Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What's a Trillion Dollars?

This is something I commented on at the Washington Post today in response to Obama's address last night:

To have an annual deficit of $1 Trill is the equivalent of asking 10M people to save $100K in order to pay it back. Run this out for 9 years, from 2010 to 2019, and it's essentially 90M people who will in the future have to save that amount to payoff the debt. And, this does not cut into the debt already incurred that we (future generations) also have to payback. You can run combinations of the numbers however you want. But the stark fact is that to have budget deficits in that range is the most reckless, irresponsible policy, possibly in the history of this country.

You can say whatever you want about W. I am no defender of him. But these are Obama's policies. These are his proposals. I have a hard time believing W or even Clinton would have proposed even a fraction of anything on this scale. Bush's deficits were not in the trillions. Nor did he propose anything approaching this scale. If I have to explain why energy, healthcare, and education - all managed out of the central government apparently - will not grow the economy to make up for a deficit of this magnitude, than the argument is already lost. If the sheer lack of logic of these connections and cause and effect is not self-evident than it's already too late and this country deserves its fate.

I should have clarified that Obama's debt is actually NEW. The existing total national debt is around $11 Trill. That's already huge and has been accumulated over many decades. Of course it won't take Obama that long to up the ante and almost double it in just his first term, heck first two months. That's change you can believe in. But, as we all know, we've got do it NOW! We had to TARP, NOW!, we have to have stimulus NOW!, or the world will collapse.

The underlying problem is that our society is unwilling to undergo any pain whatsoever. The remedies for the situation are painful and there is no short-term solution. Things have to fail. But people simply aren't accustomed to bad news or harsh realities. Maybe they've never been and nobody ever likes unpleasant facts or a a pink slip or whatever. It sucks. But what we're getting ourselves into will probably suck worse. But hey, let the good times roll and suspend logic as we embrace change we can believe in. Ideally, the object of our hope should be substantive. Instead we have Obama.

No comments: