|Meltdown Coming||D. C. Rallies|
|Opportunity knocks||Obsolete Technology|
|Classic Riddles||Constitution Day|
|Climate Common Sense||We the People|
MELTDOWN COMING? Bill Morris
The growth in federal deficits cannot continue indefinitely, lest all government revenue be consumed by interest on the government debt. Well before that point was reached, we could expect default via inflation. The result: Misery for all.
Federal government spending, including “entitlements,” must be cut to reverse the trend and start paying off the debt. Any cuts would attract opposition from someone, saying please cut something else, so a package approach is necessary. Rewording a ditty about taxes: "Cut for me, cut for thee, and cut for the fellow behind the tree."
While far from affluent - I drive a 1993 car - I could get along if my Social Security payments were cut 10%. None of my acquaintances seem willing to say the same. Some might accept a 10% Social Security cut, however, if other spending cuts of their choosing were made at the same time. Elimination of the U.S. Department of Education is a favorite among SAFE directors. I did not get the feedback from readers needed for a story on "Favorite Cuts," but the reaction would probably have been similar.
Reason Magazine just published (in the November 2010 issue) an article entitled "How to Slash the State." Sure enough, one of the 14 ways is to "Erase Federal Education Spending." Agriculture and Energy could also be targeted.
Significant cuts in spending are possible. Remember, we listed eight countries in the last newsletter that cut spending by 10% to 30%. Similar action can be, and must be taken in this country - the sooner the better
What can we do as a small organization or as individuals? You can start by sharing this newsletter with someone, handing out photocopies of this article, or forwarding links to the electronic edition (issue #59). http://www.s-a-f-e.org/safe_newsletters.htm
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS – The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has met five times. Their mission impossible is to review all elements of the fiscal problem (spending, entitlements, taxes and deficits) and recommend what to do about it. So far the public and media do not seem to be paying attention, but they will have plenty to say on December 1 when the Commission’s report is scheduled to be voted on.
Extrapolating from discussions to date (videos are posted on line), we expect a laundry list of recommendations from the Commission, e.g., budget process improvements, a haircut for defense spending, elimination of some “tax expenditures” (veiled tax increases), and ideas for a Social Security fix.
Such measures would fall far short of solving the fiscal problem, in our opinion, so we have urged the Commission to act more boldly. Our suggestions include the following:
• Set a challenging goal: The executive order establishing the Commission suggests a goal of reducing the deficit to 3% of Gross Domestic Product by 2015. That would leave political leaders too much wiggle room. There is no reason Congress cannot balance the budget, barring a true national emergency, and Americans should expect no less.
• Diagnose the problem accurately: Surging deficits and debt are not due to declining tax revenues, which except during the current economic slump have been remarkably stable over time. Rather, the root cause is rapid growth in government spending. “Reining in runaway spending and deficits,” Heritage Foundation, 8/17/10.
• Take care of job one: Budget process improvements would not do the trick. Government programs, even entire departments, need to be put on the chopping block. Entitlements must be restructured so they will be sustainable, with big changes for healthcare programs as well as Social Security.
Having run out of time, the Fiscal Commission should propose that the new Congress establish a Spending Reduction Commission by 3/1/11. The SRC would be directed to develop a plan for reducing spending as a percent of Gross Domestic Product to 2000 levels. The reporting deadline would be 5/1/12. Congressional leaders would pledge an up or down vote on the plan before the 2012 elections.
• Support the economy: Government spending is ultimately funded from the output of the U.S. economy, so steps to restore business confidence and support economic recovery would contribute to solving the fiscal problem. Congress should therefore create two additional commissions, also to report before the 2012 elections.
The Tax Simplification Commission would recommend an overhaul of the tax law to reduce the burden on business, broaden the tax base, and be revenue neutral overall.
The Regulatory Common Sense Commission would identify regulations that have outlived their usefulness and/or impose an unjustifiable burden on business.
These recommendations may seem tough to swallow, but the options after a fiscal meltdown would be far more unpalatable.
CLASSIC RIDDLES – What is black and white and read all over? (Answer: a newspaper)
What will go up the chimney down, but not down the chimney up? (Answer: an umbrella)
CLIMATE COMMON SENSE – A group of climate change realists, many with an engineering or scientific background, has organized to challenge the manmade global warming theory. As one of its outreach efforts, CCS hosted a table at Newark Community Day on September 19.
