Home Ownership – But At What Price ???

Home ownership has been the elusive holy grail of politicians for many years.  Increase home ownership, and everyone will be happy and vote for you, or so they believe.  However, we are just now recovering from the 2005 collapse of our housing market.  A little history is necessary to understand this.

During the Carter adminstration, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was passed and became effective on October 12, 1977.  At the time it was enacted, the home ownership rate for the country was 64.8 percent.  In part, the CRA was to increase home ownership by removing discrimination in housing loans and prohibiting the practice of redlining.  In addition, federal oversight for the lending institutions was increased.  All very admirable goals.

By 1980, home ownership had increased about 1 percent to 65.8 percent.  However, in the early 1980s, the U.S. economy experienced two short duration recessions.  Home ownership rates declined to 63.5 percent by 1985, a little over one percent lower than when the CRA was initiated.  By 1995, the home ownership rate had finally increased to 63.8 percent, essentially flat for 10 years.

Although the CRA had been modified legislatively before, it was the modifications made by the Clinton administration which became effective in 1995 that caused a significant increase in home ownership rates.  Lending institutions were subjected to more scrutiny than in the past and were “encouraged” to increase their loan approval rate in particular for low credit people.  This was followed by a 10 year boom in home ownership and accompanying increases in home values.  Many of the new owners were people with questionable financial capability at best.  By 2005 the home ownership had peaked at 69.2 percent.

The traditional 30 year mortgage with 30 percent down was supplemented by alternate lending practices.  These included the NINJA loan (no income, no job, no assets), the interest only loan, mortgages that covered 100 percent of the loan, and many variations of sub-prime loans.  People stretched their finances to the maximum and many started to buy homes they really could not afford, but no one seemed to care.  If the owner defaulted, the house would still be worth more than the mortgage, so the lending institutions were still ahead as the homes were always increasing in value.

Although the loans were initiated by lending institutions, the federal government backed the loans against default. This was done through the government sponsored enterprises (GSE) institutions such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The mortgages were then bundled and sold as investment securities to individuals and various institutional investment funds.

Housing prices started to decline in 2005.  The real effect of the housing bubble collapse fell on three basic groups:  individual investors, institutions and the federal government.  All were left with losses.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed in conservatorship by the federal government, with their losses totaling about $187.5 Billion.  It is estimated that financial institutions suffered looses in excess of $2 Trillion.

The individual owners were hit the hardest.  Many people just walked away from their loans and defaulted.  And for those who put their life savings into a new higher priced home, as the value of the home fell, they suddenly owed more than the value of the home, and were underwater.  Any equity that they had accumulated was erased, along with their life savings.

The chart below is courtesy of Professor Mark Perry, University of Michigan, and shows the rapid rise and fall of the home ownership rate between 1995 and 2014.image002

The home ownership rate for the last quarter of 2013, the latest available, was 65.2 percent, just 0.4 above the rate when the CRA was initiated in October 1977.  In other words, the gains over the last 37 years have been wiped out, all due to misguided political beliefs of people who thought they could increase home ownership by artificial means.

The question that must be asked now is, have we learned anything?  George Santayana (1863-1952), a philosopher, is credited with the saying: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

President Obama, who believes that government is the solution to problems, has a long established track record of picking appointees that are ideological clones of his own beliefs.  On January 6, 2014, President Obama’s pick for Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Congressman Mel Watt (D-NC12), was sworn in.

All the pieces are in place for another housing bubble to start.  Both the President and his new FHFA head believe we need to increase home ownership.  The question is, how will it be done?

Stand by, the fun is about to begin……….again !!!

- Bob Hancock

 


 

 

 

Feed The Beast !!! The Sad Tale Of The Media And Malaysia Air Flight MH 370

I had hoped to avoid blogging about Malaysian Air Flight MH 370.  However, as a former pilot and retired Senior Air Safety Investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), I know a little bit about airplanes and aviation accident investigation.  With this background, I am absolutely disgusted with about 99.9 % of what I have seen and heard on the TV.

Aviation accident investigation is a VERY SLOW, VERY METHODICAL process where data is gathered and analyzed.  Without an airplane or wreckage to examine, you have a very limited ability to actually state what happened.  At the NTSB we only released factual data that we knew would not change.  If we did not have the answer, we would NOT speculate.  We would state our findings and move on.

At present, all we have is normal radio communications that cease, good radar data until the transponder stopped working, a course change, and the failure of the aircraft to send more engine data, all of this for unknown reason(s).  All we know is that these events took place.  In addition, we know absolutely nothing about what was going on in the cockpit or cabin.

However, this has not stopped others from speculating.  Since the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370, we have been bombarded with 24 hour news coverage of the event.  Speculation is running rampant on the TV.  Interesting shows are being interrupted for the slightest bit of speculation.  Talking heads, whose only association with aviation was to buy an airline ticket, are brought on the air to speculate about a probable cause for the disappearance.  In addition, the articles written cover the range of all possible speculation, but none of them have the evidence to support their theories.

I find that I have to change channels or turn the TV off…… and if I don’t, I will most likely throw a brick though the TV, hoping it will travel through the airways and reach the absolutely ignorant talking head in their face.

