Oct 22, 2012
“I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such: because I think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well-administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.”– Ben Franklin
In my last article – Decline, Decay, Denial, Delusion & Despair – I tied my observations about the obesity epidemic after a weekend in Wildwood NJ to the overall decay and degradation of the American culture. I had further reflections, but the article was already too long. These musings centered upon the complete dysfunction of government and delusion of politicians who think they can create value by seizing money from taxpayers, creating programs and controlling our lives. The incompetence, arrogance, ineptitude and insanity of government officials at the Federal, State, and Local level are stunning to behold. A story from the local Wildwood newspaper crystallized why Wildwood and thousands of municipalities across the country continue to spiral downward as government assumes more hegemony over our economy and day to day lives. We need to ask ourselves whether we the people are getting better government service and efficiency today; with government spending at 35% to 40% of GDP, than we did in the 1950’s and early 1960’s when government spending was 20% to 25% of GDP.
I doubt that most people are getting 60% more value from our benevolent government today than they did in the 1950’s. The GDP of the United States was $300 billion in 1950. Today it is $15.6 trillion, a 5,200% increase in 62 years. Sounds pretty impressive until you realize that 4,500% was due to Federal Reserve scientifically created inflation. But don’t worry. Ben Bernanke’s assures us inflation is well contained. The 5,200% increase in GDP was blown away by the 9,100% increase in total government spending since 1950. When most people talk about government spending, they refer to the $3.8 trillion per year spent by the corrupt politicians and obtuse government bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. But, witless state and local politicians spend another $2.6 trillion of your tax dollars per year. The charts below detail the descent into a nanny state over the last six decades, where government has stepped in to the breach as the provider of healthcare, retirement savings, welfare, food stamps, housing, phones, cable, and SSDI if you get depressed by that non-existent inflation.
In the 1950’s defense accounted for a significant portion of government spending due to the Cold War and Korean conflict. Government did provide a safety net for the less fortunate during the 1950s, but people were also supported by their extended families, neighbors, churches, local communities, and charitable organizations. Medicare, Medicaid, and Food Stamps did not exist in the 1950s, and somehow, without government intervention, people were not dying in the streets or starving to death. The economy boomed as America was the manufacturer for the world. The middle class grew as blue collar jobs were plentiful and Americans took advantage of educational opportunity to move into white collar professions. Government did useful things like creating the Interstate highway system and beginning space exploration. What government did not do was create a class of dependent people who relied upon the government for their day to day existence. The transformation to a nanny state has not only created millions of non-productive members of society, but it can only be sustained by borrowing and passing the bill on to future unborn generations. This un-payable liability is the ultimate consequence of government spending outpacing GDP by 75% over the last six decades.
Johnny Can’t Add – Send Him to College
“The average American college fails… to achieve its ostensible ends. One failure… of the colleges lies in their apparent incompetence to select and train a sufficient body of intelligent teachers. Their choice is commonly limited to second-raters, for a man who really knows a subject is seldom content to spend his lifetime teaching it: he wants to function in a more active and satisfying way, as all other living organisms want to function. There are, of course, occasional exceptions to this rule, but they are very rare, and none of them are to be found in the average college. The pedagogues there incarcerated are all inferior men who really know very little about the things they pretend to teach, and are too stupid or too indolent to acquire more…. Being taught by them is roughly like being dosed in illness by third-year medical students.” – H.L. Mencken
I watched the two candidates, chosen for us by our overlords, debate this past week and blather on endlessly about education being the key to our future success. As you can see from the charts above, government spending on education has remained constant at 14% of total government spending. In 1950, education spending totaled 3.3% of GDP. Today it totals 5.6% of GDP. We are spending $900 billion per year on education and making our kids dumber by the day. There are 50 million government controlled public school students and $600 billion is spent to educate them. One wonders where the $12,000 per student per year is being allocated, considering the lack of critical thinking skills, ability to write a comprehensible sentence or even the most basic math skills of the dullards that are being matriculated into society. The majority of that funding couldn’t possibly be wasted on administration, bureaucracy, union pension and healthcare benefits, and supporting the 5,000 control freaks at the Department of Education and their $100 billion budget.
