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Big Government’s New Slogan

“…because the American people are too stupid to understand the difference.” 


You might be thinking that I meant to write “unbelievable.”

I didn’t.

This statement from one of the chief architects of Obamacare, Jonathan Gruber, makes total sense coming from such a high-minded (yet, ironically close-minded) liberal professor at an elite university where there is diversity in everything except thought and perspective. The phrase above promoting the opposite of policy transparency in writing and selling Obamacare to the public and the Congressional Budget Office as to whether it’s a tax and a major distribution of wealth (yes on both counts) should be the front page headline of the week, except that it was said by a liberal academic, so the major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS) clearly view this as unimportant, not shocking to their own personal beliefs or, since it’s damaging to President Obama and the Democratic Party’s ramming through, lies and shocking incompetence surrounding the ACA, it can’t be reported on or mentioned. In so many ways, the strategic deceit behind the structure of this bill gives credence to the well-supported belief that corruption and purposeful deceptions come naturally with big government.

President Obama’s big government is dependent on big lies (Obamacare, IRS, Benghazi, national surveillance of private citizens, targeting of journalists, Fast and Furious, etc.).

Not only does this fit perfectly into the narrative of how President Obama views his opponents (political and private citizens alike), but it confirms a much larger presumption about the theoretical “experts” that hail from the nation’s top academic institutions and the highest levels of government. Not all of them of course, but generally speaking in today’s divisive atmosphere, yes (FYI – Gruber is a professor at MIT). Liberal academic professors and legislative bureaucrats declare themselves (ever so subtly) as the “geniuses” of society and, therefore, the people are secondary (or possibly worse, we’ll have to wait for the next video) when it comes to intelligence. While Gruber’s intellect (well, “intellect”) clearly stems from a disgustingly insulting, trash-filled and oblivious-to-reality gutter, this blog will not step down to his level. Instead, a broader and positively measured reaction will be presented.

The pompous and incompetent statement (made at least twice, according to a new video) by Professor Gruber underscores a critical distinction between conservative and liberal thinkers. Generally, liberals believe that a powerful and influential centralized government is the best aspect of American society. This is where the power and supposedly real intelligence resides. These “geniuses” are smarter than all of us, so, therefore, we need them (their assumption) to tell us how to live, think and spend. Trust (in public and private institutions) is a valuable and fragile asset and once it’s abused or when those in power insult its customers/constituents, reactions of anger, resentment and distrust towards its leaders are undeniably valid and consequential.

Trust is earned, not given.

Conversely, conservatives tend to believe that a limited government is supreme because the best aspect of American society is the people, along with the competitive, innovative-inspiring dynamic of the marketplace. Americans have always and continue to willfully support and promote the virtues of freedom, liberty and opportunity as enacted by our brave, revolutionary founders. That’s really incredible because it’s been more than two centuries and many generations of people who voluntarily support and defend democracy, freedom and liberty without the government mandating such thoughts on the public. However, if Gruber has his way, perhaps free will and free speech will soon come with its own mandate of predetermined thought as set by himself and other like-minded and likely self-proclaimed “genius” individuals.

Yes, government plays a small, critical role and has had some unmistakable victories, like the decade-long mission to land on the Moon. Remarkable. But the real genius and shining, defining characteristics of the successful American society is deeply rooted in the belief in and actions of its people. This list is literally impossible to compile. And it’s the legislative leaders (and its advisers) who realize this, believe this and proudly promote this that will inspire an inherently motivated, intelligent and savvy population that can and will rise to fix any challenge (including healthcare).

That’s the transparent truth.


The Wisdom of the Garage

Public vs. Private.

This is a fiercely debated and complex issue that has a myriad of avenues to explore and a variety of micro and macro points to consider for in-depth analysis. Today, the focus will be centered on the latest example of this classic, everlasting battle of ideology and basic societal structure.

Speaking of putting ourselves into the right mindset…

Regarding ObamaCare, the people do have a fever of frustration and the only prescription appears to be increasingly less government.

The federal government, under President Obama, has had between 2-3 years to put together a website for his signature achievement…in the 21st century…in the year 2013.

Now, healthcare is recommended to be dealt with over the phone by the government.

