What’s a Big Government?

By James Kwak

One thing that all parties seem to be able to agree on is that big government is bad. It was President Clinton, after all, who said, “The era of big government is over.” And the current Republican budget-slashing wave seems motivated by the idea that our government is too big.

But what is the size of government, anyway?* When a typical anti-government person thinks of government, she probably has in mind the EPA, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the “jack-booted government thugs” at the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, OSHA, and all those government agencies that prevent businesses and individuals from getting on with their lives. The idea here is that government intervention in the free market makes the economy less efficient and therefore reduces aggregate societal welfare.

Another big part of the government is defense spending. President Reagan, the patron saint of “small government,” wanted to roll back the regulatory state, but he very emphatically wanted more defense spending in order to “fight” the Cold War. Traditionally, conservatives have exempted defense spending from their budget-cutting axes, although to their credit some (though not Paul Ryan) have recently come around to the view that reducing the deficit will require cuts in defense as well.

Then there are entitlement programs, which are mainly composed of Social Security and health care (primarily Medicare and Medicaid). Social Security is unequivocally a government program (so is Medicare, “keep your government hands off my Medicare” notwithstanding), but it isn’t government in the same sense as the EPA. Social Security is a mandatory retirement insurance program with a modest redistribution component, so it affects when people have cash and who has that cash, but it doesn’t otherwise change economic behavior.

So where am I going with this? First of all, when you look at the data, it’s not even clear that government has been getting bigger at all. This chart shows total government receipts and outlays for the past forty years and the next ten years. (All data are from the CBO’s most recent Budget and Economic Outlook.)

If you look at the red line, what you see is that “government” appears to be getting smaller in the 1980s and 1990s, then starts growing again in the first decade of the 2000s (by FY 2007 it’s already as large as it has been since FY 1994), spikes upward in FY 2009-2010 because of automatic stabilizers and (secondarily) the fiscal stimulus, and is projected to grow modestly after the stimulus subsides. So the “big government” story only makes sense, if at all, from FY 2002.

What’s happened since then? This chart shows discretionary spending divided into non-defense and defense spending.

On the defense side, what you see is the buildup of the Reagan years, the peace dividend of the 1990s, and, starting in FY 2002, the increase in spending for Afghanistan and Iraq. On the non-defense side, you see Reagan’s successful efforts to make government smaller, but since then non-defense discretionary spending has basically been constant, with bumps every time there is a recession.

For the period from 2001 to 2008, government in the EPA/ATF/OSHA sense barely budged. The vast majority of the total growth in outlays was due to increased defense spending (about 50 percent) and to Medicare (about 35 percent). The 2009-2010 spike in outlays was due partly to the stimulus, which erodes over time, partly to a big increase in defense spending, and mainly to increases in automatic stabilizers and Social Security (perhaps because of people exiting the workforce due to the recession).

When you look forward, the future growth of government outlays is entirely due to entitlements (and interest on the debt). Everything else that government does is getting smaller: in 2021, the CBO projects that defense spending will be at its lowest level since 2002 and non-defense discretionary spending will be at its lowest level in more than fifty years.**

So what can we conclude from this?

First, if you think of government as regulation of people’s ordinary lives, that government has been getting smaller since the 1980s and continues to get smaller. In that sense, Reagan won, and conservatives who continue to complain about big government don’t realize that they won already.

Second, if your conception of government includes national security, then you probably don’t have too much to complain about. We spent a lot in the 1980s; spent a lot less in the 1990s after winning the Cold War; and spent more in the past decade for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I personally don’t think that we should have invaded Iraq, but if you take that as given (and that was very much the doing of Bush II and Cheney), then the increased spending has been justified.

So the only sense in which we have “big government” that has been getting bigger is entitlements. And the key question here is: should increased entitlement spending count as bigger government? Here I say: not really. Obviously entitlements like Social Security are government programs, and Medicare is more intrusive into the private sector than Social Security. But if we accept Social Security and Medicare at some size, is the fact that their outlays are growing evidence that the government is getting bigger in any meaningful sense?

For Social Security, the answer is clearly no. Social Security’s outlays to the individual beneficiary have remained constant, and so the amount by which those outlays or the promise of those outlays changes peoples’ and firms’ behavior is constant. The implications of a potential payroll tax increase are more complicated, but since those taxes haven’t increased in decades, it’s hard to say that government has been getting bigger because of payroll tax increases.

