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Monday, December 19, 2011

Too Much Government?

The All American Debate

Yesterday, I watched an informative debate between Paul Ryan, Barney Frank, George Will and Robert Reich. ABC News' "This Week with Christiane Amanpour" and the Miller Center at the University of Virginia are partnering for "The Great American Debates," a series of debates on the key issues of the 2012 presidential campaign. This is going to be a series of events, which will last six weeks. Yesterday's debate was about “Too Much Government" and the panel consisted of two liberals and two conservatives and none on the panel and could be considered a moderate. I think this type of programming is great, but we will have to see in how well it does. I apologize for sounding like a skeptic, but I don't think the American public wants to be informed. They just want to stay in their ideological corners.

Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin led off the discussion by saying that conservatives want smaller government, less regulation, less taxation allowing entrepreneurs to succeed in contrast to the Democrats who want more government in our lives. Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts disputed the assertion. He said that we all want smaller government but what is too small or too large. This went on back and forth until President Clinton's former labor Secretary, Robert Reich, said that both parties want effective government, the size can be debated. If the government is too large, then corruption and incompetence will likely follow. If the government is too small, regulations will be ignored, and corruption and incidents will be widespread. Barney Frank brought out the old adage” conservatives want government out of the boardroom but into the bedroom" to which Paul Ryan answered" We just want to retain American values." Barney Frank is a brilliant, comical man with a short temper. He practically dominated the debate. He became a star in the Clinton impeachment hearings. Mr. Frank asked George Will why he was against decriminalizing marijuana. George Will said that he was still studying the consequences of decriminalization. Barney Frank replied “This issue has been out there for decades; you're 65 years old; what's taking you so long?"

The role of government is a favorite subject of mine because I saw the same conservatives' rail against health care, yet that's the first thing that we set up when we go overseas to occupy a country. The liberals who railed against President George W. Bush for his unconstitutional practices of circumventing our civil liberties are allowing this president to do the same when they allowed Congress to pass a law saying that the president of United States can declare a United States citizens an enemy combatant and sentence them to lifetime confinement without a trial. The leaders conveniently attached the amendment to the defense appropriation bill. What legislator would want to be in a political ad for being against funding for the troops? Senator Chris Coons of Delaware said that another amendment could be taken up later, extracting the words that allow the president so much power. We've all heard that before. It's like a temporary sales tax that never goes away. I'm all for increasing the safety of American citizens but not at the risk of taking away Americans civil liberties. For example, if I donated some funds to a nonprofit group which in turn funded a terrorist group; I would be in jeopardy of spending the rest of my life in Guantanamo Bay. Is that farfetched?

I think that we know what the free market will do if it goes unfettered, and it's going to take a decade or so to develop the trust in government it once had. I don't believe anyone thinks welfare is supposed to be a way of life but unfortunately for some, it will be. I don't want to wage war against the wealthy, but I do want them to step up and pay their fair share in proportion to their taxable income. In the words of Elizabeth Warren,(D-MA) "we are proud of the wealthy corporations, but they should also step up and pay a little more for the roads the taxpayer builds, repairs and the public education that the taxpayer provides their employees." Is at a liberal position or is it a position of fairness?

We have an enormous debt and deficit so it is obvious our government is too big, but now we have a debate on picking what goes and what remains. The counterarguments are usually opinions without sufficient data to back up their claims.

