Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Runaway Train

Have you noticed how liberals try to deflate any criticism of Obama & Co.'s Armageddon-style spending by saying that George W. Bush also spent wildly? This is a tactic for avoiding debate, and they can not be allowed to get away with it.

Since many people think the federal deficit and national debt are the same thing, let me begin by explaining that the deficit is a one-year figure and the debt is a cumulative one. The deficit shows how much more the government spent than it took in during a given year, whereas the debt is the combined amount of all the deficits since our country was founded. Naturally, the debt gets bigger (and harder to pay off) every year the government runs a deficit.

Regarding Bush spending versus Obama spending, it must be said that the largest deficit during Bush's entire tenure was less than one-third of the deficit in Obama's first year -- and Obama's own administration is forecasting that the deficit will be even higher in his second and third years.

As a percentage of the country's GDP (gross domestic product) the deficits during the Bush years averaged 1.97% and peaked during his first term at 3.48%, which was only the 11th highest of all the deficits since World War II. By comparison, Obama's first deficit was 9.91% of GDP and this year's is expected to be 10.64%, making them the two highest since World War II -- a title they "win" by a wide margin, since the 3rd highest was 5.88% and happened 27 years ago.

Think about this: The federal government gets its money by confiscating it from its citizens' paychecks, and the amount it will spend this year comes out to $36,000 per household. Even kindergarteners can figure out that this course is unsustainable, and that Obama & Co. have decided to floor the accelerator of a car that was already heading toward a cliff.

Did Bush spend too much? Absolutely. One hundred percent yes. And conservatives were consistently critical of him for doing so, just as they were critical of the GOP congress that controlled the purse strings for six of his eight years in office. But as the numbers show, Obama's spending is so out-of-control that it makes Bush's look trivial. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying or ignorant.

Figures in this post were obtained from the government's Mid-Session Budget Review,, The Heritage Foundation, and National Review Online.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Boss

As everyone by now knows, George Steinbrenner died this morning at the age of 80. I learned the news as I was preparing to go into a meeting and overheard two co-workers talking.

I did not grow up a Yankees fan, but I did grow up in the Tampa Bay area, and for years this is where Steinbrenner has lived and based much of his business empire. And no matter what baseball fans think about his large payroll, or media softies think about the brusque image he often displayed in public, I know there was another side to the man everyone still calls The Boss.

Around these parts, stories of his generosity are as common as fireflies on a summer evening in the South. He was always willing to lend a hand to those in need, and he often lended it in private, away from the spotlight that public figures usually like to accompany them when they engage in charity.

With Steinbrenner's passing, part of me wants to salute his ambitious pursuit of victory, which was unfairly and unintelligently criticized while he lived. But another part of me simply wants to salute his charity and let that speak for itself. As you can probably tell from what I have already written, the latter part of me prevailed. Below, largely from a compilation published on, is a list of just some of the things George Steinbrenner has done:

1981 - Founder and prime contributor to the Gold Shield Foundation, which provides full college scholarships to the children of police officers and firefighters who die in the line of duty.

1984 - Sponsored a Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay Lou Piniella testimonial dinner to raise $42,000 for a new administration building.

1988 - Anonymously paid for the Greater Tampa Urban League banquet costs.

1988 - Paid for the funeral and burial expenses of 22-year-old Denny Redden, a former high school football star.

1989 - Made a donation of $250,000 to the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine.

1997 - Covered travel expenses when Lake Airlines went bankrupt and left a British youth soccer team stranded in Tampa.

1997 through the present - Has sponsored a Yankee luncheon every spring to benefit the Boys and Girls Club.

Since 1996 has invited 2 to 3 high school bands to perform at Spring Training games donating game tickets, transportation, and $1,000 to each band.

1989 - Reached out to Johnny Russo, a 2 year-old cancer victim, by giving him Yankees equipment and autographs, and contributed to his hospital expenses.

Since 1989 has underwritten the Florida Orchestra Children's Christmas Concerts each year.

1990 - Founder and benefactor of the Hillsborough County Florida Coaches Foundation which honors public and private high school coaches and their wives.

Assisted in providing lighting systems for the University of Florida, Florida State University, University of South Florida, and several little league baseball fields.

Paid for college educational expenses for 50 needy and deserving students.

1990 - Underwrote several pop concerts featuring the Tampa Symphony Orchestra and Skitch Henderson.

1991 - Hosted and paid for a dinner for the Salesian Sisters in Tampa to help build an infirmary.

