Monday, February 28, 2011

You Reap What You Sow

The old saying you “reap what you sow” has come to be very true for America, at least for the American People. The American People are reaping what the American Politicians have sown. In the minds of the American People the Government has instilled the idea that debt is good, there is no reason to think about how the debt will be paid, just incur debt to get whatever you wish. Wow, is that ever a change from what anyone born before about 1940 would have said. Have you ever heard stories about your Grandparents waiting to buy a washing machine until they could pay cash? What a novel idea. Yes I know many of the politicians pushing this debt to astronomical amounts falls into the category of those born before the 1940’s; another old saying comes to mind for that, “there’s one in every crowd”. This attitude toward debt is evident in the debt the Federal Government has incurred, the debt our State and local Governments have incurred and in the way the average American lives life on the credit card. The Federal Government perpetrated this attitude in 2008 with the passing of the TARP bill. Instead of letting banks and businesses that were mismanaged fail the Federal Government stepped in and bailed them out; in fact the Government convinced the public this had to be done right away or the world as we know it would fall apart. TARP was followed by the Stimulus Package, the Jobs Package and who knows what else has been slipped through in the middle of the night. All of it increased the Federal Budget, increased the Federal Debt and added generations to the slave roles of the Federal Debt. The individual States are doing the same thing; in fact they are taking as much Federal money as they can, regardless of how much they put into the Federal coffers. All the while the States are writing budgets with larger and larger deficits. Now the general public and the Unions are getting into the act. No one seems to stop and think about where the money they want to spend is coming from or whether it’s really there.

Maybe a few definitions will help. Debt is money that we don’t have but we have already spent. It is money that has been borrowed from foreign Governments, Banks, Businesses and other Government programs (Social Security and Medicare for instance). Eventually, in theory, this money will have to be paid back. The question of the day is what does the Government of the United States do to earn money? If you answered tax its citizens you are right. We do not charge other countries for sending our troops in to protect them or to help with security after a natural disaster. There is no factory in the basement of the Capital building producing goods to be sold. There is no Federal Farm growing and harvesting corn or wheat to be sold to other countries. All the production of goods in this country is by private industry, at least for now. The only way for the Federal Government to raise money is to tax us, the citizens. Of course the Federal Government can tell the Federal Reserve to print more money, which they have done, but all that does is decrease the value of our dollar. When you devalue the dollar it takes more and more to pay off our debt which just gets us into a vicious never-ending circle.

Now look at what deficit is. Deficit is money that we want to spend but haven’t and we also have no idea where it is going to come from. When the Government, any Government, plans its budget it looks at what money it has coming in from taxes and then looks at what money it wants to spend. When the spend column is bigger then the income column that is called deficit. According to the website the last time the Federal debt went down was in 1957, this means the last time the Federal budget was neutral was 1957. Forget all the fancy accounting methods used by politicians, look at the numbers. The politicians will tell you that under President Clinton we ran a surplus and that President Reagan was the most fiscally conservative President we have had. If these statements were true then the deficits would have truly been 0 and the debt would have gone down or at least stayed the same. Go to the website and look, it breaks down the outstanding debt by year, starting in 1791; the scary thing is that throughout that time we have rarely operated with a zero deficit and we have continually carried an ever expanding debt.

I wish I could now say that is it time for the States to rise up and declare their independence and their status as sovereign entities but I can’t, they are just as bad off if not worse. I haven’t researched enough to find out when each of the States stopped running balanced budgets but the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913 did nothing to help the issue I’m sure. Once the Senators were no longer beholding to their State legislatures there was no reason to try and protect the States from mandates by the Federal Government they just could not meet. It also meant that States that had really good politicians were able to get a bigger slice of the Federal pie then they actually deserved. Once again it’s time for a little education, where do State Governments get the money that they spend, again, from the citizens. This is probably the time to bring up the State employees. Before I even get into this, States have to have employees to carry out some functions; functions such as Police, Fire and EMS. Other then that the free enterprise system would work, it could probably work for Police Fire and EMS also but I personally feel it’s best to provide those services to all citizens. For free enterprise to work the local citizenry has to get off their butts and make it happen. Are you starting to get the picture? If you are working and paying taxes you are not only supporting yourself and your family, you are supporting all elected officials for your State at the Local, State and Federal levels. You are also supporting all local, State and Federal employees and untold millions more in Federal and Foreign aid; and you were wondering why you couldn’t get a few bucks ahead. Just as a side note, whenever talk starts about having to balance the budget the first things that seem to be mentioned is that Fire, Police and EMS will have to be cut, don’t believe it, it’s a scare tactic.

