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Friday, March 01, 2013

Liberals adrift on a sea of red ink

One revealing stress test of a political viewpoint is the way it deals with facts that are large, consequential and ideologically inconvenient.

For conservatives, the challenge is climate change. A variety of studies, using increasingly refined methodologies, indicate that climate change is happening and that greenhouse emissions play a contributing role. But many on the right aren’t comfortable with the policy implications. So some deny the science; more ignore or downplay it.

For liberals, the challenge is deficits and debt. President Obama argues that we are “more than halfway towards the $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists and elected officials from both parties say we need to stabilize our debt.” Economist Paul Krugman calls the deficit “a problem that is already, to a large degree, solved.” At a recent meeting of the House Financial Services Committee, two Democratic members objected to the display of the debt clock — a running count of the federal debt — as “a political prop designed to message ideologically.” Numbers, it turns out, have an offensive ideological bias.

Downplaying the debt — arguing that it has stabilized as a percentage of gross domestic product in a 10-year window — has become an ideological commitment on the left. It is often accompanied by criticism of the “deficit scolds” who attribute moral content to a mathematical dispute.
Read the rest here.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Spacious comparison.

Debt is really a fiction. All that's needed to "fix" the debt is to forget it. Those who "own" the debt will just lose money. They already have enough. Ancient cultures knew this which is why they instituted "jubilee" years, debt forgiveness on regime changes etc;

Read David Graeber's book, Debt, to grasp how fictional debt actually is.

On the other hand, climate change is not fictional. It cannot be solved by the means described above. It will take a massive change in economics etc; to deal with it. Obviously, the wealthy don't want this.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

So your solution is to default on the national debt? That would of course crash the stock and bond markets overnight and plunge the entire world into another Great Depression. But have fun.

Typical liberal economics. Borrow money and then just decline to repay it. Oh and good luck every getting anyone to EVER lend us money again.

Anonymous said...

Oh please!

Who do you think "owns" the debt?

When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. The vast majority of Americans have nothing. They wouldn't lose anything.

All of this debt fixation is pandering to the rich, the very rich, who, somehow are supposed to be more deserving than anyone else and who therefore must be obeyed.

A version of the Our Father has it as "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors".

Interesting that the essence of this prayer is somehow not considered practical, realistic, but just pious fantasy.

You, being practical, will, of course, come up with an elaborate denial of the truth of this prayer, ( alternative translation, it's not really about "this world", it's a true sentiment but that's all, we must be realistic etc;etc;), and argue that yes....we must bow to the wealthy.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

Anonymous,
I don't need to come up with a denial of the truth of the prayer because you have misquoted it. The correct rendering is "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us."

That is not an economic injunction. It is a spiritual one calling us to repentance. The Biblical verse you are looking for with respect to unilaterally nullifying your own debts is found in Exodus 20:15 to whit "Thou shall not steal."

What you are proposing is pure unadulterated theft.

As for the economic consequences I will address those at greater length in a blog post dedicated to the subject.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Oh and good luck every getting anyone to EVER lend us money again.

Sovereign default has happened through history. The false economy dependent on transfer payments and money-printing is liquidated; it was not sustainable in any event. Everybody will have to suffer the consequences of years of living beyond our means. That's what happens to thieves who rob future taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

"unadulterated theft"?

From whom?

Who lends money? The poor or the rich?

Who "owns" the "debts"? The poor or the rich?

If the rich don't get their "owed debt", will they starve? Will they lose anything?


The whole thing is a fiction..a creation from "way back" that deserves going way back. See Draeger's book on debt. Credit has always been around. It's the foundation of civilization but Babylon, Sumeria developed it mainly to support the State, (gasp!).

All of our economic problems can be solved easily once one realizes that it's basically human behavior and expectations. These are changeable, malleable, open to discussion, annulled by simple fiat.
They are not the laws of physics or chemistry.

All of our economic problems are "solvable", depending only on human desire.

Climate change, global warming, these are not so malleable. They are true laws of reality.

