Congress Should Donate Income During Shutdown

On October 6, 2013, in Uncategorized, by Travis Cottrell

Members of Congress will continue to get paid during the government shutdown, because the 27th Amendment stipulates that their salary cannot change until the next election.  So right or wrong that they would continue to get paid while other government employees don’t, I believe they should donate every penny paid for the duration of the shutdown.

If all members of Congress, all 535, would donate their pay checks during the shutdown to charity, some good could come of all this.

My estimation  for a two week shut down would generate $2.3 million in charitable donations.  If each member is paid $174,000 annually, they would get $6,700 for 2 weeks.  After 35% tax rate, they would get $4,350.

Write your senator or representative today and ask for them to donate their income during this shutdown.  Tell them you considerate it an obligation for services not rendered, since they didn’t do their jobs.


Time For Change…

On January 26, 2013, in American, by Travis Cottrell

After a considerable time away from the site spent in self reflection, I have chosen to join the Libertarian Party.  Joining a third party will bring challenges, but the established parties of the current two party system don’t have the ability to forge real positive change.  They are too constricted by their respective base supporters to bring new ideas to the table.

I am proud to see what the Libertarian Party has done over the past decade and I feel the future is bright.  With the announcement today by Iowa’s Senator, Tom Harkin , that he will not seek re-election in 2014, I hope that the Iowa Libertarian Party can nominate a strong contender for this seat in 2014.

The Libertarian Party has long stood for personal freedom and individual accountability, and I find this to be elemental in the recovery of the United States.  We must strike a true and long lasting balance of nurture and protection, while building and training our people to lead the world for decades to come.  This will not be an easy task and many of the changes will be unpopular, but tough choices must be made.

To a brighter America…


We Need A Leader

On July 12, 2011, in Obama, by Travis Cottrell

President Obama is a dynamic and inspiring orator, but a leader he is not.  If he was a leader, he would be pulling 30,000 troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year and another 35,000 by next summer.  Leaving 35,000 troops behind to police and help maintain order.  That is leadership, making a strong decision, not tip-toeing around an issue because he is afraid.

The GOP has a cast of unlikely candidates and I am afraid none of them leaders.  Romney will spend too much time getting out of his own way.  Bachmann is too folksy and while she might be an upgraded Sarah Palin, she is not worthy of the highest office in the land.  Ron Paul is Ross Perot to Bachmann’s Palin, while he has the right message and the willingness to broach the tough subjects, he isn’t “made for tv”.

I think the GOP will be hard pressed to unseat Obama.  Even with the economy floundering, he will be re-elected.  Romney is the only one that might appeal to enough of the middle to win, but he can’t win his own party’s nomination.

The truth is, we need a good leader.  But the good leaders in our country are too smart to run for president.  It is a thankless job, with constant criticism and a tireless schedule.  just look at a picture of Barack during the campaign and look at pictures from this month.  That man has aged ten years in the last three.  It is no wonder he let slip that one term might be enough.

So we need a leader to be our next president, to lift the country up and inspire the nation to a better and brighter future.  How do we get a great leader to leave the private sector and run for president?  I respect the passion and willingness to put it on the line of Herman Cain, even though he stands little chance of getting elected.  And we need more like him.  Men and women that have had great careers in business and turned major corporations around, that have a strong love of country and willing to make the sacrifices of running for president.

I sure hope we find that leader soon…


Liberty For All

On June 22, 2011, in American, Economy, Spending, by Travis Cottrell

Our nation’s founders gave us a wonderful platform for enabling it’s citizens the opportunity to pursue dreams and goals.  This platform has been blocked off, restricted and limited by decades of legislation meant to protect the weak.  But the slippery slope that protected those unable to fend for themselves has allowed for the lazy and complacent to benefit and even thrive from those programs.

In a system intended to reward hard work, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, we see idle hands given aid provided on the sweat and effort of the rest.  These programs had the purest of intentions, I do believe this, but the legislators could not have foreseen the abuses taken of these entitlements.  Now we see unemployeement  benefits extended allowing for further complacent behavior.  More people are taking food stamps then at any point in our nation’s history.  Again, I feel these programs are in place to protect and insure a healthy society, but when allowed to survive on hand outs, we stop working to provide for ourselves.

