The Weiner Component #140E – Assorted National Problems Not Dealt With by the Republican Congress

The western front of the United States Capitol...

Development, Relief and Education for Alien Mi...

Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is s...

In addition to what we have been dealing with for the last four blogs there are other serious problems that the Republican led Congress, particularly the House of Representatives, have ignored.  The first of these is guns, both pistols and assault weapons.  Another, which can seriously hurt Republicans in the 2016 Presidential Election, deals with immigration policies.  Still another immediate problem, which will be coming up at the latest in early December, is funding the Federal Government for the oncoming fiscal year.  And still another is a Declaration of War against ISIS and possibly a debate about what to do about Syria.  We’ve mentioned their compensation packages and days of work over the year but it might be worthwhile to reconsider these.  Also there is the fact that Congress has passed a law automatically giving themselves raises unless they pass another law stopping that particular raise from happening.

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President Obama and others have stated that gun violence is much worse in the U.S. than in other advanced countries.  Italy comes next with less than 20% of what occurs in the U.S.  Below that comes Canada, then Sweden, then Germany.  By the time we reach Germany the level is well under than 10% of the U.S. level.  The other industrial nations are far below that.

 

The problem with gun violence seems to be that Americans are much more likely to own guns than their peers around the world.  It seems that the more guns there are in the society then also the more homicides that occur in the society.  According to President Obama Americans kill each other with guns at a rate 297 times more than Japan, 49 times more than France, and 33 times more than Israel.

 

Following is a gun violence estimate for 2015 based upon actual shootings and prior years.

Total shootings                              47,071

Deaths                                           11,868

Children to age 11                              632

Teens 12-17 injured and killed       2,354

Mass shootings                                 303

Officer involved shootings              3,923

Home invasions                              2,029

Defensive shootings                       1,088

Accidental shootings                      1,694

The problem is an extensive one that Congress has totally ignored.  If nothing else it should be debated in Congress.  Presently it is largely invisible to the general public because the media tends to ignore the general information.  While the information is available one has to dig to find it out.  What is shocking about this is that these facts seem to make the terrorist threats minor in terms of the pointless loss of life that continually goes on.

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Another major problem that Congress should be dealing with is Immigration.  This is far more complex than just having foreigners illegally living and presumably working in the United States.  On and off Congress has ineptly been dealing with this problem for the last fifteen years.  Currently they are ignoring it and suing the administration for President Barak Obama’s executive order dealing with “dreamers,” children who were brought to the United States by their parent(s) and raised in this country

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The reason this issue is complicated is that we are not just dealing with aliens, foreigners who are illegally is this country, but also with their families, some of whom may be citizens.  Sending their parents or one of the adults back to their country of origin breaks up the family.  Among others, there is one adult Hispanic legislator whose father disappeared when he was a small child and he never saw him again.  There has to be something wrong with this.

 

First there are alien couples whose children were born in the United States and are therefore citizens of the U.S.  Do we ship the parents back to their country of origin but leave the children here?  There are children who were brought to this country and may have none or very little memory of their country of origin.  They have been educated in the U.S. and think of themselves as Americans.  Some have served in the military.  Do we send them to a country of which they have no knowledge?  There are also the Dreamers, (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors,) who were 16 or younger when they were brought into the U.S.  The estimate is that there are about 1.8 million of these, many are college graduates.  There are married couples of which one is a citizen and the other an alien.  Do we separate these couples by sending one of them back to their country or origin?   There should, at least, be a debate about this in both Houses of Congress but the subject has not been brought up..

 

An important point, which the Republican candidates in the 2016 Presidential Election seem to be ignoring is that according to the 2010 Census there were 50.5 million Hispanic or Latinos counted.  That is 16% of the overall population.  They had increased 13% since the 2000 Census.  For the 2016 Election the number will have increased at least another 7%, that’s about another 4 million potential voters.  In 2012 President Obama got the majority of those voters.  What will happen in 2016?

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Starting in the Twentieth Century a quota system was devised that set the quota or number allowed in the U/S. from each country.  Interestingly both my parents came to this country indirectly from the Russian Ukraine in the early 1920s shortly after World War I.  My father and his younger brother crossed Europe and emigrated from England.  My mother signed a one year contract to work as a maid in Canada.  This paid for her passage across the Atlantic Ocean.  At the end of the year she came to the United States as an immigrant from Canada.  There were very high quotas for Northern Europe and Canada.  For Eastern Europe one had to sign up and wait for their turn.  A college friend of mine’s parents came from Greece.  The wait there had been seven years.  Someone had signed up and then when their turn finally came they changed their minds.  A neighbor and his wife took their name and their place.  My friend had been their child.

