E-Newsletter No. 49 _____ January 2018
Here is the link to the picture –
US Debt Clock – – December 1st – $63,044 per citizen / January 1st – $62,996
E-Newsletter No. 49 _____ January 2018
Here is the link to the picture –
US Debt Clock – – December 1st – $63,044 per citizen / January 1st – $62,996
E-Newsletter No. 48 _____ December 2017
In September, the US House of Representatives and US Senate failed to address the federal government’s growing debt problem, as they postponed any action on the “debt ceiling” until December 8th. Our Editorial Board does not anticipate that any meaningful debt ceiling / limitation will be established this month.
As we mentioned in our Conversation Piece entitled Other Musings, the lack of fiscal responsibility by our federal government represents a complete and unequivocal failure of our country’s leadership (in both political parties). The Left has generally ignored many of the warnings that were laid out in the Federalist Papers and in Thomas Paine’s pamphlet entitled Common Sense.
Our Editorial Board does not believe that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the way the US Constitution was written. Unfortunately, the liberal/progressive movement continues to try to “fundamentally transform” the federal government and, therefore, the relationship between We-The-People and our government.
Fortunately, our country’s Founders provided us with a means to work around an out-of-control government, and we believe the time has come to amend the US Constitution and implement Term Limits for members of the House of Representatives and Senate. Under Article V of the Constitution, 34 of the 50 states need to pass legislation to call for a Convention of States. Such a convention would then be able to draft proposed amendments to the US Constitution, such as establishing fiscal restraints on the federal government, limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limiting the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress. You can go to www.conventionofstates.com to learn more.
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Please note that we have posted an eBook version of The 2020 Initiative on our website –
We encourage you to forward this link to your representatives in Congress (along with their Legislative Directors) and we encourage you to continue to deliver the message that “enough is enough”.
US Debt Clock on December 1st – – $20.5 trillion / / $63,044 per citizen
E-Newsletter No. 47 ______ November 2017
One year ago, our country’s citizens decided that we do not want a bigger, more intrusive federal government. Unfortunately, the Socialists of the Left are not going to go away quietly. This month, we are providing a link to another new Conversation Piece on our Foundation’s website entitled Other Musings –
The federal government’s cumulative debt amount continues to rise. The members of our Foundation need to stay engaged in this conversation with our elected officials, and need to continue to deliver the message that “enough is enough”. Our elected officials need to either deliver a solution, or they will be voted out of office.
We close this month’s newsletter with another one of our favorite Forrest Gump quotes. Whenever Forrest was finished articulating yet another self-evident truth, he would sum it all up by saying “That’s all I have to say about that.”
E-Newsletter No. 46 _______ October 2017
Just a short newsletter this month – we are providing the following link to another new Conversation Piece on our Foundation’s website entitled Other Thoughts on Personal Responsibility –
In addition to promoting the concept of personal responsibility, our Editorial Board also believes in the concepts of Opportunity for All and Favoritism to None. This is where the federal government’s focus should be.
Unfortunately, the Left supports Big Government and intrusive regulations that diminish Opportunities for All. The Socialists of the Left condemn corporations (along with successful, wealthy individuals) as being the source of all evil in society. But here is a fundamental question – – If corporations and other businesses are not the means by which our citizens receive goods and services, who is going to provide the jobs (and opportunities) that people need in order to have a meaningful purpose in life? Of course, the Socialists’ default answer is “Big (more) Government”. But history has shown that Socialism doesn’t work – a government does not and cannot create wealth – it can only re-distribute wealth.
Having said that…. It is very true that a very significant problem exists – – Corruption occurs under “crony capitalism”. However, this corruption is oftentimes due to collusion between career politicians and special interest groups, and this collusion violates the concept of “Favoritism to None.”
The federal government was established to militarily defend the country as a whole, and to protect our citizen’s rights. Period. (Please re-read the Tenth Amendment). When the federal government attempts to expand beyond this limited role, bad things begin to happen. Forrest Gump (and his mom) were fond of saying “Stupid is as stupid does”. Unfortunately, the federal government is currently doing a lot of stupid things.
