Archive for July 2011
WC and his readers have survived July, but not without an above-average level of hypocrisy. If you’ve got your rubber boots and gloves on, we’ll wade into some of the low points. The electronic in-box reveals:
- Andrew Sullivan reports that the ever-perspicacious (ahem) Christiane Amanpour used a multi-syllable word on one of those Sunday morning shows and the network found it necessary to provide subtitles, as if it were a Fellini film. Maybe the world is going to end in October?
- A NIMBY Award to Rep. Michelle Bachman (R, MN), opposed to all pork barrel spending, for demanding the federal government pay for a $700 million bridge across the St. Croix River. It’s not pork if it’s in your backyard.
- Another NIMBY Award to Rep. Tim Scott (R, SC) for $300 million to dredge parts of the Charleston Harbor in his district. It’s not pork “because the process was transparent.”
- A collective NIMBY Award to the 22 freshman Republican members of the U.S. House who signed onto a letter demanding additional spending for national defense. Coincidentally, the spending is all on defense projects the Department of Defense doesn’t want and involves expenditures in their districts. A special commendation to Rep. Steven M. Palazzo (R, MS) who voted to axe the expenditures and then added an amendment to restore the funding.
- And the biggest NIMBY of all to Rep. Jon Runyan (R., NJ) for saving the $95 million program that puts sand on the nation’s beaches – including the beaches in his district. It was his own Republican Study Committee that tried to bury the program, too.
- Fox News, for largely ignoring the scandals afflicting its parent, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Remember, Fox News is the outfit that during the much milder scandal involving National Public Radio called NPR “an agent of Jihadist inquisition,” among many other things.
- Michelle Bachman again, fierce critic of the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and Federal Mac as the cause of the Great Recession, herself bought a home financed through a dubious deal — through Fannie Mae. Three weeks later she was excoriating Fannie Mae at a meeting of the House Financial Services Committee. And then refinanced the loan at a lower rate through — Fannie Mae.
- But this month’s prize goes to Ron Hamman, the pastor of Independent Baptist Church of Wasilla (that would be The Quitter’s hometown), who wrote in an opinion piece for the local newspaper,
The truth is that God has given to us physical needs we commonly refer to as a “sex drive,” and he has designed for these to be met within the bounds of marriage. The trouble comes when one spouse or the other decides to exact retaliation against the other because of some offense and withholds him or herself from his or her mate. This is wickedness, and such is a violation of the spirit of marriage on the part of the withholder. Thus, if these allegations of spousal rape are due to the wife withholding herself in attempt to control or punish her husband, she is out of line with God. And it doesn’t matter how many laws are passed, it will just be another reason why God will not bless America.Wickedness, indeed. WC is unsurprised to learn that Rev. Hamman’s God endorses sposual rape and abuse. But if WC were an Alaska State Trooper, he’d treat any emergency call from Rev. Hamman’s spouse very seriously.
There are a few subjects on which WC finds it difficult to be polite. One of them is Alaskan’s incessant whining about taxes. Despite enjoying an enviable governmental infrastructure, particularly in the Railbelt, Alaskans don’t pay taxes.
There is no state income tax on individuals.
There is no state sales tax. There’s not even a state gasoline tax.
Very few communities levy sales taxes; there are none in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, or the City of Fairbanks; North Pole has a very modest sales tax, easily evaded by a 15 mile drive.
We pay property taxes, but they are quite modest. In the Fairbanks North Star Borough, the property tax is capped and hasn’t been near that cap for years. But let’s look at it in more detail.
The average sale price of a home in the Borough in 2010 was $184,656. The mill rate levied by the Borough is about 13.5 mills; higher in the cities, lower outside of service areas. Call it $2,500 in property taxes. Not trivial, but remember, that’s really all there is.
But wait, Alaskans get paid a permanent fund dividend each year; in 2010 it was $1,281. For a family of four, that’s $5,124. So in the tax game, most Borough households are net winners. That is, they get more money from state and local government than they pay to state and local government. Residents of no other state can make such a claim.
And yet we whine. All the time. Borough Assembly members like Natalie Howard whine about taxes incessantly. They talk about in “intolerable burden placed on Alaskans.”
What burden? Can WC make it any clearer? There is no tax burden.
You want a burden? In San Diego County, California, there’s an 8.9% sales tax, a 32 mill property tax, a 16% income tax and its costs $250 or more to buy your license plate tags. Ooh, and they don’t have a PFD program, either.