At this point you are probably ready to close this and fuss at me about doing nothing but spreading vicious comments about gloom and doom and saying that I’m nuts; saying that all I want is to see all Governments go away. Not true, I’m actually pro Government. I believe we need a Government, just not an out of control Government. What drives me crazy is to see people that actually believe the Government is doing all these things to help them and that anyone that talks the way I do is just trying to hurt them. Not true, in fact that is the exact opposite of how I think and feel. Stop and look, really look at what is happening at all levels of our Government. Look at your State and see what is happening, look at the Federal Government and what they are doing, then look at the people that are in the Government and what they are doing. Have you seen anyone that has yet to say they would forfeit their Federal paycheck to help to balance the budget? What President in recent history has not been wealthy when they entered office? Wealthy enough that they didn’t need the paycheck? None I can think of. None of them showed even the slightest hint of Statesmanship by offering to forfeit their pay, to set an example. Instead of putting the country first they have stayed on the campaign trail throughout their Presidency. They have traveled here and yonder to keep the masses enthralled in them. The current President seems to be the worst to date with his travels here and there and his Whitehouse parties. With that thought in your head now, are they really concerned with the health of the United States? Are they concerned with the poor in the United States? Are they concerned with the economic status of the United States? Sorry, no they aren’t, they are concerned with themselves and the poor in particular are just stepping stones to be used to increase their political power, other stepping stones include Unions and foreign aid.

Now it’s time for a little history lesson. At the inception of the United States as a country the foreign policy was a simple one, remain neutral and maintain trade but stay out of the politics of other countries. That’s simplified but it’s the gist of what they tried to do. We did pretty well up through WWI and even into WWII. In the 1940’s an Army report titled “Guarding the United States and its Outposts” outlined a strategy for establishing bases for American colonies outside the Continental United States and for protecting shipping lanes, such as the Panama Canal. At the end of WWII the United States foreign policy took a major change. The United States began establishing military bases all across the globe; in a sense the United States began a program of colonization. With the establishment of the United Nations in 1945 the concept of foreign aid began. Under the guidance of the UN organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were formed to distribute aid to countries that had been devastated by the war. This later evolved into sending funds to underdeveloped countries. All in all it’s a noble cause, but is it a noble enough cause to run your own country into bankruptcy? Is it a noble enough cause to use it as a cover-up for installing dictators and supplying weapons to freedom fighters just to increase political power? Think about how much money goes into maintaining the foreign bases foreign aid. Is it enough to balance our budget, I’m sure it’s not, but it’s a start. No I’m not an isolationist; I am a believer in non intervention. Much of the unrest that is going on in the Middle East right now can be tied right back to us, the United States. We have supported dictators, the Shah of Iran, President Mubarak, even Suddam Hussen until it was politically incorrect to do so. We trained and armed Osama Bin Laden while Afghanistan was fighting the Russians. Now those ties have come back to haunt us. The Middle East is on fire and we are throwing old alliances under the bus in hopes the new power brokers in the Middle East will play ball with us. Unfortunately we are now supporting some of the most anti-American groups on the planet, all in the name of political power. These alliances are only going to last as long as they are convenient for those in the Middle East to meet their goals. We can no longer stand on the attitude that the enemy of our enemy is our friend. Isn’t it time to look at our own country and protect our borders? Isn’t it time to realize we can not be the Policemen and humanitarians of the world? There are plenty of organizations out there that operate mainly from donations and are more then willing to provide relief. If the Governments got out of our pockets then maybe we could support them as we saw fit, not as the Government saw fit. Our military is so advanced that we can bring all our Soldiers, Sailors and Marines home and still protect the US and its interests. Within a very short period of time we could have bombers over any country with troops getting ready to make landings on the beach. We don’t need to have bases all over the world, we need a stance of these are our borders, cross them and we retaliate, hurt our citizens, we retaliate, any questions, good.

