WHAT IS BASELINE BUDGETING? IT IS A LIE WITH THE FORCE OF LAW.

Trump just submitted his budget for next year. Of course bunches people immediately trashed it. One of the complaints is all the cuts. We need to look at this complaint in particular.

Do you wonder why Congress cannot balance the budget? The answer is that our political system is now so corrupt it is almost illegal to do so. Here is how Rush Limbaugh once described the situation on his show.

CALLER: Okay. So it seems like those one-time things like TARP and bailouts and I don’t know what all, somehow got added into the annual spending, and I don’t understand that.

RUSH: Well, it’s a great question. It really is. You know, I shouldn’t say the answer is complicated because it makes sound intimidating. It really isn’t. But the reason why those one-time expenditures seemed to build on themselves is because of the budget process that’s known as “baseline budgeting,” which was begun in the 1970s, I believe. The simplest way to explain the baseline budget is the federal budget is not like your household budget.

In your household budget, if you do one (let’s hypothetically say that you do), you look at what you spent last year, you look at this current year, and you estimate as close as you can what your income is going to be. You then budget what your spending is going to be, and every year you do that starting from zero. That’s not how the federal government does it. There is a thing in the federal government called “the Current Services Baseline,” and that is the starting point every year, not zero.

There is not one government department or agency that looks at what it was given to spend every year, and then what it did spend, and is then budgeted accordingly. So let’s say that agriculture was budgeted X. I’m just gonna make up some numbers here. Let’s say the agriculture department was budgeted $100 billion and they spent $70 billion. You would think, “Okay, next year they’ll be budgeted $70 billion.”

No. Because of baseline budgeting, the more they spend, the more they will be allowed to spend or budgeted to spend the next year. The Current Services Baseline essentially — and I’m gonna cut through a bunch of legalese to explain this to you. The Current Services Baseline requires, mandates, whatever, that every line item in the federal budget be increased by anywhere from three to 10% every year, no matter what is spent on that line item.

(from here)

Think Limbaugh was joking? Check it out.

So what happens when the news media and the Democrats tell us that President Trump or some budget hawks are cutting the budget? Well, we need to know whether those honorable so and so’s are talking about a cut in comparison to last year’s budget or the “baselined” budget increase. That is, what the political class and the news media usually calls a budget cut is outright lie.

You care about the country? You care about the prosperity of your children and grandchildren? You care about honest government and a balanced budget. Then write your congressmen. We have Republican majorities in the House and Senate. We have a Republican in the White House. What is their excuse for not getting rid of the deceit perpetuated with baselined budgeting?

You can find your representative in the House at house.gov.

You can find your senators at senate.gov.

Please correct a delusion that these ladies and gentlemen seem to acquire inside the Beltway. Money does not grow on trees. Spending more and more and more just makes us poorer and poorer and poorer.

INCOMPATIBLE VIEWS ON GOVERNMENT — PART 1

James Madison by John Vanderlyn, 1816 (from here)

Introducing The Subject

It is very difficult to understand another person’s point of view. It is actually difficult to comprehend our own point of view. Yet to live a satisfactory life we must try.

Consider the words of Socrates. For speaking his mind, the citizens of Athens  condemned him to death. What did Socrates desire for the citizens of Athens. He wanted them to be virtuous. He wanted them to think about what it means to be virtuous, but the citizens of Athens did not want to examine virtue too carefully. So they condemned Socrates. Here is how Socrates replied.

Some one will say: Yes, Socrates, but cannot you hold your tongue, and then you may go into a foreign city, and no one will interfere with you? Now I have great difficulty in making you understand my answer to this. For if I tell you that to do as you say would be a disobedience to the God, and therefore that I cannot hold my tongue, you will not believe that I am serious; and if I say again that daily to discourse about virtue, and of those other things about which you hear me examining myself and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living, you are still less likely to believe me. Yet I say what is true, although a thing of which it is hard for me to persuade you. (from APOLOGY By Plato translated by Benjamin Jowett)

James Madison, like Socrates, was a philosopher of sorts. Instead of balking at the prospect, he and many of his countrymen carefully examined the role of virtue in government. Instead of abhorring the prospect, he and his countrymen rebelled and tried something new. Instead of continuing to regard government as something God imposed upon the People through divinely appointed kings, Madison made the following observation.

