Thoughts…. Success by #ShobhaIyer

SUCCESS is getting what you want…HAPPINESS is wanting what you get…

“The things that makes your heart beat faster and your eyes glow when you do it or talk about it, no matter if it’s hiking, yoga, gardening, painting, meditation, love, photography, going for walks, helping others – do that. Do it as often as you can. Because that’s what life is about. Creating as many passionate, happy moments as possible. Don’t let anyone stop you from doing the things you love – not even yourself.”

Read Full Post Here ☟☟☟

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The National Debt: America’s Ticking Time Bomb

National Debt

One of the main characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius, while giving some advice to his son says this in Act 1, Scene III,

Neither a borrower nor a lender be…

This famous saying was intended as a piece of personal wisdom. The vast majority of the world today ignores this advice.

Whether at the personal, business, or government level, borrowing and lending have become commonplace in modern life. In fact, it is almost impossible to participate in buying or selling without borrowing and/or lending.

When a person borrows from a business, or from the government, it is a formal and legal endeavor, which makes disputes between the parties a complex matter of the law. The same is true for a business borrowing from another business, or a government borrowing from a business or another government.

If these intricate transactions run afoul and the borrower cannot pay back the lender, eventually the activity known as bankruptcy comes into play. This ‘remedy’ is used by individuals, businesses, and governments.

America’s National Debt may be heading toward bankruptcy for the nation. It is a ticking time-bomb waiting to blow the economy sky-high.

 

American States Have Gone Bankrupt

National DebtThe law today does not allow states to officially claim bankruptcy. However, that doesn’t mean that states cannot go into default on loan payments.

In fact, a Zero Hedge article from 2010 names 32 states that were insolvent at the time. California (surprise, surprise!) was the most in debt, followed by Michigan and New York.

Courtesy of Economic Policy Journal we now know that the majority of American states are currently insolvent, and that the US Treasury has been conducting a shadow bailout of at least 32 US states. Over 60% of Americans receiving state unemployment benefits are getting these directly from the US government, as 32 states have now borrowed $37.8 billion from Uncle Sam to fund unemployment insurance.

These cases were never officially bankrupt because the states were allowed to borrow money from the federal government.

To be clear, this was not a case of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ It was more like the court jester begging the emperor for some of his invisible clothes.

The Federal government, i.e. the emperor, lends money that it has to borrow, to the states to pay back money that they didn’t have to meet their legal obligations. It amounts to going into additional debt to pay the debt you already have.

It is obvious this doesn’t solve the debt problem. It only perpetuates the myth that states cannot ever go bankrupt.

When such conditions exist, one of the many inevitable results is higher taxes. It is far less the case that significantly lower government spending is attempted or even considered, at least initially.

The case is even more destructive when we realize that sovereign nations can suffer the consequences of rampant debt.

Nations Can Go Bankrupt: The Recent Case of Greece

National DebtMost are familiar on one level or another the phenomenons of personal and business bankruptcy. However, most are not as aware that even governments of entire nations can go bankrupt.

One prominent example was the nation of Greece which was threatened with insolvency a decade ago. Greece survived the economic crisis because the European Union and the IMF bailed the nation out.

The EU and the International Monetary Fund provided 240 billion euros in emergency funds in return for austerity measures. The loans only gave Greece enough money to pay interest on its existing debt and keep banks capitalized. The EU had no choice but to stand behind its member by funding a bailout. Otherwise, it would face the consequences of Greece either leaving the Eurozone or defaulting.

Greece had to agree to a revamping of its revenue system so that the national budget could take severe steps toward being ‘in the black,’ to receive the funds. That meant mandatory tax increases and spending cuts.

It also meant forced wage cuts and stopped any early retirement. The agreement also meant that pension funds had to be cut which also meant government-funded pensions would not be able to honor their legal obligation to pay their retirees.

These measures were either ineffective or not given enough time, and several other smaller billion-dollar-plus ‘bailouts’ were sent to Greece via various channels of the EU. Unemployment shot up to 25% and to 50% for young people.

By 2015 the voters had enough of the austerity measures forced upon them by the EU bailouts. In a referendum vote, they rejected the measures triggering widespread fear of instability which resulted in a run on the banks.

Banks closed and restricted ATM withdrawals to 60 euros per day. It threatened the tourism industry at the height of the season, with 14 million tourists visiting the country. The European Central Bank agreed to recapitalize Greek banks with 10 billion euros to 25 billion euros, allowing them to reopen. Banks imposed a 420 euros weekly limit on withdrawals. That prevented depositors from draining their accounts and worsening the problem.

