by Bill Bonner
“The Dow popped back up over 20,000 on Friday. Federal debt approaches $20 trillion. And Donald Trump claimed to have saved $600 million on Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet program. (Did he take out the seat warmers or the A/C?)
Budget fight: We don’t know what’s ahead for the Dow. But the direction of federal debt is known to us all. Current projections- with no extra Trump deficit spending- will put it up by another $10 trillion over the next 10 years. Why? Sometime this year, the number of people retiring will reach 10,000 a day. More of us are becoming geezers, drawing on Social Security and medical benefits. And age-related spending- most of it healthcare related- accounts for 55% of government spending in the US. This is why an ominous headline over the weekend reads ‘White House, Senate Republicans Headed for Budget Confrontation’. But pretty soon, Donald Trump’s proposed tax cuts and spending increases will come into focus…along with the debt ceiling.
Guns and butter? This is the same problem every welfare state faces: more old people and fewer young people to support them. But the US has an extra problem: a stretched-out empire with troops in more than 100 different countries. (Last year, they dropped more than 26,000 bombs.) How can it afford to continue with so many people also asking for pills and pensions? ‘Guns or butter?’ someone is sure to ask. We’ll come back to that…and explain why the welfare-warfare state is doomed… But let us return to the story we promised last week, ‘Confessions of an Illegal Alien’.
Undocumented: The mice in the pantry wouldn’t have noticed anything unusual. Nor would the pigeons on the chimney tops. To the animal kingdom, including bipeds, we looked normal. But we had a dark secret. In 1996, we crossed the border on a tourist visa waiver allowing us to stay for three months. We didn’t ‘go legal’ until a decade later. For 10 years, we lived as ‘undocumented’ residents. Illegal aliens. No green cards. No visas. No nothing.
We had an apartment in Paris and a house in the country. We lived there together- husband and wife, a mother, an aunt, and six children- and not one of us had a proper visa. We raised a family. We started a business. We hired dozens of people. We filed taxes in both France and the US and paid both governments millions in sales, income, and social charges.
‘If you would bring your publishing business to [the little village where we were living at the time],’ a neighbor joked, ‘we’ll put up a statue of you in the town square.’ ‘How big?’ we wanted to know.
We bought an apartment and two derelict chateaux. We fixed them up…at a cost of millions. We bought a warehouse on the outskirts of Paris. We paid taxes, insurance, and renovation costs on all of them. We hired people to fix the roofs and cut the grass.
We were audited by the ‘fisc’- the French tax people. We put our children in Catholic schools. We got stopped for speeding. We used the French socialized healthcare system on several occasions. We met French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin at a garden party. We went to weddings and funerals. We sang in the church choir. We buried our aunt in the town cemetery.
We bought one magazine and started up another. We gave speeches. We published books. We invested in one of the oldest book publishers in France- the largest (and…ahem…perhaps only) publisher of Latin and Greek classics in their original language.
It had a fusty bookstore on the Boulevard Raspail and had been losing money since 1919. When the owner retired, we bought the company…and it’s still losing money! ‘Thank God,’ says the manager. ‘Otherwise, we’d have to pay French taxes.’
Punishable offense: We often lost money in France. But we acquired a taste for wine that sticks with us. And never once, as far as we can remember, did we kill or rape anyone. We didn’t even litter. One time, however- it’s time to make a clean breast of it since we are in a confessional mood- we were parked beside the road. Someone’s overhanging apple tree tempted us. We looked around. No snake in sight. Like Eve, we succumbed. We ate the fruit and drove away in the dusk.
That may or may not have been a punishable offense. In any case, we were never apprehended by the gendarmes…and, happily, never deported. But one by one, our children grew up and returned to the homeland. When the last of them was ready to go home, we followed. Why didn’t we get our papers in order? No one ever asked us to.”