JUXTAPOSING THE EXCUSE WITH THE CONDEMNATION

Frederick County Poor Farm in Virginia, United States (from here). When they made stupid decisions, Americans use to find themselves either in a poorhouse or on a poor farm. With the entire country making dumb decisions, we won’t have that luxury.

My congressman is Rob Wittman. I suppose I could do a lot worse. I use to be in Gerry Connolly’s district. Still, I am disgusted with the supposedly Republican led Congress, and news like this does not provide cause for confidence.

So what is the excuse we get from Congress. Here is the email Wittman sent out Saturday.

Weekly Update: Top 8 VA-01 Priorities in the Ominbus
By Rob Wittman
March 24, 2018

This week, Congress passed a critical funding bill that finally provides increased, stable funding for our military. More than that though, this bill funded many of the priorities of the constituents of the First Congressional District. Here are the eight reasons why I voted for this spending package:

1. It pledges to rebuild our military. I believe it is our primary constitutional responsibility to provide for the common defense. In 2017, we have had 80 military casualties during peace time training and operations, and just last week we lost two more sailors due to failed equipment during a training exercise. This is, in part, a direct result of the lack of resources available for training, maintenance, modernization, and other essential readiness programs. As Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, I have been working tirelessly to make sure our men and women in uniform receive the resources they need to be successful. This legislation finally delivers the biggest increase in defense funding in 15 years and provides a much-deserved pay raise for our service members.

2. It fully funds the Chesapeake Bay Program. The Chesapeake Bay is critical to the environmental and economic health of our region. And we have seen the success of the Bay Program through clearer water, more oysters and more blue crabs, demonstrating that the federal and multi-state partnership to restore the Bay is working. I fought to have this program fully funded, and I’m proud that it was ultimately included.

3. It supports our Veterans. H.R. 1625 funds the biggest pay raise to our service members in eight years and includes increased funding for the Veterans Administration (VA). These resources will go towards opioid abuse treatment, better facilities, and increased quality of care so that we can create a health care system that works for our active duty military and veterans.

4. It increases access to rural broadband. Getting Virginians access to internet is one of my top priorities. High speed internet access, or broadband, is critical to economic growth, job creation, education, and healthcare. We can no longer leave Americans in rural areas on the sidelines.  This funding bill provides more than $685 million for expansion of broadband service – which is approximately $625 million above fiscal year 2017. Of that money, $52 million will go towards Distance Learning and Telemedicine grants to help rural communities, like many in VA-01, connect to educational and health care services and help address the opioid epidemic in rural America. It also funds a new broadband loan and grant pilot program issued by the Secretary of Agriculture to serve truly unserved areas.

5. It invests America’s youth. We must examine the skills needed in today’s workforce and apply real-world requirements to academic curriculum. In Congress, we have been working to implement policies that emphasize the importance of skills and education in building a strong national workforce. Investing in workforce development is critical to bridging the skills gap for our youth; this spending bill boosts funding for workforce development by including a $50 million increase for apprenticeship programs and a $75 million increase for career and technical education programs.

 6. It protects our children. My wife is an elementary school teacher, so I hear first-hand how her students have been affected by recent acts of violence. It is absolutely critical that our children feel safe when they are at school. This funding package allocates nearly $1 billion in mental health programs and includes two House-passed bills, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) and the STOP School Violence Act, that take action to bolster school safety. It also includes $75 million for school safety grants.

7. It works to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure. To find an example of the classical infrastructure updates this country needs, we need look no further than the First District’s own Robert O. Norris Bridge. After reviewing several studies and speaking with constituents from the area, I wrote to the Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao regarding the condition of the Robert O. Norris Bridge and asked that she consider repair of the bridge as a priority. Serving around 8,000 vehicles on an average weekday, this bridge is critical to the economic vitality of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula. Constant repairs to the Norris Bridge, now over 60 years old, slow traffic, block lanes, and close roads. This bill includes $21.2 billion in new funding for long-overdue improvements to our nation’s infrastructure. The Norris is bridge is just one many projects in the First District I believe needs attention with this infrastructure funding.

 8. It combats the growing opioid epidemic. In October, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. With nearly $4 billion appropriated to fighting this epidemic, this is the largest federal investment to date. These dollars will be coming to treatment, prevention, and law enforcement programs that will save the lives of individuals across the nation.

Although a huge step forward for our military, I’m still extremely concerned about increased domestic spending levels without addressing the fundamental problem of runaway, autopilot spending. I will continue to demand and support actions to reduce spending, especially autopilot spending. However, we must first address our readiness crisis and to properly fund our military. Our military needs this spending package that fully supports our Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, and Airmen.  We have a lot of work to do to get Washington’s spending habits under control and to make sure we don’t burden future generations. I am here, ready to work with my colleagues on these critical issues and will continue to fight for the priorities of the First District

Note that Congress is still preparing huge bills like this 2,200 page monster without following regular order. The Senate and House leadership just prepared the bills, post them at the last minute and demand a vote.

