I can listen to Congressman John Boehner, but I can't look at him. Those eyes creep me out. Stop staring at me, dude!
Author’s note: I won’t be offended if you don’t read this post. It’s very long, it’s about the economy, and I really only wrote it to help myself sort out my own thoughts and feelings.
Read the following quote from Rep. John Boehner, the well-tanned Republican who represents the good state of Ohio: “The American people are screaming at the top of their lungs to Washington, ‘Stop! Stop the spending, stop the job-killing policies!’ ”
Dramatic, isn’t it?
When I first read that line, I panicked and ran into the streets with my hands waving in the air to hear the American people screaming, and maybe to join them by doing some terrified screaming of my own.
I didn’t hear anybody screaming. I didn’t hear anybody yelling, talking loudly, conversing insistently, or whispering. I didn’t even hear any semi-automatic gunfire, and in America, that’s extremely rare.
It was as quiet as a post-apocalyptic Kansas corn field on a windless day at noon. I wouldn’t have been surprised at all if Will Smith or Denzel Washington had suddenly burst through the corn stalks with a sawed-off shotgun to make sure I wasn’t an alien, or a zombie, or the worst possible combination of the two, an alien-zombie.
Hmmm, I thought silently, because I often do my thinking to myself so that people won’t think I’m schizophrenic and have me locked up, What’s Boehner raving about?
In the end, I decided Boehner was speaking hyperbolically in order to make a point. His point being that he hates liberals in general, and Democrats and President Obama in specific. Boehner blames them for allowing our national debt to spiral out of control, even though there always seem to be plenty of Republicans running around the country practically throwing money at fighter jets, bridges to nowhere and bondage-themed nightclubs featuring topless lesbian dancers. Actually, to their credit, Republicans were literally throwing money at the topless lesbians, not just doing it metaphorically. That’s the most direct example of trickle-down economics I ever heard of, and the most salient argument for Reaganomics since President Reagan quipped, “Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.”
Still, America owes somebody a lot of money. It’s probably the democracy-hating Chinese communists, the money-grubbing Japanese industrialists and the secretive remnants of the European Templar Knights who control world banking. It could be the Germans or Russians, though. Whenever something bad is happening in the world, it’s a pretty safe bet that the Germans and Russians are involved. Ask my great-uncle Gordon. He hasn’t forgotten World War II.
To find out how much debt we’re in, I checked the U.S. National Debt Clock. As of 7 a.m. on December 20th, the nation’s debt stood at about $13.9 trillion and was growing at an average of more than $4 billion a day. Everybody in the country now owes nearly $45,000, or enough to make a decent down payment on a new Morgan Aero Supersport, although most of us can’t even think about walking into the Morgan showroom because we have terrible credit on account of the national debt.
You can't buy a Morgan Aero Supersport because your credit sucks.
This debt, I’m warned almost daily, constitutes a national crisis, and to the degree that it stops me from buying a new Morgan, I agree.
But is it really a crisis?
It doesn’t feel like a crisis, because bill collectors haven’t been calling me at dinner time threatening to take away my big-screen television if I don’t pay up. Nobody armed with a greasy tow truck and an “I Hate Mom” devil tattoo on their bicep has dragged my Hyundai out of the driveway in the middle of the night.
That’s curious, because when I owe somebody a lot of money, they usually let me know about it, insistently.
So where are all those tough-guy debt collectors when we need them?
Everybody knows that America’s baddest bad-ass debt collectors work at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), everybody including Jacob Hornberger, president of The Future of Freedom Foundation, which is located across the Potomac River just a stone’s throw away from the nation’s capital. “Despite all the deceptive hoopla about the IRS’s being a nice, pleasant, friendly, benign agency, the truth is that this agency is no different, in principle, from the Nazi Gestapo or the Communist KGB,” he says.
See, I told you the Germans and the Russians were involved in this somehow.
Unfortunately, just when America could afford to put a few IRS thugs to work with their rubber hoses and dental drills, the U.S. Congress and President Obama recently decided not to raise taxes in 2011 or 2012, not even for the wealthiest residents of our country, who would drive Morgan Aero Supersports if Bentleys weren’t even more chichi.
You read that right.
Republicans, Democrats and the president made all huggy-kissy and passed legislation that will increase America’s debt by $858 billion over the next two years.
Don't let anybody fool you---world banking is controlled by the Templar Knights.
To be fair, the bill will also leave more money in our pockets for the next couple of years. It keeps tax rates at the levels they were at during George W. Bush’s presidency, preserving a $1,000-per-child tax credit, tax breaks for college students and lower taxes on capital gains and dividends. The bill also extends a series of business tax breaks designed to encourage investment that expired at the end of 2009. Social Security taxes would also be cut by nearly a third, which means a worker making $50,000—no, I don’t know anybody outside of government and Wall Street who makes that much, either—would save $1,000.
You’ll especially like the bill if you’re about to inherit a lot of money.
Starting January 1st, the first $10 million of a couple’s estate can now pass to their heirs without being taxed, which is why I’ve warned my elderly parents not to pop off before then; I want 100 percent of what’s mine (it’s bad enough that I have to split the estate with my brother and sister). Anything over $10 million will be taxed at 35 percent, a staggeringly high tax rate that would probably put big smiles on the faces of communist leaders like Lenin and Chairman Mao if they weren’t stone-cold dead. President Theodore Roosevelt, too. Teddy Bear wasn’t a communist, or even a socialist (communist light), but he firmly believed it was un-American to allow wealth to be concentrated among the rich like the European aristocracy had done, and successfully fought for the nation’s first inheritance tax to help protect the hardworking wage slaves who make this country great.
