Tag Archives: welfare

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

GRUMPY – The Party that Dwarfs all Others!

Sound the trumpets!  Hang the banners!  Unfurl the flags!  It is time to unleash a new political party in the United States.  Move over Democrats.  Tremble with fear Republicans.  The newest and greatest political party to appear in the history of the United States of America is making its debut!

The name?  Our new party is called  ‘Government Revisions Utilizing Many Practical Years’  party.  If you are having a difficult time remembering the name, it is perfectly acceptable to refer to the ‘party’ by its acronym.  We are the ‘GRUMPY’ party!

In lieu of having a donkey or an elephant as a mascot, we will use Grumpy from the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as our mascot.  Why?  First of all, Grumpy is a person, not an ass or a mammoth.  Secondly, Grumpy looks a lot like me and most of my readers, both in appearance and temperament!

Our party is founded on the basis and belief of ‘common sense.’  As the party chair, I make a motion that we accept the definition of common sense as follows:  Common sense is knowing the difference between right, wrong and stupid!  All in favor of accepting this definition signify by saying aye?  Opposed?  Motion carried unanimously!  (Could it get any easier?)

The GRUMPY party will now establish the party plank.  The following items have been submitted for the GRUMPY party plank.

Balance the budget,

Term limits,

Uphold the constitution

Support our military and law enforcement officials,

Stop illegal immigration,

Reduce corporate taxes,

Birth control,

Attack terrorism wherever it rears its ugly head,

Balancing the Federal Budget

Balancing the budget will never be an easy task, but it will always be a necessary one.  No other item poses as much of a threat to the US, or our way of life, than our mounting national debt.  We may think that external enemies are our largest threat, when in fact, it is our internal fiscal policies that will eventually have a greater and more devastating effect.

Social/welfare programs take up the largest share of our budget.  There are 79 welfare programs managed by the federal government!  These programs, in fiscal year 2011 cost America $717 billion!  Social security cost us $785 billion.  Medicare costs totaled $574 billion.  That accounts for $2.1 trillion of our $3.7 trillion total budget!  How can we afford this?  The short answer is that we can’t, so the government continues to borrow.  The current interest on this debt is about $260 billion every year.  This is the  interest cost during a time when the interest rates are historically low.  It is anticipated that, when the fiscal 2013 figures are released, all of these expenses will increase.

There was a ‘talking head’ on television yesterday that forewarned that at our current rate of government borrowing, and with interest rates expected to rise to a modest 6%, that by the year 2022, the interest rate costs on our growing debt will exceed $1 trillion!  That is only 8 years away!

Social Security, Medicare and the other welfare programs need to scrutinized and revamped or eliminated altogether.

Currently, the federal government pays 75% of the welfare costs, with the state governments paying 25% for the 79 programs that exclude Social Security and Medicare. The states provide the administration for these programs.  During the Clinton administration, there was a bill passed that put the limit for receipt of welfare to a 5-year term.  Do you think that is being enforced at the state level? Probably not, with the ‘big brother’ federal government footing 75% of the cost.  Our party plank proposes that the federal government cuts their welfare contribution for the 79 programs to $210 billion, which matches the states’ contribution.  That would save over $500 billion.  You can rest assured the state governments would become much more ‘efficient’ out of necessity.

Here are some suggestions for further reduction of government spending. We could eliminate most, if not all, of the czars.  We currently have 38 czars drawing salaries and employing their own staffs.  We could eliminate the Asian carp czar, bird flu czar, climate czar and the Great Lakes czar without much governmental degradation!  (Yes, these are real czars!) We could eliminate the Department of Education and the Department of Energy.  They are both unnecessary and were not a part of the administration until Jimmy Carter became POTUS. The country survived before their presence.

Term Limits

The GRUMPY party recognizes that balancing an inflated budget requires smart people with a sense of what is right for America.  Most of the people currently representing our electorate are more concerned with getting re-elected than with doing what is right for our country.  Thus the term limits.

During the early 90s, there was a groundswell movement to place term limits on our federal officials.  It was popular with the majority of the people in the United States, but it never became a law. Why?  Because the Supreme Court, that group of legal adventurers that do not have any term limits, determined that it was unconstitutional.

Grandpa T’s Rule Number 1:  Politicians are more concerned about getting re-elected than they are about doing what is good for the country.