Did Wittman address that issue in his email? No. He just talked about all the wonderful spending. Then he fretted a bit about the fact we are borrowing money to pay for all this wonderful spending. But, don’t worry, he is fighting for the priorities of the First District…….. Does the First District’s priorities require borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars from nations like China?

Why are we not concerned what this man and others are doing to our children? How much debt do we have to bury our children and grandchildren in until we take notice?

Consider this post by John Branyan.

A Trillion Dollars Won’t Fix Your Problem

It’s been said that money can’t buy love.

I say, who needs love when you have a trillion dollars?

A trillion bucks!

That’s what our government is going to spend in an “omnibus” bill.

Omnibus is like “mad money” or “slush fund” to you and me.

Our government doesn’t like budgeting and fiscal planning.

It’s easier to set aside a pile of money…

…the size of Utah…

…and label it “Miscellaneous”.

I understand.

It isn’t their money.

Heck, it isn’t anybody’s money.

It’s magical money that doesn’t actually exist anywhere.

The government hasn’t spent real money for a long time.

They just increase the debt.

(continued here)

What is our money good for? We need it to pay taxes. Otherwise, it is worthless. Those green bills, regardless of their denomination, don’t represent anything material. What they represent, if anything, is our faith in our government. If our leaders cannot control their spending — cannot even prepare a budget — why should we have any faith in them? If we elected them — and we did — why should we have any faith in our country? If we have no faith in our country, what is our money worth? Are our incompetent leaders actually buying anything that anyone needs or just wasting trillions so that they can steal billions?

US House of Representatives District 1 (vpap.org) shows how the 2018 election is shaping up in the First District. Unfortunately, Wittman does not have an opponent for the Republican nomination, and the Democrats competing for the Democratic Party’s nomination are flaming Liberals (see 1st District Dems find a lot to agree on in Stafford debate (fauquier.com)). So if our luck does not get any worse, we will be stuck with Wittman for another two years.

Please vote.

NOTE: Just before the 2018 general election we are probably going to have another one of these big spending, budget busting, omnibus spending bill. Trump has promised Congress had better do this one right. Let’s make sure we pay attention and hold our leaders accountable.

IT IS OUR MONEY OUR LEADERS ARE WASTING.

Don’t you think it is time we realized that and started holding them accountable?

31 thoughts on “JUXTAPOSING THE EXCUSE WITH THE CONDEMNATION

  1. I’m amazed at the level of intellectualism here. If all of us here we to define ourselves as a group, I wonder how we would realistically describe the commonalities. More importantly, how would we define our differences with other groups.

    For example, with the level of intellect and education being displayed here, how much does any of us really presently have in common with the daily political thinking of the working poor? I know, it’s easy to dismiss on the one hand that the far less educated and intellectual working poor person doesn’t really think but only responds to political bribes, or on the other hand, we may recognize our grand intellectualism as a luxury that most working poor and middle class people find ridiculous or ostentatious so we have to do their political thinking for them. However, the human animal, whether intellectually capable of expressing it or not is an inherently political animal. And if the working poor and lower middle classes become frustrated enough with the obvious power and wealth concentrations that are going on in this country and the world, how do you think that political frustration is likely to express itself? Do you really think that those economic frustrations will manifest in the grandiose intellectualism about individual rights debates or over moral universalism verses moral relativism, or do you think it more likely it will express itself in a groupthink that corresponds to their shared feelings of frustration?

    As a group of upper middle class, well educated intellectuals, what will be our group response to this threat, and do you think such a frustrated mob is more likely to respond to the self serving intellectualism of either the Left or the Right in our group, or instead to the emotional manipulation of the demagogue who rises out of either the Left or the Right, out of either Neocollectivism or Neofascism, or out of something even newer?

    And finally, if that happens, what will we do to preserve our group, what of our high minded moral intellectualism will we sacrifice to preserve order? Do you think maybe this may be already happening here with Donald Trump and with other demagogues around the world?

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    1. @tsalmon

      Working poor? This from a guy who is the son of NCO? I don’t know about you, but I consider myself ordinary enough. Yeah. I pay attention to politics and religion, and too many Americans lose themselves in the boob tube, but I did that once too.

      Do I have a low estimation of human beings? Sort of. Think about what we celebrate today. Today is Good Friday. Today we remember Jesus died for us after being tortured until He died. Today we remember that we because we sin, and because God rightfully hates sin, Jesus redeemed us by doing what we could not do. He lived a perfect life. Then in obedience to God, He died for us.

      Yet God loves us. So we must be worth something.

      So now your argument has become one of pure pragmatism? How do we stop the dumb, ignorant, group-thinking lower classes from rioting and overthrowing our society? Next thing you will be offering up the historical inevitably of Progressive Socialist Marxism.

