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Aug 21 2013

Detroit and Blue State America

Carolyn

As a country, we’ve seen the city of Detroit pushed into bankruptcy as a result of over half a century of municipal mismanagement and corruption, the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history, at $18-20 billion. At one time it stood as the richest city, per capita, in the US, as well as the fourth largest in terms of population.

What we’ve seen over the decades since Detroit’s economic and population height is a long, sustained flight of capital. Individuals and businesses have made the rational choice to invest in cities and towns where business growth is encouraged through contractual freedom (right-to-work), low taxation and decreased regulation. When the entrepreneurs and businesses that can easily leave, do, what remains is a static workforce made up of mostly union workers and government employees, or rather taxpayer-subsidized union employees.

From December 2010:

The Census Bureau announced today that eight states will gain at least one Congressional seat. Texas will gain four seats and Florida will gain two. Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington will gain one seat each. The biggest losers will be New York and Ohio – both will lose two seats – while Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania will lose one seat each.

The average top personal income tax rate among gainers is 116 percent lower than among losers. The total state and local tax burden is nearly one-third lower, as is per capita government spending. In eight of ten losers, workers can be forced to join a union as a condition of employment. In 7 of the 8 gainers, workers are given a choice whether to join or contribute financially to a union.

Detroit’s bankruptcy was preceeded by sixty years of rising taxes, generous government pension promises and a shrinking tax base. Additionally, non-government unions forced much of the industry in Detroit into a position where it was advantageous to build plants oversees in order to avoid unsustainable costs.

Most of those who had the means to leave, did. Of those who have chosen to stay, fewer than half (49.8 percent) are either working or looking for work, the lowest rate among major US cities.

Detroit also has far more city employees per resident than do most other similar sized cities and, for those making $50,000 or more, the 4th largest tax burden among the largest US cities. In fact, those taxes are going to pay for things such as $56,000 for a horseshoer in the Detroit Water & Sewer Department, despite the fact that it has been years since horses were used by the city. Not surprisingly, Wayne County has 520,000 citizens receiving food stamps, over 25 percent of its citizenry, presumably with most of those located within the city of just under 707,000.

Dynamism and entrepreneurship have virtually disappeared while government jobs, dying industry and welfare have remained. When those with the imagination and drive to create new jobs and new industries leave in search of more favorable conditions for taking risk, the jobs of the future follow them.

Detroit is left with the jobs and industries of the past, propped up by federal investment and municipal credit that is now wiped out.

Can anyone please explain how the present in Detroit (and Bell, CA and San Bernardino, CA and Stockton, CA and Jefferson County, AL, . . .) is any different from the future of all the cities and states which continue to follow the very policies that destroyed America’s once-great motor city?


Dec 5 2012

Childhood Obesity and Michelle’s Failing Plan to Change It

Reprint of an article I wrote for Smart Girl Nation, third quarter 2012. http://issuu.com/smartgirlpolitics/docs/qtr3?mode=window&pageNumber=1

C.M. Phippen

The United States has an obesity problem.

Let’s ignore the fact that this problem for women has been linked to food stamp usage and that the longer they remain on food stamps, the more weight they gain; weight which is, to a large degree, lost after ceasing participation in the program.

Let’s forget that almost 45 percent of overweight or obese children, 10-17, are poor and that adolescents in low-income areas are nine times more likely to be overweight than those in well-off neighborhoods.

Let’s not pay attention to the fact that in many localities schools provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for students. These programs are generally in low-income areas where, presumably, many of the parents are already receiving food stamps.

Now, while expanding school food programs and encouraging food stamp participation through slick new advertisements and a further loosening of requirements, our federal government is more concerned than ever about rising obesity rates.

Enter the school cafeteria and Michelle Obama’s plan to slim down America’s children. Changes to the school lunch program were rolled out this year, changes that include more whole grains and a wider choice of fruits and vegetables. The new lunches also have calorie caps of 650 calories for elementary, 700 for middle school and 850 for high school.

