“Screwed”: We will eventually be Greece if we don’t change our path

Why in the world would any American politician think they can help figure out the financial crisis overwhelming Greece and the European Union? After all, many of the problems in Greece echo those in America. And yet, President Obama inserted himself into the bailout talks. What kind of solutions could he really offer? Stu broke down the parallels between Greece and America on TV last night, and warned America to wake up before we end up in the same place as Greece

STU: Glenn has been going on and on about Greece for at least as long as I can remember. It’s one of his most passionate topics, I’d say. Finally, these morons are reaping what they sowed. Could these people be any dumber? I mean, beyond their own resources they’ve been spending, borrowing money, they had no earthly way of paying back, and increasing government handouts even after it became clear that they were crippling the country.

Greece owes various creditors about $271 billion, with Germany being the largest. So, how did they get into this mess? There are a few culprits, many of which are cited in the book Boomerang by Michael Lewis. They pay government officials almost three times as much as the average private-sector job.

An example of this overspending can be found in the national railroad. It pulls down about €100 million a year. It seems like a pretty good business, but they have to pay out about 400 million in payroll, plus another 300 million in other expenses. The average salary for a railroad employee, €65,000 a year about, 71,000 bucks. As one businessman pointed out, it would actually be cheaper for the government to scrap the railroad altogether and just pay for every Greek citizen to take cabs.

Public schools, Greece’s are among the lowest ranked in all of Europe, yet they have four times as many teachers per pupil than the rest of the best schools, which, by the way, the number one is Finland, and they’re four times as much. The school system is so bad that Greeks typically pay for tutors so that their kids actually get some learning done.

Greece is plagued with phony job creation programs such as 270 people that were paid to digitize the photographs of Greek public lands—sounds wonderful. The problem is they didn’t hire anyone with any digital photography experience at all, nobody.

The retirement age in Greece is insanely young, 55 for men and 50 for women. Wow, I thought Europe was so progressive. What is up with all that sexism there? This is at the heart of Greece’s struggles. This early retirement goes not just for police officers and firefighters, but anyone with an “arduous job,” that is including hairdressers and radio announcers. Maybe Glenn should move to Greece. He is approaching 55. Musicians even, everybody basically. So many people are retiring young and living longer, the austerity payouts are ballooning.

Government healthcare is wildly inefficient in Greece. Before the crisis, it was really just a mess. Citizens had to give medical staff cash gifts in order to make sure they’d get good treatment. While all this was going on, while everyone dipped their grimy fingers into the government pot, no one was counting how much was going in, nor how much was going out. By the time someone decided to take a breather from the spending orgy, the damage was irreparable. The debt to GDP ratio had expanded to a devastating 177%.

Greece’s unfunded liabilities are 875% of GDP. Federal spending in Greece is close to 50% of GDP. Even with all this information, people still went to the polls and voted against cuts in spending. Liberal outlets applauded the vote, referring to austerity cuts as harsh. People in Greece, of course, rejoiced at the news of the vote. I think it was 61-38 or something like that. They were happy to get another far left government to keep higher taxes, spending, and handouts in place.

What’s going to be harsh is when the day of economic reckoning arrives and they realize they really couldn’t afford any of this. This is how you destroy a country, not save it.

Here’s the best part about Greece, Pres. Barack Obama has inserted himself into the bailout talks. I can’t wait for this. Barack Obama is trying to give Greece financial advice. Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, meet pot.

Let’s go back through that list of things that helped destroy Greece again. This is going to be fun. Federal workers in Greece earn more than private citizens. Well, US federal workers earn 37% more than private-sector employees. Greece has an unprofitable state rail system. Amtrak loses over $1.4 billion every year. The biggest waste is being in the 15 little-traveled routes that cost $600 million to keep operational for no freaking reason at all.

