Was Romney Wrong?

Was Romney Wrong?

By: Ben Sailors

DALLAS – Mitt Romney, the 2012 presidential candidate, recently has come under fire for sharing his opinion with donors that he believes President Obama won the election by offering “gifts” to certain voting blocs such as women, minorities, and younger voters. He attributed specific things to each group, such as free contraception to college aged women, loan forgiveness for college students, and subsidized healthcare for blacks and Hispanic voters.

Governor Piyush “Bobby” Jindal, of Louisiana, has asserted the he believes Romney’s claims are “absolutely wrong.” He asserted “Two points on that: One, we have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote.”

Jindal then pivots to saying “And, secondly, we need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American dream, which is to be in the middle class, which is to be able to give their children an opportunity to be able to get a great education…So, I absolutely reject that notion, that description. I think that’s absolutely wrong.”

In a remarkably astute observation, Jindal concludes that, “Governor Romney’s an honorable person that needs to be thanked for his many years of public service, but his campaign was largely about his biography and his experience. And it’s a very impressive biography and set of experiences. But time and time again, biography and experience is not enough to win an election. You have to have a vision. You have to connect your policies to the aspirations of the American people. I don’t think the campaign did that, and as a result this became a contest between personalities.”

It is difficult to argue that President Obama would not win a contest of personalities between himself and Mitt Romney. While Mitt Romney is an extraordinary man, extraordinary does not connect well with ordinary. Interestingly, Mitt Romney’s assertion that voters connected with the President’s message better than his own, resonates exactly with what Governor Jindal is suggesting as a solution. The President’s policies did connect with the aspirations of the American people, which is why they voted for him. Is Mitt Romney wrong in pointing out that connection?

The real question isn’t whether or not Mitt Romney’s campaign won or lost for the reasons Romney cited, but rather, if Jindal’s description of the American Dream still accurate. Has the American Dream morphed into the American Demand, where entitlement society reigns supreme? Is the real issue that Romney’s policies didn’t connect with aspirations? Or have the American people lowered their aspirations and thus meet more consistently with the President’s policies?

The most important questions may still be: Can anyone inspire a nation to work, that doesn’t need to? Does the Republican message of self sufficiency and work still matter to a nation who increasingly is out of work and subsisting on government welfare?

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Doth This Offend Thee?: Romney’s 47% Remarks Explained

I want to address this issue clearly and up front.
Let’s start with what Mr. Romney said:

There are 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47% who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement … And they will vote for this president no matter what … These are people who pay no income tax … My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Okay, now let’s look at this rationally and honestly.
Romney is talking about the bloc of voters who will vote for Obama no matter what. In terms of winning an election, those are individuals that he’ll never be able to win over. He cites them as a group of 47% of Americans. Then he goes on to list their traits of some of their number: those who are dependent, those who feel entitled, those who pay no income tax, etc. These are characteristics of people within those 47%. Not ALL in that 47% exhibit those same characteristics, but those types of people ARE present somewhere inside of that 47%. I believe Romney was expressing his frustration with what I like to call “the leeches of society”.

But let’s get something clear. Romney is NOT in favor of destroying Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid. He’s not trying to destroy those programs for those who are in need them now, and wants to make it solvent for people in the future. Social Security is only solvent until 2038. That’s just around the corner for many middle aged workers. What about for people in my generation? The point I’m trying to make is that Romney understands those programs have a place and a use. But his problem is with those that ABUSE that system. Who live off government, leeching unemployment, early retirement, food stamps, etc with NO intention of getting off the programs. They have no goals or ambition to get off the program. We all know people like this exist. I think that’s the disgust Romney was expressing and frankly, I agree with him. I have the same disgust for those who leech off the generosity of others and use tax payers money in selfish ways that provide nothing back to the welfare of the group.

Romney has shown in his life his capacity to serve. He’s helped San Diego fire victims, he’s provided milk to the needy, he’s assisted the Olympic games, served as Governor for a dollar a year. He closed down his business to help an employee find his daughter. He’s raised 5 sons, had the same wife his entire life, and has served in positions in his church that requires enormous amounts of time to be invested for no pay.

Romney does care about the poor and the needy. He wants to help people rise above the situation they are in. He can’t stand those that are willingly bottom feeders who have no drive, ambition, or desire to improve and become less of a burden on society. I agree with him. But that’s not what he was talking about when he said the 47%. The 47% was in regards to the bloc of Americans voting for Obama, and those were some of those voters characteristics. He wasn’t going to stop and break it down into 23% of them are dependent, 12% won’t take accountability, etc. He was making a broad statement, listing some qualities and moving on.

