A driver was stuck in a traffic jam on the highway outside Washington , DC. Nothing was moving. Suddenly, a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down the window and asks, â€œWhatâ€™s going on?â€
â€œTerrorists have kidnapped Congress, and theyâ€™re asking for a $100 million dollar ransom. Otherwise, they are going to douse them all in gasoline and set them on fire. We are going from car to car, collecting donations.â€
â€œHow much are you willing to give?â€ the driver asks.
Mark Steyn measures the depths of America’s federal debt abyss.
In the weeks ahead, Democrats and Republicans will reach a triumphant â€œbipartisanâ€ deal to avert the fiscal cliff through some artful bookkeeping mechanism that postpones Taxmageddon for another year, or six months, or three, when they can reach yet another triumphant deal to postpone it yet again. Harry Reid has already announced that he wants to raise the debt ceiling â€” or, more accurately, lower the debt abyss â€” by $2.4 trillion before the end of the year, and no doubt we can look forward to a spectacular â€œbipartisanâ€ agreement on that, too. It took the government of the United States two centuries to rack up its first trillion dollars in debt. Now Washington piles on another trillion every nine months. Forward!
If you add up the total debt â€” state, local, the works â€” every man, woman, and child in this country owes 200 grand (which is rather more than the average Greek does). Every American family owes about three-quarters of a million bucks, or about the budget deficit of Liechtenstein, which has the highest GDP per capita in the world. Which means that HRH Prince Hans-Adam II can afford it rather more easily than Bud and Cindy at 27b Elm Street. In 2009, the Democrats became the first government in the history of the planet to establish annual trillion-dollar deficits as a permanent feature of life. Before the end of Obamaâ€™s second term, the federal debt alone will hit $20 trillion. That ought to have been the central fact of this election â€” that Americans are the brokest brokey-broke losers who ever lived, and itâ€™s time to do something about it.
When conservatives struggle against the left-wing impetus toward more socialism and more statism, we have a fundamental problem because the odds are stacked against us. We are ourselves funding, through our taxes, the very same operations and organizations which constitute the real base of the democrat party.
Just look in Craigslist for Employment advertising in the not-for-profit category. The numbers of them out there are staggering.
Dan Greenfield explains that we can win in the long run by reducing the size of our adversary, simply by defunding it.
Take a look at your tax bill. Take a look at your property taxes, especially. Much of the money you pay goes to fund the infrastructure of the left, its government bureaucracies and its non-governmental organizations, which still rake in fortunes in government grants. That infrastructure is wrapped up in a thousand divisions and causes, many of which sound benign, from health to civil rights, from education to diplomacy, from the environment to better government, all of which sound nice at a distance, but exist to embed and perpetuate the power relationships of the left.
The right does not need this kind of infrastructure. A system that is not out to control everyone’s behavior all the time, that is not looking to turn every tenth person into another warm body in its endless war against individual freedom, does not need this kind of manpower or indoctrination. Grandiosity, the sheer size of the left, makes it vulnerable. That size is built on a maze of groups, agendas, laws and guidelines in the name of a thousand causes, which intersect with one another to form the beast that we are up against.
The beast is big, but it’s vulnerable. It needs power and money to live. It gains that power by serving as an intermediary between people and the government, even when it is the government. The more intermediaries it adds on, to demand one thing or another, to organize the people, while demanding that the government listen to the people it has organized, while paradoxically taking grant money from the government to organize the people to demand that the government listen to them– the more power and money it gains.
The first and most popular attack on the beast is to take away its compulsory powers. It’s popular because Americans don’t like being compelled to do things. Decades of brainwashing have gotten people to repeat some, “It’s for our own good” talking points. But it’s still unpopular, and most people are not so far gone, that they won’t cheer when given a way to opt out.
What we know so far is this: All eleven Secret Service men and all ten U.S. military personnel staying at the Hotel Caribe are alleged to have had â€œescortsâ€ in their rooms that night. All of them. The entire team.
Twenty-one U.S. public servants. Twenty-one Colombian whores. Unless a couple of the senior guys splashed out for the two-girl special. â€œSome of them were saying they didnâ€™t know they were prostitutes,â€ explained Congressman Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
â€œSome are saying they were women at the bar.â€
Amazing to hear government agents channeling Dudley Moore in Arthur: â€œYouâ€™re a hooker? I thought I was doing so well.â€ It turns out U.S. Secret Service agents are the only men who can walk into a Colombian nightclub and not spot the professionals. Are they really the guys you want protecting the president?
Congress is not happy about this. â€œIt was totally wrong to take a foreign national back to a hotel when the president is about to arrive,â€ said Representative King.
Itâ€™s wrong to take a â€œforeign nationalâ€ up to the room, but it would have been okay if sheâ€™d been from Des Moines? Weâ€™re all in favor of outsourcing, but in compliance with Section 27(e)viii of the PATRIOT Act this is the one job Americans will do?
Ezra Klein offers the left’s intellectually bankrupt and futile response. Young Ezra has nothing to offer but emotionally manipulative appeals to sentimentality. The Obama budget must be supported, regardless of consequences or affordability because it spends lots of money on the poor. “The poor” are a species of Brahmanic sacred cattle whose interests trump reality.
