The Generation America Philosophy
An Open Letter from the Founder – Part I
I started Generation America in 2008 out of frustration with AARP, its liberal politics and how it put its profits before the general welfare of Americans over 50. AARP’s support for Obamacare – which will lead to billions of dollars in insurance revenues for AARP – was what turned my frustration into action.
So now, Generation America has become a reality. We are now a dynamic, growing and thriving community of conservative Americans over 50. We’re united by our love of country, our belief in American exceptionalism and our opposition to government programs that threaten to bankrupt the country. We’re members of the Baby Boom, the Greatest Generation and we’re people well into their seventies.
With this open letter to our members, I’d like to start a dialogue about our philosophy. This will be the first of several such letters to our members, and I invite you to respond – write us, e-mail us with your own thoughts and opinions. After all, you’re part of Generation America, too – the most crucial part. But today, I’d like to begin by drawing an important distinction: between us and AARP.
That distinction isn’t just political, but let’s start there. A lot of people don’t know that the woman who founded AARP, a retired California school teacher, was actually a political conservative. She simply wanted to find a way for retired educators, to leverage the power of community to be able to purchase inexpensive insurance. Later, the organization she began was hijacked, becoming a giant insurance company – and a leading liberal political organization.
That said, this is how your Generation America is different. First, we are founded on conservative political principles. We believe in smaller government, not larger government. We believe that America is a unique place in the world, with a history worth learning and understanding, as well as a future that should remain exceptional. We believe strongly, passionately, in individual liberty. And we believe, unlike AARP, that our members come first.
This is reflected in the everyday work we do for you. We add new benefits nearly every single week, from hearing aids to prescription cards to insurance. And when it comes to insurance, we are absolutely dedicated to matching and beating the savings that AARP has offered. Our members report saving hundreds, even thousands of dollars per year. One member, Charles, in Mesquite, Texas, reports saving $1,700 in home and auto insurance alone, just by purchasing it from Generation America. We are developing a great new benefit and as part of our philosophy, we plan not to charge our members the traditional fees that associations charge.
Why? Because the philosophy you’ve just read isn’t just a philosophy. It’s a way of life for the organization I founded, but that now belongs to you. I’ll have more reports and updates soon, showing how our philosophy informs what we do. In the meantime, I invite your thoughts and comments. Please e-mail us at email@example.com with your own thinking.
Thanks for reading. And thanks for being part of Generation America.
FreedomWorks: Congress Isn’t Cutting Spending
Over at FreedomWorks, analyst Julie Borowski is doing the hard work of carefully tracking how individual members of Congress are voting on spending cuts that the think tank is supporting. And the news is not good, says Borowski. FreedomWorks recently called for a 10 percent cut in spending at the Department of Homeland Security, for example, and the measure failed – in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives. On top of that, all the cuts FreedomWorks is backing in the Senate failed recently, too. Want to know how your representative voted? Click here.
Cato: Obama Whitewashing Auto Bailouts
Is President Obama being completely honest about the results of the bailouts the federal government provided the U.S. auto industry? Daniel Ikenson at the Cato Institute calculates that the administration isn’t including other hidden costs in its figures that justify the bailout. Among these, he argues, are: “the billions of dollars in property confiscated from the auto companies’ debt-holders; the higher risk premium built into U.S. corporate debt as a result; the costs of denying the other, more successful auto producers the spoils of competition … [and] the costs of rewarding irresponsible actors (like the UAW) by insulating them from the outcomes of what should have been an apolitical bankruptcy proceeding.” Read more here.
Heritage: Environmental Police Crack Down
Despite being in use as a technique for getting natural gas out of the ground since 1947, the practice of fracturing underground rock with water – known as “fracking” – has now drawn a lawsuit by the state of New York, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Ericka Anderson. Says Anderson: “Nevertheless, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opened the lawsuit Tuesday, against the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Interior Department and two of its sub-agencies, alleging that these federal agencies have violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).” Says Anderson, “Saving the fracking process from environment regulators will be critical in America’s effort to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.” Read more here.
