“Are We There Yet?” Not So Fun Facts About the National Debt

20 Jan

Are we there yet? Anyone who has kids has heard that question thousands of times over the course of their parenthood.

I was helping my son Jeremy with his math homework last night. The subject was Rates of Speed. To reinforce what we learned, we applied various common rates over a constant distance to determine the different times required to reach the destination. But instead of using a distance that only fantasy and the motion picture industry could make attainable, we used a much more relevant, real world frame of reference – the distance of a pre-determined number of one dollar bills laid down end-to-end. Now for the amount, we chose $15.255 Trillion – the current amount of our National Debt. That should be simple enough… Right?

First, we used the following data:

The length of one-dollar bills (6.14 inches each) stretching over one mile (63360 inches) equals $10,319.

The national debt ($15.255 Trillion) divided by $10,319 will equal a distance of 1,478,340,924 miles.

So, to travel 1,478,340,924 miles at the speed of light (186,282 miles per second), it would take the Sun 2 hours, 12 minutes and 16 seconds to spread a little sunshine.

At the speed of sound on a standard day at sea level (1,116 feet per second), it would take an Angel (the sound from a ringing bell) 222 years, 277 days and 16 hours to get his wings.

And driving down the highway at 60 miles per hour, it will take us 67,504 years, 1 month and 24 days to get to Grandma’s house (everyone go to the bathroom before you get in the car).

Oh by the way, this time next year, it will take 10% longer, and if we continue our reckless rate of borrowing and deficit spending, the national debt will more than double by the time a Kindergarten student graduates high school.

In the 2012 election, we must elect representatives with the fortitude to stop this cycle of reckless deficit spending that is destroying our children and grandchildren’s future. I am the only candidate from Utah’s 2nd Congressional District who promises NOT to vote in favor of a federal budget that is not balanced or a “just this one last time” debt ceiling increase (which is scheduled to take place next January just after the 113th Congress goes into session with a group of like-minded newly elected representatives). I ask that you support me to be yours.

Restoring Faith and Trust in Government – My Promise to the People of Utah

19 Jan

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are facing the toughest challenge of our lifetimes – restoring faith and trust in our government. If we fail at this challenge, every other issue we have been discussing won’t matter.

As I get to know my fellow candidates, I see six other people running for Utah’s 2nd Congressional District, each who would make an excellent representative for the People of Utah. But if I were out there with you, I would recognize the one candidate who is clearly out of place – and that candidate would be me.

That’s because I am not a polished career politician who is merely taking the next step on the political ladder. Nor am I someone who has spent a lifetime preparing to serve (I’ve already spent a lifetime serving my country, as did my father and his father before him). And am I not a wealthy business owner who is looking for another challenge in my life. In fact, I have not sought in the past, nor will I seek in the future any political office other than the office I’m seeking now – a seat in United States Congress.

I’m simply the candidate we’ve been demanding for many years – someone just like each of you – someone who is struggling paycheck to paycheck, a paycheck that is being plundered by an out-of-control government to provide for those who refuse to lift a finger, let alone struggle. I’m someone who is scrimping to save for my children’s education… someone who is sacrificing now to have a comfortable retirement and never be a burden to my children and grandchildren – and more importantly, who will never have to rely on government handouts.

I am the candidate who is not following the template of what a candidate must do in order to be elected to public office. I am not spending time in Washington seeking endorsements of current or past career politicians – some of the very career politicians mind you, who got us into this mess in the first place – endorsements given in exchange for assurances to current Congressional leadership that, despite promises I make to Utah families and small businesses, I can be counted on to abandon them and toe the Congressional line. Therefore, if Congressional leaders are looking to vet candidates who will fall in line and agree to “pie in the sky” compromises only to be let down time and time again, you are looking at the wrong candidate.

Because I will NEVER vote in favor of increasing taxes on Utah families and small businesses. I will NEVER vote in favor of a budget that is not balanced, but instead fraught with more reckless deficit spending, I will NEVER vote in favor of a “just this one last time” increase in the debt ceiling, and I will NEVER agree to unanimous consent on legislation important to the American people because we want to be home for Christmas.

I am not the candidate who accepts the same old conventional political wisdom that, in order to be elected, I must prove to the State and National Party that I am effective at raising large contributions from special interests, lobbyists, and wealthy donors who are certainly NOT in the habit of contributing out of the kindness in their hearts without a return on their investment. And I am fundamentally opposed to separating like-minded Utahns and grassroots supporters from large amounts of their hard-earned money, especially when my sole purpose in running for office in the first place, is to help Utah families and small businesses keep more of the money they earn.

