Beyond the Cusp

October 3, 2013

Some Truths About the Government Shutdown

The main truth about the Federal Government shutdown is that what the holier than thou politicians claim is being destroyed, aggravated, or other wording describing deleterious effects are mostly false representations. Perhaps the most pernicious lie is that the furloughed government workers will not be paid. Where they are not currently receiving their paychecks, once the budgetary crisis is over the Congress will quietly pass and the President will sign without the usual fanfare of a press presence a bill which will pay the furloughed government employees all of their missed back pay to cover the entirety of the shutdown. Are some of these employees facing difficulties because of the shutdown? Yes, there are likely some who may be having some problems needing to use credit cards to buy groceries or should the shutdown last into the next month there will be those who may need to make arrangements to pay mortgages or rents late, which entails making a phone call as most lenders and landlords will work with these few government workers and wait until they receive the inevitable pay for the days not worked. Another lie is that the vast majority of Federal Government employees have been furloughed. The truth is well over half, some have figured it to be as many as three-fourths of Federal Government employees are still on the job. One thing you can be assured of is that any furloughed government employee who normally would have had direct contact with the public will have the services they provide all of a sudden becoming front page news to emphasize the horrible repercussions of the budget battle.

 

Then there are the falsehoods over who is to blame for the shutdown. It is a normal response for people to want to find somebody to blame for every perceived evil or even simple difficulty. The Federal Government shutdown is no exception and the media will gladly point you to those whose lack of flexibility forced the shutdown and those responsible according to media are the Republicans. There is some truth to this claim as the House of Representatives passed legislation that would have allowed for the continued operation of the government provided that the Presidents healthcare program was not funded. The Democrat controlled Senate also passed the Continuing Resolution to keep the government operating but struck the wording which would have prevented funding Obama Care, or the Affordable Care Act if you prefer. The President also promised that even should the Senate agree or find a compromise with the House of Representatives to continue the funding with some delay or reduction in funding for the healthcare act then he would veto it until he received a budget bill which fully financed Obama Care. It is obvious that the Republicans in the House of Representatives are being inflexible in their demand to defund the Affordable Care Act but the President and Democrat controlled Senate are equally adamant to totally fund the Affordable Care Act. There is a secondary story behind the shutdown which revolves around funding for Food Stamps. The media spin is that the Republicans want to dramatically cut funding for Food Stamps. This is the old standard lie which the media has employed for decades if not centuries where since the Democrats are proposing an increase in Food Stamp funding by seventy-five-percent and the Republicans merely want to allow the increase to be approximately fifty-percent then obviously the Republican increasing Food Stamp funding by just two-thirds as much as the Democrats wish then obviously that funding increase is a massive cut.

 

Meanwhile, while the Federal Government is working under only essential personnel we also have the rollout of Obama Care. The “Market Place” web site where one can research and maybe even purchase health coverage is supposedly running and those employees required to run Obama Care are on the job as essential workers. Where some of them will be toiling away trying to make the web presence for the Affordable Care Act actually function and serve the public, the rest of the support employees may be finding something to do difficult as it appears that most of the government functions for this service are not quite ready for prime time. Other considered essential employees are those who bring us PBS radio and television. You have no idea what a load off my mind that little fact has relieved as how could we ever make it through the day without PBS. There will be some severe ramifications of the shutdown. The members of Congress will no longer have elevator assistance as the employees who had the position to press the buttons on the elevators for the Congressional employees have been furloughed. The White House staff will be operating with what has been deemed to be a skeleton level of staffing but we have been assured that there will continue to be full levels of staffing of the Secret Service guarding the President and all others who normally are kept safe by the Secret Service.

 

The real problem which could result from a prolonged Federal Government shutdown would be the public coming to the realization that the vast majority of nonessential services really are exactly that, nonessential. The shutdown may lead the people to discover that former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi might have been slightly exaggerating when she complained last week that there was not one single dollar which could be cut as government had already been cut to the bone. Dear, dear Nancy, if the government was cut so bare how is it there were nonessential personnel to furlough because of the shutdown. There is a suggestion which would help the Federal Government to reduce the federal budget, what many might call drastically and other would claim it merely a good start, which would be to strictly enforce the limitations placed on the Federal Government and the functions it is permitted to perform by the Constitution. Particular attention should be placed on the application of the Tenth Amendment. By enforcing the Constitution and its limitations on the purview of the Federal Government, the states would be empowered to perform numerous functions without having to meet or be constrained by Federal Government oversight and regulations. This would allow each of the fifty states (fifty-seven if you agree with President Obama) to independently decide on how to address and tailor each of these programs such as education, welfare, unemployment and almost uncountable other programs. In time the methods utilized by the more successful states would be proven as advantageous and thus some form of them would spread to the other states. There would also be different variations in what programs would be considered vital and how the different programs would be funded allowing for the people to reside in whatever state best matched their personal politics. This relegating much of the day-to-day operations of governance to the individual states allows for a form of governmental evolution as each state becomes its own experiment in how to address governance which would eventually lead to greater efficiency in governance, something much needed as the Federal Government has mutated into a leviathan which feeds upon the people while telling them it is all for their own good. The time has come to bring government back to the local arena such that it is more accessible to the people it is supposed to serve, not to lord over as the dictator of all you do. If once the states receive these additional responsibilities it would be a good idea for them to pass as much as feasible down further to the county and city governments where the people have a real and potent voice should they choose to use it. It is time to return government to where it is for the people, by the people, and, most important, of the people.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

