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Head In The Sand Economics

Tom Gjelten in for Tom Ashbook

Top economist Simon Johnson says all the fiery rhetoric in Washington over the debt crisis is doing nothing to fix the problem.

The global economy is on shaky ground. We'll take a look at what can be done. (dichohecho/Flikr)

The global economy is on shaky ground. We'll take a look at what can be done. (dichohecho/Flikr)

European governments have offered Greece another bailout. But many economists think it will only postpone an inevitable default.

Bankers are fretting that Spain or Portugal might be next.

And the United States is facing its own debt dead-line, with politicians unable to agree on the way forward.

Are we in danger of slipping back into another global financial crisis, one even more dangerous than the one that scared us so in two thousand eight? Two popular economists say it depends on whether we’ve learned the right lessons.

This hour On Point: Avoiding a new economic meltdown.

 

-Tom Gjelten

Guest

Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and now a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and a professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He’s also the author of “13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown.”

A. Michael Spence, a Nobel prize-winning economist, chairman of the Commission on Growth and Development and a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also author of “The Next Convergence: The Future of Economic Growth in a Multispeed World.”

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  • Wm. James from Missouri

    There is a formula used by the financial community, called Ordinary Annuity Simple, it looks like this:  R [  ( (1 + I ) ^ n  )    -1 ] /  I . In this formula the R stands for the amount of dollars ( or any currency ) for each time interval “n”, with “I “  equal to the interest rate within that “n” interval .
     In every day speak this is like asking: How much money would I have if  I invested  100 dollars per year at 15 % per annum, for 12 years, this would be written as :  100 [   ( (1.15) ^ 12 ) - 1 ]  /  0.15  . Now please note that if  the time period was per month, then you would have to divide the I  =  0.15  by 12 months to get the monthly rate ; I = 0.15/ 12 . The “n” in the formula would not be 12 years but rather 12 * 12 , or 144 months.  The “R” would  convert to  $ 100 / 12 =  $ 8 . 33 per month.
    Given this information let’s create a thought experiment by asking; How much money would Christopher’s descendants have if , starting with Christopher Columbus, “Chris” took one “dollar” and invested  it at 5% per year, compounded ,  for every year of his life. Then, his descendants continued to invest 1 dollar PER YEAR at 5 % to the present year of  2011. We use the formula to get :
    R = 1 = (one)  ;  I = 5 % = 0.05  ;  n = 2010 – 1493 =  517 years ; Note I am only considering full years .
    $1.00 [  ( 1 .05 ) ^  517  ] – 1 (one) ]  /  .05
    =   (90129636423.67  – 1 ) / .05
    =   $1,802,592,728,453.40
    That’s right, 1. 8 Trillion Dollars !
    Think about this for a minute . Christopher and his descendants would have invested  ONLY , $ 517 dollars, out of pocket. They could have spent every single “other” dollar on things that go up their nose, and still have this sum!Not one person / family  in history has ever done anything close to this. This speaks volumes about our failings as individuals and of  our abilities  to understand the totality of our potential.
    I can just hear the “yea but …”  objections.

    • Anonymous

      Unfortunately, they were heavily invested in button-hook manufacturers and Enron and lost everything. 

      • Redlair6

        W. J. from Mo. sounds like he just had the Mickey Mouse course in “financial literacy” that is required in counseling before they close a bankruptcy. So he may be starting over again at the bottom with $1, minus his student loans and other non-negotiable debt servitude. Remember how he said failure to take control of one’s own life is one’s own fault. Ah, but he can balance his checkbook on his upturned nose.

        There is no magic to capitalism, only fascist intimidation. Read “Mario and the Magician” one more time. Without regulation the violent bear it all away. Even Columbus understood that. 

        • Wm. James from Missouri

          You believe what you want to believe, but you don’t have to live like a refuge.

          • Steve Marantz

            is there a softer science than economics?  (maybe neuroscience, but that’s for another day)

            economists are a dime a dozen, and at best they are good for speculation and conjecture.  they have no more idea of what is going to happen – or how to improve things – than a lay person without even a single fancy degree.  they seem to exist solely for media sound bites, and to give politicians cover.

      • Wm.James from Missouri

        Love the humor.
        I own a copy of an 1804 Silver dollar. An actual 1804 went to auction some years back and sold for over 4 MILLION PAPER DOLLARS ( $4,000,000.00 ) .

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Wm.,   In 1492, $517 was how many years of pay for any but a king or pirate?  Even in the 1880′s, people thought $1. / day, was a HUGE sum!  Remember, Chris was travelling on Mastercard, effectively.

      • Wm. James from Missouri

        You may have misunderstood the math here. The 517 dollars is over a period of  517 years ! At ONLY ;  1 dollar per year !  ( The dollar is just a symbol for any unit currency. In those days it may well have been a ducat, later a thaler, etc.. ). The final amount would not be for Chris just his current descendants. 
        It is hard for most people to believe this because it seems so impossible to achieve so much by doing so little. People don’t understand the importance of  sticking to an investment schedule and compounding their profits through reinvestment.
        Einstein spoke  of compound interest as if it were a miracle!

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    There is no shortage of wealth potential, just a shortage of vision and good willed iconoclast.
    Did you know that :
    It has been estimated that the state of California still contains approximately 9 times as much un-mined gold as was mined during the famous gold rush. What about Alaska, or the Yukon?
    The oceans contain approximately, 70 times as much gold as has ever been mined in the history of the world !
    The near-Earth asteroid known as 3554 Amun has  a market value of about 8 Trillion US dollars, the cobalt content adds another 6 Trillion , and the platinum-group metals add another 6 Trillion. .  There are more objects of this type in the universe than you could ever count !
    The problem with analyst is that they think small, just like big business and our government. Most of them are still living in the 18 and 19th century ! They create poverty with every breath they take. All they know is : manipulate, take, steal, lie, { the list is long}. They have no vision or desire to make our lives better. I wish I had a fraction of the money some people have, you would then think you had been beamed aboard the star ship Enterprise !

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    After seeing the coins pictured above I couldn’t resist to add this comment.

    An email sent to various world treasury departments including our own USA.I would like to offer the following idea to your country’s treasury department. That is, the creation of a new form of money that would produce a more egalitarian form of wealth and help to level out the current income asymmetries that are accelerating worldwide. The idea is to create a coin that does double duty. A coin that has all the traditional attributes of money plus the added attribute (or any similar or complementary attribute) of information, energy or intelligence.Imagine a coin that could act as storage device of “read only “ information. With ever increasing data storage prices falling and data transfer rates falling, such a device is just on the horizon. As an example, consider the ‘breakthrough’ recently made by the Intel Corporation. They have created a device that uses optics to speed up data transfer within, from and to your computer. It is my understanding that we will soon be able to download a full length high definition DVD movie in about 1 second! USB ports will go the way of buggy whips. My concept is to create a coin whose read only data can be accessed by any personal computer. A government created data base that could include any pertinent information that it’s citizens could access at will by “ plugging up” to that coin. The information could include almanacs, conversion formulas, phone numbers, websites, … anything! The more valuable the information, the more valuable the coin. Of course the coins (obverse) face value should reflect that value. Having more and more coins is not the objective here. Rather, the goal is to share more and more meaningful knowledge and increase it’s availability.This would add a new dimension to worldwide currency trade! It would start the inventive juices flowing and lead us into a brave new future.

    • BillO

      This is just silly.  Why would this information have any value if it was free anyway and available anytime to anyone with a coin or not?  In the future processing power will be contained in the very structure of our devices just like it is in dna.

      • Wm. James from Missouri

        Libraries are free, a mother’s love is free, the greeting you get from your dog when you come home is free;  do you find them to be without value. The concept here is about doing double duty, do not think of my idea a JUST THIS IDEA, rather, think of it as a key that opens a door to a world of ideas.

  • Roger Runnalls

    Want to fix the “debt crisis” problem?  Let the Bush tax giveaway to his constituents (the have’s and have-more’s) expire Dec 31, 2012 as planned.  Of course that could have been done last December, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion.  Just a ruse to eliminate “entitlements”, those pesky hand-outs workers have been funding with their payroll taxes.  My, wouldn’t the corporations like to save their 7.65% share of social security and medicare taxes.  They can fund a multi-billion dollar campaign to stomp out “entitlements” and still see a return on their investment if they win.  Time for the peeps to wake up and say no.

    • Zing

      peeps are little yellow chickens filled with marshmallow and really cute when they’re mad

      • Cory

        They are especially cute when they amass carrying torches and pitchforks and storm the Bastille…

    • Cory

      Unfortunatley, we are actually moving in the other direction.  Lower wages, less benefits, more expensive education, fewer unions, loss of collective bargaining rights…  And all of this while we continue tax breaks for those who certainly don’t need them.

  • Dee

    The Republican Party is pushing ordinary people and workers into a re-
    volutionary mode demanding that reductions in spending be done on
    backs of the little guy while the fat cats on Wall Street and those in
    Defense Complex are giving Carte Blanc…

    As Karl Marx pointed out Capitalism without a conscience is grounds
    for a revolution and that’s where the Republican hard liners are push-
    ing this country and workers…There is an uprising in the air…Dee

    • Zing

      right

    • Tina

      tea party got the uprising to support their own WORST interests, UNFORTUNATELY, imo.

    • William

      Are the “backs of the little people” overtaxed by not paying Federal Income Tax? How much more of a “burden” can they continue to shoulder?

      • Cory

        I think working for low wages without benefits or much prospect of a decent retirement is taxing enough.  Besides, they pay all sorts of other taxes, as you well know.  In my area, all residents of a 5 county TIF disrict pay additional sales tax to pay for a baseball stadium owned by a dotcom millionaire.  The little people are getting tired of eating what you are shoveling.  

        • William

           Perhaps a new policy for the “little people” is in order?. Reject the idea that “low wages without benefits” are not determined by someone in a “land far far away”, but rather by the person working in a profession that has “low wages without benefits?”. I’m no fan of the stadiums built by public funds either. Like it or not, trying to “uplift the little people” has caused this nation to bankrupt itself.

          • Cory

            So your assertion is that our financial woes are the fault of those who have little nothing?  Good to know where you stand.

          • William

            Certainly we all control our own future. Those people that choose to let someone else control their future fail in life.

          • Ggerg

            Bingo! I choose not to be one of the “little people”. Anyone can.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            William,    Are you one of today’s Marie Antoinettes,  “Let them eat cake, if they have no bread!”  The ONLY stregnth that the “Little People” have is unions, and unions are being attacked on every side!

          • William

            Did we not learn any lessons from the failure of the USSR? The liberal motherland tried for 70 years to “make life fair” and failed. The cost in human suffering is still being measure. Greece is going up in flames because someone has said “no more”. Do we wait till we have riots in the streets of Boston or do we make a change now?

          • Terry Tree Tree

            William,  So you’re saying the only system that works, is that the rich are entitled to all they can steal, while the others are to be serfs? 
                 What change do you advocate?

          • William

            So the people that don’t want to work are entitled to the same rewards as the people that do work?

          • crm65

            So you are saying the poor and the middle class don’t work? They work harder than most, certainly harder than the lazy rich folk do. 

          • William

            Are you saying the poor and the middle class don’t get tax breaks? What is it now? 46 percent don’t pay any federal income taxes? There are no and have not been any, none, uplifting programs in this country for the last 70 years since the “New Deal or Great Society” programs for the poor and middle class? nothing…we have not spent trillions of dollars on the poor and the middle class?

          • crm65

            I didn’t say anything about tax breaks. You said people who don’t want to work hard shouldn’t get the same rewards as those that do. And the poor & middle class do work hard – so don’t they deserve rewards?  To you, apparently, only the rich do because they work sooooooo hard (NOT). Somehow I don’t think you can count their money doing the work for them, not the same thing at all. Their tax rewards are much much better than what most poor & middle class recieve.
            And please retire the “50% don’t pay any tax” crap because that is exactly what it is.

          • William

            So the risk takers in our economy don’t work hard? Bill Gates sat on his rear end after making his first million? The small business owner goes home at 4, never works late, off every weekend? Who should be rewarded more? The guy that takes the risk or the guy that does not? They should not be allowed to keep more of their money? After all, they are the ones that created the jobs. Please spare me the bleeding heart nonsense for the “little people”.

