Tag Archives: Lyndon Johnson

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 Obama Care has not been repealed or replaced.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……..’

voter-id

Is Donald Trump Right About Election Fraud?

Donald Trump has been pounding on the podium recently contending that there is ‘election fraud’ during this upcoming election.  Is he right?

I believe that there could be election fraud, but not for the same reasons as Trump.  Are you familiar with the Voter ID Laws?  A voter ID law is a law that requires some form of official identification in order for a person to register to vote, receive a ballot for an election, or to vote.

In the United States, voter ID laws have been passed in thirty-three states.  At the federal level, the 2002 Help America Vote Act requires a voter ID for all new voters in federal elections who registered by mail and who did not provide a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number that was matched against government records.

Voter ID laws first generated controversy in 1999 when Virginia attempted to implement an ID requirement in a pilot program.  Proponents argue that the laws are a common-sense effort to reduce voter fraud and place little burden on voters.  Opponents argue that voter fraud is extremely rare and has been magnified as an issue to create barriers to voter registration and voting that discriminates against minority groups and others who are statistically less likely to possess photo IDs.

So here are the ways that the states have dealt with voter ID requirements.  Seven states require strict photo ID in order to vote.  Three states have a strict non-photo ID requirement.  Nine states have a non-strict photo ID requirement, which includes my state.  I find this interesting as my home state would not issue us a ballot without a picture ID, so I am confused as to what non-strict photo ID requirement actually means.  It’s not the first time I have been confused.  I digress. Thirteen states have a non-strict non-photo ID requirement.  Appallingly, there are eighteen states and the District of Columbia that do not require any ID to vote at the ballot box.

By now, you realize that the voter ID requirements are certainly diverse and nondescript. If I could provide simple definitions for those five levels of voting requirements, I would.  But here is where I become concerned.  I view my vote as being precious as it is a part of the great democratic process by which we elect our political representatives.  Nowhere in any of these laws does it require proof of citizenship.  There are many states that will issue photo IDs without requiring proof of citizenship.  Thus, with the photo ID, an illegal alien is now voting in our elections.  With the number of illegal aliens now in the United States, there is little doubt that they will influence this election.

I have needed a photo ID to board a plane, to board a cruise ship, to renew my car insurance, to use a credit card, to write a check, to buy Sudafed, to see a doctor, to check in to a clinic or hospital and to vote.; to name a few.     How is this discriminatory as people of all races and backgrounds do at least two or three of what I have listed.  Provide a birth certificate and get a photo ID.  How difficult is that?  Yet, I have seen people vote by presenting an electric bill with an address that is located in the polling place precinct.  No ID was required as to whether the voter was the name on the electric bill.  How many times could that electric bill be used to vote?  How many times can dead people continue to vote?  No, I am not making this up.

Minnesota has had two election recounts in recent years.  In both instances, the Republican candidates where leading by small margins.  After the recount, both candidates lost.  In both cases, uncounted ballots were suddenly located in the heart of the liberal metropolitan area.  Surprisingly, just enough Democrat votes were found.  Voter fraud?  Ballot box stuffing?

Also in Minnesota, a young reporter went into a courthouse in a Minneapolis suburb with a hidden mini-camera.  He went into the courthouse with the following story, “I work in a nursing home, and I am concerned that some of our patients will have difficulty getting to the polling places.”  The result? The clerk handed him 25 absentee ballots without question, without proof.  What happened next? He was able to do it again with the same results at another courthouse!  Voter fraud?   That little item appeared on 60 Minutes.

It astounds me that we now have chips on our credit cards to avoid theft, but far less care is taken to protect the sanctity of our elections. If this is what Trump is referring to when he speaks of election fraud, then I certainly can concur.

Or, is Trump referring to the biased media reporting?  During the last debate, he came under fire for what he said about women in a tape from 2005.  His type of talk was referred to as ‘locker room talk.’ I have referred to it as ‘gutter talk.’  (By the way, this kind of talk would eliminate 90% of the men I have known in my life from being president, as well as an equal amount of women!)   Either way, the screaming liberals came out of the woodwork to express their disdain for such talk.  Republican politicians began jumping ship from his support. Donald scored some points during the debate by saying that talking about women was one thing, but abusing them in action was another.  Of course, this was a not so veiled reference to Bill Clinton. That pretty much rocked Hillary for the rest of the debate.   An then….and then….just as Grandma P predicted  (which I found very uncanny and somewhat frightening) women could not come forth fast enough to tell their stories of how Donald Trump groped them and made sexual advances upon them.  This was no doubt to bring Donald down to the level of Bill (he would have to practice to match Bill!) and to detract from those damn pesky deleted emails that Wikileaks keeps publishing.  As I am writing this, more of these accusation stories have proven to be fictitious.