      Most people survive by doing what they know how to do. So long as they have the right skills and the strength to apply those skills, they prosper. If their skills don’t work, they have to adapt. Our adaptability depends upon our strength, preparation, and the availability of resources including time. Socialist societies may have the strength and the resources, but they often don’t have the capacity to prepare, to reeducate themselves swiftly enough. Changing the direction of a huge bureaucracy is painfully difficult, and socialist societies are hugely bureaucratic. That is why most innovation comes from small businesses.

      You worried about the working poor and lower middle classes? Then give them education vouchers and let them figure out who they want to educate their children and what they want them to learn. Parents love their children, not government officials. The Department of Education is not going to help these people. State government education departments won’t help them. Huge school districts have just gotten to the point where they think it is more important to indoctrinate their charges in Liberal Democrat “isms” than it is to teach them anything. And devious politicians direct all this crap.

      You want to help the working poor and lower middle classes? Then get the boot of government bureaucrats off their necks and let them run their own lives.

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      1. “Working poor? This from a guy who is the son of NCO? I don’t know about you, but I consider myself ordinary enough. Yeah. I pay attention to politics and religion, and too many Americans lose themselves in the boob tube, but I did that once too.”

        Perhaps, but we are not what our parents were anymore. Unlike our parents, we both have college degrees and post graduate degrees. You have two post grad degrees, if memory serves me. As people who came of age during the Great Depression, our parents virtually worshiped FDR. They wouldn’t have voted for a Republican to save there lives. And they weren’t unusual. I point them out because they were representative of an entire generation of working class folks who knew where, literally, their bread was buttered.

        Why do you think that is? Was it because that generation wasn’t sophisticated like us to know what was good for them? Was it because public schools failed all of them, or they weren’t willing to work and wanted government hand outs? I think not.

        Republicans have a revisionist romantic view of the class turbulence and economic disruption of the early 20th Century. Democrats have no plan for dealing with new 21st Century realities where the old remedies like unionization and free retraining don’t work or can’t keep up. Both sides are living in their intellectual ivory towers while new threats stare them in the face.

        Do you think billionaire thuggish autocrats like Putin really care about your hatred of Socialism? Do you think the rapidly increasing threat of Chinese economic hegemony cares what you or I think about centralized state control – they’re playing a completely different game than we are and they are rapidly starting to pass us up.

        We are the beneficiaries of our parents’ working mix of public and private goods and services that, not only worked for them, they knew it saved them for worse things that happened elsewhere and that had to be fought against for this mixed form of democracy AS THEY MADE IT to survive.

        But the world didn’t stand still for them and it won’t for us and yet we want to go backwards to some perfect past, some perfect system, that never was. It was always a pragmatic balance, and whatever happens next that actually succeeds for democracy will be some balance as well.

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        1. @tsalmon

          Here you run around accusing me of tribalism, and then you promote this crap. And the irony is that you don’t think you you are going backwards, but that is exactly what you are doing.
          😣

          Class warfare is not new. It is as old as civilization, and it just destroys societies.

          Did FDR buy votes? Yep! Did his economic policies prolong the Great Depression? Yep! Class warfare does that.

          Read “Politics” by Aristotle. Karl Marx’s communist Utopia was just another excuse for majoritarian tyranny, and that is all you are advocating. What is ironic, but not new, is your claim that anything else is going backwards.
          🙄

          Where does majoritarian tyranny lead? To just plain tyranny by a tyrant.

          What the founders of our nation were trying to do is break with the past. Tyranny, monarchy, oligarchy, and populations enslaved by the vanguard of the proletariat is the ordinary state of “civilized” man. Hence, the founders wrote our Constitution to prevent our republic from reverting to the past. That is where stupid schemes like Socialism lead. Socialism is all about class warfare. Our constitutional republic, which requires limited government and respect for individual rights, is designed to prevent class or factional warfare of any kind.

          When they had the Civil War, Americans failed to pay attention to the Constitution. We are failing to pay attention to the Constitution now too, and the consequences are still just as dire. Only this time the world will not wait for us to finish our feud and straighten out our mess. The oceans are not as big as they once were. So you got that much right.

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          1. Tom,

            You want to argue against Marx and class warfare, then I’m with you. What on earth are you talking about? Who do you seriously think that you are talking to? I had a sky seat on the front lines to literally watch the collapse of the Soviet Union as it happened. Did you completely miss the point of everything that I wrote?

            You say that FDR “prolonged the Depression”? What Nobel Prize laureate in economics gave you that piece of brilliance? Was it perhaps somebody who graduated with good grades from a public school and earned a ROTC scholarship? Na, someone with a government paid for education couldn’t be that smart, now could they?😉

            My point was that it doesn’t matter what self-pronounced geniuses on everything like you and I think? My point was that only we here care overmuch about what we great thinkers think. We sit in this relative opulence of opportunities that we really didn’t earn and don’t deserve or apparently appreciate.

