Things Get Better

Politics, unfortunately, is too often about bad news. Politicians attack each other because the threat of loss is more compelling than the promise of gain. It is in the interests of challengers to paint a horrible picture of the current situation. Yes, there is trouble in River City. But when you look closer, you see some important things are getting better.

I remember an old saying that it takes a smart person to be cynical and a wise one not to be. Pessimism sells and politicians are often purveyors of pessimism. The academic elites are also pessimistic. They really cannot understand how ordinary people can be so happy and seek out such bourgeois lifestyles. A typical academic sociologist will often put the words “so called” in front of concepts such as American dream, success or achievement.

Ordinary people don’t want to appear out of touch with the intellectuals, so they also feign pessimism. But it is really the intellectuals who are out of touch. Americans are not a pessimistic people, and opinion polls are interesting in this regard. In the abstract, people often say that the country is going in the wrong direction or that the economy is going to hell. But when asked about their personal situation, they are usually much more optimistic. In other words, they are optimistic about what they know from firsthand experience and pessimistic about what they have been told by the media, politicians and other experts.

A particular interesting vignette discovered by Pew Research was that Two-thirds of working-class Democrats have a favorable view of Wal-Mart compared with 45% of professional-class Democrats. In these two groups, who do you think has been to Wal-Mart more often? And in Pennsylvania even those bitter guys clinging to guns and God, as Obama says, are doing okay.

Our self appointed elites just cannot forgive ordinary Americans for being happy and they cannot understand why they do not vote and behave the way elite sociologist say they should. This has been like this so long that we don’t even notice anymore.

Consider this spin. The headline says, “Study: Women's Life Expectancy Dropping.” The study says exactly the opposite. Life expectancy is at an all time high. However, it has dropped for some groups because of lifestyle choices such as obesity and smoking and this has been the emphasis of the media.

We have to explain something about averages. The media will often say something like, “the average is good, but some people are doing worse.” This is a tautology. Of course there are some people doing worse and some people doing better. That is the definition. But in the pessimistic spin, that sounds as ominous as the also always true statement, “half of all Americans earn less than the median income.” Or my favorite from "The Onion" World Death Rate Holding Steady at 100%, a massive failure of world health care.

It is past time to make a balanced assessment. Both optimism and pessimism can be excessive. Most of life’s situations contain elements of good and bad. It is not smarter to be a pessimist. Optimists tend to do better in life and a realist looks for options, even in the worst situation.

The bottom line is that unless you are a bit of a loser or your parents were especially successful but didn’t pass any of that along, you live better than your parents did and your kids will probably do better than you have. Of course, you could do better. Some people have too much success, but nobody has enough. A cynic recognizes that and gets depressed. A wise person understands that this is just the way people are and tries to figure out ways to improve but knows that life is a continuous journey and usually fun if you allow it to be.

Posted by Jack at April 25, 2008 1:03 AM
Comments
Comment #251382
This sense of optimism has been in retreat in almost every sense over the past few years. According to Rasmussen polls, just 21% of Americans believe the country is on the right track, a figure that has fallen by more than a half since the presidential election of 2004.

Meanwhile only a third think the country’s best days are yet to come, as opposed to 43% who believe they have come and gone - again a steep decline on three years ago.

These are not one-offs. In the past 18 months almost every poll that has asked Americans about their country’s direction has produced among the most pessimistic responses on record - a more extended period than anyone can remember since Watergate.

America, in short, is in a deep funk. Far from feeling hopeful, it appears fearful of the outside world and despondent about its own future. Not only do most believe tomorrow will be worse than today, they also feel that there is little that can be done about it.

There are three main reasons. Closest to home is the economy. Wages are stagnant, house prices in most areas have stalled or are falling, the dollar is plunging, and the deficit is rising. A Pew survey last week showed that 72% believe the economy is either “only fair” or poor and 76% believe it will be the same or worse a year from now. Globalisation is a major worry. Of 46 countries polled recently, the US had the least positive view on foreign trade and one of the least positive on foreign companies.

The sense that things will improve for the next generation has all but evaporated. Another Pew poll from last year found that only 34% of Americans expected today’s children to be better off than people are now - down from 55% shortly before President Bush came to power.

Gary Younge in New York
Monday October 15, 2007
The Guardian

Posted by: Cube at April 25, 2008 1:37 AM
Comment #251385

When it looks entirely possible that the bottom will fall out, enormous effort and cost will be applied to prevent it. That is what we are witnessing by our government. An enormous effort to right their abdication of responsibility and oversight obligations to have thwarted this decline long before it happened.

Yes, Jack, thanks to the loading of debt on future tax payers, things are looking a bit better for current tax payers. We have Republicans to thank for taking this debt and deficit tax reduction idiocy to absurd levels and extents, to be followed by Democrats who never met a need they wouldn’t throw tax dollars at if it could mean a vote.

Some short term immediate items are looking better, but, the longer term future is still in great jeopardy. There are no politically sound measures to avert that jeopardy, and that is the greatest jeopardy of all.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 25, 2008 2:44 AM
Comment #251386

Jack, I forgot my quip. There is no question that the people of who survived Nagasaki and Hiroshima definitely saw things get better afterward. No question things improved for the survivors of the Black Death a couple centuries ago.

And yes, if one insists on optimism, one could find it in the extinction of all human life as a result of a collision with an asteroid: Evolution gets to start over and will hopefully do better next time, or, God finally gets a vacation from his role as monkey in the middle of competing factions of earthlings.

Somehow, such rationalization still leaves me a bit on the realistic, instead of optimistic, side of the fence. :-(

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 25, 2008 2:52 AM
Comment #251389

David,you forgot another reason to feel “realistic”. Despite the best efforts of SETI,there has so far been nothing. One theory is that when a species attains a certain level of tecnology,it destroys itself. Realistically,how far from that level do you think we are?
Or,on the other hand,the lefts constant harping about entitlements may cause people to feel that if their every need is not handed to them,they have no cause to feel optimistic. Unrealistic expectations can affect how people view the future,don’t you think?

Posted by: t-bone at April 25, 2008 5:43 AM
Comment #251391


This stuff is running out. The price of all that stuff is going up, up, up. What your wages will buy is going down, down, down.

It is getting harder to be optimistic in a country where the citizens are trained at an early age to be active members in the Mass Consumption Club of America.

Posted by: jlw at April 25, 2008 8:58 AM
Comment #251394

David

I agree that the entitlement iceberg is a big problem ahead. So what do we do about it? Where do we cut the budget?

Revenues are already at record levels. You really cannot raise taxes high enough to address these problems, even if you wanted to go that route.

I don’t think we will address this problem until it becomes acute. Our political system (all political systems) is not good at planning too far in the future. People clamor for benefits today and politicians usually give it to them.

Re the metaphysical things you talk about, it doesn’t really matter. In that long run we are all dead and in this case you are talking billions of years. If you believe life has meaning, it still does. If not, it still doesn’t. Such things are beyond logic and science. They are matters of faith (or not) and there is no practical reason to factor them in.

Humans cannot do very much harm or good to the universe when you really think about it.

Cube

Thanks for the post supporting my first point. Americans are in a deep funk, despite the objectively decent news. They are pessimistic about the future in general, but when asked about their own situaions, they say they are better off. In ohter words, they are optimistic about what they know first hand and pessimistic about what they hear from experts.

Most of us know that we are better off. Older guys recall when we didn’t have some of the luxuries that even the poor enjoy today. Air conditioning, color TV, computers, second cars (or a car in general), dishwashers etc used to be luxuries only for the rich. Today most American households have these things. If we forced a poor person to live only with the technologies and goods availble to a middle class person in 1958, it would be considered cruel.

Posted by: Jack at April 25, 2008 9:24 AM
Comment #251396

Many states appear to be in recession as deficits grow

The finances of many states have deteriorated so badly that they appear to be in a recession, regardless of whether that’s true for the nation as a whole, a survey of all 50 state fiscal directors concludes.

The situation looks even worse for the fiscal year that begins July 1 in most states.

_More than half the 16 states reporting deficits this year have cut spending, including $1 billion by Florida lawmakers last year and across-the-board cuts in Nevada. At least eight states are debating raising taxes or fees, including a proposed $1-per-pack cigarette tax increase in Massachusetts to raise $175 million.

_Twelve states, including Georgia, Idaho and Illinois, reported that personal income tax collections were failing to meet estimates, and in eight of these, collections were even below a reduced forecast.

_Many states, including Alabama, Arizona, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada and Wisconsin, plan to tap their rainy day funds, which contain money set aside for fiscal emergencies. Nevada may use its entire rainy day balance.

Posted by: womanmarine at April 25, 2008 9:29 AM
Comment #251399

Improvements are good.

However, so are priorities (something Congress doesn’t seem to have a clue about).

And these 10 ABUSES are largely why these economic conditions for most Americans have never been worse ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s.

  • Why is there so much debt?
  • Where will the money come from to pay the interest on $53 Trillion of nation-wide debt come from, much less the money to pay-down the growing principal, when that money does not yet exist?
  • Why are there record level foreclosures (225,000 per month! one-simple-idea.com/DisparityTrend.htm#Foreclosures)?
  • Why are savings rates at the lowest levels since 1933?
  • Why have real median incomes fallen since year 1978 (based on more workers per household, despite a measely increase by only $3K in 2004 dollars in the last 28 years) ?
  • Why is the government importing more skilled labor and raising H-1B Visa limits when we’ve lost 250,000 jobs since the beginning of the year?
  • Why are immigration laws being ignored? Why the hypocrisy of homeland security when more people have been killed by illegal aliens in 3 years than all U.S. troops killed in Iraq in 5 years?
  • Why is the wealth disparity gap now as large as it was in the 1930s ?
  • Why is the tax system regressive (as evidenced by Warren Buffet’s 17.7% federal taxes on $46 Million and his secretary’s 30% federal taxes on $60K?
  • Why are household equities at the lowest levels since year 1945?
  • Why has home ownership fallen for lower and middle-income groups to the lowest levels in 30 years (money.cnn.com/2006/03/22/real_estate/homeownership_study/index.htm)?
  • Why is total $22 Trillion of federal debt ($9.4 Trillion National Debt and $12.8 Trillion (www.socialsecurity.org/reformandyou/faqs.html#2) borrowed and spent from Social Security (), leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 million baby boomer bubble approaching (13,175 new recipients per day!)); larger than ever before, in both size and as a percentage (160%) of the $13.86 Trillion GDP ?
  • Why is total personal household debt nation-wide ($13.88 Trillion) larger than ever, both in size and as a percentage (over 100%) of the $13.86 Trillion GDP. ?
  • Why is the U.S. Dollar falling like a rock (one-simple-idea.com/USD_Falling.htm) ? A 1950 U.S. Dollar is now worth less than 10 cents.
  • Why are 195,000 Americans dying each year due to preventable medical mistakes, which (since 1999) is over 1.5 million people killed by preventable medical mistakes, which is more than all the U.S. troops killed in the the American Revolution (4,435), the War of 1812 (2,260), the Indian Wars (1,000), the Mexican War (1,733), the Civil War (462,000), the Spanish American War (385), WWI (53,402), WWII (291,557), Vietnam War (58,209), Korean War (36,574), the Iraq Gulf War (529), and the current Iraq war Mar-2003-present (4,050 as of 24-APR-2008), combined!? ?
  • Why are our U.S. troops being forced to risk life and limb for nation-building and policing civil wars? Should U.S. troops be forced to risk life and limb for missions that are not the best way to make the U.S. more safe?
At any rate, the voters have the government that they elect, and deserve.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at April 25, 2008 10:05 AM
    Comment #251400

    “I agree that the entitlement iceberg is a big problem ahead. So what do we do about it? Where do we cut the budget? “

    The military budget needs to be brought back into line. The fact that we spend more on military than most of the rest of the world should allow everyone to see that.

    “Most of us know that we are better off. Older guys recall when we didn’t have some of the luxuries that even the poor enjoy today. Air conditioning, color TV, computers, second cars (or a car in general), dishwashers etc used to be luxuries only for the rich. Today most American households have these things. If we forced a poor person to live only with the technologies and goods availble to a middle class person in 1958, it would be considered cruel.”

    Jack these things you mention are low cost consumer goods that really deflects from the real issues. With inflation soaring , yes soaring, the basics are the real issue today. Food, education, gas, medicine and health care are spiraling out of the reach of many, and not just the poor. The middle class of 1958 may not have had as many trinkets but they didnt want for the necessities which were much less costly than today.

    Its easy to say things will get better when you refer to TV sets and other Chinese produced goods and many can be fooled but when it comes to the real quality of life issues its tough to have a positive outlook. Especially when the trade deficits are worsening year by year as the corporations continue to send jobs overseas and continue to bring in unneeded labor to his country. The reality is we are going downhill as a nation due to the misdirected policies of the plutocracy we have in this country. The real difference between today and 1958 is in 1958 when things got better, things got better for all not the few at the top of the economic food chain. Today of course is just the opposite when things get better its for the few not the many.

    Posted by: j2t2 at April 25, 2008 10:12 AM
    Comment #251401
    Jack wrote: The bottom line is that unless you are a bit of a loser or your parents were especially successful but didn’t pass any of that along, you live better than your parents did and your kids will probably do better than you have. Of course, you could do better. Some people have too much success, but nobody has enough. A cynic recognizes that and gets depressed. A wise person understands that this is just the way people are and tries to figure out ways to improve but knows that life is a continuous journey and usually fun if you allow it to be.
    So, does that mean most Americans are losers?

    I think you may have a valid point.
    While the word “loser” is debatable, who is mostly to blame most for repeatedly rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians in do-nothing Congress with 93%-to-99% re-election rates for this?

    And observe what happens in the 4-NOV-2008 election. Whoever the next president is, that president will be sabotaged with the same irresponsible, do-nothing, FOR-SALE, corrupt, incompetent Congress.

    Thus, the voters have the government that they elect, and deserve.

  • Posted by: d.a.n at April 25, 2008 10:14 AM
    Comment #251402

    So much of the good news is related to public policy as noted below. Interestingly, directly from the study we see in figure 2 Family Economic Well Being peaking around 2000 then decreasing since. Did they mention childhood poverty rates, parent commute times and total hours worked per week?

    http://www.fcd-us.org/usr_doc/EarlyChildhoodWell-BeingReport.pdf


    Declining Blood Lead Poisoning

    This good trend is due to policies on the elimination of lead from many commercial
    products in the U.S., from gasoline to paint.

    Declining Infant and Child Mortality

    There are, of course,
    many factors that have contributed to these trends, from better health care and nutrition to the mandatory use of car safety seats and safer playgrounds.


    So who are the elitist here? Those of us pointing to the facts and stating the working class deserves better or those who keep insisting the working class is doing just fine they just need to shut up and keep their noses to the grind stone while all their productivity is transfered up to the wealthy class via derivatives and financial wizardryy of all sorts of which the worker knows nothing nor has the time to understand.

    Posted by: muirgeo at April 25, 2008 10:51 AM
    Comment #251409
    muirgeo wrote: So who are the elitist here? Those of us pointing to the facts and stating the working class deserves better or those who keep insisting the working class is doing just fine they just need to shut up and keep their noses to the grind stone while al l their productivity is transfered up to the wealthy class via derivatives and financial wizardryy of all sorts of which the worker knows nothing nor has the time to understand.
    Yes, there may be an elitist aspect to Jack’s “loser” statement.

    However, the majority of voters probably have themselves mostly to thank for it, because:

    • 90% of all elections are won by the candidate that spends the most money (and the main stream media is notorious for exacerbating this).

    • Since year 1980, the voters have repeatedly rewarded the incumbent politicians in the two-party duopoly in Do-Nothing Congress with 96.5% (on average) seat-retention rates.

    • Incumbent politicians have many unfair advantages, but most voters continue to repeatedly re-elect 93%-to-99% of incumbent politicians.

    • 99.85% of all 200 million voters are vastly out-spent by a mere 0.15% of all voters that make 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more), yet the majority of voters still repeatedly reward incumbent politicians in the two-party duopoly in Do-Nothing Congress with 96.5% (on average) seat-retention rates.

    • Most voters don’t even know who their state and federal senators and representatives are, much less their voting records (OnTheIssues.org), yet incumbent politicians in the two-party duopoly in Do-Nothing Congress still enjoy 96.5% (on average) seat-retention rates.

    • Too many voters pull the party lever; many do not even know who they are voting for, much less the candidates’ voting records, yet incumbent politicians in the two-party duopoly in Do-Nothing Congress still enjoy 96.5% (on average) seat-retention rates.

    • Some voters think their politician is grand, even though most voters believe most politicians are crooked and/or irresponsible (e.g. like Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) who was re-elected, despite getting caught red-handed with $90K of bribe money hidden in $10K bundles in his freezer), which might explain why incumbent politicians in the two-party duopoly in Do-Nothing Congress still enjoy 96.5% (on average) seat-retention rates.

    • Some voters don’t like THEIR Congress persons, or THEIR party’s candidate, but they will never vote for a challenger, which is almost always in the OTHER party, which helps to maintain the incumbent politicians’ 93-to-99% re-election rates in Congress.

    • Too many voters are one-issue voters, making them easy to manipulate; too many voters are easily bribed with their own tax dollars and have fallen for the myth that we can all live at the expense of everyone else.

    • Too few voters know the size of the National Debt, much less the total federal debt, or the Social Security debt and liabilities, or the nation-wide personal debt (all nation-wide debt is about $53 Trillion which is 3.81 times the $13.9 Trillion GDP!).

    • Too few voters know much about the U.S. Constitution, nor the many ways it is being violated, yet incumbent politicians in the two-party duopoly in Do-Nothing Congress still enjoy 96.5% (on average) seat-retention rates.

    • Too many voters wallow in the partisan-warfare, because it is easier to blame the OTHER party than work to solve problems; foolishly emphasizing minor differences rather than working on unity to solve the many things most of us all already agree upon (the problem and the solution).

    • Few (if any) can name 10, 20, 50, 100, or 268 (half of 535) in Congress that are responsible and accountable. But then, perhaps that is because there aren’t any? So, why repeatedly reward them with 93%-to-99% re-election rates?

    • Too many voters complain and give Congress dismally low approval rating, and most voters think the nation is on the wrong track (www.pollingreport.com/right.htm), yet most of those same voters still repeatedly re-elect and reward the same incumbents with cu$hy 93% to 99% re-election rates.
    So, who is more responsible than the 200 million eligible American voters for these economic conditions that are now worse than ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s?

    Thus, the voters have the government that they elect, and deserve.

  • Posted by: d.a.n at April 25, 2008 11:19 AM
    Comment #251411

    J2t2

    The middle class of 1958 spend more hours working for the units of food they purchased. We can talk all we want about inflation. Where I shop the prices have not gone up that much in the last ten or fifteen years. You sometimes need to change your mix of items to take advantage of price differentials. The prices for electronic good have actually come down significantly. The computer I paid $2000 for a couple of years ago, I can replace with a better one for around $600. The same goes for clothes.

    But what really counts beyond price is how many hours you have to work to purchase the good you need. That has been coming down.

    I agree that we are consuming too much (hence the trade deficits). What do you propose to do about that?

    Re military spending – it is a lower % of our GDP than it was at almost any time since WWII. Even if we cut to zero, it would not make a big difference to future budgets. Entitlements make up more than 66% of the Federal budget. That is the big problem and it is growing.

    d.a.n.

    No most Americans are doing better than their parents were at a corresponding point in their lives. Maybe my parents and relatives were just really poor, but my generation is doing much better than theirs. They were HS drop outs. All my cousins are HS graduates and most have some college. I could make a longer list, but you know exactly what I mean and so does everyone else writing here.

    Muirego

    You cannot properly analyze a situation if you refuse to understand it. If we keep on insisting things are bad and getting worse, how can we hope to improve. If the last 50 years was just a waste of time, why bother?

    All Dems
    You will be coming home soon. If a Dem is elected this fall, suddenly all this same data will be interpreted as good news. I will remain the same optimist I am today and you all will begin to agree with me, although you will credit policies that didn’t do the deeds.

    BTW - the entitlement crisis will NOT improve. That is a given until we address it. But if Dems are in, you guys will pretend it does not exist.

    Posted by: Jack at April 25, 2008 11:24 AM
    Comment #251420
    Jack wrote: d.a.n. No most Americans are doing better than their parents were at a corresponding point in their lives. Maybe my parents and relatives were just really poor, but my generation is doing much better than theirs. They were HS drop outs. All my cousins are HS graduates and most have some college.
    False.

    Still wearin’ those rose colored glasses ?

    All of the following are worse (due to these abuses) now than several decades ago and/or the 1930s and 1940s:

    • (01) Total federal government debt ($22.2 Trillion) has never been larger, both in size and as a percentage (over 160%) of the $13.86 Trillion GDP (year 2007), when including the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 million baby boomer bubble approaching (that’s 13,175 new recipients per day!).

    • (02) Total personal household debt nation-wide ($13.88 Trillion) has never been larger, both in size and as a percentage (over 100%) of the $13.86 Trillion GDP.

    • (03) Total nation-wide debt ($53 Trillion) has never been larger, both in size and as a percentage of the $13.86 Trillion GDP:
      • private domestic financial sector debt=$15.8 Trillion;

      • household debt= $13.88 Trillion;

      • business debt=$10.16 Trillion;

      • federal government National Debt=$9,347,132,792,957.00

      • state and local government debt=$2.2 Trillion;

      • other private sector foreign debt=$1.8 Trillion;

      • _______________________________________________________

      • Total nation-wide debt = $53.2 Trillion (and that does not even include the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 million baby boomer bubble approaching);

      • If the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security is included, the total nation-wide debt = $66.0 Trillion = $53.2 Trillion + $12.8 Trillion

    • (04)Real median household incomes have fallen since year 1999, and have actually never been lower since year 1978 when also including the fact that:
      • there are now more workers per household,

      • we have more regressive taxation,

      • and the 40-hour work week is disappearing.

    • (05) Illegal immigration has never been worse and more costly, costing American citizens an estimated $70 Billion to $338 Billion annually in net losses. The problem has quadrupled since the amnesty of year 1986. Hundreds of overrun hospitals have closed (60-to-84 in California alone), California is now laying off 20,000 teachers in the public school system. 29% of all people incarcerated in Federal prisons are illegal aliens. The politicians capitalize on it 3 ways:
      • by dividing the voters (capitalizing on Americans misplaced compassion for illegal aliens more than their fellow Americans);

      • by pitting American citizens and illegal aliens against each other for profits and to depress wages (Wage_Stagnation + Cheap_Labor = Big_Profits);

      • and by pandering for votes;
    • (06) The wealth disparity gap has never been larger since year 1930. It changed direction and the gap has been growing larger since year 1976.

    • (07) Taxation has been regressive since year 2000 (or before). We have never had so many different kinds of taxes; many of which are regressive sales taxes.

    • (08) Home equities have never been lower (below 50%) since year 1945.

    • (09) Home ownership has fallen since year 2006 for low-income and middle-income groups. A study shows that only 59.6% of working class families owned their homes in 2003, lower than the 62.5% in year 1978. That is, home ownership is rising among the wealthy, while falling for most Americans that are losing wealth, losing equity, losing income, and losing their homes at record levels. Currently, home ownership is in a record plunge, and the 4th quarter of 2007 had the biggest one-year drop (1.1%) since tracking began in year 1965.

    • (10)Foreclosures are at record levels:
      • JAN-2008: 250,000

      • JAN-2007: 145,000

      • JAN-2006: 105,000

      • JAN-2005: 70,000
    • (11) Average personal savings rates are negative (since year 2005), and have never been worse since 1933.

    • (12) Energy vulnerability: oil and energy prices have never been higher (both in nominal price and adjusted for inflation; worse than the spike in year 1981).

    • (13) Federal government bloat has never been worse, and continues to grow to nightmare proportions. There are now more jobs in government than all manufacturing nation-wide.

    • (14) Global competition has never been stronger. Trade deficits have never been larger (see China). Transnational corporations want cheap labor (WageStagnation + CheapLabor = BigProfits). Jobs are leaving the nation in droves; a trend that started in the early 1970s, and also helps to explain why real median household incomes have actually been falling since year 1978.

    • (15) Medicare has hundreds of billions of unfunded liabilities per year, which are being funded by more borrowing and debt. It is not sustainable; especially with the approaching 77 million baby-boomer bubble. In year 2007, Medicare (16%) and Medicaid (7%) combined were 23% of the $2.7 Trillion federal budget:
      • Year 2007: $432 Billion (16% of federal budget)

      • Year 2006: $374 Billion (14% of federal budget)

      • Year 2005: $333 Billion (13% of federal budget)

      • Year 2000: $216 Billion (12% of federal budget)

      • Year 1990: $107 Billion ( 9% of federal budget)

      • Year 1980: $34 Billion ( 6% of federal budget)

      • Year 1970: $7 Billion ( 4% of federal budget)
    • (16) Inflation was higher in the mid-to-late 1970s and early 1980s, but we have had positive inflation since year 1956. 3% to 5% inflation doesn’t sound bad, but when it is every year, it becomes exponential (i.e. 3% this year is really more than 3% of last year, which is more than 3% the year before, etc., etc., etc.). Thus, a 1950 U.S. Dollar is now worth less than 10 cents.

    • (17) Other exacerbating problems are 2 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (cost as of Mar-2008 estimated between $517 Billion to $2+ Trillion), skyrocketing health care costs, declining quality and rising costs of education, election system problems, lawlessness, regressive taxation, violent crime rates are on the rise again, after falling for many years, environment, declining transparency in government (i.e. the U.S.A. Corruption Perception Index has fallen for 10 years), etc., etc., etc.

    Jack wrote: I could make a longer list, but you know exactly what I mean and so does everyone else writing here.

    Please do make a longer list. No, I don’t know exactly what you are talking about, and from the comments above, several others don’t either.

    While we all (i.e. all eligible voters) have mostly ourselves to thank for it (since we repeatedly reward irresponsible incumbent politicians with 93%-to-99% re-election rates), and even though some things are better, your comment that most things “are better” is clearly false, and a few cherry-picked statistics do not even come close to proving things are better now. Currently, many things are now as bad, or approaching levels not seen since the Great Depression.

    So, how do you say things are better now for most Americans? The list you’ve provided so far is not very convincing.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 25, 2008 12:41 PM
    Comment #251421
    Jack wrote: You cannot properly analyze a situation if you refuse to understand it. If we keep on insisting things are bad and getting worse, how can we hope to improve. If the last 50 years was just a waste of time, why bother?
    Jack, How can one improve something when they refuse to admit it exists? Posted by: d.a.n at April 25, 2008 12:45 PM
    Comment #251423

    Jack, you are right on the money with your analysis. Too many good folks are led to believe the worse by the media and even though they, and their family and friends are doing just fine, they think that most others are not.

    Have any of you depressed pessimists on this blog been to a restaurant on Friday nite lately. You’ll find waiting times of 1/2 to 1 hour. Has any car dealership gone out of business in your community? Simplistic examples of disposable income yes, but also very revealing of actual circumstances.

    Jack beat me to it just above, but he is absolutely correct in saying that if a Democrat is elected president we will find that the media consensus is that everything is just fine merely because a democrat is in the white house. Unemployment and interest rates will not be any lower, wages will be not significantly higher, we will still have armed forces in foreign countries, but the perception of well being will be more favorable because we will be told it is so.

    FDR had it right, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and I would add, a liberal fear mongering media peddling their mantra that only a big government, all intrusive democrat congress and president can save us.

