It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as putting pictures of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Kate Bosworth in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude. This week: The Royal Netherlands Army, Koninklijke Landmacht, which has deployed to the Iraq War from 2003 and the War in Afghanistan (2001-present), as well as a number of United Nations peacekeeping deployments, notably with UNIFIL in Lebanon, and UNPROFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992–1995.
From The Victory Girls:
by DEANNA FISHER on NOVEMBER 1, 2013
Why is the solution in D.C. always “give it more money”?
Despite having massive, growing national debt and running a huge fiscal deficit, President Obama has stated that he intends to expand the Head Start program by $55 billion (yes, that’s with a B) to spend a total of $75 billion in order to make preschool free for all four year olds.
Let’s look at the facts. Despite shoveling money at Head Start, HHS itself has admitted that its effects are largely temporary on a child’s education. By the end of third grade, there is no measurable difference between a child who went through Head Start and one who didn’t. (The HHS study links are here – in order to view them, you must have Adobe installed, since they are in spreadsheet form. If you don’t have Adobe, the Heritage Foundation has a very good summary, complete with reference footnotes from the study.)
So, what was the point of this government spending, if the government itself can’t even prove that preschool makes a difference?
More at the link, including Mrs Fisher’s answers to her own questions. I’d raise a question that she did not: whether a pre-school program is helpful or not, why should it be a federal program at all? The states and localities are responsible for public education, and that’s the way it should be: keep education at government levels closer to the people.
There are a couple of reasons why so many state and local functions have been federalized over the past several decades. First, most of the states have constitutionally-required balanced budget requirements, but the federal government does not. By getting the federal government to take programs (or simply just fund state and local programs), many state and local functions are financed through the deficit spending which is denied to most states; we have, in effect, transferred state and local deficits to the federal government. That removes from the legislatures the necessity of persuading the voters that a program is good enough and valuable enough that they should be willing to pay taxes to fund it.
I don’t know my congressman; I’ve never met him, and probably never will, other than in passing. But I do know the Mayor of Jim Thorpe, and if I need to discuss something with him, I can, easily. We became acquainted several years before he became the Mayor, and if we aren’t close enough to be considered personal friends, I know that if I knocked on his door — he lives just a few blocks away from me — he’d invite me in and offer me something to drink.
I know my state representative. We aren’t closely acquainted enough to be considered personal friends, but both he and his wife know me and I could discuss anything I wished with them. These people are simply closer to the voters they represent, because they represent so many fewer of them. And these are the type of people who would have to explain to their constituents why they thought a particular program would be a good one, and why we ought to be wiling to pay taxes to support it.
A second reason would be the special interest groups. The groups which are invested in such programs would much rather lobby one national legislature than fifty state legislatures. Washington, DC, is an expensive town, but it’s still a lot cheaper to lobby in one expensive town than fifty less expensive ones. Besides, while a lot of people might enjoy being lobbyists in Honolulu or Austin or Atlanta or Boston, not nearly as many would want to be lobbyists in Harrisburg or Frankfort or Bismarck or Des Moines.
Sister Toldjah wrote about Naked Fascism: The real story behind the liberal “defenses” of #Obamacare. And L D Jackson noted that the Administration’s regulations appended to the PP&ACA extend to 2.8 million words, longer, by an order of magnitude, than the (unread) law passed by Congress, longer than the Bible, longer than the longest book ever written, Remembrance of Things Past, and that we told you what was going to happen.
From The Pirate’s Cove:
By William Teach November 2, 2013 – 8:07 am
One thing to remember, the contraception mandate isn’t really a mandate in terms of being in the law: HHS made the rule that employers must provide free contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients through their health insurance plans
(The Hill) A federal appeals court on Friday struck down the birth control mandate in ObamaCare, concluding the requirement trammels religious freedom.
The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals — the second most influential bench in the land behind the Supreme Court — ruled 2-1 in favor of business owners who are fighting the requirement that they provide their employees with health insurance that covers birth control.
Requiring companies to cover their employees’ contraception, the court ruled, is unduly burdensome for business owners who oppose birth control on religious grounds, even if they are not purchasing the contraception directly.
“The burden on religious exercise does not occur at the point of contraceptive purchase; instead, it occurs when a company’s owners fill the basket of goods and services that constitute a healthcare plan,” Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote on behalf of the court.