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We close this month’s newsletter with a sobering piece of news, which should come as no surprise to the members of our Foundation. Our federal government’s finances are on an unsustainable path, and unfortunately this past month, our country passed a new threshold. The federal government’s cumulative debt now stands in excess of $20 trillion (and continues to rise)…
US Debt Clock – – September 1st – $61,330 per citizen / October 1st – $61,981
E-Newsletter No. 45 _______ September 2017
Fair warning to all readers who might have “Democratic Socialism” tendencies… Continue reading at your own risk. On our website, we have added a new Conversation Piece entitled Welfare Reform Re-Visited –
In this Conversation Piece, we provide our thoughts on how to repeal and replace the federal government’s counter-productive welfare programs. Our country needs to face a sobering fact – – our federal government has lost its “War on Poverty”. History and events have proven that LBJ’s Great Society welfare programs have been an abject failure. We have spent over $22 trillion on welfare programs since the 1960s, and the percentage of people who live in poverty has remained virtually unchanged.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting to achieve a different result. We need to fundamentally transform welfare (which is simply the delivery of goods and services to citizens who need assistance). With this Conversation Piece, our Editorial Board is launching our own war on the War on Poverty. The welfare programs sponsored by our federal government cannot solve the problem of poverty (contrary to how these programs have been “marketed” to the public in the past). Instead, these welfare programs have only served to foster a growing sense of entitlement among our country’s citizens and have increased the level of dependency on the federal government.
Our Editorial Board’s alternative is to promote the concept of Personal Responsibility, rather than Socialism. An individual who is in poverty should look to assistance from civil society for the solution to their problem(s), rather than a government program. History has proven without a doubt that the federal government’s programs cannot accomplish the objective of reducing poverty.
LBJ’s Great Society programs were a drastic over-reach by the federal government. The federal government was not established by the States to deliver welfare to individual citizens. It was set up to protect our country’s citizens’ lives and liberties, and our ability to pursue happiness. The General Welfare clause in the Constitution refers to policies and programs that promote the General Welfare of the country as a whole, and does not refer to providing welfare benefits to individual citizens.
Having said that… Compassionate citizens of all political persuasions recognize that some individuals are going to need some assistance during some period of time in their life. The poor have always lived among us, and this has been true going all the way back to pre-biblical times. As we noted in The 2020 Initiative, the real solution to the problem of poverty is to help the poor become “unpoor”. However, one of the first steps that needs to happen is for each individual to develop a game plan to take Personal Responsibility for their own life. A sense of Personal Responsibility (instead of a sense of “vicitimization”) combined with the assistance available from civil society (families, supported by local community groups, charities, and social service agencies) is the only means by which a person will become unpoor. For those on the Left who are brave enough, please launch the link to the Conversation Piece entitled Welfare Reform Re-Visited.
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As many of us recall, on October 30, 2015, legislation was passed to suspend the federal government’s debt limit to March 2017. Since then, the Treasury department has employed “extraordinary measures” to continue meeting federal obligations without issuing new debt, and the amount of the federal government’s debt has been stalled at approximately $19.97 trillion since July. However, these extraordinary measures will become depleted some time later this month. Unfortunately, the incremental costs that have been incurred for these extraordinary measures total approximately $2.5 billion. Although this is a “big number”, this amount is “miniscule” when you consider the fact that the annual deficit for this year is going to be around $600 billion.
US Debt Clock – – August 1st – $61,344 per citizen / September 1st – $61,330
E-Newsletter No. 44 ______August 2017
It has been a few months since we last discussed Social Security, so our Editorial Board thought that this would be a good month to re-visit this issue. We do this for three reasons.
Our elected representatives will soon be returning to Washington DC from their August break, to vote on increasing the federal government’s so-called “debt limit” (which has become a farce that is increasingly irrelevant and meaningless).
They will also be trying to put the finishing touches on our federal government’s fiscal 2018 budget for the year that begins on October 1st. All of the projections show that this budget will not “balance”, and therefore over the course of the upcoming year, there will continue to be an increase in the total debt of the federal government.
But most importantly, we want to point out the fact that very few of our elected representatives are brave enough to address the issue of entitlement reform. They do not want to come forward with a solution to this problem, because they are worried about what effect this would have on their next re-election. Currently, approximately 70% of the federal government’s spending is on automatic pilot for “mandatory” spending…. Mandatory?? How did we ever get into this mess? The answer is very simple – – Many years ago “progressive” politicians (including FDR) decided that retirement funds should become the responsibility of the federal government (instead of being a Personal Responsibility). And then in the 1960s, another career politician (LBJ) along with other Socialists of the Left added Medicare, Medicaid and various welfare programs to the list.
