Comment Of The Day: “Christmas Week Ethics Warm-Up, 12/21/2020: Clogging, Lying And Spinning”

Kaboom Red

As Humble Talent says up front, his Comment Of The Day has nothing to do with the post it is attached to, so I won’t even link to it. He wins the distinction by having the industry and curiosity to actually read a bill, which, so far at least, none of reporters of major news outlets I’ve monitored today have bothered to do. The result is, in addition to a Comment of the Day and service to readers, a KABOOM!:

Complete Tangent, sorry.

If there was ever a piece of legislation that perfectly encapsulates legislative retardation, a lack of self-awareness, and Olympic levels of pork barrel, it’s got to be this stimulus bill. They have, I wish I were kidding about this, but I’m not, they have legislated the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. It’s on page 5098 of this PDF:


(a)FINDINGS.—Congress finds the following:

(1)Tibetan Buddhism is practiced in many countries including Bhutan, India, Mongolia, Nepal, the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, and the United States, yet the Government of the People’s Republic of China has repeatedly insisted on its role in managing the selection of Tibet’s next spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, through actions such as those described in the ‘‘Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas’’ in 2007.

(2) On March 19, 2019, Chinese Ministry of Affairs spokesperson reiterated that the ‘‘reincarnation of living Buddhas including the Dalai Lama must comply with Chinese laws and regulations and follow religious rituals and historical conventions’’.

(3) The Government of the People’s Republic of China has interfered in the process of recognizing a successor or reincarnation of Tibetan Buddhist leaders, including in 1995 by arbitrarily detaining Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a 6-year old boy who was identified as the 11th Panchen Lama, and purporting to install its own candidate as the Panchen Lama.

(4) The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, issued a statement on September 24, 2011, explaining the traditions and spiritual precepts of the selection of Dalai Lamas, setting forth his views on the considerations and process for selecting his successor, and providing a response to the Chinese government’s claims that only the Chinese government has the ultimate authority in the selection process of the Dalai Lama.

(5) The 14th Dalai Lama said in his statement that the person who reincarnates has sole legitimate authority over where and how he or she takes rebirth and how that reincarnation is to be recognized and if there is a need for a 15th Dalai Lama to be recognized, then the responsibility shall primarily rest with the officers of the Dalai Lama’s Gaden Phodrang Trust, who will be informed by the written instructions of the 14th Dalai Lama.

(6) Since 2011, the 14th Dalai Lama has reiterated publicly on numerous occasions that decisions on the successions, emanations, or reincarnations of the Dalai Lama belongs to the Tibetan Buddhist faith community alone.

(7) On June 8, 2015, the United States House of Representatives unanimously approved House
3 Resolution 337 which calls on the United States Government to ‘‘underscore that government interference in the Tibetan reincarnation process is a violation of the internationally recognized right to religious freedom . . . and to highlight the fact that other countries besides China have long Tibetan Buddhist traditions, and that matters related to reincarnations in Tibetan Buddhism are of keen interest to Tibetan Buddhist populations worldwide’’.

(8) On April 25, 2018, the United States Senate unanimously approved Senate Resolution 429
14 which ‘‘expresses its sense that the identification and installation of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders, including a future 15th Dalai Lama, is a matter that should be determined solely within the Tibetan Buddhist faith community, in accordance with the inalienable right to religious freedom’’.

(9) The Department of State’s Report on Inter21 national Religious Freedom for 2018 reported on policies and efforts of the Government of the People’s Republic of China to exert control over the selection of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders, including reincarnate lamas, and stated that ‘‘[United States] officials underscored that decisions on the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama should be made solely by faith leaders.’’.

(b) STATEMENT OF POLICY.—It is the policy of the United States that—

(1) decisions regarding the selection, education, and veneration of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders are exclusively spiritual matters that should be made by the appropriate religious authorities within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and in the context of the will of practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism;

(2) the wishes of the 14th Dalai Lama, including any written instructions, should play a key role in the selection, education, and veneration of a future 15th Dalai Lama; and

(3) interference by the Government of the People’s Republic of China or any other government in the process of recognizing a successor or reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama and any future Dalai Lamas would represent a clear abuse of the right to religious freedom of Tibetan Buddhists and the Tibetan people.

(c) HOLDING CHINESE OFFICIALS RESPONSIBLE FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ABUSES TARGETING TIBETAN BUDDHISTS.—It is the policy of the United States to take all appropriate measures to hold accountable senior officials of the Government of the People’s Republic of China or the Chinese Communist Party who directly interfere with the identification and installation of the future 15th Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, successor to the 14th Dalai Lama, including by—

(1) imposing sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (22 U.S.C. 2656 note); and

(2) prohibiting admission to the United States under section 212(a)(2)(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(2)(G)).

