About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

The Progressives' Rejection Of The Constitution & The Personal Responsibility Of Freedom

"A republic, madam, if you can keep it" was Benjamin Franklin's reply to Elizabeth Powell's question @ the end of the Constitutional Convention about what sort of government the delegates of the Convention had created on September 17, 1787 - 235 years ago this month.


Our Founders were very well read & learned.  They studied the many @ one time thriving civilizations that ended in tyranny - civilizations based in Athens, Rome, Constantinople, Florence, Amsterdam, Madrid, & London as examples.  In forming a new government they obviously knew they did not want a monarchy.  Democracies came with the threat of tyranny of the majority, mob rule, & emotional factions that worked against reasoned solutions to problems.  Plato taught that tyranny arises, as a rule, from democracy.   

The Founders knew that a democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship. 

The Founders gave us a constitutional Republic specifically designed to avoid as much as possible the above problems with direct democracies.

The word constitution comes from a Latin word that means "stand on this firmly in place."  The Founders thought of the Constitution & the Declaration of Independence as the documents that represent the bedrock foundation of the principles of which we live - limited government, personal responsibility, & free enterprise.  

The Founders' idea was to have a government limited in purpose to securing individual rights.  Ayn Rand believed the only proper, moral purpose of government is to protect man's rights to his own life, his own liberty, & his property while protecting him from physical violence.  Miss Rand taught that the indispensable foundation of a free society is individual rights & that free enterprise capitalism is the only system that can uphold & protect individual rights. 

These founding principles are what produced the strongest, richest, most prosperous country in human history, where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. Everyone born in America should be thankful.  America is one of God's two great gifts to the world.

The Founders placed the power of the people superior to any power of the new government they created under the Constitution.  This gave every person the freedom & incentive to maximize their human experience.  Accordingly, it is the free enterprise capitalistic system from which the nation's unsurpassed wealth & standard of living are derived.

But as early as 1860 the teachings of Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, coauthors of the Communist Manifesto, were spreading throughout Germany & it wasn't long after that that these teachings were imported to America, by those who studied in Germany, with the seeds of Progressive theories to reject the principles of the Declaration of Independence & the Constitution.  Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore was founded in 1876 to bring the German progressive educational model to the United States.

Progressivism is defined as a philosophical movement intent on "progressing" or moving beyond the principles and practices of the American Founding.  Progressives do not believe that natural individual rights exist.  The core Progressive doctrine of "historical contingency" means that there are no permanent or immutable principles; rather, truth is dependent upon the particular circumstances of history.  Under Progressivism each generation should define terms such as liberty, rights, & equality for itself, rather than referring to the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution.

Progressives believe in an administrative state where scientists or other experts, working in government bureaucracies, would better be able than the individual to solve society's problems.  This Progressive idea is far different from that of the Founders where the new government's foundation was the sovereignty of the people & the personal responsibility that went with that freedom.  Today so many aspects of our lives are controlled by the administrative state's regulatory agencies - the IRS, EPA, CDC, FDA, NLRB, SSA, CMS, VA, CFPB, FDIC, DEA, OSHA, SEC, SIPC, ATF&E, & CBP to name just a few of the hundreds of executive agencies & independent agencies that people come in contact with every day.

The greatest danger to our freedom with these agencies is that they each exercise their own legislative, executive, & judicial power - they write the rules, enforce them, & then decide if someone or some business has not complied with them.  It is the separation of these powers, as opposed to the accumulation of them in any one institution, that is the single greatest structural protection of liberty in the Constitution.

The following table describes the five pillars of the administrative state, in effect the fourth branch of government, that has come to distance people from their elected representatives.

  Click on table to enlarge

Progressives argue that the unelected administrative state should not be modified &/or otherwise affected by elections & politics.  Rather the president should be able to mold, shape, & transform his office & his power however he sees fit, without any meaningful constitutional limitations while using the administrative state to solve the problems of the day.  This thinking has produced an entrenched deep state known as the Swamp to people outside of Washington.  

Progressives think that having scientific experts make decisions will produce a better way of life because these scientists will act impartially on everyone's behalf "based on the science," a term Anthony Fauci has overused to the point that people have become sick of it.  In practice we have found that these scientists are bureaucrats with their own human tendencies & biases first & altruistic scientists second.  This leads to many impractical rules for people to deal with far from touch with their elected representatives, i.e., the administrative state rules in the Progressive world.

