Tag Archives: Dan Mitchell

Open letter to President Obama (Part 239)

Is Washington Bankrupting America?

Uploaded by on Apr 20, 2010

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According to a recent poll, 74 percent of likely voters are extremely or very concerned about the current level of government spending. And 58 percent think the level of spending is unsustainable.

Is the public right? Is Washington bankrupting America? Some facts from the video:

Spending per household has risen over 40 percent in the last 10 years and is set to do so again in the next 10 pushing debt (and interest on the debt) to unprecedented levels. But that’s just a result of PAST spending…

Our government owes $106 trillion in FUTURE spending commitments – that cannot be paid for.

We can solve it, but politicians will have to make tough choices. Increasing taxes can’t do the trick ($106 trillion is equivalent to taking all of the taxable income from every American nine times over), nor is it fair to saddle taxpayers with a problem created by government irresponsibility.

We need real spending reform. Merely returning to the spending per household levels of the 1990s would balance the budget in three years.

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President Obama c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here.

When are we going to see REAL SPENDING CUTS? I am tired of this being talked about but not done.

I’m in Slovenia where I just finished indoctrinating educating a bunch of students on the importance of Mitchell’s Golden Rule as a means of restraining the burden of government spending.

And I emphasized that the fiscal problem in Europe is the size of government, not the fact that nations are having a hard time borrowing money. As explained in this video, spending is the disease and deficits are one of the symptoms.

This is also an issue in the United States, and Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal is worried that the GOP ticket is debt-obsessed and doesn’t have sufficient enthusiasm for lower tax rates and tax reform.

Stylistically, Paul Ryan’s Republican convention speech last night was a grand slam. …But was it the growth message that supply-siders wanted to hear, or debt-clock obsession? There were clearly apocalyptic claims. “Before the math and the momentum overwhelm us all, we are going to solve this nation’s economic problems,” said Mr. Ryan in reference to the federal rea ink. “I’m going to level with you; we don’t have that much time.” …In fact, he talked about turning around the economy with “tax fairness.” Ugh, that’s an Obama term. …Larry Kudlow of CNBC and a former Reagan economist tells me, “Paul’s speech just didn’t have the growth, tax-cutting message. We didn’t even get the words tax reform. I don’t know what happened, but it worries me.” It’s a question of priorities. Are Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan signaling that they will put spending cuts ahead of pro-growth tax-rate cuts?

I share Steve’s concern, but with a twist.

I’m not worried that the Republicans will put spending cuts ahead of tax cuts. I’m worried that they won’t do spending cuts at all (even using the dishonest DC definition) and therefore wind up getting seduced into some sort of tax-increase deal that facilitates bigger government.

As a general rule, it is always good to do spending cuts (however defined). And it is always good to lower tax rates. And if you can do both at the same time, even better.

But since I have low expectations, I’ll be delighted if we “merely” manage to get entitlement reform during a Romney-Ryan Administration. That would mean some progress on the spending side and presumably reduce the risk of bad things (like a VAT!) on the revenue side.

_________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

Open letter to President Obama (Part 231)

President Obama c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here.

We got to stop all the red ink. How can keep our federal spending at the high level it is at now and not end up in Greece? As the president you should take the bull by the horns and balance the budget!!!!

The burden of federal spending in the United States was down to 18.2 percent of gross domestic product when Bill Clinton left office.

But this progress didn’t last long. Thanks to George Bush’s reckless spending policies, the federal budget grew about twice as fast as the economy, jumping by nearly 90 percent in just eight years This pushed federal spending up to about 25 percent of GDP.

President Obama promised hope and change, but he has kept spending at this high level rather than undoing the mistakes of his predecessor.

This new video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation uses examples of waste, fraud, and abuse to highlight President Obama’s failed fiscal policy.

Published on Aug 12, 2012 by

This mini-documentary from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation highlights egregious examples of wasteful spending from the so-called stimulus legislation and explains why government spending hurts economic performance.

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Good stuff, though the video actually understates the indictment against Obama. There is no mention, for instance, about all the new spending for Obamacare that will begin to take effect over the next few years.

