Third Party & Independents Archives

Economic Inequality Is Real (Bad)

Rising American economic inequality has received attention by Senator Jim Webb, presidential candidate John Edwards, maverick Lou Dobbs, and others. The middle class has not shared in rising national prosperity, because the national wealth has been siphoned off to the richest Americans. Some elites are nervous.

They have attacked what are pejoratively called “neopopulists” – people who say the middle class is under siege. Surprisingly, the attack and economic propaganda have come from the relatively unknown Third Way group that is associated with the Democratic Leadership Council. Why would self-proclaimed progressives and centrists put out a report that says the whole economic inequality story is bogus?

They favor continuation of the free trade globalization policies of recent Democratic and Republican administrations. They want no restraints on international trade, despite mounting U.S. trade deficits and loss of manufacturing and many professional jobs to low wage nations. Of Third Way’s 18 board members, 14 are current or former CEOs or investors, including several hedge fund managers and the co-head of global equity trading at Goldman Sachs.

Third Way’s report “The New Rules Economy” uses sleazy statistical tricks to create a false image of rising economic prosperity for middle class Americans. You know the group is full of crap when the intellectually bankrupt New York Times columnist David Brooks praises its findings. Anyone who believes this report’s data and conclusions is either in the Upper Class or is just plain gullible. The report argues that the middle class is not stagnating, not drowning in debt, not being victimized by free trade. Is this your reality?

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said recently that incomes at all levels are rising; it's just that incomes at the upper end are rising much faster. Minor increases for the many are not the same as staggering increases for the few. And that’s what economic inequality and injustice are all about.

An expanding Upper Class does NOT mean that those below that class are doing equally well. Between 1979 and 2005, the percentage of the prime wage-earners aged 25 to 59 earning more than $100,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars grew by nearly 13 percentage points. But the overall population grew by more than 30 percent. So the Lower Class is expanding more rapidly than the Upper Class and they are not getting the increases in wages and benefits that they deserve.

Third Way removed lower and higher age Americans and non-married households from their data to emphasize the median income of married-couple households at more than $72,000, up 22 percent from 1979 to 2005 when adjusted for inflation (and not that impressive for 25 years). If both work outside the home it is $81,000. Guess what? Less than half of American households fit the married couple category, and even fewer in the prime wage-earner class. If you include the many unmarried households in this age range the median drops to $61,000. If all households are counted, the median drops sharply to just over $46,000.

Note that median wages for men are lower today than they were in 1973, and even total compensation, including benefits, is lower than it was in the late 1970s. And median incomes of high school graduates in general have declined a lot. For college graduates, median hourly real wages are up just 10 percent over thirty years!

The report dismisses the staggering increases in household debt by invoking higher home values. This of course ignores the housing bubble effect that has created delusional home equity wealth.

There is another reality check. Local geographic or regional economies determine whether a $72,000 or even $81,000 household income is really that good. Compared to 25 years ago, for example, there are incredibly higher housing costs in many places, high costs for two workers commuting long distances between jobs and affordable homes, much higher health insurance and medical costs, remarkably higher college costs, and other rising expenses that never seem to be captured by the government’s official inflation figures.

Listen to Turley K. Hayes of Topeka, Kansas – a relatively low cost of living area: “I earn a gross income of $81,000 and support my disabled domestic partner. My NET income from this (after taxes, insurance, Social Security, Medicare, Co-Pays for medical) is down to $46,435. My partner and I live paycheck to paycheck, as prices have risen. The ‘money’ specialists say we haven't had inflation. Tell that to me after I go to JC Penney and buy a new pair of workshoes, identical to the ones I bought last year and pay $21.34 more (and that was after a 10% discount coupon). There is inequality, those at the low end can get help, those at the high end don't need it. Those of us in the middle are suffering because we make too much to get help and not enough to save for anything.” But that schmuck David Brooks tells the world that such household incomes are just fine. How many households below the median can afford to send a child to even a state college and also save for retirement, because virtually no one gets a pension anymore?

As to economic inequality: Adjusted for inflation, wages rose about 11.5 percent from 1979 to 2006 for those at the median. Those near the bottom of the wage scale saw their pay rise just 4% during that time, while the incomes of those at the top rose 34%. That’s unfair distributional economics. If you are in the Upper Class, you could care less. But most Americans feel economic anxiety, because direct experience tells them that they are close to – or moving closer to – economic disaster. They are just one serious illness or job loss away from requiring government welfare assistance, losing their home, and going bankrupt.

It pays to be rich. In 2004, just about 25,000 taxpayers took home over $5 million. They paid an average 21.9 percent of their incomes in federal income tax. Back in 1952, at the height of the Korean War, the comparable federal tax bite on America’s richest 25,000 averaged 51.9 percent. About a decade earlier, in the middle of World War II, the 25,000 highest-income taxpayers paid 68.4 percent of their incomes in federal income tax. Public policy has helped the rich because the rich have shaped public policy.

True, Americans generally have many more possessions than in the past. But that results from all household adults working – and usually longer hours on the job and at home – than in the past. Is this progress? Economic data say little about quality of life. American insanity is that people are driven by advertising, easy credit and pop culture to consume compulsively even if it means increasing personal risk through excessive borrowing. The visibility of the Upper Class causes 80 percent of the population to fantasize that they too can become rich. But the odds are against that. More realistic is sinking into poverty during their work years or when they retire without a good pension and with uncertain Social Security.

The Third Way’s report and status quo power elites love to say that more education is the solution. Is this another lie? Americans have become more educated. In 1970, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that only 75 percent aged 25-29 had completed high school. In 2004, that increased to nearly 90 percent. Similarly, in 1970, only 16 percent of Americans in their late 20s held a four-year college degree. By 2004, that nearly doubled to 29 percent.

Something else doubled since 1970: the share of national income that goes to America's richest 1 percent. The share going to average Americans, by contrast, has dropped. Average Americans in the bottom 90 percent of the nation's income distribution took home 67 percent of U.S. income in 1970. This dropped to only 53 percent in 2004, despite higher education levels! It continues to drop. Education does not necessarily work. Why?

Education doesn’t determine how income and wealth get distributed. What does? Politics – or more correctly corrupt politics – does. Many political decisions — taxes, trade, labor rights, health care, regulations, banking, privatization, farm subsidies — have tilted income and wealth to the top. And not just during Republican administrations. More Americans must understand the linkage between a delusional democracy based on corrupt politics and delusional prosperity for the masses.

The trends are clear. There really is a war on the middle class. "We're creating tomorrow's poor, people who once saw themselves as part of the middle class but financially can no longer make it there,” said Elizabeth Warren of the Harvard Law School.

The power elites running and ruining our country have no interest in closing the bipartisan economic inequality gap. Want to do something? Stop voting for Democrats and Republicans that support free trade globalization and illegal immigration. Vote for anyone in favor of increasing taxes on the wealthy and eliminating corporate handouts and welfare. Trust true populists. Use your consumer power: Stop pissing away your money on consuming more unnecessary “must have” (and probably imported) crap that keeps our debt ridden economy afloat and makes the rich richer. Start saving for that rainy day. It’s coming for most of us. Because national prosperity is not personal prosperity for most of us.

Posted by Joel S. Hirschhorn at February 21, 2007 8:44 AM
Comments
Comment #209140

But Joel, but Joel, The economy is doing better than ever, you must be a Bush hater. But Joel, but Joel the multinationals are doing great profits are at record highs, you must be a socialist. But Joel, But Joel the poor are better off than ever before you must be well … exactly right.

Posted by: j2t2 at February 21, 2007 9:21 AM
Comment #209141

You have a couple of technical problems that unbalance your data.

#1 Since 1972, the number of people making more than $100,000 has gone up 13%. This is good. 13% more Americans are well off. The population went up by 30% does not indicate that the middle class is shrinking. You are comparing two different things. One is a relative measure and the other a general one. 13% more people making the big bucks relative to those who were making it before. The fact that population rose by 30% is irrelevant. If incomes had stagnanted, nobody would make anymore. General population growth would have no effect.

#2 median is median. 50% are above and 50% below. When you say that the median went up by 11+ % it means that most Americans are doing better. The rich got a bigger share of the total gain, but nobody is worse off. Since it is adjusted for inflation, the idea that the cost of living has risen is already factored in.

#3 education. Education is the big determiner of income. When you talk about the general population becoming better educated, it is true, but then you compare the relative performance and the two are now apples and oranges.

In any society anywhere and anytime, half of all the people earn below median income and 20% fall into the lowest quintile of earnings. It can be stated to seem very ominous, but it is merely a statistical fact.

Income inequality is a problem, but you have to diagnose the right one. The poor have gotten richer. It is just the rich have gotten richer faster. Beyond that, this is a worldwide trend that has been going on for a generation. Tax rates do not significantly affect it. If you look at the GINI coefficients, they DROPPED in 2001 and 2002 (for those who do not now GINI is a measure of inequality. Lower is more equality) despite tax cuts. The general economy is more important and when the economy declined, so did inequality. It is a high price to pay if you have to lose real money to gain relative equality.

Posted by: Jack at February 21, 2007 9:34 AM
Comment #209148

Joel

Numbers are not my strong point. I often get lost when people start making all the comparisons and using the various factors that determine the health of our economy. But one thing I have understood for a long time is that statistics are maliable and can easily be twisted to serve the needs of those throwing them out there. I do believe that insureing the presence of a subserviant middle class has been on the agenda of the upperclass since the inception of this country. Anyone who would deny this either does not care, has never given it consideration, or simply does not want to deal with the complications of class distinctions. The biggest problem is that the majority of people do not have the time, desire, or knowledge to sit down and study all these numbers and make an individual assesment on their own. So they simply sit back and put their complete trust and faith in those who do so. The middle class has been molded and trained over the last two hundred and thirty years to accept and not question with a lot of vigor our place in society. In essence those who control the money have us right where they want us. They buy and own the politicians who write the laws to favor the wealthy. They hire the economists who manipulate the factors to present the statistics that present favorable but not completely accurate reflections of the state of our economy. And I am sure they are laughing and counting their new found fortunes all the way to the bank at the growing economic disparity between classes.

IMO you have presented an excellent article fairly and clearly depicting the reasons behind the growing disparity and why americans should be concerned. Thank you for so clearly defining what I have always found so hard to express.

After following this blog for a few months now I am increasingly seeing the value and realizing the importance of the independant voter. I may soon be changing my name to ILindpt

Posted by: ILdem at February 21, 2007 10:35 AM
Comment #209158

“I may soon be changing my name to ILindpt”

ILdem, I ask you to reconsider that thought. If all the liberals desert the Democratic Party, all the country will be left with is Republican Lites and Republicans controlling our future for years to come. A while back, I left with the same thoughts that you are having now, then returned — because I feel the Democratic Party is worth trying to save. Why bother? Because Liberals need to have a major voice, not a minor one and we need to drag our party back to where it belongs on the left, not let it go more and more to the right in reaction to the neo-cons.
That being said, I think that the move toward third parties is a good one — and that’s why I often vote third party at the local level. These things need to be built from the ground up if they’re ever going to grow into something truly powerful and influential.

Joel, excellent article.

Posted by: Adrienne at February 21, 2007 11:39 AM
Comment #209160

j2t2, Funny!
Yes, haven’t you heard?
This goldi-locks economy is wonderful.
Nevermind that it is being propped up by massive debt, spending, borrowing, and excessive money-printing.

Here are some major points to substantiate what Joel Hirschhorn is talking about:

  • [01] Median incomes have fallen. No wonder Michiganders are upset. Median incomes fell significantly since 1999.

  • [02] The rich are getting richer, because in 1980, 1% of the U.S. population had 20% of all wealth in the U.S. However, now in 2007, 1% of the U.S. population now has 40% of all wealth:

    Look above. It’s actually never been worse since the Great Depression of 1929.

  • [03] Inflationist practices erode savings, hammer the poor, hammer those on fixed incomes, and creates economic instability. Look at the inflationist practices and skyrocketing CPI since 1950.
  • [04] There is nothing wrong with being wealthy. But there is something wrong with abusing wealth to control government and fleece other citizens. A good example of that is the fact that a tiny 0.15% of all 200 million eligible U.S. voters made a massive 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more in 2002). Government is FOR-SALE. How can the remaining 99.85% of all eligible U.S. voters compete against that? One obvious solution is to stop re-electing bought-and-paid-for politicians and call for an ARTICLE V Convention to raise voter awareness and education, to hopefully bring about many common-sense, no-brainer reforms that do-nothing, bought-and-paid-for, look-the-other-way politicians ignore (not to mention ignoring ARTICLE V of the Constitution). And those politicians will continue to ignore the nation’s pressing problems as long as voters keep rewarding them for it.

  • [05] Education is increasingly expensive and unaffordable, except for the wealthy. Many graduates (and non-graduates) are being buried in massive debt. The public education system is also increasingly expensive and declining in quality.

  • [06] The nation is swimming in debt.
    The nation-wide personal debt is over $20 trillion.
    Social Security is $12.8 trillion in debt (source: CATO Institute)
    The National Debt is $8.75 trillion and growing fast.
    Medicare is a trainwreck, with many hundreds of billions of unfunded liabilities for the next year.
    The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. (PBGC) is $450 billion (or more) in the hole.
    The nation-wide debt is over $42 trillion.
    The interest on the $8.75 trillion National Debt is over $1 billion per day!
    The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are staggering in terms of lives lost (from an unnecessary war started over false and/or trumped-up intelligence about non-existent WMD), and monetarily (over $360 billion in Iraq thus far).

  • [07] The nation is losing over $70 billion per year in net losses due to illegal immigration. Politicians refuse to enforce the laws. Democrats want votes. Republicans want cheap labor. Most voters want it stopped. Politicians are despicably pitting U.S. citizens and illegal aliens against each other, competing for tax-payer resources, hospitals, education, welfare (32% of illegal aliens receive welfare), healthcare, etc. 29% of all incarcerated in federal prisons are illegal aliens. Yet, the voters keep rewarding politicians for ignoring them and ignoring the existing laws, by repeatedly re-electing those politicians.

  • [08] Healthcare is becoming increasingly unaffordable, and dangerous too. JAMA reported over 2.2 million hospitalized patients in 1994 had serious Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) and 106,000 were fatal, making these drug reactions the 5th or 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.! On 27-July-2004, HealthGrades.com reported that “An average of 195,000 people in the U.S. died due to potentially preventable, in-hospital medical errors in each of the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, according to a new study of 37 million patient records”.

Joel Hirschhorn is right.
There is a war (of sorts) on the middle-class.
However, the middle-class has themselves to thank for it also, because there is one very simple solution that has been right under their very own noses, all along. It is the one simple thing they were supposed to be doing all along, always:

  • Reform Government Peacefully.
  • Stop Repeat Offenders.
  • Stop Rewarding and Empowering Irresponsible, Bought-and-Paid-for, Look-the-Other-Way, Incumbent Politicians !
  • Stop Re-Electing Bad Politicians !
  • Demand Common-sense, No-brainer Reforms Now!
  • Between 1997 and 2006, Congress voted itself 8 raises.

    • For what?

    • For starting unnecessary wars, and shirking their duty to declare war, and letting the Executive Branch grab more power ?
    • ?
    • For ignoring illegal immigration laws ?

    • For pitting American citizens and illegal aliens against each other?

    • For 6 cases per day of eminent domain abuse?

    • For running up massive debt, borrowing, waste, spending, pork-barrel, graft, and excessive money-printing?

    • For blunder after blunder in Iraq, and the consequential loss of life due to it ?

    • For peddling influence (83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more in 2002) come from less than 300,000 people).?

    • For pandering and perpetuating the myth that we can all live at the expense of everyone else?

    • For bribing voters with their own tax dollars?

    • For spending all their time campaigning and trolling for big-money donors and money to fill their campaign war chests?

    • For looking the other way when pedophile peers are hitting on Pages?

    • For a multitude of cover-ups and more concern over who leaked than the crime itself?

    • For torture (ask Spc. Sean Baker about that) ?

    • For spying on Americans without civil oversight?

    • For a stupid, abused, and overly complex (for nefarious reasons) tax system?

    • For tax cuts almost entirely for the wealthy only?

    • For alienatiing our allies world-wide?

    • For refusing to address Campaign Finance and Election reforms?

    • For Gerrymandering?

    • For tampered and defective voting machines (and privatized voting machines?)?

    • For a dysfunctional legal system that executes and encarcerates the innocent and lets the guilty off easy?

    • For abused presidential pardons (such as the 546 by Clinton; 140 on his last day in office)?

    • For rampant corporate fraud, cooking the books, investor and stock fraud?

    • For corprate welfare, pork-barrel, graft, and massive waste ?

    • For refusing a common-sense, no-brainer ONE-PURPOSE-PER-BILL ?

    • For pretending Homeland Security is important, and ignoring wide-open borders and ports?

    • For a bloated government that grows and grows to nightmare proportions?

    • For selling out American workers?

    • For poor planning and energy vulnerabilites, despite the D.O.E.’s $25 billion annual budget?

    • For the ever present, insidious, destabilizing inflation?

    • For for continuing to plunder Social Security surpluses; replaceing them with worthless bonds?

    • For the decling quality and rising cost of public education and the rising cost of college?

    • For the unaffordability of healthcare?

    • For usurious interest rates (24% or higher); never mind most courts don’t uphold civil suits for loans at over 10% because it is considered usury?

    • For ignoring the multitude of problems with Medicare and Social Security as they keep sailing directly toward the titanic iceberg ?

    • For fiscal and moral bankruptcy?

    But other than that, and the nation’s other numerous pressing problems being ignored, everything is rosy.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 21, 2007 11:57 AM
    Comment #209171
    ILdem wrote: After following this blog for a few months now I am increasingly seeing the value and realizing the importance of the independant voter. I may soon be changing my name to ILindpt

    ILDem, Good idea!

    That doesn’t mean voting for a candidate of ANY party is right or wrong.

    Voting for the best candidate, always, regardless of suppposed party affiliation is the right thing to do.

    Voters should try to reject those that tell them that their vote is wasted if it isn’t for THEIR party.
    Some will tell you a vote for a third party or independent is a wasted vote.
    Nevermind that your vote might be the the OTHER party had the independent option not been available.
    That is another powerfully deceptive practice perpetuated by blind party loyalists.

    Independent voters provide a very important and valuable service to the nation.
    Independent voters have no blind loyalty to the either of the Democrat or Republican parties, and therefore, are a potent check and balance on both.

    Competition and more choices is a good thing.
    Of course, the main-party loyalists won’t agree.
    I used to be one of them myself.
    So, I understand how powerfully effective the circular partisan warfare is at distracting, dividing, and pitting Americans against each other over worthless minutia while the nation’s more pressing probems are continually ignored.

    Some people say things like

    If third parties can’t win offices, what good are they to the voter?

    So, if third parties and independents are no “good”, then why worry?

    If third parties and independents are no “good”, then why were some Democrats working hard to keep Nader off the ballots in some states? Why were Nader and Badnarik denied access to ballots and national debates?
    Why were Republicans so upset with Perot?
    Why were Democrats so upset with Nader?
    Why? Because they are competition that the two-party duopoly don’t like. In fact, they despise them, and tell voters that their vote is wasted if they vote for a third party candidate or independent (translated: any vote for anyone other than OUR candidate is a wasted vote). Nevermind that the vote may go to the opposing party had the third party choice not existed.

    There are a growing number of voters that are beginning to understand that the two-party duopoly, Do-Nothing Congress, and arrogant Executive Branch are ignoring the nation’s most pressing problems, allowing those serious problems to grow in number and severity.

    Voters are basically lazy.
    That’s not said with malice, but it is a fact of human nature that we fail to account for when we attempt to design governments, organizations, and societies.
    We fail by forgetting the importance of Transparency (visibility), and Accountability (deterrent via law enforcement), and Education (prerequisite to avoid repeating history).

    While voters are basically lazy, pain trumps lazy.
    When the consequences of the voters’ laziness finally becomes too painful, people will become more interested, more educated, and more responsible.

    At the moment, too many voters don’t know what to do, as the two-main-party duopoly grows increasingly corrupt and dysfunctional, which is increasing the number of independent and third party voters.

    This “not knowing what to do” seems somewhat apparent by the tiny lead (see graph) that each main-party has had during the last decade (see graph between 1996 and 2006). It appears voters really don’t see much difference between the two main parties.

    That trend will change drastically when the painful consequences of the 30+ years of so much fiscal irresponsibility (i.e. massive debt, out-of-control debt, borrowing, spending, excessive money-printing, plundering Social Security & Medicare surpluses, inevitable consequences of the demographics, etc.) finally catch up with us. That is when that graph (above) will change drastically, becoming much more volatile, and Congress will no longer get to enjoy their cu$hy, coveted 90%+ re-election rates.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 21, 2007 12:21 PM
    Comment #209176

    d.a.n.

