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Election 2012: How true are the polls in the presidential race?

by C. Moult, Publisher, Cliffology.com.

The 2012 presidential race has had some of the most up-swings and down-swings in presidential polling history.  The polls have been so volatile that political pundits on both sides of the political spectrum have resorted to political spin to make the case that their candidate is in the lead.


Mr. Romney’s campaign has frequently pointed to huge voter enthusiasm among republicans especially after the first debate in Denver and a surge among independent voters as a guide to why their candidate will win.

On the other hand, president Obama’s campaign has frequently pointed to changing demographics and decent numbers among early voters as a driving force for an Obama victory on November 6.

Thus, the central question of this presidential cycle is how true the predictions are from both campaigns based on the polls.

There are essentially two different ways to look at the presidential polling; one being the national polls and the other being the swing state polls.

When we dive into the national polls, we tend to get a more competitive race where in some polls Mr. Romney seems to be doing quite well and in other polls in this late stage of the race, Mr. Obama seems to be doing quite well nationally just before the election.

The Real Clear Politics average of polls as of noon Monday, November 5th currently shows a 0.4% lead among likely voters nationally in favor of Mr. Obama. This is not a big lead by any means, but it represents an improvement for Mr. Obama from his averages during the aftermath of the first presidential debate in Denver, Colorado where he performed poorly.

The swing state polls are quite competitive as well.  According to the polling averages from many polling organizations such as: Real Clear Politics, Talking Points Memo, Five Thirty Eight and Princeton Election Consortium, Mr. Obama seems to be doing well in enough of the critical swing states to achieve 270 electoral college votes.

Many of the political calculations are centered on why there seem to be such a divergence between the national polls which show a much competitive race between the two candidates and the swing state polls which show a much more favorable race for the president.

One way to look at this is that the Obama campaign had spent much of the summer painting Mr. Romney in the key battleground states as a corporate raider who does not care much for ordinary working people, but who only cares about the rich.

This onslaught of negative advertising in the swing states has left Mr. Romney somewhat scarred and bruised in these states while nationally he has improved in the states where little or no advertising were conducted -- essentially the states that do not matter electorally.

For that reason, polls have shown Mr. Romney improving quite a bit in some southern states where he is already the favorite to win and in some traditional blue states where he is not likely to win such as California, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Minnesota.

Mr. Romney’s improvement in some traditional blue states and his improvement in some of the southern states seem to give a fair assessment of why he seems to have the lead or tie with Mr. Obama in some of the national polls.

However, the problem for Mr. Romney is that this does not necessarily offer up an advantage in the race because the winner of the presidential race will be decided on the Electoral College and will come down to a hand full of key swing states. 

Nonetheless, Mr. Romney’s campaign would attempt to mute this argument by pointing to their lead among independent voters nationally and in some of the swing states as a reason for why they have the advantage.

In many polls, both nationally and in some of the critical swing states, Mr. Romney does have an advantage among voters who identify themselves as independents and often by double digit leads.

Because of this decisive lead, we are left to ask: why is the race essentially a tie nationally?

Frankly, there is a reasonable explanation: voters who classified themselves as independents typically lean to one party or the other and in many cases are not true swing voters.

A study done by Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo has shown that a good sum of adults who are traditionally republicans now classify themselves as independents while many more democrats still consider themselves as democrats and not independents.  This seems to explain why many polls are showing more democrats in their samples than republicans.

To quantify this, let’s look at the fact that both men (Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney) are essentially tied nationally and square that with the fact that on average pollsters tend to give democrats a +7 edge over republicans in their surveys of likely voters.  Also, bear in mind that the +7 edge that democrats typically have over republicans in likely voter surveys, also equates to the exact edge that republicans typically have over democrats among likely independent voters in many of the recent surveys. Thus, if you keep the +7 democratic samples that show up on average in most likely voter surveys and then factor in the +7 republican lead on average in most recent surveys among likely independent voters then you will see that the race is essentially a tie.

The conclusion is that independent voters may not be the deciding factor in this election.  The election will more than likely come down to who can turn out most of their supporters to vote.  The polls this cycle have been extremely volatile and in such a way that each candidate can point to something in the polls to state why their candidate is in a more commanding position to win the election. For Mr. Romney to win, the national polls and battleground state polls must be biased toward him.  On the other hand, for Mr. Obama to win, the national polls and the battleground state polls in this late stage of the race must be accurate as they continue to show him as the slight favorite to win.

Military Spending: Why It Should Not Be Unlimited

by C. Moult, Publisher, Cliffology.com.
In the political sphere, a lot emphasis is placed on the size and scope of the military.

 
The military is a vital part of most countries economic system and is in place to provide protection, security and defense for their citizens. But, there are other elements of a country’s economic system that need attention as well.  With that in mind, a huge political debate can be had on the topic of military spending.

