Non-Essentials – Bill Whittle says what I Already Said

In the embedded video in this blog Bill Whittle says what I wish I’d said.

Come to think of it…I DID. I said much the same thing in our blog, If You Voted For Obama Be Embarrassed! And not Because of the Shutdown in which I point out that the barricades placed in front of our D.C. National Monuments were an expense in the shutdown and not a required cost saving measure. It was Obama trying to hurt his fellow Americans.

Watch the video as Mr. Whittle says it better than I.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a President who actually cared for Americans and worked to make their lives easier rather than pushing a leftist ideology that ultimately is all about control and not about care?

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Wisdom and Fairness of Health Care Law in Question

Official 2005 photo of Chief Justice John G. R...

Chief Justice John G. Roberts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Supreme Court says the Federal Government cannot mandate that Americans buy health insurance denying the Obama Administrations claim that such a mandate was allowed under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Unfortunately for those who opposed the law, including yours truly, the Court ruled that the Federal Government was authorized to tax those without health insurance. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the decision saying,‘‘Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness,’’. I’ll surprise my Conservative friends by stating, grudgingly, that I think Roberts is right. To disagree would impose undeniable limits on what our government can choose to tax. Since the adoption of the 16th Amendment creating the income tax, Congress has had the power to determine how and where taxes should be imposed. To impose a limit would render the Federal Government essentially impotent in its ability to pay for itself. “The law”, Roberts wrote, “makes going without insurance just another thing the Government taxes, like buying gasoline or earning income. And if the mandate is in effect just a tax hike on certain taxpayers who do not have health insurance, it may be within Congress’s constitutional power to tax.”

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not happy about this. And I admit I’d never thought of the individual mandate in Obamacare as a tax and as such legal. Though clearly I and every American with an IQ above that of a Banana Slug knew in fact it was a tax. Part of the reason I didn’t think of it as a tax is because President Obama and the Democratic Congress that passed this nearly 3000-page law repeatedly said “it wasn’t a tax”. However, in arguments before the High Court the President’s Solicitor General repeatedly made clear the penalty for failing to have health insurance WAS a tax, and thus Constitutional an argument they won today.

English: Anthony Kennedy, Associate Justice of...

Anthony Kennedy, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

Justice Anthony Kennedy read the dissenting opinion and called the health care law, “invalid in its entirety”. He was joined in dissent by Justices Thomas, Scalia, and Alito. At the time of this writing their opinion and reasons for it are not available for reading or quoting.

With the Constitutionality of Obamacare now settled, and it is settled so those who oppose it can quit with  any whining; we must now revisit the law’s wisdom and fairness which Roberts pointed out the Court is not empowered to question. It still remains a bad law which does harm to the cause for its creation in the first place. The need for something like Obamacare came about because of the high cost of health care. Some would say the law was necessary because of the high cost of health insurance and the approximately 30-million Americans who are not covered by insurance. But insurance is expensive because health care is expensive. Those who are uninsured are uninsured because that can’t afford insurance. So, once again the problem is the cost of health care. Hello?

Obamacare’s only step toward controlling costs is to limit and regulate care. Determinations as to who and what care will be provided is, in large part, going to fall to government bureaucrats. How’s the wisdom and fairness in that?

Since the TAX for not having health insurance is well below the cost of the premium many, if not most, people and businesses will choose to pay the tax and drop coverage. Under Obamacare the TAX for businesses not providing health insurance coverage for their employees is $2500. With a fiduciary responsibility to stock holders, you have to ask yourself what is the incentive for anyone managing a business to carry insurance?  The penalty/tax for individuals not covered is as follows:
$95 in 2014, $325 in 2015, and $695 in 2016. Under Obamacare insurance companies are no longer able to deny coverage to a person seeking coverage based on pre-existing conditions. So, why pay for health insurance if you’re healthy. Why not pay the tax until such time as you get sick and then buy insurance? Financially, it’s the logical thing to do.

The end result of the High Court’s ruling is a law takes effect that will drive more people and businesses away from health care coverage, which will drive up insurance prices, which inevitably will drive more and more people and businesses away from paying for coverage. In the end insurance companies will no longer have a viable product that is affordable for anyone but the super rich. The burden of paying for Americans health coverage will fall on the already overburdened Federal Government. The added deficit spending will weaken the American dollar against world currency, as it already has, which will contribute to massive inflation, which will ultimately bring down the economy however strong or weak the economy happens to be. It’s a recipe for disaster.

