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Report: True National Debt Exceeds $123 Trillion, or Nearly $800,000 per Taxpayer

The Democrat-CCP continues to impose more crushing debt on the American people, kill businesses, lockdown whole cities throw millions of out work.

China is taking over. Note what’s important and prioritized in their strategy for world domination – debt and spending. Balanced against the value of its commercial assets, the federal government had a combined total of $103.7 trillion in debts, liabilities, and unfunded obligations.

COVID was an act of war  by China– launched during a US presidential election exploited and weaponized by the party of treason.

True National Debt Exceeds $123 Trillion, or Nearly $800,000 per Taxpayer, Report

By Mark Tapscott, The Epoch Times, April 19, 2021:

America’s national debt now exceeds $123 trillion, according to a new report, or more than four times the official figure of $28 trillion, as calculated by the U.S. Treasury Department at the end of March.

Federal spending related to the CCP virus pandemic and economic lockdown added nearly $10 trillion to the total in 2020, according to the latest edition of the “Financial State of the Union 2021” report, compiled and published annually by Chicago-based nonprofit Truth in Accounting (TIA).

But spending amid the pandemic represents only a small portion of the total difference between the official government figure and TIA’s calculation.

“Our measure of the government’s financial condition includes reported federal assets and liabilities, as well as promised, but not funded, Social Security and Medicare benefits,” the report stated.

“Elected and non-elected officials have made repeated financial decisions that have left the federal government with a debt burden of $123.11 trillion, including unfunded Social Security and Medicare promises.”

The TIA report includes in its total debt calculation $55.12 trillion in unfunded Medicare benefits and $41.20 trillion in unfunded Social Security benefits.

Treasury officials don’t include unfunded benefits because they claim recipients have no right to future payments, only to those under current entitlement laws.

The total debt, according to the report, “equates to a $796,000 burden for every federal taxpayer. Because the federal government would need such a vast amount of money from taxpayers to cover this debt, it received an ‘F’ grade for its financial condition.”

Unlike many state governments, the federal government doesn’t maintain a cash reserve to deal with spending necessitated by unexpected crises such as a virus pandemic.

“The coronavirus pandemic and related stimulus packages have caused some of the deterioration because the government had to borrow money to weather the pandemic. If the federal government was properly prepared for a crisis with a true rainy-day fund, it would not have had to borrow money,” TIA stated.

Defense and veterans’ benefits accounted for the largest share of federal spending in 2020 at 23 percent, followed by health and human services with 19 percent, Social Security with 16 percent, interest on the debt at 5 percent, and 2 percent on education. Fully a third (35 percent) of the spending went to what TIA described as “Other.”

Responses

Spokesmen for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), respectively the chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Budget Committee, didn’t respond to The Epoch Times request for comment.

Similarly, a spokesman for House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), didn’t respond.

Mondays are typically “travel days” for senators returning from their states and representatives from the districts.

A spokesman for Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), the budget panel’s ranking minority member, referred to a March 31 statement in which Smith criticized news spending proposals from President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats.

“Washington Democrats are embracing an historically disturbing appetite for spending. They just passed a nearly $2 Trillion bailout bill. President Biden is now proposing they turn right back around and cut a check for another $2 trillion to spend on a massive grab bag of policies all tied together with talking points,” Smith wrote.

“All the while, the President reportedly has yet another $2 trillion spending proposal in his back pocket awaiting its own news cycle.”

Consultants Agree

Campaign strategists and nonprofit activists interviewed by The Epoch Times about the TIA report expressed agreement that debt requires serious attention to get it under control.

Jim Manley, former communications director to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said “at some point, both parties are going to have to have a serious negotiation regarding the need to get our fiscal house in better order, and that includes both taxes and spending, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon because our politics are just too toxic.”

But, Manley said, “in the meantime interest rates are low and the economy is digging itself out of the hole the pandemic caused, but there is no reason for Democrats to be at all concerned about the Republicans’ new-found focus on cutting spending after everything the last administration did.”

He was referring, he said, to 2017 tax reform legislation enacted by Republican majorities in the House and Senate and signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Another Democratic campaign strategist, Kevin B. Chavous, told The Epoch Times: “This has been an issue that both parties have simply failed to address. It will not be fixed, though, by doing the same things.”

Chavous said he expects “the infrastructure bill will create jobs and grow the economy by investing in modern technology and cleaner energy sources. Things like a nationalized electric grid and expanded broadband access will make Americans more productive and more competitive in the years to come. It is an expense we have to make sooner than later.”

Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) President David Williams pointed to the need to cut federal spending. “A debt of $123 trillion should be a wake-up call for the country. The bill is coming due very soon, which could have dire consequences for taxpayers and the country.”

Williams said Biden and congressional leaders “are seemingly oblivious to the stark fiscal crisis happening right under their noses. Worse yet, if they are aware of the deep financial issues, they are clearly not doing anything to fix the problem. Instead of finding ways to spend more money, Congress and the president need to find ways to cut spending.”

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) President Tom Schatz noted that President Thomas Jefferson said the nation’s representatives shouldn’t accumulate debts that can’t be paid in their own time, and while this has been problematic for years, it has never been this significant.

