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14 January 2013

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The link to the Summary Tables came up snake eyes for me, so I started rummaging around at the whitehouse.gov web site. They have a button for 'Reform & Fiscal Responsibility'. Had to check that out. The first tag line says - 'President Obama has led the way on structuring the government to live within its means through a balanced approach that protects key priorities and ensures that everyone pays their fair share.' There are 4 more great one-liners like that one if you click on 'view next' button. I'm sure even the good folks that wrote these preposterous bits of doggerel were laughing before they were finished typing.
I think we're screwed, George. There aren't enough Americans left that will accept the cuts necessary to balance the budget. And the 'rich' don't possess enough wealth to do the job. I don't see how we can grow the economy fast enough to take care of the mess if interest rates stay at zero. A rise of the prime rate just to 4 or 5 percent will bring the feds and the beggar states to their knees. So - what do the boffins at foggy bottom have in store? Certainly the destruction of the value of the dollar and massive wage and price controls are in the future. As soon as a majority of citizens are used to all-electronic financial transactions, it will be difficult to set up a black market. And black markets are usually the only thing left in bankrupt countries that keep commerce afloat. Stay tuned.

TheMikeyMcD

George, Well written. I can't seem to get anyone to notice that interest expense is large and rates are near ZERO! I would enjoy reading 'solutions' to our spending crisis offered by the progressives out there.


[Is typepad's 'match the characters in the box gauntlet' needed, it is a pain in the bupkis.]

L

George, how about you giving a little refresher course on the role of the Federal Reserve in this little scheme to transfer "interest" payments into the coffers of the big banks who didn't lend any money in the first place?

George Rebane

ScottO 709pm - Have no idea how the Summary Tables got screwed up, but it's fixed now. Please try again.

L 1004pm - good question. Member banks must hold their reserve amounts with the Fed, and they can park excess funds there also instead of lending them out. Because the Fed pays an interest on the total amount, the banks make money by taking no risk and expending no labor in keeping their 'excess amounts' at the Fed. Here's what the Fed says.
http://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/reqresbalances.htm

This practice has been criticized for some time. Here's what the WSJ said last August.
http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2012/08/31/feds-bullard-negative-interest-on-reserves-is-a-stimulus-option/

Ryan Mount

> But even some three-digit progressives are beginning to understand that we’re on the back side of the (gasp!) Laffer Curve, and that raising tax rates will further hobble the economy and lower tax receipts.

Yes but not all. There are still some smug Nobel winners writing for large newspapers* who say things like, "Well, we do have a long term debt problem, but...". And like Grandpa used to say, everything after "the but" doesn't count.

> There is no possibility that we will default on our debt service payment

Right. It's a fiction conjured up for our entertainment. Just like there was no fiscal cliff either. Made up as well. We should be very mindful of how our handlers our manufacturing consent within the electorate. It seems so obvious once we stop and ask the simplest of questions:

"Um, can they just vote to move this 'fiscal cliff' two months into the future when people are so freaked out? What's so special about January 1st? Why not make it March 17th? I'm certain the Republic will survive until then."


* I refuse to utter his name, so henceforth I will refer to said economist as that smug, wooly potato.

Jesus Betterman

So, by reducing the business regulatory environment to that of Bangladesh, America's economy will revive? When we can make it just as cheaply here, as there, and save the transportation cost, America's economy will revive? When labor is no longer allowed to organize, while the capitalists organize new corporations every day, and lobby for pro business laws, America's economy will revive, especially for the middle and working classes?

Ha ha, good one, tell me another.

Ryan Mount

> by reducing the business regulatory environment to that of Bangladesh, America's economy will revive?

No one is advocating that, just like no one is advocating confiscating anyone's guns.

> we can make it just as cheaply here

For commodity goods, that's certainly untrue. Labor drives prices. For innovative goods and services, that tends to be true until they become commodities.

> When labor is no longer allowed to organize

Like who? So the government is taking away guns and unions now? What's next? Our TVs?! Oh the travesty.

> especially for the middle and working classes?

The working classes are already working the drive thru[sic], but no one gave a shit about them until middle skilled white people's job became threatened about 10-15 years ago. Suddenly they're marching on Wall Street taking pictures with their iPhones.

The low hanging fruit of the lazy American lifestyle is being quickly mopped up by people around the globe who are smarter, better trained and hungrier. What do American's have going for them? Answer: some bizarre fantasy that we're #1.

Brad Croul

The debt limit discussion seems kind of stupid when you consider that Congress does not seem to care that it is their spending that results in the debt that keeps bumping into the arbitrary debt ceiling. To argue over the "magic" debt ceiling is just more political theater. This drama, does, however, move financial markets, which creates opportunity for investors. The S&P 500 is close to all time highs again. Time to short the market again?

