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United States Politics

The U.S. Careens Over the Fiscal Cliff, Reaching Only Half of a Deal 639

New submitter Jetra wrote with word that the House of Representatives failed to vote on the "fiscal cliff" deal before midnight, technically sending the U.S. over the fiscal cliff. The White House and Senate, however, reached an agreement at the last minute to allow for some tax increases, and a House vote approving it is expected in the next day or two: "The agreement came together after negotiators cleared two final hurdles involving the estate tax and automatic spending cuts set to hit the Pentagon and other federal agencies later this week. Republicans gave ground on the spending cuts, known as the sequester, by agreeing to a two-month delay paid for in part with fresh tax revenue, a condition they had resisted. White House officials yielded to GOP wishes on how to handle estate taxes, aides said." The battle over required spending cuts has predictably been delayed for another day, making the deal far from complete.
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The U.S. Careens Over the Fiscal Cliff, Reaching Only Half of a Deal

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @01:06AM (#42438999)

    "The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the publics money."

  • let the cuts begin (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @01:10AM (#42439009)

    we spend trillions on many useless things - I'd be willing to wager quite a lot that most of these spending cuts won't amount to much for the majority of the population...and, we need to scale our military to what is prescribed by our constitution - a defensive force - some drastic cuts are needed there (spread over a few years to avoid a major shock to the system)

  • Fiscal cliff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @01:18AM (#42439057)

    Yes, the fiscal cliff -- the totally preventable budget crisis that we created for ourselves because we couldn't figure out how to work together. And, apparently, still can't. So now our fragile economic recovery is going to be thrown under a bus... because we can't play nice with each other. That's a great way to signal the start of a new year. What next, placing bombs under things with two keys, one given to a republican, the other to a democrat, and then a timer set and they have to figure out how to work together or it explodes? :(

    It's stuff like this that make me wonder what the hell is wrong with my country.

  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @01:18AM (#42439059) Homepage

    If there are, they are surely on the endangered species list.

  • Re:Fiscal cliff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @01:20AM (#42439073)

    It's stuff like this that make me wonder what the hell is wrong with my country.

    It's simple. The electorate views compromise as a weakness, and elects people with similar views.

  • by anagama ( 611277 ) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @01:22AM (#42439079) Homepage

    Won't happen due to the district gerymandering.

    Over the last 20 years, the number of House districts that swing between political parties has shrunk by two-thirds from 103 in 1992 to roughly 35 today, Silver found. At the same time, the number of districts where parties win by landslides has nearly doubled from 123 to 242.

    Today, 55 percent of House members come from districts where their biggest threat is losing a primary election, not the general election. Of the landslide districts, 124 are held by Republicans and 117 Democrats (one is an independent). They have little incentive to compromise. Instead, their incentive is to play to their party base. Making independent boards responsible for redistricting, as some states have done, would be far better.

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/politics/america-s-greatest-economic-weakness-in-2012-was-its-government-20121231 [nationaljournal.com]

  • Re:Fiscal cliff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jetra ( 2622687 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @01:24AM (#42439095)
    Why are the good ones anon cowards?
  • by SternisheFan ( 2529412 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @01:32AM (#42439141)
    Do you wonder, like I do, that the whole fiscal cliff thing is really just some bit of choreographed acting job? It had all the drama, tension and suspense of an action movie. And a last minute, down to the wire, happy ending. Gosh, makes a person feel like our representitives are really sweating for us, and their large salaries/perks. I feel so-o safe in their capable hands.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @01:38AM (#42439165)

    The problem is clear. There are those that "signed" the no new tax vow, which is backed by large money if you break it.

    Apparently it is not clear given that you are offering the Norquist red herring. The actual problem is that the current plan being offered is quite light on the spending cuts side. We've seen this before, tax increases now, budget cuts promised for later ... however the budget cuts never happen. The House is actually quite reasonable in wanting to see real spending cuts in the current plan.

  • by jamstar7 ( 694492 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @01:43AM (#42439195)
    Why are you against voting for a Democrat when a Republican held the country hostage?
  • Re:Fiscal cliff (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @01:52AM (#42439233) Journal

    Then you have hyperinflation. We are seeing this now with home prices skyrocketing, food, fuel, insurance, and other services going up. The rich will just get richer and use the extra fake money to raise prices and collect rents off the poor making everyone not them poorer.

