Bob’s rule #1. Don’t believe anything the government says…until you can verify its accuracy…and verify from other sources.
Look around as you drive down your local main street. “For Lease” signs everywhere. Over there, that restaurant is gone. You had some memorable meals there, didn’t you? And the owner would meet you at the door with a huge smile on his face. He really did appreciate you stopping in….almost like an old friend. Across the street, the clothing store, the one that sold you your favorite clothes….gone.
Circuit city….gone….Blockbuster….going. But things are getting better, yes? I mean that’s what they’re telling us, so it must be true. Is there any evidence in your neck of the woods? Do you see new signs going up….movers unloading inventory, employees stocking shelves, and an excitement about future prospects from your friends? Are you thrilled with your life? Does your house continue to appreciate? Are you absolutely certain that you will get that raise the boss promised you? Hmmm? No?
Retirement….wow, before you know it, that magic day will arrive. Of course you’re all set for those easy days of bliss, yes? After a lifetime of hard work, raising the kids, scrimping and saving, you deserve it, don’t you? I don’t know about you, but given what has happened in the financial realm, I seriously doubt if things are going to work out like you planned. They sure haven’t for me. Sorry, but I’m not overly optimistic. You have to have concerns, like just everyone in your circle of friends, but like the government bureaucrats have for years, you kick the can down the road and hope for a turn around. Open your eyes. Are you paying attention?
Businesses that had owners and employees, who paid wages and taxes, who had that last sale before closing their doors forever; they’re coming back, aren’t they? Sorry, but I don’t think those jobs are coming back anytime soon, and tomorrow your world might come crashing down around you when the company you worked to build into what it is today hands you your very own pink slip. It has happened to close to 4 million citizens already. How much does your company really need your position, especially when revenue is way down? You’re indispensible, right? Uh, probably shouldn’t get too comfortable now. But wait, the president said we are out of the woods, didn’t he? We HAVE turned the corner, right? There we go again. See Bob’s rule #1.
How did I get so cynical? I suppose it was an evolution. I didn’t start that way, but the more I hear and see, the more concerned I am. At the moment, only a fool would blindly trust that this country is headed in the right direction. Only a fool…. I am not a journalist, and while the numbers I give you might not be accurate to the penny, they will be close enough to paint a picture. Besides, these bozos lost, yes lost, over a billion dollars of Katrina aid, they can’t find it….so the numbers could be a whole lot worse than what they say they are. I am a concerned citizen, and I have been for years. I majored in Political Science in college, and have 4 grown kids. I believe their future is in jeopardy, as well as mine, and I am writing this because I wanted to consolidate all the information I could find into one place, so that my wife and friends could see the big picture, because like you they’re just getting snippets. Hopefully, they’ll put things together and understand for themselves what I have been saying for years. Of course they’re hearing all the same garbage that you are. “We are heading in the right direction…We have turned things around” And my favorite….”The stimulus money saved us”. Thank God for that.
I have my own small business, an insurance agency in Southern California, and before you get to thinking that I am one of those guys whose income will get clobbered with a national health plan, so I must be biased, my company got OUT of the major medical insurance business about 25 years ago. They could NOT make a profit. For every policy we wrote, we lost money. Not the kind of product you can turn into a winner with increased volume. Health insurance drained the company coffers, and now the Federal government, with all their efficiency, will turn this loser into a winner for the American people? Again, forgive my cynicism; but I don’t think so. More on that later….
Why should it matter to you? You still have your job, and you’re still paying your bills. The economy is hurting your neighbor, the nice guy who let you borrow his hedge clippers last weekend, oh, and who just lost his job, but you’re OK. Let me list a few of the reasons you should care:
Federal Government efficiency– In 1971 the Federal government took over AMTRAK with the objective of restructuring it because they were bankrupt, and so necessary for our domestic economy that they were TOO BIG TO FAIL. (Where have we heard that before)? The Feds were going to fix AMTRAK and return it to the private sector. What happened to that little venture? We, the taxpayers, still own it, and to this day continue to subsidize it. In 1977 Jimmy Carter set up the Department of Energy to help make us less dependent on foreign oil. They’ve done one hell of a job, haven’t they? 16,000 employees and 35 billion dollars a year for their budget…Good job boys and girls. The Post Office is drowning in debt. We, the taxpayers, just gave them another 4 billion to plugs the holes. Hey, I’m sure by next year they will turn things around. The list is endless….we own GM, AIG the banks, and everything else the Feds could get their hands on. But we were in a crisis, so they had to do it! (A bit of sarcasm there.) Sounds a lot like Hugo Chavez nationalizing Venezuela’s industries, now doesn’t it? And we want to put these clowns in charge of 1/6th of our economy?