But not everything can be covered in a 5-minute video. And I suspect the video is more effective because it closes instead with some discussion of the corrupt insider dealing of Obama’s so-called green energy programs.

__________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

Open letter to President Obama (Part 230)

 

President Obama c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here.

You have seen the figures like I have Mr. President. Social Security will run out of money in the next few decades.

Liberals that say that Social Security is running fine don’t want to live in the real world but in a make-believe liberal world that doesn’t exist.

I don’t give the issue much attention on this blog, but I’m very interested in Social Security reform. I wrote my dissertation on Australia’s very successful system of personal retirement accounts, for instance, and I narrated this video on Social Security reform in the United States.

So I was very interested to see that the Associated Press put out a story warning about the dismal state of the program’s finances.

Here’s some of what the AP reported.

For nearly three decades Social Security produced big surpluses, collecting more in taxes from workers than it paid in benefits to retirees, disabled workers, spouses and children. The surpluses also helped mask the size of the budget deficit being generated by the rest of the federal government. Those days are over. Since 2010, Social Security has been paying out more in benefits than it collects in taxes… The projected shortfall in 2033 is $623 billion, according to the trustees’ latest report. It reaches $1 trillion in 2045 and nearly $7 trillion in 2086, the end of a 75-year period used by Social Security’s number crunchers because it covers the retirement years of just about everyone working today. Add up 75 years’ worth of shortfalls and you get an astonishing figure: $134 trillion. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $30.5 trillion in 2012 dollars, or eight times the size of this year’s entire federal budget.

First of all, kudos to the AP. I criticized them for a sloppy and biased report on poverty last month, so it behooves me to mention that their story on Social Security is mostly fair and accurate.

My only complaint is that the story does include some analysis of the Social Security Trust Fund, even though that supposed Fund is nothing but a pile of IOUs – money that one part of the government promises to give to another part of the government.

But let’s set that aside. Another interesting tidbit from the story is this quote from one of the kleptocrats at the American Association of Retired Persons. Note that he implicitly rules out any changes other than those that enable the government to “pay the benefits we promised.”  But that shouldn’t be a surprise. AARP is part of the left-wing coalition.

“I’m not suggesting we need to wait 20 years but we do have time to make changes to Social Security so that we can pay the benefits we promised,” said David Certner, AARP’s legislative policy director. “Let’s face it. Relative to a lot of other things right now, Social Security is in pretty good shape.”

But I will say that Mr. Certner is sort of correct about Social Security being in better shape than Medicare and Medicaid. But that’s like saying the guy with lung cancer who is 75 lbs overweight is in better shape than the two guys with brain tumors who are both 150 lbs overweight.

If you have to engage in fiscal triage, it would be smart to first address Medicare and Medicaid, but Social Security also needs reform. And not the kind of statist reform the folks at AARP would like to see.

By the way, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that President Obama’s approach is similar to the left-wingers at AARP. Here’s a video I narrated about his preferred policy.

It seems that the question doesn’t matter with this administration. The answer is always to impose more class-warfare tax policy.

P.S. If you need to be cheered up after reading this post, here’s a good cartoon showing the difference between Social Security and a Ponzi scheme, and here’s another cartoon showing what inspired Bernie Madoff to steal so much money.

__________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

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Open letter to President Obama (Part 229)

 

President Obama c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here.

One thing that stands out about Dan Mitchell is that is not a Democrat or a Republican but a lover of freedom like Milton Friedman was. Don’t you want to take up for freedom like Dan does? Don’t you think we should attempt to grow the private sector more than the public sector? Take a look at this article of his below.

Posted by Ryan Minto on August 16, 2012

By DANIEL J. MITCHELL

Thanks to several years of fiscal restraint during the 1990s, the burden of federal spending dropped to 18.2% of gross domestic product by the time Bill Clinton left office. The federal budget today consumes more than 24% of economic output, a one-third increase since 2001 in the share of the U.S. economy allocated by politics rather than market forces. That makes the Republican House budget, which would reverse this trend, extremely important for the economic health of the country.

Both political parties deserve blame for the spending spree that’s put America in a fiscal ditch. President George W. Bush was a big spender and President Obama has compounded the damage with his stimulus spending and other programs.