 

Quotas had never been fair.  They were set based up attitudes or prejudices toward the countries involved.  Low, in so called undesirable countries and high in desirable ones.  These same principles have essentially carried over to today.  Mexico, Central and South America have low quotas.  Asian countries would also have fairly low quotas.  Northern European quotas are never reached.

 

And then there is the concept of refugees, people who are fleeing disastrous conditions at their original homes.  In Asia a number of these people became refugees because they sided with the United States, like in Viet Nam after the U.S. left there in 1975.  Others left intolerant or dangerous conditions behind to find safe conditions for themselves and their children.  One of the places to which they fled was the United States.  Were they all upright, honest citizens?  Mostly; but they also included a criminal element.  That’s how, for example, the mafia got a foothold within the U.S.  Does that mean that we stopped letting in people from Sicily and Italy?  No.  Does it mean that we should not allow people from Syria to immigrate to the United States because some terrorists might sneak in that way?  That’s an interesting question.  It should be honestly debated in Congress and not just have Congress pass a bill practically excluding all Syrians.  After all, these people are the victims of civil war and terror.

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An immediate problem that Congress has to immediately resolve prior to December 11th is funding the Federal Government for at least the oncoming year.  If a bill is not passed prior to that day the Treasury will run out of money with which to pay the government’s bills and interest rates will go berserk and the Federal Government will again shut down.

 

The issue prior to the former Speaker, John Boehner’s retirement, was the House of Representatives refusing to pass a funding bill unless funding for Planned Parenthood was removed from the bill.  If this were done the President said he would veto the bill.  While the Republicans currently have a majority in both Houses of Congress they do not have enough of a majority in either House to override a veto.  By resigning Boehner got the bill kicked up from the end of October to December 11th.  President Obama stated that he wanted a clean bill that would fund the government for the next two years or he would veto any future bill.  This time the Republicans in the House want to keep Syrian refugees from entering the United States because a few terrorists might also sneak in and they still want to defund Planned Parenthood.  The reality of keeping out Syrians is questionable because it currently takes Syrians from 18 months to two years of screening before they are legally admitted into the country.  The House would add a further step and have each Syrian also individually approved by the head of the FBI.

 

What will happen is any bodies guess.  Will the Federal Government be functioning after December 11th?  A government shutdown would probably hurt Republicans in the 2016 Election and cost the government additional millions if not billions of dollars.  Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives seems poised for a dramatic showdown on December 12.

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There is still the question of a new war powers authorization which President Obama has requested for the fight against the Islamic State terror organization, ISIS, which was made last February.  Congress has not bothered using its War Powers given to it by the Constitution.  As far as they seem to be concerned his executive actions in immigration for the Dreamers are unconstitutional but his actions in going after ISIS are currently legal.  They, Congress, don’t need to act.  Is this attitude valid or does Congress need to act?

 

We also have the question of Syria.  What should our actions there be?  Congress and the country need a debate to clarify that issue if it can be clarified.  Should we continue with just air force action against ISIS?  Should there be American troops on the ground as some of the Republican candidates have stated?  There are innumerable forces involved in the revolution there.  Are there any group or groups we can support?  Russia is now also involved with support for Syria, supporting President Assad, while supposedly bombing ISIS, but according to the U.S. actually bombing Assad’s enemies.  Is it a war we can win or will we be stuck there for decades if not longer?  Congress is ignoring this problem completely.

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With the upcoming election next year, plus the fact that the Republicans have a Democratic president who they don’t like and with whom they have problems cooperating, both Republican Houses of Congress have given themselves a light schedule for 2016.  In fact the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, has called the President “Untrustworthy.”  After the Thanksgiving Recess the House of Representatives plans on twelve more days of business this year.  In that time they will have to pass a bill funding the government.   Next year looks to be a very light legislating time.  The Senate plans to spend 143 days in session and the House of Representatives is planning only 111 days in Washington, D.C.

