Steve Scroggins is a volunteer contributor to the Georgia
Heritage Council who lives in Macon. He is the deranged creative force behind
the X-Files parodies.
Vertical Debt Limit – Commentary by Steve Scroggins, 3/02/2010
On the surface, it might seem that some newer movies might best describe the decades of spending orgies in Washington, D.C. The new movie The Crazies
comes to mind...along with Alice in Wonderland, The Tooth Fairy, and The Wolfman. Aside from the government's criminal negligence to create and transport
a psychosis-inducing bioweapon through the United States, the analogy breaks down for The Crazies...and the others, though bizarre, don't work either beyond their
titles. Now, if the plane carrying the psychosis bioweapon had crashed in D.C. instead of somewhere in Indiana...we might be onto a working theory.
In writing notes for this commentary, the 2000 movie,
VERTICAL LIMIT came to mind. It's a
less cerebral thriller than The Crazies if you can imagine. It's
a story of mountain climbers seeking the summit of K2, the world's second highest peak in Pakistan. The movie's title comes from a reference in the movie
to altitude and its biological impact on the human body. The human body is not adapted to survival at altitudes above 24,000 feet. Above it, the body
can only survive for a period of hours; thus, once above the "Vertical Limit" a person is in the process of dying.
The analogy that struck me is that there is a vertical limit to our national debt load above which our economy begins dying. And the interest we must
pay annually to carry that debt consumes more and more resources that could be better allocated to essential needs. As the debt snowballs, it is inevitable
that more and more confiscation in the form of taxation will be required. At some point, there's not enough revenue left to pay anything except interest.
That is called bankruptcy.
The other reason that movie came to mind was a scene in which climbers slipped and were sliding down a steep slope rapidly toward a cliff over which
awaited certain death. After a few seconds of shock and panic, the climbers began feverishly digging with their ice picks in an attempt to stop the
rapid slide (see the trailer link above). Per the text below, that's the image I have for our country's economic situation. We have a VERY brief time
to stop the slide before it's too late.
Now, to add some perspective, the U.S. official debt of over $12 trillion is 'only' 90-95 percent of our annual GDP. Other developed nations are carrying debts in
excess of 100, 200 and 300 percent of their GDPs. They are closer to the cliff than we are...but that's their problem. We've got to save ourselves
and if necessary, like in the movie, cut any ropes (what Jefferson called "entangling alliances") which might pull us over the cliff with fellow debt
climbers. Also keep in mind that projected U.S. budget deficits nearing a trillion per year are forecasted through 2020.
Even worse, when we combine our
"off the books" debt ($108 trillion) with the official debt of $12 trillion (bearing interest), our total debt is eight hundred (800) percent of our annual GDP. If we could
do without food, clothing and shelter and put every dime of our economy to pay down debts, it would take eight years. Of course, human behavior doesn't work
that way. The Soviet economic model proves it. It took decades to build this mountain of debt; it'll take decades to level it.
For more visual perspective,
illustrates what a trillion dollars would look like in $100 bills. Imagine twelve of those stacked up. Imagine 120 (our total debt). Stacked in a
single pile, it would certainly reach well above the altitude of K2 (the mountain in Vertical Limit) and into outer space.
Worse Than We're Told; Next Election Cycle May Be Too Late - J.A. Davis
Empire or Liberty? - Steve Scroggins
Washington's Integrity - Steve Scroggins
Recent commentaries have focused on the reasons why our country is threatened by economic ruin, namely that we have forgotten our
Founding Principles and wandered into the land of
progressive fantasy and utopian wishes while building a world-wide empire and a military larger than the next ten nations all combined.
www.federalbudget.com, the U.S. has had a budget deficit every year since 1969. Over forty years! No living person besides Bill Gates and a few others
who could be counted on one hand could spend more than their ANNUAL income for over forty years and not be bankrupt. That speaks volumes for the
success of American free enterprise and productivity, that we could accumulate that much wealth as a whole to inspire such confidence in our credit
worthiness. (But that confidence is dwindling fast !!)
It also speaks volumes that the American people have not mustered a sufficient majority of angry citizens to put an end to out-of-control spending.
How gutless and morally disgusting! The longer we wait, the more difficult it will be. We have put off the day of reckoning to the very last hour,
folks. The edge of the bankruptcy cliff is just ahead...VERY CLOSE. Do we have the energy and will to stop our rapid slide over the cliff?
It won't be easy and it won't be painless but it's time to decide. Not deciding is still a decision. Close your eyes and slide into the abyss. Or
start digging with the nails of both feet and both hands to stop the insane joy ride over the cliff.
I write "insane" because our national flirtation with disaster is not a rare or temporary thing. Insanity has been defined as trying the same thing over
and over and expecting a different result each time (like voting for Democrats or Republicans).
