Thanks … for the stim-u-lus … Oh, well, it was swell while it lasted

GAO Chart Forecast Debt % to GDP

(To the tune of Bob Hope‘s “Thanks for the Memories” and apologies to him.)  By the way, you can subscribe to this blog in the box to your right.

What are the consequences of federal policies, and what is the message of the 2010 election? Continue reading “Thanks … for the stim-u-lus … Oh, well, it was swell while it lasted”

FOXNews.com – Millions in Stimulus Spending Being Doled Out for Questionable Jobs

You’ll love this. Be sure to read the rest of the article (link below). Then thank your Congresspersons for the additional debt ceiling authorized today which amounts to $45,000 for every man, woman and child in the country!

Federal agencies are spending stimulus money at the rate of $196 million an hour. And they will do so every hour for the next eight months until a September 30, 2010, deadline.”When you put that kind of money out the door that fast, there’s a possibility of $55 billion dollars of waste, fraud and abuse connected with it,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said Thursday before a Senate Finance Committee hearing examining the lack of oversight in the $878 billion dollar economic stimulus bill passed a year ago.Grassley said he fears much of the money is going to some individuals and businesses that don’t qualify for it and projects that do not serve taxpayers best interests. Judge for yourself:

— $233,000 to the University of California at San Diego to study why Africans vote. Jobs created: 12, but seven of those are Africans in Africa.

— In Nevada, $2 million in stimulus money built a new fire station, but because of budget cuts, the county can’t afford to hire firefighters to work there.

via FOXNews.com – Millions in Stimulus Spending Being Doled Out for Questionable Jobs.

Joe’s Fair Plumbing Act of 2009 — purloined from emails

This is just too “cute” and funny, while distressingly logical, not to post here for posterity. I defy anyone to defeat the logic of this analogy.

Joe’s Fair Plumbing Act of 2009

Barack Obama discovers a leak under his sink, so he calls Joe the Plumber to come and fix it.

Joe drives to Obama’s house, which is located in a very nice neighborhood and where it’s clear that all the residents make more than $250,000 per year.

Joe arrives and takes his tools into the house. Joe is led to the room that contains the leaky pipe under a sink. Joe assesses the problem and tells Obama, who is standing near the door, that it’s an easy repair that will take less than 10 minutes.

Obama asks Joe how much it will cost. Joe immediately says, “$9,500.”

“$9,500?” Obama asks, stunned, “But you said it’s an easy repair!”


“Yes, but what I do is charge a lot more to my clients who make more than $250,000 per year so I can fix the plumbing of everybody who makes less than that for free,” explains Joe. “It’s always been my philosophy.  As
a matter of fact, I lobbied government to pass this philosophy as law,

and it did pass earlier this year, so now all plumbers have to do business this way. It’s known as ‘Joe’s Fair Plumbing Act of 2009.’ Surprised you haven’t heard of it.”

In spite of that, Obama tells Joe there’s no way he’s paying that much for a small plumbing repair, so Joe leaves. Obama spends the next hour flipping through the phone book looking for another plumber, but he finds that all other plumbing businesses listed have gone out of business. Not wanting to pay Joe’s price, Obama does nothing. The leak under Obama’s sink goes unrepaired for the next several days.

A week later the leak is so bad that Obama has had to put a bucket under the sink. The bucket fills up quickly and has to be emptied every hour, and there’s a risk that the room will flood, so Obama calls Joe and pleads with him to return.  Joe goes back to Obama’s house, looks at the
leaky pipe, and says, “ Let’s see – this will cost you about $21,000.”

“A few days ago you told me it would cost $9,500!” Obama quickly fires back.

Joe explains the reason for the dramatic increase. “Well, because of the ‘Joe’s Fair Plumbing Act,’ a lot of rich people are learning how to fix their own plumbing, so there are fewer of you paying for all the free plumbing I’m doing for the people who make less than $250,000. As a result, the rate I have to charge my wealthy paying customers rises every day.

“Not only that, but for some reason the demand for plumbing work from the group of people who get it for free has skyrocketed, and there’s a long waiting list of those who need repairs. This has put a lot of my fellow plumbers out of business, and they’re not being replaced – nobody is going
into the plumbing business because they know they won’t make any money. I’m hurting now too – all thanks to greedy rich people like you who won’t pay their fair share.”

Obama tries to straighten out the plumber: “Of course you’re hurting, Joe! Don’t you get it? If all the rich people learn how to fix their own plumbing and you refuse to charge the poorer people for your services, you’ll be broke, and then what will you do?”

Joe immediately replies, “Run for president, apparently.”

What’s your view of what’s wrong in America?

My view is that NOTHING is wrong in America — not in the REAL America.

It’s the politics in Washington that is trampling on the Constitution, spending us into the poor house, and padding the pockets of special interests that’s wrong.  The following is a piece from Glenn Beck that lays it out pretty nicely. There may be something in what follows with which I don’t agree, but I haven’t found it yet. What’s your view?

One, illegal immigration. I want you to stop coddling illegal immigrants and secure our borders. Close the underground tunnels. Stop the violence and the trafficking in drugs and people. No amnesty, not again.. Been there, done that, no resolution. P.S., I’m not a racist. This isn’t to be confused with legal immigration.

Two, the TARP bill, I want it repealed and I want no further funding supplied to it. We told you no, but you did it anyway. I want the remaining unfunded 95% repealed. Freeze, repeal.

Three: Czars, I want the circumvention of our checks and balances stopped immediately. Fire the czars. No more czars. Government officials answer to the process, not to the president. Stop trampling on our Constitution and honor it.

Four, cap and trade. The debate on global warming is not over. There is more to say.

Five, universal healthcare. I will not be rushed into another expensive decision. Don’t you dare try to pass this in the middle of the night and then go on break. Slow down!

Six, growing government control. I want states rights and sovereignty fully restored. I want less government in my life, not more. Shrink it down. Mind your own business. You have enough to take care of with your real obligations. Why don’t you start there.

Seven, ACORN. I do not want ACORN and its affiliates in charge of our 2010 census. I want them investigated. I also do not want mandatory escrow fees contributed to them every time on every real estate deal that closes. Stop the funding to ACORN and its affiliates pending impartial audits and investigations. I do not trust them with taking the census over with our taxpayer money. I don’t trust them with our taxpayer money. Face up to the allegations against them and get it resolved before taxpayers get any more involved with them. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, hello. Stop protecting your political buddies. You work for us, the people. Investigate.

Eight, redistribution of wealth. No, no, no. I work for my money. It is mine. I have always worked for people with more money than I have because they gave me jobs. That is the only redistribution of wealth that I will support. I never got a job from a poor person. Why do you want me to hate my employers? Why — what do you have against shareholders making a profit?

Nine, charitable contributions. Although I never got a job from a poor person, I have helped many in need. Charity belongs in our local communities, where we know our needs best and can use our local talent and our local resources. Butt out, please. We want to do it ourselves.

Ten, corporate bailouts. Knock it off. Sink or swim like the rest of us. If there are hard times ahead, we’ll be better off just getting into it and letting the strong survive. Quick and painful. Have you ever ripped off a Band-Aid? We will pull together. Great things happen in America under great hardship. Give us the chance to innovate. We cannot disappoint you more than you have disappointed us.

Eleven, transparency and accountability.. How about it? No, really, how about it? Let’s have it. Let’s say we give the buzzwords a rest and have some straight honest talk. Please try — please stop manipulating and trying to appease me with clever wording. I am not the idiot you obviously take me for. Stop sneaking around and meeting in back rooms making deals with your friends. It will only be a prelude to your criminal investigation. Stop hiding things from me..

Twelve, unprecedented quick spending. Stop it now. 
 