Greece overspends on education despite failing schools. Well, the US Department of Education is $77.4 billion and increasing every single year, despite the fact that we rank 17th in the world in education. Greece has all those phony job programs. Could I remind you of the stimulus? That cost American taxpayers at least $278,000 per job with some estimates having that well over $1 million per job.

Greece’s retirement age is far too young, 55. America’s is 65. That’s a little better, but it hasn’t been changed since Social Security was invented. Even the life expectancies have dramatically improved. Greece’s government healthcare is crippling the nation. ObamaCare—I don’t think I need to go any further than that, but as you know, it’s already a mess. It’s costing us a fortune. It couldn’t even get the freaking website right to sign up to pay for it.

Greece’s debt is 177% of GDP. We’re at 101%, so we’re close. It’s worse though than France and Spain, and Spain is dealing with a 25% unemployment rate. Unfunded liabilities in Greece, 875% of GDP. In the US, it’s $90 trillion or about 500% of our GDP—not quite as bad as Greece but still terrible.

Federal spending in Greece, about 50% of GDP. America, it’s only 20.5, so we’re doing great there, and when factoring in state and local governments, of course, it’s more like 35 and is projected to rapidly rise. The economic disaster playing out in Greece is the American story in the short-term future. Our situation is not as bad as Greece’s, but we’re on the same trajectory. We will eventually get there if we keep making the same fatal mistakes as viewing austerity as harsh.

It may be harsh at times. There’s tough choices to come, but it’s necessary, and if someone in the room doesn’t have the courage to step away from the spending orgy and count the debits and credits, we’re all screwed.

On Wednesday's TV show, Glenn Beck sat down with radio show host, author, political commentator, and film critic, Michael Medved.

Michael had an interesting prediction for the 2020 election outcome: a brokered convention by the DNC will usher in former First Lady Michelle Obama to run against President Donald Trump.

Watch the video below to hear why he's making this surprising forecast:

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On Thursday's "Glenn Beck Radio Program," BlazeTV's White House correspondent Jon Miller described the current situation in Virginia after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared a state of emergency and banned people carrying guns at Capitol Square just days before a pro-Second-Amendment rally scheduled on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Jon told Glenn that Gov. Northam and the Virginia Legislature are "trying to deprive the people of their Second Amendment rights" but the citizens of Virginia are "rising up" to defend their constitutional rights.

"I do think this is the flashpoint," Jon said. "They [Virginia lawmakers] are saying, 'You cannot exercise your rights ... and instead of trying to de-escalate the situation, we are putting pressure. We're trying to escalate it and we're trying to enrage the citizenry even more'."

Glenn noted how Gov. Northam initially blamed the threat of violence from Antifa for his decision to ban weapons but quickly changed his narrative to blame "white supremacists" to vilify the people who are standing up for the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

"What he's doing is, he's making all all the law-abiding citizens of Virginia into white supremacists," Glenn said.

"Sadly, that's exactly right," Jon replied. "And I think he knows exactly what he's doing."

Watch the video to catch more of the conversation below:

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Ryan: Trump Louisiana Finale

Photo by Jim Dale

Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

At the end of Trump rallies, I would throw on my Carhartt jacket, sneak out of the press area, then blend in with everyone as they left, filing out through swinging doors.

Often, someone held the door open for me. Just 30 minutes earlier, the same person had most likely had most likely hissed at me for being a journalist. And now they were Sunday smiles and "Oh, yes, thank you, sir" like some redneck concierge.

People flooded out of the arena with the stupidity of a fire drill mishap, desperate to survive.

The air smacked you as soon as you crossed the threshold, back into Louisiana. And the lawn was a wasteland of camping chairs and coolers and shopping bags and to-go containers and soda cans and articles of clothing and even a few tents.

In Monroe, in the dark, the Trump supporters bobbled over mounds of waste like elephants trying to tiptoe. And the trash was as neutral to them as concrete or grass. They plodded over it because it, an object, had somehow gotten in their way.

