Economic Consequences
November 18, 2007 12:35 AM   Subscribe

The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush. "The next president will have to deal with yet another crippling legacy of George W. Bush: the economy. A Nobel laureate, Joseph E. Stiglitz, sees a generation-long struggle to recoup." [Via Firedoglake.]
posted by homunculus (70 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Waging Trillion Dollar Wars on a Credit Card
posted by homunculus at 12:38 AM on November 18, 2007


From the second link: I don’t understand how anyone from this Administration, especially this President, can stand before any group of adults (or teenagers) and not be laughed out of the room when he chastises the opposition for behaving like irresponsible children.

Three reasons:

1. Things are so bad that it's kind of hard to laugh these days.
2. The people who would laugh aren't ever invited to hear the president speak.
3. The people who are invited to his speeches are too busy counting their kickbacks, fearing the arabs, or hating the gays to care about that trifling thing we call "logic."
posted by Riki tiki at 1:00 AM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Raise (or perhaps restore normal?) taxes on groups that still voted for him the second time around, when any average heap of carpet dust would have known better than to vote for him. If rich people backed him, raise taxes that bother rich folk most. If military people voted for him, start very big military budget cuts (do that anyway) and the consolidation of forces. If certain industries backed him in exchange for certain favors, make sure those favors are reversed. If he was anyone's puppet, hand the bill to the puppeteers.
posted by pracowity at 1:23 AM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'll be in school through the 2008 elections, and I look forward to voting then.

After that, though—with every day that passes, I consider the prospect of raising my children here, and more and more, it fills me with sadness. This is not the home that I hold in my heart.
posted by spiderwire at 2:13 AM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


I love that this is the same issue as a Hitchens makeover and a Julie Roberts retrospective.
posted by srboisvert at 2:30 AM on November 18, 2007


I almost cried when I read the list of things we could have done with the money he spent on the war. That administration has ruined my country.
posted by scose at 2:50 AM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


I hope you'll all excuse the extended quotation:
Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need -- not as a call to battle, though embattled we are -- but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, "rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation," a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself....

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility -- I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it. And the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God's work must truly be our own.
This is one of the things I read from time to time to get me through the day.
posted by spiderwire at 3:07 AM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


What I hear in this thread is precisely what is wrong with the Democrat party as a whole. This is full blown defeatism, giving in to the idea that we're so royally screwed that there's no saving it unless we all throw our best years away fixing the country, and even then it's only a patch job to rush and compete with the Chinese, who will certainly overshadow us all with their economic might and domination over a weakened and indebted United States.

You know what I've learned from these past seven years? I've learned that being hawkish and pitting "Us" against "Them" is still the American way, whether it be migrant groups or governing ideologies. I've learned that outrage and complaints that the other side is "destroying America" isn't just the outcry of the pre-power neoconservatives. I've learned that civilization has, for better or worse, become so complicated that war for conquest is virtually impossible. I've learned that America thinks it has a pretense of moral authority even after My Lai, Joseph McCarthy, Japanese internment camps, and a host of other atrocities in the past. I've learned that even if the Republicans have control of both houses of Congress, the White House, and have had the chance to appoint favorable justices to the Supreme Court, there remain a large number of hot-button issues that they simply cannot push through. I've learned that we're not on the brink of collapse, trying to fight our way back to rationality like the Civil War or the Great Depression. I've learned that we're shaken by some unwise decisions, a lot of us have learned from the ordeal, and we're still all too human, and make human mistakes.

The United States of America has stood strong for two hundred and thirty one years. We've suffered some bad decisions, but the nation is still in one piece, we have not fought our brothers across the states, we have not starved in the streets, and we are still a superpower with the resources and renewed will to push the world to new limits.

I ask of you, do not lose faith in the United States so easily! It is not the weak-willed worriers who fear for this nation's future that have built the foundations on which we stand today, but rather those who have continued to struggle! It is pure vanity to argue that we face the greatest challenge we have ever seen.

