Where Does the Money Go????

There has been a lot of talk lately about deficits and such. It “seems” some of our politicians have finally gotten the message but this is not the first time so I am more than a little skeptical.   But they still are living in a different world than the rest of us as they don’t seem to have a clue as to what causes this problem. They want to blame it on everyone except the elephant in the room. That elephant is shown on the graph to the right. This is the discretionary budget for 2011. You have to scroll down pretty far to see all of it but I think it is worth the effort.

Let’s say we eliminate the following departments entirely:

  • Commerce (they keep business from gouging us)
  • EPA (they make sure our air is breathable)
  • Interior (they manage our national parks and such)
  • Treasury (they keep our money flowing)
  • Energy (they keep the oil companies at bay)
  • NASA (they help manage our many satellites)
  • Agriculture (they help our farmers)
  • Justice ( they help us enforce our laws)

If we eliminate all these departments entirely we could cut our spending by 11%. That is a pretty substantial amount but eliminating those agencies would be pretty serious for our day to day living. But wait, there is another way to do the same thing and that would be to cut the military budget by15%. The military would probably have to order one less aircraft carrier, a few less million dollar bombs, and maybe even cut the Pentagon staff by a few percentage points.

Which would be better for it’s citizens?  I don’t know of anyone who claims to have an IQ above 60 who would have to think much about this. But it seems that our politicians just can’t seem to understand!  They say it is impossible to take even 1% from our military as then we would be putting our sons and daughters at risk.  All the rest of the countries in the world manage their defense with a small iota of what we do and their sons and daughters are safer than ours. Of course the reason for that is that they don’t put them in harms way in the first place.

Do we really need to spend hundreds of times more for our military than almost any other country on the earth? Do we really need to be the “enforcer of democracy” around the world or can that happen within the population actually seeking democratic freedoms?  Do we really need to be the policemen of the world? How about we change and become a peacemaker superpower instead? I bet we could do that and eliminate our deficits at the same time.

If all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.

If all you have is a military on steroids then everything looks like a conflict we need to be involved in.

But what to I know….

Thanks to my Quaker friends at One Minute for Peace for providing me with the graph to the right. See them at:

www.afsc.org

www.oneminuteforpeace.org

Thanks God….

While I was doing my usual volunteer thing at the local soup kitchen a few weeks ago I mentioned something to the folks there. Well it seems that my story is making the rounds there now so I thought I would talk a little about it here.

Now that I am in my senior years my morning prayers seem to be more frequent and more focused. I think my warranty expired when I turned sixty as now almost every part of my body seems to be going haywire!  I have had more tests in the last four years than I have in the previous sixty. Enough for the background info here so let’s move on to the main story.

So now every morning when I get up I take an inventory of all my body parts to see which one hurts the least. I then thank God for not having pain in that part of my body.  Let me set the record straight here. I don’t blame God for any of my pains; most of them are a result of a lifetime of self abuse.  Yeah I know I am a “glass half full” person. Being the alternative and focusing on the hurting parts just doesn’t make much sense to me. I, like all of us, have my good days and my not so good days but I thank God for all of them. It sure beats the alternative.

If you want to borrow my prayer technique go ahead.  I don’t think God would mind the duplication and I don’t either. So, this morning I thanked God for my left elbow. It has not given me any pain all day long. 🙂

And the journey goes on…..

Ohhh, the pain and suffering!!!

Rep. Kucinich Sues Over Olive Pit In Sandwich

ANDREW MIGA, Associated Press

January 26, 2011

WASHINGTON — Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio is suing a congressional cafeteria for dental damage he says he suffered after biting into an olive pit in a sandwich wrap he bought there.

Kucinich’s attorney, Andrew Young, declined to comment Wednesday on the lawsuit seeking $150,000 in damages from companies involved with the Longworth House Office Building cafeteria. A spokesman in Kucinich’s congressional office also declined to comment.

The civil suit filed earlier this month in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia said the wrap “contained dangerous substances, namely an olive pit,”

I don’t want this blog to be known as only picking on Republicans. There is certainly enough tom foolery going around in all the other political organizations that warrant some study not to mention all the other groups who need picked on from time to time.  I want to become known as an all around “picker” not a specialized one. In that vein the story above seems to be racing through the internet world so I thought I would poke some fun at it too.  In case you don’t know Mr. Kucinich is considered a “liberal” by most folks who call themselves Republicans and a Democrat to everyone else. In fact he ran for president in the Democratic primaries the last time. Didn’t get very far but he did run….

