Happy Days Are Hear Again

No spelling error. Funny what you hear if you listen to criticism. Eleanor Clift disparaged President Bush since he is unpopular DESPITE a good economy. I don’t recall her callling the economy good in other contexts. Today’s paper warned that Bush’s diplomatic success in ending a 20 year civil war in southern Sudan was in jeopardy.

This "success" was two years ago. Who knew? We hear that the President's proposed tax break for the poor to buy insurance is worthless. Their taxes are too low to pay their own way even if they get it all back. Maybe the rich are paying more than we hear.

Of course, the stock market may be worse after that great year it had in 2006. Then we will hear about the decline. That will be news. I can confidently predict that the 2007 hurricane season will be worse that last year’s, since having NO hurricanes hit the U.S. is as good as it is gets. That will be news. We sure heard about the big hurricane year before that.

I understand that good news is not as interesting as bad news. Few people would watch the news if reporters stood in front of peaceful rivers and reported they were not flooding. But often the people who jump on the bad news bandwagon are the same ones who so enthusiastically deny initial good news. There is something in human nature that looks fondly back at the past, views the present with suspicion and the future with trepidation. Our memories work like ratchets. When we get something good, we assume that is now “normal” and expect better. But there is more to it than this.

The Democrats and their allies worked overtime to paint the world in shades or gray & black. They rode to victory on bad news, because they sure didn't emphasize positive plans or programs. Finding bad news is easy. Every benefit has a cost. How much bait did it take to catch that ten pound bass? Maybe you wasted some. When you consider the cost in shiners, crayfish and worms, not to mention the time spent, was it really worth it? The Democratic headline would be, "Ten Worms Lost"

But now what about the benchmarks they have set? Unemployment of 4.5% is too high and economic growth of 3% is too low. How much better will it be when Dem policies start to work? The Dems terminated with prejudice the President’s Social Security plans. What are they going to do? In fact, the Dems are in a position to do all the things they say the Republicans should have done.

The Dems have two options. They can either do impossible things or else they can lower expectations (i.e. be realistic) and start calling some of the good news good. Actually they have only one option. I expect the news will improve as perceptions become more realistic. Happy times are hear again.

Posted by Jack at January 28, 2007 3:56 PM
Comments
Comment #205465

This isn’t bad news.
It’s a sign post of what lays ahead.
The past few decades have been financed with massive debt, spending, borrowing, and money-printing.
It’s easy to look economically healthy and fool the voters, while heaping massive debt onto many future generations to come.

BOTH irresponsible Democrat or Republican politicians got us here, along with most voters help by rewarding politicians for it, by repeatedly re-electing them.

Some people are fairly certain about what the results of so much fiscal irresponsibility will be, such as Bernanke’s, Greenspan’s, and David Walker’s warnings. Unfortunately, most voters don’t even know who those people are, understand the magnitude of the fiscal problems, and/or consider those concerns nothing out of the usual ?

Many things may be too far along for Democrats or Republicans to fix. Some things may already be beyond the point where the painful consequences can be avoided. The debt situation is one that will affect many generations to come.

Other than that, everything is wonderful.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 5:05 PM
Comment #205467

Jack, You are right about one thing. As 2008 approaches, the new “IN PARTY” will be trying to paint a rosier than reality picture, and the “OUT PARTY” will be trying to paint a darker than reality picture.

Neither will change reality.

The voters sad choice is between:

  • (1) divided party control, grid-lock, and problems go ignored, or

  • (2) one-party rule, and our problems not only go ignored, but grow in number and severity.
  • And, voters keep re-electing them; letting each take turns at being the “IN PARTY” and the “OUT PARTY” without any consideration that it might have to do something with the 90% re-election rate of Congress.

    Perhaps we should take Andre M. Hernandez’s advice.

    Isn’t it about time someone in the rose-colored column recommend the same thing?

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 5:19 PM
    Comment #205468

    Hey Jack,

    I’m not sure what the point of this post is. That Democrats are all doom and gloom? What does that mean? Does it mean the debt is something not to be worried about? Does it mean that New Orleans is not an issue that needs to be addressed? I could go on and on…

    So… what’s your complaint? That perfectly legitimate issues and criticisms are being raised by Democrats, Republicans, and the media without constantly slapping Bush on the back for anything that’s happened to go right? Excuse me for not congratulating Bush for no hurricanes hitting us this year.


    Posted by: Max at January 28, 2007 5:27 PM
    Comment #205470

    Side note:
    The Atlantic hurricane season last year resulted in a lot of swimmers- bad news for Bermuda, good news for the US. However, the Pacific season resulted in four Category V storms, including Ioke, the strongest Cat V ever recorded in the Pacific. Global Warming models do not predict more hurricanes; they predict that when hurricanes occur, they will be more powerful hurricanes. Viewed globally, the 2006 hurricane matched predictions.

    Posted by: phx8 at January 28, 2007 5:48 PM
    Comment #205471

    And global warming was to produce more hurricaines?