    You also have a potential situation where bond investors see the value of the dollar going to shit and demanding skyhigh interest rates due to the risk. Then you have to print more and more which creates the rates even higher! A depression will start either way.

    You can not engineer out of a debt crises. The only way out is to pay out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @01:52AM (#42439235)

    Because the Republicans are insisting on spending cuts. Something the Democrats refuse to budge on. It's not the low taxes, it's the high government spending that's causing the problems. Limited government creates economic prosperity. Government largesse stifles it.

  • by Leuf ( 918654 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:08AM (#42439303)

    Letting a temporary tax cut expire isn't raising taxes, anymore than not continuing to get a Christmas bonus in January isn't cutting your pay. I really have no idea why no one calls them on this nonsense. If you are only interesting in technically not raising taxes then you can play whatever word games you want.

    The problem is that Republicans see this as an opportunity to cut every program that they disagree with while continuing to spend just as much or even more on the things they do agree with. This is their opportunity to do with the budget what they can't do with votes or the courts, and they won't accept that their little fantasy isn't possible.

  • You realize America is trying to run a first-world state with taxes that are around half of what they are almost anywhere else in the developed world?

    This is the horrible thing about the current Republicans operate... Break program X, whatever X was going continues to coast on inertia in the short term, they brag about how we obviously didn't need X. Then of course the fallout lands, but by then it's too late, because X is Big Gubbermint Soc'lisms now.

    Well, 30 years of "the wealth will trickle down" are now coming back to haunt us. 30 years of "if we only cut taxes enough we'll be more prosperous" is now coming back to haunt us. 30 years of blind faith in the Invisible Hand are haunting us. Starting two land wars, and then cutting taxes instead of passing a war tax (the first time in American history any administration has been so staggeringly foolish) are coming back to haunt us.

    We may not like it, but taxes are the price of civilization.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:12AM (#42439325)
    the government has been spending nearly double what it earns for many years now, how is that not a spending problem? live within your means or pay the consequences later. It is almost time to pay the consequences and it is going to be severe no matter how you spin this one.
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:14AM (#42439339) Journal

    And then when the first big hurricane, tornado or tsunami of Paul's presidency kills tens of thousands because NOAA has been wipes out, I'm sure you will feel proud of having put an ideological fruitcake in the White House.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:22AM (#42439381)

    Please remind eveyone you know that the Republican party were behind the legislation that created this artificial fiscal cliff as an act of political brinksmanship to impose their policies into the budget. Any fallout can be laid at their doorstep. Why the President is negotiating at all is a bit of a mystery to me.

    Being a non-Republican conservative, I'm okay with going over the cliff. We need both the reduction in spending and backlash to decimate the extremist Republicans currently in office.

  • by mdenham ( 747985 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:31AM (#42439411)

    we all have hyper inflation (we are seeing this now in food, insurance, gas, etc).

    Hyperinflation has a specific definition (50% or higher monthly inflation, so ~12,900% annual inflation).

    No, we are not seeing hyperinflation. We aren't even seeing inflation anywhere close to what has historically been "high" in the US, except in the healthcare field! Hell, up until this weekend, gas prices were dropping.

    The Tea Party is trying to undo everything that made the country great back in the 50s and early 60s. What do you call someone trying to undermine the country?

  • Re:Fiscal cliff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:33AM (#42439417)

    But this? Yes, the Tea Party said enough is enough and put their foot down saying "If you are not going to be serious grownups and live within your means with no plans to pay it back, then I wont sign the check". That is what the debt ceiling is.

    Except the middle of an economic crisis is a really bad time to suddenly get concerned about the dept (why weren't they around in the Bush years?), particularly if your attempt at austerity causes the economy to go into recession, the tax receipts to plummet, and the social safety net to balloon.

    It is not a new budget. It is to pay your existing bill. Every American owes $150,000 each [youtube.com] and by not going off the fiscal cliff you are telling your creditors that you wont pay them back! In essence raising the debt ceiling is simply paying your credit card bill by charging to the same company over and over again.


    Any bond investor would be nuts to invest in the dollar right now.

    Apparently the market disagrees with your assessment since treasury bonds are at record lows [blogspot.com]. All those people are apparently convinced they're going to get paid back, as someone with faith in the market I tend to take their word over yours.