Schatz said he believes “members of Congress have an obligation to attempt to bring spending under control and ensure that present and future taxpayers are not forced to fund any federal program that is duplicative, wasteful, and inefficient.”

When The Epoch Times asked TIA President Sheila Weinberg if it’s reasonable to depend upon future economic growth to solve the debt problem, she said no, and noted that the Treasury Department agrees.

“The authors of the Financial Report of the U.S. Government have deemed that under current law and policy, a massive implied increase in the ratio of reported debt to GDP—e.g. future debt will be growing faster than GDP—is simply unsustainable,” she said.

“In other words, under current law and policy, we can’t grow our way out of this, especially considering Medicare grows faster than inflation.”

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Trump Draining the Economic Swamp

If you go back in time and look at the footage of citizen Trump, you will find that Donald Trump has been on point from day one. From the Oprah interview to the NY supreme court as an expert witness during the S&L crisis and everything in between. As stated by Q, America needed to be resurrected. Our Constitutional Republic needed to be restored. Back in 2014, the plan was set and the rest is history. Trump has come aboard to restore the power to the people as intended by our founding documents. And so, along with many other areas being addressed, draining the economic swamp has now begun.

The global financial reset is underway, albeit mostly behind the scenes. The market meltdown may now have been delayed ensuring a Trump victory in 2020 as Trump now is controlling the Fed. Dangers and opportunities through this reset are evident and I will post on this over the months and short years ahead.

The existing controlled and rigged debt based economic and monetary model is being disassembled. You cannot MAGA without controlling your currency. Trump is now going for the jugular and he, (we), will win once again. Let the force be with you sir.

Now I get it, many say this cannot and will not happen and I for one completely disagree. We have been programmed to believe this. And I too, was in that camp, pre-Trump. Well, my friends it’s a new day dawning. The great awakening is upon us as is the light of God. We are winning and draining the economic swamp will soon be (perhaps within a couple of short years), another item to be filed here, in promises kept.

No Longer

The old model of which Trump and company has begun to seize control, will soon be taken out. No longer will there be a debt based monetary system. Sound money will be restored. No longer will the bankers fund both sides of endless manufactured wars, reaping the profits and the harvest. No longer will our constitution and bill of rights be shredded. No longer will we the people be controlled by debt, debt slaves. Face it. We are debt slaves. No longer will we be taxed on our income. No longer will a private for profit banking cartel control our currency as this is in fact a violation of our constitution. Yes, President Trump will lead us back to sound money. Gold may become the de facto currency, so watch gold (and silver) as Trump restores in due time , sound money and crushes the power of the central banks. No more digital fiat. Over the many months to come, the President will expose the Fed and the central bank debt based monetary system. Watch. You will see. This will take some years, but this too will soon come to light. Now it may be confusing along the way. There will be many mixed signals and signs day by day along the way. So stay truly informed. In order to do this you must change the channeland build an arsenal of truth news versus fake news. Americans are  starving for truth. Seek and ye shall find. This will restore your faith, hope and trust. This will help raise your tone level from apathy, anger, fear etc., to perhaps becoming an informed, empowered and engaged and active citizen. If nothing else, you will at least feel better.

In Closing

I will keep this post short and sweet as this is a subject that is rather complex as Trump takes on the Federal Reserve, IMF and the Central Banking Rothschild dynasty. I will be posting content along the way to play my part in keeping us informed. Put on your seat belts. Be prepared. And get some popcorn and enjoy the show! Visit these supportive and insightful links below. Stay the course. Trust the plan. Pray for and support our President.

Q Plan to Save the World

Q We are the Plan

Q From Dark to Light

Video: Global Reset I

Video: Global Reset II

Global Financial Reset

Weekly Address: Draining the Economic Swamp

EDITORS NOTE: This John Michael Chambers column with images is republished with permission.

A Citizen’s Guide to Fixing The Federal Government

The majority of Americans have lost faith in and distrust the federal government. Currently, just 19% of Americans say they can trust the government always or most of the time, among the lowest levels in the past half-century.

What can citizens do to fix the federal government?

fixing federal government guide book coverJohn H. Ramsey has published “A Citizen’s Common Sense Guide For Fixing The Federal Government.” Ramsey presents the problems but more importantly offers common sense solutions to fix what is broken in Washington, D.C. Ramsey lists the most important problems facing the American people as:

  • 70,000 pages of tax code
  • Rampant Deficit Spending
  • 175,000 pages of regulations, many which are not authorized by law
  • Mismanaged Social Security and Medicare Funds
  • Improper Accounting that masks America’s true liabilities

Ramsey offers the following solutions implemented by “We The People”:

  • Tax Only to fund Government with no social engineering
  • Deficit Spending only in national emergencies
  • Tie regulations to law with fair Administrative Courts
  • Repay Social Security and Medicare. Manage as trust funds.
  • Use generally accepted accounting for government

Ramsey proposes a Constitutional Amendment to reign in the federal government.

Most Americans will agree with Ramsey’s analysis and his solutions for fixing the federal government. Some may not agree with his solutions. Creating a new amendment to the Constitution is fraught with dangers. Ramsey’s Constitutional amendment verbiage would be subject to the whims of Congress, those who are the root cause of the problem.

To the naysayers Ramsey responds:

I think there is enough impetus that a Constitutional Convention is probably going to happen. Our task therefore is to influence the outcome. Clearly, Congress may meddle but they cannot stop it.