Yemen Sliding toward Civil War
The Weekly Standard’s Katherine Zimmerman writes that Yemen is sliding toward civil war and that could mark a big victory for al-Qaeda on the Arab Peninsula. The president escaped a rocket attack last week as fighting engulfed the capital city. Says Zimmerman, “This latest episode is more evidence that the country where the most active al-Qaeda franchise has found sanctuary is sliding toward civil war. Countrywide protests have devolved into the beginnings of a broader armed conflict as defected military units join forces with tribal forces to fight the government.” Read more here.
Today in Opinion:
- Though President Obama and the Fed have tried three different stimulus plans to boost the economy out of recession, Lawrence Kudlow notes that none of them have worked thus far and that all three have actually pushed inflation higher. True growth is needed, he says, for the economy to recover.
- Defense Secretary Robert Gates is soon to leave office, and his recent speech made clear his views on the defense budget and the Pentagon’s priorities. Michael Barone outlines the speech and explains what it means to the future of defense spending.
- The Supreme Court recently ordered the state of California to release 46,000 convicted felons from its prison system in response to a case brought by the ACLU, which stated that the inmates’ rights were endangered. Larry Elder tells explains what makes the court’s decision so dangerous.
- Looking at the examples currently being set by European citizens unhappy with their countries’ economic and immigration policies, Tony Blankley predicts that the U.S. elections in 2012 will be swayed by our own citizens’ qualms about the same subjects.
- Considering that President Obama seems determined to stick to the same economic recovery tactics he’s used all along, to little avail, Lawrence Kudlow suspects his chances of re-election may not be as good as they were a few months ago.
Boneheaded Stimulus Never Works
With a flamboyant downgrade of the outlook for economic growth, jobs and profits, Wednesday’s 280-point Dow plunge to launch the so-called June stock swoon is a warning shot across the bow.
The Dow tanked alongside a batch of dismal economic data. The ISM manufacturing index, ADP employment, Case-Shiller home prices and consumer confidence are all pointing to 2 percent growth or less, rather than the kind of 5 percent growth we ought to be getting coming out of a deep recession.
The economy now looks like a Government Motors engine that’s stalling out. Or perhaps, with energy and food inflation, and housing deflation at the same time, the economy is acting like a pinball machine on permanent tilt.
There’s a key message here: Big-government stimulus never works.
First there was the massive Barack Obama stimulus spending. Then QE1. And now QE2 is winding down. And what did we get for all this? Slower growth overall, paltry job creation, more energy and commodities inflation, continued housing deflation, and virtually no new business start-up entrepreneurship.
We know the Obama spending package failed to create a 7 to 8 percent unemployment rate, as advertised. And now we’re learning that the Fed’s QE2 has actually done more harm than good.
All that money-printing stimulus worked to depreciate the dollar and jack up commodity prices, especially oil and gasoline, but also food. So both companies and consumers have been punished.
Some demand-side boneheads on Wall Street want the Fed to move to QE3, allegedly to fight a stalling economy. But if the central bank prints another $600 billion or so, all that will do is sink the greenback another 10 percent and drive oil and gasoline prices higher and higher. And that, in turn, will slow business and consumers even more.
The Japanese disaster is undoubtedly playing a role in the manufacturing slump — probably a bigger role than most economists predicted. Production supplies are scarce or nonexistent, especially for autos and electronics, but also for many other sectors of the economy.
Then, of course, there’s all the bad weather: hurricanes, tornadoes and floods have depressed all kinds of economic activity here at home.
There also are jitters about the ongoing saga in Greece. The potential for a Greek bond default and various credit-agency downgrades are taking a toll on stock markets around the world.
But this whole boom-and-bust monetary policy, with its blatant disregard for King Dollar, is a snare and a delusion. Stabilize the greenback by linking it to gold. Then move to the supply-side: Slash individual and business tax burdens, roll back enormous regulatory costs and stop the merciless threat of higher future taxes.
If there was a serious pro-growth movement in Washington to accelerate tax-reform overhaul and pin-back regulatory barriers like the National Labor Relations Board war with Boeing, the EPA war against energy and the Obamacare threats that are too numerous to count, that just might revive the animal spirits. But what we know for sure is that small businesses are barely hiring today, and that brand new start-ups are few and far between.