(d) DEPARTMENT OF STATE PROGRAMMING TO PRO14 MOTE RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FOR TIBETAN BUDDHISTS.— Consistent with section 401 of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act (Public Law 114–281; 130 Stat. 1436), the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom should support efforts to protect and promote international religious freedom in China and for programs to protect Tibetan Buddhism in China and elsewhere.

21 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Christmas Week Ethics Warm-Up, 12/21/2020: Clogging, Lying And Spinning”

  1. And don’t get me wrong, I’m for almost anything that spits in the eye of CCP empire building, and that’s exactly what these sections are designed to do. But I don’t think people are going to take the legislation of foreign religions in a bill that’s ostensibly supposed to provide COVID relief very well.

    • Hey, look on the bright side. It spits in the eye of the CCP with something related to Covid. Or, more accurately, the CCP Wuhan virus.

        • Whose idea was that? I thought the previous relief bill was bad, with millions going to Ivy League universities and the Kennedy Center!

          • Funny you should say that. $40,000,000 to the Kennedy Center in that bill. Along with $2,000,000,000 for the space SPACE FORCE’s Guardians Of The Galaxy (I only made up the last three words). 1.2 Billion for Egypt’s military, 400~ million for Ukraine, and 10 million for gender programs in Pakistan. 10 billion to bail out the USPS, it goes on and on and on.

    • While I recognize that, at the end of the day, most of our national debt is held internally, a sizeable portion is held by China, and other than the incredibly devastating world-wide ripple effects of such a threat, I wouldn’t mind either political party telling China that we’ll be evaluating the economic costs of the Wuhan Virus and will arbitrarily deduct it from the debt we owe them.

        • It has been some time since I have followed with great scrutiny who holds US debt, I did find the following paragraph from Investopedia a problem.

          “Consider what the current arrangement means: The Chinese buy up dollar bills in the form of Treasuries. This helps inflate the value of the dollar. In return, American consumers get cheap Chinese products and incoming investment capital. The average American is made better off by foreigners providing cheap services and only demanding pieces of paper in return.”

          The above paragraph states that the Chinese are buying dollar bills. No, they are giving the Treasury excess dollar bills they have from the merchandise trade imbalance in exchange for our Treasuries which are IOU’s. This actually devalues the dollar as it puts more dollars into circulation. Think supply and demand. If China puts more US currency into circulation by buying Treasuries without actually buying something produced here the supply of M1 rises when the Government takes that cash and spends it. The government does not increase its borrowing unless it has planned spending in mind. As the M1 supply rises relative to a given amount of productive output the value of the dollar falls as prices rise to reflect a new equilibrium price level.

          The Treasury takes the dollars from China and finances government operations or redistributes them in the form of transfer payments or makes purchases. The more money in circulation increases the money supply and all things being equal prices will tend to rise. It is possible that more money in circulation will drive short term profits up slightly but whether or not producers increase investment which drives demand for dollars is not necessarily known that this is going to happen. Investment occurs when the long term returns on investment exceed the long run costs of capital. This is why China invests in the US. It artificially reduces its capital costs which is forcing other nations to do the same. When rates of return on invested dollars approaches zero savings falls, no new investment takes place and people spend more money on consumer goods – most of which are made elsewhere.

          The value of the US dollar is determined by the value of the goods and services whose prices are denominated in US dollars. That means the degree to which demand exists for what we produce and sell to other nations and other global commodities denominated in dollars determines the dollar’s value. If people want our stuff they must pay for it in our currency increasing the demand for dollars and thus its value. If China wants to sell more stuff to the US it does devalue its currency by dumping Yuan. It can only increase the value of the dollar vs a vis the Yuan in the currency markets which takes dollars out of circulation by buying actual dollars – dumping Yuan on the markets to buy dollars. Buying Treasuries does the opposite.

          What does happen is that increases in government debt, especially through idiotic stimulus payments, induce American consumers to buy more stuff because they feel like they have more money (income and wealth effects). Much of that stuff will be made in China or other nations. This will further increase China’s excess dollar stocks which will be used to buy oil, increase their ownership and control of productive assets in the US, or buy more treasuries.

          Another point in the Investopedia article said the government borrows from Social Security and puts Treasuries back into the trust fund. Social Security was made part of the budget years ago long before Al Gore talked about putting SS receipts in a “lock box”. What in fact happens occurs at the FED in open market operations buys or sells Treasuries. When they buy securities from the public they pump money into the economy. This is known as monetizing the debt. It is done to stimulate the economy through monetary policy. When the FED sells securities to the domestic public they are trading government IOU’s for cash money. When this cash is removed from M1 (cash held by the non-bank public) the money supply falls and lower supplies of M1 drive up the cost of dollars through interest rates and exchange rates.