Take a breath. Listen to the people. Let’s just slow down and get some input from some nonpoliticians on the subject. Stop making everything an emergency. Stop speed reading our bills into law. I am not an activist. I am not a community organizer. Nor am I a terrorist, a militant or a violent person. I am a parent and a grandparent. I work. I’m busy. I’m busy. I am busy, and I am tired. I thought we elected competent people to take care of the business s of government so that we could work, raise our families, pay our bills, have a little recreation, complain about taxes, endure our hardships, pursue our personal goals, cut our lawn, wash our cars on the weekends and be responsible contributing members of society and teach our children to be the same all while living in the home of the free and land of the brave.

I entrusted you with upholding the Constitution. I believed in the checks and balances to keep from getting far off course. What happened? You are very far off course. Do you really think I find humor in the hiring of a speed reader to unintelligently ramble all through a bill that you signed into law without knowing what it contained? I do not. It is a mockery of the responsibility I have entrusted to you. It is a slap in the face. I am not laughing at your arrogance. Why is it that I feel as if you would not trust me to make a single decision about my own life and how I would live it but you should expect that I should trust you with the debt that you have laid on all of us and our children. We did not want the TARP bill.. We said no. We would repeal it if we could. I am sure that we still cannot.. There is such urgency and recklessness in all of the recent spending.

From my perspective, it seems that all of you have gone insane. I also know that I am far from alone in these feelings. Do you honestly feel that your current pursuits have merit to patriotic Americans? We want it to stop. We want to put the brakes on everything that is being rushed by us and forced upon us. We want our voice back. You have forced us to put our lives on hold to straighten out the mess that you are making. We will have to give up our vacations, our time spent with our children, any relaxation time we may have had and money we cannot afford to spend on you to bring our concerns to Washington . Our president often knows all the right buzzword is unsustainable. Well, no kidding. How many tens of thousands of dollars did the focus group cost to come up with that word? We don’t want your overpriced words. Stop treating us like we’re morons.

We want all of you to stop focusing on your reelection and do the job we want done, not the job you want done or the job your party wants done. You work for us and at this rate I guarantee you not for long because we are coming. We will be heard and we will be represented.. You think we’re so busy with our lives that we will never come for you? We are the formerly silent majority, all of us who quietly work , pay taxes, obey the law, vote, save money, keep our noses to the grindstone and we are now looking up at you. You have awakened us, the patriotic spirit so strong and so powerful that it had been sleeping too long. You have pushed us too far. Our numbers are great. They may surprise you. For every one of us who will be there, there will be hundreds more that could not come. Unlike you, we have their trust. We will represent them honestly, rest assured. They will be at the polls on voting day to usher you out of office. We have cancelled vacations. We will use our last few dollars saved. We will find the representation among us and a grassroots campaign will flourish. We didn’t ask for this fight. But the gloves are coming off. We do not come in violence, but we are angry. You will represent us or you will be replaced with someone who will. There are candidates among us when he will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes that you have made of our constitution.

Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian. Understand this. We don’t care. Political parties are meaningless to us. Patriotic Americans are willing to do right by us and our Constitution and that is all that matters to us now. We are going to fire all of you who abuse power and seek more. It is not your power. It is ours and we want it back. We entrusted you with it and you abused it. You are dishonorable. You are dishonest. As Americans we are ashamed of you. You have brought shame to us. If you are not representing the wants and needs of your constituency loudly and consistently, in spite of the objections of your party, you will be fired. Did you hear? We no longer care about your political parties. You need to be loyal to us, not to them. Because we will get you fired and they will not save you. If you do or can represent me, my issues, my views, please stand up. Make your identity known. You need to make some noise about it. Speak up. I need to know who you are. If you do not speak up, you will be herded out with the rest of the sheep and we will replace the whole damn congress if need be one by one.

We are coming.. Are we coming for you? Who do you represent? What do you represent? Listen. Because we are coming. We the people are coming.

