Ah, a deal: does it even matter?

After reading Mark Steyn at his most scathing, no:

The Democrat model of governance is to spend $4 trillion while only collecting $2 trillion, borrowing the rest from tomorrow. Instead of “printing money,” we’re printing credit cards and pre-approving our unborn grandchildren. To facilitate this proposition, Washington created its own form of fantasy accounting: “baseline budgeting,” under which growth-in-government is factored in to federal bookkeeping as a permanent feature of life. As Arthur Herman of the American Enterprise Institute pointed out this week, under present rules, if the government were to announce a spending freeze — that’s to say, no increases, no cuts, everything just stays exactly the same — the Congressional Budget Office would score it as a $9 trillion savings. In real-world terms, there are no “savings,” and there’s certainly no $9 trillion. In fact, there isn’t one thin dime. But nevertheless, that’s how it would be measured at the CBO.

Like others, I have a hard time fathoming “trillion.” Steyn points out $9 trillion eclipses the combined GDP of Japan and Germany. Still having trouble? Try this. It adds a certain dimension to the debate, no? If we’re incapable of honestly cutting money from our budget now, then we’re headed down the tubes in no uncertain order unless we kick the charlatans out of DC. A goodly number of Republicans included. For-ev-er.

So what lies ahead? Steyn paints a rather dismal picture. Read the rest.

Related: Friday Limbaugh, “You can be proud, Conservatives: Tea Party puts country over party.”

Cross-posted at Pundit & Pundette.

Debt kabuki and Noonan regret: It’s Saturday laundry

Harry Reid and his cronies will shred the Boehner bill and stick it not to “the rich” but to the rest of us. How? Ed Morrissey explains the CBO process of scoring, and how Reid has figured the expiration of Bush tax cuts and the absence of an alternative means tax (AMT) patch will pad the coffers:

Total tax hike over 10 years, according to the GOP analysis?  $3.8 trillion.  And those would not just be tax hikes on the “wealthy,” either.  Those tax hikes would hit the middle class like a freight train, both on basic rates and the AMT creep that Congress has parried for years.  If this analysis is correct, Reid either wants to hit the US with the biggest tax hike in its history, or he’s offering bogus deficit reduction that will never occur.

Oh, I’m sure Obama won’t veto that, eh? We’re being played as rubes. Where are the entitlement discussions? Oh, only military retirement. Rubes, the taxpaying kind. Victor Davis Hanson reminds us how difficult it is to pry the entitlements away from those who vote for their government checks:

About 50 percent of taxpayers don’t pay federal income taxes. Almost half of American adults receive either the majority of or all of their income in some form from government. They are naturally desirous of even more entitlements, in the sense that even higher taxes on the top 5 percent might ensure at least some of the needed revenue to pay for them. And if that echelon must pay 70 percent or 80 percent rather than the present 60 percent of all collected income taxes, it would still not be such a bad thing, inasmuch as the circumstances surrounding their earned income must be somewhat suspicious. In the words of the president, the so-called affluent surely at some point must realize that they have made enough money and have hundreds of thousands in unneeded income that could easily be assessed with higher taxes.

The agenda of the poorer and lower-middle classes is championed mostly by an affluent elite located on the two coasts, who find power and influence in representing “the people,” and are themselves either affluent enough, or enjoy enough top government salaries and subsidies, to be largely exempt from any hardship that would result from their own advocacy of much higher taxes and larger government expenditures.

Nancy Pelosi, et al. They’re sending us straight into servitude for generations to come, but since they own the shackles, it matters not. I guess it’s “fair” that we’re all poor together. I have never understood why liberals subscribe to this vision–that those who succeed must be punished–rather than the Reagan idea: lift everyone up together. I suppose it’s easier to punish.

Finally, regret from Peggy Noonan. I find it humorous to note her own exclusion from the title at WSJ: They’ve lost that lovin’ feeling. In part:

[...] nobody loves Obama. This is amazing because every president has people who love him, who feel deep personal affection or connection, who have a stubborn, even beautiful refusal to let what they know are just criticisms affect their feelings of regard. At the height of Bill Clinton’s troubles there were always people who’d say, “Look, I love the guy.” They’d often be smiling—a wry smile, a shrugging smile. Nobody smiles when they talk about Mr. Obama. There were people who loved George W. Bush when he was at his most unpopular, and they meant it and would say it. But people aren’t that way about Mr. Obama. He has supporters and bundlers and contributors, he has voters, he may win. But his support is grim support. And surely this has implications.