Those deleted emails are getting more interesting by the day.  They have indicated that there is collusion between the Clinton campaign and the media.  There is plenty of evidence of what was done to erase those damaging emails.  There are references about influence peddling as Secretary of State coupled with  contributions to the Clinton Foundation.  There is now evidence that they attempted to pressure the FBI to declassify some of the emails, so the campaign can say that no classified emails were sent on a non-secure computer.  It appears Hillary received the questions concerning the debates before the debates.  Bill Clinton received a million dollar birthday gift from the country of Qatar, while at the same time, the State Department was indicating that Qatar was sponsoring terrorism!   I am waiting for the shoe to drop on Benghazi and the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation being the personal piggy bank of the Clinton family and no doubt funding a huge portion of her election campaign with foreign contributors.  Of course, this is illegal, but that has not stopped the Clinton money machine yet.

But with all of this information about the missing emails….with all the serious illegal, immoral and indecent items that are being released in these emails….the mainstream media has devoted seven times more TV air time to Trump’s female accusers than they have on the deleted emails.  In fact, some of the major TV networks are not reporting about the released emails at all!

The timing of these women accusing Trump could not be more suspicious.  If they were so concerned about how he treated women, why did they not come forth during the primaries.  Certainly these maidens of virtue would have been Ted Cruz supporters and would have wanted to do the proper Christian thing.  But noooooooo, after winning some points against Bill during the last debate, that is the response that Trump received.  I am not saying Trump is an angel, but the timing and the number of these accusations appears to be coordinated.

It is obvious to me that these ranting self-righteous Liberals are not students of history.  The Democratic party has had more than their fair share of presidential and political bad boys   When Franklin D. Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia; he was not with Eleanor, his wife.  He was with his mistress of decades, Lucy Mercer.  We all know that JFK was a presidential bad boy.  So were his brothers Teddy and Bobby.  Then we go to LBJ.  Another presidential bad boy who had mistresses in the White House.  Then there is Bill Clinton.  “I did not have relations with that woman.” Well, he did have relations with that woman and lied numerous times about it.  “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones!”

If Jesus Christ would appear on earth and run for president as a Republican, I am convinced the liberal, biased media would tear him apart.

This is the sleaziest election of my lifetime.  The personal attacks have no boundaries or limitations. I fear it will only sink further before election day.   It is very disheartening to see the media, our watch dogs of society and of truth, fall lockstep into this biased reporting and smear campaign.  Forget the issues, don’t report the relevance of those missing emails….smear, smear, smear!

Does Donald Trump have justification for saying the election campaign is rigged?  If you take into consideration the biased media, fictitious accusations, voters voting without an ID, voters voting who may not be US citizens, well, how could you disagree.

God Help America.  God Bless America.

Vietnam-Jihadi-John

Viet Nam War and Islamic terrorism. What’s the strategy?

I am beginning to get that pit in my stomach that tells me that I am experiencing a feeling that I last experienced almost 50 years ago.  Or, as that great philosopher Yogi Berra said, “it’s deja vu all over again.”  So sayeth the late Yogi.

This feeling of discomfort is being caused by my memories of the Viet Nam War and how we are approaching the handling/elimination of radical Islamic military groups.  In particular, our recent involvement in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

People that are younger than the baby boomer generation were never exposed to the turbulence and violence of the Viet Nam War.  It was also known as the Second Indochina War and, by our antagonists the North Vietnamese, it was known as the Resistance War Against America.

Because of the US strategy for curbing the spread of communism, we got involved in Southeast Asia.  The Eisenhower administration had a strategy that was called the ‘domino theory.’  The domino theory was the belief that if one country fell to the Communists, in this case South Viet Nam, then other surrounding countries would also fall to communism.  Specifically, there was concern about Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand and, believe it or not, concern about India, Japan and the Philippines.  In retrospect, this all seems surreal, but at that time, it was a concern that formulated into a strategy.

