Beyond the Cusp

October 23, 2013

Final Look at Lessons from the Government Shutdown

The shutdown of the Federal Government has passed and things have presumably returned to normal, whatever normal is. The government workers who were furloughed will be receiving their regular pay so they will not be losing money and basically had a short paid vacation without using any of their paid days off. That has appeared to be a dangerous statement to make as those who are of the opinion that the shutdown of the Federal Government was the most dangerous and near catastrophic and reckless act in modern history have catatonic fits screaming something about the government workers had to wait an extra week from their normal pay cycle to receive their salary and don’t we realize that the grossly underpaid government workers all live hand to mouth and paycheck to paycheck and could go hungry, be evicted from their apartment or their house be foreclosed and countless other financial disasters befall them as a result. Never mind that I can assure you that there were no such catastrophes as if one government worker had faced such a personal tragedy the mainstream media would have had them in studios being interviewed 24/7. So, what were the lessons that we should have garnered from the government shutdown?

 

One of the first is that there exist far too many people whose specialty is hyperventilating while screaming about how the sky is falling as they run about with an acorn on their heads. OK, I exaggerated as they did not actually need the acorn. The predictions that the government shutdown was going to destroy the recovery and place the economy into a possible meltdown were pure fantasy and the reports that the government shutdown resulted in over two billion dollars of lost economic activity is simply further proof that way too much of the national economy and the GDP are tied to the government. One story was how West Virginia farmers lost their entire year’s worth of crops because the Department of Agriculture was mostly furloughed and that resulted in their crops not being sprayed with fertilizer and pesticides. If this is a true story then there is a serious problem existing behind the scenes and my bet is that the farmers are not covered by the Federal Insurance Policy unless their every action concerning their crops is first approved by some government overseer. This person is probably a relative to some higher official or some Congress person’s friend who simply stamps every request to take actions in taking care of the crops and might actually not even be able to care for an air fern themselves and knows even less about farm crops. Just about every horror story that was trotted out was also very likely a story that at any other time would have been a report on the obscene intervention of the Federal Government in people’s and business’s everyday life and activities. But there was far more to learn other than the government has grown well past its supposed Constitutional limitations and has permeated far too much of our lives and businesses.

 

Another lesson we learned was that in reality we have three political parties and two of them are working hand in hand against the American people and are simply in office to get reelected and to enrich themselves and their fellow politicians and big donor friends. The two main parties are the Democrat Party and the Progressive Elitist Wing of the Republican Party which also accounts for almost the entire Republican leadership in the Congress. That leaves the smallest party which are those few politicians who are honest in their desire to serve the public which elected them and are willing to go out on a limb and fight for what their supporters want no matter the cost. Where currently most of these public servants are from within the Republican Party, there are some from both the Democrat Party and one Independent that I can think of. I will likely get nailed for this but Bernie Sanders is one of these public servants who campaigns on the exact items and positions he takes while in office. Senator Joseph Lieberman was another such and that cost him the support of his own Democrat Party at the end of his career despite his getting the last laugh as he turned around and won reelection as an independent for his final term in the Senate. The lesson which Joseph Lieberman learned during his final run for the Senate is the same lesson that Senator Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz and Senator Michael Shumway “Mike” Lee along with a number of Representatives from the House who are referred to as the Tea Party Conservatives, whether they are so affiliated or not does not appear to matter as it is a label that the powers that be are attempting to make into a slur and a criticism, are all learning as the leadership and the Progressives from their own Republican Party are reading them the riot act and will likely do everything in their power to unseat them even if it results in a Democrat being elected as they would prefer a Progressive and party be damned. The cannibalistic nature and disrespect shown by these progressives is very revealing and clearly displays their lack of tolerance for anyone who they see as in opposition to their progressive big government programs.

 