My argument comes down to this: If you think Romney’s comments don’t describe your situation don’t take offense.

Romney knows there are proper uses for government safety net programs. He wants them there. He wants people to get the help they deserve. His disdain was focused on the bottom feeders of society and those who willingly leech off of those who are working hard so they don’t have to. I feel those Americans are immoral and unethical. I think Democrats should feel the same.

Romney didn’t say anything wrong. Fact checks on “Do 47% really not pay taxes” are missing Romney’s argument entirely and it’s a waste of time. Listening comprehension is important and I find it depressing how easily and readily Americans are to take offense.

The only reasons I can believe someone would take offense to Romney’s comments are if they hit home, and people know it’s true, or if they have an axe to grind. If you take offense where non is meant, who’s fault is that?

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An Open Letter to Bloomberg Businessweek

Dear Bloomberg Businessweek,

I’m sure you like attracting business and customers. I’m sure, like most businesses, you enjoy making money. Similarly, I’m sure you feel the need to share those points of view that would be of greatest use to you in furthering your goals.

In regards to your latest cover, I feel that, as a Mormon or a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, your choice in cover won’t help you reach those goals because its quite offensive. The membership of the LDS church is over 14 million with a good portion of that in the US. We value thrift and using money wisely. We appreciate good financial and business advice. However, I must say that your cover is not designed in such a way to attract us to your publication. Regrettably it is very painful to look at, as it tramples all over things that we hold very sacred.

I would plead with you to please retract your publication or at the very least, apologize for the affront. Our religion is one of tolerance, acceptance and love while holding to those values we feel are given to us by our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. We seek only to follow his will, not to generate mountains of wealth.

Again, please consider an apology and retraction. It would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Ben Sailors

How Romney Can Up His Game – Putting the Puzzle Together

How Romney Can Up His Game

By: Ben Sailors


Romney fans are rabid. I know, because I am one, but just as there are certain degrees of political leanings, there are certain degrees of Romney support. Some support him to the point of admitting no flaws, as if the man were perfect. I feel he has room for improvement, which I would venture to say, so does Mitt Romney. I don’t think he accomplished what he has in his life by saying “good enough” or “close enough”. My argument rests around the idea that Mitt can articulate his vision for America in better words than he has.

For those of us who have had the opportunity to read Mitt Romney’s economic plan, he lays out a fantastic representation of his vision for the country. He explains how all the changes he wants to make will simultaneously work together to repair our economy, strengthen our military, and solidify America has the leader of the free world. This goal is met in a few ways.

First, Mitt Romney wants to open more trade agreements with other countries. At the time of writing, Obama had yet to get the trade agreements negotiated and approved under Bush signed. Obama has since done that, but hasn’t opened any new trade agreements with other nations to help fuel our economy. This first step is critical, because it allows our companies in the US to get most customers, more access to raw goods, and access to other countries to build and develop in. This all is a net gain for America. Money is money, regardless of where it is made. The trouble then becomes our tax system.

Mitt Romney proposes to decrease our corporate tax rate to something far more competitive. Right now we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world at 35%. Canada just lowered theirs to 15%. Mitt Romney recently endorsed the Ryan plan which reduces corporate tax rates to 25%. His own plan also lowers the corporate tax rate to 25%. The trouble is that with our complex tax system, there are too many loopholes for the businesses and the rich to escape taxes. Unfortunately, if we eliminate the loopholes, but don’t lower the rates, we’re stealing the rich and business owners blind for the benefit of Americans who contribute nothing. That isn’t to sound cold and unfeeling, but there are millions of Americans who work for these companies who are dependent on them for their income. A job is not a form of independence. It’s a form of dependence on that company for the income. Businesses are dependent on their customers, Americans and other citizens of the world for their income. Let’s be honest, if America’s policies eat into a business’ profits, and they can go elsewhere, why wouldn’t they? The purpose of business is to create wealth for those who create them. Jobs are certainly a byproduct, but the main purpose is to generate revenue, not pay for Medicare and other government programs. Mitt Romney understands all this and wants to lower the tax rate, attract businesses to the US, create jobs, and help get people back on their feet.