Medicare is also more complicated, but the basic principle is simple. Say in year 0 health care costs $100. In year 1 health care costs $110 (assume zero inflation). If Medicare outlays are 10 percent higher in year 1, is that bigger government? The first-order answer is no, because Medicare is buying the same amount of health care it was in year 0; so if we as a nation decided that Medicare was buying the appropriate amount of health care, then it is still buying the appropriate amount of health care. When you dig a little deeper things get more complicated because there should be some price elasticity of demand for health care, so if prices go up by 10 percent we as a society probably want to buy a little less than 10 percent more health care — maybe 8 percent more, since health care is pretty inelastic. So the point there is that Medicare should evolve toward better cost containment, which is basically the philosophy behind part of the Affordable Care Act.

Now, none of this is to deny that there is a problem out there somewhere in the future, since entitlement spending is currently projected to grow faster than revenues . . . forever. But the reason for that has nothing to do with “big government” in the classical right-wing sense of government bureaucrats telling freedom-loving Americans what to do. There are two basic reasons. First, our population is getting older, and we decided decades ago to create certain programs to help old people. Second, health care costs are going up rapidly. (And five minutes of comparative research will tell you that the best way to control health care costs is more government, in the form of a national health insurance program. The problem we have here is that the private sector determines the cost of health care but the national government is committed to buy a certain amount of it).

Of course, conservatives are jumping on the projected entitlement deficits to demand further cuts in the part of government they hate, mainly discretionary non-defense spending. But that “solution” has nothing to do with the problem we face.

* This post is vaguely motivated by the book I’m currently reading: The Age of Deficits: Presidents and Unbalanced Budgets from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush, by Iwan Morgan. It goes into detail on all of the major budget negotiations of the past thirty-five years. (One reason I’ve been blogging less is that I’m trying to read more and write less.)

** I know there are problems with the CBO’s baseline projection (the CBO knows it, too), but those problems are much bigger in areas other than discretionary spending. The big whoppers in the baseline are things like letting tax cuts expire, not patching the AMT, and not passing an annual fix to Medicare payment schedules.

35 responses to “What’s a Big Government?

  1. This all assumes GDP measures something real and not just fictions like (e.g.) “financial innovation”. (In absolute numbers, government has of course grown massively, as it always does.)

    What then happens if GDP contracts, because (e.g.) reality decides to make an appearance? Tax receipts will go down, obviously, but government outlays will… ?

    It’s a good thing GDP only measures the production of real wealth, or we might be headed for a serious problem somewhere down the line.

  2. The “Big Government” we currently have is what James K Galbraith warns in the form an emboldend Predator State.

    The state as monopoly collector of taxes and corrupt distributor of the spoils to the private sector. This is not the free market vision of Adam Smith, but a parasitic Crony Capitalism writ large.

    “What did the new class… set out to do in political terms? The experience of the past decade permits a very simple summary explanation: they set out to take over the state and to run it — not for any ideological project but simply in the way that would bring to them, individually and as a group, the most money, the least disturbed power, and the greatest chance of rescue should something go wrong. That is, they set out to prey on the existing institutions of the American regulatory and welfare system.”

  3. I find it odd that you would exempt Medicare and Medicaid as “regulation of people’s ordinary lives.” Both programs provide in exhaustive detail what choices their beneficiaries may make. And to the extent that they crowd out private solutions, they reduce choice.

    To make a larger point, your straw man definition of “big government” creates an artificial distinction between taxes and other government mandates. Surely you must acknowledge that it is intruding into a person’s life to command them to provide X dollars to the U.S. Treasury, regardless of if you think the intrusion is justified. Since tax increases are the inevitable result of increased spending, increasing spending on Medicare and SS is an increase in the amount which government intrudes into people’s lives.

  4. I think you make an error when you say that if Medicare expenses increase from $100 to $110 (assuming zero inflation) that we are spending the same amount on Medicare. In fact, we are spending 10% more. Your assumption of zero inflation means that we are actually buying more healthcare in year 1 than we did in year 0. Now, you may ask if we are getting better outcomes for that extra spending, but it is extra spending nonetheless.

