Sunday, December 13, 2009

Wait, Isn't This Good News?

This has been a confusing few weeks since the proverbial 'Climate Gate' news hit the mainstream media. The science is in and apparently it's corrupted data that shows danger and a global warming crisis. Or is it? There are scientists on both sides of this debate. I'd certainly like to see some collaboration on the research and open debate on some of the data and details.

A much more simple and fundamental question comes to mind when I step back and think about this... Shouldn't we be happy to hear that there's a possibility that humans aren't destroying the earth? I heard this concept thrown out there as a casual comment on conservative talk radio Friday. At first, I didn't think much of it. Then it struck me - this is great news! It's not conclusive that we are all rapidly melting, or is it freezing... I don't remember. Either way, it appears that we've got enough time now to figure things out! Fantastic!

Or is it too late for some things? Emission regulations (second only to union labor) have contributed to the dismantling and destruction of the U.S. automotive industry. Billions of dollars (wait, is it billions or trillions? Doh, I've gone cross eyed)  have been spent and more money promised to 'green' things up around the world. Shouldn't we make sure it's true before we go further? Shouldn't we be sure before we outlaw coal and energy sources that are less expensive and more reliable than wind and solar sources? More importantly, shouldn't we be absolutely sure the scientists are being 'scientific' and 'truthful' before we write them blank checks for designing a blueprint for future energy policy?

Isn't it confusing to see these folks upset at the concept that we may not be destroying the earth as fast as many thought? I mean, how can we be anything but elated to hear it? Come on, this does not help the case of the alleged email perpetrators, does it? The fact that they seem to want this stuff to be true - it just doesn't make sense - unless... could it be the money? No, surely not that. Can we ask these guys this stuff? What exactly happens if they are exposed or proven wrong? Isn't that good news for the industrialized world and economies we live in? Let's figure it out, I'd like to know what and who to believe.

Though I'm not a scientist, I remember a couple facts from biology. Humans breath Oxygen and exhale Carbon Dioxide. Plants on the other hand 'breathe' or use Carbon Dioxide for photosynthesis and emit Oxygen. If plants are good for us, and CO2 is good for them, how can it be a pollutant like the EPA declared? God designed a pretty good symbiotic relationship here, and I have a feeling he knew the capabilities and future of mankind. We'll find out, one way or another, we'll find out the truth!

Watch out, you emit CO2! Do we fall under the regulatory power of the EPA now?

Collin Hedegard

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Do Americans Need a 'Recycle Bin' for Politicians?

Alright, as the news feeds roll past my eye and debate presses on, we have to ask ourselves "What is going on with politicians these days?!?" Reid proclaims late last night that his caucus has reached an important compromise, and they cannot disclose the details! Why not? Why are laws being written with lobbyists and no public disclosure? This is nothing like what we were told during the campaign. The American public should demand some explanations!

Regardless of your views or political affiliation, it is tough to like any politician right now. On one hand there is a Democratic Party that campaigned on reforming political behavior, transparency, and middle ground - of which they are not delivering anything other than partisan and exclusive progress of a left and radical agenda. On the other hand there is a leaderless and seemingly week GOP trying to slow the Liberal momentum. Further, the middle ground and 'undecided' folks are just frustrated and confused.

Maybe it's time to move all these politicians into the 'Recycle Bin' and try some new ideas! Personally, I'd like to see someone brave enough to do what he or she believes to be right and risk getting kicked off the congressional gravy train. I expect they'll discover a constituency that respects them and will support them, even if they don't agree 100%. It's sickening to see someone compromise their views for the sake of re-election. It's also disgusting that guys like Byrd and Specter have been on the Hill for decades - have they provided a genuine or unique idea in recent history? How good is this job that they will switch parties and opinions to stay in the seats?

As you may deduce from this opinion, I'm a huge proponent of limiting terms for both bodies of Congress. It's just practical and smart to demand an influx of new ideas, concepts, and personalities into any organization. Granted, elder members provide a conservative wisdom that can't be matched. However, there's no argument that today's youth are more innovative and intelligent than ever before. Maybe the voting public will chose the wise crowd, maybe not. The beauty of many successful endeavors is balance, and it is my opinion that Congress would benefit from ideas and innovation. The voters should have the opportunity to bring in some fresh meat and see what they can do!

Collin Hedegard

Friday, December 4, 2009

Stimulus and TARP - Giant 2010 Campaign Funds?

Reports this week indicated that over 60% of the Stimulus money had not been spent as of now. Additionally, there's about a quarter trillion left in TARP. Here's a 'stimulating' question for the Administration:

Why has the extremely urgent stimulus bill money not been spent urgently?

