From time to time I mention the two party paradigm; the supposed differences between the Republican & Democratic Parties. Sure, those running for office under both parties may have different views on certain issues; issues that are usually the hot topic items which are of concern to a majority of the voters during any election cycle. But are they truly that much different in regards to how well they adhere to the limits imposed upon government by the Constitution, or are they very similar in that regards? It does not seem to matter to people in this country that both parties are guilty of violating the limits the Constitution imposes upon government. The only thing that matters is that those limits be violated in support of issues, or agendas held by those of the two political parties.
All this aside, there is one area in which both political parties share some common ground; they both like to spend money they don’t have. Our government does not produce anything which can then be sold to fund its operation; therefore any funds they spend must come in via some form of taxation. When the government spends more than it takes in from taxes it is known as a budget deficit. As I sit here typing this, our government’s current budget deficit sits at around $591 billion.
When a government runs on a budget deficit it has but two options to choose from; it can either cut back on the services it provides until it reaches a level where the money it spends matches the amount it takes in via taxes, or it can borrow money to continue spending at its current levels. If it chooses to borrow money, the amount borrowed is known as the National Debt. As I sit here typing, our National Debt stands at roughly $19.9 trillion.
Are you familiar with the Gross Domestic Product, or GDP? The GDP of a country is defined as: the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one calendar year. Last year the Gross Domestic Product of the United States was roughly $18 trillion. What this means is that the United States government has accumulated more debt than the value of all goods and services produced in the United States for one year.
Many of our Founders opposed the idea of accumulating too much national debt. Robert Yates, who left the Constitutional Convention early due to its overstepping its just authority to amend the Articles of Confederation, wrote a series of articles under the pseudonym of Brutus in opposition to the Constitution. In one of these articles Yates stated, “I can scarcely contemplate a greater calamity that could befall this country, than to be loaded with a debt exceeding their ability ever to discharge.”
Writing from Monticello on July 12, 1816, Thomas Jefferson said, “I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers.” Also, in a letter to H. Thompkinson, Jefferson states, “I am not among those who fear the people. They and not the rich are our dependence for continued freedom, and to preserve their independence we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.”
In his Farewell Address to the nation, George Washington wrote, “As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible…” Sparingly…I don’t think that word is even in the vocabulary of those who hold the seats of power in government. Through bloated budgets, pork projects to keep their constituents happy, the funding of programs the government was never meant to establish, and an almost constant state of war, our government has dug us into a black hole of debt that we will, most likely, never climb out of.
The creation of debt, or the use of credit by our government was never intended to be a way of life; rather a tool to be used in times of national emergency when the funds taken into the Treasury were not sufficient to cover unexpected situations like war.
You think that when you fill out your 1040’s and send them in to the IRS that the part they keep is paying for all these programs that the government operates. WRONG!!! When Reagan was president he set up a commission to find ways to cut waste and inefficiency in government. This Grace Commission issued its report to President Reagan in 1983; with one of their findings being, “100% of what is collected is absorbed solely by interest on the Federal Debt … all individual income tax revenues are gone before one nickel is spent on the services taxpayers expect from government.”
Your taxes, my taxes, only go towards paying the interest on our national debt; not the principal, not the actual programs the government established which required them to borrow money in the first place…JUST THE INTEREST!
Let that sink in for a minute.
For a long time our government understood that debt was to be used sparingly and that it should be paid off in a timely manner so as not to burden future generations with the debt past generations had incurred.
For the first two years of George Washington’s administration the federal, or as it’s now called, Public Debt, was minimal; only the costs assumed by the government from the States in fighting the American Revolution. In his 3rd year as president the debt had reached $75.4 million; a tidy sum in those days.
The debt remained small, (although small is a relative number I suppose) for years, until in 1835 something amazing happened. In 1835 the national debt was only a mere $33,733; roughly the income of an average single adult today. What happened? Andrew Jackson happened. Andrew Jackson successfully fought the central bankers who had a stranglehold on our government via their control of our currency. Once this stranglehold was broken, Jackson was able to pay down our debt to almost nil. It was the first, and only time in our nation’s history that our debt was paid off to such an extent.
Of course that did not last long and by the time Honest Abe was sworn in as president our debt was up to $90.5 million. With the initiation of hostilities by Honest Abe against the South the debt skyrocketed by an astronomical 478% to $524 million; and by Lincoln’s third year in office the debt had reached $1 billion for the first time.
Then in 1913 something that defies the possibility of coincidence happened; Congress passes, (questionably I might add) the Federal Reserve Act; which was then signed into law by President Wilson, and the States, (questionably again I might add) ratify the 16th Amendment; giving them the authority to tax the income of every man, woman and child in America.
By President Wilson’s last year in office the national debt had hit $25 billion. Ironically, it was during the presidency of Ronald Reagan that our debt hit the trillion dollar mark for the first time. By the time Bill Clinton had served his 8 yrs as president the debt was $5 trillion. Then along came George W. Bush who doubled that to $10 trillion. Finally, in the 8 yrs of Obama’s time as president he added another $9 trillion; totaling the $19.9 trillion we owe today.
Where does all that money go? First of all you have to understand that the federal budget is split into two categories; mandatory spending and discretionary spending. Mandatory spending is money which is spent on programs that have already been enacted during past administrations. Yet this category alone can be confusing. You see, even though past administrations may have enacted a law which requires government to pay for the programs it created, the money is not always there to fund them.
This brings us to a sub-category of mandatory funding known as unfunded liabilities; things which the government is obligated to pay, though they have yet to be funded. These are things such as Social Security and Medicare; programs the government has enacted, and is required to fund, even though the money to fund them has not yet come into the Treasury.
As I have explained, our National Debt now stands at $19.9 trillion. The unfunded liabilities our government is obligated to pay out is almost ten times that much; standing at just over $105 trillion. Seeing as how our government has been running on a deficit for years, it is highly unlikely that tax revenue alone will be sufficient to pay for all these obligations our government has. So what this means is that, as the old saying goes, they will continue to borrow from Peter to pay Paul; building up more debt for future generations to deal with, or until the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.
Then there is discretionary spending. This is spending that is part of an appropriations bill for the day to day expenses incurred by government. Discretionary spending covers areas like the annual budget for the military, the salaries of those working for government, transportation, education, et cetera et cetera.
Out of the 2017 fiscal year budget, mandatory spending comprises roughly 65% of it, with discretionary spending coming in second at 29% and another 6% spent on interest to the National Debt.
I hope I haven’t confused you too much; because it gets more complicated from there.
As I have explained, mandatory spending is money spent on things the government is obligated to pay out; such as Social Security. Did you know that 87% of the mandatory spending goes towards only two programs; Social Security and Medicare and other health programs? Social Security alone consumes 49% of the mandatory spending portion of the federal budget, with Medicare and other health related programs taking up 38%. The remainder is split between Food and Agriculture spending, Veterans Benefits, Transportation, and a few others.
Now if we take a look at the other side of the budget, discretionary spending, we see that only 6% of the discretionary spending goes towards the salaries of those in government itself. Wanna know where the majority of that money goes? Well 54% or $598 billion goes towards funding our military.
So if you take all that into consideration, Social Security, Medicare, and military funding account for 70% of the total federal budget.
Are you aware that for the 240 years of our nation’s existence it has only seen 18 years in which it has not been involved in any kind of war or conflict? That means that only 7.5% of the time our nation has been at peace with the rest of the world.
In today’s climate it is often considered extremely unpatriotic to question our countries involvement in wars of aggression to fight terrorism. Yet were you to go back to the writings of the men who fought for our nation’s independence, or established its system of government, you would find that they often spoke out AGAINST the excessive use of the military, or a constant state of war.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “Having seen the people of all other nations bowed down to the earth under the wars and prodigalities of their rulers, I have cherished their opposites, peace, economy, and riddance of public debt, believing that these were the high road to public as well as private prosperity and happiness.”
Can you tell me the last time the U.S. has been involved in a conflict when Congress has actually declared a state of war against another country? The last time that happened was nearly 75 years ago in 1941 when Congress declared war against Japan. Peace was declared in 1945, yet how many wars, or conflicts, has the U.S. been involved in since then? Why hasn’t there been a declaration of war from Congress to justify these conflicts?
The Constitution is clear on the demarcation between the power of Congress to declare war and the power of the Executive to conduct it once a state of war has been declared. In a letter written in 1793, former President George Washington stated, “The Constitution vests the power of declaring War with Congress, therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject, and authorised such a measure.”
Our Founders based much of their understanding of systems of government, and the powers they should hold as compared to the rights of the individual from Locke’s Second Treatise on Civil Governments. In Section 141 of Locke’s book we read, “Fourthly, The legislative cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands: for it being but a delegated power from the people, they who have it cannot pass it over to others.” This is a legal maxim which states, “Delegata potestas non potest delegari” or “no delegated powers can be further delegated.”
Therefore, in drafting the Constitution, the Founders delegated the power of declaring war with Congress; not the President. In explaining their reasoning for doing so, James Madison told the Virginia Ratifying Assembly, “War should only be declared by the authority of the people, whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens, instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.”
