by Jeff Thomas: 'The
Bank Was Saved, and the People Were Ruined.'
who wants the presidency so much that he'll spend two years organizing
and campaigning for it is not to be trusted with the office."
~ David Broder
voting could actually change anything, it would be illegal."
~ Noam Chomsky
I tend not to comment on elections, as I consider them to be largely
unimportant. That is, regardless of which candidate is elected,
the actual outcome tends to be much the same. In most countries,
the higher the office being contested, the less real difference
there is between the candidates.
say, a beauty pageant, in which the voter may have up to fifty contestants
to choose from (as in the US), the governments of the world do all
that is in their power to limit the choices to two contestants.
Second, the more sophisticated the electoral system, the more likely
it is that the two candidates are quite similar in both their level
of ability and their apparent sincerity in serving the public who
elect them. Third, the more apparent an issue is in the eyes of
the voters, the less likely it is that the candidates will actually
offer a specific plan to solve it.
In times of
economic emergency, as the First World now finds itself in, these
facts are even more apparent.
The facts should,
in themselves, serve to inform voters that, in fact, it is not the
primary goal of the candidates to actually "solve" the
problem at hand. The goal is to accede to the throne. Once on the
throne, the goal is to remain there. When exiting the throne, the
goal is to do so with as favourable an image as possible.
For the candidates,
solving the problem may be a secondary goal...but not necessarily.
This is a very difficult realisation for the populace to accept.
The US election
is the most prominent in the world media at the moment, as the world
economy is in a shambles and so much depends upon the Americans
with regard to how it will all turn out. They are the most powerful
country in the world; their currency is the world's default currency;
they ostensibly hold seven million tonnes of gold in their Treasury
(estimates differ significantly), plus an additional seven million
belonging to European countries (again, estimates differ), and they
have assured Europe that they will back up the EU in their quest
to stave off their collapse.
There can be
absolutely no doubt, at this point, that, if there is a central
issue, nearly every voter has concluded that, "It's the economy,
stupid." And justifiably so the US government is essentially
bankrupt. In such a situation, some will feel that taxes should
be raised, whilst others will feel that further taxation will stifle
growth. However, even if the income tax to the "one percent"
were raised to consume the total incomes of that group, the proceeds
would be insufficient to fund the government. At a time when the
country has a debt load of sixteen trillion dollars that it cannot
repay, and has additional unfunded liabilities of one hundred and
twenty trillion dollars, both parties confirm that it is their intent
to increase government spending (although the "conservative"
party claims that it will increase spending less than the
There are those
who believe that the US has gone past the point of no return and
that a collapse of the monetary system is inevitable; however, it
is likely that far more Americans would like to believe that, somehow,
there can be a solution, and so they look to their candidates for
Let us suppose
that the latter group is correct. If so, then the very first premise
of this argument would necessarily be that both political parties
genuinely want to reverse the situation; that they want to spend
less, if they only could.
If this were
the case, the very first consideration would be to eliminate waste.
At any given time, there are hundreds, possibly thousands of government
programmes that could be either cut back on, or eliminated altogether.
Of course, studies would need to be done to identify waste in a
thorough manner. In addition, not all voters would agree on what
is wasteful and what is not. Democrats may feel that the staggering
amount that is spent on "defense" is far beyond what is
reasonable, whilst Republicans may say it is essential. However,
those programmes do exist that all would agree, could easily be
cut or eliminated. Indeed, there are programmes that, amazingly,
may have no value whatsoever, yet demand considerable funding each
follows that, if either party were truly focused on keeping the
economic train from running off the cliff that is ahead, surely,
they would begin by eliminating these. Surely, these programmes
should be major campaign issues, as they represent the quickest
and most obvious place to begin to cut expenditure.
For the sake
of simplicity, let's look at only one of these the Department
of Energy. It has cost the taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars
since it was created by President Carter in 1977. Its annual budget
is over twenty four billion dollars and it employs sixteen thousand
federal workers, plus over one hundred thousand contract workers.
Americans realise that this department exists, few seem to know
what its purpose is. It would be understandable, therefore, if they
failed to understand whether or not the department would fall into
the category of (a) essential, (b) expendable, or (c) a complete
waste that should be done away with immediately.
So, here it
is: The purpose of the Department of Energy is to lessen America's
dependence on foreign oil.
Let that thought
sink in for a moment, bearing in mind that this is not just one
of the Department's interests, but its stated purpose.
of Energy has, arguably, in its thirty five year history, failed
entirely to deliver on its objective, yet has grown into a vastly
expensive bureaucratic monster that expands annually. Surely, a
government that had spending cuts in mind would begin with departments
such as this one, taking immediate action, then working its way
down the line with other departments, in accordance with their level
of real contribution, if any.
Yet, such programmes
are not even an issue. Whilst no one should be more aware of such
waste than a candidate for Presidential office and no one should
be more concerned with cost-cutting than a candidate for Presidential
office, cost cutting is not even a matter for consideration. The
candidates only dispute how much costs should increase.
candidate, neither party, intends to actually solve the central
But, lest we
be too unfair to the American government, let us not overlook the
fact that, throughout the First World, the situation is largely
the same. Although most countries do not have the enormous budget
that the US has, their budgets, too, are growing annually. After
all, this is the nature of governments to grow themselves. Other
countries do not spend as much money that they don't have, as the
US does, but that does not mean that they are more frugal. For example,
a comparative description of, say, the UK and the US might be as
The UK is
the equivalent of someone with a gold credit card who is maxed
out at Marks & Spencer and planning to spend more, as compared
to someone with a platinum card, who is maxed out at Harrods
and planning to spend more.
The US is
the equivalent of someone with a gold credit card who is maxed
out at K-Mart and planning to spend more, as compared to someone
with a platinum card, who is maxed out at Saks and planning
to spend more.
look at Greece, Spain, France or any other First World country,
the formula is the same. All that differs is the number of zeros
on their relative debts.
to be learned from this is that, in the final end, those who are
running for office, regardless of their party affiliation, invariably
claim, "I sympathise with the average guy out there. I understand
how hard this economic situation is for you," yet, this is
far from true. In fact, neither party has the slightest intention
of cutting waste waste that is in the billions and possibly trillions.
As much as the average voter would like to believe that one candidate
or the other "might have the answer," neither one has
any intention of effecting a true solution. They offer, instead,
to increase the very cause of the problem government spending.
And, if we
look this conclusion straight in the eye, what then? Do we then
say, "Well, then, all is lost"? Hopefully not. Hopefully,
we take the difficult decision to say, "Neither party will
solve the problem. That means that it is up to me to provide my
World residents may find a way to remain where they are and still
have a good future, even if it is somewhat diminished from what
they now enjoy. Others may consider the fact that the entire world
is not at the cliff edge and are actually doing rather well economically.
Many will consider planting flags elsewhere.
wisest course is to choose not to wait for the storm to hit, but
to move away from the storm.
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Man with permission.
Thomas [send him mail]
is British and resides in the Caribbean. The son of an economist
and historian, he learned early to be distrustful of governments
as a general principle. He began his study of economics around 1990,
learning initially from Sir John Templeton, then Harry Schulz and
Doug Casey and later others of an Austrian persuasion.
© 2012 International
Best of Jeff Thomas