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Saturday, April 16, 2011

National Debt What If's and Seven Radical Solutions

     When a government spends so much money every man, woman and child is in debt to the tune of $40,000 even if they are living in a card board box behind an abandoned building, there is a problem.  When the numbers are at a level that you can not even calculate them on the average calculator because, there are not enough digits, it might be a sign of a problem.  The fact that the actions of the incompetent and self serving wannbe politicians, may plunge the whole world into the most dire financial abyss in recorded history is unforgiveable.  That they can stand before the public and ask for reelection shows how deluded they are.  They do not have a clue that their actions may have destroyed the life of America as we know it today.

     Ultimately the whole financial system worldwide is liable to collapse.  States are broke already and crying the blues that they need money. There are solutions.  Nobody may like them but they can help if implemented. The old saying is, "if there is no pain there is no gain," well America and the world are in for a lot of pain regardless of how the situation is dealt with.  The fact that the few who saw what was coming were ignored shows the wreckless discard that has been the standard for the so called leadership.  It has really been a race to get all they could before the hog trough was empty, not caring how or who had to pay the bill when it comes due. 

      Having started several business's and having been through bankruptcy the amount of pain is hard to believe.  My last twenty working years were successful, so things can be turned around.  However it will not be done without sacrifice on everyone's part.  The question is do we want the sacrifice now or down the road.  Down the road will be far more painful than standing up and meeting the challenge head on.

      The first thing that needs to be done is a spending freeze.  In the sixties and seventies that was always the first suggestion.  In the end the spending always resumed.
A Constitutional Amendment is the only way the problem will be permanently solved. It will require the government to live within it's means.  Spending beyond the amount of revenue received would and can not be allowed. If the government desires to spend more it will need to generate more and that is done through tax increases.  The present sytem of using The Federal Reserve like an open ended credit card has to stop.  Sure the government can print more money, but if there are no assets to secure that money it only increases the debt.  The Federal Debt is quickly approaching a point where the amount of debt exceeds all the assets in America.  That is called Bankruptcy.  When that point is reached two things happen.  The government becomes insolvent and nobody wants to lend to a bankrupt who does not have the means to repay their debt, be it a country, business or and individual.  Second insitutions who have lent money to the bankrupt party want their money back and they cease to give any further credit.  If no one will lend you money you have one option.  Live on what you have.  If it is not enough to make ends meet choices will have to be made. Will we cut back on national security and bring all the troops home and let the rest of the world fend for itself.  That is my choice.  The other choice is to cut programs and benefits and let our citizens fend for themselves.
     America likes to call itself a Christian nation, but what I see as the first choices for slashing expenses do not express that at all.  The founding fathers and writers like Thomas Paine, Franklin, and Jefferson all said it was the states duty to help those in need and provide for the elderly.   Not to turn this into a Bible study, but contrary to popular belief Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed for their homosexuality. At least Ezekiel 16 verse 49-51 tell a different story. "Behold this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strenghten the hand of the poor and needy.  And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me:  therefore I took them away as I saw good."   Jesus said, " The poor you will have with you always."  He did not say anything about having the rich with us always. To end this matter and to show where America really stands I suggest reading the 28th Chapter of Deuteronomy,  It is called the Chapter or Book of Blessings and Cursings.  It shows very clearly what happens to nations that follow God and those that don't.  America was clearly in the do category, but is quickly sliding into the don't category.
     What is my solution? Spend only what you have, reduce expenditures and quit  borrowing money. It sounds simple but it works.  If you go bankrupt that is what you will do whether you want to or not. It is a matter of how you do it that determines if it works. It will take commitment and sacrifice. The alternative is something nobody really wants to experience. It will take the American electorate holding the politicians feet to the fire. It will not be fun. The first step is to freeze the government budget till the plan I am proposing can kick in. If America does not do that, it is all over but the crying. So here is the program.

#1 Work toward energy independence, America will be able to say and do what it knows is right without worring about having its oil cut off.  Also those billions of dollars staying in America will reduce the foreign debt...My program is simple.