Can we just stop whining about it? And Natalie Howard, in particular?
It was widely known though rarely mentioned that an eager young bride could accomplish in seven months or less what takes nine for cow or countess.
-Robert Heinlein, “Time Enough for Love”
In WC’s misspent youth, he was required to attend three quarters of psychology classes in order to be allowed out of undergraduate school. At the urging of a friend – a psychology major – he attended an upper class course taught by a visiting professor from the University of Wisconsin, one Harry Harlow.
Harlow experimented with Rhesus monkeys, including monkeys at the Oregon Primate Center in Portland, Oregon. When he asked students for folks who might be willing to help with statistical analyses of his data, and mentioned there would be pay involved, WC volunteered.
Harlow’s experiments involved taking baby Rhesus moneys from their mothers and giving them a surrogate. In some cases the surrogate was a wire frame with a baby bottle for food; in other cases the wire frame was wrapped in terry cloth. In no cases did it involve a real mother.
To some extent, the baby Rhesus monkeys treated the terry cloth substitutes as a mother, running to it for comfort when frightened. But unsurprisingly, all of the baby monkeys given a surrogate mother grew up to be neurotic.
And here’s the frightening part: when those neurotic, mother-deprived monkeys grew up and gave birth themselves, the females were terrible mothers and their babies became neurotic. And their kids. And their kids. WC was only involved in years 10-11 of the study, so he has no idea how many generations of neurotic mothers Harlow produced, but he wasn’t quitting when he left Oregon.
WC thought then and thinks now that torturing monkeys was unethical and outrageous, without even going into the “Rape Rack,” the “Iron Maiden” or the “Pit of Despair.” But consider the implications for our society if the behavior patterns in Rhesus monkeys are even partially present in humans.
Which takes WC to the Palin family. Sarah Palin was apparently, in Heinlein’s kind phrase, an eager young bride, based on information in the public record. Is it a surprise that Bristol Palin, as well, was “an eager young bride,” for a given definition of “bride”? Happily, Bristol hasn’t spawned any females yet. But if she does, WC offers 5 to 1 odds.
As important as the crises of government may be, WC needs to take a break from crises once in a while. Avian photography, as readers must know, if WC’s shelter from the storm.
Here are a series of semi-abstract photos of King Penguins from back in December 2010 on South Georgia Island.
The view from the back is pretty cool, too:
King Penguins are primarily flock animals, so a few group shots seems appropriate here:
We managed only a few late evening landings, when the low polar light is sweet. Here’s one to close:
WC hopes that you’re refreshed. We’ll get back to the usual stuff soon enough. Thanks for stopping by for a break.
Sam Harris’s take down of Christopher Hedges is delightful.
The man is not only wrong in his convictions, but dishonest—and determined to remain so. I trust this is a consequence of his most conspicuous quality as a person: sanctimony. There is a main vein of sanctimony in this universe, and it appears to run directly through the brain of Chris Hedges. He has staked his claim to it and will follow it wherever it leads.
Harris’s attitude towards Hedges reminds me of the Oscar Wilde quote, “‘i refuse to enter into a battle of wits with an unarmed man.”
For WC one of the maddening aspects of the Great Deficit Debate is the willingness of the Democrats, the media and the voters to allow the Republicans, and particularly the Teabaggers, to get away with the Big Lies.
If you were to stop the average person on the street, for example, and ask them who created this worrisome, giant deficit, WC offers long odds they’d blame President Obama. And it’s just not true. Consider the following chart, lifted from the New York Times:
President Obama is responsible for less than a quarter of the deficit, 22%. The Republican’s own President George W. Bush is responsible for 78% of the problem. When Speaker Boehner feigned outrage in a speech Monday night that the poor Republicans have to clean up the mess “created by the Democrats,” well, it’s seriously annoying that no one is calling him out. President Bush had a veto, after all, and for most of those 8 years, the Republicans controlled one or both branches of Congress.
Equally annoying is the Teabaggers utter unwillingness to even consider addressing the real causes of the deficit: the Bush tax cuts and defense spending, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. Note those two elements alone, all by themselves, are more than twice the deficit generated by the Obama administration.
In a sense, the Teabaggers are indulging in the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Obama was president when the Teabaggers started shrieking about the terrible deficit, so it must be his fault. But it’s the Big Lie, as the chart makes clear.