The rest of the $300 billion of government spending on education is being funneled towards luring young people into debt so they can attain a college degree that will land them a part time job at Ruby Tuesdays. The hundreds of billions in Federal student loans being syphoned from the taxpayers and handed out to unsuspecting dupes has resulted in $1 trillion of student loan debt outstanding, up from $600 billion in 2008 and $200 billion in 2000. This mountain of debt makes subprime mortgages look like a good risk. Since 2008, the Federal government has intentionally accelerated the disbursement of student loans in an effort to obfuscate the true level of unemployment in this country, as people enrolled in college are not considered unemployed. The looming bailout of this grand taxpayer theft will be colossal, as the delinquency rate of student loans not in their grace period already exceeds 18%. This should not come as a surprise, as even though 10 million more people have entered the working age population since 2008, there are 3 million less people employed than in 2008. Subsidizing kids who aren’t intelligent enough to graduate community college and shelling out billions to middle aged laid off blue collar dudes so they can get an on-line degree from the University of Phoenix or the myriad of other worthless blood sucking diploma mills, is a despicable waste of taxpayer money.
Politicians continuously churn out talking points about how they are going to fix education, when it has been government control and intervention in the education market that has devastated the youth of our country. The government controlled education system has produced a vast swath of non-critical thinking, non-questioning, vacuous, materialistic, iGadget addicted nimrods. By subsidizing students who don’t have the aptitude, intelligence or preparedness to achieve a college degree, the government has artificially created the large increases in tuition. False government subsidized demand combined with limited supply leads to higher prices. It happened with housing and it is happening in college education. Government bureaucrats are so proud of their achievement in driving college enrollment to a record high of 21.6 million, up from 15.4 million in 2000. The percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds enrolled in college has soared from 35.5% in 2000 to over 42.0% today. The trend of young people enrolling in college has been relentlessly higher. Based on this data, you would think the youth of our fine country are the best and brightest in history. You’d be wrong.
There is one slight problem with that storyline – FACTS. SAT scores for the high-school graduating class of 2012 fell in two of the test’s three sections, with Reading dropping to the lowest level in four decades on the college-entrance test. Only 43% of the 1.66 million private and public school students who took the college-entrance exam posted scores showing they are prepared to do well in college, according to data released by the College Board, the nonprofit group that administers the SAT. The SAT data mirror scores from the ACT college-entrance exam which showed about 75% of students failed to meet college-readiness standards. The graduating class of 2012 posted an average score of 496 (491 for public school seniors) in Reading, a one-point drop from 2011 and a 34-point decline since 1972. Writing dropped to 488 (481 for public school seniors) this year from 489 in 2011, the lowest score since that section was introduced in 2006. The average Math score was 514 (505 for public school seniors), virtually unchanged since 2007, but down by four points since 2006 and essentially flat over the last forty years. The decline from 1960 is even more dramatic.
To put it bluntly, the dumbest graduating high school class in forty years has the highest college enrollment percentage in history. To put the dreadful results detailed above in further perspective, there will be 3.4 million graduating seniors in the country. The 1.7 million seniors who took the SAT exam were the cream of the crop. Imagine how dumb the 50% who didn’t even attempt to take the exam must be. These results show that only 700,000 of all the graduating high school seniors (21%) are capable of getting a B minus or above in college. A critical thinking individual might ask why 42% of all 18 to 24 year olds are enrolled in college. And the answer is The Government. There are 13 million 18 to 24 year olds enrolled in college and at least 6 million of them should not be in college, based upon their actual intellectual abilities. Do you think tuition rates would be skyrocketing if these 6 million kids were not being subsidized with Federal government loans to occupy space at second rate colleges and for profit diploma mills across the land?
Where’s My Daddy
“Every third American devotes himself to improving and lifting up his fellow citizens, usually by force; the messianic delusion is our national disease.” – H.L. Mencken
While the government continues to promote, encourage and subsidize insane solutions to our educational dysfunction, they declare we must “invest” more in education. We need more teachers, more money, more programs, more standardized government created tests, and more government control. This drivel is peddled to the dumbed down masses by politicians and the mainstream media and who could possibly disagree? We must invest in our children. They are our future. Again, facts keep getting in the way of a good yarn. The United States spends $3,000 more per student than the average OECD country. We spend 75% more than South Korea per student.
Based on spending alone, our children should have the highest test scores on earth. We missed by that much. Sadly, the average American high school graduate doesn’t have the math skills to understand the chart below, so I’ll interpret it for them. We suck at math. Math is hard and hurts our brains, so we would rather twitter and text. Korea seems to be getting a nice bang for their buck. I wonder if it has anything to do with two parent families that care about education, good teachers, a rigorous curriculum, and hardworking students. I wonder if Korean schools concentrate on social justice, multi-culturalism, the joys of diversity, promoting ego enhancement and rewarding mediocrity. Despite being 2nd in the world in spending per student, our students ranked 25th out of 34 countries in math and science scores. We’ve kept this information from our children because we don’t want to hurt their self-esteem. Everyone gets a trophy in America just for showing up. The job of teachers and educators is to inspire children and create a desire to learn, question and think. Filling their minds with rote government sanctioned pabulum and drugged up on Adderall is not the way to create critical thinking young adults.
