Budget Minded Republicans……

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budgetI know the current version of the Republican party is supposed to be all about fiscal austerity but I have trouble actually seeing them live out that concept. When it comes to the safety net and so-called “entitlement” issues they scream about needing to cut back or at least for total accountability. But when it comes to the bloated military expenses, homeland security and tax breaks for the rich they appear to throw that concept out the window. Of course that means that their austerity programs, if they are implemented as they suggest, will end up being done on the backs of the poor as almost everything else is “off the table”.

We spend more than the other 96% of the world combines on our supposed security. Our military budgets eat up so much of our prosperity as to force future looking programs off the stove.  Education, our R&D forces, and our colleges suffer as a result of our insistence that to be safe we must spend so much on our war machine. In fact we throw so much money into the military that they don’t even bother to try to determine if it is going to the best place. For that matter they really don’t even try to categorize where it is even spent.  But that doesn’t seem to phase the Republican senators and congressmen in Washington. They continue to demand more and more of our precious resource for this bloated machine.

For that reason I have little confidence that my budgeted minded friends are really serious about budgets but are really more concerned in reducing or even eliminating the very function of government or at least making sure that 47% don’t get things they supposedly haven’t earned.  If they were really serious about our current deficits they would be looking at  our war machine first not last.  When you throw trillions of dollars into a black hole you dictate that much of it will be spent unwisely or even fraudulently.  They demand total accountability for agencies supporting our safety net and nothing for our industrial/ military complex. How strange is that???

The Two Faces of Paul Ryan….

I have spent the better part of a week looking at the new vice presidential candidate for the GOP. Up until now I was not familiar with him other than superficially. This will be the last post in this area so I am going to try to summarize what I have learned about the man.

  • Paul Ryan is definitely a passionate person who is true to his principles  taught to him by his heroes in life such as Ayn Rand who says money is the source of all good and altruism is stupid. I’m also sure he thinks each one of his ideas is somehow for the greater good of the country.
  • As shown by his recent convention speech he is a very articulate person to much the same degree as Barak Obama but at the exact opposite end of the political spectrum.
  • He adamantly supported the stimulus packages of President Bush in both 2002 and 2008 but when a Democratic president was just continuing the same it somehow became totally wrong to him.  Everything he supported during the Bush years are now somehow unacceptable.  That seems highly partisan to me and that is not something I want to continue seeing in our elected leaders in the coming years.
  • His budget proposal that he claims is compassionate is totally rejected by his faith leaders in the Catholic church as very uncaring for the least among us.
  • 62% of his proposed budget cuts for 2012 comes from cuts to the country’s safety net. This is hard to take especially when at the same time he is proposing big additional increases in our already very blotted military spending. Since we spend about forty times more than any other country on our war machine he seems to be a hawk to the nth degree.
  • He plays politics with the best of them. He gets people from the other party on board by promising things that he then leaves them out of his proposed bill when it is submitted. He then wonders why the colleagues who he betrayed object to his calling his bill bipartisan. These types of actions show he can’t be trusted to keep his word.
  • His original proposal for “fixing” Medicare was to give seniors a limited voucher to buy private insurance. If the private carrier even agreed to offer them insurance they would end up paying thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for less coverage than their current Medicare plan. Because of the huge backlash he modified his plan somewhat but given his propensity to got back on his word I think we have to assume that the first option if it could be passed is his preference.
  • He is a favorite of the radical fringe Tea Party. This alone says much about his spirit of compassion and compromise.
  • But maybe worst of all is that he seems to enthusiastically want to toss aside the people at the lower end of our society in order for the upper echelons to prosper even more.  Ayn Rand, who is his hero taught him well in that area.
  • Finally, I’m sure Mr. Ryan is a good family man who loves his wife and children but he seems to lack even a basic empathy for so many others.

At the end of this week-long investigation I still don’t understand why my clergy friend from the past reveres him so.  On the surface Mr. Ryan seems like a nice guy but when you look at his other face he has a very narrow and seemingly dark view of life.

There are three qualities I believe must be used to judge a person’s character. One is his spiritual side; does he have a moral compass? The second is who are his heroes in life are and the third is whether he is true to his word; in other words can he be trusted? Even from this cursory study of Mr. Ryan I don’t see a lot about him in any of these three categories that entices me to vote the GOP ticket this time around.

Military Expenditures by Country…

Here is a rather straight forward graph showing military spending by country. Are you like me and see a very basic problem here? If we look at is per citizen it is even more skewed.

No wonder our budgets are in so much trouble. No wonder the world always comes to us to solve their problems. We are taking on massive debt to be the policemen of the world. When will it end????

The Politics of the 5%…

It seems popular now days to rally against the one-percent of the population in the U.S. that controls so much of our country’s wealth. I am one of the many who think the distribution of wealth has been skewed too far the last thirty years or so.  We need to bring back a more moralistic ratio of wealth. We need to re-establish the quickly shrinking middle class in this country and do away with the recent lopsided subsidies for the rich.

But if we take a more worldly view of our circumstance we in the U.S.  make up about 5% of the world’s population but we consume a much higher percentage of the world’s resources.

  • We use about ten time more of the world’s resources per citizen than most other countries.
  • In order to maintain our lifestyle we borrow more than any other in the world; we are spending way beyond our means.
  • We pollute the atmosphere more than any other country, although China is quickly approaching polluting more than we do.
  • We account for more than 50% of its war making machinery and sell more weapons than anyone else in the world.

So in a way when looking at it from a world standpoint all of us in the United States are like the 1% we rally so much against. For this reason there are many in the rest of the world that hold us in contempt. But, at the same time covet our lavish lifestyles. Some see us as bullies who come into their country to strip out what we need and then either leave or worse yet force some kind of “regime change” to get more.  Should the rest of the world be rallying against the 5% who are gobbling up the world’s resources for their own pleasure?

I don’t want to leave this post on such a negative point.  Yes, compared to much of the rest of the world we are greedy when it comes to our comforts but we are also gracious with it comes to our worldwide relief efforts. As is typical of everything in this world our country has a good side and a bad side. Let’s just pray that we show our good side more often. That will result in a much more peaceful world than all our nuclear bombs and our outrageous military spending can ever provide.

Deficit Fighters

194I see where the Republicans in the House have only managed to eliminate half the “earmarks” in the current budget. I guess some things are just too sacred. Most of the remaining “pork” is associated with military projects. If the Republicans are serious about reducing the deficits, and I hope they are, they must come to understand:

  • The U.S. represents 4% of the world’s population
  • The U.S. spends almost 60% of the total world’s expenses on military things
  • The U.S. spends an average of 40 times more for our military than any other country in the world
  • If  the U.S. pared down our military spending to be just three times more than any other country we could automatically reduce our deficits about almost $400 billions per year
  • The U.S. still have thousands of soldiers stationed in Germany, Japan, Korea, and hundreds of other places. Why???
  • The U.S. does NOT need to be the policemen of the world. Other countries are more than capable of helping to do this job. Just look at the coalition around the no-fly zone in Libya as evidence of that.

If only we came to some sense on our military spending we could solve so many of our current deficit issues. The rest of the world knows this. Why don’t we? I’m not saying that this military fixation is solely a Republican issue. In fact it has probably infected just as many Democrats. Let’s move beyond this insanity. It would save us trillions of dollars and ten of thousands of lives of our young people needlessly being put in harm’s way.

But what do I know.