Tuesday, May 23, 2006

'Decline of the Republican Party' Part 5

It was Reagan, not Congress

National Debt by President
The national debt peaked at 120% of GDP in 1946 due to the war effort, but Roosevelt, Truman, Ike, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon and Carter all did their part to bring the national debt back to pre-war levels. By the beginning of 1981, the national debt had fallen to 32.5% of GDP. Then, Reagan took office and the national debt took off. It rose non-stop for 12 years to 66.3% at the end of Bush's term, erasing 25 years of progress in paying down the national debt.

From the White House: The Reagan-Bush Debt Explained
The traditional pattern of running large deficits only in times of war or economic downturns was broken during much of the 1980s. In 1982, [Reagan's 1st budget year] partly in response to a recession, large tax cuts were enacted. However, these were accompanied by substantial increases in defense spending. Although reductions were made to nondefense spending, they were not sufficient to offset the impact on the deficit. As a result, deficits averaging $206 billion were incurred between 1983 and 1992. These unprecedented peacetime deficits increased debt held by the public from $789 billion in 1981 to $3.0 trillion (48.1% of GDP) in 1992.

The most popular national-debt web sites continue the same confusions that caused Reagan to believe the national debt was higher than ever when it was at its lowest point since before World War II. Here is what you see when you look at the debt in nominal dollars.

Brillig (named for Alice in Wonderland) has been reminded of inflation and has corrected for it by adding the following graph. But this still ignores population growth and that fact that the country has gotten a lot richer in the last 50 years. The result is still tremendously misleading, but you can see the Reagan rise and the Clinton dip.

The nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) takes all of these effects into account. It grows with inflation, population and increased income. By comparing the national debt to GDP, we get a fair check on whether it is growing or shrinking relative to what we can afford. That is why the White House web site give gross national debt as a percentage of GDP, which is what I have plotted on the page above.

The Heritage Foundation
Historical Context
The 7.9 percent of GDP spent on discretionary programs in 2005 was not far off the historical average. Discretionary spending topped 10 percent of GDP from World War II through the early 1980s, before falling to 6.3 percent in 2000, and then spiking back up to 7.9 percent in 2005.

Defense spending has driven much of these fluctuations. From 9.3 percent of GDP in 1962, it typically remained over 5 percent until the Soviet Union fell in 1991. Then, after dropping all the way down to 3.0 percent of GDP in 2000, the War on Terrorism has pushed it back up to 4.1 percent.

Non-defense discretionary spending has remained more stable over the past few decades. After dropping to 3.2 percent of GDP in 1999, it has since surged to 3.9 percent in 2005.

Recent Large Spending Increases
Conventional wisdom holds that non-defense discretionary spending has been cut to make room for defense spending increases. Conventional wisdom is wrong. According to OMB Historical Table 8.2, non-defense discretionary outlays – adjusted for inflation –surged by 34 percent between 1999 and 2005. That is the largest six-year expansion since the 1970s.

One way to compare current discretionary spending trends is by presidential administration:

Overall discretionary outlays rose 2.3 percent annually under President Clinton, compared to 9.7 percent annually under President Bush. Defense was virtually frozen in nominal dollars under President Clinton, and has averaged 12 percent annual growth under President Bush. Non-defense discretionary outlays rose 4 percent annually under President Clinton, versus 8 percent annually under President Bush.

Let me re-emphasize that last point: Non-defense discretionary spending has grown twice as fast under President Bush as under President Clinton.
Examples of discretionary spending increases between 2001 and 2006 include the following:

Education is up 62 percent, or 10 percent annually; International affairs is up 74 percent, or 12 percent annually; Health research and regulation is up 57 percent, or 9 percent annually; Veterans’ benefits are up 46 percent, or 8 percent annually; Science and basic research is up 40 percent, or 7 percent annually. and Overall non-defense discretionary outlays are up 46 percent, or 7.8 percent annually.

Budgets are about making trade-offs among competing priorities, and these recent guns and butter budgets raise serious questions about federal priorities. To enact the largest six-year non-defense discretionary spending hike, at the same time funding a war, has placed federal spending on an unsustainable path. Last week’s harsh reactions to the President’s budget proposal shows that certain constituencies have now grown accustomed to large annual spending increases, and consider even a temporary freeze at these higher spending levels to be out of bounds.

Large Entitlements Threaten Discretionary Programs
Discretionary spending faces a perilous future. The reason is not because the President’s budget proposal forecasts discretionary spending cuts through 2011. Discretionary spending is budgeted on a yearly basis, and any projected discretionary spending numbers after 2007 hold no statutory weight, but serve only as temporary placeholders to make future budget deficits appear smaller. These out-year numbers are typically dismissed by the White House when writing subsequent budget requests.

The real reason for concern comes from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, whose steep growth will likely crowd out all other spending.

The math is simple. Annual spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid – what I call the “big three entitlements” – is projected to leap by 10.5 percent of GDP between now and 2050. That money will have to come from somewhere. The entire 7.9 percent of GDP currently spent on discretionary programs will be at risk.

It is possible that Congress will raise taxes to pay for this spending. However, Congress would have to keep raising taxes every year until they reach the current equivalent of $11,000 per household above current levels to fund those entitlement costs.

Assuming that Congress balks at such large tax hikes, it becomes more likely that discretionary spending will have to be substantially reduced to make room for those entitlements. Competition for scarce budget resources will become increasingly intense, and the big three entitlements will leave smaller and smaller crumbs for discretionary spending. Overall, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid spending increases are projected to squeeze out the entire non-defense discretionary budget by 2020, and the entire discretionary budget (including defense) by 2034.