We need to raise that groundswell again.  Additionally, we should put term limits on the Supreme Court.  They should not be allowed to fossilize while sitting on the bench!

Uphold the Constitution

Our forefathers agonized and debated over what would be in our Constitution.  They masterminded a document that has not only been a model for this country, but for other democratic countries that followed us.

So does it not appear that more effort is being placed on circumventing the constitution than on enforcing it?

Obamacare?  How exactly was that determined to be constitutional by the fossils, oops, I mean the Justices of the Supreme Court?  Politics!   You can imagine the pressure placed on these Justices to further this program because it would garner votes for the Democratic party.  It was another ‘feel good’ program that was not affordable and now appears to be unmanageable.  Remember, the Republicans have been strongly criticized for opposing this program.

The Constitution and the Bill of Rights have insured individual freedoms.  Yet, we have people continuously attempting to chip away at both in the hope of converting this country from a democratic nation to a socialistic nation.

The GRUMPY party position?  Defend and enforce the Constitution!

Support our Military and Law Enforcement Officials

The GRUMPY party supports our Military and Law Enforcement officials for all of the sacrifices that they have made to protect our country and to ensure our safety.

We, oftentimes, overlook the dangers that law enforcement faces.  I have known many people that were in the military but were also cops.  I have often said that I would rather be in the military, because you normally knew who the enemy was.  When you are a cop, the enemy looks just like anyone and could strike at any time without warning.  A routine traffic stop can turn into a policeman’s fatality.

If you don’t support these people, then imagine yourself in the position to replace them and do the job yourself.  You would appreciate their service all the more!

I find it interesting that our current POTUS has taken it upon himself to criticize the law enforcement community on numerous occasions.  Trayvon Martin and the current situation in Ferguson comes to mind. Aren’t the Secret Service basically policemen?  Isn’t their mission to protect and to serve? What would the POTUS do if they walked off the job?  Hmmmm.

Stop Illegal Immigraton

There are ways to become a legal US citizen.  It takes time and effort to become a legalized US citizen.

Allowing 10,000 illegals to cross the border every day is not the way to develop a stronger America.  Our southern border is so porous that it has been used by terrorists.  Many of these people are illiterate, diseased and of questionable character.  Yet, the POTUS has deemed “mean” the Republicans  that want to strengthen our southern border.

A policy that allows temporary work permits needs to be put in place.  The borders need to be regulated.

The GRUMPY party position is that we do not want people in this country whose first act was to commit a crime by entering it illegally.  There are laws and we need people to have the guts to enforce them.

Reduce Corporate Taxes

We exist in a global economy and yet we expect our corporations to compete globally  while paying the highest corporate taxes in the world.

The real way to strengthen our country, increase employment and expand our economy is through private businesses and corporations, not by increasing the size of government.   Corporate taxes represent about 16% of the federal taxes received.  That means that 84% come from working, tax-paying individuals.  Reduce corporate taxes and we will really stimulate the economy, not artificially stimulating the economy as the Federal Reserve has been doing.  Reagan did it.  Even JFK reduced corporate taxes to stimulate the economy.

Grandpa T’s Rule Number 2:  Corporations and businesses are in business to make a profit.

The GRUMPY party  supports cutting corporate taxes in conjunction with cutting government spending.

Birth Control

Here is the GRUMPY party’s most controversial position concerning birth control and abortion.  The GRUMPY party has decided not to have any position!

Yup.  As a man, I have never understood how something as personal as birth control and abortion have made it to the national arena.  Isn’t this a very personal item?

I have my opinions, but I also firmly believe this issue should be at the state governmental level or lower.  I would be perfectly content with allowing any woman to choose her own option concerning this matter.  As mentioned, I have difficulty understanding how this has been elevated to a national issue.

Terrorism

ISIS is a well funded, well organized terrorist group that has already killed Americans and is holding other Americans hostage.  Where did they get their money?  Which countries are giving them military and financial support?

Whether you call them ISIS, Hamas, Al Qaida or any of a number of other names, it all boils down to the same thing – they are all terrorists. They will kill innocent people without mercy.  They particularly relish nabbing and killing Christians or people of any religion that differs from their fanatical teachings.  They especially enjoy capturing American Christians, which equates to being a ‘terrorist twofer.’