American Thinker: The Top Ten Reasons Obamanomics Won’t Work

Following is an intro to an interesting piece on “obamanomics” that includes some very thoughtful analysis.  View this without a political agenda and just ask yourself whether there is economic reality in the current federal monetary policy and what is intended as an approach to stimulate an economy perceived to be weak.

The comments following the full article are quite pithy and worth reading.

A brute inflationary monetary policy of the kind we are experiencing today can hardly avoid leading to a growth in GDP that, after all, is largely a record of consumer spending. But we cannot judge an economic policy to be “working” simply by detecting such an increase in GDP. Nor may we say policy has “succeeded” just from increases in government jobs or government-subsidized jobs. An economy’s success, properly speaking, is one that increases long-term levels of production with robust private sector employment. In short, inflation and public sector growth do not mean a policy has “worked.” As the essence of Obamanomics is easy money and government aggrandizement, ther

via American Thinker: The Top Ten Reasons Obamanomics Won’t Work.

From a Republic to Oligarchy

Are we there? Note some definitions of an oligarchy:

ol·i·gar·chy (ŏl’ĭ-gär’kē, ō’lĭ-) n. pl. ol·i·gar·chies
Government by a few, especially by a small faction of persons or families.
“oligarchy.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 27 Apr. 2009. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/oligarchy>.

OR

Oligarchy (Greek Ὀλιγαρχία, Oligarkhía) is a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family, military powers or occult spiritual hegemony. …
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oligarchy

There is a very interesting article in the May 2009 edition of “The Atlantic” which is introduced with the following premise

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises.

America was founded as a representative republic (not a pure democracy, although most people unfortunately blur this most important distinction). Citizens were to go to the seat of a limited government and, especially in the House of Representatives, serve a short while and return home. The notion was they were close to the people, would represent the people’s best interest, and return to their communities. Accountability was automatic.

Now we have professional politicians, people who not only have made governing their life’s occupation and many of whom have known no other calling for the majority of their adult life. They don’t return to their communities in any real sense of the word. Accountability is difficult, almost nonexistent if you think of the recent hue and cry of the people against bailouts and incurring debt to solve a problem created by excessive debt. “They” live by rules far different from those imposed upon the people they were sent to Washington to represent.

Read the article:  Simon Johnson, The Quiet Coup – The Atlantic (May 2009).

The author was economist (see bio snippet below) at the International Monetary Fund — the entity that makes loans to struggling third world countries and emerging markets. What does that have to do with the current conditions in the United States you ask? The author describes desperate debt-laden counties with political systems that increasingly allow the foolish and risk-taking components of the economy to push their problems onto the public section — the people, you and me — due to their political interconnectivity.

Sound familiar?

The argument can be made that while Congress has 535 members, it and the Executive, in concert with critical influences in our economy, have become a small governing group and America has become

a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family, …

In other words:  an oligarchy. Consider the following quote

“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”
“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Benjamin Franklin (1706–90).

The response is attributed to BENJAMIN FRANKLIN—at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation—in the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention.

via 1593. Benjamin Franklin (1706-90). Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

Can we keep it? Or have we already lost it?

Simon Johnson, a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, was the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund during 2007 and 2008. He blogs about the financial crisis at baselinescenario.com, along with James Kwak, who also contributed to this essay.

Ronald Reagan Speech on Behalf of Goldwater 1964

Ronald Reagan
Address on Behalf of Senator Barry Goldwater
Rendezvous with Destiny
October 27, 1964

On the evening of 27 October 1964, Ronald Reagan delivered a nation-wide paid political telecast on behalf of the presidential candidacy of Barry Goldwater. His presentation was so forceful and engaging that Reagan, hitherto little considered a political figure, became overnight a political force in the Republican party. Although Goldwater lost to Lyndon Johnson in an landslide and Richard Nixon captured the nomination – and the presidency – in 1968, Reagan’s reputation was firmly established and he recovered the fortunes of the Republican party with his victory in the presidential election of 1980.