            The bounty of this world is on loan from from God. I don’t claim to know all the answers to the complex problems of a fair distribution of God’s gifts, but like the average schmuck I know that, when a few people own most of it, something with our stewardship is terribly wrong, And eventually lots of average schmucks may, for right or for wrong, do something about it – that may be the whole lesson of the 20th Century class struggles.

            The working folks of our parent’s generation, in your reckoning were a bunch of rubes, bamboozled by FDR, Marshall and Keynes. And yet that generation did all the heavy lifting of our country at a time when sustaining the democracy we now enjoy required some real heavy lifting. You and I havent done any heavy lifting. We just suckled of the teet of the supposedly socialist State that their heavy lifting created. But now we know so much better than them, cause ya, we’re like real smart.

            Sincerely, don’t you ever wonder if we geniuses are way too full of ourselves? As you say, even wise Solomon was wise enough to be humbled by what he didn’t know. 🙃

            What you don’t seem to realize was that I am not endorcing the Zombie resurrection of the communist manifesto. What I was saying was that while both Democrats and Republicans are squabbling nonsensically about dead issues, a new corruption seems to be slouching toward Bethlehem to be born.

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          2. @tsalmon

            You are against class warfare, and you vote for Democrats, the party that promotes self-righteous identity groups? That does not make any sense.

            You say that FDR “prolonged the Depression”? What Nobel Prize laureate in economics gave you that piece of brilliance?

            You mean Paul Krugman?

            Two observations.
            –Nothing FDR did ended the Great Depression. If had just let things be, it would have ended.
            –What causes economic depressions? War and famine will do it, but stupid stuff works too.
            —Debt.
            —High rates of government taxation and spending.
            —Tariffs. See => https://citizentom.com/2008/10/06/the-best-politicians-money-can-buy/.

            When government actively INTERFERES with commerce, do you actually think you are going to get more commerce? Why would you think that? Your heart is interfering with your head, of course.

            Given who gets those Nobel prizes,……

            Notice that great thinkers, people whose readers span generations, people whose works have become classics, have something to say to us. The greatest thinker inspired the Bible. We cannot care enough about what He said. He said to love your neighbor, not to devise ways to use government power to tax him and spend his money on yourself and your cronies.

            Note the About page on this blog. I don’t write about me. Are the opinions I post mine? Sometimes I point to the classics, but, of course, I also post my own thoughts. Nevertheless, I happily invite opposition because I know I can be wrong. I just discourage making it personal.

            Here I hope to discuss ideas and issues. God and politics. Not our personal and psychiatric problems. I leave personal counseling to those who can do that face to face. That stuff doesn’t belong on a blog.

            The working folks of our parent’s generation, in your reckoning were a bunch of rubes, bamboozled by FDR, Marshall and Keynes.

            The human race has been sinning since Adam and Eve. We call our parents part of the Greatest Generation because they both encountered and created for themselves difficult problems and for the most part overcame those difficulties. However, like so many before them, they also left plenty of rubble in their wake.

            Our parents were wise enough to have second thoughts, to be concerned about the future. See the 22nd Amendment. And yes, they spoiled the Baby Boomers, and it shows.

            Sincerely, don’t you ever wonder if we geniuses are way too full of ourselves? As you say, even wise Solomon was wise enough to be humbled by what he didn’t know. 🙃

            Does it require more knowledge and wisdom to use the power and force of government to interfere righteously in other people’s lives, or is it a sign of humility when we choose to let others make their own decisions and suffer the consequences?

            Keep in mind this one idea. Just because the government does not do something to help other people does not mean nothing gets done. We can still do what people use to do more often. We can choose to be Good Samaritans. What we cannot do is force anyone else to be a Good Samaritan.

            Mitt Romney had Putin figured out some time ago, and Democrats ridiculed him. When did Democrats catch on to Putin? Was it when they needed someone to blame for their election loss? Was it when they needed an another excuse to hate Donald Trump? You tell me. How else should I interpret this newfound wisdom?

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          3. We watched Marxist romanticism crash against the rocks of human reality and fail for a number of reasons, but a notable one was that the elite that actually held the coercive dictatorship would not simply, as the Marxists predicted, fade away into an egalitarian good will where concentration of power was no longer needed. Tom, you either seem to have some Randian romantic notion about humanity or else you have no vision at all for what supposedly will happen when we have this near stateless society that you dream about. Yes, absolute power corrupts absolutely, but it is equally true that power abhors a vacuum. If you limit Democratic governmental institutions where pragmatism just doesn’t allow a void, then something worse will inexorably fill that void.

            The pragmatic beauty of the Constitution wasn’t that it limited all state power. My God, it left to the individual states the ultimate power to make people slaves and indentured servants. The pragmatism of the Constitution is that it disperses power, between states and the federal government, between branches of government, between private and public goods and services, between the investigative press and investigative law enforcement, between religion and state, and in so many other checks and balances of power between institutions that are protected at law.

