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Debt ceiling

atreides

Graduate Student
See what I don't understand is why do politicians campaign so much for re-election?

Politics is also a career. These people will try to stay as long as they can. When they do leave, the exit opportunities are pretty awesome... six and seven figure gigs at consulting companies, think tanks, etc ... This happens around the globe.

If I was made dictator of America for four years (heck, if I was made dictator of America for even one day), I'd clean house, and get more done in that span of time than all of the clowns in the circus that is congress and the presidency accomplish these days.
This is easier said than done

If you get into power, get something done FFS. Who cares if you don't get re-elected? You do what you need to in the one term allotted, then go back to the private sector. Are these clowns so otherwise unemployable that the only thing they can do is blow so much steam on Capitol Hill and squander other people's money?

You need hard cash for campaigns. Unless you're a Romney or a Bloomberg with lots of cheese in the bank. Even these people had to go out to seek some campaign monies. They probably didn't want to give the impression they're buying the seat with their $$. I hear the Dems want to raise some $1 Billion for the reelection.
 
Politics is also a career. These people will try to stay as long as they can. When they do leave, the exit opportunities are pretty awesome... six and seven figure gigs at consulting companies, think tanks, etc ... This happens around the globe.

All the more reason to be an effective one-and-done rather than an ineffective two-term president. Heck, JFK is remembered as a pretty good president, and he didn't even last one term (X_x) while Bush Jr. had two terms and will probably go down in history as the worst American president ever as his policies predicated an American decline (probably not permanent).

This is easier said than done

Of course, because the clowns in office are driven by ideology rather than facts. If we put the quants at RenTec, D.E. Shaw and Google in charge and tasked them with optimizing the economy and people's standards of living, they'd probably come up with a solution in a year's time at most.


You need hard cash for campaigns. Unless you're a Romney or a Bloomberg with lots of cheese in the bank. Even these people had to go out to seek some campaign monies. They probably didn't want to give the impression they're buying the seat with their $$. I hear the Dems want to raise some $1 Billion for the reelection.

Of course you do. Though I suppose as television gets phased out, that'll be less and less of a requirement due to the viral nature of youtube.

At the same time though...at the end of the day, I suppose the American people hold a lot of the blame for the state of the country right now--namely because most of them are so freaking stupid. How many of them truly understand numbers, algorithms, statistics, and optimization? Funny that the most successful people in this nation are those that understand these things, such as the Google founders, David Shaw, Jim Simons, George Soros, etc...

If those kinds of people served in government, we'd probably have a far better nation.

Alexei said:
Because this country exists and is the nice place to live in that it is because those "old" didn't piss it all away. You really should be more grateful. One of these days you'll be old and in need of medical care too. I'd like to hear your rhetoric then.

What? I'm not sure I follow you. "Not piss[ing] it all away" is not something that should be rewarded IMO. If these people did so poorly for themselves that they need federal assistance just to survive, doesn't it stand to reason that what they chose to do as a career clearly didn't have enough of an impact? Yes, one day I'll be old (maybe...I hear there's technology to enhance lifespans for a very long time in the works), and at that point, if I was such a miserable failure that I'm dependent on the dole of Uncle Sam...well, I suppose I'll only have myself to blame. Not to mention that I'd probably want to be dead rather than old, medicated, and rotting. My grandfather (mom's side) was a badass. He woke me up, made breakfast, and generally kept things shipshape at home, and never needed medication. The dude was a WW2 aeronautics engineer in Russia, and despite being hobbled over and nearly toothless, he never needed expensive medicines the way American seniors do. On the day of his death, he simply ate breakfast, went upstairs to go to sleep, and died peacefully. There was no long, painful, drawn-out process.

In my mind, if you need to be so heavily medicated just to survive, are you really "alive" at that point?
 

DanM

Math Student
At the same time though...at the end of the day, I suppose the American people hold a lot of the blame for the state of the country right now--namely because most of them are so freaking stupid. How many of them truly understand numbers, algorithms, statistics, and optimization? Funny that the most successful people in this nation are those that understand these things, such as the Google founders, David Shaw, Jim Simons, George Soros, etc...

If those kinds of people served in government, we'd probably have a far better nation.

