This is not a doom and gloom essay. It's a in your face reality essay that states facts and leaves you to decide what is right or wrong and what to do to fix the numerous problems with our country today. As they say, the truth hurts, and it hurts reading it, but we must have the courage to discuss even the most disturbing facts in order to better ourselves and our country. I leave with two quotes from Carl Sagan. ‘The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counter intuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true’. And finally a partial quote from Dr. Sagan ‘The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion and politics, but it is not the path to knowledge’. Please enjoy my essay with Dr. Sagan's message and mine in mind.
First and foremost I am a patriot; I love my country and would die protecting it. I joined the Army’s early entry program six months before graduating from High School. Ten days after graduation my life changed forever and I was on my way to become a soldier. I learned to get alone with every different kind of person, personality, religion, skin color and more than you can ever imagine. I also learned that I could trust my life to any one of those soldiers regardless of their skin color or ethnicity and most importantly we are all the same, human beings. I left the Army with an honorable discharge and have been a very patriotic person ever since my life changing time in the military. I took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic and I am duty bound by that oath, if only morally till the day I die. I would don my uniform again in an instant if my President called upon me to fight for our country. Now that my patriotism is fully established, some might wonder what in the heck gets me to write some of the things I do. Well, sometimes in life you just have to use whatever outlet you can and proclaim what you feel is right or the truth. It’s not always pretty, and much of the time the truth is pretty ugly and it almost always hurts. The truth as I see it through my eyes and processed it with my brain is what you get, it’s up to you to process it with your brain and decide if it has merit. You might not believe everything I say or agree with me on every point, or at all, but you have to admit this country of ours is doomed if we don’t change. I know that some people have read what I have written about man as a species and cringed because you knew deep down in your heart I was right on some things and those things touched you personally. Change is the new buzz word, but man has not changed nor is he likely to change in the near future. It has been politics as usual for decades and if things have changed at all, it’s been for the worse, not betterment of mankind. When a police officer changing an elderly women’s tire makes headline news or makes it on YouTube, we know we are in trouble and still on the decline. That kind of human gesture of compassion and love for fellow man was common place not too long ago, but not anymore. We continue to carve away at our morals, our values, and our scruples, not to forget most importantly, at each other, and our precious planet. We pray upon each other, use each other to our own advantage, no one does something without expecting payment or something in return anymore. When is the last time you did something out of the kindness of your heart and not expected a single thing in return? Even at Christmas people judge you by the quality of gifts you give them. We walk with our heads down, watching our feet instead of looking into the faces of those we pass and saying hello. We throw out good food instead of dropping it off at the nearest homeless shelter. We laugh at the less fortunate and we show our greed when we envy those more fortunate them ourselves. We pick and choose verses of the Bible to live by, but forget, ignore or distort the other’s we cannot believe or cannot live with. We are a lost nation, like a colony of bacteria on a dead bird, only so much life or sustenance we can take from that bird before we are down to the bare bones. I have written about change, about racism, childhood and environmental abuse, it all comes down to one thing, man. It’s not the planet, it’s not the color of one’s skin that is the problem, not the one being raped or killed by another human being, its man himself who is by nature and by brain structure inherently evil. Unless we begin telling the truth and listening to the truth and really enacting change, there will be no man left a hundred years from now, and what’s left of this bare bones planet of ours will be indistinguishable from what it is today, just as it is indistinguishable from what it was several millennia ago. If enough people decide to take action, to really enact change, to take charge of their lives and do things like read the Constitution, vote, protest, speak out and up and not stay tuned out then perhaps we can turn around and take a different path. With a national debt of over 16 trillion dollars and unfunded liabilities that include social security and Medicare and the Medicare drug coverage plan that amount to more than 110 trillion dollars, how can we sustain this kind of spending and living, this life that we have made for ourselves? The average person does not even know or cannot even fathom what a trillion dollars looks like. Everyone has seen what a pallet of goods looks like. A pallet of 100 dollar bills is about 4 feet square and 4 feet high and contains $100,800,000 in crisp 100 dollar bills. Now double stack a pallet