Viet Nam became a Cold War era proxy war.  In one corner, we had the US with its anti-communist allies.  Most of these allies were members of SEATO (Southeast Asia Treaty Organization).  In the other corner, the North Vietnamese were supported by Russia, China and other communist countries.  Did you know that Castro visited and Cuba supported the North Vietnamese with troops?

In 1950, American military advisors arrived in what was then French Indochina.  US involvement escalated in the early 60s, with troop levels tripling in 1961 (3,200) and again in 1962 (11,300).  The US involvement escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident in which a US destroyer clashed with a North Vietnamese fast attack craft. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was passed through congress, which gave the POTUS authorization to increase the military presence.  Thus, regular US combat units were deployed beginning in 1965.  Operations crossed international borders.  Laos and Cambodia were heavily bombed because the Ho Chi Minh trail ran through both countries and moved men and material from the North into the South.  Our troop level reached its zenith in 1968 with 536,100 US military personnel in Viet Nam.

Any time the enemy massed their forces and attempted to fight the US/South Vietnamese forces in conventional warfare, the US side was the winner.  An example of this was the infamous Tet offensive, which was launched by the North Vietnamese on January 31, 1967.  Over 100 cities were attacked by over 85,000 North Vietnamese troops at a time when there was suppose to be a cease-fire truce. The US forces, after the initial shock, responded and decimated the enemy with the use of the US superior firepower.  Tet was also the turning point for American civilian support for the US war effort.  The Tet offensive came as a surprise and generated many American deaths.  It did not matter that we won that battle decisively, it was more a belief that our military and political leaders were losing credibility in the conduct of the war.

Viet Nam has been called the ‘Living Room’ war.  That is because on every newscast, there were very explicit pictures of injured, dying or dead Americans.  It was reality TV before reality TV was ever concocted.  Cameramen had no scruples when it came to sticking a TV camera inches from the face of a dying American.  They also did this with the faces of the dead.  How would you like to have seen your loved one dying on the 6PM newscast?   That is exactly what happened.  Don’t get me wrong, I think the reality of war should be shown……but our news broadcasts went on broadcasting steroids and showed all of this night, after night, after night.  And the more bloody and violent, the more the media reveled in bringing it into your living room.  It was little wonder that American support for the war waned as the war continued.  I have not watched a newscast since the Viet Nam war because of this.  I read my news or select my news sources on the internet; but I have held true to not watching a TV newscast since the 70s.

Our enemy was smart and patient.  They conducted large scale operations infrequently and relied more on small unit or gorilla tactics.  They were much more successful with this tactic.  Eventually, we realized that Viet Nam was a losing proposition.  This was mostly because of weak and unstable South Vietnamese leadership.  Direct US military involvement ended on 15 August, 1973.  Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese army in April 1975.

There you have it.  Five presidents, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon were all involved in some degree with placing military advisors or military troops in Viet Nam.  There were 58,220 American causalities.  The best estimates of North Vietnamese causalities is 1.1 million!

I can tell you from firsthand experience that the Viet Nam War turned the lives of draft age men upside down.  Draft?  Do you younger readers have any idea of what the draft entailed?  Men were needed to fill the ranks of the military, so the government reinstituted the draft for the first time since World War II.  This was handled by the Selective Service Administration.  December 1, 1969 was the fateful night the first draft was conducted since 1942!  Your fate, your future was dependent on what order your birthdate was drawn on one of the 366 little balls that looked exactly like bingo balls.  And the first winner of this wonderful lottery?  September 14 was the first number selected.  Bummer.  June 8 was the 366th ball drawn.  You were golden!  All of the men drafted were from the first 195 numbers drawn that night.

There were deferments for college, married with children, sole source of family support, physical disability and a myriad of other conditions.  But the college deferment was a double edged sword.  If you flunked out, or dropped out from lack of money…you immediately received your ‘Order to Report for Physical Exam.’  If you were physically fit, you then received your ‘Order to Report for Induction.’  Many men chose another military branch before being drafted into the Army or Marines.  72,000 chose to flee to Canada, as Canada did not support our Viet Nam War effort and provided a safe haven.

