Debt Wish: Firemen First?
According to reports, if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, the Treasury Department will have to prioritize spending for its’ most crucial obligations. Yet with all the wasteful spending going on in Washington, President Obama is saying Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits and pay for “specialists who track down loose nuclear materials” will be the first to go. Sounds like another chapter in the time-honored Washington tradition of creating “hyperventilated worst-case scenarios” to avoid making real spending cuts.
WASHINGTON WILL SEEK TO EXERT THE “MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF POLITICAL PRESSURE TO BREAK THE IMPASSE”
Brookings Institute’s Philip Wallach: “I happen to think the triage would be chosen to create the maximum amount of political pressure to break the impasse right away, which would be withholding Social Security checks” (Jim Kuhnhenn, “Hitting the Debt Limit: What Bills Would Be Paid?” Associated Press, 1/13/13)
PRESIDENT OBAMA LISTS SOCIAL SECURITY, VETERANS BENEFITS AND OTHERS AT RISK IF DEBT CEILING ISN’T RAISED
President Obama: Benefits To Veterans, Social Security Recipients Could Be Delayed. “Obama said Congress’ failure to raise the government’s borrowing limit would delay payments of benefits to veterans and Social Security recipients.” (Jim Kuhnhenn, “Obama: Debt ceiling fight threatens SS checks,” Associated Press, 1/13/13)
Troops, Small Business Owners, Food Inspectors, Air Traffic Controllers And Specialists Who Track Down Loose Nuclear Materials Were Also Listed:
President Obama: “If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America’s bills on time, Social Security checks, and veterans benefits will be delayed. We might not be able to pay our troops, or honor our contracts with small business owners. Food inspectors, air traffic controllers, specialist who track down loose nuclear materials wouldn’t get their paychecks.” (“White House News Conference,” Washington Post, 1/13/13)
BUT REPORTS SHOW THERE’S PLENTY OF WASTEFUL SPENDING TO CUT BEFORE SOCIAL SECURITY AND OTHER “CHERISHED” BENEFITS
Social Security Checks Don’t Have To Be In Danger, The Administration Has Choices:
AP: Social Security Checks Don’t Have To Be In Danger. “No one doubts dire things will happen, and fast, if the government runs out of borrowing authority in coming weeks. But late Social Security checks need not be among them.” (Calvin Woodward, Spin Meter: Obama and his Social Security Warning,” Associated Press, 1/14/13)
“The Administration Has Choices …” “It’s possible, but not preordained, that Social Security recipients, veterans and beneficiaries of other cherished programs would take a hit. The administration has choices …” (Calvin Woodward, Spin Meter: Obama and his Social Security Warning,” Associated Press, 1/14/13)
There’s Plenty Of Wasteful Spending In Washington That Needs To Be Cut:
“Tax Cheats Get $1.4 Billion In Stimulus Loans.” “Tax cheats were given $1.4 billion in government-backed mortgage loans under President Obama’s economic stimulus, and the government doled out at least an additional $27 million in tax credits to delinquents who took the first-time-homebuyer tax break, according to a government audit released Wednesday.” (Stephen Dinan, “Tax Cheats Get $1.4 Billion In Stimulus Loans,” The Washington Times, 6/27/12)
GSA Bonus Pool Tops $44 Million. “The U.S. Government won’t explain, but a 9 News Now investigation has found $30 million in unreported bonuses for fiscal year 2011 – making the already troubled General Services Administration’s total bonus pool nearly $44 million.” (Russ Ptacek, “$30 Million In Unreported GSA Bonuses Uncovered By WUSA9 Investigation, Rep John Mica Plans Congressional Investigation,” WUSA 9, 7/31/12)
Nearly $1 Million For Fruit Fly Testing. “[A] $939,771 experiment funded by the National Institutes of Health in Michigan and Texas that tested fruit flies to discover that male fruit flies are more attracted to younger female fruit flies than older ones.” (Sean Williams, “The 10 Dumbest Ways The Government Wasted Taxpayer Money This Year,” The Daily Finance, 10/17/12)
More Than $16 Billion On Government PR. “The government has spent more than $16 billion over the last decade on outside advertising, marketing and public relations contractors … an investigation by the Washington Guardian and Northwestern University’s Medill News Service has found.” (Phillip Swarts, John Solomon and The Medill News Service, “Federal agencies spent more than $16 billion on advertising, marketing, PR contractors in last decade,” Washington Guardian, 11/30/12)
OSHA Spends Taxpayer Money On “Heat Safety Tool” Mobile App. “A recent Freedom of Information Act request by the free-market oriented Americans for Limited Government revealed that the Labor Department contracts for the development of the ‘Heat Safety Tool’ and related Web 2.0 technologies cost the taxpayer $643,997.60. The contracts were awarded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus package.” (Josh Peterson, “OSHA spends taxpayer money to develop app that tells workers it’s hot outside,” The Daily Caller, 2/6/12)
“HYPERVENTILATED WORST-CASE SCENARIOS” A TIME-HONORED POLITICAL TACTIC IN WASHINGTON
AP: “Highlighting a threat to the most popular products of the government is a time-honored Washington tactic for turning up the heat on the other side to negotiate and settle.” (Calvin Woodward, Spin Meter: Obama and his Social Security Warning,” Associated Press, 1/14/13)
Firemen First: Washington Has A Long History Of Making Empty Threats To Avoid Spending Cuts. “The political predilection for hyperventilated worst-case scenarios was dubbed the Firemen First principle in 1989 by Charles Peters of The Washington Monthly, and is known in other quarters as the Washington Monument ploy. It’s the threat that a budget cut will force firemen and police to be laid off, or the iconic monument to be shut, when in fact there are other ways to save money.” (Calvin Woodward, Spin Meter: Obama and his Social Security Warning,” Associated Press, 1/14/13)
Wealth is not Created at the Top: It is Only Devoured There
The UK has left the EU and we can argue about the minutiae of Wealth until we’re blue in the face. But the overriding factors are apparent and in one of the richest countries in the world it is shocking that so many people can’t even be sure if they are going to be able to eat enough today or provide for their loved ones.