None of the things you stated are a requirement to run a nation effectively. It's absurd to claim that they are. A solid understanding of law and jurisprudence, for example, is far more important.

Also, the majority of successful individuals in America, as well as those in the world, have little to no understanding of algorithms, optimization, or other esoteric quantitative subjects.
 
we call our most elite soldiers the "Special Forces" yet what do we reserve the term "Special Education" for? Oh right, people so mentally deficient that they can't even succeed in a class that someone with a modicum of talent could just sleep through and get an A in.

Pretty much agree with everything except this. They're mentally retarded, its not their fault man. I mean some kids may not be totally handicapped, but at least at my high school, most of them were.

Ilya, because most human beings have these cool things called compassion and sympathy, and typically want to do unto others as they would want to be done unto themselves in such a scenario, at least to a certain extent. Because "starve the poor" makes for a bad campaign slogan anywhere amongst virtually all constituencies. At some point, people just don't want the blood on their hands.

Alexei, he's right in some sense.
"Overall, the typical American defined as poor by the government has a car, air conditioning, a refrigerator, a stove, a clothes washer and dryer, and a microwave. He has two color televisions, cable or satellite TV reception, a VCR or DVD player, and a stereo. He is able to obtain medical care. His home is in good repair and is not overcrowded. By his own report, his family is not hungry and he had sufficient funds in the past year to meet his family's essential needs. While this individual's life is not opulent, it is equally far from the popular images of dire poverty conveyed by the press, liberal activists, and politicians."
http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2004/01/understanding-poverty-in-america

That was written in 2004. I can only imagine what it would read like now. I realize it's a conservative think-tank, but it seems like a legitimate one. I wouldn't dare say I know how it feels to live under the poverty line-- I clearly have no experience-- but it statistically, it doesn't seem like they're anywhere close to starving. 47% of women in poverty were OVERweight in 2004. And don't pull the "its because they can only afford mcdonalds" Its because they choose to go to mcdonalds and when they go there they choose to eat too much and order a 44oz coke.
 
Now that the passage of "The Deal" is looming, why don't we talk about that instead?

11th-hour-plan.png
 
Take for example the statement about the average poor person having more living space than the average individual in Paris - well, sure, Paris is an overcrowded city. Know where else the average poor American probably has more space than the average person? Manhattan...

And? That means that they could live in smaller spaces, meaning we don't need to dole out as much money to go to sunk costs.
 
@ Andy: as Lawrence O'Donnell put it: raising the debt ceiling takes all of one hour. It is a single sentence predicated upon one number. What we're witnessing currently is a bunch of politicians having a pissing contest and everyone's out of piss and they're all left waggling their you know whats. (Bill Maher's words, not mine.)

Frankly, I'm tired of it all. I just wish we had politicians that'd get things done rather than campaign for election to campaign for re-election.
 
The point is that smaller places don't typically exist. The point is that residents of Paris and Manhattan crowd themselves into sardine cans for the privilege of living on a more hallowed bit of ground and should not be used as a benchmark for size of living room for those that do not live on Manhattan.

Housing "the poor" in Manhattan is highly uneconomical after all.

Then we can build smaller places and cramp the poor into them if it'll save us money in the long run. If you're living on the dole, that's not supposed to be a good life. It's supposed to suck like hell and make you want to get the heck out of there ASAP.
 
I'd rather eat cake than starve. People should be thankful that they can eat based off of other people's money.
I for one want to keep my cake. It's understandable if the hungry - those that actually try - get some of my bread, but I don't think the government should have any say in how I allocate my cake. I think that's what capitalism is about.

On an related note to the actual thread topic - this is what the layman thinks: http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshh95t2P417unRf8dju (disclaimer: hilarious but crude. Probably shouldn't watch at work.)
 
Didn't she get beheaded for her callous, uncaring ways?

I'm not sure she was.

Poor usually don't stay passive when they are faced with starving to death.

Often they do. One can see the passivity throughout Africa and much of Asia. Or if solutions are sought, they're individual ones rather than collective. Which seems to be the case in the USA.

