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

 

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October 19, 2013

The President’s Newest Power

There will be talk of the President’s victory over the shutdown and still the biggest win over the United States Constitution and the complete abandonment of their responsibility by the Congress will likely not get the attention it deserves. The agreement to push the real debate over the debt ceiling off until early February may or may not have been a desired result from the entire debate. But that is neither here nor there as it will prove to be the least of the problems resulting from the compromise, or whatever the real conservatives allowed to pass rather than continue the fight. The disaster that will prove to be possibly catastrophic is the abdication of their Constitutional right to control the debt ceiling limit to the President until February 7, 2014. As the agreement reads, if the President desires to raise the debt ceiling all he is required to do is inform the Congress that he is raising the debt ceiling and unless they override his decision by voting with two-thirds majority in both houses to prevent the adjustment of the debt ceiling then the President has raised the debt ceiling. Since the likelihood that either house, let alone both houses, would actually veto such a move with a super majority is virtually nil, then for all intents and purposes the Congress has abdicated their Constitutional responsibility to control the purse strings of the government. When you hear that the conservatives lost the budget battle and that they did not get anything after making a stand and forcing the shutdown, that is only half the story, they not only lost the fight over Obama Care and the debt ceiling fight, they abdicated even being part of the conversation through until February seventh of next year.

 

So, we are now looking at an Imperial Presidency but one who is also in total control over the debt level and who has shown no desire to limit spending. It is bad enough that the first day after the end of the budget battle and end of the shutdown that the United States Federal Government established more debt than had ever been incurred in a single day in our entire history. Additionally, out of every dollar the government spends we are currently borrowing forty cents. That is right, forty percent of the money spent by Washington is borrowed money. Additionally, the Federal Reserve has committed to continue to print three trillion dollars of new currency every year into the foreseeable future. Add to that the fact that the new nominee to head the Federal Reserve, Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen, is a devotee of Keynesian Economics and will be more inclined to increase the rate of printing money than to rely on the market to recover and dictate control of the money supply.

 

This will only serve to make the eventual pain felt when interest rates eventually begin to rise in order to ward off inflation. This will lead to a point where the choice will be runaway inflation, higher taxes, or both as the catastrophe that would result from trying to ignore the problem would lead to a situation not seen since the Presidency of Jimmy Carter and the miracles of stagflation. Whatever the choices made going forward, the monetary policy the United States has been following since the last three years of the last term of President George W. Bush and through the continuation of that policy with the added effect of steroids under President Obama and the future has some painful reckoning in the offerings. The amount of pain that will strike as soon as inflation starts to push the decisions of the Federal Government and the Federal Reserve is already going to be significant, and that is assuming that there will be sufficient economic growth that will allow payment on the interest of the debt not to totally consume the budget and make almost all other expenditures become unaffordable luxuries. Imagine a budget where over seventy-five percent of the money must go to pay for the interest on the debt. There would be insufficient funds left for Social Security, the Military, Food Stamps, Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, or virtually anything beyond minimal levels of support for keeping the government running at a minimal level. Even the salaries for the President, Vice President, Congress People, Cabinet Positions and virtually every other high position would no longer be affordable and the people taking these positions would, by necessity, have to volunteer and work without receiving any salary. On the positive side, at least we would finally get people in these positions who would have the best for the nation at the heart of their considerations instead of the rabble we have now who are mostly in office to serve their own gathering of wealth and they could not care less about their actual obligations as representatives of the people or the Constitutional definition of their positions, as long as they get in on the next big insider deal. That eventuality might actually prove to be the saving grace by which the nation receives salvation because the current majority are useless when it comes to serving the people and the nation. Mind you, they serve themselves quite well.

 

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

 

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