The unwillingness of the Teabaggers to deal with the real issues of the Bush tax cuts and unfunded land wars in Asia underscores the knowing use of the Big Lie, as does the hysterical opposition to any kind of revenue-side solution. By refusing revenue increases, they demonstrate they aren’t interested in solving the supposed critical problem; only in creating a crisis through lies and deception.
WC is sick of it.
Yes, at some level it’s a game of chicken. Something we can all understand pretty intuitively in human nature and game theory terms. But to really get what’s going on you’ve got to understand one key point: one of the two cars doesn’t have a driver in it. Which changes everything.
Some Place Like America, Dale Maharidge (Author), Michael S. Williamson (Photographer), Bruce Springsteen (Foreword), University of California Press (2011) (Amazon link)
In the Great Depression, Walker Evans and James Agee (“Let Us Now Praise Famous Men”) collaborated on a series of articles that resulted in a ground-breaking book documenting in words and photos the real impact of the great Depression on everyday Americans. The photos are iconic today.
Maharidge and Williamson set out to do something similar for the current Great Recession, and the result is a compelling heart-breaking documentary book. The photos are terrific if wrenching, and the stories range from uplifting to rage-provoking.
Consider: in 1979 “Wal-Mart employed 21,000 workers”, “General Motors employed 618,000”, and “the average CEO…was paid 35.2 times what an average worker was paid”. Flash forward to 2008 (and draw your own conclusions): “Wal-Mart employed 1.4 million”, “General Motors employed 92,053”, and “the average CEO…was paid 275.4 times what an average worker was paid…”
Feel free to draw your own conclusions.
Every American voter who isn’t featured in the book needs to read – study – this book.
The only negative about this book is that if you have any empathy at all, you will become very, very angry at the portrait that is drawn. But maybe it’s about time to get angry.
From Glenn Beck’s comments on Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik:
And then there was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like, you know, the Hitler youth or whatever. I mean, who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing.
WC has dealt with sedimentary rocks that have more empathy, more common decency, than Glenn Beck, despite his ability to weep on cue. WC would label you a rabid skunk, but it would be defaming both skunks and rabies viruses. What a sorry, miserable excuse for a human being.
And a “political camp” for kids? That would be like a Tea Party Camp, like the one in Tampa, Florida, under the auspices of the 912 Project. The 912 Project was Beck’s baby.
WC lacks the words to describe Beck’s hypocrisy.
It took ten attempts, but the dreadful Chicago Cubs managed to win three games in a row for the first time this season on Sunday afternoon. It helped that they were at home. It helped they were playing the Houston Astros, who are actually have a worse record than the Cubs. And it took ten innings. It was the first time they have won three games in a row at home since late July 2009.
Ten attempts. Nine previous times this year they had managed to win back-to-back games, but were unable to create a pitiful run of three. In fact, it took 102 games.
The Cubs have so many things wrong with them that it’s not possible to fit them all into a reasonable length blog post. But here are some of the awful realities. These stats are from MLB.com. It would be too depressing to see how the team ranks in more sophisticated statistical analyses.
- The Cubs have committed the most errors in baseball, 88 through Sunday, 10 more than the next worse-fielding team. Defensively, they are the worst.
- The Cubs allow the most opposing players on base of any team in Major League Baseball. The Cubs’ pitching is nearly as bad as their defense.
- The Cubs batters have gotten the fewest walks in Major League Baseball. That speaks to poor pitch selection and bad plate discipline. The very expensive, aging and half-crippled Alfonso Soriano is probably the worst offender here. He swings at the first pitch, not matter what or where it is.
- The Cubs have the fewest stolen bases in the Majors.
- The Cubs score the fewest runs of any team in the Majors when the Cubs do actually manage to get runners in scoring position.
So, as a team they can’t pitch, can’t run, can’t field, can’t hit and can’t score. So it’s not surprising that their longest winning streak is three games, came 102 games into the season and was achieved against the lowly Astros.
The Cubbies are on a track to a 100+ loss season. They are really, really bad. Again. Still. Three consecutive wins is a feeble kind of success. Hard core Cubs’ fans cling to the pitiful streak as a kind of life ring in a bad storm. But we don’t kid ourselves, either.
Several hundred years ago, when WC was in college, he wandered by accident into a Mason Williams concert. This is before Williams found brief fame as the composer of the excellent “Classical Gas.” He was just a folksinger from Oakridge, OR, a sometime writer for the Smothers Brothers, doing a set at a pub in Eugene. But he brought down the house with a brilliant talking blues satire, “J. Edgar Swoop.” Which WC reproduces here, with illustrations…
J. Edgar Swoop
© Mason Williams, Music (1969)
As everyone knows
the eagle’s supposed
to be the symbol of freedom.