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=%5EGSPC&t=my&l=on&z=l&q=l&c=

George Rebane

re JesusB 706am - And here we see another exemplar of progressive argument. For antidote see RyanM's 724am and previous RR posts.

Joe Koyote

So what are American workers to do? How can they compete with twelve year old Chinese (or Malaysian, or ???) girls living in indentured servitude making twenty cents an hour working six and half days a week in duty free sweatshops? Already, the average burger flipper who works full time lives below the poverty line. So what do we do, blame workers for being lazy? Doesn't that fly in the face of current stats that say American workers are more productive (for less money) than ever?

Maybe if we took away all of the i-phones and pads and closed down the social media sites, kids might find something else to do besides seek eleven seconds of fame by putting the video of them shooting a bottle rocket out of their nose on U-tube. Oh, but that is interfering with commerce, which should have unbridled freedom to market tobacco to children and poison the land and air.

At some point some lines have to be drawn in the sand. We can’t have it both ways. The general trend seems to be that the solution to our woes is for American workers to accept a lower standard of living in the future. It was, after all, striking unionized workers who brought us the 40 hour week etc., but we are taking away collective bargaining and, thus, any clout or say working people have with regard to their working lives. Should the working class (I thought all humans were created equal, but apparently the “makers” most of whom inherited their fortunes, are a higher life form) just accept the fact that in order for their corporate benefactors to compete in a global economy they can expect to work their entire lives, until they day they die, at some low wage boring job while the corporatists drink Grey Goose Vodka from the penis of an ice statue?

A totally free market system, without regulation, does not work to the benefit of the society or planet at large. Unbridled greed has and continues to be the greatest threat to our humanity. Once a person has the ability to purchase anything and everything they desire, what is the point of accumulating more money? Greed.. but not greed for physical objects, they already have the capacity for that… but greed for power, the need to validate your own existence by controlling others. If I were the writer of the next Star Wars trilogy to be produced by Disney, the story would be about the birth of the Evil Empire on a planet called Earth at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Gregory

JK, if the average American worker can't outproduce an uneducated 12 year old Malay girl, there's a real problem.

BTW the average burger flipper who works full time probably lives with their parents and is not living an impoverished lifestyle. Or they live with other burger flippers sharing expenses to increase their standard of living while they look for something better.

The one adult full time burger flipper I know has some special needs, lives independently and has a family wealth behind him that is beyond my particular dreams of Avarice and therefore, I don't worry about him.

Ryan Mount

> striking unionized workers who brought us the 40 hour week etc., but we are taking away collective bargaining and, thus, any clout or say working people have with regard to their working lives.

Joe. The only real unions left are Government ones to some extent. That's because of the commodity of labor I spoke of above. So we seem to have romantic and nostalgic notions about unions. However the fact of the matter is people are still free to organize, it's just in this era when people hold up their Norma Rae Union signs, the manufacturer simply packs up shop for Thailand. Meanwhile, Norma Rae gets her union.

So then we tax the American business for this bad behavior. Then American business headquarters moves to Bermuda; manufacturing is sourced still in Thailand. Then we tariff their goods. American(well, the now Bermuda) company says, "fine, the middle class Chinese and Indian markets trump the anemic American one anyway."

Anyhow, if we want to compete with the Chinese, we can't. Not at this time at least. And it's not because of a labor imbalance as much as it is a monetary one. China's central bank is fond of "sterlizing" (lovely term, eh?) their currency by buying up US Treasury bonds. This has the effect of depressing wages in China which would normally rise on demand. The net effect of this is we get inexpensive goods, China can control their growing middle class, and our inflation get mopped up by the Communists so Boomers can have a healthy retirement stock market. Note: "sterlization" was one of the things macro-economists said triggered the Great Depression. What could possibly go wrong now?

Where's Mikey on this topic? He would know better than me.

George Rebane

JoeK 1101am - Thank you for reprising that beautiful Leninist preamble for a fundamental transformation of our society and economy. And I do mean that sincerely; your points are well summarized and clearly trumpet an ideology that is resurgent across the land.

The summary, of course, has several yawning errors. For example, you don't understand how worker productivity is measured in an economy (please see any one of my many explanations of this). And who is the "we" that you contemplate taking away anything from citizens in a still free society?

And your implication that we have a "totally free market system" is beyond nonsense. Our markets have been regulated to various extents since day one. Free markets exist temporarily when a new technology (developed by your "greedy" capitalists) again lifts man's quality of life to its next level. But soon those new markets begin to be regulated more and more as government and big corporations begin to collude in ensuring political sinecures and diminished competition (less free markets). A quick review of the arrivals of steam, telegraph, railroads, telephone, automobile, radio, TV, air travel, ... make my point. The personal computer and internet would not have brought us the convenience, education, and enjoyment that we have today, had government put its clammy hand on on those markets - but we have only to wait until you and yours will find a way.

