Monday, October 31, 2011

Scary Debt Figures

by Emily Skarbek

Scary Debt Figures

  by Emily Skarbek

The United States will officially pass the 100 percent debt-to-GDP line on Halloween. This is the first time this has ever happened since World War II. As Zero Hedge reports,
We decided to dig into the actual numbers (cancelling out the per capital denominator as it is the same on both sides of the equation) and came to a very disturbing revelation: as of today, total US Debt, is $14.942 trillion (source), obviously an all time high. Q2 GDP as was reported by the BEA three weeks ago, was $15.012 trillion in current dollars. In other words, the spread between total GDP and total debt has now collapsed to an all time low $70 billion. Incidentally, this number was $1.8 trillion at the beginning of 2010. Then we decided to take a quick look at the upcoming bond issuance and find that tomorrow the Treasury will announce approximately $99 billion in 2, 5 and 7 Year bonds to be auctioned off October 25 through 27... With a very appropriate settlement date: October 31, elsewhere known as Halloween.

Wow, that is scary! 

11 Charged in L.I.R.R. Disability Fraud Plot

The fraudulent payouts in the scheme, officials estimate, could end up costing a federal pension agency more than $1 billion if fully disbursed.
Ten of the defendants were taken into custody early Thursday at their homes by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and state investigators, officials said. They included seven former railroad workers, including a former union president; a former federal railroad pension agency employee who helped the workers file claims; a doctor; and a doctor’s office manager. A second doctor is expected to surrender on Friday.
The United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, said, “Employees, in many cases, after claiming to be too disabled to stand, sit, walk or climb steps, retired to lives of regular golf, tennis, biking and aerobics.”
The charges involving the railroad come at a time when public workers’ unions across the country have faced heavy criticism for negotiating pension obligations that led many government agencies to slash services and lay off teachers, police officers and other workers.
A sampling of hundreds of cases approved by two doctors showed that $121 million had been paid to workers whose disabilities were either fabricated or exaggerated, according to court papers, though the total was quite likely more. It was unclear if officials would try to stop the payouts, or could even legally do so, before the disbursements hit $1 billion.
The federal investigation followed reporting by The New York Times for a series of articles published in 2008 that revealed systematic abuses of federal Railroad Retirement Board pensions by Long Island Rail Road workers.
The claims of disability made by the seven people charged with obtaining their pensions fraudulently contrasted sharply with their lifestyles, according to court papers. One of the defendants, Gregory Noone, 62, of East Islip, N.Y., who receives $105,000 in pension and disability payments each year, plays tennis several times a week and played golf 140 days over the course of one nine-month period, despite his reports that he had severe pain when gripping objects, bending or crouching, the complaint filed in the case said.
Another defendant, Regina Walsh, 63, a railroad office worker who lives in New Hyde Park, N.Y., collects $108,000 a year in pension and disability payments; she had complained of significant neck, shoulder and hand pain caused by sitting at a desk and using a computer, and leg pain caused by standing for more than five minutes. But surveillance showed her shoveling snow for over an hour and walking with a baby stroller for 40 minutes, the complaint said.
And a third defendant, Steven Gagliano, 55, of North Babylon, N.Y., who receives more than $75,000 in payments annually and claimed to be suffering from severe and disabling back pain, went on a 400-mile bike tour around New York State, the complaint said.
The complaint, 74 pages long, said that “the fraudulent scheme could cause the R.R.B. to pay unwarranted occupational disability benefits exceeding $1 billion dollars if disbursed in full.”
Federal prosecutors and the F.B.I. were helped in the investigation by inspectors general from the Railroad Retirement Board and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the parent agency of the Long Island Rail Road.
Nine defendants appeared on Thursday before United States Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz in Manhattan; eight were released on personal recognizance bonds. A ninth defendant was taken to a hospital after becoming ill. The 10th defendant is to appear on Friday. Each defendant faces a maximum of 20 years in prison if convicted.
The Times articles reported that virtually every career employee of the railroad was applying for and receiving disability payments, giving the Long Island Rail Road a disability rate three to four times that of the average railroad.
The Long Island Rail Road, unlike any other commuter railroad in the country, allows workers to collect an early pension, in some cases at age 50, which they can supplement with disability pensions from the federal railroad agency. The Times found that retired railroad employees who had successfully claimed disability were regularly playing golf at a state-owned course without charge — another perquisite of their disability.
Indeed, the railroad’s retirement rate was particularly striking when compared with the number of disability pensions at Metro-North Railroad, another subsidiary of the transit authority that serves commuters to New York City with a work force of similar size and composition.
Investigators involved in the case said they brought charges only in cases with the strongest proof and the most egregious instances of fraud. But in a news conference on Thursday, officials gave a warning to railroad retirees with knowledge about any continuing disability fraud.
“If you have this kind of firsthand information, we would like to hear from you,” said Diego Rodriguez, the special agent in charge of the criminal division of the F.B.I.’s New York office. “For those who choose not to contact us, there is a good chance we will be contacting you.” 
Helena E. Williams, president of the Long Island Rail Road, said, “We have to be very vigilant making any improvements we can make with the mission of changing the culture at the railroad.”
Two doctors were charged in the case, Peter J. Ajemian, 62, of Syosset, and Peter Lesniewski, 60, of Rockville Centre, N.Y. A third doctor whose conduct was detailed in the complaint recently died. Together, they were responsible for 86 percent of the railroad’s disability applications filed before 2008, running what amounted to “disability mills,” the complaint said. They prepared false medical assessments and so-called illness narratives for hundreds of retirees to file with the retirement board, the complaint says.
Dr. Ajemian was taken into custody on Thursday; Dr. Lesniewski is expected to surrender on Friday. Dr. Ajemian was assisted by his office manager, Maria Rusin, 55, of Farmingdale, N.Y., who was also charged in the case, the complaint said.
The doctors were paid — often in cash — $800 to $1,200 for each fake assessment and narrative, in addition to the millions of dollars in health insurance payments they received for unnecessary medical treatments and fees for preparing false medical records to support the disability claims, the complaint said.
Also charged in the case were the former railroad union president, Joseph Rutigliano, 64, of Holtsville, N.Y., and Marie Baran, 64, of East Meadow, N.Y., who served as the Railroad Retirement Board’s district office manager in Westbury, N.Y., until she retired in 2006, according to the complaint.
Mr. Rutigliano, a former conductor with the Long Island Rail Road, retired in 1999, after a year in which he worked more than 500 hours of overtime and took no sick leave, according to the complaint. He then applied for and received disability benefits after his retirement.
Others who were charged with falsely claiming they were unable to work and receiving disability benefits were Sharon Falloon, 56, of Merrick, N.Y.; Gary Satin, 62, of Mooresville, N.C.; and Richard Ehrlinger, 64, of Bay Shore, N.Y., according to the complaint.
Ms. Falloon, who collected $90,349 annually in disability and pension payments, said she had a hard time climbing stairs, the complaint said. But surveillance video showed her taking a 45-minute step aerobics class at a gym. The video ran out after two hours, the complaint, but Ms. Falloon was still working out.

