There seems to be an endless supply of firm opinions on why the economy collapsed in 2008. Conservatives blame lending to poor people, and liberals claim it was a lack of federal regulation. I tend to lean towards the latter column, but rather than taking my word for it, here are a list of good books that analyze precisely how things went south those long years ago. They may not aid us in preventing a future hit, but at least the effort is commendable.
An especially frightful bogeyman mustered by folks on the Plural Right to win elections is the idea of the welfare queen. This horrendous creature oozes about in life, deviously attempting to confiscate as much from the public dole as possible, and using taxpayer dollars to fund her luxurious lifestyle. She is often paired with her live-in boyfriend, a clownish drug dealer who uses his perch in a Section 8 housing complex to make tax-free money by selling controlled substances. Topping off the vignette are their countless children, who assist in generating those lovable food stamp checks which are annihilating the economy.
Effective as the idea may be for politicians, it betrays a fundamental unwillingness to understand the nature of the public support system, along with the actual status of people involved. Thus we must provide an overview of precisely what is available to welfare dependents, and for how long. Hopefully, a measure of clarity can help eliminate the misconceptions that inevitably fuel terrible corrective policy on the part of the State.
The first salvo ought to involve a popular 2012 study from Wisconsin distributed inside conservative circles. According to the authors, a family on welfare in the Badger State can rake in $35,000 annually post-taxes by yukking it up with a variety of government programs and not working. A similar 50-state analysis by the Cato Institute confirms such alarmism, noting how places like Hawaii grant payments of almost $50,000 a year to government dependents.
There is no doubt the proponents of such studies have justifiable concern about the nature of welfare. Unfortunately, they rely on rather self-serving conclusions to fit the bill of lolbertarian ideology. For one, the Wisconsin study relies upon an assumption that eligibility automatically equates to acceptance. In reality, analysts have concluded that less than 300 Wisconsinites would be able to draw the $35,000 amount of income, this in a state of almost 6 million people. Further complicating the matter is how most welfare programs require participants to be seeking a job or working, stipulations which undermine the suggestion they are simply mooching because they can.
Perhaps more critical to mention are the limitations on welfare programs themselves. In the case of SNAP benefits (food stamps), users without children are limited to 90 days in the service within a 36-month period by a federal law enacted in 2008, unless they can meet certain work requirements. When paid out, benefits average about $256.00 per month for a household or $127.00 a person, and come to around $1.40 for each meal. Higher payments materialize in the event of a household being extremely low income or with many kids, so not everyone receives the same amount of money. It is worth noting that the Obama Administration promulgated an $8.7 billion cut to SNAP, despite its supposedly progressive credentials.
Section 8 housing also gets a bad rap due to the poor reputation of such communities, yet it too has strict standards for access, cutting out sizable swaths of the general population based on income and family status. Quite crucially, the voucher system does not cater to illegal immigrants, as applicants must be citizens or possess eligibility for citizenship. The closely-associated LIHEAP program gives recipients help with heating and cooling bills providing they meet certain requirements. Strangely enough, President Obama also made repeated requests for Congress to cut funding to LIHEAP, instigating a move by the late Hugo Chavez to donate heating oil to Americans.
Some critics will aim their guns at the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash support program to satisfy notions of dependency. Here again the issue is complex. TANF operates not as a long-term solution to poverty, but merely the helping hand to bring people back on their feet during hard times. Benefit checks in July 2020 ranged from just over $300.00 in Texas to $1,086 in New Hampshire, reflecting cost of living and state government decisions. The final point is important because individual states control the destiny of TANF money block-granted by the Fed, and are not obliged to offer a large (or elevated) amount. Furthermore, recipients are limited to 5 years on the TANF dole throughout their entire life, so it is hardly a career dependency model.
Welfare alarmism also flies in the face of the historical record. The 1996 welfare reform bill signed by Bill Clinton had the effect of eliminating the “entitlement” concept behind such programs by instituting stricter work requirements. Since 1997, spending on TANF has remained largely unchanged at $16.5 billion, and broader welfare caseloads have increased to 15 percent, while the assistance rolls remain down by 68 percent from the pre-reform highs, this even with the effects of the recession and Corona. As a percentage of the total federal budget, the programs amount to $361 billion, or 8 percent.
