Like lots of alert readers (ARs) I’m preparing to send a check to the Internal Revenue Service on or before April 18th. And, perhaps like some ARs, I often wonder what happens to the trillions of dollars we collectively send to the federal government every year. We have been told, for example, that none of the $1.2 trillion that was pumped into the economy under The Inflation Reduction Act came from individual taxpayers. We also know that The U.S. Department of Education assured us for nearly a quarter century that it would make a profit of over $100 billion on federally guaranteed student loans, meaning we taxpayers would presumably not be asked to pay the cost of forgiving $500 billion of this debt, as has been proposed. We have also been told that none of our taxes will be used to bail out depositors of Silicon Valley Bank or Signature Bank, the cost of which could reach $300 billion. So, what exactly is our government doing with our taxes?
In addition to the usual expenditures, we know that the war in Ukraine has cost U.S. taxpayers $115 billion since February of 2022, a figure that can only increase in the foreseeable future. As staggering as this number is, according to a report by the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD), it’s a small fraction of the $2.8 trillion annual cost of the war to the global economy. Not to mention the horrifying human suffering caused by Russia’s invasion of a sovereign neighbor.
It’s in this context that I’m pleased to report a much more productive and civilized approach to conflict resolution than brutal warfare… sitting down over a beer. I am not making this up. Back in mid-March Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol met at Rengatei, an upscale restaurant in Tokyo’s Ginza district, where they enjoyed local specialties such as omurice (a fried rice and omelet dish) washed down with sake and beer. Bear in mind that relations between Japan and Korea have been severely strained at least as far back as the Imjin War (1592-1598) and probably longer. Nevertheless, after centuries of bloodshed, these two leaders were finally able to resolve their differences over a glass or two of beer. If any other world leaders are so inclined, I’m pleased to offer the facilities of any of our Schlafly brewpubs to further the cause of world peace.
This is not to say that settling differences over a glass of beer should be restricted to international disputes. Perhaps French President Emmanuel Macron should try this approach to settle the labor dispute currently wracking France. Macron reportedly drinks 14 glasses of wine per week but has been known to drink beer as well. (In all candor, I’m a bit puzzled that French workers are outraged at the prospect of having to work until they’re ten years younger than I am.) But, whatever the domestic fissures within French society, they can’t be as great as the rifts between Japan and South Korea in the aftermath of World War II. Why not try to work things out over a beer at a Parisian bistro in springtime?
Macron, as some ARs probably know, is 45 years old, 19 years younger than the retirement age he’s seeking to impose on French workers. In contrast, his American counterpart, President Joe Biden, is 80 and is seeking another term that would start when he is 82. Biden’s main rival, former President Donald Trump, is now 76 and would be 78 upon reassuming office.
One of the few things Trump and Biden have in common in addition to being older than I am is that neither drinks beer.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is 30 years younger than I am and one year younger than Macron, is challenging the much older Biden and Trump for the presidency. Unlike his two elders, he’s a beer drinker.
I visited Florida in March and attended two Cardinals spring training games and also had the chance to talk to a local AR about her governor. This AR, who has a PhD in Italian Literature from the University of Florence in Italy, told me that the surname DeSantis means “from the saints.” When foundlings were left at convents, the nuns didn’t know the names of the parents and said the babies came “from the saints” or DeSantis. She said the Florida governor would have been descended from such a foundling.
It occurred to me the name could also apply to trillions of dollars in federal spending that our government tells us is not coming from our taxes. Maybe the money is miraculously coming “from the saints.”
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery