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Friday, November 7, 2008

Consumer Responsibility

Just yesterday I was listening to to talk show hosts arguing. What's funny is that they refused to understand each other and acknowledge each different point of view whether right or wrong. You don't always have to agree with someone but you can understand where they are coming from if they make a good argument.

The topic was capitalism and free markets. The disagreement happened only because one of them saw a gray area and does not see everything as absolute when it comes to theories. What they both failed to recognize was the consumers responsibilities in a free market society.

It's obvious that we all have information at our fingertips in this new age. We would love to have all corporations to be responsible and have their factories go green and pay their employees well. The problem is that corporations have a fiduciary duty to their shareholders and first and foremost is to make a profit. The other problem is that business is very competitive and a corporation that is environmentally and employee friendly is going to have higher costs and therefore have to price their product or service higher than the competition. Most consumers choose by price. Even my own friends will ask me for a discount because the other guy is offering a discount and who cares about experience or trust but they look at price first. Competition drives corporations to find cheaper (less expensive) labor and other ways to lower the cost of doing business. Yes I know that they haven't figured out that their executives are overpaid but that's another issue for another blog.

This is where we, the consumer, need to be responsible. If we reward corporations, small businesses, and restaurants for being socially conscious they will see a higher demand and more profit for their product or service. Competitors will have to do the same in order to survive. Magazines publish lists of family friendly and employee friendly businesses and I know there are sites out there that publish names of companies that are socially responsible. We as consumer need to show our support by patronizing these businesses.

I welcome everyone to post any websites that may be helpful to all consumers. In the next few weeks I will also publish a list.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Letter to our 44th President

Dear Mr. Obama,
Congratulations on a well run and successful campaign. Your campaign persevered and got your message of hope and change through to the American people. My ideology is not in line with yours or your party but obviously it is with the majority of Americans. What I do see in you is a man that has the ability of bringing people together and I hope you are successful at reaching across the aisle and making your administration an inclusive one. The economy and war that you will inherit is going to be a challenge for your administration. The country is looking to you to get us out of this recession and to bring our men and women home. As commander in chief I am sure that you will come up with a withdrawal plan that will allow us to claim victory and see a more stable Iraq. Judging from the reactions to your victory I believe that the American people are already feeling more confident and we'll probably start seeing a jump in our consumer confidence index.

This was a very historic election. The two campaigns brought out voters in record numbers. I am so happy to see that people took advantage of their right to vote. I don't like talking about discrimination because I feel that our country is a lot further ahead of our shady past than what we are given credit for but your election as the first African-American president has confirmed that. You, Governor Palin, and Senator Clinton have shown the world that the United States is continuing to move forward. I hope this progression eventually results in no more hyphenated Americans. Boys and girls from different backgrounds all have hope of one day becoming President of the United States.

I hope that one of the lessons you will take from our outgoing president is that you can not continue to increase spending. Tax cuts work when you also cut spending. People are tired of these executives that make millions of dollars getting bailed out. Any economist will tell you that if there is demand then you will find someone willing to supply at a market price. If a company fails then another company will snatch up its assets and continue to supply the demand.

Early on in your campaign you spoke of personal responsibility. This is a term that I did not associate with your party. Your party loves social programs which just creates bigger government and inefficient practices. I believe in charity and giving people a chance but lets leave that up to our churches and non-profits who can do this more efficiently than the government. You yourself have proven that if you work hard in this country that the opportunities will present themselves.

One last item that did not sit well with me is when you spoke about your position on pro-choice. You mentioned that you would raise your girls with morals and values but if they made a mistake you would not want them to suffer the consequence of that mistake. This is what personal responsibility is all about. There are consequences to our actions and we must pay the price. This is what makes us grow as human beings. We were not given a "do over" button in the form of abortion. I am a single father and both my children were not planned. I have come to believe that my life has been planned by my God and those two children are the best thing that ever happened to me. Am I paying the price, of course but it has made me a better person. Will I teach them to be irresponsible how I was, of course not. I too plan to teach them morals and values but if my son or daughter do have an unplanned pregnancy then they will have to pay the price and in the end they will discover for themselves that the price is worth it.

