Israel/Palestine: The True Story, and Solutions

September 22, 2008

Step one: Who actually has a better claim to the land?

The Israelis are in Israel, where for some reason many people do not want them to be. Why is this so? It is necessary to remember that at this point in history there are only two groups of people who currently want the land. Because of this, the question becomes whose claim is stronger, the Israelis’ or the Palestinians’. The answer is the Israelis’. The Israelis are in Israel, where they transformed a useless area into the best desert agriculture in the world. No other civilization has a greater claim to this area. The Israelis’ holiest sites are there, but Islam, the religion of the Palestinians, has their most holy sites in Saudi Arabia. The Israelis are in Israel where no one else wanted to be, as demonstrated by the fact that practically no one wanted to keep their land when the Israelis asked to buy it. They are there on a plot of land smaller than some Texas ranches, where they created a hundred billion dollar economy, while constantly at war. Why should the Israelis have to move? They who have developed the land, they who have offered to share it, they who legally own it. Why should they move, when the only other people who want the land don’t even own it and never have? The answer is that they shouldn’t. The Israelis should own Israel, it is that simple.

Palestinians often imply that their civilization was flourishing before the Israelis destroyed it. Yet, in 1867, Mark Twain took a trip to the area now known as Israel and described the land as, “A desolate country whose soil is rich enough but is given over wholly to weeds. A silent, mournful expanse. We never saw a human being on the whole route. There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”

Too long ago? Perhaps the Palestinians developed the land later? In 1913 The Palestinian Royal Commission said about the land, “The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track, suitable for transport by camels or carts. No orange groves, orchards or vineyards were to be seen…. Houses were mud. Schools did not exist. The western part toward the sea was almost a desert. The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many villages were deserted by their inhabitants.” Does this seem as if the Palestinians were a thriving civilization?

Now, here’s a modern day description of Israel According to the Denmark Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “The high level of development within the agricultural sector is also the result of … farmers, scientists, extension advisers and agriculture-related industries. The famous Sheri tomato… is the result of an Israeli development… Research and development within the agricultural sector in Israel is highly stimulated by the lack for natural resources. Environmental concerns and availability and cost of human labor are also elements that call for development and new technology in Israel…. The development of greenhouse technology enable an average of 300 tons of tomatoes per hectare per season, four times the yields of open fields… Israel has the highest cotton yields per land unit in the world …[which is]drip irrigated with Israeli made equipment.” The land is no longer barren or desolate. These three examples demonstrate that the claim that Palestine was flourishing before the Israelis took over, is totally baseless.

Because of the dates from when the quotes were given, it is easy to see that the people living in modern day Israel before the Israelis were doing nothing to improve the cultivation. In effect, the people lived there for many years and did nothing then the Israelis came and produced an agricultural success, and suddenly the Palestinians demanded their land back. At the very least, from a fairness point, the Israelis don’t deserve to have their work and labor stolen from them. But the Palestinians argue that the Israelis stole the land in the first place, which is an unfounded claim.

Israel did not steal the land. The land was given to them by the British, bought, and slightly enlarged during defensive wars. Well what if the British stole the land? As this can go on for a while, here is a brief history of the region. First of all, if one goes strictly by “who was there first” it was the Canaanites, who, as shown by the archaeological evidence, no longer exist. After the Canaanites, it was the Jews of Judah, who do still exist and are now the Israelis, and after that, the Babylonians, The Persians, The Greeks, The Jews (again), The Romans, The Byzantines, The Arabs of Arabia, The Umayyad Caliphate, and so on until you come to the most recent Ottomans and British, neither of whom want the land back. You cannot simply say that the short time that the Arabs ruled Israel is any more legitimate than any of the other nations’ claims. Since the Arabs conquered the land by force, and were removed from it by force (not by the Israelis), it seems that they have no more claim than the Jews, who were actually there longer and have been there throughout the whole complicated mess of ownerships. Keep in mind, the time that the land was taken by and from the Arabs was over 1500 years ago. This parcel of land has had many owners, similar to other existing countries. It is apparent that the Israelis didn’t steal the land from any nation, and furthermore, they did not steal it from any inhabitants. Since it wasn’t stolen, it is legitimately owned by the Israelis.

