Thursday, April 30, 2009

Senator Burr: Asleep at the wheel


I just finished reading 2 articles that make me upset. They are here and here. They're technical and difficult to understand for anyone not immersed in our nation's financial markets. The bottom line is that losses are starting to mount at the Federal Reserve on all the junk investments that it had to take from Bear Sterns and AIG. We're talking about 10s of billion in losses so far. And it will likely get worse, much worse, before the mess is cleaned up. Taxpayers will wind up covering these losses. 10s of Billions.

What a waste. How many schools could have been improved? How much health care provided? How many college educations could have been financed? We wasted 10s of Billions, and mounting, on financial engineering. Why? This one line in one of these articles sums it up best "If you take the cop off the beat in a neighborhood, all kinds of malpractices will be committed." Our government was asleep at the wheel. The laissez-faire attitude of our Republican leadership led to absolutely no control over our financial markets. The Republican party failed America.

I am a Republican. I believe in free markets. But free markets also need referees. The current Republicans in office think laissez-faire means no oversight. Well, we now know what kind of disaster that leads too.

It's time to punish the Republicans in office who brought this financial disaster to our doorstep. Let's vote them out of office. And that means Senator Richard Burr needs to get the boot. He failed us. He wrecked our retirement funds. His ignorance led to our houses falling in value. He's a loser. It's time to send him packing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Senator Burr: Does nothing about entrenched corporate thieves


I'm a capitalist and believe in free markets. But what we've had in this country in terms of corporate governance has been anything but a free market. Absolutely terrible corporate executives and boards of directors have entrenched themselves. They've mismanaged our public companies and stolen our wealth through egregious compensation and stock options plans. They risk none of their own money or wealth, yet are rewarded even for failure. What has been happening in America on the corporate governance front has been a massive embarrassment.

The Republican party should have realized we had a problem with corporate governance. Republican political leaders should have done something about our problems and given shareholders an ability to dethrone entrenched managers. But it didn't happen. And much of the crises we face today is a direct result of poor managers and runaway, unreasonable compensation structures and incentives. Where was the Republican party? Asleep at the switch.

As irony would have it. Now it looks like the Democrats are going to get done what Republicans failed to accomplish. There's an article in the Wall Street Journal about the plans to end the broker vote rule. This rule, above all others, has allowed horrible management teams to stay in place and continue to reach into shareholders' pockets to enrich themselves. It allowed all non-votes to pass automatically to brokers. And brokers almost always voted with current management. It would be like incumbent politicians automatically getting the votes of anyone who didn't show up at the polls.

I am a Republican. I am tremendously embarrassed that my party was so clueless about this issue as to allow it to go on for so long and cause so much damage to our country's economy. It's just plain shameful. And Republicans who ignored this problem for so long should all be voted out of office.

Senator Richard Burr has been in office for nearly 6 years. This man allowed corporate thieves to remain entrenched, have absolutely no financial risk, and pay themselves handsomely, even when they failed. Senator Richard Burr is an embarrassment to Capitalism, Free Markets, and the Republican Party. It would please me more than you could imagine to see this sorry man thrown out of office. Let's send him packing. North Carolina deserves better.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Senator Burr: Does nothing about runaway executive pay

Interesting article today at FT.com about CHK's CEO. The man was caught in a margin squeeze and forced to sell over 90% of his company's stock at a low point last fall. A couple weeks later, the board of directors decides this CEO deserves a $75 Million bonus. This is on top of approving the company's purchase of over $10 million of artwork from the CEO. Am I the only one who smells a bailout? Why is shareholder wealth being used to bail this CEO out of his poor personal financial decisions?

Apparently a large institutional investor is upset enough about this situation to swing into action and try to force some changes at the company. Good luck with that. We all know that shareholders are near powerless to make any kind of changes. We know that we don't operate in a free market when it comes to shareholder rights. CEO's pick their boards. The boards are comprised of CEO's friends and business associates. They act as a group to pay themselves well no matter how the company performs. And in the case of CHK, $75 Million is certainly nice pay. It's ridiculous, egregious pay. It's theft.

How did shareholders do during the period that CHK's CEO got a $75 Million bonus? Oh, they only lost $36 Billion in wealth. Why does this theft continue? It continues because our political leaders don't take the necessary actions to empower shareholders to stand up and say ENOUGH. We've had enough of being screwed while poorly performing executives continue to pay themselves for failure.

It now appears Democrats are going to get done what Republicans never accomplished. Sen. Charles Schumer has introduced a bill that will finally give shareholders a say on pay. It's about time. And I dare Republicans to stand in the way of this legislation. Of all our nation's ills, the one that gets Americans more riled than any other is runaway corporate executive compensation.

I'm a Republican, free market capitalist. I own stock in a myriad of companies. It makes absolutely no sense at all that I don't get the right to vote on executive pay. It makes absolutely no sense at all that I don't get the right to nominate my selections for the company's board of directors. I don't have any power at all to stand up to poorly performing corporate executives and say ENOUGH. And I'm embarrassed that the Republican party stands around and does nothing to make the changes necessary to get these things accomplished.

You can bet Senator Richard Burr will not be supporting an effort to give shareholders control over the companies they own. This man is a do nothing Senator who supports entrenched corporate executives who reach into shareholder's pockets to take massive amounts of undeserved compensation. ENOUGH. Let's kick this man to the curb. North Carolina deserves better.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Senator Burr: A list of failures


I haven't been posting to this blog for long now, but the list of Senator Burr's failures grows:

Let Americans starve.
How a root canal explains his failure.
Absent.
An economic failure.
A member of the party of no.
Bill Johnson explains the Senator's failure.
Warped priorities.
Naive about Wall Street.
Silent on a $100 Million theft.
Technologically inept.
Where is this man?
Responsible for $150 Oil.
Soft of tax cheats.
All talk, no action on medical costs.
How Republicans destroyed your savings.
Spent us into a crises.
Where is his budget proposal?
Out in left field.
Supports AIG bonuses.
Corporate greed is good.
Where is our Senator?
Republican arrogance.