1991 - Master of Ceremonies at the "Red, White, and Blue" celebration at Tampa Stadium.

1991 - After discovering a bus full of Boys and Girls Club kids broken down en route to Busch Gardens, he purchased their lunch and arranged transportation for the remainder of their trip.

1991 - Made an anonymous donation of $35,000 to Hillsborough County Public Schools to benefit underprivileged high school athletes.

1991 - Honored with the 1992 Golden Baton Award by the Florida Orchestra Guild of St. Petersburg.

1991 - Pledged $500,000 to help build a separate pediatric emergency center at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa. (Coincidentally, St. Joseph's is the same hospital where he passed away this morning.)

1992 - Inducted into the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame.

1992 - Was the prime mover in having Tampa serve as the processing center and debarkation point for 1,600 U.S. Olympic participants.

1992 - Provided funds for Ron Karnaugh, an Olympic athlete, to enter medical school after his father died of a heart attack.

1992 - Volunteered to drive boiled water to a storm ravaged area after Hurricane Andrew hit Miami.

1992 - After learning of the cancellation of the junior high school championship games in Hillsborough County due to budget problems, he underwrote the expenses for the games.

From 1993 through 2007 he donated a van to the Children's Home of Tampa each year.

1993 - Received Tampa Citizen of the Year award for community service.

1993 - Mr. and Mrs. Steinbrenner received an "Outstanding American Award" from the Boys and Girls Club of America.

1994 - Donated $50,000 to Illinois farmers hurt by flooding.

From 1994 through 1996 he underwrote the cost of high school and youth football games at Tampa Stadium.

1994 - Received the "Community Leader Award" from the Federal Law Enforcement Association.

1994 - Received the "Distinguished Service Award" from the Tampa Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame.

1994 - Selected by Florida State Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford to head the Florida State Fair Authority.

1995 - Received Liberty Bell Award (Law Day USA) Hillsborough County Bar

1996 - Received "Governor's Outstanding Citizen Award" from Kiwanis International.

1997 - Financed bringing the Florida High School State Baseball Championship Tournament to Tampa.

1997 - King of Gasparilla (an annual festival in Tampa that dates back to 1904 and somehwat resembles Mardi Gras)

1997 - Donation to sixty-nine 4H entrants

1997 - Donation to proposed renovation of historic Centro Espanol in West Tampa.

1997 - Favorite Sons/Daughters Award, Hillsborough County Convention

1997 - Ambassador Award by the Tampa Hillsborough convention and visitors Association.

1997 - State of Indiana "Pathfinder Award" recognizing his extraordinary service to youth

1997 - Received "Voice of Children Award" presented by the Children's Home Society of Florida.

1998 - Recognition for excellent work for the U.S. Olympics while serving as Vice President of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

1998 - Donated $10,000 to Inner City Boys Choir after their musical instruments were stolen.

1998 - Made $200,000 pledge to reestablish an extramural athletic program in Hillsborough County schools for the county's 34 middle schools, serving 6,500 sixth through eighth graders.

1998 - Summary of recent assistance furnished by Mr. Steinbrenner to the community.

1999 - Received "Citizen of the Year Award," Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner.

2000 - Received "Joseph Moore Award" from Egypt Temple Shrine in Tampa for "Recognition of Outstanding Community Service".

2001 - Article in Tampa Tribune dated May 13, 2001, extolling George Steinbrenner's civic responsibility.

Provided facility funding and staff to host the state baseball tournament at Legends Field (now George M. Steinbrenner Field) for 8 years.

Gave $15,000 to Hillsborough County Public Schools Athletics Department to purchase additional equipment and supplies.

Gave $10,000 to help fund the first rubberized track at Gaither High School.

Gave $2,500 to help host state soccer.

Gave $2,000 to help host state cross country.

Major sponsor for the Tampa Chapter of the National Football Foundation. The NFF honors our coaches, athletes, and scholar-athletes yearly.

Gave the funds necessary for the Gaither High School band to make up the difference between what the boosters had raised and the cost for travel and lodging for the 2004 Presidential Inaugural Parade.

Gave $10,000 to replace band instruments stolen from Hillsborough High School.

Sponsored the annual coaches dinner to honor coaches in all high school sports in Hillsborough County.

Donated a display case for the administrative office of Steinbrenner High School to display Yankees and Steinbrenner memorabilia, which his organization rotates on a regular basis.

Enough said. Rest in peace.