Finally, what "line in the sand" would you draw, what such line can be drawn? Would you deny the world's developing nations their place in the sun, their opportunity to benefit the lives of their citizens. You don't understand that what to you is a low wage and poor working conditions, is to them an advance in their quality of life - they compete for the jobs and do so freely.

It seems that you think setting up an economic Fortress America with state prescribed prices and wages would be the solution to a new socialist happy land that this time might work. Have you learned nothing from the travails of the USSR, eastern Europe, Red China, Cuba, ...? the hundreds of millions that governments have had to kill of their own citizens in their attempts to produce the altruistic Homo Economicus of the collectivist ideal?

What line would you draw where that trumps the information freely set prices communicate about where to most beneficially invest your own time, labor, and money?

The government has already drawn many lines which they keep us from crossing. And every successive line they draw hampers more of those who are and those who can become the Makers. The "most of whom inherited their fortunes" is the special brand of bullshit that people like you freely ladle out from what charitably can be called collectivist thought.

Finally, I do agree with your "greed for power" notion. Government has always been and will always be greedy for more power. Non-competitive corporate giants are the natural buyers of this power. And therein lies the conundrum of unholy alliances. Focusing on inhibiting markets and makers is your grand and enduring error.

Gregory

"> by reducing the business regulatory environment to that of Bangladesh, America's economy will revive?

No one is advocating that, just like no one is advocating confiscating anyone's guns."

To the contrary, here's one elected Democrat:
"In an interview with the Daily Times Herald in Carroll, Iowa, state Rep. Dan Muhlbauer said governments should start confiscating semi-automatic rifles and other firearms."

http://dailycaller.com/2013/01/09/iowa-lawmaker-calls-for-retroactive-gun-bans-confiscations-of-semi-automatic-weapons/

I'm sure there are a number of others, including in the Congress, but most are smart enough to *NOT* come out and say it.

Regarding the debt limit, is it "growth" or just good ol' fashioned hypocrisy for President Obama to be so forceful in his criticizing Congress even considering 'not paying their bills' when Senator Obama voted against raising the debt limit when Bush was in office?

Paul Emery

Gregory

Good one if true. Can you send a link on that

Ryan Mount

> To the contrary, here's one elected Democrat:

OK. OK. *Reasonable* people aren't advocating that because they are smart enough to keep such pronouncements in their heads, as you imply, or because it's a non-starter. Not to mention it's obvious dog whistle implications. The point is I was comparing the rhetoric of both as hyperbole.

Any bets on whether this Iowan politician has armed protection now?

> Senator Obama voted against raising the debt limit when Bush was in office

People aren't paying attention.

Paul Emery

That's Obama voting against the debt limit

Paul Emery

No need to respond Gregory I found it and yes indeed it's true. I love stuff like this-hypocrisy reigns in partisan politics.
Obama wrote:

America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.

In the midst of the first debt-ceiling standoff in 2011, Obama was asked about his flip by ABC's George Stephanopoulos. He chalked it up as a "political vote" and said his mindset changed as President.

"That was just an example of a new senator making what is a political vote as opposed to doing what was important for the country," Obama said then. "And I'm the first one to acknowledge it."

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/obama-voted-against-debt-ceiling-increase-2006-2013-1#ixzz2I5P4HcVk

George Rebane

PaulE 234pm - FYI, Senator Obama's debt limit remarks began airing on Fox, radio (locally KNCO), countless blogs last November (after the election) and recently even on NPR. I apologize for not including it on the appropriate RR posts. Silly me, I thought everyone was aware of it.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2011/04/11/135324119/obamas-aides-he-regrets-his-2006-vote-against-boosting-debt-ceiling

TheMikeyMcD

"Unbridled greed has and continues to be the greatest threat to our humanity" Joe 11:01am

I believe in the exact opposite. Civilizations that harness self interest bless the world whereas those that ignore self interest are enslaved (usually to the collective). Nobody can support self interest as a virtue better than Yaron Brook, IMO (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=615-CBXoPdY).

As a producer I know reality. I know that the regulations in the states FORCE me to use foreign labor. I know that the manipulations of various world currencies FORCE me to use foreign labor. I know that federal central planners have fought for us to use foreign labor (manufacturing is one of the most fragile sectors of an economy so planners have been fighting to offshore it), I know that an American employee has far more rights than an American employer.

Today we have a co-dependancy with China. We NEED them to buy our debt and they NEED us to buy the stuff they manufacture. Screw with that relationship at your own peril.

I still wait for a spending/debt crisis solution from the lefties... I ain't holding my breathe.

I'll give them some hints:

Cut entitlements, broaden the tax base (everybody should pay something), return to a partial gold/silver standard [at least a % of existing and new $ should be covered], no more government funding of college, drill here/drill now, AND balanced budget amendment.

