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Book Review of: Where Does The Money Go
Your Guided Tour to the Federal Budget Crisis
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Where Does The Money Go, by Author (Softcover, 2011)|
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Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
The United States govt has saddled its citizens with a federal debt that exceeds the GDP of all nations combined. Thus, the debt is an existentially serious problem. This book addresses that problem. This book makes a solid contribution to the literature on national finance. And this book is definitely worth buying.
Whether on purpose or for some other reason, the authors have based this book on commonly accepted disinformation. For the most part, they are using data that greatly understate their own positions. This isn't necessarily bad, because it’s a clever way to get past the barriers people often erect to actually thinking about something. Here’s an example from my own experience. Back in the mid-1980s, some cult members came to my home with the goal of converting me to their religion. I invited them in, and we talked. I asked them to make a list of the facts as we went.
Through the discussion, I let them determine what the facts were and I argued (using proper logic) from the facts they established. This made my arguments very powerful, and ultimately so persuasive that one of the cult members denounced his religion before leaving. The other was badly shaken and still trying to come to grips with reality.
The authors of this book took a similar approach, either by accident or on purpose (I can’t tell). Many of the facts they use are not facts at all, but the fiction presented as fact by the mudstream media and the elites they serve.
The most relevant non-fact is the statement that the national debt is only $13 trillion or so. While most accounting in the private world is done by GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles), government accounting is done by GFAP (Generally Fraudulent Accounting Principles). We know this because the GAO tells us this when it tries to audit the IRS or any of a number of other agencies. And we know this for several other reasons as well (covered in many different books on govt malfeasance and unaccountability).
When you strip away the fraud, the actual amount of the debt is X. To determine X, you have to get past the lack of proper bookkeeping and use a combination of GAAP and basic logic to reconstruct what’s not recorded. This isn’t fabrication; for example, if your car gets 30MPG and you go through 20 gallons of fuel then we can reconstruct your mileage driven as 600 miles.
Various experts have done the analysis, and the consensus is pretty close to $200 trillion. That’s 200 followed by 12 zeroes. This staggering sum is 25 times the amount the government admits to. If you understated your income by a factor of 25 when filing your W-2 taxes, you’d go to prison and never get out again. For one breakdown on how a reasonably accurate debt figure is calculated, see the analysis conducted by Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff. And note that he still might be understating the actual debt.
Does this mean the authors don’t have a serious book? By no means. Comparing $13 trillion in debt to $200 trillion in debt is pretty much a “how dead is he” comparison. We are in very deep trouble, either way.
While I have compiled quite a list of objections and corrections (see below), I also want to point out the authors have some outstanding material in this book and generally done an outstanding job.
For example, the summary on page 186 is excellent. And it’s just one of dozens of examples of excellence in this book. Another is the table that runs from page 289 through page 304. It gives good data on various federal programs, and then shows a good breakdown of revenue sources.
But the authors make some serious mistakes, too. These do not help the authors or the reader. For example, they say “health care” where they mean to say “medical care.” These are two entirely different things.
In fact, the key to solving the high cost of medical care in the USA is to make continued receipt of it contingent upon health care. While we can’t dictate that people practice health care to prevent illness, we can require them to stop working so darn hard at making themselves sick once other people are paying for their medical care. This is already done on a limited basis; for example, people receiving bottled oxygen are cut off from that if it’s discovered they smoke. You can put your foot on the gas or the brake, but you must choose; that’s the sum of this way of thinking.
Another way the federal government could support health care is to indict the psychopaths who put endocrine-modifying corn syrup products and/or cancer-causing hydrogenated oil into food. To even allow this kind of bio-terrorism is contradictory to the concept of a civilized society. Yet, we subsidize the input and subsidize the resultant high medical costs.
It is not health care costs that are going to rise, but medical care costs. Health care is quite affordable and its costs are not driven by demographics.
The authors have a few errors of perception. On page 2, for example, the authors ask, “When was the last time you cast your vote for a candidate who campaigned on getting the country’s finances back on track?” Many people voted for Ron Paul in 2008, and many more would have if the mudstream media had not spewed its lies and distortions to marginalize him as a nut instead of as the only candidate running on a platform of government by law. The law being referred to is the Constitution, a document GW and BH seem to be unaware exists.
The authors also buy into the ridiculous fiction that the two wings of The Party don’t work for the same employers. I have addressed this absurdity in other articles, reviews, and postings. The evidence against it is overwhelming. The evidence for it exists in rhetoric only, not in actual results. The only difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is the rhetoric they spew to the people they wish to deceive.
This book contains other errors of fact. For a detailed list, see this Excel sheet with 53 objections and corrections.
Again, I must note that generally the points the authors make are correct despite the errors. I would be thrilled if the majority of Americans took everything in this book to be absolutely correct and then made political decisions from there. That alone would change the political landscape dramatically in a highly positive way. However, I just do not like to overlook errors. I think if people know the real extent of the crimes that have been conducted by our misrepresentatives in CONgress and just how much debt they have left us with, then we will be more resolute in replacing those people with actual representatives.
I also think it’s important for people to understand the profound differences between health care and medical care, and to take charge of reducing the demand for the latter by practicing the former. Government is not going to help us there. But we can control the size of our portions, refuse to buy anything containing known toxins like corn sweetener (corn syrup), and genuinely working at wellness rather than sickness.
This book consists of 17 chapters, plus a highly useful appendix, in 348 pages. Despite errors, the main points of the books are valid and should dominate every political discussion.
About these reviews
You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?
I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?
And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.
This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.
My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.
A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.
About your reviewer
About reading style
No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.
Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.