I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Headlong toward doom!

I've been doing a lot more posts about writing than about politics lately, which is natural since I'm deep inside the process of writing The Dragon Apocalypse series. When I'm writing, the rest of the world turns into murmuring shadows at the periphery of my awareness. I'm only dimly aware of friends and family. Hell, I'm only dimly aware of myself.

So, while I've been following politics just enough to still understand the jokes each week on "Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me," I haven't really been tuned in to the political world to the degree I feel I should be. Which is stunning, because I feel like recent months have produced 1. an actual impeachable offense by the President and 2. the most frightening political "debate" I personally can remember.

1. The impeachable offense. So... we're still bombing Libya, right? And, unless I've been totally in a fog, the President hasn't yet asked congress for the authority to do so. How is this in any way constitutional? If unilaterally declaring war against a nation that posed no threat to us whatsoever isn't a high crime under the constitution, just what the hell is? Yet, Dennis Kucinich seems to be the only congressman willing to take a stand on this. The rest of congress seems to be hiding from the issue as much as possible. Drudgereport ran headlines day after day for months over whether Clinton had lied about having sex with an intern. Libya generated headlines for a day or two, then faded from sight.

One giant lesson to be drawn from this is that the "anti-war" left is, in fact, merely "anti-republican." If a republican president were bombing a nation under the exact same circumstances, you'd have crowd's descending on the national mall to declare the president a war criminal and a fascist. But, with Obama giving the commands... nary a peep.

2. The so called "debate." First, the whole threat to shut down the budget over 66 billion or 30 billion or whatever: The deficit is 1.4 trillion. 66 billion is a rounding error, hidden in the numbers you don't bother including when you say "the deficit is 1.4 trillion." If the deficit had been "1.466 trillion" before the budget passed, it became "1.400" trillion afterward. Only, of course, it didn't, since the second the deal was picked apart and all the imaginary numbers were pulled out the total actual savings didn't even hit 1 billion.

But, what does it matter? The big news wasn't this year's budget, which can be blamed on democrats who failed to actually pass a spending bill. No, the big news is that both the republicans and the president have finally put forward serious plans to balance the budget!

Except, of course, they haven't. Both plans were actually roadmaps that lead us headlong toward doom. Paul Ryan's plan "balances" the budget in something like 20 years! It's just built into the plan that we'll continue to run deficits for two more decades. Obama's far more "serious" and "courageous" plan only runs deficits for another 12 years! Let's say that you weigh 400 pounds, and have just had a wake up call because last year you only weighed 360 pounds. You announce to the world that you have agreed to embark on a serious diet plan. This year, you were on track to gain 80 pounds, but you skipped lunch earlier, so now you're on track to only gain 79 pounds. Progress! And, next year, the real cuts kick in, and you'll only gain 60 pounds! And the following year, 54 pounds! And, twelve years from now, you'll be completely stable, and gain no weight whatsoever!

I'm sorry, but, no, 12 years from now, you'll be dead, or in such horrible condition that death would be the merciful alternative.

All the plans to cut the deficit over a long time scale are meaningless. If the deficit is to be cut, it will have to be on a time scale of two years... since that's how long either party can be sure of having control of the house.

And, slowing the rate of growth of the deficit doesn't count as "cutting." The problem is no longer that we are running deficits. The problem that confronts us are the debts that we've already accumulated. This debt sits on the American chest like a succubus, robbing us of energy. If we spend another decade or two piling on debt, then the interest paid on the debt will exceed the taxes we collect. We will be bankrupt.

It's not too late. Getting a balanced budget will require spending cuts, but also increased taxes. To those who protest that any tax increase will just be met with a spending increase, I feel your fears, but, to me, the increased taxes aren't justified by future spending... they are morally mandated by past deficit spending. We built up these debts. Did we never intend to pay them? With what? Happy thoughts? The fact is, every time a democrat or republican has voted for deficit spending in the past, they were casting a vote for higher taxes in the future.

The future has arrived. The car is pointed toward doom. Do we step on the accelerator, or the brakes?


Mr. Cavin said...

I think your second point is just great, and I am going to direct people here to read it every time I feel like I need to rant about this myself. I mean, I was really embarrassed that they were going into actually close down the government because they couldn’t just shut up about their ridiculous self-interested spending. But the next day when I woke up to the big news that they’d saved us all a piddling thirty-eight billion dollars was when the real, actual embarrassment started kicking in. We might as well have published man-on-the-moon sized headlines all across the country: “US CAN’T COUNT.”

Or perhaps maturity. Why is it that the patriotic are completely willing to embrace a national image that castes the US as a playground thug woefully incapable of keeping mature adult promises? We’ve chosen to identify ourselves as the brat. There was a time when people had too much pride to suffer the humiliation of debt.

As for number one up there, I think you are looking at this the wrong way. Congress didn’t initially permit the Vietnam War either, right? I thought it was just this kind of contracted UN mission that the term “police action” was invented to describe. Or perhaps it just means “the French started it.” As for whether the left oughta be screaming for Obama’s job, well, I’m not so sure. Those who are not aren’t necessarily giving him a pass along party lines, either. I’m a geopolitical centrist, and I’d say that all things being ideal, there are worse ways to curry the betterment of the world than suppressing a dictator’s ability to shoot down his own people in the name of despotism. And it’s nice to see us coming to the rescue of Muslims, too. Of course, things are not ideal: I was a “one issue” voter this last time around, and that issue was to curb military spending in the name of an endless war. Thanks to the magic of the democratic republic, my voice was heard--and now we are in three.

James Maxey said...

I'm not a history expert, but I think that the US didn't really get involved militarily in Vietnam until congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. But, since you've actually lived in Vietnam, I'll defer to your expertise.

As for the notion that we are "coming to the rescue of Muslims," yes, but only by killing other Muslims. Presumably we came to the rescue of Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq as well. Look at the mass graves they have built to honor us for our benevolence. Meanwhile Muslims in Syria and Iran trembled at our righteous wrath by our continued refusal to fill their skies with bomb laden predator drones. Take that!

As for the national debt, the stupidest part of the whole thing is just how little courage would be needed to fix things. Tiny cuts get labled draconian; the smallest tax hikes are full speed marches into communism. We are governed by people who have used such hyperbole that genuine discussion of the issues is now impossible. You and I could balance the budget in an afternoon, I'm guessing, by cutting the defense budget, implementing some level of means testing for social security and medicare, selling a few assets (do we really need all of the Hawiian islands?) and ratcheting up taxes by a percent or two or five. Really, any rational person with a calculator can put together a plan that doesn't cost a single millionaire their summer home or require pulling the plug on grandma and melting down her gold fillings.

Of course, the second we presented such a plan to congress, we'd be denounced as baby-killing communist fascists who kick dogs and burn flags and if even one of our ideas gets adopted into law the SKY WILL FALL. Fall, I tell you! For the love of god burn that document and never mention it again!

The only thing worse than having the foxes in charge of the chicken house is to have the whole place run by chickens.