Dwight Eisenhower spoke those words above at what must have been near the peak of American power and prosperity. And yet, Eisenhower urged restraint. He reminded citizens that every penny spent by the government had to come from somewhere, taking away things people actually wanted — housing…automobiles…food…and medicine.
Back then, you couldn’t get something-for-nothing any more than you can today. But who says so now? Who urges humility…who speaks of trade-offs? Who bothers to look at the price tag? And who would dare to tell the voters that they have to pay it?
There’s always more than a little flimflam in public spending. It’s the hope of getting something-for-nothing that keeps the whole hullabaloo going. But the cost of the US empire is now nearly US$1.5 trillion per year. That’s five million houses we don’t get to live in. Or 50 million new cars. Or 397 billion happy meals. It’s about US$17,000/family/year. Did anyone tell the voters? Are they OK with this?
The point of today’s message is that at least one politician seems ready to ask.
A modest start
Here, our beat is money, not politics. We’ve never said anything nice about politicians because they, almost without exception, are a nuisance. They pass laws that reduce output. They spend money they don’t have…and divert resources from useful investments to their favourite bamboozles. They impose regulations that benefit a small group of insiders (such as the people who make steel or silicon chips) at the expense of everybody else.
But we wrote about Robert F Kennedy Jr because we saw him breaking with the Biden/Clinton/Schumer ‘woke and war’ agenda. He’s proposing to…
…shut down many of the US’s overseas bases and reduce the military/industrial/ spook budget…
…allow whistleblowers to tell the truth without going to jail
…block the feds from creating a new form of central bank digital currency that they could use to control how we spend our money.
Much more would have to be done to rescue the Republic…but that’s a start! And what could we add that might be helpful?
We’ve been writing this column for nearly 25 years. Long-term sufferers know ‘where we’re coming from’. They understand how cutting the link between gold and the dollar, in 1971, changed our monetary system. They know, too, that new, flexible dollars — along with the Fed’s artificially low interest rates — created today’s inflation/debt problem. They know that the US’s elites — both Republican and Democrat — have become predatory, incompetent, and corrupt. They see how the Fed is trapped between ‘Inflate or Die’; either it continues to inflate…or the US’s US$93 trillion debt bubble collapses.
Our readers are well aware that investors and speculators have gained about US$50 trillion in ‘excess’ wealth from the Fed’s fake interest rates. They recognise that inflation is not an act of nature, but a government policy. And they understand that the elites — who control the government — would prefer inflation rather than see their stocks, bonds, and real estate marked down and their power and status greatly reduced.
Our readers are well aware that inflation helps to hold asset prices up (at least in nominal terms) but it destroys the middle class…and how, with no independent middle class, the US’s democracy — such as it is — is finished.
But what does RFK Jr know? He ‘had it all’ — good looks, brains, money. He was one of the ‘privileged elite’. Private schools, Harvard…his grandfather was Ambassador to Britain. His uncle was president of the US. Another uncle was a US senator. And his own father was US Attorney General. He went to the London School of Economics — a bastion of ‘Fabianism’…a hesitating, gradualist form of socialism. And he made his career as a lawyer, mostly litigating against large corporations for environmental infractions.
But wait. Is that how it works? Is that what gives you happiness, peace, contentment in life? Your connections? Your status? Money?
A friend of ours ‘had it all’ too. He was rich. Good looking. With a beautiful house. A lovely wife…children…he was a partner in a large, successful financial firm…and a commissioner of the SEC.
Apparently, ‘all’ was not enough. He shot himself.
And you might think twice before trading lives with RFK Jr. Both his father and his uncle were shot dead. How come? He must wonder.
Lyndon Johnson had the blood of thousands of Americans and maybe a million Vietnamese on his hands. Nobody shot him. George W Bush’s hands are stained red too — a million corpses in the Middle East, and yet, he still breathes. And there is Joe Biden…providing billions of dollars, and the latest weapons, to keep the Russo-Ukrainian War going; where’s his Sirhan Sirhan…his Lee Harvey Oswald?
No doubt, RFK Jr’s wondering mind took him down some blind alleys to some dead ends. He got arrested for heroin possession. He went into rehab. His ex-wife hung herself. He probed ‘conspiracy theories’ and believes the CIA was involved in JFK’s murder.
This is not Mike Pence’s resume!
And he’s still wondering…at least enough to ask us what we thought.
So, we sent him a copy of our new book, Uncivilizing America (out this week and already Number One in the economics category at Amazon!). We hope it will give him a coherent framework for thinking about economic issues.
The problem is time. Mr Kennedy must have little ‘free’ time. After all, running for president is not a part-time job. And it took us nearly 25 years to work out what is going on (and even now…there are plenty of air pockets in our pensée).
So, if he is willing to give us a little attention, how can we take best advantage of it? Stay tuned as we pack a quarter century of accumulated observations and guesswork into an overnight bag.
For The Daily Reckoning Australia