Re: [atheists-36] Tea Party & Fiscal Prudence

From: Ronnie H.
Sent on: Thursday, October 24, 2013 8:51 PM
I appreciate your thoughts, Jeffrey and Norma. I'm afraid I think 1000 F-35s are still pretty obscene, and that the "asymmetric warfare" that we're engaging in to maintain U.S. hegemony around the world needs to be rethought just as much as the debt system does. But so far all of that is maintained by the power of the military-industrial-financial complex, of course, as long as the majority of people continue to believe in it all and go along with it all.

Ronnie


On Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 10:28 PM, Norma Jeane Young <[address removed]> wrote:
Jeffrey, thanks for your "heads up" statement:  "We would not need 1,750+ new F-35 jet fighters at about $100 million each. . ."
 
That is an OBSCENE amt. of money--spent to DESTROY life--rather than Create it! 
 
Do you realize what could be DONE with that incredible Hunk of Money to improve the quality of life not only in the U. S. but around the world?  For one thing:  NO MORE HOMELESS PEOPLE in This Country; JOB Creation so that everyone who WANTS to work CAN; REAL progress on Global Warming & Environmental Protection--just to name a few of the better uses that ton of money could be spent on to CREATE LIFE & beauty--not Destroy it!
 
--Norma
 
 
From: Jeffrey Young <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Wednesday, October 23,[masked]:11 AM

Subject: Re: [atheists-36] Tea Party & Fiscal Prudence
There is no one source for the 20% military.  What I did was to get figures from the CBO and Treasury website on annual budget revenues and expenses and created a sources and uses of funds for a "typical" recent fiscal year.  The 20% is roughly the Dept of Defense percentage of the total USA budget.
 
There are legitimate concerns about what is considered Military versus non-Military expenditures but the big picture is that a serious look at the national deficit has to look at all expenditures because the magnitude of the deficit is so big.  Everything needs to be on the table for consideration - otherwise, reality is being ignored.
 
I tend to agree with you that our Military budget, however you calculate it, is too high for legitimate defensive purposes.  Being a sort of military policy wonk, the national policy is for our armed forces to be able to wage two major wars - throughout the world - at roughly the same time.  The days of major world wars is likely over and what we are facing in the future is likely the types of guerilla / terrorist type actions.  Our military is still focussed on wining two major wars and has not faced the reality of the smaller asymetric warfare.  Also, a military sized mainly for homeland defense, asymetric warfare and less worldwide intervention (other than with coalitions) could be smaller and thus less costly.  We would not need 1,750+ new F-35 jet fighters at about $100 million each and large standing armies. I would suspect that we could cut the military budget by 25% and it still would be adequate for a defensive non-interventioness strategy.
 
However, a 25% cut in the USA military spending would still not solve the annual budget deficit so you are still looking at a general level tax increase and/or cuts in entitlement programs.
Also, I agree with your concept of bio-region self-sustainability.   Perhaps the money saved from downsizing our military could be better spent on foreign aid to help bio-regions develop green enery self sufficiency - as well as to pay down the national debt.
 
As for your thesis on "debt", unfortunately, the world economic system is structured the way it is and reconfiguring it is a bigger task than I want to tackle at this time.
 
-----Original Message-----From: Ronnie Hawkins <[address removed]>To: atheists-36 <[address removed]>Sent: Sun, Oct 20,[masked]:26 pmSubject: Re: [atheists-36] Tea Party & Fiscal Prudence
Dear Jeffrey--
You say only 20% of "federal expenditures" go to the "military." Can you give a reference for that particular figure? And can you come up with numbers to indicate what amount of federal tax dollars go to support militarism, as well as surveillance by NSA, CIA, FBI and who-knows-what in all the other ways that go beyond directly paying for the armed forces--all the perks and subsidies that go to the war-fighting and spying industries overall?
Moreover, can you give a justification for that much money, whatever it is now, going to militarism, surveillance, and all other governmental agencies existing for the purpose of imposing "external control" on people here and abroad?
I could also question just how we conceive of "debt," continually magnified by the computation of "compound interest" (a contingent social convention--invented for what reason?), and why we continue to believe in and maintain this socially constructed object in the way that we presently do. What is important is what our human actions are bringing about in the real world--should we be manufacturing and dropping bombs that kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people around the world? Should we be gushing out millions of tons of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere to support this expansionist empire-building?--not what sorts of abstract "numbers" are produced in the spreadsheets drawn up by certain kinds of institutions. It might be a good thing if the U.S. "defaults," with a currency that's taken as the world's standard but that is widely agreed to be so only because it is "backed up by the U.S. military," however that is to be envisioned. If the whole global numbers game goes down, maybe people on every continent will be thrown back on trying to sustain themselves with the "resources" of their own bioregions, and we'll all have to live a whole lot closer to ground-level reality.
Best,
Ronnie
On Sun, Oct 20, 2013 at 11:17 AM, Jeffrey Young <[address removed]> wrote:
I have done some research and federal expeditures are roughly 20% Social Security, 15% Medicare, 15% Medicaid, 20% Military, and 20% all other programs and 10% payments on the national debt.  The numbers were obtained from official government sources - the Congress Budget Office, Treasury Department, etc.  If you are interested, I can e-mail me my excel spreadsheets on attempting to balance the federal budget.
 