In The 2020 Initiative, our Editorial Board puts forward our thoughts on how Social Security can be transformed over a multi-year transition period into a means-tested welfare benefit. As we have noted previously, there is no money in the Social Security “Trust” (which is another misleading federal government charade). But even though we believe it is immoral for the federal government to continue to steal funds from future generations to make Social Security payments to other people, we are “somewhat OK” with the idea of a means-tested welfare benefit for an elderly retired citizen who is in need of financial assistance. We acknowledge the possibility that due to an individual’s facts and circumstances, they might not have been able to personally save enough funds that would have allowed them to cover their own needs over the course of their retirement years. In that type of situation, our first choice would normally be to have civil society (families, supported by Not For Profit charities and other local social services agencies) provide this kind of assistance to such an individual, but maybe it’s OK for the federal government to provide for such a means-tested welfare benefit.
Having said that…. Our country’s citizens need to begin to acknowledge that even this kind of means-tested welfare benefit is not a proper role of the federal government. And unfortunately, the payments that are currently being made under this program do not make any sense – – the vast majority of these “unfunded pension benefits” are being paid to retirees who are probably already financially secure, and only minimal monthly amounts are being paid to retirees who probably need to receive a Social Security benefit (see the July 2015 letter to Senator Bernie Sanders on our Foundation’s website).
In its current form, this government program is unsustainable. As the program’s Trustees have reported for the past several years, “Lawmakers should address the projected trust fund shortfalls in a timely way in order to phase in necessary changes gradually and give workers and beneficiaries time to adjust to them.” Congress, are you listening? We are extremely disappointed that we hear this “standard” wording in the Trustees’ report year after year after year. Maybe (soon?) our elected officials will finally take the steps that are needed to fundamentally transform this failing government program. Our proposed transition plan would not change any benefits to retirees who are currently receiving Social Security payments. It would also allow current workers to get their personal contributions back out of the Social Security program, plus interest. But after that, the federal government would no longer be able to coercively tax future generations for unfunded promises that were made in the past. Unless these fundamental changes occur (soon), it is going to be extremely difficult for future generations to save for their own retirement years.
US Debt Clock – – July 1st – $61,368 per citizen / August 1st – $61,344
E-Newsletter No. 43 ______ July 2017
In our newsletters the past few months, we have tried to promote the concept that education and healthcare are personal responsibilities. However, the Socialists of the Left want to change our citizens’ mindset by re-labeling these aspects of daily life as being new “rights” that give rise to new “entitlements”. This is simply part of the Left’s “progressive” agenda to increase the size and scope of the federal government. Unfortunately, if the Socialists are successful in regards to education and healthcare, the same thinking can then be applied to the concept of an “entitlement” to food and housing. And after that…. Who knows?
Compassionate conservatives recognize the fact that food and housing are “needs”. Conservatives agree that there is no reason why a citizen in our country of plenty should go hungry or homeless, and also acknowledge that some of our country’s citizens require assistance to have their needs met. Where Conservatives and Socialists disagree is in regards to the methods to make this happen. The Socialists believe in the coercive powers of the federal government, which they try to sell to the public as being “federal government benevolence”. The federal government was not set up to be benevolent. (See Thomas Paine’s Common Sense comments about government). Conservatives believe in personal responsibility and families and Not For Profit charities – this is a far better method of taking care of our citizens’ needs, rather than relying on yet another inefficient, counter-productive government program.
Our Editorial Board believes that the waste, inefficiency, and corruption of the federal government prevents it from effectively accomplishing any of its stated welfare goals. In The 2020 Initiative, our Editorial Board proposes a fundamental change to the US tax code for personal income taxes, whereby a charitable contribution to a Not For Profit charity will result in a tax credit against an individual’s / family’s federal income tax obligation that would otherwise be paid into the swamp. The federal government needs to be starved of these funds, so that it no longer intrudes into the marketplace for education, healthcare, food, housing, or any other aspect of daily life. Its focus should be on the federal government’s responsibilities that are specifically listed in the US Constitution.
In The 2020 Initiative, we recommend that four independent national Not For Profit “clearing-house” charities be established for food, housing, healthcare and education. The sole purpose of these national charities would be to collect funds from citizens, and then (based on stringent, objective criteria that quantifies each state’s needs) disburse that charity’s funds to the applicable state-level charitable organization in each state.
As we will discuss in our upcoming Conversation Piece on Welfare Reform Re-Visited, the real solution to the issue of poverty is to help those less fortunate become “unpoor”. The Socialists’ “default solution” to any issue is to have the federal government simply provide cash to people who need assistance. But this approach only serves to increase the sense of entitlement among our country’s citizens, and increases the recipient’s dependency on the federal government, while only marginally and temporarily helping the recipient become “somewhat less poor”. The better solution is to provide financial support to local community-based social services agencies (local job training programs, food banks, habitat for humanity groups, public health clinics, etc.) so that civil society can help citizens assume personal responsibility for their own lives, lift themselves out of poverty, and become unpoor.
