Do you think your bank account deposits are safe? Don’t bank on it.
Winter is coming. The phrase was made popular with the success of the Game of Thrones series, but its resonance is elemental. Even in the height of summer, when a couple inches of snow sound like a refreshing break from the heat, contemplating the approach of winter triggers the impulse to prepare, to stock up. As any Midwesterner can attest, the thought of being caught, unprepared and lacking, in the dead of winter is enough to turn just about anyone into a prepper.
Just like the ants in the popular fable, it’s understood that work done in the spring, summer, and fall is to provide for the time when winter impedes the acquisition of resources necessary for life. As is often the case, this lesson, beautifully portrayed in a tale told to children, contains a truth vital to their development and functional participation in society. The ants work while the weather is nice; the grasshopper enjoys the nice weather while mocking the ants. The ants warn the grasshopper that he needs to prepare for bleaker times ahead; the grasshopper laughs and continues the party. Winter comes; grasshopper dies. Sorry Walt Disney–in the original version, the ants didn’t extend a grasshopper entitlement program to the shiftless-ne’er-do-well. They kept the door locked and turned up the Jimmy Buffet, content to bask in the fruits of their hard work and self-discipline.
The connection between the characters in the fable and the general character of our nation is unmistakable. As the Left’s punitive war on achievement continues apace, the number of ants in America continues to shrink. Much like the producers in Atlas Shrugged, the achievers in America have grown weary serving in their dual-role of culprit and scapegoat. We are told that the successful among us are to blame for the problems we have, and at the same time, they be coerced to involuntarily serve as the salvation from these problems through their sacrifice. So like John Galt, they are disappearing; but instead of retreating to form an objectivist paradise, as Rand’s characters did, many of our ants are joining the ranks of the grasshoppers.
Business after business is realizing that the most important number in the CEO’s rolodex is their corporate lobbyist in Washington. Our bureaucratic regulators have engendered such a culture of corporate cronyism that businesses are forced to fall into line if they want a good spot at the taxpayer trough. So it follows that many of our newest grasshoppers are not lazy bums, but productive bums who are willing to play ball with Uncle Sam in order to avoid onerous regulation and financial deprivation. If Aesop were writing his tales today, no doubt he would include the unionization of the grasshoppers, leading to a very productive “protection racket” offered to the ants by the Grasshopper Fiddlers Local #1.
The ants’ warning about the arrival of winter does not carry the same weight that it once did, when our civilization was more dependent on the agrarian economy. Thanks to globalization, we can still get fresh produce and grain throughout the dead of winter. But the deeper meaning behind the ants’ warning is timeless. Winter is coming for Western Civilization, and the work we do (or don’t do) today will be our provision in the days and years ahead. Our Grasshopper Government has done their best to make sure that we will be economically damned if we do and damned if we don’t. The fiscal realities facing most states and counties, to say nothing of the federal debt tsunami that hangs over us all, virtually guarantee that mere belt-tightening is not going to be enough. At some point over the next decade or so, our debt bubble will collapse, and winter will truly arrive.
But taking one step further, we have a more significant reckoning ahead, if we refuse to make the most of these days we have left in the autumn of Western civilization. Yes, the fiscal realities are frightening and far-reaching; but the spiritual and moral reckoning is more dire still. The character of our country is quickly changing from a nation of individuals who would wordlessly shoulder the task long-thought impossible, to a nation of demographic tribes that vie to see who can lodge the most grievous complaint with their bureaucratic administrator in the hopes of financial mollification.
Winter is coming. The time to prepare for physical, economic, and spiritual deprivation is now. Our government seems to be too-big-to-fail, but we know it is not. There is no nation under God immune from failure. Now is the time to help each other become as self-sufficient and well-provisioned as possible. The answer is not joining the grasshoppers (as so many ants have done over the past few years), but to raise up stronger and smarter ants, and to remain prepared to slam shut the door to the ant-hill when our feckless leaders come knocking at the onset of winter’s chill embrace.