I know that some people by this point will be thinking, what’s it all for then, if a job isn’t true independence? What does it mean for the millions of Americans who are employees? We can’t all be entrepreneurs! How do I hold on to the money that I make? Mitt Romney understands this as well. He allows investors and regular citizens, under his plan, to save and invest tax free up to $200,000 dollars. He wants Americans to invest and save. He wants them to prepare for the future. He wants them to have security. When more American families are secure, they’re more likely to take that step of entrepreneurship, or the true freedom of participating in the free market. He wants people to have the opportunity to join the ranks of the wealthy, not just the ranks of the middle class. There is a false rumor that Democrats love to spread around that there’s only a finite amount of wealth and the 1% are hoarding it. The fact of the matter is, in a global economy, there is so much more money than what’s just in America. And given the right idea, incentive, drive; those 1% will gladly invest in someone who they feel will make them more money. There is ALWAYS more money. What there isn’t enough of is the drive, ambition, and courage to go get it. Mitt Romney wants people to have the opportunity to have their own wealth and future secured in a way that a regular job as an employee could never accomplish.

The point of this tirade is to show how Mitt Romney can take all of what I just said, condense it down, and saying something like: “I want Americans to have the opportunity to grow and thrive in this country. I want them to feel the joy and dignity of being able to provide for themselves again. My plan will open up new trade agreements and lower the corporate tax rate so they can compete across the world. I want to make sure they can keep more of the money they make by eliminating taxes on capital gains and interest. I want the American people to have their money in their pockets, so they can have a life that they’ve always dreamed of.”

Sure it’s really close to what he already says. I just want him to show how his policies are all friendly to one another. How they coalesce to make a stronger, safer, easier, more powerful system that not only boosts our military, but also boots our economy and our citizen’s wealth. Knowledge is power and I think the more than regular Americans hear how the system works, the more they’ll buy into Mitt’s plan.

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Why Chris Christie Should Be Romney’s VP Pick (IMO)

by: Ben Sailors

e-mail: politicallyoffcenter@gmail.com

Some fellow tweeters and I got into a debate about who should be Romney’s vice president. I’ll limit my comments to what I consider the two front runners: Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. Each of them have their strengths and each their weaknesses, but more importantly, the question is what compliments do each of them bring to the table as vice presidential candidates?

Marco Rubio is a young up and comer. He’s passionate, smart, able to communicate effectively and inspires many Republicans to join the fight for freedom on the Republican side. He’s also Cuban-American which people would argue would bring more Latino votes to the ticket. While this is true, I don’t think it would accomplish the desired effect as powerfully as needed. I also think Marco Rubio has very few qualifications that would incline one to believe that he would be a good President should Mitt Romney die or be unable to fulfill his duties as President. He is a Senator, but he’s got very little experience and is rather weak when looked at critically for his executive experience, life experiences, and leadership qualities. Once elected, Senator Rubio does very little to compliment Romney.

That brings me to Chris Christie. Let’s be honest, (and when talking about Chris Christie, there’s no other way), Governor Christie says things how they are. Anyone remember him telling Warren Buffet to shut up and cut a check if he wants to pay more in taxes? Christie adds bluntness, straight talk, and brutal honesty to the political discourse.  Contrast that with Romney. Where Romney is humble to the point of shyness, Christie will give you the real deal. Where Romney is nuanced, Christie is blunt.  Christie adds a certain believability and clarity to Romney. He’s almost like Romney’s translator. Where Romney is kind, gentlemanly, and poised, Christie is abrasive, contentious, and forward. They play off each other well and I believe Americans will savor that clarity, especially when paired with Romney’s personal achievements. Beyond that, Christie is a capable Governor. Christie has experience leading a state where Marco Rubio does not. This isn’t to say that Marco Rubio is a bad choice, he’s a great choice. He’s just the wrong choice.

I’ve met many people who have told me that they would vote for Romney if Christie was on the ticket. They love his forward language, his bluntness and his attitude. Christie would be an excellent addition to the ticket and allows Romney to keep being Romney, and Christie to keep firing off the shots that Romney doesn’t really want to say. It’s a true dynamic duo that I believe will be Governor Romney’s selection. Two governors is an excellent ticket to be voting on, especially vs. Obama and Biden.

Romney’s Nuance – A Rebuttal to Boston Catholic Insider

I have to make a short little blog post today as today I saw something very humorous.

At the Arizona debate two days ago, Mitt Romney was asked the question (paraphrased): Did you force Catholic hospitals to provide the morning-after pill to rape victims in Massachusetts.

