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Charlie Traffas
Charlie Traffas has been involved in marketing, media, publishing and insurance for more than 40 years. In addition to being a fully-licensed life, health, property and casualty agent, he is also President and Owner of Chart Marketing, Inc. (CMI). CMI operates and markets several different products and services that help B2B and B2C businesses throughout the country create customers...profitably. You may contact Charlie by phone at (316) 721-9200, by e-mail at ctraffas@chartmarketing.com, or you may visit at www.chartmarketing.com.
From the Publisher
2012-10-02 13:37:33
Say it ain't so Joe - series
A- In order to get the most out of this column, you will need to have read last month’s column. Only then will you understand the statement used throughout, “Say it ain’t so Joe.” You can do this by going to www.theqandatimes.com, clicking recent issues, pulling up the September ’12 issue and reading my article beginning on Page 1. Before I get to some solutions next month…I have a few more “Say it ain’t so Joes” for this month, along with some comments on events that are happening throughout the world. Even though some of them may seem like old news, you will hear and read about them all again between now and the election. When you do, you will have the facts. And just in case you are going to maintain that this article contains one or more untruths…be sure when you call or email, you can also tell me what it is or what they are and why. You won’t get a lot back from me if you don’t. The only things that should happen between now and the election are ramifications of current policies and the debates. We will see how much they affect it all. Thus far, all we have from both sides is mostly “worthless rhetoric.” I will make my case as to “why” as I continue. While it will always be the will of God for whatever happens to our country, our lives and the entire world, He wants us to ask for things to be His will, and pray for His will to be done, that He make us an instrument of His will, and that He give us the grace to accept His will. This may offend some of you, and that’s okay. Your issues with it will only be temporary, as it will be proven to everyone to be more true than the sun coming up in the East tomorrow morning…that is if God wills it to come up. First let’s take a more simplified look at what is going on. President Obama and the Democrats are asking for 4 more years. Former President Clinton maintains that because he participated with a bipartisan Congress in balancing the budget and creating a surplus 15 years ago, President Obama can do it too. While this may appear to some of you, on first blush, akin to “pushing a noodle up a hill,” let me just say…as inept, incompetent and inexperienced as President Obama seems to be at times, he is much more astute than most give him credit. The biggest reason why things are not fixed is because his focus is on a much “bigger prize”…and because of this, he has gotten himself involved in what should be a very close election. This is not to say his ideology could ever fix things, but even if it could, he has not done the job that was required of him. Not having a Jobs Council meeting since January when we have 23 Million people unemployed or underemployed; only attending 44% of his daily security briefings for the country; his disregard for the Simpson-Bowles recommendations for our economy when it is hurting like it is; the way he handled the debt ceiling negotiations increase a year ago that led us to the “taxmageddon” we are facing between now and the end of this year; the downgrade in our credit; and the other ways he has gone about doing the things he has done…is not indicative of someone who is attentive, diligent and worthy of the position. If someone is going to be a “maverick” in the way he or she does a job…it had better work, whether he is “among the most sophisticated consumers of intelligence on the planet” or not. It has not worked. No president in history has approached his job the way President Obama has approached his. I doubt that anyone…left, right or independent…will refute this. At press time, in addition to all of our domestic woes, we had the murders of our ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans in Libya; the storming of our embassies in Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Tunisia, and riots, uprisings, murders and injuries in more than two dozen other hot spots throughout the world; the “red line” request to President Obama by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for Iran to stop their nuclear program, that he has ignored; the failure by President Obama to meet with Netanyahu about the same in spite of more than 140 bipartisan requests from lawmakers that he do so; the terrible human tragedies that are still occurring in Syria; and so much else. It is hard to believe that all of these happening at the same time are a coincidence. The White House says all of these are the result of an anti-Islam movie. Really? It’s not a movie. It’s a 14 minute trailer...and it’s been on YouTube since July. I would think if it was all about a message, as soon as that message was out there, the riots and uprisings would have begun, wouldn’t you? Why did they wait three months? What is going to happen when the Bin Laden movie comes out in a couple of months? And all of these uprisings and attacks have nothing to do with what are proving to be the administration’s naive and toothless policies, right? From now on will we have to fade the action of any group in the world who wants to take issue with something someone says or writes? What kind of a world will this be? And where is the mainstream media in all of this? Following these events, their news was full of ridicule for Governor Romney and little about what was happening and why? President Obama has taken his “eye off the ball” big time…the “ball” that was more important to him than anything. This “bigger prize” he seeks is an article series in itself, but I won’t go into it now. You just need to know that getting re-elected to a second term is paramount for him. Now it doesn’t matter that he and the Democrats asked for the job 4 years ago, saying they could fix the problems of the country…and things are the same or worse…because the “mess was much bigger than they thought,” which I will also address in this article. They are asking for 4 more years because they feel their way is the way it needs to be. They believe that big government is the answer to fix the nation’s problems. They believe in equal outcome based upon the principles of socialism…whatever it takes for society to exist and prosper should come as taxes from successful businesses and from those people who have been successful in business. They outwardly state, “Government is the only thing that we all belong to.” The “haves” take care of the “have nots,” regardless whether a person works, works hard, or doesn’t work at all. They believe this process must be managed by a big government…because only a big government…with lots of people in lots of positions…will know what is best for everyone. They believe that a nation cures its problems from the bottom and the middle up, when this big government steps in and takes from the top, giving it to the bottom and the middle, along with money it pumps into the economy. This is known as Keynesian economics. It doesn’t work. It never has. Europe is reeling from it now. Although Romney and the Republicans’ talking points say they want a smaller government, I wonder sometimes. What they have “sown” is large too…but not to the degree of the Democrats. They want a government that for a large part, gets out of the way, so the free enterprise system (business) can be successful without manipulation. They believe in equal opportunity based upon the principles of capitalism…whatever it takes for society to exist and prosper should come as taxes from everyone, with more coming from successful businesses and from those people who have been successful in business, but with rules and regulations in place that are pro-growth, so business thrives…the economy grows…and even more revenues are collected to take care of everyone who needs taking care of…without a huge government bureaucracy to manage the process. This approach has worked well in our country for 236 years. They believe that government belongs to the citizens…not the other way around. Both sides think they are right…which is the way it should be, and as far as I am concerned, neither side is a “bad guy” until that side demonizes a person from the other side for having a view counter to theirs. But as bold as this might sound, the win in November is not about who gets to be President. It’s much more about the added “bonus” that goes to the winning side. This added “bonus” is the right to appoint anywhere from 2 to 4 Supreme Court Justices over the next four years. If President Obama wins, this could easily trigger the biggest “fundamental transformation our country” has ever seen, with changes, modifications and/or repeals of several Amendments to our Constitution, including but not limited to the First, Second, Fourth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twenty-Second, and Twenty-Third, plus a preponderance of executive orders that could change things more quickly than legislation could ever do. The right to make these appointments and invoke these executive orders will prove to be much bigger than anything else that is at stake in this election. Here is why it is not, what everyone has been saying, “All about jobs and the economy.” Earlier I used the phrase, “worthless rhetoric.” I will put some “pants” on this. Neither side is proposing solutions that will fix our country’s problems…but most would never know. From all the show and talk, one would believe that one side or both have the answers to solve the problems we face…and do we ever have some whoppers. We have more than $16 Trillion in national debt. We will overspend again this year (of the $2.2 Trillion we take in) by $1.3 Trillion. It is projected to be much more in the years to come, which all adds to our existing $16 Trillion debt. Our entitlement programs (Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security) will be insolvent in a handful of years. We have 23 Million people out of work, with more than 47 Million people on food stamps. Estimates as high as 6 Million people have left the work force in the past 3 ½ years because they couldn’t find a job. Regardless of the actual number, we now have the lowest number of people that are employed since 1981. This is an amazing statistic. Here with all of the births we’ve had, all of the immigration…legal and illegal…all of the technology, all of the inventions, all of everything…our economy is so bad with so many people out of work, that we have no more employed than we did more than 30 years ago! It is estimated that 20% of what we spend goes to waste, fraud and abuse. A bipartisan report just published at press time said there is $700 Billion in waste, fraud and abuse in health care alone. How sick is this? That is our entire defense budget…before the cuts that will take place in the upcoming “taxmageddon!” Foreclosures are at an all time high. A record number of college loans are in default. Most people have been groomed by politicians to hate those people with an opposite or counter view to theirs on any issue. Nothing is getting done in Washington, DC, and if it is a split government again after this election (either party failing to control the House, Senate and the White House), nothing will get done over the next 4 years. The world does not think, respect or believe we will be there if they need us…as they have thought for the past 70 plus years. It has also been that long since our nation’s defense has been as