When Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced last Tuesday the imposition of new price controls on a long list of consumer items, he expressed optimism that they would help curb inflation. This is a law to protect the people from capitalism. We have a tough battle ahead [because] inflation is one of the biggest problems we have. I’m at the front of this operation, and we’re going to occupy factories and companies. We’re going to nationalize what needs to be nationalized. The bourgeoisie hoard milk, sugar and cooking oil and then [they] blame me. But it’s their fault, the hoarders. The citizens were smarter than Chavez. Having lived under a regime enforcing price controls on cooking oil and sugar with its natural and predictable resulting shortages, they looked at the list of household items about to be “fixed” and went shopping before the items disappeared. Evangelina Guerra, standing in line to get into the Dulcinea market in Caracas, said, “This is more regulation on top of regulation, and what we have is sky-high inflation and a lack of products.” In fact, cars were parked two rows deep and even onto the sidewalk in front of the store. Shelves normally full of toothpaste, soap, and toilet paper were being cleaned out faster than stockers could replenish them.
The American national debt hangs over the nation’s head like the sword of Damocles, ready to drop and severely damage the American economy. The present debt has now reached the astronomical sum of $15 trillion, and continues to grow. The federal budget submitted to Congress by President Obama on February 14, 2011 was $3.729 trillion. But revenues come to only $2.627 trillion, meaning that there would be a deficit of $1.101 trillion. In other words, the federal government would have to borrow over a trillion dollars just to meet its present expenditures. Each year since 1969, Congress has spent more money than it takes in, and each year the Treasury Department has had to borrow money to meet Congress’ appropriations, which always increase. Indeed, the Treasury Department has the third largest expenditure in the federal budget. Only Defense and the income redistribution programs of the Departments of Health and Human Services, HUD, and Agriculture (food stamps) are higher.
Last Sunday morning dawned bright and early for me in New Hampshire and — Wait a minute! What am I saying? Don't all mornings 'dawn” early? And isn't every dawn comparatively “bright,” considering what has gone before? Do you remember the theme of the Reagan reelection campaign? It was “Morning in America.” It followed four years of Carter's crises. Compared to the solemn Carter, Reagan was southern California sunshine. It took us years and decades to realize that we can't afford all that sunny optimism. Yes, during the Reagan years the rate of growth in federal spending did slow down. But spending did continue to climb compared to previous years — and the deficits exploded.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops spent nearly $30 million lobbying in Washington through 2008-09, according to a new report from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. That may not be good news for conservative-minded Catholics, however, given a significant fact about the USCCB. Except on matters of sex and abortion, the USCCB generally hews to the liberal line on public policy matters. Numerous commentators point to the bishops' pastoral letter and other teachings on the economy, and their support for universal healthcare, for instance, as proof the USCCB is virtually the religious arm of the radical left of the Democratic Party. That is true particularly on immigration. But other prominent evangelical organizations, generally regarded as more conservative than the bishops, are among the top nine names in Pew's list.
Despite billions in taxpayer subsidies pumped into the so-called “green-energy” industry, almost 15,000 windmills — maybe more — have been left to rot across America. And while the turbines have been abandoned over a period of decades, the growing amount of “green junk” littering the American landscape is back in the headlines again this week. Across the country, subsidized wind farms are meeting increasing resistance — and not just from taxpayers and electricity consumers forced to foot the bill. "If wind power made sense, why would it need a government subsidy in the first place?” wondered Heritage Foundation policy analyst Ben Lieberman, who deals with energy and environmental issues. “It's a bubble which bursts as soon as the government subsidies end." It turns out that wind power is expensive and inefficient even in the best wind-farm locations in the world. And regular power plants always need to be on standby in case there is no wind, not enough wind, or even too much of it — a fairly regular occurrence. That is why, when the tax subsidies run out, the towering metallic structures are often simply abandoned. In their wake: a scarred landscape and dead wildlife — the very same ills offered as justifications by administration officials for preventing oil exploration.