Keep in mind that growing teenagers need more calories than adults, and active teens may need substantially more, anywhere from 1,800 – 3,200 calories per day. Since the implementation of the new lunch program, many students are complaining of being hungry by early afternoon and those who can are simply choosing to bring lunch from home in order to have enough to eat.

While students are complaining about not having enough to eat, twice as much food is being thrown away from school lunches this year, according to ABC news. Maybe this is because, as one food service worker put it, “It’s completely flip-flopped in terms of portion size. New federal guidelines require vegetables to comprise the largest portion of a student’s lunch, while the entrée is now being treated as a side dish.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who worked with Michelle Obama on the new lunch initiative, claims that the answer for these hungry students is to eat a snack; in other words, replace the food they just took out of the school lunches.

The administration is apparently working on creating a new snack program for kids not getting enough to eat at lunch, thanks to the last program they just created.

Meanwhile, children in private schools, like Michelle Obama’s own daughters, are not subject to the same rules public school children are. As one who has had children in both public and private schools, I’ve clearly seen the responsiveness of private schools specifically relating to the lunch issue. If the food isn’t what the kids want, the parents stop buying and the program becomes too expensive to run; consequently, school administrators do all they can to provide healthy, attractive and interesting food options that kids will actually want to eat.

Unfortunately, there are no such incentives, or common sense, in the public system. While a new snack program is being implemented to fill the tummies of hungry students who are eating their federally-limited two ounces of protein while probably throwing away most of their vegetables, students are prohibited from receiving additional helpings even if there is food left over.

The kids are throwing away their vegetables, we’re throwing away the leftover meat and our federal government is implementing a new supplementary snack because everyone’s starving; all while our country is going broke. Huh?

http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/foodstamp.htm

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/28/school-lunch-fight-jon-st_n_1922703.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/325792-how-many-calories-do-teens-need-a-day/

http://www.childrensdefense.org/policy-priorities/childrens-health/child-nutrition/childhood-obesity.html

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/09/michelle_obamas_share-the-starvation_school_lunch_program.html


May 12 2012

The One-Way Street of (In)Tolerance

C.M. Phippen

The furor over the legal definition of marriage as between one man and one woman has escalated this week with the passage of a constitutional amendment to that effect in North Carolina, even as our President came out in support of states being allowed to define it as such or not, while personally supporting such a change in the historical definition. Huh?

I just have one question: Just when is tolerance and acceptance going to become a two-way street?

One of the primary drivers of resistance to changing the definition of marriage, and therefore offering government endorsement of any variation on marriage a person may prefer, is that under federal civil rights legislation, the rest of us have already become obligated to change our behavior and speech in order to suit the whims of those who reject societal norms. At what point will our freedoms be protected – freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom to live our religion without government interference?

I find it fascinating that when a state passes civil rights protection legislation based on sexual orientation, there must be exemptions put into these laws for churches. Without such exemptions, churches could (and most definitely would) be sued for refusing to perform same-sex marriages or unions. Oh no, already happened, even with those legislature-granted exemptions.

Based on President Obama’s recent pronouncement declaring that religious organizations must provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plans, despite the fact that religious exemptions were promised during the passage of the Obama healthcare law (seriously, you believed a politician?), the maxim that what government has the power to give, government certainly has the power to take away could not have been proven more true. Our founders declared that those rights came from God. And no, Barack, they didn’t mean you.

So if a law must have exemptions for churches written into it, doesn’t that tell us that the law itself is probably already overstepping its bounds with regard to our individual freedoms? While “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” probably has to do with the operation of the churches themselves, the part about “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” certainly applies to us as individuals exercising our own rights to apply the principles of our religion in our daily lives as we see fit.

That personal application of religion could include, for some, not being willing to participate in activities or ceremonies that they find offensive or blasphemous. Who could balk at that in this great nation of diversity? Oh, the same people pushing for you to accept and celebrate everything about their lives while at the same time attempting to undermine and disparage anything they don’t agree with or like about yours.

A few cases in point:

EHarmony was sued for not providing gay dating services. According to a settlement, EHarmony will need to “do more to welcome gays and lesbians to its site.” Just makes you feel so good, doesn’t it? An entirely new company was formed under the settlement, just to accomodate gays.