One of the most viscous and unseemly of these has been Senator John McCain with the most dangerous one being a man who works his dastardly deeds in the dark recesses behind the scenes named Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. There is one more gentleman in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives whom I feel must be mentioned as they not only are one of my Senators but also my Representative in the House and both men who have proven honorable during this last budget battle, Senator Jim Inhofe and Representative Jim Bridenstine. Senator Inhofe was one of the few established long serving people who took part as a substitute assisting in Senator Cruz’s twenty-four-hour filibuster and Representative Bridenstine has been a reliable Constitutionalist after winning election against the sitting Republican whom everybody had predicted would easily win reelection. Surprise! What we have learned is there is a political movement building that honors the Constitution and is behind a drive to reestablish Constitutional checks and balances, small government, renewed State rights, and an end to the bloated and wasteful over-spending that the bill which ended the shutdown was a perfect example of the problem. There was a set-aside of over one-hundred-fifty-million dollars for the widow of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg, a multi-millionaire at the time of his death. They also budgeted an additional two-plus billion dollars for a dam project for the preservation of the downstream lands. While the entire project concerns both Ohio and Illinois as well as Kentucky, the vast majority of these funds will go to Kentucky which just happens to be Senate Minority Leader McConnell. The most interesting item about this project additional subsidy is that it was proposed by California Senator Barbara Boxer in a not so subtle attempt to allow Senator McConnell to claim that he had nothing to do with the proposed funding as a leading California Democrat Senator Boxer proposed it and he had nothing to do with the idea. The truth is that this was simply a perfect example of one progressive giving a helping hand to a fellow progressive. The Democrat and Republican labels are no longer as important as is their view be it either Progressive big government or Constitutional limited government. There may be a new alignment coming with either a reclaimed Republican Party or possibly the Tea Party label might become a real political party and as soon as it has it will need to be watched and scrutinized from the very outset in order to hold them to their principles, something that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats follow their principles from the middle of the last century, the twentieth century. If spending is not brought under rational control soon then the United States will fail and go the way not of Rome, but of the Weimar Republic. That would be a very sorry state that would rock the entire world and put many national economies in dangerous and precarious states. What will you say when you grandchild asks you what you were doing when the Congress and the Federal Government took the United States over the cliff and into a financial abyss of oblivion?

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

May 21, 2013

For a Healthy, Well Regulated Society Where Every Action is Regulated, Illegal or Mandatory

We live in the era of rule by bureaucracy. The path to this impossibility was a quick slide down a slippery slope of lazy politicians. At some point in time, the early 1960s is my best guess, our elected officials found an easier way to make laws while not needing to understand or research the particulars for the application and implementation of said laws. Their new operational model was they simply passed new legislation that gave a somewhat malleable and vague definition of the target ideas and ideals the legislation was targeted to produce and then assigned to different cabinet departments, cabinet Secretaries, select committees, or even in extreme cases some NGO to make the necessary regulations in order to fulfill the requirements stated and set in the legislation. Never in the wildest imagination of any conspiracy theory was there a more powerful way to slide down the slippery slope to a society where any and every act is either illegal or required or, in the best of cases, both. The epitome and perfection of this procedure will be taking effect throughout the rest of the year and is scheduled to be complete and workable by January 2014; but trust when we tell you that there will be more regulations spawned by this legislation in every year going forward for as far as one can envision. This strangling legislation is the Affordable Care Act which is better known as Obama Care. Most of us probably thought that everything would have been fully fleshed out and completely defined and everything that could possibly be required described in full and complete detail somewhere in the many hundreds of pages of the bill. After all, were we not told by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that we had to pass the bill in order to see what was in the bill? Well, that probably meant something quite different than was understood by most of us.

 

The reality is that within the legislation were hundreds of pages enacting or setting in place the requirement for many items which had absolutely nothing to do with healthcare while also not defining definitively much of anything and simply left amorphous definitions of intent of coverage and systems and left much of the filling in of details and regulations up to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. What is even more worrisome is that when these laws are passed such as Obama Care there is no date which prevents new regulations from being added past that point. This was a peculiarity which President Obama decided provided an unintended plethora of new regulations. In order to mine this gold mine that never stops giving technically, President Obama made a position named Regulations Czar Cass Sunstein with the given job description of reviewing government regulations in order to delete those regulations which are no longer deemed to be fulfilling any necessary purpose. The actual work being performed by Mr. Sunstein is to review all legislation passed into law over the entire history of the United States mining them for potential application of new regulations which serve the intents and ends of the Administration’s legislative and policy aims. Since any new regulations, or any regulations, which are written in order to fulfill the required implementation of passed legislation does not require debate or even the knowledge of Congress and can be completely enacted and implemented by the Administrative branch of the government. Simply put, if the President can produce justification for any regulation within any piece of existing law, then the regulation can be written, implemented, and enforced without the knowledge or action from any other branch of government. If this worries you, welcome to the scariest of secrets with which the Federal government is being grown beyond the wildest dreams of the most ardent fascist or other big government advocate.