    Posted by: Jim M at April 25, 2008 1:19 PM
    Comment #251426

    Jack wrote: You cannot properly analyze a situation if you refuse to understand it. If we keep on insisting things are bad and getting worse, how can we hope to improve. If the last 50 years was just a waste of time, why bother?
    Jack, How can one improve something when they refuse to admit it exists? Posted by: d.a.n


    Exactly,

    What’s the first step to recovering from alcoholism? Hint it’s not denial.
    I think there is time to still be a good republican but supporting more of the same disastrous policies is simply putting ones party ahead of one’s country.
    When they want to make the issue lapel pins and ignore all sorts of impending disasters, all sorts of corruption and all sorts of inequities you know they’ve lost their way.

    Posted by: muirgeo at April 25, 2008 1:47 PM
    Comment #251427

    Jack-
    You know what real elitism is? It’s not academic analysis of voting patterns. It’s insisting to people who are facing excessive fuel costs, rising food prices, absent or excessively expensive healthcare coverage, and all kinds of other troubles that it’s all just in ther heads. We’ve seen more layoffs, more jobs and American money heading overseas, our dollar shrinking, foreclosures rising, the credit market jamming… It’s more than just psychological. The economy has been mismanaged, and Americans are paying the price for it. The Rich and well-off feel this less than everybody else, at least if they don’t bother to ask anybody else.

    Some of them see the rich and the investor class as the wellspring of American prosperity, and forget that for the money to get to their businesses and to circulate around sufficiently, it has to go through working class hands. Why? Because America is a consumer economy. The only thing that’s saved the economic elites from themselves is the expansion of debt as a means to finance things at all levels of the economy. The problem with debt is that as it increases, it reduces the person’s ability to pay for other things. When people spend from what they have, their ability to pay the same price for things stays the same. When they spend from debt, additional debts can drive up the cost of additional purchase along the same lines.

    Under such an economic system, a reckoning is inevitable, and it has already begun.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 25, 2008 1:54 PM
    Comment #251430

    Jack asked: “I agree that the entitlement iceberg is a big problem ahead. So what do we do about it? Where do we cut the budget?”

    For me that’s a no brainer. You see, if my house and my neighbors house are threatened by approaching grassfires, I will tend my house first, knowing my neighbor will do the same. Which is another way of saying, let’s get out of Iraq. For the price of our occupation of Iraq, we can make a considerable down payment on securing our economic future.

    But, of course, such measures are never taken in a vacuum. The second and equally important thing we must do is seriously adhere to PAY as we GO, and halt this bankrupting of our children’s future through astronomical debt. That debt, even if never paid, constitutes an incredible LOSS of opportunity by future generations to address the maladies of their day through necessary borrowing.

    And of course, Soc. Sec. requires a reversion to its original plan as insurance against poverty, not entitlement to everyone who paid premiums.

    As for Medicare, we must encourage the rapid expansion of medical cooperatives and non-profit health care treatment centers, in an enormous way. And for non-profits, legislate that no malpractice suits may be brought against the coop or non-profit entity, only against individuals within them where warranted, and on terms of criminal negligence. With that kind of safe harbor, America could see a vast increase in coop and non-profit treatment centers over a 20 year period, seriously limiting the debt impact of Medicare.

    There are solutions. They need, as I have done here, to be prioritized for maximum impact in solving the biggest problems with the most readily available resources. And of course, public leadership, awareness, and pressure upon Congress and the WhiteHouse to move in these directions with dispatch. Though the latter may prove to be the most difficult to achieve.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at April 25, 2008 2:36 PM
    Comment #251431

    Jack said: “I don’t think we will address this problem until it becomes acute.”

    It is as acute as it can be without the bottom actually falling out, which of course, is then too late to address the problem portending disastrous consequences.

    ” Our political system (all political systems) is not good at planning too far in the future.”

    What rubbish. You say what is, not what can and should be. And, the Roman Empire, the British Empire, Space exploration and more stand in direct refutation of your statement. Stop projecting what is into the future as what must be. Demand better of the future and we will be far better positioned to achieve it.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at April 25, 2008 2:43 PM
    Comment #251432

    “But what really counts beyond price is how many hours you have to work to purchase the good you need. That has been coming down.”

    Jack you need to think beyond “goods”. Yes electronics have come down, yes trinkets have come down in price however “Food, education, gas, medicine and health care are spiraling out of the reach of many, and not just the poor.” If we could eat electronics then we could say things have improved. If our GPS’s would also educate our children at no extra cost then yes we could say things have improved. If our stereos came with a supply of gasoline at no additional costs then yes we could say things have improved, But they dont and despite all your misleading comments things havent gotten better as a result of the past 30+ years of the conservative movement. Well unless your whole world is about cheaper electronics.

    In 1958 one wage earner supported most families. Today 2 wage earners support most 2 parent families. So I dont understand how you can say we work less hours to gain the same amount of goods. Wages have stagnated for years Jack, decent paying jobs have left the country and the corporations are bringing in low wage workers to fill jobs that Americans will do for a living wage.

    “I agree that we are consuming too much (hence the trade deficits). What do you propose to do about that?”
    Jack I have got to give it to you, your a master at the art of deception. The trade deficits are not due to the jobs and factories moving overseas for the past 30 years and then goods then being shipped from Communist China back to the United States which is a double whammy on trade. No sir not that, its because we consume to much. Brillant anal alysis Jack, spoken in true reaganspeak. It would be funny except that its destroying the country and the people not reducing the size of government.


    Posted by: j2t2 at April 25, 2008 2:48 PM
    Comment #251433

    Jack said: “The bottom line is that unless you are a bit of a loser or your parents were especially successful but didn’t pass any of that along, you live better than your parents did”

    Patently false for millions of Americans. My parents raised 7 kids with a home and car on one blue collar wage. Today’s parents can only accomplish that on a minimum of two blue collar wages. Your statement is elitist, as it apparently reflects anecdotally, your improved position over your parents. But, you utterly ignore the fact that millions have a very different experience both subjectively and objectively.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at April 25, 2008 2:50 PM
    Comment #251439

    Muriego and d.a.n.

    An accurate appraisal of American society indicates a lot of progress in the last generations and remaining challenges. To say it is all bad is just inaccurate and not useful.

    Maybe I am just very lucky or very smart. I grew up working class and have not had a particular problem getting ahead and being successful. The good things my country provided me were sufficient to allow this to happen, since I had no family wealth or connection. I observe the same things in most of my friends, neighbors and relatives from that time. I am sorry that you guys have had such a hard time, that you have not been able to get ahead all these years and that the same goes for your friends, neighbors and relatives. Maybe you should get some of those “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” tapes. Otherwise, I really do not know how to help you and I suggest you move away from wherever it is you live, since it must be the land of no opportunity. Everyplace I have been in America has been better.

    David

    Please see above. We all write from our experience. Among my friends and relatives we grew up with, most of doing amazingly well. Nobody in the old generation went to college. Many of us have and virtually all our kids do.

    It does indeed take two salaries to live the middle class life, but that is because we demand more. A middle class person would not live in the house I grew up in w/o major modifications. Beyond that, if your mother raised seven kids with the technologies of the times, she has a full time job. Today’s households are much smaller and labor saving devices make work much easier.

    Maybe it is elitist to try to improve yourself and do better. Maybe we need more of that kind of practical elitists around here. The kind of elitists that do nobody any good are the Obama kind who are just out of touch.

    Re the Romans – they built very nice structures, some of them still function. We can and we do that too. Otherwise their advance planning was not so good. They never even figured out how to pass power w/o risking civil war. I think the Romans were great. I have studied them for many years. But don’t overestimate their planning ability by the rocks they left behind. The Romans themselves were constantly complaining about their lack of virtue. Actually, it was a lot like today.

    Re the entitlement crisis. I think it should be addressed immediately. Most Americans and evidently almost all politicians disagree with me. It will hit us hard. As an practical guy, i.e. a person who plans ahead to improve his situation, I am personally prepared for this event and will do just fine, but as an American I want to help my country make the transition. We will need to raise the retirement age, put on a means test (which will, BTW, mean I personally will get less), encourage choice in investments and enhance personal accounts. The Dem proposal is to do nothing but raise taxes, but they have not even pushed that for fear of the voters. That is why I understand that they do not consider it a crisis – yet.

    Posted by: jack at April 25, 2008 3:19 PM
    Comment #251441

    “Jack said: “The bottom line is that unless you are a bit of a loser or your parents were especially successful but didn’t pass any of that along, you live better than your parents did””

    David it is also not the real issue. The real issue is are we leaving things such that the next generation will be more successful than ours. Most people have no choice but to think at this point the answer is no. Its where are we going not where have we been that is the real issue.

    Posted by: j2t2 at April 25, 2008 3:21 PM
    Comment #251443
    Jim M wrote: Jack, you are right on the money with your analysis. Too many good folks are led to believe the worse by the media and even though they, and their family and friends are doing just fine, they think that most others are not.
    Jim, saying something is so, and proving it are two different things. Perhaps you help explain away the list of things above
    Jim M wrote: Have any of you depressed pessimists on this blog been to a restaurant on Friday nite lately.
    Jim M, Have you not heard?

    Many restaurants and consumers are struggling.
    The restaurant industry is not doing well at all, and the worst is probably yet to come.

    • FEB-2008: Restaurants are closing. After the Lone Star closings, 1500 employees lost their jobs.

    • Starbucks plans to close 100 low-performing stores.

    • Same-store sales are falling. Few chains have been hit as hard as Ruby Tuesday (RT), whose same-store sales at company-owned stores fell 10.8% in the 4th quarter of 2007. “Unlike paying the mortgage, going out to eat is discretionary and can be changed easily,” laments Richard Johnson, senior vice president.

    • Applebee’s sales dropped 2.9% in the 4th quarter of 2007.

    • Steak ‘n Shake’s sales fell 9.5% in the 4th quarter of 2007.

    • Chili’s sales fell 2.4%.

    • Wendy’s (WEN) sales fell 0.8%

    • Cheesecake Factory sales fell 0.4% and Howard Gordon, senior Vice President said that since going public in 1992, “We’ve never seen a time like this.”

    • 49% of restaurants surveyed by the National Restaurant Association reported sales fell in January 2008, and 54% said customer traffic fell in January, the 5th month in a row (since SEP-2007).

    Most Americans are struggling, and swimming in $53 Trillion of nation-wide debt: one-simple-idea.com/DisparityTrend.htm#NationWideDebt

    Many economic conditions in the U.S. are worse today than ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s: one-simple-idea.com/NeverWorse.htm

    And it’s going to get worse before it can get better.
    That’s not mere pessimism.
    That’s reality.

    QUESTION: Where will the money come from to pay the interest on the current $53 Trillion in total nation-wide debt, much less the money to pay the principal (LOAN = PRINCIPAL + INTEREST), when that money does not yet exist?

    ANSWER: It will be created out of thin air (as it has been since 1913). Get ready for more inflation, as more and more money (and debt) is created to stave off the collapse of this debt pyramid: one-simple-idea.com/USD_Falling.htm

    Things will continue to get worse until these abuses are adequately addressed:

    • (01) Lawlessness (constitutional violations, existing laws being ignored, etc.)

    • (02) Wars (7 wars in the last 90 years)

    • (03) Plutocracy / Kleptocracy (99.85% of all eligible voters are vastly out-spent by a mere 0.15% who make 83% of all federal campaign donations)

    • (04) Illegal Immigration and Unfair Trade Practices

    • (05) Election Probilems

    • (06) Debt ($53 Trillion of nation-wide debt) and

    • (07) Inflation / Usury / the Monetary-System is a Pyramid-Scheme (seen the falling U.S. Dollar lately?)

    • (08) Regressive Taxation (Warren Buffet’s fedaral taxes:17.7% on $46 Million: His secretary: 30% on $60K )

    • (09) Insufficient / Inadequate Education (politicians don’t want educated voters)

    • (10) HealthCare or DangerousCare? (195,000 deaths annually from preventable medical mistakes)

    At any rate, the voters have the government that the voters elect, and deserve.

    Jack wrote: Muriego and d.a.n. An accurate appraisal of American society indicates a lot of progress in the last generations and remaining challenges. To say it is all bad is just inaccurate and not useful.
    No one said it was “all bad”, but such clever extrapolations and shifting the emphasis to cloud the issue is not at all surprising.

    The issue is that things are worse for MOST Americans.
    If not, then you should be able to easily produce a list that trumps the list above (Comment #251420). Good luck.

    Jack wrote: Maybe I am just very lucky or very smart.
    Lucky maybe.
    Jack wrote: I grew up working class and have not had a particular problem getting ahead and being successful. The good things my country provided me were sufficient to allow this to happen, since I had no family wealth or connection.
    So what? Anecdotal evidence proves nothing. Is that your evidence?
    Jack wrote: I observe the same things in most of my friends, neighbors and relatives from that time. I am sorry that you guys have had such a hard time, that you have not been able to get ahead all these years and that the same goes for your friends, neighbors and relatives.
    Jack, I own two homes free and clear, my son and his wife graduated from college, and my family and I are doing fine.

    So the assumption that I am having a hard time is false too.
    That is yet another obfuscation to cloud the issue and avoid the list above that decimates your conclusions about most things “getting better”.
    Also, the offer of “help” it’s highly disingenuous based on the callous comments.
    Just because someone is doing good doesn’t mean most are.
    Most Americans are not doing better, unless the 17+ things on the list above can be explained away (Comment #251420).

    Jack wrote: Maybe you should get some of those “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” tapes.
    Why? What makes you think people having a “hard time” simply need to be more effective? People that disagree with rose-colored-glasses rhetoric are not necessarily in need of becoming more effective, nor “losers” ? Especially when they have just displayed their effectiveness at shooting the anti-anything-not-rosy article full of holes. Good things happen, but that does not mean most things have become better in the last several decades, which is the fallacy of your article.
    Jack wrote: Otherwise, I really do not know how to help you …
    Well that’s terrible, since we all know how sincere the desire to help is.
    Jack wrote: …and I suggest you move away from wherever it is you live, since it must be the land of no opportunity.
    For most Americans, opportunities are decreasing, as demonstrated by the list of things above (Comment #251420) that are worse than ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s.
    Jack wrote: Everyplace I have been in America has been better.
    Good for you Jack.

    Me too.

    But that’s not the point is it, but yet another obfuscation and anecdotal evidence to cloud the issue?
    Just because things are good for you and your friends does not prove that things are better for most Americans.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 25, 2008 4:24 PM
    Comment #251451

    Jack

    Individuals and families like to think they have forward movent in their lives. So long as they are gradually making headway towards a comfortable life they are happy. What that definition of comfortable means is determined by a myriad of variables and is totally dependent on ones expectations. Those expectations today are nowhere near the meager expectations of 1958. What made people happy in 1958 would not make most happy today.

    Todays generation are motivated by promotions of travel and comforts all at ones fingertips via the plastic card. They are encouraged to spend as if there will be no tomorrow. It is alright and the American way to accrue massive debt all in the interest of having and experiencing things. Yes go ahead folks, just charge it, you can pay us later. Of course pay us later turns into a lifetime of irrecoverable debt for many.

    You have been trying, with frequency to convince us that all is well with the economy for at least as long as I have frequented this blog. Two years now. The problem Jack is that your optimism is detracting you from facing reality. The reality is that for the elitists who know only forward movement it is easy to be optimistic. For those who see the forward movement gradually slipping away, caution is at hand. Pessimism is a symptom of caution. The current economic pessimism was born at the reality of irresponsible massive governmental and personal debt.

    Individuals, families and our country have simply lived the good life mostly beyond their means for too long now. Rising costs are forcing people to make concessions. Something they are not used to. Anyone with half a brain knows that somewhere down the road all that debt and its resulting complications will have to be dealt with. And dealing with it will not be easy or painless. When we are talking not easy or painless it is well known that it is the working class that will suffer the brunt of the financial carnage. Not the elitists. With respect to the latter it is not wrong or a misconceived notion for any realist in todays economy to be pessimistic about the economy.

    Posted by: RickIL at April 25, 2008 6:26 PM
    Comment #251453

    Hilarious article! Jack, will you now sing us a rousing chorus of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”?

    Posted by: Veritas Vincit at April 25, 2008 6:38 PM
    Comment #251456

    Here is a little song I wrote
    You might want to sing it note for note
    Don’t worry be happy
    In every life we have some trouble
    When you worry you make it double
    Don’t worry, be happy……

    Ain’t got no place to lay your head
    Somebody came and took your bed
    Don’t worry, be happy
    The land lord say your rent is late
    He may have to litigate
    Don’t worry, be happy
    Lood at me I am happy
    Don’t worry, be happy
    Here I give you my phone number
    When you worry call me
    I make you happy
    Don’t worry, be happy
    Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style
    Ain’t got not girl to make you smile
    But don’t worry be happy
    Cause when you worry
    Your face will frown
    And that will bring everybody down
    So don’t worry, be happy (now)…..

    There is this little song I wrote
    I hope you learn it note for note
    Like good little children
    Don’t worry, be happy
    Listen to what I say
    In your life expect some trouble
    But when you worry
    You make it double
    Don’t worry, be happy……
    Don’t worry don’t do it, be happy
    Put a smile on your face
    Don’t bring everybody down like this
    Don’t worry, it will soon past
    Whatever it is
    Don’t worry, be happy


    Posted by: d.a.n at April 25, 2008 7:01 PM
    Comment #251457

    The 20th century was one of the most deadly in human history. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao Zedong were followed by lesser purveryors of mass destruction. At the time of the Millenium, it was said that there had been more than 80 wars since the end of WW2, with 100 million more casualties. We could only hope that the 21st century would be better.

    That optimism was shaken so badly on 9/11/2001, that people began to call for vengeance on anyone they thought might have had anything to do with it. More recently, natural disasters have increased the feeling of vulnerability to forces beyond our control. Politicians are still crooks. People don’t live up to expectations.

    If you are happy being the person that you are, if you have had a reasonable amount of opportunity in your life, have good relationships with other people, and are able to live as you wish without much interference from others, then you have all the basics to make for a better life than others who do not have those things, or did not have those things in the past.

    Posted by: ohrealy at April 25, 2008 7:19 PM
    Comment #251460

    Jack:

    You are a brave man to say something positive in here. There are so many apostles of pessimism!!!!

    They have to question anything positive as it violates a fundamental position.

    The fact that you say some things are positive is very much like telling some in geometry that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

    You are of course correct. There is much positive in the world. I was reading today a negative article the world growth has slowed from 5.0% to about 3.8% or something like that. When I checked the growth rate of the Clinton adminstration, (you know utopian days) I found that world economic growth this year is expected to be higher than the average of the Clinton years here in USA.

    There are so many people world wide coming out of poverty it is absolutely amazing. Of course we see commodity prices rising.

    Let me give you an example. If you take $60 trillion as world gdp at look at the average recent growth rate of about 4.0%, that is $2.4 Trillion a year. USA is about $14 trillion. So we are producing as a world a new United States about every 6 years. WOW!!

    I am certain that is negative some how. People coming out of poverty and all.

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 25, 2008 8:11 PM
    Comment #251464
    There are three main reasons. Closest to home is the economy. Wages are stagnant, house prices in most areas have stalled or are falling, the dollar is plunging, and the deficit is rising.

    Thanks for the post supporting my first point. Americans are in a deep funk, despite the objectively decent news.
    Jack


    I am surprised that the above phrase, included in the article I quoted, supports your views? You made claims of a better life, while quoting and linking to an article that is focused on the lives and health of our children. Which is great, but how does that answer the question on how American Adults feel about their own lives?

    The bottom line is that unless you are a bit of a loser or your parents were especially successful but didn’t pass any of that along, you live better than your parents did and your kids will probably do better than you have.
    by Jack

    Actually it is projected that the incoming generation will be the first in the past hundred years that will do worse economically than the previous generation. But hey, they might live longer.

    Posted by: Cube at April 25, 2008 9:30 PM
    Comment #251467

    d.a.n.

    We have had this discussion many times before. Commonly used statistics tell me that things are better now. The median American income is about 1/3 higher than it was in 1970. People have access to good and services like never before. More of us have been to college. More of us still own homes (even with all the subprime). We have more square footage. We live longer. The list goes on. The only things that seem to be worse are commuting times and sprawl.

    You reject these statistics. So I go with my own observations. My observations, and I have been to every state in the union except Alaska, Hawaii and (incongruously) Missouri is that our country looks more prosperous. Even poor households have decent cars, big TVs etc. When I first started travelling (I hitchhiked to Alabama when I was 18) lots of places didn’t even have indoor plumbing. In my almost forty years of travelling I have seen steady improvements in everything except sprawl, as mentioned above.

    So the statistics tell me things are better. My experience tells me things are better. You tell me things are worse. And you are surprised when I don’t believe it.

    You also are doing better, as you said. Of course I was being facetious with my offer of help and sympathy, because I was nearly certain that you were doing well – as are most Americans – compared with the past. I was calling your bluff on this and you folded.

    RickIL
    “Those expectations today are nowhere near the meager expectations of 1958. What made people happy in 1958 would not make most happy today.” We agree. I would go farther to say that most of us are spoiled. Expectations ran ahead of reality. It has always been thus. But that is a of a flaw in human nature. It is an excess of hedonistic desire. We should just say no, and we have the power to do that. The system has delivered. Not everybody has the character to accept the opportunity.

    Cube

    I think that people are in a funk. But they are mistaken. The polls also show that they are much more pessimistic about the general condition (the opinion they get from experts) than their own situation (the situation they know firsthand).

    The system has delivered enough material wealth to allow almost everyone in our great country to pursue happiness. Many people have taken advantage of that. The fact that some people cannot catch it is well…guess where the fault lies.

    Maybe we do need some kind of moral education to help people use the surfeit of material possessions they can now command. Creating even more doesn’t seem to be working. But I don’t trust politicians to run the moral education.

    Re this generation being worse off. I heard that when I was young too. Jimmy Carter told me that. He was mistaken then. The ancient Greeks used to tell people that. Thomas Malthus told us we would all starve…by about 1820. The popultion bomb told us we would be starving in American cities by around 1985. The Club of Rome told us we had reached the limits of growth in the 1970s and we would be running out of everything before 1990.

    Pessimism has a long and pessimistic history. I believed that crap when I was 18. I have learned not to be so silly anymore.

    Posted by: Jack at April 25, 2008 10:17 PM
    Comment #251471


    “Maybe we do need some kind of moral education to help people use the surfeit of material possessions they can now command. Creating even more doesn’t seem to be working. But I don’t trust politicians “

    Jack while you are certainly smarter than most of your fellow repubs there are still quite a few on your side of the aisle that does think government should be involved with moral education.

    http://www.au.org/site/PageServer?pagename=pr_National_Day_of_paryer#faq

    Posted by: j2t2 at April 26, 2008 12:55 AM
    Comment #251476

    “Pessimism has a long and pessimistic history. I believed that crap when I was 18. I have learned not to be so silly anymore.
    Posted by: Jack at April 25, 2008 10:17 PM”


    It’s not about pessimism for me it’s about fairness. The biggest statistic in quality of life is total family hours worked. Families combined hours and time off for vacation are dismal in this country. The poverty level is dismal as is the incarceration rate. We have more people in jail then communist China.


    Total corporate profits from Wall Street and Banking went up from 10% to 40% from 1975 to the present. That’s a big red flag!

    There are people getting filthy rich pushing papers (derivatives and the like) around and adding NOTHING to the economy but in fact just taking more and more of the productivity and prosperity that should be shared by the hard working people who actual do something constructive for a living. It’s all policy driven and the difference in how prosperity is shared varies significantly with administrations.


    Jack do you understand that if Bush and the Republicans hadn’t spent so irresponsible that the difference in interest payments on our debt from when he took office to the present could easily have paid for a National Healthcare system? There might have even been some left over for infrastructure that they have neglected and allowed to crumble. Sure we advanced but we could have been so much further along. We can do much much better!

    Posted by: muirgeo at April 26, 2008 8:16 AM
    Comment #251477

    muirego

    So you have shifted tactics. It is now about the Bush administration and the last seven years. I was not making a partisan post, but rather one about the general American condition. I know you enjoy bashing Bush, but we were discussing the last 50 years. What you can say (bad or good) about Bush’s time is that the median American in no better or worse off than he was in 1997. Given that this was one of the best years in U.S. history and between that we had the dot.com burst, 9/11 etc, it is understandable. But it is impossible to argue that he/she is worse off today and a generation ago.

    Since I hope to avoid the partisan nonesense, let’s just stipulate that in this one place you can say Bush was very bad and we made no progress. Do you still reject that progress we made up to 2000?

    So you are interested in less total working time. It is true that most Europeans get more time off than Americans do. They also make less in terms of what they can purchase and are less productive. This is a trade off that you can make. If you choose to downshift your income to the median European level, you can work less too. Europe is a nice place to live and some people might choose that sort of lifestyle, but recognize the trade-off.

    The poverty rate is one of those interesting never to be gotten rid of statistics. Since you are interested in comparisons, if you compare what a poverty rate individual can and does purchase each year, it puts him/her at around the 40th percentile in the purchasing power of a person in the EU and a person in poverty today has about the purchasing power of the average middle class American of 1958 (BTW – I choose that date simply because it is 50 years ago) Our poverty rate is related to our wealth rate.
    One more thing re comparisons. You cannot compare the U.S. with any particular European country, since most are the size of our states. Most international comparisons cherry pick countries. If you compare the total U.S. to places like Norway or Luxembourg we look bad, but that is like choose to compare Minnesota or Manhattan with all of Europe. Germany, BTW, has a GDP per capita about the size of Arkansas’. To compare comparable, you need to take all the EU, or all China or India. You can only make logical comparisons with like sized places. I would say with EU, China, Brazil, India, Russia & Indonesia. The U.S. comes out good in these comparisons.

    As for China, nobody would want to move there if they had to live like the natives. China is a horrible place. I will stipulate that.

    Anyway, my bottom line is that the good new is that the bad news is moslty wrong, about the U.S. and about the world.

    Posted by: Jack at April 26, 2008 8:42 AM
    Comment #251479

    NOTE: I did not write the comment above with the “be happy” song (www.watchblog.com/republicans/archives/005953.html#251456), but it appears to be apropos.

    Jack wrote: d.a.n. We have had this discussion many times before. Commonly used statistics tell me that things are better now. The median American income is about 1/3 higher than it was in 1970.
    False.

    1970 CPI = 224
    2007 CPI = 235
    In 37 years, Median Income per CPI increased a measely 4.9% (not 1/3 = 33%).

    • MEDIAN INCOME/CPI (1970 to 2006; source: CensusBureau.gov):

    • 250 |———————————————————

    • 245 |———————————————————

    • 240 |——————————————-xxxx—xx-

    • 235 |—-x——————————————-xx—x

    • 230 |—x——-xx————xxx———xx————-

    • 225 |x—-x—x————xx————x—————-

    • 220 |-x—-xx————x——-xxxxx——————

    • 215 |—————x—-x———————————-

    • 210 |—————-xxx————————————

    • 205 |———————————————————

    • 200 |———————————————————YEAR

    • ——1—————————1—————————2

    • ——9—————————9—————————0

    • ——7—————————8—————————0

    • ——0—————————8—————————7
    And median incomes have actually fallen when you consider:
    • more workers per household

    • more regressive taxation

    • more taxes of all kinds; many of which are regressive sales taxes

    • and inflation is higher now than in year 2007, which will probably result in an Income Per CPI for 2008 that is much lower (perhaps below 1970 levels by the end of year 2008).

    Jack wrote: People have access to good and services like never before.
    A lot of that is junk and waste, and some of it is deadly, and contaminated (even killing some people and pets).
    Jack wrote: More of us have been to college.
    Nevermind the massive debt for it, and it is becoming increasingly unaffordable, and 25% of our children are not graduating from high school.
    Jack wrote: More of us still own homes (even with all the subprime).
    False.