The problem is THE BEAST (aka the 24 hour news cycle).  Talking heads need to fill their time slots with something that will attract an audience as measured by the various television rating companies.  These viewer ratings in turn translate into what the networks charge for advertising time, and that is how they make money.  If your viewer ratings are low, your advertising revenues are low.  However, if your viewer ratings are high, then you can charge more for your advertising time and thus make more money.  Re-runs of previous programs can only go so far in filling time.  The name of the game is to attract viewers by whatever means you can and sensationalistic speculation always beats out dull facts of no new confirmable information.  Networks will interrupt any show regardless of how important it is, just to throw out some speculative tidbit on the continuing search for MH 370.

The Malaysian government has also contributed to the problem by their slow and contradictory release of information and then retracting and changing data after it was released.  Many of the countries that tracked various aspects of the MH 370 flight do not have an established track record of cooperation.

Will MH 370 be found?  Most likely, but not necessarily on the time schedule that the family members and the investigators would like.  It may take years, and then again, the secrets of the flight may be found next week.  There is no schedule in accident investigation.  You gather all the evidence available and then move on.  You fill in as much information as you can and, where you have an information void, you DO NOT speculate.  Speculation is fine for intelligence gathering, but it has no business in aviation safety investigations.

Malaysia Flight MH 370 disappeared on March 8, 2014, and still the search continues.  Other news items are slowly replacing the MH 370 story.  The story is getting less air time, but the investigators are still hard at work.  However, some networks still interrupt good programs with speculation and drivel, but eventually this too will cease.  The networks created a monster with the 24 hour news cycle and it MUST BE FED 24/7 or they will suffer the consequences of loosing their life blood, their viewer ratings and advertising revenue.

In his book, “The Sign of Four” written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous fictional detective Sherlock Holmes is quoted as saying: “..when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth…”

Some day, the investigators will unlock the secrets of what happened to MH 370.  They will review all the data gathered and analyze it.  The investigators will not speculate to fill in information voids and they will issue a probable cause based on factual information available.  The detail of the probable cause will be limited by the information available.

In the mean time, I personally wish the media would stop speculating, but I also understand…..they have created a very hungry beast that MUST BE FED 24/7.  If they fail in this, the beast will eat them alive and thus the game continues.  Feed the beast with whatever is available, be it truth or speculation, it does not matter, only that the minutes and hours are filled and the BEAST IS FED !!!

- Bob Hancock

The Dangers of the Expanding National Debt, and the Ever Expanding Government !!!

Our nation’s debt stands at $17.55 Trillion and is increasing daily.  It now becomes necessary to take another look at just what is happening and the implications that this holds for our future and that of our country.  Our President has staked his personal reputation on an ever expanding government that reaches into every facet of our daily lives.  The increasing debt is necessary to support this all consuming behemoth called government.

However, in earlier times, on July 16, 2006, when Barack Obama was a junior senator from Illinois, he demagogued a vote on the debt ceiling increase stating:

“…The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government can not pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. …Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better….”

And then again on July 3, 2008, while on the presidential campaign trail, then Senator Obama stated:

“…The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents — #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic….”

What we are seeing is that President Obama will say one thing to get elected, and do another thing when in power.  For example, he dropped the mantle of a fiscal hawk, and instead proceeded to increase taxes and our national debt astronomically.  We have also seen that the truth is secondary to achieving the goal of passing preferred legislation, such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare).  President Obama and his minions repeatedly said you could keep your doctor and health care plan if you liked them, and this has been proven patently false.

Is President Obama just a snake oil salesman who says what is necessary to get elected and see legislation that he wants passed, or has he surrounded himself with such incompetent yes men that they will say whatever is necessary to keep the boss happy?   And don’t forget that since President Obama took office, we have experienced multiple tax increases.  Now, with the implementation of Obamacare, we see additional taxes being implemented in all areas, all to increase revenue.  However, regardless of how much money we take in, we continue to spend more, and our national debt continues to increase.

Regardless of what the truth is, we can now see with 20/20 hindsight that the Obama administration record on spending is significantly different from its rhetoric.  The National Debt has increased to $17.55 Trillion.  Although many people railed at the debt increase of George W. Bush, $4.9 Trillion, in 8 years, President Obama has increased our debt $6.92 Trillion in 5 years, 2 months.

The problem with a debt of this size is how do we slow it or reduce it?  Interest rates are artificially low at this time.  However, some time in the foreseeable future they will increase and when they do, the interest payment on our debt will increase.  When this happens, there will be less money for social programs, the heart of the Obama administration.  With defense already cut, the only options left are to cut spending on social programs,  which President Obama has shown no inclination to do.  Or increase taxes even further to pay for the ever expanding social welfare state.

Another problem is that we are borrowing from other countries.  For every dollar borrowed, the power that country has over us increases.  According to the United States Treasury, as of January 2014, 33 percent of our national debt is held overseas.  This makes us vulnerable for fiscal attacks.  A fiscal attack can be as devastating as a nuclear bomb in the hands of the right government.

The U.S. dollar is presently the world reserve currency, and oil is traded in U.S. dollars.  When fiscal policies weaken the dollar against other currencies, the price of oil rises.  Even though the amount of oil available remains the same, a devalued dollar cannot buy the same amount of oil as before and this translates into higher prices at the pump.  Although President Obama says he supports a strong U.S. Dollar, the effects of his fiscal policies have produced rising prices at the pump, clearly a sign of a weaker dollar.