Ever think of starting your own company if the businesses out there aren’t meeting your needs or desires? That’s what many of the rest of us would do, but no, not the open-minded, non-judgmental crowd. According to them, you not only have to accomodate whatever they want, but you ought to be required by law to provide it personally, and on a silver platter, thank you very much. Oh, and by the way, $500,000 was set aside in the settlement for those who were harmed by EHarmony not providing this service prior to the settlement. I’m wondering if I can sue because they weren’t providing services at all before I was married, and I wasted a lot of time dating and getting to know people on my own!

A Methodist church that refused to allow same-sex weddings in its religious buildings (they had offered use of their property, just not buildings where religious meetings were held), lost its case when a lesbian couple sued them and lost their tax exempt status on the building in question. All because this couple wanted use of these privately-owned facilities and it mattered not to them what the owners of the facility wanted. Yeah, it’s all about compromise. (Is legal coercion while one side stomps its feet and throws a fit, then gets its way thanks to nanny-state courts, the same as compromise? If so, then yes, this is compromise.)

A photographer was sued by a lesbian couple whose wedding she didn’t want to shoot. The photographer was found to have violated the Human Rights Act and fined $7,000. One of the women who sued her was actually an EEO Compliance Representative with the Office of Equal Opportunity and a member of the Diversity Committee at the University of New Mexico. Apparently diversity means that you accept me and my feelings while I reject you and yours.

As a Mormon, I wouldn’t really want an anti-Mormon who didn’t have respect for the sanctity of my marriage taking pictures at my wedding; just might affect the quality. Do you think they really wanted this photographer that badly, or they just wanted to “re-educate” her? Hmmm, I could swear I’ve seen this somewhere before . . . maybe somewhere where “freedom” wasn’t much of a priority?

A Christian baker who politely informed a lesbian couple she wouldn’t feel comfortable making their wedding cake is not only facing a boycott and harassment, but could potentially be facing a civil rights suit.

So hey, I’m all for you doing your thing, just wondering when you all are going to come out in support of me doing mine?


Oct 8 2010

Does Size Really Matter?

10/2 rally v. 9/28 rally

Each of these photographs was taken near the beginning of the respective rallies, 8/28 Restoring Honor and 10/2 One Nation, and is a reasonable representation of the support garnered by each. Does it matter?

Many on the left would tell you now, after organizing a rally supported by 400 organizations (some of which told their members they had to attend and others which paid their way there) and abjectly failing to garner any significant support, that crowd size is irrelevant. Of course, over the past month all we’ve heard from many of these same people is that the convergence of so many angry, white, racists on the national mall on 8/28 was just a matter of chance. Lawrence O’Donnell even went so far as to say that the approximately “86,000″ people there were what you’d typically expect on a summer Saturday afternoon. As one who did attend 8/28 (and wanted to attend 10/2 but had a conflict) the stupidity displayed in such statements is nothing if not amusing.

If size really doesn’t matter, if support of particular principles means nothing, what is the point of elections? Why is anyone concerned about Nov. 2, 2010 or that fast-approaching fateful day of Nov. 6, 2012? The left’s attempts to sell the message that it doesn’t matter how opposed the American public is to their policies is either laughable or frightening. Public support is the very essence of democracy; on the other hand, if you plan to rule with an iron fist and in complete opposition to the will of the American people, you might not care (health care anyone?).


Sep 1 2010

Restoring Honor Rally

C.M. Phippen

I recently attended the Restoring Honor event in Washington D.C. and came away spiritually uplifted and inspired by the messages spoken there, and the experiences I shared with fellow travelers. Unfortunately, those messages aren’t being written or shared in much of the media and I can’t help but wonder why (not really).

MSNBC has gone out of its way to stress CBS’s “estimated” crowd size of 85,000 which is so far from being accurate as to make it laughable. Desperate attempts to sideline mainstream America are becoming more and more transparent, especially to those of us who saw with our own eyes. With the exception of the CBS outlier, estimates range from 330,000 to 650,000.

