American Elephants

Brand New Chief of Staff, Same Old Spending Habit. by The Elephant's Child

William Daley has resigned as chief of staff to President Barack Obama. He is to be replaced by Obama’s current budget director Jack Lew.  William Daley, of the Chicago Daleys, replaced Rahm Emanuel who left to run for Mayor of Chicago, the office he now occupies.  Daley was supposed to bring about more cooperation with business interests, but Obama is now shaking up staff again.

Back in February of 2011, Mr. Lew appeared on CNN’s State of the Union and said of Mr. Obama’s proposed budget:

Our budget will get us, over the next several years, to the point where we can look the American people in the eye and say we’re not adding to the debt anymore; we’re spending money that we have ech year, and then we can work on bringing down our national debt.

Must be something in the water at the White House. Austan Goolsbee, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago was chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2010 to 2011. Mr. Goolsbee wrote in the Wall Street Journal last week that  “Washington isn’t spending too much; it’s normal for deficits to rise during a downturn, the real fiscal challenge is decades down the road.”

In USA Today, the headline is “U.S. Debt is now equal to economy

The amount of money the federal government owes to its creditors, combined with IOUs to government retirement and other programs, now tops $15.23 trillion.

That’s roughly equal to the value of all goods and services the U.S. economy produces in one year: $15.17 trillion as of September, the latest estimate. Private projections show the economy likely grew to about $15.3 trillion by December — a level the debt is likely to surpass this month.

Among advanced economies, only Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Portugal have debts larger than their economies.  And we’re told that President Obama wants to borrow another trillion or so to “stimulate” the economy again.

Economist Daniel J. Mitchell says thatAustan Goolsbee’s Budget Math is Wrong — More than 100 percent of Long-Term Fiscal Challenge is Government Spending. If you keep borrowing, you have to pay interest on what you borrow, and if you are not paying it back, it keeps growing and growing.  Not only that, but it’s those darn baby boomers.  Entitlement spending is exploding because of ObamaCare, because of increasing numbers of baby boomers retiring each year for the next thirteen years.

How are we supposed to understand this if Obama’s new chief of staff can’t and his former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers’ budget math is wrong?  This isn’t a minor matter, and somebody’s trying to fool us with their words. I’m with Senator Sessions. PolitiFact agreed.


Words, Words, Words. What’s Real and What’s Phony? by The Elephant's Child

Have we always been so misled by the clever use of words, or has this always been the case? Let’s start with the idea that “you mustn’t be judgmental.” How silly.  Of course we must be judgmental. How are we to distinguish between right and wrong, between good and evil, between important and unimportant? How do we build up a code of conduct for ourselves if we do not consider critically the actions of others?

Your mother may tell you not to be selfish, but nothing brings it home more than another kid who won’t share. We develop our own rules of behavior by being judgmental about the behavior of others.

We talk about “playing politics,” but what we mean by the phrase is not a game — but of an elected official attempting to buy votes by giving away goodies that the taxpayer is paying for.  Sometimes it is simply a congressman trading off votes as in if you vote for my earmark, I’ll vote for  yours, but often it is much worse. Obama has believed firmly in ‘stimulating’ the economy — getting more money into the hands of taxpayers — who will spend and thus increase activity in the economy, rescuing it from the doldrums — or something like that.  But to put more money into the economy, he “played politics.” He gave the money to those who had supported his campaign for office — the teacher’s unions, the UAW, the particular interests of the big environmental organizations and those who bundled contributions for his campaign. But it wasn’t campaign money he gave them, or his money — it was taxpayer money,and those groups were expected in turn to return the favor by supporting his next campaign.  When I’m being judgmental, as I usually am, that doesn’t seem like correct behavior.

We are supposed to be “green,” which means that we must follow the rules that the environmental organizations have inflicted on us, recycling, cutting back on our use of energy in all of its forms — short low-flow showers, low flow toilets, recycling, switching to annoying twisty light-bulbs, eschewing the use of plastic or paper bags in favor of toting around large quantities of cloth bags.

An”environmentalist” is simply someone who claims to have some sort of special affection for “the environment.” There are more requirements for becoming a Meter Maid than for becoming an environmentalist. The only authority they have is derived from the assertion by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the UN that the climate is changing due to human action, which is turning out to be bunk.

Yet did you know that the U.S. Government is providing nearly half of the annual funding for the IPCC? The General Accounting Office (GAO) has reported that funding information “was not available in budget documents or on the websites of the relevant federal agencies, and the agencies are generally not required to report this information to Congress.”According to the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, the United States has made the world’s largest scientific investment in the areas of climate change and global change research” with a total of nearly $20 billion over the past 13 years.

How about “hate crimes?” If an unsuspecting person is set upon and badly beaten, does the crime become somehow much worse if the beating was committed because the assailant hated the victim?  And how do we determine if the victim was hated, when hate, unless loudly proclaimed, exists only in the mind? Apparently it has nothing to do with the attacker, but everything to do with the victim.  If the victim is presumed to be a member of a specific minority then it is obviously a “hate crime.”

Those who seek power often do it by twisting the meaning of language in ways that you might not notice, but will aid in achieving their aims.  Political consultants are skilled in testing more appealing ways to describe something. Political consultant Frank Luntz points out that 80 percent of our life is emotion, and only 20 percent is intellect.  He says that it’s not what you say; it’s what people hear that matters. And there’s a simple rule about consistency: You say it again, and you say it again, and again and again and again and again, and about the time that you’re absolutely sick of saying it is about the time that your target audience has heard it for the first time. We as Americans and as humans have very selective hearing and very selective memory.  We only hear what we want to hear and disregard the rest.

Luntz explains that his focus groups want from their elected officials, from the CEOs, from the elite of America is clarity.  They said it again and again: “Be clear with us.  Be straight with us.  Common sense; clarity; down the road, look us straight in the eye.” But you have to be truthful. The examples I cite are not truthful, but designed to fool.

Luntz gives the example of the “estate tax.” Politicians found it impossible to get rid of it as long as it was called an estate tax, because people emotionally heard that as a tax on “estates” of the very wealthy. When it was more accurately and honestly described as a “death tax,” a tax due on someone’s death on their previously taxed savings, the emotions were completely different.

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