Another challenge we face, China is urging the replacement of the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency with its own currency, the Yuan.  The effect of this would be an immediate increase in prices in the United States for almost everything, and particularly all petroleum products.

President Ronald Reagan said, “…Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem….”  Since that comment, we have seen government continue to grow, and now we are at a point where the tentacles of government reach into every aspect of our daily lives, and still, its continuing to expand.  President Thomas Jefferson foresaw the ever expanding reach of government when he said, “…If your government is big enough to give you everything you want, it is big enough to take away everything you have….”

How much further can government expand before the people say enough is enough?  Or, with an ever expanding government, and increasing government dependency, will the people follow the path of the lemmings over the fiscal cliff to ruin?

President Obama believes government IS the solution and has staked his personal reputation in the ever expanding reach of government every way, every day.  Regrettably, we still have three more years for this to play out as the rights of the people to be free further conflict with the oppressive, ever expanding, all consuming government.

- Bob Hancock

 

 

“1984″ – It’s Closer Than You Think !!!

The book “1984″ was written by George Orwell, and published in 1949. The book is set in the future, in a country called Oceania, which is a dictatorship.  The principle character, Winston Smith, works in the Ministry of Truth, which controls the news, entertainment, and propaganda.  His job is to rewrite history to conform to the current understanding of events.  When a conflict appears between current statements or thoughts and what was said in the past, it is Winston’s job to correct the situation by deleting past references or modifying them so they conform with current thought.

In this topsy turvy world of “1984″, we also saw The Ministry of Peace, which dealt with war,  The Ministry of Plenty which dealt with economics and rationing, and The Ministry of Love, which dealt with law and order.

In “1984″, the population was subjected to extreme surveillance.  Today, we have a National Security Agency (NSA) that does not respect the rule of law and is implementing vast oversight and monitoring of our phone calls.  We now have a no-fly list where once placed upon the list, the person cannot challenge why they wound up on the list.  The right of Habeas Corpus, specifically mentioned in the Constitution, has been suspended for people suspected of terrorist acts, and has resulted in their unlimited detention.  More and more restrictions on personal liberty are being sold as necessary for the safety of our country.  As we drift away from the Constitution, for whatever reason, we also drift away from the rule of law to the rule of men.

In “1984″, the news was highly controlled and censored.  Only news that was favorable to the government was allowed.  Today, we have a proposal from the Federal Communications Commission to place government monitors in the newsrooms of television and radio stations.  Their purpose would be to query the news people and editors as to why they place emphasis on certain stories and chose to run them over other stories.

In the “1984″ society, you have a supreme leader issuing laws and edict by fiat.  Oceania was not a democracy or a republic.  It was a dictatorship.  In contrast, we have a Constitution that is the law of the land, and defines a legislative process whereby the Legislature writes the laws and the President faithfully executes them.  The greatest attribute of our country has been its faithful execution of the rule of laws, not of men.

However, President Obama has moved beyond signing statements, minor modifications to signed legislation that is as old as our country.  Never, in the history of our country have we had a President who just rewrites or adds text to modify existing legislation to suit his personal whims.  President Obama has made major changes to such laws as coal, immigration, the Affordable Care Act, and the minimum wage laws.  None of these laws allow for changes by Presidential fiat.

In “1984″, everyone from school kids to adults were constantly being indoctrinated in a specified way of thinking.  This exists today in our inner city schools, where we have thousands of school kids trapped in grossly underperforming schools, and politicians who will not allow for school choice.  The various teacher unions are dead set against school choice and want to keep these kids in poor performing schools, day after day, where they are indoctrinated to accept the current liberal mantra.

In “1984″, we were introduced to the Newspeak language.  Signs were everywhere with slogans such as WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.  Again, the purpose of this language was to control society into thinking that war was good, freedom was bad, and lack of knowledge was good.

The fictional language “Newspeak” was used to get the people to think along the lines of the dictatorship.  Now Newspeak is drifting into our current language as various people proclaim the loss of work hours and/or jobs due to the Affordable Care Act is really a positive event in their lives.  No longer will they be “job bound” having to hold a job they don’t want, just so they can have health insurance coverage.

The New York Times Editorial Board stated “…That is mostly a good thing, a liberating result of the law….”  The Minority leader of House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) stated, “They are following their aspirations to be a writer; to be self-employed; to start a business. This is the entrepreneurial piece. So it’s not going to cost jobs. It’s going to shift how people make a living and reach their aspirations….this was one of the goals. To give people life, a healthy life, liberty to pursue their happiness. And that liberty is to not be job-locked, but to follow their passion.”

Having your hours reduced or, even worse, finding yourself out of work, yes, you may find your healthcare costs covered, most likely you will be living on food stamps, living in subsidized housing, and getting your clothes through charity, but will you really have the desire to pursue that dream career?  When you struggle to put food on the table, buying clothes for you and your family, your thoughts are most likely about how to survive.

Have we reached 1984 yet?…..No, but we are definitely headed in the direction of an ever expanding government with more government control over the population.  President Obama has sued Standard & Poors for a credit downgrade, and earlier tried to silence the insurance companies that criticized the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare.  Our freedoms are disappearing, all in the guise of safety for the  state.  Lastly, a country founded upon the individual is being replaced by values that place the state above the individual.

