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Smaller players can pack big punches

CHAUTAUQUA – If you think smaller players can’t pack big punches, meet OpenTheBooks.com.

Adam Andzejewski, chief executive officer of OpenTheBooks.com, calls it the largest database of government money in or out of government.

Andzejewski has an encyclopedic knowledge of government waste and can rattle it off as easily and as quickly as most people can rattle off the alphabet.

Some government foolishness is so appalling that some who learn of it find themselves taken beyond the point of being sad or mad.

In addition – or perhaps instead – they find themselves shaking their heads in disbelief and, yes, to some extent, laughing.

That’s one effect the truth Andzejewski tells can have on an audience.

And he did when he spoke to Advocates for Balance at Chautauqua, or ABC, on Monday, July 12, for its second program of the nine-week Chautauqua Institution summer season.

ABC was formed in 2018. Its mission is “to achieve a balance of speakers in a mutually civil and respectful environment consistent with the historic mission of Chautauqua” Institution.

ABC is its own Section 501(c)(3) organization, legally separate from the institution.

Those listening to reports, such as Andzejewski’s, on government waste sometimes need to pinch themselves.

This problem isn’t abstract. It’s real.

It isn’t hypothetical. It’s concrete.

It isn’t some future challenge. It’s a longstanding one.

Andzejewski notes that both major political parties – Republicans and Democrats – are at fault here.

He calls earmarks the currency of corruption in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He particularly chides 23 first-term House Republicans – yes, first term – for voting to bring back earmarks.

One problem, of course, is that many people think their member of Congress is great, while many other districts have bums.

Thus, the saying, “Vote the bums out” is often an urge to vote out others’ members of Congress, not one’s own.

One member of Congress who is keeping a pledge he made at the beginning of his tenure to leave after six terms spoke this summer of what he says has been happening in Washington, D.C., for 10 to 15 years.

One wonders whether 10 to 15 years is an underestimate, yet the age of the problem isn’t really the point.

Rather, the point is the consequences of the problem.

According to press reports, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, foresees – with the national debt approaching $30 trillion and on its way to $50 trillion – the United States’ not being able to service its debt, and says some aspire to devalue the United States’ currency.

Whoa.

Let’s play that one again: U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, foresees – with the national debt approaching $30 trillion and on its way to $50 trillion – the United States’ not being able to service its debt, and says some aspire to devalue the United States’ currency.

That’s alarming.

Fundamentally and frighteningly alarming.

Reed isn’t one of the congressional demagogues whose creditability on many subjects is about minus zero.

Reed is no demagogue, and his creditability is high.

So when he foresees the United States’ not being able to service its debt, and says some aspire to devalue the United States’ currency, pay attention.

It would be one thing for some countries to pull stunts such as those.

It would be another thing for any of the world’s leading economic powers, including the United States, to pull stunts such as those.

Just what would happen if the country whose currency is an anchor for much of the world’s economy devalued its currency?

Wouldn’t that undermine much of the world’s economy?

And what would happen to the American economy?

Wouldn’t the devaluing of the currency, for example, devalue everyone’s savings?

Would this even be constitutional?

Dr. Randy Elf’s Aug. 20, 2020, ABC presentation is at https://works.bepress.com/elf/21

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