This is not our darkest hour. We simply have work to do, no more, no less. It's time to stop complaining and get some things done.
posted by Saydur at 4:09 AM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'd love to see the results if instead of Iraq the government had poured this money into sustainable energy research.
posted by ersatz at 4:17 AM on November 18, 2007


Once Franklin Roosevelt assumed office and reversed Hoover’s policies, the country began to recover.


And that's where I stopped reading, any person who gives credit to the man who prolonged the worst recession in US history with terrible policy loses all credibility. Stiglitz is considered a nutjob by most mainstream economists anyway, I can't really fault the guy for getting his theories out there, but I can fault Vanity Fair for publishing it.
posted by BackwardsHatClub at 4:22 AM on November 18, 2007


And that's where I stopped reading, any person who gives credit to the man who prolonged the worst recession in US history...

That's where I stopped reading.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 4:28 AM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Stiglitz is not rigidly orthodox, but he is in no way considered a nutjob by the mainstream. He has, for instance, won the Nobel prize and the John Bates Clark medal.
posted by matthewr at 4:38 AM on November 18, 2007


how the two men argued over how to spend America’s anticipated $2.2 trillion budget surplus?
So the _anticipated_ surplus was 2200G$ or 2.2T$
A budget surplus of 2.4 percent of gross domestic product (G.D.P.), which greeted Bush as he took office
If the bsupr was 2.2T$ or 2.4% GDP , that implies the GDP was 91.6T$ .Yet I gather from that the GDP was around 10T$ when Bush took office?

I am a little confused, the 2.2T figure up is an estimate over how many years , if it is one ?
Think of the interest we are paying, year after year, on the almost $4 trillion of increased debt burden—even at 5 percent, that’s an annual payment of $200 billion, two Iraq wars a year forever
Well forever is a bit of a strech...and I wonder how much can be recovered by cutting heavily on defense expenses , homerland securitaeh and more security theatre and bull.
posted by elpapacito at 4:47 AM on November 18, 2007


You know what I've learned from these past seven years? ... I've learned that civilization has, for better or worse, become so complicated that war for conquest is virtually impossible.

New on this planet, are you? A whole bunch of people could have told you ten or more years ago what it took you seven years to learn. I guess you were listening to the other people.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:54 AM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is not our darkest hour. We simply have work to do, no more, no less. It's time to stop complaining and get some things done.

Even if I imagine a swelling orchestra playing "Pomp and Circumstance" behind your little soliloquy, it still comes across like confused empty blather.

Are you Mitt Romney's sock puppet?
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 5:59 AM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


The global-trade agreements we pushed through were often unfair to developing countries. We should have invested more in infrastructure, tightened regulation of the securities markets, and taken additional steps to promote energy conservation. We fell short because of politics and lack of money—and also, frankly, because special interests sometimes shaped the agenda more than they should have.

Clinton pushed through the significant weakening of the Glass-Steagal Act not to mention the "Free Trade" agreements which were also unfair to unskilled U.S. workers, and had Rubin, current prez of Citi-fucking-Bank, as his treasury secretary.

he doth protest too much...
posted by geos at 6:03 AM on November 18, 2007


Clinton ... had Rubin, current prez of Citi-fucking-Bank, as his treasury secretary.

To paraphrase what John Edwards said in Nevada, corporate Democrats are as bad as corporate Republicans. Bill Clinton was a corporate Democrat and his queen moreso, but Hillary will indeed have to work hard to give away to Wall Street as much as GWB has.

Something tells me she's up to the job.
posted by three blind mice at 6:16 AM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Fuck Bush, but fuck Clinton, too. Seriously, I'm not sure recovery is an option, anymore. Containment of the steady slide into the third-world is really about all we can hope for. That, and more liberal passport and immigration laws in places like New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. (I'm thinking of my kids, here)
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:30 AM on November 18, 2007


Not to be snarky or anything but I didn't really think it took a Nobel Laureate to point out that Bush has fucked up the economy for a generation.

