Thursday, July 9, 2009

How I would fix the economy

So we are headed to Morocco in less than two weeks. The 21 of June is our flight at 5 am...probably shouldn't go to bed that night, we sleep in too easily. We will have a huge apartment there; you can see it at
More by necessity than choice, it was the only one we could find with all our requirements. It costs less than our apartment here at least. So that just means you guys will have to visit us!!! (Anyone who is reading this)

And fyi, sometimes we are told we are brave for traveling to different countries the way we do. My answer to that is--childbirth sounds a heck of a lot scarier than relaxing on a beach in Europe. I am in awe of mothers for how tough they are. My friends who are also mothers--I am amazed by you!

We've just been doing what we do. Working. Jacob goes to the gym while I explore the city and take photos...

I'm going to post some political opinions now, in honor of the 4th of July, which we didn't really celebrate, sadly. I've been thinking a lot about this stuff lately because I try to keep up with the news on the other side of the pond. I tend to have strong opinions but am influenceable if your argument makes sense. So feel free to disagree with me. If you aren't interested in my spoutings, then skip to the pretty pictures below :)

To begin, I love America. The more I travel, the more I am proud of my nationality. But I naturally don't always (or usually) agree with our government.

There is a reason why I'm not a Democrat or a Republican. No party seems to match my views exactly. Neither can see the other's point of view, or recognize that the other must have some valid points to have half the population. I voted for Obama because I liked the guy better than McCain, almost as much as I liked Palin. Here is how I think he is handling things.

The economy: Well, things have gone from bad to worse from what I hear. Obama's excuse is that "we didn't realize how bad the economy was when we arrived in office." Sure. If only he had owned a business before, he might know a little more about economics. Now that Jacob and I fit into that group called "small business owners" I understand better than ever why raising taxes on people who are successful is very demotivating. I'm with the Republicans on this one. Keeping taxes low on businesses is a fundamentable principle of successful capitalism. George Bush, although Republican, didn't always spend money like one.

Now I wouldn't mind if my taxes were raised if I got to choose where my money went. If, for example, I got to check the box that said, "Improve public transportation" I would be very pleased. But unfortunately, I don't get to choose, and I tend to feel that the government squanders my hard-earned money.

Welfare: I think we give too much money to other countries. It's money that we don't have, and unfortunately, it's money that often isn't well spent. For example, we've given tons of money to the African country of Cameroon. The people there complain they haven't seen a cent, and the money has been squandered by the corrupt government officials.

I believe Americans are the most charitable people in the world. We are generous. I base this on the fact that I know so many friends who have gone abroad to help orphans in Ghana and Romania, Guatemala and Mexico, Zambia and within the States themselves. We have the Peace Corps; we have missionaries; we have celebrities who have donated millions to charities. Given the chance, Americans would donate their own time, money, and effort to people around the globe more than any other people I know. Therefore, in most situations I believe the US government should not transfer money to another government, but individuals should serve other individuals with their own free will and choice to their own individual causes. This can be supported through tax breaks (not raises).

Health care: Obama is right that we have a system that needs to be fixed. Ironic that we spend more than any other nation and yet have such a horrible record in terms of people insured. I'm willing to pay more in taxes for this benefit BUT I don't think it's right that the richer people should pay for other people's poor health choices. I think that the overweight, the smoker, the drink-and-driver should be paying the higher taxes, not the hard working businessman. Am I biased? Maybe, and that would be a hard system to enforce, but it's the most fair way. I don't know why Republicans are so against a national health care system along with privatized. Their solution is always "give a tax credit." It's true, tax credits are the answer sometimes, but really, do you think that will solve our broken healthcare system?
[Note to readers: Do. Not. Use. Humana.]

