15-Year-Old Wants Debt Limits On Government

Last week around midnight, a new “spending bill” passed the House, increasing the national debt by billions. This was John Boehner’s final act as Speaker of the House. The bill was reportedly enacted to prevent a government shutdown. Instead of allowing more spending, unnecessary and unconstitutional areas of the government should be cut. Many Federal agencies, not enumerated in the Constitution and thus illegal, are spending freely and increasing the debt. The allowance of more debt will not solve the debt crisis; it will only enslave the people! If the government would exercise only the powers enumerated to it in the Constitution, the crisis of debt and government shutdowns would be stopped and resolved.

The national debt is over 18 trillion in principal alone; the total debt is over 65 trillion including interest. There is no Federal budget, just increased spending. With the increasing national debt, the United States is becoming a slave to foreign countries who lend money, just as Solomon states in Proverbs 22:7, “. . . and the borrower is slave to the lender” (NIV).

An example of a non-enumerated government program is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which claims to provide “fair housing” and “equal opportunity.” This agency violates the Constitution by its mere existence, because housing and urban development is an issue for the states or the people, as stated in the Tenth Amendment–“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” HUD is just a small example of the illegal overreach of the Federal Government, exercising power which has not been enumerated in the Constitution.

Before the creation of the Constitution in 1787, America was governed under the Articles of Confederation. These articles gave more authority to the individual states than the Federal Government, and were basically an agreement of alliance among the states. These articles did not strengthen the Federal Government enough to unify the states for war, for the suppression of rebellion, or for the national collection of taxes. To solve this issue, the Constitution was created, giving enumerated powers to a unified, stronger Federal Government which protected the people and secured their representation in the new Republic. The Federal Government was not strengthened to build agencies like HUD, which violates the Constitution. Instead, the Federal Government was created to protect the country as a whole. Under this protection, the states and the people have the liberty to manage themselves.

The enumerated powers of the government, listed in Article I, section 8 of the Constitution, do not include the authority to pass “spending bills” to raise the debt for virtually unlimited government spending on illegal programs. These destructive constitutional violations must be stopped immediately to keep the debt from becoming worse. Finally, we the people must be the greatest check on the government, keeping it inside the bounds of its enumerated authorities to save the nation from destruction by debt.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

The Real Issues You Won’t Hear From The 2016 Presidential Candidates This Election Year

“Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.”—Gore Vidal

The countdown has begun.

We now have less than one year until the 2016 presidential election, and you can expect to be treated to an earful of carefully crafted, expensive sound bites and political spin about climate change, education, immigration, taxes and war.

Despite the dire state of our nation, however, you can rest assured that none of the problems that continue to undermine our freedoms will be addressed in any credible, helpful way by any of the so-called viable presidential candidates–and certainly not if doing so might jeopardize their standing with the unions, corporations or the moneyed elite bankrolling their campaigns.

The following are just a few of the issues that should be front and center in every presidential debate. That they are not is a reflection of our willingness as citizens to have our political elections reduced to little more than popularity contests that are, in the words of Shakespeare, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

The national debt. Why aren’t politicians talking about the whopping $18.1 trillion and rising that our government owes to foreign countries, private corporations and its retirement programs? Not only is the U.S. the largest debtor nation in the world, but according to Forbes, “the amount of interest on the national debt is estimated to be accumulating at a rate of over one million dollars per minute.” Shouldn’t the government being on the verge of bankruptcy be an issue worth talking about?

Black budget spending. It costs the American taxpayer $52.6 billion every year to be spied on by the sixteen or so intelligence agencies tasked with surveillance, data collection, counterintelligence and covert activities. The agencies operating with black budget (top secret) funds include the CIA, NSA and Justice Department. Clearly, our right to privacy seems to amount to nothing in the eyes of the government and those aspiring to office.

Government contractors. Despite all the talk about big and small government, what we have been saddled with is a government that is outsourcing much of its work to high-paid contractors at great expense to the taxpayer and with no competition, little transparency and dubious savings. According to the Washington Post, “By some estimates, there are twice as many people doing government work under contract than there are government workers.” These open-ended contracts, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, “now account for anywhere between one quarter and one half of all federal service contracting.” Moreover, any attempt to reform the system is “bitterly opposed by federal employee unions, who take it as their mission to prevent good employees from being rewarded and bad employees from being fired.”

