Janet Yellen: We sprayed your house in gasoline. When is a good time to light the match?

AP YELLEN A F USA DC

This blog spends a lot of time covering foreign policy, terrorist organizations, and the threat they pose to national security, but one can certainly make the argument that the Federal Reserve is much more of a danger to the long-term health of the nation. These days I typically leave it to others to talk about the implications of printing dollars as if they were Monopoly money, addictions to artificially-low interest rates, and the use of inflation-as-stealth-taxation. However, Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen spoke earlier in the week, and it deserves mention.

The Associated Press reported Sept. 18:

Record-low interest rates will be around for at least a few more months, the Federal Reserve made clear Wednesday. Enjoy the easy money while it lasts.

By mid-2015, economists expect the Fed to abandon a nearly 6-year-old policy of keeping short-term rates at record lows. Those rates have helped support the economy, cheered the stock market and shrunk mortgage rates. A Fed rate increase could potentially reverse those trends. …

“Borrowers should see the writing on the wall,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. …

Investors, in particular, might recall that mere speculation about the end of the Fed’s stimulus shook global financial markets in May 2013. In coming months, as the prospect of higher rates nears, traders might once again dump stocks and bonds and send prices tumbling.

The Jenga Economy will eventually tumble and fall on the heads of retired people, young people, and a whole host of Americans whose lives will be turned upside down when the “easy money” ends.

Former Office of Management and Budget Director David Stockman sat down with Yahoo Finance Sept. 17 and said the following about the Federal Reserve:

David Stockman: I’m worried that we’ve got the greatest bubble created by a central bank in human history. We have been shoving zero-cost money into the financial markets for six years running. This is the 68th month of zero-money market rates. We’ll that’s the kerosene that drives speculative trading. The carry trades. That’s what the gamblers use to fund their position as they move from one momentum play and trade to another. So we have basically created — the fed has created — the bubble, which is unsustainable. Everything is massively overvalued and it’s predicated on zero-cost overnight money that continues these carry trades. You can’t continue. And so, when the trades begin to unwind because the carry-cost has to normalize, you’re going to have a dramatic repricing and dislocations in these financial markets, but especially in tech.

Host: So let me ask you why investors should care now, because looking back — you know, I went back and looked at one of the last times we spoke — when you were promoting your book and you had just written a New York Times op-ed on March 30th of last year. The stock market was hitting all-time highs, and you said “Instead of cheering, we should be very afraid. If this sounds like advice to get out of the markets and hide in cash, it is.” Well, the market is up 28 percent since then, David. If people took your advice, then they missed out on gains.

David Stockman: Well look it, it’s not over until it’s over. And if people think they’re smart enough to play it by the day and trade it by the hour and compete with all of these robotic trading systems that are driving the market, then more power to them. But no one can predict when the break is going to come, when black swan is going to arrive, but when it does there will be a sharp, violent and rapid repricing. Adjustment. And so the 28 percent can disappear as fast as it appeared. […] I think what the fed is doing is so unprecedented. What is happening in the markets is so unnatural. There has been so much liquidity — and you can give all the figures — almost $4 trillion dollars has been pumped into the market in less than 70 months by this central bank and has matched by central banks all over the world — this is dangerous, combustible stuff. And I don’t know when the explosion occurs. When the collapse suddenly is upon us, but when it happens, people will be happy that they got out of the way if they did.”

Most Americans don’t speak the language of Yahoo Finance hosts, Janet Yellen or David Stockman, so I asked a well-adjusted friend of mine to explain things in a way that normal Americans can understand.

Here was his reply:

I think the govt has used every trick in the book to keep wages high and the market high. The reason we have a 30 year trade imbalance is because wages didn’t come down to meet world demand, plus unemployment, it’s a real mess. The trade imbalance occurs because all his money is pumped into the economy, income is high though we produce little; and we buy extra stuff from outside sources. Now we are trillions in debt and the economy won’t grow out of it like years past (anytime soon).

Unfortunately we have to bite it at some point and either let the dollar devalue or interest rates rise, getting our short term supply an demand curves back from artificial highs. It won’t be pretty. China keeps their currency purposefully low, that’s why people keep manufacturing there…. Hmmm, I remember Romney mentioning that and being blown off. I’d imagine they are creating some sort of bubble too.

