Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More facts and Myths

For years now we keep seeing political advertisements about getting rid of our dependence on "foreign oil" or how we are sending our fortune to the Middle East. Hmmm.....

Have you looked at the actual facts about just where "we" get our oil? The latest statistics published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration show that 70% of "our" imports come from the top 5 oil exporting nations. No surprise there, BUT what is important and dispels some of the Middle East "Myth" is that the Country we import the most oil from is directly north of us. That's right, CANADA. The country that we import the second most oil from is directly south of us. That's right, MEXICO. In FACT, the only Middle Eastern country among our top 5 imports is Saudi Arabia (at #3) and we get about HALF of what we import from Canada and about 20% LESS than we get from Mexico. Nigeria and Venezuela are in the 4 and 5 spots and not very far behind Saudi Arabia. In FACT, there are only 3 Middle East nations that make our import list AT ALL. 

The FACTS  seem to dispel the "Myth" don't they?

Another key "myth" is that if we somehow bought no "foreign oil" and just drilled more in the Gulf or Alaska or inland that we would a) be able to supply all of our current and future needs and b) that somehow this would result in major reductions in the prices of gas at the pump or heating oil costs.Well, the answer to a) is that we could not even come close to meeting demand (unless of course we wean ourselves off the oil as a serious goal) solely with "domestic" production. The answer to b) raises another "myth versus "fact" question and that is "Does the United States Government own and operate any oil company for drilling or refining that would bring about a lowering of any prices?" No it does not. Exxon Mobil, and Chevron are private firms. Shell is a foreign owned company as is BP and Citgo. The United States Government (meaning us) own none of it! Sure we lease drilling areas and we issue permits to drill or permits to operate refineries on U.S. soil but we cannot make any demands for lower prices and politicians certainly cannot (in fact) promise the American people that not buying "foreign oil" would reduce our costs!   

Another "fact" is that all the oil companies that we like to think of as "American" have partnership agreements with all the "foreign" nations to the point that they are virtually one and the same anyway.One thing the U.S. Government does do, however, is provide these "American" and not American oil firms with tremendous tax credits which only reduces the Federal revenue.

Maybe you should start asking these questions when these "myths" are tossed out in front of you;

       1) Does the United States own or control any oil company?
       2) Why are State taxes on each gallon of gas sold so high?
       3)  When will the tax credits for "foreign" oil firms be eliminated?
       4) Do we consider Canada and Mexico (our two largest import sources) to be the "bad guy"?
       5) When are politicians going to climb of the bed of big oil and start helping America to progress beyond oil and into a future than we can sustain?


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What Happened???

As everyone is running around blaming each other for our fiscal mess take a look at some historical numbers and then ask; "WHAT HAPPENED?" Just how did we find ourselves with the absurd annual numbers we have now?

      Federal Debt = 257.4 Billion
      Revenue = 66.68 Billion
      Spending = 70.3 Billion
      Deficit - 3.62 Billion
      Individual Income tax rate = 91% over 200,000
      Corporate income tax rate = 42% over $25,000
      Average annual income (per capita)= $1501
      Unemployment = Between 4.2 and 6.5%

      Federal Debt = 268.3 Billion
      Revenue = 153 Billion
      Spending = 151 Billion
      Surplus = 2 Billion
      Individual Income tax rate = 91% over 300,000
      Corporate Income tax rate = 52% over $25,000
      Average annual income (per capita) = $2219
      Unemployment = Between 4.8 and 6.6%

      Federal Debt = 370.9 Billion
      Revenue = 321.1 Billion
      Spending = 322 Billion
      Deficit = 900,000
      Individual Income tax rate = 70% over 180,000
      Corporate Income tax rate = 49.2% over $25,000
      Average annual income (per capita) = $3,893
      Unemployment = Between 3.9 and 6.1%

      Federal Debt = 907.7 Billion
      Revenue = 885.62 Billion
      Spending = 940 Billion
      Deficit = 54.38 Billion
      Individual Income tax rate = 70% over $161,300
      Corporate Income tax rate = 46% over $100,000
      Average annual income (per capita) = $9,910
      Unemployment = Between 6.3 and 7.8%