weak and diluted as it is today…and will be tomorrow. The biggest reason why the US is still the most relevant “player on the planet” is because the US Dollar is the world’s reserve currency. But the printing presses are reducing this relevance each day. We cannot continue to print Trillions of dollars (actually we add zeroes to the magic balance sheet) without it coming back to haunt us in a big way in the future. The Federal Reserve just announced the third round of quantitative easing (QE3). In addition to the $2.3 Trillion pumped in since President Obama took office, and the $45 Billion per month we are continuing to pump in through the end of the year called Operation Twist, beginning immediately and with no designated end date, they will buy an additional $40 Billion per month of mortgage backed securities. If there was ever an admission by this administration that its policies are not working...this is it. Am I the only one who thinks that there is so much going wrong on so many fronts…that it all has to be planned and not just a coincidence? If not, how could anyone who has had anything to do with this mess, ever ask to keep the job they have in the part they play? Think about this for a moment before you answer. Just as the old saying goes, “It’s later than it’s ever been,” so too is the statement, “The problems we face today are bigger now than they have ever been in the history of our country.” Last month I explained why our budget cannot be balanced under our current tax code. This isn’t hate folks, and it isn’t spin. It is for real. The budget cannot be balanced…EVER…under our current tax code. Even “Paul Revere Ryan”, the supposed budget guru, cannot provide a date that the budget can be balanced under the Republican’s plan, except, “…somewhere down the line in the 2040s…”. He stutters worse than Mel Tillis ever did when he is asked. President Obama, fresh off getting “bitten” on most every promise and commitment he has made since he began to run for President in 2007, doesn’t even state that the budget can be balanced or when. Take this to the bank…this country will not be as it is today…if the budget cannot be balanced quickly…and that means within the next four years. No matter who is elected…if our tax code stays the same…we will have continual deficit spending, which means a continual piling on to our national debt of $16 Trillion. The Democrats want to spend more and increase taxes on the wealthy, but they are not advocating a big enough tax increase to do any good, as revoking the Bush tax cuts on those making more than $200,000 ($250,000 households) will only bring in an additional $70 Billion per year, making this year’s deficit $1.23 Trillion, not counting their additional spending. The Republicans are wanting to cut spending and keep all of the Bush tax cuts in force, but they have only figured out how to cut spending by $120 Billion, so with none of the $70 Billion coming in from the increased taxes on the wealthy, this year’s deficit under their plan would be $1.18 Trillion. The difference between both plans on the budget is $50 Billion per year. Now while that would be a nice “pile” for several thousand of us, it is “peanuts” when compared to our problems. Yet this is all we have heard for months, “Increase taxes on the wealthy,” “Pay your fair share,” and “Don’t increase taxes on anyone.” It’s all a whole bunch to do about nothing, and look at all of the valuable time that is being wasted. It is all “worthless rhetoric,” surrounded by lies, distortions, deflections and detractions by both sides. “Say it ain’t so Joe.” Here is one of the top distortions, deflections and deceits that has been thrown upon the American people ever since President Obama was sworn in…and no one…most of all Governor Romney, Paul Ryan and any of the Republicans are telling it like it is. What is wrong with them? Why would anyone use generalizations and innuendo to refute something when they could use the facts? President Obama and the Democrats are continually talking about the “mess” that they inherited from the Bush administration. Really? In spite of all you have heard…let me present the facts…and before you classify me as being hateful, you should know that these have never been denied by anyone in the Obama administration or by the Democrats. They are facts. The day the Democrats took over was not January 22nd, 2009 when President Obama was sworn into office. It was January 3rd 2007, two years earlier. On this day, the Democrats took over the House of Representatives and the Senate, at the very start of the 110th Congress. This was the first time the Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate since the end of the 103rd Congress in 1995. On this day, the DOW Jones closed at 12,621.77. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate for the previous quarter was 3.5%. The Unemployment rate was at 4.6%. The National Debt was at $10.7 Trillion. Who wouldn’t trade these numbers for today’s? Yet what do we hear from the Obama campaign? We are better off today. Really? Do I need to repeat the problems we have that I listed earlier? We didn’t have any of them 4 years ago to the extent that we have them today. On the day the Democrats took over, Barney Frank took over the House Financial Services Committee and Chris Dodd took over the Senate Banking Committee. The economic meltdown that happened 15 months later was in what part of the economy? You guessed it…the banking and financial services sectors! $5.6 Trillion of toxic loans were dumped on the economy from the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac fiascoes, whose policies were advanced by President Clinton during his second term. President Bush asked Congress 17 times to stop Fannie & Freddie…starting in 2001…because it was financially risky for the US economy. And in all of this…who took the third highest pay-off from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? It