The “normal” growth rate for our economy is roughly 3 percent, when recession hits it obviously must grow more than 3 percent to get us back to the “normal” trajectory. That hasn’t happened this time around. We stopped recessing, but we aren’t back to the desired trajectory, hence unemployment still high. So pray for a natural resource boon or some dramatic new technology to save us.

Oddly, only one president in our lifetime saw and did something about the writing on the wall, that being the first George Bush. He went against his promise and raised taxes to get the debt to a manageable percentage to GDP and to alleviate the artificial highs I spoke of. Of course that led to a split in the party, and he was vilified. Obama really was stuck in a bad boat in 2008, and in his defense it was typical government response to a threatening depression. However, due to 30+ years of a “free ride” we can’t recover fast enough to lower the debt percentage. We really have ourselves to blame from both parties.

Now you have the baby boomers wanting to retire further stressing things… Get ready for a bumpy ride!

Get ready for a bumpy ride, indeed. While it’s important to pay attention to radical Islamic terror groups, it’s also important to remember that there are many ways a nation can lose its head.

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CBO: This American debt bomb is going really to hurt when it explodes — just so you know

CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf was speaking at The Atlantic’s 2014 Economy Summit in Washington and he had a message for the American people: Pain.

CNS News reported:

The United States faces “fundamental fiscal challenges” stemming from the growth in spending for Social Security and major health care programs,” CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told a gathering in Washington on Tuesday.

The rising cost of those programs leaves Americans with “unpleasant” choices to make, but the sooner they’re made, the better, he said: “So we have a choice as a society to either scale back those programs relative to what is promised under current law; or to raise tax revenue above its historical average to pay for the expansion of those programs; or to cut back on all other spending even more sharply than we already are,” Elmendorf said.

“And we haven’t actually decided as a society…what we’re going to do. But some combination of those three choices will be needed.”

Elmendorf said there are various ways to proceed: “But they tend to be unpleasant in one way or another, and we have not, as a society, decided how much of that sort of unpleasantness to inflict on whom.”

I’ve been beating this drum for over four years now on this blog — I’ve called it the Jenga Economy — but Mr. Elmendorf is correct: “we have not, as a society, decided how much … unpleasantness to inflict on whom.”

The right answer is that you disperse the pain across as wide an area as possible because we are all Americans and we are all responsible for the debt tumor within. The problem is that we have “leaders” who lie to the American people about what is really happening under the surface, we have some that are just plain stupid, and we have others —like Sen. Claire McCaskill — who openly admit they have serious issues.

Hotair reported:

I do believe a $17 trillion debt is irresponsible. I do believe that. … It’s not like I am such a fiscal hawk that I don’t see that there are needs out there that we need to address. Supporting extending unemployment insurance, all of those things. … I don’t think we can keep our eye completely off that ball. So, some of the people who think, well, you know, deficits don’t matter, and debt doesn’t matter. We have cut our deficit by a lot, and that’s great, but I don’t think it’s responsible to go back to the old way, ’cause you know what the old way was? We said yes to everybody. You know, we want to be loved. That’s why we run for office.

She wants to be loved? That’s why she runs? Again — she’s said yes to everybody because she wants to be loved.

Unbelievable. You can not make this stuff up.

Leaders do not say yes to everyone. Leaders know that they must make tough decisions and that they will not be loved by everyone. Leaders take it on the chin because they know that what they’re doing is in the long-term interest of those under their command.

It is safe to say that Sen. Claire McCaskill is not a leader. The vast majority of her friends in the Senate are not leaders, and neither are the vast majority of her counterparts in the House. But, like I said, we’re all in some way culpable for what is to come.

The constituents who elected politicians to whisper sweet nothings into their ears are responsible. The American citizen who seemingly prides himself for being an uninformed boob is responsible. Independents who only opt to rhetorically throw stones at both parties are responsible. And yes, yours truly is responsible…in many, many ways that I’d be happy to expand on in the comments section.

Are you prepared for the “unpleasantness” coming down the pike? I am.

Related: The Jenga Economy: Brought to you by the federal government

Paul Ryan takes heat from people who have never been in the kitchen

Romney 2012

One of the best things about living in the nation’s capital is that sometimes you get to hear some pretty cool people speak. One multiple occasions I got to hear Rep. Paul Ryan talk — extemporaneously — on public policy, and he blew me away. On top of that he was a nice guy, stopping in to speak to Heritage interns when he could have just whisked out the door without saying a word. Rep. Ryan has managed to work in the D.C. “kitchen” for quite some time now without deviating from his core mission — to increase freedom and individual liberties for all Americans — but yet he now finds himself taking heat from people who have never even entered the restaurant.