United Nations “experts” released a preliminary report during the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) climate-change summit in Durban, South Africa, claiming the Earth was still heating up and rapid government action would be needed to stave off global warming. But in the wake of the growing “Climategate 2.0” scandal, analysts said the newest wave of UN scare mongering appeared increasingly desperate and ridiculous. Earlier this month the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was ridiculed for alarmist warnings of more extreme weather in the coming decades. However, the statements were far more cautious than usual in tentatively linking the predictions to human emissions. On the sidelines of the UN climate conference in Durban, the World Meteorological Organization’s released another report warning of disaster. It alleged that 2011 was on track to be the 10th warmest year since humans began monitoring the Earth’s temperature. "The science is solid and proves unequivocally that the world is warming," claimed UN WMO deputy boss R.D.J. Lengoasa at the COP17, adding that he thought humanity was a significant contributor. "Climate change is real, and we are already observing its manifestations in weather and climate patterns around the world."
Even as atheists in the Army are lobbying for chaplains for unbelievers, pagans and Wiccans at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, have a place to cast their spells. And their new open-air “Stonehenge-like” ring of stones was provided at a cost of nearly $80,000 to the American taxpayers. There was a time when exorbitant military expenditures were symbolized by the $640 toilet seat. But the Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle certainly surpasses such examples on account of its absurdity. While the Air Force is attempting to justify the creation of a hilltop worship sight for pagan recruits on the basis of religious pluralism, in fact, the pagans who are supposed to be served by the availability of such a "circle" are almost nonexistent — at least at this point. As Jenny Deam wrote in a Los Angeles Times article (“Air Force Academy adapts to pagans, druids, witches, and Wiccan”), even the academy admits pagans make up what must be the smallest religious minority at their institution: Their ranks are slim. According to the academy's enrollment records, only three of 4,300 cadets identified themselves as pagans, followers of an ancient religion that generally does not worship a single god and considers all things in nature interconnected.
As the finance ministers from each of the 17 members of the eurozone meet in Brussels today, the main topic is “integration.” It’s a race against the clock. One of the first items being discussed is putting in place the leveraging of the stability fund — otherwise known as the EFSF, or European Financial Stability Fund. At present, this fund holds some $600 billion in assets, much of which has already been invested in government bonds issued by the eurozone's weak sisters: Ireland, Greece, and Spain. The leveraging, through some opaque maneuvering, will then allow the fund to do some serious purchasing of enough of Italy’s debt to solve two problems at the same time. One is to bring down interest rates to some level that Italy may be able, in the short run, to afford to pay. And the other is to give the new Italian technocrat, Mario Monti (who was appointed on November 12 to replace Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after he was forced out), enough time to implement even more severe austerity programs in order to meet eurozone guidelines. That is the next item on the Brussels agenda: Just what are those guidelines, and who is going to enforce them, if necessary? According to Reuters, this would involve “deeper financial integration” among its members. The term “integration” is being increasingly used to disguise the erasing of national sovereignty and the installation of the final step toward a United Europe run by international bankers (such as Monti) and other unelected elites.
It used to be common for people to urge us to learn "the lessons of history." But history gets much less attention these days and, if there are any lessons that we are offered, they are more likely to be the lessons from current polls or the lessons of political correctness. Even among those who still invoke the lessons of history, some read those lessons very differently from others. Talk show host Michael Medved, for example, apparently thinks the Republicans need a centrist presidential candidate in 2012. He said, "Most political battles are won by seizing the center." Moreover, he added: "Anyone who believes otherwise ignores the electoral experience of the last 50 years."
GOP presidential contender Herman Cain has found himself contending with a variety of alleged scandals over the course of the last month, ranging from sexual harassment allegations to accusations of a long-term extramarital affair. The most recent allegation, which asserts that Cain had been involved in a 13-year affair with a woman from Atlanta, Georgia, led Cain to tell his senior staff on Tuesday morning that he was “reassessing” his campaign’s livelihood. However, there are mixed signals from the Cain camp regarding the future of Cain’s candidacy. Cain’s declaration prompted some to wonder whether he would pull himself out of the race for a Republican presidential nomination, but Cain’s campaign manager Mark Block indicates that he simply meant he was conducting a “strategic reassessment” and “not a reassessment of withdrawing” from the race. According to Block, Cain will be outlining the specifics of that strategic assessment during his campaign stop in Dayton, Ohio, where Cain will “lay out his way forward.” When asked if Cain would drop out of the race under any specific circumstances, Block answered that there are only two things that would prompt Cain to leave the race: “Mrs. Cain, and if we show up to do an event and no one is there.”