    I am still waiting for the Democrats to produce an agenda worthy of consideration. Accepting defeat in a war sure is not worthy, but it is part of what the Democrats want. Ethics reform is beyond the comprehension of the Democrats. Bi-partisan to the Democrat is liberal and moderate cooperation. Universal health care is going to paid for how? The first 100 hours has produced nothing but an attempt to get a federal hate crimes bill passed which would have to hire 50,000 new thought police. Maybe they mis-spoke and it was to be 100 days. Considering their short work week, that would be a long time.

    Since the Democrats are in control in New Orleans and billions and billions of dollars have been spent there, one would think they are on their way back to a beautiful city. Then reality hits, they sure like the money down there and a new circle of millionsaires should surface any day now.

    Posted by: tomh at January 28, 2007 5:51 PM
    Comment #205472

    phx8,

    Good point.

    If we screw up our own environment, all the other problems may not matter.

    Due to our limited ability to even control our own excessive emissions (quadruple of any other nation), much less those of other nations, caution is advisable. Does anyone really believe human activitiy has no negative impact on the planet?

    Global warming isn’t the only major environmental concern. Polution is serious. Tests show we all have higher levels of all sorts of chemicals in our bodies. Eating too much fish may be hazardous (due to Mercury). Clean water is hard to find. Our oceans are being severely over-fished, the entire region around Chernobyl is uninhabitable, and at the rate arable land is disappearing, it will be gone in 310 years (which does not even include any increases in the current world population of 6.63 billion people).

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 6:06 PM
    Comment #205473

    SELECT * FROM [Jack’s Post] WHERE Post contains ‘Iraq’

    0 ROWS returned

    Posted by: bobo at January 28, 2007 6:22 PM
    Comment #205475

    Funny!
    You are obviously versed in SQL.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 6:38 PM
    Comment #205477

    Max

    My complaint is that good news is only good in the rear view mirror.

    In since 2003 the economy has been good. No Democrat would admit that when it was happening. Now they look back and complain that these days things are getting worse.

    Or think about those famous doomsday clocks. They sit a couple of minutes before midnight. According to this way of thinking, the terminal crisis is upon us. By now we should be gone, yet we abide.

    Phx8

    I believe global warming is a problem, but I do not share your sense of urgency (i.e. we need to make radical changes today). But the climate change folks have the ideal rhetorical situation. Any change in the weather they see as proof of their position and weather is by its nature very changeable. The average temperature, rainfall etc for a decade will be made up of many extremes, which on balance are moderate.

    The last time the world was as warm as it is today was around 1000 years ago. We have very incomplete records from that time, but there is indications that the weather was more moderate, not less. Society improved. When the little ice ages started, things got worse.

    I have been aware of climate and history for a long time, well before the current global warming debate. Ice ages and climate in history has been my interest for a long time. In early history texts, we used to call warm periods “climate optimal”. The Roman Empire flourished during a climate optimal when the isotherm that defines the Mediterranean cultural area extended into Germany and Britain. The high Middle Ages (all those great cathedrals etc) came during a climate optimal.

    This is not to minimize possible problems, but the sky is not falling just yet. We should take reasonable steps and we will solve this problem. Extreme ones, that cannot be supported will be counter productive.

    I have been lifting weights since I was 15. I do it moderately and successfully for more than 35 years. Over those times, others have asked for my advice. I can always tell who will NOT be successful by their passion. They want to do everything at once. They want to work out all the time. They just end up hurting themselves and they stay weak. The same goes for almost everything. We need to take steps, but steps we all can live with. Nothing too much.

    Posted by: Jack at January 28, 2007 6:54 PM
    Comment #205482

    “I have been lifting weights since I was 15. I do it moderately and successfully for more than 35 years. Over those times, others have asked for my advice. I can always tell who will NOT be successful by their passion. They want to do everything at once. They want to work out all the time.”

    We call people like you, with no passion, week-end worriors.

    Posted by: 037 at January 28, 2007 7:15 PM
    Comment #205485

    037,

    I’m just wondering when Jack is going to lift that full grown cow, he began lifting as a calf, over the fence.

    Posted by: gergle at January 28, 2007 7:29 PM
    Comment #205486

    tomh said: “Accepting defeat in a war sure is not worthy, but it is part of what the Democrats want.”

    I think Democrats want Republicans to accept the defeat in last November’s elections, worthy or not. Probably not a bad idea, if Republicans ever hope to get power back in another few decades. Robert E. Lee demonstrated dignity in defeat. Is it so hard for Republicans today to accept reality when it has crushed them. Remember, Democrats didn’t win, Republicans gave up the trust they had by the people.

    Iraq is the same. The civil war there will not end with our staying, nor with our leaving. The corruption and one-sided Shiite dominance in the current Iraqi government will not change if we stay, or we leave.

    So why, are Republicans so intent on killing our brave soldiers who do what their country asks, when there is nothing to be gained by them or our nation in staying in the middle of that civil war being killed and maimed by both sides, Shiites and Sunnis.

