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When Does the Process of “Breaking the Bank” Actually Break It?

27 Oct

Notes from a recent John Stossel column about reckless and dangerous government spending [“Broke U.S. Resumes Spending”].  It speaks for itself.

Begin Excerpt:  [Bolding and italics are mine]

.  .  .  .  [W]hen Congress and President Obama agreed on a deal last week to raise the debt ceiling and resume government spending, people reacted as if a disaster was averted — instead of reacting as if a disaster had resumed. It has.  .  .  .   

For most of the history of America, federal spending never took up more than 5 percent of the economy. . . .

Then came Presidents Johnson and Nixon and the “great society.” . . . Now, if you include local government, government spending makes up more than 40 percent of the economy.  .  .  .

[W]hen Obama campaigned for the presidency, he was very upset about his predecessor’s deficits.

Sen. Obama complained, “The way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the bank of China. … We now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back. … That is irresponsible.”

I agree! $9 trillion in debt is totally irresponsible. That makes it all the more remarkable that just a few years later, under President Obama, debt increased to $17 trillion. But now, suddenly, this vast debt is no longer irresponsible. Today the president says what is irresponsible is for Congress not to constantly raise the debt ceiling .

.  .  .  .  I showed people on the street a chart that documented America’s unsustainable spending. People were horrified and said government “should make cuts.” But when I asked, “What programs would you cut?” most could not name a single significant program.

So let me make some suggestions: Eliminate NPR and PBS funding. Cut foreign aid. End the war on drugs. Kill Fannie and Freddie, which .  .  .  helped cause the financial crisis. Eliminate cabinet departments like Commerce, Energy, Agriculture and Education .  .  .  . (Education is a local function, and the department spending $100 billion a year hasn’t raised test scores one bit.)

Shrink the military by reducing our overseas commitments. Reform Social Security by raising the retirement age. And instead of increasing government involvement in health care, turn Medicare into a self-sustaining insurance program.

But to save America from bankruptcy, we don’t even need to make all those cuts. We could grow our way out of debt if Congress simply froze spending. They won’t do that either, but if they limited spending growth to 2 percent per year, we could balance the budget in just three years.

Limiting government growth is politically difficult, but if we don’t do it, America is doomed.

[End Excerpt]

Can It Get Any Worse in Washington?

18 Oct

I’m not sure that I could be any more disgusted with, and embarrassed by, our boys and girls in Washington.  But, you know, just when I think that, I remember the virtually unlimited ability these guys have to exceed our expectations regarding “dumbicity”.  And bad enough that they cause REAL loss of income across the country with their failure to negotiate, that they LOOK for ways to inflict inconvenience and disappointment upon the American people with how they executed the 16% shutdown, but then they then make sure that their own are protected by voting full back pay to furloughed (spelled v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n-e-d) federal employees.

This is sickening – and scary.

But I have to admit that through all this, I have developed an increasing respect for the wiliness of Democrats and their ability to control the message to the public.  The biggest weapon Democrats wield in their battle to denigrate conservatives and Republicans all over the country is the mainstream media (MSM).  Our journalists, who we once counted on to police our politicians, are overwhelmingly in the Democrats’ camp now.  Even the MSM national news broadcasters blatantly announce as fact that the Republicans carry full responsibility for the “government shutdown”.  [The claim that a 16% shutdown constitutes a government shutdown is itself so farcical as to be worthy of ridicule, were it not such an effective weapon in distributing misleading information to the public – but even Fox News persisted in using the term “government shutdown”, rather than ridiculing the notion.]

And when I think about blame for the 16% shutdown, I am amazed at how the Democrats escape unscathed.  Both the Democrats and Republicans flatly refused to compromise/negotiate in an area that has always been a battle ground for negotiation (contrary to the lies that came forth from Obama, asserting that the American people were being held hostage by a new and terrifying prospect for “shutdown”,  a practice that actually has at least a decades-long history in American politics).

But in spite of neither side wanting to negotiate, in spite of Reid and Boehner BOTH boldly blocking votes in their respective houses of Congress (which Reid did respecting at least thirty economic- and job-related bills during Obama’s first term), in spite of clear lies and vitriol coming out of the Administration – the Republicans alone catch the blame.

Even with allowing for the dominance of a liberal media, the supposed watchdog over improper governing, I am still amazed at the result.

I still think that the only answer to this lack of effectiveness in government is for the American people to “t’row da bums out”.  And to assume that they are ALL bums.

Unfortunately, I think this is about as likely as the total defunding of Obamacare.

Problem is, these elected officials are really all smart people, as individuals.  When they are alone, they talk a good story – they seem dedicated to the principles that made this country great.  And they make their constituents believe that were it not for their wisdom in electing him/her to government office, things would be much more of a mess than they are now.

Then, when these elected/re-elected officials get into a group, the IQ of the collective sinks to below-idiot status.