and place 50 of them side by side, you now have 100 pallets, now make 100 rows of these 50 double stacked pallets of crisp 100 dollar bills, each holding $100,800,000, now you have 1 trillion dollars. But that’s only 1 trillion, and those pallets would cover a football field. So our football field of pallets is roughly 224ft x 432ft x 7ft high. But that’s only 1 trillion, which by the way would cover 2.2 acres of space for another comparison. Now comes the grand finally, take that football field of double stacked pallets that are seven feet high and multiply it by 16. You get an astounding mound of cash the size of a football field and 117 feet high that is using today’s figure of the National debt of 16.73 trillion dollars. But here comes the real kicker, the grandfather of all daddies our unfunded liabilities. At 123,216,564,989,852 as of today March 22, 2013, is a pile of cash the size of a football field that is 879.9 feet high. That is such an enormous amount of cash there is no way in God’s name that we can ever hope to raise that kind of money in the very near future, which is when it’s required to ensure the continuance of Medicare, Social Security and the prescription drug plan. For comparison, the Statue of Liberty is 151 feet and 1 inch high without its base, which means this pile of cash would be about 8 times higher than the Statue of Liberty, which I have been fortunate enough to go to the top of and look out at the harbor. For another comparison the pile would reach the 70th floor of the empire state building, just 16 floors short of the 86th floor observatory for those who have been there like I have, it’s extremely high. George W. Bush himself said ‘"It's your money. You paid for it." and he is absolutely right although he didn’t quite mean to be right. But a more visionary President named Thomas Jefferson once said “I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing”. That was a statement and a vision of the future that was spot on. We will run out of funds and the Federal Reserve cannot continue pumping out new cash to flood the market with nothing to back it up but promissory notes. Going off the gold standard was the down fall of our economy. You can blame President Richard Nixon for that. Under the gold standard, a government is limited both legally and practically as to how much paper money it can print. Under the gold standard, governments that print too much paper money risk runs on their gold reserves. Runs occur as holders of the paper seek to convert to gold before the vaults are empty. A run on the dollar is what happened in the late 1960s, which culminated in President Richard Nixon closing the gold window in 1971. At that time it was a smart move to gain extra cash to feed the ever hungry Vietnam war which cost the lives of 58,220 young men of the Armed Forces and nearly 1 million combatants, but it should have never have been made permanent. The U.S. national debt is now more than 37 times larger than it was when Richard Nixon took us off the gold standard. Closing the gold window is a euphemism for the U.S. defaulting on its promise to other countries to redeem dollars for gold. As an alternative, Nixon could have devalued the dollar and continued to redeem. In effect, he chose one hundred percent devaluation, a de facto default on the promise to redeem. Now Gold is worth a whole lot more because of this and the American dollar is becoming worthless and someday will be worthless. Before taking us off the gold standard, you could take a twenty dollar bill to the Federal Reserve and ask for 20 dollars in gold and they would have to give it to you. Now if you were to take that same 20 dollar bill to the Federal Reserve they would give you another promissory note and a weird look, that’s it, there is nothing behind the cash to back it up. To help or make matters worse, the US government is buying its own bonds now so that the Federal Reserve can pump more money out into the economy. The mysterious Federal Reserve is the ‘gatekeeper’ of the economy. Before the Federal Reserve was created in 1913, there were over 30,000 different currencies floating around in the United States. Currency could be issued by almost anyone; even drug stores issued their own notes. There were many problems that stemmed from this, including the fact that some currencies were worth more than others. Some currencies were backed by silver or gold, and others by government bonds. There were even times when banks didn't have enough money to honor withdrawals by customers. Imagine going to the bank to withdraw money from your savings account and being told you couldn't because they didn't have enough money! Before the Fed was created, banks were collapsing and the economy swung wildly from one extreme to the next. The faith Americans had in the banking system was not very strong. This is why the Federal Reserve was created. It is the central bank of the United States or the bank of banks and the bank of the U.S. government. The Federal Reserve oversees roughly 5,000 bank holding companies, 850 state bank members of the Federal Reserve Banking System, and any foreign banks operating in the US. The Federal Reserve Banking System is a network of 12 Federal Reserve banks that both supervise and serve as banks for all the commercial banks in their region. The 12 banks are located in: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Richmond, Atlanta, Chicago, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas and San Francisco. The Reserve Banks serve the U.S. Treasury by