The message is clear: If you prioritize spending on education, health research, veterans’ health care, homeland, security, defense or the environment – the single biggest threat to these programs is Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that within a decade, the big three entitlements will be growing $172 billion each year – which will be more than the entire combined budgets of the Departments of Education and Justice at that time. At that point, it will become difficult to maintain even a shell of current discretionary programs. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will swallow almost all of the tax dollars.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

'Decline of the Republican Party' Part 4

A recent local Minnesota pre-poll showed 52 percent would vote within the two-party system, and the other 48 percent would vote either independent or not at all. An interneter told me the RNP is a "bad idea" while the DNP has "no ideas". I responded with, "Promoting a bad idea on the basis of no idea is not a good idea." I've come to realize the RNP's vision is simply to not be Democratic. Blah. Third party, or any "other" party, anyone? Lets really shake up the political format.

What next for conservatives
Nov 17, 2005
by George Will

The conservative coalition, which is coming unglued for many reasons, will rapidly disintegrate if limited-government conservatives become convinced that social conservatives are unwilling to concentrate their character-building and soul-saving energies on the private institutions that mediate between individuals and government, and instead try to conscript government into sectarian crusades.

But, then, the limited-government impulse is a spent force in a Republican Party that cannot muster congressional majorities to cut the growth of Medicaid from 7.3 percent to 7 percent next year. That "cut'' was too draconian for some Republican "moderates.''

But, then, most Republicans are moderates as that term is used by persons for whom it is an encomium: Moderates are people amiably untroubled by Washington's single-minded devotion to rent-seeking -- to bending government for the advantage of private factions.

Conservatives have won seven of 10 presidential elections, yet government waxes, with per household federal spending more than $22,000 per year, the highest in inflation-adjusted terms since World War II. Federal spending -- including a 100 percent increase in education spending since 2001 -- has grown twice as fast under President Bush as under President Clinton, 65 percent of it unrelated to national security.

In 1991, the 546 pork projects in the 13 appropriation bills cost $3.1 billion. In 2005, the 13,997 pork projects cost $27.3 billion for things like improving the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio (Packard, an automobile brand, died in 1958).

Washington subsidizes the cost of water to encourage farmers to produce surpluses that trigger a gusher of government spending to support prices. It is almost comforting that $2 billion is spent each year paying farmers not to produce. Farm subsidies, most of which go to agribusinesses and affluent farmers, are just part of the $60 billion in corporate welfare that dwarfs the $29 billion budget of the Department of Homeland Security.

Brian Riedl of The Heritage Foundation reports that Congress responded to the Korean War by setting priorities, cutting one-fourth of all nonwar spending in one year. Recently the House failed to approve an unusually ambitious effort to cut government growth. This is today's ambitiousness: attempting -- probably unsuccessfully -- to cut government growth by $54 billion over five years.

That is $10.8 billion a year from five budgets projected to total $12.5 trillion, of which $54 billion is four-tenths of 1 percent. War is hell but, on the home front, it is indistinguishable from peace, except that the government is more undisciplined than ever.

Lew Rockwell
Four Years Growth
by Laurence M. Vance

The Republicans gained control of the Congress in the third year of Clinton’s first term. They had complete control of the 104th Congress (1995–1997), held on to control in the 105th Congress (1997–1999), and remained in power during the 106th Congress (1999–2001) through the end of Clinton’s presidency. After George Bush was inaugurated in 2001, he had a Republican-controlled 107th Congress (2001–2003) until May 24, 2001, when Jim Jeffords (R-VT) switched from Republican to Independent, changing the Senate from 50/50 to 50 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and 1 Independent. The House remained in Republican hands. The 108th Congress (2003–2005) was once again solidly Republican, giving the Republicans an absolute majority in Congress and the White House for the last two years of Bush’s first term.

This means that the Republican Party has no excuse for the size and scope of the federal government as it exists right now. Republicans can’t blame anything on the Democrats like they did for the fifty years before they gained control of the Congress.

Now that we are at the end of Bush’s first four years, a simple question needs to be asked: Is the government at the end of Bush’s first term in any way smaller or less expensive than the government at the beginning of his first term. If it is, then Bush and the Republican Party told the truth, but if it isn’t, then Bush’s rhetoric was just hot air and the 2000 Republican Party Platform wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.
(See also What a Republican Majority Has Not Meant.)

Milken Institute
How Republicans Became Defenders of Big Government
by Stephen Slivinski

The Price of United Government
Why the big change under W? Because the Republicans own both the House and Senate. Divided government, with at least one house of Congress controlled by the President's opposition, tends to keep spending under control. As a onetime Reagan economic advisor William Niskanen noted, "The only two long periods of fiscal restraint [since World War II] were the Eisenhower administration and the Clinton administration, during both of which the opposition party controlled Congress."

Friday, May 19, 2006

'Decline of the Republican Party' Part 3

The American Enterprise
Unlimited Government
by Christopher DeMuth

Government bloat 1980-2005
Well, what difference does all of this make? Why in the age of the Internet, globalization, and al-Qaeda should we attend fastidiously to a document written more than two centuries ago, in radically different circumstances, that itself contains many artful fudges and reflects many political compromises on issues that long ago lost their salience? Here are three reasons why we should be much more fastidious than we are.

First, the American political order is very old and very successful, and tolerable Constitutional adherence has already seen us through many epochs and crises. Have you heard the joke about the student who went to the reference librarian and asked for a copy of the French Constitution? “I’m sorry,” the librarian replied, “we don’t keep periodicals here.” Ours is the oldest written Constitution, and our nation, for all of its problems and shortcomings, has been an unprecedented success. For most of our 216 years, other countries have been places of continuous political upheaval and oppression, punctuated by periods of mass violence. Progress and stability are cardinal virtues where political systems are concerned; when you find yourself in possession of them, hold fast to your institutional inheritance.