 

I would assume that there are numerous other problems that have not been mentioned that Congress will and/or should probably be dealing with.  Fiscal policy laws are still needed both to enhance employment within the country and modernize the infrastructure.  Emergencies may well come up in terms of the security and safety within the United States.  Sequestration, in those many areas that have not so far been removed from the sequester in 2015, will automatically come up in early 2016.  They will present additional hardships as funds in entitlement and other programs diminish.  Will Congress ignore these problems or make adjustments in some of them?

 

The country needs a Criminal Justice Reform Bill to lighten the load on the over-filled prisons in the United States.  Presumably both parties agree on this.  Will any action be taken?  Will there be time to take any action?  A Mental Health Bill is needed to deal with, at least, a part of the current surge in violence in the nation.

 

The Republicans will have to give the impression that they have a positive program if they are to maintain their majority in both houses of Congress.  They also have to support the policies of whoever is their final choice of a Presidential Candidate.  It could take some tricky maneuvering to achieve all this.

 

To also be fair, all the members of the House of Representatives and 1/3d of the Senate will be running for reelection next year.  Presumably they will need more time in order to campaign even though in the prior year the 114th Congress had shortened its term in Washington, D.C.

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In the oncoming election year early national party conventions will mean that the Congressmen will be taking the second half of July off without giving up their traditional August recess.  October through mid-November will be cleared for campaigning for the November 8th general election.  Will they have time to deal with any of these problems?

 

The Congressional behavior also reflects the tensions between President Obama and the GOP Congressional leaders.  There are, of course some necessary bills that will have to be passed like funding the government so it can pay its bills for the oncoming year; but outside of that Congress may plan to do almost nothing, strongly hoping for a continued majority in both Houses of Congress in 2017 plus a Republican president.

 

For close to seven years President Obama has bent backwards trying to get some cooperation from the Republicans in Congress.  In this he has largely failed.  Under Paul Ryan’s inspiration they have attempted to force him to support their agenda by tying bills necessary for the functioning of the nation with causes they wished to become part of the laws.  This has resulted in a government shutdown and a number of bills going to the brink, generally being passed on the last possible day.  This has lowered the credit rating of the United States and cost additional billions of dollars.

 

At this point, with a little over one year left to serve as President, I would imagine Barak Obama has had it.  He will play no more games with Congressional shenanigans.  The government has to be funded for the oncoming year well before December 11, 2015 or the dollar may again be downgraded and interest rates for loans may unnecessarily jump.  This bill was pushed up to December in October and the President said he will veto any more short term passages.  He wants a clean two year bill.  What will happen?

 

The Republicans, who prior to October wanted to defund Planned Parenthood in order to fund the government now have threatened to add a section to the bill requiring that every Middle East refugee be personally approved by a high official in the U.S. government before they can be accepted into the country.  President Obama has stated that the current screening system is adequate for all immigrants from the Middle East.  Currently it takes 18 months to two years for a Syrian to be allowed to settle in the U.S.  While he has not specifically stated it the probability is that he will veto the spending bill if it contains that measure.  And there is also the probability that he will veto this specific bill, which recently was passed by the House of Representatives that requires a guarantee from a high government official for each Syrian emigrating to the U.S., if it is passed by the Senate and comes up before him.  It seems that the President is no longer open to attempted blackmail in order to get necessary legislation passed.  The person who came up with this tactic is now Speaker of the House of Representatives.   It should be an interesting 13 months!

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As a footnote: In just about every occupation the employee is continually evaluated as to how well he or she performs on their job.  If they are continually below a certain level then they are terminated.  This seems to be true for all occupations except for those Republicans elected to Congress, particularly for those elected to the House of Representatives which has been essentially nonfunctional since 2011 when they achieved a majority in the House of Representatives.  This is the period during which we’ve had gridlock in Washington, D.C.  Here inefficiency or inability to function seems to be the quality needed to function and keep your job.

The Weiner Component #115 – The Keystone XL Pipeline

 

Now that Congress has a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress they are sure to push through a Keystone XL Pipeline bill. In fact, the new 114th House of Representatives on its first day of meeting, without any committee meetings or anything else, passed such a bill 266 to 153 with 28 Democrats also voting for the bill. That is still not a 2/3ds super majority

Mitch McConnell, the new leader in the Senate, has stated that he will push the bill through that House as soon as he can. He also does not have a 2/3d majority and the Democrats can filibuster the bill.