One final point to acknowledge regarding the 1996 reform lies with the impact on child support enforcement. Prior to the legislation’s passage, the State’s involvement in collection and insistence on men paying was decidedly more limited. Clinton’s bill changed that by requiring state authorities to more aggressively pursue orders on child support, and encouraging women to pursue it. So in a sense men replaced the State for a portion of the payments, arguably leading to the disaster of family courts today.
At the end of the day, I can appreciate the rage against welfare. Those of us who work feel indignant about folks who simply take checks and live on the dole. Of course the truth is that many of the “takers” are actually employed, yet simply do not make enough to survive. Perhaps our bigger focus should be on the creatures and organizations regularly taking trillions from the government to bail them out whenever the economy turns south.
If one thing is consistent, it would be the general atmosphere of dislike for the State in circles of the Right. One could spend hours parsing up the backstory and justifications, but such a practice fails to crystallize exactly what the future holds. Our reasonable guarantee holds that governments will continue to exist, and thus financial corruption shall abound. All else is fantasy.
With said negativity considered, we might consider exactly how the State might alleviate the suffering of countless Americans with a handful of small moves. Healthcare has already been discussed, although the government-run model falls under harsh modes of criticism. Federalized educational payments are similarly fraught with peril, at least insofar as they become breeding grounds of progressive lunacy and degree value inflation. So what else can we hope for? Government-funded groceries?
Not so much, but has anyone considered the question of usury? The term is controversial in modern days due to our obsession with debt-financed economics, but would it really be so bad to leave that category to the rich and empowered? After all we’ve heard about how “every man can be a king” with deregulatory policies, the powers that be still go about trying to blame poor people for financial collapses which their own foolish behaviors instigated. If we take them seriously for a second, how could this downside be avoided in the future?
Simple, by smashing the concept of interest on home loans. A certain figure who will go unmentioned launched his very successful program on these terms decades ago, specifically oriented around building up the family. The program he promulgated allowed couples to attain interest-free loans which could go towards the purchase of a new house, along with furnishings. Instead of being mortgaged to interest payments, the newlyweds had merely to repay the principal, giving them a massive shelter against debt slavery in a world where the percentage charges often eclipse what has been borrowed.
When we account for the reality of Adjustable (Variable) mortgages, and how they threw countless Americans to the curb during the 2007-2008 collapse, the aforementioned plan sounds intriguing. Even a non-gambler would be inclined to wager that families who only had to pay their principle back without interest might well have avoided losing their homes when things went belly up, even if a job loss occurred. Furthermore, nothing prevents the State from extending grace periods in case the person is unemployed so they do not immediately fall into destitution due to vibrations beyond their control.
Obviously such a proposal must be crafted to avoid exploitation by real estate investors. Consequently, the applicants would need to prove they are in a committed marriage with intentions of having children. Allowing only one application per family would also stand to cut down on fraud, as might requiring them to live in the house for a certain number of years. The latter component has the potential to preserve communities as well, which is attractive.
Maybe the hammer to usury would backfire, turning into another predictable creation of the federal behemoth and pushing us closer to fiscal insanity. At the same time, it could be the solution to most national problems, and those facing the children of tomorrow. Debt is a scourge which conquers nations, so why not set our people free?
Today as I was browsing Twitter the following article popped up:
Imagine that. UBS is warning people that the major threat to cryptocurrency as a dominant means of exchange lies with the inability of central banks to control it by limiting total money supply. This honestly sounds like the product of some bizarro alternate reality. Such organizations have (at least in recent history) printed money and flooded the market with extra cash, not restricted the amount available. Do I sense a desire to manipulate the market and maybe snag some cheaper BTC for late-arriving buyers at UBS?
Time will tell. It’s no secret however that UBS has been on the warpath with their fear predictions, as seen just a week prior:
Of course if they do manage to drive the price down, smart folks will pick up a little more. The big shots will catch up, eventually.
