PRESIDENTIAL PROS AND CONS: BARACK OBAMA — Updated 26 Oct 2008

Based upon the issues I care about, this post is my effort to evaluate Barack Obama as the Democratic Party’s candidate for president. The last section of this post, The Issues, describes those issues.

I have already evaluated the Republican Party’s candidate, John McCain, at this post. For a comparison, please refer to the post on John McCain.

WHAT IS YOUR OPINION?

See this post (HAVE WE BEEN ACORNED?) for an analysis of the poll results.

General Observations

To all intents and purposes, Obama appears to be a decent man.  At least, it is not obvious that Obama has engaged in a pattern of bad behavior.  Nonetheless, I do not intend to vote for him.  I object intensely to his politics.  For all practical purposes, what Obama advocates is outright socialism.

In addition, I do not like Obama’s associates.  In the last section of this post, Personal Life, I discuss Barack Obama associations. While I do not believe in guilt by association, it makes me extremely nervous when a politician must so often disown so many people and organizations he has formerly praised.

The Candidate on the Issues

Education – Obama unabashedly promises to get the Federal Government fully involved in the education of our children. If Obama fulfills this promise, educational levels will continue their slow decline.

In math and science U.S. 15 year-olds are being outperformed by the majority of their peers around the world according to a recent NCES report Highlights from PISA 2006: Performance of U.S. 15 Year-Old Students in Science and Mathematics Literacy in an International Context. (from here)

In addition, parents will have less and less control over the values taught to their children.

Consider how Obama defines the problem with the No Child Left Behind Act.

The goal of the law was the right one, but unfulfilled funding promises, inadequate implementation by the Education Department and shortcomings in the design of the law itself have limited its effectiveness and undercut its support. As a result, the law has failed to provide high-quality teachers in every classroom and failed to adequately support and pay those teachers. (from here)

Obama defines the problem as “inadequate implementation”. “Inadequate implementation” is Obama’s euphemism for insufficient funding. That is, Obama wants to spend more of our money. Why? Ostensibly, Obama wants to improve the education system. In practice, Obama is in the service of the most powerful education lobby. Both of the major teacher’s unions (see here and here) endorse Obama.

Because there are so many issues that affect our vote, a powerful minority can hold sway on a single issue. The teachers unions are powerful and they are focused on a single issue, education. The result is that the teacher’s unions, not parents, decide how children are educated.

Consider the irony of this story.

The New York City teachers’ union filed a federal lawsuit on Friday claiming that a policy banning political pins and signs in schools violates teachers’ First Amendment rights by blocking them from political expression.

The lawsuit comes nearly two weeks after the Department of Education sent a memo to principals directing them to enforce the longstanding regulation, which requires that all school staff members show “complete neutrality” while on duty. The policy also prohibits teachers from using school property to promote a candidate. (from here)

You think that a fluke? Consider a story closer to home.

Virginia Republicans are in an uproar after the state teacher’s union sent an e-mail to its members encouraging them to wear blue-colored shirts to school to show their support for Barack Obama.

State Republicans are calling it an undisguised attempt to influence students’ political views.

The Virginia Education Association sponsored “Obama Blue Day” on Tuesday. In an e-mail sent last week, it urged teachers to participate by dressing in blue.

“There are people out there not yet registered. You teach some of them,” the Sept. 25 e-mail reads. “Others, including our members, remain on the fence! Its time for us to come together, voice our unity, because we make a difference!”

“Let’s make Obama Blue Day a day of Action!” the e-mail continues. “Barack the vote!” (from here)

Do you think any teacher’s union would defend bringing religion into the classroom? Of course not. In the blending and homogenizing of a multicultural world, religion just complicates matters. Nonetheless, the teacher’s unions insist upon indoctrinating children in their values and political beliefs.

Let there be no doubt as to why the American educational system frustrates parents. The problem is too much government and not enough parenting. Instead of treating parents and children as the primary customers, our government-run education system treats the teacher’s unions as the primary customers. The result is an administrator top-heavy system that makes teacher’s pay and benefits its primary goal. Instead working to inculcate strong moral values into our children, our government-run education system works to make our nation’s children docile followers of the Democratic Party. If we allow it to continue on this course, our government-run education system will destroy our republican (Note the little “r”.) form of government.

Law – Before anyone votes for Obama, they should do two things.

  • Read the U. S. Constitution. This document is surprisingly short. Yet it is still the basic Law of our land. Is the Constitution flawless? No. When it was accepted by the people of America, the Constitution recognized the “right” own slaves. Only a great Civil War ended that evil. Yet when we observe and adhere to the Constitution, the document helps us to protect our freedom and our civil rights.
  • Read Obama’s Issues page on Civil Rights. Like most modern Democrats, Obama fails to appreciate the role government plays in denying us our civil rights. So when he sees what he perceives any disparity in civil rights, he reflexively calls for a Federal Government solution. Because people are imperfect, we will always have disagreements over what forms of discrimination are appropriate. Thus we have Obama’s call for a huge expansion of government busybody agencies (see BUSYBODYISM).

The battle over civil rights traces back to the furor over Jim Crow Laws. The roots of this battle go back to the era of slavery. What many have forgotten is that government made slavery possible. State governments in the Old South legalized and supported the “rights” of slave owners to own other people. This evil chapter in our history ended only after a great war and hundreds of thousands of deaths. The Federal Government used the force of arms to deny the “right” of state governments to enforce slavery.

Nonetheless, Southern Whites stubbornly persisted. When the period we call Reconstruction ended, the Southern States instituted Jim Crow Laws. If anything, the efforts of the Northern States to harshly punish the South and force their own views on the citizens of the Southern States exacerbated the viciousness of the Jim Crow Laws. Had the Northern States been content merely to end slavery and put Blacks and Whites on an equal footing before the Law, the Jim Crow Laws might not have been so strongly supported by vengeful citizens Southern States. No one will ever know, but conventional wisdom suggests that history might have been different if Abraham Lincoln had not been assassinated.

Now Obama supports an abusive program of civil rights enforcement. Instead of relying upon existing laws, custom, and the free market to protect our civil rights and differences of opinion, Obama wants us to rely upon his administration and a program of aggressive civil rights enforcement to punish the politically incorrect. Here are some examples.

  • Rather than rely upon the “judgement” of a free market, Obama would tell us when pay equity between men and women and minorities has been achieved.
  • Rather than recognize the simple fact that all crimes are hate crimes, Obama would give certain privileged groups (especially those who voted for him) special protection.
  • Rather rely on state and local governments to run our nation’s polling facilities, Obama would increasingly federalize the process, increasing the possibility of nationwide voter fraud.

Apparently, from Obama’s perspective, every problem is a Federal Problem. Therefore, every problem should be the subject of his intense scrutiny and infinite wisdom.

Obama apparently has great disdain for the Founders’ original intent in the Constitution. His plans certainly leave no doubt he desires to be unfettered by the document. When asked at the Saddleback Civil Forum which of the current judges he would not have appointed to the Supreme Court, he listed conservative judges Thomas and Scalia (see here). He voted against both Roberts and Alito (see here). This (here) CATO Institute article by Robert A. Levy explains how Obama’s judicial vision differs from McCain’s.

National Defense – In his plan for national defense, Obama sums up his approach this way.

As our next president, Barack Obama will:

  • End the war in Iraq
  • Reestablish the proper leadership role of the commander in chief for the 21st century
  • Place ‘people first,’ so our military can recruit and retain the forces it needs and our servicemembers and their families are treated with the respect and appreciation they deserve
  • Rebuild our National Guard and Reserves, to be better prepared to respond at home and abroad
  • Focus on adapting and building U.S. military capabilities for current, not Cold War, needs
  • Restore our global partnerships, to leverage the capabilities of others and win the ‘war of ideas’
  • Build civilian capacity to promote stability and tackle security challenges with a ‘whole of government’ approach, so that our troops are not alone in the fight
  • Place our troops before CEOs, reigning in military outsourcing and restoring honesty, openness, and economic good sense to our defense contracting and budgeting processes. (from here)

Obama’s plans sounds nice on the surface, but read his plan. Obama thinks of the military as a social program. When Obama sees the military, he sees a jobs and training program. While Obama talks about making the military work better, all the specifics in his plan are about giving military personnel a softer life.