Abortion: Obama signed into law the ability to fund overseas abortions. So we're using taxpayers' money to fund something that probably half of the US population feels is morally wrong? Why can't we use that money to provide free birth control instead? Or to cover adoption costs? We're trillions of dollars in debt and we're funding women around the world to get abortions. Brilliant. To learn why I am against abortions, visit this site to learn the disturbing manner in which abortions are performed:
It's hard to read but important to know. I think my view on abortion was fundamentally changed after I read an essay by an abortion nurse on how abortions are performed. It's fairly gruesome. I believe if women were educated on what they were about to do to their bodies they would be less likely to go through with it.
PS I believe birth control should not be prescription. It's not in Turkey and I think a woman can decide as good as a gynecologist can which birth control works the best for her personally. Actually, better. And abortion rate would be greatly reduced if women didn't have to go to a doctor to obtain birth control.

Environment: Sometimes it astonishes me at how little the Republicans seem to care about the environment. It would only take a little bit more effort on America's part to become more green, but the very idea seems to shake some people to the core. To give up your SUV is like giving up your life(style).

Climate change: I don't believe it's a real problem, but I know Obama does--he and his wife donated $25,000 to the cause each. I'm more worried about pollution and cancer-causing agents.

War: I'm with Ron Paul on this one. Send the troops home. We use taxpayers money to keep people based in Germany, Korea, etc and I just think it would make more sense to build up our defense at home. I think we'd stop encouraging our reputation as the world's bully, too. I'm not sure why Republicans are always so army-hungry. They seem to be a little bit more paranoid than Democrats. Maybe that's why they're so concerned about national defense. I know since we're the most powerful nation in the world, we've got to be able to protect ourselves, but if we just lowered our budget as little as 5% on this issue, think of how much money we could use in its stead towards, for example, health care. I'm not saying that war is never justified, I'm just saying that it seems our government tends to be far too willing to jump right in. And then in hindsight, "Well, that five year war probably wasn't a good use of resources... oh well" duh, how many times must history repeat itself.

Gay marriage: Although Obama said when he was running for president that he believed marriage should be between a man and a woman, apparently he told a gay rally that their struggle for rights was similar to the civil rights movement... thus implying that he actually supported gay marriage. Oh well, I'm going to be honest. I don't think there's any stopping it now. 25 years from now it will be the total norm. I wrote a pro-gay marriage paper at BYU, which was probably the only one written there in all of history, (I got an A) but I don't think I would actually vote for it, for reasons in the previous post. But it's so fashionable these days to be pro-gay marriage, really, it's practically très chic.

Guatanamo Bay: Congratulations, Obama. You did the right thing to close this up. Torturing our enemies will put us right along side the Nazis and Communist regimes. The saddest thing is, anyone would confess anything under those conditions. Think of better ways to get people to tell you what you want to know.

And...that's enough for now. Here's some more of what we've been up to. Berlin is a wonderful city- I love it!!

Marchenbrunnen in Volksgarten (an adorable fountain with fairy tale character statues (the Brothers Grimm are buried here in Berlin)

Jacob and a communist car
Gorgeous...Berlin is so beautiful...
We went to the zoo... biggest zoo in Europe.
My favorite birds...
Nice shot, eh? In Prenzlauer Burg neighborhood
I think this is the River Spree.
Former Communist Prison. That's the wire tapping on the walls. These were paranoid times.
Beautiful Potsdam. Where the Prussian kings went in the summer.
Vomiting fountain
Jacob, not given to superlatives, gave a compliment of this area, saying it was among the most beautiful places he's ever seen...

Graves of Fanny and Felix Mendelssohn. It doesn't bode likely for a person, if he or she happens to be fantastically talented, to get a lot of whistles on their tombstone. You're much more likely to have a fancy grave if you are rich. Here is Bertolt Brecht's grave. He was a popular playwright.
About as plain as you can get.
Medieval choir stalls.
Alter piece. It's official. Italy has the most beautiful religious art. (This museum had a ton of stuff from Italy.) Free museum night is Thursday, so I walk around til my feet get tired.


GooberDiva13 said...

I vote for you! :) I love your opinions and the way you articulate them. I sure wish I sounded like I had a college education like you do. love the pictures! too bad you didn't make it to italy this trip. maybe next time you're in europe.