    The answer is obvious. Far too many Republicans today have no conception of the integrity of character which Robert E. Lee summoned to admit defeat and end the senseless and useless loss of more of his brave young men and followers.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 28, 2007 7:33 PM
    Comment #205487

    Jack, Bush and diplomacy should never be used in the same sentence together. The very picture of Bush diplomatizing in the Sudan with swords raised on one side to his left, and rifles raised by the other side on his right, and Bush speaking words so eloquent that both sides lay down their arms for Bush has spoken.

    Thanks for the belly laugh. !@

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 28, 2007 7:38 PM
    Comment #205488

    gergle
    Thanks for overlooking my type o’s
    I almost wet my pants as I read what he had wrote. I have never found a person with lack of passion for their chosen disciple really good at anything. But hey, it is just my perspective.

    Posted by: 037 at January 28, 2007 7:40 PM
    Comment #205489

    Jack,
    Don’t you think this economy has been temporarily propped up with massive debt, borrowing, spending, and money-printing?
    After all, look at the size of the total federal debt, National Debt, Social Security debt, unfunded Medicare liabilities that may dwarf Social Security, the PBGC debt (altogether, over $22 trillion).
    Now, include nationwide personal debt of $20 trillion.
    How about the warnings from Bernanke, Greenspan, and David Walker.

    Don’t worry. Republicans aren’t the “IN PARTY” anymore.
    So, are those warnings merely alarmist?

    Like global warming, is it wise to ignore the warnings about the massive debt being heaped onto future generations?

    As for global warming, the dangerous thing about it is that we (the U.S.), or any other single nation can control of fix it. World-wide cooperation is required. That should help to understand the dangers. The U.S. (with 300 million people) already emits quadruple the CO2 emissions of any nation (of over 3 million people). Just think when China (with 1.3 billion people) and India (with 1.1 billion people) start doing the same thing.

    I don’t think it is just my imagination.
    The U.S. has some growing problems that have the potential to unravel society as we know it, and few (if any), including the MSM, are giving them the attention they are due.
    Ignoring or downplaying them or trying to paint rosy pictures (especially for partisan reasons) seems irresponsible.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 7:42 PM
    Comment #205491

    Hey I think Jack has a new motto for the Marines “nothing to much”. Do you think they will like it?? I kinda like “be all you can be”

    Posted by: 037 at January 28, 2007 7:46 PM
    Comment #205499

    037

    37 years of lifting weights. I can still bench more than 300lb. I can do more than ten chin ups. I can run more than five miles and I can do more than 50 pushups. I do not know how much more because my lack of passion means I never bother to find out. On the other hand, my lack of passion means I use these things in a sensible way.

    With exercise, as with most things in life, sustainability is more important than momentary passions. Weight lifting is not my passion. It is a way to stay in good condition. I think the record is good so far.

    Gergle

    I tried that thing with my kids. It didn’t work.

    David

    But the Bush diplomacy DID largely end this civil war. Even if it only lasts for two years, it is still better than anybody else did for the previous 20.

    Posted by: Jack at January 28, 2007 8:04 PM
    Comment #205512

    Jack
    I admire your willingness to stick with your program. I may have taken your lack of passion for something it was not, lack of heart. “Slow and steady wins the race” is a decent philosophy, and to argue otherwise would be disengenuous on my part.

    Posted by: 037 at January 28, 2007 8:24 PM
    Comment #205513

    You know Reagan got a lot of bad press back when he held office, so did Clinton, so did JFK, and so did Lincoln…

    you know come to think of it ALL of our presidents got a lot of bad press.

    Except Nixon, the press really liked Nixon.

    Maybe there is something to that.

    Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at January 28, 2007 8:26 PM
    Comment #205514

    David,

    Few Americans have the integrity and strength of character that Robert E. Lee had. Few Americans then had the integrity and stregth of charater that Robert E. Lee had. He is truly a role model for all of us.

    Posted by: Rob at January 28, 2007 8:32 PM
    Comment #205530

    037, “be all you can be” was Army, NOT marines.

    The Marines thing was:

    “I want to eat dead burnt bodies, with veins sticking out from my teeth, I wanna kill, I wanna kill, I WANNA KILL” or so, Arlo Guthrie sung it.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 28, 2007 9:26 PM
    Comment #205531

    Jack avoids me.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 28, 2007 9:29 PM
    Comment #205532

    Jack
    Those rose collored glasses must pinch your nose occasionally. Wage rates remain static in spite of low unemployment. This is a direct result of federal policies either in trade agreements,encouragement of outsourcing,packing the NLRB with anti-labor schills.Inflation is being kept down in spite of profligate war spending and high energy prices by beating up working people.
    The income gap is wide and widening. Also largely as a result of federal policies. I am not saying this as part of an egalitarian dream disapointment but this will lead to great instability if it does not change.As an historian you have seen that before,correct?
    You will not see some big fix of SS from the Dems nor should you. If it ain’t broke ,don’t fix it.The sky is not falling. If nothing is done the program remains solvent until2042 and then 70% of benefits will be payable. The date would be pushed back furthur with small changes like raiseing the income cap.The baby boom bubble was planned for years ago. We have never failed to honor our bonds,even through wars and depressions and there is no reason to expect that now.
    As for the war an increasing number of Reps are also comming to grips with the sad fact that the chance to achieve victory was squandered some time ago. What is left now is the sad task of a decent withdrawel from a war that should never have been.
    Back to the economy. It is easy to have a party if you can write all the bad checks you want. It is time for the grownups to take over. Are you proud of the Bush deficit? Are those that point to it in alarm just doom-sayers? I think not.
    I suppose Bush deserves some credit for his flip flop on energy independance. He is faceing the right direction. Now we will see if he takes any steps forward. His hydrogen boondogle actually requires that hydrogen be made from oil instead of say,water. We have reason not to trust him or his regime on those matters. I got a blurb from The Union of Concerned Scientist pointing out the EPA is seriously considering dropping lead from their oversite. Back to leaded gas with all its health problems? Not a very good energy solution.