 

Now for the really worrisome part of this story, Obama Care. Just imagine what a policy wonk given unlimited power to write regulations with the intent of controlling all actions over such areas as diet, exercise, habits, risky behavior, participation in dangerous sports, accident avoidance, and virtually anything one can imagine a person either participating or avoiding in their lives as long as these regulations can be tied in any manner to healthcare costs. We have seen a small example of such in New York City with Mayor Bloomberg and his smoking ban, trans fat ban, salt limiting, and attempted soda size limitation. When addressing all things which can be considered as potential health risks, where risk is defined as requiring healthcare expenditures, and you quickly realize that everything in life is now legally defined as something that government may choose to regulate. With government health care where the government decides what care you as a patient are entitled to receive, just imagine what requirements can be placed on one so that they can qualify for the best possible care allowed. Your diet can be controlled by requiring a scientifically specified diet with excessively restrictive meal plan. You might also be required to perform specified physical exercise routine. Should your weight deviate from the governmental norms for BMI you could be placed on an even more restricted diet to address your potential health risk. You like trail biking, sky diving, scuba diving, or any other potentially dangerous or injury prone activity? Not if you want healthcare to cover sprains, broken bones or other injuries which could result even if one does not participate in any injury risk behavior. Or perhaps in order to enjoy such activities one would be required to be licensed after taking required instruction which is required for your own good and would presumably teach you the safest manner to participate in your selected activity. Of course the fee for the licenses would be directly proportional to the risks involved in the particular activity. In all honesty, nothing in life is beyond being controlled in order to assure you remain in tip-top healthy shape in order to minimize the likelihood for you to require other than normative healthcare treatments. There is already a system which will likely be the eventuality of Obama Care which is known as the Complete Lives System. This system sets up formulae which are to be used to determine whether or not it would prove to be cost effective for government to provide healthcare services depending on the cost of the care required, the prognosis for success, the age of the patient, and numerous other cold, hard facts which then make the determination whether or not you will be treated. This system almost guarantees that there will be nothing beyond the most basic care provided to the elderly and high cost procedures would also not be approved for youth, especially if the problem will require continued care. This is as impersonal a system and arbiter for the dispensing healthcare as one could ever imagine, but then government has never been accused of being emotional or particularly caring. The future under universal government healthcare, which is inevitable under Obama Care, will result in a tangled web of regulatory requirements and restrictions which will ensnare every life and strangle from them any deviance from whatever is determined to be governmental norm. The other unavoidable result will be the absolute and complete end to personal privacy as in order to assure your life meets all health requirements, your life will necessarily have to be totally monitored. The amount of privacy that remains today, as restrictive as it may seem, will seem like unbelievable freedom in a decade or two when the government has reached the point where it must regulate all activities, diets, exercise, and all else in order to assure the healthiest of populations under its care. After all, it will be for your own good, honest.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

February 10, 2013

President Obama Inadvertently Identifies Historic Economic Ailment

President Obama continued his assault on Congress threatening that they could be responsible for a murder. The victims of this Congressional threat are, according to President Obama, thousands of jobs and the continued improvement we have supposedly been enjoying in the economy. The method with which Congress will bludgeon the economy and jobs to death is the death by thousands, nay, millions of cuts via sequestration. According to President Obama, if the Congress does not accept his proposal to match any spending cuts with equal measure of tax increases through the removal of loopholes and credits, then uncountable numbers of jobs will be lost or never filled as without government subsidies sectors of the economy will relapse into a recession-like collapse. This is the fate the Congress will force on a hapless country where its people are thirsting for the continued supply of government milk to suckle and care for them supplying them with jobs and seeing to their every need. Well, at least this would be reality if those who believe in big government as the solution for everything were to have their way. What President Obama has managed to do with his threats is to point to one of the most dire situations confronting the United States today. Actually, this has been a growing problem since Franklin Delano Roosevelt and greatly enhanced by Lyndon Baines Johnson and numerous other assists along the way to the present. The pinnacle of this monster which has been built one bad idea after another was the farce that some companies, banks, investment, insurance, and other chosen favorites of those in power being sold as too big to fail and thus deserving of millions upon millions of taxpayer’s money. Since the too big to fail was not an Obama original but was inspired by the original bailout which was committed with the approval and blessings of President George W. Bush.

The problem is that such a large percentage of the economy and way too many of our major companies rely almost entirely on government largess, tax allowances, contracts, and in a surprising number of cases, their entire margin of profit. That is one of the problems which rarely is discussed when the entitlement debate comes under scrutiny. There are always numerous pundits willing to blame it on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Welfare, Food Stamps, and any of the other programs which assist individuals. When was the last time the evening news covered the amount of farm aid that goes to ADM, a huge agricultural conglomerate, or timber allotments granted to Weyerhaeuser and Georgia Pacific, or the any of the numerous generous funding of other industries or the customs, tariffs, and other regulations which are used to give advantages to the chosen few? No, the only government funding which is ever challenged are those which go to people, which many will claim are bad enough, and never those given to industrial giants and other large firms who often hold numerous politicians hostage to the funding these firms can put together come campaign time. The story about whose funding pig gets gored when the government decides to take austerity measures to avert fiscal crisis will almost always end with the piggy with the least cash affords the least protection. It is the same game as local, city, county and state governments take when they face times of economic hardship. The first cuts that are threatened are always police, firefighters, libraries, teachers, and the closing of parks and other recreational facilities. They never discuss ending their personal Lear Jet used to fly around the state, the limousines used to take them to dinners and other functions, the helicopter used to make grand entrance at public gatherings, or any of the myriad of perks many of which we regular people would never ever dream exist but are what makes their positions so prized that they make careers out of “public service”. I have always defined their “public service” as the elected potentates allowing the peasants to pay above and beyond the necessary so that they may feel their privileges to which they have become accustom.