The GRUMPY party position?  Kill and engage any terrorist organization that rears its ugly head. (I would like us to go to the sponsors of these terrorists, but I would sound like a warmonger if I were to say that Iran and Saudi Arabia would be prime suspects.  Saudi Arabia, you ask?  Remember, most of the 7/11 terrorists were Saudis.  Yet the POTUS knelt to kiss their king’s hand.)

There you have it.  We have launched a new political party and have established a party plank.  This is much more of an accomplishment than what has been done in Washington during the month of August.   I can hear the groundswell for GRUMPY party support gaining momentum as my fingers fly over the keyboard.  And just like the Russians invading the Ukraine, we launched our party during the Congressional summer recess and while the POTUS was golfing.

Sometimes, it is just too easy.

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.

Five Keys to a Better Kingdom

I realized recently that I have lived through the administrations of twelve different Presidents: six Republicans and six Democrats.  Some were very good Presidents, and some contributed very little to society or our country. That is  the subject of a later post, however.

Having lived through these twelve administrations, I can say (with an elder statesman’s  degree of certainty) that there are some improvements that could be made to our government.   There is always room for improvement.  Right?  So I am presenting the five most important changes that I believe would greatly enhance life in the United States. (All of these issues have been addressed in greater detail in previous blogs.)

Sooooooooo, I want you to use your imagination. (while imagination is typically a liberal trait, I need my conservative friends to exercise the left side of their brain for the purposes of this blog!)  Similar to the imagination it took to create that classic movie, ‘Wizard of Oz’; and that recent movie, ‘The Butler’, I want you to imagine that I, Grandpa T, am not only a blog writer of no reputation, but am now ‘King Grandpa T the First’,  King of the United States of America.  You can refer to me as KGTF, for short.  Ready?  Imagination activated?

Hear ye!  Hear ye!

1.  INITIATE TERM LIMITS

If I could wave my magic wand, (as no doubt King Grandpa T would have) the first decree would be to institute term limits across the kingdom.

In colonial times, our federal representatives had to leave their occupations for the privilege of serving the people.  Once they had done their duty to the country, they returned to their previous occupations.  Many of these representatives faced financial burden by not being able to oversee their day-to-day interests.

Today, we have too many professional politicians.  They begin their careers at the local, county and state levels, and they eventually work their way to a federally elected position.  My opinion is that all of these elected officials be limited to 12 years of federal service.  Representatives could serve up to six two-year terms, and Senators could serve two six-year terms.

There was a huge groundswell for term limits in the early 90s, but it was not passed by our federal representatives.  Many of the current states do have term limits for people elected to state offices.

Power corrupts.  Even though many of our elected officials begin with the best of intentions, they soon put forth more effort in getting reelected than in managing affairs that are good for the country.  They succumb to special interests, especially those special interests that come with campaign contributions and votes.  These special interests do not always convey principles that are good for the realm (country).

In short, we need fresh people with fresh ideas to meet the challenges of a changing world

2.  REPEAL AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE(OBAMACARE)

As king, I would behead anyone that would present a proposed law for the land that is 2,000 pages long, and requires 20,000 pages to administer. (Or at the very least, I would have them fired!)  But lo and behold, it is currently acceptable for the Council of Jesters in that foreign land called Washington, DC.  They passed it without having read it!

Not only was it proposed and passed, but it is also a law that is unconstitutional, unaffordable, and was directly responsible for a five-year economic spiral from which we are just now beginning to recover.

Really?  The Constitution of the United States says that health care is a mandate?  Not hardly!

If you think current health care is expensive, then pass laws limiting medical malpractice awards and halting frivolous lawsuits.  You would be amazed at how much would be saved in health care costs.  Every doctor you know is paying over 6 figures (that’s over $100,000!) for medical liability insurance.  How much do you think pharmaceutical companies pay?  Your drug cost reflects a large percentage of drug company liability insurance costs.  Watch television?  How many times have you seen, “If you suffer from any of the following 169 symptoms, and use the drug XYZ, you may be entitled to a settlement.”  The barristers sponsoring these ads are doing it to sue your drug company!

Businesses are in business to make a profit.  Once this law was passed, businesses downsized their workforces in anticipation of the additional 20-25% increase in their labor costs attributed to Obamacare.  They did this 5 years ago in anticipation of the full implementation of the program.  That coincides with the increase in unemployment, the downturn in the economy, and the decreasing value of real estate.  Coincidental?  I think not.  Obamacare is directly responsible for all of these events, and the sooner someone has the fortitude to face it and repeal it, the sooner we will be on the road to recovery.