Administrative government contradicts the Constitution because it takes sovereignty away from the people, it rejects the idea of limited government, & it ignores the doctrine of separation of powers.  Progressives reject the idea of a government limited in purpose to securing individual rights.  Progressives understand the word "equality" to mean that all human beings have the right to possess economic & material equality whereas the Founders thought of equality as every human being's possession of equivalent natural individual rights.

Progressives have come to substitute the word "equity" for "equality" as if the two are identical - they are not.  Progressives' idea is that there are systemic inequalities in the world & that social equity is achieved when everyone under whatever circumstance they find themselves is given whatever they need to reach an equal outcome with anyone else.  In short, a tilted playing field.  The Founders argued that government exists to protect man's natural equality and natural rights. The Progressives countered that government exists to achieve equality for individuals, particularly economically like the student loan forgiveness program that transfers the student's debt from people who incurred it to those who don't owe it. 

The president most successful in institutionalizing a Progressive administrative state was Franklin D. Roosevelt.  FDR was a true Progressive in every way with his New Deal program.  He argued that the Constitution must be adapted to the demands of historical progress, as American progressivism has no legitimate limit in law or in the Constitution itself.  FDR believed that to be truly enlightened & just, government must progress towards social justice.   According to FDR, property rights, described by the Founders as fundamental natural rights, must yield to the demands of social justice.  FDR wrote what he called a "second Bill of Rights" in which he identified the right to a useful & remunerative job, the right of every family to a decent home, & the right to adequate healthcare.  Biden has positioned himself as a modern day FDR - & just look @ Biden's programs to see why.

Less than twenty years after FDR's death, LBJ's Great Society programs continued the earlier Progressive programs of the New Deal.  LBJ understood civil rights to be the most important foundation of the Great Society.  Under LBJ affirmative action sought to achieve equal results, in addition to equal opportunities.  In his acceptance speech for the 1964 Democrat Party nomination for president, LBJ declared a "war against poverty."  The three pillars of LBJ's Great Society were civil rights, education, & the war on poverty - they did not include churches.  In contrast to the American Founders' view of the human condition, LBJ believed that the demands of necessity could be alleviated by government programs.  In essence we were on our way to making government the religion of the United States - i.e., who people looked to for help in times of trouble.  

The Cato Institute has calculated that government efforts to fight poverty have cost more than $23 trillion as of January, 2019 & that there are more than 100 separate anti-poverty programs.  Look around you to determine for yourself whether this Progressive initiative of government dependence has been worth it.  With regard to education the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the "Nation's Report Card" just reported the worst drop in both math & reading scores for nine year olds in decades - blamed on the Progressives (CDC) shutting down the country because of the pandemic caused by the Wuhan coronavirus.

Starting around 1965 a significant change occurred in the Progressives - they moved even further into government worship & began an outright hatred of America - its successful people & its founding principles & documents.  This change coincided with the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act that privileged non-western immigration.  The Founders thought the most important consideration in formulating immigration policy was not race, but rather character & that our foreign policy should be principally concerned with securing the natural rights of Americans. 

America's Founders and pre-1965 Progressives held similar views on the family.  Early Progressive presidents defended America in two World Wars, but they had a different vision of America than the Founders & didn't want to take the time to amend the Constitution to enact that vision, which was their responsibility based on the oaths they took.  Post-1965 Progressives, though still relying on the administrative state to execute programs, abandoned their belief regarding the importance of a traditional family in a stable society as well as their loyalty to the country, like in fighting a world war let alone trying to win it like Wilson, FDR, & Harry Truman did & focused instead on 1) imposing the moral superiority of victim classes defined in terms of sex & race - i.e., special advantages to minorities & women like Title IX, a federal provision that forbids discrimination on the basis of gender in higher education, 2) adopting through government policies the promotion of sex outside the family such as providing free contraceptions for unmarried women & having abortion recognized as a fundamental right - these Progressives thought that the most important aspect of freedom is sexual self-expression, & 3) embracing an anti-humanlife biocentric environmentalism that treats subhuman life as more worthy of protection than human life & prosperity.  A vivid example of this  - thousands of agricultural jobs were lost in California in 2007 when farms in certain areas were deprived of irrigation water for the sake of improving the water for the delta smelt, a subspecies of smelt fish.  

