The Great American Sell-Out

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U.S. Capitol

U.S. Capitol (Photo credit: afagen)

Both political parties are selling out the American people, and many Americans are quite happy with that. The budget deal included some tax increases, but those are not as much of a concern as a refusal to cut spending. The same massive deficit spending characteristic of the Bush 2 administration and accelerated beyond anything the country has seen under Mr. Obama will sink the children and grandchildren of Americans. The Republican Party does not have the courage to support massive spending cuts because they are more concerned with staying in power than doing the right thing.

Their fear may be justified. Americans showed that they would support someone who kept bringing in the “benefit” dollars–it is the typical attitude of most (and I mean to say “most”) contemporary Americans: “What’s in it for me?” As if that attitude is not bad enough, most Americans have the view that “I want from the government what helps me and to hell with my children and grandchildren.” Massive deficit spending cannot be sustained long-term–that is basic economics which anyone but an academic can understand. The problem is not as much political ideology as it is old fashioned selfishness. As Americans retreat into their individual worlds, the fate of their children (if they have them) becomes immaterial to their own lust for “free stuff.” Of course there is no “free stuff” that the government gives the people–that money comes from taxes. The United States sells treasury bonds to China and Japan (its main customers) which are only as good as long as the United States can pay up. So far it has, and billions of taxpayer dollars have paid the interest in the national debt. Printing more money to pay off higher deficits will only lessen the dollar’s value.

Apocalyptic books are popular these days, as is speculation about apocalyptic scenarios in real life. Although I am not one of those who store barrels of grain in my house, I understand the concern. Congress and the president will not stop massive federal spending, and when the day of reckoning comes (through China calling us on our debt, a massive loss of value of the dollar, or some other deficit-related catastrophe), it will not be pretty. The 2007 recession (which continues today despite what the mainstream media with its Obama-worship says) will look like child’s play. Now ideological liberals may think that’s a good thing since income distribution will be leveled out. To a liberal ideologue, it would not matter if the United States becomes a third world country. I do not believe most people in Congress want that, but their refusal to discipline themselves is going to damn the country to economic disaster. No money can be spent without the House of Representative’s approval. People in the House need to take their fiduciary responsibility to be good stewards seriously. Conservatives need to vote people into Congress who mean it when they call for federal spending cuts. Those in Congress who refuse to accept fiscal responsibility should be voted out.

I am doubtful that will happen–it seems that most Americans’ characters have been corrupted regarding fiscal responsibility by their own greed and selfishness, by their wanting something for nothing. The American people are being sold out, and only a few voices “crying in the wilderness” speak against the sellout. Ultimately, republics tend to disintegrate by their own hands. The hands of most Americans are wrapped around the fiscal throat of the United States, and they refuse to let go. Sadly, amputation via economic collapse may be the only way to teach them hard lessons about economic reality.

The Republican Leadership and “Getting Along”

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Despite the clear message the majority of voters sent in November that they want government spending controlled and the size of government reduced, the Republican “leadership” insists on continuing the mistakes of the past. They are so concerned to be accepted by the media elites and to “get along” with the Democratic leadership that they have no problem compromising on basic principles. The Tea Party movement attempted to send a message to Congress, but unless the Tea Party freshmen make a stand against the wimpy, weak Republican leadership its electoral victories will come to naught. The recent extension of the Bush tax cuts is a good example. That extension included new spending that further increased the rapidly exploding budget deficit. The Republican leadership seems to have no problem being as eager as the Democrats to sell out the future of the United States for short-term “gains.” When the next Congress is sworn in and convenes, the Republicans had better take the voters seriously–cut government spending (even if Mr. Obama vetos bills) in both domestic and military spending (Republicans must stop being warmongers), reduce the size of government and the number of federal employees, repeal the freedom-denying provisions of the “Patriot Act,” and repeal the parts of the health care bill that entail a massive expansion of federal spending and an increase in size of the federal bureaucracy. The Republicans should not compromise on these issues no matter how much CBS, NBC, MSNBC, and ABC whine about “gridlock” in Congress. The majority of Americans will see through the obvious, open, and fundamentally dishonest bias of the mainstream media and will respect Republicans more for doing the right thing and standing up for the principle of limited government. If the Republican leadership continues the policies of the leadership of the past lame-duck Congress, and if the rest of the Republicans follow suit, they will deserve to lose in the next election–and the nation will deserve a strong third party that is firmly committed to limited government, lower federal spending, and removing the tentacles of the federal bureaucracy from the everyday lives of the American people.

