political race that's at a dead heat, pointing out (with a sense of humor, no less) the fact that her qualifications are every bit as good as the Democrat nominee's is just PERFECT.

Douglas Groothuis of Colorado blogs, "Gov. Palin has attained the feminist dream, 'having it all.' She is a wife, mother, and successful politician and poised for greater influence than ever. However, she is not a liberal feminist, since she is Christian, pro-life, and politically conservative. This rankles liberal feminists to no end. What the heck happened?" and then later, "The liberal media gives the religion of Obama a pass and does not hold against him the racist rantings of his twenty-year pastor... But the liberal media will descend on Palin's religion and deem her a 'holy roller,' since she has a background in the Pentecostal Assemblies of God. This is how it works: religion held by a leftist is sacrosanct since it inspires him (Obama) to justice and goodness; religion held by a conservative is dangerous and fanatical, since you never know what a God-obsessed person (Palin) might do."

And to this I give a resounding "AMEN." 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

All About Sarah

Sarah Palin was born February 11, 1964. She is the third in a family of four children. Her mother was a school secretary and her father was a science teacher and track coach. As she was growing up, she was actively involved in many things. She hunted with her father, she was heavily involved in athletics at school, she was the head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, she participated in (and won) beauty pageants, and she played the flute. 

She went to college in Hawaii and Idaho, where she received a Bachelors degree in communications-journalism and a minor in political science. 

In 1992, Palin ran for a three year term on the Wasilla city council. She won, and ended up winning a second three year term in 1995. In 1996, she ran against John Stein for the office of Mayor of Wasilla. She won this race as well, after she criticized Stein for his wasteful spending and high taxes. 

In 1997, Palin fired the police chief of Wasilla and the librarian, saying she wanted the change because the two didn't support her administration. The police chief filed suit, but the court dismissed it. Palin ended up hiring the librarian back after the residents of Wasilla made clear their support for it.

While mayor, Palin reduced her own salary and reduced property taxes by 40%. 

Palin won a second term in 1999 in a landslide. 

The office of mayor in Wasilla has term limits, so Palin was not eligible to run again. 

Palin chaired the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from 2003 to 2004 as well as serving as Ethics Supervisor. In January of 2004, Palin resigned her position in protest of the "lack of ethics" of fellow Republican members.

Palin ran for Governor in 2006 on a "clean-government" platform. She defeated the sitting Republican governor in the primary and became the first female governor of Alaska at the age of 42, winning the popular vote by 48.3 percent to her opponent's 40.9 percent. 

Palin doesn't appear to have any issue breaking with Republican establishment when she feels it's called for. When she bucks the system, she does so publicly and (it appears to me) with integrity. She publicly challenged Ted Stevens to come clean in his financial dealings (for which he was being investigated) but also held a joint news conference with him shortly before he was indicted... not willing to completely abandon him at a low point in his life.

Palin is a strong proponent for oil and natural gas exploration and drilling in Alaska, including in ANWR. She has created groups of advisers to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in her state. She has refused to commit herself to a position of belief in man-made climate change, however.

The state of Alaska, because of high oil prices, has generated a surplus from tax on the oil companies. Palin proposed sending Alaskans $1200 in rebates to help them pay for their increased energy costs over the year from this surplus. 

Palin objected to listing polar bears as an endangered species and filed a lawsuit to stop the listing. She said the move was premature and was not the appropriate management tool for the bears' welfare. There was much speculation and fear that the listing would hurt oil and gas development off Alaska's northern and northwestern coasts.

From all I can tell, Palin follows through on what she says. While campaigning for governor, she promised to sell a jet purchased by the previous administration on state government credit. She sold the jet on eBay in August of 2007. She campaigned on a "clean government" platform, and promptly went through and cleaned up the government. If there were people in office who didn't belong there, she threw them out posthaste. 

Palin and her administration are currently under investigation for allegations of "potential abuses of power and/or improper actions by members of the executive branch." This is due to her dismissal of Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan. She had offered him a different job as director of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, but he didn't want it. Monegan accuses Palin of dismissing him in retaliation for his failure to fire Palin's former brother-in-law. Most people have heard about this, but the news generally doesn't cover the fact that her brother in law had made death threats against Palin's father, among other things. Wooten had been officially disciplined for this behavior -- but was then in a bitter child-custody battle with Palin's sister. It's a messy situation... 

Palin is strongly pro-life, living this belief out in her own life. Her youngest son, Trig, was prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome. When this happened, she announced that her child was going to be "special in many ways." Palin's daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant at the age of seventeen. She plans to marry her boyfriend and keep her baby.

So this is what I've been able to glean about Sarah Palin's life, her beliefs, and her integrity. I don't think this page finds her to be perfect, but it does find her to be decent. All in all, I really think she was a good choice for McCain. I've heard people decry her lack of experience -- but, in some respects, if she's a person with wisdom and integrity and she lacks "political experience," this might actually be a plus. Frankly, a lack of political experience is going to be coupled by a lack of cynicism. Remember "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington?" No offense to Washington, but I think we could all use at least ONE Jimmy Stewart there. 

I also have to think it's a bit funny when the Obama supporters slam Palin for her lack of experience. Really, do you think she's not experienced enough to be Vice President, but Obama is experienced enough for the main job? This idea is really too much.

Really, what is it that would give a person adequate experience to become President of the United States? How does one train for the position of "leader of the free world?" Certainly not by putting 50 years of one's life into a senate seat... One could argue that a governorship lends one the managerial expertise needed in the Presidency... but I'm pretty sure that once you go from governing a state to "leader of the free world," it's a very different ball game. 

So, I guess I'd like to choose for president the person with the highest level of integrity and honor -- the person who has exhibited the ability to think outside the box, be creative and resourceful, and who says and lives what they believe. Too bad we don't have anybody like that running for President. But I have to say, I think I'm glad that we have somebody like that as next in line.