US Debt Clock – – June 1st – $61,297 per citizen / July 1st – $61,368
E-Newsletter No. 42_______June 2017
On our website, we have an October 2013 Conversation Piece entitled Medicare and Universal Health Care Coverage. One of the main planks of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was to repeal and replace the (Un)Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), which has proven to be a disastrous over-reach by the federal government into our country’s healthcare system. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives bundled the repeal initiative with the replacement initiative (which should have been dealt with separately in a second step). Fortunately, a second, better version of the American Health Care Act was passed by the House, and is now in the process of being re-written by the Senate. Hopefully, the final version of this legislation will serve to eliminate the fundamental flaws of Obamacare.
On our website, we have posted a new Conversation Piece entitled Healthcare Re-Visited –
In this posting, we distinguish between two separate issues – – “healthcare” (which is a personal responsibility) and acquiring a health insurance policy (which is also a personal responsibility). Unfortunately, the Socialists of the Left continue to link these two issues together in their ongoing attempts to further expand the size and scope of the federal government. By proclaiming that healthcare is a “right”, they attempt to make the case that people should no longer be responsible for their own healthcare, because healthcare should be administered by the federal government.
We also provide a little history on employer group health insurance plans, and we discuss the similarities and difference between health insurance and other types of insurance, like auto insurance. We also put forward our recommendations on how each of our country’s citizens can acquire a health insurance policy that meets their own individual needs, and we address the issues regarding what can be done on behalf of those citizens who need financial assistance to acquire a health insurance policy.
US Debt Clock – – May 1st – $61,220 per citizen / June 1st – $61,297
E-Newsletter No. 41 ______ May 2017
As we discussed in last month’s newsletter, our biggest complaint about the federal government’s over-reach into the realm of local K-12 education has been the abysmal return on the massive increase in federal spending, coupled with the simultaneous decrease in measurable results. We attribute most of this decline to the federal government’s top-down regulations and its attempts to enforce a politically correct curriculum, instead of letting parents, the local community, and their schools focus on the fundamentals of education that need to be provided to elementary and high school students. To paraphrase Carly Fiorina’s presidential campaign slogan, “We need to take our local schools back from the federal government.”
Having said that…. The federal government’s detrimental effects on post-secondary education has been even worse. As we have noted elsewhere on our website, one of the worst unintended consequences of federal government spending is the price distortion it causes in the marketplace. We see this effect in healthcare, in housing, and in the cost of post-secondary education.
The crisis in outstanding student loan debt was created by the federal government, and the magnitude of this problem has increased ever since the government first expanded its role under President Bill Clinton in 1993. Since then, college costs have risen by 190 percent, far surpassing the overall rate of inflation. As the federal government took over student lending, the conditions for getting a loan were eased and were no longer linked to financial need. This has enabled all colleges (public and private) to raise tuition at will, knowing that students can get loans to cover the rising costs.
The student loan crisis has ballooned since 2003, when outstanding student loans totaled $240 billion. Total student loan debt now stands at $1.4 trillion (more than 85% guaranteed by the government), which is more than the amount of outstanding vehicle loans and credit card obligations, and is second only to mortgages. (And we all witnessed the detrimental effects of the federal government’s role in the housing industry).
The progressive movement’s solution is to make a public college education “free”. But what will that do to the competition between public versus private colleges? (OK, that was a rhetorical question). The other solution is to “forgive” outstanding loan balances (in other words, make past student loans “free”). But is that fair to those responsible individuals who have actually paid off their student loans?
A first step towards solving the student loan problem is to eliminate all federal government student loan programs, and return the issuance of student loans to the private sector. Only then will the marketplace for post-secondary education begin to hold tuition costs in check. We also need to re-think the cost versus benefit of a college education. Is a four-year college degree really the right answer for every student? There are many different trades / occupations that do not require a degree, and there are labor shortages for these positions. (We plan to address the cost/benefit analysis of welfare versus work in a later newsletter).
The skills gap in our country is substantial, which is partly due to the poor results of the K-12 education system. In a recent survey, 45% of small business owners reported that they were unable to find qualified job applicants, including construction workers, truck drivers, automotive technicians, etc. Skills-training partnerships between business leaders and local high schools, colleges and community-based organizations, along with apprenticeships and internships, would help job candidates obtain the necessary skills.
Technology changes and other evolutions within the business world will continue to create a situation where workers need to be trained and retrained throughout their careers. Post-secondary education now represents a lifetime commitment to additional ongoing training. Public-private partnerships (funded by civil society) will be critical to improving the prosperity of all American workers.