What's the solution? I don't really know, but I think I know a good starting place. I think that we need to take away all party labels at the local level. It doesn't matter if a Republican or Democrat sees to it that ditches and roads are maintained. In a city, this size the ideologues have already summed up their candidates ,as to whether they are conservative or liberal, but we don't have to contaminate the rest of the voting pool. It doesn't matter how one feels on abortion at the local level or that some think only conservative Republicans know how to take care the purse strings. That could be interpreted several ways, one being they would give up progress for a $1.25 cut in their property tax. Yes, we want prudent individuals but that comes from within ,not party ideology. Let’s leave partisan politics at the national level, because if we control it at the local and state level, it might become less polarized by the time they get to Washington.Come on now,if this political junkie (25 hours of political shows a week) thinks we are getting too political;it's time to do something....:-)

A little off topic but the lack of traffic at Vic Ad worries me because it's the place where I became interested in on- line journal discussions. A poster said many have turned to Facebook; I tend to agree but I'm not a member, so that’s just a guess. The people at VA say that this is a seasonal lull, perhaps, but I can't remember it lasting so long. There has only been seven comments since 7:00AM and it's now 2:45PM If this trend continues I believe the remaining old timers will not come back because there is no one to discuss a subject with....That leaves me with some options that I may not like because I don't know how lively the discussions can be on Facebook ,even thou my whole family loves Facebook and they have assured me that I won't be disappointed. Personal blogs are easier and because I don't have to take the extra step to make sure that my words are not misconstrued. I've heard that person information can go viral in a matter of seconds.I don't want that.


Mike said...

Don't know for sure but it looks like VA is trying to clean up the personal attacks.

Edith Ann said...

You would not be happy on Facebook. At least I don't think you would be.

For me, on FB stuff is much more ever changing, where here and on the VA, stuff can sit for a few days and is not covered over by 3000 comments and event and activites of our friends.

I think you need to just keep doing what you're doing. This may be something that passes. Hey! We aren't even sure when the primary will be! I know they habve tossed out a date, but, you know...

Hang in--hopefully it will get better.

Mike said...

That makes a lot of sence.

Did you see Michelle Bachmann on MTP Sunday?...Poor David Gregory couldn't get past her refusual to answer questions she diidn't like..At one time they were talking at the same time.

Gingrich has already lost his frontrunner status to Romney.

I just heard if Ron Paul wins Iowa ;the full force of GOP establish will be unleashed on him by Fox,Rove,ads, and Koch Bros. money...It's going to be a barn burner ; buy plenty popcorn.

Edith Ann said...

I did, and then in the middle of the night, when I was awake...grrr...I watched it again!

I guess I need to stock up on popcorn at Costco!

Do you think Christine O'Donnell's endorsement of Romney will hurt? Has everyone forgotten her witchy stuff? I mean, a Mormon and a witch...

Mike said...

Good point EA but O'Donnell was a one day story because most considered the source. Sarah Palin wanted a little attention by saying it's not too late for her or anyone to run for president..Yes/no It's way past the filing date ,so she cannot run as a Republican but she can as an Independent but who would nominate her?..If the GOP has a brokered convention,they might have a new candidate but she is way down the list..If they did that it would be someone like Jeb Bush.

Edith Ann said...

I have heard Jeb Bush being punted around in four years...

Mike said...

Jeb Bush bypassing the 2012 election is the conventional wisdom ;I believe Mitt Romney will win the necessary delegates to win the nomination,so a brokered convention won't be necessary. I will lay out the GOP's fears in my next post.

Mike said...

Despite a terrible economy, the GOP establishment thinks that only Mitt Romney( even though they don't like him or trust him) has a chance to beat President Obama....Don't get me wrong the Democrats really want to win but the republicans need to win.

It's a good chance that the economy will improve by 2014, and if the healthcare gets by the Supreme Court, all the troops will be out of Afghanistan, and things get back to normal; the next democratic nominee like a Governor Cuomo of New York, will stand a good chance against the best republicans throw at them.

If the republican candidate fails against Obama; it will throw the Republican Party into a tailspin ; tea party vs. establishment.

President Obama would most likely have presidential coattails helping regain the house and maintaining the senate.

It's now or never for them.

Mike said...

The Tea Party folks are bringing down the GOP but let's make that our secret until after the election..:-)

All the squabbling over a tax cut both parties want, elevated Obama by 3 points,he's up to 49% if he gets to 51% and maintains it;it's all over for GOP.

