published Monday, February 18th, 2013

Smith: State of the Union shaky, not stronger as Obama suggests

By Robin Smith
  • photo
    Robin Smith, former Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party and congressional candidate.
    File Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press

The "state of our union is stronger" was President Barack Obama's assessment in his annual address last week.

That word "stronger" is much less definitive than terms used by presidents past such as Clinton, Bush, Carter and Reagan who declared our nation "strong," "sound," and in Harry Truman's words, "good."

The realities, rather than the rhetoric, prove a fellow Tennessean's view of our country's standing. President Andrew Johnson declared: "Candor compels me to declare that at this time there is no union as our fathers understood the term, and as they meant it to be understood by us."

The soaring promises delivered last week by the president were all rooted in expanding government through more spending and programs, not economic growth.

We still have a high level of unemployment and Americans need to be at their best, creating and pursuing personal opportunity. The prospects for the former are high, and the path to the latter were not found in the State of the Union address.

Here's the canvass on which the current scenario is being painted:

In January, real unemployment as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was reported at 14.4 percent. This figure includes those actively looking for employment and those who have settled for part-time work. The reported unemployment rate of 7.9 percent removes the "under-employed" but still includes the staggering rate of 23.9 percent for 16- to 19-year-olds looking for work, 13.8 percent for the black citizens actively seeking a job, and the 9.7 percent of Hispanics who are out of work but seeking jobs.

While citizens seek jobs, the formula offered guarantees fewer of them.

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or Obama-care, proceeds. Businesses are confronted with a decision. If a company's workforce is expanded, health care is a mandatory offering enforced by the IRS with a non-tax-deductible fine. If a company has fewer than 50 employees or has employees that work fewer than 30 hours weekly, this mandate does not apply.

Common sense prevails. Employers will not increase full-time employees in number or hours due to the excessive entanglement of regulation and government requirements.

President Obama called for the minimum wage to rise from the current $7.25 per hour to $9 per hour in his address. This adjustment is justified by "inflation," loss of purchasing power within our current economy.

A few more brushstrokes on our canvass show that those who are likely employed at the minimum wage are students, those entering the job market for the first-time at entry level, and transient or uneducated workers. Remember those unemployment figures just above. Which of those groups do you believe will be negatively impacted by an over-night requirement for a business to pay workers $1.75 more?

And the obvious question has to be asked, what's causing the inflation? Yep, it's the incessant government spending, requiring constant borrowing and printing of money by the Federal Reserve that reduces the value of the dollar. Wow. Economics really is a science with replicating results.

President Andrew Johnson's remarks were aimed at the dysfunction of a nation following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the scars of the Civil War. The union as our fathers, or founders, understood it and wanted us to understand it, is to be one of freedom, self-responsibility, the whirl of commerce and possibilities of prosperity.

What we're seeing is a government-controlled economy, with a group of those in the governing class who dole out goodies in a system of mediocrity for all.

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies public relations firm.

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nucanuck said...

Ms Smith is partially correct when she states that what we have is a "government controlled economy". She fails to mention the multi-national banks and corporations that emerged when government deregulation and failure to enforce anti-trust laws allowed a corporatacracy to gain control of the US economy.

Yes, President Obama has failed to reign in the problem, but in his defense, the bought Congress and their owners have more political power than the President. That powerful cabal (of Ds, Rs, and CEOs) would suffer financially if major spending cuts were implimented.

Just watch and see. The Republicans don't really want major budget cut-backs, they want political points against the Democrats. The parties seem to want power more than solutions to big issues.

The economy will fail in the near future and the finger pointing will be quite a show, but the causes will be shared equally by both parties and those causes date back as far as 1971 when we switched to a fiat money system. That opened the door for today's reckless spending.

There is no political virtue to be found and Obama's course varies little from what Republicans would do under the same circumstances. Unfortunately, the results will mean the end of dollar and American hegemony and a cold shower for the American people. That is when we will find out what we are made of.

February 18, 2013 at 12:48 a.m.
TirnaNOG said...

Even Carl Rove has come out suggesting the Republican Party's problems are a direct result of their ties to the TEA Party.