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. (from here)

In a world dominated by authoritarian monarchs, Madison observed that angels did not governed men, that because men lacked the virtue of angels the power of government had to be limited. And so in The Federalist Papers Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay promoted the ratification of the United States Constitution.

In our era, we have nearly discarded the Constitution that Madison, Hamilton, and Jay promoted in The Federalist Papers. Therefore, the Federal Government has become a leviathan, an immense beast of fantastic proportions, totally unlike the limited government the founders envisioned. The realization that our rulers have nearly undone the Constitution has engendered a political war in this nation, but the nature of the war is mysterious to most of us. How so? We don’t actually understand the thinking of the other side. Conservatives don’t understand Democrat Liberals, and Democrat Liberals don’t understand Conservatives.

Would understanding the view point of other side help Conservatives to resolve the conflict? No and yes. It would seem that Conservatives have been trying to compromise with Democrat Liberals for years. What happens with each compromise? Democrat Liberals just start working on the next compromise to further enlarge their blessed leviathan. So what should we expect to gain by trying to understand the other side? We may understand something about the assumptions that Democrat Liberals make about government and the nature of man. We may understand why Democrats Liberals do not seem to have any intention of limiting the size and the power of government.

What Is To Come?

    • Questions For Democrat Liberals — PART 2A (May 21, 2017) and Questions For Democrat Liberals — PART 2B (May 23, 2017): The subject of this post is four questions. The first question is cover in PART 2A.
      1. Why is it moral for the government to tax us?
      2. When does it become immoral for the government to tax us? That is, where do you draw the line and say no more?
      3. How do we ensure that a government that runs our lives will exercise its power for our benefit and not someone else’s benefit?
      4. How big and powerful does the government have to be before the people have lost the ability to refuse it anything it wants?

      If Conservatives want to understand Conservatism, we need to answer those four questions, and we need to understand why Democrat Liberals think those questions are just dumb.

    • A Democrat Liberal’s Reply — PART 3: The subject of this post is how a Democrat Liberal defines virtue with respect to government. Did that Democrat Liberal answer those four questions? No.
    • Restoring Our Constitutional Republic — PART 3: Is there a way to resolve the conflict? No. However, if we are prepared to fight for it, we can slowly restore our constitutional republic.

A PET PEEVE

United States Declaration of Independence (from here)

In response to a comment that irked me, I started to leave the following comment on a post I had enjoyed. Then I realized the pointlessness of picking on the author of that blog.

I enjoyed the post, but this comment touches upon a pet peeve. We Americans have a pronounced tendency to denigrate our fellow Americans. We love to say Americans have this failing or that failing. That strikes me as perverse, but it is what we have been taught to do. Yep! Other Americans — especially the masses — are so second-rate.

Why do we want to say such negative things about our own countrymen (Admittedly, I have done it. So I think I know)? When there are all sorts of Americans, who exactly are we talking about? When we denigrate our fellow Americans, what I think we are doing is denigrating a caricature, that thing of legend we call The Ugly American. And I think we do it in pride. We do it to prove our own outstanding tolerance by denigrating the intolerance of the stereotypical Ugly American. Yet is this not in fact a form of bias? Against our fellow Americans?

Sadly, when we denigrate our fellow Americans, we also denigrate Americanism, the philosophy that bound together the people who founded this country. For the sake of our children we need to step back and think about that. Should we be denigrating our own heritage?