Then there were the falsehoods put out there repeatedly about how hateful and violent this type of crowd is. We have a dear liberal friend who advised us that if trouble were to break out around us, we should simply walk away and not get involved. How many hours a day must one spend reading the Huffington Post and the New York Times, without any rational counterbalance, in order to honestly believe the lies about the violence of the right?

Then there is the issue of the religious leaders who were there. Has anyone thought to mention the 240 leaders of faith, representing 180 million people, who stood with Glenn Beck as he challenged the attendees to turn to God. “Faith, hope, and charity are growing dim. We simply must remember who we were and who we can become, not what we have become.” I didn’t see mention of this support anywhere, nor of this message.

Rather than attempt to sideline those we disagree with by lying about them and misrepresenting what they believe, let’s welcome discussion and debate. Let’s eagerly engage in intelligent conversation with those who disagree with us, and who have a different vision for America. If we speak truth, we have nothing to fear from such discussion.

Unfortunately, my own experience has born out the frequency with which many denigrate, name call, and pick apart the individual rather than discuss the issues (and of course, let’s not forget the often-present crude sexual remark, unfortunately a hallmark of the left). I can only assume that because this is the essence of political debate by many in the media, those who choose to limit themselves to such media types have come to believe that is what makes up intelligent discussion. Let’s not fall into that trap.

The coverage of the 8/28 event focused on everything except for the words spoken there, words spoken over a period of three hours – there was plenty to write. I read about the manufactured controversy surrounding the event, the “un-Christian” religion of Glenn Beck, the large crowds of attendees at the metro who hadn’t been adequately provided for by the organizers of the event. This was contrasted with the way Obama prepurchased metro passes for his followers at the inauguration so they wouldn’t be confused when they had to figure out how to ride the subway themselves (could there be any clearer delineation?!).

Nowhere did I read about Beck’s 40 day challenge, the overarching theme of the gathering, which was based on faith, hope, and charity. This challenge was issued 40 days before 8/28 and was reiterated on that day; it had three parts. The first was for each of us to pray, on our knees, at least once a day for 40 days – faith. The second was to tell the truth, always; to lie to no one, not even ourselves, and to search for truth in all things – hope. “And it only matters when you tell the truth and you know that it’s going to hurt you. You know that it’s not going to help your side. Tell the truth! America is crying out for the truth. Tell the truth in your own life, and then expect it from others.” The third part of the challenge dealt with charity. We were challenged to be charitable, first and foremost, within our own families, and to do something kind for each member of our family each week.

This was the theme of the event, the call to change ourselves as individuals, through faith, hope, and charity. This is the message many in the media don’t want you to know about, or don’t think is important enough to print. Either way, may I say, pity the fool.


Aug 9 2010

Truth and Fear

C.M. Phippen

Reformation period art had two consistent characteristics in its illustration of the believers.  Catholics were portrayed holding rosaries, while Lutherans were shown holding books, usually Bibles.

The struggle for power is always a struggle of those who desire their power through our ignorance v. those who seek the empowerment of all through education, enlightenment, and consequently, freedom.  In our day, a new reformation is underway; we can choose to allow those with power to take even more through our ignorance and their empty promises which can never really be, or we can become empowered by seeking, learning, questioning, and thinking.

When I was young, a book was published that was not only vitriolically critical of my religion, but full of half-truths and flat out lies.  Churches of different faiths in my hometown were holding meetings to talk about the book, show a movie based on it, and basically sit around bashing this religion they didn’t agree with.

One day I came across this book in my home.  I was only 11 or 12, and I went to my mother and asked if I could read it.  Her response was that I could, but she had me commit to read my scriptures diligently during the period of time I was reading the book, and she in fact gave me specific guidelines for my own study to ensure my exposure to the whole story.

My parents weren’t afraid of me being exposed to lies, half-truths, and criticisms; they knew where the truth lay, and they had confidence in my ability to find it as long as I had both sides of the discussion in front of me.  They knew that to shield me from discussion and debate about things they didn’t agree with or knew to be untrue would only serve to weaken me intellectually and spiritually.