Photo credit: diverevan (Creative Commons)
Mired in controversy and scandal from every direction, Barack Obama will soon face another battle as the debt ceiling debate resurfaces next year. While he has relied on a congressional blank check thus far in his presidency, the most recent budget negotiation resulted in a government shutdown with much of the blame accurately aimed at the White House.
In response, Obama has called for an end to the entire concept of a debt ceiling. As usual, when this imperial leader encounters an obstacle, he demands it be removed rather than find a way to absorb the setback.
Calling the ceiling a “loaded gun,” Obama said the nation is “probably better off with a system in which that threat is not there on a perpetual basis.”
During an address to the Wall Street Journal CEO Council this week, Obama touted his economic record, though a cursory review of his policies over the past five years calls his self-congratulation into question. Despite claiming to have cut deficits, it is obvious this administration has a serious spending problem. Removing the debt ceiling, as arbitrary as it is, would only give a leftist regime more latitude in driving the nation further into crippling debt.
Short of fully removing the limit, a move favored recently by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Washington, D.C. has floated several other possible fixes to the recurring issue.
Whether by minting an unprecedented $1 trillion coin to offset the debt or any number of other outlandish ideas, leftists are dedicated to finding a way to unilaterally spend more nonexistent money.
Establishment Republicans have not been much better. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has proposed giving Obama the power to raise the debt ceiling instead of allowing that decision to originate in Congress.
As it stands, the debt ceiling is one of a decreasing number of tools at conservatives’ disposal. Naturally, Obama sees this – as well as any threats to his agenda – as an impediment that must be destroyed.
–B. Christopher Agee
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As many of you may know, if the political class does not get its act together by March 1, 2013, automatic Federal government spending cuts will kick in that will reduce government spending by over a trillion dollars over the next ten years. This “sequestering” of budget dollars was agreed to by Congress and Obama in August of 2011 in the debt ceiling negotiations.
While this is a decent first step in reining in government spending, it is still pretty meager. Overall government spending will still increase in the baseline budget view, it will just increase at a somewhat lower rate. Annual spending deficits will continue to mount up, increasing our national debt and burdening future generations of Americans with that debt.
How anemic is this effort at reducing spending? Let’s do some simple math:
- Let’s assume that the ten year trillion dollar spending reduction averages out to about $100 billion a year.
- According to the official White House website, the Federal government will spend about $4.5 trillion in 2017.
- This $4.5 trillion is less than it spent in 2012 but is less than it will likely spend ten years from now, under baseline budget assumptions, so the 2017 estimate is a good ten year annual average.
- $100 billion a year in spending cuts against an average spending budget of $4.5 trillion is only a meager 2.2% spending decrease.
- According to the White House website budget spreadsheet, in 2017, this $100 billion in spending cuts would still add over half a TRILLION to the national debt.
Despite this feeble attempt at expense reduction, many in the administration are choking on it. Retired Defense Secretary Leon Panetta claims our national defense would be endangered by a 2.2% reduction in spending. Secretary of State John Kerry asserted that we could not afford a meager 2.2% reduction in his budget since we needed to continue to butt into the lives of people in other countries around the world. President Obama has been spreading panic, claiming many vital government services would be slashed because of this meager 2.2% cut in spending.
Makes you wonder if these so-called leaders are 1) that out of touch with the real world, 2) want to protect their turf at any cost regardless of the impact on the fiscal integrity of the country, or 3) are just that fiscally incompetent that they do not know how to run an efficient operation and can only operate it by increasing their budget rather than decreasing their organization’s waste, redundancy, and incompetence.
To help these politicians understand why this 2.2% reduction is a very easily attainable goal, let’s point out via just a HANDFUL of examples of how wasteful, redundant and incompetent their organizations are today:
- Medicare and Medicaid lose over $100 billion a year to waste, inefficiency, and criminal fraud.
