Politicians and bureaucrats are notorious for manufacturing euphemisms -- clever but deceptive substitutes for what they really mean but don’t want to admit. That’s how the phrase “revenue enhancement” entered the vocabulary. Some of our courageous friends in government couldn’t bring themselves to say “tax hike.”
“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,” says a proverb often attributed to Yogi Berra. Imagine the world of freedom, or lack of it. Who could foresee the technologies that make our lives so rewarding and convenient? The same technologies have us all under the government’s giant microscope. Thankfully, the brave have turned the microscope around.
In the months since Edward Snowden revealed the nature and extent of the spying that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been perpetrating upon Americans and foreigners, some of the NSA's most troublesome behavior has not been a part of the public debate.
National Treasury Union President Colleen M. Kelly recently described the 2014 IRS budget allocation as “woefully inadequate.” But the agency has not proven itself to be an efficient steward of taxpayer dollars. Here are ten ways the IRS lost the trust of the American people.
It’s easy to be negative about the U.S. economy these days. Find a glint of silver, and folks come running to point out all of the dark clouds looming about. This, of course, is what we got last week when the monthly jobs report was released from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Folks pooh-poohed the number of jobs and whining that they’re not enough or that it’s less than a bunch of economists thought that it might be. But you know what? Stuff ’em.
Given how poorly states like California and Illinois have funded the pension funds for their own employees, one would think that this would stop dead in its tracks any plan to have the government assist in managing private sector funds too. The spate of recent activity, however, suggests otherwise.
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the Affordable Care Act are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
The problem for NSA apologist is that when guys like Snowden disclose that the government conducts comprehensive surveillance in ways that would have made 1984’s O’Brien drool, it puts the entire progressive agenda in jeopardy.
The east coast and parts of the southern U.S. were to varying degrees paralyzed by blizzards a few weeks ago. The snow as expected rendered the roads treacherous, and in anticipation of slick streets, shoppers flocked to the grocery stores in advance.The rush into grocery stores, and its aftermath, offers worthwhile lessons in economics.First up, […]
The financial world is plodding along like a drunken sailor avoiding debt collectors by keeping no cash in his wallet. It’s not the kind of calm that’s going to last or end well. But the storm will have to wait until after the Olympics.What a game! We’ve never watched ice hockey closely before. But watching […]
“When they come for my gun, they will have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands,” is a common refrain I often hear from the Neo-Cons when there is a threat, credible or otherwise, that the U.S. government is going to take their firearms.And, when I hear this crazy talk, I agree with […]
The highest form of charity, argued the 12th-century Jewish philosopher Maimonides, is when the help given enables the receiver to become self-sufficient.But our systems of state charity — aka welfare — have too frequently had the opposite effect: They have actually created dependency. It is time to rethink the way we help people.I’m going to […]
In times of war and national emergency, it’s sometimes necessary to sacrifice civil liberties to secure vital gains in public safety. In those cases, we may have to accept a loss of privacy or freedom rather than invite mass slaughter of Americans.The National Security Agency’s domestic phone records collection is not one of those.Never have […]
President Obama crowed in his State of the Union speech about the economy, even mentioning “a rebounding housing market.” Maybe he was referring to friends in high places, like the seller of Penthouse One in New York, which just closed for $50.9 million, all cash. Millions of mere-mortal homeowners likely wanted to throw something at […]
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is acting in a bipartisan way to cover up the biggest single threat to the bipartisan political alliance that is stripping America of its wealth: the United States Congress.There is no question that the following policy is bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans in Congress are completely agreed that the following information […]
Recent difficulties with implementing the Affordable Care Act have increased opposition to the program. A majority of Americans now oppose it. Problems with the HealthCare.gov website are in all likelihood temporary. However, there are serious long-term problems, particularly considering long-term finance and labor supply issues. Given the mounting difficulties with and growing concerns about the […]
Amidst all the revelations about how the American people, many of whom are absolutely convinced they live in a free society, have their telephone calls, emails, website visits, and who knows what else under surveillance by their own government, let’s not forget the massive infringements on financial privacy that have gone on for decades.Consider, for […]
Image: ShutterstockBitInstant CEO Charlie Shrem, along with alleged co-conspirator Robert Faiella, was arrested by federal authorities last week for allegedly laundering more than $1 million worth of Bitcoins. This is a tiny amount compared to the largest drug-and-terrorism money laundering case ever. Yet when British bank HSBC was found guilty in 2012 of laundering billions, […]
Do you trust your doctor? Most patients assume their doctor is working in their best medical interests whenever he or she orders a diagnostic test or recommends a particular treatment. Customers might wonder whether an unscrupulous auto mechanic is being truthful when he recommends a brake job or a new transmission. But most patients trust […]