    Republicans are trying to do the right thing and that is do what they were hired for. To put in an ultra conservative mandate in 2010 to stop government and bailouts. Not everyone agrees with this, but I happen to feel Obama is not being serious enough with cuts and republicans know how to talk to the talk but refuse to raise taxes.

    We need 5 fiscal cliffs in a row for the next 20 years to dig out of this hole. Seriously, Americans are clueless and watch what will happen next?

    The Tea Party had a bit of a mandate in 2010, but now they've definitely lost it. And it's quite doable to start paying off the dept without a cliff, simply wait for the economy to get going again, then raise taxes, slash military spending, slash healthcare spending, maybe a few other bits, then soon you'll be in the black and paying off the dept.

  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:35AM (#42439423) Homepage
    The United States government gets plenty of taxes already, thanks. What's the figure, something like one-third to one-half of all wealth created in the nation goes to the government? New taxes are not the solution. They aren't even the precipitate. Give them more money, and they will just waste it. Guaranteed.
  • Re:First Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:43AM (#42439445) Homepage Journal

    Careens over the cliff? I thought it was a rather graceful slide, myself.

    Ehhh, that "fiscal cliff" thing was very over rated. The best thing they can possibly do, is to allow all those things to just kick in. Our government can never be out of debt, so long as they are paying bankers to administer our currency for their own profit. But, still, the best thing we can do is to raise taxes, and cut the many "entitlements". Starting, of course, with the very special entitlements for the rich.

    A balanced budget amendment is what we need, more than anything else. The onl y sensible thing to do, is to ensure that our debt shrinks a little bit every year. GROWING the debt is just plain suicide.

  • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:44AM (#42439449)

    Why are you against voting for a Democrat when a Republican held the country hostage?

    NO. The republicans and the ~50% of the people who voted republican are "holding the country hostage". Of course they would say that the democrats and a bunch of crack mothers are holding the country hostage and leading us to financial ruin. That's really the problem.

    Blame the other guy all you want, but the numbers are right there for us all to see. As a nation, we do not agree, we do not agree in approximately equal numbers, and haven't changed our positions after several elections. There is no way for Obama nor Boehner to keep their constituents happy, so they must drag this out until we are all pissed off enough to accept concessions. While I agree it is baffling with the election over, why they couldn't come out with a plan that pisses off both sides equally now, rather than drag it on another month, that is going to be the ultimate conclusion. Everyone is going to walk away from this mad, having lost something and gained nothing. It's the only way this ends, and as long as we continue to blame the other guy, it will drag on and on.

  • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:45AM (#42439455)

    Bullshit. US GDP 2011 $15 trillion. US Federal tax receipts 2011 from all sources $2.3 trillion. Divide, and we discover it's 15%. Your parent post thinks it should be 33%, and to be in line with the rest of the first world, he's right. That would finally make it to one third. One half? Not even close.

  • by PacRim Jim ( 812876 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:46AM (#42439459) Homepage
    There is no common ground. The far-left Democrats who have captured the party believe in spending and taxing. Period. Republicans believe in protecting the middle class from over-taxation, believing that the private sectors better allocates money than do the various levels of government. You can't reconcile fire and water. Try and you'll get steaming ashes.
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:59AM (#42439517) Journal

    What did you pay for gas 10 years ago? It went up 300%. How much was your house worth in 1999? My guess is 40% its current value.

    That is inflation and why did it go up? Because the fed pumped money into banks. The investors made bank and they used that money to flip homes. Your health insurance company can't make a profit with interest rates near 0%. So they charge you more to make up for the low interest rates. Banks and rich with extra fed printed money just go buy up things like fuel, gold, or loan it back to the government where you pay the interest to them later etc. Gee thanks.

    I do not agree iwth the Tea Party 100%. But when you have 15,000,000,000,000 something has to give. Yes, austerity is needed to pay it back. That money wont just vanish. It will be used to invest in small business again. Why should MegaBank invest in your dream home when it can loan it back to the government and be gauranteed paid! You can't compete with the US treasury so your employer can't expand etc. It is classic economics 101 and not this keysenian stuff they try to do today.

    I see nothing wrong with saying NO! Show me you are going to pay back and I will sign the check?