          • crm65

            What a joke, the “little people” are what make this country run. Generally the rich don’t work. They let their money or others work for them and while they sit on their pampered rear ends. Most regular folk work their asses off for what little they can squeeze out of their “altruistic” business owners. And that has been less and less over the past 30 years. Spare me the “Business trumps all ” BS.

          • crm65

            What a joke, the “little people” are what make this country run. Generally the rich don’t work. They let their money or others work for them and while they sit on their pampered rear ends. Most regular folk work their asses off for what little they can squeeze out of their “altruistic” business owners. And that has been less and less over the past 30 years. Spare me the “Business trumps all ” BS.

      • ThresherK

        The Boy Who Cried Taxes is back.

  • Cory

    The problem might not be the hoarding of wealth, assets and political power by those at the top.  This has been the case since the dawn of civilization when farming surpluses allowed specialization and currency.  The wealthy now are doing what the wealthy have always done.

    The “problem” might be that communication and education have become  available enough worldwide that the “have-nots” are starting to figure it out.  We are nowhere near resolution, in fact we are likely only at the beginning.  The so called Arab Spring for example.  People are growing weary of having nothing and being told it is right.  The folks in Greece, England, and America being told that the notions of retirement, education and medicine aren’t for everyone anymore.

    We have begun to see people lashing out against the governments that are telling them these lies.  I believe we will also see lashing out against wealth.  You know, the smug and arrogant bastards who always win at the expense of the rest of us.  Although there will be frightening moments ahead and dogged resistance from the status quo, I welcome this conflict.  It is essential for the evolution of humanity.

    Food, medicine, education, and dignity for all mankind.  No other outcome is ultimately acceptable.  Fight on Greeks, Brits, Arabs and Americans.  Fight on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

    Couple key questions: how does the US know how much public debt is too much? (answer should have something about how much private wealth we have, debt/gdp ratio, and availability of capital). When “our grandchildren” pay off the debt, who gets paid? What percentage of debt is owned by foreign entities? (most people think it’s much higher than it actually is). Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

    PS: The last clause of the 14th Amendment expressly forbids default on US debt. This is all so much drama being used by both the left and right for their own purposes. Public debt is just another form of taxes and is primarily a way to transfer wealth from most of us, to those who own the debt.

    • Dpweber83

      No it doesn’t.  You’re thinking of the fourth section of that amendment which reads as follows: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.”

      I don’t want a default either, but what you said isn’t true.

      -dan
      Boston, MA

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

        I guess I assumed defaulting would be invalidating the debt. This was raised by a NYTimes writer on Charlie Rose last week. Not that that gives it any great credibility, but I would assume they wouldn’t say something like that without having at least one “expert” who supports that position. 

        Do you know if there is any case law on the issue?

        Thanks for the heads up.

  • Yar

    Money is only a counter for work, when it no longer represents an accurate counter, economic systems collapse.  Debt on a world or national level is not the same as personal or family debt.  As a nation we are what we produce, not what we owe.  The difference in what we produce and what we owe is eventually represented as inflation.   China has given us goods and ‘loaned us money to buy them’ for the past 40 years.  We are not going to return an equal value of work to China for all that stuff now in our landfills.     The US can not be the world consumer nation forever.  We should embrace change instead of trying to hold on to our currently failing fossil fuel based consumption economy.   Infrastructure based investments that replace energy used should be a major part of our transition.  Just think what a low tech solar hot water heater on every roof would do for our current recession.  Think of the jobs it will create, think of the energy it will save.  Isn’t that a better investment than  bigger flat screen TVs imported from China on borrowed money?   I would like to hear Simon Johnson’s understanding on the economic reasons for the biblical concept of Jubilee.  Why do economic systems tend to spin out of control?

  • Jp173

    What are the key linkages bw the European, north American, and Asian econoomies in the current global economic climate where the European debt crisis is concerned? How exposed is the global economy to Greek and southern European debt? Given the global context what policies should the American government pursue to improve conditions at home while protecting against possible fallout from international crisis.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Thanks, Tom and Guests,    SIMPLE TEST= PROVE that ALL making over $250,000 per year HAVE  created U.S. jobs that exceed the amounts of their tax cuts for the past ten years!  If not, take it ALL back, plus interest,  plus penalties for TAX FRAUD!  Create jobs with  the money thus collected.

  • Tcavastani

    There is a new Republican talking point that claims cutting the deficit will create jobs and that, conversely, government spending “crowds out” the private sector. Is this “crowding out” idea legitimate or just incoherent cover for their favored fiscal policies?

    • Anonymous

      Or whether, for example, hiring 100,000 private contractors to serve in Afghanistan (apparently that’s the current number) is a) sane, and or b) the reason why we go to war? 

      The stats here come from Phyllis Bennis (Institute for Policy Studies) on the Diane Rehm show the other morning:

      “There
      are just under 100,000 US troops, between 40 and 50,000 NATO troops
      other than the US, and about 100,000 US-paid contractors of which 20,000
      are considered officially “security contractors,” meaning they’re
      armed.  The other 80,000 are doing things that in an ordinary army would
      be done by low-ranking privates and such that would be cleaning and
      cooking and driving — that sort of thing.”

      Who’s crowding out whom?

      The right has some ‘splainin’ to do.

    • Dpweber83

      Crowding out is, theoretically, a real thing.  But just like the Laffer Curve, just because it exists doesn’t mean it’s representative of what’s going on right now. 

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowding_out_(economics)

      -dan
      Boston, MA

    • ThresherK

      In theory, Republican say a lot of things about straightening the budget (cutting the deficit or balancing the budget). And that’s where their accomplishments end.

    • Anonymous

      @dbf42aea79aaca649b62b46b5a2cad1e:disqus @b23228a332c7d97e2433659f23d4b822:disqus In ORDINARY times, when the government borrows money, it is competing with individuals and businesses in the private sector for the savings of those with “excess” income (those who, for an interest payment, will defer their purchases of goods and services for some period of time). This amounts to an increase in demand for those savings, increasing the interest rate that savers can demand and thereby decreasing the ability of those in the private sector to afford to borrow as they will perceive the cost to be too high.

      In the CURRENT time, because there is a huge number of people that are in debt, there is a highly reduced demand for goods and services. This means that businesses and individuals are much less interested in borrowing (and those that would have to meet a high standard to qualify as likely to repay a loan), so the government can borrow at a low interest rate, indicting that there is NO “CROWDING OUT.” When interest rates are this low, barely above zero, due to a lack of borrowers, it is called the Zero Lower Bound because the FED cannot lower interest rates below zero

      This condition is called a Liquidity Crisis, as evidenced by interest rates, which the Federal Reserve Bank would lower to give incentive to businesses and individuals to borrow money for expansion or creation of businesses, are ALREADY so low that they cannot be effectively lowered any more. Thus there is no “crowding out” when in this state, which will continue as long as unemployment is so high and people do not have the income to purchase more goods and services.

      This was the now “much maligned” insight developed by Keynes, but which members of the Chicago School of Economics decry because their highly mathematized economic analysis is not well-enough developed to model the economy when a Liquidity Crisis exists. Therefore they just deny it’s existence.

      Even hedge fund managers, such as Bill Gross of PIMCO, are arguing for a large stimulus right now because it WOULD put money in the hands of people who could use it to pay off their debt and thus be able to purchase goods and services in the future. Until the numbers of unemployed are greatly reduced, there will be reduced tax revenue (no income taxes are paid by the unemployed) and increased unemployment insurance payments, which make a huge segment of the deficit. Therefore growth must be achieved before the deficit can be greatly reduced.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll wager that none of the politicians running for President, Senate or the House would pass a job interview in the private sector with the vacuous rhetoric that they peddle to the American public on the economy, debt and taxes. They do the nation and its people no service with their Bread and Circuses. Why does not the fourth estate extract the facts and take them to task… wait, they hold the mortgage on the fourth estate!

    • Dpweber83

      Those politicians aren’t stupid, they’re shrewd.  Platitudes work, particularly in an election season. Your beef lies not with our elected leaders but with your fellow citizens who put them in office.

      As for your bit about the fourth estate, I’d encourage you to look into the history of journalism in this country and tell me where and when you find a golden age of “Just the facts, ma’am.”  I get that you’re mad as hell and aren’t gonna take it anymore, but that doesn’t give you license to rewrite history.

      -dan
      Boston, MA

  • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

    I started at $15,000 a year in 1993 and now I’m only making $35,000.
    I should be making $45,000 by now but I keep moving from one job to another or moved to another State and them moved back to Mass because there were no jobs in Florida. I never had a job when I left Philippines and my first job was flipping burgers in Mcdonald while my ex-girfriend was in College, after 18 years and my 9th jobs my ex-girfriend is still in school.

    • BillO244

      Long past time for a new girlfriend I’d say.

      • Cory

        Bill0244, I’d like to buy you an ale or lager of your choosing…

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Doing the same thing repeatedly, and expecting different results, is one simple definition of  insanity.   OVER Ten Years of ” TAX CUTS FOR THE RICH, TO CREATE JOBS.” (‘W’s own words in 2000), has NOT worked!!  Take it ALL back, and create infrastructure, and green jobs!!  Republicans have proven that they are insane with this mantra.  Just as five Supreme Corporate “Justices”  have proven their insanity, by stating that corporations are citizens, without providing the Certificates of Live Birth (that’s a Birth Certificate to the ignorant), for ALL corporations, Foreign and Domestic.

    • Ggerg

      “Doing the same thing repeatedly, and expecting different results, is one simple definition of  insanity.”

      Like raising the debt ceiling and another stimulus bill?

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Ggerg,   Many of the same Congress, raised the debt ceiling 7 times in 10 years, while receiving their tax cuts, while ‘W’ was in office.   Make them prove that they have created more jobs than their received tax cuts, or take it ALL back, with interest, and penalties, and we probably won’t need a debt ceiling raise!

        • Ggerg

          There is nothing to “receive” in a tax cut only more of your own money to keep. 

          • ThresherK

            Hope you like filling your own potholes.

          • Annig1213

            will no doubt do a better job than the town govt will.. if they EVER get to it!!

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Ggerg,   So you are one of the ungrateful, that I, as a Volunteer Fire Fighter, who, after I help save your life and/or property, say you “received” nothing?   What a warped sense of entitlement!

          • Ggerg

            First, I support the local Volunteer fire department yearly and even hire some of them part time during hay season.
            Second, I am entitled to the fruits of my labor, that’s not warped.
            Third, I’ve got the box blade on my tractor right now to fill some potholes.
            Fourth, I never said I wanted no taxes and anarchy.
            Finally, you don’t really think your analogy is sane do you?

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Ggerg,  Yes, I think my analogy is sane.  If I save a life, that person receives that part of his life that he would have lost.  The same with property.  Explain how he doesn’t?

          • Ggerg

            So if a robber doesn’t rob a bank then the bank received money?

          • howard

            You probably do not subscribe to the saying “no man is an island”, rather you and all of the other free-lunchers who use the same “fruits of my labor” argument apparently believe that ‘every man is an island’, isolated in every way from all others, that the fruits of your labors come from a tree that grows absolutely without input from anyone/anything else, that there is such a thing as the “free lunch”.  No input from teachers, school bus drivers, communications service providers (prevented from exercising monopolistic pricing by regulation devised by government expense), police who held crime down so it was safe to go to school or the bank, banks that were not simply fraudulent front for thieves because of regulation, ag extension workers who figured out the best ways to grow the tree and/or developed special varieties to grow in your climate, the government-constructed highways that brought the necessary ingredients from the tree to the fertilizer, and on and on and on…) is providing you the opportunity to go pick the fruit? 

            Reality says otherwise, there is no such thing as a free lunch, we must pay for the ingredients of the meal we consume.  In many cases of our benefits deriving from the wise investments (physical and intellectual) of our forefathers, we must pay for upkeep/renewal of those investments if we are to continue to reap the benefits generated.  Otherwise, we will soon find ourselves, or our descendents will find themselves, living in a third-world country.

          • Ggerg

            I appreciate your sentiment but you are projecting big time. TerryTreeTree constructed a scenario out of thin air, told me what I think about it and accused that thinking of being warped. You are doing essentially the same thing. Look, if I am opposed to government waste, fraud and excess that does not mean I don’t want police and bus drivers. You seem to be saying (please correct me) the government is entitled to as much of my money as they want without limits and can spend it any way they choose. It is either that or total anarchy. I disagree, it’s much more nuanced than that.