We've been impersonating the proverbial "drunken sailor"
for over forty years. Once again, my apologies to drunken sailors everywhere because at least they spend their own money....and they usually spend only
what they carry with them in cash. We have elected representatives who enjoy spending OUR money...or as Jeff Davis corrects, it WAS our money. What's
worse, they're borrowing money to spend now that our children, grandchildren and more distant descendants will have to repay---so that we can live high
today. Those distant descendants will have every right to curse our names. Theft is always wrong, but stealing from unborn children is unconscionable.
Living beyond one's means is a temptation with which many otherwise rational and responsible people have flirted and induldged. But not for forty
Obviously, the problem goes back further than forty years. The worst offenders of the last century were FDR and LBJ and George W. Bush (AKA
Dirty Dubya) and
the Congresses that colluded
with them. Let's never forget that Congress is the only branch with the power of the purse. Presidents propose but Congress enacts, appropriates and
spends. Don't be swayed
by partisans blaming particular Presidents --- any President requires at least several hundred accomplices.
It's notable that Obama blames the current economic crisis on Bush while out the other side of his mouth he advocates for
another entitlement program (universal nationalized health care) that will dwarf the existing three. Let's review.
Terry Easton documented a list to summarize the budget bombs these people built:
The Top-10 Budget-Deficit Time Bombs. It's a brief review of the worst.
The seeds of our current economic disaster were planted decades ago. Social Security is a ponzi scheme started in the 1930s. It's money that the
government takes from our paychecks (and our employers---which means it comes from our pockets) and gives to recipients today and then the government
puts the IOU in the pockets of future taxpayers. There is no mythical "trust fund" or "lockbox" as conjured by
All the money collected (withheld) since the 1930s as FICA, OASDI, Medicare taxes, etc., has already been spent. The ponzi scheme even takes part
of our true debt obligations "off the books." The Baby Boomers are coming to retirement SOON, folks, and the money ain't there. Uncle Sam, the drunken
sailor, "borrowed it" and blew it. Those "off the books" debts are $14 trillion (Social Security), $19 trillion (prescription drugs) and $75 trillion
(Medicare) according to Easton.
Medicare and Medicaid, as part of the Great Society's "War on Poverty,"
are budget timebombs passed by LBJ's cohorts in 1965-66. The Baby Boomer generation will cause a fiscal trainwreck for Medicare, too. These two items
(health care and social security), collectively the entitlement slices, combined
with "defense" expenditures and interest on the public debt consume the vast majority of the total budget pie.
When planning for budget items, the health and
social security items are often referred to as "mandatory" items while defense and other are called "discretionary." The distinction has some basis in
law, but it primarily serves to identify entitlements, that is, promises made mostly by people who have been dead for some time. We inherited those
"unfunded debts" ($108 trillion total) and evidently plan to pass them on to future generations. How can we phase out Social Security and Medicare to
arrest the growth of the $108 trillion obligation? See the bottom line (red text) on the USDebtClock.org site.
Check out this website: www.federalbudget.com
There's always talk and analysis out there about budgets. Budgets, by definition, are just plans. ACTUAL expenditures for the last few years are
what this website shows. Rest assured that the ACTUAL spending will generally exceed the BUDGETED spending, especially if Obama and the current Congress
pass new legislation to nationalize health care (that will be the eventual result of any partial measure seeking "universal coverage."). See also, the Wall
Street Journal analysis of the 2011 budget:
3D interactive Analysis 2011 Federal Budget (WSJ)
The recent commentary entitled,
Empire or Liberty?, makes the case
for curtailing our military spending. According to Patrick Buchanan in
Liquidating the Empire, we
currently spend more on military items than the next ten nations in the world all combined. Does it make sense
for us to borrow ourselves into bankruptcy to police and defend the world? Of course not. There is no possible way to justify the current level of military
spending all around the world as "necessary to our defense or security." [ Empire? ]
My home town of Warner Robins is a "base town." Just the mention of BRAC (Base Realignment And Closure) Committee starts people into a tizzy. I actually know
what the acronym EDIMGIAFAD stands for: Every Day In Middle Georgia Is Air Force Appreciation Day. Robins Air Logistics Center is the economic engine
of central Georgia and for the whole state. I'm well aware that reducing the size of our military, and the military industrial complex that feeds
on it, will be a painful process. I'm equally aware that politicians view Medicare and Social Security as if they were high voltage electric fences. They
won't touch them unless they're shoved into them.