Seven members (Bill Day, Fred DeVries, John Greer, Greg Inskip, Bill Morris, Don Taber, and Jerry Towe) participated. Their main activity was distributing an excellent 8.5 x 5.5 inch flyer, designed by John Greer. http://bit.ly/9qLGKy (click handout).
There was a Sierra Club table at the event to represent the climate alarmist viewpoint, and some passersby stopped to debate with the CCS members. Clearly, winning people over on this issue will take time and determination.
MICROBLOGS – In December 2009, SAFE began a microblog to track and comment on the global warming and energy policy coverage of the [Wilmington] News Journal. This initiative has documented the volume of scientific misinformation and half-baked energy policies with which the public is being barraged. Check out some of our recent entries. http://bit.ly/a5dTii
The causes of climate change might seem to be a scientific question, but there are big bucks at stake for “green energy” research and investments. Moreover, some people would love an excuse for the government to take over the energy sector.
This year’s elections should bring global warming and energy policies to the fore in Delaware. To track what the candidates say about these and other economic issues, and what the winners do about them later, SAFE is starting a second microblog called “Members” (members of Congress from Delaware).
Note: SAFE does not support political candidates. The idea is to review their positions objectively. Here’s the link, feedback please. http://bit.ly/amwnTt
D.C. RALLIES – SAFE directors Steve McClain and Bill Whipple attended the Restoring Honor rally on August 28. Organized by Glenn Beck et al., this event was inspiring, well attended, and only mildly political (no signs!). Here are some of our reflections from the August 30 blog entry.
In sum, it was a thrill to attend this historic event. We enjoyed the celebration of America’s history, national symbols, military service, and voluntary generosity. These elements constitute America’s cultural heritage, which is the glue that holds the country together. Beck is right, too, that America is badly in need of heroes – which he defines as ordinary people who do “the right thing” even when some other course might be easier.
Policy specifics will be important if America’s government is to be straightened out, which is the type of thinking that SAFE tries to do. But unless the American people coalesce around some common principles and values, a happy ending looks improbable.
Glenn Beck and his associates are to be commended for a constructive effort to push the country in the right direction. Let’s hope that their efforts will bear fruit.
We regretfully passed on the 9/12 rally two weeks later, at which demonstrators marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to the U.S. Capitol as was done in 2009. If any readers made the event, please let us hear about your experiences.
There was also a union-organized “One Nation Working Together” rally on October 2, which was intended to whip up enthusiasm for GovCare and other big government programs. Like the Restoring Honor rally, this event was held at the Lincoln Memorial, but it reportedly did not compare in terms of turnout or enthusiasm.
For the time being, that’s probably the last in the series of Washington, D.C. rallies that began in 2009 when the Tea Party movement was taking shape. On the whole, they have had a good effect.
OBSOLETE TECHNOLOGY – To cite a few examples: Printing presses, crank-started automobiles, rotary dial telephones, mimeograph machines, typewriters, black and white TVs, slide projectors, any computer more than ten years (tops) old, and dial-up internet service.
The list seems to be growing faster and faster. Scary!
CONSTITUTION DAY – At SAFE member Harry Thompson’s suggestion, we commemorated Constitution Day (September 13) with a special blog entry that underscored the continuing relevance of this 18th Century document to our 21st Century republic.
Despite considerable changes in interpretation over the years, the Constitution still provides a statement of how the political system is supposed to work that can be used in challenging overreaching by any of the players.
Some examples of overreaching: (1) Congress (by routinely acting beyond its “enumerated powers”); (2) Supreme Court (by amending the Constitution without anyone voting on it); (3) Executive Branch (by selective enforcement of laws enacted by Congress, and flouting a court order); (4) the States (by meddling in federally-regulated areas, e.g., nuclear power).
The conclusion: “We should all think about the Constitution from time to time, and be thankful for the wisdom that went into its design. And if some of our political leaders suggest that the subject be left to staff attorneys, let’s politely remind them of their personal oaths to support this document. Happy Constitution Day, everyone!”
WE THE PEOPLE – Here’s a video (5:19) that some readers might enjoy. Although it includes political content that SAFE does not officially endorse, the message is consistent with our policy agenda. http://bit.ly/9FsmHA
John Boughton, (302) 475-6718
Barry Dorsch, (302) 690-3329
Edgar Fasig, treasurer, (302) 999-0611
Dan Kerrick, (302) 658-7101
Steve McClain, (302) 998-3910
Jerry Martin, (302) 478-5064
Bill Morris, (302) 475-7060
Ryck Stout, (302) 478-9495
Bill Whipple, president, (302) 464-2688
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