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Abuse Of Power
I trust that at least some of you watched all or part of the Masters Golf Tournament the weekend before last. But I wonder how many of you are aware of the intrusion by the Federal Government into lawful commercial activities taking place. One or more persons didn’t approve of something that was being done. For those of you unaware of the circumstances, an unknown individual hired a private banner towing company from Ohio to tow aerial banners in the vicinity of the Augusta National Golf Club. The banners spoke sarcastically of Tiger Woods serial and/or concurrent infidelities and someone on the ground didn’t like it. Now, understand that I don’t condone public passing of judgment on someone’s personal life, but the banner towing was being done in conformity with all Federal Air Regulations, especially those relating to minimum altitude and separation from assemblies on the ground. There was no published exclusionary airspace in effect. Nevertheless, without probable cause, the Federal Aviation Administration sent two airworthiness inspectors to examine the pilot and aircraft logbooks for compliance with all FAR’s. They found a trivial item - failure to have the currently approved seatbelt installed - an exceedingly minor infraction which probably passed unnoticed over several annual inspections. They grounded the operation until the infraction was cleared.
The major problem which I have with this (I have been a pilot for over fifty years with multiple ratings including an Airline Transport Rating and I have probably never piloted an airplane without unknowingly being in violation of some one or another Federal Air Regulation - they are analogous to and as ambiguous as Tax Law) is that it is an abuse of power. It violated the 1st Amendment rights of the subscriber of the service regarding free speech and also the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure (grounding the airplane). I think that we need an investigation into this abuse of power on the part of the Federal Government but, more so, I think that we should all take a good hard look at what this Administration will facilitate on the part of favored parties or against those who would incur disfavor. I have been writing for over six months on the creeping, insidious loss of our Freedom and more recently over the massive power grab woven into Obamacare. While I hold both political parties responsible for our current condition, it behooves us all to be prepared to defend and restore the full protections of our Constitution, hopefully by means of the ballot box. But, please note, the power of the Federal Government to intimidate, harass, arrest and prosecute appears to no longer be remotely limited by the Constitution. Today’s PC Police can quickly become tomorrow’s Gestapo. All you need is an ”Emergency” (as Rahm Emanuel says) - just ask the US citizens who spent years and lost all their fortunes locked up in Japanese internment camps. It didn’t happen to citizens of German or Italian descent. Now look, I am not saying that this is going to happen. I am just connecting the dots, as you should, and trying to avoid getting caught with my pants down. The only difference between Pearl Harbor and now is one was external and the other is internal. I don’t make this stuff up. Freedom is a perishable commodity and once lost is almost impossible to regain.
Elk Lake, PA
Ambulance Drive Underway
The annual Ambulance Fund Drive is underway. Every household in the coverage area should receive a donation request. The fund drive is very important to the operation of the Ambulance Service, as we do not receive any tax dollars to support the Ambulance Service. We rely on the fund drive donations and what money we receive from some insurance companies that are billed for ambulance service to finance the ambulance operations. As a reminder the fund drive has replaced the old Ambulance Club Membership. When you contribute to the fund drive you receive the same benefits as provided in the old membership club. It is more important this year than ever that the community support the ambulance fund drive, given the unprecedented cost increase in operating the ambulance. If you have not received a fund drive request please contact the Susquehanna Fire Dept Ambulance, PO Box 175 Susquehanna, PA 18847 or call 853-3861.
Susq. Fire Dept. Ambulance
Liked The Column, But...
I enjoyed Jason Legg's column this week and actually agreed with his general we-need-to-get-ourselves-out-of-debt stance, however he must be getting his statistics from FOX News, a station notorious for its misinformation, or possibly the Tea Baggers, who, being led by Sarah Palin (notoriously lacking in IQ points) should easily explain the inaccuracy.
Jason says that the National Debt in 1971 was $75 million. Huh? I just looked it up on various tables online and my findings are that the national debt on June 30, 1971 was not $75 million, but $398,129,744,455.54 (398 billion). Or by 12/31 the same year, $424,130,961,959.95.
He also conveniently forgot to mention inflation. The average wage in 1971 was 6,497.08, while in 2008 41,334.97. So, according to an online translator, that $424,130,961,959.95 by the end of 1971 was actually, in today's terms $2,301,272,791,565.06. That's over 2 trillion dollars in national debt in 1971, folks.
I hope my online calculations were correct, but any of you are free to check. My point is, just don't believe everything you read and jump to slanted conclusions.
The Debt Bomb
National Health Insurance will be Obama's last hurrah. Government debt is a ticking time bomb. The debt burden created by NHI will push the time bomb years closer to detonation. When it explodes, the government will be unable to pay its bills unless it hyperinflates the currency. The value of the dollar will be shattered, prices will skyrocket, the economy will lie in ruins.
Yet, the administration claims that adding two new entitlement programs (health insurance and health care benefits) plus another tier of bureaucrats will actually save money. Inexplicably, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) agreed. More massive entitlement programs that will save money? Horse feathers and hen's teeth. But why did the CBO go along with this preposterous claim?
The answer is that the CBO is required to examine legislation as it is written, not to correct the statistical gimmickry hidden therein. Garbage in garbage out. In actual fact, NHI will add an additional $1 trillion dollars to the national debt over the next ten years. Exactly how serious is this?
The best measurement of assessing the gravity of government indebtedness is the ratio of private debt to the gross domestic product (GDP). Last year the CBO calculated private debt at $8.6 trillion and the GDP at about $14 trillion. This ratio expressed (as a percent) was 61 percent in 2009.
The tipping point, the percent at which debt will cause the economy to contract is 90 percent. According to the CBO, we won't reach that critical point until 2020.
However, two top economists, Carmen Reinhart, a professor at the University of Maryland and Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard professor, say that debt should include public debt as well as private debt. For this year, they estimate this debt will be $11.6 trillion yielding a debt/GDP percentage of 83 percent. Next year they predict this will jump to 94 percent - well into the danger zone.
So who's right, the CBO or the professors? That depends upon how much the debt balloons. For that answer, we look to the past.
One way of predicting the debt load of Obama's health programs is to look at the government's first foray into health care: Medicare.
In 1966, Medicare cost $3 billion. The government forecasted it would cost $12 billion by 1990. What did it actually cost in 1990? More the $107 billion. The government was wrong by a factor of nine. A gypsy foreteller would have done better.
The cost of Medicare continues to outstrip cost projections and to defy control. In 2008, Medicare cost $600 billion, in 2010 it is estimated to be $800 billion. And in 2011, Medicare will top the $1 trillion mark. Medicare, the government's first health care bill, is a money-eating, out-of-control monster.
If we assume that Obama's bill will follow roughly in the same path as Medicare, then the professors are closer to the mark and we are in a world of hurt.
On one point everyone agrees: The debt time bomb must be defused. This can be done in only two ways: increasing taxes or decreasing spending. Let's look at the first way, increasing taxes.
For either the Republicans or the Democrats to propose a hefty increase in taxes would be equivalent to donning a suicide vest. The public is overtaxed as it is. Some estimate that taxes - direct, indirect, and hidden - consume the first six months of a person's wages.
What about decreasing spending? Everyone is for that except when it comes to cutting a financial benefit that they are receiving from the government. Since that includes the great majority of citizens, this method is also doomed.
Moreover, either an increase in taxes or a decrease in spending during a deep and protracted recession would only exacerbate the nation's economic difficulties.
So the debt time bomb will continue to tick. One day it will explode. A few consequences of this are disastrous, the rest are worse.
As things stand, it seems unavoidable. But as Niels Bohr said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.”
New Milford, PA
TO THE EDITOR POLICY
Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript
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