            Do you seriously think that if we erode a necessary power of government that it will not be filled by something else? It’s a romantic and utopian dream on par with a Marxist utopia where each person would voluntarily take a distribution of goods and services only according to his needs, and no more. It romantically defies the cynicism about human nature that you yourself claim to profess.

            In the modern democratic state, we balance and check power, including economic power, to prevent it from becoming too absolute in any one place. We don’t trust the economic benevolence of unchecked economic domination by corporations and individuals any more than we trust the benevolence of unchecked presidents. (Just look at Russia and China if you want to see what that looks like). And the balance is never static.

            Globalization, AI, robotics (and who knows how many other forces we don’t know about) are eroding and challenging the national and international institutional checks and balances that made up the post WWII liberal order since the demise of the Cold War. Those economic and governmental power vacuums WILL BE FILLED. The only question is whether it will be through artificial mechanisms that institutionally check and balance the natural aggregation of power, or whether the void will be filled by something far more absolute and autocratic.

            Class warefare was a way to define the old game and it is still relevant to the new game, but we are far beyond just that being the ideological issue. I’m just as critical of Democrats as I am of Republicans for being clueless. The fact that this is even a partisan issue just demonstrates that cluelessness. The fact that either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders pretends to be anti-globalism in different ways won’t make the problems of globalization go away.

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          4. @tsalmon

            Now we are back to the notion that Conservatives hate government and want to eradicate it. Either I agree with you or I must be an anarchist. If you cannot figure out the difference between a Conservative and an anarchist, it is because you don’t want to know the difference. That is not a problem I can fix. I have tried, and I can’t do it.

            Go look at the 9th and the 10th Amendments. Those amendments were specifically designed to stop power hungry people like Liberal Democrat politicians from endlessly expanding the power of the Federal Government.

            Why has that expansion of power thus far succeeded? That’s because even smart and well educated people like you don’t understand the basics about the Constitution. Previous generations made a huge mistake. We put politicians in charge of education. So you have been educated by bureaucrats appointed by politicians. Yet to listen to you probably think I am the a mind-numbed robot. Yet who is there who could have done that? Thomas Paine? Alexis De Tocqueville? Aristotle? Jesus Christ?

            Does power abhor a vacuum? Yes. That’s why this quote is so popular.

            Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. (from => https://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/eternal-vigilance-price-liberty-spurious-quotation)

            We the People must protect our liberty. We must fill that vacuum. Otherwise, as you say, we will lose our liberty.

            If you limit Democratic governmental institutions where pragmatism just doesn’t allow a void, then something worse will inexorably fill that void.

            You do realize what you are saying? You have just said liberty is a pipe dream.

            What is totalitarianism? Totalitarianism is called totalitarianism because where it exists the People have no rights, none at all. Government decides everything. Instead of the People accepting restrictions upon their liberty so that they do not interfere with each others rights, Government officials tell the People what to do, and they can do nothing except what Government officials tell them to do. In a totalitarian state, Government completely fills whatever space it chooses to fill, and it leaves no space unfilled. Power mad rulers will tolerate no challenges to their power.

            Hence as the 9th and 10th Amendments explicitly state, the Constitution limits the power of the Federal Government to what the Constitution says it can do. What power and authority the Constitution does not give to the Federal Government,…. Well, here are the 9th and 10th Amendments.

            Amendment IX

            The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

            Amendment X

            The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

            Does our Federal System also disperse power and set up checks and balances? Yes, but those mechanisms don’t work either if we don’t understand the basics about the Constitution.

            If the Constitution only means whatever some guys and gals in black robes say it means, it is useless to us. The Constitution does not belong to our leaders; it belongs to We the People. The Constitution is a device We the People use to control the power of our leaders. When We the People cease to respect the Constitution and insist our leaders abide by the Constitution, the Constitution has no authority or power. Whatever power and authority the Constitution has, We the People must give.

            To make our Constitution work — because we are so weak — we must plead to God for His help and His wisdom. Look at human history. The fact our constitutional republic exists is an anomaly. So it is no surprise we have trouble making it work. Nevertheless, with God’s help we can.

            What about this observation?

            The pragmatic beauty of the Constitution wasn’t that it limited all state power. My God, it left to the individual states the ultimate power to make people slaves and indentured servants.

            You do realize at one time slavery was considered normal? When the framers wrote the Constitution, many were trying to get rid of slavery. See my response to this comment => https://citizentom.com/2018/03/28/the-purpose-of-the-census-is-to-count-everybody/comment-page-1/#comment-80048.

            Note also Article IV, Section 4.

            The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.

            What does this mean exactly? What does it say?

            Liked by 1 person

          5. “Does our Federal System also disperse power and set up checks and balances? Yes, but those mechanisms don’t work either if we don’t understand the basics about the Constitution.“

            The average law school student takes a year long course in Constitutional law. Constitutional law then is some part of virtually every other course criminal law to civil procedure. And that is just the novice requirement for a field that requires years of study and practice if one wants to be a specialist in constitutional law. All that for a document that one can read thoroughly through in a fairly short setting. Why do you suppose that is?