George Orwell once said, “He who controls the past, controls the future.  He who controls the present, controls the past.”

Question – How many more freedoms do we have to loose before the people say, enough is enough, and take corrective action?…….or Is there another Winston Smith out there ready to come to work tomorrow at a new government Ministry of Truth?

- Bob Hancock

Voter Ignorance and Apathy !!!

The most important right that our founding fathers gave us is the right to vote.  This right has been paid for with the blood of Americans.  Now, all American citizens who have reached their 18th birthday are eligible to vote in both local and federal elections.

However, there are two problems that significantly affect elections in our country.  One is the voter turnout.  The following numbers from the 2012 census give a stark picture of American voting habits:

Total number of Americans eligible to vote                                       206,072,000

Total number of Americans registered to vote                                  146,311,000

Total Americans who voted in the 2008 Presidential election           131,144,000

 As can be seen, over 1/3 of the American public have chosen not to vote.  The most common reason given was that they were too busy or had a conflicting schedule.  Local elections for such items as school boards and school bonds, particularly in an off season election, are lucky to get 15-20 percent of the registered voters.

The importance of the non-voter is more significant when you factor in the second problem, the low information voter.  Our Constitutional Republic was established with the idea that voters would be aware of the issues and vote accordingly.  Unfortunately, that has not always worked out.  With the low information voter, we now have a voter who is not aware of the issues and votes for some other factor.  He/she believes that they are doing right by voting, but when you sit down and talk to a low information voter, you realize that they are clueless about the real issues that must be considered in voting.

Low information voters are a perennial problem and are always present, and their knowledge, or lack of, is not confined to political issues.  A 1999 Gallup poll of general knowledge of Americans found that 18 percent thought the sun revolved around the earth.

In the 2008 Presidential election between Barack Obama and John McCain, a talk show personality, Howard Stearns, went into the Harlem area of New York City to conduct interviews with voters.  He took the political positions of John McCain and attributed them to Barack Obama.  He also took the political positions of Barack Obama and attributed them to John McCain.  He then presented these positions to the potential voters and they all said that Barack Obama’s (actually John McCain’s) positions were the correct positions, and John McCain’s (actually Barack Obama’s) positions were the wrong positions.

In a November 21, 2008 article on voters in USA Today stated:

“…And while 56% can name Paula Abdul as a judge on American Idol, only 21% know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Just 54% can correctly identify a basic description of the free enterprise system….”

In a more recent Republican primary race for a congressional district in Arizona, the Democratic party evaluated the Republican candidates and determined which one would be easiest to beat.  They then flooded both registered Republicans and non-partisan voters with political brochures stating that only one of these candidates was the “true” conservative and Republicans should vote for him.  This particular candidate won the primary election as planned.

However, the general election was a three way race with Libertarian, Democratic, and Republican candidates.  Again, the Democratic party flooded the Republican and non-partisan voters with political brochures, this time stating that the Libertarian candidate was the “true” conservative.  This split the conservative vote among the Republican and the Libertarian candidates as planned and the Democratic candidate won, as planned.  Federal law requires that all political brochures clearly state who is paying for the ad.  This program succeeded because the Republican and non-partisan voters did not fully understand the various candidate positions, and also failed to look at who was actually paying for the political brochures.

Politicians today still hope for low information voters.  For example: Ann Kirkpatrick (D) AZ-01 who voted for Obamacare is already running re-election commercials for the November 2014 election which states in part:  “…Ann Kirkpatrick listens and learns. It’s why she blew the whistle on the disastrous health care website [Obamacare], calling it ‘stunning ineptitude’ and worked to fix it…”  However, on January 16, 2014, she voted against a bill that would have required transparency in how the health exchanges are run.  The ad appeals to low information voters who listen to TV commercials, but do not actually follow how our elected politicians vote in the House of Representatives and Senate.

The internet is full of examples from both parties who act as low information voters.  The question that must be asked is just how long our Constitutional Republic can survive with both low voter turn out, and low information voters casting votes when they have no understanding of the issues.

According to William Damon, Professor of Education at Stanford, and Fellow at the Hoover Institute:

“…The most serious danger Americans now face — greater than terrorism — is that our country’s future may not end up in the hands of a citizenry capable of sustaining the liberty that has been America’s most precious legacy.  If trends continue, many young Americans will grow up without an understanding of the benefits, privileges, and duties of citizens in a free society, and without acquiring the habits of character needed to live responsibly in one….”

Right now, we have a political elite that believe they know what is best, and are willing to do whatever is necessary to push their agenda upon us.  President Obama is increasingly using executive action to achieve what he cannot achieve legislatively.

The future of our country depends upon voters being knowledgeable and willing to take a stand on issues by voting.  VOTE – your freedom and the freedom of this great Republic depends upon YOU being knowledgeable and voting in every local and national election.

- Bob Hancock

 

How To Turn Good Intentions Into A Disaster – Don’t Plan Ahead

There is an old saying that, “The air, even more than the sea is unforgiving of mistakes.”  This is why pilots learn early on that their lives depend upon their pre-flight planning.  This includes such important things as ensuring the airplane is airworthy before flight, ensuring you have adequate fuel for your flight, and checking the weather before takeoff.  Unfortunately, when a pilot ignores basic pre-flight planning, accidents often happen, and the results can be fatal depending upon the mistakes of the pilot.

