Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Continued Fall of the USA's Political Leaders that We Give Power To

A few days into the new President's administration and it is as bad as anyone paying attention would have expected. It is very sad the USA elected Trump and the Senators and Representatives standing with him. The consequences of electing Trump and the others that support his actions and that are choosing not to protect the USA constitution will be very damaging.

Photo of the White House by John Hunter. This house should be a place worthy of respect (even for those with political differences) but the current occupants are straining that hope.

As a kid in high school I couldn't understand how the USA could fail as badly as McCarthyism; Japanese internment; Nixon's enemies list, watergate etc.. Other failures I would witness later, while a shockingly abhorrent, such as the Iran-Contra scandal flaunting of the rule of law and the failure to do anything about it I saw as sad but not surprising.

The USA we created isn't a binary no-Trump = good v. yes-Trump = bad. The current situation was created by us voting for who we did for decades. The actions of the people we put in power, created the system where Trump could be elected and have huge support from the others we elected.

There were many warning signs of how bad it was during the last 2 administrations. True, it is much worse now, but we were on the path here. But we have created a toxic system that was intentionally shaped by those we granted political power. They shaped a system that ignore facts, devolve discussion into 1984 News Speak, ignore the rule of law when it was convenient for whoever was on your side in the battle for power, pretend complex realities have simple solutions, badly distorted democracy with unconscionable gerrymandering, etc..

The current president and his leadership team certainly are taking the toxic situation created by those we elected for the last few decades and are taking it extremes even more damaging than those that designed it wished for it to be. But when you create and promote a dumpster fire in order to get whatever your short term desires are you can't disown responsibility for the damage that dumpster fire continues to do after you.

Photo of the USA capital by John Hunter. If those elected officials voting in this building the next few years continue as they have done in the few decades we are going to suffer greatly for the mistake of electing them.

The kids of kids today are going to be wondering the same thing about us that I did about our McCarthyism, Japanese internment... supporting ancestors. It is devastating that for decades we allowed our political parties to destroy the fundamental aspects of what the USA should stand for.

The challenges we face as a society are great enough without continuing to put in power the people that have lead the USA to the extremely sad state of affairs we see today with the actions of the current president and his supporters in the White House, on Capital Hill and in the State houses and legislatures around the country.

Sure the current president is a huge mistake we will suffer greatly for voting into office. But the problem is much deeper than just him. The political leadership has been allowed to rot to the core. He is merely a symptom of how bad we have allowed things to get.

We need to fundamentally change who we give power to if we want change. We need to provide power to those that seek to fix problems. We need to give power to those that acknowledge scientific and economic reality. We need to elect people that appose hate. We need to elect people that care more for the country than for personal aggrandizement and reward. We need to elect people that care more for the country than following the orders of their party.

Things are much worse today than a year ago but if we believe the problem is the current president we will fail to address the real problem. He is just a symptom of how messed up our country is. Replace him with his Vice President or most of the other leadership of his party and maybe a few of the most extreme embarrassments to the country would go away but the core of what they stand for doesn't change. The president is not a King or Dictator. The Courts, House and Senate can (and the Constitution depends on them doing so) block actions that damage the country. But the House and Senate are not doing so.

As the current system has evolved the politicians state a few words about they believe in such and such and don't support this other thing and then they go ahead and vote for this other thing while undermining such and such. They have created a system in order to promote the belief that what they actually do isn't what matters but what they say. That way they can fully support actions that they claim to not support. Sure the current president is even less concerned with the truth but he is just extending the policy of News Speak that became the standard practice for both parties over the last few decades.

If we are lucky a few Republicans will stand with the USA and the Constitution and join Democrats that mainly will appose just because the current president isn't from their party and we will avoid some of the worst of what we can expect. But we may very well not be lucky for a several years. Being stuck in a position where we have to hope for a few politicians to be courageous is not a good position to be in given the poor performance of our politicians the last few decades.

Related: Living Through Your Society Becoming a Police State (2013) - Security Theatre Thinking is Damaging the USA (2013) - Freedom Increasingly at Risk (2008) - The Aim of Modern Day Political Parties is To Scare Donors Into Giving Cash (2014) - Selling Out the Country: We are Electing the Wrong People to Control Our Government (2015) - SWAT Raids – Systemic Failures? (2007) - Anti-Market Policies from Our Talking Head and Political Class (2011) - We Need to be More Capitalist and Less Cronyist (2011) - Preaching False Ideas to Men Known to be Idiots (2010) - Adding More Banker and Politician Bailouts is not the Answer (2012) - Failure to Regulate Financial Markets Leads to Predictable Consequences (2009) - Don't Excuse Immoral Looters (2009) - Lobbyists Keep Tax Off Billion Dollar Private Equities Deals and On For Our Grandchildren (2007)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Government Debt - How Safe or Costly is It?

My comments on: Debt’s a Funny Thing // Plus: Why We’re Not Prepaying Our Rental Mortgage

There’s also the national debt, which it turns out is not really like debt you or I might have at all, and — this was mind-blowing to me — most economists don’t even think the national debt is bad, and some actually think we should have more national debt...

Government debt is indeed different than personal debt. It is true some of the USA debt we owe to ourselves (we also owe a lot to China, Japan and others). The situation is fairly odd now for the USA in that the interest rates are extremely low. That makes the huge amount of debt less painful - but even now 15% of the spending by the government is just paying interest. And that could easily double without interest rates really even getting high. That is a real problem. To the extent we owe it to ourselves it is less of a problem but we owe lots to people overseas which means we are going to be paying back hundreds of billions of dollars to people in China, Japan... At these rates it might be fine (or even a good deal) sometime in the next 20 years it is likely to be very costly.

I wrote about the issue of government debt and the different impact of it being held overseas or within the country.

Japan has far more debt than even the USA. But it is also much more owed to themselves than is true in the USA.

The USA also has significant advantages over other countries. We can hold more debt safely than other countries due to the perception of the safety of the US$ and the size of the USA economy.

Related: Chart of Net Government Debt from 1980 to 2013 by Country - Which Currency is the Least Bad? (2012 - USD) - Who Will Buy All the USA’s Debt? (2009) - USA Federal Debt Now $516,348 Per Household (2007)