    It does not matter what you write, I am always ultra interested in seeing what you say. You have the print style of some one in marketing. I look at it and I am like “ooh! whats this!”. =)


    Joel,

    As a college student who made just under $10,000 in 2006 (just got my taxes done so new numbers ya’ll) and is financially comfortable in our economy and self-supporting, I must contest.

    American debt is because of poor spending and being incapable of balancing a budget.

    American consumerism is foolish and wasteful.

    If you want to get work boots, don’t go to JC Penny (one of the highest mark-up retail chains on the planet), instead go to Ross and get the same thing of the same brand for 1/3 the cost.

    When I was married, I was supporting my wife, her best friend, and her best friends mom of less than $20,000 a year. It was easy.

    People are wasteful on junk they don’t need, that is why they are suffering.

    The rich get richer because they are better with money. There is no more to it than that.

    If you are broke making over $25,000 a year, then you do not know how to balance a budget and should not be debating economics.

    P.S. The median is always the middle. 50% is always above and 50% is always below. If it goes up that means the average income has gone up which means people who were below the median got more money.

    Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at February 21, 2007 12:52 PM
    Comment #209178

    Funny:

    Some posters oversimplify, and some include every issue ever in every post.

    Posted by: womanmarine at February 21, 2007 1:01 PM
    Comment #209182

    One of the problems is that both sides have a different definition of “middle class” and they are both wrong. Republicans tend to overestimate the size of the middle class and the Democrats tend to underestimate it.

    The Republicans need to realize that people making millions are not middle class.
    The Democrats need to realize that that people making hundreds of thousands are not rich.

    Posted by: TheTraveler at February 21, 2007 2:09 PM
    Comment #209186
    womanmarine wrote: Funny: Some posters oversimplify, and some include every issue ever in every post.
    : )

    Bryan AJ Kennedy,
    Thanks!

    The Traveler wrote: The Republicans need to realize that people making millions are not middle class. The Democrats need to realize that that people making hundreds of thousands are not rich.
    True.

    It makes you wonder if they are really in touch with reality or simply mathematically challenged.

    Did any of these bozos take economics?
    But, these days, that may not be of much use, with all the widely accepted inflationist practices and theories.

    The middle-class is systematically getting squeezed by a number of things that are largely a result of irresponsible incumbent politicians.

    However, those same voters keep rewarding them for it, by repeatedly re-electing them, and it won’t get better until voters stop doing that.

    Unfortunately, the circular partisan warfare distracts too many voters from substantive issues, and taps-into the voters’ laziness, by tricking them into blindly pulling the party-lever (i.e. straight-ticket), blindly voting only for candidates in THEIR party with no regard for who is truly the most quailified, demonizing the OTHER party, and wallowing in the petty partisan warfare while problems continue to grow, threatening the future and security of the nation.

    Therefore, the blame does not only lie with the irresponsible incumbent politicians.
    Half of the blame lies with the voters themselves, who keep rewarding and empowering the bad politicians, by repeatedly re-electing them, regardless of the corruption (such as Rep. Jefferson Williams who got re-elected), crimes, and incomptence.

    Also, the majority of voters are the ones that will suffer the inevitable consequences.

    Not the politicians who have already gotten theirs, their cu$hy retirement plans, and their golden parachutes (paid for by the tax payers).

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 21, 2007 2:59 PM
    Comment #209189

    d.a.n.

    “Did any of these bozos take economics?”

    I think we had a discussion about this a few months ago.

    I am pretty sure the consensus was that there were currently no politicians at the federal level who majored in Bus. Admin., Accounting, or Economics.

    Still a scary thought.

    Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at February 21, 2007 3:09 PM
    Comment #209194
    People are wasteful on junk they don’t need, that is why they are suffering.

    That’s true and it is probably true most of the time.
    Many people are simply lazy and irresponsible.

    There are exceptions, such as:

    • the elderly with health problems, and have been bankrupted by healthcare expenses, surgeries, etc.

    • Some people are quite simply not that bright.

    • Some people are mentally ill.

    • Sometimes, bad things happen. Accidents. Sometimes, beyond our control.

    Of course, I don’t think you meant to exclude those exceptions.

    I think Jack would agree with you completely that many (perhaps most) Americans are fiscally irresponsible. He often says our poor are not that poor compared to the poor of some other nations. That’s true.

    But, look at government. It sets a fine example for fiscal responsibility doesn’t it?
    The nation is swimming in debt (over $42 trillion, nation-wide). Even Jack recognizes that trainwreck that is on the way. Therefore, this is not the time to celebrate this luke-warm economy, because it is OK only because it is being propped-up by massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money-printing.

    What is worrisome about all the debt and fiscal irresponsibility is where it is most likely headed.

    • What will happen to Social Security?

    • Do you believe those that say everything is OK?
      Nevermind that its surpluses are being plundered, and the so-called surplus is worthless government bonds.

    • What will happen to Medicare?

    • What will happen to pensions (with the PBGC $450 billion in the hole)?

    • What effect will the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have on these other systems?

    • What effect will the growing $8.75 trillion National Debt have on the over all bugdet (currently costing $1 billion per day in interest)?

    • What will this all do to inflation?

    • With so much debt, and so much pressure to keep up with the $1 billion per day of interest, the unfunded liabilities for entitlements, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Katrina, and increasing global competition, will government do as many have, and simply start printing more money? Probably.

    • What will the trend for the next few decades be with so much debt? Not just $22 trillion of government debt, but $20 trillion of personal debt nation-wide?

    • What will happen to many of the elderly if Social Security and Medicare fails?

    • What happens if there is an energy crisis? That’s not at all far fetched. You’d think the D.O.E. could have done more with a budget of $25 billion per year.

    Some are trying to portray the economy as good, but it is an illusion made possible with massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money-printing.

    The possibility of a economic meltdown is not that far-fetched. If voters keep letting irresponsible incumbent politicians run the nation into the ground, it may become a certainty.
    If you look at the math, the amount of interest associated with the debt, the nefarious inflationist practices, the growing corruption and irresponsibility of government, the growing corpocrisy and corporatism, and the voters that keep rewarding politicians for all of it, a major correction of some kind is not at all far fetched.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 21, 2007 3:43 PM
    Comment #209195


    We must never allow patriotism interfere with business decisions. Greed causes blindness. No one can rationalize better than a share holder.

    Posted by: jlw at February 21, 2007 3:43 PM
    Comment #209199

    You have a point, but only if you assume income inequality is a bad thing.

    In my view it is not.

    Especially when it comes to people who are, as d.a.n put it, simply not that bright.

    Posted by: Zeek at February 21, 2007 4:25 PM
    Comment #209203

    Brian

    President Bush has an MBA. Maybe that is why the economy is growing so well and maybe why others cannot understand it.

    Posted by: Jack at February 21, 2007 4:35 PM
    Comment #209207

    Inequality is not bad always bad.
    Inequality is a fact of life we can not change.
    Unfairness is bad.
    Unfairness may be a fact of life.
    But unfairness should never be acceptable.
    What we have going on in America is a number of things that are not fair.
    Government is FOR-SALE.
    That’s not fair.
    The ultra wealthy (only 0.15% of all 200 million voters) drastially out-spend the majority of voters (99.85%).
    Wealth is OK, but using it to control government is not OK.
    Also, laws are not being sufficiently enforced, as evidenced by investor and stock fraud and many companies cooking the books.
    Politicians ignore the illegal immigration laws, and are despicably pitting Americans and illegal aliens against each other.
    The middle class will thrive when they have a level playing field. That should not be accomplished by soaking the wealthy. But existing laws should be enforced, and common-sense reforms are needed to put an end to government FOR-SALE.

    jlw wrote: No one can rationalize better than a share holder
    Yes, greed is a powerful motivation.
    • Some regulation is needed, otherwise there WILL be manifestations of unchecked greed. The problem now (e.g. Enron, stock fraud, investor fraud, cookin’ the books, plundering Social Security surpluses, excessive money printing, incessant inflation (by design), legal plunder, etc.) is the failure to enforce the existing laws.
    • Some taxes are needed, or government has no way to accomplish anything, and it is folly to think otherwise. The problem now is a ridiculously complex and unfair tax system with loop-holes galore abused by many of the wealthy and irresponsible, FOR-SALE politicians in an increasingly corrupt and dysfunctional government.
    Blind party loyalism is right up there too, because of its power to manipulate others.

    Especially around election time.
    I know. I used to be one of them.
    Those evil [insert OTHER party] are the cause of all the nation’s problems.
    A vote for [insert OTHER party] is a wasted vote.
    It’s interesting to watch the loyalists getting all twisted in everywhich direction to explain THEIR party’s position, actions, etc. And if they can’t explain it, just don’t talk about it. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Or, better yet, blame the OTHER party for being worse. That’s what we have these days. The two party duopoly spend a great deal of time and effort trying to prove who is more corrupt. This ought be telling us something. But never, ever underestimate the power of the circular, divisive, time-wasting, seductive, and distracting partisan warfare. It is a powerfully effective control-mechanism.

    Jack wrote: President Bush has an MBA. Maybe that is why the economy is growing so well and maybe why others cannot understand it.
    Jack, this luke-warm economy is being propped up by massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money-printing.

    What do you think the economy would look like without that?
    Even you have written about what you call:

    • the entitlements iceberg we are sailing toward

    • demographics are just going to smash us

    So, what do we have to celebrate?
    What do you think is going to happen?
    Yeah, yeah, you are going to say Bush tried to address Social Security.
    That’s a laugh.
    He didn’t try very hard.
    He could have at least recommended that they stop spending the surpluses, but he didn’t.
    He simply wanted to make it look like the OTHER party was to blame.
    And, if he was worried about entitlements, why did he turn around and create another huge entitlement program (e.g. the Medicare Prescription drug plan)?
    And where is Bush’s veto pen.
    Why doesn’t he veto some of the record level pork-barrel?

    What remains to be seen is what the next administration is going to do with the huge [expletive]ing mess Bush has left us with. In my opinion, Bush is incompetent which is only exceeded by his arrogance. His blunders would fill volumes. There’s little doubt he will go down as one of the worst presidents ever. If for no other reason than starting an unnecessary war based on flawed and/or trumped-up intelligence, and then trying to say “we found the weapons of mass destruction” which was not true. Some, understandably, might call that a war-crime. And do you really think another 21,500 troops will solve anything in Iraq? Bush does, but then he’s like a broken record. All he knows is stay the course no matter how far off course it is.

    It’s going to take some really, truly creative rationalizing to explain away all of those 99+ blunders.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 21, 2007 5:12 PM
    Comment #209220

    d.a.n, this is just my impression and I do not have the statistics to back this up, but there seems to be a backlash against CEO’s recently. At least, I seem to be seeing a lot more top executives getting caught/scrutinized for unscrupulous business practices. Not that this means the problem is solved, but I do not think this is something that is particularly out of order at the moment.

    As for illegal immigration… it would not be such a problem if the U.S. just let more people in legally and kept track of them. Of course, that is a debate that will probably go on for some time without ever really being solved.

    But what you are ultimately addressing are the ineptitudes of government. This topic however seems to be attacking the idea of rich people getting richer and poor people getting richer at a far slower rate.

    Posted by: Zeek at February 21, 2007 6:52 PM
    Comment #209221
    Zeek wrote: But what you are ultimately addressing are the ineptitudes of government.
    Yes, that is 50% of the problem. The other 50% of the problem is voters themselves, because they keep re-electing bad politicians.
    Zeek wrote: This topic however seems to be attacking the idea of rich people getting richer and poor people getting richer at a far slower rate.
    First, there’s nothing wrong with being wealthy, as long as that wealth is not obtained immorally or illegally, and as long as the wealthy do not abuse their power to control government. That is exactly what is happening, because 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more in 2002) came from only 01.5% of all 200 million eligible voters. That’s an average of $6667 per person from only 300,000 people. The remaining 99.85& of all 200 million eligible voters averaged only $2 per person.

    Still, voters keep re-electing the same bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians.

    Zeek wrote: As for illegal immigration … it would not be such a problem if the U.S. just let more people in legally and kept track of them.
    The U.S. already lets millions immigrate legally annually.

    The U.S. is not obligated to let everyone come here.
    That policy will ensure that illegal aliens will move from country to country, using up all the resources, and ruining everything for everybody.
    Massive, uncontrolled immigration (legal or not) is a recipe for chaos, economic problems, resentments, and societal disorder.

    We do not need to let more in legally.
    How is importing the less educated and impoverished helping the U.S. ?

    As for keeping track of them, politicians do not want to keep track of them.
    Democrats want votes.
    Republicans want cheap labor.
    Voters want it stopped.
    But voters keep rewarding politicians for it.

    Look at this list of 51 Congress persons that voted to give Social Security benefits to illegal aliens.

    Prominent names on that list are:

    • Hillary Clinton

    • Barack Obama

    • John McCain

    • Joe Biden

    • Joe Lieberman

    • Ted Kennedy

    What’s wrong with these [expletive]s ?
    Doesn’t it matter to them that a vast majority of Americans are against that?
    Social Security already has enough problems without letting illegal aliens participate in it.
    Illegal aliens are already collecting receiving plenty of benefits from the U.S. (to the tune of $70 billion per year in annual net losses to U.S. tax payers).

    Already, 32% of illegal aliens receive welfare.
    29% of all incarcerated in federal prisons are illegal aliens.
    Increased crime rates are another obvious problem.
    95% of all warrants for homicide in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.
    While most come to look for work, many come for the welfare and the crime.

    President Bush wants amnesty for illegal aliens. Do you agree with the President?
    A Polling Station poll of 9,174 people shows:
    ________ Yes ______ No _______ Undecided
    Dem ____ 27.6% ____ 60.1% ____ 12.3%
    Ind ____ 16.5% ____ 72.5% ____ 11.0%
    Rep ____ 10.9% ____ 81.3% ____ 7.8%
    18.4% believe amnesty is a good idea.
    71.2% do not believe amnesty is a good idea.
    10.4% were undecided.

    It seems pretty damn clear.
    Americans want it stopped now.
    But politicians choose to pit Americans and illegal aliens against each other.

    And it won’t end as long as voters keep rewarding politicians for it by repeatedly re-electing them.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 21, 2007 7:34 PM
    Comment #209222
    Zeek wrote: But what you are ultimately addressing are the ineptitudes of government.
    Yes, that is 50% of the problem. The other 50% of the problem is voters themselves, because they keep re-electing bad politicians.
    Zeek wrote: This topic however seems to be attacking the idea of rich people getting richer and poor people getting richer at a far slower rate.
    First, there’s nothing wrong with being wealthy, as long as that wealth is not obtained immorally or illegally, and as long as the wealthy do not abuse their power to control government. That is exactly what is happening, because 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more in 2002) came from only 01.5% of all 200 million eligible voters. That’s an average of $6667 per person from only 300,000 people. The remaining 99.85& of all 200 million eligible voters averaged only $2 per person.

    Still, voters keep re-electing the same bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians.

    Zeek wrote: As for illegal immigration … it would not be such a problem if the U.S. just let more people in legally and kept track of them.
    The U.S. already lets millions immigrate legally annually.

    The U.S. is not obligated to let everyone come here.
    That policy will ensure that illegal aliens will move from country to country, using up all the resources, and ruining everything for everybody.
    Massive, uncontrolled immigration (legal or not) is a recipe for chaos, economic problems, resentments, and societal disorder.

    We do not need to let more in legally.
    How is importing the less educated and impoverished helping the U.S. ?

    As for keeping track of them, politicians do not want to keep track of them.
    Democrats want votes.
    Republicans want cheap labor.
    Voters want it stopped.
    But voters keep rewarding politicians for it.

    Look at this list of 51 Congress persons that voted to give Social Security benefits to illegal aliens.

    Prominent names on that list are:

    • Hillary Clinton

    • Barack Obama

    • John McCain

    • Joe Biden

    • Joe Lieberman

    • Ted Kennedy

    What’s wrong with these [expletive]s ?
    Doesn’t it matter to them that a vast majority of Americans are against that?
    Social Security already has enough problems without letting illegal aliens participate in it.
    Illegal aliens are already collecting receiving plenty of benefits from the U.S. (to the tune of $70 billion per year in annual net losses to U.S. tax payers).

    Already, 32% of illegal aliens receive welfare.
    29% of all incarcerated in federal prisons are illegal aliens.
    Increased crime rates are another obvious problem.
    95% of all warrants for homicide in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.

    President Bush wants amnesty for illegal aliens. Do you agree with the President?
    A Polling Station poll of 9,174 people shows:
    ________ Yes ______ No _______ Undecided
    Dem ____ 27.6% ____ 60.1% ____ 12.3%
    Ind ____ 16.5% ____ 72.5% ____ 11.0%
    Rep ____ 10.9% ____ 81.3% ____ 7.8%
    18.4% believe amnesty is a good idea.
    71.2% do not believe amnesty is a good idea.
    10.4% were undecided.

    It seems pretty damn clear.
    Americans want it stopped now.
    But politicians choose to pit Americans and illegal aliens against each other.

    And it won’t end as long as voters keep rewarding politicians for it by repeatedly re-electing them.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 21, 2007 7:35 PM
    Comment #209223

    Zeek,

    “the idea of rich people getting richer and poor people getting richer at a far slower rate.”

    On that subject, in all reality that is only fair, if one considers it is the rich who take all the risk and invest all the money.

    The poor work their forty hours, invest no extra effort, and invest no money, but still get a share of the rewards.

    In my personal opinion, that seems pretty fair to me, and I am on the bottom. My wages go up despite my having done nothing for the company other than what I was paid to do.

    Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at February 21, 2007 7:36 PM
    Comment #209225

    Adrienne and Dan

    I do appreciate your concern and understand both your points of view. I have in the past voted Republican at the state level. It was very hard to do but the alternative was so bad I had no choice. The arrogance, hypocracy and narrow minded life controlling views of most repubs turns my stomach. They are so wrapped up and self absorbed in themselves and the preservation of their party that the needs of the people seem to take a backseat to the needs of the party and interests of the wealthy. On top of all that they seem to be consumed in corruption and deceptive practices so much that I am not sure they can be fully trusted on any matter.

    To me the Dems values have always more closely represented mine. They are the more compassionate party and in my view have generally held the needs of the people above the party needs. They to have had their problems in the past with corruption. I am hoping that the most recent election has given them a recognizable mandate that it is time for government to clean up their act. I am expecting broad ethics and campaign reform between now and the next election. To me that would be a true indicator that they are on the right track and do indeed recognize the needs and wants of the people of this country. And that they do plan to move in the direction of those desires. In my view there is no more important issue than to remove the temptations of corruptive influences from government. Until we can put honest politicians who are willing to do their dealings in the open without the corruptive influences of money we will not be able to expect our government to work in our best interests.

    As Dan said the third party presents a means of checks and balances and allows one much more flexibility. I also see it as means to keep both parties honest. For the meantime I am retaining my dem status. But as the elections approach I may very well change that status depending on what achievments I see over the next 20 months or so.

    Posted by: ILdem at February 21, 2007 7:55 PM
    Comment #209227

    Jack

    “Brian

    President Bush has an MBA. Maybe that is why the economy is growing so well and maybe why others cannot understand it.”

    I am not sure what this says about getting an education. Maybe that anyone can get an MBA? Maybe that the wealthy can buy an MBA? Maybe that a degree is not a true indicator of intelligence?

    If I did have an MBA I do not think I would be particularly proud of the fact that George also has one. I would be embarrased to be placed in the same category to be honest.

    Posted by: ILdem at February 21, 2007 8:02 PM
    Comment #209236

    ILdem,
    You don’t have to follow my lead. I was just giving you my own perspective, for what it’s worth. Truthfully, I feel that my party has been hijacked by the DLC Dems (aka Republican Lite) almost as much as the GOP has been hijacked by the neo-cons.
    I didn’t come back to the Dems to become a mindless cheerleader for the party come-what-may. Instead, I came back to FIGHT to make it what it once was: The Populist Party that represents the Middle Class and the Poor. I won’t vote for Hilary Clinton if she gets the nomination. I can’t. Because I am no longer willing to ignore what my conscience tells me for ANY DLC Democrat. Never again.

    Joel:
    “They have attacked what are pejoratively called “neopopulists” – people who say the middle class is under siege. Surprisingly, the attack and economic propaganda have come from the relatively unknown Third Way group that is associated with the Democratic Leadership Council. Why would self-proclaimed progressives and centrists put out a report that says the whole economic inequality story is bogus?”