Obamacare (aka Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) was sold as a self paying law that did not require additional expenditures.  It was planned with some nice initiatives, i.e., help the uninsured have health insurance, no annual or life time limits on insurance, a person cannot be refused for pre-existing conditions, and young adults could remain on their parents’ insurance up to age 26.

While the concept was fine, the law has turned out to be a disaster.  This is because the authors ignored free market solutions, such as allowing you to buy insurance across state lines, and moving your insurance as you change jobs.  Instead, they went with rationing and other restrictions as a means of holding down costs.

Now, we know that President Obama and his administration minions lied to the American public about keeping your doctor and medical plan if you like it.  Newscasters and pundits have speculated that if the truth was known, the bill would never have passed.

We have found that about 6 million people have initially lost their coverage and many more estimated to be about 90 million, will lose their coverage when the employer mandate is implemented next year.  We also found that the policies under Obamacare cost us more, had higher deductibles, are more restrictive on doctors under the plans, and the geographic areas were much more restrictive.  We have learned the website start up has been a disaster with open security risks that were ignored so the plan could roll out on schedule.

We have learned that our “Constitutional Law Professor” President does not actually believe in the Constitution.   The President makes almost daily changes to a law that contains no language allowing for change by Presidential fiat.

This is a classic example of what happens when you write a very complex law and and do not have any alternative or backup plans.  Just think back to how a pilot must plan for all of the many things that could affect a flight and ask yourself, did the Obama administration do a good job of thinking about the consequences of the law or plan for alternate solutions?

Remember, that in spite of the failed web site, the law is working exactly as written.  The law was designed to push people out of their health care plans that they liked and enroll them in new policies that were “government approved.”

One important factor the administration appears to have ignored is the actual consequences of the law.  All laws have financial consequences and this law is predicated on a simple progressive argument, redistribution of wealth.  In other words, take money from the young healthy millennials by charging them exorbitant prices for their health care.  The money is then being redistributed to financially less well off, less healthy seniors.  This is where the law is encountering problems.

So far, the numbers released by the administration show the public is not signing up for insurance in the large numbers that were expected.  Yes, those with pre-existing medical problems are signing up, and the rolls of medicaid are increasing, both of which increase expenditures while the healthy people needed to financially support this law have not signed up.

The President, ruling by fiat and delaying sections of the law along with the lack of people signing up for insurance, puts the financial stability of the law at risk.  However, this is not a problem for the insurance companies.  The law allows the federal government to send subsidies to the insurance companies if they loose money with this bill.  This is a win/win for them.  The only question is who will pay for their profit, the people signing up for insurance with inflated rates, or the American taxpayer through a government bailout?  Again, we must ask, if the law is not financially sustainable, what are the alternatives?

President Obama has shown himself to be an ideologue.  Obamacare is the signature accomplishment of his Presidency and the wish of progressives for over a hundred years. He has already shown a total unwillingness to make any legislative changes to the law.  Any legislative action by Congress would open the law up to changes he may not want, and cannot control.  However, the President has shown a strong desire to, and continues to, make changes to the law by fiat.  These changes are designed to help his political party, and increase his party’s fortune in future elections.

There are very few alternatives open to the President at this time.  Without legislative action, the law is proving unworkable as written.  Its support now hovers around 31%, an all time low, and there are no indications it will raise any time soon.

The President and many progressives have openly said that they support a “Single Payer System”, such as found in Canada or the United Kingdom.  The problems with Obamacare could provide a way for the President to switch our country to a Single Payer System.

The American public are confused by the constant changes to the current law by the President and are wondering what next?  The law was sold as a self supporting act, and any further tax increases to support this law or bail out insurance companies will be strongly opposed.

As we search for truth and a future, we must look to the Austrian economist Fredrick A Von Hayek who said, “The more the state ‘plans’ the more difficult planning becomes for the individual.”

Bob Hancock

Why Won’t President Obama “Preserve, Protect, and Defend”, the U.S. Constitution ???

A long time ago, in a different life, I used to fly airplanes for a living (the good old days).  I remember an FAA inspector whose favorite saying was that if your manual said you were to land gear up, he expected to see the airplane on the runway gear up.  In other words, he would not accept any difference between what was written in the company manuals and the way the airplanes were actually operated.

Our country also has an operations manual and we call it the United States Constitution.  It is the law of the land and the legal instrument that specifies how our country shall be governed.  Our Constitution was set up with three co-equal branches of government:  The legislative branch to make the laws, the judicial branch to interpret our laws, and the  executive branch to manage the government.

When the President assumes office, he takes an oath which is contained in Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution and states:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The President’s duties are further described in Article II, Section 3, which states that the President, “…shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed….”

Presidents have long found a way to get around legislation they did not like.  The Presidential signing statement goes back to the 5th President of the United States, James Monroe, in March 1831.  However, there is no reference to signing statements anywhere in the Constitution.

On September 6, 2001, Illinois State Senator Barack Obama was participating in a panel discussion that aired on Chicago’s WBEZ-FM, titled “Slavery and the Constitution” when he first talked about “previously dispossessed people” and then “redistribution of wealth.”  He then went on to state: “…the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can’t do to you, it says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf….”