At this point, I need to interject that I am not a lucky person.  I will never win the Powerball.  I began college in the fall of 1966 and enrolled in ROTC.  I was commissioned in 1971 and missed the Viet Nam experience as the war was rapidly winding down by the time I completed my Office Basic Course.  My draft number?  293.  I would never have been drafted.  Many of my ROTC classmates that dropped out of college for any reason, were immediately drafted as the Army already had a file on them and they had already passed a physical.  There were times when they dropped out of college and were inducted within 2 weeks!  I have never visited the Viet Nam memorial, as I know too many men killed in Viet Nam from my ROTC classes of 1967-1970.  The class of 1968 was decimated.

In 1973, we went to an all volunteer military system.

Remember my deja vu feeling from the first paragraph?  Well, here is why I have it.  During the Viet Nam War, Lyndon Baines Johnson escalated the war like no other president.  He had a ‘war room’ in the White House.  He and his staff would determine targets to be bombed or not bombed, and then send their decisions to the Pentagon.  Micromanaging at its finest.  I am a believer that war is the result of the failure of political processes.  No war in the US was ever started by the military.  Once the politicians turn our forces loose on an enemy, they should let the war-planners do what they do best…..win one for the home team!  But that was not what happened in Viet Nam.  The politicians not only put their fingers in the pie, they were in up to their elbows.  The result?  We lost.  We decided to fight this war with one arm behind our back and we lost many lives needlessly.

Another example?  Remember ‘Stormin’ Norman’ Schwarzkopf and the first Iraqi War?  It was a marvelous example of military planning and execution.  We won the war with cunning and daring with a minimal amount of casualties.  Then the politicians got involved.  They thought it would be cute if it could be called the ‘100 hour’ war even though the largest battle took place after that 100 hour mark.  Then the politicians decided that we needed to stop knocking out tanks and leave Saddam Hussein in power.  The result?  Iraqi War II.

So here it is.  What is our strategy to defeat Islamic terrorism at home and abroad?  Do we have a strategy?  Are we using airplanes to attack this enemy, when a knife would be more appropriate?  Is the White House directing our efforts or is the Pentagon?   Is there an effort?   Quite honestly, with the number of generals and admirals that have been ‘voluntarily retired’ during this administration, I am losing confidence in both.  Shades of Viet Nam.  I’m feeling that pit in my stomach again.

PS:  HB2U, HB2U, HB Common Sense by Grandpa T, HB2U.

Yes, December 28 is the third anniversary of when I established this website.  I began writing after the election in 2012, but did not establish the blog until December 28.  After our first year, we had 42,556 unique hits.  On our second anniversary last year, 130,612 unique hits.  This year?  277,463 unique hits!   More than double the first two years!   Wow and thank you.   Grandpa T

Political-Ads

Mudslinging and Misinformation – An American Political Art Form

Have you noticed the direction that political ads have taken?

Recently, Grandma P and I visited our former home state to attend a wedding.  In that state, the political races are a little closer than in our current home state.  The political ads ran 24/7!

The mudslinging!  The accusations!  The character “assassinations!’   Those were just the political commercials running on Cartoon Network!  Holy Crap!  If even 25% of the accusations are  true, all of these candidates should be in prison, not in Washington, D.C.  (Now that is a unique concept!)

I hate election season.  It wrecks my television viewing!  I miss my commercials for expensive cars, body lotions, perfumes, and soda drinks.  They don’t stand a chance against the venomous, biased ads run by political candidates.

What really gores my bull is the misinformation spewed during these commercials.

If you have read any of my blogs, you know that they have a conservative tone.  What really, really upsets me about most of the liberal candidate advertising is the continuation of the ‘class warfare’ element.  Being ‘rich’ is being pandered as being synonymous with being a ‘crook.’  It is being used as a 4 letter word by the Democratic party.  The inference is that if someone is ‘rich,’ those evil people got there by nefarious means, and no doubt on the backs of the poor!  Those ‘rich’ people obviously achieved everything they have by using the backs of the poor as their stepping stones to success.  (Interestingly enough, the Democratic candidates in our former home state are out-spending the Republicans approximately 3:2.  Apparently there is a lot of money available to ‘buy’ votes.)

As stupid as that last paragraph sounds, it is the underlying tone of much of the liberal advertising.  Never mind hard work, getting an education or taking chances in the business world – it is all for naught, because the government will take care of you.  You can have what those ‘rich’ scoundrels have without the effort.  You are entitled to what they have!  Why work for it?