Paul Emery

Well George 3:04 PM , you should give him (Obama) a pass on this the same way you did Romney the Flipper who changed his mind on most everything especially health care and a woman's right to choose.

Paul Emery

Mikey 03:12 PM

Here's a few questions on your recommendations

Cut entitlements,

Would that be across the board cuts to SS and Medicare for existing beneficiaries? How would seniors on fixed incomes pay their bills and feed themselves?

broaden the tax base (everybody should pay something)

Essentially would that would be a tax increase on lower income persons or would there also be an increase on higher incomes who already pay taxes.
,
return to a partial gold/silver standard [at least a % of existing and new $ should be covered],

No comment for now

no more government funding of college,

Would that not mean less opportunity for qualified lower income students to have higher education?

drill here/drill now

What about National Parks and Wildlife Reserves ? Would States and Counties have say in those decisions or would this be a Federal mandate?


, AND balanced budget amendment.


As part of this would you support drastic cuts in national defense?

George Rebane

re PaulE's 357pm - As does his equivalently obtuse 'give a pass to' Obama, so does Paul just blithely ignore the real fiscal cliff that the country is heading for - does NO ONE on the Left understand that we are heading for an even bigger catastrophe than the petty bullshit of seniors having their SS cut today? There is no shred of evidence in the public media that I have been able to find that any socialist in our government understands what are the real fiscal issues the country faces. Absolutely beyond comprehension!

Gregory

Boehner, recounting his 'negotiations' with Obama, recounted how the President objected to the Speaker's claim the country had a spending problem. Obama's POV is that Obamacare has fixed that:
"At one point several weeks ago," Mr. Boehner says, "the president said to me, 'We don't have a spending problem.'" The president's insistence that Washington doesn't have a spending problem, Mr. Boehner says, is predicated on the belief that massive federal deficits stem from what Mr. Obama called "a health-care problem." Mr. Boehner says that after he recovered from his astonishment—"They blame all of the fiscal woes on our health-care system"—he replied: "Clearly we have a health-care problem, which is about to get worse with ObamaCare. But, Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem." He repeated this message so often, he says, that toward the end of the negotiations, the president became irritated and said: "I'm getting tired of hearing you say that."

Madness.

Paul Emery

George

It's pretty cavalier of you to characterize the cutoff of social security to seniors as bullshit. What do you think will happen to those folks if they are tossed out in the street with no income? Also no word from you on the equivalency of Obama and Romney being flippers.

George Rebane

PaulE 917pm - I meant "cut" as in diminished. And what eludes you is that if/when the SS recipients get "tossed out in the street with no income", so will the rest of us, and the streets will be aflame. As in your Denmark la-la land, policies that have been eating the nation's seed corn will suffer tremendously. No socialist wants to ever concede that publicly (watch Hollande writhe). The policy that must be maintained is to keep spending as if there is no tomorrow.

I don't much care about anyone being a "flipper" if that means changing their mind to take into account the most recent information that becomes available. As Keynes asked the journalists pressing him on 'flipping', "When new information came in I changed my mind, what would you do?"

Paul Emery

George 9:41 PM

"streets will be aflame"

Will that be by people expressing their 2nd Amendment Rights option? Can you give me some details of what this will be?

Michael Anderson

My guess is that Obama is getting tired of all the people who call him a socialist (he's not a socialist), working on nothing else but to destroy his presidency.

It's the same crap that happened with Clinton. There are people in this country who don't believe that a legitimately elected president from the Democratic Party has the consent to govern. And they are willing to shut down the government, and destroy the already weak recovery, in order to get their way.

George, I agree that the only way out of this mess is to grow. How does shutting down the federal gov't--closing National Parks, shuttering airports, not paying our troops, ad nauseum--help us grow?

L

Michael A. 10:41p

Obama most certainy is a socialist, everything he says confirms that. Most people on the left are socialists (see Europe), but dems in the US are afraid of the word- stop kidding yourself.

On the other hand, Obama is not a communist. Rather, based on his relationship with crony capatilist corporations, social controls, medical care,labor unions and environmental regulation, he is not only a socialist, but an out-and-out fascist. See Mayor Bloomberg for a comprable misanthrope. L

MikeL

Re: Paul 3:57

I know several hundred senor citizens that would not be effected if their SS and Medicare payments were stopped. Since the US federal government is broke I think means testing would be an appropriate why to cut entitlements. I also think the age to receive benefits should be raised. I know of no reasonable rational person who is advocating throwing grandma off of a cliff or letting her starve.

Every adult should be required to pay at least $120/ year in federal taxes.Surely everyone could afford 10 bucks a month, just imagine how patriotic everyone would feel by knowingly contributing to the well being of the country. Besides why should the majority of the "patriotism" be born by those nasty 1 percenters?