March 5, 2013

Solution for United States, Back to Basics, the Constitution

The United States has managed since the turn of the century to take a budgetary surplus and strong economy and turn the economy on its head while having two Presidents, one from each the Democrats and the Republicans, spend the nation into depths of deficit spending and rising national debt rivaling that of the worst of Europe. With the spiraling increases in the debt of the United States reaching levels that have required a number of increases in the established debt ceiling simply to make interest payments and meet salaries and other budget necessities, the United States has found itself in the position of having to monetize its own debt as China and much of the rest of the world refuse to invest in what is seen as a lost cause driving headlong into financial oblivion. Despite predictions from leading economists, the public does not appear to hold much trepidation towards the financial catastrophe which is looming if something is not done to address the ever bulging deficit spending and the massive amounts being added to the national debt. The manufactured crisis at the end of last year labeled the Fiscal Cliff turned into more of a showcase for pontificating politicians and gasping talking heads all attempting to work up some concern with the public mostly to no avail. Then, even when the politicians simply kicked the can down the road for a few months, there was no eruption of shock or anger but simply a collective shrug of indifference. The neglect shown towards fiscal responsibility by the Washington elite has been a perfect representation of indifference and replete with total disregard to any consequences or warning which predicted the potential doom that would eventually result if spending was continued with such disregard.

 

The one semi-amusing side effect of the fiscal mismanagement has been the many disparate solutions, warnings, predictions, and long winded prognostications given from all fronts and political orientations which managed to cover almost every angle one could imagine. There have been those who claim that the government was executing the correct fiscal plan by applying increased government spending which would boost the economy resulting in collected taxes covering the increased spending and then some thus solving the problems. Others have called for austerity measures and universal spending cuts across the board as the only way to address the deficit problems. There have been calls to increase taxes, decrease taxes, end many tax deductions, go to a flat tax, and just about any other tax program ever invented, all of them come replete with graphs, spread sheets, and pages of justifications which show that each and every solution should produce the desired results. Perhaps the complete idiocy existing in the economic and fiscal debate where every possible solution can be shown to work despite many being polar opposites, it is no wonder that the public has simply disowned the problem and just walked away. How can anybody care when everything is claimed to be the solution and everything that is done simply makes the problem that much worse.

 

What is needed is a vision which has a historic record of proven fiscal success which cannot be dismissed. Oddly enough, the United States has what might be the best guide to fiscal and economic success and productivity. The really strange thing about this guide is that even though it has never been followed to the letter, simply making a concerted and honest effort to run the government by its dictates and restrictions have resulted in nearly one-hundred-fifty years of economic stability and low, often no, taxes. This guideline is what may eventually be proven to be the greatest single document providing a blueprint for responsible governance. The document, of course, is the Constitution of the United States. The Constitution was not followed to the letter from the very start but it did act as a restraint for over a century. The initial serious onslaught on the United States Constitution was in the 1860’s with the onset of the American Civil War.  President Lincoln suspended many provisions of the Constitution and placed unrivaled power in the hands of the President and neutralized the power of the other two branches. Unsurprisingly, by the end of the Civil War the United States had run up a healthy deficit. Despite that deficit, the return to Constitutionally guided and limited government following the Civil War the United States rebuilt and even spread her territories and soon had paid off all of the debt. The final daggers into the heart of the Constitution came in 1913 with the enactment of two Amendments, Amendment XVI and Amendment XVII. The Sixteenth Amendment established the personal Income Tax Amendment which was supposed to never rise above a paltry three percent nor be applied to anyone below the top ten percent of earners. All of these guarantees soon proved to be completely false. The Seventeenth Amendment provided for the direct election of Senators which removed the last vestiges of power which the Constitution had allocated solely for the States. This was the final nail which would lead directly to the over-centralization of power being stolen by the central Federal Government in Washington. Even with this death knell the Constitution still retained sufficient restraining power to beat back the onslaughts against its original intents that it would take another fifty years before the final assault destroyed any restraint on Federal spending. It was these ideals and ideas which began with Franklin Delano Roosevelt with Social Security and Unemployment Insurance that brought on the end. With Lyndon Baines Johnson and his Great Society, the Constitution gave out its last gasp and the financial difficulties that accompany unrestrained, undisciplined, expansive spending slowly led to the financial difficulties currently plaguing the United States. Perhaps a return to the ideals and ideas first instituted with the original Constitution could forge the necessary restraint that would lead the United States back to fiscal solvency and responsibility. By showing such restraint and self-discipline the Americans would be rewarded with a growing economy and a positive and promising outlook for the future. That is the power of the United States Constitution and the promise the writers left to their countrymen into the future.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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