    Home ownership has not increased for lower-income and middle-income groups; it increased only for the wealthy.
    And year 2007 and 2008 statistics are likely to drive home ownership percentages for low-income AND milddle-income lower yet, with record foreclosures (220,000 per month).
    Since year 2006, home ownership has fallen for low-income and middle-income people.
    Currently, home ownership is in a record plunge, and the 4th quarter of 2007 saw the biggest one-year drop (1.1%) since tracking began in year 1965, as current mortgage problems and rising foreclosures take their toll (220,000 foreclosures per month as of JAN-2008).

    Jack wrote: We have more square footage.
    And bigger electricity bills (not good with rising energy and electricity costs), higher insurance premiums, and higer maintenance costs. Also, again, home ownership has decreased for low-income AND milddle-income, and will decrease further yet, with record foreclosures.
    Jack wrote: We live longer.
    For some, Yes. For some, No. Why are 195,000 Americans dying each year due to preventable medical mistakes, which (since 1999) is over 1.5 million people killed by preventable medical mistakes, which is more than all the U.S. troops killed in all American wars: the American Revolution (4,435), the War of 1812 (2,260), the Indian Wars (1,000), the Mexican War (1,733), the Civil War (462,000), the Spanish American War (385), WWI (53,402), WWII (291,557), Vietnam War (58,209), Korean War (36,574), the Iraq Gulf War (529), and the current Iraq war Mar-2003-present (4,050 as of 24-APR-2008), combined ! ? ? And how many tens of millions of Americans can no longer afford health insurance? And how about the obesity epidemic? And you are right to mention urban sprawl, because it is literally deadly. An estimated 400,000 people die prematurely because of the sprawl lifestyle, which will soon overtake cigarette smoking as a cause of death. Sprawl kills: www.newcolonist.com/sprawlkills.html
    Jack wrote: The list goes on.
    Your list is flawed and very short (certainly not even close to the 17+ items on the list above in Comment #251420: www.watchblog.com/republicans/archives/005953.html#251420
    Jack wrote: The only things that seem to be worse are commuting times and sprawl.
    The “only things?

    Yes, urban sprawl and commuting are far worse.
    But that is not the “only things” that are worse, unless you can explain away the 17+ things on the list above in Comment #251420: www.watchblog.com/republicans/archives/005953.html#251420

    Jack wrote: You reject these statistics.
    Nonsense.

    The statistics you have provided are flawed and out-right false in many cases.

    Jack wrote: So I go with my own observations.
    Observations that are obviously distorted by rose-colored glasses.
    Jack wrote: My observations, and I have been to every state in the union except Alaska, Hawaii and (incongruously) Missouri is that our country looks more prosperous.
    False again.

    First of all, the Income per statistics above show Incomes per CPI only rose a measely 4.9% between 1970 and 2007 (not 1/3=33% as you stated), and real median incomes have actually fallen fallen when you also consider:

    • more workers per household

    • more regressive taxation

    • more taxes of all kinds; many of which are regressive sales taxes

    • and inflation is higher now than in year 2007, making the Income Per CPI above even lower.

    Second, even if you’ve been to all of the states, you have not been to every household.
    Therefore, your anecdotal evidence is not at all convincing, and flatly refuted by countless other economic conditions that are now worse than ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s: one-simple-idea.com/NeverWorse.htm

    Jack wrote: Even poor households have decent cars, big TVs etc.
    Those comments are so materialistic. Things and junk like that do not mean things are better. That system of measurement is very one-dimensional to say the least.
    Jack wrote: When I first started travelling (I hitchhiked to Alabama when I was 18) lots of places didn’t even have indoor plumbing. In my almost forty years of travelling I have seen steady improvements in everything except sprawl, as mentioned above.
    More simple materialism, that ignores more important issues, such as the following that have never been worse ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s:
    • (01) Total federal government debt ($22.2 Trillion) has never been larger, both in size and as a percentage (over 160%) of the $13.86 Trillion GDP (year 2007), when including the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 million baby boomer bubble approaching.
    • (02) Total personal household debt nation-wide ($13.88 Trillion) has never been larger, both in size and as a percentage (over 100%) of the $13.86 Trillion GDP.
    • (03) Total nation-wide debt ($53 Trillion) has never been larger, both in size and as a percentage of the $13.86 Trillion GDP
    • (04)Real median household incomes have fallen since year 1999, and have actually never been lower since year 1978 when also including the fact that there are now more workers per household,
    • (05) Illegal immigration has never been worse and more costly, costing American citizens an estimated $70 Billion to $338 Billion annually in net losses. The problem has quadrupled since the amnesty of year 1986 (which John McCain voted for).
    • and by pandering for votes;
    • (06) The wealth disparity gap has never been larger since the 1930s. It changed direction and the gap has been growing larger since year 1976.
    • (07) Taxation has been regressive since year 2000 (or before). We have never had so many different kinds of taxes; many of which are regressive sales taxes.
    • (08) Home equities have never been lower (below 50%) since year 1945.
    • (09) Home ownership has fallen since year 2006 for low-income and middle-income groups. A study shows that only 59.6% of working class families owned their homes in 2003, lower than the 62.5% in year 1978. That is, home ownership is rising among the wealthy, while falling for most Americans that are losing wealth, losing equity, losing income, and losing their homes at record levels. Currently, home ownership is in a record plunge, and the 4th quarter of 2007 had the biggest one-year drop (1.1%) since year 1965, when tracking began.
    • (10)Foreclosures are at record levels (JAN-2008: 220,000)
    • (11) Average personal savings rates are negative (since year 2005), and have never been worse since year 1933.
    • (12) Energy vulnerability: oil and energy prices have never been higher (both in nominal price and adjusted for inflation; worse than the spike in year (one-simple-idea.com/USD_Falling.htm#Oil 1981).
    • (13) Federal government bloat has never been worse, and continues to grow to nightmare proportions. There are now more jobs in government than all manufacturing nation-wide.
    • (14) Global competition has never been stronger. Trade deficits have never been larger (see China). Transnational corporations want cheap labor (WageStagnation + CheapLabor = BigProfits). Jobs are leaving the nation in droves; a trend that started in the early 1970s, and also helps to explain why real median household incomes have actually been falling since year 1978.
    • (15) Medicare has hundreds of billions of unfunded liabilities per year, which are being funded by more borrowing and debt. It is not sustainable; especially with the approaching 77 million baby-boomer bubble. In year 2007, Medicare (16%) and Medicaid (7%) combined were 23% of the $2.7 Trillion federal budget.
    • (16) Inflation was higher in the mid-to-late 1970s and early 1980s, but we have had positive inflation since year 1956. 3% to 5% inflation doesn’t sound bad, but when it is every year, it becomes exponential (i.e. 3% this year is really more than 3% of last year, which is more than 3% the year before, etc., etc., etc.). Thus, a 1950 U.S. Dollar is now worth less than 10 cents.
    • (17) Other exacerbating problems are 2 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (cost as of Mar-2008 estimated between $517 Billion to $2+ Trillion), skyrocketing health care costs, declining quality and rising costs of education, election system problems, lawlessness, violent crime rates are on the rise again after falling for many years, environmental issues, over-population (falling acres of arable land per person), declining transparency in government (i.e. the U.S.A. Corruption Perception Index has fallen for 10 years), etc., etc., etc.
    Jack wrote: So the statistics tell me things are better. My experience tells me things are better. You tell me things are worse. And you are surprised when I don’t believe it.
    It’s hard to see reality wearing rose-colored glasses.
    Jack wrote: You also are doing better, as you said. Of course I was being facetious with my offer of help and sympathy, because I was nearly certain that you were doing well – as are most Americans – compared with the past.
    False again, unless you can explain away those 17+ things above (and that’s the short list), which thoroughly trounced your tiny and flawed list.
    Jack wrote: I was calling your bluff on this and you folded.
    Nonsense. I’m still waiting for some convincing evidence, because the lame list you’ve provided so far is not convincing; not even close.

    Sure, there have been advances in some things.
    But things overall have not improved in most ways for most Americans in the last 30 years, as evidenced above by the 17+ major economic conditions and issues.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 26, 2008 8:58 AM
    Comment #251480

    Here’s some more food for thought, with regard to population, the environment, arable land, and acres per person.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 26, 2008 9:00 AM
    Comment #251481

    d.a.n excellent post on the population and environment issue. Seems Ehrlich and the Club of Rome may have been premature but not wrong. The gains made in agriculture the past 30 years may account for some of that. However the gains appearently leech the nutrients out of the soil so unless a better biotechnology comes along the ability to continue growing foods at this pace will not be substainable.

    Seems hoarding food may be the better investment right now.
    http://finance.yahoo.com/banking-budgeting/article/104914/Load-Up-the-Pantry

    Posted by: j2t2 at April 26, 2008 10:15 AM
    Comment #251482

    Yes Jack just say no. No to throwing our money away in Iraq. No to bailing out corporate America every time their irresponsible strategys fail. No to subsidies for big oil and farmers who are enjoying the largest profits in memory. No to borrowing against the future in the form of tax rebates. Tax rebates with the hope that people will spend it. Spend it with the idea that it will stimulate our market driven society enough to mask current economic problems at least until the end of this election year.

    But then isn’t that the crux of our economic woes. People are saying no. They are no longer spending as frivolously as in the recent past. The recent bailout of some of our financial institutions, housing market issues and this temporary spending spree is proof that all is not well. This is not pessimism. It is reality. One could indeed take an optimistic approach to this whole matter. But that optimism will have to come with the idea that penalties will have to be paid for a few decades of irresponsible financial policies. I am not saying my life is bad. My pessimism is derived from the fact that financial conditions are regressing in the wake of a tapped out credit driven society. Reality tells me that fact can not be simply pushed aside to make room for make believe fantasies of economic stability.

    Were it not for pessimism we really would have little to discuss on this blog. Optimism often stems from a degree of denial. A denial of reality. Were it not for those realities there would be no need for optimism.

    Posted by: RickIL at April 26, 2008 10:22 AM
    Comment #251483
    j2t2 wrotre: d.a.n excellent post on the population and environment issue. Seems Ehrlich and the Club of Rome may have been premature but not wrong. The gains made in agriculture the past 30 years may account for some of that. However the gains appearently leech the nutrients out of the soil so unless a better biotechnology comes along the ability to continue growing foods at this pace will not be substainable. Seems hoarding food may be the better investment right now.
    Thanks! Amazing that the world population increases by 211,000 people per day, and arable land is disappearing by 67,627 acres per day. That sounds like a recipe for a Soylent Green scenario.

    Wow. I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime (in the U.S.). The question is: Is the food hoarding in the U.S. justified, based on the following from that article ?

      “Load up the pantry,” says Manu Daftary, one of Wall Street’s top investors and the manager of the Quaker Strategic Growth mutual fund. “I think prices are going higher. People are too complacent. They think it isn’t going to happen here. But I don’t know how the food companies can absorb higher costs.” (Full disclosure: I am an investor in Quaker Strategic)
      Stocking up on food may not replace your long-term investments, but it may make a sensible home for some of your shorter-term cash. Do the math. If you keep your standby cash in a money-market fund you’ll be lucky to get a 2.5% interest rate. Even the best one-year certificate of deposit you can find is only going to pay you about 4.1%, according to Bankrate.com. And those yields are before tax.
      Meanwhile the most recent government data shows food inflation for the average American household is now running at 4.5% a year.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 26, 2008 10:57 AM
    Comment #251484
    Jack wrote: The bottom line is that unless you are a bit of a loser or your parents were especially successful but didn’t pass any of that along, you live better than your parents did and your kids will probably do better than you have. Of course, you could do better. Some people have too much success, but nobody has enough. A cynic recognizes that and gets depressed. A wise person understands that this is just the way people are and tries to figure out ways to improve but knows that life is a continuous journey and usually fun if you allow it to be.
    Jack, Excessive optimism is equally as bad as excessive pessimism, because BOTH are delusion, BOTH lead people to ignore reality, and BOTH lead people to not try to find solutions.

    However, that is not the case here for many.
    Especially when so many here are also offering many common-sense solutions, precisely targeting abuses that need to be stopped, and targeting the inevitable consequences of those abuses if ignored: one-simple-idea.com/NeverWorse.htm

    We are all culpable, and blind partisanship, blind loyalty, misplaced compassion, apathy, complacency, ignorance, laziness, greed, irrational fear, and delusion (such as irrational optimism or pessimism) are the real problems we have always faced and still face today. Also, things run in cycles, and many things have not been getting better in the past 30 years (see list of 17+ issues above), and the longer these major issues continue to be ignored, the more painful it will be later.

    The thing to remember about government is that we are the governement.
    So often, we speak of it like it is some totally separate entity.
    But we elect that government.
    Therefore, the government is us. We are the governement.

    And when enough voters get fed-up enough with it (hopefully, sooner than later; before the consequences become too painful), then the voters will hopefully simply do the one simple thing they were supposed to be doing all along:

    And repeatedly giving Congress dismally low approval ratings, but repeatedly rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians with 93%-to-99% re-election rates is not the solution.

    QUESTION: When will enough voters stop doing that?
    ANSWER: Simple: When it finally becomes too painful.

    At any rate, the voters will have the government that the voters elect, and deserve.

    And it won’t get better by pretending issues don’t exist.
    It won’t get better by being unrealistic (e.g. excessively optimistic or pessimistic).
    It won’t get better by rationalizing mediocrity.
    It won’t get better by spinning and denying reality because it makes the IN-PARTY look bad.
    It won’t get better by fueling and wallowing in the circular, divisive, time-wasting partisan warfare (a favorite past-time for too many people).
    It won’t get better without more eduacation, transparency, and accountability.
    It won’t get better by repeatedly rewarding irresponsible incumbent politicians with 93%-to-99% re-election rates: one-simple-idea.com/CongressMakeUp_1855_2008.htm
    It won’t get better until enough voters finally decide they’ve had enough, and hopefully they won’t wait so long that the road back from fiscal and moral bankruptcy becomes impossible to find.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 26, 2008 11:31 AM
    Comment #251486

    from
    http://www.optimist.org/default.cfm?content=vistors/vis1.htm
    The Optimist Creed
    Promise Yourself-
    To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
    To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
    To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
    To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
    To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
    To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
    To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
    To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
    To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
    To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

    or

    from Monty Python’s Life of Brian:

    Some things in life are bad
    They can really make you mad
    Other things just make you swear and curse.
    When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
    Don’t grumble, give a whistle
    And this’ll help things turn out for the best…

    And…always look on the bright side of life…


    Posted by: ohrealy at April 26, 2008 11:41 AM
    Comment #251493

    d.a.n
    I actually dont believe that 4.5% figure based on what I have seen. I think those that tell us this 4.5% is correct fall for the smaller package same price scam that is so prevelent the past few years. When I cant get to Trader Joes, which on most items has the best prices by far, I go to Safeways and WalMart. Both have raised their prices on food by at leat 8 to 10% recently.

    As to your question is it justified, who knows? But the concept of food as an investment is rather interesting. Why bother to save $$ at the rate food costs are rising. I’ll trade you 2 tomatoes and a squash or pay you $500 for a oil change may be the way of the future.

    Posted by: j2t2 at April 26, 2008 1:01 PM
    Comment #251495
    j2t2 wrote: d.a.n I actually dont believe that 4.5% figure based on what I have seen. I think those that tell us this 4.5% is correct fall for the smaller package same price scam that is so prevelent the past few years. When I cant get to Trader Joes, which on most items has the best prices by far, I go to Safeways and WalMart. Both have raised their prices on food by at leat 8 to 10% recently.
    I agree. Food inflation of only 4.5%, and the currently reported overall inflation of only 4.0% is hard to believe.

    We are not alone in suspecting the inflation factors being reported by the government.

    For example, the M3 Money Supply (which the government stopped reporting in July-2005) increased by a factor of 75.2 between years 1950 and 2005.
    And the population doubled in that period too.
    However, based on government inflation numbers, a 1950 U.S. Dollar is now worth 10 cents.
    That’s only a factor of 10 (i.e. the U.S. Dollar decreased in value by a factor of 10).
    Something doesn’t quite make sense.
    Of course, a lot of foreigners now also hold U.S. Dollars, but is such a huge increase in the M3 Money Supply (by a factor of 75.2) somehow consistent with inflation that has decreased the value of the U.S. Dollar by only a factor of 10 ?

    j2t2 wrote: As to your question is it justified, who knows? But the concept of food as an investment is rather interesting. Why bother to save $$ at the rate food costs are rising. I’ll trade you 2 tomatoes and a squash or pay you $500 for a oil change may be the way of the future.
    Makes sense. It’s probably best if this hoarding doesn’t spread though, because that alone might create shortages, bubbles, and disruption that may make things worse.

    As for inflation, 3% to 5% inflation doesn’t sound that bad, except when it is EVERY YEAR.
    Then it becomes exponential.

    And with $53 Trillion in nation-wide debt, no one can (or wants to) tell us where the money will come from to pay the interest on $53 Trillion of debt, much less the money to reduce the $53 Trillion of principal so that the debt doesn’t continue to grow larger and larger (now already 3.81 times the nation’s $13.86 Trillion GDP).

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 26, 2008 1:24 PM
    Comment #251496

    Might be a good time to grow a garden and/or get a green house?

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 26, 2008 1:25 PM
    Comment #251497

    “Were it not for pessimism we really would have little to discuss on this blog. Optimism often stems from a degree of denial. A denial of reality. Were it not for those realities there would be no need for optimism.”
    Posted by: RickIL at April 26, 2008 10:22 AM

    Let me see if I understand this statement correctly RickIL. George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, Jack Kennedy, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, and so many others were acting from a “degree of denial”? That’s crap. These great leaders were full of optimism based upon their faith in God and faith in free men and women being loosed from government tyranny.

    Why is it liberals always see the glass as half empty? Answer, promoting misery buys votes. Convincing enough people that they are miserable and that only they can provide relief, is the game plan for both Clinton and Obama. Only by allowing government to rule their lives can the people be saved from themselves. Blame all the misery on the wealthy, the corporations or whatever or whoever is the current bogyman and you will win elections. This is a loosing game-plan as many would-be presidents have found to be true.

    Ronald Reagan enjoyed historic landslide victory’s and was swept into office with a message of optimism and faith in the American people. He roused our national sense of self-reliance, not government handouts and a socialized mindset. American’s had a leader, one who instilled unashamed optimism and a belief that government exists to serve, not rule.

    Jack Kennedy didn’t ask “What can my country do for me”? He also understood the tremendous value of ordinary American’s being left alone to follow their dreams without government’s heavy-handed fist.

    Every form of tyranny begins with convincing people of their misery and offering solutions that only they can provide. True strength and well-being rests with each one of us, all 300 million Americans, not with some pied-piper promising more at the expense of others.

    d.a.n. if I look up the word pessimist in dictionary will I find your photo there? All the references and charts and graphs you present are from one perspective. Try being a realistic optimist for just one day and google for positive references. You’ll be amazed. On the internet it is simple to support any viewpoint. Why is it that you only present one side?

    Most of us simply are too busy leading our happy and productive lives to spend the hours you apparently do to reference all the depressing, pessimistic views.

    Posted by: Jim M at April 26, 2008 2:08 PM
    Comment #251500

    Jim M

    I see the good in life. I also see the bad. I am in real life generally an optimist. I personally tend to look beyond adversity and make the most of whatever challenges are presented to me. I do realize that it will do myself or anyone else little good to dwell on things that can not be fixed in the short term. But that does not mean that I am going to stick my head in the sand and proclaim that because I can’t see it or don’t like it, it must not be there. Optimism is a good thing so long as it does not overreach reality. Pessimism is a good thing so long as one does not allow it to rule their thoughts and actions. Optimism nor pessimism can exist without the other.

    Why is it that conservatives always see liberals as the purveyors of bad news? Could it be that we are more inclined to own up to the realities of our surroundings. And that just maybe conservatives tend to ignore what is broken or not working today in favor of getting around to addressing the issue tomorrow. Their motto should be Don’t worry about nothing and nothing will be alright.

    Posted by: RickIL at April 26, 2008 3:21 PM
    Comment #251502

    Jim:

    It is nice to see another realist around. It is hard to be in a place that by definition will tolerate no good or positive news of any kind. Nothing can be presented as positive because it violates a group think of some sort. Life must be dismal and negative.

    To believe that there is at least some positive in the world, is redefined as “rosy”.

    Of course the pesimism is a bunch of crap. Our world is full of wonderful things. there are many many positive stories.

    For instance the food inflation. The reason for food inflation at the core is that more people can now afford these items and are competing with us for them, thus bidding them up. That means that somewhere on the other side of these financial equations, someone is prospering. That must be a bad thing as well. People coming out of poverty and all.

    Again, these terrible finanical times that we are in where we are debating if we are in a recession or not. You know that terrible 5% unemployment. (Of course we do not mention that in Germany it is close to double that figure). World GDP growth is right now higher than it was in America in those golden perfect years of the Clinton presidency.

    That means that poor people are getting jobs and becoming middle class. This too is a terrible thing.

    Of and of course the only way they can become middle class in then end is education and job skill. So on our planet we are producing more and more people with strong educational skills. Again this must be reclassified as a negative some how or it breaks the group think thing.

    Energy is a terrible crisis and all. Of course you read about it. Brazil just found one of the greastes finds of all time. Over 30 trillion barrels of oil. Enough to take care of the entire worlds oil needs for 10 years at current consumption rates. More bad news.

    Of course oil was not being discovered and that was a crisis some time ago. People were not looking for it! Why look at @20 a barrel? Shoot if we get to 200/barrel we will all be drilling in our back yards. We will find it everywhere!!

    What we are dealing in this country is problems creasted by progress. We have 3 times the workers in our free market system than we did before the fall of communism. We have a much longer longevity. Of course we are going to have scarcity is social services for the elderly because of progress, and of course we have a issues with commodities causes by progress.

    Progress creates problems. What we should do is start shooting our elderly when they reach the longevity rates from the 1970’s, and we should put up the iron curtain again, and erect high trade berriers and destroy the Internet. Then all these problems can go away, and we can have utopia again.

    No that will not work. The pessimists will see that as negative as well.

    Since you cannot have progress without creating some sort of negatives, I think we will always have those who choose to be the ones who keep the lists of the negative things of the world.

    We should encourage them to keep the pessimist list long. We can delegate being pessimists to them. Then the rest of us can live our lives and take what comes.

    That will be progress.

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 26, 2008 4:13 PM
    Comment #251503

    I like to hope for the best, but I prefer to do that in the course of acknowledging and dealing with the worst.

    We need hope, belief that things can work out for the best. What we don’t need is the illusion that things must work out for the best. If we don’t acknowledge that, we take too many stupid risks, and fail to plan like we need to, in order to head off those failures. We have to maintain a level of humility in our endeavours that will allow us to sense when we’re heading for the cliff while we still can do something about it.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 26, 2008 4:19 PM
    Comment #251504
    Jim M wrote: d.a.n. if I look up the word pessimist in dictionary will I find your photo there?
    No, but if you look up idiot, guess whose picture you might find? : )
    Jim M wrote: All the references and charts and graphs you present are from one perspective.
    Nonsense. I’ve listed good things too.

    In fact, not long ago, I wrote the following in one of Jacks threads …

      Many good things have happened in the last 230+ years:
      • (01) The U.S. Constitution

      • (02) Slavery was finally abolished (though it came much later than it should have).

      • (03) Progress to reduce discrimination based on race, religion, color, ethnicity, gender, etc.

      • (04) Entrepreneurial spirit, despite the severely bloated government, incessant bureaucratic nonsense, and corruption.

      • (05) Productivity, ingenuity, and diversity.

      • (06) Internet (didn’t Al Gore invent that? Not just the MSM that constantly leaves out the facts, spins the facts, or out right lies)

      • (07) Technology, and the U.S. has lead in many ways.

      • (08) Generosity of Americans.

      • (09) The U.S. is still one of the top 26 (of 195 nations world-wide) countries to live-in (though it has been slipping lower).

      • (10) Freedom of speech, and most Americans that are not afraid to speak up about valid issues, and propose solutions, despite some people (bullies) that try to unfairly label them as traitors, America haters, and America trashers.
      Despite all that, there is no reason to not work to make things better, identify problems, root causes, and also propose solutions.

    Jim M wrote: Try being a realistic optimist for just one day and google for positive references. You’ll be amazed.
    “realistic optimist” ?

    If there is such a thing.

    There are good things too.
    And there are solutions too. Here’s a few.

    • Here’s a few more … :
      • [01] VOIDnow.org (Voter Education)

      • [02] FOAVC.org (Uphold the Constitution; stop constitutional violations: One-Simple-Idea.com/ConstitutionalViolations.htm)

      • [03] One-Simple-Idea.com/One-Simple-Idea.htm#NinePointPlan

      • [04] One-Simple-Idea.com/OnePurposePerBILL.htm

      • [05] One-Simple-Idea.com/BalancedBudgetAmendment1.htm

      • [06] One-Simple-Idea.com/One-Simple-Idea.htm#BalanceTheBudget

      • [07] One-Simple-Idea.com/BorderSecurity.htm#Solution

      • [08] One-Simple-Idea.com/TaxSystemReform.htm

      • [09] One-Simple-Idea.com/Biometrics.htm

      • [10] One-Simple-Idea.com/ProblemAndSolution.htm

      • [11] One-Simple-Idea.com/HealthCareSolutions.htm

      • [12] One-Simple-Idea.com/BiofuelsAndEthanol.htm

      • [13] One-Simple-Idea.com/Education.htm

      • [14] One-Simple-Idea.com/ElectionReform.htm

      • [15] One-Simple-Idea.com/Environment1.htm

      • [16] One-Simple-Idea.com/LawEnforcement.htm

      • [17] One-Simple-Idea.com/WhatAllVotersShouldDo1.htm

      • [18] One-Simple-Idea.com/WhatAllVotersShouldDo2.htm

    Now, a real pessimist would not waste time working on solutions would they?
    So, that sort of shoots your theory full of holes (again).

    But good things alone isn’t really the point.
    The point is whether things are better or worse now than about 30 (or more) years ago.

    And I haven’t yet seen you providng evidence to disprove any of the 17+ things above.
    After all, that would be (by far) the easiest way to support any claims to the contrary.

    Jim M wrote: On the internet it is simple to support any viewpoint.
    Nonsense.

    There are credible sources and there are questionable sources.
    And I usually have multiple credible sources.

    Jim M wrote: Why is it that you only present one side?
    I don’t. As shown above, I’ve also listed good things.

    But the purpose of this site is not to merely discuss good things.
    It is to discuss problems and solutions.
    And the problem with some problems is that some people don’t believe some problems exist at all.
    Optimism is good, unless it is excessive.
    Then it is bad as excessive pessimism.
    The trick is objectivity.

    Jim M wrote: Most of us simply are too busy leading our happy and productive lives to spend the hours you apparently do to reference all the depressing, pessimistic views.
    Nonsense.

    But I understand the frustration in trying to defend the indefensible, and turning into a pretzel while trying to find a way to explain-away the unexplainable.
    You would provide contradictory evidence if you could.
    So instead, you weasel out of it by saying you are too busy leading a “happy and productive” life.
    When unable and/or unwilling to disprove assertions, you instead choose to write: “On the internet it is simple to support any viewpoint”.
    If you see anything that is in error, please feel free to provide evidence to the contrary.
    As for references, it’s easy to simply pull them from my web-sites or other web-sites, so it isn’t as time consuming as you think, and it’s also not the first time these issues have been visited.

