Thursday, September 25, 2008

Alternative Bailout Plan Specifics

2 posts in one day...

There's been a lot of talk about how McCain and other Republicans are afraid to talk issues.  I'm sick of this characterization so I just wanted to post this for whoever wants to read.  

The following was found on  This is a wonderful source of conservative viewpoints on current events (mostly political events at this point).  If I'm going to be forced to read MSNBC and CNN, then I figured it would be best to balance it out so I can actually read both sides of an issue.

These are some of the alternative policies that are being worked on by the House Republicans in response to our current financial situation:

Here is what Cantor, Hensarling, Ryan are working on:

Economic Rescue Principles

Common Sense Plan to Have Wall Street Fund the Recovery, Not Taxpayers

* Rather than providing taxpayer funded purchases of frozen mortgage assets, we should adopt a mortgage insurance approach to solve the problem. 

* Currently the federal government insures approximately half of all mortgage backed securities. (MBS) We can insure the rest of current outstanding MBS; however, rather than taxpayers funding insurance, the holders of these assets should pay for it. Treasury Department can design a system to charge premiums to the holders of MBS to fully finance this insurance.

Have Private Capital Injection to the Financial Markets, Not Tax Dollars

* Instead of injecting taxpayer capital into the market to produce liquidity, private capital can be drawn into the market by removing regulatory and tax barriers that are currently blocking private capital formation. Too much private capital is sitting on the sidelines during this crisis. 

* Temporary tax relief provisions can help companies free up capital to maintain operations, create jobs, and lend to one another. In addition, we should allow for a temporary suspension of dividend payments by financial institutions and other regulatory measures to address the problems surrounding private capital liquidity.

Immediate Transparency, Oversight, and Market Reform

* Increase Transparency. Require participating firms to disclose to Treasury the value of their mortgage assets on their books, the value of any private bids within the last year for such assets, and their last audit report. 

* Limit Federal Exposure for High Risk Loans: Mandate that the GSEs no longer securitize any unsound mortgages.

* Call on the SEC to audit reports of failed companies to ensure that the financial standing of these troubled companies was accurately portrayed.

* Wall Street Executives should not benefit from taxpayer funding.

* Call on the SEC to review the performance of the Credit Rating Agencies and their ability to accurately reflect the risks of these failed investment securities.

* Create a blue ribbon panel with representatives of Treasury, SEC, and the Fed to make recommendations to Congress for reforms of the financial sector by January 1, 2009
Other representatives working on this include Boehner, Bachus, Biggert, Campbell, Carter, Castle, LaTourette, McCotter, McCrery and Putnam.  I thought it was only fair to list these guys and give them some credit.

We the People

I don't know if I should quite say this or not, but I wanted to point out the glimmer of hope thatI found today... that our government still works for us.  I didn't say it's the truth, but there is a glimmer of hope.  I just read this on CNN...

But one Republican aide said, "I think it has to be pretty radically altered for House Republicans to support it."

"At the end of the day these members represent the people who sent them here and the people who sent them here are so overwhelming opposed to this," the aide stressed, who noted that calls about the plan were running about 90-1 against the plan.

"However, House Republicans have not agreed to any plan at this point. We owe it to all those with a stake in this process to continue our discussions until we arrive at an agreement that is acceptable on both sides of the aisle -- and more importantly, one that serves the interests of American taxpayers," he said.

And one Senate Republican said he, too, was not ready to vote for the proposal.

"I'm not on board yet. I want to see this thing," Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, said. "What I don't like about this -- and I'm very, very worried about it -- I think this is probably the greatest concession of legislative power in the history of the republic, almost."

I actually called our representative today.  Her Washington office.  Truth be told, I was trying to be "heard" through email and for some strange reason the site shut down everytime I clicked the contact button.  So real quick, I just decided to call.  I got a secretary with one ring:

Sheila's office: "Hello"

Me: "Yes, I'd like to voice my opposition for the $700 billion bailout plan."

Sheila's office: "Ok.  Are you one of her constituent's?"

Me: "Umm... I don't know what that means to be honest."

Sheila's office: "Are you in her district?"

Me: "Yes ma'am."

Sheila's office: "Thank you."

I freaked out a little when someone actually answered on the phone.  I want to work up the courage to actually have a conversation with the other person and find out where my representative stands on the specific issues, but I decided to take baby steps this time.  I was pretty proud of myself.  I then emailed our senators and told them why I wasn't for the bailout package and a couple of alternative ideas that could be used instead of the $700 billion bailout.  We'll see if I get a response on Captiol Hill.

