Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Fiscal Errors: The U.S. government's unprecedented spending splurge, with no end in sight, is creating a mountain of debt that endangers both our economy and way of life. Can something be done about it?
Anyone who reads IBD knows we're not doomsayers. Sometimes, in fact, we've been chided for cockeyed optimism in the face of even the gloomiest prognostications. Our faith in America's resilient economy, the world's largest and most creative, and in the productive people who make it go, was reason enough.
That said, we face a rather stark fact today: The current path for U.S. debt is unsustainable.
Our $14 trillion economy is more than three times bigger than the next largest in the world. But our debt will soon surpass even the bloated level of WWII, when we were literally fighting for our lives and freedoms with a weak economy struggling to emerge from the Great Depression.
In just the last year alone, according to a report this week from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), total U.S. public debt has jumped to $7.6 trillion, or 53% of GDP, from $5.7 trillion, or 41% of GDP.
Also this week, to accommodate its out-of-control spending, Congress will vote to lift the U.S. debt limit by $1.8 trillion to almost $14 trillion. Why now? They don't want to do it in 2010, an election year.
And, yes, the size of the debt does matter. By 2018, at current spending trends, debt as a share of GDP will reach 85%. In 2022, it will hit 100%. And it will keep rising at least until 2038, reaching 200%.
At that level, our fast-growing, high-innovation, high-wage economy begins grinding to a permanent slowdown. The accumulated debt will become a millstone around our necks. Fleeter, less-indebted competitors in the developing world will sprint right past us.
If you don't think so, just look at Japan. It was the world's fastest-growing developed economy for most of the postwar era. But it stumbled in the late '80s and began a debt-financed binge of "stimulus" packages in the 1990s and early 2000s. Today, it has the worst of all worlds: a 200% of GDP debt load, and low or no growth.
Recent debt debacles in Dubai and Greece, both of which are near bankruptcy, show what can happen to nations when they spend too much. Now, we're on the same path.
It's no mystery why this happens. "Government borrowing reduces resources available for private investment, leading to lower productivity, wages, and economic growth," noted the Heritage Foundation in a recent study. So, yes, all this debt does matter.
But debt doesn't create itself. During this decade, total nominal federal spending has soared 97%, or nearly 10% a year well in excess of the estimated 60% the economy grew during the same time.
You might think this would be cause for alarm. But you'd be wrong. The Senate just passed another $1.1 trillion pork-filled spending bill a 12% spending hike with little, if any, thought toward what it will mean for the future of public finance.
Some might take comfort in the creation of a new Bipartisan Fiscal Task Force to address the nation's "long-term budget crisis." Unfortunately, nine Democrats who co-sponsored that bipartisan budget panel voted for the 12% spending hike.
As Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute put it: "Fixating on the deficit allows politicians to pull a bait-and-switch, since they can raise taxes, claim they are solving the problem, when all they are doing is replacing debt-financed spending with tax-financed spending."
It's true that a lot of federal spending is on automatic pilot. Programs such as Medicare and Social Security grow as the population ages. At the same time, the economy grows less dynamic.
But at some point, we all have to ask ourselves how much we want an inefficient government to do, and how much we can do for ourselves. We can't have everything and still have a strong economy.
Those who propose raising taxes, rather than cutting spending, should understand: The level of taxes needed to pay for the massive expansion in expenditures expected over the next half-century would bankrupt our nation.
The Tax Foundation recently estimated that tax rates would have to nearly triple to close our fiscal gap. That's not possible without crashing our economy, possibly for good.
The prospect of turning the next generation of Americans, those now in childhood and those yet to be born, into virtual tax slaves to pay for our fiscal irresponsibility is immoral. The time to cut spending is now not later.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 12/18/2009 04:38:00 PM
December 16, 2009
The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof recently wrote a column about John Brodniak of Oregon, who developed a cavernous hemangioma, causing him great pain as blood leaks into his brain.
According to Kristof, Brodniak can't get medical help because we don't have universal health care. Senators who vote against ObamaCare, Kristof said, are morally equivalent to someone who would walk past a man "writhing in pain on the sidewalk."
In another article in the Times, William Yardley wrote about Melvin Tsosies -- also of Oregon -- who ended up with $200,000 in medical bills after having a heart attack.
