8/17/12 Rubbish and Balderdash

The election is certainly heating up, and along with it the campaign rhetoric. It is getting tiresome to me. So may half-truths are being thrown about by both sides, and add to that the acerbic, invective half-truths paid for by those taking full advantage of the Citizens United decision and we are destined to have the best election money can buy. Yep! I said it . . . the best election money can buy. America has the best plutocrats on earth.

There are so many obstacles facing our country right now. A collapse of the European Union could be just as disastrous to our economic recovery as the Wall Street Crash of 1929 was to the struggling economic recovery of the Post WWI Wiemar Republic. We know the results of that economic catastrophe; and now it looks likely that, should Spain join the ranks of Greece, Italy, Portugal and Ireland, there will not be enough money to bail out the EU or the Euro. Germany will purchase at great discount what it could not obtain by force of arms. The nations of the EU will turn to Germany and say, “Anything, just get us out of this mess.” Then we’ll be reminded of French Nobel Laureate Francois Mauriac’s famous quote, “I love Germany so much I’m glad there are two of them.” Never will so many give so much of their freedom so freely, and all in the name of comfort and ease.

Our national unemployment has consistently hovered in the 8+% range during this recession, and it looks like, in 20th century history, the boiling point for crisis is when unemployment reaches and stays at 10%, exacerbated by the prospect of no employment opportunities for new college graduates. We are not far from it, now.

We have continually elected representatives, all 537 of them, that we have allowed to spend more money than the government takes in, all in the name of fairness, comfort, and the public good; we love for our representatives to bring home the bacon, but it has turned rancid in our stomachs while leaving a stench on our nostrils. This includes Republicans and Democrats, alike. Whatever happened to the Republicans who were socially progressive but fiscally conservative? I suppose the two ideas are mutually exclusive because the Republican party sure abandoned me somewhere along the line. The Democrats could always be the party counted on to be the party of tax and spend, but the Republicans just started spending. I loved Ronald Reagan and I think he single handedly brought about the demise of the evil empire, the Soviet Union…don’t argue… any government that kills 30 million of its own people is evil!! We prospered during the Clinton years because of the illusion of money, but it was all driven by consumer debt. George Bush ran a bigger deficit than all the presidents combined before him, until this president. Now, President Obama is going to have a 1.5 trillion dollar deficit this year lone, but I suspect George Bush would not have had one any smaller. Where is the fiscal prudence? Where will the hemorrhage end? How can it go on forever? WHO WILL PAY FOR IT??

We have allowed our elected representatives to feather their own nests, and leave their office drawing very comfortable pensions and fantastic health benefits, and then become LOBBYISTS, who are paid to persuade their former peer politicians to do things that benefit their special interests. Banks have lobbyists. Corporations have lobbyists. Unions have lobbyists. Farmers have lobbyists. Ethanol producers have lobbyists. Fossil fuel producers and refiners have lobbyists. Green energy companies have lobbyists. Foreign countries have lobbyists. Lobbyists have lobbyists. Everyone has a lobbyist but ME. And some think lobbying doesn’t pay. Until THIS CONGRESS, our elected officials could sit on committees and vote on issues that could have an effect on the stocks they held in their personal portfolios, and this was LEGAL. It is still LEGAL, though now it is against congressional rules . . . that’s about as effective as Charles Rangel’s censure by the House of Representatives.

I have a lobby in my office, but I can’t get any Congressmen or Senators into my lobby. I seriously doubt I could get the President into my lobby. Oh! What if I could!! I could perhaps land as lucrative a contract as Halliburton, or Kellog, Brown & Root (their former subsidiary). Maybe I could get one of those no-bid contracts that would allow me to do several billion dollars of business on a cost-plus basis…you know, the more cost, the more plus.

Bill Clinton deregulated the already regulated banking industry by repealing the Glass-Steagall Act, which proved to be unwise, so through Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, and nurtured through the House and Senate, then signed into law by the President, we re-regulate the formerly regulated but not un-recently deregulated banking industry, and we swear to ourselves we have done a good thing; yet Frank and Dodd, and others who voted, had special VIP treatment from a now defunct mortgage company. This was all being considered while those same men were rightfully complaining about former Halliburton CEO and then Vice-President Dick Cheney was presiding over the Senate while his former company was being awarded a no-bid, multi-billion dollar contract for services in Iraq and Afghanistan in two wars that were OFF-BUDGET expenditures. How can expenditures be OFF-BUDGET? How can OFF-BUDGET be transparent and open? And since we have no budget, aren’t ALL expenditures OFF-BUDGET? Who can tell us, really, how much money we are spending? Can Jon Corzine tell us? He can’t even tell where the money HE was in charge of went. I am as fiscally competent as Jon Corzine!!