My goal is to help to adopt an Omnibus Amendment to The U.S. Constitution requiring that our Federal Government:

Tax only to fund Government, with no social engineering. This could be accomplished either with a flat tax based on income or a Fair Tax on consumption. The key is to eliminate 73,000 pages of exceptions, deductions, and attempted social influences that have nothing to do with funding the government.

Deficit spend only in national emergencies; pay down existing debt. You didn’t comment on this but it is crucial that we enact an amendment that stops runaway deficit spending.

Tie regulations tightly to law with fair and impartial Administrative Courts. This provision would tie regulations more closely to the underlying laws which authorize them and would enable the courts to throw out regulations that exceed the specific authorization in law. Furthermore, currently Administrative Courts are the only recourse for citizens wishing to challenge particular regulations, but such Administrative Courts are staffed entirely by government employees who almost always rule in favor of the government. They are not independent and impartial which my Constitutional Amendment would require.

Repay money misappropriated from Social Security and Medicare and manage them independently as trust funds. Repayment of amounts “borrowed” from these funds would reduce the federal deficit by about $2.8 trillion, almost 15% of the total.

Use generally accepted accounting for the federal government. This requirement is simple but not easy, but it is essential because we simply do not know the extent of federal liabilities because they are accounted for improperly and inconsistently, and so much of the exposure is “off the balance sheet”.

There are other efforts being proposed to fix the broken federal government from eliminating the Sixteenth Amendment as proposed under the Fair Tax (H.R.25), to an Article V Convention and a Constitutional convention to impose term limits on the U.S. Congress recently approved by the Florida legislature.

All of these efforts are dramatic bottom up efforts and each has as its goal to fix an increasingly out of control federal government (legislative, administrative and judicial).

The American people have had enough of top down solutions, they hunger for a bottom up approach.

In that light, Mr. Ramsey’s is one of those solutions worthy of a closer look.

RELATED ARTICLE: Pitfalls to Abbott’s Call for Convention of States

Will America Ever Have A ‘Wise And Frugal Government’ Again

Sometimes it is said that a man cannot be trusted with the government of himself.  Can he then be trusted with the government of others?  Recent history has proven that to be very true.  No one of with any measure of moral conscience will deny the recent history of government being shepherded toward oblivion by proponents of evil.  ­I hate to bring it up, but the Obama administration is perhaps the premier example of a man that cannot be trusted and should not be have been granted the privilege of governing our republic.  But unfortunately therein lies another problem that must be addressed as we engage perhaps the most important election in our nation’s history.

As “We the People” prepare to choose who will lead our republic, perhaps we should take a closer look at ourselves and refine our vision of what kind of America do we want going forward.  To aid in our search let us consider what do we want to leave for our children.  History will answer that question loud and clear with the results of our decisions.  If we do not reconnect with the Christian based values that were the foundational building blocks of our America we shall witness the completion of the destructive mission of the progressive enemies from within our population ranks.  Let us as Americans with courage and confidence pursue our own federal and republican principles.

As part of his 1801 Inaugural address, President Thomas Jefferson stated: Enlightened by a benign religion, professed, indeed, and practiced in various forms, yet all of them inculcating honesty, truth, temperance, gratitude, and the love of man; acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter.  With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? (I couldn’t help but pause here and ask this question.  Have you noticed how the further Americans are indoctrinated against the principles and beliefs that made the United States the  envy of the world, she is actually both less happy and prosperous?)

Still one thing more, fellow citizens—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…You should understand what I deem the essential principles of our government…. Equal and exact justice to all men, of, whatever state or persuasion, religious or political…the arraignment of all abuses at the bar of public reason; freedom of religion; freedom of the press, and freedom of a person under the protection of the habeas corpus and trial by jury impartially selected…

Unfortunately, our nation has succumbed to the lowest common denominator when it comes to morality, government function, individual liberties, as well as the economy and other relevant concerns.

If our republic is to reemerge as a beacon of light and liberty, to the teeming masses that would want to come to America legally to become Americans, our nation will first have to return to being the actual America that good and decent people around the world would want to be a part of.  Think about it, as our nation has become increasingly immoral, she has also degenerated from a land of liberty into a semi big government police state over every aspect of our lives.  In other words, the government takes over a people that don’t use self-control.

Without any effort, immorality replaces under utilized or untaught morality.  That is why the immoral from around the world are the majority of individuals now filing illegally into our nation with the permission of a corrupt government that appeases our enemies who want to come in and wreak havoc at taxpayer expense, just to add insult to injury.  That is why the Obama administration was ready to take Arizona to court and put a hurting on Texas for daring to protect the border with Mexico since the immoral federal government has gone loco.

Despite all of the negative developments over the past several decades that have culminated in the worst administration in our nation’s history and could potentially harm our nation beyond repair.  (After all, Obama did say he wanted to fundamentally change America.)  Obviously, his interpretation of changes could not have even been enacted before the turn of the century.  I believe that I have witnessed the real beginning of renewal in our country.  Many people of faith are finally becoming interested enough to learn about and care what happens to the United States of America.  Remember, it was an active, brave and intelligent church that was an integral part of the fight for independence and later against slavery.