Second, the principle of limited government is not a bit less urgent today than it was two centuries ago. It has now been 25 years since Ronald Reagan arrived in Washington announcing his intention to “check and reverse the growth of government.” That quarter century has been governed mainly by Republican Presidents, and increasingly by Republican legislatures, and even the one Democratic President declared that “the era of big government is over.” Yet the federal government’s annual domestic spending doubled during the period, from about $900 billion to about $1.8 trillion (in 2000 dollars). Today the federal government’s fiscal imbalance—the excess of projected future expenditures over projected future revenues—is close to $70 trillion. About $20 trillion of this enormous sum was tacked on just in 2003, with the addition of a massive, unfunded Medicare entitlement to prescription drug benefits. Increasing taxes to pay for our standing policy commitments would move U.S. rates to the levels prevailing in today’s socialist European nations.

In recent years, with the Republicans in charge of both houses of Congress, domestic expenditures (even excluding post–9/11 “homeland security” spending) have been growing faster than during the previous two decades of divided government, and the incidence of pork-barrel projects has reached an all-time high. The 2001-2005 period marks the transformation of the Republican Party from its traditional role as a win-or-lose guardian of limited government to that of a majority governing party just as comfortable with big government as the Democrats, only with different spending priorities.

Perhaps the best illustration of this transformation is the Department of Education. Following the Department’s creation under President Jimmy Carter in 1980, Republican leaders routinely called for its abolition, and the 1996 GOP platform did so explicitly on Constitutional grounds. Then, in 2000, the party dropped its platform pledge. And by 2004 the Bush administration was campaigning for re-election boasting of a “huge, historic, gargantuan increase in federal education spending.” The claim was correct: the Department’s annual budget grew 83 percent after inflation during President Bush’s first term, by far the greatest rate of increase since its creation.

And the expenditure and debt figures offered here seriously understate the extent of recent government growth. That is because they ignore the burst of regulations whose costs are borne largely by the private sector. As with domestic spending, off-budget regulatory growth has been particularly pronounced in the recent years of unified Republican government. Examples include the institution of national “corporate governance” and accounting regulation under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, national school testing requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s issuance of a profusion of new rules throughout the financial services sector, the Department of Justice’s use of aggressive new legal theories to prosecute “economic crimes” and establish new forms of federal crime, and the national regulatory regimes established by state attorney general litigation described earlier. In 2005, political leaders of both parties proposed national price controls for gasoline, heating oil and gas, and pharmaceuticals. The bipartisan deregulation movement of the late 1970s and ’80s has been supplanted by new, equally bipartisan enthusiasm for regulation.

These developments have not come without resistance, but the nature and futility of that resistance is highly instructive. With the decline in Constitutional adherence, political leaders (mainly Republican) have been searching for several decades now for substitute, sub-Constitutional devices for curbing government growth. During President Reagan’s first term, I participated in lively White House debates where some promoted a “starve the beast” strategy of continuous tax reductions (reasoning that swelling government deficits would produce pressure for spending restraint), while others favored a “serve the check” strategy of matching taxes to current spending (on the theory that charging voters the full costs of government, rather than bucking some of them to our grandchildren through borrowing, would create a constituency for spending control). Reagan came down unhesitatingly for tax reductions, with auspicious political and economic results that made tax cutting the new mantra among all practicing Republicans.

In the Congress, Senator Phil Gramm devoted much of his public career to devising budget rules that would oblige his colleagues to make difficult spending choices they would rather avoid. More recently, House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s theme of an “opportunity society” and President George W. Bush’s theme of an “ownership society” have aimed to popularize the personal benefits of shifting insurance and subsidy programs from government administration to private institutions and markets. But these and other expedients have had little durable effect. It seems that, when accepted external constraints on government action are abandoned, there is no solution within the political system to the problem of government’s turning “every contingency into an excuse for enhancing power in itself.”

Thursday, May 18, 2006

'Decline of the Republican Party' Part 2

I wouldn't say I agree with every word of Lew's, but it's the gist of what he says that's important. The Republicans have never actually in history been a "small government" party. When I think about it, why would any administration seek small government considering all their agenda is is to reduce individual freedoms for their party's gain? I'd also make the argument that the Democrats are actually better at balancing a budget in the last 25 years because of the taxes (which are not good but unavoidable since citizens no longer are in control of their own money). I can say though that any gov't (Reagan and Bush Jr.) that spends as excessively, if not more, than the Dems, and continues deep tax cuts, spells greater national debt.

Anyhow, this cat & mouse game talk of these two party's is pointless in my book. I am not voting for the Repukes on the basis that Hillary Clinton "will ruin America" with her concealed socialism agenda. That tag will just continue with the next DNP candidate, and the next, and the next...I can't wait another 50 years for "the promise" of a better tomorrow in all its lustered facade.

I recommend you read the entire link. Interesting stuff.

Lew Rockwell
1. The party began as a coalition of Americans who wanted to expand federal power. Its heritage was with the Hamiltonian Federalist Party, which more or less transformed into the big-government Whig Party. When the Whig Party became defunct, the Republican Party emerged to include centralist big-government Americans and other opponents of the Democrats without a party.

The party also absorbed many folks from the Free Soil Party, which was, itself, a loose coalition of Americans who opposed the extension of slavery into the western territories. Some were genuinely anti-slavery, and even a few abolitionists, with nowhere else to go, joined the Free Soil movement. But the Free Soilers, by and large, only opposed slavery because they found it unfair that free white laborers should have to compete with black slaves. They wanted to keep blacks out of the West. Free Soilers and Republicans who were authentic abolitionists were rare and without influence, much like the libertarians in the GOP today.