Via: http://www.vlib.us/amdocs/texts/reagan101964.html (accessed 3/31/2009)

The text is at this link. But you really need to listen to the audio which you can do by clicking here and either download or open the mp3 file for listening. OR, get the video by clicking here.

Reagan’s delivery of this speech is as powerful as any he ever gave, is full of facts, and makes it so very clear that socialist forces were at work as early as 1964 and before. He quotes many instances of government leaders, primarily in Congress and high Cabinet positions, extolling the virtues of what the government can do for (read as “to”) the “masses.”  Lenin, Stalin and Hitler had “masses.”  America has individual people who have the freedom, the right and the ability to succeed or fail on their own, subject only to some very basic regulation of society. I suggest that we should return to that notion, chuck all of the lawbooks, and just pay attention to the Ten Commandments.

Read or listen to the speech. It will chill you to the bone and it should remind all of us of how fragile is our individual freedom today. Whatever did happen to the notion of the government having only such power as is derived from the people — or have the people simply given up and determined to hand over their individual freedom?  While it may be necessary for the government to take drastic steps to assist this country and the world out of the current economic mess and malaise, it is not necessary to abrogate our freedoms and the basic principles that made this country what it is today — still — the envy of the world.

Power Line – Is the stimulus bill unconstitutional?

This is big. Not only for the fact that it may portend a constitutional crisis but for yet one more demonstration of (a) the arrogance of the current Congress and (b) the lengths and depths to which this Congress and Administration will go to expand welfare and unemployment programs, each of which will surely hasten the destruction of the greatest country the world has known. Not only is this scary, but it is indeed simply, sad. America was built through hard work and entrepreneurship — not by motivating people to look for handouts!

From Powerline:

Is the stimulus bill unconstitutional?

March 15, 2009 Posted by Scott at 7:28 AM

Professor Ronald Rotunda is the prominent constitutional law expert now at Chapman Law School. In the column “Some strings attached” for today’s Chicago Tribune, Professor Rotunda looks under the hood of the so-called stimulus bill. In part the stimulus bill is calculated to expand welfare and unemployment programs. These provisions have prompted a few governors to reject the related funds.

Professor Rotunda points out that Congress anticipated these governors. Seeking to bypass such uncooperative governors, Congress added a unique provision to the bill (in section 1607(b)): “If funds provided to any State in any division of this Act are not accepted for use by the Governor, then acceptance by the State legislature, by means of the adoption of a concurrent resolution, shall be sufficient to provide funding to such State.”

Professor Rotunda asks: If state law does not give the state legislature the right to bypass the governor, how can Congress just change that law?

via Power Line – Is the stimulus bill unconstitutional?.

If we could but measure the matter, I fear that very soon, if not already, the numbers of people receiving what much of our society has come to regard as “entitlements” will outnumber the productive members of society.  And by “productive” I don’t refer to entrepreneurs or investors solely, but any person who puts in a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage — whatever that may be.

In 2006 (the most current figures available) the bottom 50% of taxpayers pay only 2.99% of total taxes and the top 5% pay about 60% — see chart below. How can that possibly continue, especially in the times of economic downturns such as the 08-09 recession? It can’t.

As the top 2% makes less money, which is now occurring, then the 80% slice of tax generation will decline. What would be done then — raise taxes?  A bit of math will demonstrate that once the top tier is earning substantially less income, then even at a 100% tax rate the federal budget will not be funded. Exactly where that cross-over point is, I don’t claim to know. But what I do know is that we’re headed that direction — a direction which is a recipe for disaster.

And don’t assume it’s the “wealthy” who are paying the taxes: as seen from the chart below, the top 25% pays 86% of the total taxes and that includes taxpapers making over just $64,702 Adjusted Gross Income! That includes a lot of families simply working hard at honest jobs for a wage. Not “fat cats.”