Cost of war. Then there’s the detrimental impact the government’s endless wars (fueled by the profit-driven military industrial complex) is having on our communities, our budget and our police forces. In fact, the U.S. Department of Defense is the world’s largest employer, with more than 3.2 million employees. Since 9/11, we’ve spent more than $1.6 trillion to wage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. When you add in our military efforts in Pakistan, as well as the lifetime price of health care for disabled veterans and interest on the national debt, that cost rises to $4.4 trillion.

Education. Despite the fact that the U.S. spends more on education than any other developed nation, our students continue to lag significantly behind other advanced industrial nations. Incredibly, teenagers in the U.S. ranked 36th in the world in math, reading and science.

Civics knowledge. Americans know little to nothing about their rights or how the government is supposed to operate. This includes educators and politicians. For example, 27 percent of elected officials cannot name even one right or freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment, while 54 percent do not know the Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war. As one law professor notes:

Only 36 percent of Americans can name the three branches of government. Fewer than half of 12th grade students can describe the meaning of federalism. Only 35% of teenagers can identify “We the People” as the first three words of the Constitution. Fifty-eight percent of Americans can’t identify a single department in the United States Cabinet. Only 5% of high school seniors can identify checks on presidential power, only 43% could name the two major political parties, only 11% knew the length of a Senator’s term, and only 23% could name the first President of the United States.

A citizenry that does not know its rights will certainly not rebel while they are being systematically indoctrinated into compliance.

Asset forfeiture. Under the guise of fighting the war on drugs, government agents (usually the police) have been given broad leeway to seize billions of dollars’ worth of private property (money, cars, TVs, etc.) they “suspect” may be connected to criminal activity. Then—and here’s the kicker—whether or not any crime is actually proven to have taken place, the government keeps the citizen’s property, often divvying it up with the local police who did the initial seizure. The police are actually being trained in seminars on how to seize the “goodies” that are on police departments’ wish lists. According to the New York Times, seized monies have been used by police to “pay for sports tickets, office parties, a home security system and a $90,000 sports car.”

Surveillance. Not only is the government spying on Americans’ phone calls and emails, but police are also being equipped with technology such as Stingray devices that can track your cell phone, as well as record the content of your calls and the phone numbers dialed. That doesn’t even touch on what the government’s various aerial surveillance devices are tracking, or the dangers posed to the privacy and safety of those on the ground. Just recently, a 243-foot, multi-billion dollar military surveillance blimp drifted off, leaving a path of wreckage and power outages in its wake, before finally crash landing.

Police misconduct. Americans have no protection against police abuse. It is no longer unusual to hear about incidents in which police shoot unarmed individuals first and ask questions later. What is increasingly common, however, is the news that the officers involved in these incidents get off with little more than a slap on the hands. Moreover, while increasing attention has been paid to excessive police force, sexual misconduct by police has been largely overlooked. A year-long investigation by the Associated Press “uncovered about 1,000 officers who lost their badges in a six-year period” for sexual misconduct. “Victims included unsuspecting motorists, schoolchildren ordered to raise their shirts in a supposed search for drugs, police interns taken advantage of, women with legal troubles who succumbed to performing sex acts for promised help, and prison inmates forced to have sex with guards.” Yet the numbers are largely underreported, covered up by police departments that “stay quiet about improprieties to limit liability, allowing bad officers to quietly resign, keep their certification and sometimes jump to other jobs.”

Prison population. With more than 2 million Americans in prison, and close to 7 million adults in correctional care, the United States has the largest prison population in the world. Many of the nation’s privately run prisons—a $5 billion industry—require the state to keep the prisons at least 90 percent full at all times, “regardless of whether crime was rising or falling.” As Mother Jones reports, “private prison companies have supported and helped write ‘three-strike’ and ‘truth-in-sentencing’ laws that drive up prison populations. Their livelihoods depend on towns, cities, and states sending more people to prison and keeping them there.” Private prisons are also doling out harsher punishments for infractions by inmates in order to keep them locked up longer in order to “boost profits” at taxpayer expense. All the while, the prisoners are being forced to provide cheap labor for private corporations.

