Friday, February 25, 2011

Obama - Leadership and Coping ?

I find Obama's general approach to leadership confusing and ineffective for the most part.

I think that most of the common, important things that he faces as president can fit into several categories including:

1.) "Can't Win" - e.g. no matter what he proposes there will be substantial political forces opposing it:

Example: Social Security financing reform,

2.) Important or Potentially Important issues where he has control (e.g. Congress can't readily block what he is doing),

Example: Attorney General and other defense of laws - such as the law banning Gay-Lesbian marriage recognition,

3.) Ideological issues - where controversy exists and success requires Congressional support:

Example: Health care reform legislation previous and future


1. Where one can't win no matter what one does - it's best to try to force bi-partisan consensus to be built around the reform - so push John Boehner into major influence now - appointing Republicans - along with Democrats - for Social Security reform legislation - and push them along with various speeches - not done

2. Where you actually have some control - speaking out - and showing leadership - not waffling - using the attorney general and others - to help you do things - is really helpful. This could include - for example - making judicial appointments when Congress is between sessions to force Republicans' hands on delaying votes on judicial appointments,

3. Where you need to get Congressional support - e.g. health care reform - being decisive and visible - not necessarily speaking always in specifics but involved - would be useful. Obama could be a part of discussions and be visible with Democrats and be visible with people like Boehner.

I'm not optimistic about Obama - related to his political savvy in doing any of these things. Speaking "honestly" and being sort of direct - in feeling like you can sway the American public with detailed speeches is rarely helpful. Being insightful about one's opposition and how to Confront and cooperate with them is necessary.

Obama seems made for situations that don't exist now, and he seems often times lost in the needs of the presidency. For all that one could criticize George W and Karl Rove, both knew how to manipulate the system for their own ends.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Health Insurance - affordability and the "Free Market'

Median U.S. household income = $52,029 - US Census - 2008

Average Family health insurance policy cost =
**** Single *Family
2000 $2,471 $6,438
2001 $2,689 $7,061
2002 $3,083 $8,003
2003 $3,383 $9,068
2004 $3,695 $9,950
2005 $4,024 $10,880
2006 $4,242 $11,480
2007 $4,479 $12,106
2008 $4,704 $12,680
2009 $4,824 $13,375 -

per Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust survey.

It’s unclear to me how many people really believe that amongst those “average families” which have more than 1 member that they could on average afford to pay 25% of their gross income for health insurance?

The “Free Market” doesn’t and won’t make health insurance affordable.

Some other interesting data – much more is easily findable on the internet.
Store Owner / Operator
$38,661 - $103,455,_Small_Business/Salary > Wiki Answers > Categories > Business & Finance > Business > Small Business and Entrepreneurship

> What was the average income for small business owners in 2005?
Business Advisor & Tax CPA Helping Build Better Businesses
[Improve] did a survey in 2006 of business owners and CEO's salaries. The survey shows that the average income is around $233,000. Note that this salary is in fact under the threshold that Obama would raise taxes on, so Obama will not raise taxes on the average small business owner. Also, this survey defined "small" as having 500 employees or less which is fairly liberal and certainly not what most Americans think of as a small business.

I believe this is incorrect:
I believe its $258,400.

"According to the survey, the national average salary for the CEO/Partner/Owner job function is $258,400"

I also believe Obama's threshold is $250k/$200k (Family/Single)

An important note also is that 98.1% percent of small-business filers have income too low to be subject to either of the top two tax rates. Since the floor of these is below $250,000, then 98.1% of small business filers will not see any increase with Obamas plan.
Read more:

Effect of the high income tax cuts on business owners and the wealthy – see
Average income of Subchapter S – small businesses by business type – shows 2007 averages a number of whom are well under $100,000/year

We've Got Some Nerve!

We really have some nerve in telling the Egyptian people what they should do in trying to build a democratic state there.

A few of the reasons are:

1.) Our original "democratic state":
a. Allowed slavery
b. Only generally allowed land owning (e.g. wealthy) White Men to vote

2.) Our original "democratic state" took well over 100 years to grant women the right to vote,

but perhaps more importantly:

3.) Deems individual rights to be held by businesses - allowing them a "strange" equality as you or I somehow seem "out numbered" when we take on a large corporation or their owner in many ways,

4.) Has a long history of supporting despotic rulers such as: The Shah of Iran and the recently departed Hosni Mubarek - preferring "stability" and compliance with our supposed economic interests to what we label "democracy" yet alone what a true democracy might be.

We should support the efforts of many of the Egyptian people. We should also remember that many of those who brought down Mubarek were young women and others who might well Not wield "power" in the U.S. because of the failings of our supposed democracy.