Remembering the wise words of orator, author statesman, and abolitionist Frederick Douglas: The Declaration of Independence is the ringbolt to the chain of your nation’s destiny; so, indeed, I regard it.  The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles.  Stand by them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and whatever cost.  I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Douglas.  America, if you are to be great again, you must first seek to be good, for it is then you shall make better decisions and take right actions that will recalibrate our destiny from utter disaster to undeniable recovery and greatness.

VIDEO: Pastor Jack Martin Running for Congress in Florida’s 11th District

Florida’s 11th Congressional District includes Sumter, Citrus and Hernando counties and most of Marion county. The current representative of the 11th Congressional District is Richard B. Nugent (R). Nugent is retiring at the end of his current term.

Pastor John “Jack” Martin has decided for God and country to run for Nugent’s seat. Here is a video of Jack Martin speaking at a Second Amendment rally:

Guns Across America Florida Rally Pastor Jack Martin from Jack Martin on Vimeo.

Pastor Marin’s history is that of a 33 year pastor. He is a member of the Black Robe Regiment and Preacher from The Pulpit. He has been standing up, speaking out and attending various events throughout the State of Florida to Washington D.C. He has always felt that a position as a statesman, U.S. Congressional Rep. to represent The People was his next calling in life.

Martin on his website lists six major crises Americans face:

  1. The National Debt – Over 18 Trillion Dollars
  2. Our Borders – Unprotected and being flooded daily with those entering illegally from many nations.
  3. Our Military both Veterans and Active Duty treated poorly.
  4. Obamacare – Needing to be repealed and replaced.
  5. Israeli / American Relationships – Need to be restored.
  6. Our Judeo Christian Ethics – under heavy attack.

Jack Martin speaking on the Black Robe Regiment at a Deland, Florida Rally in December 2015:

Pastor Martin has been endorsed by William Finlay, Wild Bill for America, also a Black Robe Regiment member among others.

Supporter Deb Howard states, “Pastor Jack is well known for his candor of Gods word and the application in conjunction with today’s times that we face. His deliveries are captivating. I am attaching one in particular that I believe delivers Jacks beliefs as he does walk the walk. There is no denying that people are pleasantly surprised as the preacher from the small country church is ready willing and able to face the evil in D.C. unafraid to be heard and willing to fight the mass corruption within our Halls!”

“Pastor Jack is also acquainted with Geoff Ross, Senior Chief, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Michael McCallister, Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.), Ann Murrin, PoliticoChicks, Rodney Conover (writer and radio host), Joe The Plumber and numerous others who are supporting, covering the campaign trail and publishing information about him, ” said Howard.

Howard notes, “Our attempt to make Pastor John Martin a household name not only in District FL-11 but nationwide as he is challenging pastors to step out and off of the pulpit and guide congregations to comprehend the true nature of their work. As Black Robe Regiment Pastors joined in leading with George Washington to fight for our independence in the Revolutionary War, so stands John Martin.”

EDITORS NOTE: Readers wanting more information may visit the Jack Martin for Congress website.

The Slow-Motion Financial Suicide of the Roman Empire by Lawrence W. Reed & Marc Hyden

More than 2,000 years before America’s bailouts and entitlement programs, the ancient Romans experimented with similar schemes. The Roman government rescued failing institutions, canceled personal debts, and spent huge sums on welfare programs. The result wasn’t pretty.

Roman politicians picked winners and losers, generally favoring the politically well connected — a practice that’s central to the welfare state of modern times, too. As numerous writers have noted, these expensive rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul efforts were major factors in bankrupting Roman society. They inevitably led to even more destructive interventions. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the old saying goes — and it took a while to tear it down as well. Eventually, when the republic faded into an imperial autocracy, the emperors attempted to control the entire economy.

Debt forgiveness in ancient Rome was a contentious issue that was enacted multiple times. One of the earliest Roman populist reformers, the tribune Licinius Stolo, passed a bill that was essentially a moratorium on debt around 367 BC, a time of economic uncertainty. The legislation enabled debtors to subtract the interest paid from the principal owed if the remainder was paid off within a three-year window. By 352 BC, the financial situation in Rome was still bleak, and the state treasury paid many defaulted private debts owed to the unfortunate lenders. It was assumed that the debtors would eventually repay the state, but if you think they did, then you probably think Greece is a good credit risk today.

In 357 BC, the maximum permissible interest rate on loans was roughly 8 percent. Ten years later, this was considered insufficient, so Roman administrators lowered the cap to 4 percent. By 342, the successive reductions apparently failed to mollify the debtors or satisfactorily ease economic tensions, so interest on loans was abolished altogether. To no one’s surprise, creditors began to refuse to loan money. The law banning interest became completely ignored in time.

By 133 BC, the up-and-coming politician Tiberius Gracchus decided that Licinius’s measures were not enough. Tiberius passed a bill granting free tracts of state-owned farmland to the poor. Additionally, the government funded the erection of their new homes and the purchase of their faming tools. It’s been estimated that 75,000 families received free land because of this legislation. This was a government program that provided complimentary land, housing, and even a small business, all likely charged to the taxpayers or plundered from newly conquered nations. However, as soon as it was permissible, many settlers thanklessly sold their farms and returned to the city. Tiberius didn’t live to see these beneficiaries reject Roman generosity, because a group of senators murdered him in 133 BC, but his younger brother Gaius Gracchus took up his populist mantle and furthered his reforms.

