Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Real Budget Deficit: Washington's On Drugs

Here's a story on the real budget deficit. My right-wing blogger friends love to recite how much the announced deficit is as a percentage of GNP. They also broke into misty sobs of joy when the deficit came in better than White House projections - falling for the oldest trick in the accounting spin book. I occasionally see articles about our true financial exposure: What we are obligated to pay out versus what we have taken in. These articles are truly stunning and they explain a great deal. It really might be pointless to quibble about a few hundred billion dollars when we are this screwed. That's like complaining that your bathtub is running over when you're on the Titanic. Maybe our crazed bunch of chicken-hawk warmongers want it this way. Maybe they want us in a position where military strength is all we have left. One scenario I really dread is if America implodes financially and we are like Great Britain: The former bad-ass empire that has to get humble in a hurry. Especially since we've done such a good job of infuriating the world. The answer to these questions is going to arrive within most of our lifetimes, if not this Fall. There is something about insane spending that has a way of hurting you before you expect it. I keep wondering what would happen if the Iranians turn off the oil? Could that be the tipping point that crunches the economy? Maybe the tax breaks for the rich are just an acknowledgment that America is going down financially. Maybe those tax breaks are the elite getting on the lifeboats as the Titanic orchestra plays into the cold night.


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