2. There were surely some early Republicans with good intentions, with a greater interest in liberty and equality for blacks than in pillaging through the federal government. However, the party as an institution was always about expanding the central state and nationalizing sectors of the economy – and such goals, however well-intentioned or falsely associated with the more noble principles of abolition and equality under the law, undoubtedly had little to do with America’s founding principles of Constitutional and decentralized, limited government.

In the late 19th century the president most sensitive to liberty was the Democrat Grover Cleveland, who, in the 1880s and 1890s, defended the gold standard, reduced tariffs, relied heavily on his veto pen, and rooted out corruption. When the Republicans took over with William McKinley in 1897, they continued their trademark trend of expanding government and using subsidies and tariffs to benefit Big Business. In 1898, they took America on its first step toward global empire – the Spanish-American War.

3. Enter Ronald Reagan – a man that personifies the deceptive fa├žades and realities of the modern Republican Party. Reagan began acquiring his undeserved good reputation as a champion of liberty in the 1950s, when General Electric hired him to tour the country and talk about free enterprise – a topic that neither Reagan, a devout New Dealer and former president of the Screen Actors Guild Union, nor General Electric, a top player in the military-industrial complex, had a true, heart-felt passion for or interest in.

As governor of California, Reagan signed into law the largest tax increase in state history as well as the most egregious modern gun control law in state history – the 1967 Mulford Act, authored by a Republican, which prohibited the carrying of firearms on one’s person or in a vehicle or on a public street. The California budget grew at a much faster rate under Reagan than under either Democrat Pat Brown before him or Democrat Jerry Brown after him.

As president, Reagan increased government spending through the roof. Federal spending totaled $590 billion in fiscal year 1980; by 1988, Reagan’s last year, it rose to $1.14 trillion. Under Reagan, the national debt climbed from less than $800 billion to more than $2 trillion. Although some people like to attribute this to "defense spending," that’s largely a myth, and irrelevant to the question of sheer government size, anyway.

Reagan cut taxes on high-income brackets, but he also dramatically raised payroll taxes, causing tax revenues to go up. At any rate, his spending nearly doubled the size of government. Since all spending increases are tax increases, whether in the form of direct taxation or inflation, Reagan must be seen as a tax raiser. Unfortunately, this doesn’t register with all conservatives, who learned from Reagan the neo-Keynsian mantra that "deficits don’t matter."

Reagan also pumped up the War on Drugs. The number of drug offenders in federal prison rose from about six thousand in 1980 to more than twenty-two thousand in 1988; the percentage of inmates in federal prison for drug offenses increased from 25% to 44% during Reagan’s two terms.

In spite of his lip service to free trade, Reagan was an ardent protectionist who strengthened the fraudulent Export-Import Bank and imposed horrendous tariffs and quotas on everything from electronics to clothespins to motorcycles to sugar. Despite his getting credit for deregulation, he only continued what Carter had begun. Despite his promises to eliminate the Departments of Energy and Education as well as the Selective Service and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, President Reagan abolished none of these, or any other major bureaucracies, and actually inflated them, for the most part.

Reagan was also a shameless interventionist, bombing Libya, militarily assisting both Iran and its enemy Iraq, illegally supporting thugs in Latin America, and invading Grenada. Despite the Cold War mythology, the USSR fell under the weight of central planning, not because of Reagan. It is absurd to credit Reagan’s central planning as a paragon of economic liberty that defeated Communism by example, or to think his militarism kept Americans safe.

4. 2000 rolled around with George W. Bush, who had been quite Reaganesque in his big-government polices as governor of Texas, carrying the banner of the Republicans and proposing a centrist agenda of "compassionate conservatism." On the one hand, he advocated a "humbler" foreign policy, lower taxes, and a modest Social Security "privatization" program. On the other hand, he proposed expanding Medicare and greater national involvement in education.

The two parties squared off in one of the closest presidential races in history. Sick of Clinton and fearful of Gore, many libertarians supported Bush, falling for the often-asserted nonsense that the Republicans, once they controlled both the White House and Congress, would finally deliver on promises of smaller government and greater individual liberty.

Now that Bush has taken power, and the Republicans dominate Congress and the Supreme Court, we see once again what fans of smaller government can expect from the GOP: the very opposite of liberty, big government in all directions. Endless war, Medicare expansions, protectionism, enormous agricultural welfare, the Patriot Act, campaign finance censorship, education nationalization, the end of due process, and half-a-trillion dollars a year in deficit spending.

Most small-government conservatives and libertarians feel betrayed by Bush, and yet are thinking of lending him their helping hands on election day. They hope the Republican Party will return to its supposed roots in small government and liberty. They hope that Bush will improve in his second term.

'Decline of the Republican Party' Part 1

This is 1-3 of 6 steps on the demise of the Republican Party. I cut it off at 3 because the remainder starts promoting Libertarianism, and I wanted to focus on what your vote goes to.

"If government growth were a videotape, liberals would be pushing the 'Fast Forward' button, moderates the 'Forward' button, Republican Politicians would talk about hitting the 'Pause' button, while they left the tape on 'Forward'. Libertarians are the only people trying to push the 'Rewind' button."

With the Bush administrations spendaholicisms, the changes might be that the RNP have fully committed themselves to 'Forward' or 'Fast Forward' themselves. The days of "fiscal responsibility" (what a joke) are truly over, if it ever existed in the first place. (According to 20/20's independent/libertarian John Stossel, gov't has done nothing but grow each and every presidential term over the last 75 years.)

Why Republican politicians keep selling out freedom

By Jo Jorgensen

Republican Politicians give us the political equivalent of 1-900 Phone Sex. They tell us that we're special. They ask us what we really want -- and tell us that they want it, too. Then they start breathing heavy and getting excited by what we want. They tell us their fantasy for us. They tease us and tempt us. They arouse our passions. They tell us how much they want it and how good it's going to be.