I AM the candidate who believes that, in order to restore faith and trust in government, he must represent by example.

First, I believe that a representative should NEVER serve in Congress with the intention of benefitting financially. For example, Congressional salaries are now about three times the income of average Americans. Many candidates promise to support legislation to reduce Congressional salaries and benefits. That’s fine if you can get the other 434 representatives to agree… figure the odds.

Now, in addition to being a retired Navy officer, I’m currently employed and earn a pretty good living as an airline pilot with United Airlines. Though I’m limited to my union negotiated salary (about half the salary of a Congressman), it’s adequate to support my family. And like most Utahns in our depressed economy, I’m happy just to have a job. If elected to Congress, I promise that I will contribute every penny of my Congressional salary more than I would have made that year with my current employer, to my two favorite charities – the Wounded Warrior Project, and Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Secondly, I find it troubling to learn that many members of Congress have positioned themselves to receive two or even more taxpayer funded federal pensions resulting from national public or military service (and this doesn’t include pensions they may also receive from serving State or local political office). I believe that NO ONE should receive more than one taxpayer-funded pension. I will submit legislation to put an end to the federally funded Congressional defined benefit pension plan in favor of a 401(k) plan much like most receive in the private sector, with a provision that federal matching funds be forfeited by representatives who choose an alternate taxpayer funded pension.

Regardless of any proposed legislation, I promise that I personally will NEVER accept a taxpayer-funded pension resulting from Congressional service, but will instead opt in to the retirement benefits I earned over 26 years of military service and will receive upon reaching age 60.

Third, Congressional representatives and their families receive superior, fully paid medical benefits for life. I promise that I will NEVER accept medical benefits that are superior to those I now purchase and receive through my employer (Blue Cross/Blue Shield), or as a result of my military service (Tricare for Life), or that are mandated to Utahns by the government (ObamaCare).

Fourth, Congressional representatives have no restrictions on personal financial investments made utilizing information learned while conducting their legislative duties (insider trading). I promise that I will NEVER make any financial investments while a member of Congress, and I will support legislation that prohibits members of Congress from utilizing information in financial trading or investing not available to the public.

Finally, I promise that I will NEVER propose or support legislation aimed at citizens and the private sector that does not have equal or greater regulatory or enforcement action on the federal government and members of Congress.

It is said that a candidate for public office must “NEVER say NEVER,” lest their political career end much sooner than expected. Well, since I have already committed to a target of two, but absolutely no more than three two-year terms, and since I have promised that I will NEVER seek further political office, any political future for me has already been defined. Therefore, I have used the word “NEVER” many times over the course of this writing and have absolutely no excuse for breaking a promise.

So, if the day ever comes that I bow to political pressure and break a promise to the People of Utah, that day will be my last in Congress – the People of Utah will immediately have my resignation. And that is a promise. 

Securing Our Borders, Enforcing Our Laws

16 Jan

I feel very strongly about the immigration issue. My wife is a “legally” naturalized U.S. citizen, and we have a South Korean born adopted daughter. My wife entered the U.S. legally as a young girl and took her oath of citizenship in 1990 just a few months after we met. When we decided to adopt, she prepared me ahead of time for the miles of red tape, thousands of dollars in applications, documents, and lawyers fees, hours in line during dozens of visits to the immigration office over a period of nearly eight years, and endless hours of frustration dealing with a cumbersome legal front door immigration process we were in store for.

It was all worth it.

I believe we ALL embrace a robust front door immigration process – a process that leads to lawfully welcome immigrants and our immigrant friends and family members receiving the greatest honor they could have ever imagined. We do not however, agree with an illegal and unethical “back door” immigration policy (with an inherent goal of amnesty, thus allowing citizenship to foreigners whose very first act on American soil was to violate our law). Not only is it a blatantly illegal, dangerous, and politically motivated gambit, but there is a fundamental unfairness to allowing millions and millions of illegal immigrants to “cut in line” in front of our Utah family members and legal immigrant friends who have played by the rules, waiting patiently for years for their turn.

Allowing undocumented and unverified illegal immigrants unimpeded access to our country is more than a matter of national security – it threatens the safety of our families and the very fiber of our communities.