They’re very respected
it’s against the law to eat ‘em.
On dollars and collars
and medals for scholars
and flags that wag in the wind,
on cigars you puff
and American stuff
the eagle is proudly pinned.
With such a position
in American tradition
eagles are responsible birds.
that is seldom if ever incurred.
But there once was an eagle
who was not very regal
by the name of
J. Edgar Swoop.
It was quite often heard
that bird’s absurd,
and ought be kept in a coop.
An example I’d say
would be his toupee
which he thought made
him look debonair.
And if he went to travel
he’d always hitchhike.
Never did travel by air.
J. hung around
the streets down town.
He said “Them mountains are dull.
All that you meets is occasional sheep
or a couple of high fly’n gulls.”
But the worst thing of all
was that he had the gall
to wear some baggy ol’ knickers.
They were pink and blue plaid
and fit him so bad
they caused titters
guffaws and snickers.
Well, in the government town
the word got around
about J. Edgar and his antics.
So a meeting was held
and some Senators yelled
“un-American” and the usual fanatics.
The FBI director,
the Federal Bird Inpectors,
was called in to handle the deal.
He said “It looks like to me
this eagle’s too free
I suspect he’s gone over the hill.”
“Well, there’s only one choice”
said the people’s voice
“America’s dependin’ on us.
We’ve got to find this bird
and give him the word
E pluribus unum or bust.”
So the FBI
well they went out to try
to make J. claw the line.
But he just wouldn’t listen
so they throwed him in prison
to pay for his traitor’s crime.
In the government town
when things quieted down
they decided to make an appendage.
‘Cause the symbol of the country
was in the penitentiary
and they needed a new government image.
The measure was born
and committees were formed
to find a new Yankee Doodle.
And the symbol that best
reflected the West
was none but the miniature poodle.
Some argued the fact
as to what a poodle lacked.
“Besides” they said, “They’re French.”
“But” said the committee
“So’s the Statue of Liberty.”
So it went up before the bench.
Well the measure was passed
into law at last,
was entered onto government logs
J. Edgar didn’t care
“Poodles are queer
America’s gone to the dogs”
WC recognizes parts of the song are politically incorrect, and two-thirds of WC’s readers have no clue who “J. Edgar” might be lampooning. But for those who want to hear the tune, here’s a pirate version.
Sean Parnell has been flip-flopping around on the Federal government like a halibut in a fish box. One day the State is suing – and losing to – the Feds on whether the polar bear is endangered, and the existential threat of ESA classification to the state’s sovereignty; the next he is killing the best single way citizens had to respond to Federal actions along Alaska’s coasts. It’s time to call him out.
The Governor supports the expanding role of the Department of Defense in Alaska, including its efforts to expand its already vast training ranges. WC was photographing birds near Shaw Creek this summer when an F-16 flew over the place at an altitude of maybe 200 feet and a barely-subsonic airspeed. The thunderous noise put up every bird in sight. But never mind, the Governor thinks the Feds are good. Flip.
The Governor opposes the classification of the Upper Cook Inlet Beluga Whales as an endangered population. It might interfere with development of oil and gas in Cook Inlet. Worse still, he absolutely insists that all state employees march in goose step with him, taking the absolute position that an endangered species population is completely wrong, disqualifying Alaska wildlife officials from participating in the recovery plan, removing Alaska’s voice from the development of that plan. The Feds are bad. Flop.
The Governor supports the federal rescue of coastal villages that are disappearing into the Beaufort, Chuckchi and Bering Seas as climate-induced coastal erosion accelerates. Never mind that our Governor is ambivalent about whether man-caused climate change is occurring, despite massive evidence. Never mind that the classification of polar bears as an endangered species is another aspect of the same disappear ice. We’ll get to that next. Save our villages. The Feds are good. Flip.
But the classification of polars bears as endangered, another consequence of the vanishing sea ice, might threaten oil and gas development on the North Slope, and off-shore drilling for oil and gas. Never mind that the ice is vanishing, the mere possibility of hampering oil and gas development is bad. The Feds are bad. Flop.
And sometimes he manages to praise and condemn the Feds in the same sentence. Witness his recent press release praising the creation of an Energy Working Group, but bemoaning the absence of an Alaskan seat on the Group. Gee, Governor, let’s think about this. Your gag rule on state employees prohibits them from independent thought, and you are surprised no state employees make the working group? Flip AND flop.
