I have a sinking suspicion that this is what was meant by that college entrance exam that placed my math skills at about the 66% level nationally. Allow me to eludicate: I SUCK AT MATH. Apparently 2/3 of college-bound people sucked even worse.
Now, even with my pathetic math skills, I can tell that spending more than you make is bad; that what goes up must come down; that capitalism REQUIRES some people and individuals to fail whether they deserve it or not; and that whenever people start treating anything as a collectible, it's going to boom-and-bust. Those things seem obvious to me. They weren't obvious to Mr. Greenspan.
Okay, at least I had the sense to look at my math skills and say, "Eh, I'm a writer, not a mathematician." When I have better economic sense than the people who are running the economy ... that is not a restful thought.
Of course, they could know exactly what's going on and simply be lying while they grab as much money as they can and then flee like the crooks they are.
"Simply be lying..." Well, that works for me. They've done it all along. They've used fear tactics with the skill of a Mafia mobster for the entire time to terrorize people into giving up personal privacy and rights, and you can't produce that much fear without lies as well as plain old threats.
Well said. Not to throw fuel on the fire and I think I'm about to. Here's my biggest concern about the incoming administration, or rather about the one still destroying the country. I was elated that Obama had won and that the Democrats had picked up more seats in Congress, but I knew that the current administration still had over 70 days to continue mucking things up. I think they want to so bankrupt the gov't that the next Congress will not be able to afford to fund the programs so desperately needed for lower and middle income families.
Oh, I agree. The current Administration started going into overdrive in the summer, when I think they began to realize the Elephant might lose, to do as much damage as possible in their remaining time. But I think the actual motive is greed more than a determination to scotch social programs (it might be...it might also be to ensure that any incoming Democrat will look bad.) By granting as many concessions to the mining and oil industries as possible, I believe the Administration is boosting its own profits.
Oil is a large part of the picture, but I think slightly differently than you do, because I grew up in Texas in the '50s--and my mother works for a small oil company that connected to larger ones. So I had an inside view of the oil bidness (as it's said down here) for some very formative years. The oil business itself drove bad policy decisions, both domestic and foreign, in a number of administrations prior to the current one--this one just made the worst possible decisions over and over, in pursuit of traditional oil policy positions. That's a whole 'nuther rant, which I may never write because--since my mother died almost 20 years ago--I have had no access to her memories. I do have my own (the quiet, docile girl reading a book in the corner while the men talk business may not be concentrating on the book.) I spent considerable time sitting in corners and reception rooms of various oil-business headquarters--Dallas, Midland, San Antonio, Houston because my mother had to travel on business. Amazing what you can learn when people are quietly chatting outside the conference room...amazing what you can learn when someone sticks you in their law library for a few hours.
Anyway. The damage the oil business did to US policy started long ago but has only escalated with the coming end of the oil age, which was well-known and predicted at least as early as I came in contact with the business. My mother did exhibits for the legal staffs--helped with presentations that ended up in Congress--and whenever she worked late on something, which was a lot, I was at the office with her, doing homework (and looking over her shoulder to see how she did what she did.) Back then, as a kid, I believed everything I was told--until it began to make the wrong kind of sense, as I read more and more history, especially military history but also economic history.
While I must confess I did not miss the thrust of your argument, I must disagree just a bit. While Bush et. al. are indeed more than a bit culpable, I don't think they did the whole shebang. Why? Philosophy.
Bushy is a private guy. Meaning private = good, public = bad. That means regulation that restricts the actions of private must be stopped, and anything that funnels moneys to private must be encouraged. Based on that, restrictions on monetary silliness is lifted just as "privatisation" is forced down the public throat. Blackwater draws all the big bucks just because Eric Prince funds a private army, while the boys and girls in uniform get screwed with triple deployments.
On one hand, Wall St. goombas create Collateralized Debt Obligations and debt swap agreements, unsustainable for exactly the reasons you mention above; without the ability to pay the loans, they will fail. On the other, an uncaring administration digs us deeper into Middle Eastern trenches with private armies.
The result? Bailouts for those that precipitated this crisis and a mess for the next administration to clean up. I separate the two only in that Bush would have planned more thoroughly had this been part of a master strategy.