As I continue with many more posts in the months ahead, we'll see all the common themes that Americans care about, yet Senator Burr has done absolutely NOTHING to help solve:

Our economic mess
Runaway medical costs
Corporate executives ripping us off
Higher education costs simply out of control
Spiking energy costs
Rich getting richer while the majority of America suffers
The wealthy paying less taxes than the rest of Americans

Not only is he not helping solve these problems, but some of his policies and beliefs contribute greatly to causing the problems. These are the issues that Americans care about. These are the issues that Senator Burr has ignored, or caused. Spend some time looking at the man's website. Educate yourself on the issues that Senator Burr works on. Our Senator is a do nothing failure. It's time to vote this man out of office.

I'm a Republican. The Senator is a member of the Republican Party. I don't care. He's not effective. He's not working on the key issues and problems our country faces. ENOUGH. It's time to replace Senator Richard Burr.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Senator Burr: Wealth concentration out of control


Senator Burr is a member of the Republican machine in Washington DC that simply loves to twist the facts to their advantage. It makes me mad. It should make you mad too. The latest egregious effort from that machine came from Republican Ari Fleischer, the former Press Secretary to George W Bush. Ari wrote a provocative opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal last week about who pays income taxes in our country.

Ari's argument can be boiled down to this, the rich pay the largest proportion of our nation's income taxes. The poor pay almost nothing. In fact, we're quickly getting to the point that almost 50% of Americans don't pay income taxes. At first blush, that makes you mad. But they do pay payroll taxes if they have a job. Still, it's an intellectually dishonest presentation of the facts. And that's what should really make you mad. The Republican machine, of which Senator Richard Burr is a dues paying member, is good at twisting an argument to scare you into their way of thinking.

Why is it dishonest? Those who have the wealth should pay the most for the privilege of living in a society that allowed them to build the wealth. And the wealth concentration in our country is simply out of control. Think long and hard about what I am going to type next:
  1. Less than 1% of Americans control over 34% of our nation's wealth.
  2. The top 10% of Americans control 71% of our nation's wealth.
  3. The bottom 40% control less than 1% of our nation's wealth.
And these were 2004 stats. It's probably worse now. Shocking! Absolutely shocking! But when put into the context of Ari's opinion piece, it makes Ari and the Republican party machine look foolish for whining about the wealthy having to pay taxes.

Those who can afford to pay should pay. They got wealthy on the back on all the institutions provided by our government. And when the top 10% of Americans control almost 75% of our nation's wealth, I would think they'd be grateful. They should keep their mouths shut about having to pay income tax. Pay it, and be grateful to live in America.

So, the next time you hear a Republican like Senator Richard Burr whining about the high income taxes we pay, ask him why it is that only 10% of Americans control 71% of the wealth. Ask him why the wealth concentration continues to be tilted to the richest among us. And then demand to know why it is that these people aren't paying MORE. We run up budget deficits so they can get richer. Is that fair?

I'm in the 10% group. And I'm very grateful to live in this country. I don't mind paying my fair share of income taxes, even if it means paying more. I am a Republican. But I also know that immense concentration of wealth in the hands of a few is a very bad thing for prosperous societies. Think about it like a game of poker. If 4 people are playing poker, and one person takes everyone's money, the game is over. That's no different than a country and it's economy. When a very few people accumulate all the wealth, the economic game is over. Wealth concentration is bad. We have to put in place mechanisms to prevent it from getting worse, and even reverse some of what has already happened, if we are to remain a strong country with a viable economy. The wealthy must pay more income taxes so we can balance our budget and reverse some of the wealth concentration that has already happened.

Senator Richard Burr doesn't understand how bad the wealth concentration has gotten in our country. If he did, he wouldn't be preaching about high tax rates on the wealthy. We need to throw this man out of office. Join me. Vote against Richard Burr in the next election. North Carolina deserves better.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Senator Burr: Talking up depression


I'm so amused at our political leaders at times. They often fail to understand that one of the most important roles they play is the role of Chief Motivator. When our politicians are positive and upbeat, that psychology rubs off on the rest of America. And in recent times, we've been in dire need of a positive attitude from Washington DC. So very much of this financial crises has been psychological. Investors and consumers are scared. When they're scared, they don't invest and spend. Our economy suffers. So, we need to change the psychology of America in order to work our way out of this mess. Senator Richard Burr doesn't get this.

A couple nights ago, Senator Burr gave a speech to a North Carolina business group. The coverage of that speech is here. It's was all doom and gloom. "We're in a depression. Our banking system almost failed. I had my wife go to our bank and withdraw as much as she could. We're spending too much money. We're up a creek without a paddle." Negative. Negative. Negative. And I suspect that audience left that talk, withdrew money from their banks, and stopped spending and investing. Senator Richard Burr is contributing to our problems through all his doom and gloom talk.

I'm a North Carolina Republican who's simply had enough of politicians way out in left field, not getting what it is that we need to do in order to resolve our problems. We need motivators in office. We need people who are realistic, but inspire and give Americans reason to be hopeful about the future. That's not Senator Richard Burr. We need to vote this gloomy man out of office. North Carolina deserves better.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Senator Burr: An arrogant Republican


Today, and many more times before the next election, I'm going to repeat my initial post to this blog. This is what prompted me to take action. This is what prompted me to spend just 15 to 30 minutes a day putting on screen why it is that I am so very disillusioned with my Republican Party and my state's Republican Senator. Republicans are arrogant. Our party is directly responsible for this financial crises we find ourselves in. Republicans who served since 2000 all need to be punished, voted out of office.