    A fiscal cliff is A HELL OF ALOT BETTER than the alternative of a currency crises. The US would collapse and I am not exgerating either. Every bank would close with every corporate and personal savings account where 90% unemployment would happen within a few months as each bank would collapse like dominos in such a frightening scenario. The 1930s would not be as bad as debt was not as contagious or as widespread as today. It is too ingrained.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:22AM (#42439609)
    less taxes is a fine and workable situation, Just as is higher taxes. With less taxes the goal is a lean government with essential services and minimal extras, more taxes provide more services. The problem is everyone seems to want all the services while not paying the taxes. Either system can work, but you can't just take the good bits of both and stick em together like the current situation. The people/Government need to choose what it is they want and then work within that, it doesn't matter which one is chosen, they both really can work.
  • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @03:40AM (#42439659)

    The United States government gets plenty of taxes already, thanks. What's the figure, something like one-third to one-half of all wealth created in the nation goes to the government? New taxes are not the solution. They aren't even the precipitate. Give them more money, and they will just waste it. Guaranteed.

    Nonsense. Taxes in the US are at an all time low. The last time the wealth was this badly skewed in favour of the super rich with such ludicrously low taxes the Great Depression happened.

    It's not a coincidence. Funnelling money into the hands of the few and crippling the middle and lower classes brings the economic engine to its knees.

  • Re:First Time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:15AM (#42439783) Journal

    No, a balanced budget is the last freaking thing we or any country needs.

    I am stunned at the depth of your denial.


  • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:16AM (#42439785) Homepage

    Limited government creates economic prosperity. Government largesse stifles it.

    Which is why Somalia and Afghanistan are the most prosperous nations in the world, while Norway and Canada are hopeless dystopian nightmares. Right?

  • Fiscal Cliff? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:25AM (#42439833) Journal

    Careen over the fiscal cliff?

    Oh, c'mon !

    When tomorrow arrives, the sun still rises from the East, tides still ebb and flow, and billions of people still go to work (or looking for work), just as usual.

    It doesn't matter if the US politicians have failed to come up with a compromised.

    The world still goes on, as usual.

  • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:27AM (#42439849) Homepage

    So which of the major spending by the government are you ready to do away with? Defense spending, Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid?

    I think I'd start with Defense spending, which could easily be cut in half [thedailybeast.com], and we'd still have by far the largest military on the planet [pgpf.org].

  • by TemperedAlchemist ( 2045966 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @04:57AM (#42439961)

    Well, even if the parents were irresponsible twats, you can't very well leave those children to dry, can you?

    I mean, you'd really have to game the system to make a lot more than that. Welfare bonuses are a source of income, so you can't just accumulate a bunch of them and be like, "I MAKE NO MONEYZ GIMMEH MOAR." It doesn't work that way. If you get SNAP you may not receive full electricity reimbursement or some other form of welfare assistance. And yes, workers can look up if you are. So I mean, if you're that good at gaming the system, then you'd probably be good at gaming other systems too, like the markets.

    A lot of the problem is that full time workers receiving minimum wage are getting 12k a year. If 6k a year costs rent/utilities in some shoddy apartment. That leaves only 6k to live on. You've got $500 a month to pay for food, gas, and other necessities. They work plenty hard, I've seen them, some with a kid. And they have to have SNAP just to be able to live on something other than ramen.

  • Re:First Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shentino ( 1139071 ) <shentino@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @05:34AM (#42440149)

    The main thing is that the corporate welfare beneficiaries also have a lot of influence in DC.

    Which means that threatening their gravy train is going to derail a lot more than corporate welfare.

    The rich threatening to throw a hissy fit if the budget is balanced are the only ones making it not a slam dunk.

  • Re:First Time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eugene ts wong ( 231154 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @05:37AM (#42440157) Homepage Journal

    Or you can just save your money and spend more as the economy increases. Instead of spending on interest, just spend it on things that we care about.

  • Re:First Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shentino ( 1139071 ) <shentino@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @05:41AM (#42440179)

    Balanced budgets are good things.

    So, however, is capital investment. If you can make more money later by getting into debt now, you can come out ahead later even if you get behind now. The trick is to run the numbers and only use debt when it will beat the interest charges in return on investment.

    If the economy is in the toilet it's quite profitable for a government to cut taxes and raise spending to prime the pumps.

    Once the fields of the market get watered and the economy starts growing, the feds can harvest a bumper crop in tax revenues later without causing a famine from harvesting it too early.

    Government spending to improve the economy is a capital investment just like someone spending money now on better equipment to make more money later. Governments earn their taxes taking care of their citizens just like companies earn their revenues providing products.

    Staring only at the balance sheet for one year at a time is short term thinking.

