Back before Bill Whittle became a PJ Media video star, he had a blog called Eject! Eject! Eject!, which was the oddest site in the entire blogosphere.
Bill would post absolutely nothing for weeks at at time, then he’d post an essay about as long as a Stephen King novel, but it was so incredibly brilliant that EVERYONE would duct tape their kids to the couch and throw their phones out the window so that they could read it straight through without interruption.
IMAO reader Hunter [High Praise!] wrote something recently that reminded me of that, and he asked me to post it, which I do with great pleasure.
Yes, it’s long.
Yes, you’ll wish it were longer.
Duct tape. Kids. Couch. Phone. Window. Enjoy.
My Presidential Address to a Special Joint Session of Congress Regarding the Federal Budget
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am here on behalf of my fellow Americans to speak to you tonight about wrath,
and about blood.
Although the names change over time, and regardless that some members may rightly plead personal innocence, this body together with the office I am now privileged to hold have, within the last few decades, betrayed the public trust, and by acts both of commission and omission have fostered upon the hardworking and honest citizens of this country the greatest financial calamity known to human history.
How dare I call this the greatest financial calamity, when we do not have to push wheelbarrows full of cash to the store to purchase bread, and the bills in our wallets are not printed in denominations of trillions? I dare because I’m speaking in terms of real dollar values, of total assets, of real wealth and actual things, not in percentages of GDP.
It is well known that on numerous occasions in human history entire civilizations have been destroyed. People have been wiped out, their possessions carted away to far-off lands as spoils of war. With their economies, along with everything else, 100% eradicated, and yet with our lights still on, our ability to fill up our cars with gas, and food on our grocer’s shelves, how can I make such a comparison? I make it because in recent decades we’ve been able to lose the equivalent of a prior empire’s wealth and keep the power flowing, our cars running, and our bellies full.
That may start to give you an idea about how wealthy we are. We are the wealthiest country that has ever existed, by far. By. Far.
For example, our technological wealth alone allows the poorest of our poor privileges enjoyed by no emperor in antiquity. And we are blessed by far more than our technological wealth alone.
Our wealth of medical knowledge allows a significant percentage of our population whom nature would have already slain had we lived in our grandparents’ generation, myself included, to happily survive and thrive. And our survival and ability to thrive is bolstered by far more than just our medical knowledge alone.
Our wealth of natural resources continues to surprise us, so much so that whenever some doomsayer claims that all the low-hanging fruit has been picked, or that a resource has peaked and will only decline from this point until it is exhausted, it does not take long for our prospectors to officially file contrary claims heralding the discovery of new deposits, usually in vast amounts. And though this great land of ours, protected by our recognition and defense of property rights, is certainly foundational to much of our wealth, we are blessed with so much more than simply this magnificent country in which we dwell.
We have so much more than our mere wealth of this or that, because all these “wealths” intertwine and mutually support and reinforce each other. Indeed, our country’s true material wealth is built upon a “wealth of wealth”. Much of this is NEW wealth… ongoing and created afresh – wealth that did not previously exist until our people turned their minds toward bringing it into existence. After all, resources left in the ground ultimately benefit no one…; since pathogens adapt, medical knowledge declines where it does not advance…; and what is technologically ground-breaking and revolutionary one day soon thereafter becomes obsolete, non-compliant and incompatible with ever-progressing systems and standards.
You’ve heard it said that it takes money to make money, and this is true. This flip side of that is that wealth naturally grows.
I say again, we are the wealthiest country that has ever been. Looking to the future, I have to ask “Should we be concerned, given how well cushioned and well armored we are?” After all, even though we would likely all agree that it would be unfortunate, if a man worth one hundred million dollars lost ninety percent of his fortune, no matter how that transpired, wouldn’t he still be fabulously wealthy? Likewise, given our vast, nearly inconceivable wealth, should our economy be decimated and lose a ghastly percentage of its value, for whatever reason – be it disaster, market downturn, bad governmental or business decisions, or thieves – wouldn’t we still have the strength, resiliency, determination, knowledge, and even residual wealth to either take it in stride or start building anew?
Why all the fuss? Especially why all the fuss if we retain the freedom and liberty upon which this country was founded and built?