    Not surprising at all, IMO. And I don’t give a rat’s ass what pejoratives those people use against the liberals of middle class and the poor. We aren’t Neo-anything. We’re as just populist as we’ve always been. You ask why would they do such a thing? It’s very simple: The DLC Democrats AREN”T actually Progressive, or Liberal or Centrist. They give lip service to liberals and progressives about some issues because they think that’ll get them elected by the majority (after all, most people in this country don’t align with the religious right), but when it comes to kowtowing to the corporations, and accepting money for their campaigns from them, there isn’t any discernible difference between those people and those in the Republican Party. This is strangely why some claim that they’re “Centrist” but they aren’t that either. All you need to do is look at who voted for the bankruptcy bill to understand that.
    Aren’t we all aware of this by now?
    Down with the DLC Democrats!!!

    Posted by: Adrienne at February 21, 2007 9:18 PM
    Comment #209238

    Adrienne

    There was an article about you in the paper. It talked about the radical Dems now seek to destroy not only Republicans, but also moderate Dems. They are forgetting that the key to every Dem victory since 1964 has been to lean on the moderate Dems.

    Just as well.

    Posted by: Jack at February 21, 2007 9:31 PM
    Comment #209240

    Right Jack. Who’s your Daddy?

    Btw, nice breaking of the rules for participation.
    Not that you’ll get slapped or anything…

    Posted by: Adrienne at February 21, 2007 9:45 PM
    Comment #209241

    Adrienne

    I am sorry. I did not mean it as an insult. I just thought the story I read in the paper seemed to fit with your statement. If you find a story that you really think fits me, please feel free to mention it.

    Posted by: Jack at February 21, 2007 9:50 PM
    Comment #209245

    Okey-Dokey, Jack. Now this one doesn’t fit YOU exactly, but it sure as hell speaks volumes regarding the “loyalty and patriotism” of your standard GOP donor/plutocrat (and because no one else has written about it, and since I’ve no chance of ever being an editor here):
    Terrorist named a National Republican Senatorial Committee “Inner Circle Member for Life” and was appointed to the NRCC’s “White House Business Advisory Committee.” The resume also says Alishtari was named the NRCC’s New York state businessman of the year in 2002 and 2003.

    Posted by: Adrienne at February 21, 2007 10:07 PM
    Comment #209253
    ILDem wrote: Adrienne and Dan I do appreciate your concern and understand both your points of view. I have in the past voted Republican at the state level. It was very hard to do but the alternative was so bad I had no choice… .

    ILDem,
    Thank you for that considerate response.
    You’re right about most (if not all) of the Republican politicians.
    They lost it. Power corrupts.
    They lost it the same way the Democrats lost it in 1996. Power corrupts.
    Our memories are short.
    The IN-PARTY keeps losing it because they grow corrupt.
    So, the IN-PARTY trades places with the OUT-PARTY.
    The bad part is, they are now just taking turns, and enjoying 90%+ re-election rates.
    Shouldn’t voters be holding Congress (as a whole) responsible and accountable?
    Is a 90% re-election accomplishing that?
    If BOTH parties keep getting their turn at being the IN-PARTY, then what is wrong?
    Why are problems still being ignored?

    OK, there are some differences between the two parties, but I’m still not at all sure this last election changed that much, since over 90% of the same incumbent politicians are still there.
    The overall turnover was actually relatively small.

    The Republicans barely had the lead from 1996 to 2006. Now, the Democrats barely have the lead.

    Would anyone care to theorize why the re-election rates are so high (90% or higher) for the last decade (since 1996; see above) ?

    A look at the last 60 years is interesting.
    Perhaps voters should start looking at the results and accomplishments of Congress and the Executive Branch as a whole, and start holding all of them responsible, rather than letting the two-party duopoly take turns being irresponsible, as evidenced by the nation’s pressing problems that are still growing in number and severity?

    Otherwise, Congress as a whole they will never develop the peer-pressure to police their own ranks, and they’ll simply continue to look the other way, and, for the most part, continue to ignore the voters. And they are doing exactly that. Especially with regard to illegal immigration.

    The corruption will continue to grow as long as Congress enjoys a 90% re-election rate.
    Already, I have not seen much out of this 110th Congress.
    But, why should we, since 90% of the old bunch is still there?
    Congress is still:

    • ignoring campaign finance reform

    • ignoring illegal immigration; pitting Americans and illegal aliens against each other

    • ignoring border security and port security; without that, Homeland Security is a bit of a joke

    • ignoring plundered Social Security surpluses

    • ignoring the entitlements iceberg we are sailing directly toward

    • ignoring election reform

    • ignoring Gerrymandering

    • ignoring the $8.75 trillion National Debt

    • ignoring ethics reform, corruption, graft, and government FOR-SALE

    • ignoring ONE-PURPOSE-PER-BILL

    • ignoring eminent domain abuse

    • ignoring our energy vulnerability, which could be the catalyst for an economic meltdown

    • ignoring excessive money printing and inflation, which will probably get worse because of massive debt, and a complete lack of fiscal discipline

    • ignoring the plundered and insolvent pensions (the PBGC is over $450 billion in the hole)

    • ignoring the increasingly unaffordable and unreliable healthcare system; largely due to government meddling and two unnecessary middlemen (government and insurance companies)

    • ignoring common-sense, no-brainer tax reform for a ridiculously complex and abused tax system

    • ignoring the damage to our environment; global warming; the U.S. is a mere 4% of the world population, but emits 25% of the worlds CO2 emissions

    • nationwide debt and predatory lending practices; exacerbating a nation already swimming in massive debt (over $20 trillion of persoanl debt, nation-wide)

    • ignoring the selling out of Americans; globalization, and the race to the bottom

    ILDem wrote: But as the elections approach I may very well change that status depending on what achievments I see over the next 20 months or so.
    Me too. And I don’t care what party any politician belongs to. So far, what I’ve seen thus far, few (if any) deserve to be re-elected. Especially this bunch that want to give Social Security benefits to illegal aliens. That’s why, for over a year now, no one can name 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, or even 268 (half of 535) in Congress that:
    • aren’t irresponsible
    • aren’t FOR-SALE
    • aren’t bought-and-paid-for
    • don’t look-the-other-way
    • don’t pander and peddle influence
    • don’t spend most of their time trolling for big money donors rather than adequately addressing the nation’s problems
    • don’t vote on pork-barrel, graft, waste, and themselves cu$hy perk$ and 8 raises between 1997 and 2006 (that’s while our troops are risking life and limb)
    • and aren’t growing an already severely over-bloated government to nightmare proportions.
    Posted by: d.a.n at February 21, 2007 10:54 PM
    Comment #209271

    Joel,

    This is one of the best researched articles I’ve ever read. You did good. Hells bells, you did excellent.

    I would just ask that everyone check out the “Third Way” or either party, or any third party, or any independent before they buy the BS. Just know what you’re supporting.

    Something I find interesting is that we actually have divisions in the Democratis party. Romney’s shift to the right on gay issues and abortion issues combined with McCain’s ass-kissing of the religious right shows me we have two ways to go: Towards Theocracy or maintaining Democracy.

    We’ll see where we go from here.

    Posted by: KansasDem at February 22, 2007 12:33 AM
    Comment #209274

    Joel, fine article, excellent data backup of your article’s conclusions, and irrefutable conclusions for those who understand the statistical data and what it means.

    Simply put, my father worked as a welder for Ford and Mom stayed home with 7 kids, we had a 5 bedroom home and a car, and health insurance. All this on a welder’s wages. Today it takes two full time working adults to achieve that same level.

    Your stats regarding increases of wealth over time divided by the number of years does not equal the rate of inflation. And that says it all. This steady erosion of wages through inflation and bottleneck on wage increases, is indeed hurting the middle class, none more than those who will retire in the next 45 years.

    Voting Out Incumbents who push for globalization, so called “free trade” compacts, and who tout that our economy is good and going to get better, is the only way we American people are going to turn this thing around. Voting Out Republican Incumbents got the GOP’s attention last November and now they are fighting internally over how to win the people’s votes back.

    We need to Vote Out Democratic Incumbents in ‘08 to cause the same reevaluation in the Democratic Party. When politicians work for the people’s vote instead of the special interests funding their campaigns, the American Middle Class will be better represented in policy.

    Voting Out Incumbents is the ONLY guaranteed power granted to the American people by our Constitution to force change in government on their behalf. The people exercising that power is the greatest threat to the establishment and elites who profit from the system.

    Voting incumbents back into office term after term is the hallmark signature of government’s like Saddam Hussein’s, China’s, and Nazi Germany’s. Power’s first obligation is to preserve their power. Which is another way of saying those in office are self serving by definition.

    Spread the word. Voting Out Incumbents IS Democracy in action. Democracy allows the people to remove power from office without retaliation. What this country needs is a huge dose of Democracy. November was an excellent down payment on our recovering our democratic roots. Do NOT stop exercising that power in ‘08, grow it, instead!

    Posted by: David R. Remer at February 22, 2007 2:25 AM
    Comment #209280

    And it is the one simple thing we were supposed to be doing all along.
    Stop repeat offenders.
    Stop rewarding them for it.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 22, 2007 7:34 AM
    Comment #209284

    Adrienne

    Yes. And the Chinese contributed to Bill Clinton. Everybody has unsavory donors. The donor decides if he wants to give or not. He is self selected. If a crime boss wants to give $1000 to the DLC, nobody will be able to stop him and if he is not too notorious, nobody will notice. When you find them, you deal with it.

    David

    You will be on the Republican side (or at least fellow traveling) this next election, since Dems are the majority of the incumbents. D.a.n. too. I hope you both will remain consistent.

    Posted by: Jack at February 22, 2007 9:02 AM
    Comment #209290

    Jack, I will be. Voting Out Incumbents is not a numbers or party game, it is a matter of competence and responsibility. I advocate voting out incumbents who are irresponsible, unethical, or incompetent in representing the interests of the nation and the voters in that order.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at February 22, 2007 10:10 AM
    Comment #209293

    d.a.n

    “How is importing the less educated and impoverished helping the U.S. ?”

    For one thing, it fueled our housing boom as the low payed workers bought up all the lower income housing and thereby allowing millions of Americans to move to better houses.

    Second, immigrants do not need to be well educated to be doing the jobs that they are being paid to do (fruit picking, working as janitors, etc.). So I am not sure how that is an issue.

    I suppose the government does not strictly need to allow more of anyone in, but it certainly helps. Higher immigration being unpopular with U.S. citizens does not make immigrants any less useful.

    But coming back to the wealthy, I feel that more than anything you are just bringing this around to the government again.

    The fact that the wealthy of a great deal of influence on politicians is a political problem, not an economic one.

    Posted by: Zeek at February 22, 2007 11:03 AM
    Comment #209295

    Adrienne

    I hope I did not give the impression that I was insinuating you are a mindless supporter no matter what the circumstances. I have read to many of your posts to know that you are not of that shallow breed. I to believe in taking care of the poor and middle class of this country. We are what make it work. Without us it would be nothing and the wealthy would not be so without us. It is our responsibility as a compassionate people to take care of our own first at all costs. Those who put themselves before the many and look down on the less fortunate as a disease disgust me and I will never support their self righteous ideologies.

    It is the narrowing of that wall between the two parties that concerns me. I do not want a party that issues false promises and caters to large groups simply to court my vote as the republicans do. I desire a party that is genuine in their concerns and willing to pursue them. It is the corruptive influences of huge amounts of money and an almost guaranteed life of wealth beyond politics for our legislators that seems to set the agenda of legislation these days. It is these realities which seem to leave no option other than to somehow teach our legislators that we will no longer tolerate such practices. That option as I see it is the power of the vote.

    I think the fact that you vote your concience says it all. If more people did that our legislature and executive branch would be a much more respectable bunch simply because they would have to do the right thing to retain their jobs.

    Posted by: ILdem at February 22, 2007 11:20 AM
    Comment #209298

    Jack, OMG, I just realized I erroneously agreed that I would be on Republicans side in ‘08. Wrong!#(* My error. I apologize. I didn’t read your comment correctly.

    I can never be on Republicans or Democrats side ever again. As parties, I despise them both for the havoc they wreak on our nation and our people by putting reelection and party first, careers second, perks third, lobbyists and campaign donors fourth, and the nation and the people last.

    I am not above voting for a Republican or Democrat, but, NOT because they are one. If I vote for one, it is because of the person and the plan they bring to the table to solve national problems.

    I am currently represented by 3 Republicans in the House and Senate. I cannot vote for anyone of them. Not because they are Republican, but, because of their handling of their roles and votes on the issues. They are Sen. KB Hutchison, John Cornyn, and Rep. Lamar Smith.

    I don’t agree with their Iraq policies, their trickle down theory adherence, their foreign policy positions, their views on education, state’s rights, court nominations, election reform, campaign finance reform, or ethics reform. And of course I have been appalled at their dismal failure toward fiscal responsibility.

    I do agree with their policy on Border Security.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at February 22, 2007 11:41 AM
    Comment #209304

    Dan

    I can not disagree in anyway with your logic. It is loud, clear consice and quite obviously correct. At this juncture I am keeping an open mind. I do believe I have to give this current legislature the chance to show they have some balls and decency about them. Time will tell.

    Posted by: ILdem at February 22, 2007 1:07 PM
    Comment #209336
    Zeek wrote:
    d.a.n wrote: “How is importing the less educated and impoverished helping the U.S. ?”
    For one thing, it fueled our housing boom as the low payed workers bought up all the lower income housing and thereby allowing millions of Americans to move to better houses.
    Zeek, the net losses to U.S. taxpayers are over $70 billion per year.

    That is after accounting for the value of their labor, and about half that pay income taxes. After that, the losses are over $70 billion per year.

    Move to better houses?
    That’s debatable.
    Crediting that to illegal immigration is a stretch.
    Especially since most Americans don’t own those homes.
    Instead, they are deep in debt up to their eyeballs.
    The nation is swimming in massive debt like never before.
    Nation-wide personal debt is over $20 trillion.
    The federal government has set a fine example with over $22 trillion of total federal debt.
    Over $42 trillion of nation-wide debt is not a trivial matter.
    Along with the demographic issues, the approaching trainwreck of 77 million aging, soon-to-retire baby boomers, the nation-wide debt, growing global competition, corpocrisy and corporatism, government FOR SALE, energy vulnerabilites, looming shortages in the massive Social Security and Medicare systems, and massive, out-of-control illegal immigration, an economic meltdown in the not so distant future is not at all far fetched.

    Zeek wrote: Second, immigrants do not need to be well educated to be doing the jobs that they are being paid to do (fruit picking, working as janitors, etc.). So I am not sure how that is an issue.
    The issue is that illegal aliens are not a net benefit to the nation. Illegal aliens are costing U.S. taxpayers net losses of over $70 billion per year. And that does not even include the untold cost of crime, 2.3 million displaced American workers, and unemployment benefits to displaced workers.

    Zeek,
    The flaw in your conclusions is that you believe illegal aliens benefit the nation.
    They aren’t.
    They cost U.S. tax payers net losses of over $70 billion per year due to:

    • hospitals

    • burdens on our schools and eduation systems

    • burdens on our law enforcement systems

    • burdens on our prisons (29% of all incarcerated in the nation are illegal aliens)

    • burdens on Medicaid

    • burdens on our welfare systems (32% of all illegal aliens receive welfare)

    • burdens on the border patrol/security

    • burdens on our hospitals and ERs (84 overrun hospitals have closed in California)

    • burdens on our insurance systems

    • unemployment due to 2.3 million displaced American workers

    • voting fraud

    Losses in California alone are over $10 billion of that $70 billion.
    Border states are being overrun.

    • 95% of all warrants for homicide in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.
    • Six-month figures (in 12/31/2002) revealed a 3.3% increase in violent crime in California, including a 16% rise in homicides, over the same span in 2001.
    • In 2001, 87% of deportable aliens who received run letters later disappeared; a number that was even higher (94%) for illegal aliens from terror-sponsoring countries.
    • John Mullaly a former NYPD homicide detective, states 70% of the drug dealers and other criminals in Manhattan’s Washington Heights are were illegal aliens.
    • In 2004, an average of 2,000 illegal aliens stream across our borders daily. One illegal alien in Santa Barbara, California infected 56 other people with tuberculosis as reported on April 24, 2004, by the Santa Barbara Press-News, “Anatomy of an Outbreak”
    • 3.6 people are murdered each day by an illegal alien
    • The nation’s highways have become far more dangerous since they have been turned into smuggling thruways for criminals. 19-year-old Travis Smith of Mesa, Arizona, was killed in 2002 by a carload of illegal aliens being smuggled to Pennsylvania. The accident occurred near Monticello in southeastern Utah, as the car driven by illegal alien smuggler Isidro Aranda-Flores plowed head-on into Smith’s 1966 Mustang. The smuggler apparently fell asleep at the wheel.
    • PHOENIX: Television and radio stations began running ads in the Valley last week, paid for by the Coalition United to Secure America, attributing the 45% increase in homicides and 41% increase in home invasions to illegal aliens. Phoenix Police Department reports confirm those figures and Sgt. Tony Morales believes there is no doubt that the statistics are tied to illegal aliens.
    • 67% of 17,000 fugitive felony warrants in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens
    • According to statistics by the Salt Lake City Police Department (and verified by an independent study), 80% of all drug crimes in the City are committed by illegal aliens. In Salt Lake County, the equivalent number is 50%. That’s why Congressman Cannon is on the Immigration Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. He is working to insure that interior states, like Utah, are not overlooked in the war on illegal immigration.
    Zeek wrote: I suppose the government does not strictly need to allow more of anyone in, but it certainly helps.
    How does it help? How does massive immigration (legal or not) of the less educated and impoverished help ? Do you have and facts to support that conclusion? There are numerous studies to show that the net losses far outweigh any benefits (over $70 billion per year). Try to find some evidence that illegal aliens are helping. Moderate, controlled immigration might be OK, but not massive immigration (legal or not), because it creates chaos, burdens on social services, education systems, healthcare systems, law enforcement, welfare systems, it creates resentments, creates net losses to U.S. tax payers, and creates societal disorder. History proves it.

    And wanting to grow the population ever larger, as if we were in some sort of population race, makes no sense.
    Just ask China and India about it.
    Ask them how wonderful over-population is.

    Zeek wrote: Higher immigration being unpopular with U.S. citizens does not make immigrants any less useful.
    Useful for what? An under-paid, under-class to abuse? Cheap labor for Republicans? More votes for Democrats? Importing the less educated and impoverished makes no sense by any measure. That is, unless you want votes and cheap labor via illegally employment of illegal aliens.
    Zeek wrote: But coming back to the wealthy, I feel that more than anything you are just bringing this around to the government again. The fact that the wealthy of a great deal of influence on politicians is a political problem, not an economic one.
    It is BOTH. Government is FOR-SALE. 83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more in 2002) came from a mere 0.15% of all 200 million eligible voters. That is an abuse of wealth. Bought-and-paid-politicians that pander and peddle infuence is an abuse of power. And BOTH of those things are sabotaging the economy.
    Zeek wrote: I suppose the government does not strictly need to allow more of anyone in, but it certainly helps.
    Zeek, Have you really seriously studied this? How can it help when costs far outweigh the benefits? You can pick a lot of lettuce for the $70 billion per year of net losses to U.S. tax payers. BTW, I use a very conservative number of $70 billion per year. Some estimate it to be over $130-to-$200 billion per year.
    ILDem wrote: At this juncture I am keeping an open mind.
    That’s good. Me too. Really. Some don’t believe that, but it’s true. It wasn’t always. I used to be a blind party loyalist. But, this last election, I voted for some Democrats (the first time ever), some Independents, some Libertarians, and one Republican for a local office, who was running unopposed anyway. None were incumbents. I couldn’t vote for any incumbents, because all of them were irresponsible, ignored the voters, and refused to enforce existing laws. The were all fiscally irresponsible.

    What voters need to try to do, which is easier these days than ever before, is to look at the politician’s voting records (e.g. visit ontheissues.org and click on your state). Who would have thought Sen. John McCain would vote with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden, etc. to allow illegal aliens to receive Social Security benefits ?

    Too many voters don’t even know how THEIR politicians vote.
    If they did, they may vote a lot differently.
    One thing is for certain.
    Corrupt politicians will grow more corrupt as long as voters keep rewarding the for it.

