Solution 1B) Entitlement Reform – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

July 6, 2011

"Well now your back's going to hurt!"

So here is where the hard part begins when I specifically start talking about entitlements.  Before I begin on how to actually fix them, I must point out two oxymoronic aspects of entitlements in general.  The first is that everybody is generally for a getting the nation’s fiscal house in order by fixing the budget and the deficit.  Everyone generally knows that the government spends too much, even if it admittedly does a poor job at collecting taxes from entities that should be paying them.  Secondly, everyone generally also knows that it is the big three entitlement programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) are really what imperils our nation fiscally.  The liabilities in the future for the same level of care and money provided to more and more aging baby boomers is completely unsustainable.  Why then, does everyone know these two facts but just continue to stick their head in the sand?  The longer you wait, the worse the problem will get!

With that set of observations out of the way, I am prepared to tell you the hard, ugly truth about entitlements.  It is not meant to be offensive, critical, or an attack.  This is simply the blatant truth.

Entitlements create the false choice of promising something this nation, as great as it is, cannot deliver.  Every year, we spend more and more money that we do not actually have on an elderly population that has a disproportionate sway on government (because they actually vote unlike other demographic groups – but good for them!) and that money/healthcare is seen as a something the elderly population is entitled to collect.  That money goes to a generally unproductive strata of society that was over-promised a system of support in their waning years and underpaid into it due to bad government programs and policies of the past.  It hurts to say it but its true.  Its also highly unpopular and not fair to just pull the plug on Grandma.  Meanwhile, that same money that is keeping her alive but giving her years of sub-standard quality of life standards at a retirement home could have been reinvested in education, energy development, infrastructure, or co-opting domestic business development; all things that yield a return on the money spent.  Outside the fact that some of the money is spent outright on consumption in this consumption-drive economy, money spent on entitlements just goes up in smoke .  This is not to say that we leave the elderly on the streets, but it is a painful amount of federal and state monies being spent on the past, not the future.

The problem and difficulty with entitlements is that it is really, really easy to promise something that was cheap 40 years ago, but really hard to pay for it today or claw it back when the expenses have greatly gone up.  The rules have changed.  People are living longer, more complex medical procedures cost more and then they keep people alive longer as a form of double whammy.   A great example of how things have gone awry is the Social Security retirement age.  Social Security benefit ages have not risen as fast as life-expectancy in this country.  FDR’s administration originally designed it with an age bracket in mind that most Americans never lived to see.  Many paid into the system, but didn’t collect from it.  That is how it was sustainable.   Society today is also far more likely to ship parents and grandparents off to the expense of a home rather than have the ‘burden’ of them living with family once they get too old to take care of themselves.  Hence, the tax-payers pay for the greater cost of care than the cheaper alternative of the elderly staying with family…even if further subsistence payments were available for family-based care.

The same general principle can be applied to health-care for the poor.  “It’s not my money, it’s the governments so why do I care?”  Well it is your money in a very direct sense every April 15th.   Indigent care, unneeded ER visits, and other forms of “disinvested” spending are ways that great sums of money are wasted.  And that is a problem my friends – we spend way too much money to get substandard results of an impoverished elderly class, expensive health-care, and a culture of dependency in welfare.

My statements do not mean that the poor should die in the streets, that the elderly should just hurry up or die, or that you have to pass a ‘contributing to society test’ in order to get help should you fall on hard times.  My statements are aimed at how we strive for noble social goals to take care of our most vulnerable citizens and we yer fail both them and our future citizenry grandly by continuing to contribute to the fraud, waste, and abuse of the current system.  Good enough just won’t cut it much longer.

The Solution(s) –They are actually very hard, but amazingly simple.

1) The first and the greatest is the solution I proposed to make medical care cheaper and more effective from the previous article.  By following that program, you lower everyone’s costs and it makes it a lot cheaper to care for the elderly, the poor, and everyone in between.  That right there has a direct effect on how wealthy a person actually is from the social security check when only a fraction (instead of 2/3rds) goes to prescription, co-pays, and medical charges.  And obviously, cheaper healthcare means cheaper Medicare and Medicaid costs.