          We have been trying to compete with Chinese currency manipulation for a long time which is why the FED charges near zero interest on overnight funds or bank borrowings. I believe it has gotten so bad in Australia or New Zealand that their Central Banks are basically paying people to borrow for investment. The Chinese are killing them.

          The Investopedia writer said “The average American is made better off by foreigners providing cheap services and only demanding pieces of paper in return.” I say that is not necessarily true if in the long run we produce nothing but services. The average American is made better off when both foreigner and domestic consumers want our domestically produced goods and services because we have a protected competitive advantage.

          I believe that giving people free cash is stupid policy. It sets a dangerous precedent and makes people want more. I have no problem funding businesses who are just hanging on because government officials demand they no longer operate in a manner profitable just as I have no problem with supplemental Unemployment benefits whose livelihoods were upended by overzealous politicians seeking to curry favor by showing how much they care about safety.

          Why should a retiree – like me, government, or private sector worker whose pay was unaffected by the pandemic get a payment? As for why we are giving anything to citizens of other countries outside our borders or those here illegally strikes me as a profound injustice to all of today’s children and their children because they are the ones who will be most affected by all this mounting debt.

          Is it ethical to accept a stimulus payment when your income has not been affected at all by the edicts resulting from the pandemic? I think not.

          • I should have mentioned that international transactions can be settled with Dollars as the Dollar is the peg currency for most other currencies . That means China, and virtually all other nations accept dollars in payment. Conversely, US producers will not uniformly accept foreign currencies as tendered payments.
            China needs a supply of dollars to settle transactions in the energy markets. Excess dollars are used to buy treasuries or US assets.

  2. There should be a constitutional amendment limiting all bills to less than 5 pages, size 12 font, double spaced. Led off with a generalized statement to which all follow on paragraphs relate.

    The hyper-partisanship will only drive larger and larger bills adding onerously illegible insanity to our already byzantine system until it’s an unnavigable, unenforceable (except by capricious executive fiat), and un-litigable morass.

    The system is going to break.

  3. Considering what I’ve paid in Federal and State Income taxes over the years, I will gladly accept the chump change the stimulus bill is offering me. I’ve been eyeing some big screens at Costco and Walmart and I’m eager to stimulate the economy.

    • I believe many others feel the same way. This leads to the rationalization that because not accepting it when everyone else is going to keep it is foolish and won’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things. This is what will be inscribed on the grave marker of the United States as it was originally conceived.

  4. Hehe………can’t believe you attached a 6000 page PDF to your post — nice job!

    But, I have to point out one minor detail. From what I can see — and I confess I didn’t read the whole bill, this bill is the appropriation bill for the entire federal government. It does include the Covid relief provisions, but those were an add on to the bill.

    So I see this section as a statement of United States policy regarding the Dalai Lama, and our stance regarding Chinese oppression of Tibet and persecution of their religion. I assume this part was included in the Division relating to the State Department, but again I didn’t read the whole thing.

    On the other hand — are there any Representatives or Senators who have gone through this entire bill? Somehow I doubt it.

    • You know it. As far as I can determine, virtually none of them read all of any of the bills. Hence the “We’ll have to pass it to know what’s in it” comment made immortal by Nancy Pelosi

    • A 5500 page document was sprung on them at 2:00 PM their time, with a vote on it mere hours later. Even if they cut the bill into 100 separate pieces like a group study project, they wouldn’t have had enough time to reconcile all the pieces. At the time I’d made my comment, I’d skimmed it and picked up on a few of the more insane tidbits in it, but I doubt that anyone to this poinr has actually read all 5500 pages with a solid understanding, including the authors (an individual author might know and understand what they wrote, but a bill like this is the product of collaboration.). This is an unmitigated disaster of a way to run government.

    • Also… Yes and no re: appropriation bill. The 900 billion dollar Covid relief package was attached to a 1.4 trillion general spending bill. the 2.3 trillion dollar result is what they voted on. The two parts are absolutely distinguishable though, and the PDF above is just the Covid package. I don’t have the focus to go through the appropriation bill write large.

  5. Page 1494
    (2) ASSISTANCE.—Of the funds appropriated under title III of this Act that are made available for assistance for Pakistan, not less than $15,000,000 shall be made available for democracy programs and not less than $10,000,000 shall be made available for gender programs.

    $10M for gender programs in Pakistan? WTF

    What a bunch of FA. What part of America wants this kind of appropriation for Pakistan? How is this proper representation of the American People?

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