State Government– I live in California…the Golden State….and we are broke. In 1988 we enacted proposition 13 to keep the bureaucratic thieves from stealing everything we made. The politicians screamed bloody murder then, and they’re still screaming it. How dare we minimize their income stream? Since 1988 inflation has increased 109 percent. Revenues have gone up over 600%, and spending has increased even more than that. The idiots in Sacramento have increased their spending way out of proportion to inflation, and their insatiable desire to spend what isn’t theirs has virtually nuked the budget. We have to live within our means; why shouldn’t they? Moody’s downgraded our credit worthiness last year. Want to bet another downgrade is in the works? California will soon be in the state of junk bond quicksand and palm trees. This is just the beginning. The states don’t have the ability to print money, only to tax. Think your taxes are high now? Just wait. Sales tax revenues have tanked. Houses aren’t selling like they were, so they don’t get reassessed, hence no increase, and the politicians don’t even consider cutting spending. No, in their time honored tradition, the only way to handle this crisis is to raise taxes. Oh and in California each citizen has just had their withholding increased an additional 10%, not that we owe it; it’s just a loan to the state. After all, the state NEEDS the money. Michigan, a state that is bleeding jobs, is proposing another tax increase, which is what the geniuses there want to do. Chase off enough people and maybe you won’t have to provide any services. Great plan. New York raised taxes and the people who pay them are fleeing in droves. It’s not the Clampetts driving down the. Interstate in their Model A truck that you see, Granny on the couch, it’s the money they that take with them that you don’t see. That is what matters. And the politicians just can’t figure it out. So glad to have them leading us, aren’t you? Me too.
Federal Income Tax-Get ready for a few slight changes here….When the income tax was enacted in 1913, the Feds said that it would only apply to the rich. They guaranteed it. Oh, I suppose I should really say that they promised to keep it that way. There we go with those promises again, and they sure haven’t cut off that revenue stream, have they? They said that the top 1% would only pay 5%. OK said the people. We can do that. I won’t have to pay anything….Yeah, let’s go get the rich fat cats. Oh, by the way, they are the ones who employ people. What has the tax system evolved into? Look at your next pay stub. You must be in that top 1% to pay all those taxes, right? Who says there is no such thing as evolution? Government is evolving before our very eyes….into a gargantuan black plaque that swallows everything in its path. Darwin was right. It is survival of the fittest, and historically the fittest are the 50% who pay the taxes. You knew that right? 50% of the population pays no income tax at all. God bless them. They want all the freebies they can get. The top 50% will soon find their wallets a wee bit lighter, and more than a few of them will be joining the ranks of the unfit. But hey, those with the power to tax…do, and those that don’t…pay. Why should the ones who pay nothing care who pay for their services? Like the lady said in Detroit, lined up because she heard that the city was passing out checks…”I’m here to get the Obama money.” There aren’t enough wealthy people in this country to pay for what the Democrats plan to do. Period. So, in spite of Obama’s promises, he CANNOT generate the revenue he needs by hitting only the wealthy. It is going to be you and me brother. We will get to foot the bill, because there are a lot more of us than the rich. Oh, but we do have that Obama money, now don’t we? Cut taxes? It will never happen under the present administration…..ever. As Bill Clinton famously said, “we can’t give them that money back. They might not spend it correctly.” Huh? Revenues are down 16%, by the latest pronouncements, and yet we won’t raise taxes on the middle class? See Bob’s rule #1.