I’ve lived in Washington, D.C. for eight years now, and I never heard someone question his honesty and integrity. He’s a principled guy in an unprincipled town. He’s outnumbered and has limited tools to work with, which is why I find it bizarre that “RINO” keeps echoing off the walls of the Internet since the House announced its budget deal with Democrats.

Buzzfeed’s piece, titled ‘How Paul Ryan Saved the Day’ sums up the Congressman well:

Ryan’s recent success stems in large part from his deep roots within the GOP’s conservative wing. Long before becoming a member of the conservative “Jedi Council” that has helped foment conservative outrage against previous spending plans, Ryan was a key figure within fiscal conservative circles in Washington. Over the years Ryan has developed a reputation amongst conservative and moderate Republicans in the House as a trusted voice on not only budget issues, but broader economic policy.

“The thing about him is that everyone knows he’s a straight shooter, he’s not going to play games. And that’s what it takes,” Diaz-Balart said. “Everyone understands what he says is real, whether you agree with Paul Ryan or not everybody understands that his word is truthful. In this process, he’s among the most trusted.”

Republican Policy Committee Chairman Rep. James Lankford, one of the most conservative members of the GOP leadership, agreed. “The level of trust is there because people know what his core is. We’ve all gone through budget negotiations with him, we’ve all seen the budgets he’s put together and the coalitions he’s put together to get that done. So we know he’s going after as much as he can possibly get,” Lankford said.

Have you ever tried to get blood from a stone? Republicans are not in a position to be able to take a chainsaw to government spending at the moment — particularly after the shutdown. They crossed the rubicon on that, and then when the pressure got too hot they wilted. Worse, they weren’t able to articulate the legitimate philosophical concerns that motivated them to go that route in the first place. If it wasn’t for the Obamacare rollout disaster from Hell, where would the polls be at the moment?

Take a look at where some of the loudest criticisms of Congressman Ryan are coming from; they emanate from people who would very much like to take the mantle of pied piper away from President Obama and hold onto it throughout the 2016 presidential election. The tea party is right: America is broke. In fact, it is more broke than any nation has ever been in existence. The way to address the problem is not to cannibalize one of conservatism’s staunchest defenders as he’s trying to convince the American people that Republicans can work with people they have fierce ideological disagreements with.

Note to my Tea Party friends: If there is a Socialist who seems like a really nice guy and an free-market Republican who seems like a jerk, the American people will (at least these days) vote for the Socialist. This carries over to how we talk about social issues. It’s not always what you say, but how you say it — and if you always come across as an angry raving-mad lunatic who would rather engage in scorched earth tactics than work with a political opponent, you will lose. And then America loses.

You don’t win by subtracting and dividing; you win by addition and multiplication. Congressman Ryan understands that if he can only get 30% of what he wants, then it’s better to do that then to throw a temper tantrum and get nothing. If the tea party is smart, then it will hold its fire on one of the few principled politicians in Congress and resume the air campaign on Obamacare.

Related: Barack Obama, Mysterio vs. Paul Ryan, Spider-Man?

Related: Paul Ryan’s wine passes sniff test; Susan Feinberg’s behavior smells like rotting Monkfish à la Soubise

U.S. debt blows by $17 trillion — Clueless Americans go about their business

Obama Jenga Economy

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could run your personal finances like the federal government? Every time you maxed out your credit card you could just increase the limit, shrug your shoulders, and continue spending. It would be great … until the day came when your creditors decided to get serious about the money you owed them.

Congratulations: the federal government is open and the debt pushers have given Americans another hit of their favorite drug:

U.S. debt jumped a record $328 billion on Thursday, the first day the federal government was able to borrow money under the deal President Obama and Congress sealed this week.

The debt now equals $17.075 trillion, according to figures the Treasury Department posted online on Friday.

The $328 billion increase shattered the previous high of $238 billion set two years ago.

Here’s what my brother said last night:

“I wonder if these people realize that if the interest rate on the national debt goes up even one percent that we are toast.”