One other issue of note – – Our Editorial Board’s biggest complaint about the liberal / progressive movement’s assault on our post-secondary education system can be summed up by this quote from Vladimir Lenin – Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted. Many of us recall the Free Speech Movement during the mid-1960s on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley. Now, Berkeley’s administration is advocating “Free Speech Zones”, which is an “Orwellian” term used to describe an approach whereby certain public speakers are literally put out of sight in a safe zone, in order to protect the rest of the student population from potentially “politically incorrect” points of view. My, oh my, how the world has “progressed” over the past several decades.
US Debt Clock – – April 1st – $61,149 per citizen / May 1st – $61,220
E-Newsletter No. 40 ______ April 2017
In last month’s newsletter, we began a discussion about the unintended consequences of the federal government’s involvement in Education – – massive increases in spending, coupled with declining results. These unintended results are occurring at both the elementary / high school level and the post-secondary level. Although the problem of declining results is similar, the discussion of the various issues and how best to move forward need to be addressed separately.
Elementary / high school education is a purely local issue. The students, the parents, and the teachers are all local. In most regards (other than questions about finances and funding) K-12 education isn’t even a state-level issue. Our Editorial Board believes that the federal government has virtually no role to play in local education issues. As we noted last month, the federal government’s initial foray into the realm of public education was probably OK, because it was limited to collecting and disseminating “best practices” information to the States. Unfortunately, starting with the Head Start program in 1965, and followed by innumerable programs since then, the federal government began increasing its influence at the local level by providing funds to local school districts to advance these federal programs. By “purchasing” this influence, local schools are, in effect, held hostage by these federal dollars.
The federal government should no longer attempt to micromanage the delivery of K-12 education. Unfortunately, for many decades, progressive theories and the resulting federal programs have served to undermine traditional K-12 education, and education bureaucrats have taken control away from the local community. Parents, local school boards, and the teachers in the classrooms, need to come together to reverse this trend and put student-focused innovation ahead of top-down regulation. The answer to improving results at your local school is parental involvement and local control. We also need to re-direct moneys away from the federal government, and have it flow directly to Parent-Teacher Associations and other local nonprofit organizations that have been established to support local education. As we recommend in The 2020 Initiative, this can be accomplished by making changes to the federal income tax code, whereby taxpayers would receive a direct tax credit (rather than a deduction against income) for contributions made to organizations that have been established to support local education.
Our Editorial Board has a great deal of respect and appreciation for public school teachers, who play a vital role in the development of young adults. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same thing about the various teachers’ unions, who appear to be solely focused on the wants of the union, rather than the needs of our country’s students. Not surprisingly, teachers’ unions are passionate opponents of school choice, charter schools and vouchers.
We would like nothing more than to have all of our public schools succeed and return to the high levels of quality outcomes that were achieved in the past. But if a particular school is failing its mission, we support a parent’s right to enroll their child in a high-quality alternative. Ultimately, it is a matter of parental involvement to decide the best alternative for their child. School choice simply means having the freedom to choose between the local public school, a charter school, a private school, homeschooling, or some other alternative. We must be able to provide students in failing schools the opportunity to find a better alternative. School vouchers should be available to any student who resides in a district that is deemed to be failing.
There is also a growing sense that our public schools have been “dumbed down”, and children who attend failing schools are no longer being adequately educated in the skills that will enable them to be productive individuals once they graduate from high school. Our public schools need to re-focus on teaching the fundamentals of reading, writing, arithmetic, and science. Unfortunately, when a school loses its focus on these basic skills, and begins to devote time to teaching a “politically correct curriculum”, it steals time away from more important subjects, such as history and the US Constitution.
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We close this month’s newsletter with the following news update (because this didn’t get a lot of press coverage this past month). On March 16th, the country’s debt limit was reset to reflect the additional borrowings that have occurred since the debt limit was suspended in November 2015. We have now re-entered that phase whereby the Treasury Department must now manage our country’s debt through “extraordinary measures”. The Congressional Budget Office projects that if the new debt limit remains unchanged, those measures will probably be exhausted (and the Treasury will run out of cash) sometime in the fall of 2017. The following is a link to a concise 4-page report from the CBO about what this all means – https://www.cbo.gov/publication/52465
US Debt Clock – – March 1st – $61,557 per citizen / April 1st – $61,149 Do not get overly excited or overjoyed by this momentary decrease. Our country’s long term financial problems have not yet been fixed.