‘Bogged Down In A Pseudo-Religious, Ideological War Over Whatever’

Not my words, just something an observant Canadian living inside the U.S. had to say today about our country’s death match over the debt ceiling — before remarking that it might be wise to, uh, “back-migrate.”

Instead of an espresso shot this morning, take a gander at our impressive U.S. Debt Clock. If that doesn’t jolt you awake, nothing will.

Remember, no one on this planet even has $1 trillion. Yet, somehow the U.S. has found itself on the hook for more than $54 trillion.

This weekend, while most Americans will be perched poolside sipping their Coolattas (or soy lattes, depending on what coast you’re on), even as the Debt Clock indicates each one of us now owes $46K and counting, Obama and Boehner will put down their golf clubs long enough to consider what the nation might do to escape its next financial crisis. (Thanks, guys!)

Suffice to say, Obama seems more open to hatcheting major entitlement programs (Social Security, et all) than Republicans are to raising taxes. Which means we can expect another spirited round of Kafkaesque finger-pointing and, if we’re really lucky, a reprised, taxpayer-sponsored game of high-security amateur golf.

I’m not an economist, but it seems to me generous tax cuts and liberal spending both have the same effect on our deficit: each results in less money in our coffers.

Tax cuts = spending, right? So if Republicans are so supremely keen to cut spending, why are they so tone-deaf to raising taxes?

It’s the kind of horror movie where you already know the ending, but you can’t bring yourself to look away. We know Boehner is going to win. The question is just how much will he win? We know Obama is going to lose. The question is just how astronomically will he lose?

It’s no mystery here who is the better dealmaker.

The darker side of what will happen next is already playing out in Europe and the UK, and it is not pretty. Scientists checking out the causal links between economic downturns, joblessness and the mortality rate in the past three decades reported today in The Lancet, a medical journal, that there’s evidence unemployment drives depression and suicide.

Early data for 2009 shows suicide rates rose in nine European countries the year after the global financial crisis began. The scientists worked out that, as a rule of thumb, each 1 percent uptick in the unemployment rate brought with it a 0.8 percent increase in suicides by people under the age of 65.

The data, culled from 26 EU countries, also showed a boost in rates of murder. The only silver lining: a decrease in traffic fatalities, as lost jobs meant fewer commuters driving to work. That’s a cold comfort, though.

As the U.S. argues over what must be fixed first — our loathsome deficit, or our loathsome unemployment rate — it might want to carefully consider the travails of our neighbors across the pond.

One thought on “‘Bogged Down In A Pseudo-Religious, Ideological War Over Whatever’”

  1. The greater question is not the similar effect on the people of Europe, but the similarity of causation.

    The review of the role of US investment banks such as Goldman in Greece’s downfall has caught little attention in recent months——just simply that somehow the government got in too deep. Pertinant questions would be —who facilitated that sinking of the Greek fisc? Did the facilitator(s) also become counter-parties in credit default swaps as Goldman did in the US on its “designed to fail” CDO’s and MBS? More precisely was the Greek fiasco a setup? Another set of designed to fail loan practices with a common denominator? Was it a dry-run for a similar 2nd and larger “meltdown” of the US economy?

    If they did it to Greece, have they bet against the US ability to pay as well? And how much did the Goldman et al, undermining of the US financial structure contribute to the US current impossible deficit and debt accumulation. If there are a row of seeming coincidences, that all tend to economically benefit specific parties, then they are not coincidences–but patterns of abuse. A “pattern of abuse” requires a different governmental response than a series of unrelated “coincidences”.

    There might be many who wish they had the opportunity to join the writer of this piece in obtaining a one-way ticket to Canada—if the “coincidences” are not coincidences but designs to put US citizens in the same box as those of Greece, Ireland, Portugal—and seemingly coming soon——Spain and Italy?

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