When I look at the founding of our nation and the nature of our government, I see a people who once had a profound respect for the Bible and the God of the Bible. What I see tearing apart our country is not Americanism; it is Secularism. As Americans we have failed to pass on to our children the traditions of the people — the Christians — who risked all to found this nation.  Because we have given the matter so little thought, we are perverting our culture by slowly replacing our Christian heritage with a Secularist ideology that is replete with lies. Lies against any belief in God and against Christianity in particular.

Consider.  When first century Christians spread the Gospel, they engaged in a stubborn political as well as religious battle.  They actively spread the Gospel. At the same time they passively resisted the overwhelming power of the Roman Empire. Sometimes even at the cost of their lives they refused to worship the Emperor.

Those early Christians gave God’s authority in their lives precedence over the authority of government. This, giving God precedence over government, is Americanism. As the Declaration of Independence states, we have God-given, not government-given rights.

To whom do you give precedence in your life? Are you an American in the tradition that founded this nation, or are you a Secularist who denigrates the character of his fellow Americans? Think about it.

WHY ARE WE SO CONFUSED ABOUT SCIENCE?

Here is some additional press coverage.

Fortunately, the folks demonstrating against Secretary Betsy DeVos behaved themselves.  Noisy, but not violent.

So why was I there?  I don’t think politicians should be running schools.  The public school system is a socialist system. A socialist system ends up serving the people who run the system, not the people that that system is supposed to benefit. Therefore, I am hoping Secretary DeVos will have some success as she advocates school choice.

Consider the problem of just getting a decent science education. Because of theories like Global Warming and the Theory of Evolution, politicians have politicized science. So we have this curiosity.

Yes, we do have scientists who have looked at some data asserting that theories like Global Warming and the Theory of Evolution have to be true because they explain the data, but the SCIENTIFIC method does not work that way. The scientific method does not permit us to equate an unproven hypothesis with a demonstrated theory.

scientific method  noun
a method of research in which a problem is identified, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated from these data, and the hypothesis is empirically tested.

Think about what it means to empirically test a hypothesis. If we have a theory of how a system works, then we have a model of the relationship between the causes and the effects that operate within that system. How do we test our model? We use our model to make a prediction. If we change this cause, we say, then this effect will result. Then we do the experiment and observe the results.

Unfortunately, with respect to Global Warming and the Theory of Evolution, we are incapable of such rigor.  We cannot experiment with the weather, and perhaps that is a good thing. Otherwise, we would have an awfully frightful weapon of war. Similarly our ability to conduct experiments in evolution are limited. We don’t live long enough.

The scientific method is a process for experimentation that is used to explore observations and answer questions. Does this mean all scientists follow exactly this process? No. Some areas of science can be more easily tested than others. For example, scientists studying how stars change as they age or how dinosaurs digested their food cannot fast-forward a star’s life by a million years or run medical exams on feeding dinosaurs to test their hypotheses. When direct experimentation is not possible, scientists modify the scientific method. In fact, there are probably as many versions of the scientific method as there are scientists! But even when modified, the goal remains the same: to discover cause and effect relationships by asking questions, carefully gathering and examining the evidence, and seeing if all the available information can be combined in to a logical answer. (from here)

Think that definition from sciencebuddies.org is too off the wall? Then check out

Then consider this observation.

How can we prove that our new hypothesis is true? We never can. The scientific method does not allow any hypothesis to be proven. Hypotheses can be disproven in which case that hypothesis is rejected as false. All we can say about a hypothesis, which stands up to, a test to falsify it is that we failed to disprove it. There is a world of difference between failing to disprove and proving. Make sure you understand this distinction; it is the foundation of the scientific method.

So what would we do with our hypothesis above? We currently accept it as true. To be rigorous, we need to subject the hypothesis to more tests that could show it is wrong. For instance, we could repeat the experiment but switch the control and experimental group. If the hypothesis keeps standing up to our efforts to knock it down, we can feel more confident about accepting it as true. However, we will never be able to state that the hypothesis is true. Rather, we accept it as true because the hypothesis stood up to several experiments to show it is false. (from here)

Other Views