Tag Archives: Balanced Budget Amendment

Change before you have to. Oops, too late! 2017 cannot come too quickly.

“Change before you have to.”
– Jack Welch, CEO GE (Retired)

How Bill4DogCatcher.com sees the world:

I am not a dour pessimist. I am a pragmatic optimist — and this is about as optimistic as I can bring myself to be.

The economic pain of 2008-2011 will be looked upon one day with some sense of historical nostalgia.

It will be seen as the time of great change and the beginning of a very difficult period in American history. It will be both a tipping point and a turning point.

The challenges of 2008-2011 will be remembered as having far less turmoil and drama than will come within the next five years, 2012-2017.

And yet perhaps we didn’t need to be here at all. Now we find ourselves in 2011 living in the land of a Super Committee to negotiate our national budget woes, and having 18 competing Balanced Budget Amendments just two weeks prior to voting on having such an amendment proposed at all.

Not long ago, we were on the road to national financial solvency — just barely 10 years ago, in the late 1990s. Then we chose a different path.

So here we are at the end of 2011 and less unified than ever as our economic fuel tank sits on ‘E’. Although that is not necessarily so true; huge record setting profits have been recorded for the last five fiscal quarters despite those profits not being positively felt by the average American.

The answer to our economic issues will not be found on either the left or the right. We cannot tax the rich ever enough to pay for the black hole of expenses that we’ve run up and locked ourself into for the future.

The answer will come through a shared pain of experimentation and reflection. Americans will come to reject both the answers of the left and right, because neither have answers. Both are beholden to special interests that would only prolong our economic problems, while enriching their own supporters.

The answer will not come soon for the very reason that people want an answer ‘now’. The only answers available now are A) screw the poor/tax them more or B) screw the rich/tax them more. Neither are an answer.

So we will just have to survive the battle of left and right until we get past pride and ego. When enough of America moves to the middle only then will a grand compromise be found — after all, the very word ‘compromise’ is an impossible word to even consider using in public places these days without being set upon by ranting partisans.

Compromise will not come next year, or the year after, or the year after that. My bet is that a grand compromise will not arrive until possibly 2016 or 2017 — once American demographics have shifted and the complete folly of left and right has had a chance to run its course, several times over.

Grand Follies – we cannot continue to pretend that taxes are the ultimate evil. We cannot continue to embrace the empty promise of economic trickle down. Cut taxes and grow the economy is a broken promise too, at least where we are in time and place.

I believe in tiered flat taxes, but am not simple-minded enough to believe that everything would all just magically work if we just cut taxes and equitably taxed everyone at the same rate — which just ends up screwing the people that do the dirty, thankless jobs in our society — with them actually paying far more than anyone else as a percentage of their income. Yet, there is plenty of room for many Americans to have a little more stake in the game by seeing their taxes at work because they pay them.

Am not sure how it will all end up. Our history has had periods of higher turmoil in the past and somehow we’ve gotten ourselves to today still as one country. Yet I anticipate that the next five years will be among the ugliest in American history as left and right both battle for a vision that will not come to pass by either. We will make it all work out. It will be painful and traumatic, however. Very painful. Very traumatic.

Please fasten your seat belts as the fun is just about to really begin. Hello 2012!

I am not a dour pessimist. I am a pragmatic optimist — and this is about as optimistic as I can bring myself to be.

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You want good government? Or do you want the government that you deserve?

Want good government? Then don’t make excuses for bad government.

Want responsive government? Always question party-line votes. Political parties that put their survival and success first are major dragons among us.

Want others to be good, civil citizens? Then be one yourself, and find the courage to call out your fellow believers when they cross the line — and you know it happens across the political spectrum. No excuses.

Yes, there is always a lunatic fringe. Every group has them. The difference between a mob and a group is that groups have leaders that speak up. Does your group have leaders or just people pointing the way?

Great kudos goes to the The Hampton Roads (Virginia) Tea Party which has taken a very public stand for good citizenship: “The Hampton Roads Tea Party does not condone nor will it tolerate racism, sexism, or religious intolerance or bigotry in any form within the ranks of its membership or at any of its sanctioned events. Such beliefs, attitudes, and activities are contrary to the basic rights of all humankind as outlined in the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence.”
— Hampton Roads Tea Party Board

We can argue about whether government is too large or not large enough. We could debate about how interest groups influence government in the wrong way — mostly your groups, not mine. But why?

I believe that the best course of action is to be agnostic about government. If the processes are in place to create a responsible and accountable government then the issues will work themselves out at the polling booth.

Where folks go a bit off the edge is when government patronizes them. Pandering may be an art form but it is not an acceptable process.

In discussing this, let us remember that sometimes we get the government that we deserve. If we work hard to make sure that our side wins and the other side loses — whether through procedure, issue manipulation, smoke and mirrors, whatever — then we will always have unresponsive government.

Let’s Slay Dragons Together

Bill4DogCatcher.com has a new project: I would like to see a coalition of the willing, those willing to focus on what brings us together, not pushes us apart.