    So, it is easy to say things are or aren’t, but proving it is different, and simply saying the internet can prove anything is nonsense.
    As you may recall …

    • You first incorrectly disputed the 9-to-1 fractional lending ratio used by the Federal Reserve.

    • Then you wrote “I don’t even know what the 9/1 fractional system you mention is…”.

    • Then you disputed whether the FairTax.org’s 30% Sales Tax could be regressive. {Which not only can be, but most probably will be}

    • Then you argued that lower courts could not interpret the Constitution. {Which they most certainly can and should do.}

    • Then you argued about inclusive and non-inclusive taxes. {when no one was disputing the difference}.

    • Then you asked me “d.a.n. are you a numerologist?”. {Clearly, someone doesn’t know the difference between math and the occult.}

    • Then you wrote: “Your chalk-talk doesn’t reveal anything to me”. {See the previous line above.}

    • Then you argued that no flat tax BILLs had been introduced to Congress. {Yet one was introduced in 2007, HR 1040}

    • Then you tried to argue that restaurants and Americans were doing fine by saying “Have any of you depressed pessimists on this blog been to a restaurant on Friday nite lately” {despite the statistics that show restaurants are not doing well at all. More: www.usatoday.com/money/industries/food/2008-03-02-restaurants-economy_N.htm}

    • And now you write (i.e. cop-out): “On the internet it is simple to support any viewpoint”. {Then you should no trouble finding opposing evidence, eh?}

    If you want a real debate, it will require more than you simply saying what is or isn’t (i.e. that is, to have any credibility).

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 26, 2008 4:29 PM
    Comment #251507

    Craig Holmes-
    The reason for the food inflation is partly increased fuel prices, and partly the use of all too much farmland to grow corn for ethanol instead of wheat or corn for food.

    We have 5% unemployment, but that’s not only going up, but it’s not so representative of those who are not working. Then the figure becomes 12%. Besides, the Bush administration has been a net loss for employment, the first time that’s occurred since the Great Depression.

    Additionally, if you’ve been paying attention, the middle class has been losing people to poverty, not gaining them.

    As for oil? Look, even if there is a cheap supply to be found, it still comes at the cost of increasing climate change, which will bite us in the ass economically by causing further disruption of crops, weather related damage to infrastructure, and so on and so forth.

    Trade barriers remain a problem, with China and other nations we trade with erecting them, and America’s interests poorly defended. We don’t need high trade barriers, but we hardly need to be letting ourselves be treated so unfairly.

    As for the internet, its funny you mention that. In return for deregulation of phone services, the telecom companies were supposed to provide high-speed internet to the country as a whole. That didn’t happen, and the Bush administration and congress didn’t push the matter. Now Europeans and Japanese have forty to fifty MB/s heading into their homes while the companies here present 768k as broadband.

    Conservatives are not selling true optimism but complacency and denial. The real optimism, the optimism that matters, is the belief that we can get beyond these problems and end the screwups, that we can head off further warming, break our oil addiction, reenergize our internet markets, get a fair deal on trade, and deal with other problems successful. That will be progress. Anything else is just apology for the status quo.

    Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at April 26, 2008 4:48 PM
    Comment #251508
    Craig Holmes wrote: It is nice to see another realist around.
    There’s a difference between realism and excessive optimism or excessive pessimism.
    Craig Holmes wrote: It is hard to be in a place that by definition will tolerate no good or positive news of any kind. Nothing can be presented as positive because it violates a group think of some sort. Life must be dismal and negative.
    Nonsense.

    The issue was whether the total economic picture is better now than about 30 years ago.
    The are many good things, but there are many abuses that have gradually worsened in the past 30 years.

    Craig Holmes wrote: To believe that there is at least some positive in the world, is redefined as “rosy”.
    False.

    Excessive optimism to the point that it ignores reality is defined as “rosy”.
    But such tactics and extrapolations such as that are not surprising.
    It’s easier to do that than provide real evidence to contradict the issues being raised as problems.

    Craig Holmes wrote: Of course the pesimism is a bunch of crap. Our world is full of wonderful things. there are many many positive stories.
    Of course there have been many good things.

    What is a load of crap is shifty the goal post.
    The issue wasn’t that nothing good ever happens.
    The issue is whether things have actually become worse in the last 30 (or so) years.
    If you look at all economic factors, many things have deteriorated in the last 30 years.
    If you weigh all the good and all the bad, the bad appears to be tipping the scale, since most major economic factors are now worse than ever for most Americans, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s.

    Craig Holmes wrote: For instance the food inflation. The reason for food inflation at the core is that more people can now afford these items and are competing with us for them, thus bidding them up. That means that somewhere on the other side of these financial equations, someone is prospering. That must be a bad thing as well. People coming out of poverty and all.
    It’s not just food inflation.

    It’s incessant posistive inflation since year 1956.
    3% to 5% inflation doesn’t sound bad, until it is year after year after year, which is why a 1950 U.S. Dollar is now worth 10 cents, and the U.S. Dollar is falling like a rock since 1999.

    Craig Holmes wrote: Again, these terrible finanical times that we are in where we are debating if we are in a recession or not.
    A recession is six months of negative GDP growth.

    It has not yet been definitely confirmed that we are in a recession.

    Craig Holmes wrote: You know that terrible 5% unemployment. (Of course we do not mention that in Germany it is close to double that figure).
    5% unemployment is not bad.

    But unemployent is rising now.
    Unemployment was over 25% in the Great Depression.
    And with so much nation-wide debt ($53 Trillion), and other pressing problems going ignored, to ignore the potential for an economic melt-down of that magnitude is the epitomy of irresponsibile, excessively optimistic “happy talk”. David Walker, former U.S. Comptroller has been warning about the possibility for some time. Are you saying he doesn’t know what he is talking about?

    Craig Holmes wrote: World GDP growth is right now higher than it was in America in those golden perfect years of the Clinton presidency.
    The little detail you always prefer to omit is that the rich are most reaping the benefit of that GDP growth.

    In the last 8 years, while GDP grew in the U.S., most Americans incomes decreased.
    How convenient that you always forgot that little detail, eh?

    Craig Holmes wrote: That means that poor people are getting jobs and becoming middle class. This too is a terrible thing.
    False.

    Real median household incomes have been falling since 1999, and the have also decreased for the last 30 years when including more workers per household, and more regressive taxes.

    Craig Holmes wrote: Of and of course the only way they can become middle class in the end is education and job skill. So on our planet we are producing more and more people with strong educational skills. Again this must be reclassified as a negative some how or it breaks the group think thing.
    Nonsense.

    I have not ever heard anyone saying education is bad.
    What Americans don’t like is unfair trade policies and massive trade imbalances that are hurting America.
    But it is not surprising to see the issue all twisted and distorted into some other nonsense, such as people having a disdain for increased education and job skills.
    That’s typical when the real issues can not be dismissed or so easily explained away.

    Craig Holmes wrote: Energy is a terrible crisis and all. Of course you read about it. Brazil just found one of the greastes finds of all time. Over 30 trillion barrels of oil. Enough to take care of the entire worlds oil needs for 10 years at current consumption rates. More bad news.
    Yes, our energy vulnerabity is genuine, and to trivialize it is foolish. Also, oil is a finite resource. Surely you are not saying we should not research alternative energy sources?
    Craig Holmes wrote: Of course oil was not being discovered and that was a crisis some time ago. People were not looking for it! Why look at @20 a barrel? Shoot if we get to 200/barrel we will all be drilling in our back yards. We will find it everywhere!!
    Drilling in the U.S. has increased considerably. But if you think you’ll find oil everywhere, you’re wrong about that.
    Craig Holmes wrote: What we are dealing in this country is problems created by progress. We have 3 times the workers in our free market system than we did before the fall of communism.
    “3 times” ? What between-dates are you referring to. The U.S. population also doubled between 1950 and 2005.
    Craig Holmes wrote: We have a much longer longevity.
    A little longer. How do you define much longer?

    Also, that depends.
    For some, Yes. For some, No. Why are 195,000 Americans dying each year due to preventable medical mistakes, which (since 1999) is over 1.5 million people killed by preventable medical mistakes, which is more than all the U.S. troops killed in all American wars: the American Revolution (4,435), the War of 1812 (2,260), the Indian Wars (1,000), the Mexican War (1,733), the Civil War (462,000), the Spanish American War (385), WWI (53,402), WWII (291,557), Vietnam War (58,209), Korean War (36,574), the Iraq Gulf War (529), and the current Iraq war Mar-2003-present (4,050 as of 24-APR-2008), combined ! ? ? And how many tens of millions of Americans can no longer afford health insurance? And how about the obesity epidemic? And you are right to mention urban sprawl, because it is literally deadly. An estimated 400,000 people die prematurely because of the sprawl lifestyle, which will soon overtake cigarette smoking as a cause of death. Sprawl kills: www.newcolonist.com/sprawlkills.html

    Craig Holmes wrote: Of course we are going to have scarcity in social services for the elderly because of progress, and of course we have a issues with commodities causes by progress.
    True, and that is largely because $12.8 Trillion was irresponsibly borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 million baby-boomer bubble approaching.
    Craig Holmes wrote: Progress creates problems. What we should do is start shooting our elderly when they reach the longevity rates from the 1970’s, and we should put up the iron curtain again, and erect high trade barriers and destroy the Internet. Then all these problems can go away, and we can have utopia again.
    More nonsense, as if the internet, the fall of the iron curtain, and increased longevity disqualifies and explain-away these more numerous problems that have never been worse ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s:
    • (01) Total federal government debt ($22.2 Trillion) has never been larger, both in size and as a percentage (over 160%) of the $13.86 Trillion GDP (year 2007), when including the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 million baby boomer bubble approaching.
    • (02) Total personal household debt nation-wide ($13.88 Trillion) has never been larger, both in size and as a percentage (over 100%) of the $13.86 Trillion GDP.
    • (03) Total nation-wide debt ($53 Trillion) has never been larger, both in size and as a percentage of the $13.86 Trillion GDP
    • (04)Real median household incomes have fallen since year 1999, and have actually never been lower since year 1978 when also including the fact that there are now more workers per household,
    • (05) Illegal immigration has never been worse and more costly, costing American citizens an estimated $70 Billion to $338 Billion annually in net losses. The problem has quadrupled since the amnesty of year 1986 (which John McCain voted for).
    • and by pandering for votes;
    • (06) The wealth disparity gap has never been larger since the 1930s. It changed direction and the gap has been growing larger since year 1976.
    • (07) Taxation has been regressive since year 2000 (or before). We have never had so many different kinds of taxes; many of which are regressive sales taxes.
    • (08) Home equities have never been lower (below 50%) since year 1945.
    • (09) Home ownership has fallen since year 2006 for low-income and middle-income groups. A study shows that only 59.6% of working class families owned their homes in 2003, lower than the 62.5% in year 1978. That is, home ownership is rising among the wealthy, while falling for most Americans that are losing wealth, losing equity, losing income, and losing their homes at record levels. Currently, home ownership is in a record plunge, and the 4th quarter of 2007 had the biggest one-year drop (1.1%) since year 1965, when tracking began.
    • (10)Foreclosures are at record levels (JAN-2008: 220,000)
    • (11) Average personal savings rates are negative (since year 2005), and have never been worse since year 1933.
    • (12) Energy vulnerability: oil and energy prices have never been higher (both in nominal price and adjusted for inflation; worse than the spike in year 1981: one-simple-idea.com/USD_Falling.htm#Oil
    • (13) Federal government bloat has never been worse, and continues to grow to nightmare proportions. There are now more jobs in government than all manufacturing nation-wide.
    • (14) Global competition has never been stronger. Trade deficits have never been larger (see China). Transnational corporations want cheap labor (WageStagnation + CheapLabor = BigProfits). Jobs are leaving the nation in droves; a trend that started in the early 1970s, and also helps to explain why real median household incomes have actually been falling since year 1978.
    • (15) Medicare has hundreds of billions of unfunded liabilities per year, which are being funded by more borrowing and debt. It is not sustainable; especially with the approaching 77 million baby-boomer bubble. In year 2007, Medicare (16%) and Medicaid (7%) combined were 23% of the $2.7 Trillion federal budget.
    • (16) Inflation was higher in the mid-to-late 1970s and early 1980s, but we have had positive inflation since year 1956. 3% to 5% inflation doesn’t sound bad, but when it is every year, it becomes exponential (i.e. 3% this year is really more than 3% of last year, which is more than 3% the year before, etc., etc., etc.). Thus, a 1950 U.S. Dollar is now worth less than 10 cents.
    • (17) Other exacerbating problems are 2 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (cost as of Mar-2008 estimated between $517 Billion to $2+ Trillion), skyrocketing health care costs, declining quality and rising costs of education, election system problems, lawlessness, violent crime rates are on the rise again after falling for many years, environmental issues, over-population (falling acres of arable land per person), declining transparency in government (i.e. the U.S.A. Corruption Perception Index has fallen for 10 years), etc., etc., etc.
    Craig Holmes wrote: No that will not work. The pessimists will see that as negative as well.
    Solutions to problems will not come about by pretending they don’t exist, or trivializing problems, or opposing those that are trying to develop solutions.


    Craig Holmes wrote:
    Since you cannot have progress without creating some sort of negatives, I think we will always have those who choose to be the ones who keep the lists of the negative things of the world.

    And you should be thankful for that … especially when they are also trying to develop solutions.

    Craig Holmes wrote: We should encourage them to keep the pessimist list long. We can delegate being pessimists to them. Then the rest of us can live our lives and take what comes. That will be progress.
    Nonsense.

    Feel free anytime to provide your list of things to prove that the economy has improved in the last 30 years.

    At any rate, realism is the best policy.
    Neither excessive optimism or pessimism is good.

    Only a fool would jump to the totally unsubstantiated conclusion that the sky-is-falling.
    It’s not the end of the world, despite the childish extrapolations and exaggeratinos.

    But, equally foolish is the ostrich that sticks its head in sand, only to find out (too late) that it was actually a bucket of concrete … something that might not have happened had the ostrich first removed its rose-colored glasses?

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 26, 2008 5:20 PM
    Comment #251510

    Jack, your reply to Muriego completely dodged one of his most critical, though pregnant, comments. He said: “There are people getting filthy rich pushing papers (derivatives and the like) around and adding NOTHING to the economy but in fact just taking more and more of the productivity and prosperity that should be shared by the hard working people who actual do something constructive for a living.”

    Do you not understand the import of what he said? We are importing what we don’t produce here, and to those foreign countries we are tansferring denominational wealth. In addition to the growing transfer of American wealth to foreign nations via the service on the national debt increased 64% so far, by Republicans and the Bush Administration.

    Those without wealth will have to remain in the U.S. to suffer the consequences of mismanagement and failure to steward the future. Not so of the wealthy both newly so, and those who have double, tripled and more their already wealthy positions in the last decade and a half or so. They can afford to ruin the nation’s future for the short term gain, as can their children who share or inherit their wealth.

    But, the rest of Americans will have to suffer the consequences of the wealthier’s greed and mismanagement of shortsighting for their own gains. This combination of transfer of wealth from America and Americans to a small number of American elite and foreign investors/producers, has long opportunity costs of major proportions for the working families in America. Their infrastructure, their educational cost needs, their Katrinas, their defense postures and budgets, and their quality of life insurance policies (SS and Medicare) all are en route to suffering credit worthiness and liquidity problems of major proportions.

    Can you not see this? And these are not new revelations. Yet, for a very long time, solutions to avert such a future have been almost entirely politically ignored. Most profoundly by Republicans in office. But, by Democrats as well, who at least are attempting to legislate that those profiting mightily now and in the short term also will be taxed commensurately to meet the needs of this nation’s future families and working folk who will not be able to afford to move to the French Riviera or Dubai when the American economic/social/political system fails, which it is on track to do.

    It is just too easy and intellectually lazy to argue that our young country hasn’t failed before, therefore, regardless of how it is abused and misused, it won’t in the future either. Just too easy and lazy an argument. A wealthy person’s argument, or that of a person who anticipates being wealthy before the piper has to be paid.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at April 26, 2008 6:10 PM
    Comment #251514

    “Ordinary people don’t want to appear out of touch with the intellectuals, so they also feign pessimism.”

    well unless them intellectuals are liberal then us ordinary people just want to call them elitist.

    “Our self appointed elites just cannot forgive ordinary Americans for being happy and they cannot understand why they do not vote and behave the way elite sociologist say they should.”

    Then why do us ordinary Americans want to be like them and feign these value judgements of theirs?

    “Both optimism and pessimism can be excessive. Most of life’s situations contain elements of good and bad. It is not smarter to be a pessimist. Optimists tend to do better in life and a realist looks for options, even in the worst situation.”

    So lets sum up, intellectuals (liberals) are pessimist therefore intellectuals are not smart. Ordinary People want to feign the judgements of intellectuals that are not smart.

    Yet us ordinary people will pick pessimism to be like the intellectuls we call elitist and dont like. Jeez Jack do you and the rest of the repubs really think us ordinary people are that way? We choose to be pessimistic because the elitist do?

    It seems to me the real issue here is your spinning of the problem. Your view is ordinary people aren’t smart enough to determine how things are going economically and politically in this Country so we look to the intellectuals, which we all know is reaganspeak for liberals with an education, and determine they are pessimistic(whether they are or not)so we in turn become pessimistic. Because all intellectuals are pessimistic right Jack or are all intellectuals liberal? Which would imply that repubs cannot be intellectual just ordinary and therfore those that look to the intellectuals for something to feign about?

    Well Jack thats bullhonkey my friend. Us ordinary people can actually think for ourselves. In addition we can determine how things are going for us economically and politically. We can then determine whether we are optimistic pessimistic or realistic depending upon what we see in the near future, based upon the current trends as well as other observations we have the capability to make.

    What we do know is, come election time, the number 1 issue is the state of the economy and that it doesnt bode well for those in office when the economy is down at election time. We have heard “its all about the economy” for years now Jack, the intellectuals have been telling us this for quite a few election cycles now. The intellectuals have found this to be true because they have watched us ordinary folks elect the opposition party when the economy was bad and re-elect the sitting president when the economy was good often enough to make it an unwritten rule of politics. You seem to think its the cart (intellectuals) pushing the horse (us ordinary folks) when in fact it is the horse pulling the cart.

    So Jack, this whole pessimism thing appears to be nothing more that another incorrect repub label that can be used to make the liberals and dems seem to be wrong about the actual state of the Country economically and politically even when they are not. Its another name calling label to cover up the situation we are in and to fool us ordinary folks into accepting the way things are so the repubs can fool those that vote into electing McCain despite the repub track record of the past 30 years.

    Posted by: j2t2 at April 26, 2008 7:14 PM
    Comment #251516

    d.a.n., a dollar is worth a dime. Houses built for 30K now cost 300K. Will the next generation have to pay 3 million for the same house, or can this be stopped or deflated?

    Posted by: ohrealy at April 26, 2008 8:27 PM
    Comment #251523

    “The reason for food inflation at the core is that more people can now afford these items and are competing with us for them, thus bidding them up. That means that somewhere on the other side of these financial equations, someone is prospering. That must be a bad thing as well. People coming out of poverty and all.”

    Craig the reason for food inflation is not due to more people prospering and therefore is a good thing.

    There are several reasons food costs are rising so dramatically.
    1. Corporate farming has replaced local family farms worldwide and because these local small farms ae not producing any longer the land is being used for other purposes.
    2. WTO and global trade agreements have forced out small farms and has caused the wealthier nations to import food that once went to poorer countries.
    3. Bio fuels has driven the price of certain crops up as additional crops have not been planted to keep up with demand.
    4. Nature. Droughts in Australia and other areas have lowerd crop output.
    5. Corporate monopolies. The supply has not keep up with demand. Intentional or not who knows.
    6. The current housing/loan crisis in this country. The stock market and real estate market is not doing that well. Some Investors have become…
    7.Commodity speculators. They artificially drive the price of oil up as well as the futures prices on the crops.
    8. Population growth.
    9. More demand from China and India, so yes I guess you can say they are prospering, although Mexican citizens are leaving their country in droves because they cannot afford to pay for corn on their wages. Guess where they go and guess what they become.
    10. Oil has increased dramatically due in part to speculation and demand as well as the debacle in Iraq and the mideast in general.
    11. Demand for meat causes the grains to be used for cattle instead of food.

    But because of the riots in the streets over food in several countries the fact that people are prospering doesnt gives me the same warm and fuzzy feeling of optimisism you seem to get when the rich prosper at the expense of people lives.

    Posted by: j2t2 at April 26, 2008 10:47 PM
    Comment #251524

    j@t2:

    Actually, there are more people worldwide coming out of poverty faster than at any time in history.

    Excuse me, but one of the reasons fuel prices are going up is because of a surge in global demand because of properity.


    World economic growth has seldom been so strong. World economic growth is stonger now than the US in the 1990’s.

    But that doesn’t even address my major point. My major point is that pessimism is rampant and way out of proportion here on this website.

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 26, 2008 11:18 PM
    Comment #251525

    Stephen:

    Conservatives are not selling true optimism but complacency and denial. The real optimism, the optimism that matters, is the belief that we can get beyond these problems and end the screwups, that we can head off further warming, break our oil addiction, reenergize our internet markets, get a fair deal on trade, and deal with other problems successful. That will be progress. Anything else is just apology for the status quo.

    Actually, around here conservative optimism is about the only optimism there is!!!

    Look at the reaction here to saying a few things are positive.

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 26, 2008 11:23 PM
    Comment #251526

    Dan:

    Can you please resend without the information dump?

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 26, 2008 11:32 PM
    Comment #251528

    “My major point is that pessimism is rampant and way out of proportion here on this website.”

    Well state your case Craig, I see a lot of realist have posted and a few posts trying to make a case that realism is pessimism. :)

    Perhaps Craig its not that pessimism is out of proporation its logic that is missing, so when that happens well… I offer the following.

    “When logic and proportion
    Have fallen sloppy dead
    And the White Knight is talking backwards
    And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!”
    Remember what the dormouse said;”
    from Jefferson Airplane’s white rabbit.

    Posted by: j2t2 at April 27, 2008 12:18 AM
    Comment #251529

    Craig, some things are are positive. The wealthy are vastly wealthier by and large. A very big positive for those who are wealthy. Not so for those who are pinched by inflation in the true cost of living. But the crises our nation face, for which it has shown itself unprepared for many years and remains unprepared to deal with them, overshadows the consciousness of those concerned not with just this moment, but their children’s and the nation’s tomorrows.

    Perspective is everything. If I were Bill Gates or Warren Buffet I would have no anxieties over my or my family’s future in America either. If I am a 12 year old Black male trying to realistically and statistically decide between becoming a gang banger or CEO, my perspective would be considerably different.

    With 81% of the American people convinced our nation is on the wrong track, it is demonstrable why the view of the Buffet’s and Gates’ are not the pervasive one. America is vastly more than the sum of its wealthiest, believe it or not. Some actually believe that as long as America has wealthy folks, she cannot be in trouble. But, the 1920’s demonstrate what a fallacy that is.

    And GW Bush, et. al, is proof of why it is a fallacy to believe so. These hypocritical bastards didn’t give a rat’s turd for fiscal responsibility when they had control over fiscal policy. Now they are obstructionist to no end in the name of “fiscal policy”, and even many of their obstructionist counter-proposals lack any real fiscal conservation, like the CAFE standards which are penny wise for the corporations and pound foolish for the rest of the nation.

    Can’t get an earmark for a bridge to nowhere? No problem. In the name of fiscal conservation we will allocate 10’s of millions of dollars for a shuttle ferry to the very same nowhere of 500 residents who have gotten by just fine without either. It is not the residents who will benefit from the ferry nearly so much as it will benefit the donors of the Alaskan GOP who just happen to be in the transportation business and would rather provide transportation paid for by federal taxpayers than from operational earnings and revenues.

    Same as the profit record setting Exxon Mobil insisting on federal subsidies for R&D into alternative fuels, and to offset their lobbying costs insuring Congress does not mandate new refineries to reduce the profit margins of gasoline by increasing supply.

    Regrettably, there are many, many Democrats now playing the same games with the same players. The people must insist and demand the change at the ballot box, because change will not be profitable nor forthcoming from the status quo politicians now in government. The evidence of that is overwhelming.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at April 27, 2008 12:32 AM
    Comment #251530

    j2t2

    I don’t think people want to be like the self styled intellectuals. They just feel strange going against conventional wisdom in public.

    We are noticing an interesting situation re Obama. His exit poll numbers are way higher than his actual polling results. One reason probably is that some people feel it is PC to vote Obama and so they lie to the pollsters.

    You may recall a similar thing happened to Reagan in reverse. He always polled lower than the results he achieved at the voting booth.

    What people report on opinion polls and what they believe are increasingly divergent.

    If you want to know what people really think, watch what they do.

    David

    The trade deficit and the Federal deficit are not the same. We consume more than we make. This is bad in the long run. We should just say no. A big part of this is energy and I am happy to report that recent rises in prices is significantly affected consumer behavior.

    As for Muirego’s pushing paper thing, it depends on what you are pushing and how. I am a blue collar kids and I always had (still have) trouble understanding that value can be added w/o producing anything tangible. Yet I observe that people allocating financial resources and making management decision create much of the wealth we enjoy. It allows us to work smarter, not harder. The average guy in a poor country might work a lot harder than an American worker, but he produces a lot less because he is not working in the context of American management and captial. OUr workers are the most productive in the world. As much as I admire the U.S. work ethic, I don’t think we are working that much harder.


    As you know, my hobby is forestry. I just finished a very interesting exercise. I arranged for some good management practices and biosolids that will increase my forest productivity by around 5%. I didn’t do any “work”. Semi-skilled workers will do the physical part, but their instructions are what count. That has created most of the new wealth. They could work just as hard - harder - and produce nothing but noise and dust. A couple of good decisions are worth - literally - about 5 years of physical labor.

    My father never understood this concept. I didn’t used to. But it is amazing the extent that asset allocation and mangement can leverage resources. The tree farmers of a generation ago worked a lot harder than I do and produced a lot less. This is another reason why things are getting better. Brains are worth more than muscle.

    Posted by: Jack at April 27, 2008 12:40 AM
    Comment #251531

    j2t2, there is a word for what you call Jack’s comments. That word is sophistry. You see, Republicans back in the Reagan days decided that the only way they were going to move ahead in politics was if they too became intellectuals and lawyers and learned the craft of sophistry. Newt Gingrich was the first of the masters of this new GOP art in the Congress. Nixon was the first GOP President to exercise the art, though obviously, not flawlessly by any means. It took Newt to reinvent NewSpeak which worked for the GOP.

    The GOP now are masters at sophistry, but, because their constituents actually believe their sophistry, the GOP relied upon it instead of demonstrations of actual good governance for the nation. And, well, we have been witness to what a disaster that has been.

    The fact is the GOP is run by intellectual elitists as is the Dem. Party. And just as the GOP crafted the morals and culture indictments against the Democrats in the 1990’s to win, the Dem’s are now crafting the economics and foreign policy indictments against the GOP in order to win.

    So, far, that is all that has happened. Since, the early 1990’s, the national debt has not been substantially reduced, but increased - our dependence on foreign energy has grown, not decreased, - the quality of education has worsened, not improved, - the divisiveness in our society has remained the same if not worsened, - our foreign policy has made us less safe, not more - and our illegal immigration problem has resurfaced with a vengeance since the 1980’s act was passed to end the problem.

    This handiwork is that of the voters and a very great many Democrats and Republicans both at the heads of their parties and in seats of government. The Politicians CAN get away with only as much as the voting public will ALLOW them to get away with. And they have gotten away with dereliction of duty and criminal negligence for decades.