Obviously, we need to radically curtail social spending as well as military spending, cutting as deeply as possible into the welfare/warfare state and to
put every resource we can on
reducing our current debt ($12.4 trillion plus $108 trillion). It will take years, decades realistically, to eliminate our interest-bearing debt and set
aside money to fund entitlement obligations in a truly untouchable escrow trust fund. We need to start now before the debt
overwhelms us. As you can see, the clock is ticking...
Click here for U.S. debt details.
This government website below will give you a snapshot at any given moment (excludes "off the books" obligations):
The US Debt Clock links above provide links to numerous other resources as well.
Bush, the big spender "compassionate conservative," was pilloried for suggesting that we should privatize social security. But it remains obvious that
private savings are preferable to the current inter-generational slavery ponzi scheme. We should phase out Social Security and Medicare and even Bush's drug
entitlement and let citizens fund their own savings plans.
We can debate the pros and cons of voluntary versus compulsory savings, but the fact remains that
I wish the government had given me the option between government social security (which I know is going bust) OR putting those FICA (OASDI + Medicare) taxes
into a private account in my name. I'm aware that the government can take away anything I own by way of arbitrary taxes, but I'd prefer to have a private
investment account with my name on it than a general promise that I'll get some unspecified portion of my money back in the future. Assuming our country
survives that long, a generation or two down the road the U.S. government could be completely out of the entitlement obligation game and private citizens
could be in control of their own savings and investment options.
Public debt is "a curse" as James Madison described it. Washington, in his 1796
Farewell Address, cautioned us to care for our
credit worthiness. The ability to borrow in an emergency (a true emergency such as to repel a military attack) is critical. The best way to
have good credit is use it sparingly.
"In our country we have one group that believes you can print wealth into existence, another that tries to spend it into existence, and a third
(and by far the largest) group that believes in both. This is a philosophy fit only for children and ignoramuses, and the editorial page of the
New York Times – or perhaps I repeat myself. Then there’s the fourth group: the grownups, who understand that wealth is created through
saving, investment, and entrepreneurial skill; that wealth has to be produced before it can be consumed; and that lending is impossible in the
absence of prior saving." --Thomas E. Woods, Jr., from a
Liberty Forum speech, Feb. 27, 2009
"The country is filled with people who have been clueless about the economy for years. In fact, it’s worse: the country is being run by
such people. There are few things you can be certain of these days. But one of them is that whatever Washington does with regard to the economy,
it will be the exact opposite of what anyone with any sense would do." --Thomas E. Woods, Jr., Feb. 27, 2009
Clearly the people who have been in Washington don't know what they're doing--- or they don't care. It's time to replace them. All of them. OK,
except Ron Paul. (Ron Paul can't be elected President until 2012.) We can replace the entire House of Representatives in one election but it will take several to replace the Senate. Politicians,
though they clearly can't manage our money, they can count votes. I think that a complete turnover, not just a decimation but a complete wipeout
massacre of the House and a third of the Senate would get the attention of the remaining incumbent Senators. With a whole slate of 434 new House
members coming in, the old games and business as usual would be over (at least temporarily).
Realistic? As long as the major parties control who gets on the ballots in most states (like Georgia), we're not likely to get as many good choices
as we need. A write-in candidacy is the longest of long shots for election victory. It will take determination and continued focus by the people to
convince the major parties that the old games are over AND that our
attention span will last through the NEXT election and beyond. If we can't remove enough of the current bums and parasites to stop the spending
insanity, then nothing will change. And we are doomed to continue the death spiral, the slide over the cliff.
"I have no problem with free elections so long as the candidates are chosen by the party." --attributed to Josef Stalin
The Tea Party movement and the Tenth Amendment movement offer us some encouragement. The excesses of Obama and the Democratic Congress slapped the
sleeping giant awake and we've seen demostrated the spark of active, lawful resistance within people who aren't practicing activists. We'll know
fairly soon whether that anger and energy can be
channeled into favorable and sensible ballot action and electoral results.
The special interests that own and operate the major parties have a vested interest in preventing
a major change in the status quo. Political hitmen like James Carville (for the Democrats) are searching for "tea party leaders" for the purpose of digging
up dirt with which to discredit said leaders AND the movement as a whole by association. The reaction to the "search and destroy" on Tea Party
leaders has been for everyone to say that they are 'a Tea Party leader' ---much like all the rebellious Roman
slaves said they were Spartacus. The crucified bodies of the slaves lined the Appian Way for miles and miles leading into Rome. Hustlers and demagogues
like the SPLC and their media
parrots have been broad brush smearing the Tea Partiers as "racist reactionaries." THAT was predictable. While they're smearing militias and "right-wing
extremists," let's throw in Tea Parties, too.
Hope springs eternal but I'm cynical enough to think that Republican operatives will try to infiltrate or hijack
these movements enough to stall their momentum and bring them back to the status quo tent. Remember the "Contract with America"? The revolution of '94?