was then presidential candidate Barack Obama. And who fought against reform of Fannie and Freddie in early 2009? It was newly elected President Obama and the Democrat Congress, especially Barney. The budget process and expenditures originate in Congress, not the White House. Policies originate in the White House, then Congress acts up on these policies. The party that controlled Congress from January 3rd of 2007 through January 23rd of 2011 was the Democrats. In November 2010, the Republicans won the majority of the House, but the Democrats still controlled the Senate and the White House. The Democrats have controlled the budget process for all budgets from 2008 through 2011, even though the country has not had a budget in more than 3 ½ years because our beloved Harry Reid won’t bring one up for a vote in the Senate. The Democrats have made the statement about the “mess they inherited” so many times without any rebuttal from the other side, it has been accepted as being the way it is. “Say it ain’t so Joe.” In those first two budget years (2007 and 2008) that they took over, the Democrats had to contend with George Bush, which caused them to compromise on spending, when Bush somewhat belatedly got tough on spending increases, which I have vociferously faulted him for in this column. But in 2009, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid bypassed President Bush entirely, passing continuing resolutions to keep government running until Barack Obama could take office. At that time, they passed a massive omnibus spending bill to complete the 2009 budgets. And where was Barack Obama during this time? He was a member of that very Congress that passed all of these massive spending bills, and he signed the omnibus bill as President to complete 2009. If the Democrats inherited any deficit, it was the 2007 deficit, the last of the Republican budgets. That deficit was the lowest in five years, and the fourth straight decline in deficit spending. After that, Democrats in Congress took control of spending, and that includes Barack Obama, who voted for the budgets. If President Obama inherited anything, he inherited it from himself. In a nutshell, what he is saying is, “I inherited a deficit that I voted for…and then I voted to expand that deficit four-fold since January 22nd, 2009.” Not only is Washington broken, and most all its politicians, but the Romney campaign people who are in charge of messaging to get out to the public have proven them selves to be anything but the “sharpest knives in the drawer.” Who would allow an improper message to continue with no counter message…when a factual counter message exists? Their failure to provide the same “waters” and “fertilizes” continued spreading of the same old rhetoric. Now that rhetoric has “roots” and it is harder than ever to pull them. “Say it ain’t so Joe.” Remember the Obama Super PAC (Priorities USA) ad that showed a person (Joe Soptic) who was blaming Romney for the death of his wife, who had died from cancer? The Washington Post puts out a rating on all campaign ads and assigns a “Pinocchio” rating of 1 to 4 for each ad insofar as distortions and lies. This ad achieved the highest rating of 4 “Pinocchios.” You need the full details on this. Since no one has ever presented all of the facts in one place, I will present them now. Romney was CEO of Bain Capital, a venture capital company he and two other partners founded in 1984. What do you suppose the CEO’s job is for a private or public company? If it’s not maximizing the return on investment, or ROI, the position does not need to be filled, as there is nothing else more important for a CEO to do. Bain Capital turned its focus in the early 90s to leveraged buyouts and growth capital companies. This means that they looked for companies who were bankrupt, or almost bankrupt, that they could buy for a good price, invest capital, manpower, operations and marketing (retooling), and turn the company around and sell it for a profit, or continue to operate it profitably. Read this again. Bain Capital looked for companies that were bankrupt…or almost bankrupt…that they could turn around. Without Bain Capital these companies would not “make it,” or certainly would not “make it” to the extent that they could or did. In some cases they knew immediately and had to shut down the company. In otherer cases, they had to go in and “re-tool.” The “re-tooling” process includes a look at and changes to sales, operations, projections, labor, assets, short and long term liabilities, and a whole lot more. If they could change and modify things, increase the investment and make it produce, they did. If not, they shut it down and put the resources and assets they had planned to use for that company to work in other situations. Guess what? Every business owner throughout the history of man has done the very same thing. The owner of the business makes a determination of whether or not he/she can change or modify things in such a way for the limited amount of resources they have invested to produce an acceptable return. If things can be changed or modified, it is done and he/she tries that for awhile. If it can’t be changed, the business is shut down and whatever resources are left, are used in another venture. That’s capitalism and entrepreneurism. There is nothing to apologize for. If a business can make it by relocating, or having other companies provide products and services to them (outsourcing) at a lower price than they do them selves, they do it. Every business outsources. Every aircraft plant outsources. Every manufacturer outsources. Radio and TV stations outsource. Retailers outsource. Using temps in a company is outsourcing. Using a home health aide from a home health provider is outsourcing. My company outsources web development to other companies, one of which is overseas. Who is so shallow that they don’t understand this and wants to make it an issue? I have