      • Anonymous

        No.

         More like thinking tax cuts on the wealthiest will lead to job creation; like thinking taxing capital gains at a lower rate than wages will stimulate the economy; like paying twice what every other developed nation does for health care, while insuring way fewer and with worse health care results; like spending more on the military/security/industrial complex than the next 15 countries combined, without  achieving a military victory in over 65 years.  I could go on but I’ll let you address those for now.

        You see Ggerg, the things I mention are the reason we have a deficit. 

        • Foothillequestrian

          That’s just silly. The tax cuts were for everybody especially the poor. Capital Gains cut have created more revenue every time they’ve been tried. We had victory in Iraq. The funniest example is about health care which is private unless you are talking about medicare which Democrats refuse to address.

          • ThresherK

            The tax cuts were for everybody especially the poor.

            That’s a laff and a haff. It was loaves for the rich, crumbs for the rest.

            And for them, Cheney had to invent the fallacy that “Deficits don’t matter”. And for what they did, try just for a start http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/taxreceipts.JPG

            Plenty more factuals on hand; don’t have time to play right now.

          • Ggerg

            Yup, The rich’s rates dropped 4.6% and the poor’s 5%. $300 checks were sent to people who didn’t pay taxes and it was taken from those who do. 6 million of the poorest saw their tax liability disappear completely. And paradoxically the rich ended up paying a larger percentage of the bill. That’s what happened, where am I wrong? I stand by my claim.

            I can’t make out the small print on your graph but I can see it says the Bush tax cuts were enacted in 2001. Thanks for giving another example of how the poor fared better. The new 10% bracket was created immediately and the checks were also sent out in 2001. The rest of the rates did not drop until May 2003 when the second bill accelerated the process. The first one waited until 2006. Take a look at your beloved graph to see what happened then.

          • ThresherK

            Yep, six million people paying almost nothing paid nothing: A crumb for them. And the rich, who got exponentially richer, paid a bit more, at a lower rate: A loaf for them.

            Your comprehension is slipping.

          • Ggerg

            Here’s what you don’t comprehend, a tax cut is not a payment. As you wrote, “six million people paying almost nothing paid nothing”, how is it possible to cut taxes below nothing? It’s not, you are talking about redistribution of wealth not tax cuts. Have the guts to be honest about it. BTW, that happened too with the $300 tax credits to people who paid no income tax.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Ggerg,   I’ll gladly pay back the paltry amount of my tax cuts on my wages, if you and your ilk will pay back your billions of tax cuts, and go back to the pre-’W’ rates on income, and declare as income, the brokers’ income, and a lot of others.
                 About health care, $64 Billion of Medicare last year was Fraud.  That would go a long way to help!  Do you volunteer your time to help Medicare and Medicaid recipients wade through the convoluted paperwork?

          • Ggerg

            There is nothing to pay back. It’s not the governments money. You earned it.
            I’m all for getting rid of the waste and the paperwork. Go Paul Ryan!

          • Anonymous

            @5d22af21c13b58d0d09ae606c636b2ca:disqus There are studies that show that the wealthy BENEFIT more from the role of government than the poor; therefore they should pay more. Currently, the wealthy, in practice if not in common knowledge, determine their own incomes, where CEOs pick the compensation board, often incestuously populated with other CEOs, and the CEOs “reward” is most often NOT in proportion to how the company performs (e.g., options are often issued — or “reissued” — to coincide with stock lows so sales at highs are more rewarding). The Supreme Court ruled against stockholders’s influence on management practices and executive pay. There is a business “war” underway on labor, from unions to minimum wage and unemployment pay. The dice are LOADED against all those in the middle or lower classes.

            There is “waste” and redundant paperwork, but the place where eliminating would contribute to the economy is NOT where the Republicans are attacking. They are after the rules that protect the public from toxic chemicals (mercury, arsenic and lead in coal fired plant emissions just for starters). And which groups of people do these emissions affect most: the middle class and lower classes who do not have as wide a choice of living locations, etc.

            The EPA regulation has provided health benefits for all Americans in a ratio of better than $10 of benefit to $1 of cost.

          • Ggerg

            The rich do pay more and that’s fine. I agree that the rich “determine their own incomes”, so do the poor and everyone in between.
            As far as the EPA goes, I don’t think honest debate is possible if Republicans are accused of wanting to poison people. That’s absurd. Dig deeper.

          • Ggerg

            The rich do pay more and that’s fine. I agree that the rich “determine their own incomes”, so do the poor and everyone in between.
            As far as the EPA goes, I don’t think honest debate is possible if Republicans are accused of wanting to poison people. That’s absurd. Dig deeper.

  • MJ

    Many states (New Jersey,
    Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, etc) have
    enacted legislation changing pension and health care benefits for public
    employees because of state debt.  
    Why doesn’t the same apply to our US congressman?   Their defined pensions should be
    reduced, their salaries cut, and they should pay a lot more into their health
    benefits. They shouldn’t get a taxpayer paid gym and a doctor at their disposal
    for minimum cost (and, taxpayer expense)  I realize this is miniscule in the big
    picture – but at least it is in step with what states are doing. 
     
    PLEASE, please don’t respond with, “the House reduced
    their individual budgets by 5%”. 
    THAT is a cop-out, because it didn’t affect ANY of our legislators
    persona salaries/benefits.  There is
    NO ‘equal’ sharing of the ‘pain’. 
    One thing no reporter/journalist or guest will answer is, “did our
    legislators get a pay raise this year”? 
    Government employees have a pay freeze.  Social Security recipients haven’t
    gotten a raise in two years supposedly because there ‘hasn’t been an increase in
    cost-of-living’.  Yet congress’s
    pay, too, is based on ‘cost-of-living’, but I believe they got a pay raise.  I haven’t seen a vote to refuse it.
     
     
    Rep. Shawn Duffy (WI) told his constituents he needs all
    his salary and benefits because he is raising 6 kids.  He NEVER commented that Wisconsin state
    employees shouldn’t get a pay cut or contribute more for their benefits because
    they, too, may have be raising many children on a third of his
    salary. Congress wouldn’t release information to ABC (as reported by Diane
    Sawyer) on how much it is costing taxpayers for their gym because they said it
    was ‘secret’  information.
     
    If reporters (and anchors of Sunday morning political
    programs) would constantly ask legislators if they will change their salaries,
    benefits, pensions, etc to ‘help’ the economy, maybe we then could say there is
    shared sacrifice.  But
    reporters/journalists/anchors are too intimidated to ask these questions.  AND, the public remains ‘unaware’!  When talking about reducing the debt
    they all state everything is on the table —- everything but their personal
    salary and benefits!
      

    • Anonymous

      Not to mention the million or so we pay for every member’s staff.  How many lackeys did the founding fathers so revered by all need to have around and pay to do their job?

  • ThresherK

    I would like to complement Simon for mentioning “business cycle” and its effects on any government’s coffers.

    Jim DeMint: Get him a fainting couch. This is boring, to have to bring up how often and routinely the debt ceiling was raised for Bush II. Is that NPR’s job?

  • ThresherK

    “Some economists will say ‘tax increases will contract the economy’ “, per our host.

    Which ones, and what was their record on the Bush II tax cuts? A great number of them John Boehner quotes as on his side still think these were a good idea and that there are no changes in the economy or business cycle now compared to then.

    And when it comes to Greeks not trusting their government: Which is their Teabagger faction, for whom destroying government from within is a feature, not a bug?

    • Robb

      Tax hikes will hurt the recovery… but we also can’t have tax hikes when the economy is doing well. Hmmm. At SOME point we need to see all these phony rationales as pretenses to NEVER raise taxes. That the Right has to resort to such deceptions proves there’s a hidden agenda they can’t admit to… and we know what that is… to starve the beast… to sabotage the fiscal health of government to kill off programs the Right always loathed.

  • Robb

    Yes we have our head in the sand, or at least the Right does. They have passed round after round of irresponsible tax cuts… some of which Obama foolishly extended, yet claim there’s NO revenue problem… all the deficit is due to spending. Let’s look at the facts.

    Using numbers from http://www.gpoaccess.gov/usbudget/fy11/pdf/hist.pdf

    Table 1.3—SUMMARY OF RECEIPTS, OUTLAYS, AND SURPLUSES OR DEFICITS (–) IN CURRENT DOLLARS, CONSTANT (FY 2005) DOLLARS

    The first column below is Fiscal Year. The second is revenue in CONSTANT DOLLARS… ie inflation adjusted to 2005. The third number is the revenue LOSS for each year below Clinton’s last year… when revenues should have been GROWING from population growth:

    2000 = 2,310.0 CLINTON’S LAST FULL YEAR IN OFFICE

    2001 = 2,215.3 = -94.7

    2002 = 2,028.6 = -281.4

    2003 = 1,901.1 = -408.9

    2004 = 1,949.5 = -360.5

    2005 = 2,153.6 = -156.4

    2006 = 2,324.1 = +14.1

    2007 = 2,414.0 = +104

    2008 = 2,288.5 = -21.5

    In Bush’s 8 years revenues FAILED to exceed Clinton’s last year in all but in 2 and even then by a paltry 118 billion. Yet many Dittoheads I’ve debated are convinced revenues SKYROCKETED after the Bush tax cuts. If one took into account the sizable population growth over those eight years… we might easily find NO revenue growth over ANY kind during the Bush years. Even compared to the Reagan years, the Bush tax cuts were grossly irresponsible. At least Reagan was concerned about the sea of red ink to pass some massive tax HIKES in 82 and 83.

    But then the goal of the Bush tax cuts was never to increase revenue because tax cuts CAN’T increase revenue. The real intent was to INCREASE deficits and debt… then claim some fictitious revenue boom was pissed away by Democrats.

    The Right can pretend to be principled all they want. But now is the moment they’ve planned for these past 30 years. They can exploit the fiscal crisis THEY created to destroy those programs they’ve always loathed.

    • Ggerg

      Revenue increased by over a half a trillion dollars (1901.1 to 2,414) after the tax cuts were implemented in 2003. It’s what happened, did you look at your own numbers? I don’t know what Clinton has to do with anything. I also have no idea why if you have a problem with increasing debt and deficits you are not calling for Obama to resign.

      • Robb

        We’ve been through this before Gregg. Assuming unchanging tax laws, revenues always tend to increase from inflation and population growth. The growth trend can be charted… with the key variable being the health of the economy.  What tax cuts do is depress the growth curve. In the Reagan years it was for about 4 years and that after some massive tax HIKES in 82 and 83. So if the Bush tax cuts SLASHED revenue that it took SEVEN YEARS just to get back to the old level…. then seven years of LOST revenue is proof to you tax cuts create a revenue boom? Of COURSE you do. And let’s not forget that Bush had a chance to PAY DOWN DEBT as he promised but instead slashed revenues… and had to BORROW to cover those tax cuts and his reckless spending. Five TRILLION in new debt and a collapsed economy, yet you obviously see Bush as some sort of fiscal genius and can’t wait to do it all over again. Thanks for another amusing Orwellian Right view of economics.

        • Ggerg

          I never said Bush was a fiscal genius I just said revenue went up and unemployment went down after the tax cuts. It’s true.

          “Assuming unchanging tax laws, revenues always tend to increase from inflation and population growth. ”

          2008 – 2,288.5
          2009 – 1906.7 (last available hard number)

          • Robb

            Anyone saying tax cuts will FOREVER continue to reduce revenue? That’s a red herring… though the Bush tax cuts come VERY close in that revenues in constant dollars have now only exceeded Clinton’s last year for 2 of the past TEN years. What tax cuts do is DEPRESS the naturally upward revenue curve. I’ve used Clinton’s last year as a STATIC point to illustrate how drastically revenues were cut over actual revenue. The more revealing question here is where would the Clinton revenue curve be projected into 2007? It might easily have been $400 billion over Bush’s revenue you’re so impressed with.
            Let me guess, you’re going to claim we can’t count revenue never collected. Yes this isn’t precise. But we DO know that any tax cut bill DOES contain projections about revenues expected to be lost. I seem to recall Bush was projecting about a $1.4 TRILLION revenue dollar loss over 10 years. That might have been just for his first tax cut. But there were several others.
              