The government bureaucrats and teachers unions declare that if we just had more teachers all would be well. Our top notch, dedicated, overburdened union teachers are just being crushed by their unbearable 9 month workload, one month of holidays, snow days, and in-service days, the grind of an 8 hour day and an average class size of 16 students. The facts are that in 1965, when SAT Reading scores were 542, the average class size for a public school teacher was 25 students. The number of students per teacher has dropped by 36% since 1965 and the public school SAT Reading scores reached a new low of 491 in 2012. Imagine how low the scores could go if we just hire another million teachers. Let’s be truthful. The majority of public school teachers in this country are mediocre at best. They are glorified babysitters. Students are unmotivated and distracted by their social media techno-gadgets. Parents, if there are two parents, are consumed by working, commuting, and their own techno-obsessions. The slow descent into national imbecility is almost complete.
Let’s not beat around the bush. As students learn less and less, taxpayers pay more and more. The Department of Education was created in 1979. This year they will spend over $80 Billion of your tax dollars on programs that will fail again. Teachers’ unions demand higher wages, pension payouts, and healthcare benefits, while thwarting efforts to fire poor performers. The Department of Education has not improved education. Its mandates, programs, and subsidies have destroyed any incentive to improve the system. The Department of Education should be eliminated, but neither party would ever do it. As States and municipalities across the land are forced to acknowledge the $2 trillion of unfunded pension liabilities owed to government union employees cannot be honored, the end of collective bargaining with the teacher’s unions will arrive. Taxpayers will revolt and refuse to pay for the gold plated benefits of second-rate teachers that produce students who can’t read, write or add.
In the politically correct society we inhabit today, you are not allowed to state the other obvious reason for the non-stop slide in test scores and the educational underachievement of our precious cherubs. In 1960, only 8% of families with a child under 18 were single parent households. Today, that number is 30%. The percentage of children born out of wedlock in this country is 41%, with 72% of black children born out of wedlock. Again, you can thank the government. You get more of what you encourage and subsidize. Government control over our educational system has created a nation of useful idiots who are compliant and malleable to whatever storyline their overlords announce through their media mouthpieces.
It’s no accident that in 1960, according to the Pew Research Center, five years before President Lyndon Johnson signed into law his War on Poverty, 61% of black adults were married. By 2008, this was down to 32%. In 1960, 2% of black children had a parent that had never been married. By 2008, this was up to 41%. The results speak for themselves:
By encouraging dependency and reliance upon the all-powerful government, the motivation to educate yourself, get married before having children, work hard, and pull yourself out of poverty is diminished. Self-reliance and responsibility for your own life is lessened because the government is there to provide the basic needs of all. It sounds wonderful until you consider the $100 trillion bill being passed to future generations so we can sustain our nanny state today. After decades of ever increasing government control over our lives and the accumulation of a Himalayan mountain of debt, why anyone would conclude that more government is the solution is beyond my comprehension.
May I Have Another Voucher Please?
“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable…” – H.L. Mencken
This brings me to the story in the Cape May County Herald that captures the insanity of government and how government solutions create unintended consequences that require more government solutions, ultimately creating such havoc and disarray that intelligent people just give up and move somewhere else. The story detailed all of the undercover operations of the Middle Township police department and the 77 arrests they made in Rio Grande for narcotics distribution, robberies, and assaults over the last year and a half. Rio Grande is a backwater town of 2,670 people living in a 3 square mile area, a few miles from Wildwood. One might wonder how a sleepy tiny seashore town could have such a crime epidemic. Well this one sentence from the article provides a clue:
With the majority of the twelve motels in the township that accept social services vouchers lining the highway, Route 47 seems to be a hotbed for crime in the township.
It seems the community of Rio Grande supports the 43 Middle Township police officers with a tremendous level of job security. The police were confused as to why so much crime was centered at the year-round motels in Rio Grande. It seems their fellow government associates like to play hot potato with convicted criminals. The State Department of Corrections paroles the lowlife felons and puts them on a bus back to the county in which they were sentenced. The Cape May County Social Services then uses taxpayer money to provide a free housing voucher to the criminals whose families refuse to take them back. The dilapidated motels that have to accept these social services vouchers in order to survive in this terrible economy then end up filled with drug dealing troublemaking delinquents. In case you were considering a nice vacation stay at a Rio Grande motel, you should know there are currently 24 parolees living in Rio Grande motels as well as 20 Megan’s Law offenders. I bet they have some wild parties on Friday nights. I’m sure this news will do wonders for property values in Rio Grande. I was thrilled to find out that my home away from home – Wildwood – is the only place with more motels accepting these social services housing vouchers, with 15. That may help illuminate the reasons for the ten blocks of squalor that make up the heart of downtown Wildwood.