Don’t expect this to end here, Team Obama will most likely take it to the Supreme Court.
More at the link.
If the people who believed the President’s repeated promises that if they liked their health insurance, they could keep it, feel stabbed in the back, so do the Catholic bishops. The Church was a big supported of the wholly misnamed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, because they strongly supported the idea that everyone should have health care coverage. But when you ally yourselves with people who have nothing but contempt for you, you shouldn’t be surprised when they stick a knife in your back as well, as the Obama Administration did by trying to force Catholic organizations which were not specifically churches to pay for contraception and abortifacient medications. Mary McCarthy’s famous scathing line about Lillian Hellman is about the most accurate description of President Obama and his Administration that I have ever seen: every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the’. The bishops should not have been surprised; I know that I was not.
The left will fall to its collective knees over any President who claims to be a liberal.
Finally, some pictures. We had a cooler, wetter summer than usual, and a dry September and October. As a consequence, the leaves didn’t turn as early as usual; if this is global warming, send us more of it! These photos were all taken this morning:
Setting: Washington DC
A man is standing over a small glass terrarium, watching some insects scuttle about. Standing about 10 feet away is a young woman.
Man: I just wish mankind could be more like these creatures here.
Woman: What, cockroaches?
Man: Well, not cockroaches necessarily, I mean insects in general. Insects are so much more socially evolved than we are. Look at the ant, the termite. Each exists solely for the benefit of the collective without giving a thought to their own self-interests.
Woman: Dad, they’re bugs. They can’t think.
Man: Then someone must do the thinking for them. That’s why people like us exist. Those of us trained in social thinking must be the ones to organize society properly.
Woman: Yeah, Dad, whatever. Anyway, I’m flying to Texas tomorrow for the wedding I told you about earlier.
Man: You absolutely are not! I forbid you to go to that dreadful place!
Woman: I’m 26 years old, you can’t forbid me to do anything. I’m leaving first thing in the morning.
Man: As president, I absolutely CAN forbid it! I’ll revoke your passport so you can’t leave. Or else revoke it after you get there so you can’t come back.
Woman: Given what a shithole this country has become, that might not be such a bad idea.
Man: Don’t you speak to me like that! The only problem in this country is lack of patriotism. People won’t put their country before themselves.
Woman: You mean, they won’t put your government before themselves.
Man: Country, government, they’re the same thing.
Woman: Not in Texas.
Man (losing temper): Then, goddammit, just fucking MOVE there, then! See if I care! See how you like it with no government run health care!
Woman: And a 5% sales tax, no income tax, and a 10 cent a gallon gas tax on gas that itself is a dollar a gallon. Remember dollar a gallon gas? Up here it hasn’t dropped below ten dollars a gallon in over a decade.
Man (Sternly): That’s because we have bigger priorities, like fighting climate change.
Woman: The climate hasn’t changed in decades.
Man: See? That proves our policies are working.
Woman: Working at making the economy a wreck. What was last month’s unemployment figure?
Man: About 8%.
Woman: No, I mean the REAL unemployment figure.
Man (turns red): That’s what the Ministry of Labor reports.
Woman: Yeah, the “Official” report that goes out to the press. The real figure (and I have my sources, too) is more like 23%. At this rate, it’s just a question of who will crash first, this country or Europe.
Man (looks anguished): Please don’t mention Europe!
Woman: Okay, okay. And believe me, I won’t be flying THERE any time soon! It’s not as if I’m going to wear a damned burqa just to walk down the street.
Man: I can’t believe it, but Progressivism has failed there. In Europe, the very birthplace of Progressivism! The home of Marx and Engels, after all, who showed us how to build a perfect society, a society devoted to fairness above all else!
Woman: Fairness sucks. It’s boring. Maybe it works for those damn insects you admire so much, but sure not for anyone who has something on the ball.
Man: You border on blasphemy, young lady!
Woman: I thought you didn’t believe in religion.
Man: I meant it as a figure of speech.
Woman: Whatever. And I’m taking your advice. Not only am I going to Texas for the wedding, but I probably won’t be coming back. Hell, I’ll be wanting to get married myself pretty soon, and at least down there they’ve got plenty of REAL men!