Washington Post/ABC poll and CNN poll

a. Handling the economy — Obama 44%, Republicans 40%.
b. Creating jobs — Obama 44%, Republicans 41%.
c. Protecting the middle class — Obama 50%, Republicans 35%.
d. Handling taxes — Obama 46%, Republicans 41%.

Go Tea Party....

BIGJ said...

Since I am the "Nigga with a attitude" (Bighorn's words not mine), I'll say this Facebook despite its new and terrible format is good place to debate and put one's opinions out there. It is better than the VICAD, which allows 50,60 year old punks to hide. I used it to fight hate talk show hosts Joe Pags and that bigot Michael Berry on there. I wish I could meet these sorry Sons of [insert the word] in person.

As far as government is concern, I think that problem is the role of government. Congress has no business to force people buy insurance or doctors to perform sonograms. The Federal Government shouldn’t pay for a park event either or use tax dollars for abortions in Latin America.

Mike said...


As I have said many times, I don't involve myself in online squabbles because then I become part of the problem. I'll be accused of aligning myself with another poster which would be OK if I knew all the details but I'm not interested. I find those words reprehensible and leave it at that, for now.

Why would I set up an account to fight with others? I will not understand how someone can relish in the " politics of personal destruction" arguments and then want to go beat up a person because of something they wrote. To each their own.

I prefer the VA because I can write my blogs and and avoid the trolls. I don't understand what you mean when you say " allows 50,60 year old punks to hide." I'm 66 years old and I certainly don't hide but I'm not on the VA to provoke or threaten people that disagree with me. Ignoring the trolls has worked for me but you have your old style which I assume you think works for you.

The" individual mandate" won't be enforced until the year 2014 but it will get a supreme court hearing as to the constitutional aspect of it. I've heard the legal arguments from both sides and I am willing to abide by the views of the court. I think it's a great argument as to what fits into the " general welfare clause" of the constitution.

I'm not sure what you mean about the Federal government paying for any specific park event. If what you mean by" use tax dollars for abortions in Latin America" but there is no specific mandate for the funds forbidding the practice, then you're right..I Think. The Bush Administration submitted " abstinence language" into their foreign aid policies. The Obama Administration took those words out.

Mike said...

It's basically the same battle as it was in 2007 because the opponents were anti-Obama and we never heard praise for John McCain from them. This year they tried to make a little noise when they thought that Donald Trump or Herman Cain would oppose Obama. The only ones at the VA on the republican side are the Ron Paulinistas but there are not really republicans, they are libertarians. Ron Paul won't last that long but the Obama haters will stay...They have one agenda.

It's going to be a defensive struggle because they can't get excited about the eventual winner Mitt Romney. It's always going to be about the latest tidbit they get from the right wing blogosphere. I'm not going to take part in the day-to-day nonsense but I'll try to keep the facts straight.

I know you like to meet thuggish tactics with some of your own and you wish the president would follow suit. You only have to look recent polls to see where the American people are waking up and they see Obama being above the fray. I've heard pundits and the conservative Wall Street Journal say that the actions by the tea party and the presidential candidates are elevating the status of President Obama. People seem to forget that not everyone align with the Democrats or the Republicans.

Mike said...

OK,I'm blogged out until after the holidays but I'm still willing to discuss anything or allow the readers to open up a discussion.

OPEN THREAD until further notice
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All.

Sugar Magnolia said...

Just wanted to wish you and yours a wonderful and blessed Christmas, Mike, and thanks for offering us a blog that is informative and open to discussion, free of trolls on Google. Glad you are blogging on Google now as well as VicAd. Each has their own audience, and I think each is a viable outlet for us bloggers. Great to have you here.

Mike said...

Thank you very much,Sugar Magnolia, and I wish the same Merry Christmas to you and your family.

I hope you continue to blog because I have learned a lot from you through out the years.

Mike said...