Tiberius, incidentally, also passed Rome’s first subsidized food program, which provided discounted grain to many citizens. Initially, Romans dedicated to the ideal of self-reliance were shocked at the concept of mandated welfare, but before long, tens of thousands were receiving subsidized food, and not just the needy. Any Roman citizen who stood in the grain lines was entitled to assistance. One rich consul named Piso, who opposed the grain dole, was spotted waiting for the discounted food. He stated that if his wealth was going to be redistributed, then he intended on getting his share of grain.

By the third century AD, the food program had been amended multiple times. Discounted grain was replaced with entirely free grain, and at its peak, a third of Rome took advantage of the program. It became a hereditary privilege, passed down from parent to child. Other foodstuffs, including olive oil, pork, and salt, were regularly incorporated into the dole. The program ballooned until it was the second-largest expenditure in the imperial budget, behind the military.It failed to serve as a temporary safety net; like many government programs, it became perpetual assistance for a permanent constituency who felt entitled to its benefits.

In 88 BC, Rome was reeling from the Social War, a debilitating conflict with its former allies in the Italian peninsula. One victorious commander was a man named Sulla, who that year became consul (the top political position in the days of the republic) and later ruled as a dictator. To ease the economic catastrophe,Sulla canceled portions of citizens’ private debt, perhaps up to 10 percent,leaving lenders in a difficult position. He also revived and enforced a maximum interest rate on loans, likely similar to the law of 357 BC. The crisis continually worsened, and to address the situation in 86 BC, a measure was passed that reduced private debts by another 75 percent under the consulships of Cinna and Marius.

Less than two decades after Sulla, Catiline, the infamous populist radical and foe of Cicero, campaigned for the consulship on a platform of total debt forgiveness. Somehow, he was defeated, likely with bankers and Romans who actually repaid their debts opposing his candidacy. His life ended shortly thereafter in a failed coup attempt.

In 60 BC, the rising patrician Julius Caesar was elected consul, and he continued the policies of many of his populist predecessors with a few innovations of his own. Once again, Rome was in the midst of a crisis. In this period, private contractors called tax farmers collected taxes owed to the state. These tax collectors would bid on tax-farming contracts and were permitted to keep any surplus over the contract price as payment. In 59 BC, the tax-farmer industry was on the brink of collapse. Caesar forgave as much as one-third of their debt to the state. The bailout of the tax-farming market must have greatly affected Roman budgets and perhaps even taxpayers, but the catalyst for the relief measure was that Caesar and his crony Crassus had heavily invested in the struggling sector.

In 33 AD, half a century after the collapse of the republic, Emperor Tiberius faced a panic in the banking industry. He responded by providing a massive bailout of interest-free loans to bankers in an attempt to stabilize the market. Over 80 years later, Emperor Hadrian unilaterally forgave 225 million denarii in back taxes for many Romans, fostering resentment among others who had painstakingly paid their tax burdens in full.

Emperor Trajan conquered Dacia (modern Romania) early in the second century AD, flooding state coffers with booty. With this treasure trove, he funded a social program, the alimenta, which competed with private banking institutions by providing low-interest loans to landowners while the interest benefited underprivileged children. Trajan’s successors continued this program until the devaluation of the denarius, the Roman currency, rendered the alimenta defunct.

By 301 AD, while Emperor Diocletian was restructuring the government, the military, and the economy, he issued the famous Edict of Maximum Prices. Rome had become a totalitarian state that blamed many of its economic woes on supposed greedy profiteers. The edict defined the maximum prices and wages for goods and services. Failure to obey was punishable by death. Again, to no one’s surprise, many vendors refused to sell their goods at the set prices, and within a few years, Romans were ignoring the edict.

Enormous entitlement programs also became the norm in old Rome. At its height, the largest state expenditure was an army of 300,000–600,000 legionaries. The soldiers realized their role and necessity in Roman politics, and consequently their demands increased. They required exorbitant retirement packages in the form of free tracts of farmland or large bonuses of gold equal to more than a decade’s worth of their salary. They also expected enormous and periodic bonuses in order to prevent uprisings.

The Roman experience teaches important lessons. As the 20th-century economist Howard Kershner put it, “When a self-governing people confer upon their government the power to take from some and give to others, the process will not stop until the last bone of the last taxpayer is picked bare.” Putting one’s livelihood in the hands of vote-buying politicians compromises not just one’s personal independence, but the financial integrity of society as well. The welfare state, once begun, is difficult to reverse and never ends well.

Rome fell to invaders in 476 AD, but who the real barbarians were is an open question. The Roman people who supported the welfare state and the politicians who administered it so weakened society that the Western Roman Empire fell like a ripe plum that year. Maybe the real barbarians were those Romans who had effectively committed a slow-motion financial suicide.

Lawrence W. Reed

Lawrence W. Reed

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s.

Who Is Doing More for Affordable Education: Politicians or Innovators? by Bryan Jinks

With a current outstanding student loan debt of $1.3 trillion, debt-free education is poised to be a major issue leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has come forth with his plan for tuition-free higher education.