  • Re:First Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SomeKDEUser ( 1243392 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @05:52AM (#42440219)

    The only time in the history of Humanity where the medium of exchange had its own value was when some guy exchanged an arrowhead for a piece of lether string.

    Money is nothing magical. You do some work, I do some, those things never intersect but are both necessary in society.Thus some mode of accounting is necessary that you and I exchange, within the confines of society, the product of our labour.

    We call this accounting method momey, and it is just a convention that little counters serve as markers of how desirable our work is to others at large. There is no reason -- in fact it would be terrible -- that the counters themselves have value. If you think fiat money is a scam, you are an idiot who missed the train some 4000 years ago.

  • Re:First Time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by anagama ( 611277 ) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @05:54AM (#42440225) Homepage

    While I tend to agree with you that taxes need to rise and spending needs to fall, but there were some real consequences (or still are actually) if the deal doesn't go through. The Alternative Minimum Tax, which was once upon a time designed to make sure the wealthiest Americans would pay at least some taxes, is not indexed for inflation and has to be reset manually every year. If it doesn't get reset right now, couples who earned $45k per year in __2012__ (this means this coming tax bill, not next years (there is not a whole year to fix it)) will get hit with the AMT. That's $33750 for you slashdotters (filing single).

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324731304578191863373273492.html [wsj.com]

    You also don't get use your standard deduction or other deductions when calculating your income subject to the AMT. Plus, if you're expecting a refund to pay for Christmas, you might not even be able to file your taxes till March because the IRS has to mess around with its computers.

    So, kind of a big deal.

  • Re:First Time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @06:09AM (#42440267) Homepage

    I've got a mortgage (debt), yet my budget is balanced. It's economics 101. If you have a debt, it means you have to use money to pay off the debt. Debts are time-shifted expenses at an additional cost; it's not free money, you still have to pay what you spend.

  • Re:First Time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by a_hanso ( 1891616 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @06:10AM (#42440271) Journal

    a national budget is a much more interesting beast

    When I read that, I thought you were going to explain why it is an interesting beast in the next paragraph and tell us exactly what you mean by "interesting".

    Simpleminded folk like myself think that spending more than you have is a bad idea, and spending more than you will have is an even worse idea (i.e. ballooning debt). I would love to know if I'm wrong. However, your paragraph #2 is about taxes, R&D, infrastructure and retirement age. Now I'm confused.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @06:21AM (#42440313)

    The thing is - debt, and the size of government and military, always expands more under conservatives.
    Conservatives talk about small government, but they still want a secret policeman in every bedroom. They are by definition a dead end.

  • Re:First Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @07:03AM (#42440443) Journal

    Gold standard? What the fuck's that all about?

    In 1975 did you walk around with gold in your pocket? Or did you walk around with arbitrary tokens that you could exchange for gold?

    Because right now you can take arbitrary tokens out of your pocket and exchange them for gold. Or platinum. Or titanium. Or food, toys, services.

    What's so fucking special about gold anyway? Ooh, it's shiny. Oooh, I can have more than him because I'm rich. How are you rich? Because you have more lumps of metal than he does? Hey, those are called 'coins'. You can still get them.

    Anyway, there's a limited amount of gold. What happens when there's more cash than gold that you can buy with it? Does the amount of gold you can buy for each $100 bill fall, or does the government fail to meet its obligations? One negates the gold standard, turning gold back into a mere commodity, the other shatters it.

    Now, speaking of idiots - we're the ones who auctioned off all of our gold, remember? When the shit hits the fan, we have nothing to fall back on.

    Really? You have oil reserves. You have a hell of a lot of land. You have a good supply of skilled labour. You have strong research and development capability. You have an extensive manufacturing base. You have stocks of multiple commodities.

    I come back to, what's so fucking special about gold? What are you going to do with it anyway, when you have to fall back on it? Sell it? Shit, you've already had to do that because you're in so much debt.

    Please, tell me, because I'm confused as hell, just what's so fucking special about gold.

  • by rhsanborn ( 773855 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @07:07AM (#42440467)
    The top 1% control 43% of the wealth of the nation. ...gosh, that's awfully close to the amount of income tax they pay. Shit, don't let that get out, it might hurt their pity party.
  • Re:Fuck the US (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @07:28AM (#42440515)

    (1) USA is #1 in donations per capita, and #3 in volunteering of time [forbes.com].