    Posted by: BillS at January 28, 2007 9:32 PM
    Comment #205533

    Jack, if you want to give Rice or our Ambassador credit, or our State Dept. in general, I am with you. But, Bush? Bush wouldn’t know a superordinate goal if it hit him in the face. A diplomat, Bush is not. And diplomacy of the sincere mediating and moderating kind have never been in his skill bag.

    Now give him a script, and he can be anything his handlers want him to be, provided the wind doesn’t blow the script away.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 28, 2007 9:34 PM
    Comment #205538

    d.a.n.

    I just have a short attention span.

    You are right about China & India and CO2. We produce CO2 roughly in proportion to our GDP. Th U.S. produces around a quarter of the world’s GDP and about a quarter of the CO2.

    BillS & d.a.n.

    Median real wages started to rise again last year. We always compare everything to 1999, the height of the dot.com bubble.

    The deficit doesn’t worry me very much. It has been dropping fast because of such robust revenues. It would be fine EXCEPT for the entitlements iceberg we are sailing toward.

    The demographics are just going to smash us unless we do something. Bush tried. Maybe he was wrong, but the Dem idea of doing nothing (except maybe raising taxes) is not helpful. Talk about rose glasses.

    David

    If you give Bush the blame for what his administration does, you have to give him the credit too.

    You actually are addressing one of the points of this post. We gloss over the good news and then jump on the bad stuff.

    Posted by: Jack at January 28, 2007 9:52 PM
    Comment #205539

    David Reimer

    We really should give credit where it is do. Putting competent people in charge and getting out of the way is often a good presidential decision and certainly the best we can hope for from this president.I just wish he had done it with Iraq instead of fireing those who disagreed.

    Posted by: BillS at January 28, 2007 9:54 PM
    Comment #205541

    Jack
    The deficit doesn’t bother you except for the entitlements comming due. That is like saying being broke is not so bad if you do not have to pay your bills.If we do not honor the SS trust bonds then you hero,milton Friedman, was party to the biggest embezzlement in history. And yes the only way to address the problem is to raise revenues and or cut spending. SS does not need the fix. The federal government does.

    Posted by: BillS at January 28, 2007 10:10 PM
    Comment #205543

    The deficit is manageable and in fact being managed. It has declined remarkable in the last three years. There is no way we could handle the entitlements crisis even if we had a surplus today. The government cannot save money. It has no place to save it. It writes itself IOUs. Today’s taxpayers pay for today’s entitlements; tomorrow’s taxpayers will be for tomorrow’s entitlements.

    Entitlements are harder because of the demographics. I am speaking of us, not them. I will be among those baby boomers breaking the system if nothing is done. It is a matter of structure.

    Let’s forget about boomer numbers and pretend that is not a problem. This is a big counter factual, but let me just set that aside. Assume that future taxpayers CAN pay for future recipients as originally intended.

    When SS was created, the retirement age was 65 and the average life expectancy was 63. Most people paying in would probably receive no benefits and those who did would not be collecting for a long time. So a person paid in for 40 years and collected for 4. Now people live longer and work less. You are probably looking at someone working for 30 years and being retired for 30. Tell me how that is not a problem.

    Posted by: Jack at January 28, 2007 10:27 PM
    Comment #205548


    The president’s people are now saying that since we may not be able to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases enough, it may be nessary to block off the sunlight, they didn’t say how. They are also going to take a serious look at all the positive aspects of global warming.

    Jack: It’s just terrible how we keep wanting to talk about the debt and ignore the great economy isn’t it? By the way, new housing starts have almost come to a complete stop in the Queen City. Darn, I forgot, it’s not called the Queen City anymore. It’s called the Blue Chip City now. The change is one of those freedom fries kind of thing.

    Posted by: jlw at January 29, 2007 12:05 AM
    Comment #205549

    Jack,

    Your article made me laugh. That is a great link. I think that I may base an article on your link. David is correct we Dems did not win, you Repubs lost. But we Dems have a big problem. We need the shrub for six more years - now that would be good news. Everybody counts you guys down and out for decades to come. I don’t think so, that is why I intend to continue to kill you while you are dead. See, we Dems are like Osama, that is probably why you guys think we like him so much. Just like Osama, what will we do once the shrub is gone? You guys will have us shaking in our boots if you run somebody like Giuliani, especially if we wind up stuck with Hillary. Our only prayer is that you will run a poor imitation of Bush like McCain. I think we should run Obama and Biden or a national unity ticket Biden and Hagel.