The reason I find this upsetting is that this attitude contradicts the spirit in which this country was founded.  Independence – to do or achieve what you want without government intervention.  Freedom – to be all you can be.  Responsibility – to yourself and to your family to ensure the continuance of freedom and independence.  The liberal agenda seems to be to cast aside these founding principles and, instead, adopt the assurance that you can feed at the bountiful udder of the government teat.  That cow will eventually go dry!

Here are some examples of specific claims I saw in some of these advertisements.

“Candidate X wants to privatize social security.”  This was presented by a 30-something as if the world would end if Candidate X got reelected.  Have you polled anyone under 40 lately about the likelihood of them receiving social security?  I have.  I can assure you that everyone that I have talked to about this does not believe social security will be available once they reach retirement age.  The smart ones are preparing for that eventuality by saving and contributing into their retirement accounts.  Wow!  What a novel idea!  These people are taking responsibility for preparing for their own future retirement.  According to the liberals, these people need to be eradicated, or at least reprogrammed.  Of course, the liberals also like to scare the bejesus out of the elderly by convincing them that social security could be taken away tomorrow.  This will not happen.  That 30 something that was castigating candidate X should have been jumping up and down for joy, as should all the younger members of our society.  Privatization would mean that you could keep all your money and invest it as you see fit!  Again – individual responsibility.  It takes discipline to save.   Yes, it could be taxed to fund the existing social security system until its termination.  But, I believe, most of the younger generation would accept that as a tradeoff.

Why won’t it happen?  Privatizing social security takes the money out of the hands of the people that covet it most – the government of the United States.  Yup, ever since the Johnson administration and the burdening cost of the Viet Nam war, all presidents have used social security funds to balance the federal budget.  This worked well when there were 20 workers for every retiree. We are now down to 3 workers per retiree with the skids greased to get to two workers per retiree.  What started out as a supplemental income became a permanent retirement plan, with most people convinced to not save because ‘Uncle Sam’ will take care of them.  It has become a Ponzi scheme that cannot be funded permanently.  So what do you think of candidate X now?

Here was another observed advertisement.  “Candidate Y accepted campaign monies from companies that outsource American jobs to foreign companies.”  On the surface, this would sound like another nefarious act on the part of Candidate Y.  Let’s string the unpatriotic bastard from the highest tree, just like they did to cattle rustlers in the old west!  But wait just a darn minute, buckaroo!  Before I slap my trusty steed, Old Blueballs on the butt and leave Candidate Y swinging in the breeze, let’s think about this for a second.  If you were to check the labels on the clothing you are now wearing, how much clothing would you be wearing if you only wore ‘American made’ clothing?  If you were to rid yourself of all computers and televisions in your home that are not  American made, how many would you have?  Here is my wild guess as to the answers to the two previous questions: You would be standing nude, looking at a blank wall!  Most of our goods are foreign made.  In the 80s, I bought a new Cadillac.  You can imagine my surprise when I found out it was assembled in Canada!  I was further surprised to learn that half the nuts and bolts on that car were ‘American’ sizes and half were metric.  I found that out when I had it serviced.  Most large American manufacturers have a foreign facility.  We are dependent on these foreign goods.  It is safe to say that  practically every candidate that accepts campaign funds from a large company is also accepting funds from a company that has outsourced labor to a foreign country.  Of course, we could always lower our world high corporate tax rate from 40% down to the world average 22%, but that would mean reducing federal spending.  This has been done previously, and it resulted in increased tax revenue because of the higher revenues received from a lower unemployment rate.  It stimulated the economy.   That would be a smart move on the part of Congress, so don’t expect to see it anytime soon.