    Healthcare costs are rising faster than real GDP because we are buying more “healthcare,” whatever that is. The fact that we’re not getting more for it, doesn’t mean that we are spending the same amount. We spend more because we buy more and fancier tests and drugs. The problem is that we don’t really know what works and we as consumers are not the ones paying the price because we are covered by insurance.

    The only workable solution to reduce costs seems to be to have universal coverage in a single payer program in which some entity is trying to figure out what kinds of treatment are cost effective.

  5. Nicholas Mycroft

    Thanks for this. Practically 0% of U.S. citizens know that government as commonly conceived has not grown since Nixon. Have fun with the libertarians….

  6. @Holmes IV: “And to the extent that they crowd out private solutions, they reduce choice.”

    Do the insurers in libertarian-fantasy-land use unicorns to deliver their billing statements? Because clearly you’re not living in the same reality as the rest of us – the only “private solution” I can imagine for Medicaid ends up with Soylent Green…

  7. I’m no Tea Partier, but if you think that outlays for regulation directly reflect the amount increase or decrease in regulation that has occurred over the past 40 years, then you haven’t book looking at the historical code of federal regulations. Please map that increase onto those graphs, and think about it again.

  8. Are u sure our republican friends aren’t using “cut govt spending” meaning non-entitlement, as code words to cut entitlements? My guess is that they say such things to rally ppl to their policies only to secretly plan on destroying entitlements once they are given the power. Then when ppl look back and say “we didn’t want that” by then its too late and no going back.

  9. Since tax increases are the inevitable result of increased spending, increasing spending on Medicare and SS is an increase in the amount which government intrudes into people’s lives.

    Holmes,
    With due respect, this is not true. We have been running deficits fro a decade now precisely because our national political will has led to increases in spending for a variety of defense actions and other federal programs (Many instituted by the supposedly big-government hating Republican party) while we have been actively cutting taxes for many individuals and corporate interests. So recent history shows your point to false.

    Moreover, the single largest increase in Medicare spending in the last 40 years resulted from a Republican authored and signed prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries (an increase in spending) that was offset by a tax cut (a loss of revenue) and hamstrung by a proscription against bargaining for the lowest price (a regulatory intervention restricting choice). So I’d be wary if I were you of the small government types authoring so-called solutions for these increases in government outlays – they are likely the culprits as well.

  10. Your comments about the thinking of people who complain about the size of government are so bland as to be ridiculous.

    “The idea here is that government intervention in the free market makes the economy less efficient and therefore reduces aggregate societal welfare.”

    Private interests may hire economists to make efficiency arguments, but private interests want regulation eased so they can be less careful about their own activities, and enrich themselves with less effort. That’s not a a wooly-headed greeny view. That’s pretty much what Smith had to say, and is pretty much what business folk say, when asked. Selfishness is the motive, not “aggregate societal welfare”.

    “In that sense, Reagan won, and conservatives who continue to complain about big government don’t realize that they won already.”

    Don’t realize they’ve won? Another perfectly reasonable view would be that they see that their methods have worked so far in reducing intrusions of government into their money-making efforts, so continue applying those methods. Your claim that they don’t know they’ve won substitutes stupidity for cupidity as an explaination. We are talking mostly about people who are successful in getting the policies they want and successful in enriching themselves. You think stupidity is the more likely answer?

    The story you are telling is a good one, and one that more people need to hear. Shoving a bunch of play-nice jibberish into it to avoid calling a spade a spade doesn’t make the story better. It just makes it full of jibberish.

  11. My suggestion for this situation are:

    1. Transfer all the assets of Medicare and Medicaid to one new corporation (Limited Liability) wholly owned by the American People but seprate from Govt.
    2. New organization is set up for limited profit motive like utilities
    3. American people will be default customer of the new insurance company unless they decide to drop the plan.
    3.a Customer who drops from the plan will be paid in accordance to benchmark GDP growth after deducting expenses (expenses same as of the insurance companies work)
    3.b Customer who wish to join the plan have to join the plan before age of 40. And all the terms and conditions applies at that time as of any major private insurance company.
    4. Benefits will be regulated as by any other major private insurance company.
    5. Company will have same benchmark as of private insurance companies in term of ratings and insurance ratios.
    6. Department of Justice will not be against the company for monopoly if private parties don’t compete with them.