I’ll tell you why all the fuss: because the whole world depends on us, while freedom and liberty have long been under attack.
The rich man who lost ninety percent yet is still wealthy, yes, but can he support all those who depend on him? Can he hire others and expand his business? Has he stemmed his losses or even abated their cause? Are they under his control? Or is the 90% just “today’s horrifying picture” and part of a greater negative trend whose end is not in sight?
I say yet again, we are the wealthiest country that has ever been. But we are not secure in our wealth, and have not been for quite some time.
And by the way, concerning those riches… It isn’t the government’s wealth.
I speak of our citizens’ wealth; their personal wealth and that of the businesses they have built, the results of the profitable enterprises to which they devote much of their lives.
When you think of the wealth owned by our nation in total, try not to get your thinking backwards and regard the nation in total as owning the wealth. It doesn’t. The individual people and the companies they control own the wealth. The nation in total, and namely its governing body – us – are mere stewards of the portion of our citizens’ wealth that we allot ourselves for the fulfilling of our Constitutional duties.
Or at least, that was the plan.
You here, who represent either districts or states, are tasked not only with establishing just and sensible laws, but also with the responsible use of public funds.
You are not here to enrich yourselves, nor to use the Treasury to line the pockets of your friends and benefactors, nor to purchase dependent voting blocks. But alas, that has been the stock and trade of these august bodies for decades.
An honest citizen, having paid their taxes, whatever the rate, believes the rest is theirs to spend or save however they choose. Are they correct? How would they feel to learn that compared with what has been spent in their name – what this government has committed them to – they’re actually vastly under-taxed? With the exception of a very few people who apparently have more personal wealth than sense, does anyone in this great country feel under-taxed?
You may object and say that a very large minority of our citizens pay no tax at all. You’d be wrong. I often hear that in the media too, but it isn’t accurate. A very large minority of our citizens pay no INCOME tax at all, and while I think that’s an important issue and one which I am going to address, everyone is affected by taxes of some sort, and I doubt many of us feel the amount is too low.
But therein lies the problem. Our taxes haven’t covered our spending. Our national debt is completely out of control. There are various ways of envisioning our debt… I prefer to think of it in terms of a stack of one-dollar bills, and forget about it simply reaching the Moon, a stack of dollars would reach well past it, times four. I find it easier to comprehend in terms of our Sun. Our national debt, stacked as dollar bills, would be about one and a quarter times the diameter of the Sun. Think about that. Think hard about that. I hope I didn’t just ruin all the remaining sunsets in your lives.
A person who pays 35% in income taxes may not be happy about it, but once paid at least they think they’re done with that particular tax for the year. It isn’t supposed to come back to haunt them later – not if they have done their taxes correctly.
And let me tell you, in case you’ve lost touch, we’re accustomed to generally thinking of taxes in annual terms. “Last year’s”, “this year’s” and “next year’s” taxes are frames of reference we’re used to and can deal with. Do you think Americans would be pleased to be forced to consider taxes not simply in terms of what percentage of their income is requisitioned each year, but additionally in terms of percentages of the entirety of their wealth?
Because our National Debt is only part of the picture. We’ve spent that. What are we going to do about our unfunded liabilities? About future spending this government has committed the country to?
Tell me this, please! How popular with the person paying 35% per year in annual income tax would be the idea of owing 35% of everything they have – of their entire net worth – due to government spending?
How about 50%? 60%? At what point would you assume civil unrest would begin? How high before we hit open rebellion?
How about 100%? How would the parents in your average family feel if one day they received a letter from their government informing them that – due to federal spending, both current and future – just to bring things even they owed 100% of everything they had, including the clothes on their backs? Oh, the letter could sweet-talk the issue, saying that they shouldn’t panic, that the IRS is not going to collect that 100%, and in fact that their tax rate has not changed… This letter was simply to inform them, in the spirit of transparency, of the obligations that have been assumed in their name. I’m betting that no matter how reassuringly such a letter was worded, and even knowing that their tax rate wasn’t being increased, simply knowing that the government had indebted them to 100% of their worth would strike a great many people as being slavery in disguise.