SWAT team raids. Over 80,000 SWAT team raids are conducted on American homes and businesses each year. Police agencies, already empowered to crash through your door if they suspect you’re up to no good, now have radars that allow them to “see” through the walls of your home.

Oligarchy. We are no longer a representative republic. The U.S. has become a corporate oligarchy. As a Princeton University survey indicates, our elected officials, especially those in the nation’s capital, represent the interests of the rich and powerful rather than the average citizen.

Young people. Nearly one out of every three American children live in poverty, ranking America among the worst countries in the developed world. Patrolled by police, our schools have become little more than quasi-prisons in which kids as young as age 4 are being handcuffed for “acting up,” subjected to body searches and lockdowns, and suspended for childish behavior.

Private property. Private property means little at a time when SWAT teams and other government agents can invade your home, break down your doors, kill your dog, wound or kill you, damage your furnishings and terrorize your family. Likewise, if government officials can fine and arrest you for growing vegetables in your front yard, praying with friends in your living room, installing solar panels on your roof, and raising chickens in your backyard, you’re no longer the owner of your property.

Strip searches. Court rulings undermining the Fourth Amendment and justifying invasive strip searches have left us powerless against police empowered to forcefully draw our blood, forcibly take our DNA, strip search us, and probe us intimately. Accounts are on the rise of individuals—men and women alike—being subjected to what is essentially government-sanctioned rape by police in the course of “routine” traffic stops.

Fiscal corruption. If there is any absolute maxim by which the federal government seems to operate, it is that the American taxpayer always gets ripped off. This is true, whether you’re talking about taxpayers being forced to fund high-priced weaponry that will be used against us, endless wars that do little for our safety or our freedoms, or bloated government agencies such as the National Security Agency with its secret budgets, covert agendas and clandestine activities. Rubbing salt in the wound, even monetary awards in lawsuits against government officials who are found guilty of wrongdoing are paid by the taxpayer.

Militarized police. Americans are powerless in the face of militarized police. In early America, government agents were not permitted to enter one’s home without permission or in a deceitful manner. And citizens could resist arrest when a police officer tried to restrain them without proper justification or a warrant. Daring to dispute a warrant with a police official today who is armed with high-tech military weapons would be nothing short of suicidal. Moreover, as police forces across the country continue to be transformed into extensions of the military, Americans are finding their once-peaceful communities transformed into military outposts, complete with tanks, weaponry, and other equipment designed for the battlefield.

These are not problems that can be glibly dismissed with a few well-chosen words, as most politicians are inclined to do. Nor will the 2016 elections do much to alter our present course towards a police state. Indeed, it is doubtful whether the popularity contest for the new occupant of the White House will significantly alter the day-to-day life of the average American greatly at all. Those life-changing decisions are made elsewhere, by nameless, unelected government officials who have turned bureaucracy into a full-time and profitable business.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, these problems will continue to plague our nation unless and until Americans wake up to the fact that we’re the only ones who can change things for the better and then do something about it.

This was a recurring theme for Martin Luther King Jr., who urged Americans to engage in militant nonviolent resistance in response to government corruption. In a speech delivered just a few months before his assassination, King called on Americans to march on Washington in order to take a stand against the growing problems facing the nation—problems that were being ignored by those in office because they were unpopular, not profitable or risky. “I don’t determine what is right and wrong by looking at the budget of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Nor do I determine what is right and wrong by taking a Gallup poll of the majority opinion,” remarked King. “Ultimately a genuine leader is not a searcher of consensus but a molder of consensus.”

Guided by Gallup polls, influenced by corporate lobbyists, and molded by party politics, the 2016 presidential candidates are playing for high stakes; but they are not looking out for the best interests of “we the people.” As King reminds us:

“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ And Vanity comes along and asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

Listen: Rush Reveals One Question Moderators MUST Ask At GOP Debate Or ‘The Fix Is In’

Conservative radio talk show host stated during his program on Wednesday that if the CNBC debate moderators do not ask the GOP candidates about the budget deal, “the fix is really in.”

Limbaugh’s reference is to the budget deal brokered by outgoing House Speaker John Boehner, which raises the debt ceiling until March, 2017 and increases spending to defense and domestic programs by $80 billion over two years. The new spending is divided equally between defense and domestic, with $50 billion slated to be spent in FY 2016 and $30 billion in FY 2017.

