Category Archives: Federal Budget

Trumportunity: Start With E

One of the first things, if not the first thing, for Donald Trump to do after inaugurated is to “Drain the Swamp.” This is already a popular meme for The Donald. And he’s given an indication that he will relish swinging the hammer to destroy the weaponized elements of the federal government that are used to enrich liberals, power them and to destroy conservatives and other political enemies.

A good start, as I call it, would be start start with the Es: Education, EPA and Energy. Two cabinet-level departments and an agency of great power have been compromised and turned into nests of corrupt leftism enriching like-minded cronies, funding like-minded activists, expanding government control over the citizenry along with harassing businesses and taxpayers.

The Department of Education, part of Jimmy Carter’s legacy, should be simply shut down, rooted out. It serves no useful or Constitutional purpose. Its Obama administration takeover of the student loan market is a ticking time bomb. The federal government has no business in the student loan market.

Even scarier from the Dept. of Ed has been the political mischief it has foisted upon the American education system. At all levels from collegiate to kindergarten, there’s no segment that has escaped the Sauronic eye of Ed.

Particularly pernicious has been its “Office of Civil Rights” (or something like that. This nest of crazed leftie vipers has issued “guidelines” threatening numerous schools at all levels with defunding and prosecution if those schools do not accede to the hardcore leftwing dreams of the office’s bureaucrats and appointees. Implementation of “Title IX” alone would be reason to blow the building up and salt the ground.

It has also pushed the shocking decline of educational achievement and turbocharging of political correctness. The absurd surreality of our campuses with special snowflakes, along with the Kafkaesque behavior and academics who live in an alternate universe are all the results of the shadow of the department’s behavior.

It works hand in glove with the carcinogenic education/teacher unions and education credentialing schools while being the chief organizer and funder of the whole wasteful, counterproductive Education Conference Industry.

The savings would be in the hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

Free the schools!

Another Jimmy Carter creation, the Department of Energy, actually has some uses. However, it has become pork barrel for politically-connected green energy rent-seekers while it has also been compromised by activists-cum-bureaucrats working against traditional and proven forms of energy such as oil, coal and nuclear.

Most of the department can be shut down with a few independent agencies offices created for any legitimate needs (e.g. like the old Atomic Energy Agency). But by and large, the federal government’s role in energy should be more like a chaperon rather than a funder and picker of winners.

Tens of billions of dollars a year could be saved while also stimulating energy research at state levels.

Free the energy!

Already good things have been mentioned about reforming the Environmental Protection Agency, a Nixon bribe to liberals (that was ineffective — they still hated him). Trump has named Myron Ebell to oversee his transition.

One could argue that EPA does have some legitimate tasks. But clearly the agency is out of control, often claiming control of seemingly every drop of water and molecule of air in the United States. It’s famous for trampling the rights of property owners and mandating behavior of business and citizens. It has forced business and citizens caught within its web of harassment to “donate” to favored liberal “environmental” groups and causes as part of a “settlement.”

Its workers are hardcore liberal activists and it is one of the more ideological bunkers.Besides its political powers it often acts as the propaganda arm of the green movement and at times acts like the headquarters of the green movement’s attempt to bring the American economy under its control.

EPA should probably be completely dismantled and then reassembled, in a much smaller form, with new staff and its mission tightly defined by Congress.

The savings would likely be a few billion a year but the effect would be greater as Americans would be allowed to use their property as they see fit and businesses could act safe that there was not a bureaucrat looking to put them out of business or turn them into lapdogs.

Free the environment!

Bonus “E”: Equity. All offices in all of the federal departments and agencies that have the word “Equity” in them are to be completely shuttered. These offices are nothing but hives of political correctness in addition to being sources of mischief and funding for extreme left groups and academics. Plus, the workers are highly compensated, contribute nothing to the fiber of the country and these people often use their appointments to obtain even-more highly-compensated employment in “Diversity” offices of large corporations or become lucrative “consultants” for government and businesses.

Equity” and “Diversity” has been a growth industry for the last couple of decades, taking a stratospheric path during the Obama years. People need to be judged by the content of their character and their performance not the color of their skin or sex. Those latter two criteria are the sole criteria that these offices pay attention to. They are unAmerican.

Free the Americans!

Fuhgedaboutdadebt

The federal debt sits around $19 trillion and continues to grow. A sane person would worry about such a large number but Washington, D.C., does not contain a majority of sane people. Many in government think debt is a good thing and more debt would be a better thing.

Witness a June 3, Wall Street Journal letter to the editor by one Francis X. Cavanaugh, “the founding chief executive of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, 1986-1993.” He complains that a recent column worrying about the debt, especially in the light of the trillions of dollars in unfunded obligations to retired and retiring federal workers (which it totaled up to $118 trillion).