Here's what I find so disturbing about this bailout.  The specifics for one.  A blank check for $700 billion dollars to the Treasury Department.  That screams socialism to me.  That means that the government nationalizes certain industries that were once private.  That means that entrepreneurship, innovation and hard work will not be rewarded but instead distributed to lower income families.  I'm extremely opposed to this.  This is America, where hard work and dedication should be rewarded.  I believe in helping lower income families, but I don't believe in enabling them to grow comfortable in their current situation by giving them handouts.

Why aren't we encouraging them to grow?  Every member of Congress that claims to have a "normal" background has done that.  They've risen above life circumstances to hold a very powerful political office in this country.  That's an accomplishment and thus should be rewarded.  So why would those that have benefitted from a capitalistic society all of a sudden want to socialize our country?  That should make you think...

Second thing that should make you think.  Why are the Democrats going along with Bush's plan so easily?  They very clearly and emphatically hate President Bush.  Because it's a crisis?  Really?  I, for one, could not be prouder of the House Republicans (and others that have raised opposing viewpoints to this bailout) for actually standing up to the "crisis situation" with questions, policy suggestions and reservations.  THANK YOU for actually listening to people that called you.  The fact that Democrats are trying to fix this problem so quickly should make you take a step back and wonder why?

There's a reason, and one of them (not the only one) is because this housing bubble started in '92 when Clinton encouraged banks to lend to lower and middle income families that could not afford to own a house.  This led to many families finding themselves in the middle of mortgages that they simply could not pay, home foreclosures and thus spelled trouble for top-tier financial institutions that decided to invest in securities that were backed by these irresponsible mortgages.  President Bush called for reform for Freddie and Fannie in 2001, John McCain warned of this crisis in 2005 as he pushed for reform and yet today we find ourselves in a very alarming, realistic truth: 

That our economy is simply NOT too big to fail.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The lights are on, but were they ever really off?

It's official... the downed tree on our power line did not prevent the Kiser house from officially having power around 6 pm tonight.  We were standing in our dining room and all of a sudden I looked up and saw the most welcome site in the last couple of days.  A light... that was on... INSIDE OF OUR HOUSE!  Bless our souls...

It's a funny thing though that when electricity is finally shut off and there is nothing else going around in your house how clear life really becomes.  I've heard of families now that are going to implement a "black out" day in their family every week where the TV will not go on and the family will instead talk and play games together.  You want to know the moment where I really thought it was a good idea?  When Becky and I were on our couches without AC after being away for a week and a half.  What were we doing?  Probably having a deep conversation about how nice it was not to have distractions, right?  Nope... we were playing with our phones.

How sad huh?  Becky and I had just been on a long road trip back from Vegas, but that time wasn't spend talking up a storm either.  It was spent just being.  Spending your life with someone lends to your brain being out of fresh ideas of what to talk about on occasion.  It's not uncommon with us where I'll say on the phone, "Ok, I don't know what to talk about anymore so I'll see you when I get home."  I prefer it that way...

In the season of campaigning all we hear is talk.  In a few years we'll look back on this time (if any of us will even remember it) and see how empty all of this talk really was.  We live in a reactionary world, not a proactive one.  Anyone paying attention to this banking crisis?  So what did the light bulbs going off in my head as we waited for power say?  Exactly what God tries to speak to our hearts everyday that we're alive.

I made you because I wanted a you.  I don't have to hear from you why I should love you because I already do.  I don't have to see your accomplishments or hear about your good deeds or understand what's truly in your heart if time and money were no object.  You're mine... and even when you don't know how much I appreciate you or don't understand the words that I'm speaking to you, that simple fact does not change the fact that you are who I made you to be.  And I love you.  

Now go and be.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Political Obsession

This post may be long only because I have a lot of quotes and information I want to talk about. Last night I reached a point in watching the CNN political coverage to where I literally wanted to explode. I watched pieces of the Democratic National Commitee and watched Obama's acceptance speech in it's entirety, simply because I didn't want to judge him or the Democrat's based on what I've been raised to believe. I've been raised by a very conservative family which has helped shape my political views I'm sure. But last night I got to a point where I didn't just want to take my family's word for it. I wanted to see what I really, truly believe is right.