On October 12, 2008, while running for President, then Senator Obama encountered Joe Wurzelbacher (Joe the Plumber),  and talked about redistribution stating: “..I’m going to cut taxes a little bit more for the folks who are most in need, and for the 5 percent of the folks who are doing very well, even though they’ve been working hard … and I understand that; I appreciate that … I just want to make sure that they’re paying a little bit more in order to pay for those other tax cuts….”  He then went on to say, “…And I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody….”

Redistribution, however noble, is not authorized by the Constitution or any Federal Law.

Then, on December 14, 2011, the President stated: “…where Congress is not willing to act, we’re going to go ahead and do it ourselves….”

Now, President Obama is not content with just issuing signing statements.  He has decided that he has the power to change laws as written, at his personal whim.

Following are some examples of the newly assumed powers of the President:

>  Making recess appointments when congress is not in recess.

>  Deciding to suspend various Federal Laws, pandering to people affected by the  laws being suspended.

>  Making multiple changes to implementation dates and other sections of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also know as Obamacare, without any supporting legislation.

None of these examples are authorized by the laws being changed or the Constitution.  What people should be worried about, is a President who has taken it upon himself to change legislation or implement policies (i.e., redistribution) without going to Congress for supporting legislation  that would allow the changes.

How far have we moved from the Republic we were given 226 years ago?  Are we a nation of laws or a nation of men?  President Obama has decided he has the authority to deviate from the Constitution. That trend is toward a nation of men, not laws.  What will it take to restore us to a Nation of Laws?

On December 3, 2013, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing about the expansive powers the President has assumed for himself.  Jonathan Turley, Professor of Public Interest Law, George Washington University, was interviewed by Congress.

Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) asked: “Professor Turley, the constitution, the system of separated powers is not simply about stopping one branch of government from usurping another. It’s about protecting the liberty of Americans from the dangers of concentrated government power. How does the president’s unilateral modification of act of Congress affect both the balance of power between the political branches and the liberty interests of the American people?”

Professor Turley Replied: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The danger is quite severe. The problem with what the president is doing is that he’s not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system. He’s becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. That is the concentration of power in every single branch.”

Why won’t the President “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution?  His background and actions speak volumes about his feelings for the Document.  However, as President, he is not allowed to ignore the law of the land.

The United States of America is not President Obama’s personal fiefdom to rule by fiat as he chooses.  It is a country with three co-equal branches of government, the structure of which our President appears to have forgotten.  The President has three more years in office, and the question that must be asked is how long the American Public and Congress will put up with a President who insists that he can rewrite legislation to suit his personal whim, and those of his supporters?  The actions of the President are a disgrace to all Americans and the Constitution that he took an oath to “preserve, protect and defend.”

- Bob Hancock

 

The Hidden Hazards Of Obamacare

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) was signed into law March 23, 2010, and is now six weeks into its debut.

Obamacare is the lynchpin of President Obama’s legacy, and the President has shown that he will fight tooth and nail against any changes to the law as written.   Economists call the law a drag on the economy.  The 30 hour work week for full time work is increasing the ranks of the less than 30 hours per week employees.  Many regressive taxes and fees have been instituted.  We have been told that all health care plans are substandard unless they meet the Obamacare standard.  The cost of the program continues to increase, and the public is VERY UNHAPPY.

The future of this law will be decided in the next few weeks and months as the debate continues. If the program costs more, where will the money come from?  If we hold costs down, how much rationing will we have to use in our health care, particularly for the older and less well connected?

The basic concept of Obamacare was to bring health insurance to the uninsured, do away with the ability of insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, do away with life time and annual limits on insurance coverage, and allow children to remain on their parent’s insurance coverage until age 26.  The concepts are laudable, however, the underlying legislation is turning into a nightmare of unbelievable consequences.

The problems with Obamacare start with the concept that the government knows more than “we the people” know, and therefore “we the people” (mere mortals in the eyes of the Obama administration) must be restricted on our liberties to choose our health care plans.

An additional problem is that Obamacare was designed as “One size fits All.”  What you thought was good is now “substandard.”  Your choices on policies are almost nonexistent except for the amount your co-pays and deductibles.  Senior citizens are required to pay for pre-natal care and pediatric care.  Young couples are required to pay for geriatric care…..One size fits all.

Yet, although the government insists on telling us what is best for us, the Government itself cannot get its website (a total disaster) running with a 3 1/2 year lead time.  None of the people in charge of this implementation have any experience with either a web start up or running a business, and yet with this law, they want to control 1/6 of the economy of the United States.  Finally, it has been proven that our most personal information is not secure, subject to disclosure, and yet the government is still pushing the website.

Other than the web site, the law is working exactly as written.  It was designed by government control freaks who desired to control every aspect of our medical lives.  They wanted to move us off our plans of choice that we liked, to the Government’s approved choice of health care plans.  The President promised and campaigned for reelection telling everyone that you could keep your medical insurance if you liked it…..PERIOD – This was not true.

Unfortunately, the grandfathering rules written by Health and Human Services made it almost impossible for a person to maintain the insurance coverage that they had and liked.  All that Obamacare has managed to do is get over 5 Million policies cancelled, many covering families of two or more.

Even before the rollout of the law on October 1, 2013, President Obama made a unilateral decision, by fiat, to delay the employer mandate for one year.  This is not authorized in the law or in accordance with the U.S. Constitution and is estimated to cost an additional $12 Billion for this one year extension.

