Today's Downsizer Dispatch
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Quotes of the Day:
"We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."
-- Edward R. Murrow
"If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad."
-- James Madison
Subject: Fear the spending
Since its founding DownsizeDC.org has spent the bulk of its efforts defending the Bill of Rights. We have spent comparatively less effort on fiscal matters. This has been because of the nature of the current administration, in both the White House and the Congress.
The politicians of both parties have joined forces to wage what may be the greatest war against traditional American civil liberties since perhaps the time of President Wilson. But now we are on the cusp of a new era, in which fiscal and economic issues will move to the fore.
It is not that we expect the next administration to be more respectful of the Bills of Rights. We do not expect that, no matter which parties prevail in the coming elections.
Neither do we believe the current administration has been sound in its fiscal policies, nor that we necessarily expect the next one to be worse.
These are not the reasons why fiscal and economic issues will become predominant. Rather . . .
It is because the policies of both parties, and all administrations, on both economics and civil liberties, have combined to create a perfect storm that will manifest itself in an economic way.
Foremost among the forces in the approaching economic storm will be the unfunded liabilities for Social Security and Medicare.
On Monday, October 15, 2007, Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, a former teacher from New Jersey, became the first baby boomer to apply for government retirement benefits. Casey-Kirschling is part of the advance guard of a wave of retirees that will swamp the federal government in expenses and debt, and strain our health care system to the breaking point.
There will be fewer young people working to create wealth, and more non-working people consuming an increasingly vast portion of what wealth there is. More elderly people also inevitably means there will be more sick people, demanding more health care. As a result . . .
The federal government will lack the revenue to keep its Social Security and Medicare promises. The shortfall in funding is estimated variously at between $53 trillion and $80 trillion. We will have much more to say about this in the month's ahead. Suffice it to say that the spending policies of the federal government must change. They must change dramatically, and they must change now.
But they are not changing. President Bush has just proposed America's first $3 trillion budget. This budget projects near record deficits exceeding $400 billion dollars for each of the next two years, adding nearly one trillion dollars to the national debt in just twenty four months.
And more debt means that more of your income taxes will go to pay the interest on the debt, instead of current operating expenses.
The nature of the President's spending proposals also highlights the intersection between our government's war on our pocketbooks and its on-going war on the Bill of Rights. Our government has . . .
- Spent trillions projecting U.S. power around the globe . . .
- Provoking blowback in the form of terrorism, which . . .
- Has served as an excuse for the war on the Bill of Rights
The President's current budget proposal promises more of the same. It freezes most spending except for national defense, which will rise by 7% for the Pentagon and 11% for Homeland Security. The grand total for the defense budget is a whopping $515 billion, and this does not include spending for Iraq! But . . .
Who are we defending ourselves against, and why should it cost so much? No nation threatens us, nor could threaten us, even with a defense establishment half its current size. Terrorists do threaten us, but they are not fought with vast armies and tanks and planes and ships.
It seems to us that our defense establishment is perfectly tailored to fight enemies we do not have, and to create the conditions of occupation and aggressive forward projection that serve as a recruitment pitch for the enemies we do have.
We are paying through the nose to make ourselves less safe, to hasten bankruptcy, and to shred our Constitution. Meanwhile, our economy crumbles. Thus, we see the need to focus on economic and fiscal issues, while continuing to remain vigilant in our defense of the Bill of Rights.
Our "I am not afraid"
campaign provides the perfect vehicle to strike at all of these issues today, as we prepare to strike at the fiscal side of things more directly in the days and weeks ahead. This campaign asks you to send the following message to Congress . . .
“I am not afraid of terrorism, and I want you to stop being afraid on my behalf. Please start scaling back the official government war on terror. Please replace it with a smaller, more focused anti-terrorist police effort in keeping with the rule of law. Please stop overreacting. I understand that it will not be possible to stop all terrorist acts. I accept that. I am not afraid.”
You can use your personal comments to add that what really scares you is excessive government spending, and the danger this presents to our future. You could argue that our defense spending is excessive and poorly tailored to meet the real threats we face. Ask Congress to spend less, and more wisely.
You can send your message here.
Please also consider making a contribution toward our February budget. The balance we need to raise is about $5,600. You can make a donation, or start a monthly credit card pledge here.
Thank you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army.