Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

The real political debate is between optimists and pessimists.

The most newsworthy debate these days isn’t between the Republicans and the Democrats, between the Tea Party Republicans and the Republican establishment, or between the progressive Democratic base and President Obama. Rather, it’s the debate between the optimists and the pessimists about America, and, internally, between the optimistic and pessimistic tendencies of individual Americans.

Sunny Sam: Well, not bad for controlling one half of one-third of the federal government. We got the Democrats to agree to trillions of dollars in spending cuts without any tax increases.

Gloomy Gus: Yeah, some deal. President Obama is going to run through the $2.1 trillion in additional borrowing in two years of spending a trillion a year more than the government takes in, with those stimulus-inflated baselines of twice the federal government’s size at the end of the Clinton administration. At $17 trillion, the federal debt will be more than 100 percent of our $15 trillion GDP. Never mind the Greece comparison; start reading up on Weimar Germany. And that’s just the accumulated debt—never mind all we owe in terms of obligations in Social Security and health care to the aging baby boomers. We’re totally insolvent.

As for the spending “cuts” in that deal, or any of these deals, they are just promises, over 10 years. And the defense cuts in there will guarantee American decline. The White House bragged the deal is “the first defense cut Since the 1990s.” Read Texas governor Rick Perry’s book about that. Perry writes that “most” of the “spending restraint” during the Gingrich-led Congress “came from not fighting President Clinton's efforts to cut military spending.” That didn’t work out too well for American defense when September 2001 rolled around.

Sunny Sam: Aw, come on. This Weimar stuff is put out by money managers and talk radio hosts with financial interests in selling gold, or in that TBT exchange traded fund that shorts Treasury bills. If people are willing to loan the American government money at near-zero interest rates, we might as well take it from them. It’s better than raising taxes. And if you’re going to talk about future obligations, you have to think about future revenue, as well. Plenty of households and companies can handle big debt loads—but they also have future earning power.

As for the defense cuts, again, come on. We can cut plenty out of the Pentagon and still have the world’s mightiest military by far.

Gloomy Gus:
Oh yeah? What about the Chinese? While we’re getting ready to slash our military because we’re totally broke, the Chinese are getting ready to launch their first aircraft carrier.

And if you think it’s just gold-coin salesmen and talk radio hosts who are worried about federal spending and debt levels, what about Bill Gates and the Silicon Valley venture capitalists at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers? The Microsoft founder said last week, citing a Kleiner Perkins presentation, that “the United States is headed toward bankruptcy unless we act decisively.”

Sunny Sam:
Yeah, “act decisively” is code for the tax increases some of these Silicon Valley types want so there’s still plenty of government money to subsidize their green energy investments. As for China, their per capita GDP is in the $4,400 range, while ours is in the $47,000 range. On a person for person basis, our economy is 10 times stronger than theirs. And Europe is in even deeper economic and fiscal trouble than we are, so they’re not a threat, either. America has been in bad recessions before—the 1970s, the early 1980s, the Great Depression, the post-Nasdaq Crash and post September 11 attack early 2000s—and we always seem to find our way out of them.

Gloomy Gus:
Yeah, but Americans had more character and toughness then and better leaders. We’ve become a nation of lazy couch potatoes, indoctrinated by left-wing professors.

Sunny Sam:
Well, don’t underestimate the American people.

Gloomy Gus:
Who do you think elected the politicians who got us into this mess?

Sunny Sam:
Who do you think has the power to throw them out?

Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and author of
Samuel Adams: A Life.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Tim||

    The glass is half full- of shit.

  • fyngyrz||

    "The real political debate is between optimists and pessimists."

    There is no real political debate. It's all circus showmanship to keep the masses quiescent. It works, too.

  • Lib'tarian||

    No contest. We're all pessimists.

    Next.

  • Spencer||

    This was silly.