“Those increases would be paid for with savings from changes to the Social Security Disability Insurance fund and Medicare payments to doctors and other health-care providers. New revenue would be raised by auctioning off portions of the government-owned broadcast spectrum, selling oil from the strategic oil reserve and cracking down on audits of large business partnerships,” the Washington Post reports

One of President Obama’s main objectives has been to lift the sequestration cuts instituted by the 2011 budget agreement, which the new plan would do.

Limbaugh observed regarding Wednesday night’s scheduled debate, “I fully expect the moderators to ask these various candidates if they endorse the Republican budget deal — I mean, that’s a sitting duck. If that doesn’t happen, then the fix is really in.”

The House is slated to vote on the deal on Wednesday, despite objections by conservatives regarding the new spending. New House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was not involved in the budget negotiations between the White House and Republican and Democrat congressional leaders, said the process “stinks” and promised a “new day” under his stewardship.

Limbaugh predicted dire consequences in 2016 for the GOP if the budget deal is embraced. “So how does the budget deal pave the way for Hillary Clinton? Folks, it’s real simple,” the talk show host told his audience. “Over half of any Republican candidate’s campaign arsenal has just been neutered. The Republican Party cannot campaign by running around blaming the Democrats for destroying budget, for overspending, for threatening the very fabric economically of the country. They can’t do it. This is the Republican budget deal that Barack Obama cannot wait to sign.”

“What’s gonna be the primary campaign message when all of this is off the table?” Limbaugh wondered. 

He added, “So I will be eager to see. This just argues more and more for a presidential candidate that’s not part of this apparatus. And eventually it may even happen tonight, if there’s some bright-eyed, bushy-tailed debate moderator tonight. ‘Can I see a show of hands of candidates who agree with the Republican budget and support it?’ That’s a sitting duck. That’s just waiting to happen tonight,” said Limbaugh.

Debt Ceiling Debate Ignores Warfare-Welfare State

The U.S. Treasury’s recent announcement that the government will reach the debt ceiling on November 3 means Congress will soon be debating raising the government’s borrowing limit again. Any delay in, or opposition to, raising the debt ceiling will inevitably be met with hand-wringing over Congress’ alleged irresponsibility. But the real irresponsible act would be for Congress to raise the debt ceiling.

Cutting up its credit card is the only way to make Congress reduce spending. Anyone who doubts this should listen to the bipartisan whining over how sequestration has so drastically reduced spending that there is literally nothing left to cut. But, according to the Heritage Foundation, sequestration has only reduced spending from $3.6 trillion to $3.5 trillion. Only in D.C. would a less than one percent spending reduction be considered a draconian cut.

Defense hawks have found a way around sequestration by shoving billions of dollars into the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. OCO spending is classified as “emergency” spending so it does not count against the spending limits, even when OCO is used for items that do not fit any reasonable definition of emergency.

Yet, even using OCO to boost military spending by as much as $80 billion does not satisfy the military-industrial complex’s ravenous appetite for taxpayer dollars.

During the majority of my time in Congress, debt ceiling increases were routinely approved. In fact, congressional rules once allowed the House of Representatives to increase the debt ceiling without a vote or even a debate! Congress’ need to appear to respond to growing concerns over federal spending has forced it to end the practice of rubber-stamping debt ceiling increases.

Continuously increasing spending will lead to rising inflation as the Federal Reserve tries to monetize the ever-increasing debt. This will eventually lead to a serious economic crisis. When the crisis occurs, Congress will have no choice but to cut spending. The question is not if, but when and under what circumstances, spending will be cut.

The only alternative for cutting spending in response to economic crisis involves Congress gradually unwinding the welfare state in a manner that does not harm those dependent on federal programs. Congress will not even consider doing this until enough people have embraced the ideas of liberty to force the politicians to reconsider the proper role of government.

Those who accept the premises of the welfare statists are incapable of making principled arguments against welfare and entitlement programs. Thus, they can only quibble over spending levels or how to more efficiently manage the federal bureaucracy. While fiscal conservatives may gain some minor victories with this approach, their failure to challenge the welfare state’s morality or effectiveness dooms any effort to seriously curtail welfare state spending.