Obama is buying votes, not a more effective military.

Look at Iraq. With respect to Iraq, ending the war, not victory, has always been Obama’s first priority. Consider how he quotes himself.

“I will remove one or two brigades a month, and get all of our combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months. The only troops I will keep in Iraq will perform the limited missions of protecting our diplomats and carrying out targeted strikes on al Qaeda. And I will launch the diplomatic and humanitarian initiatives that are so badly needed. Let there be no doubt: I will end this war.” – Barack Obama, Chicago, October 2, 2007 (from here)

Obama takes great pride in his vote against our invasion of Iraq. He blames the Bush administration, not Saddam Hussein, for starting the war. He had to be dragged kicking and screaming to acknowledge that we have had any successes (something he finally admitted at the Saddleback Civil Forum), and he had to be pressured to extend his call for an immediate withdrawal to 16 months (See here).

What is Obama concerned about? When he talks about Iraq, what is his constant refrain?

Traditionally, foreign policy has been a topic favoring Republicans, while economic issues have tilted toward Democrats, and that seems to be the case again, at least since the pace of American fatalities in Iraq began dropping, said Alec Kirby, associate professor of history and government at UW-Stout in Menomonie.

Obama, however, has tried to tie the two issues together by pointing out that the United States is spending about $10 billion a month in Iraq, money he says could be used instead to provide health care, create jobs and otherwise boost the struggling domestic economy. (from here)

Obama advertises himself as the cool and calm military leader we need. In his world, we only go to war when warfare is absolutely needed. Then he turns on his charm, and all the nations in the world are suppose to wisely follow his leadership. So the war (How could there ever be one?) is instantly over. The enemy acquiesces and apologizes for so rudely disturbing the sacred Obama peace.

In reality, we conduct war in a fog. In reality, because he did not know enough, Obama opposed the surge (see here). In reality, we have a hard time figuring out the minds of enemy. Even when we have good intelligence and when our military operations proceed with greater ease than we expected, peacemaking can be terribly difficult.

So it has been in Iraq. Defeating Iraq’s army turned out to be easy. Pacifying 25 million people traumatized by decades of totalitarian dictatorship and surrounded on all sides by nations hostile to democracy turned out to be extremely difficult. That is a problem few anticipated. What worried everyone is the possibility Saddam Hussein would attack our troops with chemical and biological weapons.

In reality, Obama does not have the will to win against our enemies. Obama too badly wants to spend every cent he can tax on social programs. Obama would like nothing better than to turn the world’s best military into a glorified Peace Corps.

Immigration – Obama has not apologized or backed down from his plans to provide illegal aliens amnesty.

In the most recent immigration debate on the U.S. Senate floor, Obama fought to improve and pass a comprehensive bill. Obama introduced amendments to put greater emphasis on keeping immigrant families together and to revisit a controversial new points system that never received a proper public hearing. Barack Obama and Joe Biden will continue to work for a comprehensive bill that fixes our broken immigration system. (from here)

This is the bill that the Senate refused to pass only after the citizenry spoke up and said NO! Obama clearly has no remorse nor regrets for participating in the crafting of legislation of which the public wants no part (see here). After the failure of the bill he supported, McCain at least recognized that to please us, he has to secure the border first (see here).

Two Conservatives has a good post on this subject that explains the difference between the candidate in terms anyone should be able to understand. See here.

Limited Government – Obama promises that only those making over $250,000 will pay for all his innumerable promises. That is absurd. You need proof? Go to Obama’s website (here) and look at the Issues Pages.

  • Civil Rights – Do you think even THE ONE can strengthen civil rights enforcement, expand hate crime statutes, cure drug uses, and so forth without hiring cadres of new people? Our nation is already awash with lawyers, and Obama wants to put still more of them to work.
  • Disabilities – Obama promises those with disabilities everything they need for happiness.
  • Economy – Obama promises ever more meddling in the economy: tax benefits for small businesses, more clout for unions, windfall profit taxes, government investment in manufacturing, job training, and so forth. Since meddling such as what he proposes fouled up the economy in the first place, …..
  • Education – See the educaton section above.
  • Energy – Obama promises government investment. Do we really want the government to own all our businesses?
  • Family – A Making Work Pay tax credit? Go figure that one out. Obama’s idea for making families work is more government spending — and more government mandates imposed on employers, of course. With idiot meddling like this, why should anyone have to wonder why jobs are leaving our country?
  • And so forth. Obama has a long list of issues. Even this post is too short to summarize all the ways Obama intends to expand government.

Obama has lots of plans, and his plans will cost us all money. Go read some of Obama’s plans. Then ask yourself a question. Where in the Constitution is Congress authorized to spend money on the things Obama want to fund?

When the English Barons decided that they needed to restrain King John, they forced him to sign the Magna Carta. The provisions of the Magna Carta created a Great Council which eventually evolved into Parliament, a body that now controls taxing and spending in the United Kingdom.

It took awhile, but the English eventually figured out how to control their King. They got control of the King’s budget. That lesson still applies. Just as the King’s power arose from his ability to tax and spend, so does the government’s power as a whole. If we want to retain some control over the conduct our lives, we must restrain taxing and spending by government busybodies. That clearly is not the direction THE ONE wants to take us.

The Environment -The environmental rage this year is clean energy. Everybody has a plan to get us off fossil fuels and onto something else. What does Obama propose? He promises to make us all rich with clean energy (see Obama’s plan here). Here is his basic list of clean energy promises.

  • Provide short-term relief to American families facing pain at the pump.
  • Help create five million new jobs by strategically investing $150 billion over the next ten years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future.
  • Within 10 years save more oil than we currently import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined.
  • Put 1 million Plug-In Hybrid cars — cars that can get up to 150 miles per gallon — on the road by 2015, cars that we will work to make sure are built here in America.
  • Ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025.
  • Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. (from here)

Obama promises to make untested technology work economically. That is an outrageous. The tax relief he promises will come from the oil companies. That is stupid. To get this money so that they can pay us back, the oil companies will just raise their prices. So we will just pay our government money to have portion of what we give the oil companies given back to us.

To reduce greenhouse gases, Obama promises to implement a cap and trade program. Obama intends to auction pollution allowances and to use a portion of the funds for environmental projects. He will use the money to:

  • Invest in a clean energy economy and create five million jobs!
  • Create a green vet initiative.
  • Convert manufacturing centers into clean technology centers.
  • Create new jobs training programs for clean technologies.

Obama’s plan is nothing more than an empty promise, a blatant attempt to buy votes. What Obama intends to put in place will just be a complicated and wasteful government-run mess. The rich will find loopholes, and we will pay. The money we pay will go into the General Fund. That is, our money will just go into the same black hole as the Social Security Trust Fund.

If it is going to be fair, we must use a system we can all understand. If we want people to use alternative energy sources instead of burning fossil fuels, all we need to do is tax pollution (see here). Taxes are something both government and consumers understand.

Why does Obama need to pay private companies to do something they would do anyway? When pollution affects the bottom line, private industry will work as hard as it can to avoid polluting. When private industry already knows perfectly well how to do research, why do we need government officials picking favorites and skewing the outcome?

The rest of Obama’s plan is a bunch of ridiculous mandates — a bunch of do this or the government will punish you. Just because Obama says industry must make more fuel efficient cars does not mean anyone will be able to afford these cars — assuming they can be made.

What Obama is doing is telling us what we want to hear. He is promising to be the Big Daddy who will take care of us. He telling us there is an easy way out when what is required is hard work.

We cannot make somebody else pay for a clean environment. We cannot make big oil and other big corporations pay for a clean environment. The simple truth is that we all have to pay for a clean environment. Those big corporations get their money from us and so does our government.

Welfare & The Economy – When I first start writing this section, I intended to write two sections:  Welfare and The Economy.  However, when I start writing the section on Welfare, I could not easily extract Obama’s views on welfare from his views on the economy.  Because Obama is a socialist, I do not think he sees much difference between welfare and the economy.  Consider Obama’s now infamous comment to Joe the Plumber.