Romney said:

“No, absolutely not. Of course not.

There was no requirement in Massachusetts for the Catholic Church to provide morning-after pills to rape victims. That was entirely voluntary on their part. There was no such requirement.”

Allow me to remind you what Romney also said that night, again paraphrased: “You get to ask the questions you want, I get to give the answers I want.”

Allow me now to point out a nuance.

Romney never spoke about requiring Catholic hospitals to provide the morning after pill to rape victims. What he spoke about was not requiring the Catholic CHURCH to provide the morning after pill, that was voluntary. Never in the question did Romney actually answer the question. This would be a DODGE, and an extremely nuanced one at that.

But Romney’s too good to just stop there. That doesn’t quite coat the side step enough. No, then he went on to say that Romneycare provides a religious exception (which it does), and that made it sound as if he were saying not only did he not force the Catholic hospitals to give out the morning after pill, he also made is sound as if the hospitals had a choice in the matter.

The trouble with that conclusion is how he made it sound and what he said, aren’t the same thing.  The only thing that could be a “lie” is if “No, absolutely not. Of course not,” was in reference to John King’s question or if it was a preface to the line following it. I think it’s pretty clear that if Romney is going to sidestep the question enough so he can give truthful answer, he wouldn’t start with a blatant lie. So I’ll go with the conclusion it was an attachment to the beginning of the statement, not an answer. I think Romney just answered the question how he “wanted to”.

All that said, let’s point out that the bill in question, Romney was opposed to. He vetoed it. When the Democrats overrode his veto, the law took precedence over the law that existed before, eliminating a religious waiver. As the law stood, Romney had to enforce Massachusetts law, and uphold the Democratic bill. So did he force the Catholic hospitals to provide the pill, personally? No, Democratic law did.

One last thing:

Romney said that in his “heart of hearts” he believed that rape victims should have access to the morning after pill. That is consistent with the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the church to which he belongs.

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Santorum’s Social Issue

Santorum’s Social Issue.

E-mail: politicallyoffcenter@gmail.com

Twitter: @PoliticallyOC

Rick Santorum is a good man. He’s an upstanding guy with a great family who very much loves his family. Beyond that, there isn’t much to say in defense of the man. Rick Santorum has a huge issue looming over his head and it just happens to be, or at least seems to be, his favorite subject: social issues.

Rick Santorum holds dearly to the conservative right values that most Republicans value. In fact he may even take it to an extreme even for most Republicans, not believing in using birth control. The real issue here isn’t that Rick Santorum is pro-life or against gay marriage. The bigger issue is how vocal and confrontational he is about it. America is growing increasingly more liberal, to the point where the nation is in a virtual split regarding gay marriage. Rick’s boisterous, holier than thou, attitude, when it comes to the general election, simply won’t fly.

Rick has built his campaign around being the “most conservative” and in terms of social issues, he very well may be. The trouble with that platform is that he’s got nothing of substance to fall back on after he loses to President Obama on those grounds. Obama will carry the social issues war. Liberalism and even the right will shy away from Rick’s inflammatory defense of those virtues, regardless of how much they agree with them, because it leads to conflict in their own social circle to defend someone with such a staunch agenda.

If you want proof of this, I’d point you to the last Senate race he was in that he lost to a Democrat by 18%. Rick Santorum was a House Representative from 1991-1995, then a Senator from 1995-2007, when he lost his seat to Bob Casey Jr., who also opposed abortion. This negated one of Santorum’s strongest selling points. It’s still once of his strongest selling points, but in the general election, with American divided on the issue, it’s unlikely to be an advantage for Rick. It’ll become his greatest weakness. Rick’s strength is his downfall. Where it appeals to Republicans and causes them to cheer “Yes! Yes!” when he talks about the sanctity of life, liberals and Obama will vilify him as against women’s health, women’s choice, liberty, etc. Obama will hang the issue around his neck like an albatross and let it sink him. Santorum has no other strong stance to fall back on.

He was a lawyer for four years, lobbying for the World Wrestling Federation to be allowed to use steroids. He’s been a House Representative or Senator from 1991-2007, or about 16 years. He’s got no private sector experience, no executive experience, and his record in the House and Senate is nothing to brag about. He supported a number of initiatives and bills that increased government spending, raised the credit limit, and supported earmarks.

With no significant achievements to fall back on, Rick Santorum’s social issues will leave the American people with no argument, without defense, and without reason for the American voter to support the former Senator of Pennsylvania.

