Fewer than 100 years ago, as recently as 1929, federal, state, and local government in the United States taxed and spent only 10 cents out of every dollar, seven cents at the state and local level and three cents in Washington. Today Washington taxes and spends 25 cents out of every dollar (though 40 percent of this money is borrowed), and state and local government takes 15 cents, for a grand total of 40 percent of GDP. Add in compliance and out-of-pocket costs of federal regulations, estimated at $1.8 trillion annually, and government is costing us 50% of our income.
50 percent of GDP is well in excess of the 18 to 20 percent that economists and researchers worldwide consider the target for a nation that wants to maximize economic growth and job creation. The well-being of every citizen is enhanced and assured when economic growth is maximized: The larger the pie, the more there is for everyone.
Here are five kitchen-cleaning steps that must be taken before we can start serving a larger pie to all Americans.
Senator Ted Cruz is a “fraud" and a "medicine man selling goods he knows are phony goods." -- New York Republican Congressman Peter King.
Is New York Republican Congressman Peter King a political fraud?
What exactly is the endgame for GOP moderates?
What is the strategy for Ted Cruz’s GOP opponents when it comes to the age old GOP mantra of limited government?
Having raised the question repeatedly about Senator Cruz, (in the words of one brave anonymous GOP senator, “Cruz doesn’t have a strategy -– he never had a strategy, and could never answer a question about what the endgame was”) it’s time to turn the tables and ask of the Cruz critics: What next in your supposed fight for limited government? What is your “endgame,” your “strategy”?
Or are the Cruz/Lee GOP critics themselves just selling “snake oil” (in the words of the anonymous senator again to the Republican/conservative base)?
George Orwell: A Life in Letters
Selected and Annotated by Peter Davison
(Norton, 542 pages, $35)
HOW MUCH OF the real George Orwell can be found in this new collection of letters is an open question. “Good prose,” he once wrote, “is like a window pane.” The good writer, he told us, will strive mightily to efface all artifice from any piece of writing, leaving behind only his gleaming sentences and the thoughts and images of which they are the direct and flawless expression.
Among the happiest people in Venezuela after President Maduroexpelled the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires and two other diplomats was Henrique Capriles, the principal opponent in the presidential election last April. The White House had put out public “feelers” toward improving relations just before Hugo Chavez’s death. The victory of Nicolas Maduro, hand picked by Chavez, made the earlier American move appear to be an unnecessary advantage to the new president in the eyes of his former opponent, Capriles.
From Henrique Capriles’s view Maduro benefited by the Americans’ short-sighted action even though there clearly was to be no change in the previous Chavista anti-U.S. policy. Maduro officials stepped up their charges that Capriles maintained regular communications with the U.S. and other Western embassy representatives. There was nothing new in these complaints that previously had been a staple of the Venezuelan government while Chavez was alive. What was new was that they had been pressed forward at all by the new Maduro regime.
If the continued existence of mathematics depended on the ability of the Republicans to defend the proposition that two plus two equals four, that would probably mean the end of mathematics and of all the things that require mathematics.
Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, epitomized what has been wrong with the Republicans for decades when he emerged from a White House meeting last Wednesday, went over to the assembled microphones, briefly expressed his disgust with the Democrats’ intransigence and walked on away.
We are in the midst of a national crisis, immediately affecting millions of Americans and potentially affecting the kind of country this will become if Obamacare goes into effect — and yet, with multiple television network cameras focused on Speaker Boehner as he emerged from the White House, he couldn’t be bothered to prepare a statement that would help clarify a confused situation, full of fallacies and lies.
You wouldn’t expect a ticket for a play about Lyndon Johnson tofetch $220 on Craigslist. The demand owes less to LBJ than to the man playing him on stage — Bryan Cranston.
In a career that has spanned more than 30 years, Cranston has attained A-list status in Hollywood for his portrayal of Walter White/Heisenberg on the groundbreaking TV series Breaking Bad, which concluded its six-season run a little over a week ago.
Now at the pinnacle of his profession, Cranston has the luxury to pick any project of his choosing and he has chosen to take to the stage to play LBJ in All the Way, which is near completion of a sold-out, month-long run at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
More than three years ago, at a $50,000-per-couple fundraiser (or $15,000 per person if you skipped the photo-op) at the five-star St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan, President Obama was in a feisty and confident mood.
In office less than two years, Obama told the well-heeled gathering of supporters that he had put things back on the road after the Republicans had crashed the economy: “After they drove the car into the ditch, made it as difficult as possible for us to pull it back, now they want the keys back. No! You can’t drive! We don’t want to have to go back in the ditch. We just got the car out.”
In fact, the economy for most Americans remained in a ditch that night — and it’s still in a ditch, stuck in the slowest recovery since World War II.
American “households still have not come close to regaining the purchasing power they had before the financial crisis began,” explained New York Times reporter Robert Pear, citing household income figures in a new study by two former Census Bureau officials.
When technology — or anything — becomes all the rage, it’s only en vogue thing to do is speak out against it. So for years I’ve interacted with social media sites, mostly Facebook, Twitter sparingly, determined to benefit from the good they offer, reject the bad, and move forward without becoming that curmudgeonly person who harps on about the dangers of technology.
Alas, I’ve succumbed.
Facebook offers good qualities as a virtual institution, which is really what it’s become. It provides a way people can keep informed and connected, laughing and crying. This can be a good thing. I’ve often discovered important news or personal anecdotes that have saved me from embarrassment (It is? Happy Birthday then!). It’s also good to peek in on the lives of some friends, if just to know they’ve recently gotten a new job or lost a loved one.