There’s an older meme of Congressman Ron Paul smiling or waving his arms with the caption “It’s Happening!” The image is meant to imply that Paul was right, and simply got ignored by the broader masses of sheep who continue voting for establishment Democrats and Republicans. Most people throw it around sarcastically, and even less probably recognize Ron Paul anymore.
Except it’s not really a meme. According to reports from congressional testimony, incoming DHS head Alejandro Mayorkas will not commit to tearing down Trump’s spooky
fence wall on the southern border region. This seems completely out of character for someone like him, who is only in power due to a political party which spent the last several years lamenting over immigrant detainment and access control. Are the Dems having some magical wake up call regarding border security?
Absolutely not. After all, Biden has encouraged the approaching wave of migrants to enter in the future, regardless of the damage such a move is bound to cause. Instead, the development from Mayorkas made me think back to an old debate from 2011, when Ron Paul answered a question on the long-legislated idea of immigration control:
What a fascinating idea: instead of the wall being used to keep terrorists and immigrants out, it is actually designed to prevent people who wish to leave. From a traditional conservative standpoint this sounds absurd, as who would really want to depart the United States? As it turns out, more than we might realize. The next couple years will begin to show people how all the security apparatus which they endorsed happily as a weapon against terror is going to be used against them. We already have folks getting kicked off platforms and denied flight access because they expressed views which are seen as toxic to the mainstream. How far are we from passport revocation on the same basis?
Not far at all. The IRS already possesses the ability to snatch a person’s passport on the basis of tax issues, so only an upgrade to “problematic political ideas” is needed for us to come full circle. After all, we can’t be exporting extremism and terror to other countries…that would be unacceptable.
This too shall be forgotten by next election.
Warning: clichés may abound in this piece. Take a swig of mineral water and hunker down for the long haul.
I like to think of myself as being fairly rational. This is obviously a self-serving perception, but at least in relation to the blaring shrieks of our mainline political animals, the shoe fits. Stories which the media deems as “outrageous” don’t shake me much at all, because in almost every case there is a less radical idea behind the headline.
But exceptions exist. Still in this case I am capable of absorbing the information without becoming irate, although it is certainly disturbing. Officials in the German province of Saxony have announced they will be repurposing refugee camps to detain people who violate COVID quarantine guidelines. According to regional Interior Minister Roland Wöller: “I assume that these will be very, very few cases. At the moment, none is known.”
Oh, he assumes. How comforting. Now consider the context for a minute. German authorities are repurposing refugee camps (and presumably releasing the existing foreigners) while putting their own citizens in cages for the mere crime of visiting family or breaking some draconian curfew. Detention orders must be approved by a court, but we already know the history of Germany’s judicial system well enough. Don’t expect much civil libertarian opposition from judges.
The parallels to 1930s regimes are obvious, but that doesn’t get at the real issue. At least those models were open and unabashed about their intent towards dissidents or enemies, so one can prepare themselves. In the modern day, we have a German state run by the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democratic Party, two apparently moderate forces meant to defend freedom. A perfect pair to undermine peoples’ rights under the guise of consent and franchise.
What’s more, our brains have become so inundated with WWII dramas and propaganda that many cannot make logical connections unless the aesthetic is absolutely similar. Merkel’s pantsuits aren’t military uniforms, which means she is a believer in democracy, because that’s how democrats look. As for Trump, who a actually opposed the lockdowns and quarantine arrests, he’s an evil fascist, because feelings.
Pray fair the humanity.
Will the Left ever be consistent? Yes, I accept this post is one of many preaching to an exasperated choir, but it feels important when we consider the method being employed. Social media snitching has been a regular part of our existence for years now, but there still seemed to be a fragile line blocking off certain realms from encroachment – at least until now. The last gates of respect have been battered through.
Reports are emerging of liberal women who labeled themselves as conservatives on popular dating apps such as Bumble in order to draw in men who might have attended the January 7th protest in D.C. Upon gaining photographic proof, they proceeded to forward the information to federal authorities. Here is a celebratory internet cackle:
Bear in mind that these were the same type of creatures castigating Jim Comey and the FBI for supposedly helping Donald Trump win election in 2016 by his reopening of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Many leftists at the time called for Comey’s removal, and decided the law enforcement agency he headed was compromised. Yet here they are, happily going from “La Resistance” to loyal information brokers for the Feds.
