Sunday, November 20, 2011

Quick Hits - November 20, 2011

Today, we look at Government....

Europe is our canary in the coal mine.  What is happening in Europe is going to be happening here in the US, far sooner than most are willing to admit, because both the EU, it's members, and the United States governments (at all levels) are making the same fundamental mistakes.  As Lady Margaret Thatcher observed regarding socialism, sooner or later 'you run out of other people's money'.

Richard Fernandez, a PJ Media blogger, takes a hard look at the stupidity and misplaced priorities of Government bureaucrats - and elements of the media which work so hard and intellectually dishonestly to obfuscate the levels of stupidity being displayed by those bureaucrats.
After an exhaustive three year study involving 21 experts, an agency of the European Union determined that drink manufacturers should be banned from claiming that water can prevent dehydration. “Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month.” Critics said the decision was a perfect example of bureaucratic waste.
This isn't a joke.  The EU has determined that drink manufacturers have to be banned from claiming that water can prevent dehydration in order to protect the consumers of the products these companies manufacture.  It only took 3 years, 21 experts - and they "disproved" something that mankind has known since mankind became mankind.  Is this really the role of government and governance?

Governments waste money.  They waste money because they really fail to understand the impact and the source of money.  They have contempt for the voters - until they need the votes - so they also have contempt for the taxpayer.  Far too many think government is entitled to the funds of the taxpayer - and that they, the elite, can decide far better how to allocate and use that wealth better than the individuals can decide how to use it.   They don't think the individual will be compassionate enough - that the individual will only think of themselves first.  If that is the case, then why do conservatives who believe in limited government give far more to private charities than liberals? 

Forbes Magazine has an interesting story of what America looked, acted like before the establishment of it's entitlement state...

“Those in need,” historian Walter Trattner writes, “. . . looked first to family, kin, and neighbors for aid, including the landlord, who sometimes deferred the rent; the local butcher or grocer, who frequently carried them for a while by allowing bills to go unpaid; and the local saloonkeeper, who often came to their aid by providing loans and outright gifts, including free meals and, on occasion, temporary jobs. Next, the needy sought assistance from various agencies in the community–those of their own devising, such as churches or religious groups, social and fraternal associations, mutual aid societies, local ethnic groups, and trade unions.”

One of the most fascinating phenomena to arise during this time were mutual aid societies–organizations that let people insure against the very risks that entitlement programs would later claim to address. These societies were not charities, but private associations of individuals. Those who chose to join would voluntarily pay membership dues in return for a defined schedule of benefits, which, depending on the society, could include life insurance, permanent disability, sickness and accident, old-age, or funeral benefits.
When in need or in crisis, individuals did not immediately seek the government for assistance to resolve those challenges.  Instead, they looked to family, neighbors, and private charities - being willing to do what was needed to address and move beyond the crisis that they faced.  They remained responsible to do what they could and accountable to themselves, their families, and those who assisted them.  They did not #Occupy parks, riot, defecate or urinate in businesses, and expect something for nothing because they believe they are 'owed' it.

Why can't we revert to this and ultimately break the cycle of dependency that government creates?  Why can't we the people limit and withhold money from the Government until it proves that it can spend it wisely?  Many of us do this with our children....

The UK's Telegraph declares that a 2% growth in spending is a victory for austerity when the government requested a 5% increase of spending.  Wouldn't a true victory for austerity be when spending is reduced by 2%? 

Hot Air has a great post, and accompanying video, that highlight the five main lessons that we need to take from the European Union crisis - and apply here before we are irreversibly committed to go down that path...
  1. Higher taxes lead to higher spending, not lower deficits.
  2. A value added tax would be a disaster.
  3. A welfare state cripples the human spirit.
  4. Nations reach a point of no return when the number of people mooching off the government exceeds the number of people producing.
  5. Bailouts don't work.

The Sunday morning news programs are breathlessly reporting the Tuesday deadline for the 'Supercommittee' to agree to $1.2 trillion of spending cuts over the next decade (out of about $40 trillion in spending in that same time frame) in order to 'solve the deficit crisis'.  The ideological impasse remains - Democrats insist on tax increases to drive new revenues into the government (See above #1), while the Republicans are insisting on deeper spending cuts because they say we have a spending problem.

We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.  As noted here, 'It took 40 Presidents and nearly two centuries, from George Washington to Ronald Reagan, for the US Government to accumulate $1.5 trillion in indebtedness.  The 44th President - aided and abetted by Congress - enlarges the federal debt by that amount every 12 months.'

Here is California, the same government stupidity and dogma exists with not only our progressive elected officials, but the other self appointed 'elite' who know better.  The LA Times is reporting that a coalition of billionaires and progressive political insiders are working to put a $10 billion tax increase on the 2012 ballot for approval by state voters.  As reported on these pages before, California is in the midst of a major fiscal crisis - running $20 billion deficits out at least for the next 5 or 6 years because of the State's own spending problem.  When faced with the need to implement cuts, the progressives who lead this state do not look towards their excessive regulations, the hundreds of duplicate, dysfunctional, and unneeded state committees, oversight boards, regulatory boards, agencies, and departments.  Or even the fact that the tax programs they promote send these tax revenues out of the state.  They don't look to break the cycle of hiring more members of the public sector unions, approving unsustainable and unaffordable pension and benefit programs for the members of public sector unions, in return for massive political contributions from the flush union treasuries.

The marketing of the need for higher taxes will be that we need more funds to protect the jobs of the first responders and the teachers in the classroom.  The progressives in government know how to extort the electorate - and direct any cuts not to the fat, but to those who are in the classroom or are first responders.  But as Europe shows us, and past practices by the California government, higher taxes do not result in lower deficits, but still more higher spending.  As noted yesterday, because CA can tax more, it's a 'wealthy state'.  I disagree.  It's far closer to a failed state.

Moving away from government, to taking a look at the World View for 20 November, 2011, one of the areas of focus is on the Islamist demonstrations in Egypt demanding that the Egyptian military cede their power far earlier than the announced 2013.  The Administration supports this, but since this is being demanded by the Muslim Brotherhood, we need to be careful what we ask for.  The 'cure' could be far worse than the 'disease'.

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