The most venomous ad I observed went like this; “Candidate Z supports tax cuts for millionaires!”  There we go again.  Go get Old Blueballs out of the stable,  because we got another galoot to hang from a tall oak tree!  Those darn millionaires got there on the backs of the poor and they are not paying their fair share of taxes!  Get the rope!  Maybe we should delay that execution for just a moment.  In 2010, the top ten percent wage earners paid over 70% of the total amount collected in federal income taxes.  The remaining 90% bore just under 30% of the tax burden.  Forty-seven percent of all Americans paid hardly anything at all – a fact that got Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney into political hot water during the  2012 political campaign.  In 1986, the top ten percent wage earners paid 55% of the total federal taxes.  In 1986 there were just two tax rates – 15% and 28%.  (Ahhhh, the good old days!)  Now there are seven income tax brackets, ranging from 10% to nearly 40%. (So much for simplifying the tax codes!)   Now someone needs to educate me as to how the top ten percent wage earners, those people paying over 70% of the federal government taxes, are not paying their fair share?  Their tax burden has gone up 12% since 1986!  Maybe Candidate Z deserves not to be hanged today.  He probably understands that if we decrease government spending, maybe those darn millionaires do deserve a tax break, getting us back to the tax rates of the ‘good old days.’

Of course, no election campaign would be complete without referencing Obamacare.  I am against this plan simply because it was forced onto the American public by a Democratically controlled Congress that had not read the act or put any forethought into its administration.  It was a hair-brained Democrat scheme to purchase votes, once again trying to get the masses onto the seemingly endless government teat.  So far, Obamacare has appeared to do more harm than good.  Its overall administration has been a disaster.  It proves once again that private enterprise, not the federal government, is more efficient at administering large scale programs.

So there you have it.  Our upcoming midterm election – that time of year when television revenues are going through the roof because of political advertising, and ad agencies sink to an abyss of lost ethics by making their candidates’ opponents look like political derelicts and crooks.

What don’t we see in any of these ads?  Spending cuts.  Established sunsets on all welfare benefits.  Term limits.  Drug testing for present and future welfare recipients.  Corporate tax reductions.  Income tax reductions.  A flat income tax.   Social security/retirement revision.  Somehow, none of these very important items makes the final cut in any of these ads.

I can’t wait until the elections are over so I can get back to my favorite ads.

Go vote!  Or as the Bayou Mauler, editor at large, would say, “Geaux vote!”

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics, is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”  Plato

walter-williams

Poverty, Fostered by the Cocaine of Dependency

Grandma P and I have been fortunate in that we have done extensive traveling and have visited over fifty countries.  Many, but not all, of these visits were done from the comfort of a cruise ship.  In many instances, a one-day visit was more than enough.

The one thing that Grandma P and I agree on during these travels is the definition of poverty, of being poor.  We both agree that most Americans have not seen what real poverty looks like.  How many people live in the United States in houses that lack both windows and doors and have dirt floors?  Not too many.  Yet, we have seen it many times in countries in the Caribbean and in both Central or South America.

Many people have to grow the food they eat.  We saw this on a recent trip to the South Pacific.  Did you know there are two Samoas?  Yup.  One Samoa is Western Samoa which is directly north of New Zealand and is also an independent country.  It is beautiful!  What was memorable about Western Samoa was that everyone, regardless of their meager homes, had beautiful gardens that provided fruit and vegetables.  Many raised animals.  Everyone was busy making a living in whatever manner was available.  Everyone was outwardly happy and appeared to be productive.  There are no welfare programs in Western Samoa.  It gets back to that age-old principle of, ‘you eat what you kill.’

The next day we went to Eastern Samoa, more commonly known as America Samoa.  It is the only US protectorate of the four US protectorates in the southern hemisphere.  It was also beautiful.   As we were touring America Samoa, the gardens were not as prevalent.  Many yards did not have gardens.  The homes and yards were not as well kept as we had seen at Western Samoa.   I noticed this and could not figure out the reason for the big differences between the two islands.  This was especially perplexing as many of the people on both of the islands are related.  The airplane shuttle service between the islands is always busy.  As we were at the end of the tour and heading back to our ship, the answer became evident.  As we were passing one of the biggest groceries on the island, there it was – the answer– in big letters prominently displayed in the window – ‘We Accept Food Stamps.’

Who knew?  Did you know that our protectorates receive welfare?  Want to guess who is paying for this?  Oh yeah, the American taxpayer.  We are also paying for Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

I digress.  One of the most poverty stricken cities we have visited is Cairo, Egypt.  Pretty much everything is filthy and dust covered.  The Cairo system of garbage removal is to push all garbage into the Nile river.  When the spring floods come, it all gets washed north to the Mediterranean.  If Egypt did not have the pyramids or the sphinx, tourists would never go there.  Talk about poverty!