The Greek economy has limped along since 2015 and though there has been some small progress, the debt is still in the 300 billion euro range, about the same as it was 10 years ago. Additionally, unemployment is still at 22% and, as of 2018, Greece is seeking more bailouts contingent on even more strict economic control by the EU.

America’s Debt Problem Is Treacherously Unique

National DebtThere are two factors that make America’s debt problem treacherously unique. The first and most obvious factor is that our National Debt monstrously large.

Moreover, the amount is larger than advertised. A lot larger.

The official National Debt is now quoted as over 22 trillion dollars! How much money is that?

Think of it this way. If you had just 1 trillion dollars and you spent 1 million dollars every day, it would take you almost 3000 years to spend it.

Multiply it 22 times and that is how much the United States of America owes a lot of other nations and financial institutions aka, banks around the globe. Now for some really bad news, this means the people of the United States owe that money because the taxpayers ultimately supply the funds.

This means that each taxpayer in America owes approximately 250,000 dollars to places including China through its state-controlled institutions of finance. Here comes the worst news of all; 22 trillion is only a small part of the real National Debt.

That’s because the official dollar amount does not include America’s unfunded liabilities. Unfunded liabilities are those items the Federal government must pay for by American law.

By far the largest and most significant of these are Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Together they currently total more 50 trillion dollars. When added to the Debt, the total becomes slightly more than 73 trillion dollars… for the moment.

 

National DebtThe final figure also includes items such as Federal pensions for workers and elected officials and interest paid on the Debt. The grand total of America’s real debt is about 130 trillion dollars!

This means each American taxpayer owes over 1 million dollars of the real debt as it exists today. So, what do you say, fellow taxpayer? Got an extra million to chip in for poor old Uncle Sam? Yeah, me neither.

This is a path which will lead to the eventual bankruptcy of America unless some radical steps are taken, steps that will be extremely difficult to accomplish. Which leads to the second treacherous factor that is unique for America.

In all other examples of national financial disaster, there exists one thing which America doesn’t have. There is no one to bail us out.

The fact is, a consortium big enough to rescue the U.S. from insolvency doesn’t exist. America is the largest economy in the world and no nation or bank or group of nations or banks could ever absorb over 100 trillion dollars of debt.

This leaves few choices on the table, and none of them are easy or very pleasant. Americans must understand that even the best choices to resolve this economic upheaval will involve significant sacrifices by ‘we the people’ ourselves.

Sacrifices Must Be Made

Any real solution to stave off national insolvency requires massive changes in how unfunded liabilities are handled. The political landscape at this time makes the task of solving that problem extremely difficult.

However, there is a glimmer of hope here precisely because America is the largest economy that exists. Most of the modern world at this time has a vested interest in keeping it that way.

If America’s economy collapsed, it would immediately plunge the world into crisis mode, perhaps even global economic depression. That real fear gives the nation a short window of opportunity to make strides toward fixing the precarious debt situation.

This doesn’t mean we will pay off the National Debt completely, though there are ways to do so, provided the problem of government overspending is corrected. An intriguing and workable idea to pay down the debt is a 10% special inheritance tax described here.

The 10 percent taxes government share should be used exclusively to pay down the National Debt. The presently estimated wealth in the USA is 100 trillion. Ten percent over time being paid to reduce the debt will exponentially reduce the debt, assuming Congress attempts to balance a budget.

National DebtThe fact is that at the bottom, a crisis of economics is really a crisis of confidence. As long as there is trust in the value of the currency, public assurance staves off panic moves such as a run on the banks.

The same thing is true about America’s creditors. Those institutions and nations we are indebted to do not require payment in full to remain confident about doing business with the U.S.A.

All that is needed (for now) is to show we are keeping up on the interest payments and making progress in reforming our spending habits as a nation. Then real strides can be taken to pay off the National Debt.

Government spending overall has to be reigned in if a balanced budget is to be achieved. An excellent piece at Townhall.com shows this could be accomplished in a simple manner by a small reduction in spending.

The solution to this problem is very straightforward. All that’s needed is a bit of spending restraint to put the budget on a glide path to balance. I’m a big fan of spending caps, so this next chart shows the 10-year fiscal outlook if annual spending increases are limited to 1% growth, 2% growth, or 2.5% growth.

The ‘autopilot’ spending in the chart represents the current and projected levels of government outlay. The big reason this ‘autopilot’ is headed to the stratosphere is out of control entitlement spending.

Getting it under control means addressing the problems of Social Security and Medicare insolvency. For example, raising the retirement age for collecting Social Security to 70 along with at least some privatization of SS and Medicare, would be a good start in the right direction.