Obama made the remark, caught on camera, after fielding some tough questions from the plumber Sunday in Ohio, where the Democratic candidate canvassed neighborhoods and encouraged residents to vote early.

“Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?” the plumber asked, complaining that he was being taxed “more and more for fulfilling the American dream.”

“It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance for success too,” Obama responded. “My attitude is that if the economy’s good for folks from the bottom up, it’s gonna be good for everybody … I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” (from here)

Obama apparently advocates “trickle up economics” to manage the “free market” .  How this works is a good question.  Even wily Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, finds the matter puzzling.

In the recent debate, Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden said the wealthy would gain by paying higher taxes to lift up the middle class. The theory is that a healthy middle class is necessary for the wealthy class to thrive. Let’s call that Trickle Up Economics.

Viewed in that light, the unwealthy are more like an investment opportunity than a tax burden. If you can make the poor and middle class more educated, healthy, and better employed, everyone wins. That makes sense, to a degree. But would the wealthy gain enough financially to make the extra taxes a good investment? I wonder if that has ever been studied. (from here)

Would Obama’s scheme work?  As his response to Joe indicates, Obama proposes to take money from the rich and give it to the middle class.  However, as Adam observed and as his website indicates (see here), Obama proposes more than just tax breaks and tax rebates.  Obama has many different types of “investments” in mind, “investments” that would significantly increase government spending.  Let’s just look at some of the investments on Obama’s Economy Issues webpage.

  • In addition to the investments he plans to Create 5 Million New Green Jobs (see the environment section above), Obama intend to invest in the Manufacturing Sector.
  • Increase investments in training to “improve efficiency, implement new technology and strengthen company growth” in the manafacturing sector.
  • Require 25 percent of American electricity be derived from renewable sources by 2025.  That forces the utilities to make an “investment”.
  • Increase spending on our transportation infrastructure.  This includes a scheme to create a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank.  That means increased Federal involvement in the construction of local roads.

Obama has no trouble expanding the Federal Government’s role into areas where it traditionally and Constitutionally has no business.  The problem with such an expansion is that the government makes its decisions based upon politics, not sound economics.  Without personal incentives, people waste too much and do not work any harder than they have to.  Government, in particular, is notorious for wasting money.  That is why socialism does not work.

Consider how Karl Marx summarized the ideal work ethic in a communist state.

From each, according to his ability; to each, according to his need. (from here)

Ideally, when given the opportunity, each of us would work as hard and as diligently as we ought without any thought of personal reward, except perhaps the thought we were working for the betterment of society.  In practice, that rarely seems to happen.   At least, no one can point to a society where such idealism has worked in practice.   Even the Pilgrims, when they tried a brief adventure into agarian communism at Plymouth Rock, had to give up on the idea in 1623 (see here, here, and here).

Obama’s emphasis on politics at the expense of good economics also extends to two other areas:  free trade and labor unions.

In order to meddle in the affairs of other nations, Obama would hold free trade agreements hostage.

Campaigning in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Texas, Obama touted his opposition to NAFTA and pledged to “renegotiate” the 1993 treaty between the United States, Mexico, and Canada that established the largest trading bloc in the world. It was, of course, a president from Obama’s party, Bill Clinton, who signed NAFTA into law over opposition from trade unions and protectionists in the Democratic Congress. But that was then. During last week’s Democratic presidential debate, Obama went so far as to say that, as president, he would use “the hammer” of a “potential opt-out” to “ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced.” His opponent, Hillary Clinton, agreed completely. One of her husband’s signal achievements is now just a bag of sand to jettison from her deflating balloon.

Obama claims that NAFTA was “oversold” and vows to “stand firm” against similar agreements that “undermine our economic security.” The American worker deserves nothing less, we are told. But the American worker actually deserves a great deal more: He deserves a forthright explanation of the tangible benefits of free trade. Even Senator Change-We-Can-Believe-In knows these benefits are real. Obama has explained in the past that it is “not realistic to expect to renegotiate NAFTA” and that Americans “benefit enormously from exports and so .  .  . have an interest in free trade that allows us to move our products overseas.” In a John Kerry-like straddle, he acknowledged in 2005 that a trade deal modeled on NAFTA–the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA)–was “probably a net plus for the U.S. economy” .  .  . before voting against it.  (from here)

Obama intends to strenghten labor unions.  For example, Obama supports the Employee Free Choice Act.  See here and here for opposing views.  The Heritage Foundation briefly describes the act this way.

Does a ballot cast in private or a card signed in pub­lic better reveal a worker’s true preference about whether to join a union? A private vote is the obvious answer, but organized labor has nonetheless made the misleadingly named Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA, H.R. 800) its highest legislative priority.  (from here)

Candidate Website – See ELECTION 2008 PRO AND CONS: BARACK OBAMA WEBSITE REVIEW.

Personal Life – “A man is known by his friends.”  Such is an old English proverb (see here).  So instead of trying to describe Obama himself, it seems best to consider his friends.

Who did Obama select for his running mate?  That man is Senator Joe Biden.  This gentleman is notorious for putting his foot into his mouth.  Here is an example.

Cartoon from here.

Another friend of Obama is Bill Ayers. Bill Ayers is an unrepentant terrorist (See here.).  Supposedly, Obama’s association with Ayers is of no consequence.  Yet even a local Chicago paper recognizes the connection.

The two men were involved in efforts to reform the city’s education system. They appeared together on academic panels, including one organized by Michelle Obama to discuss the juvenile justice system, an area of mutual concern. Ayers’s book on the subject won a rave review in The Chicago Tribune by Obama, who called it “a searing and timely account.” (from here).

Democrats try to brush off the relationship by saying that both merely served on the same board of the same anti-poverty organization, Woods Fund of Chicago.  Nonetheless, one wonders what kind of anti-poverty organization would hire an unrepentant terrorist to serve on its board.   Moreover, one wonders about the good sense of any organization that would give funds to the now infamous ACORN (see here).

Bernardine Rae Dohrn is still featured on the FBI’s website (see here).   Because Dohrn is one of the eight women who have made the FBI Top Ten Wanted List, she has achieved some notoriety.  Dohrn was a member of the Weather Underground.  Dohrn is Ayers’ spouse.   Obama claims he was unaware of the couple’s past.  Perhaps, but consider this excerpt from a 2001 article in the Weekly Standard.

POOR BILL AYERS. His timing could not have been worse. Just when his widely publicized memoir of his days as a terrorist was coming out, our nation suffered its worst terrorist assault ever.

Indeed, the very morning of the attack, the New York Times printed a fawning profile of Ayers and his comrade in terror, Bernardine Dohrn. Under the headline “No Regrets for a Love of Explosives,” accompanied by a large color photo of the couple, Ayers boasts that he bombed New York City’s police headquarters in 1970, the Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972—and proudly adds, “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough.” Asked whether he would do it again, he answers, “I don’t want to discount the possibility.” Or, as he puts it in Fugitive Days: A Memoir, “I can’t imagine entirely dismissing the possibility.”  (from here)

Here a link to the fawning New York Times article.

Starting in the late 1980’s, Jeremiah Wright was Obama’s, pastor, mentor and role model.

The title of Obama’s 2006 memoir, The Audacity of Hope, was inspired by one of Wright’s sermons, which was also a theme of Obama’s 2004 keynote address to the Democratic National Convention. Wright served as both a role model and a spiritual mentor for Obama, and the senator would check with Wright prior to making any bold political moves. According to the Reverend Jim Wallis, who is a leader of the religious left, “If you want to understand where Barack gets his feeling and rhetoric from, just look at Jeremiah Wright.  (from here)

At best Obama’s relationship with Wright is ambiguous.  Wright teaches Black Liberation Theology.  What is that?  Since I do not know much about the subject, I am not going to try to recommend a reference or suggest exactly what it is.  Nonetheless, Black Liberation Theology undeniably has something to do with both race and politics.

This web page (here) describes Trinty United Church of Christ (Wright’s church) mission, and this web page (here) describes the church’s “Black Value System.”  In this video Wright defends himself before Hanity and Combs.

