Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cut off the head

It was announced today that the CEO of GM would be stepping down as part of the new restructuring plan required by the government to continue to receive government bailout money, in a move that many are viewing as a forced move by the government. While I don't know if that is true per say, I do feel that it is the right thing to do. Rick Wagoner will step down from the position that he has held since 2000 which will open the way for GM to receive more money for the TARP bailout package. Failure to "restructure" in a way that the government approves of could lead to the loss of money already received.
What sends up red flags in my book is the idea that the government is deciding who can keep their jobs in a major corporation. I understand that there are many out there that believe that more government oversight is what is needed in this country, and I agree, too a point. I do believe that there has been too little supervision with too many kids in the candy shop. Greedy investors drove up prices and allowed unsound practices to take place that got us in to this mess. So yes, I do agree that there should be greater government review.
There is a point where you need to draw the line. The American people are very upset right now. They are all looking to see what is wrong and who is to blame. Yes, part of the responsibility lies with the auto companies, just like it lies with the investors on wall street. For years the automakers have been riding the SUV wave and have now washed ashore with nothing to keep them sailing. The only auto company that is still out on the water is Ford. While I do drive Ford cars, I do not believe that they are still afloat because they practiced better business, rather they have the environmentalist to thank for keeping them afloat.
A few years ago, the government passed some fuel efficiency standards for the auto companies which required that the average MPG for the entire fleet of vehicles remained above a set level. Fords biggest seller is the 17 MPG F-150 Pick-up. To counter the lack of MPG from the F-150, Ford developed the Focus, rather they redesigned the Escort and called it the Focus. When the price of gas jumped to $4 a gallon, Ford was the only company that had cars which could compete with the Honda Civic and the Toyota Corolla. The Focus is the only reason that Ford did not have to accept the government bailout money.
So why should GM get the short end of the stick? Why should they be forced to make a deal with the devi... (hem)... government. They shouldn't, but we keep telling the government that is exactly what we want. After the AIG bonus disaster, the outrage from the American people made it very clear to the people in Washington that we want the government to step in and take control. While in the short term this may be helpful, in the long term we may be setting ourselves up for a few headaches.
Asking the head of one of the largest corporations to step down may have some good effects, if we can manage to stop there, but what happens if we don't stop. At what point does the government have to stop telling the publicly traded companies how to run their businesses. I own stock in GM and was not asked if I wanted to accept the bailout money or if the CEO should step down. All the government has managed to do is to scare the few investors that GM and the other automakers have, into thinking that the government may possibly take more control than they should have.
I know that tens of thousands of jobs are on the line, and I understand that when people are losing everything that something needs to be done. What we should all worry about is the partnerships entered into while the times are bad. If something is a bad idea when times are good, what makes us think that the very same thing will be a good idea when times are bad. We all need to slow down, take a few breaths, and give everyone a chance to really consider the potential consequences of our actions.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Flex Those Guns

It seems that every new President needs a chance to show his resolve and push a few people around. Why would President Obama be any different? Today the President announced "comprehensive" new plan to deal with the "threat" of terrorist that exists in both Afghanistan and… wait for it… Pakistan. That's right; The President has put Pakistan on notice for harboring terrorist. I believe that I am beginning to see some patterns evolve. Bush did the same thing. Granted the country was attacked first, but we took off to Afghanistan as so as we could get ammo in the M4's and gas to fuel the tanks. As soon as we could find a reason, we went after Iraq. Now yes this may have been hasty, but what most people forget is that Bush already had plans to remove troops from Iraq, before Obama took office.

What is so different about what President Obama is doing? And he is not even original. Afghanistan has been done. We went there years ago and are still there. It seems to me that the President really knows how to have his cake and eat it too. First he announces that he is removing troops from Iraq. This sounds good to the uniformed, but is truly more symbolic that it is practical. The president is only bringing a portion of the troops home and the rest are staying to "Protect US Interests" and to "help train" the new Iraqi law enforcement, to the tune of 50,000 US men and women. This leaves about half of the number of troops that are currently stationed in Iraq. The average, to quote our President, "Joe Main Street" has no idea that there is not plan in place to bring home all US forces. But hey! Obama said it, so it must be what we want? Right?

Second, the President is now sending more troops into Afghanistan. So that means all those troops that get to come home and see their families get to go back in a few months, this time to the mountains. With the new push towards Afghanistan, the President has managed to move the focus away from the hated, and focus back on the accepted…War.

As a people we need to realize that we do not need to simply accept what is being fed us by the President's Press secretary. It is important for all of us to realize that we need to keep ourselves informed. If we can manage to do that, than most of us will see that there is not a huge difference between different Presidents. Obama is great at telling us what we want to hear, while Bush could not pronounce the world syllable to save his life. President Bush had his fight, and so will President Obama. There is nothing wrong with that. I don't have a problem with the decision to try to protect the US. What I do have a problem with, is simply accepting what anyone has to say, just because they come from your party. Democrat, republican, black, white, or southerner, we all must stay informed, and then… only then, can we influence the world for the better.