Ignoring Human Nature: The Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

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The United States Senate has followed the vote of the House and repealed the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for homosexuals joining the military services. This policy had allowed homosexuals to serve in the military if they did not publicly state their orientation. Those who did “tell” were often expelled from the military services. Changing this policy is a bad idea. To allow homosexuals to openly state their orientation is a bad idea in a military culture.

Defenders of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” argue that it was discriminatory against homosexuals. But that assumes that homosexuality is equivalent to race or sex, something an individual cannot help and is therefore not a moral issue. This is not the case, however. There may be some role that heredity plays in a homosexual orientation, just as it plays a role in people with a stronger than normal sex drive towards those of the opposite sex. Just as the latter does not make committing adultery morally right, so the former does not make homosexual activity morally right. There is at least an element of choice involved in the decision to have sexual relations with an individual of the same sex.

Now someone might argue that even if the decision to have homosexual intercourse is a moral issue, if someone has a homosexual orientation, he or she should be allowed to openly state that orientation without penalty while joining the military. But just as homosexuality itself goes against human nature, as I have argued in an earlier blog post, so open homosexuality will meet reality face to face in the close quarters of the military. Take two soldiers in a bathroom, with one being an open homosexual. If that homosexual is obviously aroused and the other soldier sees that, he may think that the other solider is turned on by him–and there is then the risk of an argument or worse. In the close quarters of a ship or submarine, the tensions that develop between homosexual and heterosexual soldiers would almost certainly lead to arguments, fist fights, and perhaps worse. The fact that it is the more aggressive homosexuals who parade their sexuality who supported the appeal of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” the most bodes badly for their good relations with fellow soldiers if they join the military. The U. S. Congress, by ignoring facts of human nature and in the name of “nondiscrimination,” will decrease the effectiveness of the military.

The fact that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and some others in the General Officer Corps support the repeal means nothing. General Officers are, to a great extent, political appointees who will support the zeitgeist of the ruling party. There are exceptions, such as the Commandant of the Marine Corps, but the majority of high-ranking General Officers tend to “go with the flow.”  The real test will be how the repeal will affect the daily activities of soldiers, especially soldiers in combat. My sense is that it will harm morale and efficiency in the military, but this is an empirical claim that can theoretically be tested, although causal relationships are difficult to establish in studies involving real life. But if I am right that any action that violates human nature will fail, then this new policy will fail. We shall see.

The Deception of U.S. Unemployment Figures

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Today’s report on U. S. unemployment put the rate at 9.8%. That is bad news in itself, but what is worse is that the actual rate of unemployment is in the double digits. The Clinton Administration changed the way the number of the unemployed were counted by excluding those individuals who had given up and were no longer seeking work. Thus, since the mid-1990s the American public has been fed deceptive figures from the U. S. government.

Statistics is a legitimate field and a good tool for understanding a wide range of data. However, the validity of statistical methods depends on a number of items, including what population on which the data is based. Limiting unemployment figures to those actively seeking work or excluding those whose unemployment benefits were recently extended from government data on unemployment leaves out thousands, perhaps millions, of the unemployed. People stuck in areas with few jobs who cannot find work can easily become discouraged. Some live with family members and help around the house; others live the best they can on government assistance. They are not necessarily lazy people who do not wish to work; they have been beaten down so much by disappointment that they do not try to seek employment. But people who have not looked for a job in the previous four weeks or more are just as unemployed as those individuals who were laid off a week ago. The real unemployment level may be closer to the levels in the latter stages of the Great Depression–close to 15%.

The American people have the right to know the truth from their government. Both political parties have profited from downsizing the true unemployment rate. Congress should insist that unemployment figures include all the unemployed–but since lower figures benefit them, too, it is doubtful that anything will change too. If the American people put sufficient pressure on elected officials to force the Department of Labor Statistics to count all the unemployed, that is the only way the situation could change and the true statistics be revealed. People in power lie enough to the American people without their cynically manipulating the employment statistics to keep them in power.