To say the least, most Americans found Wright discomfiting. Eventually, Wright’s own words forced Obama to disown Wright and quit Trinty United Church of Christ (see here).

Tony Rezko is a convict with ties to Obama.  Rezko was the first person to make campaign contributions to Obama.  More suspicious, however, is the property Rezko sold to Obama.

Much of the criticism has centered on two real estate deals involving Obama’s South Side mansion. In the first, Obama paid $300,000 less than the asking price for a doctor’s home, while Rezko’s wife paid the doctor full price for the vacant lot next door. Then — a few months before Rezko was indicted — Obama bought part of that lot from Rezko’s wife.  (from here)

Eventually, Obama had to renounce his relationship with Rezko as well.

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama expressed regret late Friday for his 2005 land purchase from now-indicted political fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko in a deal that enlarged the senator’s yard.

“I consider this a mistake on my part and I regret it,” Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times in an exclusive and revealing question-and-answer exchange about the transaction. (from here)

Michael Pfleger has the distinction of being the second minister who has gotten Obama in trouble.  Pfleger, a Catholic priest, gave an outrageous speech at Wright’s Trinty United Church of Christ.

The story gained steam as the video circulated around the Internet. Stepping up to the pulpit Sunday as a guest speaker at Trinity United Church of Christ, Pfleger said, “When Hillary was crying, and people said that was put on, I really don’t believe it was put on. I really believe that she just always thought, ‘This is mine! I’m Bill’s wife, I’m white, and this is mine! …’ “

Pfleger, who is white, continued: “And then out of nowhere came, ‘Hey, I’m Barack Obama,’ and she said, ‘Oh, damn! Where did you come from? I’m white! I’m entitled! There’s a black man stealing my show!’ ”  (from here)

In response Cardinal Francis George, Pfleger boss, made it clear Pfleger that such politics has no place at the pulpit.

Michelle Obama has taken a lot of heat for a remark she made last February.

Speaking in Milwaukee, Wis., on Monday, she said, “People in this country are ready for change and hungry for a different kind of politics and … for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.”

Greeted with rousing applause after making the comment in Milwaukee, Obama delivered an amended version of the speech later that day in Madison, Wis.

“For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country … not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change,” she said. “I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment.”  (from here)

One other Obama associate is also worthy of mention, ACORN.  When considering ACORN, it is easy to get two extremely different points of view.  Newsday paints a heroic picture of community organizer Obama (here) whereas National Review acquaints us with a far more devious person (here).  What is the truth?  There is no question Obama work closely with the organization.  In addition, his campaign has given the ACORN hundreds of thousands of dollars (see here). What is disturbing is the simple fact that without question ACORN is a partisan organization.  When there is no reason whatsoever for the government to be paying a private agency to engage in vote registeration or consumer advocacy, why is the government giving ACORN money?

Under the guise of “consumer advocacy,” ACORN has lined its pockets. The Department of Housing and Urban Development funds hundreds, if not thousands, of left-wing “anti-poverty” groups across the country led by ACORN. Last October, HUD announced more than $44 million in new housing counseling grants to over 400 state and local efforts. The White House has increased funding for housing counseling by 150 percent since taking office in 2001, despite the role most of these recipients play as activist satellites of the Democratic Party. The AARP scored nearly $400,000 for training; the National Council of La Raza (“The Race”) scooped up more than $1.3 million; the National Urban League raked in nearly $1 million; and the ACORN Housing Corporation received more than $1.6 million.  (from here)

No matter how you spin it, what ACORN does and did is and was blatantly unethical.

Obama has also distanced himself from two more names James Johnson and Franklin Raines, both former heads of Fannie Mae.  Johnson served as the head of Obama’s VP search committee.  He left Obama’s campaign amid the controversy over the collapse of Fannie Mae.  Supposedly, Johnson’s presence sent the wrong message (here).  Raines left Fannie Mae under a cloud and $100 million richer (see here, here, and here).

Much of the blame for Fannie Mae’s failure belongs to Raines (see here and here).  Fannie Mae increased its holdings of subprime loans during his leadership.  Raines is also reputed to be one of Obama’s advisors, but these ties are disputed (here, here, and here).  What is beyond dispute is that Obama was one of Fannie Mae’s favorite politicians.  Fannie Mae engaged in serious lobbying.

Over the past decade, both Fannie (FNM) and Freddie (FRE) made the list of Washington’s top 20 lobbying spenders. They spent a combined $170 million to cultivate allies during that period, a bit less than the American Medical Association and a bit more than General Electric. At the same time, their executives have consistently led the mortgage-banking sector in campaign giving to members of Congress, contributing a combined $16.2 million since 1997. (from here)

Even though Obama is a first term senator, he was a favorite.

Sen. Barack Obama: No. 2 on the Fannie/Freddie list of favored politicians after just four short years in the Senate.  (from here)

Anyway you look at it, Obama has associated himself with a bunch of dubious characters, retired terrorists, clergy who cannot separate race and politics from religion, convicts, and ACORN.  What do all these people have in common?  It would appear that they seek power, and some of them are not too concerned about how they get it.

The Issues

  • Education – Ostensibly, the Federal Government has no role with respect to education. Unfortunately, the lack of constitutional authority does not seem to stop elected officials from spending money and issuing mandates. I want this abuse of authority to stop.
  • Law – Our president should understand the law and be willing to live within the law. Our president should take the lead in protecting our rights, particularly freedom of religion, the cornerstone of American Law. As a conservative, I also think Supreme Court judges such as Anthony Scalia and Clarence Thomas have the best understanding of the Constitution. I want more such judges appointed.
  • National Defense – To deter potential aggressors, it is imperative that we have a strong military and an ethical strategy designed to protect our vital national interests. We cannot cavalierly abandon Iraq.
  • Immigration – Our nation is being slowly overrun by poor, uneducated, illegal immigrants. Since most of these people come from Spanish speaking nations to the south of us, our nation is being balkanized into different language and economic groups. What that portends for the future is civil strife.
  • Limited Government – You will not see a balance budget or low taxes in this list. What I am looking for is a candidate who sees all spending as discretionary and that we have too much government. We do not need a candidate who makes promises to hand us other people’s money. As I see it, anybody who will rob Peter to pay Paul cannot be trusted not to rob Tom too.
  • The Environment – A clean environment is a fundamental right. To protect the environment, we need a strong environmental policy. Such a policy cannot depend on the scientific wisdom of politicians. No human being, not even a politician able to make endless promises, has sufficient brain power to figure out how to build a modern industrial society that does not pollute the environment. What our government can do, however, is punish polluters when they dump pollutants into our environment. Thus I want candidate who understands the difference between stopping polluters and trying to run private industry.
  • Welfare – The welfare state is a massive scam; welfare is politicians buying us with our own money. Our cradle-to-grave welfare state is also a steadily growing national disaster. Even though the Federal Government has no constitutional authority throw our money into these idiot programs, each year we put a greater percentage of the Federal budget into welfare programs. Eventually, the money must run out.
  • The Economy – Because none of us know enough to run everybody else’s business, government must have a limited role in the economy. What government can and must do is regulate economic activity. Government encourages economic activity by ensuring that buyers and sellers are honest. In addition, government encourages economic activity by establishing a currency for exchange and standard weights and measures. Government cannot and does not create jobs.
  • Candidate Website – Any candidate fit to run our nation should be able to set up a decent campaign website. That candidate should also be forthcoming about his record and what he intends to do if he is elected.
  • Personal Life – Character makes a difference. If we want our nation to strive for high ideals, then the person we select to lead us must honorable and trustworthy. We should not allow a candidate to buy our vote, but people do. By suggesting that those of us who want to vote for a trustworthy politicians are fooling ourselves, some seemingly revel in the fact too many candidates are unworthy of our trust (see here). That makes for a sad state of affairs and says how much we need to pray for our leaders.
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About Citizen Tom

I am just an average citizen interested in promoting informed participation in the political process.
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53 Responses to PRESIDENTIAL PROS AND CONS: BARACK OBAMA — Updated 26 Oct 2008

  1. Brad says:

    Your pros and cons on Barack Obama are clearly biased, those were not facts but your own re-wording of the bills to make Obama look like an idiot, and you just had to throw in your dumb smart ass comments in there, go vote for who you please, but act like a respectable person and give both candidates “nothing but the facts” review and leave your opinion out of it.

