Tuesday, September 23, 2008

President Bush really is the worst spender

Bush really is the least fiscally responsible president the United States has ever had

It is often claimed that George W. Bush is the biggest spender. The numbers used to prove it are the current deficit figures, which form a very poor basis for comparison based on the fluctuating value of the dollar.

However, it is still true. Taking the National Debt figures from the United States treasury, one can calculate the deficit for each year. The deficits were then converted to 1794 constant dollars based on the value of gold for each year. The four years of each president’s term were added together to determine the overall per-term deficit or surplus.

It is necessary to consider each term separately because otherwise a two term president would default to a worse spender than a single term president given nearly equal deficits for each.

The figures for each president are as follows:

-99,776,642,401.45 Bush Jr Term 1
-96,408,875,337.91 F Roosevelt Term 3
-90,255,665,689.94 Bush Sr
-63,508,876,217.31 Clinton Term 1
-60,226,092,484.91 Bush Jr Term 2
-55,620,058,613.77 Reagan Term 2
-37,083,571,857.12 Nixon
-34,590,184,231.84 Reagan Term 1
-31,541,432,371.56 Clinton Term 2
-30,632,171,603.66 Nixon / Ford
-30,513,251,062.43 F Roosevelt / Truman
-25,169,881,466.50 Carter
-22,277,279,516.03 Wilson Term 2
-19,947,226,430.95 L. Johnson
-14,907,433,625.97 Kennedy / Johnson
-9,064,312,546.96 F Roosevelt Term 1
-8,064,456,770.95 Eisenhower Term 1
-7,979,119,959.91 Eisenhower Term 2
-5,516,035,432.17 F Roosevelt Term 2
-4,087,245,363.90 Truman
-2,006,485,523.53 Hoover
-1,750,942,082.69 Lincoln Term 1
-845,903,480.62 Lincoln / Johnson
-738,552,212.80 Wilson Term 1
-366,738,464.61 McKinley
-362,676,610.68 T Roosevelt Term 2
-241,610,193.89 Taft
-181,124,526.17 Cleveland Term 2
-126,862,797.32 T Roosevelt Term 1
-82,125,195.84 Madison Term 2
-32,869,749.98 Buchanan
-23,583,209.73 Polk
-19,154,479.48 Taylor / Fillmore
-18,210,776.96 Tyler
-6,534,247.41 Washington Term 2
-3,535,830.77 VanBuren
-3,450,826.53 Jefferson Term 1
-1,764,448.14 Washington Term 1
745,788.38 Monroe Term 2
785,877.72 John Adams
19,986,580.07 Madison Term 1
21,230,802.91 Jefferson Term 2
22,794,733.90 John Quincy Adams
24,284,722.13 Jackson Term 2
34,226,803.81 Pierce
36,319,367.59 Monroe Term 1
43,152,808.69 Jackson Term 1
59,905,475.18 Hayes
72,820,997.22 Grant Term 2
104,415,146.68 Harrison
137,703,187.95 Cleveland Term 1
289,746,134.16 Garfield / Arthur
408,388,139.06 Grant Term 1
3,647,830,832.07 Coolidge
4,686,460,530.01 Harding / Coolidge

George W. Bush’s second term is not yet finished, and yet it is already in fifth place for cumulative constant dollar deficits. His numbers are comparatively reduced due to the price of gold shooting up during his term.

There is a definite correlation between how recently the president served and how large the cumulative constant value deficit is. Every president during or after the Great Depression is represented at the top of the list of deficit spenders, along with Wilson for the costs incurred during World War One. The top ten includes all recent presidents except Carter, but also includes FDR for his Word War Two spending. Both of Clinton’s terms are in the top ten, even though Clinton ran the smallest deficit in recent history during his last year in office. The other three years of deficits were enough to place the term in the top ten.

The last administration to have a cumulative surplus is the Coolidge administration. The biggest saver of all times is the Harding / Coolidge administration, ranked by historians as one of the worst presidential administrations of all time. Although not reflected in the chart, the last president to actually run a surplus was Eisenhower, but the cumulative deficits put his terms into the negative.

In the nineteenth century there was a more consistent effort to reduce the debt, excepting during wars. Presidents of both parties worked to run surpluses to that the debt may be reduced.

Counter arguments to these figures could be using federal budget figures instead of federal deficit figures, and using other means of adjusting to a constant dollar.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Campaign for Liberty

Ron Paul attempted to get the four leading third party candidates together at a joint press conference. The concept was that there were certain principles that all four were supposed to agree upon, although for different reasons, and most importantly the principle that third parties should be heard.

Unfortunately Bob Barr did not show, snubbing Ron Paul’s effort. If he had been there the message of the Campaign for Liberty would be unmistakable. The candidates that did show also received criticism for doing so. Chuck Baldwin is criticized for sharing a stage with Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader. Alan Maass of the Socialist Worker newsletter objected to Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader for sharing a stage with Ron Paul and Chuck Baldwin. Baldwin supporter are sniping at Barr supporters over who is better fit to carry Ron Paul’s torch into the general election.

That is not the message Ron Paul was trying to send.

The message is not that supporters of one candidate should vote for the other candidates. The message is not that the four invited candidates are equally good. The message is actually pretty clear, and would be more so had Barr done the right thing and attended this joint press conference.

The message is as follows:

Take any average American voter. Take stock of what he wants of the government, what he wants a politician to do. It is more likely that said voter will find one of those four candidates to be in greater agreement than said voter would be with Barack Obama or John McCain. The four candidates on the stage collectively represent the different poles of political opinion in their four different directions than Obama or McCain can hope to.