Personally, I'm starting to like Ted Rall's idea that the new president should just declare the Bush presidency was illegal and, like post-Vichy France in 1944, declare all laws passed under the illegitimate rule to be null and void.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:47 AM on November 18, 2007 [8 favorites]


to point out that Bush has fucked up the economy for a generation

Not just the economy, but the military as well.

Thank God we have our infrastructure and education to fall back on.
posted by psmealey at 6:57 AM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bush hasn't been a great economic President, but many of the things for which he blames Bush were (1) well underway before Bush took office and (2) nothing that Gore or Kerry proposed to change.

The declining savings rate that he hits upon started decades ago and simply reached continued its inevitable trend towards 0% under Bush. The three greatest culprits in the housing bubble were the creation of subprime mortgage securitization, the $250,000 capital gains exemption, and Greenspan's 2001-2004 excessive liquidity -- the first two things for which Bush can take no blame and the last for which Bush can take little blame, given that Greenspan and a majority of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors were Clinton appointees when the major stimulus votes were taken.

Beyond this, in the discussion about the savings rate there's a comment so fundamentally wrong you have to be worried about the overall rigor of the essay. This is his observation that: "Money saved is money not spent." Is it possible to trust the analysis of someone capable of that? Money saved is not only spent by the businesses which receive those savings as equity investments or loans, but, many people would argue, better spent than on the kinds of things consumers spend the last increment of disposable income they'd otherwise save.
posted by MattD at 6:59 AM on November 18, 2007


Think twice about Australia and Canada. While not one-trick ponies, Australia and Canada have benefited so much from the late commodities surge that any kind of global economic slowdown will whipsaw them brutally. In late 2007, oil, iron ore and non-ferrous metals are nearly as detached from their fundamentals as US housing was in mid 2005. Arguments that oil "can't" go down are no more persuasive or correct than arguments that circa 1982 3-bedroom ranch in Phoenix "can't" ever trade for under $500,000 -- the same house which is now looking for a bid at $325,000 and renting for $800 a month.
posted by MattD at 7:04 AM on November 18, 2007


I am a little confused, the 2.2T figure up is an estimate over how many years , if it is one ?

Ten is pretty standard.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:07 AM on November 18, 2007


According to conservative lore, the Russians lost the cold war because they ramped up defence spending to an unsustainable level (goaded on by Reagan, that wily fox!) and bankrupted themselves by fighting an expensive, unwinnable war in Afganistan. But now that Bush is doing the same thing to his own country, he's a hero. One of these things is exactly like the other.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:18 AM on November 18, 2007 [8 favorites]


But now that Bush is doing the same thing to his own country, he's a hero.

It's pretty clear that Bush, Cheney and their Halliburton ilk don't give a rat's ass for the welfare of the nation. They'll be spending their sunset years in Dubai, leaving the rest of us to negotiate better rates on our foreign held debt.
posted by psmealey at 7:21 AM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


BushCo doesn't give a shit, but most of their cheerleaders aren't rich enough to take off to Dubau or Paraguay once the shit hits the fan.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:33 AM on November 18, 2007


People refuse to believe they have been misled by those who needed a war to drive up the price of oil. The media never second-guessed Bush's intentions because it coincided with a very large political lobby involved with the middle-east.
posted by Brian B. at 7:51 AM on November 18, 2007


One of these things is exactly like the other.

Previously. Also, Orlov has a book coming out in the spring (can you tell I tried to make an FPP about this recently?)
posted by scalefree at 9:44 AM on November 18, 2007


So is it over for America?
posted by A189Nut at 9:59 AM on November 18, 2007


What I hear in this thread is precisely what is wrong with the Democrat party as a whole.

It's the Democratic Party, asswipe.
posted by interrobang at 10:04 AM on November 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


This is full blown defeatism, giving in to the idea that we're so royally screwed

No. Defeatism would be torturing humans because otherwise we're so royally screwed. Defeatism would be incarcerating American citizens indefinitely, without charges and without the need to bring charges, because othererwise we're so royally screwed. Defeatism would be casting out into Iraq and Iran with violence and fury in pointless incoherent rage because otherwise we're so royally screwed. Defeatism would be erasing the 4th Amendment and spying indiscriminately on Americans in America without warrants and without even reasonable suspicion because otherwise we're so royally screwed.

