GETTING IT GREEK

Three-term GOP Senator Robert Bennett of Utah was defeated in a pre-primary state party caucus on Saturday, a defeat being blamed on anti-incumbent sentiment and Bennett's "liberalism" – Utah Republican Mormons being the liberal firebrands they are. In particular, the state's small but vocal contingent of TeaTards was irate over Bennett's vote for TARP:

"I don't think it's a matter of conservative. I think it's a matter of fiscal or financial responsibility, what the Tea Party people are about and the vote for TARP and the vote for the bailout was, in our opinion, pretty fiscally irresponsible and that's what's raised the ire of most people," David Kirkham, a Tea Party activist, told CNN in an interview.

These are bedrock TeaTard talking points. "Fiscal responsibility" mandates an all-encompassing hatred of the stimulus package, TARP, and all other financial crisis-related spending over the past two years. But surely they are happy about the chance to (finally) live in a stimulus-free world, as FY2010 is rapidly coming to a close and there are no existing or foreseeable plans to renew the massive distribution of Federal funds at the state and local levels. In a world in which cuts to the military budget are being discussed openly, you can bet the house (in the unlikely event that you still own it) on Congress rejecting any follow-up stimulus proposal.

We are all getting used to the fact that our respective states – especially, but not limited to, places like California, Illinois, Georgia, Virginia, and Michigan – had a pretty miserable time with their budgets in FY2010. Now, as we approach the 7/1/2010 start of the stimulus-free fiscal year, we will soon be looking back on 2009 as the good ol' days. Take a look at this summary list of proposed austerity measures being considered in state capitols around the country. We've all watched the financial disaster in Greece unfold with an unusually high level of interest here in the States. Rarely do we concern ourselves with the domestic politics of foreign countries. But we have been entranced by Greece's meltdown, probably because we know without saying it that the same thing will happen here before long. And it will be sooner than many of us imagine at the state level.

Next year's state and local budgets are going to see the kind of triage solution applied in Greece – 10, 15, or 20 percent across-the-board cuts. Other states will reject that tactic and make Tough Choicestm, meaning they will focus all of the damage on things used by the unwashed masses – public education, transit, Medicare, CHIP, and a grab-bag of other programs that aren't useful to suburbanites and thus politically expendable.

To steal a phrase from George W., our reaction to this impending budgetary armaggeddon is "uniquely American." The Greeks rioted; we applaud. They demanded fewer cuts; we demand more. They understand the relationship between social spending and their standard of living; we don't. They realize how much worse things are about to get; we seem to think that recovery might be around the corner.

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28 Responses to “GETTING IT GREEK”

  1. HoosierPoli Says:

    Remember kids, sovereign debt is EXACTLY LIKE credit card debt, which means your children will be forced to pay off every cent of the national debt when China calls in its bonds. That makes sense, right? I never went to my econ class, I was busy getting girls pregnant in my pickup truck during third period.

  2. Elder Futhark Says:

    …meanwhile, on the other side of the sun, on that planet we can't see because it's on the other side of the sun, harried elected officials are smarting from calls for more fiscal improvidence. Says one "Honestly folks, if it were physically possible to blow money out of our ass, we'd be doing it!"

  3. jon Says:

    This nonsense about China owning all the debt is just… nonsensical. Two-thirds of the debt is in the hands of Americans: banks, corporations, individuals, and complex financial vehicles that have no flowchart possible to visually encompass their actual appearance but must be maintained for one reason or a trillion. But since about 8% of our debt is currently being held by the Red Chinese, we're only supposed to worry about those guys. The British and Japanese? Those guys only have Joe Sixpack's best intentions, just like our corporations and rich people and Dubai and all the others who finance our debt.

  4. Tired of "Tard" Use Says:

    God forbid your wife ever bears a child with developmental disabilities. I wonder if THEN you'd finally tire of hearing/using the phrase Retard, Tard or any other such derivative. Being a person who has dealt with this issue firsthand, it gets really old watching a supposedly educated, in-the-know guy like yourself use/promote such lazy, immature terms. Get it together, man.

    On with the show.

  5. Crazy for Urban Planning Says:

    So here we go with more cuts? This isn't surprising – I'm just disappointed because I want to have a job with a government some day (soon) and it doesn't look good.