I will fight illegal immigration on all fronts. I will not only support legislation that enhances and clearly authorizes enforcement action of the U.S. Border Patrol and other specifically authorized Federal law enforcement agencies, but will also delegate to the individual States the authority, as authorized in the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, to craft specific immigration law not contained in Federal law. I will aggressively comply with my duty as delegated in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution to indict the U.S. Attorney General for failing to comply with his oath of office by ordering duly sworn peace officers of the United States NOT to enforce current Federal immigration laws.  I will vehemently oppose any effort at granting amnesty and will only consider guest worker eligibility for persons who are legally in or hoping to enter the United States lawfully.

The Obama Doctrine: “The New Normal”

2 Nov

Unfortunately, there is a small but very significant segment of American society that refuses to recognize or acknowledge the relationship between the poor state of the American economy and the crippling effects of business unfriendly government regulation and overly restrictive environmental policies of the past 50 years. Though the debilitating effects are unquestionable, the Obama Administration and its more radical surrogates (union leaders and small, “get-in-your-face” anti-growth environmental groups) have been very adroit at misguiding the American public and keeping this relationship veiled.

Obama’s undeclared “War on Capitalism” can be validated by revealing the Obama Doctrine, titled “The New Normal: An unlimited debt ceiling; $2 Trillion plus future annual budget deficits; 9% unemployment (and 20% underemployment); $100 a barrel oil, and unlimited taxpayer funded entitlements.”

The questions are these — Will we allow this “new normal” philosophy to further manifest itself in the American political landscape? Will we allow the progressive, anti-growth, and environmentally misguided crowds to continue to persuade a significant segment of the American public that the sacrifices being made (with regard to permanently poor and homeless, chronically unemployed, anemic economic growth, and abdication of State’s Rights) are politically acceptable? Will we allow Barrack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Jim Matheson to complete their progressive agenda?

The answer was issued in a prophetic challenge nearly 50 years ago: “You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.” –- Ronald Reagan

An Open Letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the People of the United States of America

21 Sep

An Open Letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from the People of the United States of America

By John W. Willoughby

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu:

We the people of the United States of America pledge our unwavering support to you and your country in the seemingly endless quest for peace and tranquility. We do not believe that acts of terrorism against our dearest friend and ally half a world away and acts of terrorism against our own homeland are mutually exclusive, nor do we accept that a truly lasting peace will result from appeasing one while combating the other.

Terrorism against one is terrorism against all. Unlike conventional warfare, we have sadly and painfully learned that the war on terrorism is perpetual and by definition can never be won. It is imperative however that we always be winning.

Israelis, just as all peace-loving peoples of the world, have the basic human right to protect their homes and families. Commensurately, responsible members of the world community (and especially their leaders) have an obligation to Israel and all of mankind to combat terrorism by whatever means available regardless of political expediency or public opinion of the day.

Unfortunately, some in my country including many in the Obama Administration have weakened in their resolve that a nuclear threat from Iran is a mortal threat. As a nation, we have begun to stray from the path of altruism you yourselves forged and we strived so hard to emulate after the attacks of 9/11. Instead, our elected leaders have charted a course that will invariably lead their supporters to succumb to fear and appeasement. They rationalize, trivialize, and in essence disregard the harsh and cruel realities that have (until recently) led us to empathize with and show unconditional support for you.

You see, ours has become a nation divided. It seems we can’t agree on even the most fundamental issues of freedom and democracy – how they were won, what they are worth, and whether they will continue to be embraced, protected, or are even worthy of being defended. Our most treasured citizens (our military members and veterans) as well as our staunchest allies are now to be watched with tacit suspicion while our harshest ideological critics and irksome antagonists are being embraced. Intolerance by some of our citizenry, the media, and even many our elected representatives for the opposing viewpoint in even something as fundamental as the embrace of values and beliefs of America’s founding fathers has become a virus of pandemic proportions that is spreading through our society and may jeopardize our grit and determination to function as a unified nation let alone a world leader.

Instead of the fortitude we summoned after the 9/11 attacks, we now exhibit gross indifference. Instead of vigilance, we are steeped in ambivalence and apathy. Instead of standing by your side and sharing the strength you’ve so unselfishly demonstrated, we continue to hypocritically urge you to submit to unrealistic optimism and broken promises only to be let down time and time again.