  • PALEACRITA||

    The “Link” between Evolution and Abortion

    BY WAYNE JACKSON

    Many people do not realize that there is a nexus between belief in the theory of evolution, and the horrible practice of abortion — at least in the minds of some.
    A common argument popularly employed in defense of the theory of evolution — especially in years past — is the “recapitulation” principle. Technically it is known as “ontogeny [individual development] recapitulates [repeats] phylogeny [evolution of the species].” The gist of this concept is that in the growth of the human fetus, during the nine-month gestation period, the major stages of evolutionary history are repeated in miniature fashion.
    The argument actually is somewhat obsolete, and that is why some evolutionists decline to employ it in today’s world of biotechnical sophistication. More than forty years ago, George G. Simpson of Harvard, in concert with his colleagues, conceded that: "It is now firmly established that ontogeny does not repeat phylogeny. . . " (Simpson, et al., p. 352, emp. in orig.).
    Be that as it may, evolutionists are not above resurrecting this defunct argument whenever they feel it suits their purpose. A case in point several years ago involved the prominent astronomer Carl Sagan, widely known for his PBS television series, Cosmos.
    In April 1990, the late Dr. Sagan, in company with his wife, Ann Druyan, produced a piece for the weekly Parade magazine. Therein the authors contended for the ethical permissibility of human abortion on the ground that the fetus, growing within a woman’s body for several months following conception, is not a human being. The conclusion drawn, therefore, was this: The killing of this tiny creature is not an act of murder.
    What was the basis of this assertion? Without overtly saying so, Sagan and Druyan argued their case by subtly suggesting the concept of embryonic recapitulation.
    Progressively, they described the development of the fertilized human egg in terms of “a kind of parasite” that eventually begins to look like a “segmented worm.” Further alteration reveals “gill arches” like that of a “fish or amphibian.” Supposedly “reptilian” features become apparent subsequently, which later give way to “mammalian. . . pig-like” traits. By the end of two months, the creature resembles a “primate but is still not quite human” (p. 6; emp. added).
    The argument thus employed is wholly specious, has long been discredited, yet graphically reveals the current desperation of those rationalists who disregard the sanctity of human life.
    Sources
    Sagan, Carl and Ann Druyan (1990), “The Question of Abortion,” Parade Magazine, April 22.
    Simpson, G.G., C.S. Pittendrigh and L.H. Tiffany (1957), Life: An Introduction to Biology (New York: Harcourt, Brace & Company).

  • PALEACRITA's mom||

    "Sanctity" is a bit strong.

  • Anecdotal ||

    Umm.... I think you meant to post this abortion opinion piece somewhere else? Or is this just spam from the christian coalition?

  • Max's Mom||

    Max, have you seen my nail-polish remover?

  • fish||

    Hey we're not funding this shit with tax dollars are we?

  • ||

    This shit is hypnotic. I can't tell if it's genius, madness, or both.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The boundary between genius and madness is razor-thin.

  • ||

    Idiot Savant?

  • jacob||

    that's the line between stupid and genius

  • George W. Bush||

    Lets get some good nigger and Jew hate goin' on boys! Its the libertarian tradicion!

  • "Jose Gomez"||

    Hugo? Hugo Chavez?

  • MediaMatters||

    What Bush said!

  • ||

    "tradicion"? ¿Por qué español?

  • Lib'tarian||

    We're like Mikey. We hate everything.

  • wef||

    Of Sunny Sam and Gloomy Gus, which is the terrorist again?

  • ­||

    Angry Ali.

  • Achmed the Dead Terrorist||

    SILENCE!!!

    I keel you.

  • jacob||

    Walter's farts!! RUN!!

  • The Ghost of Ambrose Bierce||

    A moving line called the Present parts [the Past] from an imaginary period known as the Future. These two grand divisions of Eternity, of which the one is continually effacing the other, are entirely unlike. The one is dark with sorrow and disappointment, the other bright with prosperity and joy. The Past is the region of sobs, the Future is the realm of song. In the one crouches Memory, clad in sackcloth and ashes, mumbling penitential prayer; in the sunshine of the other Hope flies with a free wing, beckoning to temples of success and bowers of ease. Yet the Past is the Future of yesterday, the Future is the Past of to-morrow. They are one — the knowledge and the dream.