    If this process is implemented in right way this will reduce govt. liability at the same time the right wing conservatives.

  12. There are some valid theoretical objections to JK’s argument. Taxes are an intrusion, the same as regulation. However, those making the “taxes are intrusion” argument need also to show that taxes have gone up. They have not. Revenue as a share of GDP and tax rates have been headed down, not up, in recent decades. There is no sense in which government intrusion has increased through federal taxation in recent decades.

    JK did leave himself open to criticism by defining medical services in terms of the service provided, rather than the money spent. Those who claim that money spent is the right definition, though, are similarly open to criticism. It is not one or the other. Pretending that dollars spent (or taxed) is the only relevant measure doesn’t make it so.

  13. SamsontheCat

    Since tax increases are the inevitable result of increased spending, increasing spending on Medicare and SS is an increase in the amount which government intrudes into people’s lives.

    Holmes,
    With due respect, this is not true. We have been running deficits fro a decade now precisely because our national political will has led to increases in spending for a variety of defense actions and other federal programs (Many instituted by the supposedly big-government hating Republican party) while we have been actively cutting taxes for many individuals and corporate interests. So recent history shows your point to false.

    You clearly do not own a credit card (or should not be trusted with one). What happens when you run a deficit, buying more than you have in your bank account to pay for? You incur debt…which you eventually have to pay back. Now for you that means you have to work and sell your labor and the fruits of your labor somehow pay off that debt. For a company that means they have to raise prices or cut costs or sell more product or sell stock. Government has limited recourse there. Yes they could sell off gov. property or fire workers or charge to see a national park. But the easiest way is to tax (aside from just borrowing more money from country A to pay off their debts to country B) so Holmes has a point that increased spending when there isn’t a surplus will lead to more intrusion through taxes. At some point the deficit and debt become too large to pay off even with all of the gov. property and holdings.

  14. What is the the problem “out there in the future?” Not the ability to pay interest on bonds or finance government spending. The bond market not wanting to buy U.S. securities, so? It is a free lunch that is never included in the explanations of a big government. I’m not thinking any trader is going to opt not to take the guaranteed return on Treasury securities. The problem in the future is that medical services are being priced out of the average person’s reach. The insurance companies have served their usefulness. A single payer solution will remove that cost. They can provide administrative services if they like. If they won’t, some other business will. Then we can lower the costs by removing scarcity issues.

    If it was useful to subsidize bond traders at some point in our history, perhaps it is now time to subsidize medical education and services delivery. More doctors and nurses will reduce the cost of delivery. If the average salary becomes 250K with no school debt instead of 350K with debt, that is ok.

    If the millionaire doctors want more money, they can invent a new business with their entrepreneurial creativity. Not my problem. Providing medical services and education is a real need instead of an artificial “need” like insurance companies.

  15. I’m really tired of essential programs that support ordinary American citizens being called “entitlements.”

    Clearly, it is the bankers, the corporate big-wigs, the subsidized big businesses, the captured regulators, the captured academics, the corrupt elected officials, the military-industrial complex and the entire apparatus of the elite ruling class who are “entitled” under our current system.

    They gorge themselves at the trough and push all the “little people” aside to scratch in the grass for insects and worms. Indeed, we have A Predator State.

  16. I am struck by “it affects when people have cash and who has that cash, but it doesn’t otherwise change economic behavior.” Is that not akin to saying “it affects when people have blood alcohol concentrations and who has those blood alcohol concentrations, but it doesn’t otherwise change party behavior.” Can someone reconcile this for me before I bother to attempt to make sense of the rest of the piece?

  17. Of course when they talk about “big government” they are talking about money and not actual governmental intrusion into their lives. It’s all about money and it’s a straw argument. Certainly the governement can’t as currently structured, pay for the retirement promises of the baby boomer generation without eventually being rebuffed by the bond market. You could even argue there isn’t enough investment cash in the world to finance that future debt even if everyone with spare dollars wanted to purchase it. But they also know that in an “emergency” situation the only quick way to inject more funds into the government is through a dramatic tax increase, and to be affective and somewhat popular that increase will have to be focused on the richest among us. So, they pretend government is getting “bigger” rather than the baby boom generation reaching retirement, which we’ve known was coming for 50 years, so they can deeply cut these programs now and not pay higher taxes later when the public will absolutely demand it. If the GOP was smart, they would compromise on a 2 for one, or 3 for one cut to tax increase deal now, because if nothing is done, it will be a 1 for 10 panic move in the future.