    Jack wrote: You will be on the Republican side (or at least fellow traveling) this next election, since Dems are the majority of the incumbents. d.a.n. too. I hope you both will remain consistent.
    Jack, I won’t be on the side of any party. I’ll be looking at each politicians voting records. So far, I’m not impressed. I still can’t list 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, or even 268 (half of the 535) incumbent politicians in Congress) that are responsible, don’t look the other way, don’t vote on pork-barrel, don’t fuel the petty partisan warfare, don’t troll for money, aren’t bought-and-paid-for, and truly embrace many badly-needed, common-sense reforms.

    That’s pretty sad.
    But why should they be responsible when voters keep rewarding them for being irresponsible?

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 22, 2007 5:54 PM
    Comment #209364

    Brevity is the soul of wit.

    Posted by: Jack at February 22, 2007 8:35 PM
    Comment #209371

    Maybe so, it you trying to be witty.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 22, 2007 9:20 PM
    Comment #209372

    Jack,

    Since your genius MBA has made the economy so perfect, how about explaining to us morons how exactly he did that? I’m always a little amazed when a president causes an economy to do anything, given his lack of fiscal powers.

    I would also like an explaination of Iraq and this genius, but since I don’t want to derail an economic post we’ll stick to this bit of magic.

    Briefs are the whole of witless wedgies.

    Posted by: gergle at February 22, 2007 9:23 PM
    Comment #209377

    CORRECTION: Maybe so, it if you you’re trying to be witty.

    Jack, I was responding to three different persons. OK, I’m long winded, but thorough. : )

    So, you got an MBA Jack?

    Can you answer a few simple questions?

    • (1)What is going to happen when we finally hit the entitlements iceberg we’re sailing towards?

    • (2)If entitlements are bad, why did Bush and Congress create another huge entitlements system (i.e. the Medicare Prescription Drug plan)?

    • (3)What would this economy look like without the massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money printing (i.e. inflation over 1% is excessive) of the last 6 years?

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 22, 2007 10:16 PM
    Comment #209395

    Joel:

    I actually read most of the document you are writing about. It’s very balanced. It talks about the myths of the left and the right. This increases the credibility of the document. I think you are wrong in the way you deal with this paper. You have not mentioned it’s recommendations, or it’s view of the future.

    I would encourage you to read the document for yourself, and not rely on the predictable left or right charactorization.

    It’s thoughtful and provoking. And it’s optimistic about our countries future.

    In a nutshell, both the left and the right have myth’s about the current economy. (fair enough). And there are new rules for this economy.

    Old Rules
    1. Success required a high
    school diploma
    2. “Good” jobs were in factories
    3. Climbing the ladder meant
    rising up the ranks within a
    single company
    4. The American dream meant
    owning a home
    5. Wealth was managed on
    behalf of workers
    6. Most mothers expected to
    stay home
    7. A family raised its children
    8. Successful companies built
    9. Competition was limited


    New Rules

    1. Success requires a college
    degree
    2. “Good” jobs are in offices
    3. Climbing the ladder means
    chasing opportunities with
    multiple employers
    4. The American Dream means
    owning a home and a stock
    portfolio
    5. Workers need to manage their
    wealth
    6. Most mothers expect to work
    7. A family now raises children
    and cares for parents
    8. Successful companies create
    9. Competition is fierce

    These conclusions do not look like they should be slammed to me. Rather debated.

    I also think you have failed to look at “third-ways” concerns with the right. If I had relied on your article and not read the document for myself, I would have thought the paper was put out by the republican party. I think you should deal with the criticism this group has for the right. It’s pretty good.

    All in all, I would ecourage others to actually read the document. It’s pretty good!! Very balanced.

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 23, 2007 12:40 AM
    Comment #209396

    Craig, what an elitist downlooking list of new rules.

    1)Given that the majority of Americans are NOT college graduate material for various reasons, WHY should success depend on a college education? That is elitist rightist corporate values - and not healthy for our nation’s future.

    2)Good jobs overseas run the gamut from street vendor to corporate office with a great deal of industrial and manufacturing jobs in between. Why do you insist that America is not capable of becoming competitive with the rest of the world and leading the rest of the world to compete on a fair basis with the U.S.? More elitist ideology that underlies the transfer of good American jobs overseas.

    4) The American dream, is far, far more than your narrow vision of a home and stock portfolio. Money is only a small part of the American Dream established in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Your values reflected here are so short sighted and shallow. My American Dream doesn’t include a stock portfolio at all. For many Americans, the dream is to serve usefully, and productively their own skills and talents, their families, and their fellow human beings. Charity is a huge part of the American Dream, the giving of it, not receiving, and the greatest charity is not money usually given as part of a business plan and tax deducted and yielded up from largesse one can easily afford.

    5) Workers need to manage their wealth? My Buddha but what planet are you from. Half of American workers or more have no wealth, if wealth is defined as discretionary excess assets not needed for survival.

    6) Most mothers NEED to work to provide a middle class opportunity to their children.

    7) A middle class family trying to raise children will soon be unable to afford to assist their parents if Congress does not secure the future of the safety nets for retirees.

    8) Successful companies create WHAT? Many things actually, like pollution, monopolistic and oligopolistic practices, tax evasive lobbyists and strategies, diminished earning capacity for workers, and obstacles to their responsibility to take a long view competitive position in this shrinking global economy, in addition to jobs, sky high compensation for a few, and constant interference with democratic representation of the American people. 350 billion dollars that should be collected in taxes this year won’t be. Corporations are a very large percentage of that evasion. Very large, according to our own federal government and IRS.

    9) Competition is indeed fierce, between workers and management, between voters and politicians, between the future needs and present wants and desires of most less than wealthy people. And November’s election marked the beginning of all these becoming much fiercer.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at February 23, 2007 3:51 AM
    Comment #209413

    The main point is, the nation is in decline.

    • Home ownership? More like massive debt. Who owns who? Americans are becoming slaves to their debt. How many Americans truly own their homes?

    • Government is FOR-SALE, giving rise to corpocrisy and corporatism.

    • Even Jack knows we’re sailing toward an entitlements and demographic iceberg, with 77 million baby boomers, ill-prepared for retirement, are becoming eligible for beneifts at a rate of several thousand per day.

    • Those wanting to use immigration to solve that by importing millions of less educated and impoverished are crazy, and treat the population growth as if it is some sort of population race, without any regard for the negative aspects of over-population (just look at China and India).

    • Globaliszation is more like global pillage, as corporations flee from one place to another, guaranteeing cheap labor somewhere always exists.

    • A severely over-bloated government continues to grow to nightmare proportions; more people now work in government than all manufacturing in the U.S.

    • Government refuses to enforce existing immigration laws and chooses pit Americans and illegal aliens against each other.

    • Household incomes have fallen, since there are more workers per household.

    • That is why the nation’s problems are growing worse in number and severity.
      This current luke-warm economy exists only because it is being propped up by massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money-printing.

    But, other than that, everything is “very good”.

    It is amazing how the warning signs are being ignored or downplayed.
    And if you try to talk about it, you are labeled a doomsdayish, alarmist, pessimistic chick-little.
    All the signs say that the past 30+ years of massive fiscal and moral irresponsibility are catching up with us.
    All the signs show we are on the wrong path.
    Even the polls reflect that too.
    All the signs show that we should be more concerned.

    Yet, slumbering voters and corrupt politicians are too busy and uncaring to notice.

    That lack of concern, all by itself, is also ample reason for concern.
    That apathy, complacency, and sense of futility, itself, is a recipe for growing corruption.

    Yet, few are sufficiently concerned, as evidenced by their continual complaining of a corrupt Congress and Executive Branch, but mindlessly rewarding them for it with 90% re-election rates.

    A few cherry-picked facts do not explain away the decline evidenced by the growing list of worsening economic factors, nation-wide debt, falling incomes, corruption, deception, unnecessary wars, alienation of the U.S. worldwide, energy vulnerabilities, corpocrisy, corporatism, and government FOR-SALE.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 23, 2007 10:38 AM
    Comment #209461

    David:

    1)Given that the majority of Americans are NOT college graduate material for various reasons, WHY should success depend on a college education? That is elitist rightist corporate values - and not healthy for our nation’s future.


    This is factually incorrect. The majority of Americans are capable of a college degree. 90% earn high school dipomas up from 40% in about 1960. A doubling of the hs graduation rate has occured in our lifetime.

    This third way material is factually correct for the middle class for the future. I would encourage you to read it.

    High School only graduates are going to only fall farther and farther behind throughout this century.

    The income gap that is often talked about is actually and education gap. Although there are always exceptions, when you look at the large numbers, it is very obvious that college education is a big determiner as to which side of the median income a family falls on.

    The only true way to narrow the wage gap is for you to be wrong. Education and job skill training are the only true way to lift the working poor.

    In the future, third-way is right, one ticket of admission to the middle class is a college education.

    Craig


    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 23, 2007 4:47 PM
    Comment #209475

    Education is important.
    But public education is declining in quality while rising in cost.
    Many students are not adequately prepared for college.
    As a result, that set lower goals, and many get degrees that are not very useful.

    And it is interesting that those trying to paint a rosy picture don’t want to answer a few simple questions:

    • (1)What would this economy look like without the massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money printing (i.e. inflation over 1% is excessive) of the last 6 years?

    • (2)What is going to happen when we finally hit the entitlements iceberg we are sailing towards?

    • (3)If entitlements are bad, why did Bush and Congress create another huge entitlements system (i.e. the Medicare Prescription Drug plan)?
      Especially when Social Security is already $12.8 trillion in debt, and Medicare has hundreds of billions of unfunded liabilities for the next year, the National Debt is over $8.7 trillion, the PBGC is over $450 billion in the hole, etc. ?

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 23, 2007 6:00 PM
    Comment #209481

    Dan:

    I’m not sure what measure you are using with regard to education declining. Americans as a whole are much better educated than they were 50 years ago. Fifty years ago the graduation rate was what 40%? Now it’s up to 80-90%.

    It is true that todays graduate may not on average know as much as they did in years past, but that is because the lower half of the grading curve tends to stay in school and graduate.

    Today students with low aptitudes stay in school which brings down the aptitude scores.

    Sometimes I hear people say, we should go back to the 1940’s in education. Wow could we make SAT scores go up if we did that. We certainly could. Only about 25% of kids took SAT test then. It was only for the elite who went to college.

    While I agree with you by some measures that education is struggling, by others we lead the world. (Lower end kids staying in school). In many foreign countries this students are sent to a trade school in middle school and are done!!

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 23, 2007 7:28 PM
    Comment #209482

    David:

    Successful companies create WHAT?

    For starters the key board you are typing on, and the computer you are using.

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 23, 2007 7:29 PM
    Comment #209483

    Craig, oh, you mean Chinese & Japanese Companies. I thought you were talking about America. :-)

    Posted by: David R. Remer at February 23, 2007 7:32 PM
    Comment #209484

    Craig, no My statement is VERY FACTUALLY correct. I did not say they weren’t capable intellectually of acquiring a college education, I said for various reasons they are NOT college graduate material.

    Those reasons vary from pregnancy to lack of self discipline, to lack of money to afford it and peer group pressures.

    The reason my statement is FACTUALLY correct is because a Majority of Americans DON’T have a college degree. And the drop out rate for those entering college is growing, not declining.

    Read what is said, not what you wish the words would say.

    Posted by: David R. Remer at February 23, 2007 7:37 PM
    Comment #209495

    And look at the types of degrees.
    We are falling behind in science and engineering.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 23, 2007 9:33 PM
    Comment #209499

    Craig Holmes,

    Who cares how we compare to ourselves 40 years ago?
    That’s not really the impotant issue, but just another clever way to obscure the facts, cloud the issues, avoid the tough questions, and portray things as rosier than reality.

    You have to look at the big picture.
    A few cherry picked stats don’t prove anything.
    There is substantial evidence of the declining quality and increasing cost of education in the U.S., and it is not helping to prepare students for college.

    We need to measure ourselves by other industrialized nations, and by that measure, we are N_O_T doing good at all.
    Also, importing the less educated and impoverished by the millions isn’t helping that.
    But all those pro-population growth advocates ignore that, along with the $70 billion per year in net losses to U.S. tax payers.

    There are twenty industialized nations doing better at education than the U.S.
    Among them are:

    • (01) Hong Kong-China: Score: 550 (highest)

    • (02) Finland: Score: 544

    • (03) Korea: Score: 542

    • (04) Netherlands: Score: 538

    • (05) Liechtenstein: Score: 536

    • (06) Japan: Score: 534

    • (07) Canada: Score: 532

    • (08) Belgium: Score: 529

    • (09) Macao-China: Score: 527

    • (10) Switzerland: Score: 527

    • (11) New Zealand: Score: 523

    • (12) Australia: Score: 524

    • (13) Czech Republic: Score: 516

    • (14) Iceland: Score: 515

    • (15) Denmark: Score: 514

    • (16) France: Score: 511

    • (17) Sweden: Score: 509

    • (18) Austria: Score: 506

    • (19) Germany: Score: 503

    • (20) Ireland: Score: 503

    • (21) Slovak Republic: Score: 498

    • (22) Norway: Score: 495

    • (23) Luxembourg: Score: 493

    • (24) Poland: Score: 490

    • (25) Hungary: Score: 490

    • (26) Spain: Score: 485

    • (27) Latvia: Score: 483

    • (28) UNITED STATES: Score: 483

    • (29) Russian Federation: Score: 468

    • (30) Portugal: Score: 466

    • (31) Italy: Score: 466

    • (32) Greece: Score: 445

    • (33) Serbia and Montenegro: Score: 437

    • (34) Turkey: Score: 423

    • (35) Uruguay: Score: 422

    • (36) Thailand: Score: 417

    • (37) Mexico: Score: 385

    • (38) Indonesia: Score: 360

    • (39) Tunisia: Score: 359

    But other than that, and all these other pressing problems that supposedly don’t really exist, and do-nothing Congress is supposedly working hard to address, everything is “very good”.

    Again, what would this luke-warm economy look like without the massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money printing (i.e. inflation over 1% is excessive) of the last 6 years?

    Especially with the approaching demographic and entitlements train-wreck?
    The nation is swimming in debt.
    The severely over-bloated government is FOR-SALE.
    The slumbering voters are equally irresponsible.
    It’s not a pretty picture, and I have trouble seeing how anyone can paint a rosy picture of the big picture.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 23, 2007 11:00 PM
    Comment #209502

    Dan:

    Let me remind you of what you said:

    Given that the majority of Americans are NOT college graduate material for various reasons

    Then:

    The reason my statement is FACTUALLY correct is because a Majority of Americans DON’T have a college degree.

    I now understand that the misunderstanding is the words “graduate material”.

    Any student that has a high school diploma is college graduate “material” meaning they have the raw material to achieve a college degree.

    I understand that you mean they might have various issues that could slow down their progress. I still believe a college degree is achievable for a majority of americans.

    I also saw where you said “Read what it says”. I would encourage you to read the document we are discussing in this post. It’s very balanced.

    Craig


    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 24, 2007 12:37 AM
    Comment #209503

    Dan:

    I want you to think very very carefully about something.

    If we were to compare statistic like what you are showing from say the 1960’s they would show the same thing.

    Actually the big scare then was from the Soviet Union.

    I want you to compare the list you provided to the list of Nobel Prizes at

    www.nobelprize.org

    The vast majority of nobel prizes have gone the americans for decades even though foreigners have kicked our kids behinds in secondary test scores for decades.

    That was point one.

    Second point is new inventions. Who created the Internet? Where is the technology boom located? USA!!! Who leads the world in technolgy?

    Point three:

    Doomsdayers in Education have been wrong for a long time:

    Look at this quote from “A nation at risk”:

    Our Nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world.

    Of course our the exact opposite happened. This was written in 1983. The 1990’s were the greatest tech boom in world history led by the USA.

    Remember they were worried about statistics just like yours. (That’s why they thought we were at risk!!).

    1960’s scare was Russia.
    1980’s scare was Japan
    2000’s scare is China.

    Key question:

    Since the numbers you show has been true for decades how do you explain our robust economy, our leading the world in nobel prizes, and our leading the world in the tech boom of the 1990’s?

    Craig


    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 24, 2007 12:53 AM
    Comment #209506

    Dan:

    It’s real important to understand that Americanism is a unique culture (for better or worse) in the world.

    Here is another question to add to the puzzle.

    Why is the average age at a community college about 30?

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 24, 2007 1:17 AM
    Comment #209507
    Craig Holmes wrote: d.a.n: Let me remind you of what you said:
    Given that the majority of Americans are NOT college graduate material for various reasons

    Craig,
    I didn’t write that.
    Someone else did.

    Craig Holmes wrote: Any student that has a high school diploma is college graduate “material” meaning they have the raw material to achieve a college degree.
    I agree with that statement. I was never arguing that point at all. The issue is that they are ill prepared, because of the declining quality of public eduacation.
    Craig Holmes wrote: I understand that you mean they might have various issues that could slow down their progress. I still believe a college degree is achievable for a majority of americans.
    Craig Holmes wrote: I also saw where you said “Read what it says”.
    Craig, I never wrote that.
    Craig Holmes wrote: d.a.n: I want you to think very very carefully about something. If we were to compare statistic like what you are showing from say the 1960’s they would show the same thing. Actually the big scare then was from the Soviet Union.
    What statistic are you talking about? The math scores from above? Please show me where the U.S. was that far down on the list in math scores 20, 30, 40, or 50 years ago (compared to other nations).
    Craig Holmes wrote: I want you to compare the list you provided to the list of Nobel Prizes at www.nobelprize.org
    I’m not sure Nobel Prizes is apples to apples. Nobel prizes are a extremely small number of persons. That doesn’t really tell much.
    Craig Holmes wrote: The vast majority of nobel prizes have gone the americans for decades even though foreigners have kicked our kids behinds in secondary test scores for decades. That was point one.
    Not like now, with 27 nations scoring better than the U.S. That point is not convincing at all.
    Craig Holmes wrote: Second point is new inventions. Who created the Internet? Where is the technology boom located? USA!!! Who leads the world in technolgy?
    That is slipping away quickly. Also, I’m not at all certain the U.S. leads in technology anymore. That point is not convincing either.
    Craig Holmes wrote: Point three: Doomsdayers in Education have been wrong for a long time: Look at this quote from “A nation at risk” … Our Nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world. Of course our the exact opposite happened. This was written in 1983. The 1990’s were the greatest tech boom in world history led by the USA.
    Just because they were wrong before doesn’t mean the warning are wrong now. They didn’t have some of the numerous problems we nave now. The 1990’s was largely irrational exuberance, and many lost a lot when that bubble burst. That is not a convincing point either.
    Craig Holmes wrote: Remember they were worried about statistics just like yours. (That’s why they thought we were at risk!!).
    There were at risk. The past is strewn with bad times because of it. Wars, depressions, etc.


    Craig Holmes wrote:
    Key question:
    Since the numbers you show has been true for decades …

    First, that’s not true.
    The numbers have not been true for decades.
    Many things are worse now than other times.

    Craig Holmes wrote: … how do you explain our robust economy,
    This economy is not robust. It is luke-warm. And it is being propped up with massive debt, borrowing, wasteful spending, and excessive money-printing.

    Sorry, but your points are very weak and you still refused to answer my questions.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 24, 2007 1:23 AM
    Comment #209509
    Why is the average age at a community college about 30?
    I’m not sure. Some may have got a late start. Some may be career students. It may be taking a long time for some due to lack of funding to go full time. Perhaps they got a late start because they were inadequately prepared by our public education systems, and had to take a lot of remedial courses. I suppose there are many reasons, but I would not call any of them good reasons. That only good thing is that late is better than never. I’m not sure what your point is.

    Have you been to a graduation lately?
    When they came to handing out dimplomas for science and engineering, very few were Americans. Most were foreigners.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 24, 2007 2:28 AM
    Comment #209514

    Dan:

    This economy is not robust. It is luke-warm.

    The American economy is robust in comparison to the economies on the list you provided of education attainment.

    As for debt, I would like you to compare our debt to the debt of the countries on that list you provided.

    I think you will see that we look “fine” in comparison.

    Craig


    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 24, 2007 9:22 AM
    Comment #209516

    Dan:

    The numbers have not been true for decades.

    “A nation at Risk” was a extremely important document published in 1983. Obviously it was written on with a purpose. It was because they had a list like yours.

    Look at what was being said in 1957:

    On October 4th, 1957, the USSR launched the first manmade satellite into orbit. Consequently, American fears of Russian technological superiority caused a finger-pointing frenzy. Fear of Russia already existed due to the onset of the Cold War and nuclear proliferation, but Sputnik was physical evidence that Russia was quickly becoming a technologically-powerful country. After much debate, the finger of blame landed on education, as the U.S. watched Russia churn out scientists and engineers like a factory (Dow 1991).

