Trump fails to see the real budget problem

         Our nation has a financial problem. We are in debt to the tune of 20 trillion dollars. This in a country whose GDP is 18 trillion dollars.And with our continued insistence on deficit spending, we are going to be unable to dig ourselves out of a hole we continually enlarge.

But President Trump has a plan, or so he says, to make 10 trillion dollars in budget cuts over the next ten years. And I applaud the things he plans to cut. For example, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Legal Services Corporation would be eliminated, and the budgets for agencies such as the Departments of Energy and Commerce would be slashed. All worthy and necessary goals; the problem is it can’t be enough.

If he were to cut all non-defense discretionary spending, that would amount to only about 16 percent of the federal budget. Cutting it all, even if politically possible, would get nowhere near his proposed level of cuts. Nor would defense, which was also about 16% of the budget. Elimination our entire military wouldn’t put a significant debt in our problem.

The only way to cut enough of the budget to make a dent in our debt is to take a look at Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. The two of them combined are facing deficits of some 80 trillion dollars in the near future. These are the programs that are causing our debt crisis. In FY 2015, SS and Medicare accounted for 2.3 trillion dollars of spending, or about 60% of all federal spending.

The first SS recipient paid in a total of 25 bucks into SS. After retirement, the government paid her some 23000 dollars in benefits. One is tempted to draw a Santayana-esque lesson from that. You know, not learning from history and all. This year, there is a difference of some 84 billion dollars between FICA payments into the system, and payments made to beneficiaries. That shortfall is made up by investment income on federal T-bill owned by the SSA. However, that will change over the next few years as the shortfall gets bigger and the SSA is forced to sell those T-bills to fund payments to beneficiaries.

There are varying projections, of course, depending on whom you talk to, on when the program will exhaust it’s resources. Some say 2020, others say 2030 0r 2034. But one thing is clear; the liabilities of SS/Medicare will have to be addressed before the economics become completely unmanageable.

Trump may have made some grand promises about knocking down our debt, but unless we undertake radical reforms of SS/Medicare, we will continue to deficit spend ourselves into insolvency.

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Trump’s Inaugural Address

Even before Trump had been sworn in, the lunatic left was up to their standard antics. Police pepper-sprayed “protestors” who were busy breaking windows while denouncing capitalism. Their protests, of course, being organized on various products of capitalism like iPhones, Androids, and tablets. I’m sure there was little self-awareness of the irony.
There were also the leftists who are in favor of anything, as long as it hurts America or her allies. There were the knuckleheads with the orange jumpsuits, protesting on behalf of the terrorists that Obama had not yet released. There was the anti-Israeli contingent, with their “Free Palestine” signs, as well as the climate change protestors, Black Lives Matter, and feminist groups.
But aside from that, the 58th Presidential swearing-in ceremony went off smoothly.
Notably, Trump laid out a few core principles in his speech. And some tolerable insights that he would do well to remember as his term in office progresses.
First, I would note his statement that, “Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another, but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.” I’m not sure that Trump realizes it, but what he invokes here is more than mere populism. Trump is appealing to the principle of subsidiarity; that is, the principle that government ought to be exercised at the lowest level possible, since that is the level most directly accessible and responsive to the citizen.
Second, his statement that, “At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens.” If by “serve” he means a continuation or expansion of an ever-growing welfare state, he would be wrong. If, however, he means that a nation has certain duties that inhere in its very essence, such as defense, civil order, and the like, then he is correct. Especially if he means to reinforce the principle that governments are “instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” I would hope the latter, since it is the people that create the state, and not the converse.
Third, the statement that, “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.” I believe this to be not only a right of a nation, but a paramount duty of any nation. This goes hand-in-hand with the principle of the preceding paragraph.
Finally, he ends with an appeal to unity, at least on a racial basis. Between him saying, “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice,” and “It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots,” I believe he is calling to end the increasing divisive nature of racial politics that drive us ever-nearer to an irreparable fault line.
Now, granted, these are all words and they may mean nothing in the long run. But I think it would be hard to argue with the principle involved. And, if Trump sticks to these principles, I can’t help but think that every one of us, and by extension, America, will be better off.