- Social Security loses over $100 billion a year to waste, inefficiency, and criminal fraud.
- The IRS admits that it is so incompetent that it fails to collect over $380 billion a year from tax evaders.
- The U.S. Navy, one of Panetta’s former organizations, spent $300 million to build two Navy ships almost to completion before spending another $10 million to turn them both into scrap metal without ever using them.
- The State Department, John Kerry’s organization, recently spent $80 million to build a consulate building in northern Afghanistan that will never be used since the $80 million is not defensible from a terrorist attack and was built by bypassing the State Department’s own building guidelines relative to terrorists.
- The Transportation Safety Agency recently bought over $180 million worth of airport security equipment that it will never use, storing it in a warehouse in its original packaging.
- Employees in the General Services Administration threw themselves a Las Vegas bash at taxpayer expense, resulting in the dismissal and resignations of GSA employees and executives.
- The Obama administration recently made the inane, indefensible decision to give Egypt over one billion dollars worth of F-16 fighter planes and tanks, weapons that could eventually impact both Department of Defense and State Department operations in the future.
- And last but not least, consider some new findings relative to the President’s economic stimulus plan, as recently reported by the Independent Journal Review. Unfortunately, these types of expenses are no confined to the stimulus program, they happen every day in every Federal government department and entity.
These insults to the taxpayer occurred even though when President Obama signed the $831 billion stimulus into law in 2009, he stated that “tough choices smart investments” needed to be made. So ask yourself: if these are the “smart investments,” you can only wonder what the dumb expenses were:
- $250 was sent to a woman in Maryland who died in 1967.
- $840 was spent to disassemble and assemble three desks.
- The Lincoln Center in New York City was paid to host a “tango salon.”
- $10,000 was spent replacing light fixtures at a fish hatchery.
- $425,000 was spent in $250 increments to 1,700 prisons inmates for social security checks.
- $426,000 was spent to rebuild a bridge that is used by a average of ten cars a day.
- $500,000 was spent in subsidies for rain barrel installation.
- $600,000 was sent to a school district in Kansas …that no longer exists.
- $1 million was spent in New York on road signs advertising stimulus projects.
- $1 million was used to build 250 bike lockers.
- $1.25 million was used to use electric fish to study animal sensory information.
- $1.75 million was spent on energy-efficient garage doors.
- $2.2 million was spent to install skylights for a liquor store in Montana.
- $2.8 was million spent installing toilets in New Mexico’s national forest.
- $15 million was spent to build an airport in Ouizinkie, Alaska …a town of 165 people.
Disgraceful wastes of money. Which gets us back to our central question: Are Kerry, Panetta, and Obama out of touch, protecting turf or just fiscally incompetent? Or possibly all of the above?
There has been plenty of confusion and misinformation about the national debt, the fiscal cliff, and new taxes on Americans thanks in part to the use of clever White House talking points and a complicit national media. Let’s clear up some of the current issues with facts and truth by looking at the numbers.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the latest fiscal cliff deal will add an additional $4 trillion to the national deficit. This is not a good way to begin 2013. What we do know is that the 150-page Obama-Biden-Reid ‘Tax And Spend’ increase passed the Senate and House with few details getting out to American taxpayers. Only ignorant and under-informed citizens still believe that there is any accountability in the Obama administration or that they’re attempting to govern with transparency.
With new Obamacare taxes already kicking in as of January 1, this is not a good sign. We constantly heard the president and his minions say that “taxes will not increase for the majority of Americans,” especially for those making less than $250,000 a year.
What we now know is the farcical fiscal deal doesn’t just hit the wealthy hard; taxes now increase for 77% of Americans because the temporary payroll tax cut was not extended, causing the Social Security tax to jump 2%, from 4.2 to 6.2 percent. We are now taking home anywhere from $50 to $189 less every month.
Already, many poor and middle-class folks have reacted in anger or shock, including some Democrats who believed it would not affect them. The average American family making $50,000 a year will be hit with around $1,000 due to tax increases.