          • Robb

            OK, I did what I hope is the correct math. Clintons revenues (constant dollars) increased by an average of about 5.8% a year. If one does a SIMPLE projection of that last Clinton year with $2.310 trillion in revenue it would have been about $3.4 trillion by 2007, some 1 trillion higher than Bush’s actual 2007.

            Of course this 5.8% average includes some exceptionally high revenue growth for a few years that might never be repeated. Nor does it include a recession that was sure to eventually come. The point being that if tax law remains constant revenue tends to increase. Tax cuts depress revenue. While they may eventually rebound, they will ALWAYS be below that original revenue curve. The notion that because they seven YEARS later rebound is proof tax cut produce more revenue is bizarre and intellectually dishonest. And again let’s not forget that Bush COULD have started to pay debt down… but instead choose to slash revenues and go on a spending spree… and he broke the economy.

            So now ANY debt paydown will be that much harder.   

    • William

      So we should go back to the Clinton tax rates and spending rates?

  • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

    I bought a Mecca brand name shirt today.  a company that was started by a Black American. The shirt is Made In USA. like FUBU, New Balance of Maine and Ford motor company or the Tesla electric car. these companies made a changed by returning jobs to Americans. There is no economic impact for now but it might soon.

    • Jeffrey D. Ballinger

      I don’t think FUBU ever made anything in America

  • David lukens

    Professor Johnson’s statement about how runs can be self-fulfilling, as in Indonesia around 2007, hints at the prospect of capital flows having political power. Another example is China’s ability to influence US policy by selling government bonds. Are these “runs” ever manipulated by a relatively small group of people for political reasons? Should this be a concern? 

  • John

    China has pledged to support the Euro by increasing their holdings of European government bonds. What else might China do to address the sovereign debt crisis in Europe if contagion spreads beyond Greece?

  • Vtcheflw

    What we have our heads in the sand about is that debt is not prosperity.  Maybe this could be a wake up to start acting more responsible as a society.  At one point in time people believed in personal fiscal responsiblity in this county.  Now most people don’t even balance thier check books. 

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Vtcheflw,   Acting more responsibly, like prosecuting the Deserter  that stood on national television, and said “I know Sadam Hussein has Weapons of Mass Destruction, and I know where they are!”, and then NEVER found the weapons that he claimed, but the big corporations that helped him take the White House, got HUGE contracts?  Acting responsible by things like that?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

      It seems to me that public debt is primarily money we owe to ourselves (minus debt owned by foreign entities… currently about 25%). When “our grandchildren pay our debt,” primarily other grandchildren (owners of the debt) get paid. I agree we incurred too much private debt (we have also started saving more), and one can have too much public debt, but we are nowhere close to that.

  • http://twitter.com/FilipinoBoston FilipinoBoston

    A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.

  • Dh001g

    I wonder how much the baby boomers retirement funds contribute to funding the US debt. What happens when they retire? Is that when borrowing rates for the treasury will go up? I wold also just like to remind everyone Social Security and Medicare are distinct problems and are long term problems. The first thing on the chopping block should be our 11 aircraft carriers. China doesn’t have any. They are the Maginot line of the 21st century.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Dh001g,  To establish your accuracy, China has recently announced its first aircraft carrier, and stealth fighter.   What is your 21st Century replacement for one of the most versatile weapons/ humanitarian systems the U.S. has in its known arsenal, the aircraft carrier?
           The people that got their tax cuts to create jobs, want to cut Medicare, and Social Security, both insurance policies, paid for by wage deductions.  How many $Trillions does one person have to have to ‘feel rich’?   What do you do that is so important, with all that money?  Amass more money? 
           Bill Gates and Warren Buffet alone, could have created enough jobs, in 2008, to have put a slowing effect on this Recession, without affecting their reported lifestyles.  Phillanthropists?

      • Robb

        These behemoth aircraft carriers may, like the battleships of WWII,  be trending towards obsolescence. They are going to be more and more vulnerable to new missiles. They may have to stand so far off shore their fighters might not have sufficient fuel to carry out operations.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Robb,   I repeat, What is your replacement?   Aircraft carrier defense has evolved, as each threat is perceived.  Sometimes ahead of time, sometimes a little late. 
               If the $Billionaires would create jobs, the need for philanthropic giving would be decreased far faster!   Why pledge philanthropy later, that jobs NOW would help?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

        I agree we should tax high wealth families and middle wealth families more fairly. Currently, middle wealth families pay a tax for the privilege of owning what ties up most of their wealth.. a property tax on their home. The wealthy own most of their wealth in non-tangible assets, which are taxed when a capital gain is taken, interest is paid, etc… but not for just owning it.

        BTW both of the above individuals have given away or pledged to give away over half their wealth … which creates jobs of US citizens who manage the programs and people in developing countries who are future customers. 

    • Robb

      Think about what’s going to happen to stock prices and IRAs dependent on them when Baby Boomers start cashing in and there just aren’t enough Gen Xers to feed the beast!

      THIS is why Wall St is so desperate to get their hands on a new supply of money from Social Security… to keep the illusion of the Magic Money Machine alive.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

        I thought this too but I realized that most of the wealthy don’t “cash in,” they simply live off the income from wealth and then pass it on. It’s interesting how little press the inheritance tax has received.

  • Robb

    The debt limit was raised SEVEN times under Bush2… with great GOP support. That support collapsed with Obama:

    http://crooksandliars.com/jon-perr/10-inconvenient-truths-about-debt-ceiling#four

    The GOP isn’t concerned about debt as long as it funds their priorties.

    • Anonymous

      And we progressives are the same way when it comes to funding our priorities! 

      The big (the crucial!) difference is Democrats — vide Clinton — pay off the debts and boost surpluses.  Not all the time, but enough to make it ridiculous that the Republicans reserve the label “fiscal conservatives” to their party.  They are hardly fiscal conservatives. 

      Sometimes Republican leaders at municipal and county level are better managers.  But we’re talking about genuine conservatives at local level, not the fringe tea-dumping crazies who have helped the fringe fundies turn that party into a shameless gaggle of “I-don’t-know-and-I-don’t-want-to-know” politicians.

      • Robb

         Fiscal conservatism died on the Right back in the 80′s. But the GOP uses the same language even as they’ve embraced fiscal irresponsibility as one of their main strategies. They’re other key strategies are building up a Right wing propaganda infrastructure,  packing the courts, creating phony wedge issues, suppressing the Democratic vote, and defunding the Democratic party by going after unions and trial lawyers. The ONLY way to sell fiscal irresponsibility is to claim it benefits us all… and blame Dems for pissing away the great revenue windfall they claim tax cuts brings in. The Orwellian Right has created a religion that tax cuts are the solution to everything and there’s just no talking sense to such people. Even the hard numbers above don’t phase them. “But revenues went up in 2007!”While fiscally irresponsible in the extreme, the Right’s strategy has worked to move the nation the Right and now is their moment of truth where they plan to exploit the deficit/debt to savage government spending on the Democratic side. Back in January the GOP in the House exposed their true fiscal pathology. Any new spending had to be offset by cuts elsewhere. But deficits created by new tax cuts were just peachy. Sadly Obama just isn’t the person who can even be bothered to educate the public. He caves in for fear of being perceived as partisan… even if the issue isn’t political but deals with the fiscal health of the nation and the stability of some key Safety Net programs like SS and Medicare.BTW, just as an aside in 2000 Bush ran on protecting the Clinton surplus to strengthen SS: http://romcache.tripod.com/bush2000.pdf  If he knew paying down debt would STRENGTHEN Social Security, then he also knew creating more debt would WEAKEN Social Security. So why aren’t the Dems yelling and screaming that the GOP could not be trusted to pay down debt in 2001 so why now?
        The ONLY way to sell fiscal irresponsibility is to claim it benefits us all… and blame Dems for pissing away the great revenue windfall they claim tax cuts brings in. The Orwellian Right has created a religion that tax cuts are the solution to everything and there’s just no talking sense to such people. Even the hard numbers above don’t phase them. “But revenues went up in 2007!”While fiscally irresponsible in the extreme, the Right’s strategy has worked to move the nation the Right and now is their moment of truth where they plan to exploit the deficit/debt to savage government spending on the Democratic side. Back in January the GOP in the House exposed their true fiscal pathology. Any new spending had to be offset by cuts elsewhere. But deficits created by new tax cuts were just peachy. Sadly Obama just isn’t the person who can even be bothered to educate the public. He caves in for fear of being perceived as partisan… even if the issue isn’t political but deals with the fiscal health of the nation and the stability of some key Safety Net programs like SS and Medicare.
        BTW, just as an aside in 2000 Bush ran on protecting the Clinton surplus to strengthen SS: http://romcache.tripod.com/bush2000.pdf  If he knew paying down debt would STRENGTHEN Social Security, then he also knew creating more debt would WEAKEN Social Security. So why aren’t the Dems yelling and screaming that the GOP could not be trusted to pay down debt in 2001 so why now?

      • Annig1213

        ironic that anyone these days who claims to be “fiscally conservative” and “anti Government” is labeled a “tea Party-er”
        there are moderates and Libertarians who feel much the same way..

        how about a revolution?  How about we dump the REPUBLICRATS and revamp the whole system

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

        Deficits and surpluses are attempts by the government to balance business cycles. A little is good, too much (of either) is bad. So the debate, it seems to me, should be about how much is too much? Today’s show was one of the first in mainstream that mentioned a target debt/gdp ratio (80%). But wouldn’t that change over time depending on business cycles, war, natural disaster…..

    • Ggerg

      Obama voted no in 2006 and said Bush was irresponsible. Now with the economy in a tailspin after disastrous fiscal policy he’s all for it. He’s made such a mess we may never see deficits as low as they were in 2006 or an economy as strong. Not to mention an unemployment rate well below 5%. It’s so bad we are now measuring the “misery index” again and inventing new ways to hide the truth with terms like “jobs created or saved“.

      • ThresherK

        *yawn*

        Yep, the ship was flying steady before he got in the pilot’s seat.

        And as far as “strong as 2006″, that’s no great shakes. Five year expansion, little to show for it: Median income, topheavy accumulation, all that productivity from you and me and we got nothing to show for it.

        That was Bush’s version of a recovert! He lost jobs in his first term. Obama’s beat him in job creation even in these doldrums.

        • Ggerg

          Well yea he lost jobs but he inherited a recession and there was 9/11. So there’s that.
          And yea 2006 wasn’t “great shakes” unless you compare it to now then it’s heaven.
          Also, speak for yourself about production. I worked hard did fine without help from government.
          The idea that Obama beat Bush in job creation is fantasy with no possible way to back up. Or are you talking about alleged “jobs saved”?

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Ggerg,   ‘W’ campaigned that he would make us safer!  How many U.S. citizens felt safer on 12 Sept.,2001, than they did in 2000?  How stupid do you have to be, to hold a millitary exercise of exactly the 9/11 scenario, on a day that has been used for attacks in the past, by the enemy he feared would attack? 
                 ‘W’ didn’t inherit a recession, he stated in his 2000 campaign that he would make the Federal Surplus larger! 
                 ‘W’ also said ‘he’ would get Osama bin Laden, whatever it takes.  Of course, they also said he landed that plane of an aircraft carrier, until they were called on it!
                 How many jobs have you created, with your $Billions in tax cuts?

          • Ggerg

            That’s just a big ol’ talking point TerryTreeTree. The Clinton recession happened from the bursting dot.com bubble. Even Clinton says so because it’s undeniable. The numbers are the numbers. Recessions and surpluses are not mutually exclusive.
            As far as 9/11 goes, I’m assuming you believe after Al Qaeda’s first attempt to bring down the twin towers in 1993 Clinton’s strategy worked fine to protect us from the second attempt. I’m sure all plans were abandoned and not resuscitated until Bush took office. It was probably a good idea for him to turn down Sudan’s offer to hand over Bin Laden. Right?
            Don’t get me started on campaign promises like closing Gitmo, no Lobbyist, 8% unemployment if we passed the stimulus, repealing the tax cuts, no signing statements, no military tribunals, no indefinite detention without a trial, negotiations on C-Span, no health care mandates, no recess appointment, no tax increases of any kind, accelerating Bush’s Iraq withdrawal timetable, hope, change, etc.. and on and on.  

          • Annig1213

            and lets not forget that while Clinton, was “wagging the dog” with a cigar and an intern in Washington, Osama Bin Laden got away…

            bloody hell!