But the era of bipartisan big government may have come to an end. Largely thanks to Rep. Paul Ryan and the fiscal blueprint he prepared as chairman of the House Budget Committee earlier this year, the GOP has begun climbing back on the wagon of fiscal sobriety and has shown at least some willingness to restrain the growth of government.

The Ryan budget has generated considerable controversy in Washington, and it will become even more of an issue now that Mr. Ryan is Mitt Romney’s running mate. So it’s an appropriate time to analyze the plan and consider what it would mean for America.

image

Chad Crowe

The most important headline about the Ryan budget is that it limits the growth rate of federal spending, with outlays increasing by an average of 3.1% annually over the next 10 years. If spending is left on autopilot, by contrast, it would grow by 4.3% (or nearly 39% faster). If President Obama is re-elected, the burden of spending presumably will climb more rapidly.

This comes as a surprise to many people since the press is filled with stories about the Ryan budget imposing trillions of dollars of “savage” and “draconian” spending cuts. All of these stories, however, are based on Washington’s misleading budget process that automatically assumes an ever-expanding government. The 4.3% “base line” increase is the benchmark for measuring “cuts”—even though spending is rising rather than falling, and it’s only the rate of spending growth that is being slowed.

Even limiting spending so it grows by 3.1% per year, as Mr. Ryan proposes, quickly leads to less red ink. This is because federal tax revenues are projected by the House Budget Committee to increase 6.6% annually over the next 10 years if the House budget is approved (and this assumes the Bush tax cuts are made permanent). Since revenues would climb more than twice as fast as spending, the deficit would drop to about 1% of gross domestic product by the end of the 10-year budget window.

To balance the budget within 10 years would require that outlays grow by about 2% each year. Spending in the Ryan budget means the federal budget reaches balance in 2040. There are many who would prefer that the deficit come down more quickly, but from a jobs and growth perspective, it isn’t the deficit that matters.

Rather, what matters for prosperity and living standards is the degree to which labor and capital are used productively. This is why policy makers should focus on reducing the burden of government spending as a share of GDP—leaving more resources in the private economy.

The simple way of making this happen is to follow what I’ve been calling the golden rule of good fiscal policy: The private sector should grow faster than the government. This is what happens with the Ryan budget. The Congressional Budget Office expects nominal economic output (before inflation) to grow about 5% each year over the next decade. So if federal spending grows 3.1% annually, the burden of federal spending slowly shrinks as a share of GDP.

According to the House Budget Committee, the federal budget would consume slightly less than 20% of economic output if the Ryan budget remained in place for 10 years. This would be remarkable progress considering that the federal government is now consuming 24% of GDP vs. Mr. Clinton’s 18.2% in 2001. If Paul Ryan’s policies are social Darwinism, as Mr. Obama and his allies allege, one can only speculate where Bill Clinton ranks in their estimation.

Spending restraint also creates more leeway for good tax policy. Regardless of what you think about deficits, the political reality is that it is difficult to lower tax rates if government borrowing remains at high or rising levels. If deficit spending continues at current levels, then higher tax rates are almost sure to follow. And higher tax rates can’t create an environment conducive to more investment and jobs.

The Ryan budget avoids this unpleasant outcome by addressing the problem of excessive government spending. This makes it possible to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax-rate reductions. It also clears the way for other pro-growth reforms, such as Gov. Romney’s proposed across-the-board 20% income tax cut, a more competitive 25% corporate tax rate, and less double-taxation of dividends and capital gains.

One of the best features of the Ryan budget is that he reforms the two big health entitlements instead of simply trying to save money. Medicaid gets block-granted to the states, building on the success of welfare reform in the 1990s. And Medicare is modernized by creating a premium-support option for people retiring in 2022 and beyond.

This is much better than the traditional Beltway approach of trying to save money with price controls on health-care providers and means testing on health-care consumers. Price controls are notoriously ineffective—because health-care providers adapt by ordering more tests and procedures—and politically unsustainable due to lobbying pressure. Means testing imposes an indirect penalty on people who save and invest during their working years. That should be a nonstarter for a political party that seeks to encourage productive behavior and discourage dependency.

But good entitlement policy also is a godsend for taxpayers, particularly in the long run. Without reform, the burden of federal spending will jump to 35% of GDP by 2040, compared to 18.75% of output under the Ryan budget.

Assuming the GOP ticket prevails in November, Mitt Romney will make the big decisions on fiscal policy. But there is no escaping the fiscal math. If Mr. Romney intends to keep his no-tax-hike promise, he has to restrain the growth of spending. This doesn’t mean he has to go with every detail of the Ryan budget—but it’s certainly a good place to start.

Mr. Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute.

A version of this article appeared August 16, 2012, on page A11 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: What’s Really in the Ryan Budget.

__________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

The real truth about the financial condition of Social Security can be seen on the www.thedailyhatch.org

Uploaded by on Jan 8, 2009

Professor Williams explains what’s ahead for Social Security

If you want to know the real truth about the financial condition of Social Security then check out these links below:

Ark Times reader says Social Security is not Ponzi Scheme

Social Security is a Ponzi Scheme but Blake who is a blogger said I was off base. Ark Times reader says Social Security is not Ponzi Scheme Social Security Disaster Walter E. Williams Columnist, Townhall.com Politicians who are principled enough to point out the fraud of Social Security, referring to it as a lie and […]

Social Security is a Ponzi scheme that needs to be reformed

We got to do something soon about Social Security. The Case for Social Security Personal Accounts Posted by Daniel J. Mitchell There are two crises facing Social Security. First the program has a gigantic unfunded liability, largely caused by demographics. Second, the program is a very bad deal for younger workers, making them pay record […]

Senator Obama’s ideas on Social Security

Senator Obama’s Social Security Tax Plan Uploaded by afq2007 on Jul 23, 2008 In addition to several other tax increases, Senator Barack Obama wants to increase the Social Security payroll tax burden by imposing the tax on income above $250,000. This would be a sharp departure from current law, which only requires that the tax […]

Social Security is a Ponzi scheme (part 13)

Saving Social Security with Personal Retirement Accounts Uploaded by afq2007 on Jan 10, 2011 There are two crises facing Social Security. First the program has a gigantic unfunded liability, largely thanks to demographics. Second, the program is a very bad deal for younger workers, making them pay record amounts of tax in exchange for comparatively meager benefits. This […]

What does the Heritage Foundation have to say about saving Social Security:Study released May 10, 2011 (Part 7)

“Saving the American Dream: The Heritage Plan to Fix the Debt, Cut Spending, and Restore Prosperity,” Heritage Foundation, May 10, 2011 by  Stuart Butler, Ph.D. , Alison Acosta Fraser and William Beach is one of the finest papers I have ever read. Over the next few days I will post portions of this paper, but […]

Only difference between Ponzi scheme and Social Security is you can say no to Ponzi Scheme jh2d

Is Social Security  a Ponzi Scheme? I just started a series on this subject. In this article below you will see where the name “Ponzi scheme” came from and if it should be applied to the Social Security System. Ponzi! Ponzi! Ponzi! 9/14/2011 | Email John Stossel | Columnist’s Archive Ponzi! Ponzi! Ponzi! There, I […]

Social Security a Ponzi scheme?

Uploaded by LibertyPen on Jan 8, 2009 Professor Williams explains what’s ahead for Social Security Dan Mitchell on Social Security I have said that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and sometimes you will hear someone in the public say the same thing. Yes, It Is a Ponzi Scheme by Michael D. Tanner Michael Tanner […]

Dan Mitchell on Social Security

 

 

Open letter to President Obama (Part 224)

Washington Could Learn a Lot from a Drug Addict

Uploaded by on Jul 8, 2011

Washington’s chronic overspending is just like a junkie’s addiction to drugs. Unless the cycle of addiction is broken, our economic and unemployment situation will continue to suffer. Washington is out of time. To avoid hitting rock bottom, Washington must cut spending today. To spread this message, Washington Could Learn a Lot has created this video. Learn more at washingtoncouldlearnalot.com.