Senator Elizabeth Warren supports debt-free education, which goes even further by guaranteeing that students don’t take on debt to pay other expenses incurred while receiving an education.

Democratic Party front-runner Hillary Clinton is expected to propose a plan to reduce student loan debt at some point. And don’t forget President Obama’s proposal to provide two years of community college to all students tuition-free.

While all of these plans would certainly increase access to higher education, they would also be expensive. President Obama’s relatively modest community college plan would cost $60 billion over the next decade. What makes this an even worse idea is that all of that taxpayer money wouldn’t solve the most important problems currently facing higher education.

Shifting the costs completely to taxpayers doesn’t actually reduce the costs. It also doesn’t increase the quality of education in a system that has high drop-out rates and where a lot of graduates end up in low-paying jobs that don’t use their degree. Among first-time college students who enrolled in a community college in the fall of 2008, fewer than 40% earned a credential from either a two-year or four-year institution within six years.

Whatever the other social or spiritual benefits of attending college are, they don’t justify wasting that so much time and money without seeing much improvement in wages or job prospects.

Proponents of debt-free college argue that these programs are worth the cost because a more educated workforce will boost the economy. But these programs would push more marginal students into college without any regard for how prepared they are, how likely they are to graduate, or how interested they are in getting a degree. If even more of these students enter college, keeping the low completion rates from falling even further would be a challenge.

All of these plans would just make sure that everyone would have access to the mediocre product that higher education currently is. Just as the purpose of Obamacare was to make sure that every American had a health insurance card in their wallet, the purpose of debt-free education is to make sure that every American has a student ID card too — whether it means anything or not.

But there are changes coming in higher education that can actually solve some of these problems.

The Internet is making education much cheaper. While Open Online Courses have existed for more than a decade, there are a growing number of places to find educational materials online. Udemy is an online marketplace that allows anyone to create their own course and sell it or give it away. Saylor Academy and University of the People both have online models that offer college credit with free tuition and relatively low examination fees.

Udacity offers nanodegrees that can be completed in 6-12 months. The online curriculum is made in partnership with technology companies to give students exactly the skills that hiring managers are looking for. And there are many more businesses and non-profits offering new ways to learn that are cheaper, faster, and more able to keep up with the ever-changing economy than traditional universities.

All of these innovations are happening in response the rising costs and poor outcomes that have become typical of formal education. New educational models will keep developing that offer solutions that policy makers can’t provide.

Some of these options are free, some aren’t. Each has their own curriculum and some provide more tangible credentials than others. There isn’t one definitive answer as to how someone should go about receiving an education. But each of these innovations provides a small part of the answer to the current problems with higher education.

Change for the better is coming to higher education. Just don’t expect it to come from Washington.

Bryan Jinks

Bryan Jinks is a ?freelance writer based out of Cleveland, Ohio.

“Green Banks” Will Drown in the Red by Jonathan Bydlak

Why does federal spending matter? There are many reasons, but perhaps the most fundamental is that free markets allocate resources better than governments because markets rely on price instead of politics. Many industries show this observation to be true, but the emerging field of “green banks” offers perhaps one of the clearest recent examples.

A green bank is a “public or quasi-public financing institution that provides low-cost, long-term financing support to clean, low-carbon projects by leveraging public funds…to attract private investment.” Right now, only a handful of green banks are scattered across Connecticut, California, New York, Rhode Island, and Hawaii.

Free marketers rightly doubt whether public funds should be used to finance private startups. But regardless of where one stands in that debate, the states’ struggles serve as a valuable testing ground for future investments.

The State of Connecticut operates under a fairly significant budget deficit. California has been calculating its budgets without taking unfunded pension liabilities into account, and it’s gambling with its ability to service its debt. New York continues to live beyond its means. Rhode Island’s newest budget does little to rehabilitate its deficit spending addiction, and, despite having a balanced budget clause in its state constitution, Hawaii has a pattern of operating at a deficit.

In fact, a state solvency report released by the Mercatus Center has each of these five states ranked in the bottom third of the country, with their solvency described as either “low” or “poor.”

This all raises the question of whether these governments are able to find sound investment opportunities in the first place. Rhode Island couldn’t even identify a bad investment when baseball legend Curt Schilling wanted $75 million to make video games about something other than baseball!

Recently, though, there have been calls to extend the struggling green banking system to the federal level. Mark Muro and Reed Hundt at the Brookings Institute argued in favor of federal action in support of green banks. Somewhat paradoxically, they assert that demand for green banking institutions and the types of companies they finance is so strong that the existing state-based green banks cannot muster enough capital to meet demand.

Wherever there is potential for profit and a sound business plan, lending institutions are likely to be found, willing to relinquish a little capital for a consistent and reasonable rate of return. So where are the private lenders and other investment firms who have taken notice and are competing for the opportunity to provide loans to such highly sought-after companies and products?

Even assuming that there is demand for green banking services, recent experience shows that a federally-subsidized system would likely lead to inefficiency, favor trading, and failure. For instance, the Department of Energy Loan Program is designed to facilitate and aid clean energy startup companies. Its portfolio exceeds $30 billion, but following a series of bad investments like Solyndra, Inc., new loan guarantees have been few and far between. The program has already lost over $700 million.

