Misdirected Arrows

Having just seen last year all of the occupy demonstrations, my wish for the new year is that more people worldwide, and especially in the USA, will realize that the economic problems we are seeing in the world stem not from Capitalism but from Government and government intervention in what should be free markets.

While I get the beef the occupiers have, I have it too (anger at crony business for example), but so many people have their anger focused on the wrong place.  It is ignorance in the most caring sense of the word.

The occupy crowd (and the population in general) should not be upset at Capitalism or at the too easily contrived “fat cats”, they should go to the source of the problem which is Government.

Markets naturally self-regulate.  Why?  Because Buyers and Suppliers of anything have to both agree before any product or service can be bought or sold.  If one or the other cheats, lies, or otherwise doesn’t offer value they will naturally be eliminated or otherwise ignored.   The good and the bad word gets out.

The minute an outside party to the transaction gets involved and alters the relationship (screws with the free market) it is no longer a free market but a manipulated market.  Look around – do you not see Government intervention and manipulation in markets almost everywhere?  Housing, Health Care, Food, Labor, Stocks, Banking and on and on.

Look at the United States – we have a Constitution, a founding document of the nation that sets forth not what the Federal Government can do but rather what it cannot do.  This is somewhat unique to the USA and what has up until now set the USA apart from the rest of the world by levels of degrees when it comes to economic productivity.  The first job of the government is to protect your liberty, life, and property rights, and the first job of the President is to defend the Constitution.  We have a Congress that passes laws that regularly interfere  with your liberty and property rights and a current President that routinely tramples on the Constitution.

The problems we’re seeing in the USA and in many parts of the world are not stemming from Capitalism – on the contrary – its the lack of Capitalism that is pushing everything down.  When Capitalism flows freely the markets would take care of themselves.  If Government would get out of the way of interfering in markets so many of the nations economic issues would naturally resolve themselves.  Resolving economic issues leads to resolving many social issues.

Do you really need a far-away Federal bureaucrat deciding for you what you should buy, when, and for how much?  If you support this sort of a world, maybe there are a few countries for you where you could relocate, but the Constitution in the United States lays out the terms and conditions of the country.  It is clear that many people also confuse the role of the Federal government with the role of the States (ex. Dept of Education).  So many people lose their minds when you say we should get rid of the Federal Dept of Education – but think about it, what business does the government have being in the business of educating children?  That is not a role of the Federal government.  (As a side note, if you think about it again, you’ll realize why the Federal government like to have a hand in education.)

So while nobody like crony capitalism (hardly a free marketplace either), the occupy Wall Street Crowd and most Liberal Democrat voters have their arrows and frustrations pointed in the wrong place.  They should really take a clearer look at from where these problems stem and if they want to occupy something they ought to direct their energy at voting out people in the Federal government that are creating the policies.   The Federal government is the entity creating the problems then coming forth with “solutions” for the problems they create.  Enough – just vote out the wrong people and do your best to vote in the right people.  When you elect people like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Barack Obama, and the like, you get what we have now.  I’ll even throw in George W. Bush because he too abandoned free market principle as she said “to save the free market“.

So in this theme, spend 15 minutes checking out the above insightful video from Peter Schiff who went down to one of the occupy protests to see if he could have a dialogue with the people there.  You can see in the video that the crowd wants to just spout out quick slogans or blame zillionaires for making too much money, but Schiff sympathizes with them, calmly shoots straight with them, and shows them that their anger really needs to be put squarely on Washington DC and the politicians who create policies that do not let markets self regulate.  He is fair in his analysis and I hope here in 2012, in what is easily the most critical election year of your lifetime, more people everywhere understand that free Capitalism is the solution, not more Government.

Remember that at least in the USA the government governs at the consent of the governed.  How many Americans no longer consent to the current state of the Federal government and will vote out the wrong people this year?

Video from Reason.tv

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The Social Contract

There is this myth out there that Conservatives are only for “the rich” and Liberal Democrats are always fighting for the “working class”.   Even though Liberals claim to be for the poor, or as they say the “less priviledged” and the “less fortunate”, it seems to me that Liberal Democrats don’t give a damn about the poor.  If they did, they wouldn’t continue to push policies that keep people down.

