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Richard Larsen: We Need a “Black Friday” for Government

November 30th, 2011 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Black Friday occurs the day after Thanksgiving, and signifies the day when most retailers go into the “black,” or profitability, for the year. For understandable reasons, it’s a day highly anticipated by retailers, and by consumers, for there are typically “killer deals” offered to draw traffic into the stores.

If national governments weren’t so dysfunctional, every nation would have a Black Friday equivalent, when revenue would catch up with expenditures, and there would be no budgetary deficit. European countries right now have to be wishing they could celebrate such a day, as several European countries are currently undergoing the equivalent of a fiscal colonoscopy being by exogenous institutions, the European Union and the European Central Bank, because they cannot get a handle on government spending. Many European nations have expenditures far outpacing their tax revenue, but the most pressing to the EU now are Greece and Italy. Their appetite for spending has pressed the EU to the verge of collapse.

Here at home, we find our own country sprinting toward the precipice of fiscal collapse with yearly spending at $3.7 trillion exceeding tax receipts of $2.2 trillion by 60%. We’re just $500 billion short of spending twice as much as we receive in tax revenues. In July, congress infamously raised the debt ceiling from $14 trillion, and in just four months, we’ve already surpassed $15 trillion. Anyone with any cognitive capacity can clearly see this is unsustainable. At what point such debt causes financial implosion is unclear.

But we may be getting the signals that we’re not that far away. China is the number one buyer of U.S. debt, in the form of bonds, notes, and bills. This week, after the “Super Committee” of twelve congressmen and senators was unable to reach any compromise on reducing spending, Xinhua, the official state news source had some unusually harsh words for our lawmakers. “Washington’s political elites … are obligated to muster the courage to defuse the ticking debt bomb and start to show the world they have the wisdom and determination not to further jeopardize the fragile global economic recovery,” Xinhua said. I’m inclined to think they chose their words carefully, especially in reference to “the ticking debt bomb.” Implosion could well occur when the Chinese are no longer willing to take the risk associated with buying our debt.

And no wonder they’re so concerned. Just four years ago our total debt (not counting unfunded entitlements) was at $7.2 trillion, with a budget of $2.5 trillion and a deficit of $252 billion. Even while fighting two wars, the projections indicated the deficit would be erased by 2011. Now, at $15 trillion of debt, a yearly budget of $3.7, and a deficit of $1.4 trillion, our “leaders” have dug a fiscal hole so deep it is questionable if we can ever climb out of it.

Just since 2008, the five largest growth areas in spending have added significantly to the total debt and the yearly deficit. Spending has increased by 30% in federal pensions; 50% in health care; 30% in national defense; 60% in federal welfare; and 50% in discretionary spending. And we should not forget that former Speaker Nancy Pelosi failed to even pass a budget for two years, as required by law. That’s like giving a spend-thrift spouse a no-limit credit card and telling her or him to go buy all the influence and power a limitless credit line can buy!

Yet with all that spending, the super committee couldn’t come up with $1.2 trillion savings over the next ten years. The Congressional Budget Office projects from 2012-2021 government spending will total $46.05 trillion. That means they couldn’t agree on a nickels worth of spending cuts!

Tax increases are economically unviable in our present condition. Peer reviewed research by former head of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, Christina Romer, illustrates how an exogenous tax increase of 1% of GDP reduces real GDP by 2-3%. With our real GDP at under 3%, we can’t afford tax increases to reduce economic growth any more. We need jobs more than anything, and a contracting economy is decimating to job growth.

According to IRS data, 1.93% of Americans make over $250K per year. If we taxed 100% of their income, we could generate $1.41 trillion, which would be enough to cover the deficit. But that would be fiscal suicide, for that revenue would be nonexistent for all future years.

It wasn’t lack of revenue that got us into the problem we’re now in, it was a lack of discipline on spending. If the country is fiscally salvageable, it will come from a serious attempt to unwind some of the recent spending increases, and then look at potential revenue “enhancements” to make up some of the difference if necessary. We cannot tax our way out of the problem without destroying job growth, but we can, with discipline and some backbone, cut our way out of it.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Pocatello Issues, Politics in General, Presidential Politics, Taxes | 1 Comment »

David Ripley: Thank You, Barney

November 29th, 2011 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

In his greatest act of public service, Congressman Barney Frank announced that he will not seek another term.
Liberals lauded his extensive career, in which he managed to push policies leading to extensive economic instability.
But we remember him for his exuberant support for Planned Parenthood’s deadly agenda. Perhaps a few babies will live now that he will be leaving the Congress.
To read more: click here.