            There is this old joke.
            Question: “How many lawyers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?”
            Answer: “How many can you afford?”

            There is definitely a little truth to the belief that lawyer make the law more complicated than it needs to be, just as there is truth to the belief that sometimes rocket scientists make rockets more complex than they need to be. However, the real reason for its complexity is that our system of government is created and defined in its processes, not by just by the device that empowers that process.

            For example, the First Amendment free speech protections are fairly clear and explicit, but we both know it’s not that simple. The actual answers to the questions of the constitutional power of assertion of free speech and the limitations on n that right are to be found in the holdings of thousands of cases and controversies where that right was asserted and a claim of infringement had to be defined, arbitrated and enforced at law.

            It’s not a perfect system. The beauty of this complex process is that it’s imperfections and it’s tendency to overreach are never completely unchecked and unbalanced.

            The Constitution is not some perfect ideological manifesto Tom. It’s imperfect and ongoing process based upon pragmaticism.

            You want to have sweeping moral opinions. Well, that’s your right, I suppose. The only thing that matters to our system of government, howeve, is whether or not your point view ever got its day in court.

            Liked by 1 person

          6. @tsalmon

            Back to pragmatism again. 🤔 I suppose that is why your comment seems largely unresponsive. Think about what it means to interpret the Constitution “pragmatically”. What the Constitution actually says is just a stumbling block in the way of getting what you want from the judges.

            Well, since you are talking about rocket scientists, I guess I ought to use this translation.

            Ecclesiastes 7:29 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

            29 Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

            Actually, rocket scientists have a very strong incentive to keep things simple. The more complex we make a rocket, the more difficult it is to get the darn thing into orbit with a decent payload. Hence, the Space Shuttle furnished a fine platform for researching various devices, but it failed disastrously as an operational system. It cost to much, was too complicated, and it could not get a big satellite onto a polar orbit.

            Congress, government bureaucrats, special interests and researchers designed the Space Shuttle, not people who just wanted to make money or military officers desperate to get their systems on orbit.

            Because it was so inefficient, the Space Shuttle should have been retired shortly after the Columbia (the first one to fly) was built, but the Space Shuttle was the heart of a government program, and vampires are easier to kill.

            As it is, Obama effectively ended our government’s manned spaceflight program. That is quite amazing! A Democrat? Who killed a government program?

            Trump may restart our manned spaceflight program, but I hope not. At this point, I think the private sector is doing better work.

            Happy Easter to you and yours!

            Liked by 2 people

    2. TSalmon “As a group of upper middle class, well educated intellectuals, what will be our group response to this threat, and do you think such a frustrated mob is more likely to respond to the self serving intellectualism of either the Left or the Right in our group, or instead to the emotional manipulation of the demagogue who rises out of either the Left or the Right, out of either Neocollectivism or Neofascism, or out of something even newer?”

      Before I answer, who are you referring to as the “working poor”? Mechanics? Small business owners? Nursing assistants? Illegal immigrants?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It just smacks a bit of “we keep such rarified company, what will those potato surfs eventually do when they catch on?”
        I can’t vouch for the company you keep, but I’m not really in the Ivory tower crowd.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Perhaps not anon, but you also must realize that there is a pretty good size swath of Americans who don’t write or critically think anywhere near was well as you obviously do.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I be glad when we get back to the good old days when you can blame the Democrats for everything wrong with the world because they are actually in charge of at least one branch of government.😏

    Like

    1. The funny thing is this post has much more to say about Republicans, but you think it is about Democrats.

      In a way you are right. Democrat initiatives are far and away responsible for most government spending. FDR initiated Social Security. LBJ started Medicare. If your party would stop adding to the spending and make the crap they created work without bankrupting us, that would be good. Of course, that is not going to happen.

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      1. “The funny thing is this post has much more to say about Republicans, but you think it is about Democrats.
        In a way you are right. Democrat initiatives are far and away responsible for most government spending. FDR initiated Social Security. LBJ started Medicare.”

        I like those programs. Support for them over the years has been fairly bipartisan. But sure, let’s just focus on the good work of Republicans. Republican George W. Bush signed the multi-trillion dollar Medicare drug Bill, Republican Richard Nixon started the EPA, Republican Dwight Eisenhower started the superhighway system, and the second largest governmental organization, the VA, was started by Republican Herbert Hoover.😊

        Like

        1. @tsalmon

          Is bankruptcy a bipartisan project? Seems like it. Have you noticed I don’t have much good to say about some Republicans.?

          Some Republicans were Progressives, at least with respect what the term use to mean. Since Calvin Coolidge, none except Ronald Reagan was especially Conservative. Eisenhower was more Conservative than not, but he was not a Conservative.

          Republican George W. Bush is a self-declared compassionate Conservative. If you have to call yourself a compassionate Conservative, you are not a Conservative. The Bush’s are Establishment Republicans. Did you notice no one wanted to vote for Jeb? No one.