Similarly, one cannot favor both serious reductions in the military budget and an aggressive foreign policy. So-called cheap hawks may achieve some reforms in the Pentagon’s budget. They many even succeed in killing a few wasteful weapons projects. However, their unwillingness to oppose a foreign policy of perpetual war means they will always cave in to the war hawks’ demands for ever-higher military budgets.

Those who understand the dangers from continuing on our current path should support efforts to stop Congress from raising the debt ceiling. However, supporters of liberty will not win the political battle over government spending on welfare and warfare until we win the intellectual battle over the role of government. Those of us who know the truth must do all we can to spread the ideas of liberty.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

Refugees And The Moral Crisis Of Our National Debt

As a college student, in an era when college tuition was much lower, I was able to pay my college bills without taking any loans. First, I had the support of my parents. They paid my bill in full for my freshman year, with the understanding that they did not have sufficient resources to continue that contribution for four years. In February of that year, I started working as a part-time janitor in a middle school. I spent most of my hours vacuuming, during which time I memorized vocabulary words for the foreign language I was studying, multitasking as much as I could. I accepted extra hours whenever they were offered, which often meant shoveling sidewalks and mowing grass.

Because of transferring to a new college and changing majors, I got a bit behind in my academic work. Hence, I took an overload when I was a senior, and had to quit working. I had to go back to my parents to help me pay for the last semester, when I came up seriously short. My parents were not wealthy—my dad worked in a factory and my mom did housecleaning. They were there for me when I needed their financial support.

They were in a position to help, not because they were wealthy, but because they practiced a lean lifestyle. In today’s era, we are surrounded by media advertisements and images that suggest we should buy bigger houses and more luxurious cars, and take more exotic vacations. As a result, most people I know seem to live on the edge of their financial resources. They are one rainy day away from bankruptcy.

Unfortunately, this is happening within a larger context in which a huge number of Americans are not planning for retirement. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, 45 percent of working-age households have no retirement savings. Not only are we running out of money at the end of the month, we are also failing to plan for retirement and declining health.

If we are unable (or unwilling) to plan for our own financial well-being, and the well-being of our sons and daughters, we are falling far short of the principle laid out by the Apostle Paul. In his letter to the Ephesians, he wrote, “He…must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” When we live on the edge of bankruptcy, we limit our ability to respond to our own rainy days; we limit our ability to invest in our sons and daughters; and we limit our ability to “share with those in need.”

The world is currently experiencing its most serious refugee crises ever. According to CNN stories, there are almost 60,000,000 people who have been displaced from their homes, with particular problems in Syria, the Ukraine, Iraq, and across Africa. “Humanity has never seen such displacement. Ever.”

“One clearly gets the impression that the world is at war—and indeed many areas of the world are today in a completely chaotic situation,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.

The Syrian crisis has received international attention this summer, with the influx of refugees into Europe, but this problem has been percolating for four years, with massive refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and, especially, Turkey. I challenge you to locate one of the refugee camps on Google Earth (such as the Al Zaatari Refugee Camp, Al Mafraq, Jordan) and get a sense of how just one of these refugee camps looks.

Area Middle East churches have invested themselves in working in these refugee camps, seeking to alleviate the physical, psychological, and spiritual needs. International groups such as Samaritan’s Purse and Doctors Without Borders have been working tirelessly. And yet, the overall American response to this unprecedented crisis of displacement has been underwhelming. But, what can you expect from a nation that already has $18 trillion in debt? We’ve compromised our own ability to help.

In a 2012 New York Times column, former President Clinton referred to the failure of the U.S. government to intervene in the genocide in Rwanda as one of his main foreign-policy failures, saying “I don’t think we could have ended the violence, but I think we could have cut it down. And I regret it.”

In a few years, we will also look back on this Syrian crisis with regret. We have not positioned ourselves to help in time of crisis, because we are living on the edge of bankruptcy. I beg those running for political office to make it a priority to put our financial house in order. Let’s restore American financial solvency.

Dr. Gary L. Welton is assistant dean for institutional assessment, professor of psychology at Grove City College, and a contributor to The Center for Vision & Values. He is a recipient of a major research grant from the Templeton Foundation to investigate positive youth development.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.