How quickly we forget that in just one term, President Obama increased the national debt as much as all prior Presidents from George Washington to George W. Bush combined.
Before continuing, let’s recall a 2008 quote from then-Senator Obama who blasted President Bush for adding $4 trillion to the national debt – even though most Democrats and Republicans agreed to the spending in the hopes of avoiding a crash of the U.S. banking system and economy:
The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion dollars for the first 42 presidents — number 43 added $4 trillion dollars by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion dollars of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child.
Hopefully, more open-minded Americans now see the hypocrisy of Obama claiming that the Bush administration’s spending was both “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic.”
To raise taxes on people in all tax brackets (not just “the rich”) was a mind-boggling move in what many call a recession, but this is exactly what they enacted. Cuts were not considered, now was the national debt of $16.4 trillion; so the hard-working people in America lose.
Before we detail some of the pork, it needs to be pointed out that the bill seems to take direct aim at married couples, penalizing them with hundreds of dollars in what might as well be called fines. Heterosexual marriage is practically being discouraged against. Families are the backbone of the free market system and key to getting the economy growing again. We’re now seeing evidence that this administration has much more invested in growing government than the private sector.
Senators received the fiscal cliff bill at the last minute and voted on it without reading through the legislation. Who can forget the Obamacare bill being shoved through Congress (while Nancy Pelosi infamously said “You have to pass it to find out what’s in it.”)? What did Pelosi think of the fiscal cliff resolution? She said it was “a happy start to a new year.” The bill contains $25.1 billion in cuts, however; big government liberals are thrilled because the same bill also increases spending by $330 billion over ten years.
Basically, the deal contains $10 in tax increases for every $1 in spending cuts. Imagine trying to operate a family budget or small business using this method.
President Obama approved of the temporary band-aid as he continued his Hawaiian vacation on the taxpayer dime. He successfully piled America’s fiscal problems onto taxpayers, further showing he never cared about cutting spending. This is who half of American voters chose to reelect.
Also seeing major tax increases are those earning $400,000 and couples that make $450,000 – sounds like a marriage penalty to me – including capital gains and dividend taxes. Moreover, deductions are now limited for individuals making more than $250,000 ($300,000 for couples). It seems like the Left no longer only considers millionaires “rich.”
Our government is adding about $4 billion a day to the national debt while the new ‘spending money we don’t have’ deal provides generous tax breaks, perks, and pork to selected corporate friends. The list includes:
$12.1 billion for the wind-energy (green) sector, $430 million for Hollywood film producers, $222 million for rum distillers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, $331 million for railroad operators, $650 million tax break for manufacturers of energy-efficient appliances, and $59 million to algae growers for biofuel efforts.
Meanwhile, unemployment has barely budged, food stamps have massively increased, and U-6 Total unemployment remains at 14.4 percent.
If any good news can come from Republicans caving again, John Boehner told the Wall Street Journal he will never again negotiate with Obama behind closed doors because the president has shown his true red colors, and his actions don’t match his public statements.
At one point several weeks ago, the President said to me, ‘We don’t have a spending problem.’” Once he got over his shock, the House Speaker fired back, “‘But Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem.’
In keeping with the motto of not letting a good crisis go to waste, even the Senate wouldn’t even help hurricane Sandy victims without dealing themselves millions in new pork. Nearly a quarter of the $60-billion package goes somewhere else than directly to the victims or the infrastructure actually damaged by the hurricane. No surprises here. Both parties are at fault.
It seems our leaders in Washington keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results. It’s fiscal insanity. Democrats now say the fiscal cliff is just the tip of the taxing iceberg while Republicans say they’ve compromised enough. According to The Hill, the President’s party is pushing for another trillion in “new revenue” before the year is out. Revenue (government income) to them means taxing the people. Americans are taxed enough already. Have we now gone past the point of no return? How much more will the people take?
Photo credit: Jessie Owen (Creative Commons)