Actually, there is a very cozy relationship between big business and big government, something which we were warned would be the end of the American experiment by, of all people, President Dwight David Eisenhower. Yep, Dwight D Eisenhower, the President who gave us such Constitutional projects as the Defense Highway Bill establishing the Interstate Road System for emergencies where it would allow the transport of any and all military transport and fast response by government and which in such times the public would be barred from utilizing, and the Defense College Scholarship Act which gave promising students scholarships in order to assure that we would have sufficient numbers of well-educated youth for use in an ever more advanced weapons and other systems which would be necessary for the competent operation of the military. President Eisenhower claimed to care about the Constitution and sold these programs not as being giveaways to the public for their private betterment or any such nonsense, these were purely programs which would supply necessary and desirable results for the competent and efficient utilization of the United States Military. So, the man who warned us about the, his words, “Military-Industrial Complex” also used the military in order to fund the interstate highway system and give student grants and scholarships because such investments were necessary for an adequate military of the future. Talk about your self-fulfilling prophesies.

The problem with a coupling of big government with big business is that such an arrangement discourages inventiveness, competition, efficiency, and eventually economic growth. If certain companies have an arrangement with government, nothing formal or written, just an understanding between the leadership of both parties and the ownership of the companies, sometimes the two are one and the same as many of our Congressional leaders are heavily invested in the same companies, then it becomes much more difficult if not impossible for a smaller company to come along and compete. As soon as a small company gets a foothold and gives the slightest of hints that they might pose a challenge, a threat to the larger established company, if that company can utilize government to change the playing field making it more difficult on the smaller company, then innovation and other possible benefits of competition are snuffed out. Imagine if the carriage industry of the horse and carriage era had an undue influence on government such that laws could be passed which made it impossible to operate motor vehicles on public roads, we would still be watching carefully where we stepped when crossing the street. Companies such as Ford, Packard, Studebaker, and others would never have been allowed to replace the horse drawn vehicles as government could have enacted laws preventing such progress. This sounds ridiculous but there were such laws implemented in some places. Motor carriages were required to have a man walk ahead of them with a flag by day and a lantern by night warning any people who were riding in their horse drawn carriages that a noisy, smelly, frightening motor vehicle was coming.

So, thank you President Obama for pointing out one of the difficulties plaguing our economy, namely that too much of our economy and too many companies are completely addicted and dependent on government monies which damages the competitiveness and equality of opportunity which damages economic progress. With your plea to the Congress, you have, likely inadvertently, made likely the strongest argument in favor of allowing sequestration to strike government spending thus cutting the effect of government on everything back in size. Perhaps, once we find we can survive just fine with less government across the boards, then we might enact planned sequestrations for the future and continue to make cuts with such abandon until government has been shrunk down to a more manageable size. Who knows, if we allow this to go far enough we might even actually return to Constitutional governance and thus return the real American dream. In case you have lost sight of the real American dream, allow us to remind you. The Founding Fathers had a new and previously unimagined idea which had never before been attempted in the history of mankind. Their revolutionary idea was that man; regular, everyday, run-of-the-mill man was capable of governing themselves. Mankind did not need a King or an oligarchy of his betters to lord over him and direct his life because without their higher wisdom and abilities the common man would be lost and all would fall to pieces in ruination. Instead, the Founding Fathers saw mankind as being fully capable of knowing what was best for him and through self-government they would be able to provide adequate, nay, superior governance than that or any potentate or collection of self-righteous individuals who placed themselves above the common man. Simply put, they did not find the simple man to be that simple. Today we are faced with a megalomaniacal governance that had run afoul of the Constitution and no longer believes in the common man but does believe that the common man must be ruled over by his superiors. We do not need superiors and anyways, you in government are supposed to be working at our pleasure, not the other way around. Read the Declaration of Independence, it is also a founding document if not the founding document. Right there it explains the place of government, to serve at the pleasure of the people having only those powers delegated to it by the people. Perhaps it is time to have a vote of the public and let the people once again decide how much government we need. That is our right and someday soon we just may exercise that right.

Beyond the Cusp

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