YES, class, this is the same lecture you've heard the last twenty times, but today I'm going to tack on a line about the Scott Walker recall!
Every generation has an incentive to borrow money from the future to spend on itself. But, until ours, no generation of Americans has done it to the same extent. Why?Um, because that isn't true?
A huge reason is that earlier generations were insecure. They lived without modern medicine, without modern technology and without modern welfare states. They lived one illness, one drought and one recession away from catastrophe. They developed a moral abhorrence about things like excessive debt, which would further magnify their vulnerability.Goin' with it anyway, huh? Well, if you were born in 1920, as my father ("World's Greatest Dad from the Greatest Generation") was, your life expectancy at birth was 53.6 years, which was up 12% in just twenty years. He's still alive and kickin', by the way. When I was born, in 1953, it was up to 66 years, another 12% gain. In my lifetime--almost three times that twenty--it's gone up 8.6 %, to 76.5. In other words, it's still three score years and ten, which ain't exactly news, and if people are throwing caution to the winds then the advances of medical science, for some reason, come with a concomitant decrease in intelligence.
Not that this has anything to do with the National Debt. My dad was 12 (life expectancy 61; I'm using the figures for males, by the way) when the "welfare" state was born, and he was forty-five and a Goldwater Republican when the Great Society turned up, and none of it had anything to do with him, or with Polio.
Recently, life has become better and more secure. But the aversion to debt has diminished amid the progress. Credit card companies seduced people into borrowing more. Politicians found that they could buy votes with borrowed money. People became more comfortable with red ink.Professor Brooks? Would it be possible for your side to, I dunno, take a fucking position on unfettered capitalism and stick with it? Financial markets are vital to Our Economy, but people shouldn't have anything to do with them.
Today we are living in an era of indebtedness. Over the past several years, society has oscillated ever more wildly though three debt-fueled bubbles. First, there was the dot-com bubble. Then, in 2008, the mortgage-finance bubble. Now, we are living in the fiscal bubble.Listen, the only thing "society" had to do with that is that "society" elected the bozos who took their hands off the wheel, and "society" is what the careening truck smashed into as a result.
In this country, the federal government has borrowed more than $6 trillion in the last four years alone, trying to counteract the effects of the last two bubbles. States struggle with pension promises that should never have been made.Wow, we went from descriptive to proscriptive pretty quick.
Europe is on the verge of collapse because governments there can’t figure out how to deal with their debts. Nations around the globe have debt-to-G.D.P. ratios at or approaching 90 percent — the point at which growth slows and prosperity stalls. It all goes back to the increase in the tolerance for debt.I'm sorry; I could swear I've been awake all this time, and somehow I missed the proof of that. The United States of America has been in debt constantly from the founding of the Republic to today, with the exception of one afternoon during the Jackson administration. That has historically been due to war expenditures. And this period of "incredible, impossible, unprecedented debt" of yours corresponds one hundred fucking percent to the permanent war footing the country has been on since 1946, thanks, not to increasing life spans or carefree indebtedness, but to the mindless paranoid militarism driven mostly by your own party. The one so concerned with Debt.
Democrats and Republicans argue about how quickly deficits should be brought down. But everybody knows debt has to be restrained at some point. The problem is that nobody has been able to find a political way to do it.Except Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
The common view among politicians is that pundits may rail against debt, but voters don’t actually care. Voters don’t want to face the consequences of their spending demands. They’ll throw you out of office if you make the tough decisions required to cut deficits. That’s why debt mounts and mounts. Voters want it to. Until maybe today.Yeah. Because Scott Walker is the very model of fiscal good sense. And Wisconsin is the state all other states look up to when it comes to handling the financial morass.
And because if there's anything that measures the good sense of the American voter, it's the results of our elections.