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Why Romneycare Shouldn’t Worry Conservatives – Obama Should.

Why Romneycare Shouldn’t Worry Conservatives – Obama Should.

E-mail me: politicallyoffcenter@gmail.com

I wanted to take a moment and explain why I believe Romneycare shouldn’t be an issue in the primary election and especially not in the general.

First, and this is most important, Romneycare was designed as a state program. It was designed for a state with 95% of the population already insured. It was designed for a state with the third highest income per capita in the United States. It was designed for a state to encourage those people who could afford health care to buy their own rather than mooch off the state.

This is an important point to understand. The federal government required states to have their hospitals pay for all who pass through their doors needing care. This increase in spending has to be met somewhere. In most states it resulted in increased taxes, or in the case of Massachusetts, Romneycare. The solution of Romneycare is actually preferable, in Massachusetts, than raising their 5.3% flat tax. Romneycare doesn’t affect the 95% of the already insured in the state. It also doesn’t affect the people making less than 150% of the federal poverty rate. It only affects those who can afford insurance, and don’t choose to have it. Here’s the crux of the whole argument:

Those who choose NOT to buy insurance, are saying that the state will take care of them in times of trouble. Problem is, without increasing the 5.3% tax rate, you can’t pay for those people and maintain a balanced budget. So what did Romney do? He created a plan that said “Sure, you can be on the government dole, but you’ll have to pay a premium to the state.” It came in the form of a fee or a tax, however you want to talk about it.

The mandate is not “Buy insurance or else!” It’s “Buy insurance if you don’t want to pay the government for assuming the risk and cost of your health care.” This isn’t a mandate. It’s paying for what is legally required by the federal government in a fiscally responsible way that hurts the smallest amount of MA citizens possible.

The real problem is the federal mandate to the states requiring them to treat anyone who comes in those doors, including illegal immigrants. There’s the true problem. Romneycare is a symptomatic solution of that problem, and until we resolve that issue, there will always be higher taxes or Romneycare (basically a raised tax to account for bad federal policy) in play. Also, it’s the state’s right to find a solution to the issue. It’s not imposing it on the nation, regardless of unemployment rates, etc.

The real other issue is Obamacare. Obamacare isn’t designed for a very rich state that’s primarily covered. It’s a program that provides treatment to a vast amount of Americans who are unemployed, under employed, or are at or below the poverty line. The amount of cost, spread over the nation, would be phenomenal. It would blow a hole into our budget much like a black hole. Illegals, poor Americans, Amerians barely making it, would all be supported by others already paying for their own insurance. Romney care didn’t raise taxes to pay for the program, except for those people who choose not to get insurance. Obamacare on the other hand took 500 billion from Medicaid to pay for this program. The other 500 billion will also come from tax payer dollars. The state solution works. The Federal program is a huge burden on our economy and threatens to turn our nation into a socialistic state. It’s simply wrong and unsustainable without raising taxes severely.

Romneycare is a very precise, calculated solution. Obamacare is a broad sweep of the brush that leaves a gaping wound rather than a finely crafted solution.

This debate should not be about Romneycare that was supported by all but 2 people in the MA Legislature and favored 3 to 1 in the state. This is a bipartisan solution that most people stand by. Obamacare on the other hand, is not supported by nearly as many in the Congress or in the nation. It’s very different than Romneycare and ignores all the specific variables Romney took into account. Obama does what he always does: recklessly runs in where he doesn’t know where he’s going. It’s been the story of his presidency.

A Moderate Proposal: A Plea With America

I’ve been frustrated for some time about what I’m going to rant about, but I think it’s critical to getting America working.

When the Constitution was being drafted it was closer to twelve angry men trapped in a room that it was to how it is now. People were forced to work out a compromise or the states would walk away. They had to make it work. Observing Congress over the course of my lifetime has led me to believe that unless one party has a majority there will very rarely be something significant done in Congress unless it’s a matter of survival (much like creating the Constitution was.) This is a problem. Congress needs to get back to sitting in a room and hashing out a solution more than they need to focus on pointing fingers at who’s wrong.

Here’s the first half of the crux of my argument:

No one party is right all the time.

The second half is like unto it:

Electing uncompromising officials on either the right or the left, leaves Congress in a position of weakness and not one of compromise.