I know it’s human nature to be so wrapped up in one’s opinions and ideas that we refuse to acknowledge anything on the other side.  I think it’s probably even human nature to want to shut up those on the other side of the discussion, as our president seems truly pained to not be able to do (although he and many of his associates have given it a good try).  It could even be human nature to want to call names, try to demean and discredit, and essentially attempt to undermine those who disagree with us without even addressing our real issues of divergence.

There is, though, danger in this approach.

When our opposition is founded on anything other than truth and its principles, we falter.   We become fearful of others being “bombard[ed] with all kinds of content,” and being exposed to “all kinds of arguments.”  We shouldn’t fear those arguments, even if we feel they “don’t always rank that high on the truth meter.” Since when, in America, did too much information become something other than a “means of emancipation?” (I know he said epancipation, but I’m trying to not distract from the issue at hand.)

Too many are fooled by platforms founded on lies because they’ve never been exposed to anything other than those lies.   Those who’ve not developed the ability to adequately and systematically reason through real and complicated issues can be fooled by one promising the most lavish benefits, or one who places all the blame for everything wrong in your life on the other guy (guilty or not), or one who screams the loudest and tells you that progress is achieved by undermining the building blocks of the most successful society in human history.

I’m trying to figure out what is so scary that our president and so many around him have been systematically working to undermine the free exchange of ideas and attempting to shut down opposition.  Remember, if truth is on your side there is nothing to fear.  Why so afraid?


Aug 2 2010

Politics and Divisions

C.M. Phippen

The recent Shirley Sherrod uproar was an interesting study in human behavior and political motivation. Andrew Breitbart, on his website BigGovernment.com, posted a video of Ms. Sherrod, speaking at the NAACP and claiming that when a white farmer came to her many years ago she didn’t want to help him because she was “struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farm land.” She went on to say, “and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do.” She then says that she subsequently referred him to a white attorney, “one of his own,” to help him.

As she talks about the interchange between herself and the farmer, she says that he took a long time talking and that he was trying to show he was superior to her. According to Ms. Sherrod, all the while he was trying to show her how superior he was, she was trying to decide just how much she was going to help him. (Am I the only one who thinks that maybe Ms. Sherrod and her own lack of self-worth might be the real problem here?)

What a sad, angry, bitter way of viewing the world. Interestingly enough, she has since been exonerated by many in the media because of the fact that further on in her speech (a portion which wasn’t included in the original posting), she explained how this led to an evolution within herself; she eventually came to see that it wasn’t a matter of white against black, but rather rich against poor.

Now I get it! To hate another human being because they’re of a different race is wrong, but to hate another because they have more than you is simply what . . . normal?

Sounds a bit like John Edwards and his two Americas rhetoric. “One America does the work [ostensibly those receiving government services and wealth transfers] while another America reaps the reward [the rich, of course]. One America pays the taxes [the 46% who pay no federal income tax] while another America gets the tax breaks [the taxpayers, let's say the top 25%, who pay over 86% of the federal income taxes].” Oh, it’s making sense now.

David Horowitz, a man heavily involved in radical left-wing politics for decades before his conversion to the underpinnings of truth that lie in the conservative ideology, has said, “The radical worldview divides humanity into the oppressed who suffer as the objects of the historical process and the oppressors who inflict the process on everyone else. . . . For the traditional Marxist, the enemy system that organizes and distributes power is capitalism; for the radical feminist, it is patriarchy; and for the queer theorist, it is ‘hetero-normativity.’”*

In order for the politics of the left to thrive, there always must be a victim class. Without it there is little message, and any semblance of substance simply disappears. This mindset is echoed from the halls of left-wing ideology daily, and it doesn’t take us to a very good place.

It is the political message that leads us here, courtesy of Ed Schultz, on the special-election in Massachusetts, “I tell you what, if I lived in Massachusetts, I’d try to vote ten times. I don’t know if they’d let me or not, but I’d try to. Yeah, that’s right, I’d cheat to keep these bastards out. I would. ‘Cause that’s exactly what they are.”

Or it leads us to King Samir Shabazz, ranting in front of a polling place in Philadelphia in 2008 and saying, among other things, if “[y]ou want freedom, you’re gonna have to kill some crackers; you’re gonna have to kill some of their babies.”