The story actually gets better. Governmental dysfunction and insanity has been taken to a new level, as described by the chief of police:
“What we found out with this funding, and this is particularly disturbing, is that the only way someone’s funding can be revoked is if they are involved activities that result in their own homelessness,” said Leusner. He gave an example of a resident at a motel that might commit a theft, break into someone’s car or shoplift and be arrested. If let go on their own recognizance, that person still receives a voucher. “They can’t revoke their funding,” said the chief. “I think that’s wrong. If you commit a crime and you victimize someone in that general area, your funding should be revoked.”
So the taxpayer has already footed the bill for a criminal’s stay in prison, pays for their free housing while still making their own mortgage payment, pays for the added police personnel to arrest them for their new crimes, and still pays for their housing after they are arrested again for committing crimes in their community. I’m sure Paul Krugman would see this as a wonderful example of Keynesian economics propelling the nation’s GDP. Government spending on housing vouchers results in more employment of police officers, revenue for motel owners, revenue for the construction industry to repair the motels after the drug crazed parties, revenue for the drug dealers, revenue for security firms and gun dealers as citizens scramble to protect themselves, and ultimately more employment of prison guards when the derelicts are eventually sent back to prison. It’s a government created dysfunctional cycle of insanity.
The cherry on top of this atrocious example of a bloodsucking government destroying its host is what happened when motel owners met with police and agreed to police the situation themselves. The motel owners immediately contacted Social Services whenever one of their parasite guests were seen doing or dealing drugs and would tell them they didn’t want them in their motel. Due to governmental confidentiality rules Social Services could not inform the police of this information. These government drones would then place the drug addict at another motel two blocks away without informing them about the prior complaints. This is the ultimate result of government run amuck. By putting complete faith in the wisdom of politicians and bureaucrats, we are left with a system that is consuming itself and what little remains of our national wealth.
Liberty & Critical Thinking
“All government, of course, is against liberty.” – H.L. Mencken
Nothing in this world gets better as it gets bigger. The bigger an organization becomes, the less efficient, less responsive, less fair, less compassionate and less functional it becomes. Government attracts mediocre, low IQ, power hungry, narrow minded, paper pushing, rules oriented, dimwits who think they can run your life better than yourself. This applies across the board from the highest levels in Washington D.C. to your local school board. There is no problem that another law, statute, program, or initiative, funded by your tax dollars or future generations, that a politician or government pencil pusher doesn’t think they can’t solve. They are just too dense to anticipate the unintended consequences of their arrogant belief in their own wisdom.
Government programs created in the 1960s created a culture of dependency, government control, relentlessly higher debt, materialism, and willful ignorance. As government has grown in power, the people have sunk to the level of feudal serfs living in indentured servitude to their overlords. The government overlords and their banking and corporate co-conspirators created the educational system that produces the flaccid, oblivious, pliable dolts that make up the majority of the populace. As we’ve seen, government subsidization of dysfunctional lifestyles and dreadful government education provided to children from these households creates a corrupt, criminal culture that engenders calls for more government programs to fix the problems created by previous government programs. This is why government spending has far outpaced GDP growth over the last six decades. It’s a cycle of dysfunction and ultimately destruction, as the crony capitalists and government parasites suck the remaining life from our decaying economic system.
It always comes back to who benefits from such a dysfunctional, dishonest, insane, intolerable system. If the population had not been dumbed down through our educational system and was capable of critical thinking they would realize the corporate media propaganda used to turn them into materialistic, narcissistic consumers, along with easy access to consumer debt has lured them into debt servitude and impoverishment, while their overlords are enriched and empowered. Our education system sucks because our overlords need it to suck.
“There’s a reason that education sucks, and it’s the same reason it will never ever ever be fixed. It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it. Be happy with what you’ve got. Because the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners now, the big, wealthy, business interests that control all things and make the big decisions.
I’ll tell you what they don’t want—they don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interest.” – George Carlin
The question remains. Can a small minority of critical thinking citizens lead a revolution that topples the existing social order and restores the Republic to its founding principles of liberty, self-responsibility, civic duty, and mutual obligation to future generations? The original Ron Paul led Tea Party movement was hijacked and defused by the overlords. The original OWS movement, with its focus on the criminal Wall Street banks, was crushed through brute force and corporate media propaganda. The few remaining citizens capable of critical thought need to decide whether they will fight for the country we should be or bow down to the overlords and accept that we have become so corrupted as to need a despotic government, being incapable of any other. The choice is ours.
This article was posted: Monday, October 22, 2012 at 2:27 am