Man: There’s plenty of men here.
Woman: I said MEN, Daddy, not the spineless creatures that exist in this town. Most of them are bureaucrats and most of the rest are either politicians or lobbyists.
Man (irritated): These are some of the smartest men in the country! And if that’s not good enough, I could get you a high placed job at Harvard, where you could be among the intellectual elite.
Woman: Meaning a bunch of high IQ dorks and dweebs. No thanks. That’s why I dropped out of there after just one year.
Man: There’s nothing more important than an intellectual. Who else is to lead in creating our new society? Who else is fit to rule?
Woman: Maybe I’m more interested in someone who doesn’t WANT to rule. Or be ruled, for that matter.
Man: People HAVE to be ruled, for the sake of the Greater Social Good. If people stopped thinking about their own selfish lives and put the needs of Society first, this would be a much better planet for all of us.
Woman (rolling eyes): People aren’t insects, Dad, they aren’t ants. And they’re not farm animals, either, to be herded about at will in conformance to some idiot’s idea of a social theory.
Man: And I suppose you are going to tell me that what men really want is to be free? Sorry, but those of us who are enlightened know better. Freedom is dangerous. Freedom is unpredictable. It leads to trouble, to social inequality because someone always wants to be better than someone else, to have more money, more possessions, etc. Freedom leads to competition and thus social instability. A truly progressive society would find a way to eliminate all these things. Replace freedom with security. Have the government provide the people with all their needs, food, housing, health care and retirement, and they will be content and forget about this “Freedom” foolishness.
Woman: Well, the people in Texas feel differently, and Texas is where I’m heading. Your “Perfect” society has sucked all the risk out of life, and with it all the fun and excitement. Maybe some people want to have all their needs met and live like dairy cows with their heads in a feed trough, but the people I want to live with don’t. Good luck with your little social experiment, but I’m leaving and don’t expect to be coming back soon, if ever.
Woman turns around and heads out the door. Man goes back to observing his insects.
From Karen, the Loneliest of Conservatives:
The cover up continues. The State Department and the DOJ are blocking Congress from having access to survivors of the Benghazi attack. They blame it on the ongoing investigation,
The Justice and State departments are now citing a year-old FBI investigation and a future criminal prosecution to block access to survivors of last year’s Benghazi terror attack.
In an Oct. 28 letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.,the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, Julia Frifield, refers to “significant risks” and “serious concerns about having the survivors of the attack submit to additional interviews.”
Graham has been asking since last year for the FBI’s transcripts of interviews with State Department and CIA survivors who were evacuated to Germany after the Sep.11 attack on the U.S. consulate.
He and other Republicans believe the transcripts will show the survivors told the FBI it was a terrorist attack and made no mention of a video or anti-U.S. demonstration at the consulate.
This intelligence was likely available to the president, his national security team and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who five days after the assault blamed it on an anti-U.S. demonstration and inflammatory video. (Read More)
If they’re so concerned about the investigation why is the main suspect able to have coffee with reporters? It doesn’t sound like he’s too fearful of being caught and brought to justice.
More at the link. As Robert Stacey Stacy McCain — to whom I owe a hat-tip for the link to Karen’s article — noted:
This is a very familiar method of truth-suppression in D.C.: “I can’t comment because of the ongoing investigation.” Understand that when the federal government is investigating the federal government, denying information to Congress is a de facto cover-up.
Remember: Mr McCain was a professional Washington reporter, for the Washington Times, in a past life, and he has seen this kind of thing before.
Both Karen and Stacey Stacy cited the following story, from the Washington Times:
Two U.S. commandos fought in Benghazi rescue, privately honored for valor
Two out of eight in Tripoli sent to rescue, honored for valor
By Rowan Scarborough
Masked from public view, two of the U.S. military’s elite special operations commandos have been awarded medals for bravery for a mission that further undercuts the Obama administration’s original story about the Benghazi tragedy.
For months, administration officials have claimed no special operations forces were dispatched from outside Libya to Benghazi during the Sept. 11, 2012, al Qaeda terrorist attacks on the U.S. diplomatic mission and CIA annex because none was within range.
The Pentagon, under intense public criticism for not coming to the aid of besieged Americans, published an official timeline in November that carefully danced around the issue.