Noonan brands Obama a disaster, and fails to acknowledge the wool was pulled over her own eyes:

But he’s not good at building, creating, calling into being. He was good at summoning hope, but he’s not good at directing it and turning it into something concrete that answers a broad public desire.

And so his failures in the debt ceiling fight. He wasn’t serious, he was only shrewd—and shrewdness wasn’t enough. He demagogued the issue—no Social Security checks—until he was called out, and then went on the hustings spouting inanities. He left conservatives scratching their heads: They could have made a better, more moving case for the liberal ideal as translated into the modern moment, than he did. He never offered a plan. In a crisis he was merely sly. And no one likes sly, no one respects it.

So he is losing a battle in which he had superior forces—the presidency, the U.S. Senate. In the process he revealed that his foes have given him too much mystique. He is not a devil, an alien, a socialist. He is a loser. And this is America, where nobody loves a loser.

Hell hath no fury like a woman who voted for the loser in ’08.

More Saturday reads:

Democrats on the Hill complain Obama isn’t a leader. Oh, the irony.

Unintended consequences for liberals: our economy stinks so badly, the legions of illegals head back home as the Mexican unemployment rate is half of our own. 300,000 have left California. Only 2.6 million more to go. Maybe without the $10 billion annual cost of social services to illegal immigrants, California will be able to right its own sinking budgetary ship.

Cross-posted at P&P.

Well, just confiscate their money why dontcha

After all, corporate greed is evil:

As Republicans and Democrats continue to work towards a compromise to the country’s debt ceiling crisis, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Thursday that Washington now has a total operating balance of only US$73.768-billion.

Meanwhile, Apple currently boasts a cash reserve of US$75.876-billion, as of its most recent quarterly earnings report at the end of June.

 

 

The progressive problem with blaming the rich folks for not paying their “fair share”

Finding out they’re the rich folks. Megan McCardle writes:

I know a very large number of east coast progressives who are outraged when they suddenly discover that middle-class ol’ them, who doesn’t even have enough money to repair the cracks in the ceiling after property taxes and school bills and one not-very-nice vacation to Nova Scotia, are technically “the rich” for the purpose of assessing taxes.  They, too, are not thinking specifically about where the money is.  They’re just thinking it would be nice for Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates to have less stuff, while people living in housing projects have more.  But there, as with cuts to the nebulous cloud of “spending”, the math doesn’t work.  If you want to raise more tax revenues, stop thinking about corporate jets and the carried interest, and start thinking about eliminating the mortgage interest tax deduction for all earners, and allowing the AMT to kick in on the upper end of “middle class” incomes.  In other words, start thinking about taxing New York Times reporters, not a very small class of rich people.

 The math never works. Nor does the reality of class warfare.

So “paying the military and their families for sixty years when they only serve 20″ is unsustainable, eh?

That’s the attitude of the Defense Business Board which advised gutting the current military retirement system for a “fair” one that trims the budget by a mere $254 billion.

Funny, that’s how I feel about folks on life-long welfare or hipsters on food stamps who didn’t serve that “meager 20″ in fighting in war zones, on hardship tours, separated from family.

Funny, too, that the media would feed off the idea of those wicked conservatives starving the poor and elderly for eons, while the notion of forcing cuts on those currently serving musters a peep in the Army Times and Stars and Stripes. Funny, how that works, no? No big media brouhaha over soldiers who gave up 20 of their most creative or financially productive years to serve their country. Hey, Michelle and Jill, I can tell you care about military families now!

The only “big” media mention of worth, in fact, that discusses the Defense Business Board’s proposals takes larger aim: cut that bloated head count argues Loren Thompson, writing for Forbes. She notes the Center for American Progress advocates changes to the military benefit system:

The center also endorses reforms of the military healthcare and retirement systems aimed at bringing compensation levels into closer alignment with the pay and benefits of private-sector workers.

First, note that the Center for American Progress is a leftist think-tank. Second, regardless of what any liberal thinks, soldiers are not private-sector workers nor should they be treated as such. Read the rest if you can tolerate sneering at those pencil-pushers within the military who do things other than fire guns. To Loren Thompson, civilians could push those pencils much better, and far cheaper. She’s obviously never met most civilians who work for the military, the vast majority of whom have neither the work ethic nor the standards to get the mission done–let alone done well–because their unions protect them from such trite things. But I digress.

