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  • Morning Bell: Economic Freedom Is Foundation Of All Other Freedoms

    Next Monday, January 17, is the 50th anniversary of President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address. The speech is most commonly remembered for President Eisenhower’s warning about the “unwarranted influence” of the “military-industrial complex,” but often left out of the story is Ike’s warning about profligate federal spending as well: “We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.” Ike went on to call for “balance in and among national programs” including “balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable.”

    The balance of today’s federal budget looks much different than it did during Ike’s time. When Ike spoke, the U.S. government spent 10 percent of or gross domestic product (GDP) on national defense, while Medicare and Medicaid did not even exist. Today, we spend only 4.9 percent of our GDP on defense and 9.9 percent on our entitlement programs (which include Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security). Clearly, defense spending is not the cause of our nation’s debt problem. Looking forward, the imbalance only gets worse: Defense spending is set to fall to 3.5 percent of GDP by 2015 while spending on entitlement programs is set to consume 100 percent of tax revenue by 2052. The “balance” of our spending priorities has dramatically shifted—and not toward one that favors “the clearly necessary” over the “comfortably desirable.”

    This week, The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal released the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom, and the news was not good. For the second year in a row, the United States became less economically free as the Obama Administration jacked up government spending through economic stimulus, undermined private property with more bailouts, failed to pursue free trade agreements, and slowed job growth with burdensome new Obamacare regulations. Our deficit in 2010 was actually higher as a percentage of GDP than the deficits of Greece or Spain. We are headed down a European welfare state path. And that path will not allow the U.S. to continue to play its leading role as the world’s most powerful democracy. The Heritage Foundation’s Theodore Bromund explains:

    Historically, American international leadership after World War II was predicated on the correct belief that political and economic freedom and progress were interdependent. The U.S. decided to move away from protectionism, and encourage other countries to do the same, to prevent another Great Depression and the accompanying rise of totalitarianism. But now, instead of the U.S. driving the world’s move towards economic freedom, the U.S. is holding the rest of the world back. This is a rejection of the U.S.’s successful, bipartisan post-war grand strategy. The United States cannot be a world leader if it has a stagnant economy.

    Our military leaders also recognize federal spending as a threat to national security. This past August, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen told CNN that “the most significant threat to our national security is our debt.” This is not to say that our defense budget is perfect. Far from it. Heritage Foundation defense policy analysts Mackenzie Eaglen and Julia Pollack have identified defense spending reforms that could save taxpayers more than $70 billion. But it is vitally important that these savings are plugged back in to preserving our economic freedom. Our military equipment and forces are wearing out. Our tactical aircraft have an average age of 20 years, bombers nearly 30, and tankers about 45. The bipartisan blue-ribbon panel led by William J. Perry, former Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton, and Stephen J. Hadley, former National Security Adviser to President George W. Bush, identified military modernization as the key to doing more on a strained national security budget.

    We cannot adequately protect ourselves without a modernized military. A modernized military depends on a strong U.S. economy. That is why economic freedom is not just a pocketbook issue: It is fundamental to American security.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    31 Responses to Morning Bell: Economic Freedom Is Foundation Of All Other Freedoms

    1. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Conn, you are one of the few people, in the know, who has the best handle on the current situation.

      I went over the “How to Reform the Department of Defense Budget” report referened in the article and am very impressed. It is very thoughtful and all of this should be implemented immediately. I only add the following when looking at the federal government at a global level:

      1. Consolidate all payroll and human resources function to a central federal agency (i.e. GSA). Not only will this remove this non-military expenditure from the defense department, but it will also help consolidate the department of agriculture’s payroll service and the few others that exists within the federal government. The DoD should not be wasting its valuable time performing payroll and human resource functions.

      2. Consolidate all open government initiatives to a central federal agency (GSA). Again, they will not need to manage this non-military function.

      3. Consolidate all passenger automotive and bus fleet functions under the GSA. From what I see the DoD and the DHS are the only two non-GSA departments that has their own fleets – these should be brought under the single auto fleet section within the GSA. There is no need for DoD civilians to be used for a task already being done elsewhere.

      4. All media, marketing and other public relations functions could also be consolidated under GSA as well. This could also include the management and coordination of recruitment activities. Albeit, military folks would have to participate in partnership with the GSA.