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Posted in Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Politics in General | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Developing and Attitude of Gratitude

November 22nd, 2011 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

Much of the space dedicated to this section of the paper is spent in analyzing, opining, and criticizing elements of the body politic and problems with the world, our nation, and our community. In spite of all that we find that needs fixing around us, one of the worst things we could do is to be ungrateful for all that we should be thankful for.

It’s sometimes difficult to think in those terms. We are often overwhelmed at the daunting challenges and vicissitudes of life that we face on a daily basis. Problems with health, the loss of a loved one, financial woes, the loss of a job, problems with a marriage or with children, often consume us emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Yet somehow we find ways to deal with our personal crucibles, to surmount our challenges, and crest our Everests.

The human spirit, if not doused with loss of hope, can be indomitable. We find ways to deal with, overcome, and survive our ordeals. We find solutions to our woes and answers to life’s tough questions. Often such resolution comes from insights, counsel, and wisdom from a loved one. Other times they come from unseen founts of wisdom and loving arms of solace after earnest and heartfelt pleadings to our Maker.

But as arduous and challenging as life can be, for all of us in one way or another, there is always much to be grateful for. Come Thanksgiving Day, we may have naught for a family dinner, but kind, generous friends or members of the community will bid you join their community feast.

We may be of bad health, but hopefully some things are still working fine. We may be struggling financially, but we’re still together as a family. We may have a child struggling with his or her own inner demons, yet as long as there is love, there is hope. To everything there is a silver lining. It may be obscured by our preoccupation with our trials, but it’s there. Sometimes we just have to look a little harder to find it.

I’m convinced that many of the social and cultural problems we face today are the result of a loss of a collective sense of gratitude. Rather than being grateful for what we have and the blessings that we enjoy, although sparse they may sometimes seem to us, we focus on what we don’t have, or what we think we deserve or we’re entitled to. This lack of gratitude is concomitant with a narcissism and egoism, and reveals a deep character flaw of absence of humility.

In my estimation, no one has captured this sentiment better than a former president of the LDS Church. Gordon Hinkley said some years ago, “Our society is afflicted by a spirit of thoughtless arrogance unbecoming those who have been so magnificently blessed. How grateful we should be for the bounties we enjoy. Absence of gratitude is the mark of the narrow, uneducated mind. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge and the ignorance of self-sufficiency. It expresses itself in ugly egotism and frequently in wanton mischief….

“Where there is appreciation, there is courtesy, there is concern for the rights and property of others. Without appreciation, there is arrogance and evil. Where there is gratitude, there is humility, as opposed to pride.”

In a rather simplistic fashion, we have the proverbial conundrum of whether the glass is half full, or half empty. In our individual lives, it all depends on how we choose to look at things, and whether we choose to focus on the deficiencies in our lives or on the bounties that we enjoy. And that’s all a matter of attitude.

The evangelical author and pastor, Chuck Swindoll, made a statement years ago that has profoundly shaped my perspective about life, and about gratitude itself. He said, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

May we all choose an attitude of gratitude, looking for the light at the end of the tunnel, and the silver lining to the dark and ominous clouds in our lives. May we express our gratitude to one another, manifest by acts of courtesy and respect. And most importantly, may we express daily our immense dependence upon, and gratitude to God. Not just for this Thanksgiving season, but for everyday of our lives.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues | No Comments »

David Ripley: Obamacare Increases Uninsureds

November 15th, 2011 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

By any measure, ObamaCare is already a tremendous failure. New estimates developed by the Gallup organization indicate that some 4.5 million Americans have lost their health insurance since Obama signed his dream act into law.
When Congress was debating the legislation, the Congressional Budget Office – probably under intense pressure from Princess Nancy and Democrat leaders – claimed that the number of insured Americans would actually increase in the first year of federalized health care. By some 6 million.

That means we are something on the order of 10 million families behind the estimates CBO used to calculate the cost of ObamaCare. Put another way, those people should be on private insurance plans, reducing the public cost of covering uninsured families. So not only do we see the problem of health care access growing under the president’s plan, we are experiencing rising costs.

To say that those outcomes are the exact opposite of what Pelosi and Obama promised the American people is to understate the matter.

Critics pointed out that federalization would naturally destroy the private insurance sector, or at least make it a wholly-owned subsidiary of the government. That could only increase costs and bureaucracy. It is simply a law of nature that anything the government subsidizes becomes more expensive.

This problem is coming to Idaho. The state’s insurance lobby is already working overtime to force Idaho legislators to go along with a plan to create Obama’s “insurance exchange” here. Their calculus is that they must aggressively move to get a piece of the federal subsidies – or be forced out of the health insurance market altogether. This will no doubt be one of the signature issues of the 2012 session.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Veterans’ Sacrifices in Our Behalf

November 14th, 2011 by Halli

By Richard Larsen

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” There is no more humbling a realization than that there are others who are willing to sacrifice their comforts, and even their lives, for the preservation of mine. Nothing trumps the acknowledgement that the Lamb of God laid his down for me. But the sense of awe that results from knowing there are mere mortal men and women willing to do that for me on a daily basis comes awfully close.