    (2) Government-forced "aid" should not exist - all charity should be voluntary. When given voluntarily, in a free market environment where charity institutions compete on the basis of merit, aid tends to be far more effective. What is the point of giving money to some third-world dictator if it only strengthens his power and makes his "subjects" worse off in the long run?

    (3) You cannot compare a country as large and diverse as the USA to a couple of small hand-picked homogeneous Northern-European nations. These few small countries have a remarkable culture and work ethic [wikipedia.org]; they were the first in the world to go capitalist and industrialize, and they have been coasting off the economic momentum ever since. Why not compare USA to a slice of Europe with a comparable population of 315 million? The per-capita numbers will definitely be in USA's favor!

    (4) The "wretched refuse" [wikipedia.org] immigrants from those countries that left for America are now wealthier [cato.org] than those that stayed! Comparing apples to apples, I bet Scandinavian-Americans / Dutch-Americans / etc also give more to charity than their counterparts that have remained in Europe.

    (5) A large country is also disadvantaged in "foreign aid" numbers - someone from Utah helping a Hurricane Katrina victim doesn't count, while an Austrian giving to a charity in near-by Albania does.

    (6) Lest you forget - it was USA that paid to save the world from a multitude of global socialist threats over the past century, from Fascism to Soviet Communism to Baathism, including clandestine ops that have saved many countries from going socialist in the first place. Chile [wikipedia.org] would be just another Cuba if not for the USA! The same could be said about dozens of other countries as well. But, instead of recognition and gratitude, all USA gets in return is jabs from economically-illiterate punks who once saw an emotionalist Michael Moore movie and now think they have a monopoly on truth!

    (7) Foreign aid might be a national religion in places like Norwaystan, which has so much natural resources per capita that they're ridden with guilt over it, but most Americans make their money the hard way. USA has no ancient monarchies and noble houses passing wealth from generation to generation. It also doesn't have a history of colonial tyranny on the scale of the Belgians, and no ghosts of war and genocide like the Germans. We (and I'm a naturalized USA'ian, by choice and conviction) don't need to use foreign aid to fig-leaf our guilt!

    (8) What most people fail to understand is that, before being redistributed, wealth must be created in the first place, and therein lies the chief virtue! Putting your money into the private sector (including "microcredit" [wikipedia.org]) instead of giving it away also does tremendous good. Poor people of this world benefit from technological innovation and investment far more than they do from simple handouts of aid! Give a man a fish, and he may eat for a day; give him freedom and a more rational way of life, and he will never be hungry again!


  • Re:First Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @07:50AM (#42440567) Homepage Journal
    Among the overarching ironies of all this is that the people whinging on about "corporate welfare" fail to support any of the Tea Party effort to restore anything akin to representative democracy in the U.S.
    Where is the "72 hour" rule in any of this? We've had two months of Fiscal Cliff drumbeat, and it comes down to a Yet Another Congressional Drive-by.

    -Push all Entitlements back to the states.
    -Rescind the 16th&17th Amendments.
    -Remove Bernanke's anti-Constitutional power to inflate the currency.
    -Move the House closer to its original apportionment per the 1787 Constitution.
    -Adopt something like Randy Barnette's Bill of Federalism [forbes.com].

    In summary, confining our Federal Government to federal tasks will see us relatively less fed up.

  • Re:First Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @08:29AM (#42440701) Journal

    Given you replied to my post, I'll respond. I'm sure Bubba will reply if he has anything to say too.

    Theoretically, a nation on a gold standard has gold in a vault somewhere that is equal in value to all the currency it has in circulation.

    The US would have to buy around 45% of the gold ever mined to cover its issued currency at current prices. Forgive me for finding that laughable.

    If we weren't paying private banking for the privilege of using their fiat money, the government wouldn't be in debt.

    When the UK came off the gold standard, it's because they couldn't borrow enough money to buy the gold needed to meet the demands of people wanting the gold.

    Governments borrow money. They don't have to borrow it from banks, they could borrow it from other countries. This is one reason you have sovereign wealth funds.

    Not to mention that the fiat money merely exists, it doesn't belong to bankers any more than it belongs to you or me (specific quantities aside). The government doesn't have to pay the bankers a penny to use it, although they may deem the bankers' services to be valuable, in which case payment is the traditional mechanism for acquiring those services.