From the onset of World War I, some of the land was owned by people who weren’t living on it, and who were instead living in a variety of other Middle Eastern areas. The people who were actually living on the land were 80% destitute peasants, Bedouins, and nomads. All the same, the Jews were respectful and courteously decided to buy only uninhabited land. They looked for ill-used, swampy, uncultivated, and deserted land to add to their future state. After attaining such land was no longer possible, they sought out willing Arabs who gladly sold their land for more than fair prices. Despite the fact that the land had been legally bought and paid for, in the early 1930’s Lewis French inspected the scene and ended up offering new land to any of the newly “homeless” natives. After checking into the legality of the land claims, French ended up accepting 600 Arabs that qualified to be given new land, and of those only 100 accepted. Even after all of this, Arabs (not calling themselves Palestinians) began attacking Jews. The British looked into this and reported that, “much of the land now carrying orange groves was sand dunes or swamp and uncultivated when purchased…there was at the time of the earlier sales little evidence that the owners possessed either the resources or training needed to develop the land.” Since most of the Arab malcontent was said to be due to orange grove thievery, the claims fell apart. Later, in 1938, Israelis were still buying worthless land, now at ten times the cost per acre of fruitful soil. Arab rebels were still complaining, and still not calling themselves Palestinians. Today’s land was basically attained from (excluding disputed territories):

  1. 45,000 acres acquired from the British Mandate
  2. 30,000 acres bought from various churches
  3. 387,500 acres purchased from Arabs. Land records show that from 1880 to 1948, 73 percent of Jewish plots were purchased from Arab wealthy landowners, not poor peasants. Leaders of the Arab nationalists’ movement, mayors of Jerusalem, Gaza and Jaffa and the father of past PLO chairman Ahmed Shuqeiri sold land to Jews. Even King Abdullah was in the game.

The land was bought. The few displaced people were offered new land. Israel was ready to claim its independence, and to welcome any of the few remaining Arab inhabitants into the new country. All should be said and done, when, for some reason unintelligible to anyone besides themselves, the Arab countries declared war.

One of these reasons couldn’t have been to create a Palestinian state, because the Jews begged the Palestinians to stay, and the Palestinians were not yet making any kind of appeal for a homeland. Though even if they were, the Palestinians could have had a homeland. In fact, they have been offered a homeland at several points in time. In 1937 a Peel Commission partition plan was discussed, which would have given Israel a small part of Galilee and a tiny strip along the coast, practically nothing. Arab Nations unanimously rejected the Peel Commission plan, and didn’t comply with the United Nations partition plan either.

The United Nations Partition Plan (UN Resolution 121) voted on November 29, 1947 to divide the British territory named Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. The two states would be roughly equal in size and resources, would cooperate on major economic issues, and share currency, roads and government services. The Jews accepted the plan. The Palestinian Arabs refused it and made themselves refugees by voluntarily leaving their land and amassing in the area that is now the West Bank and Gaza. Before the Israelis won the land in the 1967 war, Gaza was owned by Egypt and the West Bank was owned by Jordan. There was still no Palestine to speak of. Now the world looks at Israel as the occupier, whereas, Jordan still occupies so-called Palestinian land and isn’t deemed an occupier. So if all that the Palestinians want is a homeland, why don’t they go ask Jordan for one, seeing as 65% of Jordan is already Palestinian?