But the biggest point of contention is that Progressives envision a "living, breathing Constitution" that quickly changes to fit circumstances.  Under this arrangement the president would mold, shape, & transform his office & his power however he sees fit, without any meaningful constitutional limitations while using the administrative state to solve the problems of the day.  Under their plan, as temporary politicians came & went, there would be no mooring buoy to anchor thought & action to a consistent purpose for the country like the Constitution provides.  Temporary politicians would merely move on to solve the next problem of the day meaning they started work on the next problem with no set of principles for where the country should go to stay on course.  A terrible concept in contract law let alone governing a nation.  To govern with the most harmony you need a system that favors a people's reason over their passion of the moment.  The country would be run by experts & administrative decree rather than by the rule of law with the Constitution being the fundamental law.  This is not "living or breathing" but no constitution @ all.  It is a formula for despotism with a ruling class defined by Dr. John Grant of Hillsdale College as "the complex of government, the mainstream media, most of the academy, much of our senior military class and industrial and public sector unions that are tied to government power."  

Notice Congress is not mentioned as part of the ruling class - your elected representatives primary function would be to provide constituent services like helping someone with a Medicare billing problem. 

Of course Progressives prefer the idea of a living breathing Constitution that they can change @ a moment's notice because the Constitution is the law that governs those who govern us.  Temporary politicians should not be able to change the meaning of the law that governs them without going through the Amendment process any more than you & I can change the laws that they make that govern us without going through the legislative process.

Now the entire Progressive movement to transform America is centered around the Marxist idea of class struggle occurring repeatedly throughout human history - in Marx's case it was the proletariat or working class versus the bourgeoisie or middle class or capitalists

In Mark Levin's book American Marxism Mark points out that the Marxists working day & night to tear down our country call themselves "progressives, Democratic Socialists, social activists, (&) community activists," & "operate under myriad newly minted organizational or identifying nomenclatures, such as Black Lives Matter (BLM), Antifa, (&) the Squad."  I add the 1619 Project, the Green New Deal, #metoo, defund the police, & trans women are women.  These points combine to form the genesis of the soft on crime movement of George Soros funded Progressive Democrat District Attorneys who select which laws they follow thereby letting criminals lose within hours of arrest to terrorise communinities all over again.  All of the Critical Theories (race, sexism, Latino) are based on Marxism.

And all of the above is a subset of the ancient & ultimate destructive message of human nature, known as Death Of Democracy, where democratic societies all travel the same path through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage.

The Progressives' hatred for America starts with Critical Race Theory (CRT) where literally any event is viewed to the point of absurdity as America being a systemic racist country with Blacks struggling with white supremacists, yet ignores that slavery had been the norm since the beginning of  civilization & that there are still an estimated 21 million to 45 million people trapped in some form of slavery, or human trafficing, today.  If Progressives' problem really is slavery there are countless ways to help in India, China, Pakistan, North Korea, Nigeria, Iran, Indonesia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Russia, & the Philippines.  But no, the idea is to tear America down not help eliminate slavery in the world.

Progressives also like to portray Latinos (Hispanics) as oppressed & exploited people in America - hence "Latina/o Critical Race Theory" (LatCrit).  This view overlooks that the Portuguese & Spanish were the earliest transatlantic slave traders.  The Spanish conquistadors (conquerors) were rough & violent people in Hispaniola, other Caribbean islands, & on the mainland taking from the Indians, who when resisting, & even when they did not, were attacked & slaughtered.  But this is never mentioned by Progressives.

And of course Progressives never saw a native American Indian that they did not pity for being peaceful people who were mistreated.  This overlooks that the five major Native American Indian nations, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, & Seminole all owned Black slaves & the Comanches (of northwestern Texas, eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma, & northern Chihuahua) took captives from other tribes during warfare, used then as slaves, &/or later sold them to Spanish or Mexican settlers.  There were also several tribes in Canada & South America that were fierce warriors & slave traders - the population of some Pacific Northwest tribes were as much as a quarter enslaved.  But these facts are not convenient for Progressives to present in tearing down America.

Such is the way of the world from the beginning of humankind that Progressives selectively overlook to feed their intention of convincing people that America is a rotten place, whereas in truth the United States was the first moral society in history - no other form of government, nation, or society had provided Black slaves freedom in a world where slavery was the norm everywhere for over 6,000 years of human existence.

A subscriber wrote to me that his college history professor said "Judge history on its own terms, not by today's standards."  Following this advice from a real historian eliminates all of our manufactured problems described hereinabove.

This post shows the Progressive slide over the past 100+ years away from our founding principles & leaves little to the imagination where Biden/Harris/Pelosi/Schumer et al., intend to take the country if they remain in power.