Can’t imagine any problems or scams there. In a related story, Nigerian princes are discovered to be very happy this week.

Aside from fact that the policy of the law is unequivocally flawed, bad, unworkable, unsustainable and unfair, let’s focus on the website. Consider that Facebook (“thefacebook” back then) was digitally built by a group of college students (granted, from Harvard) that took user’s information and compiled a personal profile for them that was capable of being viewed, updated, shared and commented on by his or her friends with seemingly no limit on activity.

It worked.


Put simply, the founders and builders of “thefacebook” had the market incentive to create the best product because of the competitive landscape in social networks. They had to be the best for survival’s sake. Therefore, the company had to recruit the best talent with the skill-set to continually innovate and improve their product for the public and, most importantly, their voluntary members. Money had to be allocated prudently and the business decisions required great intelligence and foresight.

In the private marketplace, you have to be the best or you will very likely fail and go out of business. For many, that is the bottom line and the daily reality.

Conversely, in government, there is no such marketplace. Money is provided, which is usually bloated beyond belief. Correction: The public’s/our money is provided to the government contractors and is bloated beyond belief. Even still, the transaction is done so through a maze of red tape and is absent any competitor, let alone several. The public sector is not conducive to consistently producing high quality and innovation influenced by a variety of critical market incentives, pressures and rewards.

“Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve” As reported yesterday by Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, the aforementioned statement was a weekend notice from the Department of Health and Human Services.

The obvious question: Why weren’t the best and brightest brought in in the first place?

The obvious answer: The best and brightest don’t work in the government.

Silicon Valley is the hub of technological genius in the United States and even around the world. This is one of the places where the best and brightest work. Freedom to imagine is coupled with personal responsibility and monetary limitations, which creates the atmosphere for ingenuity and potentially terrific outcomes. Contemplate how many successful start-ups and society-altering companies were born in garages (Apple, HP) and small offices just outside San Francisco.

People in a garage with nothing more than a crazy, outlandish dream and a little business savvy have established a better and a more cognitive environment than the hundreds of millions of dollars the federal government doled out for the new website that had years to be constructed.

If Apple or Google had premiered like this, there would be no Apple or Google today.

Actually, that’s not true.

Apple and Google never would have concocted, put together and premiered such an unworkable and fiscally unsustainable disaster for the public.

That’s the lesson from the best and the brightest.

Democracy’s Timeout

At midnight, while I was watching “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Brian Williams briefly interrupted the beginning of Magic Johnson’s interview with “Breaking News” that the federal government had shut down for the first time since 1995/1996.

What was my reaction? Panic? Shock? Feeling as if the end is near?

No. I gently shrugged my shoulders. Thankfully, “The Tonight Show” resumed a few moments later.

Sadly, a majority of Americans likely reacted the same way I did upon hearing the news.

First, it needs to be stated that the Tea Party went beyond its electoral mandate in their strategy and comments surrounding a government shutdown. There is a time and place for legitimate policy debate, but this was not one of those moments. As George Will has summarized previously on ABC’s “This Week,” the Republicans control one-third of government and they cannot govern the country with that ratio of power.

Without walking through the labyrinth of political strategy and calculation, it bears stating how fascinating and contrasting the means by which both parties are exercising their power on the issue of Obamacare. The Democrats are, on television and reportedly in private, refusing to even entertain Republicans’ requests to delay Obamacare for individuals for one-year like the Obama Administration did for large corporations (still not sure how that worked legally?).

In the eyes of Democrats, when a law is passed, that’s it. It’s permanent. As David Gregory posed on “Meet the Press” this past Sunday morning, “when is a law a law?” Well, according to Gregory and some of his fellow liberals, a law is a law when it’s passed by Democrats. But surely not the other way around, right? Similar to Medicare, Social Security and other entitlement programs, once that legislation becomes law, there is no need to change it. Ever.

Want proof? How many Democrats are willing to increase the age requirement or change the benefit structure to receive the aforementioned entitlements on the basis of (gasp!) solvency? There is statistical data clearly proving that men and women are living significantly longer than when those programs were first instituted decades ago. But remember, simply because it became law, it is etched in stone forever.

There is a word for this: monarchical.