Such reforms only get us treading water however.  There are still too many promises and IOUs in the accounts of these programs.  Instead of making a patch that will last for 25 – 30 years, like the US did in  1983 for Social Security before it needs to get fixed again, lets put the problems to bed once and for all.

2) Social Security:  Raise the retirement age.  Early retirement 64-66.  Standard retirement 66-70.  Delayed retirement 72-74.  Something like that.  I purposefully put a range in as this is nt supposed to be hard and fast, but give you an idea of what I’m thinking.  You see, there is some misconception in this country that you work for X years and then you don’t have to anymore.  THE WORLD DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY IF YOU DON’T PROACTIVELY SAVE FOR THAT DAY.  Solely depending upon social security is what keeps over 40% of our elderly citizens out of poverty…and even then it’s not like they have a lot of money to work with.  This country needs to get off the mindset that someone will be there to take care of you, so you don’t have to make financial sacrifices now in the form of an IRA or a 401(k) to ensure your financial security in the future.  Too few people save and its the savers who get punished by low interest rates (like today’s environment) or possibly later.  All it will take is Congress’s writ and things like ROTH IRAs could be taxed despite already being taxed as regular income when the money was deposited.  Platitudes like ‘shared responsibility’ and ‘helping your fellow American’ are all to easily thrown out when times are depression level tough and money has to be raised.  While this is mere conjecture, look at the current batch of charlatans in Congress, look yourself in the mirror, and try to lie to yourself and say they wouldn’t do it today if push comes to shove.

Lastly, if you’re one of the lucky few who have a retirement program, good for you…but you are in a dwindling minority.

3)  Social Security:  After a certain lifetime income, benefits decrease until they are gone altogether.  Call it a ‘success tax’ if you will.  This program doesn’t affect the middle class or even the well-to-do, but the actual truly wealthy people in this nation who have millions in brokerage accounts, have yachts, a home in the Hamptons, and in retirement, could maintain a middle class existence on the interest payments from their assets alone.  These guys don’t need the help of the American tax-payer.  Yes, they paid into a system they never get to benefit from…but they did benefit – from ree market, American style capitalism.  Their success, their profits, come from the people whose hard work made them money and their wages bought their products.  They directly and indirectly benefitted from people who were monetarily less successful than them but buoyed their success.

4)  Medicare:  Make the free market the cost standard – not the other way around.  Today everything is based upon what Medicare bills.  In my solution from the previous article, it is the market…and that is what medicare pays.  It is just another way to dampen bubbles and pay fairly for services as Medicare would still be a large buying block of patients in any market.  The rest of solution 1 addresses the directly reduction of Medicare costs.

5) Medicaid as a subset of the welfare system:  It’s the carrot or the stick.  The truly poor, helpless, underaged, and defenseless sectors of society need to be protected no matter what, no strings attached.  Solution 1 at least makes it cheaper.  However, there is a portion of the populace that abuses the system, to include their health care.  They choose to be ‘poor’ because it actually enriches them.  Why work at a crappy job, make $400 a week and have to pay food, rent, day-care, and health insurance costs and not have ends meet because you are lazy and have no other opportunities for employment other than working at a McDonalds when instead you can be on welfare, do nothing, and get food stamps, WIC, child-based welfare checks, and a Medicaid card?  Then you may only get a check for $300 a week, but its all discretionary as the government pays the rest of your bills?  A self-interested person would of course choose the second option, especially if they have no qualms of not contributing to society.  The welfare state for the unworthy and the willingness to take advantage of it are both un-American and I take a very dim view.  We need both the carrot and the stick.  Those who can’t pass drug tests, keep jobs, and generally be contributing members of society despite being able-bodied need to be cut off.  It is not government’s responsibility to subsidize their sloth.  However, if we are to take such a hard approach, we must have a carrot as well.  Workers must be given a living wage.  This is a combination in  a raise in minimum wage, a reduction in costs of life’s necessities where possible (food, energy, etc – I’ll cover in another segment), and more investment in social services that teach job skills, place jobs, and dust people off and get them back on their feet.  If they are willing to work hard and contribute, then the welfare system is working how it should.  This section was much larger than just Medicaid, but that program is a subset of a much larger issue that is hard to separate Medicaid from, so I covered the major points while admittedly going off topic.