Our big government that spends more than it takes in at a growing rate has nurtured and cultivated a society too weak to take care of itself.  If we are to turn around this economy we must begin to let people fail.  To let businesses fail. To let states fail.  It is time for a correction the likes Wall Street could never imagine.  We need many things to fail in order to build it back correctly and properly.  We don’t need a revolution, we need a purging.  We have to get rid of the programs that have our nation hamstrung.  We need to restore the freedoms that made this country great.

It will take sacrifice and suffering to withstand the hard times, but from that will come a stronger nation built on the platform created by our founding fathers.  Start to look within yourself to provide and protect your livelihood.  We must stop relying on the government and begin to shoulder more burdens.  Look to help you neighbor, crawl out from the debt so many American face.  Help each other.  Look to the past for guidance.  Neighbors used to lend a hand in building a barn or harvesting a crop, but today we can help our neighbor start a new business or learn a new skill.  We will only be as strong as our weakest citizen, so we must work together to strengthen our communities.  The government need only protect not provide.  We were given inalienable rights, but they do not include food and shelter.  Those things we must provide for ourselves.  It is time we take responsibility as individuals to restore our nation and to take back the liberty we once had.  The liberty we fight so hard to protect.  The liberty people around the world can only dream of.  The liberty we raise our children to appreciate.



Why can’t we talk about this?

The media writes stories about Congress’ attempts to cut $21 billion over ten years from Oil Company Subsidies, but no one talks about the fact that we are increasing out public debt by $130 billion each month.  Who gives a rat’s ass about $21 billion.  It is far past time we talk about the real problems.

Today I want to talk about Defense spending.  We will spend $768 billion for fiscal year 2011 on defense.  This is high partially because we are involved in a war in Afghanistan, a government reform in Iraq and a no-fly zone in Libya, not to mention any other little hostilities we take up throughout the world.  We are everywhere.  Which is fine when we can afford it, but we can’t afford it right now.  And don’t tell me “we can’t afford not to”.

We have a defense budget for fiscal year 2012, $553 billion, that is 5 times larger than the next largest defense budget of any country for the same year.  Now the $553 is just a starting point we will spend far more than that.  But the point is, somehow all these other countries manage to maintain a safe national defense with far less spent.  I know that cutting defense spending will mean cutting jobs, but the public sector can not continue to prop up the employment numbers.  The GOP has for many years managed to bring large defense contracts back to their own districts for the benefit of their constituents.  This works out well for them, since the military tends to vote conservatively, they insure the right leaning voting by bringing even more like-minded voters into the area.  So no Republican will campaign on a platform of Defense spending cuts, they simply can’t, those people elect them.

So the Democrats would need to push for a smaller defense budget, but the next time they try to get elected, the GOP will run ads depicting them as weak on national security.

Our nation is very secure and spending more money is not increasing the security.  Just a few months ago,  our own Secretary of Homeland Security claimed that we are at a level of terrorist risk higher than at any point since 9/11.  So the spending is not working.

Defense spending makes up almost 20% of our federal budget, we must cut into that spending to have a measurable effect on our deficit.  Quit squabbling over $20 or even $50 billion spending and spend some time attacking the big things.

I also believe that if we pull back our “Sphere of Influence” as a part of those spending cuts we will be less of a target to terrorists, thus making us safer.


Happy Debt Ceiling Day!

On May 16, 2011, in Defense, Deficit, Spending, Taxes, by Travis Cottrell

This morning around 5 a.m. we surpassed the $14.29 trillion debt ceiling set by Congress in February 2010.  Now they are fighting over raising is again.  And ultimately they will have to do just that.  There is no way to fix the problem in a few months or without great sacrifices.  But in the negotiations they are talking about farm subsidies and selling the gold in Ft Knox, but not about the Elephant in the room.

We have to make real cuts and increase revenue if we have any hope of staving off financial collapse.

60% of our federal budget goes to defense, social security and medicare.

  • The U.S has a defense budget for 2012 of $593 billion, that is more than 5 times larger than the next largest defense budget of any country in the world (China at $91 billion)
  • Social Security was broken from the inception, the first recipient, Ida Fuller, paid in $24.75 before retiring in 1939 and received over $22,000 before she died at age 100 in 1975
  • Medicare is a great program that far too many people benefit from and with advances of modern medicine tend to live long enough to draw more out than they ever paid in.