    Posted by: Ray Guest at January 29, 2007 12:22 AM
    Comment #205550

    David R. Remer-
    Let’s put aside whether people voted for the Democrats because of any sense of intrinsic superiority, because in any election victory, people can claim that to be the reason why things result that way.

    What happened in 2006 is that it finally dawned on people that Republicans weren’t the antidote to the problems that the corrupt, complacent Democrats that were voted out in 2004 created, they were an intensification and a worsening of that corruption. The cure, they recognized had become worse than the disease.

    The real problem is the Republicans in office have never wanted government to fully function. It’s against their agenda. So they’ve never felt compelled to reform what they see as inherently corrupt anyways. Those officials, being corrupt, cared no more for Republican ideals than the people they replaced cared for Democratic ideals- which is to say that you had a toxic stew of occasional good intentions mixed with a great deal of equivocating, outright deception, and expedience-oriented behavior.

    The problem the economy is that it runs well, but it runs on debt, it runs on poor circulation of wealth by employers, it runs on an underutilization of America’s talents, education, and capital towards productive ends. That problem was partially hidden by the high tides that accompanied the increase of efficiency caused by the rise of internet and computer power. Now, though, the effects of the process efficiency at low levels is creating economic problems for those below Wall Streets level.

    Are people just imagining this? No. You cannot run a consumer economy on the concentration of wealth at the top, the ruthless supression of market forces raising wages from the bottom, and the denial of good paying jobs to those who can both do well for those companies, and pay back the money for their education through their new jobs. America cannot outsource everything, because America is America’s greatest source of wealth! If you take enough buying power from the consumer, there’s nothing left to support your outsourced operations, which in turn drains business back here!

    Oh, but go on telling people their debts and their problem paying the bills are figments of their imaginations. Do you think people aren’t buying that because they’re trying to be perverse? Maybe that’s what they’re really experiencing.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 29, 2007 12:25 AM
    Comment #205572

    Jack said: “If you give Bush the blame for what his administration does, you have to give him the credit too.”

    You are absolutely right, Jack. And I do give Bush’s administration tremendous credit for the current wave of temporary short term economic indices while simultaneously purchasing them from my daughter and grandchildren’s payroll deductions. The new CBO guy just testified that legislation passed to date, takes us to 12 trillion dollars in national debt by 2012.

    I give Bush’s administration full credit for deposing Saddam Hussein, at monumentally greater costs than leaving him power and checking that power.

    I give Bush’s administration all the credit for choosing to put our troops in Iraq and leaving our borders wide open to both terrorists and illegal immigration.

    I give Bush’s administration full credit for destabilizing Middle Eastern oil prices with the invasion into Iraq, and triggering a brand new floor for OPEC pricing at about 60% higher than it was before. All the while the administration was debunking our contribution to global climate change and subsidizing the oil companies with our tax dollars and hitting us at the pumps as well.

    No, really, you are right. The opportunity costs of the Bush adminstration’s actions deserve full credit and exposure as belonging to his administration.

    Katrina, Still a mess, unresolved.

    Yucca Mt. Still a mess, unresolved.

    47 million without health care. Still a mess, untouched.

    Declining educational competitiveness in the world. Still declining.

    Ah, here is one you will like. Charitable giving is reaching new highs under this administration. Of course tax deductions, lower revenues and national debt growth may have something to do with that, along with the generous hearts of Americans empathetic toward those incurring natural disasters overseas and here. But, I must commend him for promoting charitable giving.

    I too want to commend Laura Bush for her leadership on early child education> Too bad hubbie and the GOP couldn’t find full funding for NCLB, preferring instead tax giveaways to tax dodgers owing $10,000 or more in back taxes. That always struck me as odd during a time of record national debt growth. And just this last month, IRS investigators of corporate taxes were cut, resulting in losses of revenue in the billions. Another clever Bush administration gift to corporations.

    So, yeah, I agree with you.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 29, 2007 4:14 AM
    Comment #205573

    Jack, your comments on Soc. Sec. are highly selective. Fact: If we make no changes, future workers will still be able to fund 73% of Soc. Sec. obligations. See, now there’s where no national debt and surpluses could have saved the day.

    In 2012 based on current CBO numbers and legislation already on the books, our national debt will hit 12 trillion dollars. That 12 trillion debt is 12 trillion we CAN’T borrow when the boomers need it.

    There is a limit on America’s credit card, though you will have to find it in economician’s fine print, and it varies a bit from economist to economist, but, they all agree, the limit is there.

    Every year that we add a 550 billion or 240 billion dollar deficit to the national debt adds to the trillions we cannot borrow to insure full social security benefits. Your party is responsible for doubling our national debt in 12 years. It took 200 plus years to get it to where it was when Bush took office.

