Tag Archives: spending

The Answer to Bad Government

30 May

Mona Charen, in a recent column titled “Why VA Service Won’t Improve”, points out the pitfalls of thinking that firing and hiring at the VA will fix the problems there.  Her last sentence is a classic.

The entire column can be found at



Excerpts:  [Bolding and caps are added by me]

Here’s a not-so-bold prediction: After the press loses interest in the Veterans Affairs scandal, after the investigations have been completed and one or two officials have resigned, nothing will change.

Is this cynicism? Not really. It comes down to one’s view of how much government can achieve by bureaucratic, top-down management.

The progressive project has limitless faith in the capacity of wise managers to run complex systems for the benefit of all. Untainted by the profit motive, bureaucrats can deliver services equitably and efficiently. Every liberal/progressive program has the effect of taking decision-making away from individuals, communities and local governments, and centralizing it in Washington.

President Barack Obama has doggedly championed this approach.

. . . .

Progressives respond that the IHS is simply underfunded — as they regard every federal program except the military. But even Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana found when he examined problems with the IHS that at least one provider was seeing only one patient per day.

It isn’t management; it’s a matter of incentives. No central authority can make a system like the VA or the IHS or Britain’s National Health Service run efficiently. Competition is the only system that gives the power to consumers to reward good service and punish bad. But progressives cannot shed their faith that MORE government is the answer to BAD government, so this story is sure to be repeated.

[End of excerpts]

I feel that the theory that “MORE government is the answer to BAD government” is responsible for most of the truly serious problems we now face in this country.  Everyone should understand that the government should only provide solutions of last resort.  When faced with a problem, its prime directive should be, “How can this problem be solved in the private sector, with minimal regulation and oversight by the government?”  But I fear that ship has sailed . . . .


Stimulus Fail: How The U.S. Spent Its Way Into Disaster

30 Oct

A good, short, and graphic piece on the negative effect of the stimulus and the potentially positive impact of the Tea Party.

Stimulus Fail: How The U.S. Spent Its Way Into Disaster.

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]

Another Great Commentary on Sequestration

7 Mar

Mona Charen has produced a great column titled “Gullible Nation”, in which she cuts right to the core of the sequestration issue and the incompetence in D.C.  Below are the first 5 paragraphs – you can read the entire piece at



Responding to the Obama administration’s operatic warnings of catastrophe for Meals on Wheels for the elderly, Head Start, meat inspections, air traffic controllers, and police, fire, and 911 operators if the government reduces the rate of increase of federal spending by 2 percent, radio host Chris Plante offered the following suggestion: “Since this two percent obviously covers all essential government spending, let’s cut the other 98 percent!”

Even if these “draconian cuts” are implemented, the federal government will spend more this year than it did last year.

Another way to think about it is this: In 2007, the government was 40 percent smaller than it is today. Were poor people sleeping under bridges? Were the elderly starving? Were planes grounded? Was food unsafe to eat?

Here’s another question: Are Americans really this gullible? The president’s doom saying is so absurd that a mature country would hoot him off the stage. As it is, the housebroken media credulously report his obviously partisan scare mongering as fact.

As the sequester has loomed, the president and even many Republicans have argued that these “across the board” spending cuts (they’re actually just reductions in the rate of increase) are “stupid” and “destructive” and so forth. This raises (it doesn’t beg) the question: if cutting spending across the board is so stupid, what does that say about the priorities of the congress and president who passed these spending bills in the first place? If our spending priorities are so out of whack that cutting everything equally is unthinkable, why hasn’t the government adjusted those programs before now?

[End of excerpt]

Beautifully said.

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



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.”


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?