Cavanaugh says, “Mr. Melloan’s concern that ‘we have borrowed so heavily from future generations’ is baseless. Future generations will indeed inherit the liability of the debt but they will also inherit the offsetting asset of the Treasury securities issued to finance the debt. So the net impact of the debt on future generations is zero.”

Whew! That’s a load off my mind.

In case you didn’t follow that, Mr. Cavanaugh is saying that we can’t owe money to ourselves. All those T-Bills bought by American investors (including retirees), don’t have to be paid off; or rather the Treasury can just crank out more debt to pay them off. In fact, the debt is turned magically into an asset!

Don’t you wish you could do that with your mortgage debt; your credit card debts; any student loans?  They aren’t debts, they are assets. take that mortgage debt and use it to buy a car!

Even more good news from Cavanaugh, the feds in Washington can keep spending like drunken sailors because there really is no such things as a yearly “budget deficit” pumping up those federal accumulated budget deficit numbers. He says, “The maturing debt and the interest on it are effectively paid off by issuing new Treasury securities. So the controllable budget has been balanced on average over the past 70 years.”

He even quotes Abe Lincoln, “Men can readily perceive that they cannot be much oppressed by a debt they owe to themselves.”

It’s just that simple.

Except it’s not.

Like a lot of Lincoln’s quotes, the quote can be “perceived” two ways. Anyone can “perceive” the Earth is flat. You can “perceive” you don’t owe a debt. That doesn’t make it so. It doesn’t mean that the person who originally loaned the money is happy to wave goodbye to it.

As anyone who has paid off a debt with a credit card knows, that debt doesn’t actually go away. Rolling over debt eventually catches up with you. Admittedly, the awesome power of the U.S. government means that it can get away with things that you and I can’t get away with but it eventually will catch up.

Real people own that debt. They payed their money fairly and legally on the promise that the U.S. federal government was good for the debt. People like Cavanaugh think, SUCKERS!

Cavanaugh is typical of so many people in government. Their knowledge of economics is horrific, actually downright dangerous. Many of them, like Cavanaugh, seem to be of the mind that a future miracle is going to happen, perhaps finding a winning trillion-dollar Lotto ticket under one of the government’s many couches. The other group, socialists that are growing in power within the Democrat party (and hence the U.S. government), will simply cancel the debt just as they wish to cancel the now trillion-dollar student debt morass and are beginning to look at the mortgage market to patronize their supporters with repudiations and write-offs.

My recommendation, avoid federal government debt instruments. They might be repudiated in a future Democrat administration populated by in-debt Millennials.

More Free Stuff!

This little item popped up last week, somewhat under the radar — a free Internet (for some people — AKA regular Democrat voters) proposal from the modern Santa Claus, the Obama White House and its puppet, the Federal Communications Commission.

As I’ve been telling people for some time, the “free phone” “entitlement” would morph into free Internet and here we see the first step. This is also related to the designation of the Internet and related entities as “Title II,” i.e. a utility that can be heavily regulated by government. Liberals will not rest until the Internet is part of the government’s portfolio and under its oversight and control. Eventually there will be a Dept. of Communication with a cabinet-level secretary. Bank on it.

Unless it is stopped.

The acorn of this mighty oak was a Reagan-era program. Reagan had a soft spot for Social Security and old folks (he philosophically knew better but couldn’t resist the sad stories). His idea was that no old person would be trapped without some kind of basic phone service, at least for emergencies. Immediately an income rider was attached so that “the poor,” no matter their age, would also be eligible. You knew then that it would be expanded and expanded. And so it was, slowly at first. Then, a few decades letter, it exploded with the Obamaphone program for getting wireless phones to those who might not have them. And now Internet “access” is being folded in, because, well, it’s just not “fair” that some people have Internet and some don’t.

I’m going to say something that has become controversial as liberalism has become increasingly more dominant in our culture. There needs to be a penalty for being poor. There needs to be some impetus, reason, encouragement for people to make themselves unpoor.

But the left likes people to be poor. It likes them to become dependent upon the government — for a few things at first, but increasingly more and more of the creature comforts. After awhile — a few years, a few generations they don’t mind being poor. It’s not so bad to be poor because everyone has enough to eat (except when it’s time to make hay about ‘hunger); everybody has shelter (other than those voluntarily homeless or mentally disturbed and when it comes time to make hay about ‘homelessness’); everybody is getting health care (except when it comes time make hay about ‘health care’); everybody has educational opportunities and increasingly a free or heavily subsidized college (except when it time to make hay about ‘education’); and so on.

In many ways they aren’t really poor — certainly in not any traditional and historical sense. Nor are they poor in any comparison to the actual poor in the rest of the world. Most of our “poor” would rate as middle class in most parts of the globe.

They have enough to get by but certainly not enough to actually become no longer dependent upon the government. After a few generations of this, people no longer are capable of taking care of themselves. And why should they, they reason — that’s what the government is for! Big Daddy/Big Mommy/Big Sister/Big Brother and Big Baby.