As new technology evolves, the military is often the first to welcome any new technology that offers simplicity, efficiency and speed.  For example, the discovery of computers and the internet have brought about speed, efficiency and simplicity to the up keeping of the military. These technologies have done much to curb military spending and brought about a system where the military can do more with less.

Furthermore, there is no doubt that we face multiple security and military threats throughout the world and countries that are concern about threats are liable to do everything in their power to ensure that  their military capabilities can with stand the threats that are lurking out there.

The question though, is how much of our budget should be allotted to military spending relative to other spending that is necessary for good economic standing.  Many political pundits would argue that cutting military spending and transferring the money to other things such as schooling and research is not a good idea because it compromises the strength of the military.  But, would that be a true assessment?

The truth is that military strength does not only come from the amount of money we spend on the military, but also by how well  a country’s economy is doing overall.  For example, if a country has a debt problem and there comes a point where the country is unable to borrow, the military is likely to suffer in such a scenario because finances that were being used to maintain the military will have to be directed to paying down the debt.

Therefore, the point is that a country with a fairly decent military system and a poor economy like North Korea is technically not at an advantage in terms of its standing in the world.  This is so because its poor economy creates a dependency on other countries to provide food and other resources to its people.  The more dependent a country is on other countries, the more it subtract from its military strength even if it has a fairly decent military.  The reason is that it would not be wise to use your military against countries that you are depending on because if those countries cease to provide the things your country depends on, then your country will crumble along with its military. Hungry soldiers do not run a military for a reason. Therefore, if a country is dependent on another country for food, it is careful not to attack that country because it will suffer when that country ceases to render support (food in this case).  A country with a poor economy and a decent military is equivalent to a gun without a shooter.  A gun is useless in its capabilities if it does not have a handler to trigger its capabilities.

Thus, it is better for a country to have a robust economy overall while having a mediocre military because while a country with a good economy can begot a good military, a country with only a good military cannot begot a good economy unless it uses its military to indulge in piratism, conquership and slavery like in many instances of the past.

Conclusion:

With all these things in mind, a country should make sure that its overall economy is in good standing.  It should not be a country focused only on its military, but a country that also invests in other things that are necessary for growth and long term prosperity.  Thus, the idea of spending unlimited money on the military while other areas of a country’s economy lack growth is an unwise undertaking.  It does a country no good if it has a decent military but a very poor overall economy.  The more independent a country is in terms of producing its own goods and keeping debt to a minimum, the more it will have resources that are vital to promote its military.  Finally, investments in things like energy and research are some of the broader investments a country can make to boost independence, profitability and intern benefit the overall well-being of its military and its economy.

Tax Rates: Flat Taxation Versus Redistributive Taxation

by C. Moult, Publisher, Cliffology.com.
How tax rates should be structured continues to be an ongoing debate in the political atmosphere. There are experts who believe that we should have a flat tax structure while others believe in a redistributive tax structure.

This article will focus on the flat and redistributive tax systems and determine which is most effective in growing an economy.

To determine the effectiveness of each tax structure, we must draw a clear contrast between these two types of taxation:

Flat Tax:

Under a true flat tax structure, all tax payers pay the same tax rate on their respective income and the rates do not vary upon income level or brackets.  Many experts find this tax structure to be simple and less complicated as it eliminates deductions and exemptions and make the taxing process fairer and evenly distributed. But while this is a simpler process, it comes with disadvantages as well.

The main disadvantages are that everyone is expected to pay flat taxes at either a high rate, low rate or medium rate on their income.  In any of these cases, this would not necessarily bode well for the economy because excessive taxation hurts the economy and inversely, too little taxation going into the treasury or federal government hurts the economy as well. The question now becomes—how do you find a reasonable rate of taxes being with held among all income levels.

When people and business are charged too much in taxes, it gets in the way of productivity (ability to buy, sell, spend, hire).  Economies are built around the transfer of goods and services by manufacturers and providers to consumers in the form of buying and selling. Therefore, when taxation is severely high, consumer spending drops because they are taxed more and the production of goods and services drops due to higher operational costs.

Like high taxation, low taxation has the ability to impact an economy in a negative way as well. When taxes are too low, the government has fewer resources to invest in things that are pivotal for economic success. This means fewer resources going into the military, fewer resources for our roads and bridges, fewer resources in urban development, fewer resources in education, science and research.  All these things are necessary for a balanced; robust economy and many of which are most effectively accomplished through the public sector.

Redistributive or Progressive Tax:

A redistributive or progressive tax structure is a structure in which your income level determines the tax rate that you pay. For example, people who make significantly less income and often those at the poverty-line pay little or no income tax. In contrast, people who make significantly more in income will pay taxes at a higher rate.