  2. Citizen Tom says:

    Brad – I do not claim to be unbiased. I am deliberately advocating my values. Are you unbiased? Do you really know anyone who has any serious interest in this election who does not have some kind of bias?

    There is no unbiased news media worth noting. There are people who claimed to be unbiased or objective. Why believe such people? If they are actually telling the truth, then they have not investigated the news enough to deserve being taken seriously. If they have done sufficient investigation, then they have already discredited themselves by lying.

  3. Sam says:

    A very well thought out article. Although I don’t agree with some of your ideas and viewpoints…….most of what you were saying was completely accurate. A presidential candidate with as many past dealings with shady characters as Obama has, should most definitely have his character questioned.

  4. Bella says:

    Well, somethings weren’t all that great. But like Obama, John McCain has a past too he is most likely better at keeping it private. So really both candidates are no better then the other.

  5. Red Defender? says:

    Bella – That’s a new wrinkle on guilt by association. McCain is guilty because he is associated with Obama. LOL!

  6. Justin Jefferson says:

    Tom you need to look beyond fact and look at reason. You say it’s bad to get government involved into the school education as if it going to make it worse than it already is. Look at other countries such as France their education system is well beyond ours. The reason is standards; the US needs to raise their standards and who can do it, the government. Politics aren’t the only thing to the government. Also the money going in the schooling systems are most likely going towards build better schools and getting books that are greatly needed. There are a lot of schools that don’t have the resources to give all their students a book to study out of, and the money can also go towards hiring better teachers. It’s not odd to see the football coach teaching History. Or the PE teacher is also teaching English. The US education system is way behind and I don’t see any other way to solve it unless you get government involved. Do you honestly thing that parents are going to suddenly start making their child learn better, or take extra time to teach their kid. No that is why we have schools. Seriously though, before posting something like this on the internet, understand why a candidate would do something. Anybody can close their eyes, point a finger and say that there pointing at something. But you don’t know what it is, look beyond just the facts, when it comes to views such as this, one must look more at the reasons supporting the facts than just the facts alone. People keep attacking Obama saying that he said this or did that, but unless you know why he did it, just “Shut UP”

  7. Citizen Tom says:

    Justin – Do you think manufacturers should design good products or do you think manufacturers should care less about the design and use HIGH STANDARDS to test quality into their products? My own position is that unless I am the manufacturer I do not care. What I care about is how the product works and what it costs me. Unfortunately, when government is the manufacturer, you, me, and all our fellow citizens serve on the board of directors. Then we are FORCED to care and become experts.

    The need for expertise is why socialism does not work. Socialism demands a high degree of expertise from each us in a wide variety of fields. That sort of expertise simply does not exist. So we end up trusting politicians and their “experts.” We end up with a government monopoly that leaves us no alternative except paying high taxes and taking on the ADDITIONAL COST of home schooling or private schooling.

    You say France has great schools. LOL! Yet our economy is in better shape. Do you also want to adopt and force French values on your fellow citizens? Considering how you ended your comment, just “Shut UP”, you want to force something on us.

    All I want is for parents in this country to have what the wealthy of this nation already have for their children. I want parents to be allowed to exercise their RIGHT to shop around and educate THEIR children as they think appropriate.

  8. Ashley says:

    thanks alot, I say this very sarcastically because i had to write a paper on obama pros and cons and now i don’t have anything in the pro’s section. I have to agree with Brad this article was VERY biased.

  9. kgotthardt says:

    Brad, Tom is a member of the Republican Party. Of course he will defend his candidate and his own values.

    Blogs typically ARE biased.

  10. Dee Brown says:

    Hey man I’m totally with you, Obama is possibly one of the worst things to happen to this country, and unfortunately the american people bought his act.

  11. Justin Jefferson says:

    I see what you are trying to say, and I apologize for being so forceful, but as a young man in this country I see the American dream dying in the American eye. Wealth isn’t as easy to obtain anymore. Especially within the youth, so many young people, the next generation is giving up with seeking a higher education do to the fact that it’s too hard. Too hard, I laugh at that because half of what students are learning in school isn’t thing you need to be in school to learn. Keep in mind that when I’m talking about school I’m talking about 1st -12th grade. I talked to a lot of foreign students and I’ve learned that most of them say that when they came to America it felt like they repeated 1-3 grades, and that the work we do is so easy, but yet we complain. The reason we need to create more jobs isn’t just because there’s not enough, but jobs are raising their standards because anybody now can easily take an online course to obtain a degree. When America gets educated we can do so much more. You say that our economy is so great, but then why are so many people on welfare, financial support, and working 2-4 jobs. Why are there so many people living on the street. Tell me why the greatest economy is having so much poverty. It’s not just that there aren’t enough jobs, I bet, you can go out today and find 10-20 places you could work. It’s because people in this free country are choosing not to be educated to their full potential. Sure it’s their choice, and incorporation the foreign education system isn’t going to take away a parent’s ability to teach them morals of right and wrong, pride, and respect. What it will do is give the youth a better fighting chance to make something out of their life. I’m not saying brainwash kids into trying to be smart, but schools need to set a high standard beyond sliding by, because that’s all there ever going to do. It will have to be a process they just can’t suddenly raise it, but truly make school harder and harder. If a parent really wants to do their job, teach their kid things like determination, perseverance, commitment because that’s the type of things a school shouldn’t have to teach and it’s the type of things needed to make it in society. With these things backed up with an education, one has an abundance of opportunities. Besides those who inherit, think about all the people who are wealthy, they’re not dump people. Most to not all are educated beyond sliding by. That is what I want for my future kids. The opportunities are there for them but our present 1st-12th grade education system isn’t preparing them with the skills to go beyond in any direction they would want to choose. Face it if a kid had it their way nothing would get done, I believe if we force a little now they’ll thank us later. I know that for a fact because I thank my father all the time. My dad has several degrees even including a PHD from MIT retired at the age of 41; he taught me my morals while I was forced to never settle for just sliding by. When the school wasn’t teaching well enough my dad taught me. I don’t think other parents today can really teach their kids school work. That’s why schools need to pick their game up. If you have an objection to that this then boy I tell ya…..sorry if there’s grammar errors.

    ps. Dee Brown, why do you say that Obama is the worst thing to happen to this county. America needs a good ethnic President.

  12. kgotthardt says:

    Justin, you have had the advantage of having a dad with higher degrees, and those from a prestigous school. What about people who have NOT had those advantages? When you say young people don’t go to college because it’s too “hard,” do you mean they intellectually can’t handle it? Are you referring to the costs?

  13. Justin Jefferson says:

    Yell first off, I still went to a regular public school like everyone else. What made me the way I am was my dad pushing me the go further than average. And when I’m talking about education and school I mean 1st-12th. Our College education is still good. Its the grade level below it that is to far behind. That’s why even the people who do go to college drop out because it is to big of a jump.

  14. Citizen Tom says:

    Justin – There are reasons our colleges are still relatively good.
    1. It takes time for socialism to corrupt something. In fact, at first, socialism may even produce good results. Grades K – 12 have been in the hands of government for much longer time than college.
    2. A larger percentage of higher education is still in private hands. That competition helps.
    3. Many foreigners attend our colleges. The number of foreign born graduate students earning graduate degrees in science and technical fields at our universities is quite significant. Attracting these people and the money they bring provides an incentive to maintain quality.

  15. kgotthardt says:

    –What made me the way I am was my dad pushing me the go further than average.–

    Not all parents do that. I’m glad for you, however, and know you will succeed. You are obviously driven.

