Archives For deficits

RJ’s Rules…..

April 12, 2012

I remember a cop movie years ago starring Stacy Keach. It was about an old timer cop who had rules for every situation. I can’t remember the name of the movie but I want to do likewise.  I have lived quite a few years on this earth and have learned some valuable lessons from the time that I want to record for posterity so I am bringing up a new category here 🙂

RJ’s Rule 39 — We should have no more military bases in a foreign country than that country has bases in ours.

So let’s look at one country to see how we stand on this situation?  (Thanks again Wikipedia for the info.)

US military bases in Germany as of 2008.

  • Artillery Kaserne, Garmisch-Partenkirchen
  • Askren Manors Housing Area, Schweinfurt 
  • Bamberg Local Training Area, Bamberg 
  • Barton Barracks, Ansbach
  • Benjamin Franklin Village, Mannheim 
  • Bismarck Kaserne, Ansbach
  • Bleidorn Housing Area, Ansbach
  • Campbell Barracks, Heidelberg 
  • Coleman Barracks, Mannheim
  • Conn Barracks, Schweinfurt 
  • Dagger Complex, Darmstadt Training Center Griesheim
  • Funari Barracks, Mannheim (Scheduled to close December 2012)
  • Germersheim Army Depot, Germersheim
  • Grafenwöhr Training Area, Grafenwöhr/Vilseck
  • Hammonds Barracks, Mannheim
  • Heidelberg Army Airfield, Heidelberg
  • Hohenfels Training Area/Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels (Upper Palatinate)
  • Husterhoeh Kaserne, Pirmasens
  • Kaiserslautern Military Community
  • Katterbach Kaserne, Ansbach
  • Kelley Barracks, Stuttgart
  • Kilbourne Kaserne, Schwetzingen
  • Kleber Kaserne, Kaiserslautern Military Community
  • Lampertheim Training Area, Lampertheim 
  • Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl
  • Ledward Barracks, Schweinfurt 
  • Mark Twain Village, Heidelberg 
  • McCully Barracks, Wackernheim
  • Miesau Army Depot, Miesau
  • Nachrichten Kaserne, Heidelberg 
  • Oberdachstetten Storage Area, Ansbach
  • Panzer Kaserne, Stuttgart
  • Patch Barracks, Stuttgart
  • Pulaski Barracks, Kaiserslautern
  • Patrick Henry Village, Heidelberg 
  • Patton Barracks, Heidelberg 
  • Rhein Ordnance Barracks, Kaiserslautern
  • Robinson Barracks, Stuttgart
  • Rose Barracks, Vilseck
  • Rottershausen Storage Area, Schweinfurt
  • Sembach Kaserne, Kaiserslautern
  • Shipton Kaserne, Ansbach
  • Smith Barracks, Baumholder
  • Spinelli Barracks, Mannheim 
  • Storck Barracks, Illesheim
  • Stuttgart Airport, Stuttgart
  • Sullivan Barracks, Mannheim
  • Tompkins Barracks, Schwetzingen 
  • Wiesbaden Army Airfield, Wiesbaden
  • Storage Station, Mainz-Kastel
  • Warner Barracks, Bamberg 
  • USAG Wiesbaden Military Training Area, Mainz Gonsenheim/Mombach
  • USAG Wiesbaden Training Area, Mainz Finthen Airport
  • USAG Wiesbaden Radar Station, Mainz Finthen Airport
  • Urlas Housing and Shopping Complex, Ansbach (converted from Urlas Training Area in 2010-2011)
  • Yorktown Housing Complex, Schweinfurt 
  • Anderson Barracks, Dexheim (will reopen)