The American people need to just not listen to any incumbent in the next couple of elections.  The American people need to send a much stronger message to Washington than they did in 2010 – they need to replace ALL incumbents up for re-election in the House and the Senate.  There needs to be a concerted effort to ensure that all incumbents are challenged and beaten in their state primaries.

But this will never happen.

And on we roll toward growing debt, further dumbed down education standards, more government intrusion and control, greatly expanding welfare rolls, Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid systems tumbling toward bankruptcy, a grossly expensive new government program called Obamacare, etc., etc. — and a dysfunctional Congress  It doesn’t take a genius to conclude that this can’t go on indefinitely.

I literally FEAR for our future and the future of our children.

Judging by the Content of Our Character? How Does That Look??

30 Aug

Linda Chavez, ex-liberal turned conservative (she wrote a book about the conversion, An Unlikely Conservative: . . . . ) has a new column out there entitled “The Content of Our Character”, in which she ties together the shameful conditions of many black communities and the recent crude sexual performance of Miley Cyrus on MTV (oh – did she sing, too?).  The glue she uses is the degrading state of culture in America.

She wraps up the excellent column with a short, pithy conclusion about America’s “progress”: [emphasis is mine]

“Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream has been largely fulfilled. We now CAN be judged not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character. And that’s the problem. “

 ‘Nuff said?

The Joys of April 15th

15 Apr

I distinctly remember a time when I was fine with paying my federal income taxes.  Proud to, in fact.  I have paid income tax every year for 45 years, some years a relatively small amount (my military years), and some years huge amounts (by my definition).  But it used to be about how blessed and fortunate I have been.

But the pride has entirely gone now.  And what is worse, I am at a point in life where I have to actually pay money when April 15th rolls around – withholding does not cover the “tab” at this phase of my life.  In fact, over the past several years I have found it galling, disgusting, disturbing, insulting, angering, and downright ridiculous to have to pay money out-of-pocket – to “write a check” – for an additional few thousand dollars (beyond withholding), well knowing that it is going to the most bloated, inefficient, misguided and corrupt organization in the United States – or passing through to millions of people who are on the public dole for no good reason other than they CAN be (and I am NOT talking about the truly needy here).

I believe Andrew Jackson made a comment after the Missouri Compromise of 1821 (?) that he was glad, or hoped, that he would not still be around when the country paid the price for dealing with the slavery issue through such compromises.  He happened to be on the wrong side of history (to say nothing, perhaps, of the wrong side of morality), but I understand his sense of foreboding.

The thought does cross my mind to take the Alfred E. Neuman approach to the destabilization and decline of what has possibly been the greatest, most innovative, most prosperous and most generous nation the world has ever seen – “What, me worry?” – since I expect the country will hold together until my passing.  At least I hope so.

Can we recover?  The only ways I can see a recovery is to 1) regain our moral footing and dedication to founding principles and common sense laws and regulations, 2) eliminate multiculturalism in favor of unity of purpose and culture (i.e., assimilation), 3) prevent the dependent class from achieving majority-voting-block status, and 4) get our financial house in order by constraining the size, reach, and spending of the federal government.

And do I see all these things happening?  Hardly.  But I am a great believer in miracles.

Afterthought:  I find that it is one thing to have money withheld for taxes out of salary, and maybe get some part of it back, and quite another to actually have to pay “extra” out-of-pocket.   Maybe what we need is a tax system in which there is MORE of a requirement to pay out-of-pocket — say, a target to withhold only 50% of estimated tax burden — so that ALL Americans (the tax-paying portion of us, anyway) can feel the pride or anger in writing that extra check to those bozos at the end of the year.  Think the cumulative outrage might get better performance out of them?

Obama Double-Speak

8 Feb

John Stossel, in a recent essay titled, “Obama Is Not King”, points out the seemingly huge disconnect between the man’s words and his actions.  I present a sample of Stossel’s case below, but the full essay can be found at

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/political_commentary/commentary_by_john_stossel/obama_is_not_king

Excerpt:

Just a few years ago, when George W. Bush was president, the Congressional Record shows that Senator Obama said this: “I rise, today, to talk about America’s debt problem. The fact that we are here to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure and our government’s reckless fiscal policies.”

Right!

Sen. Obama went on: “Over the past five years, our federal debt has increased from $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion — and yes, I said trillion with a ‘T’!”

Again, he was right to worry about the debt and right to call it “a hidden domestic enemy … robbing our families and our children and seniors of the retirement and health security they’ve counted on. … It took 42 presidents 224 years to run up only $1 trillion of foreign-held debt. This administration did more than that in just five years.”

It’s hard to believe that Obama chose those words just seven years ago, because now his administration has racked up another $6 trillion in debt.

It’s also a shock that Barack Obama believed this: “America has a debt problem. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.”

Yet this year, he demanded Congress raise the debt limit without conditions .

I want the old Barack Obama back.

End of excerpt.  It speaks for itself.

The Problem with U.S. Fiscal Policy

10 Jan

Recent e-mail message from Star Parker, the black conservative president of CURE – very good quote at the end:

U.S. Fiscal Policy Is Detached from Reality

.  .  .  .

There is an inconvenient truth called reality. There are aspects of reality — things involving behavior and obligations that, unlike a rock falling on your head, can be denied so that, at the moment it’s like it’s not there.

Our political “friends” in Washington welcomed in 2013 for us by turning off the TV, by throwing the unopened bills into the drawer, allowing Americans to enter the New Year under the illusion that something fiscally meaningful has been solved or accomplished.

No one can claim that the problem is lack of information.

Open any newspaper or magazine and there is sure to be at least one report about the spending of our federal government, which now takes almost $1 of every $4 produced by the American economy, or about our trillion dollar budget deficits, to which no end appears in sight, or about our national debt which soon will exceed the value of all the goods and services our whole economy produces in a year, or about the shortfalls of Social Security and Medicare, which together is about five times that.

Doesn’t seem to matter.  .  .  .  Everything will work out. Always does.

Supposedly what we want is a growing, prosperous nation.

But symptomatic of being detached from reality is behaving in ways inconsistent with what you think you are trying to do.

Economic growth happens when success and risk taking is rewarded and sloth and failure is not.

But part of the spending spree that has been going on over recent years has involved bailing out and subsidizing failure — auto companies, banks, green energy.  [I might add “irresponsible individuals” to the list.]

Yet successful small businesses are punished in this fiscal cliff bill. According to the Wall Street Journal, a 2011 Treasury Department study indicated raising taxes on incomes over $500,000 would affect about 750,000 small business and that according to one survey during the fiscal cliff talks, 29 percent of small business heads indicated the result would be less hiring and 32 percent indicated they would invest less.

Meanwhile, not working is being subsidized by further extending unemployment benefits, already having been extended to a mind-boggling 99 weeks.

Which all goes to explain why I was and am opposed to this agreement, which some are celebrating.

That inconvenient truth called reality is something Americans badly need to connect with. If we want all this spending, pay for it. That means everyone. Let’s get the real numbers on the table and lets get out our checkbooks.

If you don’t want to pay, cut the spending.

In the words of the great 19th century French political economist Frederic Bastiat, “When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.”

Most Overused Words and Phrases — My Own List

3 Jan

It’s the time of year for list makers to announce the most tiresome or overused words and phrases thrown around in 2012.  We have all heard two or more of these lists by now, I’m sure.  I have my own list started, and they apply to politics and the media, not to pop culture and teeny boppers.  Here are my starters:

Fiscal Cliff – Politicians and the media have both overused, and misused, this phrase.  Both of them have used the phrase to scare people, to raise emotion where there is little understanding, to totally misrepresent what the real fiscal problems of America are – in other words, what the REAL fiscal cliff is .

Spending Cuts – When was the last time a spending cut was really a spending cut?  I’m sorry, folks, but a reduction in the rate of increased spending does not represent a spending cut.

The One Percent – There will always be a one percent – by definition, in a capitalistic system, someone will always be included in that one percent category.  At face value, the phrase SHOULD represent the aspiration of all Americans, and our rags-to-riches stories should engender great pride in our system of economics.  But more than that, the phrase is meaningless in describing roles and responsibilities.  And that takes us to –

Fair – This magical word that is used so frequently but never defined.  It has attained a kind of ethereal significance, yet with no underlying foundational definition.  An entire presidential campaign was basically run on the notion, “I may not be able to define what’s fair, but I know it when I feel it”.

“You Won’t Believe . . . .” – Clearly the media favorite of all would-be suspense-building events, as in “And you won’t believe what happened next”, or “You won’t believe who is breaking up now”, etc., etc., ad nauseum.

 Surreal – This seems to have become a favorite word within the media and represents a kind of must-use term for interviewees who are asked what some experience was like.

 Entitlements – Folks, “entitlements” are not really entitlements.  They are programs, most of which can be legally done away with by acts of Congress.  Yes, people feel like they are “entitled” to these benefits from the taxpayers, but can’t we change the psychology a little by using alternative identification?  Even using the word “benefits” has a better implication than “entitlements”.

Government Funds, Government Assistance, Government Loans, etc. – When people use these phrases, they obscure the truth of the matter, which is that American taxpayers are having their money diverted into this program, that emergency relief, those school loans, etc.  Can’t we adopt language that makes it clear that the government really owns no money except that which it [profligately] prints?  Why not just tell it like it is – loans from taxpayers, assistance from taxpayers, taxpayer funds?

“Guns don’t kill people – people kill people” – What a ridiculous statement (my opinion – I know I will get blasted for saying this).  Of course guns kill people – just like autos kill people, ladders kill people, bears kill people, knives kill people, etc.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m a card-carrying gun owner.  And I know that all these killing “tools” are in the hands of the primary problem – flawed people.  But phrases that diminish the role of the weapon in the hands of a killer make no sense to me, do not seem constructive when arguing with gun control advocates, and (to me) cheapen the arguments of 2nd Amendment supporters.

I’m sure the list can go on and on – you have other suggestions?