February 18, 2013 at 9:18 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

It amazes me how dense someone has to be not to see that our government is controlled, lock-stock-and-barrel, by big business and the super rich, in whose pockets most politicians are comfortably ensconced. The very ones crying about less government control have no problem at all with corporate control, and that corporate control is much more stifling and enslaving than anything our government has ever attempted to do.

Robin Smith and most of today's conservatives like to talk about self reliance and making the most of opportunity to propel oneself up the ladder, but they want government to just get out of the way entirely and let the corporations continue with their stranglehold on the economy and do whatever is in its own narrow interests, without regard for the economy or the nation as a whole. It is not and never has been the forte of the free market to see the big picture and reign itself in when needed or simply do the right thing for all concerned. The free market, in a global economy, has one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to make a profit, no matter what. Profit is not a dirty word but it cannot be the be-all and end-all, especially in a society where that profit enriches only a few at the expense of the many.

We who do not demonize government and consider it to be a force for the good (at least as long as it is still one that is freely elected by the people it is supposed to represent) are not demanding a government that supplies everyone's needs and takes care of them from the cradle to the grave, but simply helps to make sure that everyone has at least an opportunity in the first place. You wing-nuts are always talking about the importance of self reliance and people pulling themselves up by their boot straps (we libs agree with you on that point!) but you want to take away any and all chance for them to even have a boot strap to pull themselves up by in the first place.

Regarding this comment in particular from Robin Smith: "...those who are likely employed at the minimum wage are students, those entering the job market for the first-time at entry level, and transient or uneducated workers." While that may be true, the vast majority of employees at Walmart, the other big-box stores, fast food chains, and other service related industries are stuck making $8/hr. or less, even though they have been there for years. Last time I checked, a person cannot even pay rent on a modest single-bedroom apartment, making $8/hr. And yet, that is somehow acceptable to you? It is not everyone's ability or desire to pursue a white collar job. Some people are content to perform the more mundane and unskilled types of labor. At any rate, they are providing a much needed service and as long as we need someone to perform those jobs, they should not be punished or restricted by paying them a wage that won't even allow them to make a modest, decent living.

February 18, 2013 at 1:07 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Correction: In my last paragraph, where I said, "a person cannot even pay rent on a modest single-bedroom apartment, making $8/hr.," I meant to add...and buy groceries and pay for the basic living expenses such as utilities, insurance, car/transportation expenses, etc. At any rate, $8/hr. is not nearly sufficient to live on in today's world. I think that goes without saying.

February 18, 2013 at 1:50 p.m.
timbo said...

Hey, Robin...Rickaroo and nucanuck don't agree with you. I bet that makes you sleep better at night. If they agreed with you it would be a sign that you should seek counseling.

Yes, large corporations have too much influence but Obama is just as bad as Bush as far as that goes. He may be worse. These Obama policies don't hurt big business, they hurt the truly self-reliant backbone of this country. That is small business.

I am a dyed in the wool conservative businessman. I start out my employees at $13.50 per hour with health insurance.(More than the almighty tax sucking VW) My average pay is $19 per hour. I pay well because of too things. One, is that I do not want turn over because training a new employee takes me about 18 months. Two, it is immoral not to pay a living wage. It is also immoral to dictate to me what I have to pay, that I have to provide health insurance and enforce the government's "morality."

Go ahead and make fun of the "self reliant" but they are the ones that built this country. Not everyone can build something and those that can are very valuable to society and deserve reward. I wonder what would happen if I got all my employees in the parking lot and said, "now, create wealth." In other words, they need me more than I need them. I don't want to, but I can hire more people but there is only one me. It just so happens I have a talent that can be marketed and provide for my employees, pay taxes, and increase economic activity. That doesn't make me "better" it is just the way it is.

Those "self-reliant" individuals are valuable and a wise person would know that. Anyone can learn to play the piano but there was only one Mozart.

So, you bitter liberals who are jealous of people who have some talent and will take a chance to start a business should get some courage and go out there and do it yourself if it is so easy.

If liberals ran the world, it wouldn't last long.