      Federal Debt = 3.23 Trillion
      Revenue = 1.927 Trillion
      Spending = 2.1 Trillion
      Deficit = 173 Billion
      Individual Income tax rate = 28% over $28,050
      Corporate Income tax rate = 34% over $335,000
      Average annual income (per capita) = $19,188
      Unemployment  = Between 5.2 and 6.3%

      Federal Debt = 5.67 Trillion
      Revenue = 3.675 Trillion
      Spending = 3.24 Trillion
      Surplus = 435 Billion
      Individual Income tax rate = 39.6% over $297,350
      Corporate Income tax rate = 35% over $18,333,333
      Average annual income (per capita) = $$29,845
      Unemployment = Between 3.8 and 4.1
      Federal Debt = 13.56 Trillion
      Revenue = 2.381 Trillion
      Spending = 3.591 Trillion
      Deficit = 1.21 Trillion
      Individual Income tax rate = 35% over $373,650
      Corporate Income tax rate = 35% over $18,333,333
      Average annual income (per capita) = $40,504
      Unemployment = Between 9.4 and 9.8%

   What do all the numbers reveal? 
      Between 1950 and 1970 (a 20 year period) the Federal Debt increased only 113 Billion (mostly during the 1960's Vietnam War era) or 43%( just over 2% per year).
      Based on the average annual income figures during the 1950's and 60's the 91% top tax rate was virtually meaningless.
      The Federal Debt went up two and a half times during the 1970's
      The Federal Debt went up three and a half times during the 1980's
      The Federal Debt went up ONLY 70% between 1990 and 2000
      the Federal Debt more than doubled between 2000 and 2010

How did all this happen?

     Some KEY events;

        By 1990 the Top income tax rate had been lowered to 28% BUT on income over $28,050 which was only about $9,000 over the average per capita income.
       By 1990 Federal Revenues had grown to almost 2 Trillion dollars BUT our Debt was 3.23 TRILLION in 1990.
       The 2000 figures reveal the most telling story of why we are in the situation we are in now. In 2000 we had Revenues of 3.65 Trillion and spending of 3.240 Trillion for a SURPLUS of 435 Billion.
       The 2010 SPENDING of 3.591 Trillion dollars represents an increase over the 2000 spending numbers by ONLY 351 Billion (or just over a 10% increase from a full decade earlier)which compared to any other decade in this review showed a very positive result.
       The biggest key to our current deficits is the fact that Federal Revenues have DECREASED from 3.675 TRILLION in 2000 to 2.381 TRILLION in 2010. As spending for Defense INCREASED from 358.68 Billion in 2000 to 871.89 Billion in 2010 and SPENDING for Welfare has INCREASED from 176.57 Billion in 2000 to 427.65 Billion in 2010 and SPENDING for Healthcare has INCREASED from 351.65 Billion in 2000 to 846.83 Billion in 2010 it is the REVENUE DECREASE that has created the huge deficits we have now. I have not even included Social Security "spending" here because it should not be a part of the annual Federal Budget at all. But, there is over 900 Billion figured into the revenue and spending projections for 2010 (these figures were about 550 Billion out in 2000 and about 710 Billion in in 2000.

   With Defense spending eating up 36% of revenues the social security/ pensions eating up almost 1/3 of the Federal revenues HUGE Federal deficits simply cannot be avoided without a dramatic INCREASE in Federal revenues. All the posturing and bickering about "cuts" to various programs will never bring about anything close to a balanced budget or any reduction in our overall debt. The ONLY WAY to accomplish the so-called goals of both parties is to face the fact that there MUST be substantial increases to income tax rates and revenues and decreases to Defense spending (back to 2000 levels) and decreases in welfare spending (back to 2000 levels) and a serious assault on controlling health care costs throughout the medical and insurance industry.A KEY requirement for any additional revenue gained through tax increases MUST be used specifically to reduce the overall debt and NOT simply used for additional spending.A plan to use any additional revenues gained from tax increases to begin to repay the Social Security Trust Fund the 3 Trillion dollars that Congress has "borrowed" during the past 40 years. This would not only reduce the overall debt but also make Social Security more solvent.