    Bush and the GOP have hated entitlement programs and they have deliberately sent our national debt through the roof in order to cause those programs to become unsustainable. That is as clear as day to any without a party loyalist eye. Subsidies to corporations in the billions and billions of dollars during a time of those corporations setting record profits? That only makes sense in terms of making entitlement programs ultimately unsustainable. An elective war based on faulty trumped up and selective intelligence to support that budget buster war? Only one explanation makes sense. Absolute refusal to quit that war while he is in office regardless of what happens on the ground. Again, it only makes sense in terms of its budget busting entitlement programs in the long run, by jacking up enormous national debt today.

    The interest alone on that 12 trillion debt would save Soc. Sec. full payments for close to a decade.

    But, the people woke up. Republicans are out of power in the Congress. And at least this future economic butcher will be out of office with whatever legacy he can fantasize to soothe his rapidly aging years. Maybe he’ll rationalize that he gave one for the ‘gipper’. Though I doubt the Gipper would feel complimented by this administration.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 29, 2007 4:30 AM
    Comment #205574

    Stephen D., the poll results indicate the burgeoning group of voters now calling themselves Independents are what changed in November’s elections. Loyal Democrats still voted Democrat. Loyal Republicans still voted Republican.

    But, Republicans and Democrats alike have been losing voters to this Independent voter class, and they have both voting habits and a newfound reservation to vote out poor results.

    Mark my words. Though Luntz will tell you this was a one shot deal, I tell you it is not. The Independent voters are continuing to grow in numbers and are increasingly intent to vote a challenger in, risky as that may be, rather than vote an incumbent in when clearly the nation’s situation is not improving.

    And Stephen, the nation’s situation is not going to improve for many years, if at all. The big issues, like peace, prosperity, security, and liberty for their children is what these independent voters are demanding, and neither party is going to be able to deliver on those issues for years, and then, only if they commit to a rather drastic redefinition of what the business of being a political party is. If winning is the primary business of the RNC or DNC, then, clearly the voters will lose. And they know it. At least this independent group of voters know it.

    This is the challenge for the Democratic Party. It is not whether they can take the presidency in ‘08. That’s a piece of cake compared to the real challenge these independent voters present them.

    You heard it here first. I know, because I have not yet heard another pundit or pollster articulate the challenge as I just have. Wherever I outline this, many folks say it rings as true for them, as it does for me. Not of course, among party loyalists. To accept this proposition is to accept a major undertaking of time, effort, and struggle. What political party wants to undergo all that?

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 29, 2007 4:53 AM
    Comment #205579
    Jack wrote: The deficit doesn’t worry me very much. It has been dropping fast because of such robust revenues.
    No? Perhaps it should, when you consider the size of the $8.7 trillion National Debt?
    Jack wrote: It [deficit] would be fine EXCEPT for the entitlements iceberg we are sailing toward.
    Good analogy. This doesn’t exactly paint a rosy picture.
    Jack wrote: The demographics are just going to smash us unless we do something.
    Yes they will. That too is not a rosy outlook.
    Jack wrote: Bush tried. Maybe he was wrong, but the Dem idea of doing nothing (except maybe raising taxes) is not helpful. Talk about rose glasses.
    Yes, Democrat and Republican politicians (both) failed to stop the plundering of Social Security surpluses, most went along with the Medicare Prescription drug system, and voters were bribed with their own tax dollars. Democrat and Republican politicians are both irresponsible, but voters keep rewarding both by repeatedly re-electing them; allowing both to enjoying a 90% re-election rate.

    Perhaps the problem is that these problems have been allowed to grow too far out-of-control?

    So, based on your two statements above, how can anyone really see it as good news?
    The economy for the last few years is an illusion that was financed with massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money-printing that are creating and/or exacerbating what you call:

    • the entitlements iceberg we are sailing toward

    • demographics are just going to smash us

    … neither of which is “good news”.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 7:05 AM
    Comment #205582

    David Remer-
    Until Independents can bring that critical mass to bear for a third party, it will fall to one party or the other. What we have here is indeed a shift in the independents, but as I’ve commented before, the Independents, for the most part, have voted party line. What’s happening here is that after years of backing the Republicans, they’ve decided that’s a raw deal.

    I’m under not under the illusion that their loyalty is completely shifted, but I do think we can win these people over if we play our cards right. But only if. If we don’t, then they may drift back over to the Republicans, or the critical mass may yield to some third party or completely independent candidate.

    I think open-minded independents and third parties should admit that Democrats did speak to something, to the point where people were willing to vote for them. I think that owes to the fact that in the campaign we were less apologetic about being Democrats. Liberal has become less of a dirty word, and more a badge of pride, and it would be a shame for us to yield in practice what we gain in rhetoric.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 29, 2007 8:30 AM
    Comment #205586

    Ray

    I think we are all in agreement that Dems did not win; Republicans lost. I am surprised that Dems are not more defensive about this. Dems did not have a program or a policy. They just painted the bad news. In fact, that is one of the themes of my post above.

    I would go further. Dems could have won in 2004 if they would have fielded a living candidate. The problem back then was that Kerry probably was the best of the bad field.