Now, I'm sure that even 10 months is enough time to cut through some serious red tape. I'm also sure the post office isn't that slow. So, why would the government hold on to this 'critical' money when we were being held over a dark abyss by a 'stimulus' thread?

Howard Dean answered this question for us. Permanent Campaign mode is in full effect. That's right, the Democratic Party Strategy is to use legislation and policy to provide ongoing support to it's own campaign efforts. Dean's idea was exposed on video released earlier this week on Fox.

What does that mean? Well, quite simply the majority of the stimulus money will be spent in 2010, and likely with a concentration of spending in districts where Democratic Congress Members are in tough races. Let's just watch and see how this unfolds next year. Won't it be convenient for struggling politicians to be able to say, "Look, I am responsible for this project and these jobs. I fought for them to be in the stimulus, and here they are!"

So, isn't it good that the money creates jobs? Yes, but ask the right question: Would those people liked to have gone to work in 2009? Could the projects have been funded and begun a year earlier? If this is true, then many of us are struggling for an extra year so the timing can be just so... That's truly sad.

Let's close with another series of questions for you the reader or skeptic;
Did you get the impression that it was extremely urgent in January 2009 that the Stimulus Bill get passed?
Should the governments efforts to spend money and create jobs happen as fast as possible, especially in a time of crisis as they claimed?

Here's a deeper question... Should campaign contribution reform be looked at immediately after the unemployment crisis is addressed and include the elimination of such a potential plot?

Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Can We Continue to Max Out the US Credit Card?

Some staggering news last week, the U.S. has reached its borrowing limit of $12 Trillion. For those of you that haven't seen that kind of # here it is:


Compare that to this number, the approximate U.S. Population now:


Now, keeping in mind that the population includes kids, elderly, etc. let us see what we currently have on our shoulders if we live in the U.S. today.

12,000,000,000,000 divided by 308,000,000 = $38,961 debt per person! Wow!

So, every man, woman, and child in the U.S. will have to cover this burden with future taxation. That's right, if we don't spend another dime and all interest was forgiven we would each have to pay nearly $39K in taxes above what the government already takes to operate the existing systems. The real truth is that burden will be levied on taxpayers, which is around 200,000,000 of us. So, scratch the 39K and let's consider it to realistically be around $60,000 for each taxpayer now.

Is it possible that spending will stop? Even slow down? Is it likely that the countries and investors that have loaned us the money will forgive the interest on the money? I gotta tell you, I'm getting very concerned about this! It seems the answer to those questions is 'NO'!

I'll speak for my family, which is comprised of 2 taxpayers. We are not ready to pay $2,000 more in taxes per year for the next 30 years. Remember, that is at 0% interest and no additional spending (this is not realistic). Those of you getting a couple thousand bucks each spring can kiss that goodbye.

The timing of this terrible burden is not short of horrible. 10.2% of us are officially unemployed, though more like 17% or 18% are really out of work or underemployed. Not only does the public need a tax break now, but business owners need it immediately to spur employment. We can explore policy and should, but history tells us that Government spending doesn't stimulate hiring, only the private sector can do this. The private sector is responsible of 2/3 or 3/4 of the jobs in the U.S. Economy, and Entrepreneurs make up most of the wealthy citizens of the U.S.

So, Obama's administration is planning to tax the rich and tax the business owners to pay for everything... aren't these the same people? If we tax the wealthy individuals that own businesses, will they just suffer the personal losses? Isn't it more likely they will take additional money from their businesses? Now, if we tax the businesses won't they have less money in their pockets to grow, expand, and most importantly HIRE more people? It seems to me that this practice will further damage the economy and further increase or maintain high levels of unemployment.

So, what needs to happen? Well, clearly we need to reign in spending immediately. Next, we need to put a hold on Health Care Reform until we have a version CERTAIN to reduce long term costs (which may not be possible if we have to cover 30 million plus uninsured). We also need to demand that Congress and the Administration address these dire issues now. Each year that goes by we will add something like $200,000,000,000 in interest on this deficit with the lowest interest rates of all time!

What do you think we should do? As public citizens, what can we do? Does this concern you too?

Worried Citizen,
Collin Hedegard

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What does 'Health Care Reform' mean to you?

The most pressing and current issue faces today's U.S. Congress is the Health Care Reform legislation bouncing around Capitol Hill. Without a doubt health care within the U.S. is both politically charged and hits home with every household and person. But why is it such a hot button? If everyone shares the opinion that no person should suffer needlessly, why the fuss? Maybe there is some truth behind every argument for and against reforming this complex system.