Finally, I don’t admit to having all the answers.  I probably have more in my head and there are more out there.  This article was designed to give you some specific solutions, but also take 3 steps back and evaluate entitlements and how they are viewed in general.  If you can come at them from a fiscally sustainable obligation that is fair while not stealing from the future of the next generation of Americans, then you’ve arrived at the same conclusions I have.

– G.S.


Solutions 1A) – National Debt via Healthcare

July 2, 2011

did you know - that snakes were an ancient sign of healing? Hence why they're in this symbol.

Tell me if I’m wrong, but as broken as government is, it is because of men, not because of the problems being insurmountable.  Yes, hard choices have to be made, but wasting months and months of time arguing over a debt ceiling that we all know is going to get raised is simply irresponsible.

Thus I am making a new segment for a while and offering you a battery of solutions (in brief – I could go much further into depth for each).  I always say, don’t give my problems, give me solutions.  Well here they are.  They would work if the charlatans would get out of the way.

National Debt

To tackle such a huge issue, you must have multiple prongs of attack.  I will address by its various parts that in total, add up to addressing the problem…which is turn also address other issues that need to be solved on a national level.

A – The Health Care Industry

Completely gut the program in a voluntary 4 state test ‘opt-in’ experimental program for 5 years.  Start it in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri or another block of a couple of contiguous states.

Take away all but the most basic framework regulations at a federal level while also making it so the states cannot interfere with the program to foul it up either.  The bottom line is to make as free a market as possible for all aspects of the industry so that true capitalism, not crony-capitalism rules.  Good business decisions and ethical behavior gets rewarded, and greed and graft fail as customers and the industry goes somewhere else.

Let all current healthcare providers sign up.  Existing insurance companies cannot participate unless they make fully transparent and separate entity spin-off businesses for this experimental market.  Entrepreneurial endeavors are welcomed as well and incentives will be provided to encourage their creation.

Loser pays, common-sense tort reform is enacted to decimate the lawsuit rate in healthcare in this experimental area for all but the most blatant offenses where the case is justified.  Force actuaries to adjust risk premiums for such a new environment for hospitals and doctors so that their malpractice insurance plummets.

Drug companies are allowed to go through an ultra-streamlined FDA approval process for the introduction of new drugs in this market at much quicker and reduced cost, with risks fully disclosed to the patients and the drug-maker being held fully accountable should patients get bad medicine.  At the same time, imports from Canada, generics, and other ways to lessen the cost of medicine is allowed.  The market decides what is best.

Indigent care that is non-emergency can be refused at the Emergency room upon quick, initial professional assessment by a registered nurse or doctor.  Repeat offenders can be fined.  A TV advertising campaign in the test area is conducted during the most popular TV shows – American Idol, Glee, NCIS, etc to advertise the program and the restrictions, like the emergency room refusal policy.  Public clinics should have lower costs with these programs, but they can get extra help in a streamlined fashion from the government when shown that the policy is working and they are seeing more patients.

Finally, any angle that I didn’t cover could be addressed with your input.  The bottom line is that there is enough need and money to go around for government to help be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.  A young doctor, just finished with their residency should want to open their own community practice back home because their small town needs a doctor.  This also would include things like changing how doctors are compensated…whatever works for both the doctor and the insurer.  Heck, if costs were low enough, doctors could charge customers directly without health insurance just like most other transactions.

The best legislation we can make is legislation that gets the legislation out of the way and lets the free market truly be free and let capitalism work.  We still need basic FDA protections and anti-trust protections, but give this program a try for 2 – 5 years.  I believe that it would be wildly successful and the healthcare industry in other states would CLAMOR to have this system adopted.

This system would give better care, be more profitable, and save tons and tons of money for all involved.  Government would spend less on red tape, make more money on taxation of businesses, and the care would be so much cheaper that not only could everyone now afford healthcare, they would have multiple options to choose from, people would WANT to opt-in without being forced to, and the cost of government providing healthcare via Medicare and Medicaid would plummet.

