Thursday, February 9, 2012
Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...
If you want to get an understanding of what is wrong with Washington and why our country is in the fiscal mess we are in, consider this fact: even though our nation is facing gargantuan debts that are growing exponentially, 33 members of Congress earmarked $300 million for projects that benefited their own private property. Earmarks are special allocations in bills that direct public monies be spent on certain projects or programs. According to the Washington Post, 33 members of Congress directed money for projects within two miles of land they own. Here are a few examples: Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) obtained a $900,000 earmark to resurface roads where he and his daughter own two homes; Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) secured $4.5 million for an interstate interchange that leads to his 104 acre farm; Rep. John Oliver (D-MA) got a $5.1 million earmark to rebuild a road that is 200 feet from his 15 acre home and several other properties he owns; Rep Jack Kingston (R-GA) secured a $6.3 million earmark to replenish a beach 900 feet from a cottage he owns on the ocean. The list goes on, but you get a flavor of the gross and wanton spending that our elected leaders engage in even in light of our country's perilous financial situation. Their imperious manner in handling the nation's purse is a big part of the problem that our country faces as we attempt to get our financial house in order. And their spending shows no sign of slowing down. In 2010, members of Congress enacted a record 11,230 earmarks totaling $32 BILLION. Remember that the next time an elected representative of either party says that YOUR taxes have to go up to pay for government.
I'm not fat. I'm just easy to see.
Remember the payroll tax cut that Congress extended for two more months just before Christmas? After much debate, the tax cut was extended after Congress finally agreed that it was good for the economy and would lead to more Americans being put to work. Here is what Congress hasn't told you about that cut: our elected leaders found a way to "pay" for the cut with a new fee on home buyers. That's right- with the housing industry in the midst of one of the biggest slumps ever, Congress has tacked on a .01 fee on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, the type of loans that many home buyers obtain when purchasing their home. This fee will be imposed on most mortgages and refinancings over the next 10 years. On a $200,000 mortgage for 30 years, this amounts to almost $9,500. This fee is included in the interest rate that is assessed on these mortgages, and is expected to generate $35.7 billion in revenue to the government. Here is the kicker: this back door tax will not go into the Social Security fund, which is bankrupt, to replace the lost payroll tax. These monies are going into the general treasury, where Congress is free to spend the money any way they want to do so. Read the paragraph above if you think that Congress will spend this money wisely. Friends, it should be apparent to you that our elected leaders in Washington do not care about you, the citizens that pay the freight for this country. And it is time for us to do something about it.
I think it's bad luck to be superstitious.
This past week, the Obama administration proudly trumpeted the fact that unemployment had fallen to 8.3%. That sounds really positive until you consider this fact: a record 1.5 million Americans mysteriously left the work force. Where did they go? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics that calculates the unemployment rate, they just "left" the work force. What? Here is the grim news: making these people magically leave the work force makes the unemployment number look better, but if you use the labor force rate (the number of people in the labor force) when President Obama took office, the nominal unemployment rate would be 11% today. It should be easy to see what is happening here. It is an election year, and the books are being cooked to make Obama look good. The fact is that our unemployment rate is unacceptably high. We know this intuitively- we all know friends, neighbors, or family members that are desperately seeking work, and not just a job, but work for which they are qualified. No amount of fudging the numbers is going to change the fact that our economy continues to be weak and is not creating jobs. Take the published numbers from the mainstream media and this administration (I repeat myself, I know) with a grain of salt.
I have always wondered why there are flotation devices under the seats of airplanes. Wouldn't it make more sense to have parachutes?
And that, my friends, is my view.