This is Part II of a lengthy piece that I was encouraged to write by a noted author and economist who shall remain unnamed for the time being . . . S.L.
Think about all that debt; that debt is actually DEFERRED INFLATION. The way we are going about it the only way we can ever pay the debt is by printing money, which actually decreases the face value of our money. How do you think the price of gasoline went from two dollars a gallon three years ago, to four dollars a gallon today? And if you think four dollars a gallon is steep, just wait until it reaches TWELVE dollars a gallon; they're already paying that in Europe.
And if that isn't bad enough, the entire economy of Europe is getting ready to go off the rails. And when it does, it's going to take us down with us.
Spain, Italy and Greece are worse than bankrupt, they are so far in the red they'll never climb out, and France and Germany are expected to bail them out, because they all have one currency - the Euro - this is the Euro Zone:
The trouble with this scenario is that France has trouble enough with her economy, and millions of factory workers in Germany don't want to know anything about Italy, Spain and Greece except what they see there on their state-financed annual six-week vacations.
So what, you say? Who cares about a bunch of Euros? Generations of writing themselves blank checks for Euro-socialist pie-in-the-sky freebies got them to where they are and now that its time to pay the piper, we're supposed to sweat it? We've had to pay our own way over here all along, and they're rioting and demonstrating because they can't retire on full pay at 50 anymore, because they're going to have to kick in toward their college educations? What, you want sympathy from us?
Well, yeah - because when their thing fails, we go over the cliff with them. American financial institutions don't have a lot of European government bonds, but what we do have are utilities; think water companies and electric companies of Spanish, Italian and Greek cities and towns that are all getting ready to go kaput and not be able to pay their debtors - us.
On top of that, when American products are beyond the reach of the Euro consumer class - everything from cars and outboard engines to computers and cellphones - that's a huge chunk missing out of our already hurting economy. Never mind the fact that a German automobile will now cost $75,000 more than it costs right now - we can do without, right? - but if you already own a European car, the parts are going to cost about four times what they cost now. And you can forget about trying to sell that sucker - who wants a money pit like that to tool around in?
We must pay off the debt, or at slow it down and reverse it, AND we must bail out the Euros - the very real, and very rapidly approaching alternative - is unthinkable.
OK this is how we go about getting a handle on this beast known as The Debt, and stand ready to tackle the gathering stormclouds over Euro - which will turn into a financial Force Five Hurricane any day now.
Slay the Beast!
1) REPEAL OBAMACARE. That will take care of a huge chunk of the problem right there. To finance this trainwreck they're already cannibalizing budgets of existing programs like Medicare, my personal favorite TriCare, not to mention handouts to the States, etc. Getting rid of this poorly-drafted piece of government largess that we have no way of paying for in the first place will go a long way toward paying off the debt.
2) Sell NASA. That's right - sell it, as a step in the right direction toward chopping and cutting the U.S. Government down to a manageable size.
Think about it - NASA doesn't send anyone into space anymore. In fact, there are civilian agencies going about doing this, and doing it a lot more cost-effectively than NASA ever did. The era of strapping tiny little tin cans on top of gigantic chemical rockets to beat the force of gravity has come and gone; the less-is-more approach is a new generation of air-to-space-and-back-again rocket planes that make the Space Shuttle look like the boxy Seventies behemoth that it is.
Old, meet New.
Columbus discovered America as a government-financed project, but shortly thereafter the New World was developed and exploited commercially. The time has come to do the same thing with the Space Program: sell NASA.
We simply can't afford to have an Outer Space Muslim Outreach Program, and while we're at it, we need to scrub that stupid high-speed rail system that nobody wants or needs. A mobilized continent that transports itself at will by air-filled rubber over cement has no need of a Euro-style rail system that won't take you everywhere you want to go.
3) Cut Taxes Down to Twenty-One Percent. That's right - "Flat Tax". Herman Cain's number is 9-9-9; but that comes to 27 percent, which is more than I'm paying now. I like sevens, so 7-7-7 equals 21% - twenty-one is another favorite number of mine. Or even better 5-5-5 for 15%. Free up all that money, put it back into people's pockets and the economy would blossom and expand like a mushroom cloud over Bikini Atoll - think of it as a stimulus program WITHOUT channeling the money through the federal infrastructure. Talk about cutting out the middle man.
4) Across-The-Board Ten Percent Cut in Government Spending - Effective IMMEDIATELY. Every time the subject of cutting government spending comes up, everybody involved has their favorite programs - their Sacred Cows - that nobody can cut. Defense is a classic example - NOBODY wants to be associated with cutting the Defense budget, that's political Kryptonite!
The solution to this is EVERYBODY gets the cut - no exceptions. Defense, Entitlements, EVERYTHING.