February 18, 2013 at 3:26 p.m.
Easy123 said...

timboner,

"It is also immoral to dictate to me what I have to pay, that I have to provide health insurance and enforce the government's "morality.""

So morality is relative then, correct? Only your "morality" of paying a living wage is true morality. Many employers do not pay minimum wage, must less a living wage. Hundreds of thousands of people in Tennessee alone don't even make minimum wage. If paying a living wage is "moral", wouldn't providing health insurance be even more "moral"? I guess your morals stop where your money starts.

"In other words, they need me more than I need them."

You're delusional. With no employees, you make no money or, at least, a lot less money. This is the problem with "job creators", they overestimate their own worth. Your employees are the backbone of any business. You only go as far as they will take you.

"So, you bitter liberals who are jealous of people who have some talent and will take a chance to start a business should get some courage and go out there and do it yourself if it is so easy."

Strawman. No liberal is jealous or bitter of anyone with "talent" or that will "take a chance to start a business". That is just part of the WingNut propaganda. It's very easy to start a business. However, being successful usually has a lot to do with luck.

"Those "self-reliant" individuals are valuable and a wise person would know that. Anyone can learn to play the piano but there was only one Mozart."

You ain't Mozart. And your hyperbole isn't congruent with the worker-boss situation. Self-relient people are everywhere, not just "job creators". That is part of your delusion as well. You believe everyone that isn't like you is a "taker" or not "self-relient". Which, as any wise person knows, isn't true whatsoever.

"If liberals ran the world, it wouldn't last long."

They do for the most part. The world will last for a few billion years longer.

February 18, 2013 at 3:52 p.m.
timbo said...

slEasy321.. your disdain is evident. Thanks for proving my point.

Personal morality is relevant. Collective "morality" is dangerous. It changes with the political winds. My morality does talk because I put money to back it up. That is my money, not other peoples money like the government. People like you and the rest of you liberal imbeciles make me wonder why some times.

You said, "You're delusional. With no employees, you make no money or, at least, a lot less money. This is the problem with "job creators", they overestimate their own worth. Your employees are the backbone of any business. You only go as far as they will take you."

I never said, no employees. I said I could hire more. Since there are about 5 billion people on the earth I could go about 250 million years before I would run out of people to chose from. There is still one me. The job creators ARE the backbone, not employees which are plentiful. To belittle that fact show how dumb you really are.

There is always "luck" involved with anything. Isn't it strange how much more "luck" people who are creative, take risks, and work hard have over those who don't?

As far as JEALOUSY, I think the tone of your comments prove that point. You are the epitome of a jealous, bitter, liberal.

February 18, 2013 at 4:09 p.m.
Easy123 said...

timboner,

"your disdain is evident. Thanks for proving my point."

There is no disdain. I haven't proven any point you have made.

"Personal morality is relevant. Collective "morality" is dangerous."

Then you aren't moral.

"My morality does talk because I put money to back it up. That is my money, not other peoples money like the government."

Then you aren't moral. Sorry to burst your bubble. Some of your money is the governments and some of that money goes to pay your employees.

"I never said, no employees. I said I could hire more."

No, you said: "In other words, they need me more than I need them.". That would go for the "more" employees you hire as well, correct?

"Since there are about 5 billion people on the earth I could go about 250 million years before I would run out of people to chose from. "

Again, you're delusional.

"There is still one me."

Wrong. There are millions of people just like you that people would much rather work for because they are appreciated.

"The job creators ARE the backbone, not employees which are plentiful."

Wrong again. Without employees, you don't have a business, You can't make a profit. You don't succeed without your employees.

"To belittle that fact show how dumb you really are."

To believe that your employees are not the backbone of any business is something only a delusional narcissist would believe. You are truly ignorant to how your own business works.

"Isn't it strange how much more "luck" people who are creative, take risks, and work hard have over those who don't?"

That isn't true at all. Much more luck comes to people that were born in rich vagina's or knew the right people. Billions of hard workers, risk takers, creative people FAILED. The only thing strange is your belief that "luck" has eyes.

"As far as JEALOUSY, I think the tone of your comments prove that point. You are the epitome of a jealous, bitter, liberal."