If perchance the bill were to pass in both Houses the President has stated that he would veto the bill.   Happenings should be interesting.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is to go from south central Canada south 3,000 miles through the heartland of the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline would carry oil tar, a highly toxic plastic-like substance from which leakage could poison the water table of the central United States. The pipeline was first proposed six years ago when oil sold for over $100 a barrel.

Much of the pipeline has already been built by enterprising Republican entrepreneurs, who in all probability have made innumerable large contributions to the Republican Party and expect to get a massive return on their investment. It always struck me as odd that political contributions which buy influence in Congress with one or the other political party are never legally considered a bribe, which they are.

A great deal has been written about the Keystone Pipeline over the last six years. But in the last two or three years I’ve read nothing about oil leaks polluting the soil and poisoning the water table. One or more massive leaks of these oil tars, which after all is a plastic-like guck, could destroy large areas of farmland and poison the underground water table permanently. Somehow this consideration has disappeared.

The Koch Brothers of Kansas, among numerous other things, operate about 4,000 miles of pipeline throughout Kansas, the United States and Canada which transports oil, natural gas, and chemicals. They have and are paying hundreds of millions of dollars in fines at many different times for damages done through leaks in their pipelines. There are currently about four or five leaking oil lines going under and polluting the Yellowstone River.

The earth is not a solid core. It consists of plates of rock and soil over hot volcanic substances. These plates move at times almost imperceptibly and cause earthquakes. The areas where two or more plates meet are called faults and there seems to be quite a bit of movement at many faults. The movement generally is not extreme but it exists.

For example there was a tile counter spread out the full length of the kitchen in my California house. About 2/3ds of the way from the outside wall toward the interior of the room a hairline crack occurred in the counter. The pressure of the movement of the earth had caused this hairline crack, probably it was hundreds or more pounds of pressure pushing in two directions. Lately I also noticed that there is a minor crack in a few sections of the ceiling, particularly on the stairwell going up to the second story.

In laying the XL pipeline, I believe, there is a choice of either plastic or ceramic pipe. The plastic will probably dissolve in certain chemicals so the probability is that they will use ceramic pipe. To also install sensing equipment and automatic shutoff systems would be very expensive. The probability is that the pipeline is and has been installed as cheaply as possible. The earth moves; the pipes do not. Do the assorted owners who expect massive return from the pipeline have the funds available to pay the fines and clean up their messes? I doubt it. Can the messes be properly cleaned? They haven’t been up to now.

If it’s argued by our Republican Congressmen that none of this will happen then consider why don’t they build the pipeline completely in Canada west to the Pacific Ocean. The problem there, from what I understand, is that short areas of pipeline have been built in Canada and there have been some horrendous leaks. The Canadian Government will not allow this to occur in their country but are perfectly alright with building it across the United States.

There is also a major note of irony here. Six years ago, when the project was first envisioned, oil was over $100 dollars a barrel and going up, now it is around $50. Is oil tar worth processing at that price? I believe a barrel is 54 or 55 gallons of oil. How much oil tar would be required to generate a barrel of oil? If it cost around $50 or close to that amount is it worth even bothering with? It is very possible that if the pipeline were to be approved that it would not be used. That would be an interesting note of irony in this longtime struggle.

Consider also that the price of oil is dependent upon its supply and demand. If not enough gasoline is being produced in the world then the price will be bid up. But if too much is being produced, there is more than is wanted available. The various nations producing oil like Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico to name some of the major ones have planned their yearly budget on receiving over $100 a barrel. Oil is now under or about $50 a barrel and could still drop in price. Mostly these nations are increasing their production in order to try to make up the difference. In doing this they are further adding to the surplus amount of oil available and bringing additional pressure for the price to drop further.

Of course the people who have already put in sections of the pipeline, if they don’t make any profit, might try to sue the Federal Government for not allowing them to make their profit from their endeavors. Or they might try to get the Republicans in Congress to pass a law reimbursing them their losses. After all they did contribute large amounts of money to the Republican Party.

Irony is a wonderful entity. The probability is that the use of the Keystone XL pipeline if it is completed and used will further depress the international price of oil. How far can it drop? That is another interesting question. I can remember buying gasoline over a decade ago at slightly under one dollar a gallon.

