October 27, 2008

Obama Aims to Redistribute Our Tax Dollars

By Donald G. Mashburn

Despite the sophistry and outright lies by Barack Obama and his supporters, the Illinois Democrat does indeed plan to distribute your tax dollars to those who pay little or no tax. That statement is based on the first-term senator’s own words, as we shall see.

Voters can discard the hollow arguments made by Obama supporters in the liberal media that criticism of the extreme-left Democrat – on any point, at all – is “unfair” or “negative.” For anyone with even a cursory knowledge of economics, and our nation’s current fiscal illnesses, knows that Obama’s taxation and spending plans are, in truth, “socialistic” in intent, and are aimed at “income redistribution” – our income.

These are not baseless accusations from his political opponents. These are solid opinions of numerous objective economists. And they are conclusions that objective observers arrive at by analyzing Obama’s career and his public statements during this painfully long presidential campaign.

Earlier in the campaign, Obama gave us some clear insight into his economic philosophy, when he made a disturbing comment about technology: “[T]echnology and automation all weaken the position of workers, … and a strong government hand is needed to assure that wealth is distributed more equitably.”

Both Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx could say, with enthusiasm, “I approve this message.”

Obama’s idea of the government’s control and redistribution of our wealth has no place in our free enterprise system. His kind of thinking puts him on the far left of the economic spectrum, and assures that he neither “looks like” nor sounds like “those other presidents on the … five dollar bill.” It’s apparent Obama prefers a system of government that is either socialistic or follows policies that tilt toward socialism.

And the whining protests from Joe Biden and other Obama defenders have no validity when Obama himself clearly states that a “strong government hand” must “assure that wealth is distributed more equally.”

Where in the Constitution, or in the Book of Common Sense, does it say that distribution – or redistribution – of wealth is the government’s role?

Obama’s “distribution of wealth” comment was not an isolated remark. He reaffirmed his socialistic bent when he recently told Joe the Plumber of his plans to “spread the wealth.”

Those who have lived in places like Cuba under Fidel Castro, or have seen, as I have, the old Soviet Union and East Germany when they were under the heavy hand of Communism, understand Obama’s words and can make the mental leap to the impoverished conditions his kind of thinking produces.

Voters should have no doubt that Obama and his far-left backers want to change the way Americans live, work, and pay taxes. To make matters worse, Obama has a glaring lack of experience in the world most Americans live in, a world of free enterprise where private property is a citizen’s right.

To elect someone so deficient in experience, and with such slanted economic views, as president is downright scary.

From Obama’s own statements, his concept of the handling of the economy is to increase government spending, tax burdens, and regulation. But by his own comments, he reveals a lack of understanding of the relationship between jobs, the economy, and government policies on taxes and regulation.

His comments on the “strong hand” of government distribution and spreading the wealth of working Americans should scare every voter into saying a resounding “No!” to Obama’s kind of change.

This nation’s current economic ill health is too bad to risk having a “trainee president” who would learn the job from the people that helped shape his thinking.

The Death of America’s Corporate Conscience

By Donald G. Mashburn

Greed and thievery were not invented by the Boardroom Bandits who make off with tens of millions in corporate loot, just as, or shortly before, the companies they were hired to manage folded or had to be taken over by others.

Human greed and lust for the property of others date back to before the time when the Ten Commandments were delivered to Moses.

But the modern Robin hoods have, with the aid of inside accomplices, often operating as a “compensation committee,” have made it pay in amounts the likes of Jesse James, the Dalton Gang, and John Dillinger never imagined.

And they’ve done it without any apparent sense of guilt or remorse. They act as if they’re entitled to a raid on shareholder money. America’s corporate conscience seems to have died, and greedy CEOs and their enablers inside accomplices helped hasten its death.

In trampling on what normal business executives see as an ethical way of doing business, and being paid well for doing a good job, these latter-day boardroom bandits apparently have lost all perspective on what’s right, what’s fair pay, and what’s a “good job.”

Some, in some twisted manner of self-serving reasoning, have the gall to claim they’re entitled to their huge windfalls. Even when their company failed on their watch, or was drawing its last corporate breath, some obscenely enriched executives were fired for poor performance, then allowed to bail out with a golden parachute.

This “art” of grabbing the loot of shareholders – often called “stealing” when done without the vote of a compensation committee or board of directors – has been polished to a fine art among earlier members of the Boardroom Bandit club. But it took the likes of Franklin D. Raines of Fannie Mae and Stan O’Neal of Merrill Lynch to take their obscene payoffs to new highs, while taking their companies to the bottom.

Raines, CEO of Fannie Mae (FNM) some five years, reportedly was forced out when Fannie’s regulator threatened a lawsuit. He left, with Fannie in deep trouble, with a deferred compensation of $8.7 million, and $114,000 per year for life.

In 2006, the government file a lawsuit to recover $90 million Raines received based on overstated wages. The government settled the suit, for what the Wall Street Journal called a “paltry settlement,” and allowed Raines and two other FNM officials to “keep the bulk of their riches.”

By now, virtually everyone knows that the federal government, with taxpayer debt dollars, has nationalized both Fannie Mae and its sibling, Freddie Mac.

Stanley O’Neal, after “leading” Merrill Lynch, with a market cap of around $50 billion, to near ruin with a full-bore plunge into the subprime mortgage market, was rewarded with a golden parachute worth an eye-boggling $160 million. The Associated Press put the package at $250 million.

Whatever the amount – or any amount over day wages – it was exorbitant, in view of the condition of Merrill Lynch when Bank of America recently stepped in to pick up the pieces of the storied brokerage firm for cents on the dollar.

These are just two accounts of weak, misguided, reckless management by CEOs that took their firms down the wrong paths to financial ruin.

Occasionally, a few CEOs that couldn’t play by the rules – and didn’t have compensation committees and boards of directors covering the heists – got caught, and for their ill-gotten millions had to spend time in tax-paid facilities with free room and board.

All too often, the exorbitant salaries and extras paid top management in large corporations have no correlation with company performance. The golden parachutes of Franklin Raines and Stan O’Neal are just two of the many cases where sorry performance was rewarded by enriching the departing – most often, forced to resign – CEO.

Compared with these overpaid corporate treasury raiders, the lad from Missouri, Jesse James, was rather talented. He risked life and limb for his money, and if he didn’t perform well, he missed a payday. And if he made a mistake, he didn’t get the big payoff.

The business game should not be a game that’s rigged to benefit error-prone risk takers. The man running the show is being paid to do a good job. If he doesn’t, he should be replaced.