  • some guy||

    We can cut plenty out of the Pentagon and still have the world’s mightiest military by far.

    Who says we need the strongest military in the world? We just need a military strong enough to convince others that we aren't worth messing with.

    Hm... what would happen if we did away with most of our standing army/navy and just maintained enough nukes to wipe out a continent. Then we made it clear to rest of the world that our defense strategy was to annihilate anyone who invaded us. Otherwise, our military would stay within our borders. How would that turn out? It would certainly be cheaper than our current system...

  • ||

  • some guy||

    I see your Nuke the Moon and raise you a Nuke Mars! There's even a petition...

    http://www.petitiononline.com/.....ition.html

  • ­||

    I'm no expert, but I think that strategy might be flawed.

  • some guy||

    ...flawed.

    More-so or less-so than our current strategy?

  • Travis Bickle||

    Are you talking to me?

  • Realist ||

    Yes!

  • Rev. Blue Moon||

    What about those of us who believe that the "cuts" are largely fictitious, think that is a bad thing, but still have no interest in gold-hawkers and other wide-eyed scaremongerers? Do we have a cute name? Ricky Realist?

  • ||

    You probably need to do some more reading about what a fiscal collapse by the US government would entail.

    If you aren't scared, you aren't paying attention. And yeah, yeah, I know things are never as bad as they look, but even discounting the badness factor, our fiscal future is pretty fucking bad.

  • ||

    But the "fiscal future" is good with continued unsustainable spending? Make up your mind, either the tea partiers will run us off a cliff or the deficit spenders will. If we must go off a cliff, let's go off quickly on principle rather than the metastasis of socialism. Perhaps we can get it right on the re-build or all move to Costa Rica.

  • ||

    Yah, I prefer the tea partier cliff too. It looks steep and their are rocks at the bottom but the ravine isn't very wide.

    The other ravine is buried in mists to the horizons.

  • ||

    We got the Democrats to agree to trillions of dollars in spending cuts without any tax increases.

    Sunny Sam? Should have named him stupid shit-head. Not. A. Penny. Was. Cut.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    The glass is neither full or empty.

    Washington drank the water and smashed the glass over the American people's heads.

  • George W. Bush||

    He he he he!

    That nigger ain't got a chance.

  • Realist ||

    "The real political debate is between optimists and pessimists."
    No, it's a debate two groups of idiots

  • Realist ||

    Or...No, it's a debate between two groups of idiots.

  • BakedPenguin||

    The first one was good. We often debate 2 groups of idiots.

  • Trident||

    Have you seen the size of the state, and whether its tendency is to be grown or shrunk?

    Optimists are ignorant assholes.

  • George W. Bush||

    Stupid nigger! I left him holding the bag!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Not selling well, is it, "Bush"?

  • ||

    Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

    There is no glass.

  • George W. Bush||

    I hate Jews and niggers too. Lets stop this shit now.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Kilgore Trout? Is that you?

  • jacob||

    ITs the ghost of Sheets Byrd from WV

  • jacob||

    ITs the ghost of Sheets Byrd from WV

  • confused||

    Why is a libertarian site always flooded with comments from anarchists?

  • CE||

    Who said this was a libertarian site? "Free minds and free markets" wouldn't seem to preclude anarchists, and they even let MNG and Tony post.

  • Trident||

    Both anarchists and minarchists are libertarians. Unlike minarchists, anarchists just happen to have a problem with thinking that while a large tumor is really bad, a small tumor is a necessary evil that we must maintain but always keep from growing. Or maybe it's like saying we need to keep paying extortion money to mob enforcers just to keep the petty thieves away.

    Of course, what they're going to do to stop a small government from growing is never explained. After all, look at how big it is now, and they can't do a damn thing about it now either, nor could they in the past.