  6. Tim320 Says:

    What I get tired of is commenters routinely nitpicking insightful posts over a single word or phrase as if they're adding something useful to the discussion. As a professor Ed undoubtedly has to put up with a lot of really stupid ideas all day and needs a place to vent that frustration without having to observe all the professional niceties his job requires. In the modern world someone is always going to be offended about something so put on your big boy (or big girl, lest I offend the ladies and get troll criticisms myself) pants and get over it. I've also dealt with "the issue" firsthand and IMAO the only thing insulting about calling these Tea Party zealots retarded is that it does a great disservice to people who are not mentally challenged by choice.

  7. Matt L Says:

    Neo-Liberalism will have succeeded once the the Masters of the Universe have strangled the last social-worker with the guts of the last welfare recipient in parking lot of the Whole Foods built from the rubble of Cabrini Green. Brave New World.

  8. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    Obviously mental disabilities are tragic, but words like 'tard' aren't going away. Keep in mind that decades ago, the proper medical terms were idiot, imbecile, and moron. How often do you call people those names?

  9. displaced Capitalist Says:

    Yes, and decades ago "Negro" or "Colored" were acceptable too. Funny thing is, we don't use them anymore.

    Decades ago Gay meant happy and carefree.

    The language is always changing. The question is whether 'tard is meant to be derogatory towards a particular group or not. Some would argue that it always is, like "faggot" while others argue that it isn't like "imbecile."

  10. Anthony Says:

    So what do you think should be done instead, Ed?

  11. Jared Says:

    As a former student in one of Ed's classes, I can just say that if anyone can use the word "retard" he can. He basically deals with the ignorant and stupid young masses on a daily basis and attempts to teach them basic civic concepts such as "checks and balances" and "how a bill becomes law."

    He is an American hero, aggressively correcting the "retardation" in American society. Meanwhile you see and hear people say "Keep the government out of my Medicare!" The word "retardation" is relevant because the Tea Party hippies want to turn this country into Somalia.

    The ironic thing is that because of the bailouts, most of those middle class hippies (recanting Glenn Beck slogans about how Obama is a communist and a socialist and a secret Muslim, and an Arab, and other things not associated with the American brand of hot dogs, morbid obesity, crocs, and spending $400 at Walmart while you can't pay the water bill) probably wouldn't HAVE jobs without the bailouts. They were had by the financial corporations. They had no fiscal sense and they somehow got loans to pay off their large houses that ultimately they could not afford.

    But ultimately, in our globalized world, it is only a matter of time before the fiscal crisis in the EU unravels the bailouts (that many of the financial institutions have paid off already) and we go tumbling down the rabbit hole of economic instability.

    You would think the Tea Party would WANT government regulations and laws PROTECTING American markets and businesses from foreign economic instabiltiy.

    But luckily we have Ed here correcting the retardation in American society, one classroom full of idiots at a time.

  12. Ed Says:

    Oh Jared. I hope they fast-track you through the Marine Corps, preferably straight to the top.

    Anthony, the time for meaningful preventive measures has passed. As far as remedial measures now that we're screwed, a 1% income tax hike will get you a hell of a lot farther (and with less collateral damage) than a 10% cut in education spending.

  13. bb in GA Says:

    In my simple minded world, it looks like the national government (W and BHO + Congress + Fed = Powers That Be) "spent" [a flexible term here including borrowing, printing, etc) a whole pant load of $ propping up the State governments.

    This does not appear to have been sustainable from the jump. Not only have us Tea-Tard types been pointing that out, but I think the unsustainable part is fixin' to kick in.

    Our Grecian formula friends are sitting on debt well over 100% of GDP. Again, my simple mind on macro-econonomics and international finance, I am told that this is where we are headed with predictably similar results as Greece.

    Haven't we just put off the day of accounting by what both Ds and Rs have done? It looks like when the money judgment day hits, people like the good professor are just wanting to hammer us TTs as the political cause.

    Do you really think that if TTs would just shut up and stop threatening political retaliation, the PTB could just "spend" a whole bunch more and that would fix everything?

    Aren't we seeing the "end game" from this Social Democrat strategy in what's happening with the Euro-Dominoes – Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Italy (I think the acronym is PIIGS)

    Help me perfesser!

