Sunday, September 11, 2011

Barack and the Bean Stalk

Thursday night I listened to President Obama's "Jobs" speech. As I watched, I found myself thinking, "I've heard this story before." Then it came to me; Jack and the Beanstalk. You know, Jack and his mom are down to their last cow, it's sell the critter, eat the profits, and then die. But, instead of trading the cow for the price of a few day's food, Jack trades Bessy for some magic beans and ends up King of the World!!!

Friday, I asked my students how many had watched the speech. I had attempted to bribe them with extra points - but out of three classes and over 100 kids there weren't more than 5. I had met one of my colleges on the stairs and asked them what they thought. An energetic Democrat she replied she thought it was a great speech. Since my students could provide no argument to my position - I went to visit this teacher during lunch, hoping for a foil to sharpen my arguments against - come to find out she hadn't actually watched the speech. I went down the hall to another Social Studies teacher - same thing. By the end of the day I had spoken with most of my department - none had listened to Obama. Apart from my few bribed students and my wife, I haven't found an adult who watch the performance before the joint session of Congress yet. Perhaps it was the 5:00 PM Mountain Standard Time slot that jinxed the speech - or perhaps it's that they have all heard the story before.

I will give a couple of observations: First, on Obama's plan to pay for his $447 billion Jobs Bill by cuts in the budget over the next ten years. What if a friend came to you, one you care for and have helped out before -perhaps you let them live in your basement and fed them for a couple of years, they have not however proven to be particularly reliable. They ask to borrow $10,000.00 "RIGHT NOW". They promise they will pay you back at $1,000.00 a year over the next ten years. You ask where they will get the money and they reply that they will reduce the amount they take from you each year by $1,000.00 so you can save that much each year. So, by the end of 10 years you will have saved the $10,000.00 and you'll be even. Would you, who have a family to feed and bills of your own to pay, agree to the deal? If so, I'll be over real soon!

Second, on the Free Trade Agreements, which, by the way, Republicans have been trying to get through over the protests of Harry Reid and Obama himself, Obama promises that if Congress passes the Bill, or is it throw the beans out the window, Koreans will be buying Fords, Chevys, and Chryslers. Bogus! They can buy better cars for less money made in their own country. And why can't the "big three" make better and less expensive cars? Because of Unions which won't let American car makers pay a fair wage that encourages productivity and rewards excellence. But wait a minute!!! the best cars in the world are already made in America, and sell very well all over Asia! What car is that? Toyota - made in America in non-Union shops that allow workers to be rewarded more for working harder and better. The solution is right under Obama's nose, but he would rather put his hope in magic beans.

Third, though paying tertiary lip service to domestic production of energy, Obama and his minions do everything possible to prevent the US from taking advantage of its vast reserves of domestic fuel. Instead, wealth flows out of America into foreign coffers and we are forced to buy the fuel that "pollutes our air" from people who want us dead. It seems we can't even sell our cow - we must trade our hopes for fairy tails.

The fairy tail went on and on - I listened, and I read, although I've heard it all before; a nice story but I have never believed it to be true.


Tiffany said...

"Because of Unions which won't let American car makers pay a fair wage that encourages productivity and rewards excellence. But wait a minute!!! the best cars in the world are already made in America, and sell very well all over Asia! What car is that? Toyota - made in America in non-Union shops that allow workers to be rewarded more for working harder and better. The solution is right under Obama's nose, but he would rather put his hope in magic beans."

I think this can be said about many Unions right now, not just the UAW. American business and education can both find lessons in this truth you've pointed out.

Dan said...

I will be the first to admit I did not watch the speech, I have wearied of the drama that is the political speech, I often read them afterwards, so I can get it without the boos, applause, and show.

I will, however, gladly comment on your three points.

First, without a judgement for or against, I believe you are completely incorrect in how this bill is proposed to be paid for. this article puts for the actual proposed way to pay for the bill. Its mostly through limiting tax deductions on individuals making more than 200k and families making more than 250k. You very well may still disagree with the funding method, just thought it should be clear what the proposal is.

Second, I agree wholeheartedly about the unions.

Third, a few problems I have with how you present your third point. First, the number 1 country we import oil from is Canada, in fact, in the top 5 countries we import from you could really only say that Venezuela is institutionally against us. That makes up about 83% of the oil we use, our production and the top 5 countries we import from. Second, whenever people talk about domestic production of oil I think the reasoning is greatly flawed.

First, the oil economy is a world economy, more oil being produced in the U.S. would absolutely not automatically equate to either a decrease in prices nor a decrease in foreign oil imported. U.S. oil manufacturers do not sell their product cheaper than do other countries. We wouldn't get a deal. Prices would stay the same based mostly on speculation and somewhat on supply and demand. And with China and India moving into that market, you can guarantee new drilling aside, the demand is going to continue to increase, U.S. oil companies aren't going to drill it out, refine it, then sell it domestically for less than they can export it.