    When you make it to the top, help out the rest of us saps who couldn’t make it :)

  16. Justin Jefferson says:

    Yes foreigners do attend our colleges, and it might be because the government is kept out, but when Obama wants the government to step into the education system, I really don’t believe that one can call it socialism, because the government isn’t trying to control education out of power. But rather be like my dad and push the education to something that’s acceptable. Sad to say and that even if a kid graduates high school, so many (I’m just going to blunt) but so many are so dumb. Passing by isn’t enough with this new world we live in. Now everything is revolved around technology and scientific advancements. If the next generations aren’t keeping up the gap between the rich and the poor is just going to increase. And the poverty level is just going to follow, that’s why America is also trying so had to create more jobs that anybody can do that has a salary that one can live off of. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I do say we need to get out of China a bit and start producing more product in America, but if people would just get educated, more opportunities will open up. Sure college isn’t for everyone both financially and intellectual. But with the foundation of 12 years of good education, one has a better chance of make it than they do now. But it takes good education and I believe by regulation a bit of the government’s influence we can do what parents cannot. What my father did for me when schools didn’t. If you still have an objection to this, I would like to hear your alternative rather than just saying you don’t want the government. What other way can we make a brighter future for the next generation. So that they have all the opportunities open for them, not because they are born with them but because they are qualified for them.

  17. kgotthardt says:

    –Yes foreigners do attend our colleges, and it might be because the government is kept out, but when Obama wants the government to step into the education system, I really don’t believe that one can call it socialism, because the government isn’t trying to control education out of power–

    I agree, Justin. Still, we have very good schools in PWC. In any system, though, it’s up to parents to support their kids and demand what they need in order for their children to be successful. Also, children need to advocate for themselves. This starts by teaching and encouraging children to tell teachers when they do not understand and ask questions and even for extra help. I don’t think kids are taught this enough. My mama taught me to ask LOTS of questions, which I still do. That’s actually what good research is all about, and the skill helped me throughout my college years.

    “The most important thing is to never stop questioning.”
    –Albert Einstein

  18. Red Defender? says:

    kgotthardt – Just as “a rose by any other name is still a rose,” garbage by any other name is still garbage. While it might be possible to grow a rose in garbage, the garbage has to be composted first. :-)

    When our government owns and operates schools, by definition we are practicing socialism. Why not admit what is self evident? Why call what we are doing something else or simply claim what we are doing is not socialism? Are you in denial? Can you not be intellectually honest?

  19. Justin Jefferson says:

    Ok Red Defender if it were to be socialism how to you thing as if you were president, how would you go about making our education system better.

  20. Red Defender? says:

    Justin Jefferson – The U.S. Constitution has some relevance here. With the exception of DC and the territories, education is a state and local issue.

    If you insist on government financing (Except for the poor, I don’t see the need.), I think education vouchers would work best. The government could specify minimum requirements for schools to qualify for vouchers. If parents want to send their children to government-run schools, religious schools, or secular private schools, it is their choice. Children are the responsibility of parents, not government bureaucrats.

    Consider why we have a government-run education system. We are worried a few foolish parents might not educate their children or that they might not educate their children “properly”. So we trust the matter to politicians? What is this, Nazi Germany? Having government take over the entire education system just to stop a few stupid people from doing something stupid is silly and unnecessary overkill. How many parents care less about the welfare of children, particularly their own children, than politicians?

  21. kgotthardt says:

    The reason public education was started was that first, not every parent could afford to education his/her child. Tuition is unbelieveably expensive. A few tax cuts would never pay for it. Private schools can charge whatever they want. And vouchers would HAVE to cover the costs under such a system. So we all would end up paying more than we do now with some schools charging us more and more. And as in every system, some schools would take advantage and price people right out of the system. This happens in private higher education all the time.

    So let’s say you regulate private school tuition. Now we’re back to what Red calls “Socialism.”

    There’s no way out unless you want to deny some people education which is unacceptable.

  22. Red Defender? says:

    kgotthardt – There is an old quote about consistency and hobgoblins: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

    Some private schools are highly expensive. Most are not very expensive at all. In fact, the public school system is quite expensive. One thing the educrats do is give us the operating cost per student as if that number represents the cost per student. In Prince William County, that number understates the cost of the public school system by about 1/3 of the actual cost. The actual cost is well over 16,000 per student.

    Even in Prince William, numerous people are willing to go to great lengths to avoid the public school system. When we know the importance of giving customers a choice, why is it so hard to figure out why some people so much hate it? You know private corporations can be evil. Are you naive? Don’t you now government collectives can be just as evil?

  23. Justin Jefferson says:

    Why are you speaking as if the government if evil or bad, and if a parent wants to send their child to a public or private school is up to them. If they can afford private then stick to public, but I can say this though public schools are not expensive. The only thing a student is required to buy is materials such as pens paper folders unless he/she wants to do something extracurricular. I don’t see how you can say that if the government went into the education system that it will corrupt everything and somewhat brainwash kids as if parents would have no knowledge of it happening. If you still think that the government should stay out, I still haven’t read anything that would support an alternative to the fact that the American education 1st -12th grades are far behind thoughts in other countries. That’s the problem and we’re debating about only one solution.

  24. Old Fashion Liberal says:

    Interesting discussion. Justin, why do you speak as if public schools cost nothing? Taxes are nothing?

    Even if we spuriously concede your point, that public schools cost nothing, is that a good thing? When something is “free”, is it appreciated? Can we give away learning or don’t we each have to earn an education? Should not both children and their parents understand that an education comes at a cost?

    I suggest you consider why government exists. Is government about giving us things or protecting each individual’s right to make their own decisions?

    When government went into the education business, it made the choice of how we educate our children much less of a choice. When government owns and operates schools and then coerces parents to send their children to its schools, is that really necessary? Is that the only way or even the best way to operate schools? Does operating schools that way benefit children or special interests such as teacher’s unions?

  25. kgotthardt says:

    Turn the question around—do private schools benefit only certain children or special interests? How does government support of private schools remedy the situation you are referring to, OFL? And go back to my question, the one RD never answered:

    Assume we give everyone a school voucher (knowing the vouchers must come from tax dollars). These vouchers must pay for education.

    And as in every system, some schools would take advantage and price people right out of the system. This happens in private higher education all the time.

    So let’s say you regulate private school tuition.

    What’s the difference or the savings?

    What it comes down to is parents have the right to make demands of the public school system so they can get what they want. If they don’t like it, they can leave. But eliminating public education would do nothing for the economy or education in general except create chaos, confusion and price gouging.

  26. Red Defender? says:

    Some cars are more expensive than others. Yet somehow everyone can afford a car, and cars all do essentially the same thing and serve the same purpose.

    As the situation now stands, the rich and the determine have abandoned the public school system. These people recognize that the public school system offers them the exact choice you stated. Take it or leave it. Of course, these people are given no choice except to finance the system. So what it comes down to is that a powerful special interest group can dictate what it wants to everyone else.

    Why do people have such strange ideas about when it is important to have a choice? I suspect that has too much to do with money and personal self interest, not noble causes.

  27. Justin Jefferson says:

    Nobody answered the question yet. The question being if government shouldn’t be allowed in the education system. Then how should America fix it’s low standing education system. Not just in order to keep up with other countries but to really educate the next generations. I mean face it a GED and a HS Diploma isn’t cutting it as it used to. Also should America dumb it self (not correct grammar)in order to make everyone happy. How should we fix the fact that America is falling behind educationally wise. I want to hear solutions because anybody can raise a problem

  28. Citizen Tom says:

    Justin – There is an old joke. It is a simple one-liner. “Are you still beating your wife.”

    We all proceed through life with assumptions. If we tried to live our lives without assumptions, we would be forever testing every belief to ensure its validity. Nonetheless, much of what we assume as truth is not true. For example, consider the one-time belief of many Whites that Blacks were only fit to be slaves. Because some people fought that assumption, that invalid belief, we now have a president with Black ancestry.

    In our era, we tend to see government a vital part of the solution to many problems. Yet two hundred years ago, Americans got by with relatively little government. Back then small local government predominated. The Federal Government was quite small. To the extent government involved itself in education, it was a local matter.

    Why the move towards government. What underlying assumption changed?

    Most of our great institutions of higher education began as religious institutions. For various reasons, these institutions, while still private, have become secular. Why the drift towards secular government institutions?

    When you ask your questions, Justin, what are you assuming? Your first assumption is that education is America’s problem. Your second assumption (based upon the assumption that education is America’s problem) is that the Federal Government has a role in “fixing” our education system. I think both of those assumptions untrue.