Update: And after publishing this post, I came across this anecdotal piece that illustrates the point I was trying to make.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

et ceteras

I already weighed in about Arizona’s immigration law and the nonsense reaction it has received from Obama & Co. Now, Obama’s misnamed Justice Department has sued Arizona, effectively declaring war on the states. The lawsuit is so baseless that it would be foolish to dismiss Jon Kyl’s allegation that our president is holding border security hostage to force his agenda on an unwilling public.

Speaking of that misnamed Justice Department, the MSM is continuing to ignore an evolving story surrounding the New Black Panthers. It started when members of that organization were videotaped engaging in threatening behavior at a polling place during the 2008 election, apparently trying to intimidate white voters who they assumed were not voting for Obama (you can see two of the videos here). According to a Justice Department whistleblower, after legal cases against those members had all but been won, higher-ups in the department: 1) ordered that the charges be dropped or drastically reduced, and 2) ordered him to not comply with a subpoena from the Civil Rights Commission. You can read more about the story here, here, and here.

Let’s see, is there anything else out there to darken your day when it comes to how untrustworthy our federal government is? Absolutely! Much ado is being made about Obama doing an “end around” of the Senate by using a recess appointment to make Donald Berwick the Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. While there are good reasons to criticize this example of a president exploiting his ability to make recess appointments, the main problem is that Obama wanted Berwick in the post at all, because Berwick’s devout beliefs on public health care are opposite to what Obama told us about his beliefs when he was trying to get support for Obamacare. For an excellent take on this issue, please allow me to refer you here.

I know this et ceteras has sounded downcast, but I am not a downcast kind of guy and I want to end on a positive note. Fortunately, I know what that note is. A former co-worker of mine (along with her husband and two others) has decided to open a faith-based outdoors store in Franklin, NC. Exactly how they will merge the themes, I don’t know -- but knowing this individual, I am confident they will do it, and because I usually find myself driving through Franklin a couple times each year, I will make a point to stop in and see. The store’s web site is here, and plans are for it to open in the fall. The principled entrepreneurship of its owners is what makes America great, and the fact that they are forging ahead in these times is a sign that the American spirit is alive and strong. And that is a positive thing indeed.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mankind's Greatest Hour

This weekend, as we fire up our grills and crack open our beers, let us remember why we even have a July 4th holiday: to commemorate the greatest act of shared, selfless courage the world has ever seen.

Everybody should know that Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence. Most people know the names of a handful of the 56 men who signed it, such as John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, and of course Jefferson himself. But few people seem to realize that when those men signed their names, they were committing what was considered an act of treason against the British crown, punishable by death. Those men were property owners who were successful in their lives and businesses. Their lives were comfortable and they stood to lose everything by signing the Declaration -- yet they chose to sign it anyway, because they knew that casting off the crown and forming a new government based on individual liberty was the right thing to do, not only for their own descendents but for all of humanity. And here is what happened to some of those men after they signed the Declaration:

Five of them became prisoners of war.

Nearly one-sixth of them died before the war ended.

British forces burned, and/or looted, the homes and properties of nearly one-third of them.

When the British did that to the property of William Floyd, he and his family fled and spent the next seven years living as refugees without income. His wife died two years before the war ended.

After being forced into the wilderness by British forces, John Hart struggled to make his way home. When he finally got there, he found that his wife was dead and his 13 children were missing. He died without ever seeing them again.

Richard Stockton was dragged from his bed and sent to prison while his property was ravaged. From the day of his release from prison until the day he died, he had to rely on charity from others to feed his family.

Francis Lewis’s wife was imprisoned and beaten. Meanwhile, his wealth was plundered. His last years were spent as a widower living in poverty.

Thomas Nelson Jr.’s home was captured and occupied by British General Cornwallis, who used it as what we would now call an operations center. Therefore, Nelson ordered his troops to destroy his own home with cannon fire during the Battle of Yorktown. To assist in funding the war, he used his own credit to borrow 2 million dollars, which today would equal about 25
billion dollars. Repaying that debt bankrupted him, and when he died he was buried in an unmarked grave.

It is a safe bet that fewer than one percent of our citizens have ever heard of these people, much less know anything about the devastating sacrifices they made so that future generations could have the freedom necessary to build the kind of upwardly-mobile, always-progressing society we now take for granted.

The Founding Fathers bequeathed us a wonderful gift called America, and we owe it to our children to make sure we don’t allow that gift to be destroyed. We should never hear the words “Fourth of July” without feeling a skip in our heart and a tear in our eye.

Much thanks to Jeff Jacoby, Paul Harvey, and all the others who have written and spoken about the fates of the signers, to keep their story alive.