Thursday, August 27, 2009

Solar activity and climate change

From the 31 August 2009 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

If you participated in the CB radio craze of the 1970s and 1980s you’ll remember that quite often communication become difficult if not impossible. There were numerous times when the skip (signals from afar) would roll in and CB operators from all over the US (and world, for that matter) would drown out your conversation with someone in the next town over. Nowadays, it’s a very rare day when you’ll be able to hear anyone beyond the line of sight.

If you’re a stargazer or someone who just likes to step outside at night for a breath of fresh air or a smoke, you’ll remember seeing plenty of aurora in years past, with some pretty impressive displays of the northern lights in the late-80’s and early-90’s. You may have noticed that those displays have been almost nonexistent in recent years. Those gaudy shows still occur in the polar region, but we here in the mid-latitudes have not been so fortunate.

These two declines in activity – one on the airwaves, the other in the air – are directly related to one another and tell us something about the state of the sun. Solar activity, which can typically be tracked in an 11-year pattern of highs and lows, determines a number of things which include the amount of solar radiation and space weather of all types (flares, ejections, etc.) that reach the Earth. The cycle’s peak and therefore the sun’s overall activity is made evident by sunspots, dark spots of magnetic activity on the sun’s surface.

We are currently amidst a deep low in the solar cycle, accounting for the decrease in skip and aurora, and a total lack of sunspots. According to, the sun is setting modern-day records for inactivity, with the current stretch of days without a sunspot at 47 and 700 days of no spots whatsoever since 2004. This period, known as the solar minimum, is far longer than most. The average length of a minimum is 485 days.

This minimum looks like it will go on for a very long time based on a July study issued by William Livingston and Matt Penn of the National Solar Observatory. They showed that the magnetic field strength of sunspots has been weakening at a fast-paced linear rate (one that they have verified since a similar study 5 years earlier), which may mean that sunspots will be nonexistent by 2015, putting the sun into a historic low similar to the Maunder Minimum of 1645 to 1715 when the sun’s face was basically free of blemishes.

So what does this mean to the average person who’s not a radio enthusiast or amateur astronomer? It could mean a great deal and it just might disprove the global warming alarmists. If this is a repeat of the Maunder event the world will plunge into a prolonged period of cold. The Maunder Minimum happened during the coldest part of the Little Ice Age and many scientists don’t see this as a coincidental occurrence. They believe that the lack of solar activity caused the decline in global temperatures which, based on careful study, showed the Earth cooled by more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit during the minimum. This effect was considerably-more pronounced in North America and Europe where the winters became longer and more frigid, native Americans formed collectives to beat the associated food shortages, glaciers advanced, and Iceland became sealed off by ice in 1695.

To put this cooling into perspective, the Earth has warmed by just under 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1901. Some cite the warming trend as the direct result of Mankind’s assault on the atmosphere with greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, studies show that across the twentieth century’s multiple solar cycles the magnetic energy leaving the sun more than doubled while ultraviolet radiation grew by 15 percent. This is the exact opposite of what happened during the Maunder Minimum: In the 1900s we had an overactive sun which in turn led to warmer Earth.

It was not an overactive population, as some would say, that caused global warming. It’s foolish – even vain – to believe that Man is powerful enough to change the temperature of our planet. But, the sun, on the other hand, the very glue that keeps our solar system together and gives us the light and heat so crucial to life, is more than powerful enough to change temperatures when it’s in one of its moods. And it’s just getting into one of those moods, a very tranquil one at that. That cool demeanor will create a cool Earth and, once that happens, you can bet we’ll all be begging for global warming.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Gun control and the Mexican excuse

From the 24 August 2009 Greater Niagara Newspapers
By Bob Confer

Two weeks ago President Obama met with Mexico’s Felipe Calderon and Canada’s Stephen Harper in Mexico for a get-together of North America’s leaders. Since the inception of this annual meeting during the Bush presidency in 2005 many have rightly believed that the heads of state have used this powwow to sell-out the rights of their peoples in an effort to foster North American unity while forsaking national sovereignty.

This year’s meeting was no different.

Barack Obama, never the fan of our Second Amendment, said for the umpteenth time that the US must assume responsibility for the weapons that have accounted for 4,000 murders so far this year in Mexico. He believes, as does Calderon, that the vicious Mexican drug cartels are outfitted solely with American guns and by controlling guns in the US the federal government can control the violence in Mexico.