Americans 'Hooked on Government' as Record Number Get Benefits

Brian Faler

(Bloomberg) -- Political dysfunction is often blamed for Congress's inability to curb the U.S. budget deficit. An even bigger obstacle may be the American public.
A record 49 percent of Americans live in a household where someone receives at least one type of government benefit, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And 63 percent of all federal spending this year will consist of checks written to individuals for which the government receives currently no services, the White House budget office estimates. That's up from 46 percent in 1975 and 18 percent in 1940.
Those figures will climb in coming years. The 75 million baby boomers have only begun their long march into retirement, while President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul will extend insurance coverage to more than 30 million additional people.
"The more households that are benefiting from the programs, the more difficult it is to rein in their costs," said Bob Bixby, head of the Concord Coalition, an Arlington, Virginia- based group that promotes balanced budgets. "It's a troubling phenomenon" and "it explains why it's politically difficult to deal with these things."
The increasing reliance on the federal safety net comes as a congressional supercommittee -- charged with coming up with a plan by Thanksgiving to find $1.5 trillion in savings in the U.S. budget -- faces mounting pressure to pare back spending. If the panel fails to meet its goal, $1.2 trillion in across-the-board domestic and defense spending cuts will be triggered.

It's the Economy

Senator Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican who sits on the 12- member supercommittee, said the swelling number of beneficiaries is "very distressing" because it means much of the population is "hooked on government" and will oppose any cuts.
The census figure showing 49 percent of Americans, or about 147 million people, live in households where someone gets a federal benefit, is from the first quarter of 2010, the most recent numbers available, according to the bureau.
A confluence of elements is helping drive up the number of beneficiaries. The biggest is the economy. With the unemployment rate stuck at about 9 percent for 30 consecutive months, demand for unemployment benefits, food stamps and Medicaid has soared.
The number of Americans receiving food stamps alone is up 72 percent over the past five years, to a record 45.3 million. Their annual cost, projected this year to reach $80 billion, tops the yearly budgets of most federal agencies.
Another cost-driver is the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even with the Iraq conflict winding down -- Obama said last week all U.S. troops will be home by the end of the year -- the more than 2 million Americans who have served in one of the theaters have begun claiming promised health-care and education benefits.

Good, Bad News

Those medical bills could reach $55 billion over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The number claiming education benefits is up almost 60 percent since 2009, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"The good news is their survival rate, but the bad news is their survival rate," said Bill Hoagland, a former staff director of the Senate Budget Committee.
Demographics also play a major role. The eldest baby boomers became eligible this year for Medicare, three years after beginning to receive Social Security checks. Though much of the debate over the programs' finances has focused on what to do about spiraling health-care costs, the CBO said the main challenge over the next 25 years will be the number of people claiming benefits.
"Of the two factors, aging is the more important," the CBO said in a June report. With 10,000 Americans turning 62 every day, the ranks of Social Security recipients are projected to almost double to 97 million by 2035.

Expanding Benefits

Congress also has repeatedly expanded benefits in recent years, adding to the ranks of potential losers in any deficit- reduction deal.
A 2010 law eased eligibility standards for Pell college tuition grants, one reason the number of recipients is up about 70 percent in five years to a projected 9.4 million this year. The increase in veterans claiming education benefits is partly driven by a 2008 "Post-9/11 G.I. Bill" that expanded assistance to cover the entire cost of a college education, including tuition, housing and books.
Even in the face of calls to cut the deficit, Congress came up with a new entitlement program.
Last year, as lawmakers prepared to leave for the Christmas recess, they agreed to create a program for emergency responders to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, promising medical care for conditions ranging from panic disorders to sleep apnea.
More than 60,000 people have enrolled since the program opened for business in July.

'Helping Everybody'

"You've got to be seen helping everybody," said Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican who was criticized when he temporarily blocked creation of the program. Coburn had complained that the government had already appropriated money for responders' care, and Congress shouldn't be developing additional entitlements amid so much concern over financing existing ones.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat, complained that opinion polls show the public neither wants benefits cut nor taxes raised.
A Bloomberg News-Washington Post poll earlier this month found more than four-fifths of Americans opposed reducing Social Security or Medicare benefits. A similar share said they didn't want taxes increased on the middle class either, although they favored raising them on wealthier people.
"None of this adds up," said Conrad. "One of the biggest obstacles to doing what has to be done is public opinion."