handling its payments, selling government securities and assisting with its cash management and investment activities. Now the Federal Reserve regulates financial institutions, manages the nation's money and influences the economy. By raising and lowering interest rates, creating money and using a few other tricks, the Fed can either stimulate or slow down the economy. The Federal Reserve’s original job was to organize, standardize and stabilize the monetary system in the United States. It had to set up a method that could create "liquidity" in the money supply. To make sure banks could honor withdrawals for customers. It also needed to come up with a way to create an "elastic currency," meaning it had to control inflation by making sure prices didn't climb too quickly, and it needed a way of increasing or decreasing the country's supply of currency in order to prevent inflation and recession. When recession hits, the Federal Reserve can lower interest rates in order to encourage people to borrow money and make purchases. This works in the short run, but it has to be handled carefully so that inflation doesn’t impacted us in the long run. The Federal Reserve must be careful to balance the short term goals of increasing output and employment with the long term goals of maintaining low inflation. The Federal Reserve’s primary control is in the raising and lowering of short-term interest rates. This can indirectly influence demand, which then influences the economy. For example, if interest rates are lowered, borrowing money to make purchases becomes less expensive, and people are more motivated to spend money because they can get a better deal on the loan. Spending money, in turn, stimulates economic growth, which is what the Federal Reserve wants to do in this instance. Unfortunately if there is too much money in the economy, people spend more money and demand increases at a faster rate than supply can match. Prices rise too quickly because of the shortage of products, and the end result is more inflation. If there is too little money in the economy, people don't have excess spending money, and there is little economic growth. The Federal Reserve keeps transactions flowing. It processes and clears a third of all the checks processed in the country, which is about 20 billion checks per year. The transactions are done on a fee basis, which is part of how the Federal Reserve supports itself. Banks are not required to use the Reserve Banks; they can choose to use a private competitor. This helps to ensure that the processing fees being charged are kept under control. The Federal Reserve also monitors the condition of currency and either sends it back into circulation or has it destroyed. Because there are times during the year when people need more cash, currency is stored at Reserve Banks so banks can order more money as they need it. These "orders" are paid for with funds from the bank's reserve account balance held with the Federal Reserve. In order to combat the problems of insufficient cash reserves (and the inability to pay depositors) that were faced before the creation of the Federal Reserve System, banks now have to set aside a certain amount of cash in "reserve." The reserve balance that banks must maintain is typically a percentage of their total interest-bearing and non-interest-bearing checking account deposits, between 3 and 10 percent. The amount of a bank's required reserves will fluctuate depending on their account totals. The reserve is very important because it helps to ensure that the bank will always be able to give you your money when you ask for it. In the event that a bank's money supply drops below the required reserve amount, that bank can borrow either from another bank or from a Reserve Bank. If it borrows from another bank's excess reserves, then the loan takes place in a private financial market called the federal funds market. The federal funds market interest rate, called the funds rate, adjusts according to the supply of and demand for reserves. The most effective tool the Federal Reserve has, and one that it uses most often, is the buying and selling of government securities in its open market. Government securities include treasury bonds, notes, and bills. The Federal Reserve buys securities when it wants to increase the flow of money and credit, and sells securities when it wants to reduce the flow. The Federal Reserve purchases securities from a bank and pays for the securities by adding a credit to the bank's reserve for the amount purchased. The bank has to keep a percentage of these new funds in reserve, but can lend the excess money to another bank in the federal funds market. This increases the amount of money in the banking system and lowers the federal funds rate. This ultimately stimulates the economy by increasing business and consumer spending because banks have more money to lend and interest rates are lowered. When the Federal Reserve wants to decrease the money supply, it sells securities. That transaction deducts the purchase amount from the bank's reserve. This reduces the amount of money the bank has to lend in the federal funds market and increases the federal funds rate. This move ultimately slows the economy down by decreasing the amount of money banks have to loan, which increases interest rates and typically reduces consumer and business spending. The Federal Reserve watches economic indicators closely to determine in which the direction the economy is going. By forecasting increases in inflation or slow-downs in the economy, the