The federal government has shit all over the 10th Amendment so why should they stop now with energy extraction. Since unlike the USFS preventing citizens from using the forest or BLM preventing ranchers from grazing cattle extracting energy from US soil would actually help payoff the US debt.

Michael Anderson

L wrote: "...he is not only a socialist, but an out-and-out fascist."

L [why not give us the rest of the letters in your name?], those two terms are mutually exclusive. But if I had to choose I would go with fascist, which does accurately describe most of the people living inside The Beltway, sycophantic Military/Political/Security Industrial Complex types who are addicted to the drugs of war, poverty, and Orwellian data hording.

Doesn't matter whether they are members of the Republican or Democratic parties, they gorge on the blood of innocents.

George Rebane

PaulE 1035pm - History and current events teach us it is the people used to government transfer payments that riot when these stop or are reduced. Hard to see too many 2nd Amendment supporters in that crowd, they tend to hide and hunker down during such riots.

MichaelA 722am - Quite a series of comments and much appreciated. You are blossoming your belief system here. But a more careful reading of political science and history would teach you that fascism is a form of socialism which is a form of collectivism - semantic taxonomy and all that. Fascism and socialism are definitely NOT "mutually exclusive".

TheMikeyMcD

Michael A you do not fit in a box! To label our politicians as 'fascists' and then promote giving them more power seems a bit illogical. What am I missing?

Posted by: Paul Emery | 15 January 2013 at 03:57 PM
Cut entitlements (increase retirement age, require co-pays for use of medicare [to help insure against fraud, needless visits to Dr., etc], I would not cut payments to existing recipients. I would allow for a means testing IF SS REFUNDED EVERY DOLLAR PAID BY THOSE WITH AMPLE MEANS. ALLOW INDIVIDUALS TO OPT OUT OF SS AND MEDICARE.

Gold Standard: some type of gold standard would help decrease inflation, market manipulation, decrease frequency and magnitude of mkt cycles, and help cut spending.

Broaden the tax base: yes, approx 47% of folks pay ZERO income tax, everyone should pay something [how about a minimum of $100]. Heavily tax government pension payments. The tax rate should be equal for someone making $20k or $20million years (equality). Progressive income tax is immoral.

College Spending: the government should be 100% out of college funding, 100%. Let charities and altuism help fund lower income students. Benefits are too great to list here (lowers gov spending, decreases propensity of worthless degrees, helps insure that education is provided for productive ends, etc). In general I think college is a waste of time and money (with an exception to math/science).

Drill here Drill now: I would rather spill the blood of an animal than send my child to war for oil. Yes, I think ANWR, etc should be exploited [even the most detailed focus on the environment as extreme cost would be better than sending kids to the middle east to die]. I beg for local control on all levels but defense... this includes drilling.

Balanced Budget Amendment: yes cuts to defense may be prudent. However, the gorilla's now and soon are SS, Medicare, interest on debt.

Gregory

" I would allow for a means testing IF SS REFUNDED EVERY DOLLAR PAID BY THOSE WITH AMPLE MEANS. ALLOW INDIVIDUALS TO OPT OUT OF SS AND MEDICARE."

There will eventually be means testing whether or not you would allow for it. Every dollar paid in has already been paid out of one governmental orifice or another, so don't expect any cash out option.

TheMikeyMcD

A boy can dream can't he :) ?

Joe Koyote

As far as cuts and gorillas go.. SS does not contribute to debt.. the problem is fewer workers and more retirees. Had congress not robbed SS for years and years, it wouldn't be a problem at all. One analysis I read stated that increasing the retirement age ultimately results in a greater cut in benefits than just cutting payments directly. Government paid health insurance for its employees, medicare and medicaid all put together account for 21% of the budget. Defense (non-war) spending comes in at 20%, 41% of the world total. The stimulus package cost $787b. Iraq and Afghanistan cost $4 trillion. It is and was not "entitlements" that have bankrupted the country. It is and was wars that benefited the oil cartels. Former fed head Alan Greenspan said is his recent book that anyone who thinks Iraq was about anything but oil is naive. He also said that Bill Clinton was the greatest Republican President in modern times. A book by two French journalists documents U.S. support for the Taliban as a stabilizing force in Afghanistan. Why? The two shortest routes for oil pipelines from the southern oil rich areas of the former USSR to the sea and China are either through Iran or Afghanistan. Iran is obviously out leaving only Afghanistan. Negotiations with the Taliban over the pipeline broke down when the Taliban wanted a larger royalty than the oil companies were offering. Then along came 9/11 and the excuse we needed to take out the Taliban and Iraq. Sending American men and women to fight and die in far off places for Big Oil is obscene. As usual, We the People pay with our treasure and our lives so that big money can profit even more at our expense. Stop the war machine and spend that money on infrastructure and just watch the economy perk up. Defense spending has the least amount of trickle down. We taxpayers will throw trillions of dollars into rebuilding countries that our military decimated (the decimation itself also cost trillions) while the number of poor and hungry in our own country increases daily. Solution: penalize the poor and hungry and retirees while the military-industrial complex robs us blind. But no one says a word about that. It is in the national interest you say. Just what is the "national interest" and are those the interests of the American people or the robber barons?