Or it leads us to where I was a few years ago, having been nominated for the board of a very prestigious women’s organization. As I spoke with the CEO, she explained that a core goal of the organization was the elimination of discrimination. I asked her if discrimination were such an important issue, why weren’t men allowed to be equal members with women. The reply stunned me, “Only men can discriminate.”

Or it leads us to act as Eric Holder is accused of acting when he allegedly ordered his attorneys at the Justice Department to disregard cases involving black defendants and white victims. I’m guessing that only whites can discriminate.

Shirley Sherrod, in an interview with Anderson Cooper after she claims she was forced by the white house to resign from her job at the USDA, says that Breitbart must be a racist and that she thinks he “would like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery.”

Mary Frances Berry, who spent over a decade as the Chairperson of the US Commission on Civil Rights recently said, “Tainting the tea party movement with the charge of racism is proving to be an effective strategy for Democrats. There is no evidence that tea party adherents are any more racist than other Republicans, and indeed many other Americans. But getting them to spend their time purging their ranks and having candidates distance themselves should help Democrats win in November. Having one’s opponent rebut charges of racism is far better than discussing joblessness.”

But I’m sure it’s just really all about the issues.

*The Politics of Bad Faith, David Horowitz, The Free Press 1998, p. 156.


Jul 29 2010

70/30 Nation

C.M. Phippen

So, 36% of the American public thinks Obama is doing a good job on the deficit. In fact, 23% didn’t think the stimulus package added to the deficit at all. That level of miseducation is astounding to anyone even the slightest bit economically informed. The federal deficit for the 2010 budget is projected to be 10.6% of GDP, with an expected increase even higher next year. This, even though according to our President, we’re in the middle of recovery.

Federal discretionary spending increased over 80% from 2008 to 2010, thus resetting the baseline at an extraordinarily high level. Every new budget going forward starts at that point and goes upward from there; any reductions are considered cuts – something that almost never happens in Washington. What does tend to happen is that spending will increase each year, thus ensuring greater and greater deficits, and an exploding national debt as far as the eye can see.

Deficits under George W. Bush were in the 1-3.5% range until 2009, for which President Bush and President Obama were both responsible. Most of us believed spending was out of control under Bush, only exacerbated by the $800 billion (ten year) price tag on Medicare Part D.

President Clinton was elected to his first term in office with a minority of the popular vote, which had been split by Ross Perot with 19%. What was the issue that so divided fiscal conservatives and was the basis of Perot’s campaign? Concern over a deficit of approximately 4% of GDP.

A quick review of articles written during the Bush administration attests to the fact that liberals have been consistently concerned with out-of-control deficits during periods of time when they’ve been a fraction of what they currently are. I certainly hope this concern is genuine rather than political and we’ll soon see wide-ranging support for massive spending cuts in order to meet the historically consistent level of spending at 18-20% of GDP.

Politicians from both parties have been selling out the future of our country in order to buy votes in the here and now, and the rest of us just can’t afford this party any more.

In The Battle, Arthur C. Brooks outlines a consistent 70/30 split among the American population. That is pretty much what we see in this support for current policies dealing with budget and spending issues.

Nearly 70% of Americans agree that they’re better off in a free market economy than not, “despite its severe ups and downs.” Fifty-six percent of Americans believe their income taxes are too high, while 33% believe they’re just right. Astoundingly, while many Americans believe that the rich should pay more taxes, 69% believe that the top tax rate should be 20% or lower! Seventy-six percent believe the strength of America is based on the success of American business and 66% believe that when “big business” earns a profit it helps the economy; alternately, 18% believe it hurts (where did they go to school?) When asked if they would prefer larger government with more services and higher taxes or smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes, only 21% of Americans chose larger, more expensive government while 69% preferred smaller.*

There is a minority of the population, the 30%, who will, due to lack of understanding or pure ideological drive, charge ahead in attempts to completely redefine and transform this nation of freedom and wealth which was unimaginable in the world just a few centuries ago. It is the rest of us, the 70%, the mainstream of America, who stand in their way. It’s time for the politicians to represent us.