I'll begin with the statement that this journey is far from over. Last night I read for about 3 hours on the internet, starting with our Constitution, then going to some articles about our founding fathers and their vision for America, then reading about the differences between Captialism, Socialism, and Communism (which I haven't made it completely through yet, but I'll post the article I found and plan to read later). This morning I woke up with the same itch, so I decided to look at the voting records of Senator Obama and Senator McCain. Given the enormity of information that I've consumed in the last 12 hours or so, I've reached a different type of explosion. The amount of information is too great to comprehend at one time, so I will attempt to slowly but surely rehash some things that I've picked up along the way in hopes of cementing my beliefs in the pursuit of learning more. Here we go...

The U.S. Constitution
The opening line of the constitution reads:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

This paragraph answers the question for me, "Why should I even care?" It's our country and how our country is governed is our business. We are the ones that employ politicians and we have the power collectively to determine whether they deserve another term of service. I heard a wonderful suggestion the other day by Ted Nugent, encouraging people towards activism in order to truly get involved. He said once this presidential race is over and finalized, be in contact with your state representatives (U.S. Representatives, U.S. Senators, and State Legislature) to really find out where they stand on issues that are important to you. Read comments they've made, speeches they've given and hold them to the promises that they've made. Their voting record is public knowledge and the link is provided above.

Founding Fathers
I don't have a lot of information concerning this because there's too many people to research. I ran across a couple things about Benjamin Franklin and a couple things about John Adams that either I think are important or simply entertaining.

Benjamin Franklin
One interesting thing about Franklin is that he developed Pennsylvania's state currency at the age of 23. Later he was asked to develop the nation's currency (the design of it) and went on to be a successful congressman and inventor. Once I read this, it made me think, "Mmmm twenty three... what are most of us doing at 23? Working yes, but becoming an expert at guitar hero would probably rank higher on our agenda than making an impact in our state." This convicted me, not because I'm an avid player of guitar hero, but I really do enjoy being entertained. It's incredible how selfish I can be. I don't know the answer to how I can impact my state, but I'm now starting that process.

A couple quotes he made I agree with whole-heartedly:

"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer."

This is my main argument against government handouts. Giving people money to temporarily alleviate their situation is one thing. Training and educating people to become productive members of society is more the way I would prefer to go. America is the land of opportunity... so the question is how can cultivate an environment of opportunity for our people to thrive in?

"Many an unwarlike nation have been beaten into heroes by troublesome warlike neighbours."

This just struck me given our current war in Iraq. The quote speaks to the heart of our country. We don't truly shine until we have a reason to shine. Think of every major disaster or trying event our country has been through and what have we found? Perseverance, good will, charity and love. We're resilient and we're willing to contribute. From September 11th to World War II, American's want to get in the game.

John Adams
This is the man credited for Uniting the States of America. I'm intrigued by him although I don't know that much. Here's a quote that speaks to the last point on Benjamin Franklin.

"People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity," he said, doubtless thinking of his own as well as the American experience. "

It seems like adversity was something they dealt with frequently given that they reference it so much. Mmmm.... there's a point to this. Keep reading.

I laughed hard at this next one given all the scrutiny behind the Vice Presidential selections:

"In the first presidential election of 1898, John Adams came in second in the electoral college, and was thus named America's first Vice-President - a position which caused him to remark that, "My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived."

Nevertheless, as Vice President, Adams was able to do some good, serving as President of the Senate and casting 29 tie-breaking votes, earning for himself enough respect to be chosen as successor to President Washington.

He found a way to be effective where he was... something we should all do.

Pay attention to this story on how history was transformed based on belief and action:

When Adams became President, the war between the French and British was causing great difficulties for the United States on the high seas and intense partisanship among contending factions within the Nation.

His administration focused on France, where the Directory, the ruling group, had refused to receive the American envoy and had suspended commercial relations.

Adams sent three commissioners to France, but in the spring of 1798 word arrived that the French Foreign Minister Talleyrand and the Directory had refused to negotiate with them unless they would first pay a substantial bribe. Adams reported the insult to Congress, and the Senate printed the correspondence, in which the Frenchmen were referred to only as "X, Y, and Z."

The Nation broke out into what Jefferson called "the X. Y. Z. fever," increased in intensity by Adams's exhortations. The populace cheered itself hoarse wherever the President appeared.