As of March 2008, Yardley reported, Tsosies was waiting to find out if he would win the Oregon lottery for health insurance. But with 600,000 uninsured state residents and a "universal" health care program with only enough money to pay for about 24,000 of them, Tsosies is more likely to win a Powerball lottery.
How can this be happening? Oregon already has "universal health care"! (Probably just a coincidence, but isn't Oregon also the only state with physician-assisted suicide?)
Once again forgetting about the existence of the Internet, the Times neglects to mention its own erstwhile enthusiasm for Oregon's universal health care plan, introduced back in 1990.
Back then, the Times published an editorial titled "Oregon's Brave Medical Experiment," hailing this technocratic monstrosity as an example of "hardheaded compassion" designed to make "health coverage available to many more families."
Ron Wyden -- then a congressman from Oregon, now a U.S. senator at the forefront of pushing "universal health care" onto the nation -- said: "This is a strong dramatic step toward universal access of health care." He predicted, "[T]his is going to be copied everywhere."
No wonder Wyden is such an ardent proponent of national health care -- it will force states that didn't adopt these idiotic universal health care schemes to bail out the ones that did.
Liberals cite medical horror stories from the very states they once cheered for enacting universal health care in order to argue for a national health care plan that will wreck the entire nation's medical care the same way liberal states already wrecked their own medical care.
Only Democrats could propose fixing one Bernie Madoff-style scam with an even bigger Bernie Madoff-style scam.
Maybe when national universal health care fails, we'll be able to go international. Then interplanetary -- then interstellar! Why should I pay for my gall bladder surgery when some Venusian could?
Eighty-five percent of Americans are happy with their health care, but Democrats have a plan to make it worse for more money. As a bonus, national health care will add trillions of dollars to the national debt, and your insurance rates will skyrocket.
Democrats are being utterly disingenuous to say that you won't have to leave your current plan under national health care. Maybe, but it won't be your choice: Your employer will be making that decision for you.
Recall that one of the big selling points of national health care is that it is supposed to reduce costs for American businesses. The only way national health care will make American companies "more competitive" is if they dump their employees into the public health care system.
It's so weird! We expected X number of people to show up for health care and instead 75X showed up! Yeah, just like every other government program in the history of the world.
Ten years from now, we'll be talking about cost overruns of $6 trillion -- but by then, national health care will be an untouchable "third rail" of politics, just as Medicare is now. (Ironically, injuries sustained from actually touching the third rail won't be covered under ObamaCare.)
As with Medicare, voters will be terrified to go back to even the wisp of a free market system we have now, afraid that they'll never be able to get health insurance without the government providing it. Having been dragged unwillingly into the government plan, how will a 58-year-old be able to leave the public system and get insurance on the free market?
Speaking of which, how many of you are planning to retire on your Social Security benefits? Just you there, with the shopping cart full of cans?
The only solution will be for the government to keep running up gigantic deficits and raising taxes on "the rich," which, in turn, will stifle job creation and economic growth in a phenomenon known to economists as "the Carter years."
In addition to forcing Americans into dealing with surly government workers in order to obtain medical care, sooner or later, there's no free lunch. (And if government X-rays are anything like the photos the DMV takes for your license, count me out. I don't want my lungs looking like they had a bad hair day.)
Even if national health care puts the screws to doctors and pharmaceutical companies by reimbursing them below cost -- so all future doctors will soon resemble DMV employees and no new drugs will ever be invented -- the government is still going to have to cut services and pay for the system with massive tax hikes.
Which is exactly what happened with Oregon's "Brave Medical Experiment."
Ann Coulter is a columnist and author of Guilty: Liberal Victims and Their Assault On America.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 12/18/2009 04:09:00 PM
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Global Warming: Drip by drip, like a glacier melting in the sun, the claim that man is changing the climate is dissolving into irrelevance. The recent findings of Swiss researchers expose another hole.
Former Vice President Al Gore has for years warned that man-made global warming is melting the world's glaciers a tactic commonly used by alarmists who want to whip up hysteria. Swiss researchers, however, have presented evidence that weakens the argument.
Scientists at Zurich's Federal Institute of Technology have found that solar activity caused Alpine glaciers to melt in the 1940s at rates faster than today's pace, even though it's warmer now.
The study found that the sun in the 1940s was 8% stronger than average and far more powerful than it is today. It also concluded that solar activity was weaker from the 1950s to the 1980s, an era in which the glaciers advanced.