And keep your government hands off my Social Security and my Medicare. George Bush spearheaded the effort to expand Medicare to cover the costs of terrifically expensive prescription drugs. This was needed by many people, since many seniors paid nearly all their social security money for their medicines. They could eat, or buy their medicine. Hmmmm! Choices! This was a needed benefit . . . but WHO pays for it? Where does the money come from?

Now, we want to expand Medicaid and have passed the ACA, which gutless politicians have made sure doesn’t come into effect until AFTER the elections. How will we pay for THAT? Yes, everyone expects to pay taxes, so I suppose we will be taxed more, but I swear I cannot like it when the government takes MY money away from me. The more they take the less I like it. When the government takes away the incentive for a business to profit, then we can watch repeated failure of Soviet-style five-year plans in our own country. It’s remarkable how much more productive the small patches of ground the Soviets finally let the peasants farm for themselves were than the large collective farms. It’s remarkable how capitalistic incentives have turned China into an economic powerhouse in just a few short years. Sure, they have terribly bad pollution, but ask a Chinaman with a JOB how much he likes this as compared to the forced labor camps they used to have under Chairman Mao. If you suggest to him that the best economic philosophy is, “from each according to his ability; to each according to his need,” he may spit in your face…maybe not, I can’t be certain. He’d at least fuss at you like Hop-Sing fussed at the Cartwright brothers for tracking mud in his clean Ponderosa house.

As bad as it is, we seem to be the only country contemplating building fences to keep people OUT. People still long to come here. It is still a dream to people all over the world. The American Dream. Others see it, but we have lost our vision. The Soviets built fences to keep people IN. The Chinese guarded the border between China and Hong Kong so that people would not FLEE China to the freedom of Hong Kong. And Cubans and Hatians brave tropical storms in tropical waters in rickety boats to come HERE. Cuba and Haiti are seldom destinations for immigrants. And only Hugo Chavez goes to Cuba for cancer treatment.

Saudi Princes, though, come to the USA for cancer treatment. A Saudi prince was being treated for Lymphoma at the same time I was being treated for Leukemia. I had a nice suite on the 4th floor. He had the top two floors rented for himself and all his entourage. The hotel probably had 40 rooms per floor, so that would be 80 rooms. I think I may have seen him, but I can’t be sure since he was surrounded by a hundred or so spotlessly clean white-robed, moustached Omar Sharif’s in their head-dresses. I spoke to some of them. I told them my name was Lawrence. “Ahh! Lah-dance!” they smiled and said!! We hit it off nicely. They would shout from across the lobby. “Alloo Lah-dance.” I donl;t know if I ever laid my eyes on the Prince, but I think I might have. It was hard to pick him out of the 100 Omars. The prince has since passed away as a result of his disease (I sincerely regret this), but not before he made a $140 million contribution to the MD Anderson Cancer Center for research for a cure for blood cancers, for which I AM THANKFUL!!! Go ahead, and tell me how good Canadian medicine is. Canadians come to the USA to buy whiskey, cigarettes, gasoline, and health-care, in bulk, when they can afford it. When they can’t afford it, they stay in Canada and wait in line to either pay nothing or exhorbitantly. Same thing in Britain. Of course, you can find people who love their health care in both places, but they’re mostly healthy, and there’s plenty that will tell you it’s quite awkward having bureaucrats telling you how you may or may not receive your health care. Even here, don’t our insurance companies tell us how we may and may not receive our health care? Bureaucratic medicine!! Do we really think the government will make this better, fairer, and more equitable without rationing it? And HOW WILL IT BE PAID FOR?

If the means for production is removed (capital) and the rewards for the risk of capital (profit) are removed, WHO WILL RISK IT? We, at last, against the sage wisdom of Alexis de Tocqueville, have arrived at our nadir as he predicted:

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

We are bound and determined to vote ourselves wealthy. We will have our benefits. We will live our lives in cradle to grave security and comfort as furnished to us by The Benevolent Government of The United States of America. Somewhere we have misconstrued our rights of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” for the impossible rights of “Life, Liberty, and Happiness.” The two things are light-years apart. The government that promises to make me happy also restricts my liberty. We are in the midst of instituting a crisis so bad that we will be forced to implement the very types of government programs that are failing and bankrupting European nations as we watch, and then, we will be ripe for a dictator who will come to us promising order, peace, a saner, better society, with a chicken in every pot. We have seen these governments before. History does not speak kindly of them. Would we be so naive as to think things would be different now? Sure we would. This is 2012. It’s MODERN times!! We’ve all been to COLLEGE!!