But we can fight back this November.  The Progressive DAs soft on crime invitation to hardened criminals to rob, loot, or assault @ will for no apparent reason can be stopped by electing pro-law enforcement leaders.  For instance, Lee Zeldin has promised that if he is elected governor of NY he will fire Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg on day 1 whereas his opponent, incumbent governor Kathy Hochul, has not removed Bragg after almost a year of having that power preferring to keep her "woke" image with AOC & other Progressives.  A real clear choice if this is important to NY voters that also benefits the city's tourists & commuters.  There are many such races on ballots across the country.

Progressives are making the best argument they can make for transforming America so it is up to each of us to know if it's true that a great choice is pending with the November midterms in what could be a once & for all matter.  But to make that choice you need to think & you need to know.  We owe it to our country & to our families, friends, & really to ourselves to spend some time learning the terms of this debate so that we will make a good choice regarding our 235 year old constitutional republic - to see if we can keep it.


Much of the history of the Progressive movement & the proposed solution regarding the choice to be made in the midterms in this post is based on the Hillsdale College online course entitled Constitution 201: The Progressives Rejection of the Founding & the Rise of Bureaucratic Despotism.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Inflation Reduction Act Addresses The Green New Deal Not The Real Time Sensitive Issues - Social Security & Medicare

"It seems the only thing we can do on a bipartisan basis is spend more money than we have." - Former Senator Jeff Flake (R, AZ)

Click on graphic to enlarge

This post is written to answer what I had hoped would be the fifth question asked to Biden & Trump during the 2020 presidential debates - do you support the "cut, cap, & balance" plan to control federal spending so that projected borrowing is cut in half next year (not ten years from now), spending would be capped @ 18% of GDP (it was 21% before the pandemic), & the president would be required, under a balanced budget amendment, to submit a balanced budget within the foregoing guidelines that call for super congressional majorities to raise future debt limits or tax rates?

Based on their records it is obvious that neither Trump nor Biden would support such a measure.  On March 23, 2018, swearing he would never sign such a bill again, Trump signed a 2,232 page, $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that kept the government open until September 30, 2018 - only to sign an even larger omnibus of $1.4 trillion in December, 2020.  In between, for the fiscal 2019 cycle Trump signed three separate spending packages centered around a 35-day partial government shutdown.

Regarding the March 2018 omnibus Trump had said ""I say to Congress: I will never sign another bill like this again. I'm not going to do it again. Nobody read it. It's only hours old. Some people don't even know what is in — $1.3 trillion — it's the second-largest ever."  This turned out to be only so much bluster as Trump signed them all.

In March 2020 Trump signed the $2.2 trillion CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security Act) that included direct cash payments to households ($1,200 per adult plus $500 per qualifying child under 17), an additional $600 per week in unemployment compensation through July, bailouts for airlines & other businesses, & loans & grants to small businesses.  By the time CARES was done $2.7 trillion had been added to the national debt.  

Then during the week of December 21, 2020 the fourth, & first since March, Covid relief bill (The Coronavirus Response & Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act) for $900 billion & the aforementioned $1.4 trillion omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2021 were both signed into law by Trump.  The Covid relief bill included direct cash payments in the form of income tax rebates of $600 per adult plus $600 per child; an increase of $300 per week in federal unemployment compensation; an allowance for employers to voluntarily provide paid leave through March 31, 2021 thereby receiving a payroll tax credit; an extension of the federal eviction moratorium through January 31, 2021 including $25 billion in emergency rental assistance to help renters impacted by Covid-19 to pay for past due rent, future due rent, & utility bills to prevent power shutoffs; a 15% increase to SNAP (food stamps) benefits through June 30, 2021 estimated to be an extra $25 to $30 a month for everyone enrolled in the program; $69 billion for Covid-19 vaccines, testing, & tracing; $3.2 billion to expand broadband access to low-income families; & $100 million for the Administration for Community Living to address abuse, neglect, & exploitation of the elderly.

On Thursday March 11, 2021 Biden took the spending baton & made his first presidential prime time TV address to mark the one year anniversary of the Covid-19 pandemic in America.  The address also coincided with his signing into law the same day of the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill known as the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Almost half of this gigantic stimulus spending went directly to the well publicized $1,400 per person direct deposits or checks ($8,400 for a family of two adults & four small children), $1,300 per child expanded child tax credits ($5,200 for this same family), bigger food-stamp payments, & $300 per week federal enhanced unemployment benefits in addition to regular state unemployment benefits.  And $350 billion payments were made to states - the majority of which went to Democrat states that have been financially irresponsible for decades meaning that states like Tennessee, Florida, Texas, & Georgia bailed out New York, New Jersey, Illinois, & California.  For instance, New York received more money from the bill than Florida despite New York having a smaller population than Florida - one of the consequences of the November, 2020 election. 

