DICK BAYNTON: The Mathematics of Mismanagement

Dick Baynton

The United States and its citizens have incurred national debt that is almost $20 trillion. That’s $61,500 each of us owes to holders of our debt such as foreign governments. But how big is a trillion dollars? Answer: if you purchased a new Lincoln auto for $50,000 every day, it would take over 54,000 years to use up the trillion bucks.

Our federal government operates on a fiscal basis from the beginning of October to the end of September. For year 2017 that started October 1, 2016, interest paid on national debt amounts to $285 billion through eight months (May 2017) of the current fiscal year.

The loss of taxpayer extractions amplifies in cost and expense when daily interest of more than $1 billion is added to increased government spending. No politician, no actuary, no economist, no mathematician can explain a future that includes racking up perpetual budget deficits and overwhelming interest costs.

Interest rate yields for holders of our debt such as treasury bills and TIPS (treasury inflation-protected securities) are less than 1% (.08%). When the interest rate cost increases even a small amount, our interest costs on national debt increases exponentially by billions of dollars annually.

The end game is a vast black hole of fiscal uncertainty. Government spending has slipped through the constraints of need into the province of reckless discretionary profligate squandering.

Here’s an example of misleading (stupid?) economics: When government officials moderate spending growth by 1%, they boast that the national debt is being reduced. That is not true; the truth is that the deficit (the national debt) is simply growing at a slightly slower rate.

The COP21 Global Warming conference in Paris began November 30, 2015 and concluded December 12th. The agreement among more than 190 participating nations was that temperatures would be increased by less than 2?C (3.6?F) compared with the pre-industrial period. More than 100 representatives from the USA attended the conference.

Total attendance at the Paris conference varied by reporting source from 38,000 to 55,000 attendees from participating nations. President Obama’s motorcade cost $785,000 for leased vehicles and security. The total cost of sending more than 100 government officials on this junket was $2 million. Why would IRS Chief Koskinen and other agency officials need to spend almost 2 weeks in Paris listening to 300 speakers?

The federal healthcare budget for 2017 is more than $1 trillion. Medicare is pegged at $590 billion, Medicaid budget is $385 billion, healthcare subsidies total $51 billion and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is $15 billion.

Here are some reasonable assumptions about healthcare: 1. There will always be 20 to 30 million uninsured citizens, 2. The pay of doctors and other healthcare workers will incline at the rate of the consumer price index (CPI) also called ‘inflation.’ 3. Drug companies and hospitals must make a profit; non-profits simply plough ‘would-be’ profits back into the mission of the organization.

Here are some ways to bend the healthcare cost curve (downward) ?: Exchange data with IRS and remove cheaters from the rolls of insurance premium subsidies. Charge everyone for ER visits and re-purpose emergency rooms to emergencies only. (For those who can’t afford the ER ‘fee’, establish civic charities supported by churches, businesses and individuals who can screen local subsidy applicants.)

Sell insurance policies across state lines. Cap malpractice settlements and get trial lawyers out of the racket of (greedy) astronomical settlements. Streamline Congressional rules for passing healthcare and other legislation. Congressmen and women have created a tangled web of intricate and complex rules that convey the illusion that progress is being made. The fact is that Murphy’s Law prevails: ‘Workload (debate) expands to fill the time available.’

USPS losses since 2001 exceed $70 billion; it’s time to privatize the delinquent postal service controlled by unions. Amtrak chugs along losing about $1 billion each year; gift this outfit over to railroaders. NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) is in debt to Treasury (U.S. taxpayers) $23 billion; give (not sell) the agency to Warren Buffett. There are 23 million government jobs and just 12 million manufacturing jobs in the nation; threshold of tyranny?

Our moral compass has been replaced with political correctness. The People must regain control, not by conflict of insurrection but by force of will.

Dick Baynton