    A gold standard has it's own strengths, one of which, you can remove some from your pocket, or your vault, and give it to a creditor, who can carry it home with him. Standards. Today, we have none.

    I still don't understand. Why gold? Why not platinum? Why not pieces of slate? I like slate, I'd rather have a slate bed to my snooker table than a gold one.

    Why not whatever commodity you happen to have hanging around at the time? Where minerals, elements (including but not limited to gold), labour (yes, labour) and frankly anything that can be sold and re-sold can be a commodity.

    And why not a piece of paper that can be used to acquire those commodities? Why not an electronic record that allows instantaneous, convenient and efficient exchange of value?

    Please, I'm still confused. What's so fucking special about gold?

  • Re:First Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by makomk ( 752139 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @09:26AM (#42440907) Journal

    You're confused as hell, Bubba. Google for "gold standard". Theoretically, a nation on a gold standard has gold in a vault somewhere that is equal in value to all the currency it has in circulation.

    Well yes, that's the problem. There is absolutely no reason why the total value of the economy should have any particular relationship with the total value of all of the gold in existence, which leads to all kinds of fun when the economy expands and you have to somehow convice everyone that gold is now worth more not because it's actually more useful for anything (it isn't) but because we need it to be worth more in order to have enough currency in circulation to support the actual value of the parts of the economy that are genuinely worth more.

  • Re:First Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @09:58AM (#42441031) Journal

    The problem is that is does not get paid back. Even the Keynesian purists would not hold that the money supply should forever increase faster than the economy actually grows. I think Keynesian economics is a whole lots snake oil myself but I will concede we don't have a good test lab for it. Our economy as its been engineered today makes it structurally impossible to actually pay down the debt even in good times.

    A budget surplus is only run during the most spectacular booms, and only than by accident when the Congress critters are caught flat footed and failed to ratchet down tax rates and or create new spending in anticipation of it. When it does happen as it ( debatably did - depends on your accounting methods ) during the Clinton years its almost looked as a problem. Why?

    The root of all inflation really is government debt. The money supply is the FEDs balance sheet by and large and Treasury debt makes up the credit side. Paying off debt means you collect taxes and don't reinvest those dollars back into the economy. People are in practice okay with paying taxes when they feel they are getting something for it. They get angry when the perceive the government taking a whole bunch of money and not doing anything for them. That is why we have a T.E.A Party.

    I don't think most citizens have thought much about it but there is a subconscious reason government deficits and inflation don't bother them as much as many of us Slashdoters think it should. Hint: Its good for them. No they don't like it when the groceries and gasoline gets more expensive but historically what comes of their front pocket leaves more in their rear in real terms. How?

    The times when our government actually paid off the national debt were before a time when most of the middle class tied up all of their savings in an asset, their home, while using a debt instrument structured to take what may be their entire working life time to pay, for which they ultimately pay back between two and four time the original borrowed amount. Although stair stepped so they lose the advantage of compounding their wages typically get some cost of living growth meanwhile the interest rate paid on the debt and the principle remain the same. So with inflation a traditional 'fixed' rate mortgage actually behaves as if the interest rate declined over the life of the loan. This is why the flat wage growth over the past decade has been so hard on the middle working age middle class. Its transferred some of the cost of the borrowing from banks and rich folks with equity in banks back onto them. They'd probably be all for that except in practice other forces have many of these borrowers stretched so thin and the prior greed of lenders in pushing them to over borrow in the first place means that lack of inflation or deflation actually breaks many of these borrowers resulting in defaults and further money supply destruction, compounding the problem. Hence the almost manic fear of deflation from these folks, even though ordinarily it would be beneficent for dollar holders.

    So there it is the bulks of people who reliably vote stand to gain from inflation, they like "gifts" from the government and they don't really want to pay taxes even if they may be willing. By extension no real motivation exists in Washington to address the national debt, the reality is the public demands more of it, even if they don't know it. The trouble is and what I think may be what causes the music to stop at some point is that as the number keep getting bigger events that might have made for little ripples in the past create tsunamis. It creates perverse opportunities to arbitrage billions of security instruments for tiny changes in individual valuations you see flash crashes. You have situations where a few bad economic turns lead to really destructive positive feedback ala the mortgage crisis. In the end it won't work

  • Re:First Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @11:21AM (#42441525)

    Stunting growth is the entire idea. Keynesian economics is all about smoothing out the boom bust cycle. The government uses deficit spending in bust years to reduce the magnitude of the downswing. The government uses a budget surplus to in the boom years to reduce the magnitude of the boom (and also to save the money it'll need for deficit spending later).