This post is why I started this blog:

Yesterday was a day of working around my house. It's spring and spring always brings on chores. I enjoy it because it gets my mind off issues like the economy, the financial markets, and politics. That reduces my stress levels, which is something I need.

But then, a neighbor walked over and we talked. Mistake. He's a die-hard Republican. I am too. But lately, I straddle the fence, generally hating both parties. But he sent my stress levels to the roof with a constant pounding on Barny Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and John Kerry. It's their fault. Everything's their fault.

A typical Republican.

I have to tell you, I'm just flat tired of hearing Republicans talk about our nation's problems. The Republican Party IS OUR NATION'S PROBLEM. These people were in control of the White House for the last 8 years. They were in control of Congress for 6 of the last 8 years. It was a total break down in government oversight and regulation that brought us to this point. And that was the Republican's fault. They were in control. I have a message for all Republicans out there who want to mouth off about Democratic leaders:

Just shut up.

Republicans did nothing about energy spiraling out of control. They did nothing about education costs that bankrupted families, and piled debt onto the shoulders of our young people. They did nothing about health care costs that were the single biggest factor in personal bankruptcies in our nation. They did nothing about the 45 million Americans without health care coverage. They did nothing about our broken education system. They sat on their asses while wealth concentration hit historical proportions, while the middle class suffered. They doubled our nation's debt by piling another $5 Trillion to the shoulders of our children. They were directly responsible for putting a leash on the SEC to the point it was a broken, toothless, total waste of money.

But Republicans were an accomplished party on some fronts. They made the rich even richer. They prided themselves on increasing home ownership to record levels, and we know how that worked out. They started wars. They spent money like drunken sailors. They allowed our investment banks to leverage up to 40 to 1. They stood in the way of the Federal Reserve providing adult oversight to the mortgage lending industry. And I could go on and on.

I am a Republican. I so deplore how irresponsible my party has been that I don't have a single kind word to say about my party or any of it's leaders. And I'm not a fan either of the Democratic Party. However, I'm smart enough to know who's a fault for this mess. Republicans. And I am smart enough to know that the only answer right now is to give the other guys a chance. And that means we need to push out of office every damn Republican who served during the Bush administration. Every single one. We need to give the other guys a chance to do better. And they need at least 8 years before we start giving them grief.

It was our fault. We screwed America. The Republican Party is to blame for this mess. And Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Harry Reid and Barney Frank deserve our silence right now.

So, a message to fellow Republicans:

Just shut up.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Senator Burr: Republicans lie about Corporate Taxes


Aren't you simply tired of hearing Republican politicians crying about the high corporate tax rates? As a party, to the one, each and every Republican political leader thinks that corporate tax rates are too high. They say that our nation's corporate income tax rate is the highest in the world. Republicans want to lower the corporate tax rate. Some want it to be zero. Don't listen to these intellectually dishonest whiners. They lie.

Yes, the incremental corporate income tax rate is 35%. Yes, that sounds like it's pretty high. But our nation is a nation of red tape, loopholes, and massive deductions. When the corporations send their armies of tax accountants and lawyers to war, they come back paying significantly less than 35%. The actual average corporate income tax rate falls somewhere between 20 and 23% - one of the world's lowest.

Next time you hear a Republican in Washington DC whine about the need to cut corporate income tax rates, shout out "LIAR". Shout long, loud and repeatedly. We don't need to cut our corporate tax rate. We need to eliminate deductions and loopholes.

Where does Senator Richard Burr stand on the issue of cutting corporate deductions and loopholes? Ask him. Ask him why he votes for even more and more corporate deductions and loopholes out of one side of his mouth, while whining about the high corporate income tax rate out the other side of his mouth. Senator Richard Burr is adding to our nation's problems on the income tax front. ENOUGH.

North Carolina deserves better. Let's kick this sorry man out of office and find someone who won't just stand up and utter the senseless Republican party line of "lower the corporate income tax rate". I'm a Republican who wants Senator Richard Burr gone. Join me in voting against him in the next election.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Senator Burr: Rewards the rich


North Carolina Senator Richard Burr HATES blue collar workers. North Carolina Senator Richard Burr LOVES rich wall street executives. Why do I say this? Simple. It's true. It's true because Senator Richard Burr is standing around with his hands in his pockets while Wall Street is getting rewarded handsomely, and blue collar workers get the shaft.

Washington DC saved AIG with a $180+ Billion bailout. About $40 to $50 Billion of that money went from AIG to rich hedge funds and investment banks all over the world. And from there, the vast majority of it went straight into the pockets of rich bankers getting their multi-million bonuses. These rich, wealthy people collected 100 cents on the dollar of what AIG owed them. They didn't have to sacrifice. They just took taxpayer money to enrich themselves, at our expense.

Washington DC is also going to come to the rescue of GM to the tune of much, much less than what they loaned into AIG and hedge funds and investment banks. But in the case of GM, Washington DC is taking a hammer to GM's blue collar workers. Read this. The blue collar retirees will lose over $16 Billion in pensions. Not only that, but Washington is hammering down the value of GM bonds and preferred stock. Most of these investments are owned by pension funds paying benefits to blue collar, state and federal workers. There will be $30,$40,$50 Billion in losses in the GM situation, losses born by working Americans.

Rewarding the rich, screwing the average American. That's what Senator Burr is allowing to happen in Washington DC these days, because he's standing around with his hands in his pockets and doing NOTHING to make the process fair.