When we hang up from the 1-900 Republican Tax Cut Fantasy Line, we realize three things: They cost us a lot of money; the real thing is a lot more satisfying; and they're never going to come across.

There are many fine Republican voters. Many fine Barry Goldwater Republicans. Many fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party.

But where are the Republican Politicians who aggressively pursue de-regulation, sizable tax cuts, and radical reductions of government?

Why do Republican Politicians keep selling out freedom?

Individual freedom and government power are polar opposites. More government means less freedom. More taxes, more regulations, more laws, more policies, more programs, more government employees, and more government spending. . .all grow at the expense of our freedom.

More individual freedom means less government.

Voting for more government is voting for less freedom.

Republican Politicians regularly vote for more government.

Republican Politicians regularly voted for the Nixon Federal Budgets, the Ford Budgets, the Reagan Budgets, and the Bush Budgets. Each budget was larger than the previous year's federal budget.

Ronald Reagan's lowest deficit was higher than Jimmy Carter's highest deficit.

In eight years as President, Ronald Reagan never even proposed a balanced budget.

In eight years as President, Ronald Reagan proposed higher federal spending every single year.

And Republican Politicians voted with Reagan. They voted for higher federal spending and higher federal debt.

Then, for four more years, Republican Politicians supported George Bush's spending hikes, increases to the federal debt. . .and even the Bush TAX HIKES.

Republican Politicians voted for more government power. More government power means less individual freedom.

Why do Republican Politicians sell out freedom?

FIRST, We do not sell out our most precious values.

Since Republican Politicians are selling out freedom for government power, we know that freedom is not sacred to them.

In "Dead Right," David Frum says:

"Conservatives are not libertarians. They do not believe that maximum personal liberty is a good in and of itself, without regard to its consequences. 'The effect of liberty to individuals is, that they may do what they please,' wrote Edmund Burke, the hero of American conservatives, 'We ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations.'"

Libertarians always put freedom first.

Republican Politicians sometimes put "National Security" first. Sometimes they put "Public Order" or "the Public Interest" first. Sometimes they put "Character" or "Virtue" first. Sometimes they put "Western Civilization" or "Religion" or "American Values" first.

Sometimes Republican Politicians put "Special Interests" in their districts first.

We cannot add to government programs, we cannot add to government priorities without subtracting from freedom. When Republican Politicians give government responsibility for other values, they take away freedom.

SECOND, Politics is priorities. Although many Republican Politicians evangelically preach the doctrine of cutting taxes, cutting back government and cutting out government waste -- they go Brain Dead when you ask them exactly what they'll cut out of the Federal Budget.

In 1992, Policy Review, a publication of the Heritage Foundation, asked 20 moderate-to-conservative Republican Senators what they would do to cut $25 Billion from the federal budget. That was less than 2 percent of the budget.

Only 5 of the 20 Republican Politicians responded. And only Hank Brown of Colorado could find $25 Billion to cut from the federal government.

Republican Politicians now have more important priorities than cutting back Big Government.

Conservative author George Will wrote, "A conservative doctrine of the welfare state is required if conservatives are even to be included in the contemporary political conversation."

Years ago, Irving Kristol said, "The welfare state is with us, for better or worse, and. . .conservatives should try to make it better rather than worse."

Newt Gingrich personally added a revealing sentence to the 1992 Republican platform. Gingrich said that Republicans must try to, and I quote, "transform the bureaucratic welfare state into a government that is customer-friendly, cost-effective and improving constantly."

Think about a 'customer-friendly, cost-effective and improving constantly' Internal Revenue Service. How about the Drug Enforcement Administration? Or a lean and mean Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms?

Republican Politicians think we are badly taxed, not over-taxed. Badly regulated, not over-regulated. Badly governed, not over-governed.

If you back them into a corner, Republican Politicians will say they want to cut waste from the budget. I've been through the federal budget. There is no line item labeled 'waste'.

I have a message for the Republican Politicians: Stop trying to be all things to all people. Stand up and tell the truth. Exactly what are you going to cut out of the budget?

They have higher priorities than freedom. They are trying to make government efficient and effective. They are streamlining statism.

In the words of Fred Barnes, these Republican Politicians are "Big Government Conservatives." They no longer seek to dramatically reduce the size and power of government. They seek to use that power to re-shape America in the image of their conservative values.

THIRD, the Republican Political Strategy is to slow down or stop government growth, not turn it around.

Decades ago, William F. Buckley, Jr. said, "A Conservative is a fellow who is standing athwart history yelling 'Stop'."

George Bush said, "Read my lips: no new taxes."

Nancy Reagan said, "Just say 'No'."

Slow-growth statism or even stand-still statism is a loser strategy. One expands and empowers the government. The other preserves and protects government.

"Holding the line" on taxes and government is a prescription for failure. On D-Day, we didn't want to "hold the line" at the English Channel. We wanted to move the line forward. To free Europe of Nazi domination.

"Holding the line" on government means protecting and respecting all the new taxes, new spending, new bureaucracies, new laws and new policies that have been added to government since the Constitution was first ratified.

"Holding the line" means letting the Big Government advocates keep what they have stolen from us.

We must begin by dramatically cutting the size and scope and power of government. We must move the line forward to freedom.

We've had enough negativism. We don't want politicians who only say 'No'.

Libertarians just say 'Yes' to huge budget cuts, 'Yes' to dramatic tax cuts, 'Yes' to fiscal restraint. We say 'Yes' to significantly reducing government power. We say 'Yes' to restoring individual freedom and responsibility.

