CBO: Autopilot Spending To Send National Debt Soaring

The Congressional Budget Office has issued its Budget and Economic Outlook for 2019 through 2029, where it projects that for the next 10 years, the U.S. government’s spending and tax collections will each grow at an average annual rate of 5 percent a year.

What’s the problem with that? To put it bluntly, it’s the spending, which starts out at a level 23 percent higher than the federal government’s revenues. That means Americans can expect the government’s budget to bleed red ink in deficits for the next decade, a point that’s brought home by the very first figure featured in the CBO’s report.

U.S. Government Budgets and Surpluses, 1969-2018, with Projections to 2029

USDA Imposes the Worst Regulation Ever

In 2018, the overall cost for Americans to comply with regulations issued by U.S. government agencies decreased for the first time since that burden began to be measured in 2005. But that achievement wasn’t an across-the-board success story, because one federal government department bucked the trend by greatly increasing the regulatory burden on American food producers, where the cost of complying with new regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will ultimately be paid by all Americans whenever and wherever they might shop for food.

The new regulation is the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard (NBFDS), which was imposed by the USDA on December 20, 2018, just ahead of the partial federal government shutdown, which Henry Miller, the founding director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Biotechnology, and Drew Kershen, a law professor at the University of Oklahoma, have described as the USDA’s “most bewildering, least cost-effective regulation ever” in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.

Super Bowl Schools America

The New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII. The event was for the private entertainment of the audience, but even the lowest-scoring Super Bowl can also be educational. Nobody has to watch the vaunted NFL championship, and that demonstrates freedom of choice. The Super Bowl is a private event, so it betokens free enterprise. The game raked in a lot of money, but so did the Rose Bowl. The difference here is that in the Super Bowl the players get paid.

Each member of the winning team gets $124,000 and the losing side $62,000 per man, and this comes on top of their salaries. In college, players run the risk of risk of injury but get no money at all, forbidden even to sell autographs or conduct any personal marketing. College players are paid in kind, not in money. Audiences don’t pay to see NCAA bosses and college presidents, but those fat cats grab millions from the television rights, gate receipts, and marketing of sports products. So for the NFL players, the Super Bowl bonus they earned, like their salaries, is a form of delayed gratification.

Nationalism, the Ideological Delusion at the Heart of Protectionism

Every economic entity, whether it be an individual, a family, or a firm, faces a constant choice with regard to how it will secure the goods and services it desires in order to carry out its economic plans: make or buy?

Most individuals and families give little conscious thought to their making this choice. Yet they make it all the same. Many individuals do many things for themselves, such as house cleaning, home maintenance, personal care of various sorts, meal preparation, and so forth. They do not pause often to consider whether they would be better off to purchase these things, although they might purchase them, and some individuals do. One can hire housekeepers, groundskeepers, meal providers, and many other services. In some cases, provision of these services amounts to a large industry catering to individuals and families who have decided that buying is better than making, that market transactions are better than self-sufficiency.

In contrast, business firms commonly give serious, explicit attention to how they should answer the make-or-buy question, and many specialize in a narrow range of activities, relying on market purchases to provide every item they can buy at a lower cost than that at which they could make it for themselves.

Right-to-Try Laws Help Patient with Terminal Brain Cancer

Earlier this month, a patient with terminal brain cancer gained access to a potentially life-saving experimental treatment. Suffering from glioblastoma, considered to be “the most aggressive and malignant type of brain cancer,” the patient faces little hope of survival with conventional treatment methods.

Fortunately, the patient was able to access a new and promising treatment option named Gliovac. Gliovac helps patients fight cancer by providing a vaccine-like treatment which helps their immune system attack, and even eliminate, tumors or cancerous cells.

However, Gilovac is currently unapproved by the Food and Drug Administration. The patient’s family persevered, contacting Gilovac’s drug provider Enhanced Recovery Company who, with the assistance of the University of California, Irvine, was able to administer treatment through national right-to-try legislation.

How Much Did the Government Shutdown Cost the Economy?

For the 35 days from December 21, 2018 to January 25, 2019, we heard quite a lot of stories about the negative impact the latest partial federal government closure would have on the U.S. economy.

S&P Global Ratings, an independent firm that determines the credit ratings for businesses and governments that borrow money, estimated the cost of having about one-fifth of the U.S. government’s workforce either furloughed or working without pay for more than a month.

The U.S. economy lost at least $6 billion during the partial shutdown of the federal government due to lost productivity from furloughed workers and economic activity lost to outside business, S&P Global Ratings said on Friday.