If we cut the federal budget - not just spending but projected increases - by ten percent effective immediately - we'd not only slow this thing down, we'd turn it around. Having worked in and around the government and having seen the absolute waste and redundancy that goes on over there, I can tell you they would never miss the ten percent.
Let me tell you about wasteful government spending I have seen first hand. The U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg - a.k.a. SWC or "Swick" - is my alma mater: the headquarters Bryant Hall is six floors of swivel-seat polishers and government bureaucrats. The general who ran the place when I was there proclaimed that as the world's premier organization for training unconventional warfare, what was needed was a world-class entrance portal. A million dollars of polished steel, marble and glass later and he got just that. Never mind that million dollars would have gone a long way toward taking care of some of the equipment and training ammunition shortgages for the troops - a commander has got to have his priorities in order.
The career-progression formula goes like this; you do your time in Special Forces. Toward the end of your career you get a deskflying assignment at SWC. This is known as the ROADS Program - "Retired On Active Duty". This where you sit around as a bureaucrat-in-training, preparing yourself for your post-retirement career as a cube-dweller, exchanging cheesecake recipes with your fellow bureaucrats. There needs to be a bit of institutional memory within an organization like that, but honestly you could knock four floors of bureaucrats out of the six and that organization would work just fine.
In the best traditions of military redundacy, the entire organization is replicated across the street at Headquarters, Special Warfare Training Group a.k.a. SWTG(A) (A is Airborne) and the Institute for Military Assistance (IMA), who do exactly the same as USAJKSWCS, minus DOTD (Doctrine Training and Development) which is the one part of Bryant Hall that actually does something.
BIG WHEEL KEEPS ON SPINNING:
Any G.I. will tell you about the waste that goes on in the military; have a look at all the food they throw away in the dumpsters behind any Army messhall. But wait there's more. Everytime a unit gets ready to deploy into 'The Box' they can tap into an 'operational expenses' fund. That's where all the guys get those $100-a-pair Oakley sunglasses and $80-a-pair shooting gloves. Most of the units walking around Iraq and Afghanistan have $400 holo-sights on their M4s - I'm talking even truck drivers and personnel clerks - and they don't even know how to use them! I've got a $250 Suunto wristwatch with an altimeter and a barometer, Uncle Sam tossed my way. It's for climbing mountains; I use it as an alarm clock.
During the early phases of the Afghanistan experience, I encountered a staff officer with the 3d Special Forces Group - my old outfit. He explained to me that the guidance coming down from headquarters, US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) was that anything the teams on the ground requested, they got. Anything, no questions asked; they're Special Forces fighting a war - give it to them. One team put in a request for twelve Nintendo DS portable game systems. They got them. How much do you think those $100 game boys cost by the time they were specially air delivered, half a world away, by parachute? Puts a whole new meaning into the phrase "shipping and handling."
Then there are the Sacred Cows I mentioned before, and the Rice Bowls. A good example is the Crusader Self-Propelled Howitzer Program, a two-vehicle tracked artillery behemoth that finally died a horrible death in 2001 - but not before Team Crusader had racked up bazillions of dollars worth of R&D for a thing that was obsolete a decade before it was ever conceived. We needed this thing like we needed a hole in the head, but the tread-heads have their M-1 Abrams tanks, and the rotor-heads have their Apache Longbows, so the cannon-cockers had to have this thing, which looks like it comes from a bad science fiction movie:
The Crusader concept consisted of two vehicles, the XM2001 155mm self-propelled howitzer and the XM2002 armoured resupply vehicle. The 155mm self-propelled howitzer had fully automated ammunition handling and capable of firing up to ten rounds a minute to ranges in excess of 40km. The fully automated ammunition handling system allowed the three-man resupply crew to automatically transfer up to 48 rounds of ammunition and fuel to the howitzer in less than 12 minutes. The resupply vehicle itself could be fully loaded with fuel and 110 rounds of ammunition in less than 60 minutes.
Never mind the fact that in the age of drone-mounted Hellfire missiles and AC-130 gunships, artillery is obsolete anyway - the Crusader THING had morphed into the ultimate Sacred Cow. It was the Rice Bowl of a LOT of General officers, their staffs, and their replicant civilian bureaucracies.
Now multiply that by a million and a million again and you get some idea of the sheer waste of government; much of which is beyond oversight. Cut it I say, and I'm not talking a lot. Cut ten percent across-the-board and they'd never miss it; cut the junkets and the symposiums in Las Vegas, cut the goodies and the treats, cut the useless departments and programs and bureaucracies that are duplicated and redundant throughout the system. We can't afford them anymore; we never could afford them in the first place. A ten percent across-the-board cut in EVERYTHING and you know what I'd call that? A GOOD START.