So committed is he to this far-fetched pursuit that, following the leaders summit, Obama directed Homeland Security’s Janet Napolitano to sign an agreement indicating the US will work hand-in-hand with Mexican law enforcement to, among other things, track the guns, even going so far as to share information which includes state handgun registries.

This is a disturbing development. Sharing gun ownership information with a foreign entity is unprecedented if not illegal. Data about who owns guns in the United States should be none of Mexico’s business. Quite frankly, it should be none of our government’s business either. The gun owner should be the only one who knows what he owns.

Our leaders have been so willing to deny our privacy because they have succumbed to false statistics. Popular ATF and media reports indicate that 90 percent of all guns used by Mexican cartels come from the United States. This number is only partially correct: in one study 90 percent of all traceable guns (taken from a managed statistical sampling no less) lead to the US. Not all guns - especially long guns - are traceable. The only weapons that are truly traceable are handguns from states with pistol permits.

Most of the guns used by the cartels are not of American origin. This is a fact, not heresy, according to a detailed analysis conducted by ATF agent William Newell. He found that just 17 percent of guns confiscated by the Mexican government are actually from the US. The remaining 83 percent of the cartels’ firearms come from Mexico’s southern neighbors as well as the Mexican government itself – many of them are assault weapons that came with the more than 15,000 one-time Mexican military men who have jumped ship to the higher-paying cartels.

Nevertheless, Obama and the gun-control lobby don’t see it that way and, when their statistics fail, they prefer to use fear-mongering anecdotal stories about Mexico’s violence spilling over into the streets of America. Take the guns off our streets and you’ll take them off Mexico’s streets, which, in turn, will keep them off our streets, they say. They believe that restricting the ability of an individual to buy guns is the best way to curb this violence. When President Obama was Senator Obama he constantly trumpeted this cause (even without Mexico in the equation), calling for strict limitations on who can buy guns and ammunition and how much of both.

He and his followers fail to understand that you can never regulate lawbreakers. Gun control does not work. Mexico is proof positive of this. Among the North American countries it has the strictest gun laws and, of course, it has the highest percentage of gun crimes because the gun-toting predators have the advantage over their straight-laced weaponless prey. Gun control (against the law-abiding) is so rigid in Mexico that there is only one gun store in the entire country of some 109 million people and it is run by the Army. Only a few very lucky souls are licensed to own a gun and they face limitations on how much ammo then can buy and where they can take their firearm. This has done absolutely nothing to curb violence: 14,000 Mexicans have been murdered since Calderon took office in 2006.

Taking all of this into consideration, we cannot allow ourselves to be duped by the Mexican myths that are used by the Left to foster support for gun control. Mexico’s gun problem is Mexico’s gun problem. Not ours. We as the United States have a long history of being a freedom-loving people who believe in the natural right to self-defense. Our nation was created from that right. We cannot allow a neighboring nation to directly or indirectly strip that right from us.

Teen curfews are unconstitutional

From the 17 August 2009 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

It has long been argued by teens at large, their trusting parents and adults of a libertarian bent that curfew laws directed at teenagers are unconstitutional. Despite the logic – and law - behind such a belief, misguided public officials still proceed with the development and enforcement of curfews, most of which go untested in the courts due to a populace either unwilling or unable to pursue the overturning of the law.

New York residents who rightly assume that we have certain freedoms whether we are 16 or 60 can finally rest easy. A father-son team decided to take on Rochester’s 2006 curfew law, seeing it through three levels of the court system. Earlier this Summer, the New York Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the duo, 5-2, striking down the city’s law. The high court cited its obstruction of youths’ rights to freedom of movement, expression, association and equal protection.

Rochester’s curfew, similar to those used by other municipalities, read as follows: "It is unlawful for minors to be in or upon any public place within the City at any time between 11:00 p.m. of one day and 5:00 a.m. of the immediately following day, except that on Friday and Saturday the hours shall be between 12:00 midnight and 5:00 a.m. of the immediately following day." It offered some exceptions to the rule which included the presence of an adult or some sort of employment activity. Any minor found in violation of the law could have been detained and taken into custody by the police, receiving the same treatment as a real criminal.

The thought process behind Rochester’s law was similar to the where-there’s-smoke-there’s-fire mentality applied to restrictive gun control measures, another assault on constitutional rights. Pistol permit laws assume that all guns have the potential to be involved in a crime, while curfews assume the same for all youths. These laws cast a wide net in which everyone is looked at as being intrinsically evil, when, in reality, it’s only a very, very small percentage of guns or teens that commit crimes. As much as it is unfair to paint all gun owners as thugs it’s just as unfair to do the same to teenagers. There are some really great kids out there, many of whom posses moral and just behaviors that put most adults’ values to shame.