  Of course, the two main political Parties will not and cannot do the right thing because the money interests who support them will not allow it. They will continue to scare citizens with 10 or 20 year forecasts (which are themselves meaningless) to intimidate voters on both sides. Welcome to the continuing fall of America.


Friday, April 08, 2011

National Debt and the Blame Game

As our Government officials continue to debate the current budget details one thing remains a constant. Both sides will blame the other for causing the situation and of being responsible for our National Debt which has exploded to more than 14 TRILLION dollars.

Now for the TRUTH.

I'm going to list below a summary of the make up of the Executive and Legislative branches for the past 30 years and also debt levels during that time. 

If you look closely and with an open mind (not locked into either Party) you will see that the growth of our National Debt has exploded without regard to which political party has been "in charge".

          President - Ronald Reagan (R)
          House - 192 (R) 243 (D)
          Senate - 53 (R) 46 (D) 1 (I)

          National Debt (9-30-1980) = 907.7 BILLION

       1982 (Mid term)
           President - Ronald Reagan (R)
           House - 166 (R) 269 (D)
           Senate - 54 (R) 46 (D)

           National Debt (9-30-1982) = 1.14 TRILLION

            President - Ronald Reagan (R)
            House - 182 (R) 253 (D)
            Senate - 53 (R) 47 (D)

            National Debt (9-30-1984) = 1.57 TRILLION

            President - Ronald Reagan (R)
                  House - 177 (R) 258 (D)
            Senate - 45 (R) 55 (D)

            National Debt (9-30-186) = 2.125 TRILLION

             President - George H.W. Bush (R)
             House - 175 (R) 260 (D)
             Senate - 45 (R) 55 (D)

             National Debt (9-30-1988) = 2.6 TRILLION

              President - George H.W. Bush (R)
              House - 167 (R) 267 (D)
              Senate - 44 (R) 56 (D)

              National Debt (9-30-1990) = 3.23 TRILLION

              President - Bill Clinton (D)
              House - 176 (R)  258 (D)
              Senate - 43 (R) 57 (D)

              National Debt (9-30-1992) = 4.06 TRILLION

               President - Bill Clinton (D)
               House - 230 (R) 204 (D) 1 (I)
               Senate - 52 (R) 48 (D)

               National Debt (9-30-1994) = 4.69 TRILLION

                President - Bill Clinton (D)
                House - 228 (R) 206 (D) 1 (I)
                Senate - 55 (R) 45 (D)
                National Debt - (9-30-1996) = 5.22 TRILLION

                President - Bill Clinton (D)
                House - 223 (R) 211 (D) 1 (I)
                Senate - 55 (R) 45 (D)

                National  Debt (9-30-1998) = 5.52 TRILLION

                 President - George W. Bush (R)
                 House - 221 (R) 212 (D) 2 (I)
                 Senate - 50 (R) 50 (D)
                 National Debt - (9-30-2000) = 5.67 TRILLION

                 President - George W. Bush (R)
                 House - 229 (R) 204 (D) 2 (I)
                 Senate - 51 (R) 48 (D) 1 (I)

                 National Debt (9-30-2002) = 6.22 TRILLION

                 President - George W. Bush (R)
                 House - 232 (R) 202 (D) 1 (I)
                 Senate - 55 (R) 44 (D) 1 (I)

                 National Debt (9-30-2004) = 7.38 TRILLION

                 President - George W. Bush (R)
                 House - 202 (R) 233 (D) 
                 Senate - 49 (R) 49 (D) 2 (I)

                 National Debt (9-30-2006) = 8.51 TRILLION
                 President - Barack Obama (D) 
                 House - 178 (R) 257 (D)
                 Senate - 41 (R) 57 (D) 2 (I)

                 National Debt (9-30-2008) =  10.0 TRILLION

                  President - Barack Obama (D)
                  House - 242 (R) 193 (D)
                  Senate - 47 (R) 51 (D) 2 (I)

                  National Debt (9-30-2010) = 13.56 TRILLION

Since 1980 (actually January of 1981) we have had a Republican President for 20 of the 30 years and a Democrat President for 10 of the 30 years. 