The policies that Liberals have put in place – and continue to push for do nothing but keep the poor poor.  When it comes to economics, Liberal policies and ideas do absolutely nothing to help the poor because all these policies do is maintain the poor.  Liberals are extraordinarily hypocritical – If anyone is for the “rich”  and priviledge it’s Liberals – just as long as they’re one of them.  Barack Obama is a perfect example – he’ll deride fat cats all day long then go meet them for dinner to collect cash.

But something Liberals tend to bring up over and over is this concept of the “Social Contract”.  Liberals want to engage in a system where people that have earned something are somehow obliged under some nebulous “social contract” to give up a portion of their wealth to others that don’t have wealth.

Look at Elizabeth Warren talking about this.  She’s just outraged that people that have produced something of value for their fellow men have not given a hunk of their wealth to the people.

She claims that “you built a factory out there?  good for you!

But then she says she “wants to be clear” talking to the presumed factory owner:

“You moved your good to market on the roads that the “rest of us” built.”

“You hired workers the “rest of us” paid to educate.”

“You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the “rest of us” paid for.”

Then she goes on to say..

“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea, God bless…keep a big hunk of it, but part of the underlying “social contract” is you take a hunk of that an pay forward for the next kid that comes along.”

Are you kidding me?  First of all who is Elizabeth Warren to decide on behalf of anyone what “hunk” of their business they can keep?

Second of all, just what “social contract” is in place anyway?  A contract implies two or more parties coming together and AGREEING to terms of which all parties CHOOSE to participate.  Forcing one party to hand over some “hunk” of their efforts, brains, ingenuity, or otherwise when they have not agreed to do so is confiscation and there is no “social contract”.

Third of all she keeps saying “that the rest of us paid for“.  Really?  Has she seen who is paying Federal taxes in the USA?

Liberals love to tell you all about the rich and how much money they make, that it’s “disproportionate” and not “fairly distributed“. The somehow always forget to include the part of how much in Federal income tax is paid by the people that produce the wealth.

According to the IRS a few years ago the Top 50% of income earners pay 96.54% of all income taxes.  Last reviewed in 2010 it went up to 97.41%.  Here is the data (click the matrix for full view):

So if we are going to discuss income earned then we also need to discussed taxes paid.

With that in mind, let’s come back to this concept of a “social contract”.  Liberals always want to come at this this from only one direction.

  • What about the social contract where people who can’t afford health insurance rearrange their priorities to not purchase cool toys before taking care of the basics?  Sure it’s expensive but these are choices in life.  Part of the social contract is not obliging your fellow citizen to cover your butt because you chose not to.
    • What about people getting off this idea that someone else is going to pay for their mortgage and gasoline:
  • What about the idea of all American citizens paying something in taxes even if only a little.  When 50% of the country’s population pay absolutely nothing in Federal income taxes, they , as Ms. Elizabeth Warren likes to say so much are living in a society that the “rest of us paid for“.

The “Social Contract” is a two way street. If people of means would agree to “hand over” a hunk of their earned wealth, would it be too much to ask that those on the receiving end not abuse it and do everything possible to stand on their own two feet as best as possible?

The person that started his or her factory and did well did so because he or she delivered something of value to their fellow man who chose to purchase it in the free market – and yes Ms. Warren, the roads those product were delivered on were paid for in a much larger part by the same people that had the ideas, built the factories, and even employed others.

In short, the productive people of this world not only provide value to their fellow citizens, not only provide jobs to their local communities (and sometimes long distance communities), not only indirectly create whole new economies in the towns where they place their factories and offices, but they also paid almost all of the costs of putting the roads there, educating the workforce, and paying the taxes that provide local police and fire protection.

I have watch Elizabeth Warren’s announcement video and in all sincerity it’s pretty good, and she’s welcome to do what she thinks is right fighting for “working families” and fighting big lobby interests, but to attack productive people saying their goods were delivered on roads paid for “by the rest of us” is just factually incorrect.  The people setting up factories and other business are just as much a part of the working class as anyone – maybe even more so as there is no 9 to 5 in the world of the entrepreneur.