I’m calling my new project — please don’t laugh or throw rotten stuff — the Coffee Party & Tea Party Coalition – a Bill4DogCatcher.com Project. Am exploring what can bring us together at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=102925266411916 (does anyone know how to point someone to a Facebook group with a better looking URL?).

The dragons that I want to slay are process-focused.

At the end of the day our anger and frustration comes not so much from knowing that the other side doesn’t appreciate our position on issues — of course, it’s not like you or I pay much attention to the what the other side is actually saying so why pretend?! — our anger and frustration comes from believing that the system is fixed! The outcome is almost preordained so why make the effort to be civil and logical? But we must try … we really, really must.

The Dragons That We Must Slay

Areas that I would like to see Coffee and Tea work together on — because the self-perpetuating political parties won’t:

  • A Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment
  • A Term Limits Constitutional Amendment
  • A Taxation Transparency Act – up front accounting of categories of spending and who is getting what from whom.
  • Political Campaign Funding Transparency — Any contribution over $50-100 should have publicly available names attached.
  • Political Action Committee (PAC) Contribution Transparency — Do not make me wait and scramble to read various political candidate reports and match the numbers up. PAC contributions need to be publicly available records within 30 days of giving money to a candidate. We should be able to see that ABC Persuaders, Inc. gave $X to A, B and to Z.
  • Keep ’em Honest Promise Trackers – regardless of what party or part of the spectrum politicians live, are they keeping their ‘promises’? We have lots of ways to determine how liberal or conservative or libertarian or whatever someone is … but we have no common way of tracking how honest to their stated intentions they are.

There are many ways we can have more responsive government, but we must be willing to lay aside our issue differences to get to where we all want to be. Let’s avoid discussing issues. Let’s focus on creating processes that keeps government honest and moving forward.

So how would you slay dragons? Send your thoughts to Bill@Bill4DogCatcher.com or please visit the Coffee Party & Tea Party Coalition – a Bill4DogCatcher.com Project at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=102925266411916


This blog article originally appeared on 2010.03.23 as ‘Listerine Won’t Keep Dragons From Ruining Your Day. Time To Take On The Dragons!’ … Cute name but it violated a reality of journalism: what is your topic about. So … if you think you’ve read this article already then it ain’t deja vu at work.


Bill Golden is an independent observer of economics, politics and human resource management issues. Politically conservative but considers himself to be both Coffee & Tea. Solutions come from dealing with reality, not emotional responses.

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Listerine Won’t Keep Dragons From Ruining Your Day. Time To Take On The Dragons!

Want good government? Then don’t make excuses for bad government.

Want responsive government? Always question party-line votes. Political parties that put their survival and success first are major dragons among us.

Want others to be good, civil citizens? Then be one yourself, and find the courage to call out your fellow believers when they cross the line — and you know it happens across the political spectrum. No excuses.

Yes, there is always a lunatic fringe. Every group has them. The difference between a mob and a group is that groups have leaders that speak up. Does your group have leaders or just people pointing the way?

Great kudos goes to the The Hampton Roads (Virginia) Tea Party which has taken a very public stand for good citizenship: “The Hampton Roads Tea Party does not condone nor will it tolerate racism, sexism, or religious intolerance or bigotry in any form within the ranks of its membership or at any of its sanctioned events. Such beliefs, attitudes, and activities are contrary to the basic rights of all humankind as outlined in the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence.”
— Hampton Roads Tea Party Board

We can argue about whether government is too large or not large enough. We could debate about how interest groups influence government in the wrong way — mostly your groups, not mine. But why?

I believe that the best course of action is to be agnostic about government. If the processes are in place to create a responsible and accountable government then the issues will work themselves out at the polling booth.

Where folks go a bit off the edge is when government patronizes them. Pandering may be an art form but it is not an acceptable process.

In discussing this, let us remember that sometimes we get the government that we deserve. If we work hard to make sure that our side wins and the other side loses — whether through procedure, issue manipulation, smoke and mirrors, whatever — then we will always have unresponsive government.

Let’s Slay Dragons Together

Bill4DogCatcher.com has a new project: I would like to see a coalition of the willing, those willing to focus on what brings us together, not pushes us apart.

I’m calling my new project — please don’t laugh or throw rotten stuff — the Coffee Party & Tea Party Coalition – a Bill4DogCatcher.com Project. Am  exploring what can bring us together at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=102925266411916 (does anyone know how to point someone to a Facebook group with a better looking URL?).

The dragons that I want to slay are process-focused.

At the end of the day our anger and frustration comes not so much from knowing that the other side doesn’t appreciate our position on issues — of course, it’s not like you or I pay much attention to the what the other side is actually saying so why pretend?! — our anger and frustration comes from believing that the system is fixed! The outcome is almost preordained so why make the effort to be civil and logical? But we must try … we really, really must.