For many, it comes down to paying for those that cannot. There's no denying the fact that it will cost real money to cover 30 or 45 million uninsured persons. There's also no denying that those who are currently paying taxes or insurance premiums will be covering those expenses. Keep in mind, the government doesn't pay for anything with it's own money. Every dollar the government has it has collected from an individual or business by way of taxation. That's the only source of revenue the gov. has. The number of supporters for handling this 'moral' issue drop when they are asked if they are willing to pay an extra $1800 per year in taxes and premiums.

This particular issue goes a bit deeper than that. Some folks feel there's no real problem with getting medical care, regardless of whether or not a person is insured. How can this be? Well, here in the U.S. any person needing medical care can walk right in to any hospital emergency room and they will be treated. Of course, this isn't the preferred way to heal the sick - neither doctors nor patients like this. But, the bottom line is that uninsured persons will be treated this way. So, what's the problem then? Well, two questions come to mind. Should the uninsured have access to doctors before they have an emergency or need an ER? Of course they should, and ultimately it is the credit report of such persons that will suffer (they will get the treatment, be given a bill, not pay the bill, and thus collection efforts are made to recover the hospital's expenses for treatment). The second question is this, wouldn't all our medical expenses come down if hospitals and doctors didn't have to pass these costs on to us? Absolutely! It wouldn't surprise me to know hospitals build in 150% (or more) pricing because only 1 out of 3 persons will pay them. Whether uninsured persons get treatment, paying customers already cover their bill indirectly.

Beyond paying for the uninsured, we have yet another serious issue to address. Costs for all health care is on the rise, and rising faster than wages. Clearly we cannot allow this to happen. Will the current system and insurance marketplace solve this issue? I feel that the trend toward HSA/High Deductible strategy is bringing some hope to the small business market. Combine that new concept with some consumer education on price control and we might make headway, but it will take some time for the market to correct itself.

Who else feels like we need some honest and transparent presentation of legislation? We all know it's not as good as the Democrats say and not as bad as the Republicans claim. What should we believe? I want to know the year over year cost of this huge bill once it's fully implemented and running! I also want to know who is still left out and why! Most importantly, I want to know how it will address the long term cost control. If it can't guarantee that, there's no reason to consider it at all. The politicizing of it is a real shame. The right is obstructive and negative, but I'm sure they have some good ideas that are being ignored by Reid and Palosi. The left is upset and saying "Party of 'no'", but they have forgotten that is precisely the job of the minority party in Congress. Additionally, the left should understand that 'Bipartisan' means input from both parties, not merely Republican votes for their legislation. What happened to the transparancy and "Everyone in the room with CNN in the corner"?

This is a great discussion! There are both moral and system issues at hand, and all of us are connected to the health care system. Personally, I don't feel like rushing a solution is right on any level. These issues are so complex, they require lots of ideas, dialogue, and debate. Surely we can come up with an efficient solution for the moral issue of extending care to the uninsured, right? What about urgently dealing with that and beginning to lay the groundwork for debating the long term control of costs to us all? That's my take, what's yours?

Collin Hedegard

Calling All Independent Voters!!!

Independent thinkers need a place to observe fair and objective dialogue. MSNBC is selectively reporting the 'left' side of things while Fox has planted their flag right of center. Even fundamental reporting of the news has become an exercise in support of one perspective or another. For these reasons this forum exists, providing an opportunity for free spirited but friendly and civil debate.

Please submit questions via email, twitter, or blog submission. I'll be posting some questions to kick things off, but your feedback and following will be needed, so please join me in challenging the public and our elected officials. We need good answers and solutions to a number of serious political issues and we need them now!

To hold a consistent format, some simple ground rules need to be laid out:

1. Please submit a question of your own or submit an answer to a posted question. Answering your own question is fine, even encouraged. Readers will appreciate the chance to review different responses and ideas for one topic.

2. Refrain from personal attacks and demeaning comments about other submissions, as it will not be tolerated. The U.S. is unique and truly great because we all have the opportunity to share our opinion freely. Submissions with such attacks or behavior will be removed and participants will be blocked from further participation.

3. Topics for this forum include politics, social issues, government, and economics. Submissions of other topics will be removed at the discretion of the author.

That's enough rules, some would even argue too many! So, let's begin the conversation and ask some serious questions. Remember, it's the people who govern this nation. Politicians are accountable to us, but we need to understand what is going on. What better way than by asking 'Good Questions'?

Enjoy the Blog! I'm looking forward to hearing your 'take'!

Collin Hedegard, Author