What’s lacking here is confidence.
No, we’re not going into a double-dip recession. The most important indicator is the Treasury yield curve, which is still very steeply sloped. And businesses are profitable. Those profits have been the backbone of what little growth we’ve had in the last two years. And they’re the mother’s milk of the stock market.
But the point is, without real growth policies, there’s not much to cheer about in the market or the economy. We’re muddling along. It could even be called a growth recession.
Wednesday’s 280-point Dow drop is cry for help. Is anybody listening?
COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM
Gates’s Verdict: Pentagon’s Biggest Enemy is Itself
Defense Secretary Robert Gates leaves office this month as widely respected as any public figure in America today, appreciated for his willingness to return to public service at a moment of high danger in Iraq and to faithfully serve presidents of both parties.
Initially skeptical of George W. Bush’s surge in Iraq, Gates did much to ensure its success. Not always in agreement with decisions of Barack Obama, he carried them out and defended them ably. Whether you agree or disagree with his decisions, it’s hard not to admire his intellectual honesty and candor.
All of which makes some observations in his valedictory speech at the American Enterprise Institute last week disturbing.
Gates spoke of “institutional obstacles in the Pentagon — cultural, procedural, ideological — to getting done what needed to get done” and the need for “fundamentally reshaping the priorities of the Pentagon.”
He insisted that the defense budget “is not the cause of this country’s fiscal woes,” but conceded that “as a matter of simple arithmetic and political reality,” defense cuts “must be at least part of the solution.”
He did not lament, as he might have, that Obama declined to put money into shovel-ready defense procurement in his stimulus package. Rather, Gates defended projected reductions in the future as being much less in percentage terms than the one-third decline in defense spending between 1985 and 1998, when the Pentagon went on “a procurement holiday.”
He noted that he cut or cancelled 30 procurement programs that would have cost $300 billion. But “the proverbial low-hanging fruit,” he said, “have not only been plucked, they have been stomped on and crushed.”
Moreover, he conceded that $700 billion in new procurement and R&D since 9-11 “has resulted in relatively modest gains in actual military capability.” The Pentagon’s “buying culture” has put us on “an unsustainable course, where more and more money is consumed by fewer and fewer platforms that take longer and longer to build.”
That sounds like we are headed to the future famously predicted by former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine that “in the year 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase just one aircraft,” to be shared by the Air Force and Navy, with the Marines getting it one day during leap year.
Gates also noted that his efforts to reduce “massive administrative and support bureaucracies” was “something akin to an Easter egg hunt. My staff and I learned that it was nearly impossible to get accurate information and answers to questions such as ‘how much money do you spend’ and ‘how many people do you have?’”
Gates recommended sweeping changes in military retirement rules and increases in co-payments and premiums in the Tricare health care system for military retirees — changes that he admitted will encounter fierce institutional and political resistance. Otherwise, increasingly large chunks of defense spending will go to things that don’t improve military capabilities.
All of which is dismaying to hear from an experienced and knowledgeable defense secretary in his fifth year in office. One of the problems of any successful military establishment — or, really, of any longstanding bureaucracy — is that it becomes encrusted by enormous dysfunctional barnacles which make it increasingly difficult to cruise ahead on its appointed missions. Pretty enormous barnacles, to hear Gates tell it, and really hard to scrape off.
In his memoir From the Shadows, written after he left the CIA directorship in 1993, Gates likened the U.S. national security apparatus to a giant ship that changes course only with great difficulty and much less sharply from one administration to another than suggested by political rhetoric.
In that context, his speech last week sounded almost like a throwing up of hands. He accepted without demur the current president’s top-line limits on defense spending, and he acknowledged that he is leaving hugely difficult challenges for his successors. He noted that over the last 30 years we have never once predicted in advance where our military forces will be engaged — there will always be plenty of what his predecessor Donald Rumsfeld called unknown unknowns.
“The American military will remain the greatest deterrent against aggression and the most effective means of preserving peace,” he insisted. But at best it will be “a smaller, superbly capable military” that “will be able to go to fewer places and be able to do fewer things.”
An optimistic vision of the future, but a scarily modest one.
COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM
Supreme Court to California: “Release the Hounds”
“Today the court affirms what is perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation’s history.” So began Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s enraged dissent.
Release up to 46,000 convicted felons, the court recently ordered the state of California. In a 5-4 decision, the court gave California two years to reduce its prison “overcrowding” — or set tens of thousands free. The ACLU, which brought the suit, successfully argued that poor prison conditions violated the prisoners’ rights as a class, not individually, thus the threat of mass premature release.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, in his majority opinion, agreed with the lower court, which said that overcrowding and an undermanned medical staff mean “an inmate in one of California’s prisons needlessly dies every six to seven days.” California houses 143,000 inmates in 33 adult prisons designed for 80,000. The prison conditions, including under-treatment for the mentally ill, wrote Kennedy, “[fall] short of minimum constitutional requirements.”
Where to start with this outrageous decision?
First, elections matter. A Republican president would have seated neither Sonia Sotomayor nor Elena Kagan, who together comprised two-fifths of the majority. President Barack I-look-for-justices-with-empathy Obama filled two liberal vacancies with two liberal justices. Given that the major Republican presidential candidates promised to seat justices in the mold of Chief Justice John Roberts or Justice Sam Alito, this decision would have gone 6-3 the other way.
Second, criminals commit crimes when not locked up. Alito, in a separate dissent, wrote: “In the early 1990s, federal courts enforced a cap on the number of inmates in the Philadelphia prison system, and thousand of inmates were set free. Although efforts were made to release only those prisoners who were least likely to commit violent crimes (emphasis added), that attempt was spectacularly unsuccessful. During an 18-month period, the Philadelphia police rearrested thousands of these prisoners for committing 9,732 new crimes. Those defendants were charged with 79 murders, 90 rapes, 1,113 assaults, 959 robberies, 701 burglaries and 2,748 thefts, not to mention thousands of drug offenses.” These, of course, are only the ones who got caught and were charged.
Where’s the “empathy” for the future victims of crime? Alito attacked this “premature release of approximately 46,000 criminals — the equivalent of three Army divisions.” Even if California somehow managed to release only “nonviolent” prisoners, a 2004 study by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that, after release, one out of every five “nonviolent” criminals are re-arrested for violent crimes — including murder.
Third, the dissents concede that some prisoners have died and some have inadequate medical care due to overcrowding. But the number is small and declining. Not all of the up to 46,000 will have suffered, let alone equally. “Most of them,” wrote Scalia, “will not be prisoners with medical conditions or severe mental illness; and many will undoubtedly be fine physical specimens who have developed intimidating muscles pumping iron in the prison gym.” They are, after all, convicted felons deserving of nothing more than protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
Housing 200 prisoners in a gym violates the Eighth Amendment — for all 200? Fifty-four men per one bathroom violates the Eighth Amendment — for all 54? Surely there are ways of addressing the overcrowding short of one of the largest court-ordered mass prisoner releases in U.S. history.
What’s more, in January 2010, California’s “non-revocable parole law” went into effect. It grants the release, without parole supervision, of “less-serious” offenders that a computer program predicts are unlikely to re-offend. An inspector general report found that the computer was wrong 23.5 percent of the time in assessing 10,000 inmates under consideration for early release during the first seven months of the new law. One thousand five hundred were improperly released, including 450 carrying “a high risk for violence.”
Fourth, what gives courts the expertise to direct a state on how to run a prison system? “Three years of law school and familiarity with pertinent Supreme Court precedents,” wrote Scalia, “give no insight whatsoever into the management of social institutions. … [T]he problems of prisons in America are complex and intractable. … Running a prison is an inordinately difficult undertaking that requires expertise, planning and the commitment of resources. …” This is the job of the legislature, not the courts.
Finally, what does this order say about California, a state that produces an annual “structural deficit” between $20 billion and $30 billion? Its tax-the-rich, three-to-one Democrat vs. Republican electorate recently returned to the governorship the same man who, in the ’70s, granted collective bargaining rights to public employee unions, one of the reasons for the state’s pathetic job-killing fiscal condition.