    Use your imagination and question your assumptions. Is it possible that without testing your assumptions, you have accepted government-run education as the only viable solution. The solution is not working well. Why? Is it because the assumptions that support the choice of this solution are untrue?

    1. What would happen if government did nothing about education?
    2. Assuming government is needed to support the education of children, why is government needed? What value can government contribute?
    3. If government must be involved in education, what is the risk? How can government involvement create harm, and what should we being doing to prevent this harm?

    My concern is with the last question. Generations before us skipped serious consideration of the first two questions. Because politicians made promises (with other people’s money), citizens too willing accepted government involvement in education. “Free” gives us such a nice feeling of relief, but nothing is free. Somebody always pays. Instead of loving parents, we now have crafty politicians allowing special interests to insert all kinds of foolish assumptions into the minds of children.

    Because they would allow parents to reduce the affect politicians and special interests could have on the minds of their children, that is why I support education vouchers.

  29. kgotthardt says:

    –somehow everyone can afford a car–

    Um, NO, they can’t!

  30. Justin Jefferson says:

    I’m understanding what you are saying but you still didn’t state a solution about fixing America’s rank in today’s education system,or is that not a problem for you. I believe the if the government was to step in, yes they would need to be limited in how they can intervene. But we do need more money for school, also we need to keep public schools free, and we need to get the education level up to a higher standard. Because once again right now a normal education isn’t saying to much in today’s society.

    To answer your questions

    1. What would happen if government did nothing about education?

    A. Tell you the truth if the government doesn’t do something I don’t think our education system will improve ant times soon.

    2. Assuming government is needed to support the education of children, why is government needed? What value can government contribute?

    A. The government can provide funds for schools, oversee the progress that’s being made. That the standards for kids are being pushed, because that’s education. It isn’t about a grade but the knowledge you gain. Its a waste for kids to go to school for 12 good years and only learn basic skills. 12 years, and only know basic skills, that’s sad. (12 years)

    3. If government must be involved in education, what is the risk? How can government involvement create harm, and what should we being doing to prevent this harm?

    A. Yes I would say the risk is if the government gains to much control over our education system that schools may start require to many things. But that is why we have school boards, teacher unions, PSA organization, and a voice in government. If the government abuses it’s place in the education system then we as a voice in government should say “hey your going to far”

  31. Citizen Tom says:

    Justin – Government has already gone way too far. That is why so many have so much trouble seeing any solution except government.

    I gave you a solution. Do you know what education vouchers are? Education vouchers put the decision of where children go to school in the hands of parents. Government decides which schools can qualify for education vouchers, but parents decide which schools they want THEIR children to attend. The schools that parents choose receive taxpayer funding.

    Is not the true object of government involvement in education to ensure that children receive an education? Then why are we funding the public school system? Why not just subsidize the education of children? Why does government have to take over the entire process, lock, stock, and barrel?

    As the public school system now exists, it does not empower parents in the instruction of their children, but that is suppose to be the excuse for its existence. Instead, what the public school system does is to allow politicians to buy off a major special interest, the teacher unions.

    Ultimately, the decision about quality education must be up to parents. When your father learned you were not receiving a good education, he took a personal hand in the matter. You were fortunate in that he had the time and the skill to teach you personally. Education vouchers would allow those parents without the time and the skill to choose the best teachers for their children.

    kgotthardt – Virtually everyone in this country can afford a car. Because private industry competes to build cars, cars come in all shapes and sizes (from 18 wheelers to Smart cars). Competing private interests, unlike a monopolistic government, will provide the customer anything the customer is willing to pay for. Where private industry predominates, government fulfills its proper role. Government regulates and makes certain both the buyer and the seller are honest about the transaction. Government also ensures the car is safe.

    Is the system whereby we produce cars perfect? No. What is perfect?

    Are government monopolies perfect? Government is just about wholly responsible for road construction. This monopoly has failed to produce roads that can carry the traffic load. The reason for this failure is actually quite simple. Just as we have with the public school system, we have give total control of road construction over to politicians. Politicians build our roads where they want to build them and how they want to build them. Whether we want to use these roads or not, we taxpayers still have to pay for them.

    What a politician calls “free” is not free. Instead, what a politician calls “free” is a payoff to a special interest group. Since the people who use the roads are not the most important special interest group, our roads do not satisfy their needs. Nevertheless, a certain special interest group is usually made quite happy. Developers usually find new roads quite adequate to bring buyers to their new housing developments.

  32. Justin Jefferson says:

    OK if you want to go with School vouchers then your saying that parents should pay to have their child have a better education, and that they need to send their child to a school that would give it to them. Not mention, that school could be over 50 miles away when there is a school that is in walking distance. I bet you didn’t know this but they’re already programs set up such as the Magnet Program and yes they work but they have a flaw. By doing this a lot of the brighter kids that are being pushed by their parents are going to start attending the same school. While leaving other schools with the minds that don’t want to learn. Thus segregating schools between the intelligents from the norm. Making Prestigious schools over normal school. Thus not fixing the overall problem. Sure a couple of school may become high standing schools that teach at a higher level but that 1 out 4 schools, or you can say 5 out 20 schools. Sure 5 schools may be raising their standards to a more acceptable standing, but what about the other 15.

  33. Citizen Tom says:

    Justin – Every choice, every option, every alternative has benefits and problems associated with it. Having government schools does not fix all the problems associated with schooling children. All it does is create a monopoly. Whenever government runs an enterprise it seeks to eliminate every other choice, every other option, every other alternative. Government monopolies destroy competition.

    Magnet schools only exist because of the competition from private schools and homeschooling. Parents want what is best for their children, not everyone else’s children. When parents have the opportunity to choose the best schools for THEIR children, competition solves the overall problem.

  34. Citizen Tom says:

    Justin – One other thing. Why should we have confidence in any system that leaves its customers so little choice? What is there about about the education of children that makes it a natural monopoly? Why does our government have to run the school system and arm-twist parents into educating children in one particular way?

    Education is not a natural monopoly. That is why we still have private schools. What instead true is that certain certain special interests (teacher unions, in particular) and powerful politicians want the education of children to be a monopoly (under their control).

    Years ago, our forebears wandered down the socialist road quite by accident. Now, even though continuing down that road should be regarded as obviously perilous, people fear going back. In spite of all the hullabaloo about wanting change, in actual fact people fear change.

  35. Justin Jefferson says:

    Well I’m going to call a truths to agree to disagree in that you believe that the government should stay out of the school system and that school vouchers should be put into motion. And I believe that the government should have their 2cents in the school system so that the school rankings can increase, more school funding will be provided, and things can get done, because I don’t see too many people that will step up to the plate to do anything about our school rankings and funds.

  36. Citizen Tom says:

    Justin – Thank you for the dialogue. As you ponder your ideas, I suggest you consider an aspect of the problem that too many neglect.

    When we review the possibilities of how we might improve the public school system, we must remember what it means when we use the term system. What is a system? In this context, the public school system is like a machine. It responds to certain inputs and produces certain outputs. The public school system’s response to various inputs is determined solely by how the system is put together. What people want and what was intended when the system was put together does not matter much. What matters is how the system works. All the rest is wishing.

    Consider an automobile. We control a car via the gas pedal, the brake, and the steering wheel. We put gasoline into it to make it go. So long as we properly maintain a car, we can drive on paved roads. However, wish as we might, we cannot make a car fly. That is a feature beyond the capacities of the system we call an automobile.

    Such I think is the problem of the public school system. Many want the public school system to fly, but flying is beyond its capacity. Time and the quest for power have replaced the one-room school house with bureaucratic institutions designed for mass indoctrination. In the process of attending such institutions, children too easily lose their innate love of learning. Except for their freedom from such monstrosities, socialist bureaucracies have shown little capacity for teaching people how to love.

  37. Justin Jefferson says:

    true….

  38. kgotthardt says:

    Tom, if you are going to have tax payers foot the bill for vouchers, how will you make sure one private school doesn’t charge too much? As a tax payer, I’m not going to pay for Johnnie Jones to attend a $15,000 a term private elementary school while my kid attends one that costs $5,000 at year. Solution?