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The Problem With Trump

I am distraught with the election of Donald Trump. Not necessarily the fact that he will be the president, or that the press is seemingly unable to accept his election. Not even with the millenials protesting by burning and breaking their neighborhoods, with the complicity of professional victim groups like Black Lives Matter and After all, one expects millennials to be safe-space demanding, crying at the drop of a hat, emotionally driven hipster morons.
Trump wasn’t elected to be dictator, or leader for life, or fascist-in-chief. Despite the abuses of the outgoing president, a president’s power is limited. Not only by the constitution itself, but also by the Congress and the Supreme Court. It takes roughly 270 elected people to agree with his actions before he can implement them. He may get lucky, like Obama, and be faced with an opposition party that consists largely of quislings, but I doubt it.
No, what bothers me is the reaction of those who I thought were my friends and acquantences. People I had previously thought to be reasonable, rational people seem to have become unhinged at the thought of Trump in the White House.
I have friends that are liberal, conservative, and pretty much everywhere in between. And I’ve always enjoyed our sometimes-combative discussions. Mostly because they have been rational, fact-based arguments.
But now, it’s all been changed. I still have liberal friends, and I still have conservative friends, and I have smart friends, and less smart friends. But now I have a new category of friends: trivial friends. Not that their friendship is trivial to me, but that they have relegated themselves to the status of trivial by their embrace of empty and shallow rhetoric, by their acceptance of media smear tactics, and by their abandonment of the democratic process.
I have a friend who is, putatively, a man of science. Yet he has parroted the “not my president” line, and slams the incoming president’s choice of staff as being racist. When asked what evidence there is that Stephen Bannon is a racist, he resorts to the time-tested avoidance of “look it up yourself.”
That places him squarely into the “trivial” category, and that saddens me. That so many people are so deranged by an election that they jettison reason and serious thought, and instead become talking memes, is a cause for sadness. And that is exactly what has happened. I am saddened and distraught that people I once thought serious are now regarded as trivial. And that is the real reason that Trump’s election makes me distraught.

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I voted! Or did I?

Well, I voted today. I did my part to preserve the Republic, defend democracy, and make my voice heard, ad nauseum. At least I think I did; I have a sticker that says so. But did I really? I have no idea, nor do most Floridians, I guess.
I live in what I jokingly refer to as Cuba Norte, otherwise known as Miami-Dade County, home of egregious corruption and chicanery. Perhaps it is best exemplified by the City of Opa-Locka. Opa-Locka is so corrupt, it has had its entire government turned over to outside supervision. But I digress.
Living in Dade County, I, like every other voter in the county, have no idea whether I voted; or if I did, whether it was counted; or if it was, whether it was counted for the candidates I voted for.
When one votes in this county, one first must show an ID to an election official. I had to use a photo ID, even though it may have disenfranchised me. I am, after all, a minority in this county. After you show your ID, you sign an electronic register, which then prints out a receipt. You then hand your receipt to another official who hands you a ballot form and your receipt.
You then go to a booth where you fill out your form. Much like the SATs, you do this by filling in ovals that correspond to your choices on candidates and issues.
From there, you hand your receipt to another official, who shows you how to place your ballot form into the scanner, where it is scanned and then deposited into a sealed box. Having heard the beep that signifies that the machine has ingested your form, the official then places your receipt into another box.
Now comes the interesting part. You leave the polling place. But you have no idea whether your vote has been counted, counted correctly, altered, or discarded. There is no readout on the machine that indicates your ballot was recorded correctly, no printout either. Nothing, in short, to indicate you really voted. I asked the official how I was to know my vote was counted. He replied that it was “better than hanging chads.”
So, everyone in Dade County, and, for all I know all of Florida, could be disenfranchised without even knowing it. Dade County is ripe for voter fraud, and we would never know. I think we need a better system.