       It is called “One for 20/80.” Here is how it works. The price of gas is to be raised $1.00 per gallon, or whatever the government deems acceptable. To much you say, well in Europe many countries pay over $7.00 a gallon.   The money is to be given directly to the states it is collected in. The Federal government should have no access to these funds.  Many will say they can not afford a $1 a gallon. Well that is chump change when you look at the long term reality. Sooner or later it will be $6 or $7 a gallon or higher. When I was a kid gas was sixteen or seventeen cents a gallon. Five us pitched in all we had,  we gathered up 87 cents total between the five of us.  That gas ran us around all night.  Laugh if you want, but it was a challenge to come up with the 87 cents between five of us. Prices have gone one way since back then and that is up.
     Getting back on track. The plan is broken down in two parts. Eighty percent for infrastructure repairs and development. It can not be used for the state budgets. The other twenty percent is to be put into programs to reduce energy consumption and develop new alternatives like cheaper renewable energy programs. The up side of this program is that it is financed with real money. Not with borrowed money. As it creates jobs and grows it will stimulate spending. The upside is that it does not increase the debt. Yet it starts stimulating the economy. It gives a way to hold things together till the budget can be dealt with. It also shows the rest of the world the United States is serious about dealing with our problems.  Oklahoma City created a one cent tax and it helped their city, look it up online.
    The second part of the 20/80 program is that the federal government must adopt not only a balanced budget, but it must be debt free by 2080. What it takes in each year must pay off what it owes each year. That is a novel idea. It is far off but it will help keep the politicians focused that they must reduce spending and cut cost.
    This first idea is rather novel. If you have a car that gets fifty miles per gallon you get a one dollar tax break. You say no cars get fifty miles per gallon. Well that is the incentive. If people know they can get it back they will push the car makers to develop cars that can get fifty miles per gallon. How do you control it or prove it. The manufacturers would put a sensor on the speedometer and fuel tank to monitor it. It would be done via a flash drive you plug in your dash and when you pay for your gas the register or pump would calculate if you qualified. They can do almost anything with computers they can do this I am sure. The challenge would be for the engineers to come up with the ideas to do it. Whether it is through gearing or metering fuel it should not be a challenge. The challenge will be to get fifty mile per gallon SUV’s. but we are Americans and we can do it if we put our mind to it. Shut down NASA and tell them when they get to sixty miles per gallon they get their funding back. It will get done quickly then.
    How do we save energy in significant amounts. I have several plans and I am sure millions of other Americans have similar plans. It simply takes focus. The ideas I am proposing are basic common sense. The technology to do them is already available. If something is not done and soon the consequences are going to be staggering in their impact. Later I will give what I see as the cost if it is not done. You can ignore the problem but it is not going to go away. It was 60 to 80 years in the making. It is not going to be fixed with the stroke of a pen. If you do not like the ideas I come up with lets hear yours.

 #2....Make all energy used give its maximum benefit. Quit wasting energy.
   The second one can be done out of the twenty per cent for energy savings. There are power plants all across America. They use tons of energy and most of it goes up the stack and is wasted. Each plant should be refocused to capture all the benefit from energy being used. The heat that goes up and out the smoke stack could be used to heat greenhouses and fish ponds. There are plants are all over America. Large enough green houses in large enough quantity would reduce energy consumption. First it would be maximizing the energy that is used. Secondly it would reduce the need to transport food clear across America. When people are eating vegetables and fruit that is hauled three thousand miles from California or Florida to New York it is a waste. Could we totally eliminate the need to haul it. Not really but it could make a significant dent. That left over heat could be used to heat ponds for fish. This would reduce the need to haul fish thousands of miles from the ocean. It would also reduce the need to have boats burning fuel trying to find contaminated fish in the oceans.