    Numerous scientists warned the public of the mediocrity of American education and devised programs to solve the problem.

    http://www.jyi.org/volumes/volume5/issue4/features/howes.html

    There is 50 years. Where is Russia today?

    Dan 2:

    With the list you provided, if you look under the hood of the educational systems that give better numbers, you will see something in common with almost all of them. You will see that their students have more seat time. Most countries have their students in school about a month more a year. That means that by the time they have completed the 9th grade they are at least a year ahead.

    On the other hand, American kids (generalizing) are involved in far more activities. These countries don’t have “soccer moms”.

    “soccer” (used as a metaphor) is very important in American culture as it teaches some very important things that our culture thinks important. Competition, fair play, choice, failure etc.

    Our culture values that very much.

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 24, 2007 9:37 AM
    Comment #209548
    Craig Holmes wrote:
    d.a.n: This economy is not robust. It is luke-warm.
    The American economy is robust in comparison to the economies on the list you provided of education attainment.
    So, we shouldn’t be concerned just because other countries are worse off economically?

    That still ignores the fact that this economy is an illusion produced by massive debt, borrowing, waste, and excessive money printing (over 1% inflation).
    That still ignores the long term effect of so much fiscal irresponsiblity, along with the entitlements iceberg we are sailing toward.
    Combine the approaching generational storm, along with our energy vulnerabilities, massive debt, borrowing, waste, excessive money printing, government FOR-SALE, public education decreasing in quality and increasing in cost, etc., etc., etc, and there is reason for concern. It is not sufficient to merely believe things will always work themselves out satisfactorily. They don’t. History is strewn with the pain and misery to prove it.

    Craig Holmes wrote: As for debt, I would like you to compare our debt to the debt of the countries on that list you provided.
    Again, we shouldn’t be concerned just because other countries are worse off economically? Many of those mations are much smaller than the U.S. Large nations can not move as quickly, increasing the difficulty to change course.
    Craig Holmes wrote: I think you will see that we look “fine” in comparison.
    No, it is not fine by many comparisons. The nation has many pressing problems growing in number and severity. The worst part is that irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians and slumbering voters are ignoring them. It has happened in the past, and it will most likely happen again.
    Craig Holmes wrote:
    d.a.n: The numbers have not been true for decades.
    “A nation at Risk” was a extremely important document published in 1983. Obviously it was written on with a purpose. It was because they had a list like yours.
    That is a bit outdated. That was 24 years ago. It does not explain away the fiscal irresponsibility of the last 30+ years.
    Craig Holmes wrote: Look at what was being said in 1957: On October 4th, 1957, the USSR launched the first manmade satellite into orbit. Consequently … There is 50 years. Where is Russia today?
    That was a valid concern. The nation responded. Also, that is somewhat anecdotal. That doesn’t mean it will this time. In fact, since then, it now prefers to start unnecessary wars. That does not disspell the existence of cycles. Cycles exist because their existence is ignored or disbelieved, despite the repetition of history.
    Craig Holmes wrote: d.a.n, 2: With the list you provided, if you look under the hood of the educational systems that give better numbers, you will see something in common with almost all of them. You will see that their students have more seat time. Most countries have their students in school about a month more a year. That means that by the time they have completed the 9th grade they are at least a year ahead.
    That’s right.

    Now, you’re helping make my case stronger.
    You point out a real problem that I agree with completely.
    That’s why I recommended year-round public education, along with some other public education system changes.

    Craig Holmes wrote: On the other hand, American kids (generalizing) are involved in far more activities. These countries don’t have “soccer moms”. “Soccer” (used as a metaphor) is very important in American culture as it teaches some very important things that our culture thinks important. Competition, fair play, choice, failure etc.
    Yes, those activities are not bad. The physical activity and interaction with others is a good thing, as long as it is not carried to an extreme.
    Craig Holmes wrote: Our culture values that very much.
    True, but that still doesn’t explain away a number of growing problems. Regardless of the past, regardless of history, there are five things (among many) that are valid reasons for concern. These things should not be ignored, because these five things alone have the real potential to make recovery from the next recession more difficult and painful. These five main things could easily turn a recession into a depression:
    • FISCAL IRRESPONSIBITY: $8.4 National Debt and $42 total nation-wide debt, decreasing options, lost opportunities, falling dollar (not backed up by real value), potential inflation, trade deficits, and the failure stop the debt from growing ever larger, and increasingly corrupt government too incompetent to deal with it;
    • GENERATIONAL STORM: 77 million aging baby boomers (that all vote), making less, spending less, pay less tax, expecting to draw from already troubled Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, & welfare.
    • ENTITLEMENT SHORTFALLS: The looming Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, & welfare deficits and short falls, and decreasing number of tax-payers per entitlement recipient.
    • LIMITED GROWTH & INCREASING FOREIGN COMPETITION: The limited capacity for growth due to declining quality of education, a generally less educated population failing to develop new technologies, coupled with a steady increase of foreign competition.
    • ENERGY VULNERABILITY: Of all the responsible, insightful things government could have done, they failed miserably to research and foster alternate energy sources, more energy efficient homes, automobiles, etc.

    There are many factors, and no one knows where it will all lead. But, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to suspect the following are valid reasons for concern:

  • based on historical norms, Debt to GDP percentages have never been higher since WWII. That’s a valid concern when our own growth may be limited, and global competition is growing significantly, and trade deficits are huge. We can’t keep consuming more than we produce.

  • The Debt (adjusted for inflation) has never been higher (there has been growth in GDP too though).

  • The size of the government has never been higher.

  • The trade deficits have never been higher.

  • The wealth distribution (i.e. wealth belonging to 1% of the population) has never been higher since the Great Depression.

  • Foreign competition has never been higher (and increasingly better educated).

  • Global Corporatism has never been higher.

  • The troubled entitlement systems and dependency on government has never been worse, and likely to get worse, with huge deficits in Medicare already.

  • Not, to mention all of the rest of the pressing problems (see link above), growing in number and severity;
  • And some believe (which deserves more attention) that global warming and pollution of our environment may become as serious (if not more) than any of those things above? This could be a serious problem, since it may require worldwide cooperation … something that may be impossible.

    The thing is, I believe, if we wanted to, we could solve these problems.
    Even if you are right, and it will all be adequately resolved, is it wise to downplay it
    After all, can you be so certain that you are right?
    The Great Depression did occur.
    Bad economic times have occured.
    What makes you so sure we are immune to it now?
    Regardless, it seems these issues should be stressed as much as possible, if for no other reason, but to make things better, and the nation more secure and prosperous.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 24, 2007 1:10 PM
    Comment #209550
    Craig Holmes wrote:
    d.a.n: This economy is not robust. It is luke-warm.
    The American economy is robust in comparison to the economies on the list you provided of education attainment.
    So, we shouldn’t be concerned just because other countries are worse off economically?

    That still ignores the fact that this economy is an illusion produced by massive debt, borrowing, waste, and excessive money printing (over 1% inflation).
    That still ignores the long term effect of so much fiscal irresponsiblity, along with the entitlements iceberg we are sailing toward.
    Combine the approaching generational storm, along with our energy vulnerabilities, massive debt, borrowing, waste, excessive money printing, government FOR-SALE, public education decreasing in quality and increasing in cost, etc., etc., etc., and there is reason for concern. It is not sufficient to merely believe things will always work themselves out satisfactorily. They don’t. History is strewn with the pain and misery to prove it.

    Craig Holmes wrote: As for debt, I would like you to compare our debt to the debt of the countries on that list you provided.
    Again, we shouldn’t be concerned just because other countries are worse off economically? Many of those mations are much smaller than the U.S. Large nations can not move as quickly, increasing the difficulty to change course.
    Craig Holmes wrote: I think you will see that we look “fine” in comparison.
    No, it is not fine by many comparisons. The nation has many pressing problems growing in number and severity. The worst part is that irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians and slumbering voters are ignoring them. It has happened in the past, and it will most likely happen again.
    Craig Holmes wrote:
    d.a.n: The numbers have not been true for decades.
    “A nation at Risk” was a extremely important document published in 1983. Obviously it was written on with a purpose. It was because they had a list like yours.
    That is a bit outdated. That was 24 years ago. It does not explain away the fiscal irresponsibility of the last 30+ years.
    Craig Holmes wrote: Look at what was being said in 1957: On October 4th, 1957, the USSR launched the first manmade satellite into orbit. Consequently … There is 50 years. Where is Russia today?
    That was a valid concern. The nation responded. Also, that is somewhat anecdotal. That doesn’t mean it will this time. In fact, since then, it now prefers to start unnecessary wars. That does not disspell the existence of cycles. Cycles exist because their existence is ignored or disbelieved, despite the repetition of history.
    Craig Holmes wrote: d.a.n, 2: With the list you provided, if you look under the hood of the educational systems that give better numbers, you will see something in common with almost all of them. You will see that their students have more seat time. Most countries have their students in school about a month more a year. That means that by the time they have completed the 9th grade they are at least a year ahead.
    That’s right.

    Now, you’re helping make my case stronger.
    You point out a real problem that I agree with completely.
    That’s why I recommended year-round public education, along with some other public education system changes.

    Craig Holmes wrote: On the other hand, American kids (generalizing) are involved in far more activities. These countries don’t have “soccer moms”. “Soccer” (used as a metaphor) is very important in American culture as it teaches some very important things that our culture thinks important. Competition, fair play, choice, failure etc.
    Yes, those activities are not bad. The physical activity and interaction with others is a good thing, as long as it is not carried to an extreme.
    Craig Holmes wrote: Our culture values that very much.
    True, but that still doesn’t explain away a number of growing problems. Regardless of the past, regardless of history, there are five things (among many) that are valid reasons for concern. These things should not be ignored, because these five things alone have the real potential to make recovery from the next recession more difficult and painful. These five main things could easily turn a recession into a depression:
    • FISCAL IRRESPONSIBITY: $8.4 National Debt and $42 total nation-wide debt, decreasing options, lost opportunities, falling dollar (not backed up by real value), potential inflation, trade deficits, and the failure stop the debt from growing ever larger, and increasingly corrupt government too incompetent to deal with it;
    • GENERATIONAL STORM: 77 million aging baby boomers (that all vote), making less, spending less, pay less tax, expecting to draw from already troubled Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, & welfare.
    • ENTITLEMENT SHORTFALLS: The looming Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, & welfare deficits and short falls, and decreasing number of tax-payers per entitlement recipient.
    • LIMITED GROWTH & INCREASING FOREIGN COMPETITION: The limited capacity for growth due to declining quality of education, a generally less educated population failing to develop new technologies, coupled with a steady increase of foreign competition.
    • ENERGY VULNERABILITY: Of all the responsible, insightful things government could have done, they failed miserably to research and foster alternate energy sources, more energy efficient homes, automobiles, etc.

    There are many factors, and no one knows where it will all lead. But, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to suspect the following are valid reasons for concern:

  • based on historical norms, Debt to GDP percentages have never been higher since WWII. That’s a valid concern when our own growth may be limited, and global competition is growing significantly, and trade deficits are huge. We can’t keep consuming more than we produce.

  • The Debt (adjusted for inflation) has never been higher (there has been growth in GDP too though).

  • The size of the government has never been higher.

  • The trade deficits have never been higher.

  • The wealth distribution (i.e. wealth belonging to 1% of the population) has never been higher since the Great Depression.

  • Foreign competition has never been higher (and increasingly better educated).

  • Global Corporatism has never been higher.

  • The troubled entitlement systems and dependency on government has never been worse, and likely to get worse, with huge deficits in Medicare already.

  • Not, to mention all of the rest of the pressing problems (see link above), growing in number and severity;
  • And some believe (which deserves more attention) that global warming and pollution of our environment may become as serious (if not more) than any of those things above? This could be a serious problem, since it may require worldwide cooperation … something that may be impossible.

    The thing is, I believe, if we wanted to, we could solve these problems.
    Even if you are right, and it will all be adequately resolved, is it wise to downplay it
    After all, can you be so certain that you are right?
    The Great Depression did occur.
    Bad economic times have occured.
    What makes you so sure we are immune to it now?
    Regardless, it seems these issues should be stressed as much as possible, if for no other reason, but to make things better, and the nation more secure and prosperous.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 24, 2007 1:15 PM
    Comment #209569

    David:

    The American dream, is far, far more than your narrow vision of a home and stock portfolio.

    Take the word “your” out of this and put in the writers of the document we are debating, and your argument is fine.

    I do think you should read it, it’s very good.

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 24, 2007 2:38 PM
    Comment #209573

    Dan:

    The point of this thread is not your list of problems that I have seen hundreds (feels like thousands) of times. It’s economic inequity in a paper called, “The New Rules Economy” put out by a progressive group called “third way”.

    In that paper, they have you in one group, Jack in another and are suggesting a third way to deal with issues.

    You should read the paper and see what you think.

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 24, 2007 2:44 PM
    Comment #209584
    Craig Holmes wrote: The point of this thread is not your list of problems that I have seen hundreds (feels like thousands) of times. It’s economic inequity in a paper called, “The New Rules Economy” put out by a progressive group called “third way”.

    Not true.
    My list contains many of the same things discussed in the “New Rules Economy” document.

    I believe that “New Rules Economy” document is severely flawed and biased.

    First of all, even the “New Rules Economy” article admits the following:


      “NEW RULES ECONOMY: …
      The neopopulists enter the modern debate in possession of certain truths. They are
      correct
      that all is not well with the middle class, and they have appropriately shed a light on middle class anxiety. They are rightly concerned about relatively flat wages for
      men—and in particular, low-skilled men. They are right that left to its own devices,
      unfettered capitalism creates too many losers to go along with its winners. They are
      right
      that the widening gap between the rich and the middle class is troubling. And
      there is good reason to be outraged by certain corporate behavior . . .

    But, it does a 180 degree turn, and then goes on to characterize much of it as myths.

    So, which is it?

    • Their conclusions don’t change the facts.

      • The “NEW RULES ECONOMY” conclusions don’t change the facts.

      • National Debt has never been larger. In 1950 dollars, debt now is quadruple what it was afer WWII.

      • %Debt to GDP is over 66%, up from 33% in 1980 (i.e. doubled).

      • There is no myth about stagnated incomes.

      • The gap between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the U.S. population hasn’t been larger since the Great Depression of 1929. There is no myth about the 1% wealthiest in 1980 having 20% of all wealth, and that 1% now has 40% of all wealth in the U.S.

      • Deficits have never been larger, and $200 to $400 billion annaul deficits (in 2006 dollars) are planned to continue for years.

      • The nation is swimming in massive debt. $20 trillion of personal nation-wide debt, and $22 trillion of total federal debt; that’s $42 trillion of nation-wide debt, which is 313% of GDP.

      • Median incomes have fallen for 6 years.

      • We have energy vulnerabilities.

      • Energy costs increasing fast (have you looked at your fuel and electricity bill lately?).

      • Social Security is $12.8 trillion in the hole and has never been in worse shape.

      • Medicare has never been in worse shape.

      • Government started an unnecessary war(s).

      • War in Iraq and Afghanistan are not going well, and the cost is very high (lives and money) while congress keeps voting on pork-barrle.

      • Corpocrisy and corporatism is rampant. Even the “New Rules Economy” article admitted that is a problem.

      • Government started an unnecessary war(s).

      • Foreclosures have risen for 13 consecutive months.

      • Interest rates are increasing.

      • Inflation is increasing.

      • Foreign competition has never been greater. it is a race to the bottom.

      • Foreign investors are starting to reduce their exposure to the falling U.S. dollar.

      • Trade deficits have never been larger.

      • Corruption in government is growing (it always is, without sufficient Transparency and Accountability to limit/reduce it), and the longer voters ignore it, the more painful reforms (if possible) will be later.

      • etc., etc., etc.

    The big picture ain’t very pretty at all.

    Joel’s article denounces the “New Rules Economy” article.
    So do I.
    So do many.
    And after the new “IN-PARTY” has been at it for a while, they too will be trying to paint a rosy picture too (just like the last “IN-PARTY” did).

    Craig Holmes wrote: You should read the paper and see what you think. read it and disagree with a lot of it.
    I did.

    I don’t think too much of it.
    It does not explain away a growing list of problems and potential for an economic melt-down.

    That list of problems has the real potential to bring about another economic melt-down like the Great Depression.

    The “New World Economics” does not dispute many of the facts, but merely draws different conclusions.

    Those FIVE things above are a recipe for an economic melt-down.

    Even Jack admits that the demographics and entitlements are “bad” and we are on a course in which the “demographics are just going to smash us” as we continue on course for “the entitlements iceberg we are sailing toward” ?

    Now couple that with three or four other major problems (e.g. aging population, corpocrisy, global competition, debt, borrowing, spending, excessive money printing, probable inflation as a result of it, and declining quality of education, etc., etc., etc.).

    I don’t think we are immune to an economic melt-down.

    Regardless, it seems these growing issues (being ignored by Congress and slumbering voters that keep rewarding them for it), growing in number and severity, should be stressed as much as possible, if for no other reason, but to make things better, and the nation more secure and prosperous.
    Why are some trying to minimize and down-play these issues?
    What’s wrong with that?

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 24, 2007 3:39 PM
    Comment #209585

    education:

    A degree is easier to get now then it has ever before. Stanford University accepted a half dozen students last year who had less than a 3.0 GPA and SAT scores under 500. That says a lot.

    Stanford University acceptance profile

    Those who don’t get degrees are lazy. I a have a G.E.D. and a record that says ‘habitual gross misdimeanor offender’. I am in college with next to no effort.

    economy:

    It is fine. We are not starving by the millions, disease is not wide spread, no one has had to resort to eating rats and grass, America is still fat and whinny. We are fine, the economy is fine, when we start to resemble Ethiopia or Bolivia then there should be a concern.

    We still have one of the lowest debt:GDP ratios.

    We still have the most valuable monetary unit (we actually gained this during the Bush Admin).

    We still ahve the most advanced medical technolody.

    Our medical is still the most accessible in the world, even our felons and illegal imigrants get it.

    We are fine. Really, really spoiled, but fine.\ non-the-less.


    politicians:

    Power corupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    While there are exceptions, they are far and few between.

    Dems want to take your rights to your land and possessions. Repubs want to take your rights to your practices and beliefs.

    They are both VERY VERY EVIL.

    One offers you cake you can’t eat.
    The other offers you some one elses cake to eat.

    There is a party that wants you to have cake AND eat it too!!!!


    Vote Libertarian

    Posted by: Bryan AJ Kennedy at February 24, 2007 3:53 PM
    Comment #209600

    Bryan AJ Kennedy,
    I agree with some of those points.
    However, there are a few things that I disagree with.
    Yes, we are not a third world country.
    But, we are in decline due to a large number of things, when combined, are pulling us down.

    There will most likely be consequences in the not-too-distant future for the massive debt, borrowing, wasteful spending, excessive money-printing, graft, corruption, government FOR-SALE, slumbering voters, and fiscal and moral bankruptcy in general of the last 30+ years. We have short memories. An economic melt-down like the Great Depression is not at all far fetched. What fools voters is that we have not yet felt the painful consequences of the past 30+ years of increasingly irresponsible government and slumbering voters. It can’t last forever. History repeats itself. We are not invincible. We are not immune to another significant economic melt-down. Especially not when so many think it is impossible, and continue to ignore a wide number of pressing problems.