It makes me wonder… Will our citizenry willingly allow you to put a slave collar around their necks? Will they vote in favor of chains and shackles for their children?
I need to ask for your forbearance… please humor me for just one more outlandish scenario. What if that figure were over 100%, and in fact were actually over 400%?
I ask because that’s where we actually stand today. In the names and on the behalf of every citizen in this country, this government has embraced obligations in excess of 400% of all of our personal worth. Were we – each of us – to sell everything we own, and somehow miraculously still get top dollar, and surrender it all to the Treasury, then even after being left with nothing at all, we would only be able to satisfy less than one quarter of our so-called “fair share”.
Speaking of unsavory sunsets… Our unfunded liabilities would make a stack of dollar bills over NINE TIMES the diameter of the Sun, and remember we’re just counting the thickness of the paper, not the dimensions of the bills.
The cliché that Washington is a financial Black Hole is supposed to simply be figurative, not a challenge to make it literal!
It has been repeatedly said that our government spends like a drunken sailor. That’s a damn lie and a blood-libel insult to drunken sailors everywhere, who spend their own money and stop when they run out. You’ve probably already heard a version of that, and you may laugh through the pain, but think about it. Seriously. Sorry to spoil the joke, but the realization is stunning. Drunken sailors – and not just ours but I’m talking everyone’s and throughout all of maritime history, including illiterate guttersnipes press-ganged into being a half-step above galley-slaves – simply by dint of being constrained by reality, have perforce exercised nearly infinitely better financial sense and wisdom than has our government, for more years than I can bear to contemplate.
I mean it. If you took those poor doomed HMS Bounty mutineers who stayed behind on Tahiti, who were subsequently taken aboard the Pandora and locked in a torturous metal box in full sun on her heaving deck, and you released them, took them off Pandora, to a bar, and got them nearly blind drunk, then placed before them any number of our fiscally euthanistic appropriations bills, you would be witness to an amazing phenomena where the more they understood the legislation, the more intoxicated they would seem due to the fearful gibbering or stunned blank stares such comprehension would inevitably evoke. If they blacked out, you might never know if it was from the grog alone, or if their consciousness had simply fled before the onrushing madness.
This does not speak well of us.
With spending at those levels, why do we even bother with taxes? Is it just to keep the charade going?
When incoming revenues have no apparent link to, much less limiting effect upon, spending, then phrases like “spending cap” become an unfunny joke and simply function as deceptive code words, good for noise control, used just to keep the barking down.
Ladies and Gentlemen, a debt is a bond, and we are bound.
There is a difference between “indebted” and “indentured”. But when what is owed can only be expressed in multiples of what one now owns or will one day possess, there’s not much of a difference.
I will say it one more time… We are the wealthiest country that has ever been. And yet… and yet … if we look around us, in comprehension and with understanding…, everything we see, everything we have, even those things we created ourselves and understood to have owned outright, are – thanks our own government – BORROWED.
Borrowed from others, and increasingly, from the future.
Dreams as yet undreamt, ideas still to be conceived, innovations unattempted, inventions not yet invented, sales still to be made, commissions as yet uncollected, products unmanufactured, mines undug, pictures unpainted and songs yet to be sung…, all these and more – the results of every profitable undertaking – have been sold, and sold, and sold again, in our name, supposedly on our behalf, NOT to our benefit, and largely without our knowledge.
I will be accused of being unfair or of being alarmist because such debts never come due all at once. This is true. However, they DO eventually come due, and in the meantime they only grow. And while growing, the interest requirements are due, and who can keep their eye on the principle when the interest is so large as to eclipse the view?
Our government has placed seemingly unbreakable financial shackles upon our citizenry and our heirs.
We must put our shackles to the test, break them, and be free of them.
That freedom, more than anything else, is our birthright in this great country.
We know from history and from Scripture how an individual’s stolen birthright can engender a seemingly-eternal enmity. We should well heed those cautionary examples because the government has stolen the birthright of us all.
America is justifiably furious about this. They would be even more so if they had the time to dwell on it, but as it is, most people are frantically busy just trying to get by, just trying to survive.
Tell me…, in what form will this wrath be measured out? Or in your fear, what additional freedoms are you planning to strip from the citizenry in order to protect the ruling regime?
