Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Reality can be defined as the 'norms' that your community agrees on.... Do you believe in witches and demons? How about 'trickle down economics'? Of course some 'realities' work better than others. The laws of nature tend to favor 'actual reality' over the ones that only exist in certain peoples' twisted world view, but over the short term utter nonsense can seem real, and even drive actual 'reality' to places we can't imagine.

We're in one of those places in time where 'reality' is being defined by consensus. We have a Federal budget in the $4 trillion range, a number that seems like magic to people who count only on their digits (fingers and toes). To be fair, it's not a number you can actually 'think' about. You have to use certain tricks of the mind to make it into a useful concept, or you can just use accounting....

We are creating about $1 trillion a year in new Federal debt, this freaks out the tea baggers. They didn't notice when Bush was creating debt at twice that rate, or when Reagan was doing it at twice that rate in today's dollars. You see it's all about 'creating' reality. Numbers are funny that way.

The Republicans are trying to create the 'reality' where where we simply default on the debt they created. If they can really make this 'happen', then civilization as we know it will end. You see the 'debt ceiling' crisis isn't about paying the 'bills', it's about paying the interest on Ronald Reagan's debt. He ran it up from less than a trillion dollars to 4 trillion while he was President. That would be 12 trillion in today's dollars.  Yeah..... when the right makes a big deal about Obama having a $16 trillion dollar debt, it's really Ronald Reagan's debt that they are talking about. That 'welfare' state that they obsess about? The interest on Reagan's debt comes in at twice what that costs every year, has been for 30 years.

Obama has cut the operating deficit to the point that if the economy were to recover we would be pretty close to running a surplus. The question is whether the economy will be allowed to recover. A default on Ronald Reagan's debt would make that unlikely, that's why the billionaires are trying to make that a 'reality'.

The good news is that Democrats in Washington seem to be catching onto 'reality'. Nancy Pelosi is talking about the 14th amendment, Barack Obama has said that Congress cannot refuse to pay for the spending they've authorized. This is 'reality' talk.

If you haven't heard about the 14th amendment, one of things in it says is that the debt of the United States cannot be questioned no matter how it was incurred. Basically, if Congress says that the Executive Branch should spend the money, they can't refuse to pay the bills later. That amendment was written to cover the debts of the Civil War, but has no limitation. The debts run up for every war since are similarly covered, The Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq again, it includes every real, and every phony war that we've ever been involved in. That would also include the war against the middle class by the rich.

We've always paid our debts, going all the way back to the debts run up by the Continental Congress to pay for the exploits of George Washington. If you haven't heard of him, his likeness is on the dollar and the quarter. He was a liberal, that's something else you aren't supposed to know in this 'reality'.

That 'reality' is that we don't have a 'debt problem', we have a revenue problem. Corporations are hoarding 5 trillion in cash, rich people are hoarding more trillions in offshore accounts.

In another area where reality is being redefined, the the average temperature in the US for 2012 was one degree above the previous all time record, and three degrees above the average year in the 20th century. In Australia, scientists have had to add a new range of colors to the weather maps, shades of purple now define temperatures above 130 degrees. Back in the US, Kansas had the distinction of experiencing summer temperatures higher than the normal temperatures of Death Valley. Not in the 'purple' range yet, but the century is young.

In the end we will have the 'reality' that we choose as a community. Have you decided?  www.prairie2.com


Doghouse said...

This is a great post...
I've talked to some of the tea baggers where I work and I have used the phrase "Ronald Reagan's debt" in arguments with them before without to much luck. Another argument, or phrase, I like to use is "trickle down debt" or "trickle down deficits". Because the trickle down theory and the deficits are tightly linked, you know, cause and affect.

Anyway best of luck in the new year...

Dave said...

There is a lot of talk in the public sphere of a revenue problem and/or a spending problem. These discussions cloud the real issue.

Simply put, too much wealth, as humanity defines it, is in too few hands. Those financial resources need to be more equitably distributed and more of them need to be collected to take care of the commons.


People who work for a living need to be paid well enough so they have an interest abiding by social order.

Taxes need to be collected and used to improve our communities and to help us all live on an increasingly unstable planet.

It's not OK for some to have seven homes while others are hungry. It's also not OK for there not to be enough money to move our power-grid underground while there is enough to afford letting mega-corporations pay no taxes.