Is there no contradiction visible? What if the ill-termed “rioters” were actually AntiFa, albeit raging against Joe Biden’s Corporate Democrat appointments…would they also happily provide details to help the men in black? Would these pleasant faces bother taking time out of their boring lives to draw in some Anarcho-Communist activist with their deep knowledge of Das Kapital before springing Wray’s Army on that delusional revolutionary?
I reckon not, but who knows? Social credit is a lovely thing.
This is more of a thought piece than anything else, though I’m sure it will rile up a lot of Bitcoin HODLs and “technical analysts.” Much as I own (not enough) of the shiny algorithm coin, the entire way we go about perceiving future currency seems rather warped. It’s a question requiring a bit beyond the typical wide-eyed enthusiasm of liberty advocates and the general freedom rabble.
For a long time, the theory of Bitcoin promoters has been that its limited cap of 21 million units serves as a safe store of value versus the highly-inflated dollar, which shows no signs of stopping its brrr-a-thon. Coin baggers predict that their currency will continue to rise as governments spend and borrow, perhaps at some point replacing the classical concept of “fiat” or paper money. Folks who have bought or continue to purchase before Bitcoin’s rise to a dominant financial position will be rich, while others are left with largely worthless investments.
But there’s one problem of sorts. These Bitcoin pumpers are basing their wealth and success on its exchange rate with the U.S. Dollar. In other words, to be a Bitcoin “millionaire,” you must assess its value in accordance with the same fiat currency that is supposedly unstable. Selling out of Bitcoin to realize some of this wealth means holding large amounts of an inflationary currency which continues to rise along with the president’s signature on spending bills.
Now, a skeptic could argue he will buy gold with his Bitcoin, but this is highly inconvenient for global transfer and transactions where the price point is less than a full ounce of yellow metal. Furthermore, gold itself is giddily valued in line with the dollar, despite the fact that its supporters believe fiat to be unstable and inflationary. A goldbug I knew even tried to diminish the validity of S&P 500 returns by claiming they were based in dollars instead of gold, despite arguing for gold on the basis of dollars.
This brings us to an important query: what happens if the dollar actually collapses, or ceases to exist? Does gold continue to “store” value? Is Bitcoin still worth a lot of money relatively, or does it adopt a dominant position attune to the dollar, albeit with less inflationary tendencies? And what happens to the people who failed to purchase crypto when it was cheaper in dollar terms? Are they doomed to scraping out an existence with whichever fiat currencies remain, or trying to collect a monthly check of 0.00000000001 BTC to afford the good consumerist lifestyle?
No one can really know. The future might be crypto, but that scenario could end up being unpleasant, depending on who possesses a bigger account.
I hope this will be the last (contemporary) political post made on the blog for a while. As much as the topic is compelling, one cannot escape the feeling of its overall vapidity. We observe representatives voting to object to an election in small numbers, knowing well in advance the act is mere grandstanding to avoid what harsh realities a corrupt system has foisted on the people. They “do their part,” even while the finishing glaze was conjured up weeks ago.
Strangely enough, there is a different kind of electoral moralization going on in D.C. and state capitols around the country: that of defending convention. Not long after the fury blew up on Capitol Hill, empowered libertarian representatives quickly rushed to “defend the Constitution” by joining with Democrats and ratifying the results of an obviously corrupt election. These are the same characters frantically warning about excess spending, surveillance, and endless wars, yet the critical moment is simply too trying for their sensibilities. So instead of taking a principled stand to favor what they believe, the route is one of guarding the system and status quo.
What makes this behavior especially confusing is the purveyors’ own knowledge that they are waging a losing battle by being good town watchmen over modern day malevolence. The reason spending does not come down is because the decision gets devolved across fifty different states, all with various projects and payoffs lined up for fulfillment. Wars are similarly driven by money, and continue to be pushed by the uniparty majority despite public opposition. Such programs are not going anywhere on the basis of libertarian idea-spreading, and certainly no Balanced Budget is forthcoming.