It said time and distance prevented any commandos outside Libya from reaching a CIA compound under attack. The timeline disclosed that a reinforcement flight 400 miles away in Tripoli contained two “DoD personnel” but did not describe who they were. Later, the official State Department report on Benghazi said they were “two U.S. military personnel” — but provided no other details. It made no mention of special operations forces.
More at the link.
This story, if confirmed, is actually less damaging to President Obama and his inept Administration than what we had heard before. I had stated previously that the thing to do, immediately, was to get troops on the way to Benghazi, without waiting for confirmation, without waiting for all of the facts, because it wasn’t a short trip; if information developed between the time that the forces were dispatched and they reached the site of the attack, they could always be called off. That part never happened, which was a complete failure on the part of the President, of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, but now we are learning that there was a small American force on the ground at the time. Mr Scarborough again:
(A) unit of eight special operators — mostly Delta Force and Green Beret members — were in Tripoli the night of the attack, on a counterterrorism mission that involved capturing weapons and wanted terrorists from the streets and helping train Libyan forces.
When word of the Benghazi attack surfaced, two members of that military unit volunteered to be dispatched along with five private security contractors on a hastily arranged flight from Tripoli to rescue Americans in danger, the sources said, speaking only on the condition of anonymity because the special operations forces’ existence inside Libya was secret.
The two special operations forces arrived in time to engage in the final, ferocious firefight between the terrorists and Americans holed up in the CIA annex near the ill-fated diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the sources added.
Now, I have to wonder: why was this a volunteer mission? There were eight “special operators” in country at the time, and there was a special flight arranged which got some people to the site; why weren’t the other six Green Berets/Delta Force operatives also sent on the way?
OK, maybe it isn’t less damaging to the President and his minions; no one had the cojones and judgement to get the rest of the team involved.
Could those other six Green Berets/Delta Force operatives have changed the outcome? There’s no way to know. We know the whole thing was a huge failure on the part of the President and his people, but failure is inevitable if you don’t at least try to succeed.
There are reasons why I have said that Barack Hussein Obama is the worst President in my lifetime — and my lifetime includes Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter — and the inept, and fatal, lack of initiative and response to the attacks in Benghazi is just one of them.
The face of the liar:
A lot of conservative sites have noted the report by NBC News — an organization which very much favors the Democrats — that the Obama administration knew millions could not keep their health insurance, but Robert Stacey Stacy McCain put it best:
How bad is the failure of ObamaCare? Bad enough that MSNBC’s Morning Joe can’t ignore it, says Pete Da Tech Guy. While they cannot ignore it, however, the liberal media must find some explanation that makes this failure look less predictable than it was, and how to make President Obama’s deliberate lies look like innocent errors:
President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.
Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.” . . .
The emphases were Mr McCain’s, not the cited NBC News story’s. But he’s Mr McCain’s money line:
So all those promises — that rates would go down and that people could keep their existing plans — were deliberate lies. And all the conservatives who tried to warn that ObamaCare was doomed to failure were correct. But the liars were all Democrats, and the people who told the truth were all Republicans, so there will be no apologies and no repentance. Instead, they’ll just come up with new lies.
The emphasis in that one was mine, not Mr McCain’s.
The problem is documented further down in the NBC story:1
None of this should come as a shock to the Obama administration. The law states that policies in effect as of March 23, 2010 will be “grandfathered,” meaning consumers can keep those policies even though they don’t meet requirements of the new health care law. But the Department of Health and Human Services then wrote regulations that narrowed that provision, by saying that if any part of a policy was significantly changed since that date — the deductible, co-pay, or benefits, for example — the policy would not be grandfathered.
Buried in Obamacare regulations from July 2010 is an estimate that because of normal turnover in the individual insurance market, “40 to 67 percent” of customers will not be able to keep their policy. And because many policies will have been changed since the key date, “the percentage of individual market policies losing grandfather status in a given year exceeds the 40 to 67 percent range.”
That means the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.
Yet President Obama, who had promised in 2009, “if you like your health plan, you will be able to keep your health plan,” was still saying in 2012, “If [you] already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance.”
“This says that when they made the promise, they knew half the people in this market outright couldn’t keep what they had and then they wrote the rules so that others couldn’t make it either,” said Robert Laszewski, of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a consultant who works for health industry firms. Laszewski estimates that 80 percent of those in the individual market will not be able to keep their current policies and will have to buy insurance that meets requirements of the new law, which generally requires a richer package of benefits than most policies today.