If government growth were a videotape, liberals would be pushing the 'Fast Forward' button, moderates the 'Forward' button, Republican Politicians would talk about hitting the 'Pause' button, while they left the tape on 'Forward'. Libertarians are the only people trying to push the 'Rewind' button.


This is the speech that Jo Jorgensen, the LP's 1996 vice presidential candidate, first gave in February 1995, at the height of the so-called Republican Revolution. She encourages members to copy and distribute the speech, with proper attribution.

Libertarian Heritage

Great introduction on the history of the Libertarian Party here. I'd say it's a motivational piece, and why the two-party system will do nothing but grow and continue to reduce individual freedoms along the way. My recommendation is to get out while you still can because our current system, with the same empty promises year after year, decade after decade, is largely a cess pool that replaces liberty and freedom with regulations and gov't intervention.

Please, if you are seriously tired of our dinosaurific political system, place a vote away from the two-party system. I don't even care if it's for the Libertarian Party. Vote for the politician who will get like 17 votes. If enough Americans voted away from the norm, we could make a significant impact on the current system in place. Of course not all politicians are incompetent, but it would make the whole rethink what they are doing, which judging by my local state gov't is nothing. Thanks

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Dennis Prager and homosexuality

Andrew Sullivan's take on Dennis Prager's 2003 article on homosexuality is far more intelligent than mine. So please take a moment to read his because mine is really only an alternative.

Society has the right and obligation to prefer heterosexuality to homosexuality. It is better for children -- they need a mother and a father. And it is better for the individual -- a woman makes a man a better person; and a man does the same for a woman. Advocating heterosexuality as society's ideal no more implies bigotry or "homophobia" than advocating marriage implies bigotry against singles or "single-phobia."

Under libertarian ideology, societies do not have rights. Individuals do.

Societies that regard homosexual sex as the equivalent of heterosexual sex have far more homosexual sex. Ancient Greece esteemed man-boy sex, and consequently had far more of it than modern society.

Societies that allow gay marriage are not claiming any sort of "equivalence". They would be allowing couples the freedom to decide for themselves. Societies will never from what I can see ever view homosexuality as "equal". The issue at hand for heterosexual society is whether or not they can tolerate homosexuality. BTW, Dennis never backed up his assertion with statistical facts.

Religion is an active supporter of suppressing gay marriage through gov't. Gov't is a direct and forceful approach that reduces individual freedoms in the name of fixing those homosexuals who might not be able to be fixed, if you catch my drift. Somewhere along the way religion failed in educating people on their word, and now Dennis Prager and religion believe they have a right and/or duty to utilize gov't to pass laws outlawing homosexual conduct. I'm getting a bit off topic, but the religious right and Republican Party are for the very thing they claim the Democrats are for: more gov't. No matter what way you cut it, it is not true liberty. And as I have either experienced or heard, this approach cannot be mentioned to the religious without denial for the most part. "I'm freeing people from the need to sin" (a true quote) may be a noble gesture under religious ideology, but it is a roundabout way of imposing regulations on the secularist. Outside of violent acts, I'm not convinced it is any of my business to tell homosexuals what they can and cannot do. Sooner or later society will tire of hearing about gay marriage and just come to accept it or tolerate it. (The homosexual movements incorrect move is in trying to push "equality" onto a largely heterosexual society. Liberty is the point in question.)

It is unfair to a child who can be adopted by a married couple to be adopted by a same-sex couple. Children have a basic human right to a mother and a father.

Possibly, probably...but should that decision come down to the child and couple, or Dennis Prager and society? You decide.

The Boy Scouts have the right and the duty not to place gay men in situations where they are alone with boys -- just as the Girl Scouts should not place heterosexual men in positions where they are alone with girls. Yes, most gay men control themselves around boys; but the disproportionate sexual abuse of boys by homosexual priests suggests that some proportion of gays will not be able to control this desire.

It isn't the Boy Scouts' "duty" to anything. In an ideal world without (or less) gov't intervention, they'd have the right to make whatever damn rules they want. Just as homosexuals would have a right to make their own club. If you as a parent have a questionable issue with a scout master, screen them. If you cannot do so, pull your child out, because you have the individual freedom and right to follow your beliefs.

None of these propositions in any way contradicts the opening statement: The homosexual is equal in God's eyes to the heterosexual.

Unfortunately this comes across as more of an insult and is not very convincing. Dennis doesn't even truly believe God loves homosexuals. Otherwise maybe he wouldn't be trying so hard to remove homosexuality from society, or atleast utilizing gov't for religions own failures.

Added later:

If God loves homosexuals too, wouldn't Prager want to just accept them for who they are, or at minimum tolerate them? In essence Prager's entire religious mission in life is under the scope of being a contradiction: a person motivated by the loving message of God while acting in a manner, even acknowledging on occasion such as above, which promotes [legislated] force and hatred.

I do not have all the answers here. All I know is the DNP nor the RNP nor religion nor Dennis Prager believe in true freedom. They all prefer more gov't involvement, not less, and for different reasons.

A funny piece on the Homosexual Agenda...

Pam's House Blends
I know that many of you have heard Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and others speak of the "Homosexual Agenda," but no one has ever seen a copy of it. I have finally obtained a copy directly from the Head Homosexual. So we're all up to speed, it follows below:

The Homosexual Agenda:

6:00 am Gym

8:00 am Breakfast

9:00 am Hair appointment

10:00 am Shopping

12:00 PM Brunch

2:00 PM (Here's the really important part)

1) Assume complete control of the US Federal, State and local Governments as well as all other national governments
2) Recruit all straight youngsters to our debauched lifestyle
3) Destroy all healthy heterosexual marriages
4) Replace all school counselors in grades K-12 with agents of Colombian and Jamaican drug cartels
5) Establish planetary chain of "homo breeding gulags" where over -medicated imprisoned straight women are turned into artificially impregnated baby factories to produce prepubescent love slaves for our devotedly pederastic gay leadership
6) Bulldoze all houses of worship
7) Secure total control of the INTERNET and all mass media for the exclusive use of child pornographers.