These days, politicians from the left to the right assume that most wealth is created at the top. By the visionaries, by the job creators, and by the people who have “made it”. By the go-getters oozing talent and entrepreneurial-ism that are helping to advance the whole world – Opinion by Rutger Bregman
… across the spectrum virtually all agree that wealth is created primarily at the top and so entrenched is this assumption that it’s even embedded in our language. When economists talk about “productivity”, what they really mean is the size of your paycheck. And when we use terms like “welfare state”, “redistribution” and “solidarity”, we’re implicitly subscribing to the view that there are two strata: the makers and the takers, the producers and the couch potatoes, the hardworking citizens – and everybody else.
Bankers, pharmaceutical giants, Google, Facebook … a new breed of rentiers are at the very top of the pyramid and they’re sucking the rest of us dry
In reality, it is precisely the other way around. In reality, it is the waste collectors, the nurses, and the cleaners whose shoulders are supporting the apex of the pyramid. They are the true mechanism of social solidarity. Meanwhile, a growing share of those we hail as “successful” and “innovative” are earning their wealth at the expense of others. The people getting the biggest handouts are not down around the bottom, but at the very top. Yet their perilous dependence on others goes unseen. Almost no one talks about it. Even for politicians on the left, it’s a non-issue.
To understand why, we need to recognise that there are two ways of making money. The first is what most of us do: work. That means tapping into our knowledge and know-how (our “human capital” in economic terms) to create something new, whether that’s a takeout app, a wedding cake, a stylish updo, or a perfectly poured pint. To work is to create. Ergo, to work is to create new wealth.
But there is also a second way to make money. That’s the rentier way: by leveraging control over something that already exists, such as land, knowledge, or money, to increase your wealth. You produce nothing, yet profit nonetheless. By definition, the rentier makes his living at others’ expense, using his power to claim economic benefit.
But here comes the rub. Most rentiers are not as easily identified as the greedy banker or manager. Many are disguised. On the face of it, they look like industrious folks, because for part of the time they really are doing something worthwhile. Precisely that makes us overlook their massive rent-seeking…
The problems we face are that the politicians are firmly in the hands (pockets) of the uber wealthy. We live in a corporate plutocracy and those holding all the wealth and therefore power have no intention of changing the status quo, even if it isn’t sustainable. They remind me of bacteria (or cancer) devouring the host body more and more even though eventually it will kill them too.
Donald Trump Forgets Important Lesson From Grandad:
Harper’s Magazine reprints an interesting letter from US President Donald J. Trump’s own grandfather that may get you thinking. Here is it then:
The Emigrants – By Friedrich Trump – From a letter written in 1905 by Friedrich Trump, Donald Trump’s grandfather, to Luitpold, prince regent of Bavaria. Trump had been ordered to leave Bavaria for failing to complete mandatory military service and to register his initial emigration to the United States twenty years earlier.
Prince Luitpold rejected Trump’s request for repatriation; the family later settled in New York. Translated from the German by Austen Hinkley.
Most Serene, Most Powerful Prince Regent! Most Gracious Regent and Lord!
I was born in Kallstadt on March 14, 1869. My parents were honest, plain, pious vineyard workers. They strictly held me to everything good — to diligence and piety, to regular attendance in school and church, to absolute obedience toward the high authority.
After my confirmation, in 1882, I apprenticed to become a barber. I emigrated in 1885, in my sixteenth year. In America I carried on my business with diligence, discretion, and prudence. God’s blessing was with me, and I became rich. I obtained American citizenship in 1892. In 1902 I met my current wife. Sadly, she could not tolerate the climate in New York, and I went with my dear family back to Kallstadt.
The town was glad to have received a capable and productive citizen. My old mother was happy to see her son, her dear daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter around her; she knows now that I will take care of her in her old age.
But we were confronted all at once, as if by a lightning strike from fair skies, with the news that the High Royal State Ministry had decided that we must leave our residence in the Kingdom of Bavaria. We were paralyzed with fright; our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick.
Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree — not to mention the great material losses it would incur. I would like to become a Bavarian citizen again.
In this urgent situation I have no other recourse than to turn to our adored, noble, wise, and just sovereign lord, our exalted ruler His Royal Highness, highest of all, who has already dried so many tears, who has ruled so beneficially and justly and wisely and softly and is warmly and deeply loved, with the most humble request that the highest of all will himself in mercy deign to allow the applicant to stay in the most gracious Kingdom of Bavaria.
Your most humble and obedient,
… Well then. Long ago, yes.. Still applies? You tell me.
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