          • Sam Walworth

            Did the world really know Osama Bin Laden before Sept 12 2001?

          • Fredlinskip

            Whole world?- perhaps not.   Clinton and Bush’s Counterterrorism Czar Richad Clarke sure did. Clarke was ready to present Bush with strategy to roll back and destroy al Qaeda, but the president didn’t permit a briefing until not long before 9/11. Even then he wasn’t taken seriously, but conversation was diverted to Hussein.         After ignoring existing plans to attack Al Qaeda when he first took office, Bush made disastrous decisions when he finally did pay attention. Thanks to the conspiratorial views of Wolfowitz Rumsfld, Bush, and Fox “news”, we went after wrong enemy.

          • Ggerg

            “Thanks to the conspiratorial views of Wolfowitz Rumsfld, Bush, and Fox “news”, we went after wrong enemy.”

            Regime changeConspiracy 

          • Ggerg

            Heck yea, Al Qaeda was behind the first WTC attack in 1993 and Sudan offered him up to Clinton who took a pass. But it’s a point well taken. I don’t feel comfortable blaming Clinton for 9/11. The paradigm shifted that day.

          • Sam Walworth

            Ggreg,

            Of course people in Intelligence community knew Bin Laden right from the Charlie Wilson era.

            However outside Intelligence community few cared about him.. and yea Clinton really wanted to get him but was opposed by our GoP that why one earth he is wasting resources about man running around .. that’s exactly was my point.

            GW on the other hand had received credible threats but did choose not to act.. or so it seems

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Ggerg,   To avoid answering even one of my questions, is an admission.   ‘W’ had ample time, using all the millitary capabilities he boasted of, to have set right whatever he saw, that would have made us safer.  DID THIS NATION FEEL SAFER ON 12 SEPT., 2001, THAN IT DID IN NOVEMBER 2000?  WERE WE SAFER, AFTER ‘W’ TOOK OFFICE?  Obama has at least tried to fulfill his campaign promises.  The ‘NO’ Congress, has blocked him at most turns.   It’s not his failure, it’s THEIRS !!!   Christ said to teach a man to fish, more than give a man a fish.   He also gave away his material goods, to those in need!   It will be interesting to see how so many try to get bloated camels through the eyes of those needles.  Got lots of camel grease??

          • http://reinventing-america.blogspot.com/ ulTRAX

            Gee Gregg… how many times does someone have to post the NBER data to prove to you the Bush recession officially began in MARCH 01!!! The popping of the .com bubble in spring 2000 was going to have a negative effect on the economy, but despite your claims in other forums that in 2000 employment and revenues were in “freefall”, it’s not true. 2000 was the best year for revenues and the last four months of 2000 the unemployment rate was 3.9%.

          • Robb

            Technically Bush did NOT inherit a recession. It began in March 01

            http://www.nber.org/cycles/november2001/

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

            without help from the government? no patent office? no power lines, dams, interstates… really?

          • Ggerg

            Oh please, you know what I meant. But if you want to get technical, I paid for those services rendered. I did not sit on my hands waiting for government to redistribute someone’s wealth to me. I took matters into my own hands and got’r done.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

            I don’t think the idea is to distribute it to anyone in particular but to use some of the wealth to pay for the things that will allow better return on wealth in the long run, like education, infrastructure, reasonable governance…. Remember, Warren Buffet said 80% of his wealth would not have been possible without “social capital” or consumers and workers to keep things running and the systems that support all that. We have to do something with all that wealth accumulating near the top. Individuals hoarding it doesn’t help them or anyone else. Society becomes less stable (less business friendly) when inequality gets past a certain point.

          • Ggerg

            Well, I suppose that’s one theory. When I see a fat man standing next to a skinny one I don’t automatically assume the fat guy stole the other one’s food. Point being, just because wealth gets concentrated doesn’t mean someone has to settle for less. The pie can get bigger. Concentrated wealth is a side effect of freedom I don’t know how to get around it with out redistribution.

          • Terry Tree Tree

            Ggerg,   NO help from the gov’t?  No meagcorp farm subsidies, in any form?  No Ag. Extension agent?  No wetlands, or other take-farm-land-out-of-production payments in any way?  No Nat’l Weather Service farm info?  NO FAA air traffic control, for your private helicopter, and jet, that you use, to avoid using public (gov’t) roads, and waterways?  NO Rural Electrification to your farm, or ranch?  No FDA protection of the foods you eat?  No wonder you can claim NO gov’t , you have NO idea how much it does for you!!!    This is just a very small portion of the list!! So obvious that you live in denial.

      • Robb

        No, the economy was in a death spiral in 2008 now we have a sputtering recovery. Did you think a recovery with a collapsed banking sector would be a walk in the park?

        Just look at the Reagan era. In Feb 1981 Reagan predicted his new Voodoo Economics would create 13 million new jobs by 1986.

        What did we get? 18 months later unemployment hit 10.8%… higher than under Obama. Total job creation by Jan 86…. a pathetic 8.4 million… 1.5 million LESS new jobs than he claimed would be created under the old Carter policies.

        Reagan was a FAILURE by his own measure, but I bet you believe Voodoo Economics was a smashing success… don’t you Ggreg!  

  • ThresherK

    Why is it that when the GOP is in power, “the size and role of government” doesn’t get questioned in the press? Because the right wing’s fiscal conservatism is such a birthrighteous characteristic that nothing they do will get them narrativized as the wastrels they are.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

      love narrativized and wastrels ….

      • ThresherK

        Thanks, but I can’t claim to have invented them. I will take credit for “Birthrighteous”, which also applies to any right-wing pol’s standing on defence (Strong) and values (Pro-, or Family-): No matter what they do, the press can’t take that label away from them.

  • Yar

    When looking at tax reform, we must look at the revenue side of the equation, not tax revenue, but campaign revenue.  The tax system is the result of our campaign funding system.  It is what keeps us away from tax reform.

  • Mike Canter

    How can we expect a fair debate in Congress, when all Republicans are forced to sign a No New Tax pledge by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. They are supported by the extreme right, former John Birchers, and the Koch Family.This organization will spare no expense to defeat anyone who does not support their position.

  • ThresherK

    “Tax increases for the wealthy would not go a long way to solve the deficit problem”?

    Can we reframe that to sound less like Fox News? Of course tax increases on the wealthy will not wipe out the deficit.

    But that framing makes normal tax rates on the rich just like every other element being discussed: Not the solution to all our problems.

    The right-wing strawmanning, “It won’t solve our problem, therefore why do it?” doesn’t reflect well on this show. Any reasonable economist will tell us that tax rates on the wealthy are at historically low levels.

    Maybe, deficit or no, it’s just too low right now, and no fake figures that can be fabricated makes it elsewise, and the best rate is somewhere between the marginal rate of now–y’know, that Joe The Plumber’s Little Helper was whining about being wealthy enough to worry about paying some day–and the 90%.

    Do we have to lobby NPR for a liberal to just make this down-the-middle accurate observation?

  • http://richardsnotes.org Richard

    Well done Tom (Gjelten). Excellent hour. Depressing but I can’t get enough of the clear brilliance of Simon Johnson.

    • Robb

      I think Tom G’s questions were too deferential to the Right. Did he ever bother to state the depressed revenue numbers over the past decade when talking about the need for possible tax hikes?

  • Yar

    You just can’t do it in a single hour.  Please take another hour or two again soon.  What would happen if we shifted healthcare funding from private insurance to a 10 percent VAT and required all health insurers to process and maintain complete electronic patient charts and make them available to healthcare providers.  They already collect the data why not use it.  This would eliminate marketing expenses (and associated profit) in the health insurance industry while increasing efficiency in providing healthcare.   We don’t have a clue which economic activity builds the nation and what is simply a drag on our productivity.  The idea that all taxes are bad and all private investment is good is simply wrong.  We will change, but we might not like the changes we face.  If Greece is Lehman, then  the US is AIG.  We have yet to pay the first dime of that financial crisis, we only shifted the burden of responsibility to the public balance sheet.   I look forward to listening more on the subject again soon.
     

    • William

      What is the advantage of a VAT tax other than giving people in government more money to spend?

      • Yar

        Look at how healthcare is funded, people who buy health insurance are paying for everyone, we don’t call it a tax even though it is a huge redistribution of wealth.  The working poor with insurance are paying higher percentage of income their income on wealth redistribution than the rich.  Their tax rates (including health related expenditures) can exceed 50 percent of income.  I was proposing a VAT to replace those expenses.  It is a consumption tax, it has problems but I believe it may be a fairer way to fund healthcare than our current system.  

        • William

          Start another tax would not solve any problems and just allow the people in government to expand their reach and pay themselves even higher salaries.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

      The debt on the “public balance sheet” is owned (minus the amount owned by foreign entities… about 25% currently) by the public. There is a fundamental misunderstanding among most about the difference between public and private debt and between the debt owned with the reserve currency, and all other public debt.

      I like your efficiency idea with medical records. The best thing we could do for efficiency generally would be a minimum income. Talk about getting government out of people’s lives….. no more minimum wage, pay for your own health insurance, retirement….. This was last seriously considered during the Nixon administration if I have my history right. The great irony is the 100′s of thousands of federal, state and locals making their living by deciding who gets what and doling it out, would be among the first to benefit from the minimum income…. sorry, bit of a tangent.

      One more thing on the huge scarry cost of medical care for the baby boomers. Won’t all that money go back into the economy in the form of wages, supplies, etc?

  • Ellen Dibble

    Great show.  Blast it into the Capitol rotunda 24/7, or whatever it takes.  Thanks to Simon Johnson, Michael Spence, Tom Gjelton, and callers.  All of this can’t be said enough.  I can think of Act II, various forms, but I may not live long enough.
        Get with it.  Focus on health care costs before they consume us, via the private sector or via the public sector; either way.  The private inevitably being more profit-driven.  
        Also, think about investing in the future, and just how we have to plan to succeed, not to fail.
        Education. Infrastructure.  Wherewithal for New Growth.  Remember, these things aren’t free.  That’s the main thing.
        One caller brought up American colonialism (imperialism?), and we need to be pragmatic about our role in a more globally interconnected world.  Do we need eleven aircraft carriers and nobody else; just please to loan us enough money/rope to hang ourselves (and the lenders are “not our friends,” and are glad to profit from the things they apparently expect the USA/military to spend in terms of military hardware; no, Johnson says Japan is not such a huge ally — I can’t get enough of this sort of talk).
       I really like the idea of addressing the debts in a 10-plus-year range, not getting all wound up about the next dip we have to get through while a foreclosed-upon middle class reconnoiters.

  • Skli65300

    My checkbook is balanced.  I want my government to do the same.

    • Yar

      Sounds simple, but as you balance your checkbook do you consider that it is only one account.  Do you have enough savings to provide for your retirement?  Did you have enough kids to provide the work to allow you to cash in your savings as you need to?  Did you properly educate them so they can do that work to cover your retirement while saving for their own.  A nation is different than a family, the balance of accounts is not just simple accounting, we are trading work over time.  We hope to have enough resources for our entire life, even beyond our working years.  The problem with both your checking account and the national ones is that we are not really balancing.  We are using more resources than the earth can provide, we are using up peoples energy without regard to their total life needs, we see people as production units and seek to dump them on someone else as soon as they are no longer profitable for us( Medicare and Social Security entitlement reform).  That is not a system that will work for very long.
      Back to your checking account.  The current system is actually balancing its books on the value in you account, it is called inflation.  Get ready to see it soar. Then you will see if you can still balance your own checkbook.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

        If you want to use the personal debt analogy then it’s more appropriate to think of public debt the same way you might if you borrowed 10K from your savings to buy a car. You are now in debt to your savings account for that 10K. When “our grandchildren” pay off the debt they will mostly be paying themselves and other grandchildren who own the debt.

    • Robb

      Did you feel this way when Bush and the GOP sabotaged debt paydown in 2001?

    • Robb

      Oops, take away one “liked” for Skli… I hit that button by mistake.So if YOU had a mortgage or car loan would you CUT your income to borrow more money and increase your debt? That’s what Bush and the GOP did starting in 2001. We COULD have started to pay down our debt then… and this is what Bush PROMISED. Clearly when faced with a deficit the REASONABLE thing to do is cut spending AND look for more revenue. That the Right has taken common sense off the table means that common sense THREATENS them somehow. How can that be… unless they WANT a fiscal crisis to exploit for political ends. At what point does their deliberate sabotaging of the fiscal health of the nation cross the line from treachery to treason?   

