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Thursday, March 11, 2021

How I Became a Conservative

 Like many of you, I spent most of my life busy making a living or raising a family. I didn't really care about politics. Politics never effected me directly, not in any adverse way. Nobody was trying to steal my gun rights or health care. 

I grew up in the most democratic town in America. The birthing place of unions. Butte, Montana. It was there that I learned to hate evil corporations, greedy robber barons, and people willing to destroy the earth to such an extent- that Butte, Montana is still the number one Superfund cleanup scene in America. Butte owns the Berkeley Pit. A mile deep open pit mine filled with the most acidic water on the planet.

It's pretty easy to be a democrat in Butte. I once saw a picture of a very small vacant room with a table and four chairs where the caption read, "Butte's GOP Headquarters."  They practically baptize you democrat in Butte. That's the way it was back then. My friends were the sons of miners. So I understand my democrat friends from Butte who still cling to the old ways. Some are very loyal.

When I arrived in college, I was surrounded by more liberals and liberal teachers. I didn't need the additional indoctrination. I arrived there pre-packaged.

So I began the working years of my life with an environmental protection lean and little else. I had been raised Catholic/Lutheran, I had plenty of guns, I thought the evil rich guys all voted Republican. I voted every four years like clockwork. Then a series of events woke me up and changed my mind about liberals and democrats forever. I began my law enforcement career in '83.

One of the areas we patrolled heavily was subsidized housing. We received maybe as much as 60% of our police calls- from 4 or 5 large apartment complexes- scattered all over town. The people in subsidized or free housing really never seemed to leave those places. In addition to housing, many residents received food stamps, subsidized utilities, and some form of medicare and/or disability. Welfare some of it essential- some not.

There were two sad truths about places like that. Our society needs places like that because there is a substantial number of people who cannot function on their own in any kind of normal life where you keep a job long enough to get out. It's a place where bad luck, poor decisions, and directionless people wind up. The mentally ill are there. Illegal aliens are there. Profoundly disadvantaged people are there. The drug and alcohol addicted are there. In the river of life, this is the backwater. 

Our culture doesn't have a solution for the people who live there. They aren't ever going to get out, not for long anyway, and I've never seen that as a political issue. It's a societal issue, a humanitarian issue that exists and it is so large that parsing individuals out and attaching blame to them is useless and mean spirited. Telling someone they are stupid and hoping that will make them better- well that's my definition of crazy.

So we need a place for the disadvantaged to live. That's just the way it is. Politicizing that despair is shameful.

Time and time again, I was exposed to the wealthy elite. I am talking serious money from 100's of millions to billions. Some of these super wealthy people are actually pretty decent folks. Some are complete snobs. But something strange happens to them. Despite the fact that they all tend to arrive at their lofty stations in life by the means of capitalism- many then renounce it. They become justice warriors, socialists, fitness and green energy proponents, they believe in climate "change" and none of them are particularly Christian. Some are outright atheists. And these super wealthy people were almost all- card carrying democrats. 

These rich people were not the hated, corporate Republicans of my youth. They were robber barons pretending to be liberals. People who used the capitalistic model to carve wealth from others and then suddenly proclaimed to the world how loving and decent they were. They love all races, the three genders, gays, straight, and the downtrodden. 

These people began believing their own bullshit. Surrounding themselves with people who have kissed their asses most of their lives- they actually begin believing that they are these wonderful, intelligent, special people. Bill Gates is a wonderful example of this save the world nonsense. Warren Buffett is not far behind.

I began to examine these people and realized that I don't have anything in common with them. In fact, I learned to dislike them quite a bit.

I was transitioning out and didn't realize it. Then one day at work it hit me. I will never forget it. Before the staff meeting that morning, the Mayor was lamenting how much he would have accomplished if he could simply get the city's department heads on board. He was near the end of his term. City department heads were roadblocking every project and making it difficult for him to achieve anything. His goals had always been simple. Expand business in our city by making it attractive. Keep workers in our town.

That morning I listened differently. Not as a department head mind you, I listened like a conservative person trying to help the Mayor advance his pro business agenda. It was remarkable listening to this small "swamp" collectively roadblock every idea that be brought up. It suddenly hit me. He was a pro business, conservative man surrounded by liberal statists.  These were people that wanted laws and regulations for everything from dog poop on the local bike path, to light "trespass" on adjacent property at night, to cars idling during the winter months. This was the shit the statists were concerned with. Of the twelve or so department heads at each meeting, I knew at least nine were card carrying, regulation loving, liberals. When I think of insanely dysfunctional groups- I simply cannot render a version worse than that group of city staffers. I was one of them. I found myself opposing them at nearly every turn. I slowly began to realize that every value I held from my oath of office to my fact based belief system was conservative. 

It was at one of those meetings, the dog poop on the bike path ordinance meeting, when it happened. I snapped. I pictured cops hiding in the weeds, taking photos for evidence, just waiting for Mrs. Anderson's black lab to poop on the bike path. If she ignored the poop, became a scofflaw, we would spring into action. Gather the poop as evidence. I wondered, would this be an arrestable offense? Gawd the whole thing was so idiotic.