Julie said...

I love your pics! I agree with a lot of what you said. I always hate when one party controls both the White House & Congress (like now & under Bush). Our govt was a lot better when Clinton was in the WH & we had a Republican congress. Because neither party has it completely right. Both parties with complete power waste our money with their disgusting pork-barreling--(which was exactly what the "Stimulus" bills were).

The Elledges said...

What does Jacob think about your political opinions? I always get mad at Scott when we try to talk about politics :)

thanks for the gorgeous pictures of Berlin!

oh said...

Hmmmm. You may be surprised to learn that I largely agree with your thoughts on demilitarization. But I see two problems. First, as expensive as having troops around the world is, it's an absolute bargain compared to the cost of military conflict. To the extent our military forces deter conflict, they are a bargain. Second,the really bad guys sometimes misinterpret reductions in force as retreat or weakness, which can lead to adventurism, and ultimately additional conflict. Still, the status quo is untenable, so troop pullouts are going to happen in any event. But I don't think the President is going to close Guantanamo despite his statements to the contrary. The prisoners there are like nuclear power plants. Nobody wants them in their backyard. Former detainees are now back leading the Taliban in Afghanistan. I'd hate to be President Bush explaining to the mothers of the young Americans killed there why he bowed to political pressure and released some of these guys. I also disagree with your blanket characterizaion of the US treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo. Likening that treatment to Stalin or Hitler practices is comparing the Keller High junior varsity football team to the Green Bay Packers.
(by Scott)

Jacob and Kalli Hiller said...

"The Elledges" (Jacob here...) I'm still trying to pass my American History class! I took the test but my proctor lost it! so I have no ideas what to do now. Kalli, is a faaaaar more informed citizen than I am. Being as she is my main source of info concerning current events she is definitely persuasive :) Kalli has done more research, and put more time into politics, socoial issues, and other things that people tell me are important. Personally I ride the fence on a lot of issues, becuase there is usually a give and take to every issue, it seems. It's easy to see how I could take a side of an issue just becuase I would get the sweet cut of the cake if things went my way, but I'd like to think I try not to do that... Regardless, we don't argue about politics because usually when she brings something up it's the first time I've heard about it! hahaha

Jacob and Kalli Hiller said...

Thanks for joining in to the discussion guys... I agree with Julie, that seemed to be the best combination. Neither party wants to give the other the credit for the success of that administration, but when there's a good balance that's best...

But I stick by my stance on Guantanamo, I don't care if no country wants them, torture is never an excuse. Fine by me if we keep them there, although I believe they deserve a trial date like anybody else. But there have been four suicides there, and Amnesty International has denounced George Bush's administration's human rights record on this fact. I don't see how waterboarding, beatings, broken glass, barbed wire, and burning cigarettes are that different from the torture used by socialist regimes on their detainees.

I recognize that these people may be serious threats but the degradation of humanity in this way is not acceptable. Punkt. The last straw is, many of these people are or were innocent. And that is the final likening of this situation to the Nazis.

As far as demilitarization, I believe that no one doubts America's toughness. We have the largest military in the world. To the contrary, I think "the bad guys" get people to join their side by using the proof that we do bad stuff to them as justification. If we act honorably and less aggressively, the Taliban and others will have less ammunition to convince on the fence folk to think that Americans are "the bad guys."

In other words, I think our aggressive policy is actually encouraging terrorism, not decreasing it. There are numbers to back that opinion up.

I don't care what we do to lessen the military budget, but right now it's 21 percent of our national budget and that is ridiculous. 21 percent of Jacob and I's taxed income is going to building up our military. I don't like that, and I don't care what we do to reduce it, but sending troops home from peaceful Germany seems a good way to start.

With 8 percent of our budget going to interest on our national debt, I think it makes sense to wait to go to war on other countries until we can afford it.

Jacob and Kalli Hiller said...

At least, we are one of the military superpowers... if not the strongest, then one of them.

Jacob and Kalli Hiller said...