      5. Create a cost effective – minimum risk work environment. Revamp and tighten access to classified information. Create a secure centralized robust declassification program that has checks and balances. Use military personnel who have direct field experience and specific education with the subject matter. The rest of the administrative offices and most non-administrative offices would then be working with declassified information. This will allow the DoD to use cost effective standard business practices and equipment with little risk of the kind of enormous leaks we have been seeing as of late. This will also help reduce the massive costs incurred because of the extensive and invasive background checks for the DoD staff which is currently piling up in a massive backlog.

      In short, if the task is administrative and does not have a direct military-purpose, find a way to consolidate it with the same type of function within the rest of the government. This not only will relieve the DoD budget from the perpetual drain of these redundant non-military tasks, but also will help out the entire federal government in general. Use the GSA for its intended purpose. Acting as a single consolidated department, servicing the needs of the entire federal government in a cost effective and efficient manner.

      Moreover, with items 1 through 4, these services can be packaged up and easily contracted out to private sector companies at a much lower cost in the same manner as you described in the report for non-combat duties moving from military personnel to civilian workers.

    2. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Another approach to cost savings all the while improving the deserved service to our veterans.

      I know this is a sore topic for some as the federal government and the left has been very effective in casting a bad light on the private sector. There are bad eggs in both the federal sector and the private sector, but the feds and the left only castigate the private sector while they get away with their wrong doings.

      Anyway, another cost-cutting venture could be to privatize the VA function, then close the VA altogether. I know it is not a DoD function, but it is involved in a big way. Centralizing all federal human resource offices under single office in the GSA would result in two general classes of federal workers. One being the military (MIL), the other being federal workers (FED). Once a soldier is discharged from the military a new class will be formed, veteran (VET). In addition, another class would be federal retirees (RET). The new consolidated GSA HR department would be broken down in four sections, MIL, FED, VET and RET branches and would be employed by specialist that transfer over from each of their former respective HR departments throughout government. First, by administering HR functions outside the DoD, the DoD will never have to use its valuable and increasingly scarce military dollars to administer such human resource functions both in active service or in retirement mode for both their MIL or CIV communities. I wish to address the cost savings within the VET section.

      A VET will have an “a la carte” benefits package that includes among other things, paying a premium to a VET healthcare and/or life insurance program to be administered by the private sector with services being delivered by private sector hospitals and health care centers. The VET will select their health care plan; life insurance plan or whatever offered by many private sector insurance companies who chose to participate. They will provide this information to the GSA HR department who in turn will only need to make payouts to the plans.

      The VET’s healthcare will be managed in the same way as anyone else. The only difference is that with our gratitude for the human service and sacrifice we, the American taxpayer, will gladly pay 100% of the VET’s premiums. All VA hospitals and health care centers will be converted to private sector institutions. Where it makes sense, some should be closed if there is already a high presence of heath care options in the area and/or the building is in disrepair. All vacant federal buildings within the former VA administrative body will be sold at a low price to the private sector. Many very beautiful vacant VA buildings could be converted easily to nice apartments or hotels at an additional boom to the economy.

      To administer this program insurance companies or hospitals would not have to add anywhere near the number of workers that would be let go by the federal government, as much of the burden could easily be absorbed within existing infrastructure of many existing private sector companies. The private sector employees also cost much less then the feds on average. The benefits of having the VET healthcare programs compete would also add massive cost savings. Moreover, it makes healthcare for our VETS as close as a quick drive to a quality local healthcare center rather than having to drive 100’s of miles to get to the nearest VA hospital. Converting the few state of the art VA hospitals currently in existence to private sector hospital will also benefit the public as we all can benefit in the investments made in those hospitals and health centers by the federal government using our tax dollars. The investment in these hospitals will also be protected from the necessary and significant federal cuts that will be required in the next few years as we battle the national debt.

      The beauty here is if the VET feels the company they are using is not providing good service, they can move to a new company (I.E. Competition!) In addition, any company that “screws” over a VET will look bad in the public’s eyes and they would not want that. An insurance company or healthcare provider that gets high marks from private sector Veterans groups will likely be on the top of the list for private sector customers who want quality health care. This concept will ensure the very best and very high quality healthcare for our veterans. I cannot think of another way to design this program to do any better. Moreover, I cannot think of a better way to give our thanks for what they gave us!

      This is a win-win solution no matter how you look at it.

    3. Turner, Massachusett says:

      I have to disagree with you pretty hard on this, religious freedom is the foundation, source and creator of ALL freedom. If America keeps trying to address its problems with and for money, you won't have anything, Revelation 18:14:

      14"The fruit for which your soul longed

      has gone from you,

      and all your delicacies and your splendors

      are lost to you,

      never to be found again!".

