We Are Our Own Worst Enemy

By Xin Lu on 18 August 2008 26 comments

Today my friend sent me an article titled "We Have Met the Enemy" by Knight Kiplinger , the Editor in Chief of Kiplinger publications. It is a blunt article pointing out that America's current economic woes are caused by none other than the American people and its elected government.

Many of the American problems with fiscal irresponsibility Kiplinger pointed out are what we have been writing about at Wise Bread for years. For example, he states that Americans "mistake wants for needs", and that is a topic Sarah Winfrey addresed in her article on how to tell the difference between wants and needs . Kiplinger also talked about how Americans would demand that the government do something whenever things go wrong, but the government "would probably make matters worse". A prime example of this is the now passed housing bailout bill .

Beyond personal overconsumption, Kiplinger wrote about the excessive borrowing of the government. America is already a country that is operating on debt that has to be paid by many future generations. Ironically, the citizens still want lower taxes and also more services, and the government simply grows larger with each passing moment. Kiplinger pointed out that elected politicians who want to control spending are "as rare as the ivory-billed woodpecker". I think that means that the national debt will continue  to grow  as long as Americans continue to demand something out of nothing and politicians continue to fulfill promises with our descendants' money.

Finally, I agree wholeheartedly with Kiplinger's assertion that when something goes wrong, people naturally lay blame on others and do not evaluate their own actions. For America to remain globally competitive in the future Americans must step up to the plate and stop the downward spiral of debt starting from their own households to the highest echelons of government. Each individual does not have to change very much to make a big difference as a whole and secure the financial health of a nation.

What do you think? Are you your own worst enemy in managing your finances?

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Guest's picture

How can we remain globally competitive with Chinese slave wage workers earning 50 cents an hour working 12 hour shifts six days a week? The real enemy isn't us or our government. The real enemy is Communist style capitalism.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

If you believe that China is your enemy, then consider that if Americans didn't buy so much stuff they don't need then factories in China wouldn't need to hire so many people and make all of this stuff. Here's a satirical article from The Onion that illustrates my point:


Additionally, America's exports are currently very different from China's. America's major exports are more along the lines of high technology, and not things such as plastic dinosaurs. So the field of competition is still quite different. Additionally, those factory workers in China are creating wealth for many American corporations who in turn invest their proceeds in higher paying jobs such as management and research back here in the United States.

Another important fact is that China is the biggest creditor to the United States government.  So technically without the Chinese, the President may not get paid. 

Sure, you can blame the Chinese for everything, but that wouldn't solve anything.

Guest's picture

I agree wholeheartedly with the author. The enemy is U.S., both the populi and the gubmint. The elected officials are continually bribed by upwards of 40,000 lobbyist and the electorate, by and large appear to be a bunch of brats screaming: "but I want it NOW!!!" (shades of Willy Wonka!).

Guest's picture

Our problems are not due to China or any other country. We have been thinking short-term for years, spending our money on houses bigger than we can afford, cars bigger than we can afford and a government bigger than we can afford. We complain about paying taxes at the same time we expect government to give us a full range of services AND solve all our problems.

We've gotten in the habit of putting everything "on the cuff." If you want something but don't have the money, charge it! Fighting a war while lowering taxes...no problem, just borrow the money from other countries. So now, China is the largest creditor nation in the world (they have more people owing them money than anyone else) and the largest debtor nation is the U.S. For the last decade, we should have been hip-deep in a crash course to develop self-sustaining energy sources, but why bother when there was plenty of cheap oil? Just a little bit of long term thought would have shown that we would run out sooner than later, but our national motto was "What? Me worry?" As long as the Dow kept going up and we had enough credit to buy the things we couldn't afford, we didn't care.

Well, we'd better wake up now. We'd better start investing, instead of spending every dime we have and then some. People who are working to waste less and save more have realized this.
But we'd better ALL start making sacrifices now to pull ourselves out of this hole, while we still can....or day after tomorrow, we're going to wake up to find ourselves a third-rate, debtor nation populated by has-beens. Don't think it can't happen. History is full of examples, from Egypt to Rome to Imperial Russia to the British Empire. We need to get to work, start saving, start sacrificing....now.