    //bb

  14. Tim Says:

    The PIIGS economies aren't necessarily fiscally irresponsible, i think it has more to do with being heavily invested in by foreigners. Ireland has always been fiscally responsible, they produce a lot, their financial markets are stabler that the large european economies and they're quite productive… So in that sense they're not quite like the Greece, which is supposedly lazy socially and corrupt politically…

    I'm not really familiar with Ireland though, so feel free to correct me.

  15. cerb Says:

    bb,

    Let's dissect your arguments because their is a gaping hole of logic that I could drive an industrial tiller through.

    The main problem is that you think you live in a simple minded world when in fact you're simply a simpleton. Economics requires a great deal of intelligence to understand correctly and your post shows that you are woefully short in the IQ department. First, there is nothing inherently wrong in a country incurring debt. When you do it, however, is key. During boom years, it's not exactly the smartest thing in the world to incur a lot of debt. The basic rationale is that times are good and you can probably find the tax revenue (spending cuts) to offset your spending (tax revenue decrease). A perfect example would be W and his OMB director Mitch Daniels taking a projected surplus during a boom period and obliterating it through tax cuts and increases in national defense. However, when faced with a possibly deflationary environment which we're currently in, and when basic FOMC actions don't work (cutting the interest rate), running a deficit is pretty much necessary. Why, your stupid mind asks? Because without deficit spending demand would end up even lower than it is today and job losses and economic pain would be exponentially higher.

    Ok, you say, maybe you're right. But what about the cost? Borrowing in a zero interest rate environment (or close to it) is extremely advantageous for the borrower. Think of it as paying about $3.50 for a lobster dinner when it usually would cost $10. Running up debt in this fashion ISN'T bad because 1) inflationary pressures are not evident even with the amount of debt we are incurring (deflationary trap) and 2) you are paying LESS for debt than you otherwise would when interest rates begin to rise.

    The United States is not Greece. One, the US and Grecian economies are very different and thus can handle different amounts of debt. Quasi developing countries simply CANNOT operate for very long periods of time with GDP/debt ration around 90%. However, the US and other industrialized countries CAN because investors still see the debt as a safe bet. But how much? Great Britain operated for a period of time, and I want to say the 1930s, with a debt/GDP ratio of 130%. That's right, bb, Britain had more dept than all of its economic output. I'd say they turned out fine for the subsequent decades.

    Furthermore, Greece is seemingly trapped in the Eurozone and it cannot do the one thing that the US could to alleviate its economic situation: devalue its currency and become more competitive through exports. There is no way in hell Germany is going to let the entire Euro devalue to help out Greece when they themselves shit the bed. However, the US can because it doesn't share the dollar with other countries as currency. PIIGS is a result of a policy straight jacket which euro member countries cannot escape out of (well they could leave the Euro and cause a massive bank run…).

    You perfectly encapsulate why the Teabaggers are no more than a flash in the pan. You are so stridently obsessed with balancing the budget and treating government debt like your bank account that you don't realize that the world around you is so much fucking more complex than you. You have no actual knowledge of economics but you grasp onto the stupidest, simplest concept that you agree with because thinking things through in a critical matter would be too hard and take up too much time. Instead you grasp onto such intellectual heavyweights as Grover Norquist and that one guy who was on Hannity who said he read something by some Austrian, because they sound smart and it's what you want to hear. The reality is that you are ignorant and wrong.

  16. bb in GA Says:

    Cerb:

    Thank you Sir and may I have another :-)…

    and I thank you for spending your time with the explanation.

    //bb

  17. Tim Says:

    cerb; I read what you said, and I find your introductory statement fairly Ironic, let me skip that for now… So gaps in logic, lets speed read quickly what you said…

    The main problem is that you think you live in a simple minded world when in fact you're simply a simpleton.

    Ok, you say, maybe you're right. The United States is not Greece. Furthermore, Greece is seemingly trapped in the Eurozone and it cannot do the one thing that the US could to alleviate its economic situation: devalue its currency and become more competitive through exports.

    You perfectly encapsulate why the Teabaggers are no more than a flash in the pan.

    Mhmm, your point is bb is a moron… or something similiar. SO QUICKLY TO ADDRESS THE IRONY, All that shite you wrote essentially boils down to an ad hominem attack… which is a fallacy… or gap in logic.

    FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

  18. Nunya Says:

    Cerb – excellent verbal beat down

    bb in GA – Good form in accepting it

  19. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    Tim, cerb seems to have wrote a well-thought out argument. Once one has done so, ad hominems are just icing on the cake. A real ad hominem is when one attacks only the person without actually providing an argument or addressing the opponent's argument. Let's see an example in a typical internet flamewar scenario.

    Holocaust Denier: Teh Holocau$t is a hoax cuz there was a SWIMMING POOL at Auschwitz!!! HURRRRRRRR!!!

    Me: The presence of a swimming pool, which was in fact for the SS guards, has no bearing on the question of mass murder taking place, you fucking moron.

    Holocaust Denier: You're a Jew aren't you?

    See, the "fucking moron" bit does not invalidate my argument, which does address the original argument. The second simulated response(yes, they really do that) is an ad hominem because it has nothing to do with the argument.

  20. cerb Says:

    Tim,

    Excellent job of cherry picking my unfortunate personal attacks (bad habit) and ignoring my economics lesson. I'll take your tap dancing as a sign that I'm right.

  21. cerb Says:

    Also, Tim, you are completely wrong about PIIGS and Ireland. Not even close to coming to the truth.

  22. Jared Says:

    Just to put it out there, I attended the TeaTard Tax Tyranny Extravaganza in Washington, DC on April 15th.

    The amount of anger and general ignorance I saw was startling. They are all simply white, middle-aged hippies who grew up smoking weed in the 1960s. Now they've gone through life, owning a house, a car, and probably had some college education 30 years ago. But their social values are simply that of the Taliban. I spoke to a person who said that he likes Sarah Palin, but that women belong in the home because if they have successful careers, they will commit abortion. I was so amazed, I took 15 pages of notes and stayed through Ron Paul's speech.

    Some crazy blonde woman from MadTV even took a violin up there and sang "There's a Communist in the White House!" over and over for about 10 minutes. Another person on stage even said "Hussein Obama is proof that a young boy from Kenya can eventually be President of the United States." But it was funny seeing the only minorities there ON STAGE saying they weren't "tokens." Yes, there was even a rapper who rapped to a bunch of white people in their 40s and 50s.

    And the Tea Tards are racist. Not in the "I hate negroes" sense, but "My that colored boy sure is articulate" racist.

    Dealing with the TeaTards is like dealing with al-Qai'da. You cannot negotiate with them since there is nothing they are willing to concede. They only want to destroy your belief system and way of life. You must simply yell louder, hit harder, and be that much of an asshole to shut them up. Treat them like the intellectual children they are.

  23. Tim Says:

    Dear cerb, I very specifically took the topic sentences from your statements. I read that whole… rant… ?… and couldn't make sense of it. You may well be right that bb, but you certainly did not write it out very well (which is not a character flaw). I could see where you were going with your economic argument, and I'm not going to say you're wrong. However, oiled down to your main points and introductory statements you were simply insulting the person.

    And anyway, It seems to me as though you were trying to say that it's possible to survive owing more than we produce in a year. I would ask you, though, SHOULD WE? If you say, Yes, in order to promote the well being of the entire populace (social justice or similiar), then this would be a very long debate…

    And wow, Aslan, Godwin's Law, yes BB the fiscal conservative (??) is a Holocaust denier.

  24. cerb Says:

    Tim,

    I was refuting his ignorance and threw in a few ad hominems. If you saw my explanation as a "rant" then it's very safe to say that you know pretty much nothing about economics. That's further evidenced when you write this,

    "And anyway, It seems to me as though you were trying to say that it's possible to survive owing more than we produce in a year. I would ask you, though, SHOULD WE? If you say, Yes, in order to promote the well being of the entire populace (social justice or similiar), then this would be a very long debateā€¦"

    You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

  25. Aslan Maskhadov Says:

    Wow Tim, way to totally miss an analogy AND mis-use Godwin's Law(which is really just some arbitrary claim anyway). Do you make it a point to misunderstand every formal logical fallacy or just a few?

  26. Tim Says:

    cerb, a little late, but i'll concede.

  27. Bruce Says:

    cerb, a little late, but i'll concede.