Every freedom that we allow to be taken from us in the name of peace and security is one that will never be returned to us. I earlier purposefully left out the other 9 representatives of ours that are not elected. When those 9, perhaps the most important 9, are co-opted or discounted by our other branches of government, there will be no hope for us or the constitution that limits our government. Our constitution does not constrain us, it constrains our government, whose only legitimate powers are enumerated in the constitution. The government does not have power that is not specifically granted to it unless WE GAVE IT TO THEM somewhere along the way. When we allow Congress to abdicate its responsibility to make laws by creating agencies that promulgate regulations upon regulations, which are all under the aegis of the Executive branch, we have foolishly traded our freedom and responsibility to make laws by which we would govern ourselves. It seems Congress is too busy flirting with lobbyists to be concerned with making laws; let the executive branch do it.

I am asking for the freedom to fail, and to fail utterly. The government owes me the right to be left alone a much as possible. “But you didn’t build it,” they have said to me. “The government gave you roads, provided you police and fire protection, passed zoning laws to protect you property values, provided drainage and sewer, and enable the electrification of your rural area”, they tell me. “You didn’t do this on your own!” And when did I expect the police to protect me. When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

Well, I paid for it. We paid for it. We pay for it all. I pay my taxes. The money the government used to do these things came from where? The GOVERNMENT earned it? The GOVERNMENT created wealth and added value where there was none before? And by what means did the government do this, if this is indeed what the government did? The government can only do it be the taxation of its citizens and its corporations. Government SPENDS money. Government does not CREATE money! Oops! I forgot… the government has a printing press, so it can create all the money it wants. It is doing it right now, except now they gave it an intellectual, smart-sounding name and they call it “Quantitative Easing”. Right now, we are in QE4 since the 2008 recession (we already had QE1, QE2 and QE3). And you think prices of food and fuel are high because of EXTERNAL reasons? The prices of food and fuel are high because your money is worth less. It has been debased. It is continuing to be debased while our Federal Reserve spokespeople release inflation data, which, for some reason always excludes “volatile” food and energy prices, which then indicate that inflation is not so bad. Don’t you spend a significant portion of your money on food and energy? I sure do. If inflation gets bad enough, all prices will be volatile and thus they will all be excluded from inflation reports, then we will have no official inflation, but there will be nothing to buy. Who are we at war with this week, Eurasia or Eastasia? Oh, that’s right . . . it’s Oceania. Time for our two minutes hate. Who are we hating this week? Oh, yes, I remember…those greedy capitalists. It’s the memory of Winston Churchill. It’s the memory of Adolph Hitler. It’s Jimmy Carter. It’s Bill Clinton. It’s George W. Bush. It’s Dick Cheney. It’s Barack Obama and Joe Biden. It’s Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney. It’s whoever is president and whoever wants to be president. It’s everyone but me, since everyone else is a parasite taking that which rightfully belongs to me, who has produced nothing, risked nothing, done nothing, but never failed at anything except not consuming enough. We hate everything that now prohibits us from continuing to live beyond our means. The party is over. The beer keg, though not quite empty, has flat, hot, stale beer. The smell of it makes us sick. We vomit in the very place where we once ate, but there is nothing there to eat, so like the dog . . .

Me. Me. Me. Me. I. I. I. I. I will. I will. I will. I wish. I wish. I wish. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me.

“What about me?” everyone asked.

“You’re asking about the wrong person. You’re worried about you. That’s a selfish, outdated, bourgeois, notion. You should be concerned with the common good. You should be concerned with us!” the people replied in unison.

And everyone looked around at everyone else, thinking everyone else would do would do something, but they found no one. They searched and they searched, and they finally found a man working in a pea patch, picking his own peas. They demanded that he give them his peas.

“Take them all,” he said, “I quit!” And then he walked off and the world went dark. They searched for him everywhere, but they searched in vain. Someone said his name was John Galt.

“Who is John Galt?” said the modern version of Joseph Stalin, in the darkness. “He is the one we will learn to hate. It is his face the boot will trample forever in Orwellian future.”

From that day forth, a load of bread sure would buy a whole lot of gold.

Then the world stopped and began to freeze over again in a new ice age. At least, global warming had been halted, but no one was there to deny it had ever happened.

Excuse me. My cynicism escaped while I wasn’t watching. I occasionally let it out for a bit of exercise, but tonight, it escaped of its own volition. It is hard to control when it gets a mind of its own. After several hours, I’m about to get it put back in its pen….thank goodness.

Did I write about POLITICS?? Ooops! Mea Culpa!!

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