When will the entitlement discussion come? Welfare? Social Security? Medicaid? Victor Davis Hanson voices soon to be necessary questions:

Should those on welfare who have more than three children still qualify for increased assistance for each additional offspring? Should state-subsidized elective operations automatically be provided for the chronically obese or lifelong smokers? Does the affluent class deserve mortgage-interest deductions on second and third homes? Should U.S. troops subsidize the defense of an allied and rich Germany or Japan 66 years after World War II?

Social Security reform used to be the third rail that politicians dared not touch. But is that prohibition really still operative as big government approaches insolvency? Expect soon not just the retirement ageto jump, reflecting modern longevity, or automatic cost-of-living increases to cease, mirroring the reality found in the private sector, but also the entire notion of disability to change as well.

Quite simply, the dogma that a teenager with dyslexia or a mature man with a bum knee will receive years of Social Security disability benefits will be assessed as an historical aberration of the last twenty years. A decision by an insurance company or government agency that a 62-year old must settle for arthroscopic surgery on a chronically torn meniscus rather than a complete knee replacement will not be interpreted as social cruelty.

Almost everything that can be said has been said about illegal immigration — and about the sustainability and morality of millions of Mexican and Latin American nationals crossing the U.S. border unlawfully and plugging into the American entitlement system. But an insolvent state like California, despite the liberal protestations, cannot continue to house 50,000 Mexican nationals in its penal system at a per capita cost of nearly $35,000 a year, or to extend free tuition in its broke university system to those without legal residence, or to provide social services to illegal aliens that may well cost the state nearly $10 billion a year. Even to suggest such limits was once considered illiberal. Now, not to state the obvious — that those without education, English, and legality have been expecting far more than what they could contribute in return — will be considered derelict.

That’s perspective: the 20-year savings from cutting gutting military retirements and shafting active-duty soldiers would pay for the social services for illegals in California for a month.  Read the rest.

Better than auto-correct: spell check

It doesn’t get better than this. WordPress just suggested “demonizing” in lieu of “feminizing,” most likely at the suggestion of The Other McCain.

Heh.

In the name of science (as if the Pill hasn’t contaminated enough lakes and streams)

They can’t stop until people aren’t fertile. From the NYT, the chase for testicular toxins:

The most studied approach in the United States uses testosterone and progestin hormones, which send the body signals to stop producing sperm. While effective and safe for most men, they have not worked for everyone, and questions about side effects remain.

So scientists are also testing other ways of interrupting sperm production, maturation or mobility.

One potential male birth control pill, gamendazole, derived from an anticancer drug, interrupts sperm maturation so “you’re making nonfunctional sperm,” said Gregory S. Kopf, associate vice chancellor for research administration at the University of Kansas Medical Center. The center has begun discussions with the Food and Drug Administration about the drug, already tested in rats and monkeys.

Dr. John K. Amory, a reproductive scientist at the University of Washington, is studying a drug that was developed for worm infections and was later tried on men because it caused infertility. Using rabbits, Dr. Amory said, he discovered the drug blocks production of retinoic acid, important for sperm production.

Anticancer drugs, worm infections. What happens if a “nonfuntional sperm” cracks into an egg? Is it non-motile or non-genetic-code-bearing? Hell, not that it matters anyway. Maybe these Ph.D folks in hot pursuit of science can partner up with these smarter-than-everyone-else-but-devoid-of-any-trace-of-ethics-geneticists. Then again, maybe not. You never know: after feminizing fish for generations on synthetic estrogen, maybe the male pill will balance the equation somehow, creating a new generation of completely asexual fish incapable of reproduction. I’m sure an environmentalist somewhere will tell us that the planet would benefit somehow with fewer fish in the sea, anyway, right?

 

DOD recommends “radical” overhaul of military retirement

From the Army Times:

A sweeping new plan to overhaul the Pentagon’s retirement system would give some benefits to all troops and phase out the 20-year cliff vesting system that has defined military careers for generations.

In a massive change that could affect today’s troops, the plan calls for a corporate-style benefits program that would contribute money to troops’ retirement savings account rather than the promise of a future monthly pension, according to a new proposal from an influential Pentagon advisory board.

All troops would receive the yearly retirement contributions, regardless of whether they stay for 20 years.

What most fascinates me is the continued use of the word “fairness.” It’s not fair that people who separate from the military after only a few years leave without any retirement benefits. Yes, it is. And has been. Soldiers know up front that the only way to receive retirement benefits is to serve 20 years. How is that not fair?