Unfortunately the same attitude is prevalent at the State levels. The recent protests and sit-ins at State capital buildings to support public workers Unions were all for noble causes but once again, are they noble enough to watch the States go right into bankruptcy? Where do the Unions think the money is going to come from to pay for pensions, health care and whatever else they are fighting for, it’s not coming from the pockets of those in power at the State, well not just them, it’s coming from the entire population of the State, or at least all those that are working and paying taxes. Our country as a whole is living in a dream world where everything will be fine as long as we let the Government handle it. If we don’t wake up we are going to be sunk. I’m one of those that will work as long as I can and support myself and my family, I’ll work as long as I think there is hope, but I have my limits. At some point those that think like me will figure out how to survive without paying taxes, yep I said it, without paying taxes. Let the Federal and State Governments figure out where they have gone wrong and let them figure out how to fix it, they obviously don’t want to listen to me or those that think like I do. Answer me this, what happens when a State or a Country has to claim bankruptcy or defaults on its debt? If it were you or I personally we would lose everything. Is that what happens to a State or Country?

Steve Avery

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What A Government Should Be

Just like any week in our country the past couple of weeks have been very interesting. The protests in Egypt that resulted in the resignation of the President brought to light the foreign aide we have sent to Egypt and the misuse of that aide. The President, or should I say former President of Egypt amassed himself quite the fortune over the past 3 decades. No one can say for sure if his fortune came from the foreign aide that we sent over to help the people or not, but amassing a fortune of over 70 Billion in 30 years without having a business is pretty impressive, you can decide for yourself where it came from. The protests in Egypt were the spark that was needed for more protests across the Middle Eastern countries; it also shows how our involvement in foreign countries can backfire on us. Our involvement with Israel, which is spoken of as if we had always been aligned with Israel, is now in jeopardy. Israel is feeling the threat of the increase in radical Muslim power in the Middle East and the current United States administration is not pro-Israel, in fact, my opinion only, the current administration is pro-Muslim. In truth they should be neutral, always should have been neutral and should remain neutral. Our history with Israel is actually quite short.

It was not until after the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963 that the United States formally aligned themselves as a supporter of Israel. Prior to that administrations had gone back and forth with their support, some offering help and funding and others distancing themselves. Since Lyndon B. Johnson took office it has become the duty of all Americans to support Israel, or at least to believe we have always been in support. I’m not knocking the Israelis as much as I’m knocking the intervention of other countries by our country, it can only breed problems for the United States. Admittedly Israel is the home of the Christian faith and regardless of what anyone says, the United States was founded with Christian principles.

The point being is we supported President Mubarak for 30 years only to have our current President throw him under the bus only to open the door for the Muslim Brotherhood. We supported the leader of Iran until his people rose up in protest and now we have the war state of Iran that we have to worry about. We supported the freedom fighters of Afghanistan against the Russians because they were the enemy of our enemy and ended up with Osama Bin Laden, an American trained and armed guerilla fighter that is now supporting and planning attacks against America. Hasn’t America learned the lesson? Keep you nose out of the politics of other countries, if not it’s sure to get bloodied, maybe not now but eventually. Our founders believed this also, they believed we should have trade with any country we wanted to or needed to trade with but align ourselves politically with none. You will arguments that we can’t be that way, we have to have political and military involvement in order to protect our place in the world, really!? Other countries have survived just fine without being the policemen of the planet, without being arrogant enough to think we can tell other countries how they should lead or how they should act.