The Swiss researchers are spinning their own work, saying that the evidence doesn't mean the public can stop worrying about man-made warming. But their finding validates other researchers who have said solar activity has a far greater impact on temperatures than human CO2 emissions.
This report from Zurich reminds us of another myth perpetrated by Gore. In his Academy Award-winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," he contends the snowcap on Mount Kilimanjaro has retreated because of human greenhouse-gas emissions. Yet scientists have been telling a different story.
They say the melting on the 19,340-foot mountain has been going on for more than a century, beginning long before man accelerated CO2 emissions. They also report that temperatures at the top of Kilimanjaro never fall below freezing, so the reason for snowcap loss has to be due to one or more causes not related to temperature. A lack of snowfall is likely one of those.
Just as the Swiss researchers tried to soft-pedal their findings, the scientists who have studied Kilimanjaro also refuse to let the narrative unravel. They say the facts about the snowcap shouldn't be used to raise doubts about the official line that man is warming the planet. Nothing to see here, they say in effect, so move on.
Another sign that the alarmists' claims are falling apart is the statement made Monday by Gore at the global warming conference in Copenhagen: "Some of the models suggest ... that there is a 75% chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years."
While the chance that sea ice will disappear that soon is virtually nil, there's a 100% certainty that Gore was wrong.
"It's unclear to me how this figure was arrived at," said Wieslav Maslowski, a scientist from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School whose work Gore had misused. "I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this."
It wasn't the first time Gore has crossed into fantasyland. Last month, he announced on the "Tonight Show" that "the interior of the earth is extremely hot, several million degrees," when in fact it's no more than 9,000 degrees Celsius and might be only 4,000. Not even the sun is "several million degrees." Its surface based on Gore's criteria is a cool 5,550 to 6,000 degrees Celsius.
Then there's his movie, so full of scientific errors at least nine of them that a British court two years ago ruled it could be shown in secondary schools only when notes to balance its political bias were also presented in class.
Despite his poor stewardship of the facts and his refusal to debate the issue, Gore is still the go-to guy for most journalists who cover global warming. He's still identified as the climate guru who actually has something to contribute to the conversation.
The truth, though, is that Gore and so many others gathered in Copenhagen are propagandists. They know that the way to arrange the world economy to fit their preferences and require lifestyle changes in developed nations is to demand that governments do something about the environment.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Why are liberals so angry?
Will breaking things down to its simplest level be the best way to solve this dilemma? All intelligent people know this to be true. I read this simple story somewhere, some time ago, that shows the basic differences between liberals and conservatives.
The story used to be: The ant (the conservative) works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.The grasshopper (the liberal) thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays (drinks, smokes and does drugs) all the summer long.Here comes winter and the ant is warm and well fed.
The grasshopper, however, has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold. MORAL OF THIS STORY IS: Be responsible for yourself.
THE CONTEMPORARY VERSION OF THIS SAME STORY IS: The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying in supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays all the summer long. Here comes the winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving. NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, and PBS show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.
Americans are stunned by the sharp contrast. A picture is worth a thousand words. How can this be, that in a country as wealthy as ours, can this poor grasshopper be allowed to suffer so much? Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody sympathizes and tears flow when they sing, “It's Not Easy Being Green.” Acorn stages a demonstration in front of the ant 's house where the news stations film the group singing, “We shall overcome,” while Rev. Jeremiah Wright has the group curse God for the grasshopper's dilemma.
Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid complain in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.
Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer. The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs, and having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government Green Czar Van Jones. The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant’s food while in the government house, which just happened to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he didn’t maintain it. The ant had disappeared into the snow.
The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood. MORAL OF THE STORY: Be careful how you vote in 2010 and 2012.
Can I ask what you do for this country? I'm not saying you don't work or pay taxes, but so many liberals just take and take and take and think it’s their right.
I used to think it was just that Liberals are immature. But a disturbing pattern was noticed over and over and over: most Liberals can't even engage in civil discourse, and when they are confronted with positions that don't match theirs, they lash out like crazed pit bulls. This oddity was noticed for a long time, and like others before me have concluded that Liberalism really is a mental disorder based on strikingly irrational beliefs and emotions.
“Contemporary liberals relentlessly undermine the most important principles on which our freedoms were founded,” paraphrasing Dr. Lyle Rossiter, author of the new book, "The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness." "Like spoiled, angry children, they rebel against the normal responsibilities of adulthood and demand that a parental government meet their needs from cradle to grave."