Guest's picture
Liz Bermudez

I agree with Cathy 100%. Just as we have to make choices with our personal budget--- many times it means not buying or doing what we want but what we must do --- we have to do the same with the national budget. I consider myself a progressive, so I would like to see programs that (i) help the disinfranchised, (ii) are environmentally "green", and (iii) invest heavily in education. If everyone, and I mean everyone, including corporations, paid their fair share of the tax burden we could not only have a balanced budget but also improve everyone's standard of living.

We, Americans, can accomplish anything we truly want.

Guest's picture

I agree completely with the above poster. We only think short-term and use a band-aid when surgery is needed.

Guest's picture

Your country is now facing the prospect of millions losing their homes, their jobs, their retirement savings, their health insurance, and their livelihoods. What will the government do to help the victims of economic mismanagement, to provide health insurance, and to restart the economy? Is it really more important to spend billions each week on the occupation of Iraq?

So far,your government hasn't done much. The stimulus package now taking effect, at about one percent of GDP and much of it likely to be saved, is quite small. The major legislation that Congress is considering for the housing crisis would mainly bail out lenders and investors while doing little for most underwater homeowners.

While I understand that individuals are responsible for their own financial situation, the effect of government policies can tremendously make or break a person's overall financial condition.

Fix My Personal Finance

Guest's picture

...And possibly, in some cases, the economy it deserves too. America's national cult is one of convenience and instant gratification. The ultimate physical driver of all this has been cheap oil. But there has been a very powerful abstract driver as well: culture. We are (as a whole) arrogant, lazy, obtuse, and have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement. The first commenter perfectly illustrates your point about blaming others rather than looking in the mirror. It's always someone else's fault; someone else should be cleaning up the mess we made. Our founding fathers and mothers would be ashamed of what we've done with their vision and their sacrifices. Heck, even our great-grandparents would probably feel the same.

While I mostly agree with Cathy, I'm not entirely sure that investing in the shell game that is our stock market is the right way to go right now. I'm more interested in "investing" by 1. lowering my debt (just mortgage for me), 2. learning real skills that will support some quality of life if the whole house of cards comes tumbling down in my lifetime, (which, by the way, I consider likely,) and 3. getting fruit and nut trees and perennial vegetables planted now so that they'll be producing a few years down the road.

I never thought I'd see eye to eye with survivalists of any stripe. I suppose the end of the petroleum era is forcing many of us to reconsider many aspects of our lives. As well it should.

Guest's picture

Hey, I'm planting peach trees! (How crazy is it to import fruit and vegetables from South America, and buy WATER from Fiji?)

Guest's picture
Canadian girl

I agree with the post and a lot of the comments. Although, I get a little stuck on the "blame others" point, because so much of Canada's economy and culture is tied to the US. Americans screw up with their money management on a grand scale, and we (and I'm sure a lot of other countries too) are suffering because of it. So in some ways we do blame the US.

But the economy in the US and Canada is what it is, and blaming the governments doesn't help us much on a day to day basis. I think it's up to us to learn how to better manage our finances and to learn to curb our materialistic and consumptive habits. The government can't do that for us, but I think it's the best path to financial security for all of us.

Guest's picture

The "mortgage crisis" and resulting economic downturn is another clear indication to those of in the US that the party is over. No longer can our citizens and governments continue to mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren.

The article and this post are right to the point. Most of us simply can't afford those mcmansions and hummers, both that clog our streets. We need to live way within our means, and take more time to smell the roses.

Please keep up the good work. It's important for our future.

Guest's picture

I liken the whole situation to one of my kids spilling his juice, standing there teary eyed blaming his brother in the other room. While juice runs off the table and onto the floor. Stop whining and grab a towel!! If we could all get a grip on our own four walls we can lessen our dependance exponentially. From mortagage loans to world oil it all starts in our own homes.

Guest's picture

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve.
"Since you are all such good customers", he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20". Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"
They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.
"I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, "but he got $10!"
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!"
"That's true!!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.
David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

Guest's picture

This article reminders me of why I supported Ron Paul. This governement spends way too much and can print it's own money out of thin air. If only we would cut spending across the board (including on nation building John McCain), we would be on the road to recovery.

Guest's picture
S. Carvalho

Dr. Kamerschen is NOT the author of the above post or story, commonly emailed around as "Tax Cuts: A Simple Lesson in Economics." Additionally, he does NOT know who wrote it.

Here's his university page stating that.