ENOUGH. I'm a Republican who's just sick of all the taxpayer money being giving to the rich and powerful of our nation. Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan - these investment banks that took AIG money from the taxpayer need to take a massive haircut, and they need to take back bonuses paid. NOW.

And Senator Richard Burr - this sorry man needs to be replaced. He's clueless as to what's going on in the so called "fixing" of this financial crises. Let's vote this man out of office. North Carolina deserves better.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Senator Burr: Lew Campbell's good buddy


Who's Lew Campbell you ask? Well, he's Senator Richard Burr's buddy. Lew simply loves do-nothing political leaders like Senator Richard Burr. Those do-nothing leaders allow Lew to steal money from shareholders.

Lew Campbell is the CEO of Textron Corp. And Lew's in line to receive a $50 Million retirement payout when he sells Textron to either Lockheed Martin or Raytheon sometime in the next couple weeks. The buyout talk is just a rumor going around. But it's a believable rumor given Lew's incentive to bail. How did Lew's shareholders make out this past year? They're down 86%. They've seen a loss of $13.5 Billion in wealth. And for this, Lew's going to walk away with $50 Million, thanks to our pathetic political leaders like Republican Senator Richard Burr.

Lew's a nice enough guy. I've been listening to him talk on quarterly earnings conference calls for a couple years now. Like many CEOs of public companies, Lew simply got promoted far too many pay grades above his competence level. He allowed his CFO to use the company's balance sheet and good credit rating to raise significantly more debt than the company should have borrowed. They used these funds to lend to customers. They then expanded into lending money to corporations not even buying Textron products. It was a fatal mistake. Those loans are going bad at a stunning rate. But Textron still owes the money they borrowed to do this lending, Billions. The losses piled up so high that they blew a $14 Billion hole into the pockets of Textron shareholders. Lew screwed up, badly.

Is Lew going to pay for his incompetence? Nope. He's made 10s of millions over the years while making these bad decisions. And he stands to make even more to work his way out of the mess he created. All he has to do is sell the screwed up company he leads to another company, then collect on that $50 Million retirement payout. Then Lew's set for life. See, it doesn't matter whether Lew succeeds, or whether he fails. Lew has no risk. Lew does not suffer. Lew makes out like, well, like a thief.

Doesn't this just make you sick? This CEO has lost his shareholders close to $14 BILLION dollars, and he's going to pocket $50 Million in a single payout. And there's nothing shareholders can do about it. Nothing. It's really strange if you think about it. If a thief were to walk up to you on the street and take your wallet, you could chase him, or call the police. But, when a CEO has a heavy hand in selecting the slate of his friends, associates and peers to serve on his board of directors, and those CEO's associates reach into your pocket and give the CEO ungodly amounts of money even for failure, there's not a thing you can do about it. Isn't that still theft?

Which brings us back to Richard Burr, Lew's buddy. Lew loves the fact that his shareholders have no power to nominate anyone to the board of directors. Lew loves the fact that his shareholders don't get to vote on Lew's salary. Lew loves that fact that his shareholders don't vote on retirement or golden parachute payouts. Why aren't shareholders given the power to take these common sense, free market actions? Because politicians like Richard Burr sit around flapping their jaws but do nothing to give shareholders the ability to stand up to Lew and say ENOUGH.

Lew loves Senator Richard Burr, they're buddies. And it's the Senator Richard Burr's of this country who allow corporate executives to continue to enrich themselves with ungodly amounts of our money, even when these sorry executives spectacularly fail.

I'm a North Carolina Republican. I'm a capitalist graduate of the Harvard Business School. I believe in free markets and the theory of keeping government out of the way of business. But I am just plain tired of politicians like Senator Richard Burr who don't make the move to give us a true free market. As shareholders we are powerless to influence change. We need the power to nominate directors. We need the power to execute up or down votes on pay, parachutes, and change of control payouts. We need the power to stand up to thieving corporate executives who are stealing our wealth. We need the power to hold these people accountable. We don't have that power. Our Politicians need to make it happen. But, they don't. They talk. They sit. They ponder, while the Lews of corporate America execute on their legal form of theft.

Senator Richard Burr is on the side of the thieves. North Carolina deserves better. Let's toss this sorry Republican Senator out the door in the next election. Let's find a Senator who will give shareholders the power to take back our companies and kick overcompensated, underperforming corporate executive thieves off their thrones.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Senator Burr: An embarrassment to North Carolina


Senator Burr is touring North Carolina giving speeches. Apparently, he's relaying a story about how he encouraged his wife to go to his bank's ATM machine as often as possible one recent weekend and withdraw as much money as possible. You see, Senator Burr was afraid that a bank run would cause his bank to close.

This man is a clueless dolt. I am sorry, but our US Senator is dumb as North Carolina red clay. My gosh, how in the world did we come to elect such an idiot? He's being laughed at all over the place now as a result of his ridiculous story:

Holy crap, Senator Richard Burr has a third grader’s understanding of economics
Richard Burr encouraged wife to perform single family bank run
Richard Burr's Moral Dilemma
Wright Report: Senator Richard Burr is an idiot
NC Senator Burr to wife last fall: Get out money out of the bank
Dems take aim at Burr for bank comments
Hall of Shame: Richard Burr
Burr encourages run on banks
Burr told family to withdraw everything from bank
Stupid is as stupid does
Burr to Wife: Hit the ATM

The Senator didn't have faith in the FDIC, or what?