Social security; A Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff green with envy. Just ask Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick how investing with ol’ Bernie worked out for them. You do understand that there is no account set aside for you, chocked full of your SSI contributions, don’t you? LBJ and the Democrats took care of that. The big pot of money Congress got a hold in the 60’s was our money, and they spent it like they could just print more anytime they felt like. And that’s exactly what they’re doing. Currently, the feds give the Social Security administration an IOU, take your monthly “contributions” and sweep them into the general fund….to pay bills How swell is that? SS is hugely underfunded, which is why the last administration wanted to revamp it. There goes that can down the highway again. Because so many Americans are out of work and not contributing, and because it is a Ponzi scheme, the day of reckoning is racing towards us. How does a Ponzi scheme collapse? It falls apart when there are no more suckers to pay into it, or everyone wants their money back. Oops. But, Social Security is on sound footing, right? Barney Frank said so…..This is the same Barney Frank, who along with the Justice Department, threatened banks with all kinds of nasty things if they didn’t start making loans to minorities…who couldn’t afford them. See Bob’s rule#1
In 1965 Congress instituted Medicare, and estimated that it would cost the taxpayers 9 billion over 25 years. It actually cost the taxpayer 65 billion over that time frame. That was in the days before we had computer chip calculators, so I suppose someone just goofed with the math. A small error that is easily explainable. The abacus was missing a few beads perhaps. And they want to model the new health care plan after this financial fiasco? Again see Bob’s rule #1.
Pension accounts-Pensions funds, Corporate as well as private, are seriously underfunded. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, (an organization set up to act like the FDIC to insure private pensions) is out of money. They lost 22 Billion in 2009 and 11 Billion in 2008 bailing out failed pensions. The feds are the ultimate guarantor of the PBGC, and guess who guarantees them? Us…the taxpayers. We end up holding that bag when a corporate pension fund goes under. In July CALPERS, the California state pension fund casually mentioned that they lost 58 BILLION in their last fiscal year…25% of their investment portfolio. The year before….8 Billion. This is the pension fund for teachers, firefighters, police, etc., and because these funds are constitutionally guaranteed, we, the California taxpayers are again poised to have Sacramento reached into our wallets to work their magic. The pension funds are doing great!!! I’m sure your state is more fortunate. You DO have bureaucrats in your state with more sense than we do, right? See Bob’s rule #1
Stimulus-To spend $1, the government must take that money from someone else. Legalized theft in my book….Jobs did NOT increase with the last vaunted stimulus, in spite of what the projections were. Unemployment went from 7% (and they swore it wouldn’t go over 8%) to over 10%, and the real rate is 17.5% when you factor in people who have quit looking for work, because they can’t find any, and the underemployed. My brother lost his business at the start of this fiasco, and is now pumping gas. He would be one of those underemployed.
The government makes nothing!!! IT CANNOT create wealth, but it sure as hell can take it away, and redistribute it to others. But wait, that is what the President said he wanted to do. Over 90% of the members of our present cabinet have never worked in the private sector. They are habitual porkers feeding at the public trough. The kids of summer selling lemonade on the corner have more business experience than our illustrious president, and most of his cabinet; yet he KNOWS how to fix things. Stimulus #1 worked so well, Nancy and her crowd want to have another one, but they can’t call it a stimulus. No. Suddenly that term has a bad connotation, because it didn’t work. It will now be a “Jobs Bill”. Last week President BO had a jobs summit, and forgot to invite the Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Businesses. Another oversight, I’m sure. The employer gaining the most employees in the current business climate is….drum roll please….the government. What a shock. Again for every dollar spent, they must steal it from someone. All those make work salaries are coming from our pockets. If having the government employ people works so well. Why don’t they just take over all the businesses, have everyone work for the government, cut out all the duplication, and run it with typical government efficiency? Because communism doesn’t work! Stupid.