That greatly reduces the ballooning costs of the social contract our government has with its citizenry, especially the elderly.  However, the specifics of Medicare is my next segment.  Most costs associated with health-care come at the end of life, and there are ways to curb those expenditures as well within the system I just outlined here.

Thoughts, improvement, criticism?  I want it all because I know there is a solution but I surely haven’t covered all the angles.

– G.S.

Kicking the Can Down the Road

June 21, 2011

Let it burn. No really, let it burn. You'll save the Germans a lot of money.

Did you hear the wonderful news that sent stock markets around the world higher?  The Greek ruling party in parlaiment narrowly passed a confidence vote – so their prime minister, (Papindreau or something like that) can stay in power and have his party cram more austerity down the throats of their lazy constituents.  Obviously people who aren’t used to paying taxes, working, or doing anything to stimulate their economy aren’t going to be happy about the goodies being taken away.  I make a grandiose generalization but I think you catch my drift.

Here is the crux of the problem…they are basically taking money from German taxpayers, pissing it away down the rat-hole known as Greece, and this controversy and subsequent raise in the stock market is all about getting a traunch of money promised last year.  Its not about new money.  Its about stuff they’ve already agreed to.  Greece’s economy is so bad, that everyone is worried the citizenry is going to pull the place apart as the government bean-counters force more cuts (which drive their economy in the ditch even further – but rightly and fairly so).  Thus, the controversy isn’t even addressing the fact that the bailouts didn’t hold things up as long as they planned or that they haven’t actually voted for the austerity measures that they still need to get the money, OR that the Greeks are going to need a nother $140 billion dollars to forestall things another year.

The Greeks are broke.  Any money thrown their way is only keeping counterparty banks in Germany and France whole.  Its not helping the Greeks…its just keeping the all-powerful European banks in the money so that they don’t have to take a haircut…and to let Spain get its fiscal house in order before Greece finally does have some kind of default.  You see, Greece isn’t too big to fail, but Spain is.

That my friends, is the real truth about the Greece economic situation.  Its all a shell game and its not a matter of if, but when the Greks will deafult.  Default isn’t really even that big a deal – obviously they can’t hold up their end of the E

Congress = Off Kilter Moral Compass

June 7, 2011

Being a pugilistic dick has its consequences when you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar - no one else gives you any quarter either

I could rant and rave about good ‘ol dis-Honorable Representative Anthony Weiner (you couldn’t make this up folks!) went from lies to cries, but I won’t.  It pleases me to see a liberal blow-hard fall, and fall hard all for lame choices that didn’t even get him laid…but that is a partisan angle and not what I’m trying to get at, as juicily scrumptious as it is.

There are two types of corruption – one more moral and the other more ethical.  Ethically, you have the Charles Rangels, Barney Franks, and the Tom Delays of the world who bend then break rules for their own financial gain…be it outright money laundering or cut-rate deals for their gay partner.  That’s bad stuff, and could evoke its own article from me, but I’m interested in the guys who are thinking with the wrong head.

Those would be:  Anthony Weiner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, John Edwards,  Mark Sanford, JFK, and many, many others who are just a list of recent or infamous names of politicians who thought they could get away with it and so they strayed despite the possible consequences to the body of work they’ve worked hard for their whole lives to establish.  Even a paragon like Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t resist having multiple affairs with multiple women.

Why is this?  Two reasons.

I call the first the ‘second rule of modern politics – power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

(the first rule by the way is that job #1 for the modern politician is to get re-elected rather than actually govern).

The other reason generally has to do with attractive young ladies who lack the self-respect they should have.

When you mix the two, you have a politician who thinks he is above the rules everyone else has to play by….  i can hear the thought process now:

“Have occasional sex with the ONE woman I’m married to who doesn’t put out anymore because she knows she’s got me?   Pffaah!  Why do that when I have all these hot twenty-something interns fawning over me?  They don’t call it sleeping your way to the top for a reason…its good to be on ‘top’!  Mwahahahahah”

You’d think this analogy would especially apply to Ah-nuld, but somewhere he confused what was ‘hot’.