How much have we longed for this type of experience? To really admire and love our President? It happened for about 2 weeks after 9/11 and ever since has gone downhill. One thing I will say is that watching the preparations from Hurricane Gustav and statements from the governor's that are involved, it seems to me that the Bush Administration has been obliterated for their non-responsiveness to Hurricane Katrina. Most of that blame has been avoided this time around (so-far) due to the preparedness of Governor Jindal in Louisiana. Local government stepped up and evacuated their people. Rightly so they should get the praise. The federal government has communicated that they are there to assist in any way possible, but that the local ground operation put forth by the local governments is taking the lead. Awesome. Thank you for showing us how government in America should work. The ill-preparedness of Louisiana last time is partly to blame for Katrina. Just distribute blame appropriately instead of turning this into a political issue.

Last thing, John Adams said this when he first moved into the White House:

On November 1, 1800, just before the election, Adams arrived in the new Capital City to take up his residence in the White House. On his second evening in its damp, unfinished rooms, he wrote his wife, "Before I end my letter, I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof."

What a man... as I said, I'm intrigued by him. Hopefully I'll be able to do more studying about his life and policies.

Election 2008

This election season has done one thing to me. It's gotten me pretty fired up. Go ahead, call me Michael Phelps when reading doubters comments before a race. Oh man, am I fired up. Yelling at the TV when I hear something that either contradicts an earlier statement or hearing just blatant lies. I can't hardly stand it any more. I've nearly been standing on my couch at times. Well I've been able to work through these issues, in true Chris Kiser fashion, in a pretty systematic way. I'll put these issues and my thoughts down below and let you be the judge. I don't quite know what you're judging because I don't know that you can really change my mind, but by all means if you can make sense of some of these things that I'm about to type I BEG YOU to please leave some comments.

The main person I focused on last night and this morning was Barack Obama. There's been comments in his speeches that I know aren't right and that I know are contradictory to other parts of his speech, but I couldn't recall those things from memory. So this morning I found one speech that he gave in Flint, MI and read every word. I want to post excerpts from this speech and ask some honest questions I have about his words. Tell me what you think.

Obama began his speech with a comment about globalization.

"There are some who believe that we must try to turn back the clock on this new world; that the only chance to maintain our living standards is to build a fortress around America; to stop trading with other countries, shut down immigration, and rely on old industries. I disagree. Not only is it impossible to turn back the tide of globalization, but efforts to do so can make us worse off.

Rather than fear the future, we must embrace it. I have no doubt that America can compete and succeed in the 21st century. And I know as well that more than anything else, success will depend not on our government, but on the dynamism, determination, and innovation of the American people."

Perfect. I am on board with that statement. I believe in everything he just said. Let's keep going...

"Almost a decade into this century, we still have no real strategy to compete in a global economy. Just think of what we could have done. We could have made a real commitment to a world-class education for our kids, but instead we passed "No Child Left Behind," a law that, however well-intended, left the money behind and alienated teachers and principals instead of inspiring them. We could have done something to end our addiction to oil, but instead we continued down a path that funds both sides of the war on terror, endangers our planet, and has left Americans struggling with four dollar a gallon gasoline. We could have invested in innovation and rebuilt our crumbling roads and bridges, but instead we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars fighting a war in Iraq that should've never been authorized and never been waged.

We also need to encourage innovation, by adopting curricula and the school calendar to the needs of the 21st century; by updating the schools of education that produce most of our teachers; by welcoming charter schools within the public schools system, and streamlining the certification process for engineers or businesspeople who want to shift careers and teach."

Blood is now figuratively shooting out of my eyes!! Please answer these questions...
1. Did Barack Obama just say that it was old policies that believed we should build a fortress around America and say that he disagreed with that stance?
YES (Read above, I'm not making this up)

2. What has Barack Obama criticized the most regarding Big Oil and President Bush?
Bush's tax cuts. He's "in bed" with the oil companies. Really?

Please read this from (Wonderful site, I've found out that political attack ads are false, both from McCain and Obama. Thanks for helping me trust you guys.)

Obama, Nov. 3, 2007: When I am president, I will end the tax giveaways to companies that ship our jobs overseas, and I will put the money in the pockets of working Americans, and seniors, and homeowners who deserve a break.