I honestly believe that those citizens who do not consider themselves enraged at the situation Washington has created for the country either have not learned or not understood the true details about the crimes committed against them and their descendents, or have in despair understandably written us all off as a bunch of powerful, power-hungry, faceless, and interchangeable thieves.
How can you answer them? In light of where our nation stands financially, how could that not be an accurate description of our government?
Now just as every military commander in the field is responsible for the actions of the men under his command, so it is with our government. With great authority comes great responsibility, and though I am myself newly elected, by assuming office I am instantly as culpable as each of you for our collective role in reaching our current straits. This is our fault. All of our fault. If heads roll, mine will be among them. This is a debt we must put right, or the fate that SHOULD befall us will make us yearn for mere pitchforks and torches.
I’m sure you’ve heard the clichéd but true phrase “What can’t continue forever, won’t.”
I am reminded of something William Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth, about how “So foul a sky clears not without a storm.”
That storm is coming.
It cannot NOT come.
We cannot stop the storm, but it is not too late to mitigate the storm’s worst effects if we begin right now discharging its fury here on the debate floors of these two houses. Therefore, to the degree one co-equal branch of government can “task” another, I am tasking this Congress to develop a budget whose purpose is to turn the tide.
You know me; you know what my priorities are. Whether you agree or vehemently disagree with my policies, there should be no one here who is unaware of them. So you know what I want – what my targeted goals are. They’re published, in case any of you have forgotten or need a refresher.
And we must agree on our terminology before we agree on the terms. A “decrease in the rate of a projected and expected increase” is not a “cut”, no matter how loudly the pundits cry.
I am only going to deal in real numbers and actual figures supported by hard data, and believe me – this country will hold in contempt those who do not.
We’re all tired of the spin, we’re tired of being fed lines, we’re tired of “seasonally adjusted figures”, and we’re NOT tired of these simply out of frustration or petulance, no, we’re tired because they’re used to distract us while behind our backs this very government is doing everything from picking our pockets to selling us into bondage.
Let me share with you a dreadful secret… The government cannot chart a course to economic recovery. Any attempt to do so will simply make things worse, and we have a long negative experiential history to learn from in case anyone doubts this.
No, what the government must do is to staunch the bleeding. And given how fast a healer our economy is when given a chance, the best way for government to staunch the bleeding is to stop shooting and stabbing the body. While we’re at it, we should also stop throttling and suffocating the economy as well. If we’ll stop the aggravated assault and simply get out of the way, the amazing juggernaut that is this country will put things to right eventually, and will begin to do so immediately.
That said, this next may surprise you…
Send me a budget, and if it is balanced – which means no more deficit spending, now or ever – and if it takes significant steps towards reducing the national debt and slashing our future obligations, I will sign it, regardless of its other content.
I’ll not even squabble over the definition of “significant steps” because such debate should be reserved for you as one of your primary job functions.
I will be disappointed, yes, if my priorities are not reflected in the budget, and were this any other prior decade I would fight tooth and nail for them.
But given our present circumstances, if the budget is balanced and honestly starts reducing our debt and obligations, then frankly my other priorities pale by comparison…, AS – DO – YOURS.
If the budget passed by the House and the Senate meets those requirements, plus one other, I will sign it.
My only remaining requirement for this budget is that the bill presented for my signature
must be written in your own blood.
I’m serious. Really. I’m deadly serious.
This is not a joking matter; I am not being flippant, nor am I just kidding around.
In your own blood.
Not your page’s. Not a delegate’s or proxy’s. Yours!
And I am referring to both the bill’s text and the following “Yea” or “Nay” markers;
the bloody thumbprints and signatures of all members of Congress.
I will sign it with mine.
My reasons for this are manifold but for now I will mention but three:
* Doing so will inspire you to choose your words very, very carefully.
* It will encourage brevity.
* And it will remind you that each and every word placed within lays claim to and disposes of wealth forcibly extracted from the productive citizens of this great country, whom you were elected to serve and not to rule, that you are amending for past betrayals by these great houses, and that such a grave responsibility must be undertaken with reverence and full knowledge of the precise costs involved.
Thank you for your time, and now I respectfully request and require:
Get to work.
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