The court’s ruling helps to correct a hypocrisy that we share too often with kids: Their parents, teachers, and community push them hard to be and become good citizens, yet we deny them of rights determined to be natural in scale because we don’t trust them to handle the mantle of citizenship. If the teens have been properly raised by their parents and properly educated by their schools we should be able to trust them to pursue free speech and associate with their peers and not worry about them causing trouble. We can’t let them become responsible adults unless they are allowed some semblance of responsibility as minors. It’s a part of the growing up process.

As equally important, teenagers are social creatures, more so than adults, and need the camaraderie of their peers. This doesn’t make them gang material. What is so wrong about a half-dozen teenagers hanging out at 11:00 p.m. in a parking lot sharing some laughs on a typical summer night? What’s so wrong about a group of boys camping-out under the stars in the town park? What is so wrong about some kids going down to the harbor at sunrise to catch a few fish? Are they planning a crime? That’s doubtful. They’re boys being boys, girls being girls. Since when is that a crime?

Similarly, there is another disconnect in the logic behind gun control laws that can also be seen in curfews. Simply put, law-breakers don’t care about laws; that’s why they’re called law-breakers. If someone is depraved enough to want to rob, rape or murder, a permit or a curfew won’t stop them. They’ll ignore those obstacles. That’s why people are still gunned down by “illegal” guns in New York and that’s why high-schoolers’ names still appear in the police reports in curfew-laden communities. Laws work only on the just.

Thankfully, the Court of Appeals did not fall into the trap of assuming all minors are punks. The judges ignored the hysteria and had the mental faculties to realize that we are deserved of freedoms and natural rights no matter our age. It’s time that the curfews in countless cities and towns across the state saw the same fate as Rochester’s. For the first time in a long time, law-abiding minors and their parents now have the tool – the state court’s ruling – to bring about their demise.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Our responsibility to the economy

From the 12 August 2009 New American

By Bob Confer

As the recession continues to advance, many Americans have been hoping and praying that the Obama Administration and Congress can make things — good things — happen in our economy.

They believe that the government will and should devise various types of market intervention tactics and social and corporate welfare to combat the recession and incite an economic rebound.

It is wrong, if not un-American, for our citizens to place such quasi-religious faith in our elected officials and unelected bureaucrats. Those of the political class are not the saviors of our great nation. They were never intended to be and they never will be. They should not have a God-like status in our eyes. Rather, they are intended to be on par with us, for ours is a government by the people and for the people. And, that is exactly what our economy must be, too.

It is we the people who are supposed to be the determinants of what our United States and their economy will become. We were bestowed with the personal liberty to strive for — and achieve — the comforts of life as we saw fit. From that, each and every one of us has the ultimate responsibility for the preservation and betterment of ourselves and our families.

It is that duty — that desire — to better our lives and those of our heirs that truly drives the economy. Piecing together each of those varied and unique American Dreams, we as a collective society have needs and wants that are nearly limitless. But, it should never be the collective as one to address those desires. It is the collective as many who, all working in their own singular ways, make the marketplace what it is, consistently improving the standard of living for not only our own families, but for all families here and even abroad.

By law — fashioned by both Man and Nature — it is not supposed to be the government’s intrusive and controlling hand that decides what those material and emotional possessions are to be and who is worthy of them. It is, instead, the obligation of all men and women to themselves and to society at large to find and earn their own Heaven on Earth and not to have it unworthily given to them based on someone else’s perverse version of what that Heaven may be. This natural right to life’s gifts, one realized only by self-responsibility, was highlighted in the Declaration of Independence. Our forefathers, who forged the greatest nation in history, declared that "men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Thus, if we truly want to end the economic malaise that has befallen us, the onus is on you, me and all those around us. It is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. It is the individual who assumes the entrepreneurial gamble of running a small business. It is the individual who builds things with his hands and improves them with his mind. It is the individual who makes choices in the marketplace, deciding what products and services fail and which of them succeed. It is the individual who makes decisions about her savings and her retirement. It is the individual who manages his home and property and the risk associated with it. It is the individual who earns money and spends it, making all the choices necessary to create for herself the life she wants.