Another interesting effect of the oil price drop is that rich oil Sunni Muslim nations like Iran that have had their national income drop by half or more are now extremely limited in their contributions to such terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. One of the effects of these low oil prices may be to limit terrorist activities in the Middle East and in other parts of the world.

The irony is fascinating. On the one hand lower oil prices effect the stock market in a negative fashion and on the other hand, at the same time, they indirectly lessen terrorist activity by supplying less money to radical causes. And, of course, in the middle of this is the Keystone XL pipeline which may be eventually carried out six years too late and prove worthless.

It should be noted that the price of gasoline in February of 2015 has started going up again. This has been caused not by a shortage of oil but instead by a strike at several oil processing plants. A labor dispute in the United States is causing this price rise. At some point the strike will end and the price of gasoline will drop again. It’s a further note of irony.

During the second week of February, 2015 both Houses of Congress have passed a similar bill to authorize the building of the Keystone XL pipeline (which incidentally is already mostly built). There are still some disputes about putting it through certain areas of privately owned land which are currently being dealt with in the courts. There is the question of public domain. Private land, whose owners don’t want the pipeline, have to have sections of their land condemned by the particular state, in order for the pipe companies to be able to use it. These cases are now in state courts.

President Obama has earlier stated that he will veto the bill. It does not have a 2/3 majority in either house. The veto will stop it from being enacted. Some Republican legislators in both Houses of Congress have stated that they will pass the bill again and again after each veto. Others said that they want to attach the bill to every other bill they pass until the President signs it. Still others only want to attach it to important bills that the President has to sign. It’s an interesting or strange situation that can lead to total gridlock and stop all or much of the legislation being passed.

What makes it doubly interesting is the fact that a similar situation is going on with the Homeland Security Bill. The House Republicans have attached a section to this bill that would defund all monies that need to be used to carry out President Obama’s executive order to legally keep illegal immigrants in the country who were brought to the United States as babies or young children and give them a road to citizenship.

The House of Representatives passed this bill and have refused to take any further action on it. The Senate, it seems, would like some sort of compromise so that the Home Security Bill can pass. Funding for this current law ends at the end of February. It should be interesting to see what happens. This is particularly true if Homeland Security ends on February 28 and there is some terrorist activity within the United States afterwards. Who will be responsible? The Congress with its attempt to blackmail the Administration or the President for not buckling under the will of the Republicans or the President for giving in to the Republican demands?

In any event will the Keystone XL pipeline be another situation waiting to see who will blink first? It will be interesting to see if many of the Republicans in their rage act like tantruming five year olds or if they can deal with the problem like adults.

 

English: A map showing aquifer thickness of th...

The Weiner Component #42- The NRA

NRA Headquarters, Fairfax Virginia USA

It seems to me that the National Rifle Association is the weapon and munitions manufacturer’s major lobby in the United States.  Many of their chief executives are on the NRA’s Board of Trustees and these corporations are the major contributors to the NRA.

The association, founded in 1871, claims to be an American nonprofit organization that promotes firearm ownership and safety.  Its yearly budget is 231 million dollars.  The NRA’s political activity is based on the premise that firearm ownership is a natural right as well as a civil right protected by the Second Amendment of the Constitution.  They have nearly a century long record of influencing or lobbying for or against proposed firearm legislation on behalf of its members.  The NRA is seen as one of the top three most influential lobbying groups in Washington. 

The Association claims to speak for its more than five million members but, in fact, its actions are really called by a small group of seventy-six members of its Board of Directors.  The majority of the Board are nominated by a top down process and elected by a small fraction of the NRA members.  Eighty-seven percent of the organization’s membership is men.  Ninety-three percent of them are white.

Among the Board members most, if not all, the major weapon and munitions producers are represented.  There is the woman who helped craft and implement Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which served as a model for similar legislation in other states.  We find the founder and publisher of the “Soldier of Fortune” magazine, who, interestingly, was sued in the late “80s for running want ads for mercenaries and guns for hire.  There is the former Idaho senator who sponsored a bill protecting gun manufacturers from liability in connection with their products being used by criminals, which is similar to poison gas manufacturers not being responsible for the use of their products.  These ate only a few of the seventy-six Board members.