Guest's picture

There's seems to be a bit of confusion about what I meant in my previous post. When I was speaking of "investing" instead of spending, I wasn't particularly speaking chunking money into the stock market.

I meant that we need to invest in our schools, our communities, in reducing both personal and governmental debt, and especially, as a nation, in finding alternate ways to fuel our country. For the last decade, we've been giving tentative subsidies to alternative energy start up companies, then yanking those at the worst possible moment to instead provide tax breaks and subsidies to the oil companies. This is insane. Why would anyone take the risk, knowing that they are competing with huge, established companies with the added advantage of all the tax breaks and subsidies our current administration can bully Congress into providing?

We need, all of us, to cut debt. We need to quit expecting our schools to raise our children and instead help them teach our children, or we will lose out to China and India in the race to create new technologies. We need to get out of this mistaken, incompetently run war in Iraq that has chewed our armed forces to pieces and put us in hock to the Chinese. We need to grit our teeth, roll up our sleeves, quit complaining and start making the sacrifices needed.

As for the "tax" story submitted by Guest, it's exactly the kind of simplistic silly propaganda that the "haves" always use to squelch the protests of the "have nots." Please, give us actual facts, not "10 guys in a beer hall" anecdotes. Trickle down economics? Think about it; 90% of the citizenry get a trickle, 10% get a lake! Money spent is money spent and will stimulate the economy, whether it's a multi-millionaire buying his third vacation home or a thousand sets of parents buying shoes for their kids. The idea that cutting taxes for the rich is the perfect way to keep our economy strong is insane. I'm with Warren Buffet; it makes no sense at all that his tax rate is less than that of his $60,000 a year secretary.

And "Guest"....

I sign my name.
Cathyrn Sykes

Guest's picture

Although Americans consume -way- too much and must bear some responsibility for woes they are experiencing within their own four walls (such as credit card debt), laying the entire blame for the current economic crisis at their feet is like blaming a cancer victim for getting sick. Although cancer victims may contribute to getting sick (too much fatty food, too little exercise, poor genetics, etc.), what this forum is doing is overlooking how much of the disease is being caused by the chemical factory illegally dumping toxins into the drinking water supply while the local water department agent takes bribes to fudge the weekly safety test. The cancer victim pays his taxes and expects the water agent to do his job, but the agent serves another master.

I am a family law attorney (and a tightwad) who spends every day examining and litigating the finances of middle-class couples in financial trouble. Most marriages fail due to financial pressure. A decade ago, it was usually the immature, the selfish, and the foolish who came through my door and I would thwack them over the head and hand them a copy of the "Tightwad Gazette." Today, however, the overwhelming majority of clients are hardworking, fiscally responsible middle class people who can't make ends meet because the deck is stacked against them every step of the way. Most don't have a lot of debt or excessive lifestyles (even by my boil-the-bones/shop at thrift shops standards), they simply don't have enough money left over after paying the hefty mortgage on their modest 3-bedroom ranches, daycare, medical insurance and taxes to buy food or energy. Now, I pulled myself up from poverty by my bootstraps two decades ago through hard work, frugality, and education, so what's changed? Why are so many financially responsible people simply not making it?

Curious, I picked up my husbands MBA books which quote lots of erudite economists and legal precedents in support of free trade/low tax/pro business polices. Now, I'm no economist (though I minored in business as an undergrad, took 4 semesters of accounting, and originally studied to be a corporate lawyer), but I've extensively studied Constutitional law and international business law. I quickly realized 90% of the legal precedent/pro-founding-fathers crap being fed to MBA students is false. Bogus, not true, quoted out of context and often an out-right lie. Curious as to what else is not true I followed quotes given in support of free trade back to the sources (such as incomplete quotes from books used to justify free-trade such as "The World is Flat" which really promotes investment in education, not unfettered outsourcing), back to a secondary source which originates from a pro-business think tank in Chicago in the 1980's. These secondary sources deviate DRASTICALLY from the economic giants whose theories guided the US economy up until the 1980s, such as Adam Smith and Alexandar Hamilton. Don't believe me? Go to the source and read it for yourself...