Update: Now, our economic situation has deteriorated even further. We are now approaching $15 trillion in debt and Congress has raised the debt ceiling 11 times in the past ten years.

Washington Could Learn a Lot is a project of Public Notice Research & Education Fund (PNREF). PNREF is an independent non-profit dedicated to educating the American people about economic policy and the principles of economic freedom.

Through our education and awareness projects, PNREF will explore the future consequences of public policies being enacted today.

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President Obama c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here.

We got to lower spending and not raise taxes. It is sad to me that the left acts like they are taking up for the middle class but they know that the largest amount of money they can raise is from the middle class and they will eventually get around to raising taxes on them.

While I disagree with statists, I sometimes admire their discipline. They are very good at staying “on message.”

I am 100 percent confident, for instance, that they intend big tax hikes on the middle class, even though they would piously swear an oath to the contrary. Indeed, I suspect more than 90 percent of them secretly would like a value-added tax.

It’s not that they necessarily dislike ordinary people, but privately they understand that you can’t finance big government by taxing rich people.

Simply stated, there aren’t enough of the “1 percent.” Moreover, rich people have significant control over the timing, composition, and level of their income, so class-warfare tax hikes inevitably will fail to generate much revenue (yes, the Laffer Curve exists).

So it makes sense that they want to screw the middle class, but it’s also obvious that they don’t want to admit this is their goal. As such, it’s always interesting and revealing when folks on the left slip up and admit their true intentions.

In recent days, more leftists have come out of the we-only-want-to-tax-the-rich closet.

Here’s some of what Jared Bernstein, former economist for Vice President Biden, just wrote for the U.K.’s Financial Times.

That plan will have to include tax increases beyond just the wealthiest households, although that is the right place to start. But what should happen next? …The best thing to do, once the economic recovery is solidly under way, is to simply let the Bush tax cuts expire and return to the tax structure that prevailed under Bill Clinton. …I’d urge Democrats to be forthright with the fact that we’re way below where we need to be in terms of revenue collection.

Bernstein, by the way, was a co-author of the infamous prediction that enacting Obama’s stimulus would keep the unemployment rate below 8 percent.

The Washington Post also is on board with the idea of big tax hikes on ordinary folks.

…it’s impossible to tackle the federal debt by taxing only the wealthy. …the middle class is going to have to pay more…the only way to achieve tax reform with a reasonable increase in revenue is to reset everyone’s rates at Clinton-era levels.

Keep in mind, by the way, that these proposals are just the tip of the iceberg. Once tax rates are pushed back to 2000 levels, then the drumbeat will sound for additional tax hikes.

“The middle class is an easy target”

And, sooner or later, the left will push for its big goal of a value-added tax.

This is not a trivial threat. Obama, for instance, already has expressed support, saying that the VAT is “something that has worked for other countries.” Romney’s also untrustworthy on the issue, having left the door open to this European-style national sales tax.

But the main point of this post is to explain that class-warfare taxes on the rich are a real threat, but they’re also just the camel’s nose under the tent. The left’s real goal is to fleece the middle class.

There’s no way to boost the burden of government spending to European levels without mimicking European tax policies.

And the dirty little secret about European tax policy is that taxes on the rich are about the same on both sides of the Atlantic. The reason government is so much bigger in Europe is that they ransack the middle class.

______________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

Open letter to President Obama (Part 223)

(This letter was mailed before September 1, 2012)

President Obama c/o The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here.

The Flat Tax is the way to go.

I appeared on CNBC a couple of days ago to discuss a new report which claims that some big U.S. companies “only” paid 9 percent of their income to the government.

While I’m a bit skeptical of the numbers (did it include the taxes paid to foreign governments, for instance, which can be substantial for multinational firms?), I confess I didn’t read the report.

So I focused on the best way of getting rid of corrupt loopholes while simultaneously boosting the competitiveness of America companies.

In other words, I said we should rip up the wretched internal revenue code and implement a simple and fair flat tax.

As is my habit, allow me to emphasize a few points from the interview.