The weak conservative babies conceded a long time ago and have been acting as if we're a nation in its death throes for years to the extreme detriment of this country and her citizens.

In sum, fuck that.
posted by psmith at 10:30 AM on November 18, 2007 [7 favorites]


Arguments that oil "can't" go down are no more persuasive or correct than arguments that circa 1982 3-bedroom ranch in Phoenix "can't" ever trade for under $500,000

Uh, I disagree, at least in the short term. China and India want oil, and will continue to want it in ever-increasing quantities for years to come. They do not want crap housing in America, and never have.

Also, Canada etc. have economies which are not solely dependent on the price of commodities, unlike say Kuwait. They might get whipsawed by a short term drop, but long term they're probably OK.
posted by A dead Quaker at 10:30 AM on November 18, 2007


If you had a trillion dollars.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:38 AM on November 18, 2007


I almost cried when I read the list of things we could have done with the money he spent on the war. That administration has ruined my country.

Yes, this is true. On the other hand, you didn't have that money anyway. He took out a massive once-in-a-lifetime bet-the-country loan, then pissed it out on Iraq. So if he hadn't done that, you can bet he wouldn't have been allowed to do it for something mundane like helping the poor or paying for school.
posted by bonaldi at 10:40 AM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


And that's where I stopped reading, any person who gives credit to the man who prolonged the worst recession in US history with terrible policy loses all credibility.

Now, perhaps I'm ignorant here, but surely the standard wisdom is much like the following:

- 1929 crash.
- Hoover restricts government spending and therefore the money supply.
- depression worsens.
- Roosevelt takes office, loosens the money supply, the economy recovers.

Moreover, Steiglitz is a Nobel-prize winning economist with a lot of respect from his peers, I can't find one of his peers calling him a "nutjob" or anything close.

Hmm, let me take a look -- aha, BackwardsHatClub, you're a "conservative"! (at least, you're pro-waterboarding, I didn't want to read much more.)

Let me explain something to you and a couple of other people here (konolia, Van Der Beste). This is Metafilter -- you can't just make things up and expect us to swallow them uncritically.

The discouraging thing about the "debate" between left and right is that it appears to be impossible to find even a single figure on the right who's willing to actually engage in rational discussion. The usual opening salvo appears to be, "If you don't like it here, why don't you leave?" (My usual response is, "You're the one who disapproves of the U.S. Constitution, why don't *you* leave?" but as you can imagine, not much progress gets made.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:09 AM on November 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


lupus: the economy of the 1930s sucked all around, with a double-dip depression occuring in the mid 1930s. The make-work stuff was window-dressing but FDR gets points for trying more than actually rebuilding the economic bases of the nation. (That took WW2 and the utter destruction of our major trading partners).

The three greatest culprits in the housing bubble were the creation of subprime mortgage securitization, the $250,000 capital gains exemption, and Greenspan's 2001-2004 excessive liquidity

You missed one: complete lack of governmental oversight of the mortgage markets 2003-2006. The bubble was blown up by suicide loan market innovations outrunning the oversight, which wasn't going to happen anyway given the ideological and financial outlooks of the present administration and previous Congresses.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:28 AM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Personally, I'm starting to like Ted Rall's idea that the new president should just declare the Bush presidency was illegal and, like post-Vichy France in 1944, declare all laws passed under the illegitimate rule to be null and void.