Indeed. We are toast. Many Americans blame the tea party for making it hard for the president to raise the debt limit, when the truth is that they’re the only adults in the room. The Jenga tower of debt is wiggling and wobbling and the only people who are seriously trying to figure out a way to stop the coming crash are mocked and ridiculed.

The funny thing is, Barack Obama once sounded exactly like Ted Cruz not too long ago:

“The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the bank of China in the name of our children — driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for our first 42 presidents —  (number 43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome) so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we’re going to have to pay back. $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic. **audience claps** (Barack Obama, July 3, 2008).

Here’s a dirty little secret: whether it’s a Democrat or Republican in office, the debt just keeps going up, up, up. And when you finally have a small group of conservatives who are trying to discuss the severity of the consequences if we don’t get this under control — now — they are called “terrorists” and “hostage takers” and men with “bombs strapped to their chest” by the White House.

Here’s another dirty little secret: Millionaire politicians will survive future economic calamities because … they’re millionaires, and they’re really good at voting themselves money. Take the spending bill that opened government again, for example. Asked about all the money confiscated by taxpayers to benefit individual politicians, Nancy Pelosi’s response was incredibly telling.

“What difference does it make?” Mrs. Pelosi said when she was asked repeatedly about the items, which include a $174,000 payment to the widow of the late multimillionaire Sen. Frank Lautenberg and a $2 billion maximum price increase on a dam project on the Ohio River that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had supported as an earmark in previous years.

When John Edwards wasn’t impregnating the woman who wasn’t his wife years ago, he used to talk about “two Americas.” He was right — but not in the way he imagined. There isn’t one America for rich people and another for poor people, but there is one America for hard-working citizens and another for those who have their hands on the levers of power. Hopefully, the economic pain to come in the years ahead will teach Americans the value of limited government in ways basic math, bloggers and honest reporters have been unable to convey.

National debt mysteriously frozen; Feds use accounting that would land you in prison

National Debt Clock Twitter

A few weeks ago I met up with some old friends in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown for some sushi. During the course of conversation the national debt came up. I mentioned that the official Twitter “debt clock” was frozen at just under $17 trillion for what seemed like a long time. Too long of a time. My friend asked how that was possible and I said that I had no idea other than that the feds were probably playing some strange accounting games that would land the average American citizen in prison.

It turns out that Terrence Jeffery of CNS News has been wondering the exact same thing:

According to the Daily Treasury Statement for July 26, which the Treasury released this afternoon, the federal debt has been stuck at exactly $16,699,396,000,000.00 for 70 straight days.

That is approximately $25 million below the legal limit of $16,699,421,095,673.60 that Congress has imposed on the debt.

The portion of the federal debt subject to the legal limit set by Congress first hit $16,699,396,000,000.00 at the close of business on May 17. At the close of every business day since then, it has also been $16,699,396,000,000.00, according to the official accounting published by the Treasury Department.

If the debt had increased by even $30 million at any time during those 70 days, it would have exceeded the statutory limit. But, according to the Treasury, the debt did not do that. Instead, it remained precisely $16,699,396,000,000.00.

Even though the government’s official accounting of the debt has not budged for 70 days, the Treasury has continued to sell bills, notes and bonds at a value that exceeds the value of the bills, notes and bonds it was redeeming.

Ask yourself: Does this pass the sniff test? Of course not.

On May 17, the day the debt began its long stay at $16,699,396,000,000.00, Treasury Secretary Lew sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner. In the letter, Lew said the Treasury would begin implementing what he called “the standard set of extraordinary measures” that allows the Treasury to continue to borrow and spend money even after it has hit the legal debt limit.

This is exactly what I have talked about for years on this blog. The U.S. economy is resting over a giant sinkhole of debt that continues to grow, and at some point it’s going to suck a whole lot of people into darkness and despair. The American people who spend their nights looking and laughing at pictures of Anthony Weiner’s blurred weiner on “The Dirty” will soon come face to face with a fiscal reality that is far scarier than a pervert from New York. Politicians in both parties will have blood on their hands, but ultimately it is we the people who are to blame.

We elect buffoons into office. We allow the media to distract us with circus-side shows.  We have become so invested in “red” vs. “blue” that slick politicians have been able to exploit blind partisanship for personal gain.

The real question is: Who stands for freedom and who sets the stage for tyranny?

