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Archive for the ‘debt’ Category

Greeks In the Streets

Posted by Ryne McClaren on May 2, 2010

America, welcome to a snapshot of your future!  Greeks take to streets in protest of deep spending cuts.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across Greece on Saturday, including hundreds of black-clad youths who clashed with the police here, as Greeks vented their rage at tough new austerity measures aimed at securing aid and avoiding a debt default.


The protests, and a planned strike on Wednesday, are a sign of the challenges ahead for Greece. On Sunday, Prime Minister George Papandreou is expected to announce cost-cutting measures totaling 24 billion euros (about $32 billion) that will include freezing public-sector salaries, raising taxes and slashing pensions. In return, Greece is expected to receive up to 120 billion euros in aid over three years.

Greece is, thanks to having their arms twisted, slashing their runaway “social democratic” spending ways, all in hopes of receiving an influx of necessary euros to keep their country from collapsing.  I mean, long story short.

But surely the can-do attitude can keep the country of Greece running, right?

Wrong.  Many in Greece are responding with nothing short of rage.  Sweet, sweet rage at the government that they require and expect to sustain them from the cradle to the grave.

The government’s proposals for deep spending cuts pushed by the International Monetary Fund have met angry resistance in a country where one out of three people is employed in the civil service, which until now has guaranteed jobs for life. The shake-up of Greece’s bloated public sector represents one of the biggest overhauls of the country’s welfare state in a generation. Fears are growing that once Greek society begins to feel the effects of the austerity measures, social unrest could unhinge a potential recovery or force the government to dilute some changes.

“This crisis is not my fault, I won’t accept these austerity measures and I want to know where all the money has gone,” Emily Thomaidis, 29, the owner of a coffee shop, said as she marched through central Athens past vendors selling newspapers with the headlines “Fear. Rage. Hope.” She added, “Why should my generation have to pay the price for problems created by our parents’ generation?”

I can’t remember the last time I read such a delicious, delicious quote in a newspaper.  “Why should my generation have to pay the price for problems created by our parents’ generation?”

Oh my… the glorious irony… the lip-smacking schadenfreude.

Because this is how it works, Emily.  This is government in action.  This is the essence of government, being acted out on the global stage: Patching and solving problems by passing the buck to its future generations.

Given the tragedy and farce of such beautiful American endeavors such as the “stimulus,” and Obamacare, I hope that the New York Times archives this piece of work for future reference, because they’re going to need to run it again and again in the coming decades.  Except the scene won’t be Athens.  (Well, Athens, Georgia, perhaps.)

But there is hope yet.  Surveyed Greeks claim to support these fat-trimming measures (84% claim that the economic difficulties present the chance to introduce needed reform).

One can only hope that they’re not three to five generations (at least) too late.

Posted in capitalism, debt, Economics, socialism | 1 Comment »

The Mind of Obama

Posted by Dan Draney on April 5, 2010

In a recent column Michael Medved argues that it’s a mistake for conservatives to criticize Obama as “evil” rather than simply “wrong.”

Will it be easier to persuade people that Barack Obama is wrong on the issues or to try to convince them that he is outright evil?

That’s a crucial question facing conservatives as we gear up for fateful election battles in 2010 and 2012.

Based on human nature and political history, the answer to that question ought to be obvious: Americans have often felt that our leaders make mistakes or pursue destructive policies but we have rarely (if ever) believed that they did it deliberately to damage the country. In the last 80 years, Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush all got voted out of office by an angry electorate but a majority of the public never embraced the idea that these floundering presidents were actually bad guys. Only during President Nixon’s Watergate scandal did a substantial segment of the population come to believe that their president might well be evil or insane, and that belief led directly to the president’s resignation. The next impeachment crisis turned out very differently, of course: with GOP efforts to portray Bill Clinton as a dangerous ethical monster bringing the president the highest approval ratings of his career from a public that preferred to view him as a lovable (or at least forgivable) rogue.

On this Medved certainly has a point: most of us would rather give the President, whoever he is, the benefit of the doubt. We want to assume good faith is behind policies, no matter how wrongheaded the policies are. Interestingly, Medved’s arguments are entirely tactical: since conservatives are winning easily on the issues, why risk conforming to the Left’s stereotype of “conservative hater.”