I heart this idea.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:32 AM on November 18, 2007


Oh, Heywood, I agree absolutely. I don't think FDR really gets points for being successful -- however, Hoover definitely gets negative points for failing and it was the characterization of FDR's policies as worse than Hoover's that I felt was hard to defend.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:57 AM on November 18, 2007


I've come to realize the fall of the Soviet Union should have served as a wake-up call for our own economic vulnerability rather than a victory of capitalism over communism, and that when (not if) the US collapses it will be much more severe because our economy has been honed to peak efficiency by a just-in-time delivery system that will prove to be much more fragile than the USSR's localized DIY economy whose inefficiencies & multiply-redundant services will turn out to have been much more resilient against systemic failure. Ultimately we're a victim of our own success.
posted by scalefree at 11:59 AM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


This link deeply frustrates me. It gets so very many things wrong. This quote is particularly telling:

The world was a very different place, economically speaking, when George W. Bush took office, in January 2001. During the Roaring 90s, many had believed that the Internet would transform everything. Productivity gains, which had averaged about 1.5 percent a year from the early 1970s through the early 90s, now approached 3 percent. During Bill Clinton’s second term, gains in manufacturing productivity sometimes even surpassed 6 percent. The Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, spoke of a New Economy marked by continued productivity gains as the Internet buried the old ways of doing business. Others went so far as to predict an end to the business cycle. Greenspan worried aloud about how he’d ever be able to manage monetary policy once the nation’s debt was fully paid off.

This tremendous confidence took the Dow Jones index higher and higher. The rich did well, but so did the not-so-rich and even the downright poor. The Clinton years were not an economic Nirvana; as chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers during part of this time, I’m all too aware of mistakes and lost opportunities.


This guy has no fucking IDEA what he's talking about. The 90s were so 'great' because of loose fiscal policy and outright lies from the government about its books. Clinton's claims to have 'balanced the budget' were lies of unbelievable magnitude. The government's books would make Enron blush, and Clinton knew that full well.

Almost all the gains made from the 90s were illusion, produced by the Fed's easy money policy and statistical skullduggery by the government. Most of the 'productivity gains', for instance, were in the computer sector. The idiots in that department declared that since we shipped a 486-33 for $3000 in 1993 (or whatever year it was), then shipping a 486-66 for $3000 in 1994 meant our productivity doubled! The computer sector had such enormous gains all through this period that it singlehandledly raised the 'growth' of the rest of the economy by several percent. We weren't shipping that many more computers every year, and the actual numbers of dollars changing hands went up by a large but sane amount, but according to the government, the 'real' figures in computers were damn near doubling every year. According to the government, we're currently doing something absurd, like $400 billion/year, in 'real' dollars in the computer industry. (I don't have the numbers handy anymore, as I was last really paying attention to this maybe five years ago, but it's just insane.) ALL the numbers from that period are like that, and they've only gotten successively more and more disconnected from reality as the Bushies have inflicted their own special kind of spin on numbers that were already lies.

Make no mistake: you don't make the richest country in the world into a pauper overnight. It takes a long time and a lot of stupidity. As stupid as Bush is, he's just continuing what was started before him.

It's not a mistake that Stieglitz refers to the 'roaring 90s'... just like the Roaring 20s, it was a product of deep monetary disorder, and just like the 20s, is going to lead into a time of profound economic distress.

Most of the blame for this lies with Greenspan; to avoid the fallout from the mess he helped create in the 90s, he injected huge amounts of liquidity when the stock market bubble started to pop. He kinda-sorta propped it up, but inflated two more huge bubbles in its place... real estate and debt. Those bubbles are popping now, and we still have the residual damage from the first one to deal with.

Times are going to be terrible, but blaming it all on Bush is ignorance. The Clinton/Greenspan team didn't just shoot us in the feet, they took a machine gun to our vital organs... we could possibly have survived that mess with major surgery and a long, long recovery. But Bush.... well, Greenspan/Bush opened up with a cannon to our collective temple, and I don't think we can recover anymore.

The American Era in the world is passing, and just like Lincoln always said:

As a nation of free men, we must live through time, or die by suicide.

We opted for suicide.
posted by Malor at 12:03 PM on November 18, 2007


The make-work stuff was window-dressing but FDR gets points for trying more than actually rebuilding the economic bases of the nation.