  18. “What’s a Big Government ?”

    Here is a somewhat boring background on our political systems evolution, and how we subsequently got where we are today. Ironically neither political party is at fault?
    Our first two [2] presidents were of the “Federalist Party” (pro-administration; pro-nationalism; pro-industrialization)
    The next four [4] presidents were “Democratic-Republican Party” {pro-progressivism; pro-conservatism respectfully}
    Followed by two [2] presidents of the “Democratic Party” {pro-progressivism; Jacksonian Democracy*)

    Interestingly the next five {[5 Total][4 Whigs split by one Dem']} presidents are in numerical order: two [2] “Whig Party” **{Note: The Whig Party was formed in direct opposition to the policies of Andrew Jackson and his democratic party. The Whigs supported the supremacy of a Congress over the Presidency {Classical Liberalism} and favored a program of “Modernization and Economic Protectionism”. Daniel Webster, Zachary Taylor, and others were staunch supporters…not to overlook Abraham Lincoln who just so happened to be the chief Whig leader in what was then called the “Frontier Illinois”}. Next we a get a brief “Democratic Party” interruption by a one [1] term president, followed by the remaining two [2] final Whig Party presidents. Interesting times as all past and present American politics unfold [?]?
    What follows are two [2] “Democratic Presidents”, and the one time anomaly of a “Democratic-Union President” (Lincoln’s predecessor).
    What happens next is a deluge of four [4] “Republican Presidents” (this was indeed a conservative party wind-fall period via economic liberalism}.
    I’ll move along a bit faster with rapid fire in presidential succession; Democrat; GOP; Democrat; *three [3] GOP*; Democrat; *three [3] GOP*; two [2] Democrats; GOP; two [2] Democrats; two [2] GOP; Democrat; two [2] GOP; democrat; GOP; Democrat.

    Total Forty-Four [44] Presidents
    Two Federalist; Four Democratic-Republican; Four Whigs; One Democratic-Union; Fifteen Democrats; Eighteen Republicans

    Basically our country has always been infighting when it comes down too ideology and philosophies. What has happened in the last “Fifty-Years +/+” since the “Nuclear Family Advent” is that the world is now perfectly flat. Like it or not it’s a global economy, and always was…dating back to the Roman Empire. Just take a Loadstone, and throw where you will, and sure enough, the economic compass that follows, will center on an “Emerging Market Axis?

    Our country is now a 30%-40% service industry orientated. Manufacturing is gone other than our Aerospace Manufacturing which is downsizing precipitously as they have sold their souls to the Chinese through reverse engineering accountable for about 30%. Tourism is accountable for 20% (Gambling Industry has been captured by the Asian’s). What’s left is our Military Complex Machine, and WMD’s, with finite Energy Breakthroughs being sold of to the European’s, and Asians?
    Sad, isn’t it? Why, or how could this have happened so suddenly. It’s not sad, nor is it sudden…it’s just that the world is changing, and we refuse to change with it, period!
    Social Security can be fix overnight by upping the age of retirement to…lets say “Sixty-Eight”?
    The HealthCare mess /debacle could be rectified by simply going with a “Single Payer HealthCare Agenda”…not this intransigent ObamaCare, or RomneyCare1 JMHO

    Thankyou, James and Simon

  19. There are some things that government can do better and we’d be remiss in taking those things for granted. Adam Smith said that government must provide goods and services that no one can provide for themselves alone or are not inclined to provide for others than themselves. Schools, roads, health care for all, national secuirty and the like are best provided by government and paid for by all. That means taxes. Taxes are necessary and they are constitutional.
    Over the years of listening to Republicans (wealthy) scream about taxes I’ve learned 3 things. 1) They can’t stand the thought that the poor in particular and especially the middle class can afford to buy nearly anything they can buy like cars, TV’s radios, an occassonal vacation. 2) They expect a free lunch. They feel they shouldn’t have to pay for anything they have to share with the rest of us like roads, education, etc. 3) They expect the poor and middle class to support them by paying taxes while struggling to pay for privatized roads, schools, and to provide fodder for wars they want to wage.
    I can’t listen to Republicans any more. They tell Americans they are bad, lazy people who want to live on the dole and that women are baby killers and if you can’t afford health care you need to die! If they think this poorly of Americans we’re in for a real treat if they are allowed to stay in power.
    I’m afraid to spend any money but if Republicans continue I won’t have any money at all. They don’t just hate taxes they hate anyone who’s not them.