Even the rosiest measurements do not show particularly exciting returns from this system. The Department of Energy itself estimates that over the lifetime of the loans it’s guaranteed, there exists the potential to see $5 billion in profit. However, those estimates also depend on the peculiar accounting methods the DoE itself employs.

This problem is apparent in other government sectors. For instance, determining how much profit the federal government makes off of student loans depends on who is asked. Some say none, while others say it’s in the billions. Gauging the economic impact or solvency of government programs is notoriously difficult, and different methods can yield what look like very different results. Add to that the consistently uncertain nature of the energy market, and profits are hardly guaranteed.

Examples abound of wasteful federal spending, and the growing green technology and renewable energy industry is no exception. The DoE Loan Program has already faced issues that go well beyond Solyndra: Abound Solar, a Colorado-based solar panel manufacturer, was given a $400 million DoE loan guarantee, only to later file for bankruptcy, potentially costing taxpayers $60 million. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a 175,000 unit heliostat array in California, received a $1.6 billion federal loan and, because it failed to produce the amount of power estimated, was forced to later request more than$500 million in federal grants from the Treasury Department. A recent Taxpayers Protection Alliance study showed that risky investments in heavily subsidized solar energy could even lead to a bubble similar to the disastrous 2008 housing bubble.

Those who want to expand the government’s role in green banking likely want to see more clean and renewable energy reach the consumer market, and a lot of people probably applaud that goal — but the real question is whether the proposed means can reliably achieve that end. A wise manager with a solid business plan can find investors who will willingly take a chance. Considering the struggles of several states, trusting the federal government to build an even bigger system would exponentially increase that risk.

In contrast, the market offers opportunity to entrepreneurs in the green technology and renewable energy industries. For instance, GreatPoint Energy, a company specializing in clean coal, successfully went the route that other companies do: Design a product or service, find investors, and compete in the marketplace.

SolarCity, a California-based and publicly traded corporation of over 2,500 employees, entered the industry before many government loan programs were established. Thanks to a sound business model and subsequent horizontal and vertical expansion, it has become a leader in the industry. SolarCity’s success, however, cannot be touted by the Department of Energy’s Loan Program, which declined to invest in the company, leading SolarCity to try — and succeed — in finding private investment.

If GreatPoint or SolarCity had failed, only those who willingly participated in the startup would suffer the consequences. The issue with green banking — and indeed government “investments” more generally — is that taxpayers are not party to the negotiations but are the ones ultimately on the hook for failures.

In absolute terms, these billions of dollars are a lot of money. But in the grand scheme of government spending, the amount of money invested in green banks and renewable energy production is relatively small. If Social Security is the Atlantic Ocean, and wasteful defense appropriations are the Mediterranean, then green energy investments fall somewhere in the range of the Y-40 pool: easily measurable but certainly not insignificant.

Your odds of drowning may be smaller in the pool than the ocean, but that doesn’t make the drowning itself any more pleasant. The federal government is already under water; adding new liabilities on the hope that politicians can guess the future of energy is merely a step towards the deep end, not the ladder out.


Jonathan Bydlak

Jonathan Bydlak is the founder and president of the Institute to Reduce Spending and the Coalition to Reduce Spending.

Why Does Obama Get Job Performance Approval?

It is one of the great mysteries. How does Barack Obama continue to generate job approval ratings that say he’s doing a good one?

On a recent weekend Rasmussen Reports rated him at 51% while Gallup gave him a 49% rating. At the Pew Research Center, his rating was at 47%, but they noted that at this time in his presidency, George W. Bush had a job approval rating of 33% while Bill Clinton was rated at 63% approval.

Of course, Bush and Clinton were President at different times dealing with different factors but metaphorically Obama’s ratings suggest that close to half of the voters polled still thought he was doing a good job or, at the very least, not a bad one.

Are the voters that are being polled simply not paying that much attention to the White House and its occupant?

Consider some aspects of his record in office to date:

As 2014 came to a close, Tyler Durden, writing on Zero Hedge, addressed the U.S. debt, noting that it had “just hit a new historic level…which also means that total U.S. debt had increased by 70% under Obama, from $10.625 trillion on January 21, 2009 to $18.005 trillion most recently.”

The level of debt led to the first downgrade of the U.S. credit rating in the nation’s history. At the same time federal spending (25% of Gross Domestic Product) was the highest since World War II.

Obama has presided over a terrible economy for the past six years and, while other Presidents came into office facing a comparable recession, Obama’s failed policies turned it into the Great Recession. Employment sank to the lowest since 1983 at 58.1% of the working population and long-term unemployment (45.9%) was the highest since the 1930s.

One might think that so many people either out of work or who had given up seeking it would be unhappy enough to credit Obama with the economy’s sluggish state. He is currently taking credit for any improvement, but much of it is attributable to the energy sector and he has taken steps to harm it since 2009 with “a war on coal”, restricting any exploration or drilling for oil and natural gas on federal lands, and most recently, attempting to put one of the most energy-rich regions of Alaska off-limits to any access.

AA - Poll of DropoutsAs we begin to work on our tax returns, it’s worth noting that only 49% of taxpayers will be paying an income tax, the lowest level in the modern era and, predictably, government dependency (47%), defined as the percentage of people receiving one or more federal benefit payments, is now the highest in American history.