Tidbits here and there

1. Kudos to the local man who gave his brother one of his kidneys, to the person who put $25,000 in Salvation Army kettle and to those mysterious people paying off layaway accounts at Kmart and Wal-Mart in the spirit of Christmas.
2. After all the negativity toward our postal carriers; at least they're not like that Federal Express carrier who threw the flat screen TV over the fence even though the recipient of that package was home.
3. Lessons learned: Ron Paul should have cleared up the decade’s old charges of newsletters attributed to him, that that were racial and inflammatory. He should have remained on the set of CNN and explained how those reports got out while he was out of politics and tending to his duties as a physician. Ron Paul has flown under the radar because no one expected him to achieve frontrunner status. That status brings intense scrutiny.
4. When will they learn? Last week Newt Gingrich said he had the nomination wrapped up and this week Ron Paul said the same.
5. It's Christmas, put aside the cheap shot swords for a little while. I remember the Vietnam War where both sides observed a truce until after the holidays.
6. Please, Sarah Palin and Fox News look back and Ronald Reagan's Christmas card(a picture of outside the WH) before you jump on the Obama's Christmas card because it features the Obama's dog (BO) laying in front of the fireplace.It's the thought.
7. A lump of coal to the young dad from Chicago who bounded his 22 month old daughter with tape and posted it on Facebook. He was correctly charged with aggravated domestic battery, denied his visitation privileges, and cannot go on the internet.
8. Who Cares? Alec Baldwin drops his idea of running for the mayor of NY.
9&10: Who said I needed a 9 & 10?...:-)

Mike said...

I'm sorry Ron Paul but if you are running for president;you can't run away from the questions.
It's not going away,I seen coverage of this for two days now.

"In addition to the objectionable content of the newsletters, his odd explanation contrasts heavily with his hard-earned brand as an unconventional anti-politician who always tells the truth as he sees it and never waters down his views to pander to voters. It’s hard to square this with a candidate who claims that he somehow never bothered to read a newsletter published under his own name that generated as much as $1 million in revenues in just one single year. Even accepting that premise, how many politicians looking to start a publication would just happen to pick a half dozen writers with blatant white supremacist and milita leanings to run the effort?"

Mike said...

Am I missing something here? I can understand the constant complaining by the local Ron Paulistas but I don't see the problem with the current $175,000 expenditure for the restroom addition to the 128 acre Community park development project. It's part of a one million dollar matching grant with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Sooner or later Victoria's matching funds will be spent.

I can see the argument for using local vendors and contractors but our Parks and Recreation Director,Doug Cocran said that this was the most cost effective way to do this. Do we have a contractor who can dispute that? Is there a dispute with the local government purchasing cooperative BuyBoard?

I don't disagree with Councilman David Hagan who said ""Times are pretty murky ahead, We don't know what next year is going to look like" but is that an opinion or the current financial position of the city?

Some of the comments are just recycled gloom and doom predictions with no knowledge of the actual facts. I would like to know if we could back out of the matching funds agreement, do we have a specific date we have to meet, and are these funds earmarked?

Mike said...

It's about time...John Boehner lsot another one because he just caved and the 160,000 million Americans will get their modest tax cut..This was expected from the get go but it just goes to show how weak of a leader he is...A good guy but a weak leader.

Edith Ann said...

Re: the restrooms--

1. The job wasn't bid out. We don't know if a local can compete price-wise. A local company was good enough to build two high schools; they can't build a six seat restroom?

2. I am pretty sure you cannot believe everything you are told at a City Council meeting.

3. Did you read my blog? It's not about developing the park, and yes, it is a matching grant thing. The problem is spending over $29,000 per stall for the restroom! What are we making this restroom out of? Italian marble with gilded faucets?

I don't care who you are--this is outrageous! Unless and until our city leaders start shopping for the best buy, there will not be any money to spend! Good Lord! Just because it is there does not mean they must spend it all in one place! At this rate, there never will be money for infrastructure. But maybe it is okay to sacrifice water, sewer and streets to have a showplace restroom?