National debt-The Federal deficit now stands at over 12 trillion dollars. Using the WHITE HOUSE’S numbers, it will rise to 24 million by 2018. The gap between revenues and expenses will soon surpass the size of the Grand Canyon in scope. The total of current and unfunded liabilities (Money that the Feds must pay to fulfill promises they made to us for Social Security and Medicare, etc., and for which they haven’t even begun to account for) is projected to be 106 trillion dollars….that means now, and in today’s dollars That amount is equal to $345,000+ for every man, woman and child in this sinking nation of ours. This is the debt that our children and grandchildren have inherited from us. What a proud legacy. Currently, we pay about 200 billion a year in interest on this debt. That amount is projected to increase to 800 billion very shortly. How long is that level of debt sustainable? How much more will it increase when the feds have to begin paying above market interest rates to attract borrowers scared to death that we will default? I would submit that we are already seeing the effects. China, our banker, has told us the knock it off and live within your means, but no one in Washington is listening. The Chinese are buying commodities….gold, silver, oil, trees, sand, and just about everything else they can get their hands on, other than our debt, because they see the danger. The Chinese are not stupid. In 2010 the US will have to refinance 2 trillion of old debt, and finance 1.5 trillion of new debt, for a total of 3.5 trillion dollars, or the equivalent of 30% of our GDP (gross domestic product) in order to continue funding the present system. Who has that kind of money? China doesn’t, and if they did, I suspect they wouldn’t send it our direction. I would guess that they are quietly trying to rid themselves of as much of the trillion plus dollars they hold of our debt as possible. If the US were a business, we would be bankrupt. If we can’t finance all this debt, we soon will be. 2010 should be an interesting year.
Health care-What more can I add? What a total boondoggle this will turn out to be, and by the way, in spite of what President Obama said, there is NO provision to exclude illegal aliens from the program, at least not in the current bills before Congress.
Government efficiency ….Low cost…..Happy Doctors and nurses. No lines….No rationed care. What a blessing this will be. Part of President Reagan’s platform was getting rid of the Department of Education. He believed that the STATES should run education, and NOT have the money travel a zigzagged path through Washington where 30% disappears into the morass. How much success did Reagan have in that endeavor? If this health care fiasco is passed without serious revision, we will never get rid of it…ever. So much of the innovation, drugs, systems, and equipment in the present health care system comes about because there is a for profit motive. When was the last time that Canada or the UK innovated anything? Kiss progress goodbye. Oh, and say hello to 20 million illegal aliens becoming part of the system. President BO did lie. Even if Congress exclude’s them from receiving benefits in the new “reformed” system, the next thing on the agenda is legalizing them. After all, that is the right thing to do. As citizens, they will receive the benefits by default. What a wonderful country this is.
What government program has ever come in at a lower cost than projected? I rest my case. This thing will become so big, so ponderous, and so expensive, that the US will never recover….ever. Three questions you need to ask yourself regarding this new government entitlement….First, if there is so much waste and fraud in the system, why don’t they just cut that out, and why haven’t they done it already? Second, if this thing is sooooo good, and is such a necessary way to “fix” our present system, why is Congress excluding themselves? Oh, that’s right, they are the elite, and they deserve better than the little folks. Third, again if it so necessary, then why are they waiting until 2013 to implement it, even though they will begin taxing us next year? Do you think that the mental midgets in Congress recognize what a fiasco this will be, so they want to make sure it doesn’t impact their getting reelected in 2012? There goes that cynic in me again….but you have to admit, it does make one wonder, now doesn’t it?
Illegal Immigration-Oh, after we get health care “reformed”, Congress and the White House will “fix” the immigration system. So they say, anyway. Why don’t they just prosecute a few of the company CEO’s employing some of them? Lots of publicity…. The jobs will dry up for someone who can’t prove they have the right to work in this country, and they will go home. High school kids can get the bus boy and gardening jobs, construction jobs will open up….our freeways will have less traffic, and we won’t need to build new electrical plants because what we have will be sufficient. Now, that would make too much sense.
Illegal immigrants are a drain on our system. Period. Why would we want to export approximately 250,000 wealthy and upper middle class citizens, as we do currently, and import so much poverty? That makes no sense. Historically, the second generation assimilates and starts to rise up the economic ladder, but that has changed. There are parts of Santa Ana, CA where you can’t hear anyone speak English. Pockets of illegals have taken root, and to venture into their world I must change. This is my country, and they shouldn’t be here. Why do I need to learn Spanish to communicate in my own country? I’d guess that most of the illegals don’t pay taxes. They are paid under the table, or work construction or landscaping and bill their clients directly. And they ship a lot of those dollar dollars home. Mexico’s second highest income source is from; you guessed it, dollars from the US. Oh, we need to bring them out into the open and collect those taxes, the government says, never mind that fact that whatever small amount we do collect pales in comparison to the services, and cash they drain from the system. Remember, almost 50% of the people in the US pay NO income tax. And remember too, the illegals will now be a part of an already bankrupt Social Security System, and proud members of this new health care group. As with my company and our foray into major medical insurance, we won’t make a profit on increased volume on this one either. Where do you think these new citizens will fit in to the economic equation? Oh yes, as the President has said, we will remake this country.