      For it is said:

      “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money." Matthew 6:24.

    4. Forest Wilson, Flori says:

      That is why economic freedom is not just a pocketbook issue: It is fundamental to American security.

      So, those who would recklessly spend the United States into economic failure could be classified as potential threats? You bet. Furthermore, anyone who openly or not so openly admits to be a soclialist or communist is a threat since they pursue policies which limit economic freedom and private property. This next election cycle is more important than the last. It is an opportunity for economic freedom loving Americans to finally stop the scourge of Progressivism and roll back 100 years of socialistic policies which are dooming America's leadership in the world as a Free and Secure society.

      Please, Please, THROW THE BUMS OUT in 2012! Forest Wilson.

    5. George - an American says:

      I am no expert, but it seems to me that the drop in defense spending as a percentage of GDP may not be a bad thing. Since Eisenhower's time, technology has made giant advances. In this age of high tech satellites, computers and other technologies being applied to our national defense, our Government has been able to operate at a much higher (and more economical) efficiency. It is no longer necessary to maintain as many military installations, aircraft and ships. Soldiers are much more productive in their individual roles due to technology, and there are countless other efficiencies in our modern military, unknown to most laymen, that I believe enables the US military to still provide the best defense possible at a lower percentage of our GDP.

    6. Mary............WI says:

      But Obama and his administrastion WANT to take the USA backwords….they're running this country to the ground like you would an old car. They want to spend MORE money on entitlement programs….it makes people submissive to the government. Sad part is people have become too dependent on government for their every need….even happiness.

      I'm all for beefing up our defense budget with new equipment given the hostility toward this country from all directions.

      Conservatives need to speak over the loud, whiny rhetoric spewing from the left. When the Sunday morning political shows feature someone from the left and right the left never lets the right complete a sentence because of their rambling on and on. Speak over it! The defense of this country is the duty of the government…we need to defend oursleves and give our troops the necessary equipment when in combat.

    7. Ken Jarvis - Las Veg says:

      1-14-11- FROM – Ken Jarvis – LVKen7@Gmail.com

      Brandon Stewart on January 13th, 2011 at 10:34am said:

      Ken: It’s hard to believe you read today’s Morning Bell and missed the many references to cuts/reforms that must be made, the link to a paper with over $343 Billion in specific cuts, or any of the countless other blogs that we have published here on the Foundry on entitlement reform (many of which you have a probably commented upon

      To Brandon:

      Thanks I missed the paper.

      I will look at it later.

      LOOKS GOOD.

      ===

      B. Hall Syosset N.Y. on January 13th, 2011 at 11:32am said:

      This is for Ken Jarvis. Some suggestions on what to cut. These are in no specific order. The DOE {dept of education} School scores have fallen since it was instuted. All Federal employees a 25 % pay cut. All Congressmen A 25% cut in pay. It’s called public service not public enrichment Both Freddie and Fanny should be run like a business not a slush fund. At least 50% of the socalled Czars and their staff should be fired. Obamacare repealed. Federal employees union pensions cut by 25%. Repeal the 16 th amendment and replace it with a fair tax or flat tax and fire al least 50% of IRS staff.. Have all so called earmarks be subject to congressional up or down votes. These are just a few suggestions. By the way I do not include the Millitary in federal pay cuts,they should fet pay raises for their service.

      To – B. Hall

      YOU have some Really GOOD Points

      Do us a favor,

      MY email is – LVKen7@Gmail.com

      I would like to DISCUSS more with you.

      Thanks and send me an email.

      ===

      Leon Lundquist, Durango CO on January 13th, 2011 at 3:21pm said:

      Is this the same $300+ billion Michelle Bachman mentioned? I remember when these so called “debt ceilings” began and the pain was automatic then, cross the board cuts for every Department. I read your cuts under the blue ‘here’ button (No, Ken the troll, it isn’t true HF never says how!)

      To: Leon – Troll?

      Me?

      WHAT is a Troll?

      HF provides NO place to DISCUSS issues,

      so I use this – My Email is LVKen7@Gmail.com

      use it for Discussion.

      Thanks

      ===

      Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI on November 4th, 2010 at 2:58pm said:

      Ken – define wealthy.

      *** Obama defined it as – earning over $250,000 a year.

      ===

    8. Ed Brown - Louisvill says:

      Individualism, as opposed to Collectivism, is the concept that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals. It goes without saying that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. These values, rights, and duties are part of man’s soul at the time of his creation.