My gosh folks, we have to do something about this dolt of a US Senator we have. We've got to throw his sorry tail to the curb in the next election, before everyone laughs North Carolina off the map. Enough. This man is an embarrassment to North Carolina. Help me. Help us. Kick this idiot to the curb in the next election.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Senator Burr: A $240 K loser


As I get older, my attention turns to what I need in order to retire. The outlook? Well, it's not pretty. The costs associated with retirement seem to outrun our abilities to set aside enough money to retire. The biggest component of those costs? Healthcare. News out in the Triangle Business Journal this week indicates that the average couple will spend $240 K in health care costs in retirement. And that does not include anything for nursing home care. How in the world did we get into this situation?

$240 K is a big nut to crack. It's near impossible to save that much for the vast majority of Americans. I keep reminding my son about an important lesson when thinking about saving money. You have to pay living expenses first. Then the tax man wants his share. After all that, then you save. So to save $1, you often have to make $30, $40, $50 before you can bank that dollar. So how much would you have to make in order to save $240 K? A lot. One hell of a lot.

Our state Senator, Richard Burr has been flapping his jaws for 5 or 6 years now about health care. He wants the "free market" to solve our problems. We saw how that worked out with oil prices. They were driven to $150 by free market speculators. We saw how that worked out with housing. The free market lenders went wild and gave out so much money that our housing market plunged and killed off our wealth. We saw how that worked with derivatives traders. Those free market idiots went nuts and gave us AIG. And now we need to trust our Senator that free markets are the path to success in controlling health care costs? I don't think so.

What do I think about the ideas of Senator Richard Burr when it comes to controlling health care costs? According to Fidelity, over the past 7 years, the amount needed by retired people to pay for their health care costs has jumped 50%. And all the while, Senator Richard Burr just keeps flapping his jaws. The man is a $240 K loser.

Let's send a message to the free market Republicans like North Carolina Senator Richard Burr. Let's throw this sorry Senator to the curb. Nothing would please this Republican more. I'm fed up with jaw flapping Republicans who don't get anything done. Haven't you had enough yet?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Senator Burr: Let Americans starve


OK. I've just about had it with my government's failures. I just read a new article that makes me so darn mad, that I'm wishing I could march to Washington DC, grab our US Republican do-nothing Senator by the collar, and march his sorry tail down to the nearest soup kitchen. Then I'd stand guard and not allow the man to leave until his time in office was up. Wish I could afford to do that. It'd serve him right. Why? Senator Richard Burr has been in office since 2004, and our people continue to have problems buying the most basic of our needs - food.

It turns out that 1 in 10 Americans now receive food stamp help. Oh, we're even in worse shape than that. Our Ag Department estimates that only 34% of those over the age of 60 who are eligible, actually come forward to get help.

How in the heck can we be such a great country, yet so many of us can't even afford to buy food? This is a failure of our political leadership. And for the last 8 years, Republicans have been in control of our government. They failed us. Now it's time to turn on them. We need to kick the sorry people out of office who have failed us so miserably.

Good bye North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr. You're a failure. We've had enough. Time for you to leave. This is one North Carolina Republican who can't wait to kick your sorry tail to the curb.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Senator Burr: How a root canal explains his failure


Recently I had an interesting experience that explains why Senator Richard Burr is an abysmal failure when it comes to putting in place the policies to control medical costs. I needed a root canal on a tooth. Everyone hates getting a root canal. Unfortunately it was a little more difficult for me to get one done. My general dentist doesn't like to do root canal work. He wanted me to go to an endodontist. And the process of finding someone to do root canal work educated me on why our nation can't control medical costs.

We're fortunate. Thanks to my wife's employer, we have dental insurance coverage. And the company who provides our coverage has an extensive website. So the first thought I had was to surf to our insurance carrier's website, get the names of their recommended dentists, call a few of these dentists, set up an appointment, get the work done. Easy. Well, it didn't work out that way.

My insurance carrier's website didn't have any information that would help me find a reasonable dentist to do root canal work. So I picked up the phone and called their toll free help number. A very nice lady answered and we talked. I told her that I needed root canal work done, knew that our carrier had a database of all the dentists in my area who provide that work, and what they charge. I just needed her to look into her database and give me the names of the dentists around me and what I could expect to pay. She couldn't do that. She said that federal rules and laws prohibited them from doing that. Huh?

I'm not sure what laws she's talking about, she didn't know the specifics either, but I did my very best to get at the information that my insurance carrier has. That information is critical to giving me choice and ensuring competition. I tried talking to numerous people. No luck. They have the info. They would like to provide it to me. It was in their best interest for me to get the best deal possible. But they could not tell me anything that would help me find a local dentist who charges a reasonable rate. Huh?

What were they allowed to do? If I found a dentist and got a quote for the work, I could call them back, give them the dentist's name, the tooth that was getting the root canal, and the charge, and they would tell me whether that dentist's charge was above the normal charge for that kind of work. I wanted to avoid this extra legwork, so I told them the tooth and asked what the normal charge was. They couldn't provide me with that information either, federal rules prohibited it until I got a quote. And when I got a quote, they couldn't tell me what the normal charge was, only whether my quote was above the normal charge. Huh?

So, I went about finding dentists and making phone calls. A google search gave me names of dentists who did root canal work in my area. I called 5 or 6 and collected pricing information. To my surprise, every quote I got for this work was within $10 of each other. It was either $1040 or $1050 to get a root canal on my tooth. How could 5 quotes be so closely grouped together in a free market economy without there being collusion in pricing? Well, we aren't a free market economy when it comes to health care. This market is rigged. There is price collusion, price fixing. And this problem should make every single American angry.

Dentists don't advertise pricing. Their professional associations and licensing boards prohibit advertising. And even though the rates they charge for their work are documented extensively and sit in the databases of insurance carriers, we can't get at this helpful information. Federal rules or laws prohibit the information from being published or made available to the carriers customers, or the general public. These stupid rules are the most ridiculous rules in the world. They account for why it is that we don't have price competition bringing down what we pay for medical care. These rules stand in the way of solving a HUGE national problem.