    Stephen

    That we view the world differently is an understatement. I just do not see this great poverty you imagine. A couple days ago, I was down in Southside Virginia. This is one of the poorest regions of our state. It certainly is not booming, but I didn’t see any barefoot people either. I went to the local Wal-Mart, not a high end shopping experience, to buy some Coca-Cola and pistachios. They had all sort of nice things on sale. Salmon, good quality clothes, electronics etc, at everyday low prices, and the place was crowded. The pick up trucks, SUVs and cars in the lot were not exactly like the Clampets truck either. Evidently, we define poverty in the U.S. as having enough to eat, a decent place to stay and nice clothes to wear, but not having enough to feel comfortable with money. The news is that is the way it has always been and will always be. Some people have too much money, but nobody ever has enough.

    David

    Re SS - we will never come to an agreement because we have different “facts”. It causes us to draw different conclusions. I suppose both of us are right and wrong to some extent. Let me try mine again.

    I do not see paying 73% of the obligation as solvent. Usually they call that bankrupt. That is the first fact.

    I understand that it is economically impossible for the Federal government to save money for the future in any way we understand the term. All they can do is promise that future taxpayers will pay off the obligations current taxpayers make. That is fact number 2.

    Politicians are raiding SS funds. All that means is that we current taxpayers are paying less in one sort of tax and more in another sort of tax. All the money is going to the same place. It is an accounting fiction to suppose anything is really happening. If they stop borrowing from SS, they will need to cut spending or raise other taxes. HOWEVER, if they stop borrowing from SS, there will be no place to “invest” those funds. The SS system as we have it now REQUIRES that the Federal government borrow that money, at least in the accounting sense. If you do not believe me, assume the counter factual. Assume that we have a surplus and the Feds have no debt at all. Where does the money they tax in SS go?

    d.a.n.

    Entitlements are bad news. I do not see a solution until the problem becomes more acute. Politicians can avoid the problem for now and they will continue to avoid it until they hit it hard. Bush tried to open the debate and got burned up by the Dems.

    Posted by: Jack at January 29, 2007 9:29 AM
    Comment #205588

    OK, Jack. I am pleased to see that you admit that the economic picture for our children is not looking good. Look to my next article on the implications and consequences demonstrating just how really, really bad it is going to be for somewhere between 150 and 200 million Americans and what the impact will be on our entire nation at every level, from government, military, economy, ecosystems, neighborhoods, etc.

    I will give you a hint, ever seen Road Warrior?

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 29, 2007 10:01 AM
    Comment #205622

    David

    I do not think it will come to that. Our country’s wealth is growing very rapidly. Our kids probably will live a lot like we have for the last decade, it is just that they will not make the progress they would have enjoyed.

    The adjustment will be hard on us - you and me and all the other geezers of the future. Our kids may be willing to support us, but lots of the young people of 2030 are not going to be our kids. Many will be immigrants or immigrant children who feel little connection to the rich old folks feeding at the public trough. They may ask why we are healthy enough to play golf, but not healthy enough to work, and we may ask ourselves the same question.

    I figure I will be working until I am very old and I hope to die with my boots on. I think work helps give life meaning. Those looking forward to the leisurly retirement our parents enjoy might learn to love working a little more, since they will be doing a little more of it.

    Posted by: Jack at January 29, 2007 12:20 PM
    Comment #205623

    David

    One more thing about the future. The problems of the future will be solved then. There is little we can do today to ease that burden, except restructure the system to provide alternatives to SS and older retirement ages. We will do both those things before most of the baby boom shuffles off this mortal coil, but we will pretend to have other solutions until then.

    Posted by: Jack at January 29, 2007 12:23 PM
    Comment #205625

    Re bad news and good news, look at this NPR story on climate change.

    NPR story on climate change. The intro indicates this is another story about how global warming is accelerating.

    Now listen to the story. It says that the early screaming headline that the Atlantic conveyer might break down and cause rapid cooling was based on incomplete data. There is NO evidence of any slowing of the currents. This is essentially a retraction. This rapid cooling idea has become part of the culture. They made that whole movie, “The Day After Tomorrow” based on an exaggeration of what turns out to have been mistaken interpretation.

    So the news is that NOTHING has happened. The spin is that the world is coming to either a really hot or really cold end really soon.

    The other characteristic aspect of this article is that scientists dismiss this particular threat and the journalists say that it doesn’t mean it is really over AND they bring up another hypothetical threat to worry about.

    Posted by: Jack at January 29, 2007 12:42 PM
    Comment #205626

    David R. Remer,
    Yes, I’ve seen that movie (Road Warrior).
    I certainly hope it doesn’t get that bad.
    What I plausibly see happening is something like the Great Depression of 1929, but longer because of the vastly larger (tripled) population (now 300 million) than in 1929 (population in 1929 was 106 million).
    No doubt about it though … population growth magnifies all of the problems, and threatens our ability to adapt (in time).

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 12:44 PM
    Comment #205630

    The biggest danger is that we will not be able to mobilize and coordinate the world population currently 6.684 billion to avert the dangers we’re being warned about.
    That is, it may be beyond our control.