The Supreme Court validated the Congress’ ability to tax. Sad but true. Fortunately, the disaster scenario we can all expect with the unfolding of Obamacare can be averted. As I wrote in a previous blog, Obama can’t Win Healthcare Test, winning the High Court’s decision will only inspire Republicans to vote Obama and Democrats out of office this November. Roberts has awakened a sleeping bear. The American people will not likely stand for the implementation of Obamacare without a fight. GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s promise to repeal it will undoubtedly bring many who were on the fence about him to his corner. Senate and House candidates who continue to stand up against the new law will receive the money and support necessary to put the GOP in control of the Congress. Even the more liberal media outlets like CNN, MSNBC, and the New York Times admit polls show more than 70% of Americans don’t like Obamacare.

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts,...

Mitt Romney

Romney and Republican Congressional candidates need to make sure they don’t forget the aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that are good and that people like. Their challenge will be to figure out how to pay for guaranteed coverage for those with pre-existing conditions; the guarantee that you won’t be dropped by your insurance company if you get sick; the ability to keep adult kids on their parents insurance plans (though does it really have to be until age 26? I mean, I love my kids, but I expect them to stand on their own at a certain point. 1 or 2 years after normal age of leaving college, 24, seems reasonable to me).

My hope is the Supreme Court’s ruling today wakes up the American people and helps them understand the responsibility they alone hold. If your Congressman votes for a law you oppose, or an excessive tax it’s up to you to vote him out of office.  The High Court is holding YOU accountable. YOU have to hold your legislators accountable.

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Unmarried and Low Income becoming far too common!

Two remarkable statistics reported in the past two days by the U.S. Census Bureau caught my attention. Today it was reported that 48% of Americans are now in poverty or are qualified as low-income. Yesterday the same Commerce Department bureau reported that the percentage of married adult Americans has fallen to a record low of only 51%. If you turn the number around that means 49% remain unmarried. Then it struck me how close the two numbers were. 49% unmarried…48% low income or poor. Is there a relationship?

Marriage DayAs you digest these numbers remember the old saying about examining percentages too closely, “Beat a statistic to death and it will tell you anything”. But having offered that disclaimer we have to acknowledge that these two startling statistics are connected.

The U.S. Census Bureau defines an income of $45k a year as low-income for a family of four. Since the average American individual income is only $40,584, in my state of Washington it’s $43,564, the average American needs two incomes to avoid being low-income. The average household income in 2010 in the U.S. was $63k. It’s certainly lower in 2011.

What the two reports also include are the fact that minorities make up more of the poor and more of the unmarried. Only 31% of African-American adults are married, Hispanics were just above 50% and whites were around 70%.  Not surprisingly the poverty rates for each ethnic group roughly correspond. The 2010 Census says the percentage of white kids under 18 in poverty at 12%; for Hispanics its 35%, for blacks it’s nearly 39%.

This is not intended to be a lamentation of the decline of American values, but merely an examination of what may be smart to do, and what may be detrimental. It seems finding a partner and making a commitment to them and them to you to help you through the tough times and help you better enjoy the good times is not only a reflection of good moral values as some would say, but also good financial judgement.

As one who has been married for 25 years I can tell you honestly that it’s not easy. I can tell you staying together this long and helping each other makes things better. At various times in the previous 25 years I’ve been unemployed or without significant income a couple of times. My wife has been in the same position too on a couple of occasions. There is no doubt without the other’s income to lean on each of us would have been in a much worse position then and now.

The Washington Post reports that the marriage patterns are a striking departure from the middle of the 20th century, when the percentage of adults who never wed was in the low single digits. In 1960, for example, when most baby boomers were children, 72 percent of all adults were married. The median age for brides was barely 20, and the grooms were just a couple of years older.

“In the 1950s, if you weren’t married, people thought you were mentally ill,” said Andrew J. Cherlin, a Johns Hopkins University sociologist who studies families. “Marriage was mandatory. Now it’s culturally optional.” One has to wonder, why? Why has it become culturally optional, especially when this evidence and other factors show how marriage is a net-plus for society?