  1. It’s good to keep money in the productive sector of the economy because we shouldn’t feed the spending addiction in DC.
  2. If tax rates are low, there’s much less incentive for companies to lobby for loopholes.
  3. The only feasible and desirable tax reform is to simultaneously eliminate tax breaks while lowering tax rates.
  4. The marginal tax rate is what determines incentives for new investment and job creation, which is why America’s highest-in-the-world 35 percent corporate tax rate is a major problem even if average tax rates are much lower.

Sadly, I’m not holding my breath expecting improvements.

Even though tax reform should appeal to well-meaning liberals, Obama seems committed to the class-warfare approach . Romney, meanwhile, mostly wants to tinker with the current system (when he’s not saying worrisome things about a value-added tax).

____________

Thank you so much for your time. I know how valuable it is. I also appreciate the fine family that you have and your commitment as a father and a husband.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733, lowcostsqueegees@yahoo.com

Greece going broke before the USA?

Federal Spending by the Numbers

Uploaded by on Jun 10, 2010

http://blog.heritage.org/2010/06/10/new-video-federal-spending-by-the-numbers The Federal Government is addicted to spending. Watch this video from the Heritage Foundation to learn about the trouble we are in and where to find solutions.

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Greece going broke before the USA? We got to control the entitlement mentality.

I wrote yesterday that the United Kingdom is doomed because there isn’t a political party with the vision or courage to restrain the welfare state.

At various points, I’ve also expressed pessimism about the future of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and even the United States.

Simply stated, almost all western nations suffer from the same toxic combination of dependency, demographic decline, and poorly structured entitlement programs.

But some nations are heading in the wrong direction more rapidly than others, and Greece is best example (perhaps I should say worst example?) of a country that is careening toward catastrophe.

It’s such a basket case that I’m not sure whether the politicians or the people deserve the lion’s share of the blame.

  •  The politicians deserve blame because they treat public office as a tool for self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement, largely by steering taxpayer money to friends, cronies, contributors, and supporters. Sometimes they do this in a search for votes. Sometimes in a search for cash.
  •  The people deserve blame because they view the state as a magical source of freebies and they see no economic or moral problem with using a coercive government to steal from fellow citizens. They realize the system is corrupt, which is why they seek to evade taxes, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to live at the expense of others.

In a best-case scenario, this type of dysfunctional system reduces prosperity. But when the number of people mooching off the state reaches a critical mass (as illustrated by these two cartoons), then you get societal meltdown.

Which is a good description of what’s happening in Greece.

And even when the government is on the verge of collapse and there’s pressure for reform, the political elite somehow figure out how to screw things up.

The latest example is the possible creation of “special economic zones.” When I first glanced at the story excerpted below, I thought this meant the Greek government was going to create something akin to “enterprise zones” featuring lower tax rates and less red tape.

Because I’m a supporter of the law applying equally to everybody, I’m not a big fan of such policies. I want to reduce the burden of government, of course, but I want that approach for entire countries, not just a handful of areas selected by politicians.

But at least the concept is good, right?

Not when Greek politicians are involved. They have taken the worst features of enterprise zones and combined them with the worst features of redistributionism. Here’s some of the story from Ekathimerini.

The government is paving the way for negotiations with the European Commission regarding the creation of special economic zones (SEZ) in Greece, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis confirmed on Tuesday in Athens. …“SEZ will give a boost to the basis of the real economy,” said Hatzidakis, reiterating that the existing labor legislation will be fully respected. ..This forms part of the 10-point priority plan Hatzidakis announced yesterday aimed at boosting growth. Changes to the investment incentives law and the fast-track regulations will be completed within the next 15 days. The bill to be prepared will include subsidies of up to 80 percent for smaller companies… Public-private partnerships will be used for bolstering regional growth.

So the zones will keep all the bad labor laws, but provide big subsidies and create “public-private partnerships” (i.e., cronyism).

I hate to sound negative all the time, but that sounds precisely like the kind of nonsense that put Greece in a ditch to begin with.

To be fair, the article does talk about targeted tax relief and accelerated procedures for dealing with red tape. But that’s not exactly good news. Targeted tax cuts are a form of discrimination and they create an environment favorable to lobbying and corruption. And while it seems like good news to approve licenses more quickly, why not just get rid of bureaucratic hurdles? After all, this is the country (this is not a joke) that requires stool samples from entrepreneurs seeking to set up online companies.