The ARPA also provided 14 weeks of paid sick, family, & medical leave through September, 2021, while reimbursing local governments for the cost of this leave, provided an additional $25 billion for rental relief & $5 billion to cover home energy & water costs for low income people, extended the federal eviction moratorium through September & allowed people with federally guaranteed mortgages to apply for forbearance until September, provided $40 billion to ensure childcare providers can remain open & expanded the childcare tax credit, provided an additional $15 billion to the Paycheck Protection Program in flexible, equitably distributed grants to small businesses to help them reopen & rebuild, & provided $20 billion to support public transit agencies to ensure that workers keep their jobs & routes are not cut from service.

Under Biden's direction Congress also passed a $1.2 trillion Infrastructure bill (Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act).  But thanks to Democrat Senators Joe Manchin (WV) & Kristen Sinema (AZ) the much larger $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill (which originally included the infrastructure bill) failed - only to reappear earlier this month as a smaller $739 billion (new taxes & savings) dishonestly misnamed Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA).

Breaking out the cost of the Covid stimulus the past two years:  $3.6 trillion under Trump & $1.9 trillion under Biden.  They're both lucky I'm answering the "cut, cap, & balance" question instead of the one about each of them pointing out where the other did not follow the Constitution.

The above graphic has been around since 2007 & its accuracy in depicting the target date when entitlement & net interest spending will exceed government revenue far exceeds the accuracy of AOC saying the world will end in 12 years (now 8.5 years) if climate change is not addressed no matter the cost, yet the IRA does not address the spending excesses but does include a substantial portion of its $433 billion in new spending & tax breaks to address climate change by making a down payment that funds portions of the Green New Deal.  

The negative impact on the country of the economic forecast on the above graph is as plain as the nose on your face while the benefits of spending trillions of dollars on the Green New Deal are suspect.  For instance, the Rhodium Group determined that the IRA's investments in wind, solar, & battery developments coupled with subsidies for certain windows, heat pumps, & other energy efficient products & extending the $7,500 tax credit to buy electric vehicles could help cut greenhouse emissions 31% to 44% below 2005 levels in 2030 in the U.S., compared with 24% to 35% under current policy.  Notice the overlap in these ranges - the same result could be obtained by doing nothing.  Also, world-renowned climate scientist Bjorn Lomborg, using the U.N. climate model & the Rhodium Group's estimate for CO2 emissions reductions, found the IRA will reduce the global temperature rise by 0.028 degrees Fahrenheit in the optimistic case by the year 2100 & 0.0009 degrees Fahrenheit in the pessimistic case.  

In the Green New Deal we're paying a lot of attention & money to something that may not amount to much, especially when China, India, & Africa aren't cooperating & China is even building an estimated 35 to 40 new coal plants.

The IRA focuses on climate, tax, healthcare, & IRS enforcement provisions including most of its $434 billion of new spending over ten years for energy & climate, a 15% minimum tax rate for most large businesses (i.e., a corporate Alternative Minimum Tax where corporations pay 21% of taxable income or 15% of the income reported on financial documents, whichever is more), $64 billion to extend ObamaCare subsidies, $99 billion Medicare drug negotiation savings (i,e,. price controls), & $80 billion to increase the IRS budget which is listed in the bill as a $124 billion net savings anticipating $204 billion in additional revenue from increased IRS audits facilitated by hiring new agents.  

The IRA creates a total of $739 billion in new taxes & savings leaving $305 billion ($739 billion - 434 billion) over ten years for deficit reduction, almost all of which takes place from 2027 to 2031 - but who could believe that if this plan went exactly as drawn up that any politician other than those with a Liberty Score of "A" would think the best use of this $305 billion would be to retire treasury debt?  It is much more likely that the $305 billion will be spent on some aspect of the Green New Deal.

Now Professor Friedman taught that the real enemy in all or any of the government budget battles is not the deficit but rather spending.  The great libertarian professor would rather have a budget of $1 trillion with a $500 billion deficit than a budget of $2 trillion with no deficit.  He taught that the burden borne by the American economy is measured by what the government spends & disposes of, not by whether it calls its receipts "taxes" or "proceeds from bonds."  Accordingly, the real issue is not how you pay for government spending - debt or taxes - but the spending itself.  In short: don't just look @ the deficit, look @ why we have a deficit.  And the reason we have a deficit is pretty simple: the government spends too much. 

