Category Archives: Politics

Vote 2012: Before we talk Obama vs Romney, let’s explore our core beliefs

We the PeopleObama vs Romney. McCain vs Obama. Bush vs Kerry. Gore vs Bush. Is the polarization of the candidates due to our being easily swayed by smears, minutiae, and manipulation? Or is it because we have fundamental disagreements on what our political and economic systems should look like?

I’d like to explore the latter.

I’m talking about how we organize as a group of 314 million individuals, the grand experiment in self-government that was launched 236 years ago and will hopefully extend through future generations.

So let’s take a break from the campaign crud and think beyond the relative temporariness of the faces we’ve grown to love and/or hate.

It’s more difficult to examine your core beliefs than to “go with your gut” on a candidate, and I hope you’ll indulge me in this — just four questions about what your core beliefs are on human nature (how much oversight is needed?) and the role of government (what should one set of people do to correct for the failings of another set?).

Answer the following questions  by  posting on your own blog  or by leaving  a comment. I’d like to reach beyond my own readers to see others’ ideas of utopia. I don’t even need to say that we should stay respectful, right?

Whether you are in or outside of the US, I am interested in hearing from you.

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A. Overall,1 do you believe people are basically bad (1) or good (100)? Try to put a number on it.

B. Overall, do you think the better economic system would reward people based on what they need or on what they deserve (meaning what people will pay for one’s skills/talents/expertise, according to its value to them)? Again, put a number on it, with (1) favoring need and (100) favoring deserve.

Note: admittedly we could have a whole other discussion about what someone “needs” and “deserves.”

C. What do you think are the main functions of government (say, 3-5 of them)? You could do one list for Federal and another for State & Local. If you need inspiration, you can check the preamble  of the US Constitution.

D. In an ideal society, what percentage of the wealth created by citizens should go to fund government?2 In other words, what portion of the fruits of your labor should be spent at the discretion of you and your family, and what portion should fund the functions of government you list in Question C?

That’s it! Not that difficult, right? Visit the posts of others to learn about viewpoints besides your own.

Tune in next week for a follow up post on values clarification.

1 Yes, in all these rating questions there will be “it depends” and “in some cases” and innumerable qualifiers. I am asking you to think overall.
2 As a benchmark, all three levels of government consumed 40.6% in 2011 (data from Economic Report of the President, February, 2012.)

This post was resurrected and reworked from one I did during the 2008 election.

Show & Tell: Grass Roots

Last week for Show & Tell I bragged on my Dad being recognized for grassroots activism, and you indulged me like good friends and classmates do. Dad (Oopiderf) savored each of your comments, as did I. (*Bows head in appreciation .*)

Some of you inquired about his speech, and he was only too happy to comply. It’s short — about 4 minutes in delivery, and shorter to read. Please enjoy.

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Acceptance speech for the Vern Bickel Grass Roots Award

“Will all the morons in the room please stand up?” said the professor to his new class. After a seemingly long, uncomfortable silence a young man stood up. “Sir,” quizzed the professor, “do you consider yourself to be a moron?” Haltingly the student answered, “Not really—I just hated to see you standing there all by yourself.”

When you’re a grassroots activist do you, like me, sometimes feel like you’re “standing there all by yourself”?

I’m honored to and grateful to the Independence Institute for this award. I publicly express the great gratitude I have for my wife Dottie, for her understanding and support, and for that of my three daughters and their families.

I was fortunate to spend five years as Director of Economic Affairs at Adolph Coors Company, learning, teaching, researching, writing and speaking economics, things like four magic words: Only people pay taxes.