Obviously Egypt is a long way from having a true democracy, however we might better choose to focus upon our own issues in the U.S. which continue to relate to Class (often ignored), Race, and Gender.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Gospel According to Ole Geo - Part II

Hearing the difficult "tales" of my friend/ally Lisa - see:

as she and her family struggle after endless unemployment as "normal" Americans as well as the Incredible picture U.S. House Republicans put forth of our country, I've got a few (perhaps)"naive" and "simple" thoughts and feelings.

I find many of the issues relating to today's economic woes in the U.S. not really that complicated. There is significant talk of how "high taxes" are "the problem" and that if we cut regulations and lower taxes, as well as cutting "waste" (e.g. "social problem spending"), magically all will be well soon.

One needn't search far to see how idiotic much of the current Republican rhetoric is.


One can easily see the differences, for example, between the economic plight of really small business people and that of the quite wealthy. Even if one were to consider owner's of small businesses to include those with household incomes in the range of $250,000/year for non-partnered households and $400,000 for partnered individuals, one could easily have tax policies that seriously tax the wealthy, and tax more moderately "the middle class".

Middle class people don't generally have to worry about inheritance taxes beyond the $1-2,000,000 range. Where they leave estates of $10,000,000+ their "small business" or whatever really wasn't that small.

So, assume, that perhaps we might create more equity in taxation policies, that taxed poor people little, middle class people more, and the wealthy - significant amounts. We might, for example, give tax breaks related to earned income, rather than investment income to help middle class people. It really wouldn't take that high rates for the wealthy related to their income, wealth and inheritances to raise a lot more money.


Much of the current debate concerning expenditures is simply idiotic. IF we assume that we are Not going to cut defense spending, social security and pension benefits and similar, but are going to focus on "the pork" out there, we very quickly end up in situations where we need to drastically need to cut things like:

1.) Police and fire departments
2.) Education
3.) Health Care

Clearly, if we are going to realistically cut spending and Not dramatically hurt all the poor and middle class in dramatic ways, we need to figure out ways to significantly cut expenditures where they can realistically be cut.

"Realistically" is however a dangerous word.

To cut medical expenses in this country, we need to cut costs. To cut costs we need to seriously look at what I would call "profiteering" in areas where people do need to make a living as well as get services. Drug company profits are one obvious target, despite the political impossibility of such an effort.

IF we do Not deal with issues such as drug costs, our alternatives end up being cutting people's health insurance coverage and increasing their medical costs.

There is not an alternative!


If we are going to really work at solving our problems, as Lisa alluded to in a recent column, we might want to talk with some of the people affected by our policies such as her family, coping with a serious loss of income, due to her persistent unemployed state.

We also might want to see the need for real dialog, with real honesty and really listening and hearing both the words of others and of our allies and ourselves.

To pretend that there is Not a "Tea Party mindset" which reflects real anger and fears among some honest people seems stupid to me. Obviously the Democratic Party, President Obama and many others haven't spoken to the fears of people as effectively as the demagogues such as Rush and Michelle do every day.

I think that we need to speak our truths with others - reaching out beyond our allies to people who are "different" from us in increasing ways. For some, this may mean reaching out from their churches, to other churches. For some men, this may mean reaching out to other men.

It is difficult today to talk with people rather than at them! I can't claim that magically what I suggest will work today or tomorrow, but we must also look further in the future.


The Gospel According to Ole Geo - Part I

The changes yesterday in Egypt brought up a lot of feelings within me, some of which I'll try to share today.

I'm cautiously optimistic that the Egyptian "Revolution" will achieve at least in the range of 50-75% of its expressed aims. If it succeeds there will be an "Arab" country which respects both its religious minorities (such as 10% Coptic Christians) as well as its Moslem normal folks who vary from being religious to not-so religious. It will also be a country which deals with its own economic ills and seeks for the first time to help its people, rather than those who have benefited from its cronyism.

It also could well become an influential country as Turkey already is which no longer is ruled over by U.S. and Israeli policies, respecting Jews, but Not supporting the continued preventing of a lasting peace as it has done for many years.

The Wiki Leaks - related to Israel and the Middle East have shown both the sham that the Israeli leadership (and the U.S. leadership) want peace and that governments such as Egypt and Jordan have tacitly supported the status quo.

Previously the Palestinians have been a "shared threat". Israel will lose "power" if there is a growing, prospering independent Palestine (though economically in the long run it might gain from increased trade - replacing the "plantation" domination that exists now).

Governments such as Egypt's have previously been threatened by a potential Palestinian State because it would suggest another way, besides the despotic leadership model in the Middle East. This should change and hopefully make things much better.

I don't want to naively think that all will go smoothly or easily, but I hope that things will work out and get better. Hopefully we will see the end of an era where the U.S. gave roughly a billion dollars a year to Egypt who then "spent" that billion on U.S. military hardware and similar.