Does President Obama stand for liberty? Does John Boehner stand for liberty? If you answer “yes” or “no” like a Pavlovian dog the moment your brain registers each man’s party affiliation, then congratulations — you are a dutiful little red or blue foot solider. Unfortunately, recessions and depressions don’t care whether you have an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ next to your name.

The truth is that almost no one in Washington is telling the truth. We went over the real “fiscal cliff” some time ago. The exact date is uncertain, but right now Uncle Sam is an unconscious man in free fall after being thrown out an airplane. Will America wake up in time to pull the parachute, or are we too close to the pavement already? It’s a good question.

By this time, most people are familiar with the saying: “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” It’s true. The problem is, at one point in time our little economic Mustang had plenty of roadway to ease on the brakes, change direction and ride off into the sunset. Now, the wall is before us and we’re still careening towards it, ever closer, at 100 m.p.h. — and instead of pumping the brakes and telling you to make sure your seat belt is on, President Obama and John Boehner are asking you look out the window and enjoy the scenery.

I have my seat belt on. I’m a weird guy and decided to wear a crash helmet because I never cared what other people thought of me. What about you?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to run to the metaphor store. I used quite a few of them in this post and I need to restock the shelves.

Bankrupt Detroit runs out of accounting tricks, breaks its neck on basic math

Detroit

For years I’ve stated that you can only play accounting tricks for so long before basic math catches up with you. On a national scale the U.S. has roughly $17 trillion dollars in debt. Its time of reckoning will come — but for now the world laughs and cries as it looks at Detroit, which has officially filed for bankruptcy.

After years of hand wringing over the state of affairs in the rust belt hub that has struggled in recent years perhaps more than any other large city in America, it’s official: Detroit has filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

Detroit has been struggling, crushed under billions of dollars in debt following decades of mismanagement, population flight and loss of tax revenue. The city lost a quarter-million residents between 2000 and 2010. Detroit now has an estimated 700,000 residents; down from 1.8 million in the 1950s.

For weeks, emergency manager Kevyn Orr has been working to try to lower the city’s debt as he slashes budgets, works with unions, and make sense of Detroit’s disjointed financial records.

A city official notably said the federal government should bail out Detroit, though the president has made no indication that’s a possibility.

Orr’s options were these: File for bankruptcy or cut the biggest bond restructuring deal of all time.

The latter didn’t happen.

“Decades of mismanagement,” indeed. Perhaps most infuriating for sane people is that faced with the totality of what they’ve done, the power players in Detroit soldier on in denial or expect the federal government (i.e., the American taxpayer), to bail them out.

Detroit is a textbook case of what unadulterated liberalism brings to a city: Pain. Poverty. Unnecessary hardship. For decades, men and women of the conservative mold have been put on notice that they are not welcome for dinner in the king makers’ homes, let alone a seat at the kiddie table. Meanwhile, the statist bureaucrats went about planning their utopia. Who knew that the trimmings of paradise include perpetual unemployment, high crime and abandoned buildings?

Detroit has been spending on average $100 million more than it has taken in for each of the past five years. The city’s $11 billion in unsecured debt includes $6 billion in health and other retirement benefits and $3 billion in retiree pensions for its 20,000 city pensioners, who are slated to receive less than 10 percent of what they were promised. Between 2007 and 2011, an astounding 36 percent of residents lived below the poverty line. Last year, the FBI cited Detroit as having the highest violent crime rate for any major American city. In the first 12 years of the new century, Detroit lost more than 26 percent of its population.

And now Detroit’s desperate request for a bailout has been turned down by the Obama White House.

Back in May I was talking to a good friend on an assortment of topics via email. I’ve made a few stylistic edits to his email, but here is essentially what he said about how the total surrender to big government has doomed Detroit:

Since there is no personal responsibility in the liberal’s world, there are no personal human failings. He believes only the system corrupts, and yet he is also of the mindset that the government can solve all things. It’s confusing because he wants to add on to the system that he hates.

I’d point out that when the government dominates every facet of life you inevitably get the mess we find in Detroit. The people who suffer the most are the poor, tax-paying citizens the liberal wants to protect (if there are any jobs left).

Unions and politicians artificially inflated wages in Detroit. They taxed heavy to “look out for the poor.” They filtered every city contract through a government committee that led to worse corruption. They threw money at everything, and now look where they’re at.

Talking Biblically to the secular liberal is often difficult because belief in God forces you to acknowledge you are a sinner, which forces you to look at yourself. It’s much easier to blame the system.