California owes $500 billion dollars in unfunded pension liabilities to its public employees. Prison guards, backed by the strongest union in the state, earn $71,000 per year before overtime. Texas pays its guards an average of $31,000. It costs California $47,000 to house an inmate each year, versus $18,000 in Texas.
The effect of California’s welfare-state-supporting, “environmentally conscious,” self-destructive left-wing policies has failed to convince voters to re-think. Maybe the impending murders will.
COPYRIGHT 2011 LAURENCE A. ELDER
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM
Out of Deficit, More Democracy
While Western media continue to rhapsodize about the “Arab Spring democratic revolutions” in the Middle East, it may be that the real democratic revolution is beginning to occur in the European Union and the United States. And if the timing is right, the crisis in the European Union may play a decisive part in tipping the American electorate against President Obama and the Democrats in our 2012 elections.
Both by their votes and their demonstrations, the semi-enfranchised citizens of nations under the rule of the European Union are beginning to fight back against both the social welfare/debt and immigration/border policies that have been imposed on them.
The governing elite’s social welfare/debt policies are hollowing out the prosperity of hardworking Europeans, while exposing beneficiaries of the social largesse to the imminent withdrawal of payments and subsidies to which these many millions of people have become habituated.
At the same time, the elite’s immigration and multicultural policies are seen to be undercutting the ancient indigenous cultures of Europe. Punctuating the slowly developing anger of indigenous Europeans to their government’s multicultural policies is the shock of seeing hundreds of thousands of poor refugees from the “Arab Spring democratic revolutions” flooding Europe in a matter of weeks — forcing the hapless European governments to reverse on a dime their long-standing open-borders policy and try to reestablish border and passport control.
Thus, governments from Spain to France to Ireland to Italy to Germany are under fiercely increasing public pressure to abandon the rule and diktat of the European Union and once again try to protect the national interest — not the “European” interest.
Note that the voters are aroused in both the nations whose debt can no longer be locally paid and in those nations who are being asked to pay the debts of foreign countries. That is to say that the European social welfare/deficit/debt problem has outraged both the debtors and the creditors. It takes a singularly disconnected and arrogant elite to create a set of policies that satisfies neither creditor nor debtor.
Both Euro economic and cultural/immigrant policies have been the cause of weakened European governments (from Finland to Germany to Spain and beyond) in the elections of 2009 and the more-recent elections. Caught in the pincers of these two issues that are emerging (in the eyes of many middle-class European voters) as existential to their culture, we should expect to see some existing governments fall by vote — or just as conceivably by other means.
We are observing a rare process: Stark economic and cultural reality is neutering conventional political methods. Established European political parties and politicians may be become extinct quite suddenly.
So far, the primary political beneficiaries of this crisis are third, fourth and fifth parties — some of them considered disreputable by the tottering elites:
In the Netherlands, the heroic Geert Wilders’s Freedom Party; in Hungary, the center-right Fidesz Party and the anti-immigrant, hard-right Jobbik Party; in Austria, the right-wing Freedom Party and the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZO); in Denmark, the hard-right Danish People’s Party; in Italy, the anti-immigrant Northern League; in Finland, the anti-illegal immigrant, Euro-skeptic True Finns Party; in Britain, the racist British National Party and the libertarian, anti-EU United Kingdom Independence Party; in France, Jean-Marie (and now his daughter Marine) Le Pens’s patriotic National Front. There are others in almost every European country.
Meanwhile, here in the United States, the same two issues (social-spending-driven deficit/debt crisis and de facto open borders and multiculturalism) are dividing the country — though our media vastly under-report the genuine danger and emotive power of the chaos at our borders.
If the GOP continues to stick to its commitments on both issues (praise the Lord and pass the ammunition), and the Democratic Party continues its strategy of being the party of kicking the can down the road on both the deficit and the borders, then the tea party movement will express itself through the vessel of the Republican Party, rather than a third party.
It is in the context of a two-way fight in the 2012 election on those issues that events in Europe may be decisive. The greatest unknown in such an election is whether at least 50 percent of the American voting public will see the deficit/debt/federal regulatory intrusion crisis with as much concern in 2012 as it did in our 2010 election — or whether the independents and soft party voters will be sufficiently acclimated to $1.5 trillion annual deficits and 9 percent unemployment that they will vote for federal spending benefits, rather than the national interest.