    • Cory

      I don’t travel to other homes and assault their residents.  I want my government to do the same. 

      • Ggerg

        So you were opposed to killing Bin Laden?

  • Robb

    What about FINALLY having a show that EXPOSES the Right’s deliberate sabotaging of the fiscal health of our government? How could this fiscal insanity go on for THIRTY YEARS without our system of check and balances stopping it?

    And NO, there’s no need to have any “balance” with a spokesperson from the Orwellian Right.

    Lies and distortions do NOT deserve equal time.

    • Modavations

      Spoken like a true “Politboro”wannabe

      • Robb

        You have it backwards freddym. It’s not a matter of the Orwellian Right’s propaganda not being heard. They had a loud enough microphone these past 30 years. Their party line is now being spouted by the entire GOP.What’s is more interesting here is getting to the truth. What their real agenda? What’s behind their lies and distortions? Why in a nation with a free press and an opposition party has the Right been able to sabotage revenues, sabotage debt paydown, and now hold the nation hostage without THEIR role in the crisis being exposed? They’ve managed to pay NO political price for their treachery. Listening to another regurgitation of their talking points won’t enlighten anyone. It will only serve to help them conceal their agenda. Is THAT what you believe the role of press in a free society is? To aid in deceiving Americans? Sounds like YOU’RE really in favor of that Politburo model you pretend to condemn.   

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

          Unfortunately the left, at least in Congress, has bought the debt monster hook, line and sinker. Even Senator Sanders won’t question the orthodoxy of “debt bad” “we’re broke” cut/tax. The left winks to the debt monster and hopes the fear will allow for tax increases. The right winks and hopes for “less government.” 

          BTW, yet another show on debt without any mention of two of the three factors I can figure need stated to know how much debt/surplus is too much. That is… private wealth (currently about 55 trillion), and the problem of crowding out of private debt with public debt. 

          The wealth figure? Can someone explain to me why this is mentioned so little? If you want to know how much debt is too much don’t you need to know how much wealth you are borrowing against? If people insist on using the personal finance model (bad idea) it would be the same as the difference between having a million in assets and 100K in debt vs. 900K — one only knows if 900 is a lot if you know how much you have to pay it off with. Last time I looked at the numbers about six months ago, we could pay off the whole US debt, just with private fungible assets, and still have some teens of trillions left in fungible assets. That’s without touching public wealth or private real property.

          All but 25% or so of the debt is money we owe to ourselves (the rest to foreign entities … mostly owned by central banks as reserve). 

          Interesting how little we hear about corporate debt. Isn’t that debt bad too?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

            Great way of putting it about the real desire of the right in post above. “Smaller government” regardless of whether that is what we need.

      • Cory

        So, if you aren’t a neo-con or a tea-bagger, you must therefore be a card carrying Marxist.

      • Robb

        Put another way… journalism has this bizarre idea that if they put on representatives of “both sides”, and even then it’s usually along the lines of our dysfunctionally narrow ideological spectrum in the US, and all they do is spout talking points and spin… then they’ve been “objective” and performing their function as journalists even though nothing was really learned.
         
        The truth often isn’t what people say, especially in politics. It’s what they are internally consistent about. And when it comes to the Right, they’ve clearly embraced the “starve the beast”, “two Santa” strategy. That is they intend to use the power of government to enrich their rich constituency and in turn create as much debt as possible. In this warped political strategy debt actually becomes a useful political bludgeon because it also limits or kill off Democratic programs.

        If the Dems are left cleaning up their mess, all the constraints are on them. Conversely paying DOWN debt is a threat. So if like Clinton the Dems get us to a surplus… that will have to be sabotaged to prevent any debt paydown. The GOP thinks now is the time to strike to kill off Democratic programs but it falls apart if there are ANY new revenues.

        Now THAT explains more about what the Right is up to than all the spin from Fox, Limbaugh, Boenher, Canter, Heritage, CIE, or the Chamber of Commerce.

  • freddym

    Neither gentleman has held a job in the private economy.Pointy heads!!!!!This is why the Obama presidency is such a failure.Who would hire someone named Austen Goolsby.Clinton said WE’LL RUN 200-300billion dollar deficits ,”as far as the eye can see”.Newt and the boys came ,in dropped the cap.gains tax and voila.Reagan and Kennedy were the biggest tax cutters.Reagan produced 30 million jobs.

    • Cory

      As we all know, the private economy has cornered the market on intelligence, ethic, and morality.  COUGHenronCOUGH!

  • Modavations

    We’ve raised the “debt ceiling” 50 times already.Our govt.sounds like a junkie,please,o please,just one more fix,I’ll kick tommorrow.

    • Cory

      Sometimes I wonder what our debt situation would look like w/out the Bush tax cuts and the two unfunded wars he began.  Remember?  (Especially the war begun to keep Sadam Hussein from completing his pending Nukyaler program).  I think I remember Clinton leaving office with budget surpluses.

      • Zing

        There you go thinking again. Budget surpluses result from  excessive taxes.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

          Business cycles happen. See below re: how to know how much debt/surplus is too much.

          • ThresherK

            I hope you’re talking past that fella to others who don’t know him. Because there’s no point trying to talk sense to him.

            But, yes, business cycle. The same people who couldn’t help but measure peak-to-trough economic numbers during Shrub’s regime are totally lost on the concept now also.

  • Robb

    What happened to the new paragraph spacing????? Long posts are difficult to read without it.

  • Modavations

    Last year we paid 413Billion in interest.This year we’ll pay 457billion.There is only one country in europe still run by the Dems,Greece!!!!!!!Even Spain and Portugal have flipped.Not only is the “left”enamored by failed Keynesian economics(P.Krugman says we haven’t spent enough),your rascist.Thanks to your heinous Welfare policies, one out of every 3 black males is in jail,on parole,or probation.Out of wedlock births are up to 90%in the ghetto.Moynihan warned you and 1965!!!And all this for a vote………

    • Cory

      Okay, I’m pulling the “troll alert” lever.  I was going to wait until he said something about welfare mothers driving cadillacs, but…

    • Robb

      In FY08 Bush paid $451 billion in interest. And Bush paid over his 8 years $2.9 TRILLION in interest. Where you raising red flags then?
      http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/ir/ir_expense.htm

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

      Who gets paid the interest?

  • Modavations

    There are two types in this world, Robert.Those who believe in govt and those who believe in the individual.”Me and Mine” can be found at the Alamo.Please knock off the “name calling”and “hate speech”.Learn!!

    • Cory

      I believe that powerful and wealthy “Individuals” require the tack and harness of government to keep them from abusing the powerless.  Please go ahead and tell me that it is my imagination and never really happens.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

      I think it’s possible to believe in both. Why does it have to be either/or? I’ve been thinking the “spectrum” that might be more useful is having those who live fully in scarcity at one end and those who live fully in abundance at the other end. And it’s not about having more or less (there is a minimum we all need of course) but one’s experience of having more than enough, or not enough. It sounds newagey (or “newage” as my better half would say), but it seems where one is on that spectrum would inform how much one is willing to fund the public good. At one end is the belief that if you have more I have more, at the other, if you have more I have less.

      For example, if we as a nation lived more at the abundance end we would increase foriegn assistance (currently public foreign aid is less than 0.2% of GDP) because we know that if there is more sustainable development in the less developed countries, it will help us in the long run. More customers for us. It also happens to be the right thing to do. 

  • Modavations

    Tarp cost 700billion,Stimulus 1 was another 700billion and QE2 was 600bill.If there are 150million workers(Robb calls them Proletariat)we could have cut everyone a check for $13,000.00.Now that ,Mr.Krugman, is what I’d call “stimulus”.

    • Cory

      What would have happened to our economy w/out stimulus, professor?

      • Modavations

        It wasn’t Stimulus.It went to Dem.constituents and didn’t produce diddly(each job created cost 250,000.00ish).I’m not a professor,I’m a gem trader,who has been everywhere in the world, a million times.

      • Ggerg

        Things would have been far better without the stimulus which failed. Don’t confuse it with TARP. I must correct Modavations, the failed “Stimulus” cost $830 billion not $700 billion.

        • Robb

          It failed? By what measure… getting a unemployment prediction wrong? Who really knew then how damaged the economy was! And some argued that the Stimulus was too small… and spending was being stretched out until 2010. I agree with both.  Of course Reagan also made some predictions in 1981: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=4342713 million new jobs by 1986? Six months later the economy slipped into the deepest recession since the 30′s. Unemployment was 10.8% by Dec 82… higher than under Obama. As for those jobs? Only about 8.4 million… 1.5 million LESS than Reagan claimed would be created under the old CARTER policies. Reagan was a FAILURE by his own measure. But I bet you consider Reagan a success… right!  

           

          • Ggerg

            Thank God crackpot Krugman isn’t president. Yea he got the unemployment rate wrong… and GDP estimates (bigtime)… and the cost of Obamacare… and admitted there were no “shovel ready” jobs… and QE1… and 2.
            I know, I know it would have been worse because he didn’t realize how bad Bush damaged the economy… even though he campaigned saying it was far worse than it actually was. He had no idea he was right, right? 

  • ElfmanNW

     
    Contrary to what the politicians of
    both parties in Washington seem to believe the national debt is not
    the number one economic problem in the country at this time. It
    certainly isn’t as the Republicans seem to believe that the wealthy
    do not yet have enough money. That being a bigger problem to the
    Republicans than the debt. The big problem is that for the bottom
    80% of Americans the recession is still here, and its not getting any
    better.

  • Modavations

    I loved Clinton,but he’s the one who got rid of Glass-Steagall!!!!Don’t forget kids,the “Business of America is Business”.We chase our companies out of the US.EPA,NLRB,Union Thuggery…..get the oppressive boot of govt.off our backs and we’ll thrive.As of Jan 1., we won’t be able to buy 100 watt bulbs!!!!!!!.

    • Sam Walworth

      If I can get the same light from 28W bulb, do I really need to buy a 100W bulb?

      Its something like I am complaining about a Ford Explorer 1999 when I can afford and buy a Ford Explorer 2009

      • Ggerg

        You are still free to buy that 1999 Ford but not the incandescent bulb. It’s about freedom not the government telling you what you need. The florescent bulbs do not put out the same amount of light for long, they dim over time. It takes time after turning them on to get bright, especially in cold weather. They have to be disposed of as hazardous waste. And they are not saving the planet.

        • nj

          You guys are a riot. Where do you live that you can’t buy an incandescnent bulb?

          • Ggerg

            They still have some in stock at my local hardware store but by law they can no longer be manufactured in the U.S.
            I have been waiting for someone to point out it was Bush who did it. That doesn’t matter to me, It’s still doo goody BS.

      • Modavations

        I was in a hotel in Vt.last night.The place had “curly cue”bulbs and I couldn’t read the newspaper.I’ve got 100 bulbs stashed in my basement and they arn’t GE products.Someone said you have to call a Hazmat team if you break a “curly cue” lt bulb.Saw a guy on C-Span who was involved in a deep water oil well.He said you’d have to cover all of Missouri and Arkansas in Wind Mills to get the equivalent energy!!!

      • Worried for the country(MA)

        You can buy whatever bulb you desire.  Just don’t prevent the rest of us of buying what we want.

        btw – the light isn’t the same quality.  Also, I prefer to avoid placing mercury bombs all over my home.

        Also, I’m all in favor of better energy efficient products.  I’m hoping LED lights eventually become cost effective.

        • nj

          Who’s preventing you from buying what you want? What is it, exactly, that you want?

    • Robb

       
      What did this nation in were RIGHT wing policies… some adopted by pro-corporate Dems like Clinton. They sabotaged our industrial base with free trade, let the predators run wild on Wall St and in the commodities markets, he deregulated the mass media. Clinton’s only saving grace was he was a fiscal conservative. Bush took care of that. He made sure there was no money available to pay down any debt as promised. 
      Isn’t it interesting that it was the instincts of the Left that were opposed to most or all of the Right insanity above. 