Lately, my job has been going through archival footage of the 30s, for a show about the depression. I'll agree that FDR isn't entirely responsible for saving the country, but when you see the footage of all the WPA/CCC/New Deal stuff in action, you realize just how big an undertaking it was for the country. FDR didn't just create busy-work, he created infrastructure and a social safety net where none existed before.

Pity, of course, that Reagan, Bush 1&2 and their cronies have spent so much time dismantling it all. I wouldn't be surprised if they've secretly done away with the FDIC by this point.
posted by fungible at 12:40 PM on November 18, 2007


there's a comment so fundamentally wrong you have to be worried about the overall rigor of the essay. This is his observation that: "Money saved is money not spent."

Wow, good one. So what are you going to call what's presently known as the "savings account" in your bold new system of economic analysis? A "not really savings, but more of a loan with the bank as an intermediary account"?

Nixon, Reagan, Clinton... there's plenty of blame to go around.
posted by sfenders at 12:43 PM on November 18, 2007


FDR didn't just create busy-work, he created infrastructure and a social safety net where none existed before.

Agreed. To wit, the Tennessee Valley Authority was a pretty good example of where FDR-inspired government intervention helped to modernize an area that was harder hit by the depression than most of the rest of the country.

It's funny, every time I hear a Republican trash FDR, invariably it comes up

that it was only because of WWII that the Depression ended, I can't help but wonder if they are imagining some parallel universe where WWII didn't happen (or we returned to our isolationist roots), and President Willkie brought the nation out of economic turmoil be instilling fiscal discipline.

Yes, ramping up for the war brought the country out of depression permanently, which Roosevelt can't take credit for. Although FDR's programs seemed to reap benefits during his first term in office, the economy nose dived again (along with the rest of the planet) into recession in 1937.

It is, I think, undeniable that it was FDR's leadership in the preparation for and the conduct of that war, that helped defeat fascism abroad, and laid the groundwork for the superpower that the US was to become. Without FDR, the US remains a backwater for much, if not all, of the second half the 20th century.
posted by psmealey at 2:18 PM on November 18, 2007


... if we're to become a backwater again, so be it, but that America got to enjoy 50 years of relative peace and prosperity, is in a very large part thanks to FDR.
posted by psmealey at 2:19 PM on November 18, 2007


America got to enjoy 50 years of relative peace and prosperity, is in a very large part thanks to FDR.

Thanks in even larger part to staggering unexploited reserves of natural resources and a massive effort to develop them for the war, followed by policies explicitly designed turn the engines of war into engines of sustained prosperity, creating an enormous new middle class in the process.

Now that middle class is being systematically whittled away, those resources are largely gone and we've shipped all that industry to China. We're working our way backward through the 20th C economic timetable; apparently aiming for the huge wealth disparities of the Gilded Age, but without the swathes of ready wealth that made it possible. We'll probably overshoot and end in something like feudalism. What a pity our farmland is largely too exhausted for conventional (i.e. not energy-intensive) agriculture; we probably won't be able to support an agrarian feudal economy and we don't have the wilderness for hunter-gatherer.

No, I think it's nomadic tribalism for us, with goats eating what's left down to the ground. In 50 years this place'll look like 95% of Egypt does now.

But then, one man will emerge, driving the last of the V-8 Interceptors...
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:01 PM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


Clinton's claims to have 'balanced the budget' were lies of unbelievable magnitude

oh, I don't know about that. Spending increases were held down and revenues were up throughout the 90s. The Treasury's Debt To The Penny site shows the total federal debt was $4.4T on 10/1993 and ended up at $5.8T on 10/2001.

Excluding intra-governmental holdings (which are proper to exclude since these the trust funds are set to run in surplus are required to buy government bonds), the debt was $3.8T on 10/1997, $3.7T on 10/1998, $3.6T on 10/1999, and $3.3T on 10/2001. (10/2000 is missing in the series I'm looking at).