Spot on. In the days and weeks ahead watch as the people of Detroit find 1,001 different scapegoats for their profligate ways. Corporations? Check. Racism? Check. Random Republicans from outside the city? Check. George W. Bush? Check.

Word to the wise: When you find your life spiraling out of control, close your eyes and look deep within yourself to figure out what’s going on. The reasons for your problems won’t end up being because of external factors in the vast majority of cases. Your personal problems almost always exist because of you. Likewise, Detroit has no one to blame for becoming an embarrassment to the nation but itself.

I do not take pleasure in watching the citizens of Detroit squirm. I feel for the mothers and fathers who must raise their children in a violent city and I sympathize with able-bodied men and women who want desperately to work — but can’t — because businesses have been scared away. To laugh at Detroit would be to deny the reality closing in on the nation as a whole. If it isn’t too late already, it’s time for America to get serious about fiscal discipline. The alternative? It isn’t pretty.

Dick Durbin: If you have a tumor, letting it grow is always an option

Dick Durbin Debt Liver Tumor

Recently, Lee Doren of CEI covered the “Wealth Inequality in America” video that went viral. In the feedback section of my blog, a liberal drive-by commenter said that I appeared to be an “elitist” for suggesting that the makers of the video purposefully muddied the waters between “income” and “wealth” because I believe large swathes of the public doesn’t particularly make a distinction between the two.

I rejected that claim because the truth is not elitist. Likewise, politicians know this is the truth, which is why you have Sen. Dick Durbin talking about deficits when he was specifically asked about debt.

Liberals are masters at twisting and contorting language until people throw up their hands in frustration or simply go along with whatever definition they’ve come up with on that day.

Note this exchange on March 17 between Sen. Durbin and Chris Wallace:

Chris Wallace: Sen. Durbin, when candidate Obama said that [$9 trillion in debt was “unpatriotic”], our national debt was $9 trillion. It’s now $16 trillion. So the question is: If it was unpatriotic at $9 trillion, is it sustainable at $16 trillion?

Dick Durbin: “Chris, here’s the good news: We’ve reduced the long term deficit by about 2.4 trillion dollars. That’s included only $6 billion in new revenue [i.e., tax hikes] as part of the fiscal cliff. We still have to do more, but we’ve taken the edge off the crisis, I’ll concede that. What the president is pointing to is this: We need strong economic recovery. We need to put Americans back to work. That’s our first priority. Deficit reduction I would put as the second priority and one that is coupled with economic growth. So I think we can do both. Make sure we have deficit reduction, but don’t cut too much, too fast.

Take for example the sequestration. Seven hundred thousand American jobs will be lost. This is not the thing to do and not the right time to do it. We’ve got to phase this in and sequence it so that we have economic growth and Americans paying taxes.

As I’ve said before, when Washington officials lament “cuts,” what they’re really talking about is going into debt at a slower rate than they would like.

BL-sequestration-size-comparisonThink of the federal government or the national debt like a tumor. It grows and it grows and it grows. At some point, even the operation needed to save the life of the afflicted could end up resulting in death. The tumor gets too close or attached to vital organs. Too much blood loss would occur if it was removed by anyone except the most skilled surgeon. The body has grown too weak to survive attempts to excise the cancer.

That is where the United States finds itself today, and it’s precisely what men like Dick Durbin are counting on. If they can continue to play word games long enough, the tumor will grow. And in this tale Durbin plays a deranged doctor who knows he can keep prescribing the wrong medicine and collecting his patient’s cash because he will be long gone by the time the body goes into cardiac arrest.

Sen. Durbin has talked to all the actuaries. He has seen all the numbers by the CBO, OMB, etc. He knows the interest on the national debt alone will break us at some point in the not-to-distant future. And yet he continues to misinform the American people.

America is sick right now, and millions of citizens don’t realize that they’ve hired the political equivalent of Jack Kevorkian to heal the nation.

Barring some sort of technological breakthrough that changes the country’s fiscal trajectory, this will end badly. And when it does, history must note that men like Sen. Durbin willingly allowed it to happen.

Uncle Sam copy

The Jenga Economy: Brought to you by the federal government

Obama Jenga Economy

$16 trillion. $17 trillion. $18 trillion. The debt continues to grow, and most elected officials don’t seem to care. I have shied away from making my own graphics, but in this instance I think the “Jenga” analogy is fitting.