More simply, they took a law which would have made the President’s proclamations false to (possibly) less than half of the people, and added administrative regulations — they did not amend the law — which made the statements false to the majority of the people. Former Speakess of the House Nancy Pelosi (in)famously said that “we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it…,” but a very major part of the problem is not what was in the bill but what the Department of Health and Human Services has added on to the bill in the form of regulations. The regulators knew what the President had promised, and wrote regulations which deliberately broke the President’s promises.
As noted, virtually everybody on the blogroll has written about the President’s lies (see the Related Articles section below), but, to me, this is just one more bit of evidence. On The Five, Andrea Tantaros noted President Obama’s claim that he did not know that the intelligence agencies he controls were taping the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.2
Miss Tantaros asked the panel if they believed the claim that the President did not know; my point would be that it’s actually worse if I do believe it. If I don’t believe it, it makes the President of the United States a liar, which we already knew. If I do believe it, then the obvious questions have to be:
- Who authorized the tapping of the phone of the chief of state of one of our closest allies;
- Who decided that that kind of decision was below the Presidential level;
- Who decided that the President should not be informed of such a decision; and
- Just who the Hell is in charge here?
And it gets even worse. It’s bad enough that the President has urinated off a lot of our allies with the surveillance program,3 but then they pull this [insert slang term for feces here]; from The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Says France, Spain Aided NSA Spying
By Adam Entous and Siobhan Gorman | Oct. 29, 2013 12:55 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON—Widespread electronic spying that ignited a political firestorm in France and Spain recently was carried out by their own intelligence services and not by the National Security Agency, U.S. officials say.
The phone records collected by the Europeans—in war zones and other areas outside their borders—then were shared with the NSA, U.S. officials said, as part of efforts to help protect American and allied troops and civilians.
The new disclosure upends the version of events as reported in Europe in recent days, and puts a spotlight on the role of European intelligence services that work closely with the NSA, suggesting a greater level of European involvement in global surveillance.
The U.S. has so far been silent about the role of European partners in these collection efforts so as to protect relationships. These efforts are separate, however, from the U.S. spying programs that targeted dozens of foreign leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose phones were tapped for years by the NSA.
The NSA declined to comment, as did the Spanish foreign ministry and a spokesman for the French Embassy in Washington. A spokesman for Spain’s intelligence service said: “Spanish law impedes us from talking about our procedures, methods and relationships with other intelligence services.”
More at the link. It looks like our European allies need to get used to what the President’s domestic allies have had to worry about, getting thrown under the bus. It was damaging enough for the United States to have the surveillance program exposed, but at least the damage could have been limited to the United States. Now, someone has taken the decision to damage our allies as well.
It all could have been handled by the US telling our exposed allies, “Look, this has been bad, and we understand that you have to say some unpleasant things about us, but we’ll keep your involvement quiet and let all of this settle down in a few months.” Instead, someone decided that the best way to make us look less bad is to make some of our allies look bad. Someone needs to read Dale Carnegie, because someone in the Obama Administration has all of the interpersonal skills of Sheldon Cooper and all of the brainpower of Sheila Jackson-Lee.
Now, just what rocket scientist decided to put out that story? As important as this story is for our foreign policy, that decision had to come from the top, from President Obama. If it did not come from President Obama, then someone needs to be fired, and fired immediately, and it, once again, raises the question: just who the Hell is in charge here?
Sadly enough, as bad as it is that Barack Hussein Obama is supposed to be in charge, it appears to me that it’s even worse than that, that no one is in charge. President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper simply are not stupid enough to have decided to leak that story.
This story is even worse than the obvious lies that were told by the Obama Administration concerning the Obaminablecare fiasco; I am concerned that the health care story is so big that the more important one is going to be lost in the noise.
- Patterico’s Pontifications: If You Like Your Insurance, You Can Keep It. Period. Bald Faced Lie. and Valerie Jarrett’s Blatant Lie: ObamaCare Is Not Forcing People Out of Their Health Plans
- The Pirate’s Cove: President “You Can Keep Your Plan” Knew You Couldn’t Keep Your Plan
- Sister Toldjah: #Obamacare: the question every Democrat dreads. UPDATE: They knew you would lose your insurance and Highly critical NBC story on #Obamacare disappears, then mysteriously reappears
- Political Realities: Obama Lied About Obamacare
- Colossus of Rhodey: President I-Didn’t-Knowbama
- Le*gal In*sur*rec*tion: The Hoyer defense: A lie is just a truth that wasn’t precise enough
- American Power: Obama Knew Millions Would Lose Their Health Insurance
- Protein Wisdom: SHOCKER: “Obama administration knew millions could not keep their health insurance”
- The Lonely Conservative: NBC News: Obama Admin Knew Millions Would Lose Their Health Insurance
- The Other McCain: The Liar-in-Chief
- The Wall Street Journal: Senate to Review All U.S. Spying
- The Wall Street Journal: Spying Revelations Add Hurdle to U.S.-EU Trade Talks
- The Wall Street Journal: Germany Warns of Repercussions from U.S. Spying
- The Wall Street Journal: Obama Unaware as NSA Spied on World Leaders
- Patterico noted that the first paragraph of the quote was temporarily removed from the website. ↩
- In The Unbearable Lightness of Obama, The Wall Street Journal pointed out that the president didn’t know the NSA was spying on world leaders, but he’s found time for at least 146 rounds of golf. ↩
- Much of this was revealed due to the actions of Edward Snowden; he should be tracked down and killed. ↩
This explains President By-Stander. I Know Nothing
Or as Sgt. Schultz said:
Patterico noted, in an article entitled “I was all for Obamacare until I found out I was paying for it”:
PATTERICO MOUNTS SOAPBOX — GINGERLY, OF COURSE, AS HE IS IN FACT GETTING OLDER: This is one of the reasons I’d like to see withholding ended. I argued for this in January 2004 (wow, saying that makes me feel a little old, just like mounting this soapbox did):
You want the cure for big government?
No more withholding.
As it is, people don’t feel as though the money that is being withheld is really theirs. It’s like they never got it in the first place — because they didn’t.
Under my regime, it wouldn’t be that way.
Under my regime, every pay period you would personally set aside the amount of money you will need to save up for the eventual tax bill. Come April 15, you would take out your checkbook and write a huge check to the federal government — for thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dollars.
You think you might start thinking twice about what they’re doing with your money then?
Today, I would add one other suggestion: a requirement that the government send taxpayers an itemized bill showing the breakdown of what they owe and what the money is going for.
After all, generally we decide whether a good or service is “worth it” when we fork over the money. If the money comes pre-forked, and we’re never told how much we are paying for what, how can we make an informed decision about value? At that point, the government service feels like it’s free, even though, on an intellectual level, we know it isn’t. “I supported [insert name of government program or agency here] until I found out how much I was paying for it” would be a very common phrase — if we sent out itemized bills and did away with withholding.
The downside, of course, is that we would probably collect a lot less in taxes. The upside? The People would demand that we spend a lot less.
On balance, I think it would be better.
People are generally “all for” more government services until they find out they are paying for them.
More at the link.
Part of our problem is that we haven’t been paying for all of the government services we have: instead, we’ve been borrowing a rather large amount of money to pay for more government than we are willing to be taxed to support.
And, of course, there’s the problem that a lot of
Democrats people are willing to raise taxes on other people to fund more government services, but not raise taxes on themselves. Rather, they advocate raising taxes on the top producers in our economy and, of course, those wicked ol’ corporations, because those same Democrats people are too ignorant to realize that corporations pay no taxes at all; they simply pass along the taxes imposed on them to the end consumer of their products. In the end, individuals pay for everything.
It could be argued that Patterico’s proposal simply wouldn’t work; far too many people wouldn’t be able to save up enough to pay their taxes. But, given the way our government spending is completely out of control, I’d say that it’s difficult to argue that our current system of withholding works either.
Perhaps some form of system such as quarterly filing for everybody might help?
From The New York Times:
In Fed and Out, Many Now Think Inflation Helps
By Binyamin Appelbaum | Published October 26, 2013
WASHINGTON — Inflation is widely reviled as a kind of tax on modern life, but as Federal Reserve policy makers prepare to meet this week, there is growing concern inside and outside the Fed that inflation is not rising fast enough.
Some economists say more inflation is just what the American economy needs to escape from a half-decade of sluggish growth and high unemployment.
The Fed has worked for decades to suppress inflation, but economists, including Janet Yellen, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Fed starting next year, have long argued that a little inflation is particularly valuable when the economy is weak. Rising prices help companies increase profits; rising wages help borrowers repay debts. Inflation also encourages people and businesses to borrow money and spend it more quickly.
The school board in Anchorage, Alaska, for example, is counting on inflation to keep a lid on teachers’ wages. Retailers including Costco and Walmart are hoping for higher inflation to increase profits. The federal government expects inflation to ease the burden of its debts. Yet by one measure, inflation rose at an annual pace of 1.2 percent in August, just above the lowest pace on record.
“Weighed against the political, social and economic risks of continued slow growth after a once-in-a-century financial crisis, a sustained burst of moderate inflation is not something to worry about,” Kenneth S. Rogoff, a Harvard economist, wrote recently. “It should be embraced.”
More at the link.
Your Editor has said before that he is concerned that the federal government will try to inflate its way out of the debt. Since our national debt is denominated in dollars, and inflation does not change the numerical amount of dollars in existing contracts, inflation lowers the repayment costs of the debt, when considered in real terms.
Inflation has winners and losers. As the story noted, retailers look at inflation as a winner for them: inflation between the time of buying from wholesalers and manufacturers and the time of retail sales allows a greater price spread between costs and receipts. And there are other winners: it’s not just the national debt which is in the form of dollar denominated contracts. If you have an existing mortgage, inflation drops the cost of your mortgage payments, in real terms. Basically, everyone who owes someone else money comes out a winner, as long as his income increases along with inflation.
And that’s where we find the losers. If inflation decreases the real value of the national debt, while we don’t care about debt-holders in Beijing or Abu Dhabi, many of the holders of Treasury Bills are Americans, both privately and as institutions; the value of their investments also decreases in real terms. More, the value of anybody’s dollar-denominated investments, including savings accounts and the like, decreases in real terms. The real question comes with wages: will wages keep up with inflation?
David Wessel, economics editor of The Wall Street Journal, said on National Public Radio:
(RENEE) MONTAGNE: Give us the basics. Wages are supposed to grow, and historically they have done that faster than inflation. So what’s happening?
WESSEL: Well, you’re right. Since the end of World War II, wages generally have risen faster than inflation. That’s why we have more goods and services than our grandparents did. And as recently as the late ’90s – which were a pretty good time for the U.S. economy – that was happening. In the in past year, though, average hourly earnings have risen 1.9 percent. But consumer prices have risen 2 percent, which means when you adjust for inflation, wages haven’t gone up at all. There are broader government measures that factor in the cost of wages and benefits to employers, and they’ve gone up roughly the same amount. And it isn’t just one bad year. The typical man between ages 25 and 54 is making less today – adjusted for inflation – than a comparable man was in 2000. For women, the picture’s better. Their wages, on average, have gone up a bit.
MONTAGNE: But if the economy is getting better – even if slowly getting better – why aren’t wages rising faster?
WESSEL: Well, there are really two things going on here. One is the temporary. There’s a lot of unemployment. So employers don’t have to pay more, because people can’t go and get a better job somewhere else, and there’s a lot of workers available. In some industries, workers are shell-shocked. We went through this terrible recession. They’re just glad to have jobs. Now, there are pockets of worker shortages, particular skills and the like, and their wages are going up.
But then there’s this long-term forces that really preceded the Great Recession. Employers aren’t giving bigger raises, because they have to spend more on health care. Lots of things have happened that weakened workers’ bargaining power. Unions have a lot less clout now than they did 10 or 15 years ago, and many of them have agreed to contracts where new hires make less than existing workers. A newly hired autoworker, for instance, earns about $15 an hour. Veteran workers earn about $28 an hour.
And a lot of this has to do with globalization, what makes it possible for companies to move their work overseas, or use that threat to get workers to settle for lower wages. And it has to do with technology, which allows companies and other businesses to replace workers with machines or computers, and that also can put downward pressure on wages.