Now the President tells us that we can retain the “substandard” plans we already have and, which have been cancelled, if the insurance company will just reissue them.  However, we will also have to be told what will not be covered and that better plans (usually much more expensive) are available through the health exchanges.  The cost of this modification to the law, not authorized by the law or the U.S. Constitution, has not been priced yet, but will increase the cost of the law.  This change is due to the fact that President Obama is experiencing a major revolt among Democrats in red states running for reelection in 2014.  Unfortunately, anytime, you cancel or delay any of the myriad new taxes and fees imposed by the law, or do not get the maximum number of people signed up for the health care exchanges, you increase the cost of the law.

In spite of its unpopularity, the real problem with Obamacare is its funding.  Tax and fee increases are the core.  However, the program needs young healthy people to sign up in the exchanges.  This is not happening.  Many young people would rather pay the fine than pay for policies they don’t need.  Without the support of the Millennials, signing up in the health exchanges, the program will collapse under its own weight due to lack of funds.

Forcing people to buy insurance policies they do not want takes away our choices and freedoms.  Yes, our healthcare is in a crisis, but the question that must be answered: Is Obamacare the best answer for our future or should we continue to look elsewhere?

Robert Heinlein, Naval Officer, and science fiction author said this many years ago, long before the advent of Obamacare, but it truly describes our current situation with the law:

“…There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want mearly because you think it would be good for him….”

- Bob Hancock

 

 

A President or Neighborhood Organizer – What Do We Have ???

Observing President Obama in action, it becomes very obvious that our leader believes to the core in three basic tenants: 1 – class warfare is good for achieving change, 2 – redistribution of wealth is good for the country, 3 – ridiculing your opponent is a great way to bring down your opposition. These are the classic tools of a neighborhood organizer.

The father of neighborhood organizing, Saul Alinsky (1909-1972) believed it was necessary to invoke conflict and social struggle to achieve social change.    Alinsky’s approach was always to help the have nots take power away from the haves.  This in turn empowers the powerless, the whole concept of neighborhood organizing.

Alinsky came to fame in the 1930s, working in an area of Chicago, IL, known as “The Back of the Yards.”  This is the same area that was made famous by Upton Sinclair who wrote, “The Jungle” an indicting story of the evils of the meat packing industry at the turn of the century (1900).  Alinsky was also the author of “Rules For Radicals“, where in he listed 13 rules which he believed were the tools of a successful neighborhood organizer.

Although there is no record of President Obama and Saul Alinsky ever meeting, their lives are totally intertwined.  When Barack Obama moved to Chicago in 1985, he too began a career as a neighborhood organizer.  He excelled in the field and eventually was instructing others in the art of neighborhood organizing.

According to the New Republic article dated September 8, 2010, Barack Obama was dissatisfied with the results achieved by neighborhood organizing and desired to achieve more.  He felt that going into politics was the best way to make change.  Further, a quote from Michelle Obama in the same article stated:  “Barack is not a politician first and foremost, he’s a community activist exploring the viability of politics to make change.”

Neighborhood organizers divide people into three groups, the have (elites), have a little but want more (middle class), and have nots (poor).  They believe that the easiest way of advancing people is to take it away from those who have it and give it to those who do not.  Much of the expansion of government spending under President Obama has been giving the have nots, and have a little but want more, money that has been extracted from the haves through increasing taxes, a classic example of redistribution of wealth.

The President’s neighborhood organizing background was of great use during the recent government shutdown.  Both before and during the shutdown, he continued to demonstrate that he is still the neighborhood organizer at heart, applying Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals with a deft hand, demonizing his opponents like an Olympic runner competing against grade school children.

The president has also proven that he prefers conflict to meaningful negotiations.  He attacked the Republicans and the Tea Party at every turn of the road demonizing them to the fullest extend that he could.  In addition, he used class warfare to ridicule and divide the people, bring threats of default, along with no social security checks or disability payments, if his demands were not met, and all along he refused to negotiate on anything.  He and his administration were constantly pointing out that any cut in spending would bring the poor and less well off into financial armageddon, maximizing his class warfare credentials.  The President is an excellent speaker and the non questioning, compliant press was all too happy to carry his message, ensuring his message would prevail.

Unfortunately this administration has continued our spending taking us into uncharted territory.  With a debt of over $17 Trillion, we are still able to make our payments on the debt, however, during the recent government shutdown, the Fitch Credit Rating company placed the United States on a negative watch.  With continued spending, we are progressively ending our options for a return to fiscal sanity:

1 -Cut back on spending – the Obama administration has shown no willingness to cut spending regardless of how small the cut.  They are currently trying to kill the sequester cuts which have brought about the only reduction in spending in the last 50 years.

2 – Grow our economy so more money is paid in taxes – Unfortunately, it is the Obama policies of high taxes, regulatory growth, and unchecked government spending that are preventing growth.  While the jobless rate has decreased, it is actually the result of the labor participation rate decreasing.

3 – Raise federal taxes on everyone – there is a small group that want taxes raised, but almost 50% of our population already pay no federal income tax.  Tax increases without spending cuts will be difficult to sell to the people who must pay these taxes, especially those who pay no federal taxes now.

4 – Printing more money is not an option – It will actually bring about both inflation and our default much faster.