Beginning with Ronald Reagan in 1980, things changed. Reagan came in, canceled promising alternative energy grants started by Carter (oil companies bought the patents for pennies on the dollar), and used the threat of those technologies to cut an unholy alliance with Saudi Arabia to artificially reduce energy prices (you have to remember that back then, we were the only real consumer of any significance of oil). We won the arms rice against Russia in large part because, deprived of their main source of revenue (natural gas-Gazprom), they had no manufacturing base of their own to support the arms race (sound like the US today?). Over the next 8 years Reagan gutted consumer protection laws fought for by Consumers Union and Public Citizen, practically eliminated meaningful oversight by the EPA, FDA, USDA, etc., reduced IRS auditing of corporations in favor of auditing average middle-class Americans earning less than $30,000 per year, and practically eliminated restrictions on who controlled media outlets and gutted oversight by the FCC. He also loosed control of lobbiest access to Congress. Today, fewer than 8 media conglomerates control 99% of what the average person learns about and who is their biggest advertiser controls what news you learn about. The media, 1st Amendment watchdog of the founding fathers, is owned by corporate America.

Clinton professed to represent the middle, but he worsened the situation by eliminating lending restrictions on banks (source of the current mortgage crisis), instituting so-called "welfare reform" which, though needed, went too far, approved free trade agreements giving multinational corporations unfettered access to our markets, enacted laws which allowed these corporations to shift their earnings overseas to avoid paying taxes, further gutted consumer protection laws, and passed pro-corporate bankruptcy laws. As for Bush, I know you all have his number so I won't mention him, but on September 12th he told Americans they could fight terrorism by going to the mall.

Fed a steady diet of corporate-controlled advertising which manipulates quirks of the human brain (read Jerry Mander's "4 Arguments for the Elimination of Telivision) to increase consumer spending and pro-corporate news, is it any wonder the average American is a mess? Sure, they're stupid for continuing to stare at the boob-tube and not noticing that they get the urge to order out a pizza after the TV ad, but hey, most people just don't have as high IQ's as the average tightwad (read "The Bell Curve"), especially as many of todays consumers are from the post-Reagan/cut-education-to-the-bone generation. It's not that the more aware people aren't writing to their Congressman demanding solutions, the problem is that those Congressmen aren't listening because they're beholden to their corporate sponsors.

STOP telling people they're stupid and it's all their own fault. A) it's only 25%-30% their fault; B) the minute you tell someone it's all their fault they stop listening to you; and C), the orginator of this article is quoting a non-credible source. If you want to change things, take clueless consumers by the hand, gently explain the situation to them and what they can do to fix it in a non-blaming way, then unleash them on Congress to throw the bastards out of office. Educate people that they have been brainwashed and teach them there is another way to live. You can be the smartest, holiest hermit in your cave on the mountaintop, but if you don't come down and mingle with the masses once in a while to set a good example, you're useless. Jesus didn't preach from heaven, he came down to earth and preached to PEOPLE.

Guest's picture

Government's the problem.

Even if you do as I did and save at least 1/3 of your income over the last decade, nothing I could do stopped the government from pursuing policies that cut the value of those saved dollars nearly by HALF over the same period.

Sure, I'm close to hittin the magic $1 million net worth, but what's the point?

I should have bought that McMansion instead and lived it up rather than pile up increasingly devalued dollars.

It's like the 1970s all over again - little incentive to save in dollar-denominated assets.

I'm shipping my money overseas into more stable currencies in hopes I don't lose any more purchasing power.

Guest's picture
David C

I'm with Anna. What a shame. My wife and I live FRUGALLY. We bought a house as a tax relief and an investment. This investment was made with cautious lending statigies based on fixed interest loans; the same as many of our fellow homeowners. So I'm not real hep on hearing how we screwed up. I can only control my household. I cannot control our corporations or govermental leaders from running our economy into the ditch and forcing good people to take lower paying jobs. I'd really like to reap the benefits of our investment someday as I am sure all of us would. We all better vote!

Guest's picture

Anna_esq is a prime example of people that dont want to take responsibility for their actions and even worse, as a lawyers, she convinces others to play the blame game as well. It also amazes me that someone could say that Kiplinger is a not credible source. Ha!

I love the quote by David K, even if its not his own, it makes a great point. I think people would start thinking differently about government spending if we had something like the Fair Tax.