The imbalance today is due, in equal measures, to the DOUBLING of the national defense establishment cost basis since 2001, and the tax cuts of 2001-2003.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 3:26 PM on November 18, 2007


Any way you look at it, a large part of the American population — the vast majority of it, in fact — are going to become thoroughly fucked over the next few years.

Unless your billionaires and mega-millionaires start sharing a lot of their wealth out of the goodness of their hearts, there's literally no possibility that you are going to work your way out of the hundreds of thousands of dollars of per capita debt.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:58 PM on November 18, 2007


Lordy, could I have phrased that any more clumsily?
posted by five fresh fish at 3:59 PM on November 18, 2007


To be fair, they'd be fucked even if we'd had Jed Bartlett setting our economic policy for the last 8 years. Between global warming, peak oil, peak water, global fish depletion, H5N1 bird flu & Ugandan wheat rust all on the horizon, it's starting to look like level 99 of a video game where all the worst traps & biggest bad guys turn on you all at once.
posted by scalefree at 4:33 PM on November 18, 2007


Seize the assets of the evangelicals and make them spend the rest of their lives working in sweatshops producing sustainable green technologies.

That should do it.

Or, and destroy all their Toby Keith records, Wild Hogs dvds etc. That part would just be for fun.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:12 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seize the assets of the evangelicals and make them spend the rest of their lives working in sweatshops producing sustainable green technologies.

I'm guessing you're one of those people who don't read your words out loud when you proofread them, because what you originially said might have looked OK when you typed it, but it's batshit insane if you say it out loud.

Seize the assets of the evangelicals Jews and make them spend the rest of their lives working in sweatshops labor camps producing sustainable green technologies artillery shells.
posted by Cyrano at 5:23 PM on November 18, 2007


(And you lost any Godwinization rights you might have had with the Toby Keith and Wild Hogs crack. You know who else stereotyped people?)
posted by Cyrano at 5:28 PM on November 18, 2007


I have a question about all this. Say the US economy really does collapse in the very near furture. Can the banks take back all the cars, the homes, the big ticket items which have been purchased on massive credit? What would they do with the millions of cars & homes (or second homes) which are not outright owned? Do the cars just go into some vast parking lot and the houses get boarded up? During the depression of the 30's there was not so much ownership of homes and cars etc. I am not an economist by any stretch of the imagination, but there just seems to be so much "stuff" which is not actually owned. Any insights on this?
posted by tarantula at 5:33 PM on November 18, 2007


Sorry Cyrano, it was really just a sarcastic adolescent-style daydream out loud and I really should have tagged it as such.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:37 PM on November 18, 2007


"During the depression of the 30's there was not so much ownership of homes and cars etc."

I remember reading that during the Depression, neighborhoods would band together to keep the repo men out, and often help each other hide their furniture and assests (such as they were) and replace them after re-entering property they'd been evicted from etc.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:39 PM on November 18, 2007


Huh, so it's come to my attention that "Democrat party" is a slur. Suppose that's what I get for intentionally ignoring the mudslinging on both sides.

What I said stands in principle. The neocons are outright hopeless, but that doesn't mean a Democratic free pass. As for Romney, he's a joke. Spouts false promises, any truth he could bring to them would be cuts in all the wrong places.
posted by Saydur at 5:49 PM on November 18, 2007


Seize the assets of the evangelicals Jews megaCapitalists and make them spend the rest of their lives working in sweatshops and labor camps producing sustainable green technologies artillery shells.

There is a shitload of wealth being generated in the USA. Wealth that you presumably have helped to generate, through your employment.

How odd that you don't seem to have a fair share of that wealth.

CEO pay has skyrocketed an order of magnitude over the recent decades. They are not merely making 40x average wage, as they did forty years ago; nor are they making 100x average as they did less than twenty years ago; now they make upwards of 400x what the rest of us make!

The cream of the entertainment industry earns wages that are equally ridiculous. Any number of products are being advertised using an overpaid entertainer: we must be paying far too much for those products: ultimately, we end up paying their wages.

Meanwhile farmers go broke or rely on tax-sourced compensation programs in order to survive. Ultimately, we pay for both the cereal farmer's and entertainer's paycheque.