If my count is correct we have fifty bases in Germany alone. We have almost 55,000 soldiers still stationed there!  I don’t think I really have to tell you how many bases Germany has in our country.   How many billions, of dollars does it take to keep these bases open? Your guess is probably as good as mine. But in the end anything over $1.00 is too much.  Germany is by no doubt the strongest country in the European Union and has an economy more prosperous than ours. Why are we injecting billions of dollars in their economy when ours is struggling so much? So why are we there in such numbers? Why are we there at all????
Let’s invoke RJ’s Rule and insist that Germany establish one military base in each of our fifty States.  It is either that or maybe we should just remove our fifty bases from their country. I will let you decide which is the wisest choice…. It is a no-brainer to me….
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Being a history nut I like the old saying “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”. The premise behind this statement is that we should know what got us into past problems so we don’t end up making the same mistakes again.  I think this is especially true when it come to our country’s debt problems. So, that is what this post will be about.

First, let’s look at a graph showing the history of our debt. It is shown above. We were going along with only somewhat marginal increases in debt until the early 1990’s at that time President Bush (papa bush that is) raised taxes on some of us. Doing that caused him to fall out of favor with the stalwarts of his own party and therefore made him a one-term president.  But it did slow the increase of debt. Then came President Clinton who tweaked the tax code in order to make them fairer. As a result of his actions the federal budgets were balance for several years and some of the national debt was actually paid off.

Then came President Bush (baby bush that is). The first thing he did when he came into office was to give massive tax cuts to the upper 10% of the country. At the same time he took us to war on two fronts. That would not have been too harmful from a monetary standpoint but he chose to take the wars “off the books” which resulted in directly adding them to the national debt. During his years as president the national debt soared. He also did his best to eliminate as much regulations as he could find. As a result of that action Wall Street and the banking community became very creative in generating false profits. These actions came crashing down during the last year of his presidency.

So in come the dreamer President Obama who had to take over all these problems from a failed president. He like almost all of his predecessors had to increase government spending in order to try to stabilize a failing economy. Doing this and not being allowed to restore the tax codes to where they were during our budget surplus years cause the debt limit to continue to increase as they had during the 2001 to 2008 years.

I could have gone back even further to the 1980s when President Reagan invented “trickle down economics” some called it “voodoo economics” that went something like this. The way to decrease the debt is to cut taxes in order to increase taxes. Only the most conservative of us bought into this mentality. Most believe that this policy was the beginning of the runaway deficit problems.

Ok, so this is my history lesson for today. I’m sure my conservative friend would have a few revisions to my version but that is how I see it. What can we learn from history about how our debt got to the point where it is.  In my mind there are two basic lessons here. One is that if you want to increase spending you have to have a good reason and can’t say the spending doesn’t count (off the books).  One good reason would be to prevent a total collapse of our economy. The other is that you must levy taxes/income in proportion to the amount you need to spend. Some seem to think that like Mr. Reagan you can increase spending (primarily on our war machinery in his case) and decrease taxes at the same time and somehow our debt would not be affected. I’m a pretty simple guy but even this didn’t make any sense to my back then.

But what do I know….

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WASHINGTON — To hear the Republican leadership tell it, the once-sacred Pentagon budget, protected by the party for generations, is suddenly on the table. But a closer look shows that even as Speaker John A. Boehner and Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, insist on the need for military cuts, divisions have opened among Republicans about whether, and how much, to chop Pentagon spending that comes to more than a half trillion dollars a year……..

The discordant Republican voices on military spending have bred confusion on Capitol Hill, among military contractors and within the military itself, where no one is exactly sure what the members backed by the Tea Party will do. It also shows why taking on the military budget will be so hard, even though a widening deficit has led the president and the leaders of both parties to say this time they are serious.

(Excerpts from the article- click the link below to see the entire story)


Ok, here is one for the books. While Republican have always been eager to cut money from old and/or poor people they almost never want to cut any money from our war  machine. They think every million dollar bomb we have is absolutely necessary.  So to say “Republicans are split” is in itself quite a statement. I don’t think much of the Tea Party but they do have a good side. Anyone that is willing to tackle the military establishment is pretty brave in my books. To even call the military budget a “defense” budget is a joke. The rest of the world “defends” themselves on many times less per person than we do and they all seem to be getting along fine.