As the government accumulates more and more debt, the threat to the overall economy becomes increasingly perilous. The average person thinks of the national debt: “it doesn’t affect my life,” but … it will when The Jenga Economy comes crashing down.

Conservatives have been trying to make this case for quite some time now, and both Democrats and Republicans have ignored them.

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of people say that if the country wanted to put President Obama back in office for a second time — the very same guy who said on David Letterman that our debt is a “long term problem” — then they deserve to feel the pain that comes from a financial meltdown. I’ve heard a lot of people say that if the American people want to listen to Democrats like Rep. Nancy “it’s a false argument” to say we have a spending problem Pelosi … or to Sen. Steny “we have a paying for problem” Hoyer … then it’s time for conservatives to salute the fools and wait for them at rock bottom to say, “I told you so.”

I understand these feelings, but I’m torn as to how to address them. I worked myself ragged leading up to the past election, trying to convince my fellow Americans of the impending financial crisis that is a mathematical certainty if we don’t seriously address these issues sooner rather than later — and then president Obama was handily reelected.

Now, the president is going around saying that if roughly 2.4 percent of federal spending is “cut” (i.e., we still go further into debt, just at a slower rate) due to sequestration, then planes will not run on time, first responders will not respond, and military readiness will suffer grave consequences.

My response? On some level, I have better things to do with my time than to try and convince “low information voters” of how insulting this sequestration debate is to anyone who knows basic addition and subtraction.

BL-sequestration-size-comparison

But don’t those of us who love our country have a responsibility to try our very best to reach our fellow citizens, even if they’re the same ones spending most of their free time making mindless YouTube videos or watching rejects without shame on reality television?

It’s a good question, and as of yet I don’t have a definitive answer.

This blogger, however, is worn out. I will continue to write, but for the next few months posts will more frequently be sacrificed in favor of reading books I’m ashamed to have still not made time for (e.g., ‘Witness’) and to finish some creative writing projects that are collecting dust. (Since this blog has critiqued certain men in the comic industry, it’s time I put up or shut up.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with Mr. Chambers.

Hoyer: Congress ‘has a paying-for problem’ (i.e., Hoyer thinks you’re an idiot)

Steny Hoyer

The United States is closing in on being $17 trillion in debt. Do a little research on just how monumentally huge 1 trillion is. Then come back and read Rep. Steny Hoyer’s reaction to a very simple question:

CNBC Analyst: Does the country have a spending problem sir? Does the country have a spending problem?

Hoyer: Does the country have a spending problem? The country has a paying for problem. We haven’t paid for what we bought, we haven’t paid for our tax cuts, we haven’t paid for war.

CNBC Analyst: How about what we promised? Are we promising too much?

Hoyer: Absolutely. If we don’t pay, we shouldn’t buy.

CNBC Analyst: So how is that different than a spending problem?

Hoyer: Well, we spent a lot of money when George Bush was president of the United States in the House and Senate were controlled by Republicans. We spent a lot of money. (CNBC, February 12, 2013)

Now, I’d like you to read an excerpt from The Declaration of Independence:

“But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

I am a patient man. In fact, I am a very patient man. But, given that we have elected “leaders” who can look at the size of our current debt obligations and unfunded mandates promised to future generations — and still say with a straight face: “we have a paying-for problem,” my patience goes out the window. If I was at a town hall meeting and asked that very same question, and THAT was the answer I received, Mr. Hoyer’s personal security guards might very well have to rip me off the man and haul me to the slammer because I seriously would consider throttling his neck.

These comments come only a day after Nancy Pelosi said that saying the U.S. has a spending problem is a “false argument.”

Let us not get into the fact that a “cut” in Washington is in reality a decision to go deeper into debt at a slower rate than previously agreed upon. Let us not talk about the false logic that the government has to “pay” for tax cuts; it was never the government’s money to begin with. Let us instead focus on the fact that the U.S. is currently run by a bunch of narcissistic clowns who are stealing the wealth of future generations. They are lowering the standard of living for your kids and grandchildren. They are setting the stage for an epic financial meltdown — and they are supposed to be the guardians of future security.

They are not guardians; they are destroyers masquerading as guardians. The lexical b*****it they try to pass off on the American people is breathtaking. And the sad thing is, they’re getting away with it because the “guardians” of our education system and the watchmen in the Fourth Estate decided long ago that it was better to bed the destroyers than to stand up to them in battle.