If conservatives persist in characterizing the President of the United States as vicious and radical, insanely bent on the destruction of the Republic, we may find reassurance from the already like-minded but we’ll lose nearly everyone in the persuadable middle. As a result, we could spend the next decade or more as an increasingly impotent, irrelevant and angry opposition, howling in the political wilderness.

In the article Medved never speaks directly to the question of whether or not he personally believes Obama’s harsher critics are correct in their assessment of the President. That is, he doesn’t try to defend Obama against the criticism; he merely argues that such criticism will be riskier and (probably) ineffective. Perhaps he has been clearer on that point on his radio show. It’s a good article, though, and well-worth reading in full.

Warning: Sarcasm Follows

Does it matter what really is inside the Mind of Obama? It’s a good, conservative rule that one should never attribute to malice anything which can be explained by stupidity. I always try to remember that rule when talking with those on the far left, but it’s difficult to do when they’re droning on about how liberal and intelligent are practically synonyms and all conservatives are knuckle-dragging, teabagging Neanderthals.

It’s particularly hard for Obama to benefit from this rule, though, because we’ve all heard endlessly about how brilliant he is. Everyone says he’s such a deep thinker, wonkishly knowledgeable about all the details of every imaginable policy question, so nuanced, went to all the right schools, etc. He’s such a smart lawyer, it’s a shame he never managed to publish any law articles, but at least he managed to crank out two autobiographies exposing us to the wonder of his ways.

So from now on, to give him the benefit of the doubt, whenever I see him make a ridiculously bone-headed policy or decision that is sure to lead the country to disaster, I won’t assume that he is deliberately trying to cause disaster. I’ll just assume it’s because he can’t see how stupid he is being.

Now that I think about it, this is clearly the Right Thing to Do. For one thing he’s heard so much about how smart he is, he can’t comprehend being wrong. Besides, there’s actually quite a bit of evidence that he’s not all that bright after all. He did think there are 57 states, that surgeons make $40,000 for an amputation, and that our employers would all save 3000% on their health insurance costs under ObamaPelosiReidCare. But we already knew from his budgets that he didn’t get 800 on his math SAT. Even today he clearly has no idea how car insurance is supposed to work. Apparently, in 20 yrs of attending Jeremiah Wright’s church, Obama was never able to understand any of the sermons.

Please help with this project. When you see something the administration is doing that seems so stupid they must be trying to screw things up, just remember: Yes. They really can be that dumb.

Posted in debt, Mind of Obama, Obama | Leave a Comment »

It’s the Debt, Stupid

Posted by Dan Draney on March 28, 2010

It’s been said before, but rarely this well. There’s more where this came from: In the End, There Is Only the Debt – Victor Davis Hanson – The Corner on National Review Online.

In short, the United States is floating far more loans than ever before in peacetime, and for longer scheduled durations, because interest rates are only a quarter of what they have been in the past. But this theory that we can endlessly multiply the size of our debt because the service costs remain low and static is a prescription for disaster — like the credit-card introductory offer of 2 to 3 percent for 6 months that hooks the naive into charging thousands of dollars, only to end up without the means to service the debt when the rate climbs over 20 percent. For a technocracy that is Ivy League certified and brags about its competency, we have fallen into the age-old trap that snares the naive ARM house buyer, the teenaged MasterCard mega-borrower, and the “free” coupon holder who heads headlong to Vegas.

That we are borrowing now at cheap interest hundreds of billions for things that are unnecessary or counterproductive will only make it worse, psychologically, when we have to pay it all back with high interest. It reminds me of the boom-to-bust neighbor who bought his superfluous super-duper, hydra-headed, metallic red-painted hydraulic vine-cutter with easy farm loans in the late 1970s and, when headed for bankruptcy in the 1980s, looked at the now rusted, useless contraption in his barnyard and sighed to me, “And I’m still paying 17 percent on that sucker!”

Posted in debt, Economics, government spending, Porkulus, socialism | Leave a Comment »

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