Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I approved this message - Final message

Ok, I've outlined the various parts of my platform (if I were truly running for president), now it's time for me to endorse one of the actual candidates. At this point, there are basically only three candidates left in the race (Clinton, McCain and Obama).

This will also (hopefully) be my last post about politics for a while, I really don't like talking about it. Only when I get fired up about an event or feel the need to think "out loud" like I've been doing in this thread. Please feel free to go back and comment on any specific entries or on this entry if you have opinions that you wish to share with me.

If you read my platform planks my choice should be pretty obvious. I've said that the number one priority of the new president should be on National Defense, in particular, the Global War on Terror. I also believe we have an obligation to finish the job we started in Iraq. That's whether you believe we should have gone in there or not. This is followed closely by my focus on foreign affairs. I outlined which countries we should work with and which ones we should work on.

This tied closely to the third item on my list: isolationism, a policy I'm firmly against. I take this a step further and believe we must, from time to time, flex our muscle in the matters of other nations.

My fourth priority is the economy. Then there's the issue of healthcare, before I go into everything else that's left. I fully confess to not having all the solutions, but since I outlined priorities, the first three items get most of the attention.

Most of the republican candidates could have gotten my vote. Duncan Hunter kinda scared me with his too-strong opinion on defense. Ron Paul seems to advocate isolationism. I admit I haven't paid much attention to either of them. Mitt Romney's religion doesn't bother me and while I haven't paid much attention to Mike Huckaby, from what I know he could do the job well.

I only know a little about three of the Democratic contenders: Edwards is out of the race and it's non-too-early. His anti-big-business ideas stem from being a trial lawyer and I think he could really mess up the economy. I've never had the opinion he understood anything else at all. I have to give Obama credit for documenting his ideas. I've visited his website and I've read some of his plans for America. He honestly scares me with his ideas of sitting down with leaders of nefarious countries. He also will get us out of Iraq too quickly and cause a bigger mess than we started with.

Clinton scares me the least of the Democrats. She's intelligent enough to know that you have to compromise and even the "vast right-wing conspiracy" can make her see the light, given enough time. I do think she could enact enough well-thought-out-but-dangerous policies in the first 100 days to cause a lot of problems.

Based on all of this, my vote this fall will be going to McCain.

I should note that this is the first time in my life where I formally said who I was voting for. I typically keep my vote secret, even from family members. Hopefully, I won't regret this departure from the norm.

I'm Randy Barnett and I approved this message.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Youth at church

Please pray for the youth at our church. One of the members of the youth was killed in a pedestrian vs. auto accident last night and it is going to hit the group very hard. The young man involved was my son's best friend. He's made some bad decisions lately, but has been trying to put his life back together. As my son said, "he wasn't even doing anything wrong."

I have met this young man several times and he definitely was a good kid with a lot of potential. Only God knows his heart, but I think he was a Christian. Yes, he let some bad influences into his life, I do too (it's called sin). But he was very polite and really seemed to care about people. He had a tremendous impact on a lot of other youth.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Universal HealtCare - I approved this message part 4.5

I've numbered this message part 4.5 because it comes somewhere between part 4 (the economy) and part 5 (education, abortion, global warming and carbon credits). My regular readers will remember that I'm outlining the policies I would follow if I were elected president. I should point out that not all presidential candidates do this. To my knowledge, only one of the current candidates has done this. Barack Obama has a book that describes his ideas. He also has extensive information on his website. He's accused of giving on lofty ideas in his campaign speeches. It's hard to tell from the sound bites if that's true, but I don't fault him for that. I think he's giving the public what they want, and doing a very good job of it.

Sen. Clinton has also written a book, and I presume it says something about what she would do as president. I don't think McCain has a book and I haven't checked either website.

But back to my platform, and this time it's on healthcare. Originally, I had grouped this in item #5 because I simply didn't think it needed much attention. However, more thought has led me to flip-flops, or at least partially. Let me explain some basic facts.

I know of 2 or 3 situations where someone has gone to the hospital without medical coverage. In one case, bills totaled over $200,00, probably closer to $500,00 when all was complete. In another situation, the person could have gone to a doctor or a doc-in-a-box, but instead went to the ER. They left without paying and count on the state tax refund to pay the bill (the hospital can garnish the state refund). Currently, a hospital must treat someone who can't afford it, and the state pays it. If they can get the money back later, they will try, otherwise the taxpayer foots the bill.

For those of marginal income, but who try to pay their bills, medical care can wipe out their chances for advancement. Costs are out of hand. I had back surgery two years ago, it cost over $20,000 for one night in the hospital. I didn't even see the doctor after the surgery before discharge.