Now I don’t want to make biting down on an olive pit seem trivial. I know I have bitten down on my share of such things. There have been olive pits, pieces of peach pits, stones in bean soup, and of course un-popped corn. It is not pleasant but I don’t think it kept me up weeks and weeks fretting over the event.  But that must be the case here. I guess Mr. Kucinich’s life must have been turned upside down by this event.  Why else would he seek $150,000! Why else would he wait more than two years to file for his pain and anguish. It would have been much more effective if he had filed right after and then blamed Mr. Bush for it! After all everyone was blaming Mr. Bush for everything else back then (not that he didn’t deserve it).

I don’t know for sure as I really as I don’t really know Mr. Kucinich that well but I will go out on a limb here and guess that he is a lawyer?  Lets give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he really needs to money. Maybe his wife recently informed him that she wants a new olympic size swimming pool in the backyard. I guess there could be hundreds of reasons to wait two years but it does sound a little suspect to me.

But what do I know….

Source:

http://www.theindychannel.com/politics/26625950/detail.html

Republican and Their War Machines…

Capture6

WASHINGTON — To hear the Republican leadership tell it, the once-sacred Pentagon budget, protected by the party for generations, is suddenly on the table. But a closer look shows that even as Speaker John A. Boehner and Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, insist on the need for military cuts, divisions have opened among Republicans about whether, and how much, to chop Pentagon spending that comes to more than a half trillion dollars a year……..

The discordant Republican voices on military spending have bred confusion on Capitol Hill, among military contractors and within the military itself, where no one is exactly sure what the members backed by the Tea Party will do. It also shows why taking on the military budget will be so hard, even though a widening deficit has led the president and the leaders of both parties to say this time they are serious.

(Excerpts from the article- click the link below to see the entire story)

Ok, here is one for the books. While Republican have always been eager to cut money from old and/or poor people they almost never want to cut any money from our war  machine. They think every million dollar bomb we have is absolutely necessary.  So to say “Republicans are split” is in itself quite a statement. I don’t think much of the Tea Party but they do have a good side. Anyone that is willing to tackle the military establishment is pretty brave in my books. To even call the military budget a “defense” budget is a joke. The rest of the world “defends” themselves on many times less per person than we do and they all seem to be getting along fine.

I don’t know why all those yahoos in the press can’t get the message to the American people about how the U.S. spends  twenty times more per citizen on it’s war machine than any other country in the world and more than one hundred times more than most! Why don’t more people know that? Much of the rest of the world thinks that Americans are just cowboys itching to get into another fight. Given what we spend for our “fancy six shooters” that might not be too far from the truth.

So, this latest split in the Republicans has the military contractors confused. Maybe that in itself is a very good thing. They won’t know who to give their generous donations to (ha). Lord forbid they give it to someone who might be cutting into their profits!! Until congress tackles the elephant in the room of fiscal responsibility their efforts will never be considered serious. We could cut our military budget in half and almost no one outside our military contractors would even know it 🙂

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/27/us/politics/27pentagon.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss&src=ig

China, Can I make a suggestion??

With China presently holding more than $1 trillion of our debt the above cartoon is probably more reality than any of us would like to believe. Someday they may just call in all our IOUs.  I read an article recently about how the Chinese are now convinced that they have the purest form of capitalism and have very little to learn from the U.S. anymore.

This is kind of like a chicken/egg type thing but it is no wonder our government is drowning it debt. I read someplace where the average citizen now has over $5,000 in credit card debt!  That doesn’t include the trillions and trillions of mortgage debt that almost everyone has.  Talk about living beyond your means! At least our government borrows at a much lower interest rate 🙂

Someday we may come to our senses. Someday…

Source: http://mediagallery.usatoday.com/Editorial-Cartoons/G373

Grand Canyon–December 2005

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I think this is my favorite shot of all the pictures we took on the Grand Canyon. We couldn’t get to the North Rim as it was snowed in the week we were there. Planning another trip back maybe this year or next.

Your Brain Holes Are For Listening….

