Friday, April 19, 2013

Warren Buffet? Really?

I received this forwarded chain email from Warren Buffet.  Really?  Warren?  Wow!
I couldn't resist responding.

Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.
In three days, most people
  in The United States of America will have this message.

This is one idea that
  really should be passed around

*Congressional Reform
Act of 2013
 While I understand the emotion behind this message, anger over the fact that Congress fails to do its Constitutional duty, fails to represent its constituents, passes bills without reading them, engages in conflicts of interest (crony-capitalism, crony-environmentalism), and statism, a reform act is not necessary.  This email chain is cute and good for a chuckle, but uninformed and reactionary. Voting Congressmen and Congresswomen out works well when the voting public takes the responsibility to educate themselves on the issues, on our catholic morality, and on what Congress is truly doing.  Failure to educate ourselves and hold representatives responsible has led us here.  It is our fault.

The term “reform” is heard quite often, and I believe it is used in a very misleading way.  When we hear the word reform, we think of un-complicating things, bring them back to a simpler time, back to common-sense understanding and plain-English interpretation.  But to reform literally means to re-form something; change it, form it again in a new way.  We’ve witnessed quite a bit of reform in this country over the last five years, with calls for more, and I don’t think anyone could honestly say things have become more simple, more common sense, with plain-English interpretation.

This document also has a tone of envy, of do-unto-them, of get even.  I understand the sentiment, but the items below are vengeful, wouldn’t accomplish much, and reveal an ignorance of the liberty available to us in this exceptional and unique country in the history of the world.  Is America perfect?  No.  But it’s better than the alternatives.
As is attributed to Abraham Lincoln:
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help small men up by tearing big men down. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot lift the wage-earner up by pulling the wage-payer down. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot establish sound social security on borrowed money. You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

We won’t solve the problem of our congressional representatives by tying them to devices which are bad for us as human beings, no matter how much fun that might appear.

1. No Tenure / No Pension.

A Congressman/woman collects
  a salary while in office and receives no pay when they're out of office.
 There is no tenure beyond the fact that congressional representatives are re-elected term after term.  This can be fixed by not re-electing them term after term.
2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future
  funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with
 the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.
 A nice symbolic gesture; I’d be surprised if Congress wouldn’t do it on their own for votes.  Our president just took a voluntary paycut himself. 
It would be better for all Americans if Social Security were made optional or disbanded entirely.  By taking 12.4% of an individual’s income (you pay 6.2%, your employer pays 6.2%), you’re robbing individuals of money they could invest or save, and of the compounding growth that income could have through the decades they work in exchange for a pittance, a fixed distribution from the government when they retire.  Educating someone on the time-value of an investment can be done in ten minutes, can be done in a high school course.  Instead, many spend their adult lives living in financial ignorance and discovering in retirement that they have fixed incomes.  When an individual saves 10% of their income through their lives, they will do better than what Social Security provides.
3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.
 You don’t purchase retirement plans.  You save for retirement.  You prepare for retirement.  You retire from wage earning when you can affor to, not when you’re “old enough.”  As Americans, we are responsible for our own retirement. Be it through corporate pensions, tax advantaged retirement accounts like IRAs and 401ks, stock purchases, owning business or other assets that return income, or just stuffing money into jars, you’ll need income when you’re no longer earning wages.  It is not difficult, but it might require sacrifice or thrift.

Should congress get a pension?  I could care less, other than I pay for it and that it is a very sweet pension.  Other government employees get pensions at the federal, state, and local level.  Shall we envy them as well and remove their pensions? They have sweet pensions too, although some states and municipalities are discovering that they can’t afford them.  They’ve spent too much.  How will they fund these obligations? 

In the private sector, pensions are few and far between because employment doesn’t often last the 20-30 years it has in some industries in the past.  And it’s less costly for a corporation to match contribution to retirement plans than have the liability of pension payments for decades.  It’s also less risky and better return for individuals to own their own retirement moneys rather than depend on a corporation that may disappear.
4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower
  of CPI or 3%.
 It does seem a conflict of interest, doesn’t it?  But we can always vote them out if they do something we don’t like.  Although we don’t seem to be angry enough.  As the CPI (Consumer Price Index) doesn’t include the cost of gas or food, it’s not a very good indicator of inflation of the cost of living. 3% sounds nice, but what if we experience inflations of 10%?  15%  It’s happened in my lifetime, in America.  Back to that Social Security thing.  A fixed income isn’t very good when the price of things goes up.
5. Congress loses their
  current health care system and participates in the same health care system as
  the American people.
The American people don’t have a health care system.  We participate in a highly regulated yet open market of health care providers.  Competition in this market keeps the prices down a little and keeps the service quick.  Businesses, in order to attract employees, have through the decades offered more and more compensation in the form of health insurance benefits. 
Costs of health care have risen due to regulations on the nature of the health-care itself (everything sanitary, everything documented, nothing can ever be permitted to go wrong …gets expensive) and to the over-coverages of health insurance in general.  Over-coverage?  Yes.  When a service like a doctor visit is “free” because it’s covered by insurance, people tend to use more of it.  When a service costs you something out of your own pocket, you will be wiser and more conservative with how much you use.  How much wine moves at the wedding reception when it’s an open bar compared to the guests buying their own drinks? 
Insurance is to insure you financially against catastrophic and rare events.  It’s not meant to pay for expensive services every time your child has a runny nose.
6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.
 … Congress doesn’t have to abide by laws?  That they get away with transgressions of the law and are derelict in their responsibility (their oath) to uphold and defend the Constitution is both a moral and a public problem.  This also can be resolved by voting them out. 

Where does the mindset come from that we must do as we’re told by Congress, that they can impose laws on us?  The American government is one of representation and the consent of the governed.  These people are not our leaders and they certainly aren’t our rulers; they are our representatives, our servants, and must be reminded of this, held to this.  If a Congressman or Congresswoman told you to pick up their dry cleaning, I do hope that you would laugh at them and taunt them with a childish “you’re not the boss of me. Pick it up yourself.”
7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 12/31/13. The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen/women.
I really wonder what this means.  Does it suggest that all Congressmen/women should be out of a job January 1, 2014? 
Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should
  serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts
  a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people
  (in the U.S.) to receive the message. Don't you think it's time?


If you agree with the
  above, pass it on. If not, just delete.
I chose neither to pass it on nor to delete it.  I chose to read it, think and send it back for further consideration.  I am an individual with a brain, dignity, and liberty, with Catholic moral guidance, and am not a serf of a government or ward of the state.  Our representatives have ignored their responsibilities and over-extended their reach.  The way to keep liberty is simple, it is clear, and it does not require reform.  It requires review and renewal of fundamentals and recognition that mankind, and its governments, are constrained by, as Thomas Jefferson so eloquently put it, inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You are one of my 20 - Please keep it going, and thanks.
And I encourage you to send this back down the chain so that Americans come to realize that they already have the power to fix Congress.  Vote with your head.  Now click your heals three times, Dorothy.  There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.  There’s no place like home.

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