Redistributive taxation can have a very stimulative effect on economic growth. To best understand this system of taxation, you should look at it from the stand point of wealth versus the not so wealthy.

When big businesses and people with very high income spend, it quickly reaches a point of plateau because they are no longer in need. For example, big businesses will start to hire little or no workers and wealthy people spend less because they already accomplished many of the things that they need and therefore triggering them to save more and spend less.  As a result, this does very little to spur economic growth.

Because of this plateau effect where wealthy people and big businesses as a share of the economy have less effect on economic growth due to a lack of participation in spending and hiring as they get wealthier, economic experts find it savvy to tax the wealthy more and redistribute the taxed income to other areas where economic growth is needed. This is often a clever method as long as over taxation does not occur and such that their rate is not too high or too low.

Economies tend to grow faster when high earners and big businesses are taxed at a medium-high rate while the middle class and small businesses are taxed at a medium-low rate.

The reason why economic growth is so pronounced when middle income earners and small businesses pay taxes at a lower rate relative to big businesses is because middle class people and small businesses spend more money as a share of the economy. Ordinary people have no choice but to continuously spend money on basic needs and necessities. For example, food, clothes, shoes, home (shelter) or if a refrigerator or stove is broken they will buy another one or get it repaired. Similarly, small businesses spend and hire more workers as a share of the economy than big businesses because of their growing need to expand and keep up with rapid demands from their customers.

Because these economic demographics play such a vital role in hiring, buying, and selling, it is important that their taxes are kept low to avoid productivity impediments and spur large scale growth. Members of the big business and high income community do not have to fret when paying slightly higher taxes at the expense of investment in small business and the middle class because they too will always benefit when small businesses and the middle class thrive. This is so because there will be more demand in the market place for goods and services due to consumers having more money to spend.

Summary:

The United States and other democratic countries have long utilized the redistributive/progressive taxation method. What this type of taxation does is create an equal playing field such that lower income people and small businesses can be put on course to help propel the economy forward.  Though this type of taxation can be politically controversial, it can play a role in balancing out an economy and create broader success ratios among people and businesses. When more people in an economy do well, the economy as a whole tends to benefit a great deal. The progressive or redistributive taxation system should not be seen as a waste, but an investment. Countries that invest more tend to be rewarded with robust economies and countries that invest less tend to experience stagnation.  While the flat tax method is simple, the redistributive tax method when structured properly, will amount to better, balanced and more well-round economic growth.

Preparing For Weight Loss

by C. Moult, Publisher, Cliffology.com.

Losing weight can be a challenge for a lot of people. When it comes to losing weight, the gravitation pull towards the need to get in shape and the desire to continue your current habit of eating too much or not getting enough exercise can make all the difference in respect to whether you will lose weight or not.

                Ultimately, when it comes to losing weight, a decision will have to be made at some point. The first thing a person needs to know is what is causing the weight gain or the inability to lose weight.

Once you have established the reason for weight gain or lack of weight loss, you will need to make plans to lose the weight. Losing weight will not happen only on the merits of having a desire to lose weight. Thus, this desire will have to be followed by some actions.  If you find that you are gaining weigh because you are eating too much, then you will have to make some dietary adjustments. The fact of the matter is, you will simply not achieve your goal if you continue to fuel the things that are keeping you from attaining those goals. Like every other thing in life, you will have to remove some mountains before you can achieve your goal.

Now let us dive into the process in which weight loss will occur. Assuming that you do not have a medical imbalance, weight loss will occur when the actual amount of calories that you consume is less than the amount of calories that you burn from doing activities. Inversely, if the amount of calories that you consume is greater than the amount of calories that you burn, then you will gain weight instead of losing it. If your calorie intake and your calorie exhaustion are at the same level, then your weight will be static -- meaning that you will neither gain nor lose weight.

Three Common Excuses for not losing weight:

·         I do not have the time to lose weight -- For those who would say that they do not have the time to commit to losing weight, I would say that losing weight can occur on the dietary side as well. You do not necessarily have to go to a gym to lose weight. As stated earlier in this article, weight loss usually occurs when the amount of calories that you consume is less that the amount of calories that you burn through activities. Therefore, if you do not have the time to go for a walk or a jog, then you will need to lower your calorie intake significantly to make up for the lack of activities.

·         I am not motivated – It is true that many people want to lose weight, but are not motivated enough to get it done. The fact is, you will have to have some levels of motivation to lose weight. If not, it will not happen. If you feel that you need to be accompanied by someone to go walking, jogging or to the gym, then by all means find a partner to do it with.

·         I am too lazy – Depending on the amount of weight you are trying to lose, being lazy can be a losing battle. This makes eating significantly less calories all the more important. Keep in mind that starving on the other hand is not a good thing.

To lose weight, one will have to overcome each obstacle. Again, if you continue to do the things that aid the lack of weight loss, then weight loss will not occur.