Guest's picture

Kiplingers is owned by one of those "8 media conglomerates" mentioned in my last post which have become mouthpieces for large corporations. They are "credible" on economic issues only in the sense that they are "credible" for furthering the big business/free trade/low corporate taxes/Chicago school view of economics. If you happen to represent (or be heavily invested in) big corporations, then Kiplingers reinforces your world view. If you are not part of that 10% elite, then that world view ignores the other side of the story (you know, the one where the less privileged 90% have had their standard of living knocked back to the stone age).

When weighing ANY source of information, you have to ask yourself "what is the agenda of this source?" EVERYBODY has an agenda. Jesus had an agenda (opposition to the excesses of Rome). The question then becomes "in light of this agenda, can this source be considered credible to a reasonably prudent man?" The reasonably prudent man lives at the 50% mark of society, middle class, hard working, 3-bedroom ranch, 2 cars, a modest IRA, and 2.4 children. If you are a reasonably prudent man, Kiplingers is not credible because you are part of that 90% left behind in the past 2 decades.

As for claiming I'm "blaming somebody else for my problems," I don't really have any. I'm in the 10% doing fine and scan green/frugal living columns to get ideas for the town alternative energy board I serve on. We go into senior centers and schools to promote "green" living and people adopt "green" when it saves them money. "Green/frugal" helps me remember my modest roots so I can relate to my clients and resist the urge to consume. It's not fair that, if I die tomorrow, my kids won't have the same economic opportunities that I had 20 years ago. We're also one incident away from the food and energy shortages that brought the Soviet Union to it's knees in the late 1980's (read "The Coming Economic Collapse"). I don't need cheap towels from Walmart. I need to feel secure that if something happens to me, my kids can still live the American dream. That's my "agenda." As for resentment against the legal profession, everybody is welcome to their opinion, but I do clearly recall this forum has a "no personal attacks" policy.

Guest's picture

You're right on Xin, but I have to say that the cultural battle is lost for America...at least for the time being. Our culture has softened to the point of complacency and entitled dependence. Our government structure merely reflects this, and as a quasi-democracy, there is little chance to reverse course. You cannot dole out a welfare benefit and then ask the recipients to vote to rescind it.

Politics has devolved to the lowest common denominator where the victor is determined by who promises most to voters; it's a roundabout way of buying votes with taxpayer money - odd how politicians are so generous with funds that are not their own!

It's sad to say but America is "over the hill" in regards to the lifecycle of civilizations.

Guest's picture

It was very blunt, which is why I think that it got so much of a reaction, but it also states some great truths. I don't, however, think that all the things that got our country into this situation are bad- it's economics that there will be up and down turns. Just stay the course and it will go up again.


Guest's picture

I wholly agree with Rob. We are at the point where everyone believes that they should get something for nothing, and should get paid doing it. Now, I may be a "youngster" in his 20's but when I look back at the economic state of yesteryear as compared to today, the one thing thats missing is loyalty in corporations. Back in the day, it seems to me that corporations loved money, as most do today, but they loved America first. Today, it seems their loyalty lays with the highest bidder, whether that be the US, or the Saudi's, or China, or any other country. They could care less if this country falls, they have billions invested in other markets that will help them cope.

Americans, too, have lost their loyalty to this country. While the politicians and the "gubmint" may be corrupt, we shouldn't lose faith in this country as a whole. Most of the American people are not the politicians, CEO's, Chairmen of the Boards. They're our next door neighbors, the garbage collecters, the Mom and Pop store owners, people we see and interact with everyday. It is in them we should put our trust, and should work together with them, no matter what color, religious beliefs, etc., to build this country to its former glory. All I ever seem to hear today is how bad this country is, or how Americans are stupid, fat, lazy, arrogant, etc. I believe that we may have made many bad choices, as anyone does and will in the future, but we shouldn't put our selves down because of it. We have the ability to get up, shake the dirt off, and try again. We need to realize our mistakes, band together and fight for what we believe in. We don't need to give up on America, we to give up in believing that everyone else will pick us back up when we fall. Because if we don't, as Rob said, we could be going the way of the Roman, Grecian, Persian, Babylonian, civilizations of times past

Guest's picture
David Marshall

A trust betrayed? Gone for veterans are the check and balances within and between our branches of government that so many have died for! Please hold your U.S. House and Senate members responsible. Thank you.