For Elizabeth Warren to come at this any other way is only to stir up false rage in some attempt keep class warfare alive.  Good luck up there in Massachusetts.

The Consequences of Being Irrational

This week California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a tax on Internet sales in California.  His thinking (and the “Board of Equalization”) was that if they would just mandate that taxes be paid on internet sales in California then the state could collect a $200 million it doesn’t currently collect.

Immediately thereafter Amazon.com email 25,000 of it’s affiliates a termination notice.  Good for Amazon and shame on the Governor’s office and the “Board of Equalization” (a faceless government name seemingly straight out of an Ayn Rand novel) for getting in the way of the free enterprise system.

Why do governments operate as if they live in a vacuum?  What did California government people think was going to happen?  It’s 2011, why do governments think that all they have to do is raise taxes to raise state revenue.  If they want to raise state revenue, they would lower taxes and generate more velocity of money (lots of repetitive economic activity) in their own backyard economy, which would in turn generate more tax revenue.

California seems to be doing everything it can do drive business and businesses out of California. This is just the most recent example of failed centralized economic planning from people not in the private market but who think they should have some all powerful dominion over the individuals in the private market that actually work productively and truly support families.

No entity is more irrational and nothing destroys like government.

The best line in this article on the story tells it in plain English – “Board of Equalization Member George Runner blasted Brown for signing the law. “Even as Governor Jerry Brown lifted his pen to sign this legislation, thousands of affiliates across California were losing their jobs. The so-called ‘Amazon tax’ is truly a lose-lose proposition for California. Not only won’t we see the promised revenues, we’ll actually lose income tax revenue as affiliates move to other states.”

Think about that.

Bureaucrats seem to have a very hard time understanding the unintended consequences of their “actions”.

Half the Country

This week Gallup.com reported that Obama’s approval rating is 48%.  Oddly enough Business Insider reported that 47% of American don’t pay any Federal income tax and think the tax system is just fine.  Who are we kidding in this country?  We have about half the country funding the Federal government and the other half of the country hanging on.  That wouldn’t be so much of a problem if it were not for the fact that those not paying any Federal Taxes have equally as much voting power as those that do pay taxes.

Imagine for a moment company of 300 owners where only 150 of them invested in the company but the other 150 have just as much voting power when it comes to electing the Officers of the company.  You can bet the 150 that are actual investors (paying the bill) would be a bit outraged that the other 150 have as much voting power, with no risk and all the benefit.

Now just take this example from 300 people to 300 million people and instead of calling it a company we call it the USA.  I think you can see why those paying Federal Income tax get mad that when they go to vote for a President their vote counts exactly as much as the person that doesn’t pay Federal Income Tax.

A solution to this could very well be to either make voting harder by having all voters pass a basic civics test, and even better would be to give everyone a vote, but for every say $20,000 in Federal Income Tax one pays he gets an additional vote.

Some solution needs to be found otherwise every year we’re going to run in to this problem and we’re going to keep seeing socialists like Barack Obama magically find themselves in the White House pushing ever more utopian fantasies while sapping the life-blood out of the country.  

The world is more global than ever and if we keep going down the path we’re going we’re going to look like Venezuela where today many of the capable, intelligent, and job producing Venezuelans have simply left the country and are waiting for Chavez to be gone before even considering going back.   There is no good reason for the USA to go down that path when it can be avoided.

Think about the stats in those links again.  Is it really surprising that 48% of Americans approve of Obama and 47% of American do not pay Federal Income Taxes.  Do you really think this is not the exact same group?  When half the country supports the other half and the supported half has the votes to keep it that way, we’re in trouble.

Gallup Poll 48% Approve of Obama

Business Insider 47% do not pay Federal Income Tax

Could you use an extra $9 million?

Let’s say you’re 25 years old and make $75,000 a year.

What if I now told you that your share of future Federal spending was $1,900,000 and that your estimated future Federal taxes would amount to $1,300,00 – and that if you were to instead NOT have to pay these taxes and you could get a 6% return on this money (money that YOU earned) it would be worth $9,200,000 when you were older if you lived to 79 years of age.