Please tell me, Oh Mike whom I consider sane and reasonable, that I misread your comment...

Mike said...

I'm pretty confident that my sane and reasonableness does not hinge on what I think about the park project.

I don't have an agenda against local government (as you well know) so I'm just an objective observer that relies on newspaper reports. I stated that competitive bids were not submitted but I also read what Mr. Cochran said ""We didn't go out for bids. This was a BuyBoard bid," said Doug Cochran, parks and recreation director. "The engineer went through a process of comparing companies and got with an architect here in town and looked at the costs of having a construction company build this. This was the most cost effective way to do this." I'm going to have to take his word until I hear a reliable contradictory version of the facts.

As I have said many times I don't believe in elementary accounting such as dividing the total cost of the current project by six. I have to see what's included because I'm sure it's not going to be a porta- potty or what we have at Riverside. I want something that will stand at least a 30 year test, who knows perhaps some warranties are thrown into the deal. The project is supposed to be completed by May 2012, so this is the appropriate time to spend the necessary funds to get matching amounts. The article stated that the amount allocated to the restrooms was within budget. A BUDGET is sum of money allocated for a particular purpose, so maintenance and other infrastructure projects shouldn’t be hindered since their funds have already been allocated. That's the way it usually works. The cost does sound extravagant but I'm not sure if it's going to be six individual stalls scattered over the 128 acres and built like the ones we have at the state Parks, or if all being built at one central location.

When you have time, go back and read Holein1's post which I agree with. People like Jeff Williams like to crunch numbers in the negative and then complain about every dime the city spends and everything in general. I like to think that the City Council relies on the numbers crunched by the city controller's rather than amateurs'. It's like the iPads, I want a City Council with a vision not bent on frugality so much, that they don't give any weight to planning for the future. I have the same complaint with the Federal government.

I respect you enough to answer your question in much greater detail; even though I thought that my post was self explanatory. I'm never going to question your sanity reasonableness because you don't agree with me. I'll readily admit I don't have all the answers and as always, I will need as much detail as possible before I take a stand. I’m not always right. I’m not in the construction business, I don’t know how much money the city has on hand, and I certainly don’t know the going rate for restrooms but in fairness a lot of the cost of the entire project will be offset by grant money.

Merry Christmas to you in your family, stay safe and even if we don't agree on everything, don't ever let it get in the way of a civil discussion.

Edith Ann said...

I thank you for your reply. Bear with me while I beat this one more time, and then in the spirit of Christmas and generosity, I'll go over to the bank and finish my Christmas shopping since everyone wants cash.

If the city is not going to bid these project, we can pretty much expect we are not going to get the best deal. I really think we have a city protocol that requires bidding out stuff over a certain amount (like $20,000).

I included a link to the place in Reno in my blog, and what they build is a cinder block building on a cement slab, much like you see around the town now. One building is what we're buying. Kreuger ot K&T could build this?

Matching funds or not, when was it decided that we no longer had to be good stewards of our money? I realize restrooms were included in the budget, but I bet they didn't say, "Hey, let's see just how much we can spend and how little we get for it."

And just because Doug Cochran said a couple of dudes nodded in the right direction makes this a sound decision? Hardly! And why do we constantly have to have outside folks look at what we're doing? If these department heads can't make some of these decisions, then why are they still employed?

The whole city system is just screwed up.

Alrighty, I'm done.

Have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy your holiday with your family!

Legion said...

Well, seeing as how the new restroom, if it was on the tax role, would be appraised and taxed at $175,000 it does seem excessive.

Our house is appraised at $149,000 in the same area of town.

So a six stall city built crapper is worth more than a 4 bdr, 2 full bathroom house... with a kitchen,dining area and a living room thrown in?

OF course our house is only on .5 of a acre, appraised at $24,000 itself, but Damn... that is a high dollar set of toilets and sinks the city plans to build.