And they don’t have to pay a nickle for any of it because that wouldn’t be “fair” and they are poor!

Witness life in any Democrat-controlled city. Everything that comes out of the mouths of the local poor is “gimme” and their look is to the government (and the politicians are happy to abide). In their minds the government provides all. They are married to the government. The concept of taking care of themselves or looking to building a private sector is mostly foreign to them. In the rare occasions when it is addressed it is treated with contempt or denounced by politicoes and “stakeholding” activists as a conspiracy by Republicans, conservatives, corporations, enslavers to control them. Those “stakeholders” have a stake in keeping the poor poor.

The poor become completely incapable of understanding that they have already sold their souls to a master — the Democratic Party and its various flying monkey organizations.

Another Government Shakedown

This is an important issue of increasing federal government control over business, the economy and our lives that most people are, at best, vaguely aware of.

Sure, people may have seen the headlines, “GMAC/Ally Pay Loan Discrimination Fines” or “GMAC/Ally Settle Loan Racial Discrimination Cases,” but beyond that they know nothing. The only thing they’ll remember was that GMAC/Ally discriminated against minorities on car loans.

Except they didn’t.

A few intrepid reporters and publications have broken the story on the government criminal enterprise that is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Oh, it sounds like a good place but it is a hive of lefty, socialist apparatchiks who want to bring every penny and avenue of consumer interaction with businesses under their control. And they are willing to cheat and lie to do it.

Paul Sperry has a good piece for the New York Post on this, “Bank CEO Reveals How Obama Administration Shook Him Down.” (I apologize for taking you to the ad garbage-filled NYP website — when I visited the banner ad was particularly aggressive and I’m tired of the looping ‘Fashion Must-Haves’ video.)

We can safely assume that a Hillary Clinton administration will continue these practices and enlarge the agency. A Bernie Sanders administration would be even worse. Which, if any, Republican administration would do anything about it? Trump may or may not. He might want to appear to not favor business and allow the bureaucrats to target other businesses (so long as they leave developers such as himself alone) or he might wake up on the wrong side of the bed one morning and declare war on the agency (I can dream!). Marco Rubio strikes me as the type that acknowledge the problem and then reach some kind of compromise reform. Ted Cruz seems like the only one who might actually target the agency for termination — on its lack of Constitutional enablement at the very least.

Follow the Global Warming Money

John Hinderaker at Power Line has a can’t miss piece, “Global Warming: A $1.5 Trillion Industry.”

It examines the increasingly lucrative Global Warming/Climate Change Industry. Besides noting the obscene amount of money involved, the real point is that this industry is heavily, and I mean HEAVILY, dependent upon government coercion for its existence.

Not only is it requiring government power to force the private sector to support it (shakedowns, regulatory mandates, etc.), it also needs the government to literally foot the bill in so many cases, e.g. “consultants,” “studies.”

This is just another case for getting the government out of businesses that it has no Constitutional mandate for being involved with in the first place. Shrink government and many of these rent-seeking industries will dry up – other than what is legitimate.

All the Gold in Fort Knox

Here’s a sobering (at least for me) thought about the national debt.

When I was young, the phrase, “All the gold in Fort Knox,” was used as an analogy for an immense amount of something or an expensive item or comparative.

So, how does our current national debt, in the neighborhood of $18+ trillion,  compare to all the gold in Fort Knox?

There’s a smidge over 147 million ounces of gold in Fort Knox. That’s a lot! For accounting reasons, the gold is actually on the books at a paltry $42.22 per ounce.That values that gold at $6,206,430,000. Yeah, a surprisingly small $6+ billion. Apple probably has that much lost in its seat cushions at its Cupertino headquarters.

Gold is currently selling in the range of $1,150 per ounce. So if by some magical method the gold could be sold at that more lucrative price without crashing the market it would fetch $169,050,000,000. That’s a more impressive $169 billion.

But that $169 billion would barely scratch the $18 trillion national debt. Scratchdini would buff that out in no time.

In fact, it is estimated that all the gold in Fort Knox might be around 3% of all gold mined in history – just under 5,600,000,000 ounces. So if we take that number and sold all of the gold mined in history at our magical $1,150 per ounce we’d collect $6,413,550,000,000,000 or $6.4+ trillion, barely a third of the (rapidly growing) national debt.

In other words, our national debt is higher than the “value” of all the gold mined in history.

It’s something to think about when Pres. Obama cavalierly dismisses the debt or Congressmen of any party blow through hundreds of billions of dollars like its popcorn and we’re firing up a Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit marathon.

Here’s an interesting page to bookmark on all the debt we’re ramping up like we’re Rockhound in “Armageddon” and there’s no tomorrow.

BTW, I’ve done all these calculations on my own so there is no guarantee they are 100% accurate so it would be nice if someone who is good with numbers checked them.