  • Robb

    OK, I did what I hope is the correct math. Clintons revenues (constant dollars) increased by an average of about 5.8% a year. If one does a SIMPLE projection of that last Clinton year with $2.310 trillion in revenue it would have been about $3.4 trillion by 2007, some 1 trillion higher than Bush’s actual 2007.

    Of course this 5.8% average includes some exceptionally high revenue growth for a few years that might never be repeated. Nor does it include a recession that was sure to eventually come. The point being that if tax law remains constant revenue tends to increase. Tax cuts depress revenue. While they may eventually rebound, they will ALWAYS be below that original revenue curve. The notion that because they seven YEARS later rebound is proof tax cut produce more revenue is bizarre and intellectually dishonest. And again let’s not forget that Bush COULD have started to pay debt down… but instead choose to slash revenues and go on a spending spree… and he broke the economy.

    So now ANY debt paydown will be that much harder.   

    • Robb

      Oops, that response was intended to Ggreg.

      • Ggerg

        Yea, and if a frog had wings…

        Your projection is fantasy, the bubble would still have burst and 9/11 would still have annihilated the center of the financial universe. Things don’t happen in a vacuum. If you want to make things up then project what current spending will do to us if maintained.

        • Robb

          I admitted the 5.8% projection could not hold over time. But the revenues would still have been higher under Clinton tax levels than after 3 ROUNDS of Bush tax cuts. And let’s not forget my FIRST numbers posted use Clinton’s last year as a FLAT projection going into the Bush years and revenues in constant dollars were LOWER than Clinton’s last year for all but two of ten years. Yup, in your mind that’s proof tax cuts create revenue booms.

          As for 911… I don’t believe it had to happen nor that it “annihilated the center of the financial universe”. I don’t believe Clinton was that incompetent. 911 is a topic for another time. Let’s deal with government finances.

          • Ggerg

            I don’t know how one can overstate the impact of 9/11 on the economy and jobs. The same is true with the dot com bubble both in the positive effect of the build up and the negative effect of the bursting. Scroll down and look at the NASDAQ graph for Pete’s sake! It just does not make sense to ignore these factors. I too don’t believe Clinton was incompetent. 
            You say 9/11 didn’t have to happen but it happened. You claim more revenue would have been created without the tax cuts but you don’t know that. I am looking at what happened, reality. The fact is more revenue came in so it is impossible to say they created deficits without twisting history into a pretzel. It is also a fact that the unemployment rate dropped for 53 months after the tax cuts. How would inflation and population growth create jobs? It would seem to work against it but lower unemployment and higher revenues correspond nicely. The tax cuts did not hurt the economy, they helped the recovery. 
            Clinton is gone, let it go. Everything is different now, Europe is imploding, China is freaking out over our debt, unemployment is at critical levels, revenue is down, we are fighting more wars, there are no bubbles to inflate, gas prices are soaring and government is expanding. No more “The era of big government is over” as Clinton said after he got the message in 1994. I really think your logic is irrational and I’m sure it’s a waste of time to speculate about it. We are in deep doo doo after two years of Obama. Why don’t you ever mention  or defend him?

          • Robb

             
            Ggreg wrote: “You claim more revenue would have been created without the tax cuts but you don’t know that. I am looking at what happened, reality. The fact is more revenue came in so it is impossible to say they created deficits without twisting history into a pretzel.”
             
            You clearly have no need for reality. If you did you’d have to acknowledge that the Clinton formula RAISED revenue.

            In your Orwellian world tax cuts play NO role in future revenue… even if those who write and evaluate these bills like the CBO know otherwise. Your world revolves around the intellectualy dishonest attempt to rewrite history. The result is in your fantasy world seven YEARS of lower revenue is “proof” the Bush tax cuts created a magical revenue boom. What’s your second act Ggreg? Perhaps black is white and war is peace? 

          • Ggerg

            The CBO does not write bills and they evaluate only what is given to them in a vacuum. For instance, Obama asked the CBO to calculate the cost of Obamacare assuming a 4% growth in GDP and voila, the budget balanced… with the help of counting $500 billion in Medicare cuts twice and other tricks. That’s not reality it’s a dream. Tim Pawlenty did the same thing and gave the CBO 5% growth (it may have been higher) to get his ideas to work on paper. I like reality. You are the one rewriting history and probably have a speed key macro for the word “if”. If we kept Clintons rates; If Reagan hadn’t cut taxes; If Clinton didn’t raise taxes; If 9/11 didn’t happen. That’s NOT what happened. Revenue was at $1,901,100,000,000 when the tax rates were lowered. Again, you are rewriting history to claim they would have been higher if… I don’t even know what. Some how or another revenue went down while Clintons rates were still in effect. By 2007 revenue was $2,414,000,000,000. Newsflash, that’s a bigger number and will remain bigger no matter how many time you say it was lower if. Reality.

            Tell me one single solitary bit of history I’ve rewritten. And do it without using the word “if”. It’s one thing for you to hold an honest opinion it’s quite another for you to concoct your own scenarios to prove them.And please stop telling me what I think, you’re a terrible mind reader.

          • Robb

            Ggreg wrote: It is also a fact that the unemployment rate dropped for 53 months after the tax cuts.
             
            That’s it? only 53 months?
             
            Believe it or not, economic expansions occur ALL the time WITHOUT tax cuts. THAT too is reality. You have NO causal link to prove your claim tax cuts have some unique power to stimulate the economy any more than you can prove a tax hike must slow the economy down.

            You’re just regurgitating the empty claim  the Right concocted to justify such irresponsible tax cuts. If tax cuts were so vital why the deep recession 6 months after Reagan announced his plan? Why the dismal Reagan failure to produce the new jobs he claimed would be created by 1986? Why was job creation 1.5 million jobs BELOW what he claimed would happen if Carter’s policies were extended? Why didn’t the Clinton tax hike created a recession as the GOP predicted? The economy did just fine. And of course there’s the biggest example of tax cut failure: Bush2. At best it was a lukewarm economy resulting in a disastrous collapse of the economy. That plus 5 trillion in debt. Wow! Color me impressed! Yet this Orwellian Right has the gall to go to the American Public and say the cure for the mess they made is to plunge DEEPER into this Right wing insanity.

          • Ggerg

            Dude, you really ought to stop putting words in my mouth and then disparaging the things you say I think. All I said was the tax cuts dropped the unemployment rate and brought in more revenue. It’s undeniable. You call them “irresponsible” fine, if that’s what you think but that is the regurgitated, unprovable, contrary to history talking point. 

            I did not say they were the end all be all every time. I did not say tax hikes were never appropriate. I’ve admitted over and over Clinton’s tax hikes worked in peacetime with a responsible Congress and an inflating bubble. If you want to talk seriously about what caused the collapse then look to the banking and housing meltdowns. No one but no one will look at you with a straight face and say that tax cuts years prior trumped the fallout from those issues. Even you can’t possibly believe that. Now if you want to talk about the root causes, we certainly can waste time doing so but you will loose that argument.

            Obama had two years to raise taxes and in truth he did but not the rates on the wealthy or anyone else. Why? Because despite majorities in Congress he did not have the votes nor the basis to sell the idea to garner the votes. It was never going to happen because it’s a horrible idea in this economy. I mean now. Not in the Clinton years, not in the Reagan years. Now, that’s where we are… at least some of us.

          • Robb

            Ggreg wrote: All I said was the tax cuts dropped the unemployment rate and brought in more revenue. It’s undeniable.

            What it is, is MEANINGLESS. More revenue than WHAT? Bush’s own depressed baseline? This is the same Orwellian nonsense the  Right used in the 80′s to make Reagan paltry revenues look bigger. That and dishonestly including revenue from those massive Reagan tax HIKES in 82 and 83 as “proof” of a supply side revenue boom.  

          • Robb

            Ggreg wrote: How would inflation and population growth create jobs?
             
            I believe I said once a new tax policy is set, REVENUE can grow from inflation, population growth alone.

            You just won’t let go of that false assumption that if revenue eventually goes up after a tax cut it’s “proof” the tax cuts work miracles. Again, that it took SEVEN years for Bush revenues in constant dollars to finally exceed Clinton’s last year is proof tax cuts do what they are intended to do: CUT REVENUE. That too is reality… not your Orwellian fantasy that we can never know what revenue would have been collected without those tax cuts… therefore it’s unfair to believe tax cuts cut ANY revenue. And you say I have no need for reality or my arguments are irrational? 

          • Ggerg

            And while you are crediting inflation save yourself further embarrassment and go look up what inflation actually was while revenue was rising after the tax cuts.

          • Robb

            No embarrassment here G. I’m not the one peddling Orwellian Math that 7 YEARS of lower revenues than Clinton’s last year is proof all those irresponsible Bush tax cuts RAISED revenues. The Right tried this back in the 80′s and people like you believed it… so why wouldn’t they try it again! And speaking of Orwellian Math, you haven’t to my knowledge tried peddling that other tried and true distortion that the rich were being soaked after tax cuts designed to benefit them… because they paid a larger percentage of the “tax burden”!

          • Robb

            Ggreg wrote:  We are in deep doo doo after two years of Obama. Why don’t you ever mention  or defend him?

            Most of the fiscal irrationality in the US these past 3 decades has been the domain of the Right.

            And more rewriting of history? The economy went into a death spiral under Bush.
             
            You love to say Bush2 “inherited” a recession which is NOT the case. It officially began in March 01. You make all sorts of excuses for Bush claiming 911 annihilated the financial sector. Utter hogwash. There’s a difference between the financial sector not handling problems well and it collapsing.

            However BUSH certainly annihilated  the financial sector in just about every sense of the word. THAT’S the world Obama inherited. It’s worst than anything Reagan inherited as well. All he had to deal with were high oil prices and tight money from the Fed.  And Obama has to deal with a rabid Right GOP that can take NO responsibility for their central role in the 08 disaster. They are so irrational they believe their own failures during the Bush Junta were because they weren’t insane enough. When I look at the GOP lunatics in Washington and the irrationality they generate in their followers, I can see hints of that dynamic that led to the Third Reich.  
             
            BTW I didn’t vote for Obama. I don’t think of him as anything but the lesser of the evils. His stimulus was too small and not front loaded, he’s not exposed the pathology of the Right even if it nearly destroyed the nation. He can’t even bother educating the public on how low revenues have been the last 10 years to make the case for more revenue. I think he’s playing a class card proposing the restoration of the Clinton tax levels on the rich. If ALL the Bush tax cuts were irresponsible then why keep any of them! I want OUR generation to start paying for the mess WE made… not putting off debt paydown for 10-20 more years.
             

          • Ggerg

            Some say March, some say the prior October, many say somewhere in between, it doesn’t matter. Bush’s policies could not have caused it. BTW neither did Clinton’s, but Bush inherited a recession. I’m done with you, it’s pointless to  continue. You’re a lost cause. I am not so concerned with convincing ideologues, I’ll settle with defeating them in 2012 as we did in 2010. Let conservative principles fix things and you can thank us later.

    • Modavations

      Lower the taxes and you get more economic activity,which yields more tax revenue.Is not tapping the Strategic Oil Supply, a tax cut.

      • Robb

        WHERE’S THE PROOF!!! The Right constantly claims this but knowing the economy tends to grow from population alone, how do you separate signal from noise? When we actually compare Clinton’s economy and revenues with higher taxes to Bush2 with slashed taxes… we do NOT see what you claim. Where’s the evidence from the Reagan economy? He predicted in Feb 81
        http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=43427
        that his policies would create 13 million new jobs by 1986. Six months later the economy slipped into the deepest recession since the 30′s with 10.8% unemployment by December 82. That’s HIGHER than even with Obama who had to deal with the collapse of the financial sector.
        Those new Reagan jobs? Only about 8.4 million… 1.5 million LESS than he claimed would be created under Carter’s old policies.  Yet I bet you think Voodoo Economic was a success… right?  
         
        No matter what the Orwellian Right claims, tax cuts were NEVER a free lunch. But that’s the only way to sell such an irresponsible policy… and people like you gobble it up.  
         

      • Anonymous

        Please see tax revenue figures above.  Collected tax revenue figures.  Ike wins even with a smaller population & CEO/Exec compensation 40-100x smaller than today!

      • Melvina

        Bush’s tax cuts have been in place for ten years, yet the economy crashed anyway.  So where’s the jobs?  Where’s the growth of business?  …in China.