  39. kgotthardt says:

    –kgotthardt – Virtually everyone in this country can afford a car. Because private industry competes to build cars, cars come in all shapes and sizes (from 18 wheelers to Smart cars). Competing private interests, unlike a monopolistic government, will provide the customer anything the customer is willing to pay for.–

    People who can’t afford to buy cars are given loans they can’t pay. That is how we ended up with the mortgage crises. People need cars. People need homes. Most will do whatever they have to in order to get these things, even if it’s harmful and could end up in repossession/foreclosure.

  40. Citizen Tom says:

    kgotthardt – Why is it any of your business or my business what a private school wants to charge? Is your object to make certain poor children are able to receive an education or to make all children equal. There is a difference. While making certain that even the poor have the opportunity to learn is feasible, trying make everyone equal is nothing more than a dangerous exercise in futility.

    What educational vouchers would do is give parents control; it would allow even poor parents the opportunity to educate THEIR children THEIR way, not my way or your way. If parents in remote areas want to work together to set up a public school, it makes sense, but their choice does not have to be a national issue or a state-wide issue. Neither does one person’s choicehave to be everyone else’s choice.

    We know government is inefficient. So why put the government in charge of an education monopoly? Is it not nothing more than a dumb waste of money? Government could not run a fast food place without making the operation ridiculously expensive and “free.” Otherwise, nobody would eat the food.

    Your explanation of the mortgage lending mess does not square with the facts. The reason people borrowed money to buy homes they could not afford is government starting buying bad loans. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are GOVERNMENT SPONSORED and GOVERNMENT CREATED institutions. Through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac our GOVERNMENT bought bad loans from lenders. Without the duplicity of our GOVERNMENT officials, these bad loans would never have been made. Without some idiot to buy them, bundle them, and then pass them off as a good investment, there would have been no profit in making bad loans. Without GOVERNMENT ineptitude and the deceit of some of our public officials, we would never have had a housing bubble.

    We know what some of our government officials are capable of doing when we trust them too much. We have graphic evidence of their deceit and greed. Trusting such people with the education of children is utterly irresponsible. So why do you insist on defending their almost absolute control over education?

  41. kgotthardt says:

    –Why is it any of your business or my business what a private school wants to charge? —

    Because if I am reading you right, you think tax payers should pay for all vouchers. This means I have to pay for someone to attend Elite School X which can charge whatever it wants which means it is charging ME! Even if I had all the money in the world, I would not send my kid to some elementary school that charges more than a college. Do you see what I am saying here? I shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s excesses.

    Now, I might be misreading you. If I am, please do tell!

  42. kgotthardt says:

    BTW, would you consider yourself a Libertarian, Tom? I’m just curious. I also think it’s interesting that you despise government so much but are a member of a political party. Can you explain that? (I’m not trying to be disrespectful or anything here. I’m just trying to understand where you are coming from.)

  43. Old Fashion Liberal says:

    kgotthardt, you say Citizen Tom despises government, but he has not said that he does. You support the government education monopoly. Do you despise parents and love government?

    Thomas Jefferson had a high regard for education, but I suspect he would have been horrified by our public education system. It is the wrong use of government.

    The goal of ensuring every child receives an education is laudable. Unfortunately, the people who run our system of public education have not satisfied themselves with the mere fulfillment of that goal. What they have done is usurped the parent’s responsibility for the education of their children.

    Because the government-run education system is a monopolistic, it leaves parents no choice over the content. The system thrusts the dictates of the “experts” and the politicians on parents. It is either either take of spend thousands on the alternative of your choice.

    This illustrates why socialism is immoral. Socialism violates the People’s right to make their own choices.

  44. Old Fashion LIberal says:

    Correction
    “It is either either take of spend thousands on the alternative of your choice.”

    It is either take it or spend thousands of dollars on the alternative of your choice.

  45. kgotthardt says:

    OFL, no, Tom didn’t use the word “despise.” He just doesn’t like it, as his posts demonstrate. I’m just asking him to explain.

    I don’t think you and I or Tom and I will agree on the issue of public education because I don’t see that the government has “usurped” it. People are free to send their children to private schools or home school. You say, “It is either either take of spend thousands on the alternative of your choice” but that’s what Tom’s voucher program sounds like–it sounds like he is saying we should all pay for vouchers so parents can send their children where they like. But without a limit, some parents would be sending their kids to expensive schools, thus raising MY taxes higher than they are now in the public school system. Do you see where my concern is?

    (Please let’s not go down the “Socialism” path. Tom and I have duked it out over that term enough :))

  46. Citizen Tom says:

    kgotthardt – This blog is not about me, and I do not talk about my feelings. Whether I despise or dislike government is not of much import. I think it is truth of ideas that should interest us.

    Consider how typical it is for people to go to extremes. Some of us love nothing more than making other people do the right thing. Unfortunately, in the process of making those “other people” do the right thing, those people making others do the right thing too often become bullies.

    Government is a tool. Like any other tool, it can be misused. When people use government just to impose their will upon “other people,” they engage in an arrogant abuse of power. Yes! It is true! Even in the United States, we have arrogant abuses of power.

    It is quite understandable that many should want for all children to have the opportunity to receive an education. To protect society from the burden of ignorant people, we most certainly can justify government involvement. Nonetheless, the possibility of a few ignorant people does not excuse the creation of a government-run education monopoly. There is no need. Such a solution goes far beyond the need. Where is the necessity of monopolizing an entire industry and forcing everyone to pay taxes to enforce such a monopoly? When government makes such a poor educator, why risk destroying our entire society for the sake of a small problem?

    Consider just this one example. Because our government schools have failed to teach children proper values, we have chosen leaders who do not respect their oaths to defend and uphold the Constitution.

  47. kgotthardt says:

    Tom, all I am asking is this:

    To make sure people aren’t asking for more and more tax money to pay for vouchers for over-priced schools, how would you, in your proposed voucher plan, make sure abuses like that didn’t happen? There would have to be SOME way because as you point out, “Even in the United States, we have arrogant abuses of power.”

  48. Citizen Tom says:

    kgotthardt — You have not noticed that we already have that problem?

    Why are you demanding that I do something nobody else has ever done? Can you show me any government program that cannot and will not ever be abused? :roll:

    If I had my druthers I would slowly scrap the public school system and only support educational subsidies (in this case educational vouchers), that targeted the children of poor parents. And I think the children of poor parents would benefit immensely. Why? Poor neighborhoods have the worst public schools. Poor parents cannot afford to live in areas that have relatively good schools.

    Until we have scrapped the public school system and as long as public schools exist, ALL parents should have the option of taking money that would otherwise be spent on the public schools and spending it on the school(s) of their choice.

    Choice is the essence of freedom. When a People calls itself free, it is because people have choices. When a People is in bondage, it is because their slave masters insist upon choosing for them.

  49. kgotthardt says:

    “Why are you demanding that I do something nobody else has ever done?”

    Because you brought it up! LOL!

  50. Concerned about Amnesty says:

    kgotthardt –

    It’s obvious that you have no idea how the voucher program would work. In a voucher system, each child is given a specific amount of money that can be used for either public or private school. So if I want to send my child to a private school, I apply the voucher towards tuition. If the voucher covers the amount, then I’m fine. If it doesn’t, then I have to pony up the difference. No one would have to pay more in taxes to make the difference.

    So let’s say I want to send my kid to Private Academy and I have a voucher for $5k and tuition is $7k – I either need to pay the $2k difference or apply for a scholarship.

    Every student gets the same amount – regardless of where they live or what school they want to go to.

    And BTW – we already “foot the bill” for education. Each school gets a certain amount of money for the students from both the state and local governments. Federal government kicks in money for special needs students and ELL students. The average is about $7k per child. Public education is not free as many believe. In some cases, public education costs MORE than private education, if the student has special needs.

    Private schools have regulations that they have to follow in order to be considered a school in the state of Virginia. The private schools have to justify their tuition, so as not to price gauge or be elitist.

    Tom is absolutely correct about poor neighborhoods having the worst schools. Vouchers would allow parents to send their child to a private school or even to a better public school within the same district.

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