More:

“The current system is unfair, unaffordable and inflexible,” said Richard Spencer, a former finance executive and Marine Corps pilot who led the board’s eight-month retirement study.

This alternative plan would “enhance the ability of the service member to build a meaningful retirement asset [with] complete flexibility for their lifestyle or desires,” Spencer said.

There’s that word again. One of the President’s favorites.

And what of the Soldiers, Sailors and Marines currently in the service? Let me redefine the use of unfair: rather than grandfather those currently in service, the plan calls for immediate adoption of the new program, which would require Congressional approval. How would this effect military members? Let me count the ways:

• Recruits. The newest troops out of boot camp after the proposed change would have no direct incentive to stay for 20 years and would not get a fixed-benefit pension. Instead, they would receive annual contributions to a Thrift Savings Plan account and could leave service with that money at any time — although under current rules, they can’t withdraw the money until age 59½ without paying a penalty, except in certain specified circumstances.

• Five years of service. Troops would immediately begin accruing new benefits in a TSP account. If they remained in service until the “old vesting date” — the 20-year mark — they also would get one-fourth of the “old plan benefit,” or about 12 percent of their pay at retirement, as an annuity. If they separated, for example, after 10 years, they would walk away with no fixed-pension benefit but would have a TSP account with five years of contributions.

• 10 years of service. Troops would immediately begin accruing new benefits in a TSP account. If they remained in service for 10 more years, they would receive half of the “old plan benefit,” about 25 percent of their pay at retirement, as an annuity. If they separated after 15 years, they would walk away with no fixed-pension benefit but would have a TSP account with five years of contributions.

• 15 years of service. Troops would immediately begin accruing new benefits in a TSP account. If they remained in service for five more years, they would receive three-fourths of the “old plan benefit,” about 37.5 percent of their pay at retirement, as an annuity.

• 20 years and beyond. Troops who stayed in past 20 years would continue to receive annual TSP contributions.

For professional soldiers like my husband, this is a big slap. I reminded pjHusband last night that we all had to make sacrifices at this point because they government can’t pay its contracts. Even those with the military. That said, if we take a big bite out of our retirement, I want to know where equal cuts are made.  $254 billion on the backs of those in military service? Show me the big cuts in entitlement programs. Show me the money, eh? Surely not the Social Security recipients or folks within 5 years of receiving benefits. Why is it now that Social Security can’t be reformed–because people have paid into it? What about the folks who’ve given up years with their families at home in war zones, eh? Different sacrifice, I’m sure.

Related: The military can take significant cuts but entitlements can’t?

Perry of Paint Creek

Good news to get through the debt drudgery: Perry “all but certain” to declare in second half of August.

This provides great insight into Perry’s character:

The first place you need to go to understand Perry is Paint Creek, where he grew up. Paint Creek is not a town. It’s a watercourse that runs through the cotton fields of southern Haskell County. Perry’s parents were tenant farmers, and not just tenant farmers but dryland farmers, which is as hard as farming gets. In a June 2010 interview with TEXAS MONTHLY editor Jake Silverstein, Perry described an incident involving a new couch that his parents, who “rarely ever bought anything,” had just purchased. “There were places in our house that you could see outside through the cracks by the windows,” the governor recalled, “and this dust storm came in and there was a layer of dust all over that new couch. And it just, you know, kind of—it was a hard life for them.” In the interview, Perry also described taking baths in the number two washtub and using an outhouse until his father built indoor plumbing in his early years. “We were rich,” Perry said, “but not in material things. I had miles and miles of pasture, a Shetland pony, and a dog. . . . I spent a lot of time just alone with my dog. A lot.”

Perry’s worldview isn’t clouded by what he lacked by others’ standards or a skewed perception of what others owed him. He wasn’t handed anything. How refreshing, no?

Read the rest.

 

Why is it easier to procure “medical marijuana” than raw milk?

Drug vs nutrition. Government gone wild.

Lew Rockwell has the skinny on a state-by-state analysis of how to obtain raw dairy. Here in Colorado, green crosses dot the streets advertising “real doctor on premises” to write that ‘script for MMJ. But in order to buy raw milk, I have to buy a share of the cow and pay a boarding fee on top of the price of the gallon of good stuff. But at least I can buy it–13 states outlaw the sale of raw dairy.

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