The Obama Administration is on the path to folly. President Obama himself just asked, in a speech to the United Nations, that Israel and the Palestinian Authority see things from the other’s point of view. That single statement seeks to legitimize terrorism by the Palestinians while it trivializes Israel’s right to defend herself. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is clearly beyond her depth when she insists that, in order to receive continued U.S. funding, any new Palestinian government (that includes terrorist groups such as Hamas) should meet three conditions – that they recognize Israel as a sovereign nation, that they renounce violence, and that they agree to previous Palestinian peace accords (though those same conditions were not enforced in Lebanon, whose government includes the terrorist group Hezbollah). How can the Obama Administration claim that distribution of funds likely to end up in the hands of terrorists be, according to Clinton, “in the best interest of the United States?”

We Americans pray that, when the time comes for Israelis to exercise their God-given right to protect their homeland, our leaders will support them as our citizens demand.  Conversely, if the Obama Administration decides to take exception (in the form of some level of active American military intervention) with the methods you choose and have every right to exercise, they will do so without the support of a large majority of the American public and will be held to account.

We can only hope that (based on a fundamental lack of understanding on issues in your region of the world as revealed during the 2008 U.S. Presidential Campaign and since) any objections the Obama Administration and the majority party of U.S. Congress express are as passive and unobtrusive as possible.

Once again, We the People of the United States of America wish you Godspeed in your journey to peace.

Very respectfully,

LCDR John W. Willoughby, USNR-Retired

 

Obama’s Kristallnacht?

1 Sep

What is happening to our nation? In just the past few days, we have seen members of United States Congress and the Obama Administration, progressive activists, entertainers, members of the media, and other extreme liberal groups “declaring war” on everyday American citizens. Many past and present politicians, from former Vice-President Al Gore to members of the Congressional Black Caucus including Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), have labeled Tea Party members and other Americans who will not subscribe to President Obama’s socialist “spread the wealth” agenda as “racists.” Racists…? Really?

You would expect this type of shocking, “get in your face” vitriolic behavior from extreme activists at the opposite end of the ideological spectrum from ourselves. But none in our lifetimes have witnessed a carefully planned and calculated political strategy this hateful, bitter, or dishonest. Elected members of our Government are vocally labeling a large segment of the American public – people clearly loyal to their country… everyday Americans justly and properly participating in the American process of government – as “racists.” It doesn’t matter that there has not been one iota of proof to substantiate such allegations – just the faintest hint of that label has been enough to stifle the activities and silence many individuals and organizations in the post civil-rights era whether deserved or not. That is until now.

Just as some extremely misguided politicians (House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi) and left-wing pseudo-political groups tried unsuccessfully to equate Tea Party members to the “Brown Shirts” of Nazi Germany and to make the Tea Party movement synonymous with the holocaust, this most recent effort to affix the label “racist” will be seen for the ill-advised, ill-conceived, and ill-executed political stunt it is.

But what I find especially troubling is the number of people who are not speaking out against this travesty. Politicians (including President Obama and our own Representative Jim Matheson), clergy, and true civil rights leaders by their silence are granting tacit approval of these methods. But just as we cannot condemn good, honest Democrats or others who simply disagree with our philosophy, we cannot allow a failed President (or an inattentive and indifferent Representative) to remain silent while extreme, radical followers of his failed ideology use this most recent desperate attempt to delegitimize the Tea Party movement as an opportunity to incite a pogrom against the American people in what will prove to be a dangerous, last ditch effort to change the fabric of our nation and ultimately “sentence (us) to take the last step into a Thousand Years of Darkness.”

Many scholars and historians say that the time is ripe for home grown terrorism. The questions to ponder are: Will the continued deterioration of Obama’s puppet presidency and his failure to advance a discredited progressive-socialist ideology lead the de facto leaders of the movement to abandon Obama? Will the successes of the Tea Party and other Patriotic organizations further inflame the progressives and extreme liberals who bought off on the empty promise of “hope and change?” Will the radical extremists who waited patiently for 40 years for their chance to infiltrate the government with their plans to reform America give up on conventional techniques and revert to the time-tested methods of violence they practiced to perfection during the 1960’s? We had better be prepared to answer these questions… or be ready to suffer the consequences of gross indifference.

Where do Our Congressional Candidates Stand on Term Limits?