For now, it seems that as long as Bin Laden is hiding in the caves and making video tapes, than we will always have a place to go to show how strong we really are. President Obama will do what he wants, tell the people what they want to hear, and for a while, everyone will be made at Osama Bin Laden and not each other. The real question is… What are we going to do if we manage to catch or kill Bin Laden? Watch out Kim Jung Ill… Here we come!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'll admit it, Obama has me impressed... Sort of.

So if you were lucky enough to see the President speak last night, you might for a moment start to believe that he knows what he is talking about. That is, as long as you don’t ask him a question that he does not want to answer. When asked why it took so long for the Obama administration to respond to the AIG bonuses that we have heard about for the last few weeks. The President quickly responded with a firm stare and a quick retort about how he “likes to know what he is talking about.”
Mr. President, is that not the exact same thing that President Bush did that you were so critical of? When someone asked you a legitimate question about your actions, instead of admitting that you were hoping that it would blow over, or that you wanted to see how the American public felt about what you really did not have any control over to begin with, why did you see it fit to make it clear to the reporters that it was not alright to stray from your agenda. You made it obviously clear to everyone that you were the one in control of the conversation and that you would not be make to look like a fool.
I know that you have been criticized for you few slip-ups in the last week or so, but what you fail to realize it that the simple mistakes, while sometimes offensive, help us to see that you are doing the best that you can with what you were given. When you force the people to hear only what you want them to hear, it seems that you are no longer trying to fix the broken system that you were given, rather that you are focused on your own agenda and will do what you want with no regards to what others may think… now where have I seen that before.
On the other hand, there is one place that I am mildly impressed. The Associated Press reported yesterday that several major health insurance companies are offering to discontinue the policy in which they charge higher premiums for clients who have major health problems. Wow, Obama has the health industry scared. So scared, in fact, that they are willing to stop an age old policy to prevent the government from attempting to create its own insurance company, who would then directly compete in the health care industry. Is this the right reason for the change in policy? Of course not, but it’s a move that no other administration has been able to accomplish. Yes it may be because Medicare and Medicaid are the largest single source of income for the medical industry, and if all that money is give back to a government backed company, many others could go out of business, but the final outcome is the same, Change.
As hard as it is for me to admit… in this one case, it seems that Obama’s plan is working. Let’s hope that all of the President’s programs will work as well as this one appears to have started out.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fuzzy Numbers

Last night was evidence of President Obama’s new shift in the presidency towards the use of multimedia when he appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. This marks one of the first times a sitting president has appeared on a television show when not running for reelection. Most view this moves as a step to reach out to the American people in a way that more will understand and accept. The only problem, Fuzzy Numbers.
You remember those from the previous administration. President Bush had a way of sticking his foot in his mouth when he was talking with the media. He was ridiculed for his inability to speak with any eloquence, arguably the worst of which is when he was asked about the numbers that supported his claims and his response was that there was some “Fuzzy Math”.
Now President Obama has stepped into the realm of media mix-ups, albeit he is slightly better at recovering from his mistakes. When speaking with Leno about the bowling alley in the basement of the Whitehouse, Obama mentioned that he had bowled a 129,
“Very good,” Leno replied in a sarcastic tone.
“It was like Special Olympics or something,” the President responded.
When it comes to the things you say on TV, the President could have done worse. He could have declared war on Islam or he could have said that he was going to move the government into socialism. He didn’t do that, but he came close. My Initial reaction is one of disgust. I am blessed enough to have a member of my family that has competed in the Special Olympics, and got a medal in… that right… bowling.
The President quickly realized his mistake and recovered by calling the head of the Special Olympics before the show aired and apologizing for the comment. He went on to invite some participants of the Special Olympics to come to the Whitehouse and help teach him how to bowl better.
After my initial reaction, which I expect that many will have, I took a moment to think about what had been said. I can say that I am still upset. Not because of how indecent the comment was. Not because Obama “the man” made the comment. Some people are ignorant and sometimes make insensitive comments. I am upset because the “Leader of the Free World”, a man who professed to be the catalyst for change and preached acceptance to all throughout the world, would make the comment.
What bothers me more is the lack of response from the media for the statement. They reported it, but lacked to provided the harsh criticisms that they so loved to bestow on Bush. Yes, President Obama is more charismatic than Bush ever was. Yes, he can get his point across in a way that normal people understand, but does that not make the slip even worse. The media should respond to the insensitivity the same way that they would have done to Bush. Just because we like the person we elected, does not mean that we should lower the standards that we hold them too. We should in fact hold them to the higher standard as the goal we should all be working towards.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I Want a Bailout