There is no glory in being right in an argument. I’ve often let myself get sucked into arguments with people and even think I’ve “won” the argument, but I’ve lost the attention and most likely the respect of the person with whom I was speaking. It’s not the right way to go about finding solutions in the world.

My father often spoke of synergy. Synergy is take 1 + 1 and getting 3. Compromise is just 1 – ½ + 1-1/2 = 1. It’s not negative, but it’s hardly moving forward at all. Synergy is taking the best of each persons arguments and making it work. That’s why we have the House and the Senate. They represent population and each state equally. They found something that gave everyone what they wanted. That could be phrased as a compromise but really it was a synergistic solution that gave everyone what they wanted.

Being a moderate isn’t something to be ashamed of. Some like to say it’s like the lukewarm water that God wants to spew from his mouth, but that’s not what moderate is about at all. If anything, liberals are the type of people who say “anything goes”, which is pretty lukewarm. Moderates are about compromise, solutions, and most of all synergy. It’s about saying “Hey Republicans, you have a great idea! The Democrats have something similar to that. Let’s hash out something that gets us both what we want and we can come out with something that truly represents what Congress and America is supposed to be about!”

It’s about coming together, not dividing ourselves. It’s about real solutions—real results.

Romney is a moderate, that’s a good part of why I support him. I think for MA, his healthcare bill was ideal for them. They have the 3rd highest income per capita and over 90% of the population already had insurance. It worked for them. (You could argue it’s not any more, but Democrats have adjusted “Romneycare” from the original document more than they’ve preserved it. They’ve certainly added cost.)

The point is this. Romney worked with both sides on that bill and it passed the Legislature with 99% approval. There were only two dissenting votes. Sure, he raised fees in the state. But let’s look at the facts. The state was in a budget crunch. You can’t keep cutting spending and hope to pay for everything. At some point, something’s got to give. Romney didn’t raise taxes, but he did increase one time fees in a number of areas. One time fees are not as brutal on a person as losing an increased amount of money in each paycheck. Romney found a way that got the revenue he needed to balance the state budget, build a $2 billion rainy day fund, and get Massachusetts back on sound financial footing.

Look at the Democrat who came after him. He rolled back many of Romney’s changes, added expensive changes to Romneycare, and burned through Romney’s entire $2 billion dollar rainy day fund.

Romney is a moderate. He knows how to communicate with both sides. His successor didn’t, and the state is paying dearly for it now. The new governor had lower approval ratings than Romney did in a democratic state.

Moderation works. There’s the popular saying “Moderation in all things.”

Apparently people think it’s not a good approach in politics. I would plea with America to think through this more. Moderation is the beginning of solutions. Moderation is what’s used to bring two sides together. Moderation levels the peaks and valleys. Moderation is Romney. Romney is a calm to the storm.

Moderation is the answer. Not big, bold changes.

As Einstein said once: “Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius-and a lot of courage-to move in the opposite direction.”

Let Romney’s genius work. It has before. In business, the Olympics and in Massachusetts.

Let it work.
Let Romney’s genius work. It has before. In business, the Olympics and in Massachusetts.

Let it work.

On Romney: A View From A “Very Poor” American

Today Romney made the comment that he’s not concerned with the very poor, because they have the safety nets they need, but if it has holes he’ll fix it. And he’s not concerned with the very wealthy because they’re doing just fine.

People got all up in arms about this comment because it’s not politically correct. You can’t just throw “half” of Americans away. First, the “rich” are the 1% right? The amount of people in the United States that are under the poverty line is about 15.1% according to a 2010 statistic from the Huffington Post. That’s about 16.1% of the population we’re talking about. So it’s not “half” of Americans. Most Americans aren’t “very poor” or “very rich”.

Now let me get to the heart of what I want to talk about.

I know what it’s like to be “very poor”. I was a waiter at Cracker Barrel for 5 years. I would also take classes at the local community college when I felt like it. Could I have gone more often? Sure, but I didn’t really want to. At the time, my brother was really suffering from depression and my parents kicked him out of the house to try and force him to make his own way in life or something. I’m not really sure why they did it to be honest. It didn’t make sense to me, but I took him in. I was living with roommates at the time and we shared a room, just as we had for most of our lives. For the first month or two, it was all he could do to just wake up and get around the house. He slowly improved and I was hopeful that someday he’d be able to function on his own and support himself.