#3 Legalize and Create Sin Taxes on "All Drugs,"  that includes all medicines.
       People are forced to sacrifice all they ever made or had just to end their pain and die with dignity, because of ignorant, unenforceable and outdated laws that try to legislate moraliey.
      This one will go over big. Try and keep an open mind read it all the way through and then chew on it awhile before writing me off as a nut case or pro drugs. I am neither, though some may question on the first. To start with think about this. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp plants on their farms. Why did they do it? Hemp can be made into a wide variety of products like rope. It could replace most of the nylon and other products made from fossil fuels. They can even make bio diesel from hemp. Canvas(root word cannabis, Mr. Webster said that not me) bags and hemp tarps could replace the ones made from fossil fuels. Oh yes, it is biodegradable. The strands of it could be used as filler in most fiberglass products. That would replace a lot of need for fossil fuels. The very respectable Popular Science magazine has an article on a car that the entire body is made from hemp fiber. Check out the March 2011 issue if you do not believe me. The products listed here would not only reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. They would create jobs. Hemp is basically a weed it will grow most anywhere. It could be grown in medians of highways and drainage ditches. That would free up land that is good to grow much needed food crops. The shortage of food world wide demands we find ways to stop using consumable crops to produce bio fuels. It is a misallocation of resources that needs to be addressed just as do the economic and manpower problems that are facing the world as whole.
    Some will say, “Hey it is illegal.” Well legalize it. The whole issue is a moral one. America’s fight over moral injustices started before the country was even born. The Boston Tea Party was about taxation without representation. The Constitution has been changed because of moral injustices several times. Slavery was a moral issue. How can there be 3/5 of a person. It is and was just wrong. Why did they put it in the Constitution. Had they realized the cost in lives to correct that moral issue, would it have made a difference. If they had not compromised there would have been no Constitution and no United States. That is why they put in a way to amend the Constitution. They knew their would be problems down the road. Women’s right to vote was a moral problem. How can people be equal if they do not have equal rights. Oh Yes and what about prohibition. They passed it and then they repealed it. Mistakes are made. Anything that infringes on a persons right to live as they choose is wrong. As long as it does not infringe on others rights. There is a saying I like, "Your rights end, where mine begin." The government allowing their drugs of choice to be legal and discriminating against others is wrong. Prohibition should have proved something to America, but evidently it did not. You can not legislate morality. Native Americans had ceremonies which used some of the banned plants, but now they are liable to jail time if they follow their traditions.
      America calls itself a Christian nation, but it does nothing for many of the people who have problems. Incarcerating them is certainly not the answer. Offering them hope and showing them a better way to live by example is the way to change America. If people raise themselves up to live by a higher standard it will not matter if bad choices are available. If Christians are not going to reach out and help those that need help they should at least not make their lives more miserable by stuffing their hypocritical self righteous ideas on them.
     Why should all drugs be legalized.  First drugs would be clean and not kill as many people. People die from contaminated drugs every year. The dealers put anything they want in the drug to increase their profits. When legalized the government can tax the heck out of it. All the way to the gates of hell. That is just my opinion. The Bible said man has all herbs for his use. Surely God knew some plants could kill man, just as he knew some had medicinal values that would help heal or relieve pain. Figuring out what did and does what is man’s problem. Each person has to make his own choice about drugs.
     Spinach is legal and green and supposedly good for you, but there is no room for it on my plate. What does that first sentence have to do with anything. Well it is all about choices. The government loves to play the fear card. Think about this if you will. Now some people may disagree, but I think most are like me. If they legalize pot tomorrow am I going to go out and buy pot. Not lately. I don’t smoke and am not about to start. I don’t drink or do other drugs either, unless they are prescribed for my health. So why would anyone start just because they made it legal. The only thing making it legal is going to change is that it can be taxed and the price will collapse.  If anybody can grow it why would they pay ridiculous amounts for it.  It is illegal now and it certainly does not seem to be stopping anyone that wants to do it from doing it.  All it is doing, is creating bunches of jobs for prison guards, that I am paying for. It is putting a burden on the medical system that you and I are also paying for. At least if they taxed it the money from the idiots using it could pay the bills instead of expecting me to. Oh yes and what of all the law enforcement people that could chase real criminals. Of course if it did not cost so darn much maybe the dopers would not have to rip off law abiding citizens. Finally if there is no money to be made in it the dealers will have to find other ways to make a living. That would be sad wouldn’t it.
      In closing I would like to put in a funny about a conversation with my grandfather way back in the sixties. He heard me and my cousin arguing about why pot was illegal. We were both fresh back from Vietnam. He put in his two bits. Pot was not illegal till 1934 he told us. He said lots of people smoked it during the Prohibition era. When prohibition ended the alcohol companies were not getting their business back and the booze companies lobbied to make it illegal so they could get their business back. My grandfather was born in 1892 and served in the First World War. He drove a team of mules and hauled supplies to the front. He said they hauled an awful lot of rope to the front. Hemp of course. My grandfather never lied to me that I know of and I believe what he said. It makes sense if you think about it. Hope you enjoyed the side trip with that little side story.