“In our day it appears as the struggle of freemen to gain and hold the right of self-government as against the special interests, who twist the methods of free government into machinery for defeating the popular will,” Roosevelt explained. “At every stage, and under all circumstances, the essence of the struggle is to equalize opportunity, destroy privilege, and give to the life and citizenship of every individual the highest possible value both to himself and to the commonwealth……”
What a mouthful.
Okay, I admit Roosevelt was a robust man who could pontificate with the best of them from his bully pulpit. But even as a grown man, he was also unusually fond of stripping to his skivvies and wrestling other robust men. That’s weird, and I can only assume our nation’s most masculine president was also a super-liberal closet switch-hitter, although I haven’t asked, and nobody’s telling.
Should we be worried about a bill that increases America’s debt at a time when we should be doing more with less, tightening our belts, thinking outside of the box and working feverishly to come up with new clichés for spending less money?
Frankly, I’m not sure. I can barely balance my checkbook, let alone fathom the endless complexities of national and global economics.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke looks innocent enough with his natty beard and his No. 2 pencil, but he's probably secretly working with the Bilderbergs, Freemasons and Illuminati and to create a New World Order.
I suspect the same thing is true for politicians like Boehner, and even financial wunderkinds like Ben Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, and Nobel Prize-winning economic columnist Paul Krugman. Bernanke and Krugman sound intelligent enough, but they both sport suspiciously similar natty gray beards and are no doubt conspiring to establish a New World Order through their shadowy participation in The Bilderberg Group. The Bilderberg Group is a secret financial society similar to the Freemasons and the Illuminati, and it’s either trying to establish global capitalistic corporate domination or a one-world government that will usher in the Antichrist, depending on your political and religious leanings and particular form of paranoia. Nobody knows for sure what the Bilderbergians are up to, and they’re probably not sure, either.
What is clear to me is that America’s debt has more or less grown steadily since July 4th, 1776. But so has the nation’s economy, because if there’s one thing Americans do even better than spend money, it’s make money. As countries go, we’re filthy rich. We’re Scrooge McDuck and everybody else is the goofy, hotheaded Donald Duck, his mischievous nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie, or their largely ignored and forgotten brother, Phooey Duck.
Our gold-plated Big Gulp is supersized, and it runneth over.
America’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is now $15 trillion, the largest GDP in the world. Our nearest competitor is Japan, which has a yearly GDP of $5 trillion—nothing to sneeze at, but they’re hardly the fattest Sumo wrestler in the ring. In fact, the U.S. generates one-fifth of the world’s economic output, even though its population makes up less than one-half of 1 percent of the world’s population.
Yes, our debt is also sizeable, approaching 100 percent of the GDP. But it’s been worse. During World War II, it topped 120 percent of GDP yet was followed by two of the happiest and most prosperous decades in American history, when just about everybody who was anybody was able to buy a decent-sized house in the suburbs, park two cars in their garage and come home from work at night to smoke cigarettes and drink martinis while their emotionally neglected kids grew up to run around naked in the mud listening to rock-’n-roll music, smoking dope and threatening to overthrow the U.S. government.
Today, we don’t have the best debt to GDP ratio in the world, but it’s about the same as the ratio in countries like Canada, Germany and France, and much better than Japan’s, which recently hit 170 percent, or Zimbabwe’s, which is an alarming 242 percent, probably because so few people know where Zimbabwe’s shopping malls are. Servicing our national debt isn’t particularly onerous, either. America’s interest payments in 2010 approached the very scary-sounding number of $500 billion, but when they’re adjusted for inflation, they’re not much different from what they were 20 years ago. The same thing is true for America’s personal debt, by the way.
It’s also important to remember that there’s a big difference between personal debt and national debt. Nations don’t borrow money to buy speed boats and prom dresses. I don’t mean to dimish the important of speed boats and party dresses, but nations, like corporations, borrow money to get important things done—to build roads and hydroelectric dams, for example, or to finance one-hundred-billion-dollar-a-year wars in the water-parched but oil-rich deserts of countries like Iran, Afghanistan and Iran. This is why China is on a spending spree. It’s smartly building a national economy, and doing it quite well while America frets about whether Halliburton and Goldman-Sachs executives are going to lose their memberships at the country club. If anything, we may need to borrow more money to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and invest in new technologies in order to maintain the world economic dominance that’s allowed us to bully nations we don’t like with impunity.
America is the Scrooge McDuck of nations---so wealthy it can still afford to bully anybody it wants to with impunity.
It’s good to be king, and when you’re in the business of nation-building, you’ve got to spend money to make money, especially when 10- to 20-percent of your workers can’t find a job.
To say it another way, debt is necessary.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying debt is good. I’d never write that out loud just in case my banker really can read, which I sincerely doubt because he seems as dense as a bar of gold, but one can never be too sure. And I’m mindful of the financial trouble countries like Greece and Ireland are in because of over-borrowing to finance their gyros stands and pubs.
I agree with people like Boehner who say we ought to start paying down our national debt, although I don’t know how to do it. Recently, I thought I had the problem solved when I read that Americans will spend nearly $500 billion this year on Christmas gifts. I felt like a genius when I decided we could simply stop buying each other Christmas gifts and use the money to pay off the national debt in seven or eight years. Then I realized we’d probably piss off everybody who depends on Christmas for their livelihoods, like the people who make candy canes and Chanel No. 5.
I guess there aren’t any easy solutions.
But I’m not sure we need easy solutions, either, because I’m not sure we’re actually in the midst of a crisis. And even if we are, it’s probably not worth screaming at the top of our lungs about—which, apparently, despite statements to the contrary, we’re not.