    • Bryan AJ Kennedy wrote: We are fine. Really, really spoiled, but fine, non-the-less.
      • We may seem fine at the moment, but that is threatened. Things take a long time to play out. It can take decades before the consequences of what one Congress and/or Executive Branch does. That is what fools everyone. They often credit the wrong Congress and Executive Branch for current circumstances. However, what all administrations and Congress’s have been doing for a long time now is being fiscally irresponsible. Even Clinton’s reduction of the deficit did not reduce the National Debt, and he also accomplished much of the deficit reduction with excessive money-printing.
      • This current economy is being propped up by massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money printing.
      • %Debt to GDP has only been higher two times before: (a) in WWII and (b) in 1995.
      • The $8.7 National Debt is a serious issue, as 77 million baby boomers (2000 per day) become eligible for entitltements from these troubled systems.
      • The $8.7 trillion National Debt is 66% of GDP, but that isn’t all of the total $22 trillion of federal debt.
      • Social Security is $12.8 trillion in the whole (source: CATO Institute).
      • The so-called surpluses are worthless paper. The PBGC is over $450 billion in the hole. Medicare’s unfunded liabilities for the next year are hundreds of billions more.
      • The war in Iraq has cost over $360 billion. The total $22 trillion of federal debt is 164% of GDP. How many other nations have debt that is 164% of GDP?
    • Bryan AJ Kennedy wrote: We still ahve the most advanced medical technolody.
      Healthcare is not only increasingly unaffordable, but dangerous. Why? Too many middle men. Pharmaceutical corporations and the FDA are becoming pill pushers that are killing hundreds of thousands in the U.S. (annually). That does not even include the huge number of patients that are irreversibly damaged and maimed. JAMA reported that over 2.2 million hospitalized patients in 1994 had serious Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) and 106,000 were fatal, making these drug reactions the 5th or 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.! JAMA’s conclusion was that “the incidence of serious and fatal ADRs in U.S. hospitals was found to be extremely high”. On 27-July-2004, HealthGrades.com reported that “An average of 195,000 people in the U.S. died due to potentially preventable, in-hospital medical errors in each of the years 2000, 2001 and 2002, according to a new study of 37 million patient records”. Part of the problem is the growing corpocrisy, corporatism, and influence of government by corporations. Healthcare solutions are needed.
    • Bryan AJ Kennedy wrote: Our medical is still the most accessible in the world, even our felons and illegal imigrants get it.
      That’s a sad commentary. 45 million Americans can’t get medical insurance, but illegal aliens get it for free. Just yesterday, Parkland Public Hospital in Dallas, Texas reported that 66% of all babies born there were illegal aliens, and the babies are all now U.S. citizens. 32% of illegal aliens receive welfare and Medicaid. The U.S. tax payers are footing the bill for all of this, to the tune of over $70 billion per year. Politicians ignore it, and choose to pit American citizens and illegal aliens against each other.
    • Bryan AJ Kennedy wrote: We still have the most valuable monetary unit (we actually gained this during the Bush Admin).
      Hmmmm … I don’t know what you are basing that on. China reported last year that it was worried about buying more of our debt, and was going to start shifting to other currencies (e.g. EUROs) in order to reduce its exposure to the U.S. dollar. The U.S. dollar has been falling for a long time. Inflation is kept artificially high for nefarious reasons. The EURO is changing that too. EURO inflation in 2006 averaged 2.0% . The U.S. dollar inflation in 2006 averaged 3.24% . None of these fiat funny-money currencies, and those behind the inflationist practices have anything to brag about.
    • Bryan AJ Kennedy wrote: politicians: Power corupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. While there are exceptions, they are far and few between.
      That’s true. Yet, we keep rewarding them for it by repeatedly re-electing them. That, slumbering voters, is also part of the reason for concern.
    • Bryan AJ Kennedy: Vote Libertarian
      I might do that. I voted for some Libertarians in the last election. I certainly am not inclined to vote for any incumbents, since that is essentially rewarding irresponsible behavior.
    Posted by: d.a.n at February 24, 2007 5:18 PM
    Comment #209621

    Basically anything positive in this world is actually a negative.

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 24, 2007 8:50 PM
    Comment #209646
    Craig Holmes wrote: Basically anything positive in this world is actually a negative.
    That’s a cop out.

    No, in your world, anything negative is to be ignored, and called into question with a few cherry-picked statistics.

    What if you are wrong?
    It’s like global warming, of which many don’t believe exists.
    What if those non-believers are wrong.
    A prudent person would not be so quick to dismiss the problems. Especially when the facts are not easily dismissed. In fact, you have to be overly optimistic and unrealistic to not suspect the validity of the concerns.

    There is mounting evidence that 6.7 billion humans are adversely affecting the planet’s environment.

    Likewise, there is mounting evidence that the U.S. is in decline, and has a long list of serious problems growing in number and severity, that have a real potential to cause a significant economic melt-down.

    Seriously, can’t you see the seriousness of the debt, approaching entitlements problems, approaching generational storm, and these other pressing problems.?
    Even some others with the staunchest rose-colored viewpoints see the approaching collision of the demographics/generational storm.

    Also, this economy is being propped up with massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money printing. You, yourself, already admitted that inflation over 1% is excessive. The average inflation for 2006 was 3.24%. That’s not as bad as 12% in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but it could happen again.

    I just don’t see how you can look at the list and not see how it all, combined, could potentially deteriorate into the next economic melt-down.

    Even Bernanke, Greepspan, and David Walker (U.S. Comptroller) are warning us.

    David Walker wrote: America is on a path to depression and bankruptcy, and the politicians to date, refuse to act to prevent it.

    David Walker said: “the public has not been educated to accept responsibility for the viability of our nation’s future.”

    Sure, there are alwasy doomsdayers.
    But the economic factors are what is important.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 24, 2007 11:47 PM
    Comment #209650

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070225/ts_alt_afp/useconomypoverty_070225003515

    Speaking of which…..

    Posted by: jrjr at February 25, 2007 1:11 AM
    Comment #209663


    “The public has not been educated to accept responsibility for the viability of our nations future.”

    Dan: We are inundated daily by the capitalist education system which stresses the exact opposite. You deserve a break today, see the U.S.A. in your, oh no lost another one to.

    Over the past holiday’s, the administration basically said we are going to give the people a break from fear over the holidays. So, every one do something great for America, go shopping. The terrorist are going to get you fear machine won’t be restarted until Jan,2.

    jrjr: Those are the lazy good for nothings who have no value in our society.

    Posted by: jlw at February 25, 2007 10:46 AM
    Comment #209667

    jrjr,

    Thanks for that link.

    As Jack said, the growing disparity is a world-wide trend.

    Foreclosures, nation-wide, increased by 63% in 2006 from the previous year.

    But, the alarming thing is the $22 trillion of total federal debt, $20 trillion of personal nation-wide debt, $450 billion of PBGC debt (pensions), hundreds of billions of unfunded Medicare debt for the next year, trade deficits, the increasing disparity of wealth (e.g. 1% of the U.S. population in 1980 had 20% of all wealth, but now in 2007, 1% of the U.S. population has 40% of all wealth), the looming entitlements shortfalls for 77 million baby boomers expecting to draw benefits from the already troubled Social Security and Medicare systems, and a severely bloated government that keeps growing ever larger and fiscally irresponsible.

    The problem is not just one thing, but the approaching culmination of several things, that have the real potential, combined, to threaten the future and security of the nation.

    Things take a long, long time to transpire.
    Someone in another thread said Republicans had power for a long time.
    Our memories are short.
    Republicans had a slight majority for only a decade.
    Before that, Democrats had the majority for most of the previous 70 years.
    Now, the Democrats have a slight majority.
    90% of the same incumbent politicians are still in Congress.
    Congress will not adequately address the nation’s pressing problems, growing in number and severity, as long as slumbering voters keep rewarding politicians for ignoring those problems.

    jlw wrote:
    David Walker (U.S. Comptroller) wrote: “The public has not been educated to accept responsibility for the viability of our nations future.”
    d.a.n: We are inundated daily by the capitalist education system which stresses the exact opposite. You deserve a break today, see the U.S.A. in your, oh no lost another one to.
    Yes. Banks print money like crazy, try to loan it to everyone possible, including your dog (literally, some people get credit card applications for the children and pets), and then, when some default, the banks confiscate real assets, converting money printed from thin air into real tangible assets. It’s like playing Monopoly in which one player can print all the money they want. Before long, they own everything, and everyone else is broke, or deep in debt. This is essentially what is occuring nation-wide. The nation is swimming in debt (over $42 trillion nation-wide; that is 313% of the $13.4 trillion GDP).
    jlw wrote: Over the past holiday’s, the administration basically said we are going to give the people a break from fear over the holidays. So, every one do something great for America, go shopping. The terrorist are going to get you fear machine won’t be restarted until Jan,2.
    Sad isn’t it. I suspect only the most extreme blind party loyalists are going to keep buying the “Iraq is making us safer” rhetoric any longer. It doesn’t help that the war was unnecessary, and no WMD were ever found, despite Bush saying: “We found the weapons of mass destruction. We found biological laboratories.”
    jlw wrote: jrjr: Those are the lazy good for nothings who have no value in our society.
    Yes, haven’t you heard? Our poor are actually rich, by world-wide standards.

    That is not even really the main issue, but a symptom of a larger issue.
    The main issue is a wide number of factors that paint a picture.
    As evidenced by different people’s conclusions above, that picture looks very different to different people.

    In my opinion, the big picture is reason for concern.
    More so now than anytime in the last 30 years.
    The major factors are massive debt, fiscal irresponsibility, probable inflation, the demographics/entitlements iceberg we are sailing toward, the cost of Iraq (lives and money; $365 billion thus far), obvious energy vulnerabilities, the growing disparity of wealth, government that is increasingly FOR-SALE, fiscally irresponsible, ignoring the voters and nation’s pressing problems, and slumbering voters that keep rewarding them for it.

    If we have a recession, and we will, because they occur every 2 to 11 years for the last 46 years, how easy will it be to recover from with so much pre-existing debt, looming shortages, war in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc. ?

    We have been painting ourselves into a corner.
    This current luke-warm economy is only possible due to massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money-printing.
    Those that think we are immune to an economic melt-down have only history to look at.
    It could be the fact that we have not had a depression since 1929, is what is creating a false sense of security?
    It’s not at all hard to see several scenarios that could cause a recession to turn into a depression.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 25, 2007 11:49 AM
    Comment #209678

    d.a.n the poor in this Country may be rich compared to say Africa but the corportiast are working on that as they continue with the South Americanization of our Country. They are coming for the truck drivers now. So who will be next?

    Posted by: j2t2 at February 25, 2007 3:12 PM
    Comment #209681

    “Those are the lazy good for nothings who have no value in our society.”

    jlw,

    Like me! Been on Social Security Disability since 2003. Haven’t worked since 2001. Spending tens of thousands of Medicare dollars each and every month.

    I should just be a good citizen and die.

    Posted by: KansasDem at February 25, 2007 4:23 PM
    Comment #209684


    KansasDem: I am in the same boat, the only difference is that my health care is provided by the VA.

    Posted by: jlw at February 25, 2007 7:08 PM
    Comment #209685

    Dan:

    Ok. Here are some inconvenient truths for you.

    Household networth is at an all time high and climbing.

    Longevity is at an all time high and climbing.

    Productivity of the American worker is increasing.

    We are at record high in terms of home ownership.

    Please please to not reply by sending infinite pages of your list of problems to reply. I have seen those many times. There is nothing new in them. I have been aware of them for decades!!

    There are positive things happening that balance the bad.

    Just once please please admit there is at at least something positive in this world!! There must be something.

    The conclusion from your economics is that we should commit suicide. There is no hope in your posts.

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 25, 2007 7:11 PM
    Comment #209686

    Dan:

    I have been at this a long long time.

    Here is a quote for you:

    ” America is at war. Perhaps not your standard definition fo war, but a very real war nonetheless. We are at war economically. Our Nation’s wealth is being drained drip by drop, becaue our government continues to mount record deficits and, in order to finance it’s obliagations, puts us at the mercy of foreign lenders. The security of our country depends on the fiscal integrity of our government, and we’re throwing it away. We’re doing nothing to protect it. Instead i’ts politics as usual.”

    Again,
    “This recession will be a picnic compared to where this country will be in the year 1997.”

    United States Senator Warren B. Rudman 1992

    HEre again,

    “We are in a real sense living on borrowed money and borrowed time”

    Paul A. Volcker February 20, 1985

    Opening of the book, “Bankruptcy 1995”

    “In 1995, The United States of America, as we know it today, will cease to exist. That year, the country will have spent itself into a bankruptcy frm which there will be no return. What we once called the American Century will end, literally, with the end of the American way of life-unless you adn I act now to pull ourselves and the country back from near certain oblivian.”

    The graphs in the book like just like yours. I would like you to read this book. It was on the Time best seller list ofr 9 months!!

    I would like you to explain why it was so wrong, but you are so right.

    Then, we can go through “the great depression of 1990”

    My basic question is, why has ever single doomsday writer in the last 50 years been wrong, and then why are you right when you use the same arguments they did?

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 25, 2007 7:35 PM
    Comment #209687

    Dan:

    I forgot one of my favorites:

    The Coming Economic Earthquake by Larry Burkett. This was written in the early 1990’s and there is one that is updated for the Clinton agenda.

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 25, 2007 7:45 PM
    Comment #209688

    Dan:

    I was looking through my notes. Doomsday books took a great shift in the 1990’s. It became Y2K.

    One that was a great best seller was:

    “Millennium Meltdown: Spiritual and Practical Strategies to Survive Y2K “

    I think the next wave of doomsday books will be about global warming.

    The actual scientific study from the UN is pretty reasonable. However with Al Gore likely to get an Oscar tonight, that will spawn doomsday books about global warming.

    I think global warming is true, just like I think the budget deficit it true. (There is truth in a part of what doomsayers say, it’s just that they take it toooooooo far). (The rising of the ocean by 2 ft in 100 years doesn’t seem all that extreme to me).

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 25, 2007 8:18 PM
    Comment #209689

    Dan:

    I forgot the Population Bomb:

    The Population Bomb (1968) is a book written by Paul R. Ehrlich. A best-selling work, it predicted disaster for humanity due to overpopulation and the “population explosion”. The book predicted that “in the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death”, that nothing can be done to avoid mass famine greater than any in the history, and radical action is needed to limit the overpopulation.

    The book is primarily a repetition of the Malthusian catastrophe argument, that population growth will outpace agricultural growth unless controlled. It assumes that the population is going to raise exponentially, on the other hand the resources, in particular food, are already at their limits.

    Unlike Thomas Malthus, Ehrlich predicted that not only the overpopulation will hit in some indefinite future, but it is certain to lead to a massive disaster in the next few years. Also unlike Malthus, Ehrlich didn’t see any means of avoiding the catastrophe, and the solutions for limiting its scope he proposed were much more radical, including starving whole countries that refused to implement population control measures.

    “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate…”

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 25, 2007 8:22 PM
    Comment #209690

    Dan:

    I do have to give Al Gore an award for being the latest doomsayer.

    I give him this award for predicting the sea to rise 10 times more than the UN document from the world wide scientific community.

    (20 feet verses 2 feet in 100 years). He is only off by a factor of 10 times.

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 25, 2007 8:26 PM
    Comment #209691
    “The McClatchy analysis found that the number of severely poor Americans grew by 26 percent from 2000 to 2005,” the US newspaper chain reported.

    “That’s 56 percent faster than the overall poverty population grew in the same period,” it noted.

    The surge in poverty comes alongside an unusual economic expansion.

    “Worker productivity has increased dramatically since the brief recession of 2001, but wages and job growth have lagged behind. At the same time, the share of national income going to corporate profits has dwarfed the amount going to wages and salaries,” the study found.

    Posted by: womanmarine at February 25, 2007 9:26 PM
    Comment #209694

    Craig,

    You posted six responses to my last post.

    : )

    Interesting.

    I’ve said more than enough on this.
    The facts are the facts.

    You still haven’t convinced me to ignore the numerous factors.

    You still have ignored that this current luke-warm economy is being financed with massive debt, borrowing, wasteful spending, and excessive money printing.

    We will see.
    You seem to think everything will work itself out.
    I do too, but not the same way.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 25, 2007 10:03 PM
    Comment #209695

    womenmarine, yes but they are all doing better than the poor in other countries.

    Posted by: j2t2 at February 25, 2007 10:05 PM
    Comment #209699

    “I have been at this a long long time.”

    Craig Holmes,

    So at the end of the day there is no problem?

    No income disparity?

    No voter apathy?

    No environmental issues?

    I don’t agree with d.a.n. on many issues but it’s almost impossible to ignore the problems.

    Your response puzzles me.

    Posted by: KansasDem at February 25, 2007 10:58 PM
    Comment #209704


    Nearly 50 million Americans receive some kind of assistance from the government, Medicaid, food stamps or disability. I say cut us all off, let’s get this party started.

    Posted by: jlw at February 26, 2007 12:00 AM
    Comment #209709

    “let’s get this party started”

    Yeah, I’m open to new experiences. I could tell you much more about homelessness after experiencing it first hand.

    Posted by: KansasDem at February 26, 2007 1:10 AM
    Comment #209720
    j2t2 wrote: d.a.n the poor in this Country may be rich compared to say Africa but the corporatist are working on that as they continue with the South Americanization of our Country. They are coming for the truck drivers now. So who will be next?
    Yes, There’s no doubt about the desire for cheap labor, corpocrisy, corporatism, and ignoring existing immigration laws.

    Republican politicians want cheap labor.
    Democrat politicians want votes.
    Voters want it stopped and complain a lot.
    But both Republican and Democrat politicians ignore the voters.
    However, the voters keep rewarding politicians for it by repeatedly re-electing them.
    Why do we do that?
    Why do we pull the party lever?
    Why do we reward irresponsible politicians with a 90%+ re-election rate.
    Look at the 105th-to-the-110th Congresses.
    Each have enjoyed a 90% (or higher) re-election rate.
    For a decade, Congress has enjoyed a 90%+ re-election rate.
    There has been no period like it before.
    Polls show most voters thing the nation is going in the wrong direction.
    Yet, the way the voters vote, mostly re-electing incumbent politicians, does not reflect that.
    Perhaps rewarding irresponsible behavior begets more irresponsible behavior?
    What did Forrest Gump’s mother used to say about that?

    Illegal aliens are costing U.S. tax payers net losses of over $70 billion per year due to:

    • burdens on our hospitals, ERs, and healthcare systems (84 overrun hospitals have closed in California)

    • burdens on our schools and eduation systems

    • burdens on our law enforcement, border patrol, and immigration systems

    • burdens on our prisons (29% of all incarcerated in the nation are illegal aliens)

    • burdens on our welfare and Medicaid systems (32% of all illegal aliens receive welfare)

    • burdens on our insurance systems

    • unemployment insurance systems due to 2.3 million displaced American workers

    • voting systems due to voting fraud

    A Polling Station poll shows most Americans want it stopped.
    72% of Americans are opposed to another amnesty like the one in 1986, which quadrupled the problem.

    Republican and Democrat politicians are pitting Americans and illegal aliens against each other.
    That’s despicable.
    Yet, the voters keep rewarding them for it by repeatedly re-electing them.

    Craig Holmes wrote: I have been at this a long long time.
    Been at what for a long time?

    Ignoring reality?
    So, we are supposed to concede to your experience at this for a “long long time” ?

    Craig Holmes,

    • I did not predict the seas rising 20 feet, but believe global warming and pollution is a serious problem. But you don’t?

    • I did not predict an earthquake. But the probability of one in the future is 100%.

    • I did not predict when a serious economic melt-down would occur. However, recessions occur every 2-to-11 years for the last 46 years, and the massive federal debt ($22 trillion), and nation-wide personal debt ($20 trillion) is not something that can easily be ignored. Together, that is $42 trillion of nation-wide debt (313% of the $13.4 trillion GDP)

    So there’s nothing to worry about ?
    Especially as we continue on course to …

    Jack wrote:
    the entitlements iceberg we are sailing toward.
    and …
    As Jack wrote:
    The demographics are just going to smash us unless we do something.

    Craig Holmes,
    So you still see nothing wrong ?
    Are you saying Jack is wrong ?
    Are you saying Bernanke (Federal Reserve Chairman), Greenspan (former Reserve Chairman), and David Walker (U.S. Comptroller) who are voicing concerns about the federal debt, personal debt, trade deficits, and the approaching entitlements iceberg are all wrong too ?

    Now, throw in a couple of other things to exacerbate the big picture, such as:

    • energy vulnerability

    • several thousand per day of 77 million baby boomers becoming eligible for Social Security and Medicare benefits (NOTE: 77 million / next 50 years == 4219 persons per day!)

    • $1 billion per day in interest alone on the $8.75 trillion National Debt

    • trade deficits; how long can we consume more than we produce?

    • Social Security is already $12.8 trillion in debt (source: CATO Institute)

    • Medicare is in even worse shape. It is even more alarming.

    • millions of illegal aliens are costing U.S. tax payers net losses of over $70 billion per year (over $10 billion per year for California alone); the problem has already quadrupled since the last amnesty of 1986, and it will get worse before it gets better; GAO-REPORT-05-646R, a study of 55,322 illegal aliens over a 57 year period shows 5,992 homicides by illegal aliens, and an average arrest rate of 8 arrests per illegal alien; yet 51 Senators voted in May of 2006 to give Social Security benefits to illegal aliens? ! ?

    Craig Holmes,
    So you still see nothing wrong?
    You think Bernanke, Greenspan, and David Walker don’t know what they’re talking about?

    You seem to think history can not repeat itself.
    You seem to think we are immune to an economic melt-down.
    You seem to think a few cherry-picked doomsdayer books about earthquakes, potentially exagerated global warming disasters, and economic melt-downs that failed to materialize as predicted, somehow disqualifies the concern about those numerous issues above.