The Palestinians have no particular reason for choosing Israel to complain to with demands for land, they don’t have their main religious sites there, nor do they have any great historical significance in that area. With so much land in the Middle East, why the need to own an additional few acres, and why only Israel’s? It is because they don’t want a homeland, they just want Israel to not have one. To quote the comedian Dennis Miller, “Think of all the Arab countries as a football field, and Israel as a pack of matches sitting in the middle of it.” Israel has offered many peace deals handing over their share of the matches; however, none of them has come to fruition. The Israelis moved to Israel and bought awful land for ridiculous prices and then developed it into an agricultural miracle. When the Israelis were offered land, even if it wasn’t ideal, the accepted it. The Palestinians need to learn that beggars can’t be choosers; if they really want a country, maybe they should do as Israel did and take what is being and has been offered. Maybe they should quit complaining about poverty levels and start doing something about them. Israel did. Israel has more right to the land, and despite this, they are willing to share it. The Israelis created Israel. Why should they abandon it?

Step two: Feasible Solutions

An element of practicality has to be applied to the situation. The Israelis are never going to gain all of Israel, whether or not they have more right. So, look at this briefly from an imagined (yet based on true accounts) Palestinian’s view.

I wake up, not really wanting to wake up, but waking up anyway. I turn on the lights, yawning, and walk to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I run water over my tooth brush. My eyes snap open. There is no water and there are no lights. I sigh, knowing that my power and water have been cut off. Again. I hurry now, trying to get ready for school, and then realizes it doesn’t matter anyway, because I’m not allowed to leave my house today. Damn Israelis.

These sob stories are usually true. The Palestinians are oppressed, and for what could arguably be seen as a good reason (the end of suicide bombings). Yet, oppressing people, however justified, is never going to solve anything. So, what can be done? Well, not very much, truth be told, but there are some possible solutions.

The Palestinian/ Israeli conflict is a heated one, with no end in sight. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that there won’t be an end to this conflict, at least in the next few decades. One of the main reasons it isn’t going to end anytime soon is that both sides hate each other, and have hated each other for the last half century. However, the situation can improve, and maybe lead to an eventual peace.

The conflict began in the first half of the nineteenth century (and I know I’m reiterating, but origins are of quintessential importance) , when Jews began calling for a homeland. In 1937 the  Peel Commission plan was discussed, which would have given Israel a small part of Galilee and a tiny strip along the coast, practically nothing (UN.org). Arab Nations unanimously rejected the Peel Commission plan, and didn’t comply with the United Nations Partition Plan either. The United Nations Partition Plan (UN Resolution 121) voted to divide the British territory named Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish.   The Jews accepted the plan.  The Palestinian Arabs refused it and made themselves refugees by voluntarily leaving their land and amassing in the area that is now the West Bank and Gaza.  Before the Israelis won the land in the defensive 1967 war, Egypt owned Gaza and Jordan owned the West Bank. And so the current setup arose. The Arabs had left Palestine to camp on the border, sure that their neighbors would drive the Jews out. A few stayed, and they joined Israeli society. The ones who did not began launching rockets at Israel. The Israelis responded by invading Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians, infuriated and trying to free themselves, launched more bombs. The Israelis tightened their hold. The Palestinians retaliated, and so on and so forth. Ug.

In 2005, Israel removed all settlers and troops from Gaza, and Palestinian leaders agreed to try and decrease terrorism and hatred. Mahmoud al-Zahar, one of the Palestinian leaders who had promised to try to end the terrorism said that he remains devoted to the elimination of the state of Israel altogether. (San Francisco Chronicle) The other leaders had similar views. All supported the indoctrination camps, the main way that Hamas, a leading terrorist organization, spreads hate. At the indoctrination camps, Hamas gives kids free food, shelter, and lessons in suicide bombing. These camps are not secret, they are open summer camps. By 2007, at least 3000 rockets had been fired at Israel from Gaza. In response to the rockets coming over their border, and the Palestinian government over looking it, Israelis finally responded by firing two missiles at the town from which the rockets were being launched. 21 innocent Palestinian civilians died that day, because bombers would purposefully launch rockets out of populated areas. Palestinian terrorists use civilians as shields, and this simply ups casualty rates.