In any case, these guys are not used to someone telling them ‘no’.  When the one person in their life who can say ‘no’ does because she is your wife and knows you better than anyone else; and possibly knew you before you were ‘powerful’…she is now immune from your prowess..she knows the man, not the myth.  Well, when she has a headache, Mr. powerful eventually can’t take it any more and the slippery slope starts.  At first it’s just flirting over cocktail drinks…but then the dopamine gets kicking in that male head of theirs and they get swept up, making one poor decision after another.  It may take a while, but its the classic story.  Cheat a little.  Cheat a lot.  Get caught.  Deny and Lie.  Come clean…and most likely with your political career in tatters.

What’s the most interesting part about this is the current story is the fact that Mr. Weiner only had virtual relationships.  Given time, it is not unreasonable to believe he’d  have gone further, but that is just speculation…you think the guy would be cut some slack..but the fact that he’s such a dick to people he doesn’t like doesn’t help him.

Bottom line:  these guys aren’t sorry.  They’re just sorry they got caught.  They have a brain, they must be somewhat capable if they were elected to office (no comment), and they have logic, reason, and the fear of hungry divorce lawyers carving them up all on their side…but they. just. can’t. do. it….  The supple young body  who is interested is just too irresistible.

Oh yeah – and she doesn’t want you for good looks or charm.  She wants you for your money (think Anna Nicole) or because she is a woman and she has her own inexplicably illogical biological reason to get in bed with an old dude twice her age.  In part, it is instinct that attracts her to the alpha male of the pack…the one in power… and who evinces more power than a U.S. Congressman, the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, or the President of the United States?

In the end, its just one more example of how broken our government is.  I’ve already washed my hands of most all of them.  How many more have their eyes on a pair of boobs rather than the sad state of this country and just haven’t been caught?  There are always more.  This is just another reason to ‘drain the swamp’ on both sides of the aisle.

An elite political class forgets how to lead just like its constituency forgets to hold it accountable.

– G.S.

Been Away For A While – Well, Its Starting to Heat Back Up!

June 2, 2011

Just ask yourself, WWCD? (What Would Caesar Do)

I’m not sure if I actually have any of what you would call ‘regular readers’…but if you are, you will see that I’ve been away for a while.  That is fine…in all honesty, I hadn’t been focusing my attention here and it was in part because the news wasn’t that remarkable save us whacking Bin Laden.  As a way to swing back into things, I wanted to make an omnibus posting of what is going on in the world that is wrong – what I call ‘taking stock of the sinking ship’.  I plan on getting back to more frequent and shorter posts.

First let me reiterate that I believe this country and generally the world, has passed the Rubicon on getting its financial house in order before a  depression level crisis happens way back in January when Congress and the President agreed to extend the Bush Era Tax cuts while also extending the unemployment benefits…both of which they shouldn’t have done and goes against their rhetoric of fiscal responsibility.

With that said, lets take stock of the world today and see if its past the tipping point of sanity:

Libya – Its a stalemate.  The resistance fighters don’t have the means, training, or power to uproot Khadafi.  The international community isn’t sending in ground troops.  So, they do airstrikes, but never in the history of Air Power have you won a war with it alone.  YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO HAVE BOOTS ON THE GROUND – and the boots on the ground in this case sucks.

Arab Spring – This is actually of nice historical significance.  All the down-trodden people in N. Africa and the Middle East are tired of getting screwed.  The discontent has now spread to Yemen and Syria and even Saudi Arabia some.  These places recognize that they either don’t care about the international community because it’s not on friendly terms (Syria), they have us where they want us (Saudi with all the oil we need from them), or they are the best bet to help us keep the worst terrorists at bay (Yemen).  Idealism meets realism in these places and its a shame that these are the results.

