Budget Deficit Blues 02-02-10

I put up a link on the the main page to a news analysis article from today’s NY Times “Huge Deficits May Alter U.S. Politics and Global Power”. I am at a lose…. I really have no clue about what kind of solution there may be to this compounding and exponential problem. Do you? I doubt it…

I was chatting with my neighbor the day after the State of the Union Address. He said “I don’t like what Obama is doing. He is spending all of this money and running up the deficit.” I said, I agree, but it wasn’t just him. His predecessor came into office with a budget surplus and spent his way into a huge hole. He lowered taxes while fighting two wars.

My neighbor agreed it has been a mess for a long time. He is a reasonable man. And we both stared at the sidewalk shaking our heads. Neither one of use had any idea how to get out of this hole.

I think we are like most post millennial Americans. We look around and see things coming unglued, we have a sense that things ought to be better for our families, our friends and ourselves. But we have no idea where to start to turn things around so we can head towards a safe harbor.

For the better part of the last 40 years, (my entire life on Earth) we have seen the standard of living for the average Joe and Jane of this country fall. It falls ever so slightly every year. So slightly that we hardly noticed at first. We didn’t mind having to have a two income family if it meant a bigger house and two nice cars. But now only the lucky ones among us have bigger houses and two nice cars, and the rest of us former middle class can not pay our bills.

When you listen to the pundits and politicians talk about our budget deficit, they all seem to have a way to fix the mess we are in. Republicans say we need to cut taxes across the board to increase growth and cut entitlements. The Democrats say we need to increase taxes (but just on the wealthy) and look to cut just the wasteful aspects of entitlements.

You could take a time machine back to the 1980’s and hear exactly the same arguments. We have been debating this issue as long as I can remember. The difference now they say, is that we really are at the end of our credit limit, we really do need to start doing something about it.

To me that sounds like someone who has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer deciding to quit smoking.

There is more than enough blame to go around, but just for shits and giggles, I like to blame the Baby Boomers. They don’t appreciate being blamed, but fuck it, go ahead and blame them.

They’ve been running the show for the last 30 years, they knew all along that we were facing a Day of Reckoning like none we have ever seen, but they kept doing what they were doing. They went from protesting the Vietnam War to supporting two wars in Iraq.

I could go on and on about why it is their fault. They could come back at me with all the good they have done for the country. It would be a fun argument. It would be even more fun over a few glasses of whiskey. We’d both get heated. Get our Irish up, disagree philosophically, throw a few F you’s around and end up right back where we are now. In a shit hole up to our necks.

In my view, we, and by we I mean us, our country, America… bit off more than we could chew. We promised everything to everybody. We had the world by the balls and we liked to squeeze them.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I love doomsday economic theories. I know it is a sick hobby. Go watch American Idol if that makes you feel better. At least you won’t know we’ve crashed until it has already happened. But I like what I like and I am not going to change… unless someone pays me to change…

The current doomsday theory holds that the dollar, currently the “world reserve currency”, is going to collapse like the Ponzi scheme that it is. What does this mean? It means we’re all fucked, picture someone with a million Confederate Dollars in May of 1865. You were a millionaire in March, and a couple of months later you were flat broke

Dig a little deeper into the doomsday theory, and at this point why not, you’re already fucked, just below the theory of the collapsing dollar is the theory of Peak Oil. The idea that the world is running out of cheap, easy to find, oil. Once oil becomes scarce, we can all kiss our bloated, suburban couch surfing, fresh salads in February lifestyles goodbye.

All of this doomsday scenario contemplating makes me depressed. It makes me wish I had the SAT scores to get into Harvard, earn an MBA and work for Goldman Sachs. It makes me wish I had a mansion on a hill in Connecticut and a summer house on The Vineyard. So I could escape the collapse in the comfort of my gated community.

But I am just Aimlow Joe, an unemployed schmo… a cog in the wheel that is coming off the track. Helpless to do anything about our impending budgetary doom.

I hope I am still around to see the ship turn around. To see America become the light of the world…

Or at least I hope I am around to see the ship scuttled on the rocks as all of us rats scurry to the shore and forage for what is left of this once prosperous county.

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