Fed knows whether to increase or decrease the supply of money. Influencing inflation takes a long time and has to be looked at as a long-term goal. Influencing employment and output, however, can be done more quickly and therefore is a short-term goal. Finding the balance between the two is the key to a fiscal goal. The lags in the effects that monetary policy has on the economy are significant. This is why the Fed has to make forecasts of inflation prior to it actually happening one to three years in advance. As the government's bank, or fiscal agent, the Federal Reserve processes a variety of financial transactions involving trillions of dollars. Just as an individual might keep an account at a bank, the U.S. Treasury keeps a checking account with the Federal Reserve, through which incoming federal tax deposits and outgoing government payments are handled. As part of this service relationship, the Fed sells and redeems U.S. government securities such as savings bonds and Treasury bills, notes and bonds. It also issues the nation's paper and coin currency. The U.S. Treasury, through its Bureau of the Mint and Bureau of Printing and Engraving, actually produces the nation's cash supply and, in effect, sells the paper currency to the Federal Reserve Banks at manufacturing cost, and the coins at face value. The Federal Reserve Banks then distribute it to other financial institutions in various ways. Basically there are two types of inflation that are closely tied to each other. Monetary inflation is an increase in the money supply which is what is really hurting our country at this time, and price inflation. Price inflation is a sustained increase in the general level of prices, which is equivalent to a decline in the value or purchasing power of money. The effects of monetary and price inflation include many financial disasters. Interest rate-sensitive industries, like mortgage companies, suffer as monetary inflation drives up long-term interest rates and Federal Reserve tightening raises short-term rates. Price inflation makes workers worse off if their incomes don't rise as rapidly as prices. Pensioners living on a fixed income are worse off if their savings do not increase more rapidly than prices. Lenders lose because they will be repaid with dollars that aren't worth as much. Savers lose because the dollar they save today will not buy as much when they are ready to spend it. Debtors win because the dollar they borrow today will be repaid with dollars that aren't worth as much. Monetary inflation is always and is simply an increase of the money supply which in turn leads to a higher nominal price level, as the real value of each monetary unit is eroded, loses purchasing power and thus buys fewer assets and goods and services. Due to these types of inflation there will come a time when a billion dollars will not even buy you a bar of soap. It happened in Germany during War World II and it will happen again, but here in our precious country that has endured so much hardship over the years. Speaking of hardship, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan which we never see the caskets on TV like did during the Vietnam War. We don’t hear about these things on TV because they are blocked or banned from television by the White House. All we see are ads to join the Army or Marines and commercial after commercial for food products. "Redefining the role of the United States from enablers to keep the peace to enablers to keep the peace from peacekeepers is going to be an assignment." -George W. Bush, Jan. 14, 2001. If you were to put the caskets side by side they would cover several dozen football fields. The total dead due to the War on Terror as of January 2013 was 6300 dead US members of the Armed Forces, and we must not forget the brave soldiers from Britain and the other coalition members. The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so far are in excess of 2.6 trillion, and that is not including the continued care for injured Veterans to include medical and psychological care for life. Are we now as President George W. Bush said the ‘do gooders’, the ‘peace keepers’, by invading countries that have different governmental systems then our own and different belief systems them our own, take out there leader and occupy their country? President Bush remarked "Removing Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency, it is the right decision now, and it will be the right decision ever.” March 12, 2008. Of course you have to look at the man behind the wars themselves, George Walker Bush. About Afghanistan he said "And they have no disregard for human life." George W. Bush, on the brutality of Afghan fighters, July 15, 2008, what? Yes you might have to read it twice but ‘no disregard’, I know he meant plenty of disregarded. One Bushism as they are now called that comes to mind is when he spoke of Iraq ‘"Should the Iranian regime-do they have the sovereign right to have civilian nuclear power? So, like, if I were you, that's what I'd ask me. And the answer is, yes, they do." George W. Bush, July 2, 2008. Bush did have a way with words and it is not laughing matter when you start counting the bodies that resulted in his ideology and his ideals behind right and wrong. I think two of the most true and prophetic lines he ever said were "One of the things important about history is to remember the true history." --George W. Bush, June 6, 2008, and "I'll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office”. Now don’t misunderestimate me, sorry I had to say