I have found a cool (and depressing) online tool that can calculate your share of either the entire Federal budget or even break it down into one of 19 diferent Federal programs such as Welfare, Foreign Aid, Social Security etc…

You simply enter your education level, your age, your annual income and it calculates the 3 figures – your share of spending, your future taxes, and what the taxes COULD have earned you at 6%.

Read it and weep.

Read it and vote : The 2012 elections are coming

 

 

 

What kind of change would I like to see in the world in 2011?

Going into the new year, I have given some thought to what sort of change I would like to see in the world in 2011 and beyond and as always in line with the theme of rational thinking and living well, I’d like to share the following.

On Government:

I would like to see people worldwide finally understand that they should not look to government to solve every aspect of their lives.  Governments by and large ultimately do more harm than good in most cases because politicians seem to always not see the unintended consequences of their decisions.

We need limited government in our lives not ubiquitous government.  Particularly in the USA we have a Constitution that gives specific and enumerated abilities to Congress and no more.  Our American government today is in some cases so far beyond the scope of what is supposed to do that it is criminal.

The default nature of man is freedom.  Governments get in the way of freedom.  Even “free” governments like here in the USA are far from it (you’re going to tell me how much salt I can eat and what kinds of light bulbs I can have in my house?)  Why?  What business is is of a bureaucrat thousands of miles away to determine what my diet should be like?

In 2010 we’ve seen government stick its fingers into almost every aspect of our lives from healthcare to banking to industry to regulations (and over regulations).  The fact of the matter is that the less government in your life the better your life.  Look at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Certain politicians like Barney Frank fought for these institutions to loan money to people that could not pay these loans back and caused the entire housing market to collapse.

Government has no business being in the arts, nor bailing out automobile companies or taking over insurance companies, nor regulating how many men or women or white or black people there must be at some office or school – just to name a few.

Governments waste more money they you can even imagine.  You work, you pay your taxes, and then your government thinks it is an appropriate use of your taxes to fund the most ridiculous projects from Alaska to Florida and beyond.  Why you should have to be forced to fund projects that have nothing to do with the proper and legitimate function of your government?

The change I would like to see in 2011 is that more and more people continue to understand that they can vote out of office and out of power those who do not serve the country properly.  November 2010 was a great start and in 2012 a good 30% of the Senate is up for reelection – as is Barack Obama (who I firmly believe and hope is destined to become a one term President)

On Barack Obama:

How can I not mention Barack Obama specifically?  We’ve just been through two years under the “leadership” of Barack Obama ans it has been utterly shameful if not outright disastterous.

When he was running for office he talked about “Hope” and he talked about “Change”.  They were empty platitudes and millions of people looked up to this man as the white knight that was going to “save” America.  Remember this video?

We were warned about him time and again but it was useless, he was going to win the race and become President.  He promised to “fundamentally transform” America and many Americans thought that this meant for the better (who wouldn’t?).  I mean any Presidential candidate that says he wants to change America surely means for the better right?  Not in the case of Obama….you have to keep in mind his point of reference.  He is such a non-fit for the office of President of the USA and he is such a non-fit in terms of syncing with the psyche of the American that he almost seems like a trojan horse, put there seemingly as a thoughtful leader who ultimately and deliberately undermines what makes America exceptional.

When Rush Limbaugh famously said that “I hope he fails” when he was asked about the new President he was excoriated but he was dead on.  When your agenda is redistribution of wealth and equality simply for the sake of it not by helping to raise the bottom but instead by lowering the top, he must fail indeed.

Ironically the best thing that may have ever happened to the USA in recent times is the election of Barack Obama.  Only thanks to him have the American people woken up in droves and have started to understand that elections have consequences.  Only thanks to Barack Obama have Americans started to actually take a look at what are the specific and enumerated powers that the Constitution gives to Congress.

Thankfully as we’ve seen in the recent November mid-term elections, the tide is turning.  Barack Obama had two virtually uninterrupted years with full control of the House, the Senate and the White House to jam his insane policies down the throats of all Americans whether we wanted it or not (Obamacare for example).  Kings do that, not Presidents.  Thanks to Obama and specifically thanks to his maniacal drive for socialized medicine, Americans have seen the light and understand that there is no free lunch, nor should there be.   I saw a billboard over Christmas that said “It’s We The People, Not You The President”.  That sort of nails it.

