Tag Archives: debt

Economic Storm Clouds and a Potential Blue Sky

There’s a pair of columns on the web today that I found time to digest that are excellent and well worth your time. The first is by Paul A. Rahe, hosted by Big Government. Rahe is a Hoover Institution fellow, as is another columnist/historian I look up to, Victor Davis Hansen. This column lays out in quick — but pretty accurate — terms how we got to in our country’s current economic downturn, the mistakes that our leadership has made in dealing with the crisis, and most importantly, what very well might be the horizon for us if we don’t turn ship immediately. He makes the compelling case that the worst is yet to come, a view that I share. It’s not pretty. Spend 5 minutes and read it.

The second piece comes from TV’s newest reality show star, Sarah Palin. She writes an editorial in the Wall Street Journal today, vigorously supporting Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap for America’s Future” that was released earlier this year. I have more respect than ever for Palin in endorsing the plan. I’d agree with her that it’s the best plan proposed by anyone with actual power in the government. It shows that all the wailing in our capitol about how it’s impossible to balance the budget and to fix our structural fiscal issues is hogwash.

Now, most importantly, does our leadership have the courage to implement something like this? It’s radical, sure, but no more radical than the original programs — Social Security and Medicare — that got us into this mess to begin with. Probably more to the point, do the American people actually want this? Unfortunately, probably not yet. This is from a poll by Bloomberg:

Americans want Congress to bring down a federal budget deficit that many believe is “dangerously out of control,” only under two conditions: minimize the pain and make the rich pay.

The public wants Congress to keep its hands off entitlements such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, a Bloomberg National Poll shows. They oppose cuts in most other major domestic programs and defense. They want to maintain subsidies for farmers and tax breaks like the mortgage-interest deduction. And they’re against an increase in the gasoline tax.

Pain for thee, but not for me. The crazy part about this is that Ryan’s plan doesn’t really involve much in the way of extreme sacrifice for everyday citizens. No, if implemented, the pain would be felt primarily by politicians and bureaucrats as their power is slowly stripped away. What a shame that would be, right?

What Greece Means in the Bigger Picture

I haven’t had much time for long post lately, and today’s not an exception. Blogging is something that definitely comes in waves in my life. Anyway, today’s post at the Belmont Club was too good to pass up linking to and doing a quick cut-and-paste. He’s talking about what the Greek melt down means to Western social democracies. I’m 100% on board with his analysis. The best case scenario right now is a painful — but controlled — realignment of government priorities that will make a lot of people upset. The worse case scenario swerves into a conversation that most people don’t want to have.

But Portugal and Spain are suspect — as well as many of the larger EU economies too. Their problems can be fixed to be sure. But they cannot be fixed by any kind of bridging loan, “put” or ’shock and awe’ intervention. None of that will work in the long run. However things are stabilized in the short term, eventually a scaling down of the welfare state — and indeed the size of the Western state itself — will be necessary. There’s simply not enough money to sustain it. A wave of change, but not the kind of change that President Obama imagined, is following right behind the financial tsunamis. All of his ill-timed “investments”, like bloated Federal Health care, immigration “reform”, and cap-and-trade have come at a time when they simply can’t be borne. Institutions like featherbedded unions, monopolies and obsolete gatekeepers should view recent events in the same way that dinosaurs who looked up at an enormous descending meteor should. The enormous tower of quangos, EU commissions, massive agencies, vast entitlements is trembling beneath that most quotidian of assaults: lack of supply, “like a cut flower in a vase; fair to see yet doomed to die.”

So far our leaders — including most on the conservative side of the aisle — have shown absolutely no desire to address these issues. I don’t think they will unless they’re forced, either. There’s no way around it: in the end, it means them giving up a huge chunk of power. We haven’t had a politician like that in high office since George Washington.

Get Your Checkbook Out…

Daniel Indiviglio over at the Atlantic has a post that references a great chart on the USA Today. It shows that every household in America now is committed to $668,621 of debt, including both Federal and private debt. Now, be honest: where do you think this will end? It won’t be a happy happy joy joy place, I can assure you of that. The sad part is that when I propose that perhaps the government borrowing trillions to get us out of the problem of having trillions of debt isn’t the best of ideas, a large swath of the country thinks I’m insane.

More Tea Party Commentary

Thanks to Instapundit, I saw this today.

Judging from the left’s hysterical reaction, something really big must have happened. But the only way to really understand the left’s misinformed and paranoid attacks is to realize that the protests represent tangible proof that basic libertarian values continue to resonate with the American electorate. That, apparently, is a difficult thing for some to accept.

Yes, that seems right to me. It’s been almost surrealistic for the Left — as a whole — to be so venomous about the tea party protests. Isn’t this the People Power Party? I guess only when you’re protesting on the right side of things. And I’ll paste in a piece that Glenn pasted into his post, because it’s perfect:

What were the tea parties about? Reading the signs and talking to people (unlike CNN’s incredibly hostile Susan Roesgen, I actually let folks answer my questions in their own words), the “agenda” was crystal clear. Tea party activists were worried and angry about government bailouts for the irresponsible, about spending that “stimulated” record growth in government and not much else, and about government borrowing that will place unconscionable burdens on future generations of Americans. My favorite sign of the day: “Give Me Liberty, Not Debt.”

Some tried to diminish the tea parties as misguided tax protests. In reality, the protestors demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of economics that went well beyond objections to higher tax rates. You can’t spend money you don’t have, the tea party attendees understood, and government spending above current revenues must be paid for with higher taxes, more borrowing (to be paid for with higher taxes in the future), or artificial government expansion of money and credit, which can only debase the currency and make everyone poorer through inflation.

Yes! That’s exactly what I’ve been saying ever since these protests started. It’s not about the taxes we’re paying now — it’s about the future. Listen: you can’t run 2 trillion dollar deficits without eventually increasing taxes on the middle class. The only other option is inflating the value of the dollar to make 2 trillion dollars not as scary, which 1) makes everyone’s savings worth less and less, and 2) is exactly what tin pot dictators do when the going gets tough.

Tell me this isn’t scary. I dare you.

Penn on Obama

Penn as in Penn and Teller, the magic act in Las Vegas. He’s actually quite the political commentator, usually showing a heavy tilt to the Libertarian side of things. Definitely a leave-it-alone kind of guy. He has a commentary on CNN today that’s pretty good, asking, hey, maybe when your gut says that spending trillions will not get the country out of this mess, maybe you should listen.

I live in Vegas, and I see people by the side of the road with cardboard signs who seem like they might have tried that spending their way out of debt thing. Or maybe they tried the all too intuitive “crack will make me feel healthy again” thing. I don’t know.

What if power and control over citizen’s lives is our current leadership’s crack? A lot of our President and Congress has done since he took office has, in the end, concentrated power with the Federal government and taken power away from lesser sovereignties, such as state governments and, of course, the individual. For a libertarian like Penn Jillette, that’s gotta hurt.