Sun 19 Feb 2012
Despotism By Any Other Name. Daniel Hannan is a member of the EU parliament from the UK and a thoughtful, articulate and outspoken conservative. Recently, he addressed the CPAC conference in Washington, DC with a stern and dire warning of the path that we are traveling on as a nation. His speech can be found HERE:
His words at CPAC dovetails with an op-ed piece that he wrote almost a year ago in March 2011 for the WSJ. His astute and prescient words still ring as true today.
If you repeat our mistakes, we know exactly what lies in store for you. — Daniel Hannan
We ignore his warning at our own peril.
It Is Better To Receive Than To Give. A twist on the old saw to be sure, but truer words have never been spoken, I assure you. Approximately 50% of our society is on the receiving end of things, in one form or another, from the federal government. Whether it’s inflated benefits from a lifetime of forced contributions (contributions plus presumed interest that only account for a fraction of what is received), subsidies in the form of housing and food or benefits like a monthly check in the mail for whatever reason, contemporary Americans are increasingly and sadly becoming more co-dependent upon government for their living. So it’s not unexpected when those who productively contribute to society (read: WORK) clamor for reforms and changes to the system to encourage (read: FORCE) others to toil and contribute as well that those who receive show their ire through demonstrations and other overt displays. A prime example is the “Occupy” movement with its numerous squatters campsites scattered throughout the country. This movement was a microcosm of “slacker nation” on full display for all to see and hear. Our nation was regaled with this nonsense for over three months in the fall and early winter of 2011 as the “Occupiers” took to public parks with their protests and succeeded to foul them with human waste and refuse. And we were also treated to an amusing hodgepodge of demands and proposals from a group of protestors who obviously have too much time on their hands and who haven’t worked in a meaningful way in far too long. But isn’t this what it’s like with American society writ large? Our nation is running up record debt and burdening ourselves with record deficits, and we all know that the party must end at some time (lest someone else turn off the lights for us) but we cannot bring ourselves to elect and command our representatives to do what is best for our nation — decrease spending. It is instructive to note that we will find the will to decrease spending on those things constitutionally-mandated, like the military, but we cannot find the will to even broach the subject of entitlement reform or benefit reduction. I guess it really is better to receive than it is to give…that is until there’s no more to receive or to give. But that’s where we are inexorably going as we’ve recently passed the 100% GDP point in our national debt; this number growing every day. With all the “receivers” out there and their high expectations (they voted, now they DEMAND results from Obama’s “stash!”), I imagine we all will have hell to pay when the gravy train derails and the goodies stop flowing. This will all be good, though. It took a long time to learn to be hopelessly co-dependent with the government, so it will take some time for those who are in some cases the results of multi-generational dependence to muster the initiative to go to work each day for their living. We better discover soon as a nation that it is better to give than to receive or else we will have no future to give to our children. And we will be despised by our heirs for our treachery and selfishness.
Obama’s Budget Jackpot! Barack Obama released his 2013 budget without much fanfare last week. As predicted, it maintains the spending tack that has been the hallmark of his past budgets. But critical analysis of the budget by the public at large was overhshadowed in the news by a bit of overt and controversial (to say the least) political maneuvering by Obama and HHS regarding Obamacare and “free” contraception as it relates to the Catholic Church. But as Mark Steyn points out in his brilliant opinion piece in the NRO this weekend, there is a telling component to this budget that is being little talked about:
My favorite bit is Chart 5-1 on page 58 of their 500-page appendix on “Analytical Perspectives.” This is entitled “Publicly Held Debt Under 2013 Budget Policy Projections.” It’s a straight line going straight up before disappearing off the top right-hand corner of the graph in the year 2084 and continuing northeast straight through your eye socket, out the back of your skull, and zooming up to rendezvous with Newt’s space colony on the moon circa 2100. Just to emphasize, this isn’t the doom-laden dystopian fancy of a right-wing apocalyptic loon like me; it’s the official Oval Office version of where America’s headed. In the New York Times–approved “responsible budget” there is no attempt even to pretend to bend the debt curve into something approaching reentry with reality.
As for us doom-mongers, at the House Budget Committee on Thursday, Chairman Paul Ryan produced another chart, this time from the Congressional Budget Office, with an even steeper straight line showing debt rising to 900 percent of GDP and rocketing off the graph circa 2075. America’s treasury secretary, Timmy Geithner the TurboTax Kid, thought the chart would have been even more hilarious if they’d run the numbers into the next millennium: “You could have taken it out to 3000 or to 4000” he chortled, to supportive titters from his aides. Has total societal collapse ever been such a non-stop laugh riot?
“Yeah, right.” replied Ryan. “We cut it off at the end of the century because the economy, according to the CBO, shuts down in 2027 on this path.” — Mark Steyn
The graph that Mark mentions does not simply suggest dereliction of duty by Obama and his financial functionaries, it illustrates it in a textbook manner. I have included a thumbnail of it for your viewing pleasure:
Critical analysis reveals that Chart 5-1 suggests two things: the first is that the Obama administration is under some delusion that we can somehow obliviously spend ourselves into penury without a flitting care in the world; and unfortunately the second is that that graph represents the pinnacle of inter-generational treachery whereby we are spending at such an irresponsible level that we are willfully burdening our children and their children’s children with our debt. This isn’t much of a legacy and birthright to pass on to future generations, huh? But what is all this debt as compared to the worship and adulation that one man, Barack Obama, can reap with his willful disregard of our nation’s future prosperity? Politics, and free rides, are indeed messy things.
The New Nominal. We are on the road to unsustainability at an unsustainably unsustainable rate of debt accumulation as a nation. This is no more evidenced than by our switch of scale when it comes to discussing the federal budget of the United States. We have now eclipse billions and have left that paltry magnitude in the ash heap of history. We are now blazing a new frontier into the domain of trillions. A trillion dollars may not seem like a lot to you, but to me that’s A LOT of walking around money. And considering that our national debt passed the 15 trillion dollar level, we are talking serious shekels here. I recently read a comparison where if we were to stack one million dollar bills atop each other that it would take a stack over a mile high to represent a trillion dollars. So, our present debt puts us safely into low Earth orbit.
How’s the view??
This begs the question: How long before we start talking interstellar levels of debt using billion dollar bills as our reference? At some point it doesn’t matter. At some point the sheer magnitude of the debt number is so huge, it defies comprehension by an individual. But sit and think about this for a moment. One million dollars represents the average LIFETIME earnings of an average citizen (if said citizen is inclined to work in the first place.) There are approximately 150 million wage earners in the USA at the present time — a sad fact given our population is just a touch over 310 million folks. All things being left constant, if we were to give the government 100% of our earnings over our lifetimes, we could indeed service the debt…and perhaps have a little left over for paving roads and groping travelers at airports. But as in our discussion of Chart 5-1 previously, where does that leave our kids? If we are to do anything about this unsustainable debt and associated budget deficits (where our borrowing from foreign adversaries to service it is out of control) we need to reject the “new nominal” that is being forced upon us by the government and this administration. The only reason we even discuss budgets at the 15 trillion dollar level is because we have become a hopeless welfare state, and engaged in a federal spending spree that would even make drunken Russian sailors blush. If we accept the new budgetary vocabulary, the new nominal as it were, then we cede our control and our comprehension of the magnitude of the problem. At some point, the problem becomes too large to adequately grasp because of its sheer size. It literally becomes the immoveable object. And if we are not careful, then we will be trapped beneath its crushing size and weight.