    Running a deficit at all times is terrible under Keynesian economics. It's terrible under every school of economics except the fairy land one the US seems to be trying out.

    These cuts were not fast, they have been on the books for a long time. Everybody knew this was coming. Though of course the government has built a reputation for bailing everyone out at the last minute and hence, surprise surprise, businesses run with that expectation in mind and don't plan for such things and take more risks in general.

    If we were in a short term dip, then sure put it off a little. I don't think we are though (that's opinion of course, many economists disagree - of course they also thought everything was doing just great in 2005...) and putting it off will just mean it has to be done when the economy is in even worse shape.

  • Re:First Time (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ronpaulisanidiot ( 2529418 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @11:38AM (#42441671) Journal

    Government isn't authorised to run a highway system

    You don't know much about the interstate highway system, do you? The federal government does little to run it. They dole out the money to the states, who are free to do what they want with it within rather broad confines. The federal government suggests speed limits but doesn't actually force them to be at their suggested levels.

    Obviously driving licenses are a private matter between private road operators and the drivers

    And you are free to drive on private land as much as you like, provided you have permission from the land owner. Government has no say on that matter.

    Actually nobody needs to be forced to own a license

    And nobody is "forced to own a license". If you don't want to drive on public roads, you don't need a driver's license. Amazing how that works, isn't it?

    government is not supposed to be able to use it as identification either

    The federal government does not recognize a driver's license as identification as they are issued by states. States have the freedom to use them for what they want.

    Actually 911 shouldn't be federal issue at all

    The only thing federal about 911 is the number itself. If you would prefer that every state or county have its own emergency number, you can make that argument, but the federal government doesn't do squat with the 911 system.

    There is plenty of business opportunity there as well.

    You mean like the large number of private ambulance companies in this country? Indeed lots of people are making money off of 911. There are also companies like ADT and lifeline that are making money by sending automated requests to 911.

  • Re:Fiscal cliff (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @11:42AM (#42441701) Homepage Journal

    No, this is what you get when you have a bought and paid for Congress. Lobby money bought them, now they're delivering on their promises to keep from raising taxes on the rich and the corporations.

    No, it's definitely NOT what you get when you have a bought and paid for Congress; in that case we'd have some kind of "compromise" that'd keep taxes low on the rich, even if it made the deficit worse. This is what you get when you change the parliamentary rules to disenfranchise the minority party but your own party is so divided you can't enforce party discipline.

    In the post Gingrich/Hastert Congress, speakers only allow votes on bills the majority of his party's caucus will back. The speaker doesn't allow votes on bills that might pass because some of his party vote with the minority party. The problem with the 112th Congress is that the majority caucus (the Republicans) are split between pragmatic old-school conservatives and Tea Party radicals. Not to mention those who have reason to fear Tea Party activism in the primaries -- a side effect of gerrymandering safe Republican seats is strengthening radical party elements in a district.

    In any case, since the Republicans can't decide on an agenda the majority of their caucus can get behind, and the speaker won't allow measures to come to vote if they'd only pass with a coalition of Democrats and pragmatic Republicans, nothing gets done. The 112th Congress is possibly the least effective Cognress in history, not just failing to pass no-brainer legislation like veterans benefits, but failing to even bring them to a vote. In the end it boils down to one man, Speaker Boehner, whose leadership is so weak there's almost no point negotiating with him. He can't even get his coalition to pass *his own proposals* for dealing with the fiscal cliff ("Plan B").

  • Re:First Time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday January 01, 2013 @02:20PM (#42442835) Journal

    If the economy is in the toilet it is quite profitable for a government to cut taxes and raise spending to prime the pumps.

    NO. It can be profitable, but it often isn't. You must consider two things:

    1) What the money is being spent on. If you spend it to build a road everyone drives on, you'll have a good multiplier effect. If you spend it to build a road no one drives on, you'll have a negative effect on the economy.

    2) Where the money comes from. If you take it from someone who would expand their business to hire more people, you've just hurt the economy. If you take it from someone who was going to just hoard it in the ground, then you helped the economy.

    You must consider where the money comes from, and where it goes. If you don't consider those two things, then you can't know if your spending will help or hurt the economy.

The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the fabricator and impossible for the serviceman.