Tuesday, June 5

Good Evening, Class, And Welcome Once Again To The Pitsville Mall University's Guest Lecture Series

David Brooks, "The Debt Indulgence". June 4

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.

15 comments:

Cato the Censor said...

David Brooks should be beaten with red-tipped staves, stuffed in a leather sack with a dog, a monkey, a rooster, a poisonous snake, and a copy of the Bowles-Simpson deficit reduction plan, and thrown into the Potomac to drown.

GOP delenda est!

prairie curmudgeon said...

Fiscal bubble? Is that the same as the Bush tax cut, Iraq/Afghan war, and the Boner/McCockell war on America (Obama) bubble? Jeez, if so, this freaking bubble won't grow a hard on let alone give the freaking economy a boost.

KWillow said...

Cato: your comments were boring way way back during the Roman Republic.

Anonymous said...

What I found ironic was how Greenspan insisted that President Clinton bring down the deficit and then stood by while Bush the Second ran it up. Not to mention that he also stood by when it was painfully obvious that mortgage loans were not adhering to good underwriting standards. But hey, let's just blame the people who lost their homes to outright fraud.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Nonnie, that is standard practice for wingnuts, glibertarians, and Galtian overlords.

The real question is why Obama plays along. And I think you just have to "follow the money" to answer that one.
~

R. Porrofatto said...

Jesus. An entire disingenuous column on debt and deficits and the only time he uses the word "tax" it's not to marry it to "cuts" but this:
[Walker] did turn a $3.6 billion deficit into a $150 million surplus, albeit with the help of a tax collection surge.
Boy, that "albeit" is doing so much obfuscatory work in that sentence it should get a raise.

And for this sentence alone...
A vote to keep Walker won’t be an antiunion vote. It will be a vote against any special interest that seeks to preserve exorbitant middle-class benefits at the expense of the public good.
...if I ever run into Brooks in my city I'm not going to be able to refrain from yelling at him: Brooks? Listen, fuck you. No, really. Fuck you. David? Seriously. Fuck. You. And did I mention fuck you? Oh yeah, and fuck you. Not for nothing but fuck you. Brooks? Did you hear me say fuck you? And, apropos of nothing, fuck you.
They'd have to cart me away to Bellevue.

Weird Dave said...

"...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.

Please don't take this the wrong way sir, but, I love you.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Scott Walker stole 25 million from the mortgage fraud settlement in order to pretend he balanced the budget.

And he still survived the recall. While under the threat of imminent indictment.

Proving once again, like we needed yet another instance, that you can't fail by underestimating the voting public.

I know you're jealous. All you have is a short ex-Bush flunky with unfortunate taste in wives and a stepstool for public appearances.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

thunder is, of course, right; deficits only matter when there are Democrats running things.

And, of course, to keep things in perspective, I would like to refocus the 'fuck yous' to Turdwaffle Walker.

Because, you know, fuck Turdwaffle.

Sator Arepo said...

"Wow, we went from descriptive to proscriptive pretty quick."

It's almost like he thinks no one will notice? I guess?

I can't account for his nonsense/deliberate lies any other way.

heydave said...

Well, Wisconsin, you screwed your pooch.
Now go fuck Walker.
And then fuck Brooksie.
Fuck 'em both, twice, and then once more.

Anonymous said...

The thing is that Walker cut taxes, then claimed he had to destroy the unions because of a budget shortfall that in a total coincidence almost exactly the same as the cost of his tax cut.

Fker.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

....and then used the same accounting procedure that the prior Dem Governor used to meet the Balanced Budget requirement; along with stealing 25 million from teh foreclosure fraud money to spackle over the remaining hole.

Walker, who I like to refer to as Turdwaffle, is right about ONE thing though: it is way to hard to get rid of a rotten public employee in Wisconsin.

Julia Grey said...

As long as we're fucking people, I would like to fuck Alan Greenspan, who was concerned that, given the budget surplus the Clinton Administration had managed to produce, we might pay down the debt TOO QUICKLY, and therefore he gave his imprimatur to the first round of Bush tax cuts.

Fuck you, Alan.

With a Barbie doll.

Sideways.

...

...

And here's hoping one of her little high heels gets lost somewhere.

Anonymous said...

My favorite fuck you is, "Fuck you up one side and fuck you right back down the other." Protected politicians and their goons who are ensconced in their sanitized- never have to hear the opposition- world should take heed. I mean you in particular.