The following graph illustrates this point.  

 Click on image to enlarge.

Both spending & revenue are projected to grow faster than the economy but spending is growing @ a much faster pace - look @ the slope of the two lines for the out years.  The red line is @ a 45 degree angle.

The "cut, cap, & balance" plan meets Professor Friedman's test & addresses the real budget problem by holding down spending as a fraction of  national income.

What we are currently doing under Biden is proceeding with spending on the Green New Deal supposedly because of the 8.5 year emergency time frame AOC has declared remaining for life on Earth.  With a higher degree of confidence than that of AOC's declaration the Medicare Trustees' 2022 report determined the Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund will be able to pay scheduled benefits until 2028, afterwhich "the fund's reserves will become depleted & continuing total income will be sufficient to pay 90% of total scheduled benefits" & as early as 2000 the Social Security Trustees have warned of about a 25% reduction in Social Security benefits starting around 2034.  Yet the nation proceeds with spending on the Green New Deal while never mentioning the ever approaching economic shortfalls of Social Security & Medicare.  

Not that Trump or Biden would have told us during the debate, if asked, but "cut, cap, & balance" would fit right in complementing my answers to the first four debate questions that respectively pertained to the significance of the national debt, a redistribution of 74% of income levied on people in the top two income quintiles being needed to bring every family in America to average, changing the Social Security benefit formula so that the initial benefit is based on CPI inflation rather than the growth of average real wages, & a premium support system unindexed to inflation to replace traditional Medicare.  It is important to understand the answers to these five questions before going on to the next nine questions, all fourteen of which were written for the American people, not two politicians.

But instead of "cutting, caping, & balancing" Biden has been getting us in deeper since the very start of his presidency.  The IRA is just the latest assault on our freedom. 

Early in BO's administration Ann Coulter recommended the elimination of the Departments of Health & Human Services, Education, Commerce, Agriculture, HUD, Transportation, the EPA, the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, & the progressive income tax & instituting a flat tax.  At the time, I seconded Ann's recommendations except I recommended eliminating the progressive income tax & replacing it with the FairTax.

A mindset change in America, away from Biden's irresponsible government dependence mentality, more in line with Ann Coulter's above list along with "cut, cap, & balance" principles, basing Social Security's initial benefit on the CPI rather than the wage index, & implementing a premium support system for Medicare are needed for the return to excellence this blog is all about.  Doing so reduces both the significance of the national debt & the claim the government makes on earned income.

Stuart L. Meyer typifies the thinking I am talking about when he wrote in the WSJ that the hiring of 87,000 new IRS agents under the IRA should not only be economically justified by how much more money these agents will raise above their cost but also justified by including "all the opportunity cost of the expenditure of nonproductive effort."

In short:  economists asking "is this the best use of these people?"

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Pandemic Quiz

I was surprised how many people got the right answer to the DJIA quiz back in January.  One such surprise person, in the unlikely camp, told me "even though I am not good at math per se, due to my profession (real estate investing) I do understand finance math and the time value of money.  I even teach financial calculator and 'Time Value of Money" classes from time to time."

So let's up the ante.

Due to the pandemic many government & private company reports can show distorted year over year results when comparing a pandemic locked-down year like 2020 to a pre-pandemic year.  For instance a company's earnings report could look disastrous comparing 2020 results to those of 2019.  Both government & private companies solved this problem by comparing 2021 results to those of 2019 - i.e., comparison of two years ago rather than one.  See graph below that shows a smooth curve for "To two years prior" for the entire time frame shown & a similar curve for "To one year prior" except for the spike when comparing the results of 2020 to 2019.

  Click on graphic to enlarge

A second tactic involved taking data from 18 months or longer & displaying the data on an annual basis.

Our quiz involves a problem based on the second approach.

Pandemic Quiz

Due to the pandemic a certain index could not be determined at all after December, 2019 until the close of March, 2022.  The index had a reading of 10,000 on December 31, 2019 & 16,809 on March 31, 2022.  The institution responsible for the index likes to post the percent change of the index every January that represents the change for the past year determined from the end of December values of the index for the respective years.  The index follows the compound-interest law.  Based on the two index readings given above, what is the value of the index on December 31, 2020 & the percent change of the index from December 31, 2019?