The exercise had an awesome name, inspired by the movies: “Quantum Dawn 2.”On July 18, scads of U.S. banks, stock exchanges and government agencies took part in a digital fire drill — a practice run in the event all of Wall Street came under massive cyberattack.This isn’t the first time banks have come under an […]
The faces of the Detroit bankruptcy are the thousands of pensioners whose promised benefits are suddenly part of the restructure negotiation. When Motown filed for Chapter 9 last July, the city had $11.5 billion in unsecured liabilities. The vast majority of this was pension and health care benefits owed to retired city employees.The images of […]
So you’ve maneuvered the Obamacare website, plugged in your top-secret information and found out how much you are forced to pay to avoid a fine.And for some of you, it turns out you qualify for a government subsidy — making the premium sound like a bargain. But signing on that line to accept the government’s […]
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”As the inequality gap grows, there is an ideological battle unfolding in the West.On the one hand, there are those who think government can fix things. It must do more, tax more, […]
On Feb. 7 the United States will once again reach its statutory debt limit, meaning it cannot legally borrow any more money. Since the obvious option of cutting spending to match the amount of revenue that the government collects is off the table for some inexplicable reason, Congress will have to pass a new, higher […]
The New York Times published an interminable article on health care recently. Plenty of facts — how scrupulous are these journalists! — but the article displayed absolutely no comprehension of the basics of cause and effect. I was left wondering about the whole point.The article details how the health care system rewards specialists to an […]
For critics of the surveillance state, it is tempting to see President Obama’s speech a few weeks ago as a partial victory: Prompted by Edward Snowden’s leaks and the public pressure for National Security Agency reforms, he announced significant changes to the program that collects and stores information about all telephone calls. And he promised […]
We put in a good-citizen call to the SEC the other day.“There’s a massive scheme to manipulate stock prices,” we told the friendly agent.“I have to tell you that your call is being monitored so that we can better serve the public,” he replied.“Oh, don’t worry about that. The NSA is tapping our call anyway.”“Are […]
The words of H.L. Mencken rang through my head as I listened to a certain Alabama congressman talk to 40 or 50 shivering supporters the other night: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
The congressman said, “Don’t ever call me moderate” and emphasized that he’s pragmatic. His employer may be broke and $17 trillion in debt, but the thing keeping him awake at night is that foreigners everywhere want to kill Americans.
When he said, “The debt and Social Security don’t matter if we’re all dead,” my jaw dropped.
It is only he, the other wise ones in Washington, and the vast American military machine that stand in the way of each and every one of us having our throats slit by the enemy — whoever that is.
Sequestration, which has brought the budget deficit down, is the urgent problem the pragmatic conservative wants to fix. In his view, the military is being gutted by a president who wants the U.S. to have a Western European-style armed forces.
A military capable only of defending U.S. shores is not strong enough, the congressman said. The U.S. military must be strong enough to not only project strength around the globe, but smash any enemy on their own turf. Invading others is America’s right. “We don’t want any wars fought on U.S. soil.”
When Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex, he was warning us about this representative.
When asked about the government’s precarious finances, he started his answer with defense. Just as defense is being ignored by the current administration, he said, budgets aren’t being passed and government spending is too high. Except what he calls defense the rest of us might call offense.
Asked about immigration, he went on about a big wall that should be built on the U.S.-Mexico border. Until the wall is finished, forget immigration reform because… wait for it… it’s a security issue. The people who want to come here are poor. They only want to steal jobs here, send money back home, and ultimately go back to where they came from. What’s in it for the good old US of A?
As if jobs are something Washington, D.C., passes out to its friends and constituents. The congressman snarled at employers in the private sector who “like cheap labor.”
But he wasn’t done. George W. Bush slowed down the building of the wall, and Obama doesn’t want a wall, for political reasons. The congressman said until we have that wall, we’re not safe.
Ask him about the tea party and he goes on and on about those “knuckleheads.” They just don’t know how to govern. He says they need to watch a film made for eighth-graders called I’m Just a Bill.
What about Obamacare? The typical American may be concerned about the president’s signature legislation, but not him. “The good news is in a year, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about Obamacare,” he said.
The congressman wants you worrying about your security instead.
What Republicans need to do is quit dividing the party by electing tea party kooks and get back to sending more levelheaded pragmatic types like him back to Washington to “govern.” The congressman seemed more than a little concerned a tea party target will be put on his head. If the voters do that, Nancy Pelosi will be in charge, he said. I’m not sure what would be worse. Government will never get smaller or America freer with the likes of him roaming around Capitol Hill doing the people’s work.
Mind you, the small audience of local pols, neocons, and military vets were drinking the congressman’s Kool-Aid with as much polite enthusiasm as could be mustered in the cold night air. Liberty was not on their minds as much as the fear of foreign government spying and cyberthreats.
Yeah, the local gentry is properly alarmed, putty in his hands.
“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos,” Mencken wrote. “Almost inevitably, he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.”
What’s his name? It doesn’t matter, there are dozens like him. That’s where we are — insane on the verge of intolerable.