Here is the chart from the National Taxpayers Union which attributes the figures to the IRS:

Percentiles Ranked by AGI

AGI Threshold on Percentiles

Percentage of Federal Personal Income Tax Paid

Top 1%

$388,806

39.89

Top 5%

$153,542

60.14

Top 10%

$108,904

70.79

Top 25%

$64,702

86.27

Top 50%

$31,987

97.01

Bottom 50%

<$31,987

2.99

Note: AGI is Adjusted Gross Income
Source: Internal Revenue Service

There IS a breaking point. Do we want to push to the very edge and find out where it is? I think not.

Chuck Schumer, the American People DO Care

The arrogance of Sen. Schumer is almost beyond belief. In case you missed it, he said

And let me say this, to all of the chattering class, that so much focuses on those little, tiny — yes, porky — amendments: The American people really don’t care.

and to really understand the arrogance, here’s the video:

Let’s put into perspective just what he’s talking about when referring to “those little, tiny — yes, porky — amendments ….”

Maybe when you’re a member of the political elite in charge of the nation’s massive budget you lose perspective of what is and is not tiny, but I’m looking at the list of pork projects included in the “stimulus” and they don’t see so tiny to me.  Here’s one list Ed Morrissey put together:

$2 billion earmark for FutureGen near zero emissions powerplant in Mattoon, IL
$39 billion slush fund for “state fiscal stabilization” bailout
$5.5 billion for making federal buildings “green” (including $448 million for DHS HQ)
$200 million for workplace safety in USDA facilities
$275 million for flood prevention
$65 million for watershed rehabilitation
$200 million for public computer centers at community colleges and libraries
$650 million for the DTV transition coupon program
$307 million for constructing NIST office buildings
$1 billion for administrative costs and construction of NOAA office buildings
$100 million for constructing U.S. Marshalls office buildings
$300 million for constructing FBI office buildings
$800 million for constructing Federal Prison System buildings and facilities
$10 million to fight Mexican gunrunners
$1.3 billion for NASA (including $450 million for “science” at NASA)
$100 million to clean up sites used in early U.S. atomic energy program
$10 million for urban canals
$2 billion for manufacturing advanced batteries for hybrid cars
$1.5 billion for carbon capture projects under sec. 703 of P.L. 110-140 (though section only authorizes $1 billion for five years)
$300 million for hybrid and electric cars for federal employees
$198 million to design and furnish the DHS headquarters
$255 million for “priority procurements” at Coast Guard (polar ice breaker)
$500 million for State and local fire stations
$180 million for construction of Bureau of Land Management facilities
$500 million for wildland fire management
$110 million for construction for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
$522 million for construction for the Bureau of Indian Affairs
$650 million for abandoned mine sites
$75 million for the Smithsonian Institution
$1.2 billion for summer jobs for youth
$412 million for CDC headquarters
$500 million earmark for NIH facilities in Bethesda, MD
$160 million for “volunteers” at the Corp. for National and Community Service
$750 earmark for the National Computer Center in MD
$224 million for International Boundary and Water Commission – U.S. and Mexico
$850 million for Amtrak
$100 million for lead paint hazard reduction

A few hundred million here, a few billion there, and pretty soon we’re talking about real money.  And you can find much, much more at StimulusWatch.org.

From the Say Anything blog (accessed 2/11/09)

We’re not talking about little or tiny, but it IS pork.

It is clear from our founding fathers construction of this representative republic that the intent was that regular people, citizens with a stake in the county, would serve in Congress for a short time. This was especially true in the House of Representatives and perhaps less so in the Senate, but that was nevertheless the intent. That is, that we had citizen-representation and not professional politicians — yet that’s what we have today.

What’s wrong with that? They lose touch with the people and become totally out of touch with reality. The polls indicated what, that around 75% of the American public did not want the bailout?

Yes, Chuck, they DO care.