President Obama has three more years in office, and we are seeing his true calling, that of a neighborhood organizer.  We know his heart is with redistribution of wealth, and we constantly hear his comments that are nothing more than classic Alinsky class warfare.  We daily see him still on the campaign trail, demonizing his opponents with ridicule, still not recognizing he has won two elections and is the President of the United States.

The question that must be asked is how much longer our country can support the philosophy of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radials at the White House level?

- Bob Hancock

 

 

CHOICES – The Obama Administration Makes Theirs…..

We must remember that life is full of choices and the Obama administration has made choices to continue spending, increasing our debt.  President Obama does not take kindly to being thwarted on his spending and looks for ways to inflict punishment upon the challengers.  This is all designed to disrupt the lives of the American Public and visitors to our great country, all to bring about change to his way of thinking.

Right now, the government is in partial shutdown for lack of a budget, and, within a few weeks, we will approach our borrowing limit.  Both political sides are jockeying for position. This issue is the same that has been brought up many times before with the Obama administration….spending.

Federal debt has increased by $6 Trillion under President Obama, more than any other President in the history of our country, and yet the spending juggernaut rolls on with no indication of a cut in spending.

The problems of our increasing debt have long been recognized.  On September 22, 2011, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated, “…’I’ve said many times that I believe the single, biggest threat to our national security is our debt, so I also believe we have every responsibility to help eliminate that threat….”

The Congressional Republicans have offered to negotiate with the President, but he has refused to negotiate with them.  However, he has indicated a willingness to negotiate with our enemies, including Iran, North Korea, and Syria.

Normally, spending appropriations are broken up into multiple smaller spending bills.  The Republicans have offered multiple spending bills and all have been refused.  President Obama has said he will veto anything that is not one complete bill to cover every apsect of government spending.

The President insists on a “clean” (no conditions) rise of the debt limit and will accept nothing less, as opposed to a “dirty” rise with conditions.  However, according to a Wall Street Journal Article on October 4, 2013, titled “Obama Rewrites Debt Limit History”, “…Democrats have been responsible for 60% of the “dirty” increases when the debt limit was raised alongside other legislative items. Republicans were responsible for 15%. The remaining 25% occurred during divided Congresses….”

At the same time, the President and his acolyte, Jack Lew, the Secretary of the Treasury, are talking to anyone who will listen, forecasting doom and gloom about a pending stock market crash.  The inference is that they are intentionally trying to upset the stock market and cause a widespread selloff instead of acting responsibly and calm.  The main stream media (msm) are supporting the administration’s talking points, and unless you get your news from alternate sources, you would never be the wiser.

The President can best achieve his goals by disrupting the lives of both Americans and visitors to our country by closures.  Following are some examples of how the Obama Administration disrupts our lives and inflicts pain upon everyone:

Asking state governors to close parks – some complied, some didn’t;  Fencing off outside exhibits such as the World War II memorial and Marine Corps Iwo Jima memorial;  Closing the Grand Canyon and not allowing the State of Arizona to keep it open;  Shutting down the National Institute of Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;  Shutdown the Amber Alert, which distributes missing children notifications;  Not allowing sporting events to be transmitted to our troops overseas;  Not allowing contract catholic priests on military bases during shutdown;  Blocking off scenic lookouts on highways near Mt. Rushmore;  Telling charter fisherman that Florida Bay and Biscayne National Park are closed to fishing while the shutdown exits;  Closing military commissaries and exchanges on military bases.

However, the golf course at Andrews AFB, where President Obama golfs, is remaining open.  A new example of what is critical and not critical in the minds of the Obama administration.

All of these examples are an indication of the desperation of the Obama administration to disrupt the lives of everyone and inflict maximum pain on our country, its citizens and visitors.  It is a classic example of a petulant child who cannot get his way and will do whatever is necessary to achieve his goal.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have seen the prediction of doom and gloom from this administration.  In March of this year, we were told that, absolutely, the country could not cut spending one cent, and if we implemented sequestration, the sky would fall.  The idea of sequestration was thought to be so horrible that no one, Democrats or Republicans, could live with it.  We were told the schools would be closed, teachers furloughed, and students sent home to play in the streets, all because spending was being cut by 2.5 percent.  Many government employees, such as safety inspectors, would be furloughed, putting the safety of the American public at serious risk.  The FAA actually furloughed air traffic controllers, and disrupted air travel.  However, with the ensuing public outcry, money was immediately found to put controllers back to work.

The Obama administration is great at this doom and gloom rhetoric, and the main stream media is all too happy to sing the administration’s talking points.  Unfortunately, it would help both the msm and the Obama administration if they would just read Aesop’s Fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  This is the story of a boy who cried wolf many times when there wasn’t a wolf present.  When the wolf finally appeared, and the boy cried wolf, he had done it so many times before, that no one believed him.

With sequestration, the Democrats cried wolf, but instead, we found we could cut spending and no, the sky did not fall.  Now, with the government shutdown and pending debt limit, we are hearing the same rhetoric all over again.  The sky is not falling, and the world has not come to an end.  However, the Obama administration has intentionally elected to create pain wherever posssible.

Its time for the Obama administration to stop their childish, “the sky is falling” rhetoric,  behave like adults, and negotiate in good faith as has been done many times before in years gone by.

- Bob Hancock