The stock market, the bond market, are not true entities or forces. They are fictional creations. They are merely the sum total of human desire. They can be beneficent or evil, depending on human desire.

The basic problem is that we've mistaken our desires, our greed, as being real as the laws governing the material world.

Climate change is not so malleable, nor so forgiving.

I think this argument will be moot in a few years....I'm sure a ton of gold will buy some air conditioning, water and food...not.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

"unadulterated theft"?

From whom?


Does it matter? God did not say "Thou shall not steal unless they are rich and then you can rob them blind." I know you have a pathological hatred for the well off but if you want to steal from them and expect it to be OK morally you are going to need to take that up with God. He says rather clearly that you can't.

Who "owns" the "debts"? The poor or the rich?


Mostly foreign governments and the middle class. Wealthy people rarely buy US Government bonds because the interest is fully taxable. They generally buy state and municipal bonds whose interest is tax free. About a third of the national debt is held by foreign governments. About a quarter by households in this country and abroad, about 20% by pension funds, mutual funds and the like for IRAs and 401ks and state and business pensions for retired workers. Roughly 15% is held by the Federal Reserve Bank and less that 10% is held by banks insurance companies and other businesses. 5% is held by state and local governments that use the interest for their own projects (fire police parks libraries roads etc. as well as their retirement programs for civil service employees).

I should also mention that a large part of the national debt is held by the Social Security Trust Fund which has been "lending" the US Government money for decades. Default on the debt and Social Security is instantly bankrupt.

In summary you are proposing to mostly rob the middle and working class of their retirement.

If the rich don't get their "owed debt", will they starve? Will they lose anything?

What does that have to do with the morality of theft?

The whole thing is a fiction..a creation from "way back" that deserves going way back. See Draeger's book on debt. Credit has always been around. It's the foundation of civilization but Babylon, Sumeria developed it mainly to support the State, (gasp!).

All of our economic problems can be solved easily once one realizes that it's basically human behavior and expectations. These are changeable, malleable, open to discussion, annulled by simple fiat.
They are not the laws of physics or chemistry.


You are a leftist moron (but I repeat myself) who is utterly clueless about economics. If you annul 16 trillion in debt you will plunge the world into a depression that will make the 1930's look like a cake walk. You will almost certainly spark the collapse of the financial system including virtually all of our banks and wipe out the savings of almost anyone who doesn't have their money in gold or silver buried in their back yard.

You will probably spark a hyperinflation since our money is backed by nothing except the good name of the United States which you propose to utterly destroy.

And for good measure you just might start another world war since about a third of our debt is held by other countries who will be highly pissed if we flip them the bird and tell them that we are keeping their money and if they don't like it they can just bugger off.

The rest of your comment was either off topic or too inane to waste my time responding to it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, cut it out.

The real "deficit" is that of environmental degradation.

That's whats being left to future generations. a world with less beauty. a world with less variety...all for the sake of what? ,,,, and they will probably die because of it.

Iceland told the bankers, "screw you", and managed to save their middle class and others.

You're fixated on a fiction...

John (Ad Orientem) said...

The environment is another subject entirely and not one I'm going into. Sorry not biting. That's the standard liberal MO... if you can't argue the facts then change the subject.

Iceland did not default on it's national debt. What Iceland did (and quite correctly IMHO) was to refuse to nationalize the private obligations of their country's banks.

For the love of God please get a clue if you want to debate serious subjects on here. I am rapidly reaching the point where I am just going to ignore your idiotic comments or ban you for trolling.

Anonymous said...

Oh, go on and ban me for trolling, whatever that is, ( it just means stating opinions different from the blog...).

The environment is something different....? When the article linked to mentions it...if only for a few sentences?

Did you notice how the write of the article gave a nod to the looming environmental crisis, ( a few sentences...). but gave the majority of his attention to the "real crisis"...that of money?

It gives me the picture of those trying to stuff money, ( and fighting over it), into luggage while a hurricane is barreling down on them.

I think you need to give some serious thought, and prayer, to what's really going on.

(Besides, if I was really trolling, you'd get more "traffic").