On a side note, the causes of the French Revolution are interesting. It seems to have been the "first world war" of 1756-1763 (between France and Britain, struggling for global hegemony) that caused financial problems for both France and Britain. In the former it led to the Revolution; in the latter, the attempt to tax the American colonists led to the American "Revolution." So it seems national debt can have real-world consequences.
 
In the former it led to the Revolution; in the latter, the attempt to tax the American colonists led to the American "Revolution."

Incidently, for those of you in NYC and whom enjoy history - if you ever go up-state for a weekend in the Adirondacks, there is a great reconstruction of a working British-American fort from the French-Indian war on lake George.

Andy Nguyen - So from looking at your flow-chart it looks like defense spending is going to take a hit (Defense cuts could be half the total)?

There are a lot of jobs not far from New York (Especially in CT) which are defense based, you have the Submarine base at Groton, Sikorsky in New Haven, Pratt and Whitney and a host of smaller firms who build everything from gyro-scopes through to missile guidance systems.

If these companies take a hit and we see lay-offs, I wonder how many engineers will try heading to Wall street instead?
 
Written by an economist friend of mine:

The US debt limit is just a number. Debt is real – it represents real transfers of wealth. Defaulting on or cancelling debt can have dramatic economic consequences. But the limit is an arbitrary administrative device. It has been raised 140 times since World War Two, attracting no controversy. It is, to all intents and purposes, economically irrelevant.

The US political system is increasingly dysfunctional, however. The Tea Party, Republicans of the hard right, vehemently pro-free market and anti-government spending, are the most obvious expression of this breakdown. But the feeble Obama administration is another. No-one has sufficient political authority to impose a solution.

The result is that what should be merely a technical, administrative question has become the site for deadlock. The two wings of the US political system could not agree over the precise balance of tax rises and spending cuts needed to justify increasing the limit. Narrow political concerns are dominating wider, ‘bipartisan’ ruling class interests. They are doing so not in a time of prosperity and US confidence, but in a period of weakness and decline.

A compromise has been reached, although it remains subject to the whims of Congress with both Houses required to pass the necessary legislation. But the damage has already been done. The US stock market had its worst week for over a year. The major credit ratings agencies have raised the possibility of future US debt downgrades – and one Chinese rating agency has already done so. The world’s largest economy is visibly in decline.

Old Capitalism – those nations that have been the core of the world economy for two centuries – has largely failed to recover from the financial crisis of 2007-9. The solution then, mobilising state debt to pay for collapsed financial assets, has merely shifted the location of the crisis: from finance, to states. Its political leaderships, whether in North America or Europe, have been unable to resolve this new crisis. Their authority is visibly weakened, perhaps most spectacularly inside the EU.
 

Diego Calderon

Grad Student
The funny part is that all this talk was not even for real spending cuts.

Every year from now, spending will go up, only at a slower pace.

Obama thinks he baught enough time for the next election but he is in for a rude awakening.

more cannon fodder for republicans
 
The real reason why cuts in Social Security are on the cards:

On March 16, 2011, Senator Coburn said, during a Senate speech:

"Congresses under both Republican and Democrat control, both Republican and Democrat presidents, have stolen money from social security and spent it. The money’s gone. It’s been used for another purpose."

The following morning, Senator Coburn said on MSNBC:

"We have stolen $2.6 trillion from it. We put paper money in there. But the problem is we spent the money. We didn’t just take it. We took it and spent it."

To the best of my knowledge, no member of Congress, or other high government official, has attempted to rebut Coburn. How could they? Every member of Congress knows that what Senator Coburn said was absolutely true. They also know that there will not be enough revenue, from the payroll tax alone, to pay full Social Security benefits this year, or in future years. The government will have to take revenue from the general fund, to replace some of the stolen Social Security money, if full benefits are to be paid. This basic fact, which only a few members of the public know about, is the primary reason that so many politicians are calling for cuts in Social Security benefits. They do not want the government to have to repay the looted money.

What about the numerous articles that say Social Security has enough money to pay full benefits until 2036? They are based on the assumption that the $2.6 trillion in surplus revenue, generated by the 1983 payroll tax hike, was actually saved and invested in marketable U.S. Treasury bonds. But that was not done. As Senator Coburn has said, all of the $2.6 trillion in surplus Social Security revenue has already been spent. The money is gone.

(source)
 
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