Now, to be clear, for some workers, wages have gone up. For people at the top, there’s a global market for talent, CEOs, rock stars, investment bankers, NPR hosts, their wages have managed to go up. But they really are the exceptions in our economy at the moment.
MONTAGNE: Of course, for most individual workers, this is not so great. But what about the larger economy?
WESSEL: Well, consumers are a big force in the American economy. And in the mid-2000s, a lot of them managed to borrow money – credit cards, home equity loans and the like – so their spending could go up faster than their wages did. But that’s over. That credit is harder to get now. So, to a very large extent, companies that sell to consumers – particularly to that large number of lower and middle-class families – their business is constrained by the fact that people don’t have as much money, a function of how many of them have jobs and what their wages are.
On the other hand, the combination of rising wages in China and the stagnant wages here is making the U.S. a more attractive place to produce from many companies. That’s one reason lower labor costs at U.S. auto companies are doing so well, selling so many cars, putting workers on three shifts and stuff like that. So there are some benefits for producing here. But if you depend on selling to consumers, you don’t have the money.
Oddly enough, I thought that every company depended on selling to consumers, at least in the long run.
If companies “have to spend more on health care” now, before the full effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are in place, imagine just what those price increases are going to be over the next couple of years. And even if wage increases did manage to match or slightly exceed inflation — something that isn’t happening now — there is normally a lag time between the price and wage increases.
The Times article also noted that there are dissenters from the notion that inflation would be good for us:
All this talk has prompted dismay among economists who see little benefit in inflation, and who warn that the Fed could lose control of prices as the economy recovers. As inflation accelerates, economists agree that any benefits can be quickly outstripped by the disruptive consequences of people rushing to spend money as soon as possible. Rising inflation also punishes people living on fixed incomes, and it discourages lending and long-term investments, imposing an enduring restraint on economic growth even if the inflation subsides.
“The spectacle of American central bankers trying to press the inflation rate higher in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis is virtually without precedent,” Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman, wrote in a new book, “The Map and the Territory.” He said the effort could end in double-digit inflation.
For the Federal Reserve to “lose control of prices as the economy recovers” is a statement which assumes that the Fed has that control now, something it absolutely does not. The Fed can set the Federal Funds Rate and the Discount Rate, which influence, but do not set other interest rates throughout the economy. If the Fed could control prices, OPEC could not have forced a tripling of gasoline prices in the 1970s; if the Fed could control prices, the oil price spike that accompanied the Syrian crisis of a couple months ago would not have happened.
The simple truth is that everyone controls the economy and no one controls the economy; the economy, and prices, are controlled by the billions of economic decisions, large and small, taken by hundreds of millions of individuals, every day. The government tries to push those decisions in certain directions, through tax policy, through spending choices, and through the actions of the Federal Reserve, but it doesn’t always achieve the goals the President and political leaders have in mind.
Your Editor can see where some would think that pushing inflation would be the best thing for our economy right now, because there would be some clear winners. But there would be some obvious losers as well, and, in the main, the losers would be concentrated among those who are already on the lower rungs of the economic ladder, and among the retired. In the long run, I would say that trying to push for inflation now would be a bad decision overall.
Check these numbers. The BLS numbers we hear is Chart U-3. The BLS numbers they don’t want us to see is U-6
Click on to see:
From Robert Stacey Stacy McCain:
Send Angels to Fort Bragg
Posted on | October 26, 2013 | 11 Comments
Well, I knew this day was coming, and now it begins.
Mr McCain’s son will be starting the two week Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) course. Here is The Discovery Channel’s program on Two Weeks in Hell. And even if you make it through the SFAS, there is no guarantee that you will be selected.
Long-time readers will recall that I wrote about my two daughters progress through Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Mr McCain admitted to being “racked with stress,” and that’s what you’d expect from any parent. Every soldier has a role to play in defending our country.
Previously on The Other McCain:
- May 17: He Gets His Wings Tonight!
- May 16: One More Jump …
- May 12: My Wife Is a Soldier’s Mom
- April 26: Army Plans to Cut Eight Brigades by 2017
- April 24: Terrorists Fear Him
- Feb. 28: Army Update: Good News, Bad News
- Feb. 9: HOOAH! Army Training Update
- Jan. 18: Free Leadership Training Program
- Jan. 9: A Soldier and Two Marines: Sworn to ‘Support and Defend the Constitution’