The message continues:

Third party voters shouldn’t vote against their conscience by supporting a candidate with whom they truly disagree. They should vote for a candidate for whom they truly agree. The obligation third party supporters have towards each other is assistance in getting the candidates on the ballot so that the American people can have a choice. Third party supporters are not required to vote for each others candidates or donate to each others parties. They should assist in every other way.

Given that message, there is no reason at all for supporters of the fourth candidate to fight, beyond the fact that Barr apparently does not fully support the four points:

Foreign Policy: The Iraq War must end as quickly as possible with removal of all our soldiers from the region. We must initiate the return of our soldiers from around the world, including Korea, Japan, Europe and the entire Middle East. We must cease the war propaganda, threats of a blockade and plans for attacks on Iran, nor should we re-ignite the cold war with Russia over Georgia. We must be willing to talk to all countries and offer friendship and trade and travel to all who are willing. We must take off the table the threat of a nuclear first strike against all nations.

Privacy: We must protect the privacy and civil liberties of all persons under US jurisdiction. We must repeal or radically change the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the FISA legislation. We must reject the notion and practice of torture, eliminations of habeas corpus, secret tribunals, and secret prisons. We must deny immunity for corporations that spy willingly on the people for the benefit of the government. We must reject the unitary presidency, the illegal use of signing statements and excessive use of executive orders.

The National Debt: We believe that there should be no increase in the national debt. The burden of debt placed on the next generation is unjust and already threatening our economy and the value of our dollar. We must pay our bills as we go along and not unfairly place this burden on a future generation.

The Federal Reserve: We seek a thorough investigation, evaluation and audit of the Federal Reserve System and its cozy relationships with the banking, corporate, and other financial institutions. The arbitrary power to create money and credit out of thin air behind closed doors for the benefit of commercial interests must be ended. There should be no taxpayer bailouts of corporations and no corporate subsidies. Corporations should be aggressively prosecuted for their crimes and frauds.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Lesson of 9/12/2001

As the anniversary of 9/11 arrives and then leaves, people reflect on the lessons of 9/11. What specifically are those lessons? "There are people out there who wish to do us harm" is an oft used answer, and an accurate one. "That we should defend ourselves from them" is the same. "That there are consequences to our policies in the Middle East that result in people wanting to do us harm" is not a common answer to the question, although it should be.

Some of the lessons of 9/11 were learned. Others were mis-learned, which caused people to exacerbate the policies that led to the attack in the first place. Objecting to those policies has caused people to say "Have you learned nothing from 9/11? Do you want the terrorists to win?" That is not the lesson of 9/11.

The lessons of 9/11 are important. So are the lessons of 9/12.

What are the lessons of 9/12? That life goes on. The earth continued its spin on its axis as it continued to orbit the sun. People continued to wake up in the morning, go to work, come home in the evening, and then go back to bed. Life goes on.

Another lesson of 9/12 is that because life goes on, we have time to calm down and make rational decisions based upon traumatic events that happened in the past. For some it takes longer to get over trauma than others, but in all cases passions subside and thought can take over.

Taking the time to recover so that we can think clearly instead of simply reacting emotionally, we can come up with ways to make ourselves safer from terrorists. Learning the lessons of "blowback" would be a great place to start. It is not "blaming the US" or "wanting the terrorists to win" (both emotional responses) to change any actions of ours that might have caused or contributed to 9/11.

Few people have learned the lessons of 9/12. The existence of the War on Terror and the Department of Homeland Security are a testament to some people never leaving that day. For them life did not go on, they are stuck in one moment. They never learned that it is possible to move on and think clearly about what happened.

It is time for everyone to learn the lessons of 9/12. It is time to get rid of the DHS and end the War on Terror, because it is no longer 9/11/2001. It hasn’t been 9/11/2001 in a very long time.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Bugger the TSA part 2

The TSA Blog has answered some of the questions put to them from Bugger the TSA, but their answers and subsequent actions have raised more questions. So for those who wish to force answers, here are additional questions that can be used.

1. The Blog Team has stated that those who refuse to show ID will not be allowed access to the terminals. TSOs who write comments have stated otherwise. Who is correct?

2. Given the new ID requirement, you have stated that your name won't pe but on a terrorist watch list if you forget your ID. Will it be put there if you politely refuse to show ID?

3. Is a person who politely refuses to show ID more dangerous than someone who forgot his ID?

4. If someone is barred for politely refusing to show ID, and someone else is allowed access for claiming to have forgotten ID when that someone else hasn't, isn't that a censoring of political opinions?

5. Is there a single authoritative list of rules that passengers must obey to quickly and efficiently get through the TSA checkpoints? (Thanks to blogger Phil)

6. Please reconcile the mandatory showing of ID with C.F.R. 49 § 1540.5. (Thanks to blogger Trollkiller)

7. How can someone find out if he's on the watch list? What is the procedure to be taken off the watch list or the no fly list?

8. How do the "on the spot" fines align with the Administrative Procedures Act? How does doubling of the fines for those who ask how to context fines align with the Administrative Procedures Act?

9. Why does the TSA care if a domestic passenger (not an overseas passenger) is carrying a large amount of cash?

10. Given that the TSA is supposed to guard access to the sterile areas of the airport, what is the legal basis for having passive MMW technology installed in other areas of the airport? Why are those monitoring the screens not sheltered from public view?