Veteran’s Day morning I saw a touching picture of my nephew kissing his newborn daughter Molly goodbye as he headed off to “work.” Jim’s “work” is training Marines who have volunteered to protect us and preserve us a nation, and he was dressed in his “work clothes,” Marine greens. For one moment in time, the essence of the humanity, the love, the decency, and the compassion of our military personnel were all captured for me in a single still photo of a noble young man who served two tours in Iraq.

Thinking of him heading off to work to train those fellow Marines reminded me of a statement made once by John Stuart Mill, the English philosopher. He said, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. A man who has nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance at being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

What an insight, We frequently see bumper stickers affixed to cars ahead of us that naively proclaim, “War is not the answer.” Actually it depends on what the question is. If the question is, “Should we sacrifice our liberty and our freedom for the sake of peace?” the answer is indeed war, unequivocally.

The United States through its military strength has freed more people worldwide from oppression and tyranny than any other nation in the history of the world. And unlike previous world powers, or what some among us would have us believe, we don’t do it for empire building or colonial purposes. The only ground we retain after a war is enough to bury our fallen soldiers. It seems that it’s beneficial for a nation to be a battle zone for America, for not only do we extirpate the nefarious and bellicose elements in a country, but we rebuild the country and attempt to leave it in better shape than what we found it in.

There is nothing glorious in war. Would to God that it would never be necessary. However, as long as there are evil men in the world who tyrannically seek unrighteous dominion over others, war will necessarily be a part of the human experience. Regrettably, sometimes war is the answer. And we should be ever grateful for those who through the years, whether willingly or unwillingly, sacrificed for us.

We have a corps of one and a half million men and women who serve actively in our volunteer military, with an additional million or so in the reserves, many of whom have been activated over the past decade. We have an additional 23 million still living who have proudly worn our nation’s uniform in both wartime and peacetime, while fighting for our liberties, our interests, and the safety and security of countless others around the globe.

Among all who have served, the most heartrending of all, to me, is those who were conscripted or voluntarily served during the 60s and 70s in the most unpopular of our wars, and returned not to a heroes welcome, but to ignominy. It’s demoralizing to think that many of those who spat upon and hurled discreditable epithets at our returning Vietnam veterans now are politicians, academicians, Hollywood celebrities, and “respected” members of society.

Those who served in Vietnam deserve even more of our collective gratitude, since many served not of their own volition, but because of duty and a love of country. This they did rather than flee the country to escape conscription. Even more amazing is the fact that many who served in Vietnam did so voluntarily.

We have hundreds of our friends and neighbors who have answered the call to serve, to whom we are all deeply indebted. They would all say that the only real heroes are the ones who never returned home. But to us, you’re all heroes.

America and all who love freedom thank each of you who served, you and your families, for your sacrifices in our behalf. May we be worthy of your service, and do our part to protect and defend the constitution against enemies foreign and domestic, as you have done.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Pocatello Issues | No Comments »

Richard Larsen: Administration Killing Jobs, Not Creating Them

November 4th, 2011 by Halli

Richard Larsen

Our economy continues to struggle, with unemployment staggeringly high, inflation eating away at the purchasing power of our dollar, and the Misery Index (unemployment plus inflation) at a 28 year high. It’s critical that we understand how important job creation is to our economic stability, as well some of the greatest obstacles preventing the kind of job growth that our economy is capable of.

The total U.S. population is about 312 million people, with a labor force of about 154 million. Of those, 139 million have jobs, leaving 15 million unemployed, with current unemployment rate at 9.1% per the Department of Labor September Jobs Report. The Wall Street Journal estimates that the total unemployment figure is closer to 17% when counting those who have simply given up looking for work, which takes the unemployed count closer to 28 million. High unemployment is not only catastrophic for those unable to find work that want to, but for an economy like ours where 70% of the total GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is based on consumption, from gas, food and housing, to services and products.

According to the Labor Department, over 80% of the jobs in the U.S. are in the private sector, with state, local, and federal government employees making up the remaining 20%. And that’s even with public sector employment increasing 7% since 2000, and the private sector losing 1% during the same period. Economists estimate that 150,000 new jobs need to be created every month just to keep pace with our population growth and the number of new entrants into the job market.

Most critical to the employment landscape are small businesses that employee 500 or fewer employees. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses represent 99% of all employer firms, employ half of all private sector employees, pay 45% of total U.S. private payroll, generate 80% of new jobs annually, create more than 50% of nonfarm private GDP, comprise 97% of all identified exporters, and produce 26% of the known export value to our GDP.