Another problem is financial; Israel has been able to cut Palestinian power and water because they supply it. Israel supplies 60% (BBC) of Gaza’s electricity, and they are threatening to stop supplying it the next time a rocket surpasses the border. Gaza isn’t happy, but also won’t stop the rockets. The world community says that Israel is responsible for the health of the people from Gaza, as they still control their borders. Israelis argue that they aren’t going to provide the means for their own demise.

A further problem is that of the Palestinian civil war. Hamas and Fatah are vying for power, and Israel is trying to deal with both of them, at once, though they often have wildly differing opinions. To top that off, the land positioning itself is hard to cope with. The West Bank is on the east side of Israel, and Gaza is to the west. This puts Israel between what it sees as two hostile powers.

Now, I’m not going to say this is all someone’s fault. Throwing blame around and trying to prove someone innocent is not going to solve the problem. The only reason the history is even necessary is to understand the situation. So whether England, Israel, the Palestinians, or a rapid monkey from Mars is the ultimate cause of the problem, obviously, something is not working. Retaliation after retaliation is never going to lead to peace. But what will? Israelis can not be expected to trust the people who are bombing them enough to leave them alone completely, and Palestinians can not be expected to deal with water and power cuts, refugee camps, and long waits to get from one point to another, due to check points. The Israelis are not likely to remove the checkpoints, as they’ve cut down the rates of suicide bombings.  The answer is not unilateral land for peace treaties, as historically, those have failed. Dennis Ross recommends small steps. He thinks that if Israel were to make the checkpoints faster to get through, perhaps by giving them to private companies, and if the Palestinians were to end the indoctrination camps, progress could begin to start. He says that this will help both sides see that the other is trying. I’m firmly in favor of this plan, as it’s the only logical one around. Giving the Israelis all of the land that they bought and paid for, and sending the Palestinians off to Jordan, already over half Palestinian, while it might be fair, is not going to happen. Driving all the Israelis into the sea isn’t going to happen, either, no matter how much they might deserve it. The only option is to hope, hope that small steps work like nothing else has, and hope that younger generations, free of propaganda, will be able to come together and bring peace.  I’m skeptical. But hey, I’d be so happy if they proved me wrong.

Additional Sources:

Anti Defamation League, 2002.

“AGRICULTURE AND AGRO-TECHNOLOGY.” Ministry of Foreign Affaris Denmark. 30 Nov. 2006. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Denmark Embassy of Denmark, Tel Aviv. 11 Jan. 2007 <http://www.ambtelaviv.um.dk/en/menu/CommercialServices/MarketOpportunities/SectorAnalysis/FoedevarerLandbrugOgFiskeri/Agriculture/&gt;.

Auster, Lawrence. “How Strong is the Arab Claim to Palestine?” FrontPageMagazine. 30 Aug. 2004. 11 Jan. 2007 <http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=14858&gt;.

Bard, Mitchell G. Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Chevy Chase: American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, 2006.

Gold, Dore. “Jerusalem Issue Brief.” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. 26 Aug. 2005. Institute for Contemporary Affairs. 11 Jan. 2007 <http://www.jcpa.org/brief/brief005-3.htm&gt;.

Inhofe, Senator James M. “Memorable Speeches and Letters.” Israel Net Daily. 1 Apr. 2002. 11 Jan. 2007 <http://www.israelnetdaily.com/index.php?menu_option=speeches&speech=5&gt;.

Shusteff, Boris. “A Second Palestine.” Freeman Center for Strategic Studies. 1995. Freeman Center for Strategic Studies. 11 Jan. 2007 <http://www.freeman.org/m_online/jun98/shusteff.htm&gt;.


My Views on Fur

September 17, 2008

Hi PETA. I wrote a poem. Come smite me.

I had a pug

Her name was Ilana

Now she’s a rug

So I got an Iguana.

