Balanced Budget Amendment the answer? Boozman says yes, Pryor no (Part 14, Milton Friedman’s view is yes)(The Conspirator, Part 20)

Photo detail

In his book Free to Choose, Milton Friedman described four ways to spend money.

1. You spend your own money on yourself.
2. You spend your own money on someone else.
3. You spend someone else’s money on yourself.
4. You spend someone else’s money on someone else.

The graphic shown in the video that displays the four ways to spend money can be viewed at

Steve Brawner in his article “Safer roads and balanced budgets,” Arkansas News Bureau, April 13, 2011, noted:

The disagreement is over the solutions — on what spending to cut; what taxes to raise (basically none ever, according to Boozman); whether or not to enact a balanced budget amendment (Boozman says yes; Pryor no); and on what policies would promote the kind of economic growth that would make this a little easier.

Steve Brawner in his article “Senators differ on constitutional change,” Arkansas News Bureau, April 20, 2011 noted:

Congress only recently passed the 2011 budget, which should have been done last year. Imagine if every annual budget had to work its way through the judiciary to the Supreme Court.

Finally, for some politicians, supporting a balanced budget amendment is a sleight of hand trick that allows them to avoid talking about the hard choices the nation must make on popular but costly obligations — Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and national defense. It’s much easier to propose a balanced budget amendment, after all, then it is to propose a balanced budget.

My take? I have been a balanced budget amendment supporter in the past, but not now, even with the nation annually bleeding trillions of dollars of red ink. I think it’s a copout. I think it would be ignored. I think in some cases it would be harmful. And I certainly don’t want the court system to take over the budget process. I want Pryor and Boozman, the people I elect, to make tough, responsible choices, just as I do when I balance my budget at home.

Of course, after a few more years of these trillion dollar annual deficits, I might change my mind and decide that being ruled by unelected American judges is preferable to being ruled by the Chinese government.

In Feb of 1983 Milton Friedman wrote the article “Washington:Less Red Ink (An argument that the balanced-budget amendent would be a rare merging of public and private interests),” and here is a portion of that article:

The amendment is very much in the spirit of the first ten amendments–the Bill of Rights. Their purpose was to limit the government in order to free the people. Similarly, the purpose of the balanced-budget-and-tax-limitation amendment is to limit the government in order to free the people–this time from excessive taxation. Its passage would go a long way to remedy the defect that has developed in our budgetary process. By the same token, it would make it more difficult for supporters of ever-bigger government to attain their goals. 

It is no surprise, therefore, that a torrent of criticism has been loosed against the proposed amendment by people who believe that our problems arise not from excessive government but from our failure to give government enough power, enough control over us as individuals. It is no surprise that Tip O’Neill and his fellow advocates of big government tried to prevent a vote in the House on the amendment, and used all the pressure at their command to prevent its receiving a two-thirds majority. 

It is no surprise, either, that when the amendment did come to a vote in the House, a substantial majority voted for it. After all, in repeated opinion polls, more than three quarters of the public have favored such an amendment. Their representatives do not find it easy to disregard that sentiment in an open vote–which is why Democratic leaders tried to prevent the amendment from coming to a vote. When their hand was forced, they quickly introduced a meaningless substitute that was overwhelmingly defeated (346 to 77) but gave some representatives an opportunity to cast a recorded vote for a token budget-balancing amendment while at the same time voting against the real thing. 

I have been much more surprised, and dismayed, by the criticism that has been expressed by persons who share my basic outlook about the importance of limiting government in order to preserve and expand individual freedom–for example, the editors of The Wall Street Journal and a former editor and current columnist, Vermont Royster. They do not question the objectives of the amendment, but they doubt its necessity and potential effectiveness. 

Those doubts are presumably shared by many other thoughtful citizens of all shades of political opinion who are united by concern about the growth of government spending and deficits. 

I love the movie “The Conspirator” and here is a review of it below :

Arkansas Times Blog Review:

‘The Conspirator’ gets mired in its message

by Natalie Elliottclick to enlarge 'THE CONSPIRATOR': Robin Wright Penn stars.

  • ‘THE CONSPIRATOR’: Robin Wright Penn stars.

In his latest feature, director Robert Redford — actor, philanthropist, looker and liberal of much renown — leaves his knack for touchy-feely mom-preferred dramas and descends into the precarious world of American politics. “The Conspirator” focuses on President Lincoln’s brutal assassination and the dashing young Union-war-hero attorney Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy), charged with defending Mary Surratt (a funereal Robin Wright), the widow who runs the boarding house where John Wilkes Booth and his motley team of Confederate sympathizers (Surratt’s son among them) allegedly concocted their plot.

Aiken is given this unenviable task by his superior, Sen. Reverdy Johnson, played by the infallible Tom Wilkinson. Surratt is fingered, rather unnecessarily, by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (Kevin Kline) and is called to appear before a jury of Stanton’s military tribunal cronies in what becomes an increasingly desperate attempt to hold someone, if not many people, accountable for the murder of the greatest American president.

At first one might be inclined to think this is merely an educational re-enactment, perhaps a bit top-heavy with its ensemble cast acting their faces off, as A-listers are so inclined. But historical dramas, like their deformed-twin genre science fiction, are seldom made without some purpose of thinly veiled commentary. “The Conspirator,” for all its earnest admiration of the American institution, lovingly employed period facial hair and handful of standout performances, does little to move beyond its battering ram of a message.

No doubt it takes a filmmaker of great confidence to painstakingly reproduce the murder — in graphic detail — of the Great Emancipator within the first 10 minutes of his picture. While it serves to heighten the drama, the result is a totally jarring opener that leaves the audience wobbly, and, frankly, the acting feels wobbly, too. McAvoy’s tottering performance makes one think he’s only a good actor when speaking in his native brogue. Kline’s Stanton is so flat and reptilian it feels like he belongs in a B movie. And I still have yet to figure out what The Mac Guy and Rory from “Gilmore Girls” are doing in their baffling minutes of screen time — providing a youth-minded anchor?

The brilliantly tense courtroom drama halfway through the film allows some of the actors to regain their footing. When Aiken counsels with Surratt in her spartan prison cell (the only woman held in the same facility as dozens of men) we are reminded of Robin Wright’s ability to destroy us. Evan Rachel Wood’s portrayal of Surratt’s weird daughter gives her a chance to nail the Southern accent she massacred in “Whatever Works.” Throw in a visit from everyone’s favorite character actor, Steven Root (“Newsradio,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”), and things feel comfortably back on track.

While the huge Hollywood ensemble cast might have felt like a good marketing strategy, the sheer heavy-handedness of Surratt’s prisoner-of-war martyrdom, alongside a few disappointing performances, smacks of a bunch of famous liberal bros joining together to make an op-ed flick as a favor to their friend — the kind of concept Fox News hounds lie in wait for. At best, we get to see Robin Wright killing it in a way we perhaps forgot she could, and take away a piece of American history we were probably embarrassingly unfamiliar with — this is absolutely a relevant, compelling story worth telling. And yes, Mr. Redford, Guantanamo — and the treatment and trial of our war prisoners anywhere — is a horrible bungle that our country needs to parse out. Perhaps we should be ashamed of ourselves — but a preachy, underwrought period film is too facile a vehicle for this scolding.

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