Israel-Palestinian Peace Talks –  1967 borders?  Are you kidding me?  How many times have the Israelis offered some concrete concessions for emphemeral promises.  The leaders of the Palestinians don’t want peace, they want to erradicate Israel.  That is their stance.  1967 borders doesn’t solve any problems while only actually making things worse.  The political impasse is not about a stateless nation of Palestinians, its about a fundamental belief among Palestinian leadership that Israel does not have a right to exist…and the common Palestinian suffers because of it.  Obama was a fool for that one.  He only strengthened the hard-liners in Israel while also weakening our ability to influence them.  Just like Syria, the Palestinians won’t listen to us…so all we have is soft power via Israel.  That’s it. 

Osama Bin Laden – He’s Dead.  I should have written a piece about this.  This was a good move on the President’s part, so don’t politicize it.  Bad for Clinton letting him get away and turn Afghanistan into a terrorist haven.  Good on Bush for the ground work his team laid.  Without it, Obama wouldn’t have been able to get the bastard.  This is a team effort and kudos to everyone for getting the son of a bitch.  I personally belive they made the right call to do the quick burial at sea for all the reasons they posited, but I do  think that they should have  released the pictures of his dead body however…that and I believe that the Pakistani government is just incompetent, not complicit.  Osama was disciplined, connected, and a master-mind.  It makes sense for him to hide in plain sight in relative luxury in the last place that anyone would look, especially when everyone thought he was hiding in some caves.  Bravo to him…but bravo that he is dead.  May he have ‘fun’ hanging out with Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot in Hell.

Europe – Just like I’ve said, the EuroZone and the IMF did NOT solve Greece’s problems.  Throwing money at the problem won’t do it.  The country is still insolvent and will only require more money to go down the rat-hole until they finally give up on it.  The only reason these international economic and finance people are doing what they are doing is to give Spain enough time to prop itself up and get out from under the shadow of the PIIG (Portugal, Iceland, Ireland, Greece).  If Greece defaults now, the German banks take it in the shorts, and Greece leaves the EuroZone, it drags Spain down with it, which drags down Europe, which eventually drags down the U.S.  THAT my friends is why they haven’t stopped the insanity in Greece.  Great, huh?

United States

– Tornadoes.  They suck and I think there is something to climate change involved here…but what?   That is the question that no one can definitively answer.  Should we shut down our coal factories because of it?  No.  Should we actually put public monies towards developing cleaner technology (like Fusion – see previous articles) yes. 

– Debt Ceiling/National Debt/Political Theatre.  Where was all this talk of debt when Congress piled it on when it passed the Rubicon (see above).  It didn’t exist.  Why?  Because it wasn’t politically expedient and not the hot topic.  So, it takes literally multiple acts of Congress to fund the government until the end of the year, with the political theatre and last minute antics…and we don’t think its going to be the same for this?  You’re kidding me.  While I am sympathetic to the Republicans and laud what they are trying to do, both them and the Democrats know that they will cave in the end (even if it’s no concessions I believe) to raise the debt ceiling.  To do otherwise would be disastrous for the Global Economy, put us into recession (if we’re not there already) and possibly put us into Depression.  That is a bad thing…but it would finally force the chickens to come home and roost and make the folks in Washington address some of this country’s problems.  But for that exact reason that they would be blamed for cutting people’s social security, medicare, Medicaid, and raising taxes, the politicians won’t let things get that bad – they want to get back into office because their personal power is more important than what is good for this nation.  Few are willing to fall on a sword for this nation, much less the majority needed to actually affect painful change.

And that is the crux of the matter.  Notice I didn’t talk about the Healthcare debate…there isn’t one.  It all goes back to the same problem of we as a nation want all the goodies the politicians hand out, but we collectively put our head in the sand and don’t want to pay for it.  Hence the debt.  Hence not wanting to raise taxes.  Hence being implicitly okay with passing the debt burden to the young and the unborn.

  We as a society have abdicated the governance of our country and it should be a ‘shame on us’ moment.  Instead, these guys are controlled by their own ambitions and fueled by special interests and their money.  If we keep voting the same people in, why are we continually disappointed in the same poor results?   The politicians won’t tell you the hard truth because they know they can tap dance around the issues because you are too busy casting votes for American Idol and not enough at the ballot box.  They have no need to tell you the real truth that they know and piss you off because they know you’re asleep at the wheel.  While you borrow to keep your standard of living the same, they live their lives as the political elite and go to a cushy lobbyist job once they get out of the public lime-light.  Why would they want to rock the boat?  Well, I will.  You guys need to wake up.  ALL OF YOU.  Even the tea partiers who I loosely affiliate myself with.  Even you have to rise above the hypocrisy.  The same elderly tea partiers who hate big government don’t want to see their social security or medicare get reduced. 