TheMikeyMcD

Joe 9:56AM: Monetized debt penalizes the poor and hungry through inflation. I am pro-defense (in the literal term) not nation building, preemptive undeclared wars, etc. I am anti war.

The military industrial complex, robber barons, and crony capitalists CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT LARGE/POWERFUL GOVERNMENT. LIMIT THE POWER OF GOVERNMENT AND YOU WILL LIMIT THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, ROBBER BARONS AND CRONY CAPITALISTS.

Yes, SS does contribute to debt. It is our countries largest expense, next is Medical (Medicare/Medicaid), 3rd is defense. Stimulus was idiotic.

TheMikeyMcD

A quick thought on SS, Medicare.

SS/Medicare/FED trust funds are 'invested' in US Government bonds. According to the SS audit committee the fund will be insolvent in approx 18 years, Medicare in 3 to 12 years... at today's all time low interest rates. IF interest rates rise the trust fund will be insolvent SOONER (when interest rates rise the value of existing bonds DECLINES). I can't think of a more damning issue than rising interest rates (thus we see The FED doing insane things to keep rates low, indefinitely).

Who is the biggest holder of US Debt? The taxpayers! (via SS trust, Medicare Trust, Fed Reserve, Pensions, etc) Damned with low rates/yields and damned if rates rise... a central planning, collectivist/socialist nightmare.

L

Michael A, my name is Larry Wirth and I was regular her several years ago, but gave up when our "usual suspects" kept insisting O's debt run-up was 100% caused by Dubya and numbers proving otherwise were simply ignored. I'm not hiding, L is just more convenient. To reinforce George's point: Does "National Socialist German Worker's Party" sound like a Deutsch Tea Party? That is what NAZI abbreviates, and sozialists they were. The idea they weren't was promulgated by liberals (socialists) who didn't want the ignorant to make the connection or notice the similarity of ideology.
Keach, oil piplines crossing from southern Russia would cross at least one other country before Afghanistan and even after crossing it would still have one more transit to reach the sea- Iran or Pakistan. And just where is this oil supposed to be going, Japan? If the destination were India or China, more direct routes are easily available, so no.

Besides, the big oil play in Russia today is the far north, as it is in Canada and should be in the US. The Arctic Ocean wasn't always at the North Pole, ya know.

Our invasion of Afghanistan was directly caused by 9/11 and completely justified, quick and successful. The mistake was thinking we could prevent a recurrence by "nation building" in a neighborhood that has never been a nation state, but is rather a collection of tribal areas. Even Pakistan doesn't make that dumb of a mistake. L

Joe Koyote

It all really depends on how you define large government. Government is a thing, a system of rules, regulations, and rituals and as such, reflects the ideals and interests of those people who hold the jobs. The President is supposedly the initiator of the policies and Congress passes the bills (or not) based on the needs of their monetary benefactors, not the electorate. Government is really about the people. As long as our choices are Tweedly-dee or Tweedly-dum: Bush II/Kerry, Obama/ McCain, Obama/Romney, Bush I/Dukakis. Clinton/Bush.. you name it.. and as long as money (contributions, PACs, etc) mostly determines those choices, nothing will change. A ferocious battle currently takes place between the 45 yard lines because those are the only people who can get together the financial backing to win an election at practically any level. Unfortunately, the solutions lay somewhere beyond the 45 in either direction.

Do I want the people in government policy positions, most of whom in some way or another are tied to some special interest or three, telling me who I can marry or whether I can smoke pot or not, or what god I have to pray to, or how I make my money (as long as I am not causing harm to any people or the planet), etc, etc? NO I DO NOT. Do I think that a corporation or individual has a right to poison and pollute in the name of profit? NO I DO NOT. How many cancers are pollution related and how much money do we spend on treating those cancers? Just from an economic standpoint, the cost:benefit ratio, long term, of allowing gross pollution and the resulting environmental and health costs in return for a very few people gaining huge profits and maybe creating some low paying jobs in the process, is absurd. We spend trillions mitigating the effects of billions. Unless of course you think treating cancer as an industry is a better choice than reducing its frequency.

We need some regulation to protect the common interests from those interests of greed. How many stories of global corporate misdeed from gross pollution, to bribery, to Bhopal, to bank fraud after fraud does it take to recognize a pattern of behavior? The problem is how can we ever elect enough unbiased people when our electoral system is rigged in favor of those same greedy interests that we seek to oust?