        • Modavations

          Nonsense.My best years were 2000-20004

          • Robb

            M wrote, presumably with a straight face:
            Nonsense. My best years were 2000-20004

            So M, if YOU did well for 3 of Bush’s 8 years 2000-2004… about 37% of his two terms, then you’re presenting that as PROOF our jobs have NOT been moving to China and the economy did NOT crash and burn under Bush in 08?

            My god! Are there any rational Right wingers out there?

            Didn’t think so.

      • Melvina

        Bush’s tax cuts have been in place for ten years, yet the economy crashed anyway.  So where’s the jobs?  Where’s the growth of business?  …in China.

  • Modavations

    Class,
          I now turn you over to Professor Ggreg,I’m back to work.

  • Anonymous

    Gosh. What happened? 2 people who talk as if they have figured out that consumers that have no $$$ to spend aren’t consumers any more!

    Reminder on gov’t tax revenues: note the most consistent high period for revenues is still the Ike period when the top marginal rate was in the 90% range:

    http://www.usgovernmentrevenue.com/downchart_gr.php?year=1950_2010&view=1&expand&units=p&fy=fy12&chart=F1-fed&bar=0&stack=1&size=m&title&state=US&color=c&local=sThank you Mr. Djelten for breaking with the DC ‘common wisdom” from WaPo & Fox.

  • Chandra

    The one thing that characterizes the whole debate is the greed and lack of guts on the heroes (business class and the political class) on both sides of the argument. I, for one, am glad that these guys are not fighting our wars – they would either sell out or turn their tails and run.

  • Fredlinskip

    “Head in the Sand economics” is an apt name for economic discussion today.    I believe the root of our problems stem form when 40 years ago Ronnie Reagan was able to push through congress economic policy that involved lowering taxes, greatest peacetime military spending in American history, and claiming deficit would decrease and economy would improve. Brilliant!    His budget director David Stockman told him he was dreaming. National debt rose over 300% under Reagan. (meanwhile GNP had grown at a lower rate than under Carter).        Why is this relevant? because these are the same issues that come up again and again.         I know we’ve got a lot of resources, but how many times can we run our economy into a brick wall, repeating the same old “trickle up” mantras that never worked. Borrow and Spend and Deregulate- that’s all the GOP has offered us for 40 years and they want it to continue- Brilliant!    Greenspan finally admitted in Senate hearing after financial meltdown that allowing corporations to regulate themselves was wrong- little late, weren’t you there Al?    The economy can’t improve with policies that consolidate wealth at the top.    How stupid is stupid?!

  • Celine

    Very interesting conversation.  Obama, make Johnson Treasury Secretary, and let’s get on with it.  Sanity COULD rule.

    Excellent hosting, Tom, brother.

  • Joan

    Amazing, how the Republican leadership continues to spout “no new taxes” and how “poison” they would be the economy -when poll after 
    poll shows both Republican & Democratic voters favor a tax increase on those who can afford it. This is where the public is leaving the
    politicians behind and demanding tax equality and reform…..Joan

    • Robb

      When the GOP claims that raising taxes will prevent a recovery when times a bad yet also create a recession when times are good… it’s just a no tax hike EVER position. So when the excuses don’t make sense, we’re forced to look beyond the word for a hidden agenda.

      It’s not hard to find.
       
      While the GOP uses the old language of fiscal conservatism, they are sabotaging the fiscal health of the federal government. The GOP has set on a strategy to create as much debt as possible to benefit their constituency hoping that debt will limit the Democrats and eventually kill off their programs. They believe now is the time to go in for the kill. That is why they are so desperate to there be “no new revenues”. Like with Bush2 who sabotaged debt paydown, they need that growing debt as leverage.   

      The Dems refuse to mount an effective response because they’re too cowardly, worried about the “tax and spend” lable… even as the GOP has gotten away with being borrow and spenders. Even Obama doesn’t bother to educate the public that in constant dollars revenues for the past DECADE have been virtually flat.
       
      But then Dem strategists are idiots. After 30 YEARS they still have not come to grips with the Right’s strategy… grow the debt, pack the courts, suppress the Democratic vote, and defund the Democratic Party by destroying unions and going after trial lawyers.

      And so the nation drifts to the right with even Dems like Clinton and Obama supporting free trade and deregulation… even though both have proven to be disasters.   
        

  • Melvina

    Why do I feel like Wall Street is running our country and our lives.  Why must every decision be based on the bottom line and the CEOs and stock holders’ profits?  What happened to customer satisfaction? to standing behind their products and services? To price control through supply and demand?  Now prices are inflated by speculators.

    Big business has gotten around the anti monopoly laws by forming cartels instead.  Each big industry (oil, insurance, pharmacy, etc) keep buying up all their competition so that a handful of global conglomerates are running the show, and buying politicians and SCOTUS justices to make the rules in their favor.

    And through it all, average Americans lose out at every turn.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

      Corporations, like most individuals, will act in their own best interest, or at least what they think it is, however short sighted currently. The real change needs to come in the rules of the game. All corporations opporate within some external guidelines. We just have to set up the guidelines so that businesses are able to operate and be profitable, but other interests are required to be factored in… such as rules for the introduction of new drugs or more generally, public safety.

      We are running our lives. Over 70% of our economy is based on consumer spending and provision of services directly to consumers. The choices we make as consumers (especially the choice not to consume) have a huge impact on what business will do.  We spend more on pet food in this country than foreign aid (I’m not saying spend less on pets, I’m saying we can do both). If we decided to buy economic security for those at “the bottom” we would raise the bottom and get to the bottom of the “race to the bottom” much faster. Once that happens, and capital has no where to run for cheaper labor, power will again flow back to labor… not all of it of course, but there will be a more reasonable balance between capital and labor and labor will become more expensive. 

      • Melvina

        Corporations are driving how consumers spend as well.  With stagnant wages, rising insurance, health, gas, and food costs, WalMart and Target thrive with their cheap goods while small businesses can’t compete.  WalMart has had some towns take property by eminent domain, local businesses can’t compete and go under, which drivse down wages when the only jobs left are working for WalMart.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505419549 Scott Simpson

      Corporations, like most individuals, will act in their own best interest, or at least what they think it is, however short sighted currently. The real change needs to come in the rules of the game. All corporations opporate within some external guidelines. We just have to set up the guidelines so that businesses are able to operate and be profitable, but other interests are required to be factored in… such as rules for the introduction of new drugs or more generally, public safety.

      We are running our lives. Over 70% of our economy is based on consumer spending and provision of services directly to consumers. The choices we make as consumers (especially the choice not to consume) have a huge impact on what business will do.  We spend more on pet food in this country than foreign aid (I’m not saying spend less on pets, I’m saying we can do both). If we decided to buy economic security for those at “the bottom” we would raise the bottom and get to the bottom of the “race to the bottom” much faster. Once that happens, and capital has no where to run for cheaper labor, power will again flow back to labor… not all of it of course, but there will be a more reasonable balance between capital and labor and labor will become more expensive. 

  • Melvina

    Why do I feel like Wall Street is running our country and our lives.  Why must every decision be based on the bottom line and the CEOs and stock holders’ profits?  What happened to customer satisfaction? to standing behind their products and services? To price control through supply and demand?  Now prices are inflated by speculators.

    Big business has gotten around the anti monopoly laws by forming cartels instead.  Each big industry (oil, insurance, pharmacy, etc) keep buying up all their competition so that a handful of global conglomerates are running the show, and buying politicians and SCOTUS justices to make the rules in their favor.

    And through it all, average Americans lose out at every turn.

  • http://www.jobwaltz.com JobWaltz.com

    Jason from Buffalo nailed it. The economic establishment follows neo-liberal policies that benefit the elites, while penalizing savers and the poor and middle class. The economists on the show are from the status quot and they represent more of the same mismanagement. We need sound money and free markets to return to growth and prosperity.

    Stuck in a job you don’t like? Let us help you find a better one. http://www.jobwaltz.com for premium job search assistance. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/nlandess Nick Landess

    Dr. Simon Johnson:”If you think that going back to 90% tax rates is a good idea …”

    I call “SHENANIGANS.”  This is an AWFUL straw man argument.  NO ONE IS PROPOSING THIS.  NO ONE IS SAYING IT IS A GOOD IDEA.

    Listening to this show on the radio, I was furious that this comment was allowed to pass unchallenged.  On the one hand, a proposal – articulated, seconded, and supported by millions of people – to roll back (or let expire) recent tax cuts effectively raising tax rates by ~9% to 11% on people making in excess of $200k/ year.  On the other, a proposal – articulated, seconded, and supported by NO ONE – to increase tax rates by over 100%.  How is this proposal even part of the discussion or argument?  All it does is obfuscate the issue.

    If I were having a discussion with someone who supported the war on drugs, who supported mandatory minimum sentences, and I re-phrased their argument thus:”So everyone who smokes a joint should be executed?”  I would be no more guilty of a perversion of rhetoric and logic than Dr. Johnson here.

    • Ggerg

      You are right regarding Congress but many on this blog many do suggest 90% rates. The latest is Kiep99 a few comments down.

      • Nick Landess

        I am not sure about Kiep99 – but basically 99% of the time when I hear this issue brought up, it is in reference to some conservative platitude about how Reagan proved that lowering tax rates increases government revenue, and high tax rates prohibits innovation or economic prosperity.  Pointing out that the high tax rates of the post war era did not prevent economic success – as a counter argument to some fake history about Reagan economic policies – is NOT the same thing as arguing for the return of those policies, but is a way of saying “your argument is bull pucky.”

        I have yet to hear ANYONE rationally and seriously argue for a return to the tax code, and rates, of the 50′s.  This is a straw man argument at its worst.

    • Cabmanjohnny
  • Marka

    The debt crisis will never be solved unless we get money out of politics!! Something that will unfortunately, most likely never happen!!

    • Robb

      The problem in the US is deeper than mere money in politics. We can have  100% public financing100% voter age participation100% vote count accuracy and  a candidate REJECTED by the People can still be installed as president changing US and world history WITHOUT the consent of the governed, and 18% of the population will still get a majority in the Senate. With Gerrymandering a party can get as much as 70% of a state’s House seats with 51% of the vote. Then there is the problem that our two party system fails to provide voters with the most fundamental right in a democracy: the right to vote our conscience and be guaranteed some representation. Of course all of the above problems will never be solved without Constitutional amendments which means they’ll never be solved. Our intellectually braindead system will continue even if voting participation drops to 30% of the voting age population. We have an intellectually braindead system that’s both anti-democratic and reform-proof. Yikes! As for money? Given how dysfunctional our system is, even with public financing, I suspect the rich and connected will find some other way to influence politicians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1345445749 Christine Eggers

    The cost of MC/MA could be greatly reduced by taking them out of the consumer based HC system and integrating them into the VA system.  We have a gov’t run HC infrastructure in the form of VA.  Gov’t monies should not be being used in the private health care system.  Gov’t does not reimburse adequately to meet operating costs, shifting those costs to private pay and private insurers, as well as creating the impetus for fraudulent practices from cherry picking profitable patients to outright falsification of services.  Having a closed gov’t system would relieve those practices and costs.  We cannot take HC entirely out of the GDP, in the form of a totally socialized HC system, because a sudden shrinkage of US GDP by ~50% would be devastating to the world economy, as I understand it.  I appreciate the obstacles to combining gov’t departments, but it is not impossible.  It is a pragmatic way of maintaining the program of providing HC to the most vulnerable while dramatically reducing the costs of those programs.   

  • Gonzoscafe

    This is the Most Intellent discussion of what’s happening I have heard anywhere.  Keep up the good work, and do not forget; in reality Money DOES NOT EXIST!!!

  • Wm. James from Missouri

    More Info for Billo (rhyming madness), on my coin idea below.———-As of May 23, 2011 from the net
    Researchers in Germany have set a new data transfer record for using a single laser. The 26 terabits per second speed reached means that the entire US Library of Congress collections would take only 10 seconds to transfer. Researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany used what is known as a “fast Fourier transform” to unpick more than 300 separate colors of light in a laser beam, each encoded with its own string of information …..———-Billo, “would access to the entire US Library of Congress be without value”?You might consider reading Edward DeBono’s ‘ New Think’ or any book on lateral thinking. Like I have inferred in my post below. Too many in power today are not using their noggins. They are living in the past.

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Aug 27, 2014
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