How Social Security went ‘cash negative’ earlier than expected


Last year, as a debate over the runaway national debt gathered steam in Washington, Social Security passed a treacherous milestone. It went “cash negative.”
For most of its 75-year history, the program had paid its own way through a dedicated stream of payroll taxes, even generating huge surpluses for the past two decades. But in 2010, under the strain of a recession that caused tax revenue to plummet, the cost of benefits outstripped tax collections for the first time since the early 1980s.
Now, Social Security is sucking money out of the Treasury. This year, it will add a projected $46 billion to the nation’s budget problems, according to projections by system trustees. Replacing cash lost to a one-year payroll tax holiday will require an additional $105 billion. If the payroll tax break is expanded next year, as President Obama has proposed, Social Security will need an extra $267 billion to pay promised benefits.
But while talk about fixing the nation’s finances has grown more urgent, fixing Social Security has largely vanished from the conversation.
Lawmakers in both parties are ducking the issue, wary of agitating older voters and their advocates in Washington, who have long targeted politicians who try to tamper with federal retirement benefits. Democrats lost control of the House last year in part because seniors abandoned them in protest over Medicare cuts in Obama’s much-contested health-care act, and no one in Washington has forgotten that lesson.
In his February budget request, Obama ignored the Social Security blueprint put forth by his own bipartisan panel on debt reduction. During this summer’s debt-limit showdown, he endorsed the panel’s proposal to tie future benefits to a less-generous inflation index. But Obama took that idea off the table in September when he submitted recommendations to a special debt-reduction “supercommittee” now at work on Capitol Hill. Until recently, members of the supercommittee said, Social Security had rarely come up in their closed deliberations.
Social Security is hardly the biggest drain on the budget. But unless Congress acts, its finances will continue to deteriorate as the rising tide of baby boomers begins claiming benefits. The $2.6 trillion Social Security trust fund will provide little relief. The government has borrowed every cent and now must raise taxes, cut spending or borrow more heavily from outside investors to keep benefit checks flowing.
Many Democrats have largely chosen to ignore the shortfall, insisting the program is flush, citing the existence of the trust fund. They argue that fixing Social Security can wait, perhaps for years.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who is fighting to maintain control of the Senate, has been particularly outspoken. In March, as a bipartisan group of six senators was gaining attention for a push to draft a debt-reduction plan that included a Social Security fix, Reid summoned hundreds of activists to a rally on Capitol Hill. Fresh off a tough reelection campaign that turned in his favor after he accused his tea party opponent of wanting to “wipe out” Social Security, Reid exhorted policymakers to “leave Social Security alone.”
“Let’s worry about Social Security when it’s a problem. Today, it is not a problem,” Reid said to applause.
In an MSNBC interview, he added: “Social Security does not add a single penny, not a dime, a nickel, a dollar to the budget problems we have. Never has and, for the next 30 years, it won’t do that.”
Such statements have not been true since at least 2009, when the cost of monthly checks regularly began to exceed payroll tax collections. A spokesman said Reid stands by his comments and his view that Social Security is entirely self-financed. But Reid’s position has frustrated some Democrats who argue that fixing Social Security — the government’s single-largest program — would go a long way toward restoring confidence among future retirees and the nation’s investors.
“It’s the one thing I’ve had the most difficult time grasping,” said Erskine Bowles, the former Clinton White House chief of staff who co-chaired Obama’s fiscal panel with former GOP senator Alan Simpson.
The Bowles-Simpson plan would have righted the system’s finances with a combination of payroll tax increases and reductions in scheduled benefits, mainly years down the road. It would have hit upper-income workers while raising benefits for the most needy, those with average lifetime earnings of less than $11,000 a year. “By making these relatively small changes, you make it solvent and you make it be there for people who depend on it,” Bowles said. “I thought that’s what we as Democrats were supposed to be for.”
Just as the GOP has rejected any form of tax increase to contain the debt, however, Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have ruled out any reduction in government retirement benefits. Last week, Reid softened his stand, backing a Democratic proposal to the supercommittee that included the change in the Social Security inflation index. In return, however, Democrats demanded $1.3 trillion in new tax revenue — which Republicans instantly rejected, leaving the ideological divide as wide as ever.
Even that modest change to Social Security is drawing fire, however, from a powerful network of organizations representing the elderly, unionized workers and traditional liberals. For years, these groups have cast any proposal to trim the growth in retirement benefits as unnecessary — and as a mean-spirited attack on the elderly.
In recent weeks, AARP, the nation’s largest and most influential seniors organization, has been airing television ads in which an older man warns viewers that “some in Washington want to make a deal cutting the Social Security and Medicare benefits we worked for,” instead of cutting “waste and loopholes.” AARP’s legislative director, David Certner, said the ads reflect the popular view that Social Security should not be dragged into a separate debate over the nation’s escalating debt.
“We paid into these programs all our lives,” he said. “This is our money. Congress has no business cutting into this program.”
The public relations campaign has proved effective, particularly in the wake of a recession that devastated private retirement accounts and left even younger people anxious about the future. Eighty-two percent of Americans worry that Social Security will not deliver promised benefits, according to a recent poll for Americans for a Secure Retirement. Fifty percent oppose cutting the program “no matter what.”
Poll numbers such as those have an impact. “If you’re trying to win an election, you look at this and say, ‘It is a lost cause,’ ” said former senator Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), who co-chaired a 1994 Social Security commission. “AARP has made a decision to make it almost impossible” to fix the program, he said. “If they tag you as someone who wants to cut benefits, you’re dead in the water.”
Even some longtime champions of Social Security are getting frustrated by the lack of movement. “The political stance of my progressive friends is you can’t touch anything, and that doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and an economist in the Clinton White House. “Social Security is the backbone of our retirement system,” Munnell said in an interview. “We should fix it because people are going to need it.”
A costly transformation
What Congress gives, it finds almost impossible to take away.
Created during the Great Depression, Social Security grew in popularity as Congress repeatedly raised benefits through the 1950s and 1960s and then, in the 1970s, set initial benefits to rise automatically with wages and with inflation thereafter.
Those changes made the program vastly more expensive than the “old age and survivors” insurance originally envisioned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He wanted to protect workers and their families from financial hardship due to death, disability or aging. Retirement benefits were available at 65, at a time when life expectancy was significantly lower than today.
“The American social insurance plan works on the assumption that I will work, make meaningful contributions and, if I face one of these common tragedies of life — unemployment, disability, impending death — collectively we’re going to pool the risk together,” said Andy Achenbaum, a University of Houston professor who has written extensively about Social Security. But, he said, “I really was expected to work as long as I could contribute.”
That began to change as the concept of retirement gripped the public imagination, Achenbaum said. In the 1950s, financial executives began trying to persuade people to “invest” in their retirement, making it something to save for, like a new car. The 1960s gave rise to the “Golden Years,” a concept popularized by housing developer Del Webb, who broke ground for his first leisure community in Sun City, Ariz., in 1961.
Congress aided the transformation, enacting an “early eligibility age” that permitted qualified workers to claim Social Security benefits at age 62.
Retirement was no longer viewed as a brief period of rest at the end of life. It became an integral element of the American dream, said author Marc Freedman, who has studied the cultural history of retirement. “People scrimped and saved and deferred gratification to get to it as soon as possible — not even 65 or 62, but in your 50s,” Freedman said. “That became the definition of success: Whoever gets there first, wins.”
The average age for claiming Social Security benefits dropped from 68 in 1940 to 63 in 1980, where it remains. Meanwhile, average life expectancy has risen by five years. The average worker spends 20 years drawing benefits. A quarter will see their 90th birthday.
As a result, the average retirees have gotten back far more in federal benefits than they paid into the system during their working life, according to research by Eugene Steuerle, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. That return is diminishing, in part because people today have paid more into the system than previous generations. But a two-earner, middle-income couple retiring this year can expect to get $913,000 in Social Security and Medicare benefits over their lifetimes, in return for $717,000 in payroll taxes.
“I don’t think anybody envisioned a 30-year retirement,” Freedman said. “That was never really the goal. And it certainly doesn’t make any sense today.”
‘That’s not the deal’
No crystal ball is necessary to predict Social Security’s future. Hard numbers tell the story. Social Security supports about 55 million people. By 2035, that figure will swell to 91 million. Today, for every person claiming benefits, there are three workers paying into the system. By 2035, there will be two.
Congress foresaw this as early as 1983. Inflation had driven the program’s costs through the roof. After decades of expansion, Congress finally had to scale back the program, choosing to tax wealthier retirees’ benefits and gradually raise the retirement age to 67.
Those changes, along with other adjustments, restored solvency and promised yearly surpluses that would build up the trust fund in preparation for the retirements of the baby boom. The surpluses were invested in special Treasury bonds, which, by law, must be repaid with interest.
Assuming they are, Social Security can pay full benefits through 2036. Once the trust fund is depleted, the system would rely solely on incoming taxes, and benefits would have to be cut by about 25 percent across the board.
Several factors have disrupted even that timetable. The recent recession caused the program to go cash negative years earlier than expected. The payroll tax holiday is depriving the system of revenue. And 10 years of escalating debt have crippled the government’s ability to repay the trust fund.
Certner, of the AARP, said it is unfair to cut Social Security benefits to solve that problem.
“The federal government is saying, ‘We’re in the red right now and we’re having trouble paying back Social Security, so we’d like to cut Social Security benefits,’ ” Certner said. “But that’s not the deal.”
Others argue that the deal has long since been abandoned and that the trust fund has become a fiction of accounting. “We can debate until the cows come home whether there’s really a trust fund or not,” said Olivia Mitchell, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who served on a 2001 presidential commission to study Social Security. “But the fact is, there’s no money available to pay for those benefits. And the system is short on cash now.”
Few argue that Social Security is too generous. This year, the average retirement check is $1,181 a month, or about $14,000 a year. Because of caps in the formula, even the wealthiest Americans get checks of only about $2,500 a month.
“Benefits are probably too high for upper-income workers,” who should be able to save more on their own, said David John, a retirement expert at the Heritage Foundation. But, he added, “they are actually too low for lower-income workers.”
“If we focused on this, we could fix it,” John said, but that pragmatic approach has been stymied by competing ideological views about the program’s purpose.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), who has long allied with those who want to preserve the current benefit structure, surprised much of Washington last year when, as a member of the Bowles-Simpson commission, he backed cuts in benefits as well as tax increases to stabilize the program.
The panel’s report — and Durbin’s vote — drew howls from Social Security’s defenders. Obama declined to back it. And Senate leaders resisted an effort by Durbin and five other senators from both parties to bring the plan to a vote in the Senate, an effort that ultimately failed.
In an interview, Durbin said he decided to back the Bowles-Simpson plan because he viewed it as “a chance to seize a bipartisan opportunity” to restore the program to solvency. He said friends assured him that regular people would accept ideas such as gradually raising the normal retirement age to 68 over 40 years: “To a person, they said, ‘Over 40 years? That’s not a problem.’ ”
“The reaction from some of the groups — and they’re my friends — I think was an overreaction,” Durbin said. “As I looked at this, I thought small changes made today will give 50 years or more solvency to Social Security. And that should be our goal.”