Keeping all that in mind, what exactly do these steady tradition enforcers get in exchange for their complicity? The simple enough answer is as follows: an opportunity to flaunt moral self-righteousness by being “right” because they warned folks in advance. If the rest of us had only listened to the libertarians and conservatives, somehow the cities wouldn’t be burning, racism would hardly matter, and decency might reign supreme. Now that all is ashes, we should turn and recognize our steady friends who wouldn’t allow the structure to collapse, not for all the ideological triumph in the world.
Perhaps an addendum here should speculate as to whether the system defenders cultivate a martyr complex in their minds to feel better about the collapse of convention. It would certainly jive well with the sacrificial themes of those Abrahamic religions they follow, in which the upright are cut down while preaching forgiveness and respect towards their enemies. Thus they can die (or devolve into the political deserts) knowing their honor was bright, and the other side is wrong or sinful.
Now let us pose one final query: should the more radical Rightists somehow seize power in the future, what shall the libertarians and conservatives do? Will they yet lament the collapse of the system, which holds the bulk of their spiritual wealth, or simply revert to becoming grifters aligned to that triumphant cause?
Like Descartes, I leave the answer to my dreams.
A few days ago, an octogenarian called Botoxi was reelected to lead the House of Representatives over the next two years of bland political soap opera. While a narrow outcome, the result was hardly unexpected, as Democrats possessed a 222-211 majority in the new chamber. Nevertheless, five centrist Dems refused to cast their ballots in the Speaker’s favor, either voting for other candidates or simply dropping “present” on the lectern. Botoxi was thus denied a clear numerical majority, sailing through on the force of a 216-209 tally.
Yet it should have been worse. In a move entirely predictable for their ilk, all six members of the Democratic Socialist “Squad” voted to return Nancy to power. Supreme Leader Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had this statement to justify the empowered decision:
“Well, you know, I think when you look at the razor-thin margin … We are just an extremely slim amount of votes away from risking the speakership to the Republican party and this is, it’s, it’s bigger than any one of us and that is consequential. But I also think it’s important that we realize that what kind of communities, which communities and all of the communities that, that creates Democratic power, power,”
The last several words are highlighted for a reason. Against all claims of fighting the system and opposing corporate influence, the Plural Left’s freedom fighters marched right back into the loyalty column when times demanded it. Though one could dismiss the issue as minimal, those brave partisans might have placed real pressure on the Democrats by embarrassing them with a Kevin McCarthy victory, thus setting up a consequence, but of course they did not.
AOC’s mental recriminations reminded me of an observation made by Georges Sorel in Reflections On Violence:
“A cunningly conducted agitation is extremely useful to Parliamentary Socialists, who boast before the Government and the rich middle class of their ability to moderate revolution; they can thus arrange the success of the financial affairs in which they are interested, obtain minor favors for many influential electors, and get social laws voted in order to appear important in the eyes of the blockheads who imagine that these Socialists are great reformers of the law.”
Notice the bit on “minor favors,” and then go back to AOC’s quote about the slim amount of votes. She is essentially admitting that the only way for the Squad to oppose Botoxi was if the Speaker’s success had already been guaranteed, presumably by a large Democratic majority. Hence progressive opposition is merely a pipe dream involving the securement of a subcommittee seat or symbolic commitment to generalities like “universal healthcare,” all while the system chugs on in contentment.
Later on, Sorel considers the fakery of DemSoc reforms:
“The social revolution is conceived by Jaures as a kind of bankruptcy; substantial annuities will be given to the middle class of today: then from generation to generation these annuities will decrease. These plans must often seem very alluring to financiers accustomed to draw great advantages from bankruptcies; I have no doubt that the shareholders of L’Humanite think these ideas marvelous; they will be made liquidators of the bankruptcy, and will pocket large fees, which will compensate for the losses which this newspaper has caused them. ”
That, in effect, is Democratic Socialism. Any pronounced opposition is annihilated as soon as money and power become matters of discussion. Just keep spinning and ranting about Wall Street taxes.