While political activists on the other side of the spectrum have made similar observations, Rossiter boasts professional credentials and a life virtually free of activism and links to "the vast right-wing conspiracy." For more than 35 years he has diagnosed and treated more than 1,500 patients as a board-certified clinical psychiatrist and examined more than 2,700 civil and criminal cases as a board-certified forensic psychiatrist. He received his medical and psychiatric training at the University of Chicago.Ronald Reagan once said, "The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant; it's just that they know so much that isn't so.”
Reagan had hit upon something really important and eye opening! Liberals seem to have a very, very tenuous grasp of things. Therefore, they figuratively dig their claws in and fight tooth and nail against anything that doesn't fit their viewpoint of the world.
The Liberal mind is about as stable as a house of cards. On some levels, they realize that confronting reality will destroy their entire view of the world, much like someone in the 1200's finally realizing the shocking truth that the world isn't flat, after all.
Imagine how difficult it was for frightened sailors to finally accept the truth: they lived frightened lives unnecessarily. The horizon wasn't full of sea serpents. There was no edge of the world.
Conservatives absolutely baffle and exasperate Liberals. Why? Because Conservatives appear to have solid beliefs while the Liberal is lucky if he can formulate some vague, hazy philosophy of things.
When a Conservative argues with a Liberal, the Liberal feels he must lash out for fear of discovering that his whole imaginary world is just that: fiction. So, Liberals preach "tolerance", but only tolerance for their viewpoints. Anything else is heresy. Just try confronting a Liberal with the facts about global warming and he'll practically start foaming at the mouth.
The mind of the Liberal cannot acknowledge that a Conservative is right because the fuzzy Liberal mind is like a shaky house of cards. If the Liberal realizes he's wrong about one thing, it totally destroys their whole imagined reality he has constructed for himself. So when Liberals scream like threatened children when you talk about FOX News, or Rush Limbaugh, it is because their brains are not wired to accept contradictory information.
Liberals don’t get their information from the left and the right, putting their beliefs to the test by checking if they are based on fact and not on conjecture or psychological construction. Liberals cannot do this. It would destroy their carefully crafted dream world existence.
What do you think?
Joseph Michael Wasik
It’s been over a year since the election of 2008 and yet Sarah Palin cannot show up in the news without a barrage of vicious attacks from the media. Although she is no longer a candidate for vice president, the vitriol continues to spew over the release of her book, "Going Rogue: An American Life."
Many think the anti-Sarah sentiment stems from her solid pro-life position but I would like to explore reasons that go way beyond her feelings about abortion.
As you look back in history to the late 1960s and 1970s, you see a wave of feminist ideals being sold to women, including the notion that they needed to delay motherhood to get ahead in their careers. Many women bought into this belief that giving birth and career advancement didn’t mix. So what happened? Many women chose the birth control route, delaying marriage and childbirth well into their thirties and even forties. Their biological clocks ticked away and they sacrificed the most fertile time in their lives for career advancement and what they thought would be true happiness.
Some, when faced with an unplanned pregnancy they believed would interfere with their careers, chose the abortion route. They sacrificed the life of their unborn child for their own personal career advancement.
Now enter Sarah Palin, a woman with a husband, children and a high-profile career. Yes, this hockey Mom went from school board, to mayor, to governor to a vice presidential candidate! And her own unplanned pregnancy ended not in the hands of an abortionist, but in the loving embrace of the Palin family.
Now when the women who sacrificed motherhood either by abortion or birth control look at Sarah, they can’t stand her, even if they can’t explain why. Because she was able to have a family and a career, they see her as having the best of both worlds. They see, in this confident, self-possessed, accomplished woman, surrounded by a loving family, everything they gave up.
In a nation that has lost more than 50 million children to abortion, we have millions of women who have these repressed feelings. Many have suffered silently from these negative consequences since their abortion. As a father of a murdered unborn baby, I know first-hand about this trauma and I invite anyone still dealing with this pain, shame and regret of abortion to visit www.SilentNoMoreAwareness.org.
The next time you hear Sarah being attacked so viciously, consider that it might be because we are a nation that has been wounded by abortion.
What do you think?
Posted by Joseph Michael Wasik at 12/15/2009 09:25:00 PM