Besides killing people in astronomical numbers, what is the one thing war does? War makes people rich; that’s what it does. War makes the makers of bullets, bombs, tanks, planes, and all the other assorted implements of war filthy rich. War makes those who go in after it is over to rebuild the countries we’ve bombed into the Stone Ages rich. War makes the bankers who loan the money to government to finance these wars rich.
I have nothing against raising an army to defend our country against invasion or attack. I am, however, opposed to sending that army into other countries to fight just because they may pose us a threat in the future, because we disagree with their internal politics, or to safeguard the interests of US businesses.
While serving as Secretary of State, prior to his being elected as our 6th President, John Quincy Adams delivered a speech to the House of Representatives which outlined U.S. foreign policy. In his speech Adams declared, “America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, equal justice, and equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the inde-pendence of other nations, while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when the conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama, the European World, will be contests between inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will recommend the general cause, by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself, beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force.”
How many of you, after reading that, can say that our current foreign policy matches that of our government 200 years ago?
Has it never crossed your minds that many of these so-called enemies we fight may be creations of our meddling into the internal affairs of another sovereign nation, or region? How many problems have we created for ourselves? Osama bin Laden might never have been the threat he was had we not funded him and his holy warriors in their fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein may not have been the thorn in our side he was had we not funded and equipped him in his war against Iran. Iran may not have been the problem it is for us today had we not funded and orchestrated a coup in 1953 to oust their democratically elected leader.
See where I’m going with all this?
And I haven’t even discussed the times the U.S. military has been used at the behest of the UN in some sort of peacekeeping mission, or because the UN Security Council issued some resolution which required military force to enforce.
I can’t remember who said it, or where I even saw it, but I once saw a slogan that read, “War is profitable, and business is booming.” That pretty much sums up the state our country has been in, especially since 9/11.
Upon the election of John F. Kennedy, President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered an address to the people of America warning of undue influence by the military industrial complex. I would like to share a few select passages from Eisenhower’s address with you.
In Section IV of his address Eisenhower states, “A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.” Ever since the advance of nuclear weapons, and other weapons of mass destruction, the need for a well trained and well equipped military is undeniable.
Eisenhower then goes on to say, “Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.”
However, Eisenhower then warns, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
There is a saying that I hear frequently; especially in movies about cops trying to find and arrest bad guys; “Follow the money.” When talking about war, who gets rich and who shoulders the burden of making people rich? As I have explained, bankers, bomb-makers and the military industrial complex in general get rich; while the average American is saddled with the responsibility of paying off the costs of these military operations; just as Madison said in 1788, “War should only be declared by the authority of the people, whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens, instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.”
In his book War is a Racket, retired Marine Corps Major General writes, “The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits — ah! that is another matter — twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent — the sky is the limit. All that traffic will bear. Uncle Sam has the money. Let’s get it.”
Butler is also quoted as saying, “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”
Is that what our military has become; strong arm enforcers for business interests? Is that what we send our young men and women off to fight and die for? How many Americans have the courage to come out from behind their banner of patriotism and take a long hard look at the why as to why we are fighting all these wars? How many have the courage to stand up and question all the power being given, not only the military industrial complex, but the whole arena of national security?
How many rights have we lost since this war on terror started; and people are okay with that because if you’re not with the US you’re with the terrorists? On June 29, 1787 James Madison stated, “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst.foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.”
In a 1798 letter to Thomas Jefferson, Madison also stated, “Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions agst. danger real or pretended from abroad.”
I know I have focused a lot on war and the expenses of it. Yet I’ve barely scratched the surface if you also take into consideration how much money the U.S. spends of both military and foreign aid, and how much we spend on military contractors who go over to these war torn countries to rebuild the damage all this fighting has caused. Not to mention the refugees who flee these war torn lands, and who we are expected to allow to come into our country; often harboring deep seated hatred for our interference in the internal affairs of their homeland.
The whole point I am trying to get at is that our country is going broke spending money like there is no tomorrow. People continue to expect more and more from their government when there isn’t enough money coming into government to fund the things it does now. Add to that a constant state of war, which is making some people insanely rich, and we’ll never see daylight from the black hole of debt our government is digging us into. Not to mention the fact that we are losing our freedoms right and left; and for what; so that some guy who sits behind a desk counting numbers can add a plus mark to some spreadsheet and the stock prices and profits of companies like Lockheed can go up?
But that’s okay, Trump is going to fix all this and make America great again. And if he isn’t, I’m sure the Democrats will elect someone in 2020 who will. And if you believe that I have some land on Mars I’d be willing to sell you.