The path to a reinvigorated nation demands the responsibility of self. We must work together and even against one another as independent souls in a free and constructive free market environment, one not burdened or controlled by the government. We cannot allow ourselves to be fooled by the rhetoric of our governing bodies when they press forward with bailouts, stimulus packages and regulations. Government doesn’t have the power or the right to do that. We must understand — and very well at that — that it will only be, and can only be, each of us as consumers and entrepreneurs who will bring us out of the recession. We should not expect the government to "do something." We must buy, sell, invest and hold credit under our own intent.

Accept this charge and press forward because the economy and our destiny are ours to control.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cash for clunkers is a failure

HTML clipboard

From the 04 August 2009 New American

By Bob Confer

In a development policymakers cite as a huge win for intervention in the marketplace, last week the federal government nearly suspended the Car Allowance Rebate System (also known as cash for clunkers), owing to a lack of funds, after consumers burned through the budgeted amount in only four days.

The suspension did not take place as CARS — which was originally funded to the tune of $1 billion — will receive another infusion of $2 billion to keep the program alive.

The political spin machines in Washington and congressional offices everywhere are touting cash for clunkers as the salvation of our economy. Such a statement is an outright lie. It should be grossly apparent that the program’s popularity and subsequent budgeting problems show not the strength of intervention, but rather its most significant flaw: socialist market policy does not have the ability to sustain itself. It cannibalizes itself and feeds off the vibrant — and freer — components of the economy.

The money used to fund CARS was acquired from the private sector through direct taxation or indirect taxation (otherwise known as inflation). Under the former scenario, money that could have been utilized by consumers and businesses in more productive ways was taken from them, tempering the further advancement of market sectors that have been healthy. Through government sleight-of-hand, those once-active dollars are now being used to prop up a slumping automotive industry, a market that consumers have willingly abandoned during, and even before, the recession. Conversely, that money — which could have been used to develop new technologies in pharmaceuticals or consumer electronics — cannot be invested in the future growth of healthy companies because it was “invested” instead by the government in an effort to correct an industry gone bad. Similar public actions that favor the weak over the strong and the irresponsible over the responsible account for the continued demise of USA-based manufacturers of consumer and industrial goods that are competing in a global marketplace: their hard-earned rewards have become the ill-begotten prize of the collective America.

The chances are good, though, that CARS was not funded through tax dollars, and it is evident future CARS funding cannot and will not come from taxes. Like the $60 billion the government has already used to buy and/or bailout General Motors, new cash for clunkers will be made available by borrowing from the Federal Reserve, increasing the supply of fiat dollars and negatively affecting their overall value which, in the end, decreases the purchasing power of both producers and consumers.

Ironically, it is poor governmental decisions like this one that have prevented consumers from buying more cars. Even though the average worker of today may have a higher wage than one 10 years ago, his or her buying power has decreased to the point that a new car has become a luxury, something put off until the last possible moment or never. Rather than exiting this inflationary mess, the government adopted a means by which to exacerbate the problem through repetition of the same socialist tendencies.

Continuing with the irony, not only will CARS hurt the economy as a whole, but it will also weaken the very industry it was supposed to protect.

Cash for clunkers will, first and foremost, create a temporary bubble very similar to that of the housing bubble, the bursting of which helped spawn this recession. Housing purchases spiked and then tumbled because bad public policy forced banks to make available reams of easy money to consumers of suspect credit and income who only a few years into their mortgages discovered they could no longer afford them. The same will likely happen with vehicles: the $4,500 rebate will give many people undue confidence in their buying and borrowing abilities which, coupled with business-starved dealers looking to make an easy sale, will induce them into purchasing vehicles they cannot afford. A year from now — or maybe sooner based on the current job market — they will renege on their responsibility to the lender, putting us all on the hook for their indiscretions, weakening the credit market even more and prolonging the recession. This is a very real future, one virtually guaranteed to occur and one that we wouldn’t have to worry about were the government to stay out of the marketplace and not artificially excite it by unconstitutionally subsidizing the masses.

Also, as important as the sale of new cars are assumed to be by Congress, policymakers fail to see that the used-car market is just as important. Not everyone can afford a new vehicle. The teenager or young adult who is getting his first car will buy a used one. So will the blue-collar father who works that extra job to put food on the table for his wife and children. So will the cost-conscious entrepreneur starting-up her new business. But in the very near future, they won’t be able to make that purchase because CARS demands that the clunkers turned-in are destroyed, eliminating them from resale. That will impact the market in two ways. It will limit the availability of used automobiles (the government’s definition of a clunker is anything but a clunker), and those used vehicles that remain will have higher price tags because of the lower supply. This atypical market activity is a direct result of federal intervention and its outcome — that many middle-class Americans won’t be able to purchase or afford the cars they want — will probably induce yet more intervention to correct the problem further down the road.