Steve Frisch

God, you guys are so ignorant of basic political history that it makes me sick. Nazism and Socialism are not the same thing. George and I have gone around on this, and I have proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he is full of shit. Of course, I don't expect anyone here to be swayed by facts, cited historical references, an entire body of scholars who disagree, and the results of actually looking at the two policies (fascist and socialist) side by side and judging the similarities and differences yourselves. This entire canard that Nazism and Socialism are the same thing is a right wing lie designed to absolve themselves of their own fascist tendencies. Here is how it works: if people believe that fascism and socialism are the same thing then neoconservatives, conservatarians, and crypto-fascists don't get tarnished by the brush of being fascists because we are the main critics of socialism. Larry, with all due respect, you are being led by the nose by propagandists, who are taking advantage of your inadequacies to advance their political agenda. In short, George is a kind of Joseph Goebbels re-incarnated leading you down the road to serfdom (which he should have no problem with me saying since he regularly compares President Obama to any number of communists and genocidal maniacs).

Joe Koyote

Some definitions of fascism taken from random on-line dictionaries:

“any movement, ideology, or attitude that favors dictatorial government, centralized control of private enterprise, repression of all opposition, and extreme nationalism,”

“a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control,” “a political system based on a very powerful leader, state control and extreme pride in country and race, and in which political opposition is not allowed,”

“A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.”

“ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”

Based on this I would say America is closer to being fascist than socialist.

Gregory

"In short, George is a kind of Joseph Goebbels re-incarnated leading you down the road to serfdom."

Someone's off their meds.

Joe Koyote

footnote to history: We also must remember that Wall Street, including Prescott Bush and Avril Harriman, backed the Nazis prior and during (until forced out of business under the "trading with the enemy" act) WWII because Germany was seen as a buffer zone between the Soviets and the rest of Europe. America has never been a fan of socialism and Hitler was a pawn.... like Castro, Saddam, Noriega, and numerous others, that went rogue and had to be dealt with.

Douglas Keachie

"The military industrial complex, robber barons, and crony capitalists CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT LARGE/POWERFUL GOVERNMENT. LIMIT THE POWER OF GOVERNMENT AND YOU WILL LIMIT THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, ROBBER BARONS AND CRONY CAPITALISTS. "

Which is why these things never existed 1860's through to TR?


heheheh

Ryan Mount

Radical --> Liberal --> Moderate <-- Conservative <-- Reactionary

Examples...
Radical = Communism
Liberal = Socialism
Reactionary = Fascism

However I generally find this linear model of the political spectrum to be wanting, which is a generous way to characterize it. But it is the generally accepted model taught in school.

I prefer the Nolan Chart as it introduces Statism (central planning) and Libertarianism (individual liberty) into the Left/Right thing above.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nolan_Chart

I also like the following and had it in mind in my defense the other day of Green Libertarianism:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_Compass

For example, you can have Communism WITHOUT Statism.

Joe Koyote

The original concept of the "Soviet" was a system of city council like forums who discussed the issues of the day with the citizens and then came to a consensus agreement. Each "soviet" then sent delegates to a national congress to discuss/decide the issues of national importance. Similar to our system but without political parties and elections. This system presided over the peaceful end of the monarchy in Russia and the institution of a locally based system of national government. It was called Socialist probably because is was by group consensus rather than majority rule. Then the Bolsheviks came along seized political power (much in the same violent way the Nazis took control in Germany) and the rest is history.

Walt

See the new plates on "O"'s Limo? This is what it reads at the bottom.

" TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION"

It's about the most truthful statement out of him yet.

Like they say,, "you put on your car what you believe in".

And his new plates say it all.

George Rebane

What a marvelous potpourri of comments. SteveF comes along and boldly underlines the thesis that leftwingers resort immediately to ad hominem attacks (even without bumper stickers) in addition to claiming victory in his terminal misunderstanding of the categories of collectivism and what I have written. And in a battle of history with Larry Wirth, whom I know personally, the kindest thing I could say is that Mr Frisch would arrive unarmed. Lest we forget, I leave his 1148am up just to remind us again of the man’s character and intellect.

Then we have people on this very blog who still believe that the stack of Treasurys in the SS Trust Fund (Al Gore’s famous ‘lock box’ presentation) are not part of our national debt. I thought all those people had their high school diplomas repossessed. Truly amazing, but something that needs to be noted and recalled from time to time - ‘Oh yes, isn’t he the guy who still believes that SS doesn’t contribute to national debt.’

And did I also see where someone concluded that communism did not require statism. A remarkable conclusion since the very essence of communist rule requires that the state owns all the nation’s resources to include the means of production and distribution. The confusion must have come from reading about small (utopian) communities that attempted to practice collectivism without the government gun. They all failed in short order as soon as human nature raised its stubborn head again. These included the original Christian communities in the first century and the original organization of the Israeli kibbutzim in the 20th.