Mr. Obama I wish you a lot of success during your presidency and I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

Sincerely,

Mario Villagran

Monday, November 3, 2008

McCain vs. Obama (none of the above)

I will make this disclosure first, I am an independent and I find myself more in line with the libertarian party. I agree with Larry Elder when he says that there is not much difference between the two parties. I also would like to recommend that people read two books by Larry Elder, "Showdown" and "The Ten Things You Can't Say in America".

With that being said I feel both candidates are very similar when it comes to policies. They both came out and supported this bailout plan which is going to cost billions. Where does this money come from? Yes you guessed it, it comes from our taxes. The market will always correct itself but we come from a society that is always looking for the quick fix. The other day I heard an economist say that we are still paying for FDR's "New Deal" and now they are talking about a "New Deal 2". Many economist argue that government involvement actually prolongs the recovery process. I believe it because the government is trying to get involved in price fixing. Prices were too high and now they are coming down to what the market can really support.

Many of our crashes if not all were driven by greed. Greed in a lot of ways is like Love, because they both blind us from making rational decisions. The Great Depression happened only after a market run that inflated stock prices. People were purchasing stocks with borrowed money and when the market turned south they just didn't have the money to meet the margin calls. This sounds very familiar to the present housing crisis we are having. People started to buy homes with no money down thinking that the market was never going to stop going up. When some of these lenders started to demand that people make more than the negative amortization payment then they walked away from their homes. Then came the snowball effect and it is getting so bad that even people who invested large sums of money are beginning to walk away.

I was convinced to vote for the libertarian candidate and I still might because I just can't bring myself to vote for either one of the candidates because they are both about spending and taxing. I do believe that the McCain camp has it right by saying they should continue to cut taxes and reduce spending but the support of the bailout proved that he is willing to jump on the bandwagon just like everyone else and support misappropriation of funds. Let's face it not one of these executives of these financial institutions is going to reduce their salaries or bonuses in what could be perceived as one of the worst years in regards to performance.

Senator Obama is a very likable individual. He is very elegant and presidential. The message his camp is sending is for change and hope. What has he really done that convinces me that he can offer change for the better and hope that we are not attacked again. Will terrorists find a way to establish cells in the U.S. with a president that welcomes them with open arms. We will continue to be a target to terrorist governments that oppose democracy. We have a system that works but we are slowly moving our democratic and capitalist country to a socialist one. We have to get rid of our progressive tax system and reduce taxes all around to encourage investment and spending. This is how a market corrects itself.

Our president is commander in chief first and our country's job is to protect us. I would rather take that fight over there and help those people establish their own democracies so that we can have a friendlier global environment. President Bush is a man that the media and everyone else loves to hate but we have not been attacked since 9/11. He has done a great job at spreading democracy overseas but some of his biggest mistakes were out of control spending and encouraging sub-prime lending. We were entering a recession when he first took office and reducing taxes created a recovery but business cycles have to take their course and eventually the recession would find it's way back.

My point is that either candidate will have a very tough first term. I am sure that confidence levels will go up with whoever wins because people have lost their faith with the current president. I will vote libertarian because I believe that this is the next party that will eventually get this country back on the right track. It will not happen overnight but it has to begin somewhere. We need to get back to the fundamentals and what our founding fathers intended for this country and we need to get away from big government. I will pray for both candidates and I will support my new president but I would like to encourage everyone to read and research on your own and let your voice be heard. This is our personal responsibility.

If Senator McCain can actually reduce taxes and reduce spending then I believe he is better for our country. Senator Obama's plan of giving taxes back to middle income people is flawed because the majority of taxes is paid by the top 10% income earners. We should really abolish the IRS and our progressive tax system.