  20. @rluser: “I am struck by “it affects when people have cash and who has that cash, but it doesn’t otherwise change economic behavior.” Is that not akin to saying “it affects when people have blood alcohol concentrations and who has those blood alcohol concentrations, but it doesn’t otherwise change party behavior.” Can someone reconcile this for me before I bother to attempt to make sense of the rest of the piece?”

    Sure. Just look at it this way: every major corporation in the country spends millions of dollars every year on lobbying and other methods of buying our “elected” “representatives” to ensure that $100s of billions of subsidies will flow their way.

    At the same time, those same business interests propagate through the media outlets they own, the MYTH that Social Security Insurance and Medicare Insurance benefits for which ordinary Americans have PAID over their working lifetimes are bankrupting the country.

    Wrong. It is the addiction to government largesse, and the ownership of the source of that largesse (the 3 branches of govt) by the corporatocracy, that caused the financial panic of 2008 and will cause the next cataclysmic crash.

    So when you worry about blood alcohol levels, please look to Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, Wal-Mart, the medical-industrial complex, the captured regulatory system, captured academia, and the governing elites.

    Main Street is not even on the radar.

  21. @ Carla: rock on, you said it right.

  22. Thanks very much, Woop.

  23. @Wanda

    In short, they are *predators* – a “wrecking crew” – and philosophically, Nihilism is their truth because they can keep proving how

    by watching (Patriot Act)

    every move the slave producer makes to accurately time their *privatization*…

    This is the Congo story – cell phone companies micro-managed their mining of “rare earth” minerals for cell phone by creating a local economy that fed the cash they paid the local workers back into booze and guns and other such necessities

    and when they left, the chosen locals with shiny new guns were in charge – right?

    So every year they chose a remote village living off their own ability to produce food, waited until all was harvested, and then ambushed the village, killed everyone who produced, and lived another year off someone else’s labor.

    True story – I’d say look it up but it’s been censored – after all, how could a cell phone be anything but *progress* to brag about…

    And if confronted with this *fact* about CONSISTENTLY doing business with the *strong men* wherever they go – well, we’d all know what knee-jerk default statements they’d spew about *the weak*…

    It appears the future depends on being gifted in the skills it takes to make sure that a really large group of people in a “bin” never succeed at owning a home, having health care, or being able to buy fuel for transport….the noveau riche of the 21st century

    Predatorism….feeling re-enchanted now that you know what Jesus meant by “love one another the way I loved you”…?

  24. Annie you are slipping once again, the knee jerk reaction only occurs with a collapsing economy, with a rising economy the effects are negated. So you assume an automatic “default” and anything less is deemed unacceptable in your world. And revenge must be the only alternative, at any cost, so at the same time you cry predator, you are one. There is a word for that and its called “HYPOCRISY”. Game over, no hard feelings of course.

  25. @owens

    see, you’re the stalker…and every sociopath uses psychobabble when they have no logic, ethics, history or rule of law to twist to defend their behaviour…

    am I not telling the TRUTH about the Congo and cell phones?

    is it not the TRUTH that Eric Prince is a hair on fire Evangelical? what’s he doing, making sure *prophecy* comes true with billions in profit for himself – for what? The world after it ends?

    And now locking up thieves and giving back to everyone what they stole is not rule of law but revenge…?

    Man, what the heck is in the millionth re-write of those *holy books*…?

  26. Owen Owens

    One mans ending is another mans beginning.

  27. @ Annie
    @ Owen Owen

    I’m sick and tired of your personal feuding on this wonderful blog (thread) and taking up valuable space espousing your childish rants, and gibberish!

    Yours truly…

  28. @earle

    How come you never advertise the recent history where GOOD comes in first?