Some Steps to lose weight:

·         Consume less calories than you burn – As stated earlier, when you abide by this principle, weight loss will begin to go in motion because the body is programmed to lose density when you shift from a higher calorie intake to a lower calorie intake.

·         Choose foods that are high in protein and low in fat This is a good method because high protein foods tend to make you feel full. Therefore, when you feel full, you are less likely to consume too many calories because you feel satisfied. Examples: lean steak, grilled chicken and high protein lean shake.

·         Choose foods that are high in fiber – Like high protein foods, foods high in fiber also make you feel full. Thus, making the likelihood of consuming too many calories relatively low. Examples: apples, high fiber bread and oatmeal.

Finally, let us presume that you have a desire to lose weight and you have all the tools at your disposure to make it happen, the question now would be -- what would cause you not to lose weight? The number one reason why people would have a desire to lose weight and the tools to achieve that desire and yet not attempt to lose weight is because of a lack of motivation. Motivation is not something that you can tangibly coach. In fact, it is a mental thing. The best way to be motivated is to zero in on your goal. If you prefer the goal that you are trying to achieve than the status quo, then you should have no problems being motivated. Ask yourself the question…do I prefer to eat in a gluttonous way and be fat than to eat in a moderate way and stay in shape? You should weigh your priorities and decide what means the most to you.

5 Ways To Help End Poverty

by C. Moult, Publisher, Cliffology.com. Photo credit: Reuters.          
Poverty is by no means a celebrative aspect of any culture. Most people aspire to accomplish some level of wealth in their lives. Yet, we have an astounding level of poverty in our world. To be clear, poverty takes into account inheritance, physical value of property owned including house, land, car and cash. Now before we can begin to solve poverty, we must first have an understanding of what causes poverty in the first place.


One instance of poverty stems from birth in which a child grows up in a household where the parent or parents do not have much to offer the child. In this case, the child is almost destined to be poor throughout his or her adult life. With the exception of rape, mothers have the freedom to conceive a child no matter what their quality of life is with respect to wealth prior to conception. It can get tricky when ask if poor mothers deserve to have children. But to answer this, you would have to first wonder what types of opportunities await the child. Though unlikely, it is still not impossible for a child to become successful in spite growing up in a poor household.

A second instance of poverty derives from poor decisions in adulthood. Some folks are not poor because they were born poor. Instead, they made terrible decisions in their lives such as going to jail. Going to jail can hurt one’s credibility and can cause such lack of trust that no one will want to take a chance of hiring you for a job.

Third, poverty can come about if people possess a lack of hard work, drive, and passion for success. It is true that people who are motivated to succeed will more often than not succeed. For the most part, this world is filled with plenty of opportunities for people to aspire to as long as they are willing to do so.

This article only highlights three instances to which poverty can occur, but there are other scenarios that can spur poverty. Below is a list of five ways to help eradicate poverty.

(1)    Have strategies to raise children before having children – Before you decide to have a child, a great deal of planning should be waged to outline the path to the child’s prosperity. That path should include looking at the financial stability of the potential parents. Potential parents should look at ways to be able to provide the child’s basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing and schooling. If these needs cannot be met, then it is fair to say that you are not ready to have a child.

(2)    Independence and Self-reliance – Independence and self-reliance are good habits to have and people should develop these habits at an early stage in life. Let us face it, parents will not be around forever, but even if that were to be possible, it serves no good to be dependent. The reason is that when you are dependent on someone, you cannot fully control the stream of support that you are depending on. On the other hand, when you are independent, you can control your destiny more fluidly and make adjustments to achieve even greater success.  Besides, self-reliance puts you in a position not only to take, but to be able to give, provide and create.

(3)    Make Good Decisions – Many times people are not poor because of lack of resources, but instead, by making poor decisions. We often hear of people who had money but yet became poor because they were bad managers of their own resources. You may not be wealthy, but it can go a long way when you spend wisely and live within your means.

(4)    Hard Work and Passion for Success – One of the best ways to combat poverty is through hard work and a passion for success in many shapes and forms. Being diligent and having a work ethic can make a big difference in one’s life because hard work tends to pay off. We should relentlessly encourage each other to find their passion and work hard to succeed at it. Another person’s hard work not only provides opportunities for that person, but also to others. For example, we are benefiting from the work of people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs via products like Microsoft and Apple respectively.
(5)    Goodwill – A very noble way to help eradicate poverty is by way of goodwill. When you give back to your community in smart ways that help to uplift people, you are not only helping those people, but you are also helping to create a better environment for yourself. We know that not everyone will escape the grip of poverty. Those who are unlucky to escape this grip, should not be allowed to wither away and perish. In fact, we should help them realize their potential and motivate them toward achieving their own success.