It doesn’t matter if you bankrupt the country and strangle economic growth affecting everyone. If you fail to immolate the American economy on the altar of bleeding heart social consciousness, you are just mean!
Ezra is a member of the economic school that wants to raise taxes (and stifle economic activity) now. After all, as unidentified “experts” cited by the Associated Press announced today, no study accepted by the left proves that drilling (and thereby increasing petroleum supply) reduces gas prices.
If you are simply an irrational emotionalist, economics is whatever left-wing studies say it is, and the proper operation of any economy really consists of transfers of wealth from the more affluent to the less affluent members of society.
Mark Steyn takes at look at America’s situation at the beginning of the New Year, and concludes that the welfare state is self-destructing, but the establishment elites would rather save the planet than balance the national books.
At the end of 2011, America, like much of the rest of the Western world, has dug deeper into a cocoon of denial. Tens of millions of Americans remain unaware that this nation is broke â€” broker than any nation has ever been. A few days before Christmas, we sailed across the psychological Rubicon and joined the club of nations whose government debt now exceeds their total GDP. It barely raised a murmur â€” and those who took the trouble to address the issue noted complacently that our 100 percent debt-to-GDP ratio is a mere two-thirds of Greeceâ€™s. Thatâ€™s true, but at a certain point per capita comparisons are less relevant than the sheer hard dollar sums: Greece owes a few rinky-dink billions; America owes more money than anyone has ever owed anybody ever.
Public debt has increased by 67 percent over the last three years, and too many Americans refuse even to see it as a problem. For most of us, â€œ$16.4 trillionâ€ has no real meaning, any more than â€œ$17.9 trillionâ€ or â€œ$28.3 trillionâ€ or â€œ$147.8 bazillion.â€ It doesnâ€™t even have much meaning for the guys spending the dough: Look into the eyes of Barack Obama or Harry Reid or Barney Frank, and you realize that, even as theyâ€™re borrowing all this money, they have no serious intention of paying any of it back. Thatâ€™s to say, there is no politically plausible scenario under which the 16.4 trillion is reduced to 13.7 trillion, and then 7.9 trillion, and eventually 173 dollars and 48 cents. At the deepest levels within our governing structures, we are committed to living beyond our means on a scale no civilization has ever done.
Our most enlightened citizens think itâ€™s rather vulgar and boorish to obsess about debt. The urbane, educated, Western progressive would rather â€œsave the planet,â€ a cause which offers the grandiose narcissism that, say, reforming Medicare lacks. So, for example, a pipeline delivering Canadian energy from Alberta to Texas is blocked by the president on no grounds whatsoever except that the very thought of it is an aesthetic affront to the moneyed Sierra Club types who infest his fundraisers. The offending energy, of course, does not simply get mothballed in the Canadian attic: The Dominionâ€™s prime minister has already pointed out that theyâ€™ll sell it to the Chinese, whose Politburo lacks our exquisitely refined revulsion at economic dynamism, and indeed seems increasingly amused by it. Pace the ecopalyptics, the planet will be just fine: Would it kill you to try saving your country, or state, or municipality? …
What indeed? In September, the tenth anniversary of a murderous strike at the heart of Americaâ€™s most glittering city was commemorated at a building site: The Empire State Building was finished in 18 months during a depression, but in the 21st century the global superpower cannot put up two replacement skyscrapers within a decade. The 9/11 memorial museum was supposed to open on the eleventh anniversary, this coming September. On Thursday, Mayor Bloomberg announced that there is â€œno chance of it being open on time.â€ No big deal. Whatâ€™s one more endlessly delayed, inefficient, over-bureaucratized construction project in a sclerotic republic?
Barely had the 9/11 observances ended than Americaâ€™s gilded if somewhat long-in-the-tooth youth took to the streets of Lower Manhattan to launch â€œOccupy Wall Street.â€ The young certainly should be mad about something: After all, itâ€™s their future that got looted to bribe the present. As things stand, theyâ€™ll end their days in an impoverished, violent, disease-ridden swamp of dysfunction that would be all but unrecognizable to Americans of the midâ€“20th century â€” and, if thatâ€™s not reason to take to the streets, what is? Alas, our somnolent youth are also laboring under the misapprehension that advanced Western societies still have somebody to stick it to. The total combined wealth of the Forbes 400 richest Americans is $1.5 trillion. So, if you confiscated the lot, it would barely cover one Obama debt-ceiling increase. Nevertheless, Americaâ€™s student princesâ€™ main demand was that someone else should pick up the six-figure tab for their leisurely half-decade varsity of Social Justice studies. Lest sticking it to the Man by demanding the Man write them a large check sound insufficiently idealistic, they also wanted a trillion dollars for â€œecological restoration.â€ Hey, why not? What difference is another lousy trill gonna make?
Underneath the patchouli and pneumatic drumming, the starry-eyed young share the same cobwebbed parochial assumptions of permanence as their grandparents: Weâ€™re gayer, greener, and groovier, but other than that itâ€™s still 1950 and weâ€™ve got more money than anybody else on the planet, so why get hung up about a few trillion here and a few trillion there? In a mere half century, the richest nation on earth became the brokest nation in history, but the attitudes and assumptions of half the population and 90 percent of the ruling class remain unchanged.