2:30 PM Get Forty Winks of Beauty Rest to prevent facial wrinkles from stress of world conquest

4:00 PM Cocktails

6:00 PM Light Dinner

8:00 PM Theater

11:00 PM Bed

National debt

"Each year since 1969, Congress has spent more money than its income. The Treasury Department has to borrow money to meet Congress's appropriations. The total borrowed is more than $8,000,000,000,000 and growing. Even when government officials claim to have a surplus, they still spend more than they get in. We pay interest on that huge debt."

"In Fiscal Year 2005, the U. S. Government spent $352 Billion of your money on interest payments* to the holders of the National Debt. Compare that to NASA at $15 Billion, Education at $61 Billion, and Department of Transportation at $56 Billion. For the current FY06, the running total is $213 billion spent on interest payments!"

"The interest expense paid on the National Debt is the third largest expense in the federal budget. Only Defense and income redistribution (The Departments of Health and Human Services, HUD, and Agriculture (food stamps)) are higher. Do you have "Compassion" for the lower income earners? (You may note that social spending is the largest item in our federal budget. (Anyone complaining about the run-up of the deficit, should note that almost all of it is going to social spending)."

Nat'l Debt 1950-2005: http://www.publicdebt.treas.gov/opd/opdhisto4.htm

Tax can be good:

Who do we owe this money to?

We owe it to the people and entities that have bought or received U. S. debt instruments, such as Savings Bonds, Treasury Notes or Treasury Bills.
That includes:

* Average folks like us
* Large and small corporations
* Banks
* Pension funds
* Insurance companies
* Various U. S. government entities such as the Social Security Trust Fund
* State and local government entities
* Foreign investors
* Foreign corporations
* Foreign governments
* For more information:
The Public Debt Online (U. S. Treasury, Department of the Public Debt)
Treasury Bulletin (U. S. Treasury, Financial Management Service)

Why do we owe it?

We have this debt because our government (that's you & me) spends more than it collects in taxes. The solutions are:

* Spend less. That's a lot harder than it sounds; most government spending that could be cut is relatively minor. The things that cannot be cut (or would be extremely difficult to cut) are huge.
* Tax more. If we can't (or won't) cut spending, it's our only choice.

Why can't we just cancel the debt?

We can't cancel it (default) because real people would be hurt—lots of real people, very badly hurt.

* Some people say, "It's not really a debt, because we owe it to ourselves." It would be closer to the truth to say we owe it to each other—and it isn't owed equally to all Americans.
* Defaulting on the debt would do great damage to many pension funds, life insurance companies, banks, state, county and municipal governments, and foreign governments.
* When you—or your parents—or your grandparents are ready to retire, and cash in life insurance policies or pension funds, the money must be there. In fact that happens every day. But we don't have the money to pay what's owed, so we borrow more, further adding to the debt.
* A huge amount of the debt is owed to the Social Security Trust Fund. When, in a few years, that fund goes from positive to negative cash flow, the money has to be available. If it hasn't been repaid to the fund at that time, it will have to be raised through additional borrowing, or additional taxation.
* Internationally, the consequences of a default are hard to imagine. World trade as we know it is dependent on stable financial structures and international trust. The U.S. economy is an immense part of the world's financial structure. The world may not trust us politically, but if they couldn't trust us financially, the impact on the world economy, and on our own, would surely be catastrophic.

Why should I have to pay for incompetent government spending, generations ago?

We have to pay the government's debt, because the government is us.

* Most of the past spending was done for us—it really was.
* We benefited from the low taxation that left money in our pockets instead of paying for our government's expenses as we went along.
* Most of that debt was not incurred generations ago. The biggest chunks were incurred as a result of tax cuts in the early 1980s, and in the early 2000s.
* The consequences of default are unthinkable. Our economy, and the world economy would be severely damaged, perhaps destroyed.

What kind of debt is this, exactly?

The instruments of the debt are things like Savings Bonds, Treasury Notes or Treasury Bills.

* When your grandmother bought you a U. S. Savings Bond, she was actually loaning money to the U. S. Government. If you never cashed in that bond, the Government still owes you the money, with interest.
* When your bank needs to invest the money you've deposited in a savings account, they're likely to invest some of it in government securities—the safest investment available to them. In effect, they're loaning your money to the government, which will pay it back with interest, part of which your bank will pay to you when you withdraw the funds.
* When your city government has collected a bunch of sales tax during December, and won't be spending it until they fill potholes in your street in April, they may buy short-term government bonds with the money. Yep—they loan it to the government, and get it repaid with interest when they need it. If they don't buy the bonds directly, they may put the money in a bank. Guess what the bank does with the funds? Uh huh.

Why does the government keep borrowing, when they know they can't pay it back?

We have to borrow, every month.

* Every day, people and institutions cash in government securities. They must be paid. Since we haven't had a surplus since 2001, we have no money to pay them. The only way we can pay them is to borrow more, by selling more securities.
* We're spending more than ever before, for military incursions, for increasingly expensive health care, and for interest on the debt. Our taxes aren't high enough to finance that spending, so we must borrow.

Why is our government pouring money into other countries as aid?

There are several variations on this question, targeting spending on such things as foreign aid, welfare, or congressional salaries. Everyone has a government expenditure he or she loves to hate. The problem is that most of those expenditures are so small that even their elimination would have no significant impact on the deficit.