Tom DeWeese - American Policy Center

Sustainable Development is the 1992 action plan set forth by the United Nations in 40 chapters of a socialist political agenda called Agenda 21 to control every aspect of life. Some of the more important goals are:

Change Consumption Patterns;
Promote Sustainable Human Settlements;
Plan & Manage All Land Resources, Ecosystems, Deserts, Forests, Mountains, Oceans, Fresh Water;
Rural Development;
Ensuring Equity;
an increased role for Non-Government Organizations (NGOs); and
define the role of Business and Financial Resources.

All this was to be accomplished on a global, national, and local scale.

The 5 Paths to Sustainable Development


The first two paths to "sustainable development" calls for strict land use policies designed to tell humans where and how they will live.

1) THE WILDLANDS PROJECT was conceived by Dave Foreman, author of "Earth First"

Half of the land area of the entire United States will be designated "wilderness areas", where only wildlife managers and researchers will be allowed. These areas will be interconnected by "corridors of wilderness" to allow migration of wildlife, without interference by human activity. Wolves will be as plentiful in Virginia as they are now in Idaho and Montana.

The abominable plan is to herd humans off the rural lands and into "human settlements" one step at a time. From the diabolical mind of Foreman, the plan became the blueprint for the UN's Biodiversity Treaty making it international in scope. The treaty was rejected by the U. S. Senate. Nonetheless, it has made its way down the chain of command using rule-making authority administratively.

It begins with a large wilderness reserve where there is no human activity such as National Parks. One such area in the Commonwealth is the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area which covers approximately 1800 square miles of Virginia. These areas are for the most part, road less areas where cars are off limits. Around the park is a highly regulated buffer zone which consists of mostly agricultural and forestal land where human activity is strictly limited.

Strict regulations and special permit requirements for every activity related to farming, logging, livestock, mining etc. make it difficult for land owners to realize a profit. Add to that the down-zoning to require 25 or more acres to build one home and it is unlikely there will be any future development of the land. Eventually the land owner is forced to take conservation easement relief to reduce the tax liability for the land in order to save it and survive. In exchange for tax relief, the land owner agrees that the land will forever be preserved void of any human activity. As rural land is removed from the tax base, the tax burden increases to the remaining land owners. This is just one of many programs to redistribute wealth.

The preserved land then becomes part of the wilderness reserve and the buffer zone is now expanded outward around the now larger wilderness reserve. The process is perpetuated and, like a cancer, it is ever expanding and the goal of locking away 50% or more of America's landscape is achieved.
Many rural land owners have long envisioned that if they invest their life's work in land, they could retire on the profits of future development of their property. But central planning to preserve rural land and limit growth to within the new urban boundaries extinguishes any hope of realizing that dream. How will they support themselves in their twilight years when their only potential source of income is diminished?

2) SMART GROWTH is the counterpart for the Wildlands;

As human activity is moved from rural lands, smart growth policies dictate the establishment of high-density government controlled, government subsidized feudalistic zones of cooperation called "human settlements" in the in charter. Virginia calls them Urban Development Areas" (UDA's).

The areas designated for urban development will consist of mixed use subsidized housing funded by our State Treasury and all managed by non-government boards that resemble "Home Owners Associations." Housing units will be designed to provide most of the infrastructure and amenities required by the residents. Shops and office space will be an integral part of each unit, and housing will be allocated on a priority basis to people who work in the unit - with quotas to achieve ethnic and economic balance. Schools, daycare and recreation facilities will be provided. Each unit will be designed for bicycle and foot traffic, to reduce, if not eliminate, the need for people to use automobiles. There is little focus on the building or expansion of roads and more emphasis on public transportation.

The plan is to limit growth to within the urban boundaries to prevent sprawl; reduce the carbon footprint to eliminate the undefined, unsubstantiated science of "global warming"; reduce the impact of humans on the environment outside the urban boundary zone.
A natural consequence of growth limited to within the UDAs is the shortage of land which results in a much higher cost for housing. Higher housing costs means higher taxes. housing costs are further increased as green building codes are imposed that require the use of internationally approved "green seal" materials.

There are strict regulations imposed to require a permit to remove a tree, disturb land for any reason such as tilling for a vegetable or flower garden, landscape regulations to dictate what plant species can be planted, what materials can be used to build a home, a tiered rate for water consumption that has the potential of a high increase in the cost of water especially for those with large families, energy efficiency standards and energy audits that will result in limits on consumption and result in the expensive refitting of a home in order to meet ones' daily needs for water and energy.


The third path is the most important to the implementation of sustainable development policies. It is the use of these unelected bodies draft the plans and establish the policies, set fees, and in many cases can create debt all at the expense of the taxpayer. Many even have the power of eminent domain.

Sustainable development policy dictates this transformation of the policy-making process. The idea that government is empowered by the consent of the governed is the idea that set the United States apart from all previous forms government. It is the principle that unleashed individual creativity and free markets, which launched the spectacular rise of the world's most successful nation.

The idea, and the process by which citizens can reject laws they don't want, simply by replacing the officials who enacted them, makes the ballot box the source of power for every citizen, and the point of accountability for every politician.

When public policy is made by elected officials who are accountable to the people who are governed, then government is truly empowered by the consent of the governed. Sustainable development has designed an administratively, with only symbolic, if any, participation by elected officials and the public. The professionals and bureaucrates who actually make the policies are not accountable to the people who are governed by them.

This is the "new collaborative decisions process," called for by the President's Council on Sustainable Development and is being used to steer communities to a "consensus" of a predetermined goal. Because the policies are developed at the top, by professionals and bureaucrats, and sent down the administrative chain of command to state and local governments, elected officials feel they have little option but to accept them. Acceptance is further ensured when these policies are accompanied by "economic incentives and disincentives." along with lobbying and public relations campaigns coordinated by government-funded non-government organizations not to mention the lobbying efforts of all the other special interests which stand to gain from the new policies.


Today, many freedom organizations are presenting PPPs as free enterprise and a private answer for keeping taxes down by using business to make a better society.
In truth many PPPs are nothing more than government-sanctioned monopolies in which a few business's are granted special favors like tax breaks, the power of eminent domain, non-compete clauses and specific guarantees for a return on their investments. Only those approved by the internationally recognized green building certification system called Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) will survive.

As a result, they can charge what they want and they can use the power of government to put competition out of business. That is not free enterprise and will result in the opposite of economic development. One only needs to look to history with all the jobs that have been sent abroad to see the negative impact on jobs when government selects the winners and losers in business.


To ensure that sustainability principles will be the new standard for future generations. Since freedom-loving people would never willingly submit to such totalitarian control, education became the "key" to sustainable development. Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 called education, Public Awareness, and Training, made clear an intention to integrate Agenda 21 into ALL curriculum as a de facto international education standard.

Education for Sustainable Development began in the US with the No Child Left Behind Act to reinforce the United States' commitment to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO's) goals for education.

Today, President Bush's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) holds states "accountable" to implement their previously signed agreements. States and districts that refuse to "align" their standards, curriculum, and assessments with these so-called "world-class standards" will lose federal funding. NCLB requires full implementation by the end of 2014 - which just so happens to be the final year of The United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. What a coincidence!

The US Department of Education carefully insulated themselves from critics of this radical agenda by funding tax-exempt, non-government organizations (NGOs) to do their dirty work. Sometimes an NGO is several layers removed from its true funding source. 