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Tim Kaine, dishonest schismatic

The Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion is clear and unambiguous. Not even a liberal Pope like Francis can change it. Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law. Canon Law deals with the question by excommunication. For example, Canon 1398 says “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.”
The church is also clear on who is considered a schismatic. For example, in the list of those excommunications specially reserved to the Pope, we find this: Schismatics and those who elude or obstinately withdraw from the authority of the reigning Roman pontiff. The schismatics here referred to are of two kinds: those who are such because they belong to separated Churches which reject the authority of the pope, and those who, being Catholics, become schismatics by reason of obstinate disobedience to the authority of the pope as such. Specially reserved to the Pope means that only he can release one from the status of excommunicant.
Automatic excommunication for abortion (CIC 1398) applies not only to the woman who has the abortion, but to “all those who commit this crime with knowledge of the penalty attached, and [this] includes those accomplices without whose help the crime would not have been committed” (Evangelium Vitae 62).
Tim Kaine has said: “I strongly support the right of women to make their own health and reproductive decisions and, for that reason, will oppose efforts to weaken or subvert the basic holding of Roe v. Wade.” When asked if he’d like to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe the Governor answered, “I don’t think the Supreme Court should.” He continued, “Roe vs. Wade is ultimately about saying that there is a realm of personal liberty for people to make this decision.” Kaine also supports public funding for abortions.
But it is not just Kaine. There’s Pelosi, and Biden, and erstwhile HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) among others. All of them claim to be Catholic, but none of them follow the teaching of the Church. St. Justin in the second century tells us: “The only people who are to go to Communion are people who believe everything we believe.” Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, said that, “If they don’t believe what the church teaches, they’re not really Catholic.”
The Pope agrees. A letter Pope Francis sent to the bishops of Argentina in late March states, in part, “[people] cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and family are encouraged. This responsibility weighs particularly over legislators, heads of governments, and health professionals.”
At the Spring meeting in Denver, the Catholic Bishops of the United States took a strong stand that Catholic politicians who have the responsibility to formulate law are obliged “to work toward correcting morally defective laws”. The often used excuses that “abortion is the law of the land” or “that I am personally opposed to abortion but I can’t thrust my opinion on others” does not free the politician “from moral guilt of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good”
At the same meeting, the Bishops were emphatic regarding the moral evil of abortion. Catholics in all walks of life are called to have an “unequivocal commitment to the legal protection of human life from the moment of conception until natural birth.” It appears that no Catholic can support abortion rights and believe that he or she has a correctly formed conscience. Any Catholic who would believe that they are morally justified in supporting abortion has to know that they are in opposition to natural law and the official teachings of their Catholic faith. To do so, places them in bad faith and with a mal-formed conscience.
It is clear that the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion is plain. It is clear that one can not support abortion, and continue to claim communication with the Catholic Church. One cannot be a Catholic and vote for a politician that supports abortion “rights.” If one wishes to be “pro-choice,” one should have the moral and intellectual integrity to leave the Church, and not claim allegiance to an organization that believes the exact opposite.

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Gender and Reality

The flap over the various state efforts to enact laws regarding public accommodation of “trans-gender” people raises an interesting question. Not about politics or common sense, although there are those considerations. The really interesting question is one of motives. Not the motives of those that are opposed to normalizing aberrancy, but those who are promoting it.
I can hear the howls now, but I don’t use the word “aberrancy” lightly. It has a meaning in biology, as well as in common English. In biology, a working definition of “aberrant” is “diverging from the normal type.” In the vernacular, it is defined as “departing from an accepted standard.” Neither definition is a value judgment, but a statistical or empirical one.
Transgender people, by the best estimates available today, make up about .3 percent of the population. Roughly about 1 million people in America. Just about the same as thee number of heterozygote carriers of the Tay-Sachs gene in the general population. Which doesn’t make either condition normal or desirable.
But that isn’t the real reason behind the drive to get us to accept and praise those who are disordered.
The real issue is the drive to eliminate objective reality.
Objective reality is the standard by which we judge and decide how to act. Marcus Aurelius taught us 2000 years ago, “first of all, know what a thing is.” It was a call to recognize reality as a thing that we can know. Objective reality is the standard by which science operates. Objective reality is that which really exists, operates by knowable, immutable, and eternal laws, like conservation of matter or inertia. Objective reality is what Western civilization is based on. We can deny reality all we wish, but our desires can not change reality, anymore than our desires could stop the heliocentric nature of our solar system.
The forces that wish to destroy our civilization are clever. They know that to outright deny objective reality would be impossible, so they chip away at its foundations, like termites in a house
The transgender phenomenon is a case in point. We are told, almost daily, it seems, by the “social justice warrior” nuts that gender is a fluid concept. What they mean by that is that we can never know what someone’s gender is; we can never know the reality of a person’s sex. Therefore, we can never act in any particular way as regards sex. No rationally based bathroom policies, marriage policies, dormitory or barracks policies.
And they enlist a large number of unwitting people to their cause by using pity and our natural desire to be kind to our fellow humans. And make no mistake, gender dysphoria is an abnormality, and those that suffer from it should be pitied, treated compassionately, and cured. But to transform compassion into acceptance is as disordered as the disease itself. To deny that there is an objective reality about sex that is knowable is to descend into a madness that will deny all knowledge but that which serves the immediate drive to control, to own, to enslave others.