And I must admit that I don’t really care

For while I liked that pug

I’m not even tempted to pull out my hair

Actually, I have much more interest in the rug;

You see the reason it quite simple

My lovely, adorable, hug-gable pug

(And shoot me if I don’t spark a dimple)

Is infinitely better as a rug.


Sarah Palin: Facts and Fiction

September 8, 2008

Claim one: Sarah Palin supported a bounty program that would give citizens $150 per wolf killed.

Status: True.

This website http://www.defenders.org/newsroom/press_releases_folder/2007/03_27_2007_judge_asked_to_shut_down_wolf_bounty_program.php put out an article on March 27, 2007, explaining their disagreements with Sarah Palin over bounty hunting. As it was published over a year before her selection as vice president, and as it concurs with similar information sent out by US News and World Report,  this is probably true.

Another claim is that Sarah spent $400,000 that could have been spent on something more useful to educate people about aerial wolf hunting. This is again, true. This site gives a fairly balanced view on why. The money was intended to boost moose and caribou numbers. The dead wolf toll is no where near enough to drive the animals to extinction, and the state only wants enough wolves killed to help the caribou. As a general rule, Alaskan voters approve of killing wolves, so that caribou don’t become extinct.

Did Sarah Palin have an affair? Well, maybe. But the McCain team is denying it (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/uselection2008/johnmccain/2680018/Sarah-Palin-affair-rumours-are-false-says-John-McCains-team.html), and there is, as of yet, no conclusive evidence to say that she did. If she did, the ticket is shot, and we’ll all be happily socialist ever-after…unless maybe Sarah’s son dies in Iraq. That might help.

This site http://www.grizzlybay.org/SarahPalinInfoPage.htm explains all the other ‘evils’ of Sarah Palin. Because of the requests from numerous readers that my posts be shorter, I’ll let you guys research those on your own.

—UPDATE— September 16-22, 2008

There is still no new info on Sarah Palin’s alleged affair, but as the story didn’t break when originally planed, I’m inclined to mistrust it.

 The Sarah Palin/Oprah story (which says that Oprah refused to have Palin on the show) is gaining credibility. Whatever you may have heard, here’s the real situation. Oprah decided to endorse Obama. Because of this, she doesn’t want any other candidates on the show. Here’s what Oprah said on the subject, “There has been absolutely no discussion about having Sarah Palin on my show. At the beginning of this Presidential campaign when I decided that I was going to take my first public stance in support of a candidate, I made the decision not to use my show as a platform for any of the candidates. I agree that Sarah Palin would be a fantastic interview, and I would love to have her on after the campaign is over.” So yes, Oprah is taking sides: she’s endorsing Obama. But she has admitted this, and there really isn’t any story here. These websites give other views on the subject, but the same facts.   http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,417523,00.html http://drudgereport.com/flash3os.htm

Now, as for that list on Grizzly Bay…

Here’s my point by point analysis.

1) She is opposed to abortion even in cases of rape and incest (even if victims are children)

This is true. Palin openly acknowledges this, and the  However, she is in favor of abortion to save the life of the mother (“”I am pro-life,” Palin wrote in response to a 2006 questionnaire from the conservative Eagle Forum. “With the exception of a doctor’s determination that the mother’s life would end if the pregnancy continued. I believe that no matter what mistakes we make as a society, we cannot condone ending an ending an innocent’s life.””– http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/02/opinion/main4408972.shtml?source=related_story).

2) She offered a bounty of $150 for each left front leg of freshly killed wolves

As I explained earlier in this post, she did indeed do that, but she was trying to save the caribou.

3) She is presently under investigation in Alaska for abuse of power.

Again yes, but keep in mind that she’s innocent until proven guilty.

4) She strongly supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

She does. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can hear her defend her views here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3jnbiHAMuY starting at 4:19. The bottom line is that she feels the polar bears, the main reason for concerns about drilling in the refuge, are very much a healthy species in her state. If you don’t want to take her word for it this website http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2008/s2326116.htm shows different sides of the polar bear argument, but the fact that polar bears are currently doing well isn’t disputed.