          The EPA is not a health, education, or welfare program. It’s basic purpose is to protect us from pollution. Is the EPA Constitutional? Since pollution does not stop at the border of a state, I suppose there is some basis for regulating polluters under the interstate commerce clause, but pollution almost certainly has nothing whatsoever to do with the intent of that clause. So the 10th Amendment should prohibit the Federal Government’s role in the regulation of pollution. It doesn’t. When the EPA started regulating wetlands, it is obvious people don’t give a damn what the Constitution says. They just want control.

          If you think ignoring the Constitution is a great idea, then you must love Nixon.

          Eisenhower was one of our better presidents, but I don’t think he understood much about economics. Since the Constitution authorizes the construction of postal roads, it is fairly obvious the Interstate Highway System is constitutional. Unfortunately, Eisenhower made idea of “freeways popular, and that has been a disaster. Initially, Congress and the States put the Interstates where they were needed, and they worked well. Then the graft started. Instead of responding to user demand, Congress and state legislatures now build “freeways” where special interests such as developers want them. That results in roads that are called “parkways” that quickly become jammed with stoplights. At the same time, taxes that were ostensibly collected to pay for infrastructure gets to diverted to social programs or pet projects.

          Thus we have lots of concrete and asphalt out there, but very few expressway. Because the roads are “free” people buy homes far from work. Then when more homes and more stoplights are added, they wonder what happened. Thanks to “freeways”, almost everywhere in America it takes a heroic effort to commute downtown.

          You think the VA is a good idea? It may be Constitutional, but it doesn’t work well. Herbert Hoover also had a key role in starting the Great Depression. He acted like a Progressive. Hoover became a Conservative AFTER he lost the election to FDR. WWII ended FDR’s expansion of social programs and the Great Depression.

          Truman and Eisenhower actually had some budget surpluses. When FDR left office, the spending spree ceased for awhile.

          When Socialism produces poverty, why do you keep advocating it? You don’t like people being poor. You think we should have the opportunity to learn and to get medical care when we need it. All that requires prosperity, not Socialism.

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          1. Tom,

            You must realize that the progressive response that started with Teddy Roosevelt was an ethical alternative to the gut level attractiveness of Marxism. Given the desperation of the working class poor in the rapid industrialization of that time, the notion that FDR was bribing them with there own money, money they had never had, would have been considered ludicrous. Although it has an element of truth to it now, I think for the working poor and lower middle class, it’s still pretty ludicrous.

            Like it or not, the progressive notion that the wealth of production could with a few social programs and collective bargaining laws that did little harm and actually helped capitalism, head off the rise of the more violent alternatives of Marxism and Fascism actually worked.

            All this talk of bankrupting social programs, and yet the strongest most stable economies in the world all have a balance of market capitalism and such progressive social programs. You think that is a coincidence? Maybe, but it’s one hell of a coincidence.

            It really doesn’t matter though. You are fighting the last class war in your imagination when the world has moved on to other problems. Globalization, robotics, AI – these are causing new moral issues and new inequities. We in the intellectual elite can sit here arguing over old struggles, but the future keeps coming regardless.

            Like

          2. @tsalmon

            Yeah! Progressive Socialist Marxism is historically inevitable. Nothing we can do will stop it. Do you realize how foolish it is to predict the future? When self proclaimed prophets did that and their predictions were wrong, do you know what the people of ancient Israel did to them?

            What accounts mostly for extreme distributions of wealth? Government. When businesses, NGO’s, labor unions, and so forth can buy influence, they do so to advantage themselves at everyone else’s expense.

            Have you noticed how many rich people are Democrats? And you don’t wonder why?

            Compare what happened in America and in the United Kingdom with what happened in France during the so-called Age of Enlightenment. The United Kingdom became more egalitarian. The American colonies threw off the tyranny of King George. France, however, experienced the Reign of Terror. Then Napoleon restored order and set about conquering Europe.

            Why the differences? Those who led in America and in the United Kingdom remembered to be Christians. That did not happen in France.

            When you have time, I suggest you look into the First Great Awakening. Major leaders of this revival included George Whitefield, John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards. These were not perfect men, but they and others like them preached a message that changed people. People, renewed in Christ, willingly changed the institutions that governed them so that they were more just, and those who been more materially blessed willingly helped their neighbors.

            When charity is an act of love, the recipients, out of gratitude, are changed. They try to follow the example the have seen. When “charity” comes from greed, the recipients have been paid off. Unfortunately, the recipients often follow that example too.

            Like

    1. “I may be wrong, but I believe tourism is included in the overall calculations of trade deficits and balances.”