(Polling data excerpted from The Battle by Arthur C. Brooks, Basic Books, 2010, pp. 3-12)


Jul 16 2010

Napoleon, Rothschild, and Unintended Consequences

C.M. Phippen

During the conquests of Napoleon Bonaparte, intermittent war raged between France and Britain for over twenty years. One of the major difficulties faced by Great Britain during those years was the issue of supplying resources to troops spread out in battlefields throughout the continent. Faraway merchants were reluctant to accept bills of exchange offered by the Duke of Wellington and his troops, and the only answer seemed to be to transport actual gold coins across Europe during a time of war.

This proposition was expensive and extremely risky. The British government turned to Nathan Rothschild, who had spent a decade in the textile industry, dealing mainly with Britain and Germany. Napoleon had placed a blockade on trade between England and mainland Europe, which had allowed Rothschild to gain vast experience smuggling gold out of England in order to conduct his business, but also in violation of that blockade. Rothschild’s knowledge and experience allowed the British to carefully and expertly move vast quantities of gold coins across the continent to their troops in need of sustenance.

Napoleon assumed that the blockade would bring Great Britain to its knees, but it actually led to them being able to access the vitally important experience which was necessary to sustain their troops in battle and continue fighting. This act of oppression created the very situation which allowed for eventual British victory.

Government actions often tie the hands of the productive and the wealth-producing members of society, whether that is the goal or not. The ingenuitive, though, will always find a way to continue on. A friend of ours recently decided to incorporate his international company far from the US or Europe because of the corporate restrictions and smothering tax rates found here.

Our new government of hope and change, our Napoleon, can do its best to control the actions of everyone in society through oppressive policies of redistribution and forced equalization, but the end result will be a population where all may be “equal” (to a bureaucrat, anyway) but none will be wealthy and few will be productive. In fact, it won’t be long before the most productive will go elsewhere to make their money. I think I’ve seen this all somewhere before, but hey, this time is bound to be different . . .

(Historical information excerpted from Niall Ferguson’s The Ascent of Money, Penguin Books, 2008, pp. 82-84)


Jul 2 2010

Investments, education, and government policy

C.M. Phippen

A lot of exciting things are going on in my personal life right now, from a son not yet old enough to drive being accepted into college, to major overseas business opportunities which could significantly impact our family. I’ve been off the radar lately as I spend more time diverted by such matters, but I’ve noticed how one issue after another intersects pointedly with public policy.

Through our son, we’ve seen first-hand the benefits to the community when public university and school funds are used in ways that encourage greater educational attainment (as opposed to teaching to the mean), business development, and scientific research and achievement. After many years in private school, our son was able to attend a public charter school that was allowed to innovate and develop a nationally renowned science and engineering program which partners with a public research university. This university has also been blessed with state legislators and a former governor who were willing to use funds in a way that encouraged the proliferation of new high-tech industry in a state desperately in need of such. As a result, this university rivals MIT in business startups. Not bad for a public university, which just recently accepted my 14-year-old son as a full-time student.

As the financial industry my husband has been involved in for over fifteen years has faced more and more government hostility and constantly evolving regulation that repeatedly fails to address the issues that could actually solve some real problems, we’ve been forced to look outside our traditional avenues of income for some sense of economic stability. Our desire to invest resources overseas is encouraged by the fact that we’ve watched the Chinese begin shifting much of their capital from the US to some of the same developing nations and industries we’re investigating; nations whose governments are interested in encouraging economic growth throughout all strata of society and who have learned through hard experience the dangers of attempting to turn classes against each other in order to increase their own power. These lessons will serve them well in the coming years if they can remember them better than we have.

Government has a place. When our resources, those that belong to us the taxpayers but which have been entrusted to a government charged with serving all of society, are used to encourage job creation, innovation, and education we will all be better for it. In a country where “73% of the political class say the country is heading in the right direction, but 84% of mainstream voters say it’s going in the wrong direction,” we’d all better hope our politicians figure it out before too many more American businesses and workers simply give up and decide our best days are behind us – and take their dollars and education somewhere else, where government appreciates and encourages their contributions.