One last thing...,%27_ordered_%27communist%27_tactics/

The Senate Armed Services Committee has stated that the officials in the George Bush administration actually got their techniques from the Chinese communists in the Korean War...
PS Dad, since you can't come to Berlin, guess we'll see you in Ouzazarte!

oh said...

I agree with Kalli and Julie on power sharing. What the government needs is a series of checks to prevent any one group from becoming too powerful. But I have to say that I often don't see a dimes worth of difference between the parties anyway.

I don't think the government recognizes it's own limitations. It often confuses intentions with results. For example, everyone agrees that we should have less dependence on foreign oil. But research shows that federal Cafe legislation adds dramatically to the cost of the car, makes our industry less competitive world wide, reduces the weight and dramatically reduces the safety of the vehicle. Finally, because the car gets better gas mileage, people actually drive more. The results are more emmissions, pollution, and congestion, a weakened industry burdened by more and more federal regulation, and a political system that pats itself on the back for saying its green rather than actually making the planet any more liveable. Argh.

My economic plan.

1. Freedom isn't a platitude. It includes the freedom to fail. I like the populist perspective. Let local governments and communities have more say.

2. I'll vote for more public transportation. Here Here.

3. Cut programs. Reduce spending. Insist that any politican who votes for any spending that exceeds income isn't paid him or herself. Since most have already gotten absurdly wealthy by selling their influence, the "tax" for overspending would have to go beyond income to assets. I mean, we're spending $100 million dollars a day on interest for the "stimulus" package. Good grief.

4. If hospitals are required to provide medical care, then individuals must be required to have medical insurance. I'm leery of federal "intentions" here as well. They don't exactly have a stellar record of coming in on time under budget. The problem is there isn't a successful model out there. One way of dramatically reducing costs is tort reform. Too many Americans think of the court system as a lottery or get rich quick scheme instead of working their way to wealth. We need a winner takes all litigation system like most European countries employ. Then money would flow more freely to doctors instead of lawyers.

Jacob and Kalli Hiller said...

Jacob here - Well, looks like we are establishing some platforms here. Maybe we should organize a debate and some primary voting. We currently have 11 followers, so we there no chance for a split decision.

If Kalli wins, Scott will be required to come to Ouzazarte to attend the crowing of our new Queen, if Scott wins... ... ... He will be required to come to Ouzazarte to attend the crowning of our new Queen?

Astyn said...

You two seem to have quite the amazing travels. I am afraid that I would be one of those people that you mention, who just cannot believe that you are able to so easily jump about the globe and still keep your cool. Really amazing.
I believe that a lot of our healthcare issues stem from a lack of transparency. If you need to go to the doctor for a Rx for strepthroat, do you know how much the Dr. gets paid for the visit? It seems like if normal people were able to gain information about what routine types of treatment cost they would be better able to make value based decisions in regard to their healthcare choices. Over time, healthcare would become more competitive and overall cost would decline.

Jacob and Kalli Hiller said...

I think you're right, Astyn (?). A little more transparency in all aspects of our government and business would help integrity and responsibility... While I don't know the answer to our health care problems, I do wonder why we can't look at countries such as France, Italy, and Spain, who are rated in the top 10 countries around the world for health care according to WHO. Currently, even Oman and Morocco are ahead of the US in line at number 37. I think we could try to copy some of these systems; they must be doing something right.

Laura said...

Laura here. And I am totally against nationalized health care.

I was born in Japan, where socialist medicine (what nationalized health care is) is the norm. And it stinks big time, for many many reasons.

Nationalized health care has not worked for Canada, England, Sweden, and other countries. People from those countries come HERE to get treatment they need because they would have to wait a long time before they can get the treatment in their respective countries. In those countries, you are basically put on a waiting list even if you are on the brink of death. They come here (if they can afford it) to get decent health care. I mean, there are people in England pulling their own teeth out because they have to wait so long to have a dentist do it.

My future mother-in-law is a nurse and she says that if nationalized health care does happen, people will die.