In short, I think Barack Obama is undermining the United States and is trying to remake it in his version of how things should be completely disregarding the Constitution and millions of Americans who want nothing of his program.  Let’s hope that 2011 brings more of the course correction as the next Presidential election will start to heat up this year and there are millions of Americans who are highly motivated to make Obama the next Carter.

On Taxes:

Taxes are too high and the money that is collected is used for too many wasteful projects.  Taxes represent your time and life and in the USA you have to work approximately to May 1st to cover your tax bill.  That’s 5 months.  There are taxes in everything from gasoline to property to hotel stays and on and on.  And that’s on top of the income tax.

I would love to see 2011 be there year that people in the USA understand that taxing income is a losing game.  The more you tax income the less achievement you get.  All politicians know this – even Barack Obama knows this – so much does he know this that when asked about how to get more revenue into the government he responded with an answer to the effect that of course lowering income taxes will generate more revenue for the government, but he wants to “even the playing field”.

Politicians use taxes as a mean to control behavior – buy this car or that HVAC system and get a tax write off.  Contribute here but not there and get a tax write off.  It goes on and on.  If we can get off the income tax system and onto a consumption tax system we can still cover the revenue needed while taking the power out of the hands of politicians to control behavior.  Wouldn’t it be nice if you earned $10,000 and you kept it all?

I heard Obama say that he thinks we should give tax breaks like student loan forgiveness to people who go into public service.  Why?  What is so special about going into public service?  You go into a place for the taxpayers have to support you and that’s supposed to be lauded?  How about if we give tax breaks to entrepreneurs that employ others?  It creates jobs, grows the economy, and doesn’t lean on the taxpayer.  It seems that our tax system is all upside down – there are 54,000 pages in the US Tax Code.  WTF? – we need 54,000 pages to set up a system of funding the government?

On Fairness

2010 seemed to be the year of discussing fairness.  What is fair, what is not fair.  Seemingly everywhere we turned we got some earful about how wealth is unequally distributed (as if wealth is not earned but doled out from some central source).  We heard about how it’s not fair that some people have millions of dollars while others work three jobs.  We heard it was not fair that some CEO makes tens of millions of dollars while the lowest employee on the payroll earns so much less.

I’d rather ask it the other way around.  Is it “fair” that we should tax you more because you’re capable of producing more?  What is fair about that?  Is it fair that we should tax the founder of some company that employs a hundred people more simply because he made it?  Is it fair that we should assume that the weight of responsibility on the CEO equal to that of the lowest employee on the payroll.  Why does the CEO of Exxon earn what he earns?  Could it be because he’s worth it?  Could you handle that gig? Think about it.  Instead of wealth envy, how about considering the fact that these situations almost always involve private companies with private citizens with private boards of directors that decide how their officers are to be compensated.  How in the world does that affect you or anyone?  You may think some people are paid too much but a.) it’s none of your business and b.) if he or she was not worth it their boards would resolve that fast.

I”ll tell you what’s not fair.  That the CEO of Fannie Mae, an organization funded by taxpayers that all but decimated the USA economy saw it’s CEO rake in $90 million in compensation while sending millions of dollars in campaign contributions to lawmakers – and the top 3 to receive these funds where no less than Chris Dodd, Barack Obama, and John Kerry – the three guys who are always telling the rest of us what is fair and what is not.  Where is the outrage here?  Politicians are always telling us that big evil corporations that are not public entities are evil but somehow they miss this one.

What’s fair is to leave people alone to achieve what they can achieve and not penalize them for achieving more.  It is not fair to confiscate from the capable just because they’re capable.  If you steal $100 off the kitchen table of your neighbor you’re a thief but if you use the tax code to do the exact same thing somehow you’re compassionate.  Sorry, I don’t think so.

On Social Security:

Social Security is nothing less than a ponzi scheme.  What social security does to people is exactly the same as Bernie Madoff did to his investors – take in money from new “investors” and pay back earlier investors when they need the cash back.  The difference is Bernie Madoff is in jail for 150 years and the politicians that starting robbing and continue robbing the social security funds are not in jail.  You tell me why not?  You tell me what exactly is the difference in systems?