Now in the area of poverty there are certainly other factors to consider, education for one. During this extended recession while unemployment has remained above 9% for nearly the entire Obama Administration; unemployment for those with at least a College Bachelors Degree has consistently remained well below 5% (otherwise known as full employment). But here again there is a tie-in. More than 70% of those with a college education are married. It’s WELL below 50% for those with only High School or less.

I favor a change in attitude about marriage. Let our kids know that living with a partner outside of marriage is not only contrary to our values, our religion (if applicable), but also to their self-interest. It should be OK NOT to be married. But it should be recognized that we all benefit from the values too many have derisively called “old-fashioned” for far too many years.

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Envy will kill ya! Darned Sibling Rivalry.

Perhaps you’re like me. Perhaps you too have a sibling who is particularly high achieving. I do. I have a brother with whom I’ve always been compared and worse yet set against. I doubt my parents actually realize this.

I’m beset with high achievers with whom to be compared. All around me our family and friends who populate the 1% that so many Occupy Wall Street protesters claim to be greedy. For the record Dictionary.com defines greedy as:

1.excessively or inordinately desirous of wealth, profit, etc.;avaricious: “the greedy owners of the company.”

Were I defining the word I would add the phrase “…for that which is not rightfully yours”. For I don’t think its greedy to want to possess and enjoy that which is yours, that which you’ve earned.
My brother is just one year my senior. He used to brag to me what his income was for years. It was quite juvenile, but synonymous with the sibling rivalry he and I seem forever engaged in. He stopped telling me his pay 12-15 years ago when it became clear he had reached 7 figures per year.  He remains a 7-8 figure-income-earner per year.
But if a world travelling millionaire brother isn’t bad enough, there are also my in-laws. My sister-in-law is a Cal-Berkley educated lawyer for Microsoft. Her Dad, my father in-law, is a former 20 year state Senator and college football hero for the local school, University of Washington. Heck, even my best friend makes over $100k yearly driving a bus for Metro.
The Occupy Wall Street protesters who defiantly cry that they’re “the 99%” have an envy problem. They resent the wealth distribution in the country. They hate that the upper earning 1%, in which my family is well represented, earn 17% of our nations income. They claim that 1% should share more of what they have. Never mind that the same 1% pay for 38% of ALL Federal income tax, that the upper 10% paid 70%, and that 51% paid 100%. 49% of Americans paid 0% of all collected Federal Income tax, courtesy of those evil George Bush tax cuts. Talk about “Things that make ya go, hmmm?
If anyone has a right to be envious its me! I was raised in the same house by the same single father as my millionaire brother. I met my wife when my professional attorney sister-in-law was 12 years old. And I met by best friend 25 years ago when he had just started his Government work, long before his seniority and good service pushed him into the upper income levels. I watched all these people grow from humble beginnings to good or great financial success.
My personal achievements have been comparatively humble. I’ve worked hard my whole life. Other than two short stints on unemployment I’ve never taken public assistance or a government hand out. I’ve never been in the upper 1% of income earners, though I was certainly in the upper 5%. I’m not complaining. I’m not poor. I’ve done well. I live well. But compared to some in my family…lets just say I’m a little lower on the food chain.
So am I like the OWS protesters desirous of more of my immediate family’s money? Do I feel ripped off? Absolutely not. In fact, sometimes I feel sorry for my wealthy family members. They are all tied to their jobs and the responsibilities therein. For six years I’ve been an independent small business owner answerable to no one. Before that I worked a sales job for thirteen years in which I seldom worked more than 30 hours per week.
My brother, sister-in-law, father-in-law and best friend worked long hard hours day after day, month after month, year after year to earn everything they have. So have I. But my wealth has yet to come. It will. But I’ve enjoyed a lot of freedom and independence in the meantime (…he laughs knowingly). I’m proud of my family.
For the most part the OWS protesters are young and seem to be experiencing a tough time. They come from a generation given everything, including trophies merely for participating on a sports team. They don’t have the experience of knowing what we know. Things get better. Work hard, don’t quit, overcome obstacles, don’t spend money frivolously, and always anticipate the dawn. So its my hope they will filter away in the increasingly cold days ahead and that their “movement” will be largely ignored. As it should be. Because its little more than entitlement and envy.
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