5) She promotes aerial hunting of wolves and bears even though Alaskans voted twice to ban the practice

I’ve discussed that earlier, but to add, Alaskans did ban the practice twice, in 1996 and 2000. Over 50% of Alaskans are currently against aerial hunting. http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/507088.html gives good additional information.

6) She used $400,000 of state money to fund a propaganda campaign in support of aerial hunting

Again, already discussed.

7) She is a champion for big oil and her campaign slogan has become “Drill, baby, drill!”

As far as I know, that’s a Republican slogan not unique to Palin, and if often chanted at Repulican rallies.

8) She believes creationism should be taught in public schools

According to this articale from AP http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gV5jvU52RD3WBflzbmSu5l6zwOqAD92V3VQG0 Palin does believe that Creationism should be taught in schools, but is not interested in forcing it on the nation. (My fellow atheists, feel free to resume breathing)

9) She believes man-made global warming is a farce

This is true. In her defense, she is joined by 32,000 of the world’s “leading” scientists (http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpcomment/archive/2008/05/17/32-000-deniers.aspx), but whatever…

10) She is opposed to listing the polar bear as an endangered species because it might limit oil exploitation

Again, included in my other responses, but yes, and she has her reasons, including the fact that the polar bear population has doubled in the last 40 years.

11) While mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire the city librarian because the librarian refused to censor books

ABC news has some insights on this one 😉 , http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=5766173&page=1, including a statement from the librarian in question, who said “she can’t recall any effort by Palin to ban specific books from the town library”-ABC.

12) She supports the Alaskan Independence Party which seeks independence from the United States (VIDEO)

While Palin has shown a limited, made-for-votes, support for the group, she was never a member. Her husband was, and the organization claimed she was for a while, but later withdrew the claim. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/04/us/politics/04party.html?ref=politics

13) As mayor of Wasilla, she made rape victims pay for their own forensic evidence kits

Palin didn’t, Wasilla did. Though as http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/21/palin.rape.exams/?iref=hpmostpop says, it was unlikely that she was unaware of the issue.

14) She obtained her first passport just last year (2007)

Nope, she actually got her first passport in 2006, and has visited over 3 (4) countires. http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2008/09/03/palin_not_well_traveled_outside_us/

I hope this gives my readers a balanced view of what Palin’s really done, and I’d also like you all to note that I’ve used reliable, mainstream sources, unlike the people at Grizzly.

A final note on Palin: A lot of us hate her. She’s anti-choice in extreme cases, and overly conservative on social issues. That doesn’t mean we should all vote for a populist, socialist, man who doesn’t have a firm grip on reality. =D


Why is the US in debt? An analysis of US spending

September 3, 2008

The United States federal government should recover from debt by first limiting spending, reevaluating government fund accounting, cutting back on public health programs, and restructuring congress to make it less susceptible to lobbying.

“Just because it makes money doesn’t mean it’s good for business. Like all of you, I believe in free trade.  But we have to acknowledge that for millions of Americans, its burdens outweigh its benefits.” Obama, 2008. When our political leaders make comments such as this one, where do you THINK the budget is going? The budget is a crucial and inherent problem (for more on the budget, see my post here: second paragraph), complete with built in harms and promises of greater devastation if it is not addressed. In order to solve this problem, I am advocating the switch from government fund accounting to one that has rewards for efficiency, the cut backs of all government sponsored health programs, requiring the GAO to sign off on any committee budget proposals, and, to check if any of this has an effect, the introduction of the private sector method of calculating debts.

The problem of the budget can no longer be ignored. At this point, as the Financial Report of the United States Government freely admits, the gap between the government’s promised obligations, including Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, and the money that the government has available, is 45 trillion dollars. To give you some comparison, the annual GDP for this year is approximately 14 trillion. Essentially, the government owes over 3 times as much money as the economy is worth. (Legitimized by the GAO) This obvious problem is NOT going to go away on its own, over even with a simple cut in spending. Here’s why.