If we continue on the path we are on, our economy will crash.  We will lose substantial value of our currency.  Estimate range from 60 cents on the dollar to just pennies. 

So I for one understand that this process will take sacrifice and so if given the choice I would much rather pay 5% more in taxes than have my lifestyle effected by the crash of the dollar.  Let’s increae taxes and cut spending, get this deficit under control and quit coming up with welfare programs we can’t afford.



On April 8, 2011, in Defense, Deficit, Economy, Obama, by Travis Cottrell

There has been concern aired through media outlets for years about the corrupt government in Afghanistan, but no one is pointing fingers at the corrupt government we have right here.  We have seen both parties blaming the other and no one is explaining the honest and straight forward levels of our governnment during a shutdown.

The worst example of fear mongering from our government came yesterday when the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, spouted off that, the military checks would not be issued during the shutdown, but that a check for back pay would be issued after the government resumes full operation.  If this is the case, then the idea of keeping  the essential functions of the government operating during the shutdown is lost.  If paying our military men is not essential, then what is?

Why are our congressmen and senators going to get paid, but our soldiers at war won’t?  The guys doing their jobs protecting our country have to save and scrape to get by, while our government is shut down, but the guys pulling down 6 figures with government expense accounts, get to keep on cashing their checks even though it is their fault the government is shutting down.

Now today, I read that the liberal media is calling for the GOP to relax their insistence on cutting funding from planned parenthood in order to get a budget deal done.  The roughly $400 million that planned parenthood is getting in the fiscal budget 2011, is a drop in the bucket of the $1.5 trillion annual budget.  I can’t imagine they are willing to shut down the government over a couple hundred million dollars that remain in the 2011 budget for planned parenthood. If they are, then shame on them.

The big picture here, is we are having a legitimate fight over the out of control spending.

And it is far too late.

This ship can’t be righted.  We can’t afford our expenses if our economy was thriving, much less when we are experiencing a prolonged downturn.

Just start telling the people the truth.

Why does our defense budget need to be over 5 times larger than any other country in the world?

How can we have essential government operations during a shutdown and not pay our military?

Why would you pass an extension to the Bush-era tax cuts, when we are running a trillion dollar deficit?  Then shut down our government over budget cuts that are dwarfed by the costs of those tax cuts.  Congress is separated by roughly $5 billion in budget plans, but the tax cuts they passed back in December are costing us $500 billion.  These are the idiots we have elected to handle our money and run our government.  The best thing we can do now, is not re-elect a single one of them.


Is Democracy So Great?

On March 20, 2011, in American, Defense, Economy, State of the Union, by Travis Cottrell

Is it so great that in the name of Democracy we can ouster Dictators around the world?

I don’t believe there should be a military action against Gadhafi in Libya.  If the world is going to recognize his government as sovereign, then he is doing exactly what any sovereign nation would do to protect itself in the face of violent uprisings.  He is using military force to take back cities and strategic resources that were forcibly taken from the government.  His statement, “That there will be no mercy” is hardly different the Bush saying, “You are either with us or against us” when justifying our actions in Iraq eight years ago.  The U.N. and NATO are not doing this for the people of Libya, but for the stability of Oil production in the region.

In the U.S., our Democracy has failed the people.  The system is broken and there is no way to fix it without a drastic change to the political arena.  The politicians are blindly pushing our economy to the brink of disaster and even when our military claims we don’t need any more assets, the Congress refuses to limit production or cut budgets because they would force people out of work in their districts.  We have so many problems in our country, it makes it hard to stay on topic, but I don’t feel that we are a model government any longer.  We have no business forcing democracy on another sovereign nation.

If the true intentions of our move in Libya were humanitarian and in the name of a democratic government, we would have oustered Kim Jong-Il before now.  This is nothing more than an exhibition of force to the leaders of Oil producing nations, and a statement that “the West can’t afford higher oil prices while trying to mend our broken economies”.  If we really cared about the treatment of civilians under dictators, we would be using military force in Syria,Yemen, or North Korea right now as well.