What I hope for in 2011 is that more American understand how they are being screwed by this system more so than perhaps any other program in government.

People get all bent out of shape when gas costs $4 a gallon or when is costs $2 at the ATM but they don’t flinch when 15% of their lives are confiscated from them in this ponzi scheme.  Here’s hoping more and more of us put more pressure on the politicians to kill off this dreadful program which when you think about it is more social insecurity than security.  Let’s set a line in the sand even if it’s 25 years from now that at X date this system dies.  Let’s keep the promises to those that have been made promises and let not subject the next generation to this hideous program.

If you were simply permitted to keep the money that is confiscated from you for FICA and instead you invested it yourself as you saw fit, you would surely come out ahead.  Social security is a scam and we’re all being had.  That’s change I’d like to see.

On Employment:

Who owns the job at a company?  You or the company?  People always talk about some company moving their jobs overseas.  The jobs belong to the company, not the person doing the job.  If the company wants to move 100 jobs from one country to another perhaps because taxes are too high, that is their prerogative.  Sure it sucks if you’re the one losing the role but the job holders should not get mad at the company but instead get mad at the politicians who create such an environment where a company needs to relocate tasks and talent.

Who wouldn’t love it if more jobs stayed in the USA and supported local economies?  But when companies are taxed too much they look for greener pastures.  Governments that want to keep employment high would be wise to keep taxes low.  Voters that like employment would be wise to vote in politicians that give plenty of reasons for companies to locate in the USA.  If the USA would lower the corporate tax rate, we would see overseas companies put more offices and facilities in the USA as well.

Politicians talk about creating jobs.  Let’s hope 2011 is the year we get the ball rolling so that more people understand that governments do not create jobs, individuals do.  The best way forward for job growth is to get government out of the way and let the private market flourish.  The more the government twists and turns their knobs, the more it screws things up and the less motivated employers are to invest and expand.

On Health:

Here’s hoping that more and more people enjoy a healthier life by cutting out so much of the crap that they currently consume.  The American diet is horrendous.  Walk into almost any major supermarket and look around.  You will see row after row of processed foods in boxes, frozen pre-cooked crap full of chemicals that just get microwaved.  All crap.  The fresh produce section is some small corner of the store with barely anything fresh.  Americans by and large are overweight and under exercised.  This of course leads to higher medical costs, high rates of diabetes, higher insurance costs, and an generally unhealthy populations.  I recently read that in America today if you take 3 people 1 of them now weighs as much as the other two….  think about that.

It would be great in 2011 to see more of us kick the habit of processed foods (high fructose corn syrup – how nasty is this stuff at why the fuck is it in almost everything?) as much as possible, slim down a bit, cut out so many unnecessary medications, and rev up a healthy and productive lifestyle for all.  We do have a choice in what we ingest.  Where do you think a lifetime of eating crap all the time leads to?

On Retirement:

I feel sorry for the baby boomers now going into their sixtes or beyond that have lost 30% or 40% of their wealth over the past decade.  They’ve worked are their whole lives and did it “right” only to get stuck on the last mile.  The stock market is up something like 2% since 2000 and millions of people that were told to sock it all away in stock and then pull it out later were given lazy advice.

A much better approach for those that can do it is to deal in high cash value life insurance and it’s almost always discouraged by traditional financial planners who don’t seem to really get it.  The earlier you get involved with this I think the better but you can do it at almost any age.    Most people think they need to spend as little as possible on a premium and get as much death benefit as possible with it (think term insurance).  When using whole life insurance as a means of preparing for the future, you do exactly the opposite – you don’t need the huge death benefit when you’re 35 or 40 – you need it when you’re 70 or 80.  So use your most productive years to fund the crap out the policy to build up a solid base that pays dividends and is also a great fall-back if the shit hits the fan (you can always cash it out if you had to).

