The Best Quotes From Getting America Right By Edwin Feulner And Doug Wilson

From Getting America Right:

Since 1965, according to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the federal government has spent $321 billion on education, including a 90 percent increase since 1997, compared with a 40 percent rise in overall federal spending. Shouldn’t the logical result be all sorts of wonderful academic improvements in US schools? Sorry, it hasn’t worked out that way. Since 1995 test scores for American school children have fallen steadily behind those of students in Britain, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, and most other industrial nations. In 2003, for example, the United States ranked fourteenth out of thirty-five nations in the eighth-grade math testing. In other words, it looks as though education ranks among the black holes of Federal Spending. — P.22

Opinions differ on many of the complicated issues of the day, and a spirited debate in our political forums is a healthy expression of democratic process. Such debate is what allows opinions to change and consensus to form. But too frequently in recent years, the Court has stepped in and cut off this debate by imposing its personal moral judgments on the rest of the country. Did the framers really intend for a mere nine individuals to settle complicated moral questions? — P.31

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which has been called the nation’s report card, fewer than 25 percent of our high school seniors are proficient in math, science, or history. In an international comparison of students in twenty-one countries, US high school seniors ranked eighteenth in math and science literacy. Only about 70 percent of our high school students graduate in four years, and only a third of graduates have the minimum skills and knowledge needed to enroll in college. — P.46

When it comes to local highways, airports, poor people, and school children, the locals invariably know most and the feds know least. — P.52

As a nation, we have…created the most powerful government on earth. But, all too often, its seemingly benevolent programs succeed only in weakening people and condemning them to endless dependency. — P.61

To appreciate what’s at stake, you need to know that Social Security has lived on financial fantasies from birth. All the talk about a “trust fund” and a “lockbox” is fiction. The cash you pay in today doesn’t build up, awaiting your retirement tomorrow. Instead, it is used immediately to pay yesterday’s retirees; you will never see a penny of it. As Nobel Prize–winning MIT economist Paul Samuelson has noted, it is similar to the pyramid scheme created by the Boston con man Charles Ponzi in 1920, when he paid some suckers part of what he milked from others while keeping the difference. — P.77

As recently as 1980, there were four workers’ contributions to support every retiree. By 2030, there will be just two. Depending on who’s calculating, Social Security will start paying out more than it takes in around 2017 and will be flat out of reserves by 2041 — a slow motion train wreck happening while we watch. — P.78

Even if the Social Security system were fully solvent, there’s an added problem no one talks about. It is increasingly short changing its beneficiaries. When Social Security began, the payroll tax was just 2 percent of income. Now it’s 12.4%. Today, the average male worker about to retire will typically get just a 1.27 percent return on his lifetime of taxes — much less than he would get from a savings account. That’s bad enough, but the younger you are, the worse it gets. Twenty-five-year-old workers can expect a return of minus 0.64 percent — they actually lose money. — P.79

…(T)he four annual Clinton budget “surpluses” in the fiscal years 1998-2001, supposedly totaling 558.5 billion, were virtually all the result of raiding the Social Security surplus (to the tune of $557.1 billion). If, like any company in the nation, the government had to include known future liabilities in its bookkeeping, estimates indicate the national debt would be reckoned at an astronomical $72 trillion–an incomprehensible number that US comptroller David Walker calls “chilling.” — P.88

In 1982, Congress passed a highway bill containing 10 earmarks for pork-barrel goodies — 10 too many. By 2005, the number had somehow grown to more than 6300. –P.96

The Heritage Foundation’s budget expert, Brian Riedl, maintains that a real war on government waste could easily save $100 billion a year without denting legitimate benefits of government programs. — P.100

Buried in the Treasury Department’s 2003 Financial Report of the United States Government is a short section title. “Unreconciled Transactions Affecting the Change in Net Position.” It contains the rather stupefying information that some $24.5 billion vanished into thin air that year. The government knows it was spent by someone, somewhere, on something, but auditors do not know who spent it, where it was spent, or on what. — P.100