Therefore, I, King Grandpa T decree that all proposed legislation is to be 50 pages or less, clearly written in language understood by my subjects, and not place any excessive burden on the Exchequer.  Punishment for failure to do so will result in dismissal from the court!

3.  PREVENT VOTER FRAUD/REQUIRE VOTER ID

Before I was King, I would feel downtrodden when my favorite politicians did not win an election.  Now I get downright belligerent when I think an election has been stolen.

Remember, an election is only as honest as the election supervisors.  Don’t you get a little concerned when you hear that there were 18,000 votes cast in a district with only a maximum of 10,000 eligible voters?  Do you get concerned when there are 19,500 votes cast in one district, all for one candidate without one dissenting vote?  Both of these events took place in the last presidential election.

Why, oh why, do all the states not require a picture ID to vote?  I have to show a picture ID three or four times a month.  It is painless. Yet, my former Midwest home state failed to pass an amendment requiring a picture ID during last years election.  The favorite argument was that it would cost the state just under $60 million to assure all of its eligible residents had photo ID’s.  They thought this cost was excessive, so the state had decided to build a $1 billion football stadium instead.

Come up with any argument you want, but in my realm, all eligible voters will be required to produce a photo ID to prove they are a subject of the kingdom.  Then they can vote for the jester of their choice.

4.  BALANCE THE BUDGET

I am glad to say that the majority of my subjects that read my decrees know how to balance a budget.  In my kingdom, Queen Grandma P the Only, sees that there are adequate funds in the Exchequer.

In that foreign land of Washington, the Council of jesters and their leader are overspending the funds in their Exchequer at the rumored rate of $200 million an hour!  How long can these people expect this to go on before their kingdom is bankrupt?  (Rumor also has it that they print their own money, and pay their debts with it.  They call this economic stimulus.)

If they were to seek my counsel, I would tell them to eliminate the Departments of Energy and Education.  These two, outdated departments were both established by that head jester, Jimmy Carter.  They serve no justifiable purpose for their realm.

I would advocate the repeal of Obamacare in an effort to save the 16,000 additional IRS jobs that are required to administer the program.

I would propose a simple, flat tax across their realm.  In this way they could save the expenses required to support the existing 128,000 member IRS Army by reducing it to less than 25,000.

Many smart people in Washington who have had business experience would be both willing and capable of offering excellent suggestions on how to get their Exchequer out of the red.  But the head jester and his cabinet of jesters and advisors have only 9% of their people with experience in the private sector of their economy.  They do not have experience with making money in the capitalistic kingdom, only experience on how to spend other people’s money.  They have proven to be overachievers in their endeavors.

5.  REFORM WELFARE

In that foreign country of Washington, there are 84 agencies associated with different welfare programs.  Whew!  Many of these programs were begun with the best of intentions, but ran amok.  Many were supposed to be temporary but developed a pulse to become permanent.

Additionally, 15% of the people of that kingdom receive food stamps.  That equates to 1 out of 7 of their subjects!

The total cost of all these programs exceeds $800 billion per year!  This represents the largest single expense in the budget within the kingdom of Washington.  Something needs to be done to reduce the subjects’ reliance on these programs.

A reformation of these programs would go a long way to assist the balancing of the Exchequer.

Back to reality.

There you have it!  My five suggestions for items greatly improving life in the United States.  I have more, but I am limiting myself to the five about which I feel most strongly.  I now have to give up my title and my throne because Grandma P says it is time to cut the lawn and slap another coat of paint on those lawn ornaments.  You can see who wears the pants in this family!  (I do wish she would take off that damn tiara!)

Welfare Costs – The Big Gorilla in Our National Budget

Everyone realizes that our country spends quite a bit of money on welfare programs.  Just how much money and how many programs exist?

Late last year, Jeff Sessions, a ranking member of the US Senate Budget Committee, requested that the Congressional Research Service (CRS) provide just that information to his committee.  The most recent year that the data was compiled was 2011.  What did they find?  The CRS identified 83 overlapping federal welfare programs that together represented the single largest budget item in 2011.  These expenditures exceeded what our government spent on Social Security, Medicare, or national defense.  The total amount spent by the federal and state governments exceeded $1.03 trillion, with the federal government providing $746  billion of that cost.  As a comparison, in 2011 the annual budget expenditure for Social Security was $725 billion, Medicare was $480 billion, and defense was $540 billion.