Conversely, Republicans are fully willing to pull every available lever in the democracy and legislative playbook to defend their principles and policies for fiscal sanity. Are the Republicans implementing the best strategy right now? No. How can Obamacare be repealed and replaced? The Republicans need to maintain control of the House of Representatives, win control of the Senate and win back the White House. A little more political calculus should probably be exercised by those right of center.

Again though, when is a law a law?

Republicans believe a law is a law until it’s not a law. What does this mean? If a law is good for the large majority of the American people and proves to benefit the society as a whole now and into the future, then the law should remain or not be altered until it doesn’t function properly anymore (if and when that happens). However, if the law is structurally damaging and has an overwhelmingly negative effect on the American people (particularly those who are already struggling), then the law should be repealed and/or replaced.

This move does not represent any cynical motives, just efforts for better policy.

Surely, there were previous laws during past moments in history that should not have been enacted. In this case, they should have removed or replaced.

There is a word for this exercise in America: democracy.

Democracy is a messy business and is forever fluid, as confirmed by a few powerful words in the Preamble of the United States Constitution: “…in Order to form a more perfect Union…” In essence, this country will never be a finished product. Consequently, Americans will continue to work hard everyday in pursuit of making themselves and this nation the best it can be until the sun rises again tomorrow morning.

It’s a beautifully perfect premise.

Are both Democrats and Republicans overstepping their boundaries right now? Yes.

Jay Leno might have struck the exact right chord last night during his monologue:

“…Both sides are blaming each other. Republicans are pointing their fingers at Democrats, the Democrats are pointing their fingers at the Republicans and the Americans are pointing the middle finger at both of them.”

There have been political battles between conservatives and liberals and Republicans and Democrats throughout American history. It’s existed in the past and always will in the future. There are profound differences between these opposing ideologies. And yet, fortunately, there have been several key partnerships that have led this nation through some very difficult times that achieved truly great things for the people.

Still, reflect on what the message has been for the past five years or so. President Obama has publicly made it crystal clear that Republicans are the enemies and that he is unwilling to compromise on anything valuable with the relentlessly reasonable Speaker of the House John Boehner. Negotiations require give and take on both sides.

Back in 2012, President Obama famously said, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

Mr. President, if you’re experiencing gridlock in D.C. and throughout the country, just so you know, you did do that. You made that happen.

You are the president. You set the tone. And you certainly have.

Yes, the Republicans need to be more accommodating in some circumstances, but the president is the leader. The absence of genuine relationships and willingness for give-and-take with members of Congress has been detrimental for deal-making throughout this administration.

Many commentators think people are not listening to the president very much these days. On the contrary, people are and have been listening intently for the past five years or so.

On that note, congratulations are in order for President Obama. If he wanted to make it known (and he has) that half the country is forever wrong and inclined to hurt people by even disagreeing with his policies and viewpoints based on facts and proven philosophy, then, well, mission accomplished.

Last night at midnight was merely the “official” government shutdown. Most Americans have known that the government’s been shut down for much longer that just a matter of hours. Like the financial crisis in 2008, political and presidential gridlock did not begin nor will it end with President Obama. But, regarding the financial situation and gridlock, he has actively made each worse.

One thing is certain amongst everything: Jay Leno continues to joyfully appeal to a broad audience night after night and, as a result, continues to be successful as the leader in the late night comedy ratings.

Strange how that works.

A Calm Reflection Amongst Chaos

A Thought to Ponder:

Isn’t it ironic that the very institution that is asking and demanding an enormous amount of trust from us (the people) is the exact same institution that is causing an enormous amount of distrust with us (the people) with seemingly daily revelations of targeted prejudice, secrecy, lack of transparency, lack of explanation, lack of personal responsibility and overwhelming incompetence?

Perhaps the reason why “big government” needs to be so vast is so all the bad ideas have the space and opportunity to collectively introduce themselves and become best friends forever (“BFF”). Plus, it provides ample time to disappear from a crisis for seven hours or to sail on a yacht during a military coup or to go golfing in the midst of anything important.

I’d venture to say today’s federal government and its leaders make former “BFF’s” Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie look like responsible Church Choir Girls.

Even with all their hijinks, at least Paris and Nicole were candid about who they were, what they were going to do and what they did…