As a sort of footnote: when James Madison wrote what is now the Second Amendment to the Constitution in the early days of our nation, weapons were muskets and single shot smooth-bore pistols.  The rifle was just coming into existence.  Madison had a problem.  There was no organized military at the time but all adult males belonged to the National Guard and could be called upon to serve in any emergency.  The state governments did not have armories; each man had his own musket to be used in these situations.  The problem was to provide an armed force in times of crisis.  The right to own weapons had always existed and was understood.  Madison wrote the Amendment as a run-on sentence with two objects: one was the need for a national guard in times of emergency and the other was the right to own weapons.  Which of these was his primary object?  It can be argued either way.

Remember also that weapons were a lot simpler then.  There were no automatic rifles that could shoot well over 100 rounds a minute or magazines that could hold 15. 30. to 100 rounds for pistols or semi automatic rifles.  There were no lasers that could increase accuracy.  A man then, if he went berserk, could do damage; but a man now, if he goes berserk, can create mass mayhem, such as in Newtown, Connecticut or in the Washington, D.C. naval yard.  

There are positive things that the NRA does such as firearm safety, marksmanship training, and hunting and self-defense training; but why have they become paranoid on the subject of gun ownership?  Why do they see every move or non-move by the Federal Government as an attempt to take weapons away from U. S. citizens?

In 2008, shortly after Barak Obama was elected President the NRA announced that he planned to take people’s guns away from them; in 2012, after President Obama’s reelection they announced that the fact he did not attempt to take guns away from people during his first term was proof that he would do this during his second term.  The logic of this thinking escapes me! 

After the Newtown Tragedy there was a movement to require that all weapons purchased be registered.  In over the counter sales of firearms the weapons are registered to their prospective owners after a five to ten minute government check on the purchaser.  This is not done in gun shows where anyone can buy a gun and walk away without any check of any sort.  Convicted felons and unstable individuals can easily acquire all sorts of firearms at these shows.  Is the NRA now representing convicted felons and other similar undesirables?  Or are they just afraid of any legal measure that has to do with firearms?

We now come to an interesting question:  Is the goal of the NRA so focused on selling more weapons and munitions that it doesn’t care who buys and uses them?  If this is so then the NRA has become an organization that supports criminals and societal misfits.  The have become a group that sponsors, under the guise of selling more weapons and munitions, mayhem and death, placing profit, the dollar, above human lives.

In many states, where the Republicans have control of the government, Stand Your Ground laws, based upon the Florida model, have been passed and also legislation allowing more and more people to carry concealed weapons.  There have been innumerable Stand Your Ground shootings.  The George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin case being only one of them.  The sales of firearms and ammunition have increased expedientially.  The profits for the manufacturers have also increased phenomenally.

Interestingly the State of Iowa recently passed a law that allows virtually anyone to apply for a permit to carry a concealed weapon.  This includes people who are legally blind.  They cannot get a driver’s license but at least three of them have gotten gun permits and now carry weapons.

If one looks up the sale of guns and munitions on the Internet that person finds all sorts of information.

Used weapons, both pistols and automatic and semi automatic go for about $400 to $1,000

New automatic and semi automatic rifles cost from $1,500 to $2,000

AK-47 assault rifles are from $200 to $800

Pistols range from $250 to $969

Ammunition

          Remington box of shells  $28.26 to $64.64

          50 rounds for a pistol is in the area of $19

          20 rounds .32 s&w long  $19.75 box

          20 & 50 round boxes  $23, $24

Bulk Rifle Ammunition

          500 to 3,000 rounds  $40 to $510

Ammo Magazines

          100 round drum  $266

          30 round clip (pistol) $26

          15 round clip (glock) $36, $40

If we consider the cost of ammunition and target practice, particularly with an automatic weapon, then the amount could easily reach hundreds if not a thousand dollars a session.  The profit in ammunition would be greater than the cost of the weapons.

What is the primary purpose of the NRA?  Originally it had been to serve its members.  Now it seems to be one of the leading spokesmen for the weapon industry, using its tax free contributions for its lobbying efforts, both on the Federal and state levels.

Not too many years ago the NRA supported background checks for anyone buying a firearm.  Now it sees background checks or any other gun safety measure that would protect the public as the first step in a move to take guns away from everyone.  Its position seems to be that the government is the enemy and that its mission is to protect gun owners from the Federal Government.  This is the road to madness and chaos!

Somehow the NRA has to be brought back to the point where it positively serves its members and the general public and not the weapons industry.  Returning or giving organizations power to its members by direct election can do this.