3. What does Obama want to do to end our addiction to oil?
He wants to provide tax breaks (or "incentives"... use your favorite word) for alternative energy initiatives. He wants to be energy independent in 10 years and will be if he's elected president. So what did he mean by his statement that "we could have done something to end our addiction to oil?". Here's what he doesn't mean (I still don't know what he truly means because it's not feasible to abandon oil as energy. There's too much infrastructure in place that is working today.) Obama is opposed to drilling. Governor Palin has stated in an interview that if she were guessing off the top of her head, it would take about 5 years to bring Alaska's oil to the U.S. for production (meaning you're pumping the gas into your tanks). The average Alaskan WANTS this to happen... they actually WANT to contribute to our energy crisis so we DON'T HAVE TO RELY ON UNSTABLE COUNTRIES THAT HATE THE U.S. FOR OUR ENERGY NEEDS. 5 years is half of 10 years. The democrat's argument against offshore drilling (and you can thank Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid for this) was that it wouldn't significantly bring oil prices down fast enough for the American public to experience relief. If I'm not mistaken, we're now at least one more year behind (given that the Executive ban on off-shore drilling was just lifted a few months ago and Congress has yet to lift the Congressional ban on off-shore drilling.). McCain's plan calls for alternative energy, but includes off-shore drilling. I think this will work given that oil is in the energy game now. Alternatives are just being researched or just being rolled out. They're unproven... yet with tons of potential. I just hope that the energy plan keeps alternatives as we see oil plummet as the world market is forced to bring their prices down because they've just lost their biggest consumer (we consume 70% of the world's oil).

Are you kidding me? Obama encourages innovation in every speech he gives and encourages American's to work hard, show that American spirit... He talks about providing income to middle-income families because that's where the heart of America lives.

Obama's policies say something different than his words. Obama encourages us to be innovative and competitive, but NOT TOO competitive (just like he wished Governor Palin luck the other day, but not too much luck.). It's the same thing. If you make over $250,000, you will experience a tax increase. If you make below $150,000, you will experience a tax break. So what that says to me is that you should strive to be successful at what you do, but ultimately you will be penalized through taxes for being successful at what you do. So try hard, just NOT TOO hard. Redistribution of wealth is another name of socialism. I'll write my views on Capitalism vs. Socialism vs. Communism at a later date. As promised, here's a website I found about the comparison.

The tax break is weak in my opinion. What would you rather receive in a year? A $4,000 check from the government or a job that gives you an income? I don't even have to state a number because just about any full-time job you take will give you at least $4,000 take home pay. Tax breaks to companies open up capital for that company to then go and invest in their most important resource - people. History has shown that they will do this. And keep in mind, if you "work hard" inside of your job, you will eventually be making much more than you started out with. Does the $4,000 tax rebate check from the government still sound appealing? Anyone excited about under-achieving yet?

Lastly, Obama has openly said he will bring the jobs back to America and stop the tax breaks for companies that are shipping their jobs overseas. Is this competing in a global economy? The reason our technology is so advanced today... to the point that our gulf-coast oil platforms can sustain a Category 3 hurricane without dropping a bit of oil into the ocean (watch out environmentalists... off-shore rigs are also good for the ecosystems of marine life, but don't get me started) is because of cost savings by private corporations. They're able to employ workers outside this country to do tasks that free up American's to be dedicated to specialized work. I don't believe we're more important than other country's workers, I really don't. But what my job with ExxonMobil (from the inside) has shown me is that there is opportunity for those that work. Your job isn't getting shipped overseas, and if it is, guess what? Companies don't lay off valuable employees. His positions make it seem to me like he is wanting to barricade the United States in a fortress and shut off our assimilation into the global economy that we currently find ourselves in.

I have to stop there... if any of you read this, I want to personally give you a hug for sticking with this. I hope you took breaks. These are just a couple of the things that really irked me this weekend about Obama. I know I can find the same things about McCain. I know I can. And if it makes any of you feel any better, I'll gladly do it.

What I'm hoping to accomplish by writing this is that we need to pay attention to what's happening. These candidates don't always get their facts straight and we know the liberal media (you can't argue that, they're liberal leaning. Just look at and please tell me why the Republican National Convention's agenda is reduced to 5 stories when last week I couldn't read "real" news because the DNC info bombarded every inch of my screen.) is not going to report the truth. I'm so angry this year... angry because I feel backed into a corner and don't really know what to do. So I'm writing and undoubtedly I'll be discussing and watching as this whole historical event plays out. I'm proud to be an American, but now I find myself honestly wishing I would be given the chance to be one.