It’s very hard to have any optimism after reading this type of story. Greece surely is an example of statism run amok, but let’s return to the point I made above about almost all other western nations heading in the same direction. Greece may be closest to the fiscal cliff, but the rest of us are driving in the same direction.

And if you think this is overheated rhetoric (yes, I’m prone to hyperbole), check out these dismal numbers from the Bank for International Settlements and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

P.S. The BIS and OECD numbers show that the United States is in worse shape – in the long run – than every European welfare state. I assume this is largely based on assumptions of health care spending rising more rapidly in America. The bad news is that this is a reasonable assumption (thanks to our third-party payer problem). The good news is that we can easily solve the problem with a combination of entitlement reform (which deals with a direct cause of third-party payer) and tax reform (which deals with an indirect cause of third-party payer).

Letting the Federal Reserve continue to print money is not the way to go

Letting the Federal Reserve continue to print money is not the way to go.

Ron Paul has made “End the Fed” a popular slogan, but some people worry that this is a radical untested idea. In part, this is because it is human nature to fear the unknown.

But there are plenty of examples of policy reforms that used to be considered radical but are now commonplace.

This list could go on, but the pattern is always the same. People assume something has to be done by government because “that’s the way it’s always been.” Then reform begins to happen and the myth is busted.

But is money somehow different? Not according to some experts.

Here’s some of what John Stossel wrote in a recent column.

Why must our government make currency competition illegal? …Competition is generally good. Why not competition in currencies? Most people I interviewed scoffed at the idea. They said private currency should be illegal. But impressive thinkers disagree. In 1975, a year after he won the Nobel Prize in economics, F.A. Hayek published “Choice in Currency,”which has inspired a generation of “free banking” economists. Hayek taught us that competition not only respects individual liberty, it produces essential knowledge we cannot obtain any other way. Any central bank is limited in its access to such knowledge, and subject to political pressure, no matter how independent it’s supposed to be. “This monopoly of government, like the postal monopoly, has its origin not in any benefit it secures for the people but solely in the desire to enhance the coercive powers of government,” Hayek wrote. “I doubt whether it has ever done any good except to the rulers and their favorites. All history contradicts the belief that governments have given us a safer money than we would have had without their claiming an exclusive right to issue it.” Former Federal Reserve economist David Barker discussed this idea recently with me. “There are a lot of ways that private money might be better,” Barker said. “It might have embedded chips that would make it easier to count.” The chips would also prevent counterfeiting. There used to be private currencies. A businessman who sold iron and tin made coins that advertised his business. The Georgia Railroad Co. also produced its own currency. This became illegal in 1864 — Abraham Lincoln was a fan of central banking.

Stossel’s historical references are particularly important. As I explain in this video, many nations – including the United States – used to have competing currencies.

Uploaded by on Mar 21, 2011

The Federal Reserve has existed for almost 100 years and it has created depressions, recessions, inflation, and bubbles. This CF&P Foundation video explains the origin of central banking and mentions possible alternatives that will be discussed in subsequent mini-documentaries.

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And if you want a thorough analysis of the Fed’s performance, I urge you to watch this George Selgin speech. Then ask yourself whether we would have been in better shape with private currencies.

Videos on government debt

Federal Spending by the Numbers

Uploaded by on Jun 10, 2010

http://blog.heritage.org/2010/06/10/new-video-federal-spending-by-the-numbers The Federal Government is addicted to spending. Watch this video from the Heritage Foundation to learn about the trouble we are in and where to find solutions.

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Here’s a riddle for policy wonks. What do you get if you take my videos on the  economics of government spending and mix them in a blender with my videos on America’s entitlement crisis?

You get this concise but compelling video from the Blaise Ingoglia at Government Gone Wild.

Blaise has several other videos I strongly recommend.

You’ll notice a common theme in all his videos: He lays out the facts in a blunt, hard-hitting manner.

And if you watch all of them, you’ll realize that government is the problem, not the solution.