There was a time when being on welfare was something people tried to avoid. That suggests that something has changed in the American character, but we know that all too well as we watch our society accept a range of conduct that includes demands for same-sex marriages, legalization of marijuana, a growing population of single-parent families, attacks on the saying of prayers at public ceremonies, hostility to the police who protect us, and a host of other behaviors that undermine the moral values that previous generations of Americans passed on to their descendants.

Another mystery is the way facts about Obama seem to stir so little interest. He allegedly has a Social Security number from a state in which he has never lived. Many of the records of his life that other Presidents have made public have been kept sealed from examination. A birth certificate has been deemed a forgery by document experts. Whole books have been devoted to the disparities between his two memoirs and facts that have raised many questions.

At the least, one might assume that Americans know that he lies all the time. The typical television news program includes video of something he said previously that clashes with whatever his recent version is. Why would voters grant a 50% approval rating to someone who so consistently lies to them?

The fact is that his namesake legislation—ObamaCare—has been a disaster from the day it was passed. It was sold to the public with a series of outrageous lies told by the President. Passage was based solely on the votes of a Democratic Party that controlled Congress but the recent election did shift control of Congress to the GOP, so the voter’s actions do speak louder than words.

The then-Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, summed it up saying they had to pass the 2,000-plus page monster “in order to find out what’s in it.” That is not how government is supposed to function, but worst of all, ObamaCare requires Americans to purchase a product, health insurance, they may not want or may not need. That is a lot closer to a dictatorship than a democracy.

How many scandals have occurred during the President’s six years in office? The short answer is “too many”; the most recent being the exchange of five Taliban generals for one American soldier deemed by those with whom he served to have deserted his unit. In the same fashion it has taken months to pry information from the White House about the Benghazi attack that took the life of a U.S. ambassador and three others. As is frequently the case, it is the cover-up that rivals the event.

In the end, one must conclude that Obama’s job performance approval ratings say as much about the mood and outlook of the voters who were polled as the facts cited above would suggest. A lot of Americans continue to express their anger and frustration with Obama, myself included, but that is not showing up in the ratings that suggest that a least half the voters think he’s doing, if not a great job, at least a good one.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Former CIA Officer — Its the National Debt Stupid! Beware of the Bail-in!

“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.” – Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President

berntsen_gary

Gary Berntsen

Decorated former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) career officer who served in the Directorate of Operations between October 1982 and June 2005, Gary Berntsen was in Sarasota, Florida to talk about the greatest threat to the national security of the United States of America. Speaking at an event hosted by the Concerned Veterans for America, Berntsen said that the greatest national security threat to the U.S. is not the Russian incursion into Ukraine, the Chinese expansion into SE Asia, the threats from Middle Eastern terrorists, its the growing national debt.

Berntsen went on to say that the debt bubble is about to burst. It is when, not if, ordinary Americans will feel the impact of a weakened dollar and the failure of Congress to deal with the national debt and spending.

Berntsen quoted a number of recent books warning about the coming fiscal crisis, including The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System by James Rickards. Berntsen said that after reading Rickards book he understood how vulnerable Americans are to two fiscal bubbles – the dollar bubble and national debt bubble. Berntsen said that the pins that will burst these bubbles are: inflation and China stopping to buy U.S. Treasury Bonds.

Berntsen raised the specter of a new financial global paradigm called the “bail-in“. The Financial Times defines “bail-in” as, “[A] desire to make bondholders – who after all helped lend the money that allowed banks to lend imprudently – share the burden in future by making them forfeit part of their investment to “bail in” a bank before taxpayers are called up on to bail it out. In theory, this will force them to be more careful with their investments and protect the taxpayer from a re-run of the recent crisis.”

Berntsen noted that the bail-in paradigm was used in Cypress. In his article Bail-in vs. Bailout, David Kotok writes:

In the aftermath of the bungled Cyprus affair, we are now observing a major transition underway with regard to bank-deposit safety.

In the Eurozone and in Europe generally, the sacredness of an insured deposit was bludgeoned by the finance ministers in their botched attempt to impose a cost on insured deposits in Cyprus. The finance ministers were taken to task decisively by their political constituents. Imagine: it was the parliament of Cyprus that stood between the insured depositors in Eurozone banks and the outrageous attempt to breech the sacred promise that insurance entails.

One has to be thankful for the democratic political process that elects parliaments, even in Cyprus.

Now we are seeing a different form of attack on depositors. We are transitioning from a system of bank bailouts to “bail-ins.”

Read more.

Berntsen said that Alan Greenspan in his book The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature and the Future of Forecasting alluded to the new paradigm of the bail-in. The bail-in is available to President Obama and Congress as it was included in H.R. 4173: Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The Financial Times in the definition of bail-in uses the Example of Dodd-Frank stating, “The US has already put in place bail-in-like powers as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act passed last year [2010]. The law includes a resolution scheme that gives regulators the ability to impose losses on bondholders while ensuring the critical parts of the bank can keep running. Employees would be paid, the lights would stay on and derivatives contracts would not have to be instantly unwound, one of the areas that caused market confusion when Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008.” [Emphasis added]

The danger is clear and present. The media is not covering this existential threat. Rather the news outlets are more interested in any issue other than the one most important to Main Street America.

Time will tell and time is running short according to Berntsen.

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