And that is where events in Europe could be decisive. I suspect that it was the Greek debt crisis (and the riots in Athens in May 2010) that made real to many American voters who are not usually highly informed conviction voters that a modern Western democracy could actually deficit spend itself to destruction.
If, between now and November 2012, there is another European crisis of equal vividness and impact on American voters, it is likely that such an event will reinvigorate the passion to fix our own mess. And, in the absence of the Democratic Party even offering a plausible path to safety, the ever-wavering independent voters will tend to vote Republican for both president and Congress.
COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM
Obama’s Jobs Recession
Political advantage can be fleeting. A couple of months ago, during the winter quarter, job gains looked to be picking up, unemployment was easing lower, and President Obama’s re-election hopes looked more secure. But things sure have changed.
In recent weeks, a whole bunch of new economic stats have been pointing to a sputtering economy — maybe even an inflation-prone, less-than-2-percent-growth recession. Stocks have dropped five straight weeks, as they look toward slower growth, jobs and profits out to year end. And Friday’s jobs report didn’t buck these trends.
“Anemic” is the adjective being tossed around the media. According to the Labor Department, non-farm payrolls increased a meager 54,000 in May, while private payrolls gained only 83,000. A week or two ago, Wall Street expected 200,000-plus new jobs. Didn’t happen.
Perhaps the most telling weakness in the jobs report comes from the household survey, which is made up of self-employed workers. Think of mom-and-pop owned stores and small businesses. Think of the Main Street entrepreneurial families who make up the backbone of the economy, and for that matter the country. And they vote, too.
Well, household jobs increased a paltry 105,000 in May, after falling 190,000 in April. The jobless rate is determined by the household survey, and you really need a couple hundred thousand new household jobs a month — at least — to lower unemployment. And you really need about 300,000 household jobs a month to put a little torque behind the Main Street economy. But with the lackluster May report, the unemployment rate edged up to 9.1 percent from last month’s 9 percent and March’s 8.8 percent.
Suddenly, President Obama has gone from re-elect to big trouble. The economic rug has been pulled out from underneath him.
So what changed in the last couple of months or so? Answer: A nasty oil-, gasoline- and commodity-price shock. It’s eating away at economic growth and jobs. It’s stalling the economy. And it has cut into consumer real incomes and business profits.
Much of this problem can be traced to the failure of the Federal Reserve’s QE2 pump-priming campaign. QE2 has not produced growth, but it has produced inflation. In fact, the consumer price index over the past four or five months has been running close to 6 percent annually.
And most of that new Fed money has served merely to depreciate the dollar. And most of those cheaper dollars are on deposit at the Federal Reserve, where banks are earning 25 basis points for safety and risk aversion. In other words, the majority of that new money is not circulating throughout the economy. It’s a boneheaded Fed stimulus, and it has done more harm than good.
That said, in a larger sense, the failure to ignite small-business job creation has to be laid at the doorstep of the Obama administration, and the economic policies that threaten higher taxes and regulations virtually across the board. On Thursday this week, the president again promised House Democrats he supports raising taxes on successful top small-business owners. What a great new idea.
So mom and pop don’t feel like taking a risk in this environment. Higher tax-and-regulatory costs have put these entrepreneurs in survival mode. They’re playing their economic cards so close to the vest, business activity has buttoned up tight.
What you want is for people to take their suit jackets off, roll up their shirtsleeves, and go out there and build. But people are hunkering down, not building.
Bear with me for a few more jobs stats.
Since the household-survey employment peak back in November 2007, 6.8 million jobs have been lost. Since the so-called end of the recession in June 2009, 199,000 jobs, on balance, have disappeared. And so far this year, household employment has increased by a total of 573,000, which is about 115,000 a month. That’s only one-third of what’s needed to bring down unemployment significantly.
The bottom line is that there hasn’t really been a jobs recovery. President Obama is going to have to own that. But the question is, both in Congress and on the campaign trail, does the GOP have a pro-growth jobs program that will get Main Street mom and pops to roll up their sleeves once again?
COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM