I had planned to cover President Obama's press conference, seeing as how it was the first one the most transparent administration in history had granted in eight months. I figured Obama would say something of consequence, something new. Boy, was I wrong. This President has a knack for using lots of words to say next to nothing. In a nutshell, here were his answers to the most topical questions:
The Petraeus sex scandal ? "It's under investigation".
The Benghazi attack ? "It's under investigation".
The fiscal cliff ? "Raise taxes on the rich".
Thanks, Mr. President. You are a big help.
Instead of wasting more time dissecting Obama's politi-speak, I'd rather focus on Ron Paul's farewell speech. Rep. Paul is leaving Congress at the end of the year, and I find his observations to be very astute. Following are some quotes from Ron Paul:
"It was my opinion, that the course the U.S. embarked on in the latter part of the 20th Century would bring us a major financial crisis and engulf us in a foreign policy that would overextend us and undermine our national security.
To achieve the goals I sought, government would have had to shrink in size and scope, reduce spending, change the monetary system, and reject the unsustainable costs of policing the world and expanding the American Empire."
He hit that one out of the park. This is the same fear I have. I consider the mortgage crisis to be only a bellwether for far worse crises coming down the road. We are on an unsustainable fiscal path that will lead us to a more impoverished collective future. Even the weak recovery we have experienced over the last couple years is a mirage, driven only by massive debt. The fiscal cliff illustrates this point. Economists say big spending cuts and big tax hikes will crash the economy. Those cuts and taxes are called the fiscal cliff. To state it another way, our current debt-driven economic state is the only thing keeping us afloat. The problem is, trillion dollar deficits are also leading us down the economic drain. The piper for our fiscal irresponsibility will have to be paid. It's only a matter of when. It's like that old Fram oil filter commercial from the 1980's, "pay me now or pay me later". By opting to re-elect President Obama, our nation has chosen the "pay me later" approach. Now, we will most likely only address our fiscal irresponsibility after our economic engine has blown. That fix will be much more costly than addressing the problem now.
Even though he is a Republican in name, Ron Paul is the voice of neither major political party, which explains his next quote:
"In many ways, according to conventional wisdom, my off-and-on career in Congress, from 1976 to 2012, accomplished very little. No named legislation, no named federal buildings or highways—thank goodness. In spite of my efforts, the government has grown exponentially, taxes remain excessive, and the prolific increase of incomprehensible regulations continues. Wars are constant and pursued without Congressional declaration, deficits rise to the sky, poverty is rampant and dependency on the federal government is now worse than any time in our history."
What the Republicans and Democrats offer us is the choice between big government (Republicans) and bigger government (Democrats). That's why the federal government has grown by leaps and bounds regardless of which party controlled Congress and regardless of which party controlled the presidency. That's why government spending at all levels consumes over 41% of GDP. With such a heavy government spending burden, which is basically overhead, how can we expect to be a prosperous people ? This government burden drives up prices and drives down wages. It doesn't take anywhere near 41% of GDP to provide roads, schools, a safety net, and security. These are the proper functions of government, but we have let the government run wild. Government is a bloated and tangled bureaucratic mess. We're trying to maintain a massive welfare state and a massive military/foreign policy at the same time. It won't work. It can't work, not even in a country as prosperous as our own. If anyone is driving this country over the fiscal cliff, it's our own government. We make a huge mistake when we assume our prosperity is some kind of birthright. It is not.
Ron Paul describes our political parties:
"All this with minimal concerns for the deficits and unfunded liabilities that common sense tells us cannot go on much longer. A grand, but never mentioned, bipartisan agreement allows for the well-kept secret that keeps the spending going. One side doesn’t give up one penny on military spending, the other side doesn’t give up one penny on welfare spending, while both sides support the bailouts and subsidies for the banking and corporate elite. And the spending continues as the economy weakens and the downward spiral continues. As the government continues fiddling around, our liberties and our wealth burn in the flames of a foreign policy that makes us less safe.
The major stumbling block to real change in Washington is the total resistance to admitting that the country is broke. This has made compromising, just to agree to increase spending, inevitable since neither side has any intention of cutting spending."
Other than a small congressional contingent known as the Tea Party Caucus, Rep. Paul is correct. Neither party has any intention of cutting spending in a meaningful way. Even many Tea Party members don't want to cut miitary spending. It's harder to get elected to office if you don't act like Santa Claus handing out presents. We just witnessed that in the last election. Obama was Santa, and he painted Romney as the Grinch. Enough voters bought it to give Santa another term, even though Santa is actively bankrupting the country as he hands out his presents to an infantilized and dependent public. On Donder, On Blitzen, On to France and then Greece !!!
Ron Paul addresses those who disagree with him, those who support "progressive" government beyond what our Constitution authorizes:
"Some complain that my arguments makes no sense, since great wealth and the standard of living improved for many Americans over the last 100 years, even with these new policies.
But the damage to the market economy, and the currency, has been insidious and steady. It took a long time to consume our wealth, destroy the currency and undermine productivity and get our financial obligations to a point of no return. Confidence sometimes lasts longer than deserved. Most of our wealth today depends on debt.
The wealth that we enjoyed and seemed to be endless, allowed concern for the principle of a free society to be neglected. As long as most people believed the material abundance would last forever, worrying about protecting a competitive productive economy and individual liberty seemed unnecessary.
This neglect ushered in an age of redistribution of wealth by government kowtowing to any and all special interests, except for those who just wanted to left alone. That is why today money in politics far surpasses money currently going into research and development and productive entrepreneurial efforts."
I'm in agreement with Paul, but I look at things a bit more relatively. If the year was 1912 instead of 2012, I'd be a progressive myself. We weren't in massive debt with massive government spending and massive taxes then. Putting more money into the "collective" to improve conditions made more sense then. Unfortunately, this IS 2012. We are over $16 trillion in debt with trillion dollar deficits every Obama year. We have a mountain of unfunded entitlement liabilities looming on the horizon, and Democrats like Obama fiddle while Rome burns. I'd have to be suicidal to call myself a progressive now, because that is the primary force driving us off the cliff. The problem in this country is not that wealthy people are taxed at 35% instead of 39.6% (the Bush tax cuts for the rich). Only a crazy person could believe that, even if it did help Obama win a second term. GIve me a break already. The problem is that we can't fulfill all our government's spending promises without seriously undermining the wealth of all the American people. I can't understand why so many fail to recognize this obvious fact.
It seems much of America learned nothing from the Great Recession, because they just voted to continue the same kinds of policies that led to it, namely, DEBT. Here's Ron Paul again:
"The crisis arrived because the illusion that wealth and prosperity would last forever has ended. Since it was based on debt and a pretense that debt can be papered over by an out-of-control fiat monetary system, it was doomed to fail. We have ended up with a system that doesn’t produce enough even to finance the debt and no fundamental understanding of why a free society is crucial to reversing these trends.
If this is not recognized, the recovery will linger for a long time. Bigger government, more spending, more debt, more poverty for the middle class, and a more intense scramble by the elite special interests will continue.
Without an intellectual awakening, the turning point will be driven by economic law. A dollar crisis will bring the current out-of-control system to its knees.
If it’s not accepted that big government, fiat money, ignoring liberty, central economic planning, welfarism, and warfarism caused our crisis we can expect a continuous and dangerous march toward corporatism and even fascism with even more loss of our liberties. Prosperity for a large middle class though will become an abstract dream."
I know this message is lost on a lot of people. I know I'm in the minority when I agree with Ron Paul's libertarian beliefs. That's nothing new to me. Libertarians have always been a minority. This country has gone a long way down the big government bunny hole, and I expect only a severe trauma will shake us awake now. I wish I could assure you that trauma and pain weren't coming, but I see no way to avoid them now. It's the fate we have chosen. Back to Ron Paul:
"If the underlying cause of the crisis is not understood we cannot solve our problems. The issues of warfare, welfare, deficits, inflationism, corporatism, bailouts and authoritarianism cannot be ignored. By only expanding these policies we cannot expect good results."
It's like that old definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. That's where our country is at now, sadly. When the mortgage debt crisis hit the fan, what did the government do ? It started accumulating debt like never before.
Good luck, America. You'll need it. Don't say you weren't warned.
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