Where’s Ethan Berkowitz?
Why, yes, there is one: Why, with a looming national crisis, is Rep. Don Young (R, AK) home raising money for his late wife’s charity instead of working hard in D.C., exercising that much-vaunted seniority, to solve that national crisis?
Once again, Andrew Sullivan states it far better than WC can:
My view is that Obama has essentially won the argument but not yet the fight. Today’s ABC News poll shows that 62 percent believe we need a mixture of tax hikes and spending cuts to deal with the debt, compared with only 32 percent wanting spending cuts alone. By far the most popular specific measure for tackling the debt is ending the Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 a year – with a whopping 72 percent support. Its only near rivals are more Medicare and social security means-testing for wealthy retirees. 77 percent think the GOP has been too unwilling to compromise, compared with 58 percent who say the same of Obama. If this were a boxing match in the world of ideas, it would already have been won.
But the GOP believe they can destroy the US and global economy and from the wreckage ensure Obama is not re-elected. That is their sole true guiding principle. They terrify me.
Seriously, can you explain Republican House tactics any other way?
The Quitter said,
I want the mainstream media — and I’ve said this for a couple years now — I want to help them.
I have a journalism degree. That is what I studied. I understand that this cornerstone of our democracy is a free press, is sound journalism. I want to help them build back their reputation.
Yeah, right. You could “help” by helping News Corp, the owner of Fox News, restore its reputation after News Corp was caught committing felonies. Oh, wait. News Corp pays you a reported $1 million a year. WC knows the price point of your integrity. Never mind.
When The Onion can post the following satiric article, and have it be indistinguishable from reality, you know America is in deep doo-doo:
Congress Continues Debate Over Whether Or Not Nation Should Be Economically Ruined
WASHINGTON—Members of the U.S. Congress reported Wednesday they were continuing to carefully debate the issue of whether or not they should allow the country to descend into a roiling economic meltdown of historically dire proportions. “It is a question that, I think, is worthy of serious consideration: Should we take steps to avoid a crippling, decades-long depression that would lead to disastrous consequences on a worldwide scale? Or should we not do that?” asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), adding that arguments could be made for both sides, and that the debate over ensuring America’s financial solvency versus allowing the nation to default on its debt—which would torpedo stock markets, cause mortgage and interests rates to skyrocket, and decimate the value of the U.S. dollar—is “certainly a conversation worth having.” “Obviously, we don’t want to rush to consensus on whether it is or isn’t a good idea to save the American economy and all our respective livelihoods from certain peril until we’ve examined this thorny dilemma from every angle. And if we’re still discussing this matter on Aug. 2, well, then, so be it.” At press time, President Obama said he personally believed the country should not be economically ruined.
Isn’t this a question that answers itself?
WC saw a Gallup Poll finding that among Republicans only 30% believe that the August 2 deadline for the debt ceiling represents a crisis.
One of the perils of a liberal arts education is that when you see democracy fail – and that conclusion seems inescapable here – your average liberal arts major immediately thinks of the great Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People.
Okay, so not so many of you are familiar with the father of modern drama? An Enemy of the People is set in a small coastal town in Norway. The town has just built a spa and seems on the verge of attracting tourists to visit the spa. The protagonist is Dr. Thomas Stockman, a popular man in the small town, until he discovers that the town’s tannery has contaminated the spa waters, and the spa will sicken those who use it.
The play focuses on Dr. Stockman’s attempts to deal with the problems his discovery creates, and the public backlash his discovery creates. For his troubles, Dr. Stockman is deemed an enemy of the people. It’s public opinion versus science; democracy versus hard facts. The majority, as Ibsen makes uncomfortably clear, is neither always sane or always right. An uncomfortable fact for a democracy.
The play is in the public domain (it was written in 1882). It’s worth your time to read. Ibsen’s passion (based in some part by the public’s reaction to an earlier play) is evident: ”…the strongest man in the world is the man who stands most alone.”
So here we are today, with the public spa of the national economy threatened by the tannery effluent of the U.S. default in its debt obligations. All national economists and financial leaders uniformly warn us that defaulting on U.S. bonds will poison the economy and be disaster for all. The majority deny it is a crisis. Democracy versus economic science.
Will the mob prevail?
“What will it take for my Republican colleagues to wake up to the fact that they’re playing a game of political chicken with the entire global economy?” – U.S. Senator Harry Reid, D., NV
As Judy Kleinfeld recently reminded WC, we too often fail to appreciate the beauty around us.