Since 1980 (actually January of 1981) the House of Representatives has shown the Republicans in the majority for 12 of the 30 years and the Democrats in the majority for 18 of the 30 years.

Since 1980 (actually January of 1981) the Senate has shown a Republican majority for 18 of the 30 years and the Democrats in the majority for 12 of the 30 years (for 2 years from 2006 to 2008 2 Independents in the Senate actually decided the majority).

So, what has all this information revealed? 

The National Debt has increased in this 30 year period from just over 900 BILLION to almost 14 TRILLION. This has happened NO MATTER which political Party has been in the White House or which Party has been in the majority in the House or Senate.

Spending is and always will be an ongoing part of our Government. Both parties always campaign with bold statements about controlling spending and reducing the debt and ALWAYS blame the "other side" for our fiscal woes. The fact is that BOTH sides have created our current crisis (is it really a crisis?). The Democrats through the years have endorsed numerous social programs and allowed far too many of these to become major additions to the growing debt. The Republicans have supported numerous military actions without regard to the costs (which have added a few trillion to the debt). The Republicans continue to endorse large subsidies for oil interests (billions of dollars) and continue to believe that taxes must be lowered in order to save the country. When estimated revenues are only 60% of estimated spending as they are for the current fiscal year, the bickering about 10 or 20 billion that is going on now is meaningless. Why? Because our annual deficits are between 1 and 2 TRILLION DOLLARS.

If there is not going to be a tax increase to bring revenues up to 3.5 Trillion and spending can't be reduced to 3.5 trillion we will never see a balanced budget. IF the Republicans believe that we can cut spending by more than ONE TRILLION DOLLARS without major cuts to Defense spending (which is about 25% of our total spending) they are not being honest and are just giving us political spin. IF the Democrats don't step up and demand cuts in military spending AND don't hold out for tax increases (that must happen) and the elimination of subsidies and tax credits (that add up to 10's of billions annually) and don't stop many assistance programs (that are being exploited by too many people) they are just giving us political spin.

The Blame Game will continue because neither side is willing to accept the fiscal facts and they will continue to be ruled by the money interests that in the end, get them elected. They are trapped so they must stand before us and lie. 

A note about the debt. More than half of the published National Debt is, in reality, owed to ourselves. Congress has "borrowed" about 3 TRILLION dollars from the once protected (but not since 1968) Social Security Trust Fund.  Individual States have "borrowed" hundreds of billions from the Federal Government and continue to do so. Will they pay these loans back and reduce the National Debt? 

Who is to blame? It's TIME TO THINK AGAIN!