It seems that the government has spent the last six months bailing everyone out with our children’s taxes, and it appears that the American people have had enough. Or is it that Congress finally agrees with the American people that enough is enough. This week the executives from AIG, the company which started this whole “Economic Downturn”, were dragged in front Congress to explain why, after receiving billions in bailout money, they decided to pay over $160 million in bonuses to the very people that had a hand in the failure of the company, and the collapse of all things economic.
Many of us are wondering why we have to pay to bailout others who walk away with millions when we get nothing. The answer is not because it’s the best thing for the county, or because it’s the “right thing to do”. The answer is “We voted for it.” That right. We all got together last November and told the government that we were not happy with what was going on. We put people in office who we believed would do what was best for our county. Some voted for change, some didn’t. Some voted because Oprah told us too. And some of us chose not to say anything at all and let others pick for us.
No matter how we did it. We did it. We need to stop pointing fingers and take responsibility for our part. It will not do any good to complain. The only thing that will help is to act. Some of us are already doing what we can. I know many who have saved for years and have paid down their debt. Who make it a point not to use their credit cards unless they already have the money to pay them off.
I know many who provide service. Who spend their time every week with kids who may not have the same great start in life that they were given. I know people who have worked for years to get through school so they could get a good job and buy a modest home.
I also know many who bought cars they could not afford. They buy big screen TV’s and that Xbox they want, but then don’t understand why they pay hundreds every year in interests on their credit cards. I know others who bought homes, big homes, and now are moving out a year or two later and can’t even sell them for a loss.
We have all been affected by the economy. Many I know can’t find jobs. College students can’t get internships, let alone jobs when they graduate. But that does not mean that we should look to someone else to fix it. The housing market crashed. We can’t change that, but we can move towards tomorrow. Stop asking, “When do I get mine?” and start creating it. I would love to have a check handed to me to keep me afloat. And I can get one, if I go to work and earn it. I can follow all the tips and trick I read on the internet on how to save a few bucks. I can create my own economic security, and if I ever need it, I can be my own bailout.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Humble Opinion

As I begin my journey into political commentary, I only find it fair to tell you about me and my ideals. My name is David and I'm not that old, although my hair loss my change that soon. I was born in the south and move to Nebraska when I started high school. I have spent some time in South America and loved it. One of the most beautiful places I have ever been is a canyon in Argentina where I met an actual gaucho who lived in a hut consisting of board slats and a corrugated tin roof.
My father was an officer in the Army and moved into the civilian world as a computer programmer while my mother stayed home to take care of me and my 6 siblings. We always got by, but some times were better than others.
As for my political views, they are influenced by a thousand different things, one of the most important is my religious views. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I will not apologize for that. I support my church and believe that each person has the right to support which ever religion they feel is right. I do understand that I may not be right in everything I do or say, but that is a reflection of me and not my church, and I hold others to the same standard. I believe that there are many out there who ascribe to different religions that do wonderful things. Service is a God like attribute regardless of who is providing the service.
I am not, nor do I claim to be endorsed by my church. We believe that each one of us have the right and responsibility to become active in our community and government. I do my best to take each principle I am taught, study it, and decided for myself if the principle is correct. However, my opinions are my own. They reflect my views. When it comes to my religious views, I will refer you to religious leaders. Politics, however are different. We believe that we all have the ability to study a situation and come to our own decision as to the correct path to follow. There are many different views out there, most of them work just as well as the others, and it is possible to disagree politically with another, and still be members of the same religion.
I look forward to your comments. I hope that not only will I spark your interest in politics, but that I will provoke conversation about your community. And if I am very lucky, maybe we will move someone to action.

We live in Zion Times

The world is changing, I believe that we all know that. Things that were abhorred only twenty years ago are now embraced and praised. Is this change bad? Not always. There have been some changes that have been for the better. My wife was able to get a degree in a field of study that only a few years ago was almost entirely composed of men. These changes should be looked at as a success in society, but other changes may be much more destructive. For example, the effect of not having a parent in the home to raise young children, mother or father, has had measurable negative effects on society.
In these wavering times we find failures in society as well as reasons for rejoicing. But simply watching the news while you get ready in the morning or reading major news websites does not fulfill the responsibility of each person to participate in their community; local or national. Nor does begrudgingly going to the voting booths on a Tuesday in November. Each citizen has the responsibility and the right to be truly informed, not merely the ability to simply repeat what they hear on Fox News or read in the New York Times. They need to have a true grasp on the world around them and give their own opinion, even if it happens to be the same as what they read on the web.
The world we live in is what we make of it. We live in Zion Times. We have the chance to make our communities into a shelter from the world. We may not have the power to change what is happening in Washington, but we do have the opportunity to change the communities that we live in into our very own Zion. To do that, we must understand what is happening around us. Understand the controversy around us. It's fine if we disagree. I may not feel the same way you do, but working together we can all have a part in making a better world, however small that world may be.
Lets create a world where in uncertain times, expression is not reserved for only those with the loudest voice. The quite voice has the power to change. Together, let us call for truth.