However, no one in political leadership is even suggesting slight changes in entitlement programs at this point in time. Those leaders assume, quite correctly, that many of their constituents would go ballistic at the prospects.

Those most adversely affected would be people in their 40s and 50s who may have already been counting on retiring in their 60s. Many of them may not want to wait until 70 for Social Security or Medicare benefits.

That kind of potential ill-will from voters keeps too many politicians from facing the truth. The truth that this problem is an economic ticking time-bomb and its detonation would be unimaginably catastrophic for America and the world.

National DebtIt is going to require strong and responsible leadership in government to stay the course if spending restraint is going to happen. Some may realistically face a hostile constituency when supporting proposals that delay or ‘cut’ government benefits and end up potentially sacrificing their political lives.

A strong and responsible public also must emerge and become educated enough about the economic realities to support policies which may call for sacrifice from them.

Is it fair? Not really. The largest sacrifice is likely required from working families who have already borne the burden of past generations of fiscal foolishness.

However, it is also true that should the debt time-bomb explode, the same working families will suffer the most devastation and it will dwarf the pain of previous sacrifices. Unless some big changes are made the bomb will go off, it’s just a matter of time.

The countdown to detonation may have already begun, and it is certain the debt time-bomb is armed. Pray that America will be wise enough to make the essential sacrifices and bring us back from the economic precipice.

Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it. Proverbs 15:16 [ESV]

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Dirk Knight’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Kenn Wilson’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Global Justice Now’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of CafeCredit’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Purple Slog’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 5 courtesy of Gwydion M. Williams’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 6 courtesy of Boris Rasin’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published in TIL Journal

 

 

At a loss (money quote)

“I am at a loss. I have heard it said the love of money is at the root of all evil. But some people say this is not right; and that instead, it is the lack of money that is at the root of every evil. This makes me completely lost. I don’t know what to think. Who can clarify me on this? Which should I believe or not believe?” (Romilia Quotes)

Ego Avenue

The giant oaks turned golden in the fall, shading the avenue of homes trimmed of gold. The walkways of washed aggregate and stained concrete floors in the garage smell of money. An oriental rug lies squarely beneath the oil plug of the minister’s Rolls and Bentleys. It’s a lovely life – a weekend cabin in the foothills of the Castiles, a yacht swaying at the dock of their favorite country club. Their lifestyles are of the rich and famous. Do I need to tag them with names for you or the descriptions of these church leaders who appear on TV and radio, bearing witness?

Have you ever tried to contact these evangelists personally even if you are a member of their congregation? Several of these ministers started following my blog last year. I tried to respond to some of their emails, but a computer-generated nonresponse system returned it. One such minister put an email address at the bottom of his correspondence with an enticing note to always feel free to connect with him. Are you kidding me? This is a man who is a public servant of God, and he lies about his contact information on his website and newsletters! It makes me wonder…

I used to collect mail from a rather sizeable religious outfit who films daily television and documentary shows. I’d call it a church, but it was all about money. I never met the soft-spoken old man who read from the pulpit, though he wasn’t there when I entered the building. He hides behind the silver screen while anointing his son to be the Senior Pastor.

Another younger notoriety wears his sacred cross, but is more concerned of the welfare of his structures, which he owns, than of those whose dollars helped to build it. An example of his personal greediness was during a hurricane which hit his area two years ago. Homeless people, seeking comfort from the storm, stood outside in nature’s wrath because he wouldn’t open his church doors. Perhaps he was afraid of damages incurred – a chunk out of his own pocket which might affect the mortgage payment on his $10.5 million home.

I could continue with my tirade, but Christians are smart enough to observe who indeed professes to do the Lord’s work. There was only one minister I knew who was genuine and a spiritual adviser to many Presidents. His money filtered through to the crusades he conducted in 185 countries on six continents. He passed away last year and now works for Christ in a different capacity.

I see the actions of these Bible scholars, who can’t live what they preach in front of millions. Most believers are aware clergy are the amongst the lowest-paid occupations. So, how are they living in mega mansions and in the lap of luxury? Do they ever use their personal income from TV appearances and other sources to give back to their communities? Or is preaching the Word of God just a business designed to make them a millionaire?

As I look down Ego Avenue and observe its evilness, I thank God for my health and my wife who keeps me in check. A simple Christian writer and life, I am blessed by the Holy Spirit, and I have peace in my soul. A few friends asked me if I was afraid of giving out my cell phone number which is written on my business cards. My honest reply was why? I’m no better than the mentoring I try to give to others. I meet many wonderful people from around the world – some famous, but most are common folk. I treat everyone the same. Spiritual leaders should be receptive and have personal contact with believers, especially with individuals they follow on social media.