Now I am going to do something that I have not done in over a year of writing this blog.  I am going to republish an article that appeared in my local newspaper this week in its entirety.  I am doing this for three reasons.  Firstly, the winter Olympics are on, and I am an Olympic junky.  I have been since 1960.  Secondly, I have four brothers-in-law and four sisters-in-law coming to stay at our house this week.  I need to store up my limited amount of ‘niceness, best behavior and tolerance.’  Lastly, Walter Williams has punched this poverty/dependency issue squarely in the face and has done an excellant job of writing about it.  Walter’s columns are syndicated, but obviously do not appear in many newspapers.  I never knew who he was, or saw his columns until I moved to the South from the Midwest.   Why?  He is black, and he is conservative.  That does not bode well in the blue states or in the liberal media.  He is a professor of economics at George Mason University.  His article:

America’s problem isn’t poverty, it’s dependency ( by Walter Williams)

“There is no material poverty in the United States.  Here are a few facts about people whom the Census Bureau labels as poor.  Dr. Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, in their study “Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America’s Poor,” report that 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning, nearly three-quarters have a car or truck and 31 percent have two or more.  Two-thirds have cable or satellite TV.  Half have one or more computers.  Forty-two percent own their homes.  Poor Americans have more living space than the typical non-poor person in Sweden, France or the United Kingdom.

What we have in our nation are dependency and poverty of the spirit, with people making unwise choices and leading pathological lives aided and abetted by the welfare state.

The Census Bureau pegs the poverty rate among blacks at 35 percent and among whites at 13 percent.  The illegitimacy rate among blacks is 72 percent and among whites it’s 30 percent.  A statistic that one doesn’t hear much about is that the poverty rate among black married families has been in the single digits for more than two decades; it’s currently at 8 percent.  For married white families, it’s 5 percent.

Now the politically incorrect questions:  Whose fault is it to have children without the benefit of marriage and risk a life of dependency?  Do people have free will, or are they governed by instincts?

There may be some pinhead sociologists who blame the weak black family structure on racial discrimination.  But why was the black illegitimacy rate only 14 percent in 1940, and why, as Dr. Thomas Sowell reports, do we find that census data “going back a hundred years, when blacks were just one generation out of slavery…. showed that a slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than white adults.  This fact remained true in every census from 1890 to 1940.”

Is anyone willing to advance the argument that the reason the illegitimacy rate among blacks was lower and marriage rates higher in earlier periods was there was less racial discrimination and greater opportunity?

No one can blame a person if he starts out in life poor, because how one starts out is not his fault.  If he stays poor, he is to blame because it is his fault.

Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science.  First, graduate from high school.  Second, get married before you have children, and stay married.  Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage.  And finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior.

It turns out that a married couple, each earing the minimum wage, would earn an annual combined income of $30,000.  The Census Bureau poverty line for a family of two is $15,500, and for a family of four it’s $23,000.  By the way, no adult who starts out earning the minimum wage does so for very long.

Since President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty, the nation has spent about $18 trillion at the federal, state and local levels of government on programs justified by the “need” to deal with some aspect of poverty.  In a column of mine in 1995, I pointed out that at that time, the nation had spent $5.4 trillion on the War on Poverty, and with that princely sum, “you could purchase every US factory, all manufacturing equipment, and every office building.  With what’s left over, one could buy every airline, trucking company and our commercial maritime fleet.  If you’re still in the shopping mood, you could also buy every television, radio and power company, plus every retail and wholesale store in the entire nation.”

Today’s total of $18 trillion spent on poverty means you could purchase everything produced in our country each year and then some.

There’s very little guts in the political arena to address the basic causes of poverty.  To do so risks being labeled as racist, sexist, uncaring and insensible.  That means today’s dependency is likely to become permanent.”  (the end)

Whew!  I could not have said any of this better than Walter Williams himself did in his article.  If you are not familiar with any of Walter’s articles, you should acquaint yourself – right after you read mine.  His perspective is both astute and refreshing.

My heart rate has just jumped!  Olympic curling is back on the TV.  You must be familiar with curling.  It is the only Olympic sport where a fat man with a beer gut can realistically fantasize about being an Olympic medal winner!  Those other sports are too physical and would actually require me to move off the couch and train!  Pass the pretzels.