the answer…those very same people who have never built anything, created a job, or hired anyone to do anything in their life. If they had, they would understand this. Since Bain’s beginning, they have invested in all size of companies. Some of the bigger ones you might recognize are AMC Entertainment, Aspen Education Group, Brookstone, Burger King, Burlington Coat Factory, Clear Channel Communications, Domino's Pizza, DoubleClick, Dunkin' Donuts, D&M Holdings, Guitar Center, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Sealy, Experian, The Sports Authority, Staples, Toys "R" Us, Warner Music Group, The Weather Channel and more. The US Government, the largest “business” in the world, would be most fortunate to have Bain Capital apply the same processes to it as it did the companies in which they invested. It is unbelievable to me when I hear Washington politicians criticize Bain for the prudent and fiscal methods of operation they employ and their track record, when they are in charge of the terrible mess that our Government is in. To go on… Bain acquired GST Steel in Kansas City, MO in 1993. Bain also had a steel plant in Georgetown, SC. The company was not doing well at the time of the purchase, and per the CEO of the company at the time, would have gone bankrupt had not Bain invested the $125 Million it invested in trying to turn it around. Bain merged two other steel companies it had bought earlier into this company to form the new GST Steel. Romney left Bain Capital six years later in 1999 to run the 2002 Olympics. GST Steel was shut down by Bain Capital in 2002 after fading three years of cheap steel being imported from China into this country. It and 31 other steel companies in the US closed between late 2001 and early 2002. Joe Soptic was employed by GST Steel. When it was closing, he was given an opportunity for a buyout of his job, but he refused it. He went to work as a janitor for a school. He got insurance for himself but did not cover his wife, because his wife had a job with her own health insurance. In 2003 she had a minor accident and left her job. Did you get this? She left her job in 2003, a job that provided her with health insurance. She could have taken COBRA, or an individual policy, but did not do so. Further, Joe Soptic did not make the decision to include her on his health insurance that he had from his job. In 2006...three years later...she went to her doctor complaining of pneumonia-like symptoms. She was diagnosed with cancer and died 22 days later. Once diagnosed, she lasted 22 days. She could have had the greatest of all “Cadillac” health policies and it would not have saved her life. These are the facts…void of spin. I know all of the stuff in this ad is terrible…despicable…and full of lies and distortions, but I want to go back to Joe Soptic who told the story. I lost my wife, Brenda, to cancer in early March of this year. She was my entire world and the love of my life. Surely Joe’s wife meant the same to him. Now, I don’t know whether the %^!s that used him and his situation paid him, or just took advantage of him…but one thing is certain…Joe will have to sit there for the rest of his life and think about his wife, his and others’ memories of her, and the dishonor that has befallen her as the result of all of this. May God bless you Joe. My loss continues to hurt me each day like “ripping flesh,” but I thank God I don’t have this pain compounded by thinking I let people like these…use me and my situation…and ended up hurting all of my and others’ memories of Brenda. “Say it ain’t so Joe.” In addition to all of this stuff, there is so much happening behind the scenes that we “out-of-touch-dummies” are not privy to. Here’s just one example, and I’m sure there is just as good of an example from the other side. Do you remember the “Occupy” movement when it took over a park in New York City last Fall? The park is called Zuccotti Park. I wondered at the time how someone could take over a city park, cause all of the trouble that was being caused, and the city not do something about it. I recently read why. It isn’t a city-owned park. It is a park owned by a Canadian company called Brookfield Properties. All of this recently surfaced in an article examining loan guarantees that have been made by the Obama administration. It turns out that Brookfield Asset Management, a subsidiary of Brookfield Properties, got a $160 Million loan guarantee within 10 days of when the “Occupy” movement took over Zuccotti Park. Now that may seem like a large number but not really, as Brookfield has more than $70 Billion in assets. What did it need with a $160 Million loan guarantee? I don’t know. They didn’t say. But here’s more. Do you know who was just hired as an attorney for the firm? It is Vice-President Joe Biden’s son. Maybe that’s just a coincidence. And it’s probably also a coincidence that Mayor Bloomberg’s live-in girl friend is on the Board of Directors. And as a final coincidence, instead of the last billions of the Obama Stimulus going back in to pay down the national debt, three weeks ago it was all given to Brookfield Properties. The “Occupy” movement was back in Zuccotti Park and Wall Street on Monday, September 17th. On what I hope is a completely unrelated note, of all the swing states in this election, three of them may be the much more important than the rest. The company that owns the equipment that will be tabulating the votes in these three states in November is owned by George Soros. I wonder what a global, multi-billionaire mogul like Soros wants with a company that tabulates votes? Have you ever heard of the statement, “It’s not the people who vote that counts; it’s the people who count the votes?” Do you know who said it? It was Josef Stalin. “Say it ain’t so Joe.” Next month I will be back with much more, just in time for your consideration prior to casting your vote.
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