American History quotes on the 1929 Stock Market Crash

1. "We will not have any more crashes in our time."
- John Maynard Keynes in 1927 [NB: The authenticity of this one is a little suspect]
2. "I cannot help but raise a dissenting voice to statements that we are living in a fool's paradise, and that prosperity in this country must necessarily diminish and recede in the near future."
- E. H. H. Simmons, President, New York Stock Exchange, January 12, 1928
"There will be no interruption of our permanent prosperity."
- Myron E. Forbes, President, Pierce Arrow Motor Car Co., January 12, 1928
3. "No Congress of the United States ever assembled, on surveying the state of the Union, has met with a more pleasing prospect than that which appears at the present time. In the domestic field there is tranquility and contentment...and the highest record of years of prosperity. In the foreign field there is peace, the goodwill which comes from mutual understanding."
- Calvin Coolidge December 4, 1928
4. "There may be a recession in stock prices, but not anything in the nature of a crash."
- Irving Fisher, leading U.S. economist, New York Times, Sept. 5, 1929
5. "Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau. I do not feel there will be soon if ever a 50 or 60 point break from present levels, such as (bears) have predicted. I expect to see the stock market a good deal higher within a few months."
- Irving Fisher, Ph.D. in economics, Oct. 17, 1929
"This crash is not going to have much effect on business."
- Arthur Reynolds, Chairman of Continental Illinois Bank of Chicago, October 24, 1929
"There will be no repetition of the break of yesterday... I have no fear of another comparable decline."
- Arthur W. Loasby (President of the Equitable Trust Company), quoted in NYT, Friday, October 25, 1929
"We feel that fundamentally Wall Street is sound, and that for people who can afford to pay for them outright, good stocks are cheap at these prices."
- Goodbody and Company market-letter quoted in The New York Times, Friday, October 25, 1929
6. "This is the time to buy stocks. This is the time to recall the words of the late J. P. Morgan... that any man who is bearish on America will go broke. Within a few days there is likely to be a bear panic rather than a bull panic. Many of the low prices as a result of this hysterical selling are not likely to be reached again in many years."
- R. W. McNeel, market analyst, as quoted in the New York Herald Tribune, October 30, 1929
"Buying of sound, seasoned issues now will not be regretted"
- E. A. Pearce market letter quoted in the New York Herald Tribune, October 30, 1929
"Some pretty intelligent people are now buying stocks... Unless we are to have a panic -- which no one seriously believes, stocks have hit bottom."
- R. W. McNeal, financial analyst in October 1929
7. "The decline is in paper values, not in tangible goods and services...America is now in the eighth year of prosperity as commercially defined. The former great periods of prosperity in America averaged eleven years. On this basis we now have three more years to go before the tailspin."
- Stuart Chase (American economist and author), NY Herald Tribune, November 1, 1929
"Hysteria has now disappeared from Wall Street."
- The Times of London, November 2, 1929
"The Wall Street crash doesn't mean that there will be any general or serious business depression... For six years American business has been diverting a substantial part of its attention, its energies and its resources on the speculative game... Now that irrelevant, alien and hazardous adventure is over. Business has come home again, back to its job, providentially unscathed, sound in wind and limb, financially stronger than ever before."
- Business Week, November 2, 1929
"...despite its severity, we believe that the slump in stock prices will prove an intermediate movement and not the precursor of a business depression such as would entail prolonged further liquidation..."
- Harvard Economic Society (HES), November 2, 1929
8. "... a serious depression seems improbable; [we expect] recovery of business next spring, with further improvement in the fall."
- HES, November 10, 1929
"The end of the decline of the Stock Market will probably not be long, only a few more days at most."
- Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics at Yale University, November 14, 1929
"In most of the cities and towns of this country, this Wall Street panic will have no effect."
- Paul Block (President of the Block newspaper chain), editorial, November 15, 1929
"Financial storm definitely passed."
- Bernard Baruch, cablegram to Winston Churchill, November 15, 1929
9. "I see nothing in the present situation that is either menacing or warrants pessimism... I have every confidence that there will be a revival of activity in the spring, and that during this coming year the country will make steady progress."
- Andrew W. Mellon, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury December 31, 1929
"I am convinced that through these measures we have reestablished confidence."
- Herbert Hoover, December 1929
"[1930 will be] a splendid employment year."
- U.S. Dept. of Labor, New Year's Forecast, December 1929
10. "For the immediate future, at least, the outlook (stocks) is bright."
- Irving Fisher, Ph.D. in Economics, in early 1930
11. "...there are indications that the severest phase of the recession is over..."
- Harvard Economic Society (HES) Jan 18, 1930
12. "There is nothing in the situation to be disturbed about."
- Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, Feb 1930
13. "The spring of 1930 marks the end of a period of grave concern...American business is steadily coming back to a normal level of prosperity."
- Julius Barnes, head of Hoover's National Business Survey Conference, Mar 16, 1930
"... the outlook continues favorable..."
- HES Mar 29, 1930
14. "... the outlook is favorable..."
- HES Apr 19, 1930
15. "While the crash only took place six months ago, I am convinced we have now passed through the worst -- and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover. There has been no significant bank or industrial failure. That danger, too, is safely behind us."
- Herbert Hoover, President of the United States, May 1, 1930
" May or June the spring recovery forecast in our letters of last December and November should clearly be apparent..."
- HES May 17, 1930
"Gentleman, you have come sixty days too late. The depression is over."
- Herbert Hoover, responding to a delegation requesting a public works program to help speed the recovery, June 1930
16. "... irregular and conflicting movements of business should soon give way to a sustained recovery..."
- HES June 28, 1930
17. "... the present depression has about spent its force..."
- HES, Aug 30, 1930
18. "We are now near the end of the declining phase of the depression."
- HES Nov 15, 1930
19. "Stabilization at [present] levels is clearly possible."
- HES Oct 31, 1931
20. "All safe deposit boxes in banks or financial institutions have been sealed... and may only be opened in the presence of an agent of the I.R.S."
- President F.D. Roosevelt, 1933
Fast forward... year 2001
Future of US economy "very bright"-Fed's Broaddus
"Despite the current slowdown, however, intermediate and longer-term prospects for the U.S. economy are still very bright"
- Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Alfred Broaddus, in a speech to the Virginia Housing Coalition, June 14, 2001.
Treasury Secretary Sees 'Golden Age'
"[the country is] on the edge of a golden age of prosperity... I think we're not doing badly for the kind of correction that we're in right now... It's easy to find gloom and doom, but consumers are hanging in there, their spending rates are still quite good... The contraction occurred ... in the investment sector, where we had an overexpansion."
- Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, on ABC's "This Week.", Sunday June 24, 2001.

1929 “It came with a speed and ferocity that left men dazed. The bottom, simply fell out of the market..... The streets were crammed with a mixed crowd — agonized little speculators,... sold-out traders,... inquisitive individuals and tourists seeking ... a closer view of the national catastrophe..... Where was it going to end?” Account of the stock market crash in the New York Times.
1929 “The wires to other cities were jammed with frantic orders to sell. So were the cables, radio, and telephones to Europe and the rest of the world. Buyers were few, sometimes wholly absent.... This was real panic.... When the closing bell rang, the great bull market was dead and buried.” Jonathan Norton Leonard, in Three Years Down.
1929 “Wave after wave of selling again moved down prices on the Stock Exchange today and billions of dollars were clipped from values. “Traders surged about brokerage offices watching their holdings wiped out.... It was one of the worst breaks in history.... “For a time, in the morning, the market was showing signs of rallying power.... Then new waves of selling out of poorly margined accounts started another reaction...” Minneapolis Star account of “Black Tuesday” (October 29, 1929), when the stock market “collapsed”: panic selling took place, with owners of stock wanting to sell, no matter how great their loss.
And Depression Follows
1930 “Our children have Schoolless days and Shoeless days.... [W]hy are we reduced to poverty and starving and anxiety and sorrow.... Why not end the Depression have you not a heart...” Letter from a New Jersey resident to President Hoover.
c. 1930 “We do not dare to use even a little soap, when it will pay for an extra egg or a few more carrots for our children.” An unemployed father in Oregon.
c. 1931 “You can get pretty discouraged and your soles can get pretty thin after you’ve been job hunting a couple of months.” Unemployed man in Minnesota
1931 “One woman said she borrowed 50 cents from a friend and bought stale bread for 3 cents per loaf, and that is all they had for 11 days except for one or two meals.... Another family did not food for two days. Then the husband went out and gathered dandelions and the family lived on them.” Report of an investigator in Philadelphia.
c. 1931 “Hoovervilles” (shabby shantytowns with unemployed people) “Hoover hogs” (armadillos, large rodents eaten in the South) “Hoover blankets” (thrown-away newspapers) Depression-era terms