Normally, I'd say this isn't a federal problem, but the states can't handle it and private industry has no incentive. The system has come to the point where we can do more medical care than we can afford. As the baby boom generation ages, this will only get worse.

To begin with, I firmly believe additional competition is required. Ratings for insurance, hospitals and doctors should be established so that the patient can determine the best choices. Rather than create a new agency, the AMA should govern the doctors and hospitals. There is no comparable agency or group for insurance, one will (reluctantly) have to be created.

Insurance should be just that, insurance. Elective surgery or anticpated hospital requirements should not be covered. (Take a deep breath here). That means normal pregnancies should not be covered. Instead families should pay for their own delivery. This will have to be phased in over time as the current cost is way to high. I would appoint a team of doctors and insurance-minded people to determine how to implement this (that means I have no idea).

Something has to be done to reign in the cost of medicines. I am a big believer in profits and I understand the amount of research that goes into creating a new medicine, but the number of medical sales people and the perks they give out goes way too far.

Obviously, I'm short on details. But let me explain some problems I see with other plans. Many focus on the "big business" as the evil, I instead embrace big business. Many would give everyone equal access, I would focus on individual responsibility. If I as a consumer want to purchase additional insurance, or purchas something that will give me better access to health care, I think that should be allowed. The idea that everyone gets the same access is socialist.

We conseervatives have long been seen as being uncaring. I don't want to be that way. I don't know of any real solution to this problem and I've put it low on my priority lst, but I intentionally didn't put it last.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cell phones at school

I just got back from picking up my son's cell phone from school. Seems he was using it yesterday during class.

This school's policy is actually quite reasonable, if a little liberal. They allow cell phones on campus (after Columbine and 9/11 most schools do) but prohibit their use during the school day (presumably they would make exceptions during exceptional times).

If a teacher/administrator sees it out (my son's was vibrating inside his notes binder), it is confiscated and given to the front office. A parent can pick it up the next day. Second offense calls for it to be held for 30 days, third offense is 60 days, fourth is 90 days and fifth offense is until the end of school.

My punishment is harsher, no cell phone for undetermined amount of time (probably a couple weeks for this incident), then no cell phone at school for the rest of the year. He's also grounded for poor grades, so the actual punishment will be harsher.

The real key here is on preventing a reoccurrence of the "crime". The goal is to teach him that he shouldn't be texting while in class.

Monday, February 18, 2008

One Soldier's Story

This was related to me this past weekend by the soldier's uncle. I'm changing the name of the soldier to John. I don't think he would have wanted people to know his real name.

John grew up the son of a soldier. Not just any soldier, a Ranger. These guys are the toughest of the tough. Always assigned tough jobs. And always willing to go in. On Sept 11, 2001, John's father was working for the Pentagon. He wasn't at the Pentagon that day, but he could have been. John saw what happend and announced his intent to join the Army. He wanted to be a Ranger.

Only problem, John was still in high school. His parents told him to finish school, then they talked him in to one year of college. If he finished that year and still wanted to join up, they would agree.

During his first year of college, John did exceptionally well. But he didn't spend time studying. At the end of the school year, he took a summer job, but when summer was over, he decided to enlist. His parents supported him. He went to boot camp and excelled in everything. Then artillery school, then jump school. Again excelling at everything. After that, he went to Ranger school. The fall-out rate in Ranger school is high. There are always more candidates than there is room. But John excelled, and easily made it into Ranger school.

He did a tour of Iraq and came back. His uncle (who told me this story) took him to the airport when it was time to go back. John told his uncle, "You know I'm getting them over there so we don't have to get them over here, right?"

What a testimony to his country. John didn't make it back alive from that tour. He's now at Arlington Memorial Cemetery.

One soldier's story.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Gun control and the patriot act

While listening to reports on the recent school shooting, it struck me that many people, on both sides, hold conflicting views on gun control and the patriot act.

For example, I favor the patriot act and most of the "add-ons" that follow the patriot act (e.g FISA). These limit rights by regular citizens such as myself, but I support it in the interest of national defense and because I think the limitations are reasonable.

On the contrary, I am against (generally) gun control. I don't see the value in it, and I think it unneccessarily limits a freedom guaranteed in the constitution. I worry about a government that restricts this freedom - is "big brother" out there?

