The constant bad news about the sorry
state of the nation has left me feeling like a cartoon character being pummeled
in one frame after another in a comic strip, as if balloons are floating over
my head containing the words: Pow! Bam! Bonk! Zap!
Pow! Chris Cox and Bill Archer recently
punched me in the jaw with their joint commentary in the Nov. 27 edition of the
Wall Street Journal: “Why 16 Trillion Only Hints at the True U.S. Debt.”
Cox is the former chairman of the House
Republican Policy Committee and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Archer
is the former chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee. Both are now
in the consulting business and no doubt making a lot of money advising clients
on how to deal with onerous legislation that they passed while in office.
Of course, when they were in office, they
didn’t stand on top of the Capitol dome and threaten to jump if Congress didn’t
stop buying votes by giving free stuff to the masses and to their
crony-capitalist buddies. Patriots they are not.
Still, what they wrote in their
commentary is true. They said that if the government confiscated all of the
gross income of taxpayers, plus all of the net income of corporations, “it
wouldn’t be nearly enough to fund the over $8 trillion per year in the growth
liabilities [primarily for entitlements].”
Yet in spite of this sobering and
potentially fatal fact, the media moo-cow herd has been tricked once again into
mooing about the fiscal cliff instead of the real problem of the national
government being broke and staying broke unless it breaks its implied contracts
about entitlements and welfare. Dumb as cattle, reporters, pundits and editors
moo in unison as they are herded to the slaughter house. Dumber yet, most of
the American people follow in their hoof prints and sophomoric manure,
unaware that they are soon to be ground into hamburger, or maybe Soylent Green.
If ignorance is bliss, then the American
people should be the most blissful people on the planet.
Bam! The next blow came from a
front-page story about federal tuition loans that also ran in the Wall Street
Journal (Nov. 28). It was even more troubling than the Cox/Archer commentary,
because it showed the insidious nature of government, the desperation and
gullibility of the masses, and the brilliant but evil strategy of the Obama
administration to make everyone beholden to them.
Here are some of the depressing
statistics: 93% of student loans are now made by the government, which,
according to the Journal, “asks nothing or little about borrowers’ ability to
repay, or about what sort of education then intend to pursue.” (Sounds like
government housing policies.) Student-loan debt rose by 4.6% in the third
quarter alone and now totals $956 billion, 11% of which is delinquent.
The administration has already put a
policy in place to forgive student loans after 20 years. No doubt, plans are
being hatched to accelerate the forgiveness as a backdoor way of making college
tuition free, as it is in Greece.
Of course once it’s free, there would be rioting in the streets by spoiled-brat
college students if the government ever tried to reinstate a tuition charge.
Also, the inevitable result of college being free would be that a degree would
become devalued, just as a public high school degree has been devalued.
The Journal article followed the standard
media formula of including sob stories about people who took out student loans
but can’t repay them. It’s always amazing and instructive that the individuals
featured in such stories have no apparent shame or embarrassment over their
indebtedness and no regret that they will be sticking their neighbors with the
One featured woman had filed for
bankruptcy three times and was unemployed when she took out tuition loans for
her son through the government’s Parents Plus program. Her mother co-signed
the loan. Unemployed and disabled, she owes $184,500 on the loans. In
addition, her son owes approximately $45,000. Her monthly tuition repayment of
$1,985 exceeds her $1,600 monthly disability payment. (Perhaps her disability
is legit, but there has been a huge increase of enrollees in the Social
Security disability program, or SSI, many of which are fraudulent.)
Another woman stopped paying the $2,900
outstanding balance of the student loan she received to take on-line courses at
the University of
Phoenix. In a sign of
the times, she is married to a tattoo “artist” and earns less than $20,000 a
year in an entry-level job at a construction company. Her credit history
before getting the loan included filing for bankruptcy, having her car
repossessed, and amassing several thousand dollars in credit-card debt.
Bonk! Still another blow came from an
op-ed in the same edition of the Wall Street Journal by Rob Green, the
executive director of the national Council of Chain Restaurants. It described
the awful consequences of Congress enacting the Renewable Fuel Standard in
2005, which mandated the use of corn-based ethanol in gasoline. The mandate
requires that 15 billion gallons of ethanol be produced annually by 2015. This
in turn will require 5.3 billion bushels of corn per year, or more than 40% of
the 2011 corn crop. Corn prices are estimated to increase by 27% and cause a
ripple effect in the price of meat and other commodities. According to a study
commissioned by the author’s restaurant association (and possibly biased), the
federal mandate increases costs by approximately $18,000 per year per
Zap! In the same Wall Street Journal
issue once again, the weekly columnist Holman Jenkins lambasted his fellow
journalists for their willingness to accept obvious fallacies. He used as an
example how most of the moo-cow herd got it wrong about the Hostess
bankruptcy. They made it seem as if the troubles stemmed from the bakery union
walking out over bad management and greedy investors. The true story, he
wrote, is that Teamster featherbedding and restrictive work rules stuck it to
the bakery union and to management.
Unfortunately, my reading habits go way
beyond the Wall Street Journal and include, on both the right and the left,
other periodicals, scholarly studies, my own primary research, and books on
history, philosophy, economics, finance, and politics. As such, I spend my
days pummeled and bloodied from the never-ending bad news and dire outlook for
the nation: Pow! Bam! Bonk! Zap!
It’s time for me to have a life of bliss by smartening up and becoming ignorant. Like a lot of Americans, I’m going to start getting all of my news and information from the Today Show.
Mencken’s Ghost is the nom de plume of an Arizona writer who can be reached at email@example.com.