Many love to blame the budget deficit on the war in Iraq. However, all government discretionary spending combined, including national defense, homeland security, mass transit systems, foreign aid, and Supplemental Security Income, is substantially less than the combined costs of Medicare, Medicaid , and Social Security. Even if Social Security were the ONLY government program, our country would still be in debt, seeing as within 20 years the system with run ANNUAL deficits of 30 trillion dollars. So to solve this problem, more has to be done than something as simple as pulling out of Iraq. This is because, while the government has a spending problem, they have a much larger structural problem. Structural problems do not fix themselves. Furthermore, if this problem is ignored, within the next 30 years taxes will either have to be raised 60% or the federal budget cut by ONE THIRD in order to get out of debt. (GAO)

So the longer we wait, the worse this inherent problem gets. The next objective would be solving the problem. The current method of government fund accounting annually allocates a set amount of money to each of the eligible organizations. If the money is spent at the end of the year, the government gives them more money to continue running. If the money is not completely spent, then the organization gets absolutely nothing. So, if the organization wants to get any money at all for their next fiscal year, they have to spend every penny of their year’s allocation. (www.remond.com, www.usasearch.gov) To deal with extra money, corporations come up with clever solution. One year, UNC chose to buy hundreds of crates of toilet paper to eat up their extra money, and the pentagon chose to buy hundreds of crates of 500 dollar obsolete hammers. (www.cato.org) To prevent things like this from happening, the government needs to switch to a system that rewards extra allocation instead of punishing it. Letting the organizations keep their surplus and also giving them their next year’s allocation would work just fine, as this system would reward efficiency instead of punishing it.

The next necessary measure is to find a way to either curtail lobbying, or reduce its influence on Congress. Lobbying makes it impossible to cut wasteful spending programs. In his book, The Future of Freedom, Fareed Zakaria points out that people who care the most about something contact their representatives and pay for lobbyists. “There are only 25,000 cotton growers in the United States, with an average net worth of $800,000. They receive $2 billion in government subsidies.” This happens because, “If a group of 100 farmers got together to petition the government to give them $10 million, the benefit to each farmer is 100,000. The cost to the rest of the country is about 4 cents per person. Who is more likely to form a lobby, them or us? Multiply this example by thousands and you understand the central problem of American democracy today.

Another, highly unpopular measure, needed to fix the budget, is to cut back government funded health programs. The costs for them are rising at an alarming rate, and if they continue to do so the system will be forced to morph into one like that of England to stop from sinking entirely. This wouldn’t be so bad, except people in England are still pulling out their own teeth because of lack of both public and private, as private practices are illegal, health coverage. (NY times) In America, the GAO already sees this coming, but the GAO has no political voice.

The way the budget is set up now, the president prepares a budget request which congress votes on. The budget resolution is the passed to a committee who decides if the funds should be distributed. The amount of money that the budget calls for is then compared with the amount of money available. If there isn’t enough, taxes are raised, or the government sinks further into debt. I propose that the GAO review the budget after the committees are done with it and determine whether they think it is possible to procure the funds without bankrupting the country in the near future. If it isn’t, the budget should be cut, unless the president declares a state of emergency. This should at least curb the national spending by introducing a third party that has already shown itself to be reliable.

Finally, to see if any of this has any effect, the government should use the same method that the private sectors use to calculate their deficit, that is by subtracting the money when they promise it to something else, instead of when they actually hand it over. This would prevent the government from cutting their spending numbers in half by reporting their losses before they pay everything they own. This would check to see how much of an effect the system is having.

If America takes all of these steps: recognizes the problem, fixes governmental fund accounting, curtails Social Security and lobbying, and asks the GAO to help with the budget, America would be headed in the right direction. And then, someday in the future, we might well own our country again.