    It does not.
    Only a fool would ignore those things.
    Thus, why do you want to downplay and minimize those things?
    If you downplay and minimize those things, it merely encourages others to ignore them too?
    Why so much concern about others concern about potential problems?
    What is the harm of trying to address these problems?
    What is the harm of ignoring these problems?

    KansasDem wrote: Craig Holmes,
    • So at the end of the day there is no problem?
    • No income disparity?
    • No voter apathy?
    • No environmental issues?
    I don’t agree with d.a.n. on many issues but it’s almost impossible to ignore the problems. Your response puzzles me.
    Exactly. It is puzzling.

    None of us have a crystal ball, but it’s hard to ignore so many things growing in number and severity; being ignored for decades. And the scary thing about all of it is the complacency about it. That one thing alone is reason for concern, because it allows problems to go ignored, allowing them to grow in number and severity.

    Just because we haven’t seen anything as bad as the Great Depression again since the 1930s, does not mean a similar economic meltdown is not impossible.
    Especially when you consider the real problems above, combined, that have a real potential for an economic melt-down, if they continue to go ignored by a Do-Nothing Congress.
    It’s not just one thing.
    It’s a number of things combined.
    It’s a thousand cuts.
    There are consequences, even if they are delayed by decades.
    And that is what we have to deal with now.
    We have 30+ years of fiscal irresponsibility to deal with.
    $22 trillion of federal debt and $20 trillion of personal debt is not OK.
    You speak of increased assets?
    That’s clever, but those so-called increased assets are largely on over-priced real estate.
    It won’t mean much when they are foreclosed on.
    And have you noticed foreclosures lately.
    They rose 68% from 2005 to 2006, and are still rising.
    Rising interest rates and excessive debt are partly to blame.

    Craig Holmes,
    I’m well aware of your positions on economics, fiat-money, debt, and immigration (which you said we should immigrate 50 million more to solve our demographics problem).
    We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    If we have another recession, and we will, because they occur every 2 to 11 years for the last 46 years, how easy will it be to recover from with so much pre-existing debt, looming shortages, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc. ?

    Craig Holmes,
    Still, you also don’t see that this current luke-warm economy is only possible due to massive debt, borrowing, wasteful spending, and excessive money-printing of the last 6 years.
    Still, you avoid this question:

      What would the economy look like without the massive debt, borrowing, wasteful spending, and excessive money-printing of the past 6 years ?

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 26, 2007 10:48 AM
    Comment #209837

    Dan:

    What would the economy look like without the massive debt, borrowing, wasteful spending, and excessive money-printing of the past 6 years ?

    Without the intervention of the government we would have went into a depression following 9/11.

    Look at history. That is what happened in history after a major shock.

    Now, how are your arguments different from those offered in “bankruptcy 1995?”

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 27, 2007 10:39 AM
    Comment #209838

    Kansas Democrat:

    Your response puzzles me.

    If you connect the dots of all of those books, from the “Population Bomb” through “Bankrupsy 1995” through Dan’s writings they all have somethings in common.

    First of all they have some truth in them. (Dan’s famous list of problems).

    The key error is what I call the error of extrapolation.

    The error of extrapolation: Assuming that the current trend in economics will continue indefinetely, when in fact they never do.

    Let me give you an example. In Bankruptsy 1995 is virtually a carbon copy of Dan’s arguments written in 1992. At that time of course we had a democratic congress that was spending like drunken sailors and a Republican president who to put it mildly was not afraid of borrowing a little money. What happened? We through the bums out.

    What did we just do? We just through the Republican bums out.

    The curve is about the change, because the curve always changes. Getting that point through to David and Dan is all but impossible.

    Remember Y2K? Same issue. Humans changed and there was not crisis.

    Guess what the new one is? (This may hurt). You guessed it. “An inconvenient Truth”. Remember the current trend line is not going to continue to our ruin because it never does. Already the scientific community has predicted Ocean increases at only 10% of Al Gore’s. Global warming is a problem, but it will not bring ruin because the curve of human activity always changes.

    However, if I were in the doomsday book business, that is the subject I would be writing on!!

    I was relaxed on New Years eve of 1999. Although I see every one of Dan’s problems, I am relaxed on this matter as well.

    But I would encourage you to watch the economic curve change. (I think it is about to). And then don’t ever get sucked into the doomsday mentality. It’s too depressing, and life is too good.

    In the mean time, to be more aware of our environment will make better humans of us all. For that I thank Al Gore!!

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 27, 2007 10:52 AM
    Comment #209879
    Craig wrote: The curve is about the change, because the curve always changes. Getting that point through to David and Dan is all but impossible.
    Because it doesn’t make sense. You can’t know we will change in time. I personally think for somethings, such as the entitlements iceberg, it may be too late already, but we just don’t know it yet.
    Craig wrote: Remember Y2K? Same issue. Humans changed and there was not crisis.
    I’m a software developer, and never bought all the Y2K hype.

    Craig,
    Have you seen the market today (2PM CST)?
    DowJones Industrial: 12,152.55 -479.71
    Nasdaq Composite: 2,405.76 -98.76
    Standard and Poor-500: 1,392.86 -56.51

    The dollar took a big hit today.
    The dollar was already stressed.
    Global markets are down.
    China’s markets fell 9% .
    U.S. markets fell down 5% .
    It’s not as bad as Black Monday in 1987.
    But, the numbers are big.
    Today, 30 major components all posted losses this trading day.

    Greenspan is warning of a possible recession in 2007.

    I’ll bet Bernanke’s comments tomorrow are so rosy either.

    All that still doesn’t necessarily spell disaster.
    But there is a decline in progress.
    And there is massive debt and an approaching entitlements/demographics iceberg we are still sailing toward.

    d.a.n wrote: What would the economy look like without the massive debt, borrowing, wasteful spending, and excessive money-printing of the past 6 years?
    Without the intervention of the government we would have went into a depression following 9/11.

    You still evade the question.
    So, you believe massive debt, borrowing, spending, and excessive money-printing is the government’s duty, eh?

    Still trying to justify all of it due to 9/11, eh ?
    This is Feb-2007 (almost six years later).
    The excuse of 9/11 isn’t valid.
    We had a recession from late 2000 to 2003, but it was over by 2003, and it does not explain away the additional massive debt, borrowing, wasteful spending, and excessive money-printing for the four years after that from 2003 to 2007.

    Craig wrote: Let me give you an example. In Bankruptsy 1995 is virtually a carbon copy of Dan’s arguments written in 1992.
    Not true. The approaching entitlements/demographics iceberg we are still sailing toward is much closer now. Also, the total federal debt is larger now ($22 trillion: $12.7 trillion Social Security debt, $8.75 trillion National Debt, $450 billion PBGC debt, etc.).
    Craig wrote: At that time of course we had a democratic congress that was spending like drunken sailors and a Republican president who to put it mildly was not afraid of borrowing a little money. What happened? We through the bums out.
    Not true. The bums are still there, and spending got worse under Bush’s administration. Are we talking about the same country (the U.S.A.) ?

    Like KansasDem said, your responses are very puzzling.

    Craig wrote: What did we just do? We just through the Republican bums out.
    Wrong again. For the last 10 years, neither party has much of a lead. Congress is still:
    • the same teams (merely taking turns being the IN PARTY and OUT PARTY)
    • the same players (90% were re-elected)
    • the same old game
    • the same old results (the nation’s problems still go ignored)
    The politicians don’t care, because they still believe voters will still keep rewarding them by repeatedly re-electing 90% of them.
    Craig wrote: Guess what the new one is? (This may hurt). You guessed it. “An inconvenient Truth”. Remember the current trend line is not going to continue to our ruin because it never does. Already the scientific community has predicted Ocean increases at only 10% of Al Gore’s. Global warming is a problem, but it will not bring ruin because the curve of human activity always changes.
    Wrong again.

    The dangerous thing about global warming is the difficulty in getting global cooperation to remedy it.
    To underestimate that difficulty is foolish.
    Especially when the U.S. (only 4% of the world’s 6.8 billion population) emits 25% of the world’s CO2 emissions.

    Craig wrote: However, if I were in the doomsday book business, that is the subject I would be writing on!!
    Craig, The data and statistics are reason for concern. Even if the concern is unwarranted, what is the harm of it? Is it not safer to err on the safe side? No one is smart enough to predict the next few years and decades. But history shows us things and those things justify caution. You’re still ignoring the warning of Greenspan, Bernanke, and David Walker. Are you saying their warnings are false? You’re still ignoring a good many points. Now you are down-playing global warming too?
    Craig wrote: I was relaxed on New Years eve of 1999.
    Me too. Why? Because there was almost no evidence that it was anything to be worried about. I knew all the doomsday stories about that were bogus. Why? Because, as a software developer, I worked on many of the Y2K software fixes. Almost all Y2K fixes were fixed before 2000, and the few stragglers were quickly fixed afterward.
    Craig wrote: Although I see every one of Dan’s problems, I am relaxed on this matter as well.
    I think that is foolish advice. Concern is warranted. It’s not one problem. It’s all the problems combined. Some of it is things beyond our control that we fail to prepare for. You keep your rose-colored glasses. I’m going to err on the side of caution and continue to educate others about the growing list of problems, growing in number and severity. After all, it’s hard to fix something, when you don’t even know what it is. Do you object to that ? While we disagree about the consequences of the things on the list, is it not a good idea to consider plans to weather the next economic down-turn … allowing for quicker recovery? Do you think we are doing enough to make the next recession more shallow?

    That’s an important point.
    Since you can’t be 100% certain of your predictions of nothing bad anytime soon, why be so opposed to those that see the potential for it?
    If you can’t know 100% for certain, why be so vociferously opposed to those raising concerns?
    Especially when you acknowledge the long list of problems (regardless of whether you agree with the ramificaitons)?

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 27, 2007 3:59 PM
    Comment #209898

    Dan:

    Because it doesn’t make sense.

    It makes absolute sense. We have been through a season of borrowing, now we will go into a tighter time like the nineties and that graph of yours will show the debt as a percentage of GDP start to go down and to the right.

    The reason is human nature. War and recession are two good reasons to borrow $$. We have been out of recession since 2001 (not 2003 as you suggest). The war is gone from an emergency to a “generational struggle”. We can program in the cost of the war on terrorism.

    Tax revenues are increasing at great rates.

    That is the turning of the curve.

    The entitlement iceberg you talk about is not anything new by any means. My first memory of your data being presented in I think about 1980. Anyway, I have been seeing problems like yours for almost thirty years. Some problems have been solved and removed from the list others added.

    I am certain there will be some cut backs. Some increases in taxes, some increase in the deficit. Nothing doomsday about it.

    You mention Bernanke. He says that the problems will out live the baby boomers because a part of the problem is that we are living longer. Now even you cannot think our living longer is a bad thing. You cannot possibly that negative!! Please tell me that you at least will concede that longevity increases are a good thing!!

    All we need to do in over simplified form is to adjust to longer life. The good new is that we are living longer, the bad news is that unless we have saved a great deal, we will need to work longer. I would have zero, nada problem with the government telling me that full SS starts at age 70, and that if I want to early retire, it will be a lot less. What would that do to your graphs?

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 27, 2007 9:22 PM
    Comment #209954
    Craig Holmes wrote:
    d.a.n: Because it doesn’t make sense.
    It makes absolute sense. We have been through a season of borrowing, now we will go into a tighter time like the nineties and that graph of yours will show the debt as a percentage of GDP start to go down and to the right.
    I disagree.

    There are more and larger problems now than several decades before.
    I’m not saying the world is coming to an end.
    I say we are in a decline that will last a decade or more, because of a number of worsening factors, culminating all about the same time, and exacerbated by massive debt and the approaching entitlements iceberg.

    Even if it were nothing to worry about, it seems foolish to discount all of it as mere doomsday rhetoric.

    Craig Holmes wrote: The reason is human nature. War and recession are two good reasons to borrow $$.
    Human nature is one of the reasons to worry. We don’t always learn from history, and are doomed to repeated it (often).

    Starting unnecessary war is not a good reason to borrow.
    Recession is not a good reason to borrow when the debt is already excessive.
    Neither is excessive money printing (inflaiton over 1%).

    Craig Holmes wrote: We have been out of recession since 2001 (not 2003 as you suggest).
    Yes, but what I mean is that things were flat between 1999 and 2003. Things took off in 2003.
    Craig Holmes wrote: The war is gone from an emergency to a “generational struggle”. We can program in the cost of the war on terrorism.
    Right. No problem. That existing $22 trillion of federal debt and $20 trillion of personal nation-wide debt has no relavence on that, eh?
    Craig Holmes wrote: Tax revenues are increasing at great rates.
    Finally, eh? It’s likely to be temporary as the consequences of all this start to bear down on us.
    Craig Holmes wrote: That is the turning of the curve.
    We will see. A loss of 600,000 million in the markets yesterday doesn’t sound rosy. The continuing mess in Iraq is not the war on terror, and it is not making us safer here.
    Craig Holmes wrote: The entitlement iceberg you talk about is not anything new by any means.
    Right. It’s nothing to be concerned about , eh?
    Craig Holmes wrote: I am certain there will be some cut backs. Some increases in taxes, some increase in the deficit. Nothing doomsday about it.
    Yes, that’s the point.

    There will be cut backs, and tax increases.
    You don’t think that is a problem, with a shrinking number of tax payers per entitlements recipients ?

    Craig Holmes wrote: You mention Bernanke. He says that the problems will out live the baby boomers …
    How’s that, when they are living longer ?
    Craig Holmes wrote: You mention Bernanke. He says that the problems will out live the baby boomers because a part of the problem is that we are living longer. Now even you cannot think our living longer is a bad thing. You cannot possibly that negative!! Please tell me that you at least will concede that longevity increases are a good thing!!
    That’s ridiculous to infer that I’m saying longevity was a bad thing?
    Craig Holmes wrote: All we need to do in over simplified form is to adjust to longer life. The good new is that we are living longer, the bad news is that unless we have saved a great deal, we will need to work longer. I would have zero, nada problem with the government telling me that full SS starts at age 70, and that if I want to early retire, it will be a lot less. What would that do to your graphs?
    The baby boomers haven’t saved enough for retirement. Especially since they are living longer too.

    With the current debt and other factors, I think the cuts will have to be large, the eligibility age will have to be increased to age 70 or higher, and taxes will have to be increased significantly.

    It’s not easy downplay the impact of 77 million baby boomers wanting their benefits from a system they paid into all their life.
    77 million retiring entitlement recipients over the next 50 years (18,263 days) is 4216 recipients becoming elibigle each day!
    77 million retiring entitlement recipients over the next 40 years (14,610 days) is 5270 recipients becoming elibigle each day!
    77 million retiring entitlement recipients over the next 30 years (10,958 days) is 7027 recipients becoming elibigle each day!
    77 million retiring entitlement recipients over the next 20 years (7,305 days) is 10,540 recipients becoming elibigle each day!

    Let’s conservatively assume the 77 million baby boomers only live another 20 years.
    Now, lets just estimate the cost for one year with 10,540 recipients becoming elibigle each day.
    10,540 recipients per day x $9,000 of entitlements benefits per year per recipient x 365 days per year = $34.6 billion per year
    Now consider that an additional 10,540 people are becoming eligible each day for 20 years.

    That’s $34.6 billion per year more for the first year (in addition to benefits already being paid to pre-existing recipients).
    That’s $69.2 billion per year more by the second year (doubled)
    That’s $103.9 billion per year more by the third year.


    That’s $346 billion per year more by the tenth year.


    That’s $692 billion per year more by the twentieth year.

    And all that is in addition to those already receiving benefits in the first year.
    Many will not live to the end of that 20 year period, but many will, and some will live beyond that.

    Currently, about 45 million people receive Social Security and Medicare benefits.
    That could climb 84 million people in a decade (45 million + (10,540 x 365 x 10 years)).

    Can GDP grow enough to make of for that?
    Not likely.
    Especially not with:

    • [01] a large aging population
    • ;
    • [02] 77 million baby boomers will soon be retiring;

    • [03] baby boomers will earn less;

    • [04] baby boomers will pay less taxes;

    • [05] baby boomers will spend less;

    • [06] some baby boomers will down-size and consume less;

    • [07] baby boomers will start drawing on Social Security, Medicare, Rx, and Medicaid benefits;

    • [08] some baby boomers will draw on welfare as many discover they haven’t saved enough for retirement;

    • [09] many baby boomers will become a burden on their children and families;

    • [10] the ratio of tax payers to benefit recipients is decreasing;

    • [11] older Americans vote; younger Americans are very diligent about that, clearing the way for more taxes;

    • [12] government will be forced to raise taxes during a period when U.S. incomes are falling due to loss of manufacturing and jobs to increasingly competitive nations with very cheap labor;

    • [13] generational differences will create resentments as the ratio of entitlement recipients per working tax payer increases larger and larger;

    • [14] Americans are living much longer, which will burden entitlement systems and some retirees will run out of money; some will compete with younger Americans for fewer jobs left;

    They younger generations aren’t going to be happy about steep taxes and the entitlements recipients aren’t going to be happy about massive cuts.

    That is what will fuel a generational storm.
    This is what will fuel the decline of the nation (along with a number of other things).

    And one of the biggest concerns about all of it is the lack of attention and understanding about it.
    Voters and government are complacent and apathetic about all of it.
    We have more debt than ever (including after WWII) when you don’t deceptively exclude the $12.8 trillion Social Security debt, and $450 billion PBGC debt, in additioin to the $8.76 trillion National Debt, and the $20 trillion nation-wide personal debt (altogether, over $42 trillion of nation-wide debt).

    Craig Holmes,
    We’re simply going to have to agree to disagree.
    When I look at the math and the big picture, it doesn’t look good.
    History does not provide any comfort.
    History shows many periods of economic diffuculty.
    Simply believing things will all work out OK does not mean they will.

    Posted by: d.a.n at February 28, 2007 3:07 PM
    Comment #210024

    DAn:

    That’s ridiculous to infer that I’m saying longevity was a bad thing?


    I have never seen you mention anything as a positive in the economy.

    Hint. If people are living longer, a simple solution would be to require them to work longer.

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at February 28, 2007 11:27 PM
    Comment #210083
    Craig Holmes wrote: I have never seen you mention anything as a positive in the economy.
    Not true.

    I have often stated that hard working Americans increased productivity and GDP despite the fiscal and moral bankruptcy of the government.

    Here are a few excerpts of my previous posts:

    • Stocks (fair, in spite of bad government)

    • GDP (not bad in spite of bad government; a tribute to voters, not government)

    • Stocks (fair, in spite of bad government)

    • Unemployment (fair, in spite of bad government and falling median income)

    • We’re [my family] in good shape. But, it is in spite of corrupt government. We don’t live beyond our means, and don’t have any debt.

    • [US productivity is outstanding by historical averages] Yes, in spite of our dead-beat, wasteful, corrupt, FOR-SALE government, and the worthless, irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for, incumbent politicians threatening the future and security of the nation.

    • GDP growth is good in spite of meddling government.

    The economy has been in much better shape in the past.
    Looking at past debt, we almost paid off all of the WWII debt.
    But fiscal irresponsibility and inflationist attitudes took over and things started a slow decline since about 1980.
    Now the total federal debt of $22 trillion has never been larger (ever; not even during or after during WWII).
    Thus, it’s hard to find many good things (economically) that the government can take credit for, since it has been overshadowed by massive debt, borrowing, wasteful spending, and excessive money-printing for over 30 years.

    Craig Holmes wrote: Hint. If people are living longer, a simple solution would be to require them to work longer.
    Require?

    Of course, they’ll work longer if they have to.

    I never disputed the need, wisdom, or probability of older Americans working longer?
    On the down-side, the increased competition for jobs will exacerbate the generational storm.
    Whether working longer will be enough is debatable, since productivity often diminishes with age, as does earning power, and marketability of career skills.

    Regardless, working longer, and raising the age of eligibility will probably be necessary.
    What will also be necessary is drastic cuts in spending.
    Something has got to give somewhere.
    Based on the poor track-record of the federal government (in terms of fiscal responsibility), the danger to watch for is more excessive money-printing (inflation). How many times does that mistake have to be learned the hard way?

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 1, 2007 1:59 PM
    Comment #210098

    Craig,
    Some of those excerpts are from previous threads between you and I.
    For example, you wrote:

    US productivity is outstanding by historical averages.

    And I responded:
    Yes, in spite of our dead-beat, wasteful, corrupt, FOR-SALE government …

    While it’s a criticism of government, it is a positive statement of the economy.
    Likewise with the statements about the GDP, employment rate, and stock performances.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 1, 2007 4:19 PM
    Comment #210119

    Dan:

    More later, but look at this:

    But fiscal irresponsibility and inflationist attitudes took over and things started a slow decline since about 1980.