To those who live on Ego Avenue and read my blogs, are you better than our Lord? After all, Jesus was a dirt poor man, and he was always reachable in desperate times. He laid the foundation for your obligations as a clergy member – to provide spiritual, moral guidance, and assistance to believers. If I’m wrong, then please correct me.

My examples of hypocrites and false witnesses, in the name of our Lord, only touch the surface of the United States. I’m sure dozens more exists in countries worldwide. Some may say security issues are dilemmas facing the famous religious leaders, but I highly doubt this. Too many other upstanding clergy submerge themselves in others’ lives unharmed. I think the root of the problem is simple – the love of money. Perhaps it should be explained as “delivering God’s word in order to become a millionaire.” Call it greed or narcissism; either way, God will place a harsher judgment on them. As someone once said, “Knowledge is a dangerous thing!”

Are there any “amens” to my point of view?

Quote (riches)

“There are two ways of becoming rich. Either you serve people to be rich or you exploit people to be rich. The riches you get by serving people are clean riches or honest riches. The riches you get by exploiting people are dirty riches or dishonest riches. The financial giants of the world either served people to be rich or exploited them. This means either they got their money honestly or dishonestly.” (Romilia Quotes)

Money

What are you Money?
What is the sectet of
Your power?
When some people hear
Your name,
They take up their heads;
Even in their sick beds;
You are good;
But much evil is done
Because of you;
Then I get confused;
Finally, are you good or bad?
You seem to love evil people
More than good people;
I see you go to evil people freely,
They make you their friend,
But you have no time
For good people;
Is that true or false?
Tell us the truth;
Why is so much evil done
Because of you?
And what can we do about it?
And how do we make you our friend?
We love your friendship;
Shall we be friends?

Where is Treasure Island?

photography of one us dollar banknotes

Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Looking for Tresure Island;
The land that is full of treasure;
Where is Treasure Island?
Who knows its location?
I want to go to Treasure Island;
I want to get some treasure;
Which is found on Treasure Island.
If you know where this Island is found,
Do me the favor to take me there;
Take me to Treasure Island.

The Left’s War on Science Part 4: Erroneous Economics [Video]

Economics

The first three parts of this series dealt with the leftist distortions of climate change, abortion, and transgenderismPart four examines the Left’s erroneous ideas concerning economics.

Economics is not a ‘hard’ science in the same way as physics or mathematics.  However, economics directly affects ordinary people more than most ‘hard’ sciences.

That is seen whether one is discussing a wealthy nation, such as the United States, or an impoverished country in the third world. The everyday person’s politics are often confined by necessity to economics.

Thus economics is extremely important to the lives of each of us and our loved ones. It is to everyone’s advantage to understand the essential views of economics from both the Left and the Right.

Leftist Economics Exemplify Marxism

Economic theory has many labels. Capitalism, free enterprise, and market economics are some names of the general system favored by conservatives on the Right. Marxism, Communism, Socialism are the Left’s idea of good economics.

CommunismThe basis of leftist economics is found in the economic and political views of Karl Marx. Modern Socialism and Communism trace their roots to his work as a political and intellectual revolutionary in 19th Century Europe.

In 1847, Marx and his compatriot Fredrick Engels wrote the iconic work which birthed  Communism, “The Communist Manifesto.” In short, this formed the marching orders of Communism.

The more important book came much later. The first volume of “Das Kapital” was written by Marx in 1867 containing the philosophy of Communist thought.

It was there that the economic theory of Communism came to full flower. As Marx grew older he focused his thought on Capitalism and what he perceived as its inherent evils.

Marx believed that a Capitalist system was comprised of a class of poor workers who were being exploited by the elite rich. The solution was a state-mandated and enforced “Robin Hood” approach.

That is, the state would take from the rich and give to the poor in order to eliminate both classes and make society economically equal. In the famous words of Marx,

“From each according to his ability to each according to his needs.”

It Looks Great ‘on Paper’

Image 5 9.9.2018 articleAs a hypothesis, Communism looks great…’on paper.’ The problem which persists to the present is the refusal of acolytes to admit that, in practice, Communism has failed every time it has been tried.

The most recent victim to the terrible results of Communism in practice is the beleaguered nation of Venezuela. Though it is not ‘officially’ under a Communist ‘party,’ the government is unabashedly Socialist, which is a gentle way of saying they are Communist.