it, I am just as patriotic as the next American, actually maybe even more so, having served in the Army with great pride under President Clinton. People can say what they wish about Bill Clinton but he forever changed the way we see the President and the Presidency. He showed Americans and the rest of the world that Presidents are just ordinary people just like you and I. They have personal lives and they make mistakes, they are human. I think this was something that was long overdue to the American people, the changing of how we view our President. When it comes to whether or not we are or should be the peace keepers of the entire Earth, I think not, but we can help in certain situations. I feel deep remorse while reading about a dictator in a foreign country who is abusing his people, living in luxury while his people starve and he orders the systematically killing of anyone who opposes him. But beyond whether it’s right or wrong, do we have the right to step in and take over and hang the dictator? Saddam Hussein was an evil person no doubt about it, but he also did some good for the Iraqi people too. Before he took office or power only 1/3 of the Iraqi people could read and write, during his regime that changed to almost 100 percent. There is also a little unknown fact that Saddam Hussein was actively supported by the United States and other Western powers to get sophisticated arms, intelligence and chemical weapons to fight Khomeini’s Iran, everyone’s bogeyman of the 1980s. Human Rights violations by Saddam Hussein were criminally ignored by the United States as long as he fought Iran. Believe it or not, like it or not, our government has its own interest and uses other’s to further its cause, we are not unlike other nations. It all goes back to the one principle idea that we are all human and you cannot take the human out of the equation whether its politics or any other interest the United States has. The man in question at that time was George W. Bush. It was his ideology, his personal vendetta against Saddam for ‘trying to kill his father’ that drove him to the point of becoming an old western cowboy saying ‘were going to smoke em out’ and making wanted dead or alive posters. Had it been a different man a different President things would have been dramatically different. The people of Iraq today are divided amongst themselves, those who still embrace their once leader and those who are glad he is dead. It’s not my job or even in my power to decide if what we did was right or wrong, the variables are just too great and the facts just too blurry and skewed. We were told that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be false. That was the premise in which to invade Iraq to begin with. Have we learned from this or do we continue with business as usual. I do not know, but hypothetically speaking how would we feel as Americans if say China decided they had had enough of Americans and quickly invaded our country with their huge Army that as of 2005 numbered 342,956,265 available men aged 18 to 49 and an additional 324,701,244 females, age 18–49. That’s a force that is more than double the entire population of the United States. How could we defend our nation against such a force even if they used bows and arrows and muskets? The nuclear option would not even be an option until the very last minute because China has nuclear weapons too. IT would be a conventional war with tens of millions of casualties and end with global destruction with a nuclear exchange larger than several hundred mega tons that would be sufficient enough to block out the Sun for months or more. The plants would die; the animals would follow and then man himself would die. Yes there are those few who would survive, the President deep inside a mountain stocked with years of food and its own natural water source, but would you want to live on the planet once it became habitable again, and under the power of another regime? It would be an extinction event created and perpetrated by man. When thinking of past events and our current financial situation as well as our political stance with other nations I believe that our country has gone down the wrong path. We need to reevaluate not only our financial system and economy but the Constitution itself. We have strayed too far away from the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence and the laws of the Constitution that we are no longer the nation our forefather’s had intended us to be. I don’t have the answer or the solution to the problems facing the United States or the world for that matter, but getting out a copy of the Declaration of independence and the Constitution and reading them would be a start, not only for citizens but for every politician including the President. We must change course and get back on the path our forefather’s intended for this great nation or become a second or third world nation, a has been nation. I do not want to be alive to see something as terrible as that happen to this nation but at the pace we are going both economically and politically I can foresee no other future. I pray that at the next Presidential election there is a candidate who is true to the Constitution and truly enacts change and not simply uses it as a buzz word to get elected. The future stats with you, so I end with a quote from my former Commander and Chief, “The road to tyranny, we must never forget begins with the destruction of the truth”, Bill Clinton, 1995.
Michael Dale Sipes, Jr.
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