50 Years after the Santa Barbara Oil Spill, Leviathan Is Slick as Ever

Fifty years ago, on January 28, 1969, an oil blowout off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, spilled an estimated three million gallons of crude oil into the Pacific Ocean. The oil slick, 35 miles long, killed thousands of birds, fish and sea mammals. Reporters called it the spill that launched the green revolution, and the response is still worthy of note.

An environmentalist named Peter Douglas took note of the spill and co-wrote Proposition 20, a 1972 ballot measure to create a temporary state commission to deal with the coast. That done, Douglas authored the Coastal Act of 1976, which made the Commission permanent. The next year, Douglas became deputy director and in 1985 executive director of the commission he conceived. With this regulatory zealot at the helm, the unelected Commission trumped the elected city and county governments on the coast and rode roughshod over the property rights of coastal residents who were not responsible for the oil spill.

No trace of the spill remains, but fifty years later the Coastal Commission is extending its power, levying fines directly, and still overriding elected governments. It was a classic example of leviathan expanding through crisis, and a temporary agency becoming permanent. Oil continues to seep naturally from the ocean floor, but the Commission is powerless to stop it.

Meanwhile, a blast of arctic air has temperatures plunging across the Midwest. In Green Bay, Wisconsin, the wind chill may approach -50 degrees, and across the Great Lakes, according to forecasters, “numerous temperature records will be threatened.” This happens almost every winter, but climate alarmists are not eager to harmonize the record low temperatures with global warming theory.

Latest Reactionary Jive on Janus

Illinois state worker Mark Janus was not a member of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees but the powerful AFSCME had been grabbing $550 a year from Janus’ paycheck and, he contended, using it to support political candidates and causes with which he disagreed. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that AFSCME couldn’t do that anymore, a huge victory for workers and taxpayers alike. Reaction was swift from government unions, lawyers, and at least one federal judge. For their part, politicians now seek to deploy a new trick.

As Fox News reports, Oregon House Bill 2643 by Rep. Paul Holvey, Eugene Democrat, would create “a slush fund from which state and local government would pay the equivalent of each employee’s monthly dues directly to the union.” Instead of a salary of $50,000, from which $1,000 in agency fees would be deducted, the state revises the salary $49,000 and diverts the remaining $1,000 directly to the union. This obviously disregards the intent of the high court in Janus and “envisions an impossibly unworkable arrangement in which the government represents both labor and management in collective bargaining negotiations.” For taxpayers, whose money is in play, this should prove educational.

Why President Trump Should Give Up on the Wall, and Why He Won’t

The lengthy partial government shutdown is now over after President Trump agreed to a temporary extension of government funding as he continues negotiations to try to include money in the budget for “the wall.” Politically, the president’s best move at this point would be to give up on trying to get budgetary funding for the wall, and say that while he wants it and most Americans want it (he should say most Americans want it, even if it is not true), he needs the cooperation of Congress to get it funded, and the Democrats in the House are preventing that from happening.

A statement like this reaffirms his desire to build the wall and lets his base know that the Democrats are responsible for preventing this from happening. That will boost his support from his base in the upcoming election and will encourage his base to turn out and elect Republicans to Congress. Turnout will increase within his base, who will want to vote Republican, but he won’t lose support anywhere else. He might even gain support from those few who are undecided if they view his withdrawal from this fight as a sign of reasonableness. He can tell his base he will pick up this issue again in two years when the Republicans gain control of the House, and also tell his base it is up to them to make that happen.

Green Book Wins by Embracing Individual Human Dignity

One of the big winners during movie awards season this year appears to be Green Book, a compelling historical drama about race in America. The movie, however, rises above jingoistic answers to America’s race problems and takes time to ponder layered questions of individuality, identity, and class. As a result, Green Book joins the ranks of several other notable films that explore America’s complicated history with race, including Hidden Figures, Moonlight, Detroit, Marshall, and Loving, just to name a few.

The movie takes its name from The Negro Motorist Green Book, a booklet that provided listings of motels and restaurants that would cater to traveling African Americans during segregation. Rooted in a true story, Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen, Lord of the Rings trilogy, Captain Fantastic, A Dangerous Method) is a street smart Brooklyn native working as a bouncer at the famed Copacabana nightclub in New York City in the early 1960s. He is a devoted family man to his wife Delores (Linda Cardellini, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mad Men, Bloodline) and two sons. He’s also a racist, a fact established early. In early scenes, he throws away drinking glasses used by two African American men repairing his kitchen and engages in prejudiced banter with his Brooklyn friends while speaking Italian.

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