What makes me apoplectic are the people who *STILL* say that tax cuts create jobs. Well, yeah, they do....offshore. The company I work for is shifting EVERY SINGLE job opening that doesn't require a physical presence in-country to India. They don't care that they pay the people 25% of a US salary and get 10% of the work, because the remaining US workers are forced to pick up the slack and now most of us are doing twice the work we used to for no additional pay. So they still make their profit out of our (the employees') flesh. Isn't that all that matters? (Rolls eyes.)
Plus, as you so eloquently pointed out, since the jobs were moved to India, the tax revenue from them no longer goes to the US government, and workers in the US can't get jobs.
As someone else said, when math-dummies like me can figure this out, it's nothing short of terrifying that top government officials can't. Of course, I also believe, as a different someone else said, that it's not a matter of 'not figuring it out' so much as it is intentionally breaking the government. They'll all fly to Paraguay on 21 Jan, and our only hope is that the plane has difficulties en route and they have to land somewhere where they'll get arrested and sent to the Hague to answer to war-crimes charges. (No, I'm not holding my breath on that one.)
They've allowed theory to overcome common sense. The theory is a very comfortable one for those in power, so of course they don't want to give it up--and people who don't want to face facts can not see them even as they trip over them.
Do I think they'll all run away with all the money they can stuff in the private planes? You betcha. The kind of wealth and security we're talking about does not produce real courage--it produces a frantic desire to keep every single scrap of privilege because not having it is so scary.
The Paraguayans may not be as friendly as they hope.
I don't get the whole privatisation thing anyway.
If you're the government, you need to cover your costs and make enough money to be able to reinvest in future projects.
If you're a private investor, you need to do the above, *plus* make money for sharesholders/investors.
So whoever says that the private sector can deliver the same service cheaper than the state, err, err,
No. I still don't get it.
There's no evidence that private companies provide services cheaper, you're right.
But privatization has benefits for governments that wish to shed responsibility, and makes it harder for consumers to insist on quality service/goods. Of course it IS ironic that an Administration which regularly insists that others be held accountable is the very same one happily shedding responsibility as fast as possible.
Amen. I've been saying some of the same things for years, and no one believed me (well, almost no one). Without personal responsibility on the part of all of us (especially the CEOs and groups that think you can dump crap in the water somewhere else and it won't affect us, or blow up someone somewhere and the fallout won't drift over, that you can destroy the land and it will have no consequences, etc.) I think we're not going to solve the problems.
I hope we learn to work together. I hope we learn that we're all in this together. I hope we be responsible to ourselves and to each other.
People don't learn to be responsible by being privileged. Entitlement teaches irresponsibility except in the accumulation and protection of personal privilege.
Personally, I'd take all the top executives (not their minions, who work darned hard and get sneered at), put them on minimum wage with no access to any other source of funding and no contact with one another--them and their families. No political activity allowed. No clandestine source of funds or influence.
Until their level of arrogance and irresponsibility is shown to be unprofitable, they'll try to hang onto it. We need to make it unprofitable, even painful, for people in those positions to act they way they've acted. Not going to be easy. All our rewards (position, celebrity, money, influence, etc.) are aimed at people who are irresponsible, greedy, and "more hat than cattle" in the competency department.
I basically agree with everything you all said, but, sorry, who voted in Bush and his team for a second term. I thought your voters were nuts at the time. They say the country gets the government it deserves.
Oh, come on. I didn't vote for Bush in ANY of his campaigns. If you think everyone voted for him, you're ignorant; if you know better but snarked anyway so you could feel superior, you're being rude. And that fake "sorry" doesn't fool me a bit. You're not sorry: you're gloating.
The next time your government does something stupid (and every government does) do you want me to come waltzing in and accuse you of getting what you deserve?
i'm glad i started reading your blog way back when it started. i don't comment much, but, you are a remarkable individual who hits the nail on the head pretty damn often!
and, i'm angry too. it's outrageous!
One reason for a government to run balances or even surpluses rather than deficits when times are good is so that some judicious deficit spending can be sustained when times are bad in order to fund the kinds of infrastructure programs you mention that do create jobs and get important things done.
If a government is already too deep in debt when a crunch comes along, it may not be able to do what is necessary, thus making things worse.
Just another member of the choir here...