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The Weiner Component #34 – The Function of Government: Adding money to the Economy

English: Detail from Government. Mural by Elih...

English: Detail from Government. Mural by Elihu Vedder. Lobby to Main Reading Room, Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. Main figure is seated atop a pedestal saying “GOVERNMENT” and holding a tablet saying “A GOVERNMENT / OF THE PEOPLE / BY THE PEOPLE / FOR THE PEOPLE”. Artist’s signature is “ELIHU VEDDER / ROMA–1896”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the functions of government, according to the Preamble to the Constitution is to “provide for the common welfare” of all the people.  In addition to other means of doing this the Federal Government is supposed to supply enough currency to meet the needs of the population, always keeping the amount below an inflationary spiral. 

 In times of recession when there is not enough money in the National Cash Flow the government has and should utilize its two major means of adding currency to the flow.  These are Monetary Policy and Fiscal Policy.  The Federal Reserve controls Monetary Policy.  Through it, by various means, money can be added or subtracted from the economy depending upon the immediate needs of the country.  Congress and the President control Fiscal Policy.  They can also add or limit the money supply by various legislative means.

 Government spending also includes other factors than the health of the economy such as the cost of government, as well as expensive items like wars and natural disasters or rebuilding the infrastructure of the nation.  They can terminate recessions or periods of inflation by passing legislation, at these times spending money to reinvigorate the economy.

 Currently the country is presumably facing two major problems: massive debt and massive unemployment.  Whether the massive debt is real or not is an academic question.  If unemployment is significantly lowered through government spending then we increase the National Debt and if the National Debt is lowered then we further increase unemployment.  Which way makes the most sense?

 The Federal Reserve is adding forty-five billion dollars a month in currency to the National Cash Flow.  That is 540 billion dollars a year by buying up, on the secondary market, U.S. debt.  It is also purchasing forty billion dollars worth of real estate paper (mortgages) per month.  That is 480 billion dollars a year buying bundled real estate.  These moves are adding money to the economy, unraveling the housing bundling fiasco, creating a shortage of housing in the United States, bringing about economic growth by causing new construction throughout the country, and adding a substantial amount to income taxes in monies that are no longer being deducted for interest from housing loans.  This process has gone on for well over a year causing gradual and continual growth in the economy.

 New Money added to the economy has a multiplier effect; that is, the money is spent a number of times before it becomes part of the naturally enriched cash flow.  The amount of new productivity is three to six times the amount spent.  This spending, in addition to the advantages we’ve seen above, is adding no less than one trillion dollars a year to the GDP and probably the amount is well over two trillion dollars annually.

 All of this is Monetary Policy, which is generated by the Federal Reserve.  Dr. Ben Bernacke, an economist, who was appointed by a Republican president, heads the FED.

 Monetary Policy has improved conditions within the economy.  The GDP is very gradually improving but it is not doing so fast enough.  In order for complete recovery to occur Fiscal Policy is needed.  At present the goal of the Republicans is to reduce the deficit.  They have been successful in turning the problem from a need for more employment to reducing the debt, which has not occurred.  This has been done by forcing the president to cut programs in order for them to raise the debt limit and have the government pay its bills.  In essence their policy has been to economize and limit economic growth, the opposite of fiscal policy.  This is a program working against economic recovery, in that, among other things, it has reduced government employment.

 Because they could not reduce the cost of the social programs the Republicans came up with the sequester around eleven months ago which gradually will cut, across the board, all government programs; that is, the different programs that both the Republicans and the Democrats favor, being both social and military, reducing virtually everything upon which the government spends money.  The result will be to gradually and continually reduce employment, both militarily and among civilians who are dependent upon military contracts.  Some of this job loss will probably be picked up by private economic growth but there will still be an increase in unemployment.

 What is needed is an acceptance of unemployment as the major problem the nation is currently facing and the application of fiscal policy to solve it.  Economizing may be worthwhile but not at the cost of hurting a goodly percentage of the population. 

 A number of people in Washington are applying Microeconomics, their own household budgets, as the means of operating this country.  They need to understand that the United States Government operates through Macroeconomics.  It can issue currency as needed to increase employment and grow the economy.  A larger economy with the bulk of the population employed will be paying much more in taxes and could conceivably reduce the National Debt.  This would also be a successful means of economizing.  It would successfully rebuild the infrastructure and phenomenally increase productivity.

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