    CPI 01/1968 to 12/1980 averaged 7.45% and from 01/1981 until present 3.29 or less than half.

    If you watch the reduction in debt as a % of GDP declined at inflation was increasing and increased as inflation was decreasing.

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 1, 2007 6:18 PM
    Comment #210122

    Dan:

    Ok, let me describe some positives to you.

    1. As stated before, productivity increases are on the rise. (That’s how we are currently paying for much of medical care).

    2. Inflation is trending lower. Since 1981 the trend has been for lower inflation. That trend is still intact. (Our inflation “high” of late is low by standards of the last 40 years). That is good.

    3. Interest rates are low. This shows international confidence in our fiscal house. Thre is no way that you can have investors buying securities with and interest rate under 5% and claim they have no confidence in the institution.

    4. Household net worth is high and increasing. Granting the debt increases that you mention, assets have been increasing faster!! America is worth more now per capita than at any time in history!!

    5. Home ownership is at a record high in terms of percentage of workforce owning their own homes.

    6. Recessions are becoming less frequent.

    7. Recessions are becoming shallower.

    8. More students have high school dipomas than in the past. More students are graduating from college.

    9. This relates to the economy. There has not been a terrorist strike on our soil since 9/11!.

    10. Corporate profits are are at 40 year highs as a percentage of national income.

    11. Tax receipts are surging.

    12. The deficit is going down instead of up.

    13. Federal Interest expense as a percentage of GDP is low by historical standards. (because of low interest rates).

    14. The cash deficit is below the averages since the 1960’s.

    I could go on and on and on, but will stop here.

    Basically if you match this list with yours, it makes my point that we will muck through.

    Craig

    P.S. there are many creative solutions for your problems.
    15.

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 1, 2007 6:41 PM
    Comment #210136

    Craig,
    OK. Those are good points.
    I don’t think corporate profits is a good argument.
    I’m still not completely convinced, but I’m trying to keep an open mind.
    For one thing, my list is much longer.
    The generational storm should not be under-estimated.

    The entitlements iceberg is bigger than most think.
    It is a result of a problem that still plagues us, and has for many decades.
    A sense of entitlement has created an entitlement crisis.
    But fraud was involved.
    Fraud was part of it.

    I respect you a lot because you argue your position with a lot of facts, history, and data, and you wisely refrain from emotional outbursts.

    Still, I’m worried that a decline is in the future, because of so many factors

    You present a lot of good arguments.
    More than anyone else here at the Watchblog.
    Jack is next best at it.

    However, they don’t quite explain everything.
    Even Jack sees the entitlements iceberg.

    I still prefer to err on the side of caution.
    I don’t think politicians have a clue, and I don’t think enough voters give a [explicative].

    That’s my concern.
    History repeats itself.
    That is also my concern.
    Progress is 2.000 steps forward and 1.999 steps backward.
    That is also my concern.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 1, 2007 8:24 PM
    Comment #210157

    Dan:

    I don’t think corporate profits is a good argument.

    In 2005 corporate profits rose to $1.35 Trillion dollars. Profits are up a bunch since then judging by tax receipts. Should be over $1.5 trillion by now. That is a bunch of money.

    For one thing, my list is much longer.

    I can make my list as long as you want.

    Yes the coming storm is important. Bernanke just spoke on it this week.

    By the way, with your level of understanding you should be reading his full speeches. (get it straight from the horses mouth). You can get it at the fed’s website.

    He is clear that it is a problem. I fully admit it is a huge problem.

    Let me take Social Security as an illustration. I admit this is over simplified. I read some research on change. The research group studies professors who had gained tenure and those who failed to gain tenure. Five years after these decisions they restudied the professors and found out that their happiness levels were basically the same. Point, is we adapt to change.

    My point is that if we raised taxes, lowered benefits and delayed elegibility, in very short order, we would all adjust. (within a few years). This is “easy” to do in that the rest of the world lives on far less. There is not a social security problem, there is only a disconnect between expectaitions and resourses.

    In reality, I like the plan that adjusts downward the top tier (which I am in), and leaves the system as is for the lower tier. The reason is that the poor don’t live as long, and they depend a great deal more on the system for basic needs.

    The only problem is in our heads. We are a wealthy country. Lowering expectations is no big deal. After the screaming is done, in a few years, we will all have adjusted and moved on.

    Also on a larger scale, we have never been so wealthy in terms of choices and longevity. We need a healthy debate on what life means when life is longer than any time in history. Social Security was designed to suppliment retirement. Because longevity increases we are asking it to fund early retirements. (62 year olds can look forward to 20 or more years of retirement!!).

    I am not worried about any of those decisions. I know human nature. When the debate happens you will think the world is coming to and end. Within a year, actually within a few months, we will have adjusted and will move on. We will be wondering what all the fuss was about.

    I don’t worry about those tough decisions, because I really don’t think they are tough. You and I could make them in a day of study, and the results would be fine.

    I think we have a list of problems and a list of assets, when the pressure is high enough our elected officials will feel enough pressure to make the tough choices, and we will be fine. We just need to change our expectations.

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 2, 2007 12:43 AM
    Comment #210159

    Dan:

    The entitlements iceberg is bigger than most think.

    It is our perception and expectations. Have you read the book “tipping point?” The premise is that the world functions in a certain way, and then some very small things happen to “tip” the argument to another paradigm.

    For instance they found that african american chidren needed something like 5% black leaders to look up to. (don’t quote the figure as I’m not sure but my theory is right). IF that figure dropped below that number, then crime, teen pregnancy etc shot up. A one percent shift could cause a huge change in crime.

    We are living in an old paradimn and need to move to a new one. The current one is dying. The current one had been around since the 1930’s. Since then longevity has jumped up probably over 10 years!! (just a guess). This new long life doesn’t work and there is a new system coming. There will be a small thing happen that will “tip” the argument. When that happens the curve will turn, and our expectations of social securities impact on our retirement will change. We will have a new view of what retirement in a long life means. It means we work longer or save more.

    I think that time is shortly coming. The Democrats torpedoed SS reform this last year, because they could. To use your words the iceberg was far enough away for them to wait unitil the next election cycle so they could invent it. Now that they own congress they have to produce. Since SS is “their baby” they wont be able to afford to nix it this time.

    All these things are a turning of the curve away from crisis and onto a sustainable path.

    But guess what happens when we fix entitlements?

    ……. thinking……

    there will just be the next issue. The next issue will be global warming. Thirty years ago it was the cold war, now entitlements, then global warming.

    I respect you a lot because you argue your position with a lot of facts, history, and data, and you wisely refrain from emotional outbursts

    I am humbled by that, thank you. Wow what a compliment.

    All the best,

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 2, 2007 12:54 AM
    Comment #210167
    Craig Holmes wrote: Have you read the book “Tipping Point?”
    No, I haven’t read the book “Tipping Point”.

    I can’t disagree much with any of that.
    Yes, corporate profits are up, but wages didn’t rise much with it.
    However, what bothers me is the corporate welfare, corporate tax loop-holes, and other perk$ financed by the tax payers.
    Corpocrisy and corporatism are a real problem.
    Government is FOR-SALE.
    83% of all federal campaign donations (of $200 or more in 2002) are from a mere 0.15% of all 200 million eligible voters.

    At any rate, there is one important issue.
    There’s one thing that could derail our ability to adapt and change (with respect to the economy):

    • we fail to change in time

    • and suffer additional painful consequences because of it

    • and unfairly heap huge debt onto future generations

    We are not invincible.
    It may be foolish to believe these problems always work themselves out.
    Especially as they grow in number and severity.

    For some things, we may have already passed the point of arriving at a good, less painful solution.
    Sort of like the Iraq quagmire.
    Opportunities were lost, and now there are few (if any) good solutions to get out of that quagmire.

    Another issue is that while “we will muck through” perhaps, we can and should do better.

    As for global warming, I believe it exists.
    It is too hard to believe 6.8 billion people are having no effect on the environment.
    Especially when the U.S. has only 4% of the world’s population, but emits 25% of the world’s Carbon Dioxide emissions.

    Craig,
    I hope your right. Really.

    I don’t like thinking those problems will lead to unnecessary suffering for many decades to come.

    However, we need people to raise these issues, analyze them from all angles, and warn of potential consequences, because there will be consequences, and if we ignore them too long, the consequences will be more painful.

    My point, which is disadvantaged by the inherent negativity associated with stating problems, isn’t that the world is coming to an end, or the U.S. will cease to exist any time soon, or that we will be invaded and conquered by terrorists, or that the sky is falling.

    It is that there is a real potential for painful economic consequences that will affect us for many decades, and the longer they are ignored, the worse it will be later.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 2, 2007 6:02 AM
    Comment #210177

    Dan:

    More tonight. I believe global warming exists. I believe it is probably caused by humans.

    Here is my deal on why I think the current thoughts are wrong.

    If we were to go back to 1907 and look at predictions by scientists 100 years into the future, they would look silly. They would barely understand internal compustion engines, much less space flight computers etc. I believe changes in the next 100 years will be far greater than the previous.
    Scientists can only base predictions on known facts.

    I think the document from the UN is only useful in that it shows us there is a problem. I don’t think the 2 foot rise is relevant in the slightest because there just are too many unknowns.

    For intance, I would venture to say that if you were able to create one of your graphs that shows the world wide energy consumption over the last 100 years, and then graph at current levels of increase for 100 years, we might be able to have enough energy to COOL the planet somehow. A hundred years is a long time.

    To make my point, look at this prediction from 1868:

    Like the guy in London in 1868 who took the city’s population growth rate, the number of horses on the street, then multiplied them by the horses’ public bathroom habits. Conclusion: by the year 1968, London would be buried six feet deep in horse manure. Predictions aside, heavy vehicle traffic rather quickly replaced horse poop as London’s key transportation concerns.

    Whoever this person was, he used the same methods that global warming folks are using, he just couldn’t imagine cars!! He was correct in using his data!!

    I think the global warming data is correct, but I also believe that the their is an extremely high probability that new technologies will be invented in the next hundred years that might make Al Gore look like this gentleman a hundred years from now.

    Make sense?

    Craig


    Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 2, 2007 10:50 AM
    Comment #210191
    Craig Holmes wrote: d.a.n,
  • (1) I believe global warming exists.
  • (2) I believe it is probably caused by humans.
  • Here is my deal on why I think the current thoughts are wrong. If we were to go back to 1907 and look at predictions by scientists 100 years into the future, they would look silly. Some perhaps. Yes, I agree that there are some predicitons that don’t come to pass. No doubt about it.

    Other events can and have (in the past) had a much larger impact.
    Asteroids, comets, volcanoes, and earthquakes can do a lot of damage.

    Craig Holmes wrote: They would barely understand internal compustion engines, much less space flight computers etc. I believe changes in the next 100 years will be far greater than the previous. Scientists can only base predictions on known facts.
    Yes, and it is some of those know facts that support the reasons for concern.
    Craig Holmes wrote: I think the document from the UN is only useful in that it shows us there is a problem. I don’t think the 2 foot rise is relevant in the slightest because there just are too many unknowns.
    What is scarier about that potential 2-foot rise is what it may do to the ocean currents. The funny thing is global warming could actually bring about a global cooling. A disruption of the massive ocean currents could turn England and Europe into an icecube, because what keeps England warm as it is now, is the ocean currents. Messing around with the environment is a very dangerous thing, because the damage is often irreversible, and the effects are widespread. The potential for inadvertent harm can not be overstated.

    And world population, growing so fast and so large, can exacerbate all other problems.

    Craig Holmes wrote: For intance, I would venture to say that if you were able to create one of your graphs that shows the world wide energy consumption over the last 100 years, and then graph at current levels of increase for 100 years, we might be able to have enough energy to COOL the planet somehow. A hundred years is a long time.
    Hhmmmmm … maybe. Again, before such things are intentionally attempted, it had better be well understood. Otherwise, the outcome could be disastrous.
    Craig Holmes wrote: To make my point, look at this prediction from 1868: Like the guy in London in 1868 who took the city’s population growth rate, the number of horses on the street, then multiplied them by the horses’ public bathroom habits. Conclusion: by the year 1968, London would be buried six feet deep in horse manure. Predictions aside, heavy vehicle traffic rather quickly replaced horse poop as London’s key transportation concerns. Whoever this person was, he used the same methods that global warming folks are using, he just couldn’t imagine cars!! He was correct in using his data!!
    Many people sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic may not see the change as vastly better.

    Urban sprawl is another serious issue.

    Craig Holmes wrote: I think the global warming data is correct, but I also believe that the their is an extremely high probability that new technologies will be invented in the next hundred years that might make Al Gore look like this gentleman a hundred years from now. Make sense?
    Only if we develop those new technologies and take action before it is too late.

    There are many things that can not be fixed once it is too late.
    The wise thing to do is to keep researching this, because we might not can afford to be wrong.

    It’s well within the realm of possibility that we might wait too long before addressing certain problems.
    For example, 9/11 might have been avoided had certain problems been addressed when many were warning about specific problems. The most glaring problem was not securing cock-pit doors, despite numerous warnings. There were a number of other problems that quite simply were ignored (i.e. not merely a lack of imagination to connect the dots).

  • Another example is the Titanic.
    It could not change course in time.

  • Chernobyl is another example.
    By the time they realized what the problem was, it was too late.
    The environment was severely poisoned and will be for a long, long time.

  • The same thing almost happened at Three Mile Island.
  • Thus, we are not invincible.
    Perhaps it is dangerous to believe things will always work themselves out.
    Therefore, we need people to raise these issues, analyze them from all angles, and warn of potential consequences, because there will be consequences, and if we ignore them too long, the consequences will be more painful.

    It doesn’t harm to err on the side of caution.

    Likewise with our economy.
    Massive debt, borrowing, wasteful spending, and excessive money-printing will have consequences.
    Furture generations may those that suffer for it most.
    At any rate, it isn’t far fetched to see a real potential for painful economic consequences that could affect us for many decades.
    Especially when there is also rampant fiscal and moral irresponsibility in government, politicians are essentially bought-and-paid-for, massive wealth is abused to control government, and voters essentially reward them for it by repeatedly re-electing them.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 2, 2007 1:01 PM
    Comment #210519

    Dan:

    Just because I think there is a balance between your list and the positives in the economy doesn’t mean I am not in favor of action.

    First of all I think we need to approach entitlements on a multi pronged approach. I have tried in the past to try to solve some people problems with one answer. It almost never works.

    As solutions I would offer as a start:

    1. Doubling the number of young immigrants. The baby boomer generation didn’t produce enough children. There are high numbers of people wanting to come to this country. When baby boomers start to leave the workforce they will need to be replaced. Unemployment is low anyway.

    2. Reduce benefits for higher income recipients. Means testing.

    3. Link SS/Medicare to longevity. As longevity rises, so should the retirement age.

    4. Use tax incentives to keep people working longer. For instance help employers pay for medical expenses. Make it less than the government pays on medicare and less than a business pays for health insurance.

    5. Invest a portion of the reserves in equities. There are no negative examples of 20 year returns in our nations history. Any money in reserves that wont be needed for 20 years should be invested in equities.

    6. The deficit is at historical 40 year norms. Run a deficit that is under historical norms at least until 2015.

    That’s a start.

    Craig

    Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 4, 2007 8:37 PM
    Comment #210567
    Craig Holmes wrote: d.a.n … 1. Doubling the number of young immigrants. The baby boomer generation didn’t produce enough children. There are high numbers of people wanting to come to this country. When baby boomers start to leave the workforce they will need to be replaced. Unemployment is low anyway.
    That, in my opinion, is a V_E_R_Y bad idea for several reasons.

    Increased population will only amplify problems later.
    Most problems are amplified by over-population.
    Just ask China and India.
    I don’t understand anyone who thinks increasing population is any longer a good thing.
    It may have been a long time ago to occupy and secure vast unpopulated regions of the U.S., but not anymore.
    World over-population is already a problem and what you are suggesting will make it worse.
    Massive immigration (legal or not) is a recipe for chaos, societal disorder, resentments, and increased economic burdens since most immigrants will be mpoverished and less educated.
    We are already one of the most populous nations with 300,000,000 people.
    What you are suggesting would require 50 million or more immigrants.
    How is immigrating more of the less educated and impoverished going to help, when studies show most immigrants also use many social services for many years after immigrating (e.g. welfare, Medicaid, etc.)?
    Already, 32% or more of all illegal aliens receive welfare, and 29% of all incarcerated in all federal prisons are illegal aliens (and those crimes are not merely the first illegal trespass of our borders, because that’s a misdemeanor only). Already, illegal aliens cost U.S. tax payers net losses of over $70 billion per year.
    In a GAO Report of FBI data (9-May-2005) with a study group of 55,322 illegal aliens …

    • total offenses = 691,890 (averaging 13 offenses per illegal alien)
    • 5,992 offenses were homicide

    • Total number of arrests: 459,614

    Craig Holmes wrote: 2. Reduce benefits for higher income recipients. Means testing.
    There’s a better way. Eliminate income caps. Everyone should simply pay the same 17% flat rate income tax percentage.
    Craig Holmes wrote: 3. Link SS/Medicare to longevity. As longevity rises, so should the retirement age.
    Yes, the eligibility age must be raised slightly, and/or allow eligibility at the current elibile age at a reduced rate. Also, beneifts will have to be reduced. Something has to give somewhere.
    Craig Holmes wrote: 4. Use tax incentives to keep people working longer. For instance help employers pay for medical expenses. Make it less than the government pays on medicare and less than a business pays for health insurance.
    No, that just overcomplicates everthing. There real solution for healthcare is to get rid of the unneccessary middlemen soaking up hundreds of billions while providing no net benefit.
    Craig Holmes wrote: 5. Invest a portion of the reserves in equities. There are no negative examples of 20 year returns in our nations history. Any money in reserves that wont be needed for 20 years should be invested in equities.
    What reserves? What they should do first is quit spending Social Security surpluses. Then they can talk about investing those funds, but that is not a panacea, because it could have a negative effect by competing with other investment markets.
    Craig Holmes wrote: 6. The deficit is at historical 40 year norms. Run a deficit that is under historical norms at least until 2015.
    Not true.

    Not when you combine all federal debt of over $22 trillion.
    The $12.8 trillion Social Security debt, $450 billion Pension debt, and Medicare debt are larger than ever, and have been deviously omitted for years from the total federal debt statements. The $8.75 trillion National Debt is bad enough by itself, but the total $22 trillion of federal debt is a nightmare.
    Even if you consider the $8.75 trillion National Debt alone, it has never been worse except after WWII and 1995.

    When you consider all $22 trillion of federal debt, the total federal debt has N_E_V_E_R been worse.

    That’s 164% of the current $13.4 trillion GDP.

    Medicare is in even worse shape than Social Security.
    Those benefits will have to be reduced, or that system will implode, and take other systems with it, and possibly the entire economy too.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 5, 2007 12:50 PM
    Comment #210632

    Dan:

    I don’t understand anyone who thinks increasing population is any longer a good thing.

    It is a good idea to allow young well educated immigrants with good clean records to come to this country to pay SS and medicare taxes as our country ages. There is not age wave world wide, only in devoloped countries.

    How is immigrating more of the less educated and impoverished going to help

    It wouldn’t help. However allowing young well educated people to immigrate would help a great deal.

    Everyone should simply pay the same 17% flat rate income tax percentage.

    As somone who pays more than that when you combine SS and Income tax I like the idea. It would sure lower the taxes on the wealthy and raise taxes on the poor!!

    Craig Holmes wrote: 6. The deficit is at historical 40 year norms. Run a deficit that is under historical norms at least until 2015. Not true. Not when you combine all federal debt of over $22 trillion.

    Come on Dan I’ve corrected you on this before. I’m talking about the deficit not the debt. The deficit is at or below 40 year averages. We should lower it further. In strong economies the deficit should be under the averages. In recessions or national emergencies (like early stages of a war) it’s fine by me to have higher than normal deficits.

    I disagree over increasing the limit on SS. All that does is increase the benefits of the wealthy. I think we should lower their benefits instead. I’m sure the wealthy would agree.

    craig


    Posted by: Craig Holmes at March 5, 2007 8:22 PM
    Comment #211147

    Sorry.
    Debt and deficit are different.
    I know the difference, but often confuse them.
    They’re both dismal.
    The total debt is more important that the current deficit.
    As for S.S. benefits, all should receive the same bare minimum. Nothing more.

    Posted by: d.a.n at March 9, 2007 12:09 AM
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