Monthly Archives: September 2017

USA-Communism

We Defeated the Communists, and Then We Became Them!

My oh my!  Recently, there has been no shortage of world-wide events that have distracted our government from taking care of domestic issues.  There was hurricane Harvey, hurricane Irma, and now, once again tearing through the Caribbean, hurricane Maria.  These were catastrophic to the United States, and they totally destroyed some small Caribbean countries.   Last week, there was a ‘bucket bomb’ that exploded in a London subway.  And, much like an infant with a broken rattle, we can always count on Kim Jong-un to fire another missile anytime he thinks he is not getting enough attention on the world stage.

Because of these major events, not much attention has been given to our domestic problems. Obama Care has not been repealed or replaced.  The tax codes have not been revised.  And, have you recently heard any news referring to the federal budget?  This got me to wondering.  How is the federal government currently spending our money?  It is our money, isn’t it?  More importantly, how has the government spent our money in the past?  So, as a matter of personal interest, I have decided to compare our 2016 federal budget to the 50 year earlier, 1966 federal budget.  This was not an accidental choice, as I graduated from high school as a wet-behind-the-ears, know-it-all eighteen year old in 1966.  And, yes, I can still muster up enough memory to remember the era.  Let me set the stage.

1966

1966 was just over 20 years after the completion of WWII.  There were no shortage of veterans from that war.  They were our parents.  We fought an on-going war in Korea.  Because of what was called the ‘domino theory’ we sent military advisors to a country called South Viet Nam.  Eisenhower began this program, Kennedy expanded it, and Lyndon Johnson turned Saigon into the  twenty-third largest American city.  Little did we know in 1966 that Viet Nam would ultimately cost us over 57,000 American lives.

Our WWII ally, Russia, was now our dreaded enemy.  They became the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), which was comprised of Russia and all the countries it decided to keep in its ‘sphere of influence’ after WWII.  The majority joined unwillingly by the use of Russian military force. We had NATO, and the USSR had the Warsaw Pact.  They built the Berlin wall and shot anyone that tried to cross it.  Winston Churchill dubbed this policy of isolation as the ‘Iron Curtain.’

In 1962, we had a little dust-up in the Caribbean called the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The USSR wanted to install nuclear warheads and missiles in Cuba.  US versus USSR.  Kennedy versus Khruschev. Good versus evil.  Eagle versus the bear.  Democracy versus communism.  According to all historical accounts, it was the closest the world has come to a nuclear holocaust.

In 1963, Kennedy was assassinated.  (I was hoping I would find out who was responsible before I died, but time is running out!)

On the domestic front, the ‘baby boomers’ were entering the workforce.  As a high school graduate, there were three life choices available:  go to college, get a job, or get drafted.  That was pretty much it.  The economy was booming because there was a war to fuel it.  Just about anyone that wanted a job had a job.  As eighteen year olds, we could not wait to move away from home and become independent.  We never moved back home.

With these events as a background, how did our government spend our money?  Our GDP in 1966 was $4.12T.  The total government receipts were $689B.  Our total outlays were $708B.  (Yes!  We dealt in billions and not trillions!)  Our deficit that year was $19.5B.  Ah yes, don’t you long for the good old days now?  42% of all revenues came from individual income taxes.  Payroll taxes accounted for 20% and corporate taxes accounted for 23% of revenues.

On the spending side, 43% of all funds were spent on national defense.  But here is the biggie….medicare and general health spending was only 2% of the budget that year.  Spending on social security, unemployment and labor in 1966 was about 23% of all outlays.

In raw numbers, the Dept. of Defense got $298B, Health and Human Services got $30.1B, Social Security Administration got $109B, Treasury got $61.9B and NASA got $31.2B.  The Treasury received their money largely to pay the interest on our $1.74T national debt.  Of course there are other departments, but these are the largest and pertinent to this blog.

2016

Now we fast forward 50 years to 2016, the last year of the Obama budget.  There were only two budgets put forth by the Obama admistration in his eight years as POTUS.  Harry Reed, the senate majority leader, promised not to bring a budget to the senate floor and the ‘gatekeeper from hell’ kept his word.  In 2016, the government took in $2.99T in tax revenues.  (Yes, we got to the trillions!) 49% of these revenues came from individual income taxes.  Payroll taxes accounted for 33% and corporate taxes accounted for 9% of total revenues.  The national debt now exceeds $16.7T!

The sources of revenue did not change substantially in 50 years.  But how the revenues have been spent have significantly changed.  Remember that the defense department accounted for 43% of the 1966 budget?  Well, even with all the shenanigans going on with terrorism and wars, the 2016 budget only spent 15% on the defense department.  Wow!  Where did that money go?  The 2% of monies spent on medicare and general health spending in 1966 now consumes 28% of the spending.  Spending on social security is now 37% of the budget as compared to 22% in the past.   Entitlement programs now consume 65% of our national budget!