Ryan Mount

George, I never said that they were viable over the long term. Just merely that they have and continue to exist. Nor that they were common in the context of the modern nation-state. Now they exist solely due to managed, nostalgic Conservative [gasp] forces.

I certainly don't want to belong to any of them because I'll end up hauling all the wood, as you note.

But it's certainly not a false assertion to say Communism can exist without at central state. It has and will continue into the future. But heck, what lasts long anyway? We're all but a grain of sand on the beach of history.

George Rebane

RyanM 300pm - From your 1250pm "For example, you can have Communism WITHOUT Statism." I didn't know what else to conclude since the most recent, known, draconian, and durable examples of communism have ALL been the penultimate expressions of statism in human existence. (I leave 'ultimate' for technical reasons, because who knows what post-Orwellian form of governance can still befall humanity.) Apologies if I didn't catch your nuance.

Ken Jones

Walt the protest plate refers to the District’s lack of congressional representation. You have representation. You may not like the representative you have and if so you better start with McClintock and now Doug LaMalfa in our district in 2013. But I would suggest reading the entire article or listening closely so you don't make the same error again. I hope you enjoy the next 4 years with President Obama.

Michael Anderson

Thanks Larry...M.

Douglas Keachie

Walt, where's the photo of the WHOLE license plate and frame, top and bottom? Could it be that the top says "NO?"

Douglas Keachie

Or could it just be that like all plates issued in the District of Columbia, that's what it says on the bottom of the standard state plate? Nice try, no cigar.

Paul Emery

So George the future looks pretty bleak, in your view, with blood in the streets due to socialist addiction withdrawals when the country goes broke and cannot provide services. Police and the military will be in full battle gear controlling the streets. They will no doubt be aided by vigilantly militias equipped with the latest weaponry. Of course, if the police and military get too efficient they may challenge or be challenged by the militia and there is where the 2nd Amendment solution plays out. What other scenarios do you see under your vision of the future?

Mikey

Most of which you propose is the cut back and elimination of services and increased taxation to the lower income population. Your flat tax proposal means tax increases for the poor and reductions for the wealthy.

George Rebane

PaulE 842pm - Nice theatrics. What "other scenarios" do I see? Does that little literary jiujitsu mean that I accepted your version? Who can tell? Look at the very disappointed people in Greece, Spain, and now Italy. Unless you think that we Americans are somehow more highly evolved, we'll react pretty much like all people have when the government tit was yanked from their mouths.

earlcrabb

Hey, it's not just doom and gloom on the right. Prepare your "inner bunker" my friends...
http://www.wordpress.peakmoment.tv/conversations/

Gregory

"Police and the military will be in full battle gear controlling the streets."

Paul, in the last LA riots the police just disappeared from difficult areas for days, leaving folks to fend for themselves. There just aren't enough police and military to keep order when order falls apart over a large area.

Douglas Keachie

The South Yuba River Bridges are good choke points, although Bridgeport will be harder to defend. If you make it across, you can all regroup on the Ridge. Last Stand takes place at the 16 to One.

L

SteveF, no, fascism and socialism are not the "same thing," the first is a branch of the second, as is communism. They are the two unalike sides of the same coin. The chief difference in these two collectivist ideologies is that communism demands state ownership of the means of production while fascism 'merely' demands direction of the means of production. The distribution is handled approximately the same in both cases, but history suggests that fascists are much better on the production side, probably because they know they're not capable of growing an economy, while communists (like most socialists) really, really believe they know better how to order every aspect of human existence. Flip a coin- both sides come up as a disaster for the average man. L

TheMikeyMcD

Paul, I don't follow you. We have a different definition of services and a different definition of equality. I am a proponent of CHOICE (voluntary action). Allow me the CHOICE to participate in SS/Medicare. Do you consider SS/Medicare 'services?' Don't FORCE taxpayers to fund a broken college system. Yes, equality requires each individual to be treated equally (re: taxes and the benefits).

More tax payers = more eyes on the politicians. I could change the tax/spend dynamic by changing 1 law:

Employers should not be tax collectors; FORCE employees and employers to pay their own taxes, 2x month to the government.

"Mikey

Most of which you propose is the cut back and elimination of services and increased taxation to the lower income population. Your flat tax proposal means tax increases for the poor and reductions for the wealthy. "

Douglas Keachie

"Employers should not be tax collectors; FORCE employees and employers to pay their own taxes, 2x month to the government."

and let no government agency collect for anything owed to another gov agency, through garnishment.

Paulo McManus

Fiscal cliff, debt limit? After these i don't think the word economical still makes sense. Ed Butowsky i need your expert advice on this matter.

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