It did not matter that they were responsible for this wreckage.Out in the sharp-edged moonlight, rally-goers hooted and yapped and boogied and danced, and the bbq food truck was all smoke and paper plates.

They were even more pumped than they had been before the rally, like 6,000 eight year olds who'd been chugging Mountain Dew for hours. Which made Donald Trump the father, the trooper, God of the Underworld, Mr. Elite, Sheriff on high horse, the AR-15 sticker of the family.

Ritualistic mayhem, all at once. And, there in Louisiana, Trump's supporters had gotten a taste of it. They were all so happy. It bordered on rage.

Still, I could not imagine their view of America. Worse, after a day of strange hostilities, I did not care.

My highest priority, my job as a reporter, was to care. To understand them and the world that they inhabit. But I did not give a damn and I never wanted to come back.

Worst of all, I would be back. In less than a week.

Was this how dogs felt on the 4th of July? Hunched in a corner while everyone else gets drunk and launches wailing light into the sky? configurations of blue and red and white.

It was 10:00 p.m. and we'd been traveling since 11:00 a.m., and we still had 5 hours to go and all I wanted was a home, my home, any home, just not here, in the cold sweat of this nowhere. Grey-mangled sky. No evidence of planes or satellites or any proof of modern-day. Just century-old bridges that trains shuffled over one clack at a time.

And casinos, all spangles and neon like the 1960s in Las Vegas. Kitchy and dumb, too tacky for lighthearted gambling. And only in the nicer cities, like Shreveport, which is not nice at all.

And swamp. Black water that rarely shimmered. Inhabited by gadflies and leeches and not one single fish that was pretty.

Full of alligators, and other killing types. The storks gnawing on frogs, the vultures never hungry. The coyotes with nobody to stop them and so much land to themselves. The roaches in the wild, like tiny wildebeests.

Then, the occasional deer carcass on the side of the road, eyes splayed as if distracted, tongue out, relaxed but empty. The diseased willows like skeletons in hairnets. The owls that never quit staring. A million facets of wilderness that would outlive us all.

Because Nature has poise. It thrives and is original.

Because silence is impossible. Even in an anechoic chamber, perfectly soundproofed, you can hear your own heartbeat, steady as a drum. A never-ending war.

I put "Headache" by Grouper on repeat as we glided west. We were deadlocked to asphalt, rubber over tarface.

And I thought about lines from a Rita Dove poem titled "I have been a stranger in a strange land"

He was off cataloging the universe, probably,
pretending he could organize
what was clearly someone else's chaos.

Wasn't that exactly what I was doing? Looking for an impossible answer, examining every single accident, eager for meaning? telling myself, "If it happens and matters the next year, in America, I want to be there, or to know what it means. I owe it to whoever cares to listen."

Humans are collectors and I had gone overboard.

Because maybe this wasn't even my home. These landmarks, what did they mean? Was I obvious here? When I smiled, did I trick them into believing that I felt some vague sense of approval? Or did my expressions betray me?

Out in all that garbage-streaked emptiness — despite the occasional burst of passing halogen — I couldn't tell if everything we encountered was haunted or just old, derelict, broken, useless. One never-ending landfill.

Around those parts, they'd made everything into junk. Homes. Roads. Glass. Nature. Life itself, they made into junk.

I cringed as we passed yet another deer carcass mounded on the side of the road.

As written in Job 35:11,

Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?

Nobody. Look at nature and you feel something powerful. Look at an animal, in all of its untamable majesty, and you capture a deep love, all swept up in the power of creation. But, here, all I saw were poor creatures who people had slammed into and kept driving. Driving to where? For what reason? What exactly was so important that they left a trail of dead animals behind them?

So I crossed myself dolorously and said an "Our Father" and recited a stanza from Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart"

you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.

Out here, nothing but darkness. Needing some light, by God. Give me something better than a Moon that hides like an underfed coward.

Jade told me about some of the more traumatic things she'd seen while working at the State Fair.