Throughout the government, waste is virtually assured by the overlapping of dozens of programs created over the years to address similar problems. There are, for example, no fewer than 342 separate economic development programs, 130 programs serving the disabled, 130 programs serving at-risk-youth, and 90 for early childhood development programs. Hundreds more overlap in other fields, from international trade agencies (17) to teen pregnancy programs (27). The duplication not only wastes time, talent, and money; it also creates a chaotically confusing jumble of standards, rules, and specialty subprograms for potential users to navigate. — P.105

In 2003, as we mentioned earlier, Congress passed the Medicare prescription drug entitlement. Accounting for an estimated $8.7 trillion of Medicare’s staggering seventy-five-year unfunded liability of $29.7 trillion, its costs have been blithely ignored; there is no plan for paying them. As Comptroller General David Walker put it, “There is no way we are going to deliver all the Medicare promises that have been made. No way.” — P.118

In our view, government regulation of business should always be effective yet minimal, and it should always err on the side of promoting prosperity for the whole economy and all of our citizens, not just a priveleged elite. — P.125

Free trade is an idea that goes back to Adam Smith, the founder of modern economics. It was Smith who first said, “If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it off them” — and pay for it with some good or service that we have the comparative advantage in turning out. — P.128

The link between economic freedom and prosperity is clear. The latest index found that the freest countries had per-capita income averaging $29,212, more than twice the average for “mostly free” nations ($12,839) and more than four times the per-capita income of “mostly unfree” countries. — P.138

For decades, the United States and many of our well-meaning international friends and allies have tried to help poor countries by showering them with cash to help grow their economies. It hasn’t worked. Between 1980 and 2003, we spent more than $116 billion for development projects in eighty-nine countries, half of them with per capita incomes below $765 a year. Of those countries, only thirty-two grew by more than 1 percent, and thirty-seven were worse off than when measuring started in 1980. Over the course of that twenty-three-year time frame, sub-Saharan Africa’s per capita income fell from $573 to $514 — a 10.3 percent drop. — P.139-140

At 35 percent, the US corporate tax rate is at least twice as high as the rates companies pay in Ireland, Chile, Hong Kong, and Iceland. Estonia has no corporate tax rate at all, and even Denmark, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand have lower corporate tax rates than we do. We must strive to match our competitors. — P.145

Twenty-four countries, including Canada, Australia, India, Mexico, China, Russia, and even Sweden, that poster child for the welfare state, have no death tax at all. And a recent study by the American Council on Capital Formation found that only two major nations have higher death-tax rates than the United States. — P.146

Several years ago, a GAO survey found that IRS employees gave incorrect tax advice half the time. — P.147

The Pentagon believes China may currently be spending up to $90 billion annually on its military, or three times the amount it officially acknowledges. China’s defense expenditures at much higher than Chinese officials have publicly admitted,” Rumsfeld told an Asian security conference in June 2005. “It is estimated that China’s is the third-largest military budget in the world, and now the largest in Asia…Since no nation threatens China, one wonders: “Why this growing investment?” — P.167

We didn’t lose in Vietnam because we were weak militarily: Before, during, and after the war, we could have won any set-piece battle. But we used our strength irresolutely, and our enemy did not have to win in order to triumph. He had only to avoid losing until we got tired and went home. — P.176

In Los Angeles in February 1998, a Gold Cup soccer game between Mexico and the United States brought our a fervent crowd of 91,255 fans, most of them Mexican immigrants. They waved Mexican flags, booed when “The Star Spangled Banner” was played, and pelted the American team “with debris and cups of what might have been water, beer, or worse.” When a few fans tried to raise an American flag, they were attacked with fruit and cups of beer. “Playing in Los Angeles is not a home game for the United States,” observed a Los Angeles Times Reporter. — P.198

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