    I suggest you watch the documentary “The Singing Revolution”….belief in any man made *ism* is a form of insanity.

  29. Owen Owens

    I agree and will stop, there is no hope for Annie or any of her rants, beliefs, or ideals. I won’t stoop to her level (sewer style) from this point on. And I didn’t like it anymore than you did, and my future spending will only make it worse (for her). But lets keep it civil between you and I though.

    //(*_*)\\

  30. At this point in the snarling from the Cult of Contempt, it needs to be repeated

    that, I, Annie, have no clue who this internet persona IS – latest incarnation is “Owen Owens” – as IF he’s a Brit – ROTFL…

    I have never met the person, I have no idea what he is talking about at least 99% of the time

    And here we are – the dude is out in the open with plans to “make it worse for her”….

    I welcome another professional’s opinion – CBS from the West…? Any idea what the dude’s *problem* is..?

    We all know how much people like to get “free advice” :-)) Let’s *share* a psychological analysis of “Owen Owens AKA Herbert Wetherby, AKA…?

    Remember, I never met the man (assuming, but who knows?) – and yet he is pretending he is SO FAMILIAR with me….creepy crap, eh?

    And Carla’s personal outburst was also *strange* – they’re OBVIOUSLY filtering everything and everyone through a very narrow lens of of more for ME ME ME plots…

    Fair warning, though, since it’s becoming real plain to see how CORRUPT *religion* has become – this malevolent spirit stalking me on the internet attached himself to me right around the time I made the FATAL financial error of chatting with people on the internet forums about The Urantia Book…please, no one else make that mistake – seriously! Read the book and don’t let anyone *know* you’ve read it – or not – seriously, I don’t care, just *sharing* info about reading material…

    The reason MOST people did not know what the hell the mathematicians who *programmed* the black hole into the global economy via Wall Street *derivatives* were talking about was because NONE of their math is based on real reality – they’ve misinterpreted – COMPLETELY – what they read….

  31. @Owens

    because you have PERSONALLY threatened me, I’m calling in one of my favors from someone who can track you down – enoughs enough…

    cut and pasted…”And I didn’t like it anymore than you did, and my future spending will only make it worse (for her).”

  32. You see Earle, whem turbo Timmy says we need to do this or we need to do that because the “full faith and credit of the US Gvt is at risk” I consider burning him at the stake, and would rather take my aggressions out on sewer mouth. Because the persons at the helm of that phrase, have that exact frame of mind as miss sewer mouth, and we both know that leads to no where. Now should Timmy or anyone cross over the administrative line, well, they run the risk of actually being burned at the stake, or gettin mooned by me.

  33. Annie,

    unlike you, I have a lived and worked in Eastern Congo, in Kivu, Kisingani and Shabunda, and your theory of cause and effect is fantastical nonsense. Congo is a complete mess, and outsiders are complicit in the gears and engines that drive that mess. BUT!!!! nothing is more annoying and more condescending than the insistence that you westerners are cause and effect in our problems. Annie, whether you existed, your country, your European brethren, or Chinese manufacturers, would be immaterial to the underlying dynamics that fuel conflict in Congo. This will be a massive blow to your ego, as it is evident you need desperately to posses a special insight into the world held by a very narrow and wise micro group of people…But here it is, You and your fellow westerners are neither cause nor solution our problems. And never will….Africa

  34. STOP CALLING SOCIAL SECURITY AND ENTITLEMENT PROGRAM.

    It’s an INSURANCE program, and those of us who have been paying in since 1984 HAVE PREPAID OUR BENEFITS.

    It’s non-discretionary, but it is NOT AN ENTITLEMENT in the same way as welfare.

    Carolyn Kay
    MakeThemAccountable.com

  35. @Nyongesa

    ” BUT!!!! nothing is more annoying and more condescending than the insistence that you westerners are cause and effect in our problems.”

    That was not my point BUT!!!! thanks for providing more proof that everyone, in the pursuit of power and politics, can only see another through the filter of their own prejudices.

    I could not agree with you more that Africa should take care of itself and set the terms in its own way for how they want to trade, or not, with anyone else on the planet.

    I stick with criticizing my own, and they consistently sell weapons to whom they, with their own prejudices as deeply entrenched as yours, consider the “strong man”.

    So carry on, *Africa*….