In 1994 the Chief Judge of Congress’s 1988 established Court of Veterans Appeals stated that the, "Constitution, Statutes and Regulations" are "policy freely ignored" by both "The Veterans Health Administration" (VHA) and the Secretary of the DVA, i.e., the "STATE OF COURT" transcript PARAGRAPH 9 with Congress’s law of the land U.S. CODE, TITLE 38, SECTIONS (§) 511 and § 7252. Decisions of the Secretary; finality; REFERENCES [1], [2] & [3]. This is a no teeth Congressional LEGISLATIVE Court that captures veterans within the Executive Branch’s Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). Lost is a before military service right to a with teeth, independent from Congress and the DVA, Judicial Branch Court.[2] Fifteen (15) years after the Chief Judge's statements the Secretary of the DVA and his laymen "initial adjudicators" still are not held responsible for their "freely ignored" and medically brainless "Schedule of Ratings for Disabilities" decisions.

A couple of examples of the "initial adjudicators" to date "freely ignored" are this veterans 1957 DVA Physician’s resultant USAF Physician's, "MPerR PERMANENT" "SURGEON HQ ARRC JUN 25 ‘58 MEDICALLY DISQUALIFIED FOR MILITARY SERVICE" of from 1952 to 1956! Then the layman adjudicator’s brainless 6/27/96 Supplemental Statement Of Case (SSOC) no "...competent medical evidence...". After an ongoing 19 years in the DVA administrative process the veteran receives a 100% disability. To date there is still no recognition of the 1957 DVA physician resultant 1958 USAF physician "disqualified"!

REFERENCES (Emphasis added throughout) with comments:


--------------------PARAGRAPH 9 of 16 in "STATE OF COURT" TRANSCRIPT records DVA laymen ignoring medical opinion without veteran recourse.-----------------------------

"I believe my message is clear. There is, I suggest, no system with judicial review which has within it a component part free to function in its own way, in its own time and with one message to those it disappoints -- take an appeal. That is, I am afraid, what we have today in many of the Department's Agencies of Original Jurisdiction -- that is AOJs -- around the country. Neither the Court, through the Board, the Board, nor the General Counsel has direct and meaningful control over the Agencies of Original Jurisdiction. Indeed, it is also clear that the VHA -- the Veterans Health Administration -- ignores specific directives to provide medical opinions as directed. And this is resulting in unconscionable delays. Let us examine judicial review. Remember, the Court and the Board do not make policy, the Secretary and Congress do. The Court simply identifies error made below by a failure to adhere, in individual cases, to the Constitution, statutes, and regulations which themselves reflect policy -- policy freely ignored by many initial adjudicators whose attitude is, "I haven't been told by my boss to change. If you don't like it -- appeal it." The complete 16 paragraph "STATE OF COURT" transcript is available on request. Previously at, and now missing from the Chief Judges and state_of_court sites: www.goodnet.com/~heads/nebeker and www.firebase.net/state_of_court_brief.htm

The top medically ignorant "boss" is Congress’s confirmed "Secretary" of the DVA.

AND THE CONGRESS’S "policy freely ignored" UNITED STATES CODE law of the land, take away from Veterans:

§ 511. Decisions of the Secretary; finality

"(a) The Secretary shall decide all questions of law and fact necessary to a decision by the Secretary under a law that affects the provision of benefits by the Secretary to veterans or the dependents or survivors of veterans. Subject to subsection (b), THE DECISION OF THE SECRETARY AS TO ANY SUCH QUESTION SHALL BE FINAL AND CONCLUSIVE AND MAY NOT BE REVIEWED BY ANY OTHER OFFICIAL OR BY ANY COURT, whether by an action in the nature of mandamus or otherwise."

THEREFORE, NO COURT REVIEW OF THE MEDICALLY UNTRAINED DVA laymen and "Secretary" "schedule of ratings for disabilities" decisions as proven by:

§ 7252. Jurisdiction; finality of decisions

"(b) Review in the Court shall be on the record of proceedings before the Secretary and the Board. The extent of the review shall be limited to the scope provided in section 7261 of this title. THE COURT MAY NOT REVIEW THE SCHEDULE OF RATINGS FOR DISABILITIES adopted under section 1155 of this title or any action of the Secretary in adopting or revising that schedule."

Guest's picture

Kudos for a very well thought of content! The despair that we are experiencing is what several national debt elimination schemes bank on. I have to say we are still very fortunate that there are a lot of organizations that are devoted to helping us eliminate our debts.

Keep the blog coming ;)