c. 1932 “They hung around street corners and in groups. They gave each other solace. They were loath to go home because they were indicted, as if it were their fault for being unemployed. A jobless man was a lazy good-for-nothing.... These men were suffered from depression. They felt despised, they were ashamed of themselves.” Psychologist Nathan Ackerman, reporting on the impact of long-term unemployment on coal miners. At the height of the Great Depression in late 1932, about 22% of the work force was unemployed.
c. 1933 “We had a coal stove, and we had to each take turns, the three of us kids, to warm our legs. It was awfully cold when you opened those garage doors.... In the morning, we’d get out and get some snow and put it on the stove and melt it and wash our faces. Never the neck or anything. Put on our two pairs of socks on each hand and two pairs of socks on our feet, and long underwear and lace it up with Goodwill shoes. Off we’s walk, three, four miles to school.” Dynamite Garland
c. 1933 There were “people living in old, rusted out car bodies.... There were people living in shacks made of orange crates. One family with a whole lot of kids were living in a piano box.” One woman’s memories of the Depression.
c. 1933 “Everyone was emotionally affected. We developed a fear of the future which was very difficult to overcome. Even though I eventually went into some fairly good jobs, there was still this constant dread: everything would be cut out from under you and you wouldn’t know what to do. It would even be harder, because you were older.” Ward James
c. 1933 “My children have got no shoes and clothing to go to school with, and we haven’t got enough bed clothes to keep us warm.” West Virginia man to his senator.
c. 1933 “Can you be so kind as to advise me as to which would be the most human way to dispose of my self and family, as this is about the only thing that I see left to do.” Despondent Pennsylvania man who was considering suicide.
c. 1933 “The great majority reacted by thinking money is the most important thing in the world..... And there was a small number of people who felt the whole system was lousy. You have to change it.” Virginia Durr, a Federal employee, on ways that people reacted to the Great Depression.
c. 1933 “We got enough to get along on, and we got each other. That should be enough to make anyone happy.” A shoe factory worker.
1934 “Fathers feel they have lost their prestige in the home; there is much nagging, mothers nag at fathers, parents nag at the children. Children of working age who earn meager salaries find it hard to turn over all their earnings and deny themselves even the greatest necessities and as a result, leave home.” Chicago social working, reporting on the impact of the Depression on family life.
c. 1934 “It’s perfectly true that my word is not law around here as it once was. When they see me, hanging around the house all the time and know that I can’t find work, it has its effect all right.” An unemployed father to a social worker.
Government Responds to the Depression: The Hoover Administration
1929 “The fundamental business of the country, that is production and distribution of commodities, is on a sound and prosperous basis.” President Hoover, in a press conference on October 30, the day following the Stock Market crash. That was in fact true, but the great losses of money, especially by speculators, caused people to stop buying things. The stoppage of purchases by large numbers of consumers put the country into the Great Depression.
1929 “Any lack of confidence in the economic future of the United States is foolish.” President Herbert Hoover (November 15, 1929). 1930 “I do not believe that the power and the duty of the [Federal] Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering.... The lesson wqhould be constantly enforced that though the people support the Government, the Government should not support the people.” President Hoover, rejecting calls for the Federal Government to provide direct relief to the unemployed.
1931 Federal relief aid to end the Depression would cause “degeneration of that independence and initiation which are the very foundation of democracy.” President Hoover
1931 “For eighteen months, unemployment has been spreading poverty and acute suffering through industrial and agricultural areas alike. No one yet knows when the present economic disaster will be brought to an end.... “The administration’s efforts to attain economic security have consisted of attempts to minimize the serious of the Depression, of bold assurances that steps would restore prosperity were about to be taken, and of a woefully unsuccessful program to stimulate private or local agencies to undertake tasks which the administration was determine to shirk... “Timidity and disingenuousness have marked the course of the administration at a time when heroic courage and bold frankness were necessary.. Vigor and firm leadership have been displayed by the president at times, but only to resist proposals which would have mitigated suffering but which necessarily involved an additional levy upon wealthy income taxpayers.... “The third winter of unemployment is approaching. Responsibility for the failure of the federal government to provide a program for the relief of distress among millions of pour people rests squarely upon President Hoover. The bankruptcy of his leadership in the worst economic crisis in our history reveals the tragic failure of rugged individualism and places the major cost of deflation upon those least able to bear it — the unemployed.” Robert M. La Follette, Jr., in The Nation magazine
1931 “Our people are providing against distress from unemployment in true American fashion by magnificent response to public appeal and by action of local governments.” President Hoover, 1931 State of the Union Address.
1932 “My sober and considered judgement is that at this stage Federal aid would be a disservice to the unemployed.” President Hoover, 1932 State of the Union Address.
1932 “If you want to hear discussions on the future revolution in the United States, do not go to the breadlines and the mill towns, but to Park Avenue and Wall Street, or to the gatherings of young literary men. Well-fed people will anxiously inquire when you think the revolution is coming. They will admit in a large way that profits must be abolished and that some form of Communism might be desirable. In the next breath they may express doubt whether the Democrats can muster enough votes to defeat Mr. Hoover for reelection, or they may they may oppose moderate reforms like unemployment insurance.... “But you find that searching for actual flesh-and-blood revolutionary proletarians is a thankless task. Most of those who really suffer from the depression are... simply stricken dumb by it. Like the Republican administration, they await nothing more drastic than the return of prosperity.... “As long as people wait for the downtrodden and the hopeless to produce a revolution, the revolution is far away. Revolutions are made, not by the weak, the unsuccessful, or the ignorant, but by the strong and informed. They are processes, not merely of decay and destruction, but of advance and building. An old order does not disappear until a new order is ready to take its place.” George Soule in Harper’s magazine.
1932 “When the veterans of the Bonus Army tried to escape, they found that the bridges into Virginia were barred by soldiers and the Maryland roads blocked against them by state troopers. They wandered from street to street or sat in ragged groups, the men exhausted, the women with wet handkerchiefs laid over their smarting eyes, the children waking from sleep to cough and whimper from the tear gas in their lungs.... “Their shanties and tents had been burned, their personal property destroyed, except for the few belongings they could carry on their backs.... “Two days before, they had regarded themselves, and thought the country regarded them, as heroes trying to collect a debt long overdue.... When threatened with forcible eviction, they answered that no American soldier would touch them: hadn’t a detachment of Marines... thrown down its arms and refused to march against them? “But 1,000 homeless veterans, or 50,000, don’t make a revolution.... No, if any revolution results from the flight of the Bonus Army, it will come from a different source. The army in time of peace, at the national capital, has been used against unarmed citizens — and this, with all it threatens for the future, is a revolution in itself.” Malcolm Cowley, in The New Republic, on the rout of the Bonus Army, war veterans demanding that the government pay a bonus that had been promised to them after World War I.
1932 “I pledge you, I pledge myself to a new deal for the American people. Let us here assembled constitute ourselves prophets of a new order of competence and courage. This is more than a political campaign; it is a call to arms.... “[Government must help solve] the problem of underconsumption” and help in “distributing wealth and products more equitably.” Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-NY) speech accepting the nomination of the Democrat Party to be its presidential candidate.
1932 “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” Franklin D. Roosevelt, campaign speech.
1932 “Any party which accepts credit for the rain must not be surprised if its opponents blame it for the drought.” Dwight Morrow on President Hoover

OWS Needs a Republican President

Jonah Goldberg

It’s tough to have a revolution while supporting the status quo.