The raw numbers are staggering.  The Dept. of Defense now spends $515B.  The Dept. of Health and Human Services goes from $30.1B to a staggering $995B!  The Dept. of Treasury goes from $61.9B to $484B!  Much of this is to pay the interest on our growing, inflated national debt.  Not to be outdone, the Social Security Administration received a nice bump, going from $109B to $866B!  NASA, on the other hand, had its 1966 budget of $31.2B reduced to $17.2B in 2016.

I need to provide a small history lesson at this point.  Do you know what the original responsibities were of the federal government?  Why the federal government was founded?  It was founded for two reasons; national defense and international trade.  End of list.  It is astounding how the federal government got to its present size.  Back to the blog.

There are some logical explainations for these large differences in these federal budgets.  In 1966, the huge ‘baby boomer’ generation entered the work force.  They worked.  They paid taxes.  They paid into the social security fund.  In 2016, guess what?  The ‘baby boomers’ aged.  They retired and they began collecting the social security in which they paid for after about 50+ working years.

In 1966, there wasn’t any government provided health care program.  We never expected a federal health care program.  But now look at what is happening.  Obamacare happened, and it has pretty much been a mess ever since.  Everyone agrees it needs to change, but we can’t get two people in a room of 100 senators to agree on how it should change.  Personally, I think the federal government should get out of the health care business altogether, but the proverbial cat has been let out of the bag.  Unlike the old days of 1966 where we did not believe in such a thing as a free lunch, we have people perfectly capable of working that expect a free lunch.  In 1966 we were raised under the mantra that, ‘you ate what you killed.’  Now our national conscious is that everyone should eat, even if they haven’t done one thing to feed themselves.

As amazing as it is to see the differences in our budgets after 50 years, it appears this is outdone by our expectations as to what the government owes us in entitlements.  Most of these entitlements did not exist 50 years ago, and yet we survived.  This is borne out by a Health and Human Services budget that is over 30 times larger than in 1966.  (Think ‘welfare’)

During the Cold War, we spent trillions of dollars to defeat those socialistic Communists.  Russia has turned from its socialistic/communistic society.  You remember socialism/communism.  That is the economic and political theory that advocates the means of production, distribution and exchange should be regulated by the community (government) as a whole.  Our electorate has seen fit in the last 50 years to elect officials that institute welfare programs that we can’t afford,  with money we don’t have, for people who should not receive them.   We have given up our independence.  Now, with our dependence on our federal government, we have taken the place of the former USSR.   Have we become the New Socialists/Communists?

It gives a whole new context to the motto, ‘Land of the free……..’

Polls2

Polls Are Like Rectums—–Everyone Has One!

True or false.  Recently, there was a poll result posted on an online news agency that said that 50% of the people polled believe that President Trump should be  impeached.  (Cue the Final Jeopardy music, Johnny!)  Time’s up!  Put down your pencils.  The answer is….true.

This got me to thinking.  If I were to conduct a Grandpa T poll with the following question, “What is the name of the  legislative procedure by which Congress votes to remove the POTUS”  I would be safe to bet all the money under Grandma P’s mattress that over half the people in the United States would not know the answer or how to spell the word ‘impeach.’

As you are well aware, there are no shortage of polls.  Everyone has them.  How many times a month do you get that nuisance phone call, expertly disguised by indicating that it is originating in your area code, about all kinds of topics.  Some of my latest calls were about: ‘How satisfied are you with your present bank?’  ‘What is your opinion about abortion?’  (I steer very clear of that particular question, as I think it is more fitting for the female gender.)  ‘Of the following items, which have you heard of or used previously?’  ‘Which company provides you with car insurance?’  ‘Will you answer a few questions about your experience with…..(fill in the blank)’  Those are the easy polls.  Pesky, but easy.  Then we get to the political polls, and that is the topic of this blog.

Whenever you see a political poll, there are certain factors that need to be considered in determining the polls validity.  Here is my list of  ‘common sense’ factors.