A few things I like to tell:

  • Anticipating my first grandchild I wondered what Jake would owe for interest on the public debt. My tab when I was born (in 1995 dollars) was $77, a generation later Sheri’s was $284. Jake was born owing $1,265. Another generation and Jake’s child would owe $5,700 annual public debt interest, just by being born!
  • A handy question always is “Compared to what?” My eldest daughter [that’s me!] called for some tax data for her blog. I told her serfs in Merry Old England paid a third of the fruits of their labors to the manorial lord for his protection and use of his land. Today we pay 41%. That’s 25% federal and 16% to state-and-local governments.
  • 2008’s per-capita tax burden for public debt interest alone is nearly $1500, or about $6000 for a family of four, comprising 18% of the federal budget. That means all Americans work about two weeks for nothing–no government services, only for Congress’ past fiscal irresponsibility, to my view.
  • Politicians bragged about four years of budget surplus, 1998-2001, that should have reduced the public debt by $560 billion. It increased $960 billion. It was a $1.5 trillion lie.
  • My June 2003 Independence Institute paper, “A Decade of TABOR” [Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, passed in Colorado in 1992] showed the power of containing government. Ten years before the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, all job growth was 18%, about 248,000; ten years after, 35%, 586,000 jobs. Interestingly, between the two ten-year periods, government employment growth dropped from 21% to 20%; non-government jobs more than doubled to 38%.

How about the “dumbing down” of modern education? Bill Coors called it “contrived ignorance.” What the people don’t know makes them vulnerable and easily fooled. This brings forth two questions: 1) Who contrived it? And 2) How did they do it? That brings forth a third question: 3) What can we do about it?

Thomas Jefferson said, ‘If the people don’t have enough information to wield power correctly, don’t take the power from them. Give them the information.” That’s the answer I’ve worked for 20 years on two projects to accomplish just that.

Both projects go under the radar of modern education, from the people to the people, via email and the Internet. One is Project America, to teach quickly and effectively the power and majesty of America’s Freedom Documents—Declaration of Independence, United States Constitution and its incredibly important Bill of Rights, to get it into every head, heart and hand in the land.

The other is for the people to get Congressional spending under control with the One Percent Solution in the National Declaration of Fiscal Integrity. Implenting the projects will take citizens about 20 minutes a month.

Concluding, I tell you about my neighbor directly across the street. Their son was killed a month ago in Iraq. We went to their Fort Logan honorable last rites. On their car is a bumper sticker that says, “All gave some. My son gave all,” Staff Sergeant Kennith Mayne, and at the bottom, DOB, date of birth, and KIA, Killed in Action. If they can do what they do “over there” what can we be doing “over here”?

When I review who we are, where we came from and where we want to go, I consider each and every person a grassroots activist for personal freedom and political liberty, for limited government and self-governing people. Thanks for so generously supporting the Independence Institute and for all the good work you do. And thanks for the honor of this evening.

Thanks, Dad, for basically guest posting for me today. It goes a long way toward forgiving you for the whole You-MUST-watch-Free-to-Choose tug of war back when I was a teenager.

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Ms Melissa, who is now preselling her book, will call on the next person for Show & Tell. So get back in your chair!
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Show & Tell: Dad’s night

Is this Show & Tell Day or Career Day? No matter.

Fellow classmates, I bring to you My Dad, the Superhero. No, he’s not a fireman, an astronaut, or a rodeo clown.

He’s even more exciting.

He’s an economist. Da-da-da-daaaaaaa!

Earlier this month, my dad was honored by a Colorado-based think tank for his legacy of community activism and political mentorship.


The Independence Institute awarded the Vern Bickel Award for Grassroots Leadership to Dad during their annual Founders Night.

Because of his VIP status, my mom, my sister, and our husbands were able to crash drink at this hoity-toity party and even dine at Table #1 with President Jon Caldara (even if you disagree with him, you’re sure to find him entertaining) and keynote speaker Michelle Malkin.

(Gino, Tami, Dad, Mom, me, Roger)

After Dad received his award, he gave an incredible speech about
responsibility and sacrifice, freedom and liberty, the lengths people will go to gain it, and how easily it can be lost.
I was moved nearly to tears by pride for my upstanding and eloquent Dad. I think showing off a bit about him is appropriate for Show & Tell, don’t you?


Ready for recess? First check out the other Showers & Tellers in Ms Melissa’s room.