    It is the voters who must demand better leadership, and the leadership who must demand better voters, if America’s crises are to met with successful preparations and implementations of sound strategies and priorities to solve them with the outcome of the greatest good for the greatest number of Americans now and in the future.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at April 27, 2008 12:53 AM
    Comment #251532

    Jack said: “The trade deficit and the Federal deficit are not the same.”

    WOW. An intelligent comment of fact. Nonetheless, both have grown to grotesque proportions. 3/4 of a trillion dollars a year trade deficit and working on doubling the national debt in 8 years. Quite a GOP legacy there, Jack. Now tell me something I don’t know.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at April 27, 2008 12:58 AM
    Comment #251533

    Jack said: “I am a blue collar kids and I always had (still have) trouble understanding that value can be added w/o producing anything tangible. Yet I observe that people allocating financial resources and making management decision create much of the wealth we enjoy. It allows us to work smarter, not harder.”

    Nope. It allows us to export production jobs and create self service jobs, with the end effect of making us INCREDIBLY dependent upon faceless millions of foreign workers for our daily lives, health, and well being, not to mention economic security. Call me conservative, but, I always respected the concept of independence wherever practicable. Apparently from your comment, you believe that national dependence that creates paper wealth for a minority and massive transfer of wealth overseas is a good thing. Guess we will just have to disagree on that one, Jack.

    Please, Jack, spare me the anecdotal, I manage trees and therefore create wealth spiel. We are talking national policy and management consequences here, not your one person out of 310 million management of a few acres of trees.

    Small business is NOT saving our nation from 30 years of near constantly growing trade deficits and export of once high paying jobs. Nor are they doing much in the way of fighting ever lower real wages, which the government has been lying about for decades now. Americans are awakening to the lies - the lies about Iraq, and now the lies about the economy and wealth gap.

    Their parents earned a middle class living on nearly half as many wage labor hours as it now requires to sustain the same middle class level in the income spectrum. The grand strategy of supplying illegal immigrant workers to replace American workers for low pay jobs when higher paying Americans are laid off waving bye bye to their jobs being shipped overseas for ever wider profit margins and lower investment costs in America and America’s future, is becoming clear to Americans. And 81% say they don’t like it, Jack. No, they don’t like it at all.

    And all your personal anecdotes are not going to change that empirical statistic, Jack. No amount of sophistry or spin or defensive tactics is going to change the fact that under Republican governance, the American people arrived at the lowest Consumer Confidence Index level in decades. No amount of GOP philosophy about workers seeing their boats lifted in the troughs while the wealthy see their boats lifted on the crests of waves, is going to convince Americans they are better off today than they were in the 90’s or 80’s or that their children have brighter prospects than the parents at their children’s age.

    And it is Political, Jack. VERY, VERY POLITICAL, the control and decision making power over America’s wealth and how it is distributed and allocated. I sometimes think Republicans believe America has no wealth, only wealthy individuals. Their philosophy and governance certainly exemplify such a belief, since so much of America’s wealth has been lost to debt and deficits under Republican governance while the wealthy investor class and government inside traders have doubled and tripled and more their wealth.

    Almost appears like a GOP welfare system for the wealthy at blue collar worker’s expense in taxes, in lower real wages, and in diminished future quality of life opportunities. And Bill Gates and Republicans insist America invest in importing more workers for American jobs. Pretty damned incredulous audacity is how it appears to me. And there is an enormous POLITICAL price to be paid for it all. The 2006 elections were just a down payment.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at April 27, 2008 1:29 AM
    Comment #251540

    Jack,

    Yes, it’s true, I do make 3-4 times as much as I did in 1990, and I make 8-10 times more than I did in 1970.
    That said, my cost of doing business has skyrocketed as well.

    So should I have to work even harder now just to break even?
    Is the American dream to work even harder every year just to make the same relative wage?

    We do consume more than we make, but how many of those manufacturing jobs have gone overseas. No matter that those jobs were dirty or hard, people did those jobs and now their jobs are gone. People whose fathers, and their fathers before them did those same jobs.
    Wars have been fought because countries consumed more than they produced. Japan comes to mind.

    Jack, there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

    Is it pessimism or is it pragmatism, to look back and say I was truly happier when I didn’t have to work this hard just to break even?

    You’re right when you say that toys are cheaper now than they were 10, 20, years ago, but toys, like money, don’t make people happier. They are, after all, just toys.
    Especially when those toys are made by people in a foreign country making less than 10% of what Americans made to produce the same toys.

    Jack, he who dies with the most toys is still dead.

    Posted by: Rocky at April 27, 2008 10:55 AM
    Comment #251544
    ohrealy wrote (Comment #251516 Posted by: ohrealy at April 26, 2008 08:27 PM ): d.a.n., a dollar is worth a dime. Houses built for 30K now cost 300K. Will the next generation have to pay 3 million for the same house, or can this be stopped or deflated?
    Yes.

    At the current rate, since a 1950 U.S. Dollar is worth 10 cents.
    Thus, a 1950 U.S. Dollar is worth 10 times less today.
    And assuming the same rates (on average) of inflation for then next 58 years:

    • a 2008 U.S. Dollar in 58 more years will be worth 10 cents in year 2066,

    • a 1950 U.S. Dollar is currently worth 10 cents, therefore a 1950 U.S. Dollar in 58 more years will be worth one cent in year 2066.
    Thus, in 58 years, a house could cost 10 times more U.S. Dollars than today (i.e. a $300,000 house would cost $3,000,000).
    However, with the nation-wide debt of $53 Trillion, it’s likely to get much worse.

    After all, no one can tell us where the money will come from to pay the interest on $53 Trillion of principal debt, much less the money to reduce the principal, because that money does not yet exist.
    The federal government and the Federal Reserve will have to borrow and create a LOT of new money to stave off the collapse of the pyramid-scheme monetary system.
    So, get ready for much more inflation.
    Already, the U.S. Dollar has been falling drastically since year 1999 against all major international currencies: One-Simple-Idea.com/USD_Falling.htm

    Craig Holmes wrote (Comment #251526 Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 26, 2008 11:32 PM): d.a.n: Can you please resend without the information dump?
    Why?

    The information is not the problem.
    The problem are the rose-colored glasses that blur reality.
    It would be easier to read without them.

    At any rate, many economic conditions today have never been worse ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s (for most Americans): One-Simple-Idea.com/NeverWorse.htm

    That is the real issue.
    That is not mere dooms day, chicken little, sky-is-falling rhetoric.
    That is a plausible and logical conclusion based on many facts and numerous economic conditions.
    One could say there are always some things that are always worse than ever, and/or since year XXXX.
    However, that is not the issue either.
    The issue is the growing number (dozens) of serious issues growing in number and severity, with the real potential for causing an economic tsunami.
    The former U.S. Comptroller has been warning of it for many years.
    Many economists have been warning us.
    A nation swimming in $53 Trillion of total nation-wide debt is not a trivial matter.
    $53 Trillion of total nation-wide debt is not so easy to trivialize.
    Especially when you can’t tell us where the money will come from to pay the interest on $53 Trillion of principal debt, much less the money to reduce the principal.
    Especially when that money does not yet exist.

    Jack tries to tell us real median household incomes have risen 33%, but that is clearly false, since real median household income per CPI (adjusted for inflation) only rose a measely 4.9% in 37 years.
    Also, in 2004 dollars, real median incomes rose only $3K from $40K in year 1978 to $43K in year 2006. That’s only an 7.5% in those 28 years.
    Also, real median income have fallen since 1999.
    And that also does not account for more workers per household, increased worker productivity, more regressive taxation, and more taxes of all kinds (many being more regressive sales taxes), and rising property taxes to pay an estimated $70 Billion to $338 Billion in annual net losses for illegal aliens ( One-Simple-Idea.com/BorderSecurity.htm#Burdens ).
    You’ve tried to tell us home ownership has increased, but that is clearly a red herring too, since home ownership for lower-income and middle-income groups have actually fallen, and year 2007 and 2008 statistics are likely to drive home ownership percentages for low-income AND milddle-income lower yet, with record foreclosures (220,000 per month). Since year 2006, home ownership has fallen for low-income and middle-income people.
    Currently, home ownership is in a ( money.cnn.com/2008/01/29/news/economy/home_ownership_vacancies/index.htm?postversion=2008012913 ) record plungem, and the 4th quarter of 2007 saw the biggest one-year drop (1.1%) since tracking began in year 1965, as current mortgage problems and rising foreclosures take their toll (220,000 foreclosures per month as of JAN-2008).
    You’ve both tried to tell us we have more stuff (e.g. TVs, cars, and other toys), as if all those toys somehow explains away the other numerous deteriorating problems.

    Craig Holmes wrote FEB-2008:
    America as a whole has never been this rich, and it’s getting richer all the time. It’s a great time to be an American.
    … and …
    It’s a wonderful time to be an American because we have the resourses to do these things, and we can leverage these assets to produce more.

    Yet, as some keep trying to tell us how wonderful things are, the majority of Americans are not believing it, are they?

    The issue is simply, are we better off now than about 30 years ago.

    In some ways: YES.
    In some ways: NO.

    Overall, I think the scales are tipped more toward the “now worse” since so many things (dozens of major economic issues) are now worse than ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s, and this list substantiates that position.

    However, if that is false, then it should not be too hard to trump the list above (of 17+ major deteriorating economic problems) with a list of things that prove things are better today.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 27, 2008 1:13 PM
    Comment #251554
    Craig Holmes wrote: Actually, there are more people worldwide coming out of poverty faster than at any time in history.
    True (at least, up until 2001).

    And that’s a good thing.
    However, it’s a mixed bag (see below), and it doesn’t prove things in the U.S. got better in the last 30 years.

    The percentage of people worldwide living in extreme poverty on less than $1 U.S. Dollar a day dropped by almost half between 1981 and 2001 (from 40% to 21%).
    The number people living in poverty fell from 1.5 billion in 1981 to 1.1 billion in 2001.
    Also, 400 Million in China alone were raised out of poverty (from 64% to 17%).
    China’s GDP per capita increased 300%.
    GDP per capita in all developing countries rose in East Asia by 30% between 1981 and 2001.
    In east Asia, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty fell from 58% to 16%.

    Still, close to 50% of people in sub-Saharan Africa lives in poverty.
    Huge disparities remain, where the number of poor has increased significantly from 1981 to 2001.
    In 1980, 10% of poor people lived in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    By 2000, it rose to 33%.
    Future projections predict 50%.
    Between 1981 and 2001, the number of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa rose from 41% percent to 46% percent.
    The number of poor jumped from 164 million to 314 million in sub-Saharan Africa.
    The GDP per capita income fell 14%.
    Poverty in sub-Saharan Africa is increasing.
    HIV/AIDS has had a devastating impact on the continent, reducing the life expectancy from 50 years in 1990 to 46 years of life expectancy in 2002.
    70% of the poor in the world obtain their earnings from agriculture.
    Africa also has the largest number of refugees fleeing war torn regions, and genocide.

    As of 2001, growth in Latin America has remained constant for over 20 years.
    The percentage of poor has changed little since 1981, with about 10% living on $1 U.S. Dollar a day.
    25% live on $2 a day.

    In the Middle East and North Africa, extreme poverty fell by about 50% between 1981 and 2001.
    The Middle East has the 2nd largest number of refugees fleeing war torn regions.

    The number of poor people Eastern Europe and Central Asia has been rising, particularly during the 1990s.
    Very few people live below $1 U.S. Dollar per day, but the number of people living below $2 U.S. Dollar per day around in 2001 has risen to around 20%.

    In South Asia, the number of poor has decreased, although the numbers have not been as high due a rapid population growth.
    The number of people living on less than $1 U.S. Dollar per day dropped by just 34 million since 1990, to 428 million in 2001.

    Parts of the former Soviet Union went through a period (Yeltsin was president) when the decrees of the central governments were ineffective and ignored.
    Some of the successor republics are weak (while others are ferocious dictatorships).
    Organized crime as increased; often consisting of the same people as the former ruling group.

    So, the uneven progress raises questions about the sustainability of the progress.
    Especially with:

    • (01) increasing energy vulnerability;

    • (02) the world population growing by 211,000 per day;

    • (03) environmental issues; polution (land, air, water, and oceans), rising ocean levels, global warming, arable land disappearing at rate of 67,627 acres per day, ozone layer damage, climate change, water shortages, etc.;

    • (04) resource depletion, which will get much worse as the world population continues to grow by 211,000 per day;

    • (05) a trend since 1999 of widening wealth disparity world-wide; 2% of the wealthiest people own 50% of the worlds wealth;

    • (06) fiat (pyramid scheme) monetary systems world-wide, resulting in more debt and wealth disparity (by design); predatory banks and predatory lending practices;

    • (07) inceasing hunger, famine, and rising food costs, exacerbated by world population growing by 211,000 per day, and energy vulnerabilities;

    • (08) increasing levels of radioactive materials and exposure; Several parts of the world have accumulated high levels of radioactivity such that at some time in the future they may be regarded as uninhabitable, including: Pacific islands used for nuclear testing, south and western Australia, French Polynesia, Kazakhstan, Novaaya Zemlya, off the coast of Norway, parts of Utah, New Mexico, Massachusetts Bay, Washington state, Chernobyl region, parts of Urals in Kshytim and Chelyabinsk (20 times worse than Chernobyl), parts of the Ukraine, Belarus, eastern Europe, Snowdonia, the Scottish border region, parts of China at Lop Nor in the west, the Cumbrian coast, the Irish sea, areas in India, Greenland, Kosloduy in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Bohunice in Slovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia, and South Africa;

    • (09) war pollution; depleted uranium used in weapons in Iraq, Kuwait, Kossovo, Serbia; Agent Orange and defoliating agents used in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, and Israel;

    • (10) increased terrorism and hijacked religions, such as some Muslims (especially the Shi’ite branch in Iran and Lebanon), the Taliban in Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan along the border, some Sikhs and Hindus in India, some Jews in Israel and the United States, some Buddhists in Sri Lanka, and some Christians in the United States and other countries (NOTE: This is not a criticism of any hijacked religion).

    • (11) the danger of more nations experiencing governmental collapse has increased more than 30 years ago. As of JAN-2002, governments have collapsed in Somalia, Sierra Leone (improving in 2007), the Congo (Kinshasa), parts of Angola, parts of Sudan, other parts of Africa, and state structures are very weak in Liberia. In the Americas, Haiti is a country with very weak government.

    Craig Holmes wrote:
    Excuse me, but one of the reasons fuel prices are going up is because of a surge in global demand because of properity.

    True. But that still doesn’t mean our energy vulnerabilities are not real, or should be ignored. No amount of rosy spin is going to change the seriousness of those energy vulnerabilities.

    Craig Holmes wrote: World economic growth has seldom been so strong. World economic growth is stonger now than the US in the 1990’s.
    It was up until 2001. Since then, there has been stagnation in many parts of the world, and the growing wealth disparity gap is not only happening in the U.S.
    Craig Holmes wrote: But that doesn’t even address my major point. My major point is that pessimism is rampant and way out of proportion here on this website.
    Not true. Saying it and proving it are two different things.

    If pessimism is truly so rampant and out of control, it should then be very easy to produce a more convincing list of things that trump the growing list of serious issues in the U.S., that have never been worse ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s.

    And while progress can bring new problems, most of our problems are old problems, primarily due to these same old 10 abuses that have been taking their toll for over 30 years.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 27, 2008 4:44 PM
    Comment #251559

    David

    I really don’t see the trade deficit as a partisan issue. It has been growing under all sorts of U.S. governments and it is caused by Americans consuming more in foreign goods than they sell overseas. Presumably you want Americans to consume less and you probably will have your wish as the prices of imported items, most notably fuel, rise.

    Both the trade and budget deficit are much more complicated than you are giving them credit for being. The trade deficit is an accounting procedure. It does balance, BTW. The U.S. is a good place for foreigners to invest. We also export services which do not properly appear. That is the reason we have been able to run a deficit for so long. The mercantilist interpretation is not valid.
    Re statistics

    As I always tell d.a.n. the reason I put in the personal stories is that we evidently cannot agree on statistics. Everything I read tells me that the median income has risen by around 1/3 or more in the last generation. Median is adjusted for inflation, so we cannot say that things just cost more. Americans, even poor ones, have access to more goods and services than ever before. We live longer and are healthier All the statistics say that. This is confirmed by my observations. On the other side, all I hear is pessimism that things will get worse. I have been hearing this all my life and my question has been “when?” The big problem we all see coming is entitlements. I agree that is a problem, but it is the one nobody seems to want to address.

    It seems most people prefer to complain about what they cannot change than address the things they can.

    We have become much wealthier as a country. As we have done that, our expectations have risen. People want much more than they had a generation ago and they feel poorer when they don’t get them. There is not much a government can do. I courageous president would just tell people to get over it, but he couldn’t stay in power. Instead politicians of all sorts spread fear and pessimism.

    Re blue collar workers – that too is a moving target. There are fewer blue collar workers than they used to be and most of those remaining have more skills. All those unskilled jobs you and I used to do have been automated out of existence. Remember road paving? There used to be hundreds of guys working with shovels and small tools. Now a half dozen guys run a big machine down the highway. There are more guys directing traffic than working on the paving. This generations of “workers” are trained or even college educated.

    Rocky

    Many of the jobs have not gone overseas; they are just gone. I could give example after example, but you know as well as I do. In your work, for example, the work of a dozen draftsmen can be done in seconds on a cheap computer.

    We have an unemployment rate of 5% and we are importing labor. I really don’t see how we could “save” any more jobs. We don’t have enough people in America to do the ones we got.
    It might be a good idea for us all to consume a little less, however.

    d.a.n. & David

    My figures based on Labor Dept statistics tell me that median income has risen by around 1/3 ADJUSTED for inflation. Do you have a figure (and not a chart you make up yourself) that has a different figure.

    The Census figures tell me that the median income $48,201 in 2006. see here

    In 1965 it was $35,379. These figures are adjusted for inflation, so it doesn’t matter if things cost more now. The adjustment takes care of that. In 1967 people made a lot less. After you ADJUST for inflation, they make around 1/3 more today. Do you have different statistics?
    see here
    So I honestly cannot figure it out. I see evidence of wealth everyplace I go. When I walk through the ghetto, I see nice cars, kids with more expensive shoes than I would own and nobody looking very skinny. The malls are full of people buying big screen TVs. The adverts on daytime TV (not the richest segments) talk about vacations, cars and clothes. American is rich. I read statistics that confirm that impression. Yet I hear lots of pessimism and gloom. I can only conclude that some people just cannot be happy. Maybe their problems is less an shortage of goods but a surplus of desire to have more.

    Posted by: Jack at April 27, 2008 6:27 PM
    Comment #251560

    d.a.n.

    BTW - I confess to having a short attention span. Please do not cut and paste. Just give me one paragraph telling how the census figures which show a little more than 1/3 rise in median income since 1967 are wrong.

    I won’t even ask you to account for the fantastic increase in technology that makes it possible for event the poor among us to afford things that were luxuries for the very rich in 1967. But you can add that in if you want.

    Posted by: Jack at April 27, 2008 6:30 PM
    Comment #251564
    Jack wrote: d.a.n. BTW - I confess to having a short attention span. Please do not cut and paste. Just give me one paragraph telling how the census figures which show a little more than 1/3 rise in median income since 1967 are wrong.
    OK.

    You failed to compensate for inflation.

    The graph above is based on data from the Census Bureau, and is adjusted for inflation. The Real Median Household Income Per CPI only increased by 4.9% between year 1970 and year 2007, and Real Median Household Incomes (adjusted for inflation in 2004 dollars) increased only $3000 from $40K in year 1978 to $43K in year 2006.

    That is only an increase of only 7.5% in 28 years.

    Therefore, your statement that real median household incomes increased by 33% is false.
    The only way it could be close to 33% if you are using nominal median household incomes that have not been adjusted for inflation.
    Also, if you consider more workers per household, more regressive taxation, and more taxes of all kinds (many regressive sales taxes), real median disposable incomes are even smaller.

    Jack wrote: I won’t even ask you to account for the fantastic increase in technology that makes it possible for event the poor among us to afford things that were luxuries for the very rich in 1967. But you can add that in if you want.
    Again, I never denied there have been good things too.

    That is yet another obfuscation to cloud the issue.

    The issue is that when all good things and all bad things are weighed together, it is plausible and logical to see that most things for most Americans have become worse in the last 30 years, based on these dozens of important economic conditions that have never been worse ever, and/or since the 1930s or 1940s. And the reason is largely because of these 10 abuses.

    Now, if things are so wonderful and the economic conditions are not really that bad, it should be very easy to refute those dozens of things and produce a much larger and significant list of things that show things are better than they were 30 or more years ago.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 27, 2008 8:19 PM
    Comment #251566

    Also, using the Census Bureau data with incomes adjusted for inflation in 2006 U.S. Dollars, the increase in real median household income was 14.4% between 1980 and 2006, and it is unlikely that the other 18.6% (for a total of 33%) can be accounted for by the 10 years between 1970 and 1980 (especially with hign inflation in the late 1970s and early 1980s).

    2006 48,201
    2005 47,845
    2004 47,323
    2003 47,488
    2002 47,530
    2001 48,091
    2000 49,163
    1999 49,244
    1998 48,034
    1997 46,350
    1996 45,416
    1995 44,764
    1994 43,405
    1993 42,926
    1992 43,135
    1991 43,492
    1990 44,778
    1989 45,382
    1988 44,587
    1987 44,247
    1986 43,699
    1985 42,205
    1984 41,430
    1983 40,182
    1982 40,465
    1981 40,573
    1980 41,258

    Therefore, I don’t see where you get 33% , unless you are using nominal median household incomes that have not been adjusted for inflation.

    The fact is, real median household incomes have been stagnant for 30 years. Those claims are based in fact. The slight rise in income (adjusted for inflation) is very small, and when considering many other issues, such as more workers per household, more regressive taxation, more types of taxes, more property taxes (many taxes that are regressive sales taxes), real disposable incomes have fallen.

    A large number of major economic conditions are worse than ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s.

    How anyone can so easily dismlss and trivializes those dozens of significant economic conditions tells me they are out of touch, and in denial of the real potential for things to deteriorate in the coming decades.

    And things will continue to deteriorate until these 10 abuses are adequately addressed.

    But that isn’t likely to happen until enough voters stop wallowing in the petty partisan warfare, prioritize, and stop repeatedly rewarding irresponsible incumbent polticians with 93%-to-99% re-election rates.

    At any rate, voters will have the government that they elect, and deserve.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 27, 2008 8:38 PM
    Comment #251567

    Real Median Incomes from 1945 to 2006.

    NOTE the flatness of the graph.
    In fact, notice real median household income in 2006 is almost as low as real median household income in 2006?

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 27, 2008 8:43 PM
    Comment #251570

    Jack and Dan:

    The reason for the difference in your statistics is that the size of households is not constant. Households are quite a bit smaller now than they were 30 years ago. Even if household income stayed constant on a CPI basis there would be more income per person.

    That is why we have more junk in our homes. About the same money per household, fewer people, more junk.

    Dan, please no “cut and paste” dumps in response.

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 27, 2008 9:50 PM
    Comment #251575

    We are definitely in an economic contraction. Two large store have closed near here and franchise and chains are closing some units. I saw a Blockbuster closed the other day. It’s being replaced by a Five Dollar store, so I guess a dollar store doesn’t even sell what it used to sell. Bush is rushing out the second refund or rebate checks, and stores here are advertising for that money, offering additional value if you bring the checks right to them.

    On pessimism, I had a good laugh at a video of Jesse Johnson, Mountain party, Green party candidate from WV. The man in black, gloom and doom, let’s all go jump off a cliff:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMxgYnmdHfg

    Posted by: ohrealy at April 27, 2008 10:45 PM
    Comment #251576

    d.a.n.
    Your article states that they began using median household income in 1967. Fine. That clears up why that graph started when it did. I thought it was just that it was an even number. We have data from 1967 to 2006. That is still a long time and in that long time the median household income adjusted for CPI rose by about 1/3.

    The graph in the census document I referenced IS ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION. It says so on the top. Why do you need to make your own chart when the census guys do such a good job? It is figure 1 on page 4. http://www.census.gov/prod/2006pubs/p60-231.pdf

    A look at the chart explains a few things. Income is unstable. It goes up over time but has its ups and downs. It declined, for example in 1978 and did not achieve its previous levels again until 1985. It declined again in 1989 and didn’t catch up again until about 1996. It hit a new high in 1999 and then declined and we probably caught up in 2007 (although we have to wait for the data) There is kind of pattern here. Incomes rise for a couple of years, and then fall back. But they do not fall back all the way to what they were at the start of the boom. After around 7-8 years they catch up to the previous high. It ratchets up.
    Your chart starts in 1980, which was the second year of the downturn. A lot depends on the base year. 14.4% is still pretty good, but if you choose a year at the bottom of the cycle, say 1983, you would have produced nearly 20% gain in 25 years. Of course you could go the other direction. It is invalid to pick out the lowest or highest years for comparison. You need to look at the trends. The bottom line is that thing have improved remarkably. We are on the tail end of the downturn that started in 1999 and we still are not bad off. In the five years from the bottom of the cycle in 2002 until 2006 we had a 1.5% increase. That is not much, but it is certainly not going down AND it is adjusted for inflation, BTW. I cannot find 2007 figures yet, but I know that income rose that year, so it is even better. Median income is up almost 4% from 1997-2006.

    As for household size, Craig has handled it. We have smaller household sizes, with fewer dependent children now than we did in 1967, which means each person has more disposable income.

    Life is getting better, just not as fast as people’s desires are growing.

    I would not call a rise of 33% or even 14% stagnation, BTW. And that is talking about totals, not individuals. Most individuals make more when they are 45 than they did when they are 25. You are not accouting for the dynamism. It is like a teacher of the 5th grade complaining that his students never seem to get much older.

    Posted by: Jack at April 27, 2008 10:49 PM
    Comment #251580

    SO the stats were changed to include both husband and wife working outside the home. Their income has went up between 14 and 33 % between 1967 and 2006. But that is with both Mom and Dad working a fulltime job.So the additional expenses of daycare, extra car,insurance, clothes etc sorta tells me things are about the same. 2 wage earner families are paddling a lot harder but are staying in the same place as the stay at home Mom families of the 60’s. But they have a bigger TV set, a computer and air conditioning to keep the babysitter cool while the parents are working. Does that sound about right not taking into account the incorrect govt inflation figures?

    Posted by: j2t2 at April 27, 2008 11:04 PM
    Comment #251582

    j2t2


    women’s participation went up. Men’s went down a little. Household size shrunk by around 21% and there are fewer kids. So a roughly 33% rise in income and a 21% decline in numbers is a significant increase in per capita wealth. You are also not accounting for the fact that women presumably also worked in the home. As the numbers of kids declined and labor saving devices became more common, there was less of that sort of work.

    Beyond that, some people like to work. If I didn’t have to work, I would still work, maybe not quite as much, but if I had the choice of not working at all or working as I do full time, I would choose the work I do.
    If it is just stuff you love, I personally think that the added stuff is not worth the added effort, but that is a decision people need to make for themselves.

    Some people like to have stuff. I think it is silly. You may too, but it is their business.

    BTW - it went up by around 33% since 1967 and by around 15% since 1980. The two are separate figures.

    Posted by: Jack at April 27, 2008 11:34 PM
    Comment #251584

    “In 1965 it was $35,379. These figures are adjusted for inflation, so it doesn’t matter if things cost more now. The adjustment takes care of that. In 1967 people made a lot less. After you ADJUST for inflation, they make around 1/3 more today. Do you have different statistics”

    Jack


    I have different statistics, so how about this. The methodology presently utilized to adjust median wage by inflation presently use, only extends back to the late 70’s. So your 1965 figure does not accurately reflect its’ relationship to our present median wage.