Nationalized health care would only work in a perfect world, but in a perfect world, no one would ever get sick.

I'll get off my soapbox now. This is just something I feel very, very strongly about :)


Jacob and Kalli Hiller said...

More health care comments - From Jacob - First a few statements. - I don't like the idea of insurance being expensive. - I don't like the idea of insurance being paid for by the rich or by taxes. - I don't like the idea of health insurance being uinregulated and a big money making business. - I like the idea of a government insurance but NOT neccessarily the idea of socialized or tax funded insurance, I know this seems to be a contradiction but... What if the government offered an insurance planned that was completely transparent, and the only people making money from it were the empoyees (doctors, nurses etc...) I would also like us all to be able to see how much money is being made from drug sales etc... so there is really no guess work. - This may take some tax money to get started but I think the paying customers would be able to pay for it from that point on, or I hope so. This seems similar to the US post service which is really just another competitior in the market. We pay for stamps, and shipping and evidentally US post service isn't always the cheapest/best - but it is a reliable and trusted service (at leat from my experience.) I think if the government had it's own transarent program prices and processes from all other companies would be driven down to reasonable prices... profit margins might cut a bit, but the business would also be thinking smarter about how to provide competitive services with less costs etc... just as with the US post service. I like the idea of keeping our competitive market place... I think it spurs innovation, and the argumet has been made elsewhere that other good syustems still piggy back off our technology which is the result of our compeittive captialist system. This invsible hand effect, is an often unseen benefit of capitalism (no pun intended). While this doesn't solve the problem of "Insuring EVERY person" it could possible get us a much cheaper system, that maintained innovation, and could be ready for a the next innovation of how to provide it to everyone. But to tell the truth... although everyone doesn't hold insurance, everyone is pretty much cared for when they walk into the hospital with an emergency. The ER doesn't turn fols away, they just write a bill for it, and then when the person can't pay the bill the hospital suffers, and then their prices go up to compensate. Perhaps we could have a "welfare type of insurance system". I think there is a creative innovative answer as to how to get the money or get health insurance to everyone in a fair manner. I am not a fan of the easiest answer for questions like this - raise taxes, espcially for the rich. Cutting costs, lowering prices, and other creative ways are out there (I believe)... taking the rich people money is just too easy, and I don't think it can last. I also think it has unseen consequences that come into affect later on. Anyways those are my fairly undeveloped thoughts, my mind still isn't made up about this issue.

Jacob and Kalli Hiller said...

From Kalli: Thanks for sharing Laura :) I'd agree, we wouldn't want to model our system after the failed ones...Canada is the usual example. But what about the WHO's ranking of the best health systems in the world: France, Italy, San Marino, Malta, Spain, Oman, Austria... Our country is currently ranked 37th. I find that embarrassing, combined with the fact that we spend more on healthcare than any other country in the world.

I'm sick and tired of private companies working entirely on the principle of greed. I wanted to pay for health insurance for five months last year but went uninsured for five months because I had a "prior condition" (a broken nose from a car accident that was not my fault)so they didn't want to accept me. They only agreed finally to take me on if I agreed that I could never get care for my nose with their providers. They'll do anything to get out of paying for legitimate and needed care, because they are run on a for-profit basis.

I recognize many public systems have problems but many are very efficient, such as Germany's where I am currently living.

If we can run both private and public schools in America successfully, I believe we can do the same with healthcare.

There are many options to incorporate a public system. Germany, for example, doesn't include dental care in the public system, healthcare is not free (you must pay a percentage of your paycheck) and every time I have went to a doctor there has been absolutely no waiting times and excellent service.

My only concern is that our government will botch things like they've been doing lately, but I still think that if the system were set up correctly, it would be far better than it is right now.

I also don't understand why people keep talking about we will all die if we have a public system. There will still be private available, if that's what you chose to use.

I'm not sure a public-private system is the best answer--I just think requiring people to have insurance and then making that insurance affordable has got to happen soon.

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