Some people seem to think that those two holes on the sides of your head are for relieving pressure from your brain when you have to think too much.  Kind of like that weight  thingie we put on the top of a press cooker. I will hereby tell you they have another use. They are for listening. Listening includes hearing things that you don’t already know or maybe hearing a different explanation for things you think you already know.  Many of us seem to get something in our head about a subject and then batten down the hatches on our brain holes.  That seems to be particularly true of our politicians the last decade or so.  I think someone epoxied all the politician’s brain holes as soon as they arrive in Washington. We need a good ENT guy to check that out!

Some seniors I have come across seem to think that when you reach a certain age you are not able to learn anything more so they effectively fill their brain holes with cement.  Let me tell you that the condition for all of the above has a name.  All us seniors love knowing the technical names of all our infirmities; this condition is called “Lazy Minds”.  Let’s call it LM for short.  All the best conditons are known by their initials. 🙂

Lazy minds allow us to think that we have all the answers to everything and there is nothing worth hearing anymore. That was kind of like that guy from the U.S. patent office who wanted to close it down in the early 1900s as everything had already been invented! But I must say that LM is not a condition limited to politicians and senior citizens. It afflicts almost all of us. Particularly all of us in the United States.  We don’t seem to think we can learn anything for anyone else so we close up our brain holes to anyone who doesn’t speak our form of English (if you can even call it English anymore).

Jonas Sulk invented a vaccine for polio about fifty years ago and he became very famous for it.  Can you imagine if someone came up with a vaccine for LM how famous they would be?  Not only famous but also very very rich.  I wonder if any of the pharmaceutical companies are doing research to cure LM? Maybe we should tackle that as a national priority after we have the cure for cancer.

And the journey goes on….

If we are a nation devoted to peace, why are so many of our resources devoted to war and militarism?

We spend 40 time more per citizen on our military than any other nation and hundreds of times more than most other nations.  How can we say we are devoted to peace with this gross disparity?? Something just doesn’t seem right here? Where are all the peacemakers?

Title quote from American Friends Service Committee

www.afsc.org


Do you need a little more help President Obama??

Dear Mr. President

On the chance that you got time to see my last post I wanted to come through on my promise to give you a sure fired solution for our deficit problems. This one seems like a no-brainer so it is surprising that no one has come up with it yet. Before I give you the solution we need to look over some graphs and tables.  After all both government and private corporations thrive on graphs and tables.

CaptureCapture1

These graphs show military spending by country. Something seems to be very strange here? It seems that the U.S. spends more on it’s military than the next twenty countries combined! Why is this? I have my own theories and here they are.

If we look at the world as one big playground then our military budgets are kind of like the sticks we carry around on the playground in order to get our way. Let’s reference this to China which is the number two military spender. Their stick is the size of a baseball bat. Going down the list South Korea’s is the size of a very small branch. It can only be used for poking. That might be annoying but not harmful. Ok, now lets get to the U.S. Our stick is the size of a redwood tree. Anyone who has seen a redwood tree knows that they are huge! Well so is our military budget and it is about easy to maneuver as a redwood! Lets look at it another way. China spends about $90/person/year and the U.S. spends about $1800/person/year! That stick is now the size of a whole forest! Why??

How can South Korea who has a population of about 50 million people have a military budget that is only 5% of ours. One of the reasons is because the U.S. has so many soldiers still there almost sixty years after the Korean war.  So why should South Korea spend their valuable money on the military when the U.S. will do it for them.  I wonder if this has anything to do with why their economy is growing while ours has been stagnant for almost a decade now? We have so many soldiers and weapons strewn throughout the world that is seems impossible to even keep track of them.  Germany is another example; we still have thousands of soldiers there to do what the Germans could easily do for themselves. Why? Like South Korea, Germany’s economy is prospering while our is stagnant. And then there is China; I don’t think I have to give you any examples here!  Surely I’m not the only one who sees this relationship between military spending and deficits?

Mr. President, you are a pretty smart fellow so I think you get the idea. When you were campaigning in 2008 you said you would do something about this but it seems you are going the way of your predecessor and also making us the world’s policemen. How can we expect to reduce our deficits when we spend so many times more than anyone else for our war machine? How can we, like the rest of the industrial world, manage to provide healthcare for all our citizens when we spend so much for bombs and other weapons of mass destruction?