I remember watching a Rod Serlings Twilight Zone episode when I was a kid. A journalist wanted to feel what it was like to experience death row. He really wanted to feel the anguish consuming a man who knew he was going to die. The warden was the only one in on the ruse. The guards didn’t know. His family didn’t know, and the journalist was gathering a great deal of material on the range of emotions he experienced while living the last few hours as a condemned man on death row. As best he could, he felt the pain. But, in the back of his mind he knew that the next morning he would walk out a free man. The warden was going to stop the execution before it happened.
The guard came in the next morning to give the condemned man his last meal, and he casually mentioned that the warden passed away in his sleep the previous night. The journalist suddenly realized what that meant, and he panicked. The warden was his only link to freedom. Without that safety net, he was going to die. He screamed…pleading for his life. He didn’t kill anyone. He was a journalist, nothing more. He wasn’t supposed to be there. The guard smiled. He’d heard it all before. The journalist spent the day in agony, writhing, screaming, crying, pleading…but one would listen. No one heard him, and if they did, they didn’t believe him. The frustration mounted.
The guards came into the cell, held the screaming man down, and placed the canvas mask over his head, muzzling him. The journalist couldn’t see or speak. The guards led him to the electric chair and seated him. They began strapping him in, and the head guard gave the order to apply the current that would kill him. At that moment the warden stepped in front of the condemned man and said “you wanted to feel what it was like to die. I wanted you to feel every emotion.” The warden removed the mask to see the face of a man who had stared into the face of death, and the face was catatonic….blank. He had lost his mind.
At times I felt like this journalist over the past few years. A bit of an exaggeration of course, but I did feel the frustration of having friends and family label me as a bit of an odd ball because they “knew” nothing like 9/11, or the economic meltdown could happen. My wife tolerated me. I suppose she weighed the good with the bad, and she decided to keep me. My eldest son would listen, and ask few questions, but basically he would just tell everyone that it was “just dad talking”….until 9/11, and until the wheels did fall off economically. I then got a few, including my son; ask me “how did you know?” I just said that the signs we all there for anyone who could see them.
Alexis de Tocqueville in the 1700’s wrote (I’m paraphrasing here) that “all democracies fail because the people eventually discover that they can vote themselves more and more benefits.” I’m afraid that the system will collapse from its own weight, just as he said it would. I thought it when Bush signed the prescription drug coverage. I’m thinking it now that we’re going to give everyone “free” healthcare. (I love the bumper sticker that says ‘You think health care is expensive now? Just wait ‘til it’s free.) I’m afraid that we will soon reach the tipping point. I haven’t mentioned more storm clouds on the horizon such as exchange controls or cap and trade, but there is so much being done by Congress and this president to tip the system on its head, that I am afraid that we too far gone as it is. The US is NOT too big to fail, and with every new crisis, we lose a little more of our freedom. Oh we might limp along for 10 or more years like Japan did, but to me that is failure, and in another sense that would be preferable to collapse, but given the onerous implications of what Washington and the states are doing, l can’t foresee us being that lucky. I have too many people who depend on me for failure to be an option, so I must make plans. We cannot bail out the states, the local governments, the businesses, European banks, and the entire world, and not have repercussions. I do not see things turning out well. Do you?
What can you do? Each of us is such a small cog in the wheel. I’ve written to my Senators and Congressman. Deaf ears….They KNOW better than I do how to handle things. So, I’m making plans in another direction. I’ve given up the ship. The rhetoric from Washington hasn’t changed. Not everyone can do this, of course, but many are recognizing that eventually those icebergs racing by deck will punch a hole in the hull, and they are leaving. My wife and I are planning on doing the Babs and Baldwin. We have the guts to do what Streisand and Alec only said they would do. We are leaving. We have obtained 4 acres of beachfront in the South Pacific, and we will set up a beach bar, and watch things go awry from a distance. If I’m wrong, we could have done much worse. If I’m right, well we can’t take everybody. There goes that cynic in me again. Good luck.