    Second, and most importantly, the CPI used to measure the median wage, does not take consideration the costs or the increase costs of food or energy. Which is by far the largest recurring expenditures we all have.

    Thirdly you continue to compare our standard of living to previous generations, and then the blanket statement we are better off. The point is, yes technology has improved, but you are confusing the arguments of today’s redistribution of wealth to yesterday’s standard of living.

    Posted by: Cube at April 27, 2008 11:50 PM
    Comment #251586

    What different statistics do you have? As far as I am aware, government agencies like the labor dept and census bureau have to most complete sets and most others key off them.

    The prices of food and energy fluctuate. Energy (gasoline at least) is at a high. But food is not, even with its recent run ups. All adjusted for inflation of course.

    I understand the limitations of statistics, which is why I try to apply qualitative measures, i.e. what people actually had back then versus today etc. I don’t remember very far back into the 1960s, but I do remember the 1970s very well and the quality of goods and services available were not as good. Other indicators such as life expectancy and general health have also improved. It is instructive that the biggest health risks for the poor are related to obesity and overconsumption of sugar. Historically, the poor did not have trouble keeping the pounds off.

    BTW - if you don’t like CPI adjustments beyond the late 1970s, use the ones that go back to 1980. They still show a 15+/-% improvment. That is not stagnant and is a significant improvement.

    Anyway, using my own observation plus statistics available, it is clear that life has improved for most people since 1967 (when the statistics start and about as far back as I can remember). There really are no other measures. The statistics indicate improvement. My subjective judgment indicates improvement. Others can come to different subjective judgments, but they are no better or worse and they are not backed by statistics. At least people have more resources to pursue happiness. That people have not become happier is an interesting question, but probably not a political one. Money cannot buy happiness.

    Posted by: Jack at April 28, 2008 12:31 AM
    Comment #251593

    “BTW - if you don’t like CPI adjustments beyond the late 1970s, use the ones that go back to 1980. They still show a 15+/-% improvment. That is not stagnant and is a significant improvement.”

    So what is the improvement if you factor in the increased costs of food and energy? Like I said before, the CPI does not factor that in to the values you quoted earlier.

    Posted by: Cube at April 28, 2008 11:00 AM
    Comment #251594


    1958 is the year that the plan to turn America into a hedonistic, materialistic, debtor nation was initiated. The plan developed slowly because the greatest generation, having endured the Great Depression and WW2, was very distrustful of the banks and leery of going into debt.

    The hedonistic movement began to start rolling in the late 60,s early 70,s after my generation, the baby boomers, having been raised on a diet of television advertising (see the USA in your chevrolet) began entering the workforce. After the copias introduction of credit cards, hedonistic materialism was in full blossum and it continues today although it is begining to become a little frazzled.

    It is true, compared to 1958, we are far better off materialisticly and we have the debt to prove it.

    IMO, the pessimism we see in America today stems from the debt that many are saddled with, the realization that eventually all good things must have an ending and the shallowness of our rat race lives.

    The baby boomers are going to make out the best in our hedonistic society because we are going to get to pass a lot of our debt on to other generations. Good luck to you later generations in MexiCanAmerica.

    Posted by: jlw at April 28, 2008 11:14 AM
    Comment #251595

    “$232431.96 in the year 2007 has the same “purchase power” as $35379 in the year 1965.”


    Calculator

    Posted by: Cube at April 28, 2008 11:23 AM
    Comment #251598

    I previously stated that the CPI values do not factor in the costs of food and energy, or the inflationary effects of their costs.

    Actually I should have said the CPI-U-RS do not do this. Which are the values that Jack has been utilizing. I should have made this clarification earlier.

    Posted by: Cube at April 28, 2008 11:58 AM
    Comment #251602

    jlw:

    1958 is the year that the plan to turn America into a hedonistic, materialistic, debtor nation was initiated. The plan developed slowly because the greatest generation, having endured the Great Depression and WW2, was very distrustful of the banks and leery of going into debt.

    Actually they were in debt to their eyeballs. The federal debt to gdp ratio was pretty high.

    In additon, just as we have our entitlement crisis they had a crisis of babies!! They had schools to build and healthcare to provide for.

    Also they had a cold war to pay for. Military spending was many times what ours is as a percentage of GDP because of Soviet expansionsim.

    1958 was a frighting time to be an American. The Soviets were winning the space race, and M.A.D. distruction was on many peoples mind. There was great fear of communism. There was great fear of WWIII. The memories of how WWII ended, made the next war look unthinkable.

    There was high federal debt, to pay off WWII, there were high social obligations to pay for (education etc verses SS now), and there was a cold war to fight.

    Those were the good old days when everything was right with the world. Things are so much more depressing today. We have it far worse off than 60 years ago.

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 28, 2008 1:05 PM
    Comment #251603

    J2t2:

    SO the stats were changed to include both husband and wife working outside the home. Their income has went up between 14 and 33 % between 1967 and 2006. But that is with both Mom and Dad working a fulltime job.So the additional expenses of daycare, extra car,insurance, clothes etc sorta tells me things are about the same. 2 wage earner families are paddling a lot harder but are staying in the same place as the stay at home Mom families of the 60’s. But they have a bigger TV set, a computer and air conditioning to keep the babysitter cool while the parents are working. Does that sound about right not taking into account the incorrect govt inflation figures?

    I like how you are thinking here. One of the biggest “changes” is simply more choices. For instance with working mothers. It wasn’t that long ago that it really took a full days labor to run the home with more kids and lack of conveniences. There were more people and smaller homes per household.

    People can still live the way we did way back when. It simply means getting rid of stuff, eating at home every night etc.

    One car, one telephone, one tv, no computer, vcr, electronic games. Many can argue that life is better that way. The key difference is that it is a choice. There are enough jobs for two workers!! (Positive thing?)

    in 1967, if all of the mothers went to work, what would they do? There wasn’t enough jobs. Plus many of the jobs were more suited to a man. (Upper body strength required!!) Now it’s flipped. Looking at the future, I give woman an edge. (Better educated).

    the reason life is better now is choices. However, for people who make poor choices, life will always be “worse”.

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 28, 2008 1:39 PM
    Comment #251604

    Jack, Craig,

    Good try. But no cigar. Not even close.

    Your primary argument (regarding income) still comes up short, because there are more workers per household:

    • In year 1950, 11% of married women with children under age 6 worked.

    • In year 2005, 61% of married women with children under age 6 worked.
    Also, median incomes for males have declined 9.4% between 1977 and 2005 (the last 28 years).
    While family sizes decreased by 18% between 1970 and 2002, the number of workers per household increased by a larger percentage.
    Savings rates prior to 1970 were higher.
    Debt prior to 1970 was less.
    Taxation prior to 1970 was less regressive.
    And when 2007 and 2008 data is available, these statistics are not likely to look better.
    Nationwide debt is $53 Trillion (3.81 times the $13.86 Trillion GDP).

    Craig Holmes wrote: Jack and d.a.n: The reason for the difference in your statistics is that the size of households is not constant. Households are quite a bit smaller now than they were 30 years ago. Even if household income stayed constant on a CPI basis there would be more income per person.
    Average family sizes fell only from about 3.14 in 1970 to 2.58 in year 2002 (an 18% decrease). Compare that to the much larger increase in number of workers per household (from 11% in 1950 to 61% in 2005 for married women with children under age 6 worked.

    Thus, with decreasing persons per household and a much more significant increase in number of workers per household, there is less income per worker.
    And if you include more workers per household, more regressive taxation, and more regressive sales taxes of all kinds, more national debt, there is less disposable income per worker.

    The entire method of reporting incomes by family (with decreasing family sizes, but more workers per household) is part of the fraud to hide the fact that real incomes and disposable incomes (per person) are falling for most Americans for the past 30 years.

    What is obvious from the data and charts is that incomes per worker have not increased in 30 years, when all factors are considered.

    Craig Holmes wrote: That is why we have more junk in our homes. About the same money per household, fewer people, more junk.
    Yes. “junk” So is that “junk” making things better?

    No, not the same money.
    There is actually less disposable income per person, since there are more workers per household, despite a fewer people per household.

    Jack wrote: d.a.n. Your article states that they began using median household income in 1967. Fine. That clears up why that graph started when it did. I thought it was just that it was an even number. We have data from 1967 to 2006. That is still a long time and in that long time the median household income adjusted for CPI rose by about 1/3.
    True. Since year 1967, the increase (adjusted for inflation) is more than 33% when using 1967. $48,201 (year 2006)/ $34,273 (year 1967)= 40.6% increase (adjusted for inflation) in 39 years.
    Jack wrote: The median American income is about 1/3 higher than it was in 1970.
    Close. While it is not quite 1/3 = 33%, it’s close (i.e. 30.8%). $48,201 (year 2006)/ $36,838 (year 1970)= 30.8% increase (adjusted for inflation) in 36 years.

    However, the problem still is that with smaller families and more workers per household, incomes (per family and per person) have actually decreased in the last 30 years.
    More accurately, disposable income has decreased, when also factoring in smaller families, more workers per family, more regressive income taxes, more kinds of regressive sales taxes, and more national debt.

    In the last 30 years, $48,201 (year 2006)/ $37,169 (year 1976)= 29.7% increase (adjusted for inflation).
    For the last 28 years, $48,201 (year 2006) / $39,733 (year 1978) = 21.3% increase (adjusted for inflation).
    For the last 28 years, $48,201 (year 2006) / $39,733 (year 1989) = 21.3% increase (adjusted for inflation).
    Unfortunately, since 1999, there has been a decrease ($48,201 (year 2006)/ $49,244 (year 1999) = 9.8%), and that percentage is likely to be larger when 2007 and 2008 data is available.

    MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME:
    YEAR_Nominal_2006U$D_CPI(Index=100 for year 1983)
    1967_$06,050_$34,273_033.4
    1968_$06,570_$35,720_034.8
    1969_$07,194_$37,085_036.7
    1970_$07,554_$36,838_038.8
    1971_$07,804_$36,458_040.5
    1972_$08,393_$37,991_041.8
    1973_$08,915_$38,757_044.4
    1974_$09,788_$37,562_049.3
    1975_$10,395_$36,557_053.8
    1976_$11,178_$37,169_056.9
    1977_$11,973_$37,379_060.6
    1978_$13,708_$39,778_065.2
    1979_$15,247_$39,733_072.6
    1980_$16,766_$38,497_082.4
    1981_$18,210_$37,902_090.9
    1982_$19,302_$37,843_096.5
    1983_$19,931_$37,860_099.6
    1984_$22,415_$41,430_103.9
    1985_$23,618_$42,205_107.6
    1986_$24,897_$43,699_109.6
    1987_$25,986_$44,120_113.6
    1988_$27,225_$44,587_118.3
    1989_$28,906_$45,382_124.0
    1990_$29,943_$44,778_130.7
    1991_$30,126_$43,492_136.2
    1992_$30,636_$43,135_140.3
    1993_$31,241_$42,926_144.5
    1994_$32,264_$43,405_148.2
    1995_$34,076_$44,764_152.4
    1996_$35,492_$45,416_156.9
    1997_$37,005_$46,350_160.5
    1998_$38,885_$48,034_163.0
    1999_$40,696_$49,244_166.6
    2000_$41,990_$49,163_172.2
    2001_$42,228_$48,091_177.1
    2002_$42,409_$47,530_179.9
    2003_$43,318_$47,488_184.0
    2004_$44,334_$47,323_188.9
    2005_$46,326_$47,845_195.3
    2006_$48,201_$48,201_201.6
    2007_????????_???????_207.3
    2008_????????_???????_???.?

    Jack wrote: A look at the chart explains a few things. Income is unstable.
    True. And it’s fallen quite a bit for the last 8 years.
    Jack wrote: As for household size, Craig has handled it. We have smaller household sizes, with fewer dependent children now than we did in 1967, which means each person has more disposable income.
    False. Not “more”.

    You are forgetting again about the increase in workers (married women with children under age 6) per household from 11% (in 1950) to 61% (in 2005):

    • In year 1950, 11% of married women with children under age 6 worked.

    • In year 2005, 61% of married women with children under age 6 worked.

    Jack wrote: Life is getting better, just not as fast as people’s desires are growing.
    False. Not “better”.

    There are far more things to consider, and your argument on income is still not cuttin’ it.
    Your argument of “more” real income is really a red-herring (since there are more workers per household and actually less disposable income), and you still have not explained away these other 17+ economic conditions that have never been worse ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s.

    Also, in case you haven’t noticed, there is $53 Trillion of nation-wide debt (3.81 times $13.86 Trillion GDP!
    Most Americans are tapped out, and deep in debt.
    The potential for this debt of nightmare proportions to have serious consequences in the coming decades is not far fetched.

    • Total Domestic Financial Sector Debt = $15.8 Trillion

    • Total Household Debt = $13.88 Trillion

    • Total Business Debt = $10.16 Trillion

    • Total Other Private Sector Foreign Debt = $1.8 Trillion

    • Total Federal Government National Debt = $9.4 Trillion

    • Total State and Local Government Debt = $2.2 Trillion

    • __________________________________________________

    • Total = $53.2 Trillion

    • Now add the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 million baby boomer bubble approaching, and the total is $66 Trillion! ($216,721 per person).

    Jack wrote: Why do you need to make your own chart when the census guys do such a good job?
    Because the graph I showed you was Income Per CPI. It’s different than the graph you showed. When you look at Income Per CPI (www.thefinancialhelpcenter.com/Economy/Median-Income.html) it reveals a stagnation of incomes since year 1967 (for the last 40+ years).
    • MEDIAN INCOME/CPI (1945 to 2007; source: CensusBureau.gov):
    • 245 |————————————————————————————————-
    • 240 |————————————————————————————xxxx—xx-
    • 235 |———————————————x——————————————-xx—x
    • 230 |——————————-x—x——x-x—-xx————xxx———xx————-
    • 225 |——————————-x-x-x-x—-x—x————xx————x—————-
    • 220 |——————————x-xx—x-x—-xx————x——-xxxxx——————
    • 215 |——————————x-x———————x—-x———————————-
    • 210 |—————————-x—————————xxx————————————
    • 205 |—————————x———————————————————————
    • 200 |————————-xx———————————————————————
    • 195 |————————-x———————————————————————-
    • 190 |———————-xx————————————————————————
    • 185 |———————x—————————————————————————
    • 180 |——————xxx—————————————————————————
    • 175 |—————-x——————————————————————————-
    • 170 |—————-x——————————————————————————-
    • 165 |—————x———————————————————————————
    • 160 |————xxx———————————————————————————
    • 155 |————x————————————————————————————
    • 150 |-x——-x————————————————————————————-
    • 145 |x-x—-x—————————————————————————————
    • 140 |x-x—xx—————————————————————————————
    • 135 |x-x—x—————————————————————————————-
    • 130 |x—xx——————————————————————————————
    • 125 |——————————————————————————————————YEAR
    • ——-1——————————-1——-1—————————1————————-2
    • ——-9——————————-9——-9—————————9————————-0
    • ——-4——————————-6——-7—————————8————————-0
    • ——-5——————————-7——-0—————————8————————-7
    Jack wrote: You are not accouting for the dynamism. It is like a teacher of the 5th grade complaining that his students never seem to get much older.
    Not true.

    You still have not produced adequate evidence to trump the 17+ economic conditions that have never been worse ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s: One-Simple-Idea.com/NeverWorse.htm

    And those 17+ economic conditions are likely to continue to gradually deteriorate, until these 10 abuses are stopped.

    At any rate, voters have the government that they elect, and deserve.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 28, 2008 3:38 PM
    Comment #251605

    Dan:

    Your primary argument (regarding income) still comes up short, because there are more workers per household:

    So you are turning women working into a negative?

    You be my guest. Take away the second car, computer, microwave, etc etc etc, and tell the women of america they should stay at home because it was better that way.

    It is also true that more people per household have college degrees and job skills. MORE NEGATIVE. OH MY we have more people with job skills for household. That is proof that we live in a horrible world.

    We also have more college degees per household. The sky is falling!!

    And we have more jobs available per household. Our economy creates more jobs per household than 30 years ago. How terrible!!!

    You can’t spin ever single positive into a negative just to keep an artificial point that life is miserable.

    We need to set up the koolaid stand, and just quit and give up. All these jobs America is creating and technology have doomed us.

    Please no cut and paste dumps in response. Thank you!!

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 28, 2008 3:53 PM
    Comment #251606

    d.a.n. likes to quote liberally from his favorite website, here’s some info from one of my favorites.

    A few excerpts from The Heritage Foundation.

    Liberal myth

    Few Americans have benefited from the economy since the Bush tax cuts. Only the wealthiest Americans have seen their lot improve in recent years while middle- and low-income families’ finances have stagnated.
    The facts

    A realistic look at the data reveals that most Americans have shared in the United States’ rising prosperity and that America remains the land of opportunity. The economic facts:

    * Vindicate the nation’s broad economic policies: relatively low taxation, a relatively small government, and relatively lightly regulated markets.
    * Should caution against liberal arguments for greater government involvement in all levels of the economy, from income redistribution to increased wage regulation.

    A strong economy

    The long-term trends show that the economy is in fact doing well.

    * Since January, businesses have created over 1.2 million new jobs.
    * Over the past four quarters GDP has increased by 3.5 percent, above the average historical rate of growth.
    * Inflation-adjusted worker compensation has risen at over a six percent annual rate in the first half of the year.

    Workers receive more benefits

    Though cash wages appear to have stagnated, overall compensation has risen sharply.

    * Total compensation has risen by 3 percent since 2003 and 9 percent since 2000 after adjusting for inflation, according to one common measure.
    * Among non-farm businesses, compensation has risen by 6.6 percent since 2003 and by 10.2 percent since 2000.
    * In 2005, workers’ share of national income hit a 25-year high.
    * Excluding all health insurance cost increases, employee compensation has risen 2.2 percent since 2003 and 7.0 percent since 2000. Even after excluding what employers spend on health care, worker compensation has increased.

    Strong growth in total compensation means that workers are better-off today than three years ago and much better-off than they were at the height of the tech bubble.
    A better standard of living

    Most Americans today enjoy larger and better-equipped homes, better health care, more education, and more household goods than ever before. Overall, most Americans enjoy a higher standard of living today than they did a generation ago or even a decade ago.

    * Medical advances, such as new lifesaving drugs, have improved the health and quality of life of all Americans, regardless of income level.
    * More households are headed by individuals with at least some college than ever before, and fewer are headed by individuals with a high school education or less than in 1991.
    * New homes today are larger, with more bedrooms, and are more likely to have central air conditioning than they were in 1979.
    * Luxuries like computers, cell phones and Internet access are now part of everyday life and are no longer for only the extremely wealthy.

    Middle- and low-income Americans share in the widespread prosperity and can now afford things out of reach for most Americans just a generation ago.
    Better off financially

    Far from being buried under mountains of debt, American households are worth more than ever.

    * After adjusting for inflation, the net worth (assets minus liabilities) of the median American family rose from $70,800 in 1995 to $93,100 in 2004.
    * 54 percent of Americans have no credit card debt.
    * The median balance for families that do have credit card debt is $2,200.

    Economic growth helps millions

    Economic growth has benefited more than a small minority of Americans. Instead, it has raised standards of living for tens of millions of Americans.

    * Between 1979 and 2004, the proportion of American households with inflation-adjusted incomes below $75,000 fell by 10.1 percentage points.
    * The proportion of those earning more than $75,000 rose by the same amount.
    * The largest drop was in the number of households earning less than $35,000.
    * The largest gain was in the number of households earning more than $100,000.

    Related Heritage research

    * James Sherk, “Shared Prosperity: Debunking Pessimistic Claims About Wages, Profits, and Wealth,” October 16, 2006
    * James Sherk, “Economy Remains Strong: Unemployment Is Low and Workers Are Sharing in Productivity Growth,” October 10, 2006
    * Daniel Mitchell and Michelle Muccio, “Tax Rate Reductions Strengthen the Economy, But Excessive Government Spending Threatens Long-Run Performance,” September 28, 2006
    * Tim Kane, “Minimizing Economic Opportunity by Raising the Minimum Wage,” March 4, 2005
    * Brian Riedl, “Ten Common Myths About Taxes, Spending, and Budget Deficits,” June 13, 2003

    Posted by: Jim M at April 28, 2008 3:56 PM
    Comment #251610

    Our economy is based on the consumption of junk. When people stop buying the junk, the economy starts folding like a house of cards.

    Posted by: ohrealy at April 28, 2008 5:16 PM
    Comment #251611
    Craig Holmes wrote: d.a.n:
    • d.a.n wrote: Your primary argument (regarding income) still comes up short, because there are more workers per household:
    So you are turning women working into a negative?
    Nonsense.

    You can’t support your argument, so you resort to nonsensical and false conclusions like that?

    Anyone that wants to work is a good thing, so the comment that: “So you are turning women working into a negative” is more nonsense to cloud the issue and obscure the facts.
    If you can show credible evidence that real income per person has increased in the last 30 years, then you will have a case.
    But the median household income angle is a fraud, since workers per household increased more than household size decreased, and since there are numerous other factors decreasing real disposable income (per person) for most Americans.

    Craig Holmes wrote: You be my guest. Take away the second car, computer, microwave, etc etc etc, and tell the women of america they should stay at home because it was better that way.
    Craig, Is that nonsense the best you can do?

    Why not attack the data and facts instead.
    If they are wrong, it should be easy to prove.
    Show us how disposable income has increased (per person) for most Americans in the last 30 years.
    The fact is, the last 8 years alone have seen a significant drop in incomes for most Americans; undoing much of the minor increases in prior 22 years.

    Craig Holmes wrote: It is also true that more people per household have college degrees and job skills. MORE NEGATIVE.
    More nonsense. I never asserted that college degrees was a negative thing.

    By the way, according to this report, the percentage of students graduating with 4 year degree within 5 years has fallen slightly between 1988 and 2002 (from 55.2% to 51.0%). Also, to say more people are graduating from college is not very meaningful, unless it is compared to the total population, because the U.S. Population is growing by over 5 million per year.

    Here is another report from year 2000 that states:

    • Published on Wednesday, May 17, 2000 in the Boston Globe; Going Backwards: US Falls Behind In College Graduate Rate

    Also, those college degrees apparently wasn’t enough to stop their real disposable incomes (per person) from decreasing was it?
    And today, 25% of our children are not graduating from high school.
    And education has been declining in quality while increasing in cost for a decade or more.
    And college is now becoming increasingly unaffordable, leaving many students with massive debt.
    And the numbers of students graduating with science and engineering could stand to be much better.
    And what percentage of those graduates are lawyers?
    So, things are not as rosy as some people would like to portray them.

    Craig Holmes wrote: OH MY we have more people with job skills for household. That is proof that we live in a horrible world. We also have more college degees per household. The sky is falling!!
    More nonsense. That is not helping the credibility of your argument.

    Again, is that the best you can do?
    Is your position so weak that it requires making up fictitious issues?
    Again, such extreme exaggerations are merely a lame tactic to cloud the issue and cover-up for a failing argument.

    Craig Holmes wrote: And we have more jobs available per household. Our economy creates more jobs per household than 30 years ago. How terrible!!!
    Good for you. You finally found an economic statistic that is not too alarming. Not yet anyway.

    Unemployment is only about 5% at the moment.
    Hopefully it won’t get worse, but 250,000 jobs have been lost since only Jan-2008, and unemployment rose slightly.

    Anyway, unemployment is one economic statistic that is not alarming at the moment, but with the economy slowing, massive $53 Trillion nation-wide debt, increasing global competition, and a the other 17+ economic conditions that have never been worse ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s, rising unemployment (which is already rising) is not far fetched.
    YEAR __ Civilian Unemployment
    1970 __ 4.9%
    1971 __ 5.9%
    1972 __ 5.6%
    1973 __ 4.9%
    1974 __ 5.6%
    1975 __ 8.5%
    1976 __ 7.7%
    1977 __ 7.1%
    1978 __ 6.1%
    1979 __ 5.8% __ 6.21% average
    1980 __ 7.1%
    1981 __ 7.6%
    1982 __ 9.7%
    1983 __ 9.6%
    1984 __ 7.5%
    1985 __ 7.2%
    1986 __ 7.0%
    1987 __ 6.2%
    1988 __ 5.5%
    1989 __ 5.3% __ 7.27% average
    1990 __ 5.6%
    1991 __ 6.8%
    1992 __ 7.5%
    1993 __ 6.9%
    1994 __ 6.1%
    1995 __ 5.6%
    1996 __ 5.4%
    1997 __ 4.9%
    1998 __ 4.5%
    1999 __ 4.2% __ 5.75% average
    2000 __ 4.0%
    2001 __ 4.7%
    2002 __ 5.8%
    2003 __ 6.0%
    2004 __ 5.5%
    2005 __ 5.1%
    2006 __ 4.6%
    2007 __ 4.6%
    2008 __ 5.0% ?

    Craig Holmes wrote: You can’t spin ever single positive into a negative just to keep an artificial point that life is miserable.
    Of course not, and I never tried to.

    You are the one using spin and ridiculous exaggerations to substitute for a wear argument.
    If you see any false facts, feel free to correct them.
    There are still 17+ economic conditions on the list.
    Feel free to attempt to disprove any of them.
    Then your anti-anything-not-rosy rhetoric might have some credibility.

    It is unfortunate if reality upsets you, but don’t blame the messenger.
    And if you disagree with the economic statistics, feel free anytime to show proof to refute those 17+ economic conditions, many of which have never been worse ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s.

    Craig Holmes wrote: We need to set up the koolaid stand, and just quit and give up. All these jobs America is creating and technology have doomed us.
    More nonsense.

    Just because problems exist is no reason to give up on solving them.
    However, ignoring them, or trying to rationalize and trivialize them won’t solve anything.

    Craig Holmes wrote: Please no cut and paste dumps in response. Thank you!!
    If you don’t like it, then stop reading and responding.
  • Posted by: d.a.n at April 28, 2008 5:25 PM
    Comment #251614
    ohrealy wrote: Our economy is based on the consumption of junk. When people stop buying the junk, the economy starts folding like a house of cards.
    That is largely true.

    And your prediction (i.e. When people stop buying the junk, “the economy starts folding like a house of cards”) is not far-fetched. The former U.S. Comptroller, David Walker has been warning about it for some time.

    Today, 70% of our economy is consumer driven.
    Trade imbalances are huge.
    Trade deficits have never been larger (see China).
    Jobs are leaving the nation; a trend that started in the early 1970s, and helps to explain why real median household incomes have actually been falling since year 1978.
    Global competition has never been stronger.
    Transnational corporations want cheap labor. At this rate, when Americans are poor enough and cheap enough, the transnational corporations may return? WageStagnation + CheapLabor = BigProfits
    While inflation was higher in the mid-to-late 1970s and early 1980s, we have had positive inflation since year 1956.
    A lot of money is being created out of thin air to keep this upside-down pyramid (or, as you call it: “house of cards”) from collapsing.
    While 3% to 5% inflation doesn’t sound bad, when it is every year, it becomes exponential (i.e. 3% this year is really more than 3% of last year, which is more than 3% the year before, etc., etc., etc.). Thus, a 1950 U.S. Dollar is now worth less than 10 cents, and the U.S. Dollar has fallen significantly against all major international currencies since year 1999.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 28, 2008 5:51 PM
    Comment #251616
    Jim M wrote: d.a.n. likes to quote liberally from his favorite website, here’s some info from one of my favorites. A few excerpts from The Heritage Foundation.
    That organization makes sense on several things. Many call it a neocon think tank, but I’m not sure that’s true.
    Jim M wrote: A realistic look at the data reveals that most Americans have shared in the United States’ rising prosperity and that America remains the land of opportunity. The economic facts:
    • * Vindicate the nation’s broad economic policies: relatively low taxation, a relatively small government, and relatively lightly regulated markets.
    • * Should caution against liberal arguments for greater government involvement in all levels of the economy, from income redistribution to increased wage regulation.
    Small government?