These glaring weaknesses and risky prospects of the cash for clunkers program have been ignored by the news outlets at large, which have put the program in a favorable spotlight at its inception and during the current refunding process. Unfortunately, because of such press, a good many Americans — of both left and right persuasion — have welcomed CARS with open arms. Let us hope that cooler heads prevail in the coming weeks and coming years and throw up some roadblocks to the expansion of this and similar assaults on the free-market system.

The right to self-defense should know no borders

From the 27 July 2009 New American


By Bob Confer

On July 23, the U.S. Senate voted to defeat one of the most promising gun rights bills to come to the Senate floor in recent memory. The provision was introduced by Senator John Thune as an amendment to the annual defense authorization bill. It would have granted national reciprocity for concealed-carry permits, requiring all states that allow concealed firearms to honor those permits of other states.

A majority of the senators — 58 in total — voted in favor of the amendment. Another 39 did not and the bill saw defeat as this tally put the measure 2 votes short of the 60 required for passage by Senate rules.

It was those 39 senators and their supporters — which included 450 of the nation’s mayors — who brought about the amendment's demise through intense fear-mongering and misguided applications of constitutionality.

The aforementioned mayors had joined together in an organization called the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, which, prior to the Senate vote, took out a full-page advertisement in the July 21 edition of USA Today. The ad was an open letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid attacking the amendment. Its central claim was this: “Doing so (recognizing concealed-carry permits) would threaten the safety of our police officers, by making it far more difficult for them to separate law-abiding gun owners from common criminals.”

That statement, in one form or another, is a talking point commonly used by gun-control advocates, one that a good number of Americans tend to believe without any further analysis of the situation. They fail to see that it makes note only of a distinct minority of our population (the police) who are, in the gun-control lobby’s eyes, granted special privilege to carry guns over the average citizen. That selectivity begs the following question: why should their safety be any more important than that of every one of us; shouldn’t the average citizen also be empowered (armed) to deal with the threat of the common criminal? Unfortunately, in many states, we are not. Taking away our guns has, ironically, granted a special privilege to lawbreakers as well: the predators have the distinct advantage of being armed while their prey is not.

Thune’s amendment addressed this disconnect. Its supporters knew the best way to protect one’s self and those he loves from criminal threats is through the same means by which he would be able to do so in his home state, the same means that the police officer would be allowed to use. That is, allowing him to carry a weapon that at least equalizes his chances against a thug.

Granting pistol-permit reciprocity could easily be deemed a necessity because, unfortunately, evil can be found everywhere in our country, and we are a very mobile people who, not of our own deliberate doing, have the potential to find ourselves in some unpleasant situations during our travels for business or pleasure. Typically, the vacationer, the truck driver, and the businessman are all unfamiliar with the far-flung cities to which they travel. One wrong turn or innocent stroll into a crime-ridden locale could easily put them into harm’s way. Under such circumstances, Thune’s amendment would have given these travelers much-needed peace of mind while enhancing their ability (one that has been greatly restricted by laws) to exercise their natural, God-given right to self-defense.

Our Founding Fathers, even back in the 1700s, knew that tempering of this right could occur, even though they understood that man has certain unalienable rights, so they added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, ensuring that the loss of certain rights would never occur. Among them was the Second Amendment, which says: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Legally, the states were not originally bound to the Bill of Rights; it was a list of limitations for the federal government. Philosophically, though, it was a set of rules that should be applied to all governments within the United States because those rights are universal to the pursuit of liberty and life as a free individual.

Some of the senators who voted against the Thune amendment cited the former, saying that it broke yet another of the rights, specifically the Tenth Amendment, which noted that powers not delegated to the United States belong to the states themselves. One-time gun rights proponent Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued a statement along those lines that read: “It is wrong for the federal government to overrule a state’s ability to enact reasonable, constitutional gun laws designed to prevent criminals and other violent and dangerous persons from carrying guns in city streets.”

It was quite the turning of tables, because those who evoked the Tenth Amendment — such as Gillibrand’s fellow New York Senator, Charles Schumer — are typically the officials who defy that amendment through the continued, unabated expansion of the federal government.