There’s only one way the Occupy Wall Street movement can become like the tea parties, and that’s for Barack Obama to lose in 2012. Why? Because Obama is the most divisive figure in American politics today.         
I suspect that sentence reads funny to some people because in the mainstream press, “divisive” is usually a term reserved for “conservatives we disagree with.” But as a factual matter it can apply to anybody who is, well, divisive.
Obviously, Obama divides the right and left. That’s not all that interesting or relevant (even if it does represent a failure to live up to his “one America” rhetoric from 2008). But Obama also divides everyone else. Independents, whom he desperately needs to win re-election, are split over Obama, with the bulk siding with Republicans.
Even more significant, the left is deeply divided over Obama. According to reports, the Occupy Wall Street movement is torn over whether to support the incumbent president. Polling of the protestors is sketchy at best, but so far it’s pretty clear that most of the protestors liked Obama in 2008, and now roughly half of them are disillusioned by, disappointed in, or opposed to Obama.
That should only make sense, right? If Occupy Wall Street is a sincere, organic, grassroots movement for radical change and overturning the status quo, it can’t be 100 percent behind the guy who’s been running the country for the last three years.
Moreover, Democrats had near total control of the government for Obama’s first two years. Together, Obama and congressional Democrats already got their Wall Street and student-loan reforms, their health-care overhaul, and a huge stimulus. And yet Occupy Wall Street is still furious with the political status quo. Does anyone believe Obama can both run on his record and co-opt the Occupy Wall Streeters? 
A “political hip-hop artist” who goes by the name “Immortal Technique” summarizes the view of many OWSers. “We’re willing to put [Obama’s] second term on the altar of democracy and sacrifice it if we need to,” I.T. told, “to send a message to the rest of the world saying, ‘If you promise us change, and then you deliver nothing but the same, if you do these little superficial changes to pacify the people, to placate people, then you expose yourself.’”
Of course, Occupy Wall Street is just one facet of Obama’s larger problem. Why is he running as a left-leaning populist these days? Because he has to unify and energize his mopey and dispirited base, and hope that he can woo back independents later.
This is where comparisons to the tea parties are instructive. As I’ve long argued, a major motivating passion of the tea-party movement was a long-delayed backlash against George W. Bush and his big-government conservatism. The Bush-Obama bailouts and Obamacare were the perfect excuse for a disaffected conservative base (as well as some independents and libertarians) to vent frustration about ballooning deficits, expanded entitlements, and other elements of Bush’s “compassionate conservatism.”
An iron law of politics is that parties out of power are more unified than parties in power. That’s because when you control the government, members of the ruling coalition squabble over who gets what. When you don’t control government, everyone can at least agree that the top priority is to win back control.
A corollary to that law is that it’s ideologically empowering to be out of power. When you don’t have responsibility for anything, you can afford the luxury of purity.
The tea parties had an easy time of it in 2009 because there was no one in power to defend and no compromises required. If the financial crisis had hit in 2006, the emergence of anything like the tea party would have torn the GOP apart. But in 2009, with Bush gone, Democrats running the show, and Obama championing a program that made George W. Bush look like Calvin Coolidge (praise be upon him), there was nothing holding back the tea parties.
For Occupy Wall Street to enjoy similar freedom, it can’t be hobbled by having to defend the most powerful and important politician in America. You can’t declare war with the status quo and support the chief author of the status quo at the same time. Similarly, you can’t run for re-election and be joined at the hip with fringe revolutionaries.
If it were possible to buy stock in Occupy Wall Street, shareholders would be doing everything they could for a Republican victory in 2012. Only then will you see Democratic leaders and Immortal Technique fans alike, locked arm in arm, in united opposition to the Powers that Be.

Adult Babies

Mark Steyn

There’s almost nothing you can’t get government to pay for.

Last Thursday was officially “Diaper Need Awareness Day” in the State of Connecticut. Were you aware of it? There are so many awareness-raising days, it’s hard to keep track. Maybe we could have an Awareness-Raising Day Awareness Day. At any rate, the first annual Diaper Need Awareness Day was proclaimed by Dan Malloy, governor of the Nutmeg State, and they had a big old awareness-raising get-together in New Haven. It’s not clear yet whether they’ve got an official ribbon. We’re running a bit low on ribbon colors these days: It’s not just pink ribbons for breast cancer, but also teal for agoraphobia, periwinkle for acid reflux, pink-and-blue ribbons for amniotic fluid embolisms, and pinstripe ribbons for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We could use a Ribbon-Hue Awareness Day to raise awareness about how we’re falling behind in the race for more ribbon colors.
If you’re wondering what sentient being isn’t aware of diapers, you’re missing the point: Connecticut representative Rosa DeLauro is raising awareness of the need for diapers in order to, as Politico reported, “push the Federal Government to provide free diapers to poor families.” Congresswoman DeLauro has introduced the DIAPER Act — that’s to say, the Diaper Investment and Aid to Promote Economic Recovery Act. So don’t worry, it’s not welfare, it’s “stimulus.” As Fox News put it, “A U.S. congresswoman in Connecticut wants to boost the economy by offering free diapers to low-income families.” And, given that sinking bazillions of dollars into green-jobs schemes to build eco-cars in Finland and a federal program to buy guns for Mexican drug cartels and all the other fascinating innovations of the Obama administration haven’t worked, who’s to say borrowing money from the Chinese politburo and sticking it in your kid’s diaper isn’t the kind of outside-the-box thinking that will do the trick?
In fact, the federal government already provides free diapers for at least one lucky American. Stanley Thornton Jr. of California receives Supplementary Security Income disability checks from the Social Security Administration in order to sit around the house all day wearing a giant diaper and a giant onesie, sucking on a giant pacifier and playing with a giant baby rattle. Stanley Jr. runs a website for fellow “adult babies” called I believe I first heard of the “adult baby” phenomenon some years ago in London. If memory serves, there was a club, and the members lay around in giant cribs being read bedtime stories by a bosomy nanny. Minor celebrities and possibly backbench Tory members of Parliament may have been involved. In those days, it was what we called a “fetish” and you had to do it on your own dime. Now it’s a “disability” and the United States government picks up the tab. And, if that’s not progress, what is?
Sen. Tom Coburn happened to catch Stan with his babysitter and fellow disability-check recipient on a reality show, and wondered how a chap capable of running a popular website and doing such complicated carpentry jobs as his own giant highchair could be legitimately classified as “disabled.” But the Social Security Administration said Junior qualifies, and Senator Coburn was condemned as heartless: Why, if those mean Republicans got their way, the streets would be crawling with giant babies bawling, “I want my mommy!” Conversely, if Congresswoman DeLauro gets her way and the stampede for government Huggies gets going, Stanley Thornton Jr. will still be entitled to park his giant pedal car in the disabled space while the penniless single mom from Hartford has to leave the Toyota at the back of the lot and hike in.
An able-bodied man paid by the government of the United States to lie in a giant crib wetting his diaper week in week out is almost too poignant an emblem of the republic at twilight. But, as Hillaire Belloc wrote, “Always keep a hold of Nurse / For fear of finding something worse.” Only last week, ABC News reported:
At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today, President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America.
Oh, no! The horror!
“Self-reliance” is now a pejorative? Nice to have that clarified. And San Francisco, a city that registers more dogs than it has kids enrolled in its schools and in which adults are perforce the children they never bothered having, seems as good a place as any to make it official. In less enlightened times, “self-reliance” was the great animating principle of the American experiment. By the standards of the day, George III was one of the most benign, caring rulers on earth: You were his mewling charges, and he was the regal babysitter. Then a bunch of settlers in small towns clinging to wilderness and thousands of miles from His Majesty the Nanny decided they didn’t need him and they could stand on their own. What’s the word for that? Oh, yeah: self-reliance.
Is it too late for a Self-Reliance Awareness Day? No, there’s no ribbons. Make your own damn ribbon. If that’s too much to hope for, how about a Multi-Trillion-Dollar Debt Awareness Day? The ribbon starts out black but turns deeper and deeper red. How about a We’ve Spent All the Money Including the Money for an Awareness-Raising Ribbon Day? An Impending Societal Collapse Awareness Day?
Yes, yes. I’m aware the cost of diapers adds up over a month, and you can’t use your food stamps to pay for them. Tough. This country’s broke. As I said last week, it has to pay back $15 trillion just to get back to having nothing at all. And that’s more money than anyone ever has had to pay back. Were you aware of that? Distressingly large numbers of Americans still pining for ever more swaddling in the government cradle seem entirely unaware.
Congresswoman DeLauro is thinking too small: Maybe we could all be issued with free diapers. As a casual glance at the headlines suggests, there’s almost nothing you can’t get government to pay for, but that’s no reason not to demand more. At its core, the “Occupy Wall Street” movement (in the political rather than the diaper-filling sense) is a plea for ever more extended adolescence funded at public expense. Don’t knock it. Dozing around listening to drum circles all day is more dangerous than it looks. Last week, several dozen members of “Occupy Las Vegas” occupying land located under the final approach to Runway 19 at McCarran International Airport narrowly missed being hit by a 50-pound slab of what’s euphemistically known as “blue ice” that fell from the bathroom of the president’s plane. Perhaps, as a symbol of the new post-self-reliant America of adult babies, Air Force One should be fitted with a giant diaper.