Now, our state's Republican Senator talks about laissez-faire, free markets, keeping the government out of the way of people and business. But when has Senator Richard Burr introduced two simple laws to help this situation?

1. All pricing information, for every health care provider, on all health care procedures, resident within an insurance carriers database, should be made readily available in a user friendly manner to the general public.

2. No laws or rules should exist that either prohibit or discourage any advertising for professional rates and charges accessed for services.

Our Republican Senator has not lifted a finger to do any of this. He just flaps his jaws and accomplishes nothing. Is it any wonder that we don't have a free market operating in the health care industry? Our politicians just want to sit around and talk about free markets, instead of putting in place the policies that would force them to happen.

I'm one North Carolina Republican fed up with my state's Senator sitting on his tail and getting nothing done about outrageous health care costs. Help me. Help us. Throw Republican Senator Richard Burr out of office. North Carolina deserves better.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Senator Burr: Absent


Well, yet another week has gone by. I've spent so much darn time sitting in front of computer screens, surfing and trading our financial markets and monitoring the news, that my fingers hurt from all the clicking. And the channels, I've watched them all - CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC. And still, not a single sighting of my state's Republican Senator.

With all the important stuff going on in Washington DC these days, you'd think the man would show his face somewhere. Maybe I'd catch a glance of him running down the halls to an important meeting? Fat chance. Senator Richard Burr is nowhere to be found. He's simply not important, not important to anything or anyone in Washington DC. If the man's even there, he's probably carrying around a waste basket to help clean up the mess left by the other Senators. That's all I can figure.

Our economy is in shambles. Our people are out of work. Our health care system is broken. Our retirement and college savings have been stolen. Corporate executives reward themselves for failure. And North Carolina's Republican Senator is nowhere to be seen. Enough.

I'm one North Carolina Republican who can't wait to vote do-nothing Senator Richard Burr out of office. We need someone in Washington DC who's a player, someone respected who can get in there and mix it up and get things done, then come to the camera and let us know what they're doing and how their efforts are going to help solve our nation's challenges. That isn't Senator Richard Burr. So let's throw this man out of office.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Senator Burr: An economic failure


We get up every morning and get our children ready for school. It's an American tradition. Our children go to school to learn and perform. They bring back homework to do in the evenings. They read and do math work. How do we judge the progress they make? Report cards. We review report cards. They tell us how much progress our children make in their efforts. Why don't we have report cards for our Congressional leaders? We do, but most people simply aren't aware of them.

Just about everything in our society boils down to economics. If our economy is performing well, then everything else takes care of itself. People have jobs and earn money. They buy the products and services they need in life and that employs other people. They pay taxes, buy houses and cars, go on vacations, and send their children to college. Our children go to school to learn, so they can find jobs and earn money. The cycle starts again. It's all economics.

The primary goal of our leaders in Congress is to get the economics right. They need to find the right balance in our system so that the maximum number of people stay employed. And they need to use our money wisely to provide the most efficient and effective services. The end goal though is for all Americans to increase their standard of living. And there's a report card for how well we're doing on the economics front. It's a measure of our nation's net worth. And tracking the progress of this economic report card tells us just how well our leaders are performing in Washington DC.

So, how's Senator Richard Burr done on his report card ? Let's just say that if he was my son, I'd be in search of a good military school to drill some sense into the child. The Senator's a failure, and in dire need of radical intervention.

Senator Burr's report card is here. It's a lengthy, technical document. It's a report from the Federal Reserve Board. It's 123 pages. Don't let that throw you off. There's only one line that counts. It's on schedule B.100 - The balance sheet of households and nonprofit organizations. It's a measure of the net worth of Americans, page 102, line 42. If that number grows over time, then our political leaders are doing their jobs. If not, then we need new leaders.

How have we done since Senator Burr started working for us? Not well. Our nation's household net worth was $51.8 Trillion when Senator Burr went to work for us. Six years later, we're lower. Just slightly. But we're lower. The man has been working for us for six years and made zero progress in his most important task. That's a failing grade.

Now, I'd like to give the man a chance. But he's not my son. We pay taxes to pay his salary. He's failed us. No military school for Senator Burr. We simply need to kick this sorry man out of office and find someone who will grow line 42 of page 102 of the Federal Reserve Board's Flow of Funds Report. And if that new man or woman can't make that happen, then we need to find yet another one. It's all a matter of economics. Make the economics work, and everything else falls into place.

I'm one North Carolina Republican who has no patience for US Republican Senators who can't manage the put in place policies that grow line 42 of page 102 of the Flow of Funds Report. That means we need to kick our Senator Richard Burr right out on the street and find someone else. The sooner, the better.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Senator Burr: A member of the party of NO


Do you work with someone who always disagrees with you? You know the type. They really don't have any knowledge about anything. They simply exist to disagree. You say red, they say blue. The next day you say blue, they say red. They don't have any intelligence or explanation to back up their rational. They simply like to disagree. Frustrating, yes? Your life would be better without these people. They do nothing but impede progress. That's our Republican Party. That's Senator Richard Burr. We are the party of "NO".

Being the party of no is one of the easiest jobs there is to have. You simply sit and do nothing. When anything is proposed, you just take the opposite point of view. There's no need to do any research or suggest alternatives. There's no need to put forth a plan of your own or express opinions backed with theories or facts. You don't have to engage in any discussion or debate or negotiation. You just sit around and act like a roadblock.