Since employee costs, which include wages, employer-paid taxes on those wages, and employee benefits including health care, are typically the largest expense item of a small business, businesses are reluctant to add new employees until or unless warranted by market conditions.

Government regulation adds significantly to the costs associated with running a business. Earlier this year the Small Business Administration reported that regulation costs American business $1.75 trillion per year, and costs small businesses as much as $10,585 per employee.

Some regulation is needful to protect consumers, the environment, and workers. But much of it adds needlessly to business costs. According to the Federal Register there are more than 4,200 new regulations in the pipeline. Most of these are being implemented by the federal bureaucracy, and not tied to legislation coming out of congress, and that doesn’t include the 2,000 pages of new regulations imposed by Obamacare. Some of the more inane regulations are coming from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) like regulating farm dust as a pollutant, imposing illogically demanding requirements on energy producers, and regulating the manufacturing sector like never before with extreme emission demands. Obama did warn that his policies would make “energy prices skyrocket.” That’s one promise he’s keeping, but regrettably, they are destroying jobs and livelihoods as well.

The Hill reports that new regulations imposed by an out-of-control EPA will “cause economic activity in much of the country would grind to a halt. Construction would slow. Energy prices would rise. Businesses would be unable to expand. Large parts of the country would be off-limits to new industry.” These extreme regulations put our energy producers and small businesses, including farms, at risk of going out of business, or raising costs so much that consumer and producer inflation will go out of sight.

The Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI has estimated the cost could be as high as 7.3 million jobs by 2020 and add $1 trillion in new regulatory costs per year between 2020 and 2030 for just one of those new regulations.

Senator John Barasso of Wyoming said recently, “Our economy is continuing to sink and it’s being weighed down by regulations coming out of this administration.”

The President’s proposed jobs bill is simply an attempt to throw more money at the unemployment problem. If he was serious about job creation, he would call off the dogs at the EPA and the rest of the alphabet soup of government agencies and start reducing regulation rather than illogically increasing it. Reduction in regulation would cost less and have far more positive affect in job creation than throwing more of our tax money at the problem.

Jobs by small businesses are the backbone to our economic system, and as such, are the key to our economic stability and growth. Government encroachment through increased regulation stymies economic and job growth. If the president was truly interested in creating new jobs, he should first stop his bureaucracy from killing them.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Guest Posts, Presidential Politics | No Comments »

David Ripley: Risch & Crapo Honored by FRC

November 4th, 2011 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

The Family Research Council announced this week that it gave its “True Blue” Award to both Idaho Senators – Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.
Idaho’s servants in Washington were recognized by the pro-family group for their 100% records on key family issues – including the defense of preborn children. They were among just 8 members of the U.S. Senate to earn a 100% grade.

Senator Crapo issued a statement in which he said, “Voting to defend traditional, pro-family policies in Washington is just part of the overall effort to protect the family.”

“This award is just a reflection of the values of Idahoans,” said Sen. Risch. “They have placed a great trust in me to represent their pro-family values in Washington.”

Tony Perkins, head of FRC, singled out the senators’ votes to defund Planned Parenthood, repeal ObamaCare, and prevent tax-funding of abortions as critical components of their record.

We offer our congratulations to these fine men, and express our gratitude that Idaho is so blessed.

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Posted in Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | No Comments »

David Ripley: Staggering Corruption in Kansas

November 2nd, 2011 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

We have followed the scandal in Kansas for many years, and each new chapter surpasses the last. It is difficult to believe the level of moral and political corruption on display as various public figures go to increasing lengths to protect Planned Parenthood.

The nation’s largest abortion racket has escaped justice for many years, despite overwhelming evidence that it has flouted several state laws dealing with underage abortions, as well as late-term abortions. There has still been no trial on the 107-count criminal complaint filed against the organization in 2007. The organization’s primary defender has been Kathleen Sebelius – now Obama’s Secretary of Health & Human Services.

For years, Sebelius-appointed judges on the State Supreme Court have gleefully stymied prosecution, focusing instead on a witch-hunt against the righteous man who sought justice for the many children victimized by Planned Parenthood.

We now learn that Sebelius ordered Planned Parenthood documents shredded while she was governor of Kansas. That may make a successful prosecution of the abortion racketeers impossible.

Kansas has begun to turn the corner on political corruption with the election of Sam Brownback as governor. But it will probably take many years to undo the damage Kathleen Sebelius has done to the justice system in that state. Meanwhile this morally damaged woman continues to wreak havoc with the nation’s health care system. The next presidential election cannot come soon enough.

To learn more about the Kansas scandal, see Michelle Malkin.

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Posted in Constitutional Issues, Family Matters, Guest Posts, Idaho Pro-Life Issues | No Comments »

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