Again, you're delusional. The tone of my comments is that of someone stating facts. I haven't proven your point no matter how many times you say it or how much your deluded mind believes it. I'm not jealous of you nor am I bitter. I could never bring myself to be jealous of someone as ignorant and deluded as yourself. You have absolutely nothing that I would ever want.

You cannot go one second without spewing your delusional, WingNut talking points. No one is jealous of you no matter how much you want them to be.

February 18, 2013 at 4:24 p.m.
nucanuck said...

timbo, if you assumed that I didn't start and run my own business, wasn't a risk taker, and didn't create lots of jobs...you would be incorrect.

February 18, 2013 at 5:01 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Timbo, you are so busy hating and throwing darts at your caricatured liberal that you can't even respond in any way that makes sense. When you say, "Go ahead and make fun of the 'self reliant' but they are the ones that built this country," who are you responding to exactly? Seriously. I certainly haven't made fun of the self-reliant, ever, and I haven't seen Easy or nucanuck make fun of the self-reliant or of any business owners for that matter. I've said this before but it always seems to fall on deaf ears: we liberals do not hate business owners, wealth, or even the free market in general, and we appreciate and value hard work and self reliance as much as anybody. Yet you seem to have it in your head that all liberals just want to live on the dole and let the government take care of everybody in some kind of idealized socialist commune. But nothing could be further from the truth. It's gotten to the point that conservatives and liberals can't even argue logically because you keep holding on to this distorted image of what you THINK a liberal is.

You have every right to be proud of building and running your own business and it's commendable that you pay your employees such a good wage. But you, sir, are an ego-maniac the likes of which I haven't seen in a long time, and I'm willing to bet that unless a person thinks exactly like you do, you don't even hire them - not that any liberal would want to work for the likes of you anyway. I wouldn't be at all surprised if you demand that your employees be Republican or libertarian and you probably insist that they read "Atlas Shrugged" as part of their job requirements. You act as if running your own business is the ultimate form of success and self-worth and that anyone who does not do so is a low-life "taker" and has very little worth or merit. But there are many careers that require a high degree of skill, education, and discipline without running a business, and they are every bit as important, if not more so, than what you do. Furthermore, we are all wired differently and many people have no interest whatsoever in running a business. That doesn't make them lazy or worthless, it simply means they are cut out for different things in life. You are not king of the mountain just because you run a business, and you seem to have very little appreciation for anybody who is not a clone of your big bad awesomely magnificent self.

But in reality you are just a cog in the machinery of our society and even though you'll never be able to grasp this, even the janitor who sweeps the floor or the girl who serves you a Big Mac and fries has their own purpose and significance in the grand scheme of things. That is your trouble, though - you are incapable of seeing the big picture. You are so caught up in your bubble of self importance that you can't see the real world on the other side. You are such an arrogant ass, it's easy to hate someone like you. But I halfway pity you, I really do.

February 19, 2013 at 12:24 p.m.
ORRMEANSLIGHT said...

Obama Alert 2012 may be a good beginning place for the uninitiated/novice.

https://www.nra.org/obamaalertsignup/default.aspx

Become involved and protect our Children, GrandChildren, future generations. Reclaim the United States of America envisioned by framers of The Mayflower Compact. Cut through the smoke and mirrors propaganda of so many Lib-Dems!

Ken ORR

February 19, 2013 at 4:49 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Ken Orr Alert

February 19, 2013 at 7:41 p.m.
timbo said...

Rickaroo..The only person with more hate for conservatives on this page than you is slEasy321. That is the pot calling the kettle black.

Let me clear this up...I do hate the liberal philosophy and people who think that Obama can do no wrong. Why? You are bringing down our country.

February 20, 2013 at 9:56 a.m.
Easy123 said...

Timboner,

You're a delusional moron.

February 20, 2013 at 11:07 a.m.
timbo said...

Rickaroo.... I don't think that businessmen are the only people who aren't takers. Never said that. I do think that we are an important part of this country and am sick and tired of being trivialized by liberals like you. Most employers take care of their employees. If your cynical, it could be for the selfish reason to retain good employees.