    That’s a joke. It’s never been more bloated than today.
    Is all of this bloat and waste necessary?

    Regarding our tax system, it is regressive, which is why Warren Buffet, the 2nd wealthiest person in the U.S., pays a lower percentage of income (e.g. 17.7% on $46 Million in year 2006), than his secretary (who paid 30% in federal taxes on and income of $60K).

    As for wealth distribution, the gap has been growing larger since year 1976, and the gap has never been larger since the 1930s.

    • 40% of WEALTH OWNED by 1% of U.S. Population:

    • 045% +—o—————————

    • 040% +o—o——————o-o—

    • 035% +——o—-o——-o———

    • 030% +———o—-o—o———-

    • 025% +——————————-

    • 020% +——————o————

    • 100% +(1920)_______(2008)YEAR

    Jim M wrote: The long-term trends show that the economy is in fact doing well. * Since January, businesses have created over 1.2 million new jobs.
    What year?

    Unemployment has risen since JAN-2008 (to 5.0%, which is not awful).

    Jim M wrote: Workers receive more benefits
    Really? What about health insurance?
    Jim M wrote: Though cash wages appear to have stagnated, overall compensation has risen sharply.
    Huh? That’s debatable, with rising health insurance costs.
    Jim M wrote: Strong growth in total compensation means that workers are better-off today than three years ago and much better-off than they were at the height of the tech bubble (i.e. 1998)
    3 years ago doens’t prove much.

    8 years ago, incomes were higher than today.
    That is a more significant statistic.

    Jim M wrote: Most Americans today enjoy larger and better-equipped homes, better health care, more education, and more household goods than ever before. Overall, most Americans enjoy a higher standard of living today than they did a generation ago or even a decade ago.
    Better healthcare?

    That’s debatable too when 195,000 Americans dying each year due to preventable medical mistakes, which (since 1999) is over 1.5 million people killed by preventable medical mistakes, which is more than all the U.S. troops killed in all American wars: the American Revolution (4,435), the War of 1812 (2,260), the Indian Wars (1,000), the Mexican War (1,733), the Civil War (462,000), the Spanish American War (385), WWI (53,402), WWII (291,557), Vietnam War (58,209), Korean War (36,574), the Iraq Gulf War (529), and the current Iraq war Mar-2003-present (4,050 as of 24-APR-2008), combined!? ?

    There have been advances and that is good, but medical mistakes is killing a lot of Americans every year.

    Jim M wrote: Middle- and low-income Americans share in the widespread prosperity and can now afford things out of reach for most Americans just a generation ago.
    TVs, cell phones, computers, etc.

    Unfortunately, there’s a down side too. Now many people are tethered to their jobs 24/7 due to cell phones.

    Jim M wrote: Far from being buried under mountains of debt, American households are worth more than ever.
    False.

    That is not true for lower-income and middle-income Americans. Home ownership rose for the wealthy only.

    Jim M wrote: 54 percent of Americans have no credit card debt. The median balance for families that do have credit card debt is $2,200.
    What year was that? It’s far worse now, with $53 Trillion of nation-wide debt ($66 Trillion if you include the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 Million baby-boomer bubble approaching.
    Jim M wrote: Economic growth has benefited more than a small minority of Americans. Instead, it has raised standards of living for tens of millions of Americans.
    Maybe, if junk is a measure of increased standard of living.
    Jim M wrote: * Between 1979 and 2004, the proportion of American households with inflation-adjusted incomes below $75,000 fell by 10.1 percentage points.
    Real median household incomes have fallen since 1999.

    And little (if any of that) diminishes the reality of these 17+ economic conditions that have never been worse ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s.

    Here’s just one question to ponder:

    • ? Where will the money come from to pay the interest on the current $53.2 Trillion in total nation-wide debt (3.81 times the $13.86 Trillion GDP), much less the money to pay the principal (LOAN = PRINCIPAL + INTEREST), when that money does not yet exist?

    At any rate, the voters will have the government that the voters elect, and deserve.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 28, 2008 6:25 PM
    Comment #251618

    d.a.n. said, Jim M wrote: 54 percent of Americans have no credit card debt. The median balance for families that do have credit card debt is $2,200.

    What year was that? It’s far worse now, with $53 Trillion of nation-wide debt ($66 Trillion if you include the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 Million baby-boomer bubble approaching.

    From MSM Money, and if I find the time, d.a.n. I will answer the remainder of your questions and accusations. d.a.n. is very good at ignoring facts that disagree with his conclusions by saying things like, “what about this, That’s debatable, 3 years doesn’t prove much” and “false” if one uses his criteria. I wish more folks would challenge d.a.n. on some of his points but I fear many are just overwhelmed by all the charts and mind-numbing sameness. Jim

    The truth about credit card debt

    Conventional wisdom is that were all hooked and struggling. The reality is, in fact, quite different and less frightening.

    By Liz Pulliam Weston

    Youve probably heard that the average American carries more than $8,000 in credit card debt.

    Its a figure frequently cited by politicians, journalists and pundits as a sure sign of impending economic collapse. They argue that consumers, already struggling under this massive burden of debt, soon will have to stop spending like drunken sailors. The economic recovery, therefore, is doomed!

    The surprising thing about this statistic isnt that its so widely known. Rather, its that the statistic paints a picture thats just plain wrong.

    * In reality, most Americans owe nothing to credit card companies.
    * Most households that carry balances owe $2,000 or less.
    * Only about 1 in 20 American households owes $8,000 or more on credit cards.

    These figures are from the Federal Reserves 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances, one of the most comprehensive assessments of what Americans own and owe. (The survey is updated every three years; a summary of 2004’s results will be published in early 2006.)

    Averages dont tell the tale
    Most of the people citing the $8,000 figure credit it to CardWeb.com, a service that tracks credit card trends.
    Find a loan that’s
    right for you at the
    Loan Center


    CardWeb, however, doesnt contend that the average American owes more than $8,000 on cards. Their statistics show that the average debt per American household with at least one credit card was $8,940 in 2002, the last year for which figures are available.

    To get that number, CardWeb simply divided the total outstanding credit card debt at the end of 2002 — $750.9 billion — by the 84 million American households that it says have at least one credit card. (CardWeb uses a slightly different definition of household than the Fed does. And the company contends that 80% of households, rather than the Feds 76.2%, have at least one credit card.)

    Now, by CardWebs measure and definition, the average debt in households with at least one credit card is growing.Average credit card debt

    If you know anything about statistics, however, you know that averages dont really tell the tale.

    Consider what would happen if you and 17 of your friends and family were in a room with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. The average net worth of a person in that room would be north of $4 billion. The fact that everybody elses personal net worth was just $100,000, or $1 million, or even $10 million, wouldnt affect the average that much because the big boys are sooooo much wealthier than you.

    Take heart: Were actually frugal
    In much the same way, a relatively small population with huge credit card balances can skew the average to make it look like the typical American is carrying a much bigger debt load than he or she actually is. Consider:

    * 23.8% of American households have no credit cards at all — no bank cards, no retail cards, nothing.
    * Another 31.2% of the households the Fed surveyed paid off their most recent credit card bills in full.
    * So together, the households that owed nothing on credit cards equaled 55% of the total.

    Heres some better news: Paying off balances actually became more common between 1998 and 2001. The proportion of households that had bank cards (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) who reported that they regularly paid off their balances in full rose 1.5 percentage points to 55.3%.

    We dont carry that much debt
    Of the households that did carry a balance, the median amount owed was $1,900. That means half of the households with a balance owed more, and half owed less. (Medians are less subject to the skewing phenomenon that plagues averages; thats why economists tend to favor them.)

    Bill Whitt at the VIP Forum, a Washington D.C. research firm, helped me dig even deeper. By analyzing the credit card debts of all the households the Fed surveyed, Whitt discovered:

    * Only 29% of households owe $1,000 or more on their cards.
    * 21% owe $2,000 or more.
    * 6% owe $8,000 or more.
    * 4% owe $10,500 or more.
    * 1% owe $21,400 or more.

    The Fed statistics pretty much gibe with what Fair Isaac, the creator of the FICO credit score, discovered when it reviewed millions of credit reports.

    There are a few differences between the universe the Fed examined and the one looked at by Fair Isaac. For one thing, credit reports are individual — theres no such thing as a household or even a joint credit report. Also, you have to have and use credit to have a credit report. Finally, credit reports dont typically distinguish between balances you pay off and those you carry each month.

    But again, Fair Isaacs statistics show a world in which most people are light to moderate users of credit:

    * About 48% of credit card holders owed less than $1,000
    * About 10% of card holders had total card balances in excess of $10,000.
    * More than half of all people with credit cards use less than 30% of their total credit card limit.
    * Just over 1 in 8 people use 80% or more of their credit card limit.


    Theres still plenty of trouble out there
    Does this mean all the hand-wringing over consumer debt is so much noise? Hardly. Although most Americans seem to be avoiding the credit card trap, there are still plenty of people on the financial edge:

    * More than a third — 36% — of those who owe more than $10,000 on their cards have household incomes under $50,000, according to the VIP Forum analysis.
    * 13% who owe that much have household incomes under $30,000.
    * The percentage of disposable income used to pay debts is still near record highs.
    * The median value of total outstanding debt owed by households rose 9.6% between 1998 and 2001.
    * Bankruptcies set another record in 2003, with 1.6 million personal filings, the American Bankruptcy Institute reports.

    All of that is more than enough evidence to suggest that a large number of people are overdosing on debt. The average American, though, seems to be doing just fine.

    Liz Pulliam Weston’s column appears every Monday and Thursday, exclusively on MSN Money. She also answers reader questions in the Your Money message board.

    Posted by: Jim M at April 28, 2008 7:40 PM
    Comment #251619

    Cube

    The 35k figure from 1967 is already adjusted for inflation. Think about this for more than a couple seconds. Do you really believe that the median worker had the purchasing power of $232,431.96. If you believe that, I can understand why you are dissatisfied and I have some things you might want to buy.

    It reminds me of the guy who bought a $1million dollar dog. His friend couldn’t believe that he paid that much. The guy admitted that he didn’t pay in money. Rather he got it in trade for two $500,000 cats.

    Food and energy have not risen by very much. The inflation adjusted cost of a gallon of gas from 1980 is only a little more today. Food is actually cheaper.

    d.a.n.

    I go with the statistics provided by the census bureau. They tell me things are generally better. I don’t care how you draw them.

    I also do have to go with the personal observations bolstered by statistics. I don’t about the 17 questions or the 98 thesis or the seven deadly sins. In America, even poor people are fat; they have cars and color TVs. If that is poor, so be it. I wish my family had been that poor when I was growing up.

    BTW – I am pretty sure smart people will figure out ways to benefit from whatever the economy throws our way. We always have.

    Some people can never be happy; others find it easier.

    We look at the same situation and see very differnent things. I know that it has been possible to thrive in the economy we have had over the last 30 years.

    Anybody who did simple things like buying a home, staying married, not drinking too much and making reasonable regular contributions to a stock fund is well off.

    I can say with absolute certainty because i have seen many people from humble backgrounds do exactly that. Evidently everybody did not do that. What can I say about that?

    Posted by: Jack at April 28, 2008 7:50 PM
    Comment #251620

    Dan:

    Ok Go ahead and pring a phone book if you want. I will just read the first paragraph and respond. Deal?

    I will be happy to support my argument. You don’t account for part time workers.

    Let me give you an example.

    Lets say you have a family who has a couple of babies and the woman takes a few years off of work to stay home with the children. Let’s say he makes $40,000/year. Then lets say the mother works part time for a few years to suppliment. Say she makes $5,000/year part time. Household income is now $45,000.00 per capita income is $22,500.

    With the way you are doing your numbers that is a negative because per capita goes down.

    The truth is that the second income earner in families or third income worker is all over the place in terms of hours worked. there are two career families, “mommy trackers”, part time and stay at home second person. What has happend over the last thirty years is an explosion of choices about working conditions.

    It is that that you are seeing. Basically, you are measuring working mothers coming into the work force. Some of it is unequal wages, but also some of it is part time by choice.

    Your concusions are wrong because you don’t even begin to account for the dramatic increases in choices that families have at their disposal. The market is by far more creative than it was 30 years ago.

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 28, 2008 8:00 PM
    Comment #251625
    Jim M wrote: From MSM Money, and if I find the time, d.a.n. I will answer the remainder of your questions and accusations.
    If it distresses you so much, then why do it?
    Jim M wrote: d.a.n. is very good at ignoring facts that disagree with his conclusions by saying things like, …
    Nonsense.

    If my assertions are so false and ridiculous, you should have no trouble refuting them, rather than being frustrated and compelled to turn the debate into a personal issue with statements such as …

    Jim M wrote: d.a.n. is very good at ignoring facts that disagree with his conclusions by saying things like, “what about this, That’s debatable, 3 years doesn’t prove much” and “false” if one uses his criteria.
    More nonsense. If you want to debate, then fine. If not, then fine. Nobody is forcing you.
    Jim M wrote: I wish more folks would challenge d.a.n. on some of his points but I fear many are just overwhelmed by all the charts and mind-numbing sameness. Jim
    Lots do and have. Why do you need more help? In this thread alone, Craig and Jack are your allies. Isn’t that enough?
    Jim M wrote: Youve probably heard that the average American carries more than $8,000 in credit card debt.
    Yes, according to the American Bankers’ Association, the average family today carries $8,000 in credit card debt.

    The Columbia Journalism Review and ABC reported (6-MAR-2008) that 33% of all households have $10,000 of credit card debt.

    What ever the accurate figure is, it is large.
    Nation-wide debt is $53 Trillion (3.81 times $13.86 Trillion GDP!).
    Most Americans are tapped out, and deep in debt.
    That’s no myth.
    The potential for this debt of nightmare proportions to have serious consequences in the coming decades is not far fetched.

    • Total Domestic Financial Sector Debt = $15.8 Trillion

    • Total Household Debt = $13.88 Trillion (that amounts to, on average, $45,508 per person)

    • Total Business Debt = $10.16 Trillion

    • Total Other Private Sector Foreign Debt = $1.8 Trillion

    • Total Federal Government National Debt = $9.4 Trillion (that amounts to, on average, $30,820 per person)

    • Total State and Local Government Debt = $2.2 Trillion

    • _______________________________________________________

    • Total = $53.2 Trillion (which amounts to 174,426 per person)

    • Now add the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 million baby boomer bubble approaching, and the total is $66 Trillion! ($216,393 per person).

    Jim M wrote: Its a figure frequently cited by politicians, journalists and pundits as a sure sign of impending economic collapse. They argue that consumers, already struggling under this massive burden of debt, soon will have to stop spending like drunken sailors. The economic recovery, therefore, is doomed!
    Maybe, when 70% of the economy is consumer driven.

    The U.S. is borrowing $3 Billion per day.
    To say debt is not a problem is truly delusional.

    Jim M wrote: The surprising thing about this statistic isnt that its so widely known. Rather, its that the statistic paints a picture thats just plain wrong. * In reality, most Americans owe nothing to credit card companies. * Most households that carry balances owe $2,000 or less. * Only about 1 in 20 American households owes $8,000 or more on credit cards. These figures are from the Federal Reserves 2001 Survey of Consumer Finances, one of the most comprehensive assessments of what Americans own and owe. (The survey is updated every three years; a summary of 2004’s results will be published in early 2006.)
    Then why show us year 2001’s data? Total nation-wide debt is much larger today than in 2001.
    Jim M wrote: CardWeb, however, doesnt contend that the average American owes more than $8,000 on cards. Their statistics show that the average debt per American household with at least one credit card was $8,940 in 2002, the last year for which figures are available.
    Jim M wrote: To get that number, CardWeb simply divided the total outstanding credit card debt at the end of 2002 — $750.9 billion — by the 84 million American households that it says have at least one credit card. (CardWeb uses a slightly different definition of household than the Fed does. And the company contends that 80% of households, rather than the Feds 76.2%, have at least one credit card.)
    Jim M wrote: So together, the households that owed nothing on credit cards equaled 55% of the total.
    That’s still many tens of millions of Americans. That’s not trivial.
    Jim M wrote: We dont carry that much debt:
    $53 Trillion is not “that much” ?
    Jim M wrote: Theres still plenty of trouble out there: Does this mean all the hand-wringing over consumer debt is so much noise? Hardly. Although most Americans seem to be avoiding the credit card trap, there are still plenty of people on the financial edge.
    It isn’t only a matter of how many are in debt. The level of defaults will affect all Americans.
    Jim M wrote: All of that is more than enough evidence to suggest that a large number of people are overdosing on debt. The average American, though, seems to be doing just fine.
    Hmmmmmm … interesting use of the word “average” since it was preceeded by …
    Jim M wrote: Medians are less subject to the skewing phenomenon that plagues averages; thats why economists tend to favor them.

    Still, that does not prove economic conditions are better now than 30 years ago, nor does it explain away these other 17+ economic conditions, the massive debt, and the deterioration of the past 30 years caused by these 10 abuses

    Cube wrote: d.a.n. I go with the statistics provided by the census bureau.
    Me too. My table is from the Census Bureau which matches the link provided by Jack.
    Cube wrote: They tell me things are generally better. I don’t care how you draw them.
    I never said that the absolute value of household incomes were lower.

    I said that real income is lower when also considering other factors, such as more workers per household, more regressive taxation, more sales taxes of all kinds, etc.
    Average family sizes fell only from about 3.14 in 1970 to 2.58 in year 2002 (an 18% decrease).
    Compare that to the much larger increase in number of workers per household (from 11% in 1950 to 61% in 2005 for married women with children under age 6 worked.
    The issue is that real disposable income has decreased in the last 30 years.
    And real disposable income has most certainly decreased since year 1999 (one-simple-idea.com/DisparityTrend.htm#Chart)

    Craig Holmes wrote: Your concusions are wrong because you don’t even begin to account for the dramatic increases in choices that families have at their disposal. The market is by far more creative than it was 30 years ago.
    Prove it. That’s a nice theory, and may indeed be part of the entire forumula, but it isn’t proof. Also, you appear to be acknowledging the wage gap between male and female workers. It’s going to take a lot of part-time mothers to explain away the huge shift in female workers since 1950 (e.g. from 11% in 1950 to 61% in 2005 for married women with children under age 6 worked. Also, a lot of those women working part-time may be doing so only because that is all that was available. Thus, that’s not a bad arguement, but without proof, it’s not enough to prove an increase in per capita disposable income. Remember, you still have to deal with other factors, such as more regressive taxation, more taxes of all kinds (many that are regressive sales taxes), an estimated $70 Billion to $338 Billion in net annual losses due to illegal immigration, a massive $9.4 Trillion in National Debt ($22 Trillion if you include the $12.8 Trillion borrowed from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go), the $53 Trillion nation-wide debt, etc., etc., etc.

    The issue is:

    • Are things really better today than 30 years ago?

    Based on those 17+ reasons, I don’t think so.

    We have dwelled on income for some time, and the idea that real disposable income per person has increased is highly debatable.
    I never questioned a small increase (almost flat essentially) in the income level, but have always consistently asserted that real disposable income has decreased due to a myriad of plausible reasons.
    And until someone can provide credible evidence on a per capita basis, that also includes the effects of taxation, more workers per household, more government debt, more personal debt, etc., then there’s no reason to think real disposable incomes have increased in the last 30 years.

    Again, here’s just one question to ponder:

    • ? Where will the money come from to pay the interest on the current $53.2 Trillion in total nation-wide debt (3.81 times the $13.86 Trillion GDP), much less the money to pay the principal (LOAN = PRINCIPAL + INTEREST), when that money does not yet exist?

    At any rate, the voters will have the government that the voters elect, and deserve.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 28, 2008 8:53 PM
    Comment #251626

    Also, a lot of those “things” and “junk” (e.g. cell phones tethering people to their jobs 24/7, TVs, gas guzzling SUVs, fattening foods, etc., etc., etc.) have been financed with massive debt being piled onto future generations.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 28, 2008 8:56 PM
    Comment #251632

    “Jobs are leaving the nation”
    The cost of real labor and raw materials, are a very small part of the price of what we buy. Branding and advertising are a more significant component of prices. Of course, that includes the people working for the brands, the advertising agencies, the media in which the product is advertised, not to mention the importers and transporters of the products, and the person employed at the point of sale.

    Posted by: ohrealy at April 28, 2008 10:05 PM
    Comment #251637

    Dan:

    That is your burden. The thesis of this thread is that some things get better. You are arguing the opposite.

    Here are some things that get better.

    1. Automobile deaths are much lower.
    2. We live longer.
    3. Violent Crime is declining.
    4. Inflation is much lower than the seventies.
    5. We have good unemployment numbers.
    6. World poverty is decreasing.
    7. World economic freedom is increasing.
    8. Deaths in Iraq are declining.
    9. Democrats are working hard to give us Republicans a fair chance this fall.
    10. Oil discoveries are up!!!
    11. Interest rates are at recent lows.
    12. The trade deficit is declining as a percentage of GDP even with high oil prices.
    13. USA oil consumption has declined.
    14. Jimmy Carter did not start an international incident.
    15. Rev Wright and Bill Clinton just will not shut up.

    As Jack points out, all is not bleak. There is no reason to get the koolaid out for us to drink it. In spite of the pessimism from the left, there are truely many good things going on in this world.

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 28, 2008 11:41 PM
    Comment #251644

    Does anyone remember the last time the canadian dollar was roughly on parity with the american dollar? IT was the mid ‘70’s. It has been on parity again since the 3rd quarter of ‘07. According to the cons the ’70s were just terrible.

    If things are going so well here and now why is our dollar doing so bad?

    Posted by: j2t2 at April 29, 2008 2:15 AM
    Comment #251657
    Craig Holmes wrote: d.a.n: That is your burden
    It’s no real burden. There’s nothing wrong or worth denigrating about identifying and developing solutions (e.g. one-simple-idea.com/index.htm#NinePointPlan). What is interesting is why that frustrates and upsets some people so much? Perhaps it is partisan motivated? If the Democrats take over the Senate, House, and Executive Branch on 4-Nov-2008, it will be very interesting to see how the IN-PARTY and OUT-PARTY trade glasses.
    Craig Holmes wrote: The thesis of this thread is that some things get better. You are arguing the opposite.
    Wrong again.

    Lots of things are better.
    Lots of things are worse.

    I even listed the following things (above) that are better today:

      Many good things have happened in the last 230+ years:
      • (01) The U.S. Constitution

      • (02) Slavery was finally abolished (though it came much later than it should have).

      • (03) Progress to reduce discrimination based on race, religion, color, ethnicity, gender, etc.

      • (04) Entrepreneurial spirit, despite the severely bloated government, incessant bureaucratic nonsense, and corruption.

      • (05) Productivity, ingenuity, and diversity.

      • (06) Internet (didn’t Al Gore invent that? Not just the MSM that constantly leaves out the facts, spins the facts, or out right lies)

      • (07) Technology, and the U.S. has lead in many ways.

      • (08) Generosity of Americans.

      • (09) The U.S. is still one of the top 26 (of hundreds of nations world-wide) countries to live-in (though it has been slipping lower).

      • (10) Freedom of speech, and most Americans that are not afraid to speak up about valid issues, and propose solutions, despite some people (bullies) that try to unfairly label them as traitors, America haters, and America trashers.
    Despite all that, there is no reason to not work to make things better, identify problems, root causes, and also propose solutions: one-simple-idea.com/index.htm#NinePointPlan
    Why do some people find that so frustrating and upseting?
    What’s the harm, as long as people are also proposing solutions, rather than merely complaining?

    Craig Holmes wrote:
      Here are some things that get better:
    • 1. Automobile deaths are much lower. {barely, since the percentage of population in 1975 was 0.000206, 0.000184 in 1985, 0.00016 in 1995, and 0.00015 in 2005. Also deaths are not only from automobile accidents. Urban sprawl and commuting is literally deadly due for other reasons. An estimated 400,000 people die prematurely because of the sprawl lifestyle, which will soon overtake cigarette smoking as a cause of death. A one-hour commute (one way) per day translates into 67 eight-hour days (540 hours) per year sitting in traffic. Sprawl kills: www.newcolonist.com/sprawlkills.html ;}
    • 2. We live longer. {A little longer for some. Not for others. Why are 195,000 Americans dying each year due to preventable medical mistakes, which (since 1999) is over 1.5 million people killed by preventable medical mistakes, which is more than all the U.S. troops killed in all American wars: the American Revolution (4,435), the War of 1812 (2,260), the Indian Wars (1,000), the Mexican War (1,733), the Civil War (462,000), the Spanish American War (385), WWI (53,402), WWII (291,557), Vietnam War (58,209), Korean War (36,574), the Iraq Gulf War (529), and the current Iraq war Mar-2003-present (4,050 as of 24-APR-2008), combined !? And how many tens of millions of Americans can no longer afford health insurance? And how about the obesity epidemic? And there’s urban sprawl, which is literally deadly. An estimated 400,000 people die prematurely because of the sprawl lifestyle, which will soon overtake cigarette smoking as a cause of death. Sprawl kills: www.newcolonist.com/sprawlkills.html }
    • 3. Violent Crime is declining. {Partyly true. Partly false. While crime was falling for many years, and saw a sharp decline around 1993, that trend started to reverse about year 2005. Violent crime rates are now on the rise again, after falling for many years (In 2006, for example, an estimated 1,417,000 violent crimes were committed across the country. That was a sharp rise from the 1,360,000 crimes reported in 2004 and approaches the estimated 1,425,000-mark reached in 2002. Source1: crime.about.com/b/2007/01/02/violent-crime-up-in-2006.htm ; The D.O.J web-site only goes to year 2005 on many charts. Crime can also vary greatly from state to state. Source2: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/01/AR2007060102360.html ; still, as nations go, violence in the U.S. is higher than many other nations on economic par with the U.S.}
    • 4. Inflation is much lower than the seventies. {Maybe. There’s something suspicious about the current reports of only 4.0% inflation and the U.S. Dollar is falling drastically against all major international currencies; not to mention those international currencies have inflation of their own too! There’s also something suspicious about the reports of only 4.0% inflation since energy costs are not part of the basket of goods used to determine CPI. Also, while 3% to 5% doesn’t sound bad, it is when it is every year, becoming exponential; }
    • 5. We have good unemployment numbers. {True. But they are rising now. 250,000 jobs have been lost since 1-Jan-2008. }
    • 6. World poverty is decreasing. {Perhaps. Real progress has been made in reducing poverty in recent years; especially in India and China. However, there is much uncertainty about the accuracy of the statistics. Using the same data, two reports released less than two years apart by the World Bank reached apparently different conclusions on whether world poverty was going up or down. How can we know whether the world poverty counts are accurate? Also, the level of world-wide poverty is still high, and gains are fragile. Source: www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2002/06/deaton.htm}
    • 7. World economic freedom is increasing. {Perhaps. Since 1995, world Economic Freedom has increased 2.6 points using the 2008 index methodology.}
    • 8. Deaths in Iraq are declining. {True. But the whole thing was a mistake, based on false intelligence, and we should not be forcing our U.S. Troops to risk life and limb for nation-building and policing the Iraqis’ civil war. To force U.S. Troops to risk life and limb for nation-buildinkg and policing civil wars shows a horrible disrespect for our U.S. Troops, and a complete lack of priorities. Especially when Congress is giving itself a raise every year, voting on pork-barrel and other waste, when our U.S. Troops are risking life and limb, going without armor, adequate medical care, promised benefits, and being forced to make 2,3,4, or 5 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.}
    • 9. Democrats are working hard to give us Republicans a fair chance this fall. {True. But no matter which wing wins, they will still fly around in cirlces. So this does not belong on the list.}
    • 10. Oil discoveries are up!!! {Maybe, but so is demand, and it is a limited resource, and oil at $120 per barrel isn’t likely to change any time soon. Alternative energy sources is a must, but we may have to wait until it is a crisis before alternative energy sources are earnestly pursued.}
    • 11. Interest rates are at recent lows. {That will cause oil prices and inflation to go higher, and create more debt, so that’s not exactly a good thing.}
    • 12. The trade deficit is declining as a percentage of GDP even with high oil prices. {With $53 Trillion of nation-wide debt, rising unemployment, rising inflation, it’s no wonder. Besides, the trade deficits are still extremely imbalanced: Source: www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c5700.html#2008}
    • 13. USA oil consumption has declined. {At $4 a gallon for gasoline, it’s no wonder. WHHooooohoooo! Now you are getting desparate.}
    • 14. Jimmy Carter did not start an international incident. {Are you that desparate to make your list longer? That doesn’t belong on the list.}
    • 15. Rev Wright and Bill Clinton just will not shut up. {And that’s a good thing? That doesn’t belong on the list either.}
    Craig Holmes wrote: As Jack points out, all is not bleak.
    And no one ever said it was.