Socialists are unable to see that it is the philosophy itself which is unworkable. The most recent example of such is being demonstrated in the devastated nation of Venezuela. The annual inflation rate recorded last month in that country was an astounding 46,305%!

Whether under the late Hugo Chavez or his successor, Nicolas Maduro, the destructive pattern continues. What was once the wealthiest nation in South America is now impoverished and in economic freefall.

Venezuelans are fleeing the nation because of shortages of, well, everything! From groceries to medicines, is almost completely gone.

This has forced many who haven’t yet left to turn to the black market for simple food to eat. That is if they have any money left to purchase it.

For the many unfortunates who cannot afford the ridiculously inflated prices, there is a ghastly alternative.

Aside from chubby dictator Nicolas Maduro and his fellow elites, the Venezuelan people are running out of food and medical supplies. In their starving desperation, citizens have resorted to breaking into zoos to slaughter and eat the also malnourished animals; buffalo, pigs and horses are top choices on the menu.

The destructiveness of the Marxist economic/political ideal goes far beyond even a starving populace. The errors inherent in its theory have produced a death toll far beyond anything else in world history.

The Grisly Death-toll of Leftist Economics

Socialism and deathLeftist economics became center-stage as the Communist revolution in Russia exploded in 1917. Since that time, under various names, Socialism of one form or another has killed more people than any other event, natural or man-made, in history.

Understand that Socialism has various pedigrees, but the same evil end. The Nazi party in Germany was officially known as the “National Socialist German Workers Party.”

Together with Germany’s National Socialism, the Communist Socialists such as the old USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) and Communist China have racked up a body count of over 150 million people!

The obvious question this brings to mind is why. Why has Leftist economic practice failed so miserably, and caused such misery?

My layman’s analysis pins down two large reasons for this. One is that governments are not producers of wealth. When the state controls the economy, as in Socialism, it can only control what wealth is already present.

The goal of Leftist economics is to forcibly redistribute wealth in order to eliminate the economic differences between classes in society. In short, to ‘level the playing field,’ economically.

This means that those who potentially could produce wealth as innovators or business owners have no incentive to do so. After all, if they cannot reap rewards for their efforts, why expend the time, energy and money.

Greed

Secondly, Leftism fails because it doesn’t account for the baseness of human nature. It requires a belief that people are basically good; a fatal fallacy refuted by God’s Word and history.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23 [ESV]

Marxist-type systems require a blind faith that the sinful nature will not sabotage the goal of redistribution. In other words, it requires people in high authority to be trusted with doling out all of everyone else’s money.

One of the best presentations about this phenomenon was given many years ago by noted economist Milton Friedman. In this short video excerpt of an interview with former TV host Phil Donohue, he presents a clear case against Socialism and for Capitalism.

The Creep of Leftist Economics in Modern America

Leftism has been on a steady creep into American society and politics for many decades. The primary venue where this asserts itself economically is in the progressive income tax system of the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS.

Noted economist Walter Williams characterizes the income tax in personal terms of morality.

Surely if a private person took money from one person and gave it to another, we’d deem it theft and, as such, immoral. Does the same act become moral when Congress takes people’s money to give to farmers, airline companies or an impoverished family? No, it’s still theft, but with an important difference: It’s legal, and participants aren’t jailed.

ObamacareIn more recent times, the calamity of Obamacare has been an example of how the state is at best incompetent as well as immoral when trying a socialistic approach to health care.

America herself received a prime example of a Socialist incompetence during the rollout of Obamacare beginning in 2011. The Federal government spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars trying and failing to build the healthcare website. Many pointed out at the time that there were a lot of people who could have done it better for a lot less.

Obamacare came under much-deserved criticism both before and after it was implemented. In part, because of that, it has been repackaged under a new label, “Medicare for all.”

This is but one of many forces pushing the free-enterprise Capitalism element out of the economy. However, it may be the most costly of all and risks virtual bankruptcy of the nation.

As the president rightly notes, this is another attempt at a government takeover of health care which would be disastrous. This must be opposed vigorously both at the ballot box and in society.

The only system which honors individual work is a free enterprise Capitalist system. The freedom of the individual is the basis on which God approaches humanity as well.

Unless the person chooses to follow the LORD, He will not force them to do so. Nor does He endorse human beings forcing their will upon others except where a violation of another’s rights is involved.

It is unwise to adopt a system in contradiction to His will. I pray we soon realize that the Left’s economics is very unwise and destructive.

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Top Image courtesy of Petras Gagilas’ Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Kevin Steinhardt’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Garry Knight’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of joshua_putnam’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of See-ming Lee’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 5 courtesy of Jay Oyakawa’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published at TIL Journal