Currently, total federal income collected is about 80% of total expeditures.   Therefore, if you wanted right now to have a balanced annual budget - if taxes are not raised, then you have to cut 20% of some expenses - which means 0% for the Military or 0% for all Other Federal programs.  Likewise, a cut of 10% of the 20% military and a 10% cut of the 20% of all other programs would leave Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid untouched but you are halving both miliary and all other programs.  Therefore, some other non-defense programs - i.e. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have to be cut. 
 
If you want taxes to be raised, just a tax on millionaires will not provide the revenues needed to bridge the shortfall.
I did the numbers, and expanding the FICA tax to all income levels brings in some revenues but not enough to bridge the gap.  There are alot of corporate loopholes and I am sure that eliminating them will bring in some monies but there are so many and the information is not easily obtainable.  But my instincts (and other serious budget wonks) have said that even after all loopholes are eliminated, you will still need some broad-based tax increase - then the question becomes - how do you make the tax increase progressive.
 
Therefore, the conclusion that I arrive at is that revenue increases including closing tax loopholes and cutting expenditures will have to affect almost all of the population (except maybe those below the poverty line) if you are truly serious about dealing with our national debt.
 
Politicially, it is difficult to take away "entitlements" from people used to them but I did the numbers and I do not see an alternative.
-----Original Message-----From: Ronnie Hawkins <[address removed]>To: atheists-36 <[address removed]>Sent: Sun, Oct 20,[masked]:48 amSubject: Re: [atheists-36] Tea Party & Fiscal Prudence
I continue to be amazed that "liberals" are willing to go along with the calls to reduce Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other programs that actually benefit people instead of calling out themselves, loudly and clearly, for a substantial DECREASE in all our military and surveillance programs. (And I would love to see a true total accounting of federal expenditures going to the military-industrial-surveillance complex, including subsidies to defense industries, corporate "contractors" (i.e. mercenaries), etc--I doubt very much that this amount can be in any way comparable to the above programs, taken singly or perhaps even together--where did you get your info, Jeffrey?)
People did call out for military cutbacks in the wake of the Vietnam disaster. Is this meekness today yet one more consequence of the fear instilled by the 9/11 event? Time to get over it!!!
Best regards,
Ronnie
On Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 9:27 AM, Jeffrey Young <[address removed]> wrote:
Both sides in this issue are at fault in not dealing with the national debt issue.   Currently, the total annual national expenses exceed the total annual national income by about 20%.  This includes entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as well as Defense - each of which are about 1/5 of total expenses.  The other 1/5 is all the other Federal programs.  Therefore, if we could go to a balanced budget instantly, this means a combination of program cuts/increased taxes of 20%.
 
This means cuts will have to be made in entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid as well as defense. Alternatively, it means elimination of tax loopholes and tax increases anywhere up to 20% more than today.
Both sides refuse to acknowledge this reality.  At least some segments of the Tea Party acknowledge that govenment expenses need to be cut and I agree with them on this point. Although I disagree with their strategy to shut down the government over Obamacare, I think that this action brought the issue about government spending to the forefront - particularly the concern that Obamacare may dramatically raise medical costs.  I do not agree with the segment of the Tea Party that refuses to consider tax increases and/or elimination of tax loopholes as well as the advocacy of a social/religious agenda. 
 
 
 
-----Original Message-----From: Norma Jeane Young <[address removed]>To: atheists-36 <[address removed]>Sent: Fri, Oct 18,[masked]:19 amSubject: [atheists-36] Dysfunction ("No More.")
Jeffrey,
 
If the Tea Party people were SO concerned with "fiscal responsibility," they wouldn't have wasted $24 BILLION over the past 2 weeks & caused so much misery to people--even to the point of being willing to wreck the global economy that is struggling to recover.  They were voting as a "bloc" of corporate-religious-controlled & controlling climate-change deniers--not as individuals.  They all still voted in the final vote to default! on the nation's debt -- for the first time in history! -- in order to prevent health care coverage to millions of U. S. citizens -- AND outlaw birth control --which default would have been catastrophic to the fragile U.S. & World Economies.
 
--Norma
 


----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Elizabeth Warren <[address removed]>
To: Norma Young <[address removed]>
Sent: Wednesday, October 16,[masked]:24 PM
Subject: Dysfunction

 
Norma,I'm glad that the government shutdown has ended, and I'm relieved that we didn't default on our debt.But I want to be clear: I am NOT celebrating tonight.Yes, we prevented an economic catastrophe that would have put a huge hole in our fragile economic recovery. But the reason we were in this mess in the first place is that a reckless faction in Congress took the government and the economy hostage for no good purpose and to no productive end.According to the S&P index, the government shutdown had delivered a powerful blow to the U.S. economy. By their estimates, $24 billion has been flushed down the drain for a completely unnecessary political stunt.$24 billion dollars. How many children could have been back in Head Start classes? How many seniors could have had a hot lunch through Meals on Wheels? How many scientists could have gotten their research funded? How many bridges could have been repaired and trains upgraded?  The Republicans keep saying, "Leave the sequester in place and cut all those budgets." They keep trying to cut funding for the things that would help us build a future. But they are ready to flush away $24 billion on a political stunt.So I'm relieved, but I'm also pretty angry.We have serious problems that need to be fixed, and we have hard choices to make about taxes and spending. I hope we never see our country flush money away like this again. Not ever.It's time for the hostage taking to end. It's time for every one of us to say, "No more."Thank you,Elizabeth 
 
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