Remember the Bridge to Nowhere? Remember the record breaking spending levels of GOP Congresses from 2000 to 2006? Been there. Tried that.
No! Beware of imitation patriots and false conservatives. We need real Constitutionalists like Ron Paul. We need Goldwater representatives who won't
compromise in the defense of liberty ---which includes our property rights
in our own labor. A 'wise and frugal' government doesn't need a third to a half of
our incomes to accomplish the limited mission and enumerated powers of the Constitution. We must return to the
Founding Principles or else liberty will continue to
recede as tyranny creeps forward. The Founding Principles are the true Tea Party Manifesto.
Can the Founding Principles embodied in the Constitution be
restored to practice? Again, realistically? Joseph Sobran succinctly explains why it's unlikely in his commentary entitled
The Silent Revolution:
"Can the real Constitution be restored? Probably not. Too many Americans depend on government money under programs the Constitution doesn’t authorize,
and money talks with an eloquence Shakespeare could only envy. Ignorant people don’t understand
The Federalist Papers, but they understand
government checks with their names on them." --Joseph Sobran, Nov. 21, 2000
"...a power over a man's subsistence amounts to a power over his will." --Alexander Hamilton,
The mountain of public debt is crushing the life out of our American economy and productivity...and thus it is stealing our unalienable rights to
liberty and pursuit of happiness. We're well above the 'vertical limit' where our economic body cannot survive for long. Continuing with business
as usual, as shown in Obama's own rosy budget forecasts,
we can see the debt snowballing and doubling in the next ten years. Will Americans surrender another third of their incomes to prolong the suicidal death
slide? Or will they wake up and take action to stop it?
George Bernard Shaw once wrote that, "The government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul." The most urgent
question, then, is: "Will Peter stand up for his rights? Or surrender to slavery?" Against the special interests of Paul (entitlement recipients)
and the employees of the military industrial complex, are there enough Peters to win elections and win back liberty?
Can ballots do the job that
historically requires bullets? Another recent movie (Law Abiding Citizen) offers a relevant line: "Lessons not learned in blood are soon
forgotten." I'll close leaving you
with the words of Jefferson and Goldwater below. Remember that Goldwater lost the election of 1964 to LBJ...and Obama won the election of 2008.
"I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare,
for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do
violence to the Constitution or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to
discover whether legislation is 'needed' before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked
for neglecting my constituents 'interests,' I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing
the very best I can." --Barry Goldwater, from The Conscience of A Conservative, pp.15, (1960)
"...a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of
industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
--Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801
"These principles...The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of
our political faith, the text of civic instruction...and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten
to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety." --Thomas Jefferson,
First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801
"Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version
of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and
those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. Equality,
rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as
it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism." --Barry Goldwater, July 1964
is Commander of the Lt. James T. Woodward Camp 1399, Sons of Confederate
Veterans, in Warner Robins, GA. He is the deranged creative force behind
the X-Files parodies.
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Empire or Liberty? - Steve Scroggins, 2/26/10
Washington's Integrity - Steve Scroggins, 2/22/10
Comparing Day and Night: Washington v. Obama - X-Files parody, 2/22/10
Voting Rights, Responsibilities (Part 2) - Steve Scroggins, 2/19/10
Voting Rights, Responsibilities (Part 1) - Steve Scroggins, 2/08/10
The American Ideal of 1776: The Twelve Basic American Principles - Hamilton Abert Long
America: Ripe for Destruction? - Steve Scroggins, 2/10/10
Serious About the Constitution - Steve Scroggins, 11/12/09
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Perils of Democracy - Part 1 - J.A. Davis & Steve Scroggins
Perils of Democracy - Part 2 - J.A. Davis & Steve Scroggins
Perils of Democracy - Part 3 - J.A. Davis & Steve Scroggins
Perils of Democracy - Part 4 - J.A. Davis & Steve Scroggins
American federalism: What Changed between 1787 and 2005? - Steve Scroggins, Nov. 2005
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FDR's 'rewriting' of the Constitution - Ben Shapiro
FDR v. Constitution: The Court-Packing Fight and the Triumph of Democracy - by Burt Solomon
Crisis and Leviathan - by Robert Higgs
Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War - by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
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The Judicial Activist Coup D'Etat -- Steve Scroggins
Slavery, Apologies & Duty - Steve Scroggins
Liberty Lost - Part 1 - J.A. Davis
Liberty Lost - Part 2 - J.A. Davis
Liberty Lost - Part 3 - J.A. Davis
Liberty Lost - Part 8 - J.A. Davis
Repeal the 17th Amendment - articlev.com
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