I am not suggesting that we drop down to parody with our the rest of the world, I know the Republicans who now control the House would never go for that,  but how about we only spend four time more per person more than anyone else? That would still leave us with a darn big stick and one that is manageable too. That would save us around $300 billion per year? I’m not up on the latest numbers but I think that would put a pretty big dent on our deficits.

I am just a simple guy with a calculator but this seems like a no brainer to me. I like the old saying that “If all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail”. Well with our super colossal war machine everything seems to look like a military conflict ready for us to go into. Maybe if we brought our peace efforts even to within a minute fraction of our war efforts we could start seeing things in a different light.  Maybe everything would no longer look like nails? When you were campaigning in 2008 I thought I heard you promise to do that. What happened?   Please get that zeal back. Put a few more peace makers on your team and a few less generals.

Feel free to use any of this info in your State of the Union on Tuesday. You don’t even have to give me any credit for bringing them up.

RJ

Is Spring Around the Corner?

 

img313

With winter in full force now I need to bring out some pictures to remind me that Spring will eventually get here. This picture was taken in 1993 showing all the daylilies at the end of my veggie garden inside the fence. Those flowers are probably what Yvonne misses the most about our home in Fishers Indiana.

Do you need a little help President Obama??

Dear Mr. President

I know you are pretty busy creating your State of the Union address for next Tuesday so I thought you could use some free advice from someone outside of the beltway.  No, I don’t have an MBA degree from Harvard or other Ivy league college although I did manage to graduate from Purdue University about more than forty years ago but that hardly counts now.

Up front I must say I actively supported you in your run for office in 2008 but to my disappointment  you seem to have gotten off message quite a bit since then. I can certainly understand that as you are now surrounded by the most powerful political elitists in the world.  Maybe they have convinced you that the promises you made to guys like me are just not achievable. But that is another story.

I am offering this advice as just a simple guy who worked as an engineer for more than thirty years and is about to enter into the Medicare system that is so trashed today.  I am at the front of the Boomer generation so over the years I paid for my grandfathers and my father’s health care via my Social Security taxes. Every year those taxes seemed to go up a little more but I didn’t complain much as I just assumed that those following me would return the favor. But if things keep going it looks like that may not be the case.

Let’s get on to my advice to you.  I know you are looking for places to reduce spending and that is a very noble and necessary duty.  The healthcare bill passed last year was a good start but please only consider it a start. The next logical step will be to look around the world to see how to reduce the costs.  No, I am not one of those who think that we in the U.S. are the only ones who have a brain between their ears. It seems almost the opposite to me when I look at how much we spend keeping ourselves well compared to them.  I know that Washington is a place that particularly likes graphs and such so I am going to include some in this advise.

Healthcare Costs I know the graph is kind of hard to see but I don’t have the staff of 200 to do it the right way so I will have to explain some of it.  It seems to me, being a simple person that I am, that a good way to judge how well your healthcare works is would be to look how long we live.  The graph here shows that among all the countries listed that Japanese citizens live the longest; almost ten years more than we do. Japan’s healthcare costs per citizen is a little over $2500/year. Our corresponding costs are shown on the graph. You have to look all the way to the very top to see it. It comes out as about three times what the Japanese pay and Japanese cover a much higher percentage of people!

I admit that I have been a Chevy guy all of my life but it seems that a lot of people in this country think Japanese cars are superior to ours. Having to bail out GM last year seems to reinforce that fact.  So, if so many of us think the Japanese are better car builders shouldn’t they be good at other things too?  Maybe you can convince us on Tuesday that  that we should be looking at how they spend three times less than we do and live a lot longer. Isn’t here something to learn here? If for some reason people won’t look to the Japanese, we did go to war with them just before I was born,  maybe you can convince them to look at any of the the other nations who seem to be doing it better then we do. There are scores of them. How about New Zealand? I don’t think we have anything against them?

Isn’t it just possible that we can learn from others on how to control our medical costs? Our current system seems almost unfixable so lets look at how others do it.

That is enough for this idea. I will let you think about it some and tomorrow I will give you a sure fire idea on how to control our runaway deficits.  My solution tomorrow really seems to be a no brainer. But what do I know I don’t have that big time college diploma that so many around you have.

(except for the graph from National Geographic this post is totally me so there are no sources here)