Sunday, November 27, 2016
Remember the Stimulus!
By Stephen L. Wilmeth
What a week this has been.
The volume of exchanges from my source of news, the Hintervolks, has diminished. Most of that crew of Americans is now incredulous watching the marches, the rioting, and the meltdown of the angry American Left. It is actually pretty amazing what commercial spontaneity can do when the buses are lined up, the infrastructure is mobilized, and the professional protesters take to the streets. Even the chanting reminds you of the antics of the professional yell leaders of green mobs crowing for more of something free and supposedly natural.
“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”
“How bad do we want it?”
I spent too much of the last two days trying to stay warm (and cool), wiping my nose, coughing, and attempting to find a single entry of interest in my great grandmother’s diary. On that account I have been unsuccessful, but what a journey back in time it has been. It has reminded me that she was one of the most remarkable people of her time.
She was born in Texas and came west in 1884 walking alongside a wagon loaded with bare necessities, trailing ahead of a herd of cattle in order to have camp ready and meals prepared upon arrival of the cowboys and the herd at a nightly bedding ground, and arriving on the banks of Mogollon Creek with nothing other than God’s creation on all points of the compass. She was seven years old.
Ten years later in 1894 she was accepted into the first class of the New Mexico Normal School which would become New Mexico Teachers College which would eventually become Western New Mexico University. In 1897, she earned a teaching credential, and, perhaps, the first college degree in the history of her family. She never taught, but her surviving grandchildren universally remember her as teaching every day of her life. Her gifts were largely written words.
An entry in December 1954 noted she had written and sent 172 Christmas cards.
My uncle, Bill, who has been so instrumental in revealing so much of the nuances of her life aside from the diaries and my own brief memories of her, remembers spending much time with her after Grandpa Rice died in the ‘40s and awakening around the 3:00 AM witching hour and she would be sitting in her chair writing. Daybreak would put her in her garden or orchards weeding or irrigating and singing hymns to herself or whomever might be there alongside her.
I have a copy of a letter she wrote “to her grandchildren and to those yet unborn” of various events including the horrors of the Apache raids in 1885, her memory of the buffalo soldiers, the growth of the community at Cliff, and things most important to her. Through it all I am struck with the moderation of tone in all observations, the absence of malice regardless of circumstances, and the importance she built around family. Her home was a whirlwind of activity. In a one week period in 1951, I counted 13 different cooks who were party to meals prepared in her kitchen on the big wood burning stove that I can remember. Given names were the normal references with few exceptions. You had to know who she was talking about or you are lost in context. “The twins” were one of those exceptions and everybody who knows the family knows immediately who she referenced (was it because she couldn’t tell Jean and Janet apart?).
She was the family matriarch, but that became more important following Lee’s death. She kept tallies of cattle from sons and daughter coming and going. Cull cows and bulls going to market, and grain coming and or being dispensed from the granary. Her 1951 property and personal property taxes totaled $419.97, but that was only part of the business that day of diary entries. “Robert, Fayette, Blue, Joe and Donald worked cattle at the Rastus Place. All of them got wet. Donald, Robert, and Edwin worked Robert’s cows, Donald took Blue’s horse home, Billy fed the cows in field, Minnie brought one gallon and three quarts of milk”.
She got to see “Rolland and Billy’s FFA jackets” and “they are so nice”.
“In the evening it was still raining and Francis, Stella Mae, Doris, Pat, Fran, Ethel, Betty, Beth, David (joined the group for supper). We had fried chicken and Betty fixed the most beautiful flowers for the table. We all ate ice cream.”
She never drove and “traded Lee’s 1941 Dodge and $150 to boot for a 2½ ton bobtail truck for the ranch”. She worked on the (International Farmall) ‘M’ too many times and finally sent it to somebody in Hatch to overhaul.
Work was her passion, her pleasure, and her lifelong companion. “Work is a blessing” she wrote January 14, 1954. In two other places I found Kiplings’s Work is a Blessing in its entirety written in her diary. What she didn’t do was worship the monetary results of that work. She was never materialistic. What I have looked for in vain up to this hour was the entry I once found where she divulges she never owned a pair of silk stockings, had not been to a ball game in the gym (up to that time) that was built on lands her husband and she donated to the community scores of years earlier for the school, and never saw much of the world outside of the view of the horizons on her walk from Texas and the Gila Valley of New Mexico where she spent the remainder of her life.
Her discretionary spending was nearly zero.
What she left was a ranch for each of her four offspring, nearly universal respect from the community, and bills always paid in full and on time. She hated debt which probably limited the expanse of hills and canyon bottoms alike that once had PIT branded cattle.
All of America could do well by learning to emulate the life of Mary Belle Shelley Rice who we knew simply as … Ma.
This looming budget debate is going to be a donnybrook.
As you should know, there has been no federal budget since 2007. Federal law requires an annual budget, but nary a single one has been done for eight years and the fellow in the White House and both political parties should be marched to the woodshed as a consequence.
The law has been compromised.
This matter hasn’t been a point of discussion within the press. Rather, it is a matter coming to light and the attention of the emerging grass roots news services, the voices of the common people, the Hintervolk, through social media.
Let’s start by reviewing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The thrust of the act was to inject fiscal stimulus into the economy in order to avoid a meltdown. The stimulus was just short of one trillion dollars or $986B. That bump constituted a growth of about 20% in federal spending, and, of course, that spending went directly to the deficit. We were told that approximately 30% of the total was to be spent in 2009 and the remaining 70% in 2010.
The truth, though, now appears that the mother of all stimuli didn’t get spent in 2010. It has continued to be spent, and, in fact, has been replicated in each of the ensuing years when no federal budget was created or approved. In other words, the stimulus was not the purported $986B. Rather, it is the accumulation of a whopping $7.265T stimulus spanning eight years.
The avoidance of creating a budget, the complicity of all elected leadership, and the emergence of these dreadful continuing resolutions (CR) has allowed the duplication of previous year’s discretionary spending of nearly a trillion dollars to be placed in the hands of the president. This was done on the basis of baseline budgeting which, in the absence of a federal budget, simply rolls previous year expenditures forward with authorized multipliers.
The scheme worked.
In 2015 under Paul Ryan’s leadership, even the debt limit was removed so they would not have to go back through the process for approval of spending authority. There was reason why no budgeting was done and these CRs were approved. Money was being authorized by outright gimmick without open debate.
In order to try to verify this hypothesis being circulated through social media, I looked at the federal spending since 2007. I believe the numbers verify the assertion. At 2007 spending levels, the federal government was spending just over $2.7T annually. Without an approved budget since, the average annual expenditure over that baseline has averaged $897B.
There have been eight stimulus packages!
Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “There is more reason every day to install term limits on ALL of Washington.”