The roommate we had who was in charge of money said the landlords needed to charge us extra for my brother to stay there, despite the fact we were in the same room. We ended up paying one and a half times the amount of money that the other three guys did. When the landlords came back from their Christian mission to try and sell the house, they found out for the first time that my brother and I had been living there. Turns out the roommate who was charging us extra was pocketing the money. Because they didn’t know we were there, they kicked us out. My brother and I lived in my car for a month so I could save enough money to put a down payment down on an apartment that was just the upstairs to a two story home. This was in the rougher part of town and we even had some drunk guys try to break into our apartment once and had to call the police. Luckily the station was only a few blocks way. It was during this time that our rent and everything started to be more than we could handle. My brother got food stamps for the first time and I shortly followed to ease the burden on my wallet, as I was covering most of our costs.

Eventually, my parents, who had moved out of the country to find work, asked us to live in their old home while they were gone and keep it in repair. At first this seemed like a great idea, but we soon found out that a 5 bedroom drafty house had a really high electricity bill come winter time. It alone was more than our rent and electricity was in our old apartment. It was everything I could do to keep my brother and I warm and fed. We reapplied for food stamps in the winter, because with the heating bill, we couldn’t pay for food and the electricity. Our water was turned off frequently as we had to pay it when I had the tips from my job to cover it. My brother tried to find work, but with his depression and mood swings, he often quit or was fired.

During this time I met my future wife online. She was a woman who had great sympathy for my situation. She listened to me and encouraged me. We spent hours on hours talking on the phone, Gmail Chat, Facebook, and web cam. I had quit my job after five years at Cracker Barrel because it literally brought me to tears just to walk in the doors. My brother was functional by that time for the most part though, and had a girlfriend who watched over him. He had friends and held down a job for a good period of time. I felt he was accountable for his own decisions and I could leave him to fend for himself in the world.  I decided to move to Irving, Texas to actually be with this girl who had been so wonderful to me and to try and turn around my life thanks to her and God and little bit of my own faith.

I moved to Irving, Dallas to live with roommates that I had never before met, but were of my same faith. My parents had agreed to help pay for me to drive down to Irving in my old Oldsmobile Cutlass that upon arriving in Texas, immediately began overheating. Turns out it needed a new radiator fan and water pump. My parents were kind enough to help me out, but just a short time later, it was stolen out of my girlfriend’s parking lot. I begged my friends to drive me to work every day and my girlfriend would pick me up at 11pm each night and drive me home until I found a way to get a new car. I managed to find work through a temp agency testing motherboards for Dell and HP. I was also taking classes online with my community college to earn my associates degree.

After two semesters, I had a “new” car, an associates degree, and was engaged to my wife. I transferred to the University of Texas at Dallas and automatically qualified because of my GPA.  I had finally gotten tired of testing motherboards so I started applying to more jobs and was able to land one being a computer technician for a start up company in Dallas. It was a salaried position, my first ever, and I worked there for about three months finishing my associates online before transferring to UTD. He was kind enough to let me stay on part time as I worked for my Software Engineering degree.

I’m paying for school primarily with Pell Grants and State Grants. I married my wife in June of 2010 and we’re very happily married so far. I’m not sure if the Pell Grants and state grants will continue this year, as my wife is an elementary school teacher and we make decent money together, but I was able to repay all my debts and greatly restore my credit rating, so if loans are needed, we’re in a decent position to take on small amounts of debt. As of right now, we have money in the bank and are grateful for all the blessings that we’ve received through God’s grace and through the generosity of government.

The point of this blog isn’t to ask for pity or for sympathy. It’s to show that the “very poor” in America aren’t helpless. It’s to show that Mitt Romney saying the social programs that support the very poor are fine and he’s not worried about us shouldn’t bother people. They do work. I’m proof of that. I’ve lived around people who just squat on the government dole. I used it as intended and my life is greatly improved because of it. Let me point out that this was during the Obama years and the answer to the question: “Am I better off than I was four years ago?” is a resounding yes. But I support Mitt Romney because I think he exemplifies the American Dream. He’s who I hope I can be. He’s who I’m working to become similar to. I also aspire to his business acumen, his repeated successes and his work ethic.

The American Dream is alive and well. Romney embodies it well. The “very poor” don’t need your sympathy and don’t care if Romney is politically correct or not. The fate of individuals, in America, are in those individuals hands and I’m so grateful for the programs that are in place in America to help those of us who fall on hard times recover and achieve our dreams.

God Bless Mitt Romney. He’s a shining example of what one can achieve in America.