I'm not trying to justify either position here, I'm just acknowledging the seeming contradiction. But as I thought about this, I thought about my less-conservative friends. Many would hold opposite views on both of these subjects, but still be seemingly contradicting.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Juniper and Lamplight

Listening to an old Simon and Garfunkel tape (you remember those?) I heard the phrase "We walked on frosted fields of juniper and lamplight."

Now I know what juniper is, it's an evergreen. In my mind, all evergreens are pines or cedars. Juiper is a cedar. But what is lamplight? Is it a flower? I can't find it and google is no help.

There's also a phrase "Pressed in organdy; Clothed in crinoline of smoky Burgundy."
I had to look for "organdy" and "crinoline". Impressive. (look for it yourself)

I've heard the song many times before, but never looked for the words. Now I'm even more impressed. What a neat song. Those guys could write some good love songs. Not too sappy. But deep. Oh the song title is "For Emily, whenever I may find her".

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Senate hearing on Steroids and HGH

A few days ago, I posted an entry about the Russians flying bombers over our naval vessels. Even with that going on, the Senate is concerned more about Roger Clemmens, steroids and HGH.

I think the Senate has misplaced it's priorities.... When election time comes, we should misplace our votes.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I approved this message - Part 5 (Final?)

I'm almost finished explaining the platform I would follow if elected president. This is the last planned message and is intended to address healthcare, education and abortion, global warming, carbon credits. Previous mssages addressed 1) National Defense, 2) Foreign affairs, 2b)
Immigration, 3) Isolationism and 4) the national economy.

I grouped together the topics of healthcare, education, abortion, global warming and carbon credits because, frankly I don't believe these issues deserve a lot of discussion. I put the topics listed above in order of priority and these other issues just don't measure up. I have changed my mind somewhat on healthcare, I'm going to put that as topic 4.5 (bewteen 4 & 5) and come back to that after this discussion.

However, many people want to know the presidential candidates' opinions on these topics, so
this entry will discuss my views on education, abortion, global warming and carbon credits.

Education. I'm for it. I think education is important for the success of every individual and for our country. For the record, I have an MBA, my wife has a Master's of Ed. She's a school teacher. My sister is a guidance counselor. I may be biased (so sue me). I think education is important, but I don't think it's a federal issue. No where in the Constitution, which the President is sworn to uphold, is education mentioned. I think education should be left to the states with minimal federal intervention.

I also think education is overblown. We tell people "you have to have an education" then charge them $50,000 or more for 4 years of college and don't give them a way to pay it back. Every school that offers a for-fee education should be forced to show a good-faith estimate of how long it will take to pay back the education. If the education is for fun (I plan to take some of those courses), that's ok, you just should know that taking oboe lessons will never make you more money. Of course, since the federal government will be out of education, there will be no federal mandates on this.

Abortion. I'm against it. I will be glad to change to pro-choice, once we figure out how to give the baby a choice. (this next part will probably offend some of my conservative friends). I will not make abortion a litmus test for choosing judges, cabinet members or friends. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I have purposely put this issue as #5 (and last) in my priority list. Frankly, the president has better things to do.

Global warming. I think it's a farce. I'd appoint Al Gore amabassador in charge of sewers.

Carbon credits. What a laugh. I need to find the companies issuing the credits and buy stock in them.

Don't get me wrong, I am an enviromentalist. God gave us this world and told us to take care of it. Frankly, we've done a lousy job. Someday (soon I hope), He's going to come in here and fire us. We should do all that we can to conserve natural resources. We should strive to be stewards of what He gave to us. But let's also remember that He gave it to us and told us to dominate.

Well, I'm sure to lose some votes over this post and I didn't have that many to begin with, so I better quit while I'm behind.

I'm Randy Barnett and I approved this message.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Russia is still our long term greatest enemy

In my recent post on foreign relations, I identified Russia as being our (the US) greatest long term enemy.

If anyone doubts that, they should read this article titled "U.S. Navy Intercepts Russian Bombers Flying Near Ships"

This is scary. Apparently, "one Russian Tupolev 95 buzzed the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz twice, at a low altitude of about 2,000 feet, while another bomber circled about 50 nautical miles out."

Friday, February 08, 2008

It's the economy stupid (Platform building #4)

I couldn't resist that headline. For those with a weak memory, that was the mantra of those who swept Clinton-1 into office after Bush-1 led the nation in Iraq-1. When the troops all returned, the economy stumbled. Bush-1 seemed to ignore the issue and lo, the mantra.

Now with the mortgage crisis, rising credit card rates and bank fees (in the paper this week), slowing employment, etc. I'm surprised the mantra isn't gaining more ground than it did 16 years ago. As Bush-2 has taken us into Iraq-2 (which has taken much too long), the American
people have become discontent and the econonmy stands to have a lot of attention this election year.

