Literature, Poetry, and Books
How can the executive branch not send out Social Security checks when Social Secuirty owns billions on its own. According to Thomas Saving, that won't even increase our debt:
By law the Treasury is bound to redeem any bonds presented to it by the Social Security Administration. And when the Treasury does, total government debt subject to the debt limit falls by the amount of the redemption--thus freeing up the Treasury's ability to issue new bonds equal in amount to the redeemed Trust Fund bonds.
Therefore, meeting Social Security obligations in August, September and all future months in this fashion would add nothing to the gross government debt subject to the debt limit. Not, at least, until the $2.4 trillion Trust Fund is exhausted in 2038.
Update. I heard from a political economics expert on this issue. He noted that we could end the entire debt crisis simply by canceling the debts the U.S. government owes to Social Security, [Since they are debts to ourselves, as I understand the logic] and admitting that the program is a transfer program from current workers to current retirees. Not going to happen, politically, he noted.
Update 2: Michael McConnell weighs in on Social Security payments from the trust fund.
George Leef points us to a debate about the future of law schools. He argues "that the bar exam should be open to anyone, not just those who have graduated from an ABA-accredited law school. That would lead to far more competition by opening up non-law-school modes of legal education."
If the purpose of the bar exam is to make sure that would-be lawyers know enough to practice, why is law school necessary?
His point about allowing for diversity among law schools is also well taken. Why must they all follow the three year model?
Opening the bar exam might have interesting reprecussions. Would a smart student at Harvard Law school who feels the financial burden of tuition (and perhaps is simply bored with school), quit after a year or two and then take the bar. He could say he "attended" Harvard Law school, albeit without graduating. That might be something of a return to the thrilling days of yesteryear, when many students at elite schools regarded them partly as finishing schools, rather than as places for specialized learning. In that model, taking a degree was not always necessary.
The consequences of such a change on the fortunes of our friends the law professoriat would be intereseting, to say the least.
Listen to Representative Mo Brooks' response to a question from MSNBC's Contessa Brewer. Then think about the real significance of her question, which reflects the Progressive belief that one must be an "expert" to hold valid opinions.
Every time I teach a course or give a talk on the seemingly irresistible rise of Progressivism in the early twentieth century, a dismayed student inevitably asks whether anyone at the time spoke out in defense of the Constitution and the principles of the American Founding. The answer, of course, is "yes," but with little sustained success. Still, Jonathan O'Neill has provided a very useful account of these "First Conservatives" in a recent Heritage Foundation First Principles essay. O'Neill summarizes the anti-Progressive arguments of Irving Babbitt, Frank L. Owsley, and Albert Jay Nock and their contributions to later forms of Conservatism and Libertarianism, but also identifies their common defect - a rejection of the natural rights doctrine of the American Founding. There were some Conservatives, however, such as David Jayne Hill and Elihu Root, who offered a more principled opposition to Progressivism. Hill was a founder of the National Association for Constitutional Government, which published The Constitutional Review, distributed pocket-sized copies of the Constitution, and even persuaded the American Bar Association "to help lawyers communicate constitutional principles to popular audiences at the local level." Unlike many other Conservatives at the time, the NACG defended the Constitution on the grounds that it was essential for the security of natural rights. In the work of the NACG and others, O'Neill identifies a useful model for the modern Conservative opposition to Liberal Progressivism. Definitely worth a careful read.
Apparently the latest criticism of Michelle Bachmann is that she gets migraine headaches. That hardly disqualifies someone from high office. After all, Thomas Jefferson suffered from the same ailment.
Meanwhile, Bill's post below points out that "Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution has made a similar case, arguing that a nation whose government has 'most of its budget on automatic pilot and a fifth of its expenses unpaid for' has abandoned 'fiscal democracy.' That is, all of the budgetary decisions that matter were made decades ago when social insurance programs were created."
That reminds me of Jefferson's belief that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living, and "that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it." For one generation to bind another with debts and other obligations to pay is for one set of people to tax another without their consent. According to Mr. Jefferson, that is a version of involuntary servitude. Our entitlement programs are moving close to that line, if it has not already crossed it.