This arrogance has carried over into our own States, States that are suppose to be sovereign are being told their laws must conform to the Constitution of the United States; sorry but no, they must conform to the Constitution of whichever State we are talking about. What’s worse is the President of the United States is openly supporting the protests going on in Wisconsin right now, protests against the State Government actually trying to balance their budget which goes against local unions having the upper hand. I’m not totally against Unions, I can see where they would protect workers, at the same time I can see where they get to uppity and forget that in some cases, like Government workers, the money is not coming from the State, it’s coming from other tax payers that are having the same struggles. This is not about Unions, this is about what a Government should be, how it should function and how much power it should have. It’s also about my own personal opinion of what the framers of the Constitution thought about Governments.

A Government should be from the bottom up, not the top down, which is what we are seeing now. We are supposed to be a Union of sovereign States that come together for the common good or all. Instead we are a bunch of serfs just trying to please the master in Washington; we are bowing and scrapping at his feet so he will throw us a bone in the form of Federal money. We are suppose to support only the absolute minimal requirements of the Federal Government with equal apportionment to the States; instead we have allowed the Federal Government to run rampant spending money it doesn’t have and we can’t raise all the while begging for more. We have elevated past Congressmen as being great Statesmen because they received more money for their States then their States paid into the Federal system. Just where did that extra money come from? According to various articles I have read for instance, the late Senator Ted Stevens was able to get $1.80 in Federal support for the State of Alaska for every $1.00 that Alaska paid to the Federal Government. So where did this extra $.80 come from? It came from all the other States in the Union. If all States were to receive this kind of Federal funding where would we be? Wait, we are there, we are writing annual budgets were nearly half of it is deficit, in other words, money that we don’t have. There is a solution to this, sure it won’t be easy, but neither will the path we are headed down now.

A Government should work from the bottom up, from the smallest possible group up to the largest entity. Let’s look at it starting with the community I live in. We are a small community with nothing but families and a Volunteer Fire Department. We literally consist of one road that comes off a State Highway. If we were to do things right anything to do with our community would start with the residents of the community. If we wanted our road paved we would get together and have bake sales, raffles, or whatever it took to get the money together to pave the road; if we didn’t want it paved we should get together to decide who would take care of keeping the road passable, jointly, as a community. We should decide whether or not we needed a Police force and how to pay for it, we should decide whether or not we needed something more then the Volunteer Fire Department. If we determine that we needed more then we are capable of then we should go to surrounding communities to try and work together for things like common defense (where have I heard that before?) or fire protection, or emergency medical response. The surrounding communities would not have a say in what we as a community did with our road anymore then my neighbor should not have a say in what I do with my land, as long as it is not something that affects my neighbor, or the next community. Yes I know there can be a lot of discussion and disagreeing on where that line of thought would end, but be reasonable, this is not the final word, only a rough draft of what I think. This process would be carried up as needed to each subsequent level, always the costs would follow. If my community wanted to join with other communities for police protection, we would share in the cost, if we agreed to let the County handle the police protection then each community should have the right to review the cost and each community in that county would pay their fairly apportioned amount. The money should always flow up, not down. Take this to its top conclusion for us, the United States. The United States Government should write a budget and submit it to each of the States. The States in turn should look at the budget and then pay their fairly apportioned amount. At no time should the Federal Government ever pay money to the States, there should be no Federal Income Tax. Is this perfect, the answer to all the problems? No, this is just a rough sketch of what a Government should be.

We have gotten to a point, driven by technology mainly, where we believe everything has to happen yesterday, every product has to be available yesterday, every answer has to be given yesterday. If not then we are behind other countries, we can’t keep up with the Jones’. In some cases I can understand this attitude, if we are not ahead on the technological jobs curve or the technological education curve then we could lose industries and jobs to other countries. OK, I’ll but that, except that Americans as a whole get real attached to the County, their State, shoot, even to their home county and town. I really think the jobs and the workers will be there if the Government will quit trying to fix things. I really believe America can be the greatest country on the planet again if the Government will get out of the way and let things work from the bottom up. Will it happen, unfortunately I don’t believe it will, at least not any time soon.

Steve Avery