  • Edwin||

    and minarchists, unlike anarchists, understand that there is no magical tome in the sky written that directly lays out every little detail of "human rights" and that it will always have to be decided by people, and that people will never come to unanimous agreement on what they are, and do not get over these disagreements as easily and peacefully as they love to imply.

    Minarchists realize that as soon as you start admitting to the necessity of "courts" and "discussions", where you implicitly assume the legitimacy of consensus in determining judgement, you have indeed already admitted to governments, which have a monopoly on JUDGEMENT.

  • Trident||

    Thanks.

    You just explained why minarchists make the same case for big government that they make for small government, albeit without either realizing or accepting it.

    After all, if consensus by a majority is reached (since there is no such thing as a complete consensus on that level) that 60% of your income should be taxed, then by god, the minarchist will submit to it both logically and morally. Whatever the majority wants.

    After all, if the consensus among the people (aka collectivism) doesn't decide, then who would, and by what right? Who gave them this right? At least now i know that minarchism simply equals democracy, so i fail to see the point of the word minarchism. Why not just accept that the majority wants their troops invading foreign countries, and their welfare checks? Isn't this the consensus you were talking about? Or are minarchists suddenly pooh poohing the consensus when it is not convenient? Despite what they may like, they can't pick and choose where a consensus crosses some boundaries. Either you believe that the consensus of a majority is the ultimate arbiter, or you believe in something no consensus can violate. In the case of the latter, you have sabotaged your own point about consensus because you arguing that someone, somehow, can overrule it. And then you have put the power over others in the hands of rulers, or the power of self-rule in the hand of anarchistic individuals.

    This is what minarchists will never get. Their arguments will always and forever be self-defeating and contradictory, and when pushed their vision of morality will always be based on the same quicksand that non-libertarians base their morality on.

    You are either pro-anarchism/voluntarism, or you you are pro-democracy-no-matter-what, or you are pro-ruler (because that is what someone is that has more decision making power than a majority). There are no other options.

    P.S. That thing about anarchism believing in a "magical tome in the sky that lays out human rights" is a strawman. Anarchists do not believe in a "one size fits all" ideology for everyone. You want to be a socialist? Fine, go be one. Just don't send any armed people to steal the funds you need from me. You can believe in your wretched ideals on your own dime.
    If i have to explain something so simple to minarchists, it merely proves my point about how little they understand about the non aggression principle they claim to appreciate.

  • CE||

    The money glass is completely empty. Taxpayers grudgingly fill it up 4 times per year, but politicians empty it out 7 times per year, borrowing the other 3 glasses worth, and promising that the taxpayers will repay it all someday, somehow.

  • Almanian||

    Well, that sucked. Never, ever post anything by this hack again, please. Thanks.

  • Mr. Spock||

    Neither. The glass is at fifty percent of capacity.

  • Obvioius ||

    You mean 50 percent spare capacity.

  • Data||

    It would appear that this attempt to spin what is known as a rhetorical question has only served to obfuscate the truth that whenever a country spends much more than it could logically take in, severe inflation and insolvency will follow.

  • jordan||

    Your future depends on your dreams.

  • HMFIC||

    I was going to care about the debt limit. Then I decided to just continue living the rest of my life.

  • Mbt Outlet||

    sera

  • polo ||

    polo sale

  • ||

    What I'm most afraid of is a collapse that's followed by another progressive government that starts doing the same shit the old one was doing.

    What's the guarantee limited government types are taking over when the dust settles?

  • ||

    The following statements should, in fact, read as follows:

    Gloomy Gus: Yeah, but Americans had more character and toughness then and better leaders. We’ve become a nation of lazy couch potatoes, indoctrinated by greedy capitalists and bought off politicians to to be satisfied with pro sports, NASCAR, IT toys, video games and lousy, cheap beer.

    Sunny Sam: Well, nobody ever went broke underestimating the average intelligence of the American people.

  • قبلة الوداع||

    ThaNk U

  • saraugg||

    nobody ever went broke underestimating the average

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