The exclusively federal share of spending on these federal programs is up 32 percent since 2008 and now comprises 21 percent of our federal outlays.

As a historical comparison, spending on the ten largest of the 83 programs (which account for the bulk of federal welfare spending) has doubled as a share of the federal budget over just the last 30 years.  In inflation-adjusted dollars, the amount expended on these 10 programs has increased by 378 percent over that time.

So how did our country get itself into this situation?

Welfare in the US actually began with the New Deal in the 1930s .  But that form of welfare was much different than today.  The government went above and beyond by creating agencies that created jobs for unemployed workers.  Read the previous post, “Working at Reducing Unemployment” for more specific information on these programs.

In 1940, the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was established.  FDR wanted this legislation to assist poverty-stricken families in which the woman was the head of the household.  The principle intent was because these women were widows.

The year 1964 will be remembered for Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty and for the Economic Opportunity Act that passed and was commonly known as the “Great Society.”  For the first time a person who was not elderly or disabled could receive need-based aid from the federal government.  This aid could include general welfare payments, health care through Medicaid, food stamps, special payments for pregnant women and young mothers, and federal and state housing benefits.  In 1968, 4.1% of families were headed by a woman receiving welfare assistance. By 1980, the percentage increased to 10%.  In 2008, 28.7 percent of households headed by single women were considered poor.

In my opinion, no other piece of legislation from this era had as much economic or societal impact on the US as LBJ’s “Great Society.”

The glut of baby boomers were coming of age and entering the workplace.  As a result, tax revenues increased.  Unemployment was low because of the Vietnam War.  I am sure that the view from the Washington puzzle palace could only be seen through rose-colored glasses.  Their thinking must have been that the time had arrived to become more socialistic by passing the Economic Opportunity Act.  An outsider not following closely what was going on in Washington would have been misled by the name.  It sounded like a “get to work” act, when it was exactly the opposite.  (As a note: in the following years, as LBJ made Saigon the 23rd largest American city by population, Social Security contributions were used to balance the budget for the first time.  More on that in the next post.)

The societal impact of this legislation proved to be devastating.  The family unit, as we knew it, was blown apart.  Divorce rates increased dramatically.  Today’s rate is approximately 50%.  The divorce rate before this legislation was less than 22%, but divorce rates are misleading.  You can only get divorced, if you were married first.  And that is where the rub becomes apparent.  Women began having children without ever having a husband for support.  And that is exactly where this legislation led the country.  In their infinite wisdom, our legislators sanctioned illegitimate births.  With more births, families received more welfare.

Bill Clinton attempted to revise the system with the passage of the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996”.  This is the latest welfare reform legislation.  Before this act, welfare assistance was “once considered an open-ended right,” but welfare reform converted it into “a finite program built to provide short-term cash assistance and steer people quickly into jobs.”  Prior to this reform, states were given “limitless” money by the federal government, with funds increasing per family on welfare, under the 60-year-old AFDC program.  This gave states no incentive to direct welfare funds to the neediest recipients or to encourage individuals to go off welfare benefits, as the states lost federal money when someone left the system.  Talk about counterproductive!  Nationwide, one child in seven received AFDC funds, which mostly went to single mothers.

After these reforms, which Clinton said would “end welfare as we know it,” amounts from the federal government were now given out in a flat rate per state based on population.  Each state must meet certain criteria to ensure recipients are being encouraged to work themselves out of welfare.  The new program is called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).  It encourages states to require some sort of employment search in exchange for providing funds to individuals, and it imposes a five-year lifetime limit on cash assistance.  The bill restricts welfare from most legal immigrants and increased financial assistance for child care.

Following these changes, millions of people left the welfare rolls, employment rose, and the child poverty rate was reduced.  A 2007 Congressional Budget Office study found that incomes in affected families rose by 35%.

So what happened?  Why are we facing the fiscal problems today when what appeared to be sensible welfare reform was instituted in 1996?