 You can’t throw these kind of stones if you live in a glass house.  If I actually thought that government could fix itself, I would welcome a raise in my taxes.  I would welcome a raise in age for my Social Security.  I would welcome changes to Medicare.  The thing is, I know it’ll just be another form of generational theft…and that is why while I don’t want a crash, I somewhat support it because it is better to have it happen sooner rather later.  Despite all the ideas I’ve thrown out here before, from revolutionizing the health care industry to energy security and true investments in America I think it is too late. 

 The signs are in the tea leaves.  My ducks are in a row for the coming economic collapse, are yours?

– G.S.

Your House Is On Fire – And Mine Is Catching…Thanks – Part 2

March 31, 2011

tell is this fair?


Not even a year ago, I wrote this article among others.  It was about the Greek Debt Crisis and how Europe wasn’t solving its problems but just kicking the economic can down the road.  It took just over 10 months for all the money spent over Greece to burn up confidence in the EuroZone.  Now its Ireland and Portugal whose leadership is in flux and their economies and banks in turmoil.  They’re called PIIGS for a reason.  Portugal, Ireland, Iceland, Greece, Spain.  Mark my words, Spain is the one to REALLY worry about.

   You won’t see this stuff at the top of the news…and that is my point.    Too many other juicy stories drown out the very significant problems of the European Debt Crisis.  The synical and conspiracy theory part of me thinks its convenient that way…but that gives people too much credit.  They’re more worried about Dancing with the Stars and American Idol….and if they are in tuned, they see the kubuki theatre of  ‘fiscal debate’ going on in DC right now.  Congress is arguing over about $30 billion in spending cuts when we have an annual deficit of something to the effect of $1.5 trillion on our $3.8 trillion budget.  Congress is arguing over the change in the couch while the house around them is burning down.

  The next to last thing we need is Europe’s serious economic problems.  The last thing we need is to ignore them and get caught with our pants down when it spreads.

That is the problem with socialism, eventually you run out of other people’s money (thanks Margaret).  It’s that socialism that is sinking Europe and what we’re ignoring here at home.   What will that mean for your pension, your 401(k), your children’s future?  What are you willing to do about it. 

I can tell you that the same tired players who have money and power from the status quo aren’t the answer.  We need to elect new leaders, pure and simple.

No Fly Zone? Really?

March 17, 2011

Get Ready For These...

Gaddafi and his craziness would have been ‘great’ mass-media news by itself, now he has to compete with the buzz from Japan – but it doesn’t cloud the irony of the UN resolution for enforcing a no fly zone.  Let me make a series of  points and then a series of comments and you can draw your own conclusions. 

To give away the punch-line, this is an ‘easy’ win where we can do ‘what is right’ without real repercussion, loss of life, or long-term fallout since everyone knows that Gaddafi is a whack-o.  Oh yeah, we’ll still get our oil tanker from the Saudis as well.


1) A no fly zone means not only not letting the bad-guys fly around, but blowing up airfields and anti-aircraft batteries to protect the fighter planes that are flying the combat air patrols (CAP) to support the no fly zone.  That means air to ground offensive strikes.

2) France, Italy, and the UK are eager to directly support and engage in an enforcement campaign.

3) As of yet there has been little discussion about the U.S.’s direct involvement except to say that we have a seat at the table and are certainly part of the NATO planning.

4) Gaddafi, a self-agrandized despot of  a looney-toon, openly threatened hostilities now and in the future in the Mediterranean if the world imposed a no-fly zone on Libya.

5) The world has been deafeningly silent on protests in Bahrain and Yemen due to needed cooperation from the non-democratic despots there.

6) We had similar actions under Bill Clinton in Bosnia with air patrols and cruise missile strikes.

