Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Political Money for Dummies: Money *ISN'T* the root of all evil…

Money is NOT evil. Having money is not evil. So, where does that old saying come from?

It actually comes from the Bible. And as with most old sayings... it has been twisted out of it's original context. Jesus was a big teacher of social activism. He had already been called out about taxes and Ceasar, about paying Ceasar what he was due... And Jesus had already run the money-changers and over-chargers out of the Jewish Temple. So, when this comes up in the book of Timothy, well... it's not surprising that his followers and the first generation church would have things to say on money. It should be a well known quote. It should have preserved itself throughout time. We as Christians should have disabused ourselves of any doubt about its intent and the intent that Jesus put behind it...but, as with most Christians and Conservatives and Democrats and Liberals… not a one of them actually know the quote or the scripture in its accuracy, context, or intent.
1 Timothy 6:10: “For the LOVE of money is the root of all evil…
See, LOVE is the root of all evil! Ha, just kidding. Loving money is, though. Loving money, power, and the access it brings MORE than your God, and your fellow man is the root of all evil. Those things cause more problems on this little ole rock called Earth than any other thing. Well, maybe than besides sex. And I bet it gives sex a good run for its money. Money isn’t evil… Money is a tool, like a shovel, or a calculator. It’s neuter. It’s benign. It doesn’t care one way or the other how it is spent. It’s the owner of that money and the transfer of goods and services that taint the cash. Not the other way around. NOT controlling your money is evil. Letting crooked politicians take your money is evil. Letting others control your money and the good  and outcomes it could provide are evil. And ultimately, not educating yourself and those that need your wisdom about finances, is evil.
#DailyProverbs 10:2: Wealth you get by dishonesty will do you no good, but honesty can save your life.
Per usual, I am watching too much news, and drinking too much coffee. And, thankfully, I am continuing my yearlong journey in reading and meditating on Proverbs every day. Today’s kind of hit home in a way that was both relevant in our current world, but in my own internal struggles with finance and politics. Proverbs 10:2, coupled with other Bible readings and the daily onslaught of political advertisements, campaigns, and sensationalized “news” about candidates have made my mood less than pleasant.

Just look at the world at large today. I’m serious. We have a nation that is still at “war” 11 years later. I did a bit of research and we are not at “war,” currently. Don’t believe me? Google it. It’s true. But, we are in several “conflicts” and we are spending an EXORBITANT amount of money to maintain infrastructure and peace in those areas of “conflict.”

We are nearly 16 TRILLION dollars in debt. Almost… Now just let that settle in for a moment as you breathe. Take a deep, deep breath, and then slowly let it out. Okay... keep reading. As of today, July 10, 2012 we are officially $15,879,528,608,975.11 in debt to various entities. The single majority hold of that is China… as in China, the country with whom we already have precarious and tentative State relationships. That really scares me. Not just the money, or owing a debt to countries with which we don’t share similar goals and ideals. All of it. All of it scares me - and I am not cheap or a spendthrift. I am not of the typical GOP or Tea Party mindset that we need super small government, little to no regulatory statutes and that we have no rhyme or reason to borrow, BUT – we are spending a lot on defense, and not on our own infrastructure and economy. We are helping other nations and not ourselves. But, overall… I’m not okay with that. I’m not okay with that at all.

I don’t mean to sound condescending, but you, Reader, understand the difference between a deficit and a debt, right? Try this: Suppose you spend more money this month than your income. This situation is called a "budgetary deficit". So you borrow (ie; use your credit card). The amount you borrowed (and now owe) is called your debt. You have to pay interest on your debt. If next month you spend more than your income, another deficit, you must borrow some more, and you'll still have to pay the interest on your debt (now larger). If you have a deficit every month, you keep borrowing and your debt grows. Soon the interest payment on your loan is bigger than any other item in your budget. Eventually, all you can do is pay the interest payment, and you don't have any money left over for anything else.

So, if we as a nation continue to live above our means, and continue to “borrow money” to pay our bills, we will never learn to economize, live on a budget, and eventually do better for ourselves. We will never truly “reduce the deficit” and we will continue to increase our DEBT. "Reducing the deficit" is a meaningless soundbite. It may as well be a bumper sticker or some line item on a pundit news show. If the DEFICIT is any amount more than ZERO, we have to borrow more and the DEBT grows. What in the hell do we even spend TRILLIONS on? Besides defense, military operations, homeland infrastructure, and a great deal on Medicare/Medicaid, what else is there? I know there are subsidies, such as to American farmers. But what about all of the CRAZY things we fund, like a psychic pickle growing farm in Chechnya. I am not joking.
The major things we spend money on is HHS and Defense. And those are being slashed every day. We have to have limits, we have to have goals and spending and we have to be smart about what we will do for our future generations, not just today. Everyone wants something. Everyone wants to get their benefits, but no one wants to pay in their taxes or their dues. We must spend less than we take in. You can actually SEE the monthly Federal spending report here: http://www.fms.treas.gov/mts/mts0512.pdf and the breakdown of the spending here:

These are the numbers as of May 2012. So, don't give me any crazy BS about how this is old, or not yet, or anything. The numbers are current-ish. And I am tired of fake information and pictures on Facebook and Twitter telling me just how much Obama or Bush has done to the country, blah, blah, blah… So HERE are some REAL numbers from REAL government websites and agencies with FEDERALLY PUBLISHED numbers. The year, the President in office, the money/debt, and the census information, in a table format, already calculated and review for your viewing convenience. You are welcome. Oh, and for your own comfort and info: I pulled this together from various government sites and agencies such as treasurydirect.com, census.gov, and bea.gov.


Date
President
Debt
Increase
Percent
Debt Per Capita
12/31/76
Ford
$653,544,000,000
+/-

$2K
12/31/80
Carter
$930,210,000,000
$276,666,000,000
29.7%
$4K
12/31/88
Reagan
$2,684,392,000,000
$1,754,182,000,000
65.3%
$10.9K
12/31/92
Bush
$4,177,009,000,000
$1,492,617,000,000
35.7%
$16.3K
12/31/00
Clinton
$5,662,216,013,697
$1,485,207,013,697
26.3%
$20K
12/31/08
Bush
$10,699,804,864,612
$5,037,588,850,915
47.0%
$35.1K
12/31/11
Obama
$15,125,898,976,397
$4,426,094,111,785
29.2%
$48.3K


FACT: President Reagan, one of my personally favorite Presidents (his quotes are magic, and who didn’t love Nancy?) was the WORST offender of National Debt Growth. While it was ONLY $1.7T in growth, it was OVER 65% of the National Debt. Unacceptable.

FACT: Bill Clinton was a two term President. He had LESS National Debt growth in TWO terms than THREE Presidents in recent history have had in ONE term. Also, He had LESS than half (40%) of that of President Reagan and nearly half (55%) of the growth in National Debt of President Bush. That’s quite impressive. Of course, most people only remember that he let that fat girl suck his wee wee… Not the brilliance of his State relationships, his intellect, or the fact that the man charmed a nation into a bit of prosperity.

FACT: Bill Clinton was the ONLY President in recent history (aka the past 40 years) to actually go DOWN in debt. It was in 2000 when our National Debt went from $5.7T to $5.6T. Yay, we went down $100 million dollars!!! How exciting! That’s not exactly great with the kind of money we are talking about. We only went down 5.3% of the entire National Debt. Think about that. At the time, we were touting how Bill Clintion had a “surplus” and we were in good financial shape. The truth is we were just in “better” shape than we are now – now “good” shape.

FACT: We never had a “surplus”, per se. But that’s because people don’t realize the jargon and the difference in DEFICIT (a budgetary term) and DEBT (what we actually owe out in Treasury securities). We have been in debt for over a century. That’s a sad, but true fact. The truth is that the last time the United States of America was “debt-free” was in 1836 under President Andrew Jackson.

FACT: Carter was a ONE term President with a HORRIBLE economy and he is still kept his National Debt growth UNDER 30%. The 1st President Bush was a ONE term President and his growth never improved and was at 35.7%.

FACT: The 2nd President Bush had over $5T in growth and almost DOUBLED in size (a whopping 47%) during his term. That’s not exaggeration. That’s not rhetoric, that’s just math. There are, of course, many speculations as to WHY this occurred, but the major contributing factor was National Defense and the military conflicts the US engaged in, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, etc…

FACT: President Obama has slowed the growth of the National Debt from Bush’s whopping 15% per year down to 7% per year in three years. Although President Obama is on schedule to match the National Debt Growth of Carter and possible the 1st President Bush, hopefully, that will begin to lower.

So, armed with actual NUMBERS and FACTS, please, please, please, please quit posting little quips and pictures about Republicans vs. Democrats. Please stop the insanity that says that Obama has created more debt than all other Presidents combined. Or that says that Bush created it all, and left it for Obama, NONE of that is true. Not one ounce. It’s not true, first of all… and he’s not the worst offender by FAR, even in recent history. And it’s shouldn’t be a Republican issue or a Democrat issue. In fact, if you have ANY sense at all, it’s NOT a partisan issue.
This is an AMERICAN CITIZEN’S issue...
If you look at my table I created, it shows the DEBT PER CAPITA… that’s YOU and ME. That’s what the country says WE owe as citizens. And, yes, it was mostly conservatives that upped our share of the debt, but that’s not a bad thing. We do need to fight our battles and win the wars we are in, but when they are over… END THEM. Quit spending $40M/day in some desert country. No one wants it anymore. And the government says we don't know enough to know that the infrastructure would fall, the terrorists would regain footing and we'd be in worse shape in 15 years. Well, the sad fact is that it's NOT OUR JOB to police  the world and there will always be terror. Terror and its minions will be fought at every step of the way, but it must be within reason and within reach. We can't afford to make the entire world our constituents and our responsibility. Look at the table again. I can't afford my debt. You can't afford yours. Very few American citizens can. I'd say, oh... less than 1%. In ’76, each citizen’s share of debt was around $2K. As of 2011, it is now at $48K. Think about that. Some of our citizens don’t even MAKE $48K, much less owe it on behalf of our country SPENDING more than we make.