That's when it happened. Somebody asked me about the ordinance and I told them the unvarnished truth from my perspective. I had no interest in enforcing that law nor would I be detailing any specialized patrols to the bike path. That level of un cooperative truthfulness set me on the path to not being a "team player." That was the moment when I realized I was conservative. Not because I was raised that way or indoctrinated in the liberal arts building. I evolved that way because it's the only thing that made sense to me. 

That was some 20 years ago. The year after 9/11. The day before the one year anniversary of that dark day. 

Since then I have witnessed virtually every level of liberal insanity from the millions spent on wolf re-introduction at the state level to the federal government hijacking healthcare to bail out soon to be bankrupt health care companies during the 2008 fiscal crisis. A fiscal crisis the democrats under Clinton caused. Today, Joe Biden and the democrats signed the covid relief act. Most people won't see the 350 billion the democrats are sending to all of the democratic states who have wasted tax dollars so badly- they can't fund their budgets and retirement systems. Another bailout. First the banks, then the health insurers, now the bankrupt pension plans in liberal states.

Today I am grateful for what I have. My goal is to try and keep the liberals from taking it.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Deficits for Dummies


Each year the Federal Government spends far more money than it takes in through individual and corporate taxes. We call that a yearly deficit. That deficit then gets added to the existing debt or deficits from previous years.

With the passage of the Biden "stimulus" plan (which is essentially just another pork barrel bill providing tax largesse to corporations and other countries) I thought I'd try to explain the level of indebtedness we are in and try to keep it simple and understandable.

Our current federal tax receipts for 2019 are 3.46 trillion. Tax receipts are normally estimated higher for each forthcoming year- unless of course you have a covid pandemic where 1/2 of the country shuts down. So the projections on this table, the one I used for this piece, simply aren't going to happen. Thus I am using 3.46 trillion as the amount of Federal tax taken in  2019.

We will add the 1.9 trillion dollar stimulus plan to the outstanding debt on the US debt clock to arrive at a figure of 30 trillion in debt. I'd like to direct your attention to the last line on the debt clock. From left to right. As I write this..

We owe another 54 trillion in social security and medicare costs for a grand total of 84 trillion.

We owe another 3.5 trillion in state and local debt. I am going to round this up to 88 trillion dollars because the debt continues to compound and I don't think the GDP went up, nor did tax revenue during the pandemic. Not to mention the cost of all those vaccinations. (who do you think pays for those?)

All debt is serviced essentially through the issuance of bonds. In the USA, half of our debt is financed with 30 year treasury notes. The other 50% is financed with bonds with shorter maturities. This means that half of the debt is continually refinanced. We make interest payments on this debt. That is one of the reasons why interest rates are never going to go substantially up. We couldn't service the debt. Can you imagine paying 5% interest on 88 trillion? That is 4.4 trillion or about one trillion more that the Federal Government takes in each year in taxes. That's why the Federal Reserve must step in with any one or several of their cost containment programs. The yield cost containment curve or YCC is going to be their next move- they will stop the yield ascent of the 10 year treasury.

It's like a child plugging holes in the leaking wall of a dam. As the water (debt) rises the pressure on the dam wall increases. Eventually the water begins to crumble the wall or go over the top. Either way, the debt tsunami cometh.

Ok. So let's use a ratio you can understand. We owe about 25 times what we take in each year. (88 trillion divided by 3.46 trillion in revenue)

Thus if you were an average wage earner in the US making 40 grand a year- you'd be able to accumulate 1 million dollars in debt if we were to use this government standard.

Could you make the payments on a million dollars in debt? With zero interest on half?

If you had a zero interest loan for 500k over 30 years- your payment would be 1389 a month. 

If we added the other 500k in debt at a revolving rate of 3% over 30 years- your payment would be another 2108 a mo.

Thus your two payments on your 1 million in debt would cost you 3500 a mo. You would fall 2000 dollars short of annual gross income. You could not buy gas, food, clothing, utilities, repairs, insurance, property taxes, or anything else. In short, you are bankrupt.

The USA is also bankrupt. The only difference of course is that the US government can defer their debt through a number of measures not available to the common taxpayer. How long can they extend and pretend we are solvent? It's an interesting question that nobody has been able to answer. We are all going to feel the pain as they try and tax the shit out of us and steal our property in the process.

One last item which I have found to be universally true. 

The liberal mind always thinks the solution to debt is more taxes. They just want everyone else to pay them.

The conservative mind thinks we have a spending problem. 

In the end, it simply doesn't matter who is right or wrong. The dam is bursting and all of the crying, finger pointing, and blame that is American politics- can't fix what's coming. It's too late. We are either going to default on our debt- or use the historical custom of trying to inflate the debt away by the issuance of more money. And we are going to feel this pain. Because of our apathy, we probably deserve every little bit of what's coming. Buy land, stockpile goods and prescription drugs, buy precious metals and ammo. What's coming is unprecedented. The issue is when.

Like Yogi Berra says..."Predicting is hard, especially about the future." Indeed it is.