Let me provide a few more statistics based on a US Department of Health and Human Services report of October 15, 2012

Total number of Americans on welfare:                                        4,300,000

Percentage of US population on welfare                                       4.1%

Number of Americans on food stamps                                          46,700,000

Number of Americans on welfare over 5 years                              19.6% of all recipients

I am becoming confused.  Aren’t food stamps a form of welfare?  Assuming a US population of 330 million, my trusty slide rule tells me that  is 14.1% of the entire US population!  What about the 5 year limit for welfare recipients?  Almost 20 % of all people receiving benefits have exceeded the intended 5 year limit established with the 1996 welfare reform legislation.  Why isn’t that 20% number reduced to 0% after 5 years?

There are a number of reasons why the system is not working properly.  Do you remember who is administering the welfare programs?  The individual states manage their respective welfare programs with billions of dollars infused by the 83 federal programs.  A person on welfare today can make up to $1000 per month without loss of benefits.  Everyone would agree that a family would be hard pressed to survive on that amount of income.  In addition, each state establishes the amount of welfare received.  Now here are some further interesting and disturbing statistics.  As of today, the minimum wage established by the federal government is $7.25 per hour.  Did you know that 40 of the states pay welfare equivalent to an $8.00 per hour job?  Did you know that seven of the states pay welfare that is equivalent to a $12.00 per hour job?  The real shocker is that nine of our states pay welfare that exceeds the average salary of a teacher in the US!  The highest welfare-paying state, Hawaii, pays welfare at a rate equivalent to a $17.50 per hour job!

Now I am not totally heartless, just mostly heartless.  So before my liberal friends and relatives (yup, I am acquainted with a few) get their undies in a bunch, I realize that some people are not capable of supporting themselves.  These are the mentally handicapped, emotionally disturbed and physically impaired people. But I do believe when the five-year clock strikes twelve, it’s time for all capable people to get a job.  Period!  Many of those 83 federal programs are for job training, and job retraining.

I believe that welfare should be gauged on academic achievement.  Everyone in the US does have the right to twelve years of public education.  It is indeed criminal that a college-educated teacher makes less money than a high school drop-out who can live on welfare as a result of producing illegitimate children.  A friend of mine suggested that welfare payments should be paid dependent on school completed, ie; if you drop out after completing the 9th grade, which is 75% of your education, you should receive 75% of your welfare benefit.

This may be a little harsh, but where is the incentive to leave welfare when the benefits are larger than if the recipient were to get a job?  I would surmise that if you were to lose your benefits, you would find a job – just as what happened in 1996 when 60% of the welfare recipients left the welfare rolls.

As mentioned, aspects of the welfare system vary from state to state.  Michigan requires recipients to spend a month in a job search program before benefits can begin.  Saying that it is “unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction”, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the Welfare Drug-Screen Measure which requires welfare applicants to undergo drug screening.  The law went into effect on July 1, 2011.  It was later revoked by a Federal Judge.

All of us have been in the checkout lane of a grocery and observed someone using food stamps.  This does not bother me for a family in need, but I am infuriated when I see these stamps being used for cigarettes, dog food, or beer.  Even though these items may be excluded from the food stamp program; the high school cashier is placed in the position of the governing authority.

The abuse is widespread and costly.  These welfare abusers are “stealing” from the working taxpayers. If they attempted to take those items without paying, they would be in jail.  Abusing the food stamp program makes it legalized stealing.

Looking back, the US should not have implemented the “Great Society,” because it was everything but great in the long run.  People survived very nicely before the implementation of that program.  I was a teenager at the time, and I do not remember seeing any starving or dying people in the street.

Once intended as a temporary “band-aid” to help those during tough personal times or during recessions, these programs have become permanent entitlements.  They inhibit one’s personal growth in life and undermine a person’s own decisions, resulting in weakened family foundations.  These entitlements may have been created with good intentions to help those in need.  However, they have increased America’s need for more assistance and handouts.  As the saying goes, “The road to hell was paved with good intentions.”

26Feb13     Today it was announced that a grocer in the state of Illinois, bilked the food stamp program for $866,000.  He did this by paying food stamp recipients 50% of the face value of the food stamps in cash, and then reselling them for 90% face value.  The federal government should get out of the welfare business, and push it to the states.  You could then be assured that because the states would then be responsible without the big bucks of the federal government to back them, they would become more judicious administrators of the welfare programs in their respective states.  A quick way to reduce the federal budget by over $700 billion.