As crazy as this electoral season has been, it almost seems appropriate that Ross Perot has emerged from his secret hiding place to resume his campaign to educate the American people regarding the perilous condition of the economy.
It was Perot's no-nonsense views regarding the state of the purse which attracted Liberal Progressive me enough to join with economic conservative refugees from the Republican Party to become the Reform Party, and I supported his campaign for the presidency both in 1992 and 1996 – at least until he shot himself in the foot right as he had gained the momentum each time. Even though he demonstrated both times a lack of suitability to be selected as the Chief Executive, that doesn't weaken or demean his economic lessons.
His primary message: We cannot continue to spend beyond our means.
If you go to check out his new web site, PerotCharts.com, Perot goes into detail about what shape the federal budget is in and a bit about how it got that way using his famous chart techniques. If one allows the presentation to auto-play (explanations are given at the start as to what to do if you don't wish to surrender control of your monitor), it would take about an hour – even on a T-1 connection during prime time, as I experienced. Nothing is spoken that isn't also available for direct reading, so my recommendation is to read at your own pace and shut off the audio and auto play features.
As for the charts, the pictures are worth more than anything else. It's fairly clear where the money is going inside a few broad categories. It also becomes quickly clear where the message is headed, even if no conclusions are drawn for you (you are clearly expected to understand the material well enough to create your own). Neither does the presentation take a partisan stance – no current candidate support is even hinted. It's strictly Perot's version of Deep Throat's directive to "Follow the money!"
So where is Perot's message leading us? What items are to be sacrificed in the name of fiscal responsibility?
If you guessed Social Security and Medicare (especially if you made your choice after seeing the presentation), you would be correct. If all roads lead to Rome, all Perot solutions lead to eliminating both entitlements. It is here that our trails follow separate paths.
To Perot, security is only that which emanates from a gun. He's very wealthy (it only took about three months to replace the $60 million he spent on one year's campaign), so knowing where his next meal is coming from is never in doubt. He also has plenty of moolah in his medical expense account, some of which went to support John McCain's first wife Carol after her horrendous accident (McCain was still lodged in the Hanoi Hilton at the time), so he isn't concerned about whether to eat or pay for drugs.
Having wealth leads to a paranoid certainty that everyone – especially the government of We, the People – is out to take your money from you, so you locate your Armored Airstream in a free fire zone, festooned with enough Rusty Bob to resemble the mythical Fred Sanford's junkyard empire, and you expect your Republican government hired Blackwater thugs to take from those weaker than you in order to protect you from those weaker. Maybe that's why Blackwater recently bought fighter planes from Brazil's Embraer?
This irrational fear can only grow. Eventually, "them" becomes every other nation on Earth, or else why would the United States be spending $583,283,000,000 on our military [2008 figures] after the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that in 2007 the US spent $540,700,000,000. During the same time span, the total world military expenditure was $1,200,000,000,000  and $1,158,000,000,000  respectively. That amount continues to grow, ravenously out of any rational control, every single year.
If one includes the costs of Chicken George's Terror War Against Terror ("It takes a real pussy to lead TWAT!") – as Global Security does – then the cost of supporting a huge standing killer attack military is more like $623 billion – almost ten times that of the next ranking nation, China, which only spends about $65 billion. Considering that a Chinese Song-class submarine went undetected until it surfaced within lethal attack range of the USS Kitty Hawk during exercises, which nation is getting better value for its expenditure?
If I were Ross Perot, I'd be far more concerned that my beloved military wasn't being fleeced by a bunch of unscrupulous neo-con shoddy merchants instead of expecting the sick and elderly to bear the largest economic burden through the elimination of their old age support.
So certainly, changing the way our greenback dollars are being managed is in dire need of improvement – just like the views concerning which expenditures are unnecessary needs to be updated. Another voice (besides mine) needs to be raised in defense of people over expensive military hardware. How about yours? A little thrifty political diplomacy in time just might well save 90 (million retirees) enough to make all the difference between a dignified retirement and abject poverty.
You know, like they have in Afghanistan: the other rich, white oilman's burden.