Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Proof Is In The Gas Price

As President John Adams said, "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." Both the average $3.58 & median $3.63 gas price in 2011 was higher under President Obama than in any year under President Bush, which peaked at an average $3.32 & median $3.40 in 2008. Highly unlikely that it will cease, but there's no one to take blame other than the current administration - because the facts do not lie in bearing that out.

Bush Administration (2001 - 2008):  Average - $2.21 ; Median - $2.05
Obama Administration (2009 - Present):  Average - $2.95; Median - $2.83

"Obama Owns These Gas Prices," by Conn Carroll (Washington Examiner)

Consumer Price Index - Average Price Data

Area: U.S. city average

Item: Gasoline, all types, per gallon/3.785 liters

Years: 2001 to 2012

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Average  Median
2001 1.525 1.538 1.503 1.617 1.812 1.731 1.565 1.509 1.609 1.442 1.324 1.2 1.531 1.532
2002 1.209 1.210 1.324 1.493 1.508 1.489 1.496 1.508 1.507 1.535 1.534 1.477 1.441 1.495
2003 1.557 1.686 1.791 1.704 1.587 1.558 1.567 1.671 1.771 1.646 1.578 1.538 1.638 1.617
2004 1.635 1.715 1.809 1.875 2.050 2.083 1.982 1.941 1.934 2.072 2.053 1.926 1.923 1.938
2005 1.866 1.960 2.107 2.325 2.257 2.218 2.357 2.548 2.969 2.830 2.387 2.230 2.338 2.291
2006 2.359 2.354 2.444 2.801 2.993 2.963 3.046 3.033 2.637 2.319 2.287 2.380 2.635 2.541
2007 2.321 2.333 2.639 2.909 3.176 3.100 3.013 2.833 2.839 2.843 3.118 3.069 2.849 2.876
2008 3.096 3.083 3.307 3.491 3.813 4.115 4.142 3.838 3.749 3.225 2.208 1.742 3.317 3.399
2009 1.838 1.979 2.000 2.107 2.314 2.681 2.594 2.677 2.626 2.613 2.709 2.671 2.401 2.604
2010 2.779 2.709 2.829 2.906 2.915 2.783 2.783 2.795 2.754 2.843 2.899 3.031 2.836 2.812
2011 3.139 3.215 3.594 3.863 3.982 3.753 3.703 3.680 3.664 3.521 3.475 3.329 3.577 3.629
2012 *3.447

*3.447 *3.447

Average  Median

BUSH 2.209 2.052

OBAMA 2.951 2.829

(Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index-Average Price Data)

©2012 Steve Sagarra

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tax Return Scam

As Fox Mulder would say - "Trust No One." Who really is watching out for you? Truthfully, only your own due diligence can protect your identity and information. With the rise of identity theft, could there be any better reasons for the urgent need to protect earned benefits by privatizing social security, stopping "undocumented" illegal immigration and instituting voter identity laws for verification purposes? Seems fairly reasonable, if not logical.

For this or other tax-related identity theft scams, definitely contact the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - www.irs.gov/individuals/identity-protection. Also, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) - www.ftc.gov/faq/consumer-protection/report-identity-theft

©2012 Steve Sagarra

Monday, February 20, 2012

Why We Need A Self-Made President

Much has been made of the wealth of certain candidates, particularly Mitt Romney. Do you want to elect someone who has not been successful in their private sector endeavors? Mediocrity is not for the presidency of the United States. Although some were born with the proverbial “silver spoon,” a majority of past presidents relied on their individual acumen for attaining success. This is especially true of the founders, like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and invariably throughout the 19th century.

Increasingly, presidential elections have become more about the special interests and lobbyists. Your vote still counts, but do not be fooled – rather than relying on a record of private sector success, who becomes president depends on those who can make it happen. When they become president, they owe favors to political cronies who aided in their successful bid for office. Again, do not be fooled; despite laws and ethics rules, the same circumstances still happen all the time in Congress. As such, the need is great once again for a self-made individual who, like Washington and Jefferson, can rise above such political intrigue and be swayed only by what they believe favorable to the nation than to any particular group.

Yes, it is a fanciful notion. Do we dare not dream it though? The presidency should not be given to those who can simply afford it through connections and financial support; it should be afforded to those worthy of the position by their own success. Otherwise, not only the United States but also the free world and those who clamor for such shall suffer. As our first self-made president so eloquently stated, “Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind.” 

©2012 Steve Sagarra

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sanctity of Liberty In Marriage

Another same-sex marriage ban overturned, another appeal in the wings – where does it end? What if you were told you could not be with a certain person, someone to whom you are attracted and wish to share a life? How would you react? To quote Spock (the Vulcan, not the doctor), “If I were human, I believe my response would be, ‘Go to hell.’ If I were human.” That is exactly what is occurring in this country concerning same-sex marriage – one group, who is least affected by it either way, dictating terms of lifestyle to another group, whose only recourse is to protest against the dictates of the former. In the process, individual liberty is being trampled.

Is it not boorishly archaic to deny certain members of our society an equitable desire that the rest far too often can take for granted?

As a red-blooded, heterosexual American male with a moderately conservative lean – albeit, in the vein of classical liberalism – any individual insecurities toward homosexuality are those to deal with privately. At one point, I was morally opposed to the mere notion of same-sex marriage; I was also closed-minded. Oddly, as a person with a science-oriented mind (specifically, anthropology), I have never had a problem with it. Practically every species that engages in sexual behavior includes some form of same-sex relationship; it is natural and part of the natural world. Humans, as members of that natural world in spite of our “civilized” ways, are in no way different.

Forget any personal, socio-political stance though; look at same-sex marriage from an economic standpoint. A means for raising state and federal revenue without actually increasing the burden on current taxpayers – while also limiting government in our daily, personal lives? Add people to the rolls, i.e. married same-sex couples, that are otherwise excluded from the marriage tax bracket. While not a panacea, several independent studies have illustrated that implementation of same-sex marriage has a beneficial boost to the economy at all three levels – federal, state and local – both in the short and long term. From the wedding ceremony to associative spending – purchases on gifts, travel accommodations and tourism – it can stimulate business and generate sales taxes that otherwise would remain stagnant.

Seems like a scenario any fiscally-minded politician, pundit or taxpayer should be willing to support.

There is also the economics of “family.” In an unprecedented era of marital disillusionment, incompetent parenting and broken homes, there needs to be a shift in thinking on the constitution of a stable nuclear environment – even if that means giving new connotation to Kate & Allie or My Two Dads in the definition of the modern family.

In a previous post, I laid out the case, without condoning or condemning, for the State’s right to ban same-sex marriage. Though strongly opposed to any encroachment on individual liberties – including same-sex marriage, due to a more enlightened view – I still hold that argument valid from a legal standpoint. Yet, the countless disgraceful heterosexual examples that work against the “sanctity of marriage” argument has made many, including myself, re-think that position. But until there is a binding national declaration either for or against, the back-and-forth fight between opponents and advocates will continue at the state level. Ultimately, there are more pressing issues facing this country than the personal matters of two consenting individuals. It is time we as a nation become more enlightened to that idea.

©2012 Steve Sagarra