Angelo Codevilla's latest:
His haughty demeanor, his stilted language when off the teleprompter, his cultural likes and dislikes, bespeak an upbringing in an environment at once so upscale and so leftist that it makes him almost a foreigner to ordinary Americans. . . .
Consistent with the Barack Obama we know, however, are his real family, his real upbringing, and his real choices of profession and associates. His mother's parents, who raised him, seem to have been cogs in the U.S. government's well-heeled, well-connected machine for influencing the world, whether openly ("gray influence") or covertly ("black operations"). His mother spent her life and marriages, and birthed her children, working in that machine. For paradigms of young Barack's demeanor, proclivities, opinions, language, and attitudes one need look no further than the persons who ran the institutions that his mother and grandparents served--e.g., the Ford Foundation, the United States Information Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency--as well as his chosen mentors and colleagues. It is here, with these people and institutions, that one should begin to unravel the unknowns surrounding him. . . .
[Barack] Obama [Sr.] was housed at the University of Hawaii's East-West Center facility funded by the Asia Foundation, itself funded by CIA.
Anyone and everyone knew that Barack Obama, Sr., and others like him had been brought to America to be influenced. . . . Ann's second child was born in a marriage to another such person at the East-West Center. The Indonesian government had sent Lolo Soetoro to the East-West Center as a "civilian employee of the Army." . . .
Ann ran a "micro-financing" project, financed by the Ford Foundation, in Indonesia's most vulnerable areas. Supervising the funding at Ford in the late '60s was Peter Geithner, whose son would eventually serve hers as U.S. secretary of the treasury. In addition to the Ford Foundation, the list of her employers is a directory of America's official, semi-official, and clandestine organs of influence: the United States Information Agency, the United States Agency for International Development, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank. While running a project for five years in Pakistan, she lived in Lahore's Hilton International. Nothing small time, never mind hippyish.
In sum, though the only evidence available is circumstantial, Barack Obama, Jr.'s mother, father, stepfather, grandmother, and grandfather seem to have been well connected, body and soul, with the U.S. government's then extensive and well-financed trans-public-private influence operations.
So President Obama is threatening to veto a small ball bill, that raises the debt limit and has some modest cuts. And it might be that that's the only kind of bill that can pass the House of Representatives.
Perhaps I was correct the other day when I suggested that this is not the best time to have a big fight over the size and job of government. As Rich Lowry concedes, "I may have vastly over-estimated Republican leverage on the debt limit."
If the smallball version can pass both the House and Senate, it's certainly worth sending to the President's desk. If it gets there, that will make life very interesting.
Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution has made a similar case, arguing that a nation whose government has "most of its budget on automatic pilot and a fifth of its expenses unpaid for" has abandoned "fiscal democracy." That is, all of the budgetary decisions that matter were made decades ago when social insurance programs were created. If those big programs are forever "off the table" then there will never be revenues for new programs to meet new challenges. Sawhill estimates that federal taxes will have to double or triple in the next 40 years just to fulfill the inviolable promises made by Medicare and Social Security. Not only would such taxes be intolerable in themselves, but they would obliterate all prospects for the government to do anything else on the liberal wish list.
If you are a progressive, you should be concerned about [the] debt and deficit just as much as if you're a conservative. And the reason is because if the only thing we're talking about over the next year, two years, five years, is debt and deficits, then it's very hard to start talking about how do we make investments in community colleges so that our kids are trained, how do we actually rebuild $2 trillion worth of crumbling infrastructure.
If you care about making investments in our kids and making investments in our infrastructure and making investments in basic research, then you should want our fiscal house in order, so that every time we propose a new initiative somebody doesn't just throw up their hands and say, "Ah, more big spending, more government."
Never mind the First Amendment as it has been incorporated through the Fourteenth. Herman Cain, who claims to so love our Founders, who do well to think about the principles behind one on the noblest documents written by the Father of our country.
The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy--a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.