Take someone that is in their 30’s or 40’s.  They can go out and get a $5000 a year premium on a whole life policy and overfund it with paid up additions in some cases as much as 3x face value.  Do this for 10 years and you’ll be in a position to be essentially your own banker, with a high cash value that you can use to fund other income producing activities (such as rental property) while also taking the appreciation and depreciation on property— all the while building a substantial death benefit that you can leave to your kids tax free – unlike your IRA’s and 401ks.

I’ll cover this subject more in 2011 but for now suffice it to say that when it comes to how to plan for retirement, most of us get bad advice.  Check out this book for great initial info on this subject:

Learning to Avoid Unintended Consequences

On Religion:

This is a touchy subject for so many.  Suffice it to say that all over the world people are killing each other and having insane debates about ancient texts that were essentially written by what would be by today’s standards very uneducated men.  Wherever I travel around the world I see the effects of religion on whole populations and it is a very high wall to knock down.

Let’s see 2011 be the year where more and more people realize that while religion offers many good things to many people, we simply do not need religion to be moral or good.  Religion is a tool of control worldwide and the more you travel the more you will see and understand this.

As Sam Harris so sublimely put it in his book The End of Faith – [paraphrasing] let’s hope the gods of today go the way of Zeus and Apollo or else we’re all screwed.

On the USA:

I think and hope the USA is going through its most cathartic period ever.  We can see clearly what the score is, who’s making the rules and for who’s benefit.  We can see that socialistic systems not only are not American but they also do not work.  We’ve seen it overseas for decades and the results are now on our doorstep.  Greece, Spain, Italy et al – beautiful places all but terrible social systems and the results are now laid bare before the whole world to see.  Is that want we want?  More people than ever on are food stamps in America – is that what we want? Is this really the direction our government thinks is the right way to go?

I’d like to suggest that we think about our selves the way we’re told to handle emergencies on airplanes.  I wrote a short piece on this in 2008 that basically observed that we should first strive to take care of ourselves and then help our fellow man.  The greatest honor you can give your fellow human being is to not be a burden on his life.

The whole thing is cyclical – a society is a group of individuals working together and trading together.  What would be nice is that we here in America are finally seeing what the world looks like if we weaken the individual instead of empowering him to be his best on his own terms.  Let’s make the 2011 the year of less government and more empowerment of each individual.   Working in groups is great (and needed) but groups are made of individuals and you can’t have a strong group without strong individuals.

On sex

Have more sex in 2011 and you’ll be happier and healthier – (yeah Tony – no shit).  Read these two books for a great way to see things in what might be a new way for you.

Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex

Mating in Captivity

On the World:

People always talk about peace on Earth and in the age of the internet it is easy to see in real time what’s going on everywhere.  Who doesn’t want peace on Earth?  Let’s see us pull out troops from Afghanistan and Iraq and let the Middle East solve the problems of the Middle East.  Everyone who goes in to Afghanistan gets sucked into a no-win quagmire for years – and especially with the person we have in office at the moment our poor troops are fighting for sure a losing game.  Yes I’m sure we have strategic interests in natural resources there with pipelines crossing from one part of Asia to another but it’s time for a readjustment in the world of us not having to police the world.  I’d rather see our troops on the US borders frankly and us mining our own natural resources here a bit more.

Also, instead of politicians and governments making promises they cannot keep (or should not be promising in the first place) let’s try to push a more enlightened education of people everywhere to understand that they are sovereign individuals and not part of this group or that group.  Let’s see us use the web more to spread education and possibility.  I read recently that there are 240 million people in the USA on the internet and 420 million in China online (and that is only about 30% penetration for China’s population).

People everywhere can now see what works and what doesn’t when in comes to social systems and power grabs by politicians (Venezuela anyone? – There’s a lesson in how to destroy a country in under 10 years).

Let’s hope that 2011 and beyond will see more focus on the importance of the individual and less importance on the group.  Group mentality is mob mentality.  Let’s see more focus on pride in a job well done instead of people thinking that they must turn to government for their every need.  Let’s work to vote into elected office people who understand that they are not there to do as they please but do as they should.  Let’s see in 2011 if more people can spread the word and the idea that the best way for people to grow and achieve is with government mostly out of the way instead of at every turn.

Here’s to a healthy, prosperous, and sane 2011.  All the best to you.

Tony