Our Democracy is an example of a veiled Oligarchy, in which elections allow for the broken system to appear democratic all while feeding into decades of corruption and back room deals in a stark contrast to the best interests of the people.  The election process limits the ability for change by restricting new voices outside the system from appearing on ballots and giving prominence to the established parties. This is not a system for the people, but a system against the people.  The time to fix  the system is too far past, the system is too broken for repair.  It is time for a new system, for a new government.

So fittingly on the first day of Spring, it is with a love of country and passion for the people, I call for a new government, a new constitution, to return us to the United States we were raised to believe in.


Weak Dollar Is To Blame

On March 16, 2011, in Deficit, Economy, Uncategorized, by Travis Cottrell

I saw headlines today, saying, “Food costs soaring in US after harsh winter. Will higher prices last?” and “Wholesale Prices Rise on Energy Costs”.  And while the longer, colder winter may have an effect, the true culprit here is a weak dollar.  A weak dollar caused by the actions of our Federal Bank called Qualitative Easing.  The name sounds nice, but it is a horrible idea that has failed the only times it has been attempted.

We have witnessed the unrest in the Middle East and then the panic as Oil prices skyrocketed, but we are the ones to blame here.  Those riots started because of high food costs.  Higher because our dollar is garnering lower value.  And our food and energy are getting more expensive stateside as well.  In February alone, the inflation rate of wholesale food was 3.9% and energy was up 3.3%.  But your employer can’t afford to give you a raise to match that, especially not if that trend continues – and it will.  We are still due to see $300 billion in Qualitative Easing between now and June, so that rate of inflation may be minor in comparison to coming months.

The Feds’ moves to print more money will mean you are worth less or at least the work you do is.  Your salary will prove prohibitive as the inflation spreads into coming months.  If just 3% inflation in fuel and food is repeated for 6 months, it will feel like you took a 20% pay cut.  Because fuel prices affect everything, it could be even worse than that.  I am afraid the Fed is posturing to inflict another round of Qualitative Easing with recent statements by the Fed Chair Bernanke touting the lower unemployment rates and statements like, “Until we see a sustained period of stronger job creation, we cannot consider the recovery to be truly established”

Plus the Fed Chair states that claims of the dollar’s weakening value as “way overstated”, adding that the value is on par with the value before the bubble burst.

If the Fed offers up another round of Qualitative Easing, the dollar’s weakness will scare off creditors and damage the image of the dollar as a stable measure for international trades.  This would further expose our economy and way of life to higher prices across the board all in the name of boosting the economy.  So not only are you going to be paying for the monetary injections in tax dollars, but you will get to pay for it at the pump and the market.  Thanks Fed, with help like this, we don’t even need a natural disaster or terrorist attack to implode.


We Can’t Get Out Of Our Own Way

On March 11, 2011, in Defense, Deficit, Economy, Spending, Taxes, by Travis Cottrell

As I lay in bed last night starring at the ceiling, I realized that there is no way out.  The entitlement programs are going to bring down our economy.  There is no way to avoid it.  Our total debt is now greater than our GDP and it will only keep growing.

Earlier I came to see that the GOP is not willing to make changes to the real problems because they can’t keep their jobs and make the necessary changes.  The system is about to consume itself.

The people that elect and financially support the campaigns of the Republicans will be the most affected by changes to Social Security, Medicare and raising the cap on payroll taxes.  The first job of any politician is to get elected, then the second is to get re-elected, so it is plain and simple – nothing will change.

The Republicans won’t make cuts to the Defense spending or make real changes to these entitlements, so maybe we should just sit back and watch the show.  There is really nothing that can be done.  I know this all sounds depressing, but I haven’t written anything this week while I was taking a step back to watch.  And it became glaringly clear that we are driving directly off the cliff and the system is to blame.

We can’t expect the politicians to make the change.  It goes directly against their own survival instincts.

So get comfy, the show will begin soon, just wait until the debt load forces the government to grind to a halt and the value of the dollar to collapse.  Then we can pick up the pieces and form a new government in a similar vein so the cycle can continue.  Say goodbye to the America we knew and loved and get ready for a bumpy ride, the first step is a doozy.

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