"Bro, they pull roaches out of the iced lemonade jugs and act like nothing happened."

"All right but what about the corn dogs?"

"You do not want to know, little bro."

She looked around in the quiet. "Back in the day, the Louisiana Congress refused to raise the drinking age from 18 to 21," she said. "They didn't want to lose all that drunk gambler money. So the federal government cut off funding to highways."

We glided through moon-pale landscape for an hour before I realized what she had meant. That there weren't any light poles or billboards along the road. Nothing to guide us or distract us. Just us, alone. And it felt like outer space had collapsed, swallowed us like jellybeans.

Like two teenagers playing a prank on the universe.

In the cozy Subaru Crosstrek, in the old wild night, brimming with the uncertainty of life and the nonchalance of failure, we paraded ourselves back to Dallas. Alive in the river silence that follows us everywhere.

New installments come Mondays and Thursdays. Next, the Iowa caucuses. Check out my Twitter. Email me at kryan@blazemedia.com

The Iowa primary is just around the corner, and concerns of election interference from the last presidential election still loom. Back in 2016, The Associated Press found that a majority of U.S. elections systems still use Windows 7 as an operating system, making them highly susceptible to bugs and errors. And last year, a Mississippi voter tried multiple times to vote for the candidate of his choice, but the system continuously switched his vote to the other candidate. It's pretty clear: America's voting systems desperately need an update.

That's where blockchain voting comes in.

Blockchain voting is a record-keeping system that's 100% verifiable and nearly impossible to hack. Blockchain, the newest innovation in cybersecurity, is set to grow into a $20 billion industry by 2025. Its genius is in its decentralized nature, distributing information throughout a network of computers, requiring would-be hackers to infiltrate a much larger system. Infiltrating multiple access points spread across many computers requires a significant amount of computing power, which often costs more than hackers expect to get in return.

Blockchain voting wouldn't allow for many weak spots. For instance, Voatz, arguably the leading mobile voting platform, requires a person to take a picture of their government-issued ID and a picture of themselves before voting (a feature, of course, not present in vote-by-mail, where the only form of identity verification is a handwritten signature, which is easily forgeable). Voters select their choices and hit submit. They then receive an immediate receipt of their choices via email, another security feature not present in vote-by-mail, or even in-person voting. And because the system operates on blockchain technology, it's nearly impossible to tamper with.

Votes are then tabulated, and the election results are published, providing a paper trail, which is a top priority for elections security experts.

The benefits of blockchain voting can't be dismissed. Folks can cast their vote from the comfort of their homes, offices, etc., vastly increasing the number of people who can participate in the electoral process. Two to three-hour lines at polling places, which often deter voters, would become significantly diminished.

Even outside of the voting increase, the upsides are manifold. Thanks to the photo identification requirements, voter fraud—whether real or merely suspected—would be eliminated. The environment would win, too, since we'd no longer be wasting paper on mail-in ballots. Moreover, the financial burden on election offices would be alleviated, because there's decreased staff time spent on the election, saving the taxpayer money.

From Oregon to West Virginia, elections offices have already implemented blockchain voting, and the results have been highly positive. For example, the city of Denver utilized mobile voting for overseas voters in their 2019 municipal elections. The system was secure and free of technical errors, and participants reported that it was very user-friendly. Utah County used the same system for their 2019 primary and general elections. An independent audit revealed that every vote that was cast on the app was counted and counted correctly. These successful test cases are laying the groundwork for even larger expansions of the program in 2020.

With this vital switch, our elections become significantly more secure, accurate, and efficient. But right now, our election infrastructure is a sitting duck for manipulation. Our current lack of election integrity undermines the results of both local and national elections, fans the flames of partisanship, and zaps voter confidence in the democratic system. While there's never a silver bullet or quick fix to those kinds of things, blockchain voting would push us much closer to a solution than anything else.

Chris Harelson is the Executive Director at Prosperity Council and a Young Voices contributor.