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Brie or ISIS?

“The great and admirable strength of America consists in this, that America is truly the American people.” Jacques Maritain, French Philosopher and political theorist.

Monsieur Maritain had it correct. America is the American people, and herein lies the problem with the administration’s thinking. America is not immigrants, but Americans. America is not refugees, but Americans. America is not illegal immigrants, but Americans. Immigrants, refugees, and illegal immigrants can become American, but to do so requires more than changing their location. It requires changing their core, their mindset, their animus.

No more can they be Syrian, or Mexican, or Latvian. No more can they hold on to their old-world way of thinking or living. To be an American requires one to believe in America, to cast off the old love and embrace a new love. The love of America. And it must be a greater love than the love for the old country.

It is no different for France. To be French, one must give up the things of the Levant and embrace all that is France. Or Germany, or Ireland, or any other country one immigrates to. To come to America, but continue to long for the old country results in a resident that is neither fish nor fowl nor good red meat. Honor the old country, remember some of its traditions, but give oneself to one’s new country, wholeheartedly or stay home.

And that is precisely the issue faced by this administration in regard to the potential influx of Syrian “refugees.” How do we separate those who wish to assimilate from those who wish to do us harm? Have no doubt, among these refugees are certainly ISIS soldiers. ISIS brags about it. They issue threats to us about it. And we see it first hand in France, Belgium, and Germany.

Loretta Lynch, US Attorney General, refuses to even admit the possibility that it would be difficult to even vette the new immigrants. And yet I can’t buy unpasteurized French brie. Why not? Because of the USDA. In their own words: “The Food Safety and Inspection Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s public health regulatory agency that protects consumers by ensuring that meat, poultry and egg products are safe, wholesome, and accurately labeled.” It would be wonderful if there were any agency that could say the same about the refugees.

To get into the country, one must run a gantlet of byzantine complexity. First off, only thirty-three countries are eligible to import meat and poultry products to the U.S.

Then comes re-inspection. That begins with FSIS determining that a country’s federal inspection system is equivalent to that of the U.S. That consists of a comprehensive system that involves document reviews, on-site audits and port-of-entry examinations of every shipment of product that enters the United States.
Each meat, poultry and egg product shipment enters the country under the authority of U.S. Customs and USDA’S Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and is transferred to FSIS where inspectors visually inspect every shipment as well as its accompanying documentation.
FSIS claims that it can be assured that all products under FSIS jurisdiction, regardless of the volume imported to the United States, are sampled. In general, the higher risk ready-to-eat products are being sampled at a higher rate.
And that’s just for starters. Refugees? Nowhere near that level of scrutiny. Just look at our feet-dry policy on Cuban illegals. Look at the 11, or 12, or 15 million illegal Mexican immigrants. There’s no scrutiny at all, and even when we determine that they are unsafe or unwholesome, we don’t deport them, and if we do, they come right back.

The first duty of any nation-state is the integrity and safety of that nation-state. Like the intrinsic human right and obligation of self-defense, every nation has a duty, and a corresponding right, of self0-defense. Bringing in undocumented, un-inspected, and unknown thousands of Syrian islamic refugees in the middle of a war against Syrian islamists is madness. Turning a blind eye to a threat, and admitting that threat into the country isn’t just misfeasance, it’s malfeasance. Why, the government might just as well let in semi-soft unpasteurized cheese!

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