I'm pretty fed up with my Republican party of NO. I'm fed up with Senator Richard Burr. I voted to send the man to Washington DC to compromise. Reaching compromise is hard work. You have to roll up your sleeves and find common ground. Sometimes you get your way. Sometimes you have to give in. If my Senator was doing the hard work of compromise, I'd see him voting sometimes with Democrats and sometimes with Republicans. But what I see in Senator Richard Burr is Mr. No. He sits back and does nothing but stake a position out that's exactly opposite of the current party in power. He's accomplishing nothing for me. He's accomplishing nothing for North Carolina.

I've had enough of Senator No. Senator Richard Burr is a man in need of hearing NO from North Carolina voters. Let's throw this man out of office and find ourselves a Senator who will get in there to work the system and find common ground. Let's find a Senator who can vote with both Democrats and Republicans in a manner that moves our state and our country forward.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Senator Burr: Bill Johnson explains Burr's failure


Bill Johnson, the CEO of Raleigh based Progress Energy explains why Senator Richard Burr is such an abysmal failure of a Senator. Progress Energy is a utility company. It's unbelievably heavily regulated. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to run a utility company. It's not so complex that you can't find at least 100,000 well qualified individuals in this country who are certainly capable of running an organization like this. There are no international operations, no cut throat competition, rates are not determined by market forces. This is simply not a difficult company to operate. How much does Bill Johnson get paid to run this company? He's getting $6.3 Million a year for this simple job. It wasn't too long ago that the CEO of the old CP&L was making big, big money, like $500 K a year. Now, it's simply out of control. Way past out of control.

Where's the outrage? It's there. It will boil over one day. People are really upset about run away corporate executive salaries. Stop anyone on the streets of Raleigh and ask them if it makes common sense to pay our utility company CEO $6.3 Million annually, and prepare yourself. Prepare yourself to get chewed out.

But what can we do? Nothing. Shareholders can't even do anything about it. They are given a slate of predetermined directors to vote on. These directors are friends and associates of Bill. These people are motivated to reward Bill so they can reward themselves. Shareholders can't even vote on Bill's pay. There's nothing that anyone can do. Even the poor utility customers who pay this pathetic CEOs bloated salary can't do a darn thing. It's legalized theft.

It's even worse than you think. How much did shareholders make as a result of Bill's leadership last year? Ask one. Prepare yourself. Prepare yourself to get chewed out. PGN shareholders lost over $2 Billion last year. And for this pathetic performance, Bill Johnson gets awarded $6.3 Million in compensation.

To be paid $6.3 Million for a $2 Billion failure is just wrong. It's got to stop. Enough is enough. And when there's nothing that we can do about it, our political leaders have to step in and right a wrong. Has Senator Richard Burr taken a lead to do anything at all about this excessive corporate compensation, right here in our state? Nope. Not a darn thing.

Well then, let's do something about it. We need to start by replacing Senators who sit around doing nothing about public utility company CEOs making $6.3 Million while losing their shareholders over $2 Billion. Let's kick our sorry Republican Senator Richard Burr right out the door.

I'm one North Carolina Republican who's past being fed up with do nothing politicians. They won't give us the tools and ability to put a stop to egregious theft by corporate executives, so we need to send the politicians packing. Senator Richard Burr has failed us miserably on this front. ENOUGH.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Senator Burr: Warped priorities

Securities trading is my life. So all day long I subject myself to reading and research about our economy. It's dire out there. People are losing their jobs, many people. Investors are scared and running away from all investments with any hint of risk. Americans' 401 Ks, IRAs, Roths, Coverdales, and 529 accounts are getting obliterated. Our houses are plunging in value. It's really a dire situation. We need all hands on deck from our nation's leadership to get this problem solved. So, what is our state's Republican Senator spending his time doing during this crises? The answer is going to make you sick. It's here.

While our lives are getting more miserable by the day, Senator Richard Burr is spending his time in Washington DC picking on a female Veteran of the Iraq War who sacrificed her legs for our nation. And while picking on this woman needlessly, he's going to take a few weeks of vacation for Easter. My gosh, is this man's priorities warped, or what?

Female, veteran, wounded, experienced in the VA system. That's ALL a RATIONAL person needs to know to make a decision to confirm her for a VA post. What Senator Richard Burr is doing to this poor woman and to this confirmation process is an absolute disgrace to North Carolina. I am angry at this pathetic man for the policies he supported bringing us a financial crises. But now that I've learned how senseless he is in spending his time, I'm livid.

Senator Richard Burr is a disgrace to North Carolina. North Carolina deserves a Senator who knows where our priorities need to be focused. And it's not on picking on wounded veterans in the midst of our nation's financial crises. I'm asking fellow North Carolina Republicans to please join me. Let's kick this pathetic man out of office in the next election. North Carolina deserves better.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Senator Burr: Naive about Wall Street


Michael Osinski was a computer programmer on Wall Street. He wrote the software Investment Banks used in managing their trades of mortgage backed securities. Michael recently wrote a riveting story in New York Magazine. It's a must read.

Two things struck me in thinking about this article. The first was just how interesting it was to follow Michael's career progress as he continued to develop and migrate this software to handle ever increasing levels of complexity for the development and trading in these securities. The more interesting aspect of the article though had to do with his descriptions of the multi-million dollar traders who controlled this market. Here's an exert:

"The world around me, though, had become bizarre. At the time, I had an odd sensation that mortgage traders felt they had to outdo the loutish behavior in Liar’s Poker. The more money they made, the more juvenile they became. What do you expect from 30-year-old megamillionaires whose overwhelming aspiration was something vaguely called Hugeness? They had wrestling matches on the floor. Food-eating contests. Like little kids, they scrambled to hide the evidence when the head of fixed income paid his rare visits to the floor.