To hear a constant litany from your buddies saying, "you didn't build this" makes us just a little defensive. I tell my situation as an example, if I was egotistical I would use my name. When I said "me" I meant all business owners. It was a figure of speech.

To deny that there are takers in this society and a huge percentage of them are democrats is absurd.

You liberals need to stop biting the hand that feeds you.

February 20, 2013 at 3:48 p.m.
Easy123 said...

timboner,

"I don't think that businessmen are the only people who aren't takers. Never said that."

Your sure as heck implied it and made allusion to it.

"I do think that we are an important part of this country and am sick and tired of being trivialized by liberals like you."

No one, and I mean no one, is trivializing you.

"Most employers take care of their employees."

Then why won't they provide them insurance?

"To hear a constant litany from your buddies saying, "you didn't build this" makes us just a little defensive."

Only morons still believes the President was referring to the actual business. He wasn't very artful with his words, but if you actually read over the speech, it is very clear what he was talking about. And it has nothing to do with what you're waxing indignant about.

"To deny that there are takers in this society and a huge percentage of them are democrats is absurd."

Define "taker". The vast majority of people you refer to as "takers" are the working poor, elderly, disabled and aren't really "takers" at all. Many vote Democrat because they know the Democrats have their best interests in mind.

"You liberals need to stop biting the hand that feeds you."

Take you own advice, you pretentious a$$hole. You better be careful, your "armed" employees might figure out who you are and go Postal on you for talking like a Fascist dictator. All your employees are probably Republicans anyway. I'm sure you only hire WingNuts. What would you know about "feeding" liberals?

February 20, 2013 at 4:06 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

"I do think that we are an important part of this country and am sick and tired of being trivialized by liberals like you." - timbo

My god, man, what does it take for you to get it through your thick skull that we libs are not trivializing you! Have you got a persecution complex or what?? Like Easy just said, Obama was not trivializing you either in that comment he made ("You didn't build that"). If you take it in context with his entire speech you would see that he wasn't referring to your business per se. I'm sure that Obama has nothing but respect for business owners like yourself. But you seem to prefer latching on to whatever justifies your deep-seated hatred for all things liberal, even if what you latch on to is entirely bogus and nonexistent.

As for this comment from you: "To deny that there are takers in this society and a huge percentage of them are democrats is absurd." I do not deny that. But many of them are also Republicans. It may well be that there are more Republican takers than Democrats. I see a lot of redneck low-lifes - and know a few personally - who get disability (fraudulently), food stamps, Medicaid, and welfare and they hate Obama with a passion and hate government just on principle, but they wouldn't think of giving up their welfare checks or their food stamps. Talk about "biting the hand that feeds you." At least the Democrat takers are not hypocritical about it.

February 20, 2013 at 4:31 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

And another thing...you say that "Most employers take care of their employees. If your cynical, it could be for the selfish reason to retain good employees." I don't know how true it is that "most" employers take good care of their employees, but I don't doubt that many of them do. And, like you say, it's just as much for practical reasons (it makes good business sense) as for ethical ones. I understand that completely. By the same token, conservatives are always making the claim that we "bleeding heart" liberals act on pure emotion and feelings and let altruism get in the way of common sense. But all the liberals I know are not necessarily any more altruistic (more empathetic maybe, but not necessarily more altruistic) than conservatives. I believe in universal health care and the social/economic safety nets, not just because my heart "bleeds" for the have-nots but because it also makes good sense for the economy and the wellbeing of the nation as a whole. It costs more in the long run to pay for the have-nots without a plan in place to help keep them from falling into poverty and neglect in the first place than it costs to deal with the problem once it's too late. It's always going to be a fact that we have to spend money, if we're going to be a productive society. It's a matter of HOW we spend that money. Education, health care, infrastructure, research and development... anything that promotes advancement and improvement physically and mentally will have long-term positive ramifications.

You conservatives can go on calling us "bleeding heart" liberals all you want but you're only feeding into the stereotype, perpetuating the hate and misunderstanding, and doing nothing whatsoever that is constructive.

February 20, 2013 at 5:13 p.m.
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