      The disappearance of individual freedoms will happen when collective, fanatical views, from either side of the conflict captures a nation and promotes tyranny.

    9. Doug Whaley, Lake Ha says:

      All very well and good. However, realistically with so many RINOs in the Republican party and the senate controlled by liberals and Obama in the white house the very best we can hope for is girdlock. Right now gridlock looks like a very good thing. At best no more damage would be done to the country as it wastes away in a sea of debt and becomes more of a paper tiger than it already is.

    10. R Johnson KY says:

      Could agree somewhat, yet much of Founders' comments refer to virtue and morality based on a Biblical Providential God being the foundation of our thot and way of government and life.

    11. Jane Trawick, Skippe says:

      Social Security – Comments about SSI are centered on the entry of "boomers" to the program. Boomers have contributed to the fund and now due to retirement are eligible for benefits. What about the rapidly growing "disability" folks? They enter the system with trunicated contributions, at best, to no contribution and draw benefits longer than many of the boomers ever will. Some are also added to Medicare roles.

      As we look at SSIMedicare changes, we should include all benefactors, not just the boomers.

      Blessings, Jane Trawick

    12. Mary of New York Cit says:

      Doug, you said it all. Pray for gridlock.

    13. toledofan says:

      It's all about leadership and having people who care about America rather than just themselves or a political party. The days of reaching across the aisle and trying to get both sides to agree maybe the politics of the past because the ideology of the Democratic party, today, has swung so far to the left, they are hellbent on destroying America as it is and replacing the Constitution with something they don't even know what it is or would be. The examples of the past 3 years, with the Democrats in control of Washington, has been clear indicating everyday, even with the tradegy in Arizona, that's it's really not about America, but, it's all about their retaining their power. It's going to take some time and heartburn for the system to purge itself, we just hope we're strong enough to see it through.

    14. Joyce Daniel Grants says:

      Let the newly elected members of the house of represenitives.know we the people don't want the "go along to get along" but stick by their promice to defend the Constitution and not give up.

      It will be tough stand your ground but "WE WON" now believe it and act accordingly.

    15. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      Social Security and Medicare are an entitlement programs for those who have not paid into it. For me, it is a bad retirement and medical program of which I have no choice. I have been paying into it since I received my first pay check decades ago and must rely on "the government" to make good on its promises. The last time I looked the unfunded liablities for SS and Medicare is $112 trillion dollars. The chances of it becoming solvent are slim and none.

      Ike was right.

    16. Gary in El Paso says:

      I am a little sensitive to Social Security being called an entitlement unless you are talking about being entitled to getting back the investment that my employer and I have been paying to the government for the last 40+ years. If that is the definition then I agree with the term. If you are talking about paying SS to those that have not paid anything into the fund but will be able to draw funds out of the SS fund, then yes, that is an entitlement. So, if the former, I feel like it is something I payed for and should be compensated in return, which is more or a committment the government gave me when I started paying into the system, not an entitlement. No one asked me if it were OK to move my money into the general fund when LBJ decided to do so to fund the Great Society. However, I do expect our government to uphold their committment. They caused this problem, let them fix it and quit telling us that it's our problem. And if they won't, vote in someone who is willing to.

    17. Curt Krehbiel, Midla says:

      I fully agree with Mr. Whaley above and can only add that destroying the U.S. economy was a goal predictable as early as 2008. There ARE those who do not approve of the U.S. being a world power.

    18. William Downey, Worc says:

      We are already seeing the results of the prevailing theory that the United States should not be the world leader. Our national security is threatended by the development of nuclear capabilites and delivery systems in North Korea and probably Iran. Recently, the Chinese revealed stealth technology in its air force, and is believed to have land based ship killing missel capabilty. This capability puts our personnel in jeopardy and restricts our capability to respond to military crises.

      Yet, we continue to downgrade our defense spending. Historically, the development of defense technology spins off industrial development, jobs and revenues. While there is ample room to cut wasteful spendng on all levels of the federal government, including defense, we cannot afford to "over reduce" defense spending in favor of entitlement spending.

    19. Wayne, Louisiana says:

      The military is also overspending.

    20. Pingback: Tweets that mention Morning Bell: Economic Freedom Is Foundation Of All Other Freedoms | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    21. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      If you don't have economic freedom, forget the rest.