Second, the idea that Oil and Gas are being prevented from extracting by Federal stops is great rhetoric, but not truth. Yes, there are many places that are either considered off limits, or are heavily regulated. However, in Utah alone there are thousands, literally thousands, of oil and gas leases that are currently not being used. Not because the companies are not allowed to, but because the company has chosen not to move forward yet. Refineries aren't sitting empty and unused. Third, whether or not this administration is doing enough to push for alternate energy sources (which they absolutely aren't), the idea that increased domestic fossil fuel extraction and use is any sort of responsible or long term energy answer is, in my own opinion, ridiculous. Dependence on foreign oil isn't the unsustainable problem, dependence on oil at all is.

Dan said...

To the substance of the plan itself. I think the payroll tax cuts and the tax incentives for hiring are fabulous ideas. This isn't about whether or not Obama is right, this is about whether or not the idea is right. And many of these ideas have been floated by politicians, economists, experts, etc., from both sides of the aisle, for quite some time. I don't understand anyone's disagreement with that part of the proposal.

Second part of the proposal to fund infrastructure projects is also something that I am a fan of. First off, we have lots of infrastructure in this country that needs updating, highways, bridges, etc.. We have, especially in the construction arena, a skilled labor force out of work. With the current rate on U.S. bonds, the U.S. govt. can borrow at rate of zero. So, all at once, we can put people back to work, get needed infrastructure updated, all at a zero interest rate. There are many arguments against the Feds funding work projects, but I am personally in favor of it, especially in the current situation.

Now the funding, no surprise, is really where all the argument is/should be. I understand the different points of view on taxes. I benefit from deductions and credits, as do most people in America. I categorize those credits and deductions as neither 'right' or 'wrong', I don't think there is really a moral component to those, the question to me is whether or not they support or hinder what is good public policy.

For instance, the mortgage interest deduction in my opinion fosters home ownership, which I believe leads to a more stable society and is overall good for the group, so its a good deduction. I also think the child tax credits and EIC are good tax policy because that money goes directly to the economy. What has to be balanced is, how much money to leave with the people vs. how much money to take for the govt. an age old question that has as many answers as people in the world.

I do not see, however, a problem with limiting, not eliminating, deductions for people who fall over the 250k per year line. Frankly, I don't see a problem with raising the rate on top earners either. If the lowest it ever got under Reagan is 38.5%, I find it hard to argue that it needs to be 35% for the economy to flourish.

Now, bear in mind, I don't see the vast majority of tax policy as 'right' or 'wrong' in a moral sense. But, I do think that we do need to raise revenue in this country, and I do think that changes should be made to the tax code to do so.

Lysis said...


It is great to hear from you. I have long questioned the value of Unions for any workers. I do believe there is some place for them, but when Unions become a burden to the workers they are supposed to serve – when they become the tools of political parties, not the advocates of the people, they are no longer good. Public employees, especially teachers, should restrict their membership to professional organization which seek to improve the quality of their members.


1. The point of my analogy on the “friend” seeking to con you out of your money is not to critique the means by which Obama seeks to raise the money to pay for his stimulus bill. It is to illustrate that any money, raised by any means, would be better employed in reducing the devastating debt that Obama has saddled us with. If Americans must pay higher taxes to reduce debt – so be it, but to then increase their debt to sponge up the gains and call it “free money” is not good. I quote Mr. Obama’s own words from his speech:

“The agreement we passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over the next 10 years. It also charges this Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Tonight, I am asking you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act. And a week from Monday, I’ll be releasing a more ambitious deficit plan – a plan that will not only cover the cost if this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run.”

His promise to repay the $447 billion by reducing future deficits is indeed promising to pay back a “lone” by taking less in the future, and is no good.

2. I am glad you agree with my assessment of the evils of too much Union power.

3. As for the need to exploit our “full” natural resources for the benefit of our nation, I am against any group, governmental or private, that hoards the resources of this nation for their own ends. Let’s remove all impediments from getting the oil out of the ground. If Canada and Mexico do not want us dead, the the inflated price of oil exacerbated by any obstruction to US energy development still benifits and enriches our enemies and impoverishes our nation.

Sheila said...

I didn't watch the performance (I like your wording))--I just found your blog via searching for something else, and want to say I really appreciate your post about 20th century art, as well as your comment response. From 2006.

Lysis said...


Thank you for posting at the Agora. I also enjoyed a visit to your blog and enjoyed your art work very much.

Dan said...

To one of your points. I wholeheartedly disagree that we should remove 'all impediments' from oil extraction. To me that is incredibly irresponsible.

Lysis said...


Removing impediments does not mean removing all regulation, but all oil that can be utilized should be made available to responsible exploitation. One can justly and reasonable control the speed limit without closing down all the roads. The hording of resources is detrimental to our economy and to our nation and needs to be ended.

Dan said...

Aha, therein lies the conundrum. I believe we may not be able to agree on what responsible extraction means.

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