Sunday, April 03, 2011

"United" No More

     235 years ago, the Declaration of Independence was sent to the King of England. It outlined a long series of grievances that the colonies believed were so oppressive that our only choice was to declare our independence as the united (small u) States of America and drew a line in the sand that resulted in 5 years of bloody war and an uncertain future when the fighting ended.
     During the course of the war for independence, the Continental Congress advised each of the colonies to draw up plans for State Government and by 1780 (4 years later) all 13 states had adopted written Constitutions. The Continental Congress of 1776 began to work on a plan for a central Government. The first "Constitution" for the United States was called the Articles of Confederation and were in effect between March 1, 1781 and March 4, 1789. The newly formed Republic (weak as it was) had an outline of government and there were 10 (yes 10) Presidents elected between 1781 and 1788. George Washington was not the first American President, although the first 10 were "Presidents" of a Congress without much federal authority. George Washington himself was very much in favor of a strong central Government. The system failed because the Articles gave little real authority to the federal government due to the fears of the individual States. The United States of America were far from united.
     By 1786 it was apparent that changes needed to be made to the Articles of Confederation and on September 17th, 1787 a convention of delegates convened in Philadelphia. They were authorized to amend the Articles but instead held secret meetings and over the course of 4 months came up with an entirely new Constitution. This process was a desperate attempt to save the United States from splitting apart due to the individual interests of the States. There was much debate but in the end compromises prevailed that created a strong central government with 3 distinct branches and overall authority over the States. The hope was that we could indeed function as the United States of America then and forever. However, many critical items were put off in order to insure ratification which later led to our most stunning example of the "un-uniting" of America in the form of the Civil War. The "war" between those for or opposed to the power of the federal Government has continued since. A note to all those "Constitution" folks who go around blasting the Federal Government it was though the efforts and beliefs of many of our "Founding Fathers" that our current system exists today. Read the document!
     The United States of America has faced many tests during her 235 years since first declaring her independence but I won't list them here. The "un-uniting" of America that has been taking place in earnest for the past 50 years is about to bring the United States of America to an end.
     This is not happening because of foreign invasion or ghostly terrorists or natural disaster but rather because Americans themselves have determined that their fellow citizens are the real enemy and both sides of the political aisle have grown so far apart and have become so filled with hate for each other that any hope of maintaining the United States of America is all but lost. There is virtually no subject that isn't contested along political lines. If one side is for something the other side must be against it regardless of the merits or dangers involved.

     We have been and are a warring nation. At times of our own choosing and at times due to world events but the end result is that the "Military Industrial Complex" is in full control of the game and the enormous amounts of money involved. "We the People" continue to be sacrificed for this agenda and wear the flag of death proudly as patriots. Along the way, we are the largest seller of arms in the world as we have created defense and weapons facilities throughout the country to provide jobs and economic dependency on the system. Our politicians have been bought and paid for by this powerful group and as long as fear and threats (real or perceived) keep streaming across our media outlets, we will continue to allow this policy.
     Many of our citizens claim that America is, at her core, a Christian nation. Really? Our Constitution certainly wasn't written to reveal that idea. The continuous display of intolerance and prejudice by so many of these "Godly" citizens make a mockery of the biblical teachings of Jesus. Religion too, has become nothing more than a business and a political tool for spreading hatred and of course provide the money. Go to your Church or Temple or Mosque this week and search your heart and mind to decide if all the hate is truly "God's will". Then ask for forgiveness for your lack of compassion to your fellow humans.
     Our political bickering has turned Americans against each other in an ugly and shameful way and those feelings continue to become more hostile with each passing year. At this pace, we will commence a second civil war within the next decade or so. It has never been difficult for we Americans to start shooting and who better to attack than our neighbors, right? After all, anyone who has a different political view, or is a different "color" or religion or is too heavy or too thin, doesn't deserve to live in your America. you know, the America that used to known as the "Land of the Free". A closer look at our history reveals a long pattern of attacking and shunning anyone that didn't fit a certain profile so what we see today is actually nothing new.
     The fact is that we haven't been "united" for a very long time (if ever) and the prospects that we ever will be are slim at best. The choice is ours. It always has been. The quest for power and control has so corrupted our sense of nationalism and humanity that contrary to all logic, we seem willing to allow this nation to sink into the chaos that is infecting so much of the world now.
     Special interests of the Military Industrial Complex, Religious groups, the medical and drug industry and of course the media and its pundits relentless tactic of keeping everyone in battle mode, combined with the money at stake threaten the very union that so much blood has been shed for during past generations. A main problem is that both sides of the political aisle "talk" of having the best interests of the United States of America as their platform while refusing to "act" (in any manner) to secure those interests. Everything comes down to opinion and compromise is not an option. In the end, unless we find a way to stop the mindless bickering, America will become a tragic footnote in the history of failed nations. Of course, America may very well become a nation completely controlled by corporations (we're on that road now) and then the pretense of liberty and freedom will be lost as well. Based on current observations it appears that not enough of our citizens are willing to work together to unite their country.