While mentioning the Tenth Amendment, the anti-gun crowd failed to look further into the Constitution. The 14th Amendment says, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” In application, the 14th Amendment has required that the states recognize the Bill of Rights within their realm of governance, meaning that the Thune Amendment would have legs because it negates the overbearing rule of any state that has a concealed-carry permitting process because such a process infringes on one’s Second Amendment rights.

Despite the 14th Amendment's passage in 1868, the Second Amendmenthas yet to be incorporated into the 14th Amendment because the Supreme Court has declined to hear any cases that would do so. The Thune Amendment’s passage would have finally forced the court’s hand in this matter and, based on past rulings, the right to carry would have to be recognized as a universal right.

But, alas, it never got far enough. It was a scant two votes shy of passage.

Those who believe in the God-given right to protect ourselves and our families know can only hope for the future. A bill that was this close to fruition deserves another look in 2010. Maybe then will we be able to claim the right to freely — and safely — move about the United States of America.

The economic stimulus that wasn't

From the 10 August 2009 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

Confer Plastics is doing relatively well right now. Custom molding sales are up. Employment is up. And, we’re buying one of the largest blow molding machines in North America.

If the Obama administration knew this I could only imagine the outcome. Without a doubt, one of their public relations gurus would attribute this growth to the $787 billion stimulus package introduced earlier this year. I’d hate to burst their bubble, but Confer Plastics is succeeding not because of the stimulus. We’re succeeding in spite of it.

The company is healthy because we do what any other business does when the going gets tough (or even when the times are good): You dig in your heels against the economic situation, streamline your operations, develop new products or services and leverage the strengths of your people and assets to attract new customers.

We didn’t sit back and hope that a poorly misguided use of government intervention would make consumers open their pocketbooks. Frankly, we knew that the stimulus would do nothing to excite the average consumer and, truthfully, it hasn’t.

I can say that with confidence by analyzing the various components of our client base. Despite our successes, most all of our pre-existing lines are down in revenues, mirroring the continued decline in the economy. Swimming pool ladders and steps, for example, which have long been a mainstay of our business, are down by almost 30 percent since 2006. It’s a product line that indicates how much discretionary income families do or do not have. Homeowners just don’t have the money available to buy swimming pools anymore. In this recession they’ve been transformed from a relatively common purchase to a luxury item. It’s a change in buying behavior that consumers are applying to countless goods and services. Had they truly been stimulated, they would have abandoned this practice.

We’re not alone in this distrust of the stimulus. Most small businesses like ours have seen no benefit whatsoever from it. Many surveys point to this fact. In July’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey – one of the key economic indicators issued by the Federal Reserve – only 10 percent of respondents said that the stimulus had a positive effect on their revenues. That number is lower in a July survey conducted by the National Small Business Association. Only 3 percent of their participants saw an up tick in business activity because of Obama’s plan. Worse yet, in that very same survey, 42 percent of the respondents have no confidence in their business’ financial future. Surveys like those reflect the harsh reality of the continued decay of the economy (a 3.9 percent shrinkage in the last twelve months) and escalation in unemployment (it’s a smidge under 10 percent nationally).

It’s obvious that the estimated impact of stimulus – that it will create or save 3.5 million jobs – was a pipedream, at least in the business world. Government employment is the only job sector that has seen an increase in activity as numerous teaching, road construction, police and administrative jobs have been created or retained in local and state governments throughout the country, averaging over 10,000 new jobs a month.

It should be noted that there is no good news to be found in that. The government is a drain on the private sector, stifling innovation and consumer and business spending by taking-away usable assets through taxation and decreasing the value of money through inflation while redirecting those funds into the public sector where innovation and advancement of our society and technology does not occur.

This vast transfer of wealth – one that will only grow with government health care and a potential second stimulus package - will only lengthen the recession because it will guarantee that money will not be put to its best use. If vast government spending and a bureaucratic control of the economy were the keys to economic prosperity, the USSR would have become the greatest society this world has ever known. Instead, it flamed out in a hurry and left millions of people in despair.

We can’t follow that same path. We need to stop putting blind faith in our government. It cannot and will not bring us out of the recession. What can and will save us are the same things that took our economy to its great heights and made ours the greatest society ever -- the timeless American values of ingenuity and work ethic being applied in a free marketplace. It’s something called “capitalism”…and it’s the real economic stimulus!