#4  The Four Day Week, Save Energy and Create Jobs.
       Another way and more practical for America to save energy and money would be to go to the four day work week. It would create jobs. They could maybe go to ten hour days and keep the forty hour week or maybe cut it to thirty two hours. Think of the savings. Just what would be saved in fuel from parking millions of buses one day a week.
       It could be sold as a benefit. States could argue they do not have to give any raises for a long time. Some people would argue that it would create a child care problem. This will come up again when I get to the internet. Well what would be wrong with a parent staying home and taking care of the children. The median or average income in the United States is supposedly $33,000 dollars. (Which by the way is $400 less than it was twenty years ago. We are making progress aren’t we.) Based on a forty hour week that would be almost $16 an hour. If they raised the minimum wage to that level maybe families could be families again. Latch key kids which live lives with a lack of direction in the home are a lot of what has created the problems we have in American society today. The savings in energy is only one reason to do it.
#5 Home Schooling on the Internet.
       With the arrival of the internet kids can be home schooled on the internet. It is possible. The thing is we have to make that choice. Are we going to wait till gas hits ten dollars a gallon to do it. It would cut down on the need for schools and busing which would save money for the states to pay wages to other employees. Hopefully the jobs created by the “One for 20/80 program” will increase the tax base and take some of the burden off of the states and make them independent of the Federal government. The truth is many parents do not want to stay home with their kids.  The moral collapse in America is partly from all the broken homes.   Many who are married do not want to be married. They are married because it was “the right thing to do”
       Testing systems will need to be set up to make sure students are in fact learning. Kids who do not want to learn are not going to learn whether they are in school or home school. Sports could be changed to community after school systems and done on a volunteer basis. Are we going to balance the budget or create jocks for the professional teams to scrape up and pay ridiculous salaries to.
      #6 Restructure the Heavy Trucking Industry
      Another way to save tons of energy would be to make a lot of the long haul trucks pull tandem trailers. Not the short thirty foot types we normally see in double units. The key would be to use tandem 48 and 53 foot trailers. It is already being done in NY on the turnpikes and in Montana and Oregon. The catch is the state gets a fee for allowing it. The fact that the trucking companies do it proves it will work. In the past I asked Wal-Marts transportation manager why they did not adapt it. The manager replied they do it where they can. Many states do not allow it. It would only work on the interstate highway system. Areas to break the trucks into single units and assemble the doubles would have to be built near the exit and entrance ramps. That equals jobs. Equipment would have to be modified. That equals jobs. The technology is already available. It would just be a matter of implementing it. The present weight restrictions per axle would still be used and would avoid damage to the infrastructure. It interested me when I was trucking. There is a lot of freight that is light enough that even with two trailers the truck would be under the legal maximum for a single unit which is 80,000 pounds. My specialty was kitchen cabinets and other high volume low density freight. A truck fully loaded with two trailers hauling cabinets, desks, tables, appliances and many other things would be under 70,000 pounds. It would reduce the highway congestion. The energy savings would be very significant. The above ideas are just a few ways that energy and costs could be cut.
#7 Exempt Doctors and Nurses Malpractice Claims.
       My final suggestion is another extreme one but it needs to be addressed. The insurance companies and lawyers are what keeps driving up American medical costs. This may sound drastic but think about it. Instead of having a medical lottery which is what we now have. The philosophy being get rich by accident. How about if all medical personnel, mainly doctors and nurses who take a hypocritical oath are exempt from paying taxes on their first million dollars of medically job related income. These people take high risks daily to save lives and swear an oath to save lives. This would create and incentive to dedicate a persons life to helping others. They would also be exempt from being sued. All hospitals should be made non profit businesses so they do not have to profit from peoples misery. The money doctors and nurses make from investments and incidents outside of the medical field would still be open for taxes and lawsuits. Each state would have to establish a review board and if there is a case where the person should be compensated for malpractice or whatever the board will make the award. It will would be based on that persons income and needs to live not on the get rich lawsuit plans. The board would also have the right to remove licenses from people who are criminally negligent. The need for malpractice insurance would be eliminated. Companies that make medicines and supplies would not be exempt from lawsuits.
Saving America is going to take Americans getting involved and doing something about the problems. In studying the Great Depression a couple things came to my attention. The twenty five percent unemployment at its peak did not really bother me. If I have come to where I do not have a job I have always managed to create one to tide me over. The first thing that bothered me is that it took almost three and a half years from the high to the low, we ain’t there yet. Second, when the market fell from its high to its low it lost over 89% of its value, which would make an equivalent market bottom today around 1560. Thirdly back then it was big business and the banks that failed and the government was somewhat solvent. The biggest days loss on the market was almost three times the national debt at that time. The government was solid enough financially to whether the storm. Unfortunately this time it is the government that is bankrupt and everybody else is doomed to follow them into the abyss they have created.

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