Empowering the Disabled

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Until now, policy ideas designed to help Americans with disabilities have been viewed as the exclusive province of liberals. Despite the fact that important measures such as the Americans with Disabilities Act passed only with crucial Republican support, the public — and the community of disability advocates — normally identifies this issue with the Democratic party. It is even the case that many Republicans think of disability policy as being the province of liberals, because they identify the issue with bureaucratic regulation and government handouts.
At the same time, it is becoming increasingly apparent that — although we’ve come a long way — our existing policies are antiquated, costly to society, and inadequate to meet the changing needs of Americans with disabilities and their families. Big expensive government is not the answer for people without disabilities, nor is it for those with. Reducing the entanglement of Big Government in order to benefit people with disabilities should be a top priority for the Republican party.
Today, nearly one in five Americans — 19 percent — has some sort of disability, either physical or intellectual, according to the most recent Census statistics. This works out to over 54 million of our fellow citizens, roughly equal to the populations of California and Florida combined. It is also the only class that any American can join at any time in his or her lifetime.
The heated battles over the soaring national debt and federal spending give Republicans an historic opportunity to create a paradigm shift in policy that will empower the disabled population in a way that is consistent with our determination to reduce the size and scope of government and promote long-term fiscal solvency. This, in turn, has the potential to attract to the Republican party millions of voters who have been viewed as naturally belonging to the party of the failed Great Society programs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 21.6 percent of the disabled population was included in the workforce at the end of 2009. This is compared to 70 percent for persons with no disability. For those with intellectual disabilities, the workforce-participation rate is much lower. The significant disparity in work opportunities for people with disabilities is the direct result of government programs and policies that propagate dependency.
For example, the parents of a child with a disability face a stark and inequitable dilemma when it comes to saving and building assets. They must either set aside the total amount of resources necessary to provide care and support for their child throughout his or her entire lifetime, or else rely exclusively on public benefits. Legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate that would allow individuals with disabilities to take the money they earn working and receive from family members and set it aside in savings accounts that offer the same flexibility and portability that are available to all other Americans. Bipartisan legislation introduced in both the House and the Senate, known as the “Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act,” provides a vehicle for individuals and their families to save and build assets without jeopardizing their access to the critical support programs provided by the federal, state, and local governments. And by reducing taxpayer support, this legislation will also reduce the long-term federal budget deficit.
In addition, Medicaid should focus its resources so as to provide individuals with choice. That program is the most significant obstacle to economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. Today, 8.5 million people with disabilities under the age of 65 rely on Medicaid. While the majority of them are in home or community-based environments, many remain in institutionalized settings. There are thousands of individuals who don’t need to live in an institution, and yet continue to do so in order to receive essential medical care. This results in further segregation and creates additional barriers to their successful participation in society.
Unfortunately, President Obama’s health-care reform law will make matters worse by mandating a major expansion of the Medicaid rolls that no state can afford, thus causing the elderly, disabled, and truly poor to compete with the less vulnerable, and entangling more disabled Americans in a system that breeds frustration and false hope.
States need the flexibility to adjust the eligibility requirements for Medicaid so that the program continues to serve the neediest among us and does not become the default medical-insurance program for a wide variety of groups, as the health-care reform law mandates after 2014. The one population that should absolutely be in Medicaid is the disabled. And yet they are the most vulnerable to being lost in the shuffle if Medicaid is allowed to become an alternative primary-insurance program for those who don’t need it.
To deal with this coming crisis in Medicaid, Republicans in the House and Senate have introduced the State Flexibility Act. The legislation would fundamentally change Medicaid from a federally directed, one-size-fits-all program into a true partnership between the states and the federal government, allowing states to adjust eligibility rolls to meet the needs of their citizens. By empowering the states to become “laboratories of democracy,” we can create a climate for innovation and cost savings, while ensuring that Medicaid continues to meet the needs of our most truly vulnerable.
Our education system also creates impediments to independence and self-sufficiency for children with disabilities. In the 35 years since the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, many states have yet to come close to fulfilling their legal mandate to provide a free and appropriate public education to students with special needs. While states often point to the lack of full federal funding as the culprit, it is apparent that education bureaucracies resent what they see as the drain on limited resources that providing for students with special education needs entails. As a result, special education programs are often first on the chopping block in times of budget cuts, and the interests of this especially vulnerable population of students are the first to be sacrificed.
Regardless of the cause, few would deny the fact that many parents of children with special needs do not currently have adequate options for the education of their children. For example, many special-needs students would benefit from a high-school curriculum that emphasized vocational training, and yet few high schools these days offer it. That is why parents should have the right to choose the best education program — and even the best school — for their children with special needs.
Like all Americans, people with disabilities want to maximize the opportunities they have been given in order to contribute to a truly great society. And while our country has come a long way in creating opportunities for them to live more fulfilling lives, more can and must be done to address the antiquated disability policies that encourage dependency, the growth of government, and institutionalization. Taking the principles of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act and applying them to the 19 percent of Americans who have been left behind represents an enormous opportunity to unleash the potential of millions of people with disabilities.
What the community of Americans with disabilities and their families want today is programs and policies designed to empower those with disabilities to succeed on their own and live independently to the extent possible. Republicans should seize the opportunity presented by the current debate over federal spending to undertake a wholesale reform of our nation’s disability policies and to do so in a fiscally responsible way.