As a part of my platform building, I too will address the economy. Notice however, that I have placed it as a fourth priority. Yes it's important, but it falls behind defense, foreign affairs and isolationism issues.

So, as a presidential candidate myself, what would I do about the economy (or more accurate, what do I think a presidential candidate should do)? I see the economy as encompassing the subjects of jobs, training, mortgages, housing, taxes and spending.

First, our economy runs on jobs. Jobs that produce something. During the recent economic boom, too many jobs were created that produced nothing. Day traders were the epitomy of the description of our boom. Also, hedge funds and the like. Not that there's anything wrong with
that, it's just that they don't produce anything. When I go to the store to buy an item, I help jobs of several people. There's the salesman in the store who convinces me htat his item is better than his competitors and helps me pick the appropriate size and style for my needs.
There may be a cashier at the store to check me out. There are several managers that also get paid based on my buying something. Then there's the guy who drove the truck to the store and deliverd the items. Back at some factory, there's the guy who made the item. And all the people
that help him.

There's also the guy who built the truck that delivered the item and the guy that built the machines that was used to make the item. Should I go on? Basically, all of these people produced something or sold something that was produced.

The lack of these type jobs has created new problems. The mortgage crisis is one such problem. People have purchased houses, done some work on them and then re-sold them. Now notice that they did some work. They did produce something (a better house). But they flipped the house
hoping to make a quick buck. One of my favorite radio personalities is Dave Ramsey and he often quotes Proverbs 28:22 which says (in my translation) "He who hastens to get rich, will not go unpunished." Many people have bought houses they can't afford, counting on the fact
they could refinance the mortgage before it adjusted. However, when houses around them lost money, they found they could no longer refinance. In many cases, these peopler were talked into the homes by unscrupulous realtors, appraisers and bankers.

How do we build an economy of jobs? Through appropriate taxation. Too many of our taxes focus on taking money from "big business". Instead, we should focus on letting "big business" do what it does best, making something. When they make something, they create jobs. People with
jobs tend to buy things. When they buy things, businesses make more things. This is a good thing.

As a part of this, we should encourage businesses to offer job training. By training their employees, business show re-investment to grow their potential business. It also shows the employee that he should not stop learning.

I have to do an aside hear about the business of education. I have a BS and an MBA degree, my wife has a BS and MA. I have two children with Master's degrees and one that will soon have a BA degree. If you count sons & daughters in law, there are 3 more BA/BS degrees. Can you tell
I think highly of education? But it should be education that PRODUCES something. There are too many "education" facilities that work hard to give you classes, but they work harder to get your money. By getting student loans for you and giving you classes that don't produce
anything, they sentence you to years of poverty paying back that student loan. I heard a lady call in to a radio show that had more than $80,000 in student loan debt to become an oboe player. She will never earn enough as an oboe player to come close to paying that back.

There's nothing wrong with education for fun or personal growth. I've taken classes like this myself. This is called a hobby. But you must be able to pay for it.

Now that I've covered jobs and training and touched on mortgages (more details on mortgages here), all that's left is a little more on housing, taxes and spending.

Housing is a good thing. Everyone should have a house. Or a condo. Or an apartment. But not everyone can afford to BUY a house. The government should help first-time buyers. (Some of my conservative friends just had a heart attack). Part of the help should be to help understand a mortgage. Understand that if you don't pay it back, you will loose. In the past, FHA helped people like this, but I'm not sure they do anymore. I would increase the responsibility of this organization and make home-owners proud to say they use FHA to help buy their home.

Taxes are a bad thing. Unfortunately, they're required. Some people are excited about the "flat tax" or the "fair tax" (which sounds like an oxymoron). I don't get excited about any kind of tax. I also think that congress has never seen a tax it didn't like. I don't think a radical change in the tax methods would help anything and would likely invite more problems. I know a CPA who used to say that he got excited every time that he heard congress talk about "tax simplification", it meant more business for him. Basically, I would work to decrease tax rates and eliminate some taxes without making radical changes.

Spending by the government is another bad thing. The government spends more than it takes in, when I've tried to do that, I've created new problems. Part of our current economic problems have been caused by government spending. Each government program should be evaluated to see if it can be cut or how much it can be cut. But not every program can be cut and some should be increased (e.g. defense). We can't spend our way to prosperity and we can't cut our way there either.

That's my overall economic view. I'd be happy to discuss this with you. Just post your comments here. I'm Randy Barnett, and I approved this message.