    22. Erik, Utah says:

      As this Country continues to fall away from our heritage and ideals. We The People are it's only hope. If We are to succeed, We must stop these ignorant, Godless individuals in their tracks. There is no other way. If our revolution becomes stagnant, docile and or completely submissive, We loose and so does our children. But, most importantly our country looses. And as i see it, this country was set-apart for us. God has a purpose for us on this blessed land. REVOLT is necessary at times. I am not against physical revolt against this Nations leaders. But, only after all else fails and our liberty is on the alter. At this time all else seems to be failing and liberty is on the alter. Pray for our beautiful country. Please do so w/tenderness and humility. If the over-throw must come, We will all know it and the men that lead it will be of the out-most respected and humbly God-fearing in nature. I completely agree that our system is the best in this world. There has just been moments in our history where we have decided to trust our Government and allow them to lead us. If we can't vote them out we must, and i emphasize MUST overthrow them. They go around our beautiful system of government and destroy our freedoms through deciet and selfish intent. I even as i type these radical, devilish crooks are re-painting our childrens place of security. They are destroying America and all her beautiful ways. "It Is Our Right, It Is Our Duty….." We must prepare now. Sincerely, Erik John Bettis- Active Constitutionalist in the Great, Great United States of America.

    23. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      Thanks Ken Jarvis – is that $250,000 gross income, adjusted gross income or after tax income? Is it based on Schedule C income or W-2s?

    24. John Olofson, Graeag says:

      If my memory serves me, the Congressional Republicans are talking about cutting the budget by $100,000,000 (one hundred million). If what I read is accurate, the 2011 budget is $3,830,000,000,000 (three trillion, eight hundred and thirty billion). If congress cuts the budget by $100,000,000 that would be about 2.6 ten thousandths of one percent. If congress cuts the budget by 1%, that would be $383,000,000,000 (billion; not million). Surely we could cut the budget by 1% and survive! NOTE: If I'm off somewhere with my decimal point(s) it doesn't matter much; $100,000,000 is chicken feed compared to three trillion dollars.

    25. Bobbie says:

      Turner, isn't revelation referring to the EVIL rich man? The one who pretends to be God's servant but is truly money's slave? There are those who give generously who are rich, did the bible refer to those as well? Or is it really the coming times that if mankind used wiser his or her freedom of choices wouldn't have to come to be at this time?

      "religious freedom" isn't the foundation. Technically, rich or poor, it's faith in God.

      God has blessed mankind the ability to prosper. Now it's become the choice of mankind to destroy that ability. Doesn't have to be but it's being driven by man's own free will… President Obama.

      You can use your free will to share your wealth with those who are without AND without the instruction of government, who is not God. .

      All of mankind have free will from God!

    26. Denise, Utah says:

      I think it was Alan Greenspan who said that the U.S. Government can pay out for entitlement programs forever. The Federal Reserve just can't guarantee the value of that entitlement money. I would behoove everyone to buy gold and especially silver immediately!!

    27. Robert R. Reynolds, says:

      It is my understanding that Social Security, is more of a Ponzi Scheme,than an entitlement because we workers put our own money into it as long as we were gainfully occupied until age 70. I was still working as a consultant (geology)) at that time.and resent politicians taking money from it to pay for their "Ear Marks."

    28. Yellowbird says:

      Would be great to have Erik leading our country instead of the corrupt failure We are strapped with thru 2012.

    29. Ken Feerguson, Venit says:

      From the Pen of Thomas Jerrerson

      (1) Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

      (2) I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.

      (3) My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.

      (4) The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tysranny in government.

      (5) I beleive that banking institutions are MORE DANGEROUS TO OUR LIBERTIES than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks will deprive the people of all property-until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.

      ThomsonJefferson How did he know?

    30. Mike Smith, Kansas says:

      There was an important element to the Farewell Address that is often overlooked: http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/2011/01

    31. Kris Van Liew says:

      I concur with your conclusion of "economic freedom" being "fundamental to American security." In order to be secure, we, as nation or individual, must not be beholden to another, but rather economically independent and self supporting. National and individual enterprise establish our independence and sustenance. However, I believe your title, "Economic Freedom is Foundation Of All Other Freedoms", is off the mark. Freedoms/Liberties of every external kind (e.g. economic, religious, political) are founded upon liberties granted by our Creator alone, internal liberties: liberty of conscience and spiritual liberty. With these internal liberties comes the individual right and responsibility to make choices regarding the necessary and the comfortable as I see fit, without detriment to or dictate from another. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty", and His liberty/freedom is the foundation of all others.

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