Now that I was spending more time on the floor, I wondered why the men’s room always stank. Then one afternoon at three, when I was in there taking a leak, I discovered the hideous truth. Traders had a contest. Coming in at eight, they never left their desks all day, eating and drinking while working. Then, at three o’clock, they marched into the men’s room and stood at the wall opposite the urinals. Dropping their pants, they bet $100 on who could train his stream the longest on the urinals across the lavatory. As their hydraulic pressure waned, the three traders waddled, pants at their ankles, across the floor, desperately trying to keep their pee on target. This is what $2 million of bonus can do to grown men."

This is the dominate culture of Wall Street. These are the people who Alan Greenspan expected to be able to execute a program of self-regulation of our financial markets. These are the people who our representatives and regulators in Washington DC believe always act in a legal, above-board manner.

Who in the hell are we kidding? These people lie, cheat and steal daily in an effort to take your money and make it theirs. These people exist all over Wall Street. Accept the fact that Wall Street is a dominated by juvenile crooks. Once you accept that reality, it then becomes an easy step into the realm of realizing the need for very tight regulation of our securities markets, and all of its participants.

But what does Senator Richard Burr think about Wall Street regulation? Easy. He's a laissez-faire preaching Senator. He thinks free markets take care of themselves. He thinks government shouldn't get in the way of a bunch of multi-million dollar compensated traders who hold 3 pm urination contests in the men's room. Senator Richard Burr is a naive child when it comes to understanding the character and culture of Wall Street.

I'm one North Carolina Republican who's had enough of the crap that happens on Wall Street. I want a hard nosed Senator who will step in and crack some heads, bring some nail eating, butt kicking regulators into the picture and start dressing Wall Street crooks in orange jumpsuits. That's not Senator Richard Burr. So, let's throw Senator Richard Burr out of office. North Carolina deserves better.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Senator Burr: Silent on $100 million theft


Wachovia was a home state bank. That bank grew up in our state. It expanded, reached beyond our state's boundaries, and grew into a national powerhouse. It brought prestige and clout to North Carolina. And in being a home state bank, it's stock was held far and wide by many in North Carolina. Wonder how many Billions of dollars of wealth in our state got wiped out by Wachovia's failure? This article says $100 Billion went up in smoke in total. A big chunk of that was likely wealth destroyed in our state.

But among all the wealth destruction, six very lucky Wachovia executives walked away with $100 Million of your wealth. They hit the golden parachute jackpot while shareholders in North Carolina suffered Billions in losses. How could that be? Who is there to put a stop to this theft that happens time and again in corporate America?

I didn't own any Wachovia stock. I was fortunate and saw the writing on the wall. But I've heard so many stories about elderly parents of friends who had Wachovia stock. These people came to rely on the steady stream of dividends from this safe and conservative company. And when they lost their wealth, it blew a big hole in many of their retirement plans.

It pained me greatly to hear these stories. So I was furious that these six Wachovia executives could enrich themselves at the expense of the elderly North Carolina shareholders who lost massive amounts of their retirement money.

Who do you turn to in situations like this? Well, I wrote my state's US Senator, Senator Richard Burr. His response?

NOTHING.

I heard nothing. He did nothing. Senator Richard Burr sat on his sorry tail and allowed 6 Wachovia executives to pocket $100 Million for failure. I haven't looked, but it's not going to surprise me in the least if they're all Republicans. And even if they aren't, why Senator Burr would allow this to happen speaks volumes about what a pitiful failure this man has been as our elected representative in Washington DC.

We need fairness in our system. In situations like this, Washington is the only place we can turn in order to right a wrong. This was wrong. But Washington did nothing. Senator Burr did nothing.

I'm not going to do nothing. I'm one North Carolina Republican who's determined to punish this sorry Republican Senator and send him packing in the next election. Join me. Let's do something about our sorry Senator. Let's throw him out the door.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Senator Burr: Technologically inept


I outflanked him. The man is sitting in Washington D.C. He's a sitting Senator. He's got a multi-million dollar staff running around at his beck and call. He probably already has his really rich Republican friends contributing to his war chest. I won't be on his contributors list. But Senator Richard Burr is a big shot with deep pockets and massive resources. Still, I outflanked him early in our war.

Me? I'm just one man with a couple laptops and one heck of a multi-screen computer system set up in a home office in Raleigh, North Carolina. My computers are more than 3 years old and probably cost 1/1000th of Senator Burr's weekly operations budget. I trade securities for a living. I live, eat, breathe, sleep the financial markets. I read SEC documents all day long. And I listen to public company conference calls. When my 10 year old daughter gets home from school, I play softball, basketball and we work in flower gardens. Somewhere in there I find a little time, each and every day now, to pound out a post about Senator Richard Burr and what a pathetic job he's done as my state's Senator. One little pissed off Republican against a powerful, sitting Republican Senator.

But today he lost, I won.

This evening a Google alert hit my inbox. Google alerts is one of my most effective investing tools. I recently entered a few key words to keep up daily with my favorite, do-nothing Senator. So I get an alert this evening with all of the day's key events for Senator Burr:

High on the list of events: J Willis ... Republican Against Burr: Senator Burr: Where IS this man?

Lower on the list: Burr Launches Campaign Website.

I spent significantly less time and resources, yet outflanked our Senator. The man can't even roll out a website effectively. How in the world can we then expect this pathetic Senator to effectively represent us in Washington DC ?

Send this man packing. I'm one Republican who understands where the blame lies for this economic mess we're in. Our Republican party is at fault. And we need to punish every Republican who failed us since 2000. That includes our Republican Senator Richard Burr. Kick the man out of office.