      When services are included as an export, yes, tourism is included (so are copyrights, royalties, ect). Tourism is our biggest service “export” (we have a lot of visitors…unlike goods exports, tourism “exports” are in country).
      But if we’re speaking of imports/exports as goods, not services, tourism is not included.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. To clarify, five countries make up over half of all U.S. imports.
        They are China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, and Germany.

        https://www.thebalance.com/u-s-imports-by-year-and-by-country-3306259

        If we start doing some math and say…”well, do they visit here? That’s tourism exports by golly!” the math changes. Seems pretty clear to me it’s better to make things and have industry to export than rely on the tourism trade as an “export”.
        And, again, there’s the security concern.
        Today there are relatively few factories in the US capable of turning out simple parts for manufactured goods. They went out of business because they were outbid a few cents per thousand units by foreign factories. During WWII the US almost brought German industrial production to a halt by bombing the ball bearing factories in Schweinfurt Germany. Today, American industrial production depends on parts made overseas that could be simply cut off.
        It’s not just an American problem of course. It’s worldwide.
        At any rate, I think there are a lot of good reasons for bringing back some of our industry.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, articles like those links you add definite help to balance all my platitudes and rhetoric.
          😄

          Seriously. Thanks for all those links. Interesting stuff.

          Like

  3. My guess is politicians know that if the USA does not stimulate our economy and get people working for livable wages and paying taxes again, the end result will be worse than the National Debt.

    The previous administration debt accumulated to pay welfare costs for unemployed and subsidies people making low non livable wages that require government subsidies to people who do not make livable wages and therefore never pay taxes.

    In other words, the previous debt was spiraling upward with no end in sight if people never make enough money to pay taxes.

    If Trumps stimulus fails, it will be a reverse spiral of huge inflation and the dollars being paid back to debtors will be worth less value.

    Politicians won’t say this because it will panic the markets and lower living standard same as in a depression..

    If the stimulus fails, government social benefit payments will be drastically cut.

    Regards and goodwill blogging..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The tax cut worked because the cut in the corporate tax rate made American corporations more competitive. The next thing that is needed is to cut government spending on social/welfare programs. That diverts dollars that could be more efficiently spent privately.

      Stimulus spending does not work. If I had private business and spent a ton of money on birthday parties for relatives, would that stimulate my business? Not much.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good comparison of Obama’s stimulus,
        ( birthday cakes for relatives ) vs. Trump’s (
        (manufacturing jobs and reciprocal trade )

        Now if we could only get our of war costs, “everything is beautiful)

        Seems so simple, same as the difference between wise and foolish . Yet that remains elusive and complicated.

        Why?

        Regards and goodwill blogging.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think it’s a great comparison, too (birthday cakes for relatives= jobs in administration).
          Administrative costs are crushing and pretty much the definition of counterproductive. They’re the epitome of government mandated private sector spending. Anyone who has dealt with military contracts (especially those who were there when the push to private contracts occurred) knows how this goes on the small scale…it’s just a larger scale.

          Consider for example the ratio of teachers to students hasn’t gone down much at all, but the ratio of administrators to students has shot up. Most large public school systems spend more than half their budget on administrators. Similarly, class sizes at most colleges and universities haven’t changed that much — but administrative staff have exploded.
          Consider this: There are 2.5 people handling insurance claims for every doctor.
          Construction sites have always had a lot of people standing around for every one actually working the machine. But now for every person operating the machine there is an army of planners, regulators, lawyers, administrative staff, consultants and so on.

          All of this would be a huge overwhelming post, but in a nutshell I think we need to concentrate on decreasing regulations and getting our industry back. True, AI has replaced a lot of jobs and will continue to do so…but when I see Arnold Schwarzenegger over in China proudly pointing to portions of the bay bridge being constructed by Chinese “craftsmen” and Chinese steel, slated to go to California (which proceeds then to fall apart from corrosion), I think we can do better.

          Doug has a post about imports asserting that if “services” are included we actually “export more” to Canada. Let’s understand what that service figure means. 43 percent of our “service exports to Canada” are the travel and tourism industry. Meaning, if more Canadians travel to the US than US people travel there, we have an “export surplus”. Tourism and Travel now make up a large percentage of our “export” industry as does agriculture. I think the problem is pretty obvious….maybe good for a place like Jamaica, but that’s not really a good trend for us. Not to denigrate the tourist industry but people don’t travel when times are tough. Furthermore, there are serious security concerns about outsourcing our industry. (I could go on a while, I’ll just end there)

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I concur, in fact Ii greatly concur.

            I saw a second grade picture of me in my classroom and counted how many students were in my class..

            My daughter is a chemistry teacher and she told me her class size will be 15 next year.

            When I told her how many where in my class, her jaw dropped.

            50 kids and one teacher.

            In other words, some subjects are more meaningful in life than others, perhaps?

            The big difference though, in my opinion, is in her class, one half hour a day we were taught religion.

            Regardds and goodwll blogging..

            Liked by 1 person

          2. @anon

            Very much appreciated this insight.

            Not to denigrate the tourist industry but people don’t travel when times are tough.

            The Democrats have a huge welfare constituency. When your idea of good times is a free Obamaphone, times are always tough.

            Liked by 1 person

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