* Put on a personal level, reducing such expenditures as foreign aid or congressional salaries would save each working American a few cents or a few dollars per year.
* There are really only three expenditures big enough that they have great impact on the budget; they are health care, defense spending and interest on the debt.
* Interest is a single item; the others are categories. Interest on the debt is the biggest single item in the federal budget. If we had no debt, and therefore no interest, our deficits would be easily manageable in the short term. In the late nineties, interest on the debt actually accounted for the entire deficit. The only way we can reduce interest is to reduce the debt.
* Our expenditures for health care are immense, including active and retired military and their dependents, active and retired civilian government employees and their dependents, and Medicare. None of the plans that have been presented on the main political stage in recent years even pretend to reduce expenditures for health care—they only nibble around the edges of the problem, if that.
* It's pretty hard to talk about defense reductions in the midst of a major military incursion.

How can we get out of this mess?

The solutions are:

* Spend less. That's a lot harder than it sounds; most government spending that could be cut is relatively minor. The things that cannot be cut (or would be extremely difficult to cut) are huge.
* Tax more. If we can't—or won't—cut spending, it's our only choice.
* Realistically, we have to do both. In fiscal 2004, the deficit equaled 17.5% of spending. I can't conceive that growth in the economy is going to amount to 17.5% anytime soon. I can't imagine that we can reduce actual spending by 17.5%. So taxation has to be a part of this.
* If we are really ready to sacrifice significant spending programs, perhaps we could cut overall spending by as much as 8% or 9%. But think what that means! The average increase in spending over the past 5 years has been almost 5%. If inflation in the next few years averages 3%, and we stop the increases in spending, and we reduce spending by a real 8%, that totals 16%!! What do you think? Is that 8% reduction realistic? Nah, 1% or 2% is more realistic.
* So we have to increase taxes—we have no choice. Won't that hurt our economy? Probably.

Won't more tax cuts stimulate the economy enough to reduce the deficit?

The short answer is: NO!

* The only tax cut I know of that ever actually increased revenues was in the early 1960s. The situation then was vastly different from now. The highest tax rate in the fifties was actually over 90%. The early sixties tax cuts restructured taxation in fundamental ways, and did indeed stimulate the economy. We were also in the full bloom of post-war recovery. And the tax cut wasn't as big as it sounded, either. Very little income had ever actually been taxed at those enormous rates because most large incomes were well sheltered from extreme taxation.
* The tax cuts of the 1980s and the early 2000s created huge increases in the deficits and the debt.
* There is no room for significant tax cuts now, because even short term deficit increases could be deadly.
* There's another problem with this question as it's asked: it talks of reducing the deficit. Deficit reduction isn't what we need; that only slows the disaster. We must eliminate the deficit. Only when we replace the deficit with surplus, can we begin to reduce the debt. Only debt reduction will reduce the tremendous cost of interest we are paying.

What happens if nothing changes?

This answer isn't as simple as it might seem.

* In the very short term, very little happens if we don't address the problem. That is in fact part of the problem, because it helps us remain complacent. In the short term, your taxes won't go up, because a lot of politicians are dead set against tax increases. But larger and larger portions of your tax money will go to pay interest on the debt, rather than current expenses.
* Interest rates will continue to rise. The government is a huge borrower, getting bigger every month. The amount we borrow impacts interest rates significantly.
* Rising interest rates will increase deficits.
* Increased deficits necessarily increase the debt.
* Increased debt means higher interest payments.
* Higher interest payments create higher deficits.
* As this cycle continues, interest rates must rise further.
* The problem worsens exponentially.
* At some point there is a critical mass effect; the government's appetite for borrowing will exceed the world economy's supply. Then interest rates will soar, and the entire house of cards may well collapse—that's financial collapse—worldwide.
* If that collapse can somehow be avoided, at the very least, we will all have to pay sharply higher taxes than we have ever paid, and for a very long time, to restore worldwide financial stability.

Why do interest rates fluctuate so wildy?

OK, this is a bit complicated.

If you look every month at the interest paid on the debt, you'll see that it is much higher in some months than in others, even though the size of the debt changed very little. The explanation is in the way the Treasury Department sells and redeems securities. They sell securities several times every month. Some securities mature in as little as four weeks, others in as long as thirty years Every month, some securities mature and are redeemed. Some of those will have been sold in the previous month, but some were sold thirty years ago.

Study Table PDO-1, Maturity Schedules of Interest bearing Securities, which is linked from the Treasury Bulletin website. It lists all the market offerings of securities that are still outstanding, and their issue dates and interest rates —all sorted by the dates they mature. Notice that the interest rates on individual lots of securities can be as low as 1.5%, and as high as 14%. Refer also to the Monthly Interest Rate Certification. It shows the interest rates Treasury has recently paid, and expects to pay in the immediate future, on new security offerings. In September '05, these rates ranged from 3.5% to 4.625%.

Each month, some old securities mature, and new securities are sold. If we redeem a lot of old 13% and 14% securities, we replace them with 3.5% and 4.5% securities, and our interest payments go down. On the other hand, if we redeem a bunch of 1.5% and 2% securities, replacing those at the current rates, our interest payments rise.

As obscure as this seems, it is actually extremely important. The chief reason that our deficit fell so dramatically in the late '90s is that we replaced a lot of old, very high-interest debt from the '70s and early '80s, with much lower interest debt. Even though the amount of debt was still increasing, the overall interest payments were reduced. We're still retiring some of that high-interest debt, but there's a lot less of it than there once was. When it's gone, our interest payments will begin to rise, reflecting the rising interest we are paying on new debt. When that happens, the deficit will rise even faster than it has been rising.

Reaganific! Go for growth and skip the debt: http://web2.airmail.net/scsr/Pres_01.htm