    The world population grew from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 6.63 billion in 2006, and is expected to jump to 9+ billion by 2050.

    If population isn’t a problem, then why did China try to slow their population growth?
    Yet, there are some that believe we can solve our economic problems by immigrating 50 million or so more people? Is that lunacy?

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 12:55 PM
    Comment #205647

    Jack said: “The problems of the future will be solved then.”

    That’s precisely the thinking that got us neck deep in nuclear waste problems and accelerating global climate change already underway. Sorry, ignoring them did not make them go away. They’re here, and they are here for a very long time and at a cost of trillions of dollars to combat over that time. Ignoring them just makes the consequences far more costly.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at January 29, 2007 2:26 PM
    Comment #205660

    David

    That is not what I meant

    We can solve the problems of today, today. It is just that this particular problem is not solvable at this time. We need to restructure a program that is popular and has lots of well funded defenders. We cannot win at this time. Unfortunately, the situation has to worsen before we can soften up the opposition enough to make the needed changes. We will prevail, but not just now. Bush tried a decade too soon.

    Posted by: Jack at January 29, 2007 4:09 PM
    Comment #205666

    Bush didn’t really try.
    He tried to privatize S.S.
    Having failed that, why not stop plundering the surpluses?
    Why not shore up S.S., by paying back some of what was plundered from it?
    Privatizing it would have been a disaster with the current astronomical National Debt, since it diverts funds from a system that is “Pay As You Go”.

    Neither Dems or Repubs are serious about fixing the problem, and it is probably too late now to devise any decent solution.

    Funny how few in government are talking about it.
    What’s it gonna take?
    An economic meltdown?
    Just stay the course when “demographics are just going to smash us” and continue to “the entitlements iceberg we are sailing toward” ?

    Unfortunately, we can not solve the S.S. problem, or any problems until we solve the fundamental problem of irresponsible government that is preventing us from solving any problems.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 4:42 PM
    Comment #205684


    Jack is right. The Republicans need another decade for their propaganda to work on the younger generations and convince them that Social Security won’t be there for them. Then they can destroy it. My nephew says this all the time. I told him that he is exactly right if he and his generation is unwilling to fight for it and demand that the politicians fix it instead of listening to Greed who wants their insurance for himself.

    Posted by: jlw at January 29, 2007 6:50 PM
    Comment #205697

    Jack
    Heres a solution that might kill two or ,more birds. Place a tariff of about 10$ a barrel on imported oil. This helps alternatives, enhabces the value of domestic crude without subsidies and the money could be set aside for SS. Buy gold or something.Protectionist,yes. Anytthing wrong with protecting a fledgling industry.The Sauds are lowering prices precisly to discourage alternate.s American Ag became the powerhouse it is through protectionism.Thoughts ?

    Posted by: BillS at January 29, 2007 7:57 PM
    Comment #205704

    BillS

    I would be very happy to have that.

    jlw

    If you can explain how we can take a system designed to have 16 payers to one recipient and make it work with 2 payers for each recipient, you will only be on the way to making SS work.

    After that you have to explain how a system designed to have each worker work for about 40 years and then collect SS for about 5 can adapt to having workers work about 30 years and collect for about 30 years.

    And after you mange these things, you can criticize Republicans & I expect you can feed the multitudes with a couple of loaves and fishes.

    Posted by: Jack at January 29, 2007 8:31 PM
    Comment #205719

    Jack,
    Bush didn’t try very hard.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 29, 2007 9:24 PM
    Comment #205761

    Jack
    Check again. SS retirement age is 65. So folks work something like 40 to 47 years before they can get full benefits. If they’re all receiving benefits for 30 years that would make them around 95. How many folks do you know in their 90s? In 60 years I’ve only known around 5 people in their 90s and one centurion.

    Posted by: Ron Brown at January 30, 2007 7:02 AM
    Comment #205767

    Ron

    Many people take early retirement and most of people no longer start working steady until they are in their mid-20s. Today’s generation may well live into their 90s. Anyway, it is a lot different from the 45 years of work and couple years of retirement we used to expect.

    Posted by: Jack at January 30, 2007 9:06 AM
    Comment #205780

    I have a distant relative that lived to 122.5 years of age. Not bad, eh ?
    He was born in 1-Mar-1787 and died in 3-Sep-1909.
    He join the union army (as a blacksmith) during the civil war at age 75 in the union army.
    Found it out via a Tulsa World News newspaper article in a geneology research titled “The Oldest Man Who Ever Lived”.

    He never received Social Security.

    According to Wikipedia, the Official Oldest Person is Josefa Molina Lantz native of Barinas, who is 175 years of age, smashing all previously reported records (born 30-Apr-1831).

    If everyone lived to 175 (or 122), and started receiving at age 65, they would receive S.S. for 100 (or 57, respectively), then Jack would be about right.

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 30, 2007 10:47 AM
    Comment #205782

    CORRECTION: … would receive S.S. for 110 (or 57 respectively) years, …

    Posted by: d.a.n at January 30, 2007 10:48 AM
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