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Recent Musings

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

I admit I am not an economist. The truth is, I have trouble balancing my checkbook. Having said that, I can’t figure out how we can compete in a global economy. When China uses slave labor and other countries pay their workers a few dollars a day, it seems to me that we’re trying to fight with one arm tied behind us and a small dog biting our ankles.

I know even less about cars than I do about economics, so I have no way of knowing if American cars are as good as those produced by the Germans and the Japanese. But I did hear recently that when pensions and benefits are factored in, a UAW union member makes about $78-an-hour. That works out to about $156,000-a-year. I’m not suggesting that an American factory worker isn’t worth it, but how can the company paying out that kind of money possibly sell a car at a competitive price?

I don’t have answers, you understand, I’m just asking questions. Another question that comes to mind relates to George W. Bush. One of my readers took me to task for suggesting that the President didn’t do anything to ward off the financial crisis. He claimed that Cal Thomas, among others, had written about Bush’s attempts to do something about Fannie Mae before the crisis hit. My response is that it’s not the job of Mr. Thomas to carry the President’s message to America. The presidency is not supposed to be a covert operation. The President is the man with the bully pulpit, and if he isn’t prepared to use it, he probably shouldn’t have it. And I’m not referring to those dog-and-pony press conferences. I don’t need to see Helen Thomas hogging camera time, but I do need to hear what the president thinks and why he thinks it. Which is why I hope Obama makes it a practice to give weekly or bi-weekly reports, and I don’t need to see the first lady, the first kids or even the first dog while he’s doing it.

Next, I don’t ever want to hear a Democrat claim, as I believe Joe Biden did, that paying taxes is patriotic. Paying taxes is about as patriotic as going to the bathroom. In other words, at times, it’s necessary, but it’s always compulsive. I believe that for a thing to be patriotic, it has to be done on a voluntary basis. I suppose a case could be made that if a person paid more than he owed, he was being patriotic. So, as an example to the rest of us, I would love to see such tax-loving liberals as George Soros, Mr. and Mrs. John Kerry and all the various Kennedys, pay at the rate they would if most of their income didn’t come to them in the low-taxed form of trusts and off-shore accounts.

By the way, aren’t there any liberals who are embarrassed by the fact that their single biggest benefactor, George Soros, not only doesn’t pay his fair share of taxes, but made his billions the old-fashioned way -- through the tawdry practice of currency manipulation? Instead of using his ill-gotten gains to promote his left-wing agenda, I keep wishing Soros would simply buy an island where he could build a palace, plunk a crown on his fat head and make all his subjects call him King George.

Most people have an odd relationship with money. For one thing, they seem to take it personally when an athlete makes, say, $20 million-a-year. They carry on as if it’s coming out of their pocket. I mean, would you all feel better if the Steinbrenners kept all their moolah to themselves instead of paying it to Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez? It reminds me of when people used to carry on as if they’d been mugged when it came to the costs of the space program. I used to point out that NASA wasn’t taking that money, sticking it in a space capsule and shooting it to the moon. The money stayed right here on earth and went to buy materials and pay salaries.

On the other hand, even I know there’s a time to flaunt it and a time to keep a low profile. A while back, a lot of noses were out of joint because three fat cats flew from Detroit to Washington, D.C., on private jets in order to beg for money. Not only was it unseemly, but they blew a golden opportunity to garner decent publicity. Did nobody in the PR departments at Ford, Chrysler and G.M., even consider having the CEOs form a convoy and drive their company’s cars 520 miles to the nation’s capitol? While I am aware that, after having been severely scolded, the three stooges left their jets at home the second time they went begging, that only made them look like wimpy snobs.

Still, when AIG, after getting bailed out by the American taxpayer, hands out bonuses to its executives, and when the world’s leaders gather for dinner at the White House and toast each other during a financial meltdown with wine costing $500-a-bottle, you can’t help wondering if Paris Hilton or perhaps Lindsay Lohan is handling everyone’s PR these days.

It’s no secret that I am not looking forward to an Obama administration. The notion that the liberals will control the House, the Senate and the Oval Office, for the foreseeable future makes my blood run cold. The mental image that first comes to mind is a bull in a china shop, but the ensuing damage in that case would be inadvertent. The bull, after all, isn’t looking to destroy the crockery. It is merely looking for the quickest way back to the farm and the cows, whereas the liberals are looking to create an America in their own cockeyed image. That makes me think of vandals taking knives to the Mona Lisa or firebugs burning down a virgin forest.

Many people are questioning why Obama, the alleged agent of change, is filling his administration with a lot of Clinton re-treads. I am reminded of what took place in Germany after World War II. Suddenly, it seemed like all the mayors and bureaucrats were former Nazis. The explanation was that after a dozen years of Hitler, only the Nazis had the necessary leadership experience. Well, when you realize that since 1980, the only Democratic president was Bill Clinton, it figures that Obama would be forced to furnish his White House with second-hand goods from the Clinton thrift shop.

With that said, I have found one reason, other than not having to hear John McCain begin every other sentence with “My friends,” for cheering Obama’s election. As of this moment, he has removed Rahm Emanuel from the House, Bill Richardson and Janet Napolitano from their governors’ mansions, and Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton from the U.S. Senate. Now if he can only find new jobs for Barbara Boxer, Robert Byrd, Charles Rangel, Maxine Waters, Dick Durbin, Barney Frank, John Murtha and Charles Schumer, heck, even I might vote for him in 2012!

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