Look at your own family, and then look at the entire global economy. Do YOU live entirely and obscenely above your means? Do you live on credit? I dare say that the majority of America do abuse their credit card privileges and are forced to default on payments. They are forced to file for bankruptcy or leniency on their payments. And those that DO pay their bills and live within their means, do you live paycheck to paycheck? Are you forced to pay more for services because of those that DIDN’T pay their bills? It’s the same with taxes, and with our debt. Think of the Middle Class and Lower Classes of people. They pay taxes day in and day out. Their SMALLER tax contributions are what fund the Federal Government to begin with (besides our debt… sigh) And the rich that don’t pay ANY taxes are those that make the rest of us have to pay even MORE. So, America… do you live above your means? All of this gets me riled up. I need a break from writing this for a moment.

Alright, back to Proverbs for a moment, if you will… What does it mean? What does it mean to acquire wealth dishonestly? Or honestly? Quite frankly, it means work. It means work hard, pay your dues, pay your taxes, take some pride in things and don’t skip out on your check – leaving it behind for those that can’t afford your taste for luxury. It means that if you make $10 or $10T you should pay something in taxes in return for your privilege of citizenship. It means that your $1 or your $1T (if a 10% tax rate were the thing) could help for EVERYONE! What does it mean that honesty can save your life? Can this actually save your life? Yes! Yes, it can… Not only YOUR life and those of many more around you, but also your soul, and your spiritual life. I will forever, FOREVER, be dumbfounded by so-called Christians that say that they love Jesus and want to follow his teachings, but completely go against the way the First Generation of Apostolics and the first “Christians” did business… they completely sold their belongings, and gave the money to a centralized treasury and everyone got an equal share to live on… that way the poorest and the richest were equal in Christ…  I seriously doubt that the 700 Club, Focus on the Family, and James Dobson, Max Lucado, etc preach that anymore.

We as conservatives, and we as Christians have been blessed beyond measure by God. We have been BLESSED to an embarrassment of riches and talent and an era of peace and prosperity. But that can’t last forever. It’s never been meant to last forever (except in Heaven.) Have you not noticed that current politicians are getting wealthier and wealthier, by generation? Now, I don’t mean like my Papaw, my daddy, and me… and how we each “did a little better”. I'm only a couple of generations away from government cheese, okay??? I mean that they are the elite super-rich. They are the ones that can actually buy and sell people. The old days of politics used to be fun. Back when you could speak your mind, and be a character. Before focus groups and money, and alliances, and sponsors. If you are a nobody that worked hard and had some sound, good, horse-sense ideas… you could make something of yourself. Good luck doing that today.

I am tired of personal debt. I am nearly and completely debt free. By the end of the year, I will be NOT ONLY debt free, personally, but I’ll have a number in savings that will make me feel secure. A “grown up” savings account, if you will.
Above this though, I live within my means.
I have to, or this goal of mine could never happen. So, when I see and hear the news, I get tired of paying taxes into a country that will always be “in debt;” yet, we give money out to others and even those in debt to the US.
It feels like a very large pyramid scheme.
I challenge you. I challenge you to educate yourself. I challenge you to read more, listen more, and pay attention more to what your elected officials are doing. Then I challenge you to question them. Question their motives and their honesty. Question their accounting. Question their authority and their purpose. Learn what YOU as a constituent and as a citizen NEED to do to be a productive member of this society. I challenge you to put away your personal feelings of partisanship and party-lines to do something for this country that it needs. We need to control our spending. We need to pay our bills off. We need to quit charging $100 meals on credit cards when we can only afford $10 at the local market. I challenge you to live within your means and be proud of yourself for it, not embarrassed that you aren’t one of those awful celebutantes on Television and in Tabloids.

Be better. Be wiser, and more fiscally sound. Make choices that not only serve you but the greater good for all citizens and people. Or, so I am praying for anyway…

Cheers,
#JustBeingMichael

4 comments:

  1. 100 views and no comments?
    If I posted pics of dicks or kittens would people comment?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'll comment. Beautifully said. Let's hope this makes it round to folks who really need to hear it! (Maybe if you added the dicks or kittens, that would ensure it spreads...) ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I still say you need a comment tutorial at the end of every blog. DK

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  4. I hate kittens. But what you said was decent. M

    ReplyDelete