I don’t know why all those yahoos in the press can’t get the message to the American people about how the U.S. spends  twenty times more per citizen on it’s war machine than any other country in the world and more than one hundred times more than most! Why don’t more people know that? Much of the rest of the world thinks that Americans are just cowboys itching to get into another fight. Given what we spend for our “fancy six shooters” that might not be too far from the truth.

So, this latest split in the Republicans has the military contractors confused. Maybe that in itself is a very good thing. They won’t know who to give their generous donations to (ha). Lord forbid they give it to someone who might be cutting into their profits!! Until congress tackles the elephant in the room of fiscal responsibility their efforts will never be considered serious. We could cut our military budget in half and almost no one outside our military contractors would even know it 🙂

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/27/us/politics/27pentagon.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss&src=ig

Dear Mr. President

On the chance that you got time to see my last post I wanted to come through on my promise to give you a sure fired solution for our deficit problems. This one seems like a no-brainer so it is surprising that no one has come up with it yet. Before I give you the solution we need to look over some graphs and tables.  After all both government and private corporations thrive on graphs and tables.

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These graphs show military spending by country. Something seems to be very strange here? It seems that the U.S. spends more on it’s military than the next twenty countries combined! Why is this? I have my own theories and here they are.

If we look at the world as one big playground then our military budgets are kind of like the sticks we carry around on the playground in order to get our way. Let’s reference this to China which is the number two military spender. Their stick is the size of a baseball bat. Going down the list South Korea’s is the size of a very small branch. It can only be used for poking. That might be annoying but not harmful. Ok, now lets get to the U.S. Our stick is the size of a redwood tree. Anyone who has seen a redwood tree knows that they are huge! Well so is our military budget and it is about easy to maneuver as a redwood! Lets look at it another way. China spends about $90/person/year and the U.S. spends about $1800/person/year! That stick is now the size of a whole forest! Why??

How can South Korea who has a population of about 50 million people have a military budget that is only 5% of ours. One of the reasons is because the U.S. has so many soldiers still there almost sixty years after the Korean war.  So why should South Korea spend their valuable money on the military when the U.S. will do it for them.  I wonder if this has anything to do with why their economy is growing while ours has been stagnant for almost a decade now? We have so many soldiers and weapons strewn throughout the world that is seems impossible to even keep track of them.  Germany is another example; we still have thousands of soldiers there to do what the Germans could easily do for themselves. Why? Like South Korea, Germany’s economy is prospering while our is stagnant. And then there is China; I don’t think I have to give you any examples here!  Surely I’m not the only one who sees this relationship between military spending and deficits?

Mr. President, you are a pretty smart fellow so I think you get the idea. When you were campaigning in 2008 you said you would do something about this but it seems you are going the way of your predecessor and also making us the world’s policemen. How can we expect to reduce our deficits when we spend so many times more than anyone else for our war machine? How can we, like the rest of the industrial world, manage to provide healthcare for all our citizens when we spend so much for bombs and other weapons of mass destruction?

I am not suggesting that we drop down to parody with our the rest of the world, I know the Republicans who now control the House would never go for that,  but how about we only spend four time more per person more than anyone else? That would still leave us with a darn big stick and one that is manageable too. That would save us around $300 billion per year? I’m not up on the latest numbers but I think that would put a pretty big dent on our deficits.

I am just a simple guy with a calculator but this seems like a no brainer to me. I like the old saying that “If all you have is a hammer then everything looks like a nail”. Well with our super colossal war machine everything seems to look like a military conflict ready for us to go into. Maybe if we brought our peace efforts even to within a minute fraction of our war efforts we could start seeing things in a different light.  Maybe everything would no longer look like nails? When you were campaigning in 2008 I thought I heard you promise to do that. What happened?   Please get that zeal back. Put a few more peace makers on your team and a few less generals.

Feel free to use any of this info in your State of the Union on Tuesday. You don’t even have to give me any credit for bringing them up.

RJ