As I said before: I am a patient man. I am not a violent man. But millions of Americans are not as patient and are not as slow to anger, and if the feelings that bubble up in me when I see Rep. Steny Hoyer make a mockery of the nation’s fiscal insanity are shared by even a small percentage of the population … then there are dark days ahead.

There is a limited amount of time left for elected officials to deal with tsunami of debt coming our way. Its amplitude blocks out the sun. Soon the amplitude on the interest alone will block out the sun. If they don’t get serious — soon — it will break not just on the coastal regions, but on the homes and heads of every single American. And no amount of word games will be able to fend off the riots that take place in its wake.

Bill Maher discovers: Subsidizing ‘dirt bags’ creates more ‘dirt bags’

Bill Maher

Either Bill Maher has been watching Dinesh D’Souza videos, or he has been playing Oregon Trail. Whatever the case, it seems as if something went off in his head because he’s finally acknowledging that there are an awful lot of people asking for an awful lot from the American taxpayer. Or perhaps Maher and D’Souza have the same accountant, and the guy explained the situation to each of them using the same wagon metaphor? Who knows.

The “Real Time” host used Friday night’s show to admit that Romney sorta-kinda had a valid point about America’s growing entitlement culture:

Maher: Okay, so basically what Mitt Romney was saying was, you know, “These spongers, these grifters, these people, I wouldn’t piss on them if their ass was on fire because they don’t pay in.” But it’s not really 47 percent. But I, here’s my question: It’s not zero percent either, takers. I mean, there are a lot of dirt bags in this country, and I think it’s somewhere in between 47 and zero. I think we should split the difference and say we have 23.5 percent dirt bags in America. I do. …

And here, listen to this about disability. People who take disability, who are on disability, in 1968 it was 51 to1, people on disability to people who worked. In 2001, not that long ago, it was 23 to 1. Now it’s 13 to 1, 13 people to one who are on disability. Now, of course, you know, some of that is real. We are an overworked, overstressed, polluted, ripped off and lied to people. So, I mean, obviously there are some people who really do have disabilities. But 13 to 1? You know, it just seems like there’s less people pulling the wagon and more people in the wagon, and at some point the wagon is going to break.

Compare the point Maher was making with Dinesh D’souza speaking to a group of college kids at Oregon State University in October, 2012:

Dinesh D’Souza: I’m simply saying that here we are as a country and for two centuries we’ve had people pulling the wagon. And we recognize, and I would agree, that there is a group of people — and you can disagree about how many — but I would say about 10 percent of people are weak and disadvantaged and need to sit in the wagon and need to have the rest of us pull that wagon. Again, you can disagree about how many people should pull the wagon, but that number [of people sitting in the cart] has been increasing considerably.

This is sort of what Romney was getting at. That at some point there are more people in the wagon than there are pulling. And then the people who are pulling begin to think, “Maybe I should stop pulling and get in the wagon. It’s kind of nicer in the wagon.” And what my criticism of Obama is, instead of saying: “Listen, I really want to thank the people who are pulling the wagon,” he goes, “The people who are pulling the wagon are greedy, selfish and materialistic, and the people sitting in the wagon are wonderful.” He is morally demonizing the wagon-pullers and championing the superior morality of the guys who are sitting int here.  And all I’m saying is, this is an inverted morality. The guys who are actually contributing to help the disadvantaged, these are the sacrificial members of our society, and they’re the ones who deserve a little more credit.

Bill Maher is a conundrum. He’s dumb enough to publicly say that “socialism works,” but he is smart enough to identify some of the accounting problems exacerbated by its philosophical implementation. Given that, one must assume that his real problem is that he’s just dishonest. He knows what’s on the horizon. He knows that we are speeding toward that cliff. He knows that the great big debt-tower is going to come crashing down. He knows it’s all a matter of time, but because he wedded himself to a philosophy years ago, he now spends most of his time figuring out ways to obscure its failures. And like Darth Vader, somewhere deep down inside there’s still a piece of him that seeks to do the right thing, and from time to time he’ll say something that makes his droids squirm.

Think about it: Bill Maher, the guy who donated $1 million dollars to Obama’s SuperPAC (and all he got were higher taxes) is now on the same page as the guy who starred in 2016: Obama’s America. Classic.