Our future is being ruined by a “reckless fiscal theology”

November 3, 2006 | By | 4 Replies More

You might have to force yourself to work all the way through “America 101,” a recent article by Bill Moyers.  Those who care about America’s future will make it all the way through, despite the bad news. 

The article is yet another well-researched and well-expressed piece of writing by Moyers, who cautions that it is “the mark of a truly educated person is to be deeply moved by statistics.”  The many danger flags found in this article are, indeed, found in the form of distressing statistics. 

Connect the dots: Neglected schools, crumbling roads, permanent environmental “dead zones,” inadequate emergency systems, understaffed hospitals, library cutbacks, the lack of affordable housing, incompetent government agencies, whether it is FEMA or state bureaucracies charged with protecting helpless children – these are characteristic features of our public sector today.

What is the biggest danger to our country?  That we are recklessly going broke with no backup plan.  “America’s ship of state is floating in a sea of red ink.”  How broke?

In an important but largely neglected report in 2002, Kent Smetters and Jagadeesh Gokhale found that our fiscal gap – the difference (in present value) between the government’s future receipts and expenditures – assuming the same net tax rates going forward, was a staggering $45 trillion dollars. This is $4 trillion more than the entire capital stock of industry ($25.9 trillion) and total market capitalization ($14.3 trillion) in 2003.

This report was commissioned by the federal government, then suppressed (see the article for details). 

Without an healthy economy, it will be impossible to keep doing much of the things we take for granted.  Infrastructure, health care, education, keeping ourselves safe from criminals–especially the white collar criminals who are running our economy into the ground. 

We cannot any longer afford to be complacent. We need to take the message to the schools, to encourage the students to speak up for their own futures:

So I have a practical suggestion for those of you who are principals, superintendents, school board members, and teachers: Go home from here and revise your core curriculum. Yes, teach the three Rs; teach the ABCs; make sure your kids learn algebra, biology, and calculus. But teach them about the American Revolution – that it isn’t just about white men in powdered wigs carrying muskets in a time long gone. It’s about slaves who rose up and women who wouldn’t be denied and unwelcome immigrants and exploited workers who against great odds claimed the revolution as their own and breathed life into it.

Teach your kids they don’t have to accept what they have been handed. Teach them they are not only equal citizens under the law, but equal sons and daughters – heirs, everyone – of that revolution, and that it is their right to claim it as their own. Teach them to shake the torpor that has been prescribed for them by calculating elders and ideologues. Teach them there is only one force strong enough to counter the power of organized money today, and that is the power of organized people. They are waiting for this message; the kids in your schools have been made to feel as victims, powerless, ashamed, inferior, and disenfranchised. Tell them it’s a great big lie – despite their poverty, circumstance, and the long odds they’ve been handed, they have the power to make the world over again, in their image . . .

Put that in your core curriculum. It’s America 101.

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Category: American Culture, Corruption, Economy, Good and Evil, Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (4)

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  1. "Teach them there is only one force strong enough to counter the power of organized money today, and that is the power of organized people."

    Teach them also that the American Constitution was not written to restrain Americans. It was written to restrain government. Our founders made a division of powers in order to keep all branches weaker and use the other branches to check and balance. The money power has no place in our government. President Bush has long criticized the Supreme Court for "legislating from the bench" during the Democratic Party's rule. But he himself legislated from the White House as soon as he overruled Congress in the wiretapping scandal.

    Everyone who oversteps their bounds is quick to attempt to justify their actions. But each time it happens, the Constitution is marginalized, and someone's governmental power increases beyond the boundaries and restrictions set by the Constitution. Such tendencies are not restricted to any particular group but are led by carnally-minded men who are seeking more power.

    The people will continue to be led by those who most resemble the majority view until they become self-governing. As long as we expect government to deter crime, rather than to do justice, we will not see justice, and crime will continue to rise. As long as we fight the war on terror instead of addressing its root cause in the Israeli-Palestinian situation, we will continue to defend our own injustice–and Israeli injustice–until we are overwhelmed by bloodshed and bankrupted by the high cost of continuous war.

    When injustice is rampant, crime increases accordingly. When injustice is done internationally, war increases accordingly. There is an Age of Peace coming, but it will not come until we have become sickened on the flesh that we have desired to eat. Jesus is "the Desire of all nations" (Hag. 2:7), but at the present time, not many people know Him or His heart. Not many Christians really know Him. But I am confident that soon this will change, as His Spirit is poured out upon all the nations, and we begin to see that He has a love for all people, not just "us."

  2. Jason Rayl says:

    "Teach them also that the American Constitution was not written to restrain Americans. It was written to restrain government."

    But since here the People are, theoretically, the Government, this formulation is oxymoronic. Unrestrained individual liberty perpetuated the system of slavery until the Government (i.e. the People) ended it.

    The Constitution was written in such a way that it pits factions against each other, guaranteeing no one ideology ever holds sway for very long. In that sense, it is a very cynical and effective tool. It does end up restraining us all.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    I have very mixed feelings about America's federal budget deficit. On the one hand, the deficit is *currently* a relatively small percentage of America's overall national economy — the percentage is less, for example, than the percentage of debt that most American families are carrying, and they are (presumably) less creditworthy than is the USA. Accordingly, America is not on the ropes at this time.

    However, the future looks bad. Bush has deliberately created a budget deficit that will grow dramatically worse in future years — a combination of huge military spending and huge tax cuts. The goal has been to cause so much long-term damage to the federal economy that no one (especially the Democrats) will *ever* be able to fund desired social programs. The means to this end has been to raid the federal treasury and funnel huge quantities of money to rich, Republican-friendly individuals and big, Republican-friendly corporations (Big Oil, military contractors, etc.). In order to reverse this damage, Democrats would need to greatly increase taxes, which would be a boon to future Republican political candidates.

    This strategy — destroying the opposition by handing them a fiscal disaster — is hardly new. In ancient India, when a territorial chief would get too rich and powerful, the king would present the leader with a gift of a white elephant. White elephants were considered sacred, so they could not be worked and could not be killed, and since they were a gift from the king they could also not be regifted. However, elephants were very expensive to feed. So, the "gift" was like a stone around the neck of its recipient — a burden that would deplete his money and influence. It was also a message to the recipient, and to the other territorial leaders, that they should be careful to not get too powerful. The practice is the source of our modern expression "white elephant" for activities that cost a lot of money yet provide little return: President Bush's invasion of Iraq, for example.

  4. hogiemo says:

    What the right wants is to radically alter the structure of government to only deliver what it deems proper, that is to eliminate all non-military discretionary spending and the associated programs.

    When we have so much of the federal budget devoted to debt retirement that the only remaining issues are "entitlements", with the worst offenders of these to the right being Social Security and Medicaid. When those are eliminated and replaced with "private accounts" and "health savings accounts", the right will have achieved itsa greatest goal—the destruction of any vestige of FDR and his New Deal.

    America will not go back to the 1950's but, the 1850s with all vestiges of the modern liberal state having been stripped away and all of us left to the mercy of the facist corporatists which support the Republican party.

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