The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It


The year was 1971 and Xavier Hollander published her memoir, “The Happy Hooker,” the recounting of her life as a call girl and madam.  The book caused quite a stir since polite people didn’t want to acknowledge the existence of the world’s oldest profession let alone be confronted with a description of a real person’s life as a prostitute.  If the book were published today, it would probably only receive a ho hum reception.  We’ve got far more juicy topics to appeal to our prurient interests.

Society has changed.  Mass shootings only occurred in wars, not schools and movie theaters.  Gay men frequently got married in order to cloak their true sexual orientation and found sexual partners in public bathrooms and bathhouses.  Smoking tobacco was viewed as a chic habit in which sophisticated ladies engaged and was part of being a macho guy.  And marijuana was something that was viewed exclusively as a habit in which only the nation’s hippies engaged.

In 1971 the United States was the world’s leader in steel production, although Japan was rapidly nipping at our heels.  Today the United States has slipped to third.  We are now behind Japan and produce only fifteen percent the amount that China makes each year.  Our national debt in 1971 was $400 Billion, about one-third of our $1.2 Trillion GDP.  Today we are over $17 Trillion in debt with a GDP of only $15.27 Trillion.  That number is the “official” level of the debt – although estimates which include our unfunded liabilities for Medicare and Social Security put the total closer to $100 Trillion.  Does any of this matter to your average American?

The answer, were you to ask your average Joe Citizen probably would be, “No.”  That should not surprise us.  A large segment of our population cannot tell you the year in which the colonies declared their independence, the country from which we separated or the name of the first president of the United States.  When you have teenagers and young adults who think that one of our three branches of government is the DMV, something as arcane as the National Debt is unlikely to garner much attention.

Perhaps the greatest evidence of the public’s apathy toward our debt is the fact that we regularly re-elect individuals to Congress and the White House who are equally oblivious to the problem – or at least a person could surmise as much from the fact that they continue the same policies which have led to these increases.  In fact, they have escalated them.

There should be one lesson that each of us can take from preparing our tax returns and that is that the government has no money of its own – only what it is able to take from its citizens.

“Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there..”

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.”

– President Obama in a speech in Roanoke, VA, July 14, 2012

Recently, the CBO suggested that Obamacare might cut an additional two million jobs out of the economy.  Most people would construe that as a bad thing since having a job eliminates a person from the pool of the jobless who collect unemployment benefits which adds to the National Debt and causes them to pay income taxes which should help reduce it.  But not the crafters of the law – especially the former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D – CA).

“Yesterday, the CBO projected that by 2021, the Affordable Care Act will enable more than 2 million workers to escape ‘job-lock’ — the situation where workers remain tied to employers for access to health insurance benefits.”

The former Speaker went on to extoll how this would free a person to go out and fulfill their inner dreams – to become a poet or painter.  And if we believe the president’s statement that “they didn’t do that on their own” we realize that he was correct.  They will only be able to be free to explore their inner genie because those remaining on the tax rolls will be funding them.

There were both in Chicago where I lived and in Las Vegas, cities with significant Middle Eastern populations, a number of hookah bars where friends would gather to smoke tobacco using these ancient water pipes and share news of their families and their businesses with their friends.

While currently only Washington state and Colorado have legalized marijuana for recreational use, I believe that D. C. is the next logical candidate for legalization.  If our elected officials were seen coming out of a marijuana hookah bar at least we would have a cogent reason for understanding how they can continue to endorse and promote policies that epitomize total obtuseness.

Comments on: "THE HAPPY HOOKAH" (7)

  1. I think one of the best ways to fix the whole thing is to outlaw withholding, and the employers contribution, in both income and Social Security. Can you imagine the angst of having to find the tax payment money?

    Withholding is when FDR got the government out of control and the sanest method to get it back under control.

  2. When withholding was enacted into law in 1943, one company that opposed it decided to take matters in their own hand and demonstrate how the government was taking their employees’ money. So when payday came around, the company cashier showed each employee their gross wages and then started taking out deductions for FICA and Federal Income tax. The Feds shut that practice down once they heard of it.

    I think in terms of today’s strategy, every citizen outraged by the IRS’ abuses should call the agency ten times a day. That should overwhelm them so much that they would have less time to investigate Tea Party organizations.

  3. Oh I remember the book “Happy Hooker.” The setting was Indonesia so as I like settings in Asia for novels I read that one with interest. On the question of money. The paper it is printed on is practically worthless. It is people’s confidence in that promise to pay on the part of a government which makes people accept it as an exchange for goods or services. If people have no confidence in a government it will take more and more of that paper to buy those goods and services until at last people go back to the barter system as they no longer have confidence in the government’s promise to redeem that paper when you want them to. This has happened in places as diverse as Germany and Indonesia to name a few places. Good government restores confidence in the printed paper promise to pay. We are on a knife edge in today’s Western economies and desperately need people in power who can give us back our confidence in their printed money.

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