America's Perfect Storm: The
nation's challenges and former
presidents' insights - William Koenig
This commentary was published in the August 1, 2008, "Koenig's Eye View from the
The following identify the problems our country is facing followed by profound wisdom from former presidents of the United States.
Wall Street and big business vs. Congress
Complicated problems can have simple solutions; yet it is Wall Street interests, major companies, special interests, and the opposing and/or complying federal government forces that have greatly complicated matters and created enormous financial burdens for most Americans.
America's personal and financial bondage has five main causes: the rejection of God, the bloated federal government's overreach in all areas of our life, Wall Street's financial innovations, big business greed and the global warming agenda.
Greedy and shrewd people like complexity whether it is in tax laws or financial vehicles because they can manipulate them to their own financial advantages and gain while many others pay the cost. Wall Street is the best example of this practice.
Wall Street financial innovations are so complex that only a few understand them, and they are the ones who profit while a majority of Americans pay the price.
"A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad." — Teddy Roosevelt
The Federal Reserve, banks and Wall Street firms
The beginning of the subprime mortgage disaster was the Federal Reserve's aggressive printing of money to stimulate an economy reeling from the 9-11 terror events, followed by Wall Street's insatiable appetite for home mortgages that they packaged and sold — complemented by the greed of many mortgage bankers and banks.
The printing and lending of vast sums of money led to Americans paying more for their homes and thus higher mortgage payments. Americans' mortgages increased from $6.8 trillion in 2001 to $11 trillion in 2007.
Investor hunger encouraged lenders to issue $2.4 trillion of subprime mortgages from 2001 to 2006. The increased credit allowed more Americans to buy houses and helped push up home prices 59 percent from 2000 to 2005, according to the National Association of Realtors.
At this point, Americans have lost $4 trillion in home equity, which some expect could reach has high as $6 trillion, while the public is still stuck with payments on the mortgages. It is estimated that 13 million homes in the United States are worth less than the mortgages placed on them.
The Federal Reserve and Wall Street-led subprime fiasco is expected to cost the American taxpayers $1 trillion to bailout banks, mortgage companies and Wall Street firms.
"Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce." — James Garfield
"He who controls the money supply of a nation controls the nation." — James Garfield
Federal government size
According to the Cato Institute, 80 percent of the federal government's activities should be at the state level.
"Because power corrupts, society's demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases." — John Adams
Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. - John Adams
"That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves." — Thomas Jefferson
"Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it." — Abraham Lincoln
"There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power." — William Harrison
"A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have." — Gerald Ford
"Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets." — Ronald Reagan
"Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them." — Ronald Reagan
Federal government deficit
President Bush's 2009 federal fiscal budget is $3.1 trillion — 50 percent higher than when he took office in 2001.
On Monday, July 28, the White House reported a projection for a $482 billion deficit for the budget year ending in September 2009, which would be the highest, recorded. The Bush Administration defends that by saying the federal deficit is only 3.5 percent of the $14 trillion U.S. economy.
The federal debt has moved from $5.7 trillion in 2001 to $9.539 trillion on July 30, 2008.
"There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no independence quite so important, as living within your means." — Calvin Coolidge
"Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt." — Herbert Hoover
Nine-million-word U.S. Tax Code
Accountants and attorneys wrote the excessive 9-million-word tax code for their advantage, not that of the American public. It takes Americans an average of 28 hours per household and over $250 billion to file their tax returns.
Moreover, Congress frequently creates tax benefits that help certain industries but it always end up coming out of the American people's pockets in higher costs of goods, more regulations, higher deficits and taxes creating bigger problems than benefits for the country.
"Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery." — Calvin Coolidge
Americans are frustrated because they can't penetrate the two-party grips on the political power that is costing them financially, complicating their lives, and causing despair.
Congress has a long history of passing bad legislation then trying to correct it with additional legislation, and most times making the situation even worse.
"There is more selfishness and less principle among members of Congress than I had any conception of, before I became President of the U.S." — James Polk
"We live in a stage of politics, where legislators seem to regard the passage of laws as much more important than the results of their enforcement." — William Taft
"Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost." — John Quincy Adams
Nation is on the wrong track
Only 17 percent of Americans believe the country is on the right track.
According to the June 9-12 Gallup Poll, 30 percent of Americans approve of the job George W. Bush is doing as president. That figure is two percentage points better than his personal low rating of 28 percent, which he has received four times in the past two months.
The all-time low approval rating for any president in Gallup annals is 22 percent for Harry Truman in 1952.
Congress' 19 percent approval rating is one point better than last month's 18 percent, which matched the August 2007 and March 1992 readings as the worst Gallup has measured since it began tracking Congressional job approval in 1974.
"Any man worth his salt will stick up for what he believes right, but it takes a slightly better man to acknowledge instantly and without reservation that he is in error." — Andrew Jackson
Costly realities: the American people pick up the tab
Wall Street vs. Congress, and the American people pick up the tab.
Some 17,000 lobbyists influence Congress to pass certain legislation, and the American people pick up the tab.
A $3.1 trillion-a-year federal government, and the American people pick up the tab.
A 9-million-word U.S. tax code, and the American people pick up the tab.
Global warming and the environmental agenda have left the country extremely vulnerable to foreign sources of oil, helped facilitate the largest transfer of wealth from one region (the US) to another (the Middle East) in the history of the world, stopped refinery construction and onshore and offshore drilling, led to higher foods costs, and costly regulation and compliance … and the American people pick up the tab.
U.S. nation-building continues in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the American people pick up the tab.
Secular humanism vs. the Bible
Secular humanism's hold on the U.S. media, many U.S. college and university professors, the ACLU, liberals and many Democrats has come at an enormous cost to America.
The homosexual agenda is moving into the public schools, public corporations through the payment of same-sex benefits, and homosexual activists have plans for the U.S. military and hate-crime legislation.
With the help of the U.S. media, they have moved the debate away from morality to civil rights. There are not enough votes in Congress to approve a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman. Two states — California and Massachusetts — perform same-sex marriages.
"Hold fast to the Bible. To the influence of this Book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future." — Ulysses S. Grant
"A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education." — Teddy Roosevelt
We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen." — Calvin Coolidge
"An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows." — Dwight Eisenhower
"Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged." — Ronald Reagan
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