The Dragons That We Must Slay

Areas that I would like to see Coffee and Tea work together on — because the self-perpetuating political parties won’t:

  • A Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment
  • A Term Limits Constitutional Amendment
  • A Taxation Transparency Act – up front accounting of categories of spending and who is getting what from whom.
  • Political Campaign Funding Transparency — Any contribution over $50-100 should have publicly available names attached.
  • Political Action Committee (PAC) Contribution Transparency — Do not make me wait and scramble to read various political candidate reports and match the numbers up. PAC contributions need to be publicly available records within 30 days of giving money to a candidate. We should be able to see that ABC Persuaders, Inc. gave $X to A, B and to Z.
  • Keep ’em Honest Promise Trackers – regardless of what party or part of the spectrum politicians live, are they keeping their ‘promises’? We have lots of ways to determine how liberal or conservative or libertarian or whatever someone is … but we have no common way of tracking how honest to their stated intentions they are.

There are many ways we can have more responsive government, but we must be willing to lay aside our issue differences to get to where we all want to be. Let’s avoid discussing issues. Let’s focus on creating processes that keeps government honest and moving forward.

So how would you slay dragons? Send your thoughts to Bill@Bill4DogCatcher.com or please visit the Coffee Party & Tea Party Coalition – a Bill4DogCatcher.com Project at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=102925266411916


Bill Golden is an independent observer of economics, politics and human resource management issues. Politically conservative but considers himself to be both Coffee & Tea. Solutions come from dealing with reality, not emotional responses.

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Coffee, Tea and Me – 2010 Craziness

Surely 2010 will go down in American history books as one of the more interesting years in American history.

2010 is in many ways a lot like both 1884 and 1992.

1884 gave us the Mugwumps – conservative and moderate Republicans that revolted and openly distanced themselves from the official choices of the Republican Party. In many cases the Mugwumps actively worked against Republican candidates, this includes even the Republican nominee for president. Unlike today, Mugwumps were a top down revolt of Republicans already elected that thought the party was on the wrong path.

1992 — how quickly we forget the anger that existed, to include real concern about our national debt. National polling shows that Americans were much more “angry” at the government back in 1992, significantly much more angry. That anger got channeled however through the candidacy of Ross Perot who stepped forward and very explicitly challenged the political establishment — with charts and predictions in hand Ross Perot made a difference. We later got “Contract with America” which turned out to be: vote us in, we promise to use all of your favorite buzzwords,  and then we’ll do what is best for the party.

Ross Perot got my vote and the vote of 19% of America in 1992.

The lessons of 1884 and 1992 are that populist movements to reform government are usually shortlived. They can linger on for a few years; Ross Perot later formally founded the Reform Party which actually won some elections. We have some few remaining elected officials here in Virginia that are officially Reform Party … this is now a party footnoted in history.

Without structure and organization there is no future for a movement. Perhaps even with structure there is no future; witness the inability of the Libertarian Party to connect, or the Constitutionalist Party — the “fastest growing party in America”  as it bills itself … I don’t think so.

So here we are at 2010. Anger we have plenty of, but alas no Ross Perot to represent us or any central personality capable of convincing America that someone with a name cares. There is no cross-generational Ronald Reagan, whom we literally had decades to know and to mature with and to evolve with. 2010 is all about chaos, impending financial entropy on a scale that we cannot yet imagine … although some are trying hard.

2010 is all about having to represent ourselves against the machine — and the machine is both red and blue.

Tea or coffee? Coffee or Tea?

Until now I have been uninvolved in the TEA Party movement. I don’t do anger. Anger blinds you and makes you do silly stuff. I’m a solutions person. I have never let not knowing what I am doing get in the way of achieving something. Until recently the TEA Party movement has largely been against and not for anything. That is changing.

The TEA movement is maturing, and now that the Republicans (Romney/Rove/Steele) have informed TEA Partyers that they really are Republicans and that they should act accordingly, there is more sober thought among TEAers to consider what comes next. Conservative Texas’ voter thumping of TEA candidates has also caused many TEAers to pause and to reflect.

Now comes this new creature: the Coffee Party. The premise of Coffee is that government is not the enemy. It may not have the answer, but it is not the enemy.

We are the government. If it is wrong then we are wrong. Coffee suggests that ‘we the people’ should focus our energies on helping guide government by being both its watchdog and by being involved. We must do more than be angry. We must be part of the solution.

So for me I will now get involved in both. Although many in TEA distrust Coffee, and certainly Coffee is in reaction to TEA, we are at a crossroads in American history. They both are a distraction and yet they both may hold answers.

One thing is certain: 2010 is the chapter that follows 1884 and 1992.


BTW #1 – some good did come out of 1992. Congress seriously took up the challenge to pass a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. 1995 was the closest that Congress has ever come to voting yes and then allowing the states to consider and to vote on this amendment. That said, the vote was 65 Yea and 35 Nay in the Senate. Here is a brief history of past attempts to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment.

BTW #2 – Republicans claim to be serious about passing some form of a Balanced Budget Amendment if only we give them the chance. Really? Those two wild and crazy South Carolinians Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint (both R-SC) introduced a Balanced Budget Amendment in 2007. Surely you remember!? Don’t you? Surely you do. Anyway, Republicans always run to this ploy when politically in trouble. I believe that Graham and DeMint were serious about it — but where was the rest of the party?


This post by Bill Golden, aka Bill4DogCatcher.com, an independent  observer of American political life, economics, and workforce issues.

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