An economy in trouble

March 20, 2008

8 years ago, under a Democrat president, the economy was booming and we were running a surplus on current year finances. 

The national debt today is $9 Trillion – a tenth of that has gone to to finance an unnecessary war badly fought.  We are right now in danger of bankrupting our military, since we have worn out our equipment and can’t pay to replace it.  The war has tripled the cost of oil, the lubricant of our economy.  Lack of regulation has let criminal mortgage brokers and greedy bankers create an economic sinkhole that almost ruined the value of the dollar this week. 

I got an email from a political compatriot who said he didn’t feel the war is the cause of our high taxes and prices. “I think it’s the waste in government, social out of control programs and stupid environmental programs that are not needed and totally wasteful. I’d like to see Congress give up two years of their salaries or more to fund their needless programs. We need the Fair or Flat tax to take their greedy hands out of our pockets.”

You couldn’t find competent legislators to serve for no pay (I’ve personally saved over a Billion dollars of federal expenses not made, but still look forward to my biweekly federal salary.)  There’s not much waste in government (as a proportion of the GDP) – it makes the news because it’s rare.

What programs should we stop?  Fuel economy standards?  (A return to 10mpg will drive the cost of fuel to $300 a barrel.)  Cut the SSI payments to teachers with 40 years of service who retired 10 years ago at $40k), who now live on $1000 a month? (When she died, the insurace share of prescription drugs of a woman I knew ate up her entire monthly SSI check.)

What we need is a national strategy (and a leader to implement it).  Come back, Mike Huckabee!

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A Bankrupt Nation

March 14, 2008

Today, the value of the dollar hit record lows in relation to European currencies, and a 19-year low against the Japanese Yen. What this will surely mean for you and me is more taxes, and the subtle “tax” of higher prices. Our current President has spent us nearly into bankruptcy by fighting the wrong war the wrong way.

How did we get here?

We had been flying air suppression for a decade, and needed to get Saddam out of power so we could leave and spend those resources on Afghanistan. Trouble is, the Army thought they were fighting WWII again, and came to “liberate” an oppressed Europe. But they forgot to honor the citizens, the resistance and the military that surrendered with dignity.

The US Army and our State Dept imposed a conqueror’s regime almost as bad as the one we deposed, and did nothing to improve the lives of the people we went in to protect. Ambassador Bremmer fired the Iraqi Army, shaming them by stripping them of honor and livelihood, sending them home in disgrace with a pittance of a pension. No wonder they took to the streets as militia! In reply, our President outsourced the war to lawless mercenaries who raised a stink in the world’s nose, and lost us most of the friends we used to have. These and all the support contractors are costing us Trillions (with a ‘T”).

Focusing on foreign wars meant Bush was not watching the domestic economy, and it has spiraled out of control. We are now at historic lows in the value of the dollar internationally even as gas prices have more than doubled during his term in office.

Congress used to rely on “pay as you go” (pay-go) to fund the government. If we tried that now, taxes would go back to levels last seen in the Carter years. But something will have to be done.  The next president will have to be innovative to keep our country a world leader.  I’m not sure we have that kind of choice right now.