  1.  Who is conducting the poll?  There are no shortage of political poll takers.  Fox news conducts polls.  So does ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN and just about any other acronym media source.  The written media conduct their own polls.  One of the oldest poll taking organizations is the Gallup Poll.  George Gallup began taking polls during the 1936 election between Franklin Roosevelt and Alf Landon.  A competing poll was taken by The Literary Digest.  The Literary Digest predicted an Alf Landon victory, whereas George Gallup predicted an FDR victory.  Gallup was correct, and his organization is still in business over 80 years later.  The Literary Digest was wrong and immediately went out of business.  Another pioneer in poll taking was Elmo Roper. He predicted three FDR election victories beginning in 1936.  (Interestingly, both Roper and Gallup incorrectly predicted Dewey’s win over Truman in the 1948 election!)  These are some of the most well known political poll takers, but there are numerous political  and private organizations that take polls involving politics.
  2. Why are the polls being conducted?  While many of the polls are being conducted to inform the electorate, would you believe that many polls are being taken to sway the electorate? Unfortunately, it is true.  Oftentimes, polls are released to make an election front-runner look like a shoe-in, and to persuade an ‘undecided voter’ that if you want to back a winner….vote for our candidate.  Do you remember this happening anytime in recent political history?  How many polls did you see before our last presidential election that indicated that Donald Trump was going to be POTUS?  All of the polls indicated that Hillary Clinton was for sure going to be the next POTUS. As the election day approached, I did observe one poll indicating that Hillary was going to win, but now the numbers were within the ‘margin of error.’  The liberal biased media trumpeted the pending Clinton win, and even carried it into election night when the election took a turn for Trump.  I digress.  Polls are also taken to define an underdog in an election.  This is done to gain support through empathy for a candidate.  In conclusion, while some polls are conducted to be informative, many are conducted to sway the opinion of the electorate because of an underlying political agenda.
  3. Where are the polls taken?  If you were a poll taker in the poll that indicated that 50% of the people of the United States think that Donald Trump should be impeached, do you think you may get different answers in Beverly Hills, California versus what you may get in Beverly Hills, Texas? When I see the results of a poll that is absurd, like the Trump impeachment poll, I always find myself questioning as to where that poll was taken.  Was the poll taken in front of the Lincoln Memorial or in Lincoln, Nebraska?  You can bet your rootin’, tootin’ pearl-handled second amendment six-shooters that if an organization is taking a poll for the purposes of political dissuasion or to support their political agenda, they are going to conduct the poll where they expect to find the answers they desire. (Would it be unreasonable to believe that some numbers may be created and fictitious, especially with regard to the biased media?  Possibly fake polls like fake news?)
  4. How many people were canvassed for the poll?  Very few polls actually give the number of respondents to a poll.  Only 10% of the people respond to poll questions!  Because of technology involving communication, 90% of the people do not answer poll questions.  I do not answer any questions on all those pesky calls we receive on our landline.  But many people do not have landlines and there are laws prohibiting robo-calls to mobile phones.  There is a whole ‘poll science’ that evolves around how modern technology has effected poll numbers and poll results. With all of that being said, do you think a poll with 100, 1000, or 100,000 respondents would be more indicative?  Of course, the larger the sampling, the more statistically accurate the poll.
  5. What are the poll questions being asked and how are the results being reported?  Here is exactly how the Trump impeachment 50% poll was reported:  According to the latest poll, 50% of Americans believe that Donald Trump should be impeached.  There was no mention of who conducted the poll.  There was no mention of where the poll was taken.  There was no mention of the number of respondents.  There was no mention of what the question was that got the result.  What if the question was this, ” Do you think Donald Trump should be impeached if we invade Canada?”  I can see getting 50% positive results to that question.  But I would be hard-pressed, without any of the details of this poll that a 50% impeachment of Trump could be obtained.  Could this particular poll be fictitious?  Could it have been published to make the POTUS look bad?  Did someone have a political agenda?

I am afraid we are all the victims of biased media.  Let me offer an imaginary scenario as offered by my neighbor, John the retired cheese-head cop.  John said, “If Donald Trump said he liked puppies, the media would report: Donald Trump hates cats and old dogs.”    This seems like a fair assumption coming from a retired chief of police.

So, in the spirit of this blog, I Grandpa T, am going to conduct my own poll.  I am now a renowned pollster representing the ‘Buttwipe Survey’, or BS for short.

Question #1.  How many believe that people appearing at marches or demonstrations dressed like ninjas should immediately be arrested, handcuffed, castrated, and jailed before they have the opportunity to partake in the demonstration?  (Okay.  Forget about the castration.  That would be sexist in the event that some of the ninjas are women.)

Question #2.  How many believe that all professional athletes be required to stand, with hand over heart, during the National anthem, because they are entertainers and we want to be entertained and if we wanted a political statement, we would attend a political rally?

The results are in!  Of the one person I canvassed, they responded positively to both questions.  (I could have tripled my respondents, but that would require ringing the neighbors doorbell and I am watching golf on the TV.)

Anyway, readers, you are all smart enough to get the idea.  Not very many of these polls are accurate or scrupulous.  Whenever you see a poll, think of the five items that we covered in this blog to determine its validity.  Remember….polls are like rectums, everyone has one.

PS:  This is Labor Day and I want to thank and honor all of those hard working people who have made this a great nation.  I also want to thank my readers, as I have gone over 600,000 unique hits on this blog.