    What’s so terrible about people identifying problems and proposing solutions (e.g. One-Simple-Idea.com/One-Simple-Idea.htm#NinePointPlan) ?
    Are you so certain that when all things good and all things bad are compared, that things are better today than 30 years ago (for most Americans)?
    Because no one has yet provided a convincing list of things that out-weigh the list of 17+ things that are now worse then ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s: One-Simple-Idea.com/NeverWorse.htm

    Your list above was a valiant effort, but many of the items were desparate nonsense (e.g. 9, 14 and 15), and not convincing as a whole.
    Keep working on it, and maybe your position will finally have some credibility.

    There’s been a lot of good things in the last 30 years.
    But there’s been a lot of bad things too in the last 30 years.
    Based on these 17+ economic conditions”, it is plausible and reasonable to say things are worse today than 30 years ago.
    Compare your list of things above to that list of 17+ things.
    Also, the deterioration of those 17+ economic conditions are likely to continue until these 10 abuses are stopped (i.e. the simple solution is to simply stop those abuses).

    Craig Holmes wrote: There is no reason to get the koolaid out for us to drink it. In spite of the pessimism from the left, there are truely many good things going on in this world.
    Not “pessimism”.

    Realism.
    Your list doesn’t cut it.
    No one denies there have been both many good and bad things.
    We can not both be right.
    Things in the last 30 years, on the whole, in totality, have either gotten worse, or better for most Americans.
    While there has been much progress over the millennia, the negatives of the past 30 years in the U.S. slightly out-weighs the positives, and much of the problem can be linked to 10 abuses that should be stopped.

    Only a fool would jump to the totally pessimistic and unsubstantiated conclusion that the sky-is-falling.
    It’s not the end of the world, despite the childish extrapolations and exaggerations to portray others that way who see and acknowledge the obvious 17+ economic conditions that have deteriorated in the past 30 years.
    They are not crazy, nor irrational.
    It also is not merely a liberal leaning.
    Dooms day is not upon us, no matter how hard you want to portray those as such who disagree.

    But, equally foolish is the ostrich that sticks its head in sand, only to find out (too late) that it was actually a bucket of concrete … something that might not have happened had the ostrich first removed its rose-colored glasses?

    - - - - - - - - -

    j2t2 wrote: Does anyone remember the last time the canadian dollar was roughly on parity with the american dollar? IT was the mid ‘70’s. It has been on parity again since the 3rd quarter of ‘07. According to the cons the ’70s were just terrible.
    Good point. The U.S. Dollar has fallen drastically since 1999 against all major international currencies.

    There’s something suspicious about the currently reported inflation rate of only 4.0% inflation when the U.S. Dollar is falling drastically against all major international currencies, not to mention those international currencies have inflation of their own too!, and since energy costs are not part of the basket of goods used to determine CPI. Also, while 3% to 5% doesn’t sound bad, it is when it is every year, becoming exponential;

    j2t2 wrote: If things are going so well here and now why is our dollar doing so bad?
    Debt, excessive creation of money out of thin air, a bad monetary system that is essentially an upside-down pyramid. Money is created as debt. Nation-wide debt is now $53 Trillion (3.81 times the $13.86 Trillion GDP !).
    • Nation-wide debt is over $53 Trillion (never worse both in size and as a percentage of the $13.86 Trillion GDP):
    • $52.5T |—————————————-d (d=debt=$53T)
    • $50.0T |—————————————-d
    • $47.5T |—————————————-d
    • $45.0T |—————————————d-
    • $42.5T |—————————————d-
    • $40.0T |—————————————d-
    • $37.5T |————————————-d—
    • $35.0T |————————————d—-
    • $32.5T |———————————-d——
    • $30.0T |———————————d——-
    • $27.5T |——————————-d———
    • $25.0T |——————————d———-
    • $22.5T |—————————-d————
    • $20.0T |—————————d————-
    • $17.5T |————————-d—————
    • $15.0T |————————d—————-
    • $12.5T |———————d——————g (g=GDP=$13.9T)
    • $10.0T |—————-d—————g——-
    • $07.5T |———-d————g—————-
    • $05.0T |-d——-g——————————
    • $02.5T |-g—————————————
    • $00.0T |——————-+————————- YEAR
    • _____ (1956)_____(1976)_____(2007)
    Have you noticed that no one has yet been able to answer the one simple question:
    • ? Where will the money come from to pay the interest on the current $53.2 Trillion in total nation-wide debt (3.81 times the $13.86 Trillion GDP), much less the money to pay the principal (LOAN = PRINCIPAL + INTEREST)? Especially when that money does not yet exist?

    At any rate, the voters will have the government that the voters elect, and deserve.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 29, 2008 8:04 AM
    Comment #251696

    Dan:

    Because no one has yet provided a convincing list of things that out-weigh the list of 17+ things that are now worse then ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s: One-Simple-Idea.com/NeverWorse.htm

    And no one will because there is no reason to. It’s your list and you enjoy keeping it. Enjoy it.

    There is no reason to take on your list because they are written in your language and make sense to you. You are an engineer. Most people aren’t.

    Enjoy keeping the list. Make it longer.

    Our country has a bright future. The current issue is another opportunity to learn and refine our system. It is going to be better and stronger when we come out of it. American ingenuity is in our cuture. We addapt. What knowledge we do not have we import.

    Enjoy the ride. America has been written off at peril our whole history. What we are in right now is “NORMAL”. It is what we as Americans do. It is our culture to take risk and then adapt when things go wrong.

    There is absolutely nothing going on that even in the slightest alarms me economically. We are growing under the mean for a while because we were growing over the mean for a while before!! Next we will start to grow at the mean while we continue to sort things out.

    The dollar is low now, so it will be higher later. Oil is high now and it will be lower later. Gold is high now it will be lower later. (It might pass through 2000 on it’s way to lower).

    We are adjusting to a longer life span. We are also adjusting to a dramatically increased market place. Our “market place” basically tripled in value. We have seen three shock waves. They are the Internet Bubble, the housing bubble and now the commodity bubble. That is understandable when you look at how much bigger our economic world recently got. (sorry for the grammer). As a larger world community we will sort it all out.

    I do think your pessimism may be warranted in some parts of the world. If you look at Japan, Italy, France and Germany, I think your case for concern has more merit. These economies are more static than America’s. They have a much older population, higher social spending and are far less upon to immigration. If you shifted your concerns there you might find me an ally.

    America is exceptional in it’s ability to change course and adapt. That is why I leave you to keep the list of problems. I enjoy watching America adapt and achieve.

    I am looking forward to a bright future.

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 29, 2008 2:48 PM
    Comment #251706
    Craig Holmes wrote: d.a.n:
      d.a.n wrote: Because no one has yet provided a convincing list of things that out-weigh the list of 17+ things that are now worse then ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s: One-Simple-Idea.com/NeverWorse.htm
    And no one will because there is no reason to. It’s your list and you enjoy keeping it. Enjoy it.
    False.

    You just tried above with a list of 15 things. Unfortunately, while a few things were definetely true, it wasn’t very credible overall.

    Craig Holmes wrote: There is no reason to take on your list …
    But you did (above with a list of 15 things in comment #251632). So you’re coping-out now?
    Craig Holmes wrote: … because they are written in your language and make sense to you. You are an engineer. Most people aren’t.
    Nonsense. Being an engineer has nothing to do with it? What language are you speaking of?
    Craig Holmes wrote: Enjoy keeping the list. Make it longer.
    I don’t want to make it longer.

    I want to make it shorter.
    We both wish it was shorter.
    But sticking one’s head in the sand and ignoring reality won’t solve any problems.

    Craig Holmes wrote: Our country has a bright future.

    Hopefully. But not if we stay on the current course. There are icebergs ahead.

    Craig Holmes wrote: The current issue is another opportunity to learn and refine our system.
    Hopefully. But not if we stay on the current course, and allow these 10 abuses to continue to make these 17+ economic conditions worse.
    Craig Holmes wrote: It is going to be better and stronger when we come out of it. American ingenuity is in our cuture. We addapt. What knowledge we do not have we import.
    Hopefully, you are right. But hppe and rosy happy talk is not a strategy.
    Craig Holmes wrote: Enjoy the ride. America has been written off at peril our whole history. What we are in right now is “NORMAL”. It is what we as Americans do. It is our culture to take risk and then adapt when things go wrong.
    I wouldn’t call those 17+ economic conditions normal, and neither do most people (including many economist, and including the former U.S. Comptroller, David Walker).
    Craig Holmes wrote: There is absolutely nothing going on that even in the slightest alarms me economically.
    That does not suprise me one bit.
    Craig Holmes wrote: We are growing under the mean for a while because we were growing over the mean for a while before!! Next we will start to grow at the mean while we continue to sort things out.
    That’s debatable. At least you seem to now be acknowledging some an economic issues exist.

    Especially since you, nor anyone else have yet credibly answered one question:

    • Where will the money come from to pay the interest on the current $53.2 Trillion in total nation-wide debt (3.81 times the $13.86 Trillion GDP), much less the money to pay the principal (LOAN = PRINCIPAL + INTEREST), when that money does not yet exist?

    Craig Holmes wrote: The dollar is low now, so it will be higher later. Oil is high now and it will be lower later. Gold is high now it will be lower later. (It might pass through 2000 on it’s way to lower).
    Maybe.

    However, with $53 Trillion of nation-wide debt (3.81 times the $13.86 Trillion GDP), that’s debatable.
    The debt monster may finally be too big to tame.

    Craig Holmes wrote: We are adjusting to a longer life span. We are also adjusting to a dramatically increased market place. Our “market place” basically tripled in value. We have seen three shock waves. They are the Internet Bubble, the housing bubble and now the commodity bubble. That is understandable when you look at how much bigger our economic world recently got. (sorry for the grammer). As a larger world community we will sort it all out.
    Hopefully. But that still does not diminish the seriousness of so many economic conditions that are now worse than ever, and/or since the 1930s and 1940s.
    Craig Holmes wrote: I do think your pessimism may be warranted in some parts of the world.
    First of all, to put things in perspective, I’ve written several times that the U.S. is still in the top 26 nations of the hundreds of nations to live.
    Craig Holmes wrote: If you look at Japan, Italy, France and Germany, I think your case for concern has more merit. These economies are more static than America’s. They have a much older population, higher social spending and are far less upon to immigration. If you shifted your concerns there you might find me an ally.
    Maybe. But I’m more concerned about U.S.

    We can do better.
    I’m not only about complaining about identifying, studying, and analyzing problems, but about developing and studying solutions too, and use my time, money, skills, and other resources to promote those solutions.

    Craig Holmes wrote: America is exceptional in it’s ability to change course and adapt.
    That’s good, but the problems have now been growing in number and severity for too long.
    Craig Holmes wrote: That is why I leave you to keep the list of problems.
    Whatever. Buy you still have not yet credibly answered this one question:
    • Where will the money come from to pay the interest on the current $53.2 Trillion in total nation-wide debt (3.81 times the $13.86 Trillion GDP), much less the money to pay the principal (LOAN = PRINCIPAL + INTEREST), when that money does not yet exist?
    Craig Holmes wrote: I enjoy watching America adapt and achieve. I am looking forward to a bright future.
    Me too.

    But mere hope and optimism alone is not enough.
    And history should give you some reason for concern.
    Many nations have essentially comitted suicide throughout the millennia.
    You express concerns about Japan, Italy, France and Germany.
    What makes you think the U.S. is invulnerable?
    We are currently on the wrong path, and the most dangerous part about all of it is a do-nothing Congress, and an electorate that repeatedly rewards most incumbent politicians in that do-nothing Congress with 93%-to-99% re-election rates.

    I’m not concerned that we lack ideas for solutions for the problems we currently face.
    I’m concerned that we simply haven’t the will and wisdom to take action sooner than later; Congress is where good ideas go to die.
    The longer the problems go ignored, the more painful the consequences will become.

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 29, 2008 5:04 PM
    Comment #251710

    “I’m not concerned that we lack ideas for solutions for the problems we currently face.
    I’m concerned that we simply haven’t the will and wisdom to take action sooner than later; Congress is where good ideas go to die.
    The longer the problems go ignored, the more painful the consequences will become.”
    Posted by: d.a.n at April 29, 2008 05:04 PM

    With that, d.a.n. you and I agree. Please do us all a favor and list your solutions to the list you continue to include in many of your posts.

    Posted by: Jim M at April 29, 2008 5:27 PM
    Comment #251734

    Dan:

    Things in the last 30 years, on the whole, in totality, have either gotten worse, or better for most Americans. While there has been much progress over the millennia, the negatives of the past 30 years in the U.S. slightly out-weighs the positives, and much of the problem can be linked to 10 abuses that should be stopped.

    Who cares? If you think things are only slightly worse, there isn’t much reason to fix things. That means life is fine.

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at April 29, 2008 8:24 PM
    Comment #251757

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080429/ap_on_bi_ge/cashing_out_the_attic

    Lets ask these guys if things are getting better before they get worse.

    Posted by: j2t2 at April 30, 2008 2:05 AM
    Comment #251807
    • d.a.n wrote: Things in the last 30 years, on the whole, in totality, have either gotten worse, or better for most Americans. While there has been much progress over the millennia, the negatives of the past 30 years in the U.S. slightly out-weighs the positives, and much of the problem can be linked to 10 abuses that should be stopped.
    Craig Holmes responded: Who cares? If you think things are only slightly worse, there isn’t much reason to fix things. That means life is fine.
    Who cares?

    Wow. Are you serious?
    Are you really that out of touch with reality?

    • The increasing numbers of the unemployed care.

    • The increasing numbers of the impoverished care

    • The increasing numbers of those being foreclosed.

    • The increasing numbers of victims of usury, predatory lending, and the dishonest, inflationary pyramid-scheme monetary system.

    • The increasing numbers of people who can not afford food, healthcare, and gasoline.

    • The increasing numbers of people who see GDP rising, but their incomes falling.

    • The increasing numbers of people who see their hard earned income being eroded by inflation (one-simple-idea.com/USD_Falling.htm).

    • The increasing numbers of people who see $53 Trillion of nation-wide debt and fear more inflation (or worse) will be the result.

    • The increasing numbers of people that are victims of crimes by illegal aliens.

    • The increasing numbers of people who see the Constitution being trampled (one-simple-idea.com/ConstitutionalViolations1.htm).

    • The increasing numbers of people who see unfair trade policies sending jobs out of the nation in droves.

    • The increasing numbers of people who see unfair and regressive taxation.

    • The increasing numbers of people who see 195,000 people die annually due to preventable medical mistakes.

    • The increasing numbers of people who see our U.S. Troops risking life and limb for nation-building and policing the Iraqis’ civil war.

    • The increasing numbers of people who see the declining quality and rising cost of education.

    • The increasing numbers of people who see their voters lost in flawed voting machines.

    • Many people care, whether you do or not.
    No matter what the current situation is, why so much disdain for those wanting solutions and abuses stopped that are hurting many Americans?
    Why so much disdain for those that believe things can and should be better (many who are also developing solutions)?
    Why try so hard to rationalize and defend mediocrity?
    How can you acknowledge some things are broken, but oppose fixing them ?
    Craig Holmes responded: Who cares? If you think things are only slightly worse, there isn’t much reason to fix things.

    Craig, you are also overlooking the potential for more deterioration if those 10 abuses continue to be ignored and allow these 17+ economic conditions to continue to deteriorate, which are already worse than ever and/or since the 1930s and 1940s.

    And you still did not answer the simple question:

    • ? Where will the money come from to pay the interest on the current $53.2 Trillion (one-simple-idea.com/DebtAndMoney.htm#53Trillion) in total nation-wide debt (3.81 times the $13.86 Trillion GDP), much less the money to pay the principal (LOAN = PRINCIPAL + INTEREST), when that money does not yet exist?

    Posted by: d.a.n at April 30, 2008 6:10 PM
    Comment #251819

    “No matter what the current situation is, why so much disdain for those wanting solutions and abuses stopped that are hurting many Americans?
    Why so much disdain for those that believe things can and should be better (many who are also developing solutions)?
    Why try so hard to rationalize and defend mediocrity?
    How can you acknowledge some things are broken, but oppose fixing them”

    Fear.

    Fear that solving those problems will fulfill your agenda of redistributing the wealth. Some of us STILL believe in PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS.

    Posted by: BOHICA at April 30, 2008 7:41 PM
    Comment #251861
    BOHICA wrote: Fear.

    Fear that solving those problems will fulfill your agenda of redistributing the wealth. Some of us STILL believe in PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS.


    What ever gave you the idea I have an “agenda” of “redistributing wealth” or violating others’ “PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS”.

    Perhaps you could provide some evidence?
    If you want to try to support your empty rhetoric with facts, feel free to see my SOLUTIONS link below and identify the parts you think support your theory of an “agenda” for “redistributing wealth”.
    Otherwise, your comment has no credibility.
    Or is that your standard quip to anyone you think is a liberal?

    There are no doubt some people that believe in the need for “wealth redistribution”.
    So your fear is not irrational.
    But I am not one of them.
    What I advocate are SOLUTIONS and putting an end to these 10 ABUSES that are causing some of the worst economic conditions ever and/or since the 1930s and 1940s.

    I do not:

    • support a government-run healthcare system. Healthcare and other things might be more affordable with less greed, government meddling, bureacracy, and abuses.

    • think government can run Social Security responsibly (as evidenced by the massive $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 Million baby boomer bubble approaching.

    • think government can run Medicare responsibly, as evidenced by massive fraud, and it also probably is responsible for inflated medical costs.

    • think more and bigger government is the answer, and constantly criticize the severely over-bloated size of the federal government.

    • think progressive taxes are fair. I’m for FLAT taxes on all types of persoanal income; no corporate income taxes; no tax on anyone’s income below the poverty level since that merely pushes people onto welfare and creates more unnecessary bureacracy.

    • think the tax system needs to be so complicated.

    • think the tax rates need to be so high on some and not on others (e.g. regressive). A flat 17% tax should be enough: One-Simple-Idea.com/TaxSystemReform.htm

    • think corporations should be taxed. Those costs are simply passed onto consumers as hidden sales taxes, and all sales taxes are regressive.

    • think the government needs to be spending, borrowing, and creating so much money out of thin air.

    • think the government needs to be mailing out $150 Billion for economic stimulus. It will make things worse later. The National Debt is already $9.4 Trillion. This economic stimulous is like trying to put out a fire by throwing gasoline on it.

    • think the government should be pitting American citizens and illegal aliens against each other for profits and votes (One-Simple-Idea.com/VoteDemocrat.gif)

    • think our U.S. Troops should be risking life and limb for nation-building and policing the Iraqis’ civil wars, while Congress is giving itself a raise 9 of the last 10 years, and other cu$hy perk$ and benefit$.

    • think it is the federal government’s duty to do a lot of things it does. Do we need all of this: www.akdart.com/gov1.html ?

    • think the monetary system is viable. Where will the money to pay the interest on $53 Trillion of nation-wide debt come from, when it does not yet exist? The money system is a dishonest, usurious, inflationary, upside-down pyramid scheme. The problem with pyramids is that they always collapse eventually. That’s why the U.S. Dollar is doing this: One-Simple-Idea.com/USD_Falling.htm

    • think unfair trade policies should be tolerated that allow other countries imports to the U.S.A. and block the sale of our products in foreign countries.

    • think constitutional violations should be tolerated: One-Simple-Idea.com/ConstitutionalViolations1.htm

    • think tens of trillions of debt should be heaped onto future generations.

    • think we lack for good ideas and solutions. The problem is that Congress is where good ideas go to die. However, voters are culpable too, and things won’t improve as long as too many voters repeatedly reward too many irresponsible and corrupt politician with 93%-to-99% re-election rates.

    I don’t want the government to take care of me from cradle to grave.

    I want the government to get off my back, our backs, enforce laws, and stop these 10 abuses hammering most Americans: One-Simple-Idea.com/DisparityTrend.htm

    So where ever you got the strange idea that I have an “agenda” for “redistributing wealth” is a mystery and raises questions about the credibility of your comments.

    Posted by: d.a.n at May 1, 2008 10:59 AM
    Comment #251944

    More good news.

    April posted the largest increase in Equity prices in 5 years. The Dow is very close to turning into positive territory.

    No recession yet. Slow growth yes, but not a recession. not yet.

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 2, 2008 4:21 PM
    Comment #251968

    That depends on your definition of recession (see NBER definition: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recession).
    The 6 months of negative GDP is not the only definition.
    These 17+ economic conditions still exist.
    Massive debt still exists.
    Inflation still exists.
    These 10 abuses still exist.
    I actually wish you were right, but it ain’t likely, when the abuses and worst economic conditions ever and/or since the 1930s and 1940s still exist.

    And still, no one can answer the one simple question:

    • ? Where will the money come from to pay the interest on the current $53.2 Trillion in total nation-wide debt (3.81 times the $13.86 Trillion GDP), much less the money to pay the principal (LOAN = PRINCIPAL + INTEREST), when that money does not yet exist?

    Posted by: d.a.n at May 2, 2008 10:12 PM
    Comment #252126

    Dan:

    The vast majority of this so called “debt” you talk about is the present value of our promises to our citizens.

    Here is how we will pay for it.

    If you go back to the 1950’s and look at national debt to income ratio is was about the same as now.

    however, what those people could not see was the Vietnam war, The race to the moon, the massive amount of money needed to educate babyboomers.

    My answer to you is that we will pay for our future obligations the same way we did from 1950’s to present.

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at May 4, 2008 10:36 PM
    Comment #252178
    Craig Holmes wrote: d.a.n: The vast majority of this so called “debt” you talk about is the present value of our promises to our citizens.
    Wrong.

    That $53.2 Trillion is current principal debt only; not future debt.
    We’ve already discussed this before when you said that was only about half of the nation’s total net worth of about $110 Trillion.
    If the future interest is included (based only on a 4.0% interest rate), the total future debt (principal + interest) could be as high as $577 Trillion and take 272 years to pay down. And that $53.2 Trillion does not even include the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 Million baby-boomer bubble approaching.

    The following are current debts (not current debt + future interest):

    • (1) Total Domestic Financial Sector Debt = $15.8 Trillion

    • (2) Total Household Debt = $13.88 Trillion

    • (3) Total Business Debt = $10.16 Trillion

    • (4) Total Other Private Sector Foreign Debt = $1.8 Trillion

    • (5) Total Federal Government National Debt = $9.4 Trillion

    • (6) Total State and Local Government Debt = $2.2 Trillion

    • __________________________________________________

    • Total = $53.2 Trillion (that’s 3.81 times the nation’s $13.86 Trillion GDP!)

    • Including the $12.8 Trillion borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay-as-you-go, with a 77 million baby boomer bubble approaching,
      the total is $66 Trillion! (over $216K per person; that is 4.76 times the $13.86 Trillion GDP!)

    So, which of those things above are you saying is NOT current debt (i.e. current principal debt; not principal + future interest)?

    Craig Holmes wrote: Here is how we will pay for it.
    HHHMMMmmmmmmm … this ought to be good. Get ready for the smoke and mirrors.
    Craig Holmes wrote: If you go back to the 1950’s and look at national debt to income ratio is was about the same as now.
    False.

    National Debt in 1945 was 116% of GDP (World War II debt).
    National Debt in 1950 was 88% of GDP.
    National Debt in 1955 was 68% of GDP.
    National Debt in 1960 was 58% of GDP.

    Today, the $9.4 Trillion National Debt is 66% of GDP.
    However, that $9.4 Trillion National Debt is not all current federal debt, and ignores the $12.8 Trillion that was borrowed and spent from Social Security, leaving it pay as you go, with a 77 Million baby boomer bubble approaching.
    Thus, total current federal debt is actually $22.2 Trillion.
    Therefore, the real total current (not future) federal debt of $22.2 Trillion is 160% of the $13.86 Trillion GDP, which has never been worse ever (along with these other 17+ economic conditions).

    But that is only part of the picture.
    Total nation-wide debt is massive (see (1)-to-(6) above).

    Craig Holmes wrote: My answer to you is that we will pay for our future obligations the same way we did from 1950’s to present.
    By printing money, eh?

    That’s going to take a lot more money printing than in the 1950s.
    Not likely. The debt is too large.
    The nation-wide debt is too large.
    Many economic conditions are actually worse now than 1950 in.
    Many economic conditions are actually worse now than the Great Depression.
    Even at only 4%, it would take centuries and a lot of discipline manage so much debt.
    It is delusional to think :

    • Congress has that much discipline to manage that much debt,

    • or that we can create that much money as debt (since money is created as debt at 9-to-1 ratio from existing reserves),

    • or that we can create more money out of thin air; i.e. not backed by any reserves (with so much exponential inflation already),

    • or that we can spend and borrow more (70% of the economy is consumer driven),

    • or that we can immigrate enough (i.e. cheap labor),

    • or that we can procreate enough,

    • or that we can increase productivity enough, i.e. increase GDP more (especially with much more global competition),

    • or that we can lower taxes more,

    • or that we can tax the wealthy more,

    • or that we can increase the abuses already causing the worst economic conditions ever and/or since the 1930s and 1940s.

    So, you really did not answer the question, since many things are much worse now than 1950 and the Great Depression, and the debt above is current debt (not debt + future interest):

    • Where will the money come from to pay the interest on the current $53.2 Trillion in total nation-wide debt, much less the money to pay the principal (i.e. LOAN=PRINCIPAL+INTEREST), when that money does not yet exist?
    Especially when 80% of all wealth in the U.S. is owned by only 17% of the total population.

    The only way out of this mess, which will still not be painless, will require significant discipline and reforms.

    With so many voters that repeatedly reward irresponsible incumbent politicians with 93%-to-99% re-election rates, your prediction is rosy indeed.

    More likely, the U.S., best case, is looking at a slow and gradual decline and continued deterioration for several decades, as these 10 major abuses continue to deteriorate economic conditions.

    Posted by: d.a.n at May 5, 2008 1:38 PM
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