30 Aug

Until recently, I felt that elections were the ultimate form of term limits. But watching these old entrenched Senators and Representatives who have been in Congress for 20, 30 years or longer talking exactly the same way they have for years… doing exactly the same thing… making the same mistakes… Then add a largely uninformed constituency that will either vote strictly along party lines or worse, for the name they saw on a sign – it’s enough to make your head explode.

Responsibility without accountability is meaningless. It’s laid out in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution. Article 1 (which describes the authority and responsibilities of Congress), and the entire Constitution for that matter, is just a bunch of words if the people don’t care enough to learn them and hold their Representatives accountable. So, if the people won’t hold their politicians accountable, time certainly should.

Besides, unlimited time does not only allow unscrupulous politicians the opportunity to build ill-gotten wealth (as in the case of Harry Ried et al), but it also allows them to learn more ingenious ways to hide their corruption (e.g. Charlie Rangel) and develop unsavory, self-serving alliances.

We need to do away with career politicians. Several proposals I’ve seen suggest Representatives should be limited to 6 terms (12 years) and Senators to 2 terms (also 12 years). I support these proposals with several caveats.

First, any term limit law should allow Representatives and Senators who have already met the threshold to be grandfathered so they are free to seek one additional term… BUT, they must agree to several conditions. Legislators must agree to a 35% reduction in pay and allowances. Participants must also agree to forgo their defined benefit pension plan in favor of a 401(k) retirement plan with a 16% matching contribution identical to the plan being proposed for the Armed Forces (and should be applicable to all federal employees in future legislation).

Legislation must reflect that Representatives and Senators who do not agree to these conditions and choose not to seek reelection shall be limited to only one taxpayer funded federal pension program. For example, any Representative or Senator who is “entitled” to a Congressional pension AND a separate federal or military pension must forfeit one or the other(s).

The Second caveat is that Representatives and Senators may not accept employment as a consultant or lobbyist for five years upon leaving Congress.

And thirdly, Congress must amend every applicable law (including surviving provisions of Obamacare) that gives members (past or present) special privileges or unfair advantage over other citizens.

Congress must represent and lead by example. My personal pledge as a congressional Candidate is to serve no more than 3 terms (6 years). That will allow me time to do what the people elect me to do (without having to spend a majority of my time worrying about reelection), then return to my civilian profession (not a sweetheart lobbying position). (Now, a 3-term pledge is my personal commitment and I would never challenge another candidate… I realize that most candidates who seek National office come from local or State offices and use their prior office as a “springboard” to a Congressional seat. In many cases, they don’t have a private profession to return to. Notwithstanding, 12 years should be the limit.)

I also feel very strongly that a Representative should not serve in Congress with the intent of profiting financially (term limits will help prevent financial motivations). For example, I make a pretty good living as an airline pilot (at an income of around $80,000 last year, we fall within the definition of the “average American family”). My current salary is about half of what I would make as a member of Congress. I pledge that, not only will I fight for a significant cut in Congressional salaries as described above, I will “represent by example” and donate every penny of my Congressional salary more than I would have made that year at my airline to my two favorite charities, Shriners Hospitals for Children and the Wounded Warrior Project – that is a promise.

Additionally, I will not accept (nor will I vote in favor of) any Congressional benefits or healthcare that is better than I pay for myself (Blue Cross/Blue Shield), that I qualify for as a military retiree (TRICARE for Life), or that a resident of Utah may receive. Furthermore, as a military retiree, I qualify for a military retirement. Many Senators and Representatives receive several pensions resulting from their City, State, and prior Federal service… I feel Congressional Representatives should not qualify for, nor should they accept. more than one taxpayer-funded pension. I will continue to look forward to my military retirement and my “wish list” above notwithstanding, I will not accept a Congressional pension.

The Congress and Administration are calling for meaningful cuts in spending and the size of Federal Government. If elected to Congress, I will submit legislation to ensure Congress and the President represent by example by requiring that any further cuts in spending must begin with the pay and benefits of Congressional Representatives, the President and his Cabinet, and their staffs. (Once again, I would never challenge another candidate to give up part of their earned income as I have promised, but I will challenge them to “represent by example” by fighting for term limits and a cut in pay, perks, benefits, and the inflated retirements of themselves and their staffs.)

If these guidelines were to be incorporated into political service, I feel we would get a lot more “citizen office holders” as envisioned by our founding fathers, a lot fewer “career politicians,” and we will reduce the incentives and motivations for an individual seeking office to the only one they should have… to serve the American People.

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