There's an industry of leeching: of managing a company without adding value to the raw materials that ultimately must be converted to something of greater value; and of entertaining or educating, by putting oneself into public performance of sport, theatre, religious philosophy, scientific education, or political representation.

Yes, managing an organization so that maximum value can be extracted from the input materials is important; and, yes, performing entertaining feats so as to amuse the collective is something we value; and yes, even politicians are necessary and need to be paid.

But for gods' sakes, exceptionally few of them are 400x more important, let alone the orders of magnitude more some of the leading CEOs make.

We need to start understanding that money is ultimately just a convenient way to put a chicken in a wallet. You only need so many chickens before it becomes absurd to think you need to have yet more of them. Time to start more fairly sharing about.

Free the chickens!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:13 PM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


It's depressing to think of what might have been. Bush's financial policies are some of the worst in recent history, and now the chickens are coming home to roost - the fall of the dollar, the collapse of the housing market, the crashing of the stock market, enormous debt....

I blame it all on the Supreme Court who installed this man in office.
posted by MythMaker at 6:30 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Do the cars just go into some vast parking lot and the houses get boarded up?

In some places, there are already a noticeable number of bank-owned vacant houses. Cars are easier to sell.
posted by sfenders at 6:32 PM on November 18, 2007


Five fresh fish: could this "chicken wallet" be made to fry the chickens as well?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:42 PM on November 18, 2007


Unless your billionaires and mega-millionaires start sharing a lot of their wealth out of the goodness of their hearts
Or you divs could get over this whole OMG Communism bit and start taxing the fuckers. Perhaps that'll happen anyway. Quashing the masses usually ends in them realising that there are more of them, and then you're going left with a big L.

Although I sometimes think that the right-wing capitalist rhetoric in the US is used to make the masses act against their interests in much the same way as we used Christianity to do it here a century or so before you. It's just that your philanthropists aren't ragged-trousered, they're highly leveraged.
posted by bonaldi at 8:51 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I blame it all on the Supreme Court who installed this man in office

nah, the majority had the decency to hang around for the electorate, to more or less confirm their choice in 2004.

62,040,610. That is the number of idiots in this country, scientifically measured in a nationwide poll on November 2, 2004.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:14 PM on November 18, 2007


Although I sometimes think that the right-wing capitalist rhetoric in the US

This is pretty obvious when looking at the structure of Movement Conservatism. The basic nexus is Regnery Press, one glance at their published list shows an unholy mix of Democrat-bashing, Anti-science Creationism, and muscular conservatism that borders on nativist fascism.

Straussians, the forebears of modern neoconservatism, more or less explicitly incorporate the idea of using fundamentalist Christianity as a palliative to disarm the masses intellectually.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:19 PM on November 18, 2007 [2 favorites]


Nativist indeed.

At least Bill the Butcher seemed like he'd be fun to go drinkin with.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:18 PM on November 18, 2007


Ugandan wheat rust

Never heard about that before. Fuck.
posted by afu at 2:22 AM on November 19, 2007


Huh, so it's come to my attention that "Democrat party" is a slur.

Popularized by sites like Free Republic, with an emphasis on the final syllable - DemocRAT. It's a petty thing the Right Wing upper echelons encourage while pretending they don't know why we find it offensive.
posted by scalefree at 10:10 AM on November 19, 2007


DemocRATs and RepubliCONs. Seems perfectly true in both cases.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:07 PM on November 19, 2007


I prefer Repugnicunts, but for some people get offended by that for some reason. Go figure.
posted by psmealey at 3:17 AM on November 20, 2007


$20 Billion in Afghanistan, Iraq Contract Cash Goes to Unidentified Companies
posted by homunculus at 12:48 PM on November 20, 2007


I'm starting to think the USA is going to have to simply declare the US Dollar null and void, and start a new currency. You simply can't print as many dollar bills as they have and not end up devaluing real property.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:45 PM on November 20, 2007


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