7)  Fighter pilot types would love nothing better than to have a no-fly zone.


1) No one has a better military or equipment to wage an air war than the U.S.  We have tomahawk missiles, F-22s, B-2s, SEAD mission F-16CJs, and the experience with all this hardware in actual wars.  I find it hilarious that the French think they are up to the task and they probably want as little help as possible from the USofA.

2) We had a no-fly zone over Iraq as well for a very long time.  We got very little support the second time the US kicked Saddam’s ass because nations like France did not feel we were justified in intervention.  Why the change in heart?  Because Libya isn’t that far from France maybe?  Because this one is ‘easy’?  Both?  Its far more complicated that simple solidarity with the Libyan rebels – there are legitimately beleaguered revolutionaries all over the world that are ignored every day.  Why are the Libyans so different and special?

3) The world loves to hate the US, but when push comes to shove, we are the only ones with the hardware, know-how, and force projection capability to do the job right.  Why?  We are America.  We are too good to the rest of the world and we go unthanked for it, but god-forbid if we don’t kick someone’s ass when everyone thinks it should be.  The media doesn’t know it yet, but our NATO brethren desperately need our know-how and hardware.  We spend a lot of treasure and spill a lot of blood so that others don’t have to – largely because they don’t need to fight any more because we too willingly go do it for them as the world’s defacto policeman.  Now our allies and the ‘good guys’ of the world have grudgingly grown dependent upon our strength and just dominance.  This is what you get, responsibility to protect France get again – for at least the 3rd time now. (I especially enjoyed that one by they way)  What other nation has been the ’empire’ of the world and done it so benevolently?

4) This no-fly zone could be a slippery slope.  All it takes is one flight of Libyan migs to execute a reprisal attack against a French cruise-liner in the Mediterranean.  That  then greatly ups the ante for NATO to ask itself if it is going to live up to its charter and say that an attack on one is an attack on all.  Gaddafi is a crazy-man.  You’re wrong if you think he lacks the stones to do something like that.  Thomas Jefferson warned against foreign wars of entanglement for exact scenarios like the fictitious one above.  Look up the cause of WWI; a web of alliances is how it started and America had to eventually get drug in via alliances to end the damn thing too. 

5) We want Libya’s oil, but the country doesn’t make Saudi Arabia amounts of it.  Also, Gaddafi is unsavory and crazy.  The pro-democracy demonstrators in the other Arab countries are just as right and just in their cause, but the situation in those countries are much more complicated.  We NEED the autocratic ruler’s  support there because of their oil (Saudi Arabia being the clearest example). Our dependency on foreign oil is why we waste so many lives and $$ in that part of the world in the first place.  They know it and that is what protects them and keeps them loosely aligned with the West even though they don’t like us and refuse to move beyond a 10th century mentality in how they rule or look at the world.

6)  True to form, the West picks and chooses its battles.  Today, Libya is a worthy while Darfur is not.  Yesterday Bosnia was, but Somalia was not (and today you hear about the consequences of those actions in the news – pirates).  These guys could very well be thinking that this is a mini-Desert Shield type operation.  Of the lot looking at this no-fly zone, the US is the only player that has the ability and will to go it alone –  right or wrong.  You see that both in our introduction and pull-out of Somalia and our mounting successes in the new Iraq.  You saw it in defeat in Vietnam and the barest margin of victory in Korea.  All but the First Gulf War show that victory is never easy coalition or not.

7) Fighter pilots get to justify their existence and over-inflated egos if they shoot down some ancient Mig 19s using their AIM-9 air to air missiles from 20 miles away.  That’s not war, that’s  shooting fish in a barrel.

Don’t think that victory of this despot will be as easy as it could appear.  If Gaddafi is going down, he won’t go without a fight – he’s already shown that these past 2 weeks.  If anyone would have the audacity to lob a russian missile at Sicily, sink a french passenger liner, or attack an American cargo ship – it would be Colonel Gaddafi; certainly more so than Slobodon Milosevic or even Saddam Hussein himself.

Those men were evil, this guy is both evil and deranged.

– G.S.