Friday, January 19, 2018
Saturday, January 13, 2018
"All of the important activities in this land have been converted into odious rackets" Article #1 = Government
Is the USA any more corrupt than it has been historically? If you look back at the late 1800's, the big railroads, Tammany Hall, etc. you might legitimately question Kunstler's view. But the country is certainly trending to become more and more corrupt. Historically the powers of the various levels of government were limited and the average citizen had limited contact and interaction with government. Nowadays, however, all that has changed. Why?
The changing concept of government is one big reason, and the one I will cover here today. The Founding Fathers rightly feared power and did their best to fragment government so that no level of government, nor part of government, could gain too much power. "Checks and Balances" were their watchwords. Each level of government had its responsibilities and limits, as did the various branches of government. They were helped in that by the difficulties and slow speed of transportation and communications in that day. It would have been totally unfeasible for the Federal Government to try to regulate local schools or roads. Today that limitation has evaporated.
Now all that has changed. Lower levels of government have consistently passed the buck for the expense of services up to the next higher level of government, so that today people seem to expect the Federal Government to fund everything from local schools to roads, welfare, disaster assistance, etc. all of which were once the province of individuals or local government. There are of course problems with this:
1. With money comes control. People have ceded control of their own lives to government in return for money. Governments have ceded their rightful powers to the higher levels of government in return for money. The Federal Government, far from being very limited as was originally intended, now controls almost everyone and everything.
2. There is a limited amount of money available, and it all comes from the same place - the taxpayer. The more levels of government it passes through, the more is siphoned off by various politicians and bureaucrats. If the Federal and State governments didn't take so much of your money in taxes, the local government would have more to spend on the same things and local people would have more control over how much was spent and how it was used.
3. There are only two "advantages" to having the Federal Government fund everything instead of State and Local Governments. One is that it can redistribute money from high income areas to low income areas and even things out. This sounds good, but seldom works out or really changes much in practice. The other is that the Federal Government doesn't have to run a balanced budget and is free to create as much money out of nothing and borrow as much as it wants. This makes it seem like a sugar daddy with a bottomless wallet to most people, but it is extremely destructive to the currency and to the country.
The Federal Government is taking in record revenues and still spending far more than it makes in so-called boom times. According to J. M. Keynes (always invoked in bad times but ignored in good), the Government should have raised taxes, cut spending, and paid down its debt to be prepared for the next collapse. The last time that happened was when Harding and Coolidge were presidents! Which pay-down enabled FDR to do what he had to in the Great Depression. What is going to happen in the next collapse?
With money and control comes power, and as Lord Acton said: "All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely". The absolute corruption in Washington, D.C. is symptomatic of the absolute power that has concentrated there in the 20th and 21st centuries. Can it be reversed? I really doubt it. The corruption of the 19th and early 20th centuries was reversed by muckraking journalism and a nominally Republican but independent President (T. Roosevelt - who was willing to take on big business). Today's "journalists" are corporate hacks and corrupt propagandists themselves and refuse to question their own ideologies or the official line given out by government. They neither question what they are told, nor independently investigate with an open mind. (If they had, the Russian story would have died in weeks instead of monopolizing the news a year later). Our present "nominally Republican but independent president" is certainly no Roosevelt. Our legislators are only interested in getting re-elected and staying on the gravy train. They are totally unwilling to investigate and take on the "Deep State" of oligarchs and intelligence agencies, but in fact repeatedly vote to increase their power and influence.
Next time: Article #2: Corporations and Big Business.
Friday, January 12, 2018
Sunday, January 07, 2018
Tuesday, January 02, 2018
I spent much of the day getting the furnace running right - it was sputtering right after starting like it was sucking air. The water trap out at the tank had ice in it and the oil was gelling a bit. Cleaned that out and changed the filter indoors and it seems to be running well. Then I took the feed/blower motor off the coal stove and lubed it and made some adjustments to cut the noise. It has a worn bearing but should survive this winter. I want the backup in case the oil burner goes down or the power goes out. Our generator will run the coal stove but not the furnace. When oil prices dropped we stopped using it regularly, only in really cold spells.
Monday, January 01, 2018
My happiest thought was that I was glad I was not standing in Times Square in these temperatures!
The Jeep barely started when we left for home, and we were just starting to get heat when we arrived. The 15-40 diesel oil I am running in it to keep the oil pressure up really doesn't help in these temperatures!
It was -10 F this morning when I got up and fed the cat, and -6 when we finally pried ourselves out of bed at 9 am. It is now 11:30 and I still haven't done anything (except surf the web and write this) or set foot outside.
Sunday, December 31, 2017
Looking back at some of the predictions for 2017, it seems rather obvious that predicting the future should be done with extreme care, if at all! Donald Trump did not resign in 2017. The economy did not fall into recession in 2017. Queen Elizabeth did not die. Donald Trump did not become friends with Kim Jong Un. 2017 did not become the hottest year on record, but finished up with a cold snap unseen in many years.
Seems most predictions of the future are about as productive as New Year's Resolutions! My resolution this year is not to make any resolutions for 2018! 😄