In January 2007, world-acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell played as a busker at L’Enfant metro station in Washington, D.C. WC isn’t a huge fan of classical music, but Bell is an astonishing violinist. And he was playing a Stradivarius, the very archetype of a violin. The whole thing was a set up by the Washington Post, a sociology experiment. There’s a video link. The details are fascinating.
More than a thousand people walked by oblivious to the artist, the music and the instrument. Seven people stopped to listen.
WC is a folk music fan, of course. And the wonderful Joni Mitchell did a marvelous song on a very similar subject
I slept last night in a good hotel
I went shopping today for jewels.
The wind rushed around in the dirty town
and the children let out from the schools.
I was standing on a noisy corner
waiting for the walking green
Across the street he stood, and he played real good
on his clarinet for free.
Now me, I play for fortunes
and the velvet curtain calls.
I got a black limosine and a few gentlemen
escorting me to these halls.
And I’ll play if you have the money
or if you’re a friend to me.
But the one-man-band by the quick lunch stand,
he was playing real good for free.
Nobody stopped to hear him,
though he played so sweet and high.
They knew he had never been on their TV
so they passed his good music by.
I meant to go over and ask for a song,
maybe put on a harmony.
I heard his refrain as that signal changed,
he was still playing real good for free.
Joni Mitchell, “For Free,” Ladies of the Canyon (1970)
We don’t have to be oblivious to beauty around us. We don’t have to be in such a hurry that we blow by Joshua Bell, or ignore the talented busker on the street corner. We don’t have to overlook Denali itself, peeking over the horizon as we drive in to work on a clear morning. We can pause and listen to the lovely song of a Pine Grosbeak as we walk out for the newspaper.
The best compliment WC has received as a photographer came after a visit to Deception Island, where a shipmate walked with WC as we wandered around a small part of the immense caldera. WC showed his photos to the shipmate afterwards, and she said, “I feel like I was on a different walk; I didn’t see any of this.”
But WC would probably have walked by Joshua Bell, too.
Appreciate what is around you. Take a moment. Life is short. No one lays on their deathbed and says, “I didn’t spend enough time at the office. I spent too much time admiring rainbows.”
There are Joshua Bells all around us. Take the time.
It is shocking to WC that there are Republicans – persons who call themselves “conservatives” – who pretend to be untroubled by the prospect of the U.S. defaulting on its debts and obligations. Is it ignorance? A bluff? Extreme politics?
Standard & Poors has already announced it will likely lower the rating of U.S. debt obligations in the next 60-90 days if the problem isn’t resolved. That will immediately raise the interest rates the U.S. pays on borrowed funds, dramatically aggravating the fiscal crisis.
To understand just how limited the options are, visit Bloomberg’s interactive budget tool. Scroll through the options and see what promises you want the federal government to break. Cancel the FAA’s budget and ground aviation? Break the law and stiff social security recipients? Agricultural subsidies? Give it a try; try to guess which programscan be axed without devastating damage to the U.S. and world economy.
You say it’s hard to predict? No one’s ever done this before. That’s WC’s point.
Jackie Calmes wrote in the New York Times,
While the new-generation Republicans venerate Mr. Reagan, those who were in Congress when he was president say he would not understand their refusal to compromise on a package of the size Mr. Obama proposes.
“He had a rule: If you can agree on 80 percent, take it,” said Alan K. Simpson, who was the second-ranking Senate Republican leader back then. “He raised taxes 11 times in eight years,” Mr. Simpson added. “He did it to make the country run.”
Paul Krugman thinks this is simply the illogical conclusion of an increasingly extreme position taken by Republicans over the last thirty years. The phony belief in “tax cut magic,” those who claim to want to “starve the beast” (so long at their constituents don’t get excitable) and voodoo economics; the Tea Party chickens have come home to roost.
If the Teabaggers have their way, and the U.S. hits the default ceiling, the economic consequences are going to echo through the economy for years. Our lingering recession will become a depression. Unemployment will climb further. Voter anger will reach unmatched levels. The national debt will increase as income from taxes decline and the amount of interest paid as a consequence of lower bond ratings. That’s exactly the opposite of hat the Teabaggers claim to want.
You need to fully understand complex systems before you start tinkering with their inputs. It’s a principle that has escaped Teabagggers and a distressing number of so-called “conservatives.” The danger is that teaching them the lesson will injure us all.